Sunday, March 21, 2010

On Healthcare, Wall Street, Climate, War, etc. - Is This The Democrats Best or Worst Hour? Both. There is a Great Difference Between Hell & Purgatory

Arnold Böcklin's Prometheus

Robert F. Kennedy speaking to Civil Rights activists on the steps of the U.S. Justice Department in 1963

All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.

I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.

I thought they'd get one of us, but Jack, after all he's been through, never worried about it I thought it would be me.

Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968)

On Healthcare, Wall Street, Climate, War, etc. - Is This The Democrats Best or Worst Hour? Both. There is a Great Difference Between Hell & Purgatory

By Richard Power

There is a difference between Purgatory and Hell; it is the difference between a finite ordeal and eternal damnation. And that's the difference between the Democratic Party (besotted as it is with corporatist campaign contributions) and the Cult formerly known as the Republican Party. If you dispute this, I urge you to ponder the difference between a Sonia Sotomayor and a John Roberts; and if you think the SCOTUS card is overplayed by us apologists for the Democratic Party, perhaps you should ponder the impact of Bush v. Gore and United v. FEC again. (That's why Ralph Nader has NO CREDIBILITY whatsoever, and will not have any until he admits this difference, and acknowledges that by campaigning against Gore in FLORDIA on the last weekend of the 2000 campaign, he was complicit in the theft of the election.)

Does our great experiment in democratic government deserve better than this unpleasant choice? Yes. But remember this, if the Cult formerly known as the Republican Party is allowed to regain national political dominance, well ... it is unthinkable ...

So let's get a few issues straight, up front --

It would be good to see Rahm Emmanuel resign; not for the disrespect he showed those he didn't intend to insult, but for the disrespect he showed those he did intend to insult. Arguably, he should never have been appointed to run the WH operation. Has his coziness with the corporate money behind the DLC blinded him to the grim realities of the Middle Class, the Working Poor and the Poorest of the Poor?

It would also be good to see Geithner and Summers resign. Arguably, they should never have been put in positions of federal authority in regard to the US financial system and economy. After all, aren't they among the architects of the very Wall Street boondoogles responsible for the financial crisis that they are now charged with preventing in the future?

But don't hold your breath waiting for any of these resignations. They are not forth-coming. The progressive movement will have to keep pushing against them and pulling on President Obama's better angels.

Of course, with the exception of Energy Secretary Chu and the Labor Secretary Solis, I was disappointed in almost all of Obama's Cabinet-level appointments; underwhelmed with most, and outright offended by a few.

For the last year, I have railed against the drip drip drip weakening of the healthcare reform legislation; I am a proponent of universal, single-payer healthcare for all (i.e., Medicare for Everybody), and have argued fiercely that a robust public option must be included in the current legislation.

On most other issues, from the Climate Crisis to the foolish military adventures in the deserts and mountains of the Middle East and Central Asia; I have called for far more urgent, forceful and uncompromising action to extricate us from the multi-layered predicaments in which we have been mired.

Perhaps my most ardent disagreement is with the refusal to pursue investigation of the Bush-Cheney regime for war crimes, war profiteering, and the politicization of the U.S. Justice Department.

But having stipulated all of the above, let me make this as plain and simple as I can --

Did you hear the seditious Beckwashed mob on the steps of the Capitol yesterday?

Demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol, angry over the proposed health care bill, shouted "nigger" Saturday at U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia congressman and civil rights icon who was nearly beaten to death during an Alabama march in the 1960s.
The protesters also shouted obscenities at other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, lawmakers said ... Protestors also used a slur as they confronted Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., an openly gay member of Congress. A writer for Huffington Post said the crowd called Frank a "faggot."
Racism, Homophobia Dominates Tea Party Protest Over Health Care Bill, McClatchy News, 3-21-10

Well, if you heard the Beckwashed mob, then you know the truth of this moment.

This is an ugly win, a dissatisfying win; but it is still a win -- for hope and change, not hope and change as quantified and qualified by Barack Obama, but hope and change as demanded by the compelling forward momentum of human history.

Savor this victory, despite its bitter taste; it is yours, not Rahm Emmanuel's.

Do not turn your back on the rabid cultural beast that has been turned loose among us.

Do not turn your back on those who game economic and environmental disaster at the expense of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" for all.

Here are some reasonable comments from two of the progressive movement's Designated Drivers on this wild ride:

Nothing that’s legislated is perfect and in my view the good that will come from passing health care legislation outweighs the bad, but be warned: the pending House bill (that will go to the Senate for a “reconciliation” vote) does not repeal the antitrust exemption for health insurers, nor does it contain a public insurance option. It thereby will allow health insurers to continue to consolidate into even larger entities, gain as much market power as they can, and charge ever higher prices. Yet Americans will be required to buy health insurance from them. Assuming the bill becomes law, this dissonance spells trouble. It will have to be addressed before 2014, when the bill takes effect. Robert Reich, A Worried Postscript to the House Health Care Bill, 3-19-10

Actually, the proposed reform does more to control health care costs than any previous legislation, paying for expanded coverage by reducing the rate at which Medicare costs will grow, substantially improving Medicare’s long-run financing along the way. And this combination of broader coverage and cost control is no accident: It has long been clear to health-policy experts that these concerns go hand in hand. The United States is the only advanced nation without universal health care, and it also has by far the world’s highest health care costs.
Can you imagine a better reform? Sure. If Harry Truman had managed to add health care to Social Security back in 1947, we’d have a better, cheaper system than the one whose fate now hangs in the balance. But an ideal plan isn’t on the table. And what is on the table, ready to go, is legislation that is fiscally responsible, takes major steps toward dealing with rising health care costs, and would make us a better, fairer, more decent nation.
Paul Krugman, Why We Reform, 3-19-10

Support Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) and his six bills to Save Democracy.

Stand with Howard Dean on the struggle to deliver meaningful healthcare reform.

Richard Power's True North on the Pathless Path: Toward 21st Century Spirituality is available from

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available from

Paul Krugman, Healthcare, ,