Progressive Calendar 12.18.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 2009 15:01:38 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   12.18.09

1. Climate vigil      12.18 5:30pm
2. Moyers/DC for sale 12.18 9pm

3. John Gibbons    - Six reasons why earth won't cope for long
4. Ron Jacobs      - From Panama to Afghanistan: selling a "just" war
5. Miohael Colby   - Bernie the Quitter fools us again/health care charade
6. Barbara Koeppel - How banks bleed money from the poor & unemployed
7. Dave Lindorff   - Insurance co dream/abort the Dem health care bill

--------1 of 7--------

Date: Thu, 17 Dec 2009 15:32:32 -0600
From: Melissa <smilyus [at] msn.com>
Subject: Climate vigil 12.18 5:30pm

EMERGENCY PROTEST & VIGIL
SOLIDARITY WITH ACTIVISTS IN COPENHAGEN

* CLIMATE TALKS UNDEMOCRATIC & ON VERGE OF FAILURE
* US/RICH COUNTRIES REFUSE SERIOUS REDUCTIONS & CLIMATE DEBT
* MASSIVE POLICE REPRESSION AGAINST NONVIOLENT CIVIL SOCIETY

WHEN: Friday December 18th, 5:30PM
WHERE: In Front of WCCO on Nicollet Mall (at 11th St), Downtown Minneapolis
(right before Holidazzle parade)

Bring candles, signs and friends.

"First they shut the public out of the climate negotiations, then they shut
out 80% of NGOs who have been accredited to attend, and now they are jailing
people who challenge the undemocratic nature of the climate negotiations,
while the future of life on earth literally hangs in the balance."

-Dorothy Guerro, Focus on the Global South, Climate Justice Now Network.

WHY?

* UN CLIMATE TALKS ON VERGE OF FAILURE:
Because the US and other wealth climate polluting nations refuse to
significantly reduce climate pollution and to pay our ecological debt to
climate-impacted developing world and because of the lack of democracy in
the UN climate talks. On Tuesday, US climate negotiator Todd Stern said he
foresees no change in President Obama's offer to cut emissions by 17 percent
of 2005 levels by2020. The proposal has been widely criticized because it
amounts to just a four percent cut when adopting the 1990 emission standard
used by the rest of the world. Scientists call for a 40% cut by 2020in order
to prevent an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe. Meanwhile,
developing countries including the US, UK and Denmark drafted and circulated
a document to completely circumvent the UN from all further future
negotiations.

* CIVIL SOCIETY NGO'S BANNED FROM UN:
Accredited civil society groups including Friends of the Earth, Avaaz, Tck
Tck Tck, Via Campesina have been banned from the UN Climate Conference. "The
surgical removal of non governmental organizations underscores the lack of
democracy inherent in these negotiations. The only way to avoid catastrophic
climate change is fully supporting and including peoples movements like the
very ones illegitimately removed from this process.," said Professor Micheal
Dorsey, a member of the Climate Justice Now! Network.

* DENMARK VIOLATES DEMOCRATIC & HUMAN RIGHTS, ATTACKS NONVIOLENT ACTIVISTS
Danish police have engaged in mass preemptive arrests, detentions, clubbed
and pepper spayed nonviolent activists, raided organizing centers and
suspended basic civil liberties and democratic rights. Dr. Tadzio Mueller of
Berlin, an accredited NGO observer at the COP 15 and the spokesperson for
Climate Justice Action, was arrested without provocation by plain clothed
police shortly after a press conference announcing nonviolent demonstrations
plans. He remains in jail awaiting trial.

SING A PETITION TO THE DANISH GOVERNMENT HERE:

 <http://www.petitiononline.com/Tadzio/petition.html>
http://www.petitiononline.com/Tadzio/petition.html


--------2 of 7--------

From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org>
Subject: Moyers/DC for sale 12.18 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | Washington for Sale?
Bill Moyers Journal: "Amid fading hopes for real reform on issues ranging
from high finance to health care, economist Robert Kuttner and journalist
Matt Taibbi join Bill Moyers to discuss Wall Street's power over the
federal government."


--------3 of 7--------

Six Reasons Why Earth Won't Cope for Long
by John Gibbons
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The Irish Times
common Dreams

As world leaders arrive in Copenhagen for the crunch phase of the climate
conference, the focus turns to what kind of deal is likely to emerge.
Pre-eminent climate scientist Prof James Hansen of the Nasa Goddard
Institute has already given the entire process the kiss of death. Any
political deal cobbled together is, he believes, likely to be so
profoundly flawed as to lock humanity on to "a disaster track".

Hansen voiced publicly what environmental scientists and campaigners have
murmured all year. A political fudge that ducks science is the likeliest
outcome at Copenhagen. Earlier this week, for instance, EU fisheries
ministers agreed a deal that pleased our Government and our fishermen.
However, it does little to arrest the progressive annihilation of a common
resource that, like our atmosphere, is owned by no one - and so exploited
by all.

The world faces a dangerous convergence of environmental and resource
crises, not all directly climate related. All, however, are increasingly
difficult to resolve in a rapidly warming world. Taken together, they are
not amenable to a business-as-usual political response. Here, in no
particular order, are six:

1. Biodiversity: "The world is currently undergoing a very rapid loss of
biodiversity comparable with the great mass extinction events that have
previously occurred only five or six times in the Earth's history," says
the World Wildlife Fund. It has tracked an astonishing 30 per cent decline
in the Earth's biodiversity between 1970-2003. Hunting, habitat
destruction, deforestation, pollution and the spread of agriculture are
leading to as many as 1,000 entire species going extinct every week -
that's a species every 10 minutes. The economic cost of destroying
biodiversity is also immense. A 2008 EU study estimated the cost of forest
loss alone is running at $2-$5 trillion (.1.3-.3.4 trillion) annually.

2. Ocean acidification: The evidence of the effects of increased CO2
levels on the world's oceans is unequivocal. Surface ocean acidity has
increased by 30 per cent since 1800, with half this increase occurring in
just the last three decades. The rate of change in oceanic pH levels is
around 100 times faster than any observed natural rate. Increasing acidity
is impeding the ability of plankton called foraminifera to produce shells.
These creatures form the base of the entire marine food system. The
world's vital reef systems are also in peril from acidification.

3. Population pressure: Broadcaster Sir David Attenborough has witnessed
how the natural world is being crushed by humanity. "I've never seen a
problem that wouldn't be easier to solve with fewer people, or harder -
and ultimately impossible - with more," he says. The Earth must provide
for around 80 million more people than this time last year. It took us
almost 10,000 years to reach a billion people. We now add that many every
12 years.

4. Peak oil: This month, the International Energy Agency formally
predicted global peak oil by 2020. Today, the world burns the equivalent
of 82 million barrels of oil every day. Projected growth in energy demand
will see this rise to almost 100 million barrels within a decade, but by
then, output from the oilfields currently in production will have
plummeted to barely a third of that. A massive energy gap is looming, and
with discoveries having peaked in the mid-1960s, we are approaching the
bottom of the cheap oil barrel. Non-conventional oil, renewables and
nuclear will be nowhere near capable of bridging this energy gap in time.
The oil shocks of the coming decade will be intense.

5. Peak food: the global food system is predicated on lashings of cheap
oil, fresh water, soil and natural gas. All four are in decline. The food
riots of 2008 were an early warning of a global system in crisis. In the
US, it is estimated every calorie of food energy requires 10 calories of
fossil fuel energy. More food production is now being channelled into
fattening animals. Meat is a tasty but entirely inefficient way to use
finite food resources. Meanwhile, the UN predicts the collapse of all
global commercial marine fisheries by 2048, depriving up to two billion
people of food.

6. Peak water: During the 20th century, human water usage increased
nine-fold, with irrigation (for agriculture) alone using two-thirds of
this total. With almost all major glaciers retreating, many river systems
are at risk. Groundwater in aquifers is another key fresh water source.
Over-extraction, mostly for agriculture, has caused their levels worldwide
to plummet. Pollution, especially from fertiliser overuse, adds to the
loss of fresh water. The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday
reported only 17 per cent of Ireland's rivers are of "high ecological
status".

The 19th century naturalist John Muir famously wrote that "when one tugs
at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the
world". As the Copenhagen conference draws to a close, the words of a
contemporary of Muir, politician and orator Robert Ingersoll, have never
seemed more apt: "In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments;
there are only consequences".

 2009 irishtimes.com
John Gibbons blogs at www.thinkorswim.ie


--------4 of 7--------

>From Panama to Afghanistan
Selling a "Just" War
By RON JACOBS
December 17, 2009
CounterPunch

December 20, 1989.  The US military attacked Panama.  At the time I was
living in Olympia, WA.  I was a member of a group that worked to oppose
the US wars in Central America and helped refugees find sanctuary called
the Central American Action Committee.  Once I heard about the
invasion - which was called Operation Just Cause - I began calling members
to organize some kind of protest.  I was surprised to discover when my
suggestion was met with a lukewarm response by at least half of the
members.  This had something to do with Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega's
identity in the US media as a cocaine trafficker.  In the world we inhabit
many of the folks must have figured that opposing the murder of several
thousand Panamanians was the same as supporting the cocaine trade.  Of
course, as several news stories since then have related (and just as
consistently been denied by the US government), the US has its own history
of complicity in the illegal drug trade.

We did mount a protest of thirty in front of the Federal Building the next
day.  When compared to the protest by hundreds that included the closing
down of the Federal Building a little more than a month before in protest
of US actions in El Salvador, the action against the Panama attack was
barely visible.  This lackluster response was repeated around the United
States as many forces against the US wars in Central America refused to
protest the invasion of Panama.  George Bush the Elder's ploy
characterizing Panamanian leader Noriega as a drug trafficker and his
government as corrupt seemed to have silenced a good portion of the
antiwar movement.  In addition, by playing up an attack on a US officer's
wife by a member of the Panamanian security forces, the elder Bush was
also able to play on US concerns about the treatment of women.  This was,
as Noam Chomsky pointed out in his work 1991 book Deterring Democracy,
despite the fact that US nuns in El Salvador and Nicaragua had been killed
by forces supported by Washington with no repercussions from Washington.

Let's jump ahead twenty years.  It's now December 2009.  US forces
forcibly occupy two nations - Iraq and Afghanistan.  While the casualty
figures in the former are minimal nowadays, it was only a year or two ago
that US military men and women were dying at the rate of one hundred a
month.  Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the casualty figures are double what
they were a year ago and tens of thousands more US soldiers and Marines
are getting ready to deploy there. They have been told by their
commander-in-chief that their cause is just.  Once again, the protest is
muted.  The government in Afghanistan is a creation of Washington and
would not exist without the foreign military presence there.  It is also
one of the most corrupt governments in the world.  Women in Afghanistan
suffer some of the worst human rights abuses in the world.  Many of those
abuses derive from the male supremacist interpretation of the Muslim
religion by forces on all sides of the conflict.  Many more of the abuses
are the result of the ongoing conflict in that country.  From displacement
and hunger to death and maiming caused by US and resistance forces, the
military conflict is probably the greatest violator of women's rights.
Yet, the people of the United States have been told over and over again
that one of the reasons for the US military presence in Afghanistan is to
free the Afghan women.

So, why is there so little protest?  Is it because many liberals and
progressives who opposed the war in Iraq somehow see this misadventure in
Afghanistan as righteous?  Or do they believe that Barack Obama really
does have a plan that will guarantee peace through the waging of war?  If
the latter is true, than these folks have truly succumbed to the wiles of
imperial thought.  There is no promise to end the war in any particular
year, much less a specific date.  If history tells us anything, the only
way to stop a war is to make it difficult for the government waging it to
continue to do so.  This scenario will not occur within the walls of
Congress.  Nor will it take place inside the White House or the Pentagon.
It can only occur in the streets of the United States.  As long as the US
government is convinced it has at least tacit support for its adventures
overseas, it will continue them.  As the recent escalation proves, it will
not only continue them but will expand them.

Now, there are many folks who say they oppose the war but will argue that
there is no point in mounting any protest against it.  Their arguments
will include the caveat that protests make no difference or that they will
never reach the so-called regular people.  I disagree.  It seems to me
that if the connection between the increasing failure of the government to
fund essential services like schools, health care, infrastructure and even
job creation can be connected to the ridiculously high cost of the wars
and occupations, then the antiwar movement can reach the American people.
Currently, it seems that there is a disconnect in most people's minds
between the cutting of services and the ongoing wars and occupations.
That disconnect must be terminated and the connections between the
expanding price of imperial war and the decreasing quality of our services
must be made.  In addition, the profits of war must be exposed for what
they are - theft of taxpayer's money by a small number of citizens.  It is
a theft on a scale so huge very few can even imagine it.  It is also a
theft that does not benefit the majority of the American people and
certainly not most of the people of Iraq or Afghanistan in any meaningful
way.  Although they claim to be protecting us, the only thing these
corporations and their uniformed cohorts are protecting is their bank
accounts.

That does not have to continue.  In fact, there is already an effort being
organized by the National Assembly to End the Wars and Occupations to hold
a massive antiwar protest on March 20, 2010 in Washington, DC and San
Francisco.  It is their intention (no, our intention) to make the
connection between the self-serving and pointless costs of the wars and
the continuing failure of the United States' economy to employ all those
who desire employments and to take care of its people.  In order to draw
the largest number of people into the movement, the demand is simple:   No
Escalation - End the Wars - Bring Our Troops Home.

It is time to take a stand.

Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather
Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs' essay on Big Bill
Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch's collection on music, art and sex,
Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is
published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625 [at] charter.net


--------5 of 7--------

Bernie the Quitter Fools Us Again
The Health Care Charade
By MICHAEL COLBY
CounterPunch
December 18-20, 2009

Vermont's Senator Bernie Sanders spoke for months about his "historic"
efforts to get a vote on a single-payer health care bill in the Senate.
While we all knew the outcome was going to be a rather miserable failure,
it was a tiny crumb being flicked to those of us who still believe in both
real solutions to the health care crisis AND the possibilities of
democracy.

Bernie was correct to intuit that this kind of vote is essential to keep a
movement alive, offer some hope, and simply record the moment in history.
The entire effort is about seeing where we stand, knowing how far we have
to go, and putting both the general public and the electoral elite on
notice that we know where we're going.

Historically, similar "failed" measures were introduced to end slavery, to
give women the right to vote, to provide equal rights to minorities and -
yes - to end wrong-headed wars. An effective movement must know which side
everyone is on, and such votes - albeit failures - provide that
organizational and motivational insight.

Bernie had all of this in mind while he talked the talk in the months
preceding the historic single-payer health care vote. Because Bernie knows
his history, and he also knows - like the rest of us who utilize common
sense know - that a single-payer health care system provides the only path
to justice.

"The upcoming vote on my single-payer health care bill will be an historic
moment in the halls of Congress," Bernie declared recently on a national
radio talk show. "While I know it will fail, it is essential to bring it
forward, have the debate, and record the vote so that we can continue to
build the movement and move toward single-payer as our ultimate goal".

Well, Bernie had his moment earlier this week. And, as we all know now, he
quit on us.

Specifically, Bernie pulled his single-payer initiative from consideration
after the Republicans went grade school on us by demanding that the
700-page amendment be read in its entirety. It was estimated that the
reading would take about 12 hours of the Senate's time. After about three
hours, Bernie came to the floor of the Senate and announced that he was
withdrawing his single-payer initiative and, thus, killing the "historic"
vote.

Why? Because, as Bernie explained, he didn't want to hold up the business
of the Senate. And what, exactly, was the next item on the Senate's
agenda? Yet another Defense Department appropriations bill. Hmm, sounds
like a good reason to stall to me.

But the real reason, of coarse, is that Bernie was getting his arm twisted
by the spineless Democratic leadership, a group of sheep who seem only
interested in perfecting the not-so-fine art of losing.

When Bernie took the floor to announce his decision to pull his amendment
he was "outraged," and then spilled forth with some fine rhetoric about
all the ills of our political system, the obstructive nature of the
Republicans, and then some more outrage piled upon the outrage.

But it was Bernie's - and only Bernie's - decision to kill his initiative
and, as a result, the "historic" moment that he had been promoting. So,
sorry, if there was outrage to be had, it should have been spread evenly
amongst the childish Republicans and Bernie-the-quitter.

Sadly, the whole affair could be chalked up to yet another example of the
Democratic Party's (yes, Bernie caucuses with the Dems) willingness to
lead its followers to political slaughter. Obama's done it with the Wall
Street bailouts, his refusal to close Gitmo, his foot-dragging on Iraq,
his surge in Afghanistan and his near-complete failure of leadership on
the health care issue (to name a few). And the Democratically-controlled
Congress has followed suit with its own bait and switch nonsense like the
one perpetrated by Bernie: "Come, my followers, let's make history. Oh,
nevermind".

[So let's not hear any more BS about how we all have vote for the
expletive-deleted Dems to save the country. Only the learning-challenged
will say that any more. Neither major party will do a damn thing for us;
both are entirely owned by the mafia of billionaires.  Stop with the
comforting fairy tales! No more BS! We need independent movements, people
in the streets madder than hell, a conscious class war to cut the money
and power out from under the feet of the super-rich. -ed]

They don't want a movement. They want a nice, pliable butch of donors
willing to get giddy during campaign season long enough to "hope" and vote
for change. And if you dare to call their bluff, they'll scream "Nader!"
and/or "Palin!" until their own failures get lost in the rhetorical haze.

Shame on Bernie for so perfectly joining the quitters (once again).
Because a real "independent" wouldn't have so blatantly betrayed the
moment of history he dangled in front of the single-payer movement. All
for - what!? - saving a few hours of the Senate's time? So they could rush
to throw more money at the Pentagon? Good grief.

With apologies to "The Who," we were, indeed, fooled again.

Damn.

Michael Colby works with draft horses in Vermont and is the editor of
Broadsides.org. He welcomes your comments at mcolby [at] broadsides.org.


--------6 of 7--------

Bleeding Money From the Poor
How Banks Prey on the Unemployed
By BARBARA KOEPPEL
December 17, 2009
CounterPunch

While posting breathtaking profits in the last two quarters - Wells
Fargo's $32 billion, Citigroup's $3 billion and Chase's $2.7 billion -
U.S. banks have figured out a way to squeeze some extra dollars from those
who can least afford it, the unemployed.

Here's how it works. In the past two years, states have been overwhelmed
with unemployment claims. Always eager to serve, America's banks offered a
deal the states couldn't refuse.

Sign a contract - which won't cost you a dime - and send us your weekly
unemployment funds, the banks said. In return, we'll issue our VISA or
MasterCard debit cards to your laid-off workers, on which we'll post their
benefits electronically.

Thirty states signed on with the usual suspects - Citi, Wells Fargo,
JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America - and some smaller ones, too. More states
are lining up.

In a stroke, states dropped all their costs for printing and mailing
checks. Andrew James, with North Carolina's Employment Security
Commission, told me that in the past year, his state saved a whopping $10
million. During the same time, Nevada saved $800,000, Maryland $400,000
and West Virginia $340,000.

But if the system is good for the states, it's great for the banks. A
February 2009 Associated Press article noted that Missouri's Central Bank,
which won that state's contract, could reap $6.3 million this year alone.

The banks profit from interest earned on the funds the states deposit with
them until the money is posted onto the debit cards. Then there's the
money the banks get from retailers where the unemployed shop with their
cards - from 2 percent to 3 percent per transaction.

But such sums are not large enough, it seems. So the banks have figured
how to extract more money from the millions of unemployed now using the
debit cards. The devil's in the fees.

                         Nickel and Diming

The cards can be beneficial to some of the unemployed, like those who
otherwise would pay whopping fees to cash checks because they don't have
bank accounts.

And, at first glance, many of the terms seem reasonable enough: Free cash
withdrawals from tellers at banks that honor VISA or MasterCard (over 90
percent in the United States) and from ATMs owned by the banks with the
contracts (plus one or two others in their networks).

However, in practice, the various fees add up. For example, withdrawals
are free - but only to a point. In Maryland, Citicorp gets $1.50 a pop
after four free ATM withdrawals a month; in Nevada, Wells Fargo gets $1.25
after two free ones; in Texas, Chase gets $1.50 after only one free
withdrawal a week and Missouri's Central Bank, which offers no free ATM
withdrawals, rakes in $1.75 each and every time.

If the bank offering the debit card doesn't have an ATM in a neighborhood
or small town, it's even worse: Card-holders must use out-of-network ATMs,
which spell double trouble. A first fee goes to the bank with the contract
- Chase charges $2.75 in West Virginia and Wells Fargo gets $1.25 in
Nevada.

A second fee - from $2 to $4 - goes to the out-of-network bank that owns
the ATM, if the recipient doesn't have an account there. Thus, one
withdrawal can cost over $5. These expenses can mushroom, since recipients
use ATMs six to 10 times a month, according to the AP article.

Penalties for transactions denied due to insufficient funds, whether at
ATMs or stores, are another costly affront: $1.50 in West Virginia and
Michigan, and $1 in Texas - though the banks, which use electronic systems
- needn't process anything. Only a few plans, as in Kansas, charge
nothing.

To avoid penalties, the jobless must find out how much money is on their
cards. But here's another catch: In Nevada, they get one free ATM balance
inquiry a month. After that, the price tag is 50 cents a throw. In
Michigan, it;s $1 for every one after the first (per week). In Texas,
inquiries are free at Chase ATMs, but 50 cents at all others.

So it's a costly Catch-22. To avoid fees for declined transactions, the
jobless must pay to know what's on the card, to ensure that a purchase or
other transaction won't exceed the total.

                              Lost Cards

If a card is lost, tack on more. A few banks give the first one gratis,
but the next cost $5 each (in Kansas and Maryland) or $7.50 (in Michigan).
In North Carolina, Comerica gets $5, period - no freebies allowed.

Most banks charge nothing for cash withdrawn inside, from tellers, but
some levy fees after the first visit in a week or month: $5 in Texas and
$4 in Michigan.

The promise that retailers will give free cash-backs to debit-card users
often is another myth.

In Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, the one hardware store in town doesn't
give cash back. Nor do the two gas stations. The 7-11 turns over $10 tops.

Food Lion allows up to $100 per purchase - but as the customer service rep
told me, "Only if we have the cash". And, most stores (even in big cities)
don't in the early morning or at night.

Could the debit-card terms change and the plans still work - for the
banks, states and unemployed?

Judi Conti, at the National Employment Law Project, says the states could
easily negotiate better deals to reduce the fees. Also, recipients should
be able to decide if they want their payments in checks, direct deposits
to their bank accounts - which carry no fees at all - or debit cards.

"The banks," she contends, "could do this and still make an honest
profit".

At present, a few states offer direct deposits - but most don't. The
Workforce West Virginia spokesman told me his state was going to start
this "sometime soon". When? It's not yet decided.

For now, those without jobs who are trying to stretch every dollar from
unemployment insurance are finding the banks eager to nibble away at even
those modest sums.

Barbara Koeppel is a free-lance investigative reporter based in Washington
DC.

This story was originally published by ConsortiumNews.

[We love the banks and the banksters and the kindly capitalism for which
they stand. We would love to love them even more, but can't afford it.
-ed]


--------7 of 7--------

An Insurance Company's Dream
Abort the Democratic Health Care Bill
By DAVE LINDORFF
December 17, 2009
CounterPunch

Give credit to Howard Dean. This still practicing physician, former
governor of Vermont, former chair of the Democratic Party and former
Democratic presidential candidate has called for progressive members of
Congress in both houses to join their Republican colleagues in killing
what he rightly says has become "an insurance company's dream."

Those namby-pamby, self-described "progressives" in the Democratic Party
who claim that the health bill can still be saved with the inclusion of a
fake, carefully circumscribed and thoroughly emasculated "public option"
government insurance plan that at best would only be able to offer lousy
coverage at high rates to a small number of self-employed poor people are
wrong. This supposed attempt at reforming the US health care system--the
costliest and least effective in the developed world--is simply past
saving.

The only appropriate place for the bill at this point is a dumpster.

What could have been a transformational moment in American politics--an
end to decades of corporate health care and the creation of a system in
which all Americans were guaranteed affordable, quality care as a basic
right of citizenship, the way people are in Canada, in all the countries
of Europe, in Japan, in Taiwan, in Cuba and much of the rest of the world,
has been squandered.

It has been squandered by President Obama, who was too gutless to take a
leadership role, and left matters to Congress, and who then slithered up
to the major players in the medical-industrial complex and cut secret
deals with all of them--doctors, insurance companies, pharmaceutical
companies and the hospital industry--in return for their "support."

It has been squandered by many leading members of Congress in both houses,
especially those who call themselves the Blue Dogs, but also by many who
call themselves "liberals," who accepted the tainted coin of those
industries (and their lobbyists have been flooding Congress over the past
year with contributions in unprecedented amounts), and who have
transformed the legislation into a huge gift for those industries,
producing a bill that will leave employers as the main agency for
providing health coverage (though not for paying for it--that will be the
employees' responsibility), require those without coverage to buy it
themselves, guaranteeing a vast new market of mostly healthy young people
for the insurance industry, and that will do almost nothing to control
costs.

Doctors will get richer under this "reform." Insurance companies will get
vastly richer under this "reform". Pharmaceutical companies will get
richer under this "reform". But there will still be millions of people
left with no access to health care. There will still be tens of millions
of people who will get substandard or even pathetically trashy health
care. And the cost of medical care, both for individuals and for society
as a whole, already the highest in the world, will continue to soar. To
make matters worse, taxes will also go up dramatically, by at least $100
billion a year. For extra laughs, while these costs would start hitting
the public right away, the "benefits" of the bill wouldn't go into effect
until 2013, meaning that a likely resurgent Republican Party, ousting
Obama from the White House, and the Democrats from the majority in
Congress in 2012, would simply undo the whole thing anyhow.

Dr. Dean is right. This is indeed a bad bill. But it's not just a bad
bill. It is a morally outrageous, politically disgusting and economically
dangerous bill. It moves the country in exactly the wrong direction--not
towards the socialism that the right has been decrying, but towards an
increasingly costly corporatist system that will be even harder to reform
down the road.

There is only one hope, and that is that enough liberal members of House
and Senate will recognize that nothing is better than something in this
case, and that for the sake of their constituents they will refuse to
support this legislative monstrosity.

The Health Insurance Enrichment Act of 2009 must be killed in the
congressional womb before it can emerge to become the monster it has
become.

The only positive thing I can see in this debacle is that perhaps if
President Obama is slapped down by his own most ardent backers on what he
has claimed is his number one legislative goal, he and his
too-clever-by-half advisers will realize that they need to do a U-turn and
rethink how they are trying to govern.

More likely, however, this defeat will be the beginning of the end of the
Obama administration, which has now been revealed as devoid of principle,
incapable of leadership, and in thrall to the most cynical and greedy
corporate interests.

Dave Lindorff  is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His
latest book is .The Case for Impeachment. (St. Martin.s Press, 2006 and
now available in paperback). He can be reached at dlindorff [at] mindspring.com


----------------------------------------------------------------------------

   - David Shove             shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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                          vote third party
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                          now and forever


                           Socialism YES
                           Capitalism NO


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