Monday, August 31, 2009

Insanity runs in the GOP family: From Nixon/Reagan to today's Republican Party

Trying to make sense of U.S. politics today is a real mind bender. If the Republicans were sane, the current situation would be very hard to understand. But sanity and the post-Nixon/Reagan Republican Party are not two things that flow easily together. You would think that there would be some selectivity as to which of the President's proposals they want to go up against and which they could support. But that's not the case. The Republicans are behaving like children who have been refused candy at the store. They tend to kick and scream irrationally at almost any suggestion. From the past 30 years it has become clear that - when in power - they cannot govern. When the American people wake up to this situation and elect a Democrat to the presidency and back him/her up with a mandate and large majorities in Congress, the Republicans simply scream, "if we can't govern, we will not let anyone else do so." In other words, the Republicans these days are willing to destroy everything they touch no matter what the cost to the rest of us. Last November 8th they were told no at the store, and now not only are they against every proposal the Obama administration puts forward, but they are even bitching and moaning about the President taking a vacation. (That's right. Even after eight years of a Republican president who was on vacation more than he was on duty). And they claim they're pro-family. Paul Krugman wrote in last Monday's (8/24) New York Times:
Washington, it seems, is still ruled by Reaganism — by an ideology that says government intervention is always bad, and leaving the private sector to its own devices is always good.

Call me naive, but I actually hoped that the failure of Reaganism in practice would kill it. It turns out, however, to be a zombie doctrine: even though it should be dead, it keeps on coming.
I would put it slightly differently. Washington (ie. mostly the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats) are ideologically still hung up on Reaganism, but they are strategically followers of Nixon - the Southern Strategy, enemies lists and lies, lies and more lies. But remember what Marx taught us:
Hegel observes somewhere that all great incidents and individuals of world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.
But don't underestimate the danger of the farceurs. In addition to the American people, the true victim of the Republican party is - democracy. The deeply anti-democratic disruptive behavior of Republican sycophants at recent attempts by Democrats to hold town meetings to discuss the health care reform proposals does nothing but undermine democratic discussion. This is a result of the Republican realization that in any rational debate they would lose badly.

To go back to where I began, to understand why the health care reform proposals currently on the Congressional table may be in trouble there is certainly plenty of blame to go around and it doesn't all fall in the Republican lap. (I do think I should say that I don't think it's in as much trouble outside the beltway or among people who elected Obama as the corporate-owned media would have us believe. But unfortunately the final decisions will be made in Washington not by the country-at-large.)

It's clear that the Republicans are the primary culprits in trashing the health-care reform proposals. But they have plenty of help from the Blue Dog Democrats. These Democratic followers of Reaganism don't consider supporting their president as important as securing their campaign finances from the health insurance industry. According to Krugman (NYT, 8/31),
a once minor player has become a political behemoth, one that is currently spending $1.4 million a day lobbying Congress.
That they are able to spend that kind of money is outrageous; but think, what must they have at stake to be willing to spend it. The administration also comes in for its share of the blame because not only did they not expect the blow back from the right wing (how they didn't anticipate it may be the political wonder of our time), but they still talk about bi-partisanship with the Republicans. How delusional can you be? One other note: abandoning single payer before the struggle even began, gave them almost nothing to bargain with.But don't think the blame game stops there. We are the other component in this struggle - the progressive forces, we've done almost nothing to light a fire under the wavering Democrats. There have been no pro-health care reform demonstrations or other kinds of organizing. It's been very quiet on the Left. No significant change has ever occurred in this country without massive pressure from outside the political process - and it hasn't been there. And let's not forget perhaps the most serious culprits in all this (besides the Republicans) - the corporate-owned media. Any possible educational responsibility has long been abandoned in lieu of entertainment. With people like Sarah Palin running around dropping nuggets of mis-information. One thing the Republicans have become expert at is scaring the hell out of the most vulnerable of us. In this case that's older people and now veterans have been thrown into the Palin stew. But the news media have done very little to help people better understand what's really at stake. In fact, many corporate media outlets, particularly TV, have done all they can to enable Republican lies to be taken seriously.

But I think it would be a mistake to follow the corporate media lead and think that the anti-health care reform contingent amounts to more than the people who voted for McCain/Palin last November. That is the anti-health care reform contingent outside of Congress. And that's what we have to make clear.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Republican search for the "great white hope"

It's startling how racist or utterly stupid the Republicans can be. Who are these people?

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) said:
Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope.
Not surprisingly, later she denied that she meant to make a racist comment. Sure, we all believe it's only accidentally she called for "a great white hope" with a president of color in the White House. "I was unaware of any negative connotation," She said. "and if I offended anybody, obviously I apologize." One clearly doesn't have to know anything about the search for "A great white hope" when in 1908 Jack Johnson became the first Black boxer to win the heavyweight championship (much like Barack Obama won the heavyweight championship of politics last Nov. 8th) to find Jenkins comment offensive. The level of Republican stupidity never seems to hit bottom.

Sat.Aug. 29: Health care rally

I'm a MoveOn member like you, and I'm working with the local MoveOn Council to organize an event tomorrow in New York City to make our voices heard for real health care reform.

Aug. 29, 12:45 PM

Meet at Roosevelt Hospital.
(59th St and 9th Ave)

March to the health care rally in Times Square.

We demand a public option as a way to control health care costs -- health care reform without a public option isn't good enough.
we will hear from doctors, patients and community leaders about the necessity of health care reform and the need for a public option.

From Georgia Wever:

Meet me tomorrow at the Health Care for All rally at the Central Labor Council at 41st and 7th Ave at 1:30 inside the police pen.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sept. 10: Discussion on Ending Poverty

This is from Oxfam America:

Oxfam is pleased to invite you to a public event in New York City on addressing social justice and global poverty.

September 10, 5:00-6:30 p.m.

"The Moral Obligation to End Poverty"

A Presentation by Peter Singer and
Dialogue with Raymond Offenheiser and Serene Jones

James Chapel at Union Theological Seminary
(Broadway and 121st)

This event is free and open to the public.
Please feel free to bring friends and share this invitation with others who may be interested in global poverty issues.

RSVP to Yan Ho at or 617-728-2498

Renowned ethicist, Princeton professor, and author, Peter Singer, will present his ideas for personal, local, and global engagement on issues of poverty and justice.
Professor Singer will be joined by Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary, and
Raymond Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America.
Together they will offer unique perspectives on why and how we should work to address the issues of the world’s poorest communities.

This event is co-sponsored by Union Theological Seminary, Oxfam America, and Poverty Initiative.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Aug 12: Real Voices for Health-Care Change

Real Voices for Healthcare Change

Friday, August 21th, 12:00 PM

Ryan-Chelsea Com'ty Hlth Ctr.
645 10 Ave
(10th Ave between 45th & 46 Sts,)


We're taking action at events like these because this is a make-or-break moment—right-wing extremists are crashing political events around the country and trying to dominate the public debate over President Obama's agenda.

We can't let that happen in New York. Local MoveOn members are making sure Sen. Charles Schumer knows that we're counting on him to support health care reform with a real public health insurance option that will help expand coverage and bring down costs for all of us.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No public option: A trial balloon on health-care reform?

Yesterday I posted a brief e-mail that I sent to Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand and House member Nadler. In that letter I suggested that the administration's TV talk about "abandonment" of the public option may be simply a trial balloon to see what blowback they will get from the liberal members of Congress and their progressive allies. This possibility seems even stronger today as key Democratic Party figures speak up. According to The Huffington Post (which John Nally posted on Facebook):
Richard Trumka, the secretary-treasurer and likely next president of the AFL-CIO, said his federation is drawing a line in the sand when it comes to a public option in the health care bill. Lawmakers who don't support the provision, he said, shouldn't take anything for granted.

'We'll look at every one of their votes,' Trumka said after his speech at the Netroots Nation convention. 'If they're against the Employee Free Choice Act, if they're against health care for that reason, I think it'll be tough for them to get support from working people.'
This os also echoed by 60 members of Congress who sent a message to the White House that they wouldn't support a bill without a public option.

It is important that we keep the heat on wavering congress members and the administration. Write, call or e-mail your representatives, senators and the President telling them that the public option is not an option, if they want our votes.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Obama health-care reform a joke - on us

Remember "Si, Si, Puede"/ "Yes we can." Well it seems to not relate to healthcare reform. The Obama administration obviously can't.

Without a public option health-care reform will be a joke - on us

I have just sent the following message to Sens. Gillibrand and Schumer and Rep. Nadler. Hopefully you can communicate something along these lines to your senators and representative. It is truly essential for us to put pressure on Congress to put pressure on the administration to preserve, at least, the public option. Without it health-care reform would simply be a joke - on us. For more information on this contact Campaign for America's Future

The Obama administration has indicated that it might be willing to accept a health-care reform package without a public option. It might be just a trial balloon to assess the blowback from the President's constituency - people like me. But whatever their purpose in sending out messages about a public option, we need to make it very clear that the public option (already a fallback position from single payer) is non-negotiable. And we need your support, by communicating to the administration that it is non-negotiable to you also. If the administration wants your support (vote) for the bill, it has to include a public option or no deal. The public option is essential to the two fundamental purposes of health-care coverage reform: (1) Covering everybody, including the 48 million people who are currently not covered and (2) Bringing down the cost of health-care insurance and ultimately the delivery of healthcare.

I appreciate your time and attention to my concerns. Good luck in your next election.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Chorus performs & relaxes at Craig-y-Nos Castle, photos by Dan Cohen

Built in 1842 and refurbished in 1878 when the castle was bought by Italian-American opera singer, Adelina Patti. Many people say she bought it so she would have a place to perform in Wales. Whenever our guide spoke of her, there was a real pride in his voice. The Welsh seem to be really taken by the fact that this world-wide superstar (in 1900) would choose to live in Wales. It is now Crag-y-Nos Country Park (the castle and its grounds) and is part of Brecon Beacons National Park. It's also "an oddball (and rather overpriced) hostel/hotel." Oh, I'm very fond of elephants.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Support the farmworkers v. Chipotle

It's official. You've got Chipotle feeling the heat.

When we told you that Chipotle was standing by while the farmworkers who pick their tomatoes faced abuse and exploitation in the fields, you and over 16,000 others wrote Chipotle CEO Steve Ells, demanding that Chipotle live up to its "food with integrity" promise.

As a major buyer, Chipotle knows they have the power to intervene for the farmworkers.

We need your help to keep the pressure on and let Chipotle know that integrity can't be bought with half-efforts and excuses.