Silencing the left

Friday, July 31st, 2009 · 46 Comments »


The Black Agenda Report is one of a handful of left-wing blogs that have consistently criticized Obama’s Republican-lite politics, beginning in the early days of his campaign. In a post on healthcare last week, Bruce Dixon asked, “Why are corporate media pretending that no opinions exist to Obama’s left?”

Part of the blame lies with Republican propagandists, who — hilariously — have chosen to depict Obama as a commie pinko leftist who wants to turn the U.S. into a socialist utopia. (If only.) The charge is especially ludicrous since Obama is just about the most Republican-friendly Democrat around. Of the three major Democratic presidential candidates last year, he was easily the most conservative, and his administration has proven to be a corporatist Republican’s dream-come-true.

But opposition propaganda from the GOP isn’t tethered to reality and never has been; John Kerry was called a socialist too. That’s how wingnuttery works: all Democratic opponents, no matter how anodyne or conservative or pseudo-Republican, are vilified as communists who are going to nationalize industry and pack everybody off to collective farms. I even remember a column from 2004 that analyzed the Stalinism lurking in John Kerry’s campaign slogan.

Anti-Kerry cartoon from 2004.

Anti-Kerry cartoon from 2004.

With Obama, though, there’s another factor: his own rabid fan-base. By elevating this rather centrist Democrat to the status of progressive icon, and ignoring or mischaracterizing any substantive criticism of him from the left, Obama’s Democratic supporters have effectively created the myth that Obama is the ne plus ultra of liberalism.

Remember when Amanda Marcotte showed up here to call me a Rush Limbaugh-supporting wingnut because I was disgusted by Obama’s appointment of Tim Kaine, Pro-Life White Man Extraordinaire, as chair of the DNC? At the time I chalked it up to Amanda’s own personal nuttiness, but she was probably just trying to do her part for the cause. I’ve heard stories from other people who were also branded wingnuts and crypto-Republicans when they, too, offered a leftist or feminist critique of Obama. There seems to be a concerted effort by Obama’s supporters to pretend that only far-right racists and freakazoids could possibly have a problem with Our Barry.

Certainly that was rife before the election, when PUMAs were regularly slandered as GOP ratfuckers. In fact, most PUMAs I knew were staunch feminists and Democrats who were appalled by Obama’s sexism, corruption, and pseudo-Republicanism. As I wrote last summer:

…my problem with Obama is that he’s not liberal enough. If anybody’s a crypto-Republican, it’s him. The Obama movement combines all the worst elements of Republicanism into one juggernaut package: Rovian cheating, Reaganesque marketing, Bushian pseudo-religious fervor, wingnut propaganda, mindless worship of authority, hatred of women, contempt for the disadvantaged, and of course GOP political positions on everything from FISA to the environment.

Yet the myth of Obama the Progressive, bravely fighting off evil wingnut opponents, continues — and never more so than in the current healthcare debate. In the Obama-worshipping fantasy world of Salon, Joan Walsh asks urgently, “Is the GOP using race to block Obama agenda?” But what is Obama’s agenda? Joan thinks it’s to implement “reforms that will expand healthcare to those who don’t have it, bring costs down for those who do (and for the government), and reduce the incentives for profiteers to greenlight unnecessary coverage, and block needed care, all in the interest of big profits.” And Joan is worried that “Blue Dogs and allegedly ‘moderate’ Republicans” — and, of course, the racist wingnuts referenced in her title — will derail the dream.


This is what happens when the left is silenced. This is what happens when you pretend that the Reagan clone you elected President is actually Che Guevara. Let’s go back to the Black Agenda Report for a summary view of what Obama’s healthcare agenda really looks like to those of us on the left (and be sure to click over to read the whole thing):

Top Ten Ways To Tell Your President & His Party Aren’t Fighting For Health Care For Everybody

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

1. Their plan doesn’t cover the uninsured till at least 2013.

2013 isn’t “day one.” It’s not even after the midterm election. It’s clear after the president’s second term, if he gets one. Congress passed Medicare in 1965 and president Lyndon Johnson rolled out coverage for millions of seniors in eleven months, back in the days before they even had computers…

2. Their “public option” isn’t Medicare, won’t bring costs down and will only cover about 10 million people.

The “public option” was sold to the American people as Medicare-scale plan open to anybody who wants in that would compete with the private insurers and drive their costs downward. But in their haste not to bite the hands that feed them millions in campaign contributions each hear, the president and his party have scaled the public option back from a Medicare-sized 130 million to a maximum of 10 million, too small to put cost pressure in private insurers. Worse still, the president and his party are playing bait-and-switch, not telling the public they have reduced the public option to nearly nothing…

3. The president and his party have already caved in to the drug companies on reimporting Canadian drugs, on negotiating drug prices downward and on generics.

This explains why Big Pharma, the same people who ran the devastating series of anti-reform “Harry and Louise” ads to spike the Clinton-era drive to fix health care are spending $100 million to run Obama ads using the president’s language about “bipartisan” solutions to health care reform.

4. The president and his party have received more money from private insurers and the for-profit health care industry than even Republicans, with the president alone taking $19 million in the 2008 election cycle alone, more than all his Republican, Democratic and independent rivals combined.

…Is there any wonder that the insurance companies, like the drug companies are also running “bipartisan health care reform” commercials using the president’s exact language?

5. The president’s plan, and those of Republicans and Democratic blue dogs too, will require families to purchase health insurance policies from private insurers.

This is something the policy wonks call an ‘individual mandate”, under which Individuals will be “mandated” to purchase affordable insurance, though companies would not be required to offer it. In Massachusetts, the prototype state for the Obama plan, a family with an income of $33,000 can be required to spend $9,000 in deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses before the insurance company is obligated to pay a dime…

6. The president’s plan, and those of Republicans and Democratic blue dogs too, could force you to buy junk insurance.

Think about an insurance policy that costs a lot, but is full of loopholes, exceptions and steep deductibles and co-payments. That’s junk insurance, and for many it’s the only insurance companies offer…

7. The president’s plan, as well as those of Democratic “blue dogs” and Republicans, are to be funded in part with cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.

Private insurance companies have always hated Medicare because it is far more efficient than they are…But President Obama’s plan, perhaps the most friendly to Medicare and Medicaid, calls for over $300 billion in cuts to the programs that now provide medical care to those with the fewest options, while failing to guarantee that care will come from elsewhere…

8. The president, with the cooperation of corporate media and the Republicans is trying to make the argument about himself instead of a discussion on the merits of his policy.

The president and his critics are happy to talk about whether this will be “his Waterloo,” or his Dien Bien Phu, as if that matters more than the 22,000 Americans who die each year from lack of medical care, or the three quarter million who will go bankrupt because of unpayable medical bills. The concentration on whether the president looks good or bad takes up air, ink, and coverage time that might otherwise be spent explaining what is and isn’t in the various proposals, and why…

9. The president and his party, and the corporate media have spent more time and energy silencing and excluded the advocates of single payer health care, mostly the president’s own supporters, than they have fighting blue dogs and Republicans.

But no matter how diligently the spokespeople for single payer are excluded from media coverage and invitations to Obama’s policy forums and round tables, no matter how many times the White House cuts their questions from transcripts and video of public events, the calls, emails and letters keep pouring into Congress and the White House demanding the creation of a publicly funded, everybody-in-nobody-out system, a Medicare-for-All kind of single payer health care plan.

10. Despite the president’s own admission that only a single payer health care system will deliver what Americans want, he and the leaders of his party insist that Medicare For All, HR 676, is utterly off the table.

Before he became a presidential candidate, Barack Obama identified himself as a proponent of a single payer health care system. All we had to do, he told us, was elect a Democratic congress and senate, and a different president. Now that this has been done, he insists that “change” is just not possible, and we have to settle for less. The president continues to admit that only a single payer health care system will cover everybody, but insists that America just can’t handle that much change…

“America just can’t handle that much change.” That’s the argument you get from the hardcore Obama enablers; they say that if Obama is having this much trouble passing even a half-assed pseudo-Republican healthcare bill, obviously true reform would be impossible. They say this in response to every craptacular move from Obama, whether it’s on habeas corpus or abortion funding. How can he govern from the left when Republicans call him a commie pinko even for moderate stances?

Easy. Just remember three things:

  1. Republicans are going to call Obama and any other Democratic president a commie pinko no matter what. For chrissake, Obama could personally endorse every single plank in the GOP platform and the National Review would still put him on the cover with a hammer and sickle. That’s just what they do.
  2. Obama has huge majorities in the House and Senate and was elected on a mandate of liberalism and change — which is about as good as it gets in terms of the political stars aligning.
  3. You don’t get what you don’t ask for. If you want progressive reform, you have to actually make the effort. You have to try.

But Obama hasn’t tried. He’s been in Republican-lite mode all along. There’s no battle here for the soul of America, no brave struggle to remake our society and economy, no reversal of the Bush Era abuses. There’s just good old Barry and the status quo.

Which means it’s up to progressive activists to push for reform, but — oops! They’ve all been co-opted into cheerleading for Obama, no matter how unprogressive his policies. And the few who have resisted are relentlessly branded by the cheerleaders as crypto-wingnuts who just want to see Obama fail (or, alternatively, as delusional hippies who need to be told that “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”)

This has already happened with feminism. Obama is a sexist with only a mediocre record on women’s issues, but for the inauguration Ms. Magazine put him on their cover as some kind of feminist super-hero. When they were called on it, Naomi Wolf pushed back with a ridiculous soliloquy about how Obama was the bestest, most wonderfullest feminist man in the whole world and how his election was Christmas and New Year’s and Hanukkah all rolled into one. She even insinuated that anybody who disagreed must be a — you guessed it — Republican.

Fast forward three and half months, to Obama’s debut of a new fatherhood initiative — the same kind of thing that has, in the past, been criticized by feminists for undermining women’s rights and robbing single and divorced mothers of the resources they need. But good luck with that this time:

Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said Obama’s record on women’s rights should help ease any concerns over his interest in fatherhood.

“The president has been such a solid supporter of women’s issues,” DuBois said. “They know he’s not going to do anything to compromise the position of women in their families, and that trust is key in the search for common ground.”

See how that works? Obama doesn’t have a strong record on women’s rights at all; it’s more like medium-to-crappy. What he has, instead, is a completely co-opted liberal establishment that crowned him Mr. Feminist America for absolutely no good reason. They gave him the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, so now anything he does is inured from criticism. How can you doubt him? He’s got such a strong record on women’s rights! Ms. Magazine said so!

Filed under: Healthcare Reform · Tags:

46 Responses to “Silencing the left”

  1. myiq2xu says:

    The real chutzpah of the swindle is the 2013 start date. That will allow Obama to run for reelection claiming a huge policy victory.

    By the time people find out how bad that monstrosity is Obama will be immune – whether he wins or loses in 2012 he will never face another election again.

    Somewhere 8-12 years down the road the Democrats will be trying to retake the White House running on a platform of health care reform, and the GOP will be pointing to Obamacare as the reason government should stay out of health care.

    With the Democratic leadership failure is a feature, not a bug.

  2. Perry Logan says:

    I feel especially sorry for the young voters.

    The 2008 election was their first shot at national politics–and they f*cked up completely.

  3. cellocat says:

    Have you ever seen the Jasmine episodes in Angel? She’s the character who’s a goddess who appears beautiful and wise and concerned with humans’ well-being. Of course, she actually eats people, but those who follow her (the vast and growing majority) don’t believe it. Sometimes it seems like we’re in that sort of world.

    Despite all evidence to the contrary, so many people still believe that Obama’s fighting the good fight and working for all our betterment. When the “narrative” is composed of nothing but lies, non-existent characters (as has been written about here before), a credo coopted from movements and groups in which it actually meant something, and when Obama’s followers passionate devotion to all the above is prioritized by them above the well-being of themselves, their families, and fellow citizens, it’s hard to know how to fight it.

  4. TeresaINPa says:

    the young voters who supported Obama have given me reason to believe the voting age should be thirty.

  5. JLawson says:

    Obama’s agenda isn’t about what’s good for the country, the Democratic Party, or the people of the United States.

    It’s about what’s good for Obama – plain, pure and simple.

    He’s the epitomie of the classic con man – the sort of guy who comes up to you out of nowhere with a smile and a handshake, and two hours later you’re out ten grand, spent on something you can’t quite remember but it was REALLY urgent you spend it right now! And you’re even vaguely relieved because it might have been MUCH more expensive if you hadn’t spent that money now.

    The man will be worshipped by con men and used car salesmen for generations to come.

    A lot of people wanted a ‘progressive’ President. This might be a classic case of “Be Careful What You Wish For” combined with the Law of Unintended Consequences.

    And yes, NOBODY rational would have wished for the train wreck that’s e-v-e-r s-o s-l-o-w-l-y h-a-p-p-e-n-i-n-g. But it’s what we’ve got.

    What I’m wondering about is where he’s going to run when the con is blown. It’s one thing to be a two-bit grifter running some back-alley con – when you’re President, you’re just a trifle more visible. Hard to drop out of sight and leave town like that…

  6. tinfoil hattie says:

    the young voters who supported Obama have given me reason to believe the voting age should be thirty.

    Plenty of young people voted for Clinton. No need to criticize all young people.

  7. Alison says:

    I’m soooo confused. I am definitely more of a centrist Democrat than many others at this blog, so I would think that Obama’s centrist leanings would inspire me. But not so. He seems to go right to kiss ass with social conservatives which entirely pisses me off. I do not want him to be “centrist” on abortion issues or gay rights.

    With health care I am unsure what to think and how to do it but I do see problems with the present private systems as well as problems with Medicare and Medicaid. I don’t know that Medicare is something that I would want for our whole country unless the private industry remains a clear option. I’ve also read about reforming the private industry, such as the horrible HMOs and taxing health benefits so to lower the costs of insurance for everyone. So still feeling all of this out…

    What I don’t get is… why would O and Congress go through this mess if all they want to do is kiss the asses of the insurance and pharmaceutic companies. Isn’t our present system already doing this?

  8. Brian says:

    Although I share some of your concerns about Obama, what I honestly don’t understand from former Clinton supporters is an equally unsubstantiated belief that Clinton would have been more progressive. Many, not all, bloggers who supported Clinton don’t seem able to engage in a conversation with anyone who supported Obama with referring to people as Obots or otherwise deranged.

    Clinton’s original health insurance plan was also not single payer health insurance and it was marred by some of the same contradictions that Obama’s plan contains. I think both Clinton and Obama sincerely care about health care and would like to see more progressive coverage, but for whatever reasons are not willing to support single payer health insurance. Likewise, Obama’s “fatherhood initiatives” make me yawn, but to accuse him of robbing single mothers of the support they need without recognizing that it was Bill Clinton–with Hillary’s vocal support–who refused to veto a welfare reform bill that was misogynistic and cruel toward poor people.

  9. myiq2xu says:


    It’s not about Hillary. Obama won, so he gets the credit and the blame.

    If he can’t do better than she would have then what was all that “Goody Proctor is a witch!” stuff that we saw last year all about?

    Frankly, defending Obama with speculative comparisons to Hillary and/or McCain is pretty lame.

  10. david in iowa says:

    That post was the bomb!! It gives me hope and reconfirms my faith in the left!

    Big hogs and kisses


  11. Anna Belle says:

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think this is about silencing the left. Have you been listening to what those jokers are saying the last few years?

    I think this is about the wholesale ethical bankruptcy of the left, the sell-out by the leadership that was packaged and sold and, it is worth pointing out, happily bought by people who claim they are the only critical thinkers in the entire political spectrum. If I learned anything from last year, it’s how Democrats and leftist power players play the same game and have the same agenda as the right. That has nothing to do with them being silenced. It has everything to do with their ability to use the critical thinking skills they keep trying to project that they have, but which are never actually used.

    Now I do agree that certain dynamics you mentioned are helping this scenario play out, including the cheerleading on the left, and the drum beat from the right.

    And Brian, whether or not Hillary Clinton might have been as conservative as Obama is a specious claim indeed, especially coming from supporters who rabidly chased her supporters out of the party last year by claiming that her conservatism could never be tolerated. Apparently, it could never be tolerated unless the conservative has a penis. In that case, it’s A-OK. It’s just “how Washington works (C),” no?

  12. yttik says:

    “…it was Bill Clinton–with Hillary’s vocal support–who refused to veto a welfare reform bill that was misogynistic and cruel toward poor people…”

    Bill Clinton gave single mothers an expanded earned income credit, daycare grants, and child support enforcement. They delivered SCHIP to provide healthcare to children and funding for early childhood education. Mandating the collection of child support and funding an agency that would do just that, was a huge step towards supporting single mothers and ensuring they had the means to raise their children.

    “ to engage in a conversation with anyone who supported Obama with referring to people as Obots or otherwise deranged.”

    Well perhaps it has something to do with people who insist on blaming Bill Clinton and Hillary every time Obama is criticized. Not one word defending Obama’s health care “plan”, instead try to invoke Hillary’s name, maybe divert the conversation with a bit of Hillary derangement syndrome.

  13. sister of ye says:

    If I learned anything from last year, it’s how Democrats and leftist power players play the same game and have the same agenda as the right.

    You’re assuming that these people are “the left,” when in fact they are poseurs, many of whom were were fairly recently “moderate” Republicans, but cconverted to being “leftist” Democrats because that’s where they saw the political opportunity.

    Then there are ’60s “radicals” like Ayers, who slapped a leftist label on their adolescent anti-social behavior. Their targets were working class authority figures like cops and NCOs. You didn’t see them bombimg parties with Daddy and his rich friends – otherwise where would the money come from to keep their asses out of jail?

    Now aging “radicals” and newer poseurs love to lecture the little people on how their lives would be perfect if they’d listen to their wise advice, as they spend their money on study groups and look-good programs. You’re won’t see them spend it on practical things like investing in grants or interest-free loans so poor people can buy energy-saving appliances that would cut their costs and help the environment, too.

    *Ptui!* I don’t buy sanctimonious lectures in lieu of actual help from the right; I don’t buy them from the so-called left.

  14. Brian says:

    “Mandating the collection of child support and funding an agency that would do just that, was a huge step towards supporting single mothers and ensuring they had the means to raise their children.”

    I am sorry but chld support enforcement–although very important–is not a replacement for a public social safety net. Child support does not help low-income mothers unless the absent father has money. For most women on welfare the absent father does not have a lot of money.

    To say that I am engaged in Hilary derangement syndrome is not an argument and I am not trying to divert the conversation.

  15. RKMK says:

    To say that I am engaged in Hilary derangement syndrome is not an argument and I am not trying to divert the conversation.

    Hillary in/was demonstrably, vocally to the left of Obama on: women’s rights, gay rights, FISA, universal heath care, and supported a HOLC plan to help homeowners facing foreclosure. If you didn’t see that, that’s not her fault, because you clearly weren’t paying attention to what she was saying, only what was being said about her.

  16. RKMK says:


  17. RKMK says:

    And before you answer me, Brian, read this eyewitness report.

    Now, Clinton spent over an hour talking about and answering questions about policy in amazing detail—and, throughout, she spoke the language of the labor movement specifically and progressives generally; there was no rightwing framing, no triangulation. She was impressively blunt about the Republicans playing class warfare and about her determination to raise taxes on corporations and the rich, and she was much more explicitly anti-corporate in some of her statements than I expected. At one point, I leaned over to KenBlogz to whisper, “This woman is a communist!” All of which is arguably actual news, given her reputation. (Although I suppose it isn’t news to the media which has been dutifully not reporting it.)

    Yet MSNBC reports on “testicular fortitude” (sorry—who’s playing the gender card?!) and her interview with Bill O’Reilly (you don’t think that has anything to do with ginning up some of that outrage on display when she met with Scaife, do you?).

  18. Toonces says:

    For most women on welfare the absent father does not have a lot of money.

    Oh really? Source, please.

  19. Toonces says:

    Also, there’s a reason Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winning economist whose pet issue is healthcare, supported Hillary over Obama in the primaries. If you don’t know what that reason is… *mumbleObotmumble*.

  20. Alison says:


    It is silly to try and silence us by saying “Clinton would have done the same! And you supported her so why even bother saying anything about O!”

    I honestly wish we were having conversations here about how our POTUS Hillary abandoned a campaign promise. If she were POTUS and abandoned FOCA as Obama has done, I would most certainly be complaining right now. And loudly.

    But she is not POTUS. O is POTUS. O has abandoned many, many, many campaign promises. It is impossible to keep count. And if O supporters had the slightest bit of critical thinking skills (yes, Annabelle, you got it) they would be right here dialoguing with us instead of just acting as if everything is okey dokey because that’s the best O can do in the face of evil conservatives. Yes, Annabelle, what a stunning lack of critical thinking skills. What the fuck has happened to our country? The left has certainly been co-opted into the Obama brand.

  21. cellocat says:

    Brian, there are really big differences. Hillary has a decades-long track record of working on health care and health care insurance issues. Her plans may not (yet) have been for UHC, but her work in Arkansas and the White House shows that a) she knows in great detail what she’s talking about and b) she was willing to go out on a limb to make it happen. And once she was in the White House as President, she would have had all that experience of both successes and failures to help her achieve really substantive progress this time around. She surely would never have been satisfied with the addition of a measley 1 million insured.

    Hillary did not just make high-flown promises. She had specific, thought-out, researched plans the details of which were at her command. By default, the achievement of a plan that’s somewhat left is vastly better and more left than the failure of a plan which everyone assumed was *really* left. Obama is failing because he’s unwilling to be and act as a real liberal Democrat with his feet firmly planted in the philosophies and polices of a true left. If he did, he’d have a large percentage of the party behind him, and would be able to lead with conviction and to accomplish at least some of the goals of the left. In trying to achieve the perfect bi-partisan solution, he’s cutting off his nose to spite his face, and selling out his supposed base. What’s left about that?

  22. Brian says:


    “Oh really? Source, please.” Fair enough. My observation about child support enforcement is based primarily on being a welfare law lawyer for years and spending quite a bit of time and energy trying to get child support for clients. I think child support enforcement is important but for most people on welfare it ended up being more about reimbusring the state than helping poor women escape poverty.

    I do think Clinton’s healthcare proposal during the campaign was marginally better than Obama’s, but only marginally. I am not questioning the fact Obama is not a leftist, but I never thought he was so this does not really surprise me. He has however done some good things especially in the area of unemployment (unemployed worker are now potentially eligible for up to 79 weeks of unemployment insurance). The Department of Labor has in a number of areas been very progressive in the administration–this may be in part attributable to Hilda Solis, his best cabinet pick to my mind.

  23. TeresaINPa says:

    Brian, don’t act deranged and we won’t accuse you of it. Obama supporters mis-characterized both Clinton and Palin, thought rabid sexism was okay and even vote stealing in the primaries was just fine as long as Obama got in even as they had no clue who any of the three were including Obama. It was a cult of personality perfectly orchestrated with appeals to sexism, guilty white liberalism and ignorant and misplaced idealism.

    So, actually Clinton’s plan was to the left of Obama’s. She actually had a plan and she said that if a democratic president ever got a veto proof majority single payer should be on the table.
    But just keep denying reality. You got the imaginary new generation of leadership (ppssstttt…Obama is a boomer) you wanted. He is not progressive much less liberal and guess what, Hillary Clinton is not Bill Clinton and it is not 1993.

  24. TeresaINPa says:

    Brian why is it that the poor felt they were better off under Clinton, welfare reform and all, and only the people who make a living off of the system and other guilty white liberals think it was a burden to poor people?
    Seems to me people were very happy to be assisted in moving from welfare to work. Welfare for generations is actually quite crippling to peoples sense of self.
    And since you seem to be conflating Hillary and Bill as if they were the same person (adam’s rib I guess)in the 90s we had peace and prosperity. With Obama you are cheering longer unemployment benefits in a terrible economy and endless war with Obama’s war in Afghanistan.

  25. lalala says:

    Let’s get back to the initial discussion of health care. It seems that the Obots continue to use Hillary Clinton and “what if” scenarios as a distraction from the reality that Obama won the presidency and is now responsible for pushing single payer health care. I’m too lazy to go searching for actual quotes and Harry and Louise ads Obama used to smear Clinton in the primaries. I’m sure someone else here can do that. But stop, stop, stop comparing Obama to Clinton, Bush, or anyone else when y’all were worshiping him like the second coming during the election.

  26. lalala says:

    Well, there you go. I wasn’t lazy enough to type in “Harry and Louise Obama” into google and Krugman’s post from February 2008 was the first to come up.

  27. Brian says:


    One of the things that surprises is that so few people view welfare basking as women bashing even though the welfare program (as inadequate as it was) overwhelmingly served women and children. Your remark about generations on welfare is just not true. Except for a small percentage of people (usually people with multiple barriers to employment) most welfare recipients are on welfare for short periods of time. Yes, most people would rather work, but low wage work cn also be quite crippling to one’s sense of self.

  28. Toonces says:

    Okay Brian, so Bill should have forced universal daycare and easier access to welfare through a hostile congress and media/political environment. *cough* I’ll concede that for the sake of argument.

    The media is still mostly broadcasting from Obama’s ass-cavern (they say it smells like daisies, but I don’t believe it) and he has a filibuster-proof majority and an incredibly supportive political atmosphere. And yet, the big bad Republicans are still in control of everything. Some of us think that has nothing to do with Hillary.

  29. Violet says:

    Likewise, Obama’s “fatherhood initiatives” make me yawn, but to accuse him of robbing single mothers of the support they need without recognizing that it was Bill Clinton–with Hillary’s vocal support–who refused to veto a welfare reform bill that was misogynistic and cruel toward poor people.

    Well, Brian, there’s some kind of derangement syndrome in that paragraph above, so you tell me what it is.

    My example in the post was about how the feminist establishment has undermined its own ability to criticize by prematurely anointing President God as a feminist superhero. These “fatherhood initiatives” have almost nothing to do with welfare; in fact they are typically more about the family courts and the rights of single and divorced mothers. They are dominated by Fathers Rights Activists (aka The Scum Of The Earth) and are typically very anti-feminist. Feminists in the past have always opposed them. But when Obama comes along and starts floating the same kind of balloon — whoops! His spokesman can assure everybody that since Obama is already known to be a Super Feminist (just ask Ms. Magazine!), there’s nothing to worry about.

    None of this has anything to do with welfare reform or Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton. You dragged that in all by yourself.

  30. FLAConnie says:

    Bill Moyers is doing another show on health care tonight on PBS at 9PM. The guest is the former VP of Cigna Healthcare. This is his 3rd show on the subject.

  31. Pelosi Opens Pandora’s Box: Gives Medicare for All Floor Vote « Donna Darko says:

    [...] Sox: Silencing the left. BRILLIANT [...]

  32. Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

    1) Use of the terms “left” and “right” in political discussion indicates a one-dimensional view of a multi-dimensional political continuum.
    2) The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality (definition). Aggregation of resources and control in State (government, generally) hands does not, in general, improve the performance of most industries.
    3) US taxpayers could probably afford one aspirin tablet and one band-aid per person per year for the current population of the entire Earth. The world’s entire GDP is insufficient to keep even one person alive forever. You are going to die.
    4) There is no Constitutional authority for a Federal role in health care (or agriculture, education, welfare, or most social policy).
    5) While every change is “reform”, some changes will make the current system worse. What issue is a Federal health care policy supposed to address? High cost to individuals? Unequal delivery? Aggregate mortality and cost statistics relative to other countries?

  33. RKMK says:

    Oh, great. Malcolm’s back.

  34. Sameol says:

    That part about how we’re all going to die is profound, though. Stop worrying about paying taxes and piling up wealth, after all, you can’t take it with you.

  35. lambert strether says:

    The 2013 date is the tell. Because you know that if the plan was any good, Obama would want to run on it in 2012.

    Try that one on a public option advocate and watch their heads explode — or at least be prepared for a lot of obfuscation ;-)

    In other news, Pelosi will give single payer an up or down vote on the House floor. YES!!!!

  36. lambert strether says:

    #2 and #4: What’s with the age-ism? I don’t like comments like that any more than I liked jokes about McCain and Depends.

  37. Violet says:

    Lambert, I’m still groking the news about the floor vote as well as the new compromise with the blue dogs, whatever the hell that’s about.

    I fear the floor vote on single payer is just theatre.

    Does anybody have insight into what the blue dog compromise means?

  38. lambert strether says:


    If I were on the inside, I’d know whether it was theatre or not. What seems evident to me is that if it were, “progressives” were as ignorant of the news to come as we were, simply because of the kind of posting they were doing (Friday evening and good news? Who knew?)

    And as one of the raging Grannies to me about Obama’s house parties, “So what if it’s theatre? Learn your lines and get on stage!”

    So, to me, the question is not whether it’s theatre, but whether its advantage, and that, it clearly is:

    a) Weiner’s a good spokesperson — this YouTube is to die for.

    b) Now we have a narrative — They censored and exluded us, but we kept pushing, and finally they had to listen!

    c) Concomitantly, we have a better platform.

    e) We may also experience the delicious pleasure of asking all the incrementalist “not politically possible” career liberals on the A list whether they’ll support the bill, or not. Putting the legislation on the floor makes it way harder to dismiss both us as individuals and the policy (which, you will remember, everybody agrees is the best, “but…”).

    So, at a minimum I’d say the odds of getting a less shitty sausage are improved (not that the odds are high, mind you).

    At a maximum, we’re able to tell the Dems to put up or shut up: Deliver on this, or go the way of the Whigs — split into one party that represents the banksters (the faction currently in control of the administration), and another that represents, well, “liberty and justice for all” (odds as above).

    All that said, I’m a simple soul advocating for good policy as forcefully as I can. If there are eleven dimensions here, I’ll let the people with the keen X-ray goggles and the secret decode rings figure them out.

  39. lambert strether says:

    And speaking of silence (and silenceing)…

  40. myiq2xu says:

    They censored and exluded us, but we kept pushing, and finally they had to listen!

    The last time we forced a roll call vote it was the nomination ballot at the DNC convention.

    That one didn’t end so well.

  41. Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

    Megan McArdle makes some sensible objections to nationalized health care. Some of Dr. Sock’s readers might also enjoy the discussion of obesity in posts which follow.

  42. Why is single payer not being served at President Obama’s table? « The Confluence says:

    [...] refuse to represent the wishes of their constituents on the issue of healthcare is because the U.S. does not have a left wing, it only has a right wing and a center. The Republicans are the right. The Democrats are the [...]

  43. Alison says:

    Quick question. Does single payer mean that private doctors and insurance are not an option, as in Canada?

  44. Lorenzo says:

    Amazing how people can look at the same President and see strikingly different things. On social issues, Obama is very centrist in his actions. His foreign policy seems a sort of soft “let’s talk” realism. His fiscal policy seems over-the-top spend-now-and-tax-later. His economic policy seems government-power-to-reward-friendly-groups (so very, very Chicago). His environmental policy seems to be much more green than any Republican President would likely to be.

    That he wants A Big Health Plan seems very Democrat. The details seem very government-power-to-reward-friendly-groups (so very, very Chicago again).

    This does not seem to add up to Republican-lite. Certainly, conservative/Republican blogs seem very exorcised about how wicked and liberal it all is. It is as if Obama is a receptacle into which people pour their hopes or fears as the case may be.

  45. DancingOpossum says:


    There are private clinics in Canada. The Canadian Supreme Court recently ruled that people could use private doctors and clinics if they wish.

    France has the same thing.

  46. DancingOpossum says:


    Megan McArdle never says anything sensible. She’s a talking neocon head who has been debunked time after time.