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Countdown to HCR: Friday night cocktails and cameraderie at the Confluence watering hole

The clock is ticking. The whip count is changing fast and furious as arms are twisted and the administration pulls out the guilt card faster than a nun at a Catholic grade school.  The date is set; but the die is already cast.

We called this outcome many months ago.  In fact, several TC’ers – both frontpagers and commenters — accurately defined what the final terms would be.  I for one am not surprised.  It is a fait accompli’ and you can bet that a last minute Stupak deal will be part of the equation.  The good little Dems will roll over in submission while urinating on their own bellies and the progosphere will cheer the “historic” moment.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  However, we’ve come to this place before in troubling moments to commiserate and communicate our frustrations.

Let it out folks.  It’s going to be a long weekend.  Drinks are on me.  What are you having?


Friday Morning News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!

I’ve been somewhat out of the loop, so I got up early this morning to surf the ‘net a little bit. I’ve really missed my time at TC and on the internet generally. I’ll share a few stories with you and you can post yours in the comments. I’ve missed quite a bit, and I need to catch up on what’s happening.

Things are going pretty well here in Indiana. We went through lots of photos of dad, and my sister-in-law made up boards with pictures of him with lots different people and in lots of places–beginning with his high school picture, which I came across. We had a lovely ceremony, without a religious person in charge. All five of us siblings spoke and then several others got up and spoke about dad also.

It was really a wonderful remembrance, and lots of people came. It was wonderful to see family members and friends whom I hadn’t seen or talked to in many years. I know I’ll have to go through a long grieving process, but I know the memory of this time of being close to so many other people who loved dad will help so much.

Now for the news. I got a few interesting messages in my e-mail this morning. This came from TomDispatch: William Astore, You Have No Say About Your Military, by Lt. Col. William Astore, ret.

Since 2001, when an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was expected to cost an already hefty $50 million, the plane’s cost has soared into the stratosphere (despite the fact that the aircraft itself has barely left the ground). The estimated cost today is $113 million per plane. Yes, that’s per plane. This supposed future workhorse of the U.S. military is now priced like the planet’s most precious gem. It’s also 2 ½ years behind schedule. Keep in mind that the Marines, the Air Force, and the Navy are planning to buy a combined 2,450 of them for what’s now an eye-popping $323 billion. And if you think the costs are likely to stay in the $113 million range, given the history of Pentagon cost overruns, then I have a nice little national security bridge to Brooklyn I think the U.S. public might love.

In other words, if all goes well from here (an unlikely possibility), a single future weapons system is now estimated to cost the American taxpayer almost one-third of what the Obama administration’s health-care plan is expected to cost over a decade. You could even think of the Pentagon’s weapons procurement process as the health-care system of the national security state. Its costs just never stop rising.

That’s where the real money is going, folks–our money is going to endless war. As William Astore says,

the Pentagon is our true welfare state, the weapons makers our real “welfare queens,” and we never stop shoveling money their way.

Meanwhile we are financing a bailout of the insurance companies with serious cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and the likely destruction of the American middle class.

I got this “bitter” message from Health Justice, a one-man campaign for single-payer health care run by a guy in Salt Lake City, UT:

This is a requiem for the idea that all Health Care in America is a Human Right. The likely passage of Obama’s health reform joke will mean that health care and money are powerfully bound together. From now on, having money means being healthy and having less money means being less healthy and having no means — well, you get the idea.

You can also say goodbye to America as the world’s greatest power. We won’t have the money to pay off our debts to the Chinese and we won’t be able to make the money because no one will be brave enough to go it alone — no job will equal no health care.

You can also say goodbye to the power of the vote. From this point on, it will be received wisdom that money can buy anything, including the White House and the entire Congress.

So folks, say Goodbye. Don’t look for a brighter future for your American-born kids. It won’t happen.

That’s really discouraging, but I have to admit it mirrors my feelings. I hope I’m overreacting. I hope this bill will do some good. But I don’t have a lot of confidence based on what this President and this Congress have done so far.

In another e-mail, I got this story from The Atlantic, by Andrew Cohen:

Tyranny, From Tim McVeigh To Ginny Thomas

Among other items of evidence seized from Timothy McVeigh’s car when he was arrested 15 years ago next month outside of Oklahoma City was a papered quote from Samuel Adams. “When the government fears the people, there is liberty,” the quote read. “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”

Lest anyone remain unsure about McVeigh’s motivations for the cold-blooded murder of 168 innocents at the Alfred P. Murrah federal building on April 19, 1995, the self-styled “patriot” wore to the attack a t-shirt with the Latin inscription: “Sic Semper Tyrannis” and the Thomas Jefferson line: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Look, I’m not in any way defending what Tim McVeigh did (I don’t for one minute believe it did it alone either, but I digress). But those “sentiments” that Cohen denigrates in his article do, after all, come from two of our greatest founding fathers, as even he admits. More from the Cohen piece:

The most disturbing recent example of the use of the “tyranny” saw was offered up by Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She told a conservative blogger last month that she wanted to get more involved in conservative politics because “we’re headed for tyranny” in government. One month later we are still waiting to hear what she precisely meant by that remark, what specific sort of government “tyranny” currently in use or on the horizon worries the spouse of one of the most powerful people in government, whose salary and perks we all pay for.

Indeed, who exactly are the government tyrants against us? What is the bill of particulars against them? Do local bureaucrats morph into “tyrants” just because they want to change the contents of textbooks? Are officials in Washington leading us toward tyranny because of bank bailouts or health care? Really? But how can the federal government be at once tyrannical and inept? Aren’t the two mutually exclusive? If Barack Obama were as malevolent as the Tyrannists claim he is, then why hasn’t he been more successful? And where were these emergent tribunes of tyranny when Bush-era officials were grabbing for all the executive branch power of which they could conceive?

Again, I’m sure that I disagree with Virginia Thomas on almost everything, but I agree with her that we are headed for tyranny (maybe I see a different kind of tyranny coming than she does). But yes, I think when textbooks are permitted to distort our history so that what our children learn in school is full of lies and propaganda (not that this is really new), that is more “dangerous” than quoting Samuel Adams or Thomas Jefferson. Yes, I think handing over taxpayer money to huge corporations–whether to bail out banks and insurance companies or to fund the Pentagon welfare state is a very bad thing for democracy.

Furthermore, the “patriot movement” people were screaming about Bush too. I occasionally read Alex Jones’ websites to see what these people are saying, and they hated Bush every bit as much if not more than Obama or Clinton. People like Andrew Cohen are busy distorting history in their own way. We need an independent media so every voice can be heard. But we don’t have an independent media. We need independent politicians too. But all we have is bought-out politicians and bought-out media.

I wonder if Andrew Cohen has read the latest from our old pal, former Obot David Sirota: What’s the Matter With Democrats?

Ever since Thomas Frank published his book “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” Democrats have sought a political strategy to match the GOP’s. The health care bill proves they’ve found one.

Whereas Frank highlighted Republicans’ sleight-of-hand success portraying millionaire tax cuts as gifts to the working class, Democrats are now preposterously selling giveaways to insurance and pharmaceutical executives as a middle-class agenda. Same formula, same fat-cat beneficiaries, same bleating sheeple herded to the slaughterhouse. The only difference is the Rube Goldberg contraption that Democrats are using to tend the flock.

First, their leaders campaign on pledges to create a government insurer (a “public option”) that will compete with private health corporations. Once elected, though, Democrats propose simply subsidizing those corporations, which are (not coincidentally) filling Democratic coffers. Justifying the reversal, Democrats claim the subsidies will at least help some citizens try to afford the private insurance they’ll be forced to buy—all while insisting Congress suddenly lacks the votes for a public option.

I wonder if Cohen has read this piece by Robert Scheer Lame Bill From a Lame Duck?

If you think health care reform has been an unsatisfying test of the government’s ability to deal with our pressing problems, brace yourself for bigger disappointment in its attempt to bridle Wall Street. This is when the true heavies go to work, and, as opposed to the medical industry lobby, the moneychangers fear not the wrath of their clients or, as Scripture tells, any higher power.

Certainly not that of the Congress or the president whose powers they have so confidently purchased…The bankers wrote the rules of the road that allowed them to exceed all reasonable limits when Democrat Bill Clinton was in the White House. And when the crash came, it was the Republican George W. Bush who made their problems go away. Having survived that disaster of their own creation, they are not about to let anyone make them change their ways.

It will definitely take more than the likes of Connecticut’s lame-duck Sen. Christopher Dodd, a likely candidate for more lucrative employment in the financial sector that he has served so faithfully.

Because, as Scheer points out,

Dodd, along with New York Democrat Charles Schumer, helped kill a decade ago. As The New York Times reported on Oct. 23, 1999: “Dodd, whose state is home to the nation’s largest insurance companies, and Schumer, with strong ties to Wall Street, have long sought legislation to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act.”

We are in big trouble, folks–right here in the good old USA. Corporate control of our government is just about complete. Now what?

So far, we haven’t lost our freedom to speak out about what’s happening. That’s something to be optimistic about anyway. So what are you reading this morning?

Have a great Friday!