Wednesday, August 05, 2009

"There is no one more disappointed than I am in Barack Obama."
Congressman John Conyers

Black Agenda Report and After Downing Street are reporting on Rep. Conyers' extraordinary words. Conyers is an old progressive lion with more than 40 years of service in the House. Sadly, he has been shackled by the likes of Nancy Pelosi, who prevented him from following through on his promise to pursue impeachment against Bush and Cheney.

Hopefully, he will come out of the doldrums and more forcefully speak out against the Obama health care plan, which according to Conyers may undo the Obama administration altogether.

"Conyers suggested that it was very likely Congress would not pass any healthcare bill this year. The Blue Dogs and Republicans don't want anything, he said, and the Progressives are 'saying this is a piece of crap and we're not voting for it.' If you add up all the Blue Dogs and Republicans and Progressives, Conyers said, you get 'more than 218 to sink this bill!'

Or, Congressman Conyers continued, 'suppose we happen to pass it? Big deal. That's what Rahm Emanuel wants -- pass anything just to say we did.' A weak plan, Conyers said, would not help things: 'It's going to fail.'

In either case, Conyers concluded, whether we get no bill or a weak bill, 'they'll blame Barack Obama. Heads he loses, tails he loses.' So, Conyers said, 'we've got to tell Obama now, or he'll be a one term president.'

Unlike Conyers, I don't pretend to know if health care will undo the Obama administration, but I do know that the Obama proposal may actually make health care worse in this country. Check out my colleague Bruce Dixon here. Bruce points out that a limited public option will not be available until 2013 and will only cover 10 million people at most. We will not have universal coverage.

The possible instead of the perfect may be worse than nothing at all. Let's demand what we want and demand that Obama fight for it.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Diane Schuler, Drunk Driver

For more than a week, New Yorkers have been consumed by the story of the Long Island mother who drove in the wrong direction on the Taconic Parkway and killed eight people, including herself. All of her brother's three children, Schuler's own daughter, and three men in an oncoming car died in the accident.

The New York State police didn't help matters any by announcing that the autopsy did not indicate a physical cause for actions. Today they said that her blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit and that she also had used marijuana.

I have to say that I was very angry when I first heard the story. I assumed drinking was involved until the police gave their initial incomplete and inaccurate report. Perhaps she had undiagnosed diabetes, no other physical cause seemed to make sense. As late as yesterday police were combing the crash site and the exit ramp she mistakenly entered to find the accident cause.

I think I am also angry because I forsook my usual cynicism and believed what I was told. Now it turns out she was a garden variety drunk and her family had to have known. She did not start drinking heavily the day of the accident, that much is certain. Her husband and her brother had to have been aware of her alcohol problems before that day.

It now makes sense that her husband had no public comment. Her poor brother is now mourning is children and wondering what he could have done to save them before his oldest daughter called to say that she was afraid of the way her aunt was driving.

I'm certain that her family was in denial about the extent of her problem. I'm sure she claimed to be fine when she left the campsite, she may have been sober but started drinking when no other adults could see her. That probably explains why her cell phone was found at a rest stop. She had a sip or two while she was there.

There is a hard lesson here for people who love addicts. You don't help them when you enable and you may be killing other people too.

I was looking at comments from New York Times readers and this one stands out.

I guess what’s most interesting is how the national Cult of the Mother got the best of everyone… where the story of this crash was about the mystery of this wonderful mother driving the wrong way. Nothing about the three guys in the other car that she killed. Nobody would DARE suggest that a nice mother from a nice town on the Island had been drinking!

Frankly if the husband and/or brother knew she was drinking I think it would be quite likely they’d try to cover it up with a story about how she was “feeling ill” or whatever.
Sick of this country’s mommy cult. It clouds the judgement.

She could have added the word "white" to mommy and nice. That completes the explanation of the press coverage.