American Views Abroad

Monday, August 25, 2008

James Carroll: Breaking the Cord with the Clintons:

Barack Obama defines himself by change. This week, he inherits a party that has made itself hostage to Clinton self-obsession. In fact, that defines his opportunity. If he can free himself and the Democrats from the shackles of such a past, changing a nation should be easy.

Saturday, August 23, 2008
An open letter action to Barack Obama -- Change We Can Believe In -- can be signed by any concerned citizen at

'We urge you, then, to listen to the voices of the people who can lift you to the presidency and beyond. ....We recognize that compromise is necessary in any democracy. We understand that the pressures bought to bear on those seeking the highest office are intense. But retreating from the stands that have been the signature of your campaign will weaken the movement whose rigorous backing you need in order to win and then deliver the change you have promised.'

Monday, August 18, 2008

These past few weeks were spent mourning the deaths of two friends, both of cancer, on both sides of the Atlantic. On the European side a 37 year old woman lost her battle to stomach cancer. It was a tragedy that shook everyone and not only because she had everything to live for: a young daughter, loving husband, good job, a zest for life. On the US side a 61 year old man lost his fight to pancreatic cancer. An old friend from college days, strangely the only one who was not a political ally, but someone who could respect another's opinion, who could look over and beyond immediate concerns to see the bigger picture. He was fluent in three languages, English, Spanish and Japanese and spent his few years of retirement helping out immigrants with health problems who needed a translator and a guide through finding health care in emergencies.

From all the agonies these two friends and their families encountered in the last six months, it was notable that invariably whenever calling New York to find out how things were the conversations would basically be centered on vehement complaints about how what was supposed to be excellent health insurance proved to be anything but, or how uncaring the hospital situation seemed to be, or how hard it was to get some advice from doctors or nurses, or how patients seem to be pushed around from one hospital to another and at the end, the family was forced to find a hospice so it could be present day and night with its loved one. It stood in stark contrast to how things are in Europe where the patient and her family could rely on the hospital and in all the many conversations about how things were, money was never, ever discussed. No reason to discuss medical bills because they were being paid for by her insurance company, in full. In fact, her husband will most likely not even know how much all those months of treatment cost. When the end came for her and it came within two and a half weeks of the final diagnosis, the hospital was there for her and her family.

In the magazine section of the Sunday Boston Globe Charles P. Pierce's article Sick Of It discusses healthcare and the present political campaign:

All of the issues in this campaign year seem to involve the fragility of things once taken for granted. Banks are failing. Mortgages seem like the end products of an elaborate three card monte game. The stock market is diving and taking our 401(k)s with it. All the tectonic plates beneath what we once glibly -- and smugly -- called The American Dream seem to be shifting almost by the hour. But health care is the issue that causes the deepest tremors. Even with the economy tanking and two wars groaning on, it's the issue on which all the shadowy polling data about whether the country is on 'the right track' comes into sharpest relief.

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