If you consider yourself a conservative, then you see the passage of the Health Care bill as the end of democracy as we know it. If you’re a progressive, then you see the bill as failing to bring the kind of democracy practiced in the rest of the modern industrialized world, where there actually is health care for all. But the bill does bring a few really important things that benefit nearly everyone.

One of the most important things the bill does is end “death panels.” Why, yes, they really do exist, only it’s not some horrible fantasy of a government-run dystopia. The “death panels” were being run by the insurance companies. Now, unilaterally canceling the insurance you’ve been paying for regularly for years just because you happen to actually be really, really sick will be illegal.

Another thing the bill does, although not immediately, is end pre-existing conditions. If you aren’t concerned about pre-existing conditions because you don’t have any, it just means your insurance company hasn’t told you about them yet.

A lot of folks are skeptical about the projected cost savings promised as a result of the bill. Me, too. I don’t think there’s nearly enough competition built into the thing. If you’d like a cheaper alternative, you can go to wewantmedicare.com and support a bill to let anyone buy into medicare for what it costs to provide it to you. Live long and prosper!
D. Zane Smith , Ventura

Trouble ahead for GOP
Opposition to health care reform spells trouble ahead for the GOP. A new Associated Press-GfK Poll suggests Democrats have a good chance for political gain with their successful enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. According to the poll, only 4 percent of Americans say the existing health care system shouldn’t have been changed at all. Although there had been no clear majority opinion on the best way to reform the health care system, most polls had indicated that at least 40 percent favored President Obama’s plan while another 13 percent favored an even more extensive overhaul.

The challenge for President Obama was that although there was always great support for health care reform, there was never a particular formula for reform that was easily supported by enough members of Congress in order to obtain the supermajority needed for earlier passage.

Imagine if the president needed to order a military action for our national security and that 96 percent of the public and Congress were supportive of this action. Now, suppose further that there was no obvious consensus on which strategic plan to use: land, sea or air forces. Should the president take no action at all? The trouble for the GOP, both in its opposition to the health care reform and its desire to repeal it, is that it may now be labeled as the party against all health care reform even though some form of health care reform was supported by almost all Americans.

Even worse for the GOP is that many of the provisions of the act are expected to be very popular once implemented — especially prohibition of pre-existing conditions, students remaining on parents’ policies until 26 years of age and tax breaks for small business.

The GOP gambled that health care reform could be blocked. Now that it has failed, it continues to fight for repeal and to block other initiatives that are linked to support for working Americans, including extension of unemployment benefits.

The Democrats stand to lose some congressional seats in 2010 because President Obama is not on the ticket. Do not be surprised if 2012 is a good year for Democrats, especially if the economy improves.

Jay Kapitz, Oak Park

Stop outsourcing security
Congressional hearings recently have painted a dismal picture of military contractor Blackwater’s operations, whose employees have stolen hundreds of weapons meant for the Afghan national police.

Blackwater is just the poster child for all that’s wrong with hiring mercenaries for our military tasks. These contractors waste billions of taxpayer dollars while engaging in legally and ethically questionable activities like billing the U.S. government for a prostitute!

More than 22,000 mercenaries are operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. These unaccountable hired guns have shot civilians and participated in torture at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities. And when they commit morally repugnant acts like the killing of civilians, they’re doing so on our dime and in our name.

And then they created a shell company called Paravant so they could keep getting government contracts after they trashed the Blackwater name. In fact, they’ve changed their name multiple times so they can keep getting contracts.

The Stop Outsourcing Security Act, introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., in the House (HR 4650) and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the Senate (SB 3023), would prohibit hiring private mercenaries like Blackwater to perform tasks traditionally done by the military.

We must stop giving contracts to businesses like Blackwater — and the only way to do it is to pass the Stop Outsourcing Security Act. Please join me in asking our elected officials to make this act a priority.

Bruce Jackson, Port Hueneme

A true tea party activist
I must be a tea bagger because I fit the model of the real tea party activists of yore. I pay taxes yet I have no representation.  I don’t want anything for free, I want to pay my taxes, and I also want representation. Unfortunately, I am a Democrat who has lived in California’s 24th Congressional District for the past 12 years, which means that Elton Gallegly is my “representative.” However, since he only votes as he is told, in lockstep party line regardless of the issue, he does not represent me.  

What a relief it will be when Tim Allison finally excises this lump from the body politic. Allison will represent all the people, of all parties, since he will care more about his constituents than his party bosses.

In the meantime, will that be one lump or two (since Tony Strickland also “represents” me)?

John Darling, Ventura