Category Archives: literature

Slouching towards Bethlehem

Here’s Glenn Greenwald on Maddow last night talking about the flagrant insurance company whoredom of senators Evan Bayh and Joseph Lieberman.  Unsurprisingly, the same two who have made the most noise about killing the public option.  For shame!

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

[UPDATE – Here’s additional reading on Bayh’s ties

His wife, Susan Bayh, sits on the board of WellPoint(WLP Quote) in her hometown of Indianapolis. Over the last six years, Susan Bayh has received at least $2 million in compensation from WellPoint alone for serving on its board.

She joined Anthem Insurance (the precursor organization to WellPoint) in 1998, when she was 38 years old and a midlevel attorney working for Eli Lilly (LLY Quote). Her work experience prior to her stint at Lilly was five years as a junior law professor at Butler University in Indianapolis. Her work background at the time she was appointed to the Anthem board would have been surprising, given that she had no insurance experience and was relatively young and inexperienced to serve as a director on a multibillion-dollar board.

… and Lieberman’s lies

When he was seeking reelection in 2006, Joe Lieberman campaigned as a supporter of healthcare reform and expressed his support for “universal healthcare.” When the rubber hit the road, however, Lieberman emerged as a frontline warrior for the healthcare industry in its efforts to block reform. Yesterday, he not only noted his opposition to the very modest public option contained in the legislation that Majority Leader Harry Reid put forward, he also stated that he would cross the aisles to support a Republican filibuster. Should we be surprised? No. Lieberman has long been one of the industry’s favorite players on the hill, accepting more than $1 million in campaign contributions from the insurance industry and more than $600,000 from pharmaceuticals and related healthcare-products companies. But his ties run deeper than that. His wife Hadassah previously worked for two lobbying firms, Hill & Knowlton and APCO, handling matters for their healthcare and pharmaceuticals clients.

– UILA]

Also, building on some sentiments to which I alluded in the last post, here’s Ezra Klein putting the public option with opt-out clause into proper perspective.

In the Senate, this is about to become the “liberal” half of the debate. But it’s not very liberal at all. It is a compromise, and a conservative one at that.

For the real liberals, the public option was already a compromise from single-payer. For the slightly less radical folks, the public option that’s barred from partnering with Medicare to maximize the government’s buying power was a compromise down from a Medicare-like insurance plan. For the folks even less radical than that, the public option that states can “opt out” of is a compromise from the straight public option. Access to the public option will be a political question settled at the state level. It is not a settled matter of national policy.

In many ways, this is a fundamentally conservative approach to a liberal policy experiment. It’s only offered to individuals eligible for the insurance exchanges, which is a small minority of the population. The majority of Americans who rely on employer-based insurance would not be allowed to choose the exchanges. From there, it is only one of many options on the exchange, and only in states that choose to have it. In other words, it has been designed to preserve the status quo and be decided on the state level. Philosophically, these are major compromises liberals have made on this plan. They should get credit for that.

And yet we should expect to see this bill watered down even further before it craps out the end of Congress.  I’m guessing they will ultimately pass this by taking a few last kicks at the usual victims – restricting abortions and immigrant access, that kind of thing.  It’s a caveman mentality.  They can’t be satisfied unless someone gets hit with a club.

William Butler Yeats:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The Grand Inquisitor (a parable for our times)

Excerpt from THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
By Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky
Translated by Constance Garnett

No signs from heaven come to-day
To add to what the heart doth say.

“There was nothing left but faith in what the heart doth say. It is true there were many miracles in those days. There were saints who performed miraculous cures; some holy people, according to their biographies, were visited by the Queen of Heaven herself. But the devil did not slumber, and doubts were already arising among men of the truth of these miracles. And just then there appeared in the north of Germany a terrible new heresy. ‘A huge star like to a torch’ (that is, to a church) ‘fell on the sources of the waters and they became bitter.’ These heretics began blasphemously denying miracles. But those who remained faithful were all the more ardent in their faith. The tears of humanity rose up to Him as before, awaited His coming, loved Him, hoped for Him, yearned to suffer and die for Him as before. And so many ages mankind had prayed with faith and fervour, ‘O Lord our God, hasten Thy coming’; so many ages called upon Him, that in His infinite mercy He deigned to come down to His servants. Before that day He had come down, He had visited some holy men, martyrs, and hermits, as is written in their lives. Among us, Tyutchev, with absolute faith in the truth of his words, bore witness that

Bearing the Cross, in slavish dress, Weary and worn, the Heavenly King
Our mother, Russia, came to bless, And through our land went wandering.

“And that certainly was so, I assure you.

“And behold, He deigned to appear for a moment to the people, to the tortured, suffering people, sunk in iniquity, but loving Him like children. My story is laid in Spain, in Seville, in the most terrible time of the Inquisition, when fires were lighted every day to the glory of God, and ‘in the splendid auto da fe the wicked heretics were burnt.’ Oh, of course, this was not the coming in which He will appear, according to His promise, at the end of time in all His heavenly glory, and which will be sudden ‘as lightning flashing from east to west.’ No, He visited His children only for a moment, and there where the flames were crackling round the heretics. In His infinite mercy He came once more among men in that human shape in which He walked among men for thirty-three years fifteen centuries ago. He came down to the ‘hot pavements’ of the southern town in which on the day before almost a hundred heretics had, ad majorem gloriam Dei, been burnt by the cardinal, the Grand Inquisitor, in a magnificent auto da fe, in the presence of the king, the court, the knights, the cardinals, the most charming ladies of the court, and the whole population of Seville.

Continue reading