On Hartford Ave.

It’s not yet 6am and the brain isn’t awake yet, so here’s some quick impressions of last night’s Town Hall at the Johnston Senior Center.

I made a sign, ‘Health for America, Yes We Can’ in red, white and blue. I could have made one that said, ‘I would really prefer that a single-payer system like the Federal Employees insurance benefit enjoyed by Congress be made available to all but I’ll support an incremental reform like the public option now under discussion because I believe in harm-reduction and I’ll welcome any change for the better’. But the traffic whizzing by on Hartford never would have been able to read that.

The anti people had it easier. They had slogans like–‘No more taxes’. I’m sorry, I think this is dumb. We are going to pay taxes, our right and responsibility is to make sure the taxes are spent for the common good.

Anyway, since the strip of sidewalk at the entrance of the Senior Center was occupied by anti-reform people, I decided to plant myself there to make a visual statement of support–get some diversity out there.

I was next to an anti-tax guy, and I tried to start simple. ‘Do you think that every American should be able to access basic health care?’ He said the insurance companies needed reform. He started to consider that no one should be shut out of health care due to lack of money, but then backtracked. This was off the ‘no tax’ message, end of discussion. He moved to the other end of the sidewalk, and some time later another anti-tax guy showed up smoking what had to be the world’s biggest cigar. He looked real proud, I guess he had the tobacco equivalent of the Hummer. If he ever gets lung disease, are we supposed to tsk, tsk him about his ‘bad choices’? (a stupid sanctimonious phrase I hate. show me any human who never made bad choices.)

I was there about 2 hours. Passing cars honked but it was seldom sure who they were honking for. Two of us were holding signs for health care reform when a tall, blonde woman joined us with an anti sign. We eventually started talking. She complemented me on being capable of making a sign. “I didn’t know that liberals could make their own signs, I thought they just took what the Unions gave them.” We had a fascinating discussion.

She continued to use the word ‘liberal’ the way some use the word ‘queer’, that is, not in a good way. I’m still processing that having different politics would make me seem so alien to her. But I suspect she reads Ann Coulter.

I suspected other things about her. I’ve been baptized three times, never took. The most recent was in Apponaug Pentecostal Church. I have a sensitive nose for the odor of sanctity. I guessed that she was religious, and I came out as a Unitarian, just to be contrary.

She ended up telling me that the Holy Spirit told her I would accept Jesus into my heart as Lord and Savior. She was saying these words of love and holiness with eyes full of anger, with a voice high with rage. I would have been scared, but I’ve been through this before, at a much younger age. I have no use for generic love, especially when they hate everything I believe in.

The discussion stuck at the same point as all the others I’ve had at three Town Halls. Anti-tax, Christian, whatever, they say that if Americans have to die for lack of health care, that’s just how it is. They made bad choices, we can’t afford it, they should just go to the emergency room, that’s our safety net.

I left the sidewalk and checked out the Senior Center. Feelings were high, but it was an orderly question and answer session. Only one or two Larouchites remained to peddle their magazines, from a table outside the door.

Good people can disagree on how to make health care available to all Americans, but when we can’t agree whether, I don’t know what to say.

‘Yes We Can’ was the spirit that put a man on the moon. Yes, we are a great nation, and we can build a system that works well and effectively. ‘No We Can’t’ is the spirit of fear and retreat. Any action we take will be messy, will require investment today for rewards later. Inaction is worse. The least we can do is start bailing, what we really need is to patch up the holes.

20 thoughts on “On Hartford Ave.

  1. This is great stuff, Nancy. The interactions you are having with the anti-reform people are full of insights into how they operate. I just don’t know how you can deal with it over and over again! You give new meaning to the word “intrepid.”

  2. Nancy,

    This is a compliment. Debating you would be a great pleasure. I’m not an atypical anti-public option person. No, I feel ok with the government becoming another competitor in the field, I think that could help consumers. But, and this is a big B-U-T, the government could also monopolize the health care industry and that is something I don’t want to see happen.

    I think you may be dramatizing “Yes we can” a bit much with the government’s intervention into healthcare like this. Oddly enough, I recall being in high school when Clinton was trying to push through universal healthcare in ’93. I was so gung ho for it it wasn’t funny. And then it died.

    I think a quintessential reason is expressed by your piece above:
    “Yes We Can’ was the spirit that put a man on the moon. Yes, we are a great nation, and we can build a system that works well and effectively. ‘No We Can’t’ is the spirit of fear and retreat.”

    See, folks who are say No to the government option are saying yes to the current market system. Yes we Can have a market system that is fair to consumers and No we Don’t need the government’s help in this manner. Dismissing counter arguments as those coming from people who have a spirit of fear is a bit disingenuous in my opinion.

    I’m not exactly convinced of Obama’s plan but I think a public plan can certainly work…but…the big B-U-T is still there.

  3. Well said,Don.What we need is to look carefully-not jump into water without checking for rocks.
    The healthcare system has been messed up for years and I think it is simpleminded to believe we can fix it in a headlong rush.

  4. OK, I’m going to try to take this slowly. I’ve honestly stopped reading the comments here because it doesn’t seem worth the increase in my blood pressure.

    Don, I truly appreciate that you’re taking a reasonable approach to this. However, there are some huge issues that you are simply not seeing.

    Clinton’s health care plan didn’t “die.” It was murdered. It was deliberately and viciously killed off by vested interests that spent oodles of money to deceive and delude the American public. They lied. They lied to protect their interests and their profits.

    And now they’re doing it again. The only difference is that they’re even more brazen in their lies. You say we can have a fair system based on a free market. I say that you are simply wrong.

    The “system” that we have is the result of a free market. It is unfair, and it’s getting worse. The number of uninsured is growing. The number of people getting booted from their insurance because they actually get sick is growing. Costs are skyrocketing.

    This is what the free market has brought us. What we are headed for is more of the same, except worse.

    And that is what the Republicans want. They are deliberately doing their damnedest to kill reform, so that we can continue down the path that we’re on.

    Sometime in early August, the Republicans started saying that no reform is better than what is being proposed. Grassley has recently said that he’s opposed to reform, no matter what sort of compromises or concessions the Dems offer.

    Chuck Grassley (R-IA)wants to maintain the status quo, in which the haves get health care and the have-nots die young from preventable disease. That is, I suppose, their plan to cut Social Security benefits: make sure a lot of people die before they have a chance to collect.

    IOW, the Republicans want to let health care companies increase their profits by allowing insurance companies to continue dropping people just when they really need insurance.

    It’s called a “lifetime maximum” clause.

    Sarah Palin spreads a vicious lie about “death panels.” Which, by the way, were originally part of the Part D boondoggle passed under GWBush. When asked point blank about Palin’s outrageous lie, The Honorable John McCain agreed with her. He went along with the lie.

    Just as he’s now lying about the Reconciliation process. In March, he admitted that the Republicans had used it to get through some partisan legislation. Now, however, he’s saying that the use of Reconciliation would be a grave Constitutional crisis.

    Why is McCain lying? Because he’s more interested in protecting the status quo–the wealth of a very few individuals–than he is looking out for the interests of the American people at large.

    In fact, the whole issue is that the Republicans are fighting this tooth and nail because they’re afraid of the political advantage that this would give Dems. The thing that the Republicans hate most is a popular gov’t program that works. Like Medicare.

    The Republicans screamed bloody murder about Soc Sec, and Medicare, shouting about how it was socialism and would lead to communinism here in the US and–

    Does any of this sound familiar? It should. They said it in 1933. They were wrong. They said it in 1965. They were wrong. They’re saying it now, and they’re wrong again.

    But they keep saying it. They are desperately trying to kill reform because it puts a huge hole in their raison d’etre: to fight the boogeyman of “big gov’t.” Why do they hate big gov’t? Because it’s the only effective counterweight to Big Business.

    That’s why.

    They would prefer to protect the interests of the wealthy few than protect the interests of most of the people.

    So, Don and Joe, if health care doesn’t pass, it’s because the Republicans killed it. You will have no one to thank but yourselves.

    1. klaus:

      Just keep asking, “What alternatives are the Republicans offering to cover 45 million people?”

      Until we get an answer, the rest is all noise. Problem is, the righties like hearing themselves yell. And it doesn’t matter what they’re yelling, as long as it boils down to ‘No.’

  5. Klaus-I asked you a few simple questions a while back.You conveniently ignored them.They weren’t trick questions.I simply inquired if you were ready to give up the plan you have now and take a public option?And if you stood to gain financially from health care reform.
    I get it-I will be to blame if health care reform fails.Since the only place I’ve discussed it has been here and maybe on RIF I doubt I could influence anyone.And actually I haven’t opposed it.Do you hem and haw and shop around to buy a car?A house?
    I haven’t gone to any of these town hall meetings.If I want to see people screaming at each other I guess I could turn on Jerry Springer.
    I don’t want to debate you.Other people here are much more amenable to discussing things.You just like to accuse.You’re so locked in to your moveon.org tunnel vision that you don’t know what day it is.
    I don’t think you get what’s going on.This country may be coming to a tipping point where it could devolve into something you really wouldn’t like.Health care is only one aspect.This could have been presented in 3 or 4 bills,and everyone would have a better idea of what’s going on.Even diehard liberal partisans like Susan Estrich have noticed that the anger and mistrust is more visceral than anything that could have been ginned up by insurance companies or talking heads-which isn’t to say they haven’t got their hand in.
    Just check out what is going on at the CIA.Leon Panetta is no Republican operative and he is enraged at what that miserable SOB Holder is trying to do.Holder is apparently trying to dismantle our national security apparatus.the accusations of what the CIA did,such as mock executions,etc are no worse than stuff that was done to myself and fellow military recruits at Parris Island in 1965.I guess you were never in the service.They did really bizarre and trauma inducing stuff back then.It was supposed to prepare you for resisting pressure if you were captured.I won’t tell you the details because unless it was done to you,you can’t have a clue.They can’t do that stuff anymore.I don’t know if that is an improvement or not.It didn’t leave me with any permanent effect.
    I’m WAY off topic here,but the point is that this country is in trouble on many fronts and I’m not confident things will go according to routine.
    The latest controversy about giving the President authority to take control of the Internet raised by Sen.Rockefeller’s bill is just another example.

  6. Joe, if you were paying attention, you would realize that the whole point of the public option is that it’s an option.

    No one would be forced to take it, because it’s optional.

    I accuse and rant because you take way too many of your talking points from RW sources that have been repeatedly lying about this process and many others. I am sick of the way that RW has perverted and corrupted political discourse over the past 15 years. It’s time people stood up and pushed back against the Limbaughs and the Becks and the Palins and the McCains and the Grassleys and all of the other purveyors of lies.

    The system we have stinks. It’s run for the benefit of insurance companies. They make money by denying coverage wherever and whenever they can. They routinely deny covered procedures in the hopes that the beneficiary will just submit to authority and pay the bill.

    Have you tried to deal with an insurance company lately? Or any large corporation? Have you tried to negotiate voice-mail hell? These things are designed to discourage you from bothering. Just shut up and pay the bill, whether it’s legitimately yours to pay or not.

    Yes, the country is off the tracks. It has been since the abolition of the fairness doctrine, which has allowed Rush and his legion of imitators to poison the public mind. HE LIES! HE LIES REPEATEDLY!! YES, I’M SHOUTING!!

    The difference between Rush and the nutcases on Daily Kos is that Rush is the de facto leader of the Republican party. No one dares cross him.

    Aren’t you retired? Then you participate in a single-payer system. If you go to the VA, you are participating in socialized medicine. You have said yourself that the coverage and the service are excellent.

    So why are the Republicans trying to kill reform? Why is John McCain–who has socialized medical coverage–trying to kill reform?

    Answer that one.

    As for the CIA–I love how you law-and-order types don’t seem to mind in the least that gov’t agencies routinely break the law. Not a problem for you.

    As for the CIA and their abilities, Richard Clarke had a good piece about how the CIA goes into a snit and sulks whenever Congress tries to exercise oversight.

    You see, Joe, I believe in the Constitution. I don’t believe it can be applied in some cases and not others. We either have a rule of law, or we don’t.

    Where I have a problem with Holder is that, I agree that we shouldn’t be going after the CIA. We should be going after Cheney and Bush and the other lying bastards that gave the CIA their orders. That includes Addington, Ashcroft and everyone else who provided legal cover for this activity.

    No, Joe, I don’t have a narrow moveon vision. I actually understand history, and how this country developed, and how democracy developed throughout the world. I understand what the rule of law means, and I believe that we have to adhere to it. No, I don’t believe American is a shining city on a hill that can do no wrong. We’ve committed plenty of crimes in our 200+ year history. We’ve committed crimes because too many people cut corners and refused to abide by the principles we supposedly stand for.

    I understand that wealth = power in our country, and that Republican policies of the past 30 years have been all about giving more power to the wealthy. And I believe that’s wrong. And one way they do it is by screaming about national security to distract from domestic policy issues.

    Sort of like what you just did. We started talking about health care, and you dragged in the CIA. Why, Joe? How was that relevant?

    Answer: it wasn’t. You couldn’t refute me on merit so you changed the subject.

    And yes, I would chose a public option, if it seemed like a better deal than what I have now. You’ve got public health insurance, after all, and you seem pleased with it.

    That was the topic.

  7. And PS.

    I haven’t heard about the Rockefeller bill. But that’s because I don’t follow FOX, or Rush, or any of the other RW liars with the consistency that you apparently do.

    That’s not puerile. If that’s where you’re getting your talking points–and it sure seems like it–I have the right to call you on it.

    The biggest indication was when you said Obama couldn’t speak w/o a teleprompter. No one was talking about that except FOX, Rush, and the rest of that sorry, sick crew.

    And then there was the Zeke Emanuel thing. Where, pray tell, did you get that if not from FOX, Rush, etc?

    1. klaus:

      FactCheck.org has done an in-depth review of the claims being made by the RW about HR 3200. Of 48 claims, just 4 are true (including those outlining how people will be taxed to pay for a public option as part of the “mandatory” coverage proposal and how hospitals may be penalized for allowing too many “preventable re-admissions,” meaning taking steps to cut wasteful spending).

      The rest — that’s 44 for those scoring at home — are outright lies (26) or misleading statements being used to cloud and distort the facts (18). If the RW cared at all about winning the argument, as opposed to being obstructionists and shills for the insurance industry, they’d get more than 8% of their facts correct.

      Here’s the link:

    2. I see no further point in speaking with you.
      DON’T tell me about insurance company hell.I just went through it with regard to a family member(still going through it)and the deatils are none of you concern.
      You fancy yourself an interrogator by “discovering”that I am “influenced” by right wing sources.You have a total disrespect for my own learning,both academically and from life experience.You have a pedantic style which right off the bat,makes one not too interested in your argumnent.
      I did say the CIA issue was off-topic,but it is very important.The people sent to fight our wars don’t need the rug pulled from under them.That includes CIA and military both.If you don’t like some of our tactics,tough shit.Until you’ve been in a war,don’t tell me word one about it.Things are done that are necessary.I get the feeling that no country is good enough for you.You have this phony moral superiority based on nothing.If you get shot at,I’d like to hear your mealy mouth crap then.I hope you never get to be under fire.Or see the results.
      You don’t have the integrity to answer my questions.

      1. PS- I noticed your courteous tone with Don,as opposed to your keyboard tough guy accusatory BS directed at me.Don and I were pretty much on the same page about health care.You’ve personalized this from your bunker of anonymity.
        You are basically an armchair socialist who wouldn’t have the guts to live in any socialist society in this world because it would interfere with your lifestyle.I don’t picture you as anything but VERY comfortable,not rich,but never worried about lacking much.and telling others how to live-fairness doctrine,assault weapons ban,etc.You can stick those where the sun don’t shine.

  8. Gee, Joe.

    I’ll say it once more: if you don’t want me to call you on the RW talking points, don’t repeat them. Maybe you don’t get them from Rush directly, but they’re all working from the same script.

    And have you ever got the social class stuff wrong. I came from a blue collar family and had to work plenty of low-end jobs to get where I am. And now the area where I grew up has been economically depressed for a couple of decades because of Republican policies and the attitudes that Rush & c defend. A few people got rich, and a whole lot of people got screwed. Badly.

    I remember where I came from.

    I know that there were people who helped me: parents, teachers, programs, etc. But, rather than imagine that I pulled myself up all alone, I remember each and every helping hand I got. So I want these people to be able to get the help they need, and the help to be there for the next guy, too.

    Comfortable? Not wanting for anything? Sorry, Joe. Don’t fit that mold. Not even close.

    The thing is that I realize that whatever I have could be lost if I’m unlucky enough to get sick or injured. I’m not deluding myself; it could happen to me, like it’s happened to millions of other people.

    Don’t worry. I’ve dished on Don plenty of times in the early days of the site.

    What exactly are we fighting these wars for, if not for democracy and the rule of law? How do we fight for democracy and rule of law by breaking our own laws and stifling democracy? You don’t see a problem with that?

    And, btw, I thought I had the right to hold and express my opinions. Isn’t that in the first amendment?

    You don’t have to agree with me, or even listen to me, but don’t tell me to stick ’em. I don’t have to keep quiet just so I don’t upset your nice, cozy little world where you have all your answers handed to you courtesy of the Right Wing Opinion Factory.

    And, Jesse, thanks for the link. I take notes, and this ref will come in handy.

    Now, good night, Joe. Truth be told, I really don’t enjoy spending my time like this.

    1. Haha-my RW source for the story on the Rockefeller bill?A CBS connected site.
      It isn’t nice when people assume things about you,is it?
      I have never lived in any kind of cozy world.My view of things is undistorted by idealism or wishful thinking.I think the world is a pathological hellhole if you want to know the truth.Nothing can fix it because we are so imperfect.that’s why social engineering will always fail.It’s beyond politics.Politics are something to keep us occupied.
      Most of the people I reference like the Emanuels and Peter Singer were well-known to me before I ever heard of Obama.
      I never intended to make you think you didn’t have the right to express yourself-the “stick it” remark was simply my reaction to your way of thinking.I wouldn’t like to live in a place where dissident speech is suppressed,like let’s say Venezuela.
      how many times was Bush portrayed as a Nazi?They even made a movie about him being assassinated while he was in office.he was pretty thick skinned about all of it.
      I cannot imagine such a movie made today without a public outcry and investigations.
      I actually think films like that are treading on unprotected speech. insofar as they protray a living individual and could be seen as a htreat,which is never protected speech,regardless of the target.
      I grew up blue collar check to check facing eviction at one point even though we were paying our rent.The landlord wanted to get rid of tenants on rent control He was Black,and we were White.It was about color-green.The guy was a typical greedy landlord.
      I am not self made either.Very few people are,if any.
      With regard to the fairness doctrine,how about NPR?I listen pretty often,and aside from music and film reviews,etc they are consistently left wing with the occasional opposing voice.
      I do like Fox news.The Shepherd Smith show,because they cover things NBC for example doesn’t.
      I had a bone to pick with Eric Holder going back to his days as the “real”AG under Reno,who was frequently incapacitated by booze.(first hand info).
      How can you explain away Obama’s proposal for a civilian security force.I heard this from him directly during the campaign.he hasn’t said much about it since.As far as I’m concernec it was a test balloon for a paramilitary,something this country NEVER needs.

  9. I was just talking to a friend, who works for a very respected local business. She said that they have a large number of people on staff who are hired part-time at just below the hours where they would qualify for health insurance.
    I had kind of forgotten about this practice, which is common.
    I heard a lot of talk at the Town Halls about people making ‘bad choices’ not to get insurance, but I’m impressed, actually, that so many I work with pay a very large part of their paycheck to be included on the company plan. Even with the employer paying part, it’s a big bite.
    One of the urgent pressures for reform is the rise in cost of insurance and treatment if we continue to leave it up to individual corporations that exist to maximize profit.

    1. The killer is family coverage.In many companies individual coverage is reasonably inexpensive or occasionally provided by the employer,but family coverage is out of reach.Most people need the latter.
      My son worked without coverage for a long time.
      My sister in law and her husband owned a small business and never had coverage even with two daughters.They were just lucky no one got really sick.
      After the girls grew up ,they bought a policy and he had a heart attack.That would have bankrupted them earlier on.
      Health care shouldn’t be hit or miss in this country.It’s not a case of “bad choices”when people are priced out of coverage.I notice some people around here decide what I’m saying without reading.At least you don’t.It was very nice to meet you.

  10. Same here. I appreciate that we are having a reality-based discussion. We can’t go just on anectdotes and individual cases, but some of what I heard at the Town Halls just doesn’t apply to the real world.
    Worst of all is when politicians say ‘they can just go to the emergency room’. That’s what’s sinking the hospitals and clogging up our emergency response. Gods help us if we don’t get a rational and fair system in place.

  11. Sadly, an outrageous lie is much easier to grasp than a statement such as ‘the public option would pay private doctors Medicare rates plus 5% which they are free to accept or refuse.’
    I saw a great joke on the net–
    ‘When the Rapture comes can I have your stuff?’
    I listen to my folks watching Fox news and correlating it with Revelations–if you tune in to the 700 Club they have a fake news show that does that for you. Reality has a tough time competing.

    1. NN:

      I just try to remember that the more shrill the attacks, the more desperate the opposing side is getting — and the more likely it is they’ll lose.

      With any luck, the Dems will grow a spine this fall, remember what the GOP nearly did with smaller majorities in both houses (“nuclear option,” anyone?), and push through a health reform law that will finally address the 45 million uninsured people we have in this country.

      And contrary to Michael Steele’s diatribes, health reform will help everyone — insuring more people and children is not a partisan benefit.

    2. There is so much in Revelation that you can interpret how you wish.Did you ever think that is exactly what it is meant to do?
      The Newsweek article was referred to me on RIF and three of their points are true;one hopefully is true(aliens);and the final one probably is,unless there is a massive exodus of insurers from the market.
      The devil is always in the details,meaning that the black letter law undergoes a lot of permutations on its way to implementation.i’m basing my opinion on the way immigration law progressed from passed and signed legislation to practice.Too long to go into here,but discouraging.

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