May 09
Lorraine Berry lives in the Fingerlakes region of New York, although it's her transplanted home. On weekends, she can be heard throughout the area, cheering on her beloved Manchester City F.C. When not writing at Does This Make Sense? or Talking Writing, she can be found hiking with her two dogs, hanging out with her two daughters, eating what her beloved Rob has cooked for her, or teaching creative writing at a small college in the area.


JANUARY 4, 2010 9:56AM

Are You Getting Thrown Under the Bus?

Rate: 38 Flag



Oh, how I struggle with this issue. It's not clear cut for me, and anyone who is reading this blog post thinking that I'm going to present a cogent, totally rational, black-and-white argument is going to be sorely disappointed (and probably doesn't know me very well anyway, since grey is an essential part of my palette). 

It's about being thrown under the bus.

And yes, I know we've talked about it before. 

I learned a lot about the whole concept, especially from Jon Henner, who has reminded me, again, and again, that feminists, like gays, cannot deny their solidarity with the disabled when it becomes politically expedient. 

I just want to say that when it comes to the Health Care Bill, there's been far too much political expediency; too much graft; too many fat cats eating far too many little mice; and too many people on the streets, scared to death that, because they perceive limited health care benefits pie, it's they who are going to lose their slice in order to accommodate other's fair shares. 

Oy. I'm so tired right now I don't want to go on.

I must go on. 

A group of allies, concerned about this issue have put together a Web Site that aggregates much of the information and disinformation about who gets what from whom under the new Health Care Bill.

And let's be honest. SOME people will benefit. Depending on which talking head you listen to on the television, as few as (italics are for irony) five-to-ten million people will be left w/o health insurance. Well, hell, that's not very many people. Sort of the population of New York, give or take a borough, but let's not get technical. 

So, rather than attempt the type of serious, analytical work that some of our most talented OSers are renowned for, I need to go back to the personal. I have two stories to tell. 

 On December 29, I told you the story of the young woman, who, despite obvious pain and misery, was not able to afford to buy essential prescription drugs because she was broken. 

I felt, as one commenter reminded me, as if I had witnessed a human rights violation. If we are capable of alleviating pain, and we refuse to do so on the basis of cold, hard, meaningless paper, what does that say about us as a society? Why do we pay for war, to kill people, to kill our own, and balk to preserve health?


What is it about the control of bodies that motivates us so? 

The second issue is directly related to the first, and it deals with one, specific decision to deny healthcare to a particular population--fecund females--who might find themselves with unwanted pregnancies. Doesn't matter how they got that way. Our new healthcare rules say that, even if you can find a health care insurance company, unless you're willing to pay for a rider, you can't get your abortion covered.

How dare our legislators decide what medical decisions are worthy of their advise and consent? As Senator Boxer asked, "Why is there no Viagra rider?" It's okay to do the deed? But we're not paying for the consequences? 

And that leads me to the deeply personal on all of this, of something that still makes me angry each time I think of it, and for which I'm still awaiting an apology. (And yes, I know I'll be and old woman, but I'm trying not to hold a grudge. Honest. They don't become me. They make that deep line between my eyes look like the Marianas Trench)


Have you ever heard a tree full of cicadas in full voice? As you move, the sound skips and jumps, reverberates; you can feel it under your skin. It can be highly disturbing.

This was part of a letter I wrote in 2006 to Dan Savage. Savage, a well-known gay activist and sex columnist and Editor of Seattle's The Stranger had asked all of his allies to send money to Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, in Casey's (successful) bid to upset Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. The problem was, and Savage admitted it, Casey was virulently anti-choice. And while Savage knew this was a problem, he asked his allies to overlook this fact because, as he saw it, if we all "swallowed hard," put a few anti-choice Democrats in the House and Senate, well they'd still be anti-choice but the Dems would be in the majority and party discipline would hold them together. Savage continued to cleave to that idea even after Casey sent Savage back his campaign contribution, afraid that accepting funds from Savage would send a message to supporters that he supported the gay agenda. 

We have seen how well it has worked out for all of us center-left that we've put conservative Democrats into positions of power. 

We see it especially in the Health Care Bill, where there's quite a few of us who are about to get run over by the bus we were thrown under to garner the support of men and women who have inflated views of their own power, and the supposedly powerful who allowed them to hold on to those illusions. 

(Guess whose name is on the anti-choice parts of the health care bill? Yep. You got it. Bob Casey)


Here's what I want to say to those of us who are trying to be allies: womanists, humanists, feminists, religious liberals, gays, lesbians, the disabled, People of Color,. We have things that we have in common. They are our basic civil and human rights. Can we please make a pact among ourselves that we are not willing to trade away some other group's basic rights in order to secure our own?

It just doesn't seem to be working.

LBJ may have said it was better to have people pissing inside your tent, (actually, Rob just corrected me. The correct quotation is: Actually, "It's probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.") but if we don't stop pissing all over each other, we're just going to wind up wet, stinky, and ostracized. 

I know that the supposed beauty of the D's is that it tries to be all things to all people and therefore winds up being nothing to nobody. And yes, I know, my papers are pending. But since the Republicans have got nothing to offer me, and there's no Third Party on the Horizon, I'm just trying to make sure, that at least for this ride, this Health Care ride, that we all take turns holding on to one another, fighting to keep each other strapped on, sat down, tied down--if need be--but not, never, ever under the bus.

Will you join me?

And most important, will you consider doing two things? 

I've talked a little about the concept of being thrown under the bus. 

Would you consider writing your own blog post about what this term means to you?

And will you consider contacting your representatives today and telling them that you need to have them stop and take a recount of who is on the bus, because you're sure we lost a few people back around that corner?

Please add this to your essential reading list today.  I thank you.  Let's see how far this bill gets

I thank you for your time today. 

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Lorraine, Lorraine. This sickens me.

I am keeping my eye on 2 bills: S2904 and H 4386 - These are bills proposed, respectively by Sen. Franken (MN) and Rep. Michaud (ME) - Olympia Snowe is on board too - gotta appear bipartisan...

The bills are lodged in committee (Armed Services committees in both houses) after being submitted under the shadowy darkness of night know as the Health Care bill.

Both provide for emergency contraception to be REQUIRED at military bases: and

I have written my respective congress people to NOT LET THIS FALL THROUGH THE CRACKS. This is important in that, I believe, if we can get this legislation through, it will be a step forward not just for our women in the military - but for women's health altogether.

Since the military is a government entity it is vital to crack that "no federal funding of abortion" horseshit. This is a step in the right direction.

I have posted this on OS, facebook, and encouraged friends to pass it around and contact the co-sponsors of these bills in respective districts and states, as well as any other Rep or Senator to encourage them - wait - demand they see these bills through.
Where's your Open Salon link? I'll add it to the bottom of this post? Too important to let go of, I think.
How do you do it? You write these essays that clarify complicated issues and also inspire thought and action.
I'm not sure what I am capable of, but hope others will contributre to this important open call.
At some point I NEED to write about health care in Massachusetts, which is oh so different from the rest of the country.
Thanks, always.
This was a great and much needed post. I'll definitely march in the streets for abortion rights, LGBT rights, rights of the disabled , and well just Human Rights...etc. Allowing the powers that be do what is political expedient at the cost of another is horrible. We should have never and shouldn't let them continue to set these horrible terms. Thanks for your post!
Link is broken at bottom of your page?
Link is broken at bottom of your page?
Fixed the broken link, Andy. Sorry about that. And yes, Jane. I agree. I know it's time to take to the streets, but I've been trying to figure out the logistics of how you organize massive street protests. Hell, I'd like to see a general strike. Can you imagine? The country shuts down for a day and says "hell no!' to all this bullshit?
I agree that it will be better if we all stick together and demand rights for all. Perhaps Savage felt betrayed by Democrats who wimped out on gay marriage (through fear of how it was used in 2004), and he thought that in the scheme of things it would work to put some anti-choice Democrats in.
I live in MS. There is one abortion clinic. It is in Jackson. There is a 24-hour waiting period, meaning you go through a line of protesters twice and need gas money and a ride to get there twice--once for counseling, once for the procedure. I got information about starting up a fund where people could help pay for a poor woman's abortion (some are able to go to neighboring states if they live near there), but with work on a new homeless ministry, I don't know what I can do. Keep in mind that there are security risks to doing anything. It would need to be well-thought out. I don't think that in the area where I live I have even ONE pro-choice friend.
This was a very good post.
Thank you very much for this excellently written, needed, yet grievously informative piece. The compromises that have already been struck as a result of this last election cycle are devastatingly disappointing to so many of us who rallied the troops believing we were about to see paradigm shifts of change.

Compromises like you have described must become anathema to us long before they touch our own personal interests. We must loathe them when they affect the lives of others even if we remain unscathed for the time being.

I deeply appreciate the labor of love you devote yourself to in these kinds of causes. The sent folder on my e-mail is full of messages to our representatives expressing what you have articulated here so well.

Rated and appreciated.
Delia, Thanks for doing such brave work. Seriously. I admire the hell out of women who must take chances to make sure that other women have access to HEALTHCARE.

Jill, What was that famous line? We must all stand together or we'll hang separately? I feel as if certain groups are canaries in the coal mine in our society. So far, there are a lot of dead canaries, and STILL not a lot of people are paying attention, perhaps because they're afraid they'll be next?

Alison--I do it because I neglect the other things. I don't do housework. I have a supportive partner. I'm nothing special. I just feel as if I don't write these things, I'll explode. It's self-preservation.
I always feel humbled by your praise. I'm glad I can help you get letters out. I know that one of my skills lies in getting people aware of an issue. I may not be a very good manager of things, but I can talk. So I do. I guess if we all use our talents to come together, then we can accomplish great things. Thank you for your presence here.
So, I'm a straight male, no religion at all, and I support the right of all humans to live the life they choose, with the condition that I also get the same. I've called my senators and representatives both state and federal that they know my name and ask how my family is. So far the problem I find is that while they pay a lot of lip service to me, and my opinions, they have to curry favor with the money men to keep their position so in the end no matter what they tell me personally, they vote just like most people do, with their pocket books firmly in command. The entirety of the anti-abortion forces lies in religious beliefs. Holding any bill or basing any law on such is a direct endorsement of those religions by the government and is in opposition to the constitution of the United States. The restrictions on Gays is also based in religious beliefs, making laws that restrict the rights of gay people also unconstitutional. The people are free to have whatever religious beliefs they wish. Without restriction. They may not base any laws on things that are only wrong in the eyes of religion. So how can the people get the government out of the business of enforcing morals that do not injure anyone? Things that only affect the people involved and do not infringe on any one else's rights are not now or have they within the scope of the governments legislative power. The claim that taxes should not be used to fund programs or to support actions that people find objectionable is invalid. Otherwise my own taxes spent on the current war in Iraq should be refunded and put into programs to feed, provide health care, shelter, and other personal needs of the poor and underemployed. I know that it seems pointless but do what I do and let every elected representative know that this is the case and you do not support the positions that religions are demanding in the case of the rights of other citizens.
I have written here and elsewhere about the healthcare reform that isn't. One reason it isn't is because party affiliation isn't -- unless you're a Republican, where follow the leader is the name of the game.

RINO was coined to disparage Republicans who dare to have a mind of their own, and I think we ought to use DINO to describe Democrats who have the mind of their own -- but it's too often a Republican mind.

In short, the traditional labels don't fit anymore, especially since the R's have purged themselves of anyone to the left of Limbaugh, and people who used to run as moderate R's are now forced to run as immoderate D's.
I've rated. Will be back to formulate a comment that is not downright stupid, in relation to the serious and pithy other comments, not to mention the brilliance of this post!
Thank you for posting this Lorraine.

I am sharing this with everyone I can. It's too important to ignore.

Keep up the fight. I know there are a lot of people there in the trenches ...
Wonderful post. I want to call attention to those suffering from mental illness. Yes, some parity laws have been passed, but they only apply to people whose companies employ more than 20 people. Also, they sharply curtail your choice of psychiatrists. My Oxford Plan has a $50 per visit co-pay. Neither my long-term therapist or psychiatrist are covered, so we wind up paying out of pocket and go far less than I might otherwise. Medicare's coverage of mental illness requires a large co-pay as well. Too many psychiatrists prescribe new drugs when there is no strong evidence they work better than generics.
First of all, Lorraine please take care of yourself... PLEASE? We need you here and if you keep pushing yourself too hard then you are going to get sick and THAT would be a huge tragedy for many of us. K? (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know... now I'm being an old woman...)

As for me, and like I posted previously ( ), I am no longer willing to compromise and accept "well, at least they are better than the other guy".

I am only willing to accept, vote for and financially support candidates that will vote for true social reform and won't compromise.

When I wrote the cited post the Health Care Reform Bill was still viable, so I concentrated my comments to those regarding LGBTQ rights. That has changed. I now have expanded to ANYTHING that smacks of conservative asshatism.

You keep going, girl (within reason) and keep pushing and remember that there are a lot of people pushing along with you (so stop trying to do it all by yourself!)
As usual, so well said there is little to add except that I am and have been on the case and am right here if anyone wants to take to the streets and just dump the joint. Otherwise, what Zumalicious said. All that. Rated and saluted!
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, it's time to take to the streets. Excellent post, Lorraine. xox
I share your frustration. If I could choose where my money went to support my moral causes, it would not support the war. It would be feeding the hungry, housing the shelter-less, aiding those in need. And yet, we've let religion creep into the process. Again, I blame the "let the conservative Dems in" crowd, because when John Roberts and Alito were confirmed, it was what I call the Vichy 10, Dems who voted with the Republicans, who confirmed these men who see the Bible and the Constitution as inseperable. I don't know where the answers lie.
"Can we please make a pact among ourselves that we are not willing to trade away some other group's basic rights in order to secure our own?

It just doesn't seem to be working."

amen to that
funny how we legislate matters of faith, but only when it means imposing restrictions on someone. Don't most churches claim to feed the hungry, house and clothe the poor? And we don't make it law that our governments do that, first?

"scared to death that, because they perceive limited health care benefits pie, it's they who are going to lose their slice in order to accommodate other's fair shares"

rated for that

oh, and for taking to the streets, as I just commented elsewhere, we should have more unemployment - then we'll have enough people with nothing else to do or lose to provoke a revolt.
I just went to that website and I have to say this immediately:

Get that stupid fucking flash insert off your banner as soon as possible.

It is a MAJOR mistake to put that shit into your banner. It subtly turns off a great many people who don't even know why they are feeling that way.

Replace it was a static picture and I guarantee you will get better results.
Agree with Sage on the banner...flashing banners say Vegas to me...xox
I have to say, there's nothing I love more than constructive criticism. I didn't design the website; it's not my project; I'm not the graphic designer. Perhaps you'd be happier dropping them a note telling them to get the "stupid flashing insert" off the site.
Thanks for commenting on the substance of the blog post. That was most helpful.
Have a great 2010.
I can't participate in writing to the politicians since I'm not American, but I do support your passion and persistence in this essential matter.
Thank you for raising my awareness on this.
Ho hum: Smart, passionate, and compassionate as usual.
Great article. Rated!

Considering that the US of A is currently more corrupt than what certain garbage-mouthed talk show hosts like to call a "turd-world nation", it's a wonder that health care reform has gotten anywhere at all.

Considering that our "news media" are more dumbed down than at any time in our history and that "news" and "commentary" from many sources is actually radical-right propaganda and outrageous lies, it's a wonder that opposition to needed reforms among Americans isn't totally unanimous.

Will whatever lands on President Obama's desk at least allow for improvements and new reforms to be added by state governments, etc? If not, then it's a good thing that international airline ticket prices have gotten cheaper.
Thank you for continuing to argue this case even though you're tired. You are one of the few intelligent and compassionate voices on the matter. I really appreciate it.

Rated for good sense.
Fingerlake, you make a few understandable errors. The fear that health care is a zero sum game is true. It is because in 21st Century America, health care, supported by the health insurance industry, is a for-profit enterprise. If more people are required to buy insurance, and insurance companies cannot deny coverage to the sick or previously sick, then their profits will shrink. To offset the shrinkage, insurance companies will find even more ways to deny procedures and tests. They do it now with impunity and they will find ways to continue to deny services.

Democrats are not united and they will never be. It is the nature of progressives to THINK through issues and candidates. Sharon Begley, in the Dec 21 issue of Newsweek, said it best:

"There is a long list of differences between liberals or Democrats and conservatives or Republicans. The former are generally more open to new experiences and ideas...The latter tend to be more conscientious, more energetic, and more emotionally stable...the personality traits predict voting decisions more strongly than age or gender."

What is most fascinating, though, is how the Republicans self-identify as Christians and use that bias to deny coverage for certain procedures. They seem to forget that the New Testament mandate calls for Christians to take care of the poor, the homeless, the widows and orphans, the hungry, the sick.

The progressives are accused of godless hedonism, yet they are the ones who heed the mandate without the mantle of religion. They do so simply because it is the right thing to do.
This marvelously illustrates the complexities of politics. It's interesting to watch two thoughtful people like Joan Walsh and Howard Dean arrive a different conclusions regarding the health care bill. For any bill passing through Congress, a threshold for support or rejection must be set -- an enormously difficult task. Nowhere is the arduousness of that task better exemplified than in health care.