Politics: December 2009 Archives

cover of Tom Tomorrow's "The Future's So Bright I Can't Bear to Look"

Just kill it. Put it out of [our] misery, now.

It's been both appalling and nationally embarrassing to watch the healthcare "debate" turn out to have been a flimflam all along. We've been punked. Let's admit it.

In a speech he gave to the AFL-CIO in 2003 [link includes video] Obama said:

I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And thatís what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And thatís what Iíd like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.

Regardless of whether he was actually sincere at the time, in his statements since being elected he's moved from single payer to the red herring, "public option" to something like, "yeah, well, whatever", as long as he can pretend it's "change".

Today, the health care industry is not only back in charge, it's on top, and if anything like either of the bills currently alive in Congress manages to pass, it will have made out like bandits. It's what it does; it's all about money, and it's what its investors demand, but it's not what the people asked for, not what they need, and it's not what why they voted for a Democratic President and a strong Democratic majority in both houses.

Howard Dean begins his Washington Post op-ed piece of today:

If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current health-care bill. Any measure that expands private insurers' monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform. Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health-care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these.

"Health care" simply cannot be about the health of corporations and investors (there are alternative careers and earning sources, even if their numbers are shrinking as Health care assumes an ever larger share of the American GDP). We've been plugging away at real reform for almost a century now, battling greed and its fictions about socialism throughout. Simply nothing works better for everyone than single payer, and that's a fact.

[image via Cover Browser]


I've taken some liberty with David Sirota's phrasing in the title of his blog post today, but I'm totally with his meaning, having pounded on that wall myself two days ago.

After discussing and then easily dismissing alternative explanations for Obama's decision to extend and expand our eight-year-long military effort to subdue or occupy Afghanistan, and before asking the question contained in his headline, Sirota poses and answers his own question about the President's Afghan "surge":

Is it really worth putting 100,000 Americans at risk for the next few years exclusively to protect the political image of a president? More specifically, is it worth putting those 100,000 American lives on the line so that President Obama can fulfill the media and political establishment's artificial definition of "strength"?

I certainly don't think so, and I think it's an almost unprecedented level of immorality [my emphases].

[this is the first post in a very, very long time for which I have not uploaded some image, either my own or that of someone else, which I would credit within these brackets; this time I felt that the subject itself was too obscene, its implications to graphic, to be captioned with anything so direct, and yet so particular, as a picture, and I thought no image could match the imagination of the reader]

minaret and church tower in Wangen bei Olten, in the northern Swiss canton of Solothurn

Tell me again: Why is this a problem?

[image from AFP, via Spiegel]

Max Ernst Europe After the Rain II 1940-1942 oil on canvas 21.5" x 58.25"

It's what we do.

For a while, I actually had hope he might do the right thing, although I realize now I had no reason to think so. Consequently, when the news finally came it made me physically sick: There will be more war, much more war. And the reason we're being given? Because we're at war.

Does he think we're all fools? Are we?

It was entirely fake: The endless reports over the past four months which had some of us believing that Obama was agonizing about what to do with the war in Afghanistan. I don't believe he ever intended to end this nation's disastrous, and possibly fatal, misadventures in Afghanistan (and where will we go next?), and there's no reason to believe he ever considered anything other than the mindless policy of escalation General McChrystal ordered his faint-hearted commander to undertake four months ago. The fact that it took Obama so long to order tens of thousands of additional troops to join one more Western fools mission in the Middle East does not reflect intelligence, judgment or compassion, only cowardice, not least since the order was given even before the grand public announcement he will deliver at West Point tonight, that sacred heart of the military establishment (shades of Bush - but what is this President afraid of?).

I wrote here about my distrust of our newly-elected President over a year ago. Eventually my skepticism grew into disgust, and I wrote about Obama's disastrous record as President, listing dozens of the promised, anticipated or implied reforms that were to come with the new administration but which were not accomplished. I stopped counting the "un-change" months ago, and I've seen nothing that might alter my opinion of our President's incompetence, or wrongheadedness (I'm not sure which it is).

I think the latest and best assessment of our Chief Executive, now as a public officer who has failed the crucial test of a Commander-in-Chief, is contained in this awesome piece by Michael Brenner.

The first and last paragraphs are:

The sham Afghanistan strategic review is now revealed for the empty exercise it always was. Escalation was inescapable, for Obama's staunch promotion of a 'necessary war' precluded a serious reappraisal of stakes and risks. Reversing himself would have demanded the kind of courage that is wholly foreign to him. So we are left with an open-ended commitment to an unwinnable war. That outcome speaks volumes about the failings of Obama as a leader as much as his impaired judgment.

. . . .

The country is ill served by a president who fails to meet his responsibility for the rigorous, open debate on matters of great consequence that he pledged and that is imperative for avoiding more dismal failure. What is the value of a 150 I.Q. when bereft of wisdom or conviction to guide it? Obama's audacity in pursuing his ambition is one thing; political and intellectual courage is quite another.

Bob Herbert's column in today's Times explains why weak politicians can't be trusted when they talk (publicly) about war.

[painting from the Wadsworth Atheneum collection; image from different.com]

This page is an archive of entries in the Politics category from December 2009.

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