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The Night Before
The day that was

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
March 21, 2010

As we move into the final hours of the health care debate, the nation has moved into a dark shadow, a place of ugliness that you usually only read about in history books, when nations are in their final extremities.

Last week, right wing commentators, led by the slime at Faux News, attacked an eleven year old boy who was campaigning for health care reform. Just a few months earlier, his mother had died of pulmonary hypertension, a condition that can be contained with medical treatment. However, she had been recently fired by Wal Mart (for calling in sick too many times) and had subsequently lost her health insurance. No longer able to afford her treatments, she died. The right wingers mocked the mother for dying, and attacked Democrats for “using” the boy, despite the fact that he was doing it of his own will and for something the right wingers will never understand, a noble cause.

Then, the other day, a man with Parkinson’s in Ohio was staging a one-man sit-in. He held a sign advocating health care reform. A crowd of anti-health care reform types gathered, and began mocking the man, telling him, “No handouts here” and “Get a job!” and throwing dollar bills at him.

Then, today, Democratic members of the House were set upon by protesters. Barney Frank was called a faggot. A protester spat on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, and another shouted “nigger!” at Representative John Lewis.

The demonstrators were egged on in this performance by Mike Pence, a Republican congressman from Indiana.

The Democratic congressmen reacted with considerable grace, and fortunately, the Capital police were there to make sure the crowd didn't elect to begin lynching or something.

I had to wonder what Lewis thought. He was in the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s, and had faced that sort of anger and hatred before. Surely, as he watched Obama take the oath of office a little over a year ago, he had believed that he would not have to face that particular monster again in his lifetime. I really wish that had been the case. The man fought so long and so hard, only to have to face these vicious and trivial people again.

Mike Pence should be thrown out of the House for even consorting with vicious trash like that.

If I had no other reason to support the Health Care Reform bill when the House votes on it tomorrow, I would do so for this one reason: No self-respecting nation should ever let trash like the people who attacked the kid, or bullied the Parkinson's protester, or who called some of the finest men America has ever produced “faggots and niggers” prevail. If nothing else, Congress should pass the bill just to repudiate such Brownshirt filth.

I watched the video of the people mocking the man with Parkinson's, and it reminded me of the vignettes from Nazi Germany in the mid 30s, when Brownshirts beat and humiliated Jewish elders in the street, spitting on them, laughing, and cutting off their hair and beards.

The only real difference here was that the police were quick to step in before things went that far.

The Teabaggers at the capital were shouting at a man who was beaten by teabag cognates in the 1960s for having the temerity to suggest that black people should be allowed to sit in the front of the bus. In their mindless fear and hatred, they couldn't see that John Lewis was STILL fighting for the right of people to ride in the front of the bus. Some of the people shouting and spitting at those Congressmen will be direct beneficiaries of the bill when it passes. How stupid is that?

With the Brownshirts, you could understand their fear and hatred, even if you could never excuse it. Germany had lost a terrible war, gone broke, seen a currency collapse, and was being sucked dry by obligations incurred by the war it started. Despite the howls of the Republicans, America isn't anywhere close to that level of desperation, and the Brownshirts didn't have to revolt against the fruits of their own track record, unlike the Republicans and their pet Teabaggers.

But I'm hoping the bill passes not just because I dislike Brownshirts and want to see them bitch-slapped.

I don't much like the bill itself. It leaves far too much power in the paws of the insurance companies and Big Pharm. It doesn't have a public option, so there's no real competitive goad. Of course, given my druthers, we would have single payer, and for-profit insurance companies and bosses wouldn't have a goddam thing to do with the availability and quality of health care anyone could get.

That's why most people don't like the bill. There's the 33% who would hate it just because the Republicans are against it, and another 15% – people who are left of center, generally – who think the bill has been stripped down so far it offers little in the way of real reform.

But a large majority of people still want to see comprehensive health care reform. Even one in five Republicans does.

Tactically, it's not a good bill. But strategically, it's great, because passage means the chokehold the GOP has inflicted on the country for having the temerity to deny their right to rule has been broken. It also, in and of itself, represents a good first step.

I don't want to think about what happens if the bill fails. Will it break the spirit of the American people, and send the country on its way to becoming another India, where a small population of supremely wealthy straddle a heaving, docile mass of the barely-fed? Or will it precipitate a revolution of some sort? I don't know, and I don't want to find out.

I'm amused at the claims by the likes of Karl Rove, Dick Morris and Dan Balz that the Democrats will pay a very heavy price if the bill passes. Aside from the sheer ludicrousness of a Faux “correspondent” like Rove actually expressing concern for the Democratic Party, there's the fact that they have come to believe their own propaganda, and really think Americans would prefer to keep the health care system the way it is. In fact, less than one in four people are satisfied with the medical status quo, no matter who is doing the polling.

Those same polls show that a majority of people still want single payer, or at least a public option. That hasn't changed, and it won't change after the bill has passed.

Once the shouting is over, and a couple of months have passed, people will notice that their taxes haven't doubled, and that they will qualify for federal assistance on their insurance rates. They'll note that they can still keep their insurance, or (as is usually the case), they still have whatever insurance company their employer has decided they shall have. They'll note that they have a wider range of doctors and treatment options.

They'll hear less about people being denied coverage due to preexisting conditions, and less people will be spending all their time fighting their insurance companies for coverage that usually is legitimately theirs.

Then you'll see the poll numbers start to shift, most noticeably for Obama. From the upper 40s approval that he has now (still more than double what the last one had!) he'll go back up to around 60, and be unbeatable in 2012.

As for Congress, well, it has a long way to go. A Field Poll in California the other day showed they only have a 12% approval rate. People like them more than Charlie Manson, but major earthquakes might be more popular. If only because earthquakes aren't boring.

Congress has its work cut out for it. But Dems will be at least twice as popular as Republicans, and they might even gain a few seats this fall, against all conventional wisdom.

So let Rove and Morris and Balz shed their tears of concern over the Democratic Party, and reflect that in private, they are shedding even more tears over the fate of a major political party that is NOT the Democrats.

And watch to see if they want to keep stirring up the Teabaggers to do their dirty work for them, and attack cripples and minorities in little krystalnachts.

About the time I sent it out, CNN reported: On CNN's "State of the Union," Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, who marched with Lewis in Selma called the slurs "contemptible. I denounce it in the strongest terms."

Posted: March 25, 2010

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