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.