|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Health Care Slime Machine|
By the numbers....
13 hours ago
In part one of his interview with Helen Thomas, longest-serving member of the White House Press Corps, Paul Jay asks her about her first question for President Obama. The question, asking President Obama to name all the countries in the Middle-East that have nuclear weapons, was avoided by the President, who claimed to not want to "speculate". Thomas claims that knowledge of Israeli nukes is very public in DC and Obama's answer shows a lack of credibility. She explains the importance of this question for U.S. policy in the region. Finally, she confides that she has not been called on by the President since that day, but that if she does, she will ask him whether or not he has found any more information about nukes in the Middle-East since their last encounter.
Michael D: Great article. Woody, I'm hoping to get your thoughts on something. Do you believe that the corporate control of our government and media is a conscious plot cultivated by a handful of people in power over the years, or just the natural and inevitable result of the capitalist system? I know you've spent a great deal of time on these issues, so I'd love to get your thoughts.
about an hour ago ·
Woody Aka-John Konopak That's a really good question, Michael. The answer is: Yes.
Yes, there is/are conspiracies. Of course there are. Why WOULDN'T people--wealthy, powerful people, with interests in STAYING wealthy and powerful-- conspire to use such influence as they had to affect events in directions which would redound to their benefit, and to preserve the system that advantages them so thoroughly?? Wouldn't you? It strikes me as peculiar to imagine there weren't such conspiracies.
Or that such folks wouldn't avail themselves of such advantages they might have through birth or industry or cunning or cruelty have access. These are 'structural" advantages, advantages available only to folks who tread in pretty esoteric circles. Privilege. You know it when you have it. You can find an approximation in "white privilege."
And then there are what Foucault called 'discursive practices.' These are the textual/ritual habits of institutions, the practices for which there is no single, nameable author, but the authority of which are irresistible. The often unstated, but consensually understood, arrangements, agreements, deals. If you ever spent any time in a corporate hierarchy, you know what I'm talking about.
Liebling said "dogs bard; politicians lie." And gamblers will cheat if they get a chance. And the games we're talking about here, there's always a chance to cheat.
And that --that chance to cheat--is what's built into Capitalism, as Marx pointed out 150 or so years ago.
William K. Black, author of THE BEST WAY TO ROB A BANK IS TO OWN ONE, teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri — Kansas City (UMKC). He was the Executive Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention from 2005-2007. He has taught previously at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and at Santa Clara University, where he was also the distinguished scholar in residence for insurance law and a visiting scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Black was litigation director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, deputy director of the FSLIC, SVP and general counsel of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, and senior deputy chief counsel, Office of Thrift Supervision. He was deputy director of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement. Black developed the concept of "control fraud" — frauds in which the CEO or head of state uses the entity as a "weapon." Control frauds cause greater financial losses than all other forms of property crime combined. He recently helped the World Bank develop anti-corruption initiatives and served as an expert for OFHEO in its enforcement action against Fannie Mae's former senior management.
In the struggle for racial justice, it’s time to pay more attention to the fears of white people.There's lots more...go read!
In a white-dominated world, that may seem counterintuitive. In the racial arena, what do we white people have to be afraid of?
There are lots of things to fear in this world, of course; race is not the only aspect of life in which people face injustice and inequality. A majority of people of all colors (including working-class and poor whites) struggles economically in a predatory corporate capitalist system, and all women, regardless of race, cope with gender discrimination and the threat of sexual violence in a male-dominated world.
But what fears could white people have as white people?
Understanding the fears behind the racial politics of both conservative and liberal whites can help guide strategy for changing a society in which wealth and well-being are still tied to race. And make no mistake, there is still a racialized gap between white and non-white America on measures of wealth and well-being—income, home ownership, graduation rates, access to health care, infant mortality, etc. In fact, the gap between white and black America on some of these measures is greater today than in the immediate aftermath of the major legislative achievements of the civil rights movement, and on some measures the rate of improvement is so glacial that it will be decades, if not centuries, before we reach equality. The legislative achievements that ended legal apartheid in America were a great victory, but the economic apartheid that remains is a reminder of our failures.
Put bluntly: The United States abolished a formal apartheid system but remains a white-supremacist society. After more than a decade of writing and speaking about these issues, which has sparked lots of feedback from all political angles, here’s what I have concluded about white folks and our fears.
For conservative white people, the dominant fear is of someday living without the privilege that comes with whiteness. Polite conservatives defend the primacy of “Western civilization.” More reactionary whites are openly racist about the threat that non-white peoples pose to “our way of life.” Both versions defend the existing distribution of wealth and power, even though many of the working-class and poor whites who endorse such views have access to precious little wealth or power. Race is used by white elites today, just as it was in the nation’s formative years, to drive a wedge between people who would otherwise come together to challenge those elites. Divide-and-conquer strategies, it seems, never go out of style.
Liberals are quick to denounce both the thinly veiled and the openly reactionary conservative racism. But what of the fears of liberals? White liberals might reject the very idea that they are afraid, citing their support for diversity and multiculturalism. But my experience suggests that while white liberals reject assertions of white supremacy, many fear the loss of white centrality. They are willing to renounce the idea that white people are superior, as long as they are allowed to live comfortably in a world where white is the norm.
In short, both the conservative and liberal positions are based on the same underlying assertion: “I’m white, and I’m special.” Conservatives are more likely to say it openly, while liberals tend to offer platitudes about racial justice while avoiding the risks required to make good on anti-racist principles.
What remains obscured is the distinctly uncivilized nature that Europeans and European Americans exhibited during their barbarous conquest of much of the world. The inherently fragile sense of white self-importance that emerges from that history is at the core of white fears—at some level, we all know that the truth of the depravity of white supremacy belies claims of white superiority.
For years, acclaimed author and speaker Tim Wise has been electrifying audiences on the college lecture circuit with his deeply personal take on whiteness and white privilege. In this spellbinding lecture, the author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son offers a unique, inside-out view of race and racism in America. Expertly overcoming the defensiveness that often surrounds these issues, Wise provides a non-confrontational explanation of white privilege and the damage it does not only to people of color, but to white people as well. This is an invaluable classroom resource: an ideal introduction to the social construction of racial identities, and a critical new tool for exploring the often invoked - but seldom explained - concept of white privilege. "Indeed, back in the late 80s and through the 90s, I used Wise' materials in many classes I taughyt at LSU, and later at U of the Okies...
Luck o'the Irish to ya, Mick, me b'y! And to all of us...
The Green They Steal, The Greed They Wear
...a St. Patrick's Day lament by Michael Moore
It was amazing. Every story on the front page of Monday's New York Times told the story of the Age of Greed during which a system known as capitalism is slowly, but surely, killing us:Insurance company greed: "Millions Spent to Sway Democrats on Health Care"There's now a daily parade of news like this -- well, not really "news," more like the media division of large corporations shoving your face into the dirt that is your life. You already know the schools are a disaster and the war is a boon for the Halliburtons and a bust for you. You don't need a newspaper to tell you the roads and electrical lines and the local sewage plant is in miserable disrepair.
War profiteers: "Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants"
There's no profit in repairing our infrastructure: "Repair Costs Daunting as Water Lines Crumble"
China, the bank: "China Uses Rules on Global Trade to Its Advantage"
You mean NAFTA didn't improve life in Mexico: "Two Drug Slayings in Mexico Rock US Consulate"
What happens when Big Food profits from hurting kids: "Forget Goofing Around: Recess Has New Boss"
And by now you've figured out that you don't really have any say in this, that what we call the "democratic process" is mostly a sham, pretty words that get repeated in the hopes we will all still fall for it. But the fix is in and we don't fall for it anymore. Admit it: Wall Street owns "our" Congress lock, stock and big barrel o' campaign cash. You want a say in this? Well, I don't see you on the Forbes 400, so shut the f@*& up and go fetch me another bottle of bubbly.
Within days, the House of Representatives will vote to pass the Senate health care "reform" bill. This bill is a joke. It has NOTHING to do with "health care reform." It has EVERYTHING to do with lining the pockets of the health insurance industry. It forces, by law, every American who isn't old or destitute to buy health insurance if their boss doesn't provide it. What company wouldn't love the government forcing the public to buy that company's product?! Imagine a bill that ordered every citizen to buy the extended warranty on all their appliances? Imagine a law that made it illegal not to own an iPhone? Or how 'bout I get a law passed that makes it compulsory for every American to go see my next movie? Woo-hoo! Who wouldn't love a sweet set-up like this windfall?
Well, the insurance companies -- get this -- don't like the Democrats' bill! That alone should be reason enough to vote for it.
Now, you would think these thieves would love this bill -- but they are actually fighting it. Why? Because it doesn't give them ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the what they want. It only gives them... 90%! YOU SEE, pure greed demands all or nothing.
The insurance industry hates this bill because it puts a few minor restrictions on them. Six months after its passage they won't be able to deny children coverage if they have a pre-existing condition. How awful! Government interference! SOCIALISM!
But, hey, they'll still be able to deny these children's parents coverage until 2014! So if a parent gets sick and dies in the next four years, I'm sure someone will step in and raise these already-insured orphans.
And how big will the fines be if the insurance companies do deny someone coverage for having a pre-existing condition? Are you sitting down? A hundred dollars a day! That's it! So if you're the insurance company, and Judy is a customer of yours, and Judy needs an operation that will cost $100,000, what do you do? You take the fine! Let's say Judy lives another year after you've sentenced her to death, your $100-a-day fine will only cost you $36,500! That's a savings of $63,500! And trust me, my friends, that's EXACTLY what's going to happen.
There are some good things in this bill. Parents will be able to keep their children on their policy until the kids turn 26. A few things like that. So, yes, pass that.
But don't insult me and 300 million Americans by calling this "health care reform." At least you've stopped calling it "universal health care." We will not have universal health care or anything close to it.
I wish the president and the Democratic leadership would just stand up and say, "We're sorry, America. We didn't get the job done you sent us here to do. We're weak and scared and unable to communicate the simplest of messages to the American people. Therefore, our bill will guarantee that 12 million of you will still have NO health insurance. And that's because we have decided to leave the greedy, private insurance industry in charge of our system. Forgive us for this and for continuing to allow profit to be the determining factor as to whether a patient gets the help she or he needs."
Please, Democrats -- just say that -- then pass this poor excuse of a bill. Pass it because, if President Obama takes a fall on this one, I don't know if he'll be able to get back up. And then NOTHING will get done. We can't have that. (And thank you Dennis Kucinich for hanging in there right up to the end and being the only one out of the 435 members to speak the awful truth.)
On the front page of yesterday's New York Times, the dateline was, sadly, once again, "Flint, Michigan." The story was about how doctors are no longer accepting Medicaid patients. Which means tens of thousands of poor can no longer go to the doctor. Last year, the State of Michigan also prohibited doctors from accepting Medicaid patients who had anything wrong with their vision, their hearing, their feet or their teeth. In a 16-county area northwest of Flint, there will soon be not one single hospital that will allow you to give birth there if you're on Medicaid. The official unemployment rate in Flint is 27% (unofficially, closer to 40%).
This is an American tragedy. And, as I've warned you for years, this tsunami is heading your way -- if it's not there already.
I've just turned on my new iPhone and it informs me that it has "apps" it would like to suggest I buy. One is called "Scanner." It will allow me to listen in on police scanners anywhere across the country. I buy the app. I see that the Flint police scanner is part of this. I turn it on out of curiosity. And this is what I hear, at one in the morning: A woman is being beaten by her husband... A home invasion is taking place ("16-year-old black male, wearing a white skull cap")... A child has been missing since noon today... Another woman is being beaten by her boyfriend... A diabetic, obese man is having trouble breathing and needs to be rushed to the hospital (there will be three more of these obese diabetics in the hours to come; the entire town is ill)... One more woman calling, screaming for help, "officers urged to use caution..."
...And on and on and on. This is what I have listened to before going to bed. I am filled with despair and helplessness as I hear my former neighbors crying out for help. I hate it. I have to turn it off. I start to cry. Thank you, iPhone. Thank you, Democrats. I'll sleep better knowing that you're looking out for all of us.
P.S. I'll continue my jihad today on Dylan Ratigan (MSNBC, 4pm ET) and, for the first time together in the same studio since our, um, 2007 debate, I'll join Wolf Blitzer live in his CNN Studio (5-8pm, ET). I'll also be on live for the entire 11am hour this morning on the wonderful Diane Rehm Show on NPR. You can listen live online here.
The rest of the day I'll spend wandering the halls of Congress with my shillelagh and shamrocks, doing my best impersonation of St. Patrick as I try to drive the snakes out of Capitol Hill. Wish me luck...
1. US Congress Sells Out to Wall Street--Worse than you EVER knew, but you knew that.
2. US Schools are More Segregated Today than in the 1950s--Worse than you imagined; it's not an accident.
3. Toxic Waste Behind Somali Pirates--Toxic, illegal, mid-ocean dumping kills off fishing industry.
4. Nuclear Waste Pools in North Carolina--You DIDN'T know? Ooooops...
5. Europe Blocks US Toxic Products--Including frankenfoods; smart fellas, them Euros
6. Lobbyists Buy Congress--Worse than you thought, by many, many magnitudes of badness..
7. Obama’s Military Appointments Have Corrupt Past--Worse than you remembered; they're a gang of international gangsters.
8. Bailed out Banks and America’s Wealthiest Cheat IRS Out of Billions--What's the point of having enormous wealth & power if you can't cherat with it?
9. US Arms Used for War Crimes in Gaza--War Materiele-R-USA: That it's the Israelis exterminating Arabbs is pure lagniappe..
10. Ecuador Declares Foreign Debt Illegitimate--A good move, long ovedrdue, and portentious, but nervy.
11. Private Corporations Profit from the Occupation of Palestine--In ways you don't WANT to know.
12. Mysterious Death of Mike Connell—Karl Rove’s Election Thief--The GOP's Top IT Guru bought under curious circumstances.
13. Katrina’s Hidden Race War--Death squads patrolled Algiers. This has been known for a LONG time.
14. Congress Invested in Defense Contracts--Corruption goes ALL ways.
15. World Bank’s Carbon Trade Fiasco--Ask 'Cui bono?"
16. US Repression of Haiti Continues--And we STILL hold their marker for Duvallier debts.
17. The ICC Facilitates US Covert War in Sudan--Indictment justifies military interference, regime change.
18. Ecuador’s Constitutional Rights of Nature --Declared national constitutional rights to nature, thus codifying a new system of environmental protection.
19. Bank Bailout Recipients Spent to Defeat Labor--BoA uased TARP money to sponsor anti-EFCA conference.
20. Secret Control of the Presidential Debates-- Campaigns jointly negotiated a detailed secret contract dictating the terms of the 2008 debates.
21. Recession Causes States to Cut Welfare--Nobody has said jack-shit about this; cf. NM Tortilla tax.
22. Obama’s Trilateral Commission Team--11 members occupy senior posts, similar to Bushevik PNAC numbers.
23. Activists Slam World Water Forum as a Corporate-Driven Fraud--Which it was.
24. Dollar Glut Finances US Military Expansion--To no one's surprise, but it does LOOK bad when you DEMAND your allies fund your wars.
25. Fast Track Oil Exploitation in Western Amazon--The 'culture war' for oil in paradise.
Power Grab: Comcast Has a New Name, but Merger With NBC Universal Still a Bad Idea
Comcast is a massive cable TV and Internet provider, which wants to merge with NBC Universal, one of the world's largest news and entertainment content providers.
March 12, 2010 | By Josh Silver, Mark Toney, Jorge Corralejo Len Canty & Samuel Kang
What do you do if you're a really big company that consumers despise, but you want government regulators to okay - and the public to accept -- a merger with another really big company?
Change your name, of course: introducing Xfinity (aka Comcast).
Comcast is a massive cable TV and Internet provider, which wants to merge with NBC Universal, one of the world's largest news and entertainment content providers.
However, a history of bad corporate citizenship, as indicated by this latest deceptive maneuver has caught up with Comcast. This Thursday, the U.S. Senate convened a legislative hearing to question Comcast and NBCU's CEOs on the social impact of the proposed merger.
You may have seen the recent commercials for XFinity: In February, Comcast began rebranding itself with this new name, promising customers "more of everything you want."
That would be a pleasant change, but consumers are rightly skeptical. After all, in a 2009 Forrester Research survey of customer satisfaction, Comcast ranked number 105 out of 113 companies. That's just one of many reasons that regulators should block the merger with NBC Universal - or, at the very least, attach tough conditions before letting it go forward.
The merger would give this massive new media conglomerate an unacceptable chokehold on innovation and the flow of information. It would have the potential to stifle the democratic, competitive nature of the budding internet content market and its small, independent businesses.
That's not idle speculation. After all, this is a company with quite an interest in politics: Comcast is reported to have spent over $5.5 million in campaign contributions since 2006, on top of over $50 million spent on lobbying in the last three years. Comcast has also been repeatedly and credibly accused of censorship of Internet and cable TV content and advertising, including both political messages and file-sharing applications. Do we really want to hand Comcast even more power over what we are allowed to view and download?
We have seen mega-deals like this one before fail and leave the merging companies in tatters. Recent history brings to mind the AOL-Time Warner break-up and Comcast's own botched attempt to acquire Disney. If Comcast-NBCU joins this list as the latest reckless corporate pipe dream to crash, do not expect Comcast and NBC CEOs Brian Roberts and Jeff Zucker to return their exorbitant salaries with their public apologies. No, the real pain will be felt by American employees and consumers.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) has rightly asked some tough questions of the CEOs of both Comcast and NBC Universal. Would they, for example, commit to holding cable rate increases to no more than the rate of inflation? Would they end the onerous practice of "bundling," that forces less-popular channels on unwilling buyers rather than letting them simply pay for the channels they want?
With Comcast remaining silent on many of these questions, its history of broken promises, deceitful customer relations, and underwhelming service speaks volumes. To be fair, Comcast's Roberts did give an assurance that there would be "no massive layoffs." That's nice, but awfully vague and glaringly insensitive at a time when the nation remains crippled by unemployment and Washington is scrambling to create jobs.
But despite concerns being voiced by many, a growing consensus seems to think this merger is inevitable -- the same sort of defeatist attitude that led to some banks becoming "too big to fail" and a mishandled bailout. Those "too big to fail" banks ultimately became too big to control.
Make no mistake: If this merger is approved, the floodgates will open and more will likely follow. CBS/Cox, perhaps? Or Cox/Disney?
Government regulators and officials bear the responsibility of reversing a recent trend of apathy and paralysis towards corporate misbehavior. We saw what happened with the banks bailouts. Even if they all hide behind tacky, new names, do we really want nearly all of our news and information channeled through a tiny handful of too-big-to-control media conglomerates?
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Same Time, different station: J. Kimmel (a basically unfunny man) previews the grifter Sarah Palin's "Reality show."
Last night Stephen Colbert sat down with Sean Hannity, who "joined [him] live from stuff [he] could edit together," and with some crafty splicing, proceeded to turn Hannity into an aspiring prostitute.
Colbert was determined to get Hannity's thoughts on the reports that James O'Keefe's ACORN videos had been "heavily edited" to be deceptive. Hannity had been silent on the issue, despite being a vocal supporter of O'Keefe.
Using the same misleading tactics O'Keefe employed, Colbert quickly got what he needed out of Hannity and moved along, donning a pimp's hat and coat. The "interview" was revealing, as Hannity was dying to get out on the streets and turn some tricks. The only thing holding him back: a lack of hooker boots and condoms.
This essay continues for some pages. There is a follow-up, dated a week later here.
Exposing the Great American Bubble Barons: Join Us in the Investigation
Join AlterNet's collective investigative project into the bubble barons who got obscenely rich as they destroyed our economy. Help hold them accountable with Citizen Journalism.
A century ago, the robber barons at the helm of the U.S. economy were easily identifiable titans of industry: Andrew Carnegie of Carnegie Steel, John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil, financier and steel magnate J.P. Morgan. It was easy to draw the link between the robber barons' brutal business practices and their immense wealth; it was clear that these businessmen were, quite literally, robbing the American people in the course of amassing their fortunes.
The influence of today's super-rich is significantly harder to trace. Much of their wealth is managed in opaque Wall Street investment vehicles and byzantine corporate structures. They are less likely to slap their names on their ventures, and their profitable relationships with the most destructive segments of our economy are hidden behind layers of corporate control. In our post-industrial economy, they amass wealth not by producing things with actual value, but rather by riding waves of speculation, such as the housing bubble, to dizzying heights of wealth.
Today's super-rich are not robber barons, but bubble barons: they extract their fortunes from intensifying cycles of imaginary wealth creation and destruction, live at a far remove from their businesses, and evade accountability in the public spotlight. The robber barons stood behind their economic crimes; the bubble barons, for the most part, do not.
Beginning today, AlterNet and LittleSis.org are partnering in an investigation of these bubble barons -- a select group of American multi-billionaires who saw astronomic gains in wealth during the housing bubble, and who so far have evaded all accountability in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Who are they? Where did their wealth come from? Where has it gone? How do they exercise their influence?
To find out, we need your help: Click here to sign up with LittleSis.org and join AlterNet's investigation of America's bubble barons. (E-mail email@example.com if you have any questions.)
Once you sign up, you'll receive instructions about how you can help with our research. You will also receive instructions on how to use LittleSis, a platform for collaborative research on influential Americans, which we like to call an "involuntary facebook."
We've identified 67 "bubble barons" (also listed below) to target with this investigation. All are worth $2 billion or more, and all have ties to the industries that benefited most from the housing bubble: real estate and finance. Some, such as New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, have enjoyed increases of over 400 percent on what were substantial fortunes in the pre-bubble years. Others, such as former Enron trader John Arnold, are newly minted billionaires.
Following the bubble barons' money will be a key component of our investigation; naturally, this will entail a closer look at their charitable and political activities. Bloomberg, for one, supports public health initiatives through his family foundation. George Soros is a well-known funder of progressive causes through his Open Society Institute. The Koch brothers, on the other hand, are prominent backers of conservative organizations.
All of these fortunes were built on the illusion of a sound economy -- an illusion that came crashing down for most of the country in 2007 and 2008, as record numbers of Americans lost their homes to foreclosure and saw their jobs disappear.
But the illusion didn't come crashing down for the bubble barons. The U.S. government came to their rescue, in the form of massive, taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts and a monetary policy that rewards wealth, above all -- the bubble barons, above all. While Americans struggle under the burden of double-digit interest rates on mortgages and credit cards and see their savings accounts eke out gains measured in basis points, the bubble barons are essentially getting paid unprecedented amounts to sit on their money, simply because they have lots and lots of it.
Russ Baker appears on the PBS station WGBH with host Emily Rooney to discuss the stunning revelations contained in his new book on the Bush Dynasty,Family of Secrets.It is a remarkable fact that there have been two men directly descendded from Hitler's American banker, and one of the plotters who enlisted Gen. Smedley Butler to overthrow Roosevelt have been "elected" president or vice-president, and none of the information about their family history seems to have lodged in the public awareness.
Interview topics range from George Bush Seniors secret life in intelligence work preceding his directorship of the CIA; answers to why the elder Bush cannot remember where he was the day John F. Kennedy was shot; new information on George W. Bushs missing military service; and the back story to the American relationship to Saudi Arabia and oil.
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