Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Biblical Rope-A-Dope or Grand Guignol Bargain?

Biblical Brinkmanship (Caravaggio)
The ongoing melodrama of Debt Ceiling Armageddon reminds me of the Old Testament legend of Abraham and Isaac.  Obama the sage patriarch is acting on a dare from the magical Deity (Republican Deficit Hawk) to sacrifice his beloved son (the New Deal social safety net) on the  altar of austerity to prove his worthiness.  At the last minute, of course, a deal is reached. "Never mind," chuckles some Better Angel. "The Wall Street god hath blinked. Thou just established thy cred.  Now goest thou and lead the people through the desert of a second term." 

The latest horror story to emerge from the closed-door talks is that Obama is offering to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67, in keeping with the recent shocking proposal from Sens. Joe Liebermann and Tom Coburn.  Lawrence O'Donnell has an interesting theory on why the president is seemingly out-partying the Tea Party -- it's all part of what he calls "the most masterful rope-a-dope ever performed by a president against an opposition party in Congress." 

I wish I could believe that, but I don't.  Even if true that Obama is only pretending to put Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid on the chopping block to bluffingly appease the gods of a supply-side economic theory that was debunked decades ago, it's a cruel tactic.  There are millions of uninsured and underinsured people just counting the days till they reach 65.  Raising the retirement age, cutting benefits through a bait and switch change in cost of living calculations,  cavalierly suggesting that as long as we're trimming the waste, we might as well throw the New Deal under the bus too -- it's just boggles the mind.  It is either the most complete betrayal of democracy by a Democratic president in history, or it's a giant practical joke/game of chicken at the expense of the peace of mind of countless suffering people. From Monday's press conference:

"We keep on talking about this stuff and we have these high-minded pronouncements about how we've got to get control of the deficit and how we owe it to our children and our grandchildren. Well, let's step up. Let's do it. I'm prepared to do it. I'm prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get something done. And I expect the other side should be willing to do the same thing -- if they mean what they say that this is important."
The Raise-the-Age plan would not even put that much of a dent in the deficit -- so just like the phony Reaganomics talking point that tax cuts pay for themselves, the Obama Trial Balloon serves mainly an ideological purpose.   The Congressional Budget Office found that raising the Medicare age to 67 would save only $124.8 billion between 2014 and 2021.... sounds like a lot, but it's really only a drop removed from the Medicare budget.

And if the provision ends up in Obama's so-called Grand Bargain, or even the Half-Grand Boehner Bargain, Democrats not only will lose any political capital they gained from their defeat of Paul Ryan's Mediscare voucher plan -- they'll be partially accepting it.  Raising the age would force 65 and 66-year-olds (or, if they're lucky, their employers) to continue buying private insurance . According to the Kaiser Family Foundation,  raising the eligibility age would  “result in an estimated net increase of $5.6 billion in out-of-pocket costs for 65- and 66-year-olds, and $4.5 billion in employer retiree health-care costs.” Also, the influx of older people into the state exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act would increase premiums by an estimated three percent.

Obama to Ryan: Can I Borrow This?

 Moreover, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the proposal would not even decrease Medicare spending that much, because younger Medicare beneficiaries are healthier than older ones and don't cost the system nearly as much as the average beneficiary. 

In other words, keep the statistically healthier mid-60s age group in the claws of private insurance companies for the longest possible time to maximize their profits while they're pretending to save taxpayers money. It's a classic case of bait and switch.  Heads they win, tails we lose.  All the "savings" (premiums) go to the predatory private insurers and the politicians they have bought and paid for.  Only the people will pay -- assuming, of course, they have any money.

Make no mistake.  The Grand Bargain, if it passes, should be renamed the Grand Guignol Bargain. Under it, more people will unnecessarily die waiting for their Medicare to kick in. If Obama had any humanity, he'd call for lowering the age, not raising it. If we as a nation had any humanity, we would have Medicare for All.
A Plan of Gruesome Grandiosity


John in Lafayette said...

Couldn't have said it better myself.

This is why, unlike you, Karen, I'm not waiting to announce my intention (for what it's worth). I won't be voting for Obama next year. When the best we can say about our President is that he's cruelly using the people who elected him as pawns in some political game, we have reached a new low. At the best he's betting the Republicans won't deal, meaning the nation defaults. At worst, the Republicans will accept a few hundred million in tax increases on the richest few in exchange of billions upon billions in cuts to services for the neediest.

Draft Elizabeth Warren in 2012.

Rose in Michigan said...

I've never been a one-issue voter -- until now. (Not even abortion -- despite the fact that it utterly destroyed my life 48 years ago.) Obama's lost my vote, no matter what he does; no matter who runs as a Republican, I will NOT vote for him. I'm signed up with Bold Progressives and Feingold's progressive organization (progressivesunited.org), and I'll work tirelessly for any candidate who primarys the miserable fraud of a DINO. (I was, by the way, a diehard Hillary supporter in 2008, given that my first choice, Kucinich, didn't stand a chance.)

I've only just -- finally -- been added to the Medicare rolls, but too late to save the hearing in my right ear. (Spent the past 3 1/2 years as one of the 45 million uninsured Americans.) Looks like now I'm not going to be able to get the MRI I need before anything can be done to "treat" the acoustic neuroma I think I have. The hearing's gone in any case, thanks to "the best health care system in the world."

I've let both my senators (Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin -- usually found on the correct side of most issues) and my congressman (John Dingell, also not bad) know that I'm watching them, and that their actions on this issue will determine my vote, my financial support and my activism with regard to their re-election campaigns.

I'm not alone: I have plenty of friends my age who are struggling. I can't speak for others, but as for myself, I'm feeling older than my years, unwell, exhausted and hopeless. I'm also mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it any more (pace Paddy and Howard).

We Boomers have been called "the pig in the python" but I think these days we're more python than pig. The morons in Congress (and the White House as well) have been poking us with a sharp stick for the past couple years, believing we're harmless. Well, we're not. We're the Viet Nam war generation, the Civil Rights generation; we made a difference then and we can do so again. We brought down a president, and we can do so again. It's past time for us to respond, and given our numbers, we can make a difference -- for ourselves, for our children...and for theirs.

Here's the link to the Bold Progressive site for anyone who's interested and hasn't already http://act.boldprogressives.org/survey/survey_obamamedicaress/?source=auto-e&referring_akid=a7267063.1102407.VtiC-d

(Hope that's ok, Karen.)

Sorry for running on -- and for making this so personal -- but I haven't felt this passionate about anything for a long time. We have the numbers, we should have the clout: all we have to do is organize and use it!

Valerie said...

"In other words, keep the statistically healthier mid-60s age group in the claws of private insurance companies for the longest possible time to maximize their profits while they're pretending to save taxpayers money. It's a classic case of bait and switch. Heads they win, tails we lose. All the "savings" (premiums) go to the predatory private insurers and the politicians they have bought and paid for. Only the people will pay -- assuming, of course, they have any money." KG

THAT is what is REALLY going on. Obama, doing his usual homage to his corporate masters, is suggesting a deal that benefits the big health “insurance” companies – just like he did with his “health care” plan. Meanwhile, the Republicans are only concerned with drowning any safety net we have in their proverbial bathtub. Today it is age 67, two years from now it will be 70, five years from now it will be 75.

James F Traynor said...

The only dopes being roped are us. The guy is really an incredible scoundrel. We have to get the Democratic Party back from the 'disbanded' DLC (Obama, the Clintons, blue dogs, Lieberman and the like) not reward them by re-electing the current head dog. I think they call themselves New Democrats now. What a travesty. The alternate is a third party which is a stretch.

Draft Spitzer said...

If "Rose in Michigan" is preaching to the choir, this choir member would like to say "AMEN, sister!" as loudly as possible. (Even if I never supported Hillary.)

Karen Garcia said...

I am sorry to learn you are one of millions of people who has had to endure a permanent health problem for lack of insurance.
Same thing happened to me several years ago. I had just lost a job and had the poor taste to fall on the ice and break my ankle while uninsured. The hospital ended up suing me for the $25,000 bill I couldn't pay and slapped a lien on my house. I was one of the lucky ones, though -- since I owned my house outright I was able to sell at a profit and even managed to negotiate the bill down a little to what the hospital would have accepted from an insurance company. Yes -- our nonprofit hospitals do bill uninsured patients at a higher rate, to cover all the uninsured patients who can't pay. It always makes sense to go after poor people, doesn't it?

Because I had no insurance I let another health problem go to the point I too have suffered lasting after-effects. And by the time I finally did qualify for Medicare TWO YEARS after being declared permanantly disabled, I felt so much better that it took months for me to go for a checkup. The idea of the two year wait from disabled to government-insured is that a lot of the still-uninsured-but-too-rich for Medicaid people will conveniently die. The system is sick, depraved and inhumane.

VLT said...

I felt sick inside when I read both Rose and Karen's accounts of not receiving the medical care they needed. Karen, that is shocking that you should have had to sell your house to pay for medical bills! And Rose, to lose your hearing in one ear! We are just a small group and look how many of our numbers have been seriously affected by the terrible health care in this country! And this goes on all the time! It is totally shocking and WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Whenever my friends and relatives travel on vacation to the States, their biggest worry is what will happen if they are in an accident and need health care. My in-laws paid more for travel health insurance to the States than their air fare cost!

In contrast, when my parents were visiting me in Germany and my dad, a surgeon, fell on some ice and dislocated his fingers, the hospital called in a hand surgeon just to be sure his hands and fingers were OK. When we went to pay, the hospital didn't even know how to charge us money! They finally took what amounted to $50 and put it in petty cash. Likewise, when I needed physical therapy in New Zealand after we moved there and I didn’t yet have residency. Again, the PT office didn't know how to charge me – so they just gave it to me for free. Health care is considered a HUMAN RIGHT in other first world countries! What is wrong with America?

I'll tell you what is wrong - We are the United Corporations of America these days instead of the United States of America. Rose, God love ya! You are right! We have to fight this cancer of corporate rule in our country and get back to a government that works for its citizens – not its corporations.

You said it Karen, the system we have now in the U.S. is "sick, depraved and inhumane."

John in Lafayette said...


We had a similar situation in my family. My wife had to retire early because of multiple sclerosis. Shortly after she did so, her union's welfare benefit trust was told by their health insurance provider to either drop retirees, see a huge increase in premiums, or have their coverage dropped altogether. They chose to drop retirees, which they did rather unceremoniously, with 90 days notice.

I tried to get my wife on the insurance I had through my employer, but they didn't want her becuase of her pre-existing condition. It took her the same two years it took you to get approved for Medicare. In the meantime, the cost of her medications set us back nearly $40,000. If it hadn't been for the national MS Society and their help we wouldn't have been able to get her medication at all.

Sadly, our stories aren't at all unique.

Sick, depraved, and inhumane is pretty much all there is to say.

James F Traynor said...

Geez, sorry for your troubles. We've been lucky. My wife has slipped the leash, this old dog is going after the bastards.

Karen Garcia said...

I am glad we are sharing our stories -- you know you are not alone. I used to be embarrassed to tell my tale, but no more. I went to my Town Board to petition them to remove the local hospital's non-profit, tax-exempt status when it sued me. I had no legal grounds for this, of course, nor did the Town, but it served the purpose of making the Town attorney, who was also on the hospital's Board of Trustees and who also happened to run a medical collection agency, red with shame from all the bad press he got.
I was happy to hear Al Grayson is running for Congress again, since he was such a big champion for the uninsured. I was not so happy, though, when he said Obama was still his president and he refused to criticize him.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

As has been discussed on this blog site before, many people in professions like teaching and engineering would gladly work until 67 or even 70 IF ANYONE WOULD GIVE THEM A JOB! There is age discrimination BIG TIME in this country and many people who would like to work are just holding on, taking menial part time work in order to make it to Medicare age and to be able to draw their Social Security check. Many of these people feel they have to put off necessary care, like Rose did, and sometimes it is too late by the time they have reached retirement age. There is a reason a doctor administers care in a timely manner – often these medical situations worsen over time if untreated!

On the other end of the spectrum are those men and women who have physically demanding jobs whose bodies simply won't take the abuse for an extra two or five years. Case in point is my brother who is an auto mechanic. I have never seen a work ethic like his. To the best of my knowledge, he has never taken a sick day in his entire life. Rain or shine, sick or well, he drags himself into the garage where he works and puts in easily a ten hour day, six days a week. Right now my brother has two torn rotator cuffs (a common injury for men his age who do heavy lifting in their work). The pain is etched on his face and he looked like an old man the last time I saw him. He is forty-eight years of age and is already an old man! When I asked him why he didn’t get his shoulders repaired, my brother grimaced and said, “Can’t afford to lose the work even if we could afford the surgeries – which we can’t.” I just can’t see him making it to sixty-five, let alone 67 or 70.

It is like we are going back to the time of serfdom in the Middle Ages and the serfs are simply beasts of burden to be literally used up and cast aside by their masters. Wake up America; we are already a Second World Country on the way to becoming a Third World Country.

And Lafayette, thank you for sharing your story. That is another point, once dropped, the uninsured who have pre-existing conditions find it next to impossible to get picked up by another “insurer.” And I know for a fact that big Health Insurance is fighting tooth and nail to overturn the one decent part of Obama Care: that insurance companies are not allowed to dump people once they are diagnosed.

Just so you all get a fair picture of what it is like in the REAL First World, in Australia, health insurance companies are, by law and by charter, non-profits. They exist to help people get better medical care. - Hard to even envision it in the U.S. isn’t it?

Great News about Alan Grayson running again. I wish all the wonderful Progressive who were voted out of office would run again; I think they would be warmly received. I don’t blame Alan for saying he will stick with Obama. He has to do this in order to get support from the DNC and to be able to run as the Democratic candidate. The game is rigged against anyone who bucks the system. I believe, once elected, we can count on Alan to vote the right way on issues and I hope Progressives will work hard on his behalf.

The only people with the luxury of being able to “hold LOTE’s feet to the fire” and withhold something that he wants are lowly voters like us. Politicians who are members of the Democratic Party have to play along in order to get elected or re-elected.

Gerald Rubin said...

I was mortified when Obama told Scott Pelley of CBS News that he could not assure that Social Security checks would go out on Aug 3rd if debt ceiling negotiations broke down. While his answer seemed to be a spontaneous reaction rather than some concrete policy, it again demonstrates totally lack of empathy for the people he governs. Also all this is against the backdrop that the 14th Amendment says the default by the united states on its debt is unconstitutional. I believe that a genuine leader would have reassured the americans that (s)he would do her best to avoid this. Interestingly, Mitch McConnell later? said that the Republicans would now give Obama some control over the debt ceiling. It seems that the Republicans quickly changed their stance to make Obama look the evil one. What is also scary to me is the lack of interest of this event on Facebook. 70 million Social Security checks might not go our on August 3rd and no one cares? no one seems worried? I also comment on NYTimes, that is where I learned about your blog Karen and I commented on this topic. I had one like while the surrounding one's had 14 or 15 likes. Ego aside, I just don't understand the casual reaction to this "threat" by Obama.

Here is a link to the Youtube of Obamas interview:


Karen Garcia said...

Obama doesn't even seem to realize that not all Social Security checks/direct deposits go out on the 3rd of every month any more. They are sent out on succeeding Wednesdays, based on the recipient's birthday.
Further, the checks are (supposedly) written from the trust fund, not the treasury. Social Security is exempt from rules freezing accounts, layoffs, etc. in the event of a govt shutdown.
I think Obama was mainly trying to threaten the republicans in his cavalier remarks,and also signalling SS recipients that the GOP would be to blame just for making them feel nervous about their benefits. I think Obama is viewing the feelings of senior citizens as necessary collateral damage is this largely theatrical political fight.
He is succeeding in showing up the Republicans for exactly who they are -- fake deficit hawks whose sole function is to keep taxes low. They really don't care about spending cuts as much as they do about their taxes. They will spend all the money in the treasury they can, so their corporate friends can be rewarded. Thus, the squeeze play.
Obama never lacked "spine" either -- he is following a conservative agenda because he wants to, and that includes dismantling the New Deal. It's all a power struggle between the two factions of the duopoly and we the people have little to nothing to do with it.

Jay - Ottawa said...

I am deeply affected by your many stories. Please accept my dark "ha" below as an expression of solidarity with your plight.

I admire the parallel Karen draws between Obama and Abraham and the foolish brinkmanship involved with placing upon a sacrificial altar the New Deal, in one case, or Jacob in the other instance. But you do realize there is a root problem with the Bible’s Abraham-Jacob account and its interpretation down through the ages? The scribes got the story all wrong when they took it from Abraham alone. Those scribes remind me of our mainstream media There was a better source: his wife Sarah.

In Galina Vromen’s “Sarah’s Story” we learn the truth about the whole affair in the wife’s first-person narrative version. (Always seek primary sources.) It seems Abraham had been slipping for some time. He began hearing voices in his head and calling them God’s directives. We still hear about Big Men doing the same thing today.

Sarah had to keep a close eye on her feisty old coute, lest he hurt himself or someone else. But, given the culture of those ancient times, a woman had to work by indirections. And so she did.

Sarah was startled one day when Abraham started mumbling at the dinner table that the only way to negotiate with God was to sacrifice his dear son – her sweet Jacob! She learned the details of Abraham’s plan, and ran into town. There was a comely nomad in the market place with a striking head of red hair. She hired the guy, dressed him in a tunic with gold thread and placed a puff scarf around his head and neck. Sarah and the nomad followed Abraham and Jacob up the mountain at a distance so as not to be detected, Sarah dragging along a ram.

When Abraham raised the knife, the nomad, easily mistaken for an angel with that cloud around his head, spoke in deep sonorous tones the lines Sarah had given him: “Abraham, Abraham.”

“Here I am,” Abraham answered.

The nomad took the knife from Abraham. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” etc., etc., etc, the rest as in the Bible up to this point.

The nomad backed away and Sarah let go the ram, which bounded into a thicket. And so, at the eleventh hour in a risky renegotiation of the deal with God, Abraham sacrificed the ram.

Sarah concludes her account in this way: “And whenever Abraham retells the events of that strangest of days, as he so likes to do, I remain silent and nod solemnly, particularly when he reminds all who will listen that God works in mysterious ways.”

The moral of Sarah's story: We should treat LOTE like the lost soul he is, too long hearing and heeding strange voices, place the sacrificial knives of power far beyond his reach, work to make our own miracles no matter how the press scores our endeavors and, finally, look for the moral equivalent of a nomad with red hair and a cloud-like scarf who can step in by 2012 to say the right thing and DO the right thing when it really counts.

Anne Lavoie said...

I don't think Obama is convincing the average American of anything but the fact that he is not willing to fight to protect their Social Security checks, or their Medicare for that matter.

Has anyone heard him warn the military contractors that they won't get paid? Hell, no. So the only thing we can be sure of right now is that he won't fight to protect the people but he will protect corporate payments.

Very reassuring. He might score points with the political junkies from playing this game, but I believe it will backfire on him.

By the way, I take the pledge. No vote for Obama from me under any circumstances. I will not vote against my own best interests or that of my country.

Karen Garcia said...

To answer both Jay and Anne --
The whole "crisis" in DC is already taking on the status of myth before the story even comes to an end. Agitate, Spin, Rinse, Repeat. The real shadow government at the controls: Grover Norquist, the Chamber of Commerce, Wall Street, K Street, etc is calling all the shots. Obama has really demeaned himself bringing Social Security scare tactics into the mix. The Republicans are scare tactics personified. They all should be booted out and stripped of both their paychecks and their dignity. The only politician I heard standing up for poor people today was Ron Paul.

Draft Spitzer said...

Nice version of the story. There's an Israeli writer who retold the story of King David from, I think, the perspective of his wife? Can't remember. It came out late 1997 maybe.

@Karen and crew:
Check this out on O's fundraising prowess:


And: has anyone seen Harry Shearer's Katrina doc about the Army Corps of Engineers mistakes? I have been hearing about it for a year but have yet to see it.

Gerald Rubin said...

I had decided not to vote for Obama some time ago, even if he runs against the likes of Michelle Bachman. He is not to be rewarded for his constant duplicity. I went door to door for him in 2008 and have found myself receiving democratic fundraising emails from various democratic organizations. I now have a new hobby, each time I unsubscribe (3 so far) they ask for comments, so I get a chance to let them have it. It is quite satisfying for me to do this. If you notice, I spell america with a small "a". This a form of protest in which I am subtly saying that american exeptionalism is a perverse way to deny the havoc that america has created all over the world almost since its inception.

VLT said...

I take the pledge. I will lend my money and support to any and all Progressive candidates and will vote for Democrats with a half-way decent voting record. But the Presidential box - THAT will be left blank on my ballot.

Ciara said...

Karen, you and James K. Galbraith have much the same opinion of Obama and his shenanigans.

Janet Camp said...

I am deeply humbled by the medical nightmares of Rose, Karen, et al. My daughter and her family have experienced something similar to Karen, only at an age when they had no resources to cope with it. They are still suffering the financial consequences of that heaped on by the theft of my Hispanic surnamed (born in the US) son-in-law's social security number. I doubt if most of you know the havoc this can wreak on someone's life. I'm not vying for "Queen For A Day" here, just showing solidarity.

I think all the comments today are particularly poignant and that Karen's column today is her best ever. The combination has moved me closer to taking "the pledge". Since I am not a Republican I am capable of being persuaded by reason. Obama is knocking down my arguments a little more each day. I would definitely expect him to argue/negotiate for a LOWER age for Medicare. But the fact remains (does it not?) that the House must pass whatever the "deal" turns out to be, and games must be played on the way to something that can get passed. Now this does not excuse Obama from not using his bully pulpit, but the reason the house is full of tantrum-throwing teabags is because an awful lot of Democrats stayed home at the mid-terms in 2010 because they wanted to "send a message to Obama" or just didn't think it mattered.

So.....I will send Alan Grayson $10 and Obama nothing, but I will still pull the lever for Obama if a challenger does not arise and there seems to be no serious talk of that--not where it matters anyway.

Personally, I'm with Rose--we are the generation that forced change before--have too many of us got too rich to care anymore? We need to take to the streets in HUGE numbers. This damned internet should make it easier, so what's the problem? I found my time in Madison to be exhilarating and I am more than willing to get on a bus and go to DC, but I want a really big group to join me!

As a footnote, you will all notice that Obama raised a hell of a lot of money without help from the likes of any of us. (@Draft--I will read your link as it might reflect on this issue.)

Marie Burns said...

The stupidity of raising the eligibility rate is even greater than Garcia illustrates. Besides the personal costs to the suddenly-uncovered which Garcia illuminated, Paul Krugman writes about the plan (previously proposed by Joe Lieberman, so you know it's brilliant!),

"Wait, it gets worse. Not every 65- or 66-year-old denied Medicare would be able to get private coverage — in fact, many would find themselves uninsured. So what would these seniors do?

"Well, as the health economists Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll document, right now Americans in their early 60s without health insurance routinely delay needed care, only to become very expensive Medicare recipients once they reach 65. This pattern would be even stronger and more destructive if Medicare eligibility were delayed. As a result, Mr. Frakt and Mr. Carroll suggest, Medicare spending might actually go up, not down, under Mr. Lieberman’s proposal."

Link to Krugman's op-ed piece, titled "Medicare Saves Money" @ http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/13/opinion/13krugman.html

James F Traynor said...

I'm going to a meeting with a small group of progressives this coming weekend. Don't know these people at all. And seriously thinking of joining a protest in D.C. this October. For me, these are true steps of desperation. Other than my daily trip to the gym (where I have to endure Fox News and other indignities) and membership in Mensa ( just to show I could but never attend meetings) I'm practically a damn recluse.

The condition of this country sucks! And Obama! For God's sake, what did we do to deserve him? The revelations in this thread have really pissed me off! I can still see that dim video clip of Bill Clinton leaning over to that bastard Ryan and, sotto voce, commiserating with him for not getting the implementation of his plan to gut Medicare and SS. "Call me", were his last words, as I remember. Jesus, I thought Democrats across the country would erupt in outrage...but nothing, hardly a ripple.

Draft Spitzer said...

Sorry to hear about what happened to your daughter's family. 
I'm glad you wrote this, because I've been wondering aboit it:
" the reason the house is full of tantrum-throwing teabags is because an awful lot of Democrats stayed home at the mid-terms in 2010 because they wanted to "send a message to Obama" or just didn't think it mattered."

I've heard this constantly, and yet I haven't seen any hard statistical support for it. Was there polling?

The reason I wonder is because I myself, who had grown  disgusted with Obama, still managed to vote the full Dem ticket in 2010. 
I wanted to send a message, but I wasn't willing to turn over the House, and my vote reflected that. 

So I suspect (but don't know) that the loss of the house was more about Obama's inability to rally even those who still believed in him (not critics like myself). 

I seem to recall Big Dog Bubba being sent out to rally the folk? 

Does anyone actually know, insofar as such a thing can be known? I always felt (and this is not against you, Janet) that the charge that people like me INTENTIONALLY stayed home in 2010 was somehow "off" because all the critics I knew actually DID vote Dem.

(and they still extended the Bush tax cuts!)

Marina said...

Karen, I just wanted to thank you for writing about your health care experience. I've been having trouble sleeping at night...it's good to not feel alone...

Janet Camp said...


I will have to do some research, but I did read at length about the lack of Democratic voters in the mid-terms. I'll get back to you soon. I voted, too, but I could do nothing to persuade one of my sons, aged 24, who enthusiastically voted in '08, to vote in 2010. But personal examples don't matter--it's the evidence, which you rightly ask for, that counts, so I'll try to find it.

Janet Camp said...

@James Traynor

I quit my gym membership because all the tvs had Fox on all the time. I just couldn't take it, nor did I want to be around all those people who didn't seem to mind. I really couldn't afford it anyway. I walk more now, and enjoy it--that and the gardening seem to keep me fit enough.

VLT said...

"Since I am not a Republican I am capable of being persuaded by reason." Janet Camp.

So true - I think we all are listening to each other, even when we disagree. I, for one, have been convinced that no matter which way we vote on the Prez in 2012, what we need to be doing now is fighting for good Progressive candidates for the House and Senate and for the recall movement.

I read in Truthout - sorry I can't find the quote - that Scott Walker says, because of all the recall efforts (I think there is an effort to recall 5 state senators in Wisconsin.) that he is finding it really hard to govern in a Republic! (Ha!) It goes to show that the grassroots efforts do make a difference!

Janet Camp said...

@ Draft

Here are a couple of quotes, followed by their respective links on the subject of the "enthusiasm gap". I think it was real.

In addition, the electorate that turned out in 2010 was not just highly Republican but also highly conservative. The “enthusiasm gap” that produced lopsided turnout toward the Republicans was because of conservative Republican voters specifically — moderate Republican voters were no more likely to turn out than Democrats.

That gap is commonly understood as the average Republican having been more likely to cast a vote in 2010 than the average Democrat. That’s true as far as it goes. But on top of the gap between Democrats and Republicans, there was a another enthusiasm gap within the Republican party, cleaving conservatives, who were very likely to turn out, from moderate Republicans, who were no more likely to vote than Democrats were.
The data for this assertion comes from a Pew Research poll conducted just a few days before the election. The poll was quite accurate — it predicted a 6-point Republican margin in the popular vote for the House, almost exactly in line with what actually happened.
Pew is among the most transparent polling organizations, and their entire data set for this particular poll is available for public consumption. I looked at the percentage of people from various groups who were given at least 6 points on Pew’s 7-point scale of voting propensity — who I defined as “likely voters.”


Janet Camp said...


I think there are SIX repubs we are trying to recall. The election is next month, and then we shall see if the grassroots really has any power. Sadly, sentiment (or the lack of) for public employees cuts across party lines. I have friends I would consider very progressive who have made some very disparaging comments about public employees and some of the criticism is deserved. We all know of going to some public agency and experiencing the lackluster performance of some of the employees. However, some of us can see beyond this to the bigger picture, but many others cannot. We have become so "me" oriented, that any idea of the greater good has gone out the window. Because so many people are now working longer and harder than ever before, they resent that public employees still have regular hours, sick pay, vacation, affordable health insurance, and a nice pension. Instead of responding by demanding the same for themselves, they want to bring the public employees down to the very level that they have been reduced to! Go figure.

I haven't seen any polls, but I am not sure whether or not the recalls are going to be successful. There are some powerful ads appearing and I keep giving a few bucks to the groups producing them. I detest this method of "informing" voters, but there doesn't seem to be any other way.

Jay - Ottawa said...

@ Janet

The recall vote next month in Wisconsin might signal the beginning of the end to the madness dragging the whole country down. It would be fitting that Wisconsin lead the way out of the quagmire crazed Republicans have taken us all. One hundred years ago it was the "Wisconsin Idea" that made the Progressive Era the golden age all fair-minded Americans look back to with pride and yearning.

If I have a few dollars to send to Wisconsin in gratitude for the past and in hope for the future, where or to whom should I mail the check?

On! Wisconsin.

Anonymous said...


I hope I am not too late in adding to this, and the previous reader comments, re: how difficult it is to get people to protest, and how we forget the Homestead Strikers literally died, and many labor protestors willingly submitted to themselves as gun fodder for the belief that their sacrifice would make life better for future generations (as it did!)...thus, Joe Hill is alive, in you and me, to the extent we carry such a cooperative spirit forward....

So to echo and add to James Traynor, October 6 (October2011.org) is supposed to be THE BIG ONE here in Washington....all of us fed up will amass for days and not leave until we resume government of the people---I assume top of this list will be preserving Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, extending Medicare for all, overturning Citizen's United, impeaching Clarence Thomas (which Weiner was on the cusp of starting at the exact moment the sexting scandal, broke), demanding larger capital reserves for all banks, re-instating the separation of investment and depository banks so depository banks are safe from banker's gambling, implementing a financial transaction tax, appointing Elizabeth Warren to the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, etc....

Or, as Valerie says, maybe it'll be a photop for a lifelong blacklist from corporate America...(I'd love to see the Raging Grannies in person! I thought they looked great on a YouTube video. Your protest won't be effective without at least a few loudmouths, in my opinion.)

Sad, because the few computer engineers I know all describe horrific long weeks of around-the-clock feverish activity, and being on contract work with no benefits....or, if a regular employee, having vacations that were approved, cancelled the day-of because of a new looming deadline...and in all cases, they have told me that unionizing would be "counter-productive" because it is not "professional"--!

What a coup of ideology that one is, similar to the bashing of socialism, when in fact, roads, sidewalks and libraries are "socialist."

While grainy old photos may make the tradesmen of yore look scruffy, the coal marks on their clothes were indeed the mark of true professionals--why? Because they had a craft that required genuine skill and was full, honest labor that caused a sweat--digging the mines, shoveling the coal, laying the foundations of building to make sure they wouldn't fall, laying brick, carving wood, laying mosaic---this was work that required training and skills and it was pride that made the men who already put themselves in harm's way due to the dangerous nature of their work insist that no one should face that danger alone--it would be everyone protected with the same safe working conditions, or no one would work, period. They would not allow themselves to be bought off and divided, one by one.
This brotherly nature is, to me, the definition of professionalism, because it refuses to let anyone be vulnerable, while also giving everyone the opportunity to shine as an artisan, and even artist. Why would they want to do their best? In return for the realization they are not going to be face grave danger due to cost-cutting that belittles their work.

So, just because computer work is not physical, I would say the best way to demonstrate pride in it as professionals would be to unionize.
Equally, the deepest way to express pride in democracy is to take to the streets to ensure EVERYONE can ensure the blessings of freedom.