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American Health Care Reform: Socialist Plot or Evil Conspiracy? You decide.

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(NOTE: If you want to cut to the chase (thereby skipping my 24-paragraph editorial hooplah, below) simply skip to page 2 of this piece for info and links on the 3 health-care options currently under consideration: the single-payer plan, the public option and the status quo.)

 

 

DrowningWhen you’re drowning, you don’t notice the color of the hand throwing you a rope.

 

Welcome to American health care!

The same band of thieves that brought our economy to our knees has brought our health care system to its knees. The only difference between the banking industry and the health care insurance industry is that, with the right propaganda, the health care industry hopes to buy just a little more time — time enough to shake the last dimes out of our pockets before the damage becomes so catastrophic that, at last, the deluded mobs will click into survival mode and grow color-blind to the hand throwing them a rope.    

Until then, it appears that our health care debate will continue to be poisoned with wild-haired fears about socialist plots, scary black men, Nazi death panels and birth certificate conspiracies.  It appears, too, that Obama fully intends to continue with this quaint notion of forging bipartisanship with the very corporate propagandists and their paid political hacks on Capitol Hill who have been spending millions upon millions to sabotage his adminstration and, by extension, America itself.

Remember all that talk during the campaign about appeasing terrorists?

Who’d a-thunk: Here we are, one year later, and darned if Obama’s not appeasing a small faction of violent extremists, who believe it is their eminent right to deem certain politicians (any, by extension, the majority of Americans who are in favor of health care reform) as being so evil, that anything and everything — up to, and including murder — is a justifiable means to silencing the opposition. It is of some irony that many of these extremists, much like their al Qaeda counterparts, believe that their God has appointed them to this agenda — that He is calling upon them, personally, to bring our country and its leaders down in flames.

This would be the same God who called upon the Puritans to hang witches; the same God who called upon white men to enslave blacks like beasts of burden; the same God who called upon white men to exterminate Native Americans; the same God who called upon the Klan to lynch blacks, Jews and union activists; the same God who, today, is calling on conservatives and the evangelical Right — many of these working under the invisible auspices of the infamous Doug Coe and The Family —  to lynch and  assassinate their political opponents.   

The complicity of the the Republican Party in this is most unholy and undemocratic process is testament to the power of the insurance industry (existing, as it does, in financial partnership with Wall Street, the evangelical Right, the pharmaceutical industry and, yes, the giants in the oil industry). The abject failure of conservative politicians to condemn the violent rhetoric is testament to the power of money: to the millions upon millions of corporate dollars that have been paid into the coffers of Republicans and blue-dog Democrats who — while they may not be among those openly fanning the flames of violence — are merely sitting on their hands, while death threats are being waged against their Democratic colleagues.

 

VIDEO BELOW: Rep. David Scott of Georgia reads the racist hate mail he received in the wake of a town hall meeting on health care reform

 

It all started innocently enough….

Back in August 2008, Obama laid out his vision for the type of health care debate he hoped to pursue under his adminstration:   

I’m going to have all the negotiations around a big table. We’ll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies — they’ll get a seat at the table, they just won’t be able to buy every chair. But what we will do is, we’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies. And so, that approach, I think is what is going to allow people to stay involved in this process.

Had Obama delivered on this promise — handing the reins over to actual health care reformers and the American people they represent, rather than handing the reins over to the giants who serve the insurance and pharmaceutical industries — the tone of today’s health care debate would not have devolved into a mob war, peppered with incendiary rhetoric about socialist plots to kill old people and babies. We wouldn’t be witnessing the faux outrage of paid protesters shouting shoulder-to-shoulder with genuinely terrified (albeit sadly misinformed) people who have been deluded into believing that health care reform is a secret plot to turn America into a facist, socialist state, with Obama conspiring to use health care as the vehicle for a eugenics/euthenasia program. 

Had Obama placed the health care debate in a public forum, the word “lynching” would not have made its way out of a congressman’s mouth and into the health care debate.  But the Republicans abrogated their integrity long before this. They lost it the instant they openly wished failure on the Obama Admnistration. They lost it the instant they embraced the ghost of the 1920s era Klan to carry their mantle. In order for bipartisanship to work, both sides have to engage in debate. It doesn’t work when one side is hanging effigies and issuing death threats against the other.    

This is nothing new. The entire history of our country has been one long struggle to forge bipartisanship between the wealthy and the poor, the powerful and the powerless, the Christians and the non-Christians, the violent and their victims. It has only been by sheer force of constitutional law that the noble principles of our Constitution ever held in check the baser nature of our society: slavery, Native American genocide, Black Code, Jim Crow, lynchings, McCarthyism, segregation, racial code…. And, even then, change always occurs too late — if it occurs at all — and only after decades or even centuries of intimidation and violence.  

Change has never, ever — not one single time — occurred through mutual agreement. Think about it.

 

VIDEO: Rachel Maddow interview with former Republican evangelical activist, Frank Schaeffer, on the mob violence being organized by the Republican party and the insurance industry.

 

Perhaps Obama believed that bipartisanship could be forged by appeasing the corporate giants and the politicians whose pockets they line. After all, these people don’t play nice. Obama surely figured that out early-on in his administration. Perhaps he believed it would buy their cooperation if — instead of real health care reform — he offered up a token gesture to the American people: something that constituted a change, of sorts, but would — first and foremost — do no harm to the profit margin of these corporations. Perhaps Obama believed he could buy their peace by silencing the voice of true health care reformers — which was accomplished by giving the bums-rush to the single-payer advocates, as they were ushered away from the ‘big table’ with police escorts. 

This is what happens when you make back-room deals with ruthless people: you give them the reins to power. And they take it.  

By giving the power to these corporations and the politicans they serve, Obama gave them license to hijack health care reform. And in doing so, he robbed ordinary American citizens of their voice in the political process; robbed us of the opportunity to talk, as a nation, about the actual costs — the dollars and cents — of our existing for-profit insurance coverage vs. a single payer plan; robbed us of the opportunity to study the feasibility of  incorporating “Medicare for all”  into our health care stystem — extending this government plan to cover more than just senior citizens, veterans and the disabled.  

He robbed us of the opportunity to discuss the quality of health care in this country as delivered by the for-profit insurance industry vs. single-payer Medicare type coverage; robbed us of the opportunity to learn the facts (as opposed to the fallacies) about health care systems in other developed countries, such as France, which the World Health Organization rated as #1 in health care quality, vs. the #37 slot held by the United States. It’s a safe bet that the rabid protestors carrying angry signs about socialist takeovers would be impotent to explain the health system in France, which enjoys a hybrid system — a mix of private, “for-profit” insurance and government insurance, similar in theory what has been proposed for the United States. 

Americans assume that if it’s in Europe, which France is, that it’s socialized medicine. The French don’t consider their system socialized. In fact, they detest socialized medicine. For the French, that’s the British, that’s the Canadians. It’s not the French system…. The French want pretty much the same thing as Americans: choice and more choice.– historian Paul Dutton at Northern Arizona University, author of Differential Diagnoses: A Comparative History of Health Care Problems and Solutions in the United States and France.

What would have happened, had Americans been presented with a one-paragraph bill, reading something like this?

Americans, you now have the freedom of choice: You may either pay your insurance premiums to a private, for-profit health insurance carrier, or pay your premiums into a government single-payer insurance plan, similar to the plan that has long-been enjoyed by senior citizens and veterans. Or, if you like, you can do both. The private, for-profit insurance industry, being an integral part of  the free market, is free to set their own policies. Should you choose to pay into the government’s single-payer plan, you will be covered from birth to death for all medical care, period, with no co-pays or deductibles. 

Obviously, one paragraph wouldn’t suffice, but this would be a workable starting point for plainly stating health care reform, in a nutshell. Regarding the cost for this plan, Obama could take a page from the for-profit insurance industry in the U.S.  Because they have proven, if nothing else, that insuring people can be an obscenely lucrative business. How else could UnitedHealth Group afford to pay a single executive $819,000 per day? That’s a almost $103,000 per hour paid to just one CEO! How else could the insurance industry afford to shell out $1.5 million per-day to wage a campaign to convince Americans that single-payer health care = a facist, socialist plot to take over our country and kill old people and babies?  How else could the insurance industry afford to spend 1 out of every 3 health care dollars on lobbying, PR and executive compensation packages? You think those folks haven’t calculated the net worth of this campaign? More to the point: Does anyone honestly believe that the  insurance industry gives a whit who lives or dies in America?

VIDEO: Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films and sickforprofit.com answers the question, “What does UnitedHealthcare CEO Stephen Hemsley have to lose if Congress passes real healthcare reform this year?” 

 

What the insurance industry does not want us to know is this: Human health is a commodity that generates shareholder profits and billion-dollar executive compensation packages. So long as this is the case, there will always be the built-in incentive to deny medical care — not on the basis of medical advice or science, but by its relationship to the profit margin.

The insurance industry would like us to believe that, under Obama’s plan, health care decisions would be made by government bureaucrats. The insurance industry would like us to believe that it is superior to have our health care decisions made — not by doctors, but by insurance industry executives, armed with actuary tables that tell them exactly who is (and is not) profitable to insure, as well as which diseases and treatments must be denied for the sake of the industry’s profit margin.  

As a disabled American who is insured by a single-payer plan — Medicare, for which I pay a $100 per month premium — I can tell you that no insurance bureaucrat, nor government bureaucrat, has ever stood between me and my doctor, nor dictated which providers I am “allowed” to see, or disallowed any treatment my doctors recommended. 

My point is not to extol the virtues of the Medicare system, nor to entirely demonize the insurance industry, but to suggest that there is absolutely a happy medium to be struck between the debt-plagued Medicare system, which provides efficient and unobtrusive health care, vs. the insurance industry, which  generates billions upon billions in profit by denying care.   

What the lynch-mobbers have yet to understand is their backers (politicians and insurance execs alike) don’t give a whit about the plight of sick people, or about the evils of socialism. The insurance execs funding this propaganda campaign aren’t losing sleep over the idea that health care reform is a secret plot to kill old people and babies (although the insurance industry would have to plead guilty, were they being honest, to the crime of delivering death sentences to people of all ages and walks-of-life). No, what keeps insurance executives awake at night is the elephant in the room:

It is not only possible to insure millions of people without going bankrupt, it is possible — as the insurance company has been proving for decades — to generate obscene profits doing this. It only stands to reason, then, that a well-managed insurance program, such as the single-payer plan, could exist as a break-even proposition, generating neither catastrophic loss or obscene profit.  

France has proven this. To be fair, the system in France is not perfect. They are currently tweaking their system in the response to a $9 billion debt in their health care system. Nine billion dollars is nothing to sneeze at. The U.S. has been spending this much every two weeks in Iraq, and expects to spend this amount every 18 days, after our “troop withdrawal,” for the next five years in Iraq.     

empty chairObama’s folly has been the belief that he could buy peace and cooperation from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries by putting a gag order on the true advocates of health care reform and serving up a 1,000 page bill that is so ambiguous and inscrutable that no will know just how many times the Democrats cried “Uncle!” to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries by the time all is said and done.

Maybe this is America’s destiny — to keep learning the same bitter  lesson over and over: that equality, liberty and fidelity to the spirit of our Constitution can only be realized after a protracted rein of inequality, human suffering and lawlessness. Granted, the lynch mobs represent only a small fraction of Americans, but history proves that it takes a million-fold human lives chained to misery and oppression to offset the power, wealth and influence of just one slave trader, one lynchman, one assassin, one corporate giant, one crooked politician, one Christian warrior gone amok. 

And, even then, the peace is only temporary, for it’s only a matter of time before the torch has been re-ignited, passed on to the next generation. Which is to say that it is a sad state of affairs when the best we can hope for, come September, is not honest bill for health care reform but, rather, that the death threats being issued by the henchmen of the corporate giants will not be realized.

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Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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For more information on the specifics of the 3 health care plans, see page 2 of this article.

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Trick or Treat? The Sarah-Sarkozy Prank Call

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I’m just plain amazed by the number of people I’ve spoken to who haven’t yet heard about the infamous Sarah-Sarkozy phone call. In case you missed it, two notorious Quebec comedians, The Masked Avengers,  pranked Sarah Palin this past Saturday, tricking her into thinking she was speaking on the phone with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. 

I know just how Sarah felt. When I first heard the recording, I felt an instant tug of nostalgia for my childhood puppy love days, back in 6th grade, when I had my first phone conversations with the object of my desire — pounding heart, giddy voice, sweaty palms and all. For some reason, this story seems to be staying under the media radar screen. I can’t imagine why. 

During Sarah’s nearly seven-minute chat, topics ranged from politics, to hunting with vice-president Dick Cheney, to Joe the Plumber, to the recent documentary on Sarah’s life, um, “Hustler’s Nailin’ Palin.” Yikes. This call is so awfully bad, you almost feel sorry for Sarah. Almost. But not quite, if your memory is still haunted by the vile, hateful fearmongering and lies she’s been spewing from the stump over the past 2 months. Take a listen to her phone call here, then read the transcripts (two versions, each with slightly different takes) below.

How Sarah Got Her Groove Back. Not.

__________________________

TRANSCRIPT #1: This version was transcribed by the good folks from the Daily Kos. It includes commentary, translations and a bit of editorializing. Things they couldn’t make out were put in brackets: 

Republican U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin blows a kiss to supporters after speaking at a rally at the Silver Spurs Arena, in Kissimmee, Fla., Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008. (AP / Joe Burbank)

SP Assist = Sarah Palin’s Assistant
MA = Masked Avengers
SP = Sarah Palin
FNS = Fake Nicolas Sarkozy

Note: Typical Palin. She giggles continuously like a school girl and sounds completely unpresidential for someone who thinks she is talking to the leader of a foreign country. It really illustrates how unprepared and underqualified she is to be president or even vice president.

 

Ring

SP Assist: This is Betsy.
MA: Hello, Betsy. This is Frank l’ouvrier (Frank the worker], I’m with President Sarkozy, on the line for Governor Palin.

SP Assist: One second please, can you hold on one second please?
MA: No problem.

SP Assist: Hi, I’m going to hand the phone over to her.
MA: Okay thank you very much I’m going to put the president on the line.
SP Assist: Ok he’s coming to the line.

SP: This is Sarah.
MA: Okay, Governor Palin?

SP: Hellloooo…(long drawn out, like Well, hellooooo)
MA: Just hold on for President Sarkozy, one moment.
SP [To someone in the room]: Oh, it’s not him yet, I always do that. I’ll just have people hand it to me right when it’s them.

FNS: Yes, hello, Governor Palin? Yes, hello, Mrs. Governor?
SP: Hello this is Sarah., how are you?

FNS: Fine, and you, this is Nicolas Sarkozy speaking, how are you?
SP: Oh…so good, it’s so good to hear you. Thank you for calling us.

FNS: Oh, it’s a pleasure.
SP: Thank you sir, we have such great respect for you, John McCain and I, we love you and thank you for spending a few minutes to talk to me.

FNS: I follow your campaigns closely with my special American Advisor Johnny Hallyday, you know?
SP: Yes! Good!

FNS: Excellent! Are you confident?
SP: Very confident and we’re thankful that the polls are showing that the race is tightening and–

FNS: Well I know very well that the campaign can be exhausting. How do you feel right now my dear?
SP: Ah, I feel so good. I feel like we’re in a marathon and at the very end of the marathon, you get your second wind and you plow to the finish—

FNS: You see, I got elected in France because I’m real and you seem to be someone who’s real as well.
SP: Yes, yeah, Nicolas, we so appreciate this opportunity.

FNS: You know, I see you as a president, one day, you too.
SP: [Muahaaa…weird laugh], maybe in 8 years. Haha

FNS: Well, ah, I hope for you. You know we have a lot in common because personally one of my favorite activities is to hunt too.
SP: [Giggle]o h very good, we should go hunting together.

FNS: Exactly! We could go try hunting by helicopter, like you did, I never did that.
SP: [Giggle]

FNS: Like we say in France, “on pourrait tuer des bébés phoques aussi” [Translation: We could also kill some baby seals.]
SP: [Giggle] Well I think we could have a lot of fun together as we’re getting work done, we can kill two birds with one stone that way.

FNS: I just love killing those animals. Mm, mm. Take away a life, that is so fun!
SP: [Hahahaha]

FNS: I’d really love to go as long as we don’t bring your Vice president Cheney, hahaha.
SP: No, I’ll be a careful shot, yes.

FNS: You know we have a lot in common also except that from my house [Note: This sounds somewhat like ‘ass’, with the accent, but I believe it’s house, without the h, which is how the speaker says most of his ‘h’ words] I can see Belgium. That’s kind of less interesting than you.
SP: Well, see, we’re right next door to other countries that we all need to be working with, yes.

FNS: Some people said in the last days, and I thought that was mean, that you weren’t experienced enough in foreign relations, and you know, that’s completely false, that’s the thing I said to my great friend, the Prime Minister of Canada, Stef Carse [Stephen Harper is the PM].
SP: Well, he’s doing fine, too, and yeah when you come into a position underestimated, it gives you the opportunity to prove the pundits and the critics wrong. You work that much harder-

FNS: I, I was wondering because you are also next to him, one of my good friends, also, the prime minister of Quebec, Mr. Richard Z. Sirois [a famous Quebec radio host], have you met him recently? Did he come to one of your rallies?
SP: Uh, haven’t seen him at one of the rallies, but it’s been great working with the Canadian officials in my role as governor; we have a great cooperative effort there as we work on all of our resource development projects. You know I look forward to working with you and getting to meet you personally and your beautiful wife, oh my goodness, you’ve added a lot of energy to your country, even, with that beautiful family of yours.

FNS: Thank you very much. You know my wife, Carla, would love to meet you. You know even though she was a bit jealous that I was supposed to speak to you today. [Hahahaha]
SP: [Hahahha] Well give her a big hug from me.

FNS: You know my wife is a popular singer and a former top model and she’s so hot in bed. She even wrote a song for you.
SP: Oh my goodness! I didn’t know that.

FNS: Yes, in French, it’s called Du rouge à lèvres sur une cochonne [Translate: Lipstick on a smutty girl (note: I’ve seen other sites that say this translates to lipstick on a sow)] or if you prefer in English Joe the Plumber, [sings] It’s his life, Joe the Plumber…”
SP: Maybe she understands  some of the unfair criticism but I bet you she is such a hard worker, too, and she realizes you just plow through that criticism like

FNS: I just want to be sure, I don’t’ quite understand the phenomenon “Joe the Plumber,” that’s not your husband, right?
SP: Mmhmm, that’s into my husband but he’s a normal American who just works hard and doesn’t want government to take his money.

FNS: Yes, yes, I understand, we have the equivalent of Joe the Plumber in France, it’s called, “Marcel, the guy with bread under his armpit, oui.”
SP: Right. That’s what it’s all about, is the middle class, and government needing to work for them. You’re a very good example for us here.

FNS: I  seen a bit about NBC even Fox News wasn’t an ally, an ally, sorry, about as much as usual.
SP: Yeah that’s what we’re up against.

FNS: I must say, Governor Palin, I love the documentary they made on your life, you know, Hustler’s “Nailin Palin.”
SP:  Oh, good, thank you. Yes.

FNS: That was really edgy.
SP: [Laughs] Well good.

FNS: I really love you. And I must say something, so, Governor, you’ve been pranked.
By the Master Avengers. We’re two comedians from Montreal
SP: Oohhh have we been pranked? And what radio station is this? [tries to force herself to sound nice but you can tell she’s pissed]

FNS: This is for CKOI in Montreal.
SP: In Montreal? Tell me the radio station call letters
[SP leaves phone, continuous griping in background, sounds like, “For chrissakes…that was ??? Just a radio station prank…chrissakes…”]

MA: Hello? If one voice can change the world for Obama, one Viagra can change the world for McCain.
[Man’s voice in background: hang up, hang up.]
SP Assist: Hi, I’m sorry, I have to let you go. Um, thank you.

_______________________–

 

TRANSCRIPT #2: This is the straight transcript, provided by Canadian Press, with no commentary, no translation:

Sarah Palin: This is Sarah.
Masked Avengers: Ah, yeah, Gov. Palin.
Palin: Hello.
Avengers: Just hold on for President Sarkozy, one moment.
P: Oh, it’s not him yet, they’re saying. I always do that.
A: Yes, hello, Gov. Palin.
P: Hello, this is Sarah, how are you?
A: Fine, and you? This is Nicolas Sarkozy speaking, how are you?
P: Oh, it’s so good to hear you. Thank you for calling us.
A: Oh, it’s a pleasure.
P: Thank you sir, we have such great respect for you, John McCain and I. We love you and thank you for taking a few minutes to talk to me.
A: I follow your campaigns closely with my special American adviser Johnny Hallyday, you know?
P: Yes, good.
A: Excellent. Are you confident?
P: Very confident and we’re thankful that polls are showing that the race is tightening and…
A: Well I know very well that the campaign can be exhausting. How do you feel right now, my dear?

P: I feel so good. I feel like we’re in a marathon and at the very end of the marathon you get your second wind and you plow to the finish.

A: You see, I got elected in France because I’m real and you seem to be someone who’s real, as well.

P: Yes, yeah. Nico, we so appreciate this opportunity.

A: You know I see you as a president one day, too.

P: Maybe in eight years.

A: Well, I hope for you. You know, we have a lot in common because personally one of my favourite activities is to hunt, too.

P: Oh, very good. We should go hunting together.

A: Exactly, we could try go hunting by helicopter like you did. I never did that.

Like we say in French, on pourrait tuer des bebe phoques, aussi

P: Well, I think we could have a lot of fun together while we’re getting work done. We can kill two birds with one stone that way.

A: I just love killing those animals. Mmm, mmm, take away life, that is so fun.

I’d really love to go, so long as we don’t bring along Vice-President Cheney.

P: No, I’ll be a careful shot, yes.

A: Yes, you know we have a lot in common also, because except from my house I can see Belgium. That’s kind of less interesting than you.

P: Well, see, we’re right next door to different countries that we all need to be working with, yes.

A: Some people said in the last days and I thought that was mean that you weren’t experienced enough in foreign relations and you know that’s completely false. That’s the thing that I said to my great friend, the prime minister of Canada Stef Carse.

P: Well, he’s doing fine, too, and yeah, when you come into a position underestimated it gives you an opportunity to prove the pundits and the critics wrong. You work that much harder.

A: I was wondering because you are so next to him, one of my good friends, the prime minister of Quebec, Mr. Richard Z. Sirois, have you met him recently? Did he come to one of your rallies?

P: I haven’t seen him at one of the rallies but it’s been great working with the Canadian officials. I know as governor we have a great co-operative effort there as we work on all of our resource-development projects. You know, I look forward to working with you and getting to meet you personally and your beautiful wife.

Oh my goodness, you’ve added a lot of energy to your country with that beautiful family of yours.

A: Thank you very much. You know my wife Carla would love to meet you, even though you know she was a bit jealous that I was supposed to speak to you today.

P: Well, give her a big hug for me.

A: You know my wife is a popular singer and a former top model and she’s so hot in bed. She even wrote a song for you.

P: Oh my goodness, I didn’t know that.

A: Yes, in French it’s called de rouge a levre sur un cochon, or if you prefer in English, Joe the Plumber…it’s his life, Joe the Plumber.

P: Maybe she understands some of the unfair criticism but I bet you she is such a hard worker, too, and she realizes you just plow through that criticism.

A: I just want to be sure. That phenomenon Joe the Plumber. That’s not your husband, right?

P: That’s not my husband but he’s a normal American who just works hard and doesn’t want government to take his money.

A: Yes, yes, I understand we have the equivalent of Joe the Plumber in France. It’s called Marcel, the guy with bread under his armpit.

P: Right, that’s what it’s all about, the middle class and government needing to work for them. You’re a very good example for us here.

A: I see a bit about NBC, even Fox News wasn’t an ally as much as usual.

P: Yeah, that’s what we’re up against.

A: Gov. Palin, I love the documentary they made on your life. You know Hustler’s Nailin’ Paylin?

P: Ohh, good, thank you, yes.

A: That was really edgy.

P: Well, good.

A: I really loved you and I must say something also, governor, you’ve been pranked by the Masked Avengers. We are two comedians from Montreal.

P: Ohhh, have we been pranked? And what radio station is this?

A: CKOI in Montreal.

P: In Montreal? Tell me the radio station call letters.

A: CK…hello?

Written by canarypapers

November 3, 2008 at 10:36 am