“Victory”

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On the cusp of a landmark “victory” on health care reform, President Obama dramatically addressed a boisterous throng of well-wishers convinced that his industry written reforms constituted positive change. The President glowed and fed off the positive energy in the air. He seemed revitalized and renewed as the crowd roared its approval.  The president’s earnest entreaties are beguiling and difficult to resist.  The recession weary public desperately wants to believe that “change we can believe in” is at last on the way. It isn’t.

Many on the left in the progressive blogosphere believe that “change we can believe in” was killed in the crib. The corporate infanticide of change was facilitated by a conspiracy between the Administration and the insurance lobby that gutted the public option, instituted weak cost controls, enforced a mandate to buy private insurance and left the anti-trust exemption, which allows insurance companies to engage in the most egregious price gouging, largely intact.  The reality leaves me drained and dispirited.

The average black person I meet is trapped in a post inaugural cocoon of black pride.  Any constructive criticism of the President provokes a defensive scorn, as if you called their upstanding, god fearing, churchgoing grandmama a trifling whore.  The relationship between the Obamas and the black community is not political but familial. They meet every benchmark of acceptability and are like the new bougie couple that just joined the church that everybody wants to get to know. We see ourselves in them.  Unfortunately, we’ve become so lost in the reflection of ourselves that we failed to notice that the black community is drowning in an ocean of narcissistic b.s. and benign neglect.

The Stockholm syndrome is so profound that if the Congressional Black Caucus had determined to sink Health Care Reform without a public option, blackfolks would have eaten them alive.  Some folk seem to think that God put them here on earth to be Obama’s pep squad.  The President may be black, but he is also a politician like all those that came before him who told us what we wanted to hear and then broke their backs to do the bidding of their corporate paymasters.

The absence of a real urban agenda, what some refer to as a “black agenda,” is a festering wound that will never heal without progressive policy solutions that address the corporate theft of predatory lending, support for mass transit, massive infrastructure improvement,  job training programs, de-escalation of both the prison and military industrial complexes and support for public education.  The president has done some good work on the education piece with a reform of student loans, but much more needs to be done.

Don’t get me wrong, the stimulus was a tremendous help in stabilizing the economy, but we are in such a deep hole that we need much more. Everybody knows that there ain’t no damn jobs out here. State budgets are still tight and teacher layoffs, public school closings, and the loss of thousands of state and local government jobs is still a daily reality. The president damn near had to fight the civil war all over again with some ignorant Republican from Kentucky just to extend unemployment benefits for a short time.

Here in the Carolinas, Republicans  in the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to the eliminate  state support for the entire budget for HIV/AIDS  prevention and assistance. That also includes the AIDS drugs assistance program that provides a lifeline to HIV positive people who cannot afford their anti-retroviral medications.  Republicans are the same people that spread the death panels red herring they claimed was embedded in Obama’s health care reform bill that would “pull the plug on grandma.”

The political calculus implied by this heartless proposal is that the people in the program are not Republicans and that helping them extend the quality and duration of their lives is unnecessary and too expensive.  Given the disproportionate numbers of HIV infections in black South Carolinians (8 times that of Whites), the racial animus behind this move is crystal clear. South Carolina has the eighth highest rate of new  HIV infections in the country and the Republicans in the South Carolina legislature would rather pretend that this isn’t a problem as HIV ravages the black community unchecked.

The Health Care Reform proposal making its way through congress will do nothing to stop state governments from making draconian choices like South Carolina.   I pray it will provide something commensurate in the way of relief for the victims of state sanctioned indifference.  Health Reform still leaves out 24 million people from coverage because health care, despite the histrionics of the socialist obsessed right-wing, is still not a right.

The gluttonous plutocracy that masquerades as American Democracy is alive and well. If we truly want the victory over our corporate overlords, we need to stop putting our trust in personalities and parties and stick with our principles.

19 thoughts on ““Victory”

  1. Elliot

    Yep…just like my main man Rev. Jeremiah Wright said. “The government lied. The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. The government lied.”
    🙂

    • Burroughston Broch

      Elliott, just how are the Democratic Federal Government and the Republican South Carolina Government forcing people of color to contract AIDS at a rate over 4 times that of the general population, 16 times that of Asians and almost 3 times that of Latinos?

    • Elliott,

      Let’s not get sidetracked into a pointless discussion.

      Burroughston,

      Blame the victim much? Escalating HIV infections are the result of abstinence only education. We need to be straight with young people. The broader point I am making is that no state government in the country has done something as reckless and extreme as pretending that there doesn’t need to be HIV education and prevention programs funded by the state. HIV TOUCHES EVERYONE. But because the problem is predominately black they have found a pretext with the economic downturn to eliminate these funds. It’s racist. Period. I am sorry that you can’t understand that.

  2. Burroughston Broch

    I understand very well what the effects of this legislation will be on those who have the disease. I have some friends who are long term survivors, and some who didn’t survive.

    I understand that, in many cases, those who have the disease did not knowingly engage in risky behavior. My heart goes out to them, and I don’t blame them for their disease because they are victims.

    I understand that most of those who have the disease, including some of my friends, knowingly engaged in risky behavior. My heart goes out to them but I will not ignore that they knowingly and deliberately sought pleasure and ignored the potential consequences. There are limits as to how far I will go to assist them, and I blame them for their disease for they are not victims. They did it to themselves with their eyes wide open.

    I don’t understand the attitude that everything that negatively impacts black folk is inherently racist. Period. This doesn’t help anyone except folks who want to complain and demand that someone else fix their problems.

    • Burroughtston,

      Anti-retroviral medication is astronomically expensive and out of reach for most people. We can thank the right wing that thinks Pharmaceutical manufacturers profits should be state subsidized while the people their medications are supposed to help suffer and die because they cannot afford the drugs. Americans pay the highest drug prices in the world while the same manufactures sell their drugs cheaper elsewhere. Cutting people off of life saving medication is unconscionable. Given the complexion of the problem in South Carolina, and the fact that they have eliminated every cent of state support for HIV education programs, this action by the Republican controlled South Carolina legislature is racist. Period.

  3. Burroughston Broch

    I agree to racist if we agree that it applies to all races. According to the Kaiser Foundation, in 2004 49% of AIDS cases were blacks, 28% were whites, 20% were latinos and 3% were other ethnic groups. The most discouraging part was that the % of cases in blacks doubled since 1989.

    Now that the Dems say that they’ve discarded the “deem and pass” tactic, what say you?

  4. Mark

    Skep, That is some good writing. I disagree with just about everything you opine on, but I love the style. Keep it coming.

    You could chill on our president a little bit, he’s getting things done.

  5. Elliot

    Burroughston Broch,

    Neither the Federal Government, nor the South Carolina Government are forcing people of color to contract HIV. I was just having a little fun with Obama’s “crazy uncle.”

    Hey Skep, is there any issue or problem that you don’t want solved by the State? Good lord, man. Has the idea of personal responsibility ever crossed your mind?

    • Josephus

      I think that you are a bit short sighted.

      I don’t see him wanting the state to answer all of the world’s problems but the state does exist for a reason, and if it can solve a problem in a more efficient and effective manner, then we are completely ignorant as a culture if we fanatically rebel against the idea of a government for the people, which is actually for the people.
      And this rebellious behavior against state aid is never a revolutionary act, but a reactionary act, usually due to some type of exposure to anti-“pinko commie” propaganda.
      Brainwashing if you will….

      What you are essentially saying is that people make decisions and the results of those decisions are solely the fault of the people and the inevitable results of the decision.
      Not always true.
      I would even say that the previous statement is categorically false a good bit of the time.

      Unfortunately, we live in a society where the the most wealthy class of people generally discount the idea of state supported services.
      Unless it is a service that benefits them.
      Like a multi-trillion dollar payout, or a police force to kick tenants out, or an army to invade a country to insure petro-resources for the next 100 plus years.

      Why not get rid of the fire department and privatize it similar to the early 1900’s?
      And the same goes for police protection.
      And the water system.

      Where does this Darwinian law of society that you embrace begin and where does it end?

      Have you always been self-sufficient?
      Really, even as a child?
      Have you really NEVER asked for help, or, god help, actually needed it?

      If we can afford to commit mass genocide against a population that has done absolutely not one thing to us, then we can afford to help out the less fortunate in this country.

      There is no shame in asking for help, needing help, or giving help.

      This “self-interested individual” philosophy that drives free market religious fanatics is no different than suicide bombers.
      No, actually it is worse.
      It destroys families and eats away at the humanity of all those who practice it.
      But it does so slowly and gradually, and when done, all hope is truly lost.

      I say that we take all of these strictly self-interested folks and round them all up and put them on a ship and then give them an island with all the provisions that they need and lots and lots of space, but we will make sure to give them all guns.
      They will have killed one another within the first month over ownership disputes, and we will have thinned the heard of all those who are unable to share with a friend.

      Selfish stupidity is THE biggest problem that we face today.

  6. I am playing devil’s advocate to some extent, because I think this legislation falls far short of what this country really needs. But it most assuredly was not penned by the health insurance sector, otherwise, they wouldn’t be spending tens of millions of dollars lobbying and advertising against it. They do not want the status quo disrupted one iota. I think they SHOULD be supporting this bill, because it would make them less of a target. But they’re too stupid and short sighted to see this. They believe that this could be the beginning of real reform. And their prophecy may be self-fulfilling if they continue to react so aggressively to what amounts to a mild hand slap.

  7. Josephus

    I wish that more people could see through Obama’s lies and deceit.
    But in all honesty, it is the lies and deceit of an entire political culture that I wish more people could see.
    Because this culture is attempting to take over all that is by this continual merging of the corporate and the state.
    Corporatism if you will, which, by the way, was Mussolini’s favorite description of true Fascism.
    (The two gold fasci on the wall behind either side of the speaker’s chair in the US senate make more sense now)

    I, along with several others, feel duped, hornswoggled and bamboozled.
    We showed up at the voting booth in droves and we put our hope into a message and a man, and the unfortunate reality is that neither has shown up at the White House.

    Something is simply not right.
    Either Obama is a cold-hearted snake in the grass with absolutely no sense of conscientiousness, empathy, nor culpability, or….

    Something wicked this way comes. Fa sho.
    And that wicked thing came, and it got the Obamas the minute that he was elected.

    Michelle Obama has completely flipped her script.
    What happened to HER?

    I thought that she was “finally being proud of her country” and stuff…

    And then for some reason her husband not only continues all of Bush’s policies, but he ESCALATES them and she remains silent?
    Do they drug her food every morning?

    It is a sad day to be an American.
    Black, White, Latino, Asian, Arab, Native, what have you…
    It is a bad day to be an American.

  8. lagesset

    To use a phrase, “this is a foot in the door”.

    But whose foot is in the door? I don’t think Obama and folks think they sold out, but have a foot in the door now. It’s not the end; but the beginning. Although this is exactly what conservatives are afraid of, and progressives too, but both for different causes.

  9. Josephus

    This is slippery slope that is presented as the only solution.
    The only reason that this is an acceptable solution is because the Health Care industry is really that bad.
    Forgive me, but I am lost on the logic of these guys.

    It is a step alright, but in what direction.
    Is this the “some action is better than none” argument.
    Because if it is, then it is a bad reason to take action.

    I am all for the state taking over some services, and that is a grand and beautiful idea, because the state can stay impartial when dealing with small groups of people.

    The state plays the best intermediary, but when the state begins to mandate things, then it is no longer an intermediary.
    It becomes the state’s will versus the people’s will.

    This bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, in my opinion.

    Offering what the bill offers is fine.
    Mandating that businesses who want to benefit from certain tax credits carry insurance, or they lose the credit, then fine.
    All a good idea.
    All of it. We need to have affordable health care for the less fortunate, but…

    Mandating, in lieu of penalties or possibly jail time, that citizens obtain insurace “if they can afford it” is a totally different ball game.
    This is slippery slope that could end up really, really bad.

    I hope that the American people do not let it turn out that way.

  10. I’m not surprised by the South Carolina GOP-controlled legislature’s actions over there, especially South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (R)’s final jab at those who oppose his policies, especially minorities including his rejection of Obama’s federal stimulus money and also funds for education.

  11. Skeptical Brotha, the candidates who are running against Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D),whose re-election campaign is getting more difficult each day are:

    Republicans:
    Chris Baker (R)
    Christy Mihos (R)-ran as an Independent in 2006.

    Independent:
    Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill (Indy)-switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Independent after realizing he wouldn’t win the Democratic primary against Patrick, who has the strong backing of President Obama and the DNC.

    Green Party candidate what’s her face.

    I believe the 2010 Massachusetts Governor’s race is going to mirror the 2006 Texas governor’s race:
    http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=8272

  12. Questions have arisen about whether President Obama is doing enough for African American communities. But there are also those who say that developing a plan for the progress of black Americans should not be the left in the hands of one person, even if he is the President.

    The “Black Agenda” is the topic of discussion on the PBS show Basic Black, which you can watch TONIGHT at 7:30 p.m EST LIVE at http://www.basicblack.org or on channel 2 in Boston. You can also participate in a live chat at basicblack.org starting at 7: 20 pm.

  13. Isabel, Public Policy Polling has released new polling on the Alabama governor’s race and the results are NOT good for whoever is the Democratic nominee by June 1st.

    Former State Senator Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope)-50%
    US Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL)-33%

    Businessman Tim James (R)-48%
    Davis (D)-35%

    Davis (D)-44%
    Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R)-40%

    Byrne (R)-43%
    Alabama State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks (D)-33%

    James (R)-38%
    Sparks (D)-34%

    Sparks (D)-40%
    Moore (R)-35%

    The Alabama Democrats better pray wingnut Moore becomes the Republican nominee in a likely runoff against Byrne, because if not, get used to seeing another Republican in the Alabama Governor’s Mansion on January 17, 2011.

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