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Democracy For The Southern Adirondack/Tricounty Area
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tricounty DFA Update: Heathcare votes, Dean, Murphy and more
Hello Everyone:

In this update for September 30, 2009:

1. Heathcare At Critical Passage: TIme To Call
2. Dean Leading The Charge
3. Murphy Deadline
4. Meeting Next Week
5. Back Ground
1. Heathcare At Critical Passage: TIme To Call

Last Night the Senate Finance Committee let down most Americans and almost all Democrats by voting out a healthcare reform bill without a public option.

Outrage is the word of the day. But that means we have to push back by calling our Senators and Representatives and telling them to hang tough on a robust public option. As Dick wrote the other day, silence is acquiescence."
The numbers are:

Also, if you haven't yet, sign the America Can't Wait Petition at

2. Dean Leading The Charge

The encouraging aspect of all this is the reemergence of Governor Dean as the voice of "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" and average working Americans. He's been great--

"If they don't have some kind of public option with Medicare buy-in or whatever, I think this is not going to be a healthcare reform bill and there's going to be an enormous backlash against the Democrats."

See the interview at:

It's refreshing after the Administration's off and on again, passive-aggressive approach of being against a public while claiming they're for it.

There's also a great dKos post today by Cenk Ungur on Dean vs. Rahm Emanuel, who made $16 million as a investment banker in three years after leaving the Clinton White House. As the saying goes, nice work if you can get it. I guess we should not have been surprised at the way this has turned out. Gov. Dean, by comparison, really does paint his own house.

3. Murphy Deadline

The the political financial fundraising quarter ends tonight at Midnight. As we know, Rep. Scott Murphy won last Spring by only 736 votes. It's been reported that Tedesco is planning to run again, so Murphy needs any donations you may be able to afford a lot more than the other big name candidates.

Murphy has come out for a public option, and has been steadily moving in the right direction. There's a weekly chart in the Post Star on local Congressional votes, and Murphy virtually always votes with Vt.'s Peter Welch, who's very liberal. Murphy has proven to be a pretty receptive guy, and he certainly got high marks this summer for his handling of the teabaggers at his town halls. Again, you need to do any donation by Midnight.

4. Meeting Next Week

Just a reminder that we'll be having our monthly meeting of Democracy For the Greater Glens Falls Area a week from today, Wednesday October 7th, at 7pm at the Rockhill Bakehouse Cafe, one blick west of the roundabout in downtown Glens Falls.

5. Back Ground Pieces

There's a couple of "must reads" that helps explain where the political currents are running at the present. One is by David Sirota on how Obama is trying to crush Democratic dissent, and how that is actually undermining healthcare reform by protecting Blue Dogs.

The other is by historian Garry Wills on Obama's surprising retention of the Bush's national security state and what it means:

Thanks everyone! See you all next week,


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Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tricounty DFA Update: Healthcare actions, PHARMA Flyer, More
Hello Everyone;

In this update for September 16th, 2009:

1. Deceptive PHARMA Flyer & Rep. Scott Murphy
2. Gov. Dean Says Public Option Still Possible
3. Exactly What Is Going On?
4. Rock Hill Progressive Film Fest: SiCKO!

1. Deceptive PHARMA Flyer & Rep. Scott Murphy

Some of us received a mailing from PHARMA, the pharmaceutical industry group fighting healthcare, about Rep. Scott Murphy. I've been told by Murphy's office he was not aware of the PHARMA brochure before it was sent, did not authorize it and has put no money into it. They were very concerned that people would get the wrong idea from the brochure, which they feel gives an inaccurate impression of where he stands.

However, as the brochure says, Murphy is a co-sponsor of HR 1548, which is an "important bipartisan bill to encourage innovation for biologics and is good for small biotech firms and universities." I would note that Gov. Dean was apparently for 1548, too.

2. Gov. Dean Says Public Option Still Possible

Senator Baucus today unveiled the Blue Dog version of healthcare reform. It does not contain a public option, or many other essential featuresorm. Wendell Potter, the former Cigna executive exposing the health insurance industry says the Baucus bill is an "absolute gift" to the insurance industry:

However, there are powerful forces in favor of it.

According to Governor Dean, real healthcare reform is still possible, and spoke about it Tuesday on Rachel Maddow and last weekend. Says Dean, "This is about the health insurance industry versus the American people. Seventy-two percent of the American people want a public option. We want them to be able to make these choices."

According to Dean, there are 51 or more votes and that is all that is required to pass a real bill using the reconciliation process. Schumer is said to be leaning that way.

Therefore, it's important for people to call and urge our Senators and Reps. to hang tough on real reform and a public option, even though they have expressed support before, which we greatly appreciate! That means:

*No trigger to start the public option (that is, it starts without waiting for insurance companies to reform themselves. They won't.)
*Open to all- ( Everyone should be able to chose the plan they want as a basic right, not locked in or out. What's choice without choice?)
*The best way to do this is to allow people to buy into Medicare so the system starts right away
*Keep the Kucinich Amendment in the bill as a fall back option. (the Kucinich amendment preserves the rights of states to create a single-payer system.)

The numbers are:
Sen. Schumer: 1-202-224-6542
Sen. Gillibrand: 1-202-224-4451
Rep. Scott Murphy: 1-202-225-5614

3. Exactly What Is Going On?

I talk to a lot of people and everyone is expressing the same frustration at the Obama administration's clear efforts to dump the public option while at the same time saying they are for it.

Certainly, this White House is far closer to high finance than anyone expected. Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake writes on the gap between action and rhetoric, and it is so illuminating I will also paste the entire Hamsher piece at the bottom:

Note in particular her comments on Rahm Emmanuel and hit the link to read about the "liberal "veal pen" institutions ."

There is another great piece by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone on the whole awful picture. Both are must reads.:

4. Rock Hill Progressive Film Fest: SiCKO!

The Rockhill Bakehouse Cafe's Progressive Film Fest continues this week with the best possible film for this season: SiCKO. If you haven't seen it, you must go.

FRI SEP 18 7:00 pm Progressive Film Forum Documentary and Independent Films Free.
SICKO Michael Moore (2007) 113 min
America's most incendiary filmmaker, Michael Moore, returned in 2007 with this health-care-industry exposé. SICKO tackles material as controversial as the topics explored in Moore's other films, yet does so in a way that places the focus on ordinary Americans affected by the nation's health-care crisis. After providing some historical background on how our nation's medical care system became so ravaged and unfair, Moore interviews a series of individuals and families who have had their lives all but destroyed by the denial of care in the service of profit. While there are two sides to the gun-control debate and even a legitimate discourse for how to best wage the war on terror, it's simply impossible to justify how a baby girl can wind up dead because her mother's health insurance wasn't accepted at a nearby hospital. Moore smartly allows this and other stories to be told with little or no interference, conjuring strong feelings of empathy, rage, and deep sadness. Of course, SICKO isn't a PBS documentary, it's a Michael Moore movie, and his fingerprints are all over it. Moore visits countries that have universal health care--spectacularly so when he takes several World Trade Center workers to Guantanamo Bay (and then to Cuba) to receive health care that they were denied in the United States--and presents a compelling argument for adopting a similar system in the States. Moore's ultimate purpose here is to compel Americans to care for one another, and it's a simple request that shockingly must be made via a major motion picture, making SICKO essential viewing.
THU SEP 24 7:00 pm OPEN MIC NIGHT hosted by our very own Cory Avon. Sing, play, read or just watch and listen. Free.
FRI SEP 25 7:00 pm Progressive Film Forum Documentary and Independent Films Free.
LOOSE CHANGE: FINAL CUT Dylan Avery (2008) 90 min
Using witness testimony, expert analysis, news footage, and corroborating evidence this explosive and important film tells us that the official story of 9/11 is false. Starring George W. Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Dick Cheney, Philip Zelikow, Dan Rather, the late Peter Jennings, contributors from Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, firefighters, first responders and 9/11 victims, the film exposes the inconsistencies and lies put forward by our government about 9/11, the crime of the century. This movie is sure to spark tough questions from its viewers. Regardless of your political stance, this movie is sure to keep you awake for weeks. You will probably never look at your government and media the same way again.
Every year, to honor those authors whose works have been either banned or blacklisted, Red Fox Books and Rock Hill Cafe celebrate our freedom of speech by spending a few hours reading aloud passages from our favorite banned works. Everyone of all ages is welcome to come and read (some of the most ridiculous bannings have been childrens' books) but you are also welcome to just come and listen. You may bring your own material to read but, rest assured, Naftali and Susan will be bringing extras. See you then!

Thanks everyone!



Posted: September 10, 2009 02:38 PM

The President did a great job last night making the case to the nation of the need for health care reform. He made the moral case, and every metric indicates that people were overwhelmingly moved to support his plan. That's the good news for the White House.

The not so good news: the White House has been trying to get out from under the burden of supporting the public option for weeks. The trouble is, every time they try to do it, the President's poll numbers take a huge hit. And so last night he came out and indicated that a public plan would be a part of his reform package. Today on the White House website, under "The Obama Plan," it says:

"If You Don't Have Insurance

"Offers a public health insurance option to provide the uninsured and those who can't find affordable coverage with a real choice."

The website is not so quick to commemorate the qualifiers regarding this public plan from last night's speech:

  • "The public option is only a means to that end - and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal." (expendable)
  • "For example, some have suggested that that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies." (triggers)
  • "Others propose a co-op or another non-profit entity to administer the plan. These are all constructive ideas worth exploring." (co-ops)

The administration's inability to close the gap between expectations and reality is a boon for progressives members of Congress trying to maintain the 40 vote firewall necessary to keep any health care bill from passing that does not have a public public option. So far they are holding steady at 66 votes with no support from the party, the White House, Congressional leadership or the liberal "veal pen" institutions.

Earlier this week, the co-chairs of the Progressive Caucus -- Raul Grijalva and Lynn Woolsey -- wrote a letter urging the President to mention the public option in his speech. I spoke with Rep. Grijalva yesterday, and he reiterated how important it was to their efforts that the President do so. As long as the President keeps expressing his support for a public option, they -- and we -- can quite rightly say that we're only insisting on something Obama himself endorses, something he campaigned on.

Interview with Rep. Grijalva -- Pt. II

Of course, the actions of the White House betray quite a different intent. The deals they have negotiated with health care industry stakeholders do not include a public plan, and they don't believe they can back out of them without triggering a rush of lobbyist money to GOP coffers.

At some point there will be a day of reckoning when the public understands that the public option is gone. But getting there will be tricky, and in the mean time White House wants to stop their opponents -- and let's face it, progressives who are insisting on the inclusion of a public plan are at this point their opponents -- from being able to exploit that gap. Because with every day that goes by, the base gets more and more wedded to the promise of a public plan, encouraged by the positive rhetoric of the President himself. It becomes that much harder for the White House to extract itself from the enthusiasm they assist in fostering without paying a huge political price.

One day the 11 dimensional chess set is going to have to come to terms with the fact that Rahm Emanuel worked with Max Baucus to cut deals that they force into the House through the Blue Dogs, and that the goals of the White House are not at odds with those of the Blue Dogs. Which is why Emanuel protects them so fiercely. And why we keep hearing things like this:

Remember back on Friday, President Obama discussed the public option on a conference call with House liberals?... Well that meeting never happened. [I]t doesn't seem to suggest that House liberals are being roped in to the health care negotiations between the House and the Senate.

Meanwhile, the President meets with the Blue Dogs this morning.

NBC's First Read indicates that the President's speech "will be a failure if progressives...are still obsessing over the public option a week from now." But recent Rasmussen polling found that 44% of Democrats "strongly support" health care reform if it includes a public option. "Without the public option, just 12% of Democrats Strongly support it," they note.

It's going to take more than just one speech to move those numbers significantly.

It's hard to believe the administration thought they could ditch the public plan without completely demoralizing the base and potentially suppressing 2010 turnout to 1994 levels, just as the passage of NAFTA did in 1993. Let's not forget, that was also Rahm Emanuel's handiwork and it resulted in a 54 seat swing that gave the GOP control of the House. Those Democrats who feel the need to "pass anything" and sacrifice the heart of health care reform just to build Republican support should also consider the potential nationwide downticket disaster that dropping a public plan could portend.

In the mean time, as long as the White House is consumed with the task of gaming out how they're going to break the bad news to the public and hoping they can somehow pass off the blame to the GOP, House progressives will exploit the double the administration has created to consolidate their block.

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