The president announced today the winners of the Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor. Among those named was The Rev. Joseph Lowery, a true prophet who has never shied away from speaking truth to power. From the White House news release:
Reverend Lowery has been a leader in the U.S. civil rights movement since the early 1950s. Rev. Lowery helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott after Rosa Parks was denied a seat, and later co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a leading civil rights organization, with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Rev. Lowery led the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Rev. Lowery is a minister in the United Methodist Church, and has continued to highlight important civil rights issues in the U.S. and worldwide, including apartheid in South Africa, since the 1960s.
It is right that the president of the United States of America honor this true American hero.
57 progressive House members stood up today against the Blue Dog attempt to weaken a public option in health care reform. President Obama, however, praised the agreement between the Blue Dogs and the Speaker that would undermine the president's stated goal of universal coverage.
We regard the agreement reached by Chairman Waxman and several Blue Dog members of the Committee as fundamentally unacceptable. This agreement is not a step forward toward a good health care bill, but a large step backwards. Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates—not negotiated rates—is unacceptable. It would ensure higher costs for the public plan, and would do anything to achieve the goal of “keeping insurance companies honest,” and their rates down.
To offset the increased costs incurred by adopting the provisions advocated by the Blue Dog members of the Committee, the agreement would reduce subsidies to lower-and middle income families, requiring them to pay a larger portion of their income for insurance premiums, and would impose an unfunded mandate on the states to pay for what were to have been Federal Costs.
In short, this agreement will result in the public, both as insurance purchasers and as taxpayers paying ever higher rates to insurance companies.
We simply cannot vote for such a proposal.
No bill will pass the House unless the Speaker and the White House work with progressive Democrats. As the Congressional Progressive Caucus recently told the president, a strong public option must be included for any health care reform to be meaningful.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership have reached a compromise with conservative Blue Dog democrats over health care that would "significantly weaken the public option favored by liberals by delinking reimbursement rates to Medicare," according to Politico.com and CNN.
Translation: Democrats are once again failing to govern and may put forth a health care reform bill that does not come close to meeting the president's stated goal of universal health care.
Progressive Democrats in the House should vote against this compromise. The president should promise to veto it.
...we have to cut the costs of health care. For families who've seen health-insurance premiums more than double—from an average of less than $6,000 a year to nearly $13,000 since 1999—one of the most controversial features of reform is one of the most vital. It's been called the "public plan." Despite what its detractors allege, it's not "socialism." It could take a number of different forms. Our bill favors a "community health-insurance option." In short, this means that the federal government would negotiate rates—in keeping with local economic conditions—for a plan that would be offered alongside private insurance options. This will foster competition in pricing and services. It will be a safety net, giving Americans a place to go when they can't find or afford private insurance, and it's critical to holding costs down for everyone.
Adopting a plan called "health care reform" that doesn't actually meet the goal of insuring all Americans would be the worst kind of scam.
Religious leaders from across American recently said that health care reform needed to be an "urgent priority so that all of our neighbors, especially the people living in poverty, children, and the aged, can be assured of the fullness of life that is central to the holy vision of a beloved and peaceable community."
Unless we act now health care reform will fail. Contact your House and Senate members today and tell them you want a public option before the Blue Dogs and Republicans kill health care reform.
For the people of Parkrose Community United Church of Christ the theme of “change” has become a constant companion. The neighborhood around the church, built in 1913, is changing rapidly. Like all mainline churches, there are historic changes faced by the congregation as we now live in a truly pluralistic society. Parkrose Community United Church of Christ is also in the process of revitalizing the church’s mission, selling property, and calling a new permanent minister. Paul, following Jesus, preached a theology of wholeness. My sermon this week dealt with that theme - based on 1 Corinthians 12.1-27 - and how in the midst of change (a sometimes scary experience) we can act out our faith responsibly even during times of disagreement.
Statement from Religious Leaders On Health Care Reform
A MATTER OF HEALTH...A MATTER OF WHOLENESS
Today health care reform has become an urgent priority, with many Americans fearful about the health care they now hold and more than 45 million lacking coverage altogether. Rising unemployment, underemployment and a decline in employment benefits have deprived many more of health care. The health of our neighbors and the wholeness of the nation now require that all segments of our society join in finding a solution to this national challenge.
"...Learn to do good, seek justice; rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow." Isaiah 1:17
"...Love your neighbor as you love yourself." Matthew 22:39
"...Ye who believe! Stand up firmly for Allah, witness to justice...be just, that is next to piety." Qur'an 5:8
Our diverse communities of faith -Jewish, Christian and Muslim- are each shaped and guided by our respective sacred texts which compel us to speak out on behalf of the most vulnerable members of our society. Today that means making comprehensive and compassionate health care reform an urgent priority so that all of our neighbors, especially the people living in poverty, children, and the aged, can be assured of the fullness of life that is central to the holy vision of a beloved and peaceable community.
No longer can we afford to squander the hopes and dreams of the American people through a much-too-costly system that contributes to economic despair. Families and individuals must be able to rely on affordable care in times of illness or accident and preventative care to safeguard health and well-being. Those who are ill need the assurance that coverage will not be canceled by illness or employment circumstance. They should also be afforded the dignity of selecting their own caregivers.
Today we pray, each in our own custom, for discernment, boldness, clarity and leadership in each segment of our society so that we may find the resolve to achieve health reform worthy of this land. As we together pursue this vision our direction is certain-it is toward the common good. The prospect of high-quality, affordable health care for everyone is a measure of our wholeness as a nation.
We pray that our best minds and kindest hearts might be joined in this effort so that all men, women and children will have the health care they need to live the lives for which they were created. We stand ready to give our support and energies to its achievement.
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian Armenian Apostolic Church President of the National Council of Churches
Bishop Wayne Burkette Moravian Church in America, Southern Province
Rev. Dr. Miriam Burnett Medical Director African Methodist Episcopal Church Health Commission
Rev. Jerry D. Campbell, Ph.D. President Claremont School of Theology
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS Executive Director NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Margurite Carter National Board President Church Women United
Dr. Iva E. Carruthers General Secretary Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc.
The Right Reverend John Bryson Chane Episcopal Bishop of Washington District of Columbia
Bishop Ronald M. Cunningham Ecumenical Officer Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Dr. William H. Curtis President Hampton University Minister’s Conference
Amy Echeverria Director Columbian Center for Advocacy & Outreach
Matthew Ellis Executive Director National Episcopal Health Ministries National Episcopal AIDS Coalition
Bishop Christopher Epting Deputy for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations The Episcopal Church
Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell Ecumenical Officer Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.
Rabbi Steve Gutow President Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Dr. Richard L. Hamm Former General Minister & President Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US & Canada
Rev. Mark S. Hanson Presiding Bishop Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Dr. Michael Kinnamon General Secretary National Council of Churches
Dr. Ken Brooker Langston Director, Disciples Justice Action Network Coordinator, Disciples Center for Public Witness
Elaine Lee Vice President at Large Health Ministries Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.
Rabbi Michael Lerner Rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in San Francisco Chair of the Interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives
Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner Connectional Presbyter Presbytery of the Palisades (NJ)
Rev. Michael E. Livingston Executive Director, International Council Community Churches Immediate Past President, National Council of Churches
Marie Lucey, OSF Associate Director for Social Mission Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Felton Edwin May United Methodist Bishop (Retired) Executive Director Multi-Ethnic Center for Ministry
Dr. David McAllister-Wilson President Wesley Theological Seminary
Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley General Secretary American Baptist Churches
Stanley J. Noffsinger General Secretary Church of the Brethren
Harriett Jane Olson Deputy General Secretary, Women's Division General Board of Global Ministries The United Methodist Church
Rev. Gradye Parsons Stated Clerk Presbyterian Church USA
Rev. Dr. Tyrone Pitts General Secretary Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.
Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader Ecumenical Officer United Methodist Church
Nancy Ratzan President National Council of Jewish Women
Rabbi David Saperstein Executive Director and Chief Legal Counsel, The Union for Reform Judaism's Religious Action Center
The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori Presiding Bishop and Primate Episcopal Church
Dr. Robert Seymour Minister Emeritus Binkley Memorial Baptist Church
Ronald J. Sider President Evangelicals for Social Action
Rev. Dr. T. DeWitt Smith President Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed National Director Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances Islamic Society of North America
Russell M. Testa Executive Director Franciscan Action Network
Rev. John H. Thomas General Minister and President United Church of Christ
Daniel Vestal Executive Coordinator Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Bishop George Walker, Jr. Senior Bishop African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
Dr. Sharon E. Watkins General Minister and President Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
Dr. Robert Welsh President, Council on Christian Unity Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
The Rev. David L. Wickmann President Moravian Church-Northern Province
Jim Winkler General Secretary General Board of Church and Society United Methodist Church
Bishop Gabino Zavala Bishop President Pax Christi,
We've told you about how the CNN host has used his platform to spread hateful propaganda that demonizes Latinos.
Now, Dobbs is supporting the bizarre claims of so-called "birthers" who insist that President Obama isn't really a citizen of the United States and that his presidency, therefore, is not legitimate.
The truth about Obama's birth in Hawaii is not in dispute. It has been verified by many reputable journalists, including CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who called the claims "a joke," and even a reporter on Dobbs' own show. Yet Dobbs continues to fan the flames.
It's important to note that this conspiracy theory was concocted by an anti-Semite and circulated by racist extremists who cannot accept the fact that a black man has been elected president. Among those who helped disseminate the lie was the neo-Nazi who killed a security guard at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in June.
Respectable news organizations should not be peddling propaganda that supports the agenda of radical extremists who are only interested in stirring up hate and fomenting violence. But Dobbs continues to do just that. And it's irresponsible for CNN to let him continue trading in falsehoods.
Today I called U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and urged them to vote against an amendment to the Defense authorization bill that would gut gun control laws in many states. The Brady Campaign reports:
Very dangerous legislation that would force states to allow dangerous individuals to carry loaded guns in public will be voted on Wednesday, July 22nd.
This legislation was introduced as the Thune Amendment (No. 1618) to the Defense Authorization bill (S. 1390). This amendment would allow the carrying of loaded, concealed firearms outside a person's home state, even by persons legally barred from possessing guns in the state where the carrying occurs.
This legislation would effectively allow the weaker concealed carry laws of one state to nullify the restrictions on gun carrying of other states.
This legislation, if passed, will endanger public safety and make it more difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs.
Sadly, this amendment has the support of the democratic leader in the senate. Senators Wyden and Merkley should do everything in their power to defeat this amendment - including support of any filibuster.
With today's historic nomination of federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama has fulfilled his promise to appoint a jurist with outstanding legal credentials as well as empathy for the daily struggles of individuals and families.
RCRC is a coalition for mainline Christian denominations (United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church USA, Presbyterian Church USA, etc.), Jewish groups and other interfaith partners.
During the second day of her Senate confirmation hearings, Judge Sotomayor has now been asked for her views on the Second Amendment. She has given clear and responsible answers, while not pre-judging any issues that may come before her on the Court. We have been impressed with her presentation.
In stark contrast, gun lobby extremists have revealed their preference for an activist Supreme Court Justice who would support their ‘any gun, anywhere, anytime’ ideology. Judge Sotomayor's comments today as well as her judicial opinions in cases involving gun laws, however, show respect for the Constitution, for precedent and for the considered judgments of legislative bodies in protecting communities from gun violence.
The Religious Right, however, is clearly displeased by the nomination. The Family Research Council's leadership has stated that "President Obama has nominated a radically anti-Second Amendment judge to be our newest Supreme Court justice."
The nomination is expected to be approved by the U.S. Senate.
I am proud of the Portland City Council today for re-naming a street just blocks from my home for Cesar E. Chavez. I cannot wait for the signs to go up when I will walk my daughters up the street and tell them the story of why Portland honors this American hero. A special thank you to former Mayor Tom Potter for his leadership on this issue.
Loaded Orygun notes that MoveOn.org is holding a rally this Thursday (July 12th 9th) at Noon in front of U.S. Senator Ron Wyden's Portland office (1220 SW 3rd, Suite 585) to advocate for a public option in health care reform. The General Synod of the United Church of Christ recently called for a single payer system of health care delivery and while in a ideal political environment that would be my choice the reality is a public option is the best and most effective approach we can hope for. President Obama has endorsed a public option and so should Senator Wyden.
I just watched Sarah Palin’s news conference. Governor Palin said that four years ago (really it was two and a half) that she promised voters effectiveness in government to Alaska voters. And then she resigned. That might have been the most effective act undertaken during her failed administration. What was the real reason she resigned? More scandal (link via NYT)? That wouldn’t surprise anyone. Regardless, what America saw today was a politician that couldn’t handle the pressure of serving as governor of a small state. Another reason to celebrate the vice-presidency of Joe Biden.
The editorial board of the St. Louis Dispatch reports:
State Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O’Fallon, is staking out a strong position on child hunger: She’s for it. “Hunger can be a positive motivator,” she notes in the latest edition of her newsletter. More precisely, Ms. Davis is against summer feeding programs for poor kids. They are an excuse “to create an expansion of a government program,” she says. Ms. Davis chairs the House Special Standing Committee on Children and Families. In that position, she might be expected to have insight into child hunger in our state. She might know, for instance, that about one in five Missouri children lives with hunger. That ties us with Louisiana for the nation’s seventh-highest rate, according to a report released last month by the hunger-relief charity Feeding America. Or that the recession has pushed the number of poor Missouri kids who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches by 8.3 percent this year, well above the national average. Apparently not.
The ignorance is shocking enough for a politican but it is even more tragic coming from someone who calls themself a Christian.
Views expressed here represent the perspectives of Rev. Currie, as well as reader participants, and may not represent the views of Pacific University, the United Church of Christ’s national offices in Cleveland or any local UCC congregation. External links made from this site should not construe an endorsement. Rev. Currie has no more editorial control over such content than does a public library, bookstore, or newsstand. Such external links are made for informational purposes only.