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    • Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 25, 2019
      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 25, 2019 by Tony Wikrent Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Strategic Political Economy Give No Heed to the Walking Dead [The Scholar’s Stage, via Naked Capitalism 8-18-19] The People’s Republic of China is wealthier than any rival America has faced. Its leaders are convinced […]
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Death Panels? They Already Exist

I just don't trust this guy.

I just don't trust this guy.

At a town hall meeting today in New Hampshire, President Obama “debunked” what he termed “wild misrepresentations,” including the notion that the final health care bill will not contain provisions for “death panels that will pull the plug on grandma.” That’s great news. Does that mean that the bill will force insurance companies to change policies they have in effect right now? Because insurance companies frequently refuse to pay for procedures they arbitrarily deem unnecessary, and when they do that, people sometimes die. nyceve at Daily Cheeto calls it Murder by Spreadsheet.

A story in Salon by Mike Madden, “The ‘death panels’ are already here,” highlights the same case that nyceve blogged about at the above link, and he offers several more examples of Murder by Spreadsheet. From Madden’s piece:

The future of healthcare in America, according to Sarah Palin, might look something like this: A sick 17-year-old girl needs a liver transplant. Doctors find an available organ, and they’re ready to operate, but the bureaucracy — or as Palin would put it, the “death panel” — steps in and says it won’t pay for the surgery. Despite protests from the girl’s family and her doctors, the heartless hacks hold their ground for a critical 10 days. Eventually, under massive public pressure, they relent — but the patient dies before the operation can proceed.

It certainly sounds scary enough to make you want to go show up at a town hall meeting and yell about how misguided President Obama’s healthcare reform plans are. Except that’s not the future of healthcare — it’s the present. Long before anyone started talking about government “death panels” or warning that Obama would have the government ration care, 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan, a leukemia patient from Glendale, Calif., died in December 2007, after her parents battled their insurance company, Cigna, over the surgery. Cigna initially refused to pay for it because the company’s analysis showed Sarkisyan was already too sick from her leukemia; the liver transplant wouldn’t have saved her life.

I’m sure that politicians like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin are well aware that the current system does exactly what they claim to fear. Perhaps they assume they will be immune because they are *very important people* who are in the public eye. Continue reading

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This is what a feminist looks like

hillaryclintonafrcia2460x276


From the New York Times:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton toured an African refugee camp Tuesday crowded with victims of violence and malnutrition, pledging $17 million in American aid to help stem the tide of rampant sexual abuse that has staggered war-ravaged eastern Congo.

Clinton’s voice cracked with emotion as she described an epidemic of rapes that has convulsed the Congo over 10 years of internecine conflict. ”We say to the world that those who attack civilian populations using systematic rape are guilty of crimes against humanity,” she said.

Clinton toured Magunga Camp, a dust-choked warren of tents and tin-lined huts in eastern Congo that is home to 18,000 men, women and children. Most were uprooted from their villages by the on-again, off-again conflict between Democratic Republic of Congo troops and rebel forces that killed more than 5 million people since 1998.

”We believe there should be no impunity for the sexual and gender-based violence committed by so many — that there must be arrests and prosecutions and punishment,” she said during a press conference with Congolese Foreign Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba in the eastern city of Goma.

.
The Guardian adds:

Clinton urged university students in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, to mount a campaign against such abuses.

“The entire society needs to be speaking out against this,” she said. “It should be a mark of shame anywhere, in any country.

.

The media, of course, would rather talk about really important stuff, like what a mad b**ch she is.


Hillary in Africa
Hillary in Africa

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Oh noes!

Expect huge ratings for the Teen Choice Awards tonight:

In what could be perceived as an attempt to be edgy or an homage to ice cream distributors (they probably don’t get enough credit), Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus pole danced on top of an ice cream cart at the Teen Choice Awards Sunday afternoon (the show airs on Fox tonight at 8 p.m.). Personally, I never dropped it like’s it hot when the ice cream truck came ’round the neighborhood; I usually just went straight for a Good Humor Chocolate Eclair bar. Call me old-fashioned. But the stripper-esque choreography, coupled with Cyrus’ questionable red-carpet attire, came off completely inappropriate and ill-advised.

We see this same kind of fauxrage whenever a female teen star grows up in the spotlight.  Miley Cyrus became famous portraying Hannah Montana for Disney. Now she is transforming into a underage sex symbol. Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera are two other former Disney vestal virgins who shed that image quickly after they left the mouse house.




But don’t kid yourself, their sexualization started years earlier.


spears_album1
hannah-montana-hannah-montana-223273_1280_1024

Once upon a time these young women were expected to project a public image of innocence and virginity well into adulthood, even if in reality they were far from innocent.  But that image is just one of the two sexual images allowed for females in our sexist culture.

How come nobody worries about the sexualization of boys?  Because boys are expected to become sexual as a sign of reaching manhood.  After they have sown their wild oats with a few bad girls they are supposed to settle on a good girl to marry.

I guess I’m jaded but I can’t work up any outrage here.   YMMV.  It’s not that I approve, but  Miley Cyrus isn’t my daughter and her image and behavior are none of my business. I already know too much about her personal life as it is.  First it was her Vanity Fair pictures and last month it was her appearance in Elle wearing a push-up leather top and “hooker boots.”

This whole thing is so predictable – millions will tune in to watch the show, and many of them will stare avidly at this young woman while tut-tutting the sexual imagery. I’ll be watching the Giants and the Dodgers.

BTW – You don’t really think Miley came up with this transformation all by herself do you?


miley-cyrus-vanity-fair-pictures


Don’t forget that when Britney and Christina went “bad” they also got very rich.


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Entitlements and Smoke Filled Rooms

I recently received an email from someone I worked on a campaign with a couple of years ago.  I’ll call her Daisy.  Daisy is one of the most talented campaign volunteers you wlll ever want to meet.  I hope someone pays her big someday.

Anyway, Daisy and I had an email exchange that eventually boiled down to “I didn’t support Hillary because she had a sense of entitlement.”  (not her words exactly but that’s what stuck with me)

Now, I’ve always wondered why this meme more than all of the others managed to stick so well with so many Democratic activists who ended up supporting someone else.  It could be that the Democratic party used to pride itself on the idea of merit and equality of opportunity and perhaps Hillary’s personal connections gave her an unfair advantage.  But we saw how Hillary started off strong at the beginning of the primaries and then just got stronger right up until the end when she was still winning primaries on the last day even after the rest of the party had cut a deal with Obama in the smoke filled rooms. She earned her support the old fashioned way and not as Chris Matthews once opined, that everyone felt sorry for her.

And then it hit me.  Weren’t the voters the ones who should have had a sense of entitlement?  That point continually gets lost in the argument that Hillary had a sense of entitlement.  The entitlement goes to the people who vote.  It is their prerogative to give their votes to whomever they choose and not have their choices overturned by party operatives cutting a deal because they don’t like the way the election is going.

I was stunned by the hyperaggressive attitudes of the Obot coalition last year who thought it was just political hardball to steamroll over the voters on their quest to install Obama.  They seemed to think it was OK to characterize Hillary voters as racists and stupid, old ugly hags because that made it easier to justify depriving them of their entitlement to their own votes.  Right, guys?  Admit it.  That’s how you felt.  If we were going to be dumb old hicks who were bitter guntoting politically incorrect racists, then we didn’t deserve our votes.

I know a lot of you keep wondering why I come back to the primaries.  Why doesn’t she just let it go, you wonder.  Dwelling on it doesn’t change anything.  Well, I keep bringing it up because last year, our democracy was subverted in such an egregious way by the Democratic party that it could have been concocted by someone with direct access to Karl Rove’s wet dreams.  Who would have thought that te Democratic party could be taken over by a bunch of authoritarian nutcases who would usurp the entitlement of the voters and make back room deals to cut out their voices?  And they did it because *they* knew better than *us*.  They were going to be our social conscience and our Big Daddies who would take care of things on our behalf.

This is what happened to the party. It put itself, and our votes, in the hands of the back room power brokers and completely ignored the voices of the voters.  And we said that if Obama and his friends weren’t going to listen to the voters before the election, he had no obligation to listen to them afterwards.

Now, take a look at Dan Froomkin’s first post for The Huffington Post.  It’s about health care and the deals that the Obama administration is cutting behind closed doors, without the input of the voters.  In fact, going out of his way to cut out a significant number of voices that want Medicare for All.  Froomkin writes:

Despite an abundance of public remarks, Obama’s actual strategy to achieve health-care reform still remains largely cloaked in secrecy. While the media’s focus has been on the unseemly public wrangling in Congress, the White House has been doing two things: 1) Trying to influence legislators behind closed doors and 2) Making deals with industry leaders behind closed doors.

And disturbingly, the crucial endgame will apparently be played behind closed doors, as well. In a conference call with bloggers last month, Obama anticipated that the bills that eventually emerge from the House and Senate will, even then, still leave the most controversial issues basically undecided.

To recap: primaries were pretty much evenly split.  But party operatives got together behind closed doors and gave the whole show to Obama, cutting out a little more than half of the Democratic voters.

The financial crisis is killing the middle class and generating a lot of outrage towards bankers and Wall Street over their outrageous bonuses and cavalier attitudes towards our financial security.  But the Obama administration got together with those same bankers behind closed doors to cut deals.

Health care reform shows that there is strong support for a public option or Medicare for All or single payer.  But the party operatives got together behind closed doors to cut deals with the insurance industry.

See the pattern?

If you voted for Obama and thought it was OK for the party to stomp all over the Clinton voters because you were giddy with powerlust, *this* is what you voted for.

THAT’S why I keep bringing it up.

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Your Breakfast Read, Served By The Confluence

Politics

Can politicians and talking heads involved in hotly debated issues avoid pernicious hyperbole, if only to spare the rest of us fake over-the-top outrage pomposity pontification like this? Ergh!

Will he finally make the case more convincingly and show some passion?
Obama to Push Health-Care Plan in New Hampshire After Town Hall Protests

President Barack Obama will defend his efforts to overhaul the U.S. health-care system at a town hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, today after a series of protests met his fellow Democrats in recent days.

When the economy is doing poorly, give people a permanent tax cut. When the economy is doing booming, give people a permanent tax cut. Someone is uninsured, give him a tax cut. Someone needs a safety net for his retirement, give him a tax cut. Privatize everything and sabotage the government. What is there to rebrand?
GOP rebranding effort flames out

Television crews and reporters wedged themselves among the crowd of party faithful to cover the National Council for a New America’s first event at a packed pizza parlor in an Arlington, Va., strip mall. The resulting coverage dominated cable news chatter for the next week. Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney were also on board.

But the council has since flamed out – at least publicly.

Palin loses her final fight with Alaska lawmakers over stimulus

Reversing a governor’s appropriation veto requires a vote of 75 percent of the Legislature, a hurdle rarely met. The override passed 45 to 14 and if a single other legislator had voted against it or been absent from the special session, it would have failed.

Supporters argued Palin badly overstated the “strings” attached to taking the money, and that frigid Alaska could use the assistance.

The next issue that will not be reformed
Obama Says Immigration Changes Must Wait Till 2010

President Obama said Monday that efforts to change the immigration system would be a major focus for his administration only next year, after other major priorities were accomplished, including passage of a new health care system.


War On Terror 2.0

Taliban Now Winning

The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home.

Opium barons at top of kill or capture list as US targets the Taleban

The Pentagon has put 50 of Afghanistan’s powerful opium barons on a “kill or capture” list, signalling a radical shift in tactics against the Taleban.

The announcement came as the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, admitted that the insurgency, nurtured by tens of millions of dollars from the country’s vast poppy fields, now held the upper hand.

McChrystal wants huge boost in U.S. civilians in Afghanistan

In addition to requesting some 45,000 additional U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the country’s top American military commander will ask the Obama administration to double the number of U.S. government civilian workers who are in the country.

Obama faces tough choices on Afghanistan

Having already “surged” an additional 21,000 troops to Afghanistan bringing US forces up to a peak of 68,000, Mr Obama could be forgiven for responding with expletives. At a time when the US president is under acute pressure to rein in a huge US fiscal deficit and when the Pentagon is severely overstretched, another hefty troop request would be hard to satisfy.


Around The Nation

63 already? It looks like 1992 was yesterday with a young Bill.
Bill Clinton Celebrates His 63rd in Las Vegas

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state, is in The Congo, as part of her trip to Africa, and thus will miss the celebration. No worries. Mr. Clinton might be celebrating on the strip on Monday, but his actual birthday is not until Aug. 19.

Yikes!
Michael Douglas’ son could get life in prison

The son of actor Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas could face life in prison for selling large amounts of an illegal drug over a three-year period before his arrest late last month, court records show.

The violent anti-choice movement found its hero
Violent abortion foes flock to visit jailed Tiller murder suspect

The list of those visiting and communicating with the man accused of killing Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller reads like a who’s who of anti-abortion militants.

Two convicted clinic bombers. The man behind the Army of God Web site. Several activists who once signed a declaration that defended the killing of abortion doctors.

I just took a look in my crystal ball: Sanford is finished.
Governor broke law in flights

Gov. Mark Sanford violated state travel law by flying overseas in more expensive business-class seating, violations that could help build a case of impeachment against him, state Sen. David Thomas of Fountain Inn alleged Monday.

Breakfast Can Wait. The Day’s First Stop Is Online.

Karl and Dorsey Gude of East Lansing, Mich., can remember simpler mornings, not too long ago. They sat together and chatted as they ate breakfast. They read the newspaper and competed only with the television for the attention of their two teenage sons.

That was so last century. Today, Mr. Gude wakes at around 6 a.m. to check his work e-mail and his Facebook and Twitter accounts. The two boys, Cole and Erik, start each morning with text messages, video games and Facebook.


Economy Watch

Shut Out at Home, American Seek Opportunity in China

Shanghai and Beijing are becoming new lands of opportunity for recent American college graduates who face unemployment nearing double digits at home.

What are we paying these people for?
Where did that bank bailout go? Watchdogs aren’t sure

Despite a new oversight panel, a new special inspector general, the existing Government Accountability Office and eight other inspectors general, those charged with minding the store say they don’t have all the weapons they need. Ten months into the Troubled Asset Relief Program, some members of Congress say that some oversight of bailout dollars has been so lacking that it’s essentially worthless.

AIG’s Liddy Heads Toward Retirement With ‘$1, a Few Bruises’

American International Group Inc.’s former Chief Executive Officer Edward Liddy, who returned the bailed-out insurer to profitability, didn’t know what he was getting into when he joined the firm, he wrote to employees.

“Truth be told, I had no idea what I was in for when I accepted this assignment, but I am glad that I came,” Liddy said in a letter dated Aug. 7. “It hasn’t been easy, and goodness knows, it hasn’t been pretty.”


The math behind the likely jobless recovery

In modern economy, industries vanish and it takes time to replace them


Op-ed Columns

These Baseline Scenario guys are very smart
Like Your Health Insurance? Maybe You Shouldn’t. (By Simon Johnson and James Kwak)

If we fail to reform our health care system this year, a major reason will be that a majority of Americans are satisfied with their health coverage and believe that reform could hurt them. According to a recent (unscientific) Consumer Reports survey, 64 percent of readers are satisfied with their plans — down from 67 percent in 2007, but still a clear majority. A recent New York Times poll found that 59 percent of Americans do not think that health-care reform will benefit them personally; 69 percent are concerned that reform could harm the quality of their own care and 68 percent are concerned that it could limit their access to treatment.

This is deeply misleading, for two reasons. First, what does it mean to say that you are satisfied with your health insurance? Consider homeowner’s insurance. Until you need it — your house burns down — you have no way of judging its quality. The same goes for health coverage; until you have a serious illness, the kind where your plan’s limits and exclusions may kick in, how do you know if your health coverage is any good?

As more U.S. troops arrive, is Afghan war worth it? (By Lee Hamilton)

Tens of thousands more American troops are en route, adding to the approximately 90,000 troops, both U.S. and allied, already on the ground. The U.S. military leadership likely will request more troops in the months ahead. President Barack Obama will have to make a crucial decision on the future of a conflict that has become his war.

I think Prof Blinder was one of the first to push the “C4C” idea.
Stay the Stimulus Course (By Prof Alan Blinder)

Apparently not bothered by facts, some congressional Republicans are already claiming that President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package has failed and are even advocating that some of the remaining scheduled steps in the legislation be canceled.

In medicine, that would be malpractice. In politics, it’s demagoguery. In reality, we need to stay the course.

Health Reform’s Hearing Problem (By Danielle Allen)

Both Sides Are Deaf to the Real Debate About Consequences

Aren’t we actually moving in the opposite direction?
A Century-Old Principle: Keep Corporate Money Out of Elections

The founders were wary of corporate influence on politics — and their rhetoric sometimes got pretty heated. In an 1816 letter, Thomas Jefferson declared his hope to “crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”


Around The World

Myanmar court convicts Nobel laureate Suu Kyi

Who knew the wrong translation could be unfunny?
Lost in Translation: Clinton Says She, Not Bill, is the Secretary of State

Apparently the translator made a mistake and the student had wanted to know what President Obama thought of the deal. A State Department official tells ABC News the student went up to Clinton after the event and told her he was misquoted.

Mission accomplished.
Despite bombings, Iraq confident it can maintain security

A series of bombings in Baghdad and Mosul on Monday killed at least 49 people and wounded more than 230 in the latest attack since the June 30 pullout of US combat troops from Iraqi cities.

The explosions were the latest in a series of attacks on Shiite targets that officials fear could spark retaliation, setting off a cycle of sectarian violence that could unravel security gains made under US control.

What is it with these guys who never seem to die?
Militant commander resurfaces to rebut official claims of his death

A senior Taliban commander who the Pakistani government believed was dead suddenly resurfaced today, sowing further confusion about the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban, days after Baitullah Mehsud’s apparent assassination.

New Momentum — but No Clear Goal — for Iran’s Street Protests

In recent days, despite the regime’s heavy-handed efforts to stifle the resistance, public demonstrations have become more decentralized and frequent as protesters become increasingly bold and defiant. This shift in mood — from despondency in late June after the Basij fired on protesters following the June 12 presidential election, to a renewed sense of optimism — signals that the vocal opposition movement will not be going away anytime soon.

Women continue to pay a very high price in crisis.
Congo’s Rape Epidemic Worsens During U.S.-Backed Military Operation

For the women of eastern Congo, a U.S.-backed Congolese military operation meant to save them from abusive rebels has turned into a nightmare of its own.

An already staggering epidemic of rape has become markedly worse since the January deployment of tens of thousands of poorly trained, poorly paid Congolese soldiers, with people in front-line villages such as this one saying the soldiers are not so much hunting rebels as hunting women.


From The History Files

Donald Versus Hitler: Walt Disney and the Art of WWII Propaganda

During World War II, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse weren’t just about entertainment. Film studios used animated characters to spread propaganda and educate Americans about their enemies. And the animators themselves were employed to make insignia for military units and equipment.


From The World Of Science

I think I have a perfectly symmetrical face. How come I’m losing my marbles? Is it the health-care debate or is something else happening?
Losing your mind? The answer is in the mirror

Although the connection between a symmetrical face and cognitive ability may seem surprising, scientists believe that it could be explained by the idea that a good set of genes for facial symmetry may be linked with an equally good set of genes for brain preservation.

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CDS never dies


Sometimes you read stuff that makes you want to go townhall on the author.  From Political Punch:

ABC News’ Kirit Radia reports: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost her cool Monday after a Congolese student, speaking through a translator, asked her what “Mr. Clinton” thought about a Chinese trade deal with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“You want me to tell you what my husband thinks?” Clinton replied, clearly irked by the thought of being her husband Bill’s spokeswoman.

“My husband is not secretary of state, I am,” she replied. “If you want my opinion I will tell you my opinion. I am not going to be channeling my husband.”

The only problem? Apparently the translator made a mistake and the student had wanted to know what President Obama thought of the deal. A State Department official tells ABC News the student went up to Clinton after the event and told her he was misquoted. No immediate word yet how Clinton responded.

Regardless of the error, the notion of Secretary Clinton’s deference to her husband clearly touched a nerve with America’s top diplomat. Just a week ago the former President stole his wife’s thunder when he appeared in North Korea to rescue two American journalists detained there. His trip came just as Secretary Clinton embarked on a swing through Africa she hoped would shine light on the plight of the continent.

This appears to be the new CDS meme – “Hillary is a mad b**ch.” They used to say she was “cold and calculating” but now she’s out of control. Exactly how do they think she should have responded to the “What does your husband thnk?” question coming from the translator?

As for the Big Dawg stealing Hillary’s thunder that is complete and utter horseshit. Bill flew to North Korea on a humanitarian mission approved by Hillary and the White House. If Hillary didn’t want him to go he would not have gotten on the plane.

He flew over there, waved to the cameras, sat for some pictures, welcomed Laura Ling and Euna Lee when they got on the plane, flew home, smiled and waved to the cameras when they arrived and never said a word.  The only people saying anything bad about the trip are the Clinton haters.  As far as they’re concerned the Big Dawg could have grabbed Little Kim by the scruff of the neck and made him agree to get rid of their nukes and hold democratic elections and it still wouldn’t be good enough.

Until yesterday Hillary’s trip to Africa has been mostly ignored by the major media – but not because of Bill. Do you see any mention in the report from Political Punch about sexual violence? Here’s what Hillary is doing in Africa:

Speaking at a public forum in Nairobi, Kenya, Secretary Clinton previewed her upcoming stop in the eastern DRC city of Goma by saying she will use the occasion to denounce violence against women in the conflict area.

“I’ll be in Goma. And I will be there primarily to speak out against the unspeakable violence against women and girls in eastern Congo. It is the worst example of man’s inhumanity to women,” she said.

Hillary is trying to do something about the rape and murder of women in Africa – and the media focuses on her reaction to a mistranslated question about trade with China.  As Violet Socks said:

I know if I’d just spent a day or two listening to mind-bogglingly horrific accounts of gang rape, I would be ready to beat the shit out of the next guy who said boo. I’d be all, fuck with me now, flipper. Bring it the fuck on.

One last thing – as Obamacare is spiraling and about to go down the drain guess what the Failbots are talking about?

Hillarycare.

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This guy has a great idea


Too bad he’s not President.


(h/t RedDragon62 via Cannonfire)


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