|Progressive Calendar 11.29.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|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] umn.edu> 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] MPPeace.org> 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.) <http://www.riverviewtheater.com>Riverview Theater, <http://maps.google.com/maps?q=3800%2B42nd%2BAvenue%2BSouth,%2BMinneapolis,%2Bmn>3800 42nd Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN Facebook: <http://www.facebook.com/events.php?ref=sb#/event.php?eid=182557390145>What 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] visi.com> Subject: CUAPB 11.28 1:30pm Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue South http://www.CUAPB.org Communities United Against Police Brutality 3100 16th Avenue S Minneapolis, MN 55407 Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867) --------4 of 17-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 11.28 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------5 of 17-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> 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 http://hondurasfreedom.blogspot.com/2009/11/hands-off-honduras-coalition-stop.html . --------6 of 17-------- From: Catherine Statz <statz001 [at] umn.edu> 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 <http://houseofballs.com> House of Balls, 212 Third Avenue North in the Minneapolis Warehouse District. --------7 of 17-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> 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 watch. 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] mtn.org> 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 www.kfai.org. --------9 of 17-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> 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 <http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/ For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560 --------10 of 17-------- From: Diane J. Peterson <birch7 [at] comcast.net> 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 http://www.revbilly.com [It's high time St Paul got saved! Hallelujah!] --------11 of 17-------- From: "Of the People" <info [at] jamesmayer.org> 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 www.am950ktnf.com 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 www.johnmarty.org. 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 http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen . --------12 of 17-------- The Return of Triangulation Get Ready for the Obama / GOP Alliance By JEFF COHEN November 26, 2009 CounterPunch 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 others. 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 policies. 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? By MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE CounterPunch 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 tract. 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] aol.com --------14 of 17-------- The Auld Triangle Goes Jingle Jangle By ALEXANDER COCKBURN CounterPunch 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 By FRANKLIN SPINNEY CounterPunch 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] mac.com --------16 of 17-------- Legislative Trash The Devastating Consequences of the Corporate Health Insurance Bill By SHAMUS COOKE CounterPunch 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 implications. 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 industry. 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 term". 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 (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscook [at] yahoo.com [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] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
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