By Jim Hightower on December 11, 2013

A "message of the week" is handed out, talking points (including "lines of attack") are distributed, "social media tactics" are taught, new messaging tools like "digital fliers" are deployed, "opinion articles" are pre-written, and a 17-page "playbook" lays out the strategy.

All this (and much more) is part of an all-out, centralized, military-style assault that House Republicans are making in a desperate attempt to kill Obamacare -- with their larger mission being to crush the idea that every American deserves good quality health care. The campaign is being directed through Speaker John Boehner's office, with all 231 GOP members expected to take marching orders, penetrate every media market, and stir up as much negative noise as possible to sabotage Obama's Affordable Care Act.

Most members of this anti-care brigade, however, seem blissfully unaware of an explosive irony in their furious assault on the Obamacare: It was their idea!

While Democrats long advocated that universal health care should be achieved by simply extending Medicare to everyone, Republicans always countered that coverage should be run through insurance corporations, with a requirement that younger and healthier people buy into it. Richard Nixon proposed this concept in 1974. Then, in 1989, the Heritage Foundation (a Republican-allied think tank) basically proposed the full privatized system embodied in the ACA, including the "individual mandate" that everyone buy an insurance policy. Such far-right GOP congress critters as Sen. Orin Hatch and Newt Gingrich became leading champions of this scheme -- the very one that they and fellow Republicans are now trying to demonize and slay.

The deeper irony is that, should the GOP succeed, Democrats can then return to the much simpler, more sensible plan of Medicaid for all.

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Photo: Flickr user LaDawna Howard, creative commons licensed.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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