Monday, October 9, 2017

A Heart Without Words -- Words Without Heart

RIP Scott Galindez
(and the thousands of other Americans like 
him who die needlessly each and every year)
by C.A. Matthews

I apologize for the rawness of this piece. It is hard to get the words out without crying today. My heart aches.

My original blog idea was how so many politicians state they're sending their "thoughts and prayers" to the families of the victims of mass shootings, all the while doing little to nothing to solve our nation's nightmare of unregulated gun sales. We will get to that theme momentarily, but something important of a personal nature happened this week which demands to be addressed first.

Our country's lack of compassion has killed yet another innocent human being because we can't get our act together and pass a Medicare for All bill in time. His name was Scott Galindez.

To learn more about my friend, you can read his very  last story on Reader Supported News posted just days before his death. 

Warning: Have tissues nearby. If you're not the teary-eyed type, then you might want to be sure there's nothing breakable nearby if you feel tempted to throw things in sheer anger at the needless waste (and suffering) of a human life. 

The Most Important Legislation of My Lifetime by Scott Galindez: 

Here is his obituary:

You read that right--age 52. Scott was a few months younger than my younger brother. Imagine your baby brother or sister or younger cousin or friend dying needlessly... There was no way he should have been in this life--and ultimately death--situation. He worked and had private health insurance at the time of his death. But of course, his private health insurer didn't think Scott was a "good risk" for a kidney transplant, and so they would not grant him one. 

Talk about your death panels! For-profit, private health insurance companies should be labeled with skulls and crossbones they're so deadly.

 If Scott (and millions of other Americans like him) had lived in Canada, he'd be alive and healthy today. He would have received care earlier to treat his condition because the government health system would have provided it, and it would have never come down to him needing a life-saving transplant. 

But Scott made the unfortunate "mistake" of being American and having a job previously that  didn't offer health insurance. Because American companies don't have to provide health benefits and our government doesn't promise any minimum of health care to its people, his condition wasn't diagnosed or treated in its early stages when it would have been more cost effective and manageable.

In other words, neither Scott's former employers nor his own government thought his health was a priority. They both worked in concert to prevent him (and others like him) from receiving health care he needed because they simply didn't think he was "worth it" in the long run. They didn't value his life. They valued corporate profits more.
Our country can spend $700 billion plus every year drone bombing the bejeezus out of foreign countries (full of "fureigners," some of them children, no less), but we can't offer health care to hard-working Americans like Scott. No, CEOs of pharmaceutical corporations and health insurance companies need to make $300 million (plus stock options) yearly so they can maintain all those yachts and mansions they collect, much like we poorer Americans collect past due notices. The rich get richer, but even more telling, the rich live longer in the USA according to the statistical data because they have access to adequate health care. 

Talk about discrimination! One would think that we lived in a caste system in  twenty-first century America. The rich get whatever they want (and then some) when it comes to health care. Everybody else gets to fight for the scraps that "trickle down" from the rich persons' table. Perhaps the rich enjoy watching us poor folks slugging it out to see who gets the kidney when we need it?

Those of us who knew Scott Galindez aren't going to let these bastards live this crime down. We're going to keep up the shouting, protesting and fighting the status quo to make sure there are no more needless deaths like his. "Remember our Scott! No more Scotts!" we will cry until Improved Medicare For All (H.R. 676) and Bernie Sanders' similar Senate bill are passed.

I challenge you to do similarly. Don't let Scott--and so many Americans like him--die in vain. Let's create a living memorial to them all: Medicare For All. Or die trying... which I fear many of us will do before this is settled once and for all.


And now, some words about individuals who care more about their NRA lobby checks than their fellow Americans' lives and safety.
Words Without Heart
by C. A. Matthews

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy," is how these press conferences typically begin. All very good, but how does one's good intentions prevent these horrific mass slaughters (such as the 273rd occurrence this year in Las Vegas) from happening again or make families who have lost their homes and loved ones in a devastating hurricane feel better? Short answer: They don't.

The apostle James said it well when he said, "Faith without works is dead." (James 2:17) In other words, words alone do not give credence to your willingness to help others--you must take action and prove your desire to help. Alas, it seems the Trump administration is all talk and very little, if any, belated action.

The situation in Puerto Rico gives us an example of meaningless platitudes without true compassion. Hurricane Maria (on the heels of Hurricane Irma) caused massive destruction and left the majority of islanders without power and water. Trump's biggest concern as he tossed out paper towels to the crowd during his short visit? The budget is not what he thinks it should be, and Puerto Rico's rehabilitation is going to cost too much. (He feels the fossil fuels industry deserves $15 billion in subsidies, but Puerto Rico should pay back its crippling debt in full.)  He actually said: “I hate to tell you Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack.” How callous can you get?

He couldn't wait to belittle Puerto Rican officials and call them "ingrates" in his tweets. He even insulted the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz. Her crime? She asked for help for her hurting people. With less than 5% of the population having electricity and only 50% have access to drinkable water as of this writing, more are likely to die from injury and disease if those percentages don't come up. Wouldn't you expect your mayor to ask for help in this dire situation?
The mass shooting in Las Vegas brings out a torrent of "thoughts and prayers" from the mostly Republican Congress, but few words about gun control and outlawing automatic, military-quality weapons for private citizens. Nothing is done to prevent these horrific events from happening  again. Our elected representatives continue to calmly collect their NRA checks and do as their corporate paymasters tell them to do. 

Faith without works is dead, right? These Congresspersons prove their hypocrisy with every "thoughts and prayers" tweet they send.

Honestly, if an elementary school mass shooting can't bring about sane gun control laws in this country, then what will?
Have you ever wonder if the US has ever passed decent gun control legislation? Surprisingly, we have. It wasn't all that long ago, either.

 From Reader Supported News:

"...shortly after LBJ had dropped out, Martin Luther King had been shot to death in Memphis and Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles. Enough, thought Lyndon Johnson, and he put together a gun control bill and forced its passage even though he was at the nadir of his career in terms of political power. He did not get everything he wanted, but what he got was remarkable enough and, when he signed the bill, this is what he said:
Some of you may be interested in knowing-really-what this bill does:
--It stops murder by mail order. It bars the interstate sale of all guns and the bullets that load them.
--It stops the sale of lethal weapons to those too young to bear their terrible responsibility.
--It puts up a big "off-limits" sign, to stop gunrunners from dumping cheap foreign "$10 specials" on the shores of our country.
Congress adopted most of our recommendations. But this bill--as big as this bill is--still falls short, because we just could not get the Congress to carry out the requests we made of them. I asked for the national registration of all guns and the licensing of those who carry those guns. For the fact of life is that there are over 160 million guns in this country--more firearms than families. If guns are to be kept out of the hands of the criminal, out of the hands of the insane, and out of the hands of the irresponsible, then we just must have licensing. If the criminal with a gun is to be tracked down quickly, then we must have registration in this country.
The voices that blocked these safeguards were not the voices of an aroused nation. They were the voices of a powerful lobby, a gun lobby, that has prevailed for the moment in an election year. But the key to effective crime control remains, in my judgment, effective gun control. And those of us who are really concerned about crime just must--somehow, someday--make our voices felt. We must continue to work for the day when Americans can get the full protection that every American citizen is entitled to and deserves-the kind of protection that most civilized nations have long ago adopted. We have been through a great deal of anguish these last few months and these last few years-too much anguish to forget so quickly."
Americans weren't always so callous and without compassion. If we could do it in the 1960s, we can do so again. Let's do it. Let's improve the health and safety of all Americans--and let's not make those empty words. 

As Mother Jones said: "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living." Those should be the words we hear from now on--followed by the appropriate actions, of course.

Related stories:

This week's C.R.A.P. Award Winners are...
You know what to do: Call, email, write and generally bug these people until we see results. Let them know you don't appreciate them siding with the 1% against ordinary Americans.
Now, some  actions you can take this week to show the world you have heart behind your words.

From 314 Action:

314 Action
The horror in Las Vegas has left us heartbroken and desperate for change, C.A..
These massacres keep happening. They keep happening despite the outrage, despite the fact that 90 percent of Americans support strengthening our gun laws. 

They keep happening in no small part because of the vice grip the NRA has on our elected officials, blocking research and policy that could save lives. 

In 1996, the NRA pressured Congress into stripping CDC funding for gun violence research. Since then, it’s been practically non-existent -- leaving hospitals to develop protocols for gunshot trauma based on anecdote, not evidence, and lawmakers without the facts to fuel policy change. 

It's time to act -- add your name to demand lawmakers stand up to the NRA, fund gun violence research, and pass policies that will save lives >> We'll deliver your signatures straight to Congress to make sure our voices are heard.

This week, more than 50 people were killed and hundreds more injured in a matter of minutes as a man opened fire from his hotel room. And every single day, 93 Americans are shot and killed. 

Yet gun violence is the least-researched leading cause of death in the United States because of the NRA. They’ve fought this research because they know that gun violence is an epidemic -- and common-sense policies will cut into the gun manufacturers’ profits. 

Sending “thoughts and prayers” isn’t even close to enough from our elected officials. The only way we’re going to address the crisis of gun violence in America is to fund research and pass effective policies based on that research.
Take a stand against the NRA -- add your name and demand Congress act now!
Thanks for speaking up.
Harmony Knutson
Director of Advocacy
314 Action

 From Our Revolution:

Right now, fifty Registered Nurse volunteers from National Nurses United's disaster relief program, the Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN), are on the ground in Puerto Rico delivering critical health care services to people who are in desperate need of help.

The situation is dire. Hospitals are overwhelmed and local clinics and doctors' offices are still closed due to lack of electricity. The collapsed infrastructure is keeping patients with storm-related injuries and long-term health needs from receiving care. Without food, clean water, adequate shelter, medicine, or electricity, we may be facing a humanitarian calamity.

Our two-week deployment, in coordination with the AFL-CIO, will be spent delivering medical aid directly to the people who need it the most. We are doing what the federal government has failed to, but we don't have the resources that they do.

Here's what one of the RN volunteers found:

“We couldn't believe this is part of the United States. We did home visits in the low-income community today with the local public health liaisons to help them do basic blood pressure, blood sugar checks, refill their meds, and more. People who were already suffering from chronic diseases now live in an environment full of hazardous materials and poor sanitation.

“People could not get a hold of their doctors due to the closure of many clinics in the area. It's also hard to get prescriptions filled since they don't have money. We hope we can go further to the rural areas away from the cities where communications are cut off and people really can't get any help.”

National Nurses United will always remain on the side of those in need. Whether that means fighting for Medicare for All alongside Our Revolution or providing direct aid in Puerto Rico, we will be there.

RNRN Relief Mission
Your support means everything to our ability to get RNs on the ground, and more importantly to the people of Puerto Rico. Thank you.

In solidarity,

RoseAnn DeMoro
Executive Director
National Nurses United / California Nurses Association


The Department of Homeland Security is doubling down on their electronic monitoring of social media accounts belonging to immigrants.1 And that’s all immigrants: green card holders and naturalized citizens, too.2  We’re partnering with Presente – the largest Latinx online organization advancing social justice with technology, media, and culture – to tell the Homeland Security to cease and desist immediately. The deadline for public comments is October 18th.  

Tell Homeland Security: Stop spying on immigrants’ social media accounts. 
Homeland Security announced this policy earlier this week, and privacy and immigration advocates raised concerns. Then Homeland Security back-pedaled by saying that they’ve already been monitoring the social media of all immigrants since 2012.3 

When it comes to surveillance, the Department of Homeland Security has been on the razor’s edge of unnecessary and invasive tracking of immigrants at the US border and airports, from searching through cell phones to capturing biometric data, and, soon, collecting DNA samples.

Monitoring the social media accounts of all immigrants in the U.S. is one of many steps taken too far. Further, this will enshrine a terrifying “new normal” for our nation’s immigrants – creating a hostile online environment where anything you say on social media can be documented in your immigration file. 
Demand Progress and Presente are teaming up to tell Homeland Security to shut down social media surveillance immediately. Will you join us? 

Tell Homeland Security to stop spying on immigrants’ social media accounts.
 Thanks for taking action,
Reuben and the team at Demand Progress

1. Gizmodo, "US Homeland Security Will Start Collecting Social Media Info on All Immigrants October 18th [Updated]," September 28, 2017.
2. Buzzfeed, "People Are Worried About DHS Plans To Gather Social Media Info," September 28, 2017.
3. Gizmodo, "US Homeland Security Says Tracking Social Media of Immigrants is Nothing New," September 28, 2017.

From Public Citizen:

If you haven’t been following the story about President Donald Trump’s NAFTA renegotiation, it’s time to start.

Negotiations are well underway — and remarkably, it appears that Trump’s trade team is considering eliminating perhaps the most damaging, pro-corporate aspect of NAFTA, a provision called Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

ISDS empowers corporations to sue governments for health, safety, environmental and other laws they claim unfairly cost them the profits they were counting on.


Sign the petition now to reject this corporate power grab in NAFTA.

Under ISDS, multinational corporations can sue the U.S. government (or Mexican or Canadian governments) in front of a tribunal of three corporate lawyers and allege a violation of their special NAFTA rights.

These lawyers can order U.S. taxpayers to pay the corporations unlimited sums, including for the loss of expected future profits.

Outrageously, taxpayers from the three NAFTA countries already have paid hundreds of millions to corporations following attacks on toxic bans, environmental and public health policies, and more.

These ISDS terms also encourage job offshoring, by eliminating many of the risks of locating overseas. More than 930,000 American jobs are certified under just one narrow government program as lost to NAFTA, and the number keeps rising.

Sign the petition opposing ISDS now.

Big Business and Republican congressional leaders are desperately scheming to save these NAFTA terms that make it easier to offshore jobs and attack the laws our families rely on.

That’s why Public Citizen is spearheading a coalition of groups concerned about democracy, health, safety and jobs to foil their efforts.

This is our chance to reverse this corporate power grab.

Add your name to demand that Congress oppose any NAFTA renegotiation that includes ISDS.

Take action now.


Robert Weissman
President, Public Citizen


  1. Scott left quite a legacy of Progressive action, and he'll be sadly missed. It's a tragedy that he died because this country lacks the single payer healthcare system known, used and loved in the civilized world. Right now America's claim to be a civilized nation is looking very shaky.

    1. No kidding--we're about as civilized as rats. We feed off each other and the rich gather all the scraps and hoard them. It's time to wake up to how toxic unfettered capitalism truly is!

      RIP Scott. You did well and will be sorely missed.


Please feel free to share your thoughts with us. Just one rule: Be polite. This means no profanity or cursing. No shaming or hate speech. No threats or silliness. This is a family friendly blog. Thank you.