Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Dick Lugar boldly redefines “success,” “satisfy,” “American people”

Posted in Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Democrats, Republicans, war, War on Terror, world by allisonkilkenny on June 20, 2010

Now matter how fast he ran, the dictionary kept making swift gains

Here’s a strange one. Today, Candy Crowly interviewed Senators Lieberman, Murkowski, Feinstein, and Lugar, and somehow managed to survive to tell the tale of it. Feinstein and Lugar specifically talked about Afghanistan, and Candy pointed out how the whole thing has turned into a bottomless quagmire of despair and suffering.

My words, not hers. Feinstein thinks people like me are Negative Nellies. I guess she was included in this conversation as the “liberal” answer to the Republicans’ crazies, but honestly, she sounded like a chickenhawk most of the time. The Taliban is bad. Really, Diane? I had no idea. I thought all that acid they threw in the faces of schoolgirls was part of an exfoliation regimen.

But the gold medal for “What’d He Say?” in punditry excellence goes to Dick Lugar for this exchange. My comments [in brackets]:

CROWLEY: Senator Lugar, she paints a pretty grim picture about a war that’s been going on for nine-plus years. [Again, I thought Feinstein was pretty conservative in her language, but then again, I’m a shrill, hysterical, irrational leftist agent]. If had you to say, on this day I will know that the U.S. has succeed and we can begin bringing troops home, what would that day look like?

LUGAR: Well, your question implies that we’ve defined success, and we’ve never got to that point. That’s a part of our problem, that we’re going to have, as a government, whether it be the president or the Congress, to define success in a way in which the American people find this to be satisfying. Otherwise we’ll continue to argue about the date of withdrawal or how fast, or how — whether we surge more or less, without ever having defined exactly what it is hope from Afghanistan. [What’d he say?]

Wait, what? The only barometer we have for “success,” which, btw, we haven’t even defined, is the satisfaction of the American people? So basically, whatever the American people desire shall by default become the parameters of “success.”

(more…)

Rich white man declares victory for feminism

Here is Ross Douthat explaining why a billionaire, anti-choice zealots, and right-wing extremists hijacking U.S. politics is a victory for vaginas everywhere.

When historians set out to date the moment when the women’s movement of the 1970s officially consolidated its gains, they could do worse than settle on last Tuesday’s primaries.

I’ll give him points for a hilariously hyperbolic opening. Make your case, sailor.

It was a day when most of the major races featured female candidates, and all the major female candidates won. They won in South Dakota and Arkansas, California and Nevada. They won as business-friendly moderates (the Golden State’s Meg Whitman); as embattled incumbents (Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln); as Tea Party insurgents (Sharron Angle in Nevada). South Carolina gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley even came in first despite multiple allegations of adultery.

But mostly, they won as Republicans. Conservative Republicans, in fact. Conservative Republicans endorsed by Sarah Palin, in many cases. Which generated a certain amount of angst in the liberal commentariat about What It All Meant For Feminism.

The question of whether conservative women get to be feminists is an interesting and important one. But it has obscured a deeper truth: Whether or not Palin or Fiorina or Haley can legitimately claim the label feminist, their rise is a testament to the overall triumph of the women’s movement.

Yesterday, I wrote about media pundits’ propensity to portray the extremely old and familiar as fresh and exciting. They do this to sell papers, drum up website hits, and to appear insightful and necessary. Maybe a handful do it out of boredom, or stupidity, believing what they are seeing really is something revolutionary.

In reality, there is nothing more sexist than assuming any woman’s political victory — regardless of the type of woman — is a progressive step forward for the feminist movement. Women are people, and people are a diverse bunch. It still matters what kind of woman wins the election. And the kind of women that won these races are either preposterously wealthy, staunch anti-feminists, or a healthy combination of both.

What happened on election day is an old story: rich, mostly white, right-wingers won. Oh, and they also happen to be girls. Hooray.

Basically, it will take more than Douthat calling this a victory for feminism to make it so.

California

Meg Whitman, the billionaire former eBay chief executive, won the Republican nomination for governor after spending a record $71 million of her money on the race. Quite simply, Whitman bought her victory, and this has nothing to do with the bonds of sisterhood or feminine strength. This is corporatism in a skirt.

In fact, Whitman herself seems to hate the notion of feminism. At least, she certainly doesn’t want anyone calling her such an offensive term. When asked if she is a feminist, Whitman replied, “I am a big believer in equal rights for all people … in a level playing field.” But she said, “I’m not a big label person.”

This could be NOW’s new slogan: Taking action for women’s equality since 1966…or whatever…we’re not big label people.

Arkansas

I know when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were taking on the male-dominated establishment, what sustained them was the thought that one day Blanche Lincoln (D-Walmart) would squeak out a victory despite being a corporate whore.

Apparently, it doesn’t matter than Lincoln is a turncoat Blue Dog Democrat, who voted with Republicans to allow warrantless government surveillance, the invasion of Iraq, and shot down the public option. All that matters is the stuff between her legs, which sort of goes against the whole notion of “feminism,” but nevermind. A girl won!

Nevada

And then there’s Sharron Angle. I’ve written about her support of the right-wing extremist fringe, but Douthat skims over such silly details for the sake of preserving his narrative i.e. Things Are Super Awesome For Women Right Now. He’s going to jam this premise down your throat even though women earn around 79% of men’s median weekly salaries, and Congress just passed a healthcare bill that dramatically diminishes a woman’s right to choose the fate of her own body.

Angle proposed a bill that “would have required doctors to inform women seeking abortions about a controversial theory linking an increased risk of breast cancer with abortion.” (The abortion-causes-breast cancer theory is a myth, and was spread, in part, to discourage abortions). But I hear lying to scared, pregnant women for the sake of controlling their bodies is all the rage right now in the neo-feminist movement.

South Carolina

Other than the novelty of having survived not one — but multiple — allegations of adultery, Nikki Haley is extremely typical of the right-wing fringe. She has a 100 percent rating from the anti-abortion S.C. Citizens for Life group, and she calls on her website for the deportation of illegal immigrants. Oh, and if any of her white supremacist base, who may confuse her for a “raghead,” were concerned, don’t worry. She converted to Christianity.

Modern Republicans have grown wise to the fact that they’re never going to defeat feminism. Try as they did to shame, humiliate, and dismiss feminists as a bunch of ugly, barren spinsters, who refuse to shave their legs and can’t land a man, the propaganda campaign didn’t stick. Now, they’re left with only one option: hijack the movement.

In the same way President Obama’s victory was a sign that affirmative action is “no longer necessary,” so the victories of a handful of women (be they billionaires, right-wing extremists, turncoats, or militant anti-choicers) herald the dawn of a new feminism: one that is staunchly anti-woman, and represents only a class of wealthy, pro-Business, right wing extremists.

(more…)

Shameless Democratic-Socialist Propaganda

Posted in atheism, Democrats, media, politics by allisonkilkenny on April 8, 2009

YM001405Typical. The Times is at it again. The liberal rag published another thinly-veiled, socialist rant in Tuesday’s edition. Though, this time, the diatribe came from an unlikely source: David Brooks, the Canadian-American columnist, who has served as senior editor to the Weekly Standard, contributes his thoughtful analyses to the Atlantic Monthly, and identifies himself as a “moderate conservative.”

Of course, David is completely unaware that he makes a perfect plea of his readers to join the Democratic-Socialist cause. His column explores the roots of morality, and rattles off scientific theories about where our morality comes from, and how it benefits us as a society to have “morals.” It’s actually pretty interesting, though the best part comes when David steps back and analyzes “morality” i.e. communal spirit:

Like bees, humans have long lived or died based on their ability to divide labor, help each other and stand together in the face of common threats. Many of our moral emotions and intuitions reflect that history. We don’t just care about our individual rights, or even the rights of other individuals. We also care about loyalty, respect, traditions, religions. We are all the descendents of successful cooperators. 

But David, what of that “rugged individualism” that Conservatives so cherish and praise? Are you saying that gallivanting around a dude ranch, refusing to pay taxes and/or care for our fellow humans, is not only the behavior of a selfish, childish asshole, but also detrimental to society itself?

The first nice thing about this evolutionary approach to morality is that it emphasizes the social nature of moral intuition. People are not discrete units coolly formulating moral arguments. They link themselves together into communities and networks of mutual influence.

Like unions, perhaps? But those are the things your Conservative brethren are fighting tooth and nail to suffocate! They’ll be the reason the Employee Free Choice Act fails in Congress. You should really share with them your revelations about all of this “help thy neighbor” stuff, and how it’s so great for our society.

And don’t let Rush hear you talk like that. On the other hand, you may be safe. He’s too busy packing (thank you, Jesus) his things, and moving out of New York. 

The second nice thing is that it entails a warmer view of human nature. Evolution is always about competition, but for humans, as Darwin speculated, competition among groups has turned us into pretty cooperative, empathetic and altruistic creatures — at least within our families, groups and sometimes nations.

Tell your Wall Street buddies that, David. Drop some knowledge onto their finally coifed ‘dos, and let them know competition isn’t everything, that human beings are more than stocks, portfolios, credit default swaps, and speculative mortgages. Ask those financial firm CEOs if jumping out of the burning building with $23 million in severance is an altruistic act, or the act of a pirate.

I’m sorry. That’s not fair. Pirates were actually very democratic creatures that allowed voting and egalitarian debate. They also didn’t profit from suckering poor people into bad loans. Of course, they raped a lot, which is definitely a tick in the “Bad” column.

But I digress. As if he knew I would be reading him today, David throws this curveball at the last possible moment:

[The rise and now dominance of this emotional approach to morality] challenges the new atheists, who see themselves involved in a war of reason against faith and who have an unwarranted faith in the power of pure reason and in the purity of their own reasoning.

…What? Did David Brooks just cite a scientific theory at length, and then in the last paragraph of his column, thumb his nose at atheists who believe in — wait for it — science and reason?

On behalf of the human species, I apologize to the trees that gave their lives for David Brooks’ pointless musings to be published in otherwise highly usable column space.

What an embarrassment.

What the Watchmen Can Teach Democrats

Posted in Democrats, politics by allisonkilkenny on March 12, 2009

Allison and Jamie discuss how the new film, Watchmen, can teach Democrats to grow spines.

watchmen-6-1

Listen here:

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Visit us on Breakthru Radio. Listen to our archives here.

Karl Rove Is Tweetin’ Mad

Posted in Democrats, politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on March 11, 2009

oxyrushKarlRove: In the face of our enormous economic challenges, top WH aides decided to pee on Limbaugh’s leg. http://tinyurl.com/d8w6ad #TCOT #SGP

Um, Karl? The reason Dems are attacking Rush is because he’s the only so-called Coservative even offering the slightest hint of an ideology or plan for the future for his party.

The rest of the Repubs are throwing hissyfits over earmarks, and shrieking at the thought of biapartisanship. At least Rush is trying to lead the disenchanted masses. Granted, the direction is off a cliff, but still…

“I won” — Barack Obama

Posted in Barack Obama, Democrats, Economy, politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on January 23, 2009

Good for him.

Talking Points Memo posted a story about Chuck Todd (the poor man’s Tim Russert) wringing his hands over the lack of bipartisan results in the stimulus bill currently sitting in committee.

We’re sitting here watching Robert Gibbs’ White House briefing. And there is a long string of questions about whether Obama can really working in a bipartisan manner if no Republicans are saying nice things about the stimulus bill or voting for the mark-ups out of committee. And Chuck Todd just asked whether Obama would veto a stimulus bill that came to his desk that hadn’t gotten Republican support.

That would be quite a moment.

And Obama’s response to more spineless, moderate Democrat whining?  

Politico

President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning – but he also left no doubt about who’s in charge of these negotiations. “I won,” Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.  

Well, knock me over with a fucking feather. Was that tough talk from a Democrat? More, please.

Kennedy Out. Gillibrand In.

Posted in Democrats, politics by allisonkilkenny on January 22, 2009
398px-kirsten_gillibrand_official_photo_portrait_2006

"I'm not a Democrat. I'm a Blue Dog."

Politico and other media sources are reporting that governor David Paterson has chosen Kristen Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton’s vacant Senate seat.

Gillibrand is a Blue Dog Democrat, which is the name moderate Democrats gave themselves so people stopped confusing them with Republicans. Gillibrand is a pro-gun, fiscally conservative “Democrat.” Blue Dog Democrats are the people who cower at the word “liberal,” and fail to acknowledge that the only gains we — as a country — have made regarding civil rights were because of those dreaded, damn liberals

I have previously criticized the nomination of Caroline Kennedy because she was clearly a legacy selection. Let’s pretend her name was Caroline Smith, or Caroline Martinez, and she boasted of zero legislative experience, and could only incoherently mutter something about her daddy when asked why she wanted to fill one of two coveted Senate seats. No one would have considered such an applicant. Hence, why I hated the idea of Caroline Kennedy in the Senate. I’ve heard just enough about Camelot, thanks very much.

But Gillibrand is part of the same politically incestual community. During the Clinton years, she serves as Special Counsel to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Andrew Cuomo, another nominee for Clinton’s seat. She too hosts lavish fundraising parties (out of state, an accusation she ironically used against one of her former political opponents, John Sweeney). Kennedy, no doubt, was seriously considered for the Senate role specifically for her fundraising abilities (the name Kennedy brings in a hefty chunk of change,) so it’s to be expected that cash cows are always at the forefront of these kinds of nominations.

I was really hoping Paterson would go for a fresh political name like Nydia Velasquez, who has served in the House for 15 years, and was the first Puerto Rican woman to serve in Congress. She has dealt primarily with small businesses, and is largely unknown in the political community, but I think that’s a good thing. Kennedy is very well known, has less experience than Velasquez, and I was supposed to take her seriously as a candidate, so why not Nydia? Oh, right, she’s not a legacy, or a Blue Dog.

At least Caroline was unapologetically liberal, a privilege only afforded to Kennedys, it seems. If you have a yacht, you get to look your fellow Democrats square in the eyes and say, “I believe in equal rights and not torturing foreigners. Fuck you.” But if you’re a middle-rank Democrat, you have to pathetically triangulate and apologize until you don’t even look like a Democrat anymore, and -BAM!- you wake up and your name is Kristen Gillibrand and you’re in the Senate.

Gross.

Cannibal Democrats and Other Very Bad Things

Posted in Barack Obama, Democrats, politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on August 7, 2008

If I was going to dress as a Neo-Conservative for Halloween, I would wear an expensive pantsuit (complete with flag-pinned lapel,) carry the Bible under one arm, the Economist under the other, and arrange my hair in a humorless coif at the top of my skull. I would drape a crucifix around my neck and march around the neighborhood. I would glare at everyone with a mixture of suspicion and condemnation.

Instead of accepting candy, or as I would call them “heathen bribes,” (because really, that’s all a Snickers bar is,) I would ask people about their mostly deeply held beliefs. And when the answers inevitably came back to me in the form of unsatisfactory, stuttering, liberal lisps, I would scream at them until I was hoarse and the costumed children around me were all sobbing.

But that’s only if I was going to dress as a Neo-Conservative for Halloween. I would only dress and behave these ways if I was imitating a small-minded, fearful, prejudiced individual so afraid of conflict that they resort to tantrums any time anyone disagrees with them. In previous years, I wouldn’t have categorized Democrats in this school of “Yer With Us Or Yer With The Terrerists.” In this election year, things are different.


Every peace-loving liberal knows the sting of being branded “weak,” “soft on defense,” or if you’re being interviewed by Bill O’Reilly, a “Communist,” or “Nazi” (because we all know how much the Nazis loved peace). In 2003, it wasn’t popular to be against the war, and a lot of Democrats took a lot of heat for having the courage to stand up and say: This is wrong. We’re compromising too much here.

Now, Democrats are making the very same assaults against their own party members. When fellow Democrats express concern over Obama’s shifting stances on a host of issues, or heaven forbid, an interest in hearing from a third-party candidate, all hell breaks lose. Criticizing Obama’s policies and early moves toward triangulation earns one the label “traitor” from the Democratic community itself.

I have received a plethora of frantic e-mails from people across the country about how they’ve been ostracized from their parochial Democratic communities for daring to criticize Obama, or having the gall to suggest Ralph Nader has a place in a three-way debate. These letters read like the sender is being held hostage: “…Felt so alone…Please send help….So tired….so….tired.” I can almost hear the hysterical weeping when I read them.

The assault isn’t just coming from their friends and family. It’s spouting everywhere from the so-called liberal media (the people who claim they’re all for free speech). Take for example this bit of ridiculous: Eleanor Randolph’s mind-numbingly stupid anti-Nader op-ed in the New York Times. It’s short, probably because she realized her opinions were leading her toward a vast pit of despair and wandering premises, so she quickly wrapped things up before critical thinking entered the mix.

In Ralph Nader: Going, Going, Not Gone (GET IT?!) Randolph bemoans the fact that Nader is running for president again because she’s just like SO totally bored with him! Then she she actually expresses confusion over Nader’s anti-corporate greed stances and then goes on to claim none of the Presidential candidates are in the pockets of big business because, well, none of them have publicly claimed to be in the pocket of big businesses! After all, they would admit that kind of thing, people! An air-tight case from an ace reporter. I feel safer knowing this woman is sitting on the board of one of the largest newspapers in the country.

And this is a so-called journalist writing. At least, to her credit, Randolph doesn’t dissolve into hysterical accusations. She admits that the evidence for Nader having lost Gore the 2000 election is weak, and she never accused Nader supporters of being traitors to their own party. If only this was the case everywhere.

It saddens me that the discourse has dissolved into baseless accusations within the Democratic party. The branding goes far beyond “traitor.” To accuse Obama of betraying his base sometimes has far uglier results. The label “racist” is haphazardly catapulted far too frequently, which is all the more unfortunate because some people ARE making racist statements about Obama and his wife, Michelle. But every criticism of Obama isn’t inherently an attack on his race. We’re not all Geraldine Ferraro, thank you very much.

I believe the Democratic party is still the party of reason and compassion. I believe Democrats take pride in their party’s tradition of engaging in open dialogs and discussing conflicting ideas in the hopes of elevating the party’s collective ideologies to new, exciting places. This tradition invites not only their rival parties into the room, but also members of their own party, who for whatever reason, have veered away from the Main Candidate, and are looking elsewhere for answers.

Instead of shunning those who criticize Obama’s handling of FISA and offshore drilling, or those individuals who are considering voting for Ralph Nader come November, Democrats should address the causes of these symptoms of anger and mistrust within their own party, all of which stem from an ideologically sick candidate, who has begun to play fast and loose with his principles.

These disillusioned Democrats aren’t traitors, and don’t deserve the burden of the unfair and immature dismissal: “Well, ENJOY President McCain, asshole!” Such digressions are why Democrats are forever on the defensive and the Republicans, year-after-year, are permitted to set the agenda. Democrats have an identity crisis and continue to publicly shun their brand as the progressive, peace-loving party. Worse than trying to mimic Republicans, now the party has turned cannibalistic and Democrats are attacking Democrats. Obamaniacs hate the Nader Raiders, and the Nader Raiders resent the fact that they feel ostracized for being too liberal and too progressive…whatever those labels mean nowadays.

A party is only as good as its ideas, and if the Democrats turn into the two-dimensional cartoon characters on FOX news, the screaming idiots that shout sound bites at each other from across the table, then they might as well sculpt their hair into humorless coifs, throw crucifixes around their necks, and call themselves Neo-Conservatives.

Cognitive dissonance (the uncomfortable feeling or stress caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously) is a good thing as long as there is resolution. Resolution comes when one ideology is cast aside because the other is deemed possessing a higher value.

Those Democrats disillusioned with Obama aren’t lost causes. In fact, they’re right to feel scathed, confused, and betrayed (a little bit) by their man, Obama. He redacted on his promises, and now he should be held accountable by his own party. Ya’ know, the the same party claiming that politicians should be held accountable for their actions. That’s a universal rule. Yes, even when it’s YOUR guy who is lying, or “triangulating.”

But the Democrats must keep talking and debating if they are to remain the party that likes diplomacy. They can’t be so quick to label their own members as traitors the second things get really tough, Obama’s shining star dims a bit, and he’s revealed as a complex, flawed human being like all the rest.

Pray Yourself Better: It’s The American Way!

Posted in Barack Obama, Democrats, religion by allisonkilkenny on July 2, 2008

Ideological contortionist, Barack Obama, marches toward his personal goal of causing one million progressives’ heads to simultaneously explode.

He obtained an essential first step toward this aim when he capitulated on FISA, a move so contradictory to the core of the Progressive movement that outraged midget, Markos “Dailykos” Moulitsas, yanked a generous contribution from Obama’s bony fingers as punishment for the sneaky, immoral maneuver. Moveon.org was also unhappy with Obama, all of which brings to mind the ancient expression: If You Wrong The Progressives, Protect Your Crotch.

These burns aren’t going to heal any time soon. John Kerry turned out to be an empty shell of a candidate, but Barack Obama had real potential, or so the Progressives thought. They sunk their time and money into Obama, and as thanks, he turned around and bit the hands that fed him.

Selling out his Progressive base on FISA was bad enough, but then Obama followed up his gradual tumble toward triangulation when he recently vowed to expand Bush’s faith-based programs.

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Defenders of Obama’s latest selling-out point claim churches are an essential party of American society because the institutions provide basic services like feeding the poor. Except, churches have no business substituting for the government in anti-poverty campaigns.

If churches hold the occasional bake sale to help the Harper family pay for Little Matty’s liver transplant, that’s all well and good. However, any politician seriously claiming churches should substitute for government programs needs to have their head examined. It’s the job of the state to care for its citizens, namely because the state is Constitutionally secular, forbidding government agents to deny care on the grounds of theological loyalty.

In a way, asking the church to step up and care for the poor in lieu of a comprehensive, meaty welfare program is like abandoning the American post office in favor of using FedEx. It’s yet another dig at the innards of the American infrastructure. It’s yet another way to privatize a normal function of the government. Of course, in this case, it’s selling out pro bono because the church claims to operate without the explicit intent of profit. I guess we’re not counting those basket donations…

Even if Obama proposed the expansion as an accessory program where the church just gets to “come along for the poverty ride,” the idea is still worse than dumb, it’s downright insulting. When will a progressive candidate have the courage to admit they have no business dictating moral values? When will a progressive acknowledge that triangulation brought us to this place, where the American people have no bargaining chips left? They’re poor, they’re losing their jobs because of triangulating land mines like NAFTA, and those jobs are not coming back. They have no health care, their food and environment are poisoned, and Barack Obama tells them to go to church and pray for a miracle.

And that’s the progressive talking. Just imaging the steaming pile of shit resting on John McCain’s tongue.

“The challenges we face today … are simply too big for government to solve alone,” Obama explained when confronted by foaming-at-the-mouths Progressives.

Um, what? So let me get this straight: We pay taxes for a government unable to do its job. We elect representatives, like Barack Obama, to overhaul a broken system that has abandoned its own constituents, and instead of creating a bold, radical agenda, Obama perpetuates the status quo. Obama chooses to invest his trust in the church instead of in the political system that has invested in him this great and rare opportunity to fix an ailing society. He chooses to entrust a brothel of fairy tales with the safety of the people instead of a responsible, secular government.

What the hell is he thinking? Unless there’s a business model somewhere where “priest molestations” plus “dangerous ignorance” equals “profit” that I don’t know about, this appears to be yet another grave error from the Obama camp.

More surprising than Obama selling out his progressive base is the stubbornness with which some progressives have reacted during these gradual moves toward triangulation. One such supporter explained to me, “You can’t drive the bus without the keys,” meaning Obama is just faking his way into the White House with these “moderate” moves and bushels of “compromises.”

But this kind of logic ignores Quid Pro Quo, where Wall Street lobbyists, who have sunk nearly twice as much money into Obama as they have McCain, will demand favors in exchange for their generosity.

Obama is already in debt, but the progressives seem to think he’ll experience a kind of miraculous spell of transubstantiation during his inauguration where his past corruptions will turn into delicious wine and universal health care. It ain’t, as they say, gonna happen, folks. At least, it won’t happen without the motivation of a seriously pissed-off base.

Of course, the motivation of his pissed-off base was supposed to have been what was going to keep Obama on track in the first place. With that not working, progressives have few options left, and their trust is waning in the last great savior for the so-called progressive movement.

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The Health Insurance Scam Revealed

Posted in Barack Obama, Democrats, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on June 1, 2008
I have an idea for a health insurance company, one that is sure to work really well. Here’s the pitch:

You pay me a fee every month—say, between $500 and $1,000—and I pocket the money. In return, in the event you need someone to cover your medical expenses, I’ll tell you in so many words to go fuck yourself, you’re on your own. I’ll use any excuse to deny your claim, and if one of my employees does the unthinkable and puts me in a position of having to shell out money to pay for your freeloading, I’ll send that imbecile to join you on the unemployment line.

I might feel the occasional bout of generosity; I might deign to throw you the occasional bone, just to keep you complacent, and cover some minor thing. But don’t expect me to pay for your heart operation. What were you doing wearing it out by making it beat so much, anyway? Don’t you know that’s a sure-fire way to end up needing surgery at some point? Especially if you don’t take care of yourself by eating right and exercising regularly? And you can forget about that cancer treatment. Drugs cost money. Go buy your own. I’m busy counting.

By the way, you can forget about complaining. Even if you manage to get through the array of computers set up to discourage you from lodging a complaint, any human employee is going to give you the runaround, too. Raise too much of a ruckus, and I’ll just cancel your policy. That’ll show you, you ingrate.

And I won’t stop there. Just in case some uppity customer decides this isn’t legal, or shouldn’t be, I’ll use some of the money you pay me every month to bribe politicians in the form of campaign contributions to pass legislation protecting my right to bilk you for those monthly fees. Oh, sure, you might complain. You might even try to vote out corrupt politicians who accept my bribes, but by the time you get off your lazy ass I’ll have bought pretty much everyone in D.C. and the fifty states who might be capable or inclined to resist. Let’s face it: with campaigns costing more and more money each cycle, politicians listen to those who can fork over a hell of a lot more than that measly ten or twenty dollars you can afford to part with. You’re screwed.

Great idea, right? Well, not for you, but we’re talking about me. You don’t factor into the equation, except as an ever-opening wallet. What’s that? You don’t think it’s so hot a concept? You’re right, it isn’t. But that’s exactly what you buy into whenever you sign up for insurance from companies ranging from Humana to Kaiser Permanente. The only difference between what I pitched to you, and what the health insurance industry tells you, is that I’m being up front about my intentions.

The health insurance industry is the among the biggest and most successful scam operations in the history of the United States. It is set up to get you to pay money in return for almost nothing. And because what little public health care exists is severely underfunded, and qualifications limited only to certain cross-sections of the poor and elderly, this means your options for alternatives are extremely limited. In fact, nearly fifty million Americans have no recourse but to go without insurance, because they cannot afford the premiums (I’m one of them, by the way).

How did all this get started? As Michael Moore pointed out in his excellent documentary, SiCKO (which I blogged about last year), the scam was created when the CEO of Kaiser Permanente at the time had his flunkies meet with then-president Richard Nixon to discuss how the insurance industry could kill two birds with one stone: kill what public health insurance existed, and ensure that it could never return, and become obscenely wealthy in the process. It wasn’t long afterward that Nixon pushed through Congress legislation that would fundamentally alter the health care system of the United States—for the worse.

What Nixon and Kaiser rammed through Congress resulted in the creation of the HMO system we suffer today. It’s the scam outfit that separates you from your money, while denying you coverage for your medical expenses. And you allow it to go on. Why is this? I could write a dissertation about it, but essentially it all boils down to fear and the dominance of the right in the media on issues such as health care. Professor George Lakoff of Berkley University described in 2005 how conservatives have come to shape and control the national discussion, and get Americans to vote against their own interests. The fear element involves scaring you with horror stories of socialism and the loss of freedom, never mind that you’ve already given up your freedom.

The problem is compounded not only by the failure of the Democratic Party to oppose this sort of swindle, but in its embrace of the status quo as a matter of policy. While Barack Obama builds up his illusion of progressivism, his actual history suggests he is not prepared to challenge the status quo at all, but merely is all too willing to continue it. Hillary Clinton joins him in being among the top recipients of bribe money from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. The two Democratic rivals for the presidency have even taken millions of dollars in bribe money from health professionals. And we all know where Republican John McCain stands on the issue of health care: more of the same.

This is the scam you pay for with your tax dollars, and the money you pay out of pocket. In my next entry, I’ll tell you how you can do something about it.

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