Saturday, November 14, 2009

Statement on Kenneth Quinnell and the Florida Anti-Progressive Coalition

Vers 2.0 (posted Weds morning) with new section "Why I am Shrill and Angry"

Comrades, I write you this morning banned and in exile in the swamps of far southern Florida. Like Obi Wan Kenobi struck down by the Evil Darth Quinnell in Episode I, I shall now only grow more powerful. We shall overcome. Shalom. Today I have torn up my Democratic Party voter registration card and shall register Monday with the Florida Green Party. I urge all of you do the same, but support genuine progressive Democrats (genuine, not all the fake progressives) and temporarily re-register Dem if you find one to vote for in a given election.

If you are new to the current controversy, the background is in the immediate posts below.

The immediate issue is that the so-called Florida Coalition Blog and Radio (which would more accurately be called the “Kenneth Quinnell Democratic Party Networking and Career Promotion site”), when it could have been a genuine force for a progressive reformation of the Democratic Party, instead is a Democratic Party Establishment, business as usual, more of the same, nothing will change, power elite propaganda organ with no serious critical examination of the domination of the party by conservative-big business-militarist forces whose control is facilitated by amoral consultants and political operatives such as KQ. I urge everyone at the FPC and its mysterious and no-contact-info-on-file board to make the FPC fully independent of any political party and its corrupting influences and the corrosive political career ambitions of any individuals. Since that ain’t gonna happen as it is now so clear that KQ will throw any individual, constituency or cause that interferes with his ambition for power under the bus, I call on all of you to work for the formation of an independent statewide Left blog and radio network to give voice to the social and economic justice and anti-war movements and their electoral counterparts in Progressive
Democrats of America, the Florida Green Party and the scattered individuals in the Democratic Party clubs.

Furthermore, I caution all of you that the FPC is every much a Mainstream Corporate Establishment media outlet as the MSM we all keep harping about. Don’t read it. We would all be better off it fades away, which it probably will once KQ lands his big power job. Find alternatives such as the Florida PDA and Green Party sites among others and attend at least one
of their meetings. You will be amazed at the higher level of political and moral awareness you find with them than from KQ and the FPC. FPC subtly corrodes and shapes your mind to support the interests of the ongoing Democratic Party power elites, which are not yours in the same way the Republican Party apparatus uses dumb people to Tea Bag and demonstrate against their own values and middle class interests, although it not so crass a way.

“Dear Ken,

I don’t love you anymore; you’re part of the problem.

You are a party hack, a careerist and a sycophant with a shockingly low level of political and moral awareness. But I don’t single you out. There are thousands like you in the Democratic Party in this country who are the problem. There is nothing unique about your own personal attributes in this regard and all of us are fortunate that this isn’t the typical petty egotistical
bitch cat fight that breaks out between activists. We can focus on the fundamentals. Nor does any of what I say here have to do with your snuffing out our show and voices. I realized two years ago what you are doing. I just didn't speak out because I didn't want you kicking me off the blog. Tee hee.

I call on you to end your conflict of interest as the manager of a blog of supposedly independent thinking of all progressives while serving as a paid internet campaigner for Kendrick Meek. Come clean and tell us who leaned on you to cancel our show. Those of us who know KQ know that to his great credit and integrity he has allowed us commentators complete freedom of
expression. Not once did KQ ever censor a word of my controversial thoughts. Tell us KQ, we deserve to know who controls the FPC. This a “teachable moment”. We all need to know how power works in the Florida blogosphere. Is the FPC really caught up and a tool of the Kendrick Meek-escalate-the-war-in-Afghanistan campaign? It was your boss Steve Schale, right? What did he tell you? Did you resist his demand? Did you two argue? Was it heated? Did you put up a fight, and then cave? Or just cave since it’s your ticket to a U.S. Senate staff job. Did he threaten to fire you? Or was it the henchman for the aggressive Ted Deutch, my other prime suspect? Deutch shut down Dennis Kucinich’s keynote, why not go after me too? Tell us KQ, it’s great for our ratings. This thing needs to go national.

(KQ has responded: “For the record, no one from any campaign or party requested this or suggested it, this was my decision.” I have no reason to doubt him on this. His decision must have been proactive thinking on how this was affecting his Meek job and political ambitions.)

Furthermore, I call on you to show some integrity and leadership and resign from the Meek for Senate campaign in protest over his endorsement of an escalation of the war in Afghanistan and the deployment of thousands more troops, just as Matthew Loh did from Sec. of State Hillary’s (whose resignation I now call for) pro-war, pro-30,000 more troops State Department. Instead of shilling for every god damned cheap politician out there you can glam onto, think of the national impact you could have as a key staffer quitting a U.S. Senate campaign. Just think what you could have accomplished actively recruiting an anti-war candidate for Senate. You could be a major factor in stopping the war instead of perpetuating it for years.

The simple reason YOU are the problem, Kenny, is that you promote rightwing Democrats (or maintain complicit silence regarding their rightwing side, or are oblivious to it) and you promote the party above all other values, above issues and even objective reality. Nothing you are doing is changing anything. You are perpetuating a decrepit rotten party. It’s just more of the same, more new asshole Democrats replacing the old asshole Democrats every election.

For two years I often got heart pounding angry reading your stuff and the conservative assumptions and thoughtless party shilling that ebbs and flows just beneath your writing. I realized all this two years ago. I just didn’t speak out about it. Thank you for freeing me to do so. Thank you for this teachable moment for all of us.

The single issue that towers above all your offenses to me, is promoting, even working for, people who are pushing to escalate the Afghanistan war debacle. At a critical moment in our history when there is a desperate need for an anti-war voice in the senate race, there is not a single one. And you are shilling for the pro-war guy. Kenny, you outrage me. I personally hold you responsible for the continuing and increasing death and maiming of so many of our young people in the armed services. You are destroying their lives for no good reason.

When you should be loudly denouncing how the party bosses have set up yet another uncontested farce of a primary election next year with Alex Sinking and Meek Kendrick already nominated, you are actually campaigning for one of them. If you really have to wonder why I am angry and shrill, a big reason is that your corrupt party bosses continuously muscle competition and genuine progressives out of races, kick them off blogs and radio shows and force their backroom picks down the throats of the sheep herd of Democratic primary voters.

“Extreme rhetoric”? Give us a fucking break Kenny. You’re either disingenuous or dumber than I thought. On the same page that you falsely accused me of this, you’re posting about the rightwing “trolls”. And the “award winning” and 2009 (Democratic Party) Netroots “Best Florida Internet Radio Show” Blast Off! With Sinfonian that has been second to mine in the ratings counts most of the year, regularly uses all kinds of “extreme rhetoric”. Okay, maybe it is extreme, maybe sometimes we go a word too far and we should reconsider, but it’s the blogosphere and to accuse me while you and Sinfonian…. But see folks, it’s just Kenny’s canard. His problem is I use the rhetoric against his fucking rightwing “allies”. (By the way, what do the rightwingers think of this whole tiff? I haven’t heard a peep out of them on this one. We may have them dumbfounded and speechless, a great position to have them in. One of the surprising things about my show and commentaries, the ones that bash Obama and the Democrats, is I’ve gotten repeated feedback from “conservatives” who initially go, “Cool man, he’s bashing Obama. I thought this was progressive radio.” And they’re listening and they start to scratch their heads and think, “Hey, wait a second, this guy’s bashing them for being conservative!” I fuckin’ love it. I’m actually considering doing a conservative format niche show where I emphasize the few conservative issues I agree with coupled with Democrat bashing.” Might create a whole new
talk radio genre – conprog or progcon.


Forget for now that Sinfonian is shrill and angry too, as are many of us. I know I'm hard to take. Mark Weaver is hard to stomach, and you have spit me out. But I can't help it. One must focus on what makes me shrill and angry. When I use "extreme rhetoric" I am only emotionally describing the actions of rightwing Democrats. I'm just reflecting who they are, what they stand for. And I'm channeling the suffering of the people they are hurting, killing and oppressing. Let me tell you a short story. Several years ago I had a "tiff" with my evangelical Christian Republican, Love Bush and Cheney neighbors. I told them I held them directly responsible for the destruction of Iraq launched by Bush, particularly of its Christian community. I had to go back recently and apologize to them for having put Gore-Lieberman and Kerry-Edwards signs on my front yard (never again) and I denounced the Democrats for taking over the destruction of Afghanistan and expanding it to Pakistan. I told them I'm no longer a Democrat and that I'm now Green Party. I don't like being put in that position of hypocrisy by the Democratic Party.

I am shrill and angry because I am aware. I am aware of the suffering of our armed forces sent into absurd wars, the suffering of Muslims in our society who are now harassed as a result of America's war on Islamic fundamentalism, the suffering of societies and civilians being destroyed by America's militarism, the suffering of the people under horrific Israeli blockade in Gaza, the Israeli police state in the West Bank, the ongoing theft of Palestinian lands (900 more new homes announced yesterday) and homes never authorized by the UN creation of the original State of Israel, the suffering of the people of Sderot, who are victims as Palestinians shower them with rocket attacks in a desperate attempt to stop the theft of their lands and the brutal blockade that maintains an 80% unemployment rate and hunger. I am shrill and angry because I aware of their pain and I am channeling it.

I am aware that all of these policies are being pushed by most Democrat politicians, and Florida's are among the worst. I am pissed at the insidious role the Democratic Party and its operators play in election after election serving up unacceptable candidates who do not offer any meaningful alternative to the Republican assholes on the most fundamental issues of war and peace and the Big-Corporate domination of our economy and politics. Forgive me for using the term assholes. I am shrill. I am angry. I got the idea from Matt Taibi, the brilliant Rolling Stone contributing editor who invokes the word in his pieces to good effect.

I am shrill and angry that the Democratic Party bosses in this state, following the lead of the anti-progressive Bill Clinton, who needs to stay out of this state, are staging an uncontested Senate primary in which the herd of Democratic Party voters trot to the polls and, duh, vote for ..... Kendrick Meek. Kendrick Meek who is advocating escalation of the Afghanistan war when an overwhelming majority of Democratic voters in this country want the war ended; who is advocating an escalation of a war that countless experts are pointing out is utterly pointless; who is advocating sending thousands more of our young men and women to die for nothing except, on the advice of his amoral political consultants, to win a few red neck votes in the panhandle, and promote his cynical fucking political ambitions using the lives of our armed forces. Cindy Sheehan knows what I mean. And so should you. Yet your party promotes Kendrick Meek.

Kendrick Meek, who instead of joining the Progressive Caucus, joined the Pro-Big Business caucus, the House update of Bill Clinton's old DLC. Just take a look at the deluge of his campaign contributions coming from the financial services and health industries, especially after he stood on the House floor and rescinded his lip service support of single payer. Kendrick Meek who did nothing to push full public funding of congressional campaigns and other reforms, the single most important issue in our country, after I handed him a pamphlet about them with my phone number and email written on the title page. Kendrick Meek, who shamelessly parrots AIPAC talking points every time radical rightwing Israeli governments launch massive assaults on civilians, infrastructure and UN buildings in Lebanon and Gaza (which Bill Moyers desribed as 'state terrorism' and the UN Human Rights Council now calls war crimes.); Kendrick Meek, who just voted to bury the Goldstone UN investigation documenting the war crimes.

Kendrick Meek, who is going to be ground up by Marco Rubio. Kendrick Meek isn't' just wrong on major issues, he is running such a pathetic standard Democratic Party consultant DSCC rote text book campaign the party uses over and over and over again and is stuck in, that he's going to lose. He isn't even good politics. We're going to end up with Senator Marco Rubio because the Democrats couldn't field a clear and strong alternative to him. As Kenneth Quinnell himself has pointed out, Democrats don't win when they copycat Republicans. Yet that is the kind of campaign Meek, under the influence of his cynical political operators, is running. KQ is right that voters innately prefer authentic politicians. Meek is patently not one and that's why Charlie is tanking and going to lose the primary. He's so unauthentic he's a clown. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. Meek the copycat is handing Rubio the election. Now I'm really angry!

I'm pissed that the Democratic Party cannot even produce a Leftish candidate in any election, the way the Republican Party generates authentic, principled if despicable candidates. I'm pissed that Democratic Party bosses such as Rahm muscle real progressives out of races and back conservatives. The amoral Democratic Party operators are just as responsible for bringing us Blue Dogs as Big Business and the Blue Dogs are themselves.


Promoting Democratic party rightwingers, aka insane clown posse, while snuffing out the voices and activism of those of us on the Left. Shame on you. If I could for a moment, elaborate on my concept of the insane clown posse. It’s not “extremist rhetoric”, though a bit tongue in cheek, but each of those words has great meaning for me. It’s my version of what you call “trolls” or “crazy wingnuts” and other variations. Except that it’s the people in your decrepit party, people
who are a serious threat to this country. I came up with the word “insane” when I started thinking about how these rightwing Democrats often espouse downright stupid public policies, in the same way the Republican wingnuts do, just to maneuver for electoral advantage or satisfy some other perverse political grinding ax of theirs, policies that prima facie make no sense. They are insane. The nonsense is compounded when these policies have only minority public opinion
support and in some cases are downright widely unpopular. The most egregious examples of this are support for the “public option”, which should have been framed as the “discount insurance plan”, and poll after poll showing majority support for getting out of Afghanistan. Yet we have your man Meek, under the influence of the cynical political operator Steve Schale and the other DSCC “consultants” (hasn’t anybody watched Robert Redford’s The Candidate lately?) campaigning against not only what a majority of the public wants but what a huge majority of Democrats want. It’s insane.

Yours untruly,

Mark Weaver Show

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mark Weaver Kicked Off Florida Progressive Coaltion and Radio by Kenneth Quinnell

After 26 months, this was a long time coming and I will be commenting here in blistering length in a few days. Frankly, it had become an embarrassment for me to be associated with Kenneth Quinnell and his misnamed Florida Progressive Coalition (Democratic Party front) Blog and radio show because of his and others sophomoric commentaries, naivete and ceaseless thoughtless promotion of a Democratic Party that is dead wrong on so many issues. However, I bit my lip many a time, though not enough, in an effort to co-exist, which I am still willing to do, but of course those craven for power are not.

The FPC blog and radio were so compromised and lacking integrity they had become a joke. Quinnell is a paid staffer for the Kendrick Meek campaign, advising the netroots campaign operation. I have been unrelentingly critical of Meek's not-progressive, pro-corporate positions, but most of all his calls for escalating Afghanistan troop levels. Go figure. In addition, the phoney (Florida Democratic Party) Netroots Awards only recognize the blogs, writers and radio hosts who shill the best for the Florida Democratic Party business-legal-power elites, not any sort of deep independent thinking. Though I did not criticize the awards, many others did, pointing out most egregiously that Kendrick Meek, who was a netroots blip on the screen a year ago, swept many of the awards because his own web operation flooded the voting.

I am suspending the radio show for a couple of weeks to take a long needed break and to do some Florida camping and strategize on a new and better basecamp for The Mark Weaver Show.

The single issue that really brought things to a head for me over the last several months was watching Florida Democrats backing the escalation of the Afghanistan war. As they escalated, my analysis, anger and militancy escalated. But this is what happens when America goes to war, the war is also fought out between us here at home.

As I shall explain, this incident is a revelatory milestone in the development of Florida real-progressive politics as it lays bare how the Democratic Party and its power seeking sycophantic shills think, operate and repress those who oppose their vile use of power.

My commentary that broke the Democratic camel's back is the post in the next window below: "Florida Dems' Insane Clown Rightwing Posse."

Kenneth Quinnell's statement was:

I have removed Mark Weaver as a member of the Florida Progressive Coalition blog and radio station. The primary reasons for this are that Mark is working at direct odds with the endeavors that myself and others are working on, he is unwilling to work as part of a team, he has engaged in the use of extreme rhetoric against people who are allies and supporters of the blog and in his most recent post, he engaged in language that could easily be considered libel against a private citizen. This confluence of actions, over a period of time, led me to decide to no longer allow Mark to post at the blog whose url bears my name.

I’m not a big believer in censorship, so I won’t be deleting any posts or radio shows featuring Mark. He is welcome to continue commenting on posts that others write and call in to shows on the FPC radio station if the host(s) of those shows allow it. I encourage Mark to set up his own blog and radio station and I will add him to the blogroll and include him in regular round-ups where appropriate.

I hold no ill-will or emnity against Mark, but he is harming efforts that I am pursuing on the blog that I created. While he has the freedom to do what he thinks is appropriate in the realm of politics, it is inappropriate for him to pursue those things on this blog.


Read more on Florida politics at the Florida Progressive Coalition blog ( and the Florida Progressive Coalition Wiki (

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Florida Democrats' Insane Clown Rightwing Posse

FLA Dems’ Insane Clown Rightwing Posse

Over the past week plus, several incidents have illustrated the depravity of the Florida Democratic Party and the need for genuine principled, issues and values progressives, not the Party hacks, to get it together and take control of the party from these clowns who in some combination 1) are vicious rightwing shadow Republicans using the Democratic Party for cover, 2) are espousing stupid if not venal public policies opposed to the interests of most of their constituents, 3) advocating policies that the majority of the public rejects, 4) cynically maneuvering to advance their own political careers by following the “advice” of amoral, unprincipled political operatives like Steve Schale (who helped bring us Obama and the growing Afghanistan debacle) trying to score cheap election wins by pandering to mis-labeled conservative, moderate and independent voters because these candidates and operatives are too rudderless to assertively advocate a vision that could appeal to such voters.

The latest configuration of this insane clown posse consists of Kendrick Meek, Ted Deutch, State Rep. Kevin Rader, Palm Beach commissioner Burt Aaronson, Debbie Schultz, Alcee Hastings, Suzanne Kosmas and Allen Boyd (the usual suspect). If we include the mob cheering them in the street we would have to include the entire Florida congressional delegation, with a provisional pass for Kathy Castor and Alan Grayson.

Each of these incidents was egregious in its own way, but let’s quickly dispatch with Kosmas and Boyd, who couldn’t even vote for the watered down, health industry-protection racket reform bill that is nevertheless a marginal improvement in the current dysfunction and neglect. (Yes, I’m finally endorsing it, despite the hemorrhaging nightmare that it is.) Boyd is not news, but one would have hoped that the freshwoman Kosmas would have been part of a change in the Democratic Party. On issue after issue she’s been voting like a rightwinger. We all have to examine how a woman like this was allowed to come through the ranks and win a Democratic nomination for high office. It was great to see that 60 party activists picketed her last week. Right on, guys. Those 60 should have been recruiting and backing a good progressive to run in New Smyrna two years ago and actively vetting and blocking Kosmas. By being so spineless and politically inept, Kosmas deserves to lose next year. Let’s hope the 60 can field a strong primary challenge to her!

More disturbing is the emergence of the vile Ted Deutch as successor to Robert Wexler. Deutch has been the leading purveyor in the state legislature of the Iran lies, sponsoring the AIPAC inspired Iran sanctions resolutions with a long list of whereases which are riddled with exaggerations, distortions, mischaracterizations, falsehoods, omissions and downright lies demonizing Iran. Deutch is one of the leading figures pushing bombing and war with Iran, among other vicious rightwing Middle East policies and it is a symptom of the sickness within the Democratic Party that he is allowed to succeed Wexler WITH NO RESISTANCE, ACCOUNTABILITY OR EVEN AWARENESS of where he is taking us, which endangers the people of Israel, not to mention the lives of countless Iranians, Palestinians and Lebanese. All we read is the clueless amoral party hacks celebrating what great fundraising he is doing (through the AIPAC extremist network) and his impressive old-line establishment endorsements.

Deutch really revealed his true colors last week when he, and fellow travelers State Rep. Kevin Rader and County Commissioner Burt Aaronson, who called the selection of Kucinich “an absolute horror” and said he would refuse to share the podium with him (the sentiment is probably mutual), boycotted the selection of Dennis Kucinich as keynoter at the Palm Beach Democratic Party’s annual fundraiser, forcing Kucinich off the bill. Deutch, lying as he does with the Iran resolutions, said Kucinich is “someone whose position on Israel stands in total opposition to the conscience of this community.” The only truth to such a statement would be if the conscience of the community really does endorse the war crimes committed by the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza as documented the Goldstone investigation, about which more shortly.

Legitimate policy differences with Kucinich aside, what is so enraging about Deutch, Rader and Aaronson is their tea bagging thuggery and intimidation in shutting down discussion of foreign policy alternatives. Kucinich would not even have addressed Middle Eastern issues in his talk, given its keynote nature, and would have focused on health reform. The lack of civility alone by these three is grounds for their censure and expulsion from the Democratic Party. They can run as Republicans. I urge every Floridian to call Palm Beach chairman Mark Alan Siegel (561.433.1112) and support him in his booking and defense of Kucinich and his level headed take on Kucinich and AIPAC and request a vote of censure of Deutch, Rader and Aaronson. Maybe that’ll take some of the steam out of Deutch’s coming special election and anointment. Meanwhile, Wexler, who never met a war he couldn’t back while in Congress, has given Deutch a glowing endorsement.

Next up we have Kendrick Meek, Debbie Schultz and Alcee Hastings signing a letter with 53 Democrats nationwide (and Bill Nelson separately) trying to take the steam out of the bipartisan push to end the travel ban to Cuba, which is refreshingly, finally on the verge of passing. There are several problems with this. First, the single most important thing we can do to bring democratic change to Cuba is to open up travel to Americans. Can you imagine the effect it will have? Americans telling their stories to Cubans in Cuba. Talk about fomenting a velvet revolution. But no, Meek, Nelson, Schultz and Hastings are too, too, what is the word for it? They’re not stupid, or are they? I guess they have some insane rationale for pandering to the fading hardline Cuban exile community. But according to the latest credible poll, A MAJORITY OF CUBAN AMERICANS NOW SUPPORT AN END TO THE TRAVEL BAN. It doesn’t even make sense, for a Democrat, but this is the corruption and depravity of the party I keep talking about. Furthermore, what they are espousing is just wrong. It’s oppressive and anti-freedom. It’s arrogant, audacious, venal, and on and on an on. Think about it. Meek, Nelson, Schultz and Hastings are telling YOU that you cannot go to Cuba for their own twisted ideological and vote-calculating reasons. They are denying you your freedom. On top of all this, it is just idiotic politics. Does Meek and his crass operator Schale really think that Meek can win votes campaigning through all of Florida (outside a couple of square miles of west Little Havana and the state’s millionaire enclaves, which will vote Republican anyway) telling people that he wants to take away their freedom and that they can’t visit the beautiful beaches, hills, mountains and Spanish-colonial cities of Cuba? The final outrage, I swear my head is going to fucking explode right now, is this: while we have this crazy extremist Republican party that blocks all sort of progress, the one moment where we actually have a bipartisan coalition come together around a progressive reform, 53 Democratic Party assholes step in to kill it. Do you see what I mean about the pervasive, nonsensical corrupt rot of the Democratic Party? They have become the Soviet Communist Party of 1985.

Finally, we have the entire Florida delegation voting to reject and deny the Goldstone report documenting Israel’s numerous war crimes in Gaza resulting in the deaths of 1,400 Gazans while Hamas’ crude rockets killed 7 Israelis around Sderot. Every single fucking Florida Dem (except Kathy Castor and Alan Grayson) cosponsored the resolution, which Goldstone himself rebutted point by point, twelve of them, proving as if in a court of law, each of them to be falsehoods. Castor and Grayson deserve at least a shred of credit for not allowing themselves to be herded by AIPAC. The disingenous positions these people take are “see no evil, hear no evil.”

Do you see what I mean about this insane clown posse?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why the Left Must Now Confront the Democratic Party

Forget the Republican Party, we all know how utterly depraved it has become. What troubles me far more is the extent to which the Democratic Party has become a tool of the giant corporations that use public policy as a profit enhancement business strategy (so revealed by this year’s health “reform” charade), and the Pentagon-industrial and right wing foundation foreign policy establishment on a militaristic rampage throughout much of the world.

Except for a shockingly small number of individuals who genuinely believe in social and economic justice (and deserve our support), the Democratic Party is a degenerate, power-corrupted entity controlled by these corporate-militarist elites and their careerist politicians and promoted by clueless activists too loyal to their party and influenced by the Establishment media to autonomously perceive this reality.

This week’s Mark Weaver Show is developing a new strategy to hold the Democratic Party accountable by implementing “modes of confrontation”. Guest is Brent McMillan, director of the Green Party of the United States. Democrats, independents, please call in.

Just take a quick look at where we are under President Obama (I will reprise in detail on the Oct. 31 Mark Weaver Show). If you are unaware of all this, and are blindly promoting the Democratic Party, there is something very wrong with you. You need to examine yourself, your values and your very awareness of the world beyond your slavish unthinking devotion to the Democratic Party.

We now have more troops in foreign combat than we did on January 20th, and further escalation is imminent. Obama has dramatically escalated the Predator drone assassination campaign against Taliban and other fundamentalist Islamic militants in Pakistan with high civilian casualties which just yesterday drew a UN official’s call for transparency that could reveal war crimes by Nobel Laureate Obama. He has coerced the Pakistani army into two major assaults on Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan, driving over two million Pakistanis from their homes. All of this is pushing the relatively stable Pakistan under Bush-Cheney into a needless civil war. Aside from the surreal pointlessness of all this, Obama is committing hundreds of billions of dollars and condemning thousands of lives to a long debacle. And it’s all deficit financed. With his goofy impotence in confronting rightwing extremists on every issue, such as the fanatical government of Israel, Obama is leading us down a path to a war on Iran. By further assaulting and enraging millions more people, Obama is endangering our national security. President Obama and his Democratic Party are destroying this nation every bit as much as the Republicans did for eight years. The only differences are the kinds and emphases of the destruction.

And it’s not just Obama. It’s the party that created him. Virtually the entire party leadership backs this militarism. Kerry, Levin. In Florida, Kendrick Meek and Bill Nelson have already backed troop increases, before Obama has even made any decision. Alcee Hastings says he’s “not averse” to them. Only Allan Grayson, Corrine Brown and Alcee Hastings have even cosponsored a bill calling for a no-deadline exit strategy from Afghanistan that could be fifty years from now.

And it’s not just the wars. It’s Obama’s cynical breaking of dozens of his campaign promises, from union card check, to don’t ask don’t tell, to transparency, to his continuation and institutionalization of most of the Bush-Cheney power grabs such as the state secrets privilege, rendition and the rejection of habeas corpus rights to the retention of dozens of Bush-Cheney appointees in the Pentagon, the CIA, the national security apparatus and the appointment of Republicans such as Tim Geithner.

It’s time to hold the Democratic Party accountable for this mayhem.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Statewide Anti-War March in Orlando

Statewide Anti-War March in Orlando Saturday

With the passive and unprincipled President Obama and his Democratic Party sheep supporters dragging our country into a worsening, long term, tragic debacle in Afghanistan and Pakistan, despite that 73% of Democrats and a majority of voters now want the war ended, over 40 Florida peace and justice groups are converging at the entrance of the University of Central Florida at noon Saturday for a mass rally and march to protest Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama’s wars and call for an end to the military economy. The march will culminate at the Central Florida Research
Park local divisions of Raytheon, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, and General Dynamics. This is a critical event here in Florida in the course of the growing Afpakistan debacle that deserves the attendance of 100,000 Floridians. You can contact your local peace group for people to travel with. If you cannot go you can support the march by spreading the word and making a contribution to its considerable organizing expenses.

While the location and message of this march address important issues contributing to America’s growing militarism and provide a “teachable moment”, I am deeply concerned that the event is not addressing, more clearly and effectively, issues more directly related to halting Obama’s wars against Afghanistan and Pakistan. Militarism and these contractors are a marginal issue for the general public that we need to be reaching. This march’s primary message should be demanding an exit from the two countries, explaining its cost, destruction and false premises, and holding Obama and the Democratic Party accountable for what they are doing. The march should send an unmistakable, militant message to the Democratic Party that we are fed up with their wars, we denounce the party and we are abandoning the party (except for support of its few anti-war politicians, the only one of which there is in Florida is Alan Grayson). There need to be speeches and signs at this event denouncing President Obama and politicians like Kendrick Meek and Bill Nelson who are advocating more troops, as are others in the Florida Democratic Party. Silence and deferral to the poor judgments of President Obama by politicians like Debbie Schultz and Robert Wexler, among others, is not acceptable.

The Democrats have to be sent the message that these policies are tearing their party apart, alienating us and will lead to their loss of elections, since this is the highest value of the Party that trumps all ethics. This is the only message Democrats will respect. Until then they will continue playing us for manipulable fools. A more effective location for this march would have been the offices of Bill Nelson or even better, Kendrick Meek, who aspires to a Senate seat and needs to be challenged for his pro-war views and whose ascent to the Senate must be stopped if we are to halt the perpetuation of these wars.

We must be holding Florida’s congressional Democrats accountable for not holding hearings on Afpakistan while allowing the secret deliberations of Nobel winner Obama’s war councils that are not even considering an exit option. We must demand acknowledgment from the Party and its Congressional Budget Office of the ten year projected cost of Obama’s new policies at a time when we have a $1.2 trillion deficit. The deficit financing of these wars and the bloated $700 billion military budget is eroding the future of our country, especially at a time that we need to be digging out of the financial collapse, creating jobs in America and rebuilding our aged deteriorating infrastructure.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Alan Grayson for U.S. Senate

Alan Grayson for U.S. Senate

Finally, a strong credible leader and progressive has emerged out of Florida’s pathetic Democratic Party landscape (other than Matt Damon, who still needs to hit the speaking circuit). Yesterday, the entire Florida Congressional delegation, EXCEPT ALAN GRAYSON, voted for President McCain’s $70 billion supplemental war funding bill to continue the Bush-Cheney slaughter of civilians and promotion of civil war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Grayson was one of 51 decent Democrats and 9 Republicans to vote no on the spending.

I am calling on all genuine progressive Floridians to form a delegation to go to Orlando and meet with Congressman Grayson to persuade him to run for the Democratic Senate nomination. Or meet on your own. We cannot allow war-Democrats Gelber and Meek to get this nomination. We will brainstorm with Alan on how to frame a campaign and suggest the many resources in Florida and nationwide that can form the infrastructure of a winning end-perpetual war campaign. Email me at We also need to be pressing Gelber and Meek for their positions on Afghanistan. Like the bloggers are saying, it’s time to hold candidates accountable on the critical issues of our time and stop letting them get away with manipulating us with their triple talk hedging and deceit as to their real positions on issues. Exhibit A = Barack Obama. Meek and Gelber, are you for or against an immediate end to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan?

The expansion of the war on Afghanistan by the feckless Obama is pointless and absurd. Last week, Obama’s forces committed the largest civilian slaughter of the entire war, killing over 100 civilians including 97 children by one new account. If you are confused by the Pentagon’s psychological operations denying the high numbers and blaming the rest on the Taliban (it’s always someone else’s fault, isn’t it), given the credible non-military accounts of the U.S. nighttime aerial bombing raid on several villages, you are naive, or just young.

McCain was right about 50 years in Afghanistan, the now eight year old war will not end until the U.S. gets out and allows the balance of forces and interests within Afghanistan to find an equilibrium that the U.S. is denying the country with its artificial imperial presence. The war against the Taliban is nonsense when you know that Reagan helped form and finance their predecessor Mujahadeen and Clinton had every top Taliban government official on the U.S. payroll into 1999. Even if the Taliban were to retake power in our absence (not at all a probability), it is a simple matter to get them to prohibit Al Qaeda from maintaining bases in the country with U.S. financing to enforce it. Better yet, we should arrange a quiet, informal peace agreement with Al Qaeda under which they halt attacks on the U.S. mainland and we stop financing and supporting the authoritarian governments oppressing their political movements in their native countries which are none of our arrogant business anyway.

Florida's Emerging Progressive Supernova

Friday, September 25, 2009

Statement on Obama's Pseudo Health Reform

The following is the original text of my “Statement on Health Pseudo Reform” delivered to the American people on the September 12th Mark Weaver Show

At its core the health “reform” spectacle we are witnessing – the town hall thuggery, the blatant lying, most notably of the woman who came within six percentage points and a heart attack of the presidency, the insult on the floor of the House by its #1 recipient of health industry money, the telling $150 million ad campaign of the price gouging pharmaceutical industry FOR reform, the preposterous shut out of single player advocates from the discussions, to the Blue Dog and Gang of Six insurance industry shills to the industry shmucking president and his resulting conflated messages to the nightmare patchwork of the emerging bill itself – is a war by the medical industry to maintain its hegemonic pricing power over our healthcare. And guess who is going to win.
Every event of this spectacle, every one, can be explained by this motive. It explains the emerging bill itself.
At its core the reforms preserve the main (though not only) cause of all our problems – the superfluous middle man health insurance industry with its high administrative overhead to fight billing claims, pay multimillion dollar executive salaries, stock dividends and profit margins. Eliminating this overhead is the Big Enchilada of health reform. It cuts costs $350 billion a year on wasteful paperwork alone, enough to cover all the uninsured and reduce premiums. All the squabbling about deficit neutrality and whether insurance subsidies should cost $88 or 90 or $120 billion a year is a false debate derived from the war to maintain the profiteering insurance industry. The U.S. is the ONLY country in the world, the only one, that allows a for-profit health insurance industry. This is the primary reason we pay the highest health care costs in the world. America is a country where a super powerful industry exploits its citizenry and President Obama is actively perpetuating that.

The verdict is still out on this health reform. We’re at S in the alphabet of the process and all the issues have yet to be decided. We know the broad outlines but the actual working system that is enacted is still unknowable. Even then, how the details are filled in over the next few years by the administration and how they are actually implemented will determine the fate of reform. Even then, the system is so complex that it will take several years after they go into effect in 2013, that’s right, none of this is going into effect for over three years, to know how things are working themselves out. We won’t know til 2015 if this was worth it.

But we do know that the improvements being proposed in this rapacious dysfunctional system have to be looked at in light of the directive to preserve this system of exploitation of our need for health. And there are some major major improvements. The insurance companies will no longer be able to reject people with pre-existing conditions, cancel them when they get too sick or jack up their premiums as you get older. There will be no more annual or lifetime limits on the payout of a policy if you get desperately ill. The House plan slaps a $5,000 annual maximum on an individual policy for out of pocket expenses. That means if you get cancer, the most you’ll pay in one year is five grand. This is all very big stuff. But there’s a catch, as there is with everything in this ticking time bomb of pseudo reform. These new claims and bigger insurance payouts are going to cost the insurance companies money and they will add these to everybody’s premiums. Nothing in the “reforms” controls the premiums the insurers can charge.
But wait, you say, astutely pointing out that millions of uninsured healthy people will now be required to buy insurance, that adds billions to the premium pool which will cover the costs of the ill and older. Don’t bet on it. The medical industry is riddled with greedy predators who know, who sense, who smell that a sick person is easy prey to charge what the market will bear, which is increasingly without limit. Just talk to the 900,000 victims of medical bankruptcy in this country each year, a phenomenon unheard of in most of the world. Fortunately, the reforms are going to dramatically reduce these bankruptcies. But the insurance industry is going to roll all these higher payouts into its rates. Premiums may actually go up under Obamacare, which is why it all comes down to the public option, how strong it is and how much pricing pressure it can put on the private insurance companies to curb their profits and executive salaries and dividends. The public option is on the ropes and even if it survives it will be too weak to reign in the insurance companies. The Blue Dogs have already forced the House plans to increase Medicare payments to doctors from Medicare plus 5%, which might have been reasonable, to whatever they can negotiate for new rates, which wipes out most of any pricing reductions in the public option. As we watch the public option/ insurance cooperatives debate unfold, remember, it’s all about the pricing power of the medical industry, to what extent there is going to be downward pressure on their pricing power – how much private insurance will cost us and how much the government is going to have to fork over to the insurance companies for the subsidies.
In a deeper sense, the predation of the medical industry is THE crux of the health reform spectacle. The shocking thing about Obamacare is that it is NOT going to substantially reduce the bloated costs that everyone says are the core of the problem. Obama admitted as much in his address to Congress. The only cost reduction number he cited was a one-tenth of one percent reduction per year in the rate of cost increases. Why? As with everything with these reforms, the answer is that the reforms are centered around preserving the profiteering medical industries.
While there are some long term cost reduction mechanisms in the bills, they don’t amount to much. Electronic medical records will take ten years to phase in but won’t cut costs that much. Malpractice tort reform, if it is ever meaningfully enacted over the campaign contributions of the Democratic Party trial lawyer lobby, would help, but it’s not among the really big contributors to the price of health care.
Obamacare will leave intact the 30% administrative paperwork overhead for filing claims with 1300 different insurance companies. The average doctor will still spend $64,000 a year on medical billing and hire one and a half clerks to do it. It’d be insane if it didn’t make perfect sense for the insurance industry. VERYTHING about health reform revolves around preserving the money making power of the medical industry.
Take the pharmaceutical industry. Obama negotiated a secret deal with them, despite his campaign promise to make the health reform process transparent. They’re gonna give a 50% discount to people in the ridiculous Medicare part D “doughnut” hole, that political compromise under W whereby people with moderately high drug expenses have to pay out of pocket but if your drug costs are lower or catastrophic you’re covered. Finally you’re gonna get a 50% break. That’s going to cost Big Pharma $8 billion a year. But Obamacare does NOTHING else to cut overpriced drug costs and profiteering. Nothing. Obama negotiated away the most important drug reform of all, allowing Medicare, and any public option, to negotiate volume discounts with the drug companies. The $8 billion “concession” by this price gouging industry that gets away with charging us far more for drugs than the same drugs cost in other countries is only point two percent of their annual revenue. That’s .2%.
Hospital costs? The industry has “promised” to pursue cost cuts of $15 billion a year, not much in the giant industry. It sounds good, but most of that will come from a decrease in the charity care it has to provide at discount or no cost to the uninsured and others who can’t pay their bills. This is an improvement in the insane system of tacking charity care costs onto paying patients and insurance bills. But its cost shifting to the government and people forced to buy insurance now. The reforms do little, other than some pilot programs which Medicare and Aid have been running for decades looking for more efficient ways of doing things, to ring the profiteering out of the for profit hospital and non profit act alike industry.
Most importantly, reform does not create the push needed for hospitals and doctors to move away from the gouging “fee for service” private practice system to integrated systems like the Mayo and Cleveland Clinics where doctors work for the organization and are paid annual salaries and collaborate on diagnoses and care. It takes the pressure off doctors to nickel and dime patients and insurance companies to cobble together an income. These clinics rank the highest in the quality ratings and the lowest in costs. It’s an essential reform. Many many experts say so, but it’s not in the “reform”.
Despite all these problems, the reforms are going to put a big dent in the number of uninsured, although they are probably only going to increase the number of insured people from 85% of the population now, to about 94%. Six percent are still going to fall through the cracks and they’ll still be going to emergency rooms and getting charity care which will get rolled into insurance rates. Still tens of millions of people are going to be added to the insurance rolls. There’s going to be a dramatic expansion of Medicaid to people making 130% of the poverty level. And there are billions of dollars in subsidies to lower income people making more than that to help them afford insurance.
All this is very good, but it’s unnecessary if we went to single payer and this is what’s so disturbing about Obamacare, like I keep saying, it’s all about preserving the profiteering. All of these subsidies are going to be paid to the insurance companies. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers to the insurance companies, the insurance companies with no price controls, the continuing 30% administrative waste, the bloated executive pay and the dividends. It’s insane. That’s why its important to watch who is going to pay for all of this. All Obama has committed to is taxing high end insurance plans. There’s still a gaping hole in the financing and there will be a big fight over who plugs it.
Why did Obama sell us out on all this? The drug industry agreed to spend $150 million of pro-reform advertising. It’s in their interest, not yours. Think of how many billions they’re going to make from the newly insured, much of which will come from the taxpayers in the subsidies. Obama’s deal is no deal. It’s a pathetic give away. If I had an agent bargaining for me like that I’d fire him, and sue him for malpractice. But the deeper reason Obama caved is that by keeping the industry flush it won’t spend hundreds of millions next year trying to defeat Democratic congressmembers, or Obama in 2012. And that illustrates the sickness of our political system, that they are able to get a way with that threat.
This gets us to the heart of America’s pseudo democracy. Why was Big Pharma and Big Insurance and Big Hospital Corporate Nursing Homes and Big Diagnostics and the AMA able to get away with all of this? It’s because they and the other financial titans – Wall Street, the giant corporations, the media corporations – have near total control of our society. We live in a corporate dictatorship and their domination is so pervasive that many of you reading this don’t even realize it, especially the ones who dumped this essay when it got too “militant” for them. These economic behemoths have no competitor to challenge their power in elections. They can pump billions into campaigns of their shill candidates like Bill Nelson and Kendrick Meek while the conservative corporate media brainwash the electorate into industry complicity, lead by the loud mouth wingnut TV and radio hosts. They have half the Senate and half of the House. Wanna run for Congress? Just make the rounds of the big business groups, shill for them and bingo you’ve funded your campaign.They own this sycophant president and they also have the Supreme Court including Sonia Sotomayor, who doesn’t have the vision let alone will to advocate powerfully for constitutional restraints on the unfettered political power of the giant corporations, which is to be expected from an appointee of this corporate stooge of a president.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Feingold Says: Out of Afghanistan

I disagree with some of this. Still too timid. He still buys (partly) into neocon stereotypes and assumptions, thus undercutting his own position. There isn't a question about this; we need to be out in 12 months. Still, I see a president here. Don't you? Feingold 2012!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Out of Afghanistan!

As you watch this, take notes. Then organize four people to meet with your congressmember and Senator. Ask them to stop voting for Afghanistan war funding and to sponsor a resolution directing the President to extricate all U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan within 12 months. Then call the show some Saturday morning and tell us how it went. Then recruit a good candidate to challenge the recalcitrant in their primary next year.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Four Questions for "U.S. Senator" Kendrick Meek

(Note: this is a commentary, not a show link).

Here’s the final question you should be asking Kendrick Meek (and the rest of our congressional delegation): With the extremist right wing leadership of Israel threatening massive bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities within months, including those in its capital city, using American weaponry bought with my tax dollars, an attack many experts say would be only partially effective due to the underground sites and would set back Iran’s nuclear program only several years and require recurring bombings into the future, unite the Iranian people behind the conservative regime just when Iranian politics are evolving beyond the revolutionary radicalism of 1979, and launch a major cross-border war in the Middle East that could dwarf the insular Iraq and Afghanistan invasions and subject the Israeli people to missile strikes, death and destruction, and result in disruption of oil production and transport through the Strait of Hormuz, which could cause $200 or more per barrel oil, $6 a gallon gasoline and possible shortages and gasoline lines that I will have to wait in, and probably draw the United States into its third war of aggression within eight years at great expense on top of our $1.8 trillion annual deficit, which will further enrage world opinion against the United States and increase the danger of revenge attacks within my country, leading to the continuing erosion of my civil liberties and trillions of dollars more spent on militarization, why are you cosponsoring the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009 (H.R. 2194) which would embargo imports of refined petroleum into Iran, which to be successful would require interception of cargo ships approaching Iran, which would probably trigger armed clashes in the Persian Gulf, as a deliberate policy of shutting down Iranian transportation, industry, electricity generation, home heating and food production, which, according to numerous observers, would result in mass unemployment, hunger, hardships such as living without electricity or heat in the cold Iranian winters, and even death; which is essentially a declaration of war on Iran; why are you cosponsoring this act aimed at shutting down Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which is a country’s right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty it has signed, when the act says nothing about curbing Israel’s illicit nuclear arsenal of several hundred warheads or address its failure to join the Nonproliferation treaty or submit to any of the international inspections you unilaterally demand of Iran or address Israeli’s continuing illegal land confiscations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, even in the face of requests by President Obama to cease, let alone address the now-documented war crimes Israel committed against hundreds of civilians in Gaza using weapons you yourself have voted to provide with my tax dollars, why are you not instead sponsoring a resolution to demand that Israel not attack Iran and be subject to a cutoff of U.S. military aid if it does so?

For background on Iran, check out the Mark Weaver Show site and search “Iran”

Third question for you to ask Meek: Why aren’t you cosponsoring the Fair Elections Now Act for strong public funding and media vouchers for congressional campaigns? Alan Grayson, Suzanne Kosmas and 75 others are. The health industry is flooding the air waves with hundreds of millions of dollar of advertising, most of it supporting (or should I say “buying”) watered down reforms that preserve industry price setting power. If congressmembers weren’t so afraid of big money going against them next year, they’d be fighting for real reform.

Note: these questions aren’t just for Kendrick Meek, they’re for all of Florida’s not-so-progressive Democratic congressional delegation (with the exception of Alan Grayson).

By the way, why is our fire breathing liberal Robert Wexler AWOL on this? I keep telling you, he postures as a great liberal, but he falls flat. Where are the rest of them? Debbie Schultz is no surprise, just another in her long list of rightish positions on important things.

Health reform? Here’s an excerpt from the Aug 1st Mark Weaver Show interview with Tallahassee M.D. Raymond Bellamy of Physicians for a National Health Program.

Here’s the first of four questions you should ask Democratic Senate nominee Kendrick Meek: Why aren’t you opposing the expansion of the war in Afghanistan? which is now costing taxpayers $1 billion a week when we have a trillion dollar deficit, Florida’s infrastructure is crumbling, and we can’t come up with enough money for health reform, when 54% of the public opposes the war in the new CNN poll and only 44% support it, there is continuing billions dollar contractor fraud, waste and abuse in the country, the Taliban had no knowledge of or direct relationship with 9/11 and were even being salaried by the Clinton administration until 1999, the 911 plot was carried out from Al Qaeda “bases” in Florida and Hamburg, Al Qaeda soldiers are now dispersing to new “bases” in Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, Algeria and other countries, not to mention that the eight year old invasion is taking twice as long as it took to defeat both Hitler and Imperial Japan, not to mention killing and maiming increasing numbers of our troops and thousands of Afghanistan civilians and independence fighters which is generating more hatred of the U.S. and motivating further terror attacks inside the U.S. which is further destroying our civil liberties, driving the politics of this country to the right and bleeding our economy with trillions of avoidable security spending?

Answer: you won’t get one, just vague deflections, unless you are highly informed on these issues and actually pin the guy. I regard the Florida gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races as a joke. It is an outrage that two utterly conventional Establishment party figures are allowed to walk away with such important nominations without any sort of competition or meaningful discussion.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Iraq, Sex, Drugs, Rock, Roll and Woodstock

Certain to be one of the best Mark Weaver Shows of the year, the show starts with a wonderful "you were there" reliving of Woodstock 40 years ago today by journalist Julie Klein. But the show stealer is one of the best interviews I have ever done, as New York Stonybrook State University sociology professor Michael Schwartz regales us for an hour and a half on the shocking neo-colonization of Iraq by the U.S. The breadth and depth of Schwartz' knowledge of Iraq is breathtaking, but in a nutshell, the Obama administration is attempting to consolidate and perpetuate a U.S. client government that will implement U.S. economic and foreign policies in Iraq through U.S. civilian administrative control of Iraqi society down to candidate recruitment and funding, the school curriculum and neoliberal privatization policies, all designed to perpetuate a client government in the country "freely" elected by the Iraqis. So far the Iraqis have refused to enact the famous oil law that the U.S., and recently Biden, have pushed to open the oil industry to international oil companies and increase oil production to challenge OPEC and drive down the price of oil to benefit Western economic interests. All other oil rich Middle Eastern countries maintain state control of their oil industries with revenue financing the government. Schwartz expects the U.S. to maintain five "core" bases in Iraq with perhaps 50,000 troops over the long run, despite public rhetoric to the contrary. The military presence will maintain U.S. influence on the government and provide forward basing for U.S. operations against Iran and other Middle Eastern hot spots. He thinks Prime Minister al Maliki will eventually "ask for", under U.S. pressure, for a re-neogitation of the Status of Forces Agreement, whose referendum requirement has already been violated. Watch for a re-negotiation of the SOFA come summer 2011, or sooner if Israel bombs Iran and Obama uses the war as a pretext to maintain U.S. bases in Iraq. This is a show you should revisit in two years, if you can remember that long (make a note) to see how correct our analysis of these things is.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Democrats' Emerging Healthcare Fiasco, Part I

Note: this is a commentary, not a link to a show.

If you look closely, real closely, at the emerging Democratic healthcare “reforms”, you’re going to get nervous and you should become alarmed. The system in creation is a dysfunctional patchwork nightmare of unneccessary, over-bureaucratized, over-regulatory, mandates, tax subsidies to profitmaking insurance companies, penalties and fines, about which in part II in a few days. There is now a growing possibility that the plan has become so convoluted it will collapse under its own weight come the congressional vote. If it does pass, and the momentum is still in its favor, although the politicking of the August recess will probably determine its fate, we appear to be getting a system that is marginally improved for everyday people but so full of dysfunctions that the system will be an operational nightmare that might even fail and also be open to political attack from the right. This raises a central question for the Left now: do we continue to support reform for the sake of reform and push for the strongest public option, little of which is now even left, and other features or do we join the Republicans, for opposite reasons, and kill this monstrosity before it is born and start from scratch with a simple, efficient, elegant single payer plan. Ironically, regardless of what we do, this might be where events take us anyway.

And here’s another reason to be alarmed. These Rube Goldbergian health bills are everything the Right has always bashed the liberals for, discredited the liberal label and enabled them to dominate American politics for the past 30 years. The liberals are repeating that part of their history that discredited them and this could wreck the Democratic Party in the coming elections and make Obama a one-termer. But maybe that would be a good thing so that enough people are finally shocked into understanding how corporate liberalism keeps the Democratic Party stuck in a decades long cycle of arguing marginal issues with the Republican corporate party which results in see saw elections determined by a couple of percentage points or even the Supreme Court, or whether or not there’s an economic collapse at the time of the election. Maybe a collapse of the Democratic Party is what it is going to take for a progressive reformation within the party, or the ascendancy of the Green Party.

You can hear the discussion of these issues on this week’s Mark Weaver Show, Aug 1, now archived, with guest Tallahassee surgeon Raymond Bellamy of Physicians for a National Health Program.

The deeper I looked at the emerging legislation, the more it didn’t make sense. I swear. I didn’t realize what a mess it is. The impression I had had from the TV reports and cursory readings of the news articles was that we were on track for a much better, more coherent healthcare system. But we’re not. It didn’t make sense. How could these intelligent people be doing this? Slowly I had a revelation, that the reasons behind most of these absurdities wasn’t rational public policy, because it’s not rational, but politicized compromises designed to preserve almost in totality the for-profit middleman health insurance in this country that adds 30% to health costs in unnecessary adminstration and large profit margins , the only one in the world, I’ve heard, while trying to mitigate all of the problems this superfluous brokerage system has caused.

The responsibility for all of this, and the way out of it, lies with President Obama. Healthcare is one-sixth of the economy. This is a reform of historic proportions. It’s a major major effort and it’s hard. It requires a President in charge. Dr. Bellamy pointed out in my interview that Obama’s mistake was to hand health reform over to the congressional committees with little guidance. I agree. Congressional committees are parochial fiefdoms involved in turf wars and ego battles and subject to excessive influence from the business interests that fund their campaigns. A big issue like this requires strong, LBJ style unifying leadership from a President, and specifically a moderately detailed vision from the president of a future healthcare system. Obama has made the exact opposite of the mistake the Clintons made: they presented an overly detailed plan, derived in secrecy, to congress as a fait accompli.

And the vision Obama should have proferrered is single payer. Forget whether single payer is passable. It’s irrelevant. It should have been the foundation for the congressional negotiations. Far better for the nation through the media to have debated, and to have made compromises to a single payer plan, no matter how stinky they may have been to a lot of us, than to bargain away what the Democrats are in the process of bargaining away, whatever that was to begin with. Actually, the House, with strong LBJ leadership, could probably pass single payer by a narrow majority vote. How much better off we would have been, can you imagine?, if the conference negotiations this fall had been over a Senate filibuster-compromised for-profit system and a House socialized system. If health reform collapses we must besiege Obama to start over again along these lines, although that won’t happen. If everday people are to curb corporate power to set high prices for basic needs it is essential to have a strong, principled, committed leader as president. This sycophant Obama is not capable of that and we’re not going to change his personality. It is the great tragedy of his presidency and our country that he arrived at precisely the historic moment when genuine progressive reforms on the order of the Reagan revolution could have been enacted.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Democrats' Crazy Convoluted Health Reforms

Col. Reese memo: mission FINALLY accomplished, we can get out of Iraq within a year. Obama's destructive drone war in Pakistan often kills more civilians than fighters, generates enemies and must be stopped.

Guest is Dr. Raymond Bellamy of Physicians for National Health Program. With the conflicted Democratic Party, under the weak center-right neo-liberal leadership of President Obama, unable to challenge the superfluous profiteering middle-man health insurance lobby, the party is in danger of settling for piece meal reforms that leave the fundamental problems of our dysfunctional healthcare system in tact. This week’s Show features Tallahassee orthopedic surgeon Raymond Bellamy of Physicians for a National Health Program deconstructing the emerging health reforms such as the continuing illogic of mandating (with penalties) employer and individual health insurance, the cost inflating fee-for-service system, the problems with health insurance cooperatives and an enfeebled “public option” that won’t be able to “compete” with for-profit insurance companies and complicated subsidies, subsidies and more subsidies. All of these convoluted acrobatics to avoid a fight with the insurance industry, while still getting it, create lines of attack for the Republicans and others who want to preserve the privileges of the few in the current system.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How To Win an Argument on Afghanistan

Warmonger: The Taliban oppress women so we have to fight them.
You: Malalai Joya, the Afghan women's rights leader, says the main reason for the oppression of women now is the Northern Alliance fundamentalists, who are mentally the same as the Taliban but physically different, who have come to power.

The Saudi Arabian dictatorship prohibits women from driving and requires them to get the permission of their male possessor to work. Sudan publicly flogs women who wear pants. When did you say were you enlisting to invade and overthrow these two dictatorships?

Warmonger: The Taliban are brutal thugs. They publicly flog women who violate their strict religious morality. They murder girls who go to school or throw acid in their faces.
You: These are relatively isolated incidents by extremist factions and criminal rogue individuals in the Taliban. Many Taliban condemn these excesses and support the right of women to education. You distort and exaggerate incidents like these to mislead people and justify your own killing of Afghans. Shame on you.

The Northern Alliance fundamentalists are U.S. "allies" and part of the new Aghan government. The group is responsible for murdering about 2000 Taliban prisoners of war they captured in 2001 by suffocating them in airtight shipping containers and firing bullets into them. Saudi Arabia beheads people. Singapore whips people in multiple sessions with canes soaked in water for maximum effect, often to the point of unconsciousness. So you are calling for invasions of Saudi Arabia and Singapore?

Warmonger: If we don't destroy the Pakistani Taliban, they're going to take over the country and get control of the nukes.
You: The Taliban control less than five percent of Pakistan territory, in the traditionally independent Pashtun tribal areas of western Pakistan. They have virtually no support in the rest of the country which is not Pashtun, not fundamentalist and is even secular. The chances of the Taliban taking over the country are just another disingenuous paranoid scare tactic you use to justify your destructive wars. Shame on you for misleading people.

Worse, your attacks in Pakistan are creating hatred of the United States and threatening to divide the Pakistani army into pro-Taliban and anti-Taliban camps, which would seriously destabilize the country. While the Taliban aren't going to take over the central government, other factions might. You are creating the nightmare you claim to avoid. You are endangering the security of the United States homeland and the future of my children with your policies. Stop it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sadistic Interrogation

This is one of the three reasons why there has to be an independent commission (retired judges?) to investigate the Bush, Cheney, Yoo and Company, CIA sadistic interrogation practices. #1 is they probably committed illegal acts and if we are a civilized country that goes by rule of law, well ..... #2 is there has to be an investigation and probable prosecution to draw the line in the sand to future thugs and fascists that this won't be tolerated, it's essential to retaining our national identity and stopping the slide into fascism and #3, like she says, those torture memos were just the authorizing legalese, we still don't know what REALLY happened and it is probable that other abuses occurred beyond those authorized in the memos, and the tactics authorized were probably exceeded in many instances.