Once again, the GOP noise machine and their slobbering mainstream media sycophants are fully revved-up about ObamaCare. Flush with their victories and newly gained majorities in Congress and the Senate, they are making yet another assault on a program that has signed up more than eight million people. That's eight million folks who for various reasons, wouldn't otherwise have access to health insurance. In our pay for play, everything for a buck system, that translates to eight million souls who wouldn't have access to any kind of meaningful health care.
Now if you think that from the tone of the previous paragraph, this is just another defend the Affordable Care Act article, you just might be wrong! Just because the GOP and many conservative sock puppet “organizations” (that are really thinly veiled operations financed by billionaires) have been making endless politically motivated attacks on ACA, it doesn't mean that the way ACA was “compromised” down from a potentially single-payer plan didn't create legal and ethical holes in it that invited those attacks! Although to his credit, President Obama is the first President to seriously address what amounts to a health care crisis in our nation and actually get a law passed covering people under sixty five, I resent that he made almost every aspect of it negotiable. The more he compromised, the more the GOP and those sock puppet organizations found fault with it and said so in endless TV propaganda ads. Which reminds me of one of my favorite sayings, “No good deed shall go unpunished.” Although ACA did some great things like preventing insurance corps from rejecting people for pre-existing conditions, the finished product was a compromised to death shadow of itself!
Here's some of what's wrong with the Affordable Care Act from my perspective:
I could continue for pages but in the interest of brevity, I won't. Let's just end things by saying that if the purpose of health care reform is to actually provide health care for every person in our country, than we needed single-payer health care. If the purpose of health care reform is to really control the rising costs of health care, than we need to nationalize every aspect of health care and transform it from a big corporate business to a profession! As things now stand, ObamaCare is basically the health care version of trickle-down economics. It looks out for the interests of insurance corps. first by providing them with a mandated by law customer base and leaves those customers with ever increasing premiums! Come to think of it, didn't trickle-down also happen when Wall St. and the banksters were bailed out, while ordinary folks remained unemployed? Food for thought, huh?
Do you remember the good old days of broadcast news when real journalists weren't afraid to deal with real and big issues? The broadcast journalists of the late sixties and early seventies covered major news events with a semblance of fairness and integrity. Do you remember when the staff of news magazine shows did genuine investigative reporting about issues that had a direct bearing on our health, safety, well being, personal rights and freedom? I remember a slew of news magazine stories in the early 70's about employee pensions being in danger. Those stories helped protect pensions by causing public outrage. These days, the national news media just echoes right-wing shill organization attacks on Social Security, Medicare and employee pensions and news magazines tend to cover Hollywood gossip stories.
Now that I've complained about the sorry state of our national broadcast news media, let's take a look at local broadcast news. What passes for broadcast “journalism” in my part of the country, the Tampa Florida market, is sad indeed. I'm sure that it is representative of most other local markets. Local stations cover the usual crime stories that are part and parcel of the business. They do a great job on weather coverage, which is essential in our neck of the woods. Where they fall down is in the area of consumer and investigative stories. They seem to be waging a war of the roaches, with each station visiting restaurants that failed Health Department tests for cleanliness, etc. I have a suggestion for stations that call that consumer reporting, instead of playing count the roaches cover major consumer stories! How about a thorough and not superficial story on why the dropping price of oil that lowered the price of gas at the pump didn't lower the sharply rising cost of food in the Supermarkets? After all, food corporations used rising fuel prices as a rationale to help cause an increase in prices in the first place! How about suggesting a story to your national networks about rising costs versus Stagnant wages?
National broadcast networks and local stations have to start serving the real needs of their viewers as opposed to their advertisers or other corporate special interest groups. If they continue along their current paths, alternative media people will be more than happy to fill the void and disseminate truthful and relevant newscasts, talk shows and news magazines.
I hate hypocrisy, especially in politics because in essence, it usually amounts to people who have sold you a false bill of goods just to get in office. When I see hypocrisy in action, it's probably the only time that I believe in taking a bipartisan approach and will call out hypocrites regardless of their party affiliation. In my last post (Are Centrist Dems. Democrats Or Demorats?) I called out 28 Democratic congressmen who voted with GOP congressmen to authorize the Keystone XL Pipeline. In this post, I'm going to take a look at the GOP vote in the Senate concerning Keystone to show their hypocrisy and illustrate why Democrats who side with the GOP, in light of what it represents aren't worthy of their office.
The Keystone XL was approved by the Senate and now goes to the President's desk, hopefully for a veto. Here's some of the GOP sausage making that went into it:
Much activity took place on Senate bill S1, a bill to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Since the GOP has the majority in both houses, the Democrats tried to mitigate the damage that the bill causes by adding amendments. Sadly, there were some Demorats who voted with the GOP.
As I said in the beginning of this post, I hate hypocrisy. I hate it regardless of the source. That's why when I heard the President refer to people who oppose job killing “free” trade agreements as living in the past, I realized that his disingenuous theme of “income inequality” made his State Of The Union speech nothing more than an unhealthy helping of his baloney washed down with a cocktail of his supporters' denial! The people that the President mentioned are not living in the past, they have long memories and remember another period of history when Democrats joined hands with Republicans to sell out American workers by passing NAFTA! Folks, no matter which party spouts the hypocrisy, we are the ones who are betrayed.
There is an element of Democratic Party supporters, or should I say self-appointed enforcers who hide in the shrubbery of various social media waiting to pounce on any progressive Democrat who expresses even the slightest displeasure with the current crop of Democratic electeds and their failure to protect and promote traditional FDR style Democratic issues. From my perspective, supporting a party that doesn't unite behind a solid set of values and goals is an exercise in futility. Many of the current crew of Democratic electeds in Congress, the Senate and the Executive branch of our government have morphed into mini-Republicans, embracing GOP terminology, issues and to some extent ideology. Democratic electeds in deeply rooted GOP districts or who want to court GOP voters by becoming pretend Republicans blur the concept of the Democratic brand in the hearts and minds of American voters and weaken the Democratic Party.
Adopting GOP doublespeak words like “job creator” is one thing, Democratic Congressmen and Senators voting with Republicans is another. I like to call Democratic electeds who vote with Republicans and the sycophants who support them – Demorats, because they betray everything that their party should represent! One prime example of Demorats in action was the recent Congressional vote where 28 slimy Demorats joined hands with their fellow corporate owned electeds in the GOP authorizing construction of the Keystone Pipeline. If they can do that, how will they vote on issues like Social Security, Medicare, "free" trade agreements, etc.? I think that you know the answer to that by their track records.
The term two party system implies that each party will vigorously oppose the ideology of the other party and truly represent the wishes of its constituency. When that doesn't happen, democracy itself is in jeopardy and must be protected by a slew of new voices from new parties that are untainted by corporate money.
Our country's Constitution has been altered beyond recognition by a Supreme Court controlled by a crew of conservative appointees who are in essence, political time capsules put in place to accomplish a corporatist agenda. Similarly, our "representatives" in Congress and the Senate who we elected to do our bidding are for the most part, representing the corporations and billionaires who own them and are ignoring us. Our founding fathers would be shocked and disgusted by the actions of every branch of what passes for democracy and government these days.
To hear me expound on this issue, just visit my Listen Here! page.
As a politician and an elected official, when you, compromise with people who take positions that are radically the opposite of yours, you devalue your party's brand in the hearts and minds of the public. Their perception being, your ideology couldn't be worth very much if you are not willing to fight for it. This becomes magnified when the people that you are dealing with won't budge on their positions. In those situations, compromise makes you and your ideas look weak. I have repeatedly said this on my shows, on social media and in my articles here.
For most of his terms of office, the President was constantly in search of new and better ways to compromise with an intransigent GOP. In 2008, he became President based on a set of campaign promises. At that time, the American public wanted him to implement those promises. The GOP and the shill organizations that game our political system for them ran vicious and deceptive attack ads that attempted to sour the American public on the value of most of his signature promises. Barack Obama met those insidious attacks with offers of compromise rather than heated counter attacks.
Contrary to the adage, you can't please everyone, Barack Obama was constantly trying to be “everyone's President.”
Here's what compromise got the President, his party and we voters who put our faith in him:
Heath Care - Single Payer health care for all, something that could have addressed the constantly rising costs of health care became The Affordable Care Act. The GOP and their hangers-on then dubbed it “Obamacare.” It addressed some glaring issues, but kept insurance corps. entrenched in a system that, due to their profit motive and that of most players in the health care industry, will have built in annual premium increases. Affordable care could become quite unaffordable after a few years. Single payer, or even better, nationalized health care would have addressed the constantly rising costs of health care and taken the teeth out of the GOP argument that “people are losing their insurance.” When everyone gets insurance a la Medicare, everybody is insured and wins. President Obama could have been known as the LBJ or FDR of the twenty first century if he didn't compromise the original plan away.
Unions - Unions have been traditionally known as friends of the Democratic Party. Have the President and most Democratic electeds returned that friendship in any substantial way other than lots of lip service? Did the President and most Democratic electeds support The Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would have helped level the playing field for unions during the 111th Congress which was on Obama's watch? The answer is a resounding no! Many Democratic electeds were too busy being mini-Republicans to worry about unions!
“Free” Trade - Speaking of unions, the President's ongoing support of “free” trade agreements that enable corps. to offshore jobs is something that upsets unions, union members and many of the folks who elected him in 2008. These agreements upset unions for obvious reasons, but also upset those of us who want to protect the U.S. Constitution because they violate our national sovereignty! Many of them give foreign corps the right to sue U.S. regulatory agencies in an international kangaroo court if those agencies' regulations interfere with those corps. doing business in the U.S.A. What kind of regulations am I talking about? Just pesky regulations that protect the American public in areas like food and drug safety or the environment, for example. No need to “compromise” here because both parties support “free” trade agreements!
Endless Wars – Barack Obama's campaign was based on the concept that he was different that George W. Bush. He was supposed to wind down Bush's endless wars in the mid-east that cost both lives and taxpayer money and in many cases, created and armed new and more dangerous enemies. In many cases, he has perpetuated the policies of George W. Bush with no seeming end to the wars in sight. Far more people have died in those wars than in 9/11. The President seems to worry more about Republicans saying that he has a weak defense policy than about doing the right thing for America's future. Sadly, most Democratic electeds agree with him and continually cave-in to GOP militarism! At this point, things are spinning out of control with no end in sight which is sad because Obama could have ended the madness at the start of his first term.
Openness and Transparency – For an administration that ran on a platform of transparency, its functions are hardly an open book. It seems to zealously guard its privacy and go after any whistleblowers with a vengeance. However, our privacy is invaded on a daily basis in so many ways. Many of our Constitutional protections that we held near and dear seem to be just a distant memory
Appointing CEOs and Industry Lobbyists – The President has a track record of appointing heads of regulatory agencies who are insiders coming from the industries that they regulate. Most of them are either CEOs or Lobbyists. This is kind of like letting the fox guard the hen house. He needed to appoint knowledgeable people who would look out for our interests instead of corporate profits. He could have found solid appointees by nominating people from industry watchdog groups who know how the respective industries function, but look out for the interests of the public.
All of this leaves me with a glaring question?
When did progressives, genuine Democrats who stand for the policies of FDR become unwelcome outsiders in the Democratic Party? I have seen some centrist sellouts, “Democrats” who call themselves “pragmatic” taking verbal pot shots at those who should be considered the standard bearers and core of the Democratic Party and blaming them for the GOP win. They are aided and abetted by folks who will automatically vote and support candidates along party lines without questioning that party values have changed drastically.
Democratic electeds lost out in the mid-term elections because they didn't stand up for Democratic values! Because of this, the Democratic brand was devalued in the minds of many voters who would rather vote for genuine Republicans who actually stand for something, albeit something that is detrimental to their future, than vote for disingenuous Democrats who have a “compromising” agenda that changes with the wind. Unless we can elect people who stand up for John and Jane Q. Public instead of corporations and billionaires, we can expect more losses in the future.
I hope that losing in two election cycles will wake up a few sycophantic unconditional supporters who are still in denial!
There is something inherently flawed with a system that lets corporations raise the price of everything that they sell at will, but does everything it can to obstruct workers when they try to get a decent price for their labor. There is something inherently flawed with voters who elect people that allow this to happen. There is something inherently flawed with workers who say that there is no need for unions even though unions would allow them to get fair wages. There is something inherently flawed with unions who accept the status quo and support the same electeds who betray them and their members year in and year out.
If we want change, we have to change
The next time that you feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness and despair that our country is heading in the wrong direction, that there's no hope for the future and that things are hopelessly out of your control, just read and repeat this affirmation that I wrote.
Perhaps it's poetic justice or karma, but it looks like one of the "benefits" of living in a country that continually elects people who choose to waste taxpayer money by meddling in the affairs of sovereign nations and fighting wars to protect the interests of corporations and billionaires is that there are an abundance of shiny new surplus weapons of war floating around, looking for a home. Ever since the 1990s and legislation that allowed the Department Of Defense to distribute military equipment to local police forces to fight "the war on drugs", local police forces have become the proud adopted parents of various tools of war. The process escalated after 9/11 as police forces geared up, with the help of the Department Of Homeland Security to ostensibly fight a domestic war against terrorists. While fighting a war on drugs and keeping us safe from terrorists might have been the stated goals of our electeds, read on for the one event that illustrated the underlying purpose of helping local police forces militarize.
The 1999 Seattle WTO protests were comprised of labor unions and international organizations that were opposed to the excesses of globalization and free trade. What started out as a nonviolent protest turned violent when a group of militants smashed store windows. That was met by police dressed in the now familiar Robocop protective gear spraying tear gas and firing rubber bullets at the crowd. You can read the story by clicking on the link to a Wikipedia article that I provided above. The point is that the confrontation set the tone for the way that police departments would handle future protests, including Occupy Wall St where nationally, the police used lots of military hardware and took a pro-active approach that I would call outright aggressive, violently attacking lines of protesters and teargasing indiscriminately.
Flashing forward to the protests in Ferguson, Mo. where the protests were met with the same approach makes me wonder if the right of assembly is irrelevant when the government doesn't agree with your protest. No one ever interfered with a Teabagger demonstration no matter how out of hand it got. One also has to wonder if our corporate owned electeds had "We, the people" in mind as a dangerous enemy when they voted in the 1033 Program? Ordinary citizens exercising their Constitutional rights would pose a clear and present danger to the corrupt if a nation were no longer a democracy!
When Jimmy McMillan, New York's perennial candidate ran for office on “The Cost Of Rent Is Too Damn High” platform and party, he had valid point. The cost of rent is “too damn high.” As a matter of fact, the cost of virtually all of life's necessities are “too damn high.” I say almost everything because I can just about guarantee that if you are middle-class or poor, there is one thing that isn't “too damn high” and that would be your paycheck!
Due to the corporate job offshoring free for all of high paying manufacturing jobs depressing the U.S. job market, turning it into a corporate buyer's market and turning American workers into virtual serfs, most workers haven't seen a pay increase in years! Paying low wages to their employees hasn't stopped the very same corporations from constantly raising the prices of their products at the drop of a hat and it hasn't stopped greedy commodities gamblers...er, I mean speculators from driving up the price of everything from gasoline to coffee to milk. All of that is happening right before our eyes, for all to see. That's why I was a little taken aback when I read a tweet from President Obama's Twitter account that endorsed raising the minimum wage (a great idea that is long overdue).
So why am I shocked by President Obama tweeting out his support for raising the minimum wage? Here is the tweet, you decide “A lot has changed in five years—but the minimum wage has stayed the same. #TBT #LiveTheWage.” It included a graphic from an organization that I fully agree with called Live The Wage that is as follows “From 2009 To 2014, The Price Of A Dozen Eggs Increased 23% But the minimum wage hasn't changed.” Can you see the inconsistencies in what the President is saying? The true cost of living, as opposed to some cooked statistics, have gone up drastically on his watch!
Over the past few years, the Federal Reserve has kept the interest rates that it charges banks at near zero percent. Much of that money has found its way into speculative investments a.k.a. gambling (we so need Glass-Steagall.) Part of that near zero percent gift to banksters and Wall St. is gambled on everything from gasoline to butter, turning the very food that we put on the table into betting opportunities for the greedy! Translation, government's bailout policy has helped the rich and destroyed the middle-class and the poor by causing the price of life's essentials to go through the roof.
While raising the minimum wage in an important temporary band-aid to slightly reduce the suffering endured by the working poor, it doesn't fix the underlying causes of income inequality and it doesn't help those on a fixed income. Those were created by the electeds of both parties when they vigorously supported and still support job killing, wage lowering, “free” trade agreements and when they support bailout policies that line the pockets of the wealthy and rob us. If the President calls for an increase in the minimum wage without also addressing the underlying issues that to some extent, he helped cause, he is being disingenuous. Can you say Trans-Pacific Partnership?