Thanks again, Cal, for your characteristically perceptive and concise observations. And for starting this whole discussion, which has been most illuminating.
I'd like to comment briefly only on your last remark: about how the discussion of the health care crisis seems not to involve "us," the citizens, but is done by the government and that reform is going to be imposed on us from above. I think there is much truth to what you say, but I think the reason has less to do with Obama or with the arrogance of our governing class than with the realities of our democracy today--which is totally corrupted by money. Congressmen and senators now must spend so much time raising money to run a competitive campaign that they don't have time to pay attention to legislation, which is increasingly drafted by lobbyists who then tell the people who are supposed to represent us how they should vote--if they want that big campaign donation. So "our" reps are increasingly shills for the various lobbies: energy, pharmeceutical, hospital, auto, etc. It's not just solutions to the health care crisis that are being rammed down our throats, it's also policy on banking and finance, the environment, defense and foreign wars, and everything else. I commend to your collective attention the following Washington Post article by former Senator Fritz Hollings that tells it as it is: Stop the Money Chase.
The only way to break this disastrous situation is to insist on complete public financing of all elections, so that private contributions to candidates are illegal and all candidates have the same amount to spend on an election. Maybe it will only be then that we can have sane policies that make sense for all Americans, not just those interest groups that can throw tens of millions at our representatives.
Best to you all!