by architek, Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 12:23:39 PM EDT
After yesterday's fiasco and todays substantial electoral victory, I keep finding myself thinking that Hillary Rodham Clinton should PERHAPS consider mounting an independent candidacy.
by architek, Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 12:23:39 PM EDT
After yesterday's fiasco and todays substantial electoral victory, I keep finding myself thinking that Hillary Rodham Clinton should PERHAPS consider mounting an independent candidacy.
by architek, Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 05:51:57 AM EDT
Over the last few months, ever since I realized that Jim Cooper, the 'fixer' who derailed universal healthcare in 1994, was part of Obama's campaign, I have kept coming back to the idea in my mind that Obama may be an extremely slick 'fixer' for the healthcare and defense industries.
Its a conspiracy theory, of course, but its an idea that wont go away for me.
And yesterday, I think I am starting to see that its not just Obama, perhaps. Perhaps a large percentage of the Democratic establishment probably desperately wants to avoid being associated with helping the poor. They want to avoid new entanglements. Jobs are disappearing, and its going to get a lot worse before it gets better. The defense industry is also I am sure terrified of things like healthcare and education, which at some point, really should start getting some of that HUGE Pentagon budget. After all, the Cold War is over, they often lament. They need Cheney's perpetual war, At least one war, and if they don't or can't wrangle that, they really need a GOOD fixer. Or many!
The poor and soon to be poor also need a miracle. Democracy? Yes, we hope the democratic system is supposed to prevent revolutions by allowing changes to occur. But it has been increasingly brokered, bought and sold by 'corporate persons' and their protected free speech/money, rather than natural speech and discussion by natural ones. The commons are also disappearing!
We are depending on politicians. We all feel that its better than rioting and violence. In 1934, we narrowly averted a revolution, but not so many people remember that was also the year a facist coup also tried to take over the government (to prevent Social Security)
Will the democratic system function the way natural (not corporate) people need it to, during this healthcare crisis?
Obviously, corporate people never die and when they get sick, its not the healthcare industry they depend on. But they are the paying constituency.
So, we natural people, the flesh and blood kind, are desperate to see REAL change on healthcare. The clients of the corporate contributors, though, are extremely aggressively, forcing Obama upon us.
Our lives don't matter. As Martin Luther King says, the 'check' democracy theoretically gives us to change things, has come back marked 'insufficient funds' on this issue.
Nomatter how many of us can't go on for four or eight or sixteen more years (the time from 1992 to 2008, the period that happened this time) waiting for UHC, we will have to wait. By then, maybe there will have been another big war, and oops, sorry.. NO MORE MONEY.. The US will by then have been looted completely.
The shell game will be over.
Sorry, we lose!
Lets look at what a fixer does..
* A person who uses various techniques to alter the course of a sports game for the benefit of a particular betting party. For example, a boxer who purposefully loses a match or a basketball player (see Ralph Beard) who deliberately misses passes would be called a fixer, provided that they are doing so with prior knowledge by someone who has bet on the opposing player or team. 
* A person paid by foreign journalists to arrange whatever they need in order to file their daily copy. As an example, the New York Times featured Iraqi Ayub Nuri's evolution from Fixer to US and foreign correspondents in Iraq to journalist in a July 2007 piece entitled "At Home, at War, at Risk". http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/29/magazi ne/29iraqi-t.html
* A person who arranges immunity for defendants by tampering with the justice system via bribery or extortion, especially as a business endeavor for profit.
A fixer is also someone who solves difficult situations. There was a fixer in Golgo 13. The main character in the book Sentenced to Prism was a fixer. So was the main character in the film Michael Clayton (film).
What do people think? Does this explain any aspect of the campaign for you? I was thinking going into this election, that this would be the term in which we got universal healthcare. What an idiot I was, huh. Ha ha. But I should have been forewarned.
Obviously, a similar, worrisome situation existed for them in 1994, and then
Jim Cooper, (Obama's current healthcare point man) came along on his white horse with the so called "Clinton-lite" - to help out the healthcare industry. A crisis was averted (for them). Defense budgets were also preserved for the most part, they only went down 20% or so during the eight years of the Clinton administration.
Lots of money
was riding on that horse in 1994, and even more is now.
Stuball did a very good diary about health insurance and the need for a mandate for the whole thing to be viable, a few days ago. It contains a very clear explanation of adverse selection
Also, take a look at this article written about the Cooper health plan in 1994, the same exact issues are in play now as then, and the same issues are being deliberately ignored. (below)
by architek, Sat May 31, 2008 at 08:54:54 PM EDT
I know that political parties have been a part of our political landscape forever, but, since the home page of this site mentions direct democracy, I am wondering where the laws that set the two party system up are? Obviously, it sometimes frustrates democracy. But we have used parties to express our democracy since the second Presidency. Today, did anyone else wonder 'how did we get into this mess?'.
I know that we set up the party system to serve the people, in in almost all respects its worked, but when it fails, it fails badly. It seems to represent a sort of abbreviated, binary view of all issues, but the real world is much more complex and far more granular than I think parties can accurately represent.
The sacrifices we make in the interests of this approximation often seem to be getting worse and worse.
Both parties often seem to pander far too much to corporate citizens. What is good for corporate Americans may not be in the best interests of natural people. 'Corporates' have the resources though, to influence elections tremendously. They have the right of equal, protected speech, does the law even prevents their from running their own as candidates? In any case, I guess what I am asking is, where is the history of parties and their creation?
The way we vote could be improved upon greatly
Clearly, single-winner voting systems are required by the American political tradition, and required by law, but the 'plurality system' we currently use is far less accurate in representing the will of the people than many other voting systems, in fact, its the most prone to voting paradoxes.
by architek, Fri May 30, 2008 at 05:32:34 AM EDT
Just saw this:
Dems hedge on Healthcare
That is in Washington, inside the Beltway. They think that Washington is the real world but it isn't. Its as fake a world as can be. And at the core of that extreme fakeness is greed, lies and broken promises. These politicians need a reality check.
Regardless of whether you support Hillary or Obama the NEGATIVITY and DENIAL of the people's WILL in the article above should give you pause.
Politicians with NO grasp of people's lives are PRETENDING that
we can go another four years with things getting worse and worse. They are going to steal our vote and give us an IOU, or a bad check i.e. "insufficient funds" - in return.
They are the ones who need the reality check.
The situation in the REAL world is not going to wait 'four more years'. We need to start working now to REPLACE Senators and Congressmen who are not willing to pledge NOW that they will work to change the situation - to back empty promises - back them up with actions that they are 100% behind universal healthcare for all LIKE OTHER DEVELOPED NATIONS HAVE.
Look at this example of why the current system has to go. NOW.
What does a young person do, who might have insurance, but who might not, if they have something - say, vertigo, or numbness or some other neuro issue that implies a serious condition. Say its a troubling transient condition that could indicate
a brain tumor or something. They need some expensive test to know whats wrong. Say a 15 minute MRI scan to diagnose it costs $9000. If they have insurance, it may pay some or (unlikely) all of that. (although it may take a few months of arguing and they might get denied the first time)
If they don't have insurance, and go for the test, (do they pay out of pocket, or charge it?) and it turns out they have something serious, they may never be able to get insurance again, and they would not also be able to afford treatment..but if they don't get the test, they could end up far sicker..
for example, with cancer.
Suppose that person is insured, say, as a barista at Starbucks, for $7.50 an hr.
Then, assuming they are sick, but it is successfully treated, do they remain a low-paid Starbucks employee for the rest of their life, or do they take their chances on getting another job, knowing well that they might get sick again, without insurance, or -perhaps, even be prevented from getting another good job by being in the MIB database? (common in other countries that one might work in, becoming more common here, although some states prohibit it, theoretically)
Also, many people these days, choose not to spend the $9000 to get important, needed tests, in this cse, the scan, thinking
that at some point they might not have a job in the future and want to get individual or family insurance, which would be impossible. Maybe they want to get married and lets face it,
this individual uninsurability for your family is a hell of a thing to lay on a spouse.. Experts say that the 21st century will be a century of the disappearance of the 'job' and that we will all be independent contractors. That means individual insurance. But, what if you have a condition that makes you uninsurable?
Okay, suppose the senators and congressmen confront a huge public outcry when they try to torpedo the affordable options because they will cut too deeply into Pentagon spending or treasured pork.
Maybe something will pass.. Basically, I think Hillary's plan CAN AND WILL WORk.. because of the mandate. (Similar plans work in other nations)
In my opinion, under Obama's plan, because of the risk pricing, there is not any good path through this dilemma.. Under Hillary's plan, there is.. (there would also be better access to preventative care, without the higher copays and deductibles of Obama's 'choices' - the cheaper plans)
Here is an interesting article that shows one aspect of the dilemma for states that might choose to try to address the issues..
This shows how dammning one bad test result might end up being to one's future life, especially if you dont have a corporate job with a generous employer.
Tennessee Talks of Paring Plan for 'Uninsurables'
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.ht ml?res=9A01E2DC1F3DF932A35756C0A96F95826 0&sec=&spon=
Here is what happens if you accidentally forget to include that in an application for health insurance.. (since it is priced by risk, hey can later, invalidate the whole contract retroactively)
(Of course, your probable future will be one without insurance.)
More insurance rescission coverage
http://www.latimes.com/features/health/l a-fi-healthinsure-sg,1,3627886.storygall ery
by architek, Thu May 29, 2008 at 04:23:52 PM EDT
People who are voting for Obama often seem to think that he will help them on healthcare.
Bluntly, I think they are in serious denial because ALL the signs are that he won't.
Let me explain something that happens ALL THE TIME under our current system and IT WILL CONTINUE TO HAPPEN UNDER OBAMA.
It would STOP under Hillary with her
uncovered bills would stop. People would pay a fixed percentage of their income and IT WOULD COME OUT OF TAXES.. You would end up payng FAR less than you do now. At least i would. Let me explain why.
I understand that one fo the frequent Obama posters is studying to be an anethesiologist. When I heard that, I realized that something that happened to me a few months ago would make a good diary. This is just ONE of MANY of these episodes that have happened to me. Lets just call them the DEATH BY ONE THOUSAND CUTS.
I have some pressing medical issues that I cannot even think of undertaking because of these CUTS. I have not been able to save anything for retirement in YEARS because of these cuts. If you think these issues wont happen to you YOU ARE A FOOL.
I can tell you, its Obama or retirement.. Obama is a LUXURY you cannot afford.
Here is the story. Again, for me it is just one of many stories like this. THIS STUFF IS KILLING PEOPLE.
Not long ago I had a procedure done and i wanted it to be done without anesthesia (as I had had them done in the past, NO PROBLEMS) however, I moved not long ago, I'm in a different area, and the doctors around here are not only mostly idiots, they are also from some school that insists that they always do things the most expensive possible way. So after that I had been told we would not need general anesthesia and after i had been given a shot of a painkiller, I suddenly found them sticking a mask on me - i was protesting..
Then, of course, the bill came and my insurance had paid only 1/6 of the anesthesiologists fee, so he sent me a bill for the rest..
These bills add up. They add up FAST. That money could have gone to other things. I didn't need the anesthesia and I didnt want it, and i had been told that it wouldn't be needed. Also, my insurance company didn't think that high bill was necessary... BUT.. it got literally SHOVED down my throat anyway.
Right now I am sick, I am unemployed, and we are living month to month. I am TERRFIED of Obama because he OBVIOUSLY IS IN THE POCKET OF THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY AND THEY COULD NOT CARE LESS ABOUT PEOPLE LIKE ME.
You folk who think this wont happen to you, you are WRONG. It will and it will happen much sooner than you think.
Thats why Hillary is my ONLY choice.
by architek, Wed May 28, 2008 at 06:12:01 PM EDT
I heard recently that Barack Obama has quietly indicated that he would support the removal of North Korea from the US list of countries that sponsor terrorism. Update [2008-5-29 11:55:7 by architek]:See Obama Changes Tack on Terror Status for N.Korea.
I think that this is worse than a mistake. Mr. Obama is ignoring the kidnapping and murder of Kim Dong Shik, a Korean-American with dual South Korean and US citizenship and a former Illinois resident.
Rev. Kim disappeared several years ago. It came out in 2004 that he had been abducted from Chinese territory by the North Korean government and that he later died in a North Korean prison camp while under interrogation.
He had been assisting North Korean refugees in China in the illegal underground railroad that sometimes eventually allows them to reach South Korea. (but also often fails, and the refugees are captured and sent back to North Korea, where some are executed, because it is a crime to leave.)
By removing North Korea from the sponsor list, Obama is ignoring arguably the very worst human rights situation in the world.
There may be a tendency, to look at the Bush administration's posturing on Iraq, Iran and North Korea and to think that perhaps, its propaganda as far as North Korea. "Perhaps they are not that bad, after all" many of us might think. Some of the stories that periodically emerge about Kim Jong-il are seen as humorous.
That would be a terrible mistake, because the bizarre nature of the situation there masks misery on a huge scale. Like the situation with Hitler in the 1930s, all of the other players in the area, fearful of the consequences of an implosion of North Korea's regime and the flood of starving refugees that would emerge, greatly downplay both the danger and the suffering of the North Korean people.
The situation there is a bizarre legacy of the Cold War and it predates the Bush Administration by 50 years.
Perhaps there IS some kind of diplomacy that could break down the barriers around North Korea at some point. We have to hope. But the problem dwarfs politicians and rhetoric. It is such an intractable MESS that almost nobody outside of a small community of Korea watchers understand it. Certainly politicians are not aware of the depth of the paranoia and misery. It is like a bad, bad movie and indeed, Nort Korea has been the subject of many films. But none manage to capture the terror. Perhaps the closest might be films about other totalitarian countries such as "The Lives of Others" - films that can only be made by those who have experienced them.
Politicians may consider that North Korea is the most isolated place in the world, politically, They should understand that this doesn't happen overnight. They need to realize WHY.
Tactically, they might also start on their feet by trying to grok that regardless of the terrorism factor it makes no sense to give away the prize before even beginning the negotiation.
And that you do not negotiate with Hitler-esque figures without an understanding and public acknowledgment of what is happening.
Imagine Stalins gulag, in the 21st century.
Obama criticizes others for every possible thing but he himself is committing a grave error in moral judgement by allowing North Korea to go unpunished for abducting a fellow Illinois citizen.Update [2008-5-29 11:55:7 by architek]:
The Hidden Gulag: a report on North Korean prison camps
PBS Frontline show on "Kims Nuclear Gamble"
Escapees from North Korea
(both in hiding in China and safe in South Korea) tell their stories.
by architek, Wed May 28, 2008 at 06:32:19 AM EDT
The New York Times had an op-ed yesterday,
"The Working Wounded" - reminding me of an issue that I have always thought the Democrats SHOULD stand for, but which seems strangely to have disappeared in this election year.
Workplace Safety. Legislating improved safety rules for the millions of working people in this country, so they can work without fear of death or serious injury while they are doing their jobs.
The article has a number of startling facts in it which should make us realize that in the current global climate, compared to many other developed countries (some of which have been making real progress) we in the US are basically going backwards by ignoring changes in global attitudes and expectations on issues like worker safety. The level to which we ignore safety violations is absolutely appalling. It is a national disgrace.
Not only have important and necessary changes been postponed, and some rules even rolled back, but during the Bush Administration, the agencies enforcing safety have also had their budgets slashed, sending a message to the worst kinds of employers that they 'could get away with murder', literally.
For example, read this segment of the op-ed piece (summarized digitally from the NYT article)
"Mr. Elias wanted his workers to clean out a 25,000-gallon
tank that contained cyanide waste. He refused to test the
air or the waste inside the tank. He ignored the pleas of
his workers for safety equipment. When the workers
complained of sore throats and difficulty breathing, Mr.
Elias told them to finish the job or find work somewhere
Mr. Dominguez, a 20-year-old high school graduate, wanted to
keep his job. Wearing just jeans and a T-shirt, he used a
ladder to descend into the tank. Two hours later, covered
in sludge and barely breathing, he was removed from the
tank, a victim of cyanide poisoning at the hands of a
ruthless employer who would blame his "stupid and lazy"
employees for the incident.
The Justice Department opened a criminal investigation of
Evergreen Resources. I was one of the lead prosecutors on
the case. We quickly discovered that we had a major
My colleagues and I were shocked to learn that an employer
who breaks the nation's worker-safety laws can be charged
with a crime only if a worker dies. Even then, the crime is
a lowly Class B misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of six
months in prison. (About 6,000 workers are killed on the
job each year, many in cases where the deaths could have
been prevented if their employers followed the law.)
Employers who maim their workers face, at worst, a maximum
civil penalty of $70,000 for each violation.
We ended up prosecuting Mr. Elias for environmental crimes,
and he was sentenced to 17 years in prison. I later became
chief of the Justice Department's environmental crimes
section, and we started an initiative -- based on this case
and others like it -- to seek justice when workers were
seriously injured or killed during environmental crimes. We
prosecuted some of the largest companies in America. But in
cases where 'no environmental crimes were committed', we often
could not prosecute.
Employers rarely face criminal prosecution under the
worker-safety laws. In the 38 years since Congress enacted
the Occupational Safety and Health Act, only 68 criminal
cases have been prosecuted, or less than two per year, with
defendants serving a total of just 42 months in jail.
During that same time, approximately 341,000 people have
died at work, according to data compiled from the National
Safety Council and the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the
It is long past time for Congress to change the law. First,
Congress should amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act
to make it a crime for an employer to commit violations that
cause serious injury to workers or that knowingly place
workers at risk of death or serious injury. Whether good
fortune intervenes and prevents harm to workers should not
determine whether an employer commits a crime.
Congress should make it a felony to commit a criminal
violation of the worker-safety laws, and the penalties for
lawbreakers should be stiffened. The maximum sentence ought
to be measured in years, not months.
Congress also should change the worker-safety laws so that
ignorance of the law is no longer a defense. Employers have
a duty to know their responsibilities under the Occupational
Safety and Health Act.
Finally, Congress should make clear who can be prosecuted.
Some courts have held that prosecution is limited to
companies and their owners. Supervisors who order workers
to break the law, as well as responsible corporate officers
who fail to stop violations that they know are occurring,
should also be held criminally responsible, just as they are
under most other federal laws.
Most companies care about protecting their workers. But
without a serious threat of criminal enforcement, more
workers will be put at risk by companies that put profits
by architek, Tue May 27, 2008 at 06:59:02 AM EDT
In a new response to foreclosures, evictions and the growing urban/suburban displacement problem, one California city has come up with an innovative free-market based 'solution' that allows displaced former residents and workers who have cars to remain near their jobs and older displaced workers to not lose their pensions. It also avoids the problem other cities have had of inadvertantly creating a 'Bushville'.
Santa Barbara's 'solution' for the working newly homeless are 12 overnight parking lots that allow sleeping, but which require people to leave during the daytime (when they become regular parking lots for business)
In Santa Barbara, the average single family home now costs over 1,000,000. Rents are also rising much faster than salaries. the number of homelsss has been rising very rapidly. So the local New Beginnings Counseling Center has gotten the city of Santa Barbara to allow 12 parking lots to become a haven for those who find themselves between homes while they save up for that house or apartment. Many
put their belongings in storage and sleep in their cars.
The only condition is that the lots open at 7 pm, close at 7 am, when cars must leave, and allow sleeping only. Children, and pets are allowed. This allows the middle class homeless who have been able to purchase or maintain cars in good working order, a free place to sleep.
by architek, Tue May 27, 2008 at 03:14:25 AM EDT
New Investors Rapidly Push To Achieve Market Rate Returns On Housing Investments, Some Say Destroying Working Class Neighborhoods.
The New York Times has another article about US internal displacements today, "
Tenants Roiled by Challenges on Residency" - as the alleged harassment of rent stabilized tenants in some of New York City's largest apartment complexes moves to a new level of complexity and organization. Millions of homes and trillions of dollars are at stake in changes that could dramatically change US cities, driving away millions of working people from apartments they can no longer afford as urban rents continue to respond to rising gas prices.
Apparently, the new investor/owners of some of these huge building complexes have been hiring firms to conduct computerized searches of the nations homeowners and renters for other people who share the same names as tenants, elsewhere. When they find a name match, such as another person who shares the same name (Mary Jones, for example - even if initials are different) they send the rent-protected tenant an eviction notice claiming that they live elsewhere and hence are disqualified from rent protection. Often, these claims are unfounded, but they force the tenant to hire an expensive lawyer (typically at a cost of $300/hr or more) to defend themselves against the false charges or they lose their tenancy's rent protection by default, which results in their rent being increased to market rate, increases that can amount ot thousands of dollars (for example, monthly rent is $1,241 for rent-stabilized units and $2,767 for - often smaller - market rate units - well over 200% of the stabilized rent!)
This is an example of the kind of increases California communities with rent stabilization laws will face under June's 6th
Proposition 98, if the well-organized and well funded slumlord lobby can succeed in driving the existing tenants out, rent controls on each unit will end, FOREVER.
As gas prices go up, and trillions of dollars in real estate profits at stake, it is clear that this is only the beginning of this war, which threatens to turn our cities into huge, exclusive theme parks for the ultra rich.
by architek, Sun May 25, 2008 at 07:32:28 AM EDT
The New York Times today has an
article about the Obama "drama" campaign and the mainstream media's relentless attacks on the progressive candidate- for bringing up the common aspect of June campaigning.
Its telling in showing just how sturdy and strong she is as a candidate. (Contrast this to Obama's protests and finger-waggling after having been questioned a little too harshly after the last of the four debates, about two hours of questioning by the American public.)
Man, Hillary has got some incredible stamina to be able to deal with the Obama and MSM dirtslingers and keep on fighting for the American people.
Mrs. Clinton had been saying that some in the Obama campaign and in the media were trying to push her out of the race and she didn't know why.
"Historically, that makes no sense," she said, "so I find it a bit of a mystery."
Question: "You don't buy the party unity argument?"
Mrs. Clinton: "I don't because, again, I've been around long enough. You know my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know, I just don't understand it and there's lot of speculation about why it is."
(referring to their denial that June campaigning is common)