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TomDispatch: Afghanistan by the Numbers - Measuring a War Gone to Hell

Afghanistan by the Numbers
Measuring a War Gone to Hell
By Tom Engelhardt | TomDispatch.com

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Let me express my awe. The Tuesday before Labor Day weekend, I posted a striking piece by organizer and activist David Swanson, "Bush's Third Term, You're Living It." It was the day his new book, Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, was published. Somehow, he organized websites, blogs, admirers, and friends into a campaign to buy the book at Amazon on that day and it soared to the #1 spot in nonfiction, knocking Glenn Beck's bestseller briefly off its perch. Now, that's organizing for you!

Also a reminder: If you click on any book link (or book-cover image) at TomDispatch and then buy anything at Amazon, TD takes home a tiny percentage of the purchase. So, if you're going to buy there anyway, consider doing it through this website. Also many thanks to those readers who have continued to contribute directly to TomDispatch, some of you, amazingly enough, via recurring donations. You're helping us upgrade the site, get a little extra help, pay a little more to young writers, and generally get by. Many thanks! Tom]

Here may be the single strangest fact of our American world: that at least three administrations -- Ronald Reagan's, George W. Bush's, and now Barack Obama's -- drew the U.S. "defense" perimeter at the Hindu Kush; that is, in the rugged, mountainous lands of Afghanistan. Put another way, while Americans argue feverishly and angrily over what kind of money, if any, to put into health care, or decaying infrastructure, or other key places of need, until recently just about no one in the mainstream raised a peep about the fact that, for nearly eight years (not to say much of the last three decades), we've been pouring billions of dollars, American military know-how, and American lives into a black hole in Afghanistan that is, at least in significant part, of our own creation.

Imagine for a moment, as you read this post, what might have happened if Americans had decided to sink the same sort of money -- $228 billion and rising fast -- the same "civilian surges," the same planning, thought, and effort (but not the same staggering ineffectiveness) into reclaiming New Orleans or Detroit, or into planning an American future here at home. Imagine, for a moment, when you read about the multi-millions going into further construction at Bagram Air Base, or to the mercenary company that provides "Lord of the Flies" hire-a-gun guards for American diplomats in massive super-embassies, or about the half-a-billion dollars sunk into a corrupt and fraudulent Afghan election, what a similar investment in our own country might have meant. Read more.

Help for Obama Speech Wednesday Evening

Help for Obama Speech Wednesday Evening
By Ray McGovern

The President, I believe, can use all the input he can get. My draft includes suggestions about how to save billions for healthcare reform by putting a timely end to wasteful spending on the feckless foreign adventures launched by his predecessor. Here is my unsolicited draft. I no longer have access to he White House. If you do, please pass this along.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

DRAFT: President Obama’s Address to Congress, September 9, 2009

Good evening, both to you members of Congress assembled here, and to fellow Americans in our wider TV and radio audience.

I plan to talk first about health care reform. Then I will make some fresh proposals regarding how to pay for it, since this is a legitimate concern.

A new strategy will kill two birds with one stone. It finds the money for health care reform by curbing wasteful, self-defeating spending on military adventures abroad—adventures that are making us less, not more, safe. Stay tuned.

First, Health Care:

Last year I promised to do all I could to ensure that all of you—that is, every single American—would be able to get affordable health care. I urged you to just elect me president and then hold me accountable.

You did your part. This evening I will give you a preliminary accounting.

But, first a question. How many of you members of Congress do not have affordable health care?

I’m serious. And the nation is curious.

Okay, let’s do it this way. Any Senator or Representative who does not have affordable health care, please rise.

No one is standing up.

Now a more important question: How many of you Senators and Representatives will stand up for legislation that will give ALL Americans essentially the same access to health care that you enjoy?

I’m dead serious. Let’s admit that you and I and the families of members of Congress can get all the health care we need, while millions of Americans cannot.

Again, please rise if you want everyone to have equal access to quality medical care. Rise if you believe it is wrong to consider some Americans, like us, more equal than others.

Thank you. I invite those of you now standing to sit down.

Giving Single-Payer a Second Look

Giving Single-Payer a Second Look
By Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9) | Huffington Post

As President Obama prepares to address the nation about his vision for health care reform, we should not overlook the last, best truly transformative change to our health care system: Medicare. We have been staring so intently at the lessons of 1993 that we may have forgotten the universal rule of successful lawmaking: "keep it simple."

During the eleven town hall meetings I've held around my district, I've had some direct experience with the anxiety this debate has produced. Much of the fear comes from two groups: those who have Medicare and don't want it changed and those who have never had a government-run reimbursement system like Medicare and are worried about the impact it will have on their quality of care.

In both cases, a calm, reasoned and vigorous defense of the American single-payer plan is just what the doctor ordered.

The truth is that the United States already uses single-payer systems to cover over 47% of all medical bills through Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Understanding that these single-payer health programs are already a major part of our overall health care system should help us visualize what an actual public plan would look like. These institutions also provide health care to millions of satisfied customers in every community who would heartily agree that the government can build and run programs that work quite well. Read more.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich Thinks Health Care Debate Won't Be Resolved By Congress Quickly

Rep. Dennis Kucinich thinks health care debate won't be resolved by Congress quickly
By Sabrina Easton | Cleveland.com

Dennis Kucinich isn't among the optimists who believe a legislative fix for the nation's troubled health-care system is right around the corner.

Informal health care reform discussions at dozens of community events last month led the Cleveland Democratic congressman to conclude that debate on the issue is only getting started.

"The idea that there is going to be a massive change in health care brought about in a matter of a couple of months in a bill that keeps changing is not well thought-out," says Kucinich, who wants a government-run health care system to serve the entire nation and is disappointed none of the reform proposals under debate include that idea. "You really have to prepare people for this discussion. You can't shove something down people's throats."

After taking their constituents' temperatures on health-care reform during a month-long recess, Kucinich and his colleagues in Congress return to Washington this week to draft a health-care reform prescription that President Barack Obama calls one of his top priorities. Kucinich will add fuel to the debate by holding a subcommittee hearing next week on how health insurance companies decide which procedures to cover. His Democratic colleagues in Northeast Ohio are more optimistic about the chances to pass some form of health care reform this year.

"Ohio, it's time to act and get this thing done," Obama told a Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Day Picnic on Monday. "I want a health insurance system that works as well for the American people as it does for the insurance industry." Read more.

Health Care vs. Warfare: The Future Costs of the Afghanistan War

Health Care vs. Warfare: The Future Costs of the Afghanistan War
By Jeff Leys | Voices for Creative Non-Violence

On Wednesday, President Obama will address a joint session of Congress on health care. Later this year he will decide whether to deploy additional troops to the war in Afghanistan, on top of the 69,000 troops already deployed. The struggle for health care and the struggle to end warfare are inextricably linked. The cost for substantive (though imperfect) health care reform as envisioned in the House of Representatives approach (with the public option) is projected to average $100 billion per year for the next 10 years. The cost to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are projected to cost anywhere from $55 to $100 billion a year. With a few modest reductions to the baseline military budget and the difference is paid.

The choice is clear: health care or warfare; the Common Good or Common Destruction.

Bending The Cost Curve: Regulating Healthcare Middlemen

Bending the cost curve: Regulating healthcare middlemen
By David Balto | The Hill

One of the most prominent and urgent goals of health care reform is to reduce costs. At each point of service in the health care industry, middlemen like health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) reap enormous profits. Frequently they make the claim that they offer a unique service in their ability to negotiate lower costs, and that health care costs would rise unfettered without them. The facts show us, though, that the exact opposite is true: while the profits of major health insurers and PBMs have skyrocketed over the past few years and premiums continue to rise, our country is in an undeniable health care crisis. The largely unregulated health care industry costs us about one-sixth of our GDP, and this number is only projected to grow until it surpasses even the size of the federal budget.

We clearly need to take action. Nowhere better to start than the PBM industry, which has a long history of deception and fraud and has cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars. PBMs are middlemen that use the purchasing power of their members and large scale to negotiate rebates on drug purchases and, in theory, lower costs for enrollees. By managing formularies and making use of their bargaining power, PBMs have the potential to negotiate significant savings. This potential is unfulfilled, however, because of a lack of competition and transparency. PBMs represent the most rapidly growing segment of health care spending, and yet they are the only part of the health care market that is still unregulated. Without regulation and oversight, PBMs do not provide the service corporations, unions, governments and other plan sponsors hire them to do: to secure the lowest drug costs possible for plan sponsors. Read more.

Text Of Speech Barack Obama Will Deliver To Children On September 8, 2009

By Linda Milazzo

The extreme Right wing fringe, in desperate fear of their new Black president, are in a panic over the speech below. They believe this person who's the president who was born in Kenya and who may be the anti-Christ is bound and determined to indoctrinate their children and maybe make them Black by listening - or lefties - or parent haters - or Kenyans - or vegans - or environmentalists - or seekers of public assistance - or socialistcommunistfascist Hugo Chavez Fidel Castro Cubanezuelans - or readers - or lovers of science - or atheists - or lovers of education - or independent thinkers....

NO!! NOT INDEPENDENT THINKERS!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's the speech:

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009
 

The President:

Martial Law Alert Over Swine Flu

Martial Law Alert Over Swine Flu
By Stephen Lendman

Fact check:

  • no Swine Flu threat exists;
  • reported H1N1 infections and deaths are uncorroborated;
  • WHO predicting a global pandemic affecting "as many as two billion people....over the next two years" is falsified hype unless a diabolical depopulation scheme (by vaccines or other means) plans to create one;
  • vaccines don't protect against diseases they're designed to prevent and often cause them;
  • all vaccines contain harmful toxins, including mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, phenoxyethanol (antifreeze), and squalene adjuvants that weaken and can destroy the human immune system, making it vulnerable to many annoying to life-threatening illnesses; and
  • evidence suggests that the H1N1 strain was bioengineered in a US laboratory, and the vaccines being produced for it are extremely hazardous and potentially lethal.

No “Trigger”!! “Health Lobby” has Already Pulled the Trigger on American Lives Since Truman!!

No “Trigger”!! “Health Lobby” has Already Pulled the Trigger on American Lives Since Truman!! | Press Release

  • 77% of ALL Americans Still Want the Choice of a Single-Payer “Public Option” NOW -- OVER 250 Community Groups JOIN: and Mobilize For
    Congressional Struggle!!
  • Water-Only Fasting Vigil -- at Senator Feinstein’s West LA Office -- on DAY 17

Today, thousands and thousands of Americans die --after it is found that the “health insurance” that was supposed to cover themwhen they got sick is, actually, merely “profit insurance:” for the companies they paid their hard-earned wages to -- and only so they could be allowed to die -- because of trumped up excuses about things like “pre-existing conditions.” Even more have no coverage at all.

Today, healthcare in America is more than just broken: it is a disaster that cannot wait to be fixed.

We strongly oppose letting the Industry lobby now to have their fingers on any proposed “triggers” – that will literally mean years of more
deaths. The American Public, right now, simply still is demanding that this new Congress and President FINALLY end the abuses of this disgusting “death industry” -- built on how many deaths, and how much suffering from ill health, that it refuses to be accountable for. This President and Congress must stand for real reform, not “triggers.” A strong vote in the House on H.R. 676 is vital to standing up for America's healthcare now.

WorkingDemocracy! Is a small group of poor and homeless Los Angeles pacifists, and has been working for humane social justice for over five
years. They recently began a 24/7 “Camp Healthcare” in front of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s West Los Angeles office; and are holding nightly vigils in this location –and other Southern California actions for a single-payer “public option.” One activist in the current group, David Busch, is now on day 17 of a 24/7 water-only fast that he vows to continue until Congress votes on the healthcare issue.

Administration Seeks to Keep Terror Watch-List Data Secret

Administration Seeks to Keep Terror Watch-List Data Secret
By Ellen Nakashima | Washington Post

The Obama administration wants to maintain the secrecy of terrorist watch-list information it routinely shares with federal, state and local agencies, a move that rights groups say would make it difficult for people who have been improperly included on such lists to challenge the government.

Intelligence officials in the administration are pressing for legislation that would exempt "terrorist identity information" from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Such information -- which includes names, aliases, fingerprints and other biometric identifiers -- is widely shared with law enforcement agencies and intelligence "fusion centers," which combine state and federal counterterrorism resources.

Still, some officials say public disclosure of watch-list data risks alerting terrorism suspects that they are being tracked and may help them evade surveillance.

Advocates for civil liberties and open government argue that the administration has not proved the secrecy is necessary and that the proposed changes could make the government less accountable for errors on watch lists. The proposed FOIA exemption has been included in pending House and Senate intelligence authorization bills at the administration's request.

"Instead of enhancing accountability, this would remove accountability one or two steps further away," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy. Read more.

Families: Girls Were Strip-Searched At Iowa School

Families: Girls Were Strip-Searched At Iowa School | KCCI

Family members said this week that Atlantic high school officials forced five teenage girls to remove their clothes during an investigation into a theft.

The girls' families and their lawyers said the incident at Atlantic High School amounts to a strip-search, which is illegal in Iowa schools.

But school officials said the search was "allowable" under board rules. Read more.

Trumka Warns Lawmakers On Health Care Overhaul

Trumka warns lawmakers on health care overhaul
By Sam Hananel (AP) | Google News

The man expected to become the AFL-CIO's next president said Monday that lawmakers would pay a political price if they abandon a government-run option in any health care overhaul.

"We need to be a labor movement that stands by our friends, punishes its enemies and challenges those who, well, can't seem to decide which side they're on," said Richard Trumka, currently the AFL-CIO's secretary-treasurer.

In remarks to the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, Trumka singled out lawmakers "who say they are all for health care reform, but refuse to stand up for a public system that puts people before profits."

Trumka's remarks came in a broader speech that outlined his goals for making labor unions more appealing to younger workers and stemming the historic decline of union rolls.

Labor unions have been among the most vocal boosters of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. But Trumka and other labor leaders have expressed frustration with signs that Obama and other lawmakers are wavering in their support of a public option that would cover millions without health care insurance.

"I think they need to understand that that you can have a bill that guarantees quality, affordable health care for every American, or you can have a bill the Republicans will vote for," Trumka said. "But you can't have both." Read more.

They DESERVE Justice

CCGR 4 PAK

Even the least of us deserves justice and accountability starts with you. So why don't you send out a reminder. Even Cheney deserves all the justice he can get and we should ensure he gets his day in court.

Use these images as a 4 PAK and send 4 different cards to the same person; or, choose your favorite and send the same postcard to 4 different persons.

It's easy. Each individual postcard is formatted to the dimensions of 4.25"x5.5". Quarter a sheet of paper and combine the cards as you like. Don't forget to print the other side. Remember the postage stamps. Then mail one to your best beloved, your friends and neighbors, some acquaintance--your politicians and their parties. Show someone you care about them and about justice.

Justice for Cheney

Justice for Condi

Justice for Gonzales

Justice for Rove

Reverse Side Postcard

Health Care and the Free Market

Health Care and the Free Market
By David Kendall | ThePeoplesVoice

"With millions unemployed, and health care costs rising through the roof, and the only answer ever given to unemployment is 'go back to school', why are there still so few medical schools that 1/3 of our doctors are imported and Americans who want to be doctors frequently have to resort to joining the military in order to be trained? We should have a doctor on every corner, competing with each other." [1]

The above quotation is an excerpt from a recent article regarding the economics of health care reform. My aim here is not to dispute those views but to expand upon them. The article cited above makes some key points regarding what economists call "perfect competition", specifically "many buyers and sellers" and "freedom of entry and exit". In addition to all the screaming and yelling about moral and ethical issues, if the American people would approach the health care debate from a truly "free-market" economic perspective, there probably wouldn't be anything left to "debate". According to the Office of Health Economics in London:

"An efficient free market requires producers to be operating under conditions of perfect competition. This requires a stringent set of conditions - perfect information, many buyers and sellers, a uniform product and freedom of entry and exit - which ensure that firms are price takers, producing for the lowest possible cost in the long run and only earning normal profits." [2]

In health care, not only is the number of sellers deliberately and artificially restricted (manipulated), but the number of buyers is uncontrolled and virtually infinite. Moreover, the ever-increasing number of buyers have no "freedom of exit" from health care, as everyone is forced to engage at some point in their lives: "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave", (Hotel California, The Eagles). These factors along with extreme asymmetry of information, the monopoly power of hospitals, and the inherently non-uniform (customized, personalized) nature of health care are clear violations of the "perfect competition" requirements of any "free market". Read more.

Obama Swiftboats Van Jones

By Linda Milazzo

I was out last evening. I tried to escape, just for a while, back to the days of (Taking) Woodstock when we who worked to end the Vietnam war did so as a united, free-spirited force. I readily admit that in today's times of racism disguised as patriotism, religious perversion, rampant ignorance, unhinged media menaces, and growing hostility amongst Americans, I yearn for that long ago era of 'peace and love.'

Enroute home after my wistful evening, I glanced at my phone and saw a Washington Post alert saying Obama's Green Jobs appointee, Van Jones, had resigned. I was shocked. I knew Jones was being assaulted by the right, but I didn't think he'd resign, and I didn't think the Obama administration would so readily sacrifice this brilliant advocate for the environment and the poor. After all, Jones is a person in the Obama administration who personifies the term "public servant." For progressives, Van Jones' appointment was, and is, Obama's tour de force gift to America of a high level appointee free of corporate entanglements who cannot and will not be bought. Jones is a man for the people in an administration where for the corporation is the norm.

Health Care - WWJD?

Mr. Zelaya Goes To Washington

The resistance to the military coup in Honduras has entered its 71st straight day of direct action in the streets of that country. Meanwhile, the United States Department of State still has yet to officially declare the events a 'military coup', an identification that would require, under US law, the cutting of all financial aid and diplomatic ties. For this reason and others, Manuel Zelaya came back to Washington to get additional commitments from Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. While Clinton did make some commitments on suspending more visas and not recognizing the upcoming elections in Honduras, the story of the US involvement in resolving the coup is still dominated by the support the US provides to the de facto regime. This was further deepened by the revelation that the International Monetary Fund, itself largely controlled by the US Treasury Department, has allocated $150 million to the coup government. Zelaya spoke to George Washington University about his view of Honduran democracy and why that led to his forced expulsion from his country.

AP Photo of Deadly Attack in Afghanistan That Is Causing Controversy

AP Photo of Deadly Attack in Afghanistan That Is Causing Controversy

The Associated Press is distributing a photo of a Marine fatally wounded in battle, choosing after a period of reflection to make public an image that conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it. Read more.

US: Gates Sells Afghan Strategy Amid Growing Unease

US: Gates Sells Afghan Strategy Amid Growing Unease
By Stephen Morris | IPS News

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) remained tight-lipped about the contents of a confidential report on the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan in a wide-ranging Pentagon briefing on Thursday.

The report, authored by U.S. Afghanistan commander General Stanley McChrystal, is expected to lay the groundwork for a recommendation that President Barack Obama authorise an increase in combat troop numbers to help stabilise the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. McChrystal has previously called the situation on the ground "serious" yet salvageable.

The report is due to be discussed with the president some time next week as a matter of urgency resulting from the growing public dissatisfaction with the conduct and progress of the war.

The press conference, however, offered little illumination on the potential surge in troops, rumoured to be as many as 25,000, as Gates and Mullen evaded reporters' questions probing the actual contents of McChrystal's report.

Gates denied that control of the war was slipping through the administration's fingers while acknowledging indications that U.S. public opinion is fading fast.

Mullen said that the situation necessitated a sense of urgency and that there was "a limited time for us to show this [new] approach is working."

According to a CBS poll this week, 41 percent are now calling for a reduction in troop levels – an eight point rise since April. The number who believe that the U.S. should commit additional troops has correspondingly declined 14 points, leaving only 25 percent who believe a higher commitment is necessary. Read more.

Supreme Court Of Canada To Hear Khadr case

Supreme Court to hear Khadr case
Decision to expedite appeal raises possibility of a hearing during an election campaign
By Tonda MacCharles | The Star

The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear the Conservative government's appeal of orders to seek the return from a Guantanamo prison of 22-year-old Omar Khadr.

In addition, the high court agreed to a federal request to weigh the matter on an expedited basis, setting a date of Nov. 13 and raising the prospect of the court hearing the high-stakes case during a threatened federal election. The Liberals have already raised Khadr's treatment as a reason to reject the Conservative government.

"We feel very strongly that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, said Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff in Vancouver. He said the government never should have resisted a "range of court decisions" compelling it to act.

"We find it extraordinary that the Conservative government would take this right up to the Surpeme Court when we're talking about a Canadian citizen," Ignatieff said.

"Canadians have different views about Mr. Khadr's conduct, but that's not the issue. This man is a Canadian citizen. Guantanamo needs to be closed. Canadians believe we should do our part in closing Guantanamo. And why is the Conservative government resisting something that's clearly in Mr. Khadr's interest, and in the interest of global peace and security? Guantanamo's not exactly been a bright star in global human rights." Read more.

Kucinich Condemns NATO Strike in Afghanistan

Kucinich Condemns NATO Strike in Afghanistan | Press Release
Says Command should be Held Responsible

Washington D.C. (September 4, 2009) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a leading Congressional voice calling for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq, today released the following statement after media reports that a U.S. airstrike on two stolen fuel transport vehicles left as many as 90 dead, including 40 civilians and a ten-year old child:

“News reports covering today’s attack by the U.S. command southwest of Kunduz province show that the good intentions of NATO forces in Afghanistan are not sufficient. If we want to avoid killing innocent civilians, we must end the war,” said Kucinich

After two fuel tankers were reportedly stolen by Taliban insurgents, a U.S. airstrike was carried out that took the lives of an unknown number of innocent Afghans.

The innocent appear to have been in harm’s way because the Taliban encouraged them to siphon off the fuel in the trucks which were immobilized in mud. The free fuel would be a natural draw to the citizens, given the level of poverty in the area. Corruption plaguing Afghanistan has ensured very little aid gets to Afghans in need.

“The NATO command claims to have checked for civilian presence before authorizing the air strike. When deadly force is used at high altitudes at high speeds, there is an even greater moral responsibility to be absolutely certain that no civilians will become casualties of military action.

"There is little hope for a truly independent investigation because the Karzai Government is compromised and NATO forces are digging in for the long term based on the Administration's policy. The war in Afghanistan is quickly developing into a tragedy of monumental proportions. It is time for the U.S. to end this war and bring our troops home.”

American Monetary Institute 2009 Conference: “We Shall Prevail”

American Monetary Institute 2009 Conference: “We Shall Prevail”
by Richard C. Cook

The world’s most important gathering of monetary reformers takes place each year in Chicago at the American Monetary Institute’s annual conference. This year’s event takes place September 24-27 at Roosevelt University. Chairing the conference is Stephen Zarlenga, AMI director and author of the landmark book “The Lost Science of Money.” For information and the list of speakers, including monetary economist Michael Hudson, see the AMI website. While personal matters will prevent me from appearing on-site, I have sent the following remarks. Segments of my six-part DVD, “Credit as a Public Utility,” will also be shown.

It is not difficult to come up with methods to solve today’s economic crisis through monetary reform. Many of us are doing it. The key, as I have been writing for the past several years, is to treat credit as a public utility, not the private property of the world’s financial elite.

If we truly adhered to this concept, we would be able to see that a debt-based monetary system, where money only comes into existence through bank lending, can succeed only in isolated circumstances when a growth bubble outpaces the ability of the public to pay interest charges for the privilege of having money to spend and thereby to survive.

Grijalva: "Without a Public Option, the Bill Is Not Real Reform"

Grijalva: "Without a Public Option, the Bill Is Not Real Reform"
September 2, 2009, Tucson, AZ

Congressman Raùl M. Grijalva released the following statement today, concerning the Obama Administration making reported calls, to advocacy organizations, stating that they will cease supporting the public option portion of the upcoming health care reform legislation:

“I have grave concerns about calls reportedly being made from the Administration to health care reform advocacy organizations supporting the choice of a public option insurance plan.

“I truly expect the President to live up to the promises he has made to America about real change and that he truly stands for uninsured Americans and working families that need and are demanding a choice of a competitive public option when he addresses Wednesday's joint session of Congress.

“Without a public option, this bill is not real reform. Real reform would lower and contain health care costs, precisely what inclusion of a public option would achieve. Without a robust public option, reform will enrich pharmaceutical and insurance companies because it will lack any significant competition and incentives to drive down health care costs for consumers."

Congressman Grijalva is the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a PDA advisory board member.

###

Under fire, President Obama shifts strategy
By Mike Allen & Jim Vandehei | Politico.com

Aides to President Barack Obama are putting the final touches on a new strategy to help Democrats recover from a brutal August recess by specifying what Obama wants to see in a compromise health care deal and directly confronting other trouble spots, West Wing officials tell POLITICO.

Obama will address a joint session of Congress on health care reform in prime time on Wednesday, Sept. 9, a senior official tells POLITICO, and the president plans to give lawmakers a more specific prescription for health care legislation than he has in the past, aides said.

And although House leaders have said their members will demand the inclusion of a public insurance option, Obama has no plans to insist on it himself, the officials said. Read more.

Erasing Katrina

Erasing Katrina | Fairness in Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
Four years on, media mostly neglect an ongoing disaster

August 29 marked the fourth anniversary of the day Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The devastation wrought by both the hurricane itself and the government's inept response prompted remarkably critical corporate media coverage that promised to fight for Katrina survivors and change the way we talk about poverty and race (FAIR Media Advisory, 9/9/05).

As NBC's Brian Williams told the St. Petersburg Times (3/1/06), "If this does not spark a national discussion on class, race, the environment, oil, Iraq, infrastructure and urban planning, I think we've failed." But four years later, corporate media outlets seem to have largely forgotten about Katrina and its survivors, let alone the conversations about race and poverty that were supposed to accompany it.

The Institute for Southern Studies issued a report (8-9/09) in which more than 50 Gulf Coast community leaders graded officials on their response to the ongoing disaster; the Obama administration received a D+, while Congress received a D. (George W. Bush received a D- in an earlier survey.) One million people are still displaced, rebuilding continues at a glacial pace, and the levees being rebuilt have been judged insufficient to protect New Orleans from another Katrina-level flood. Read more.

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