As we move into the final hours of the health care debate, the nation
has moved into a dark shadow, a place of ugliness that you usually only
read about in history books, when nations are in their final extremities.
Last week, right wing commentators, led by the slime at Faux News,
attacked an eleven year old boy who was campaigning for health care
reform. Just a few months earlier, his mother had died of pulmonary
hypertension, a condition that can be contained with medical treatment.
However, she had been recently fired by Wal Mart (for calling in sick
too many times) and had subsequently lost her health insurance. No
longer able to afford her treatments, she died. The right wingers mocked
the mother for dying, and attacked Democrats for “using” the boy,
despite the fact that he was doing it of his own will and for something
the right wingers will never understand, a noble cause.
Then, the other day, a man with Parkinson’s in Ohio was staging a
one-man sit-in. He held a sign advocating health care reform. A crowd of
anti-health care reform types gathered, and began mocking the man,
telling him, “No handouts here” and “Get a job!” and throwing dollar
bills at him.
Then, today, Democratic members of the House were set upon by
protesters. Barney Frank was called a faggot. A protester spat on Rep.
Emanuel Cleaver, and another shouted “nigger!” at Representative John Lewis.
The demonstrators were egged on in this performance by Mike Pence, a
Republican congressman from Indiana.
The Democratic congressmen reacted with considerable grace, and
fortunately, the Capital police were there to make sure the crowd didn't
elect to begin lynching or something.
I had to wonder what Lewis thought. He was in the civil rights
demonstrations of the 1960s, and had faced that sort of anger and hatred
before. Surely, as he watched Obama take the oath of office a little
over a year ago, he had believed that he would not have to face that
particular monster again in his lifetime. I really wish that had been
the case. The man fought so long and so hard, only to have to face these
vicious and trivial people again.
Mike Pence should be thrown out of the House for even consorting with
vicious trash like that.
If I had no other reason to support the Health Care Reform bill when the
House votes on it tomorrow, I would do so for this one reason: No
self-respecting nation should ever let trash like the people who
attacked the kid, or bullied the Parkinson's protester, or who called
some of the finest men America has ever produced “faggots and niggers”
prevail. If nothing else, Congress should pass the bill just to
repudiate such Brownshirt filth.
I watched the video of the people mocking the man with Parkinson's, and
it reminded me of the vignettes from Nazi Germany in the mid 30s, when
Brownshirts beat and humiliated Jewish elders in the street, spitting on
them, laughing, and cutting off their hair and beards.
The only real difference here was that the police were quick to step in
before things went that far.
The Teabaggers at the capital were shouting at a man who was beaten by
teabag cognates in the 1960s for having the temerity to suggest that
black people should be allowed to sit in the front of the bus. In their
mindless fear and hatred, they couldn't see that John Lewis was STILL
fighting for the right of people to ride in the front of the bus. Some
of the people shouting and spitting at those Congressmen will be direct
beneficiaries of the bill when it passes. How stupid is that?
With the Brownshirts, you could understand their fear and hatred, even
if you could never excuse it. Germany had lost a terrible war, gone
broke, seen a currency collapse, and was being sucked dry by obligations
incurred by the war it started. Despite the howls of the Republicans,
America isn't anywhere close to that level of desperation, and the
Brownshirts didn't have to revolt against the fruits of their own track
record, unlike the Republicans and their pet Teabaggers.
But I'm hoping the bill passes not just because I dislike Brownshirts
and want to see them bitch-slapped.
I don't much like the bill itself. It leaves far too much power in the
paws of the insurance companies and Big Pharm. It doesn't have a public
option, so there's no real competitive goad. Of course, given my
druthers, we would have single payer, and for-profit insurance companies
and bosses wouldn't have a goddam thing to do with the availability and
quality of health care anyone could get.
That's why most people don't like the bill. There's the 33% who would
hate it just because the Republicans are against it, and another 15% –
people who are left of center, generally – who think the bill has been
stripped down so far it offers little in the way of real reform.
But a large majority of people still want to see comprehensive health
care reform. Even one in five Republicans does.
Tactically, it's not a good bill. But strategically, it's great, because
passage means the chokehold the GOP has inflicted on the country for
having the temerity to deny their right to rule has been broken. It
also, in and of itself, represents a good first step.
I don't want to think about what happens if the bill fails. Will it
break the spirit of the American people, and send the country on its way
to becoming another India, where a small population of supremely wealthy
straddle a heaving, docile mass of the barely-fed? Or will it
precipitate a revolution of some sort? I don't know, and I don't want to
I'm amused at the claims by the likes of Karl Rove, Dick Morris and Dan
Balz that the Democrats will pay a very heavy price if the bill passes.
Aside from the sheer ludicrousness of a Faux “correspondent” like Rove
actually expressing concern for the Democratic Party, there's the fact
that they have come to believe their own propaganda, and really think
Americans would prefer to keep the health care system the way it is. In
fact, less than one in four people are satisfied with the medical status
quo, no matter who is doing the polling.
Those same polls show that a majority of people still want single payer,
or at least a public option. That hasn't changed, and it won't change
after the bill has passed.
Once the shouting is over, and a couple of months have passed, people
will notice that their taxes haven't doubled, and that they will qualify
for federal assistance on their insurance rates. They'll note that they
can still keep their insurance, or (as is usually the case), they still
have whatever insurance company their employer has decided they shall
have. They'll note that they have a wider range of doctors and treatment
They'll hear less about people being denied coverage due to preexisting
conditions, and less people will be spending all their time fighting
their insurance companies for coverage that usually is legitimately theirs.
Then you'll see the poll numbers start to shift, most noticeably for
Obama. From the upper 40s approval that he has now (still more than
double what the last one had!) he'll go back up to around 60, and be
unbeatable in 2012.
As for Congress, well, it has a long way to go. A Field Poll in
California the other day showed they only have a 12% approval rate.
People like them more than Charlie Manson, but major earthquakes might
be more popular. If only because earthquakes aren't boring.
Congress has its work cut out for it. But Dems will be at least twice as
popular as Republicans, and they might even gain a few seats this fall,
against all conventional wisdom.
So let Rove and Morris and Balz shed their tears of concern over the
Democratic Party, and reflect that in private, they are shedding even
more tears over the fate of a major political party that is NOT the
And watch to see if they want to keep stirring up the Teabaggers to do
their dirty work for them, and attack cripples and minorities in little
About the time I sent it out, CNN reported: On CNN's "State of the
Union," Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, who marched with Lewis in Selma
called the slurs "contemptible. I denounce it in the strongest terms."
March 25, 2010