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Steve Ahlquist is an award-winning journalist, writer, artist and founding member of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism, courage and action. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member.

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"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” - Elie Weisel

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu

"There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame." - David Brooks

13 responses to “Hundreds join congressional delegation to defend Obamacare”

  1. Johnnie

    Twenty-million people are still without health care under the ACA, which is basically a lucrative giveaway to the insurance companies. As long as you are not one of these 20 million people who are uninsured don’t worry about it, you’ve got yours.

    Why are the Democrats mobilizing and rallying their social base and supporters now, because they are concerned about our health care? Or is it because they are using this issue to rebuild a seriously exposed and discredited Democratic party? Why are they not marshaling their forces for a single payer health care plan— Medicare for all? Do you think they will be organizing and rallying when the neanderthals come after “entitlements” like Social Security, medicaid and Medicare? The truth is that they all are frightened to death of an aroused American people. You will never see a political stunt or pandering like the sit-in on the house floor for gun control when they come after Social Security and further cuts in social programs— which they will. It will all be kept under wraps and hardly deemed newsworthy as they quietly “reform” and whittle away at The New Deal— as they have been, while they plan and fund new wars.

    Trump is an a**hole, but I can’t help but laugh when he calls out the puffed-up, sleazy, posturing and duplicitous a**holes in the corporate press — who work very hard at covering up the real news and maintaining the status quo. Even Trump sometimes tells the truth.

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    1. cailin rua

      “Trump is an a**hole, but I can’t help but laugh when he calls out the puffed-up, sleazy, posturing and duplicitous a**holes in the corporate press — who work very hard at covering up the real news and maintaining the status quo. Even Trump sometimes tells the truth.”

      this.

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      1. cailin rua

        “” And the idea is to follow the polls, rather than change them. And this is a big difference between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans try to change the polls, whereas Democrats try to follow the polls.”

        http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/dont-think-rampaging-elephant-linguist-george-lakoff-explains-how-democrats-helped

        Anyone read that hack job “arbiter of the true and false” NYT did on their front page about the SNAP program? Das liberal . . . neo . . .

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        1. cailin rua

          I just wanted to say that Lakoff made a few points in that interview that were relevant, one of the most relevant was his criticism of the “cuz Trump” strategy but I have problems with his claim about “embodied cognition” being “science”. I do not believe it is considered testable and falsifiable, even if he makes good points on the limits of rationality.

          Another thing I disagree with Lakoff on is when he speaks about NGO’s and Foundations, including faith based non profits. I think the “non profits” will be crying crocodile tears about all the cut backs to elected government. For them the coming situation will be like Br’er Rabbit’s briar patch. When Reagan left the void he did with his “entitlement” cuts it formed the vacuum the non profits filled, which allowed them to grow exponentially and gave them the enormous power over public policy they have now. The R I Foundation is the perfect expample – worth just a million in 1977 to almost a billion in the forty years since – an endowment that is 1000 more than it was before Reagan and what Clinton did to people on welfare.

          What the foundations do, in effect, is put public services into private hands and they’re accountable to no one but their wealthy funders. The ACA was another P3/privately run scheme. What’s coming will be worse but I don’t think any one of our Congressional delegation has much more integrity than neo liberal Corey Booker who just voted the way he did against Bernie Sander’s attempt to make pharmaceuticals more affordable. The joker is wild, I’m afraid.

          I understand what Lakoff says about framing and marketing but when it comes to the Democrats they let the Republicans set the agenda and then attempt to mitigate things, slightly altering what the Republicans want but giving them most of it. The Northeast Democrats are so beholden to big finance and the defense industry they have no will to upset the status quo. A national health plan that was a giveaway to private insurance companies was rife with problems and Lakoff is correct about the issues not being framed correctly but everyone knows the insurance companies wrote the law.

          I don’t agree with what Lakoff says about marketing insofar as it becomes something like branding and brand recognition. Branding is about delivering empty promises under a slick veneer. If the Democrats really had any substance they wouldn’t have to resort to the kind of crassness that got barely 1/4 of eligible voters to vote for the person who “won”.

          I don’t even think the people who write at this blog are really “progressive” or even “Democrat”. Most of the policy promoted here seems inspired by Michael Bloomberg. He’s an opportunist – a pragmatic neoliberal and another Republican who won’t call himself that anymore. I don’t think that’s very honest.

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  2. Barry Schiller

    Johnnie, what to you hope to accomplish by attacking the Democratic establishment even when they do the right thing as in this case? Strengthen the GOP? Demoralize people? Keeps them from going to actual rallies? Let the GOP attack health care without effective protest?
    Sure the ACA is not perfect, medicare for all would be better, but medicare for none is another possibility Ryan and Co are talking about. And the ACA covers birth control, pre-existing conditions, young adults, preventive services, counseling… which of those are you against? All are at risk if repeal is not countered.
    I was one of those on the outside at the rally, coming too late to get in but was pleased Senators Reed and Whitehouse came out to address the outside crowd. They recognized the ACA was not perfect and desired to work to improve it rather than just repeal it which is all the Republicans have offered so far. I’ll also note they were NOT one of the Democrats to vote against Sanders’ bill to allow import of cheaper medicines and allow negotiating lower drug prices for consumers.
    Relentlessly undermining Democrats (and Clinton) and/or not giving them credit when doing the right thing has only brought worse results. One would think we would learned this by now. Read golocal comments on this, or Raimondo’s tuition plan to see what the right-wing alternative is.

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    1. Johnnie

      @ Barry: What I hope to accomplish is exposing the cynical ploys and manipulations of elected representatives. There is nothing demoralizing about understanding the caretakers and gatekeepers of a system of capitalism-imperialism and the role they play in this whole set up —in fact it is empowering. A 16 trillion-dollar economy and the USA is just too impoverished to afford health care for all its citizens. It must be the nasty Republicans, they are always at fault. They are the ones behind the wars, tax cuts and trillion-dollar bailouts — certainly not the Democrats.

      The wealthiest and “greatest democracy” in the world and the only industrialized country without a national health care system for all its people and you are suggesting that we should be thankful and rally behind them for throwing us these crumbs. Tell them to bend over so we can kiss their ass for being so generous to those who have built this country.

      Barry is a bourgeois apologist, who would be singing an entirely different tune if he was sick and one of the 20 million without health care. But he can’t see that. Should the 20 million uninsured join the Democratic rally? Should they shut up lest they demoralize people and strengthen the GOP? Do you see how silly you sound to those who are without healthcare?

      Why we don’t have a single-payer system is because they are able to divide us. Those who have health care do not think about or fight for those that don’t. And reactionaries like you Barry, who perceive themselves as progressives, actually hold back the struggle by telling us to get behind and settle for reforms which make the middle class more comfortable. They appeal to the middle class and tell them in effect that 20 million without health care is better than 40 million. And think of all those middle class college students whose parents can now keep them on their medical insurance. Barry is typical of the petit bourgeois, they want to reform the system only in ways which benefit them, and align with their class interests, outlook and shopkeeper mentality.

      If this sounds harsh and perceived as some sort of attack, it is not meant to be. Opinions have a material basis and they do not come from nowhere. They are shaped by the reality of your life circumstances and living conditions and where you are situated in the process of production and accumulation. You need to understand this in order to change it.

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      1. PinkHatLib

        “And reactionaries like you Barry, who perceive themselves as progressives, actually hold back the struggle by telling us to get behind and settle for reforms which make the middle class more comfortable.”

        ACA subsidies are provided only to those living below 400% of the federal poverty level, the bottom 29% of Americans ranked by income. That’s hardly reforms designed to make middle class Americans more comfortable, although I’ll grant you that Barry mentions the parts of the law most relevant to the middle class. But let’s be honest that the vast majority of those enrolled are receiving subsidies. Interesting that you have to misrepresent the law in order to oppose it.

        http://kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/how-much-financial-assistance-are-people-receiving-under-the-affordable-care-act/
        Nationwide, an estimated 83% of marketplace enrollees qualify for subsidies, ranging from 13% in the District of Columbia and 35% in Hawaii to 92% in Wyoming and 93% in Mississippi. (Members of Congress and some of their staff obtain coverage through the DC exchange and are not eligible for subsidies, which is why the percentage there is so much lower than in the rest of the country.)

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        1. Johnnie

          @Pinkhatlib “ACA subsidies are provided only to those living below 400% of the federal poverty level, the bottom 29% of Americans ranked by income. That’s hardly reforms designed to make middle class Americans more comfortable.”

          I’m aware of the subsidies to low-income people and federal reimbursement to states through their Medicaid programs, if they agree to participate. But there are also many perks and sweeteners available to people without regard to income, as Whitehouse stated: “Keeping children on their parent’s policy until age 26, the elimination of the Medicare ‘donut hole,’ the elimination of life time caps on payouts, forcing insurance companies to cover customers with pre-existing conditions, preventing insurance companies from canceling coverage when you get sick.” Of course any sane health care system should include these provisions and more.

          But I am not going to debate nonsense with another bourgeois democrat and apologist for the system and its gatekeepers. My point is that high-quality health care is a right, and not just for some of us. Anything you say or do to support anything short of that is reactionary. What you want for yourself and your family is what you should want for others. We all make contributions to this society.

          What your critique never speaks to, and the point I was making in response to the Democratic party rally, is that 28.5 million Americans — 1 in 10 — are still not insured. So what does all your bullshit about the ACA and its low-income subsides have to do with the fact that 28.5 million people are uninsured and you, Barry and the Democratic party treat them as if they don’t exist and do not matter.

          And I won’t even get into the fact that health coverage is limited and out-of-pocket expenses higher for medical insurance policies by income and employer. Why should the unproductive, parasitic class who sits at the top of this dung heap have one health insurance policy and the rest of us have some other — depending upon our position in the pecking order?
          http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2016/05/10/Even-Obamacare-29-Million-People-Are-Uninsured-Here-s-Why

          This health care monster that our “representatives” created for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries needs to be defeated and dismantled. It succinctly demonstrates the anarchy and insanity of privatization, and what happens to people’s health and health outcomes when it is subjected to the “magic of the marketplace.”

          Pinkhatlib, you honestly have nothing to say that I want to hear.

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          1. PinkHatLib

            Sorry, Barry, I tried. ;-)

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          2. PinkHatLib

            What’s interesting is that Johnnie seems to be saying the poor should remain uninsured in order to goad the bourgeois out of complacency and spur systemic change. Perhaps that’s true, but it’s also a terrible price to be paid by the many, many families who gained coverage. Easy to say when it’s not your kids going without access to coverage. To the barricades, comrades!

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  3. Nancy Green

    Great reporting, I heard that talk, very powerful. The Affordable Care Act is what was politically possible at the time. Now may be the time to push hard for single-payer. If we can’t get it nationally we should see what we can do in Rhode Island.

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  4. Barry Schiller

    While I’m not pleased with the personal attack I appreciate Johnnie’s willingness to engage and discuss though I still think the net effect of her arguments by discouraging current protests will just make it easier for those wanting to simply repeal the ACA. But saying that I only want what benefits me is clearly wrong. I make no apologies for defending medicare that I use, but lot of ACA provisions are irrelevant for me personally, my wife and I are far too old to require access to birth control, we don’t need the medical exchanges or medicaid subsidies, we have no kids under 26 living with us, we don’t need mental health counsel…
    By the way, those features, along with pre-existing conditions provisions and preventative services, do not benefit just the middle class, they benefit everybody!

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  5. Elizabeth Ward, arrested at Town Hall meeting in East Providence, is a hero

    […] Ward “stood up in front of hundreds and said what we all were thinking at the January 15 Johnston Healthcare meeting. I was there at that meeting and people around me remarked that we […]

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