Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oh Yes He Did

I don't suppose there's ever a reason to gloat when common sense wins out over fear and hatred, but right about now might be the proper time to hang out the "Mission Accomplished" banner. Of course, Obama lacks the propaganda machine inside the White House that served George Bush so well. But perhaps it's time to borrow a page from the GOP playbook and hire an Orwellian "phrase changer" like Frank Luntz, or a ruthless strategian like Karl Rove, only one with morals, and go on the offensive. The one thing the Bush machine understood about the gullibility of the American people is; "He who controls the message, controls reality." It should be noted that after a year of cajoling, reasoning, and extending so many olive branches that he could plant a vineyard, the President's Health Care Reform Act did not receive a single Republican vote. Their strategy, to obstruct and mislead for the purpose of regaining power, nearly worked; again.

During the final day of debate, the House Republicans got up, one after another, and repeated lie after lie. "This is a government takeover of health care:" Lie. "Medical care will be rationed and create long waits to see a governmentally designated doctor:" Lie. "Federal taxes will fund abortion:" Lie. And finally, the ghoulish "death panel" fantasy. Lie. I think the dumbest thing I witnessed all year was the sign held by some  misinformed, preppy suburban housewife at Rep. Steve Cohen's town hall meeting last August that read: "Don't Tell My GiGi How To Die." I assumed GiGi was the woman's grandmother, but for all I know it could have been her hamster. Well, Obama's not going to kill GiGi, or anyone else's Nana, though you may be inclined to believe differently from the GOP's hysterical ravings. Rep. John Boehner, who referred to health care reform as "Armageddon," got so exorcised during debate, he turned a deeper shade of orange. He predicted the passage of this bill would cost the Democrats their House majority in 2010, and ultimately, the White House. Of course, that would make Agent Orange the Speaker of the House, a spectre more terrifying than death panels.

The deranged Senator from South Carolina, Jim DeMint, was famously quoted as saying that health care reform would be Obama's "Waterloo," and an opportunity for the Republicans to "break him." Now that the bill has passed, the GOP is already saying that they will run on repealing the legislation in the mid-term elections, and predicting the destruction of the Democratic Party along with the Obama presidency. I'm not much of a political prognosticator (I was shocked when Kerry lost), but if history is any indicator, I'll take a crack at being a Barcalounger Nostradamus, and predict what is about to happen. When the fog of untruths dissipates and people realize the benefits they will receive, public opinion will shift to the side of the reformers, and we will wonder how we ever tolerated the big insurance cartels making medical decisions for doctors. The Democrats will lose seats in 2010, incumbents always do, but not enough to lose the House or stop the momentum of the progressives. As for the admonition that health care reforms won't kick in until 2014, I offer the General Motors situation as an object lesson.

When the government tried to save the American auto industry by bailing out GM, right-wing wailing began and only grew louder when Obama dismissed the company's CEO. Of course, Ronald Reagan disbanded an entire labor union, but his acolytes only cheered him for his bold resolve. Obama's actions caused GM to innovate, and viola, the electric hybrid appeared ready for the market. They had the technology all along, but refused to stop building gas thirsty land tanks and take an economic risk until they were forced to by their own mismanagement and governmental intervention. Same with the insurance companies. At this moment, there are enterprising insurance groups opening in order to capture all the potential new customers, and the printing presses are already rolling with mail solicitations that will offer health insurance with no pre-existing conditions. When the die has been cast, the company that waits four years to jump on the bandwagon will be the company that loses. Unlike the rabid radio ranters of the right, most rational people do not want Obama to fail because they understand that, if that happens, the country fails. The Republicans believe that since the Tea Party yahoos yell the loudest, they represent the majority. But the GOP's strategy of obfuscation and the stonewalling of progress in order to hamstring this president will backfire badly.

Over the weekend past, the Tea Party goons showed their true colors, other than white, displaying indefensible obnoxiousness by screaming "faggot" at Rep. Barney Frank, and "Kill the bill, nigger," at of all people, Rep. John Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement who was beaten in Selma on Bloody Sunday. For a minute, it looked like the bad old days of the early sixties, proving my axiom that the Tea Party is nothing more than the reconstituted George Wallace coalition. For those citizens with principled  objections to the reform bill, and who resent the caricaturization of the Tea Party movement as racist, I can only tell you that these fools say they're with you. The haters will still hate. That's their job. But the GOP's job should be to distance themselves from the lynch mob rather than embrace it. It is clear now that, regardless of the issue, the Republican Party's attempt to gut Obama's agenda will take precedence over the welfare of the nation. Any further progressive legislation will only happen over the GOP's bloated pachyderm carcass as they tack hard-right in anticipation of the next election. What an excellent opportunity for the emergence of a moderate Republican leader, if there are any left who haven't been purged from the party by the reactionaries. I guess they'll have to suffer a few more crack-back defeats, like the passage of health care reform, before they realize that "change" isn't neccessarily a bad thing.


Anonymous said...

This indeed is a take over of health care. Even Al Sharpton admitted that. What do you call it when government requires that you buy something you may not want and then use IRS goons to enforce it?Let's take it to the bottom line. When did government ever run anything better than the free market did? Let there be competition between the insurance companies. It would not be perfect but better than the cluster f**** the government will make of it. I agree changes need to be made but they are lying when they say this way will save money. I'll borrow an example I heard this morning. You remember when cell phones first came out? They were almost as big as a WWII walkie talkie. Now they are smaller than a pack of smokes. That's what the market does when you let it operate.
As far as the racial and gay slurs that has not been validated yet. Even if there were some fools that yelled something I don't believe that applies to all tea party folks. My friend you are drinking the "sky" kool aide.Chomsky and Alinsky that is.This is the philosophy Obama believes. That is that The USA is wrong fundamentally and should be changed. Hell he has told us that all along. Sorry but I don't agree.

Anonymous said...

Complete uninformed bullshit. I've worked in healthcare for 18 years and believe me, whoever wrote this is long on opinion and arrogance and clueless as to the reality of what's really going on in healthcare.Beyond that, I believe in the free market system. Hello !!
That's why people leave other countries and come here. Want to make an impact ?
address tort reform and lawsuit-driven medicine. Same old liberal message: 1.Nobody's really responsible for anything and 2. Any problem can be solved by throwing enough money at it (ALWAYS someone else's money) Hasn't worked in "The Holy Land" has it ?
3. Seize the High moral ground, put a lofty spin on it and hang a bad name on anyone who disagrees."You Sir...you are a noble victim, give me your vote and you will get something free (which has been taken from someone with a work ethic)
Want socialism ? Go live in Europe ! I like capitalism, but I can see where under achievers
might not. Dare to live in reality, not the Hollywood/muscian obligatory mind set. Please take me off your email list (when you fiinally put the bong down) Don't send me anymore
of this tired hippy -dippy bullshit.Gloat while you can. The President rammed a bill down America's throat that clearly most did not want. He will be remembered a a divider.

DP in S.C. said...

Excellent editorial, old friend.

The grand old party has sunk to such new lows, and has proved to be so transparently obstructionist, that I don’t know who in his or her right mind could place trust in anyone associated with it for the foreseeable future. I think the Republicans truly are clueless at this point.


Anonymous said...

Well, I think you have to start somewhere! This is a GOOD start. Not the start I wanted, with a public option, or Medicare for all, but by passing this legislation, if enforces the idea, that health-care is a RIGHT, not a privlige! In this great country, every living being should have access to health care, education, food and shelter. No excuse to provide less. We are a compassionate nation. Not suckers mind you, but people who know that we must care for the least of us, if we hope to improve the lives of all of us.

What kills me is all the morphodites (my own spelling) who think because they empty bedpans, that they're qualified to say what's good for the nation. A medical doctor should treat my physical ailments, but morons like Coburn, and Frist, and other docs in the GOP are no more qualified to say what's good for the nation's healthcare than I am!

I hope that congress builds on this, and goes the route that many humans (not just liberals, tea partiers, conservatives, et al) think is good for their own progress. This needs to be good for people.

I don't usually like P. Krugman's op/eds too much, but it should be compulsory reading for anyone who cares about others. Fear Strikes Out!!!!!! You said it brother!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Oh! I forgot to mention, in answer to a previous poster's question, "when did the government ever run anything better than the free market did"?

How's about Medicare, Vs Die as you go. How About Social Security, Vs invest for yourself in the stock market.
How about The Fuckin Military of which I'm a proud combat veteran, vs. do it yourself mercanary gangs?

Try delivering your own mail, vs the Post office, keeping your money under the mattress vs insurance against all the failing greedy banks, and setting aside lands for public use so your family has a place to vacation? What a stupid question! Course, it's just my opinion, AMF


davethedog said...

Holla Dat! (more later)

Anonymous said...

If it is unconstitutional to require folks to buy health insurance do you think I can let the cop that pulls me over know that it is also unconstitutional to make me buy auto insurance?

Gregg H Grinspan MD said...

To both of the very bold "anonymouses".

I am Director of an Emergency Department. Every day I see people who work two full time jobs and have multiple children to feed, clothe, and shelter. Many of them own their own business. They own a restaurant, or a flower shop, or they have their own small construction company. Some are carpenters, roofers, stone masons. They make their own money. They pay their own bills. They make 35-50k/year.

I also see people in their 40s and 50s who have recently...in the past 18 months or so...lost jobs that they had worked for years, some for over 20. Their COBRA ran out and they come to me. Some are more embarrassed than others, but they are sick or injured and they have to see a doctor.

None of them have medical insurance. None of them. Because for the roofer to buy it for himself, and for his wife who is a part time medical assistant (because the nursing home will not hire full timers as they would then have to pay for medical insurance which at this point is so expensive to the nursing home that it would put their business close to bankruptcy), and for his 3 children it would cost him over $10,000 a year. Those are post tax dollars, anonymous guys. And these are otherwise healthy people. Whoops if any of them get hurt. Whoops---- bye bye to their house. Whoops say bye bye to their small business and any employess that they might have.


Now, listen up, anonymouses. I have to presume that either:
1. You have medical insurance and have had it your whole lives. WOW! Good for you.
2. You were rich kids who never really had to get your hands dirty with any of those other people who are also citizens of the country.... because you had always thought this was your very own country and that all those other people were just there to work for you and your daddy.
3. You are ignorant and have been lead to believe that you actually have a working brain to make larger determinations than "what's for dinner, honey"....because the idea that these other people are sucking the blood of their country (not just your country, jerks), or that providing health care for people who by reasons out of their control should be not be allowed to get health care in the richest country on earth, or that we should take dollars that could go to the care of all of us and instead give it to some big corp so that it makes a lot of money...

Or it's ok for the insurance company to say,"Yo, you sick. You cost us too much. Yo, go die, asshole." Or, "Yo, wee don care if yo chile has asthma/diabetes/a fractured femur/pneumonia. Yo chile can die, asshole." "Wee gotta make dee money. Wee gotta make dee money. Wee gotta make dee money."

If you think that this is ok, you're one of the idiots who can be swayed to think 2 plus 2 is 3. I see those kinds of folks, too. They are called Republicans and I swear they tell me that the fact that I say 2 plus 2 is 4 is JUST MY OPINION!

Go lose your insurance, boys. No fault of yours. You've worked hard. You didn't plan on then developing coronary artery disease. Not in your plans. You now need to be seen and need an operation. Come see me in my ED. I will want to know that you are one of the anonymouses. I will look at you and your daughter who is pregnant and is worried sick about you and I will say............ I am so sorry. I know you never ever ever thought you'd be in the situation that you cursed for all those years. But...........I'll take care of you.

When you know that relief, and only then, jerks, you'll have an education that you need very badly before you actually hurt yourselves with your stupidity along with all the other people you are trying to hurt.

Until then, shut up.
Good bye.

Anonymous said...

"Rep. John Boehner, who referred to health care reform as "Armageddon," got so exorcised during debate, he turned a deeper shade of orange."


Add Mitch McConnell puffing out his toad-like throat sack, and that will be a real carnival show (as if it's not already).

Anonymous said...

"When the fog of untruths dissipates and people realize the benefits they will receive, public opinion will shift to the side of the reformers, and we will wonder how we ever tolerated the big insurance cartels making medical decisions for doctors. "

I'm afraid that you underestimate the power of cognitive dissonance among the irrational rabble, especially when they only listen to Fox, Beck, and Limbaugh.

Alan Perlman said...

Dr. Gregg, just because we opposed this bill doesn’t mean we don’t want healthcare reform. We just don’t think a 2,700++ page bill is how to do it. We have a company that employs 113 people. We provide health care insurance, 401K & profit sharing. We pay well above the going rate for our industry. Our main business was recycling. Back then we employed 300+. We have since sold that division. The new owners have increased employment so no one lost their job. In the 80’s a bureaucrat defined our product that we sold as waste. That definition cost our industry over 150,000,000. That was just one definition that caused this. I spent 9 years of my life dealing with Washington, with our trade association to get relief. We had the support of both political parties, the EPA and the Environmental community and it still took 9 years. If we did not get this addressed by congress our company and industry would not still exist. I have read a lot of this bill. It is chock full of as designed by the Secretary, rules to be made by Secretary, ect. ect. Why 2,700++ pages. Control, Control, Control.

I know how you feel about the previous administration and I agree. If Bush and his cronies are such devious people with geed and power causing what they do, what makes you think that the present administration is any better. All governments strive for power by promising what they will do for the people. How they accomplish these stated goals is where the questions are. Have you read the bill? If not the whole thing, at lest read a random 300 pages and then tell me you trust it or understand it.

The sad thing about this is that the balance of power will probably shift to the republicans in the next election. I won’t like what the do either. Our government was set up to be run by a citizen legislature and until we get back to that we’ve got problems.

Cary Wolfson said...

On target once again, Randy. Personally I'd rather see Medicare extended to everyone, but the political scumsuckers of both parties are too beholden to corporate interests for anything that sensible to happen.

As for political blowback on the Dems, Charlie Musselwhite sent me this observation that apparently came from Thom Hartmann:

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum says that while he opposes the health care reform plan, its passage is a major defeat for the Republican Party. In his words, it will be the GOP's "Waterloo." Frum points out "radical" Republicans like Jim DeMint who made the decision to not negotiate with President Obama, and instead they all focused on a strategy of obstruction, failed the Republican Party. As a result, Frum says, Democrats will be able to claim full credit for passing a bill with many popular provisions, leaving the GOP out in the cold. Frum's analysis is right, and if this makes it through the Senate, it may well be that the 2010 election will actually increase the Democratic majority in Congress, just like during the first term of the FDR presidency.

Gregg said...

Alan--I'm sorry this is late but I just got out of work. I wanted to get back to you. I know you are an intelligent man and you have some idea of what it takes to actually get something done in this democracy.

I'll tell you, Alan, I think the bill had to be as large as it is in order to make sure it got passed at all. The main strokes in this bill are to insure that the insurance companies begin to be held (pilloried) to decency, and for the people in this country to begin to have the opportunity to gain health if they lose it. Those are the guts of it and we didn't have them to this degree before yesterday.

I disagree with you about Obama. I believe, by watching him for over 3 years, that he is the real deal. I believe he cares about human decency, is highly moral and ethical, and is as little laden with ulteriors as any politician I can remember.

And I truly believe after watching some of the words that came out of the mouths of some of our Republican Senators and Congressmen that many of them are dirt. They came from and pander to the narrowest of our people...the unintelligent poor, the isolated privileged wealthy, and the easily swayed frustrated socio-economic-emotionally challenged losers. They make me ashamed that other people in the world can see these cowards who were elected by us. I mean it, Alan. When I see Boehner stand up and lie and become dramatic and do anything he can to obfuscate reality so as to create doubt in the mind of the constituency I referred to above, it makes me viscerally ill.

I hope you and your family are kicking some ass down there in Memphis and truly enjoying life. I mean that. Because, one of these days, the Shiva call is for us, old man. And when I'm in Memphis and if I happen to see you on the street, the first thing I'll do is give you a big warm hug that'll take your shoes off the sidewalk. (Been working out. Very nearly a behemoth now.)


SIREEN said...

Yes He Did! Thank you Jesus!!! Speaking of Health Care,I was watching American Idol(nothing grabbed me 'cept a Melody wannabe hippie girl & a big old strapping soul brother- both singing there azzzzzzzzz off!) when I got this call from the good Fr Farken that St. Christopher Ellis(who posted last week on the BAH!) was appearing on Justified on FX.

Me being curious, turned it on while I was making some chicken salad. Well, my back was turned from the tube while I was chopping away...I hear this familiar voice "ON YOUR BELLY! HANDS ON YOUR NECK! YOU GOT 5 SECONDS!" What? I heard those words before! Yes! It was him! Chris, from Miss Wanda's Cafe on Madison, staring me right in the face. My heart was throbbing way out of control. He had these Bret Favre whiskers & a cocked shotgun aimed at me. 'Cept for the whiskers...brought back some fond memories. You see he had an edgy sense of fondness.

Oh well! Fr. Ferghus sez he has rededicated his life & has married a fine California girl and is making love his aim. To think he had to go to Hollywood to do all that! I had him in the palm of my hands. Hmmmmmmm. Forgive me Lord! In His Service! SIREEN

The Mudgirl said...

Sireen, You old sweetie girl,You are right, the little hippie chick is great and I think it will be between she and Big Mike (soul man). Boy this is a fun one. Come see me sometime gir'frien'. XXOO Muddy

Joe Whimster said...


Just scored a nice copy if "My Way of Thinking" from eBay at last. A monster record. I'm a big 60's music fan - check out my own blog www.northeastbeast.blogspot.com if you've the inclination - and just wanted to say what a great track you produced. Interesting to read your blog too, as an outsider from Scotland we see very little about US domestic politics with any regularity but this has had a fair bit of coverage. I'm amazed at the hostility and puts into perspective some of what we take for granted over here.
Anyway, thanks again.


Anonymous said...

Great column, and way to tell it like it is, Dr. Grinspan! Universal healthcare is, quite simply, the RIGHT THING TO DO!

SIREEN said...

Thank you Melody for your kind words! You and that Spuddy Man of yours has been an inspiration to my well being. Thank you Jesus!

I appreciate the kindness from Amanda on a previous post but I have a feeling Amanda Reckenwith is following me! My Mamma- the Great Black Pantheress- The former Mid-South Lady Wrestling Champion warned me of a bearded lady of that name! I am watching my backside! XXs&OOs back to you!SIREEN

Sardou said...

Wow. The original post, Randy, was great and the comments since, just as compelling. Alan makes one good point, the only one I have ever heard in opposition to the bill that I think has any merit at all. 'It is so long that nobody really knows what is in it'. So what I say. A bad start is better than no start at all. And to anyone who passionately thinks this bill should not have been passed, I must say that you no doubt, have health care coverage. Not that it will definitely work if and when you need it but no doubt, you think it will. If you believe this bill should not have been passed, go tell that to the parents of a child born with a pre-existing condition and in time, tell it to anyone with a pre-existing condition. Go tell it to someone who has a bad accident or is diagnosed with a serious illness and gets dropped by their insurer after having paid premiums for years, or whose treatment costs go way over their limits. Go tell it to a working family whose rates were jacked up by 50%. Go tell it to anyone who has been adversely impacted by the greed of the insurance industry. Keep in mind that virtually anyone who isn't in need of health care reform is someone who but for the grace of God, is fortunate enough not to have been denied coverage - not yet. The soaring cost of health care would never have been impeded without this healthcare bill and even it won't help in that regard as much as it needs to. Waiting for the insurance companies to fix things themselves will get the same results as did waiting for Wall Street to fix themselves. We are all the victims of that greed. Look at the history of modern day politics. Any notion that a Republican President or Congress will enact healthcare reform that adversely impacts the profits of insurance companies is a pipe dream. Healthcare reform had to happen and if it was to going to happen, it was now - or never. Going forward, fixes can be enacted. If the Republicans want to run on 'repeal', they will go the way of the dinosaurs. Imperfect as it may be, this bill had to pass if the country was to move in a direction that it needed to move. If you don't like it, work to fix it. If you think repeal is the proper fix, then you just don't get it. Nobody will lose the coverage they have because of this bill. Nobody's parents or grandparents will become the victims of a death panel because there won't be one, not any more. This bill doesn't create them, it eliminates them as they already existed. They were called insurance companies.

kwk said...

There is another side of this Healthcare stuff that seems to have gotten lost in all the divisive politics. If you look at the people who have been working seriously to develop a true universal healthcare plan for the U.S. the names Woolhandler and Himmelstein keep showing up. They've spent decades working on and advocating for a single payer system and one could assume their opinion of the current situation should be counted. This is their press release:

"As much as we would like to join the celebration of the House's passage of the health bill last night, in good conscience we cannot. We take no comfort in seeing aspirin dispensed for the treatment of cancer.
"Instead of eliminating the root of the problem -- the profit-driven, private health insurance industry -- this costly new legislation will enrich and further entrench these firms. The bill would require millions of Americans to buy private insurers' defective products, and turn over to them vast amounts of public money.
Physicians for a National Health Program

On a local note, if John Eisenberg, MD, MBA, had not passed away in 2002 (brain cancer) he would have been intimately involved in any healthcare policy the government developed. John graduated 1964 from White Station High, was voted "Most Likely To Succeed" in that class, a no brainer but possibly one of the few times that the person actually exceeded the expectations, and there was really no limit as to how far he could advance within the HHS.

An issue of the journal Health Services Research was dedicated to Eisenberg (HSR Tribute) among the many other tributes, e.g., America's Top Doc and Legacy Lecture.

Not just DD and John's family, but the whole country, lost a lot with his passing. . .


Anonymous said...

We can't pay for the entitlements we have now. The post office and social security are in the red. I'm 59 and work my balls off and there won't be any ss left when I want to retire. Yeah paint me a mean conservative but I say we will be broke and won't be able to help anyone in a few years. You guys don't seem to remember economics 101. Oh and by the way I'm not rich and had everything handed to me as Dr Greg said. Fuck both of you.
Steve Spear

Anonymous said...

to that last anonymous who just offered to "fuck me", what do you look like? Please send photo.. Your place or mine? Be seein ya!