Category Archives: Crony Casino Capitalism

MidTerms 2010: The Deluge, The Delusions, And How To Invent The American Left

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Well…it was as bad as expected.

67 House seats and control of the House lost for the Dems…say hello to Speaker John Boehner.

6 Senate seats lost, but thanks to the overreach and the stupidity of some Tea Party/Republican nominees like Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, and a few others, the Dems barely retain control of the Senate…at least, formally.

Some decent progressives gpt run….Grayson (FL), Conroy (OH), Perriello (VA), and Murphy (PA) in the House, Feingold (WI) in the Senate.

The Blue Dogs mostly got waxed but good:  41 lost their seats.

The Dems lost big in most states (California excepted): 8 governorships lost, total wipeouts in Wisconsin and North Corlina, where Repubs now control the governorships and both houses of their state legislatures.

Rubio beat Crist/Meek in FL; Toomey beat Seestak in PA; Lincoln lost in AR. President Obama’s old Senate seat flipped to Repub, too.

Alaska is still up in the air, though…and probably will be for days if not weeks.

But, all in all, a devastating night for Democrats, if not catastrophic. And, a disaster for progressives/liberals.

So….what happened??

Simply put: the Right showed up, the Left didn’t, and the Center broke late with the Right.

Mostly, it was the activism and big bucks of the Tea Party, reinforced with the anger and rage of the usual right-wing suspects that have been gunnning after Obama and the Democrats since time immortal, motivating their peeps to go out and vote.

And, just as mostly, it was the pitiful and shameful treatement of the thie own most fervent suppoeters by the Democrats, as well as the tepid efforts ad addressing their basic giievances and insulting and degrading treatment by the Democratss, that contributed to their demise.

When you promise to do one thing and don’t deliver, you desereve to get beat. When you promise radical “change” and then promptly don’t change a thing, and in fact simply replicate and even extend the very things you promise to change…well, then you deserve to get not only beat, but beat down.

And that, in a nutshell, is what happened to the Democrats yesterday.

You don’t promise to reverse 8 years of past Republican policy, then promptly give the perpetrators of that policy carte balance to sey your own policy.

You don’t promise progressive reform of health care, but then reject the most common sense progressive model (comprehensive universal single payer) in favor of a convoluted, confusing, and ultimately woefully inadequate “forced mandate” for people to be coerced to buy private insurance that falls short of even the most basic needs.

You don’t come to power promising to end your opponent’s endless wars, then promptly move to extend them and even increase funding commitments for said wars.

You don’t go into negotiations trying to make nice with an advesary who wants to basically kill you, who thinks that you are at your core illegitimate, unfit, and even an “alien” ruler contaminating “their” White House.

But most of all…you don’t take the very voters who put you in power and basically and continually take proverbial dumps on them by neglecting their core issues, and then expect them to totally love you for the crumbs of corn located within that mountain of crap….all because the other side has gone totally loony batshit mad and fascist.

Unfortunately, that has been the Democratic Party’s modus operandi for the past 40 years: use progressives and liberals as stepping stones to power, only to abandon them when they get power to serve their real masters (the corporate/industrial complex) and pander to virtually the same conservative/right-wing base as the Republicans.

It was the way for the presidency of Bill Clinton in 1992: fake Left with promises of lifting prohibitions ogainst gays in the military along with “managed care reform”; only to switch gears towards “welfare reform” and other means of punishing thei supporters after the Newt Gingrich-led Class of 1994 took over.

Very fortunately for Bubba and Hillary, the Repubs back then overextended themselves on impeachment, and the Clintons were able to react and respond.

Problem is, though, Clinton had a booming economy, a decent liberal base that stayed loyal in their masochistic way, and Newtie as an advesary.

The curent president may still have the Senate behind him, but his situation may be much worse…and so are the progressives.

For one thing, the lunatic fronge of the Grand Old Tea Party will be raking every leaf for anything they can use to smear Obama with. Already, there is talk of inventing some ground for impeachment (a purported deal with Seestak to have him drop out of the Pennsylvania Senate race and grease the weel for former GOP gadfly Arlen Specter; or some new invention of “Birtherism”, or the “selling” of Obama’s former Illinois Senate seat..or whatever they can invent). Their best interest os to simply obstruct and veto and block anything Prez O attempts, unless he completely surrenders to right-wing dogma..and even then their eternal hatred would probably win out.

Secondly…the usual forces of elite neo-reaction within the Democratic Party are already on the case, milking the Beltway media with the time-honored “Third Way”/Democratic Leadership Coucil meme that this election proves that liberalism is a dead ender and that the Dems must throw liberals and progressives under the bus (even more than they already have) and adopt to the new “center”, which translates into moving even further to the Right than ever while supposedly “isolating” the GOP to their Teabagger anchor.

Obviously, progrsives and liberals within the Democratic Party think otherwise…but with no power whatsoever to enact any means of resistance, and the cross of ridicule from the Dem establishment, it would be very difficult for them to overcome their disadvantages in the face of the Village Media consensus….not to mention the overwhelming power of the right-wing propaganda machine.

And then, there is the new factor of unaccountable campaign spending by the wealthy, librated thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision throwing out campaign spending limits and allowing corporations and wealthy individuals a virtual free reign to buy themselves elections. Since wealthy folk tend to be way more conservative and even right-wing, you can probably figure for yourself the outcome.

Of course, having lots of cash doesn’t insure victory….ask Carly Fiona or Meg Whitman. But, when strategically used in “swing districts” where the Tea Party and the GOP Right (redundacy intended) are already locally strong and organized, the streams of cash spent on attack ads can be a difference maker.

Such is the climate we are now in. The issue is now: How should the Left respond??

I have my own opinions, of course.

Those who say that we should stay in the party and simply use “netroot” and local power to support “more and better Democrats”, in my view, are jsut shuffling chairs on the Titanic. The “netroots” have been found to have simply no power or even so much a pinprick of an impact on Democratic strategy or policy…in fact, most of the netroots’ favorites went down in flames when faced with the organized power of the Teabaggers and the dismissiveness and abandonment of the Democrats.

And considering the emerging consensus brewing among establishment Democrats and implicitly endorsed by Obama himself, the progressives will simply face an even more frosty reception, if not total abandonment and extention. The main goal of today’s Democrats are to remodel themselves to the center-right and pick off “moderate” conservative Republicans and White middle-class  “Reagan Democrats” as their new base, and liberals and progressives are simply cannon fodder. “Don’t fear the Left, for they have no place to go…and if they protest, let ‘em have President Palin” is the prevailing view of most elite Dems, and they are most protected by privilege and financial contributions from any accountability.

Meanwhile…the establishment Republicans will continue to mine the Tea Party/”Old” New Right themes and myopias — also fueled with a fresh plowing of anti-Black racism, homophobia, antifeminism, xenophobia, and White nationalism — as a crutch to mask their main campaign of rampant unregulation and removing any fetters or constraints on capital accumulation and exploitation of resources and people. The “free market”, “personal responsibility”, and “less government” themes are simply ruses to cover the ultimate assault on the very notion of using the power of the federal government to attack economic and social inequality; and insted usher in the authoritarian state that uses religion, advertising, and state control to freeze out dissenters.  Of course, the hard Right is also fond of using private militias and lone wolf assassins to target those they feel threaten their “way of life”, too….but as or right now, even mainstream right-wingers do go that far.  At least…not yet.

So…we have one conservative happy face party masquarading as “liberal” (the Democrats), and one absolutely fascist, kooky-eyed, mostly White nationalist party masquarading as “conservative” (the Repiblicans).  And, then there is the splintered Tea Party, who could potentially act as a spoiler role in both parties…indeed, there have been threats of Teabaggers going to an independent party if the Republicans don’t cater fully to their demands,  Some may even attempt to outflank the GOP as Democrats, especially in the South and rural Midwest.

There is a huge vaccum thus emerging on the Left, and one that traditional Democratic liberalsm simply isn’t capable of exploiting because they are so sold all in on the Democrats and Obama.

Now, there are the PUMA’s who say that only Hillary Clinton can save the day for the Democrats, and that the fault lies totally with Obama who, they say, bamboozled and grifted his way to the 2008 nomination to begin with. Problem with that illogic is, that assumes that Hillary is a true progressive, not the corporatist, DLC clone copy of her husband who was willing to play several race cards against Obama herself, while playing a “populist” in the process. And, it’s far more likely that Hillary will be recruited by Obama and the Democrats to rescue him from his debacles via a Obama-Clinton ticket in 2012, once they get Joe Biden out of the way, that is.  Then again, many of those PUMA’s most willing to promote Hillary are generally the same ones who also say that Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle are just “conservative feminists” who are victims of rampant “male liberal” sexism.

My sentiments, though, are much more with the more institutional critiques of Obama and the Democrats as merely one wing of the corporate system, and the belief that the Democrats are basically sold out as a tool of progressive change. My belief is the same I haave held for the past 25 years since I first abandoned the Democratic Party: that only an independent, popularly rooted, populist/democratic Left dedicated to challenging the roots of institutional as well as physical injustice and inequality will be capable of confronting both the Teabagger Right AND the Democraiic “Center”.

What kind of a program would that be, and how does it compare to other Left proposals theough the recent times?? That’ll have to wait until a future post. Stay close….

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The Audacity of Betrayal: Barack Obama, Joe Lieberman, The Dimocrats, and Health Care Reform’s Downfall

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Once again, I have to emerge from the basement after a brief absence to post something.  Sorry about that, folks…a bit of poster’s block.

But, once again, I have to emerge to say the same four words that, unfortunately, have to be said about the entire health reform debacle now unfolding and unraveling:


I wish that I wasn’t so correct, but I’ve been saying all along that the Democrats (or, as I now refer to them, the Dimocrats) would snatch defeat from not only the jaws of victory, but the upper colon of victory by caving in to Big Business and Big Insura.

I called it correctly the minute that President Obama came out so strongly in support of Holy Joe Lieberman to keep his Democratic Caucus membership and his Homeland Committee chairmanship, even after he actively campaigned against Obama in favor of his Republican opponent (and nearly became the Republican VP nominee at John McCain’s behalf, only to be stymied by the Repub base in favor of Princess Sarah of Wassilla).

It only reenforced my prediction when Obama came out and made that deal with Billy Tauzin and the Big Pharma/Big Insura lobbyists to not require negotiation with pharmaceuticals at Medicare rates (or even Medicare + 5% rates), but rather reimburse rural doctors at “market costs”.

And, of course, every statement about how Obama would give “progressives” the option of the “public option” was followed by actions which directly underminded those statements and assured the ConservaDems in the Senate (Baucus, Bayh, Conrad, Landrieu, and Nelson, among others) to gut the PO that much more into a useless hollow shell.

And yet….even that wasn’t good enough for Holy Joe, who simply used the rope that was given him by Obama and Harry Reid to hang progressives over the cliff.

The expected and typical response of the A-list liberal blogosphere to the news that the “public option” was officially dead and the “Medicare buy-in” that would have served as the placebo to soothe their wounds won’t be offered either, was generally in the range from denial (“Write your congressman and MAKE them pass a REAL public option!!” screeched to anger at the ConservaDems and especially Lieberman for playing the Kingmaker (“Strip his ass of his committee chairmanships and boot him out of the Democratic Caucus!!!”).

But, perhaps all this was just smoke and mirrors to hide one haunting fact: this bill is EXACTLY what the Dems and Obama wanted in the first place.

And, that they were intent on first playing and then dumping the progressives all along with the “public option” myth.

I’ll just let Glenn Greenwald of tell the sorry tale , since he does it better than I ever could:

Of all the posts I wrote this year, the one that produced the most vociferious email backlash — easily — was this one from August , which examined substantial evidence showing that, contrary to Obama’s occasional public statements in support of a public option, the White House clearly intended from the start that the final health care reform bill would contain no such provision and was actively and privately participating in efforts to shape a final bill without it.  From the start, assuaging the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries was a central preoccupation of the White House — hence the deal negotiated in strict secrecy with Pharma to ban bulk price negotiations and drug reimportation, a blatant violation of both Obama’s campaign positions on those issues and his promise to conduct all negotiations out in the open (on C-SPAN) .  Indeed, Democrats led the way yesterday in killing drug re-importation , which they endlessly claimed to support back when they couldn’t pass it.  The administration wants not only to prevent industry money from funding an anti-health-care-reform campaign, but also wants to ensure that the Democratic Party — rather than the GOP – will continue to be the prime recipient of industry largesse.

As was painfully predictable all along, the final bill will not have any form of public option, nor will it include the wildly popular expansion of Medicare coverage.  Obama supporters are eager to depict the White House as nothing more than a helpless victim in all of this — the President so deeply wanted a more progressive bill but was sadly thwarted in his noble efforts by those inhumane, corrupt Congressional “centrists.”  Right.  The evidence was overwhelming from the start that the White House was not only indifferent, but opposed, to the provisions most important to progressives.  The administration is getting the bill which they, more or less, wanted from the start — the one that is a huge boon to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industry. And kudos to Russ Feingold for saying so :

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), among the most vocal supporters of the public option, said it would be unfair to blame Lieberman for its apparent demise. Feingold said that responsibility ultimately rests with President Barack Obama and he could have insisted on a higher standard for the legislation.

This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place , so I don’t think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth,” said Feingold. “I think they could have been higher. I certainly think a stronger bill would have been better in every respect.”

Let’s repeat that:  “This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place.”  Indeed it does.  There are rational, practical reasons why that might be so. If you’re interested in preserving and expanding political power, then, all other things being equal, it’s better to have the pharmaceutical and health insurance industry on your side than opposed to you. Or perhaps they calculated from the start that this was the best bill they could get.  The wisdom of that rationale can be debated, but depicting Obama as the impotent progressive victim here of recalcitrant, corrupt centrists is really too much to bear.

Or, to put it another way: Democrats punk the Left….AGAIN. As they always have. As they always will.

Did you really think that an adminstration with attitudes like this would actually pass meaningful progressive reform??

“I don’t understand why the left of the left has decided that this is their Waterloo,” said a senior White House adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We’ve gotten to this point where health care on the left is determined by the breadth of the public option. I don’t understand how that has become the measure of whether what we achieve is health-care reform.” — quoted from a Washington Post 8/19/09 article , via Greenwald

Not just “the left”, mind you…but “the left of the left”…as if actually providing decent health care to everyone and removing the incentives for price gouging from private insurance was nothing less than a Communist/Socialist plot to undermine Americanism. And remember, this isn’t a Teabagger saying this, but a top Obama admin spokesperson (maybe even Rahm Emmanuel in abstensia).

And as for the silly notion that Lieberman will be punished for his treachery in opposing his own caucus on HCR:  Oh, silly people, don’t you ever learn?? Punishment doesn’t apply to conservative/”centrist”/right-wing Democrats, they just do whatever the hell they want. If there is any retribution that will be wielded out in this debate, it will come from the White House….against the progressive Democrats who attempt to maintain what’s left of their shattered principles and oppose this mountain of crap disguised as Health Care Reform. That’s how it always is in the House of Representatives…the liberals get rolled, and then they get rolled again, and then they are threatened with loss of privileges and pork if they resist their geting rolled. Again, I quote Greenwald:

Indeed, we’ve seen before what the White House can do — and does do — when they actually care about pressuring members of Congress to support something they genuinely want passed.  When FDL and other liberal blogs led an effort to defeat Obama’s war funding bill back in June, the White House became desperate for votes, and here is what they apparently did (though they deny it):

The White House is playing hardball with Democrats who intend to vote against the supplemental war spending bill, threatening freshmen who oppose it that they won’t get help with reelection and will be cut off from the White House, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said Friday.  “We’re not going to help you. You’ll never hear from us again,” Woolsey said the White House is telling freshmen.

That’s what the White House can do when they actually care about pressuring someone to vote the way they want.  Why didn’t they do any of that to the “centrists” who were supposedly obstructing what they wanted on health care?  Why didn’t they tell Blanche Lincoln — in a desperate fight for her political life — that she would “never hear from them again,” and would lose DNC and other Democratic institutional support, if she filibustered the public option?  Why haven’t they threatened to remove Joe Lieberman’s cherished Homeland Security Chairmanship if he’s been sabotaging the President’s agenda?  Why hasn’t the President been rhetorically pressuring Senators to support the public option and Medicare buy-in, or taking any of the other steps outlined here by Adam Green?  There’s no guarantee that it would have worked – Obama is not omnipotent and he can’t always control Congressional outcomes — but the lack of any such efforts is extremely telling about what the White House really wanted here.

And also remember that Obama backed Blue Dog conservative Democrats over the more progressive Dems even when the progressive Dems were more popular (as in the case with congressional districts in Georgia and Louisiana).

So…the $64 question is now: What should we do now?? Should we accept whe inevitable giveaway bailout bill that will result as merely a tiny step forward in health care reform?? Or…should progs move to kill the whole process and start from scratch??

Before today, my opinion was unabashedly in the “Kill this Bill!!!!” group, with the caveat to start over next year with single payer and national health service as the foundation for a new effort. Having seen the handwriting on the wall and the total inability of the Dimocrats to even unite in shared fear over not passing health care, or to rush to pass whatever crap sandwich counts for “reform” however, my opinion has changed to the “Whatever” category.

More than likely, the Senate bill will become the main bill (especially if rumors are true that Obama will force the House to accept the Senate version with an up-or-down vote without any conference committee to intervene, and if the Senate buzzards are allowed to fly in and include ever worse amendments, such as a stricter anti-abortion requirement or a residency requirement for involvement in the “exchanges”, or more pork funding for “faith based initiatives’ or other forms of right-wing social engineering, designed to get the ConservaDems and “moderate” Reps like Snowe and Collins online). Then Obama will do as he did yesterday and officially endose the process, and then he and Rahm will lean heavily on the liberals to either shut the hell up and get in line behind “the best chance of passing meaningful health care reform” or oppose th entire bill on principle and risk getting the full wrath of the Village media for torpedoing HCR through their “left of the left” extremism and their “Cheetos and pajamas-wearing” blog overenthusiasm. The threat of the loss of money for reelection and pork projects should be enough to keep enough of them in line for this monstrosity to finally pass.

The Prez gets his Christmas Eve Rose Garden signing ceremony with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid on hand holding back crocodile tears of joy; Big Insura and Big Business get to chink their champagne glasses in dodging a political nuke and scoring a huge payday of coerced customers to fleece even more….and the Left and regular folks are once again left to sputter and ponder what the hell just happened.

And…everyone gets to prepare for an even bigger swindle and heist upcoming for 2011 or so….this time, of Social Security and Medicare on behalf of Big Business in the name of “deficit reduction”.

Change you can believe in…mighty grand, isn’t it??

And you wonder why I voted for Cynthia McKinney and the Greens in 2008??

And yeah, I shed a tear or two when Obama was announced the winner, because it’s still nice to have a person of color in charge, and because even a puppet would be better than having Dubya and the GOP for another term, heaven forbid having Quitter Spice and JohnnyMac anywhere near The Button. And HELL TO THE NO, I will never say that having Princess Sarah in the White House would be an improvement in any way. Problem is, though, that with the way that the Dims are tacking pretty far to the Right and pissing away their base, it might not even matter much anymore; the Teabaggers and Birthers may just win things by default.

All the more reason why an independent Left party and an autonomous Left of center popular movement is so sorely needed in this country right about now. The Dimocrats have basically shot their wads into the eyes of progressive Americans and shown themselves for the craven fools and liars they have always been. If there ever was an oppurtunity for a real hero to emerge to bust out of the Dimocrat ghetto and launch a true freedom movement, why not now…and why not you?? Hell, if the freakin’ New Orleans Saints have the oppurtunity to go unbeaten and win the Super Bowl, then anything can and will happen, right??

So…Who Dat say they gonna step up to the mic and lead the Next Left??  McKinney?? Kucinich?? Nader?? Conyers?? Sanders??.Anyone?? Who Dat???

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The New “Public Option”….Not So Public, And (Now) Not An Option, Either (Or, Democrat Sellout #4,245)

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Right about now, there is much glee among some in the Liberal A-List Blogosphere about the recent announcement by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he will send to the Senate floor a health care reform package containing the mystical “public option” that is such the rage with some  liberal activists.

The fact that such a “public option” won’t be so public (since it will be mostly subcontracted private health care agencies who will create and run the “public” program much like just another form of Medicare Advantage); won’t kick in at the least until 2013 (more than enough time for a more conservative Congress to repeal it), and won’t even cover half of the people who need it most due to the “opt-out” clause for states included in the proposal….those inconvenient facts didn’t get in the way of the celebration in some liberal quarters that they were finally getting the health care reform they wished for.

In any rate, all this just became a moot point…because it looks like all this will be blocked by just enough Senators to sustain a filibuster.

While it takes just a majority vote (50 + Vice President Biden) to pass legislation, it still takes 60 votes to end cloture against a filibustering Senator….and right now, there are 39 assured Republican votes to sustain any filibuster against any HCR bill including a “public option”. And now, guess which “Democrat” has now signed up with the Repubs??

Yup…that would be Connecticut Senator “Holy Joe” Lieberman, according to sources from MSNBC. (And now confirmed via The Hill and Crooks and Liars ).

Well, actually, he’s not officially a “Democrat”, since he was actually voted out of his Senate seat by Democrats there…but that didn’t stop Dems from inviting him back into their caucus.  And this is how he repays them??

Now, all the Reps need is to keep Maine Senator Olympia Snowe home, or get one more ConservaDem Senator (probably either Mary Landrieu of Louisiana or Ben Nelson of Nebraska) to commit to keeping a filibuster, and the “public option” is officially dead.  Considering that both Snowe and Nelson have openly said that they are opposed to any “public option” other than one that is “triggered” in long into the future (and Nelson and Landrieu have even opposed that publically), I’d say that that is a certain lock…..unless Hart Hat Harry can pull a surprise and twist their arms a bit.

If that happens, then I suspect that we are back to this scenario for the solution to the health care debacle:

The Senate falls back on the bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee…basically, the Baucus/Snowe Big Insura Bailout with no employer mandate, a huge individual mandate to either buy up private insurance or get seriously fined (or even go to jail), a huge tax on “Cadillac” plans and cuts in average folks’ Medicare and Medicaid, and either a very weak or barely visible “triggered” public option….if at all.

Prez Obama then goes to Nancy Pelosi and the House of Representatives and says to them: “Thanks for all your efforts in attempting to get a real “public option” passed, but the Senate has spoken, and now it’s time to end the debate and rally around the best bill we can pass. Unite behind me, Dems…this is all the change I can give you”

The more openly progressive members of the House are enraged, saying that this is straight out bullshit, and that their constituencies will NEVER accept this “shit sandwich” of shoveling funds from consumers to the very health care agencies who are jacking up prices and causing the crisis in the first place. They threaten a revolt, promising to defeat any legislation short of a “robust public option” that guarantees a “real alternative” in holding doen health care costs.

(Of course, the ultimate solution that WOULD do just that — a universal, single-payer plan that would simply replace the price gougers with a publically accountable system that guaranteed decent care for everyone regardless of state or status, remains off the table and beyond the pale…the majority of the country at large supporting it nevertheless.)

Then, here comes WH Chief of Staff and former Congressional Commisar Rahm Emanuel with the hammer to be knocked on the head of the “progressives”: “Look, losers…you don’t have the fucking votes to win, but we do.  Either shut the fuck up and support your President and settle for the reform that you have, and be grateful for that…or we can find a way to blame you dirty fucking hippie “Left of the Leftists” for destroying the best chance of HCR we have. We don’t need you to win in 2010 or 2012..and even if we did, do you want the Palin/Bachmann/Limbaugh GOP to win?? Oh, and be careful for that committee chairmanship or your funds for 2010 reelection or that appropriation for your favorite earmark….that can disapear really quick, if you catch my drift.”

Of course, while there will be more than the usual gnashing of teeth and open growsing from “the Left”, most Dems will back down like they normally do, and enough will support Obama/Reid/Baucus/Snowe/Ross to allow it to get through Congress by the obligatory 218-217 margin in House and 57-43 margin in the Senate (after Snowe tearfully votes to bust the GOP filibuster).

Obama gets his signing ceremony right before Chirstmas, and gets hailed by everyone for pulling off the impossible…and then promptly goes Clintonite for the usual DLC “trangulation” policy in support of the “moderate” ConservaDems/Blue Dogs against his more “progressive” flank.

The progressives, defeated and distraught over getting punked again, either withdraw from the political scene or adjust their policies to fit the new Bubba Obama strategy.

Meanwhile, once the actual “reform” details start to kick in, and people actually see what was passed as opposed to what was promised, great anger in the public ensues.

The anger plays right into the hands of the Teabagger/Beckian/Limbaughian Right and the now totally distilled GOP, who can now say that Obama’s policies are an abrupt failure and that this proves that we have to get back to the glory days of Reagan/Bush and “less government”/no taxes/no regulation (the results of such policies during the Dubya Bush years notwithstanding).

The Dems get rolled in the 2010 midterms, with the Reps gaining enough House and Senate seats to become a player again (though, due to demographics and local conditions, not enough seats to actually win outright majorities).

The Dems respond by moving even further to the Right in the classic attempt to win back the “moderates” who abandoned them, while continuing to attempt to isolate the Repubs as wingnutters, Birchers, Birthers, and Teabaggers.

The Left, of course, gets even more ignored and isolated, caught between the loss of power and the “lesser evil logic” of voting Democrat to keep Caribou Quitter and the Bachmann-Vitter Overdrive from gaining exclusive power again.

There are two ultimate solutions to this scenario:

Either the Left retreats from political action and allows Obama to reorganize the Democratic Party around center-right pillars; thusly either ensuring a weak Democratic consensus or a dramatic GOP comeback (based on whether the public polls about how unpopular and overreaching the Repubs have been in embracing the Wingnut Right are indeed true).

Or….the Left finally gets the light bulb screwed on enough to understand that the Dem “leadership” is using and abusing them, and pulls out in time to build an independent movement and even a third party dedicated to their needs and their constiuents.

A grass roots movement based on Left populist anger against Wall Street and for affirmative public solutions like single payer “Medicare for All”  health care, investment in public infrastructure, public education; overall debt relief and amnesty, and a public works program not controlled by the corporate interests, could very well reap huge benefits right about now. It wouldn’t hurt to protest the dominant hold of the military budget, demand a return of progressive tax reform built on the old concept of “abiity to pay” and repealing all the regressive tax policies of the past 30 or so years; and restore the basic philosophy of individual equality and self-autonomy tempered by equal rights and collective responsibility.

Maybe we can get something out of this debacle, if we really try.

BTW…Kip Sullivan over at the Physicians for a National Health Program website ( has done a superhuman job of revealing all the flaws of both foundation and execution of the “public option”, and how it would have been so much better to stick with a single payer plan from the beginning. His seminal essay on how the “public option” was originally conceived and how it evolved into the clusterfuck it is now (and how it too is now being abandoned for business as usual) appears here ; it is worth a read.

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The Health Care Debacle: From Obama’s Speech To “Big Lie” Wilson To “Mad Tax” Max’s Fallacy

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So sorry for not posting enough of late….real life kinda took precedent for a while.

The continuing soap opera known as Health Care Reform sure took some twists and turns in the past couple of weeks, ehhh??

First, you had Prez O’s speech to the joint session of Congress, in which he kinda, sorta, in an offhandish way gave his support to the notion of adding a strong “public option” government alternative to the overall health care bill…even as the Repubs were uniting in total opposition to the same. Of course, Obama’s actual position seems to be that as long as he actually gets a bill to his desk for signature that contains some aspect of reform, with or without a public option, it would do well enough.

That’s probably not quite good enough for most of the Progressive Dems, who are actually developing something resembling a spine and holding out for something stronger. (Though, of course, not nearly as strong as single payer, which still remains the best solution…and probably the least likely, given the political dynamics.)

At first, the idea was to softly let the Progs down to the “realistic” position that only co-ops would be acceptable enough to beat back the opposition of the Repubs and the filibuster efforts of the Repubs and ConservaDems.

All that changed with two words:  “You LIE!!!!”

When South Carolina Rep. Addison “Joe” Wilson (former aide to the now departed Strom Thurmond) decided to blast out those words in the middle of Prez O’s speech, in reaction to the claim that the health care bill would not provide any funding or support for “illegal aliens” (wingnut speech for any poor Latin@ too unfortunate to be given actual citizenship) , he bascially revealed the basic undercurrent of right-wing opposition to not only HCR, but to Obama himself……a fact not lost on the fringe elements of the Hard Right who are now deifying Wilson as their martyr/hero. Or the mass Teabaggers (all 2 million 200,000 of ‘em) who packed the Mall of Washington, DC, for the “9/12 Festival” (Sponsored by FOX News Channel and a Host of Right-Wing Astroturfers/Birthers/Deathers/Bad Spellers).

Wilson, after the perfuntory “apology” for violating House decorum rules with his outburst, is now hanging firm on his Big Lie, as well as trolling for dollars in the usual wingnut fashion, casting himself as a truthseeking victim of “liberal” McCarthyism. Never mind that much of his bluster has been proven to be more wrong than Kanye West’s bumrush of Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards the subsequent weekend; sober reflection has never been a major characteristic of most whackoid Rightists.

Then again, who am I to put him down…when others can do so so much better. That’s why Keith Olbermann gets the big bucks.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann (MSNBC): 9/15/09 “Special Comment” regarding South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson’s outburst at President Obama’s joint speech to Congress (via YouTube )

Meanwhile, back at the Beltway Ranch, Senator Max Baucus (MT) and the rivaled Senate “Gang of Six” finally released their version of The Centrist Guide to Health Care Reform…and as is the usual case with those who wish to stand in the middle of the road; it turns out to be flatter and deader than an armadillo.

The main highlights: No public option, but a direct mandate requiring people to buy private insurance under threat of fine, with increased Medicaid subsidies and tax credits for the poorest workers (but NO coverage for non-employed or undocumented immigrants); and a right off the top 13% tax on middle income insurance benefactors on top of continuing copays and deductibles; repealing the use of “pre-existing conditions” to deny coverage (but without any means of enforcing that provision), and allowing Big Insura to continue to discriminate in premiums against older and sicker people by requiring them to pay higher premiums and delaying their receipt of benefits for six months.

And yet…even that “compromise” wasn’t good enough for the Repub members of the “Gang of Six”, who still complained about how the bill “spent too much” and didn’t cut costs for “people with insurance”….and still had too much “big government” even with a non-governmental co-op replacing the “public option”.

And, it didn’t spare too well with Democrats, either, who insist on having a strong public option to bring down costs.

Big Insura, though, was tickled pink at the instant bailout; their stocks rallied right after Baucus released his bill to the public.

The only thing that is holding this nonsense up is that it is the “centrist” fallback bill designed to get Senator Olympia Snowe’s vote and beat back whatever filibuster could occur in the Senate. Snowe’s vote is now the swinger until Ted Kennedy’s former Massachusetts seat is filled.

Personally, I’d rather that no bill pass than the “Mad Max” monstrosity….or at least, the progressives hold out and vote against anything that doesn’t have a super strong public option that really does keep the private companies honest.  Actually, I’d rather that they torch the whole damn system and enact single payer universal health care backed by a national health service similar to what Britain or Canada has…but that’s beyond the pale of even most prog Democrats, who are too bound to the corporate trough.

Again, KO has the goods and says it better than I ever could.

Oh, but this just in…Rachel Maddow FTMF’nW. You can’t get much deeper than to interview THE ACTUAL FREAKIN’ BILL! And, Anthony Weiner as an actual Democrat who CARES about his citizens??? More of this, please!!!

The Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC): 9/19/09 segment featuring an “interview” with the actual “health care reform bill” (Schoolhouse Rock style), and Congressman Anthony Weiner (NY Dem) on the Baucus Senate health care bill (via YouTube )

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When “Good As It Gets” Just Isn’t Good Enough: The Democrats, Health Care, And The Repudiation of Single Payer

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Remember when I had pontificated about what I thought the Democrats would do when they got power?? How rather than use their supermajority to actually effect the kind of progressive change that was promised, they would go into their typical ostrich stance and play to the dead “center” of their corporate allies??

Well….guess what is happening with the health care debate now ongoing?? Yup…a repeat of all the mistakes of the Bill/Hillary Clinton era, raised to a magnitude by our Chrismatic Chosen One.

Don’t get me wrong….Prez O is still worlds beyond Dubya, and the Repubs are still circulating the tank as they split wide open between the WSJ/Boss Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan/Sarah Pali/Teabagger wings of wingnuttery…but if the trademark health care bill that is now about to hit Congress is of any worth, then rumors of the death of the Right might be a bit premature.  Especially when Democrats hand them the lifeline themselves.

I’ll just let Lambert over at Corrente provide the talking points as to why the House Dem health care plan (HR 3200) simply sucks rotten eggs:

1. 10 million people will not be covered . That’s not universal coverage.

2. Only 9 million people will be in public option by 2019. That’s not enough to keep the insurance companies honest (if that were even possible).

3. Public option does not begin until 2013 . That’s not “from Day One.”

4. Public option is means-tested and fire-walled , so even if you don’t like your insurance, you could still be forced to keep it.

5. The bills now have HMO-style care controls , supposedly as a cost control device. These were tried in the 80s, and didn’t work. Remember Helen Hunt in “As Good As It Gets”? The audiences cheered. And for good reason.

6. There is no effective appeals mechanism. The three ombudsmen in the House bill do not have conflict resolution authority , as ombudsmen typically do.

7. You could be forced to buy junk insurance. If the minimum standards for coverage are set too low (which the insurance companies will do everything they can to make happen) and the subsidies for public option are chipped away at (and since they’re framed as welfare, they will be), you could end up paying for insurance and still not getting care. Right now, you pay nothing and get nothing. That’s better than paying, and still getting nothing.

8. The entire plan is complex, untested, and unproven. In fact, the Democrats are performing a large experiment on the health of the American people without their informed consent. In medicine, that’s unethical.

9. Contrary to the assertions of some advocates, the public option will not evolve into single payer . HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius has said that the legislation will be crafted to avoid this ; Obama now agrees (as opposed to the Obama of 2003 , of course).

10. All these factors taken together might explain why Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi calls her own plan the “next best” solution for health care reform after single payer .

Don’t the American people deserve the best health care system, and not the second best one ? Not only will single payer save 18,000 lives a year , it will save $350 billion a year , at least.

Basically, what we are getting right now is a nationalized version of Romney/Kennedy MassCare 2.0, where you will be required to purchase private insurance with little or no accountability, where you won’t even be able to even taste public option until 2013, where you can be means-tested and firewalled out of public insurance even it’s more affordable to you than private insurance, and where Medicaid becomes essentially another form of welfare rather than a universal program.  And it still falls short of universal by nearly 9 million people.

And all this BEFORE the ConservaDems in the Senate get their hatchets on it.

I’m so sure, though, that having sold his base out — AGAIN — to the corporate interests, while expending so much political capital to push this plan as the cornerstone of his Presidency, Prez O will apply what ever pressure is needed to ramrod this package through.  Too bad, it will be mostly pressure on the Left to cave in to this nonsense.

I’m just as sure that just as the defeat of HillaryCare in 1993 laid the path to the Republican takeover in 1994 (though NAFTA and the 1993 Crime Bill and the House Post Office scandal did more than their share as well); this failure to take on the Establishment and pass a genuine health care reform package will come back to haunt Democrats BIG TIME.

But then again, maybe it doesn’t really matter much, since Obama and the Democrats are simply too behoven to corporate interests and “centrist” Villager rhetoric and vision to actively support real change. Maybe it was all just a stunt to defeat Bush….while continuing his policies with a nicer patina on the outside.

And, considering Obama’s propensities for talking liberal while governing center-right (and even in some occasions, parroting the Far Right), progressives and liberals who backed him do have the right to feel like they’ve been had.

The rest of us on the “Far, Far, Far Left”, who saw this coming a long time ago and abandoned the rotting Dem ship before the iceberg hit, can only say “We told you so.”

If you want single payer or an end to endless war or real and effective economic equality, you might want to reconsider your support of the Democrats right about now. Hiring conservatives to effect progressive change hasn’t worked in the past, and most definitely won’t work today.

And no…Hillary won’t save you, either; she’s just another coin in the same rotted piggybank.

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KO’s Memo To Greedy Capitalists: ENOUGH!!!

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Gee…isn’t “the free market” a wonderful thing to behold???

Only in American capitalism can a major insurance company who gets BILLIONS of $$$$ in relief from the government to keep their company afloat from their own mistakes and financial gangsterism come back and pay off the very executives of that company who did the most to drive them into the ground to begin with with fat $189 MILLION bonuses….errrrrrrrrrrrr, sorry, “deferred payments”….and then allow them to walk away.  And then file suit AGAINST the very government who is keeping their asses afloat to retain these fat-ass bonuses….and the back taxes they paid out to the government from writing off all those losses that the government — that means US TAXPAYERS, Clones — are paying them.  Not to mention they using the same money they got from US to fund all sorts of political campaigns to deny the rest of us the same welfare that they are enjoying.

Mad enough already???  Big and bad enough??

Here’s an idea: Nationalize their asses. Make them open up their books and expose the whole Ponzi scheme.  And then SOCIALIZE them or break them up to serve regular folk’s interests and the public trust. And put the criminals in jail where they belong.

Oh, and memo to Prez O: Get Gethner and Summers out of your head and follow the people who put you into office; all listening to Wall Street will do for you is to make you a one-termer. We didn’t kick Bush out just to get Bush-Lite, you know.

If you need any further motivation for that, Mr. Prez…..Keith Olbermann has all you need.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann (MSNBC): 3/19/09 “Special Comment” on bad bank behavior and what they can do to ward off the angry mob (via YouTube )

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