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Monthly Archives: December 2009

Did he or didn’t he?

My, my.  Now we’re going to argue about whether or not the President promised a public option while he was on the campaign trail.  He says he did not.  He is technically correct.  He is always very careful to be technically correct.  He is a very slippery eel about being technically correct.  He did not promise a “public option” on the campaign trail, because the phrase had not been coined yet – NOT ONE SINGLE candidate used the phrase, either in a positive or a negative way, because no-one invented the term until the members of Congress actually started working on the various bills.

He DID promise he would only sign a bill which contained a public option, but that remark was not made on the campaign trail, it was made after he entered the White House.  Technicalities; see how they work?

Here is an example of what he was promising on the campaign trail, from a typical speech made by Obama, the candidate:
“Well, we’re here today because we know that if we’re going to make real progress, this time must be different. Throughout my career, in Illinois and the United States senate, I’ve worked to reduce the power of the special interests by leading the fight for ethics reform. I’ve sent a strong signal in this campaign by refusing the contributions of registered federal lobbyists and PACs. And today, I’m announcing that going forward, the Democratic National Committee will uphold the same standard and won’t take another dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs. They do not fund my campaign. They will not fund our party. And they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I’m President of the United States.

“It’s time to finally challenge the special interests and provide universal health care for all. That’s why I’m running for President of the United States – because I believe that health care should be guaranteed for every American who wants it and affordable for every American who needs it.”

This is what he was running on – universal health care.  Free from corporate interests. Guaranteed for all Americans.

Universal health care is so far superior to a “public option”, such a sweeping promise,  that the pundits should be damned for even quibbling over whether or not he used the words “public option” on the campaign trail.  Where the hell is our “universal health care?”, is what I want to know.

And, of course, the repeated promise to end the stranglehold of the special interests over health care – the insurance and pharma corporations –  was broken as soon as he stepped into the White House and invited them to “do lunch”.

Nah, he didn’t promise a public option while campaigning.  He promised it after the election.  (And intends to break that promise; he has already said he would sign the Senate version of the bill, which contains no public option.)   He did promise universal health care free of influence from the big companies.  And broke both those promises in one fell swoop shortly after elected.

Update:  Now Mr. Obama promises he will “roll up his sleeves”, “get to work”,  and “help” Reid and Pelosi “hammer out a compromise” between the Senate and House bills.   God help us, more “hammering” and “working”?   More “compromising”?  What are they going to add to it now? Maybe repeal the votes for women and blacks?  Re-enact prohibition?  Insert an amendment that if election day falls on, say, a Tuesday, you can only vote Republican?  Hopefully, he’ll break this promise, too, and stay the hell away.  Congress has made enough of a joke of this all by themselves and it’s fairly clear what Obama’s idea of help is.

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Posted by on December 24, 2009 in big ag/pharma, Congress, elections

 

We are the butterflies of chaos theory.

The US government tries very hard to pretend that they just don’t understand why those “other people” over-react when we terrorize them with drone-bombs and interfere in their governments, when in fact we know very well that the reactions of other countries will be anger and a desire for revenge. The Pentagon insists it is some sort of inscrutable butterfly effect. (Well, who could have foreseen that Saddam would be such a douche-bag to his own people? Especially after we worked so hard to put him in power. Now we have to do something about it, sigh.) Truth is, we are the butterflies, albeit very heavily armed ones, and we know exactly and perfectly well that we are unleashing chaos. That is, in fact, the point.

Seymour Hersch wrote an article in ’08 which opens with this:

“Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program.

“Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since last year. These have included seizing members of Al Quds, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, and the pursuit of “high-value targets” in the President’s war on terror, who may be captured or killed. But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded, according to the current and former officials. Many of these activities are not specified in the new Finding, and some congressional leaders have had serious questions about their nature.

“Under federal law, a Presidential Finding, which is highly classified, must be issued when a covert intelligence operation gets under way and, at a minimum, must be made known to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate and to the ranking members of their respective intelligence committees—the so-called Gang of Eight. Money for the operation can then be reprogrammed from previous appropriations, as needed, by the relevant congressional committees, which also can be briefed.

“The Finding was focussed on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” The Finding provided for a whole new range of activities in southern Iran and in the areas, in the east, where Baluchi political opposition is strong, he said.”

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/07/080707fa_fact_hersh#ixzz0aPYP8YSP

Does one suppose that the Iranians are completely unaware that we are doing this? And do we suppose that our inference in their nation and its politics, yet again, will not make them want to build some protection for themselves and cause their leadership to lash out about America and its Pax Americana goals?

When I read about the things we do in and to foreign countries, unprovoked, I always speculate about the reversal of the scenario: Suppose some foreign country decided that the American KKK was subversive, anti-democratic, and a potential terrorist threat to them as non-whites. They decide to declare a “war on terror” and claim the right to drone-bomb members of the KKK, infiltrate the US clandestinely to target and remove the leadership of the KKK to other countries where they will be tortured and interrogated. They expand the definition of KKK to include anyone who has ever associated, knowingly or not, with a member of that group. What would our reaction be? Even though most of us (I hope) find the KKK really repulsive, we would leap to their defense, wouldn’t we?

But then my musings come to a screeching halt as I realize that 30% of the American population would just ascribe the disappearance of their neighbors to The Rapture, don baptismal gowns and go sit on their roof-tops to await Jesus.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2009 in drones, Iran, Iraq, MIC

 

An e-mail from the President

This e-mail came from President Barack Obama at info@barackobama.com.  It was an e-mail sent to thank everyone on his mailing list who helped garner the 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass health reform.  This bit of soaring oratory serves as a reminder as to why we elected the current president; not because his signature piece of legislation is so close to passing under his watchful eye and will benefit Americans of every stripe, but because he is so awesomely adroit at shining up a rotten apple and passing it out as a treat.  You will note that he praises every one of us equally for this rotten bill, thus spreading the blame among us all.  This is most clever, and serves to hide the true culprits who should be shunned and shamed for trying to pass this horseshit off as “reform” or “healthcare” – the Senate, the House, the health insurance and pharma corporations and their lobbyists, and Obama himself, who made deals with them all behind closed doors before discussions ever began.  We are getting exactly the bill Obama wants us to have and intended us to have all along.

I have taken the liberty of inserting a few more honest remarks in brackets under his sentences to clarify his real meaning for those of us who haven’t quite learned his lingo yet.  Don’t fret; the language is a slippery thing, but within a couple of years, you too will be able to interpret these speeches for yourself.

The e-mail:

Early this morning, the Senate made history and health reform cleared its most important hurdle yet — garnering the 60 votes needed to move toward a final vote in that chamber later this week.

[It turns out all we needed to do was have Democrats bribe other Democrats with promises of spending your tax dollars on projects in their home states.  Let’s face it, this piece of crap legislation was not going to get done on lobbyist bribes alone.]


This marks the first time in our nation’s history that comprehensive health reform has come to this point. And it appears that the American people will soon realize the genuine reform that offers security to those who have health insurance and affordable options to those who do not.

[Our legislative bodies noted with keen interest the willingness of the American public to allow the rape of the economy during this past year, and decided to go for broke.  Those of you who claim to lack the funds to purchase plans from private insurance carriers will face fines, mandates, and the threat of a jail cell – quite a “secure” one, I assure you.]

I’m grateful to Senator Harry Reid and every senator who’s been working around the clock to make this happen. And I’m grateful to you, and every member of the Organizing for America community, for all the work you have done to make this progress possible.


[I am not impressed with you liberals, however, who have tried subversively at every step of the way to change this bill from insurance coverage to “health-care” coverage.  But thanks to the Patriot Act, the re-enactment of which I promised to vote against, but then voted for in a crafty sleight-of-hand maneuver, I know who you are.]

After a nearly century-long struggle, we are now on the cusp of making health insurance reform a reality in the United States of America.

As with any legislation, compromise is part of the process. But I’m pleased that recently added provisions have made this landmark bill even stronger. Between the time when the bill passes and the time when the insurance exchanges get up and running, insurance companies that try to jack up their rates do so at their own peril. Those who hike their prices may be barred from selling plans on the exchanges.


[I assure you that I have spoken to them most sternly on this very subject. The CEO’s who were able to attend my meeting seemed very impressed with my mastery of rhetoric and as an example of how closely they were paying attention, they insisted I use the words “may be barred” rather than “will be barred”. So you see how that works.]

And while insurance companies will be prevented from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions once the exchanges are open, in the meantime there will be a high-risk pool where people with pre-existing conditions can purchase affordable coverage.


[The exchanges will be open in 2013. It is to be assumed that most of you with pre-existing conditions will have passed on by then.]

A recent amendment has made these protections even stronger. Insurance companies will now be prohibited from denying coverage to children immediately after this bill passes. There’s also explicit language in this bill that will protect a patient’s choice of doctor. And small businesses will get additional assistance as well.

These protections are in addition to the ones we’ve been talking about for some time. No longer will insurance companies be able to drop your coverage if you become sick and no longer will you have to pay unlimited amounts out of your own pocket for treatments that you need.

Under this bill families will save on their premiums; businesses that would see their costs rise if we don’t act will save money now and in the future. This bill will strengthen Medicare and extend the life of the program. Because it’s paid for and gets rid of waste and inefficiency in our health care system, this will be the largest deficit reduction plan in over a decade.


[Well, actually, we plan to tax small businesses into oblivion and may need to completely repeal abortion rights for the sluts among you, and you will, of course, have to pay up to 50% of your income for treatments your insurance company won’t cover before the supplementals kick in, but you could have been born in a wealthy family.  Congress cannot be responsible for your lack of foresight.  We will strengthen Medicare until next year, at which time we will dissolve it completely. I’m sure someone in my perpetual campaign will inform you at the appropriate time. Please note that deficit reduction is now the most important item on my agenda.  I am so very grateful to the Republicans for showing me how to properly run a government and welcome all their ideas in the spirit of bipartisanship.]

Finally, this reform will extend coverage to more than 30 million Americans who don’t have it.


[It will only cost what the insurance companies decide to charge, plus extra for shipping, handling, lobbying, and executive bonuses.  AND, you will each receive a lovely set of ginsu knives if you get Congress to act now.  This offer is limited and available in only certain viewing areas.]

And your passion, your work, your organizing helped make all of this possible. Now it’s time to finish the job.


[Speaking of which, Congress is almost ready to take up the jobs issue.  I fully expect them to implement the wonderful ideas of my good friends, Rahm, Tim, and Ben, who have suggested the repeal of all unemployment benefits and social security, as well as abolishing any jobs not related to military conquest. They also suggest replacing local police forces with the highly-trained staff members of Xe, and imposing a direct EFT transfer of all citizen wages to Goldman, Sachs, which, I am sure you will agree, will be the most cost-effective method of completing the job I have set out to do.  At that time, and that time only, will I be able to say, “The job is done.  The average American is complete toast.”]

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

He should have also added a PS, as follows:  [PS – You will note that the Senate Finance Committee has today soundly endorsed my BFF, Ben Bernanke, for another four years of chairmanship of the Federal Reserve.  His singular lack of any ability to foresee the economic crisis while serving for the past four years has made him “too big to fail” and thus the perfect candidate for this post.   He will continue the looting of our country as planned by the prior administration.  Now I know that some of you look askance at a few of his comments to the finance committee and may in particular find his remark that Congress should repeal Social Security and Medicare because “entitlements are where the money is” to be both dangerous and repugnant.  I assume that those of you who think this way are liberal, cheeto-breath losers who do not see it is in the best interest of the country that certain, well, sacrifices must be borne by all, but most particularly by the elderly, the meek, the lame and the halt.  It is not for nothing that the Statue of Liberty invites the poor and the downtrodden into our borders.  They are such easy targets.]

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2009 in big ag/pharma, corporatocracy, elections

 

President Obama’s escalation speech.

Last night, the president gave a speech stating his reasons for escalating the occupation (I refuse to call it a war, you may call it what you like) in Afghanistan.  I happen to think that actually, this was a speech on the jobs summit findings, given in advance of the actual jobs summit. We want the TAPI pipeline right where the Taliban are. What a pain in the ass. So we have to move them, kill them, whatever. Let’s hope the public confuses the Taliban with al-Qaeda, very subtly done by Obama last night, I thought, to keep up support for the occupation.  We have to support war (this one, that one, any one) because that’s the only place we have job growth. Job openings in the military, mercenary groups, big weapons manufacturers, no-bid contractor companies like Bechtel and KBR, CIA/Homeland Security, and now private civilian corps, who will certainly do something useful and profitable overseas after they finish their training in Ohio (or wherever).

There are even jobs for the Taliban in this. Part of the Obama plan is to find “reluctant” Taliban (those who are only Taliban because they’ve got nothing better to do) and re-integrate them into tribal life by finding them jobs, which we will pay for. Partly funded by lowering the amount of money given to USAid and the other groups which build medical clinics, etc. No wonder Obama didn’t talk about helping women in Afghanistan.

Our money is all in a few big banks now and they aren’t lending it out, they are hoarding it. These big banks have so much on hand (roughly a trillion in excess funds that we taxpayers gave them and that the Fed simply printed up and gave them) that Bernanke and Geithner are worried about excess liquidity in the market which would lead to hyper-inflation. The Fed or hell, Congress, could require the banks to lend it out, make the banks put the money back into actual service in the economy, use it to stimulate small business growth and job creation, but instead, the Fed has decided to do “reverse repo’s”. This is a tricky little maneuver wherein the Fed takes the cash from the banks and gives them an IOU with interest. The Fed basically warehouses the money for a year, and at the end of the year, gives it back to the banks with 1% interest.

This means the Fed doesn’t have to raise interest rates and it staves off hyper-inflation, but it also means the banks have another year to piddly-fart around without lending to anyone. And then get 1.1 trillion bucks back. Of our money.

So there IS no jobs plan, beyond endless war, which is now THE jobs plan.

I got so used to listening for Bush’ code words that when I hear them now they tend to jump out at me. I found certain parts of the speech last night troubling because of the implications domestically. I am focusing for the moment on the problems we have right here at home and the implications raised by a few of Obama’s remarks, rather than analyzing the Global Hegemony aspects of the speech.  (I know this makes me a “protectionist”, but then, I live here.)  As I said earlier,  endless war is basically the only answer Washington seems to have for economic troubles: create a war to create jobs. It’s a very old Republican solution to this issue.

Obama managed to mention the deficit in this speech. He’s been making lots of little comments about the “deficit” and “balancing the budget” lately.  “Balancing the budget” is Republican for “lowering the taxes on the wealthy while simultaneously cutting entitlement programs”.  Although why a program like Medicare or Social Security, paid for directly by taxation from paychecks is considered “entitlement”, I’ll never figure out.  Unless, of course, the meaning of the word is, in those cases, the actual definition of “entitlement”: you are naturally entitled to it because you put the money in that account yourself.   Somehow, I don’t think that’s the usage they intend; they use the word “entitlement” sneeringly, as though people who receive medicare were getting something to which they never contributed.  In any case, all this talk of deficit trimming doesn’t bode well for meaningful health care reform, which isn’t going to happen in any case, if one can judge by the crap bills the House and Senate have come up with. It also doesn’t look too good for job creation, further stimulus or protection of the Medicare and Social Security systems.

And what was THIS nugget?

From Obama’s speech: “And we can’t count on military might alone. We have to invest in our homeland security, because we can’t capture or kill every violent extremist abroad. We have to improve and better coordinate our intelligence, so that we stay one step ahead of shadowy networks.”

If Bush said that, and combining it with the “terror alert” aspects of Obama’s speech, also very Bush-like, we would know instinctively that we were about to lose one more little civil liberty and spend a gazillion dollars on some Spy on Your Neighbor program. When Obama says it, it sounds to me like his FISA vote before the election was not aberrant at all, but one of his actual (as opposed to professed) beliefs. It sounds like maybe we should be prepared to lose one more little civil liberty and spend a gazillion dollars on some Spy on Your Neighbor program.

But maybe that’s just job creation, too, and one we can do right here at home. Sigh. And Obama put his usual emphasis on bi-partisan unity; we should all support and get behind the occupation/war. Actually, that’s at least a little honest; why even pretend we have two parties any more?  However, I bristle at the thought of being united in the blame for this.  Some of us never did support the endless “wars on terror”, gave good reasons for it, and should not feel bullied into sharing the shame of them in the name of bipartisan unity.

Any day now, our “Change” President will rip off his shirt and reveal the big R painted on his chest.

Which is why the escalation speech was the jobs speech.  Join the military, or work for GE or Lockheed.  That’s all we got.

It worked for Rome – half the population in the military, the other half working themselves to death to support the military – at least, it worked until the sucker collapsed, but the ending so spoils the story, I think.