Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tried It All But He Never Would

There's an old Jewish expression: When you have two Jews, you have three opinions. One reason converting to Judaism was so easy for me was that my being of two minds about a topic was actually a dinnertable-argument asset. It's no surprise then that this week's developments in the fight for sensible health care just about sent me round the fuckin' twist.

Via the Sideshow, a call to action I've been waiting for:
Yesterday rumors were flying and some folks are saying they’ve been confirmed. The Senate Finance Committee (SFC), in an effort to make health care into a bi-partisan effort, is considering a restriction on abortion funding with the passage of health care reform. This could mean not allowing a public health insurance plan to cover the cost of abortions for women. It is still unclear under what circumstances this provision would apply, but we want to make sure that you all are aware of what’s going on in the SFC!

The reason I was waiting for this was that I've been paying attention for the last thirty years, and I knew there was no way the forced birthers were going to let real women's health care get into that plan, and that the Democrats would immediately cave, because vaginas have cooties. Also via the Sideshow, a more or less incoherent piece at Buzzflash so filled with Newt Gingrich's specially conditioned assumption language that the title tells the reader everything she needs to know: Should We Sell Choice To Get Change? As a cantankerous little old lady, I feel obligated to deconstruct that question with a rolling pin. Whack! Individually, some Congresscritters may desire "change" - which is to say a national healthcare plan - but most have accepted bribes - which is to say campaign money and buckets of it - from insurance, pharmaceutical and for-profit hospital corporations. Our interests as citizens and the interests of our congressional representatives diverge, a big problem for us, because that brings us to the second assumption packed into the headline: that reproductive rights may not go down the tubes with this plan. They're going. I'll be blunt: this is going to sting. A comment from the Buzzflash piece by Jeremyg:
We should all be able to agree that we need to respect the rights of people who believe abortion is murder, and not force them to pay for it with their tax dollars. Isn't that what a tolerant society is all about? Respecting the rights of those we disagree with. Tolerance is better than any fundamentalism, even pro-choice fundamentalism. Let's respect everyone's choices.

That is hay-filled, corn-fed bullshit, right there. I actually don't give a good goddamn anymore about the opinions of people who think abortion is murder because - once again - I've been paying attention for the last thirty years and I know they don't respect my opinion that another person's medical procedures are none of their fucking business. Moreover, we as taxpayers do not get to decide how the money is spent. Our one decision: do we or do we not in good conscience pay our taxes as they have been assessed? If the answer is yes, write the check and shut the fuck up about how my tax dollars are spent. You know what, person of faith? I argued vehemently against the war, against privatizing government services, against the death penalty, against the war on drugs, welfare, unemployment, the aged, the disabled, the homeless and hungry, ridiculous and xenophobic border patrols, the national parks, the environment, endangered species, public transportation and fucking common decency, but does that really matter? No. Because while I believe we shouldn't spend a red cent on the Pentagon, my tender feelings don't figure into the budget priorities of the United States of America, and neither should yours. Sending kids to die for an imperialist adventure was murder each time we've done it, so plainly this money-murder relationship is not the dealbreaker you make it out to be. But that's not the worst of it. No, the worst is when middle-aged women of faith sell our daughters down the river, as Blue Gal does:
A fellow blogger had a fit last night via email, because that blogger heard a rumor that possibly abortions would not be covered under the Public Option. I. Just. Winced. All. The. Way. To. Bed. We don't HAVE a public option yet. It's not a sure thing. We have to wait for the insurance companies to fail before single payer is maybe possibly back on the table, but let's pour a heaping cup of the most divisive issue of the past fifty years into the pot right now, because it's so very critical.

It is critical, because abortion is often an economic decision. In real life, sometimes women choose not to bring a pregnancy to term because they can't afford it. If you think abortion is murder, that probably boggles your mind, which boggling has gummed up government for a handful of decades, especially since our government quit paying for abortions in the seventies. Insurance companies, as Blue Gal reminds us, sometimes pay for abortions. But what happens if we develop a national healthcare plan that doesn't cover them? Bet your shoes that insurance companies will stop covering anything the national plan doesn't. Once abortions are off the table, contraception is next, and mental health coverage, and dental, until there's nothing left in that plan.

The place to draw the line then is at abortion. It must stay in the plan or we return to the time pre-Roe, with even less than we have now. Back-alley abortions and deaths are only the beginning of what awaits us.

The second thing driving me out of my mind is that the administration doesn't seem to know how to haggle. There are two ways to strike a bargain:

1. You start bargaining from a position beyond your wildest dreams. For instance, if you're going clean Ted's gutters and you want $100 for the job and Ted is going to bargain with you, you start by telling Ted you'll do it for $200. If Ted says, "No, dude, here's ten bucks and a used bowling ball," you know that Ted is not serious about wanting his gutters cleaned. Note that Republicans offer Democrats used bowling balls all the time. They are not serious about bargaining. If however you ask $200 and Ted says $45, you may get some back and forth that results in a price close to what you want.

Where healthcare is concerned, Congress fucked this up badly by starting with a stupidly modest plan that will make only the healthcare industry happy, because it will do nothing for the common good. Our representatives should have started with plans well beyond single-payer, knowing how legislation is enacted. That they didn't tells us that we cannot hope for anything.

2. The Chicago way, as described by Sean Connery in The Untouchables:
Malone: You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I'm saying is, what are you prepared to do?
Ness: Anything within the law.
Malone: And *then* what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way. Because they're not gonna give up the fight, until one of you is dead.
Ness: I want to get Capone! I don't know how to do it.
Malone: You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That's* the *Chicago* way! And that's how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I'm offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?
Ness: I have sworn to capture this man with all legal powers at my disposal and I will do so.
Malone: Well, the Lord hates a coward.
[jabs Ness with his hand, and Ness shakes it]
Malone: Do you know what a blood oath is, Mr. Ness?
Ness: Yes.
Malone: Good, 'cause you just took one.

Scrap the plan as it exists. Start from a position beyond your wildest dreams and make it politically expensive for opponents of a good plan for the common good.

We won't see either a decent plan or the survival of reproductive rights as we know them for ordinary American women if the administration doesn't send a few Republicans to the political career morgue very soon.

Sorry about the fucking bruises.



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