Feb. 25, 2014 - Belhaven, NC — Vidant Health, a system of hospitals serving 29 counties in North Carolina's "Black Belt," announced six months ago that it would be closing the Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven, NC, which they had purchased two years earlier.
When they obtained the hospital from Pantego Creek, LLC, Vidant Health signed a contract promising that the hospital would remain open, and to improve services. The original purpose of this meeting was to hear a proposal from Rural Community Hospitals of America (RCHA), contradicting Vidant Health's claim that the hospital cannot be run more efficiently, and offering to do so, as RCHA has done in more than 200 small towns across the country. For this to happen, Pantego Creek, LLC would have to take action to reacquire the hospital (presumably through legal action over breach of contract).
On January 8, 2014, Belhaven's Mayor Adam O'Neal had asked the Town Council to approve funds that would allow RCHA to conduct the in-depth study of Vidant Pungo Hospital's prospects and financial outlook. On Feb. 24, RCHA presented the findings to the Town Council and a packed house of concerned citizens, the overwhelming majority of whom wanted the hospital not to be shut down.
This put additional pressure on Vidant Health and the leadership of Pantego Creek, LLC who together had made every effort to argue the hospital was not viable, and, who, most believe, had made an agreement to close the hospital long before RCHA study was completed. [MORE at StoryofAmerica.org]
If news entertainment programming was produced and disseminated by poor people, I wonder if it would be the rich who are blamed by most media consumers when it comes to our federal deficit. According to a new Senate Report, a Swiss bank called Credit Suisee has helped wealthy clients defraud the American people of billions of dollars over the course of many years, and, refuses to cooperate with Justice Department to bring the tax evaders to justice.
Danielle Douglas reports for The Washington Post:
"Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse helped wealthy Americans hide billions of dollars from U.S. tax collectors for several years and federal prosecutors have done little to hold violators accountable, according to a U.S. Senate subcommittee report due out Wednesday.
"The allegations were particularly stunning in the face of the budget cuts and deficits that the United States faces, lawmakers said. The report casts the Justice Department as a hapless enforcer that has dragged its feet in getting Credit Suisse to turn over the names of some 22,000 U.S. customers."
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Imagine a Super Bowl ad to fight money in politics. That's how this amazing new video plays. Nice job, Represent.Us!
Meanwhile, Public Campaign has created a fabulous website to raise public awareness about the Government By the People Act.
In the beginning the earth formed, and people arose upon the earth, and it was good.
The people hunted and gathered food to feed their families. They built shelters and tools, and they sang, and danced, and worked and played together in small groups, tribes, and villages, and it was good.
Some groups had plenty, others suffered shortages, so the people were happy to share and help one another. Everyone could remember a time when they had suffered shortages and others generously shared, and it was good.
Some people were naturally better at hunting, some better at gathering, some better at making tools, and still others better at using tools. They were happy to share among each other, and it was good.
Great explorers brought back stories of other people, living in strange and distant lands, with their own ways and their own skills and their own things. The adventuresome and the curious visited. We gave them our gifts, and they gave us their gifts. Culture flourished, and it was good.
As the territory expanded the exchanges became too many to remember, so they began a tally to record each gift. Some used small stones, others gathered distinctive shells, some used beads, and still others recoded the tally as notches carved on animal bones. These records helped the people remember each exchange, and it was good.
Around this time five years ago, I actually believed that the newly-elected RNC chair Michael Steele would make a sincere effort to reach beyond the old-straight-fundie-white-guy demographic, and that his selection as RNC chair was a powerful symbol of the GOP realizing that it had to deal with the reality of American life in 2009, as opposed to 1959.
I recognize today that Steele's selection was a powerful symbol of something else (tokenism), but at the time I truly thought that he would be able to take the party in a different direction. On January 31, 2009, I wrote the following for Human Events Online — you can see the flawed passion all throughout this piece. And if you think this is bad, you should have seen the piece I wrote for my now-defunct blog several weeks later, defending Steele's remarks about reaching out to so-called "urban-suburban hip-hop settings."
Hope Makes a Comeback
by D.R. Tucker, Jan. 31, 2009
Whoooooo! Now we go to school.
The election of Michael Steele as the new chairman of the Republican National Committee is a stimulus package for the GOP—a stimulus that will actually work. For the first time since Newt Gingrich left Congress, the Republican Party has a real leader.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t think Steele could pull it off. I figured that he would be doomed by allegations that he wasn’t really conservative enough for the position, and that a candidate like Ken Blackwell or Saul Azunis would get the gig. Thank goodness I was wrong. Yesterday, Steele showed that anything is possible in America.
Steele is a committed conservative, a gifted speaker, a big-picture thinker. He admires Reagan, but he recognizes that we are not in Reagan’s time, and that the country needs a new conservatism for a new era. Under Steele, the GOP could reach heights it hasn’t seen since the 1980s.
The last two months have been distressing for conservative Republicans. (I would argue that the last eight years have been distressing for conservative Republicans because of the former President’s fetish for big government, but that’s for another day.) We lost the White House by running a weak, old, ideologically incoherent candidate against the most politically skilled Democrat in ages. Our Vice Presidential candidate was smeared in a manner similar to the way Robert Bork was treated in 1987. The GOP began to morph into a rump party as blacks, Latinos, Asians and young whites washed their hands of the Republicans, seemingly for good.
Can Steele reverse this trend? If he can’t do it, it cannot be done. Luckily, Steele has the talent necessary to make things work.
Do you ever wish you could muster the courage to call a Senator or visit your Representative? Do you wonder what kind of person can do such things? Do you fear you lack the skills (whatever they may be)? Are you worried about how you will be treated by your elected? This week’s LUNCH WITH LOUDEN guest, Kathleen, faced just that and lived to tell the tale! Enjoy her story as an active citizen. Join us live on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 646-929-2495, or stream live or later at http://tobtr.com/s/5938531.
But first, enjoy Kathleen’s story.
Kathleen’s laughter is contagious as she happily explains her use of the word, “chatty,” as part of her email ID. She’s one of the most genuinely engaging people I’ve had the pleasure to talk with thanks to CoffeePartyUSA and the Coffee Party BlogTalkRadio shows, and it’s my privilege to tell her story about her visits to her state legislators’ offices.
Kathleen is too modest to say this, but I will. She’s a model citizen. She shows us all how powerful we as citizens can be. And without intending to (and without wanting any fanfare for it), she offers lessons on how we all can have an impact and more influence in our government.
Kathleen (yes, she’s too modest to let me use her last name) emphasizes throughout our conversation that she’s not some Constitutional expert. She says, “I’m just following my conscience.”
She loves animals, volunteers at an animal shelter and, not surprisingly, has adopted a few! She hosts an annual cleanup of a local beach, and is so genuinely modest that when she bakes desserts around the holidays and delivers them to the local firehouse “just because it’s the right the thing to do,” she won’t even give the fire chief her name.
You can tell by talking with her that Kathleen stays well-informed. She talked about always voting in elections, but says that that was the extent of her involvement with government until recently. Like many of us, she, too, had begun to lose faith in politics, politicians, and in our government.
That was until Facebook and her discovery of groups like Coffee Party USA and Wolf PAC. In fact, she credits a Coffee Party BlogTalkRadio show interview with Michael Monetta, Director of Organizing for Wolf PAC, a grass roots organization intent on reversing the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, for changing her perspective about what needs to change and how she could be part of that change.
Most antics we see from freshman Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) can be chalked up to political theater. Today's filibuster of the US Senate's vote to avoid a default on our federal debt was no exception.
The result was a dramatization of an important choice that Kentucky Republican primary voters, and ultimately all Americans have to make. On the one hand there is the Tea Party approach to democracy, where bringing the whole country down is noble and courageous when a radical minority cannot get its way OR, what Sen. Lindsay Graham called "pragmatic leadership" which involves compromise and putting the good of the whole above the narrow interests of the super wealthy (and consumers of media products created by the super-wealthy).
Sen. Mitch McConnell, the GOP minority leader in the Senate, chose the latter approach today, which may hurt him in his primary race against the Tea Party's Matt Bevin. It may help him, however, in a general election against Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes (Grimes leads McConnell 46-42 in the latest poll). And, more importantly, it could set a new tone in Washington.
Ramsey Cox and Erik Wasson report for THE HILL:
Without the [Tea Party] filibuster the bill could have been approved in a majority vote on the backs of Democrats.
In the end, 12 Republicans backed the motion. Many appeared to switch their votes before the final gavel, possibly to give one another cover after McConnell and Cornyn's pivotal votes.
McConnell's vote was particularly notable because he is seen as the most vulnerable Republican up for reelection this year. [more]
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A transpartisan approach to civic engagement steers clear of pre-packaged issue platforms. It encourages all Americans to put the facts first, and use their own intelligence in approaching complex issues.
Coffee Party USA is an invitation to participate in the democratic process with civility, with respect, and within a transpartisan framework. But let me make this clear: transpartisan is not a synonym for “neutral.”
Understandably, the word "transpartisan" attracts people who want to have a voice in our political process, but are turned off by the partisanship and ugliness with which it is waged. Many are conflict-averse, as most humans are. So, they seek a non-partisan or transpartisan group with which to organize. But they are often unable to take collective action because their desire to avoid conflict supersedes their desire to have impact. This is the challenge we've faced in the Coffee Party.
To silence everyday Americans like us, all that is required is a loud, aggressive, (and usually extreme) position. If this is repeated often enough, it is perceived as “controversial” and “partisan,” and so too is anyone who questions it. Thus, a conflict-averse citizen or organization is reluctant to take a position on anything people scream about in front of cameras. If we allow this to govern our civic life, the result will be a political process dominated by people who feed off of conflict, who subscribe to dogmatic ideologies, and aren't able to use their intelligence to examine complex issues because they are too busy fighting.
Chasing the Middle
Another pitfall for active citizens who are conflict-averse is that we spend too much time and energy “chasing the middle.” If your only goal is to find the "center" between two opposing arguments, you are giving up your right to define your own values. Since the 2008 election, the Republican party has moved to the right, decrying health care, infrastructure, and climate change policies they had once championed in order oppose President Obama. Does that mean that a "centrist" must re-calibrate his or her beliefs on those issues in order to find the new "middle?" As responsible citizens, we cannot allow someone else's electioneering strategy to alter who we are.
Let's be cautious of the assumption that, "the right answer is always in the middle." Often, the right answer simply cannot be found on the line defined by the only two options we are offered. Often, it's somewhere else entirely.
NOTE: Below is a letter written by Coffee Party contributor D.R. Tucker to conservative radio host Matt Lewis to thank him for interviewing former U.S. House member Bob Inglis of South Carolina. Inglis served in the US House from 1993 to 1999 and from 2005 to 2011, and now heads the Energy and Enterprise Initiative. CLICK HERE to listen to the the segment.
I appreciate your courage in having Mr. Inglis on The Matt Lewis Show
— and I do mean courage, since I recognize that it's far easier to ridicule Inglis as a RINO (Republican in Name Only) than it is to engage with his arguments. You did the latter, and for that, you've earned some of my respect.
I am a Massachusetts resident and former Republican; I was a member of the party from 1996 to 2011, and voted for Bob Dole, George W. Bush and John McCain, as well as Republican candidates on the state level. I also wrote for the "Right Angle" blog on Human Events Online
from January 2006 to March 2009, and hosted a program on Blog Talk Radio from August 2009 to June 2010, where I had the honor of interviewing Dinesh D'Souza, David Horowitz, John Derbyshire, Jerome Corsi, Richard Brookhiser, Steven Hayward, Jason Mattera, Mark Thiessen and Victor Davis Hanson, among others.
I decided to leave the GOP and become an independent largely because I grew sick and tired of the "RINO-hunting" in the party; part of that "RINO-hunting" involved the ostracism of Republicans who disagreed with Sen. James Inhofe on climate change. I felt that the GOP should be broad enough to encompass the views of both Sen. Inhofe and Rep. Inglis; I ended up learning, in a very vicious fashion, that this particular viewpoint would not be tolerated in the party.
I bring this up because you and Mr. Inglis made the point that tactical and rhetorical errors on the part of climate activists and "the environmental left" constituted part of the political problem blocking action on climate change. Even if I were to concede that point, I cannot forget that there is another part of the political problem blocking action on climate change: the 26-year-plus effort by what David Frum once called the "conservative-entertainment complex" to declare climate change a hoax and to rhetorically bludgeon anyone who suggests that the problem needs attention, including climate scientists such as Hansen, Ben Santer, Michael Mann, Katharine Hayhoe and Kerry Emanuel. Having myself been on the receiving end of these sorts of right-wing rhetorical assaults for merely suggesting that climate change is not a hoax, I can't let the other players in this particular game off the hook.
The Coffee Party social media network reaches millions of people every week, and we need your help to build on that in ways that inform the public and inspire civic engagement in the fight against money in politics.
Civility and trans-partisanship are non-negotiable as they are founding principles. Tonight we'll be formalizing guidelines on how best to live up to those principles as we elevate new voices (your, perhaps)
via our Facebook page
, Coffee Party Radio
, and Coffee Party News
. We'll talk about things like civility, issue focus, and comment moderation. Then, over the next week we'll finalize guidelines to be submitted to our elected board of directors for approval.
What's in it for you? You can get access to some pretty big microphones (as non corporate microphones go) and learn valuable skills on Facebook, Twitter, Scoop.it, Hoot Suite, and Blog Talk Radio.
What's in it for us? You will help us expand the voice of the Coffee Party to include someone like you. You'll contribute your perspective on weekly phone conferences that discuss how the Coffee Party is, and should be, covering issues and current events.
Our meetings are one Wednesday evenings via conference call at 9 pm ET / 6 pm PT. Click here to register.
We need you to help us exemplify and maintain our standards for fact-based and civil dialogue so that we can welcome, and learn from people and ideas from various political perspectives.