Saturday, October 24, 2009

Important petition to Obama re: Palestinian non-violent activism 

Lots of good signatories, should circulate widely:

Dear President Obama:

....We have frequently heard the question over the years, "Where is the Palestinian Gandhi? Where are those working for justice through non-violence?" We must look no further than the jails and cemeteries to find Palestinian peace activists leading the fight against injustice. This is where we will find Mohammad Othman: locked in solitary confinement in a military prison, and held for nearly a month after his arrest without charge or trial. His initial detention has been extended twice thus far, and there remains the possibility of it being renewed indefinitely.

On September 22nd, 33-year-old Mohammad was arrested by Israeli soldiers while trying to reenter the West Bank after spending several days at a conference in Norway. For more than 10 years Mohammad has been an activist for Palestinian human rights. During that time, he has been a leader in the Palestinian grassroots movement against the Wall that has swallowed up his community's lands and livelihoods.

Mohammad, in the spirit of great human rights defenders like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., has worked tirelessly over the years to bring his people's voice to the world. He has embraced and advocated non violent means to effect change – a tactic that was instrumental in bringing about the end of apartheid in South Africa.... Unfortunately, what is happening to Mohammad is all too common. Palestinians working for justice are constantly threatened with arbitrary detention, bodily injury and torture, and even death....

President Obama, if you are serious about forging peace, then we call on you to defend the right of Mohammad and all Palestinians to resist their oppression through non-violent activism. We implore you to pressure Israel for the immediate release of human rights advocate Mohammad Othman and all prisoners of conscience who are being held solely for their work towards justice and freedom.

Read full letter and sign here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Barack Obama, Yeah, awesome, health ca. fxdkdfjda....... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz 

From TPM (which is not leftwing and has supported Obama to a fault):

Multiple sources tell TPMDC that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is very close to rounding up 60 members in support of a public option with an opt out clause, and are continuing to push skeptical members. But they also say that the White House is pushing back against the idea, in a bid to retain the support of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

"They're skeptical of opt out and are generally deferential to the Snowe strategy that involves the trigger," said one source close to negotiations between the Senate and the White House. "they're certainly not calming moderate's concerns on opt out."

This new development, which casts the White House as an opponent of all but the most watered down form of public option, is likely to yield backlash from progressives, especially those in the House who have been pushing for a more maximal version of reform.

It also suggests for perhaps the first time that the White House's supposed hands off approach that ostensibly allowed the two chambers in Congress to craft their own bill has been discarded.

High level White House officials have floated the trigger idea a number of times, and it seems they continue to do so, even at this, crucial stage of the health care reform process, when their involvement is greatest. That has senators who support the public option concerned.

"Historically, 'trigger' mechanisms have not been successful, and they are not a substitute for a strong public health insurance option," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) in a curiously timed statement. "A 'trigger' simply delays price competition, which in turn will delay affordability for consumers and moves us farther away from the goals of health care reform. Already, we are seeing insurance companies threatening to game the system, by raising their prices in advance of reform. The only way to curb price-gouging by health insurance companies is with real competition on day one--that is the public option."

Update: there were a million leaks today, each one saying the opposite of the previous one. The TPM story mentioned above was a leak that deliberately contradicted previous leaks saying the White House and Senate were on the verge of agreeing on the opt-out public option. After the TPM story saying that the White House was against the public option, other leaks insisted that the TPM story wasn't true. I'm not sure what this means, but it would seem consistent with the strategies discussed in previous posts.

One thing is certain: the blizzard of contradictory leaks is intentional and is a basic part of whatever Obama is trying to accomplish.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

i am the laziest researcher ever 

Learn something new every day on these crazy intertubes. I queried some of my betters about the individual state insurance scheme. Since they are on a listserve and I don't have their permission, I'll just paraphrase. You'll just have to trust me that they are not lunatic extremist whack-jobs. I realize that my role as AmCop's own Statler & Waldorf might make this difficult, but you'll just have to deal.

The first pointed out that several US states are bigger than European nations that have their own universal healthcare systems. So if they can use their leverage to provide healthcare cheaply, there's no obvious reason why individual US states couldn't either. He also believed that the display of a good example would be persuasive to other states. He finished by noting that Hawaii has apparently been covering "most people" for a long time. News to me. If only there were any Hawaiians with some pull in Washington...(sigh).

Then there was some back and forth sniping about the Massachussetts plan, which resulted in people saying it was probably a slight improvement over what Mass had before, but not even close to the sheer commie awesomeness of single payer.

A nice man subsequently introduced me to this link, at which you can learn that Saskatchewan was the first province to offer single-payer in...wait for it...1946. The rest of Canadia followed suit by 1962. Which means that if my parents had had the good sense to move to Toronto instead of Washington in 1966, I would be free to procrastinate by cavilling about the evils of state-capitalism for some other reason.

Lastly someone else expressed interest in the question. S/he noted that her mother was a nurse in Vermont who is part of a new coalition fed up with the Federal attempts and working to get Vermont to be single-payer. S/he also mentioned, interestingly, that some businesses were part of the coalition since they believe it will raise the state's social indicators and subsequently lure more commerce.

So, that's what I got.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Please sign this petition 

From Jane Hamsher and the FDL political action committee. They already have 45,000 signatures and were instrumental in consolidating the promise of many House reps to vote against any bill without a public option.

Tell Harry Reid: Stop the Silent Filibuster of a Public Option

At least one senator in the Democratic caucus is blocking a public option - but we don't know who. That's because Majority Leader Harry Reid is protecting any senator who wants to join a Republican filibuster of health care reform.

This isn't just wrong, it's deeply immoral. If a Democrat wants to filibuster a public option, make them do it in public.

Harry Reid can no longer allow members of the Democratic caucus to block a public option behind the closed doors of the Senate.

Sign our petition to Harry Reid: force the silent filibuster senators out into the open. It's time for a public count for the public option.

(Explanation: anytime you here some Dem talk about not having enough votes for the public option, they are hiding the truth. You don't need 60 votes in favor. You just need 50 votes AND 60 senators who will allow the up-or-down vote and not filibuster. There are 60 Dems. That overrides any Republican attempt to filibuster -- unless some Dem actually joins the filibuster. There are definitely 50 votes for a strong public option. But some Dems don't want to allow that up-or-down vote. Essentially they're filibustering, though Reid is hiding them by talking vaguely about needing more votes. Maybe -- likely -- even some of the senators who have said they would vote for the public option are actually secretly maneuvering to prevent the vote from coming to the floor.)

so let me get this straight 

So the current theory is that Obama lulls his corporate and political opposition into complacency by early capitulation, simultaneously firing up his base by appearing to betray them. All in hopes that the fired up base will be able to do an end-run around a befogged juggernaut in the last seconds of the game. At which point he can take credit with the populace for coming through on a campaign promise which benefits them, but avoid the wrath of corporate America by appearing to them to have been undermined by some commies in Congress. Not only getting some people some healthcare, but staying popular while further marginalizing his political opponents and keeping the corporate cash flowing into the campaign coffers?

Is that the theory?

What's Plan B if the base can't successfully outmaneuver in Congress? Declare victory anyway, keep the money coming in and the populace won't know they didn't get anything until 2012, too late for the next election?

automatic insurrectionary manifesto generator 


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

nucular war 

Hard to tell how serious the Democrats are about this, but it does look like the Insco's overplayed their hand and backed the Dems against a wall:

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And why now is the support growing on Capitol Hill to repeal the law?

RYAN GRIM: It’s payback, pure and simple. There’s been a kind of truce that the Democrats have had with the insurance industry: you know, you guys don’t come out here with your Harry and Louise ads and just burn the town down, and we’ll give you, you know, 47 million new customers. But when the insurance industry, about two weeks ago, came out with a report that was very critical of reform, it was seen by the Obama administration and Democrats on the Hill as a declaration of war, so Democrats came back with what is their biggest weapon, probably, to shoot back at the insurance industry.
It’s strange that it took them so long to come up with this, because if choice and competition, the mantra that you always hear from Obama, is really the thing that you want here, then revoking the antitrust exemption—protection is the first thing that you’d want to do, after the public option, of course.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And shouldn’t this have been part of healthcare reform legislation in any case? Why is it only coming as retaliation for the health insurance industry’s report a couple weeks ago?

RYAN GRIM: It’s kind of a nuclear issue. And so, if Democrats would have brought it up in the very beginning and made it part of the early bill, then the health insurance industry would have come guns blazing at healthcare reform. And the Obama strategy from the very beginning was to try to at least neuter, if not win over, the major healthcare players. That’s why they cut the big deals with PhRMA, with the medical device makers, with the hospitals. They cut another deal with doctors today about their Medicare cuts. So they’ve been trying to keep everybody at the table so that they won’t blow up the process. And they feared that if they revoked this exemption early in the process, that the health insurance industry would try to blow it up, and maybe they would see it implode over August, and we wouldn’t even be talking about healthcare anymore. That was their strategy, at least. Whether that’s right or not, nobody knows. But now that they’ve come into open war, you know, everything’s on the table.

AMY GOODMAN: Despite Obama’s comments in his radio address, the White House has refused to guarantee the President will back the repeal if it gets congressional approval.

Grim goes on to suggest that the anti-trust exemption and even a public option does have a chance at passing. The much fetishized public option, even if it does pass, is almost guaranteed to be toothless and could actually make things worse. But it is kind of interesting, as a propaganda issue, that things have gotten to the point where passing something called "public option" might be necessary to avoid losing face altogether.

However what's really curious here is why the Insco's went so far and basically forced this crisis. They weren't under any threat, in fact they were getting just what they wanted. I'd love to have been a fly on the wall during the decision to publish that report. The only options I can see are that:

a) either they thought they could get even more than they were getting by pushing the report, and thus made a tactical error. Seems unlikely though. They were already getting everything they wanted.

b) the collusion was getting so glaringly obvious that they had to throw a bone to the Dems and appear oppositional. In which case this is all a bit of theater. Both sides will back down from their extreme positions, a bullshit bill that benefits the Incso's will be passed and the Dems can walk away claiming they stared down the Insco's and didn't blink, heroic dragonfighters all.

or c) which is actually a subset of a), there's factions within the Insco bloc and this is the act of a hardline group that fears something called "public option", no matter how neutered or rigged in their favor, will ultimately be a slippery slope toward people getting the idea that they actually have a right to healthcare. In other words, they believe that ceding ideological turf for economic turf isn't a good trade in the long-term.

Will be interesting to see how it plays out at any rate.


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