Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SOTU, Barackus?

"One place to start is serious financial reform. Look, I am not interested in punishing banks, I'm interested in protecting our economy. A strong, healthy financial market makes it possible for businesses to access credit and create new jobs. It channels the savings of families into investments that raise incomes. But that can only happen if we guard against the same recklessness that nearly brought down our entire economy". -- Barack Obama

Okay, okay -- that was from last year's STFU, pre-Occupy edition.  How he pretends that things have changed, because now the president has directed Attorney General Eric Holder to whip up a financial crimes unit to punish the banks.  As former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer told Keith Olbermann Tuesday night, there are already dozens and scores of financial crime units floating in the ozone. This may be either a lot of empty rhetoric, or it may be a way to appease/co-opt the state attorneys general who are refusing to go along with that sweetheart deal I wrote about in a previous post. Time will tell.

He also suggested a ban on Congressional insider trading, which was met by thunderous silence from the millionaire congress critters. And his much-touted big applause line: "No bailouts, no handouts, no copouts" did not evince so much as one hand clapping. 

I was disgracefully way off the mark in my prediction that Obama would utter the word "folks" two dozen times. He only used it twice -- once when he referred to millionaire folks like himself, and the other about the poor slob brand of folks on Main Street. I should have known he would never refer to Congress as folks.

Other than that, the main phrase was "built to last". I counted five times. I just couldn't get the Ford truck commercial out of my head for the whole damned speech.

And did he really say he would still work with Republicans to reform (code for cut) Medicare and Social Security?  Are you kidding me?

And to give us a preview of his bellicose chest-thumping campaign theme, he began and ended the speech with the celebration of the assassination of Osama.

All in all, a totally predictable orgy of self-celebration by the political subdivision of the criminal oligarchy.


Jay - Ottawa said...

The Buffet Rule. New SWAT teams to swat the bad guys on Wall Street. Maybe he told Congresswoman Gifford in the long hug that he was going to swat the NRA. The class war thing, too, only now he's coming over to our side of the barricades. The Obama of 2008 is BACK!!!

Heh, heh, heh, heh.

Can the Obama of 2009 be far behind?

Keara said...

You're so right, of course, Karen. I had the sound turned off through most of it (the only way I can tolerate most political orgies), but my immediate reaction to the body language, every time I glanced up at him from my laptop was, "This guy doesn't believe a thing he's saying." And "This man doesn't care about anything."

Fred Drumlevitch said...

I only had time for the very beginning of Obama’s State of the Union speech. Among his opening remarks, what really offended me was his statement that “We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world.”

On what planet does he reside? What has he been smoking? Or is he just one more example of a politician standing before his audience and, with unmitigated gall, delivering that blend of self-serving and flattering lies that has become a major component of contemporary politics?

Whatever the background of this particular Obama falsehood, I found it particularly offensive that he would declare that our military actions have made the U.S. “more respected around the world” on a day when a U.S. military court would release with absolutely no prison time the leader of a U.S. Marine squad that in 2005 massacred 24 civilian men, women, and children in Haditha, Iraq — a war crime within the even broader war crime of a war of choice by the U.S. against a country that posed no threat to us.

Only in the logic of politics can war crimes be converted into delusions of respect.

barbara madeloni said...

Great title! You are a genius.

And the morning press tells us that he is on our side, so we dutifully decide, yes, Obama good. And the Republicans play their sinister role perfectly so that oh my-we have no choice!

Fascinating while sickening, the play of language to deceive. We will protect the middle class but put social security on the table. No more teaching to the test, but we will measure your worth and your pay check by tests. And yes, what our schools. so deprived of resources that teachers in one PA community are working without pay, need are more competition for dwindling resources. And, hey, if you don't win the competition you had a fair shot dude!

And how is it that so many fall to the glorification of war, the support of death without trial, the on-going militarization of our culture?

When I consider how profound the deception is, and how deeply rooted the neo-liberal ideology, I am more convinced then ever that we need to speak back to this every moment that we have a chance, to name the ideology, those who act within it, and how it is destroying our communities at the micro and macro level. See something-say something.

peace and justice,

Denis Neville said...

Karen’s summary: “All in all, a totally predictable orgy of self-celebration by the political subdivision of the criminal oligarchy.”

A noun, a verb, and Osama bin Laden…

Barack Obama’s State of the Union, first 100 words:

Barack Obama’s State of the Union, last 343 words:

“Osama bin Laden: “I am Alpha and Omega”

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. (Revelation 22:13)

“Help us Mitch Daniels, you’re our only hope”

“Right to Work,” “Right to Beg,” “Right to Starve,” anti-worker, anti-union Mitch Daniels?

Mitch Daniels? Seriously?

"May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." – George Carlin

James F Traynor said...

And that, my dear Karen, is exactly why I didn't listen to his speech. He is the lesser of disasters that will occur next November as the empire continues its decline. And he, given our situation, is definitely a disaster.

Denis Neville said...

More Obama

“You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country. That means women should earn equal pay for equal work. It means we should support everyone who’s willing to work; and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.”

How does having more capitalist empires like Apple help in uplifting the 99%?

The irony of Obama elevating Apple founder and CEO Jobs, known for outsourcing manufacturing jobs to China, to divine status.

No mention of the things Steve Jobs actually did.

Mr. Jobs’s magic has its costs…our Dickensian iPhones and iPads…"Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory," Mike Daisey travels to China to investigate the factories where millions toil to make iPhones and iPads and shines a light on our love affair with our devices and the human cost of creating them.

“I spoke with a man whose right hand was permanently curled into a claw from being smashed in a metal press at Foxconn, where he worked assembling Apple laptops and iPads. I showed him my iPad, and he gasped because he’d never seen one turned on. He stroked the screen and marveled at the icons sliding back and forth, the Apple attention to detail in every pixel. He told my translator, “It’s a kind of magic.”

“Mr. Jobs’s magic has its costs…in the end [he] failed to “think different,” in the deepest way, about the human needs of both his users and his workers.” - Mike Daisey, “Against Nostalgia,” NY Times, 10/06/11

Jay - Ottawa said it, “The Obama of 2008 is BACK!!! Heh, heh, heh, heh. Can the Obama of 2009 be far behind?”

DreamsAmelia said...

The deafening non-applause was indeed amazing to behold--amplified by the camera panning to the stolid-faced--the price of admission was worth it to see Tim Geithner's face when O announced he'd force the banks to re-finance underwater homes for "good" borrowers and give them a $3,000 tax credit (paid for elsewhere in the budget, he was quick to note)--Timmy looked like he'd been threatened with being dangled in a bungee harness and swung like a pendulum above the OWS crowd for 24 hours. Maybe "we could all get along" if we were given the chance for such high-jinks street theatre--you could buy an egg, proceeds to go to paying down the deficit, and if it hit him, your contribution would be doubled! Put LOL-yd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, and a few other unsuspecting streeters up there, and we'd have the national debt paid down in no time at a party where OWS, Tea Party, and the adamantly apathetic could all revel and vent.

I get nervous hearing the "clean energy" rhetoric. The inescapable truth is humans are just devouring land and habitat at a breathless pace--it is only in our dreams that our energy uses are clean--even "clean" wind, which seems to have an unfortunate side effect of slicing birds to death like guillotines. When you have to wed the word "natural" to the source, like "gas" your b.s. detector should be going off big time--The NY Times over the last year has had scores of articles chronicling the dirty pressuring tactics the fracking industry used on PA landowners, who realized too late that they would be left forever with pools of waste on their farms, while Pittsburgh water is full of radioactive waste. For O to say this can be done "cleanly" is as naive as those countries who keep letting their nuclear waste pile up, calling nuclear "green."
At Chernobyl today, per the Federation of American Scientists:
"If the sarcophagus were to collapse due to decay or geologic disturbance, the resulting radioactive dust storm would cause an international catastrophe on par with or worse than the 1986 accident. Antropov’s colleagues periodically run a sprinkler-like dust-suppression system within the sarcophagus, but this only slightly lessens the risk." (To this day, Germany rejects wild game because it is contaminated by eating radioactive mushrooms). You're looking at a time frame of 100,000 years to deal with Chernobyl waste, while politicians universally can't see past their noses, whether we use clothespins on ours, or not.

Denis Neville said...

Better to have him inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in…

Apparently, NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is to co-chair Obama’s new Unit on Mortgage Origination and Securitization Abuses. The unit will not supersede the efforts already underway by the Department of Justice. Instead, it will operate as part of the president’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The unit will be co-chaired by Lanny Breuer, who along with AG Eric Holder, hails from a Washington law firm that has deep ties to the financial services industry.

Yves Smith @ Naked Capitalism asks, “Is NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman selling out?”

“So we are supposed to believe that a group, ex Schneiderman, that has been remarkably complacent, will suddenly get religion on the mortgage front because they are all in a room and Schneiderman is a co-chair?”

“It would appear big aim of setting up this committee…is to create disarray among the dissenting AGs. This looks to be yet another clever Obama gambit to neutralize his opposition.”

Classic Obama, the violin model: hold power with his left hand, and play the music with his right hand; what Christopher Hitchens called the essence of American politics,the manipulation of populism by elitism.”

Denis Neville said...

Looking for evidence…

“We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world.” – Obama, SOTU

Ralph Nader’s response to the State of the Union address:

“I think his lawless militarism, that started the speech and ended the speech, was truly astonishing. I mean, he was very committed to projecting the American empire, in Obama terms, force projection in the Pacific, and distorting the whole process of how he explains Iraq and Afghanistan. He talks about Libya and Syria, and then went into the military alliance with Israel and didn’t talk about the peace process or the plight of the Palestinians, who are being so repressed. Leaving Iraq as if it was a victory? Iraq has been destroyed: massive refugees, over a million Iraqis dead, contaminated environment, collapsing infrastructure, sectarian warfare. He should be ashamed of himself that he tries to drape our soldiers, who were sent on lawless military missions to kill and die in those countries, unconstitutional wars that violate Geneva conventions and international law and federal statutes, and drape them as if they’ve come back from Iwo Jima or Normandy. So I think it was very, very poor taste to start and end with this kind of massive militarism and the Obama empire.”

Since most of Obama’s militarism takes place in the Arab world, let’s look for evidence of that claimed “respect” in Arab opinions of both the U.S. and our foreign policies.

“With the 2008 election of Barack Obama, favorable attitudes toward the U.S. more than doubled in many Arab countries. But in the two years since his famous “Cairo speech,” ratings for both the U.S. and the President have spiraled downwards. The President is seen overwhelmingly as failing to meet the expectations set during his speech, and the vast majority of those surveyed disagree with U.S policies.

“In five out of the six countries surveyed, the U.S. was viewed less favorably than Turkey, China, France—or Iran. Far from seeing the U.S. as a leader in the post-Arab Spring environment, the countries surveyed viewed “U.S. interference in the Arab world” as the greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East, second only to the continued Palestinian occupation.”

“American democracy seems a lot like damaged goods to many Arabs. U.S. policy in the region has increasingly undermined Arab attitudes toward America as a global model.” - James Zogby, “Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us, and Why it Matters”

Anne Lavoie said...

Democrats worry that we might risk getting a Republican President if we don't vote for Obama, as if there is a big difference.

What I find truly shocking and disgusting is that Obama himself is willing to risk losing to a Republican rather than quit the lying, sugarcoated, dreamy, political bullshit and speak the truth about what is really going on in our country, ala Bill Moyers, Chris Hedges, Ralph Nader and others.

Since he is partners in crime with financial and war profiteering criminals, what else can we expect from the Assassinator-in-Chief?

I have to read his speeches because I can't stomach looking at his lying face or hearing his lying voice. I don't know how all you 'folks' can do it!

Zee said...

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis why did we not see a veritable conga line of investment bankers, insurance company executives, subprime mortgage lenders, along with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac directors—and their Congressional defenders, e.g., Barney Frank and Maxine Waters—dancing their way into court and—one could hope—thence on to prison?

Because Barack Obama—who has stocked his Cabinet chock full of Wall Streeters—is just as much in the pocket of the financial industry as the rest of our insider-trading Congresscritters.

If we could send Ken Lay, Bernie Ebbers, Leonard Kozlowski and many others to prison for accounting fraud, why did we not at least seek indictments of those behind the 2008 crisis?

Barack Obama punish the banks—or anyone else-- NOW ? Hah!

Valerie said...

Obama appointing Schneiderman to his Unit on Mortgage Origination Securitisation Abuses reminds me of what I heard said about the Iceland banking crisis; regulators who were good at their jobs and effective at fighting the banking abuses were hired away by the banking industry to work for them.

This is just another blow to the Middle Class.

As for Obama and his speeches - It used to be we had a press that would expose the lies of the politicians, now they go unchallenged. So many who only read the mainstream press accept lies as truth. That can be the only explanation as to why anyone is voting for Obama other than those in big business who are profiting from his policies.

Bill Moyers was right to get all up in arms about the consolidation of the media - it really was a turning point for democracy in America. By capturing the media, it gave the plutocracy the power to disseminate their propaganda unchallenged. And an ignorant, manipulated public can be convinced that their vote counts and won’t question the false choices put before them, let alone demand a real candidate. Combined with Citizens United and now the NDAA, the goose of the American Middle Class is pretty much cooked. Our only hope is the Occupy Movement - but as Chris Hedges has pointed out, it is for that group that the NDAA has been designed.

Denis Neville said...

Obama channels Ronald Reagan…

Remember when Obama was for single-payer universal health care?

When Obama was running for the Senate in 2003, he said that he was a proponent of single-payer. In 2008, running for President, he said, “If I were starting from scratch, I’d be for single-payer universal health care.”

That was then, and this is now.

Obama's SOTU speech had just 44 words on health reform, which included this swipe at universal single-payer health care, “I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more. That’s why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a Government program.”

Denis Neville said...

Obama Version .08 and Obama Version .12 - Promises and Forgotten promises.

David Swanson, Dissident Voice, “Obama Version .08 was a horrible, horrible candidate, and yet he made dozens of promises that have been tossed aside, making him now even worse — unless one chooses to accept as credible the same promises again.”

“None of this is to suggest that the Republicans can’t nominate someone even worse than the actual Obama. Of course, they can and will. The point is to recognize that focusing activist energy on elections should not come at the expense of the real work of building a movement to change this country. Making the rational lesser-evil choice every four years and failing to focus on real work for nonviolent radical change consistently presents us four years later with two choices who are both worse than last time. And those choices are, each time, candidates for a more powerful, more tyrannical office.”

Will said...

@James & @Anne,
I'm with you guys. I'm at the point where I can only stomach Obama when he sings Al Green. Barely. Thanks again, Karen, for doing the dirty work for us.

You're so right, our goose IS cooked. I knew TPTB weren't going to just politely take their boots off our necks without a fight. I'm not THAT naive. But I never would've dreamed something as blatantly unconstitutional as the NDAA would be their response. Occupy is truly our last chance. What a nightmare, huh?

James Singer said...

The problem, of course, is the House. Without a Progressive majority in the House, the President and the Senate will continue to masturbate and call it governance.

Anne Lavoie said...

The only thing worse than Obama's speeches are the NYT comments. Wow, have they gone downhill lately. They all sound alike with very little individuality coming through, yet so many bland comments get high recommends, probably through their links with friends through Facebook and Twitter.

I've decided that if/when I read any comments at all, it will be those relating to news rather than opinions, and I will definitely avoid political pieces about any of the candidates because they all turn out to be Obama cheerleading.

There used to be more of variety of opinions which were colorful and unique in their expression, but not anymore. I'm glad I'm not wasting any money on them, but I have been wasting time. Not anymore.

Karen Garcia said...

You are right about the times op-ed comment section. It is highly, highly partisan. If you criticize the administration, Obamabots immediately spring up from the veal pen to inform you that your rhetoric translates into hatred of the president and signals a desire for a Newt Gingrich presidency, and that you just hold your nose and stop rabble rousing. I have never seen anything like it, and it's just gonna get worse. A lot of the comments seem to be coming from OFA -- the talking points are straight out of the campaign field manual.

The Times has a pretty good editorial casting doubt on Obama's financial crimes unit. Here is my comment:

Exactly right. Eric Schneiderman, the big hold-out to a sweetheart deal with the banks over the foreclosure fraud scandal, may just have been co-opted by the Obama Administration in order to speed a settlement. Schneiderman and a few other AGs, including Joe Biden's son Beau of Delaware, were balking at the easy terms,which would extract monetary relief for victims from pension funds rather than from the banks themselves. The personal funds and the bonuses of CEOs wouldn't be touched. Nobody would have to admit anything. There would be no criminal penalty for the epidemic fraud which still continues.

If the Justice Dept strikes a deal now with the banks, before the promised "investigations" even get underway, we'll know for certain that we've been sold out once again. The president's rhetoric sounds good, but it's the action that counts. This looks like just another Obama ploy to neutralize resistance from within his own party. He said himself at the SOTU that he wants to turn the page on the mortgage mess. Translation: make bad publicity for him go away before Election Day. The only question still remaining is whether Schneiderman is a sell-out too.

Campaign season or no campaign season, horrific Republican alternatives or not, we have to continue holding this president's feet to the fire. Giving him a pass just because he's a Democrat up for re-election would constitute a dereliction of our duty as participants in what little is still left of our democracy.

James F Traynor said...

And while we all worry about what is happening to us financially, the world is inexorably heading towards environmental crises that will make the economic chicanery of the banks and Wall Street seem no more than a mosquito bite. I speak as a professional when I say this. Not as an environmentalist or an academic, but someone who has mucked about gathering data in both terrestrial and aquatic systems, working for a state bureaucracy, and, as a consultant, for both local governments and developers. We're in deep, deep shit.

Kat said...

Ah! Once again I decide to preview my comment and it disappears into the ether. I will try again (lucky you!)
Anne, the comments posted to the many articles on Obama's speech were dispiriting. To think, after three years that anyone believes anything this man says! Well, scratch that-- I believe he will be giving more "tax relief" and easing the "regulatory burden" of business (way to frame the debate my Democratic leader btw!). Oh and I do believe it when he says "all options are on the table" when it comes to Iran.
I was someone heartened by responses to Friedman's "Average is Over" claptrap. (God save us if this is expanded into book form. He seems pretty pleased with this nonsensical phrase) and Nicholas Kristof's latest swipe at labor unions (seems to be a theme although he did take a break from the theme to praise bankers). Lord save us from these wolves in sheeps' clothing peddling Clintonian crap. That includes our leader.
Great headline, Karen! And the reference to last Years "STFU" made me laugh.

Neil said...

Obama’s message of hope sounds familiar, but unlike 2008 I am not buying this time. What did George Bush say, fool me once….

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." —President George W. Bush, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

DreamsAmelia said...

@Anne and Karen--It is ominous indeed that the Times chose Karen as the outermost branch of the "disaffected left" while excising the likes of Phil in the Mountains of Kyushu, Kate Madison, Gemli and all the others who felt safe to speak because the range of opinion was so wide. Losing the "disaffected" people defines Karen as "the radical," and keeps the range of debate as tame as a kitten. Democracy starts, first and foremost, in our imaginations and speech and language. Karen has a lifetime of knowing when and how to push the journalistic envelope, whereas others of us don't have the grace or common sense to know when we're starting to sound batshit crazy--and THOSE are the comments we loved!

How little did I know how lucky I was to catch the tail-end of watching everyone's "freak flag fly" just as I was coming of age in the late 70s and early 80s. The tax resisters, the boycotts of G.E., the socialist newspapers all freely distributed at huge rallies for peace and justice on our national mall--vanished, and not seeming to ever be coming back in my lifetime (The Citizen's United Turns Two protest was so tiny I can't bring myself to mention it. Then Amelia deleted the couple of photos I had).

And now, wild expression gone dim in the comment streams. Few recommend the few comments I make anymore, so I'm ready to give up as the rest did. Sigh. Nose to the grind, bland conformity of thought is part and parcel of a country that destroyed its main street in every village and hamlet and replaced them with ugly box stores, Walmart and all her anti-Union cousins.

Here was part of a reply to Karen's comment on the SOTU--
North Strabane, PA

Ms. Garcia and disaffected leftists like her always assume the worst about what Obama says. Improving Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid doesn't have to mean "cutting" them and putting a greater burden on seniors and the needy. There are billions of dollars in fraud in Medicare alone and greater efforts need to be made to eliminate it.[...] Snide remarks about Obama from leftist don't accomplish anything, unless they help elect one of the reactionary Republican clowns like Romney, Gingrich, or Santorum."

But snide remarks about the King led to the establishment of self-governance, rejection of monarchy and serfdom, and the establishment of Democracy. Dreams and new worlds are built from what may start as a few snide remarks. Otherwise you're cannon fodder or unhappily being fattened up in your veal pen.

Kat said...

Hmmm... what will happen when the committee to investigate financial fraud comes up against the Committee to Reelect the President?

Yeah, yeah. I'm not telling you anything you don't know...

Jay - Ottawa said...

The top story in the Times on the morning after the SOTU was followed by >1400 comments and counting when I took a long look, going from the top reader recommendation down to around the 20 vote range. Quite a slog.

In all those hundreds of comments there were remarkably fewl (less than 10) that were skeptical about the new and improved populist in the White House. The rest were laudatory, loyal, appreciative, hopeful, trusting, fawning and uniformly displaying all the clinical signs of amnesia. Either the DNC had an army flooding the Times, or the cream of the cream who read the Times are, for the most part, stupid.

In case you too were attracted by the magnetism of Obama's words, as distinct from his deeds, Robert Scheer can help you out with this dose of cold water.

Karen Garcia said...

Read the comments on the Times mortgage mess editorial. They are universally scathing of Obama. Hope is not lost. The campaign operatives who've taken over the comments lately are nowhere to be found. Even they have limits... or shame.

Anne Lavoie said...

I think the OFA and DNC Obamabots are paid to comment on pieces written by the NYT top columnists only. The comments almost everywhere else in the NYT are much different, more expressive, interesting, and more diverse. It's like night and day.

Something is fishy, and it is the Obama Corps. With upwards of a billion dollars of campaign money at his team's disposal, they can afford to pay for favorable comments where they think the most eyeballs will be. They don't leave anything to chance when it comes to swaying public opinion.

I'm sure Obama Cultists would do the same if they weren't being paid, so why aren't we seeing it happen elsewhere, not just on the pages of the most popular columnists?

MIKE said...

I'm reading too many comments here and elsewhere that there's virtually "no difference" between Obama and whoever the Republicans might nominate. We heard the same thing in 2000. Anyone believe it now? Please.
That being said, I'm trying to stick with Obama despite his depressing wimpiness over the first 3 years in office, only recently replaced with a smidgen of guts and basic common sense (mainly supplied by OWS)

Of course I'll vote for him, if only because the thought of Romney or Gingrich as our leader is too horrifying to contemplate. But if he starts to screw with Social Security and Medicare, ignore the above.


James F Traynor said...

He already has. He's 'put them (entitlements) on the table', bureau- speak for exactly that. The man's a menace because he's so good at it.

Anne Lavoie said...


'Depressing wimpiness'? There may be plenty of reasons to be depressed, but Obama being wimpy is not one of them. To quote Generalissimo Obama himself, 'Just ask Osama Bin Laden!'

Betrayal and corruption would be more like it. And Obama is not a poor negotiator either. He knows exactly what he wants and how to get it. Don't forget, he is the genius chess-master strategist extraordinaire.

He doesn't need our vote if he keeps playing his cards right, and keeps moving his chess pieces correctly, mainly in the area of war. In other words, if he keeps delivering the goods to the right people, they aren't going to want to start over with someone else at this stage when they have 4 more years of guaranteed power for themselves without any effort. Better the devil they know than the devil they don't know.

They will do whatever it takes to keep him where they want him and where he wants to be. Whatever. It. Takes. And the ONLY way to get away with that is to manipulate things to make it look like Obama has more popular support than he does, so that the election results look plausible instead of obviously rigged.

That's why it's important for all of us to question it and point it out when we see apparent overwhelming support for Obama only in certain influential places.

Different names, different faces, same old corruption.

Kat said...

@Mike-- If SS/Medicare is your chief concern, then I would recommend that you vote for Romney (the presumptive nominee, I assume) rather than Obama.
I think Obama would be far more successful in dismantling SS as we know it.

Neil said...


Romney is better than Obama on healthcare too. Romney actually delivered universal healthcare to the citizens of Massachusetts while governor.

Denis Neville said...

@ Neil - Romney is better than Obama on healthcare

However, Romney’s pants are on fire when he claims that "Romneycare" and "Obamacare" are entirely different. He claims, "The Massachusetts plan was crafted for Massachusetts, for the needs of 8 percent of our population that didn't have insurance, not for the 92 percent that did. Obamacare is a plan that takes over 100 percent of the people in the country and their health care, and that's one of the reasons why people don't want it."

The Affordable Care Act targets the 17 percent of people (over 50 million people) who are uninsured. Comparing 8 percent to 17 percent is apples to apples when it comes to the impact of the individual mandate at the center of both the Massachusetts and national plans.

“Romneycare” and “Obamacare” share the same basic structure: establish a new marketplace to buy private insurance; provide government subsidies to people who can’t afford coverage otherwise; and use an individual mandate to bring healthy patients into the system.

Jonathan Gruber, the healthcare economist who helped write Romney’s healthcare bill, and also consulted with the Obama administration during the healthcare debate, criticizes Romney’s charge that Obama’s federal healthcare law (Affordable Care Act) goes further than what he signed as Massachusetts governor.

Gruber says, "The problem is there is no way to say that, because they're the same f---ing bill. He just can't have his cake and eat it too. Basically, you know, it's the same bill. He can try to draw distinctions and stuff, but he's just lying. The only big difference is he didn't have to pay for his. Because the federal government paid for it. Where at the federal level, we have to pay for it, so we have to raise taxes."

DreamsAmelia said...

Wow--Freaky! You are so right that the comments are like "night and day" between the SOTU and the mortgage mess editorials--Guess that solar storm must have sucked hundreds of OFA "folks" :) straight into the SOTU comment vortex, while simultaneously creating a black hole where "all the rest" of us went to comment...!

By the way, Mozilla Firefox has a new video worth watching with their (always free, but you can donate if you wish) version 9.0.1, reveling in the concept of working for people and principles above profits- After you download Firefox, go to Preferences or Settings, then under the Privacy tab check the boxes "Clear history when Firefox closes" and "Always use private browsing mode" and you will cut down on being overly-monitored, marketed to, & tracked, with no need to jump under or over things. That's all taken care of as long as you shut your browser each time you leave your computer.

Denis Neville said...

The Moral Test

Donald Berwick, former Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called the Affordable Care Act “a majestic law” that serves as a “framework,” like an “architect’s sketch” that through regulations and guidance can be transformed into real programs and services that reach people.

Berwick’s speech, “The Moral Test,” refers to a quote by Sen. Hubert Humphrey that is inscribed on the building that houses the Department of Health and Human Services offices: “The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” Senator Humphrey described the moral test, not just of government, but of a nation.”

“The politics of poverty have never been power politics in America, for the simple reason that the poor don’t vote and the children don’t vote and the sickest among us don’t vote. And, if those who do vote do not assert firmly that Senator Humphrey was right, and if we do not insist on a government that passes the moral test – the thread will break, and shame on us if it does.”

Mittens pledges to repeal the Affordable Care Act and save billions of dollars.

Mittens fails The Moral Test.

Denis Neville said...

Mike said – “Of course I'll vote for him, if only because the thought of Romney or Gingrich as our leader is too horrifying to contemplate.”

A vote is a terrible thing to waste, they say.

Chris Hedges at Truthdig :

“Voting will not alter the corporate systems of power. Voting is an act of political theater. Voting in the United States is as futile and sterile as in the elections I covered as a reporter in dictatorships like Syria, Iran and Iraq. There were always opposition candidates offered up by these dictatorships. Give the people the illusion of choice. Throw up the pretense of debate. Let the power elite hold public celebrations to exalt the triumph of popular will. We can vote for Romney or Obama, but Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil and Bank of America and the defense contractors always win. There is little difference between our electoral charade and the ones endured by the Syrians and Iranians. Do we really believe that Obama has, or ever had, any intention to change the culture in Washington?

"In this year’s presidential election I will vote for a third-party candidate, either the Green Party candidate or Rocky Anderson, assuming one of them makes it onto the ballot in New Jersey, but voting is nothing more than a brief chance to register our disgust with the corporate state. It will not alter the configurations of power. The campaign is not worth our emotional, physical or intellectual energy.”

Neil said...


Thanks for your comments. I view Romney’s current claims as political rhetoric to distance himself from Obama in order to appeal to his constituents.

The Boston Globe wrote last June "In Massachusetts, the percentage is up to 98 percent, the highest in the nation. Obama projects that about 95 percent of people will be insured nationally in a decade."

My point was that Romny actually delivered healthcare to the people of Massachusetts, and Obama is still in the hope stage. The hope stage includes a SCOTUS challenge, and cost savings via a cat food commission to determine best practices and reduce spending.

Obama did not say much about healthcare during the SOTU. In my view Obama missed the boat in the design and promotion of healthcare.

National health coverage should be designed and promoted as a way to make American workers and products more competitive in the world market, by shifting the cost of healthcare off the back of employers to make American products more affordable.

For example, Japan and Germany have universal health care which effectively subsidizes their auto industry and puts American car companies at a competitive disadvantage. Germany is the world’s second largest exporter, and pays relatively high wages to its workers.

The People’s Republic of China is the world’s largest exporter, and under The New Rural Co-operative Medical Care System (NRCMCS) the annual cost of medical coverage is 50 yuan (US$7) per person, according to Wikipedia.

In 2008 Frontline and Washington Post foreign correspondent T.R. Reid did a series called "Sick Around the World" and showed how five other capitalist democracies - the UK, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland - delivered health care more efficiently that the US. I have multiple links to that series on my website on the healthcare page.

Also on my healthcare page are several related videos by Bernie Sanders, and a couple by Dr. Ron Paul, and a link to the recent Times story about hospital suites catering to the affluent.

National health coverage should be marketed to the American public as a way to compete in the world marketplace. But that would remove the private sector profit center, which is why we are left with Romneycare and Obamacare, two sick siblings.

Karen Garcia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Berwick was a recess appointment by Obama.

Some commenters at the NYT have taken themselves out of the running for "favored" status. They don't like the Facebook demand.


Denis Neville said...

@ Neil - Romneycare and Obamacare, two sick siblings…

Indeed they are.

"America's broken health care system suffers from what appear to be two separate problems. From the right, a chorus warns of the dangers of rising costs; we on the left focus on the growing number of people going without health care because they lack adequate insurance. ... But the division between the problem of cost and the problem of coverage is misguided. It is founded on the assumption ... that the current market system is efficient. Instead, however, the current system is inherently inefficient; it is the very source of the rising cost pressures. In fact, the only way we can control health care costs and avoid fiscal and economic catastrophe is to establish a single-payer system with universal coverage." - Gerald Friedman, Dollars & Sense: Real World Economics

We need a national health program like all other developed nations. IMHO, the best single payer system way would be “Medicare for All,” which would provide health care for everyone, control spiraling health care costs and improve the quality of health care.

Karen Garcia said...

My comment on Krugman (Mitch Daniels, Jobs and Jobs):

Mitch Daniels also gained the dubious distinction of having Indiana become the 23rd state to join in the anti-union, "right to work" cavalcade of the Republican war against labor this week. It became the first state in the manufacturing hub of the Midwest to ban closed shops in which all employees belong to the union that bargains on their behalf.

To hear the GOP candidates talk, this race to the bottom can't come fast enough. Newt Gingrich would love to eviscerate child labor laws. Mitt Romney just called the members of the National Labor Relations Board "stooges." Bailouts are fine for banks, and subsidies are great for Big Oil and defense contractors. Welfare is dandy as long as it is of the corporate variety. The social safety net of Republican dreams will have elephant sized holes big enough to accomodate the freefall of the 99%.

President Obama did pay brief lip service to unions at his SOTU, when he spoke of a unionized Master Lock plant in Milwaukee running at full capacity, having brought back jobs from abroad. But the optics of Steve Jobs's widow sitting in the first lady's box kind of cancelled out that bit. The auto bailout resulted in two tiers of employees: well-paid union and low wage non-union.

Stagnant or decreasing salaries, low/ no benefits, the demise of collective bargaining: all part of the new American normal. Maybe the corporations will bring the jobs back when the minimum wage is abolished and suicide nets below factory windows are legalized.

Zee said...

@Denis Neville--

I agree with you that a single-payer system like Canada's is the way to go.

Still, even Canada has decided that there is a place for supplemental private insurance, which I would like to see as a part of any U.S. Single-payer system:

At the time—2005 to 2006—it was darkly predicted by many that this would spell the end of the Canadian system by creating a “two-tier” system.

But as of late 2011 the Canadian system still seems to thrive, according to Canadians whom I have met on my travels. Still, none of the Canadians that I have met recently can tell me how the “private insurance experiment” is working.

But as nearly as I can ascertain, a significant amount of health care is now delivered privately in Canada:

“This does not constitute a ban on privately funded care; indeed, about 30% of Canadian health expenditures come from private sources, both insurance and out-of-pocket payments. The Canada Health Act does not address delivery. Private clinics are therefore permitted, albeit subject to provincial/territorial regulations, but they cannot charge above the agreed-upon fee schedule unless they are treating non-insured persons (which may include those eligible under automobile insurance or worker's compensation, in addition to those who are not Canadian residents), or providing non-insured services. This provision has been controversial among those seeking a greater role for private funding. ---Wikipedia (Emphasis added.)

Are any of you out there aware of any serious damage that has been done to the Canadian single-payer system by the addition of private insurance there?