Thursday, July 30, 2015

Medicare Is Golden

Despite all the radical right-wing efforts to kill it and defund it and privatize it, Medicare has lived to celebrate its 50th birthday today. Ronald Reagan, himself a Medicare recipient in his interminable dotage, must be rolling in his grave. Ditto for chain-smoking Ayn Rand, whose lung cancer treatment was also covered by the single-payer health care program.

In honor of Medicare's 50th, I propose lowering the eligibility age to 50, thence in rapid increments of five years every single month, culminating in automatic coverage for all citizens beginning at birth. I also propose doing away with the current deductibles and co-pays in order to get the private insurance predators out of the mix entirely.

How did LBJ do it? The LBJ Presidential Library has the transcript of a White House conversation from March 1965:
LBJ: When are you going to take it up?
Mills: (Wilbur Mills, the powerful House Ways and Committee chairman) I’ve got to go to the Rules Committee next week.
LBJ: You always get your rules pretty quickly though, don’t you?
Mills: Yeah, that’s right.
LBJ: . . . For God’s sake, let’s get it before Easter! . . . They make a poll every Easter. . .You know it. On what has Congress accomplished up till then. Then the rest of the year they use that record to write editorials about. So anything that we can grind through before Easter will be twice as important as after Easter.
(Mills gets off the telephone line)
LBJ: Now, remember this. Nine out of 10 things that I get in trouble on is because they lay around. And tell the Speaker and Wilbur [Mills] to please get a rule just the moment they can.
Cohen: (Wilbur Cohen, Assistant HEW Secretary) They want to bring it up next week, Mr. President.
LBJ: Yeah, but you just tell them not to let it lay around. Do that! They want to but they might not. That gets the doctors organized. Then they get the others organized. And I damn near killed my education bill, letting it lay around.
Cohen: Yeah.
LBJ: It stinks. It’s just like a dead cat on the door. When a committee reports it, you better either bury that cat or get it some life in it . . . [to Mills as he gets back on the line:] For God’s sakes! “Don’t let dead cats stand on your porch,” Mr. Rayburn used to say. They stunk and they stunk and they stunk. When you get one out of that committee, you call that son of a bitch up before [our opponents] can get their letters written.
Ronald Reagan, remember, shilled for the American Medical Association. Reagan must stink like a dead cat by this time, as he rolls. But here he is in his happier rigor mortis days:

Migrants, Dehumanized

After initially likening dark-skinned refugees from war-torn and poverty-stricken Africa and the Middle East to diseased tunnel rats, the New York Times has belatedly and quietly changed the lead of its July 29 article, "Britain and France Scramble as Channel Becomes Choke Point in Migration Crisis."

Here are the original opening paragraphs as prominently displayed on the top of the online home-page yesterday: 
Britain and France scrambled on Wednesday to address the latest flash point in Europe’s festering migrant crisis after a second consecutive night in which hundreds of people living in squalid camps in northern France sought to force their way through the Channel Tunnel.
British ministers and officials held emergency talks in London as pressure mounted on both sides of the English Channel for tighter security around the tunnel and for broader measures to defuse the situation, the most recent to highlight the scale of illegal migration from the Middle East, Africa and other poor and war-torn regions into Europe.
They've since been revised to read:
 They have reached Europe after often-treacherous journeys, usually across the Mediterranean. They have dodged the authorities as they made their way north toward their ultimate goal, Britain. But now, thousands of illegal migrants, refugees from war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, find themselves bottled up at one final choke point in northern France: the entrance to the Channel Tunnel.
Over two nights this week, their desperation and frustration flared to new levels as they tried in far larger numbers than normal to breach the security around the tunnel and hide themselves amid the trucks and freight being shuttled by rail from Calais to southern England.
Wow, it's a miracle. Overnight, the migrants evolved from swarming invasive hordes into human beings --  albeit still "illegal." Of course, the Times revision is now buried well off the home-page. The original article was, unsurprisingly enough, a magnet for self-righteous xenophobic rants from all across the A-B political spectrum. But many astute commenters also noted the connection between the current migrant crisis and decades of American/NATO imperialism.

I wrote my own comment in response to the original lead:
 This article immediately dehumanizes the migrants by describing their existential plight as a "festering" crisis.

From the online Free Dictionary, definitions of festering:

1.venomous, vicious, smouldering, virulent, black-hearted; recrimination and festering resentment.

2. septic, infected, poisonous, inflamed, pussy, suppurating, ulcerated, purulent, maturating, gathering, afflicted by festering sores.

3. rotting, decaying, decomposing, putrefying The cobbles were littered with festering garbage.

Words matter, New York Times. This type of coded language gives credence to Donald Trump-style xenophobia.

Meanwhile, David Cameron wrings his delicate hands over the delays being suffered by affluent vacationers.

Where's the pity? Where's the empathy? Where are the prosecutions of the Bush-era war criminals who created this whole human catastrophe in the first place?
Many of the "festering" migrants are from Libya and Syria, destabilized by the Bush-era successors.

My favorite comment is by a Daily Kos reader named "dconrad," who channeled Donald Trump:
"If I am elected president I will build a wall in the middle of the English channel to keep these immigrants, who are rapists by the way, out of England and I will make France pay for it. The French are lightweights, and, frankly, losers. I don't respect anyone who got invaded by the Germans. And I will build a Trump hotel and casino on top of that wall, because I'm extremely successful and, I don't like to brag, but I'm very rich and if you don't believe me, just read The Art of the Deal, the greatest book ever written."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

TPP: A Pimper's Paradise

As expected, the Obama administration has decided to ignore the atrocities of the Malaysian slave trade in order to make the world even more comfortable for global plutocrats and their unfettered capital.  This cynical move is all of a piece with the long American tradition of deploring the behavior of countries our officials don't like (Russia, North Korea, Iran) while turning a willful blind eye to the deplorable behavior of countries which either buy US weapons of mass destruction (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt), or allow the extraction of their human and material resources for the benefit of the American ruling class and its corporations.(name just about any third world country.) These fire sale-type extractions usually follow bribes in the form of loans from the International Monetary Fund. The collateral is the imposition of austerity on poor and working people. Since the countries are rarely able to make timely repayments, the plunder by creditors is then free to proceed with a vengeance.

Malaysia is one of the twelve nations included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In order for Barack Obama to salve his alleged conscience enough to sign the accord, his State Department has simply "upgraded" Malaysia to a less-bad level of human rights violations. This is despite the recent discovery of a mass grave containing the murdered bodies of hundreds of enslaved people, or as pseudo-democratic governments like to euphemise them, "human trafficking victims." 

Dave Dayen writes in The Intercept:
The move to officially upgrade Malaysia from Tier 3 to Tier 2 in the department’s annual report on human trafficking came despite scant evidence that the country has improved oversight of the businesses that enslave workers within its borders. It has raised concerns among some anti-trade activists that the decision was made for purely political reasons.
The trade promotion authority that Congress approved, which was signed into law by President Obama in June, came with a condition: No country on Tier 3 of the human trafficking report could get “fast-track” status for trade agreements signed with the United States.
In other words, trade deals with a Tier 3 country could not go to Congress for a guaranteed up-or-down vote without the possibility of filibuster or amendment. Malaysia is one of 12 countries negotiating TPP. The White House tried on multiple occasions to neutralize this language without success. So the State Department’s upgrade for Malaysia could be seen as a Plan B.
Despite the White House’s contention that trade deals like TPP are “the most progressive in history,” it appears to be overlooking significant forced labor violations to get it passed.
In 2014, the State Department demoted Malaysia to Tier 3 status for being a destination “for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and women and children subjected to sex trafficking.” Malaysia’s 4 million foreign workers are threatened by large smuggling debts and confiscated passports that put them at the mercy of recruiting companies. Women in particular, recruited for hotel or beauty salon work, are routinely coerced into the commercial sex trade. And forced labor runs rampant in agricultural, construction and textile industries, producing the same goods that would get duty-free access to U.S. markets under TPP.
Of course, the human rights catastrophe in Malaysia is already the direct result of American foreign policy as inflicted by the IMF. By "progress," Obama presumably means that the slave trade can forge ahead even stronger than ever, if and when the TPP is ratified and signed into ignominy. Just as he and previous presidents have always feebly insisted,  the inclusion of "deplorable" nations in the global free market will be predicated on the flimsy promises of said nations to do the nicey-nice in the future. 

As The Nation reports, the very existence of the State Department's tiered rating system of human trafficking nations is itself a cynical ploy to make the United States the global moral arbiter which can and will grant altruistic clemency to hardcore delinquent nations like Malaysia -- on the mere promise that they will mend their ways. And once they don't mend their ways, the US more often than not will turn another willful blind eye to the broken promises. The fact that Colombia, for example, continues its abysmal record of assassinating trade unionists with impunity after Obama's signing of CAFTA is a case in point.

The Obama administration, as have other human bondage apologists before it, carefully concentrates on only the "trafficking" part of Malaysian slavery -- thus reducing it, in the court of public opinion, to just what it sounds like: a minor traffic violation rather than felony murder, kidnapping and rape. Maybe if Americans were able to view the abused victims of the Malaysian slave trade as thousands of Bill Cosby victims who are never allowed to escape his coercive clutches, they could then begin to feel some empathic outrage.

The transatlantic slave trade from the 16th to the 18th centuries was not about the "movement." It was about permanently enslaving 11 million Africans, on top of merely "transporting" them across the ocean. Malaysia, too, is more than a "route." So, the question must be asked: where are the 21st century abolitionists?

The reason that Barack Obama can so easily condemn the predations of a Bill Cosby while easily accepting the existence of slavery is the usual one: money, and lots of it. Slavery is a truly progressive growth industry, generating billions of dollars in profits every year, a profit margin greater than any other industry in the world, whether legal or illegal. The State Department estimates that one woman or child is trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation every 60 seconds.

As researcher Siddharth Kara writes, 
Trafficked sex slaves are by far the most lucrative slaves in the world. Only 4.2 percent of the world's slaves are trafficked sex slaves, but they generate 39.1 percent of slaveholders' profits. To benchmark the astounding profits generated by the exploitation of sex slaves, one need look no further than the fact that the global weighted average net profit margin of almost 70 percent makes it one of the most profitable enterprises in the world. By comparison, Google's net profit margin in 2006 was 29 percent, and it is one of the most profitable companies in the United States."
Slavery has always been an integral, even necessary, part of capitalism. Globalization and "free trade" deals have made it even more so, creating as they do crisis situations in countries bearing their brunt. As jobs disappear and wages plummet, millions of women and children become vulnerable to exploitation. The IMF's prescription of the "shock doctrine" of austerity in the name of the free market has actually encouraged and accelerated slavery. Malaysia found itself in the neoliberal crosshairs in the early 90s, as speculators and hedge fund predators "invested" money in the country, leading to bubbles and currency devaluation. Then-Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohammad was blunt in his assessment:
We are told we must open up, that trade and commerce must be totally free. Free for whom? For rogue speculators. We had tried to comply with the wishes of the rich and mighty, but when the big funds use their massive weight in order to move the shares up and down at will and make huge profits by their manipulations, then it is too much to expect us to welcome them, especially when their profits result in massive losses for ourselves. The currency traders have become rich, very very rich through making other people poor.
The IMF/banking cartel did not take this radical rebellion against the Invisible Fist graciously, and the longest-serving prime minister in Malaysia's history was eventually forced to resign, with much help from Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and austerian vice president Al Gore.

 Punishment by the IMF/global banking cartel for debtor states' failure to adopt "reforms" (austerity) always comes with a price. Just look at Greece. Just look at Detroit. Just look around your own foreclosed neighborhood.

And now, with the Obama administration's renewed, tacit acceptance of Asian slavery as an engine of economic growth, it is not hyperbole to label any complicit politicians who vote for "trade deals" not only whores, but pimps, high and free on capitalistic crack.

The victims of the global sex trade are the comfort women of the plutocrats -- each and every one of whom calls himself a devoted family man, or a simpering feminist with a shallow verbal penchant for "empowering" poor women and breaking the glass ceiling.

Where are the 21st century abolitionists? Where are the protests? Where are the scolding magazine covers that shame and call out the political pimps and the plutocratic predators?

"War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength". -- George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

 "The fact is some folks are just opposed to trade deals out of principle, a reflexive principle. And what I tell them is, ‘You know what? If you’re opposed to these smart, progressive trade deals, then that means you must be satisfied with the status quo.’ ” -- Barack Obama at Nike Headquarters, May 2015, doing Orwell one better. Not only is slavery free, and freedom slavery, but the whole abomination is eminently sane. The slaves are just too damned stupid to realize that their progress across national borders is preferable to just staying put in their miserable countries of origin.

"This is a testament to when we're not vigilant in defense of human rights, what can happen". -- Barack Obama on his visit to the Senegal Slave Trade Memorial, June 2013.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Commentariat Central

I'm taking a bit of a blogging break, but meanwhile here are a few of my (fairly) recent New York Times comments, along with some other links of interest. Please feel free to leave your own comments, either on or off-topic.

Charles Blow, Questions About the Sandra Bland Case:
 The video and audio of the traffic stop of Sandra Bland sent a chill right up my spine. When police officers can stalk, threaten, harass, assault, arrest, injure and kill black people for the crime of merely existing, I think it's high time that the USA declares itself a state sponsor of terrorism.

As far as Sandra Bland and other victims are concerned, there's no difference between USA and the totalitarian systems which our elected officials regularly claim to "deplore." (all the while selling guns, bombs and tear gas to them, that is.)

I have to wonder if the charming Officer Encinia was influenced at all by the vile stuff Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh have been spewing lately, or if he is just another victim of the Texas educational system.

One thing is clear. Police violence against black and brown people is no aberration. It's de facto policy. There is even a law, passed by Congress with the help of the profiteering prison lobby, requiring minimum residency quotas for America's private gulags.

Cops, therefore, become little more than weaponized travel agents for the ultimate incarceration destination. It's another way, besides cutting social programs,of culling the herd of disposable people. It's another way to bypass voting rights laws. Denying people suffrage while making them suffer -- it's the American police state M.O.

So more power to the Black Lives Matter movement, more power to resistant, bottom-up democracy.
This brutality has got to stop.
Peter Baker and Erica Goode, Critics of Solitary Confinement Are Buoyed As Obama Embraces Their Cause:
 It's great that Obama is speaking out against the inhumane conditions in prisons. But speaking out is only a small, first step in the right direction. His recent commutation of the sentences of a mere 46 crack cocaine convicts -- out of the tens of thousands that still languish in prison as a result of the still-ongoing, still stupid, still racist War on Drugs -- is a good public relations move that does little to nothing to solve the immediate humanitarian crisis.

In order for those tens of thousands of prisoners convicted under the draconian sentencing laws to qualify for clemency, they have to have been "model" convicts and never had even one violent incident on their records. Looking at a guard cross-eyed can be construed as "violent" in some prisons, particularly the privatized ones hiring $10-an-hour "corrections officers" off the street. Qualifications for clemency are draconian, too.

Obama also ordered a DOJ "study" on capital punishment last fall, but ultimately abandoned issuing a moratorium on the federal death penalty for the usual political reasons -- the White House feared it would "stoke" even more conservative support for the death penalty.

We're also waiting for his administration to comply with a court order to release videos of the force-feeding of Gitmo hunger strikers. The UN has declared it, along with solitary confinement, to be cruel and unusual punishment.

But at least Obama is talking about prison abuse. Now, we await more action from him.
Paul Krugman, Europe's Impossible Dream:
The EU is a bankers' paradise, with tiny Greece reduced from sovereignty to a failed branch office ripe for the Romneyesque picking. The predators are chomping at the bit to get on with the plunder.

Until quite recently, US officials were also cheerleading austerity in the EU - even as they pressured the NATO members within it (including Greece) to join their misguided war adventures in Libya and elsewhere. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton actually used the metaphor "chemotherapy" to describe -- and approve of -- the hideous treatment the Troika were prescribing to the Greek people in order to save the banking system.

Democracy has gone down the toilet, and Greece has been tortured into submission. The global banking cartel, out to colonize the world, makes for one corrupt and incompetent government. It's the one that needs the shock therapy.

The Michigan cancer doctor who deliberately gave chemo to hundreds of healthy patients apologized for his criminal greed before being sentenced to a long prison term last week. But not only have the austerians never been punished for their own malpractice, they are continuing on their rampage of sickening and killing people.

This is not a "tragedy." It is a crime.

 And yes, it can happen here. Detroit cuts off water to people who can't pay their bills. Chicago closes its public schools and hands over pension plans to hedge funds. Sinclair Lewis had a point about the American flag, and fascism.
David Brooks, Listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates While White:
Brooks praises Ta-Nehisi Coates with such faint damns that your head ends up clanging with his cognitive dissonance.

"By dissolving the dream under the acid of an excessive realism", he chides with all the condescension a concern-trolling rich white guy can muster, "you trap generations in the past and destroy the guiding star that points to a better future."

Well, it's true that the ideologues of the GOP have always had a problem with excess (for the billionaires they honor and serve) and realism (denial of climate change, Keynesian economics, world peace, even denial of their own denialism). So when a brilliant writer like Coates comes out with some hard truths, the denialists and the history revisionists throw conniption fits. How dare that angry black man, Coates, expose imperialism, capitalism run amok and the endemic racism woven into the very fabric of our history? Why can't all the ingrates out there just celebrate the lowering of the Confederate flag and move on, looking for a better tomorrow, tomorrow?

Reading between the lines of this odious "colorblind" column, it dawns on you that Brooks is essentially accusing Coates of child abuse for not sugar-coating the truth for his son.

Brooks is right about one thing, though. His reaction to Coates, and to  humanism and progressivism in general, is irksome His silence would most assuredly be golden.
And now for some links to other stuff readers might find of interest.

More excellent commentary on the Sandra Bland case, from Henry Giroux and Roxane Gay. 

I'll also take the liberty of reposting the excellent, highly-rated response to Roxane Gay by Sardonicky contributor "annenigma":
"Sandra Bland must have realized as she sat alone in her cell for the third day that her new job and possibly even her career could soon be going down the drain. Not only that, but a conviction would ruin her credit and impair her ability to acquire a home, rental or otherwise, all for failing to signal her turn under pressure of having a racist cop bearing down on her.

She probably also realized that this cop would lie under oath in court with impunity. Sometimes you just can't win, especially if you're black.

My heart breaks."

New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan will have her work cut out for her this week. First, it was the much-revised and much-reviled story about the criminal investigation that was/wasn't/got quashed into Hillary Clinton's emails while she was Secretary of State. Were the reporters incompetent boobs? Were they nefarious hacks out to destroy Hillary Clinton? Were they set up by their highly placed, anonymous Administration sources? Did Hillary Clinton make her pal, newbie AG Loretta Lynch, an offer she couldn't refuse? Or is it all, in the end, just another bureaucratic snafu and much ado about the nothing of run-of-the-mill political stupidity and legalized corruption? Stay tuned.  

The second potential Times scandal is about the much-praised blockbuster series exposing the atrocious labor conditions of New York's nail salons. As a former Times reporter (who now just happens to own a few day spas) writes in the New York Review of Books, reporter Sarah Masland Nir relied on very limited sourcing and translators for her stories, which claim that immigrant nail salon workers receive zero to subminimum wage.  NYRB author Richard Bernstein did his own investigation, which largely debunks her reporting. If he is right, the Times articles will vie with Rolling Stone's campus rape hoax for first place in distinguished achievement in shoddy journalism.

On second thought, if the honors are for consistent, chronic, everyday journalistic malpractice, we cannot possibly leave Politico out. As FAIR's Adam Johnston writes, that Beltway gossip rag just wrote, without one iota of evidence and based on just two shootings at recruiting centers several years apart, that "Tennessee is the Capital of American Jihad."

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Swiftboating of Bernie Sanders

The criticism of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders comes in three distinct flavors, depending largely upon the source.

1. Criticism from the center.  These are mostly cheap swiftboating attacks and straw man arguments coming from the mainstream media and Democratic Party insiders. The attacks are usually passive-aggressive, as in the New York Times ignoring him for long stretches and then coming up with the occasional dismissive "he can't possibly win, because we say so" tripe. They often reek of cheerful condescension. See this and this.

Centrist critics are overly fond of casting Sanders as a convenient prop for Hillary Clinton, a supporting actor who exists only for the cosmetic purpose of "pushing her to the left." This trope is becoming so over-used that people are beginning to notice that it is a trope.

 Or, centrists can even be openly hostile, like former Congressman Barney Frank. He's penned a vicious little hit piece ("Why Progressives Shouldn't Support Bernie") in Politico, suggesting that it would be better for the Democratic Party to be undemocratic and skip the actual debates and primaries against Hillary the Inevitable. Because otherwise, Republicans! (I forget if he remembered the standard Supreme Court fear-mongering. Truth be told, I couldn't even stand to read the whole thing.)

  Or, they can simply be brazenly co-optive, as in that other stuffy establishment organ, the Washington Post chiding Sanders for not co-opting the BlackLivesMatter protesters at Netroots Nation as skillfully as other Dems once co-opted Occupy. (actually, Occupy was co-opted by police crackdowns and Homeland Security fusion centers, but facts are messy things) As if the Washington Post gave a rat's ass about a group of ragtag protesters at a ragtag progressive event that Hillary Clinton found it beneath her dignity to attend. Joan Walsh of Salon is also emerging in the role of official Sanders Scold. But so far, I have to say that Vox is beating her in the shallow corporate Dem propaganda game, which entails pitting liberals against progressives, blacks against whites. And they say the GOP is a hot mess?

A subset of critics from the center are also chiding the young black protesters themselves for being crude and rude. This smarmy allegiance to political correctness  is a racial dog-whistle in and of itself. Young black kids, understandably upset about their peers being frisked and stopped, maimed, stalked and killed by police, are just too naive for their own good. Even worse, they refuse to be corralled into the vaunted Democratic veal pen. What a slap in the face to the established American order!

2. Criticism from the left. This is relatively rare, because the Left itself is rare, but for the most part, the beefs are entirely legitimate. I'm not ready to go quite so far (yet) as Black Agenda Report does in claiming that Sanders is nothing but a fraudulent Democratic plant, whose assigned sheep-dogging role is to herd the free-range disenchanted masses into the corporate Democratic pen to make the world safe for Hillary. I think that Bernie is entirely sincere in his run for national office. His domestic policy agenda, which runs more toward classic FDR-style liberalism than to "socialism," would be considered mainstream if the two corporate parties hadn't been veering off the neocon/neolib cliff over the past three decades or so. Polls have shown, for example, that a majority of Americans favor single payer health care.

But I think we should look at Sanders' political history with our eyes wide open. Read, for example, Paul Street's excellent biographical piece in Counterpunch about how Bernie came to join the Democrats in everything but name.

I've been troubled, too, by Sanders' sometimes bellicose foreign policy record and his radio silence on the security/spy/eternal war state in his stump speeches. He does not handle hecklers well. Last summer, he ordered people protesting his vote for foreign aid to Israel in the wake of the Gaza massacres to "sit down and shut up." And I am also troubled by his frequent statements that he is not a spoiler, that he likes and respects Hillary Clinton, and that he would endorse her wholeheartedly should she win the nomination. It smacks of pre-emptive capitulation.

And, I am troubled by the rise of something resembling an Obama cult around Bernie Sanders. The "Berniebots" will brook no criticism of him, not even legitimate criticism. To these people, who are easily found in media comment sections, you're either totally in the bag for Bernie, or you're a traitor to the cause. Some progressives are describing the young black activists who interrupted Bernie as naive and rude. Some people are even accusing them of being agents provocateurs from the Clinton camp. Some of this "controversy" is also probably being totally made up by corporate sock and meat puppets and bored political horse-race reporters.

These are dangerous times in the Age of Political Correctness and corporate neoliberal propaganda. If we become too afraid to question and challenge our leaders and politicians, then we have failed in our jobs as engaged citizens. I think it is perfectly reasonable to support and praise and even donate to Bernie Sanders without putting all your eggs in one Bernie Basket. Call the guy out when he's wrong, applaud him when he's right, and live to tell the democratic tale. Our activism outside the realm of electoral politics is what counts in the long run.

To Bernie's credit, meanwhile, his team is reportedly taking the criticism of his gruffness at Netroots to heart. And unlike Hillary, he is not backing away from the crowds.

3. Criticism from the right. So far, this has largely consisted of right-wing outlets simply letting the New York Times do their job for them -- they simply steal the centrist swiftboating and run with it.  But Kevin Williamson of the conservative National Review has just written a zany column calling Sanders a "national socialist" --  as in Nazi. Bernie couldn't possibly be a real socialist, a L'Internationale, you see, because he is an America-firster. Williamson also disgracefully co-opted the already stale centrist false-equivalency talking point of comparing Sanders to Donald Trump. The Times' Nate Cohn should sue him for plagiarism.

 But, would I be a Bernie-hater if I said that I, too, am a little concerned about Sanders restricting his criticism of the corporate coup trade deals as being harmful only to American workers? I wish he would talk more about what they're doing to 40 cents-an-hour child laborers in Vietnam, or the suicidal wage slaves in Chinese FoxConn factories, or the imprisoned Walmart textile workers of  Bangladesh. (Go ahead, call me an idealist internationalist commie hippie purist from the Professional Left if you want to. I can take the criticism. And so, I suspect, can Bernie.)

But it's early days yet. Bernie is putting stuff in his stump speeches to gin up the enthusiasm. And the evils of globalization are being addressed more than adequately by Pope Francis. Bernie is a huge fan of the pope. And where there is pope, there is life.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What's the Matter With Kids Today?

Despite the alleged economic recovery, American children are just not getting with the feel-good public relations program. In the five years since the financial meltdown solidified the permanent wealth of the plutocrats, the child poverty rate in the One Indispensable Nation has been steadily creeping up. Twenty-three percent of all American citizens below the age of 18 now live in poverty. Unsurprisingly, it's worse for black children, nearly one-third of whom are now deemed to be officially poor.

Between 2008 and 2013, the actual number of poor children in the US increased from 13.2 million to 16.1 million, an increase of four full percentage points. The Annie P. Casey Foundation, which just released its Kids Count report, notes that one especially disturbing finding is that urban childhood poverty is now at the highest level since 1990. Statistically speaking, poor children from cities are more likely to drop out of school and develop behavior and emotional problems.

The authors found that although the employment rate for parents of poor children has improved somewhat, wages have not. Nor are parents who have dropped out of the workforce and stopped looking for jobs even counted in the statistics. The shift toward more low-wage, part-time and precarious employment has, in fact, been detrimental to children. They were better off when their parents were collecting the now-defunct  unemployment benefits than they are with parents working two or three part-time jobs, or driving for Uber with cars bought on high-interest credit.

Moreover, the child poverty stats in the report cover only the most desperate families of the USA. Taking into account that families need an income of at least twice the official federal poverty level in order to live comfortably, 45% of all American children can be said to be enduring a precarious existence.

An earlier report noted that even Greece, with its official Great Depression-worthy unemployment rate of 25%, is actually better off than the cities of Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Fresno, Memphis and Miami.

And the bipartisan slashing of the social safety net goes on and on with a vengeance. In just the past two years alone, Congress has cut the food stamp program by $13.7 billion. Long-term unemployment benefits for jobless parents are a thing of the past. As multimillionaire Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi so charmingly put it as she joined the War Against the Poor right before Christmas in 2013: "Embrace the suck."

At least Marie Antoinette is said to have told the peasants to just eat some cake and get on with their lives. All the American political aristocracy has to offer is more hot air and endless campaigning and a vague promise of help to only the "hard workers" out there. They mouth platitudes about "investing in" children so as to improve the lot of future generations. They say nothing about feeding them, and giving their parents a living wage and a decent job right now, this very minute.

As the late Eduardo Galeano wrote in Upside Down, "Day after day, children are denied the right to be children. The world treats rich kids as if they were money, teaching them to act the way money acts. The world treats poor kids as if they were garbage, to turn them into garbage. And those in the middle, neither rich nor poor, are chained to televisions and trained to live the life of prisoners."

And that is just the way the ruling class racketeers like it. If they ever read Dickens, they probably look upon Mr. Murdstone as a role model.

"We've fixed the place up special, even polished off your chains!"

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Insurance Company Executioners

If a stoned vigilante security guard can't quite succeed in killing a young black man with a shot to the back of the neck, then the predatory insurance cartel will be only too happy to finish the job.

They might as well take out the "protection" part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Because if you get sick or hurt in the commission, or vicinity, of what the government-subsidized Predatory Insurance Cartel (PIC, as in nit-picky) deems to be "illegal activity," it can and will deny payment of your medical bills. And it's all perfectly legal. PIC is judge, jury and executioner.

Private insurance subscribers can die, for all PIC cares.  If you happen to be employed at a no/low-benefit job, you're black, or you live in a state ( like Oklahoma) that has denied Medicaid expansion for the working poor, it seems like they're basically praying that you die, and die quickly.

The "illegal activity"of Monroe Bird III entailed making out with his girlfriend in the parking lot of his own Tulsa apartment complex last February. When security guard Ricky Leroy Stone approached the couple and demanded ID, the victim allegedly locked the doors and started to back out.  Stone claimed he shot Bird in self-defense through the rear window of the vehicle as the victim was backing up. Bird himself, rendered a quadriplegic from the shooting, had no memory of what occurred, but insisted he'd done nothing wrong.

Stone was never charged, claiming the standard "stand your ground" privileges of white guys who want to shoot black people.  Tulsa District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, in blaming the victim, said “Mr. Bird might have made choices that might have gone a different way if he had listened to the security guard and obeyed his instructions."

Never mind that blood tests later revealed pseudo-cop Stone to be stoned on marijuana, and that he was not actually a sworn police officer, and that Bird was under no obligation to obey him.  In Oklahoma, apparently, failure to obey a parking lot attendant can get you shot when you're legally parked while black. You made the "wrong choice" of living in an apartment complex guarded by a George Zimmerman clone. Too bad, so sad.

Of course, the story gets even worse
Three months later, as he lay in the hospital hooked to a ventilator, Mr. Bird’s insurance company declined to cover his medical bills. The reason? His injuries resulted from “illegal activity.”
Yet Mr. Bird was not convicted of any crime in connection with the incident. He was not even charged.
Without insurance, Mr. Bird’s family could not move him to a rehabilitation center specializing in spinal cord injuries. He was discharged from the hospital and died at home last month from a preventable complication often seen in paralyzed patients.
The complication was a pulmonary thromboembolism caused by a blood clot in his leg. Blood clots in the extremities are a common condition in paraplegics and quadriplegics. They can be avoided through physical therapy and skilled nursing, either in a rehab facility or through intensive in-home care. Bird was deemed to be deserving of neither. His care was left to his mother and grandmother.

Bird supposedly benefited from the much-touted PPACA clause which allows young people to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 28. Even so, his family is now left with more than $1 million in unpaid bills. Bird's insurance was through the plan of his stepfather, an employee of the elite and exclusive Southern Hills Country Club, where the application process alone costs members $40,000. You can just imagine how many black people (besides Tiger Woods) play golf there, and how many black people wait on white people there.

According to the New York Times, there are no statistics on how many Americans are denied insurance coverage based on the "illegal activity" clause in many policies. 
Insurers have long relied on allegations of illegal activity to deny coverage to patients injured in a variety of contexts, from traffic infractions to gun accidents. The judicial rationale is that “we don’t want to reward illegal activity,” she said.
In one court case, a union health plan denied the claims of a worker’s son who was injured while allegedly building a pipe bomb, Ms. Patterson (Crystal Patterson of the American Bar Association) noted. In another, an insurer declined to cover the medical expenses of a man who lost control of an uninsured, unregistered car while trying to pass another driver in a no-passing zone.
Courts have upheld the denials even when there were no convictions for illegal activity. The administrator of the policy can deny claims even when no criminal charges are filed, Ms. Patterson said.
Despite the alleged "protections" against denial of care based on pre-existing conditions, the PPACA affords no protections against any and all other forms of predation. You can still be denied coverage if you get sick, should some unelected, unaccountable, anonymous claims adjustor decide you are morally not entitled to it. You can have an insurance card and still be condemned to an unnecessary painful death. 

Black lives matter. Repeal the Stand Your Ground laws. And let's keep pushing for Single Payer health care.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Malpractice

Last week, a Michigan physician named Farid Fata was sentenced to 45 years in prison for prescribing unnecessary chemotherapy to hundreds of patients he had deliberately misdiagnosed with cancer. The motive was the usual one: pathological greed.

Four years ago this month, an American secretary of state named Hillary Clinton traveled to Greece to prescribe what she called "chemotherapy" to millions of otherwise healthy Greeks. She deliberately misdiagnosed their economic suffering at the hands of Eurozone leaders as a disease to be cured, paradoxically enough, by those same banksters and their partner in malpractice, the USA-centric International Monetary Fund. The motive for their toxic prescription of austerity was, and is, the usual one: pathological greed.

Even though Hillary Clinton's Rx has proved ultimately deadly -- both literally and figuratively -- she is living proof that the love of finance capital means never having to say you're sorry. Hillary, of course, isn't going to jail, or even being scorned by the Establishment for proclaiming that austerity is good medicine which fosters fiscal growth and healing. She is running for president. And she has a good chance of winning office, thanks to voter apathy and unlimited bankster money, and the GOP opposition being even more pathological than she is.

Her good friend Donald Trump has already served his own usefully idiotic purpose: that of being so vile that the other vile Republicans in the race are beginning to look vaguely, miraculously human. Hillary must run against someone who appears vaguely human -- otherwise, people might notice that this so-called democracy of ours is a big fat sham. 

The reason that I'm bringing up Hillary Clinton's relatively recent visit to Athens in July 2011 is because of the frenzied "apology war" currently being waged on her behalf by the usual liberal suspects and proxies. They're claiming that the 90s years of Clintonian right-wing neoliberism are so far in the distant past that it is patently unfair to blame her for the tragedies that her husband's malpractice (Wall Street deregulation, his criminalization of poverty via welfare "reform", his embrace of globalization/NAFTA) have spawned in the interim. Now that she is verbally repudiating "Third Way" centrism in her stump speeches, we are supposed to believe that she has evolved into the progressive she has always wanted to be. The ultimate proof of her good intentions, supposedly, is in The Speech she gave last week, vaguely and feebly echoing Elizabeth Warren's populism. (see my previous post, The Extreme Centrism of HC.)

But four years ago -- seems like only yesterday because essentially, it was  -- Hillary Clinton, like a reanimated Maggie Thatcher, was lecturing the world on the therapeutic benefits of free market unregulated capitalism and the necessity of punishing "ordinary" people with toxic chemo. She promised the austerity cure, yet the disease of wealth inequality spread.

It gets even worse. When Hillary Clinton traveled to Athens only four years ago this month, she also congratulated the unpopular Greek government for preventing a ship called The Audacity of Hope from joining the humanitarian aid flotilla bound for Gaza, then under cruel lock-down by the Israeli government. As people demonstrated in the streets against neoliberalism, she congratulated the unpopular Greek government for joining her misbegotten air war on Libya, even as the Troika's imposition of economic martial law on ordinary citizens sent them reeling. Belt-tightening orders from non-elected banksters did not prevent NATO (aka the American War-for-Profit Industry) from ordering Greece to use its American-made weaponry get involved in Hillary's war on Libya while Greek citizens were going without food and medicine.

Bill Clinton felt your pain. Hillary Clinton, just four short years ago, wanted the pain to be felt -- with a vengeance. From her July 2011 press con with former Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis:

The steps ahead will not, they cannot, be pain-free, but there is a path forward to resolve Greece’s economic stability and to restore Greece’s economic strength. I have faith in the resilience of the Greek people and I applaud the Greek Government on its willingness to take these difficult steps. Greece has inspired the world before, and I have every confidence that you are doing so again. And as you (addressing her Greek foreign minister counterpart) do what you must to bring your economy back to health, you will have the full support of the United States.....

 We believe that the recent legislation (another bailout for Eurozone banks and the global investor class predicated on austerity for working people) that was passed will make Greece more competitive, will make Greece more business-friendly. We think that is essential for the kind of growth and recovery that is expected in the 21st century when businesses can go anywhere in the world and capital can follow. We think that will provide a firm financial footing on which Greece will be able increasingly to attract businesses and create the jobs that Stavros said are absolutely important for the Greek people. Because businesses seek consistent, predictable regulatory and taxation regimes. Investors seek a level playing field. They expect transparency, streamlined procedures, protection of commercial and intellectual property rights, effective contract enforcement, all of which was part of your reform package.
Therefore, I am not here to in any way downplay the immediate challenges, because they are real, but I am here to say that we believe strongly that this will give Greece a very strong economy going forward. There are lots of analogies – having to take the strong medicine that tastes terrible when it goes down and you wish you didn’t have to, or the chemotherapy to get rid of the cancer. There are all kinds of analogies. But the bottom line is this is the best approach and we strongly support it.
"Hmm... I wonder if our chemo line will fit in that bottom?"

How is the Neoliberal Project which Hill and Bill helped rev up into overdrive back in the roaring 90s any less evil than the sadistic project of the gruesome Michigan cancer doc? Farid Fata left his patients suffering from brittle bones and fried organs...  and in some cases, he literally killed them. The neoliberal chemo inflicted by Hillary Clinton and her cohort has left Greece with an unemployment rate worse than that of the Great Depression, an increase in suicides and premature deaths due to lack of proper medication, and the transformation of a sovereign nation into a colonial client state run by an organized crime cabal of bankers and technocrats. 

Where's the justice?

Not only is Hillary able to transform herself into a progressive heroine with the help of the fawning corporate media owned by the same oligarchs that own her, but her family's slush fund charity actually continues to accept money from a couple of Greece's (and the world's) richest oligarchs. They are shipping and steel magnate (and UBS banking official) Theodore Angelopoulis and his lovely wife Gianna, Greece's "ambassador at large." 

The Theodopoulis' Super-yacht Okto
Like Hillary, Gianna "evolved," once having served as a right-wing member of Parliament, but now purporting to be a born-again afficionada of the Syriza political establishment. Gianna had been hoping to host the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) for its annual confab in Athens this spring, but the event was cancelled out of concern for Hillary's election chances.

These people are not stupid. They know they're flim-flam artists who need to hide their fraud during campaign season. They know full well that austerity is not a growth industry for anyone but the plutocrats.

Gianna recently ran a contest through the CGI for suffering Greek youth. Among the "entrepreneurial" winning entries were a website curating freebies for unemployed young people, and a scheme for delivering discarded restaurant food to the hungry. While apparently not espousing the idea that Greek oligarchs actually pay their back taxes out of their bloated offshore bank accounts, or that her family bail out Greek working people, Gianna has donated millions to the Clintons themselves. She has a website called, appropriately enough, My Greek Drama. (And not to be outdone is a site devoted to her hubby's yachts.)  Rumor has it that she would like to run for president of Greece someday, under a new Clinton-inspired party called the Democratic Party.

Go figure.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Barack in the Big House

The use of a real prison in on-location filming of blockbuster Netflix series Orange is the New Black must have inspired Barack Obama's own savvy media shop. The president himself now has a starring role in his very own prison-based special. He traveled all the way to the federal pen in El Reno, Oklahoma to play the part of celebrity chaplain-for-a-day.

It helps that Alyssa Mastromonaco, the new COO of VICE ( the media company filming the documentary) is former deputy chief of staff for strategy in the Obama administration. Barry didn't even have to audition for the part of earnest concern-trolling mentor to the incarcerated.

It's all part of his latest public relations gimmick --  feigning concern for mainly black, mainly male, inmates locked up in the War on Drugs. Out of more than 5,000 federal inmates currently serving long terms for non-violent, crack-cocaine drug convictions, Obama recently commuted the sentences of a mere 46 of them to show what a caring guy he is. (And what a coincidence that one of them just happens to be the mother of a millionaire star athlete.) The other 4,950 or so, sentenced before a 2010 change in the law forbade such draconian prison terms, will continue to rot in prison. As a matter of fact, the administration successfully appealed a federal court ruling that would have allowed those 4,950 to challenge their sentences.  Obama continues to wage his "war on drugs" while he cynically bestows the very occasional symbolic favor for his own legacy-burnishing purposes.

 It was only this past week, for instance, that the FBI raided a medical marijuana operation on Indian tribal land in California. Obama still means business.

That he chose Oklahoma as the venue of his star turn is all the more cynical, given that it was the recent botched executions in that same state which led to the failed Supreme Court challenge to the death penalty this year. Obama refused to get involved in that case, refused to budge from his longstanding support of capital punishment. When the Court ruled against the plaintiffs, who claimed that the use of untested tranquillizers for executions amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, the complicit mass media were mainly silent on Obama's own passive-aggressive role in the case.

It was last fall, also cynically enough, that the Obama Labor Department summarily shut down the Treasure Lake Job Corps training site in nearby Indiahoma. Job Corps, a direct offshoot of FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps, exists for the express purpose of keeping young people out of places like El Reno. Obama has cut funding for Job Corps in each succeeding year of his tenure, thus greasing the skids for closures based on "inefficiencies" and "poor performance" that are the precise, planned results of his draconian cuts. As I wrote last year, 
Obama has proposed a permanent reduction in the Job Corps' "slot capacity" in his 2015 budget. Translated from Orwellian Newspeak, this means that about 10,000 at-risk youths will be left with no place to go. Since Job Corps centers feed and house participants as well as train them for careers, this will mean 10,000 more at-risk youths on the streets in such dystopian locales as Chicago and Ferguson.
The Labor Department report actually pointed to the need for at-risk youths to share the sacrifice in order to boost America's "global competitiveness." Apparently, one way that they can help American innovation is to move from Job Corps sites into privatized prisons, which by Congressional fiat must maintain a steady population of inmates in order to remain "competitive."

Thankfully, the medium security El Reno facility is not yet privatized and also doesn't (directly) kill people, as does the nearby state penitentiary in McAlester, site of the horrific makeshift executions.

 After an off-label drug cocktail led to the prolonged agonizing deaths of three convicted murderers, Obama could have issued a moratorium on the federal death penalty as a signal of his disgust. He could have used his bully pulpit to inspire the 36 states currently grappling with their own capital punishment laws to repeal them and thus gain humanistic parity with the rest of the advanced world. He could have dispatched his solicitor general to the Supreme Court to argue on behalf of the plaintiffs in the case, perhaps influencing the decision.

But he preferred not to. The Drone President ("I'm really good at killing people") really likes the death penalty, even though a poll conducted by Lake Research Partners shows that two-thirds of Americans favor life in prison, with no possibility of parole, for convicted murderers.

Although Obama did order former Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an "investigation" of death penalty policies last fall, the administration later wimped out for the usual craven political reasons:
Advocates in particular worried that having Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder as the faces of the anti-death penalty movement would stoke conservative support for capital punishment at a time when some libertarian-minded Republicans, Christian conservatives and liberal Democrats appeared to be finding common ground in opposition to it.
One of Obama's Harvard law professors opined that the president needs to be "pushed" into changing his tune on the death penalty, much as he was forced to evolve on marriage equality. So I guess only two thirds of the public not wanting to kill prisoners is still not enough for him.

Although whites on death row outnumber blacks, 55.5% to 34.7%, more than 75% of actual executions are performed on murderers of white people. Only 15% of executions carried out are for the murders of black people. This is despite the fact that 50% of murder victims are black. The racial identity of the victim is the determining factor in who gets put to death in America.

But these realities took a back seat in the media coverage, which concentrated heavily on the made-for-TV optics of a handful of Confederate flag-waving yahoos heckling Obama's armored motorcade as he arrived in Oklahoma for his combination Democratic fundraiser/prison gig. As his supporters go into outrage mode over the first African-American president being exposed to such ugly racist symbolism, Obama himself becomes magically exempt from his own complicity in the ever-burgeoning punishing/exterminating state. He is cosmetically and hypocritically able to establish solidarity with his own victims. He couldn't have asked for a better propaganda coup. The right-wing hate machine paradoxically advantages him, much as it has advantaged Bill and Hillary Clinton over the years. It tends to silence the legitimate criticism.

The VICE documentary in which he stars will no doubt be playing in an endless loop at his Chicago library shrine, virtually revising history as it paints Obama as a hero to the oppressed rather than the oppressor of such heroic prisoners as Chelsea Manning and other victims of his war on whistleblowers, and his war on poor people in general. Forty-six sentence commutations do not a criminal justice overhaul make. Not by a long shot.

This entry for the Obama library design contest unfortunately only got an honorable mention (it was judged distinguished, yet disturbing) probably because it adheres a little too closely to the president's real legacy:

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Extreme Centrism of Hillary Clinton

Despite a speech being touted as "sweeping" and populist, Hillary Clinton's ingrained market-based approach to governance kept shining through like high beam headlights aimed at the yellow line in the middle of the road.

 She outlined her economic agenda on Monday in a talk at the carefully chosen progressive bastion known as the New School.

Reciting the standard litany of ills -- erosion of the middle class due to globalization, crushing student debt, increasing wealth disparity, lack of child care for working mothers, and Wall Street malfeasance --  she managed to totally ignore how Clintonian neoliberal policies themselves accelerated our race to the bottom and contributed to the pain of what she calls "everyday Americans."  Hillary Clinton can deny reality every bit as glibly as her fellow neolibs and neocons across the aisle:
“Twice now in the past 20 years, a Democratic president has had to come in and clean up the mess. I think the results speak for themselves.
“Under President Clinton – I like the sound of that - America saw the longest peacetime expansion in history … nearly 23 million jobs… a balanced budget and a surplus for the future. And most importantly, incomes rose across the board, not just for those already at the top.

Random Thoughts on Greece

The truth is finally out there: the German hegemon is a Frankenstein monster sewn together with the body parts of every Batman and James Bond villain ever dreamed up by a Hollywood nightmare factory.  Now that Angela Merkel and her henchman Wolfgang Schauble have turned Greece into a German colony, with global hedge funds and too-big-to fail banks its de facto occupying force, will this tiny country now be officially known as Griechenland? Will the Acropolis be transformed into the latest Goldman Sachs bank branch?

The Neoliberal Monster: Die Slowly or Die Quickly, Just Surrender Already

Puppetized Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is either being hailed as a steely pragmatic operator, pitied as a pathetic beaten dog, or damned as a rich phony who brought a latte to a knife fight.

The New York Times is certainly confused. Juxtaposed with a stunning front-page photo of a starving woman collapsed on the street is a Panglossian, even cheery, article about Greeks sipping their lattes and waxing rueful-to-hopeful:
Jubilation, almost immediately followed by wariness, filled the streets as Greeks learned of the agreement in Brussels early Monday.
Many people were having their midmorning cafe frappĂ©, while others were standing in the ubiquitous bank lines, as the news spread that after a week of agony — a tense referendum, sparring political rallies, bank closings — and a weekend of all-nighters in the Greek Parliament and among the eurozone leaders, a deal to address the country’s debt crisis and keep it in the eurozone had been reached.
(Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press)

 Wait till they find out that they can't use their dwindling Euros to make online purchases any more, and the wariness will escalate faster than they can order a double latte or collapse on the street from illness or hunger. Will Starbucks establish a concession next door to the Goldman Sachs Acropolis? Will American fast food multinationals start a greedwashing campaign urging euro-an-hour baristas to tell customers to embrace the multicultural suck as they help drive locally-owned tavernas out of business?

 This is a nation in numbed shock. Is it proper even to call it a nation any more?  It's sort of a hybrid between a failed state and ripe, paralyzed prey for Romneyesque vulture capitalists. Think of Greece as a Staples chain with a lot of soon-to-be privatized beaches for the pleasure of the oligarchs.

Given that the marathon negotiating session leading to the deal has been likened to a mental waterboarding of Tsipras, I wonder if the corrupt American Psychological Association was brought in as an enhanced sadism technical adviser. You really have to hand it to Tsipras, though: he exhibited no outward, physical signs of cracking as he capitulated to the demands of the global oligarchy. 

Meanwhile, more people are starting to talk about the Goldman Sachs connection. MoveOn, that erstwhile smarmy veal pen for Democrats, is even starting an ad campaign lambasting Wall Street's role in the manufactured Greek crisis. Robert Reich writes,
People seem to forget that the Greek debt crisis—which is becoming a European and even possibly a world economic crisis—grew out of a deal with Goldman Sachs, engineered by Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein.
Several years ago, Blankfein and his Goldman team helped Greece hide the true extent of its debt—and in the process almost doubled it. When the first debt deal was struck in 2001, Greece owed about 600 million euros ($793 million) more than the 2.8 billion euros it had borrowed. Goldman then cooked up an off-the-books derivative for Greece that disguised the shortfall but increased the government’s losses to 5.1 billion euros.
Reich didn't mention that Hillary Clinton's son-in-law, a Goldman alum, is in the cabal of hedge fund predators which stands to profit from the most recent bailout (of creditors and investors, not ordinary Greek citizens.) He didn't mention that Hillary Clinton has collected huge speaking fees from Goldman or that her family's slush fund charity has humanized Blankfein as an honored "thought leader."

Hillary was slated to deliver her own populist economic manifesto today, albeit with little to no mention of either Wall Street or the economic coup against Greece. I'll write more about her verbiage later.

Lloyd and Hillary Share a Tender Cackle