Archive for February, 2010

Let It Snow

By Thomas Wark

Perhaps we as citizens should be grateful for the massive snowstorms that have paralyzed our government.  It’s Mother Nature’s way of telling the Republicans: “Obstruction?  You want obstruction?  I’ll show you obstruction!”

The good news is that until the snow melts or is cleared away, the dolts and corporate-owned cretins inside the Beltway can’t commit any official acts to further harm us or the country.  The bad news is that — like the Republican congressman who camped out in his office — they will have had time to engage in the process  they call “thinking.”

One trembles at the possibilities!  What might emerge next in the feeble brains that gave us killing Grandma and the deficit good/deficit bad dichotomy?  (Wherein the enormous deficits run up by George Bush are good but the enormous deficits run up by Barack Obama are bad.)

Republicans recently sent out a fund-raising appeal thinly disguised as a “poll.”  The questions were cleverly phrased by Frank Luntz or an acolyte to encourage replies that favored GOP positions on various issues.  Hence, respondents were encouraged to call for “more jobs” but only by providing massive tax cuts for the very corporations that have shipped millions of American jobs overseas.  They were encouraged to call for reducing the federal deficit as a matter of extreme urgency, but also to oppose federal action in the one area that could most immediately reduce the deficit: control of health care costs.

In the most conservative areas of the country (like mine) the brain-numbed parrots of the Republican line warn us that health care reform would drive small businesses to fail.  But Manfred Chemek, who runs a real estate investment and consulting firm with offices in the United States and Europe, disputes this propaganda.

“I have been a small business owner in the USA and in Germany for over 25 years,” he says. “I cannot afford the same medical benefits to my USA employees that my employees get in Germany.

“In the US as a small business owner I am always at a disadvantage when hiring employees vs. a large company or hospital that can offer benefits. So I am forced to hire less qualified workers or pay more to get the same level of expertise.”

His conclusion: “Single Payer Health Care (along the lines of the German and French systems) is the way to go. It should be marketed to the US voters as best for small businesses, which it is.”

When the snow has melted and life returns to normal in Washington, President Obama will meet with a gaggle of Democratic and Republican pols to solicit the very best ideas  to resolve the health care crisis in the United States.

What are the odds that any of these geniuses will suggest the one best and easiest solution to both health care and deficit reduction: Medicare for all?

Read more at http://bordellopianist.blogspot.com

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False prophets for profit

By Thomas Wark
One manufacturing industry is thriving in these United States, unaffected by recession and creating a new class of millionaires.  It manufactures bogeymen.The tactic of controlling the tribe by inventing demons is as old as human society.  Shamans and priests, warlords and demagogues, clerics and dictators have used it to their own profit and that of their closed circle of abettors.

Only in America, however, has an entire industry emerged to manufacture bogeymen on demand for the ideologues who keep the corporatocracy humming. The industry thrives because Americans seem to want to be deceived.

You can, for example, rent a protester — an army of them, if you have enough money; the going rate is $1,800 per head at various PR firms. These rent-a-hecklers, trained in tactics devised by the right-wing strategist Frank Luntz,  touched off the “grassroots” protests at congressional town halls during the 2009 recess.  You can rent a scientist:  the most widely quoted deniers of climate change had their “research” funded by the likes of Exxon-Mobile, the most profitable corporation in human history. Pen poised over checkbook, the buyer  says: “Here is the conclusion; give me the science.” You can rent a spook. The CIA actually permits its top intelligence agents to moonlight for private corporations, thereby doubling or even tripling their income. The big banks and financial hedge funds that gave us the Great Economic Meltdown are the most avid spook-renters.  The rent-a-specialist industry exists to verify that bogeymen are real.

Now that it’s so profitable, the bogeyman makers have learned to move with remarkable speed.  No sooner had a paid flack for an insurance company discovered  a way to spin one paragraph in draft legislation for health care, than the bogeyman industry took over.  “Killing grandma” was the result.  Another bogeyman factory spotted another paragraph in the bill and soon “you’ll be forced to buy government insurance.”  More little bogeymen were built and soon all of them were rolled into one big bogeyman called “Obamacare.”

It would be difficult to choose which recent bogeyman was most successful.  Certainly a prime contender is the Saddam Hussein bogeyman, which frightened us into an endless war that has cost not only lives but trillions in taxpayer dollars.  The Obamacare bogeyman was a big winner for corporations.  The Cap and Trade bogeyman may well succeed in scuttling health protections for millions of Americans breathing polluted air or drinking contaminated water; in obstructing the creation of millions of clean energy jobs; and in licensing polluters to drill, drill, drill and profit, profit, profit.

Bobby Burns was right when he reminded us that “others” see us with far more clarity then we see ourselves.

Thus a Brit, writing in The Independent UK, perfectly described what’s happening here:

“A streak that has always been there in the American right’s world-view — to deny reality, and argue against a demonic phantasm of their own creation — has swollen. Now it is all they can see.”

This is a phenomenon that, in Bill Maher’s words, “has moved the Democrats to the right and the Republicans to a mental hospital.”  Where, I might add, one hopes that their health insurer will deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

Read more by Thomas Wark at http://bordellopianist.blogspot.com

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