An Open Letter to President Obama and the Democratic National Committee

By Will Newman II of Portland, Oregon. Will is the the Research and Education Director for Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust and says, "my political position is somewhere to the left of 'Whopee!'"

Mr. President (and DNC Members),

I recently received a mailing from you. You ask me to make a contribution “to help build grassroots support for action on the economy, health care, energy and education.” You ask if “you can count on me.”

Can you count on me? Yes, you can. You can count on me to hold you to your campaign promises and the party platform.

Will I make a contribution? Yes, I will. Here is my contribution:

It is time to stop trying to work with an opposition who is demonstrably unwilling to compromise, or even to have a conversation about the most important challenges of our time.

It is time to stand up and clearly state what needs to be done, how you are going to lead the country in doing those things, and who is helping and who is hindering.

We need to hear specific solutions, not vague generalities. We need you to voice those solutions clearly, and to invite the people and the legislators of this country to get behind you in achieving them. We need the Congress to stop fooling around and pass legislation that will implement serious change, and we need it now.

We know the problems.


The Economy
Our economy is in tatters, largely because of unregulated speculation by a relatively few individuals and corporations, supported by years of de-regulation by the federal government. In a field where one of the basic principles is “the reward reflects the risk”, those who invested in the riskiest instruments were happy to receive the rewards when times were good, and were relieved of the losses when unlimited speculation resulted in the inevitable failures. Congress eliminated the risk at the taxpayers’ expense. This is because most of our legislators and holders of high office have been sold to the highest bidder. It is time now for you exhibit leadership in bringing to the forefront of public discussion the need for massive campaign reform, and the clear delineation of corporations as business entities, not people, with the rights and obligations of business, not the rights (without the obligations) of people, as is the case now. We need to become a nation of producers, not importers. We need meaningful, productive jobs. We need to narrow the growing gap between the rich and poor in this country. We need to eliminate the tax cuts for the wealthy, reestablish a truly progressive income tax system and re-institute an effective estate tax. We need to break up monopolies and business “too big to fail.” We need to regain control of our sovereignty by withdrawing from GATT, WTO and other international treaties and agreements that subjugate the will of the people to that of international corporations.

Health Care
Alone in the world of “developed” nations, we have millions of our people who cannot access health care, and the number is growing rapidly. We know that health insurance is NOT health care. We know that single-payer health care systems work, and they work well. It is long past time that we institute single-payer health care in the United States. This would establish an indisputable legacy of the Democratic Party as the party of the people. Instead we get a conversation that does not even include single-payer. You started with a compromise, perhaps to be more inclusive, particularly of the Republicans. What you got was wholesale rejection by Republicans, and a number of Democrats backpedaling as fast as they can. Present a real single-payer plan, fight for it, and let those in Congress who will not support it, do so publicly. Then see what the mid-term elections bring us. How would you like to run for re-election as “the candidate who voted to deny you health care?”

Energy
There is no clear and simple solution to our energy problems, nor the energy problems of the rest of the world, but we do know some basic facts: We are fast approaching the end of cheap and easy to use energy, and there are no reasonable alternatives. Calculating life cycle energy flows, nuclear energy is an energy sink, not an energy source. Coal is so environmentally destructive that it should be eliminated as a fuel source as soon as possible. Using any combination of source materials and processes, biofuels are totally inadequate in volume to replace our present energy use. Any possible sustainable energy use will be significantly lower than our current consumption. The only successful strategies will be based on significantly lower aggregate energy use. This means, at the very least, re-localizing economies and vastly reducing transportation.

Education
An educated public is essential to our democracy as well as to our economy. Full, free public education through college is the backbone of a productive and engaged populace.

You Asked, We Gave
The Democrats have, for years, asked for support “to regain a majority” in both houses of Congress and to take back the White House.

Well, now you have it all.

But the people of this country are seeing more of the same: more money to the wealthy, more control to the corporations, more caving in to radical conservatives, and the continuation of reprehensible policies of previous administrations that we were promised would end.

Now, It Is Your Turn
So far, Mr. President, you have continued to make great speeches, but you have not shown any leadership. If you want my help, or even my vote, both you and the Congress need to stand up for the principles and programs you promised. I speak only for myself, but I hear a multitude of others saying much the same things. And we all vote. I think we have seen an end to mass apathy among voters. The last election shows how many people can be connected with very little funding, without support from international corporations, and we have seen the results at the voting booths when we are.

Mr. President, now is the time for you and the Democratic leadership to lead. Make the changes needed, or at least fight for them. Stop trying to include those who have no wish to be included. Stop trying to compromise with those who will not compromise. Make the changes we need, and make them now. And do it very publicly. Let us see who is helping and who is not. Let us know what our representatives are actually doing, not just what they are saying.

And while you are at it, hold those in past administrations (and Members of Congress) accountable for their past actions at least to the same standards the average citizen would be. There should be indictments and trials going on.

Otherwise we will see another single-term President, a surge of ineffective third parties, another Republican controlled Congress, and even more devastation of our economy, our environment, and our democracy.

Stand up to big money! Stand up to corporate greed! Stand up for the principles the party once stood for! And do it now!

Yes, we can!

Comments

  • BOHICA (unverified)
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    You might want to include one of these with your letter.

  • Boats (unverified)
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    No se puede comunistas internacionalistas!

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    Will, while I agree with and like the ways your stated many of your positions, let me take up a few where I may disagree:

    (1) I think Obama is providing leadership. The usual criticism is that he has too many issues in play, rather than too few. I think he has set out some broad goals and is showing a willingness to work with anyone in Congress who is serious. We have serious national problems that will require all of us to make sacrifices, as in pay more taxes or receive less benefits. It would be best to have these tough decisions be bipartisan, otherwise Democrats will take a beating at the polls – think reducing the deficit, raising the prices of gas and other energy supplies through cap-and-trade or a gas tax, and contain Medicare costs.

    (2) Trade agreements. This issue divides Democrats. I can agree on cutting back the rights and powers of corporations, and on limiting their influence over trade agreements, without abandoning the view that free trade is good for our economy, workers included, and good for world peace.

    (3) On health care, I’m not a single payer or nothing proponent. I’d like to see significant coverage expansion and some efforts to contain costs. I’d prefer to see the link between employment and health care broken (and therefore the tax exemption of some health care benefits eliminated) either through the shift to a single payer or directly.

    (4) You are right to point out the challenges we face in energy, but I think it is too soon to conclude that aggregate energy use must be reduced. We do need to raise the price of energy to the public so that a whole set of transformative efforts are encouraged. I’d prefer a gas tax, or a more general carbon tax, with revenues raise returned to the public. It’s about getting the prices signals right, not raising revenue, which is why the current cap-and-trade bill is so frustrating.

    Three, to me, significant issues you omitted: (5) Continued stimulation of the economy through another stimulus package. (6) Cutting the long term deficit (this is the most serious and difficult issue). (7) Getting our international priorities right: Cutting the defense budget, making engagement of China a priority, and getting Afghanistan-Pakistan right or getting out (see my Global Strategies post here)

  • Jim H (unverified)
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    Thank you. I just received a fundraising call from the DNC last night. What is wrong with these people? Democrats are the problem right now!

    If they promised to use the money to fund Progressive primary challengers to anti-reform incumbent Dems, then I might scrape together some cash...

  • JJ (unverified)
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    Will,

    A few short years ago, Republicans controlled the entire federal government...both houses of congress and the White House. At the time, one criticism from the left that I heard uttered loudly and often was that the Republicans had shut them out of the process, that they had no voice and that one of the nation's greatest problems was that the age of moderate Republicans had come to an end. In 2008, when Gordon Smith ran for re-election, the left's main talking point was essentially that Gordon Smith wasn't moderate enough and that he was nothing more than a stooge for the far right (no one on the left probably even believed that, but it was an effective talking point). For all those years, the left was clamoring for moderation and for a process that included more ideas and more voices, and often warned that Americans would revolt against one-party control.
    Well..in many ways, the left was correct. More moderation and a more inclusive approach would have helped the GOP retain power and would have been good for America as well. What I find astonishing is now that the Democrats have total control of the government (and by far greater numbers than the GOP had), so many of you on the left are demanding that your party leaders do exactly what you blasted the GOP for doing...shutting out the other side. You call for Obama and the DNC to stop working with Republicans, stop listening to conservative Americans who voice dissent and to bulldoze over anyone who stands in the way of an ideologically pure, liberal agenda. I can tell you as someone who was saddened (but not surprised) to see the downfall of the GOP's reign of power, this is not the way forward for your party. When you and your fellow Democrats simply write off those who oppose your agenda as "Crazies" or "Tea Baggers" and "wing nuts", you are making a very serious mistake....these are real Americans, real constituents and on certain issues (like Healthcare), they now comprise the views of a majority of Americans (who oppose Obama's plan). So be careful what you wish for..cut back on the ideological purity and scorched earth approach towards Republicans..or you may see your party go from total control to zero control...trust me, I just saw it happen to mine.

  • Admiral Naismith (unverified)
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    JJ, people did not rebel against "one party rule"; they rebelled against bad government and bad ideas.

    When people see the final health insurance reform law, they are not going to look at it all concerned and ask, "Was this passed with bipartisan support?". They will look at it all concerned and ask, "Is this thing any good?". That's how they'll look at any law that affects them.

    Seems to me, one difference between the parties is that democrats will support good legislation, even if it was written by the Republicans. Republicans, if they see that the Democrats want something, will immediately find reasons to hate it, even if they have to make up their own fake "facts" to do it.

  • JJ (unverified)
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    Admiral,

    Spoken like a true partisan hack. In other words what you're saying is that if the people oust the other party it's because they have "bad ideas", should they oust your party it will be because you were not ideologically pure enough. Do you really think it does the Democratic party any good in the long term to silence all dissent, refuse to work with the other party and label all those who disagree with you as "crazies"? Have you forgotten that the fastest growing party in America is no party at all..it's the ideological middle of the electorate that decides who is in power, not the ideological extremes....and have you seen what's been happening to Obama's numbers among these independents..it's not good.

    I obviously have my own views on issues from the economy to energy to healthcare and I think that as a matter of policy, Democrats simply get it wrong most of the time. But that being said, I don't advocate for a Republican approach that refuses to work with or acknowledge those who have a different point of view...Republicans dont have all the answers, Democrats dont have all the answers...and fooling yourself into believing either party does is the quickest way to unseat yourself from power...

  • (Show?)

    The opponents of health care reform ramped up too quickly and inevitably brought to the town hall meetings the type of Republican itching for a fight. They have discredited themselves by attacking the messenger, not the message.

  • Joshua Welch (unverified)
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    Bush isn't considered one of the worst presidents in history because he failed to cooperate and compromise, it's because his policies where horribly destructive. Trying to cooperate and compromise with Republicans is kind of like negotiating with terrorists. Republicans are legislative terrorists, they simply degrade and destroy anything good.

  • Joe Hill (unverified)
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    The fact that there are those here on Blue Oregon arguing for a "more moderate" approach simply demonstrates to me how profoundly out of touch many on this blog are.

    Do you understand that Obama has made a secret deal with the pharmaceutical companies, directly contradicting (i.e. lying) what he promised he would do in his campaign? Do you understand how many tens or hundreds of billions of dollars this is going to cost Americans? Do you understand how frakking immoral this is?

    Do you understand Obama has started with signing statements and military tribunals?

    Do you understand that we are on course for an open ended military conflict in Afghanistan?

    Do you understand that our Senator Ron "let's slow this down" Wyden is one of those most directly responsible for this whole town hall debacle, allowing the corporate right the opportunity to unfurl its money and dictate the narrative?

    Do you understand what a debacle Obama's "race to the top" educational policy is, continuing Bush's NCLB policies and adding the blessing of the Democratic party to neoliberal idiocy such as charter schools, merit pay, and a cluster of other policies whose clear objective is the destruction of the public school system and its eventual privatization?

    And now you think we should be more moderate and more bipartisan and stop moving so far to the left?

    Damn. I've got to replace my keyboard because I've just vomited all over it.

  • LT (unverified)
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    I called Wyden's office and said Grassley should not have a veto over health care reform. I said Ron should talk to his co-sponsor Bennett and say Steven Pearstein has a great point in his column, "Behold, a National and Rational Conversation on Health Care". If the Republicans overplayed their hand this month, we should all back serious solutions (end fee-for-service medicine? change Medicare repayment schedules so Oregon is treated as well as states like NY? more emphasis on prevention, community health, cost cutting, best practices?) not just chant slogans. Pearstein's point is that regardless of what the Republicans want, ordinary people are having rational discussions.

    If you don't have faith in rational discussions eventually overcoming shouters who are merely angry, saying Obama has not shown leadership because you don't agree with everything he has done won't solve anything.

    "Left" and "right" increasingly don't describe the folks who want solutions, not just anger and partisan politics.

    I also said to the Wyden staffer that he should talk to Baucus and Grassley and say something like "OK, you don't like public option, how about this? No public option but health insurance companies are regulated up to their eyeballs--executive compensation caps, not dropping people for pre-existing conditions, etc. all the things in today's Obama email".

    I said the regulations should be stiff enough that the health insurance companies might decide competing in an open market with the public option might not be such a bad idea.

    Bills are about details, not about slogans.

    Paulie has a point. So does David Broder who some here have (justly) criticized in the past.

    Broder's most recent column says the GOP may have a price to pay for all these hostile town hall meetings. He tells a 1960 story about LBJ and his wife and a Republican Congressman from Dallas trying to have lunch at a famous place in Dallas. The mob that surrounded the Johnson party so offended many people that elected S. Democrats decided to support Johnson when they had been silent before, and some think that is how JFK/LBJ carried Texas and maybe some other states as well. And that Republican congressman lost his seat in the 1960 election because of all the Democratic voters.

    Story as old as time--one side gets so nasty it turns people off and they vote for the other side. Decades ago, a friend said of such nasty people, "when they act like that, you know they know they are losing".

    How much of the town hall anger is older people who can't deal with a young, intelligent black president who is so totally different than any president they can remember? (I was in high school when JFK was elected, and Barack and Michelle bring the same young freshness to the White House.)

    The question is whether perhaps Pres. Obama is playing chess instead of checkers and thinking several steps ahead. He asked for questions from people who disagreed with him at the NH town hall meeting and went out of his way to correct bad information even if it was in response to a mild question.

  • Gerald Morris (unverified)
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    This is clearly a fight against the messenger in most cases. Many of the people that come to these townhall meetings who fight against the presenters don't know what they are talking about. They heard some rumor on the radio or tv and get angry. They don't check the source for validity or anything. This is silly! We just don't want to change even when it may have the potential for better.

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    Will, as the husband of a DNC member, I think you badly overestimate the amount of influence individual members have. This is especially true when we have a strong President of our own party.

    I mean come on, how do you think this really works? Do you think Senator Nelson, who has been holding up the health care bill over the objections of President Obama, is suddenly going to say: "Wait, Mr. Health Insurance Lobbyist, before you write that new million dollar check for my campaign fund again, I just realized - there are some people in the DNC who say this is hurting their fund raising! No, I must refuse the money. How ever could I have been so thoughtless?"

    This is like those crazy guys who tried to shout down Howard Dean. The DNC and the OFA are already on board. Senator Feinstein is POed because the OFA has been banging on her door trying to get her to take a more progressive line. But since you just lump all Democrats together, apparently we'll never be able to put any pressure on anyone.

    Just sayin.

  • Wrench Monkey (unverified)
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    Joe Hill's keyboard is emblematic of the DP "leadership". In a real democracy, the people choose someone to represent their views; they don't look for "leaders" to tell them what is "feasible", i.e., what is okay with the corporations and the militarists.

    Both parties are anti-democratic and therefore irrelevant to the fundamental change that's necessary.

  • JJ (unverified)
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    If anyone needs any further evidence that moving hard left, bashing and insulting those who dissent and refusing to work with Republicans is not a formula for success...perhaps you should educate yourself with the most recent poll numbers. Rasmussen Reports (who happened to be the most accurate pollster in Oregon's races last fall), released their most recent results today: Obama's approval rating is now at 47%, with 52% disapproving. 65% of NAV/Independents disapprove of this president. On healthcare, 42% support the plan (a new low), while 53% oppose it. Here's the link: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_presidential_tracking_poll

    Look folks...I'm on the other team and if you want to destroy your own party by continuing down this path..be my guest...but your state of denial over what's going on is so frustrating that I can't help but try to point out just how far off track you are taking your own party....I watched my own party do it to itself, so I'm pretty confident that I know what it looks like...

  • genop (unverified)
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    Dear Pres. Obama & the DNC; Right now you're feelin it. Change hurts. A vast majority in this country are comfortable with their lot in life. Not that they are complacent, it's just - things are ok, and change is unknown. Trust in Congress is at an all time low, as it wallows in special interest treasure -the fuel for re-election. The focus now should be on those members whose efforts demonstrate an allegiance to special interests over the common good. Some will face the voters soon and pay for that special interest amendment. I hope you continue your campaign for this legislation and drag some kicking and screaming to its passage. Some form of universal and affordable health ins. coverage is a worthy result. Please consider taking the lead and submitting a simplified plan with public option and get an up or down vote without conference or committee modification. The fear of the unknown can only be overcome by relying on one we trust rather than Congress.

  • genop (unverified)
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    Which do you prefer, the Sausage about to me made in Congress, or Ground Sirloin from the combined talents within the administration?

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Will thanks for your treatise. Change the talking points, but keep the rhetoric (we won, you're not doing enough to push our goals/tactics/projects, you're not 'US' enough) and you have the uber conservative religious right of the past 2-3 years speaking to Bush and the RNC.

    Stick to the game plan there and the dems will no longer control the House, the Senate and the White House.

    You see, the outrageous Left keeps missing the point that a whole lot of cross over and independent votes came from normal folks who were tired of the republican (you're with us or you're against us; my way or the highway) approach, they were tired of the dems being locked out and they believe a junior senator from Chicago when he talked about Change You Can Believe In.

    The Town Halls weren't about highly organized insurance company shills as they were about people pissed that they were lied to and there was no change, it was just the other party ramming the same old tired political crap towards them.

    I Truly hope for a viable 3rd political party.

  • Rick (unverified)
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    In response, let me quote someone famous.

    (quote) Unity is the great need of the hour – the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it’s the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country.

    I’m not talking about a budget deficit. I’m not talking about a trade deficit. I’m not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans. I’m talking about a moral deficit. I’m talking about an empathy deficit. I’m talking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother’s keeper; we are our sister’s keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny. But of course, true unity cannot be so easily won. It starts with a change in attitudes – a broadening of our minds, and a broadening of our hearts.

    It’s not easy to stand in somebody else’s shoes. It’s not easy to see past our differences. We’ve all encountered this in our own lives. But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart – that puts up walls between us.

    We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don’t think like us or look like us or come from where we do.(end quote) Jan 20, 2008

    (quote) In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.(end quote) Nov 4, 2008

    Sorry Mr. Newman, on this one, I think you are wrong. In a country as divided as ours, bickering won't get you anywhere. And to say that either side is "unwilling to compromise" is woefully inaccurate. But in this case, it seems that you are one voice who is "unwilling to compromise". Why does your unwillingness to compromise make you right and the other side's unwillingness to compromise make them wrong. I don't think they are unwilling to compromise. But you obviously are.

    By the way, if it wasn't obvious, the speaker of the quotes above was Barack Obama.

  • Jake Leander (unverified)
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    Good post, Mr. Newman.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    A person who becomes president puts himself/herself at the center of a national maelstrom of mostly unconscious projections/greeds/hatreds/fears/behaviors, and is given the task of trying to govern with a Congress of competing greeds and a Senate structure that is designed to thwart any majority will. It's wrong to say the president has a failure of leadership when your personal agenda somehow isn't implemented by him. Two thoughts: Paulie's usual constructive reality based analysis above is on the mark. Bill Clinton gave a rousing speech at Netroots Nation. He said, "I've been waiting 40 years for this moment. Let's get it done! Let's stay in the same boat and do this."

  • Tom Vail (unverified)
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    I have proposed that the Republicans step aside and offer to the Democrats the opportunity to write the entire healthcare reform bill without input except that the bill must include the following: “The referenced Act shall become law upon the signature of the President of the United States (on or before October 1, 2009) and will be in effect until two calendar years after the date of signing, expiring no later than October 1, 2011.” I have further details in my post.

  • pacnwjay (unverified)
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    Will,

    I tend to agree with you, in principle, if not in degree. I think many folks have made the mistake of forgetting that Obama (and all Dems elected at the national level) are in fact politicians. We'd like them to adhere to the beautiful things they said when they were wooing us, but they won't. And for the most part, it's the fault of the system.

    Until we eliminate massive corporate funding in our political system, I find it unlikely we'll see the progressive results that we hope for.

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    At the Blue Oregon reception, Jeff described me as much more conservative than most of the posters here. This may be true. I think "conservative" is relative, and I see myself as more of a pragmatist.

    This agenda? Politically, it is a recipe for a Republican takeover.

    A single payer proposal without some private options will lose the Blue Dogs and the Susan Collins's of the world and will go down to flaming defeat. Are you ready to wait another 16 years for health care reform?

    Full paid public education through college? We surely need K-12 educational reform in this country but our system of higher education has been and continues to be the envy of the world in large part due to the contribution of private institutions. Fully public systems (e.g. UK, France, Germany) have lagged behind the US for decades.

    Why would we want to be a "nation of producers" rather than a nation of services, technology, education--the economic wave of the future?

    Withdraw from all trade agreements? Yes, neo-isolationism and a new era of trade protectionism is just what our trade dependent economy.

    President Obama is standing up for what he promised. Let's not revise the history of this election so quickly. Let's get behind an agenda that we can be proud of AND one that can pass Congress and help the lives of ordinary Americans.

    That's the way to expand our majority in 2010. But if we blow this by tacking too far to the left, our individualistic, small government nation will look once again to the GOP.

  • leftofhitler (unverified)
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    Re: "...if we blow this by tacking too far to the left, our individualistic, small government nation will look once again to the GOP."

    Wanting what conservative Europeans take as a given is "tacking too far to the left"? With "liberals" like this, who needs the Reich?

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Dave Porter wrote:

    "I’d prefer to see the link between employment and health care broken"

    Really?

    Why don't you simply propose to make it illegal then?

    But first explain to us clearly why you think NOBODY should be able to get insurance thru their employer simply because YOU chose not to.

    Why should everyone be forced to do it your way?

    You don't want insurance thru your employer? Fine, don't sign up for it.

    But why should everybody else have to do it 'Dave's way or the highway'?

    I thought liberals were 'pro-choice'? I guess not.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Kurt Chapman wrote:

    "I Truly hope for a viable 3rd political party."

    I hope all good liberals follow your example and vote straightline 3rd party.

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    "It would be best to have these tough decisions be bipartisan, otherwise Democrats will take a beating at the polls"

    There's no evidence for this whatsoever. No one cares how many votes it got or whether it was bipartisan--they care whether it WORKS or not.

    The difference between now and 8 years ago is that the Democrats in the minority for the most part were interested in policy debates and compromise between positions. The Republicans currently in the minority are interested only in political victories and stopping any kind of progress at all, lest it redound to the favor of the party in power. Are there places where the scent of politics still reigns? Sure--the fact that Rep. Murtha continues to avoid investigation because Dems are blocking Jeff Flake's privileged resolution over and over makes me ill--but on the big issues being discussed--budget, stimulus, energy and health care--the GOP was welcomed to the table and asked for their ideas. In some cases they were even accepted. What did it get them, by and large? Bupkus, sometimes not even a single GOP vote.

  • Cerita Dewasa (unverified)
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    Nice info, Useful for my job...this has made my life (my projects) goes a lot easier. Keep up the good work, thanks very much... :)

  • Cerita Dewasa (unverified)
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    Nice info, Useful for my job...this has made my life (my projects) goes a lot easier. Keep up the good work, thanks very much... :)

  • Cerita Dewasa (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Nice info, Useful for my job...this has made my life (my projects) goes a lot easier. Keep up the good work, thanks very much... :)

  • Cerita Dewasa (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Nice info, Useful for my job...this has made my life (my projects) goes a lot easier. Keep up the good work, thanks very much... :)

  • (Show?)

    torridjoe, I don't disagree with you on the current behaviorf of the Republican Party. They are putting partisan politics ahead of the national interest, IMHO. But health care reform seems to me to be one of the "easier" big issues facing our country. I fear our current political system does not permit either party to ask for sacrifices from a majority of Ameericans. We are,and have been, living beyond our means. It can't go on. We need to find a way to deal with difficult issues - cutting the deficit, paying more for gas and electricity, and keeping Medicare financially solvent, not to mention getting our foreign policy priorties right (#1 engaging China through education programs, #2 reducing oil revenues to the petrostates through a gas tax, #3 sending more student to study in Pakistan, and #4 getting Afghanistan right or gettng out).

    If the Democrats can do these on their own and get reelected, great!

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Dave Porter wrote:

    "reducing oil revenues to the petrostates through a gas tax"

    Liberals seem to think that raising taxes is the solution to everything. Even when the economy is difficult, liberals want more of your money.

    How 'bout allowing American companies to drill for more American oil?

    That would reduce revenue to petrostates AND reduce the price of gas for the average American.

    Why are you opposed to that?

    How 'bout removing the gas tax altogether on gas that comes from America? A great way to reduce dollars to petrostates WITHOUT raising taxes and hurting the poor in a difficult economy.

    Why do liberals automatically default to 'more taxes' to solve everything?

    How 'bout the feds take the lead in implementing telecommuting? Hundreds of thousands of federal employees could work from home, saving gas, reducing pollution, lessening traffic and traffic accidents, saving families money on things like wear and tear of their vehicles, parking costs, child care expenses, clothes purchased for office wear, lunches eaten out, etc Large office buildings that use vast amounts of energy would be unnecessary or partially shuttered.

    Let's talk about ways to reduce energy use WITHOUT raising taxes.

  • Will Newman II (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Well, folks, I asked and you gave. Thanks for the comments.

    It took me a few days, but I have provided responses to all of you as of mid-day 8/29/09. The responses are too long for this blog to accept, so pleas visit my blog at willnewman.wordpress.com to see em.

    Thanks again for your comments.

    Will Newman II

    Bohica

    It would be a welcome change if our representatives would remember that they were born with spines. It has been said that those who do not stand for something will stand for anything

    Boats

    Nice to see a reasoned and clear response. Very persuasive.

    Dave Porter

    Thanks for the thorough response. Here are my thoughts on your points: I don’t see real leadership. I hear what are essentially vague and inconsistent ideas and programs. That’s why I called for “specific solutions, not vague generalities.” That’s why I said, “We need you to voice those solutions clearly, and to invite the people and the legislators of this country to get behind you in achieving them.” That is leadership. I am all for cooperation and solutions derived from vigorous and honest discussion. I prefer solutions that reflect the honest concerns of all effected. But the reality is that there are a number of legislators (on both sides of the aisle) who will not discuss, will not compromise, and will not cooperate in a real discussion of the problems and possible solutions. To my mind they have opted out of the discussion. Recognize it and move on, don’t offer more and more concessions until there is nothing worthwhile left over. Of course it will need to be paid for. And that means tax funding. Who pays and how should be part of the discussion, too. In an atmosphere where letting tax breaks for the highest income citizens expire is considered raising taxes, I think that part of the discussion needs to start with a lot of education about who is paying now, as well as how to fairly allocate the costs in the future. As for trade agreements, I was very specific. “We need to regain control of our sovereignty by withdrawing from GATT, WTO and other international treaties and agreements that subjugate the will of the people to that of international corporations.” Under these agreements we literally make our government’s ability to regulate internal as well as external trade subject to the approval of secret panels, largely made up of individuals selected by international corporations. They can override our laws and regulations, and subject the country to severe economic penalties for enforcing them. As an aside, although I said nothing about free trade in my piece, I would like to see an active debate about what constitutes “free trade” and who benefits, and how. I have an extensive background in health insurance. For a number of years I was active as an insurance broker, and placed both individual and group health policies. I was active in Oregon, Washington and California, and was licensed in 4 other states as well. I had offices in Oregon and California. I strongly represented my clients in disputes with the insurance carriers with whom I had placed policies, and know the realities of how insurance companies handle both underwriting and claims. We might be able to cobble together some kind of program based on for-profit health carriers in combination with non-profit carriers and the government. We might. But why bother when there are myriad examples available to us that already work? What it looks like we are getting is a government mandate to force all individuals to purchase health care on the open market. There may be minimum standards for coverage. There may be a prohibition on underwriting some things (health history, etc.) But I have heard of no provisions for any restrictions on premiums except the magic of “the market”. As my brilliant wife often says when I say something foolish, “How’s that been working for you?” The answer for a very large percentage of us is, of course, “Not very well.” Single payer can be effective, simple, easy, and less expensive overall. Some of us will pay what will appear to be more, and some will pay what will appear to be less, but we can make health care (in contrast to health insurance) effective and affordable to all. In the process we will need to make some serious changes, of course. (You might want to visit my blog as willnewman.wordpress.com for more on health care pricing and costs.) Not the least of the changes will be to eliminate the blank check approach currently practiced by health care providers. What other enterprise will refuse to talk with you until you sing an agreement to pay whatever procedures and products the provider decides is necessary, and then, when they are done, cannot give you any idea of what you owe – they can often tell you what you owe them, but can rarely tell you even how many bills from others you will receive, much less how much they will be for. As for energy use, we need to acknowledge that there are limits to the physical world, and therefore limits to what we can extract from it for our use. The amount of energy available to the entire planet is ultimately limited to the amount of energy the earth gets from the sun each day, supplemented by some heat energy from the Earth’s core. That’s it. (We could extend tat significantly if we used fusion, but that technology has been “about 5 years away” for about 40 years now.) We have been using stored energy, sunlight stored in plants, since we acquired the use of fire. Petroleum is stored sunlight, in a form that takes a very ling time to develop, but very little time to release. We have released about all of that we are going to. Essentially, our economy is based on using up our savings, and, like the speculation economy, this will come to an end. According to most who study this area, the end of cheap and portable energy will be soon, certainly within the lifetimes of some of us around now. Even if we begin to address the limits to growth problem in the area of population to stabilize our population at its present size, our present aggregate energy use exceeds any reasonable portion of that daily sunlight limit. Hence my statement that “Any possible sustainable energy use will be significantly lower than our current consumption.” A for your 3 significant issues, I certainly agree on (6) and (7), but I would need to know more about your approach to (5) before I could sign on. Virtually all our economic models are based on unending growth, which is unsustainable. Stimulating an unsustainable economy adds to the problem, not to the solution. Again, thank you very much for your comments. It is this kind of exchange that I hope to foster in all my writing, and particularly on my blog.

    Jim H.

    You are welcome.

    Successfully fielding and funding progressive challengers is, I am afraid, left to those outside the main political parties. I mentioned that this last election demonstrated our ability to strongly influence an election through the Internet, and I think that’s what’s going to have to happen if we are to get significant numbers of progressives elected in the near future

    JJ

    While there are certainly commonalities, I don’t think the current situation in Washington is a parallel situation with the Republican controlled past. When the republicans controlled both houses and the White House they did not try to work with Democrats, they simply went forward with what they wanted, even steamrollering recalcitrant Republicans and ignoring altogether the general public. You also draw some conclusions that may not be warranted, and use some terms that are by no means commonly understood. An example is “the left” a term often used to mean tending toward socialism. The fact is that there is no discernable left in the United States anymore. Compared, say, to the United States in 1950’s, and most of the rest of the world today, in current public discourse there are the extreme right (the loudest, although not necessarily the most representative, voices in the Republican party), the far right (Rush and his ilk) the right (those who would have been recognizable as conservatives for the last hundred years or so), and the center (virtually all the rest of the voices heard in public, including most “progressives”. There are a few voices to the left of center, but they are so marginalized that their voices are rarely heard in public, and when they are it is mostly to further marginalize them. On the national stage, there is little to distinguish the Republicans from the Democrats–they are both conservative parties, and both steadily moving to the right, as they have been for decades. I believe, if you review my article, that I did not recommend “…call for Obama and the DNC to stop working with Republicans, stop listening to conservative Americans who voice dissent and to bulldoze over anyone who stands in the way of an ideologically pure, liberal agenda.” What I called on the President and the Democratic Party to do was “Stop trying to include those who have no wish to be included. Stop trying to compromise with those who will not compromise. Make the changes we need, and make them now. And do it very publicly. Let us see who is helping and who is not. Let us know what our representatives are actually doing, not just what they are saying.” That is a call for open, public, clear communication of the programs that they said they would put into place, and clear, public discussion with all who want to enter the discussion. I called for an end to trying to compromise with those (Republican or Democrat) who are unwilling to compromise. I asked that all parties make their positions clear, and the reasons for those positions. Then let the voters, ALL the voters, not just the ones we think will vote our way, make decisions based on actions, not just promises. If the people of this country think the way to restore a vital economy is to give huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to the same people who have been in charge of the economy for years, let them say so. If the public does not want universal health care, give them a chance to say so. On the important issues of our time, the Administration should take clear positions, then go to the public with the changes necessary to achieve the goals in mind, and let the debate be public, not a bunch of backroom deals and compromises until nothing meaningful is accomplished. I found your statement “When you and your fellow Democrats simply write off those who oppose your agenda as "Crazies" or "Tea Baggers" and "wing nuts", you are making a very serious mistake....these are real Americans, real constituents and on certain issues (like Healthcare), they now comprise the views of a majority of Americans (who oppose Obama's plan).” Particularly interesting. I the first place, I am not a Democrat. Second, you will not find anywhere in my article the words “Crazies”, “Tea Baggers air “wing nuts”. I don’t know if the majority of “Americans” oppose Obama’s plan–for one thing, I don’t believe there is a “plan” yet, and that is part of the problem. There are vague statements of desired goals, rumor, speculation, and at least 5 different pieces of proposed legislation that will probably look very differently when and if they come up for votes, but there is no Obama’s “plan”. What seems to be getting put together won’t get my support, either, but no one can yet be opposed to “Obama’s plan” except in the basis of the one clear goal expressed by the President, “everyone will be covered”. Given that understanding, I do not believe that there is “a majority of Americans (who oppose Obama's plan)”. As for “you may see your party go from total control to zero control”, my party already has zero control.

    Admiral Naismith

    Not much I can argue with there. Thanks for the comment.

    JJ (again)

    It seems that you are most strident in your opposition to those on this thread who advocate the position you say you advocate: “…I don't advocate for a Republican approach that refuses to work with or acknowledge those who have a different point of view...Republicans don’t (sic) have all the answers, Democrats don’t (sic) have all the answers…” And, although you seem to accuse others of name-calling, it appears to be you who imputes derisive terms in the words of others when they are not there. Kind of confusing, don’t you think?

    Paulie

    I don’t understand what you mean. Sorry. Could you expand on your comments?

    Joshua Welch

    While I think your comment is supportable, I do not think the distinction is Republican/Democrat. While it is generally true that Republicans have more “party discipline” than Democrats, there are times when some Republicans break with the party in their voting. Combined with those Democrats who regularly vote with conservatives, a more useful distinction is harder to describe. Notwithstanding that, it is also true that the Republican leadership on both houses has made it pretty clear that they intend to oppose anything Democrats propose, simply to stop anything from being accomplished when the House and Senate are under Democratic leadership.

    Joe Hill

    Sorry to hear about your keyboard. A more moderate approach might be simply to clean it. Sometimes moderation is able to adequately address a problem. While you make some good points, and it is great to hear from someone who appears to actually be left of center, your points MAY be better received (and accepted) with a little less treating of reasonable extensions as fact. That said, I do not think “we should be more moderate and more bipartisan and stop moving so far to the left?” I think we should be more involved, more public in out discourse, and more inclusive of those with the least opportunity to have their voices heard. I also think that responding to those voices will move us much farther to the left–that is, past center and actually toward the left, recognizing the rights of all, not just the privileged few, and the value of the commons.

    LT

    “If you don't have faith in rational discussions eventually overcoming shouters who are merely angry, saying Obama has not shown leadership because you don't agree with everything he has done won't solve anything.” I have a great deal of faith in rational discussions leading to good outcomes. I am concerned that the discussions are limited before they begin. Where is single-payer health care in all the discussions at town hall meetings with the politicians, or in the press? I did not say Obama has not shown leadership because I don’t agree with everything he has done. I said he has not shown leadership because he has not shown leadership. On health care, as an example, he campaigned in single-payer health care for all. As President, single-payer has disappeared from his rhetoric, and it appears that coverage for all has turned into mandatory health insurance for all. First, health insurance is not health care, because second, regardless of regulation, health insurers are in the business of maximizing returns for investors, not providing health care, and the less they pay in claims the more their investors get, so they have become very good at denying claims and consequently health care. I will repeat here what I replied to Dave Porter earlier: “I have an extensive background in health insurance. For a number of years I was active as an insurance broker, and placed both individual and group health policies. I was active in Oregon, Washington and California, and was licensed in 4 other states as well. I had offices in Oregon and California. I strongly represented my clients in disputes with the insurance carriers with whom I had placed policies, and know the realities of how insurance companies handle both underwriting and claims.” Please see my extended reply to Dave for a fuller response. The President has caved in on every aspect of revisions to our health care system: he dropped single-payer, he has now backed away from a “public option”, he has made at least one back-room deal, guaranteeing continued outrageous profits for pharmaceutical manufacturers. This is not leadership. As for “…how about this? No public option but health insurance companies are regulated up to their eyeballs--executive compensation caps, not dropping people for pre-existing conditions, etc. all the things in today's Obama email,” Insurance companies would love to have that set up in a situation where everyone is required to have coverage. Do you know why? No limits on premiums! Do you notice that there is no discussion on limits to premiums? The currently uninsured are told that health insurance companies will be required to issue policies, without restrictions on pre-existing conditions or denial because of past or present health status. In exchange we will be required by law to buy a policy. At whatever rate the insurance company chooses to charge, Don’t bother pointing out that insurance companies are regulated be the states, and the states have the authority to approve or reject policy rates. As my wife says, “How’s that working for you?” On the checkers versus chess front: it is certainly true that the President may be out way ahead of us all. He is smarter than I am, and much more politically savvy. He better be, because I want the smartest, most savvy person available in that job–it’s a tough job. Still, I find it hard to believe that there is any way to get from an Obama supported plan with little worthwhile in it to a real overhaul of our health care system by doing what the President is doing.

    Gerald Morris

    While this may be a good comment about the people at town hall meetings, that was not what my article was about.

    Steve Maurer

    You are right, I don’t expect Senator Nelson to say anything like that. I don’t expect much of anything good from the Senator on health care. “But since you just lump all Democrats together, apparently we'll never be able to put any pressure on anyone.” I do not lump all Democrats together. The article was a response to a fundraising letter from the Democratic National Committee, so I addressed them in my comments. As you must know, there is a wide range of differences among Democrats, from those nearly indistinguishable from moderate Republicans through moderate Democrats, continuing through progressive and on to the extreme. The point of my article is TO PUT pressure on ALL of our representatives in government. Hold them to their campaign promises (almost a quaint idea, isn’t it?) Expect them to represent our interests, not theirs. If they will not, then replace them. We now have the ability to run other candidates for party slots at least to the state level. If our representatives will not conduct government in public, we should replace them. It really is that simple. So long as the reality of our political system is that few “regular” people get into public office, and those who do tend either not to last, or to assimilate into the ranks of the privileged, we must hold them accountable, and demand that they conduct the public’s business in public, with fair and open dialog. It is messy. It is slow. But it is the only way we will keep our Republic.

    Wrench Monkey

    Actually, I think people vote for candidates who seem to present the best chance for the individual voter’s life to be better, or to keep being good. The confusion comes when we accept that what candidates say have little to do with what they do when elected, or what they even try to do. I am trying to re-connect that lost link by encouraging people to hold their elected representatives to that, as a minimum standard.

    JJ

    Chapter 3

    Genop

    “Please consider taking the lead and submitting a simplified plan with public option and get an up or down vote without conference or committee modification.” Sounds good to me.

    Kurt Chapman

    “…we won, you're not doing enough to push our goals/tactics/projects, you're not 'US' enough” You missed the point Completely. What I called for was for the President to stand up IN A VERY PUBLIC FORM and to present clear goals and clear programs to implement them, and to make very public the discussions about the goals and programs so that ALL people could see who was standing where in support or opposition. The point being that our representatives were elected because they claimed to support or oppose specific ideas and programs, and presumably those were what we (collectively) wanted. They were elected to represent the people. But the processes of creating change (or defeating it) are so obscure that few, if any, know what is going on. It isn’t a question of whether or not the government passes laws and regulations that I want, the question is who wants the laws and regulations that they do pass? They should represent the collective will of the people, not just me, or you, or corporate interests, or wealthy contributors. Their job is to craft legislation that will do that, to present it to us for comment and review, and to enact that legislation that represents our will. It amazes me how hard that is for many people to grasp. We are not stupid, but we are incredibly ignorant. As for a viable third party, the Republican and Democratic parties have pretty much made that functionally impossible. People in power always move to preserve that power.

    Rick

    “And to say that either side is "unwilling to compromise" is woefully inaccurate. But in this case, it seems that you are one voice who is "unwilling to compromise". Why does your unwillingness to compromise make you right and the other side's unwillingness to compromise make them wrong. I don't think they are unwilling to compromise. But you obviously are.” If you re-read the article I think you fill find that I did not say “either side” is unwilling to compromise. I didn’t talk about “sides,” I talked about individuals. There are a number of individuals who are unwilling to compromise on health care, for example. I said that the President and the Democrats (remember, this was a response to the Democratic National Committee) should stop trying to compromise with those unwilling to compromise. I did not say shut them out. I did not say ignore them. What I said was don’t try to compromise with them. All that leads to is losing sight of your objectives, and a watered-down half-solution that satisfies no one, in a futile attempt to reach compromise with those unwilling to do so. I encouraged the President to formulate clear policies and programs, and then engage in public debate about them. I encouraged the DNC to support him in doing so. Those who are willing to come to a mutually agreeable compromise will participate in the discussion. Compromises will probably be made, and the result is often better than what was proposed at the beginning. Those who are unwilling to compromise will make their case. All are valid and necessary. The value of public discussion (that is, discussion in the public, not discussion by the public, which should be another part of the process) allows us to see what our representatives are willing to fight for or against, and why. We can then decide if they are representing our interests. It may well be that those “unwilling to compromise” are representing their constituents well, and will be supported and returned to offices in subsequent elections. And I believe it should be so. I have no trouble with people being unwilling to compromise. I do have trouble with others wasting time trying to get them to compromise. And it is true that I, like almost everyone else, have things I won’t compromise. I think it is a strict violation of the Constitution, in spirit if not in fact to require everyone to buy health insurance from private health insurance companies. I will no compromise on that. Nor will I compromise my beliefs in basic human rights by condoning torture, nor creating a special category of detainee that removes basic legal protections, nor the exploitation of children, nor the oppression of peoples for any reason, including their skin color, gender, culture, religious or political beliefs, physical ability or sexual orientation. I stand ready to defend my uncompromising position on all of these things. That does not mean that others who do not agree with me are somehow less than me, or do not deserve to be heard, or are even wrong. It just means I will not compromise, and will do my best to eliminate these things that I believe are wrong whenever and wherever I encounter them.

    Jake Leander

    Thank you.

    Bill R.

    I agree that the President stepped into a messy process, but then he did spend 2 years asking for the job, and presumably understood it reasonably well beforehand. My objection is not that he is not implementing “my personal agenda”, it is that President Obama is not implementing much of anything that candidate Obama said he would if elected, and he is doing things he said he wouldn’t. I will not take space here for a listing of all of those. There is ample coverage elsewhere. I will take him to task for the four topics that were included in the letter from the DNC, because the letter asked for a response. It may well be that he cannot be held responsible for failing to win in a contest with a Congress dependent upon large contributions, but he can be held responsible for not making a credible effort. I agree with the quote from Past President Clinton–we should get it done, now. We simply disagree as to what constitutes “getting it done.” I think that the majority of US voters want a single-payer, universal health care system, not an insurance company based health care restriction system.

    Tom Vail

    While it sounds simple, it is doomed for failure. Not because of the merits of the bill, but because no substantial change could be implemented in two years, and anything less than substantial change will be inadequate.

    pacnwjay

    Well, we’ve got a chicken and egg thing here, don’t we? We can’t get better politicians (does the word “Statesman” echo in the wind?) until we get corporate money out of politics, and we can’t get corporate money out of politics until we get better politicians. But that is the promise of this last election, isn’t it? We now know we can energize huge numbers of voters without corporate money. We may need to do it slower than we want, like the radical right did in taking over the Republican Party, but we know we now have the communications tools to elect progressives (or conservatives if that is who gets out there with the most effective message) without needing to depend on the party or big money. We can start with the school boards, the city and county officials, and the state legislatures. WE can surely make changes at that level now, if we set our efforts to do it. The federal level will take longer, if only because it will take a wile to educate people enough to know where to get accurate information about who in office has actually been doing what. This is not about Republicans or Democrats; this is about candidates who will represent their constituents, conservative or liberal, wealthy or low-income, working class or privileged. This is about restoring democracy.

    paul g.

    “A single payer proposal without some private options will lose the Blue Dogs and the Susan Collins's of the world and will go down to flaming defeat. Are you ready to wait another 16 years for health care reform?” You may be right, but how do we know if we don’t try? Don’t say that history tells us. History told us we would not have the President we do today. Please remember that I said this should be a very public exchange of ideas. I believe that it is amply shown that when people know the details (in contrast to simple slogans) they are overwhelmingly in favor of single-payer. In a public forum, those who oppose single payer would have a chance to make their case, as would those in favor. When the discussion is public, those who oppose the will of the people will lose their seats, and we try again with new representatives. As it stands now, there is no unified effort, but a number of complex, unclear, and constantly changing versions of what might happen. Most of the critical discussion is private, with misinformation abounding. This leads to confusion, deception, and an angry electorate who simply wants to get clear answers as to how it all will affect them. Answers are unclear because there are no answers. This is not by chance. It is standard procedure, and helps those in power to stay in power, by demonstrating that individuals are powerless to make change. We can show them they are wrong. “…our system of higher education has been and continues to be the envy of the world…” for those with substantial means. So is our health care system. That doesn’t keep us from failing to educate more students (at all levels) than any other “advanced nation”, just as we fail to provide health care to more of our citizens that any other “advanced” nation. “Why would we want to be a ‘nation of producers’ rather than a nation of services, technology, education–the economic wave of the future?” Because when we consume more than we produce we are depending on a subsidy from the producers. How long do you want to depend on those subsidies? Fewer and fewer peoples are willing to be exploited by others, be they corporations or countries. That way leads to terrorism. “…services, technology, education--the economic wave of the future…” is a continuation of the economic vision that has brought us to the current inevitable collapse (and the massive public funding of an attempt to rebuild that same vision) – an economy based on unending growth: more and bigger, forever. Sorry, not possible in a physical reality. “Withdraw from all trade agreements? Yes, neo-isolationism and a new era of trade protectionism is just what our trade dependent economy (sic).” If you read what I wrote, in contrast to what you apparently read, you will find I said, “We need to regain control of our sovereignty by withdrawing from GATT, WTO and other international treaties and agreements that subjugate the will of the people to that of international corporations.” I did not advocate withdrawing from all trade agreements, just the ones that “subjugate the will of the people to that of international corporations.” Somewhat different from how you characterized it. I am not against international trade at all. I do think it needs to truly benefit all parties involved, though, not benefit some at the expense of others. “President Obama is standing up for what he promised.” Actually, he is not. He is not standing up for single-payer health care. If he is standing up for healthcare cost controls he has a funny way of doing it. He is not standing up for bringing and end to the war in Iraq (slowing it down some, perhaps, bringing some troops home or transferring them to Afghanistan, yes, but ending? It doesn’t look like it.) Bringing jobs to Main Street? It doesn’t seem so to the 20% plus (and growing) of our population who have no work, or can get only part-time work, or are holding two or 3 or 4 jobs so they can almost meet there monthly bills. “Let's get behind an agenda that we can be proud of…” I am trying, but where’s the agenda? “…AND one that can pass Congress and help the lives of ordinary Americans.” So, we just leave it up to Congress, they know what’s best. Here comes my wife’s voice again “How’s that working for you?” “That's the way to expand our majority in 2010.” If more of the same is what it leads to, why bother? We need people in Congress who will speak for the people, all the people. All the conservatives, all the liberals, all the crazies, all the narrow-minded, self-serving jerks and all the soft, girly men, all the punks, all the airheads, all the uninformed, all the over-privileged and all the underprivileged, all the gays and lesbians, bisexuals and trans-gendered, the right-to-lifers and the pro-choicers, the haters and the lovers, the good and the bad, and crazy uncle Charlie. We need people in Congress who will speak for us. Not just the highest bidders and the other people like those serving in Congress and the Administration.

    leftofhitler

    Might I simply reiterate what I said in my first reply to JJ: “The fact is that there is no discernable left in the United States anymore. Compared, say, to the United States in 1950’s, and most of the rest of the world today, in current public discourse there are the extreme right (the loudest, although not necessarily the most representative, voices in the Republican party), the far right (Rush and his ilk), the right (those who would have been recognizable as conservatives for the last hundred years or so), and the center (virtually all the rest of the voices heard in public, including most “progressives”.) There are a few voices to the left of center, but they are so marginalized that their voices are rarely heard in public, and when they are it is mostly to further marginalize them. On the national stage, there is little to distinguish the Republicans from the Democrats–they are both conservative parties, and both steadily moving to the right, as they have been for decades.”

    Joe White

    While it may seem logical, it seems a straw man argument to me. If we have single-payer health care, with universal coverage, why would an employer offer health insurance? Why not use the money to increase wages? If an employer wanted to offer an enhanced health care package, one that provided benefits in addition to the universal single-payer plan, that might well be a competitive advantage in attracting the best employees, and in that case, I agree, let the employer do it. That is the case on many countries that have single-payer or government plans, and it works well. I don’t think the premiums should be tax-exempt income, though, as they are now. That transfers part of the burden to everyone else.

    Joe White (again)

    “I hope all good liberals follow your example and vote straightline 3rd party.” If the Democrats and Republicans had not effectively made a viable 3rd party impossible, it might be a good idea.

    torridjoe

    Thanks for the good comments. I agree, generally, except that I don’t think it is a straightforward party-line split as your comments make it appear.

    Cerita Dewassa

    I’m convinced. I’m happy I could help, but I don’t know what you job is, so…

    Dave Porter

    So, we watch what everyone does, then vote to reelect the ones that get it right, and run strong candidates against those who don’t.

    Joe White

    “Liberals seem to think that raising taxes is the solution to everything. Even when the economy is difficult, liberals want more of your money.” One might just as well say, “Conservatives think that lowering taxes is the solution to everything. Even when the economy is flourishing, conservatives want to pay even less taxes.” In the past 20 years conservatives have presented tax cuts as the solution to everything. It used to be that conservatives were fiscally very careful, avoiding debt at almost any cost. I can remember the phrase from earlier campaigns used to excoriate Democrats, “Tax and spend liberals.” I never hear the phrase, “Print and spend conservatives.” Although the largest national deficits of the last 50 years have been created during times of conservative control of Congress and the largest reductions of the national debt when conservatives have lost control. The current unfunded bailout (multi-trillion dollar printing spree) was created for us as a result of conservative policies (abetted by Democrats, to be sure, but the conservatives led the charge.) “Why do liberals automatically default to 'more taxes' to solve everything?” Again, “Why do conservatives automatically default to ‘less taxes' to solve everything?” The only time I hear conservatives call for more taxes is when they use it as a tactic to kill a program not created by conservatives. “How 'bout the feds take the lead in implementing telecommuting? Hundreds of thousands of federal employees could work from home, saving gas, reducing pollution, lessening traffic and traffic accidents, saving families money on things like wear and tear of their vehicles, parking costs, child care expenses, clothes purchased for office wear, lunches eaten out, etc Large office buildings that use vast amounts of energy would be unnecessary or partially shuttered.” There are some good ideas there. I’m game. Let’s talk about it. “Let's talk about ways to reduce energy use WITHOUT raising taxes.” Sure. Make some suggestions. One of mine is to localize economies. What do you think?

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