Friday, August 7, 2009

Silent Sheep, Rampaging RepubThugs, Republican HealthScare Program, Col. Reese Commits Truth!

Silent Sheep, Rampaging RepubThugs, Republican HealthScare Program, Col. Reese Commits Truth!

“The Republican Old Guard are in the fix an atheist would be in if Jesus showed up and raised his mother from the dead: Their world view has just been shattered.”

It's Time To Give This Garbage Its Name: Insurance Industry Funded Fascism.

The Silence of the Sheep | William Lind | August 04, 2009

In early July, U.S. Army Colonel Timothy Reese committed truth. According to a story by Michael Gordon in the New York Times (reprinted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where I saw it), Colonel Reese wrote an unusually blunt memo (concluding) that Iraqi forces suffer from entrenched deficiencies but are now able to protect the Iraqi government and that it is time “for the U.S. to declare victory and go home.”

As the old saying goes, ‘Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days,’” Reese wrote. “Since the signing of the 2009 Security Agreement, we are guests in Iraq, and after six years in Iraq, we now smell bad to the Iraqi nose.”

As usual, committing truth horrified Reese’s superiors. Michael Gordon reported:

Those (Reese’s) conclusions are not shared by the senior U.S. Commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno . . .

A spokeswoman for Odierno said that the memo did not reflect the official stance of the U.S. military and was not intended for a broad audience.

Truth never is. On the situation in Iraq as on everything else, the American people get the mushroom treatment. That is how Brave New World works.

In fact, Colonel Reese’s conclusion, that we should leave Iraq as quickly as we can, is so obvious it raises some second-order questions. First, exactly why are we keeping 130,000 men in a horribly exposed position, their main LOC running parallel to a potential enemy’s front for 1000 miles, surrounded by a slowly accelerating civil war?

The official answer, that “we are there to back up the Iraqi government,” doesn’t wash. The Iraqi government and its security forces represent the currently dominant Shiite faction, nothing more. There is no state. There won’t be one until the Iraqis settle their own differences, by fighting. Our presence may delay that conflict, but cannot prevent it.

So, Mr. Obama, what’s the real agenda? Under Bush, we knew: an Iraq that had been reduced to an American client state was to provide us with military bases from which we could dominate the region and an unlimited supply of oil. Is the Bush administration’s agenda now the Obama administration’s agenda? If not, what is? Exactly why are 130,000 U.S. troops hanging out in a bad part of town with a “kick me” sign taped to their backs? Inertia? Indecision? What?

That’s one second-order question. Another one is, why is no one in Congress asking the first question? Iraq seems to have vanished off Washington’s radar screen, despite the fact that so long as we’re there, we are smoking in the powder magazine.

It seems that whatever the Obama administration’s agenda in Iraq is, it has gathered virtually unanimous support in Congress. Having worked on the Hill, I know some institutional reasons for that. Congress focuses on whatever the voters are focused on, which at the moment means the economy.

But even there, Iraq raises one of its hydra heads. The American occupation of Iraq continues to burn through money at the cyclic rate. So why aren’t the Blue Dog Democrats and other deficit hawks howling about our continued stay? All we hear is the silence of the sheep.

There are two possible explanations for the Obama administration’s remarkable failure to use its mandate to get out of Iraq while we still can. The first suggests some deep, dark plot, involving money, oil, the SMEC and the SMEC’s Washington’s agents in the White House. During the Bush administration, this explanation was plausible. It is still possible, but I think less likely true.
The more likely truth is that the Obama administration is a mile wide and an inch deep.

The public is beginning to sense this, as President Obama’s falling approval ratings show. But within the Establishment, which includes Congress and most of the press, America’s first black President remains immune to criticism because he is America’s first black President. Were the current President, say, a Georgia cracker, the Establishment would already have him in the stocks, subject to a barrage of rotten fruit.

But even if President Obama were himself a man of depth and wisdom, an administration is much more than one man. Most of the Obama administration’s leading figures are merely second and third-stringers from the Clinton administration, resurrected as zombies (starting with Hillary herself). I don’t know of a single strategist among the lot. Most are playing at government, just as little girls play house.

If there is one among the lot who can think beyond the end of his nose – Jim Jones, has the cat got your tongue? –he would do well to quote Colonel Reese’s words to the President:

We now have an Iraqi government that has gained its balance and thinks it knows how to ride the bike in the race…Our hand on the back of the seat is holding them back and causing resentment. We need to let go before we both tumble to the ground.

With a thud that will be heard around the world.

Sound Off...What do you think? Join the discussion.


Our Views and Yours: Editorials, Columns and Letters

Why I Should Pay More Taxes

by Arul Menezes

Wednesday August 05, 2009, 5:00 AM

Arul Menezes is a member of Wealth for the Common Good, a network of business leaders and high-net-worth individuals that advocate for shared prosperity. He wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with the Progressive magazine. (McClatchy-Tribune)

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of discussion about raising taxes on the wealthy. As a higher-income person who would pay such taxes, I have no objection.

I grew up in India and came to the United States in 1988. I attended graduate school at Stanford and have since had a successful career in the technology industry. There is no other country in the world where this could have happened.

I could choose to tell my story this way: "I arrived with $250 in my pocket, and got where I am based entirely on my hard work." This is true, but it's not the whole truth.

A more honest reckoning would take into consideration that I received an excellent engineering education paid for by the taxpayers of India, and that my graduate education at Stanford was funded by National Science Foundation grants and other U.S. government investments in scientific research.

My professional success -- and that of the technology industry as a whole -- was enabled, in part, by the advent of the Internet, itself a creation of public investments in research and development and by the available pool of talent, trained and nurtured by our public education system.

A more accurate telling of my story would consider that every day I benefit from schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, parks and civic amenities that were built and paid for by previous generations. They were much less well off than we are today. Yet they had the collective will to invest in their future and the future of their children.

I am worried, though, that things are changing in America. The kinds of public investments that made my success possible are vanishing.

Two decades ago, the United States was unique in its meritocratic system and the depth of infrastructure that enabled individuals to succeed.

But during the last decade, taxpayers in my income group received significant tax breaks.

The Bush-era tax cuts gave $700 billion in breaks over eight years to those of us with annual incomes more than $200,000. The United States borrowed money to make these tax cuts possible, even as our schools, infrastructure, research institutions and social services were in need of new investments.

This is extremely shortsighted. Our investment as citizens in our collective "commons" lays the foundation for our individual wealth and success. That's why I've joined hundreds of other high-income taxpayers in calling for a reversal of these tax cuts. This would generate roughly $43 billion in annual federal revenue, which could be used to make investments in public education, health care and revamping our nation's energy system.

Taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized and healthy society. Those of us who have disproportionately benefited from public investments have a responsibility to pay back our society so that others can have similar opportunities.

It is only just and fair that our generation make comparable investments in our future to ensure that America continues to offer our children and grandchildren the same kind of opportunities it offered me.

Right-Wing Turncoat Gives the Inside Scoop on Why Conservatives Are Rampaging Town Halls

By Frank Schaeffer, AlterNet. Posted August 7, 2009.

The GOP is willing to disrupt the health care debate if they can't win it. Yesterday in Tampa, a mob of Glenn Beck supporters nearly caused a riot.

Health Care Town Halls "Gone Wild": Right-Wingers on the Rampage

The Only Option for Health Reform Is the Public Option

How the Ultra-Rich Are Trying to Kill Health Reform

Editor's note: Stephen C. Webster writes for Raw Story the latest example of extreme right-wing demagoguery in Tampa on Thursday, this time inspired by right-wing Fox News's Glenn Beck: "In a stunning display of anger, Florida Republicans and fans of Fox editorialist Glenn Beck turned a Tampa healthcare forum into a “near riot,” one reporter said, as they attempted to enter the meeting hall and drown out a group of community organizers and a member of congress There were at least two reports of violence at the forum. “The meeting which was scheduled to begin at 6:00 at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County drew hundreds of people who quickly began to overwhelm staff and event organizers at the front entrance,” reported Tampa news station 10 Connects. ...

“Thursday’s forum/near riot was sponsored by state Rep. Betty Reed, D-Tampa, and the Service Employees International Union, who apparently had hoped to hold something of a pep rally for President Obama’s health care reform proposal,” noted St. Petersburg Times reporter Adam Smith. He continued: “Instead, hundreds of vocal critics turned out, many of them saying they had been spurred on through the Tampa 912 activist grouppromoted by conservative radio and television personality Glenn Beck. Others had received e-mails from the Hillsborough Republican party that urged people to speak out against the plan and offered talking points to challenge supporters.” Such “mobs” have been denounced in recent days by Democratic lawmakers, while journalists like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow have revealed thecorporate interests and Republican operatives that bankroll and organize these town hall disruptions.

Right-Wing Turncoat Gives the Inside Scoop on Why Conservatives Are Rampaging Town Halls

by Francis Schaeffer

The Republican Old Guard are in the fix an atheist would be in if Jesus showed up and raised his mother from the dead: Their world view has just been shattered. Obama's election has driven them over the edge. Consider Former Congressman Dick Armey. Several far right foundations and the multitrillion dollar health-insurance industry have teamed up with him to organize the far right foot soldiers of the Republican Party to intimidate people speaking on behalf of health-care reform. They are using my old shock troops -- given many of these folks were first energized by the Evangelical pro-life movement that my late father and I started in the 1970s. What we did to clinics they are now doing to congressmen and others speaking out for health care reform.

Having failed at the ballot box, having watched their Fox News-organized "tea parties" fizzle the intimidation tactics which the Republicans have embraced are being used in a well-financed, top-down orchestrated fake grass roots campaign by corporate interests to try and protect the profits of the insurance business. Armey's FreedomWorks is organizing against health care reform. Armey's lobbying firm represents pharmaceutical companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb. Armey's lobbying firm also represents the trade group for the life insurance industry. FreedomWorks is supporting the status quo
at all costs. (They are also fans of fossil fuels. Armey's lobbying firm represents Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE, on energy related issues.)

Last year, the
Wall Street Journal exposed FreedomWorks for building "amateur-looking" websites to promote far right interests of Armey. FreedomWorks represents a top-down, corporate-friendly approach that's been the norm for conservative organizations for years. How do I know this is the norm? Because I used to have strategy meetings with the late Jack Kemp and Dick Army and the rest of the Republican gang about using their business ties to help finance the pro-life movement to defeat Democrats. I know this script. I helped write it.

Democratic members of Congress are being harassed by angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior at local town halls. It's the tactic we used to follow abortion providers around their neighborhoods. "Protesters" surrounded Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and forced police officers to have to escort him to his car for safety. We used to do the same to Dr. Tiller... until someone killed him.

How Can The Right Stoop So Low?

I used to know Dick Armey quite well. One of my sons even worked for him as an intern. I knew Armey in the context of his being a fan of my late Evangelical Religious Right leader father Francis Schaeffer. (Back in the day when I was a right wing "pro-life" organizer who has long since quit the Republicans in disgust at their -- our -- descent into extremism and hate.) Armey was once a decent guy, whatever his political views. How could he stoop so low as to be organizing what amounts to America's Brown Shirts today?

I think I know what happened to him, Gingrich and the rest: They can't compute that their white man-led conservative revolution is dead. They can't reconcile their idea of themselves with the fact that white men like them don't run the country any more --
and never will again. To them the black president is leading a column of the "other" into their promised land. Gays, immigrants, blacks, progressives, even a female Hispanic appointed to the Supreme Court... for them this is the Apocalypse.

The last presidential election (to paraphrase Bart Simpson) "broke their brains." What else could explain their embrace of intimidation -- rather than discourse -- over the health care debate and such unsavory moments of madness as the Republicans accusing Obama and Judge Sonia Sotomayor of racism, knowing full well that they'd just destroyed their chances with the Hispanic community forever?

The "Scorched Earth Policy"

Dick Army and company have been driven mad by their reversal, not just of political fortunes but of seeing that they've wasted their lives. They now know they were wrong: about the country, the free market, war for fun and profit, and what the American people really want. They made their best case and were rejected by the American people --
and by history. Bush was their man and he turned out to be a fool. So now all the the Republican gurus have left is what the defeated Germans of World War Two had: a scorched earth policy. If they can't win then everyone must go down. Obama must fail! The country must fail!

The Lobbyist-run Groups "Americans for Prosperity " and "FreedomWorks/ Dick Armey-Orchestrated Memo:

Here is a leaked excerpt from the folks organizing the intimidation campaign:

- Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: "Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington."

- Be Disruptive Early And Often: "You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep's presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep's statements early."

- Try To "Rattle Him," Not Have An Intelligent Debate: "The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions."

The Last Republican Tactic: Outright Lies

A barrage of outright lies, wherein the Democrats are being accused of wanting to launch a massive euthanasia program against the elderly, free abortions for everyone, and "a government takeover" of health-care is now being combined with physical intimidation that in several cases has required police escorts to protect pro health-care reform speakers surrounded by angry plants sent to disrupt public forums on the health-care issue. Demonstrators hung Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) in effigy outside of his office. (Missing from the reporting of these stories -- with the notable exception of Rachel Maddow -- is the fact that much of these protests are coordinated by public relations firms and lobbyists who have a stake in opposing President Obama's reforms.

There is no daylight between the Republican Party, the health-care insurance industry, far right leaders like Dick Armey, the legion of insurance lobbyists, and now,
a small army of thugs. All we're missing is actual uniforms, otherwise we now have a full blown American version of the Nazi Brown Shirts.

No, I don't believe that these people are about to take over the country. No, the sky is not falling. But the Republican Party is. It is now profoundly anti-American.

The health-insurance industry is run by very smart and very greedy people who have sunk to a new low. So has the Republican Party's leadership that will not stand up and denounce the likes of Dick Armey for helping organize roving bands of thugs trying to strip the rest of us of the ability to be heard when it comes to the popular will on reforming health care.

Conclusion: the Fascist Formula

Here's the emerging American version of the fascist's formula: combine millions of dollars of lobbyists' money with embittered troublemakers who have a small army of not terribly bright white angry people (collected over decades through pro-life mass mailing networks) at their beck and call, ever ready to believe any myth or lie circulated by the semi literate and completely and routinely misinformed right wing -- Evangelical religious underground. Then put his little mob together with the insurance companies' big bucks. That's how it works -- American Brown Shirts at the ready.

What's the results of the fascist formula for the rest of us? Well, think how this "method" worked against Dr. Tiller's abortion clinic and how that story ended. In this case a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save our economy from going bankrupt because of spiraling health care costs may be lost, not because of a better argument, but because of lies backed up by anti-democratic embittered thuggery. The motive? Revenge on America by the Old White Guys of the far right, and greed by the insurance industry.

What Can Be Done?

It's time that this whole shabby (and insane) business be exposed, vilified in run out of town on a rail by whatever responsible Republicans -- if any -- that are still in the party and who want to see the fortunes of their party revived. Republican leaders taking insurance industry money via lobbying firms and using it to organize what amounts to roving bands of thugs not only need to be exposed but thrown out of the public debate forever. They should become absolute pariahs.

It's time to give this garbage in name:
insurance industry funded fascism.

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