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Riddle Me This, Rahm/Harry/Blue Puppies

Do you have any idea who your audience is?

Do you know who you’re playing to?

I don’t think you do. But giving you the benefit of the doubt, as serious, important politicians who have what I can only assume are long resumes showcasing a series of very important victories, let me then ask you this:

Who are you afraid of? Whose votes do you think you’re going to lose?

No, I’m not talking about senators here, so stop saying, “Ben Nelson” or “Mary Landrieu.” I’m talking about real, live human beings – the American voters out there across our country.

Exactly what percentage of the population is it that you think fits the following parameters:

– Open and willing to vote for Democrats

– Likely to vote for President Obama’s reelection in 2012, and likely to vote for a Democrat in the 2010 midterms.

– Generally supportive of climate change legislation, Justice Sotomayor’s nomination, repealing DADT, stem cell research, the stimulus package, et. al.


– Not going to vote for Obama or congressional Democrats because you passed a public option as part of the health care bill.

Is there anybody who fits those parameters? Is there anyone out there who’s on board, but a public option is going to be the one thing that turns them off? I don’t think it’s very many people. Maybe I’m wrong. If you think I’m wrong, please tell me who those voters are, what districts they live in, what the demos are, etc. I’m really curious.

On the other hand, do you realize how much you would energize your base by passing a public option? Do you understand how excited the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party would be if real health care reform was passed? The voters would be there in 2010 and 2012, I guarantee you that.

Which is not to mention all the millions of uninsured people you’d be scoring big points with. These are people who would remember that the Democratic Party was there for them, and that the Republicans called them lazy good-for-nothings who can drop dead for all they care.

The wingnuts aren’t going to vote for you no matter what. And the great middle of this country would see that:

A) The President is a strong leader, and

B) That Congress sometimes gets things done and isn’t completely useless.

This should all be self-evident to anyone paying attention. I shouldn’t need to point it out. So what’s the holdup?

I think the holdup is a combination of:

1. Typical Democratic Party cowardice, backing down in the face of clowns like Joe Wilson rather than standing firm, denouncing their bullshit for what it is, and doing what you friggin’ campaigned on.

2. Ego.

3. $$$$$$$$$$$$. Which, by the way, you’d get plenty of from your base if you do the right thing on health care. And who gives a crap about the insurance companies fighting you in 2010 and 2012? It’s going to be sour grapes, and we’ll all know it.

By the by, nobody’s going to turn out for you in droves because you chose to be passionately centrist. Nobody gets jazzed about legislation that’s been moderated pointlessly.

And that’s the real kicker here: there’s nothing stopping you from passing a public option but you, and the rest of us know it. Sure, there could be good things in a bill that passes without a public option, but pardon us if we don’t see a history of legislation that benefits the people instead of the corporations. So no, we’re not going to take it on faith that a bill without a public option will work for the people, nor do we like your “trigger” garbage.

Do the right thing here. Pass a strong public option. The votes, money, and volunteers will be there. And who’s going to be turned off that is legitimately open to voting Democratic? I just don’t see it.

Cross-posted in Orange.

Sherrod Brown UNLOADS!

Sherrod Brown has come out with some pretty strong language in an interview he gave today over at TPM. It’s great to see a progressive in the Senate giving the White House the what for!


Translation of Current Traditional Media Coverage of Health Care

Volumes have been and should continue to be written about the downfall of the traditional media. Their obsession with process questions, and their “I’m bored” feelings toward discussions of substance, is painfully obvious to those paying attention. Beyond that, their reticence to point out the truth for fear of being called “liberal” is pathetic, and does a grave disservice to our democracy.

With that in mind, I offer the following translation of the spewings from the Looney Tunes characters in the traditional media as we confront one of the most important issues of our time.

“Mr. Senator, a handful of people who are out of their freakin’ minds say that the president wants to butcher the elderly. Is this true? Are these lunatics correct? Shouldn’t our public discourse be determined by people who have zero interest in solving our problems? Shouldn’t the media spend all its’ time debating the concerns of angry, armed psychopaths? Isn’t THAT the real issue here? The concerns of a fringe that is hell-bent on preventing people from doing anything remotely responsible? Shouldn’t we avoid reasonable, grown-up debates of the issues at all costs?”

“Now let me turn to you, Mrs. Cabinet Member. Who gives a flying fuck about what matters to people outside of Washington, D.C.? I certainly don’t, and neither should you. Well, unless they’re those psychos I mentioned earlier. Other than that, the great mass of this country who simply wants to know how the policies of their government are going to affect them – who gives a shit if they’re informed? Please answer only that question, and DO NOT veer off into an answer that involves a thoughtful discussion of anything of substance. I will grow tired of such shenanigans rather quickly, interrupt you before you can get very far, and move on to the next inane question.”

“Sorry Mrs. Cabinet Member! UT TUT TUT! Stop right there! I warned you, didn’t I? Didn’t I? Take that crap and tell it to somebody who cares!

Now then, Mr. Conservative Lobbyist Who Used To Be A Representative. We all know you’re being very genuine and honest when you say that Democrats want to do nothing but turn this country into a Stalinesque, murderous regime. After all, their thirty-year record of helping Republicans fellate the corporations that run this country is proof-positive of the fact that they are communists. So given that, please spend the next five minutes telling as many lies as possible, running your opponents’ names through the mud when their only crime is wanting to help out their fellow citizens, and shilling for your own corporate masters. Keep in mind that I will not call you on any of your bullshit, and will likely repeat much of it as conventional wisdom that everybody knows to be true.”

“Very good, sir! Good show! Now then, onto the token liberal we’ve brought onto the show today. For you viewers out there who aren’t used to us having anybody on the show who has a truly progressive viewpoint, remember that our policy is not to have them on because the only viewers who matter are those in the lunatic fringe of the far-right who simply aren’t interested in opposing points of view. And the only reason we have the token liberal on today is to beat up on them, and make it look like they’re the only one out there who’s crazy enough to believe that “helping people out,” “telling the truth,” “being compassionate,” “doing the right thing” junk. We specialize in liars, crooks, and hypocrits on this show, and by God we aim to keep it that way!

Now then, Token Liberal, why are you so full of shit? You say you want to help poor people, but don’t you actually want to slaughter them wholesale for kicks? Your worldview is that we should be caring, loving, honest people, but I’m going to ignore that and assume sinister intentions.

If you’re telling the truth, what you’re advocating will bankrupt our country. NEVERMIND! that Republicans are the ones who have caused most of our debt. UT TUT TUT! NO FACTS PLEASE! The Republicans and the lunatics tell me YOU’RE the one who bankrupts us, my lying eyes and the lying deficit figures be damned! So you’re obviously hell-bent on bankrupting this country!

OR, as I had previously suspected, you’re lying and you don’t give a fuck about anyone! And you want to KILL THEM ALL!!!

Please take the next fifteen seconds to respond before I allow you to be interrupted by Mr. Conservative Lobbyist Who Used To Be A Representative, who I will then allow to take up all your speaking time to spout off more lies and bullshit. You’re welcome.”

“Thanks for tuning in, everyone! I’m sure you’ll agree that my job is not to determine fact or ficiton, or to probe deeper into how your actual life will actually be affected by actual policies.

My job is to:

A) collect a six-figure salary for orally xeroxing talking points,

B) falsely make an equivalence between one side saying that 2 + 2 = 4.1 and the other side saying 2 + 2 = cheeseburgers and diarrhea and 37,000 (after all, in such a case BOTH sides are EQUALLY off-base! And if I pointed out how full of shit one side is, I’d be branded by Rush Limbaugh as liberal, and that would be so very, very bad! He’s a big, bad scary man, and his judgments and mentally unbalanced pronouncements to his zoo crew of fools are the most important thing ever!), and

C) ignoring all discussion of policy to focus 100% on lunatics, process questions, and the politics of the matter.

Be sure to tune in next week to make sure you’re properly informed! And don’t forget to take our online poll! After all this great stuff we just threw at you, you’ve got plenty to go with when deciding where you stand on the issues! Bye-bye!”

Comparison of Premium Increases and Wages

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

The non-profit, non-partisan group Families USA has begun releasing state-by-state reports comparing the rise in health insurance premiums against the rise of wages from 2000 to 2009. So far 18 state reports have been released, with the remaining states coming over the next few weeks.

Copies of reports for each state, in pdf format, can be found here.

The reports specifically look at premiums for families, and compare the increase in those family premiums with the rise in median income. And, surprise surprise, health insurance rates have skyrocketed compared to average wage increases. On average, for the 18 states reported on so far, family premiums increased 4.4 times as much as median wages between 2000 and 2009. The following is a spreadsheet I put together to summarize the results of each report:


[ratio is how many times faster premiums have risen compared to wages]

Forgiving what was not done to me

(Apologize at outset for length. Got longer than I planned. Will delete if this turns out to be silly or not appropriate.)

This is my first essay at Docudharma. My purpose for writing this here is that from my limited lurking about the community I have found that this is likely to be a forum where my personal, spiritual essay will find welcome readership.

I am trying to be much less judgmental, so I do not say the following with any bad feeling in mind: I found Docudharma from the usual place, and that place, while a community I enjoy, does not always seem open to the kind of particularly personal essay I am about to write, unless that diary can be translated into an immediate political message. I certainly enjoy the politics of almost everything, and will continue to be a member of that community, but Docudharma has an obvious metaphysical component that is very appealing to me, in addition to many supremely interesting characters.

That said, let’s begin.

And to be honest I don’t know quite how to begin, other than to come out and directly give the context for my thoughts as they evolve through my life and today specifically: my relationship with the folks has always been one of mutual attachment and not a whole lot else (at least from my perspective). They are two incredibly conflicted people, dealing with many delusions common to our species, and a few other delusions that are rather extreme.

While I firmly believe in the concept of reincarnation, and thus the realization that much of my attitude toward this world was not formed merely in this lifetime, it is also apparent that we cannot help but be shaped very deeply by our formative years. As my parents were prone to engaging in the kind of “love” that is dependent always upon disagreement, intense conflict, and unfortunate remarks, I learned that this is how people who “love” each other interact.

As might be expected, it became difficult for me as I came of age to develop healthy relationships. My emotional growth was stunted, as I had never truly come to understand what caring relationships look like when love moves from the conditional “I love you, but…” and “I love you if…” to simply “I love you.”

It took many failed relationships and rocky friendships for me to begin to see where other people might be operating in their feelings about, and reactions to, the people around them. In that time, I also began to discover Buddhism and to reject the Catholicism with which I was raised. The concepts just made sense. I connected the dots between the idea that attachment is suffering with all the expectations and limitations we put on the people we’re supposed to love – including ourselves.

It has occurred to me recently that it is very likely, bordering on certainty, that my personal karma and development through my past lives, and that my parents’ development through theirs, connected us in these lifetimes. That is to say, yes I learned about relationships from them, but if I had, in my previous lives, moved past such wisdom, I would not need to have acquired it in this one. And the same goes for them of course.

That said, here I am now. Somehow having gathered, at my age, a few gems of wisdom that they still lack. I say this not with any pretense, but to simply state the facts. Which leads us to the recent past.

About two years ago, my mother, who has for most of my life lived far away from me, was visiting family and friends on vacation. She noticed my Human Rights Campaign bumper sticker (the yellow = sign with blue around it) and asked what it meant. When I told her, she immediately blurted out, betraying the fear that courses through her daily, “They don’t think you’re gay, do they????” referring, apparently, to other drivers.

I told her it didn’t particularly matter to me. She didn’t respond to that, but likely kept it in mind as “evidence.” Later, for a reason I can’t quite recall, I mentioned the fact that I had many lesbian friends. This distressed her. Why on Earth would a young man have all sorts of lesbians for friends??? He MUST be gay!

Or so she told one of her sisters, as well as one of her brothers. Neither of them confronted me with this information, as they do not really care about such things, being social liberals from the Northeast. My aunt’s daughter, however, the cousin I am closest with, let me know (as happens so often) that my mother was out there telling everybody some supposed information that nobody is sure what to make of; this time the message was that I’m gay.

I called up my mother and asked her if this was true, that she was spreading rumors. She denied that it was. She then proceeded to ask a weird question about the success of the new relationship I was having with a woman (women being the gender I’ve always had relationships with, though I do identify as bisexual), and to suggest that if it isn’t going well sexually then there was probably a reason. I skirted around the bizarre sex question, as it certainly wasn’t something I wanted to talk about with my mother, though I did admit that I wouldn’t classify myself as straight.

In any event, it was obvious from her questioning that she was lying. She was lying to my face, and was further insulting me by pretending that I didn’t know she was lying. That I couldn’t see through the facade.

I have recently renewed my relationship with the uncle in question. He is a wise man, and has devoted his life to seeking pieces of the truth, wherever they may be. In one of his emails he confirmed my mother’s misplaced hysteria, and we talked further about the unbalanced state of mind she is in.

While I cherish the relationship I will continue to develop with him, it dawned on me when reading his message: I will never have a sane, remotely-well-adjusted relationship with the woman who birthed me. She is, quite plainly, psychotic. Incapable of acknowledging the truth, even if it were presented to her in a way that is obvious. I have suspected this to be the case long before now, but the confirmation I received drove the point home.

So many people walk their lives in incredible fear. My mother was sexually, physically, and verbally abused as a child, as were her siblings. This is obviously a huge part of her fear. My grandparents were sadistic, and also suffered greatly. My grandfather was shot in the neck on Iwo Jima, but survived and had my mother and aunts and uncles; yet, he became obsessed with death, even going so far as to drunkenly put a loaded gun in the mouths of his children.

He died when I was very young. So it goes. Or I would have likely kicked his ass myself by now. At least, that’s what I’ve always told myself. But he was clearly already going through abject misery, and took it out on those he “loved.” He beat my grandmother so severely that she left the family and didn’t show up again for more than 40 years. I have only ever seen her once in my lifetime. She was quite drunk at the time.

But the relationships many of the people in my family have had reminds me of people being interrogated who refer to their interrogators as their “friends.” How amazingly warped. And to be related to such warped people is a very odd experience indeed.

Now I come to the whole point of all this – forgiveness. I may never have the relationship I want with my mother, but what is it that I really “want”? I realize there is no need to be attached to any need I thought I had of this world.

There is nothing here, nothing in this emptiness, as we are all one, separated from our Source and lost in a dream. Perceiving ourselves as separate, projecting our fear onto everyone and everything we encounter. Always finding someway to place blame elsewhere for our suffering. So it is with my mother, and so it has been with all of us.

But I forgive. It is all a dream. In truth, it has not happened. None of any of this has happened.

That is not to say we shouldn’t strive to make the dream better, for we still have so much suffering to undo; but let us not become so believing in the suffering that we make it real.

I have not been wronged, for there is nobody out there to wrong me. It is only me here, the one “me” that is all of us. Any honest appraisal of “judge not, lest ye be judged” acknowledges that the real meaning of that phrase is that there is nobody else to judge – only yourself. You are your brother, and he is you.

So long as I make something that has “happened” to me real, I feel the suffering from it, and judge the perpetrator. In this case, my mother, who I should instead be forgiving for what she has not, in truth, done.

Here I shall end. I hope my wanderings have not been without merit.

Peace and forgiveness to you all, my brothers and sisters who are one with me.