August 19th, 2009


The Public Option Is Not Dead

The question is, will it be truly resurrected, or just summoned from the grave as a rotting, shambling zombie moaning "BRAAAIIIIINNS!" ...?

Robert Creamer | Public Option Is Not Dead
Robert Creamer, The Huffington Post: "Hasty headlines to the contrary, it is very likely that a strong public option will be part of a final health insurance reform bill when it finally passes Congress this fall. There are at least 100 Democrats in the House who would have to be dragged kicking and screaming to vote for health insurance reform that does not include a public option. In fact, it is hard to see how a bill could pass the House without a public option."

Hard Things

Life is full of things which are hard or tedious or otherwise unpleasant that need doing anyhow. They help make the world go 'round, they improve skills, and they boost your sense of self-respect. But doing them still kinda sucks. It's all the more difficult to do those things when nobody appreciates it. Happily, blogging allows us to share our accomplishments and pat each other on the back.

What are some of the hard things you've done recently?

Insurance Jive

Here is a message from someone who used to work for the health insurance industry, but later quit for reasons of conscience, explaining how the insurance companies deny people care needed for their survival or well-being. Watch "Insurance Jive" and see for yourself who is limiting Americans' access to health care.

The Courage Campaign is a multi-issue advocacy organization that empowers
more than 700,000 members to push for progressive change and full equality
in California and across the country. We are waging several campaigns
right now, including working to repeal Prop 8 and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
as well as standing strong on a public health insurance option.

My good friend Wendell Potter, a former head of corporate communications
for CIGNA -- one of California's largest health insurance companies --
asked us to share this message with the Courage Campaign community. After
many years of defending the health insurance industry, Wendell is now an
outspoken supporter for health care reform.

Rick Jacobs
Chair, Courage Campaign

Dear Courage Campaign supporter,

For 20 years, I defended what some might call "death panels," operated by
the health insurance industry, which denied health care coverage to people
who needed it.

As head of corporate communications for one of the nation's largest health
insurance companies, I had to find new and creative ways to defend an
industry with a profit incentive to deny, drop or delay health care
coverage. I was very good at creating language -- what my friends at the
Courage Campaign call "insurance jive" -- that justified the harm we were
causing to families across the nation.

I spoke "insurance jive" as well as I could. Then, one day in 2007, I saw
hundreds of Americans waiting in the rain for hours in Virginia to get
free medical care they otherwise could not afford. My conscience told me I
had to stop. So I quit my job and began to speak out for real health care

My experience in the insurance industry taught me that the only way we
will stop the insurance companies from denying coverage to sick and dying
Americans is to keep them honest with a strong public health insurance
option. If more Americans have the option to receive health insurance from
the government -- like Medicare -- competitive pressure on the private
insurers will force them to clean up their act.

That's why I'm proud to introduce the Courage Campaign's powerful
"Insurance Jive" video, which dramatizes the true story of a California
patient who had her insurance policy canceled after she was diagnosed with
breast cancer.

"Insurance Jive" shows that insurance companies actually operate de facto
"death panels" -- and demonstrates why we must demand that a strong public
option be included in health care reform.

Click here to watch this powerful 40-second online video. Then forward
this message to your friends and ask them to watch "Insurance Jive" as
well. The more people see it, the more we can spread the progressive
message that health care reform is desperately needed:

The health insurance industry is spending millions of dollars lobbying
Congress to kill the public option. They know that a strong public option
will force insurers to cut costs and ensure that patients get the health
care they need. Only competition from public insurance can keep the
private insurers honest.

The Obama Administration has been sending mixed signals on the public
option in recent days. But progressive organizations and blogs including, Democracy for America, CREDO Mobile,
and Firedoglake -- and netroots activists including Californians David and
Dante Atkins and Howie Klein -- are leading the fight to save the public

This growing movement is keeping the public option alive. By making sure
our representatives oppose any bill without a strong public option, we can
increase pressure on the White House to continue to fight for the public
option as well.

It takes just a minute to watch "Insurance Jive" and forward it to your
friends. It takes just one more minute to use the Courage Campaign's easy
"click-to-call" tool to tell your Congressmember to support the public
option. Click here to watch the video and make a call now:

Thank you for helping us put an end to insurance jive.

Wendell Potter


Courage Campaign Issues is part of the Courage Campaign's online
organizing network that empowers more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots
supporters to push for progressive change and full equality in

To support this campaign for a public option, please chip in what you can

Paid for by Courage Campaign.

Beyond Binary Sex and Gender

This article takes a sharp look at sex and gender through history:

Mahin Hassibi | Busting Bogus Biology and Beliefs
Mahin Hassibi, On the Issues Magazine: "The simplified male-female concept of 'gender' has never been simple. Unrelated to individual capabilities, 'gender roles' throughout most of human history have subordinated the female to the male. In more recent years, reexaminations of 'gender identity' along with developments in science and society have resulted in new understandings about what gender means to individuals. These developments, in turn, may reshape 'gender roles.'"

New Limits on Credit Card Companies

Recent reforms were enacted to control problems caused by credit card companies. These are now beginning to activate. Watch carefully over the next several months, and years, to see whether these reforms produce sufficient improvement (or serious harm). Remember that activism doesn't stop when you get what you think you want (or part of it) -- you have to make sure it actually works, and if not, try again to solve the problem.

New Limits on Credit Card Issuers Begin to Take Effect (Finally)
Tony Pugh, McClatchy Newspapers: "The credit card legislation signed by President Barack Obama in May provides consumers their first morsel of relief on Thursday when card issuers must begin giving more notice before imposing rate increases or charging late fees. Beginning Aug. 20, the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 increases the required notice before raising credit card interest rates to 45 days from 15 days."

Tees for Change

I was intrigued by Tees for Change, a company that sells beautiful t-shirts made of organic cotton and bamboo, printed with mindful sayings. They're expensive, but worth considering if you can afford that sort of thing. People on a tight budget might want to read the quotes and consider painting or embroidering them onto more affordable clothes.

Dwarf Star Award poems from 2008

Today I tallied up my published poems from 2008 that are 10 lines or shorter, and submitted them to the Dwarf Stars Award.

These 3 poems were published in conventional magazines: "bete noire" in New Voices in Horror, "the leaf whisperer" in Doorways, and "A Door into Summer" in Abandoned Towers.

The remaining 9 poems were selected and purchased by my fans, published here in The Wordsmith's Forge, as part of the Poetry Fishbowl project. These poems are: "The Spiral of Life," "The Wax Wife," "Luck and Magic," "Older Princes Still," "Bull Dancers," "Memories of Wind and Clay," "Air Beyond Breath," "Beneath Blue Eyes," and "With Respect to Fwoosh."

Chances are, the 3/4 of those poems that were crowdfunded will be disqualified, because most awards discriminate against crowdfunded material. (We might get lucky, though; the rules didn't explicitly forbid it.) As far as my poetry career is concerned -- and in terms of putting poems in front of people's eyeballs -- you folks right here are about three times as useful as the conventional editors combined.

If you're wondering whether your prompts and donations are really making a difference, they are. Your ideas take me to places that I might not otherwise discover. Your donations buy my groceries. And because you wonderful patrons of the arts are being so enthusiastic about putting my work out in public, I'm happy to give you first pick of the fishbowl poems. You, my audience-editors, are important to me and I am honored by your attention. Thank you all.