Wednesday, March 28, 2007


It seems as though it was just yesterday that Americans were tearing their hair out over the repeated shows of hubris on the part of a fraudulently elected president.

And yet it was inevitable that this hubris and its attendant tragedies should come crashing down: we’re seeing it now, and it can only continue: every aggressive action ultimately disintegrates.

Like Humpty Dumpty, the presidency of George Bush cannot be put back together.

In “Dark Ages America”, Morris Berman calls it “runaway”, when positive feedback causes a system to become increasingly distorted.  I call  it the inevitable alternation of order/disorder, also caused by feedback.  However you want to call it, it’s happening before our very eyes.  Unfortunately, most of our representatives lag far behind their electorates.

Dennis Kucinich presented his plan for exiting Iraq in January but I didn’t learn about it until today when he appeared on “Democracy Now”.  It turns out that Kucinich is the cosponsor of John Conyers’ bill on universal health care.  It’s hardly necessary to connect the dots: health care and Iraq are not a guns vs butter problem.   There is one solution to both:  make health care, not war: Humpty Dumpty fell because he was careless.  Our Humpty Dumpty is careless with the lives of others, but he can’t be put together either.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Which Health Care Plan?

The major Democratic presidential candidates are all say they would make sure all Americans have health care. But a meeting in Philadelphia featuring Representative John Conyers, revealed major and crucial differences in the various health care plans being touted, so “buyer beware”!

The only health care plan worth having is the single payer variety, which exists in all other developed countries: you see the doctor of your choice, the government pays.

Alas, the plans being touted by various mayors, governor, and presidential candidates are all variations on the same theme: insurance companies continue in one way or another, to be the major players.

John Ksoe, a noted expert on the question, pointed out that as of recently, not only consumers, but also major corporations, realize it is in their best interest to have universal health care.  As the third leg of the stool, however, government has failed to act.  Why is that, Ksoe wonders.  Another speaker provides poll results showing that a majority of Americans would like to see a single payer system, but few believe it will happen.

I have my own idea about why people suspect it is not likely to happen, and why government, and reform-minded candidates are dragging their feet.

The problem is that government funded health care smacks of socialism: socialized medicine is a dirty word.  Politicians are afraid of not being reelected, and industry sees a slippery slope.  Ford and company prefer to lay off workers rather than push for single payer health care, which would save them from the expense and allow them to keep more workers on the payroll.

If Americans want to catch up to the rest of the developing world, they have got to educate themselves to the fact that a) health care is a right not a luxury and b) given that it is a right, it is up to the government to protect it.

If you look up “single payer health care” on Google, you’ll get an idea of how fuzzy the presidential candidates are on the issue.  It looks like the only serious proposal is the one by John Conyers in the House, HR 676.   Make sure your representatives support it,  But also, become familiar with its terms so you can push presidential candidates in that direction.

Voters need to pressure presidential candidates to “go all the way” and declare for single payer health care instead of trying to placate the insurance and pharmaceutical industries: many doctors would be in favor of it.  And they need to support House Bill 676, and Senate Bill 300, by calling their elected representatives, writing to their local newspaper and doing all the good things an activist polity can do to get its way.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Elusive Victory

Every time a Republican politician opens his mouth he affirms that we have to "win this war", or "be victorious" in the fight against terrorism, yet victory" seems always just over a horizon toward which we repeatedly send more troops.

I don't think we're going to see those troops riding into the sunset any time soon,because our historical memory is short: victory generally goes to those who have been attacked.

Calling the war in Iraq and Afghanistan a response to the attack of September 11th violates the standard understanding of war:  we are not fighting troops representing a government that attacked us, but civilians who had nothing to do with the small group; that did attack us. As occupiers invariably do, we have installed puppet regimes to do our bidding and which, consequently, are seen by the population as part of our aggression.

That is shy we will never win.  The occupied populations will win, as they always have, we we leave.  Then they will be left with the task of remedying the situation that produced both American and Middle Eastern civilian casualties: their failure to achieve some measure of control over those who govern them.

But Americans shouldn't even throw stones:  though the scale is different, we are faced with the same problem. Who thinks the Mayor of Salt Lake City acted on his own when he called for the impeachment of George W. Bush?  Seeing the media suddenly unleashed against the administration, it's hard to believe the order didn't come from the Republican powers-that-be-  or that Democrats have not decided to go by way of Salt Lake City to reverse Nancy Pelosi's edict against impeachment.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


In case you’ve lost track, after arming the (Sunni) Taliban so they could better kick our communist enemy, the Soviet Union, out of Afghanistan. the Taliban’s ally, Al Qaeda, took us for their next target (9/11).  Strangely, most of the 9/11 highjackers weren’t from backward, rural, poppy-growing Afghanistan; they were from oil rich, modernizing Saudi Arabia.
Since we needed the oil, and the Bush and Saudi dynasty’s are intimate, instead of attacking Saudi Arabia, we attacked Iraq (so we could, eventually, get a hand on their oil, even if they didn’t have rulers in  impressive robes and headdresses that look so great on photo-ops).
That, as it turned out, opened an unexpected can of worms: the Iraqis manage to be Shia and Sunni (leaving out the Kurds for the sake of this story), and as soon as we hung the strong man who was more or less making them behave, they resumed their centuries’ long massacres, with us in the middle.
What to do?  The neighbors on one side are proud Persians, whose rulers in long robes and turbans, during the thirty years we stopped talking to them,  hired top scientists to bring the country up to par with their nuclear neighbors, Pakistan and India, not to mention Israel, a favorite enemy.
On the other side, the Syrians are....Alawites, a Sunni sect nobody seems to like, that has been meddling in Lebanon (which, it must be said, had been historically part of Greater Syria) for thirty years.
Movie makers especially should read Sandra Mackey’s book “Lebanon”, for inspiration on swashbuckling, feuding, feudal intrigues, complete with 20th century massacres in beautiful mountain landscapes as well as in the deceptively civilized, Mediterranean big money town of Beirut.
For a swashbuckling wide screen refresher course on how the Middle East was born out of desert kingdoms, get a copy of Lawrence of Arabia...
The Saudis may have the oil, but the Lebanese, according to Mackey, although they know how to wheel and deal, have no sense of country, only of clan and tribe. The Shia, led by Hizbollah, are the only group which has begun to think in terms of country, where they are the majority; they are financed by iran.
Saddam emancipated Iraqi women, built schools and hospitals, trained doctors, but neglected the Shia.  Now, with Iran’s help, it’s payback time.  In case you think this is all about religion, think again: the Shias, from the time 1400 years ago, when Mohammed's son in law, Ali, first got passed over as successor and then was killed on the battlefield, it’s been about moneymakers vs the downtrodden:  Ali was for the latter, as was the Prophet.
As Sunnis and Shia duke it out over the dead bodies of our soldiers, enter the Saudis: they’ve told us to support the Iraqi Sunnis (who are nominally in charge in the person of prime Minister Maliki) or else. The problem is that there are more Shias, and the Shias are close, religiously, to Iran, which may working toward a bomb.
Chalmers Johnson said it best on “Democracy Now” two days ago: “Iran will have the bomb, that’s normal, and we have to get used to it.”  You cannot expect a big, proud country surrounded by neighbors armed with the latest, not to want to equal the playing field.
Suymour Hersh yesterday added this little tidbit to the mix:  the former Saudi Ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar, is now Saudi Arabia’s chief national security advisor. We’ve progressed from merely training other country’s troops and police, to training their security advisors... in Crawford, Texas.
I don’t think the fact that the U.S. has accepted to attend a regional conference called by the embattled Maliki government, is, as some are claiming, a victory for  Rice and Gates over Cheney: I think it’s a victory for the Middle East, led by Saudi Arabia: Shia and Sunni may have their differences, but these pale in comparison to the presence, in Dar al Islam, of an infidel.
Oil must be sold, but it will be sold at conditions set by the owners.  The price the U.S. is expected to pay for the new agreement that formally hands Iraqi oil over to its oil companies may well be that we leave the Sunnis and Shias to fight out their millenarian wars without our interference.
That may be the most likely way the troops will come home soon.