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      Watch this video. It’s only 39 seconds. It’s worth it. What’s interesting to me about this video is NOT what Bernie says, it’s the reaction. It’s how genuinely uncomfortable the people interviewing him (The NYTimes editors) are. They really think he’s saying something terrible. Something awkward. Something embarrassing. What is he saying? “I ignore the […] […]
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Failure was the plan


Many of the posts and comments urging progressives to support the health care reform bill are based on a false premise. When you remove that false premise you realize that all the arguments for passing this horrible bill are bogus.

Right now Left Blogistan seems to be in agreement that the current version of health care reform is a horrible bill. Months ago I quit paying close attention to exactly what is in the bill because it was already bad and kept getting worse. The current argument among progressives is whether or not they should support a horrible bill.

Some people blame Joe Lieberman, others blame Harry Reid, or Rahm Emmanuel, Ben Nelson, Max Baucus, Republicans, tea-baggers or even Hillary Clinton.  There are some newly-minted PUMAS accusing Obama of selling out but others are still in denial and want to believe that Obama tried to do the right thing but misjudged what he was up against or was badly advised.

Whether they blame Obama or someone else, their arguments contain the same false premise. That false premise is the idea that Obama and the Democratic leadership actually support health care reform, but the Republicans and the Blue Dogs have joined forces with the lobbyists to obstruct them.

Obama and the Democratic leadership DO NOT support health care reform.  The problem isn’t that they’re apathetic about it, it’s that they are actively opposed to it.They aren’t opposed on ideological grounds or because they want to see people suffer, it’s just a simple conflict of interest.  There is no financial incentive for them to reform our nations health care system, but obstructing and opposing reform is very lucrative.

This health care reform clusterfuck was not an accident, it was planned.

Suppose you had a co-worker who on a daily basis kept “accidentally” spilling her coffee on your desk, messing up what you were working on and making you miss deadlines? What if your supervisor was a clumsy oaf who unintentionally grabbed your breast or your ass 2-3 times a week? How about if your boss kept making mistakes on your pay, invariably shorting you 10-20% on your sales commissions?

Assume that each of these people apologized each and every time it happened, and always sounded very sincere. How long would it take before you realized that they were doing it intentionally?  Not long I would hope.

The conservative movement has been on the rise most of my adult life. They have been well organized and heavily funded, and even before FOX News was created they had their own propaganda network in the media.  The Republican party is their political arm, but the real power isn’t the politicians, it’s the wealthy corporatists.

Their primary goal is returning this country to the golden age that existed before the New Deal.  No unions, no  government social spending, and no regulation of banks and business.  Because this country is still officially a democratic republic we still have elections, but the corporatists have been successful at rigging the outcomes in their favor.

With the exception of the Big Dawg in 1992 and 1996 I watched Republicans run rough-shod over Democrats for decades. As the minority party in Congress they have been able to block progressive legislation and judicial appointments, but when they became the majority that’s when the Democrats really got steamrollered.

I used to get frustrated watching the Democrats get outmaneuvered tactically and many times I shook my head in disgust as they made concession after concession. The worst part was when they surrendered without a fight. I wouldn’t have minded losing quite so much if they at least put up a fight.

Because of Iraq and Katrina you could sense that the public mood had turned against George Bush and the GOP by early 2006. But even though polls showed the war was very unpopular the Congressional Democrats were reluctant to push the issue. But in spite of doing everything they could to lose the Democrats won big.

But when Nancy Pelosi took over as Speaker of the House one of the first things she did was declare that impeachment was off the table. I couldn’t understand why the Democrats did nothing to stop the war or end the lawless behavior of the Bush administration.  The Democratic leadership couldn’t maintain any discipline.  It was very rare to see a Republican voting for a Democratic bill, but there were some blue dogs that voted with the GOP more often than they voted with their own party.

Then one day the light came on in my head. It was about the time that Alberto Gonzales was telling the Senate he couldn’t remember a single thing about his job as Attorney General.  Then the “loyal Bushies” started stonewalling with claims of privilege and by pleading the Fifth.  There was ample evidence to justify a special prosecutor or the appointment of a special committee to investigate.  But all the Democrats did was make a little noise and then drop it.

That’s when I realized they didn’t want to win.  They were like the Washington Generals – the team that always played the Harlem Globetrotters – they got paid to lose.  The Democrats would say the right things, but when it came time to vote they let the Republicans win.  They would make speeches scolding bankers and then turn around and deregulate Wall Street.  They pretend to be on our side, but their loyalty goes to the big money special interests.

I’m not saying there aren’t any good Democrats in Washington anymore, but they are an endangered species.  The Democratic leadership has gone over to the enemy, and that includes Obama, Pelosi and Reid.  Why would they do something like that? During the Watergate investigation Mark Felt/DeepThroat supposedly told Woodward and Bernstein to “follow the money.” That is where the truth is.

The pressure for health care reform has been building for years. It was obvious after the 2006 midterms that the Democrats were going to re-take the White House in 2008 and health care costs have been spiraling out of control for the past couple decades. Add in Hillary as the presumptive front-runner and even Stevie Wonder could see what was coming.  So the corporatists shifted their attention to the Democratic party.

Last year what party and which candidate got the most money from Big Pharma and the health insurance companies?  I’ll give you a hint – it was the same party and candidate that got all the Wall Street money.  They gave him millions back in 2007 when he was a rookie Senator to start his campaign  and they spent  lots more buying him the nomination.

You didn’t really think all those career Democrat politicians in Washington suddenly got starry eyes and tingly legs just because they heard Obama make a speech did you?  The party insiders helped Obama because Obama had rich and powerful friends that asked them to help Obama.  The same thing goes for the media.  Early on Obama was getting more media attention than he deserved, and it was mostly positive.

After decades in Washington shilling for the special interests Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd could barely raise enough money to compete in Iowa.  Even though they were both regulars on Sunday morning news shows their campaigns got little attention.  Richardson, Vilsack, Kucinich and Gravel were even worse off.  During 2007 the six of them combined raised about $25 million.  Obama raised that much in the first quarter of the year.

They took a light-weight politician with virtually no accomplishments and hired David Axelrod to turn him into Candidate Obama.  He was nearly perfect for them, an unscrupulous man with no core beliefs except his own ambition.  Best of all from their point of view, Obama doesn’t have the strength of character to defy authority.

During the campaign Obama resurrected “Harry and Louise” to attack Hillary’s plan, and criticized her for proposing health insurance mandates.  He also promised to televise the health care reform discussions on C-Span.

People think that after he took office Obama made secret deal with Big Pharma and the health insurance companies. That’s not true.  There might have been some specific details to discuss but the basic outline of the deal was made when Obama sold them his soul in exchange for being President.

Despite his promise to consider all the options Obama made sure single payer got buried. Max Baucus helped him in the Senate and the A-list progressive bloggers cooperated to keep the subject taboo on the front pages of their blogs.

So they’ve supposedly been wheeling and dealing on health care reform for months now, and some parts have changed quite a bit but other parts haven’t. (Keep in mind the speed and efficiency with which the FISA revision and TARP moved through Congress without major changes. Nancy and Harry were in charge back then too.)

They started with a “robust public option” and after weakening it until it it was meaningless they still took it out. There was a provision for a Medicare buy-in for people 55-65 years old. Lieberman liked it, then demanded it be taken out. The House version included the Stupak-Pitts amendment.

Who will be covered and how much will it cost? Fuck if I know, but whatever the current version says will change again before it’s over. But one thing hasn’t changed.

Mandates.

I’ve seen my state government mandate the purchase of insurance, but this is different. If you drive a car in California you have to buy auto insurance. When that law took effect the insurance companies saw a big jump in profits. But you’re not required to drive a car. If you own a business that hires employees you have to buy Worker’s Compensation insurance. But you don’t have to be self-employed.

Obama and the Congressional Democrats are proposing to solve the problem of people without health insurance by making them buy health insurance from private companies. That is truly unprecedented and historic.

Will there be effective cost controls and guaranteed coverage? I wouldn’t bet on it, 30 Democratic Senators voted against allowing the importation of cheaper prescription drugs.  It doesn’t appear they give a fuck about us little people.

They have generously included subsidies for the working poor (the non-working poor already have Medicaid) but all that means is that they will use tax dollars to help cover their premiums.

Right now the health insurance companies are paying out in benefits about 2/3 of of what they collect in premiums.  The remaining 1/3 goes to overhead and profits, and the health insurance companies are very profitable. Soon they will have their profits guaranteed by law and subsidized with tax dollars.

That was the plan from the beginning.

The primary beneficiaries of the plan are the health insurance companies. They invested millions and they will get back billions.  The plan does nothing to reform the system. This is not half a loaf, it is a windfall for the health insurance companies disguised as reform.

The Democrats didn’t try to write a better bill. They didn’t want one. The Democrats wanted this bill because the people they work for wanted this bill.  Unfortunately we aren’t the people they work for.

I expect the bill to pass.  The Democrats aren’t worried about public opinion or job security.

The A-list bloggers can’t stop it, just like they couldn’t stop the FISA revision.  They’re as useless as tits on a boar hog. All it took was a David Axelrod whispering sweet nothings and promises of insider access and they abandoned the idea of a democratic, grassroots progressive blogosphere and became the disseminators of White House talking points.

Health care reform is a big shit sandwich and we’re all gonna have to take a bite, but the A-listers deserve a double helping for all the help they gave the cooks.

The worst part is that despite the humiliating way they were exploited and discarded most of the progressive bloggers will go crawling back to vote for Obama and the Democrats because “the Republicans are worse!”


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The abortion “compromise” doesn’t make the health care reform bill good

Nebraska: Allowing gender inequality one state at a time!

Time has the lowdown on what Harry Reid had to offer Ben Nelson in order for him to sign on to the health care reform bill:

In addition to getting a sweetheart deal for his home state, Ben Nelson also got Harry Reid to offer more than the Casey abortion language in the manager’s amendment. In addition to providing stronger conscience protections for medical institutions and health workers opposed to abortion, and expanding adoption tax credits, the manager’s amendment segregates funds and gives states the option of excluding from their insurance exchanges any plans that cover abortion. In essence, that allows states to adopt the strict Stupak provisions without requiring that states do so.

I think there’s a bit of reverse psychology going on with respect to the issue of abortion.  Let’s dispense with the term anti-abortion, shall we?  Let’s call it what it really is: The movement to deny women the ability to decide for themselves whether to be parents as most persons endowed by their creators with unalienable rights have the right to do.  With anti-abortion measures, women are not just subject to the state, they are forced to recognize a religious presence in their lives whether they have faith or not.  Men do not need to recognize any faith.  They are allowed complete freedom of conscience.

In fact, a crisis of conscience is only respected when women decide to end a pregnancy.  If religious people decide to kill innocent civilians as the collateral damage in a proxy religious war halfway around the world, the rest of us still have to pay taxes for this endeavor regardless of our crisis of conscience.  If fundamentalists insist on an eye for an eye with respect to convicted murderers, even if some of those people are victims of mistaken identity, those of us who oppose capital punishment of innocent people are not allowed to segregate our tax dollars from theirs when it comes time to purchase materials for a lethal injection. One would think that their god would have more consistency when it comes to life ending procedures but for some unfathomable reason, he only objects to women doing it when it affects their own personal lives.  If that’s not the definition of inequality, I don’t know what is.   In fact, if we’re going to continue to fight about Roe v.Wade for the duration of the Republic, let’s just get rid of it now and re-decide the case based on equality instead of privacy.  Are women equal persons under the law? Do they have the unalienable right to decide for themselves if and when they will be parents? Bart Stupak, would you like to answer that question so the women of Michigan can know what they’re voting for in 2010?

This is at the bottom of Ben Nelson and Bart Stupak’s argument in favor of anti-abortion language in the proposed bills.  They feel their priesthood status in their chosen Christian faith charges them with ordering everyone’s lives according to their worldview.  Who appointed them their very narrow and specific, fundamentalist and authoritarian Judeo-Christian God’s authorities on earth?  Apparently, the people of Nebraska and a district in Michigan did.  I thought the Constitution guaranteed us no state religion but I guess the founders weren’t thinking about the extra specialness of Nebraska and a district in Michigan.  Nebraska has a population density of 23 persons/square mile and decreasing.  To put some perspective on that, New Jersey’s population density is 1,134 persons/square mile.  Now, I know that we have a new Republican governor  who could conceivably decide to impose his own conservative stamp on the health care reform act in NJ and take the Nebraska Compromise but if he does, he probably shouldn’t be surprised if women here send their friends around to break his knees.   And then they’re going to be really angry at Congressional Democrats for making it possible for a handful of religious hardasses in Nebraska to control the equal and independent women living in the crowded suburbs of New Jersey.

Look ahead, Democrats.  Do you really want to piss off more women in New Jersey?  Remember what happened to Corzine.

It’s important that we separate abortion from health care reform if for no other reason than there are buggers inside Congress that are trying so damned hard to conflate the two.  So, here’s the deal, guys.  There is no deal. We don’t like this bill.  You apologists for the Democratic party can rationalize it 6 ways to Sunday but there’s no denying that it doesn’t go far enough.  It’s not the New Deal type legislation we desperately need and everyone knows it.  It’s going to saddle a lot of people at the edge with another major expense they can’t afford to pay.  It will rob Petra to pay Paula and even though Petra and Paula are friends, Petra gets relatively little out of this deal.  We aren’t going to end up with a Canadian system, heck, we’re not even getting Germany or Switzerland.  We’re getting a uniquely American system where the middle class and everyone under it is going to be forced to buy from virtual monopolies that will join the cable companies and telecomm giants and banks in screwing them out of every disposable dollar they have.  It’s socialism for the insurance industry.

There were a multitude of permutations that would have succeeded in covering poor and sick people but the Democrats picked the one that is most likely to piss off their own constituents in the highest numbers.  Congratulations, guys.

But this abortion thing?  I gotta wonder why it wasn’t sufficient to stick the knife into health care reform without adding the agonizing poison.  You should have never even entertained Stupak and Nelson no matter how much they howled and screamed.  That’s going to come back to bite you.  And no matter how much theater comes up on the floor of the Senate during debate in the next couple of days to try to remove the amendments and compromises, taking them out is not going to make this bill smell any sweeter.  The jig is up.  We see through the distraction.

Leave the Nebraska Compromise in and you’re massively screwed next year by all of those involuntary female converts to fundamentalist Christianity and Catholicism no matter where they live.  An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.

Take it out and you’re still going to alienate all of the Democrats who now have your number.  Either way, your failure to deliver a truly transformative health care reform bill is going to bite you in the ass.

Put the champagne flute down and sober up.

Update: The official talking points troll has arrived in the comments and has a message prepared in the best marketing, manipulative language the Democrats can buy.  It’s obvious that it’s prepared because the commenter didn’t really bother to read the post.  So, here is a summary for those of you too lazy to read the whole thing:

Here’s the bottom line:
If you don’t take the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?
The answer is never. The Democrats are shooting their wad right now on an insufficient and fatally flawed bill because they are afraid they will lose their majorities in congress in 2010.
We want to decouple abortion from this bill, not because leaving in the restrictions are abominable but because it distracts from the badness of the bill.
And don’t tell me about how non-profits have to now take care of the abortion needs of women. American women are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for this country. They deserve to be treated like independent persons with dignity and respect, not like fucking second class citizens and beggars.
The equal rights issue is going to last waaaay past the resolution of this bill. Democrats should be a lot more careful about these things. They WILL pay for it.

Addendum: We need to dump Roe v. Wade. All it has ever done is empower the religious right and allows both parties to use it as a political football.  It is time for the country to decide once and for all whether women are equal persons under the law entitled to equal pay, equal rights and the equal ability to decide if they are going to be parents.  Dump the damn POS.  Put the politicians of both parties on the hotseat and make them defend their primitive inequitable treatment of women. Repeat after me: “I will not support any politician who invokes Roe v. Wade in order to get my vote.”

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