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What’s the Matter With Democrats?

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Posted on Mar 19, 2010

By David Sirota

Ever since Thomas Frank published his book “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” Democrats have sought a political strategy to match the GOP’s. The health care bill proves they’ve found one.

Whereas Frank highlighted Republicans’ sleight-of-hand success portraying millionaire tax cuts as gifts to the working class, Democrats are now preposterously selling giveaways to insurance and pharmaceutical executives as a middle-class agenda. Same formula, same fat-cat beneficiaries, same bleating sheeple herded to the slaughterhouse. The only difference is the Rube Goldberg contraption that Democrats are using to tend the flock.

First, their leaders campaign on pledges to create a government insurer (a “public option”) that will compete with private health corporations. Once elected, though, Democrats propose simply subsidizing those corporations, which are (not coincidentally) filling Democratic coffers. Justifying the reversal, Democrats claim the subsidies will at least help some citizens try to afford the private insurance they’ll be forced to buy—all while insisting Congress suddenly lacks the votes for a public option.

Despite lawmakers’ refusal to hold votes verifying that assertion, liberal groups obediently follow orders to back the bill, their obsequious leaders fearing scorn from Democratic insiders and moneymen. Specifically, MoveOn, unions and “progressive” nonprofits threaten retribution against lawmakers who consider voting against the bill because it doesn’t include a public option. The threats fly even though these congresspeople would be respecting their previous public-option ultimatums—ultimatums originally supported by many of the same groups now demanding retreat.

Soon it’s on to false choices. Democrats tell their base that any bill is better than no bill, even one making things worse, and that if this particular legislation doesn’t pass, Republicans will win the upcoming election—as if signing a blank check to insurance and drug companies couldn’t seal that fate. They tell everyone else that “realistically” this is the “last chance” for reform, expecting We the Sheeple to forget that those spewing the do-or-die warnings control the legislative calendar and could immediately try again.


Square, Site wide
Predictably, the fear-mongering prompts left-leaning Establishment pundits to bless the bill, giving Democratic activists concise-yet-mindless conversation-enders for why everyone should shut up and fall in line (“Krugman supports it!”). Such bumper-sticker mottoes are then demagogued by Democratic media bobbleheads and their sycophants, who dishonestly imply that the bill’s progressive opponents (1) secretly aim to aid the far right and/or (2) actually hope more Americans die for lack of health care. In the process, the legislation’s sellouts are lambasted as the exclusive fault of Republicans, not Democrats and their congressional majorities.

Earth sufficiently scorched, President Obama then barnstorms the country, calling the bill a victory for “ordinary working folks” over the same corporations he is privately promising to enrich. The insurance industry, of course, airs token ads to buttress Obama’s “victory” charade—at the same time its lobbyists are, according to Politico, celebrating with chants of “We win!”

By design, pro-public-option outfits like Firedoglake and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee end up depicted as voices of the minority, even as they champion an initiative that polls show the majority of voters supports. Meanwhile, telling questions hang: If this represents victory over special interests, why is Politico reporting that “drug industry lobbyists have huddled with Democratic staffers” to help pass the bill? How is the legislation a first step to reform, as proponents argue, if it financially and politically strengthens insurance and drug companies opposing true change? And what prevents those companies from continuing to increase prices?

These queries go unaddressed—and often unasked. Why? Because their answers threaten to expose the robbery in progress, circumvent the “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” contemplation and raise the most uncomfortable question of all:

What’s the matter with Democrats?

David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books “Hostile Takeover” and “The Uprising.” He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at

© 2010

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JohnMcD's avatar

By JohnMcD, September 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

A nice explanation of how useless the Democrats have
become… In fact, they’re even more dangerous now
because they wrap up the corporate agenda and sell it
to vaguely secular and liberal people with good
intentions - the very people who will have to get
involved with something else if we’re ever going to see
true reform in the interest of average people.

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kulu's avatar

By kulu, June 6, 2010 at 9:17 am Link to this comment

I’m from the 51st state, Australia (AU) and don’t know all the ins and outs of the American political system. But I do know that voting Democrat or Republican or not at all will ensure nothing but the status qou will result.

For God’s sake vote for something different, the Greens if they are represented or progressive independents or citizens candidates.

It is in the interests of the people of the world that progressive Americans do something very soon before yet more countries and their people fall victim to America’s unrelenting military, economic and political attacks on them.

We, in Australia are also faced with a two right-wing party system which needs to be cast aside. Most people know it but are afraid to “risk” the alternative. Of course the real risk is not the alternative but the status quo itself.

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By ofersince72, June 5, 2010 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

I will make an attempt
they have the same problem
as all of us
this is what we were taught
we need, more, more, more,
they are no different than us
just in a position to accumulate
the great American Dream

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By Cole..., June 5, 2010 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

Well, glad to see this one back. Actually never really went away.

The June answer to the quetion now posed again is simple. There are no representation of issues which should be the heart and soul of all of us and espcially those of us who vote “D”. In short—there are no democrats in office or at best only a token few.

But it is not that we are “sheeple”. “D’s” turned out in large numbers. Change was wanted. Change is still wanted—throw the bumbs in office out!

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By ofersince72, June 5, 2010 at 1:22 am Link to this comment

Has anyone found an answer to this question yet??

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By Cole..., March 27, 2010 at 10:32 am Link to this comment

“What’s wrong with Demos?”
Damned if I know. First you’d have to define what is a Demo.

That definition, to me, would not be a guy who slogans himself as a ‘hope and change’ guy while refusing to spell out what he hopes to change. to add to the ‘not’, it would not be a guy who takes a month of thought to come to the same conclusion as the dumb george (who he replaced)came to without a second of thought.

It would not be the guy who rewards the economic theft by rewarding the thieves. Would not be the guy who grabs up the Nobel and with a ‘thoughful’ praising of historically wonderful wars then equates the illegal/immoral wars started by dumb george as being fit to be included. Illegal/immoral Wars for Peace? Is that guy a demo or a dunce?

Would not be this Congress, full of “cannot do anything—-to stop dumb george” because we don’t have the votes, and lieberman won’t let us and continue to be—not able to do anything because the minority party says “no”.

On the other hand, if we had an elected Congress full of Kucinick’s we would not have to define Demo we would have them defining Demo for us.

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By omygodnotagain, March 23, 2010 at 1:16 pm Link to this comment

What I call health reform means I never have to worry about paying when I get sick… end of the matter, ground zero, anything else is not health reform.
No one should go ill because they cannot afford to go to the doctor, anyone who disagrees with lacks basic empathy for humanity and should be kept far away from the levers of power

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By ocjim, March 23, 2010 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

The Republicans are such misanthropes that the Democrats look good in comparison, doing something that costs too much, but helps the people, while a bonanza to fat cats.

One only hopes that the benefits to the people of the fat-cat giveaway will begin to reveal what the people have been missing for years, hidden by conservative propaganda.

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By pundaint, March 22, 2010 at 11:51 pm Link to this comment

Causes for the revolution are alway obvious in retrospect.  Until then no
attention need be paid to the people.

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By Timothy Gawne, March 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No, the question should be what’s the matter with us?

We vote for ‘liberal’ politicians who stab us in the back, then whine when they
stab us in the back.

Nothing will change unless we start rewarding our friends and punishing our

If you voted for corporate whores like Clinton or Obama, you threw your vote
away and you have gotten exactly what you deserved.

Vote for Nader.  Vote for Kucinich.  Vote fore Edwards OK, he cheated on his
wife - like John McCain - like FDR - but he didn’t cheat the country.  We can’t
be picky here.

Rule of thumb: if you aren’t voting for someone that the New York TImes hasn’t
slandered as fringe/sleazy/pathetic you just aren’t getting it.

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By omop, March 21, 2010 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

They have become what they claim they are not.

  It’s all in the family!

  Senator Chris Dodd writes a financial reform bill but forgets to regulate
derivatives, “financial weapons of mass destruction.”

  Then one finds out that his wife works for the owners of two exchanges that will
very likely benefit from Dodd’s “reform” legislation.

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By Steppin' Razor, March 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment

“I am no longer calling myself a Dem.  I am keeping my registration so I can vote in NYS primaries, which is where most happens in NY.  I am not a Green. Am not independent. And I dislike the Republicans.”-NYCartist

Same here. The solution is to primary all Corporate Democrats. One should look at the Democartic Party before Roosevelt, no pols there to admire but with the 1932 election the Progressives started taking over the Democratic Party in a big way. It took a few years but before the 30’s were over we had substantial progressive majorities in both houses. That should be the goal of progressive Democrats, run the corporatists out of the Democratic Party. This will take Democrats VOTING in the primaries for progressives. Third parties are not the solution. Our system is not set up that way.

My opinion of this Corporatist Health Insurance Subsidy Bill??  KILL IT! Come back next year and try again. Keep trying it again every year until we get it right. To give up and give in to the corporatists is political suicide.

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By gila, March 21, 2010 at 8:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve been despairing a bit the past couple weeks, watching the liberal/progressive community rationalize this debacle as “historic” reform.  It’s been one of the worst communal delusions I’ve seen.  A banal kabuki performance of epic proportions, performed by what was supposedly the reality-based community.

I don’t know if this is the sum-total answer to your question, but progressives/liberals simply have no heart for the real political fight.  They get pushed around.  They get out-manuevered.  They get taken for granted.

And when the chips are down on the table, and the corporatists are staring them in the eye from across the table, they quietly fold their cards.  They take whatever crumbs are flicked in their direction.  They willingly abandon their own political and moral highground.  They get told they’ll take whatever they are given, and they quietly agree not to fight back.

Self-proclaimed “kossack” sites like Dkos degenerate into a mass delusion of pseudo-pragmatism, becoming giddy with celebrating warmed-over Republican ideas from the 90’s as “historic” reform.  It’s both extremely sad, and yet immensely entertaining, in a gallows-humor way, to watch.

Progressives, as a whole, simply have no understanding of basic political bargainning tactics.  And absolutly no stomach for playing real political hardball.

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By Anarcissie, March 21, 2010 at 8:13 am Link to this comment

P.T.—The difference between the present Health Care Bill fandango and the way things are normally done is that the Health Care Bill was brought forward in an unusually inept manner.  My guess is that the ineptitude has something to do with Mr. O’s propensity for hiring thugs like Emanuel and Summers, who are good at palace in-fighting, especially against their own people, but seem to have little experience with large-scale politics.  That’s just a guess, though—these people are pretty ugly and studying their works is not a pleasant business, so I’ve avoided it.

In general it is precisely the job of the major parties to collect large bodies of voters and then betray them in the interests of the ruling class.  That’s what they’re for.  If they didn’t do it, then the r.c. would have to find some other methods for securing political support, and the parties, bereft of corporate and celebrity support, would wither away.

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By kulu, March 21, 2010 at 2:32 am Link to this comment

The comments on this article (practically all of them) indicate that at least some American’s have cottoned on to Obama and his real agenda. But what about the rest of America and for that matter the world? And what about the Republican voters? Do they really believe their party is looking after their interests? And those who shrug their shoulders and don’t vote at all - will that help fix the problem?

It is high time progressive Americans voted for true progressives like Ralph Nader and not for play-play ones. Surely that is a better alternative than the other available options.

Come on do it for America and for the world which is also suffering because of the American corporatocracy!

I am from Australia which is doing its level best to follow America’s hopeless example but is itself too small to really have much effect on the rest of humanity. Fortunately too it lags behind the US it its attempts to wreck our education system, worker’s rights, the environment etc.

If America fails to sort itself out then there is little hope for the rest of the world for there is one thing it has that the rest of the world does not and that is a gigantic military capability and a willingness to use it.
I fear that most of all.

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By P. T., March 20, 2010 at 7:41 pm Link to this comment

I cannot think of a piece of legislation that has been dealt with like this one.  The usual way in a situation like this would be to try to convince people that their interests and corporate interests happen to concide or to let opponents kill a provision that one was ostensibly for.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, March 20, 2010 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment

P.T.—I think it’s default behavior for both the major parties in the U.S. in the 20th century.  It’s hard for me to think of a recent period when it was not going on.  The same is probably true of most or all other countries, but I don’t have direct experience of them.  The base can be right, left or center.  For instance, George W. Bush and the Religious Right.  They thought they were getting a man of God.  Not kidding.

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By P. T., March 20, 2010 at 4:27 pm Link to this comment

“take care of you and your children with single-payer not for profit healthcare”

Obama was proposing a public option, not single payer.

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By Del, March 20, 2010 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

TOA Walker and Sleeper,


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By Sleeper, March 20, 2010 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment

TOA Walker,

Amen to that!!!

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By lichen, March 20, 2010 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

To expect someone like Obama, who orders that schoolboys be dragged out of their beds at night, handcuffed and murdered, was going to take care of you and your children with single-payer not for profit healthcare would be extremely deluded.  These people are psychopaths; they murder, they destroy, they lock you up in prison, they send police to beat you up if you show up at their elite international meetings.  Obama, clinton, biden…these people are war criminal corporatist scum.

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By Del, March 20, 2010 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve come to believe that bernium (post below) has got it about right, sadly. With continued militarization here at home and more and more sophisticated weaponry and spying techniques, we are pretty much screwed in that regard.  And I agree,the mainstream political machine would destroy any alternative to themselves, they’ve done it before. But that doesn’t mean I won’t stop voting for the alternatives.

It’s the little things we do in our own lives that will change this culture of dominance. Not buying into all the commercialism that permeates the American mainstream is one way. Seeking authenticity in one’s life is a really simple way of undoing the corporate and political stronghold because these institutions are antithetical to that. Giving up on the idea that the political mainstream (or any messianic figure, no matter how appealing he or she seems) are coming to help/save us is another. That’s not what they are designed to do in this day and age. They may have been at one time, or at one time in some people’s imaginations, but they aren’t now.  I believe we have to get off of our dependency on heroes and icons (which doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t appreciate brave people like firefighters, or brave acts, and be inspired by them). If we are going to admire people as heroic figures, it would probably behoove us to choose these hero types very very carefully. But basically, we have to somehow depend on ourselves and help others who are having trouble getting to a place where they can depend on themselves. And the last thing that comes to mind at the moment is to always go for the artistic, not merely the entertaining, albeit art can be very entertaining, but it has the added bonus of being inspiring and expansive, not just an in-the-moment indulgence (though those experiences have their place, but shouldn’t take the place of deeper experiences.) One last thing, which is probably the hardest, is letting go of the anxiety—even of the current state of affairs. Anxiety is constricting and that is what the powers that be (so-called) count on. When you are constricted you can’t move forward, you can’t think beyond what the dominating entities want you to think beyond. It’s a way of keeping people consistently off balance and it’s really a form of mind control. The Washington double speak and the continuous broken promises and other shell games are some examples of how they accomplish that. Letting all that anxiety go, no matter how subtle and not being so focused on THEM (again, what they want, what any out of proportion ego would want and would thrive on) is extremely freeing and puts a person in a much more powerful position (true internal power).

Anyway, I think this is my next approach to this whole fiasco called the corporatocracy.

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By TAO Walker, March 20, 2010 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

Maybe, amidst all this doom and gloom, there’ll come a Day when at-least some among theamericanpeople (and ‘others’) will get sick-and-tired of the “clusterfuck” they’ve been sold as a “way-of-‘life’.”  Maybe on that Day a few will deprive their abusers of anymore of their precious Personal attention.  Maybe they’ll be able at-last to admit to one another, when that Day dawns, what a total waste has been any respect they ever (under illusion and/or duress) paid to a ‘system’ geared solely to “global” rapine and pillage….for the exclusive ‘benefit’ of their tormentors.

That’ll be The Day those among the domesticated peoples can finally start FEELING for each other (instead of just their own sorry ‘selfs’)....and begin finding The Way together out of the darkness overwhelming them in the virtual world-o’-hurt, and back into The Light of the Living Vision of our Mother Earth.


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By ofersince72, March 20, 2010 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment

What’s the matter with Democrats???? Their Democrats, what
did you think the problem was????

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By Sleeper, March 20, 2010 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

This is America Everything is for sale.  There is no nobility in our government.  There is no Chivialry in our purpose.  The ruthless, greedy, and criminal class rules and they are quite preditory when it comes to competition especially from any Robin Hood wannabe.

The system is corrupt and geared to kill us all.  There is no Humility in any force that seeks to rule only hypocracy.  Being Wide awake in America means keeping you head down, hiding in crowds and doing nothing that calls attention to any exhibition of liberty.

The enterprise knows the only way to enforce action is through intimidation.  “Resistance is futile” is the message of the collective.  Accidents ain’t always accidents.  Rove and Cheney have been quite upfront with that in the past.

No token human is gonna do anything but sell out.  Everything has a price.  They will hunt down anyone that doesn’t do their bidding.  Osama was on the payroll decades ago and contrary to the media rhetoric nothing has changed.  That is why he hits the ball just where they want him to hit it.

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By P. T., March 20, 2010 at 11:27 am Link to this comment

The normal pattern when politicians front for corporate interests is to rationalize as to why their positions are actually good for the masses.

The Barack Obama/Rahm Emmanuel twist is to instead pretend they are actually on the other side.  They may think they are being crafty, but I think many people are going to remember this.

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By Del, March 20, 2010 at 10:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I couldn’t have said it better myself. “False choices.” That’s exactly what we got from the Obama administration medicine show.

I agree with stuartbramhall’s sentiments too, along with many other comments here.

It’s the same old pattern of 1/4 measures and then blaming everyone else for not doing better. From what Dennis Kucinich implied on Democ. Now yesterday it sounds like Obama told him that if he held out for a public option they would have killed the whole thing? I don’t know how else to interpret Kucinich when he said ‘no matter what, they were not going to put a public option in the bill.’ So if Kucinich held out, what, they would have let it die? (And then blame him and the progressives I guess.) I have a hard time believing they would kill it over a public option; or, I would have a few months ago. But now I’m beginning to really believe they’re relationship with Big Insurance is paramount and totally supersedes what is best for people. A more sinister position than merely being incompetent (though they are that too). So, I guess they would have preferred to have no bill than consider a public option, which illustrates perfectly where their loyalties lie.

Besides being a bunch of sniveling little mice who pass bad legislation and then run back into their little holes crying that it wasn’t their fault (‘The Republicans wouldn’t let us, the unreasonable progressives got in our way , the Tea Baggers yellled at us’, etc.) a lot of the Dems also want to keep enriching the rich and I now have to believe Obama is in that camp. Just another con artist who is masterful at selling hope, change and progress with no intention of really bringing forth any of it. Or, is only willing to do it within very limited parameters which pretty much amounts to keeping the status quo.

I wish Kucinich would have held out and really made the Obama Admin. show everyone who they really are. Similar to what stuartbramhall said, it really is the corporations, congress, the executive and the supreme court against the rest of us. (U.S. Gov, Inc. They are really part of the corporate structure.) Whether this dynamic plays out politically or socially, I’m not sure. Everyone is so overworked and financially stressed that I understand why people have a hard time being politically active (myself included). What I would wish is that people just see more clearly what is going on and maybe start voting differently, using their purchasing power differently (what’s left of it) or at the very least, complaining a lot more, rather than just taking it and taking it and hoping for the best, like Americans tend to do. There is a lot more of us than their is of them. We should be more scary to politicians than we are. It would be better if we didn’t fall back into the arms of the betrayer as, according to Eugene Robinson, many people are now doing.

Anyway, I’m finished with the Dems. Only progressive 3rd party candidates for me now and donations to I got off of all the mailing lists which had to do with the White House and Democrats. I really want to stay focused on the path toward progress and not be sucked in to the deceptions.

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By P. T., March 20, 2010 at 9:28 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, if you have any examples, I’d like to hear them.

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By balkas, March 20, 2010 at 8:14 am Link to this comment

The system won once again. Whatever the system wants, system always gets.

The health care deform was once againg deformed; tho, after much and protracted tactical fighting, finger pointing, etc.

So, in a way, kucinich, did the right thing; if not for others and the prez, at least for self.
It is, of course, the system that reelects any prez and not a single pol.

It is the system that orders wars, cia terror, chooses or fires a prez, and not finger pointing, self-praising pols.

That’s why pols are called corporate, oops, public servants.tnx

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By stuartbramhall, March 19, 2010 at 11:42 pm Link to this comment

Excellent post. I can’t believe I was so gullible as to believe that Obama really intended to enact universal health care, reform Wall Street, end the war in the Middle East and deliver legislation reducing American dependence on fossil fuels. Instead he has wasted all the political capital he enjoyed in Jan 2009 on an extremely unpopular health care bill - that is really a corporate welfare bill. No wonder his popularity ratings are lower than George Bush’s. The Democrats should be running scared about losing the elections this fall. In my view the real contest this fall won’t be between Republicans and Democrats - but between Wall Street and the American people. I ruminate and rant about this and similar issues at

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By ofersince72, March 19, 2010 at 11:08 pm Link to this comment

Save the Obama presidency ??????
thats enough reason to want Kucinach gone !!!!

watching him and Nader together on DN was
better than the Vidal.Buckley of the sixties.

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By Hammond Eggs, March 19, 2010 at 10:44 pm Link to this comment

Kucinich claims that “we have to be very careful because there are those who want to destroy this president”.

So who gives two craps?  Go ahead and destroy him.  You won’t be able to tell the difference between him and whatever slab of beef the Republicans run against him in 2012.

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By ofersince72, March 19, 2010 at 9:44 pm Link to this comment

i think i know what happened..!!

the NINCUMPOOPS,  they took control

then the poop part rubbed off on everybody…

I sure hope the other part doesn’t start rubbing off !!!!

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, March 19, 2010 at 9:31 pm Link to this comment

P.T.—That is not new.

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By ofersince72, March 19, 2010 at 8:44 pm Link to this comment

There is nothing wrong with Democrat lawmakers
there is something wrong with us.!!!!!!!
They have fat bellies and health care…

They are the gunslingers from Capitol Hill. 
The hired guns of the international corporate world.
Anybody know what other purpose they serve???

Have us in a box and our elections rigged…....
getting restructured by the IFM and the WORLD BANK.
just like they did the BANANNA REPUBLICS because
that is just what America is now THE BANANNA REPUBLIC !!!
and there probably won’t be many of them to eat soon…
We take our food stores fore granted…but not for long..
Just one crisis away…..When do you believe it will be ??

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By ofersince72, March 19, 2010 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment

Unfortunatly P.t.  this is nothing new with democrats..
it is just more exposed now that we are more in debt than
we ever can get out of and the middle class is finally
reaping the rewards from voting in gunslinging crooks for
umpty ump years.

The underclass has known about the Democrats freewheeling
style for decades.
It is just more obvious now that it affects so many.

But not to worry,  I heard from Obama himself,
this bill will cut the defecit 1.3 trillion over a time
span of two and one half decades..
THANKS PRES !!!!!!!!!

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By P. T., March 19, 2010 at 7:12 pm Link to this comment

Obama has brought something new to the Democrats.  His method is to cut secret deals with corporate interests and then lie to the base of the party about the reality of what is going on.

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thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, March 19, 2010 at 7:05 pm Link to this comment

As usual, per nauseam, we hear the decrepit, “it’s as good as it gets” argument for passing this expansionist corporate legislation. It makes me wonder whatever has become of American backbone? Or have the vast intimidated demographic finally succeeded in destroying even the thought of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? 
If this is what is achieved by “working through the system”, just what exactly is the system being referred to?

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, March 19, 2010 at 6:59 pm Link to this comment

markpkessinger, March 19 at 8:11 pm:
’... On the other hand, if the bill is passed, it can serve as the thin edge of the wedge, so to speak.  The door will be open to refinements and changes through the amendment process. ...’

I don’t see how.  If the progs didn’t have the political moxie to get what they wanted out of Mr. O and the Democrats under ideal conditions, how are they going to get amendments passed?

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By berniem, March 19, 2010 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

Again I tell you. WE DO NOT HAVE A TWO PARTY SYSTEM! What we have is Tweedle Dee & Dum both vying for the hand outs provided by the moneyed ruling class, AKA the corporatocracy. These elected officials know that working for the citizenry brings only plebian rewards while doing the bidding of the aristocracy brings the wealth and stature that their egos and arrogance demand. By carefully playing the old bait & switch game along with ample amounts of lies & fear mongering to keep the peasants at each others’ throats as well as ramping up the paranoia towards those outsider enemies and, don’t forget an added dash of cognizant dissonance thrown in to keep the confusion level up to optimum, our beloved “public servants” pretty much pull a perpetual “Madoff” on us. What would really happen if no one voted for either party nationwide in all elections-local, state and federal? Do you actually think that any third party winner would ever get sworn in? How about martial law with Blackwater overseeing the festivities to ensure “plausible deniability”?

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By markpkessinger, March 19, 2010 at 5:11 pm Link to this comment

While I do not disagree with Mr. Sirota’s criticisms of the bill, and I certainly agree it doesn’t go nearly far enough.  Nevertheless, for people whose pre-existing conditions have prevented them from being able to obtain health insurance, for those whose policies have been abruptly rescinded, for those (in better economic times) who would like to move to different job but do not for fear of losing coverage, this bill is a gift.  I think most Democrats recognize that it doesn’t go nearly far enough.  But the political reality, I fear, is that if this bill is defeated, it will be a very long time until the issue is addressed again; and Democrats will suffer a similar fate as they did in 1994 when they failed to pass health care reform.  On the other hand, if the bill is passed, it can serve as the thin edge of the wedge, so to speak.  The door will be open to refinements and changes through the amendment process.

If I had my way, we would have long ago had a single-payer system.  If I had my way, this bill would have contained a Medicare buy-in, or at the very least a robust public option.  I’m not at all happy that neither of those has been included in this bill.  But it is important to remember that our legislative process, for better or worse, virtually never yields neat, clean results.  But I think it would be cutting of our collective nose to spite our face if this bill fails because of resistance from the left (where I place myself, btw).  Pass the thing, and then continue to work for further reform.  Kill it, and it will be at least another decade before it will ever be addressed in any fashion at all.

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By ron, March 19, 2010 at 3:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Good article and comments. I’ll add, and echo Big Jess, with a quote from the wise Frank Zappa, from a 1991 Spin magazine interview, when he was asked about possibly running for election: “The idea is to run as a non-partisan candidate and urge other people around the country to not only run but resign from the Democratic and Republican parties because the Democrats stand for nothing except “I wish I was a Republican,” and the Republicans stand for raw, unabridled evil and greed and ignorance smothered in balloons and ribbons. So that’s really not much of a choice and it’s nauseating to watch Democrats make speeches because they all wish they were Republicans.”

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By thebeerdoctor, March 19, 2010 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment

As usual, what is par-for-the-course for what is called a debate on issues, the real questions are never allowed to be asked. This is why Ralph Nader appears to the slickly connected in the media, as the guy asking all the wrong questions. Nevertheless, those are the real questions that need to be asked.
For myself, the most hideous part of the so-called “in the know” is that they convince so many that these man made problems are so complex that you need to rely on experts (military, social, economic) to inform everyone on what they should do. Thus, I must bear witness to all this budgetary hand-wrangling over what is, in actuality, a health insurance stimulus package. But then ask youself, when was the last time you ever saw one of those outraged tea-baggers protest a single expenditure in the military budget. The $trillion a year spent on that is never questioned and hardly ever even mentioned.
Funny too, how those who embrace corporate control and murder for the sake of gasoline, claim they have a fervent belief in “family values”. Whose families they are concerned about remains a mystery. It certainly is not most of the people of the earth or human family; and it certainly doesn’t apply to their fellow citizen families who have their loved ones killed or maimed, for the best that can be said by those who support these policies, is they honour “their supreme sacrifice”, just like former Vice-President Dick Cheney.
Real questions are hardly ever asked. Look at the profits of the health insurance industry and ask: why do they need a stimulus package? Fraudulently presented as the only way to provide health care for the many millions without any.
Other folks in this world realised that making obscene profit from human suffering is a disgrace and morally reprehensible. That is why they established national health services for their citizens; where doctors treat the patients and the government pays them without having to worry about some shark corporation demanding their piece of skim. Only in the United States does something so ancient and vital as the healing arts get transformed into some weird version of a Las Vegas turf war. Which is what this is. The Rahm Emanuel and David Boehner types are chiefly concerned about whether that skim goes into their respective party coffers. And that sadly, is the bloody gist of it.
Representative Kucinich’s capitulation to Obama administration desires reveals that it truly is a cruel joke to believe that the Democratic party, in any way, represents the interests of the American people. The populist gimmick is as phoney as the Republican party’s concern for small business. A pox on both houses.
As for the people without any representation? As one Zen saying put it: You Are On Your Own With Everything.
A somewhat scary thought. But considering where the pageant bipartisan leadership wants to go, perhaps not so much.

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By Big Jess, March 19, 2010 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nothing’s wrong with the Democracts.

They’re just Republicans who ran as Dems because they couldn’t win a Republican primary.

Simple as that.

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By NYCartist, March 19, 2010 at 11:57 am Link to this comment

I think RdV pretty much has it right.  I realized later (having seen the DemNow show online and also listening on WBAI ...see, that
Ralph Nader has a bit of kindness.  He was very kind to Kucinich.  (I sent a small check to Truthdig yesterday.)  Sirota’s article is good.  At the age of 7 0 (just) - 17 1/2 leap year birthdays, with the defection of Kucinich, I am no longer calling myself a Dem.  I am keeping my registration so I can vote in NYS primaries, which is where most happens in NY.  I am not a Green. Am not independent. And I dislike the Republicans.

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By cabdriver, March 19, 2010 at 11:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I suspect that the actual (and almost completely unspoken) problem underlying the Democratic Party’s capitulation to the medical insurance industry is that the private insurance corporations are probably the most secure, actively “performing”,  profitable part of the banking industry. (That may have been true even before the mortgage balloon popped, for that matter.)

Hence, the healthcare reform package that’s being offered is in some sense the result of a fait accomplit. There’s no way to cut the health insurance companies out of the deal without tanking the economy. And given the state of the Federal budget, there’s no cushion of funds available to allow the transition to a public option.

That may sound like excuse-making- but it isn’t as if I’m making up the facts that support my case. It’s simply a matter of practical number-crunching.

The US government is not a solvent enterprise. The national debt was nearly doubled in eight years under George Bush, and the annual deficit is something like triple what it was in the year 2000.

Anyone remember the World Bank, IMF, BIS, Import-Export Bank doing “structural readjustment” on busted-out economies in places like Latin America and the Carribean, in the 1980s and 1990s?

Well, the same thing is in the process of happening here, in the USA. We’re in the process of being “structurally readjusted.”

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By izquierda, March 19, 2010 at 11:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Not hard to see the slant this author has. Complaining about one party’s leanings or misgivings from the exact opposite perch is, excuse the reference, a self-executing fail. If there is an honest complaint in there, it will not get fixed or improved merely by throwing daggers. Although, upon further thought it is actually helping to determine what the priorities must & must not be. Because one side chooses to ignite then fan flames to distract from the necessary mission, doesn’t mean they must be given an equal share of consideration. The talking points have been noted, now the work of the masses must be done, & finally is.

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By FRTothus, March 19, 2010 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

Here’s what’s the matter:

“The United States has only one party - the property party. It’s the party of big corporations, the party of money. It has two right wings; one is Democrat and the other is Republican.”
(Gore Vidal)

“[The ruling elites] know who their enemies are, and their enemies are the people, the people at home and the people abroad. Their enemies are anybody who wants more social justice, anybody who wants to use the surplus value of society for social needs rather than for individual class greed, that’s their enemy.”
(Michael Parenti)

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By Southern Gal, March 19, 2010 at 10:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Politics has two faces in this country, Democrat and Republican. They are the same with cosmetic differences. The true power brokers determine who we get to vote for and what legislation will be passed regardless of party in power. I’m done with these two parties. I won’t financially or in any other way support them in future elections. I know how things should be and I know how they are. We don’t deserve to survive if we continue to embrace preemptive wars and ignore genocide, poverty, environmental destruction of our earth, and looting of our children’s futures in the name of global capitalism and greed for the few in real power. I’d like to think that we can have a progressive party and will do what I can to support one. In the meantime and for always, watch out for your family, your friends, your neighbors and those people you are in a position to help.

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By Sleeper, March 19, 2010 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

We are heading toward a dark chapter.  There may be some incentives released to feed our economy with jobs, but our government sells us a show everyday.  It favors corporate interrests both foreign and domestic.

The forces of global greed control the banks, energy companies and vitually all resources.  Our politicians are all too happy to provide access to these global leaders and they have a history of performance protecting these global interrests.  The only answer is in accountability.  Virtual money protects virtual power and we believe the lies.  It is truly sad.

I have heard that it is a sad cat that can’t bury its own shit.  Today we learn how arrogant racketeers can stand on a pile of dung and tell us we better get as much of it we can before its all gone.  They do this while insurance companies have uniformly raised their rates in excess of 20% to pay for the bribery that the Supreme Court says is legal.

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By Dave Schwab, March 19, 2010 at 8:11 am Link to this comment

What’s the matter with Democrats?

The modern Democratic Party gives lip service to its progressive voter base, and full service to its corporate sponsors.

Ralph Nader was right… about basically everything.

The Green Party is America’s only national progressive party. Greens are committed to grassroots democracy, social justice, nonviolence, ecology, and getting corporate money out of politics.

If you’re truly progressive, get active with the only party that will put people before corporate profits.

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By Anarcissie, March 19, 2010 at 8:02 am Link to this comment

The question is not what’s the matter with the Democrats; it’s what’s the matter with the people who keep voting for them.

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By jackie9, March 19, 2010 at 7:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When a country’s government is controlled by soulless corporate profit machines
that move through society like sharks searching for anything to eat, everything is
based on a sociopathic mindset from the top down. After the recent Supreme
Court’s ruling that corps can contribute however much money they want to
politics, it’s clear that the question isn’t what’s wrong with democrats, but what is
wrong with all politicians and judges. In my opinion, they all simply sold out and democracy has been dead for quite a while. It’s heartbreaking. It’s also become quite an insane society.

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By JB Turnstone, March 19, 2010 at 7:07 am Link to this comment


      A lawyer on his way to church
Approached a four-way intersect,
  And there he watched a shadow lurch
From where a stolen car was wrecked.
  The speeding thief had lost control,
Spun around a time or two
  And crashed into a power pole,
Which left him looking black and blue.

  The lawyer felt a sudden rash
Of dread arising deep within,
  For he who had endured the crash
Was Lucifer, the Lord of Sin.
  He reeked a wicked, rotting stench
And bore the guilt of guiltless slaughter,
  But the lawyer volunteered to quench
His thirst with everlasting water.

  Graciously, the Devil swore
To grant his host a single wish;
  A pot of gold, a pretty whore,
A hook to snag a trophy fish.
  Any longing, high or low,
The Devil’s honor would be bound,
  But the lawyer only wanted to know
Where Lucifer would next be found.

  “Truth be told,” the Devil said,
“I didn’t have a plan in mind.
  Far and wide my path has led,
And yet I’m never hard to find.
  I’ve run a long and hectic race,
But even I must rest a little.
  Crossroads are the perfect place.
I think I’ll stay here in the middle.”

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By Gloria Picchetti, March 19, 2010 at 6:03 am Link to this comment

What is the matter with the USA? It’s about corporations. Nothing more nothing less. We voted for Obama to change everything. Nothing is changing. The corporations own the politicians. The corporations own the country. There will never be health care reform here. Corporations are more important than American citizens being healthy.

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By RdV, March 19, 2010 at 5:31 am Link to this comment

What’s the matter with Democrats?
  After Kucinich’s last capitulation, does anyone really need to ask?
  On “Democracy Now”, Kucinich claimed that he couldn’t afford to have Progressives framed as contributing to Obama’s failure—as they previously targeted Nader for Gore’s loss. Instead, it renders them useless, considering there are others—Blue Dogs and DINOs who aren’t accused or blamed and continue to manipulate and make demands that Obama is more than willing to entertain.
And then Kucinich claims that “we have to be very careful because there are those who want to destroy this president”. Unbelieveable gullability when Obama has no one to blame for his own betrayal.
  If Obama continues and expands on Bush policy why would we want him to succeed? Would we want Bush to succeed?

  It is a right-on essay though, and I appreciate Sirota telling it like it is.

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By balkas, March 19, 2010 at 5:19 am Link to this comment

In a more, or much more, timocratic democracy people in US wld have had by long time ago their medical care for all.

In a corrupt democracy, one can expect more disinformation, wars, incarceration, suicides, domestic terrorism, poverty, etc.

And it wld be a mistake to put blame on one or more pols. It is the system of rule that needs changing.

The system appears to favor a minute minority over a vast majority of people. The system lauds and demands one party system of rule.

When 99% of congress people vote for aggressions or deny people medical care, right to be informed-schooled, one has in effect one party rule.

And self being just the tip of the iceberg. The real power being money! tnx

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By FiftyGigs, March 19, 2010 at 4:52 am Link to this comment

What’s the matter with Democrats? You mean, what’s
wrong with the media that purports to have values
more aligned with Democrats than with Republican

The Comprehensive Complex.
This is the notion that a dozen small steps to a goal
are not as good as one big step. So, rather than
report that a proposal is a step in the right
direction, it is reported that a proposal is a
complete failure.

Kucinich Visual Acuity.
Also known as KVA and closely related to the above,
this common disease maintains that a continuing state
of ill heath is preferable to even any minor
improvement. So, it is emphasized that proposals
which “only” save a billion dollars fail to have a
public option.

As a result, liberals go to liberal media outlets to
read about the shrewdness of Republicans (“sleight of
hand”) and disingenuousness of Democrats
(“preposterously selling”). In between, we’re treated
to musings about why Republicans are so successful.

Why wouldn’t they be, because apparently there’s not
much wrong with Republicans. Besides the fact that
every single one of them completely oppose the Common

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By surfnow, March 19, 2010 at 4:10 am Link to this comment

Both parties are hopelessly corrupted. The system is broken. The entire election process is a meaningless token exercise to give the illusion of democracy. It is time for the middle class and workers to take things into their own hands. Boycott everything that comes from a corporation- stop shopping at Walmart; turn off the TV; don’t use your cellphone- it’s the only way.

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By thebeerdoctor, March 19, 2010 at 2:20 am Link to this comment

“Our revenues are derived from premium revenues on risk-based products; fees from management, administrative, technology and consulting services. Sales of a wide variety of products and services related to to the broad health and well-being industry; and investment and other income.”

Thus spake United Healthcare Insurance Company on the purpose of their ‘mission’. I have to love the corporate newspeak on all of this. The use of the words “premium revenues” reminds me of the way breweries always refer to their beers as “premium’ no matter what is the recipe. All those “services” that United Healthcare speaks of, is the beloved fat that these giant corporations exist for. They use the word “products” in much the same way the too-big-to-fail banks do, while referring to their latest accounting swindles that are perfectly legal under the present system that President Obama seems so enamored of that he diligently is consumed with passing legislation to create more of the same.

If I was allowed to ask POTUS one question it would be:
Well President Obama, you once said that single payer would be best if you could start from scratch. Since you and your colleagues refuse to do that, you instead have chosen to embrace the idea of the free market and how much you appreciate those “savvy businessmen” who have enriched themselves, despite any complaints from those who suffer from this inequity. My question is this: since you embrace global free market capitalism as an overriding philosophy, is this not a glaring example of ideology triumphing over reality? That a company such as United Healthcare, with a market value just under $39 billion, has concerns that take total precedent over the needs of the ordinary citizen?
Oh, and one follow up: How many meetings did you have with the Health Insurance Industry? And how many did you have with Public Citizen Health Group’s Dr. Sidney Wolfe?

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By thebeerdoctor, March 19, 2010 at 1:28 am Link to this comment

What’s the matter with Democrats? perhaps that question should be directed at the CEO of United Healthcare Insurance Company, or any other other of the great beneficiaries of the so-called health care reform bill. Even Rep. Kucinich, appearing on Democracy Now! had to feel somewhat like an equivocating pretzel, when he attempted to explain changing his vote to support President Obama’s stimulus package to the health insurance industry, which forces the public to surrender money to private corporations whether they want to or not. This, I have been told, is health care reform.

It makes me wonder what kind of numb skull outrage is David Sirota speaking of? Didn’t he get the memo last December that as soon as the majority leader said the dreaded “public option” need not be included, United Healthcare had a fund-raiser to thank her for her tireless efforts on behalf of the (you fill in the blank).

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