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A Fine Whine:What More Do Progressives Want?

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I am getting sick and tired of pundits asking rhetorically, as Chris Matthews did today, “What more do progressives want?” in reference to the so called “enthusiasm gap”. Democratic turnout is supposed to be depressed this year, in contrast with the Republican Tea party, whose voters are said to be lining up to vote like techno geeks waiting to buy the latest toy from Apple. In recent weeks, the President, the Vice-president and all the President’s surrogates have taken to lecturing Democrats to “buck up” and vote because it is too important not to.

Somehow all this exhortation gets translated into the Democrats and the Obama administration blaming progressives for not being supportive enough. Now one can’t get through an hour of cable news or the Sunday chats without hearing “What more do progressives want?” Progressives, you see are supposed to be happy and grateful for all the legislation passed by the Democratic congress and signed into law by the Democratic president. Things like the health care reform, financial regulation and the economic stimulus of 2009.

As I have indicated in previous posts, I am in fact disappointed with the Obama administration and the Congressional Democrats. But that’s OK. I am not a big D Democrat. I am a progressive (a socialist, really) but I almost always vote for whatever Democrat on the ballot. This year will be no different. I anticipate splitting my votes between the Green and Democratic parties. And I always vote. Even if I only have a ficus plant to vote for. I am not the problem. The people who might not vote are less interested in politics than your garden variety progressive blogger. You know, like the unemployed and working poor, some minorities, poor people, youth. Progressives would like to have seen the Dems do more to address the concerns of these groups and others, but we will still vote against the GOP.

And that’s the Democrats’ last resort in capturing the progressive vote. The other guys are worse. Way worse. Worse than ever.

So let me try to answer the question “What more do progressives want?” Maybe I’ll throw in (for free) a few things I, at least, did not and do not want.

For starters, I wanted anyone who committed war crimes on behalf of the U.S. government held accountable. Maybe not a prison sentence for W, but at least some acknowledgment that U.S. and International laws were violated and at least a hope that it would not happen again. I did not want to see Obama’s first Solicitor General (now a Supreme Court Justice) argue in Federal Court that, “the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying — that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes.” That’s not what i voted for.

Of course, I wanted health care reform to include a single payer health insurance system. I knew it wasn’t politically doable, but the proposal and the argument should have and could have been made. Failing that I would like to have seen the President fight vigorously for the public option. Would a greater effort have changed the immediate outcome? I don’t know, but again, making the effort would at least have altered the debate, making future progress more likely. I certainly did not want to sere the President’s Chief of Staff (he (who must not be named), make backroom deals with big pharma and the health insurance companies.

Continuing the war in Afghanistan does not constitute a broken promise on Obama’s part, but his escalation there was a foolish step further into quick sand. Everyone knows we are wasting time, treasure and lives there, but the generals and the officer corps apparently need their war, or else how will they ever get combat experience and promotions. Some civilian control over the military would be nice, I think.

Finally, I hoped that the new administration would take decisive action to mitigate the effects of the recession that (ha ha) ended last year. Instead, Summers and Geitner made sure that the stimulus of 2009 was weakened.

Well, I have tried to explain to anyone who accidentally reads this some of what progressives have wanted and really continue to hope for. If the president or anyone on his staff should somehow hear about this I want them to know I hope it helps.

Mike Scares the Crap Out of Big Pharma et al

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My close personal friend Buzzflash alerted me to a story in Advertising Age about the upcoming Mike Moore muckraker Sicko. Apparently, the pharmaceuticals and HMOs are stating to squirm and soil their undies in anticipation of the next Mike attack.

“A review of America’s health-care system should be balanced, thoughtful and well-researched to pin down what works and what needs to be improved,” said Ken Johnson, senior VP for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. “You won’t get that from Michael Moore.”

Added a spokesman for one of the top 10 pharma companies: “We expect it will be one-sided and biased, just like his other documentaries.”

Poor dears. They may just have to put more ads on tv (and pass the cost along to you, the patient/consumer).I have long been convinced that the most important domestic issue facing the U.S. is health care, especially access to health care.

  • 45 or 47 million people (the number seems to vary from report to report) are without health insurance here.
  • People without health insurance are often treated in hospital emergency rooms, the most expensive way to deliver treatment.
  • A serious health problem can drive a family into bankruptcy.
  • Employers are at a competitive disadvantage relative to their overseas competitors because of the high and rising cost of health insurance.
  • New drugs are priced far beyond the costs of development and production.
  • The medical industries are growing richer as wealth is transferred to them from the poor and middle class.

All of these points are as true today as they were ten years ago, and there seems to be no political effort aimed at resolving any of them.

I remember when Farenheit 911 came out and there was a lot of buzz about how this one movie would ensure the defeat of W in his reelection bid. Didn’t happen. But watch that movie now. How much of it that seemed controversial two years ago is conventional wisdom today?  Maybe that change in public attitudes about Bush and Iraq will result in a power shift in November. Maybe not. But there seems to be a growing debate about things that the Republicans would rather not talk about. Here’s hoping there are at least some Democrats who do.

I have not seen Sicko and so am in no position to analyze it (which wouldn’t stop me if I were Sean, Rush or Billo).  But I am looking forward to seeing it and if I were a drug company or a health insurer, I would be mainlining antacids and changing my underwear hourly.

Written by slothropia

August 23rd, 2006 at 3:14 pm