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Progressives: Don’t Scream, Organize (update)

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Posted on Dec 20, 2009

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.

(Page 2)

For progressives, the question on the health care battle going forward is not whether they have a right to be angry but whether they can direct their fury toward constructive ends. The alternative is to pursue a temporarily satisfying and ultimately self-defeating politics of protest.

Of course what has happened on the health care bill is enraging. It’s quite clear that substantial majorities in both houses of Congress favored either a public option or a Medicare buy-in.

In a normal democracy, such majorities would work their will, a law would pass and champagne corks would pop. But everyone must get it through their heads that thanks to the now bizarre habits of the Senate, we are no longer a normal democracy.

Because of a front of Republican obstruction and the ludicrous idea that all legislation requires a supermajority of 60 votes, power has passed from the majority to tiny minorities, sometimes minorities of one.

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Worse, more influence in this system flows to those willing to kill a bill than to those who most devoutly want to pass one. The paradox in this case is that senators who care most passionately about extending health coverage to 31 million Americans have the least power.

That’s why Joe Lieberman held the whip hand in killing the idea of letting Americans 55 and older buy into Medicare. Unlike liberal senators such as Jay Rockefeller or Sherrod Brown, Lieberman was perfectly happy to see the health care proposal die if that was the price of getting himself into the spotlight.

What transpired was thus not the product of some magic show in which more conservative senators are endowed with mysteriously ingenious negotiating abilities while liberals are a bunch of bunglers. The whole system is biased to the right because the Senate itself—a body in which Wyoming and Utah have as much representation as New York and California—is tilted in a conservative direction. The 60-vote requirement empowers conservatives even more.

In light of this, the notion that letting the current health care bill perish would produce a more progressive bill later is preposterous. Anyone who wants to change or even abolish the Senate has my full support. But that is not an option now.

In the meantime, progressives such as Brown and Rockefeller are right to be fighting with all their might to push through this less than perfect but still remarkably decent proposal.

To vote against it, Rockefeller said when I caught up with him recently, “you have to be for not covering 30 million people ... you have to be for denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions ... you have to be against helping small businesses buy health insurance.” His list went on and on and on, making the point that this bill represents rather astonishing progress.

Brown is of the same view, and also points to where progressives now need to direct their energies. Senate passage of this bill is not the final step. The Senate proposal, Brown said in an interview, can still be improved.

If the Senate produces a bill, there will be negotiating to do with the House, which has passed its own plan. In many respects—especially when it comes to making insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income Americans, imposing tougher regulations on insurance companies and putting caps on deductibles and co-pays—the House has the superior product.

While the intricate balance in the Senate puts severe constraints on how much it will accept changes in its bill, there is some room to maneuver. Instead of trying to derail the process—exactly what conservative opponents want to do—those on the left dissatisfied with the Senate bill should focus their efforts over the next few weeks on getting as many fixes into it as they can.

And then they can do something else: start organizing for the next health care fight. Enactment of a single bill will not mark the end of the struggle. It will open a series of new opportunities. It’s a lot easier to improve a system premised on the idea that everyone should have health coverage than to create such a system in the first place. Better to take a victory and build on it than to label victory as defeat.

Successful political movements prosper on the confidence that they can sustain themselves over time so they can finish tomorrow what they start today. At this moment, rage is understandable, but hope is what’s necessary.

E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com.

© 2009, Washington Post Writers Group


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Liquor Store Larry's avatar

By Liquor Store Larry, December 31, 2009 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment

Bottom line is WE HAVE a constitution that is quite an excellent blue print for a free country. The fact that it has been abused is a matter of the same human nature that impacts all systems of government. You can say that because “I have not lived in Cuba it is jigoistic to question the price that Cubans pay for health care” but that is a load of crap because the health care that is provided is part and parcel of a system that imprisons political dissidents and sends us their criminals and aids patients etc and does lots of things that I would not tolerate and neither would most Americans. If you think you can view Cuban health care as something entirely separate from the repressive political climate you are fooling yourself and that is a price I am not willing to pay. “The USSR was stalinist” not communist and this wonderful dream of yours that just happens not to exist and which has never existed is to be sought after because its really a great way to go, just nobody has done it right? LMAO - that is very silly!

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By Anarcissie, December 31, 2009 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

Mestizo Warrior, December 31 at 1:30 pm:
‘I have one question for the author; Organize what? ...’

There seem to be a number of organizations of various colorations in the Left/prog and radical end of the political spectrum starting up these days.  (This is also true of the Right.)  At this point I’d anticipate that established politicians may be due for some serious trouble in 2010.

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By Mestizo Warrior, December 31, 2009 at 9:30 am Link to this comment

I have one question for the author; Organize what? The White House along with Congress sold us down the river not because of the Republicans, not even because of Joe Lieberman. The two lousy bills from the House and the Senate are the direct result of the undue influence that the healthcare cartel has on our elected officials!

How can we outdo corporate bribery disguised as “campaign contributions”? How can we organize anything when the healthcare “reformists” were NOT united on what was needed or desired?

Short of half a million protestors shutting D.C. down, I fail to see how we can do anything to prevent passage of one final, lousy healthcare sellout. I am at a loss. Many true lefties oppose the crap that Congress wants to shove down our throats. A large segment are willing to bend over and take it with or without lubrication… Somebody please tell me; What in hell is going on?

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By Anarcissie, December 24, 2009 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment

Liquor Store Larry—I believe the wealth differences in the Soviet Union towards the end of its career were about four times as great as those in the U.S. of the same time.  They probably contributed to its collapse.  The United States is now tending to develop in the same direction: centralized control of all important institutions by an elite class, tame media, public ignorance, imperialism and militarism.  We’re getting there by a different route, however—the Russian Empire and the U.S. have had very different histories.

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By KDelphi, December 24, 2009 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment

In case I have not made myself clear (and apparently, I have not) i am for universal health care..Now. Not “sometime, cause other countries have it”—I know that..I have lived in those other countries. It works. There is no reasons, except campaign contributions and lack of public financing, that we do not have it now. It is a human right, and, trading it on the market is immoral.

Anarcissie makes an excellent point that Liquor Store Larry counters with “its just not right” type of rhetoric…no substance there…do you live in Cuba? Must have more access to the internet there than I was aware of…..Capitalism is an economic system, not a form of governance. What “price” does Cuba pay for health care (only answer if you live there—otherwise it will be jingoistic crap) The USSR was neither Socialist nor Communist—it was a Stalinist type dictatorship.

I am sick to death of the duopoly, but, that doesnt mean that I think Capitalism is good (are our senators not just the “best little Capitalists” taking bribes and selling peoples lives for money thru war and corporate plans for every facet of life?)...they are the result of US ‘individualism” and selfishness, natural in humans, bur exemplified and made worse by Capitalism. Human kind surviving on this planet is unsustainable under world Capitalism, or, even the type of Capitalism that the US and UK multi natoinals are spreading today. It will change—it is just a matter of whether we will get to choose how.

Cuba is not Socialist….it is a dictatorship. China is not Communist—it is a Capitalist Dictatorship, brought into its current state (which they will come to regret as we have)by US multi nationals seeking more markets….now they can pay “emerging economies” shit wages and sell to former “developed economy” countries…then, when we become Third World, they can come back and pay us shit wages (US Unions wont say a peep).....it will eventually fall, but, they dont seem to much care about that..Wall St Capitalism is clever but it is not wise…and it is evil. Wall St runs DC, which makes it evil. Nothing of moral substsance can be achieved when our system of governance (supposed Democracy) is based on MONEY.

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By Liquor Store Larry, December 24, 2009 at 10:19 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie - Do you really beleive that “wealth differences” were less in the former Soviet Union where the aristocracy sipped Wodka and dined on Beluga Caviar?  It has nothing to do with capitalism and everything to do with good governance and holding elected officials to standards. Capitalism is the CLOSEST thing to a viable system and anything else is not a government but a prison. There is no system however that can not be corrupted by greed and human nature, not capitalism is the problem.

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By Anarcissie, December 24, 2009 at 8:54 am Link to this comment

Liquor Store Larry, December 23 at 9:00 pm:
’... I am however sick and tired of the two major parties who are nothing more than sock puppets for lobbyists…’

Apparently that’s a natural outcome of capitalism.  Capitalism amplifies wealth differences, and once you have a class of people who are much richer than anyone else, they’re going to use their wealth and power to get more wealth and power, which is going to include bribing and otherwise pressuring legislators and administrators.  It’s a positive feedback loop, otherwise known as a vicious circle.

Eventually, a system like this breaks down politically or economically—all undamped positive feedback loops eventually blow up—but we haven’t quite reached that point yet.

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By wildflower, December 24, 2009 at 8:37 am Link to this comment

RE KDelphi, December 23 at 7:25 pm:  “so you just want the poor to rely on charity then…i dont thik thats gonna work. Its what they are doing now. Its either a human right or it is not.”

No, I envision a “Adopt an Uninsured American” campaign more as means to bring attention to the fact that the U.S. is the only industrialized Nation that does not recognized the right to health as a basic human right, which is odd when you think about it.  How can we possibly consider ourselves a leader of democracy while ignoring such a basic human need? Know what I mean?

As you must know, other industrialized Nations recognized this some time ago:

“. . . Most current universal health care systems were implemented in the period following the Second World War as a process of deliberate healthcare reform, intended to make health care available to all, in the spirit of Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, signed by every country doing so. The US did not ratify the social and economic rights sections, including Article 25’s right to health.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_health_care

“. . . United States - Amnesty International writes that “The United States signed the Covenant in 1979 under the Carter administration but is not fully bound by it until it is ratified. For political reasons, the Carter administration did not push
for the necessary review of the Covenant by the Senate, which must give its “advice and consent” before the US can ratify a treaty. The Reagan and Bush (Sr.) administrations took the view that economic, social, and cultural rights were not really rights but merely desirable social goals and therefore should
not be the object of binding treaties. The Clinton Administration did not deny the nature of these rights but did not find it politically expedient to engage in a battle with Congress over the Covenant. The Bush (W.) administration follows in line with the view of the previous Bush (Sr.) administration.” . . . The Heritage Foundation, a critical conservative think tank, argues that signing it would obligate the introduction of policies that it opposes such as universal health care.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Covenant_on_Economic,_Social_and_Cultural_Rights

Happy holidays

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By Liquor Store Larry, December 23, 2009 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment

Delphi - with all it’s inequities, there is a lot to be said for our system. It is not a coincidence that people immigrate here and rarely out of here.

People in Cuba pay a price for their health care that is a lot more dear than most Americans are willing to pay and I am one of those!

I am however sick and tired of the two major parties who are nothing more than sock puppets for lobbyists and this legislation should say “if you want to do business in the US, no more pre-existing conditions and no more dumping subscribers who become ill” and mandate reasonable profit margins. When we had a gasoline shortage, gas stations who jacked up prices were cited for gouging. The same should be done to those who choose to do business in the US.

Obama is a limp wristed wimp or he would have had the courage to do what Hillary Clinton had the courage to do 16 years ago and “tell it like it is” instead of being lap dog for Wall St. I think we’ve been tricked, without realizing it we elected Bryant Gumbal!

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By KDelphi, December 23, 2009 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment

denmak—no, it is not the best we can do…only brainwashed Democrats think so…the Dem party will pay a HUGE price for this once it is implemeted, because, my dear, it DOES suck…it is not my “personal agenda”—I watched peopel die in my professoinal life for a lack of decent heatlh care in this country and this will not even nudge the problem.

wildflower—so you just want the poor to rely on charity then…i dont thik thats gonna work. Its what they are doing now. Its either a human right or it is not.

Liquor Store Larry—you certtainly are obssessed with “communism” or “socialism” or whatever….Capitalism offers “benefits” for whom?

If the green Party were a Socialist party, I would probably be a member, although I havent voted Green many times…most of our allies in the world have a Green party that is much more prominent than the US one…maybe we should dump them all for being “communist” and let them get the hell out of Af-Pak.

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By Liquor Store Larry, December 23, 2009 at 3:03 pm Link to this comment

“The Green Party”? You mean “The Socialist Workers Party” with a Madison Avenue style name change for better PR? No thanks. How naive and downright foolish it is to believe that capitalism is a “Ponzi scheme” but that socialism isn’t. Socialism is nothing more than a less efficient Ponzi scheme predicated on the elimination of freedoms. You have to be fairly dull intellectually to not realize that. Socialism offers almost all the pitfalls of capitalism but far fewer benefits.

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By Dave Schwab, December 23, 2009 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

Don’t mourn (the Democratic Party). Organize (the Green Party).

http://gp.org/

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By tropicgirl, December 23, 2009 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

“”....In light of this, the notion that letting the current health care bill perish
would produce a more progressive bill later is preposterous….”

WHAT IS PREPOSTEROUS IS THINKING THIS WILL EVER, EVER, EVER BE
IMPROVED. The fact is that since Medicare, for over 50 years, neocons and
neolibs have been trying to kill it. Obama has come closest so far.

E.J., you don’t know anything about anything. You prove that over and over
again.

“”...Successful political movements prosper on the confidence that they can
sustain themselves over time so they can finish tomorrow what they start
today..”“

Wrong again. If you think the Democrats are a successful political movement,
then you distort everything. And let me let out a big laugh… 

The only movements that prosper are those who receive a grassroots enema,
on a yearly basis, which the Democratic party is about to have done to it.

Then let’s see if you can walk.

There will be no more organizing for your party, thanks to jokers on the
payroll, like yourself.

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By tropicgirl, December 23, 2009 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

“”....In light of this, the notion that letting the current health care bill perish
would produce a more progressive bill later is preposterous….”

WHAT IS PREPOSTEROUS IS THINKING THIS WILL EVER, EVER, EVER BE
IMPROVED. The fact is that since Medicare, neocons and neolibs have been
trying to kill it.
E.J., you don’t know anything about anything. You prove that over and over
again.

“”...Successful political movements prosper on the confidence that they can
sustain themselves over time so they can finish tomorrow what they start
today..”“

Wrong again. If you think the Democrats are a successful political movement,
then you distort everything. The only movements that prosper are those who
receive a grassroots enema, on a yearly basis, which the Democratic party is
about to have done to it.

Then let’s see if you can walk.

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By Alan MacDonald, December 23, 2009 at 10:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

E.J. is right that, “Successful political movements prosper on the confidence that they can sustain themselves over time so they can finish tomorrow what they start today. At this moment, rage is understandable, but hope is what’s necessary.”

Fortunately, both “rage” and “hope” will empower the coming “successful political movement” of the American and Global people against this ruling-elite corporate/financial/militarist EMPIRE.

The ‘rage’ has been fully ignited and will expand as a global conflagration, and the real hope is now developing as more and more people in America and world-wide recognize that Obama’s false, deceitful, and hollow ploy of phony hope is just more of the same lip-service and propaganda that the Global corporate/financial/militarist EMPIRE continually uses to distract and disable real human progress.

E. J., Obama has done the people of the world a real service—- he has finally and fully killed any remaining naivete or gullibility about the hollowness of his vaunted “hope” for “change” regarding the nature of this phony government charade disguising the real nature of the EMPIRE that we must confront.

Yes, Obama has finally “set us free” from the allure and delaying tactics of false ‘hope’—- and will thus allow our very justifiable rage to continue to build and create some real hope in the people.

Yes, E. J., its almost as if Obama coming on the field of political movement, in his bright blue ‘D’ uniform and his phony ‘hope’, after the string of alternating phonies in their ‘D’ and ‘R’ uniforms—- from Reagan, to Bush I, to Clinton, to Bush II, and finally to this consumate phony—- will have an effect akin to ol Charlie Brown finally waking up to the continual false promises of Lucy that, “this year I’ll really, really, really hold that football” rather than pulling it out of the way at the last minute and causing you to fall on your ass as you try to kick-off.

Yes, Americans are finally, finally, finally, going to see that despite the more sophisticated scam that this two-party ‘Vichy’ government uses of having their ‘Lucys’ change from ‘D’ to ‘R’ uniforms every four years of lying, the American people have now had enough of this continual recurring lie of ‘hope’ and ‘change’—- because Obama has gone to the well for the last time, he has crossed a ‘bridge too far’—- and the American people (like the people of the global) are now seeing clearly that underneath the phony uniforms is just the same very uniform, grinding, and deadly ruling-elite Global corporate/financial/militarist EMPIRE grinning in its death-mask and causing all the ‘Sorrows of Empire’ in our world. 

The rising Global People’s Movement sees very clearly now that it is the Global Empire headquartered (but not only present) in America that must be confronted and overcome for all of its; wars, economic oppression, inequality, deceit, financial tyranny, fascist spying, torture, killing, lying, looting, and destruction of both human/humane and ecological justice and sustainability.

Yes, E. J. the times they are a changing, and you don’t have to be a weatherman to tell which way the wind is glowing, now that Obama has finally screwed the pooch of ‘hope’ and ‘change’, and released the real constructive rage and real hope of the people to take direct personal control of a Global People’s Movement as a real;  “Successful political movement (to) prosper on the confidence that they can sustain themselves over time so they can finish tomorrow what they start today. At this moment, rage is understandable, but (real) hope (against EMPIRE) is what’s necessary.”

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

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By Liquor Store Larry, December 23, 2009 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

“The ludicrous idea that all legislation requires a supermajority of 60 votes”? . . .  What is ludicrous Mr. Dionne is the notion that a handful of communist sympthisers be empowered to shove this piece of excrement down our throats with impugnity whether moderates or those YOU call “conservatives” feel it is prudent or not.

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By ardee, December 23, 2009 at 4:12 am Link to this comment

Amon Drool, December 22 at 1:54 pm #

ardee: “..this bill, in whatever form it takes, will have achieved its main goal, an ensuring of large profits for the Insurance and Big Pharma industries.”

maybe ensuring profits for these 2 “industries” is not its main goal.  maybe ensuring profits in the form of political ‘contributions’ from these 2 industries is the main goal.

One follows the other as night follows day.

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By Anarcissie, December 22, 2009 at 9:28 pm Link to this comment

Actually, my idea going back several years if not decades has been that people should form cooperative medical insurance companies or HMOs.  It is true the poor could not do this at first but the working class people could (can and do, in fact, but there are only a few of them).  Since a cooperative is democratic, the directors, if they want to go on being directors, will be motivated to deliver the best service for the least cost, instead of extracting the greatest profit from the customers.

For some reason, though, the idea doesn’t appeal.  So maybe we should get the Germans and the Swedes to adopt us.

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By lichen, December 22, 2009 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment

joell, you’re right about those people, in the house and senate (the so-called progressive caucus) who claimed they wouldn’t support a terrible bill, and then did anyway.  They are enormous hypocrites, and I wish more, such as Kucinich, were willing to withdraw support when their demands weren’t met.  I think, when we talk about politicians, it doesn’t matter what you think or want or wanted, but just what you do, so Sanders et all might as well just be conservative mainstream democrats when it comes down to it.

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By Samson, December 22, 2009 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

The way congressional power works, you have to say no sometimes to get anything.

Congresscritters do this all the time to play ‘the pork game’.  They vote no on some bill the leadership wants, because they know the leadership will come to them and buy them off with whatever they want in order to change their vote. 

If progressives in Congress want to have any power to do anything to make this bill even a little more decent, then they have to vote no to kill the bill.  Then they can negotiate at least some changes in the bill.  If they vote yes, they are surrendering their power.

My feeling is that most of the Democrats who claim to be progressives in Congress are total fakes. They’ll talk a nice game, but when it comes time to voting no on this bill, they’ll do what they always do which is reveal their true colors as good corporate servants.  The talk from ‘progressive Democrats’ is all a lie and a con.  Watch instead how they consistently refuse to take any real action, like killing this bill, that would give them any power to do anything.

The Democrats know that there are strong progressive urban districts in the country that should have strong progressive representation.  What they’ve done is they’ve put in liars in those districts that lie and pretend to be progressives, but who then vote pro-corporate when it counts.

My rep, D.DeGette from CO-1 is a perfect example.  She talks progressive, but she votes to keep the wars going.  And she was a key committee member and deputy whip in crafting the gift to corporate power of a health care bill.  When you do a little research, you find that she’s the wife of a rich millionaire lawyer.  Some ‘progressive’.  But she reperesents a progressive district, and she does it by constantly lying to voters when she’s back here and pretending to be a progressive.

Watch actions and ignore the words, and you’ll see the reality.  Most of the fake progressive Democrats in Congress are really reliable votes for corporate interests. 

You’ll have the latest data point soon. How many progressives will really vote against this bill?  The ones that vote yes are the lying fakes.

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By Samson, December 22, 2009 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

Sorry for the typos in the preceding posts.  But I’m guessing readers can get the gist of it.  smile

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By Samson, December 22, 2009 at 10:10 am Link to this comment

The title is correct ... Don’t scream, organize.

Or, I like the old Kennedy family motto “Don’t get mad.  Get even!”

The trick is that we can not organize within the Democratic party. That’s a rigged game we can not win.

That’s the whole point of the Dean scam.  Its the Democrats ploy to channel the anger and protests of the left into a useless campaign within the Democratic party where it can not do any good.

Remember, Dean was party chairman for awhile.  Do you notice how he was only a progressive before and after that stint, but somehow didn’t do a damn progressive thing while he held that powerful position?  Dean’s current campaign is a scam.

To have power, we must organize outside the Democratic party. That’s how we get leverage on Democrats.  If they beat us 60-40 in the rigged game that’s a Democratic party primary, with the Democrats rules that led big money control everything, then we’ve done nothing.  The same corporate Democrat is still in power, and our work and effort have been wasted.

But, if we get even a much smaller percentage of the vote in a general election as an independent, then we have the political power to determine the winner or any close race.  Someone has to give us what we want to win office for themselves.

If you have any doubts about the Democrats being a useless, rigged game, just look back at the last Democratic presidential primaries.  There was strong opposition from the left to corporate Hillary rule.  But, the lying Democrats channeled that into a fake campaign backed by wall street millions where Obama lied his rear off pretending to be a progressive.

The whole 2008 primary process was a giant scam.  Don’t fall for the same tricks again.  The key is to organize OUTSIDE the Democratic Party.

Don’t get mad.  Get Even!  Right now, that means defeating Democrats in 2010.  Lots of them!  Its time for angry progressive to get even.  Please don’t fall for this latest lying Democrat trick that’s designed to keep you powerless by diverting your energy into useless campaigns in a rigged game.

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By Samson, December 22, 2009 at 10:03 am Link to this comment

To FRTothus,

Voting can matter.  But it has to be done differently than anything we’ve seen lately.

Voting can affect politicians in power by kicking them out of power.  This is what the opposition has not done.  The Greens have deliberately avoided doing this with their ‘safe states’ strategies that guarantees that Democrats in power are never challenged.

What we need to do is to run independent pro-single-payer (and anti-war) campaigns in all the CLOSE races.  Let the Democrats see us deliberately taking our votes back in the tight races where they desperately need our votes to stay in power.  Do this in 40 or so close races across the country, and Pelosi becomes minority leader.  She doesn’t want that, and that would get her attention.

Politicians understand power, and that’s all.  What we need to do is to develop the political power to end their political careers.  A ‘pro-single-payer’ independent campaign can do this in a close district with only 5% of the vote or so.  That could be enough to turn a Democrat incumbent who’s supporting this monstrosity of a bill into a former-congresscritter.

And, from that point onwards, every Democrat in that congressional district will know for certain that they can not win without our support.  The next Democratic candidate in that district will know that their campaign is doomed from the start if they don’t get our support.

What we’ve done then is create a situation where the Democrats have to give us what we want to get power.  The Democrats want power, and that’s all they believe in.  We have to create the situation where in order to get that power, they have to give us what we want.  That’s how we get power.  That’s how we get what we want.  That’s how voting can matter.

Voting on symbolic campaigns that can’t win (see Kucinich) is powerless.  So are stupid permitted protests through empty city streets on a weekend.

Civil disobedience can have power, but only in two cases. One is if its on such a massive scale that it shuts down a society.  Think a general strike shutting down a city.  Or hundreds of thousands or millions of protesters clogging up a city and shutting it down on a business day.  Otherwise, civil disobedience must have a political component, or else the people in power will ignore it.  20 people occupying an office is just a bother for some powerful person’s staff, and does nothing on its own.  But when that office occupation is a reminder that there’s an angry opposition political campaign out there that’s going to cause the defeat of that congresscritter, then that civil disobedience has power.  But unless the civil disobedience is on a massive scale, it needs that political component to have power.

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By Amon Drool, December 22, 2009 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

ardee: “..this bill, in whatever form it takes, will have achieved its main goal, an ensuring of large profits for the Insurance and Big Pharma industries.”

maybe ensuring profits for these 2 “industries” is not its main goal.  maybe ensuring profits in the form of political ‘contributions’ from these 2 industries is the main goal.

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By Samson, December 22, 2009 at 9:49 am Link to this comment

This bill does suck.

In a political environment where the citizens are begging, pleading, screaming for help and reform, what this bill does is proudly proclaim to the rich backers of the Democratic party that ALL REFORM IS BLOCKED FOR FOUR MORE YEARS!

In a political environment where citizens are begging for help, the Democrats are paasing a bill that guarantees to the insurance companies that they get four more years without reform.

That’s the real impact of this bill. Its not ‘the best we can do’, as the lying Democrats would have you believe.  Its a deliberate blocking of reform. During Obama’s presidency, there will be no reform.  That’s his gift to the corporations and wealthy who gave him those tens and hundreds of millions of dollars.

On the other hand, I guess it is the best we can get when the electorate made the huge mistake of electing Democrats expecting hope and change.  What a joke.  Since the electorate made the mistake of giving these corrupt fools power, I suppose it is the ‘best we can do’.

We can of course do much better if we replace these lying, corrupt Democrats with real progressives/leftist/greens who would really vote for reform.

Only the Democrats could hold majorities in both houses and the White House and claim that they are completely powerless to do anything decent.  What a load of bull!  Bush never had majorities of this size, and he sure never had any problems doing anything.

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By Samson, December 22, 2009 at 9:42 am Link to this comment

The old Kennedy family motto applies nicely here.

Don’t get mad, get even.

Start by not reading Democrat propagandists like Mr.Dionne and the WaPo.  Never give them a dime.  Never give their advertisers your eyeballs.

Then, proceed to vote for every congresscritter of either party that votes for this bill.

Add the ones who keep voting more money for wars.

Add the ones who gave the trillions to wall street.

Kick every damn one of them out of politics.

Its rather easy to do actually.  All we need to do is to withhold our votes.  Because these lying SOBs must have our votes to win.  If we stay home, they lose.  But we don’t get any credit for beating the.  So, what we need are independent progressive campaigns taking every damn one of them on.  That way, everyone knows it was an uprising of angry progressives who did this.

Take our votes back. They belong to us. And they don’t belong to politicians who constantly screw us over in order to guarantee profits to their big contributors.

Start organizing yourself locally.  Don’t wait for leaders.  With the money the Dems have, they can buy off the leaders.  Don’t wait on them.  Organize your own local challenges to these corrupt corporate Democrats.

Don’t get mad.  Get even!

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By Liquor Store Larry, December 22, 2009 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

Nice try wildflower ... some “rabbis” took a position and pleaded with Lieberman about a particular issue and therefore it is “a Jewish issue” to be examined in all it’s possible implications for Israel and thus open season for every tin horn bigot disguised as a progressive on the planet. We’ve seen this act before thanks.

Is it also a Protestant issue? I guarantee you that a sh*tload of ministers and pastors have a position on this? I am sure many priests have weighed in as well. Hmmmm, maybe it has implications for Rome?

Wooop, here it is: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/u.s._bishops_launch_website_on_health_care_reform/


Washington D.C., Aug 15, 2009 / 05:25 pm (CNA).- As the American health care debate continues, the U.S. Catholic bishops have launched a webpage to promote support for a “truly universal” health policy that respects human dignity.  According to a USCCB press release, letters to Congress include USCCB pro-life chairman Cardinal Justice Rigali’s August 11 letter criticized the House version of health care legislation.

MAYBE WE SHOULD just allow the rabbis and the cardinals and the bishops to decide the issue huh wildflower? You are a phony and you have predictably played “the race card” before God and the world no matter how you try and “cover your tracks” in progressive bullsh*t!

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By wildflower, December 22, 2009 at 3:34 am Link to this comment

RE KDelphi: “Anarcissie’s idea of boycotting the death insurance industry was good and remains good…any takers?”

KDelphia, I don’t think this is a good idea, especially if someone in your family has medical issues. If you’re paying cash, doctors generally charge you a higher fee for their service – 3 times higher in most cases.

No, I think a better idea would be for U.S. Governors to issue a proclamation declaring an official Uninsured American Family Day.  The Governors could invite representatives from the various civilized nations to participate, and beg them to
Adopt An Uninsured American.

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By ardee, December 22, 2009 at 3:22 am Link to this comment

It has achieved its main goals, everything else can be done on an ongoing basis.

Yes, denmak, this bill, in whatever final form it takes, will have certainly achieved its main goal, an ensuring of large profits for the Insurance and Big Pharma industries.

It has also to be credited with a secondary goal, showing plainly how corrupt and incompetent our Legislators really are.

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By denmak, December 22, 2009 at 2:25 am Link to this comment

kDelphi - My point is that this bill does NOT suck. It is the best that can be done at this point and this bill should not be scrapped just because you have a personal vendetta against the imperfections within it. It has achieved its main goals, everything else can be done on an ongoing basis.

The cost of getting something done perfectly is NEVER getting it done.

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By KDelphi, December 22, 2009 at 12:44 am Link to this comment

It matters, folks, because it is promoting the same for-profit, death insurance system…just wait until this goes into effect…there is absolutely nothing to keep the industry from raising rates..

denmak—I KNOW HOW MUCH RATES ARE!! didnt you see that I worked in the industry?! I was commenting on Gupta’s speel…you need to get a grip—this bill sucks—did you miss that point?! My sister pays $25,000 pluys $8000 dedutible, ok, and I cant get it at all..you just want someone to argue with..worry….I cant even tell what you think of the bill, you are so busy being disagreeable.

Anarcissie’s idea of boycotting the death insurance industry was good and remains good…any takers?

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By wildflower, December 22, 2009 at 12:41 am Link to this comment

Re Liquor Store Larry: “Lieberman’s Judiasm has only been brought up by others in the context of health care by bigots and I have only responded by putting them in their place.”

Surely, you don’t believe what you say, Liquor Store Larry. I think it is safe to say most of us would have been thrilled if Lieberman had placed the issue of health care in the context of his Jewish faith. In fact, I think that group of Jewish Rabbis in Connecticut who were urging Lieberman to support a public healthcare option for America’s poor did so in the context Judaism. But Lieberman ignored the pleas of the Jewish Rabbis in the same way that he has ignored America’s poor.  The reality is that Lieberman’s expensive war mongering activities in Israel and the Middle East are his priorities, which is problem for American families who are in urgent need of healthcare.

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By glider, December 22, 2009 at 12:40 am Link to this comment

If this bill is killed it will force the Democrats to go to reconciliation.  This is what the Dionnes and other Obama led Corporate Democrats fear.  That is the true agenda behind the Pass The Trash movement.

Kill the bill and go to reconciliation!  A chance for a better outcome for the people.  A chance to flip the bird to Lieberman and the Republicans and show up the most egregious Democrat sellouts.  A chance for progressives to fight and create a movement, and not be sellouts!

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By glider, December 22, 2009 at 12:14 am Link to this comment

One interesting point is that the subsidies are not indexed to health insurance price increases.  So the percentage of health care costs covered by these subsidies will rapidly decline with time without further government action.

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By denmak, December 21, 2009 at 11:05 pm Link to this comment

@ Allan Krueger

Mate, take a chill pill. I was not directing any note directly at you.

Call it what you will, public option, medicare for all, it should be obvious to you that such an option would never make it out of the senate. Not only that, it would effectively KILL any possibility of reform for a LONG time. I despite the conservatives and the wingnuts for this, but that is the reality we have to deal with.

What is being proposed now should essentially mean the same thing to me though - I will have the OPTION to purchase other less expensive policies, perhaps subsidized. Why the hell should I care whether this comes from Medicare or from the exchange? The point is I will have a lower cost option.

And drop the insults dude. I am a struggling lone breadwinner for a family of 4. My wife is down with Alzheimers, my younger kid is autistic and medical bills are pulverizing me every month.

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By denmak, December 21, 2009 at 10:54 pm Link to this comment

@joell

actually the insurance companies are completely satisified

“Why all the compromises?” again, to please the insurance companies.


Yeah, they are so satisfied that they are spending over USD 100m to defeat this VERY DAMN bill…you GOT to be more creative mate.


  “.... IF the non-profit exchange fails, it is a trigger for a public option!

and you really believe this is a possibility?

Why not? It is there, as plain as day, within the bill. Once again, why the hell is a public option a necessity IF insurance exchanges with federal oversight work? If they do not work, then there is the trigger. What is so difficult to understand about this?


their prices, coverage and deductibles are a helluva lot better than this piece of crap bring forced on us. i’ve bought prescription drugs in Canada, when it was legal, and the differences in prices are astounding.

Yes, because they have a decent health-care system to start off with. Which is WHAT we are trying to put into place now.

About prescription drugs, you are starting a whole different argument about importing drugs. Consider that the PharMac has agreed to lower the costs of drugs by USD 8b over the next 10 years. But wait, you have a conspiracy theory for that too don’t you?

i’m skeptical of those corporate & dc insider sources you cite: usa today, ama,“Gupta (Obama’s corporate first choice for Surgeon Gen)”

USA today is one site I’d quoted. If you had read through the article, the numbers in them come from the CBO. Gupta was quoted not by me but by another poster on this thread.

You have every right to be skeptical. All I request is the courtesy to be skeptical based on facts - not on the basis of conspiracy theories or home-spun fairy tales as you have been doing so far.

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By Liquor Store Larry, December 21, 2009 at 10:51 pm Link to this comment

Joe Lieberman’s opposition to this bill has nothing to do with Jews, Judaism and/or the state of Israel and old Stink Weed, I mean Wildflower can say whatever she wants but it does not mean a damn thing. Lieberman’s Judiasm has only been brought up by others in the context of health care by bigots and I have only responded by putting them in their place. Again, Lieberman’s feelings about Israel have nothing whatsoever to do with this health care bill. Get the picture Stinky?

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By wildflower, December 21, 2009 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment

A friend emailed me a link for Kaiser Health News, which provides a set of “Before & After Senate Bill” comparison figures produced by MIT economist Jonathan Gruber. It’s based on official Congressional Budget Office estimates.  It will obviously help some people, but still feel America can do more.

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Columns/2009/December/122109Cohn.aspx

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By Allan Krueger, December 21, 2009 at 9:38 pm Link to this comment

Hey Denmak,

Public Option / Schmoption! Who asked for a Public Option? I didn’t? That was some political speak that was supposed to make this palatable to the right wing nut jobs! It has worked great, hasn’t it? What it did was prolong the dance and lose support of the general public - death panels and all… What we need is Medicare For All. People could have the OPTION to keep what they have - pay sky rocketing premiums (I would drop Blue Cross in fucking a heart beat - 400% increase in the past 8 years and they have paid one fucking $250 Claim!) Who pays for your health care? No, don’t tell me - it ain’t you, is it?

“1. Public option: Dammit, when was this even the purpose of the health care reform?! There still will be an exchange with policies offered by existing companies UNDER federal oversight. It equates to the same thing - just cheaper than having to start a whole new system. Not to mention that its inclusion would doom the entire measure. ALSO not to mention that IF the non-profit exchange fails, it is a trigger for a public option!”

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By Allan Krueger, December 21, 2009 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment

Organize? Been there, done that and look at the result! In the U S of A, however, the current government has forgotten who they work for and who elected them… Perhaps in the next election, we can remind them!

Poor Ted is spinning in his grave and all of the uninsured are lining up to join him!

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By joell, December 21, 2009 at 9:17 pm Link to this comment

@denmak
“Has the bill in its current form accomplished that? ABSOLUTELY! Is it in a state to satisfy everyone? Of course not - and it NEVER will be.”

actually the insurance companies are completely satisified

“Why all the compromises?” again, to please the insurance companies.

  “.... IF the non-profit exchange fails, it is a trigger for a public option!

and you really believe this is a possibility?

“But I have to hold insurance whether I want to or not…..... That’s the general way just about every developed country (other than us”

their prices, coverage and deductibles are a helluva lot better than this piece of crap bring forced on us. i’ve bought prescription drugs in Canada, when it was legal, and the differences in prices are astounding.

i also noticed you excluded the minimum income levels at which you’re expected to pay the premiums and the $5000 deductible. i understand it starts at the 15K range for a single person.

i’m skeptical of those corporate & dc insider sources you cite: usa today, ama,“Gupta (Obama’s corporate first choice for Surgeon Gen)”

Denmak, you’re either very gullible or a stealth. operative.

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By Mack TN, December 21, 2009 at 8:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

1. Why is it so easy to fine “we the people” and not the real crooks, “them the corporations”?

2. Why does health care reform have to criminalize “we the people” instead of criminalizing the crooks who denied coverage and let people die for want of a dollar?

3. Why are “we the people” being asked once again to bail out the corporations by forcing us to buy their crappy, overpriced products?

4. When are “we the people” going to get a bailout? Why not force “them the corporations” to give us money and a year of free medical care in recognition of all who have died for want of a dollar or a pre existing condition?

5. Why do I have to pay $500 for a drug that goes for $5 in Canada?

6. Why are “we the people” always wrong whiners and “them the corporations” the good guys who’ll always do the right thing?

7. What happened to “yes, we can”?

8. Is this really “change, I can believe in”?

9. Can we talk about campaign finance reform?

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By denmak, December 21, 2009 at 8:20 pm Link to this comment

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ahlqw3yql71c&pos=9

The Senate Bill now has the backing of AMA. I’m sure it won’t be long before some person comes up with an amazing conspiracy theory in which the AMA has been ‘paid off’ to support this bill.

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By denmak, December 21, 2009 at 8:15 pm Link to this comment

Lets remember the original purpose of this reform - lower the costs and make healthcare more accessible to everyone while making sure that it does not add to the deficit. Has the bill in its current form accomplished that? ABSOLUTELY! Is it in a state to satisfy everyone? Of course not - and it NEVER will be.

Its amazing how many geniuses pop up with ridiculous statements that do not have even a speck of truth anymore. Here are some of the more asinine areas that are still being debated:

1. Public option: Dammit, when was this even the purpose of the health care reform?! There still will be an exchange with policies offered by existing companies UNDER federal oversight. It equates to the same thing - just cheaper than having to start a whole new system. Not to mention that its inclusion would doom the entire measure. ALSO not to mention that IF the non-profit exchange fails, it is a trigger for a public option!

2. Why all the compromises? Do not overlook the fact that most of this was done to attract the needed 60 votes. In fact, it has taken months to construct a bill capable of passing, and Congress is not about to spend a second full year on this subject. Obama is right: If the bill fails now, it fails for many years.

3. But I have to hold insurance whether I want to or not or pay a fine. You’re damn tootin’ right. I am happy to cover and help for you if you can’t afford it, I am NOT paying for you if you chose not to have it. You have a car - you need car insurance, you have a life - get health insurance. That’s the general way just about every developed country (other than us)

4. KDelhi’s point: I saw Gupta (Obama’s corporate first choice for Surgeon Gen) tonight, do a “breakdown” of the “tax cuts” you will get to purchase a $4800 policy (takes it down to about $3800)...note that this was for a family of 4.

OK then, do you know what the average price of insurance for a family of 4 is now? $13K. Don’t take my word for it - look it up (http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/health/2009-09-15-insurance-costs_N.htm)

Christ, we Americans have become the biggest group of whiners in the world. We used to be the toughest of the bunch and be proud of accepting and overcoming challenge.

All we can do now is whine, whine, whine when it is OBVIOUS to the rest of the world that compared to where we were heading last year, where we are now is NOTHING short of a miracle and things can only get better.

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By joell, December 21, 2009 at 7:58 pm Link to this comment

@lichen

“I do not support the bill, and no, I won’t stop recognizing corporatist right wing war criminal scum such as Obama, Clinton, Pelosi, Reid for what they are.”

don’t forget to include their “conscience of the party” enablers like John Coyers, Anthony Weiner, Jay Rockefeller and Bernie Sanders who blatantly sold his vote. remember when they said the initial bill was unacceptable? what they   ended up supporting was much worse.

i’m sure mr “hope of reforming the party,” Dennis Kucinich opposes it; however,  in 2010/12, he will endorse and , if asked, campaign for all of the crooks who. sold out our interests. he’s a member of the club.

i can’t think of ONE member of the house/senate that i trust to do the right thing.

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By Alan MacDonald, December 21, 2009 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

E.J., you’re right, “For progressives, the question on the health care battle going forward is not whether they have a right to be angry but whether they can direct their fury toward constructive ends”—- and here’s that constructive end.

Let’s use the Health Care bill as an Obama “teaching moment”—- not him ‘teaching us’, but us ‘teaching him’!

This ‘Health Care’ (sic) bill reminds me of the illogic of the Vietnam War:

“It became necessary to destroy the bill in order to save it”

And, in fact, the reason that this illogic applied then in the Vietnam War “abroad”, and now in the corporatist tyranny over health care “at home” is precisely the same reason—- that a ruling-elite corporate/financial/militarist EMPIRE makes all major decisions in America, and not the people of America.

As Hannah Arendt presciently warned from her direct experience with empires:

“Empire abroad (always) entails tyranny at home”.

Let’s teach Obama a critical lesson that he needs to understand.  The famous old phrase was, “What goes around, comes around”.  But today, “What goes around, comes home to roost” as his own minister tried to teach him.

Let’s tell Obama:

“If you are only going to pose as another front-man for the ruling-elite Global corporate/financial/militarist EMPIRE that controls our country—- by hiding behind the façade of its two-party ‘Vichy’ sham of democracy—- then that’s not the ‘hope’ and ‘change’ that we voted for. 

We’ve been fed that old “Okie Doke” (as you called it) since the Vietnam War, for forty years! 

Now if you really believe that times they are a changing, and that you don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowin, and that ‘Yes we can’ confront Empire, then why don’t you give us a chance, and help lead us in a second American Revolution for democracy against Empire—- cause if you’re not going to lead, then at least ‘get out of the way’.”

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

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By lichen, December 21, 2009 at 5:54 pm Link to this comment

Those of us in single payer action have been organizing all along; and against corporatist apologists like you, Dionne.  The democrats played their little theatre, refusing to even consider single-payer, and then gradually stripping anything even slightly good from the bill, but this was clearly the goal all along—corporate, for-profit healthcare, with the only changes benefiting the insurance companies; it will not be “changed later,” except perhaps made worse.  I do not support the bill, and no, I won’t stop recognizing corporatist right wing war criminal scum such as Obama, Clinton, Pelosi, Reid for what they are.

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By wildflower, December 21, 2009 at 5:10 pm Link to this comment

RE C.Curtis.Dillon, December 21 at 12:27 pm - “Simple comment LSL: . . . you seem to be on a one man crusade to change that.  I wonder why?”

As I recall, LSL’s anti-Semitic accusations began when the “# 60 Spotlight” was on Lieberman. Several Truthdig posters had commented on a couple of issues about Lieberman’s flip-flopping in regard to the Public Option. 

One issue involved Robert Parry’s article, “Is Joe Lieberman Protecting Israel,” which argues that Lieberman’s obstructionist behavior was related to his pro Israel advocacy.  Perry suggests that Lieberman wanted to see the Public Option fail primarily as means to alienate and stir up the Left’s anger against the
President; thereby, weakening his overall political viability and the amount of pressure he could place on those involved in developing a Mideast peace plan.

The other issue involved Lieberman’s response to some of his Pro Public Option constituents, including a group of Connecticut Rabbis, who wanted some answers as to why he was flip-flopping on the Public Option, which would help America’s poor.  Lieberman’s responded by saying he “was worried [Public Option] would increase the debt.” Since Lieberman is an avid warmonger - particularly in the Middle East - and has never expressed any prior concern about costs and the amount of debt accumulating as a result of his hawkish pro Israel advocacy and war mongering activities, some posters questioned the selective inconsistencies in regard to Lieberman’s National debt worries.

Hence, the anti-Semitic accusations from Liquor Store Larry. Most posters have ignored LSL’s bullying remarks.  It’s clear that LSL would prefer to ignore that a large segment of the U.S. population is unhappy about Lieberman’s obstructionist behavior, including Jewish Rabbis in the State of Connecticut.  The same concern applies to what is happening in Israel and the Middle East as well.

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By ardee, December 21, 2009 at 4:49 pm Link to this comment

FRTothus, December 21 at 4:30 pm #

There is only one thing understood by those in power.

I heard today that the initial fine for non participation will be $75 dollars. The assumption being that it will rise steadily until all will be forced, if only by economic necessity, to opt in.

Thus I think this a useful tool to inform our legislators how many of us are against this guarantee of insurance company profits.  But only as a one time action. I must confess that my opinion is that the real solution to the ills that have come to infest our system of governance lie with the ballot box.

Despite FRTotus’ eloquent post I see no real alternative to voting with intelligence and purpose. Despite the many who denigrate the campaigns of Nader, McKinney and other such independent ( non mainstream) candidates I see those votes as an effective way of showing the duopoly that rules us that we can and will vote them out.

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By Big Jess, December 21, 2009 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Cover 30 million? Oh, yeah, sure it will—with a policy that requires $11,900 in annual payouts ON TOP OF PREMIUMS before the benefits kick in. I suggest you go read a few of the posts by Jane Hamsher and Jon Walker over at FireDogLake, then rethink drinking the Obamacare Kool-Aid spin.

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By KDelphi, December 21, 2009 at 4:02 pm Link to this comment

gerard—Physicians for a Natl Health Plan:http://www.pnhp.org/

Calif Physicians
http://capa.pnhp.org/

Mad as Hell Drs:http://capa.pnhp.org/

California (now natl) Nurses:http://www.calnurses.org/

Medicare for All has plenty of health care professionals:http://www.medicareforall.org/pages/Home (the AMA only reps about 20% of drs)

My dr at Cleveland Clinic says that this bill will REDUCE access to good care for the poor.

As a former Medical Social Worker, I say it is corporate, political bullshit.

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By December 5, 1933, December 21, 2009 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment

Great, now all we have to do is wait until 2014 when the piece of shit legislation comes into effect to see what a miserable piece of shit it really is. Then, we get to go through this entire horse and pony show once more to get an even more watered down “correction” to the current piece of shit legislation, which would most likely, take effect sometime around 2020.
No thanks, Mr. Dionne.

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By Howie Bledsoe, December 21, 2009 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

one word…

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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By David, December 21, 2009 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You’ll all take what Obama gives you and you’ll LIKE IT.  Now sit down and shut up and let The Unitary Executive decide who will live and who will suffer and die.  At least he’s letting us die slowly here.  In Af-Pak he just blows women and children into chunks of meat.  More efficient dontchaknow.

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By FRTothus, December 21, 2009 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

There is only one thing understood by those in power.  Voting changes nothing.  Street protests accomplish nothing, and are easily and regularly ignored, more often than not violently put down by the State with its monopoly on power.  Letters to the corporate whores that make up both Houses of Congress and the Executive, or the shills in the MSM called editors, are likewise ineffective.  However, we do still have a choice.  It is our money that we are talking about here, our welfare that is at stake, and we can refuse to play, we can refuse to participate in the scam.  To quote Olbermann’s recent and most honorable Special Comment directly:

“Health care reform that benefits the industry at the cost of the people is intolerable and there are no moral constructs in which it can be supported. And if still the bill and this heinous mandate become law there is yet further reaction required. I call on all those whose conscience urges them to fight, to use the only weapon that will be left to us if this bill becomes law. We must not buy federally mandated insurance if this cheesy counterfeit of reform is all we can buy.  No single payer? No sale! No public option? No sale! No Medicare buy-in? No sale! ...And I hereby pledge that I will not buy this perversion of health care reform. Pass this at your peril, Senators, and sign it at yours, Mr. President. I will not buy this insurance. Brand me a lawbreaker if you choose. Fine me if you will. Jail me if you must.”

Such non-violent resistance is within our power, and represents actions which a truly free people will not allow to be usurped, and a truly brave people will not be afraid to support.

“The most formidable military machine depends ultimately on the obedience of its soldiers, ... the most powerful corporation becomes helpless when its workers stop working, when its customers refuse to buy its products.
The strike, the boycott, the refusal to serve, the ability to paralyze the functioning of a complex social structure - these remain potent weapons against the most fearsome state or corporate power.”
(Howard Zinn)

“There is no reason to accept the doctrines crafted to sustain power and privilege, or to believe that we are constrained by mysterious and unknown social laws. These are simply decisions made within institutions that are subject to human will and that must face the test of legitimacy. And if they do not meet the test, they can be replaced by other institutions that are more free and more just, as has happened often in the past.”
(Noam Chomsky)

“One may well ask: How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others? The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
(Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

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By glider, December 21, 2009 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

Gerard,
Good point.  My take is that they do not support Obama’s or the corporate media’s propaganda points.  The corporate takeover of the media is essential for controlling the masses and has been accomplished.  Health care officials and economists were not part of the making of this legislation and do not serve the interests of the HIC powerhouse.

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By pundaint, December 21, 2009 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

Gerard

Max Baucus had them arrested, when they tried to participate.

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By gerard, December 21, 2009 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

I’ve brought this up before but it wasn’t addressed.  Maybe it’s too naive—I don’t pretend to have followed the Machiavellian movement of this “health care reform” bill in detail.  My question still is: Where are the public statements of the physicians and surgeons, the MDs, the Nurses associations, the medical technicians’ associations? 
Surely these groups see first hand the sad results of inadequate medical care and they are all people who identify with “do no harm.”  Yet surely they all see the harm done under the present system.  And their voices should be among the most significant. Natioinal TV statements?  Full lpages in the NYT?  What are they standing for?  Or behind?  Or are they just standing by?  It’s hard to believe that they don’t care one way or the other when their voices are desperately needed.

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By glider, December 21, 2009 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment

What we are now witnessing is the Depression without FDR.  Welcome to Corporate Utopia.  Why don’t I feel good?

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By pundaint, December 21, 2009 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment

Healthcare reform is over.

For Democrats the problem is simply defined.  We have a good platform. 
The people we’ve hired to implement it, wont.  We need new people.

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By glider, December 21, 2009 at 11:53 am Link to this comment

myxzptlk,
>>The net effect of the Senate bill is to trade off further financial hardship for tens of millions of Americans, in return for broader coverage that could be
achieved at much lower cost.<<

Thanks for the clarity of your post.  I could not agree with you more or state the degree of betrayal better.  And all in the name of corporate profits over citizen health.  Our government and media are now completely non-functional.

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By Victoria, December 21, 2009 at 11:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t see what is good in this bill at ALL. Especially if you’re going to talk about
30 million more insured. How is it a good thing to mandate people buy something
they obviously cannot afford in the first place, with absolutely NO tighter regs on
the industry? Caving in to the pharmaceutical companies before the fight even
begins tells me that Obama is a Corporatist and we should NOT be happy with the
tiny crumbs thrown our way. The process is disgusting yes, and needs to be
completely changed. Let’s start with having more than two faux parties to choose
from.

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By ambro42, December 21, 2009 at 11:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If progressives and liberals are to exert their political power, they must stop depending on corporate owned Democrats. Until these substantial number of voters end their support of a political party beholden to wealthy institutions, their political activity will be worthless. Knee jerk support for not-Republicans is easily manipulated, and progressives and liberals have been played for suckers. Drop Democratic Party membership and only support candidates that best represent your views. Voting for the lesser evil has created a government nonresponsive to the greater good.

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By myxzptlk, December 21, 2009 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

It’s crystal clear that the current Senate bill is more corporate welfare,
camouflaged by a thin veneer of measures designed to garner public support.  To suggest that we should support such a bill because of that thin veneer,
rather than kill it because of it’s corporate welfare core, is disingenuous.

The net effect of the Senate bill is to trade off further financial hardship for
tens of millions of Americans, in return for broader coverage that could be
achieved at much lower cost.

Americans are sick of corporate welfare.  Even in the midst of the worst
economic period in almost a century, corporate interests insist on milking
American taxpayers for their benefit, and our “elected” officials are only too
willing to assist.

Dionne’s point about the idiocy of the supermajority rule in the Senate is valid,
but until the Democratic majority does something to fix that problem, it’s a
moot point.  Their inaction tells me everything I need to know - the current
impasse in the Senate is delivering *exactly* what the Democrats want.

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By glider, December 21, 2009 at 11:19 am Link to this comment

Virgina,
My only statement regarding you is that you are an Obama apologist.  Call that an insult if you will but I call it a statement of fact.  You are no progressive in my opinion and are part of the problem.  If progressives do not fight for what they believe in what is the point?  I will not compromise with evil and I want the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to have the balls to take a stand.

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By Anarcissie, December 21, 2009 at 11:11 am Link to this comment

Virginia777—“Calling out” is what trolls want.  Sometimes they work in teams (or one uses a sockpuppet id) to set up a phony argument which then draws the unwary in.  The point is to disrupt the existing discussion and if possible to make people angry.  The present case is typical.  The proposition that all liberals hate Jews is (1) absurd and not worthy of discussion and (2) is irrelevant to the present subject anyway.  It seems to me the best way to deal with that kind of thing is to ignore it.  Anyway, how can you respond to something that has less meaning than a dog barking?

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By Virginia777, December 21, 2009 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

and you stop your insults, glider.

we have the same message - except, that you are still wasting time venting at Obama (which must make you feel good but is a HUGE waste of time)

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By Dr. Frankie, December 21, 2009 at 10:51 am Link to this comment

“Instead of trying to derail the process—exactly what conservative opponents want to do—those on the left dissatisfied with the Senate bill should focus their efforts over the next few weeks on getting as many fixes into it as they can.”

E.J., I’m afraid you haven’t got the memo yet: What will prevent a Nelson or a Leiberman to thwart ANY effective fix that would truly help people?

Nothing! Holy Joe, Nelson, Stupidak et al. will make absolutely sure that corporations, churches and ideologues are attended too, first and foremost.

And you know what is the most infuriating part of it all? They know that Rahm and Obama have their backs covered. These guys want a bill, any bill, while keeping the campaign contributions flowing in the Dems coffers.

So, yes! we are organizing. But it’ll be hell on earth before we trust anything (that includes the hour of the day) the political leadership on any stripe says.

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By glider, December 21, 2009 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

Virginia777
Mobilizing the Left means inducing them to fight and not roll over as you promote.  Fighting for the progressive left would mean rejecting this shit bill and taking it as far as they can through reconciliation to support the people, and campaigning and building on their righteous effort in 2010 and 2012.  Rolling over to our corporate sellout corporate Congress and deceitful President as you promote does not move towards this end.  Please stop your apologist crap!

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By Virginia777, December 21, 2009 at 10:22 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie: I think that sometimes trolls need to be called out and addressed. They are intentionally disrupting threads and I have seen them wreck real havoc (and spread real hatred). Often, they are paid to do this. When someone is paid to be disruptive, that is not “free speech”. That is a threat, a threat that occasionally needs to be dealt with.

I wish (and have asked for) Truthdig would have a firmer Troll control policy, but since they do not, sometimes they need to be called out for their outrageous behavior.

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By Virginia777, December 21, 2009 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

Exactly E.J. Dionne! stop all the screaming and bitching (like the obsessive, counter-productive Obama-bashing)

and lets get to work on mobilizing the Left!!

Screaming does nothing but vent, and venting (while it feels good sometimes) never did anything towards the common good, a good that most desperately needs us.

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By Anarcissie, December 21, 2009 at 10:10 am Link to this comment

C.Curtis.Dillon, December 21 at 12:27 pm:
‘Simple comment LSL:  Not all liberals and progressives hate Jews.  I’ve actually found a lot of conservatives who have that feeling but few true liberals.  But you seem to be on a one man crusade to change that.  I wonder why? ...’

Because he, she, it or they are trolling you—maybe for amusement or as an expression of mental disease, but I notice also that remarks about Israel (or 9/11, or both) routinely surface here in order to destroy discussions about other important issues.  Here we are talking maybe constructively about alternatives to the very bad Health (Industry) Care bill which has passed in the Senate and suddenly someone pops up with a completely irrelevant and obviously false remark about liberals hating Jews.  Maybe it’s not just a coincidence—although it is hard to imagine even lower-level agents concerning themselves much with what is said here.

Anyway, if you pay attention to trolls, you’re not going to have time for anything else.

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By rudyspeaks, December 21, 2009 at 9:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The pro-passage argument that it will cover the uninsured is nonsense. That
doesn’t settle the issue but it scuttles that particular argument. It merely
guarantees the health care lobby tax money for a policy w/so many co-pays, high
deductibles and caps that it’s unusable. it’s a Republican’s dream.

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By glider, December 21, 2009 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

By Liquor Store Larry, December 21 at 12:11 pm #
>>All anyone who calls themselevs “progressive” needs to be happy is a Jew to hate!<<

I am not sure where this is coming from but this is a wrong pronouncement.  I am on record here for strongly disapproving of the Anti-Semites on this site which are an extremely disturbing trend to be sure.  However, this phenomena is equally or more disturbing within the Tea Bagger crowd.  It is interesting that my Jewish American friends who were once quite liberal have realigned with the Christian Right based upon common Anti-Muslim sentiment manifested from a shared pro Manifest Destiny ideology for Isreal.  I understand this feeling from Jews but the alignment with the Christian Right is based on their completely insane “End of Days” prophecy.  This alignment has driven Jews towards too aggressive an attitude towards the Palestinians and to blocking a two state settlement.  My Jewish friends for instance rationalize the settlements as being needed for “natural growth” inspite of the fact that the population of Palestinians is growing faster than their own.  When it comes down to it they admit to me that there is really no interest in making a settlement.  So here is an area where I would hope American Jews could be a little more American and a little less Isreali, which I believe would ultimately be to the benefit of us both.  I am interested as to your opinion on my observation.

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By Liquor Store Larry, December 21, 2009 at 8:57 am Link to this comment

By the way, for the record I support REAL GENUINE SINGLE PAYER UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE and not this watered down lobbyist generated garbage. Hillary Clinton WHO I SHOULD HAVE VOTED FOR had the Chutzpa to stand up 16 years ago and tell us that we needed real “Universal Health Care”. Obama says we will be mandated to “buy insurance” as we are mandated to buy auto insurance but we are not mandated to drive a care OR buy auto insurance in reality. Obama tells us that this bill is good because “every other civilized country provides health care to it’s citizens” but he is not willing to give us what every other civilized country provides. This is where I stand on health care!

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By Liquor Store Larry, December 21, 2009 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

Dillon - because even though I am purely secular and only born Jewish, I am offended at an entire movement that is a danger to the USA who believes that making a human sacrifice of Israel is the answer to all of our problems and focuses on Israel’s imperfections while overlooking the most vile barbarism if myriad Muslim theocracies in the course of trying to appease them. Because I am reminded daily of the sheer insanity of Cindy Sheehan who stated and I quote “World War Two was a diplomatic failure” as if we did not try hard enough to reason with Hitler or we were a little impatient with poor Adolph. The fact remains, those who call themselves “progressive” are not a Jewish issue, they are an immanent threat to all of humanity. Voila, now you know!

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By glider, December 21, 2009 at 8:38 am Link to this comment

openlyliberal,
“why can’t reconciliation work?”

In theory it could and I am with Dean too.  But the corporate representatives we were forced to elect and the corporate media (e.g. Dionne) seek to minimize health care and maximize HIC enrichment.  It is that simple.  Money talks.

Ignore what they say, and analyze what they do.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, December 21, 2009 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

Simple comment LSL:  Not all liberals and progressives hate Jews.  I’ve actually found a lot of conservatives who have that feeling but few true liberals.  But you seem to be on a one man crusade to change that.  I wonder why?

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By whatisbestinlife, December 21, 2009 at 6:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Dionne, I have immense respect for you and your work.  You are one of my favorite columnists.

But simply put, making it a crime to not buy insurance from a private company is most certainly not “providing coverage to 30 million.”  It is, in my opinion, immoral if the government doesn’t also provide a government-backed alternative to their forcing citizens into the arms of for-profit companies.

You should be asking the Senator, “So you equate forcing citizens to buy insurance from private companies, or charging them a substantial fine, to ‘providing’ coverage?”

You failed in your job, I’m sorry to say, in noting the blatant lie being told by the Senator and calling him out on it.

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By Anarcissie, December 21, 2009 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

C.Curtis.Dillon, December 21 at 7:20 am:
’... I would suggest and encourage a massive walk away from the current system.  If you have insurance, quit.  Refuse to be part of this anymore.  Maybe we should start a new co-op insurance system….’

I’ve suggested this several times in many places over the last several years, and the idea has never elicited any interest, much to my surprise.  I can’t see any other way to cure the problems we observe.  As long as big business and its twin big government are in control of the situation, they will act to profit their leadership, not their customers or constituents.  The result of trusting them has produced something really bad, as it usually does.

There are already cooperative medical insurance companies in existence and even cooperative HMOs.  Maybe they can be expanded or used as a model.  But nothing is going to happen as long as people look to the existing mainstream parties, bureaucrats and capitalists to solve their problems.

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By earthwirehead, December 21, 2009 at 5:33 am Link to this comment

organize, yes—but don’t waste time or money trying to make anything happen at a national/federal level.  It is time to IGNORE the federal government in every way possible, and work within our own communities—with politicians who are actually accountable to their constituents—to effect meaningful change.

This corporate give-away in the guise of “reform” was, for me, the last straw… and I suspect that I am not alone.

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By Caro, December 21, 2009 at 3:53 am Link to this comment

They did organize, E.J. They organized behind a guy who
had no intention of giving them anything they wanted.

Lotta good THAT did.

Carolyn Kay
MakeThemAccountable.com

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By ardee, December 21, 2009 at 3:40 am Link to this comment

At the risk of playing my one note samba, Mr. Dionne is fixated on the idea that our government can still be an effective tool for change. The only thing our three branches have in common is that they work for the bottom line of our largest industries.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, December 21, 2009 at 3:20 am Link to this comment

The Senate has a place but what these clowns have done to the institution is treasonous.  This stupid 60 vote rule has basically handed all power to the Republicans and their conservaDem allies.  But it would appear this bill is essentially what Obama and his pit bull Emanuel wanted.  There was never real support for reform ... just the appearance so they could raise money and crow that reform was accomplished.  That’s why the “bad” parts don’t take effect until 2014.

I’m throwing my weight with Howard Dean on this one.  This bill is fatally flawed and whatever benefits there are have so many holes that the insurance industry will be able to avoid them easily.  The mandate is just a massive gift to the crooks.  And existing conditions can easily be avoided by raising premiums so high no one will be able to afford them.  It is a joke and insult to all of us.  I would bet a whole bunch of companies will cut their medical policies once this goes into effect.  They can’t afford the cost increases.

I would suggest and encourage a massive walk away from the current system.  If you have insurance, quit.  Refuse to be part of this anymore.  Maybe we should start a new co-op insurance system funded by an upfront contribution of 1 year’s premium.  We could locate in a state where the rules are easiest and then sell policies nationwide (another gift for the insurance industry to get around state insurance regs).  A basic policy that is affordable ... maybe even qualifies for the government subsidies if you are poor.  This is something we should seriously look at as a competitor to the insurance companies.  I would bet we could get several million policy holders pretty soon and start driving costs at that point.  Anyone interested?

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By KDelphi, December 21, 2009 at 1:14 am Link to this comment

There will not be another “health care reform fight”, Dionne..it wont go into effect (most of it) until Obama has his second term. Dems will say that theyve “fixed health care”.

I have talked to surgeons and physicians at major medical centers, and, yea, this is worse than nothng…it will make access for the poor more difficult and the expansion of medicaid without fed funding (maybe 2 yrs) is just incomprehensible, with the states being so broke!.

If it actually covers 30 million people (lol) I will be amazed and actually vote for a Dem again!! But, thats not gonna happen.

I saw Gupta (Obama’s corporate first choice for Surgeon Gen) tonight, do a “breakdown” of the “tax cuts” you will get to purchase a $4800 policy (takes it down to about $3800) if you make $44,000 a yr (median for this country) If you think this is affordable, go see s shrink, while you still have insurance at the WP.

The Dems should be ashamed at some of the things they said tonight on the Senate floor tonight…I hope they enjoy their insurance industry paid for vacations over Xmas…

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By openlyliberal, December 20, 2009 at 11:46 pm Link to this comment

Thanks E.J.  Always a fan.  But I’m concerned that you’re buying the Senator’s arguments in favor of this bill too passively.  Do you really believe this bill will cover 30 million more people?  I work 2 jobs and still can’t afford health insurance.  I doubt whatever pittance the bill finally offers to a middle-class family like mine will suddenly make it affordable.  Instead, I will continue on without it (maybe until I get my kids through college), and be considered criminal.  How does mandating coverage for preexisting conditions do a damn thing when there are no cost containments?  Instead of refusing people based on preexisting conditions, they just price them out of range (oh yeah, unless they are wealthy—or a Senator).  But your points are well-taken.  This thing isn’t over.  If we could get rid of the mandate, it would be more palatable, since it would suddenly put me in position to have to either pay higher taxes or go to jail.  I’m still with Dean.  Why can’t reconciliation work?

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