Truth, Justice, or The American Way

February 26th, 2010 by Gid

I’ve seen a lot of words being bandied about in recent discussions of health care reform, words such as morality, justice, truth, integrity, and so on.  Just recently I read a post by George Lakoff, a UC Berkeley professor, asserting that life and freedom are morality issues, and thereby extrapolating that health care, which enables said freedom, is a morality issue as well.  What Professor Lakoff fails to mention is that morality has little to do with what goes on in Washington, DC.  There are some people who can still close their eyes and see Superman overlooking the land, his cape billowing in the breeze, proclaiming his advocacy of Truth, Justice, and The American Way.  Unfortunately, while such things look good in print and sell comic books, the concepts they embody have long since lost relevance to reality — at least for the majority of our elected officials.

The most cursory glance will show the fate of truth.  Just recently, we have a slew of rutting Senators who denied their improprieties and only barely admitted any malfeasance in the face of hard evidence.  We have listened to detractors of the stimulus bill decry its unsound policy from one mouth while praising its efficacy from the other.  We have listened to claims that Death Panels, Medicare cuts and prohibitive costs provided incontrovertible proof that health care reform is a terrible mistake.  We hear assertions that Obama is not American born, and therefore ineligible to serve as president.  We hear Repugnicans allege their willingness to bipartisanship, while holding up over 290 bills through abuse of the filibuster.  We see Sarah Palin presented as a capable politician.

Justice is equally infirm.  We have a Supreme Court which, in a demonstration of judicial whiz-dumb, struck down a long standing policy preventing the open sale of elections.  We have a Department of Justice (sic), which has ruled that those attorneys who opined the legality of torture were guilty of a lapse in judgment, deserving only censure rather than sentence (Nurem-who?).  We have a presidential administration obstructing the prosecution of bona fide war criminals, while one of those criminals makes frequent appearances on national television to publicly revel in his past decisions to commit crimes against humanity.  Meanwhile, the heads of state in Virginia are gloating in their recent victory, which restores discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Thankfully, we can take heart in the fact that the American Way has not been desecrated beyond recognition.  The American Way, to some, means the freedom and opportunity to find a job, earn a decent wage and pursue Clark Kent’s American Dream of a spouse, 2.5 children, and a home in the suburbs with a white picket fence and a car in the driveway.  To others it may mean the freedom and opportunity to open a bank and lend Clark — convinced by advertising that it’s easy and sound to live beyond one’s means — the money he will surely need to buy his dream life.  The American Way also means the freedom and opportunity to establish a monopoly and buy enough politicians to ensure profiteering beyond the dreams of avarice.  This may, perhaps, mean that the Daily Planet can no longer afford to pay Clark, who will no longer be able to afford his severely depreciated home, his car, or health insurance.  Well, that’s not too much of a problem for him — he’s Superman, after all.  Lois, however, is mortal, and a simple twist of fate will render the family bankrupt.  But this is OK!  The bankers and insurers are still living their American Dream.  While this may seem inequitable to some, we refer them to the now immortal words of Kentucky senator Jim Bunning: “Tough shit.”

And thus we found ourselves in battle not only with the megacorporations, but the politicians they own.  While most liberals will thank the Republicans (to some extent) for throwing tantrums like indignant children, while we may be glad of the proof at yesterday’s Blair House Summit that Republicans want only to persist in lies, talking points and smoke screens to maintain the status quo, they cannot be singled out as the only schemers in the game to sell middle America to the corporations.  With Repugnicans in the minority, they cannot be held entirely responsible for the fact that there has been no curtailing of risky banking practices of those banks we bailed out last year.  They cannot be held solely responsible for the fact that Blackwater, with a proven record of criminal practices, is still under consideration to gain another billion dollar contract for mercenary services.

And my advice to anyone with some money to invest is to buy stock in WellPoint, Humana, or any other health insurer you choose, because they have scored a political coup.  Behind all the political staging we can see that lobbyists have outnumbered congressmen eight to one.  We can count the number of meetings they’ve had at the White House.  We can count the number of so-called “blue dog” Democrats, sabotaging their own party.  After all the drama, we’ve finally been given to believe that the Health Care Reform bill will be passed and enacted via simple majority, which the Democrats still hold.  But how is is that now, when the Public Option could easily be added to the reconciliation process, the Democrats who touted the Public Option, who made a great show of sacrificing it at the altars of Snowe and Lieberman (oh, how they did gloat!), how can we now believe that they ever really had the least intention of considering it?  Is it merely coincidence that Obama dropped his support of that same Public Option for which he campaigned in ‘08 after meeting with insurance lobbyists?  Are we supposed to believe that although the majority of American voters are in favor of the Public Option, the politicians purported to represent them fear some sort of retribution for giving voters what they want?

You bet they do.  They fear the retribution of the insurance industry, which provides a kings ransom in campaign contributions, perks, and other benefits, the likes of which no average voter could ever hope to match.  I have seen Glenn Greenwald, constitutional attorney and blogger, doing a few interviews lately — interviews that will never appear on any Repugnican owned faux news channel.  In these interviews, as well as his book Great American Hypocrites, he exposes what most of us do not see: the back room meetings and schemes used by the majority of both parties to ensure that the flow of wealth maintains its status quo.  The Health Care Reform debate has never really been about truth, justice or morality.  It has never been about the American people, differing ideologies, nor has it even been about health care.  This battle seems to have been fought to remove any threat of competition and ensure the obscene profits of the health insurance companies.  By doing their best to thwart any reform, Repugnicans show their conservative disciples how they fought against evil governmental takeovers and socialism; by making a great show of trying to create a Public Option, Democrats can tell their liberal base that they did their best for them.

Except that they didn’t.  Nor will they, so long as politicians continue to be bought and sold in free capitalist markets.  This is, after all, the American Way.