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Bearing False Witness August 13, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in Christian Right, Chuck Grassley, Health Care, Politics, Republicans, Right-Wing Extremism.
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Prosperity PreacherI have said before on these pages that I was raised as a Roman Catholic.  Though I now consider myself to be an agnostic, I still remember what all those years of religious instruction taught me; feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love thy neighbor, forgive the sinners, and heal the sick. 

One doesn’t need religion – or even to believe in God – to follow these principles in life.  What amazes me are those people that hold themselves out as Christians that  seem to forget those teachings.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R – IA) is one of those baffling “Christians”.  A member of the ultra-conservative religious organization,  the “Family” – lately in the news for their members’ sexual peccadilloes – Grassley serves on the powerful Senate Finance committee, currently and supposedly working on a “bi-partisan” health care reform bill.   I say “supposedly”  because Grassley has continually drawn lines in the sand regarding the centerpiece of any reform legislation – the public option.  Could it be because he has taken over $2.5 million from the various health care lobbies?

Though Grassley’s corporate opposition has had me angry for weeks now, I at least appreciated that the man had a real ideological difference with my view (even though it seems to be bought and paid for).  Everyone knew that health care reform would be a real fight – we shouldn’t have expected anything else.  What I never anticipated, however, was the outright lies and scare tactics the right wing is using to cloud the debate.  The latest, and most outrageous, is the assertion that the advance directive counseling provisions in the House bill are there to euthanize senior citizens. 

Grassley was quick to denounce this lie when Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook that the plan would force her parents or handicapped son to stand in front of a “death panel” to determine if their lives were worth preserving.  Then yesterday, at a town hall meeting in Iowa, Grassley told his constituents that they had “every right to fear”  and that “We should not have a government program that determines if you’re going to pull the plug on grandma.”  The day after President Obama cited Grassley as a person “working hard for bi-partisanship”, Grassley sticks the knife in his back.  What dishonorable behavior.

Joan Walsh said at Salon.com today, “It’s wonderful that Medicare would pay for such consultations for people without the means to do it earlier under most plans Obama supports. And it’s beyond cruel and shameful that a service meant to empower a low- to middle-income Grandma or Grandpa who didn’t make prior plans is now being depicted as pulling the plug on her, or him. Grassley and his elitist buddies, liberal or conservative, should be deeply ashamed.”

Ashamed is right.  And the rest of us that believe that he should be need to get off our collective asses and do something about it.  First, call the White House to tell the President that it’s time to forget bipartisanship and cut these Republicans loose.  Use reconciliation if necessary, but get health care reform with a public option passed ASAP.  Then, write a letter to Senator Harry Reid and tell him to get off his chicken ass and begin censure proceedings against Grassley.  Copy and paste text is included below.  Finally, get in touch with Grassely’s 2010 Democratic opponent Bob Krause – who supports a public option in reform – and give him whatever support you can – even if it’s just words of support. 

Republicans love to quote the 10 Commandments.  They want them posted in courthouses, legislative chambers, and public schools.   Maybe they should remember the ninth commandment – Thou shall not bear false witness.  Bearing false witness, Mr. Grassley,  Christian Conservative, means lying.  Last I checked, you could go to hell for that.


Dear Senator Reid:

   I am writing today to demand that, as leader of the U.S. Senate majority, you bring censure proceedings against Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa.  Yesterday, Senator Grassley told an audience at a town hall meeting in Iowa that the House health care reform bill will “pull the plug on Grandma”.  For a United States Senator to repeat such an obvious and horrible lie in a public meeting is beyond all reason.  It is a dishonorable act that brings shame on the entire U.S. Senate.

   There is too much at stake here to allow these lies to be placed before the public as facts.  The only reason any of these are being repeated is to frighten and confuse some of our most vulnerable citizens – our seniors.

   Censure is the only option this Senate has.


Madam President? August 12, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in Claire McCaskill, Health Care, Hillary Clinton, National Politics, Politics, Presidential Politics, Republicans, Sarah Palin, Women's Issues.
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claire-mccaskill-and-flag1As a woman, I hate to admit that I have always had a problem with women politicians.  I view them in the way I have always looked at the female bosses I have had; they’ve worked so hard to make it in a man’s world that they have become male clones.  The qualities that we value in women – empathy, nurturing, listening, and comprehension – are highly valued leadership qualities.  Most women turn their back on this in favor of the “tough manager” requirement of leaders.   But leadership is not merely management.

For the past three years, I have been involved in a series of leadership forums both as a participant and as an instructor.  Good leaders are hard to find – and it is very difficult to teach leadership to anyone.  It is a lot easier to teach women how to be tough and effective managers than it is to teach men to be caring and empathetic leaders. 

This was the problem, I believe, that Hillary Clinton had with voters.  Her advisers probably told her that the first serious female candidate for President needed to be perceived as tough.  This is why she could never back down on her position on the Iraq War.  That position cost her with the Liberal base voters – the ones that generally show up for primaries and caucuses.  Even Sarah Palin – who doesn’t seem to have an empathetic bone in her body – was handled incorrectly.  Despite her obvious intellectual shortcomings, Sarah could have been sold to the American public.  She was, after all, only nominated as Vice-President, and no matter what you think of John McCain’s age – he seems pretty healthy.  Instead, Sarah was sent out as the attack dog; the pit bull with lipstick attacking the Obama campaign and chewing it up.   The McCain campaign should have played up Palin’s management and leadership skills both as a local and state politician – but also as the mother of five managing a job and a household.  People – women and men – would have responded.

There are, however, two women politicians out there with national profiles that fit this new mold of female leader.  They are Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz (D- FL) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D- MO).  

Rep. Wasserman-Shultz is the first Jewish congresswoman ever to be elected from Florida.  She served many years in the State Legislature and is well known for her fierce advocacy of women and children’s issues as well as her principled position during the Terri Schiavo debacle.  She is one tough lady – but she is also the mother of three and waged a personal battle against breast cancer – all while serving her constituents and taking care of her family.  I have a great admiration for this woman – and agree that she bears watching for the political future.

Then there’s Claire McCaskill.  She first came to my attention early in the Democratic primaries last year as an early and vocal supporter of Barack Obama.  McCaskill was elected as the first woman Senator from Missouri in 2006.  She has a background as an attorney and prosecutor and served as Missouri state auditor prior to her election to the Senate.  McCaskill spent many years raising her children as a single mom and exhibits the toughness and no-nonsense approach that is the hallmark of the single mother. 

What really has grabbed my attention about McCaskill recently has been her demeanor in contentious town hall meetings during the past few weeks.  In the face of these angry, shouting mobs, she has kept her cool and been able to bring real information to the “Fixed-News” ginned-up crowds.  Yesterday, Senator McCaskill held a meeting in St. Louis.  Many of the hundreds of people in the crowd were obviously there to shout her down but she was actually able to make  a few points about the misinformation floating around out there – and on several occasions, seemed to calm the unruly constituents (?) down.  It truly was a heroic performance (watch video clips HERE).

Women like McCaskill and Wasserman-Shultz have that “just-right” mix of principles, character, toughness, and empathy that make them the perfect women to grab this nation’s highest office.   If either of them choose to run – I am totally on board.