August 31, 2009

5 Ways to Build a Fascist-Proof America

The events of the past month have ruffled feathers of progressives and folks in the center – the sideshows that took place outside town hall meetings earlier in the month have largely died down as the media and the public have picked up on the fact that these campaigns have less to do with truth and more to do with distraction and furor; but the toll they’ve taken on the actual political debate around health care is palpable, and many progressive lawmakers are stepping back from some of their promises and desires around health care just to keep from making those people angry.

Personally, I would say that if there’s a cause in this lifetime worth NOT getting re-elected for, it’s quality health care for every man, woman, and child in America. If I were a blue dog Democrat, I would be all about this being my line in the sand; it’s infinitely defensible. As much as the opposition wants to make this about lies like these non-existent “death panels” and of non-existent health care for illegal immigrants (which isn’t in any proposal or bill on the table) and as much as they want to make this about “socialism” and “naxi-ism,” both of which not only have nothing to do with this debate but the discussion of which is repulsive and proves these people need a history lesson, it’s about none of those things really.

These are labels the frantic opposition have applied to this; these are excuses that have been drilled into the heads of people without healthcare who somehow believe quality health care for all will somehow be a bad thing. But the real trend here is much more troubling: the possibility that these masses can be so easily whipped up into a fascist stir that they can easily be manipulated at any turn, much less an important one.

Sara Robinson, writing for The Campaign for America’s Future, is worried about that possibility, and so am I. So she has some tips for ways we can capitalize on this teachable moment and make sure that this pot isn’t stirred again. Here’s the core of the problem:

How in the hell did we get here? And more to the point: How do we get back out?

The first question is depressingly easy. This is precisely where 40 years wandering in the right-wing moral, cultural and economic wilderness has left us — and, in fact, where it was always intended to lead us.

A liberal democratic society is a complex system that’s designed to be very resilient and self-correcting in the face of all kinds of extremism. But the health of that system — especially its natural immunity to would-be attackers — ultimately depends on just one factor: It cannot survive without people’s ongoing confidence in a functioning political contract.

When it’s working right, this contract guarantees the upper classes predictable, reliable wealth in return for their investments. It promises the middle class mobility, comfort and security. It ensures the working classes fair reward for fair work, chances to move ahead and protection against very real risk that they’ll be forced into poverty if they can’t work any more.

Generally, as long as everybody gets their piece of this constantly renegotiated deal, everybody stays invested in keeping the system going — and a democratic society will remain upright, healthy and moving mostly forward.

For the past four decades, conservatives have done everything in their power to dismantle that essential contract, and thus destroy our mutual confidence in the fundamental agreements that allow any democratic system to function. (None dare call it treason — but a solid case could be made.)

But on to the how do we get back out? Sara explains that what’s been missing from public discourse is the clear and concise understanding that this social and political contract is not only essential, it’s persistence benefits everyone in our national community – and that it is just that, a community of countrymen whose mutual success is only as strong as our desire to be mutually successful. But how to rebuild that contract and the trust that comes with it?

Her suggestions: bolster education, restore the rule of law and equal treatment under it, pass comprehensive health care legislation that gives every American access to quality health care, bolster our institutions of thought and knowledge, and close the inequality gap.

Sounds good to me. Where do we start?

[ 5 Ways to Build a Fascist-Proof America ]
Source: AlterNet

Stop The Teabaggers, Give Them Green Jobs

If there’s anything behind these people at these so-called “tea parties” (as a student of accurate history, it’s unnerving to me to watch these people pervert the intention of the original tea parties – not that they were particularly selfless and honorable in and of themselves) it’s a seed of ignorance wrapped in a warm, cushy bed of despair and pessimism about the way their lives are going. Ignorance can only thrive in the absence of hope and knowledge – so the longer these people see their lives and livlihoods in a negative light, the more they’ll resist the medicine required to bring them out of it.

The solution, writes Mike Elk, for The Campaign for America’s Future, is to deliver to the people who need the most the green and new energy economy jobs that are coming with renewables and domestically produced sources of energy. Now is obviously the time to invest in domestic energy sources and renewables, and while the economic downturn has made the cost of oil and other imported fuel sources relatively cheap compared to their highs when we were all complaining about them, just because it’s not on the radar right now doesn’t mean it’s not a good time to push for it.

It really is a win-win: the American economy will be investing in its own infrastructure, in skilled jobs that can’t be outsourced, the environment benefits from a focus on renewable energy sources instead of highly pollutant fossil fuels and so-called “clean coal,” and the people benefit from the jobs that will be created. If that’s not a good use of my tax dollars, I don’t know what is. (oh yeah, health care for everyone, but we already know how I feel about that.)

Mike points at a classic case study: West Virginia.

Clearly, West Virginians would prefer jobs that didn’t destroy their communities and health, but are forced into coal mining because few other jobs exist. As a result, West Virginians desperately fear losing these jobs. The fossil fuel lobby exploits this fear to kill investments in clean energy jobs.The industry uses events like the upcoming free concert called “Friends of America” hosted by Sean Hannity, which has press materials implicitly attacking clean energy legislation, hysterically warning, “we must keep these [coal mining] jobs from being regulated out of existence”.

These industries always say that regulating them will cost jobs – even when it is proven that jobs will be created. This is because they have created a situation where people are hanging on by a thread, paid so little that they desperately cling to what they have and other people are starving in front of them.

The ability of these AstroTurf groups to mobilize people fearing the loss of their jobs led to the dramatic weakening of the Waxman-Markey climate bill and quite possibly health care. We often make fun of teabaggers showing up at town halls, but fail to realize that the reason they are motivated to rebel against change because all change has ever meant to them is job loss and the destruction of their communities.

At the very beginning of the article, Mike points out a statistic that I find fascinating. That the wind industry in the United States employs just over 85,000 people, whereas the coal mining industry in the US employs just over 81,000. That’s right – wind is already bigger – at least in terms of employment – than coal. So why does coal have so much leverage when it’s clear that wind has the potential to be the bigger energy powerhouse?

The answer lies in lobbying and old money: coal interests have had their fingers in politics for years, and renewable energy industries are just now getting into the game. Here’s hoping they step up with some facts soon; renewables are the future, there’s no doubt – but not just for the planet; for our economy as well.

[ Stop The Teabaggers, Give Them Green Jobs: Lessons From the Coalfields of West Virginia ]
Source: AlterNet

August 24, 2009

Republicans, Religion and the Triumph of Unreason

How can you dislike an article that leads off with this:

How do they train themselves to be so impervious to reality?

Something strange has happened in America in the nine months since Barack Obama was elected. It has best been summarised by the comedian Bill Maher: “The Democrats have moved to the right, and the Republicans have moved to a mental hospital.”

The election of Obama – a black man with an anti-conservative message – as a successor to George W. Bush has scrambled the core American right’s view of their country. In their gut, they saw the US as a white-skinned, right-wing nation forever shaped like Sarah Palin.

When this image was repudiated by a majority of Americans in a massive landslide, it simply didn’t compute. How could this have happened? How could the cry of “Drill, baby, drill” have been beaten by a supposedly big government black guy? So a streak that has always been there in the American right’s world-view – to deny reality, and argue against a demonic phantasm of their own creation – has swollen. Now it is all they can see.

It’s absolutely true, and in the wings of that mental hospital, we have gun-toting protesters trying to stifle democracy outside of town-hall sessions, militias shooting targets draped with photos of the President in Idaho and eastern Oregon, and ignorant astroturfers who need history lessons comparing everyone who doesn’t agree with them on anything to Nazis.

How did it get this way? Johann Hari, wriging for The Independent UK, tries to answer the question of how the party that claimed the high-ground in elections during the Clinton Administration by making promises to the American people that sounded good at the time but ultimately they couldn’t deliver, completely lost their way and their minds:

Since Obama’s rise, the US right has been skipping frantically from one fantasy to another, like a person in the throes of a mental breakdown. It started when they claimed he was a secret Muslim, and – at the same time – that he was a member of a black nationalist church that hated white people. Then, once these arguments were rejected and Obama won, they began to argue that he was born in Kenya and secretly smuggled into the United States as a baby, and the Hawaiian authorities conspired to fake his US birth certificate. So he is ineligible to rule and the office of President should pass to… the Republican runner-up, John McCain.

These aren’t fringe phenomena: a Research 200 poll found that a majority of Republicans and Southerners say Obama wasn’t born in the US, or aren’t sure. A steady steam of Republican congressmen have been jabbering that Obama has “questions to answer”. No amount of hard evidence – here’s his birth certificate, here’s a picture of his mother heavily pregnant in Hawaii, here’s the announcement of his birth in the local Hawaiian paper – can pierce this conviction.

This trend has reached its apotheosis this summer with the Republican Party now claiming en masse that Obama wants to set up “death panels” to euthanise the old and disabled. Yes: Sarah Palin really has claimed – with a straight face – that Barack Obama wants to kill her baby.

You have to admire the audacity of the right. Here’s what’s actually happening. The US is the only major industrialised country that does not provide regular healthcare to all its citizens. Instead, they are required to provide for themselves – and 50 million people can’t afford the insurance. As a result, 18,000 US citizens die every year needlessly, because they can’t access the care they require. That’s equivalent to six 9/11s, every year, year on year. Yet the Republicans have accused the Democrats who are trying to stop all this death by extending healthcare of being “killers” – and they have successfully managed to put them on the defensive.

The Republicans want to defend the existing system, not least because they are given massive sums of money by the private medical firms who benefit from the deadly status quo. But they can’t do so honestly: some 70 per cent of Americans say it is “immoral” to retain a medical system that doesn’t cover all citizens. So they have to invent lies to make any life-saving extension of healthcare sound depraved.

Well said. Harri dives deeper into the health care issue and exposes the right-wing lies for just what they are – unfounded, made up, and completely baseless designed entirely to do what Republicans do best: foster fear, uncertainty, and doubt. It’s the same way they manage to get elected – making the people fear someone: whether it’s Black people, brown people from across the sea with different beliefs and explosives, the stock market, or so-called “big government,” it’s all they know how to do – they’ve never been able to fix problems; they just know how to make more of them and oppose solutions.

For many of the people at the top of the party, this is merely cynical manipulation. One of Bush’s former advisers, David Kuo, has said the President and Karl Rove would mock evangelicals as “nuts” as soon as they left the Oval Office. But the ordinary Republican base believe this stuff. They are being tricked into opposing their own interests through false fears and invented demons. Last week, one of the Republicans sent to disrupt a healthcare town hall started a fight and was injured – and then complained he had no health insurance. I didn’t laugh; I wanted to weep.

How do they train themselves to be so impervious to reality? It begins, I suspect, with religion. They are taught from a young age that it is good to have “faith” – which is, by definition, a belief without any evidence to back it up. You don’t have “faith” that Australia exists, or that fire burns: you have evidence. You only need “faith” to believe the untrue or unprovable. Indeed, they are taught that faith is the highest aspiration and most noble cause. Is it any surprise this then percolates into their political views? Faith-based thinking spreads and contaminates the rational.

Yes people, these people describe themselves as the Republican “base.” Their aim is no less than the complete disintegration of the system of freedoms and liberties that we hold dear, with an autocratic system of religion-based privileged mob-rule in its place. They want the state to own you when their morality dictates it, and cast you aside when their wallets dictate it. Make no mistake.

[ Republicans, Religion and the Triumph of Unreason ]
Source: The Independent UK

Bush White House Pushed to Raise Terror Alerts on Eve of Re-election: Tom Ridge

Well it finally comes out, doesn’t it? The fact that we all essentially predicted for years and assumed was the case has finally come to light, and I somehow highly doubt that people within the Bush Administration will let this slide, but considering the source, I think we’re all but pretty solid on its validity:

Former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is releasing a book on September 1 titled, The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege … And How We Can Be Safe Again. U.S. News’ Paul Bedard reports that, in the book, Ridge reveals that he considered resigning because he was urged to issue a politically-motivated security alert on the eve of Bush’s re-election:

Among the headlines promoted by publisher Thomas Dunne Books: Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was “blindsided” by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush’s re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.

Like many other observers, I have to admit, I’m not terribly surprised by this announcement. But I am impressed who the admission came from – the man at the top during the time. Sad, but true, and par for the course for the Bush Administration. Remember how far we’ve come when you’re nitpicking at Obama for little things – I’m not saying don’t nitpick, I’m not saying don’t call Obama out for the things he needs to be called out on, but just take a moment, fellow progressives, to understand exactly how far we’ve come.

[ Bush White House Pushed to Raise Terror Alerts on Eve of Re-election: Tom Ridge ]

Obama Versus the Angry White Men

Even at the height of the protests during the Bush Administration, when people carried signs, worse masks, and stood chanting outside the White House, we didn’t have the kind of violent, angry mob-mentality like we do now, apparently. These are men with masks on carrying assault rifles outside of gatherings where the President is speaking, that’s how arrogant these people are. It’s downright frightening, and considering that the Obama White House has to run down more than twice the number of death threats against the President than the Bush Administration had to, and you have an idea who’s out there behind all of this: that’s right, angry white men who still can’t come to terms with the fact that the leader of their nation doesn’t look or think like they do.

On Monday, two men were spotted carrying semi-automatic weapons outside the venue where President Barack Obama delivered his latest speech on healthcare reform. When asked why he stationed himself at the meeting with a gun, one of the men replied: “Because I can do it. In Arizona I still have some freedoms.” These sightings add to a disturbing pattern of extremist gestures signalling disgust with the president, including a protester in Maryland holding up a sign that read “Death to Obama” and “Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids”, and overtly racist vandalism and hate mail at the office of Georgia congressman David Scott.

These are not people to be reasoned with, these are people who are obviously a danger to themselves, the community, and national security, and these are the same people we were all afraid of during the campaign: the people who would rather pull a trigger on a gun aimed at the President than put their weapon back in their gun cabinet and sit down as a table to discuss the issues in front of Americans – these are the “pry it from my cold dead hands” people, and while I don’t entirely mean to single out their fanaticism for guns, it seems to be one of the forefront issues they feel threatened by. Guns aren’t the end of the game for them – it’s actually more of a strawman – these people are just full of ignorance and hate, and no amount of reasonable discussion will keep them from calling up right-wing talk radio to offer words of support for hatred.

In a recent piece published in the Observer, Michael Crowley argues that the extremism manifest in angry mobs and armed men at Obama’s town hall meetings represents the latest phase in the evolution of the Angry White Male in American politics. According to Crowley, this political archetype was coined in the 1990s, when white men who voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 stormed to the Republican ticket for the 1994 midterm elections. During the Obama era, the angry white man appeared as Joe the Plumber during the presidential campaign, cried foul at the appointment of Sonya Sotomayor to the US supreme court and accused Obama of racism after his comments about the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates, all prior to the recent incidents surrounding the healthcare debate.

Crowley does well to connect the dots between previous invocations of politicised anger and those that exist today. But it is important to recognise that the intensity of the rage we are currently witnessing differs from that of previous eras because of Obama’s race. In the worst cases, conscious feelings of fear and threat that push discontented citizens toward unabashed anger are intensified by underlying feelings of threat and disgust at the notion that anyone other than a white male stands as the embodiment and representative of the nation.

But there is hope, presumably:

We must not lump protesters with drastically different predilections for extremism into the same undignified caricature. But if a phenomenon along the lines of the angry white man is to blame, Crowley argues that the best way to defeat these culture warriors is to resurrect the economy and destroy the anger at its roots – economic structures, rather than cultural pathologies. While economic recovery is indispensable for Obama’s success, progressives would be wise not to ignore opportunities to seize on cultural issues and reclaim the moral high ground on multiple political terrains.

I think that’s optimistic at best. Even if these people live the high life thanks to an economic recovery, had all the work they could ask for, and had a health care system that took care of them and their families, these same angry white men would still find a way to attribute the success of the nation to themselves simply because they believe everything good appears in their own image, and everything bad looks like someone else. That being said, while it’s optimistic, it’s a goal to be aimed for, at the very least.

[ Obama Versus the Angry White Men ]
Source: AlterNet

August 17, 2009

The Brutal Truth About America’s Healthcare

Every time Americans march toward a health care system where everyone is covered and protected, conservatives come out of the closet and not only lie about how horrible it would be that every man, woman, and child could seek quality medical care when they needed it, but they go so far as to malign the health care systems of our neighbors and allies – the ones that are functioning in a remakably better state than our own. Usually they look north and whine about the Canadian system, and trot out someone who had to wait for a procedure and is still mad about it to decry the system that covers them, and then send them home where they eventually get the procedure and live a happy life. In the United States, if that person were a US citizen, they’d never been seen, never be treated, unless they had expensive insurance and were consistently employed – oh, and if they had no pre-existing conditions that would allow an insurance company to deny their claims and force them into bankruptcy for whatever treatment it may have been.

But this time the wingnuts have turned their attention to Britain’s National Health Service, a beloved institution in the UK that even conservative politicians there wouldn’t dare to touch or cut funding from, else they’d be committing political suicide. The NHS is so beloved in the UK that when they heard one of their politicians (a Tory, by the way) on Fox News in the US decrying it, they were so up in arms that entire campaigns have been waged in the UK telling right-wing politicians in the US to stand down, leave their health care system alone, and go back to mistreating their own citizens (as those of us in the reality-based community know the conservatives here in the US are so good at).

One volley in that campaign came in the form of an article in the Independent UK exposing exactly how bad it can be here in the states, describing in gory detail one scene in Inglewood, California when people lined up in the thousands with the hope of seeing health care professionals – some of them for the first time in years, some of them for the first time ever, all of whom are sick – in some cases dying – because the people standing outside of town halls carrying nazi insignia would rather pay for bombs to end lives in foreign lands than for doctors to save them at home.

They came in their thousands, queuing through the night to secure one of the coveted wristbands offering entry into a strange parallel universe where medical care is a free and basic right and not an expensive luxury. Some of these Americans had walked miles simply to have their blood pressure checked, some had slept in their cars in the hope of getting an eye-test or a mammogram, others had brought their children for immunisations that could end up saving their life.

In the week that Britain’s National Health Service was held aloft by Republicans as an “evil and Orwellian” example of everything that is wrong with free healthcare, these extraordinary scenes in Inglewood, California yesterday provided a sobering reminder of exactly why President Barack Obama is trying to reform the US system.

The LA Forum, the arena that once hosted sell-out Madonna concerts, has been transformed – for eight days only – into a vast field hospital. In America, the offer of free healthcare is so rare, that news of the magical medical kingdom spread rapidly and long lines of prospective patients snaked around the venue for the chance of getting everyday treatments that many British people take for granted.

That’s pretty scathing, but it gets much much worse:

In the first two days, more than 1,500 men, women and children received free treatments worth $503,000 (£304,000). Thirty dentists pulled 471 teeth; 320 people were given standard issue spectacles; 80 had mammograms; dozens more had acupuncture, or saw kidney specialists. By the time the makeshift medical centre leaves town on Tuesday, staff expect to have dispensed $2m worth of treatments to 10,000 patients.

The gritty district of Inglewood lies just a few miles from the palm-lined streets of Beverly Hills and the bright lights of Hollywood, but is a world away. And the residents who had flocked for the free medical care, courtesy of mobile charity Remote Area Medical, bore testament to the human cost of the healthcare mess that President Obama is attempting to fix.

Christine Smith arrived at 3am in the hope of seeing a dentist for the first time since she turned 18. That was almost eight years ago. Her need is obvious and pressing: 17 of her teeth are rotten; some have large visible holes in them. She is living in constant pain and has been unable to eat solid food for several years.

“I had a gastric bypass in 2002, but it went wrong, and stomach acid began rotting my teeth. I’ve had several jobs since, but none with medical insurance, so I’ve not been able to see a dentist to get it fixed,” she told The Independent. “I’ve not been able to chew food for as long as I can remember. I’ve been living on soup, and noodles, and blending meals in a food mixer. I’m in constant pain. Normally, it would cost $5,000 to fix it. So if I have to wait a week to get treated for free, I’ll do it. This will change my life.”

Along the hall, Liz Cruise was one of scores of people waiting for a free eye exam. She works for a major supermarket chain but can’t afford the $200 a month that would be deducted from her salary for insurance. “It’s a simple choice: pay my rent, or pay my healthcare. What am I supposed to do?” she asked. “I’m one of the working poor: people who do work but can’t afford healthcare and are ineligible for any free healthcare or assistance. I can’t remember the last time I saw a doctor.”

Although the Americans spend more on medicine than any nation on earth, there are an estimated 50 million with no health insurance at all.

So, conservatives, what’s the alternative? Leave these people to rot?

The British have a saying about us: in Europe, a man walks by a poor person on the street and says “There but for the grace of God go I.” In the United States, a man walks by a poor person on the street and looks at them with disgust, shouting “Get a job and off my tax dollars, you bum!”

[ The Brutal Truth About America’s Healthcare ]
Source: The Independent UK

Report: Militia Activity on the Rise in US

This is what the Department of Homeland Security has been talking about for months – something that conservative pundits complained and whined about when DHS’s studies were initially published – that the wingnut crazies out in the hills of Idaho and eastern Washington and Oregon are out there planning their cross-burning exercises and swapping lies about the negro in Washington wanting to take their guns away – and the worst part? They’re arming themselves, buying more guns, more bullets, and convincing their neighbors that someone’s out to get them somehow – and because times are hard for everyone, what do you do when the only news source you have is a right-wing talk radio show essentially parroting all of those things back to you and telling you it’s a good idea to go blow up an abortion clinic? Well, you form a lynch mob and train in the woods the same way the Taliban trained in the desert.

That’s right – the connection is clear and obvious – extremism is extremism, no matter what shores it’s found on, and the Southern Poverty Law Center is reporting that right-wing fundamental extremism is on the rise in America. Why? I have some theories, but they’re not very nice, frankly – it really comes down to a conservative/libertarian disease-like mindset that all but induces paranoia in Americans who think they’ve worked their lives to get where they are but in reality have been privileged since birth, and are utterly afraid of their responsibility as citizens in a civil society. Back this up with a lack of education, narrow world-view, and consistently being surrounded by people of similar background and level of education, and you have an environment ripe for self-absorbed militancy.

Right-wing militia groups are on the rise in the United States after nearly a decade of obscurity, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors hate groups and extremist activity.

The report, released Wednesday, warns of “unmistakable signs of a revival of what in the 1990s was commonly called the militia movement.”

Militia rhetoric is being heard widely once more, often from a second generation of ideologues, and conspiracy theories are being energetically revived or invented anew. “Paper terrorism” — the use of property liens, bogus legal documents and “citizens’ grand juries” to attack enemies and, sometimes, reap illegal fortunes — is again proliferating, to the point where the government has set up special efforts to rein in so-called “tax defiers” and to track threats against judges….

Militia training events, huge numbers of which are now viewable on YouTube videos, are spreading. One federal agency estimates that 50 new militia training groups have sprung up in less than two years. Sales of guns and ammunition have skyrocketed amid fears of new gun control laws, much as they did in the 1990s.

That’s frightening. Every time I hear about this kind of behavior, it makes me want to arm myself – but I know for a fact that this is exactly what these people want; they’re looking for a conflict, picking a fight with people who differ from them. And because that fight can never be on equal terms just because of their innate privilege, it’s a battle best won by never having to fight it.

[ Report: Militia Activity on the Rise in US ]
Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Why You Should Boycott Whole Foods

I’ve been known to go a bit easy on Whole Foods – since I’m a pretty big believer in incrimental progress, I tend to think that some progress in a dirty market – even if it’s slight and I don’t always side with it – is good progress and paves the way to better things. Unfortunately, time and time again Whole Foods comes out and proves to me that for as much as they’re cuddly and progressive on the surface, and even so several layers deep, there’s always that rotting core at the middle working against the interests of the people who hand over their money-and I do mean hand over fist-to keep them lodged in the market they essentially dominate.

That rotting center? CEO John Mackey.

Writing for Counterpunch, Russell Mokhiber calls Mackey out for who he is – something I’m sure he’s proud of, but something I’m sure his customers wouldn’t be terribly happy to know:

John Mackey is a right wing libertarian.

He’s a union buster.

He believes that corporations should not be criminally prosecuted for their crimes.

He has just launched a campaign to defeat a single payer national health insurance system.

And he’s the CEO of Whole Foods.

He continues:

That’s why, today, we are calling on all American citizens to boycott Whole Foods.

Why?

Because Mackey has launched a public campaign to defeat single payer national health insurance.

This despite the bottom line reality that single payer is the only way to both control health care costs and cover everyone.

As Dr. Marcia Angell says in today’s New York Times, “if you keep health care in the hands of for-profit companies, you can increase coverage by putting more money into the system, or control costs by decreasing coverage. But you cannot do both unless you change the basic structure of the system.”

Mackey leads his Wall Street Journal diatribe against national health insurance with a quote from one of his heroines – Margaret Thatcher: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

And the problem with Mackey’s campaign is that it results in the deaths of 60 Americans every day due to lack of health insurance.

Mackey is responsible for these deaths as much as anyone.

Whether single-payer becomes a reality or not, and it’s looking depressingly more and more like it won’t – at least this time around – Mackey can’t be allowed to stand uncorrected for spreading this nonsense. Calling progressive policies as “socialism” and danging it in front of the American public as a scare-word as if it were remotely true is a tactic that the progressive camp has let the libertarians and conservatives get away with for far too long.

[ Boycott Whole Foods ]
Source: Counterpunch

Top Five Health Care Reform Lies—and How to Fight Back

I’m not normally a fan of talking points, or republishing them for that matter, but I really had to do something about the nonsense that’s going on out front of these town hall meetings as of late, and if it takes talking points to fight talking points, then so be it.

As Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) so gloriously said:

“Now folks will say that’s not true, but I’ve got facts on my side and you’ve got Glenn Beck on your side.”

That should put that to rest:

Lie #1: President Obama wants to euthanize your grandma!!!

The truth: These accusations—of “death panels” and forced euthanasia—are, of course, flatly untrue. As an article from the Associated Press puts it: “No ‘death panel’ in health care bill.”4 What’s the real deal? Reform legislation includes a provision, supported by the AARP, to offer senior citizens access to a professional medical counselor who will provide them with information on preparing a living will and other issues facing older Americans.5

Lie #2: Democrats are going to outlaw private insurance and force you into a government plan!!!

The truth: With reform, choices will increase, not decrease. Obama’s reform plans will create a health insurance exchange, a one-stop shopping marketplace for affordable, high-quality insurance options.6 Included in the exchange is the public health insurance option—a nationwide plan with a broad network of providers—that will operate alongside private insurance companies, injecting competition into the market to drive quality up and costs down.7

If you’re happy with your coverage and doctors, you can keep them.8 But the new public plan will expand choices to millions of businesses or individuals who choose to opt into it, including many who simply can’t afford health care now.

Lie #3: President Obama wants to implement Soviet-style rationing!!!

The truth: Health care reform will expand access to high-quality health insurance, and give individuals, families, and businesses more choices for coverage. Right now, big corporations decide whether to give you coverage, what doctors you get to see, and whether a particular procedure or medicine is covered—that is rationed care. And a big part of reform is to stop that.

Health care reform will do away with some of the most nefarious aspects of this rationing: discrimination for pre-existing conditions, insurers that cancel coverage when you get sick, gender discrimination, and lifetime and yearly limits on coverage.9 And outside of that, as noted above, reform will increase insurance options, not force anyone into a rationed situation.

Lie #4: Obama is secretly plotting to cut senior citizens’ Medicare benefits!!!

The truth: Health care reform plans will not reduce Medicare benefits.10 Reform includes savings from Medicare that are unrelated to patient care—in fact, the savings comes from cutting billions of dollars in overpayments to insurance companies and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.11

Lie #5: Obama’s health care plan will bankrupt America!!!

The truth: We need health care reform now in order to prevent bankruptcy—to control spiraling costs that affect individuals, families, small businesses, and the American economy.

Right now, we spend more than $2 trillion dollars a year on health care.12 The average family premium is projected to rise to over $22,000 in the next decade13—and each year, nearly a million people face bankruptcy because of medical expenses.14 Reform, with an affordable, high-quality public option that can spur competition, is necessary to bring down skyrocketing costs. Also, President Obama’s reform plans would be fully paid for over 10 years and not add a penny to the deficit.15

We’re closer to real health care reform than we’ve ever been—and the next few weeks will decide whether it happens. We need to make sure the truth about health care reform is spread far and wide to combat right wing lies.

[ Top Five Health Care Reform Lies—and How to Fight Back ]
Source: MoveOn.org

August 10, 2009

The Far Left Side: Why The Public Option Sucks

far left side - why the public option sucks

I simply couldn’t resist. Click here for the original version, courtesy of The Far Left Side.