Gary Null's reply to Rabbi Michael Lerner.
Rabbi Michael Lerner: … We can't just sit back here and say 'um, gee, he's disappointed us.' Um, we have a tremendous part of the responsibility because we did not provide him with as strong and militant and demanding a voice as the voices that he's confronted on the, from, from the Right.
Gary Null: OK, OK. Point, point, hold, hold on one second.
Rabbi Michael Lerner: Fifty million unemployed people, fifty million people who don't have health care in this country. Where were they this summer when the, when these nutcases were organizing and were yelling him down? Where were the fifty million other people who don't have [health] coverage? Where were the ones who were, you know, they were not organizing themselves. They were not out there. OK well, you might say, they couldn't organize themselves because many of them are disadvantaged and so forth. But then were the liberal and Progressive forces organizing them and bringing them in the millions and millions to Washington D.C. and bringing them in the tens of thousands to their local elected ah, ah, officials to push really hard for single payer and um, and, and to demand single payer as being the alternative so that Obama would have been caught between a movement for single payer health care and a movement to eviscerate and destroy any kind of single payer. Instead, he's caught between eviscerating ah, eviscerating a public option and nothing on the other side.
Gary Null: OK, le-, let me respond, alright. You've made some extremely valid and very important insights. I would like to offer a different perspective and see your point of view on it, alright?
Rabbi Michael Lerner: Yah, sure.
Gary Null: First, I do not believe for a second that either Bill Clinton was being honest with you, or, or that, that, somehow Obama or anyone who goes to Washington becomes a victim of the system of the Beltway politics. To the contrary Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Obama can turn on the internet, turn on television. And if they choose to go to alternative media if they chose to go the more Progressive media, which they're fully familiar with, because they've used them repeatedly, they would see those voices who are saying, 'We are here for you. We will support you.' Seventy percent of the American population made their opinions completely clear in all the media. We want Single Payer coverage.
Now, he chose instead, not to empower those people who were asking, they were there, the poor, the middle class, all were there saying, 'We don't want,' ah, 'we don't want the system as it is. We want it reformed. We are for you.' He had a majority in both the House and Senate. And instead, here's the other side, quote, "hundreds of former Congressional staffers are now health care lobbyists. Analysts at the Little Sis blog have identified more that four hundred and fifty former Congressional staffers who now work as health care lobbyists."
And ah, by the way, they have given enormous money to the Gang of Sis, Six, including Montana Senator Mock, ah, Max Bacchus, and, who led the list with twelve staffers and ah, next was Senator Grassley, second with ten. And a lar-, quote, "a large group of lobbyists had previously worked with the Senate Finance Committee, where the current Bill is stalled, and the Senate Health and Education, and Labor and Pensions Committee and the Department of Human Services." Now, when you look at Senator democrat, Senator, ah, ah, Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas, she is the number one recipient of the Sunlight Foundation, ah, ahs, em, input. And ah, that was $325,000.
So, what has happened, in my opinion, it happened with Clinton, it happened with Reagan, it's happened with Obama is that they're very smart. These are not people incapable of understanding what they're doing. The-, Clinton did not have the people forced on him inside the Beltway. He chose them. Obama chose before he was even elected, he chose many of his insiders, including Rahm Emanuel. These are Washington insiders.
So, on the one hand he's saying, repeatedly, (I have at least a hundred and fifteen separate recorded occasions where he said) 'no more politics as usual. None of the old gang in Washington is going to be in my administration.' The only people in his administration he personally chose were the old gang. That's his choice, freedom of choice from an intelligent person who was a member of the power elite. He came from an elite background. He came from one of those backgrounds where you're considered one of the best and brightest because of Harvard, because of Law Review, because of Professor of Constitutional Law for twelve years, University of Chicago. Because of that background, the people you associate with, you assume, because they have a similar type of education and philosophy that you should work together for whatever your cau-, cause is. I'm not saying that's nefarious. I'm not saying it's anyway in-, negative. But the consequences can be.
So when the Ralph Naders, and when the other people by the thousands, Professor Brown and Ludlow and, and, ah, and Robini and Stigowitz, ah, all the other great minds who are true Progressives, when they came together, it was on environmental issues, on the selection of the person who should run our food program in the United States, he chose Michael Taylor. Michael Taylor is one of the most biased people in the history of the United States selection process. He is a former employee of Montsanto. From Montsanto he went to the FDA. At the FDA he oversaw the, ah, the fast tracking of genetically-modified, ah, Bovine hormone in the dairy, went back to Montsanto. He has been selected. We sent, around the country, thousands of e-mails to the White House ta- Clinton, to ah, Obama's blogsite to let them know, 'don't do this selection."
There, and we gave a list of ten other people who had no industry connections who have been great. He has not once selected a single Progressive who is not an industry lobbyist disguised as a Progressive in his administration. Now, nobody can make a hundred percent selection, all against the Progressive and Populist, as if he is somehow he is being forced or coerced by the politics of pressure. He has actively chosen these people.
What he did not count upon was that there would be so many failures and that he would then have to hold with his brilliant rhetoric and his great oratory skills. He would have to continue, as Clinton did, to feel people's pain to be still connected with them. He watches television. He watched television before he became elected. He was out on the campaign trail. He knows the real suffering. He had mastered the art of telling everyone else how well he was connected to their suffering. But he would be back to them once in the White House. Well friends, he hasn't come back. He has sided with oil. He has sided with the gas lobby. He has refused, as a human being coming from "your spiritual hand of God," he has refused to do a moratorium on home foreclosures.
The President of the United States, by himself, according to the Constitution lawyers, and there were nine of them in my office just today, nine, real progressives. James Turner is here, alright. These are the people he should have around him. He could call a moratorium and stop people from being thrown out of their house. He has chosen not to. He could have stopped the trading in exotic commodities, including derivatives and credit default swaps, the six hundred trillion dollar, in-, ah, industry. He has chosen not to.
He could ask people. He could go to the American public like FDR did and said, 'You know, friends I'm not trying to re-shift ah, power and money from the rich to the poor. But I certainly want people to be more equitably treated.' Why can't we ask ah, corporate America to set aside twenty percent of their total profit, instead of giving it to their executives, give it to their workers so they will have a better standard of living and be able to spend that in their communities. He has chosen not to. He has chosen to back genetically (sic) engineering. He has chosen to back, instead of universal health care, he has chosen to back the pharmaceutical companies and the Wall Street firms.
Now today it was announced that the Federal Reserve has refused to identify who it gave two trillion dollars of our money to. They're telling no one. Who did Obama pick to oversee all the financial matters in the United States and be the guardian of our interest? The head of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke!
The last person in the world you should ever choose to oversee this because he's the one who said that the Federal Reserve cannot be audited. You cannot look at our books. You cannot bring us in and ask us questions. We'll only tell you what we have to tell you by need, but not because you want it. So we have no, no oversight. And yet, ask the average person. Did you get helped in the TARP Plan? No. Are there more jobs? No. Do you have higher way, wage per hour? No. Are we preventing heart disease, cancer, diabetes? No.
Are we protecting our children from the ads on television, the predatory ads on television? No.
Well then, I have to say it is my contention and I stand by it that the people running for president are neither naïve nor are they weak in will, nor are they indecisive. They all come knowing the benefits of who gives them the power. The people give them the power to get elected and the corporate masters control the direction of that. And watch what happens when they get out of office, and who gives their foundations five hundred million dollars and who pays them $400,000 to come and give a stupid boring thirty-eight minute conversation before a group. They're not stupid. But we like to think that, my goodness, we gotta go protect them. And you're suggesting, and I understand where you're coming from and I respect it. You're suggesting that we, the people that supported progressives to get into a position of power, that we must now become radically active to remind them and to force them to pay attention. And I'm saying, that's like saying to someone if you take, if you make it no longer against the law to steal, who wouldn't be stealing? If you have to force people to be decent by the fear of judgment and the deterrence of jail, then you're dealing with the wrong people. And you're not going to reform anyone out of fear. And you're not going to form, reform anyone by the deterrence of being in prison. So, I think that if, unless we're looking at a President who says, 'you don't have to remind me of my obligations. I'm a spiritual person. I went to church.'
Now, i-, i-, if Christ were beside me in church, as a historical, allegorical or a religious character, he would have turned to me and said, 'you know, if you become president don't forget what I would have done. Because you're here in this church because of my words, the memory of what I lived for, the memory of what I died for. And that's why you're here. Otherwise, there's no purpose to be here. So live by my word.' I haven't once seen that done.
Your thoughts. Back to you.
CONVERSATIONS WITH REMARKABLE MINDS.
Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God and Spirit Matters.
His websites are www.tikkun.org and www.spiritualprogressives.org.
The Gary Null Show, 9-22-09, transcript excerpt of 1:54:00 to 2:04:48.
Rebroadcast on KPFK-90.7 FM radio, 10-14-09, 1:05 - 2 am and again 4 - 5 am.