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Baby steps

Jane Hamsher:

The problems in the current health care debate became apparent early on, when single payer advocates were excluded from participation. Part of that was certainly due to the fact that single payer challenges the logic underlying the entire health care reform effort: if we really cared about cutting costs and providing the best health care services, single payer would come out on top by every measure.

One can only hope that the exclusion won't be happening any more.

Although I do note the "lack of agency" in "became apparent."

Hey, if the fundraising and whipping to get us health care works better than fundraising and whipping to force us to buy junk insurance, I'll be happy!

NOTE Here's the link to Blue America.

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okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Hopefully what won't be happening? The problems, the exclusions, the challenges to the logic, the health care reform effort, the caring or the coming out on top?

I keed.

I think someone is actually having a mind-opening and revealing moment. and I think it is a good thing.

Submitted by Anne on

I read through the comments to that post and was neither impressed by nor cowed by her biting comments to anyone who dared question what seemed to be a newfound interest in single-payer, or her bitch-slapping of anyone who couldn't somehow prove that he or she had donated money to organizations that were Jane-approved.

After months of whipping an amorphous and undefined "public option" it was hard to believe in this single-payer-is-my-passion post; the reactions to those who commented about that had a feel of "how dare you?" that gave it all an altogether unpleasant feel of you-are-getting-in-the-way-of-my-vision-for-just-how-important-I-want-FDL-to-be.

I have no doubt that health-related issues are important to Jane, but this seemed like such a change of tactic and position, and wholly dishonest; I still haven't figured out why she feels the need to smack down anyone who asks questions.

And the sheep-like comments made me queasy: if Jane says it, thus is it so. All hail the Queen. Ugh.

Submitted by lambert on

And I've gotten banned again! I'm so proud. And all because I pointed out that "became apparent," like "were excluded," lacked agency. Hilarious!

Submitted by Anne on

her comments was the tag line: And your little dog, too!

I just fail to understand her antipathy for people who have been advocating for single-payer for a lot longer than she has; it makes it really hard to consider her an ally in that fight when she seems determined to throw elbows and kick crotches in an effort to move to the head of the pack.

For months she beat back and browbeat anyone who wasn't willing to see that her way - whipping for an undefined catch-phrase - was the best we could do. I guess I just don't get the defensiveness and anger toward those who have chosen to take up this fight in a different way; just because there's no creatively-titled initiative with its very own "Donate Here" button, doesn't mean it has no value.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... idealistic, hardworking, and long-suffering people she's been thwarting all year and swoops in and claims the noble position of #1 Bestest Single Payer Champion.

I see already some are sucking up to her there. It's amazing what status (sainthood, really) and reliably short attention spans can accomplish!

The insistence that the only way to earn credibility is to donate to her l'il charity is downright creepy. If you don't donate to Jane, don't pass go, and fuck off.

And the "bit player" frame is the absolute antithesis for everything the blogosphere was supposed to represent. Only the big dogs matter. Who cares about this complete retrenchment from the idealistic spirit of new media? Pretty close to nobody.

So, don't "fail to understand it." She wants to be the queen of this hill, and she's going to be. Heck, one post and she's already there. It's a fait accompli.

After pissing on it all year (remember "kabuki," anyone?, remember HCAN't in-the-house?), she's claiming it as hers, and nobody -- but nobody -- is going to stop her.

Is any big blogger anywhere going to call her out on this rank hypocrisy? Are the prankster "watchdogs" who are so deeply concerned with that foible going to shame her for it? Lifesaving tip: don't hold your breath, anyone.

It may seem gratuitous how vicious she's being to people who have been vilified all year long trying to get a word in edgewise about what's suddenly the most important agenda in her world, but it's essential.

The last thing someone in her position wants to do is to legitimize those who were right when she was wrong.

When the Iraq War became a known lemon, did GWB convene a study group peopled by all the hippies that said not to fight it? As memory serves, no, he didn't.

So, after denying oxygen to single payer activists throughout this process, giving them any now is not going to appeal to her vanity or whatever other motivations drive this abusive behavior.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

For the exclusions to happen.

Even if one meal few will willingly eat is crow, she still obviously has an ego problem. Whev, if she is actually going to set her blog to work on single-payer, the more's the betters.

A comb needs more than one tine to work....

Ian Welsh's picture
Submitted by Ian Welsh on

is to give money to Jane Hamsher to push single payer after she spent the last 6 months dissing single payer advocates and denying them coverage? Said dissing in order to get a robust public option, which she didn't get (a public option whose premiums are more than private insurance is not robust).

I... guess...

selise's picture
Submitted by selise on

the money is for tasini. and i'll do just about anything to get sp 'on the table' for discussion. supporting healthcare for people in need vs my ego is a no brainer (when i can manage it - i'm human too).

there's a few stages in social movement politics (and with our corporate owned gov, i don't think hcr can be successfully approached as politics as usual) that come before challenging the status quo powers (here's a bit i typed out from long comment to rbg):

1. First, social movements must focus directly on the powerholders’ policies and institutions to expose their societal secrets and challenge their actual polices and programs. This involves developing critical analyses, presentations, and publications and using all of the normal channels available to the public, including demonstrations, rallies, and marches that, when necessary, include civil disobedience….

2. Second, the purpose of these activities is to put the public spotlight on the problem and on the powerholders’ actual policies and practices in order t o alert, educate, win over, involve, and inspire the general public to become involved in the movement. These activities are not intended to get the powerholders to change their policies and practices at this point.

i don't think we're further than this, but the public spotlight is critical and that means working through any and all means of communication available. if sp policy, people, analysis, etc get some positive coverage at fdl that will be a good thing in my book and i'm willing to work for it.

ian, i think of you as more of an analyst than an activist (if that's wrong, my apologies), but for all activists, i encourage giving consideration to supporting this effort too. supportive links, a few bucks if you have them, a supporting comment would all be most welcome. thanks.

selise's picture
Submitted by selise on

and ralphbon and libbyliberal and montanamaven and nathan and a whole bunch of sp diarists.

Submitted by lambert on

... you've got posting privileges. Have at it! I have to take most of the day off doing winter-related RL stuff, but if you want to post on Tasini's interview, for example, have at it!

selise's picture
Submitted by selise on

but i'm really not much of a writer... i know it's hard for writers to understand, but i almost never think in words, so writing is usually a painful process of attempting to translate something into a language i'm not quite fluent in.

but if you are willing, i might give it a try some other time. right now i'm beat, and wrt to the subject at hand, want to do some thinking....

Submitted by lambert on

Sure, I'm all for that. But is "ego" necessarily the only polarity, here?

Personally, I think it's entirely reasonable to ask what the lessons learned from FDL's reform efforts were, and so I did. There were surely all sorts of ways to answer that totally softball question, to account for a really, really obvious policy shift! And Jane's answer that all single payer advocates -- paraphrasing freely -- are assholes did rather cast a pall over the discussion, did it not? Is that really exercising good judgment at a single payer fundraiser? So why would people give money through Jane? Why give her the rent? Why not give through PNHP, for example?

In fact, the whole thread was so odd that one could almost imagine it was designed to fail, thereby validated the public option bait and switch.

selise's picture
Submitted by selise on

was trying to avoid reacting to the many obvious put downs and instead focus on what is for me the larger goal.

for me it wasn't about the money (i don't really get the idea of candidates, but that's another issue). my hope, as i wrote above in my reply to ian, was that it might be possible to get some positive sp related press or even just respectful conversation there after being officially off the table for over a year. anyway, to me it was worth the try.

did a bunch of stuff to promote the event (daily kos diary, sent out notice to email list, etc) but i think the issue of credibility is a real one and would take some concerted effort to overcome. and haven't yet seen any interest in making that effort.

re your last question:
http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2009/12...

Submitted by lambert on

Thanks for the clarification, selise. In my defense, I'm out there getting beat up every day... So I have some sore spots.

And as for your question, "Simple answers..."

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

and your willingness to take any chance to promote single payer. You are a wonder.

Ian Welsh is Canadian, so he already has single payer. But he is a good neighbor in the truest sense of the word. He really wants America to succeed.

With single payer coming closer than ever to passing in Pennsylvania I don't see how anyone can say that Single Payer Advocates have not been effective.

Heck, single payer passed twice in the California Legislature, only to be vetoed by the Gropinator. But you will never see David Dayen blog about the fight for single payer in his state. Really, it is just sickening.

selise's picture
Submitted by selise on

probably just too stubborn for my own good.

i agree that it looks like states are probably the most likely first implementation then i hope the results/evidence help the other states along. but pushing from all sides is imo the way to go. but i'm looking this through the lens of social movement politics first.

great youtube from tr reid this fall (got it from a diarist at fdl) on going the state route:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSmfZ1tlj7Y

Ian Welsh's picture
Submitted by Ian Welsh on

bundle the money, get the clout and the credit.

I leave it to others to decide if they really want Jane Hamsher representing them on this issue.

Analysis vs. activism. When the activists don't listen to the good analysts they get their asses handed to them. I spent months trying to tell the PO folks that they didn't have a robust public option and weren't going to get one.

And they didn't, and they didn't.

I suppose it's better to have Jane onside than not, I'm just not sure I'd give money specifically through her.

YMMV.

selise's picture
Submitted by selise on

something about great things can be accomplished if one doesn't care who gets the credit? and it's kinda hard to take anything away from the pnhp folks who've been on this since the late '80s. someday i should make a list of everything they've done that i know about (which i'm sure is a very small fraction of the whole).

for some weird reason that is beyond me, i don't think independent analysis was welcome.

anyway, never disagreed with you re the PO. and didn't understand the sense of pre-compromising from day 1. i'm frequently wrong about a ton of stuff but haven't yet had reason to change my mind on those two.

p.s. almost forgot to ask you ian. were you by any chance at that TBA conference in the spring of 2008 (i've been listening to some of the presentations)?

Ian Welsh's picture
Submitted by Ian Welsh on

I wasn't at a TBA? conference?

I was on a panel at NN09, spoke about the economy, though the question period was almost entirely about health care.

selise's picture
Submitted by selise on

the reason i asked is that apparently hcan and the hacker plan was introduced to bloggers at tba 2008 (if not before) -- that's my impression anyway from listening to the presentations (they are available via on line videos) and was trying to figure out 1) who was there and 2) did that appear to be the first sell to bloggers and how was it received.

guess besides being stubborn, i have an excessive curiosity to understand the history.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

If she can funnel candidate fundraising through her site, apparently she is down with it. If the $$$ don't flow, she apparently ain't interested. Reading the comments, "Real support" = Benjamins through FDL.

Jane's a brand. Kind of like Coca Cola. When New Coke [public option] didn't sell [massive FAIL], they brought back "old" Coke [SP]. Sure it was purely for mercenary reasons, but I was glad to be able to drink the original again.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

"Jane, that was out loud!"

Actually, someone has, though it's of course on us to have "resilience" and "thick skins" in the face of Jane's remarkable approach for treating would-be allies.

Of course, she's acting precisely the way of someone who doesn't want us for allies. We must be fashioned into the all-or-nothing purists (no matter how many times we've explained that among the benefits of not suffocating single-payer advocates would have been a superior compromise plan). We're awful, whining "bit players." Migod, her Johnny Depp analogy read like Potter telling George Bailey that the only worth he had was his life insurance policy, though in this case our measure as people is how much cash we put in her coffers.

Hey, give Jane credit for leaving the donor door open to us unworthies. Mighty big of her.

Oh, and here's my post on this topic:
http://vastleft.blogspot.com/2009/12/sin...

Submitted by lambert on

The thing has been in preparation for two months, and we've got a candidate nobody's heard of, on the same day that Sanders is offering amendments on the floor.

I can grant that I'm not a politician, and so it's probable there are ways to get to single payer playing the inside game that I'm not aware of, but the track record on public option inspires no confidence, and calling single payer advocates truthers and Nader-ites is exactly like Obama's "little single payer advocates," and we all know how that turned out.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

If one recognizes that Jane's most precious asset is savvy.

Because of that, the simpler and more constructive thing to say: "Look, you were right, I was wrong, can we work together now?" was unthinkable.

No doubt any objections to her approach will be taken as a demand that she grovel or something. First of all, accountability is good, so rather than groveling, a little introspection about what went awry might prove important.

But she made this change with both guns a-blazin', making it very clear there's a new sheriff in town, and the old sheriff's name was, is, and shall always be mud whining, divisive purist.

Cordiality and humility were off the table, because to admit having steered a wayward course would discredit her savvy, and we can't have that.

Submitted by lambert on

on "lessons learned." There's no demand that wrong-doing be admitted whatever. So, as Kos would say, it's a big blogosphere and I hope she gets what she wants. If she bagged Jason Rosenbaum and gave Kip Sullivan, or somebody else from PNHP, a silo, that would be a fine outcome.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

he ran against Hillary in 2006 for New York Senate. I considered voting for him, because he was really liberal. But then he opened his mouth. Let's just say his personality leaves a LOT to be desired.

I think it's interesting that this guy is the first SP representative Jane picks. He will probably turn off a lot of people to the SP cause.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

if I thought they were just some sort of personal defects of Hamsher's. Single payer is way more important than any one personality or giant ego.

But Jane's responses of just the last few days (nevermind the last year) with regard to single payer goes beyond personality flaw.

One large problem is that her viciousness is most likely alienating potential supporters (as Anne points out). Her response to DCBlogger's innocuous welcome to the sp cause.

However, alienating potential support on its own is really just a stupid and bad tactic (with an irony bonus as it comes from someone who maunders on so about her political savvy). But Jane's behavior goes beyond the merely bad tactically. Her actions are so intertwined with her ego that I think her activism on any particular issue just isn't trustworthy. Suddenly after months of running down sp and its supporters, she's organizing for it -- without any principled (or even nonprincipled) indication why. So why should anyone think that we won't see any equally abrupt and inexplicable switch to something else?

The unreasonable and unjustified viciousness toward other sp supporters just hurts the overall cause (I mean, really, to snark off DCBlogger, of all people!). FSM knows we've seen the damage wrought over the last 2 years when people conflate a personality for a cause, especially when that personality is their own. Tactics matter, when the tactics you use degrade the overall political process; whether those tactics are the astroturfing/misogyny-inducing/progress-eroding tactics of the OFB or the lying/astroturfing/misogyny-inducing/hatefulness-helping tactics of the tea partiers. Unfortunately, Jane's previous successes in relation to causes most liberals believe in, and her relative popularity, have obscured the fact that they are not much different from the other poison-the-well tactics which have damaged the political discourse.

Submitted by lambert on

... is hardly the behavior of a wannabe top bundler, eh? Weird.

* * *

She's got a platform, and readers, and if PNHP (say) wants to make use of that, then fine; they're not children. But I'm sure they know what they're getting into and who they're dealing with.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

if people don't stop pointing out the benefits of single payer is hardly the actions of an activist.

I don't visit FDL or OL often enough to say for certain, but it seems to me that over the last few months the number of comments at both sites pushing back against the "anything for a PO" meme has increased. Which could, in part, explain Jane's sudden embrace of SP and Bowers' increasingly incoherent attempts to making holding on to it sound reasonable.

This is slightly encouraging, since it could mean that even access bloggers can be influenced by their audiences. Both of them stand to lose access and audience by ignoring the non-syncophants (or, more accurately, stand to lose access bc of loss of audience), and of course both stand to lose a lot of face by being so stunningly wrong and not-savvy on SP.

The face-saving aspect could explain a lot (and makes some things less weird and less inexplicable). Single payer is important enough to allow a fair amount of face-saving leeway*. But not if you allow it to go so far as to alienate folks from the cause.

* "A retreating enemy should be offered all the face he can carry off. Just don't let him carry off anything else." Aral Vorkosigan, The Vor Game

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

For those who donate but dare to request that Jane stop trashing the single-payer advocates she thwarted all year, she's banning them and giving them refunds (at least once, so far):

http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2009/12...

So, the donor door is only open for those who kiss her hem and turn the other cheek, while she slashes and burns the existing single-payer community. Can't have "that particular element" around in polite company, after all.

Submitted by Anne on

doing things her way, contributing as SHE decides, to whom she decides, and apparently it's an entirely put-up-or-shut-up kind of place.

That's nothing new. At various times, Jane has taken a Mommie Dearest (NO WIRE HANGERS!!!) approach to those who do not subscribe to her vision/position; at the first sign that she might lose control of the discussion, she takes the "offenders" by the throat not just to cut it off nad take control, but to show the rest of the community what will happen to them if they do the same thing. And it gives permission to commenters to pile on as proof of their devotion.

It's abusive, it's ugly and it drives away more people than it attracts; that there remains a loyal commentariat does not mean there are not exponentially more lurking who are repelled by her tactics.

She says she's been working on this for two months - in secret apparently, as her support for single-payer and her desire to funnel money to single-payer candidates would have been undermined by a public expression of it and vigorous - dare I say "robust?" - efforts to energize the FDL community to support it? Not sure I get that, but like Obama, perhaps we are just supposed to trust that Jane's master plan will soon be made clear to us.

In many ways, her position from the beginning echoed Obama's: yes, single-payer is the best, but we can't do that. For Obama, it was because he says he wanted something uniquely American, something less disruptive, whatever that means, and for Jane, she decided from jump street that it wasn't politically possible. That's just crap.

I have to say that it worries me a little that she's working on the folks at PNHP; not that PNHP could not use more exposure and opportunities to get its message out, but Jane likes being the top dog too much to accept a secondary role.

If I were Jane, I might advise her to continue her activism - designing fund-raising initiatives, bringing experts in to interact with the community, working the Capitol Hill crowd - and leave the one-on-one conversation with the community to others, who have better people skills; if you alienate the people, you lose, no matter how great the cause.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

Is there a plan beyond "elect SP advocates?" What is her Highness' position on the current bill? Is she willing to say "I won't support it and want it to fail unless it's SP?"

If not, if there's no plan, then she's not worth my time or $.