17 October 2009: Hail to C-Span and the Democratic Process
A new commercial on C-Span informs viewers that the three stations are the gift of Cable Television to the American public. That includes every station from Fox News to MSNBC and other more exotic ones that are no doubt far more popular.
If anyone actually watched C-Span, you can be sure Fox and its allies would pull it off the air.
Well, I do, sporadically. I've been watching the weeks and weeks-long Senate Finance Committee debate over the health care bill it just presented to Senator Reid last week. The Senate Majority Leader will introduce it to the floor on October 26--that's a week from next Tuesday. Other committees will present other bills, and then the fun will begin as one bill is hammered out by all--everyone from Mitch McConnell to Barbara Boxer.
Then the House equivalent, with the eminent and eloquent John Conyers in a leadership position, must be hammered into consistency with it. And all this is supposed to congeal and materialize on the ceremonial desk to be signed by the President before December recess, six months before all the ice at the North Pole is predicted too melt next summer. So some time must be left before then to attend to that somehow, and I'm sure Al Gore will be involved.
So let's hope the healthcare bill sees daylight before Christmas. Hope and pray for a miracle.
Because if you watch those C-Span sessions, especially when the Republicans speak out, you know that a miracle will be necessary.
When they actually address the subject, rather than introducing amendments about the shape of eyebrow tweezers and the flavors of cough syrup, they lament the fate of our seniors because of funds to be subtracted from Medicare, as if they gave a hoot. Obama had promised to tax them, the silk-tie bunch, but now it seems that the staggering middle class will pay, those of us who already bailed them out twice to assure that their CEOs hold on to their seven-figure salaries and seven-figure bonuses.
And while these debates go on, one American dies every fifteen minutes of completely curable conditions because he/she could not budget in any health insurance. Can we at least hope there was/is life insurance for the immediate family, the way that the families of suicide bombers are sometimes compensated for sacrificing one child to the cause, or one parent?
And these Republicans squawk over expenditures that amount to nickels and dimes that purchase their silk ties, while this country, as a reflex, spends several times as much on military expenses as the rest of the world put together.
Let me illustrate this with a graphic offered to the people by a most benevolent silk tie, millionaire businessman Ben Cohen, former co-owner of the gourmet brand Ben and Jerry's--activists sometimes are served their delicacies gratis when Ben is involved in a cause or supports it.
The narrative is from the paper edition of Words, UnLtd. I used to publish before going online in 2005. The setting is an antiwar rally sponsored by the ANSWER coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) in Constitution Gardens, Washington, DC, on Octber 26, 2002, the same date the Senate debate will begin this year. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, and Susan Sarandon addressed us, as well as Ben Cohen. Here is a description of his presentation:
He pulled out an over-sized chart, large enough for most of the crowd to see, with various government expenditures represented on a bar graph. 40 billion dollars is spent each year on children's health, 30 billion on children's education,15 billion on higher education, 8 billion on job training, 30billion on affordable housing, 8 billion on environmental protection, and 355 billion on Pentagon budget.The last bar was many times as long as the others and went off the platform into the audience by several lengths. The $355 billion figure does not even include the $200 billion that will go toward waron Iraq and the anticipated follow-up, occupation and nationbuilding.
Granted, the figures quoted seem like nickels and dimes compared to today's counterparts. The term "trillion" had not entered the popular discourse yet. "Billions" was still dry ice to our ears.
Cohen continued: "$55 billion will purchase computers for allstudents in our school.$11 billion will reduce class sizes in grades K--3 to fifteen; $6 billiowill purchase health insurance for all children without it; $2 billwill pay for Headstart for hundreds of thousands; $2 billion will doublethe funding to discover clean and renewable forms of energy. $13 billionwill feed all the hungry children in the world. $10 billion will go towardthe six thousand people a day dying in Africa from AIDS.$1 billion willprovide public financing for all federal elections in this country, to get moneyout of politics. And that total adds up to only $100 billion. The war will cost$200 billion, so another $100 billion is left."
After the speeches, the group marched around the White House from its location near the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial; routes passing by the presidential residence were blockaded.