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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gary Hart: Thoughts on a New Decade

By Gary Hart
Author, Wirth Chair professor at the University of Colorado
Huffington Post
Posted: December 31, 2009 05:22 AM

There is something very human, and certainly very American, about wanting to start anew. We are known throughout the world as incurable optimists, always believing things can be better. Long life gives plenty of reason and experience to question this belief. Certainly the wealthy and powerful among us always seem to come out better off regardless of their complicity in making things worse for most of us.

My life has been bracketed by the Kennedy brothers. John Kennedy inspired me and many of my generation into public service. He called it a noble profession. I was a junior attorney at the Department of Justice when Robert Kennedy was Attorney General and then worked in his 1968 presidential campaign. I served with Ted Kennedy in the Senate and spent most of those 12 years sitting next to him on the back row of the Democratic side. Now he is gone. And, after almost a complete half-century (stunning to imagine), that era is now over.

We hope, often against all hope, that Barack Obama will keep the torch of idealism alive, that he will find a way to overcome the resurgence forces of bitterness, of division, and of anger. To do so he will have to rise above conventional politics, even though all the insiders in Washington say otherwise. He will have to be bold and, against the lateral pull of traditional ideologies, propose imaginative new approaches in economics, foreign policy, and defense. Those new approaches are available, mostly outside of the Beltway, and he needs to reach out to find them, to break out of the prison of conventional politics.

Despite the tragic deaths of John and Robert Kennedy and Ted's sad but triumphant passing,
hope still lives, idealism will not be crushed, the dream of a better America will not die.
Those who share this sense continue our search for justice. We bear a flickering torch to dispel the darkness of cynicism. We know America can do better and we hope, against all hope, that the coming decade will light a new and better era.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Maddow: Conservatives using ’sick torture fantasies’ to politicize terror plot

26Dems Editorial Note: You'll need to watch the video to hear Rachel strongly debunk opportunistic orchestrated GOP attacks on Homeland Security Secretary and former AZ Governor Janet Napolitano, who initially defended the U.S. RESPONSE to the near tragedy on the Christmas day attempted bombing of Northwest flight 253. President Obama explained the context of Secretary Napolitano's remarks, which are consistent with the president's acknowledgement that the international system did not work to prevent the bomber from getting on the plane in the first place and his determination to find and correct the security flaws.

By David Edwards and Sahil Kapur
Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 -- 11:17 am

WASHINGTON -- MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Tuesday accused conservatives and Republicans of exploiting the foiled Christmas terror bombing for political gain and to promote torture.

"Conservatives have been racing for the nearest TV camera to try to score political points off of this failed terrorist attack," Maddow said.

Maddow pointed out the rift between the arguments of senior Republicans in the Bush administration in 2001 and the party's stance now with regard to prosecution of terror suspects.

In December of 2001, Richard Reid (commonly referred to as the "shoe bomber") failed in his attempt to blow up an aircraft with explosives. At the time, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge advocated and defended his civilian criminal prosecution, and he was ultimately convicted of a life sentence.

"When there's political hay to be made, there's no reason to let complete intellectual incoherence get in your way," Maddow said. She then showed clips of conservatives saying the suspected Christmas attacker, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, does not deserve the rights of ordinary civilians.

Continue reading story here.

Watch full MSNBC VIDEO

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Are Presidents Afraid of the CIA?

By Ray McGovern
Consortium News
December 29, 2009

In the past, I have alluded to Panetta and the Seven Dwarfs. The reference is to CIA Director Leon Panetta and seven of his moral-dwarf predecessors — the ones who sent President Barack Obama a letter on Sept. 18 asking him to “reverse Attorney General Holder’s Aug. 24 decision to re-open the criminal investigation of CIA interrogations.”

Panetta reportedly was also dead set against reopening the investigation — as he was against release of the Justice Department’s “torture memoranda” of 2002, as he has been against releasing pretty much anything at all — the President’s pledges of a new era of openness, notwithstanding. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “CIA Torturers Running Scared.”]

Panetta is even older than I, and hearing is among the first faculties to fail. Perhaps he heard “error” when the President said “era.”

As for the benighted seven, they are more to be pitied than scorned. No longer able to avail themselves of the services of clever Agency lawyers and wordsmiths, they put their names to a letter that reeked of self-interest — not to mention the inappropriateness of asking a President to interfere with an investigation already ordered by the Attorney General.

Three of the seven — George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden — were themselves involved, in one way or another, in planning, conducting or covering up all manner of illegal actions, including torture, assassination and illegal eavesdropping.

In this light, the most transparent part of the letter may be the sentence in which they worry: “There is no reason to expect that the re-opened criminal investigation will remain narrowly focused.”

When asked about the letter on Sunday TV shows on Sept. 20, Obama was careful always to respond first by expressing obligatory “respect” for the CIA and its directors.

With Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation,” though, Obama did allow himself a condescending quip. He commented, “I appreciate the former CIA directors wanting to look out for an institution that they helped to build.”

Continue reading here.

This Decade Is Still With Us: Look To The Future, Not The Past

The decade is still with us
Look to the future Not the past;
As 2009 bids adieu,
Our challenge Lies ahead Not behind

Forget The End Of A Decade Hype, What Should Progressives Do Now?
The Dissector's End of the Year-End Wrap Up

By Danny Schecter
Media Channel
December 29, 2009


RFK: On the Mindless Menace of Violence | City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio | April 5, 1968

‘violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.’

Let’s drop all the decade hype. I know we tend to structure history in ten year swallows: The 60s, the 70s, the 80s, etc. It is all so neat and so clean but, alas, not quite true.

The decade that began with the new millennium, doesn’t really end unto the end of 2010, and that’s not this year, even though we may want it to.

History doesn’t self-package itself to fit a “Greatest Hits” song compilation. The 1950s, with its anti-communist craziness and nuclear arms race started after the war, in the 1940s and didn’t end until Eisenhower’s famous warning about the military industrial complex, which is still with us all these years later. It was Ike who legitimated tricky Dick Nixon whose ride was just beginning. Tricky was devious but also an environmentalist and smarter than we gave him credit for.

The 60s was an era of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll that didn’t get going until mid decade as the Vietnam War’s impact drove a whole generation into opposition. The 60s stayed with us, sparked by FM rock radio, until Nixon imploded and the war ended in 1975.

Soon punk and disco brought on the Me generation and led us to Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” and then to the rise of Ronny Raygun. When the left splintered, the right organized, putting in place a network of think tanks to take over. The conservatives drove the 80s until Clinton’s centrism snuffed the spirit of the sixties in the 90s, even as it appeared to be embracing it. “It’s the economy, stupid,” led to deregulation and the crisis we are now coping with.

That led us to the neo-con resistance and the stolen election of 2000, stolen by aggressive GOP tactics and Democratic inertia. With the help of various turncoats and media assets — like Fox and talk radio — they renergized their movement by adopting 60s tactics while waging a culture war against 60s values.

Al Gore, now seen as an agent of climate change, blew the election and in the process blew up the power and personage of a political chameleon/wannabe messiah named Joseph Lieberman, a civil right activists turned sleazy opportunist and health care reform killer. He’s still with us, like gum on your shoe, more obnoxious than ever, as a new year begins.

Barack Obama’s election seemed an anomaly, but clearly it was disgust with his predecessor that drove him from obscurity to the presidency. Obama’s “outside-inside” strategy inspired millions of new voters. But once in Office, the office took over, co-opting his populist inclinations and burying his grass roots movement in a miasma of paralyzing pragmatic centrism rationalized as the politics of the possible. Supporters became recipients of emails, not potential activists.

Obama realized that the Bush era had not ended in the bureaucracies or in the media and halls of Congress. To undercut its lingering impact, he embraced some of its tough-guy national security boilerplate. He got along with Pentagon power by going along. Compromise began to become his mantra. Minuscule reforms were presented as great victories. Withdrawal from Iraq was delayed as was the closing of GITMO.

Had he become a Bush 2? Many think so. Was he selling out or buying in?

Continue reading here.

THE REAL NEWS: Crony capitalism unchanged

Robert Johnson:
Only public money pushed the economy back from the cliff; it can all happen again.

Johnson heads the organizing committee for the Institute of New Economic Thinking. http://www.ineteconomics.org/ The goal is to convene leading economists, nobel laureates and policymakers together for a conference in April 2010 to explore the flaws of economic theory that failed to predict the crisis and examine the " implications for reform of regulatory regimes that reflect the logic of the economic paradigm that has failed profoundly in guiding society in its recent history."



Dr. Robert A. Johnson currently serves on the United Nations Commission of Experts on International Monetary Reform under the Chairmanship of Joseph Stiglitz. He is also the Director of Economic Policy for the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) in New York. Dr. Johnson was previously a managing director at Soros Fund Management where he managed a global currency, bond and equity portfolio specializing in emerging markets. Prior to that time, Dr. Johnson was a managing director of Bankers Trust Company managing a global currency fund. He also served as Chief Economist of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of Chairman William Proxmire (D. Wisconsin) and before that, he was Senior Economist of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee under the leadership of Chairman Pete Domenici (R. New Mexico).

Visit the REAL NEWS network here.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Obama and Duncan Launch NCLB 2.0

By Diane Ravitch
Education Week Blog
December 8, 2009 8:41 AM

Dear Deborah,

We promised to keep a close watch on what is happening at the federal level, and now it begins to get interesting. And a bit scary, if you care about the future of public education.

The U.S. Department of Education announced its plan to spend at least $3.5 billion to push local officials around the country to close failing schools and reopen them with new teachers and principals.

At this time of fiscal crisis and budget cuts, districts are desperate for federal dollars. To qualify for these dollars, districts must do one of four things: 1) fire the principal and at least half the staff and reopen the school with new staff; 2) turn the school over to a charter operator or other private managers; 3) close the school and send the students to higher-achieving schools in the district; or 4) replace only the principal and take other steps to change the school.

Sounds just like the sanctions in NCLB. The Obama-Duncan plan might as well be called "NCLB 2.0."

Arne Duncan is certainly familiar with school turnarounds. He closed down a number of schools in Chicago. Studies done by Chicago think tanks have shown that most of the brand-new, turned-around schools enrolled few of the students who previously attended "failing" schools. The Consortium on Chicago School Research produced a report revealing what happened to students when their "failing" school was closed: 80 percent of the students enrolled in low-performing schools transferred to other low-performing schools. There is no evidence that the turnaround strategy in Chicago has produced positive results. Catalyst, the first-rate independent group that covers education issues in Chicago, reported in September that high school test scores in Chicago were stagnant, even in the highly-touted transformation schools.

Charter school organizers and management companies must be licking their chops, waiting to scoop up the new federal dollars and new opportunities for market expansion. The charter movement began as an effort to strengthen public education, but it has turned into a movement to get rid of public sector unions and to turn public schools into private schools funded by public dollars. And here is the rest of it.

Continue reading here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

On Individual Mandates

by David Sirota
The Smirking Chimp Blog
December 23, 2009 - 1:24pm.

I agree with with those who note the danger of progressives attacking individual mandates in the health care bill, and how such attacks could be construed to be a criticism of all compulsory policies. That's the conservative attack on mandates, of course, just like it is the conservative attack on taxes paid into social programs - namely, that anything the government requires individuals to do is unacceptable (tellingly, conservatives rarely ever argue it's not acceptable to force people to pay taxes that go to fund, say, the Pentagon).

But here's the difference on health insurance mandates that (as Adam says) progressives should internalize: It's perfectly OK to be against them if there is zero choice of a public option. if the Lieberman-gutted health care bill becomes law, it will be the first time in history a federal law will mandate that you buy a product from a private corporation as an obligation of being alive.* Social Security, Medicare and other social programs are different - they are public systems.

I think that's really the key point - and why the public option has to be connected ideologically to the mandate. A mandate without a public option is different than paying taxes to the government for something like Medicare - it is, instead, being compelled to pay taxes, almost literally, to a private corporation.

Continue reading here

And here is the rest of it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sanders Strengthens Senate Health Bill

on 12/22/2009 @ 2:39pm
The Nation

It's been a rough week for democracy and genuine healthcare reform.

The Senate revealed itself to be a deeply flawed institution better suited to sausage making than democratic deliberation. The doling out of party favors has resulted in a historic but watered down bill to expand healthcare coverage to 30 million more Americans. Widely shared reform goals--a public option, Medicare expansion--have been killed off by turncoat Senators like Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson, an anti-democratic filibuster, and a White House unwilling to lead more boldly.

But step back for a moment and look at how a few Senators have worked to leaven this flawed bill--adding some decent and humane measures.

Without fanfare, the good Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, has continued to work behind the scenes to champion community health centers--something he has done for years (also here). These non-profit, community-based facilities provide primary healthcare, dental care, mental health services, and low-cost prescription drugs on a sliding scale. As amendments were added in recent days to win over the Liebermans and Nelsons of the "greatest [undemocratic] deliberative body" in the world, Sanders made sure that a $10 billion increase in funding for the health centers was included.

"This is not gonna solve all the problems of the world," Senator Sanders told me yesterday.
"But expanding access to high quality primary health care, and low-cost prescription drugs, and mental health counseling, and dental care--which is a big issue--this is a very significant step forward. If you walk into a health clinic and you have no insurance at all they will treat you on a sliding scale basis. So, that's affordable healthcare."

Continue reading here.

And here is the rest of it.

Burris reads tongue in cheek "Twas the Night before Christmas" slamming GOP on Senate floor

By David Edwards and Sahil Kapur
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 -- 12:10 pm

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) harnessed his Christmas spirit on Tuesday with a mostly-rhyming poem attacking Republicans for obstructing health care reform.

Burris read his own version of Clement Clarke Moore's famous work "A Visit From St. Nicholas" on the Senate floor, in which he playfully accused Republicans of trying to "clog up the Senate" and sink health reform as a way to capitalize for the 2010 midterms.

"'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the Senate, the right held up our health care bill no matter what was in it," Burris said, using his poetic license to rhyme "Senate" with "in it."

Continue reading here.

Click on the picture to WATCH VIDEO.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Obama Will Win: Why and How His Critics from the Left and Right Will be Proven Wrong

Guest Editorial

By Frank Schaeffer
The Bradblog
December 21, 2009

Before he'd served even one year President Obama lost the support of the easily distracted Left and engendered the white hot rage of the hate-filled Right. But some of us, from all walks of life and ideological backgrounds --- including this white, straight, 57-year-old, former religious Rightwing agitator, now progressive writer and (given my background as the son of a famous evangelical leader) this unlikely Obama supporter --- are sticking with our President. Why? Because he is succeeding.

We faithful Obama supporters still trust our initial impression of him as a great, good and uniquely qualified man to lead us.

Obama's steady supporters will be proven right. Obama's critics will be remembered as easily panicked and prematurely discouraged at best and shriveled hate mongers at worst...

The Context of the Obama Presidency

Not since the days of the rise of fascism in Europe, the Second World War and the Depression has any president faced more adversity. Not since the Civil War has any President led a more bitterly divided country. Not since the introduction of racial integration has any President faced a more consistently short-sighted and willfully ignorant opposition - from both the Right and Left.

As the President's poll numbers have fallen so has his support from some on the Left that were hailing him as a Messiah not long ago; all those lefty websites and commentators that were falling all over themselves on behalf of our first black president during the 2008 election.

The Left's lack of faith has become a self-fulfilling "prophecy" --- snipe at the President and then watch the poll numbers fall and then pretend you didn't have anything to do with it!

Here is what Obama faced when he took office-- none of which was his fault:

  • An ideologically divided country to the point that America was really two countries
  • Two wars; one that was mishandled from the start, the other that was unnecessary and immoral
  • The worst economic crisis since the depression
  • America's standing in the world at the lowest point in history
  • A country that had been misled into accepting the use of torture of prisoners of war
  • A health care system in free fall
  • An educational system in free fall
  • A global environmental crisis of history-altering proportions (about which the Bush administration and the Republicans had done nothing)
  • An impasse between culture warriors from the Right and Left
  • A huge financial deficit inherited from the terminally irresponsible Bush administration…
  • And those were only some of the problems sitting on the President's desk!
Continue reading here

Sunday, December 20, 2009

BREAKING: DoJ Now Investigating Diebold/ES&S Merger

by Brad Friedman

Anti-trust probes also said underway in 14 states...

On Thursday we reported that Florida's AG office was investigating the recent acquisition of Diebold's voting machine unit by its larger/largest "competitor," ES&S, for possible violations of anti-trust statutes in the state. Today, the New York Post reports that the U.S. Dept. of Justice is also actively investigating the same thing --- along with 14 states in total --- and may "file a suit to unwind the deal" next month...

The Department of Justice could vote down an already-completed merger of the two biggest makers of voting machines.

The Justice Department, Florida and 13 other states have opened investigations into the September marriage between Election Systems & Software and Diebold's Premier Election Solutions, which played a controversial role in the 2004 presidential election, according to a source with direct knowledge of the process.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is planning to hold hearings on the matter next month, the source said.

Even though the merger gave ES&S a whopping 70 percent of the voting-machine market share, the $5 million deal was too small to require government approval.

Now, the Justice Department is looking into the matter and next month could file a suit to unwind the deal, the source said.

Continue reading here.

Meet the Press| Scarborough: Health Insurance Stocks Reached 52-YEAR High On Friday

Huffington Post
Dec. 20, 2009

On Sunday's Meet The Press, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough was asked a simple question about health care: What has President Obama achieved? His answer: "He has made a lot of people with insurance stock a lot richer."

"This [bill] is great for insurance companies," he explained. "They were going to reform the system [but] neither side wanted to take on the insurance companies. Neither side wanted to get rid of anti-trust exemptions. Neither side really pushed hard to allow you or me or anybody here to buy across state lines. And as Howard Dean said -- and this is a devastating fact -- insurance companies' stocks reached a 52-year high on Friday after this so called reform bill got its 60th vote. So David Axelrod, who I love and respect, but David Axelrod kept saying 'we took on the insurance companies, this is real reform, they're against it.' Really? I don't think so."

Watch the discussion below:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thom Hartman: Mr. President, It's Time to Come Clean on the Deal Cut with BIG Insurance


26Dems Editorial Comment:  It's time we inform ourselves about the underlying attitude of political operatives influencing President Obama,like Rahm Emanuel who is deaf to the real needs of the people. He convinced the President to cut a deal with Joe Lieberman, a deal that has driven a wedge between us and our elected officials--a deal that will cost lives and drive up health care spending--at the expense of the American taxpayer. Rahm Emanuel joins Republicans in demonizing "the left" while boosting corporate welfare.  Howard Dean, MoveOn, SEIU, all are opposing passing a health care bill that delivers profits to the insurance companies and burdens families with medical bankruptcy, prices the aging, the uninsured and people who suffer conditions like high blood pressure out of the market.  America's health care injustice and inequities  cannot be irrationally brushed off as the agenda of an out-of-the-mainstream  progressive left.  It's time for the popular majority to say "No".

Read Jane Hamsher's Huffington Post article, Left/Right Populist Outrage Will Defeat Senate Health Care Bill

Jane exposes DLC leadership strategy as defined by Rahm Emanuel in this excerpt

"Rahm Emanuel has convinced himself that Ron Brownstein is a "liberal" and dismisses all of this as "the progressive backlash against the progressive backlash." He's betting that any inadequacies will be forgotten come November 2010 if the Dems can claim a "w" by passing any crap bill and slapping "health care" on it. And that if Congress just spends the next year naming post offices, any objections that Americans might have to paying 8% of their incomes to private corporations who will use the IRS as their collection agency will just disappear."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Countdown: "De Facto Income Tax Hike"--CIGNA whistleblower Wendell Potter: "Gift" for Insurance Companies


How the Health Insurance Industry Is Funding Incentives and Rewards to Lure Letters to Congress Opposing Health Care Reform

Inside The Hot New Astroturf Trend: Emails To Congress Aren't What They Seem

By Zachary Roth
TPM Muckraker
December 15, 2009, 1:08PM

In the world of astroturf lobbying, forged letters and fake rallies are getting kind of passé. Here's what the real experts are doing...

Last week, we learned that online gamers can earn virtual currency by sending emails to Congress opposing health-care reform, stemming from a campaign by a health-insurance lobby group. The news of the scheme, reported by Gawker and the AP, suggests that at least some of the anti-reform emails lawmakers have received are something less than authentic expressions of grassroots passion, since they're being sent by people who have been incentivized to get involved through the offer of rewards.

In response, the insurance industry group behind the anti-reform campaign has claimed ignorance. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which runs the insurers' coalition in whose name the emails were sent, said in a statement that under its contract with the advertising firm running the campaign, "the use of incentivized ads is strictly prohibited."

Continue reading here. And here is the rest of it.

'Creepy' AZ GOP Chief Charged With Stalking

By Zachary Roth
TPM Muckraker
December 16, 2009, 11:35AM

The executive director of the Arizona GOP used a Republican voter database to stalk a female grad student, the woman has alleged in a criminal complaint.

The complaint, filed last month with the local sheriff's office and reported by the Huffington Post, alleges that Brett Mecum "is using Voter Vault to stalk." That's the sophisticated voter-targeting program that the GOP uses to turn its supporters out to the polls.

The woman charges that on August 29, she was having a party at home to celebrate her acceptance into an East Coast graduate school, when Mecum showed up uninvited. According to the affidavit, which HuffPo has posted:

I did not invite Brett Mecum. He is rather creepy and intimidating around women. I did not want to expose my guests to that kind of individual. I was shocked to see him show up at my party. He had never been to my house, and I had never told him where I lived. I asked him how he found my address, and he responded "I looked it up on Voter Vault, I called a staffer to look it up for me there."

The woman, whose name was redacted from the complaint, said she felt threatened, and appeared to charge that other women have similarly been stalked.

I am concerned for my safety and the safety of other women who have either been or might be stalked by him using Voter Vault. Like me, they were likely threatened by him if they report his harassment and are afraid to come forward.

Continue reading here.

Ron Reagan On Air America: Lieberman is Dr. No, Loves Campaign Cash More than His Constituents

KPHO Report: Former U.S. Attorney, David Iglesias Says Sheriff Arpaio Abusing Power, Breaking the Law

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Under FBI Investigation for Abusing Power to Retaliate Against Critics

Watch this 10 minute segment for comments on the investigation by former U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Paul Chariton and former Bush U.S. Attorney for New Mexico, David Iglesias, who puts principle over politics. Widespread allegations charged that both U.S. Attorneys were among the seven fired by the Bush administration for political reasons. Click on the picture to watch the video.

Countdown: Howard Dean Rejects Senate Health Care Bill, Urges Reformers to Work for Real Reform

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And here is the rest of it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Are Americans a Broken People? Why We've Stopped Fighting Back Against the Forces of Oppression?

By Bruce E. Levine
Posted December 11, 2009.

A psychologist asks: Have consumerism, suburbanization and a malevolent corporate-government partnership so beaten us down that we no longer have the will to save ourselves?
Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not "set them free" but instead further demoralize them? Has such a demoralization happened in the United States?

Do some totalitarians actually want us to hear how we have been screwed because they know that humiliating passivity in the face of obvious oppression will demoralize us even further?

What forces have created a demoralized, passive, dis-couraged U.S. population?

Can anything be done to turn this around?

Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not "set them free" but instead further demoralize them?

Yes. It is called the "abuse syndrome." How do abusive pimps, spouses, bosses, corporations, and governments stay in control? They shove lies, emotional and physical abuses, and injustices in their victims' faces, and when victims are afraid to exit from these relationships, they get weaker. So the abuser then makes their victims eat even more lies, abuses, and injustices, resulting in victims even weaker as they remain in these relationships.

Does knowing the truth of their abuse set people free when they are deep in these abuse syndromes?

No. For victims of the abuse syndrome, the truth of their passive submission to humiliating oppression is more than embarrassing; it can feel shameful -- and there is nothing more painful than shame. When one already feels beaten down and demoralized, the likely response to the pain of shame is not constructive action, but more attempts to shut down or divert oneself from this pain. It is not likely that the truth of one's humiliating oppression is going to energize one to constructive actions.

Has such a demoralization happened in the U.S.?

In the United States, 47 million people are without health insurance, and many millions more are underinsured or a job layoff away from losing their coverage. But despite the current sellout by their elected officials to the insurance industry, there is no outpouring of millions of U.S. citizens on the streets of Washington, D.C., protesting this betrayal.

Polls show that the majority of Americans oppose U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the taxpayer bailout of the financial industry, yet only a handful of U.S. citizens have protested these circumstances.

Continue reading here.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio ups the ante against his foes

By Nicholas Riccardi
Los Angeles Times
December 12, 2009

Joe Arpaio has escalated his tactics, not only defying the federal government on immigration but launching repeated investigations of those who criticize him.

Reporting from Phoenix - The day after the federal government told Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that he could no longer use his deputies to round up suspected illegal immigrants on the street, the combative Arizona sheriff did just that.

He launched one of his notorious "sweeps," in which his officers descend on heavily Latino neighborhoods, arrest hundreds of people for violations as minor as a busted headlight and ask them whether they are in the country legally.

"I wanted to show everybody it didn't make a difference," Arpaio said of the Obama administration's order.

Arpaio calls himself "America's toughest sheriff" and remains widely popular across the state. For two decades, he has basked in publicity over his colorful tactics, such as dressing jail inmates in pink underwear and housing them in outdoor tents during the brutal Phoenix summers.

But he has escalated his tactics in recent months, not only defying the federal government but launching repeated investigations of those who criticize him. He recently filed a racketeering lawsuit against the entire Maricopa County power structure. On Thursday night, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued an emergency order forbidding the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office from searching the home or chambers of a Superior Court judge who was named in the racketeering case.

Last year, when Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon called for a federal investigation of Arpaio's immigration enforcement, the Sheriff's Office demanded to see Gordon's e-mails, phone logs and appointment calendars.

When the police chief in one suburb complained about the sweeps, Arpaio's deputies raided that town's City Hall.

A local television station, KPHO, in a 10-minute-long segment last month, documented two dozen instances of the sheriff launching investigations of critics, none of which led to convictions.

The most notorious case involves county Supervisor Don Stapley, a Republican who has sometimes disagreed with Arpaio's immigration tactics. Last December, deputies arrested Stapley on charges of failing to disclose business interests properly on his statement of economic interest.

Stapley's alarmed supervisor colleagues had their offices swept for listening devices. Arpaio contended the search was illegal and sent investigators to the homes of dozens of county staffers to grill them about the sweep.

A judge in September dismissed several of the allegations against Stapley, and prosecutors dropped the case. Three days later, Arpaio's deputies arrested Stapley again after he parked his car in a downtown parking structure near his office.

No charges were filed until County Atty. Andrew Thomas -- Arpaio's ally in his fights with the supervisor -- charged Stapley this week with misusing money he raised to run for president of the National Assn. of Counties.

Continue reading here.

Zinn's 'People's History' Masterwork Hits the History Channel This Sunday

By Dave Zirin,
Posted December 11, 2009

Don't miss Howard Zinn's 'Voices of a People's History' debut on the History Channel on December 13th.

" Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport "

On December 13th, a date I've basically had tattooed on my arm like the guy from Memento, The People Speak finally makes its debut on the History Channel. This is more than just must-see-TV. It is nothing less than the life's work of "people's historian" Howard Zinn brought to life by some of the most talented actors, musicians, and poets in the country. Howard Zinn and his partner Anthony Arnove chose the most stirring political passages in Zinn's classic A People's History of the United States, creating a written anthology called Voices of a People's History of the United States. Those "voices" have now been fully resurrected by a collection of performers ranging from Matt Damon to hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco to poet Staceyann Chin.

The People Speak also showcases John Legend reading the words of Muhammad Ali, Kerry Washington as Sojourner Truth, David Strathairn's take on the soaring oratory of Eugene Debs, and Morgan Freeman as Frederick Douglass asking, "What is the 4th of July to the American Slave?" There are also the words of women factory workers read by Marisa Tomei, rebellious farmers personified by Viggo Mortensen, and escaped slaves voiced by Benjamin Bratt.

Certainly the lunatic right will howl to the heavens after seeing "liberal Hollywood" perform the words of labor radicals, anti-racists, feminists, and socialists. In fact, aided by the craven Matt Drudge, they are already in full froth, campaigning online to get the History Channel to drop The People Speak before its air-date. If it weren't so contemptible, their actions would be almost quaint, like a virtual book burning.

Continue reading here.

Click on the picture for the VIDEO Trailer

Sens. Franken & Rockefeller Lead Reform to Force Insurers to pay 90% of premiums on health care

By Wendell Potter, CMD's Senior Fellow on Health Care
Posted: December 6, 2009 07:33 PM
Huffington Post

The Insurance Industry's Lethal Bottom Line -- and a Solution From Sens. Franken and Rockefeller

There was a time, in the early 1990s, when health insurance companies devoted more than 95 cents out of every premium dollar to paying doctors and hospitals for taking care of their members.
No more. Since President Bill Clinton's health reform plan died 15 years ago, the health insurance industry has come to be dominated by a handful of insurance companies that answer to Wall Street investors, and they have changed that basic math.
Today, insurers only pay about 81 cents of each premium dollar on actual medical care.
The rest is consumed by rising profits, grotesque executive salaries, huge administrative expenses, the cost of weeding out people with pre-existing conditions and claims review designed to wear out patients with denials and disapprovals of the care they need the most.

This equation is known as the medical loss ratio (MLR), an aptly named figure that is widely seen by investors as the most important gauge of an insurance company's current and future profitability. In a private health insurance industry that collected $817 billion this year, a 14 percentage point difference in the MLR represents $112 billion a year! Over 10 years, that would be more than enough to pay for health reform.

Thanks to the efforts of several senators who pushed for a minimum MLR to be included in reform legislation, the current Senate bill requires insurers to provide an annual rebate to each enrollee if non-claims costs exceed 20% in the group market and 25% in the individual market.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is now leading a group including Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) to introduce an amendment that would go further by requiring that 90 percent of the money consumers spend on health insurance premiums go directly to health care costs.

Continue reading here.

And here is the rest of it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

CREW Files Ethics Complaint against Sen. John McCain over Robocalls in Five States Paid for by NRSC

Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee against Senator John McCain (R-AZ) for using National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) funds to pay for robocalls in five other senators’ home states, urging passage of his motion to send healthcare legislation back to the Senate Finance Committee.

Sen. McCain reportedly recorded a series of robocalls urging Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) to support his motion. A spokeswoman for the NRSC said the calls were being made statewide and targeted independent voters.

The script for the Arkansas call read:

On Monday I introduced the first Republican amendment to the massive health care bill, which would send the bill back to the Senate Finance Committee and stop the Democrats from cutting vital Medicare coverage for our seniors. I need Sen. Blanche Lincoln to join me in this effort. If you agree with me, please go to our website at www.healthcaretaskforce.org and sign a petition to Sen. Lincoln urging her to join my effort to fight a Washington DC government takeover of your health care.

CREW’s complaint alleges Sen. McCain violated Senate Rule 38, which prohibits senators from maintaining “unofficial office accounts,” meaning they cannot use private donations to support official senate activities and expenses. By urging voters to call their senators to urge them to support his motion, Sen. McCain was engaged in grassroots lobbying. This activity clearly was related to Sen. McCain's official duties. By using an outside entity’s funds -- those of the NRSC -- to pay for expenses related to his official duties, Sen. McCain violated Senate rules.

Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, said “The rules are clear: if Sen. McCain wanted to lobby voters in an effort to see his motion passed he should have paid for the calls himself. Ethics rules are not optional; all the rules apply all the time, not just the ones senators like and not just when it is convenient to follow them.” Sloan continued, “The Senate Ethics Committee should investigate the funding for the calls and if the NRSC in fact paid for them, sanction Sen. McCain appropriately.”

Click here to read CREW’s letter to the Senate Ethics Committee.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Matt Jacob at 202.408.5565 or mjacob@citizensforethics.org.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
Matt Jacob, 202-408-5565

Monday, December 7, 2009

Keep the Faith Veteran CIA Analyst Tells Consortium News Bob Parry| An Insider's Exposé of Robert Gates

Ray McGovern, a veteran CIA analyst writes about the truth for Consortiumnews, edited by veteran news man Robert Parry who quit the mainstream media to found an independent media web site.

McGovern wrote this message about Discouragement from the perspective of having enlisted with the military in 1962 during the presidency of John F. Kennedy. Despite his discouragement following the Kennedy assassination and the resulting escalation of the war in Vietnam, Ray McGovern has kept the faith.

He regularly comments on the misjudgments of the Pentagon elite and the media. He remembers Kennedy as the ultimate profile in courage when he faced down the Joint Chiefs of Staff to avoid nuclear war, which was much more difficult than dealing with Khrushchev. Read this excerpt from McGovern's letter to Robert Parry and click on Consortiumnews to read the rest of the story. In this letter, McGovern outlines why Robert Parry's web site is unique and why it deserves financial support. .......26Dems Editorial comment.

Ray McGovern's Letter to Bob Parry

By Ray McGovern
December 7, 2009

At the end of a year that began with such hope, I am struck at how easy it would be to be discouraged.

For me, the temptation to discouragement is almost as strong as it was when other dreams were shattered on Nov. 22, 1963 — the dreams of so many, like me, who were drawn to Washington to see what we might do for our country.

Most of the colleagues who began CIA’s Junior Officer Trainee Program with me earlier in 1963 had been feeling privileged to serve under such a President.

The year before, as an infantry officer at Fort Benning during the Cuban missile crisis in the fall of 1962, I had skin in that game, as they say. And now it is abundantly clear that we were spared war with the U.S.S.R. only because President John Kennedy set the example of a new Profile in Courage.

Yes, he stood up to Khruschchev, but his greatest test was facing down the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

I think President Barack Obama is as intelligent as John Kennedy was, but lacks Kennedy’s self-confidence and — let’s just say it — guts.

But in fairness, Kennedy had one HUGE thing going for him — a Fourth Estate, a national press corps that was still doing a fair-to-middling job of informing the American public and had yet to be corrupted by the TV stardom and easy wealth that would come to journalists who position themselves well.

I now have a lot of gray in my hair — and enough years in Washington to point out, as I do in virtually every lecture, that the biggest sea change I have witnessed since arriving here in town 47 years ago is the reality that WE NO LONGER HAVE, IN ANY REAL SENSE, A FREE MEDIA.

Read the rest of the story here.

Democracy Now: “One Voice for Choice"–FireDogLake Founder Launches Campaign to Target Dems Supporting Stupak Amendment

Jane Hamsher through her blog at Firedoglake is ramping up the pressure on Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid not to drop the public option. Jane Hamsher learned just this morning that word on the Hill is that Harry Reid is trying to cut a deal for triggers. Jane has set up an ActBlue site to raise $100,000 to make a big move against Harry Reid in his home state of Nevada. Over $41,000 has already been raised.
Jane points out that " It's all on Harry Reid if the public option is killed. He has the power to make sure it passes using reconciliation for majority rule If he takes out the public option, it's because he's too weak to stand up to the insurance companies. "
Find out how you can help by calling Nevada Dems at this site.

Click on the picture to Sign up to Phone Bank against the Stupak amendment. Watch Democracy Now VIDEO. Final Vote Results for Stupak Amendment Roll Call 884
Check out Ben Smith's CommonDreams article: Jane Hamsher Leads Left Against the White House.

A Tale of Two Obamas

by Robert Kuttner, Co-Founder and Co-Editor of the American Prospect
Huffington Post
Dec. 6, 2009

It was the best of Obama, it was the worst of Obama.

I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to the White House jobs summit last Thursday, where I got to watch President Obama engage with about 130 people off the cuff. And I was reminded, first hand, what drew so many of us to the promise of this remarkable outsider -- the decency, the intellect, the idealism, and the evidently progressive impulses. I came away even more bewildered and dismayed at the reality that this president, who could have been such an insurgent at a moment demanding insurgency, has been so utterly captured by the Wall Street elite, the health insurance industry elite, and the military elite.

Click here to read the words of a brilliant President speaking extemporaneously who convincingly shows that he grasps and understands the policy details.

Bill Moyers Interviews Film Director Oliver Stone About President's Decision to Send 30,000 Troops to Afghanistan

Click on the picture to view Oliver Stone's articulate commentary on Afghanistan. Stone is a Vietnam Vet who signed up to serve. Based on his experience, Stone predicts that the war in Afghanistan will explode into another Vietnam. He calls it a "tragic mistake."

Why Bank of America Fired Me

Check out the article about Jackie's story here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Eliot Spitzer: Geithner, Bernanke “Complicit” in Financial Crisis and Should Go

On Democracy Now, Eliot Spitzer said that Bernanke and Geithner “actually built and participated in creating the structure that now has collapsed,” and calls on them to be replaced. As New York Attorney General Spitzer sued AIG, and in 1999 began doing subprime cases predicting that this debt would explode. Spitzer points out that Timothy Geithner was was the overseer of the collapsed financial structure, who failed in his mandate to negotiate for us. Spitzer criticized the perspective that permitted Bernanke to continue to allow bubbles to be inflated without understanding the subprime impact, and dealing with the crisis after the fact. Spitzer thinks the emphasis should be on creating jobs and investing in small business, pointing out that creativity has always been our best asset.----Editorial comment by 26Dems

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thom Hartman: Bush, Franco, Poetry and War Crimes

Click on the picture to explore the poetry of Pablo Neruda.

Aetna Forcing 600,000-Plus To Lose Coverage In Effort To Raise Profits

By Sam Stein
Huffington Post

Health insurance giant Aetna is planning to force up to 650,000 clients to drop their coverage next year as it seeks to raise additional revenue to meet profit expectations.
In a third-quarter earnings conference call in late October, officials at Aetna announced that in an effort to improve on a less-than-anticipated profit margin in 2009, they would be raising prices on their consumers in 2010. The insurance giant predicted that the company would subsequently lose between 300,000 and 350,000 members next year from its national account as well as another 300,000 from smaller group accounts.

"The pricing we put in place for 2009 turned out to not really be what we needed to achieve the results and margins that we had historically been delivering," said chairman and CEO Ron Williams. "We view 2010 as a repositioning year, a year that does not fully reflect the earnings potential of our business. Our pricing actions should have a noticeable effect beginning in the first quarter of 2010, with additional financial impact realized during the remaining three quarters of the year."

Click here to read more.

Rachel Maddow & U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on Obama's Afghanistan Plan

And here is the rest of it.