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Health-care anarchy: We're witnessing the bullying of reasonable debate out of the political arena

"For almost two hundred years, the policy of this nation has been made under our Constitution by those leaders in the Congress and the White House elected by all the people. If a vocal minority, however fervent its cause, prevails over reason and the will of the majority, this nation has no future as a free society." — Richard Nixon, in a national address on Nov. 3, 1969.

This is what is currently at stake in our health-care debate. Our democracy cannot function if anarchy wins out. I do not think that our nation can survive when the response to an open call for dissent is met with vociferous and even violent diatribes. When members of Congress and presidents go to the people for their opinions, there is no need to shout. There is no need to protest, because the powers that be have already prepared a forum for debate. This is not analogous to the antiwar protests of 1968 or 2003. In each case, dissent was repressed and the government sought to avoid confrontation and debate.


Yet in 2009, open calls for debate and dissent are met with anger and fear. This is not dissent. This is not debate. We are currently witnessing the bullying of reasonable debate out of the political arena. We are currently allowing the forcefulness of an argument to stand in for the reasonableness of the argument. We are currently derelict in our duty to preserve the dignity of political discourse that is necessary in a healthy democracy.

We're not talking about health-care reform itself
And so, with public rancor reaching a fever pitch and with old lines being drawn in the sand, it would seem that the debate over the future of health-care reform in the United States has failed. Knee-jerk journalism would have us believe that it has failed because Congress is acting too slowly or too quickly. Or perhaps the Democrats are fractured and cannot stay on message. Then again, maybe President Obama ought to cut Republicans out of the discussion altogether. Indeed, it seems the only thing that we are not talking about is health-care reform itself.

The reports of the demise of health-care reform have been greatly exaggerated, simply because the debate has not failed — yet. Congress still must create a finished bill and put it to a vote, followed by the president's own input. I say again, the debate over health-care reform has not failed yet.

But failure is the goal of those many who have taken over town-hall meetings with the volume of their voices rather than with the truth of their arguments. In July, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint said, "If we're able to stop Obama on (health-care reform) it will be his Waterloo. It will break him." There is no mention of the validity of opposing health-care reform, nor is their mention of whether Obama has anything good to offer.

The goal: obstruction
Smith clearly states his goal as obstruction. He voiced his goal clearly when he predicted that "Senators and Congressmen will come back in September afraid to vote against the American people."

Which brings us to the method of obstruction: distraction. The Rush Limbaughs of the world want to make the debate into a circus, a sideshow that has nothing to do with facts. And so misinformation seeps its way into the mainstream, becoming legitimized as congressmen and -women feel the need to respond to allegations that they will "pull the plug on grandma." The debate shifts. No longer do talking heads banter about the competing goods of single-payer systems vs. a public option. Instead, they ask us how we feel about the protests and opine whether carrying an M16 to a town hall is constitutionally sound.

Of course these are all fine debates to have. But we must not have them at the expense of the debate on health-care reform. Indeed, we must be sure that we do not substitute the din and cacophony created by tangential arguments and demonstrations. By encouraging these demonstrations, Sen. DeMint and his fellow Republicans can claim success in oppressing the democratic function of debate at these town-hall meetings.

Remember the real question
My hope is that those same elected officials who were shouted down in their town halls are level-headed enough to examine the claims presented before them. The goal is not to assuage pro-reform or anti-reform voting blocs. Rather, we must remember that currently the great question is: How can we ensure a functional and sustainable American health-care system? To do so, we must ignore the vocal and disruptive minority that does not wish to participate in the discussion at hand.

In large part, we have already decided that we are pro-health-care reform. We, as a nation, elected a president who campaigned on a clear platform in which health-care reform was a centerpiece. We are free to debate the semantics of the proposed bill. But we will do much better to debate the issue at hand instead of whether carrying assault weapons can be perceived as an exercise of free speech.

Ultimately, I beseech us all to remember that, after all, this is a democracy. If things do not turn out the way Americans want, everyone retains the right to show their frustration as every American has a right to: at the voting booth.

Kellen Hoxworth, of Mahtomedi, is a director of theater and has recently worked on productions of "Hamlet" and "Mother Courage and Her Children."

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Comments (21)

It's obvious that the key issue is not health care reform but allowing or preventing a key accomplishment of the Democratic majority.

Any issue would do; this just happens to be the most convenient. The problem is, health care is a life or death issue for many of us.

No one in their right mind wants to end Medicare or Medicaid or VA heath care for our veterens. These are government run programs, and they are vital, successful government programs.

Forbiding medicare to negotiate drug prices is insane. So is keeping the price of medical procedures secret until recieved. So is tying health care to employment; lose your job, lose your heath care. It's simply nuts!

If we allow the defeat of health care reform we will deserve what we get.

How do we rationalize this very rational, logical approach to where we are confronting the problems in the health care system, with how this country traditionally has made its decisions?

Politics, money, influence, balancing different versions of the truth, playing on peoples fears and all the other tricks and methods that are used to make large decisions like this. The costs of being misleading are very low in contemporary America. Much too low....

The public least understands that the worst feature of the our understanding is that the 2.4 trillion dollars is now spent annually on medical care is required to be spent in order for them to get access to decent medical care.

Its how that money is spent that's the problem, not that its not enough. The misrepresentation of the cost of reform seems to me to be the biggest problem.

Let me illustrate it this way. You will hear and read that health care reform will cost 1 trillion dollars if the bill goes through the house. It is nonsense. That is the cost to the public budget of a particular subsidy arrangement that are in those bills. The cost of reform is tied up with the reform of insurance practices which will be experienced by people all across the country.

If we don't do something about the cost of medical care, we will spend many more trillions of dollars. Just think of it this way, if we spend 2.4 trillion dollars now and its rising at twice the rate of our income, 1 trillion dollars is a trivial amount of the next ten years. So the concentration on, "is it affordable to the federal government" is misleading.

Is it affordable to the country and the only way to make it affordable is to get hold of those costs.

I really enjoyed your article and I also want to congratulate you on directing Mother Courage and her children. One of the modern world's greatest plays. By the way mnfilmarts/oak street cinema is showing Meryl Streep in a version starting Sept. 18.
If you want to know where a not insubstantial part of this civil/uncivil disobedeince is coming from I would strongly urge you to read Francis Schaeffer's Christian Manifesto. The 1982 speech/sermon is available on the web in written and video form. I am not saying he is right and I am not saying that he is wrong but for a substantial part of the population he is/was right.
I would be very interested in reading some of your thoughts after you have digested this 1982 speech. I do not know how to convince you to do this and you may back away from it but it will give you a much fuller hidden dimension of their alternative way of thinking. Geez I hope I can get to see Mother Courage again sometime. Keep writing and directing too!!!

A few thoughts based on your comments, which I appreciate:

1. I agree that it is obvious that these protests are obstructionist in nature. But for some reason, we tend to be drawn into debates on the obstructionist's terms, at which point the hope for a constructive debate dies. Hopefully we can raise awareness of this tendency and avoid further distractions. I think Barney Frank may have it right:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB-KKRLVmZc

2. The healthcare reform money debate is completely bogus. The figures cited are, as you mention, only reflective of the direct costs of establishing and operating the proposed plans. There is no official forecasting done as to what reform will save us as a country. If everyone is insured, how much money does that save? How many fewer people will go to the ER with non-urgent needs? How many more people will get early, preventative care that will avoid expensive, invasive procedures later? These are the debates we should be having instead of whether or not President Obama "wants to pull the plug on grandma."

3. Here's a copy of "The Christian Manifesto": http://www.peopleforlife.org/francis.html. I read it and most of it felt exceedingly familiar. What frightens me is that Schaeffer equates secular humanism with anti-Christianty, "pro-abortion" beliefs, and tyranny. His argument works to prove that they are all the same thing and that "a conservative Humanism is no better than a liberal Humanism. It's the Humanism that is wrong, not merely the coloration." This dualistic, absolutist thinking cannot be reasoned with. If someone believes that your unstated assumptions about the world are irreconcilable with theirs, then rational debate is dead before it can begin.

I have taken to referring to the period from around 1980 to the present as "The Great Stupid". There has been a deliberate and concerted effort mostly from the right, and the religious right, to replace informed discussion with ideological combat, and they have largely succeeded. Despite our education, Americans remain one of the most ignorant population on the planet.

I really think the US may be the first modern nation to collapse under the weight of it's own intellectual mediocrity. Rational, informed public policy has literally become impossible. We've taken a nation of citizens and turned it into a nation of consumers who's only concern is it to satisfy their wants instead of evaluating their needs. In every single arena of public policy we have no policy. Our energy policy was to buy SUVs. Our education policy was to dismantle public education and turn it over to venture capitalists. Our transportation policy was to cut taxes. The idea apparently was to go shopping for some as yet undetermined period of time and leave people's business to a bunch of ignorant sociopaths. You can do that in a democracy, but it's a really stupid thing to do.

I blame the Democrats as much as anyone. Instead of presenting the nation with clear bold initiatives and passionate advocacy they decided to beat the Republicans by becoming Republicans. Instead of championing the liberal traditions that built this nation they hid from the label. In the current health care debate they blew it by not presenting a single payer option because they were afraid of the resistance, yeah they sure have dodged the resistance thus far. A single payer option is simple and comprehensible, it sells itself. As of such and such a date everyone's covered by medicare- done. You can opt out if want but the default is your covered. Your premiums are paid in the form of taxes which will be smaller than most current premiums,your coverage is universal, you go wherever and to whomever you choose for treatment, and you get whatever treatment your Dr. prescribes, no pre authorizations. You'll never see another medical bill for the rest of your life. We'll save money by negotiating rates with drug companies and providers. We'll go from spending 20%-30% of our health care dollars on administration to 3%. No one will ever go bankrupt, loose their house, life saving, or inheritance again do to medical bills. And no, this isn't turning the country into the Soviet Union unless you think Canada is the Soviet Union in which you are a moron who shouldn't be arguing about health care policy. Tell me a child couldn't sell this? The Democrats just didn't have the guts propose it and their cowardice and timidity may well doom our chances to get reform.

So thousands of lives are being lost and destroyed because we have a population that's too stupid and irrational to act in it's own best interest, and a political system that's incapable of making rational public policy. Stick a fork in us... we're done.

Did someone mention Canada?

Oh, goody!

TorontoSun
19th August 2009

"Baby boomers will "systematically and massively" turn to the private sector for health care unless the public system vastly improves, the outgoing head of the Canadian Medical Association warned yesterday."

"The warning from Dr. Robert Ouellet came as members at the CMA's annual meeting voted 85% in favour of pressing government to look at market mechanisms -- including a role for private enterprise -- in delivering publicly funded health care."

"Refusing to make profound changes to the health-care system is tantamount to accepting its steady deterioration," Ouellet told physicians gathered in Saskatoon."
http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2009/08/19/10509376-sun.html

Cheaper health care, anyone?

TorontoSun
17th August 2009

"Despite all the fanfare in 2004 after the premiers adopted the 10-year plan to strengthen Canada's health-care system, little has changed."

"Many jurisdictions are still woefully short of family doctors and the country need another 16,000 nurses."

"Canadians still rely on their own personal finances, or company benefit programs, to pay for their pharmaceuticals."

"Emergency rooms remain clogged."

"Patients are still waiting agonizing weeks for diagnostic scans to learn if they have cancer."

"Rural and northern communities are concerned about their access to services."

"We still lack an efficient electronic health records system."

"Yet we are continually spending more."

"According to Statistics Canada, the federal government, provinces and territories will spend a combined $121 billion on health care for Canadians this year, an increase of 28% since 2005."

http://www.torontosun.com/comment/editorial/2009/08/17/10482091-sun.html

Oh, heck yeah! Sign me up for *that*!

A few more thoughts:

5. I agree that the political dialogue leaves much to be desired. As a rule, both Democrats and Republicans play the game for their own political survival rather than any idealistic aims. The key for those many of us who hope to affect change is to follow the lead of President Obama. For some silly reason, millions of people decided that it would be a good idea to believe that hope and change were necessary goods in our current political arena and that we ought to vote for them last November. Yet, after only a few disruptions and public displays of specious reasoning and lies, many of those same optimists have returned to the cynicism that plagues dialogues the advancement of liberal politics. It's easy to be a cynic because you always get to be "right." The issue is, is it worth it?

6. No one is arguing that a new public option would solve every healthcare related problem. The actual proposal that moves away from single-payer systems is intended to mitigate some of the negative externalities of centralized healthcare that they have in England. The idea is that free-market capitalism works and that the system just needs a bit more competition to benefit the consumers. And yes, it may cost some, especially at first. However, the monetary costs are certainly worth it if lives are saved:

"In 2006, the percentage of Americans without health insurance was 15.8%, or approximately 47 million uninsured people. Source: US Census Bureau"

As for cost containment issues, it can't get much worse:

"The United States spends twice as much on health care per capita ($7,129) than any other country . . . and spending continues to increase. In 2005, the national health care expenditures totaled $2 trillion. Source: National Center for Health Statistics"

"About half of the bankruptcy filings in the United States are due to medical expenses. Source: Health Affairs Journal 2005"

The debate is not "Should we get involved?" but instead, "What should we do?"

All info from http://www.healthpaconline.net/health-care-statistics-in-the-united-stat...

Don't worry Thomas, if your dreams come true one day you'll be able to go to a Walmart clinic and get the cheapest health care on the planet, courtesy of our wonderful markets. I mean, who'd want to go to Mayo when you have a Walmart down the block?

I don't want the cheapest health care, Paul. I want the best I can afford.

I also want a system that ensures that there is the best medical techniques and practitioners on the planet available if I should so choose to access them.

I'd go to WalMed to have cut stitched, for brain surgery, I'd opt for the Mayo. That's the choice our wonderful markets ensure for me and for you.

ObamaCare will ensure everyone gets the same, cut-rate option WalMed would offer, but at a Mayo price.

But hey, don't take my word on it; just ask any Canadian!

Kellen, I thank you for reading Scaeffer's manifesto. By the way he has a community here in Rochester who may be more open minded than most would like to credit them for. I've never been there. By the way I disagree with Schaeffer but it was very seminal it has an origin and a deep resonance with many people. And I think you probably get it pretty well.
Also remember in language a word can have 2 different meanings to 2 different individuals. By the way I find many many writers also guilty of absolutist thinking. A comment on luther(an) thinking. Luther(an)'s often maintain 2 kingdoms. the left hand kingdom of this world (law, medicine, work, education etc.) and the right hand kingdom of spirit (whatever that means) Luther said "Be a sinner (of this world) and sin boldly but believe and rejoice in him/her more boldly. Luther also wrote "there must be sects splits so that the spirits may clash".
Again thank you for your time and let us also think of free speech debates on campus. Do you know of any good plays adressing this i.e. campus speech besides the great film berkely in the 60's?

//I don't want the cheapest health care, Paul. I want the best I can afford.

Yeah, until we have a national system, that's gonna be Walmart little buddy.

By the way, you seem to be awfully positive about the outcome of "Obamacare", as far as I know there is no plan yet, how can you be so positive about a plan doesn't exist? One of the problems the Democrats have right now is that they simply have no plan to champion, that's why they can't frame the discourse, they have nothing to frame it around. Had they gone for single payer...

//The actual proposal that moves away from single-payer systems is intended to mitigate some of the negative externalities of centralized healthcare that they have in England. The idea is that free-market capitalism works and that the system just needs a bit more competition to benefit the consumers.

This is the problem, we need to be mitigating our health care problems, not Englands. Don't talk about England, Canada, or Germany, talk about Medicare, that's our best model. It exists, it's up and running, all we'd have to do is expand it to cover everyone. You can let people opt out if you want but stop trying to solve England's health issues at least until we have 100% universal coverage in this country. As for competition, we've had enough faith based economics. The markets have had 233 years to produce efficient, affordable, universal health care in this country and instead they've produce the most expensive and inefficient system in the world. The markets failed back in 1962 when Hospitals demanded we create Medicare to pay for all the uninsured they were treating, and despite decades of do-overs it's only gotten worse. We don't let markets produce Police departments, the attempt to let them produce a health care system has failed spectacularly. This insanity needs to stop.

As for Obama and cynicism, as near as I can tell he is now promoting exactly the same plan he attacked as his rival Hillary Clinton's plan. Obama's not going to fail because I'm cynical, he's going to fail because he blew it just like Clinton did. Unless he goes back to his original plan, the plan I voted for, a universal public plan, he's gonna blow it.

Hello all. A few more:

10. I don't doubt that Schaeffer has a large following--if nothing else, the vitriol over the abortion issue, the paranoia about government interference in religion, and the healthcare debates all bear that out. The issue is that there is no moderation of public debates. Many people cry foul when presidential candidates dodge questions in the electoral debates, but few seem to have the same issue when it comes to large groups of the population. If the town hall meeting is about healthcare reform, then issues should be limited to that subject. Of course, this requires cooperation and would undoubtedly lead to accusations of violating the First Amendment. But nevertheless, there is some desire, and plenty of need to reform the rules of public debate. Personally, I've had enough mudslinging and swiftboating.

12. I agree that Medicare works, but it has budget shortfalls too. The debate needs to be framed in a way that answers questions instead of raising them. For instance, references to French, English, German, and Canadian healthcare systems confuse the debate simply because people don't understand how all of the systems are different. In fact, most people don't know what the healthcare reform proposals are about: http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/08/poll-most-dont-know-what-public-o.... So, I agree that we shouldn't talk about England, we should talk about the proposals.

12 (cont'd). As for the best means to deal with the current debate, the worst thing we can do is to assume that it's a done deal. If you want reform to start, then you should find the proposal that most closely fits your ideology. It's too late to call a mulligan and start over on the type of reform--we can't suddenly say that we'll adopt a French-style system. But we can solidify support for a public option, which is failing because people just don't understand it. Whether it is cynicism or fatalism, the debate isn't over. This isn't 1994. And President Obama won't end up in the same position that President Clinton ended up in if we all work together to clarify the debate. Remember, the majority of Americans support the public option once they understand it. That's all that needs to happen.

//I agree that Medicare works, but it has budget shortfalls too.

According the recent Medicare trustee report those shortfalls are the result of a failure to contain costs. Medical costs in general rose by double digits over the last 8 years and the part B drug plan ballooned costs because it doesn't negotiate rates with drug companies. Both of these problems could easily be fixed if medicare were expanded and became universal. The reason the industry is so afraid of medicare expansion is because they know it would contain costs, and that means less income for them.

//There is no official forecasting done as to what reform will save us as a country.

I don't know what you mean by "official" forcasting. For one thing, you can't make such calculations unless you have some idea what reform you're going to enact and since we don't know that you question is currently impossible to answer. If we expanded medicare and made it universal the estimates are that we could save at least 20% and reduce health care's share of the GDP from 16% to 10%... but that's NOT the plan.

//If everyone is insured, how much money does that save?

The savings don't come from insuring everyone, the come from controlling costs. This is why the MA model fails. All mandated insurance does is funnel more money to insurance companies. The savings come from reducing administrative costs and controlling actual medical costs.

//How many fewer people will go to the ER with non-urgent needs?

Well at least 45 million Americans would have an option besides the ER if we had 100% coverage with no co-pay or deductables.

//How many more people will get early, preventative care that will avoid expensive, invasive procedures later?

First, beware the myth of preventative care saving money. Remember what preventative care is, it's not diet and exercise, it's medical procedures and treatment. Blood pressure, asthma, cholesterol meds, blood glucose monitoring, THAT's preventative medicine. Mammograms, colonoscopies, EKGs, and dozens of blood tests, THAT's preventative medicine. And don't forget that "preventative" medicine usually doesn't actually prevent anything, it just detects it sooner. All that education and follow up isn't free. You do preventative care because it's an essential part any decent health care system, but don't expect big savings. In fact, adding all that additional care to millions of Americans health care regimen would probably add to costs, not savings. At best it's a wash. Is it cheaper to have someone on blood pressure and cholesterol meds for 30 years than it is for them to have a hear attack? The way drug companies figure out how much to charge for meds is they calculate what if any equivilent procedures the meds are replacing and hey calculate when they want the return on their investments. So while you may prevent heart bypass surgery with meds, you don't necessarily do it cheaper. The saving will come from containing costs, pure and simple.

//As for the best means to deal with the current debate, the worst thing we can do is to assume that it's a done deal.

No, the worst thing we can do is assume that anything is better than nothing and compromise our way into a non solution that will kill thousands more Americans for years to come. A single payer option is simply not on the table, and even a scaled down public option is fading away. Sure we can advocate for our solutions, but you also have to be willing to walk away, no deal may be better than a bad deal. Obama needs to be willing to veto anything that doesn't at least have a public option, and negotiated rates with drug companies and other providers. I've heard no mention of any veto possibility.

//If you want reform to start, then you should find the proposal that most closely fits your ideology.

No, that's how we got into this situation in the first place, that's the Great Stupid. What your suggesting is pure irrationality- start with your ideology and work backwards. This isn't about ideology it's about working the problem. People need to set their ideologies aside and try to think critically and acquire reliable information. Any attempt to fit a proposal into an ideological framework will only distort reality and sabotage public policy. The failure to see beyond and outside "market" ideologies for instance has created this problem. So selecting a "plan" that fits that ideology will only perpetuate the problem.

To use a baseball metaphor most times I think you are "right on" and occasionally you are off base. I don't chew tobacco and I am not gonna spit at your feet. I also think it is good to have the occasional contrarian view a reason why reading Camille Paglia is so much fun.
Anyways I do think it may be a done deal and I do not mean that in a bad way. At the end of the day the number of uninsured will be cut in 1/2 and much needed reforms will have been put in place. Obama has been able to notch a lot of victories and some of the victories may be smaller than hoped for but bigger steps progressively forward than thought possible in August of 2008.
It will be interesting to see what will galvinize the electorate in 2010. Then 2012. There are times when Biden is looking mighty old. Also we should tip our hat to LBJ his inner workings were truly masterful. It will be very curious to see what historians will say about this presidency in 20 years.
On foreign policy it seems like there will be new strains with China and Germany and the rising economies of Russia and the other populous nations including Brazil. Believe it or not. What will happen with Somalia??
One more thought. I attended a lecture at the U of MN 10 years ago on the armenian genocide. The invited guest concluded his speech and the first two questioners were holocaust deniers from Turkey. It was pretty electrifying even though for me they did not have the historical facts including photos and third person accounts on their side. The back and forth was heated but civil. Hey wouldn't it be fun at times to be a high school civics teacher this Fall. Or to check out the great american thinkoff in New York Mills? Best wishes.

Also not to be cynical but read one of Eric Blacks earlier posts on how health insurance lobbyists are viewing the cost/benefits on this on. Also the uproar on drug costs. It is also interesting with social media especially when you can congregate some of the political elites and take metrics of which way the wind is blowing this was done with the prior 2 natl elections and on the iraqi war.

Dan,

How do you figure the uninsured will be cut in half?

Every year goes by without a decent health care system in the US make our economy less competitive. So long as we continue to pour so much of our GDP into the economic black holes of over priced and inefficient health care and military spending, we simply won't have the additional capital for economic growth.

The Democrats are blowing the best opportunity they've had in decades because they don't have the guts or the foresight to champion an actual solution and fight for it. The problem with incrementalism is it fails to deliver the necessary results in a timely fashion. Nothing the Democrats are currently talking about will produce any meaningful change in most Americans lives. If people don't see a change, they'll conclude it's a wash. This failure will not only condemn thousands of Americans to death and suffering, it will reinforce the predominate belief that government cant be trusted and is incapable of generating and implementing public policy. The effects of this will last for decades as yet another generation of Americans concludes that public policy is for chumps and rational discourse is boring and unproductive. And then there's the adverse affect on the economy, the US lead the world into this recession and it looks like we'll be the last to pull out. Unless this country pulls it's head out of it's collective backside and remembers how to use government we're simply doomed. The best way to generate cynicism is to fail on a massive scale, that's exactly what we're about to do.

Paul, I really do not know how to answer you, yet I'll try. Currently we have approx. 47 million uninsured were it not for medicare, medicaid, veterans care and disability (medicaid) all govt. programs we would probably have 100 million more. We also have probably another 50 million who are underinsured. I am for one not seeing where the democrats are blowing it but perhaps I do not spend enough time with the media.
Just to tell you where I am coming from I too wish they could have voted before recess. I too see where costs either way are a big driver. I too am currently disappointed in Senator Klobuchar but hey at least Coleman accepted defeat finally.
Now in order, at least from my perspective. Having just dealt with minor budgetary issues and decision making I do not see where the Democrats do not have guts or the foresight. One criticism of the Clinton plan in 93 was they spelled out too much, were not politically savvy etc. etc.
Obama has the presidency with a clear decisive victory (somewhat due to the September meltdown and massive turnout). The democratic party has the house and the senate also. There is some talk of party discipline regarding the blue dogs some who are nervous already about 2012.
Ted Kennedy was an incrementalist. He accomplished alot. Your Nothing is an absolute statement I generally do not deal in absolutes. We have had a lot of change for democratic policies that we are begining to take them for granted even though they are just getting implemented. Read Obama's
first 100 days in the New York Review of Books. Not exactly a mass market publication.
Do not dwell on failure or failings if so the only alternative is despair. Chomsky and the spirits want you to act for the good. Educate people on the good things that have occurred already in 2008. If you need examples reread Obama's first 100 days. If you do not want to, then that's your problem not mine but I can and could provide you with examples. In ending I always tell my kids you atract better things with kindness then bitterness. Although they inevitably will taste bitterness may they arise again to meet the new day. Best wishes.

This one's funny, Bill Maher on stupid America: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8QcE4S1hEU

What an oricle, try running for office.

Another Characteristic of the "Great Stupid" is a the widespread inability to distinguish the difference between denial and optimism. I would never recommend one dwell on failure, but you sure as hell better be able to recognize one when you see it.