Saturday, July 24, 2021

Masses Demand Medicare For All, The Most Broken Campaign Promise Of Democrats



Today the 600,000+ people in the U.S. who died from COVID won't be marching for Medicare for All. 

Neither will many Democrats in Congress who campaigned on the most popular form of universal health care, a basic human right that people in the U.S. lack. 

My own congressperson Jared Golden co-sponsored M4A legislation last time around. Then he ran for re-election and took campaign contributions from big tech firms looking to expand into the for-profit health care sector. Guess who doesn't support M4A anymore? His rationale: he's heard from constituents that they want to keep their employer-sponsored healthcare. Really? Then why do Mainers call it the Unaffordable Care Act? 

Once you've been sick with your ACA mandated insurance you understand that Obama's deal with the insurance industry to guarantee their profits had nothing to do with providing you with a reasonable standard of care.




The so-called squad of progressive Democrats came under fire this year from lefty organizers who wanted them to withhold their vote to re-elect Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi until she agreed to put M4A to a vote. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, formerly the darling of people who yearn to believe the Democratic Party serves people rather than corporations, has fallen from grace over the "Force the Vote" issue. Progressive types see her coddling Pelosi, whose wealth has grown by hundreds of millions in office, and whose husband just raked in $5 million in profits buying tech stocks Congress was about to regulate. 

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14.6 million people lost their health insurance during the pandemic. Pelosi's response: continue enjoying the gold standard health care she has as a member of Congress while showing off her two refrigerators full of gelato. Together she and her husband have grown obscenely wealthy as she represented the interests of corporations rather than the people, and no one in the squad cares to oppose her. (Note: that's why electing women doesn't solve anything.)

Republicans are just as bad, but they're more honest about it.

It's clear that health care is a top priority for many voters. Inadequate insurance plus major illness is a leading cause of household bankruptcy and home foreclosures. Many of my friends are affluent enough in retirement to live in Mexico part of the year and receive their health care at affordable prices. Many of my friends are low income enough to be on MaineCare, a medicaid expansion program that applies to any children and some adults in my state. Many of my friends can only afford catastrophic health insurance because the premiums for comprehensive coverage are too high for the middle class to handle. 

That's why Democrats continue to run on promising to support M4A. 

A slew of so-called progressive Democrats claimed they supported it while campaiging, and then backpedaled as soon as they were in office.

Thus the marches today in big cities across the nation. Also the widespread campaigns to bring single payer health care at the state level.

I'm involved with both Maine's campaign to pressure Jared Golden to support M4A as well as the campaign to mandate that the legislature enact universal health care by a ballot initiative in 2022. And I support today's rally in Portland which will hear from Jess Falero, an advocate for the unhoused who will eloquently share just how much it sucks to be without housing AND health care.

But here's the reality as I see it: two things need to happen before the U.S. can achieve univeral coverage via M4A.



First, the Pentagon would have to be defunded to afford it. 

The reason we have warfare but not healthcare is that both are enormously expensive and members of Congress would rather keep their bread buttered than help their neighbors who are struggling. (Just yesterday the Senate voted to increase Biden's $715 billion Pentagon budget by another $25 billion to keep the weapons industry lobbyists happy.)

source: https://www.mic.com/articles/167192/general-strike-feb-17-what-will-happen-if-activists-stage-a-nationwide-strike-against-trump


Second, the workers of this nation will need to stage a general strike. 

As we saw from the pandemic, their labor is essential to turning the profits demanded by capitalists. Only withholding that labor would exert enough pressure on our elected officials to bend to the will of the people. 

ANGELA WEISS / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES


Here's hoping that today's marches display the desperation people feel around health care in this country, and bring together organizers who can make it happen, without being coopted by the Democratic Party.


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Apology To The Black Woman On The Path At Willard Beach

Photo: Soul Cap


Greetings to the Black woman I met on the path at Willard Beach in South Portland on Friday, July 16. Our brief encounter has stayed with me because I regret my choices and hope that by reflecting on them I can do better. 

This is a story about how intentions don't matter nearly as much as impact matters.

It was late on a warm, muggy day when I arrived at the beach. My husband went ahead with two little grandkids eager to get on the playground after a long car ride. After reorganizing the car a bit I hurried to catch up with them and found my way to the path by the outdoor showers. It was wet and puddly and there were wild roses crowding it on both sides. Meant to be a two-way path, but only if both parties skirted the puddles in the center and scraped the edge of the roses.

I was about halfway up the path when I saw you at the other end. You had almost shoulder length curly dark hair and a blue print dress. I'm not sure how old I thought you were but definitely an adult and definitely younger than me.

I kept to my edge of the path and continued as you began walking toward me. When we were about six feet apart, skirting our respective edges around the puddles, I said, "Excuse me" in what I thought was a polite tone. I thought about stopping to let you pass but I didn't. As you passed me you said distinctly but quietly, "She's everywhere I go." There was no one else nearby that you might have been talking to or about, though I suppose it's possible you were on the phone talking into a bluetooth device I couldn't see. My impression was that you were speaking both to me and about me.

Doing the work to examine my own racism within a system of enforced white supremacy that has benefited me for 64 years, I found these feelings: surprise that you spoke; hurt that my "excuse me" wasn't viewed as the polite expression I intended; annoyed that I was being lumped in with all the white women hogging all the paths; compassion for the weariness in your tone; confusion about what, if anything, I had gotten wrong; fear at the iceberg that your brief sentence is the tip of; exasperation that a Black person in the whitest state in the nation expressed annoyance at being surrounded by whiteness.

Reflecting on my brief utterance, it occurred to me that the words "excuse me" can be weaponized with sarcasm and undoubtedly are by passive-aggressive white women.

Reflecting on how my body took up space that could have been yielded, I realize that my upbringing in a society dominated by white privilege was worse than useless. As the older person and the one who was already on the path, I assumed my right to keep using it.

As a white person, I have never expected a person of color to step off the sidewalk to let me pass. But I look like a whole lot of people that not only expected it but might use violence to enforce it. Even a woman definitely too young to have lived through the Jim Crow segregation practices that traumatized my young parents in Georgia in 1955 probably knows this in her bones.

Even if she was not the descendant of enslaved Africans, but possibly part of the diaspora communities from Somalia, Sudan, and Democratic Republic of Congo that now live in southern Maine. Because Jim Crow doesn't care what country you were born in or what language you learned to speak as a toddler. The fact that you don't look white is the only salient fact for segregationists.

So I want to apologize to you, Black woman on the beach path. 

I wish I had paused on the path and let you pass without comment. I might have said "hello" as you passed by, but I wish I had not said "excuse me."

Thank you for saying what you did. Without it, I would have quickly forgotten our brief encounter.



I would have gone on clicking heart on the Instagram posts of both ___brick and the group blacksand.surf who are claiming the right to surf and otherwise enjoy the beach while Black in California. 

Source: How the memory of a black resort refused to fade "A bather at Bruce’s Beach. The Shades of LA Collection, LA County Library"


I know the history that a Black resort owned by the Bruce family was thriving until 1924 when it was stolen from them by the City of Manhattan Beach.

I know that when I got up this morning both Huntington Beach and Proud Boys were trending on Twitter, because of a white supremacist rally yesterday in another southern California beach town. Some history on that location, as reported by Mark McDermott in easyreadernews.com:

in early 1926, the most ambitious Black resort of all, the Pacific Beach Club, which was near completion in Huntington Beach and intended to be “the grandest escape of all” for Black Californians, complete with Eygptial Revival architecture, was destroyed by arson. The project had been headed by Ceruti and was clearly intended not only as a resort but as an act of economic activism, a statement that Black people would not only have a place at the beach, but build the “Queen of the Pacific.” It had all gone up in flames. Though no arrests were ever made, the Ku Klux Klan’s very active presence in Southern California at the time caused many to believe that they had started the fire. 


I would have gone on shaking my head at the 2020 Olympics committee that banned swim caps that could be worn comfortably by Black women and others with thick, curly hair. Their reasoning: such caps don't follow "the natural form of the head."


Photo: SoulCap.com


Whose head is the natural form? 

I'm going to remember your words -- "She's everywhere I go" -- the next time I have an opportunity to hold space for a person in a Black body. And I'm going to do better at using that opportunity, because I sincerely want to, and to honor the work that you did for me when you spoke up. Because only impact matters.