Saturday, March 13, 2010

Congressman Dennis Kucinich Responds to Attacks from Kos of DailyKos

By FireDogLake's fflambeau FDL

In an interview by Amy Goodman over at, Congressman Dennis Kucinich responds to attacks on him by the founder of DailyKos. Kos, it might be recalled, during the Democratic primaries in 2008 never once addressed issues raised by DK but preferred to call him "ugly" and put #!# after his name, like swear words. This is the same guy who spoke approvingly of the CIA and indicated in a San Francisco speech (below), that he wanted to join them.

From Amy Goodman’s and Juan Gonzalez’s interview with Dennis Kucinich at

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Congressman, on the issue of healthcare, you’ve come under intense criticism by some commentators. Earlier this week, Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the website Daily Kos, appeared on MSNBC and slammed you for threatening to vote against the Democrats’ healthcare reform bill.

MARKOS MOULITSAS: [I’m going to hold] people like Dennis Kucinich responsible for the 40,000 Americans that die each year from a lack of healthcare. And I don’t care if you’re a Republican or you’re a conservative Democrat or you’re somebody like Dennis Kucinich. The fact is, this does a heck of a lot for a lot of people. And like I said, it’s not perfect, it definitely needs to be improved, but it’s a first step. And God knows, it’s taken us a long time to even get our toe in the door, given the corporate interests that are arrayed against any kind of real reform. So I think this is a first step. It’s definitely not the end of the path. It’s not the ideal solution. But we are—our foot’s in the door. And if somebody like Kucinich wants to block that, I find that completely reprehensible.

And he’s elected, not to run for president, which he seems to do every four years. He’s not elected to grandstand and to—and to give us this ideal utopian society. He’s elected to represent the people of his district, and he’s not representing the uninsured constituents in his district by pretending to take the high ground here. What he’s doing, he’s undermining this reform. He’s making common cause with the Republicans. And I think that’s a perfect excuse and a rationale for a primary challenge.

JUAN GONZALEZ: That was Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos. Congressman Kucinich, your response?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, you know, I brought the issue of single-payer healthcare before three separate meetings of the Democratic Platform Committee. I brought it into two presidential campaigns to raise the bar about what’s possible. Now I made a compromise when I backed the public option and voted for it in committee. I also had an amendment passed that would protect the rights of states to proceed with a single-payer approach at a state level. Each step along the way, I’ve shown a willingness to try to work with the White House so that we can have meaningful healthcare reform. I signed a letter, along with seventy-seven other members of Congress, saying that I would not vote for the bill unless it had a robust public option. At this point, I’m the only one left standing who has kept that pledge.

I think that we have to ask ourselves why we would have a circumstance where, you know, a week or two before a vote would come, that it would be said that this is going to come down to a single member of Congress, who stands for healthcare for all, Medicare for all, who stands for a public option, who stands to protect right of states, to pursue it, and yet, we should sweep all that aside in favor of a bill that gives the insurance companies a lock on health insurance in America, privatizes the health insurance—$70 billion-a-year subsidy to the insurance industry.

I mean, I have a responsibility to take a stand here on behalf of those who want a public option. There’s about thirty-four members of the Senate, at least, who have signed on to saying they support a public option. If I were to just concede right now and say, “Well, you know, whatever you want. All this pressure’s building. Just forget about it,” actually weakens every last-minute bit of negotiations that would try to improve the bill. So I think that it’s really critical to take this stand, because without it, there’s no real control over premiums. Without it, we have nothing in the bill except the privatization of our healthcare system.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Could you talk about the pressure that the members of the Progressive Caucus received on this issue and the pressure that you’ve received in recent weeks?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Listen, I’m out in my district all the time. You know, I’ve held town hall meetings in my district on healthcare over the years. I spoke to the Democratic annual dinner for Cuyahoga County on Sunday, and I laid my program out in exactly what I—you know, why I feel the way I do about this bill. And people listen.

I think pressure comes when you’re not really sure where you stand. Pressure comes when you’re willing to try to cut a deal for the sake of making a deal. You know, I’m ready to listen to the White House, if the White House is ready to listen to the concerns about putting a public option in this bill. I mean, they can do that. You know, they’re still cutting last-minute deals. Put the public option back in. Make it a robust public option. Give the people a chance to really negotiate rates with the insurance companies, where—from the standpoint of having a public option. But don’t just tell the people that you’re going to call this healthcare reform, when you’re giving insurance companies an even more powerful monopoly status in our economy.

I think that these questions are important to be asked. I have not—I’ve never been intransigent. I’ve always been able to try to find a way to work things out. But, you know, it’s a two-way street. The White House has a responsibility to produce a bill that is worthy of supporting. And you can’t say it’s taking a step in the right direction if what you’re doing is taking a step towards increasing privatization of the healthcare system.

AMY GOODMAN: President Obama—

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: You know, this is no more a—

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Kucinich, President Obama says that the Senate bill does include single-payer language. He was talking about a provision by Senator Bernie Sanders which would allow states to use federal money to set up a single-payer system years down the road. What do you think of that?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, it provides for a waiver; it doesn’t grant the waiver. And it takes effect 2017. But by then, we’ll already have a system in place that will be very difficult to move out of. And it doesn’t cure the attack that insurance companies can make on state plans using the Employee—the ERISA Act. And so, my amendment that was passed in committee would have protected states from illegal challenge by insurance companies. The Sanders amendment doesn’t do that, so you still have the problem that, no matter what reforms are enacted, can be knocked out. I mean, I talked to the President personally about this. I’ve met with the President three times on this bill. The White House knows my position.

AMY GOODMAN: Were you included in any of the summits on healthcare? Like, were any single-payer advocates?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: No, I asked—I asked to attend. I was not granted that request.

Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the millionaire behind DailyKos, grew up as as a self-professed Reagan youth, signed up to work for the CIA but claimed he didn’t want to work for them because it involved moving to Washington, D.C. to work for the Dean campaign:

Here’s a little secret I don’t think I’ve ever written about: But in 2001, I was unemployed, underemployed, unemployed. You know I was in that . . You all have been there “dot com” people? Kinda like, in between jobs, doin’ a little contract work and . . . kinda. So, you know. That’s where I was: in this really horrible netherworld of ‘will I make rent next month’ and . . .

So, I applied to the CIA and I went all the way to the end, I mean it was to the point where I was going to sign papers to become Clandestine Services. And it was at that point that the Howard Dean campaign took off and I had to make a decision whether I was gonna kinda join the Howard Dean campaign, that whole process, or was I was going to become a spy.

A You Tube video clip of Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (AKA "Kos") making these remarks and praising the CIA (the CIA’s a "very liberal institution" and "wants to make the world a better place") to California’s Commonwealth Club in June, 2006, is available here.

Maybe someone should ask Kos the question that Jane Hamsher put to Lonny Davis: who pays you?