Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rodney King vs. Healthcare Reform

I launched this blog in its original form just after Barack Obama's election, and, in that time, the single topic I've probably covered more than anything is the Obama’s Rodney-King-ist politics. Instead of adopting a position of strength and fighting from it, Obama says “can’t we all just get along?” He begins by giving all sorts of concessions to the other side right up front in the hope that this will bring them over to his side. In a world in which there existed a reasonable, responsible opposition party, this sort of thing may inspire that opposition to be magnanimous and work toward a compromise. The practical reality of the present, though, is that no such reasonable, responsible opposition exists. If the Clinton years taught the Demos anything, it should have taught them that. Obama is a Democrat. If he was to adopt outright Republican policies (as did Clinton), the right would still try to crush him. Not just to beat him but to destroy him (as they did with Clinton).

Obama's Rodney-King-ism has been devastating to his effectiveness. It wrecked the “stimulus” bill. He gave up nearly half of that in wasteful, less stimulative tax cuts in the hope of getting Republican votes. At a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, he got two such votes. And he didn’t learn from that. That failure to learn has, in all likelihood, now done in much hope for real health-care reform.

A single-payer plan is the best available option for reform, but the Obama refused to even consider it. The single-payer advocates weren't even allowed a seat at the table. To garner favor with those whose favor he will never win, the Obama shunted single-payer aside and tried to weasel and kowtow to the right by cooking up another damned "reform" plan that preserves a private insurance system that doesn't work, is doomed to eventual collapse, and that is bleeding the country dry as it dies. Faced with reactionary rent-a-mobs organized by corporate interests trying to defeat ALL reform, those in the White House spent this past weekend backing away from even the meager "public option" element of their initial plan, even as scumbag Sen. Charles Grassley, the Repub point-man on negotiating with the Demos, publicly admitted he'll probably vote against whatever compromise he works out anyway.

The Repubs are quite Machiavellian on the matter--with a Rodney-King-ist, they can afford to be. With Obama’s help, they’ve set it up so they win either way. Here’s what they want to happen next:

a) Nothing at all, which is their preference, and which would significantly weaken the Obama, or

b) for something to pass that’s watered down, industry-dictated crap that does nothing to control costs, and will only make the situation worse, but that will be labeled “health care reform.” It will fail, and the right will blame its failure on government, and use it against Democrats.

It's a win-win situation for them, a lose-lose situation for the public. Did that public hand the Democrats such an overwhelming electoral victory last year for this?


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Attack of the Bubble People

Of all the political problems that plague the United States, there is one that is potentially more serious than the combination of all the others, one with which I've been gravely concerned and about which I've written for a good many years. Simply stated, there is a large and growing segment of the population on the political right that has increasingly opted to seal itself in what amounts to an alternate universe and never have any more than superficial commerce with reality. They exist, more and more, in a bubble of their own puerile political fantasies. I call them the Bubble People.

Obviously, there have always been people who would, for one reason or another, behave in this manner and they’ve always existed across the full range of the political spectrum. Today, for example, we see some simple souls on the left who, in alliance with like-minded people on the far right, suggest George Bush Jr. was responsible for the Sept. 11th attacks. Such people have usually been a relatively small portion of the population and have rightly been regarded as the fringe nuts they are. Today’s conservative Bubble People are just as nutty as any of the Bubble People of the past but they’re now a huge segment of the population, to the degree that they’ve more-or-less managed to go mainstream.

These Bubble People are, in part, an outgrowth of our drone culture but they’re primarily a side-effect of a massive, well-funded effort, operating within that culture for decades, to create a reliable constituency for the right. Millions of dollars have gone into constructing the bubble, which includes right-wing radio, the Fox News Channel, a huge network of think-tanks, publications, internet sites and so on, and a great deal of time and effort has been spent conditioning the Bubble People to believe only the voices forever echoing within the bubble, primarily those of the American conservative elite. Those voices are the source of The Truth. Anything outside those voices is to be distrusted and anything sourced to someone of any other political orientation is to be dismissed outright, without regard to any fact other than their political orientation.

When you see the current waves of drones who are turning up, on command, at the congressional townhall meetings about health care across the country, you’re seeing the Bubble People. They’ve been told by the conservative elite that they should be terrified of health care reform and that elite has used, as a rallying cry, the idea that the health-care proposal includes “death panels,” bureaucrats who will be empowered to decide to pull the plug on the elderly and the infirm.

If a reasonable person heard such a thing, his instinct would immediately be to dismiss it as balderdash, even if he knew nothing more of it. The concept of "reasonable" doesn't exist in the bubble though. It's absurd to have to point out that no such provision exists in the bill. It isn’t in it. It has never been in it. No one has ever even suggested such a thing, not once. Nor would they. But hundreds of people turn up, on command, at these townhall meetings to scream, cry, rant, threaten, and employ violence in order to shut down any discussion of healthcare reform based on their heartfelt--and entirely manufactured--belief that the socialist in the White House wants to pull the plug on granny. In a rare bout of responsible journalism, the corporate press has reported, umpteen times, that no such provision exists. These screaming mobs have remained completely impervious to this. They’re being told by the conservative elite--the only voices allowed in their bubble--that it does and to them, that’s The Truth. Reality never penetrates.[1]

That they would so passionately believe and never question the notion that their political opponents would craft such a grisly provision says everything about what they've been conditioned, within the bubble, to think of those with different points of view.[2]

When one sees the signs and banners waved by demonstrators at these events that say things like “Keep your grubby government hands off my Medicare,” it becomes obvious something has gone terribly wrong.

The decade+ campaign, through the '90s and beyond, to destroy Bill Clinton was the first indication that the Bubble People were getting completely out of hand but even the impeachment fiasco--essentially an attempted coup against an elected government, with all the attendant implications--didn’t have even remotely as wide-ranging an effect as the Iraq misadventure. The Bubblers were the backbone of the support for that insane policy and it's probably the most obvious and visible sign of the very real danger presented by them, danger not only to the United States but to the rest of the world.

I like to use the 2004 presidential election as a stock example of the trouble with the Bubblers. Consider these facts about that election, courtesy of the University of Maryland:

“…72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that [Bush weapons inspector Charles] Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program.”

“…75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission.”

And so on. There’s more. This was, by far, the single most important issue of that campaign and Bush’s supporters were wildly misinformed about every significant point of it. The President of the most powerful nation in the history of the world was sent back into office by an electorate that based its decision on pure fantasy.

That's a problem.



[1] The Bubble People are appearing at these events at the behest of organizers who openly avow they want no healthcare reform at all. The Bubbler's tactics, fed them by these handlers, has been to shut down discussion. This, alone, bespeaks a serious disconnect from reality. Healthcare in the U.S. is on an unsustainable course, at present. This can be demonstrated in any one of dozens of ways, without resorting to any sort of shaky speculation. Something has to be done. That doesn’t mean the current proposal is what should be done--I certainly don't think it is--but that’s the beginning of a discussion. The Bubble's handlers don't want a discussion and the Bubblers, completely oblivious to the reality of the health care crisis, are working to prevent one from taking place.

[2] The Bubble People would be a problem even if those who constructed their bubble were honest. There's little honesty in the American conservative elite. The image of the liberal Democrat as the evil socialist who would kill old people, adopted by the Bubblers as reality without a moment's hesitation, is just one of the vile creations of that worthless yet omnipresent elite.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The American Right Tries To Arrange For Obama's Murder

They want him dead. That's the only explanation left open to us. Not politically "dead" either but literally dead. Gunned down by some reactionary half-wit who, in his insanity-clogged brain, believes himself to be saving the U.S. from a new Hitler.

That's just about the only conclusion one can draw from the present right-wing campaign against health care reform. They aren't trying to beat back a policy they oppose--the policies they claim to oppose don't even exist. They began by dusting off the playbook used to defeat reform during the Clinton administration--the charge of "socialism" has become omnipresent, without regard to the fact that the "reform" plans in congress aren't socialist. If that was the whole of their "argument" though, they wouldn't have gotten very far--they've simply screamed "socialism" too often--so they switched gears into something much more hideous: They've spent weeks telling Americans the health care reform plan contains a provision to create "death panels," groups of bureaucrats who could decide to pull the plug on old people and the sick when they become too expensive to keep alive.

No such provision either exists or has ever existed in any version of any health plan in congress but they've told everyone it's there and even the "mainstream" elements of the Republican party have used it to rally the dimmer--and most unstable--elements of their base. The industry-funded astroturf groups behind the teabagger gatherings earlier this year have once again teamed with reactionary outlets like talk radio and Fox News to spread the misinformation and to tell everyone they should be afraid, be very afraid. The most visible project of these interests, who have said they oppose any health care reform, has been to use the "death panel" lie (among others) to send mobs of their brainwashed followers to townhall meetings held by members of congress on the subject of health care, where these mobs shout, scream, cry, threaten and rant as a means of shutting down any reasonable discussion of health care.[1]

America's conservative elite have banged these drums mercilessly and in a manner no amount of spin could portray as responsible. Comparisons of Obama to Hitler and Democrats to Nazis have abounded. The "birther" movement, which holds to the insane myth that Obama wasn't even born in the U.S., isn't a U.S. citizen and thus isn't legitimately president, is being mainstreamed. Even Republican members of congress who had previously behaved as "honest brokers" have openly adopted the insane lies of the kookiest of the kooks in the mix.[2] The crazed fanatics who make up the lunatic fringe right have now begun to turn up at the townhall meetings with weapons and carrying signs and banners calling for killing Obama and other supporters of health care reform.

It seems like only a matter of time before one of the right's many crackpots, worked to a fever pitch, finally decides to obey the voices in his head--coming from the American conservative elite, not from any self-originating hallucination--and act on this rhetoric. On that dark day, it will be the finger of everyone who has stoked this fire on the trigger alongside his own.



[1] And despite that fact that this is all being done more or less in the open, the corporate press has largely refused to cover the interests behind these "protests," choosing, instead, to present them as genuine spontaneous outpourings of anger. MSBNC's Rachel Maddow is one of the very few exceptions and deserves a great deal of praise for her work in trying to get out the word on the subject.

[2] Sen. Charles Grassley(R-Iowa) was praised by Obama for being such an honest broker. Only days ago, he turned around and went to a townhall meeting to tell the assembled that the health care plan contained the "death panels" and that they "have every right to fear" the proposal because of it.