Government of the Corporations, by the Corporations, and For the Corporations

Hopeful comments notwithstanding, it appears Health Care for all Americans is dead.
Last November Americans rejoiced, we had elected a President that cared, that was for the people, the revolution was here, and it was non-violent.

 

There was going to be change.
And there was.
A new President.
A Democratic Majority in Congress.
Different faces, the same old song and dance, however.
MFB
After the Democrats folded, caving to the special interests, Dennis Kucinich had this to say:

“Is this the best we can do? Forcing people to buy private health insurance, guaranteeing at least $50 billion in new business for the insurance companies?

“Is this the best we can do? Government negotiates rates which will drive up insurance costs, but the government won’t negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies which will drive up pharmaceutical costs.

“Is this the best we can do? Only 3% of Americans will go to a new public plan, while currently 33% of Americans are either uninsured or underinsured?

“Is this the best we can do? Eliminating the state single payer option, while forcing most people to buy private insurance.

“If this is the best we can do, then our best isn’t good enough and we have to ask some hard questions about our political system: such as Health Care or Insurance Care? Government of the people or a government of the corporations.”

 

Watch Rep Kucinich’s interview on MSNBC

Reid Says Public Option In

From NBC’s political team today:

For the past several weeks, we’ve wondered whether progressives were crazy for turning the public option into the Holy Grail of the health-care debate….the 60 votes to avoid a filibuster didn’t seem to be there.

As a result, the conventional wisdom has always been that there would be no public option in the Senate bill — or, at most, you’d have the so-called “trigger.”

But due to liberal pressure, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced yesterday that the Senate legislation will contain a compromise “opt out” public option provision.
It was a stunning development, and if a public option is included in the final bill, you’ve got to credit the progressive community (liberal senators, MoveOn, HCAN, PCCC, HuffPo) for fighting for it, even if it once looked like a quixotic quest.
Several other media outlets (Washington Post, Newsweek, Las Vegas Sun, CBS, MSNBC) specifically gave kudos to PCCC members’ activism leading up to Reid’s bold announcement.
So congratulations, folks — together, we made a difference.

So…now what? We’ll be working hard to make sure the public option is preserved and strengthened in the final bill. In the short term, that means making sure Joe Lieberman and conservative Democrats like Ben Nelson don’t join Republicans in blocking an up-or-down vote on health care. There’s one thing you can do — forward this article to friends and encourage them to sign up at http://BoldProgressives.org to get involved in effective activism.
The bigger we are, the bolder we can be in the final stage of this fight! With your help, we’ll fight all the way to victory.

EMERGENCY PETITION TO PRESIDENT OBAMA

Multiple media reports say that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is very close to rounding up the votes needed for a public health insurance option, but “the White House is pushing back against the idea” in order to get the support of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

Tell the White House that the support of one Republican isn’t worth a bad bill.

PLEASE SIGN OUR EMERGENCY PETITION TO PRESIDENT OBAMA TODAY:

“Every day, insurance companies deny care and let people die. Getting one Republican senator’s vote is not worth delaying reform — too many real lives are at stake. We need you to fight and state clearly that anything less than a strong public option is not change we can believe in.”

Click here to sign the emergency petition. Then, please send this to others.

The Washington Post confirms that the White House “wants Snowe on the bill” and is seriously considering Snowe’s proposed “trigger” — which would delay, and effectively kill, the public option.

As Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) recently said, “Olympia Snowe was not elected president last year.” Even her own constituents in Maine support a public option 2 to 1, and overwhelmingly oppose a trigger! Only the insurance industry supports Snowe’s proposal.

We’ll deliver this petition to the White House and let the media know about it. The more people who sign by Monday, the more powerful a message we’ll send. Please sign today — together, we can have an impact.

Thanks for being a bold progressive.

–Aaron Swartz, Stephanie Taylor, Adam Green, Michael Snook, Natasha Patel, and the PCCC team

P.S. This petition comes on the heels of some amazing progress. Days after PCCC members chipped in to air a TV ad asking “if Harry Reid is strong and effective enough a leader to pass a public option into law,” Reid is now “furiously working the phones” in support of a public option, according to the Huffington Post.

The New York Times quotes a Reid aide saying, “There is a growing sense that we need to lead on this issue…The idea is that it’s better to show some fight.” Exactly! Congrats, everyone — our activism made a difference.

Now it’s time to give the same push to President Obama that we gave Senator Reid. Please sign the emergency petition today.

* “Sources: White House Pushing Back Against Senate Public Option Opt Out Compromise,” Talking Points Memo, September 23, 2009

“White House to Reid: We hope you know what you’re doing,” Washington Post, September 23, 2009


Insurance Companies Fight The Public

The Insurance Industry is paying millions and bribing every Senator and Representative with his or her hand out.

We need to continue to fight back.

Nothing less than our country is at stake.

Michael


Last night, Politico reported that a health care deal could come by the end of this week. And the Washington Post writes that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “seems prepared to disappoint.”

Keith Olbermann blasted Reid for weak leadership on the public health insurance option, and showed our new TV ad to make his case that Reid needs to fight. Click here to see Olbermann’s coverage of our ad—and help us air it 200 times in Nevada.

Our new ad made big waves yesterday. Aside from Olbermann, it was featured by MSNBC’s Ed Show, CNN, ABC, NBC, the Washington Post, Las Vegas Sun, and many, many more.

If you care about health care, there has never been a more important time to act. Harry Reid is meeting with just a few other senators to hammer out a final bill, and every day it is reported that they are watering it down.

If we wait to pressure Reid, it will be too late. That’s why we’re asking you to help air our ad, which Huffington Post has called one of the “most direct and aggressive ads to date” on the public option.

Please click here to help put our ad on TV.

Thanks for being a bold progressive.

Stephanie Taylor, Adam Green, Aaron Swartz, Michael Snook, Forrest Brown, and the PCCC team

Palestinians Choose the Illusion of “Victory” Over Negotiated Peace


By Barry Rubin*

October 11, 2009



This may be a very big development, a turning point. Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders are now openly complaining about President Barack Obama, saying he has hurt the Palestinian cause, by accepting less than a complete freeze of construction on settlements from Israel, pressuring PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to stand next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the president’s UN photo opportunity, and pushing the Palestinian Authority to ease off on demanding the UN put sanctions against Israel over the Goldstone Commission issue.

Obama is now going to discover what gratitude is worth in the Middle East. All his pro-Palestinian, pro-Muslim pronouncements, all his criticism of Israel, and everything else he’s tried to do to show his warm support for that side have availed him nothing. In the eyes of the Palestinian leadership it isn’t enough. It can never be enough.

I predict that within a month or two, Obama is going to be denounced in the Palestinian media–with the Syrians and others picking this up–that he is just another George W. Bush. Will he get angry or just keep pretending this isn’t happening?

Here’s how one Palestinian activist puts it, “We had more than a little hope that things would change with an Obama administration. Now the almost universal feeling among Palestinians is one of disappointment.” This view isn’t just coming from high-level officials but also has broad popular appeal.

Once again, the Palestinians have made clear choice. They can seek a mythical victory or real negotiations and a solution. They are choosing the illusion of victory over the reality of getting peace and a Palestinian state through negotiations.

Victory:

Fight on for decades, shed rivers of blood, try either to defeat and destroy Israel or to force it militarily or through international pressure to withdraw to the 1967 borders and give the Palestinians everything they want without concession on their part.

It is always tempting to try to get everything and give up nothing. It is also a good stance for a politician to tell his constituency that if they support him they can have all they want at no real cost.

But it doesn’t work.

Now Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has made a major public speech in which he calls for the UN Human Rights Commission to hold a special session on the ridiculous Goldstone report. The goal is that the Commission will condemn Israel and call for sanctions against it, the UN will endorse the sanctions, and Israel will face massive sanctions.

The next step, unless the U.S. government vetoes this campaign, would be the passage of sanctions condemning Israel for committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip that never happened, rubberstamping the claims of Hamas, an antisemitic terrorist group which preaches genocide against Jews.

Feeling that it is winning, the PA won’t be interested in negotiations. Feeling, understandably, that the world is against it, neither will Israel.

In short, the PA’s strategy would wreck President Barack Obama’s policy of trying to negotiate peace.

Or, there would be a U.S. veto of sanctions, which would make Obama and his administration angry and make them look bad in the world and to the very Muslims they’ve been trying to court.

In short, the PA’s strategy could wreck Obama’s international policy generally, undermining the popularity of someone who is obsessed with being popular.

Either way, the Palestinians would lose, assuming they really wanted peace and a state.

Negotiation:

The PA could actually try to compromise and get an independent state, the withdrawal of all Jewish settlements on its territory, more than $20 billion in aid, and the ability to return all refugees who so wished to live in Palestine.

So here’s the problem: the West and especially Obama wants to act as if the Palestinians are desperate to end the occupation and get a state and have peace.

But they show that they want victory, even if it sacrifices all those things, damages the Obama administration, and destroys its policy of supporting them.

This is what Bill Clinton and George W. Bush learned through experience. Now it’s Obama’s turn to discover that the Palestinian Authority isn’t some poor suffering force that he will rescue but rather a problem, the barrier to peace, and an enemy to U.S. interests.

Don’t underestimate the importance of what’s unfolding here. One thing politicians can’t forgive is someone making them look foolish. Yasir Arafat and the PA did that to Clinton by rejecting his plan for negotiations offered at the Camp David meeting in 2000. Mahmoud Abbas and the PA did that to George W. Bush by lying to him about their arms deal with Hizballah and Iran to smuggle a huge arms shipment that, if not intercepted by Israel, would have led to a bloodbath.

Now the PA is doing the same thing to Obama. Will he be any more forgiving than his two predecessors?


West’s Choice of Strategy: Defending Itself From Terror Attacks or Combating A Radical Strategic Threat?

By Barry Rubin*

There are two basic strategies being put forth in the West and particularly the United States today in regard to the challenge from radical and Islamist forces. The narrower, terror-only strategy is a far more tempting one to follow. It is less expensive, less risky, and makes it far easier to claim success. That’s why it has such enormous appeal and is generally the one being adopted.

The Terror-Only Strategy

In this approach, the problem is defined as direct terror attacks on Western territory and facilities elsewhere like embassies. The enemy is those groups which directly target the West, meaning al-Qaida and its allies plus various independent local self-made terrorists (who are influenced, of course, by Jihadist propaganda).

Since these groups have no major state sponsor, this is a narrow counterterrorism strategy which does not require confrontation or conflict with any other country. It can be handled largely as a police and criminal matter. Success is measured by an ability to keep such attacks to an absolute minimum.

Moreover, it permits the luxury of ignoring attacks on or in other countries—including Israel especially—as not being a matter of much concern. [Even the United States has increasingly taken this stance. After the massive terror attack on Mumbai, India, Pakistan’s policy of sponsoring anti-Indian terrorism has been for all practical purposes ignored. U.S. aid to Pakistan climbs steeply with no conditionality about stopping attacks despite the fact that Pakistan has done nothing to punish the terrorists involved, much less the Pakistani intelligence officers who direct them. The Administration has conducted engagement of Syria with no serious reference to Syria’s sponsorship of terrorism against Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, or Israel. When Iraq protested Syrian involvement in a bloody recent attack the U.S. government declared its neutrality.

Thus, a whole category of terrorist revolutionary groups and their state sponsors can be ignored. If you don’t bother them, it is hoped, they won’t bother you. (This is not without exception, though, as Western states have been willing to put sanctions on Hamas, though these are under some challenge.)

This strategy also has an internal aspect. Since only those small groups which want to attack on their territory are the problem, it can be argued that the best defense is to work with Islamist groups which, no matter how extreme their ideology and their support for terrorism abroad, don’t engage in violence on your own territory.

While there is a sharp debate over the domestic aspect of the strategy–some countries like Britain and France are ready to work with “moderate” Islamists, others aren’t—it has clearly won out on the international front and has been adopted by the Obama Administration.

–The Anti-Islamist Strategy

This seems closer to the Bush Administration’s view and is thus considered discredited in most Western policymaking circles. The concept here is that radical Islamist forces threaten Western strategic interests and pose the principal threat of this era.

The other side here consists, of several different forces: an Iran-led alliance (Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, Iraqi insurgents); Jihadist terrorist groups (al-Qaida and its various affiliates and the Taliban); the Muslim Brotherhoods; and some countries with radical regimes (Sudan, Libya). The key problem is not whether these forces are engaged in direct violence against Western targets, they are at war with Western interests which they seek to destroy.

In this context, they may well engage in anti-Western violence in future. But more important, they are capable of seizing control of countries or regions thus wielding enormous assets. If they succeed—or are perceived by millions of Muslims as succeeding—the entire strategic balance in the Middle East would shift. Western interests would suffer a huge setback and the imbalance could escalate over time.

Obviously, this latter strategy is far less attractive to policymakers. Why get into a possible confrontation with powerful forces and large countries if that can be avoided? Why set the standard of success so high that you probably cannot reach it?

Of course, the problem is that the larger threat is by far the more serious threat. A shift in the balance of forces in such a strategic region, leading inevitably to the encouragement of subversive and violent forces in one’s own countries, is a far more dangerous situation than the occasional bombing or shooting.

But if you believe that it is adequate to deal only with direct violence against you, it can be argued that the best solution is to engage the radical forces at home and abroad, appease them, and avoid trouble. As President Barack Obama put it, he doesn’t seek victory over Iran but a solution to the problem, which is defined as Iran developing nuclear weapons without some agreement or at all.

Iranian involvement in subverting Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and other countries, or fighting Israel, for example, becomes part of the background which you take for granted. But then so is Tehran’s sponsorship of terrorism against U.S. forces in Iraq or Afghanistan, too.

At home, the problem is three-fold. First, if you strengthen Islamist forces, since their goal is to transform the state and society there is a likelihood that they will be a far bigger problem in future, including involvement in violence.

Second, there are always violent spin-offs from these groups, based on the people they indoctrinate even if the main group refrains from violence. Where do Jihadi terrorists come from except through the ranks of such organizations?

Third, by empowering an Islamist leadership, such individuals and groups are more likely to emerge at the head of all, or most, of the Muslim community. This will defeat assimilationist and moderate tendencies and thus greatly magnify the power of the Islamists. In effect, the government tells Muslims: these groups are your leaders so follow them and their ideology. By doing this, massive damage is being inflicted on the host society.

Terrorism is not a movement or a doctrine or a goal but only a tactic used by revolutionary groups. Their ultimate goal is to seize state power and terrorism is merely one way of trying to do so. The question, then, is whether the problem is the use of a tactic or the goal of destroying existing governments and societies to replace them with a totalitarian regime.

Understandably, this limited terrorism-only strategy is tempting as a policy since it is so hard to do anything to solve the bigger Islamist threat. But doesn’t this choice also put the West in great long-term jeopardy, discourage more moderate Third World clients, and guarantee a far higher level of anti-Western violence in future?

That’s something most Western policymakers prefer not to think about, far less do anything about.

Left calls for an end to our involvement in Afghanistan.

Some on the left are calling for an end to our involvementt in Afghanistan.

We ran an article on “why we can’t leave Iraq” a couple of days ago.

On Senator Tom Hayden’s web site there are real-time counters of the cost of the two wars, Afghanistan and Iraq.

It’s sobering to see it.

Tom Hayden was a hero to much of his generation, dashing, brilliant, self-effacing,

He brought a dignity and romanticism to some of the struggles of the sixties.

Tom Hayden should rethink his policy about Afghanistan.

Let’s just focus, for now, on the bottom line, the significance of the Afghan conflict.

Afghanistan is a complex culture with different nationalities and religions and backgrounds.

A 2001 population estimate was 26,813,057, though the effect of the war—with its casualties and refugees—makes estimating difficult.

In 1999 some 79 percent of the population lived in rural areas. Of the urban dwellers, probably about half lived in Kabul, the capital city. The nomadic population was estimated to be about 2.5 million people. During the war with the Soviets the number of Afghan refugees outside the country escalated dramatically, with as many as 2.5 million to 3 million refugees in Pakistan and another 1.5 million in Iran. About 150,000 Afghans were able to migrate permanently to other countries, including the United States, Australia, and various European countries.

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

More than 99 percent of the population of Afghanistan practices Islam.

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, we cannot in good conscience walk away from this situation leaving innocent women and children to being ruled by criminal, although allegedly religious, criminals.

Afghani rulers can be particularly destructive of life for women and girls.

Women are considered property, evil and sinful property.

They must be covered head to foot to hide their shame at being women.

Girls are not allowed an education, at least they weren’t under Taliban rule.

Progressives need to get this situation right.

If we leave Afghanistan, innocent women and children, mothers, daughters, sons, will be subjected to a brutal, criminal regime.

Moral people don’t walk away from this.

They stop it.

We are there now.

We have to protect these innocent people until the day they can run their own affairs and protect themselves.

Twenty years.

We put two generations, including women, through a normal education cycle.

We interact with the people like our soldiers are doing now, and demonstrate that there are better ways to relate to each other.

In 20 years they should be, as the kids say, “Good to go.”