Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Klein, Krugman, and the "I told you so" Crowd

Naomi Kelin is complaining that the Most Holy Obamasiah has begun to reveal his true colors now that he has the nomination.
Now is the time to worry about Obama's Chicago Boys and their commitment to fending off serious attempts at regulation. It was in the two and a half months between winning the 1992 election and being sworn into office that Bill Clinton did a U-turn on the economy. He had campaigned promising to revise NAFTA, adding labor and environmental provisions and to invest in social programs. But two weeks before his inauguration, he met with then-Goldman Sachs chief Robert Rubin, who convinced him of the urgency of embracing austerity and more liberalization. Rubin told PBS, "President Clinton actually made the decision before he stepped into the Oval Office, during the transition, on what was a dramatic change in economic policy."

Furman, a leading disciple of Rubin, was chosen to head the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project, the think tank Rubin helped found to argue for reforming, rather than abandoning, the free-trade agenda. Add to that Goolsbee's February meeting with Canadian consulate officials, who left with the distinct impression that they had been instructed not to take Obama's anti-NAFTA campaigning seriously, and there is every reason for concern about a replay of 1993.

The irony is that there is absolutely no reason for this backsliding. The movement launched by Friedman, introduced by Ronald Reagan and entrenched under Clinton, faces a profound legitimacy crisis around the world. Nowhere is this more evident than at the University of Chicago itself. In mid-May, when university president Robert Zimmer announced the creation of a $200 million Milton Friedman Institute, an economic research center devoted to continuing and augmenting the Friedman legacy, a controversy erupted. More than 100 faculty members signed a letter of protest. "The effects of the neoliberal global order that has been put in place in recent decades, strongly buttressed by the Chicago School of Economics, have by no means been unequivocally positive," the letter states. "Many would argue that they have been negative for much of the world's population."

Thank God for the common sense of Paul Krugman, who bitch-slapped Klein's whining on his blog.

Obama didn't pose as a Nation-type progressive, then turn on his allies after the race was won. Throughout the campaign he was slightly less progressive than Hillary Clinton on domestic issues - and more than slightly on health care. If people like Ms. Klein are shocked, shocked that he isn't the candidate of their fantasies, they have nobody but themselves to blame.

Thank you, Professor Krugman! What would be so uproariously hilarious, if it weren't so painfully tragic, is that there are those of us who have warned the Obamabots time and again that he is a corporate-conservative fraud, a pretender to the mantle of progressivism. Mike Gravel said in a video-recorded interview early this year that the senator supposedly representing Illinois was spewing empty rhetoric designed to let followers read into it what they wanted.

You know, the statement I like that I've heard from young people: there's no 'there' there. And listen to the words. Make a speech and use the word change ten times-what specifically are you going to change? You're going to change the health care system? Not really. You're going to change the military-industrial complex? Not really. He wants another hundred thousand more troops. Are you going to change anything about your relationship with Iran? Not really. Nukes are on the table. Are you going to change anything with respect to Israel? Not really. He's supported by AIPAC. Are you going to change anything for education? He's on the education committee. He's supported by the NEA. Where's change? I don't see any change. But he doesn't say any of those things. He lets you figure out what the change is. So it's like an actor. What does an actor do? He gives you a scene, and you read into it what the scene means to you. And that's what he's doing. It's terrible, because what you read into it isn't what's going to happen, 'cause he's going to have the reality.

Writers from web sites ranging from Black Agenda Report to The Progressive have repeatedly tried to shine the harsh light of reality upon the fraudulence of the Obama campaign. We've been telling people this for a years and a half, give or take, and the only response from the Obamabots was to attack us and accuse us of being downers, or worse: Naderites! Horror of horrors! Now that the Most Holy Obamasiah doesn't need to suck up to the progressive bloc anymore in order to win the Democratic nomination to run for president, he's abandoning his pretense that he was anything but just another Rubin-Friedman school DLCer using us all in order to obtain power.

Klein's most ridiculous statement, by the way:
Now is the time to worry about Obama's Chicago Boys and their commitment to fending off serious attempts at regulation.
No, you blithering idiot, the time to worry was before the Iowa Caucus, and during the long primary season. That was the time to worry about what Obama is. It's far too late for you to start getting nervous about your demi-god.

Yes, we've warned and we've warned, but the Truth -- as usual -- fell on deaf ears. And now the Obamabots, having finally begun to sense that they've been manipulated, are complaining!? You skeevy little fuckers, you were told exactly what that fraud is. You got the candidate you wanted. Now you live with the consequences. We told you so.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

If you thought the primary season was ugly, you haven't seen anything yet.

Hillary Clinton has finally conceded in her fight to win the Democratic Party's nomination to run for president, but this means only that things are about to get really, really ugly. Trust me, this fight is about to go from being comparable to a train wreck to being comparable to the atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When the smoke finally clears, John McCain will be the new dictator and Barack Obama will be making a conciliatory concession speech.

The Republicans are gearing up to turn their well-worn political attack machine on the Most Holy Obamasiah, starting with his ties to Antoin Rezko. That scandal shall be the Illinois politician's Whitewater, guaranteed: if Evelyn Pringle can dig up this much dirt in her six-part exposé series on Obama, you can be damned sure the GOP can, and the Noise Machine will spare no expense to tie him to Chicago political corruption. Then, of course, there's Jeremiah Wright, the pastor thrown under the proverbial bus — twice — by the senator supposedly representing Illinois. Although his sermons, listened to in their full context, are in little danger of sparking a massive uproar against Black churches, they have been and shall continue to be exploited by the corporate media and the Republicans to maximum effect — irrevocably linking Obama to Black nationalism and extremism.

If those fail to adequately tarnish the Obamasiah enough to weaken him going into November, the Democratic candidate's own embrace of DLC politicking shall contribute to his downfall. Make no mistake: Obama is a DLCer; his job is not to actually win elections, but to ensure that progressives cannot organize into a cohesive, organized, and powerful political movement. Just remember back to the granny campaign run by John Kerry in 2004. If the senator supposedly representing Massachusetts had stood in support of even one progressive issue — and there were many to choose from — he would have won in a landslide and horrors of the the last four years might have been averted. There is no reason to believe Obama will be any different.

It's still possible that Obama will manage to win despite his eagerness to throw in the proverbial towel; McCain seems so hellbent on bending over for the far right that the evangelicals may begin to question his sexuality, and his stupid attempts to appeal to the Bush crowd make him look like he's just a shrub clone to a nation so weary of the original that it began its presidential race more than a year early. But let us not forget that the Republican Noise Machine is not finished yet.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Health Care Scam Revealed

I have an idea for a health insurance company, one that is sure to work really well. Here's the pitch:

You pay me a fee every month—say, between $500 and $1,000—and I pocket the money. In return, in the event you need someone to cover your medical expenses, I'll tell you in so many words to go fuck yourself, you're on your own. I'll use any excuse to deny your claim, and if one of my employees does the unthinkable and puts me in a position of having to shell out money to pay for your freeloading, I'll send that imbecile to join you on the unemployment line.

I might feel the occasional bout of generosity; I might deign to throw you the occasional bone, just to keep you complacent, and cover some minor thing. But don't expect me to pay for your heart operation. What were you doing wearing it out by making it beat so much, anyway? Don't you know that's a sure-fire way to end up needing surgery at some point? Especially if you don't take care of yourself by eating right and exercising regularly? And you can forget about that cancer treatment. Drugs cost money. Go buy your own. I'm busy counting.

By the way, you can forget about complaining. Even if you manage to get through the array of computers set up to discourage you from lodging a complaint, any human employee is going to give you the runaround, too. Raise too much of a ruckus, and I'll just cancel your policy. That'll show you, you ingrate.

And I won't stop there. Just in case some uppity customer decides this isn't legal, or shouldn't be, I'll use some of the money you pay me every month to bribe politicians in the form of campaign contributions to pass legislation protecting my right to bilk you for those monthly fees. Oh, sure, you might complain. You might even try to vote out corrupt politicians who accept my bribes, but by the time you get off your lazy ass I'll have bought pretty much everyone in D.C. and the fifty states who might be capable or inclined to resist. Let's face it: with campaigns costing more and more money each cycle, politicians listen to those who can fork over a hell of a lot more than that measly ten or twenty dollars you can afford to part with. You're screwed.

Great idea, right? Well, not for you, but we're talking about me. You don't factor into the equation, except as an ever-opening wallet. What's that? You don't think it's so hot a concept? You're right, it isn't. But that's exactly what you buy into whenever you sign up for insurance from companies ranging from Humana to Kaiser Permanente. The only difference between what I pitched to you, and what the health insurance industry tells you, is that I'm being up front about my intentions.

The health insurance industry is the among the biggest and most successful scam operations in the history of the United States. It is set up to get you to pay money in return for almost nothing. And because what little public health care exists is severely underfunded, and qualifications limited only to certain cross-sections of the poor and elderly, this means your options for alternatives are extremely limited. In fact, nearly fifty million Americans have no recourse but to go without insurance, because they cannot afford the premiums (I'm one of them, by the way).

How did all this get started? As Michael Moore pointed out in his excellent documentary, SiCKO (which I blogged about last year), the scam was created when the CEO of Kaiser Permanente at the time had his flunkies meet with then-president Richard Nixon to discuss how the insurance industry could kill two birds with one stone: kill what public health insurance existed, and ensure that it could never return, and become obscenely wealthy in the process. It wasn't long afterward that Nixon pushed through Congress legislation that would fundamentally alter the health care system of the United States—for the worse.

What Nixon and Kaiser rammed through Congress resulted in the creation of the HMO system we suffer today. It's the scam outfit that separates you from your money, while denying you coverage for your medical expenses. And you allow it to go on. Why is this? I could write a dissertation about it, but essentially it all boils down to fear and the dominance of the right in the media on issues such as health care. Professor George Lakoff of Berkley University described in 2005 how conservatives have come to shape and control the national discussion, and get Americans to vote against their own interests. The fear element involves scaring you with horror stories of socialism and the loss of freedom, never mind that you've already given up your freedom.

The problem is compounded not only by the failure of the Democratic Party to oppose this sort of swindle, but in its embrace of the status quo as a matter of policy. While Barack Obama builds up his illusion of progressivism, his actual history suggests he is not prepared to challenge the status quo at all, but merely is all too willing to continue it. Hillary Clinton joins him in being among the top recipients of bribe money from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. The two Democratic rivals for the presidency have even taken millions of dollars in bribe money from health professionals. And we all know where Republican John McCain stands on the issue of health care: more of the same.

This is the scam you pay for with your tax dollars, and the money you pay out of pocket. In my next entry, I'll tell you how you can do something about it.