Thursday, July 23, 2020

Bring Out Your Canceled Dead

Two more iconic American corpses have bitten the dust this week. Environmentalist John Muir, father of the national park system and founder of the Sierra Club, and  Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, are the latest high-profile casualties of the Cancel Culture Craze that is sweeping the nation as virulently as Covid-19.

The Sierra Club officially disowned Muir because he was a racist prone to uttering the N word. Planned Parenthood of New York is removing Sanger's name from its clinic because she was an avowed eugenicist who was also notorious for canoodling with the KKK back in the day.

The Cancel Culture Club (CCC) has more than one criterion for membership.

President Woodrow Wilson, for example, was canceled earlier this summer because he was both a racist who uttered the N word and a eugenicist who wanted to cull Blacks, Browns, Asians, Poor White Trash and just about everyone that his entitled class deemed unworthy of inclusion in American society. The recent wokeness by Princeton University regarding its erstwhile hero makes Joe Biden's  own recent claim that Donald Trump is the first racist president all the more baffling.
"The way he deals with people based on the colour of their skin, their national origin, where they’re from, is absolutely sickening,” the former vice president said. “No sitting president has ever done this. Never, never, never. No Republican president has done this. No Democratic president. We’ve had racists, and they’ve existed. They’ve tried to get elected president. He’s the first one that has.”
Given his authorship of the Crime Bill, which has jailed Black people so disproportionately as to cause their incarceration numbers to exceed the number of slaves prior to the Civil War, and given his friendship with such white supremacist politicians as Jesse Helms and James Eastland, you almost wonder whether Biden is miffed because Trump demotes him to a sloppy second in the racist presidential sweepstakes.

To be fair, though, Biden is likely just being his same old befuddled self. But it is certainly strange that the establishment media is not questioning Biden's cognitive status as vociferously as it is hounding Trump over his.  What president hasn't been racist? Even FDR made a deal with Southern Democrats to bar Black workers from the Social Security program in order to get it passed in Congress. Even Barack Obama, our first Black president, referred to Black protesters reacting to the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore as "thugs" as he passive-aggressively oversaw the worsening of the economic plights of Black communities during his eight-year stay in the White House. This doesn't even factor in the de facto racism of record deportations and droning dark-skinned people to death in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and other "tribal" areas. Come on, man.

Donald Trump, for his own part, reacted to Biden's racism accusations in his usual modest fashion:
“I’ve done more for Black Americans than anybody with the possible of exception of Abraham Lincoln. Nobody has even been close.”
Abe Lincoln, for his own part, was also reputed to regularly utter the N word in conversation. He also seriously considered deporting newly freed slaves back to Africa or relocating them to a special colony in Panama, telling a quintet of Black leaders he invited to the White House just before his death that he believed "the African race suffered greatly by living among us, while ours suffers from your presence." 

Well, at least he didn't use the term "shithole countries" as Trump so racistly did.

Conservative and liberal pundit-apologists alike love to make excuses for their beloved figures whenever they're caught behaving or talking badly, whether pre- or postmortem: "It's complicated." Or its close relative: "It was a different time."

But back to Margaret Sanger. Historian Edwin Black writes in "War Against the Weak" that Planned Parenthood has always been open about her history in the eugenics movement, which swept the nation in the early 20th more virulently than Cancel Culture is in the 21st. It was only when Nazi Germany co-opted its pseudo-scientific cant and exterminated six million Jews that  the "progressive" eugenicists of the USA decided that it was probably best to shut up about culling undesirables.

When the pre-woke New York Times reviewed Black's book in 2003, though, it was dismissive of his "muckraking" on the rich and powerful proponents of the eugenics movement. Even though the Rockefeller Foundation funded three eugenics laboratories in Nazi Germany, reviewer Daniel Kevles wrote, it was unfair to claim that Hitler was inspired by such well-meaning American plutocrats, who really, really hated Nazism. Plus, it is patently unfair to single out the wealthy in the U.S. as the only ones desirous of a master race. The middle class was fully on board with eugenics, too. It was the zeitgeist, stupid! Mistakes were made. They meant well. Nobody could ever have predicted....

Meet the new Zeitgeist, a/k/a Cancel Culture, during the reign of President Hitler Trump.

So I'm curious. If you're going to cancel Margaret Sanger, then shouldn't you also cancel Andrew Carnegie, whose vast fortune provided the seed money for the Cold Spring Harbor eugenics research laboratory on Long Island? You might want to change the name of Carnegie Hall, Carnegie-Mellon University, the Carnegie Art Museum, and the Carnegie Foundation for Peace (Since the latter is a think tank funded by the "defense" industry for purposes of never-ending war and surveillance, its disbandment might not be such a bad idea.)

The aforementioned Rockefellers were also gung-ho eugenicists. Does that mean that we should change the name of Rockefeller Center and cancel the continued streaming of 30 Rock reruns, and boycott NBC? (again, not a bad idea, given that its executives reportedly are keeping The Apprentice  outtakes of Donald Trump uttering the N word under lock and key.)

To prove their sincerity, the newly woke should cancel Nazi sympathizer Henry Ford by changing the name of his iconic car company right this very minute. But why stop there? Then we should get rid of Ford's overpaid CEO and investors, and let the workers take over ownership and production - once there's a vaccine, that is.

 Above all, we should cancel the whole idea of forcing people to go back to work before it is safe for them to do so. 

It has now reached the farcical point that the mere questioning of Cancel Culture will get you canceled.

Writers are so afraid of being called racist or misogynistic that they're shutting up and self-censoring to avoid giving offense and possibly losing their livelihoods along with their reputations. There is a distinct McCarthyesque stench to the self-righteous Cancel Culture Club.

Just as the original McCarthy era architects destroyed the New Deal and solidified social and economic inequalities by inventing the Communist threat, so too are a new generation of reactionary neoliberals and neocons engaging in Virtue Signalling Gone Wild as the whole capitalistic framework of oppression and legalized corruption collapses around them - a collapse hastened by Covid-19. Against all reason, the Cancelers are of the same breed (sorry, eugenicists!) as those promulgating the various manifestations of Russiagate. They need to constantly manufacture outside enemies to hide the fact that they are the enemy.

The hard right side of the ruling oligarchy, exemplified by Trump, decries the tearing down of  Confederate statues and the disrespect shown by "terroristic" citizens of their militarized domestic police forces. The centrist, or soft-right, side, exemplified by Joe Biden's corporate Democrats and Lincoln Project Republicans, points the finger of racism at Trump while they themselves tacitly reinforce endemic racism through, among other things, refusing to entertain any discussion of Medicare For All during a pandemic which is disproportionately killing Black and Brown people. They reinforce global racism by giving Trump even more money that he wants or needs in order to continue oppressing and assaulting people both at home and abroad with tear gas, bombs, drones, and mob-style looting and intimidation.

With any luck, and with a lot of help from the activists and rabble rousers now out on the streets, the bickering oligarchs will cancel each other out before Covid-19 and climate change cancel out the rest of humanity.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Donald Trump's Death Wish

No, he doesn't want to literally die, despite months of going maskless in public and a whole sedentary lifetime's worth of poor eating habits. Trump reminds me of a reanimated Megatherium, the giant bipedal ground sloth the size of an elephant that plodded the earth for more than a million years mindlessly gobbling up whole forests before it was finally hunted to extinction by the smarter, smaller animals known as humans. Trump the sloth has become woke enough to lumber forth from his Coronavirus hibernation cave to deflect the blame for the country's collapse in some new directions - as in, Portland, Oregon and maybe even a city near you.

 At the rate we're going, Homo sapiens will lucky to survive as earth's dominant species for even one more decade. And for everybody regretting how old they're getting and how they won't be around to see how it all ends, please do not give up hope yet. Try to hang on just a bit longer.

Donald Trump, for his own clumsy part, is  grasping at straws in an orgy of hope for his own political survival. Perhaps experiencing a primordial genetic memory of the Pleistocene's mass extinction event, our MAGA-therium president has taken to playing Charles Bronson in the 1974 mega-hit Death Wish. In Trump's mind, the cinematic thugs and muggers of the 70s are disguised as peaceful protesters demonstrating against police brutality and other capitalistic depredations, like evictions and starvation wages.

Bronson had portrayed Paul Kersey, an architect who goes on a revenge nationwide killing spree after his wife is murdered and his daughter raped by a trio of home invaders. The film roughly coincided with Trump's own rise to power in a near-bankrupt New York City, which was experiencing its own crime wave at the time. As chronicled in the book "Fear City," it was Wall Street's bond vigilantes who at the dawn of the neoliberal era, led the charge for cuts to social programs, public services and the destruction of labor unions. The corrupt New York political machine welcomed Trump, the brash young tycoon, with open arms because of his magnetic power to draw other movers and shakers to the Big Apple and to make all that creative destruction such good, grisly tabloid fun.

His niece Mary Trump writes of the media's essential role in exploiting Trumpism in "Too Much And Never Enough":

"In the 1970s, after my grandfather had already been preferring and promoting Donald for years, the New York media picked up the baton and began disseminating Donald's unsubstantiated hype. In the 1980s, the banks joined in when they began to fund his ventures. Their willingness (and then their need) to foster his increasingly unfounded claims to success hung on their hopes of recouping their losses."

The exploitative Death Wish vigilante film was a blockbuster nationwide hit, grossing more than $20 million for its producers and distributors, and spawning eight sequels as well as a more blatantly racist, alt-right 2018 remake starring Bruce Willis - who bears a startling resemblance to Trump himself on the DVD cover:

 Vincent Canby's New York Times review of the original movie was scathing:

(Director)Paul Kersey describes his actions in the film as “the good old American custom of self‐defense” (as once practiced against the Indians?) and the movie clearly agrees. In other words, there's nothing wrong with this country today that giving guns to all the right people wouldn't cure. Who are the right people? White middle‐class maniacs. For anyone with two brain cells to rub together that might be a tough question, but not for “Death Wish.”...
 It was, however, a stroke of genius to cast Charles Bronson in the unlikely role of an upper middle‐class New York liberal who sees the light. Almost any other actor I can think of would probably look very sheepish under the circumstances. Not Bronson, who seems no more capable of intellectual activity than a very old, very tired circus bear. It's enough that he is able to walk around on his hind legs and occasionally, shoot a gun.
Trump is certainly no Charles Bronson. Despite his resemblance to a tired old circus bear (or an extinct circus Megatherium) our aged sloth-president is cravenly proxifying his vigilantism by sending camouflaged Border Patrol/ICE thugs to Portland (and later maybe to Detroit, Chicago and New York City) in his stead, to kidnap citizens off the streets when not actually assaulting them with deadly weapons.

Since the 1974 film resonated so strongly with the white suburban audience  that Trump relies upon to win re-election, he perhaps hopes that the paranoid American mindset has not gone completely extinct in this New Age of Wokeness. Maybe he can make liberals see the light after all. Because, how fast can human beings really evolve from fear and loathing of The Other into solidarity utopia?

Canby's Death Wish review can be read as a preternatural forecast of the Trump White House itself:

It's a tackily made melodrama but it so cannily orchestrates the audience's responses that it can appeal to law‐and‐order fanatics, sadists, muggers, club women, fathers, older sisters, masochists, policemen, politicians, and, it seems, a number of film critics. Impartially. Its message, simply put, is: KILL. TRY IT. YOU'LL LIKE IT.
Donald Trump thus tackily invited the courtier establishment media into his inner sanctum to offer his own self-review of the Remake, the Sequel, the never-ending nostalgia for the 70s and bleeding heart liberalism turned on its head:
“I’m going to do something — that, I can tell you,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “Because we’re not going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these — Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats.”
 The president portrayed the nation’s cities as out of control. “Look at what’s going on — all run by Democrats, all run by very liberal Democrats. All run, really, by radical left,” Mr. Trump said. He added: “If Biden got in, that would be true for the country. The whole country would go to hell. And we’re not going to let it go to hell.”
That, of course, is being unfair to Joe Biden, who for most of his adult life has acted out his own inner Charles Bronson to Oscar-worthy perfection. He arrived in the U.S. Senate in 1973, just before that the influential Death Wish movie was released to packed audiences throughout the country. His Bronsonian zeitgest has lasted through all eight sequels and all of the nearly 50 years of his political career. His 1993 Senate floor rant promoting the crime bill even included Hollywood imagery of "My wife, my daughter" being victimized by sociopathic predators.

With Biden's history of attacking Republicans from the right on their law and order bona fides, you can sort of understand Trump's recent one-upmanship, both in words and terrifying authoritarian actions.

As the New York Times reported last year (when the bumbling Biden's chances for the nomination seemed tenuous):

In 1989, with the violent crime rate continuing to rise as it had since the 1970s, Mr. Biden lamented that the Republican president, George H. W. Bush, was not doing enough to put “violent thugs” in prison. In 1993, he warned of “predators on our streets.” And in a 1994 Senate floor speech, he likened himself to another Republican president: “Every time Richard Nixon, when he was running in 1972, would say, ‘Law and order,’ the Democratic match or response was, ‘Law and order with justice’ — whatever that meant. And I would say, ‘Lock the S.O.B.s up.’”
Fast forward to 2020, and Biden boasts that he has narrowed his vice presidential beauty contest to four lucky Black finalists as he fights to end "systemic racism." He lumps Black women into one monolithic group that has "supported me my entire political career. I've been loyal to them and they've been loyal to me."

No wonder that MAGA-therian Man, under constant siege for hiding behind his own harem of work-wives and for demanding and getting loyalty from his sycophantic underlings, is going nuts. His remaining brain cells must be rubbing themselves together into a frenzy.

I Am Being Treated So Unfairly!

As is usual during these internecine oligarchic battles, the average Joes and Janes of Exceptional America end up being the collateral damage as we await the extinction of the corrupt two-party system and fight against our assigned status as aliens in our own land.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Democratic Health Care Plan Is a Gift to Predatory Insurers

There's an old saying in vampire lore that if you don't want to get bitten, then don't let the bloodsuckers in.

The Democrats just invited another vampire in.

 The "task force" created by presumptive nominee Joe Biden and his good friend Bernie Sanders in order to coat the party's corporate agenda with that all-important "unity gloss" has just released its aspirational agenda to much media fanfare.

"It's the clearest sign yet that the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic Party are trying to unite far more than they did in 2016," gushed the New York Times article lauding the "six takeaways" that prove beyond any doubt that progressives are the big winners of some very tasty crumbs and should be properly bedazzled by comity in high places.

This narrative is being spun despite the fact that Medicare For All has officially been declared D.O.A. right in the middle of the pandemic.  Even if the Democrats achieve another super-majority in 2021, the best of all possible worlds will stop at a public option, lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60, and maybe throwing in some dental and hearing aid coverage for the lucky winners.

The Task Force's answer to the abjectly failed United States policy of tying people's health insurance to their employment is to raise US health care costs to astronomical new levels by subsidizing the private insurance policies of the tens of millions of workers thrown out of their jobs by Covid-19. The insurance companies, which have already posted record profits this year because people are too afraid of catching the virus to seek medical care, and because hospitals have cancelled elective surgeries and other costly procedures, stand to become even richer during a Biden administration.

Now, about the Dems inviting the vampire in. Covered by the usual dark cloak of subterfuge, the blood-sucking anti-Single Payer insurance lobby managed to get its own seat at the Task Force's health policy table - which, just like a spider, is comprised of eight members.

The invitee was one Chris Jennings, a fellow of the corporate think tank ominously known as the Bipartisan Policy Center.  BPP's current head honcho and co-founder is notorious insurance industry lobbyist Tom Daschle. Jennings, a veteran of the both the Clinton and Obama administrations, also runs his own boutique consulting firm which advises for-profit health care systems and their various "stakeholders."

If the Dems have anything to say about it, these ravenous profiteers will never actually see the sharp end of the stake themselves.

Jennings' website brags that "he has consistently worked to develop administrative, legislative, and private sector policies/interventions to ensure better stewardship of and a greater return on investment on the nation’s nearly $3 trillion investment in health care."

It's therefore perfectly natural that the health care section of the Biden-Sanders Task Force would precede its prescriptions with showering praise on the Affordable Care Act. If it were not for Trump and those nasty old Republicans, we would be even closer to the ultimate goal of affordable, for-profit health care for everybody!

"Democrats will always fight to save Americans’ lives by making it easier and more affordable to go to the doctor, get prescription medicines, and access preventive testing and treatments. Our policy agenda is designed to produce real results for the American people—not hollow platitudes," the eight members in thrall to the Bipartisan Policy Lobby assure us in platitudes that are not hollow at all, but filled to the absolute brim with wads and gobs of the usual neoliberal stuffing.

How do you substitute "access" for guaranteed care that is free at the point of entry? Let us count the ways. The apparent task of the Task Force is to use the word Access over and over again in hopes of numbing us to the word's nothingness as effectively as the Trump administration is openly striving to numb us to the daily nightmare of millions of people succumbing to Covid-19.
For people who risk losing their insurance coverage if they lose their jobs in this pandemic, Democrats believe the federal government should pick up 100 percent of the tab for COBRA insurance, which keeps people on their employer-sponsored plans. For those who are still unemployed or do not have access to employer-sponsored health care when their COBRA eligibility period expires and are eligible for premium-free coverage, we will take action to automatically roll them over to other coverage options, so they do not experience any gap in health care. We will also re-open the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, even outside of the normal open enrollment season, and expand subsidies to make it easier for people to buy coverage.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, we must never lose our status as consumers of health care product. Even on our death-beds and even to our dying breaths, we must never forget the neoliberal mantra of "but how am I going to pay for that?"
Democrats will also make available on the marketplace a platinum-level, federally administered health insurance option with low fees and no deductibles, so that everyone will have access to this high-quality, low-cost plan. Low-income Americans will be automatically enrolled in this federally-administered option at zero cost to them. We will keep these emergency measures in place until the pandemic ends and unemployment falls significantly. And should the United States find itself in another pandemic or severe economic downturn in the future, these protections will again be made automatically available, so Americans are never again left to fend for themselves in times of crisis.
So  even if you manage to recover from Covid-19 but later come down with cancer or another life-endangering disease, you will immediately revert back to desperate "but how am I going to pay for that!" mode. Platinum is expensive and insurance executives and private equity moguls have to profit so as to afford their yachts and jets.

As if to bipartisanly prove that Republicans have no corner on the prevarication market, the Democratic Task Masters of the Universe proffer this nonsense:
Democrats believe we need to protect, strengthen, and build upon our bedrock health care programs, including the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veterans Affairs system. Private insurers need real competition to ensure they have incentive to provide affordable, quality coverage to every American. 
 Notwithstanding that the public option, rather than advocacy for Single Payer, is negotiating from a starting point of weakness, such a plan would in no way give private insurers the incentive to do right by Americans. Just the opposite, in fact : a public option would absolve private insurers from paying for coverage for the sickest among us. This might reduce premiums for a time, but it would do nothing to drive down costs. The public option would be just one more subsidy for Aetna, Blue Cross and United Health, given that the bulk of their paying customers would now be in the healthy, low-risk pool.

To be fair, there are indeed faint echoes of Bernie Sanders's voice here and there within the Task Force report. An example that might have come straight out of his campaign stump speech:
Too many Americans struggle to afford the prescription drugs they need to get or stay healthy. No American should find themselves foregoing or rationing medications because they can’t afford to pay—especially when taxpayers’ money underwrites the research and development of many prescription drugs in the first place. Democrats will take aggressive action to ensure that Americans do not pay more for prescription drugs than people in other advanced economies. We will empower Medicare to at last be able to negotiate prescription drug prices for all public and private purchasers—for families and businesses, as well as older Americans—no matter where they get their coverage. We will also ensure and enforce that the price of brand-name and outlier generic drugs cannot rise faster than the inflation rate. We will cap out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors, and ensure that effective treatments for chronic health conditions are available at little or no cost. 
But again, the emphasis is on purchasing power, not on the right to receive health care. We'll still pay through the nose, but the rate at which we pay through the nose will be slowed down a tad under Democrats. Freedom's just another word for capitalism having nothing left to lose, what with a whole dying world to keep on exploiting. 

It's a good thing that copyright laws do not apply to book titles. Mary Trump's ballyhooed "Too Much Is Never Enough" takedown of her Uncle Donald is already the veritable motto of bloodsucking capitalism itself.

Trump is just the symptom. Cutting him out in November might ease the pain for a minute, but the cure for what ails us will never come from a neoliberal restoration of corporate Democrats.

Bernie Sanders claiming that Joe Biden "wants to be the most progressive president ince FDR" is like the Nobel Committee giving Droner-in-Chief Barack Obama its Peace Prize. It's not only purely aspirational, it's downright delusional.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Plutocrats, Platitudes and Pitchforks

Even an unemployed whiz kid ex-mayor has to eat. Therefore, former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is charging some very big bucks for Folks to go online on July 16th to hear him yuk it up with Hillary Clinton.

Fifty dollars will only allow you to eavesdrop on At Home With Hillary and Pete. But if you fork over $2,500, you can then advance to Virtual Host status, and Hill and Pete will actually talk back to - or at least at - you. The duo's respective PACs (Onward Together for Clinton and Win The Era for Buttigieg) will then split the ticket sales.

Pete vows that he will use his share of the take to "replace the current politics and do away with the division and cruelty that have characterized the Trump era and also ensure we have strong leaders at every level of government."

To obtain access to the specific ways in which Pete will accomplish this task while not running for or holding any public office  and exerting no influence on public policy whatsoever, we are taken to his website, called (what else) Win the Era. Now, if that name sounds all too creepily similar to Barack Obama's first term Win the Future head-fake designed to make the foreclosed, the evicted and the downsized believe that austerity was good for them while the rich only got obscenely richer, then please just relax. "Future" is irritatingly gauzy, while "Era" is irritatingly grandiose. They are different, yet ever so unique forms of the same neoliberal jargon.  The use of the word "win" is practically required so as to hammer home the point that you must claw and compete at every stage of your life in order to become the entrepreneur of your own life.

Specifically, Pete wants to enlighten us to the fact that "so many unsustainable features of our old status quo were both exposed and exploited by Trump's  (Covid-19) crisis, the disempowerment of workers, the racial disparities in health care access, poor coordination with other countries and international bodies, the reduction of believing in science as a political preference.

"Now is our chance to elect leaders at every level of government who will build a better, more inclusive future for this country and the next generation," he grandly concludes with just the right touch of gauziness.

What kind of candidates would those be, you may ask?

For the answer to that question, please look no further than the designated  moderator for the online soiree, freshman congress-critter Lauren Underwood (IL-14). See how how carefully Pete advocates only for the people of the future, rather than for the currently existing desperate ones. He calls for access to health care for black and brown people, rather than guaranteed care that is free at the point of entry. Then notice that Underwood herself is not a proponent of Medicare for All, even right in the middle of the pandemic which is disproportionately sickening and killing black and brown people. Then notice the extremely high price of admission to At Home with Hillary and Pete.

The event is for rich people who don't want poor people to have nice things. I got my invite by total mistake!

Reactions from the woke hoi polloi to this roller coaster ride of hope deferred and access denied have been mixed. "Stop, stop, it's too much. The queen and the boy prince. This sparks joy!" gushed one invitee, while another person griped, "I really want to see them together (and Lauren Underwood, too) but I don't have $50 to shell out to a PAC."

Lauren Underwood, paradoxically enough, won her congressional seat in 2018 in part by virtue of the false accusation by Republican incumbent Randy Hultgren that she was for single payer health care. With her credentials as a registered nurse with advanced public health degrees, you'd forgive him for thinking that she would have seen enough pain and suffering and grim statistics on morbidity and mortality rampant in our cruel healthcare marketplace that like the majority of her profession, she would want to get rid of the whole rotten for-profit system.

But he and you would be thinking wrong, because she was never employed in a clinical care setting. Right after graduating Johns Hopkins, she went to work in the Obama administration to help implement the Affordable Care Act.

When Obama left office in 2017, Underwood became senior director of policy and regulatory affairs at Chicago's Next Level Health, a Medicaid managed care plan owned by Cheryl Whitaker, the wife of Obama's friend, foundation trustee and Harvard classmate Eric Whitaker. Her business came under scrutiny when it emerged that a miraculous algorithm was funneling her more than one third of the state's Medicaid patients who hadn't requested a particular plan. This influx was despite the fact that Next Health was designated the worst-managed care plan, under six different metrics, in the entire state of Illinois.

Next Level Health just announced that it will be closing this month. 

 "Insurance is a very capital-intensive business," Whitaker said in a statement to Crain's confirming the closure. "COVID-19 has exacerbated the difficulty of black-owned businesses to access capital. NextLevel Health's community-based approach combines a culturally sensitive lens and the recognition of social determinants of health to provide Medicaid members access to quality care that has the power to improve lives immediately and long term. We look forward to lending our expertise to community partners and other providers to holistically treat and heal our communities. Our work is not done."
With neoliberal Newspeak like that, maybe she can hustle up some capital by joining her former policy director on stage with Pete and Hill. 

Speaking of work not yet done, and millions of indigent patients not yet totally done in by the pandemic and other health problems caused by racialized capitalism, hubby Dr. Eric Whitaker's private equity firm will be buying three more Chicago-area hospitals this month. The future of these hospitals, right in the middle of a pandemic, is not yet clear. Whitaker already has a history of purchasing hospitals, declaring the least profitable of them bankrupt and then reselling the property at a tidy profit. His firm is currently being sued for fraud by a Chicago suburb that lost its hospital.

 "I'm an entrepreneur at heart," he once explained to a journalist.

Maybe we can become entrepreneurs too, and find a way to sneak into Hill and Pete's and Lauren's virtual soiree without paying, just to mess with their thick heads.

After all, with pitchforks showing up in the Hamptons to mess with such quarantined billionaire icons as Michael Bloomberg, anything is possible. Not to mention absolutely necessary if we have any hope at all of not so much winning the era but correcting the error of too much wealth in too few greedy, grasping hands.