Quote of the moment
"In some circles, I am openly reviled. In others, I am simply irrelevant."
-- John Adams
The enormity of what happened still overwhelms me.
Still, even after all the endless commentary and analysis, arguments, memorials, and retrospectives I find it difficult to express how the events of that day, and even more, the developments in the subsequent decade, have shaped me. But I know that I am different. I know that this country is different.
I know this country was wounded on that day, and has not fully recovered.
Three thousand dead. More than Pearl Harbor.
Yet some would try to assert that it was never that big of a deal. That we should get over it. Even worse, that it is our first duty to God, conscience and Country to consider what faults of ours are responsible for this monstrous evil act of destruction, and to apologize as if ultimately we are to blame.
I will have none of it. None of it.
We are not perfect.
We as a nation, did not deserve this.
It continues to astound me that this has ever been an issue. Yet it is to this day.
The enormity of this divide, of this horrific fundamental chasm between values and worldviews between Americans weighs on me. I have come to accept it to a degree, and to learn from it where I can and occasionally grow from it, but it has left me mostly resigned to irreconcilable differences.
Hardly a satisfactory end.
The worst thing has been the loss of respect and affection for friends I once admired for their wisdom.
The next worst thing- or is it the worst? – is the loss of respect and affection in return. I’m not proud enough to say I don’t want their respect and affection back. I do want it back. But not at the cost of denying the Truth. I’m sure some of them feel the same way in reverse.
One of my core principles, which I have learned to appreciate via the wisdom of Dennis Prager, is to value clarity over agreement. It seems a simple proposition, but even this simple task has seemed to be too much as clarity has been to often obscured by spin, personal attacks, phoniness and talking points. Why this is the case remains a mystery to me, but the thesis that there is a high degree of motivation to keep the true nature of the disagreement out of the discussion seems a likely one, even if unintentional.
The undeniable fact of the matter is this: our response to 9/11 as a nation has, except for the few weeks following the attacks, been an exercise in disunity.
It was a gash on the national psyche, yet it revealed our differences as much as it has provided cause for them.
It is also unfinished business, that is, it remains ongoing.
Osama Bin Ladin is dead. That is a good thing, but it is certainly no VE Day. Even worse, the post-modern nature of this enemy- no nations, no uniformed armies involved – means that there will likely never be closure. Things may wind down in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there will never be a treaty, a parade, a proper homecoming. Therefore achieving true closure will be almost impossible. We will have to settle for something else.
The undeniable fact is this: our nation has suffered from this act of evil. We have gone through a national trauma together. We will each heal from it or just move on from it in different ways.
Most people seem to be going for some kind of denial, a hardening of the heart, and most importantly, a big dose of sentimentality- an American favorite. What I don’t see a lot of is the naming of this act as evil.
Why would this be? Most likely the reason is to name it as evil is to expect a response, a response that must go beyond sanctimonious declarations about the undesirability of war. Evil must be stopped. Evil must be fought. Too many are weary of this fact and want to avoid it, or insist that by understanding the enemy he will somehow cease wanting to kill us and therefore our duty to kill him first will be suspended. That “acts of Christian love” those that “seek to understand more than to be understood” will somehow carry the day.
Christian love and understanding are good things. But they are not the only things. There are nations with governments and armies and those things live and breathe and will act in the world. Policies will be made, orders given and executed, some by loving Christians, some not. I would hate to put all those things in such stark opposition. You would think sometimes from our lazy pronouncements we believe that to be the case. It is not. Neither are they in perfect harmony. The whole business of justice and peace is messy and broken start to finish. Yet it must be attempted with courage, valor and humility if the innocent are to be protected. Superior firepower and information helps too.
This was a good day for me. It started rough, but I have had much prayer for me today as well as some good discussion.
It was an intimate day. Beneath the tension and sadness we really do care for one another. We struggle to understand each other– well some more than others– but I think everyone believes on some level that things should be better than they are today. And maybe someday they will.
I talked to my children today about the events of ten years ago. We had an illustrated book, but didn’t really read it. I just used it to explain to them why there is a war and why we pray for soldiers over there. I thought they might get scared or sad, but they didn’t. I’m hoping that’s because they took cues from the Countess and I, but it’s probably because it’s still a little too far outside their understanding. That’s OK. The world’s more full of weeping than they can understand. Grown-ups are working to protect them now. That’s what they need to know.
I am officially ending this blog, with this persona, this voice and this purpose. I will continue to have lots to say and express, but it won’t be here.
I’m sorry we broke each others hearts here. I wish I could un-read and un-hear certain comments. I might have rephrased some things, I might have pursued some arguments in a different direction, I might have presented more of the information I’m really interested in if I had the time. Too many times I got sucked into events and forgot about he big picture. I regret all that, if only for the fact that I myself may wish it had been written down here for me to look at later.
I feel at peace. It’s time to move on.
The steady stream of mendacity, ad hominem attacks and Obamafuscation continues (shocker) in the comments. It’s sad to say but I never thought it would come to this level of desperagement and disrespect -from both sides frankly. I’m appalled at what I read, and in a way appalled at what comes out of this keyboard. But we all have to call it like we see it.
Timmy C. in particular makes a bunch of truth-claims and counter-accusations to my previous post that are so poorly reasoned and/or misleading I truly despair of ever finding any sort of common ground about the most basic things. I mean, why waste time arguing about bullshit? Single-payer is a perfectly reasonable, coherent choice in the healthcare debate. Let’s talk about that. Let’s skip the part about how Obama has nothing to do with wanting single-payer. I understand that’s not literally in any bill under consideration. Just try to look a few moves into the game and see where that leads. Look at the motivations. That’s what alarms me most.
I know that the public option surruptitiously leading to single-payer sounds like a corny movie plot. But that is what is being attempted, and I would expect those committed to the truth would at least want an open debate about what’s really going on, not some bullshit debate.
The truth is this: Prof. Hacker has very much influenced the thinking of our President on healthcare, and a fundamentally dishonest attempt to foist single-payer on the American people is underway. Don’t believe me or a hacked up video? I can’t say I don’t blame you. But conservatives are not the only people discussing this: in certain progressive circles this is being discussed quite openly, as in this August 18th post at Tapped, the blog for The American Prospect “The History of the Public Option”:
The public option was part of a carefully thought out and deliberately funded effort to put all the pieces in place for health reform before the 2008 election — a brilliant experiment, but one that at this particular moment, looks like it might turn out badly. (Which is not the same as saying it was a mistake.)
One key player was Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America’s Future. Hickey took UC Berkley health care expert Jacob Hacker’s idea for “a new public insurance pool modeled after Medicare” and went around to the community of single-payer advocates, making the case that this limited “public option” was the best they could hope for. Ideally, it would someday magically turn into single-payer. And then Hickey went to all the presidential candidates, acknowledging that politically, they couldn’t support single-payer, but that the “public option” would attract a real progressive constituency.
It’s obvious as the day is long that Barack Obama has distanced himself form single-payer for one reason, and one reason only: it’s not politically viable in this country.
Following Edwards’ lead, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton picked up on the public option compromise. So what we have is Jacob Hacker’s policy idea, but largely Hickey and Health Care for America Now’s political strategy. It was a real high-wire act — to convince the single-payer advocates, who were the only engaged health care constituency on the left, that they could live with the public option as a kind of stealth single-payer, thus transferring their energy and enthusiasm to this alternative. It had a very positive political effect: It got all the candidates except Kucinich onto basically the same health reform structure, unlike in 1992, when every Democrat had his or her own gimmick. And the public option/insurance exchange structure was ambitious.
But the downside is that the political process turns out to be as resistant to stealth single-payer as it is to plain-old single-payer.
I guess the American people aren’t as easily fooled as they thought. But I know at least one who’s been fooled!
The good news is that people are ready for big change. But the hard reality, from the point of view of all of us who understand the efficiency and simplicity of a single-payer system, is that our pollsters unanimously tell us that large numbers of Americans are not willing to give up the good private insurance they now have in order to be put into one big health plan run by the government.
Pollster Celinda Lake looked at public backing for a single-payer plan – and then compared it with an approach that offers a choice between highly regulated private insurance and a public plan like Medicare. This alternative, called “guaranteed choice” wins 64 percent support to 22 percent for single-payer. And even the hard core progressive part of the population, which Celinda calls the “health justice” constituency, favors “guaranteed choice” over single-payer.
The idea is to call it something more palatable, while retaining the same goals: destroying private insurance over time and creating a single-payer system. How post-modern! Hickey continues:
“I know that if we let private insurance companies offer policies as part of an expanded system of health care for all, we are going to have to regulate them so much that we force them to change their business model – insuring everyone who applies for coverage and not cherry-picking to insure just the young and the healthy – and preventing them from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. And I know full-well that even in the best of circumstances these companies will never be able to match the low overhead and cost controls that a public system like Medicare has historically achieved.”
Eventually, the private companies won’t be able to compete and will be forced out of business.
As for the claim that Hacker has basically nothing to do with Obama, that’s pretty much devastated by this portion of the speech:
The model for the simple “guaranteed choice” plan that we’ve been testing with the pollsters is the “Health Care for America” plan written by political scientist Jacob Hacker at Yale. For more than a year, Richard and Diane and I have been working with Hacker to refine his ideas – and to use them to engage the Presidential candidates.
Hacker’s “Health Care for America” would guarantee health care for everyone. He would require employers to provide health insurance for their workers (with a good benefit package) or pay into a public fund to cover their employees. Individuals and families would be able to choose between several private insurance plans – all with a regulated set of benefits and costs — or a public plan, similar to Medicare, that would compete with the private insurance companies. An analysis of the Hacker plan by the Lewin Group found that at least half the population would eventually choose the public plan, due to its better efficiency and better benefits.
Starting in January, we began to take Jacob Hacker to see the presidential candidates. We started with John Edwards and his advisers — who quickly understood the value of Hacker’s public plan, and when he announced his health proposal on Meet The Press, he was very clear that his public plan could become the dominant part of his new health care program, if enough people choose it.
Edwards got a lot of credit for being the first top-tier candidate with a comprehensive proposal. But, in a virtuous competition, Barak Obama soon matched him with a remarkably similar plan, developed (with our advice) in a process guided by Mark Alexander, who will speak on the next panel. Obama was even more explicit that, while his plan is also full of choice, people would be automatically signed up with his public plan, unless they specified one of his private insurance options. And then on September 17, we sighed a sigh of relief when we heard Hillary Clinton roll out her health care package.
Perhaps still cautious from her experience in the early 1990s, Hillary had started this campaign for the White House talking vaguely about insuring all kids in her first term and trying for universal health care only in her second term. Thanks to our prodding, and the competition of her democratic opponents, she is now talking about a major push for health care for all in her first term, with a plan with all the key elements outlined by Edwards and Obama – and Jacob Hacker.
Hacker was clearly involved with Obama in his campaign, both in terms of policy and political strategy: a political strategy that at it’s heart is fundamentally dishonest. To say “he’s not a current advisor” is just weasel words. Of course he has influenced Obama. Or is Hickey lying?
Do proposals on the table now conform exactly with Hacker’s policies as advised by Campaign for America’s Future? I’m sure there’s going to be some discrepancies, but that doesn’t particularly help me to trust the President’s intentions. Based on the evidince above, any reasonable person has cause to believe that the motive to introduce the public option is as a way to single payer. I don’t know why that’s so contentious except as a matter of politics.
We already had a post showing how Barney Frank – no small player – believes the public option is the way to single-payer. Here’s another one from Hot Air showing how Rep. Keith Ellison believes the exact same thing. (I love how Ed points out how Ellison says, “This is competition,” and in the very next breath that it will lead to a single-payer system.) Here’s a video of a Health Care for America organizer, uh, instructing folks how to shout down people like me with real questions.
The point is not wether these people want single-payer to come into being. The point is that this is what they will believe will eventually happen if these reforms take place. If I am mistaken, these people are mistaken too. That’s a logical, reasonable position that does not stretch anyone’s words or intentions, and I am tired of Timmy trying to cover up for that fact. It’s a waste of time, when there’s real stuff to talk about.
We’ll see what actually comes to pass, but it’s being reported that the President will double-down on the public option in his speech tomorrow. I have no qualms about asserting that he views the public option as a way to a single-payer health care system. None at all. Or, for that matter, that the President’s plan will lead to massive public funding for abortions on a scale never seen in this country, as Factcheck.org confirms. What I do have a problem with is the sputtering ad-hominem attacks (thankfully, not Timmy’s specialty) and the half-truths and mendacious reasoning required to turn this radical restructuring into a moderate proposal.
Oh yeah, and no changing the definition of words so you can win the argument. The dictionary is the authority on that one.
The Countess just finished reading the text of the school speech for tomorrow, and concluded as I had that it’s really no big deal. If the President wants to spend his time admonishing kids to wash their hands, go for it. Obama voter Ann Althouse has already picked it apart, noting among other things, that it’s ten times longer than the Gettysburg Address… but is it ten times as good?
What seemed weird to me in a Dear Leader way was the study materials – probably doomed to be ignored by most classrooms is my guess – that had some question about how the studendt “could help the President”. That’s just weird to me. The President should be there to ask the kids how to help their country. Not him. I’m pretty sure I would feel that way if the roles were reversed.
There’s enough real controversy without manufacturing more. I mean, the guy is President… he gets to do stuff like this if he wants. Get over it. Still, as Dr. Helen notes, there is a certain… lightweight quality to Obama’s remarks. That’s the trap with talking to kids. Still I think there could have been a way to make them more profound and coherent: by shortening them. That will work wonders, even if you are the One.
Hot Air analyzes Obama’s speech and a similar one to kids by President Reagan (see a Republican did the same thing!… and Democrats complained… probably more justifiably.) What ever. It’s the 1st day of school tomorrow and I don’t even think our school has enough AV equipment to make it happen. It’s just a blip, and I tend to think the first Black President telling kids to do the right things is overall a good thing.
Ambassador Ryan Crocker, along with General Petraeus, are two of my heroes in the difficult story of Iraq and Afghanistan. This long interview in Newsweek captures what I think is both the right analysis of what happened- both right and wrong.
What he also personifies, along with Petraeus, is the right tone– one that seeks the succes of US and humanitarian interests, recognizes that there is a military and diplomatic side of success, and doesn’t spend a lot of effort on venting his spleen in finding blame for the many failures of the past years. Well worth reading the whole thing.
None other than Michael Barone introduced me to the latest hacked together group of quotes today in his column. Barone is no bomb-thrower, and he throws his full support behind this latest one, featuring quotes form Obama and a couple of more behind-the-scenes types who are nevertheless very influential and excellent examples of two kinds of liberals: the unlikable, unprincipled anything goes cut-throat (chief deputy whip in the House Democratic leadership); and the likeable principled and soft-spoken radical (professor Jacob Hacker). As an aside, things would go on a lot easier at SMD if our favorite commenter had the honesty of either of these two folks.
The first quotes are from the unrefuted AFL-CIO video from 2003 (unedited version):
“I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that’s what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.”
Obama is clearly equating single payer and universal health care. They are one and the same. And he knows it’s going to take a while to get people to go for the socialization of medicine, so complete Democratic control of the Government is needed.
As a collary, which is obvious to all except the most credulous lickspittle, is that announcing your intent to socialize the American medical system as a candidate for, or occupant of the White House, is also a necessary tactic. The dogs might not know what’s good for them. So you have to lie, distort and make half-truths 24/7 until you get them to want what you want them to want. Because universal health care (and the power that goes with who administrates it) is a very, very desirable thing to have.
Lest you think this is made up, I have Chicago Democrat Rep. Jan Schakowsky to thank for her extreme honesty. As Barone relates:
The video shows her speaking to an enthusiastic group last April. She cites an insurance company spokesman as saying, “A public option will put the private insurance industry out of business and lead to single-payer.” The audience cheers. “My single-payer friends,” she goes on, “he was right.” Later she adds, “This is not a principled fight. This is a fight about strategy for getting there, and I believe we will.”
They couldn’t be more clear. Says Prof. Hacker:
(speaking of the government option in 2008) he says, “Someone told me this was a Trojan horse for single-payer. Well, it’s not a Trojan horse, right? It’s just right there. I’m telling you. We’re going to get there, over time, slowly, but we’ll move away from reliance on employer-based health insurance as we should, but we’ll do it in a way that we’re not going to frighten people into thinking they’re going to lose their private insurance. We’re going to give them a choice of public and private insurance when they’re in the pool, and we’re going to let them keep their private employer-based insurance if their employer continues to provide it.”
Until their employee dumps them into the the government option; or they change jobs; or their plan changes even slightly and it no longer complies with government standards. Then it will be government run healthcare for the employee despite the false promises being made right now. And to think that just a few years ago Wal-Mart was being criticized because too many of its employees were on Medicare! That’s exactly what’s in store for up to 100 million American households according to one study.
As for Timmy’s disputed quote from May 2007, here’s the full transcript at the progressive Center of American Progress. For the record I actually think is one of the best Obama interviews I have seen or read, and is definitely one of the many reasons Americans trusted him with the Presidency and health care. He does sound quite reasonable too, and that’s where the devil gets in those details. Here’s some fuller context:
As I indicated before, I think that we’re going to have to have some system where people can buy into a larger pool. Right now their pool typically is the employer, but there are other ways of doing it. I would like to — I would hope that we could set up a system that allows those who can go through their employer to access a federal system or a state pool of some sort. But I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There’s going to be potentially some transition process. I can envision a decade out or 15 years out or 20 years out where we’ve got a much more portable system. Employers still have the option of providing coverage, but many people may find that they get better coverage, or at least coverage that gives them more for health care dollars than they spend outside of their employer. And I think we’ve got to facilitate that and let individuals make that choice to transition out of employer coverage.
I do believe that employers are going to have to pay or play. I think that employers either have to provide health care coverage for their employees or they’ve got to make a decision that they’re going to help pay for those who don’t have coverage outside the employer system.
See how the more seasoned candidate Obama has learned to fuzzy up the picture so that a great many people can hear what ever they want in his proposal. “Single-payer” and “universal health care” are out. As he said in his first book:
It was usually an effective tactic, another one of those tricks I had learned: (White) People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves. They were more than satisfied;they were relieved – such a pleasant surprise to find a well-mannered young black man who didn’t seem angry all the time.
That doesn’t keep him from clearly stating his goal however: the elimination of private insurance in 15-20 years. Why else would he say that? The mechanism for that change is not important to him “a federal or state pool of some sort”. Change is important: “The most important challenge for us is to build a political consensus around the need to solve this problem. ” He also wants to help business: “You know, large corporations recognize that they can’t be competitive on the international stage if their health care costs are rising at a constant clip and their competitors don’t have to pay any health insurance because it’s all covered through a government system.”
The unspoken answer to the problem? How about something where American businesses “don’t have to pay any health insurance because it’s all covered through a government system. ” Sounds like a good idea to me!
He’s watching the little guys paycheck too: “I get most disturbed when I start hearing the best way to save the system is basically to cut reimbursements to hospitals or cut reimbursements to doctors or, you know, stop giving raises to nurses or have nurses work 10, 12, 15 patients or 20 patients.”
You know what disturbs me and most Americans? Rationing, specifically rationing by a government run health care system. Because when an insurance company denies you coverage they promised you, at least you can sue them. When health insurance companies ration health care it’s evil money grubbing. But with government, rationing becomes savings! And if Obama is disturbed by the idea of rationing, he doesn’t show it in this interview. It’s all about being the most red-state friendly in language possible at the time he’s seeking votes. But based on the company Obama keeps, his original ideals- which I think any honest person knows Obama still harbors on some level- its utterly logical and fair to think that at the very least, Obama would not veto any legislation passed by the most vigorous efforts of a very left-leaning Congress. There are no red lines to cross, not even funding for abortion. That would be just a distraction for this “anti-abortion” President.
The tragedy of the situation is that if the President actually was some kind of centrist reach across the aisle type, he might get some traction from Conservatives on the exchange idea on a State level. Decoupling health insurance from the employers and bringing it to employees on an individual or non-employer specific group that is portable would also have some support. The President, much to his credit, has made health care an important issue for everyone , even though most people are happy with their coverage. Sadly, much of the interest comes form not wanting to get screwed by the Federal Gubment.
Contrary to he Presidents insulting straw man argument against “those who would do nothing” there is a great many Conservative ideas out there on health care. House leader John Boener shares some good Republican ideas blocked by Democrats. Here’s a good column by Charles Krauthhammer with some great ideas, like questioning why we get health insurance from our employers. Given Obama’s supposed friendliness to the idea of eliminating employer health care, couldn’t that be a point of agreement? Because according to Krathammer “It was advocated by candidate John McCain. Obama so demagogued it last year that he cannot bring it up now without being accused of the most extreme hypocrisy and without being mercilessly attacked with his own 2008 ads.” Ooops.
His heart wouldn’t be in it anyway. Even though Timmy tries to pass off the idea of an exchange as completely having nothing to do with government run health care, I think that position is believable only if you take Obamas talking points at face value, which given his past statements, plus his undisputed position that if he was “starting from scratch” he would create a single payer system, is unwarranted, not to mention unwise for those opposed to the idea. Single payer is clearly his ideal. Yet because he obviously can’t start a system from scratch one is supposed to believe that he’s is going to be vigilantly on guard against the encroachment of a government run plan? Ridiculous.
For an entirely sensible critique of the House and Senate health bills, I highly recommend this piece by the Heratige Foundation: A Federal Health Insurance Exchange Combined with a Public Plan.
Their take on his use of an insurance exchange:
the President is not pursuing a national exchange as a way to create a robust and competitive national market for health insurance. Health insurance is an odd exception to the general rule. There is a robust and competitive market for virtually every other set of goods and services in the economy, including complex items, and none of these requires the congressional creation of anything like a national exchange, administered by a commissioner, to facilitate their availability to consumers. If the President wanted to create a national market for health insurance, he could simply propose the repeal of outdated provisions of federal law that erect barriers to the purchase of health coverage across state lines. The President is obviously not interested in creating anything like a normal national, competitive market for health insurance.
…. most important, the national health insurance exchange would become the mechanism for the new government health plan to compete against private health insurance plans. This would seem to be its main function…
…based on the best independent evaluations of such an arrangement, millions of Americans throughout the United States would end up losing their private coverage, particularly if employers dumped workers and their families into the new public plan.
By millions, they mean 100 million- a 48.4 percent reduction in private coverage when full coverage is achieved. This will not happen by Americans choosing anything. It will be a transaction between the employers and the government, to nobody’s benefit. Obama, and the Congressional Democrats are in no way trying to create something along lines acceptable the Heritage Foundation. At each and every stop we find a passivity to, if not outright on-fire support for government-run health care at the expense of private insurers.
PS: I know I used some excess invective. I always like to give one the out if you’d rather focus on that than the substance of the argument!
Video suspended for suspect credibility. Please see explanation in my reply to Timmy C’s comment.
This is the Count, and I’m hijacking the Duke’s thread. After viewing Timmy’s comments, I’ve decided to reinstate this video. If nothing else, the idea that President Obama would like to use the Public Option as a way of getting this country to a single payer health care system is in the words of Howard Dean “an interesting theory“. As such it should be up for discussion, which may or may not result in rebuttal. I will not be intimidated into taking it down, nor will I remove it out of some misguided and naive notion of fairness which the Democrats have no intention of honoring themselves.
Don’t like it? Get a thrill up your leg an inform on me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In brief, after perusing Timmy’s links below, I feel that this video is fair enough in it’s points and it is once again Timmy who is credulous as to Democratic talking points.
The argument for single-payer is pretty good and worth having- why not just skip to that instead of pretending that’s not the ultimate goal? More later— The Count
Dick Morris told variations of this story a number of times:
You’ve probably heard the story about the tycoon who wanted to bring out a new kind of dog food.
He spent lavishly. He hired the best marketing person, the top PR firm, the best ad agency, the No. 1 packaging expert, the most powerful distributor — but the sales were flat after six months.
He summoned his consultants to a meeting and asked why the food wasn’t selling. “The dogs won’t eat it,” was the answer that came back.
Apparently, a lot of Americans feel the same way about Obamacare. A lot of them. And they behave just like this lil guy: