Thursday, June 25, 2015

Links/Open Thread

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court has upheld Obamacare subsidies for all 50 states.... because love for the predatory insurance cartel trumps hatred for regular people.


Charles Blow: removal of the Confederate flag is only about a tenth of the battle against institutional racism. My comment:
Forget the Confederate flag: institutional racism is as all-American as the Stars & Stripes. It's as hushed up as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Whose jobs do you suppose will be the first to disappear when this right-wing corporate power-grab gets ratified? Black and brown people were disproportionately affected by the unemployment and wage suppression wrought by NAFTA -- and the TPP has been described as NAFTA on steroids. Since it will inordinately reward the largely white plutocracy. and inordinately punish already impoverished people both here and abroad, the TPP is the very epitome of institutionalized racism.

Those Confederate flags that Walmart stocked were probably sewn by Asian slave labor. Racism knows no boundaries, nor does the capitalistic greed that perpetuates it.

Red-lining exists in all 50 states, despite the laws on the books. As an article in today's Times reveals, middle class Black families are still being steered into poor neighborhoods. Minorities pay more for groceries in "food deserts," and courts rubber-stamp gerrymandering. If that brand of disenfranchisement doesn't work, record incarceration does. There are more Blacks in prison today than were enslaved in the decade preceding the Civil War. The War on Drugs is racist; affluent white kids rarely go to jail when they get caught with dope.

The first step toward getting rid of racism is getting rid of wealth inequality. We need a government jobs program, and we need to tax the rich.

(P.S. -- Now that anti-racism is being concern-trolled across the political spectrum, I think it's important to keep hammering away at how terribly racist and classist these so-called "trade" deals truly are. What politician wants to be called a racist, after all? Maybe we can convince them to do the right thing in their own political self-interest if not in the public interest.)


On a related note, would CIA whistle-blower Jeffrey Sterling be in prison if he were white?


Speaking of the CIA and racism, tomorrow is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. To mark the occasion, one hundred civil rights organizations are demanding that the UN call out the US for its abject failure to give justice to both the perpetrators of torture and the "folks" (Obama's word for the victims)  who have been tortured. From the ACLU website:
Shockingly, the Justice Department declared to a U.S. court that it has never opened the full report it received from the Senate, let alone reviewed it for evidence of human rights violations and criminal wrongdoing. And yet yesterday, in response to a new letter from the ACLU, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch — supported by more than 110,000 signatures calling for comprehensive criminal investigation — DOJ spokesman Marc Raimondi told The Miami Herald:
In 2009, the Attorney General directed a preliminary review of the treatment of certain individuals alleged to have been mistreated while in U.S. Government custody subsequent to the 9/11 attacks. That review generated two criminal investigations, but the Department of Justice ultimately declined those cases for prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain convictions beyond a reasonable doubt. Those investigators have also reviewed the Senate Committee’s full report and did not find any new information that they had not previously considered in reaching their determination. This inquiry was extraordinarily thorough and we stand by our previously announced decision not to initiate criminal charges.
The Justice Department’s reluctance to order a new independent criminal investigation defies any common sense and fundamental principles of the rule of law. It also flies in the face of U.S. and international law obligations and sends a dangerous message to U.S. and foreign leaders that torture has no legal consequences.
Can we finally just be honest and admit that the Justice Department is nothing but a corrupt public relations agency when it isn't hounding and harassing journalists who are trying to do their jobs?


Hillary Clinton tells a Black audience that Her Life Matters. Backlash ensues. For all her millions, she keeps forgetting to replace that gosh-darn battery in her Miracle Ear for chronic tone-deafness.


Jay–Ottawa said...

Karen’s point (below, Fast Track Zero Hour) that TPP is “an act of economic/military aggression against China” adds a new layer of concern to the whole business of secret trade agreements. TPP is not only about money. It’s about the old game of military chicken. The Pentagon has got to love TPP.

The military implications of western economic aggression are more troubling than the so-called trade war. TPP can now be understood as a hefty part of Obama’s “Asia Pivot.” Are this century’s empires about to clash in the same way the empires of the day once did 75 years ago?

In July 1941 the US imposed an embargo of oil and other goods against Japan. The cutoff threatened Japan’s establishment of its “Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.” Maybe Roosevelt’s clipping of Japan’s wings was warranted. In any event, the land of the rising sun did not fold and retire into its enchanting Japanese gardens. Its response came on December 7, 1941.

Yes, the New China is flexing its muscles. It’s got money (a lot of it ours), talent, resources, manufacturing might (forfeited by Uncle Sam) AND ASPIRATIONS. What’s a western strategist supposed to do? Let’s just cross our fingers and hope TPP and the Asia Pivot don’t open the door to another series of military escalations.

There’s more. TTIP, the mirror trade agreement in and around the Atlantic rim, is meant to punish the other uppity power Uncle Sam and the rest of NATO don’t like: Putin’s Russia.

Through its meddling in the Ukraine, NATO has tried to push its sphere of influence right up to Russia’s doorstep. After Bush promised Putin not to expand NATO eastward. Putin, no pushover, has countered by annexing the Crimea. NATO, no pushover, is heating up an engineered civil war with a fresh supply of bigger, meaner weapons AND an embargo against Russia. Here we go again.

Pearl said...

William Rivers Pitt | Killing a Nation With Euphemisms: TPP-Eats-Medicare Edition via @sharethis

Watching the jubilation after the Supreme Court decision that Obamacare is constitutional, is painful. Obama crowing about providing health care for the people, people dancing in the streets, pundits praising this 'victory', etc. Obomacare is the crumb thrown to people to keep them from fighting for national single payer health care under government regulation.
What a shell game.
Hope you can access Pitt's great article about it all.

Pearl said...

Just signed a petition by Bernie Sanders for Universal Health Care. He is a strong advocate for it with an important e-mail outlining the reasons. I doubt any other current presidential aspirant has made similar statements.

Pearl said...

I think Jill Stein of the Green party would make similar statements but don't know if she is officially running as yet. Anyone know about this possibility?. I voted for her in the last election.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Pearl, I believe this is the link to the article by W.R. Pitt you were referring us to. Thanks for the heads up. So, TPP not only bulks up the 1%, impoverishes the rest of us, and risks a new cold war; it will also take big bites out of healthcare for elders.

The Congress and the White House have arranged that $450 million per year be taken out of Medicare. What for? To fund a new unemployment program to help Americans "trade adjust" to TPP. (They damn well already KNOW TPP will evaporate jobs!)

"The original plan was to "sequester" - another brilliantly vile euphemism - about $700 million per year from Medicare to fund "assistance" for everyone who gets "trade adjusted" by the TPP. Republicans balked at the number, not because it was stealing from Medicare, but because it was Just Another Government Welfare Program Argle Bargle Blah. After a series of negotiations between congressional Democrats, Republicans and the White House, they settled on carving out $450 million per year to "assist" the "trade adjusted."

God bless America, God bless Medicare, and God bless our hang-tough Democratic negotiators.

Meredith NYC said...

Not the most important, but...

Karen....did you see this?
Is Greater Focus on the Superrich Right for The Times?
By Margaret Sullivan Public Editor, June 25.

From her blog:

NYT exec editor Dean Baquet “announced that the paper’s longtime TV critic, Alessandra Stanley, would start a new assignment: covering the “top 1 percent of the 1 percent.” In a memo to the staff, he called it a part of the paper’s deepening focus on economic inequality.

Mr. Baquet sees no contradiction. In an interview, he explained that Ms. Stanley’s new beat is only the first in what will be a number of new assignments in this arena.

Ms. Stanley’s new job came from her own initiative, he said. “Alessandra came to see me about a week ago and said, ‘I really want to do something different.’ ” She presented Mr. Baquet with a memo, and even said she had an editor in mind: the investigations chief, Ian Fisher.

Mr. Baquet liked the idea and accepted it on the spot, he told me.
“It was all in one transaction,” he said.

The beat will not be “isn’t it cool to be rich,” he emphasized, but will look at the outsize role of the superrich in areas including philanthropy, art, and politics. It will be, he said, “an anthropological approach.”

I wonder what was Stanley’s motivation for proposing this nice gig to the Times? Is it usually that easy to get new column ideas approved by the top, just walk in and say here's my proposal?

Karen Garcia said...

Jill Stein has announced that she is running. She wants to be included in a lawsuit against the plutocratic presidential debates commission, which had barred her from participating during the 2012 season. I don't have a link, but Google away, it's being covered by the usual progressive sites.

Karen Garcia said...

Alessandra Stanley is one of Maureen Dowd's BFFs. She was widely panned for her recent snarky racist putdown of Shonda Rhimes, and has a long record of factual errors. She is a clickbait-worthy snob columnist whom readers love to hate.

Maybe she got her highly original idea from our local WCBS "news" channel, which runs a daily segment called "Living Large." New York-area billionaires vie for the chance to get their "staged" palaces and $50 million penthouses featured on TV. It has a truly class-envious slant, as the anchors sigh jealously after every episode and urge all of us to dream from afar. Of course, the anchors are mere millionaires with ordinary mansions in the Hamptons. Sigh.

The series was originally crafted as kind of a satire of conspicuous consumption, but has since devolved into blatant Godzillionaire worship.

Meredith NYC said...

Karen...yeah, satire, my foot. Give the masses some 'perspective.' For satire, go to Andy Borowitz.

You reminded me of Stanley's negatives. But what about Dean Baquet? What's he after? Are Times profits so bad, that it has to join the trash culture? He said, what a good idea?

Our 1st black president and 1st black Times exec editor are disappointing---they have to join the power structure. But how did they manage to get where they are?

Karen Garcia said...

Krugman Alert!

His column, a veritable Obamacare orgasm, is up and running earlier than usual. (he wasn't just on the edge of his seat... he was pacing the floor waiting for the Supreme news) He is absolutely tickled by Scalia's jiggery-pokery spiel. And in typical Panglossian fashion, not everybody was meant to be covered anyway so as long as you got yours, it's all good. My comment:

Jiggery-pokery, huh? Sounds like Scalia wrote his opinion under the influence of a colonoscopy gone wild. Without sedation. Quite the entertaining rant, if you're into depraved-heart reactionary humor.

But seriously. While we should indeed celebrate the modest victory of several million people retaining their coverage, let's not forget that at least 35 million remain uninsured, with about the same number underinsured (deductibles and co-pays so egregiously high that yes, you can still go bankrupt if you get sick.)

Health care should be a human right, not a neoliberal lottery with "consumers" entering for a chance to win the Great Obamacare Sweepstakes.

It's a crime against humanity that up to 17,000 people (even some of the "covered") still die each year because they can't afford a doctor.

We need to temper our celebration with a hefty dose of outrage.

Our health care system is working, all right.... for the hospital chains overcharging patients by as much as 1000%, the insurance cartels whose stock immediately soared with news of the court decision, the drug industry charging so much for lifesaving medicines that even well-off people have to choose between taking a pill to live, or eating a meal to live.

Medicare for All would save us $400 billion a year.

"I am convinced today more than ever before that universal quality health care as a right will eventually become the law of the land. It is the only way forward." - Future President Bernie Sanders.

Meredith NYC said...

Orgasms and colonosopies? Cute, Karen! I know you're outraged but someone with your brilliant powers of expression doesn't need that.

CNN, the crime channel, has been covering the escaped convicts all eve, and well into the prime time 8pm hour, and does viewers the favor of including a crawl at bottom of screen on the S. Court Burwell decision, and a few other items that affect millions of Americans. I wonder how much time the 3 broadcast news shows gave it? Msnbc gives it plenty of time and discussion.

Meredith NYC said...

Where is that 4th leg of the 3 legged stool—regulation of medical industry profits? The crucial one included in the systems of dozens of other countries. Their lower medical costs are possible b/c they don’t think that corporations are more powerful than govt for and by the people. Their resources get put into care, and even their rw parties don’t vilify this as big govt intrusion into profits. Where is the discussion of this?

A crucial leg of the stool is Equal Protection.
When will the Equal Protection clause be honored by extending h/c to every citizen, regardless of location, or anything else?

The reason we can't reach basic parity with other democracies' h/c financing is that our media offers little to no info on how it's achieved. That it’s acceptable in dozens of nations to regulate costs, while here that is untouchable. How even their rw parties don't run on increasing profits to medical industries using their tax dollars.

We never see testimony from on the ground citizens abroad on how they fund and use h/c. Even our liberals in major media ignore this as if it doesn't exist. The lack of coverage in Krugman’s columns sticks out a mile. Politicians need money to run, and pundits need the approval of the main stream media, so not to look to left wing. So he crucial info and contrasts we need say dark, so voters stay vulnerable to gop distortions. Low standards intolerable abroad are the norm here.

We crawl slowly toward progress to reach the late 20th century in USA. ACA survives attack and in the same week, the confederate flag comes down in some places, even approved by the son of Strom Thurmond.

Karen Garcia said...

Sorry Meredith, couldn't help myself. "Jiggery-Pokery" just conjured up an image of a demented colonoscope in my lowbrow brain. I think that the last time I had read that word was in a Dickens novel. Or maybe it was Fielding. Or maybe "A Clockwork Orange" -- Alex and his mates indulge in a bit of the old Jiggery-Pokery.

But did you read Scalia's dissent? He certainly had something bigger than a bug up stuck up his you-know-what when he went on his verbal rampage. The more I think about it, the more I believe that he WANTS people to think he is off the wall and living in an old English novel. He was obviously showing off for both his fans and his detractors.

Personally, my favorite Times comment to Krugman so far is the one that said Scalia looks like a big hairy baby. I'm surprised but very pleased that the moderators let it through.

Meredith NYC said...

Scalia as a big hairy baby? Yes, he Does look like that! That's a commenter prize winner. And maybe Scalia's emotional maturity is also stuck at the same stage of development!
I think I will read his dissent, out of morbid curiosity. Other comments have also cited its nasty weirdness.

Karen, I'm glad to see your comment on Krugman's blog today, as a corrective to his Obama cheerleading. He says, "Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history." In history?

Sounds like K is going to write Obama's encyclopedia entry. Your comment concisely itemizes Obama's drawbacks as a ripost to Krugman--who didn't wait long after yesterday's court decision to write a blog polishing up Obama's legacy.

I don't care about Obama's legacy improving after the ACA court decision. I care about the 35 millions that Sanders says are still uninsured. And that Krugman never mentions. That's an amazing number. I thought it was only about 5 million, in the 22 states opting out of ACA. Where does this 35m come from? Sanders repeated it yesterday on msnbc.

Meredith NYC said...

Many people will understandably be reluctant to criticize our 1st black president too much, and the same might apply to our 1st woman president.

The truth is that Obama is a disappointing president. Expectations were high. Paradoxically, maybe Obama can only be realistically criticized after we someday get over our racial barriers---that's for future historians.

When previously shut out minorities of race or gender finally get into power, they have to play the game to a great extent. How do they get nominated, in our system?

Obama is a moderate republican, but still much better than Bush, and not as liberal as Gop Ike in many ways. Ike used the fed govt to benefit the US, such as the vst highway program, and would be rejected by today's Gop.

I found this stunning Eisenhower quote. He wrote to his brother:
" Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history." (!)

Meredith NYC said...

See link on right of this blog to, Why the Confederate Banner Must Come Down.

What a an eloquent, impassioned essay by Moyers. It vividly lays out the meaning and context of the confederate flag by a southern white man who was there in the civil rights era when this flag was resurrected as a symbol of defiance against equality for blacks and big govt coercion.

Moyers says ...
“And they acted under a misguided belief that most of the rest of white America, actually shared those views deep down. They honestly believed the Civil Rights Movement was an aberration..... “They truly believed all that for a good reason: just 15 or 20 years earlier, they would have been right.

In the 1940s, white Americans in every part of the country – including Roosevelt, most members of his cabinet and the majority of the Supreme Court – agreed that almost all black people were naturally inferior to white people.

When southern politicians resurrected Confederate emblems in the 1960s, it was part of a genuine, if gigantically mistaken, belief that white Americans everywhere could be led or inspired back to their own past racist instincts.”

So that’s in the lifetime of people walking around today, who absorbed these ideas from their elders and approved by local officialdom.
How recent it is that science shows that racial or gender disparities are not innate, but culturally defined, and environmentally determined.

valerie said...

Good article in TruthOut on why it is important to support Bernie Sanders at least until the Democratic Convention. It might be the only way we can scare the Democrats in Congress to vote against the TPP in its full and totally corrupt form.