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11.16 Scotland was first Industrialized Country to Run wholly on Wind in October

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 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...]

11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks

11.14 Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, Youth Climate Activists Arrested in Pelosi's Office Demanding Democrats Embrace 'Green New Deal'

11.13 What would a smog-free city look like?

11.13 Global report highlights Australia’s renewables potential amid mixed signals for coal

11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

11.12  This Land is Your Land:  The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.12 Planned Parenthood's new president warns of 'state of emergency' for women's health

11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]

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11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]

11.16 Trump’s latest interview shows a president who’s in way over his head

11.16 Why the political fight in Georgia is far from over

11.16 Florida judge sides with Democrats, giving thousands a second chance to fix their ballots

11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]

11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]

11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]

11.15 Big Oil v the planet is the fight of our lives. Democrats must choose a side

11.14 The Real Florida Recount Fraud

11.14 Telling NRA #ThisIsOurLane, Doctors' Photos Show Blood-Soaked Reality of America's Gun Madness

11.14 At Freshman Orientation, Young and Growing Progressive Caucus Makes Clear It Will 'Fight Like Hell' for Bold Democratic Agenda

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11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]

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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.]

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.]

11.14 Brexit: May tells her cabinet, this is the deal – now back me

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11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]

11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]

11.14 Israel and Hamas launch hundreds of attacks in Gaza clash

11.14 Mueller seeking more details on Nigel Farage, key Russia inquiry target says

11.13 Austin's Fix for Homelessness: Tiny Houses, and Lots of Neighbors

11.13 Portugal Dared to Cast Aside Austerity. It’s Having a Major Revival.

11.13 Caravan marks one month on the road: ‘We keep on going, laughing or crying’

11.13 Letter Shows Einstein’s Prescient Concerns About ‘Dark Times’ in Germany

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  Democrats Won a Health Care Battle--But Are Losing the War
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OBITUARY?

Democrats Won a Health Care Battle—But Are Losing the War

Continuing to spend double per capita compared to industrialized nations is NOT okay!

by James Ridgeway
First published in his blog Unsilent Generation last Saturday, 7 November 2009

Health care ought to have nothing to do with profits. It should be a basic human right in a civilized society. But that’s precisely the kind of statement the Democrats are unwilling to make—so they end up saying nothing at all.

On the House floor Saturday night, Nancy Pelosi managed to muster enough votes to pass a health reform bill, in what’s being widely celebrated as a great victory for the Democrats. (Pelosi herself has even compared it with the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935 and the Medicare Act in 1965.) But while Republicans may have lost this battle, they continue to take their shots in what’s clearly a larger war. Lindsay Graham has already pronounced the bill “dead on arrival” in the Senate. And in the House, as the debate wore on, one after another, GOP members of Congress rose to denounce the Democratic health care plan as a socialistic plot that will lead to government-run medicine and bankrupt the country. While they were at it, many also took the opportunity to blame Democratic policymaking for the rising unemployment figures and the continuing recession.

It’s the height of gall, of course, for Republicans to lay any of our economic woes at the feet of the current administration. The frenzy of deregulation and speculation that have left a reported 10 percent of Americans without jobs (and in reality, closer to twice that figure) can be traced directly to conservative policies, which got a leg-up during the Clinton years and flourished under Bush. So why can’t the Democrats seem to fight back? In part, perhaps, because they aren’t willing to engage in the kind of all-out, brazen, incendiary lying that’s become commonplace within the GOP. But there are other reasons, as well.

I know the prevailing opinon among the mainstream punditocracy is that Obama is in trouble because he is trying to do too much, too fast. I think it’s the other way around. There’s no doubt that the president faces tough opposition, much of it fueled by the kind of ignorance and racism that nearly impossible to quell. But they still do, after all, control a majority, both in Congress and among the American public. What makes Democrats most vulnerable to conservative attacks is the fact that they have no compelling message of their own to offer—and nothing to match the soaring rhetoric of the Obama campaign. Instead, they tiptoe cautiously down the middle of the road, and wonder why no one feels terribly inspired to follow them.

Take their health care legislation. When Obama addressed the Democratic caucus on the Hill this morning, they reportedly responded with “scattered chants of ‘Fired up, ready to go.” But fired up is exactly what reform supporters are not. There’s nothing in the bill to inspire any fervor on the left that could rival the tea parties. In fact, Republicans are partly right when they say that it won’t do much of anything but run up the deficit. The reason for this is not, as they claim, because it’s a socialistic big-government plot to take over the private medical system; the reason is that it isn’t any of those things–not by a long shot. The Democratic legislation is a costly, futile mess precisely because it refuses to rein in the industries that have been ripping off the American public year after year.

Obama and the Democrats have no real vision for a transformed health care system, so they’ve gone for a slightly modified version of business as usual. They’ve cut backroom deals that win a few meager concessions toward the public good, while at the same time ensuring the profits of the insurance companies, Big Pharma, and other health care profiteers by maintaining their basic control of the health care system and rewarding them with bigger assured markets and more and more money. (To make matters worse, at the last minute they also cut a deal with anti-choice members of their own party that will further undermine women’s access what was, when I last checked, still a legal medical procedure.) In other words, they’re doing what Democrats have done since at least the Clinton years–acting like kinder, gentler Republicans, rather than like the defenders of the common people.

A whole lot of Americans don’t like the current health care system, and a whole lot more hate insurance companies. The Democrats might have been able to translate that into some sort of populist support for real change. Instead, they dithered and compromised, and failed to invoke any compelling ideology. Health care ought to have nothing to do with profits. It should be a basic human right in a civilized society. But that’s precisely the kind of statement the Democrats are unwilling to make—so they end up saying nothing at all.

Likewise, the Obama White House has yet to take any strong, principled action against the forces responsible for wrecking the economy. And how could it, since it is staffed by the old Clinton economic team that set the financial debacle in motion a decade ago? At the root of the economic mess was the decision to rip down Glass-Steagall, the law that separated Wall Street from commercial banking. One of the men at the center of that endeavor was Larry Summers. And having been a prime cause of the recession, where is Larry Summers today? Ensconsed in the White House, running the Obama economic program.

There was a time, shortly after Obama took office, when a rising populist rage at Wall Street greed might have been harnassed to fuel some genuinely meaningful regulatory action. Instead, with men like Summers and Tim Geithner at the helm, we’ve seen Wall Street recover while Main Street continues to suffer. We’ve seen a large portion of the stimulus funds chanelled through the private sector, where they’ve yet to trickle down to the people who need help most. Obama says his goal is for every American who wants a job to have one. So why not start creating government-funded jobs, as FDR did in the early years of the Depression? Why not launch federal projects to create a new green energy industry, instead of waiting for the energy monopolies to come up with a way of making a killing off it?

Obama was elected because people took him seriously when he said sought real change. So why won’t he take bold action on any of these fronts? Is it because if he did, the Republicans would abandon him and crush his dream of bipartisanship? Or because he doesn’t want the Democratic party to lose electoral ground among the so-called swing voters? Or because he’s afraid of being branded a crazy maniacal socialist? Oh, wait—all those things have happened already. So what does the president have to lose? If he’s going to be called a radical when he’s acting like a timid moderate, why not be a little more radical (or mildly progressive, even) in service of the public good? Then he might actually bring about some change we could believe in.


Born in 1936, James Ridgeway has been reporting on politics for more than 45 years. He is currently Senior Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones, and recently wrote a blog on the 2008 presidential election for the Guardian online. He previously served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice; wrote for Ramparts and The New Republic; and founded and edited two independent newsletters, Hard Times and The Elements.

Ridgeway is the author of 16 books, including The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11, It’s All for Sale: The Control of Global Resources, and Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture. He co-directed a companion film to Blood in the Face and a second documentary film, Feed, and has co-produced web videos for GuardianFilms.

Additional information and samples of James Ridgeway’s work can be found on his web site, http://jamesridgeway.net.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on November 9, 2009.
 



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