canarypapers

Posts Tagged ‘obama

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

leave a comment »

(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.

 ____________________________________

Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

 ____________________________________

 

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

Advertisements

183 Times is the Charm: The Accusation (by Torture) of a Young Mother Named Aafia Siddiqui

with one comment

NOTE: The post, below, is from June 2009. To see our most recent post on Aafia Siddiqui, published 1/19/2010, see:  The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 317 YEARS?

From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of others faced accusations of witchcraft. Dozens languished in jail for months without trials. Then, almost as soon as it had begun, the hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts ended. (“An Account of Events in Salem,” from the University of Missouri — Kansas City website)

The hunt was characterized by unrestrained torture and and an obsession with getting tortured witches to name other witches. (from Witch Hunts in Europe and America: An Encyclopedia, by William E. Burns)

"Water Torture" 16th century woodcut by Joos de Damhouder, illustrating how to interrogate witch suspects under torture

"The Water Torture" 16th century woodcut by Joos de Damhouder, illustrating how to interrogate witch suspects under torture

By now, most Americans — having heard the word “waterboarding” at least 183 times over the past month — seem to have grown immune to the visceral horrors attending to that particular techinque that the International Red Cross terms “suffocation by drowning.” We’ve surely grown immune to human suffering. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have reduced the topic of torture to a mere parlor game — an exercise in sophistry — as the left and the right mentally wrestle with questions whose answers have been known for centuries: Is waterboarding torture? Does torture ‘work’?

[Click here to read the rest of this introduction on U.S. policy and torture. Or just skip the intro entirely, and keep reading onward, into the stories of several individuals (with particular focus on Aafia Siddiqui) who have been falsely arrested, illegally imprisoned, “disappeared,” subjected to extraordinarily rendition and/or tortured over the past 8 years — and counting.]

An American Story

Imagine this: You are a 41 year-old man, a U.S. citizen, born in Kansas, an Army veteran, married with three children, practicing family law in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon; you pay your taxes on time, have never had a brush with the law. You are the quintessential “average American citizen.” Imagine, then, your surprise when the FBI descends on your home and fingers you as the mastermind of the 2004 Madrid train bombing that killed 191 people and injured over 2000. Your name is Brandon Mayfield, and it’s official: You have just been arrested as the mastermind in an international terrorist plot.

“But I haven’t left the country in over 10 years!” you protest. “And I’ve never even been to Spain! How could this happen?”

Turns out it was your fingerprint. The FBI’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) identified your fingerprint as a possible match to the one found on a plastic bag near the Madrid bombing. The match was then verified in quadruplicate by FBI fingerprint experts, which lent full credibility to the claim in their affidavit: “….the FBI lab stands by their conclusion of a 100 percent positive identification.” It was the fingerprint, see.

‘Lucky’ for you, your incarceration lasted only 2 weeks. The Spanish police identified the real mastermind (some guy from Algeria), prompting the FBI to dismiss the charges against you. In return, you file a a civil-rights lawsuit against the U.S. government. Herein, more facts emerge. Turns out, the Spanish police had already rejected the FBI’s identification of your fingerprint — twenty-three days before your arrest — as “conclusively negative.” Perhaps that would have been the end of that, if not for the smoking gun: you were also a Muslim convert.

Convinced of your guilt, the FBI spent those twenty-three days doggedly pursuing a case against you, with an intensity that the Spanish Police found perplexing. As one commissioner said, “It seemed as though they [the FBI] had something against him, and they wanted to involve us.” Lacking probable cause for search and seizure, the FBI turned to the nifty new provisions in the Patriot Act, which allowed them to entirely sidestep your Fourth Amendment rights, via “sneak and peak” warrants.

Turns out, you and your wife hadn’t been imagining things. Your door lock had been tampered; someone had been in your home. You were being watched. It was the FBI who, in your absence, snuck into your home, your office, and even the family farm in Kansas,“surreptitiously, photographing papers, downloading hard drives, and planting listening devices.”

But you were ‘lucky.’ You had, at your disposal, due process — stuff like habeas corpus, and an attorney to represent you in a U.S. court of law. Your case was fairly clear-cut, too. That is, once the facts were allowed to see the light of day. In the end, the FBI aplogized and you were awarded a $2 million settlement. And in 2007, a federal judge ruled that those nifty Patriot Act provisions used by the FBI to sneak into your home actually violated the U.S. Constitution.

2891436BG002_Ottawa_CitizenNow imagine that you are a 34-year old man — married, a father, a Canadian citizen for 17 years, Syrian-born. And, oh, a muslim. Imagine yourself going on vacation with your family to Tunisia in 2002 and, upon your return flight home to Canada, passing through the JFK airport in New York City. Here, you are detained in solitary confinement and interrogated for 12 days, then shackled and flown to Syria, where you are imprisoned inside a coffin-sized underground cell for 10 months + 10 days, being subjected throughout this time to beatings and torture sessions to extract information which the U.S. government is certain you own.

While you initially refuse to admit to something you didn’t do, the torture finally becomes so unbearable, that you will say anything to make it stop — up to and including making false confessions, admitting guilt to whatever terrorist acts your torturers accuse you. Your name is Maher Arar and — even as you are ultimately determined to be 100% innocent — your case is not as clear cut as Brandon Mayfield’s. You are, after all, a Canadian citizen. And, oh, a muslim of Arab descent.

Still, the facts of your case do eventually see the light of day. The Canadian government launches a Commission of Inquiry into your case and, in 2006 (three years after your release from your extraordinary rendition to Syria), you are cleared of all accusations. The Canadian government issues an official apology, and you are awarded a settlement of $10.5 million Canadian dollars. For their part, however, the U.S. government and the FBI refuse to extend an apology, official or otherwise (even as there were a few notable lawmakers of integrity on Capitol Hill who did issue personal apologies on behalf of the U.S. government).

[see also: Patrick Leahy’s interrogation of Gonzales on the Maher Arar case here, and the 1-1/2 hour video of the U.S. Congressional hearing on Maher Arar’s case here].

Seeking to clear your name, you file a lawsuit against the U.S. government for violating your civil rights. But the Bush Administration refuses to allow your case to come to trial, for reasons of “national security.” To this day, you are still on the U.S. terrorist watch list and are forbidden to enter the country.

The likelihood of your case going to trial in the U.S. is slim, as the Obama Administration has, so far, aligned itself with the Bush Administration, — having recently used the “state secrets” argument to deny trials to 5 other Bush Administration victims who were similarly flown to other countries to be tortured. According to Obama, the Bush Administration was right: allowing these innocent victims a trial could threaten national security.

Ibrahim JassamNow imagine this: You are a 31-year old man, an accredited freelance cameraman and photographer, working for Reuters in Iraq. On September 1, 2008,  U.S. forces, accompanied by dogs, storm your home in the middle of the night — breaking down your door, barking orders and terrifying the grandparents, children and grandchildren inside. You are taken into custody and thrown into jail, without charges. Three months pass. Still, no formal charges, no evidence, no due process.

In a stroke of democracy, the Iraqi central criminal court orders your release, for lack of evidence. The U.S. bars your release, however, saying you are a threat to Iraq security and stability. The protests of your family, of Reuters and international human rights and media rights groups fall on deaf ears. More months pass. To this day, you are still in jail, without charges. Your name is Ibrahim Jassam, and you are but one of  dozens of  journalists imprisoned — without charges — under the Bush Administration.

You are, so far, luckier than some. According to Reporters Without Borders,  hundreds of journalists have been killed in Iraq, with many more forced into exile, imprisoned or simply disappeared. Too, some have been imprisoned for much longer than you. Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Bilal Hussein, for instance, was imprisoned for two years. Al Jazeera journalist, Sami al-Haj was imprisoned for over 7 years, with 6-1/2 of these years spent at Guantanamo, where America sends “the worst of the worst.”

A young boy hopes for the release of his father, Sami al-Haj -- a journalist and cameraman, better known to U.S. officials as Prisoner 345 at Guantanamo, where he spent 6-1/2 years without charges.

2007 photo: A young boy hoping for the release of his father, Sami al-Haj -- a journalist and cameraman, better known to U.S. officials as Prisoner 345 at Guantanamo, where he spent 6-1/2 years without charges.

[Here it must be said that Sami al-Haj’s story, alone, is evidence enough that our leaders and media should give pause to the Bush Administration’s “intelligence” that has effectively colored the entire population of 240 Guantanamo detainees — including those who have been long-pronounced innocent, but also those whose guilt was cemented under confessions extracted through torture — as a mix of terrorists and men so dangerous that they cannot safely be released anywhere on the planet Earth, much less allowed fair trials that would, in all likelihood, clear the names of some of these prisoners, the only “threat to national security” being that their trials would reveal the extent of the U.S. government’s tyranny.]

(video, above) Associated Press report (39 seconds long) on Bilal Hussein’s release in 2008, with footage of his reunion with his AP colleagues and his family

Both Bilal Hussein and Sami al-Haj were released  in 2008. Neither was ever charged with a crime, even as their incarcerations were justified by a series of shifting accusations, based on top secret evidence that, for national security reasons, could not be divulged: Bilal Hussein (see AP timeline of his case here) was accused, at one point, of being caught in possession of bomb-making materials, while Sami al-Haj was alternately accused of videotaping Osama bin Laden, sending money to suspicious Muslim charities, and arranging for the transport of a Stinger anti-aircraft system from Afghanistan to Chechnya. Despite these ludicrous accusations, in appears that these journalists were guilty of nothing more than practicing journalism.

Your name is Ibrahim Jassam, and you’ve been in jail for 9 months, without charges. Your misfortune is that you are being detained by the U.S. government. Had you been detained by, say, Iran you would have been afforded at least some semblance of due process — formal charges, an attorney, a trial, an appeals process. Had you been detained by, say, North Korea, your injustice would be given a voice in the U.S. media. Had you been arrested by anyone but the American government, you would be a poster child, of sorts, for media suppression under tyrannical regimes.

Your name is Ibrahim Jassam, and your story is almost, but not quite, unknown in America. According to your family, which has been allowed only a handful of visits, you used to be handsome. “But now he’s pale and he’s tired,” says your brother, describing one of these visits: “Every now and then while we were talking, he would start crying. He was begging me: ‘Please do something to get me out of here. I don’t know what is the charge against me.‘ I told him we already tried everything.”

Now imagine this: You are a 31-year old mother of three; you are also an MIT graduate with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. [In hindsight, there is cruel irony to the topic of your dissertation, in which you explored how people learn — specifically, the interaction between visual memory and perception. In your abstract, you wrote, “Without a visible trail, it is difficult for the subject to form a picture or story.”] . It is late March of 2003. Just a few days earlier, the U.S. went to war in Iraq and — as is now known — the CIA, the FBI and the Bush Administration at large were working around the clock to put together the intelligence necessary to justifying this war.

Up until a year earlier, you’d spent 12 years living in America as a dual citizen of the U.S. and Pakistan. You’d originally moved to the U.S. in 1990 to attend college and be nearer your sister and brother — a Harvard-trained neurologist and a Houston architect, respectively. While living in the U.S., you married a medical student in Boston, who went on to work as an anesthesiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. You gave birth to 2 children. Neighbors and friends described you as a devoted mother, spending the bulk of your time in the everyday routines of raising your children, overseeing play groups with their friends. You were also a devout Muslim and donated both time and money to charitable causes and missionary work to help less fortunate Muslims.

Because contributing to Muslim charities constituted a red flag in post-9-11 American, the FBI was watching you and had been since the fall of 2001. According to U.S. intelligence sources, your husband purchased night goggles and body armor off the internet in 2001, which he claimed were intended for big game hunting. Because of these purchases, you, yourself, were brought in for questioning by U.S. officials.  Although you were released after questioning, this interrogation served as further evidence that the post-9-11 hostility toward Muslims was escalating. This factored into your decision to return to Pakistan — a debate that had already caused considerable strain in your marriage: you you wanted to raise your children in America, while your husband wanted to raise them in Pakistan. In 2002 — with your marriage now on the rocks — you and your husband returned to Pakistan.

By March of 2003, you’d been estranged from your husband for over 7 months, during which time you lived with your mother and gave birth to your third child, who was now 6 months old. Three months earlier, in December 2002, you’d returned to the United States to apply for jobs in the Baltimore area, where your sister was now working at Sinai Hospital. After making several applications — and interviewing with both Johns Hopkins and SUNY — you opened a post office box to receive replies from prospective employers, then returned to your children and your mother in Pakistan.

Now imagine that the FBI believes the only reason you opened that post office box was to receive communications as part of an al Qaeda plot to blow up gas stations and fuel tanks in the Baltimore area. Imagine, too, that during the course of the FBI’s 18-month surveillance of you and your husband, they discovered that, during the summer of 2001, one of your former Muslim acquaintances from Boston had been wired $20,000 from Saudi Arabia (a sum which, according to the explanation given by a Saudi official to the Boston Globe, was sent to pay for medical treatment for the man’s wife).  Lastly, imagine that, the FBI believes that this $20,000 is connected to a purported diamond smuggling trip, made by a mysterious woman in the summer of 2001, to fund al Qaeda operations. According to the FBI, that mystery woman is you.

To this story add water, then quickly spin

It is now March 28, 2003. Just a week earlier, on March 20th, the U.S. invaded Iraq. Several weeks earlier, on March 1st, the alleged architect of 9-11,  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was captured. It seems that — during one of his 183 waterboard interrogation sessions — your name came up.

(continued page 2 —–>)

1 2 3 —–> next page

A Note to Obama: You’re Going the Wrong Way

leave a comment »

I don’t have much energy to devote to this post (my attention more or less consumed with chronic illness, debt, poverty and — with what little is left of my self — toward causes over which I may actually own a modicum of control) but the latest news on Larry Summers is the last straw.

While I could make a case for many, many last straws (your stances on Gaza, Afghanistan, Bush-Cheney war crimes and health care reform; your choice for secretary of state and the rest of your motley cast of toxic players and advisors with their sleazy conflicts of interests; your disregard toward toward HR 676 — true health care reform — and most of all your disregard, well-intentioned as it may be, of the wishes of the American people regarding all of the above) these last straws merely caused me to abandon watching the news, in the wake of abandoning the hope for real change, toward which I contributed during your campaign. 

Having said this, I do believe that your original intentions were sterling. But the news about Larry Summers is the last straw. So I’ll unclench my fingernails from the dashboard long enough to tell you what’s as clear as the nose on your face, if you’d only look. Apparently none of your closed circle is going to tell you, and rumor has it that you no longer listen to the honest ones — those whose shared vision drove your campaign toward the White House. 

Roll down the freaking window Obama. Those shower curtain rings ain’t gonna buy much, once the honeymoon’s over. 

Written by canarypapers

April 7, 2009 at 10:01 am

What Do You Want: Insurance or Health Care? (they’re not the same, you know)

with one comment

Quick question:

Do you want insurance or health care for yourself and your family? Before you answer that question, make sure you understand the difference because, make no mistake: the differences are huge.  

[pssst…. Are you already in favor of true universal health care? If so, forego reading tmy long-winded post below and, instead, spend the next few minutes doing something practical, like making your voice heard. This is an urgent matter. We have now until the end of February to:

  1. Urge your representatives to please co-sponsor H.R. 676 and actively work with Congressman John Conyers, as he reintroduces the bill in the 111th Congress.  (Here’s ane easy link to contact your Representative). The bill currently has 93 co-sponsors in the House, out of the 150 needed by the end of February. 
  2. There is still no companion bill to H.R. 676 in the Senate. Urge Sen. Edward Kennedy to sponsor a companion bill to HR 676 in the Senate. (Contact Sen. Kennedy via snail mail ).  The Senate is currently proposing a healthcare reform plan that will mandate health insurance coverage for every person in the United States. Forcing people to purchase insurance would be a real boon to the for-profit insurance industry, enriching CEOs and corporations, but it does nothing to address the needs of the millions of Americans in need of health care.   
  3. Let President Obama know how many of us are in favor of true universal health care (H.R. 676) as opposed to the watered-down versions currently being offered.  (Here’s an easy link to contact Obama).
  4. Lastly, if you’re not in favor of true universal health care, do yourself and the rest of us a favor by making sure you know the facts — beyond the insurance industry’s talking points — before permanently making up your mind.  A good place to start is at the source: Congressman John Conyers, the sponsorer of this bill. Here are some FAQs, from Conyers’ website.)]

QUICK ANSWER:

Health care.

 

LONGER ANSWER:

It’s a common myth in this country that insurance = health care. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. And this truth has only grown more perverse during the 8-year orgy we’ve just suffered, as our politicians have fallen, one by one, into bed with the giants of commerce (e.g. the banking, pharmaceutical, energy, media and insurance industries, etc.). This fellowship has compelled our lawmakers to turn a blind eye to the well-being of the average American citizen, as they paid deference, instead, to those lobbyists promising the biggest contributions to their campaign coffers. We need look no further than Wall Street to see both the evidence and the repercussions of our lawmaker’s selective blindness.  

This dynamic explains, in part, why the following news gem got lost in this week’s media shuffle (falling somewhere between the lack of coverage on Israel’s war crimes and Bush’s farewell speech):

According to a study released this past Wednesday by the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association, the universal health care plan (H.R. 676) that’s been collecting dust in a House of Representatives subcommittee for the past 2 years holds the potential to create over 2.6 million new and permanent “shovel ready” jobs (that’s just slightly over the total number of jobs lost in 2008).

What’s more, according to this same study, H.R. 676 would provide a major stimulus for the U.S. economy — not only by creating the said-2.6 million jobs equivalent to $100 billion in wages  — but by infusing $317 billion in new business and public revenues into the economy and infusing public budgets with  $44 billion in new tax revenues. 

Sound too good to be true? The insurance industry hopes you’ll think so

See, the reasons this news about this study slipped under this week’s rader are the same reasons it has slipped under the radar since the bill was introduced in January 2007. Specifically, H.R. 676 (the only true, universal health care plan that has been proposed on Capitol Hill) designs to cut out the middle man — the for-profit insurance industry, one of the most powerful lobbies on Capitol Hill.

Make no mistake. By virtue of being a for-profit business, the insurance industry seeks to maximize profits, while minimizing expenses. And  their biggest expense, by far, is shelling out health care benefits to its members. To this end, the insurance industry fights tooth and nail against providing the very services they’re empowered to pay out: health care for its members. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the math, nor to understand that, under such a system, the for-profit insurance industry is inherently antagonistic to providing actual health care. Is it any wonder, then, that the insurance industry has also fought tooth and nail to convince us all that universal health care is the demon? And is it any wonder that so many Americans have become convinced of the horrors that would befall us all, should we be subjected to (sweet Lord, no!) guaranteed health care? 

The supporters of H.R. 676 have worked equally hard to educate the public on the benefits of a universal, single-payer health care plan. But, lacking the lobbying clout of the insurance industry, these folks can’t command the sort of power the insurance industry enjoys both on Capitol Hill and in our media. For the record, here are a few of the talking points we might have heard from the other side, regarding the benefits of universal, single-payer health care under H.R. 676: 

  • Every resident of the US will be covered from birth to death.
  • No more pre-existing conditions to be excluded from coverage.
  • No more expensive deductibles or co-pays.
  • All prescription medications will be covered.
  • All dental and eye care will be included.
  • Mental health and substance abuse care will be fully covered.(1)
  • Long term and nursing home services will be included.
  • You will always choose your own doctors and hospitals.
  • Costs of coverage will be assessed on a sliding scale basis.
  • Tremendously simplified system of medical administration
  • Total portability – your coverage not tied to any job or location.
  • Existing Medicare benefits for those over 65 will remain the same or be vastly improved in many cases.
  • No corporate bureaucrat will ever come between you and your Doctor to deny your care

 

______________________

A CALL TO ACTION (see contacts info in steps 1 through 3 at the top of this post)

Congressman John Conyers will reintroduce HR 676, his single-payer healthcare bill in the 111th Congress. Please ask your representative to cosponsor the bill and actively work with Rep. Conyers to gain additional cosponsors. In order to ensure HR 676 is part of the healthcare discussion in Congress, we need 150 cosponsors by the end of February.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle, President-Elect Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, called for “a government-run insurance program modeled after Medicare” in testimony before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions as part of the solution to our healthcare crisis. His plan also includes health insurance corporations. Only HR 676 would implement a sustainable, fair, and efficient solution to the healthcare crisis as well as providing economic stimulus.

While single-payer healthcare proponents have made good headway in the House, there is still no companion bill in the Senate. Urge Sen. Edward Kennedy to sponsor a companion bill to HR 676 in the Senate. And, while you’re at it, be sure Obama also knows where you stand. Lastly, bookmark this page at the Healthcare NOW! site to keep updated on activist work on H.R. 676 and consider joining forces with The Citizens Alliance for National Health Insurance HR 676 to get the word out to the media on this important bill.

 

__________________________________________________________

 

WHO ENDORSES H.R. 676? YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED

Along with millions of U.S. citizens from all age brackets and economic persuasions, there are (currently) 94 Representatives in the U.S. House who endorse H.R. 676, along with 480 union organizations in 49 states, including 117 Central Labor Councils, 20 international unions, plus AFL-CIO Federations in 35 states, the US Conference of Mayors, the Houses of Representatives in Kentucky, New Hampshire and New York, and hundreds more cities, counties, faith groups and medical and health care organizations that express the great hope and dire need of our people. 

_________________

Dennis Kucinich: patriot or nut?

It depends on what (or who) you read. If you read only the talking points (propaganda) of the industry giants, you’d have little choice but to conclude he’s not only a nut, but an awfully, terribly short man, which is somewhat of a fatal flaw in our society. But if you look past his much-slandered physical stature and look into Kuchich’s body of work, reviewing the actual issues that Dennis Kucinich has consistently fought for on behalf of the American people (with many of these in defiance of the industry giants, his campaign coffers be damned), you’d be hard-pressed to not see that he’s one of Capitol Hill’s staunchest allies to the American people. A giant in his own right and, yes, an American patriot. Had there been more lawmakers like Dennis Kucinich on Capitol Hill over the past 8 years, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re now in. In the above video, the ever-foresighted Kucinich explains universal health care.  

Capitol Hill Applauds Israel’s War Crimes: Money Buys the Darndest Things

leave a comment »

“Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.” ~Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In case you missed it, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (so often the running joke between politicians and talking heads) once again stood firmly on the side of right this past week, as he spoke twice on Capitol Hill, arguing for the rule of law from our lawmakers on Capitol Hill. It seems that, in the midst of so much condemnation of Israel’s war crimes by the international community, the Senate and the House felt inspired to draft an official Resolution to pledge their  “unwavering commitment” of support for Israel’s war on Gaza.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s statements were directed — not only toward the contradictory message this resolution sent toward our supposed goal of peace — but to the actual U.S. laws that govern how Israel is allowed to use the billions of American dollars worth of  F-16s, tanks, Apache helicopters, phosphorus shells, depleted uranium, cluster bombs, and so on that Israel is using in violation of the Geneva Convention to commit said war crimes against the mothers, fathers and chilren of Gaza.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009

Silly Dennis. Will he never learn? We’re not a nation of laws. The tinkering of the past 4 administrations has left us a nation of endorsements,  with the greatest deference given to those with the deepest pockets to fill our politicians’ campaign coffers.

In real-speak, this means that our politicians (now having much in common with trained seals) clap on command — indifferent to right or wrong — their job reduced to authoring (or subcontracting this work to lobbyists) and authorizing bills, resolutions and laws that will best serve their most generous benefactors — oil & energy moguls, media magnates, pharmaceutical & insurance industry titans, financial & banking tycoons, Zionist-AIPAC barons (the latter being of special importance to this week’s resolution, as the Israel Lobby provides upwards of 60% of the campaign contributions to our Democratic lawmakers).   

A little man like Dennis Kucinich doesn’t stand a chance among big men.

Even armed with the law of the land, or with big documents, such as the U.S. Constitition or the Bill or Rights, Dennis Kucinich nearly always comes up short — his voice carrying about as much stature as a blue-bottle fly, buzzing about a putrid feed trough. He is nonetheless to be commended for his ethics, his patriotism and, most certainly, his bravery.

According to Ronnie Lipschutz, professor of politics at UC Santa Cruz, withholding support for pro-Israel, AIPAC measures is not common, and often carries grave political consequences for members of Congress. “They are thinking what are the costs of voting against it, not what are the benefits,” said Lipschutz.

Perhaps this is what inspires statements, such as the one that Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, proclaimed before the vote: “Our resolution reflects the will of the state of Israel and the will of the American people.”

The will of the American people? Au contraire, Mr. Reid. Your resolution reflects the will of your biggest campaign supporters: the giants. In this case, AIPAC.

Because, make no mistake — your resolution passed, despite the will of the American people. Your resolution passed despite the protests of the American people in every major American city. Your resolution passed, despite thousands upon thousands of phone calls, faxes, letters and emails sent by the American people to their Senators in Washington. And, as if it mattered, your resolution passed, despite the United Nations resolution calling for an immediate truce (a resolution passed, no thanks to the U.S., on the same day you passed your resolution of praise for Israel); and your resolution passed despite that Israel has fired on and killed several United Nations workers in Gaza. Your resolution passed despite Israel’s refusal to allow Red Cross workers to reach the wounded women and children of Gaza. Your resolution passed despite that Israel has been repeatedly accused of war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention. These accusations have come from the United Nations (from the onset of this war, up to today) and from humanitarian workers and the Red Cross in a statement released 2 days ago:

The Red Cross “believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded. It considers the delay in allowing rescue services access unacceptable.”

Harry Reid, your resolution does not reflect the will of the American people!

AK84165927

A wounded Palestinian boy is helped as he arrives at a hospital on January 4 in  Gaza City.

 

Your resolution — and the relative complicity of so many Americans — reflects the success of Israeli-U.S. propaganda campaign.  (Because, you see, the American people don’t know the truth this war. But you do. What’s your excuse?) It also reflects the success of the fearmongering campaigns that you and your esteemed colleagues, most notably George W. Bush & Dick Cheney, have ‘unwaveringly’ perpetuated over the past 8 years — a heaping dollop of which you, yourself, served-up in your rhetorical WWJD-esque question, posed in the final minutes before the passage of this illicit resolution:

“I ask any of my colleagues to imagine that happening here in the United States. Rockets and mortars coming from Toronto in Canada, into Buffalo New York. How would we as a country react?”

And then, as if responding on cue, the trained seals echoed something to the effect of “Hear! Hear!” and “The Israelis are responding exactly the same way we would!” before voting unanimously to approve the resolution.

Of course, there was no mention of war crimes during all this praise, nor in the language of the Senate resolution. Instead, the resolution went onto the House the next day and passed with flying colors, as 390 approved the resolution, 22 voted present, and a pathetically small, but courageous total of 5 voted against it:

Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
Ron Paul (R-TX)
Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Nick Rahall (D-WV)

To this, I have a few rhetorical questions of my own to ask: 

What would the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. do? What would Mahatma Gandhi do?  What would Abraham Lincoln do? Or, to put it more succinctly, what would George W. Bush do?

Americans well-learned the answer to that last question. But what many Americans have yet to learn, is that (the will of the American people be damned) the answer to the question is the same today — and has been for years now — no matter who we turn to in Washington: Bush, Bush, Cheney, Reid, Pelosi, Clinton, Clinton, and so on….

 

And this is especially true in matters of U.S.-Israeli policy because — when you get right down to it —  the same giants who have so generously lined the pockets of Bush-Cheney & Co. over the past 8 years are the same giants who line your pockets, Harry Reid, and who also line the pockets  (or scare the bejeebers out of) all but 5 of our representatives on Capitol Hill — not to mention the past 4 presidents of the United States and, apparently, our current President-Elect.

Sarah Palin’s Reflection, as Seen from the Abyss

leave a comment »

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you. — Friedrich Nietzsche

Many of us have been wishing for just a modicum of news coverage on Joe Biden, whose presence on the national stage has been dwarfed to near non-existence by the paparazzi-style coverage of Sarah Palin– our media’s latest flash-in-the-frying-pan darling, who has stepped into the shoes previously occupied by such notables as Paris Hilton, Brittney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith. 

Be careful what you wish for. Joe Biden finally got some news coverage this past Thursday, as he was “interviewed” by Barbara West, an anchor for Florida station WFTV (see video, below), who regaled Biden with a series of classic “when did you stop beating your wife” questions on Marxism. 

This interview needs to be preserved in the annals of American history, so that future generations can see, firsthand, how fearmongering and demagoguery work. For historical perspective on how this has played out in America over the past 300+ years, read on. Otherwise, just vote. For cripe’s sakes, vote — and urge everyone you know to vote. And if, by chance, on November 4th, you find you’ve been caged or purged or challenged – call Election Protection at 1-(866) OURVOTE (1-866-687-8683). Click here for more info on protecting yourself from voter fraud.

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 316 YEARS?

From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of others faced accusations of witchcraft. Dozens languished in jail for months without trials. Then, almost as soon as it had begun, the hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts ended. — “An Account of Events in Salem,” from the University of Missouri — Kansas City website

As years passed, apologies were offered, and restitution was made to the victims’ families. Historians and sociologists have examined this most complex episode in our history so that we may understand the issues of that time and apply our understanding to our own society. The parallels between the Salem witch trials and more modern examples of “witch hunting” like the McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s, are remarkable. — from the Salem Witch Museum website

______________________________________

 HAS IT BEEN ONLY 60 YEARS?

Below is a video with clips of various anti-communist footage, produced by the U.S. government during the McCarthy era, and designed to red-scare the bejeebers out of Americans. The Sarah Palin speech (see video at end of post) is a modern version of the same, just not yet whipped into the full frenzy that this sort of fearmongering ever-threatens to incite.  

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 7 YEARS?

In the wake of 9-11, the Bush Administration exploited our justifiable fear of terrorists to both squelch American dissent over their agenda, and to strong-arm Congress into approving all the legislation they enacted (e.g. the Patriot Act, FISA, extraordinary rendition and related torture laws), all of which were designed to sidestep both the spirit and letter of Constitutional law. Over the past 7 years this legislation has, word by word, dismantled our U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. These documents have yet to be restored to the former integrity they held for over two centuries. While these fundamental changes to our democracy affect each and every American, we’ve fortunately been spared, thus far, some of the worst outcomes potential to this legislation, even as this potential will continue to loom over us until our Constitution and Bill of Rights are restored to their pre-Bush Administration integrity. We’ve been fortunate. Some, such as Maher Arar have not been so fortunate: 

For more on this case, see the full Congressional hearing (1 hour, 28 minutes) on this case, held in October 2007, here, which includes Maher Arar’s testimony. Also, see footage here (7 minutes) from a related hearing, in which an outraged Sen. Patrick Leahy demands answers from Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales regarding the extraordinary rendition and torture-outsourcing in the Maher Arar case. 

  

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 1 DAY?

In the above video, Sarah Palin resurrects the ghosts of Salem and the McCarthy era, as she weaves a scary tale of lies to suggest that Obama’s tax plan will turn American into a nightmare communist state. Inherent to this accusation is a promise to carry the torch of the Bush-Cheney Administration’s legacy of fearmongering, persecution and lawlessness.  History bears this out: certain people in America live in a constant state of fear. All they need is someone to take the stage and tell them, exactly, what it is they’re so afraid of: Witches? Socialists? Blacks? Muslims? Communists? The McCain Palin campaign is telling them exactly what they want to hear. 

dem·a·gogue: One who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots — H.L. Mencken

  

WILL IT BE ONLY 9 DAYS?

Vote on November 4th. And do everything in your power to make sure that vote isn’t stolen from you. So much depends on this, with such a tremendous degree of voter fraud taking place by both Republicans and the Christian right. The extent of this fraud can only be known after the fact, when it’s too late to do anything about it.

11 Days ’til the Election: A Study in Contrasts

leave a comment »

A friend passed the following onto me yesterday. I added the Harry Truman quotes, not just because Gramps McCain fancies himself a Harry Truman incarnate, but because they seem applicable.

 _______________________

What folks were doing 11 days before the election….

 

Obama?  Visiting his grandma, of course.

Biden?  Going to the reddest parts of the country, the parts Democrats
aren’t supposed to even think about, let alone campaign in.
(http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/24/biden-makes-rare-appearance-in-w-va/?scp=2&sq=biden&st=cse)

McCain?  Begging.
(http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/24/dont-give-up-hope-mccain-tells-supporters/)

Palin?  Testifying.
(http://www.salon.com/wires/ap/2008/10/24/D940VJB80_palin_troopergate/index.html)

And Teddy Kennedy, who *should* be in bed resting after his surgery
and radiation?  Trying to save the American healthcare system.
(http://www.salon.com/wires/ap/2008/10/24/D940VRE01_kennedy_health_care/index.html)

It’s a nice study in contrasts, I think.

_________________________________________________

 

America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand. — Harry Truman

 

Written by canarypapers

October 25, 2008 at 1:33 pm