More

A Democratic senator's simple request to restore order in chaotic times.

Sen. Brian Schatz needs three Republican senators to take a stand in the name of normalcy.

Nobody really knows what's in the Senate's health care bill. It's a massive problem that needs to be addressed, so that's what Sen. Brian Schatz did.

Monday night, the Hawaii Democrat took to the Senate floor to criticize how his colleagues are handling their chamber's version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The bill, which is being written in secret by 13 Republican men, is expected to come up for a vote as early as next week. Understandably, that has some senators (and, you know, the American people) a bit stressed out by what has turned out to be a super-shady process.

In his floor speech, Schatz called on leadership to release the bill and let it "see the light of day."


[rebelmouse-image 19527271 dam="1" original_size="500x257" caption="All GIFs from Brian Schatz/YouTube." expand=1]All GIFs from Brian Schatz/YouTube.

A push for more transparency — especially when it comes to how our laws get made — isn't a Democratic or Republican issue. It's about accountability.

In 2010, now-Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (who was a member of Congress at the time) pushed for "a little sunlight."

Vice President Mike Pence, then governor of Indiana, spoke out against "legislation that'll affect 100% of the American people" being put together in secret.

And Sen. John Cornyn made a similar push to include "the rest of America that was excluded from secret talks" on health care reform.

Of course, in 2010, Price, Pence, and Cornyn were all talking about a different health care bill: the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare.

Back then, the argument that the ACA was being written in "secret" was mostly hyperbole. Today, what's happening with the AHCA is unprecedented.

Andy Slavitt worked closely with Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA's design and implementation during President Obama's term. On Twitter, he recently laid out the major differences between the Senate's process in 2009 and 2010, when it was considering the ACA, and what's happening in 2017 with the AHCA.

While the process for the ACA in 2010 certainly could have been more transparent, there's no denying the difference between 36 days of hearings and 18 days of markup then to absolutely nothing at all now — from 26 days of scheduled floor debate to as little as 20 hours. There's a big difference between the two processes, and whatever transparency problems existed back in 2010 have gotten much worse in 2017.

Like so much else in 2017, this secretive process is not normal.

Schatz's speech was a call to action for members of both parties to no longer let "not normal" be normal.

"This is the world's greatest deliberative body," said Schatz, referring to a sometimes tongue-in-cheek nickname for the Senate and its reputation for exhaustive debate on important pieces of legislation compared to the rapid-fire workings of the House of Representatives.

"Let the Senate be the Senate," he urged his Republican colleagues, hoping to find three who are willing to take a stand in the name of restoring order. If, after debating the bill on its merits in the light of day, the Senate passes it, at least it would be a return to how things are supposed to work.

It's easy to pin the breakdown of our political process on President Trump, but the truth is our legislators have the power to restore order — if they want to.

This isn't about Trump; it's about men and women, some of whom have been in Congress for decades, exploiting the new "everything goes" attitude in Washington where nothing seems to matter.

But this bill certainly does matter — to Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. Wherever we stand with our own personal politics, we should all be able to agree these types of massive decisions shouldn't be made in secret and shouldn't be rushed.

We need to say "no" to "not normal," and that starts with calling our senators and asking them to take a principled stand on the process behind this bill.

Watch a portion of Schatz's speech below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/embed/E6dQgvSXhlw?rel=0&controls=0&showinfo=0 expand=1]
Photo courtesy of Macy's
True

Seven year-old Pastor knows that simple joys make life worthwhile. He loves visits from Santa. And he loves a good hamburger.

However, unlike most kids his age, Pastor is bravely battling leukemia. After a year of doctors’ visits and painful cancer treatments, Pastor and his family needed a break. That’s when Macy’s and Make-A-Wish® stepped in to help lighten up Pastor’s year.

Make-A-Wish is a nonprofit that helps fulfill the wishes of children with critical illnesses. While some children wish for celebrity meetups or trips abroad, Pastor’s wish was specific and sweet: he wanted to meet Santa for a hamburger near his home in Sacramento.

To make it happen, Pastor’s local Make-A-Wish chapter reached out to its longtime partner Macy’s to arrange Santa’s journey from the North Pole to California.

Pastor arrived at the store in a white stretch limousine and was welcomed by smiling elves surrounded by hundreds of red and white balloons. Inside, Santa greeted Pastor from a silver throne inside a winter wonderland packed with oversized candy canes, golden gift boxes, and evergreens decked out in Christmas lights. Together they picked out ornaments from the Macy’s holiday display, then left the store together to visit Santa’s reindeer. After their big day, the pair feasted on burgers and hot chocolate with family and friends.

“When we heard about Pastor’s sweet wish to meet Santa, we quickly thought of our partners at Macy’s and what a wonderful tie-in to the annual Macy’s Believe letter-writing campaign,” said Michele Sanders, Vice President of Strategic Communications for Make-A-Wish. “Pastor, his entire family, and all involved were in awe of the ‘winter wonderland’ created just for him and Santa.”

Keep Reading Show less

George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" has been a beloved pop hymn for 50 years.

If someone were to ask which member of the Beatles was first to chart a No. 1 hit on the charts after the band's break-up, would you guess George Harrison? He was, with his song "My Sweet Lord" from his 1970 album "All Things Must Pass." It would be his biggest hit as a solo artist.

The song is a pop hymn of sorts, with two mantras from different religious traditions—"Hallelujah" from Christianity and "Hare Krishna" from Hinduism—alternating throughout. According to songfacts.com, Harrison wanted to convey that the two phrases were essentially the same, both calling out to God.

As Harrison explained in the documentary "The Material World": "First, it's simple. The thing about a mantra, you see... mantras are, well, they call it a mystical sound vibration encased in a syllable. It has this power within it. It's just hypnotic."

Keep Reading Show less

Pope Francis in Prato, Italy.

One of the most powerful commandments attributed to Jesus Christ is to “love thy neighbor as thy would thyself.” These words are a lot easier to say than put into action. But the pandemic provides a perfect opportunity for people to do so.

The best way someone can show their love for themselves and their neighbors during the current crisis is to get a coronavirus vaccination. A vaccination helps people protect themselves by making them less likely to get the virus and face hospitalization. It also makes it less likely for them to spread the virus to others.

It also helps reduce the stress on our strained healthcare system and frontline workers.

Pope Francis stressed this point on Monday in a speech his advisors accredited to the Holy See, an event that lays out the Vatican’s foreign policy goals for the year.

Keep Reading Show less

The 1990s was a magical time.

If you grew up in the '90s then you were part of the last generation of kids who lived without being constantly connected to the internet. You lived during that last gasp of the analog era where most of your entertainment came on tape and if you wanted a new pair of Guess jeans or LA Gear shoes, you had to drive to the mall.

Also, if you wore pants that looked like this, people actually thought you were cool.


Families mattered on Friday nights.



People listened to rock 'n' roll because it was important.



Hip-hop was at its peak.



People spent time talking to each other instead of staring at their phones.

Keep Reading Show less