Why We Fight

It’s so sad that some of the best stuff in the New York Times is behind the subscription firewall. Today’s Bob Herbert column is a must read. Fortunately, you can read it at Welcome to Pottersville. It’s about the children our outstanding “health care system” allows to die because they fall through the cracks between “insurance coverage” and “entitlement programs.” I’m not going to quote any of it because I want people to read all of it. It should make you mad as hell.

This column is not just about bad health care. It reminds us also that our struggle with government isn’t just about the Iraq War and various other stupid policies and practices of the Bush Administration. The Iraq War is just a symptom; it’s not the underlying disease. In fact, the Bush Administration is just a manifestation of the disease, not the disease itself. If our political culture had not already been poisoned, George W. Bush would never have become president.

The disease is that our entire system of government no longer functions as government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We seem to have forgotten what government is for. As a nation we have lost the ability to make rational decisions about what our government needs to do.

It’s not enough to withdraw from Iraq and get George Bush out of the White House. If we accomplish both of those cherished goals but don’t heal the sick political culture, we’ll still be afflicted with a sick political culture and the government from Bizarro World. And we’ll continue to bounce from one stupid quagmire to another.

13 thoughts on “Why We Fight

  1. The children in Herbert’s column are the children of Reagan. They’re Reagan Kid’s. The progeny of the right-wing insurrection that’s taken place in the last 40 years.

    Bush is just a symptom of our national disease. The underlying causes of our sickness are stupidity, vapidity (if there is such a word) and a lack of concern for those who are poor, or non-white, non-christian, or in any way unlike “us.” In other word’s – hatred. The fact that we leave children to die is a symptom of evil.
    Conservatives hate “government.” But government ‘s “evolved” from human associations. People formed into groups to help one another; protect one another. The converse look at that is that it also formed the “us vs. them” mentality; to protect “us.”
    We need to eliminate the “us vs. them” mentality. That’s what got America into this mess in the first place. Into Iraq. Into being anti-Iran, anti-gay, anti-everyting but anti-anti. I’m anti-anti. I hate hatred.
    We must accept that the greater good of all of us comes from each of us. “WE” is us. Each of us a cog in the greater human machine. If we don’t look out for one another, who will?

    The dirty little secret is that “our” American government has become one of the forces for the “Dark-side.” We have become the “Evil Empire” that we once feared. And, if you read between the lines of our history, read about what we did in Central America, South East Asia, (Hell,) all around the world, you’ll see that we’ve been a “change agent” for the worse. Ever since we became a “player” on the world scene, we have compromised what made our country great in the first place. “We, the People,” are not what our founding fathers imagined we would be…
    I’m not saying that America should be isolationist . We were right to go into WWII. I’m saying that we should never, ever, ever, be unilateralist again.
    I don’t know that I hold out any hope for our country anymore. Too many crazies. But maybe the death of Falwell will peel-off the religious crazies in the right-wing and we can return to having at least some rational converstaion in this country. I just fear it’s too late.
    If we are to have any hope, we must learn to relish our differences: “E Pluribus Unum.”
    I know I’ll never see the day… But, maybe I’ll live long enough to see the tide turn. I still have hope.
    It’s faint, but there’s still some hope…

  2. The irony is that the very same people that were against the “evils” of liberalism and secularism took over, and after seven years damned near everything is screwed up and almost everyone is pissed off. They had everything in their favor ,yet failed miserably
    It would seem strange at first, unless you consider a pit of crocodiles. They have a pecking order, the bigger more powerful get the most and the best…..until another becomes bigger and more powerful.

    As far as Falwell goes, he served his masters well. He kept his flock in line, shearing them on a regular basis, and getting them in lock step regarding the war.A virtual Army of rapture ready Alex P. Keatons. You can bet that overseas ” missionaries” are also involved in spy activity, or providing cover for clandestine ops.Over the years I’ve wondered why an operation like his, obviously a money making FOR PROFIT racket could get a non-profit status, well one hand washes the other.
    So Falwell was for profit, but not for prophet. More irony.I only hope God is a Gay black liberal Muslim, and Jerry gets to sit next to him for eternity

    Our country has the distinction of being the number one weapons producer and war maker, God bless us.You can’t do things so wrong for so long And have things go smoothly. And that’s the truth.

  3. “It should make you mad as hell.”

    Exactly, Maha. Here’s an experiment for each person who has read the above post: As though using the focus of a flashlight beam, watch what happens inside your private responses as you re-read the link and then take a few moments to continue to watch your inner self in the moments after that re-reading. This exercise is not about berating yourself, but instead about watching yourself in order to gain the beginnings of some insight.

    There are many possible ways in which to ‘not get mad as hell’ or, if one feels initially ‘mad as hell’, to not continue to stay in the fullness of ‘mad as hell’. We are overall a sickly populace precisely because we have developed coping mechanisms to avoid feeling the full brunt of inhumanity and injustice or, even if we briefly feel that fullness, we turn away, go numb, go shopping, cope by applying dismissive ideology or slogans, etc. Because we citizens have adapted to living private, separate lives in which the ‘problems’ are to be handled by others…..we have become unwitting tools of politicians and other power-brokers like the media and corporations who channel our unsatisfactions into shopping or focusing upon entertainment. All of these power wielders have, once in power, shown an inability to address underlying maddening facts precisely because they got where they are by being the most successful in coping with their own ‘mad as hellness’ by diversions. They model for us the coping mechanisms we use.

    What I guess I am saying is that, until we each understand our own coping mechanisms by shining that flashlight beam on our own responses, we simply don’t have sufficient and abiding discernment to detect and/or successfully counter those kinds of patterns in politicians running for office. We as a collective end up with a George W. Bush and a stupid war and children dying for want of adequate care and a Katrina.

    The other thing I would say is that the biggest illusion taught to us all as kids in our society is that pain is to be avoided, both physical and mental and emotional. Actually, pain is a message sensation which provides, if we allow it and learn to hang out in it, the shortest and most direct route to some underlying imbalance which if directly addressed, brings correction and stronger health. Until we learn to appreciate pain as a messenger, or that ‘mad as hell’ is closest to our deepest humanity in a shallow society, we will never flex our own wills and learn how strong we can be individually or collectively.

  4. The fact is that a system that continuously gives us such horrible choices in candidates is truly broken. Democrat or Republican. Right now, it is all about how much money you can raise, not your ideas or personal charisma. The fact that someone like George Bush can be elected is all the proof you need, but our other choices on the democratic side were Kerry (Millionaire) and Gore (Millionaire and senate scion). In state and local elections the control of the party is even worse. Statistics show (sorry I don’t have the link for this) that the candidate that raises the most money wins over 95% of the time. It s the single best predictor of election victory. We well may have outgrown our system of government, one that was designed over 230 years ago and with a national population of only 4 million. The big money donors are controling our political process, and that’s both sides of the aisle.

  5. There have always been crazies, but they were on the margins, not in power.

    Amen to all you have to say, Barbara. We need to have a Congress that understands that it represents us all, not just special interests. It’s on our shoulders to elect candidates who will fight for equal rights and responsibilities, among other things.

  6. Bush represents the ascendancy of the southern mien; these things they like to call values that are really the mendacious lies they’ve lived lo these many – torture and crooked politics being part and parcel. These are they who would not, could not accept Vietnam after prolonging it. Let’s hope Bush finally spells the end; the culmination of the transfer of the rotten dixie-crat to the now rotten republican party. Else, ten, twenty, … fifty years hence, they’ll demand we refight this Iraq war.

  7. Bush won due to dirty tricks and more than likely due to down right fraud. It’s hard to accept that some ordinary, nice people still believe that the poor are that way because they’re lazy and want to use others’ hard work for their benefit. Those who do well also think they did it alone and society with all its institutions had nothing to do with their success–now that’s hutzpah! The electorate has a very serious job ahead, but does any candidate know how to heal the country?

  8. erinyes,
    Love theis line: “He kept his flock in line, shearing them on a regular basis.”
    And, they loved to be sheared, didn’t they…

  9. I think the fatal bug in our government, what I like to call Democracy 1.0, was its blindspot toward the power of organized money to gain undue influence. When the Founders were creating our system, corporations were still pretty much under the King’s thumb and had nowhere near the power they do today. A few generations later, corporations gained much more power in the wake of the Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln foresaw the problems this would create, and he wrote about it.

    While the Founders understood the importance of a free press, they had no concept of the power of mass media, which really only came into being with the advent of TV and radio, and which was seized upon by the nascent PR industry.

    So many of our problems then, are the result of organized money taking advantage of these conceptual blind spots in our system. The poisoned political culture, the rise of the most morally bankrupt people imaginable, in both government and media, are all facilitated by our systems’ unintentional betrayal of its original intent, of government by We The People.

    When you install this easily corrupted platform from the past in a country that was endowed with the abundant natural resources that America had, with few nearby enemies; when America rises after World War 2 to dominate the world economically and politically, it’s a very short step from a struggling, imperfect representative democracy to a global empire.

    Our system simply wasn’t designed for the way the world has changed in the last 200 years (again, Abraham Lincoln noticed it early on), much less to run the planet as an empire. And it shows, in all the ways we keep up the pretentions and forms of a democracy: elections, political debates, the rule of law, and accountable representatives, while in fact corrupting all of these things.

    Empires inevitably tax their citizens to death, collapsing under their own weight, but on the way, they inevitably become dictatorships in one form or another. This is why the culture has become more and more militarized, why we have health care worthy of a third world country. It’s why we’re great at building next generation fighter planes and all the exotic manufactures of war, while simultaneously the prospects for a vibrant middle class are looking pretty dim. It’s why we’ve forgotten what government is for.

    I’ve said before that I expect a Democratic landslide victory in 2008, and I’ll go a bit further and predict that this will bring our first woman president (and possibly black vice president). They will be a welcome respite from the metastatizing horrors of the last seven years. But in many other ways, nothing will change.

  10. I am participating in an on-going discussion on universal health on another site that I visit frequently which is populated by people who have had various types of hip surgery. Most of the posters are from the States, of various ages, locations and backgrounds.

    The debate has been livelier than I imagined, with a significant number of posters actually decrying the patchwork, dysfunctional “system” of medical coverage (un)available in the States today.

    There is one poster, however, who embodies the right-wing mentality. She constantly harps upon the fact that there’s a significant number of people who CHOOSE not to take out health insurance. Her feeling is that since she’s made it in life, anyone can and if their situation is bad, it’s probably their own damn fault. Who knows: perhaps if she were forced to live on Wal-Mart wages for more than a day or two and had an unemployed partner and three sick kids, she *might* reconsider her point of view. In the meantime, I fear she represents a significant portion of the population.

  11. Indeed they did ( do ) ,c u n d gulag.
    My old business partner used to say “you can shear the sheep twice a year, but you can eat lamb only once”.

    I was channel surfing friday, came across “The 700 club”.
    Robertson’s kid was on, the text scrolling under the screen was acknowledging donors and the amount they gave. Creepy….

  12. In the meantime, I fear she represents a significant portion of the population.

    She does, and that’s why America is flushing itself down the toilet. Small-minded people like her can’t see past somebody else getting a benefit with her tax dollars. She doesn’t see the huge economic and social problems we are making for ourselves because we (meaning Americans collectively) refuse to deal rationally with health care.

    The faint hope on the horizon is that I think we’re growing a critical mass of middle-class Americans who get it, because they or someone they know is getting screwed by the system. At the same time, many corporations and smaller businesses understand that health care costs are sinking them and making them less competitive. Today most Americans realize something has to change, which was not true 20 years ago.

    However, way too many Americans still think in terms of “making (private) insurance more affordable)” instead of completely overhauling the system the way it needs to be overhauled. And we’re still not able to discuss this issue rationally through mass media, because right-wingers dominate mass media.

    I think if we achieve Democratic control of Congress and the White House in 2009 that changes will be made. My concern is that the changes won’t be radical enough, just tweaks.

  13. Pingback: The Mahablog » Stalled?

Comments are closed.