Monday, November 28, 2011

Zombie Turkey, Reanimated

Holiday weekend news dump/controlled leak, While-you-were-cooking/eating/shopping/traveling edition: The respected, pro-single payer chief of Medicare and Medicaid Services suddenly tenders his resignation. At the same time, some "anonymous" Democrats let it be known that they are becoming fond of the previously-hated Paul Ryan turkey of a plan for privatizing Medicare after all. What a coincidence!

In a story buried in The New York Times on Thanksgiving Day, reporter Robert Pear revealed that:
"Though it reached no agreement, the special Congressional committee on deficit reduction built a case for major structural changes in Medicare that would limit the government’s open-ended financial commitment to the program, lawmakers and health policy experts say.
Members of both parties told the panel that Medicare should offer a fixed amount of money to each beneficiary to buy coverage from competing private plans, whose costs and benefits would be tightly regulated by the government."
Pear never does reveal the identities of the Secretive Democrats who claim that their plan is a kinder gentler version of Ryancare, which would ultimately have phased out Medicare entirely with prepaid vouchers for beneficiaries to obtain private health coverage. But one of them is Catfood Commission I member Alice Rivlin, whom Pear says is for transforming Medicare from straight single payer to a plan with a "public option."  In other words, the same plan for universal coverage that Candidate Obama pretended to espouse back in the day.  In other words, instead of forging ahead with Medicare for All as the majority of Americans prefer, these "unnamed Democrats" are forging ahead with at least the "semi-privatization" of the only single payer system we've ever had.  And you just know that once the parasitic insurers get their claws into these "Medicare improvements", it will only be a lobbyist's hop, skip and jump to full privatization. This leaked agenda should  probably be named the conserva-dems' "Stealth Health Plus."

I am surprised that we haven't heard more outrage from "progressive" Democratic lawmakers on this horror show of a zombie turkey carcass reanimation plan. Oh yeah.... they probably haven't heard about it yet.  They are still deep in their tryptophan comas. 

Meanwhile, also in keeping with the spirit of holiday news dumps, Dr. Donald Berwick is out of a job, without so much as a "heckuva job, Don" sendoff from President Obama.  Recess-appointed last year, Berwick evoked the wrath of Republicans, livid that this respected physician had publicly praised the (single payer) British Health Service. The resignation appears to be the final chapter in the latest installment of what "Confidence Men" author Ron Suskind credits former Economic Advisor Larry Summers with saying: that the White House policy is to be seen as "caught trying" -- in other words, the president states a policy, or names a progressive appointee, only to sit back and passive-aggressively watch as the rabid nihilistic Republicans conveniently eviscerate it/him/her. (The poster child for this de facto policy is, of course, Elizabeth Warren.) From another Times article by the ubiquitous Mr. Pear: 
"Mr. Obama said he would nominate Dr. Berwick’s principal deputy, Marilyn B. Tavenner, to succeed him as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Ms. Tavenner, the secretary of the Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources when Tim Kaine was governor, is more of a manager and less of a visionary than Dr. Berwick, who has been working for more than two decades to transform the health care system and raise the quality of care....
Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, an advocacy group, said that with Dr. Berwick’s resignation, the government was losing “a visionary leader, a champion for patients,” who knew how to improve care while reducing costs."
Oh well.... Obama atoned for abandoning yet another person who made the mistake of actually working for the public good. He pardoned not one, but two, turkeys this Thanksgiving. Why double the fun?  I have a few theories. One: the poultry duo symbolizes the bipartishit of the Oligarchy. Plus, like the prosecution-immune Wall Street bankers, turkeys are mean and somewhat stupid creatures. And even if you kill a mother turkey before her eggs are hatched, the chicks ("poults") won't care. They will mindlessly follow the first fat hen they see.

Poulitics as Usual


Suzan said...

Thanks for the insight, Karen.

You rock!


James F Traynor said...

I hope you're wrong Karen, but I fear not. The image of Bill, the bastard, Clinton commiserating with Ryan and finishing with "... call me." is burned into my brain. Why the MMM didn't glom onto this is beyond me, or is it what one might suspect - if one, or two, were incurably cynical. Christ, is there no end to Democratic perfidy?

Marina said...

I emailed Pear about this article, quoting from Krugman's blog about how much would be gained by taxing the gosh-darned rich instead of screwing over seniors (of which I'm almost one). I mentioned that the phrase "reining in costs" (as Pear wrote about Medicare) actually meant shifting costs to seniors, and that no costs were actually being reined in. Funny, I never heard back from him...

Jay - Ottawa said...

This kind of stuff will go on and on, one cut back after another, till the middle and lower classes are all mincemeat. Or minced turkey.

OWS must keep expanding, not so much geographically anymore, but in its numbers. As events are now unfolding the 99% continues to be gobbled up by the 1% -- at their leisure -- and with the across-the-board blessing of all branches of government.

It's not enough for only 1% of the new underclass (i.e., the OWS stalwarts out there in the street, or wherever they are resisting) of our great 99% to be facing down that 1% of the unyielding rich. Those are the real odds right now: about 1% actively committed to the OWS movement vs. that 1% called the oligarchy. Spare me the David & Goliath story. Zuccotti Park is not Tahrir Square.

It's not enough that the remaining 98% applaud OWS from the sidelines, then go about their business as usual. With respect to Adbuster's tame suggestion that we flex our muscle by not shopping on Black Friday, NPR reported that 152 million Americans were out there in the market elbowing their neighbors for bargains over the weekend after Thanksgiving. Why, that's half the US population!? The balance are too small to shop or confined to a nursing home.

The top 1% is -- big time, everyday -- killing us, maiming us, downsizing us, stripping away our savings, evicting us by the millions, and further weakening us by hollowing out agencies like Medicare. You may be resting easy on a high dune today, brothers and sisters, but check the tide charts.

Winning the top-down class war is going to take a lot more of the bottom rising up.

If you haven't seen it yet, check out this video for a no-holds-barred assessment of the danger faced by the 99% and an inkling of what it will take on the part of the 99% to place truth and justice back on top.

Forget government as a champion to set things right again, or even part ways right. It's not OWS protesters who should be dragged off to jail; it's the thieves the protesters are pointing at. We know who they are, even if Attorney General Eric Holder is getting wall-eyed looking the other way through the entirety of President Folksie's tenure.

Be sure to remind me why I'm not voting for Obama and his Dream Cabinet next November.

DreamsAmelia said...

Jay, your comments are worthy of a guest post, and give form to the revolting free-form anxiety aroused when learning of the stuffing hiding in the turkey that Karen unearthed for us. It's true, the biggest news is always Friday afternoons (that's when Wikileaks did its major dumps) and holidays.

Valerie, my uncle apparently feels none of the desperation I feel for him. He doesn't "check the tide charts," but in typical Texas Christian fundamentalist fashion, he assumes he'll be a youth pastor for his old church. I do not want condescend or deride my kinfolk, but I am just continually reminded of the polarization in our country, which does come close to rending our union.

The non-OWSers are legion--yes, they are the 150 million frenzied shoppers out there--and many, like my uncle, are committed to their beliefs that churches and charities can replace government all together, and can feed and clothe the needy with more sincerity than impersonal food stamps and housing vouchers. Minor detail as to who will maintain the roads, electricity, water, clean air, safe food---while also not contemplating what a huge "stimulus" or jobs bank the far-flung military outposts are providing.

So I can't escape my identity as a misanthrope or typical Eastern corridor liberal elite-- no matter how enthusiastically the blue states are blue, the red states are equally red, and both believe their methods alone will solve this wretched pit of despair of unemployment, homelessness, and starvation.

Another "60 minutes" tear-jerker this week about families living out of their cars/trucks in Florida, where 1/2 of all homeless kids in the entire U.S. live. Another shooting-yourselves-in-the-foot Red State, that rejected federal stimulus funds, growling stomachs of children be damned.

Yet, in this same country where, in the Civil War, a centralized currency of the Union won over an adamantly separatist south that did not want a Federal Reserve, and thus refused to ensure adequate liquidity of its confederate greenbacks--this same country that lived through such maddening intransigence, and believed it proved such separatism "wrong," also elected FDR 4 times--FDR, who was the most Keynesian, pro-stimulus, pro-government-to-help-people-eat-before-it-helps-oligarchies-become-more-mammoth president we have ever had in the intervening (and now painfully long), 80 years.

We are not totally stupid, but we have to half-kill ourselves with wrong-headedness before we come to our senses. That is my thesis of the story of the U.S., that can be applied to many critical junctures. As Jay says, though, it will take much larger OWS encampments before our next FDR arrives.....

Anne Lavoie said...


I don't think OWS needs to worry about numbers yet as much as it needs to inspire more participation from those who say they support the movement. OWS would prosper if all those armchair supporters we already have would get up off the couch and simply show up in person.

Some people think you have to camp in a public space to be an Occupier, but it's the brief but consistent weekend gatherings that convey the fact that this is not just a movement for students living in tents, but for everyone.

There is a small band of us Occupiers here in the Flathead Valley of Montana who drive miles to participate in our local Occupy, week after week for the past 2 months so far. An 86 year old consistently drives 20 miles one way, as do I, and brings a chair to sit on and her sign. We show up no matter the snow, rain, or freezing temps. She sits there by the road and a fellow Occupier brings a portable propane heater and places it near her. Another lady brings homemade cookies for this stalwart group.

After enjoying larger numbers in warmer weather, there is now a core group of about 25 of us who are dedicated to keeping the message and movement alive throughout our Montana winter. At our last gathering, we had a rousing reception from people driving by, much more frequently and enthusiastically than usual. Undoubtedly the UC Davis incident was the reason.

It is important for us all to feel connected, and this is one way to do that, not just with one another who are participating but with the public driving by. We diehards will keep the faith because we know we are part of something vital, true, and organic with a life and intelligence of its own making.

We've got a long way to go, but the first goal is to burst the bubble of illusion and awaken others from the American Dream, which is actually a nightmare. It's not surprising that people don't want to wake up. As T.S. Eliot said 'Humankind cannot bear very much reality'.

Will said...

Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank and he can rob the world.

Here's Alan Grayson on Countdown with Keith Olbermann discussing the sweetest of sweetheart deals: the bailout of Wall Street.

Valerie said...

Wow! GREAT comments, Jay, DreamsAmelia and Anne! Very inspiring!

I agree that the movement needs to grow. You are right, Anne, people need to understand that they don't need to camp out to be part of the Occupy Movement - or even stay the whole day for that matter.

Maybe - says she offering suggestions from Australia - you could have a couple of signs that say, "Join us in solidarity. Stand with us for a half hour or whatever time you can spare!" or something like that. I say this because I was involved in a local protest years ago and I remember a woman pulling her car over when she saw our signs and saying, "I have to be somewhere in an hour but I can protest with you for 45 minutes!" Think of how great it would be if everyone who could spare 15 minutes would just drop in and help! Not only would they learn and feel connected to the movement but they would increase the numbers of those protesting.

I give you a lot of credit for driving so far to take part, Anne. You are a TRUE patriot. And tell your 84 year old comrade and the cookie comrade that I send my good wishes across the miles from Occupy Adelaide.

My signs are ready, my daughter is ready! We just have to wait until another is scheduled! (Not as much urgency in a country with universal health care and a great safety net.) But don’t doubt it, Australia is in the mess as the rest of the world – Australians just haven’t woken up to that fact yet. The same corporations are colluding with the same type of government officials and the same government agencies are giving the same polluting, multi-national corporations a pass. The same tired old arguments that we NEED these polluting, non-Australian owned monoliths that take our natural resources paying pennies on the dollar and ship them overseas claim they are creating jobs and are the key investments for superannuation (state retirement).

Anne Lavoie said...


Lucky you, being in Australia where it is summer. Ahhhh.

Unlucky you, being in Australia, the staging area for the Empire's future War Against China. Hopefully something/someone will avert that disaster.