“You Have to Lose Sometimes, in Order to Win”

by JC

Last week on Bill Maher’s Real Time, Bill Moyers, in a special “The Conscience of a Nation” edition, laid out a beautiful progressive’s analysis of the Obama administration’s struggling efforts to reconcile its legislative health care efforts with the progressive base’s demands. I think that Moyers’ words speak for themselves, so I’ll leave it up to you to watch, with but one comment. I want to offer up a quote about fighting principled battles, as it seems to be a recurring theme of debate:

“You Have to Lose Sometimes, in Order to Win”

What he was referring to was Truman’s losing battle for Medicare in 1948. But because he lost what Moyers termed “a principled victory” the nation was able to eventually move forward years later to do the right thing: get the whole loaf instead of just a half loaf, which he asserts is not enough to feed everybody. Medicare was born.

The analogy to today’s fight for universal health care was unmistakeable. Without coming right out and saying it, he intimated that progressives must hold fast to their principles. That if you hold your progressive values, that by losing the battle, you will have won a principled victory, and that eventually a better solution will prevail. If you want true universal health care, or single payer, then don’t settle for what we currently are being sold through our corporatist legislative process.

Enjoy the words of one of today’s most eloquent progressives.

This is part one. Moyers’ comments about principled progressive victories comes just after the 9:00 mark. You can watch part 2 and part 3 via the YouTubifier. The whole thing is definitely worth watching, if at all you are interested in a true progressive’s perspective on fighting great national policy battles.

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  1. problembear

    thanks jc for the shot of courage before the weekend. i am so sick of so-called progressives caving on this issue because “it is just not politically feasible”

    time to commit to a goal-line stand on a strong public option and if we lose we at least lose with our principles intact. i agree. i’ve tasted blood and mud before. let’s lock arms and dig in.
    going to change my previous comment on j-girl’s post here just a tad…… as long as ‘we allow’ our leaders to reward bad behavior, we can expect lots more of it.

  2. Tim

    Has it ever crossed your “progressive’s” minds that you weren’t elected because anyone agreed with any of your policies?

    Republicans stayed home and independents got sick of voting for conservatives who didn’t display conservative values. 53% of voters didn’t elect Obama because they believed so strongly in cap and trade and universal health care. They wanted an economy that didn’t suck and if he can’t deliver that, he has no political capital to be trying to ram health care through.

    9.7%, bitches!

    • problembear

      tim, lots of people vote for lots of reasons. labeling and calling us bitches makes you look like a moron.

      most of the polls i see show an overwhelming majority of americans want substantial change and improvements in health care. they just don’t agree on the “how.”

      very few people want no change in health care. that would be you guys. a bunch of worn-out, toothless, angry white guys with apparently lots of time on their hands. sorry about being so late with my reply but i am busy. it’s friday. some of us have to work for a living.

      it has been my experience that the noisiest animals in the woods are usually the lowest on the food chain. why don’t you come a little closer……bears don’t see too well.

      • Tim

        which polls are those? the ones that show 80% of americans happy with their health care or the ones showing over 95% of voters happy with their health care?

        ah yes, i’m a toothless angry white guy. ever consider actually knowing something about the people you’re criticizing other than the pics dailykos puts up?

        ah yes, you must be one of those liberals who hates violence and protests wars but doesn’t mind biting off the fingers of people who protest your government health care or a teamster who roughs up those who ask questions at your town halls. i’m not too scared of people who make veiled threats on the internet using fake names.

        • Here’s the story on the guy and that finger. He threw both the first and the second punch. He admits that proudly. The second punch he landed right in the guys mouth (this while they were both yelling at each other).

          He then lied on national television – Fox News, of course (full interview video in that link above) – that he wasn’t able to have his finger reattached, and that he said he left it at the hospital.

          He didn’t.

          Oh – and how did his finger get reattached? Courtesy of single-payer public option Medicare.

          Now – does it suck that he had an injury involving his finger? Yep. Was it an accident? By his own description, the circumstances he describes – in which he initiated the physical violence and in which both parties were yelling each other prior – point to an accident.

          So this angry guy is out violently protesting health insurance reform. He exhibits the typical hypocrisy I speak of so often because the fool has single-payer public option….and you can bet your bottom dollar he doesn’t even realize that is what Medicare is…and he initiates a violent situation in which he gets injured.

          Typical. In fact, the video I linked to yesterday (here at NJ.com), at around the 4 minute mark..maybe 4:40…interviews another older woman who was raising hell about reform didn’t seem aware that she, too, was on single-payer public option health insurance.

          Gotta love the ignorance.

  3. I also wrote an essay today about principle over party and problem solving over deal making by referencing Governor Schweitzer’s speeches in recent weeks.
    http://montanamaven.com/

  4. And, of course, we passed Medicare later and the seniors now insured by it are the most fierce opponents of any reform.

    12,000 moral victories on health care ain’t going to keep a kid from dying of a tooth ache and it isn’t going to stop medical bankruptcies.

    That said, obviously there need to be lines. Right now, we’re still headed toward a far more progressive bill than what any major Dem Presidential contender was even proposing in ’04. We’re making progress.

    • problembear

      I see your point matt, but I am the first one you will meet coming accross the scrimage line if max’s big sellout to the health insurance parasites doesn’t have any public option escape clause in it.

      You will think mark t is your best friend after I nose tackle you and max.

    • Steve W

      Matt, Don’t tell that to the Montana seniors who turned out en-mass at Baucus’ Finance Committee listening sessions. Don’t tell that to the hundreds and hundreds of people statewide (most of them seniors) who have turned out at Baucus offices statewide demanding single payer.

      Of course you wouldn’t know about any of that. The only seniors you pay attention to are the McCain voters on CNN and Fox who could care less about health care but who hate Obama and who didn’t vote for Obama.

      You say “we” passed Medicare, but you weren’t there either. If it was up to you, you would have folded because you would have been afraid that the insurance industry wouldn’t fund your candidates.

      Enhancing the income of the criminal insurance racketeers isn’t progressive and it will eventually kill a lot more kids and cause a lot more bankruptcies than will standing firm.

      i know my writing this won’t change your mind, just as I know that all those seniors here in Montana and across the country who support single payer are invisible to you.

      It hasn’t even crossed your mind that many seniors have enough sense or intelligence to see that subsidizing private insurance companies is wasteful, stupid and going to cost a hell of a lot of money with no cost containment, and they know that money is going to have to come from somewhere.

      if i were a senior on Medicare, I too would be opposed to subsidizing private insurance companies. And I would also still be in favor of single payer.

    • Tim

      what kid is dying from a tooth ache???

      last i checked bankruptcy was actually a better option. you still get care and you don’t have to pay the bills. better than the govt which will just stamp a red “no” on your medical file and let you die quietly at home…

  5. problembear

    And by escape clause I mean a provision that triggers full implementation of national guaranteed universal health care should these weasels not mend their nefarious ways.

    • Anon

      I prefer to accept personal responsibility and pay my own way. I was uninsured (voluntarily) for many years and always paid my bills. Actually, my choice was to live in Montana without health insurance on a much lower income or live in some liberal “progressive” state where I can find high paying employment in my field of expertise. The choice for me was an easy one.

      I prefer to not pay for your health care. Accept some personal responsibility and pay for it yourself.

      Oh, I suppose it would be a wonderful progressive society where the tax rate was approaching 50% or more and everyone had “free” health care. Heck, let’s toss in “free” food while we are at it. Those are basic human rights aren’t they? Can’t live without eating now can we. Better give everyone a decent car and free fuel too. And hell, these Montana winters can be cold – everyone deserves a nice warm place to live and society can easily pay the heating bills. Those damn utility companies make too much money anyways and can just give their product away. Just where do you draw the line?

      From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need. Yeah – that’s what I want to see America become!

      • JC

        So you gambled. And if you would have had an accident, and say a half mil in bills, the rest of us would have had to pick up the tab.

        Nice. You say you accept personal responsibility, yet you put all of the rest of us at risk to cover your expenses should your gamble have gone awry.

        Such be the logic of “me, myself, and I” generation.

        • Anon

          No, you would NOT have paid. I would have.

          • JC

            So, you’re a millionaire?

            What if you would have ended up in a coma, and came out of it disabled and unable to work?

            What if you had racked up a million in expenses and then died? Could you have paid your bills then?

        • Tim

          since you obviously have an actuarial degree, maybe you can give us real numbers on the chances of him having an accident and owing a half mil in medical bills???

          he wasn’t asking anyone to go at risk for his bills, you were. you’re the one who wants the rest of us to collectively pay for everyone’s accidents. at least he’s positioning himself to make good choices.

      • problembear

        so far, so good anon….self-insured.
        hope you stay healthy. but, unless you are a millionaire, you may want to up the limit on that juniper card you use for i-tunes……

        here are some typical costs for full treatment programs in some of the more common occurences here in montana:

        heart attacks- $ 560,000.00 + to infinity
        lung cancer – $460,000.00 ” ”
        brain cancer – $750,000.00 ” ”
        cancer colon- $ 480,000.00 ” ”
        diabetes- $ 290,000.00 ” ”

        etc…etc…well you get the idea. keep rolling 7’s there anon. maybe you’ll discover the key to eternal life is to stay forever young….the road goes on forever and the party never ends. except our good friend here in missoula had no insurance either and he died and left his wife with crushing debt and bankruptcy. but hey, good plan. i like it. let us know how it turns out.

        • Anon

          It is working well, thank you very much. When we moved to Montana, my wife and I had a discussion about no health care. We mutually agreed that should one need more than about $250k worth of treatment, there was no sense in financially ruining the life of the survivor and treatment would not be sought. It works for me – it might not work for you or perhaps you might place a higher value and have the assets/insurance to back it up. Personally, I have accepted I will die someday – maybe sooner, maybe later. It’s all part of the “master plan”. But I will never be a burden to society – that you can take to the bank!

          Oh, BTW I have NO idea what a juniper card is and I do not do iTunes. Don’t own an ipod, nor do I have a monthly cell phone bill. My car is 19 yrs old – I guess it’s just all about priorities. Yours are obviously different than mine.

          • JC

            Problem is, anon, is that you can eat up over $250k health care in a matter of days, before you even know it. Before you even know if you will recover from whatever it is–trauma, stroke, heart attack, etc–that put you in the ICU.

            You’re talking about assisted suicide here. That’s a whole ‘nother topic. One of which isn’t even settled for terminally ill, mentally competent adults, much less a person who could survive a traumatic event with a good outcome. Even with a good DNR with a dollar cap attached, I don’t think you would find a single doctor in any ICU to honor it, if they thought you would survive. It would be unethical, and most likely illegal, of them to just let you die from a survivable accident.

            I don’t know how you came by the figure of $250k being the value of your life, but I don’t know of anybody else that has ever put a figure on their health care like that. “Just take me out and shoot me like a horse,” my dad would say, but he was always joking, I thought, and when he got cancer he put that idea aside in a hurry, so he could spend another 14 months with his family.

  6. problembear

    You’re either insane anon, or full of shit. Nobody’s sensible wife would agree to let her husband die because the health care goes over some preset limit.

    That would be about half a triple bypass procedure.

    You are an idiot wasting everyone’s time here with lies.

    • Anon

      pb says “You are an idiot wasting everyone’s time here with lies.”

      You, sir, are not qualified to make that statement. You have no idea how old I am, what my assets are or what my personal situation and beliefs are. You are just jumping to conclusions based on your personal beliefs without any factual knowledge to back them up. Typical “progressive” who thinks society owes you something because you are not capable of getting it yourself! When you have no valid argument, all you can do is resort to profanity – how mature.

      • problembear

        You’re right anon….I did jump to conclusions…

        Now that I know you better, perhaps it was your wife’s idea after all.

      • you jumping to conclusions about progressives thinking that society owes us something is something, there, Anon.

        Aside from the 100’s of financial and economic reasons that this nation needs health insurance reform, your – you – Anon – inability to have some basic empathy for people who lack health care, makes you one real piece of work.

        I mean – would you walk by an injured person and leave them lie because you are healthy and you have yours? Would you think that you have no personal responsibility?

        Do you lack moral responsibility towards your fellow citizens? I guess that’s what I’m asking : Do you lack moral responsibility towards your fellow citizens?

        That’s a serious question, Anon…not rhetorical. What do you feel is your moral responsibility to your fellow neighbors?

        • Anon

          I believe charity should be voluntary and local and not by the forced government theft (taxes) of my money. I have helped many people *I know* that need assistance.

          So to answer your question, do I have a moral responsibility to my neighbors, the answer is no.

          If I don’t like one neighbor and do like another, I believe I have the right, the freedom to choose which one I help. I am under no obligation to help both. The government, via taxes, removes that freedom.

          I doubt you are a neighbor, so you are safe from my selfishness :-)

          • Your dodging the question. I didn’t ask you about charity. I didn’t ask you whether you “liked” your neighbor.

            I asked about “moral responsibility” in the context of helping someone who was in need of life saving assistance.

            Would you walk on by someone lying there in need of medical attention? Because that is the metaphor for national health insurance reform – making sure that everyone has access to health care. No resume or qualifications needed, other than the basic human condition of life.

          • Anon

            Did you miss this?

            So to answer your question, do I have a moral responsibility to my neighbors, the answer is no.

            Would I walk by someone needing immediate life saving medical attention? No, I would stop and do what I could.

            And any emergency room would provide what life saving care I couldn’t – independent of ability to pay.

            Our difference is that you believe that health care is a right to be provided and paid for by society and I do not. End of discussion.

        • goof houlihan

          Morality is about choice. When government takes that choice away, it also removed individual morality from the equation.

          • goof houlihan

            Sorry, I meant “removes”. So is it moral to pay taxes? Nope, it’s just smart. If you don’t pay taxes you lose your home, bank account, car, and freedom. Taxes are taken from people at the point of a gun. It may be metaphorical, but ask anyone who’s fought the law…the law won.

            Is it moral to help your neighbor? Sure, but if it’s the government doing it with your money they take in taxes, well, it’s just another extortion.

  7. problembear

    The truth is we are already subsidizing the uninsured now.

    So anon, if you use health care you pay for it with higher costs just like those of us who have health insurance pay more (or our employers do)

    We all help our neighbors whether we want to or not and whether we know them or not. It’s just more expensive this way of course. But you already pay right now just like I do.

    • right pb. Not only is anon subsidizing those without health insurance (a fact I’m sure he is in denial over), he’s doing via a market-based provided. Not taxes.

      So a private industry is essentially taking his cash and taking both profit and payment towards uninsured people out of Anon’s pocket.

      As for his position that he wants to choose who he helps and taxes are unfair? I ask: what about roads and police and schools, Anon?

      There’s a failure of basic logic going on there.

      • Anon

        Let me see. I walk into the Dr office (I DO have health ins at present – can’t wait to cancel it) and I pay ~$62 – same Dr office when I didn’t have ins. and I pay $106. So, the uninsured are actually subsidizing those with insurance. Nice system! Ya think maybe THAT needs to be addressed? Perhaps a system where cash payers pay the same as insured payers? After all, the overhead of billing is not there for a cash payer.

        • problembear

          sigh….i can see we are not dealing with a mensa candidate here.

          try and grasp the following sentence anon….
          both you and i currently subsidize THE UNINSURED who do not have 250,000.00 to throw at the hospitals for half a triple bypass.

          people who are crazy enough to gamble their entire life savings and who pay cash AND those of us and our emplyers who pay for insurance currently subsidize those who are uninsured and who are too poor to pay for their care. got that? i hope so. as much as i do enjoy torturing small animals like yourself i am going to have to do something else now and i just hope you can show yourself the door. it’s been real anon.

  8. problembear

    So the question now is…if anon’s wife really is plotting to get rid of him if the care gets too expensive (as he writes), which veterinarian gets to administer the dose? and who pays for that?

    • Anon

      I just hope I get to administer my own “dose”. Will cost less than $1. But, it appears the State may try to claim they own my life and try to interfere even with that.

      • problembear

        i would support you in that endeavor anon. and please do let me know when the time comes. good night.

      • Cut the crap with that death sentence/death panels stuff, Anon. It’s false. You know it.

        Do I need to find a kindergarten teacher to straighten you out?

        • Anon

          I never mentioned anything about any death panel. I assume you are referring to HR3200. My reference to the State was in regards to the current court case – I support Dr. assisted suicide, but don’t think that the assist is particularly necessary.

          My personal belief is that when then quality of life is over, it is time to check out.

          Stop trying to read more into what I say.

          I’ve had too many relatives spend the last 3-4 weeks of their life in ICU or the last year or two in a nursing home where they are either unconscious or totally out of their mind – at a cost of several hundred thousand $$ that could be used elsewhere in the health care system. I do not choose to end up that way and would rather terminate my life than go through that. Personal choice – you may feel differently and want to hang on to that last ragged breath – I do not.

          But then you are likely young and full of ideals – I am not.

  9. Lizard

    if done right, health care reform would save small businesses money, resulting in more hiring and higher wages. if done right, health care reform would focus on preventative measures that would lessen emergency room visits, saving money. if done right, health care reform would address the administrative redundancies that cost the system billions in wasted spending. if done right, health care reform would make us a more equitable, profitable, morally responsible nation.

    the problem: health care reform is being torpedoed by both sides, and whatever legislative pile of industry placating shit that emerges won’t address any of the major, systemic problems. how can this administration be fucking up so badly so early in the game?

    by hand-feeding us vague platitudes explaining 1,000+ pages of legislative voodoo, this administration has basically begged for the asshole me-first obstructionists like anon and tim to storm center stage, performing impressive mental cartwheels to cloak the underlying fuck poor people sentiment their comments amount to.

    i hope if the public option gets axed, those me-first asshole obstructionists will finally stfu, satisfied that their psycho scare tactics exploited enough frightened citizens to provide cover for industries that are literally killing us with pills and raping our bank accounts for the hollow assurances of for-profit health insurance.

    anon? tim? will you be good sports and agree to stfu if the parasitic industries you support succeed in killing the public option? a feeble silver lining beneath a very dark cloud gathering if this fails would be nice.

    come to think of it, i think niceness is actually a mandated socialist/fascist behavior trait, so i guess that means your ilk will keep spouting your party-line bullshit even after you win.

    • Anon

      WOW,Lizard, where to even start?

      Did I say anywhere that I did not support reform? Have I said that I support any industry? And finally, just what party do you think I support that I am “spouting party-line BS”?

      • Lizard

        do you support a strong public option, anon? if not, then whatever tort reform/price posting/cross-state border weak-ass reform the “opposition” has been sailing will be a boon for the industries squeezing us dry.




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