Police: Teaching Kids to Mistrust Government Makes Couple 'Unsuitable' Parents

Williamson County Courthouse, in Georgetown, Texas

Texans, beware: If you teach your kids that the “government is out to harm them,” police in Williamson County might just deem you an “unsuitable” parent.

That startling claim, leveled by officers in Child Protective Services documents detailing an investigation into an Austin-area activist couple, should be enough to give reason for pause to any staunch conservative in the state.

The allegation was made against drug reform activist filmmakers Barry and Candi Cooper, whose home was recently raided and searched after the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department claimed Barry’s voice was heard in the background audio of an allegedly false police report.

Once in the couple’s home, officers discovered a small amount of marijuana and charged the Coopers with Class B misdemeanors, resulting in both their arrests. Each immediately bonded out of jail and paid a small fine. Days later, while Candi’s youngest son was visiting his father in east Texas, Child Protective Services contacted the Coopers, revealing that the incident could cost them not only custody of the boy, but also their freedom on felony child endangerment charges.

After CPS interviewed the couple, Travis County Deputy District Attorney Dayna Blazey pronounced both Coopers to be fit parents, whose children are healthy, happy and “well cared for.”

“[There] is nothing to indicate that the kids are at risk,” she wrote.

A message requesting the deputy DA’s comment on this story went unanswered at time of publication.

Her conclusion, which falls at the end of documents published below, is almost odd following the numerous pages of text entered by police, who seemingly describe an alternate reality.

Among their claims — that Barry and Candi regularly give illicit drugs to their children, that they allow and encourage other kids to use drugs in their home, that they’ve mentally abused their children by telling them that marijuana is good and anti-drug efforts are riddled with lies — the most extreme is that the Coopers are “unsuitable” parents because they create an environment in which the children learn their “government is out to harm them.”

The allegation is found atop page five of the CPS report.

In another completely dumbfounding, ironic entry, Sgt. Gary Haston of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department — the officer whose testimony appears on the original search warrant affidavit — actually claims he observed the children “crying for no reason” as armed officers invaded their home. [Emphasis added.]

He also claims that Barry “hates” his father and does not believe in church, as though this information would somehow be relevant to the CPS agents.

Haston, who Cooper described as Williamson County’s “head of narcotics,” has an extensive history with drug interdiction as a police officer. He was even the 2008-2009 vice president for the Texas Narcotic Officers Association Central Region, according to a memo circulated by the association. It was his testimony that gave officers access to the Coopers’ residence and files for the alleged misdemeanor offense of filing a false police report.

A request for comment left with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department went unanswered at time of publication.

“In my 19 years of experience with criminal defense matters, a search warrant for a misdemeanor charge is certainly unusual,” wrote Minnesota attorney Maury D. Beaulier, who had no prior knowledge of the Coopers’ case. “It indicates to me that this is a targeted investigation. It may be targeted because it is believed to be a part of a greater crime or conspiracy, or, perhaps, because there are political motivations at work.”

While searching through the Coopers’ private data, police discovered a photograph of a minor in the shower, nude from the bust up. The image was a risque self-portrait shot by one of the adolescent children, who later took sole responsibility for the photo. Both parents claimed they knew nothing about it before the issue was raised to them by authorities. Ultimately, the photo held no bearing on their case and the minor was warned to be cautious with digital imaging equipment. Because of the individual’s age, all identifying information has been removed from the documents published below.

In a court hearing Tuesday, the Coopers were unsuccessful in re-obtaining custody of Zachary, Candi’s seven-year-old who is currently under the care of his father in Upshur County, Texas. The court did not issue a ruling, as matters of geographic limitations have yet to be addressed. Barry and Candi are seeking to have the custody battle in Travis County, but it’s still a matter of dispute. Lawyers for the Coopers and Zachary Johnston’s father brokered limited visitation rights for Candi, but Barry is required to stay away from the boy for the time being.

Because of the nature of Texas’ drug laws and their status as nationally-known political activists, the Coopers are facing the very real possibility of losing Zach entirely, with future contact only allowed in the context of supervised visitation.

“I just don’t know what I’ll do if we lose Zach,” Barry said. “That would be the most horrible thing to ever happen to me in my entire life.”

The 19-page CPS report follows.
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The Health Reform Debate in Less Than Two Minutes

More has been written about health care reform in the last year than Americans have even imagined digesting in decades.

Yet, no matter how eloquent, well-reasoned and well-studied the various summaries of American politics this year may be, none can hold a candle to the accuracy and concision of the video below.

Netizens, you surely remember these two pieces of media: one, from campaign 2008, featuring Will.i.am, President Obama and a whole slew of pretty faces; and the other, of GOP minority leader John Boehner, screaming “hell no you can’t!” in the moments before health reform was passed.

Put together, they just make sense.

'KopBusters' Couple Lose Son Over Misdemeanor Pot Charge

Update (May 3, 2010): Fox News quotes my reporting on Barry Cooper … And gets it wrong

Barry and Candi Cooper, a married duo well-known in the world of drug reform activism, have temporarily lost custody of Candi’s youngest child due to misdemeanor charges stemming from a recent “KopBusters” sting operation against a police officer in Williamson County, Texas.

Pot smoking moms and dads of America, pay attention: This could happen to you too. Although the Coopers’ case is a bit more unusual than most and not all Child Protective Services entanglements over marijuana will result in children being taken or custody being modified, it can and does happen.

Zachary Johnston, 7, has cerebral palsy and exhibits the intelligence of a four-year-old, according to Barry. He had been sent away for a brief visit with his father, David, when the embattled activists were paid a visit by Child Protective Services on Friday, March 18, they said.

Zachary Johnston, age 7 (courtesy photo, Candi Cooper).

“That’s when they told us,” Candi sobbed. “That’s when we knew.”

Because of Barry’s recent misdemeanor arrest over allegations of a false police report, Williamson County officers gained entry to the couple’s home and discovered a couple of marijuana cigarette butts during their search, for which both husband and wife were charged in Travis County. Police also took the Coopers’ electronics and digital media and managed to keep the former officer behind bars for over 48 hours.

Barry repeatedly insisted that Williamson County police reached out to “instigate” the whole affair, tipping off Mr. Johnston’s lawyer to a potential opportunity for his client. I have not been able to confirm this particular statement and it is entirely possible — even likely — that Mr. Johnston or his attorney heard about the arrests from other sources.

I’ve known about this since the day it happened, but in the interest of fairness and considering my lack of access to Mr. Johnston, I waited until court documents became available before breaking this news. Finally released, their text is enough to make just about any liberal-minded parent cringe.

In the document, an affidavit in support of ex parte relief filed with a court in Upshur County, Texas, Mr. Johnston contends that because of Barry and Candi’s standing as nationally-known marijuana activists and their high (no pun intended) level of comfort with the drug, they pose a danger to Zachary. He cites articles on the duo’s exploits published by Cannabis Culture and Maxim, noting in particular that when Barry and Candi met, she was his “pot dealer.”

He also says: “The Coopers attend cannabis festivals and take Zachary with them and other children that live in their household.” Of course, they adamantly deny this.

Additionally, Mr. Johnston makes what appears to be a factual error on page three in claiming that “one of” the duo was arrested in Williamson County for marijuana possession. Those charges were filed Travis County, against both of them. Their offense rose to the level of a Class B misdemeanor and no evidence of trafficking was discovered.

The officers originally gained access to the family’s home by telling a judge that Barry’s voice could be heard in the background audio of a telephone report about a suspicious package — the same package Cooper was using as bait to test an officer to see if he would steal money or tamper with evidence. Barry claims Williamson County police repeatedly asked about a tent in his garage and suspects they anticipated discovering a large quantity of marijuana.

“This recent [arrest] crosses the line from advocacy to illicit drug abuse,” Mr. Johnston concludes. “I have tried to tolerate the Coopers and their lifestyle as long as I can. My son, Zachary, does not deserve to be raised in a household that uses illicit drugs, abuses drugs, and where they derive the majority of their income on the advocacy of how to engage in illegal conduct.”

And he’s got every right to make that claim, which will absolutely be taken seriously considering standing law. However …

“I smoked pot with that motherfucker eight months ago!” Cooper jeered over the phone. “I have a witness, his ex-girlfriend. And she’s gonna testify. We do that shit away from our kids, and everything we’ve ever used for our shows is a prop.”

The Coopers both go into greater detail about the whole matter in a video blog published late Wednesday.

Both Barry and Candi separately corroborated each others’ account of their visit with a CPS agent, whose report allegedly saved them both from a felony arrest for child endangerment.

“If that report had come back to the district attorney saying something’s going on, we would have both been arrested that day,” Cooper claimed. “But nothing was going on, so that’s what the report says.”

Barry called the agent an “angel from God.”

That document will be published here when it is made available. Meanwhile, the couple has a chance to reclaim Candi’s son during a court hearing on Tuesday, after which they hope to conduct the further custody battle in Travis County. As these things usually go, there is always a chance the Coopers will not succeed.

Further injuring their spirits: Zachary’s eighth birthday is on Sunday, March 28, but he will not be with his mother, who has retained custody of the boy since his birth. She and Mr. Johnston divorced in 2007, but had been separated since 2003.

“I’ve been crying every day since this happened,” Candi said, audibly holding back tears. “It’s hard for me to even talk about it. I’ve been there for him all his life, with his disability and all his difficulties. I’m going to get my son back.”

Mr. Johnston’s four-page affidavit in support of ex parte relief follows. The images were modified to erase handwriting added after being printed.

####

The Six Worst Things About Health Care Reform

A couple days ago I published some e-mails I’d exchanged with my right-wing mother about Obama’s health reform legislation. One of the first messages I sent listed what I consider to be the six best things the new reforms bring. They’re all quite compelling, which is why the bill passed.

Naturally, a reader challenged me to list what I consider to be the six worst things associated with what I’m delighted to henceforth refer to as the “Big Fucking Deal” (you know, kinda like the new-New Deal, only Biden-ized), so here it goes:

The Six Worst Things About Health Care Reform …

1.) No public option

Nurse? I'm going to pass on that injection. (Art: Silent Hill 2/Konami)

Even though it was a key component, President Obama let the public option slide after months of angry debate, partially because Democrats lost the labeling war with Republicans, who successfully framed it as a “takeover” of United States health care. It wasn’t.

Granted, the president has pledged to revisit the public option later. While there’s still hope for his plan, don’t hold your breath: even when the program was still part of Obama’s Big Fucking Deal, Democrats were eager to offer insurers rates much higher than even those paid by Medicare, so long as their money masters would allow the public such a great comfort — which really, really sucks. Government shouldn’t work that way. Corporate interests should not dictate to the public like this.

Poor folks bleed too. It’s a crying shame so many of them will completely fall through the cracks in the new laws.

2.) It’s essentially a “bailout” for insurance companies
Or, so sayeth the Wise old sage Dennis Kucinich, Ohio’s favorite liberal son. He’s right. Soon, we’ll all be required to patronize the for-profit oligarchic system that has so often determined whether or not our countrymen will die (some 45,000 of whom do just that every single year, solely for lack of insurance). If you don’t buy a policy (and there will be at least some help for those who honestly can’t afford one), you will be fined a small amount at first, then higher rates in the future. During the debate, there was even talk of jail time as a penalty for not offering proper tribute to your new masters … To clarify, this is Insane.

The mandate is one item where conservatives and progressives expressed similar concerns, but since the insurers have such a stranglehold on Congress, making policies optional wasn’t even really up for debate. Which leads me to the next point …

3.) Your rates could still go Up
Well, shit.

Once again, corporate oligarchs succeeded in dictating to the public what we may and may not do about their monopolization of health services. Thank God President Obama secured a premium cap that hovers between 2-9.5% of a working family’s income, or the worst of the gouging would continue unabated. Still, the Congressional Budget Office did estimate that premiums for individuals could rise 10-13%, even as Obama once mistakenly claimed the Big Fucking Deal would result in a 3,000 percent savings (he really meant 3,000 dollars, but it’s just a red herring until that actually happens).

Meanwhile, while everyone and their mother was squabbling over who goes before the death panels first, insurers were literally making a killing in the market, with Wellpoint, UnitedHealth, Cigna, Aetna and Humana growing overall profits by 56 percent in 2009. Cigna saw the best of it, turning up their money-cooker a whopping 346 percent according to one study, all while spending a shrinking percentage of their customers’ premium payments on actual care.

Adding insult to repeated injury, the Department of Health and Human Services said in February that it’s worried the massive rate hikes recently seen in California and Michigan could become the next trend for insurers nation-wide.

Once again, most industrialized nations have realized that not-for-profit structures are better for covering health services, whereas a huge portion of your ever-growing monthly insurance bill in the United States is going toward company bonuses and keeping the executives fat and happy. If you’re not mad about that, you’re not paying attention.

4.) No negotiating on drug prices
While this isn’t as significant for the majority, to people who need specialized medicines, it can get awfully pricey very quick, whereas other nations, such as Canada and Mexico, obtain the same drugs at wildly reduced rates.

For example: I have a cat allergy and no health insurance. (This is actually true.) Problem is, most of my friends have cats. What’s a guy to do when being at your friend’s home makes you choke like a fish out of water? It’s called Albuterol and it can be obtained in Mexico for just a few dollars per inhaler. Here, I’m looking at well over $200 for the doctor’s appointment and the prescription. I shudder to think what sufferers of rare cancer varieties must pay.

That’s bunk, but the Democrats once again sold taxpayers off to the insurance companies, first folding on rates that would have been paid by the public option, then ceding the government’s negotiating power with Big Pharma. This must change.

5.) Now that it’s law, the propaganda will only get louder
Be on the look out for more shit like this until November or longer. Please try to remember we’re all Americans. It’s still possible to just talk like neighbors. Breathe deeply and smile. Civil disagreement needs to make a comeback and it’s up to each of us to help speed that along.

6.) No actual death panels
What can I say? I’m a fan of Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil“. Great flick. I gotta wonder if our friend Bible Spice Sarah Palin has seen it, ’cause I’m pretty sure that’s what she was trying to describe with her child-like ramblings. She was so concerned about the encroachment of the bumbling dystopian bureaucracy that she even warned our pals in Canada that they had to kill their health care system as soon as possible. Zoinks!

That’s why I was really surprised when the mainstream press didn’t make much noise about how Palin herself admitted to crossing into Canada for health care — the same single payer system she once called “evil.” Her grandson Tripp, according to court documents, also gets socialized health care in the U.S. because his grandfather is a native Eskimo. Considering all the good socialism has done for America’s wealthiest quitter, it seems reasonable to assume she’s living in a psychotropic reality to which only Mr. Gilliam could relate.
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

In spite of all these gaping, gut-twisting pitfalls, Noam Chomsky is right: the Big Fucking Deal’s benefits outweigh its’ down-sides. Ultimately, the public good has prevailed.

We’ve seen the start: that much we can be sure of. Where this New way goes from here is entirely up to you.

'The Big Fucking Deal' — A New Nickname for Health Reform?

Biden: It was THIS BIG!

So, lemme get this straight: President Roosevelt’s most significant reform package was the “New Deal,” yeah?

Catchy, good, kinda rolls off the tongue. A short name for some heavy shit. I like it.

Now, let’s see … Apart from the pretty bleh descriptor of “health reform legislation,” what else could we call President Obama’s most significant legislative accomplishment? Gotta find something the people can identify with. Something with zing. Something with an edge to it. It needs to sell. We must Hook the common man.

Mr. Vice President, any ideas?

Hm. Well … It’s unorthodox, sir, I must say. Risky, but ya gotta get people’s attention somehow, eh? Sure, why not. We’ll let it slip all under-the-radar like, pretend it was a gaffe, yeah, good Ole’ Uncle Joe: poor bastard doesn’t even known where he is half the time. Once Letterman starts pedaling it, we’re in like Flynt.

Yessir, I’ve got a good feeling about this one. Short, sweet and to the point — exactly what a sales label is all about. After all, President Obama’s package is truly significant. A landmark, of sorts. Let’s run with this.

Well’p, here’s to you Joe, for finally giving the New Deal’s sequel a nickname I’ll cite every time the topic comes up until the day I die. Here’s to my generation’s watershed legislation, the “Big Fucking Deal.” Yes.

I may be starting to like you, Mr. Vice President.

It’s my solemn hope this newly coined label somehow finds its’ way into the next generation’s history texts. That would be fucking sweet. ;O)

Video Proves Kanye West Was Right About George W. Bush

Image sample credit: NBC

We all remember the gut-sinking horror of watching our friends and countrymen drowning in the water-logged streets of New Orleans for days upon days after Hurricane Katrina.

As thousands of black Americans suffered and died — pleading the whole time on live television for someone, anyone, to just SEND HELP, filling so many of us with a righteous fury — what Bush would later call the “blame game” began to percolate. In their eyes, a distraction became necessary and one hasty comment by an emotional celebrity was just what the corrupt Bush administration needed.

You remember it: rapper Kanye West, appearing on NBC, belted out what many black Americans were thinking at that very moment: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” For weeks thereafter, he was castigated in the media for this very blunt assessment, even as news outlets nation-wide published photos of stranded Americans doing everything in their power to survive, above a caption describing how “looting” had become rife.

As if the administration’s mortifying disregard for our brothers and sisters in New Orleans was not evidence enough of West’s ill-thought words, now we have certifiable, video proof that he was absolutely correct about our former commander-in-chief.

This video was shot by the BBC as they followed Presidents Bush and Clinton through the blood-soaked streets of Haiti recently. Keep your eye on Dubya.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DtwkTS9mq8

Yes, you saw correctly: Bush shook a black person’s hand, then wiped the cooties onto President Clinton’s sleeve.

If the Katrina analogy weren’t so fitting here, most people would dismiss this as just another goofy Bush-ism, like the time he used an unsuspecting woman’s dress to clean his glasses during a taping of The Late Show with David Letterman. But no: here, he’s walking through an impoverished disaster zone seemingly worried that some of the black might just rub off on him.

Seriously, what the Fuck?

Bush did something similar when first meeting Obama, according to a passage in the current president’s book, The Audacity of Hope:

“Obama!” he said, shaking my hand. “Come here and meet Laura. Laura, you remember Obama. We saw him on TV during election night. Beautiful family. And that wife of yours – that’s one impressive lady.”

“We both got better than we deserve, Mr. President,” I said, shaking the First Lady’s hand and hoping that I’d wiped any crumbs off my face.

The president turned to an aide nearby, who squirted a big dollop of hand sanitizer in the president’s hand.

New York Magazine has a different take which, though perfectly reasonable, fails to persuade me:

Does this mean anything at all? Probably not. Maybe the Haitian guy just had sweaty, sticky, or otherwise gross hands. We’re sure that throughout all his years of campaigning, Bush has shaken many a black hand without incident. All race issues aside, though, who wipes their hand on another person’s shirt? You can see that, for a brief instant, Bush considers wiping his hand on his own shirt, then decides to use Clinton’s instead. There’s just no excuse for that.

Regardless, I don’t think I’ll be missing The Decider any time soon. This is just another little reminder — like an uncomfortable goose in the ribs, if you will — of exactly who the free world was subject to for eight years.

And for all his faults, all the Bush policies he’s continued, all the promises he’s broken and all the mind-numbing nonsense that’s been thrown at him, I’ve still got to say, for electing Barack Obama after choking down untold volumes of this shit … Good On You, America. Seriously.

A Fireside Health Reform Chat With My Right-Wing Mom

Image: A scared mom (not mine)

My mom is like many moms in America right now: scared witless and not sure what to think about health reform.

But, instead of reading the news or seeking out credible information on how she in particular will be affected by the legislation, she has decided to reach her “own conclusions” and no number of facts I throw at her will change that … Or, so she (basically) told me in a recent e-mail exchange.

I’m sure as hell not the only one right now trying to explain what this legislation means to people who’ve been so peppered by propaganda over the last year they’ve become certain it’s akin to some Bolshevik plot to kill their aging parents and put them into slavery … When really, it’s anything but.

It has gotten quite old, watching corporate citizens manipulate prejudices of the poor and working classes, stirring strife and striking petty bickering over something most modern nations consider a civil right. There are very reasonable objections to the health reforms President Obama signed today, but they typically get little to no play in mainstream press.

No — Instead, we’re manipulated to work against our own interests by the tactics of Sun Tzu: divide, then conquer. Tea parties antagonize progressives with their wacky, mildly racist hijinks, amid crowds of thousands who’re all just generally angry; and they’re mad because they’re told that progressives want to kill grandma or assign some Rick Moranis look-alike to shake his head and glibly poke at a clipboard whenever Timmy scrapes his knee; meanwhile, the press just eats up the meat gallery of weird, hooking in clicks with the typical rage-sploitation headlines that always burn up social media, ’cause ya know most people just Love to hate; and when all the elements finally combine the end result spirals out this damp cobweb of delusion that ultimately transforms our only shot at a level playing field with big business, what some call politics, into a form of theater, like reality television, mere bread and circuses for the masses … and All of this is utter bullshit, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

For the benefit of my fellow countrymen trying to share these tricky, unmovable objects we call “facts” with their fear-driven brethren, I give you a fireside health reform chat with my right-wing mom: an actual series of e-mails traded on the day health reform became law.

####

Mom,

I figure it’s only a matter of time until people start sending you crazy propaganda emails about health reform, so before that happens go ahead and give this list a read. These are the top six items I consider best among the health care changes President Obama will sign into law on Tuesday. If you get any wacko emails screaming about socialism, send ’em this.

1. No more pre-existing conditions for children, starting now. For adults in the short term, there’s a new high-risk insurance pool and pre-existing conditions will be eliminated entirely by 2014.

2. Working families that earn less than $88,000 a year will have their premiums capped between 2 and 9.5 percent of their household income. Before health reform, it was not uncommon for poor and middle class families to pay much, much more for health insurance.

3. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees will get a 50 percent tax credit for their health insurance. WIN.

4. New health insurance policies will be required to cover check-ups and preventative care completely sans co-pay. Another WIN.

5. No more annual or lifetime caps on how much treatment your insurance will pay for — and, insurers can no longer drop the sick people.

6. Not only will insurers be forced to disclose their earnings data and overhead to the public, new regulations will require health and nutrient information to be advertised by fast food chains. Transparency all-around! (Sort-of.)

All of that is real and all of it will begin affecting your life very soon. There were a lot of bitter pills to swallow during the health reform debate but it’s passed now and it won’t be repealed any time soon. I thought you’d appreciate some factual information, considering how crazy everyone is going off lately.

Sincerely,

Stephen

####

Stephen,

Thank you for thinking of me, however, I have been already reading much of what you disclosed to me. Sounds like lots of red tape quagmire government meddling. What a nightmare for our country. What ever happened to party compromise?? What ever happened to respect for the states positions? What ever happened to DEMOCRACY??????Big brother is coming…………..

As for the crazies screaming socialism, I don’t have to have anyone tell me what this takeover is. I know without talk show commentaries. I am not an idiot. I am well aware of what we are getting into. That is what is truly wacko. You don’t think I have a brain to reason on my own. You need to know that I just simply choose to avoid most  press mainly because it is manipulative and negative.  I prefer to figure out things on my own. So please, give me my parental due respect to assess governmental issues on my own. Thanks.

I am paying bills right now so I need the money I loaned you back in my account for drafts due on the 1st. Can you get it to me now?

Mom

####

Mom,

“You need to know that I just simply choose to avoid most  press mainly because it is manipulative and negative.  I prefer to figure out things on my own.”

That’s why you’ve arrived at flagrantly false conclusions about many things happening in the world around you, the health reform legislation included. You’re taking one of the core pillars of democracy, the free press, and replacing it in your mind with talking points fed to you by people far more manipulative than even the slimiest of reporters.

If this were a “takeover” of health care, insurance companies would be no more. But they’re very happy with this bill. Some progressives have even called it a “bailout” for the insurance companies, because soon we’ll all be compelled by the state to patronize them. Ask yourself: why is that? Can it truly be both ways? A “takeover” and a “bailout”? Regardless, costs for working families will go down while access to doctors will improve, and you’re upset? Why? Do you know a single specific item that’s in the legislation, or just that it’s thick so it must be bad?

You’re too eager to believe people who just want to scare you and make you easier to manipulate … And you’ve bitten down so hard you’re apparently even willing to believe your own son is lying to you about matters of great importance. You substitute reasonable, researched information for what? The words of your favorite pro-life congressman? A GOP newsletter? (I know you read that stuff.) How about all that corporate jingoism on the finance channel?

Please just read what I’ve written. I’m not lying to you.

And, uh, yeah I’ll get that money to you soon. Sorry. :O)

Stephen

####

2 to 9.5 percent is a very broad range and it still hurts at 9.5 worse than before. No mention of what kind of deductibles and benefits. Well?? Who decides what percent??

Too bad we have to put all the costs on you too. I won’t have to live with the reprecussions [sic] for all the coming expenses. Guess what? Your grandparents and sister are on Medicare. That hurts them. Do you care? It will hurt me in 4 years.

Thanks American Socialists. So thoughtful to consider all the people and for the people…

You miss my point. I don’t listen to media that corrupts or manipulates my thinking. I have come to my own conclusions. Why can’t you believe me?

Mom

####

It’s not who, it’s how. The less money your household earns, the lower your premium cap will be. Many, many people pay much more than 9.5 percent of their income. For them, this is a huge relief.

And seriously, if you’re so scared of government regulating for-profit insurers, why so protective of Medicare? That’s a single payer, government run system and it’s the most effective, efficient method we’ve got for helping our fellow countrymen. Would you vote, like some Republicans, to repeal Medicare and throw all those senior citizens and disabled people out into the unregulated market? Or do you realize that a non-profit entity is better for paying medical costs than a for-profit corporation driven by greed, quarterly reports and earnings projections?

You are right to thank what you call “American socialists.” You know, like those commie pinkos at the police and fire dept, or those damn librarians? Yeah, thank God we don’t have to pay for crime insurance … I’m sure we would without at least a few pillars of socialism in our democracy.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill will cost over $940 billion over the next 10 years. However, over the next 20 years it is projected to REDUCE the deficit by over $144.2 billion thanks much in part to all the cost savings for the taxpayer not having to pay inflated medical costs for the uninsured. Not only that, the Bush tax cuts for America’s financial elite have expired. That bill slashed, according to economist Paul Krugman, $1.8 TRILLION between 2001-10. With that kind of dough, we could have all given ourselves the best quality care money can buy. But no, instead we went to war, and for seven years I was tormented by watching you cheer-lead for Bush and the big business agenda as Iraq and Afghanistan bled.

Meanwhile, the wars still rage, but those costs — financial and human, both much greater than the price of health care — somehow didn’t concern you … And these suddenly do? I love you mom, which is why I say you’re seriously lacking perspective here.

Being that I pay the bills by writing about this sort of thing, I feel embarrassed by your claimed understanding of current events, like I’ve failed somehow. I’m not trying to insult you: I’m trying to tell you the truth.

Truth is, your conclusions are not your own.

By ignoring journalism in the public interest, by ignoring credible, hard-working reporters in your own community, you hurt not only yourself but you hurt your country. Most of all, you hurt me, every time I hear you repeating a talking point I spent an hour knocking down just a week prior. Please turn off Fox News and CNBC. Get online and read. I’d be overjoyed to provide you with more sources of credible information.

The greater point is this: Like Noam Chomsky recently told one of my associates at Raw Story, this is a deeply flawed bill that retains the system’s core ills, but the immediate benefits make it far too compelling to pass up. I hope there will be significant revision of and improvements to this legislation over the next few years.

Until then, my scale of right or wrong is tuned toward one question above all else: Does the public ultimately benefit? In this case — for you, for me, for our family, our friends, their friends and their friends — the public good prevails. Our lives will be made better. It’s rare in our national history that a new president stakes it all on an agenda to benefit the public good. Be grateful for that, but know that this gift we’ve been given is still deeply flawed and room remains for significant improvement.

If you think things should change, get involved with community civics instead of just blindly voting for Republicans in November. Consider the virtues of abstaining from partisanship. Do a little research, not just before voting, but before making wild claims about something you know almost nothing of. Misinformation floats. Part of my job is to call it out. I’ll even help you find objective sources. They do exist.

I look forward to discussing with you topics more of greater specificity than scary big brother or socialism on the march. And I will get that money to you shortly. Promise. :O)

Stephen