Wednesday, December 23, 2009

BOYCOTT BALLOTS ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY!


Opponents of marriage equality for same-sex couples brag about the fact that 31 states have already voted on same-sex marriage at the ballot box, and all 31 states have rejected it.

With New Jersey set to pass Marriage Equality legislation that Gov. Corzine has indicated he would sign during his lame duck time left, we can expect that the right wing nuts in the State will be out collecting signatures to put the issue on a ballot soon enough. If not in New Jersey, it will likely come up on a ballot in DC or somewhere else. When it does, will we continue our losing strategy or try something new, daring and truly meaningful?

Now, we all know that putting civil rights issues up for a vote is intrinsically wrong. We have been through this enough that explaining why it is wrong is just preaching to the choir. So now, if we are serious in our conviction that our civil rights should not, must not and cannot be the subject of a popular vote or referendum, it seems to me that we must be ready to do more than waste our time, money and effort by trying to defeat any such ballot measure next time it comes up.

Wasting time, effort and money is all we do whenever we mount an opposing effort to vote FOR marriage equality (or any other civil rights issue). By going along with an election that is mounted to formally deny our rights, aren't we just playing the anti-gay movement's game? Aren't we playing right into their hands?

In fact, when we participate in a vote on any Civil Rights issue aren't we just buying into a system that we duly hold as invalid?

WE NEED TO STOP PLAYING ALONG WITH THE BIGOTS IN THEIR NEVER-ENDING GAMES THAT ALWAYS END IN THE DENIAL OF OUR RIGHTS.

So the next time any anti-gay group collects enough signatures to put our rights up for a vote in any jurisdiction we should not just let the smug opposition add another humiliating defeat to what they count as 31 straight victories over us.

WE MUST MOUNT A VIGOROUS CAMPAIGN TO TOTALLY BOYCOTT ANY SUCH ELECTION.

We've heard calls for boycotts AFTER ballots were taken in California and Maine. After the election is too late. We should have called for a boycotts OF those elections.

Obviously, it does no good to simply vote Yes or No to support LGBT Civil Rights. It does no good - we will be outnumbered and outmaneuvered every time by the well-funded expert manipulators of public opinion who have a stake in maintaining the status quo: keep the queers in their place!

In the next electoral campaign we should put out the word: "If you support LGBT Rights and Marriage Equality DO NOT VOTE on this ballot measure."

Make the BOYCOTT be the campaign. Publicize the boycott far and wide. Urge EVERYONE among our friends and allies who wish to show their support for our cause NOT to vote one way or the other but to BOYCOTT the election altogether as it is an unfair, inappropriate and insulting action against the LGBT Community to ever put our rights up for a vote.

If a ballot measure wins with such a lopsided majority it simply cannot be seen as valid. Think of how we scoff at those fraudulent elections in foreign countries where the corrupt President wins by 100% of the vote. It's a joke at best: an expose of the absurdity of the electoral process.

Just think of it: in any American election where zero votes are cast for one side of an issue the same would have to hold: the vote would have to be seen for what it is: a cynical vicious attack on the rights of a minority.

ZERO VOTES should be our goal in any such future referendum: ZERO VOTES in opposition to the anti-gay question. We should not dignify the question with any response.

CONSCIOUSLY NOT VOTING SHOWS THAT WE REFUSE TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE BY BALLOT. Voting on Civil Rights issues is absurd.

BOYCOTT ANY BALLOT ISSUE THAT DEALS WITH CIVIL RIGHTS INCLUDING MARRIAGE EQUALITY!!!

BOYCOTT BIGOTRY! It's what we should have been doing all along.

Health Care Reform Nightmare



It looks like the worst case scenario is actually about to become reality in imminent passing of the much ballyhooed so-called "health care reform" bill brought to you by the National Democratic Party. Of course, this only comes after the Dems totally caved in to the Repugnican Party's demands in order to win the support of the repugnicans hiding out in their own midst. It sure hasn't done anything to win over any out-of-the-closet Repugs.

It's all Business As Usual in the Nation's Capital. Happy Holidays!
Anything with even a remote chance of actually reducing our health care expenses (Medicare buy-in, prescription drug re-importation, even a feebly weak public option) has been systematically stripped out of the Senate Bill on direct ORDERS from the White House, not that corrupt members of Congress needed any serious prodding from that end.

President Obama is out there right now laying it on thick with three primary promotional touts, all of which are such transparent bunko it is astounding that they even need to be debunked.

First, he says the Senate Bill is a good thing because it contains a so-called "bill of rights", and isn't that all we wanted anyway he says, to just curtail a certain laundry list of the most egregious medical insurance industry rip-offs. Second, he talks about how wonderful any bill that provides health care to 30 million new people must be. And third, he argues that the Senate bill must be something great, because he claims the insurance companies are strongly opposed to it.

As to the "bill of rights" spin job, how drop kick stupid do they think we are? Wasn't it just last May that they passed with great fanfare a so-called Credit Card Holder's Bill of Rights. Oh yes,
that's exactly the same deceptive way they framed that one too. Didn't we just fall for this same PR ruse? The worst credit card abuses would be stopped the sell job went. But in just the same way, any provision that would have ensured a real reduction in outrageously usurous credit card interest and charges (like a reasonable cap on interest rates) was rejected.

Instead, credit card companies have played every possible game to raise rates since, and just this week we heard that one of the worst offenders came out with a new card with, get this, an effective interest rate of 80%, all in full compliance with the shiny new bill of rights law. What a mean-spirited, cruel and pathetic trick to play on the American people. Are you starting to get it yet, folks??

The Shinola Stops Here Action Page: http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1024.php

Friday, December 18, 2009

2009: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid. And DO Something!

This recap of the events of 2009 is worth spreading far and wide. No comment is really necessary. The lies and lying liars who tell them speak for themselves. And Media Matters puts together a good, though incomplete selection - mostly from Faux News of course...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Orthodox Homophobia

They tried it in California and in Maine, and now in New Jersey, they're...
"trying to change the name of an institution that has existed for thousands of years: homophobia!"

Same-sex marriage supporters march on statehouse







Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What are YOUR plans for Black Friday?

Everybody's asking...



When Black Friday comes I'll stand down by the door And catch the grey men when they Dive from the fourteenth floor
When Black Friday comes
I'll collect everything I'm owed And before my friends find out I'll be on the road
When Black Friday falls you know it's got to be Don't let it fall on me
When Black Friday comes I'll fly down to Muswellbrook Gonna strike all the big red words From my little black book
Gonna do just what I please Gonna wear no socks and shoes With nothing to do but feed All the kangaroos
When Black Friday comes I'll be on that hill You know I will

When Black Friday comes
I'm gonna dig myself a hole
Gonna lay down in it 'til
I satisfy my soul
Gonna let the world pass by me
The Archbishop's gonna sanctify me
And if he don't come across
I'm gonna let it roll
When Black Friday comes
I'm gonna stake my claim
I'll guess I'll change my name

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Make the Call -- US OUT of Afghanistan!!!!


Thanks to our good friends at AFSC.

Action Needed: Your call can stop the government from sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Now is a critical time to make your voice heard.

Call the White House comment line today and say you are opposed to sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. The comment line number is 202-456-1111. 


In the coming week, President Obama will likely be making a decision about the role of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He has rejected the current proposals for additional troops until there is an exit strategy. We believe this is a good sign, and we need more — a decision not to send more troops to the region and to deescalate the war.

The decision will have a dramatic effect on the future of Afghanistan and the stability of the region.
This is the moment when we can have an impact.

If you only take one action for peace this year, please make this phone call to the White House today. Tell them you’d like the administration to put these elements into their Afghanistan plan.

White House comment line: 202-456-1111

No additional troops to Afghanistan.

A timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and for diplomacy and dialogue with all parties to the conflict, without preconditions.

Badly needed development aid provided, to be coordinated by civilian-led organizations, not the military.

Redirect the more than $44 billion spent yearly on war to supporting real human needs in Afghanistan and at home.

Help President Obama make the best decision on Afghanistan. Please take a moment and make your call today.


Wage Peace.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

LGBT Civil Rights



It has been very fashionable in the straight white world to be outwardly pro-civil rights for black people no matter how you really feel (I know because I am able to pass among them - yes, it's spooky!). It has become faux fashionable to be tolerant of homosexuals but the idea of civil rights only applies to white people's black friend. Straight white people - and some blacks straights I know - act offended at the very suggestion that our struggle for equality may be equivalent to the black struggle for civil rights - which it is of course. But our experiences are obviously different and so what? As all my fierce black LGBT brothers & sisters realize, it IS all about civil rights. Many differences in our struggles, of course. We homos were never enslaved en masse against our will for several hundred years (except for the black slaves that happened to be gay - yes, there were gay slaves!) and we have had fewer riots. But I can give you one huge similarity and one huge difference.

Similarity: the bible. Fundamentalist Christianity has been used to justify racism and homophobia equally. You know those White supremecists - the KKK? Steeped in Christian racism! Steeped in it! Now the Klan and its influence has been cut down to size, thank god! - still a threat but not like they were at the height of the struggle for black civil rights. The face of homophobia in this country, however, is today the full-blown face of fundamental Christianity. There is nothing else to it.

Difference: I may not be totally accurate but it seems to me that the civil rights struggle for equality among the races was NEVER put to a popular vote. Has it? On any scale? I'd like to know. What I do know is that interracial marriage rights - that have been DEFINED as CIVIL RIGHTS - were not won by popular vote and they have never been subjected to a public referendum. Interracial marriage was legalized once and for all by the Supreme Court Decision in Loving v. Virginia (1967!). White racists (who were and still may be the majority of America) decried the decision but the uproar soon settled down and white racists contented themselves to quietly seething under their breath instead of mobilizing to restore miscegenation laws that were based on their racist biblical values.

Why? because when interracial marriage was legalized the white christian racists were too frightened to do anything about it.

Why is this important? Well, what do you think would have happened if interracial marriage HAD ever been put on the ballot somewhere in the country? Behind the safety of that ballot box curtain white people would have had no problem voting what they believed - voting against what they feared. But then again, blacks were getting so uppity during that time - who knows what kind of wild mayhem would have befallen our already riot-torn cities?

The point is that, out of abject fear, Catholics and fundamentalist christians dropped their opposition to interracial marriage after the Supreme Court settled the dispute. THE CHURCH WAS FORCED TO CHANGE THEIR BELIEFS THAT THEY SAID WERE BASED ON THOUSANDS OF YEARS OF TRADITION - THAT MARRIAGE IS ONLY LEGITIMATE BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN OF THE SAME RACE. After saying over and over that Marriage ALWAYS meant one thing - no mixing of races - suddenly they CHANGED their definition of marriage.

Now the Catholic Church makes another claim: that Marriage has ALWAYS only meant one thing - union of one man and one woman. That it would be "changing the meaning of marriage" if two people of the same sex were recognized as fully equal with their demand that marriage can only be between one man & one woman (at a time).

And now, once again, the Catholic Church claims that GOD HAS DECREED THAT THEY CANNOT and WILL NOT change their beliefs to accommodate the modern world. And since LGBT people are not at all scary to them - they can see that we are basically harmless - they have no reason to fear retribution the way they feared it in their tiny racist minds by inventing images of big black scary bogeymen - rampaging African Americans - who they had spent so long convincing themselves and each other were nothing but savage rapists and murderers.

White racist homophobic christians are not afraid of everyday queers because there are enough of us who look just like them. So they have no problem overstepping their boundaries as religious non-political organizations and spending millions of dollars funding referenda like Prop 8 & Maine's Question 1. They would never have done this after the law between interracial marriage was struck down.

To put the best spin on it - civil rights legislation, based on race has been seen, even by racist white christians, as settled law. No one dares put THOSE Civil Rights questions on a ballot. It would probably NOT be allowed. If they did put the question on the ballot as to whether blacks should be considered equal to whites, the racist white majority in this country would surely have re-legitimized the institution of slavery for blacks by now. Especially in the Southern States.

Did anyone ever suggest that interracial marriage rights be a matter of individual states to decide? I don't think so. But when it comes to OUR CIVIL RIGHTS, it seems all you have to do is get a number of signatures on a petition and then get the Catholic Church and Mormons to pump millions of dollars into a hateful campaign to motivate the hateful ignorant and voila! The majority has spoken - they must be appeased in their ignorance because it has something to do with god. And you don't want to piss god off, you know.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sarah Palin: The Movie!

Starting on her whirlwind book tour this week, Sarah Palin has consciously set herself up for a flurry of attacks from the left, right, and center (So go to it folks!). The more she is attacked the more the far far right of the Repugnican Party will rally around her, boosting her credentials as the standard bearer for the lunatic fringe.



Why can't the Republican establishment retire her to a quiet life of moose hunting in the political wilderness? Why has her appeal only increased in the wake of her catastrophic political expeditions? Why won't she listen to, or abide by, conventional political wisdom?

The answer lies beyond the realm of polls and punditry in the political psychology of the movement that animates and, to a great degree, controls, the Republican grassroots -- a uniquely evangelical subculture defined by the personal crises of its believers and their perceived persecution at the hands of cosmopolitan elites.

http://www.alternet.org/story/143967/sarah_palin_rules_the_gop_--_and_she_will_destroy_it/?page=2

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Talibangelism

(Buy this t-shirt at: Radical Rags)

I never heard the word "Talibangelist" before today. I just LOVE it! Very descriptive. This and "Repugnican" get my vote for the most meaningful made up new terms to enter the English vocabulary this year.

I read about talibangelism in someone's response to the latest crop of annoyingly tiresome, stupid and irrelevant religious crap that Facebook homophobes have been posting in response to the vote in Maine to re-criminalize same-sex marriage. Why do we have to keep hearing what fundamentalists (some who strongly deny being bible thumpers) have to say about our right, as same-sex couples, to access the benefits of marriage bestowed by our secular government.

Enough, I say, with giving a shit what anyone thinks was written in any ancient book that may have had some relevance in a totally different reality than what we are dealing with here in the 21st Century.

Like the Taliban and other Militant Muslim groups, Christian fundamentalists in America want to perpetuate the mores of the dark ages - particularly in regard to negative attitudes toward homosexuality - while they twist everything else in their bible to rationalize their desire to indulge in advances of civilization that brought us to the 21st Century.

The concept of democracy, for instance, was completely foreign to the ancient minds responsible for all those stories that make up the bible. Didn't matter if they did not agree with or like the authority of their overlords and monarchs that ruled over them. They did whatever they were told to do and thought what they were told to think. They knew their place. Did not even matter what they experienced or wanted out of life for themselves.

The authors of the bible did not even envision a time when human slavery would be frowned upon, much less when democracy would be the basis of government anywhere on earth. 

People who live in this democratically-ruled country today and claim to base their world-view on the bible are therefore nothing more than hypocrites if they do not refrain from participating in our democratic process. 

Times have change, baby! And you know the changes have been mostly been for the better. If not, then take your sorry ass out of this modern context altogether. Go back to living without electricity, cars, TV and the freakin internet. Where does your all-encompassing bible give you the permission to indulge such vices?!

If you insist on imposing a medieval mindset - with its strictures against homosexual relationships and many other things that are facts of life in this contemporary world - then YOU HAVE NO RIGHT to enjoy ANY of the modern conveniences and privileges that have developed since the time the last book of your precious little bible was written. 

You may be able to impede the progress of an enlightened civilization, but you cannot stop it. We SHALL overcome! Oh yes we will.

You all who have blocked our way for so long will soon be totally irrelevant, just as you were when ruled over by medieval monarchs and patricians who told you what to do, how to think and what to believe.

And you can all just go to hell!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Boys Beware!

One of the lost 10 minute classics of 1961. Believe it or not, life was not all "Father Knows Best" and "Leave It To Beaver." Thank God there were people like Producer Sid Davis around to warn us of the dangers that lurked in the world of black and white.

As usual, the music in this film is fabulous!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Amazing Power of the Repugnican Talking Point

Dithering: a word that had probably never been uttered in the history of television news was suddenly on the lips of every talking head this week.

It is a testament to the awesome power of the Repugnican Smear Machine that they always seem to find the perfect new damning term to use against the Obama Administration to recharge their wild-eyed attacks at the very point where it seems they have exhausted the lexicon of slurs on any particular topic. Their rolling out of their exciting new term for their same old shit is blithely picked up and repeated so often it becomes "conventional wisdom" in the world of "reporting." Had Dick Cheney's speech writers used any regular term like "waver, hesitate, falter" or even "vacillate" there would be little news value in his latest criticism of Obama's mishandling of the Afghanistan occupation.

There is definitely much to criticize in Obama's distressing Afghanistan policy, of course, and he has been getting it hard and heavy from the left since he took office. But the strength of the left's objections and protests is generally only reported as data collected in polls designed to rate the President's popularity on a positive/negative percentage scale. The Left's opposition to Obama's Afghanistan folly is not considered "news" because it is apparently too hard a task for the simple minds who report the news - and the simpler minds who listen to them - to grasp the non-black & white, non-bipolar complexities of the real world.

What is too deep for them to fathom is the nature of that tension which exists uncomfortably between Obama and the political left - who want to support him despite his flaws. It's so much easier to "get it" when a Dick Cheney, Sara Palin or Joe Wilson exposes the high-strung, knee-jerk tension between Obama and the right - which just wants to see him fail at all costs. Because of the way the news industry has been reshaped by Fox News in recent years any criticism of this president and his administration is only considered newsworthy if it totally demonizes them. And they've found that this need not be done only by screeching "You Lie!" on the floor of Congress or making brazenly truth-less statements about death panels in the health care reform bill. Now it only takes the dropping of a single term into a speech, pricking up reporters' ears with a nebulosity of meaning to the average American. The underlying Repugnican strategy for foiling the Democrats has not changed. We're just seeing the phase where they resort to semantic vagaries after the insane things they've tried to assert outright have been thoroughly debunked as boldfaced malicious lies.

So Dick Cheney utters a familiar sounding Smear Machine-manufacture word, "dithering," with its built-in wink-wink connotations of Democratic light-weight feathery flaccidity on issues where Repugnicans have long been portrayed as stronger: warmongering. And though it's a term that has never been used before - and one that has plenty of synonyms in any cheap thesaurus, the Right Wing mouthpieces on Fox "News" and Limbaugh's Daily Spew obligingly repeat it like some nerdy kid who has just add another new word to his vocabulary and strains to use it every time he opens his mouth, often inappropriately.

As pathetic as all this is, of course, it is all the worse that the word is picked up intact, reported and repeated without question, by every news organization that still considers itself legit, even though they take their cues and news straight-up from the mouths of the Repugnican propaganda machine that is Fox.

They're all just a bunch of dithering fools.

Fortunately, we can still count on the calm, measured and reasonable voice of most trusted name in journalism to expose the hypocrisy and lies on all those Fox-ass-kissing news shows: Jon Stewart.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Eff'dghanistan - John Kerry & Dick Cheney
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Semi-Public Option?


It is beginning to look like we will soon have some kind of health care reform in this country afterall, within our lifetimes even!

The rational, wide-ranging kind of change we need, however, is only likely to come in increments, if at all. And depending on what part of the country you live in, may not come for you anytime soon.

Only lately has the idea of allowing states to opt out of the public option been floated with any seriousness. On the surface, it seems to me to be a very intriguing compromise on the most contentious issues involved in the shouting matches that have passed for debate. If this is what it takes to get the blue dog Democrats on board with passing health care reform, along with the weary Repugnicans who are only interested in their political survival, might we really be seeing a light at the end of this long, ridiculous tunnel?

If it works out that a reform bill is put forth with a public option "option-out" for those states whose Senators oppose all reason then maybe we should just go for it and let the cards fall where they may. Chances are that once government-sponsored health insurance is up and running in certain states of the country, there will soon be a clamoring of people in the out-opted states who continue to get ripped off by their insurance companies. I would not be surprised if it will be those same loudmouth crazies who spent last summer disrupting town meetings who will be crying about being left out and demanding that they too be included in the government plan as well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Afghanistan War: A Human Tragedy


At one time, Contemporary Art seemed to have the power to wake the world up about atrocities of modern war.

Picasso's Guernica has been called the most famous work of modern art of the 20th Century. Whitechapel Art Gallery in East London, which has a long history of presenting timely, provocative, anti-war visual and performing art, presents an event today - October 7, 2009 - in recognition of the eighth anniversary of the Western Invasion and Occupation of Afghanistan.

Roger Lloyd Pack, National Theatre actor and well-known for playing Trigger in Only Fools and Horses, joins musician Brian Eno, actor Janie Dee, George Galloway MP and other prominent figures, who will be appearing at an event marking the eighth anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion, taking place beneath the tapestry of Picasso’s painting Guernica, at the Whitechapel Art Gallery on Wednesday 7 October from 11am to 12.30pm. All welcome.

AFGHANISTAN: A HUMAN TRAGEDY
EIGHT YEARS ON, TIME TO GO
CULTURAL, MILITARY AND POLITICAL VOICES SPEAK OUT

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Morning with Michael

While getting myself together to go see the early showing of "Capitalism: A Love Story" this Sunday morning I received the note below in an email from the film's Director. I think it is worth sharing...


For Those of You on Your Way to Church This Morning ...a note from Michael Moore

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Friends,

I'd like to have a word with those of you who call yourselves Christians (Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Bill Maherists, etc. can read along, too, as much of what I have to say, I'm sure, can be applied to your own spiritual/ethical values).

In my new film I speak for the first time in one of my movies about my own spiritual beliefs. I have always believed that one's religious leanings are deeply personal and should be kept private. After all, we've heard enough yammerin' in the past three decades about how one should "behave," and I have to say I'm pretty burned out on pieties and platitudes considering we are a violent nation who invades other countries and punishes our own for having the audacity to fall on hard times.

I'm also against any proselytizing; I certainly don't want you to join anything I belong to. Also, as a Catholic, I have much to say about the Church as an institution, but I'll leave that for another day (or movie).

Amidst all the Wall Street bad guys and corrupt members of Congress exposed in "Capitalism: A Love Story," I pose a simple question in the movie: "Is capitalism a sin?" I go on to ask, "Would Jesus be a capitalist?" Would he belong to a hedge fund? Would he sell short? Would he approve of a system that has allowed the richest 1% to have more financial wealth than the 95% under them combined?

I have come to believe that there is no getting around the fact that capitalism is opposite everything that Jesus (and Moses and Mohammed and Buddha) taught. All the great religions are clear about one thing: It is evil to take the majority of the pie and leave what's left for everyone to fight over. Jesus said that the rich man would have a very hard time getting into heaven. He told us that we had to be our brother's and sister's keepers and that the riches that did exist were to be divided fairly. He said that if you failed to house the homeless and feed the hungry, you'd have a hard time finding the pin code to the pearly gates.

I guess that's bad news for us Americans. Here's how we define "Blessed Are the Poor": We now have the highest unemployment rate since 1983. There's a foreclosure filing once every 7.5 seconds. 14,000 people every day lose their health insurance.

At the same time, Wall Street bankers ("Blessed Are the Wealthy"?) are amassing more and more loot -- and they do their best to pay little or no income tax (last year Goldman Sachs' tax rate was a mere 1%!). Would Jesus approve of this? If not, why do we let such an evil system continue? It doesn't seem you can call yourself a Capitalist AND a Christian -- because you cannot love your money AND love your neighbor when you are denying your neighbor the ability to see a doctor just so you can have a better bottom line. That's called "immoral" -- and you are committing a sin when you benefit at the expense of others.

When you are in church this morning, please think about this. I am asking you to allow your "better angels" to come forward. And if you are among the millions of Americans who are struggling to make it from week to week, please know that I promise to do what I can to stop this evil -- and I hope you'll join me in not giving up until everyone has a seat at the table.

Thanks for listening. I'm off to Mass in a few hours. I'll be sure to ask the priest if he thinks J.C. deals in derivatives or credit default swaps. I mean, after all, he must've been good at math. How else did he divide up two loaves of bread and five pieces of fish equally amongst 5,000 people? Either he was the first socialist or his disciples were really bad at packing lunch. Or both.

Yours,
Michael Moore

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's the Profits, Stupid! Part deux



Picking up on whatever misguided ideas I may have had about taking the profits out of health insurance in a previous rant, and wondering what the federal government’s role could be in effecting such a thing, the natural thing to do may be to look for precedents and models in our history. Could there be some instance where the feds ever stepped in and authorized the formation of nonprofit consumer-controlled groups to take over the function of out-of-control profit-driven companies, giving us in effect, a “public option?”

I would submit that there is.

On June 26, 1934 U.S. unemployment stood at 22%, the Dust Bowl disaster had ravaged the Central Plains and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law ”An Act to establish a Federal Credit Union System, to establish a further market for securities of the United States, and to make more available to people of small means credit for provident purposes through a national system of cooperative credit, thereby helping to stabilize the credit structure of the United States.”

For anyone seriously worried about what a public option in health insurance might do to our cherished capitalist system, please note that the rise of credit unions in this country did not cause the banking system to collapse and did not lead us right down that slippery slope to socialism. In fact, the credit union movement has quietly flourished for three quarters of a century and manages to thrive even during the ongoing global economic recession - and no taxpayer dollars have ever been used to bail out a credit union.



Credit Union deposits are backed by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) much the same way the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) covers bank deposits. Apparently people have forgotten that the FDIC is a federally sponsored independent insurance company that protects profit-driven financial institutions against loss of profits. I’ve heard no one bother to mention this in any debate over a public option in health care. Rather, we are expected to swallow the lie that any federally sponsored insurance company is an unaffordable and ill-advised step on a slippery slope toward socialism! Apparently, this only applies to one that would protect our health rather than protecting corporate profits.

Congress authorized the NCUSIF in 1970 along with the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the independent management agency created by a law that then-President Richard M. Nixon signed. NCUSIF is a public option insurance resource funded completely by participating credit unions. At the end of 2007 the fund had a balance of $7.3 billion and insured nearly 87 million accounts at 5,036 federal credit unions and 3,065 state-chartered credit unions.

According to www.creditunionsonline.com:
“A credit union is a non-profit, cooperative financial institution owned and operated by its members. Organized to serve and democratically controlled, credit unions provide their members with a safe place to save and borrow at reasonable rates. Credit unions differ from banks and other for-profit financial institutions in that members of a credit union are also owners. The board of directors are elected in a democratic one person-one vote system regardless of the amount of money invested in the credit union. Not for profit, not for charity, but for service is a credit union motto. Since profit is not a motivation, interest rates have been historically favorable for consumers at credit unions compared to banks."
I do not understand why our esteemed leaders in the federal government are not looking into these established and successful ways that they provided a public option in finance as models for providing a public option in health care. The closest they have come is the lame concept of health insurance “coops” that would still just benefit the for-profit insurance companies. Coops would do little more than allow groups of individuals to band together to purchase coverage from existing companies at group rates comparable to employer provided policies.



If We the People are going to be required to carry health insurance, as proposed in the bills now under consideration, it is only right that we should be able to participate in a plan that differs from commercial insurance companies in that we may join together as plan members who are also owners of the insuring institution. Like credit unions, the board of directors for these institutions should be elected in a democratic one person-one vote system regardless of the amount of money invested in the plan.

Not for profit, not for charity, but for service should also be the motto of our public option health insurance system.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's the Profits, Stupid!


Let's go back to square one.

Everyone agrees that the problem with health care in this country, If nothing else, is that health care distribution is way too expensive. Of anyone in this country who has no health insurance - or anyone who pays for their own private insurance - does anyone feel that we are all not paying too much for what we get? And what we are denied even after having paid into the insurance pool for however long?

So what is it that makes the current profit-driven health care distribution system so expensive?

To me, it's easy: profits.

Take out the profits and the obscenely high executive salaries and what have you got? An affordable health care distribution system? Why, yes, as a matter of fact. And a very good one at that.

To the folks who scream that a government run insurance program would not only foretell a socialist takeover but would, in the short term, mean unfair competition with the private insurance industry, President Obama made a very good point in his health care speech before Congress. Good, as far as it went.

He compared state-run universities who do a very good job of educating us to private universities that generally acknowledged as doing a better over all. The state-run schools do not threaten private universities in any way. And no one is calling American state colleges part of a scary socialist system.

But Obama's comparison of universities to insurance companies did not go far enough. It has to be noted that private universities exist almost exclusively nonprofit organizations. They do not produce profits, they do not enrich shareholders. They do accumulate endowments. University endowments can grow quite huge but they are not disbursed to shareholders who are already filthy rich. Rather, university endowments are used as investments to sustain those institutions.

This is not what happens with insurance companies. Instead of building endowments they pay out big dividends to their shareholders. And when their coffers run dry they end up blackmailing the government for taxpayer bailouts.

Insurance company executives make outlandishly huge salaries with very generous perques. Professors and top level administrators in nonprofit, private universities make nothing like the ridiculous money that insurance execs make. But they do make very handsome salaries.

Believe me. I have worked for years among many professors and college administrators in one of the top private universities in the country. I have been a relatively low-level administrator earning a totally livable salary myself and with access to the details of the professors' salary & benefits information. If you check the statistics you will find that "college professors," especially in medical schools (who are often physicians as well as professors) are listed among the highest paid professions you'll find.

Public & private universities alike get lots of money from the government in subsidies and research funding - especially medical research. But these institutions are required to be 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in order to qualify for that government funding.

The current Senate bill voted out of committee requires everyone to carry health insurance. It may provide subsidies from the government - tax money - to pay for insurance for those who cannot afford it. That money will go to insurance companies.

There is nothing in the bill that requires those insurance companies to be nonprofit organizations even though they stand to receive millions in subsidies paid from our taxes. The Senate bill merely creates more customers for profit making companies who will then further enrich their shareholders and executives with our tax money.

If universities and research institutions are required to have 501(c)(3) status in order to qualify for government subsidies and research grants, why should insurance companies not be required to be 501(c)(3) organizations?

This may not necessarily be the silver bullet that cures all our health care woes, but it would be fair and reasonable.

As part of our health care system, private and State Universities are where a great deal of the research, testing and development of new drugs, technologies and treatments is conducted. This is an essential component of health care in this country and is what gives it the real value it has. This is as it should be.

The research that goes on in universities as well as in drug company laboratories is very heavily regulated by the government at both private and state run institutions as well as industry laboratories. It is regulated for the safety of subjects who take part in clinical trials and to make sure everything at this stage is done ethically and soundly according to the highest scientific standards. And so that any drugs, treatments, or devices that come onto the market after this rigorous testing are safe for general use. This is all done largely within an environment where profits are not part of the picture while costs and methodologies are strictly controlled.

Profit-driven drug companies are part of the health care system in this country too. But they are forced to submit to government regulation in the development and pre-market testing of those basic instruments - drugs, devices and all essential elements of medical practice.

Drug companies are, in fact, essential parts of our health care system. They pour large amounts of money into research and development of medical products and are therefore entitled to profit from their efforts. No one believes that medicinal drugs should be allowed to be sold on the open market before undergoing rigorous scientific testing for safety and efficacy. So testing of manufactured drugs is strictly regulated by the government and conducted largely in nonprofit university and other research environments. It is only after those drugs and devices have been put through rigorous testing that the idea of profit comes in.

Drug & device manufacturers do not profit from their efforts until they have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and only then may be justified in pricing their goods to produce profits for their invention and work. Still, access to the most sensitive and dangerous drugs on the market is controlled by the government through requirements of prescription.

This heavy-handed application of government control is deemed appropriate by necessity. It is the role of the government to exercise this kind of control because no one would trust a profit-driven enterprise with such authority.

Manufacturers' profits are justified in the end because they have actually produced something of value and spent millions of dollars in research and development, complying with a barrage of government regulations. I hear no one arguing that drug companies who bring goods to the market should not profit from them.

But the most outrageous profits in our health care system are made by the middle men, the distributors of health care, insurance companies and their investors, who add nothing of value to the product or system but only step in after all the work is done. They step in and totally queer the system. They do nothing but reap the benefits of production, testing and labor done in industry and in the nonprofit sector, after the fact.

The astounding profits insurance companies make come without their doing anything more than gambling with the money we must pay to them for coverage. It is literally legalized gambling. The games of chance they play and force us into are carried out through strategic decision-making in matters of how health care products and services will be distributed in the market. Their decisions are necessarily based on what it takes to return the highest profit to their shareholders.

Given the fact that healthcare is by no means a luxury, what they do is way way above and beyond unfairness. It is unspeakably immoral.

It is immoral for profit-driven health insurance companies to jump in after all the work is done and take control of how much we have to pay and who will get access to treatment - life and death decisions - while taking huge obscene profits and salaries just because they can.

Insurance companies are only incidentally a part of our health care system. And they are the part that adds nothing of value to health care itself.

The only thing they do is make it expensive.

Under the current system, health insurance companies are nothing more than virtual casinos where we the people are forced to place high stakes bets against the odds that we will not stay healthy. As long as we are playing the game and not losing - that is, not getting sick - we just keep ponying up, because it is the only thing that makes us feel at all secure against the knowledge that without insurance we could lose everything. We pony up hoping for a big payoff when we need it.

But as with all casinos (suspiciously also prime attractions for organized crime) the house always wins.

That is the ultimate function of for-profit insurance companies - to make sure the house always wins.

They assure this by controlling the distribution of health care among the losers and infrequent winners who have no choice but to gamble with them - to pay into their schemes. Because there is no alternative. There is no not-for-profit choice. No government control over access and distribution in the market as there is in every other area of health care right here in America.

For those who fear that a government health care system will take away your freedom of choice, listen up! You have NO CHOICE now but to gamble with your health. Call it public option or socialized medicine if you want. We do not have it. And we are the worse off without it. The only ones who are guaranteed a benefit in the current system are those who run the system and profit from all the money you pay into it. The house always wins.

Is this practice really what the tea baggers are so up in arms about defending?

If Health Insurance companies were mostly nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations - that is, if profits were taken out of health care distribution - then politics would also be taken out of health care to a very great extent.

Just as Universities and all other 501(c)(3) organizations are barred from participating in electoral politics and lobbying, so would health insurance organizations be barred from trying to influence legislation. This may be the biggest fear of the health insurance industry - the loss of their ability to influence legislators with campaign contributions and the loss of their ability to use propaganda targeted at ignorant angry insecure crowds to motivate them to lean on their elected representatives to keep their profits rolling in.

Americans are right to feel insecure about the health insurance system as it is and how it may be changed without giving us a not-for-profit alternative. If the tea bagging crowd is concerned about the government taking over health care in this country and forcing us into a socialist dictatorship, it's too bad they do not understand that the government already has control of healthcare in this country, as it should. The government controls every area of health care except where it comes into our lives in a meaningful way and is most needed.

And as it has had this kind of control for more than a half a century.

In the screaming matches over the politics of health care there is never any mention of the DHHS: Department of Health and Human Services - a department of the federal government that has been around since Dwight Eisenhower signed it into existence as the Dept. of Education & Welfare in 1953. It became Health & Human Services in 1979 and incorporated the National Institutes of Health beginning in 1979. DHHS includes the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the 27 agencies that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH) today. After the enormous Department of Defense the DHHS represents the largest government endeavor measured in spending. This dedication of government resources is what gives us the claim to having the best health care system in the world, which we do have -- in every respect except in benefit distributions. And this is due to the lack of a governmental health distribution system.

After more than 50 years of government control of our health care system only now are we being sold the absurd idea that government involvement in health care is a socialist idea.

Clinging to power in the federal government, Repugnicans who defend the status quo profit-driven health care distribution system are the most hypocritical and immoral people in public life today. They may not be totally evil monsters driven by a desire to deprive anyone of access to health care but they are clearly driven by political lust for the power they have lost. They are, then, totally evil monsters because they are intent on reinforcing the ignorance that their tea bagger base brings to the table - by repeating debunked misconceptions, lying and crying about being shut out of the process - only as a calculated strategy to regain power. They are not interested in reforming health care distribution at this time. They only care about making the Democrats fail at the expense of the country.

Based on current and recent experience, there is no reason to trust that any Repugnicans will vote for whatever watered-down bill that comes out of this Administration. Not even the sickeningly weak bill the Senate Committee has produced that gives the profit-driven insurance companies nearly everything they want: most of all millions more unwilling profit-generating customers.

All that Repugnicans want out of the whole flim flam show is to make the Democrats look stupid or weak so that voters will go back to the Repugnican Party next election by default - in order to teach the Democrats a lesson. As usual, the Democrats are feeding right into their stupid game. But the Repugnicans are playing the dirtiest form of power politics at the expense of our lives and well being - and they know it. And it all seems to be working. In the end they are all evil monsters and we are all screwed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Military Industrial Complexities

Hard to believe but there actually was a time when the National Republican Party had not completely sold its soul to the extreme Right Wing Repugnicans who own it lock, stock & barrel today. Ah... those were the days! For a little perspective on what we are dealing with today, let's go back now to those heady days of 1961, shall we?

There was this guy named Eisenhower...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cornholing Teabaggers?


"The Cajun Boy" Posted an article on Cornholing Today at Deadspin.com

I had almost forgotten about my own cornholing experience -- as pertains to the game.

A few years ago I made a rare visit back to the natural habitat of that clan that spawned me many years before - Northern Kentucky. I was talked into making the long grueling drive south in a regrettable moment of weakness by a relative who had planned a sort of outdoor family reunion. At the time Anthony and I had only been together for a year or so and his curiosity about the environment I had escaped only added to the pressure to make the trip together. My first partner had flown the same coop as I had and we spent the rest of his life sharing an equal disdain for all that crap we left behind. Our trips back "home" were so blessedly rare that we missed more than a whole generation of drama and growing pains inflicted on scores of nieces & nephews we'd never know.

The last trip I made, for all its unmemorable qualities was almost made worth it by my discovery that the whole lot of them were totally into this hot new game they called "Cornhole." I can't tell you how giddy it made me to indulge my inner smartass by throwing out every outrageous but obvious joke and irreverent remark that came to mind whenever the subject came up in conversation. What did they expect? Do they know not what they do when they indulge in cornholing?

When I arrived at my brother's house the night before the party they were cornholing right out on the front lawn! In front of God and everybody! No shame at all. They went right on cornholing all evening, in turns, watching each other as they got their own turn to cornhole. Changing partners! My own drunken siblings trading off their wives as cornhole partners - Lord Almighty I have arrived in the land of Sodomites & GaMorons!

All these things I said loud and clear and they laughed along while the night was young. Of course, my brothers grew annoyed at me later - the way straight guys often feel after getting drunk past their limits or when sobering up from a good cornholing.

When we arrived the next day at the outdoor family reunion, what was the first thing I see? "Oh my god!" I had to cry out, "They've got the children cornholing! Have these people no shame at all? What are they doing to these precious children!"

They laughed at my fake admonishments when I huffily condemned them for making a game out of what I call "love!" Ha ha ha... More than once after sensing some confusion I had to ask the particular relative in front of me, whoever it was, "Do you understand what cornholing is? You know it has another, older definition than your little game here." My favorite response was "Yup, I know it something guys in prison do..." To which I obliged the obvious comeback, "Yeah. If they're lucky!"

It was all just too easy. Just like the morons who want to teabag the President, these people have no sense of the irony in their word choices. To them words and phrases are things you find in books and reading leads to socialism so screw it.

I'm sure there was a cornhole tournament somewhere on the DC mall today. It was probably one of the attractions that Ace Cornholer Glenn Beck used to lure the teabaggers there.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Van Jones Resigns



Van Jones' abrupt resignation this weekend is the most disturbing development in Obama's young administration since the announcement of the President's ill-advised surge of troops in Afghanistan. It stinks of typical Democratic Party back-room deals, throwing one of their most expendable associates under the bus in a bargain for some political leverage with the Repugnicans.

Is this the Democrats' idea of a sacrificial offering to the bloodthirsty Repugnicans to win their votes for a watered-down health care reform bill?

Who even heard of Van Jones before now? What was his crime? Calling the Repugnicans by a name they clearly deserve: Assholes? That's even being polite, if you ask me.

Jones once signed a petition calling for an investigation into possible US government collusion in the 9/11 attacks.

This is reason enough for him to resign? More than that - is this reason enough for Obama to accept his resignation?

Dick Cheney shot a guy in the face and did far worse things we'll never hear about. He survived the entire two terms of Bush. And he is still on a mission of unapologetic disinformation, fear and lie-spreading about Obama. There's even talk of drafting him for a run at the presidency.

An article from AlterNet.org sheds some light on the forces taking credit for the sacking of Jones

A very powerful alliance, designed to motivate various iterations of the grass roots of the right wing, is taking shape, and its players are determined to win by any means necessary -- be they racism, red-baiting, violence or lies. Americans for Prosperity, Grassfire, Freedom Works (the Astroturf group led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey) and the Murdoch empire -- especially as represented by Glenn Beck -- have teamed up to keep the air dirty, the poor in their place and more people dying every day for lack of health care. But more than anything, they've joined hands to keep the preponderance of the earth's riches in the hands of a very few -- the rest of us be damned. They're determined to die with the most toys, leaving a poisoned and impoverished planet as their legacy.


http://www.alternet.org/story/142481/big_business%27s_hidden_hand_in_the_smear_job_on_van_jones?page=entire

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

No One Does It Like You

Department of Eagles' new (official) video directed by Patrick Daughters and Marcel Dzama for the single "No One Does It Like You" premiered at MoMA on September 1, 2009. Deceptively simple imagery/haunting music, recommended by my good friend Judith so you know it is going to be disturbing in the end.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Tea Baggers Have a Point.



If we allow the government take over the Health Care System in this country where will that lead?

Next they'll want to control the Military - Our National Security System!

Then they'll want to meddle in the Courts and claim ownership of our whole Legal System!

Local Police and Fire departments will become tools of the government!

Prisons will be run by bureaucrats in Warshington DC!

The Postal Service too!

Look out! Even the Education of our Children will become a state run enterprise!

Oh my God! Think if the government got control of ANY of those things we would be well on our way to being a Godless SOCIALIST country!

It's a slippery slope, people! And it's creeping up on us. Mark my words.

The day will come when the government steps in and takes over control of the ELECTIONS in this democracy!

Thank the Glorious Gods of Capitalism that their true representatives on Earth, our Benevolent Corporate Overlords will NEVER let that happen!

Never!

Greed is Good! Health Care? WHO Cares?

The Gods must be appeased!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Losing Afghanistan



General Stanley McChrystal, the recently appointed commander
of the US army in Afghanistan, has given an extraordinary
interview to the Wall Street Journal, in which he says America
is losing the war and the military has one year to get
results before public support evaporates.

Read the interview here:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124986154654218153.html

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Average Americans?

By tradition, the Congressional Summer Recess, now under way, is a key time when our representatives in Washington have to go home and spend time in States and districts. They often use these breaks in their normal schedules to check in with their constituencies - We the People - providing opportunities to be seen by the average Americans who elected them, and to let us hear from their own mouths what they're up to as our representatives.

This gives us, the people, a rare chance to engage them personally the same way that well-paid professional lobbyists do routinely while they are at work in DC.

One of the most pressing issues that will be on the table when our legislators reconvene is the pending Health Care Reform bill, which you no doubt know already -- unless you've been living under a rock. Democrats in Congress have shown willingness to enact the most radical reform yet in our health care system, though their version is still far from a universal system, otherwise known as "Socialized Medicine" that we really need and deserve. The best idea they have been pressured into including is to provide a "public option." This would presumably allow all Americans the choice of signing on to an employer-provided insurance plan, another group plan with private insurance or to use a health insurance plan paid for out of public funds - a tax supported insurance plan.

The Repugnicans, on the other hand, have reacted to the very idea that our health care system may need fixing with predictable over-the top fake outrage and hyperbole -- but no alternative other than to sustain the untenable and expensive status quo. Obviously, their only concern is to protect the ridiculously high profits that insurance companies reap under the status quo -- those same companies that own what has become the increasingly bizarre Repugnican franchise, lock stock and barrel.

For this summer's recess, in the year that health care reform has a chance of actually passing, the Repubnican syndicate is taking its noisy empty-headed freak show on the road, exploiting cadres of excitable racists, homophobes, religious fanatics and other deviants and malcontents who are fed up with having to endure life with a queer-loving, satan-worshipping, secret muslim/commie, half breed nigger getting so much air time up there on their TV sets. The job these simple minds are given is simply to attract attention by being their rude true selves which is guaranteed to land some of their own pasty white faces and red necks on TV to lend some balance to the dark sinister face of that Obama character who wasn't even born in this country as far as they know. Health care? Who cares? There could be any issue on the table and they'll be there if they might get on TV. Heck, you don't even have to pay a lot of them!

The Repugnicans learned how exploitable these volunteer hotheads can be to their Stop Obama/Fail America campaign during the 2008 presidential campaign when their hot but stupid VP pick, Ellie Mae Clampett, played better with the ignorant hillbilly gang than Gomer Pyle did as the top of their ticket. Not enough to win, thank god, but enough to stop any kind of progress by pissing us all off so much we have no rational choice but to block them out. So all these rude and hateful meat puppets have to do to shut down any discussion about important things is to rudely, loudly disrupt the exchange, no matter what the topic may be.

I am getting so sick and tired of these ugly hateful mobs that I just end up feeling dirty and, moreover, inadequate to the task of thinking up enough invectives with which to denounce them. There is just no way I can think of to talk about them with any kind of respect that humans deserve. All I can think to do is turn to a professional who is skilled in talking about such things with appropriate restraint. Who would that be, you ask?


Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News,



If these are "Average Americans" all I can say is how sad it is that the bar has been set so low. And whatever happened to the good old American idea of bettering yourself through competition to become above average?

Now the goddamn idiots at Faux News and that lying sack of excrement, Rush Limbaugh, have the nerve to try and portray supporters of Health Care Reform as the ones who are stirring up trouble! Those Repugnican mouthpieces are decrying the Service Employees International Union as violent thugs after an SEIU member was violently teabagged at a Town Hall meeting yesterday (Aug 6)! See for yourself and then sign the SEIU petition at their website.




If you want to know what truth there is behind the charges those nutbags are spouting against the Health Care Reform bill, check out the point-by-point debunking featuree at Salon.com
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/08/06/healthcare/print.html

Thursday, July 23, 2009

This October: Take it Back to Washington!

by Al Falafel

It's been quite some time since we had a good old fashioned National March on Washington for LGBT-Q Rights. Momentum is starting to build for a massive gathering on the Mall in October. Cleve Jones is recognized as the driving force behind this one dubbed "EQUALITY ACROSS AMERICA."

Jones was the originator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt twenty years ago. At its first national appearance the AIDS Quilt literally blanketed more than half the Mall for our last big March in 1988. It was overwhelming then to walk among the thousands of panels, each one created for a person lost to AIDS.

By 1992, for the National March for AIDS Awareness it had grown to be too big to lay out on the Mall and we only got to see part of it.

Now the sad fact is that the quilt could probably drape the moon :(!

It's always been too much for me to get anywhere near without having a total emotional breakdown.



WILL YOU BE THERE? Sign up at the website for news, updates, and developing information. http://equalityacrossamerica.org/

SEE YOU IN OCTOBER!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Lies, Damn Lies, and... Statistics?

In his Autobiography, Mark Twain famously wrote " There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

This phrase came up recently on BBC Radio's coverage of the American debates on health care reform. BBC commentators often ridicule our overwrought fears in the US of socialized medicine and universal health care, which they take for granted. And feel very protective of. As do most of the industrialized countries in the world. It is hard for most people on the planet to conceive of a situation where free access to health care is not considered a basic right.

And they are not afraid to call it what it is: Socialized Medicine. It seems that the only people on the planet who let any form of the word "socialism" stall needed health care reform efforts are easily manipulated citizens of a country that professes a natural right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

When it comes to health care you can always count on scaring Americans into voting against their own self interest if you frighten them with the "specter of Communism," as Karl Marx called it.

Even Repugnican proponents of the status quo that is our profit-driven, insurance-company-controlled system acknowledge ours as the most expensive health care system in the world. But since high cost to consumers means high profits to corporate shareholders Repugnicans take this as a positive thing! No matter how it is framed, however, the rest of the world sees right through this disingenuous point and laughs at us for allowing shameless Repugnicans to get away with it. They marvel at how ignorant and gullible we Americans are to buy into such baloney, especially when they hear that 40 million of us have no health care coverage at all!

It was in reference to our glaring inadequacy and the often suppressed statistics which embarrassingly point up the inferiority of the US health care system - our relatively high infant mortality rate and short life expectancy - that the BBC commentator made the observation that Repugnicans "have long engaged in lies, damn lies and statistics... but now they don't even bother with the statistics!"

Infant mortality rate - number of deaths/live births per thousand & number of deaths-by-age-5/thousand live births - coupled with average life expectancy is a common sense and widely accepted measure of health care effectiveness. In both cases the US ranks behind all the European countries, including those that provide socialized medicine. We barely outrank Croatia, Malta, Martinique and Poland: our nearest competitors in infant mortality. New Caledonia, Cyprus and Brunei slightly beat us on this measure. That's the company we keep though. And it's no better in the area of life expectancy where we do a little better here than they do in Albania and Kuwait. But one area where we consistently outrank every other country in the world is in health care SPENDING! According to statistics, spending on health care in the US is 53% higher than all other countries! USA! USA! USA! We're number 1!

Speaking of damn liars, the Repugnican ogre we know as Pat Buchanan reared his ugly head again this week and had it neatly handed to him by the wonderfully unflappable Rachel Maddow. On her nightly MSNBC program Maddow graciously provided Buchanan an opportunity to show his true colors, which are, of course, white, whiter and whitest. Never one to back down from any chance to assert his racist ideology, Pat gave a spirited defense of his heart-felt belief in the superiority of "his people" (whites) and their exclusive entitlement to the best of everything that exists. He summed it all up in his statement that "White men wrote the Constitution and it was White men who built this country!"

When it comes to recalling how this country was founded and built, of course, Buchanan ignores certain embarrassing historical facts while selectively affirming others, like all damn liars do. He would undoubtedly agree that those white men of the 18th Century who wrote the Constitution and before it the Declaration of Independence, relied heavily on the then revolutionary principles that came out of Western Philosophy's Age of Enlightenment.

Sounds so nice, doesn't it? Enlightenment!

At that time however, the onset of the Industrial Revolution had not yet hit the North America shores. So through most of the 18th and 19th centuries the bulk of work that it took to build this nation's agriculture-based economy was done primarily by our indispensable reliance on slave labor.

Remember slavery and slave ownership?

Especially in the Southern States where Buchanan, native to Washington DC, has his strongest following today, the indisputable fact is that mostly African slave labor provided the means of production that built this country. It was the introduction of internal combustion machinery and electrification of our farms and cities that made slavery obsolete. American-owned slaves, who comprised less than a tenth of the total Southern population in 1680, grew to a third by 1790. According to Economic History Services: http://eh.net , "Nearly 4 million slaves with a market value of close to $4 billion lived in the U.S. just before the Civil War."

Who did you say built this country, Pat?

,

Old fogies like Buchanan and his Repugnican ilk would have us ignore the historical record of these last couple of centuries if it works against their political agenda. When working their "strict constructionist, original intent" theories of interpreting Constitutional law, they resent outright any mention of this country's and our founders' greatest shame: an accommodation of slavery.

They argue that the War Between the States and the Emancipation of Slaves in the 19th Century negated all that ugliness so why does it ever have to come up again?

Of course, when arguing against such things as women's equality, reproductive rights and especially same-sex marriage they feel it is wholly appropriate and legitimate to rely on intentional misinterpretations of not just centuries but millennia of history to falsely justify continuing ignorance and legal discrimination in the 21st Century.

Rachel Maddow told Buchanan he was "dating" himself by spouting such racist, sexist and homophobic arguments.

She is right, of course. And the same applies to all those crude and despicable Repugnican Senators who had the gall to suggest that Justice Sotomayor is a racist like themselves. They ineloquently twisted her powerful and inspiring words into something vile that supposedly needs to be defended. They demean her obvious wisdom while addressing her, a sitting Federal Judge, with little more than thinly veiled contempt. All of this as the glare of TV lights and cameras captured every malicious crack in their ultimately impotent attempts to quash her All-American aspirations for a seat on what they would preserve as a whites-only bench in the ultimate old boys' club.

Viewers were spared an even uglier spectacle than what could have come during the televised Senate confirmation hearings -- thanks only to the Repugnicans' considerable restraint of their true feelings toward Puerto Ricans and African Americans such as our President who nominated Sotomayor for Supreme Court Justice.

The Repugnican Party is rightfully concerned about alienating what's left of their inexplicable but dwindling voter support among immigrant and minority populations. After being beaten by an honest-to-God black candidate topping the Democratic ticket, Repugnicans have failed to stop the hemorrhaging of their minority membership. Nor have they fooled many minorities by reacting to the outcome of the last election: propping up an unknown and ineffective token, Michael Steel to confuse them (black faces do not all look alike to people who aren't totally racist). And their cynical embrace of that back water blow-up doll named Sarah Palin as a potential party leader on the national level continues to blow up in their faces.

So concerned are they for their survival as a Party that their behind-the-scenes leadership, for the benefit of the viewing audience, obviously enforced a muzzle on their rabid bitches who hold seats on the Judiciary Committee: Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, Orin Hatch, Jeff Sessions, Charles Grassley, Jon Kyl and Tom Coburn. Each of them a white male, barely able to hide his snarling frustration at being a member of the dominant race that is soon to reach statistical minority status in the United States.

On Rachel Maddow's show Pat Buchanan pathetically decries what he sees as rampant discrimination against white males everywhere. With minority populations growing fast, long suffering white Repugnican men seem to be in practice under Big Daddy Buchanan's tutelage. Is he teaching them how to cry "discrimination!" in preparation for an ever nearer future when they will finally lose their last ostensibly credible claim to privilege and entitlement as part of some majority that no longer exists?

It is correct to say that by their attitudes they date themselves.

It is perhaps more correct to say that they have outlived their usefulness to their party, their country and humanity itself. Isn't it time the Repugnicans, as a national political Party go the way of the Whigs?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What Judge Sotomayor SHOULD have said?


What Judge Sotomayor now famously said in that speech at the University of California in October, 2001 was this...

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

Given the desperate lengths that Repugnican blowhards have gone to read some evidence of "reverse racism" into this expression of Sotomayor's "hope" (not stated as a belief), we can assume that the remark would have been better received among the GOP if she had just worded it a little differently.

I can imagine that, if she had just put it another way, she may have been nominated earlier by Bush and would have breezed through the confirmation process when the Repugnicans were in charge. We could already have her as Chief Justice on the Court if she had just tweaked her wording to read something like this...

"I would hope that any white male would more often than not reach a better conclusion than the wisest Latina woman whose wretched life experiences could obviously never measure up to those of her white male superiors."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

EXPOSED: CORPORATE SABOTAGE OF US HEALTH CARE REFORM EFFORTS

Wendell Potter recently stepped down as Head of Corporate Communications for Philadelphia based CIGNA Corporation, one of the largest "managed-care" health insurance companies in the world. In that job he served as the top commander in the industry's propaganda war against real health care reform in the US. His charge was to protect and advance the exorbitant profits of his employer and its investors -- at all costs.

Potter now admits to making full use of scare tactics, lies, disinformation and well-funded efforts to discredit any attempt to make the American public aware of the truth behind our corrupt, greed-driven HMO system.

In May he defected from the dark force army of Corporate Health Insurance and joined up with the Center for Media and Democracy where he has assumed the title and role of Senior Fellow on Health Care. Potter has newly committed himself to exposing those "No holds barred/Take no prisoners" tactics he previously employed to keep Americans ignorant and in debt to CIGNA and other profit-gouging companies, no matter what the expense to our health and even our lives.


His courageous turnaround at this moment in history is an act of true patriotism as a heavily-lobbied Congress grapples with reforming the American Health Care system. The industry, on the other hand, only continues to defraud the people. And, by its on-going profiteering and buy-outs of our representatives in Congress, they have played a mostly stealth role in the wrecking of the global economy. They have not yet found a rationale for trying to bilk the government for a bail out like other industries have .

You can follow Potter's blog on CMD's website at http://www.prwatch.org/blog/35267

One of the health industry's major targets in the propaganda war Potter managed was the 2007 documentary "SICKO" and its director Michael Moore. The depths to which CIGNA stooped to discredit Moore and his movie's comparison of our pathetic for-profit health care system to the state-run systems in other countries is downright astounding. This weekend PBS stations across the country are airing an episode of Bill Moyer's Journal where Potter reveals in an interview how his job was to stop the movie from reaching a wide audience (and, more importantly, from having the widespread political impact the industry feared "Sicko" would have).

Potter tells Moyer that "Sicko," in fact, "hit the nail on the head" and told the real truth about how much better people in other countries have it when it comes to their health care.

See the clip below and check your local listings...



See also ABC News Report:Health Insurance Insider: 'They Dump the Sick'
Retired Health Insurance Executive Blows the Whistle on His Former Industry


And, "In the Belly of The Beast: Interview with Wendell Potter" at OpEdNews.com