The Dispatch’s photo on Page 3A of the Oct. 15 issue speaks volumes to Arizonans on the year 2020 and the four years we have endured under the Trump administration. On view are three sections of a hundreds-year-old saguaro, cut to make way for the border wall looming in the background, the wall built with illegal funds stolen from military budgets and in violation of environmental regulations. On Indigenous Peoples Day, members of the Tohono O’odham Nation, our neighbors, came to Organ Pipe National Monument to protest the building of that wall on their sacred land.
We can vote for leaders that respect the indigenous peoples that cared for Arizona before us, for those that respect science and for those that love our planet. We can’t fix what is wrong with our country with platitudes such as flag, Constitution and democracy, words quick to come from Trump supporters. We vote not for the flag, but what the flag represents. We vote, not for "the Constitution" or parts of it cherry-picked out that suit our interests, but we vote for all of the Constitution and all of the concepts it embraces.
We can vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We can vote for Mark Kelly and a change to our Senate that has left 300-400 bills in Mitch’s drawer, at least one of which is badly needed pandemic relief. We can vote for our congressman from CD1, Tom O'Halleran, who continues to do his job and send bills for Arizona to the Senate. We can support all the Democrats on our ballot, including those representing us in the state, Barbara McGuire and Sharon Girard in LD8 and JoAnna Mendoza and Dr. Felipe Perez in LD11. Your vote has never been more important, make your plan now to get it done.
Here it is just days after 9/11, and those of us who were old enough at the time to process the event know where we were that awful day. In the days after, we truly became the United States of America. We came together to grieve together, to reach out to every family member and make sure they were all right, to reach out to neighbor and our cousin's neighbor to tell them we were with them. Nineteen years ago, no one would have believed that a Republican-led Senate would for years stall health care coverage for the first responder heroes of that day, and no one would have believed this week’s news that the Trump administration secretly withheld $4 million from this fund.
Now in 2020, we face an enemy 64 times more deadly than 9/11 — the coronavirus. Yet, with 194,000 already lost, we have not come together to fight this virus, we are not wearing masks as our opportunity to protect our family, our friends and our country. The president of this country has worn a mask maybe three to four times and has just concluded an indoor rally with maskless attendees in Phoenix, a "superspreader" event. He just called our veterans “suckers” and “losers.” The Trump-installed communications director at the CDC, with not a scrap of scientific background, is editing the MMWR, the weekly scientific data communication of the CDC to health professionals.
We can do better than this, America, because we did. In September 2001 we came together as a nation. We can do it again, but not with this president, not with this Senate that won’t even vote on bills. Give our country a chance and vote for change, vote for Democrats.
There is a lot of news in Arizona — our COVID cases are still increasing, and people are dying. One thing that is not news: Martha McSally is still telling everyone that she is going to protect preexisting conditions. Frankly, I’m worried about the young lady from Martha’s newest ad. She has a preexisting condition and is sure that Martha is going to protect her. When in the House, Martha voted every time to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which does protect preexisting conditions. Since its inception in 2010, according to Newsweek, the Republicans have voted 70 times to try and repeal Obamacare. Since she got to the Senate, Martha has continued her attack on those with health issues. She has voted for and supports the Protect Act — a Republican six-page bill designed to replace the well-thought-out 2,500-page-plus Affordable Care Act. The Protect Act lets insurers charge whatever they want to those with preexisting conditions. In October 2017, Trump failed to pay the federal government subsidy to insurers that was promised in the Affordable Care Act, and on June 26, 2020, Trump’s Department of Justice filed a brief supporting Republican attorneys general to eliminate Obamacare, which would leave millions of Americans uninsured during a pandemic.
Health insurance is complicated, it was complicated before COVID and now is far more complicated. Millions are now unemployed, thus have no employer-based health insurance. Millions have or had COVID, thus have a preexisting condition. All hospitals, especially rural, face daunting financial issues. Each hospital COVID case costs thousands of dollars. Arizona needs someone we can trust, like Mark Kelly, to lead us through this pandemic and the chaos it has brought to us and our health care system.
Does anyone think, now that we are three to four months into a global pandemic, that the for-profit system of health coverage that we have in this country will be able to continue as before?
If you are over 65 and thus on Medicare, our country's best health care coverage, please refrain from yelling “socialism," and thank God and country every night for your Medicare card and your Social Security payment. The hot debate in the early primaries (was that only a few months ago?) between "health care for all" and expanded Obamacare is now a new story. Since passage of Obamacare, Republicans have voted repeatedly to "repeal and replace," but Republicans have never offered any plan for replacement. Despite her ads, Martha McSally, in the House and in the Senate, voted countless times to repeal Obamacare with its preexisting conditions protections, and as we write this, Donald Trump’s Justice Department is in court trying to invalidate Obamacare. He has already issued several Executive Orders to unfund and undermine it.
For now, those who are without health care can visit Sun Life, a federally qualified community health center, and get help to apply for health care. One should call first for an appointment and be prepared to bring in financial documents. Call 520-381-0394 and ask for an enrollment specialist. The $600 one is now getting from the federal government does not count into your income for AHCCCS eligibility. One can first apply for Obamacare, which generally needs to be done within 60 days of layoff. For more information visit www.healthearizonaplus.gov (note the e) or healthcare.gov. Health care coverage, especially now, is an investment in yourself and your family.
Michael Flynn is in the news again (Justice for Mike Flynn, May 2). Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI on two occasions and he has stated in open court to Judge Emmet Sullivan that he was indeed guilty. There is no doubt about his guilt. The FBI has an intercept — a tape of the conversation between Flynn and Kislyak — where Flynn told the Russian ambassador to ignore the sanctions that President Obama placed on Russia for interfering in the 2016 election because the Trump administration would deal with it differently. So, yes, he told our adversary Russia to ignore sanctions from our country’s president, and yes, he lied to the FBI when they asked him about it. Recently, notes from FBI agents preparing for the Flynn questioning have been quoted but not in their entirety. There were hundreds of pages of emails and notes among the FBI personnel discussing the Flynn interview turned over to Flynn’s new lawyer, the Fox News favorite, Sidney Powell. In addition, Michael Flynn and his son Michael Flynn Jr. were both criminally liable for not registering as foreign agents for their involvement in a plot to kidnap cleric Fethullah Gulen for the Turkish government for which they were to be paid millions of dollars.
If it was up to me, I would have charged Flynn with treason. Flynn was a lieutenant general in the U.S. Army who went behind the back of the sitting U.S. president and called our adversary Russia, and plotted with a foreign government to kidnap a cleric; he should have known better. Before Donald Trump there was an America, and a Republican Party, that saw Russia as an adversary, who respected the rule of law.
Arizona voters, you are in luck! While the rest of the country wrestles with the obvious need for mail-in voting during this pandemic, Arizonans are fortunate — you already have a law on the books called Permanent Early Voting List, or PEVL. Arizona has two types of mail-in voting — the Early Ballot is a request for a mail-in ballot for one or two elections (other states call this an Absentee Ballot) and the PEVL. A voter can disenroll from PEVL with a signed application, so PEVL is the easier choice. Right now, reports are that 80% of you have already signed up for PEVL. Now is the time, when many of us have time on our hands, for the other 20% of voters to apply for PEVL!
There are two ways to apply. You can reregister to vote and check the box for PEVL at ADOT, accessed through ServiceArizona.com. (This site is closed until April 21 for an update.) This is a good choice if you have recently moved or changed your name. Alternatively, you can go online to the Pinal County Recorder’s Office at https://www.pinalcountyaz.gov/Vote/Pages/PermanentEarlyVotingRegistration.aspx for a one-page application. The application asks for your name, address, telephone number, date of birth and your signature. It’s important to take a minute to sign your name, because if it does not look like the same signature as the one on your ballot, they could throw your ballot out. If you don’t have access to the internet, call Pinal County 311 at 520-509-3555. Mail your application back to the address on the bottom of the page.
Republicans might be on to something. The only way today that Republicans and their current values can win an election is to suppress voting. It’s time for you to get that same good feeling you get when you go to the polls and vote — and sign up now to get a mail-in ballot.