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Health Care & Environment
11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]
11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]
11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder
11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]
11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]
11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]
11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]
11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]
11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]
11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
International & Futurism
11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]
11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
INFANTILE REPUBLICAN BEHAVIOR:
Obama, They Want You to FailOriginally published 29 June 2009
After last year’s elections, a Democratic operative told me that if the Democrats got to 59 seats in the Senate, it would be easy to peel off one or two Republicans to pass key legislation like serious health care reform. I was left wondering what political planet he'd been living on for the past three decades.
For almost as long as I’ve been in Washington (I arrived for the Associated Press in 1977) it has worked the other way. Even when the Republicans appear to be on the defensive and outnumbered, they band together and vote as a bloc, while Democrats bend over backwards to be “bipartisan.”
This dynamic has continued into Barack Obama’s presidency as he and the Democrats have watered down their proposals with the hope of winning over a few Republican votes so they can claim they achieved some bipartisanship, even if it means passing bills that are half-hearted half-measures.
That process dominated the debate over the $787 billion stimulus bill that the Democrats diluted with Republican tax cuts and shrank in size despite warnings from top economists that the package would fall far short of the needed boost in jobs, a bleak prediction that now appears to be coming true as unemployment climbs toward 10 percent.
In exchange for the weaker stimulus bill, the Democrats got three Republican votes in the Senate and none in the House. (The Republicans then drove one of those GOP senators, Arlen Specter, out of the party, though Specter still won’t count himself as a reliable Democratic vote.)
The pattern of belligerent Republicans and timid Democrats is now repeating itself on health-care reform. Democrats first excluded from the debate the one measure that probably could save significant money – a single-payer system – and they now appear poised to trade away Obama’s proposal for a “public option” to possibly garner a couple of Republican votes.
Though enacting a public option is favored by nearly three-quarters of the American people – and has the potential of at least saving some money by pressuring private insurers to rein in costs – Democrats are so entranced by the siren song of bipartisanship that they appear on the verge of scuttling it.
The fundamental flaw in Hillary Clinton's complex scheme was that it tried too hard not to harm the insurance industry.
In doing so, the Democrats could well recreate the worst mistake of Hillary Clinton’s failed health insurance plan of 1994. The fundamental flaw in her complex scheme was that it tried so hard not to harm the insurance industry that it wasn’t clear how it would make matters any better – and the industry still torpedoed it with a misleading public relations campaign.
if the nation is really going to address its health care crisis, there will have to be some financial losers.
Today, the Obama administration and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus have been so proud of getting all the players to sit down at the table (with the exception of single-payer advocates who were excluded) that they have lost track of the hard reality that if the nation is really going to address its health care crisis, there will have to be some financial losers.
Right now, the losers are the tens of millions of uninsured and under-insured Americans, the doctors and nurses who are appalled at the cruelty of the U.S. medical system, and the U.S. businesses that pay for their employees’ health insurance and thus are put at an economic disadvantage to their foreign competitors operating in countries that have single-payer systems.
Helping the Industry
For the status quo to change significantly, the private health insurance companies and other parts of the medical industrial complex must be compelled to extract savings from their bureaucratic waste and excess profits. To do that would require, at minimum, a robust “public option” that forces a revamping of the private health insurance business model.
Not surprisingly, the health insurance industry doesn’t want to undergo such a transformation, so its lobbyists have leaned on the Republicans and a handful of “centrist” Democrats to either kill the “public option” or in Baucus’s phrase “sculpt” it into something that doesn’t threaten the industry.
That’s where Sen. Kent Conrad’s scheme of setting up “cooperatives” comes in. The North Dakota Democrat has proposed building from scratch a network of non-profit “cooperatives” that would lack both the size for administrative savings and the bargaining power to negotiate lower prices.
While a public option could piggyback on the Medicare bureaucracy to maximize savings and have the advantage of simplicity, the emerging Baucus-Conrad scheme would add an array of cooperatives to the already confusing mix of insurance plans. For many Americans, these new entities won’t present an appealing alternative to private insurance.
If such a “compromise” emerges, a few Republicans might vote yes; the industry would be happy; and the Obama administration could have a “bipartisan” signing ceremony.
But the American people might find themselves left out of the celebration. The federal government might even compel the uninsured – under penalty of fines – to sign up with an existing insurance company whether they feel they can afford it or not. Mandated coverage could mean a big windfall for the insurance industry, pushing nearly 50 million new customers into its arms.
Eventually, however, the reality would sink in that very little had improved. Millions of Americans would understand that Washington protected the interests of a cold-hearted industry rather than fashion a health-insurance plan that would do the people much good. With that realization, many Americans would blame Obama and the Democrats.
On the other hand, if Obama demanded a public option and insisted on the support of his party, the dynamic might go very differently. If the Democrats assembled 59 votes for a strong plan – even if Republicans continue their obstruction of Al Franken’s Senate election in Minnesota – that could turn the tables on “centrist” Republicans who would have to decide which side to take.
To get the Democrats to behave in such a disciplined and serious fashion, however, might require a backbone or brain transplant for many of them. But it’s way past time for the Democrats to recognize that their obsession with bipartisanship is unrequited.
The Republicans have a very different agenda. Indeed, with the continuing pratfalls of their supposedly top-tier candidates – like South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s Argentine holiday with his mistress – they have only one genuine hope for the future of their party: President Obama must fail and the Democrats must take the blame.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.
This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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This story was published on June 29, 2009.