Corbett Is Denying Veterans Health Care Under ACA

Gov. Gasbag’s refusal to adopt Medicaid Expansion under the ACA is denying Pennsylvania veterans with needed health care.  An estimated 500-600,000 residents of our Commonwealth could be covered if the Governor accepted the federal funds for two years to fully fund the expansion.  This Memorial Day we should focus on how conservative ideology is costing people their lives.

We’ve already see the awful effects of sequestration cuts on the VA and how that agency is failing veterans.  Republicans and many Democrats were all too eager to go to war over lies they knew to be so but then refused to allocate the funds to properly treat our wounded and ill veterans.  One solution was to expand Medicaid for those vets too poor to pay for their own insurance.  Gov. Corbett continues to have the authority to do so but refuses because his ideology is in the way.  That’s peculiar for someone who professes to be “pro life.”

War Is Not Healthy For Children and Other Living Things

Yesterday’s protest songs as selected by Walter Brasch:

Today’s column:

It was a Saturday afternoon in November. My wife, Rosemary, and I were with a four or five dozen other people in front of a county courthouse to protest what all of us knew would be the upcoming war in Iraq.

It wasn’t the first time we were protesting; it certainly wouldn’t be the last. But this time, our bodies were a lot colder than comfortable; our tempers were a bit shorter than civil.

Many persons driving past honked their car horns in support. But, in this rural county in Pennsylvania there were also dozens who drove past and who gave us the finger or shouted obscenities.

We were called many names for having the audacity to exercise our First Amendment rights to protest the Bush-Cheney rush to war in Iraq. “Hippie Communists” was just one of the comments directed at us, apparently by people who never met a Hippie or a Communist.

Several called us “unchristian.” I guess they thought the Quakers, Brethren, and Church of Christ members, among others in the protest, were part of some alien religious sect. I, of course, didn’t mind being called “unChristian”-I’m a Jew.

Many, with bumper stickers and flag decals pasted onto their car bumpers or trunks, a couple of whom also had Confederate flag decals, and never saw the irony, called us unpatriotic, that we were traitors. Apparently, if you don’t agree with certain pretend-patriots you must be a traitor. In our small group were war veterans; no one was anti-American. Rosemary and I during the first Gulf War in 1990-1991, were editors of Oasis, a newsletter sponsored by the Red Cross for families of combat troops. Now, as the nation again prepared for war, we resurrected the newspaper as Oasis II. Rosemary, had been a secretary many years and after earning her M.S. in labor studies continued as a strong supporter of labor; maybe someone thought working with the working class was unpatriotic. She was also a family services specialist for national disasters for the Red Cross; helping those still in shock from the disaster and who may have lost their houses may have also been unpatriotic. I was active in emergency management, and even on a Governor’s task force against counter-terrorism. But I guess protesting the government was somehow unAmerican, somehow unpatriotic. Our son, now on 80 percent disability, was a Marine who served during the first Gulf War. I guess since we didn’t want to see any more sons die or become disabled by what we thought was a senseless war, we were unAmerican.

The response by the mainstream media to protests throughout the country was as expected; they largely ignored the protests, no matter how large; when they did cover the them, it was more like tabloid coverage of any curiosity, expanded when a celebrity was involved. What they did do was to channel whatever lies were spewed by the Bush-Cheney administration. As a journalist, I was appalled but not surprised by the “super patriotism” of the media, nor the fact that many newspapers were killing my columns about the impending war.

The New York Times and Washington Post, both believed to be liberal newspapers, eventually apologized for their jingoistic coverage, for how they took the Administration’s handouts, with not much more than a superficial question or two.

Years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, and it was proven how many lies the nation was told by politicians and pretend-patriots, Rosemary and I still haven’t heard one apology from anyone in any of dozens of rallies who called us unAmerican, unpatriotic, traitors and Communists. Not one reader who wrote scathing replies to some of my columns that did get published, some in print, many on the Internet, ever apologized. We don’t expect any apologies. But we do expect that at the very least people who proudly wave flags, declare they are patriots, support Tea Party and ultra-right calls to “take back our country” (apparently from that foreign-born half-Black Muslim who somehow got the most popular votes of anyone in history), might at least see a connection between unqualified support of a government that sends young men and women into battle and then has a 3-day weekend of picnics and politically-correct patriotic speeches to honor those who died in battle.

John Prine (1946 – ), born in Chicago, is an Army veteran who became a letter carrier after his discharge. He, like many on the ’60s went into the Greenwich Village part of New York City to develop his music skills. He was influenced by the music of Hank Williams; Johnny Cash was one of Prine’s fans. He had millions of others.

Among Prine’s songs was a country classic, “You Never Even Called by Name,” co-written with Steve Goodman and recorded by David Alan Coe; and antiwar songs, “The Great Compromise” and “Saigon,” about a soldier with PTSD.

John Prine wrote “The Flag Decal” in 1971, an upbeat song about phony patriotism during the Viet Nam War. Like all good music, it didn’t die that first year. It has been brought out again and again to counter the Super-Patriots who absolutely positively know that anyone who disagrees with a conservative government (apparently it’s acceptable to disagree with liberals) must be unpatriotic traitors.

Please take a few moments on this, the seventh day of Memorial Day Week, to hear a song that exposes the phony patriotism of some Americans.

Memorial Day 2011: Two Names That Matter

Unless you were in a coma the past few years, you probably know who Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton are.

           You heard about them on radio, saw them on television.

           You read about them in newspapers and magazines, on Facebook, Twitter, and every social medium known to mankind.

           Because of extensive media coverage, you also know who dozens of singers and professional athletes are.

           Here are two names you probably never heard of. Sergeant First Class Clifford E. Beattie and Private First Class Ramon Mora Jr.

They didn’t get into drug and alcohol scandals. They didn’t become pop singers or make their careers from hitting baseballs or throwing footballs. They were soldiers.

           Both died together this past week from roadside bombs near Baghdad.

           Sgt. 1st Class Beattie, from the small rural suburb of Medical Lake, Wash., spent 17 years in the Army, and was in his third tour of duty in Iraq. On the day he was killed, according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, he had participated in a run to honor fallen soldiers. Sgt. Beattie was 37 years old. He leaves two children, one of whom was three weeks from graduating from high school; four sisters, a brother, and his parents.

           PFC Mora, from Ontario, Calif., a city of about 170,000 near Los Angeles, was in his first tour in combat. He was 19 years old. “He was a very serious student, and education was important to him,” Carole Hodnick, Mora’s English teacher and advisor, told the Ontario Daily Bulletin. Hodnick also remembers him as having “a charisma about him, and the students just fell in line with him.”

Clifford E. Beatttie and Ramon Mora Jr. were just two of the 6,049 Americans killed and 43,418 wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan in war the past decade, the longest wars in American history.

           You can’t know or remember all of their names. But you can remember two.

           Clifford E. Beattie. Ramon Mora Jr.

Two Americans. One near the end of his Army career. One not long out of Basic Training. A White Caucasian and a Hispanic. Two different lives. Two different cultures. Two Americans.

Clifford E. Beattie. Ramon Mora Jr. Killed together more than 7,000 miles from their homes.

           As you prepare for Memorial Day barbeques, surrounded by celebrity-laden news, remember the names of Clifford E. Beattie and Ramon Mora Jr., and all they stood for. Theirs are the names that matter.

[Walter Brasch is a social issues columnist and author. His next book is Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, available at and other stores after June 20. For more details, see YouTube.]  

Value Our Veterans By Maintaining Social Security

As we approach another Memorial Day and we gather to salute and remember those who fought for and defended our country let us also fight for them.  Attempts to dismantle Social Security are attempts to hurt veterans and their families.  771,000 veterans receive Social Security benefits and 35% of all recipients are veterans.  Nine millions vets collect Social Security and 4,000 children of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan receive survivors benefits.  Four of every ten veterans is on the senior citizen program and the rest will once they become eligible.

Why would we abandon our veterans, those we’ll be honoring this weekend, by cutting off a vital part of their lives?  It isn’t easy living on the monthly stipend, I know that quite well after almost twenty years collecting Social Security Disability.  Imagine how our veterans and their survivors would feel if the country abandoned them once more?  Most of our homeless are already vets and the health care we provide them through the VA is substandard.  These people signed up and served us are we going to turn around and do them a disservice?  Keep Social Security and make it stronger not weaker.  Eliminating the cap on incomes subject to taxation for the program insures its liquidity for 75 years.  We owe this to our vets this Memorial Day.