Industry Rules

This is how things always work.  The industry interests which own and control our government always get their way.  When is the last time they didnt?  The “public option” was something that was designed to excite and placate progressives who gave up from the start on a single-payer approach — and the vast, vast majority of progressives all but the most loyal Obama supporters who are invested in this issue have been emphatic about how central a public option is to their support for health care reform.

But it seems clear that the White House and key Democrats were always planning on negotiating it away in exchange for industry support.  Isnt that how it always works in Washington?  No matter how many Democrats are elected, no matter which party controls the levers of government, the same set of narrow monied interests and right-wing values dictate outcomes, even if it means running roughshod over the interests of ordinary citizens securing lower costs and expanding coverage and/or what large majorities want.

Glenn Greenwald | Salon.com

Bring the Crazy…

In 45 years of watching presidents–Dad took me to see Lyndon zip by in a motorcade back in 64 — this is the first time I ever saw anyone anywhere near a presidential appearance who was packing and didnt have a badge. The general equanimity with which this was handled was flatly bizarre. More people got worked up by the faker in Missouri who sustained a vicious slip-and-fall and then an incomprehensible relapse the next day that put him in a wheelchair. Someone was at a presidential appearance with a gun. And he was proudly wearing it outside his pants, for all the honest world to see. RIP, Townes. Forget the president for a minute. What if this cluck decides that he doesnt much like the folks gathered there who are on the other side of the issue from him? This is the cult of the NRA gone completely insane. Why not just let folks bring their Legally Licensed Firearms into the congressional gallery while were at it? Or onto airplanes?

You couldnt get within two miles of the last guy if you had a placard reading, “We Think Your War Ill-Advised, Sir.” People got rousted at rallies for wearing uncomplimentary T-shirts. This happened to credentialed journalists at the Republican convention a year ago. But this guy gets to stand there, visibly strapped, and wave his sign about the tree of liberty and the blood of patriots, and people just take it all as business as usual. He even gets a spot on Hardball, during which he appears to want a gold star for not capping anyones ass while sounding like Jim The Cruise . I dont care what New Hampshire law says, this was nuts. And its a godawful precedent.

CHARLES PIERCE | Altercation

The Health Care Reform Debacle

Lets face the harsh reality — Obama has blown health care reform, big time. The opportunity of a lifetime has been squandered. The most recent revelations about backroom deals with Pharma and the other vendors of medical services drops the curtain on any hope of serious change in our costly and inefficient non-system. This is a painful admission to make. Not only does the country remain handicapped by grossly sub-par arrangements for health delivery, we also are burdened with a president who has been discredited as a progressive dedicated to a betterment of how we conduct public business.

Michael Brenner | Huffington Post

Fighting for Our Lives

Let’s take Kristol at his word — he sees Americans trying get the sort of health care he has, and his response is to “Go for the kill.” And that’s exactly what they’re doing: killing us.
So let’s stop pretending that the health care battle is a “debate,” because it’s not.
It’s a fight, a struggle to the death, to avoid death and suffering. The right wing understood this long ago, and that’s why its winning — again. The right-wingers are fighting for a system that kills Americans for their personal profit. And like colonial overlords, they’re now unleashing hired thugs to attack anyone who threatens their riches.
It’s the oldest and most serious battle of all: the battle for life and death, between misery and happiness — all of which are scarce resources. When you look at this stripped of the silly civics-class sheen that too many progressives adhere to, then the right wing’s vicious tactics aren’t at all shocking, but rather, obvious.
Let’s take Kristol at his word — he sees Americans trying get the sort of health care he has, and his response is to “Go for the kill.” And that’s exactly what they’re doing: killing us.
So let’s stop pretending that the health care battle is a “debate,” because it’s not.
It’s a fight, a struggle to the death, to avoid death and suffering. The right wing understood this long ago, and that’s why its winning — again. The right-wingers are fighting for a system that kills Americans for their personal profit. And like colonial overlords, they’re now unleashing hired thugs to attack anyone who threatens their riches.
It’s the oldest and most serious battle of all: the battle for life and death, between misery and happiness — all of which are scarce resources. When you look at this stripped of the silly civics-class sheen that too many progressives adhere to, then the right wing’s vicious tactics aren’t at all shocking, but rather, obvious.
Mark Ames | AlterNet

Unleashing the Crazy Right

I’m not sure if the insurance industry leaders using lobbyists to stir the pot know what they’ve just hooked into. Do they know that the comparisons of Obama to Hitler, and the call to break up a wholly imaginary “conspiracy” against the elderly may lead the fringe of the fringe to the next step? Is this fear of mine far-fetched? I don’t think so. To most Americans the killing of Dr. Tiller was murder. To many in the pro-life movement it was a courageous act by a patriot.
Whatever one’s opinion about abortion, the fact remains that the abortion debate introduced a political polarization that has never been healed and that has turned violent before. The fact that otherwise sane people now believe that United States government is in a conspiracy with the Obama administration to kill our elderly makes sense only when seen in the context of the hysterical, Armageddon-like expectations of the religious right/pro-life movement. When you understand the link between the hate mongers, the lobbying groups carrying water for the insurance industry and the ideology that came out of the pro-life movement then you can you understand what is happening today in town hall meetings that are being disrupted by screaming people. More importantly you can then also see where this may lead.

I’m not sure if the insurance industry leaders using lobbyists to stir the pot know what they’ve just hooked into. Do they know that the comparisons of Obama to Hitler, and the call to break up a wholly imaginary “conspiracy” against the elderly may lead the fringe of the fringe to the next step? Is this fear of mine far-fetched? I don’t think so. To most Americans the killing of Dr. Tiller was murder. To many in the pro-life movement it was a courageous act by a patriot.

Whatever one’s opinion about abortion, the fact remains that the abortion debate introduced a political polarization that has never been healed and that has turned violent before. The fact that otherwise sane people now believe that United States government is in a conspiracy with the Obama administration to kill our elderly makes sense only when seen in the context of the hysterical, Armageddon-like expectations of the religious right/pro-life movement. When you understand the link between the hate mongers, the lobbying groups carrying water for the insurance industry and the ideology that came out of the pro-life movement then you can you understand what is happening today in town hall meetings that are being disrupted by screaming people. More importantly you can then also see where this may lead.

Frank Schaeffer | Alternet

Is Obama Punking Us?

What the Great Recession has crystallized is a larger syndrome that Obama tapped into during the campaign. It’s the sinking sensation that the American game is rigged — that, as the president typically put it a month after his inauguration, the system is in hock to “the interests of powerful lobbyists or the wealthiest few” who have “run Washington far too long.” He promised to smite them.

No president can do that alone, let alone in six months. To make Obama’s goal more quixotic, the ailment that he diagnosed is far bigger than Washington and often beyond politics’ domain. What disturbs Americans of all ideological persuasions is the fear that almost everything, not just government, is fixed or manipulated by some powerful hidden hand, from commercial transactions as trivial as the sales of prime concert tickets to cultural forces as pervasive as the news media…..

The best political news for the president remains the Republicans. It’s a measure of how out of touch G.O.P. leaders like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are that they keep trying to scare voters by calling Obama a socialist. They have it backward. The larger fear is that Obama might be just another corporatist, punking voters much as the Republicans do when they claim to be all for the common guy. If anything, the most unexpected — and challenging — event that could rock the White House this August would be if the opposition actually woke up.

Frank Rich | NYTimes.com

Death by a Thousand Lies

Sarah Palin or her handlers posted a message on Facebook decrying the “death panels” she says – wrongly, bizarrely, viciously — Obamas health care reform will establish. She also claimed such panels might well have ended the life of her son Trig, born with Downs Syndrome.

Where to start? It would be funny if it werent so sad, and if Palin wasnt a contender for the Republican nomination in 2012 trust me, she is too unhinged to prevail, but shell get a lot of attention. Palins entire statement is so ignorant, so bollixed rhetorically and morally, it hurts to read it. The next time any Republican apologist tries to claim the “town hell” turnouts are spontaneous, lets remind them: OK, sure, its spontaneous alright; spontaneous combustion super-ignited by the most stupid and divisive lies weve seen in a long time.

But looking at history, maybe its not that long a time since weve seen this level of fact-free right-wing hysteria. The 2008 Democratic primary was painful to me because even as some liberals were trashing the Clintons and their “baggage,” it should have been clear to anyone with a memory that Obama would face the same insanity they did – accusations they murdered Vince Foster, trafficked in drugs, and then, of course, the sexual witch hunt known as impeachment. It was clear Democrats should take the character assassination the Clintons suffered, and multiply it by at least 10 for Obama, given his race. It was all fairly predictable; and it can all be fought — and will be fought — but even now, a lot of Democrats appear dull and flat-footed and unprepared for the GOP hate spewing from so many sewers.

Joan Walsh | Salon.com

The Health Care Bill Dies?

The reason a real health-care bill is not going to get passed is simple: because nobody in Washington really wants it. There is insufficient political will to get it done. It doesn’t matter that it’s an urgent national calamity, that it is plainly obvious to anyone with an IQ over 8 that our system could not possibly be worse and needs to be fixed very soon, and that, moreover, the only people opposing a real reform bill are a pitifully small number of executives in the insurance industry who stand to lose the chance for a fifth summer house if this thing passes.

It won’t get done, because that’s not the way our government works. Our government doesn’t exist to protect voters from interests, it exists to protect interests from voters. The situation we have here is an angry and desperate population that at long last has voted in a majority that it believes should be able to pass a health care bill. It expects something to be done. The task of the lawmakers on the Hill, at least as they see things, is to create the appearance of having done something. And that’s what they’re doing….

This whole business, it was a litmus test for whether or not we even have a functioning government. Here we had a political majority in congress and a popular president armed with oodles of political capital and backed by the overwhelming sentiment of perhaps 150 million Americans, and this government could not bring itself to offend ten thousand insurance men in order to pass a bill that addresses an urgent emergency. What’s left?

Matt Taibbi | True/Slant

Tax the wealthy to keep everyone healthy

Its the most blatant form of Robin-Hood economics ever proposed. The universal healthcare bill reported by the House Tuesday pays for the health insurance of the 20 percent of Americans who need help affording it with a surtax on the richest 1 percent.

I dont recall the last time Congress came up with such a direct redistribution. Occasionally Congress closes a few tax loopholes at the top and offers a refundable tax credit to workers at the bottom, or it creates a poor peoples program like Medicaid, paid for out of general revenues from a progressive income tax. But to say out loud, as the House has just done, that those in our society who can most readily afford it should pay for the health insurance of those who cannot is, well, audacious.

Theres another word for it: fair. According to the most recent data for 2007, the best-off 1 percent of American households take home about 20 percent of total income — the highest percentage since 1928. Yes, I know: Critics will charge that these are the very people who invest, innovate, and hire, and thereby keep the economy going. So raising their taxes will burden the economy and thereby hurt everyone, including those who are supposed to be helped.

But theres no reason to suppose that taking a tiny sliver of the incomes of the top 1 percent will reduce all that much of their ardor to invest, innovate, and hire in the future. Yet if this tiny sliver means affordable healthcare for a far larger number of Americans, who will be able to get regular checkups and thereby stay healthy and productive, the positive effect on the American economy is likely to be far greater.

Robert Reich | Salon