Progressive Calendar 11.29.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Sat, 28 Nov 2009 08:06:26 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   11.28.09

1. Peace walk            11.28 9am Cambridge MN
2. What would Jesus buy? 11.28 10:30am
3. CUAPB                 11.28 1:30pm
4. Northtown vigil       11.28 2pm
5. Honduras concert      11.28 7pm
6. Shopocalypse now!     11.28 7pm
7. Boycott Israel/CTV    11.28 9pm

8. Amy Goodman           11.29 12noon
9. Stillwater vigil      11.29 1pm
10. Rev Billy revival    11.29 2pm
11. Marty/gov/health/950 11.29 3pm

12. Jeff Cohen         - Triangulation: get ready for Obama/GOP alliance
13. Missy Beattie      - Finish the job? The ultimate in degradation
14. Alexander Cockburn - The auld triangle goes jingle jangle
15. Franklin Spinney   - Obama as LBJ: ecalation & the descent into chaos
16. Shamus Cooke       - The devastating corporate health insurance bill
17. ed                 - Barack who?   (haiku)

--------1 of 17--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 11.28 9am Cambridge MN

every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM
Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street

--------2 of 17--------

From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at]>
Subject: What would Jesus buy? 11.28 10:30am

Reverend Billy & The Church of Life After Shopping

Screening of What Would Jesus Buy? with Appearance by Reverend Billy
Saturday, November 28, 2009
10:30 a.m. (doors at 10:00 a.m.)
<>Riverview Theater, 
 42nd Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN
Would Jesus Buy?

This 2007 docu-comedy film, What Would Jesus Buy?, produced by Morgan
Spurlock of Super Size Me, and directed by Rob VanAlkemade, follows the
trials and triumphs of the Reverend Billy, a man on a mission, as he
travels across the U.S. to preach and sing, helping holiday-stressed
Americans find a new Christmas without "big box" products. Some of the
footage was shot in 2005 at the Mall of America, with many Twin Cities
believers appearing in an impromptu demonstration.

--------3 of 17--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: CUAPB 11.28 1:30pm

Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

--------4 of 17--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 11.28 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday

--------5 of 17--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Honduras concert 11.28 7pm

Solidarity with Honduras Concert

Saturday, November 28, 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. La Vina Restaurant, 3010 4th
Street, Minneapolis. Join others at a concert to raise funds for the
resistance in Honduras. The people are standing up to the U.S. supported
dictator and have asked for support. The bands playing include: Pachamama,
Jumpship and Carlos Yamil Lumbi. Suggested Donation: $10.00. Organized by:
the Hands Off Honduras Coalition. Endorsed by: the Anti-War Committee and
WAMM. FFI: Visit

--------6 of 17--------

From: Catherine Statz <statz001 [at]>
Subject: Shopocalypse now! 11.28 7pm

Reverend Billy will be the guest of honor at the Shopocalypse Now!,
Saturday, Nov. 28, 7 p.m. at the <> House of Balls,
212 Third Avenue North in the Minneapolis Warehouse District.

--------7 of 17--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Boycott Israel/CTV 11.28 9pm

Minneapolis Television Network (MTN) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and
Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow!  Households with basic cable may

Saturday, 11/28, 9pm and Tues, 12/8, 8am
"Omar Barghouti: The Need to Boycott Israel, Part 2"

Omar Barghouti is an independent Palestinian researcher, commentator, and
founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural
Boycott of Israel (PACBI).  Barghouti spoke in an open public discussion
at the University of Minnesota.

--------8 of 17--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Amy Goodman 11.29 12noon

A Talk by Amy Goodman: Breaking the Sound Barrier
Sunday, November 29, Noon to 2:00 p.m. University of Minnesota, Cowles
Auditorium, 301 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis.

KFAI is proud to present renowned journalist, author and host of
^”Democracy Now,^‘ Amy Goodman as part of the KFAI Speaker Series.
Following the speaking engagement, Amy will be signing her new book,
Breaking the Sound Barrier, a collection of essays and articles covering a
variety of topics, including war, the economy, the environment, and much
more. Tickets: $10.00 (advance);$12.00 (at the door). Sponsored by: KFAI
Radio. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Visit

--------9 of 17--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 11.29 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------10 of 17--------

From: Diane J. Peterson <birch7 [at]>
Subject: Rev Billy revival 11.29 2pm

Reverend Billy - What would Jesus buy guy. St. Paul Revival Meeting
Sunday, November 29.  2:00 p.m.
John B. Davis Auditorium, Macalester College 1600 Grand Avenue, Saint
Paul, MN No admission charge; offering will be taken.

For More Information:  612-332-3992

[It's high time St Paul got saved! Hallelujah!]

--------11 of 17--------

From: "Of the People" <info [at]>
Subject: Marty/gov/health 11.29 3pm

John Marty for Governor!
Find out why and how you can and should support the one candidate who not
only will not block the people's march toward real Single Payer Health
Care, but will lead the charge.

James Mayer Of the People with James Mayer
this Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 3PM
AM950 KTNF or

Sen. John Marty
He won't be manipulated, wrangled, or sell out on the issue of health care
reform.  As the author of the MN Health Plan, a bold initiative to ensure
that all Minnesotans have access to affordable health care, Sen. John
Marty has worked passionately for the people.  He has been a tireless
voice for government reform and continues pressing for legislation to end
the clout of special interest money. [Sounds "Un-American" to me! -ed]

Listen and learn why it is imperative to your health that John Marty is
voted as the next governor of Minnesota.  Find out how you can help his
campaign.  Call him with your questions.

For more information, visit his web site at

Join us on Of the People with James Mayer this Sunday, November 29, 2009
at 3 p.m. on AM950 KTNF or, if out of the broadcast area, stream us at .

--------12 of 17--------

The Return of Triangulation
Get Ready for the Obama / GOP Alliance
November 26, 2009

With Obama pushing a huge troop escalation in Afghanistan, history may
well repeat itself with a vengeance. And it's not just the apt comparison
to LBJ, who destroyed his presidency on the battlefields of Vietnam with
an escalation that delivered power to Nixon and the GOP.

There's another frightening parallel: Obama seems to be following in the
footsteps of Bill Clinton, who accomplished perhaps his single biggest
legislative "triumph" - NAFTA - thanks to an alliance with Republicans
that overcame strong Democratic and grassroots opposition.

It was 16 years ago this month when Clinton assembled his coalition with
the GOP to bulldoze public skepticism about the trade treaty and overpower
a stop-NAFTA movement led by unions, environmentalists and consumer rights
groups. How did Clinton win his majority in Congress? With the votes of
almost 80 percent of GOP senators and nearly 70 percent of House
Republicans. Democrats in the House voted against NAFTA by more than 3 to
2, with fierce opponents including the Democratic majority leader and
majority whip.

To get a majority today in Congress on Afghanistan, the Obama White House
is apparently bent on a strategy replicating the tragic farce that Clinton
pulled off: Ignore the informed doubts of your own party while making
common cause with extremist Republicans who never accepted your presidency
in the first place.

"Deather" conspiracists are not new to the Grand Old Party. Clinton
engendered a similar loathing on the right despite his centrist,
corporate-friendly policies. When conservative Republican leaders like
Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey delivered to Clinton (and corporate elites)
the NAFTA victory, it didn't slow down rightwing operatives who circulated
wacky videos accusing Clinton death squads of murdering reporters and

For those who elected Obama, it's important to remember the downward
spiral that was accelerated by Clinton's GOP alliance to pass NAFTA. It
should set off alarm bells for us today on Afghanistan.

NAFTA was quickly followed by the debacle of Clinton healthcare "reform"
largely drafted by giant insurance companies, which was followed by a
stunning election defeat for Congressional Democrats in November 1994, as
progressive and labor activists were lethargic while rightwing activists
in overdrive put Gingrich into the Speaker's chair.

A year later, advised by his chief political strategist Dick Morris (yes,
the Obama-basher now at Fox), Clinton declared: "The era of big government
is over". In the coming years, Clinton proved that the era of big business
was far from over - working with Republican leaders to grant corporate
welfare to media conglomerates (1996 Telecom Act) and investment banks
(1999 abolition of the Glass-Steagall Act).

Today, it's crucial to ask where Obama is heading. From the stimulus to
healthcare, he's shown a Clinton-like willingness to roll over
progressives in Congress on his way to corrupt legislation and frantic
efforts to compromise for the votes of corporate Democrats or "moderate"
Republicans. Meanwhile, the incredible shrinking "public option" has
become a sick joke.

As he glides from retreats on civil liberties to health reform that
appeases corporate interests to his Bush-like pledge this week to "finish
the job" in Afghanistan, an Obama reliance on Congressional Republicans to
fund his troop escalation could be the final straw in disorienting and
demobilizing the progressive activists who elected him a year ago.

Throughout the centuries, no foreign power has been able to "finish the
job" in Afghanistan, but President Obama thinks he's a tough enough
Commander-in-Chief to do it. Too bad he hasn't demonstrated such toughness
in the face of obstructionist Republicans and corporate lobbyists. For
them, it's been more like "compromiser-in-chief".

When you start in the center (on, say, healthcare or Afghanistan) and
readily move rightward several steps to appease rightwing politicians or
lobbyists or Generals, by definition you are governing as a conservative.

It's been a gradual descent from the elation and hope for real change many
Americans felt on election night, November 2008. For some of us who'd
scrutinized the Clinton White House in the early 1990s, the buzz was
killed days after Obama's election when he chose his chief of staff, Rahm
Emanuel, a top Clinton strategist and architect of the alliance that
pushed NAFTA through Congress.

If Obama stands tough on more troops to Afghanistan (as Clinton fought
ferociously for NAFTA), only an unprecedented mobilization of progressives
- including many who worked tirelessly to elect Obama - will be able to
stop him. Trust me: The Republicans who yell and scream about Obama budget
deficits when they're obstructing public healthcare will become deficit
doves in spending the estimated $1 million per year per new soldier (not
to mention private contractors) headed off to Asia.

The only good news I can see: Maybe it will take a White House/GOP
alliance over Afghanistan to wake up the base of liberal groups (like
MoveOn) to take a closer and more critical look at President Obama.s

Jeff Cohen is an associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College and
former board member of Progressive Democrats of America. He can be reached
through his website.

[When Clinton went for NAFTA in 1994, I left the national Dems. I also
concluded the president was never again going to do anything good for the
people. I have seen no exceptions to this since 1994. National Dems
haven't passed anything good since then either; I have left them too, and
urge others to do so too. We need movements and third parties;  so long as
people cling to the Dems like ticks in May, nothing good will happen. -ed]

--------13 of 17--------

The Ultimate in Degradation
Finish the Job?
November 26, 2009

I received an email from the Friends Committee on National Legislation,
urging me to call the White House and voice my opinion about additional
troops to Afghanistan. Recently, I decided no more of this waste-of-time
bullshit. But I needed to vent. I had just read the article in which Obama
said he intends to "finish the job that began with the overthrow of the
Taliban government in the fall of 2001". (The New York Times, Nov. 24,
2009 by Zeleny and Stout)

"Finish the job" sounds so very George Bushian, sort of like "Mission
Accomplished" or "You're either with us or against us," or "We're fightin'
'em over there so we don't have to fight 'em over here". You know, those
imbecilic utterances to which you had such a visceral reaction you thought
you might heave and expel the entire contents of your gastrointestinal

So, when I read Obama's in-the-same-category bluster - his prelude to a
new and winning strategy, I reached for the phone and waited, on hold,
because apparently, so many people had the same impulse and were calling
the White House.

Four troops were just killed in Afghanistan - another in Iraq. Five
families have heard the "We regret to inform you". Five families are in a
nightmare of shock, agony, and disbelief, thinking, hoping, that maybe
there's some mistake.

"This isn't real. No, no, no," over and over they will say for not just
days and months, but years. "Please, this can't be real".

And this raises the absent-from-mainstream reportage about all the Afghan
families, Iraqi, and, now, Pakistani, who have lost loved ones in this
cataclysmic and opportunistic grab for power and resources, launched under
the guise of avenging 9/11 and ridding the world of terrorism.

In Iraq, the number of dead civilians exceeds a million while a United
Nations report informs that in the first 10 months of 2009, over 2000
Afghan civilians were killed.

Yet, the Afghanistan conflict is the "right war" that our president is
going to "finish" by sending more troops to motivate greater hatred of the
United States, our country whose imperialistic foreign policy demands that
all politicians say "God Bless America" at the end of every speech.

It is our hubris and reprehensible US doctrine of dictating to the rest of
the world when to inhale and exhale along with a disregard for anyone
considered The Other that compelled me to phone and, then, to wait. I
heard a recording, that I was holding for the next comment operator. "Your
call is important to the President. Thank you for your patience".

"I'm not patient," I wanted to scream. Truth is I'm pretty effing far from
patient. And, yet, I stayed on the line.

Finally, a volunteer answered. I told her I was calling to state my
opposition to a troop increase and that I wanted, instead, troop
withdrawal. I could feel myself, building up, up, up to a crescendo of
words and emotions that I knew would never be considered:

For military families and for the people of Afghanistan, and not just that
country but Iraq and Pakistan, I want an end to the violence that is war.

And the operator said, "I will pass this on to the President".

"Where it will be ignored," I said.

Barack Obama's plan is to "dismantle and degrade" our enemies. But the
real and present consequence of our acts of mass destruction are
dismantling and degrading not just our country but also our humanity.

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public
Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush
Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families
for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her
nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,'05, she
has been writing political articles. She can be reached at:
Missybeat [at]

--------14 of 17--------

The Auld Triangle Goes Jingle Jangle
November 27 - 29, 2009

Obama's dipped below 50 percent in public approval, which - so the
pollsters tell us - is nothing particularly unusual for a new president at
this stage of the game. Next week, he's scheduled to announce that that
he's ordering 34,000 more troops to head for Afghanistan.

I heard someone on NPR say this was Obama's straddle between General Stan
McChrystal's original demand for 50,000 troops and those who have been
imploring Obama to nix further deployments and bring all the troops home.
In other words we have a typical Obama compromise, making gestures
designed to please everybody, but all the while intent upon going along
with Business as Usual. Take his performance on Guantnamo. Pledge to close
it down, then drag your feet, continue secret renditions of captives to
other prisons like Bagram and finally engineer the forceed resignation of
Gregory Craig, the White House counsel who was trying to close Guantnamo
which will remain open until every remaining prisoner can be sent to
replications of that hell hole somewhere else.

Such decisions are coming thick and fast. Right before Thanksgiving came
news that the Obama administration has decided not to sign an
international convention banning land mines which now has support from
more than 150 countries. Yes, there was a land-mine policy "review" by the
Administration, now denounced by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy as
"cursory and halfhearted". State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told the
press last Tuesday that US defense requirements really require landmines
and Obama is going to stay with the Bush policy, though - here's the
Obamian compromise - the US government is, for the first time, sending an
official observer to a session of the International Convention, meeting
this very weekend in Cartagena, Colombia. This will come as a great
comfort to the relatives of those thousands - half of them children -
blown to bits each year by landmines littering war-torn landscapes across
the globe. [Well, we suspect that roughly 89.3028123 percent of those
children would have grown up to be terrorists - ie enemies of US corporate
imperial dominance. Why not kill them now while they can't fight back?!
Why wait? Demonstrate our American manhood. Anyonw can kill an adult, but
it takes a real man to kill a kid. -ed]

Obama's blend of chill opportunism, draped in high-minded verbiage, is
beginning to rile some liberals - the same way Jimmy Carter's similar mix
did thirty years ago. A bellwether here is the New York Times' Maureen
Dowd. She has turned in two recent acrid columns on the President in the
last month. Having spent months in the vanguard of the Democrats' favorite
blood sport, flaying Sarah Palin, Dowd suddenly declared that Palin at
least speaks from the heart and that Obama should take some lessons from
the former governor of Alaska in how to connect with ordinary people at
the level of genuine emotional conviction.

Then this week Dowd wrote an even sharper column charging Obama with
callous lack of loyalty to political supporters such as Greg Craig, who
jumped ship from the Clinton campaign last year and did Obama great
service. Dowd also scored Obama's signal lack of gratitude to Caroline
Kennedy, whose endorsement of Obama last year gave him a powerful lift at
a crucial stage in the race.

So yes, there's discontent and disillusion on the liberal and progressive
side but will this translate into political difficulties for Obama?
Probably not. Obama can drench with Roundup the crop of hopes he planted
last year and the liberal sector will still stay true and delude
themselves that hope - though dormant - still lives. Where else are the
liberals to go? Blacks will never desert him in significant numbers. And
remember, the progressive crowd stuck with Clinton through the gutting of
welfare, the effective death penalty act, an appalling immigration bill
and a hundred other presumptive "final blows". Remember how Labor tied
itself to the Clinton mast? [Those who hope beyond hope are hopeless. -ed]

Like Clinton, Obama is unconcerned by the anguish to his left, and
doubtless counts any denunciation from this quarter as a political asset.
His target is the independents who put him in the White House and who
deserted him in the November elections in states like Virginia.
Independents, so the pollsters claim, are worried by the deficit. They
think Obama's efforts to rekindle the economy and create jobs have been
far too prodigal. They want austerity budgets, even as the liberals shout
for a new stimulus bill, as the jobless total rises.

Obama is already triangulating, just as Clinton did from the moment in
1993 he enlisted Congressional Republicans to push through the North
American Free Trade Agreement, in the teeth of many Democrats in the
House, a political chapter well described on this site on Thanksgiving Day
by Jeff Cohen. As Dominic Behan's song goes, "The auld Triangle goes
jingle jangle along the banks of the Royal Canal". It will certainly
jangle if Democrats in Congress mount any serious opposition to his
expansion of the war in Afghanistan.

Having an adulterer and a moron at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for eight
years apiece, plus Dick Cheney down the corridor, spoiled us. Which side
of Bill's head did Hillary hit with the lamp? Would George fight his way
to the end of the sentence in his daily battles with the English language?

These days tranquility reigns - or seems to - in the Obamas' private
quarters.  Senior White House staffers remain loyal and tight-lipped.
Small wonder Jay Leno's nightly show is sagging. There was nothing to make
jokes about, at least until Sarah Palin went on book tour.

Carter was another Democratic president who didn't drink or fornicate or
steal. But he had Brother Billy and the colorful Bert Lance as his
director of OMB, already mired in southern Gothic scandal by the middle of
Carter's first year in office. He had the late Hamilton Jordan as his
chief of staff, getting drunk at state dinners and making lewd verbal
overtures to the wife of the Egyptian ambassador. Obama's chief of staff
Rahm Emanuel may be foul-mouthed, but thus far he's run a ship offering
about as much drama as the upper executive tier of an insurance company in
Ames, Iowa.

Politics are getting ever more swinishly and dully predictable by the day
too, as the idealists watch their expectations trickle all too swiftly
through the hour glass. Visions of a decent state-backed public system of
health insurance have - in the current bills - predictably mutated into
their pollar opposite: enforcement of compulsory purchase of private
health coverage - the "reform" imposed by those insurance executives in
Ames - and an Obama-backed hike in health insurance costs for low-income
seniors, as devastatingly described by Mary Lynn Cramer in her piece on
this site last week "Health Reform and the Skinning of Seniors".

The prospect is cheerless - looking more and more like the boring,
respectable, lethal corporate rule of the Eisenhower years...

--------15 of 17--------

Domestic Politics, Escalation and the Descent Into Chaos
Obama as LBJ
November 27 - 29, 2009

With President Obama poised to announce our "new" strategy in Afghanistan
next Monday, the courtiers and pundits in Versailles on the Potomac seemed
to have reached a consensus that he will opt for an escalation in
Afghanistan of 35,000 troops. Such a policy announcement would be
presented as a middle ground derived from careful reflection, but in
actuality would be based on the fatally flawed recommendations in the
report submitted to him last August by General Stanley McChrystal (see my
article in CounterPunch, 22 Sept 2009). Mr. Obama has been accused
unjustly by former Vice President Cheney as "dithering" over this
decision, yet there is no evidence that the centerpiece of the new
strategy - namely the rapid doubling in size of the Afghan security
forces - has been subjected to any kind of rational critical analysis,
despite widespread reports of its corruption, inneffectiveness, and
penetration by the Taliban.

Given this huge hole in McChrystal's logic, it should not be surprising
that the Afghan escalation debate degenerated into intellectual chaos over
the ensuing three months. The intellectual incoherence even included some
amazingly moronic ramblings in the pundocracy about strategy being merely
a neo-Hitlerian question of willpower, as I explained in the "The Afghan
War Question" on November 12.

In the end, the question of escalation boils down to one man's decision,
which begs the question: What is going on in Mr. Obama's head?

There have been many comparisons of the Afghan escalation question to its
equivalent question in Vietnam 45 years ago, but I think the most ominous
similarity lies in the way each escalation debate devolved into
intellectual incoherence and confusion, mutating into an exhausted
disorder, bordering on a paralysis of the decision maker's critical
faculties, and finally caving in to domestic political pressures.
Moreover, at the center of the paralyzing intellectual morass in each
case, is a reliance on the same vague assumptions: namely, that we can
eventually evolve some kind of undefined exit strategy by converting the
corrupt and incompetent indigenous security forces of our client
government into effective forces, including the equally vague corollary
assumption that these local security forces will eventually be perceived
as being legitimate by the people they are currently robbing, raping,
murdering, and terrorizing. And so, like the Vietnam escalation debate,
the Afghan debate boils down to the same need to buy an undetermined
amount of time for these ill-defined developments to take effect in an as
yet undefined way. In each case, the mechanism for moving along this
unknowable evolutionary pathway will be by propping up the local forces
with even larger doses of American military power, hence the need to
escalate, if only to fend off one's domestic political adversaries'
accusations of weakness.

While recent events make it quite clear that this incoherence is now at
the center of Obama's Afghan escalation deliberations, Bill Moyers just
produced a stunning TV show that reminds us that it was the same evolution
into incoherence that led the president into the cul de sac in 1964 and
1965. He did this by going inside President Lyndon Johnson's head to
examine how LBJ's agonizing deliberations induced him to escalate in
Vietnam, even though LBJ and some of his closest confidants, like Senator
Richard Russell of Georgia, admitted to each other that the strategy was
not likely to work. But it becomes clear that they were sucked into a cul
de sac of acting against their better judgement by a fear that domestic
political adversaries, particularly conservative Republican warmongers,
like Senator Barry Goldwater, would accuse LBJ of cutting and running.
Sound familiar? What makes Moyers' exposition so elegantly brilliant is
that Moyers used the secretly taped conversations of President Johnson's
own private telephone calls to illustrate his descent into intellectual
chaos and paralysis.

I urge you to listen to it carefully - maybe twice; it is truly mind
boggling in terms of the light it shines onto Mr. Obama's dilemma.

We may never know what is going on inside Mr. Obama's head, but the
outward manifestations of LBJ's scary mental evolution are now enveloping
Mr. Obama, and they are in plain view for all to see. Let us hope the
consensus of pundocracy is wrong and he exhibits the moral courage to take
an obviously wiser course than his predecessor, because one lesson is
clear: it is wiser and less painful over the long term to lance an
infectious boil immediately. Otherwise, Obama can forget about ever being
compared to Lincoln and FDR, and it is more likely he will find himself
compared to some kind of a Carterized caricature of LBJ.

Franklin "Chuck" Spinney is a former military analyst for the Pentagon. He
currently lives on a sailboat in the Mediterranean and can be reached at
chuck_spinney [at]

--------16 of 17--------

Legislative Trash
The Devastating Consequences of the Corporate Health Insurance Bill
November 27 - 29, 2009

Wading through the endless debate over health care has exhausted the
patience of most Americans - the zigzags, obscure language, and
long-winded discussion is inherently repulsive.

But now the dust is starting to settle, and the Congressional vision for
health care in the U.S. is emerging. Instead of being "progressive," it
will amount to a massive, corporate-inspired attack on American workers,
the elderly, and the poor.

After months of confusion and delay, Congress has shipwrecked the popular
energy over health care onto the jagged rock of corporate interests. More
spectacularly, health care "reform" is being used as an opportunity to
greatly advance corporate influence over social spheres long-dedicated to
the working-class - seemingly harmless provisions carry with them enormous

These devils hide in the details of the competing health care bills in
Congress; both contain debilitating right-wing policies hidden within a
progressive shell. Obama is indeed acting as the agent of change, to the
great benefit of the U.S. corporate elite.

And although the final bill has yet to be crafted, there exists general
agreements as to what the end version will look like. Americans will be
forced to buy shoddy corporate insurance with no limit to the cost, no
guarantee of quality, with large premiums and other tricks to further
gouge consumers. If a public option emerges in the final bill - by no
means a guarantee - it will be shrunken enough to insure very few people
(2 percent of the U.S. population).

But it gets worse. How this health care "reform" will be paid for has
implications that dwarf the above atrocities.

For example, the Democrats were determined to pass a health care bill that
"will not add one cent to the deficit". And they have succeeded: the House
and Senate health care bills both plan to reduce the deficit by over $100
billion. But a second-grader could do the math here: more service does not
equal less cost - a truism that dominates the for-profit health care

So how does the government plan to save billions of dollars as they "help"
millions of people?

The two biggest cost saving schemes are the most damaging. The first is
the enormous attack on Medicare. Since its inception, the corporate elite
wanted this program struck down. Now they have their man for the job - a
Republican could never get away with such obvious treachery.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate version of
health care would cut $404 billion from Medicare and Medicaid; the house
version would cut $570 billion. The final cut could be much more. Obama
made the ridiculous claim that only "wasteful" parts of Medicare would be
cut. The truth is far different.

One way that both Congressional health care bills will gut Medicare is
referred to as "forced productivity gains" - cost saving measures
essentially; trimming the fat.

What are these savings? The most mentioned device - by politicians and
media alike - is the reduction of "wasteful tests" and procedures that
doctors routinely perform, an idea that the health care mega-corporations
love. It will save them billions, while having catastrophic effects on the
health care of millions of people.

For example, the recent announcement that women will now be persuaded to
cut back on screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer have caused
an uproar nationwide: people are correctly making the connection behind
Congress' "forced productivity gains" and the new "recommendations" that
will be used by insurance companies to justify cutting these services,
both of which will boost profits. The general agreement behind rationing
health care in this way will be an attack on not only Medicare, but serve
as the backbone of any health care bill passed, negatively affecting
everyone unable to afford luxury health care.

Another piece of Medicare that's being trimmed is Medicare Advantage, a
favorite program of the elderly because of its comprehensive services.
Premiums for this program are already rising drastically in anticipation
of the health care bill's passage, considered by Congress to be
"wasteful". Without this program, Medicare will be greatly devalued and be
more appropriately named: "band-aides for seniors".

Finally, The Senate health care bill attacks Medicare by reducing payments
to doctors by 25 percent. If doctors receive such a drastic reduction in
pay, they will simply refuse to see Medicare or Medicaid patients; people
will thus be insured only on paper. The newly insured Medicaid patients
under any new congressional bill will be sorely disappointed.

Once Medicare is undermined in the above ways, the corporate sponsored
right-wing will make a very convincing argument that "Medicare doesn't
work", leading to future cuts that will further destroy the program.

The second hidden disaster in financing a congressional health care bill
is the tax on so-called "gold-plated" or "Cadillac" health insurance
policies that some employers offer their workers. This tax is supposedly
meant to apply to the health care policies that "elite" employees receive.

And while there should exist no complaints about taxing corporations, the
motives behind this particular tax are intentionally deceiving. As it
turns out, many, if not most workers in unions will be included in this
tax, which, under the Senate version, will include any plan worth more
than $8,000 for individuals and $21,000 for families. Hardly elite,
considering the still-soaring costs for health care.

If this provision were to pass - and it's very popular in Congress - the
immediate reaction would be very predictable: employers would immediately
drop their health care plans, forcing workers into the now-forced
purchasing of inadequate health care. This is why unions oppose such a
plan. California Democrat Pete Stark agrees: "Employers and insurers will
reduce their benefits to avoid paying the proposed tax".

Workers fortunate to have union contracts will be heavily pressured to
concede their plans, which in the past they've sacrificed wage-increases
to keep. Ultimately, employers will have a new excuse not to provide
health care to workers.

Obama again used his superb intelligence to totally obscure the issue in
support of the tax:

"I do think that giving a disincentive to insurance companies to offer
Cadillac plans that don't make people healthier is part of the way that
we're going to bring down health care costs for everybody over the long

Translation: he supports taxing the health care of union workers.

Overall, a compromise bill between the Senate and House versions will
create utter disaster for the working-class. It will not signal a
progressive "step in the right direction," as many liberals claim. At
minimum, it will be a step backward, though more likely such a bill will
be an enormous regression, to a time where health care was the exclusive
privilege of the wealthy.

The right-wing attacks on "Obamacare" - along with the media's lack of
questioning - have shielded the Democrats from any serious debate about
the above questions, including many other concerns unmentioned here.

The trash legislation that Congress is producing is the direct consequence
of the Democratic Party being dominated by giant corporations - in this
case the health care industry. The two-party system is the political
system of the corporate elite, who switch party affiliations when they
find it convenient; many of them throw equal money at both parties.

A crucial prop in this broken political system needs to be removed and
organized under its own strength. If the unions took their support from
the Democrats, organized their members and resources into a new political
party, and aggressively pushed reforms that benefited the majority of
working-class Americans, U.S. democracy would be tremendously
strengthened. Medicare could not only be saved, but expanded to everyone
from birth to death and be considered a fundamental human right.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for
Workers Action (  He can be reached at
shamuscook [at]

[For their traitorous actions described above, let us all consign Obama
and the Cong Dems to the inmost ring of hell. Let us move on to movements
and third parties. Just not being Republican has been conclusively proved
to be not enough. Or, we now have TWO Republican parties, one with a
misleading name. Are we going to get angry enough to change this farce,
or are we going to sit quietly while they put us through the wringer and
morph us into serfs? -ed]

--------17 of 17--------

 Barack who? I don't
 know anyone with that name.
 Please don't call again.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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