The Religion of Nice


If America has a senior media statesman, it has to be Bill Moyers. His recent essay is a must read, and too important to merely link; it appeared this morning at The Smirking Chimp under the title: Mr. President, We Need a Fighter to Take on the Deranged Right-Wing

[My bolds]

The editors of The Economist magazine say America’s health care debate has become a touch delirious, with people accusing each other of being evil-mongers, dealers in death, and un-American.

Well, that’s charitable.

I would say it’s more deranged than delirious, and definitely not un-American.

Those crackpots on the right praying for Obama to die and be sent to hell — they’re the warp and woof of home-grown nuttiness. So is the creature from the Second Amendment who showed up at the President’s rally armed to the teeth. He’s certainly one of us. Red, white, and blue kooks are as American as apple pie and conspiracy theories.

Bill Maher asked me on his show last week if America is still a great nation. I should have said it’s the greatest show on earth. Forget what you learned in civics about the Founding Fathers — we’re the children of Barnum and Bailey, our founding con men. Their freak show was the forerunner of today’s talk radio.

Speaking of which: we’ve posted on our website an essay by the media scholar Henry Giroux. He describes the growing domination of hate radio as one of the crucial elements in a “culture of cruelty” increasingly marked by overt racism, hostility and disdain for others, coupled with a simmering threat of mob violence toward any political figure who believes health care reform is the most vital of safety nets, especially now that the central issue of life and politics is no longer about working to get ahead, but struggling simply to survive.

So here we are, wallowing in our dysfunction. Governed — if you listen to the rabble rousers — by a black nationalist from Kenya smuggled into the United States to kill Sarah Palin’s baby.  And yes, I could almost buy their belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, only I think he shipped them to Washington, where they’ve been recycled as lobbyists and trained in the alchemy of money laundering, which turns an old-fashioned bribe into a First Amendment right.

Only in a fantasy capital like Washington could Sunday morning talk shows become the high church of conventional wisdom, with partisan shills treated as holy men whose gospel of prosperity always seems to boil down to lower taxes for the rich.

Poor Obama. He came to town preaching the religion of nice. But every time he bows politely, the harder the Republicans kick him.

No one’s ever conquered Washington politics by constantly saying “pretty please” to the guys trying to cut your throat.

Let’s get on with it, Mr. President. We’re up the proverbial creek with spaghetti as our paddle. This health care thing could have been the crossing of the Delaware, the turning point in the next American Revolution — the moment we put the mercenaries to rout, as General Washington did the Hessians at Trenton. We could have stamped our victory “Made in the USA.” We could have said to the world, “Look what we did!” And we could have turned to each other and said, “Thank you.”

As it is, we’re about to get health care reform that measures human beings only in corporate terms of a cost-benefit analysis. I mean this is topsy-turvy — we should be treating health as a condition, not a commodity.

As we speak, Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, has been fined a record $2.3 billion dollars as a civil and criminal — yes, that’s criminal, as in fraud — penalty for promoting prescription drugs with the subtlety of the Russian mafia. It’s the fourth time in a decade Pfizer’s been called on the carpet. And these are the people into whose tender mercies Congress and the White House would deliver us?

Come on, Mr. President. Show us America is more than a circus, or a market. Remind us of our greatness as a democracy. When you speak to Congress [tomorrow], just come out and say it. We thought we heard you say during the campaign last year that you want a government run insurance plan alongside private insurance — mostly premium-based, with subsidies for low-and-moderate income people. Open to all individuals and employees who want to join and with everyone free to choose the doctors we want. We thought you said Uncle Sam would sign on as our tough, cost-minded negotiator standing up to the cartel of drug and insurance companies and Wall Street investors whose only interest is a company’s share price and profits.

Here’s a suggestion, Mr. President: ask Josh Marshall to draft your speech. Josh is the founder of the website He’s a journalist and historian, not a politician. He doesn’t split things down the middle and call it a victory for the masses. He’s offered the simplest and most accurate description yet of a public insurance plan — one that essentially asks people: would you like the option — the voluntary option — of buying into Medicare before you’re 65? Check it out, Mr. President.

This health care thing is make or break for your leadership, but for us, it’s life and death.  No more Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. President. We need a fighter.


  1. Avatar Michael Hart

    He’s right, Suzan; nutballs have always been around, usually on both sides of the guns. Even the Labor Day holiday can serve as another example; a telescoping series of events that, whattayaknow— started with bank failures in the panic of 1873 and 1893, which eventually led to the Pullman Strike, which led to the deaths of 13 workers, which led to Cleveland hastily applying a bandage to the sucking chest wound of labor relations— the Labor Day holiday! Woohoo! A day off to spend money we ain’t made yet!

    I think we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that while we have way too many nutballs in this country, they are still a shitty, but vicious little minority; it doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous; it just means that when it becomes really intolerable, they will be crushed.

  2. I sent the URL to that video to the White House, along with a complaint. Yesterday when we tried to Watch the Speech on MSNBC, our local county apparently decided to hold its Emergency Broadcast System Test an hour early. We of course also lodged a complaint about this through the FCC.

  3. Hey..I meant to say: Religious person in the public eye. I have several friends that are quite religious and adhere to the teachings of Jesus, unlike the majority of theocrats that hold positions of authority within their religion. 😉

    1. @Dusty,

      There is a distinct Difference between a Christian and a Christian Supremacist. So I understand what you mean exactly. Its all good. The latter piss me off to the point that I have to really watch that I use very specific language so I don’t abuse the whole movement/Body of Christ just because the Supremacists are unreprentent shitbirds.

      1. Avatar Michael Hart

        @Seeing Eye Chick, Great points Chick, Dusty; a lot of so-called Christians are no more religious than the so-called Christian Hitler was, or Jerry Flopwell, or Jimmy Swaggert, or John Haggee, etc., and a great lot of them are unwitting secularists to boot. That makes a huge majority of the religious right— the haters, racists, birthers, deathers, tenthers, and hypnoschoolers the worst kind of hypocrites And they can’t buy a clue.

        1. Avatar mary b

          @Michael Hart,

          How do so many people believe in them? (the Hagees, Fallwells, Swaggerts, etc.) How can people who call themselves Christians not see these phonies for exactly what they are? Just by reading the Gospels in the traditional Bible, they should see that their work is the absolute opposite of Jesus’ work here on earth.

          My mind reels at the stupidity. You don’t have to have a formal education, or even a whole lot of street smarts to sniff out hypocrisy. But these people fall in line at every chance they get. How dare they call themselves Christians? It is insulting, embarrassing and idiotic.

          I rack my brain trying like hell to figure out these types of people. There is just no fucking explanation. I would love to see a psychological profile of these types.

          Anyone know of a link?

  4. Avatar mary b

    Moyers for President! He is always on the ‘peoples’ side.

    “No more Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. President. We need a fighter.”

    I believe that Bill Moyers would make a great President. He has just the right touch of diplomacy and not letting the crazy ass GOP overwhelm him.
    Wouldn’t he be great!?

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