Keith Olbermann Blasts Republicans And "Blue Dog" Democrats On Health Care Reform...

While not in any way directly related to atheism, I felt this was good enough to justify a blog post and not just a forum discussion. For those of you who missed it, last night on Countdown with Keith Olbermann there was one of Keith's occasional "Special Comment" segments, this one regarding the now-stumbling efforts for health care reform in the United States. To call Olbermann's comments "blistering" would be quite an understatement. I'm a big fan of Countdown and make sure to watch whenever I can, I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever seen Olbermann really show emotion on his show. By the end of his rant he was quite visibly upset and angry. It was by far the best Special Comment segment I've seen on the show and I truly hope some of the folks mentioned within were watching. Without further adieu, here is a video link as well as a partial transcript of the segment. Enjoy and make sure you watch the whole thing, it's worth every second of the 13 minutes you'll spend. Go get 'em Keith...

Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on Health Care Reform in this country, and in particular, the "public insurance option." In March of 1911, after a wave of minor factory fires in New York City, the City's Fire Commissioner issued emergency rules about fire prevention, protection, escape, sprinklers. The City's Manufacturers Association in turn called an emergency meeting to attack the Fire Commissioner and his 'interference with commerce.'

The new rules were delayed. Just days later, a fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. The door to the fire escape was bolted shut to keep the employees from leaving prematurely. One hundred and fifty of those employees died, many by jumping from the seventh floor windows to avoid the flames. Firefighters setting up their ladders literally had to dodge the falling, often burning, women. This was the spirit of the American corporation then. It is the spirit of the American corporation now. It is what the corporation will do, when it is left alone, for a week. You know the drill. We all know the drill.

You get something done, at a doctor's, at a dentist's, at an emergency room and the bills are in your hands before the pain medication wears off. And if you're one of the lucky ones, and you have insurance, you submit the endless paperwork and no matter whether it's insurance through your company, or your union, or your non-profit, or on your own dime, you then get your turn… at the roulette wheel.

How much of it is the insurance company going to pay this time? How much of it is the insurance company — about which you have next to no choice, and against which you have virtually no appeal — how much is this giant corporation going to give you back? What small percentage of what they told you they were going to pay you, will they actually pay you?
You know the answer. And, you know the answer if you don't have insurance. But do you know why that's the answer?

Because the insurance industry owns the Republican Party. Not exclusively. Pharma owns part of it, too. Hospitals and HMO's, another part. Nursing homes — they have a share. You name a Republican, any Republican, and he is literally brought to you by... campaign donations from the Health Sector. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota? You gave the Republican rebuttal to the President's weekly address day before yesterday. You said the Democrats' plan was for…
"…government run health care that would disrupt our current system, and force millions of Americans who currently enjoy their employer-based coverage into a new health care plan run by government bureaucrats."

That's a bald-faced lie, Senator. And you're a bald-faced liar, whose bald face is covered by…your own health care plan run by government bureaucrats. Nobody would be forced into anything; and the Public Insurance Option is no more a disruption than letting the government sell you water, and not just Poland Spring and Sparkletts. But, as corrupt hypocrites go, Senator, at least you're well paid. What was that one statement worth to you in contributions from the Health Sector, Sen. Thune?

Five thousand dollars? Ten? We know what you are, Sir, we're arguing about the price. What about your other quote? "We can accomplish health care reform while keeping patients and their doctors in charge, not bureaucrats and politicians." Wow, Senator — this illustrates how desperate you and the other Republicans are, right? Because Sen. Thune, if you really think "bureaucrats and politicians" need to get out of the way of "patients and their doctors," then you support a woman patient's right to get an abortion, and you supported Michael Schiavo's right to take his wife off life support, and you oppose "bureaucrats and politicians" getting in the way, and we'll just mark you down on the pro-choice list. That's a rare misstep for you Sen. Thune. No twelve-thousand dollar payoff for that statement! I am not being hyperbolic, am I, Senator? On the money?

Sen. Thune has thus far received from the Health Sector, campaign contributions — and all these numbers tonight are from "The Center For Responsive Politics" — campaign contributions amounting to one million, $206,176. So much for Sen. Thune. How about Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite? Good evening Ma'am. You are the Florida representative who claimed on the Floor that Democrats had…"…released a health care bill which essentially said to America's seniors: drop dead."

Now those are strong, terrorizing, words — that's exactly what your Insurance and Medical Overlords wanted to hear. But are you truly worth every dollar of the $369,000,255 of them you have received over the years from the Health Sector? I'd reed the rest of the operative part of your speech myself, but your rendition actually cannot be matched:

Listen up, America, seniors have special needs. This bill ignored the, ignores the needs of Florida's health care system. We should be fixing what is broke. Not disseminate... disseminating... decimating, the care of our senior population. -- July 21, 2009

You can always tell, can't you, Congresswoman, when the hostage is reading her own ransom note, and when she is reading one written for her? So much for Rep. Brown-Waite. There are so many other Republicans, bought and sold — like the unfortunate Congresswoman there —by the Health Sector. Minority Leader McConnell of the Senate?

-Rather large chunk of the transcript is missing here on MSNBC website, couldn't find a more complete version... -

Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee. Congressman? Undecided on the public option? At $1,173,000 in donations from the Health Sector, I'm surprised. You should have already said no — and loudly. The only thing you should be "undecided" about, is whether or not you're really a Democrat. So much for Rep. Gordon. Sen. Max Baucus of Montana. Good evening, Senator.

So you're supposed to be negotiating all this out with the Republicans and hesitant Democrats? To gain bi-partisanship with a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Health Sector? Bi-partisanship that will get you, what? A total of no votes? And your price has been, let's see $414,000 in donations from Hospitals. About $667,000 from the insurance companies and just over a million from Big Pharma. There was a $1,300,000 from other health professional and $237,000 from Nursing Homes.

When you think of getting $237,000 in campaign contributions from nursing homes, Sen. Baucus, do you ever think about whether they subtract that amount of money evenly from all the patients suffering and dying in the lousy ones, or just from a few of the lousy ones? So much for Sen. Baucus. Sadly, this list could go on almost all night, too.

I could ask Blue Dog Congressman, Democrat John Tanner of Tennessee, if, since he's gotten $215,000 from hospitals over the years, if I and the appropriate number of my friends were willing to make it $216,000, if we could buy his vote — or would there have to be an auction?
We could bring up Senator Hagan, and Congressman Pomeroy, who, at 628-thousand, appears to represent the Insurance Industry and not North Dakota. I could bring up Sen. Carper, and Sen.Blanche Lincoln.

Senator Lincoln? By the way, considering how you're obstructing health care reform, how do you feel... every time you actually see Sen. Kennedy? I could bring up all the other Democrats doing their masters' bidding in the House or the Senate, all the others who will get an extra thousand from somebody if they just postpone the vote another year, another month, another week, because right now without the competition of a government-funded insurance company, in one hour the health care industries can make so much money that they'd kill you for that extra hour of profit, I could call them all out by name.

But I think you get the point. We don't need to call the Democrats holding this up Blue Dogs. That one word "Dogs" is perfectly sufficient. But let me speak to them collectively, anyway.I warn you all. You were not elected to create a Democratic majority. You were elected to restore this country. You were not elected to serve the corporations and the trusts who the government has enabled for the last eight years.

You were elected to serve the people. And if you fail to pass or support this legislation, the full wrath of the progressive and the moderate movements in this country will come down on your heads. Explain yourselves not to me, but to them. They elected you, and in the blink of an eye, they will replace you.

If you will behave as if you are Republicans — as if you are the prostitutes of our system —you will be judged as such. And you will lose not merely our respect. You will lose your jobs!

Every poll, every analysis, every vote, every region of this country supports health care reform, and the essential great leveling agent of a government-funded alternative to the unchecked duopoly of profiteering private insurance corporations. Cross us all at your peril.
Because, Rep. Ross, you are not the Representative from Blue Cross.

And Mr. Baucus, you are not the Senator from Schering-Plough Global Health Care even if they have already given you $76,000 towards your re-election. And Ms. Lincoln, you are not the Senator from DaVita Dialysis.

Because, ladies and gentlemen, President Lincoln did not promise that this nation shall have a new death of freedom, and that government of the corporation, by the corporation, for the corporation, shall not perish from this earth.

-Another big chunk missing-

Good night and good luck.

Amen Keith and Bravo. It's about time someone took these folks to task on this. I guess those of us who actually pay attention to these numbers are just supposed to believe it is a wild coincidence that the people fighting hardest to cripple health care reform are the same people that get the biggest donations from the health care sector.

Views: 67

Comment by doubtingSteve on August 4, 2009 at 11:09am
I don't like politicians. I don't like pundits who favor one party more than the other. Our country is flawed in the fact we have only 2 parties and it really doesn't matter which one you belong to. 4-6 years in office at the house or senate level can build a career that sets up a family for generations to come (think modern MLB player and steroids as something comparable). But back to this thread. Too many Red Herrings in Olbermann's rants for me. He's about as far left from center as Limbaugh is right.
The video is not available at this time. So I am basing the following on the transcript:
The first 2 paragraphs do not apply. It wasn't until 1970 the then President Nixon signed into law OSHA.
Para 3-4 do not apply. My insurance spells out in black and white what doctors, hospitals and procedures are covered, without ambiguity.
I tried reading several of the following paragraphs, but am so turned off by Olbermann’s vitriolic language that I cannot go on. I do agree that the pockets of our elected officials are lined by special interests and lobby groups. But it isn’t unique to Healthcare, so why should we expect anything different this time around?
Here is why healthcare reform will never take place in America as a populist supported movement: We are not an altruistic nation. There are enough buzz words and red flags coming out of congress and the main stream media that enough people feel they will be losing what they already have and have to pay more taxes to provide for the estimated 30-50 million who do not have insurance. As a majority, those of us insured don’t care about that demographic.
We are a nation of selfish individuals. 60% of annual Medicaid and Medicare expenditures cover last year of life expenses for our seniors. That cash is spent trying to extend the life of those who medically are in dire straits.
We are a nation of selfish individuals II. If we are seriously ill, we WANT to undergo every possible test that can even marginally provide a doctor with more accurate diagnostics. Twice. And we pay those doctors well who prescribe all those additional procedures. It’s a viscous cycle that perpetuates itself.
I’m afraid health care reform is dead. I would have liked to have seen it too, as this is the greatest domestic threat we face in terms of spiraling costs that could bankrupt our nation. But capitalism, as supported by corrupt elected officials, is alive and thriving. And we don’t see the forest for the trees of what really ills our nation.
Comment by Gaytor on August 4, 2009 at 3:02pm
I have a friend in Canada in his 60's whom was diagnosed with Leukemia 12 years ago. We travel to hang out with him and his wife one weekend every year. He loves his Fox News. He likes to call me a "Pinko-Lefty". He's very right winged in being a war hawk, small government (not that either party is pro-small government now), never be subversive, answer any question a cop would ask of you, etc. He's a 50's kid. That group that thought that a rook over your head wouldn't protect you in a nuclear blast but a desk would.
Norm is still worth a few million bucks. He hasn't worked in 12 years, had dozens of surgeries, but never has he been made bankrupt by a system that would have thrown him out by now. We have a system that pays people to go back and look at the history of a patient to remove them from getting contractually obligated treatment. So Steve's point of having a contract won't matter when a person starts delving into the medical history and finds acne in his history that was unreported (true story ) Unreported, contract null and void... have a happy death.
Norm wishes he was American. He wants to live here. He does however admit that he's grateful for the Canadian system. He'd be bankrupt without it. He knows that the choice in this system is to let people die. I hear the argument that "They let old people die in Canada." Shenanigans. Let's say that they did. Cigna let's 17 year old's die instead of giving them a liver transplant because it's experimental. Need a few hundred more examples?
We have the popular vote behind this. Last poll that I saw seems like it was 76% for this. What we don't have is enough voice to overpower money from lobbyists. I love everything that my congress man and two Senators stand for. I will vote for anyone other than them if this fails. Shirley Phelps... move to my district and get at least one vote.
People talk about the tax increase due to it. Look, it costs your employer in the neighborhood of $1000 per month to get you insurance. If you make $10,000 a month, that's effectively a 10% tax. If you add in Social Security, Military, Medicaid, Medicare and state programs, you could certainly see how we pay around 15% or more for healthcare now. And if you make the mean income here in the US it's closer to 30%. People neglect this accounting method because it's not out of pocket. But it's money that you could argue to go into your pocket if it weren't being laid out to insurance.
Insurance is worthless. We need healthcare. Even my buddy Norm who disagrees with me on virtually everything else politically agrees with me on this. If you disagree, what does Norm know that you don't?
Comment by SabreNation on August 4, 2009 at 4:36pm
I agree that Olbermann leans waaaay to the left. I disagree with comparing him to Rush Limbaugh. Rush Limbaugh is so far to the right he breaks the scale, I can't even think of a figure that falls THAT extremely to the left. Now if you wanted to call Olbermann the Liberal equivalent of Bill O'Rielly, that I wouldn't fight you on. I'm very much a liberal myself and find myself shaking my head at Keith's comments sometimes.

This rant was, to me, different though. It was non-partisan, he attacked Republicans and Democrats just the same - and saved his harshest criticisms for Max Baucus and Mike Ross, both Democrats. Sure he took extra jabs at Republicans, calling them the "prostitutes" of American politics but aside from the side comments like that he did not try to place this squarely on the shoulders of Republicans. It was clearly addressed to EVERYONE in congress. (and I understand that you couldn't watch that and may not have gotten that impression from the transcript, it was clipped in several places, I pointed it out where I could remember missing pieces but that doesn't mean I got them all)

As to the first 2 paragraphs not applying. Not to be rude here but you're an utter fool if you can't understand just how perfectly that applies to the current health care reform debacle. It was a simple anecdotal story of a situation that has many similarities to the disaster that is health care in the United States. Simply put - leave the corporations unchecked and they'll let the whole world go up in flames if they feel it will improve their bottom line.

As to your next comment - Gaytor covered that quite well. You're quite confident in your insurance, a little too confident if you ask me. That contract better be ironclad because if the time ever comes when you need major (READ: expensive) medical attention you can bet your ass that your insurance company is going unleash an entire TEAM of lawyers and professionals that are paid to SCOUR a patients medical history and track down ANYTHING that could allow the insurance company to void out the contract. For your sake I hope you never stumble into an complicated medical situation that winds up in you finding out the hard way (as many thousands of Americans already have) that your health insurance contract wasn't as air tight and unambiguous as you thought.

And your final claim that Americans are too greedy to ever have real reform is absurd and you need to do more research. There is ENORMOUS support for health care reform, every poll I've seen since this debate started has been 70+% on the side of major health care reform and every in-depth poll I've seen shows 55-60% favoring a public option for health care. The simple fact is that the OVERWHELMING majority of Americans want to see health care reform and most of them want a public option too. The problem is that majority have yet to be as vocal about it as the very loud, boisterous minority that wants to see us maintain the status quo. We needed an outraged rant like the one Olbermann delivered last night to get the other side of this debate fired up and ready to take action. We need more of them. When you've got organizations like CPR and world class assholes like Rick Scott organizing fake protests, busing people in, and actively trying to destroy the democratic process by openly telling these bused in idiots to completely disrupt town hall meetings and not let any rational discussion or debate take place. The leaked FreedomWorks memo by Robert MacGuffie lays it out plain and simple- disrupt, distort, scream, yell, and WHATEVER YOU DO - DON'T LET THEM GET THEIR SIDE OF THE STORY OUT!!!
Comment by Gaytor on August 4, 2009 at 8:06pm
Woman will be left to die and orphan children because Blue Shield does not want to pay for gamma knife treatment. Story
Comment by doubtingSteve on August 8, 2009 at 11:15am
I stand by my comments. I have exercised my healthcare for an immediate family member that suffered from the onset of catastrophic condition. The plan to date has covered over $900k US and there has been no nagging/haggling/refusal to pay.
My wife and I have worked very hard to obtain the level of insurance that we have. I feel it has worked wonderfully for us. That is not to say the system works for everyone. 2 parting shots here:
1). I see young[er] people in my company that could give a rat's ass about insurance. They feel young and immortal and make comments about opting out of everything 'but the bare minimums'. Nothing wrong with that, but I think this is done more out of ignorance than anything else.
B). I am SICK TO DEATH (pun intended?) of hearing pundits throw out the stat that x number of this 30-50 million uninsured opt out of coverage. Included in this demographic are those who have lost their job (we're still hovering nationally just short 10% unemployed). If you had insurance when you lost your job, you can pick up COBRA to maintain coverage. I was in a similar situation in 2001 and my COBRA coverage monthly worked out to be $1400. How in the $%$#%$#% is an unemployed person supposed to afford $1600/month? It's an EFFIN scam because had I REFUSED COBRA, and a health condition manifested, me and mine would now have a pre-existing condition that would have been precluded from coverage. Had we opted out of the coverage AND had that $900,000 illness occurred in that window, well, I can assure you this extended family would be in financial ruin.
Again, I am all for health care reform, but it isn't going to happen anytime soon. When you've got a Senior standing up at a town hall meeting and shouting "Keep government out of my Medicare", you've already missed the window of opportunity for any intelligent discourse.


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