29 June 2017

Re: Hillary at ALA - Fantastic!

Clinton is smart, and capable, and it's tragic that she didn't become our president due to an archaic flaw in our Constitution. (Why, o why is the Democratic Establishment not pushing the National Popular Vote Compact harder!? It's currently FAILING here in Oregon!!) Having said that, I can't really look at her without thinking, why did we let this happen? Clinton was the wrong candidate, beset with baggage and neoliberal associations that are exactly wrong for our current political milieu, with a terrible, very poorly thought through campaign, and a tepid, uninspiring message. Just when our party needed a bold, charismatic leader and agenda, we got "Trump is unthinkable, and I'm the sober one." Didn't work, and we should never have thought it would. We lost an election we could not afford to lose, and it's impossible not to hold her partly accountable for that. History certainly will. 

We must turn the page and embrace a much bolder approach. I recommend Naomi Klein's No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need or listening to Robert Reich's Resistance Report podcast for some ideas about where the Democrats need to go if we are to reverse the Radical Right AntiDemocratic Takeover, which is now terrifyingly close to complete victory. (And if you doubt that, take a look at Democracy in Chains, by Nancy MacLean). 

On Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 7:03 PM, Jim Heidt <jimh6951@gmail.com> wrote:
A great presentation at the AmerLibr Assn meeting.    Jim H

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Charles Hanson <chanson449@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 4:00 PM
Subject: Hillary at ALA - Fantastic!
To: Jim Heidt <jimh6951@gmail.com>

28 June 2017

Democracy in Chains

My next major political history nonfiction book will be Democracy in Chains: 
The Deep History of the Radical Right's Secret Plan for America  by Nancy Maclean, a historian at Duke University. There was a good interview with her by Sam Seder on Majority Report yesterday (podcast). She recounts the origin and strategy, now very close to victory, by the Libertarian ("Virginia School") Right Wing to completely hijack and destroy American Democracy. (Make no mistake, and it's no joke, people like Hayek, Murray Rothbard, Charles Koch, James Buchanan (not the 15th president and not Pat Buchanan, but one of the most sinister political philosophers of modern times)... these people do not believe in Democracy. Their goal is to seize power and change the constitution to protect the rights of a single minority, and their final coup will be an Article V Constitutional Convention (they're only 6 states short already). Whereupon they will proceed to destroy what's left of Democracy in America forever. 

This is a serious threat. Not a joke. Not a polite disagreement. It's war, or revolution. And we are losing. We must organize to resist this movement before it's too late, and a good place to start is by reading this book, along with George Lakoff's The Political Mind, in order to understand exactly what it is we're up against. 

23 June 2017

Utterly despicable evil that is the Republican Tax Cut Plan Masquerading as a Health Care Plan

I oscillate between black rage and pernicious, gnawing despair at the pure evil which is the Republican Tax Cut claiming to be a Health Care Plan. And my emotional response is largely fueled by the intellectual realization that it will most likely become law, and its dreadful, actually murderous, effects are very likely to actually occur. People I know very well will be terribly hurt by this. People in my own family will be faced with terrible dilemmas, and restrictions of choices. And, far worse, many, many thousands of Americans will needlessly die and suffer from lack of needed health care because of the cruelty and vicious disregard for their fellow humans that is the hallmark of today's Republicans. This isn't some difference of opinion among civilized people. It is a dichotomy between common decency and outright barbarism. 

I understand the need to focus on what can be done to change the political trends, and I do believe that the Democratic Party, if it embraces a genuinely progressive agenda and comes up with people who can promote that agenda as a program for positive change, not a stop gap of damage control (which is never very inspiring), can prevail in 2018 and 2020. It will take work, but it can be done. 

I cannot deny it: my hatred for the policy is also personal. The prospect of the terrible, truly incredible human suffering that these people are willing to wreak while they yet wield power, just to eke out a little bit more in unfair tax breaks for their richest constituents, simply appalls. Truly. I can not help but feel genuine, fulminating hatred for these people. I am committed to nonviolence and peaceful political action. But that does not change the fact that, while try always to practice compassion and lovingkindness, I am not capable of it in this context: this action is so evil that I cannot help but personalize it, and feel hatred and utter disdain for those who are promulgating it. 

I can only hope that others who feel as I do will try, as I will try, to channel that energy into action to actually do something to change this situation, through peaceful democratic political processes. 

The details are largely unimportant. The overriding principle is at stake. Everywhere in the advanced world, except here, the principle that citizens are entitled to reasonable, first world health care, and the the society must structure a system to pay for it, is accepted. There is no reason, other than greed and arrogant contempt for humanity, that we can not do this. And this bill will take giant steps backwards, to a status FAR WORSE than what we had before the Affordable Care Act. This is simply fact, and arguing over this or that detail, as they do on Vox's The Weeds and other forums, is pointless. This policy is especially cruel to the poor who depend on Medicaid (which is largely slated to be destroyed, so that it cannot work at all), as well to lower to middle income older people, who face costs for woefully inadequate health coverage so cripplingly high that many millions will opt not to pay for it. Instead, they will risk catastrophe and go bare, without insurance. Many of those people will suffer sickness and death, without care, as a result. This is evil, pure and simple. Not bad policy. EVIL. 

We must fight this, now, and until this evil is excoriated from our body politic. 

20 June 2017

I am Polyanna, but . . .

I just emailed this to Sen. Schumer: 

Dear Sen. Schumer: 

I believe that we Democrats have a historic opportunity in 2018 and 2020 to reverse course in a major way, but that a bold, clearly articulated agenda is needed. Democrats should call a CONVENTION, next year, not to nominate a candidate but to forge a platform, a broadly agreed upon Progressive "contract with America" (need another name). Democrats will then run on this, as a unified party that stands for something that is clearly what the American people want, in contrast to tax cuts for the rich and huge cuts in programs that benefit everyone else. And I think the fact that in broad outlines Democrats win by turning their backs on neoliberalism and supporting a "Bernie Sanders agenda," in the main, is now established fact. 

But the immediate plank in the platform that should be put forward as soon as possible, even if the horrible Senate Republican tax cut masquerading as a health care bill is rammed through, is a DEMOCRATIC health care alternative. Even if it can't gain any legislative traction, it can be out there. Promoted and published, written about, summarized, even touted in TV commercials as what we will do when we get the chance, so give us the chance. And what it should be is the "fix not repeal," but really more than that. It should include smart ideas about how to make the exchanges work, but what its real core should be are two things:  an immediate, real, sustainable and adequate public option, and an opt-out phase in of Medicare for All, with enhancements to make Medicare eventually function as a single payer system of good quality and efficient health care, with some kind of Medicare Advantage system for those who want to pay more for private, enhanced coverage. I think such a plan is already a compromise from pure national health service type coverage that would be all but impossible to pass. Sure, even this kind of plan is a long way from where we are, but our party NEEDS TO STAND FOR SOMETHING, and that something should include real universal health care. 

Democrats across the country are champing at the bit to unify around a boldly progressive party agenda, which recognizes that we have to get there from here, but also recognizes that the challenges on the environment, health care, economic inequality and skewed tax system that favors the rich, all need to be addressed with strong, sweeping, and INSPIRING policy initiatives. Wall Street will be fine; they will adapt. It's Main Street we need to worry about.