Sunday Op-Ed: National Indecision

( – promoted by buhdydharma )


So I’m watching the health care “debate” in this country with my eyes half-screwed shut because some of the foolishness is downright painful to witness — aside from the real pain of knowing too many folks aren’t getting the medicine and medical treatment they need.

Hard to make a decision when politics exists nowadays simply to muddy the waters.  And while the circus goes on in the foreground, so does the power game in the back room.

President Obama has chosen to use his power cautiously in this “debate,” so that will limit the choices we will make when it comes to health care.  There are endless arguments of what could and couldn’t be on the table as far as single-payer and the watered down version of the public option (which gets more watered down every day), and those arguments try so hard to be definitive, as though there are no alternatives to what Obama has chosen to do (if you are an Obama supporter) or that Obama is simply a corporate tool (if you are among those who have had it with half-measures).

The past eight years in particular have seen each and every one of our political institutions debased and sold to the highest bidder.  And because we are not shining a bright light on the crimes of the Bush/Cheney misAdministration, we are seeing the effects of that in each and every political decision voted upon by Congress and signed into law (with or without signing statements) by the Executive Branch.

As far as health care is concerned, my view is that if there is anything at all that Obama can sign into law, he should.  I don’t think for one moment that we’ll get a real public option — but we’ll get our foot in the door when it comes to incremental change — and although I am NOT in favor of incremental change, that is the only thing that’s being offered from our government.

So I don’t look towards Obama or our government for my deliverance, big surprise.

I look towards myself and my fellow citizens of like mind.  In that, I have a great deal of faith.  The word “incremental” doesn’t even figure into our work, nor should it.

And here’s the thing — most of us here have worked hard on the issue of torture and accountability — that those in the Bush misAdministration who committed crimes be held responsible for those crimes.  More and more I see a connection between the lack of pursuit of accountability we are seeing from the Obama Administration and the political problems we are seeing when it comes to other important issues such as health care and the environment.

Folks will do what they can get away with.  And that includes corporations, which includes insurance companies.

What we’re seeing is an Administration who is trying to deal incrementally and incompletely with criminal behavior.  All I see that producing is the kind of bizarre indecision shown by our representatives when it comes to issues that ought to be settled by now, where large numbers of citizens have made their views known and yet are still thwarted by special interests.

Actions have consequences.  And so does inaction.  We see by the actions of Rahm Emmanuel, by President Obama’s own actions when it comes to his particular signing statements and his use of the bully pulpit to speak out against prosecutions for torture, that the Executive Branch is not shy at all when it comes to exercising its power.  Those who defend Obama by saying he’s more into process and incremental change are not convincing in the face of his actual use of power, the actual choices he makes in the use of that power.

Because there has been no accountability, we are experiencing our present political circus of indecision.  It won’t get any easier as time passes — it will never be easy and it will never be without risk.

Which is why we yell louder.  In case anyone was wondering, heh.


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  1. … since the beginning of time, for all I know.  But so what.  Now is our time.  Now is our time to make our mark in this story of humanity.

    Transparency and accountability.  That’s the ticket.

    • Edger on August 9, 2009 at 17:48

    “…is poised to appoint a criminal prosecutor to investigate alleged CIA abuses committed during the interrogation of terrorism suspects, current and former U.S. government officials said.

    A senior Justice Department official said that Holder envisioned an inquiry that would be narrow in scope, focusing on “whether people went beyond the techniques that were authorized” in Bush administration memos that liberally interpreted anti-torture laws”

    Incrementally legitimizing the Bybee/Yoo Torture Memo justifications that Bush used?

    “An investigation that focuses only on low-ranking operators would be, I think, worse than doing nothing at all,” said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.


    • Edger on August 9, 2009 at 18:00

    I’m only being watered down…

    While some on principles baptized

    To strict party platform ties

    Social clubs in drag disguise

    Outsiders they can freely criticize

    Tell nothing except who to idolize

    And then say God bless him.

  2. ” So I don’t look towards Obama for my deliverance”,–do you look towards Obama to do the right thing?

    I agree in not looking for deliverance, but I feel justifiable anger at Obama. What he promised during the campaign is not the way he is governing. A legitimate case can be made that Obama is a fraud, duplicitous person.

    I guess one can always fall back on, “he’s better than McCain”.

  3. into law the final takeovers of our representational form of government and call it reform? The people who are insured will get some minor relief or not but for the most part all this will do as the Clinton’s did is privatize more of our government and call it good. The Bushies called the daytime night and tortured and stole till the people finally had to say enough. If this becomes law and we as a people think that this is incremental change we are really stupid and are sealing our fate. Actually this is change and it’s not even so incremental it’s a change that makes the consolidation of the powers that be complete it codifies them as inevitable and the law.

    We all witnessed with horror what the Bushies did, and the majority resoundingly woke up out of fear to say enough. Indecision does not seem to be this administrations problem just the opposite. It is repackaging the same agenda the same insanity and lawlessness and selling it as the center, moderate, compromise or incremental change and the most telling, reform. I can believe in this change but I cannot accept it. I don’t accept that this is all they can do or too bigs will fall, terrorists will kill me or it will ruin the American Dream. All of this fake fight is just so much smoke and mirrors while the take over is completed.

    Another editorial I read today…


    • Edger on August 9, 2009 at 19:46

    Is the US on the Brink of Fascism?

       There are dangerous currents running through America’s politics and the way we confront them is crucial.

       All through the dark years of the Bush Administration, progressives watched in horror as Constitutional protections vanished, nativist rhetoric ratcheted up, hate speech turned into intimidation and violence, and the president of the United States seized for himself powers only demanded by history’s worst dictators. With each new outrage, the small handful of us who’d made ourselves experts on right-wing culture and politics would hear once again from worried readers: Is this it? Have we finally become a fascist state? Are we there yet?

       And every time this question got asked, people like Chip Berlet and Dave Neiwert and Fred Clarkson and yours truly would look up from our maps like a parent on a long drive, and smile a wan smile of reassurance. “Wellll…we’re on a bad road, and if we don’t change course, we could end up there soon enough. But there’s also still plenty of time and opportunity to turn back. Watch, but don’t worry. As bad as this looks: no — we are not there yet.”

       In tracking the mileage on this trip to perdition, many of us relied on the work of historian Robert Paxton, who is probably the world’s pre-eminent scholar on the subject of how countries turn fascist. In a 1998 paper published in The Journal of Modern History, Paxton argued that the best way to recognize emerging fascist movements isn’t by their rhetoric, their politics, or their aesthetics. Rather, he said, mature democracies turn fascist by a recognizable process, a set of five stages that may be the most important family resemblance that links all the whole motley collection of 20th Century fascisms together. According to our reading of Paxton’s stages, we weren’t there yet. There were certain signs — one in particular — we were keeping an eye out for, and we just weren’t seeing it.

       And now we are. In fact, if you know what you’re looking for, it’s suddenly everywhere. It’s odd that I haven’t been asked for quite a while; but if you asked me today, I’d tell you that if we’re not there right now, we’ve certainly taken that last turn into the parking lot and are now looking for a space. Either way, our fascist American future now looms very large in the front windshield — and those of us who value American democracy need to understand how we got here, what’s changing now, and what’s at stake in the very near future if these people are allowed to win — or even hold their ground.

    read the whole thing…

  4. Great OP Ed, NPK.  Thought provoking.

    But I can’t agree with the incremental change bit.  I saw that with Medicare Part D.  

    As a low “fixed” income senior with a disability Medi-D has been a detriment, not an incremental help.

    Actually, the last sentence is incorrect.  I’m not on a ‘fixed” income.  I’m on a shrinking income.  Not only has California Gov. Arnold, the Gropengrubber, taken $60.00 per month away from my SSI check, he has frozen  COLAs for the last 2 years to $zero for low income seniors.

    This while Medi-D, through legally allowable loopholing, has caused my expenditures for prescribed medications to go from $Zero to almost one month’s total income per year.

    How did the insurance-pharmaceuticals do this:

      1) They instituted a small co-pay per prescription. It was small, and I was okay with paying some…

    But also:

      2) Getting the Drug administration to change many, many formerly prescription drugs to “over the counter;” thereby causing us to pay Full Retail Prices.  Who benefits from this?  You guessed it.

    So I fear any incremental re-designing of health care will contain hidden ways to profit the insurers and soak it to us once again.  Beware the gift horse bearing nothing.

  5. You’re right.

    But I’d go a step further in re no investigations and prosecutions.  To me, had we commenced investigations and prosecutions already, we may have seen some real progressive steps in this country.  The fact that those investigations and prosecutions have not happened have further emboldened those “forces” that were with us for the past eight years and are still with us.  The price we pay.  

    In the beginning of Obama’s presidency, he did try to start out with progressive moves, such as announcing that Wall Street CEO’s would, henceforth, receive a limit of $500,000 as salary — boy, did he get jumped on for that one.  Then, he said he wanted ALL the troops out of Iraq by a date certain.  But now, we’re to leave some 35,000 to 50,000 troops in there for a long time yet, after the other troops have gone.  And on and on.  

    As for the healthcare insurance, I fear that we will wind up with something inferior — “crumbs” that everyone will be obligated to buy and pay for.  I don’t actually think that’s what Obama had in mind (pre-election, he was for single-payer), but with the entire healthcare industry “on top of him,” . . . . . . !!!!  If the GD Democrats were unified in spirit and effort, they could have helped Obama toward more progressive achievements, but as we know, many of them are beholden to many of those corporatists that they hold hands with.   The whole system is f..ked up, period.  And, basically, the American people are out in the cold, have been for a long time now — at least eight years plus now, and more, and are not a part of the government’s equation, as it appears!  

    • banger on August 10, 2009 at 18:12

    and agree except yelling louder is not going to change much. Organizing communities willing to take strong common action does do something. And I don’t mean writing letters but being able to hurt the enemy (the corporate plutocracy).

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