Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Radicalized citizens

I've been putting off writing this post for a while, hoping that things would settle down, that we could resume our regularly scheduled lives without waiting for the next ugly thing to happen. Or maybe I've just been in denial about the whole thing, refusing to accept that my fellow citizens could truly resort to these kinds of behaviors.

I've gone back a bit in time, thanks to the internet, to refresh my memory about the period of time - late 60s through mid-70s or so - when the radicals in this country were on the left. Many - maybe most - were so far left that even those of us who identified ourselves as Democrats couldn't relate to them. I didn't know anyone who identified with the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Black Panthers, or Students for a Democratic Society, but I lived a rather sheltered life in the South, free from most of the frustrations and concerns these organizations sought to address. In looking back, I suppose I felt that they really didn't have anything to do with me, and it seemed unlikely that my life would be impacted by them. I also lived near a US Air Force base and most of the people I associated with supported the military - and, by extension - the war in Vietnam.

We were also, during these years, still numbed by the several assassinations that had been carried out against liberal figures - both Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X - and I suppose felt that it couldn't get much worse.

It's been a long time since I've been as concerned as I am today about the tenor of the conversation in this country.

It frightens me that elected officials are receiving death threats because of their votes or because of the color of their skin. It deeply disturbs me - as it should any person of goodwill - that there are those who would attempt to influence the votes of our officials through threats and intimidation. I believe strongly that, in a free society, we have not only the right but the obligation to make our feelings known to our representatives. We can make those statements through our votes, our letters, our phone calls, our donations; when we make them by threatening the well-being of others then we are perilously close to becoming that which we despise.

When I see and hear the hatred and anger that is being expressed by so many on the Right; when I see elected representatives encouraging and providing venues for this anger; when I hear talk radio personalities and public figures using words like "target," "crosshairs," "reload," in their rhetoric; and when explicit threats are left on voice mails and the addresses of family members are published on the internet; when I hear words comparing our President to the most hated and reviled man of the 20th century; all of these things make me fearful for our nation and for my safety and that of my loved ones.

As a free society we must recognize the responsibility that is inherent in that freedom. We must remember that our right to free speech does not extend to the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater, or to slander or libel others by our words. And though most of the language that is spoken in these rallies and on television and radio can claim free speech protection, there is still a responsibility to be aware of the influence we may have on those whose claim to mental stability is tenuous at best.

I invite you to view the following two clips for a sense of what is going on. For those of you who do not subscribe to my political views, I apologize that they are from a liberal television show - Rachel Maddow on MSNBC - and ask that you not let that influence your perception of what is going on. I have seen most of these clips on a variety of venues (though not on FOX News, since I don't watch it), and am satisfied that they are representative of what is happening today in our land. They are long, but I think they are well worth the time spent.

Finding the origin of political violence

Right wing threats of violence intensify

We truly must find a way to come together in this country. We are dangerously close to losing what so many have given their lives to secure.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The haves and have-nots in the wealthiest country in the world

I can accept - and even celebrate - that there are people of goodwill on both sides of the debate regarding the newly signed health care law. One of the things that has always made this country great is our ability to publicly disagree with each other, and bow to the desires of the majority, even while working to adopt our own desired policies.

So although I may get into a spirited discussion with family and/or friends over the desirability of another government-mandated program, I don't ever place the value of my position above the value of the relationship. I'm a relationship-oriented person. Always have been, always will be.

What I'm not okay with is fear-mongering, name-calling, race-baiting, demagoguery, and outlandish lies to try to influence the citizenry. I'm also not okay with elected officials leading, promoting, spreading, and otherwise encouraging other members of their party to stand in united opposition to an elected official - in this case, the President of the United States. When three members of the Republican House stood on the balcony of the Capitol Building on Saturday, holding three signs saying "Kill" "The" "Bill" I was appalled at their unprofessionalism in playing to a crowd of dissidents. There used to be a standard of behavior that was not only expected but was actually exhibited in Washington, DC. Today it's less like "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and more like Larry, Curly, and Moe.

I'm tired of the lies about "Death Panels," increased costs and decreased coverage for Medicare recipients, and the lockstep behavior of the Republicans in office. Although some Republicans point to the "Nay" votes cast by some Democratic Congresspersons as a lack of support by the full Party, my opinion is that it simply points out that Democrats are able to think for themselves and don't have to all march to the same tune as is the case in the Republican Party.

I was also appalled at the name-calling and threatening signs on display by the "Tea Party" movement on Saturday. As one commenter said, the Tea Party slogan seems to be "Do what we want and nobody gets hurt." I do understand that not everyone in the Tea Party movement or the Republican Party shares these sentiments, but my mother always told me that you're known by the company you keep. Most appalling of all are the people who take this kind of behavior to heart and feel inspired to either act or call upon others to act to rid the nation of a perceived threat.

I must confess, too, that I really don't understand the reluctance among some people to have access to affordable health insurance. When my children were small, good health insurance was a definite plus when you looked for a job. And, for some, it still is. My youngest son and his wife have a health insurance shortage because of his job loss late last year. One of the things he looks for in interviews is what health insurance is offered.

When I was a young wife and mother, we had excellent company-paid health insurance. Yes, fully paid premiums and good benefits. Slowly, over the years, the company began to transfer some of the cost of the premiums to the employees, but it still wasn't an onerous amount and we still had good benefits. It was not the cost of doing business that caused these premiums to increase - since this happened during the corporate-friendly Reagan years - but the sharp increase in premiums, which were also a consequence of the Big Business worship of the Reagan years. Eventually, the company - Eastern Airlines - folded, and health insurance was the least of our worries.

As I grow older and become more and more aware of the fragility of life, I do find it hard to understand why so many people don't think insurance is helpful to them. Another of my sons and his wife do not wish to have any but catastrophic coverage, backed up by a Health Savings Plan for routine medical care. I kind of understand their thinking (and I don't think there's anything in the new law that prohibits this), but I also know that without this law that prohibits lifetime limits and pre-existing conditions clauses, even their choice of coverage wouldn't be practical. With medical costs at an all-time high (and climbing) policy limits would be quickly reached. And with insurance companies denying care to newborns for "pre-existing conditions," a seriously ill infant could mean bankruptcy for the family.

Yes, I know there are those who decry this new law as an "entitlement," and they vigorously oppose it on those grounds. But, if, as some claim, we are a "Christian nation," then caring for others should be second nature. Donating to charity instead of paying taxes may sound like a good idea, but charities have no way to reach the vast majority of those who need help, and can't help all those who ask for it. And those who would choose to donate couldn't - or wouldn't - be able to provide for all those in need.

So instead of decrying our government's attempts to help those who cannot - for whatever reason - help themselves, let us reclaim the compassionate and generous spirit for which we were once known. This new law will have absolutely no effect on my health care - I neither gain nor lose - but I know many for whom it will be a lifeline and I believe that's what America should celebrate.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hypocrisy, thy name is "Republican"

So much has been going on lately in Washington politics that I've been immobilized by indecision about what to say.

In President Obama's State of the Union Address on January 27, the political divide was embarrassingly obvious. Nearly every point the President made that was not supportive of big business or the banking industry was met with stony-faced silence by the Republican side of Congress. Almost without exception, Republicans showed their dislike for this President by refusing to applaud any of the measures accomplished this past year, including reducing taxes for the majority of Americans and putting a freeze on Federal spending beginning in 2011. The freeze actually elicited snickers of amusement from the Right, who apparently don't understand that budgets are correctly set for a year at a time, and that it would be unconscionable - if not impossible - to impose a freeze on a current year's budget.

Then, just two days later, Obama was an invited guest to the Republican retreat, where he gave a speech and then took questions and gave answers, spending almost two hours with the Republican legislators. Several of the questions - as the President correctly noted - were thinly veiled "talking points," laden with untruths, half-truths, and mis-characterizations of current issues. Pres. Obama wasn't shy about calling these questioners out, particularly Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas. He acknowledged that partisanship exists on both sides of the aisle, but also pointed out that Democrats made several concessions, especially in the health care bill, in an attempt to gain bipartisan support. He also chided the Republicans for taking such rigid positions on issues that they leave themselves no room to negotiate. As he said, bipartisanship means that neither side gets everything it wants; each side has to participate in give-and-take. And he also told them that many of the ideas they proposed did not pass the test of feasibility from any credible budgetary standpoint. Interestingly, the President was so effective in his refutation of Republican leaders that FOX News stopped broadcasting the event some 20 minutes before it ended.

Additionally, the Senate recently passed a "Pay-Go" bill that was originally supported by Senators Snowe (ME), Collins (ME), McCain (AZ), and Voinovich (OH). The bill was passed despite "no" votes from each of these Senators, when, in fact, each of them voted for this same bill in 2004-2005.

As if all of this isn't enough, President Obama has invited Republican leaders to the White House for an open and televised discussion about the health care bill. Despite repeated calls by these same Republican leaders for the President to include them in televised discussions, they are now backpedaling on both their participation in talks, and on the public aspect of those talks.

And so it would seem that the Republican Party is not just the "Party of No," but increasingly the "Party Against Anything Obama Supports." There are too many sitting in Washington, DC at our expense who do not have our best interests at heart. They care only for the money in their campaign coffers and will work hard to defeat the will of the people as long as they can keep the goodwill of Big Business, Big Banks, and Big Insurance.

Quite frankly, the Democrats need to grow a pair and stop letting the minority party run roughshod over the principles that this country was founded upon. If they want to filibuster, I say let them do it. Let's have nonstop, televised coverage of Republican Senators reading from the telephone book and show the taxpayers what their elected officials think of Democratic Process.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Unrequited love? Say it ain't so!

Dear Mr. President,

I fell in love with you almost two years ago. I'd heard about you, of course, although I missed your speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. I had heard how brilliant it was, how inspired and enthusiastic, and of course heard all the predictions that you would be a Presidential contender "some day." But you didn't really enter my conscious space until 2008, when I began to listen and read, when I began to look for someone who could lead this great nation out of the mess George W. Bush and his friends had created.

I looked at John Edwards.

I looked at Hillary Clinton.

I looked at Barack Obama - and I liked what I saw and what I heard. I began to fall in love. Oh, I'm almost old enough to be your mother, so it wasn't a romantic love; but it was love nonetheless. You had a fire in your belly. You had people around you who admired you, trusted you, spoke well of you. You had a youthfulness and energy that appealed to me and lots of others like me. I came out of my self-imposed exile from all things political to make phone calls, knock on doors, and donate a few dollars on your behalf. I had conversations about you and your campaign, and told many people - and it was true - that I hadn't felt this inspired by a candidate since John Kennedy ran in 1960.

Your history as a community organizer appealed to me. I used to work extensively with volunteers and know the special kind of work that is and how difficult it can be. I liked it that you spoke of bringing people together across political lines. I, too, am a conciliator and prefer it to bluster, bribery, threats, or force. And, yes, as a woman who traces her ancestry through generations of white Southerners, I was thrilled that you are African-American. So it's pretty easy to see why I fell in love.

Today, I confess, I'm feeling some strain in our relationship.

As I've watched the past few months (and defended you over and over, even while writing several emails to ask you why you don't seem to care anymore), you've put on your cloak of Harvard-professordom and been very lawyerly and professional-appearing when you've spoken to the American people. You've ignored the lies, the insults, the outright flaming from the Republicans. Now, I don't expect you to be someone other than who you are, but, dammit, Mr. President, I know the fire is there and you're banking it instead of allowing it to burn and purify!

I remember one of your televised rallies during the campaign. You and the folks attending the rally started a little back-and-forth, saying "Yes, we can!" You said it, they said it, you said it again, they said it again... you were getting into a rhythm, I was getting ready to channel my long-dead granny and shout "Amen!" Then you appeared to realize what you were doing - concerned that it would seem too "ethnic," maybe - and you cut it off. But for a minute there, I saw the fire.

Mr. President, don't you ever want to tell Dick Cheney or Rush Limbaugh to just shut the fuck up? I mean, really, how much of their crap can you take without letting them have it with both barrels? Tell them to get their fat asses out of the way and let the Democrats do the work We, the People elected you to do.

I can even imagine that sometimes - not often, I know - but sometimes your mother-in-law goes out in the evening and Michelle decides to turn in early and says something like, "Barry, keep an ear out for the girls. Make sure they get their baths and get to bed on time." And there you are, maybe reading up on tomorrow's news and all of a sudden you hear, "Give me that! It's mine!" "Make me!" Now I know you're a good daddy, but sometimes don't you just want to go in their room and lay it on the line? Say, "Cut it out, you two. You've been raised better than this, and I'm tired of the fighting." (I know they fight because I have a  sister, so don't pretend they don't.) And I know you're human and you get tired of the same battles between the girls, and having to say the same thing over and over. I know that, just as I know that sometimes you have to take a tough stance with them for their own good. You can't just let them get away with stuff because you're a nice guy and don't want to upset them. You have a responsibility to them, to raise them to take their places as responsible people.So sometimes, even though you're a nice, understanding kind of guy - one who really doesn't like confrontation - you have to do the things you don't really like to do. In the name of the greater good.

Well, Mr. President, We the People need to see that side of you, and we need it pretty darn fast. We believed your dual messages of Hope and Change, we even believed you wanted us to prod you when you got off course. But somehow our prodding isn't getting through. Have the people around you managed to isolate you from what we're saying? Or - and I hope this isn't it - were you just leading us on? Were we just a hot date for you, and now that you have what you wanted you're ignoring our messages and refusing our phone calls? Because, honestly, Mr. President, it kinda seems that way right now, and we're not going to be strung along until you need us again. Yesterday's loss in Massachusetts - Ted Kennedy's seat, for Pete's sake! - well, that was our daddy collaring you and asking what your intentions are, exactly. Should we go ahead with the plans for 2012 or start looking now for someone who really cares and won't lead us down that Primrose Path?

Until I see what direction this relationship is going to take, I need to take a little time to decide if it's worth pursuing. Let me know real soon, okay?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How can these people look in the mirror?

A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti yesterday. I've only been in one earthquake and it was tiny. Really tiny. The papers on my bulletin board swung back and forth for about 12 seconds - quite possibly the longest 12 seconds of my life. Well, not really, because I didn't realize what was going on for about 5 seconds. But it was scary. The planet is supposed to be stable, after all; that's why we refer to it as terra firma, solid ground. We know, of course, that it's not as solid as was once thought, but we depend on it for the foundations of our homes and businesses, and the roots of our plants. When it moves under our feet, it's scary and disconcerting.

The other major natural catastrophe I've experienced was Hurricane Andrew in Miami in 1992. That was far more devastating than my tiny earthquake. We lost most of our roof and a goodly portion of the interior of our home, along with many thousands of dollars of earthly possessions. Some people lost more than that. It, too, was disconcerting to see what had been considered stable - houses, trees, fences, a US Air Force base - reduced to rubble. Disconcerting is really too mild a word; it was life-changing. It causes a re-evaluation of what's important. That often comes later, though, after the shock of seeing the incredible damage that nature can inflict, and after exhausting and terrifying hours trying to hold your child and yourself in safety, and after more exhausting hours of clearing lumber and timber and shingles and carpet and drywall from your yard and your home. Then you give thanks for your life and the lives of those who love.

Neither of these personal experiences, as profound as they were to me at the time, can hold a candle to what we are hearing about Haiti. Huge buildings - the Presidential Palace, at least one hospital, and God only knows what else - are gone. As are perhaps tens- or hundreds-of-thousands lives. There's no way to prepare for an earthquake, since there's no warning, and precious little you could do about it even if you knew it was going to happen. And Haiti is said to be the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. So here are people who already have nothing and now they have less. They are frightened with horrible aftershocks, many of them earthquake caliber themselves. They are injured, dying, grieving, holding the bodies of those they love, trying to mitigate serious injury in the midst of serious uncertainty and the ever-present fear. They are without power, without running water, without sewers. They will run the risk of infection, of dying from injuries that shouldn't be fatal, and of those who would take advantage of their tragedy.

From across this nation, help is arriving: Doctors Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, Oxfam, The American Red Cross, and my own Episcopal Church through the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund, are just a few among the many who are sending money, people, supplies, and whatever else is needed in response to this devastation. The goodness of people around the world is being tapped in response to human need and in a spirit of our common humanity.

Into this outpouring of generosity and concern step two men who call themselves "patriots" and/or "Christian."

The first, Pat Robertson, is a man who has spent the past 40 years or so predicting the end of the world and pronouncing that "God did it because..." in the event of both natural and man-made disasters. He linked Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 attacks to the United States' "ungodliness," blaming abortion rights and homosexuals along the way. Now he proclaims that God is punishing Haiti for entering into a "pact with the Devil" sometime in the 19th Century. Well, I'm sorry, Pat, but the God I know doesn't work that way. If he did, why do you suppose he hasn't just wiped North Korea, China, and a host of other countries engaged in human suffering right off the planet? Is your God only interested in the US? Oh, perhaps he just realized this whole "pact with the devil" thing; I guess that explains it. God's been so busy punishing the USA that Haiti somehow fell through the cracks until now. Or maybe Robertson's just a sick man who takes delight in the suffering of others if it helps to advance his agenda and increase his donations. Unfortunately, there are too many in this nation who actually believe him and will echo his pronouncements.

Next into the fray steps Rush Limbaugh, the advance man for the Republican Party, telling his listeners that "...we've already donated to Haiti. It's called the US Income Tax." Of course, you can't really expect anything else from a man who has no kindness in his heart for the citizens of his own country. A man whose most common response to those who live in poverty, are losing their homes, can't afford health insurance is "get a job." Rush has his, so the rest of the world can just kiss his ass. And a lot of people do. Far too many of them are in the very boat that he's shooting at; but somehow just listening to Rush makes them feel that they, too, can someday have a big house in Florida and take winter vacations in Hawaii. In the meantime, they will subscribe to his narrow-minded and bigoted view of the world.

And, so, here we are: the wealthiest nation in the world. Even our very poor have more than most of those who live in Haiti. We have no real concept of the abject poverty that already exists there, nor can we fully understand what they are now experiencing. Even those in this nation who have experienced major earthquakes could rely on the largesse of our government, on the outpouring of aid from our citizens. Perhaps only those who were manhandled in the aftermath of Katrina could have a glimmer of understanding, but even they were shored up by the outrage of their fellow citizens. Haitians have nothing. And now they have even less.

We have Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

When both feet are in your mouth - and you don't notice it

It's been a eventful few weeks in politics.

First, we had the news that Rush Limbaugh was rushed to the hospital while on Christmas holiday in Hawaii with chest pains. As one radio talk show host put it, he apparently wasn't yet "shovel ready," so he made several pronouncements on health care as soon as he got to a microphone.

After directing anyone who has chest pain, "Don't mess with it. Any time you have heart pain or chest pain and you have no idea what it is, and it's something you've never experienced before, turn it over to professionals right off the bat. Don't tough it out. Don't try to make it go away on your own, because it's not worth the risk." Of course, Mr. Limbaugh has excellent health insurance and doesn't have to worry about unpaid hospital bills, or if he'll be able to feed his kids if he misses a few days from work, but, hey, Rush says, just do it! After all, if you don't have health insurance, it's probably your fault anyway.

Next, he was lavish with his praise for the care he received: "Again, the treatment I received here was the best that the world has to offer. Based on what happened to me here, I don't think there's one thing wrong with the American health care system. It's working just fine, just dandy. And I got nothing special. I got no special treatment other than what anybody else that would have called 911 would have gotten had they been brought in with the same kinds of symptoms. The care was extensive, it was personal, and it was complete, and it was very confidence-inspiring. And I never once -- once I got here -- had any fears, because of the manner in which I was treated." He failed to acknowledge the embarassing fact that Hawaii's health care is excruciatingly similar to the "socialized" system he's been excoriating the Democrats for trying to bring about for the entire nation. As noted by Paul Abrams on the Huffington Post (and many others), Hawaii has among the lowest costs for health care in the nation, even though almost every other consumer item costs more. Why? Because it's socialized. And it doesn't affect the quality of care - at least according to Rush's experience.

Why, then, does he rail so loudly and annoyingly against the same high-quality, low-cost care for those who don't have his monetary and societal privilege? Why does he encourage people by lying about what a universal system of care for the nation would mean to all of us - not just the fortunate few? And - this is the important piece - why in hell do so many people believe him?

Of course, Rush's brush with socialized medicine wasn't the only big news over the holidays. We also had the Christmas Day "underpants bomber" who not only failed to blow up a plane (thanks to the passengers), but also failed to become a martyr - although he may well have consigned himself to a particular kind of hell in the afterlife: 72 virgins and he won't have the stuff to enjoy them with.

It didn't take long for Dick Cheney and other Republicans to criticize Pres. Obama for not rushing immediately to the microphones to make a statement. Yes, he waited three days; that's still three days less than it took Pres. Bush to comment on the shoe bomber, but since Rudy Giuliani thinks the shoe bomber and 9/11happened before Bush became President, they apparently don't count.

Nor does Liz Cheney seem to ascribe any terrorism attacks to the Bush Administration. Instead, channeling her father, she chastises Pres. Obama for not going on television sooner to address the attempted Christmas Day bombing attempt. I think both former Vice Pres. Cheney and his daughter are causing more harm to our national security by their continual attempts to characterize Obama as soft on terror. As the junior Senator from Minnesota stated recently, “We are entitled to our own opinions; we are not entitled to our own facts."

Although Sen. Franken was referring to the health care bill currently before Congress, his words certainly ring true in the case of the recent mischaracterizations regarding Obama's policies on terrorism.

The truly unfortunate aspect of all these incidents, however, is that so many on the far Right are accepting the lies and distortions by Limbaugh, Cheney, and Cheney, et al, as the unvarnished truth. In all my years following political arguments, I've never seen so many who are so willing to ignore the truth just to further their own agendas.

This doesn't bode well for the future of our nation, as we move more and more toward grandstanding and historical revision by people who hold the populace in such low regard.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The good, the bad, and the ugly

The Good

On Christmas Eve, the US Senate finally passed its version of health care reform. Although it falls far short of what was promised during the 2008 Presidential campaign, and took way too long to hammer out, it is at least a start toward breaking the stranglehold the insurance companies have on the people of this nation.

I know that many people don't like the idea of the government being in the business of health care; to some, it raises the specter of "socialized medicine," and that makes them uncomfortable. My own feelings are that there are some things that the government should be in charge of - those things that affect the health, welfare, safety, and general well-being of the citizens of this nation. As I've said in earlier posts, we have no problem with the "socialization" of our schools, fire and police departments, federal highways, and a host of other services upon which we rely on a daily basis, so I'm not sure why something as important as health should be treated differently. In many ways, this creates a nation of "haves" and "have-nots" - an undesirable situation in a so-called "classless" society.

Be that as it may, and it is a discussion I'll save for another time, we have a start toward providing health care for everyone.

The Bad

The House and Senate health care bills must now be reconciled. Unfortunately, there are a number of issues that could be deal-breakers, and which could end up causing the whole bill to be scrapped.

First, the lack of a public option is a real loss of credibility for the Democratic majority, as well as a financial boon for the insurance industry. There will be no real incentive for them to keep costs down, and many will find ways to increase premiums between now and whenever the controls go into effect. (If you doubt this, just look at what the credit card companies have done over the past several months.)

Next, the issue of US citizens being prevented from buying drugs outside the country provides little incentive for Big Pharma to control prices. I'm always bemused by those who scream about the "unsafe" drugs we might get from Canada or Mexico. Until I hear about our neighbors to the North and South dropping like flies from unsafe drugs, it's going to take more than an hysterical lobbyist to convince me! And the argument that it will cripple R&D and provide little incentive for new investigative drugs is also unconvincing. People will always want to research and invent; it's in our blood. And the recognition that comes from the development of wonder drugs - penicillin, aspirin, etc. - will always translate into more research money from the government and other entities. Besides, if the pharmaceutical companies would cut out the stupid and unnecessary advertising, they'd have plenty left for Research and Development!

Finally, the abortion question looms large over reconciliation. I've discussed on several occasions my feelings about abortion, and what it all boils down to is that I don't have the right to choose for someone else - and neither does anyone else! If government assistance with health insurance precludes any kind of abortion coverage, then government is effectively denying coverage for a legal procedure. I think if we linked this ban to a ban on coverage for erectile dysfunction we'd see a swift reversal among many of our Members of Congress!

The Ugly

Ah, there is so much from which to choose! Should we start with Joe Lieberman, the man who held the Democrats in the Senate hostage because he got his feelings hurt? Or should we begin with Mitch McConnell, who vowed to fight until Hell froze over - which apparently happened earlier on Christmas Eve than he expected. Or perhaps he was afraid he wouldn't make it home for Christmas due to the bad weather if he held out till late night on the 24th.

Uglier yet is the Republican attempt to stir up the people against the bill because - according to them - it's such a bad bill, putting more money in the pockets of the insurance companies and taking from Medicare. Let's see, those would be the insurance company pockets that you're in, right Senator McConnell? Oh, and would that be the same Medicare that Republicans have tried to gut since they first tried to prevent its passage in 1965? How odd that you care so much now. And just why is this bill not doing all that it should do? Is it because you and your cohorts - including Lieberman - worked so hard to gut it, without offering anything worthwhile in its place?

Ugliest of all, however, is your disdain for the will of the people. Poll after poll shows that the people of this country want real and meaningful health care reform. Reform that includes a public option. Reform that includes expanded Medicare. Reform that doesn't increase the wealth of the few on the sickbeds of the many. And yet 41 Senators worked hard to prevent that kind of meaningful reform, despite what the people have said time after time. Forty-one Senators felt perfectly free to ignore the desires of the electorate because only these Senators know what really matters.

Money matters. Big Pharma matters. Big Insurance matters. We, the people, do not.