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The Tea Party: An Insider’s Perspective

8:59 pm in Uncategorized by Ian Masters

Victor McCoy, the pro-tem Sergeant-at-Arms for the Greater Illinois Chapter of the Tea Party Patriots and Sons, offered insights on his cause and his personal motivations for getting involved.

The interview began with a discussion of whether the Tea Party might remove Senator Reid and others with whom they disagree. McCoy explained why the Tea Party would prevail:

Here’s the difference: We have God on our side; we have Christ. We have an army. We have God’s army [and] we have angels. And we have wisdom and sageness.

Lest anyone imagine that he and his fellow Tea Party members, McCoy made sure to preserve his control:

Don’t tell me what you know about what I know. I’ll tell you what I know; I’ll tell you what I believe. Don’t tell me what I believe!

In response to the question of whether guns were for offensive or defensive purposes, McCoy had a practical explanation:

When you carry a gun . . . you don’t go, ‘Hey, I’m gonna use this for offensive or defensive purposes.’ You just use it! You have it in case. You have it for either situation.

He had a similarly pragmatic response to the issue of whether military training amounted to these groups simply preparing to kill other Americans:

You said “kill” fellow American citizens. You said nothing about perhaps wounding. . . . Perhaps shooting in the leg first, as a warning. I can’t check every single person’s citizenship before I shoot them in the leg, can I? . . . I can’t be expected to ask them to run back . . . to wherever they’re from to get some paperwork. . . You said, “Kill American citizens,” when perhaps I just want to wound illegal aliens.

As for the question of the courts:

[I refuse to] respect the authority of the court. . . I don’t sanction it. I don’t see it. I don’t recognize the authority of the court in the United States. And I put “United” in quotes and I put “States” in parentheticals.

The Party’s fundamental interests seem to boil down to simple economics:

Have I received help or compensation for the work I did for AmTrack? Yes I did. Do I continue to? Yes I do. But that doesn’t negate the fact that I’ve been out of work, and I want the government to get me a job. Where’s my job at? . . . They’re spending all this money on all this crap . . how come they can’t spend money on me getting a job. I want a job.

At least in McCoy’s case, economic frustrations have spurred a deep resentment of American government:

I’m furious at the government. I always have been. Well, I wasn’t that angry when Bush was in office. But I was furious when that evil anti-Christ, Bill Clinton, was in office. And now they got this evil, anti-Christ Obama in office. But before Clinton I wasn’t that upset, when the first Bush was in office. Or Reagan. But I was really upset when Jimmy Carter was in office with his “Lazy Fare” attitude toward the Russians and coddling up to Egyptians . . .

At the same time, he maintains a fundamental faith in American business:

Don’t handcuff Wall Street. It’s not Wall Street’s fault. I believe in an America where you rise to your potential. You are allowed to succeed. You’re allowed to rise to your potential. You’re allowed to do whatever you need to do to achieve that. . . . A great man said, “By any means necessary.” And that’s one of my credos.

Ian Masters can be heard Monday to Thursday at 5 PM PST and Sundays at 11AM PST streamed live at www.kpfk.org.

How the Public Option Can Be Saved

9:56 pm in Uncategorized by Ian Masters

If the politics behind the healthcare bill, and the current tide of resentment against Dennis Kucinich for being the public option’s last holdout leave you a bit mystified, Firedoglake’s Jane Hamsher might be able to help you out.

Talking with Ian Masters on his Sunday show, “Background Briefing,” she laid out the political landscape, sketching in the minefields awaiting the bill on both the left and the right:

JANE HAMSHER: Having Republicans go on the road and say, “Hey, the government’s going to force you to pay 8% of your income to the private insurance company that you hate, and then the IRS is going to come and collect penalties from you if you don’t.” That’s the killer on that side. And on the progressive side it’s the Choice stuff. . . . The White House has made the decision that they want to go for broke on this one. And they may very well lose the House over it in the Fall.

She noted that the bill’s most important flaw, however, goes back to its lack of a public option:

JANE HAMSHER: The public likes the public option. They thought it was a safeguard against insurance companies having unprotected monopolies and the ability to collect money from people without limit. . . . They raised the rate 30% last year in California . . . they could do it again next year. There’s nothing in this bill that stops them from doing that. They could keep doing that forever. The safeguard was supposed to be the check with the public option. . . . Once that got take out, that was scary to people. . . . This bill is not popular with the American people right now.

She also excoriated the Obama administration for caving even before they had begun:

JANE HAMSHER: When they said, “We want Republicans to join us on this.” That wasn’t even code. That was, “We’re not going to have a Public Option.” Cause no Republican would vote for one. . . . Now we’re getting a bill that doesn’t have one, and it’s ripping the party apart at its guts.

Worse, as she said on her own site, the administration has been using Democrats for cannon fodder in its almost hopeless charge to pass this bill.

While the Obama administration came in for criticism, Hamsher had even tougher words for liberals who abandoned Kucinich—and went back on their pledges to support the public option:

JANE HAMSHER: I find it odd that when it’s down to Joe Lieberman’s one vote everybody shrugs their shoulders and says, “Oh well, we just have to write the bill that Joe wants and give it to him, ‘cause what can you do? One vote.” And when it’s Dennis Kucinich’s one vote that represents what 80% of the American people want, it’s “Oh, let’s crush Dennis Kucinich so that we can give Joe Lieberman everything he wants.” Somehow the argument keeps switching to make sure that the sort of “correct” deal that the White House did with the pharmaceutical companies gets passed no matter what.

As Hamsher sees it, Kucinich is not being obstructionist; he is doing the job the voters elected to do:

JANE HAMSHER: I think Dennis is doing the exact right thing. This is what he’s supposed to be doing at this point in time. He’s representing what the rest of the country. He’s doing what politicians are supposed to do. And the shocking thing is that the liberal infrastructure is lining up for doing what THEY said should be done last year. We ALL ran a campaign when sixty-five members of Congress said that they would vote against a bill that doesn’t have a public option. ALL of us, MoveOn on down, did a fundraiser for these people who signed this letter. We raised four hundred and thirty thousand dollars, including Dennis Kucinich. So now Dennis Kucinich is doing it, and they’re trying to crush him? That is incoherent.

Looking further afield, Hamsher predicted that passage of the bill not only would not save the Democratic Party in the fall, its repercussions might go even further. And the White House should take responsibility:

JANE HAMSHER: If you write a crappy bill, you can’t say, “My presidency is on the line if you don’t pass it.” . . . You wrote the bill. It’s bad. People don’t like it. They don’t want to sacrifice their political careers.

Worst of all, progressives have been asked to trade their positions on a cornerstone issue such as Choice only to lose both the victories of the past and the potential for something better in the future:

JANE HAMSHER: You go into those swing districts that we’re supposed to care so much about. You know, the reason we gave up Choice because we need Democrats in Republican districts? We’re getting ready to throw them to the dogs, and completely decimate the Democratic Party by passing this bill. It doesn’t make any sense. And we’re only doing it because this is the bill that the White House wrote; these are the deals that they cut.

What then can be done? Is all lost? Not according to Jane Hamsher. There is still time to put the pressure on representatives and let them know that the electorate will stand behind them if they stand up for what the public wants:

JANE HAMSHER: If [you] have a representative out there who claims to be pro-Choice, [then] call and ask him, “How can you possibly vote for this bill? How are we doing this on the backs of a woman’s right to choose? Because that is what this bill is.

Hear Ian Masters Monday through Thursday at 5 PM (Pacific Time) and Sundays at 11 AM (Pacific Time) www.kpfk.org . You can get it streaming live here.

Kucinich: Nader of Health Care – or The Only One with the Guts and Brains to Do the Right Thing?

12:39 pm in Uncategorized by Ian Masters

I taped with Congressman Kucinich for "The Daily Briefing" (5 to 6 PM PT on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and at www.kpfk.org). I was about to ask him to answer charges that he was the Ralph Nader of health care but he abruptly bailed to take a vote. My producer then sent him a text: "We just did a quick interview with you. Would you be willing to respond to charges you are the Nader of health care? Call this number." I was on the air running the incomplete interview when he called in, and we went live with the Congressman.

I was prepared to dismiss him like Marcos Moulitsas did as a suicidally self-righteous progressive in the Nader mould (see here and here), but after trying to pin him down on what he is up to, it appears Kucinich might be the only Democratic Congressman with the guts and brains to get something done about reforming healthcare, as opposed to health insurance.

As Kucinich told me, this is a matter of doing what an elected representative should do:

KUCINICH: I have a responsibility on behalf of all those people who want to see a public option to help the White House cross that divide. . . . If I cave in without any public option, that could kill any hopes of keeping it alive in the Senate.

I asked him what he thought of the comparisons to Nader. His response showed his appreciation of the consumer activist, but also his continuing loyalty to the Democratic party:

KUCINICH: If being the Ralph Nader of health care means I’m against consumer fraud and against monopolies, that’s OK. But if being the Ralph Nader of health care means that I’m scuttling the Democratic Party, that’s not true. I’m inside the party. I represent a voice inside the party that has helped to make health care an issue in three successive Democratic Platform committees and two national campaigns . . . I haven’t gone outside the party, and the party still has a chance to be able to deliver to the American people a health care bill that would be worthy of broader support.

After watching the Democrat’s Progressive Caucus dutifully roll over for the White House, Kucinich’s original House vote against the bill has meaning now, unlike Lynn Woolsey’s and others. Since the House has to vote on the Senate bill as is, without changing a comma, this is the only time to make a deal, not later during reconciliation when some Senate parliamentarian gets to slice and dice it. In taking a stand as the critical vote that the White House needs, Kucinich appears to be giving Democratic Senators cover as more and more of them declare their support for the public option.

I have a new show in drive time every weeknight at 8pm ET/5pm PT on KPFK, which is available via live stream here.