Thursday August 13th 2009
There is a very good reason why Dan Gainor would prefer that a right-wing nutjob with a mind to “take-out” the president would see him first to stop him: It is because he knows that if someone did do violence to Obama, this would constitute proof of the violent nature of the right’s propaganda machine—and this would incontrovertibly discredit the right for years to come.
Continuing this line of discussion, I found a small thome in a book store written by someone named David Bankier, concerning German public opinion and the Final Solution. In Germany, some people did seem concerned about such “silly” regulations as Jews being forced to wear a Star of David; but when confronted with the less trivial injustices, such as destruction or expropriation of Jewish property, and reports of mass killings told by soldiers in letters or on furlough, or disseminated by Allied broadcasts and leaflets, Germans in the main were either indifferent, in denial or attempted to rationalize away feelings of guilt or remorse. “Sympathy” for the plight of Jews was uncommon, and any anger over what was happening to Jews was usually over inconveniences in daily life—for Germans. As the end the Third Reich approached, most Germans were more concerned with questions of “What will they do to us now?” than “How could we have allowed this to happen?”
But this perplexing way that moral issues are weighted isn’t just a German issue. Americans astonished the world by becoming unglued over Monicagate in the 1990s. Although moral and ethical questions were present, most Americans who fed off the Clinton-hate machine seemed more concerned with the prurient aspects of the case. Bill Clinton was impeached for what was a transgression of personal morality. Yet the enormity of the Bush administration’s crimes against the entire country, from the formulation of energy policy in secret that preceded the Enron scandal, the falsified “evidence” that led to an illegal war that has cost over 4,000 American lives, the gutting of privacy rights, the use of torture, the firing of federal prosecutors for purely political reasons etc., etc., etc., this has been sufficient to raise indignation in liberal quarters, but little elsewhere.
Thus no one should underestimate the power of seemingly obtuse intrusions into the public discourse—such as racial politics –“explaining” a country’s “ills.” When SD reports suggested a negative public reaction to certain policies or events, or when German fortunes in war took a decided downturn, the Nazi propaganda machine turned-up the anti-Jewish rhetoric, blaming the Jews for everything. In this country, brown-skinned undocumented workers—and by extension, anyone who “looks” like “them”—are often blamed for “everything,” not just from the right but from elements of the “populist” left. Of course, President Obama has been recently added to the list of “unreal” Americans to be blamed for “everything.”
In Germany, there reached a point where the brutalizing nature of the Nazi’s anti-Jewish propaganda reached a saturation point, and people began listening to it less and less. Anti-Jewish sentiment remained unchanged (thus the re-emergence of virulent anti-Semitism in Europe today should come as no surprise), but with soldiers dying in droves on the Eastern front, armies retreating, cities bombed, nightly blackouts, rationing—Germans (outside the anti-Semitic fanatics), became less and less convinced that the Jews were to blame for “everything.” After all, there were no Jews left in Germany. Perhaps this country has to “eliminate” brown-skinned people--perhaps not to send them all "home" with a bullet in their heads (as heard at one of these townhall meetings), but either symbolically by denying that they have any rights a “real” American is bound to respect (which one may argue is happening now, since they only enter the public consciousness via reports that excite a negative response) or driving them out of the country (in the 1930s, 60 percent of the 500,000 “Mexicans” repatriated to Mexico were U.S. citizens)—in order to reach a similar point of saturation.
The above link is to an interview with Chris Langan.It's broken up into 3 - 10 minute parts. He is the smartest man in the world. His IQ is between 190-210. He is the man whom Malcome Gladwell references in his book The Outliers. It's fascinating to hear the smartest man in the world talk about how everything in the universe is connected and absolute truth.
It's Facinating, and I would love to hear Thom interview him!
The above link is to part three of the interview with Chris Langan. In this part he mentions Utility Maximization and Decision Theory. Although I prefer the Black Swan Theory, it would be helpful to have Thom discus these topics.
I am not genuinely surprised very often, but I truly was last night, during a conversation with my 80+-year-old mother-in-law.
During our weekly "card party", my mother-in-law told me that she thought many seniors would be committing suicide because they were so afraid of "losing their Medicare benefits." (She lives in a community of semi-independent senior housing and is quite active within the community.)
I tried to explain that that wouldn't happen, but I don't think she really "heard" me. I need to talk more with her and assure her about this.
This confirmed for me the point that Rachel Maddow had made just the night before --- that the biggest group that has the most fear regarding Obama's healthcare reforms is the seniors.
This is sad and sick to see what the corporations are doing to this fragile, vulnerable group of people just for money.
Still think Obama is playing Chess?
Obama Rhetoric vs. Obama Deal-Making
After Promises From White House, Industry Leaders "Not Worried"
Does this sound like checkers?
Obama on Drugs: 98% Cheney?
by Greg Palast
Thursday, August 13, 2009
For The Huffington Post
Eighty billion dollars of WHAT?
I searched all over the newspapers and TV transcripts and no one asked the President what is probably the most important question of what passes for debate on the issue of health care reform: $80 billion of WHAT?
On June 22, President Obama said he'd reached agreement with big drug companies to cut the price of medicine by $80 billion. He extended his gratitude to Big Pharma for the deal that would, "reduce the punishing inflation in health care costs."
Hey, in my neighborhood, people think $80 billion is a lot of money. But is it?
I checked out the government's health stats (at HHS.gov), put fresh batteries in my calculator and toted up US spending on prescription drugs projected by the government for the next ten years. It added up to $3.6 trillion.
In other words, Obama's big deal with Big Pharma saves $80 billion out of a total $3.6 trillion. That's 2%.
Hey thanks, Barack! You really stuck it to the big boys. You saved America from these drug lords robbing us blind. Two percent. Cool!
For perspective: Imagine you are in a Wal-Mart and there's a sign over a flat screen TV, "BIG SAVINGS!" So, you break every promise you made never to buy from that union-busting big box - and snatch up the $500 television. And when you're caught by your spouse, you say, "But, honey, look at the deal I got! It was TWO-PERCENT OFF! I saved us $10!"
But 2% is better than nothing, I suppose. Or is it?
The Big Pharma kingpins did not actually agree to cut their prices. Their promise with Obama is something a little oilier: they apparently promised that, over ten years, they will reduce the amount at which they would otherwise raise drug prices. Got that? In other words, the Obama deal locks in a doubling of drug costs, projected to rise over the period of "savings" from a quarter trillion dollars a year to half a trillion dollars a year. Minus that 2%.
We'll still get the shaft from Big Pharma, but Obama will have circumcised the increase.
And what did Obama give up in return for $80 billion? Chief drug lobbyist Billy Tauzin crowed that Obama agreed to dump his campaign pledge to bargain down prices for Medicare purchases. Furthermore, Obama's promise that we could buy cheap drugs from Canada simply went pffft!
What did that cost us? The New England Journal of Medicine notes that 13 European nations successfully regulate the price of drugs, reducing the average cost of name-brand prescription medicines by 35% to 55%. Obama gave that up for his 2%.
The Veterans Administration is able to push down the price it pays for patent medicine by 40% through bargaining power. George Bush stopped Medicare from bargaining for similar discounts, an insane ban that Obama said he'd overturn. But, once within Tauzin's hypnotic gaze, Obama agreed to lock in Bush's crazy and costly no-bargaining ban for the next decade.
What else went down in Obama's drug deal? To find out, I called C-SPAN to get a copy of the videotape of the meeting with the drug companies. I was surprised to find they didn't have such a tape despite the President's campaign promise, right there on CNN in January 2008, "These negotiations will be on C-SPAN."
This puzzled me. When Dick Cheney was caught having secret meetings with oil companies to discuss Bush's Energy Bill, we denounced the hugger-muggers as a case of foxes in the henhouse.
Cheney's secret meetings with lobbyists and industry bigshots were creepy and nasty and evil.
But the Obama crew's secret meetings with lobbyists and industry bigshots were, the President assures us, in the public interest.
We know Cheney's secret confabs were shady and corrupt because Cheney scowled out the side of his mouth.
Obama grins in your face.
See the difference?
The difference is 2%.
LOCK AND LOAD. IT'S TOWN MEETING TIME.*
It's too bad the shouters at the town meetings can't meet THESE people, who line up at free healthcare events because they have no healthcare otherwise:
"Thousands Line Up for Promise of Free Health Care"
*From Gail Collins' NYTimes column today, "Gunning for Healthcare." (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/13/opinion/13collins.html?ref=opinion)
You've highlighted exactly the behavior by Obama that makes me suspect he is punking us. I keep hoping I am wrong.
Howard Dean is on MSNBC right now saying that, if the healthcare reform bill doesn't have a genuine public option, it's just a $60 billion give-away to the insurance industry --- and progressives will oppose it.
Re: the behavior by Obama that makes me suspect he is punking us. I keep hoping I am wrong.
I suspect that is what was said about Bill Clinton.
I am greatly disappointed, but we might as well call it what it is and deal with it.
If we have to dismiss the third party option, and are stuck with the democrat & republican parties, is there really any hope of change? I really think it is a pipe dream to think that we can take control from the corporations who own the republican & democratic parties.
Maybe I'm a cockeyed optimist, but I'm not so sure on the "punking" issue.
The mainstream media, whose boards of directors are hopelessly interlocked with those of the insurance elite and Pharma, lead the idiot masses by the nose. While all this foolishness apparently has a large portion of the public kicking and screaming AGAINST reform, Obama can't hope to make anything useful happen.
He needs allies, STRONG ones, who can, in some measure, reverse the spin of the MSM whirlpool. You and I DO NOT have sufficient power. Thom and the progressive media really don't either.
Pharma DOES. Most of us in this TINY community understand that those advertisements we see on the TV for prescription medications are NOT about selling pills, but about leveraging the media to shape the message. If Obama can get some help with his agenda from them, more power to him.
It seems to me that the republican party uses the fundamentalist as a voting block, yet the fundamentalist are oblivious to it. Is it possible that the democratic party uses the progressive in much the same way? If it is, are we bright enough to figure it out?
If Obama turns out to be a corporate front man with a friendlier, more articulate persona (than the previous one - Bush), I hope the progressives break off and start a third party. They need to expose the corporatists and separate themselves from that group.
Yes, I see the wisdom (and necessity) of being pragmatic --- one achievable step at a time.
As I say, I keep hoping... (and working for change)
It just really pisses me off that all the other major industrialized countries in the world solved the healthcare issue LONG AGO and we are still enslaved to the corporations.
In case anyone has any doubts about the Rethuglican agenda regarding Health Care reform, let me tell you about a caller on Randi Rhodes' show yesterday.
A fairly urbane-sounding guy (from LA, maybe?) made a call to Senator Chuck Grassley's office. The Republican from Kansas is the minority leader on Max Baucus's Senate Finance Committee. Unfortunately, the conversation was not recorded. The caller put on a semi-convincing southern accent and asked the woman who answered the phone if there was a euthanasia clause in the new health care law (not his exact words, but that was the gist of the question). She answered "Yes, sir, that's right!"
The rest of the exhange is more or less verbatim, starting with our caller -
"Y'all mean if my gran'ma gets too sick, some Washington bureaucrat can tell her doctor to pull the plug on her?!"
"That's correct, sir."
"Tell me, ma'am, is the Senator a good, Christian man?"
"Why, yes, sir, he certainly is."
At this point, our caller drops the phony accent and asks "Then how come he instructed you to LIE about this??!!"
The staffer then hung up, as if the phone had suddenly become to hot to handle.
Do you feel punked yet?
Internal Memo Confirms Big Giveaways In White House Deal With Big Pharma
Here is now what is in my back car window:
Health Care Reform - What would Jesus do?
1) "Is it possible that the democratic party uses the progressives in much the same way?"
I doubt it - progressives tend have that pesky "critical thinking" thing goin' on.
2) "If Obama turns out to be a corporate front man with a friendlier, more articulate persona (than the previous one - Bush) ... "
Let's not forget about all the corporate shills before GWB - Reagan, GHWB, and Clinton!
This helps make the point from my first post today - you need media in your corner to get anywhere, and corporatists own the media.
Question for Mad as Hell Dr - Do you think Obama is purposely allowing these hooligans to reveal themselves at town meetings? We would certainly kill a number of birds with one stone- think of how many people are realizing FOX news reports falsehoods and hopefully turning to MSNBC.
Good old Bushbama - every day a little more Bush and a little less Obama...
I keep thinking the key is to get the docs in this country active in this fight, as Obama's former M.D. said to Thom in a recent interview.
He said that the insurance industry would be no match for this country's doctors.
Can you rebroadcast your interview with Obama's former doc?
@Quark - Not ALL doctors are in love w/ Single Payer ... Neither my internist nor my chiropractor would be on board.
@ DRichards - thanx for the huffpo link - it also brought me to this, from the horses mouth -
Mobile phone calls most expensive in ‘capitalist’ US, Canada & Spain; cheapest in ’socialist’ Finland, Sweden & Netherlands
11/08/2009 - Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden have the lowest prices for mobile phone calls among OECD countries, according to the latest OECD Communications Outlook. The highest were found in Canada, Spain and the United States.
RE: @Quark - Not ALL doctors are in love w/ Single Payer … Neither my internist nor my chiropractor would be on board.
Why? Do they have a vested interest in keeping the status quo?
Okay- just trying to see the silver lining - it is my understanding per Huffington Post that in turn, the drug companies will help the President pass a health care bill. I still say putting together a simple PowerPoint Presentation and doing what Mad as Hell Drs are doing is the right thing to do.
PS IF EXXON is behind Americans for Prosperity- who is behind the health care hoolighans, it is because EXXON knows the next bowling pin to fall will be energy. WE are only making the cookie cutter for change now.
"Capitalist" seems to mean "get every dime you can from those who can afford it least."
Thanks for solving the mystery, Thom. I couldn't imagine what makes CEOs worth so much. They need to be from the 3% of the population that are sociopaths!
How do we deal with THAT?
How can the right get so many people riled up about tax "increases" (which are really letting tax decreases expire since they didn't have the positive effect the Republicans promised), and the left can't get people riled up about premium increases?
I'm a healthy single person with no medical history, but no employer-sponsored health insurance. Massachusetts law requires me to get health insurance. BlueCross/Blue Shield charged me $515 per month last year. That $6,180 a year was my biggest single expense...and I didn't use any health care!
Just got my renewal for the next fiscal year. My rate's going up to $730 per month! $8,760 per year.
I guarantee you that if the government raised the average person's taxes $2580 per year in taxes, Fox News, Sean Hannity et al would be out there burning Obama in effigy, screaming at the "liberal media". But when there are increases in what I call "private taxes"--fees and costs everyone has to pay one way or another--the media is silent. The whole "Chicago School of Economics" ideology in the long run has made us publicly impoverished, and a few privately wealthy.
I don't know if I'd call those few at the top sociopaths, but certainly obsessive-compulsive about their bank accounts, a kind of neurosis that leads to tunnel vision. When your business sector impoverishes their own customers, eventually that is bad business, even deadly business.
Luckily, the majority of people in business and health care are sane, moral, and aware. The trick is to not let the sick ones control the debate and the economy.
Re: sociopath CEOs are hard to find, thus their mega paychecks.
Could be, assuming that the shareholders actually still run the corporations. But then I remember last year when the shareholders confronted the board of some corporation and were told that the shareholders may own the corporation, but they don't run the corporation. (Sorry, I am still seach google for the news article).
@Quark - Not so much vested interest, I think, as Libertarian distrust of "Big" Gov't.
Here's something REALLY scary to consider - let's stipuate that somehow, before Obama leaves office, a single payer health care bill actually DOES become law.
Now jump to some point in the future, and assume that an ideological grandchild of Dick Cheney becomes President.
How quickly could the system turn bad then? IMHO, what the Rethugs are currently warning us about could be EXACTLY what will happen if we pass a good law now, and THEY then assume power.
BTW, have I mentioned that, as a cancer survivor, I can only get healthcare through a state program that is administered by a HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANY - Medica.
Several years ago, I started with monthly payments under $400/month, with minimal drug co-pays and an annual deductable of $1000.
Today, I pay about $600/month, have much higher drug co-pays and an annual deductable of about $5000. Not only that, so many of the charges by Dr.s, hospitals, radiologic co.s, etc. have been strong-armed down, with the balance paid by me (with no or minimal payment by the ins. co.)
My question: why should Medica get such a large cut of my payments? Of course, we all know the answer...
I checked. The shareholders don't run the corporation, the board does. They all sit on each other's boards and vote themselves their paychecks. So, maybe there isn't that much of a shortage of sociopathic CEO/Board members.
Wow... the natives are restless today. 30 comments all day yesterday and 33 comments in the first hour of today's show.
Anyway, before I get irritable with today's blog, if you personally want to listen to the interview with Obama's doctor, I believe KPOJ is still archiving Thom's show for free listening. The archives are at
If you want Thom to replay it for the benefit of all.. well I can't help you there.
If you're talking about Dr. David Scheiner, there's also a 26 minute interview with Scheiner on Democracy Now on July 22.
OK.. now I'm going to go act like the last stop in the digestive system.
P.S.: Thanks for responding to Rasta's post as if he is any other valued member here. Oh you and your good heart.
The MOST IMPORTANT economic reform we can make in today's USA -
Too big to FAIL is too big to PLAY!
Does John Naisbitt have the answer to your question, Thom? I swear, someone had me read John Naisbitt's first book in 1980 and it shaped my entire career. I feel bad that others have not read it. I have not made time to read Megatrends 2010 but I think the answer to your question is in there.
This will cheer you up -
Hilarious! See Lily Tomlin at work on health care reform: http://www.californiaonecare.org/
Here's the CEO of Whole Foods weighing in on the healthcare debate. His answer? Eat your whole foods!
Here's the link through TPM:
It sounds like he is all for the type of "freedom" or free market that Thom is ranting about today. No reform for him. Nice! The people who cannot afford insurance most likely cannot afford to even shop at Whole Foods. I know I can't.
Rasta, Thanks so much for the information about cell phone costs in other countries. I bet they are more up-front in socialized countries about the actual cost as well. Here companies can advertise $40 per month which winds up to be so much more in actuality. Many of those hidden fees are taxes which I agree with but the actual cost should be advertised.
Quark, I am so sorry you have to struggle with such high insurance costs that aren't doing much for you. This issue is very personal for you. I have some medical issues too and go without health insurance which is really dumb, but I just don't have the dollars at the moment.
I loved Thom's rant about the reason they have to pay such high prices for sociopathathic insurance CEO's. Most people wouldn't behave like that for all the money in the world because it would make them go crazy. Another brilliant rant from our zany, wise leader.
I hear what you are saying but what you are doing does make a difference. Just keep doing what you are doing! It has and will continue to have an impact on my thinking and I am constantly affecting others. It might take time but the tide will turn and people will pick hope over hate, fear and despair (I don't mean to use Obama's words because I am not to happy with him and his policies right now) but let's have faith in the American people. Thanks for all you do!
By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 38 mins ago
WASHINGTON – Years after President George W. Bush fired nine U.S. attorneys, lawmakers are still searching for answers. But they seem to be ***asking the wrong questions.*** In ***keeping the controversy alive***, ***Democrats have muddied*** the discussion: Did political adviser Karl Rove fire a prosecutor so his friend could get the job? Did the White House cut a deal with a senator and agree to fire a prosecutor in exchange for putting a judge on the bench? Did political operatives second-guess decisions about what cases prosecutors were filing?
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090813/ap_ ... s_analysis
democrats are just idiots because they "ask the wrong questions", "keep the controversy alive" "democrats muddle". besides the slander and obvious bias/lying of this reporter... he leaves out that the main characters have refused to testify for years. if they did they lied. the white house (bush) has destroyed most of the documents and/or given the investigators hundreds of thousands of irrelevant documents to delay the case. if siegelman was set up wouldn't that be a conspiracy? if your family family was "set up" by a U.S. Attorney and now in jail and you're looking for justice is that "keeping the controversy alive?" if Bernie Ward of KGO was targeted and set up wouldn't that be criminal. if ACORN was targeted without any wrong doing wouldn't that be criminal? there's got to be hundreds of other cases and Apuzzo calls it "keeping the controversy alive." he's a liar working for a filthy republican corporation
I have a personal request for blog readers living in Oregon. LNG is fighting really hard to change laws that protect Mt Hood forestland. This pipeline will affect all sorts of businesses ranging from wineries to oyster farms not to mention messing with hard won laws designed to protect wilderness areas.The pipeline will mess up the ports from Astoria to Portland because of homeland security issues. This will affect longshoreman, farmers trying to sell their grain, and railroad employees who load ships. It will also raise the price of goods due to the costs associated with these sorts of delays.
Does anyone who reads this blog live on property at the coast or along the river and will be very personally affected by LNG if this pipeline is built?
I wonder why...
Drew Westen: Change We Can Believe In: Feelings Toward the Administration by Those Who Elected It
Drew Westen: Over the last couple of weeks I've been hearing rumblings. They're not from the staged or misinformed protestors at town hall meetings who have decided that shouting down a member of Congress is their right as American citizens. They're ordinary voters who either sometimes or reliably vote Democratic, who were members of the Obama majority in 2008 and were convinced that this time their vote really mattered. Now they're disillusioned.
If you are like me, I bet you are partying like its 1999!
Rachel Maddow announced that Richard John (Rick) Santorum (R-PA) is considering a run for the White House. Yes, that Rick Santorum!!!! NOTED Corporate Rights advocate and influence peddler. Also known for working furiously to squelch human rights for millions of Americans . . .
1. Google the word "santorum" ten to twenty times a day and click on the site:
to drive up the count.
2. Write an email to the FBI and Eric Holder's office inquiring after the influence peddling investigation into the actions of Rick Santorum and his duaghter.
3. Give a call to your Congress Critters and ask what they have done today to repeal DADT.
While this news is better than the potential ticket of Palin/Bachmann in 2012, we can not rest on our laurels. Report back HERE for your grade!
Is it possible that Eric Holder is keeping the Bush judges in place until he can get cooperation with them to get Rove?
(AP) Former White House political adviser Karl Rove played a central role in the ouster of a U.S. attorney in New Mexico, one of nine prosecutors fired in a scandal in 2006 over political interference with the Justice Department, according to transcripts of closed-door testimony released Tuesday.
It was a wise ant that once observed, "There's a fungus among us."
I am always interested to read about characteristics, etc. associated with redheads (because of their possible genetic link to Neanderthals.) Here's the latest: