Friday, August 14, 2009

Sign letter to the Israeli Consulate re: Ezra Nawi 

From Ezra Nawi's supporters:

Without international intervention Israeli human rights activist Ezra Nawi will most likely be sent to jail.

Ezra Nawi has been active for years in the area known as South Mt. Hebron. The Palestinians in this small desolate area in the very south of the West Bank have been under Israeli occupation for almost 42 years; they still live without electricity, running water and other basic services, and are continuously harassed by the Jewish settlers who constantly violate both Israeli and International law, and are backed by a variety of Israeli military occupation forces, all of which operate in an effort to cleanse the area from its Palestinian inhabitants and create a new demographic reality in it.

Nawi's persistent NON VIOLENT activity in the area is aimed both at aiding the local population in its plight to stay on their lands, but also at exposing the situation in the area to both the Israeli and international public eye. The latter is very much not in the interest of the Israeli settlers who complain that Nawi is disturbing the "status quo" in the area. Nawi has received threats on his life from the settlers in the past. The chief of the investigations in the Hebron Israeli Police once admitted that what Nawi is doing in the area is "exposing the dirt laying under the rug..."

More info and letter here.

P.S. Recently I wrote to Congresswoman Yvette Clark about some crime or other that she was condoning. This is the full text of a letter that I received recently from Congresswoman Clark, sent on an electronic version of Congressional stationery:

August 14, 2009

Dear Friend:


Yvette D. Clarke
Member of Congress


Thursday, August 13, 2009

what obama really should be doing 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

golf: un hijo de puta 

Normally I would post this to try to annoy Scats with yet more proof of Chavez's imminent dictatorial tendencies.

But I find myself sort of agreeing. If they really do create new housing on the sites to get people out of slums, that is.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm a terrible tactician 

So here I am yammering on about being marginalized in the media and blah blah blah. I'm so naive. If I wanted a national audience for my views, I should have just brought a loaded gun to a Presidential town hall meeting. Then Chris Matthews would be more than happy to ask me questions about my views on capital and the state.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Whatever I do, I should not make the mistake of being black, female and carrying a sign. That will get me the police escort, but clearly never on to Hardball:


From the depths of NY summer heat, it is depressing to watch this town hall footage. One starts to wonder if these events are not occasions for the discussion of nationalized health care but if the whole health care initiative was in fact an excuse for the perpetual staging of "town halls," perverse summer spectacles in which rage over the recession is collectively exerted. The "normal" attendees get to watch their repressed fury exerted by the "fringe" or "unreasonable" disrupters, who in turn receive the thrill of obliterating decorum, like a child knocking down another child's sand castle.

Thus, as violent as they seem, we might be watching the greatest moment of harmony between Democrats and Republicans, blue and red states, since before Bush. Each gets to fully exist as its fantasy self: Democrats can pat themselves on the back for being caring and dedicated to a common welfare, even though the plan as it is emerging falls disastrously short, and Republicans can finally bare their fangs and openly indulge the murderous desires that previously had to be cloaked behind moralism and superiority.

how to beat a teabagger 

JHD asks what it is I would have people do. Bruce Dixon at BAR has some very constructive ideas:

If it were not for hundreds of thousands of pro-single payer faxes, emails, and phone calls constantly bombarding the White House, members of the Senate and Congress and the corporate media, along with the unceasing background drumbeat of sinbgle payer activism in towns and cities and rural areas and on the internet, there probably would never have been a public option proposed, and whatever Obama and corporate Democrats have given away in the last few weeks of negotiation would have been surrendered before the start of any talks at all.

The interval between now and Labor Day is a time for negotiation,a time for argument, a time for struggle. Nobody negotiates by giving up the store at the start. Just as salespeople learn that “no” is the start of the conversation, we have to let go of the notion, and let go of leaders with the notion that it's wise and “pragmatic” to give up on covering everybody. We need to come up with new ways of formulating our real demand, which is Medicare For All. We need to press that demand in two directions --- upward toward our elected officials and media, and inward to other ordinary people like ourselves.

It's time to demand your representative's vote when single payer reaches the floor later this year, and to insist that the ability for states who desire it to enact their own single payer legislation be retained in whatever bill is passed this year. Even if you do not support single payer, and just want a fair and effective public option, and coverage of the uninsured, know that single payer activism, single payer pressure makes your demands stronger. And get out there to make your demands too. It's now or never.

This is a time to organize visits of half a dozen or more constituents at a time to the offices of your senator and representative, whether that person is a Republican or a Democrat. If you film that visit, we'll feature it on Black Agenda Report, and if you're near the Marietta GA office of Phil Gingrey, email me at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com, and let's plan to make that visit together with a few dozen of our closest friends. This is a time to join some single payer organizations and mailing lists. Pick one and join it, and take part in something, a mass co-ordinated mail or phone event or teach-in this month. If you're a nurse or health care professional, you should be joining the mailing lists of the National Nurses Association and/or Physicians For a National Health Care program. You can contribute to and get involved with Single Payer Action, As kwame Toure used to say, pick an organization that's going sixty percent of where you want to go, and join it. If you can't find such an organization, start one.

I'd only add Healthcare Now! to the list above.

Monday, August 10, 2009



This wave of so-called populist tumult against Obama's "socialism" merely strengthens the status quo. Right-wing money and media help fuel this charade from below, but there are plenty of willing actors eager to play their roles. What alternative do they have, given their utter lack of political power? Meanwhile, liberals continue to moan about Obama's performance, with Frank Rich asking "Is Obama Punking Us?" Actually, liberals are punking themselves, and have been since last summer. Obama is performing his systemic function, as advertised. Everything else is projection and belated ass-covering.


When the evening newscast the other night was showing footage of the chaos at another one of these town meetings, I told my wife that it reflected the basic difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. The Democrats do everything they can to demobilize their base, who are seen as inconvenient and extraneous to their main way of getting things done, namely through closed door meetings with corporate executives and nonprofit honchos over how to screw the American people while giving the opposite impression. Meanwhile, the Republicans are much more reliant on an activist base because their social support is much narrower. As a party that rules directly and openly in the interests of the moneyed elite, it requires all sorts of grass roots organization to push its filthy agenda forward.


It is impossible to predict what the next four years have in store but you cannot rule out such confrontations being repeated with some regularity given the sharpening of class tensions in the U.S. over what looks like a protracted L shaped recession. Even though the Dow-Jones index is heading toward the 10,000 level, the job and housing situation remain bleak.

Obama will do everything in his power to convince those who voted for him to remain patient while he carries out what amounts to a third Bush term, but there will be more and more defensive measures by the poor and the working class in defense of its own class interests. One can be reasonably assured that the level of discontent in the US will rise despite the African-American President’s clear gift for demagogy and deception.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

response from comments 

Senator Tankerbell:

What is wrong with an individual mandate, provided lower-income individuals are assisted? How could the system work, how can you try to keep down costs, if you don't require everyone to join? What is the alternative?

More importantly: why assume that modest reform would slam the door to further reform in the future? That's a big assumption.

For one thing, the individual mandate is pretty offensive at the personal liberty level: government coercing you into buying a product, a product you can't live without, from a particular vendor. This essentially amounts to a state-subsidy of the private insurance industry, which isn't incentivized to provide decent healthcare. Using coerced money to pay for public good is one thing. Using it to line the pockets of predatory institutions is another. So there's that.

Beyond the basic insanity of solving a problem created by corporations by further coercing their victims, I'm not sure why you think it reduces costs either. The Massachussetts example does not bear this out. See Trudy Lieberman's work at CJR.

This kind of thing has worked pretty well in the Netherlands, but the insco's there are so tightly regulated they're essentially public utilities, margins are low and the co's are more beholden to the state than shareholders. Obviously that sort of thing isn't on the table here.

The reason I think it will slam the door shut is that it isn't really a reform at all, it's just moving money around the same system being called a reform. Once the dust settles, we will have lot of the same problems, rising costs, underinsurance, reduced bargaining power in the workplace, but this time the line will be that we "reformed" the system.

People who want real reform now will be told to "give it a chance" and marginalized. Insco's, which would now have a captive market, will continue to rake in the cash and will be well positioned to fight any further reform attempts. Not only that, but since the dominant narrative will be that we've reformed things and its time to move on to other problems, reformers will not be able to garner the attention they'd need to resist the insco PR onslaught.

What we have now is a perfect moment of crisis that is being blown because of a lack of Presidential interest and total passivity among his supporters, who are numerous and organized enough to actually change the dynamic if they so choose. But they don't. They'd rather inflate the power of their fake enemies, titillate themselves with the frisson of fear of an imminent fascism, call their opponents racist (see Krugman), and sit at home admiring their Dear Leader and congratulating themselves for having the good sense to like him. More than Obama, who is behaving as promised and as expected, they are utterly execrable and the largest impediment to progress in this country. Much more so than the moribund rump Republican party. People who laughed with bravado at the suggestion that it was "impossible" to elect a black man President, and patted themselves on the back for accomplishing the "impossible", now sit meekly discussing all kinds of impossibilities that they just can't do a thing about, when they're not out pimping the Party's "plan" that is. Pathetic. We won't get this moment again for a while, maybe decades, and it will be they who have blown it. But who cares about substance when you've got a symbol?

(sorry that's bit OT, but I really can't express enough contempt for the Obama movement on this issue. We could have actually passed 676 by now if they weren't so busy trying to redefine "obsequious" for the 21st century. And if you don't believe that, I can guarantee that a good fight for 676 would have gotten us a better compromise than starting the negotiation with your maximal position being "I'd like the Insco broom handle further up my ass, please.")

Lastly, Cohn's Waxman reform expansion example is inapt. Insco's dont' care about expanding Medicaid because they won't give policies to those people anyway. If someone like Waxman tried to expand coverage for people with indiv. mandates the Insco's would freak out and block it. And even if they lost, they'd find ways around it, technicalities, loopholes on the back end. Or they'd wait until the Waxman's of the world have moved on and then get some hired hack to gut the expansion. Their job is to not pay for healthcare. As long as they exist, they will do their job.


Al Schumann puts it well:

Differing realities... with a difference! One of them is real, and appears in the Black Agenda Report. The other is post modern rabbit hole stuff, chasing the ghosts of the shadows of a meliorism that was never seriously considered, and it appears (where else?) in the New York Times.

He also links to this Business Week article which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the "reform":

The industry has already accomplished its main goal of at least curbing, and maybe blocking altogether, any new publicly administered insurance program that could grab market share from the corporations that dominate the business. UnitedHealth has distinguished itself by more deftly and aggressively feeding sophisticated pricing and actuarial data to information-starved congressional staff members. With its rivals, the carrier has also achieved a secondary aim of constraining the new benefits that will become available to tens of millions of people who are currently uninsured. That will make the new customers more lucrative to the industry.


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