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Friday, August 21, 2009

More on the Obama sellout

Krugman's take:

[T]here’s a growing sense among progressives that they have, as my colleague Frank Rich suggests, been punked. And that’s why the mixed signals on the public option created such an uproar.

Now, politics is the art of the possible. Mr. Obama was never going to get everything his supporters wanted.

But there’s a point at which realism shades over into weakness, and progressives increasingly feel that the administration is on the wrong side of that line. It seems as if there is nothing Republicans can do that will draw an administration rebuke: Senator Charles E. Grassley feeds the death panel smear, warning that reform will "pull the plug on grandma," and two days later the White House declares that it’s still committed to working with him.

It’s hard to avoid the sense that Mr. Obama has wasted months trying to appease people who can’t be appeased, and who take every concession as a sign that he can be rolled.

The whole thing, very much worth reading, is here.

Comments (35)

More on that:

Guess What? He's a Terrible President

By David Michael Green

Both President Obama’s health care plan and his presidency are going down the toilet.

This is well, and right, and just as it should be.

Obama is turning out to be a disastrous president, wholly unsuited for the times and our national and global challenges, and his job approval ratings reflect this.

In Obama, we get all the corporate toadying of the last Democratic president, along with an even greater unwillingness than Clinton – and who would’ve thought that was possible – to name names, call out enemies, and throw a freakin’ punch every other year or so. (We’re also getting a continuation of the civil rights and civil liberties policies of Dick Cheney, as an extra added bonus, but that’s another story.)

Complete article at

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.

We'll never get anything accomplished on health until we take away the health coverage our congressmen have. Then and only then when the playing field is level will these bozos have any incentive to get agressive on this important issue.
They've got their fat paychecks and 100% medical coverage so they don't actually give a flying freak about the public.

There are a couple of things to remember about Krugman: first, he was a vigorous promoter of and insider in Hillary's candidacy during the many long years of the primary campaign; second, he didn't get rich and famous by cheerleading for the government.

There are also a couple of things to remember about the general situation: first, our congress is irremediably corrupt; second, what Obama inherited on taking office was a truly dire economic and foreign policy situation.

And finally, there are a couple of things to remember about our politics: John McCain and Sarah Palin. When judging our President, it's worth keeping the real-world alternative in mind.

Has Obama made mistakes? Absolutely. Krugman is not wrong. But before cannibalizing another Democratic president (we did the same thing with Clinton in 1993-94, you know), we on the left need to take a deep breath and realize Obama is in reach of getting this for the American people: (1) near universal coverage, with federal subsidies to help more people buy health insurance; (2) expansion of Medicaid; (3) prohibition of pre-existing condition rejection; (4) a cap on out-of-pocket expenses; and (5) exchanges that create a more competitive marketplace. Perfect? No. But moves in the right direction. The only thing that can stop this from happening is an irrational attachment to having a weak public option provision part of a bill right now. (Look, if that's where we need to go we can get to that later. In fact, we can get to that with 51 votes down the road as part of the budget process.)

After watching the Chimp and his crew operate with an iron fist for their first 6 yrs, it's difficult to watch Obama pussyfoot around the right wing. Would be nice to see some payback.

Krugman is a good mathematician, a great statistician and a lousy economist. His suggestion that markets are moved and reformed by villifying and reducing the profit margins of a single layer of the supply chain in an industry (in this case the insurers) is an absurdity.

This is the same kind of single variable obsession that led the Obama administration to grossly over-inflate the supposed job-creation impact of the so-called stimulus package. If spend to prosperity economic policy worked, sub-Saharan Africa would be the world economic leader today, in view of all the aid that's been thrown its way with the assurance of great things happening due to the "multiplier" effect.

Krugman is an intellectually bankrupt technocrat who doesn't understand the difference between competition and co-option.

Obama is beginning to make the same crucial mistake GWB made. He tried so hard to reach across the isle and his hand was cut off every time. Politics will just not allow a move to the middle to work. It was not GW's conservative policies that doomed his presidency, it was his liberal leanings, appeasements and compromises that did him in. Barry is heading into that abyss.

Well, at least "The Hammer" is busy dancing with the stars. It would have made for a more interesting competition if the producers drafted Ann, Sarah, Rush, Hank or Bernie and staged the competition on a mock-up of a giant grave.

All many of us are trying to do is right the ship... and if takes giving the president a good scolding, then so be it... it's obvious the people are tired of both sides of the political spectrum erroring on the side of the corporations..for instance, Medicare Part D's inability to get bulk pricing.. It's a disgrace to good governance.. and what has the Dem majority in congress dont to fix it? Nothing...

On a different note but same subject, Tom Daschle was Obama's first pick for Sec of Health and Human services... that should have been our clue what side of the battle Obama was going to error on..Daschle's nothing but a shill for the insurance industry, just like his wife..

Considering the effectively run campaign that won Obama the presidency, thus showing skill in winning battles, one has to wonder how his team could have errored so badly in finding the right message to win the healthcare reform debate.. unless they never wanted to win it to begin with, as Matt Taibbi suggest....

I want affordable healthcare and an assurance that if and when I have to use it, my claims won't be denied or my policy be retro-actively denied as happens in todays crooked world of providing healthcare... and I know there's 10s and 20's of millions of people out there like me, have the same concerns....

I like many others haven't given up totally on Obama, but I won't hesitate to withdraw my vote for any democratic party candidate if they continue to error against the people...and this doesnt mean I will vote for a republican.. but if a 3rd party comes up in any race, Im sure many people like me will consider it a viable more can the political parties think they got a section of votes just by default... no vote is a vote.

Excellent micro-essay, Robert -- until the end. "no vote" is not a vote, it is no vote and an abdication of a citizen's constitutional power and basic human right. Third parties are viable options.

It is scaredy-cat and sheepish behavior, succumbing to Republicrat propaganda and terror tactics and other dominant-submissive phenomena, that enables those scoundrels to maintain their corporate masters' strangle-hold -- for the time being. Deserving candidates deserve our votes, especially candidates who will really work to deliver positive change.

If the politicians in office today -- especially Obama, Reid & Pelosi -- had been our representatives in 1776, the most we'd have in Great Britain today would be a Declaration of Co-Dependence.

Pete -- "(3) prohibition of pre-existing condition rejection; "

If applied to an "insurance" company then they become something other than an insurance company.

It would be useful for analysis of root issues to assume that there were no "insurance" companies at all, public or private. I already consider it nonsense that my access to care must be framed as an issue that must be filtered Through the Looking Glass paradigm of any "insurance" company. People are free (at least I think they are) to not buy any insurance at all. If the buyer does not perceive any value in their purchase then they will simply not buy it. The existence of and features of any public-subsidy-to-private-insurer game inherently turns into a blizzard of graft and nonsense from the outset; such as treating a pre-existing condition as if it fits within the definition of an insurable future event with some probability of less than 100 percent. Bypass the insurance company.

Any public proposal must have some causal nexus to an increase in the size of the pool of trained nurses and doctors. Heck, using this frame of reference I could even argue that it makes economic sense to spend several billion dollars to train an army of Mexicans to provide care in their native country, where the cost of living for the providers themselves is lower than in the US. It too can be framed as an ethical and moral obligation, to be superimposed upon any other proposal where such an isolate rationale is foisted upon the public for justification.

Obama is trying to govern from the center. Nothing wrong with that. Many people either do not understand or do not want a public option. Even though he may disagree, I think Obama properly recognizes that not everything he or the left wants has to forced upon the political minority -- especially when it is something as big and as important as health care reform. Maybe if we stopped the all-or-nothing politics, we'd see incremental movement over time as people realize not everything the otherside believes is evil. Krugman needs to calm down.

As always, the Onion is more accurate than the obese media:

George .... You're right. The Onion's piece strips away all the spin and other nonsense surrounding the current debate. The best reporting I've seen on this issue so far. It's supposed to be a spoof. Unfortunately, it isn't.

We know what a seller's monopoly is -- there is one supplier and you pay the posted price or go without.
Look at the idea of a buyer's monopoly -- the USGovt being the only buyer of health care (parts and labor) as the single 'registered agent' buying on behalf of We, the People Americans, and to stock in inventory of cure/remedy/treatment 'devices' available off-the-shelf 'for free' to dues-paying (public) membership-cardholders. Persons selling health care (parts and labor) either get the USGovt to buy their offering and provide it for medical patients, or No Sale.

There already is a buyer's monopoly on news and information. That is TV and radio MassMedia -- if they don't 'buy' your story/news/info, then you do NOT 'get the message out.'

Which explains how it is, and why, that Democratic and Republican political parties no longer exist as separate and different entities -- since the only 'politics' that goes on is the politics that MassMedia says is going on: the MassMedia political party.

Dumbo was the MassMedia party's candidate for prez in 2000 and 2004, who was said to have been elected and so he was, despite that more ballots were marked for a different name. This summer, NoHealthCare is the MassMedia party's political position, (also, as Krugman lists, earlier positions 'elected' have been NoStopWar/NoPeace, NoStopTorture, NoWarCrimesCharges, YesPayBankers, NoPayCarCompanies, YesBuyClunkers, YesShowMobs, YesLie, NoFacts, etc.), and so it doesn't matter what Obama says or how he frames his sales pitch or advocates for policies. Only as long as he agrees with MassMedia then they say his message and 'get it out there' and make him 'look good;' and where MassMedia party politics disagrees with Obama or enacted Law, then they blackout him or Justice and make him or Justice 'look bad.' (Again, there is NO Republican or Democratic party distinction in today's politics -- we see candidates switch party 'labels' and yet nothing changes about their 'politics' or their 'airtime' programming us.)

In order to smash the state of things we must overthrow MassMedia. That's where the internet comes in. Voting our ballots for Democrat or Republican or Independent or Green or Socialist changes nothing. What matters is spending our news-dollar for either MassMedia Pay TV or internet news sources. On the internet the thing is when one of us can source our own story/news/info to sell, a 'message to get out,' we can get paid back (refund on our subscription dollars) by the internet news-browsers who buy it. Forget whether MassMedia buys it, or not.

The explanation today of MassMedia LIARS falsifying the ABC/WP poll results is here: MediaMatters.ORG/blog/
Scroll down to Aug.21-dated story, "Uh-oh! WashPost poll got the wrong Obama results. Let the spin begin."
The MassMedia LIE says Obama's 'HealthCarePolitics' polling 'favor' is plummeting. False.

The factual internet news is here: ThinkProgress.ORG/
Scroll down to Aug.20-dated story, "New poll finds that 77 percent of Americans still support the public option."

The essence of my offering here -- Sh!tcan the MassMedia, let's get our news from each other -- is carried in Krugman's column, (the free Press does have some valuable pieces like Krugman where it lets each reader think things over, but TV and radio massmedia are NOT the Press and TV and radio NEVER let audience think things over ... "they only play like it on TV"), and Krugman explains that the MassMedia 'buzz being said' spins Obama's image one way and then another, in "conflicting signals," but that Krugman actually talks person-to-person with real people who voted for Obama ('progressives') and they say he is a goner. and the Democratic party he rode in on.

Dealing with real people in realworld reality, Krugman reports no conflicting signal at all.

... maybe the subscribers-of-the-internet group is the ultimate news-buyer's monopoly ....

I wonder how many Congresspeople and Administration officials are on psychotropic pharmaceuticals? Vast numbers of people are. Could that explain some of their complacent or compliant socio-political behaviors?

Inside the DSM: The Drug Barons' Campaign to Make Us All Crazy

By Eugenia Tsao

Eugenia Tsao is a Ph.D. candidate in medical anthropology at the University of Toronto and a CGS Doctoral Fellow of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

The President whether it is Bubba, W, or Obama are just puppets.....

Until the President and all the members of Congress (and thier staffs) are willing to go on the 'public option'; without additional benefits from a spouse's plan - I'm against the public option. If it's such a 'wonderful' option, they should have no problem signing up for it. Until then, don't bother me until they are ready to sign on.

That is soooooo tired. It's an option. They'll have the same option that you'll have. Please come up with something new. Thanks.

Yeah, congressmen and women will have the "option," but none will take it. Because it is sooooooo great. If they aren't willing to take the plunge, why force this program on the 60% to 75% who have no issue with their existing plans?

I propose that the next person who indicates a public option would be forced on anyone gets sent to Obama's death panel.

The death panels can't be worse than the IRS. :)

Actually no Jack - if you read the bills (both the house and senate versions) they specifically exempt themselves from it. They probably could choose it, but they won't. Government option would be the end of insurance until it was the ONLY option available and congress would still have it's separate plan.

Government option would be the end of insurance until it was the ONLY option available

This is what they said about Kaiser when it started. Hasn't happened. Won't happen here.

Wow, first the ONION and now Wonkette - proving that it's no accident that we get more straight news and considered opinion from Jon Stewart than from all the Hairdos on TV combined:

Hi jimbo: what say we don't propose death panels for those who disagree with us -- even if we all know they don't really exist and that it is just a joke? I am sure the world won't fall apart if we don't get a public option this election cycle. Perhaps there is a set of less ambitious reforms we can pass this year with the support of more than a slim majority. And perhaps it isn't just the gun-toting conservative crazies that need to take a breath, put down the kool-aid, and stay away from town halls.

Perhaps there is a set of less ambitious reforms we can pass this year with the support of more than a slim majority.

No, the slim majority should have its way -- just as it did in the 2000 election. Obama needs to lead his party and stand up to the medico-pharm weasels. And if there are 10 Democratic Senators who won't play along, they should all be shown the door at the next election.

Jack, I wonder how many of those 10 or so senators you mention, may have been recruited by Rahm... he's played a big role in merging the DLC types into the Dem party.. the selection of Rahm as chief of staff is another one of those clues that I think many people are overlooking as another indicator of who this administration intended to error in favor of right from the start... just as I noted in my prior post about Daschle being the first choice for Sec of H & H Services...

It's the same old corporate crew. I hope to high heaven that the Obamas don't turn out to be money grubbers like their predecessors from Little Rock.

"No, the slim majority should have its way -- just as it did in the 2000 election."

Ah yes, let's do them dirty, just like they did to us. Water torture and tax breaks for 8 years; public options and torture commissions the next. Relect, and repeat. Hard to believe we can't balance our budget or maintain a sound, lasting public policy.

Can we apply free trade arguments to the potential import of Brazilian produced life saving drugs? Or would it evoke apocalyptic hysteria about the collapse of the Western World, resulting from the benefits of competition? (Intentional mind explosion fortune cookie.)

Water torture and tax breaks for 8 years; public options and torture commissions the next.

This comparison tells me all I need to know.

Im going to broach an unsettling subject, death panels... while I fully realize there are no such provisions in any of the healthcare insurance reform bills in review, I think the subject of long term financial funding of the aging baby boomer population (through federal funded programs of SSI, SSA and Medicare) should be a great concern to all of us in that demographic category, especially knowing the influence corporate Trans-America has on legislation..

In todays Washington environment, legislation is often times written by the lobbyists, then given to their toadies in congress to tweek before its presented for review and vote.. That "death panels" could get as much mileage as it has, should show those paying attention that population control through selectively limiting healthcare is on many peoples minds.. Rationing is part of the current for profit system, so how much of a stretch would it be to think that rationing could be utilized as a way of culling an exploding worldwide population, let alone our own population within the borders of our nation? Isn't it already? How many die annually because of lack of affordable healthcare? (Please note, I am in no way claiming that our president has this goal. My position is strictly about the influence the corporate masters have on our political parties.)

Anybody who has worked in corporate America knows the first creed of bottom line accounting is, employee's are expendable...With the merging of corporate influence into our government, how much of a stretch is it to exchange the word "employee's" with the word "citizens" are expendable?... Hell, we already see that in how corporations determine the need to fix a deadly problem with what they produce, when they determine the cost of fixing that problem as opposed to paying off the lawsuits that arise from such negligence..

Now we are observing the merging of corporations into government policies in the most blatant of ways, with lobbyists actually writing legislation.. How on earth are we going to pay for ongoing resource wars, medicare, medicaid, social security for the boomers and the necessary repairs for a crumbling infrastructure, when we are basically bankrupt as a nation? With that in mind, how can we think that the corporations want to let the treasury of our nation go for paying retirement benefits to a large amount of our population that will soon be going into retirement?

So, excluding the divisive talk about death panels for what it is, to divide the people and gain political advantage by the Republicans, how much of a stretch is it to think that there's no way the corporations and the lobbyists that write their legislation, are going to let treasury money they see as theirs, be allowed to keep a section of society alive that is not adding to the tax revenues?

Back when our parents and grandparents were entering their retirement years, our nation still had a significant amount of industry residing here in America, thus allowing for tax revenues to keep the social security and medicare ponzi scheme going, but now with off shore corporate accounts for the purposes of tax avoidance, and the likelihood that the new jobs being created are typically low end income, thus not much of a provider of tax revenues, how are the 10s of millions of boomers going to be a necessary component in the future of our nation?

Let's face it, we are in a period of resource wars with energy being the first component of those ongoing efforts.. Potable water is next in the resource war that will hit more locally...

In resource wars, there are usually two options, one is to find a viable replacement for the dwindling resource in time to meet demise of the last one, and the other option is to reduce the number of people using that resource, thus making what's left last longer for those that remain.. Which option do you want and how hard are the corporations fighting to let alternative fuels take over their market share? And where's the money going to come from to invest in new ways to increase drinkable water when all of our money in the treasury is being spent on wars, tax incentives for the corporations, bailouts, and social programs for a part of our society that the corporations basically see as dead and useless weight... Is my assessment brutal? Yes, ...but it should make anybody who knows the depths that big money will take to preserve their deep pockets take notice, and realize we are approaching the fight of our lives...

George, excellent find! Thanks!

Obama is obviously a puppet of the ruling elite. Everything he does is one of two things: Either meaningless tinkering around the margins of an issue and promptly declaring it "change" or blatantly selling out. If you'll notice he frequently alternates the blatant sellouts with the marginal tinkering but he can only do so much to cover what he's doing. People are starting to notice.

Obama was the blank canvas that many progressives projected their hopes and dreams of a respectable America onto and he was only too willing to play that role though someone paying close attention to the campaign could easily see what would be in store for the country: More of the same repackaged, Cheney regime 2.0, a facelift on the same old imperialism.

Think about it: Do you really believe that every four years the billionaires who own this country and have more money than they can spend in several lifetimes are wringing their hands and getting ulcers from worrying themselves sick about whether or not the electorate is going to end up electing a radical reformer who will upset the status quo and cause them to relocate to the Caymans? Get real. Instead they keep doing what they've been doing: Buying all the major candidates from both hardly-dissimilar parties and let the best man or woman win! Because they don't give a damn who wins as they already know it's going to be someone who won't give them acid reflux.

Bottom line: David Rockefeller is most certainly not going to be holding fundraisers for anyone remotely resembling a genuine change agent. Obama's a puppet of the oligarchs.


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The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
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Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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