Thursday, July 23, 2009


President Barack Obama visited the renowned Cleveland Clinic today, getting a hands-on demonstration of their exemplary medical services. After the visit, the president continued his efforts to gain support for health care reform by speaking at a town hall meeting.

The president has vowed to make health insurance reform his number one priority and, with delays in getting consensus before the August congressional recess, is now urging Congress to have new legislation on his desk before the end of the year. That's practically lightning speed in Washington where, as Obama said in his nationally televised press conference last night, "inertia is the default."

Some have asked why Obama wants to move so quickly on this issue. Here's what he said today:

Whenever I hear people say that it's happening too soon, I think that's a little odd. We've been talking about health care reform since the days of Harry Truman. How could it be too soon?

I don't think it's too soon for the families who've seen their premiums rise faster than wages year after year. It's not too soon for the businesses forced to drop coverage or shed workers because of mounting health care expenses. It's not too soon for taxpayers asked to close widening deficits that stem from rising health care costs -- costs that threaten to leave our children with a mountain of debt.

Reform may be coming too soon for some in Washington, but it's not soon enough for the American people. We can get this done. We don't shirk from a challenge.

Some consider health insurance reform an intractable issue, but under the Obama Administration, I believe that progress is finally being made. I don't know if the legislation that will emerge from the House and Senate will be the best possible plan (in fact, I doubt it, since they are loath to embrace a single payer system), but I do know that action is urgent. Finally, perhaps the broadest coalition of doctors, patient advocates, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and government agencies in history is working to make it happen.

It isn't accomplished by a long shot, but it is a good beginning. In fact, I'm beginning to believe that health insurance reform is actually going to happen --- and I'm not crazy... I'm just a little unwell. ;)

Now let's see if we can all avoid slipping too far downhill before this thing gets put in place.

Obama concludes:

...we've forged a consensus that has never before been reached in the history of this country. Senators and representatives in five committees are working on legislation; three have already produced a bill. Health care providers have agreed to do their part to reduce the rate of growth in health care spending. Hospitals have agreed to bring down costs. The drug companies have agreed to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors. The American Nurses Association, the American Medical Association, representing millions of nurses and doctors who know our health care system best, they've announced their support for reform. (Applause.)

Read more about health insurance reform, along with action on other issues on Obama's agenda, at

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Opening Night: Homemade Jamz Blues Band

So I was watching Tavis Smiley on PBS last night, and at the bottom of the show he had on an unexpectedly rocking set of musicians: two teenage guys and their ten year old sister who call themselves the Homemade Jamz Blues Band. They are Ryan Perry (age 17), guitar and vocals; Kyle Perry (age 14), bass and back up vocals, and; Taya Perry (age 10), drums. I was sure it was going to be some kind of gimmick, but these young musicians just blew me away.

See for yourself:

Proof positive that you don't have to have a lot of years under your feet to sing and play some downhome, authentic blues.

Must be something about the air in Tupelo, MS.

Learn more about them in this NPR "All Things Considered" feature story.

Their new CD is I Got Blues for You, available at Amazon and everywhere.

"Opening Night" is a recurring feature, spotlighting newly announced projects, new releases and new artists --- often at the same time.