Give ‘em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle ‘em
Give ‘em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather ‘em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?
What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you’re just disgusting?
Razzle dazzle ‘em
And they’ll never catch wise!
Give ‘em the old flim flam flummox
Fool and fracture ‘em
How can they hear the truth above the roar?
Back since the days of old Methuselah
Everyone loves the big bambooz-a-ler
When you’re in trouble, go into your dance
Though you are stiffer than a girder
They’ll let you get away with murder
Long as you keep ‘em way off balance
How can they spot you’ve got no talent
Razzle Dazzle ‘em
And they’ll make you a star!
(From the film Chicago)
On Friday, July 31 Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman, honorary members of the “Blue Dog” Democrat Party caucus, agreed to allow the single-payer healthcare bill (HB 676) to go to a floor vote before the end of the year. Pelosi said earlier this year that “single-payer is off the table.” For some reason when Pelosi and Waxman make this kind of commitment I hear the voice of Jon Lovitz in the background saying “Yeah! That’s the ticket! Why of course, we’ll let them have a vote on the single-payer bill, yeah, that’s the ticket!”
A young woman friend explained me that when some creep says to her “hey babe how about giving me your number” while she is out having a drink with her friends she gives him the telephone number of “The Rejection Hotline.” The creep goes away and does not understand until the next day when he “gets the message” on the Rejection Hotline. Then it’s too late.
While it is clear that President Obama is bucking for the coveted title of “Most Incompetent President”, desperately trying to edge out James Buchanan, the Congressional Democrats have long since held the title of “Most Incompetent Legislators”. With only brief rises to competence during the 1930s and 1960s the Democrats have abandoned any pretense of actually representing the people who voted for them.
Why then suddenly are Pelosi and Waxman giving the “liberal” Democrats a vote on single-payer health care? Waxman is the dandruff-eating pimple-nibbler who cut the outrageous deal with Obama and the Blue Dog Democrats which ensured that health care reform legislation would be unsustainable, and would consequently put off meaningful reform for another 20 years. When over 70% of Americans and over 59% of American physicians want single-payer health care, why would the corporate owned Democrats risk the passage of the single-payer healthcare bill?
The move came about somewhat as a fluke. New York Congressman Anthony Weiner threw a curveball. He introduced an amendment that would have created Medicare for the entire nation into the Energy and Commerce Committee healthcare markup session. That blew Waxman away! Nevertheless, Weiner was so surprised when Waxman said he would allow a vote on single-payer healthcare, he made Waxman repeat the statement making sure that it was clear and on the record. I guess we can see how much Representative Weiner trusts Pelosi and Waxman! They are the moral equivalent of a pair of leeches.
BY THEIR VOTE SHALL YE KNOW THEM
Largely the vote is seen as symbolic but at least for the first time, the concept of universal single-payer healthcare: government-funded, privately delivered health care will be given public exposure to the nation. Furthermore, when the bill comes to a vote, members of Congress will be forced to declare a position. When the bill fails, as is expected, Democrat rank-and-file should understand that the “Blue Dog” Democrats are, in essence, Republicans. Just as the Republicans had their think tank “Project for a New American Century” the Democrats have their “Progressive Policy Institute” which is anything but progressive. It is in fact the think tank of the so-called moderate or Blue Dog Democrats and is right in sync with PNAC.
It’s important to understand this reality because the Democrat Party’s talking point disseminators, the Democrats’ version of Rush Limbaugh, as well as the average Democrat voter, appear bewildered that health care reform has taken so long given that the Democrats have an overwhelming majority in both houses. But of course there is simply not an overwhelming majority of “Democrats” in the House or the Senate.
The Blue Dog Democrats are in effect Republicans. There are about 52 of them in the House and a handful of “unofficial members” in the Senate. While the House Blue Dogs actually have a caucus and a website,the best guess as to whom the Senate members are includes: Evan Bayh of Indiana, Tom Carper of Delaware, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Mark Udall of Colorado, and Mark Warner of Virginia.
If President Obama had any concept of what it means to be a Chief Executive he would have brought pressure to bear on the Blue Dogs through the power of the bully pulpit as soon as he took office. He should have made it clear that any Democrat who opposes single-payer will face a challenger in the next primary. He should have kicked Pelosi and Reid in their collective butt to discipline House and Senate members to fall behind the House and Senate versions of the single-payer legislation. He should have done that for the Employee Free Choice Act as well. Just as the Employee Free Choice Act has been gutted, if Obamacare passes — that means any form of a public option which still allows the existence of private insurance companies — meaningful healthcare reform will be put off for another 20 years.
A MOMENT OF COURAGE
Up until this point the “Liberal” Democrats — the single-payer advocates — the antiwar Democrats — have essentially behaved like sniveling cowards having nothing to say as the various versions of a “public option” wash away the hope for meaningful health care reform. Usually when people like the liberal Democrats call the Suicide Hotline they are advised, “Go ahead; do it.”
To their credit however the liberal Democrats reacted swiftly when the conservative Democrats — 52 Blue Dog members of the House — said that they might block the healthcare bill from moving forward through the Energy and Commerce Committee. The liberals issued a letter bitterly attacking Waxman’s deal saying:
We regard the agreement reached by Chairman Waxman and several Blue Dog members of the Committee as fundamentally unacceptable. This agreement is not a step forward toward a good healthcare bill, but is a large step backwards.
Representative Lynn Woolsey of California said at a news conference “we have compromised, and we can compromise no more.”
NO HEALTH CARE PLAN IS BETTER THAN OBAMACARE
Just one day before Pelosi and Waxman agreed to permit the vote on single-payer healthcare, advocates of single-payer health held a press conference at the National Press Club. They unanimously urged Congress to defeat “Obamacare” which is defined as a weak or no public option plan which is bound to break the bank and not cover tens of millions of Americans; pretty much what we have in the United States currently. Dr. David Schneider — Obama’s personal physician for 22 years — said at this conference that he opposed Obama’s plan because it’s “a bad program that will set health reform back….It will give people a sense that something has been done — and it hasn’t been done…It’s a bad bill….No bill [at all would be] better than this bill….It will make things more complicated than ever.”
Sidney Wolfe, from Public Citizen said of the various “public option” plans that they are “false promises. It’s incumbent upon us to oppose something that cannot work.”
Jim Ferlo, a state Senator from Pittsburgh said he would “rather wait to get a single payer plan than any half baked Obama plan… [Obamacare is] just not going to work. It’s not sustainable. Any time you see Harry and Louise in paid commercials in the millions financed by big Pharma — now backing the Obama plan, and spending millions of dollars in daily commercials in favor of Obama’s plan — I say hold onto to your wallets. Something’s wrong.”
Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program said the Obama legislation “will not address the fundamental problems we are facing. It will not control costs.” Katie Robbins of Healthcare Now said her group would not support it even with the Kucinich amendment which would allow states to enact single-payer healthcare legislation.
Seeing liberal Democrats stand up on their hind legs is incredibly refreshing. It is as though we went back 500 years and heard Martin Luther say to the Church of Rome, “Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders” (Here I stand, I can do no differently). A dangerous position for someone to take back in those days when people who challenged authority were often given the choice of cold chop or a hot steak! Perhaps it is even more startlingly reminiscent of Milton’s account of Lucifer when he looked into the face of God and said “non serviam” (“I will not serve”). Everyone remembers what happened to good old Lucifer however!
THE BLUE DOGS
The reason the Blue Dogs have been able to swing so much weight is because they issue ultimatums — “if you don’t do things our way, we will throw your crummy healthcare plan in the shredder.”
If the Blue Dogs had written Patrick Henry’s speech it might have sounded something like “give me liberty or give me a reasonable facsimile thereof.” Instead of saying “I am Spartacus” we probably would have heard Blue Dog Roman slaves say “I am Spartacus…er…but only figuratively… I mean…er… HE is Spartacus.” A Blue Dog Benjamin Franklin might have been heard saying “those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve a little peace and quiet.”
The Blue Dogs are fiscal conservatives. They support pro-gun legislation, free trade, bankruptcy and tort reform, have anti-abortion voting records, oppose amnesty for economic refugees (called “illegal immigrants” by the mainstream media as well as the Blue Dogs), and they oppose welfare and entitlements. These positions would constitute an excellent platform upon which to build a party. But of course there already is a party with such a platform. It is called the Republican Party.
THE TYRANNY OF THE DUOPOLY
If the 85 House Democrats who pledged their support for HR 676 (John Conyer’s single-payer healthcare bill) remain firm and declare they will not support Obamacare or any other health care Reform Act than HR 676 and drew a “line in the sand”, then at least they would get a hell of a lot of press and the bill might actually stand a chance of passing. Unfortunately none of them have said “no” to Obamacare. Their moment of defiance was short-lived and mostly rhetorical.
Alarmingly, when the “liberal” Democrats acquiesce so easily to the Republicans even within their own party we find ourselves living in what Michael Parenti calls one “the worst forms of tyranny”. This is not one of those tyrannies “we rail against” but one of those insidious types of tyranny “that so insinuate themselves into the imagery of our consciousness, and the fabric of our lives, as not to be perceived as tyranny.” It is the tyranny of the duopoly.
To live as if our choices make any real difference in the long run may be the act of a fool, but to live as if they do not, that is the act of a coward.
– Albert Camus