Monday, July 13, 2009

Congressman, we need to talk for a minute

You know, this is kind of disconcerting. Our friend Jane Hamsher, as you know, really believes, as I do, that you need to TAKE THE PLEDGE and refuse to vote for any bill that does NOT contain a public option for healthcare. She points out some of the bills on which you have not voted as you had indicated you would; while I understand that compromise is occasionally necessary, it is not ALWAYS necessary, not when the Democrats have the majorities they do in each House.

I also understand the term used often by our hero Ted Kennedy, that "the perfect is the enemy of the good". However, in this case, I'd like to turn that spin around and say that, in the instance of the public option, half-assed and inadequate is the enemy of the necessary and the acceptable.

Look, I KNOW you know this, and that you have had your name on a bill with public option from the day you arrived. We know that in your heart, you know that taking the pledge is the right thing to do here. However, as Jane pointed out, you said this before on the war and then voted on the final vote, FOR the supplemental.

I know that, as a member of leadership, you are pushed to whip folks into making a vote for a cobbled-together bill. This, however, makes it even MORE crucial that you take this stand; it tells leadership that NO BILL will pass without a public option. Because any bill WITHOUT a public option is worthless and meaningless.

As one of your friends and supporters for 30 years, I also give you this very real reason to TAKE THE PLEDGE: if you vote for a bill WITHOUT public option, you will give Mayor Herenton the one thing he does not have right now.

A SERIOUS, VALID POLICY-BASED CAMPAIGN ISSUE. I can hear him right now stumping in New Chicago and Greenlaw, in Binghamton and Bethel Grove, telling everyone there how you sold them out on the most important issue that we face, showing how you really don't know the community as much as you claim.

You and I both know this can happen, and WILL happen if you don't vote for a bill with public option.

Look, let me help give you some cover on this. Right now, I am going to ask my readers to take a minute to call your office in DC at (202) 225-3265 or here in Memphis at (901) 544-4131 so that we can get it on record that your constituents are besieging your office and that you HAVE to TAKE THE PLEDGE. If you get enough calls, as others have received, the leadership will have no choice but to understand.

We ARE trying to pin you down and make you commit. If you and enough of your colleagues do so, there will be no chance that the Blue Dogs and the Goopers can stop public option, and we'll be on the way to making healthcare work in America.

If not, well, let's just say that I'd rather have to call Congressman Cohen's office than Congressman Herenton's office, but if you back down on public option, I may be stuck with the latter instead of the former.

UPDATE: when you make that phone call, do us all a favor and go here to provide some information on the fabulous WHIP TOOL!


Anonymous said...

the immature is the enemy of the realistic, but if the idea is to push the Congressman, his local office says he'll be in the office at about 3:45 CST to take calls personally. Don't know if I heard that right, but if you want to jam the phone lines, go for it. I made my calls last week.

Anonymous said...

uh, CDaylightTime

captainkona said...

"half-assed and inadequate is the enemy of the necessary and the acceptable."

Right fucking on.

Cohen is the shit, not doubt about it. But holding all those we vote for to the test is our job. Him...Obama...whoever.

He'll do his if we do ours.

Anonymous said...

I heard something different. Congressman Cohen is willing to look at all the facts and proposed solutions before he makes a decision.

I like to look at all my options,look for and work towards compromise,if needed, before I make commitments, don't you?

Steve Steffens said...

Except that we KNOW what the best option is, and we're trying to keep the Blue Dogs from stealing it from us. I don't trust leadership to fight hard enough to get this through.

Anonymous said...

Trust is no longer an absolute. It has become instead a negotiable commodity in politics, postmodernism, general relationships and seemingly every facet of life. The "liberalism" espoused since the rise of particularization and balkanization of a human community into what Harold Bloom calls the "politics of resentment" over the last thirty years has helped make such realities possible. The beloved community advocated, sought and died for is only a rhetorical shell of its former glorious self. That's it.

Anonymous said...

You don't KNOW what the best option is until you've lived under it.

We know which one our heart, mind and gut TELL us is the best option, the one that fits with our ideology, etc. And we know that the scare tactics from the right (see "Harry and Louise" of old) are misleading. Bureaucrats already decide our fate; they just work for insurance companies instead of the government.

But a public option is expensive, and in order to carry the expense, it's entirely possible that smokers, the overweight, etc. may have to pay more or wait longer for something under a public plan.

Me, I've lived under managed care/HMOs/PPO's and seen good and bad things in each system with regard to access/expense/gatekeeping, etc. I had surgery once for eighteen bucks--that's not available in Tennessee. Memphis is a medical hub, so if you have an indemnity plan you pay through the nose.

I'm not sure how to solve the evening out of costs to the people when they live all over the country in different economies, under single payer. I'm sure I'd like to try, but I can't claim we "know" the best option.

Steve Steffens said...

The point is, unless we push hard enough, we will never get the chance, because the insurance companies do not want to serve anyone other than their stockholders.

Even a good guy like Steve is under pressure to cave, and we have to push back to make sure he doesn't.

As for the Anon who keeps ranting against liberalism, what's YOUR solution? You offer none, just rantings against modern society, with a seeming longing for things as they were in 1910, not the cusp of 2010.

When you have some solutions, I'd love to hear them; otherwise, it's hard to take you seriously.

captainkona said...

It smells like Centrism in here.

Suggestions of spineless capitulation and "compromise" is what empowered the Bush regime for eight long, miserable years.

We have the overwhelming majority and have no need of kissing Republican ass.
Were it not for the spineless Center, all of this would be said and done as we speak.

We're missing golden opportunities right now and LWC understands that.
We hope Mr. Cohen does too.

Pragmatism is a virtue of the cowardly. If we want to maintain the majority we need to put our foot on the Right's neck and grind until it snaps.

Steve Steffens said...

Captain, you are awesome, thank you for saying what I didn't have the guts to say, I appreciate it.

Cohen is under pressure, I believe, from the leadership NOT to commit, while we, as much as we hate pressuring our friend, have to push back against this.

Without public option, any bill is as useless as tits on a boar hog.

captainkona said...

You have more guts than you give yourself credit for.

It's difficult to keep it real when the voices of apathy are constantly chirping.

"Oh, compromise, that's how it works"(with plausible lisp reflecting excessive femininity)

Yeah, that's how it works for the enemy. What would have happened if we gave Nazi Germany back 50% of it's strongholds for the sake of "compromise"?

Keep up the good work, my friend.

Anonymous said...

@captain: One clue of the bankruptcy of an argument is the use of the word "Nazi". See Rush and femi-Nazi. Once the term "Nazi" is trotted out, rational discourse ends, if ever it started.

Compromising and being a pragmatist is not the same as advocating a death camp/capitulation to an empire grab. Pragmatism is a virtue of the cowardly? I think not. Pragmatism is a virtue of anyone who pauses to consider the real-life consequences of what they're doing.

Calling either Steve Cohen or Barack Obama (or supporters) a Nazi is getting deep into Nikki Tinker territory. It is not functionally different from calling the democratic candidate an "appeaser" as the right did with Obama during the campaign.

There are real, tough questions and answers to be debated on health care. One example: if we put everyone into the health care system Congress has, as a start, or made Congress give up their health care benefits until they came up with a plan, would we use a Washington, D.C. fee for whatever service? If Steve Jobs had undergone his famous liver transplant in California, or in Washington DC, or Memphis, would it cost the same and the waiting list be the same under single-payer? Would he be means-tested out of consideration?

The great middle is the people you're going to have to convince. They are going to be bombarded by Harry-and-Louise, Part Two. (You'll lose your doctor, you'll wait two years for services, blah, blah.)

You may win them over by counter-scare and name-calling, who knows? But they will go with you further and stay with you longer toward health care reform if you are able to articulate why and how a public option can work, instead of saying it's just your belief that that's what Americans "should" want and anyone not on board is a demon.

Anonymous said...

@Steve: "The insurance companies do not want to serve anyone but their stockholders."

I'm no fan of insurance companies, for many reasons. But I was once involved in litigation against the manufacturer of a defective, fraudulently-promoted medical device. The insurance company, while not blameless, actually acted as a voice of reason and pressure vs. their client, the drug company/device manufacturer.

In another example, I once fought with a health care provider over benefits for a loved one. In that context, they were the enemy. At the same time, I had a government 457 plan (it's like a 401-K) whose holdings included the kind of companies I was fighting against. In other words, I was one of the evil stockholders.

It's not just a matter of fighting against evil entrenched interests--it's a matter of figuring out intertwined interests. I have invested in my own destruction; so have you. In that context, preaching rings hollow.

Steve Steffens said...

Anon 5:00, I believe you misread the good Captain's last comment, he did NOT call Cohen a Nazi. Do you work for Fox News?

We have compromised all of our hard-won freedoms and rights away, and this country is on its way to being a right-wing hellhole, it's time to stand and FIGHT.

Steve Steffens said...

And, to follow up, it's mighty damned hard to fight with reason when the right-wingers shout you down on corporate-owned media.

they need a collective punch in the nose.

Anonymous said...

As per the Cracker's questions from earlier today, I have offered on several occasions alternative suggestions to health care issues as well as other matters facing our society. The Cracker knows it as he has responded to most of my comments. He is, however, as ever engaged in comments he believes will dismiss what those of us who believe in the primacy and effacaciousness of free markets. Rather than answering my comments with policy alternatives, he wants to dismiss anything he does not wish to read as little more than, as he said here, neanderthalism from us whom he decrees as living in 1910. We have had almost forty years of the liberalism he espouses and, by his refusal to answer my questions about, for example, inner city education or one-party rule in Chicago, the Cracker seems to admit that he cannot answer them. I might suggest that rather than myself living in 1910, the Cracker has buried his head in the glories of 1965 and revelling in the advent of the Great Society. Unfortunately, those efforts did not create a unfied society of equals, but the birth of demands for multiple societies, each rooting their claims in "the politics of resentment." These ever-increasing and insatiable demands have subsequently ruined everything from intellectual discourse to political policy to even the ways by which people communicate on blogs. When the Cracker wants to have an civil exchange of ideas, he might find some of us to be interested. Otherwise, "liberalism" will keep getting its due from me and frankly, I don't give a Rhett Butler what "liberals" think about it. That's opposed to the liberalism without quotation marks of Paul Douglas, Paul Simon, Hubert Humphrey, RFK and even Lyndon Johnson.

Anonymous said...

no, but he seemed to compare and equate a politician's pragmatism and compromising (on health care or other issues) with the kind of appeasement of (put loaded word here--terrorists, Nazis, etc) that we know is wrong.

We just had 8 years of that rhetoric--if you do thus-and-so (don't go shopping, don't torture detainees, etc.)the terrorists will win. I say he/she was making a questionable analogy, and that it was close (in both its apples-and-oranges comparison and its lack of good will)to what the Bushies and Tinkers and Limbaughs have done.

Back in, I think, the Clinton impeachment hearings, a Republican of good will (name escapes me, and I realize that it sounds like a science-fiction character) said something like, "This business of I'll see you one and I'll raise you one has got to stop."

He was referring to Demos "Borking" Repub SCOTUS nominees and Repubs retaliating by impeaching a Demo President.

It may (repeat may) have been Tom Lantos, who knew from "Nazis".

Steve Steffens said...

Anon 5:29, NOBODY in the halls of Congress right now should be mentioned in the same breath as Paul Douglas or Paul Simon; even my friend the Congressman, who does his damndest to aim in that direction, falls short.

At least he tries.

I refuse to engage with you because you simply refuse to admit honestly that the last 8 years were about the "supremacy of the free market" in which unregulated capital sunk us into the worst Depression since the 1930s.

If you can't even be intellectually honest enough to admit that, why bother?

Anonymous said...

As always Cracker, you refuse to engage the issues simply due to your inability to answer why we should trust the government that has given us billions of dollars of spent money on model cities such as Cabrini-Green and Robert Taylor, astounding educational achievements such as those at Chicago State where the graduation rate over a six year period is 15 percent, such rational regulatory instances of making a new local businessman not only paint parking places in his lot, but those of the tenant next door, the party of government and the "little person" who can't agree on state budget in your home state, pronouncements of "justice" that do not extend to anyone outside an "approved group" and your unwillingness to even attempt a refutation of the basic fact that the government is not some abstract entity only needing someone to flip a switch and send out disinterested, objective and beneficial policies that magically create a better society. You can't and won't answer the basic fact that my grandfather was credited three times over by your disinterested government for contributing to the decline in unemployment during the Depression. You also can't answer the fact that during the New Deal, agricultural products such as hogs and cattle and wheat were destroyed by central government edict when people--as you have noted in previous conversations--were going hungry all across the country. The market did NOT make those decisions: the Federal Government did. Those same decisions did not save family farms and the Joads still left in droves for the loving arms of Upton Sinclair's California. You won't answer my questions or those of others such as myself not because you are trying to avoid a waste of time. By answering with a non-answer, you clearly have the time. You won't answer in substance because you can't answer. You instead recite what you have been told by authority figures whose premises you do not question and whose attitudes you have come to reflect.

Steve Steffens said...

Anon 7:10,

I grow tiresome of your tirades against the "other: which is what this has become. I have answered you privately time after time after time, yet you produce the same old tired cliches.

As someone who has worked in the "free market" since the age of 15, I think I know a hell of lot more about it that you have, since you haven't worked in such an environment in nearly a quarter-century, IIRC.

So whine if you must, but you you'll get no converts here, you'll just be another angry white guy who has no reason to blame anyone but the man in the mirror, yet refuses to take responsibility for their actions.

I'm done responding, because it's pointless; at this point, you're a lost soul..

Anonymous said...

Working in the profession I once did IS in the market, sir. Whether you admit it or not, your endless use of my assumed "white male" status does not provide you with the right to avoid my questions. You have, in fact, NOT answered them. You have avoided them or responded in one or two sentences that revert to "liberal" mantras that do not reflect the spirit of liberalism that I once proudly believed. You also have, at least on one occasion, called me "insane," as if you have the right to play O'Brien and somehow I am Winston in need of rehabilitation prior to having my brains blown out and my ashes sent into the stratosphere. Since you haven't read a genuine book, I believe, in years upon years, I wonder if you even know what Orwell was actualy trying to argue. Now instead of "insane," you say that I am "an angry white male" who whines about this or that policy that you espouse as truth or right or some other mantra-like cliche. You are correct that I have come to different conclusions than I once held. You are also correct that given my temperment, I have some feelings about these matters. I have the novel notion that two wrongs do not constitute a right. I thought you might have learned that in elementary school. You also will remember that you conceded at least one heated discussion by admitting that if "inclusion" does not include "white males," it is not inclusive. Yet you refuse to listen to facts that over and over again demonstrate the exclusion, demonization and dismissal of people such as myself and you simply due to our race and gender. Maybe, when you have a break between blog pronouncements, you might want to think about the premises of Brown v. Board of Education. Inclusion, not exclusion, is the essence of American life. That, sir, is something beginning to approach the "justice" that you so fervently espouse. What you advocate and defend is nothing but a ludicrous farce.

Anonymous said...

One thing that's not being discussed here and might perhaps be relevant is the old distinction between the two houses of Congress.

This distinction is breaking down somewhat with identity politics and with voters willing to vote a candidate in or out over any "single issue" (e.g. abortion or gun control or health care).
But, historically, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, being proportionally elected, were supposed to figure out what their constituents wanted and try to deliver it to them. Where they disagreed for ethical reasons, they were supposed to gently lead their constituents.

United States Senators, OTOH, were supposed to be more "statesmen" in that each state, regardless of population, possessed just two senators, and they were supposed to become versed in issues such as foreign policy or the separation of powers, and to lead and advise the voters.

This is of course an oversimplification, but it's worth remembering that Cohen (for example)was a state official (state senate) and is now a member of the house, not a U.S. Senator. That's also worth remembering when one considers how useful he is or isn't to one's own agenda, and whether his opponent would be a better replacement.

I know, I know, you all are throwing barbs at each other and not really talking about his ROLE, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

Al Gore Sr. was defeated (besides by a bunch of Nixon slush fund money)because he tried to lead his constituents to oppose the Vietnam War. He'd gotten away with trying to lead them in some civil rights matters, because he delivered the right pork for the voters, but he didn't get away with that. It was, nevertheless, his Senatorial role.

Steve Steffens said...

Anon 8:43, thanks for getting us back on track, that was excellent commentary.

Anonymous said...

Indeed excellent commentary. I would suggest, however, that James Eastland, Theodore Bilbo Eugene Talmadge, Coley Blease and other southern Senators prior to CR legislation were not exactly statesman. John Stennis, Richard Russell, J. William Fulbright and--believe it or nopt towrd the end of his term--James K. Vardaman sans race became such. Sam Ervin as well through his chairmanship of the Watergate Committee. Thad Cochran has become one as well even if he belongs to the party that the Cracker believes to be "evil." Jim Webb has a good chance as well, especially in trms of foreign affairs.
But I digress into history and speculation. Excellent commentary and well said.