Thursday, January 04, 2007

New year, new order of business?

Already, 2007 is the best and worst of times! To have a music icon bid a final farewell over the holidays--for Soul Brother #1 to leave us at Christmas, is poetic. (And, personally, odd, as my relatives were on a James Brown vibe Christmas Eve, spinning his records and not letting them go. Wonder if my cousin knew something I didn't; probably not, as she's not the one in the family who claims to have premonitions, and the one who does, didn't see this one coming.) Not to be too morbid, but you knew that his service was going to have an open casket, so that people would believe that JB was no longer in the land of the living. (Imagine the conspiracy theories that would have occurred otherwise...)


To hear of former President Gerald Ford's passing added to the post-holiday damper. While I was unable to view his body, the Ford family did the country proud in honoring his memory. I have the sinking feeling that the Ford children are as dismayed as I am by the current President eulogizing the deceased gentleman, who obviously was not one to shirk his duties, unlike the current Commander in Chief, skipping Vietnam and all.

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Political high notes for 2007, in addition to the Democratic control of Congress, include John Edwards announcing his candidacy for President.

Not only is Edwards charismatic and gutsy, it's obvious that his priorities are correct, as his website mentions that he is campaigning to "provide moral leadership in the world, strengthen our middle class and end poverty, guarantee universal health care for every American, lead the fight against global warming, get America and other countries off our addiction to oil"--ambitious goals all, the only ones worth having!

The confluence of these political waves means that now is the time to work toward obtaining universal health care insurance for every American, as the newly elected Congress is composed of men and women who were (and hopefully, still are) listening to the people and our pain. The plain fact is that in every other industrialized, capitalist nation, health care insurance is universal-all citizens and legal residents are covered, and health care insurance costs are less in these countries than in the United States, both in total and on a per capita basis! Every such nation, including Switzerland, which has the second highest health care insurance costs, has much lower health care costs. Even Japan, the land of MRIs and other gadgets, has, percentagewise, a larger elderly population, and a total population approximately half that of the United States, and still pays much less, per capita and in total, in health care costs than the United States!

A practical plan toward the goal of securing universal health insurance coverage in the United States is proposed in the online publication, Black Commentator. The must-read article, "A Strategy for Seeking A National Single-Payer Healthcare System That Will Cover Everyone in the United States," by Marilyn Clement of Healthcare-NOW, handily lays out the details of organizing to reach that milestone.

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In the political marketplace of ideas, it's no longer business as usual. The old lines are being blurred, a good thing...anytime you have an evangelical Christian resign from a politically based organization, as Joel Hunter did when he stepped down from leading the Christian Coalition because its focus is too narrow, that's a bellwether that the political winds are shifting in unexpected ways.

OK, maybe not so unexpected. After all, 2006 was the year in which global warming was finally being taken seriously, with the unlikely success of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth (wonder if it's up for a 'Best Documentary' nomination at Oscar time?).

Another gentleman ringing the warning bell against global warming and the environment is former emergency room physician J. Matthew Sleeth, who, like Mr. Gore, has been criss-crossing the nation to warn Americans about the seriousness of global warming, and let us know what we can do about it. He writes from an explicitly Christian perspective, but has a homey, practical, yet optimistic bent in his book, Serve God, Save the Planet, which I gave a relative as a Christmas present.

Sleeth and other Christian leaders (though he would probably eschew being referred to as a leader of any sort) recently led a prayer-protest against the proposed building of more coal-fired power plants in Texas. Way to go, preacher man!

Here's to more of the same in 2007--more good people with the guts to work for what is right!