Monday, August 24, 2009

Health Care: A Commodity, or a Right?

The hysteria of the capitalist class is one of the best entertainment options available in these waning days of American empire. Consider the League of American Voters' warnings about "Obamacare," which includes a TV ad crafted by Dick Morris. You remember Dick Morris. He's the former Jesse Helms adviser that won Bill Clinton's heart and operated as the presidential pimp. The horny duo spent many pleasant days indulging their lust at public expense while the Clinton administration "deregulated" the economy, so the financial sector could do what it does best: bankrupt the country.

Although he may have given up prostitutes, Morris is still screwing the country. A sample of the claims made by the League of American Voters appears below in quotes.

"So, without your consent, you very easily could lose your insurer and your doctor."

Lots of people are losing their insurers and their doctors right now. That's because private HMOs reserve the right to dismiss costly customers when their medical needs cut into the bottom line. They prefer healthy profits and sick people, not the other way around.

"Great doctors probably will not want to get the very low rates the government will pay private doctors who are part of the new government system."

Why should a public option require that doctors be paid "very low rates?" The only reason the government will likely pay low rates is because private corporations insist on that. They don't want the competition from a high-quality public option, and insist that it be worse than the worst of the HMOs, so they won't be driven out of business. But they deserve to be driven out of business. Health care isn't a commodity, it's a right.

"The truth is that Obamacare would (assign?) almost 50 million new patients to government care."

Tens of millions of patients currently have NO health care under the privatized system. Obama's plan could make things worse, or better, but aiming to insure the uninsured is not in itself evidence of a step backwards. Every other industrial country except the U.S. has a national insurance program that makes health care a right, not a commodity. Incidentally, U.S. soldiers receive government medical care. Is that a liberal plot to force feed them communism? Obviously not. If government care is good enough for the military it's good enough for everyone.

"This means that faceless bureaucrats will decide the type and quality of your care."

Bureaucrats have faces. It's really hard to get any kind of job if you don't have a face, even in the government sector.

Having said that, however, it should be pointed out that HMOs are loaded with bureaucrats, that's why administrative costs are much higher under them than under Medicare.

"It is a very dangerous thing to give your life and well-being over to government bureaucrats!"

It's hard to quarrel with this. National security bureaucrats are killing thousands with endless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Colombia etc. Why allow them to ration wars according to spurious notions of public need? Make them turn a profit or get out of business!

"Imagine if you or a loved one is older than 80 years and critically needs heart surgery. Instead of getting the heart procedure, you or that loved one could be informed that you are simply too old. "

People are often too old to stand a reasonable chance of being able to endure heavy anaesthesia, and surgery is often ruled out for that reason. Does that mean your doctor or insurance company is trying to kill you? Of course not. In any case, whether one is under private HMOs or government care, such decisions have to be made. There is nothing to be gained by getting hysterical about it, and there is no reason to suppose that the quality of decision making has to be lower under a government plan than under a private sector plan. The one thing we do know is that under the private sector, profit, not health, is the superordinate goal. If it is profitable to an HMO to keep grandma alive, they'll be interested in doing that. If not, her life may depend on the conscience of an insurance agent, who is paid not to have a conscience.

[Postscript: Ezekiel Emmanuel, the brother of White House chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, has written that older Americans should be a lower priority for health care spending. (See "Obama's Mistakes In Health Care Reform" published by Counterpunch, September 7, 2009) Objections to this kind of remark are understandable. To the extent that government-sponsored health care pits one sector of the population against others, it is not universal care, and should be opposed. However, a misguided government health care plan hardly proves that government sponsored health care is unworkable per se.]

"These committee members will set guidelines with which faceless bureaucrats will make decisions about you and your healthcare."

Is that worse than having faceless private insurance agents make decisions about you and your healthcare, guided only by what is profitable for them and their companies? That's the situation presently. If you have a car crash and are lingering near death someone has to decide if it is financially worthwhile to save your life. If you are uninsured, you stand a much better than average chance of being declared unfit to live. If everyone were insured under a single payer plan, which unfortunately Obama doesn't favor, letting someone die for financial reasons would be much less likely.

"The Obama plan will cost more than $1 trillion in new federal outlays, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office."

If true, that's a good reason to support a single-payer plan, which would not require new outlays, and would actually save money.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

False Savior: Bill Clinton

"Clinton was a master of what became known as wedge politics, poaching on rival political blocs while discarding his own loyal constituencies when expedient."

----- Tom Hayden

"I could not accept such an award from President Clinton or this White House because the very meaning of art, as I understand it, is incompatible with the cynical politics of this administration."

-----Poet Adrienne Rich, refusing a National Medal for the Arts award

"I don't want my daughter near him."

Senator Claire McCaskill on Bill Clinton, October 2006

We can't say we weren't warned. Summarizing his pre-White House political career the Arkansas Democrat Gazette highlighted his gas bag tendencies and demonstrated eagerness to suck up to power: "A purely rhetorical approach to issues that may please all, coupled with a tendency to side with those interests powerful enough to do him some political good . . . his tax policy in Arkansas has been to hand out exemptions to large corporations and soak the middle class."

Like other leaders of his party, Governor Clinton had no problem with Washington's terrorist war against Nicaragua, so long as Democrats were kept properly informed. During his years in the statehouse he never found reason to intervene in the Reagan Administration's cocaine trafficking and Contra supply efforts at the West Arkansas Mena air base, all part of an imperial war that killed thousands of civilians. Though he never tired of talking about his own efforts to rise from humble beginnings, the struggles of the Nicaraguan people to secure their most basic human rights never attracted his slightest attention.

Ordinary Americans proved equally unworthy of his concern. Declining to push for a civil rights law, Clinton achieved the dubious honor of helping make Arkansas one of only two states in the nation without one. Unfortunately, his indifference to injustice wasn't just confined to race. With Arkansas ranking near the bottom of the country in workplace conditions, health and safety standards, regulation enforcement, and per capita income, he did little to reverse the steady decline of American labor, though he did find time to award $100 million in tax breaks to corporations. Bill Becker, head of the AFL-CIO, complained that Clinton's tendency with labor leaders was to "pat you on the back and piss down your leg." Thus, after enjoying 16 years of union support, Clinton announced that he had "serious reservations" about an AFL-CIO petition for a ballot initiative allowing union shop workplaces, even though both workers and management agreed. He also awarded Morrilton Plastics a $300,000 loan guarantee to help them build up excess inventory in preparation for a strike. Clinton still praises himself for "saving" 410 jobs with this move, but John R. Brummett, editor of the Arkansas Times said with greater realism at the time that, "When it comes to business vs. labor, you won't get a much clearer case than Morrilton to show you he's pro-business."

Indeed. And destroying unions is what the business class is all about. As far as this goes, Clinton characterizes himself as an "Eisenhower Republican," and it was Eisenhower who overthrew Guatemalan democracy on behalf of United Fruit in 1954, after which Guatemalans, especially union leaders, were subjected to decades of torture and terror, a policy that eventually reached genocidal proportions in the 1980s. But maybe it saved a few jobs - like for undertakers.

Clinton's environmental policies were no bargain either. As governor he argued for voluntary compliance with environmental standards and stacked his pollution control board with representatives of major polluters. He turned the White River into a cesspool of poultry and cattle industry waste and approved more than $400 million in state tax breaks for International Paper and three other paper mills, letting the former company cut trees in the habitat of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and annually vent nearly two million tons of chemicals into the air and water from its Pine Bluff plant. A grateful International Paper pumped money into Clinton campaign coffers as regularly as it did garbage into the environment.

Clinton's gift for gab and slickly two-faced demeanor soon propelled him into national politics. Running for president, he condemned his Republican opponents as captives of corporate lobbyists, though he himself was a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Bankers Association, the Tobacco Institute, Merrill Lynch, Coca Cola, and Occidental Petroleum. While promising federal jobs, urban aid, and a campaign to Rebuild America and "put people first," he parroted the corporate line that the groups that would benefit from such a program were unworthy "special interests." Afflicted with the moral blindness that capitalism requires in its leaders, Clinton couldn't see that the system can't "put people first," because it puts profits first.

Clinton lectured voters that they needed to have the "courage to change," but he showed no interest in changing Washington's longstanding contempt for international law, which denied desperately needed progressive change throughout the world. He applauded President George Bush Senior's intervention in Somalia, vowed to "drop a hammer" on Cuba once elected, and endlessly reiterated his desire that the United States "be leading the Desert Storms in the 21st century." On the domestic front, he called for "good jobs at good wages," but ignored the hordes of unorganized checkout clerks at Wal Marts in Arkansas, who were getting steadily poisoned by the state ranked 48th in environmental practice by the Institute For Southern Studies.

Clinton quickly demolished hopes for a liberal administration. In his first 100 days he sent fleeing Haitian refugees back to their killers in Port Au Prince. He turned Africa policy over to a Bush appointee, encouraging Jonas Savimbi to go on the rampage in Angola. He put the Zionist lobby in charge of Middle East policy. He called for Pentagon spending above the post-1950 Cold War average. He increased secret intelligence spending and maintained full funding for the Drug Enforcement Agency. He capitulated on grazing and mineral rights on public lands and delivered economic policy to Wall Street. He promoted NAFTA while gutting the side agreements protecting workers and the environment that he had promised to enforce. He rejected the single-payer health insurance long favored by other industrial countries, pushing instead for a system of "managed care" that would increase profits for the private insurance companies that donated $850,000 to getting him elected.

While rhetorically criticizing the so-called excesses of the Reagan years, Clinton in practice extended the Reagan "revolution" beyond the bounds that Reagan himself had contemplated. He shrank the federal government relative to the private economy, especially social welfare budgets. He increased the suffering of the poor. He dismantled the post-WWII capital-labor accord and made the control of business costs trounce unemployment as a policy concern. He strove to make taxes go increasingly towards police, prisons, and war, while restricting the social safety net to the elderly. In short, he advanced Republican orthodoxy across the board, embracing a war on drugs, limitless "free trade," balanced budgets, a crippling of civil liberties, the death penalty, Star Wars, and runaway prison construction.

On no major issue was he even slightly progressive. Much praised for holding an allegedly constructive attitude on race (novelist Toni Morrison praised him as the nation's "first black president"), Clinton in fact deliberately insulted blacks from the beginning. When the Rodney King beating and subsequent riots demonstrated for the umpteenth time that U.S. cities were hellholes of racial and class oppression, he mouthed ignorant platitudes about the "culture of poverty," blaming the victims for their plight. In the subsequent Sister Souljah fiasco, Clinton appeared before Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition to denounce Souljah for having stated that black gang members involved in incessant warfare against each other instead consider "hav[ing] a week and kill white people." Clinton distorted this into an advocacy of racial murder, which it was not. Souljah's comments were predicated on one being a black gang member in a racist society, intricately connected to vast social violence obviously not susceptible to quick solution. In that circumstance, Souljah suggested, why not kill white people rather than blacks, since white deaths garner broad social concern in a way that black deaths do not. It was not advocacy of racial murder, but a rhetorical attempt to awaken blacks to the fact that a racist society was encouraging them to kill only themselves. Clinton wrenched Souljah's comments out of context to let minorities know that slick white professionals were still in control of the Democratic Party, so blacks had better tone down their grievances and stay at the back of the campaign bus.

As president, Clinton added injury to insult, carrying out a devastating war on the poor and people of color, while preaching chastity to young blacks and continuing to develop a well-deserved reputation as a compulsory philanderer himself. In 1993, with crime rates not rising, and with nonviolent offenses and minor parole violations accounting for the vast majority of the jailed, Clinton called for 100,000 new cops on the beat, boot camps for juveniles, expanded prison construction, an extension of the death penalty to dozens of new offenses, and the criminalization of gang membership. At the time a typical inmate in a U.S. jail was a nonwhite male who had become involved in petty crime because no avenues to a legal life of conventional satisfactions existed. He had usually not finished high school, had no job skills, had never enjoyed steady employment, and was not working at the time of his arrest. The top five predictors of his crime referred to economic conditions: business failure rate, number of unemployment claims, number of workers on strike, number of personal bankruptcies, and incidence of mortgage foreclosure. Clinton addressed none of this, seizing on the opportunity to kick a helpless constituency in the face while basking in the applause of clueless pundits.

It is difficult to exaggerate the viciousness of Clinton's war on the poor. In 1996, bursting with homilies about moral discipline, thrift, and "family values," Clinton revoked federal income support for the poor ("welfare reform"), a policy no Republican president had ever dared to implement. The move to end welfare "as we know it," plunged a million more American children into poverty (the U.S. already had the highest child poverty rate in the world among industrial nations) and deprived poor families of $28 billion in food assistance. A provision in the bill mandated that welfare mothers divulge the name of their children's father or be stricken from the rolls. The original plan of moving people "from welfare to work" had called for softening the transition with guaranteed health care, child care, job training, and a living wage. None of that made the final bill.

"Your president is a real asshole," commented Labor Secretary Robert Reich's wife to her husband as he returned home after the nasty deed was done.

On foreign policy Clinton was even more disastrous. Just as Jimmy Carter had, Clinton falsely announced he had achieved lasting peace in the Middle East. He neglected to mention that his Oslo Accords called for the incorporation of Palestinian lands in a permanent colonial structure administered by Israel, which was not peace but a solidification of the racist status quo. Israel remained in control of everything that counted: East Jerusalem, the constantly expanding settlements, the economy, the land, the water, sovereignty, and "security." The final settlement was to be based on U.N. Resolution 242, which recognized only the rights of existing states, defining the Palestinians as mere stateless refugees, not a nationality dispossessed of its rightful territory. Jerusalem was to be Israel's eternal and undivided capital, while the Palestinian National Authority was slated to control less than 3% of the West Bank. In the "autonomy" region, Palestinians were to govern 30% of the territory under the overall "security control" of the Israeli military. The remaining two-thirds of the West Bank was to be reserved for Israeli settlements. The Israeli Military Administration retained an exclusive right to legislate, judge, and execute policy, while Diasporan Palestinians had no "right of return" to the land of their birth, as called for by unanimous U.N. decision in 1948. The Palestinians were granted merely "limited autonomy" in the Gaza Strip and Jericho, which, as Palestinian scholar Edward Said noted, meant that the PLO had converted itself from a liberation movement into a "small-town government."

Meanwhile, Jewish settlement construction in the occupied territories accelerated dramatically in the Clinton years, a policy that served as backdrop for Ariel Sharon's touching off of the new intifada with an invasion of the Al Aqsa mosque site in Arab Jerusalem in September 2000. The next day Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered riot police to storm the compound where 20,000 Palestinians were praying. Rocks were thrown and the police opened fire, killing seven and wounding 220. President Clinton showed his approval by speedily delivering to Israel the largest shipment of attack helicopters in a decade.

In spite of much nonsense written about the allegedly extraordinarly generous Clinton-Barak plan at Camp David in 2000, the Clinton Administration continued to back Israel's rejectionism to the hilt. Barak conceded nothing, not a return to the 1967 borders, not a right of return for Palestinian exiles, not Palestinian sovereignty over Jerusalem. He refused to dismantle Jewish settlements and called for terminating Palestinian electricity, telecommunications, and water. And when the Palestinians resisted, he saw to it that the nearly defenseless civilian population was pounded by helicopter gunships, F-16s, tanks, missiles, and machine guns.

Clinton also backed Colombia's death squad government to the hilt, as it converted much of the national territory to a corpse strewn wasteland. Thousands of people were tortured and murdered, hundreds of thousands made refugees, giving Colombia honors as the country with the largest displaced population in the world. The security forces responsible for the devastation were closely linked to the narcotraffickers Washington allegedly was intervening in Colombia to fight against. When Clinton took office, U.S. aid to Colombia amounted to about half the total for the Americas. Clinton increased it.

At a ceremony for Colombia's new ambassador to the U.S. in 1993, Clinton praised the gangster state as a "valued trading partner" and "one of our strongest allies . . . . in the effort to . . . .see democracy flourish and the rule of law prevail." He saluted "the policeman on the street and the soldier in the field," for their valiant help in such a noble effort. The day after his speech a group of soldiers in the field killed three peasants and dumped their bodies in front of the Catholic bishop's residence in Tibu, a typically grisly display of propaganda by the deed. These were just the latest victims of Washington-backed death squads that had claimed twenty thousand lives in the previous seven years. The targets were those whose existence interfered with elite efforts to maintain a national disparity that awarded 3% of the population 70% of the land: community leaders, human rights and health workers, union activists, students, religious workers, vagrants, the unemployed, street children, prostitutes and homosexuals. Many of the "undesirables" were killed for the cash their body parts yielded on the black market.

A similar campaign of mass destruction was carried out in Turkey. While Washington rewarded its client state with billions of dollars in jet planes, tanks, and other weapons, Ankara went on the rampage in the southeast, where major U.S. airbases were located, razing Kurdish villages to the ground and forcibly evacuating refugees. Tens of thousands were killed and millions left homeless, an atrocity dwarfing much more highlighted events occurring in the former Yugoslavia, but no accusations of resurgent Hitlerism were heard in the U.S. media as they were in relation to Slobodan Milosevic and the Serbs.

In Somalia Clinton continued the "humanitarian" mission of George Bush Senior, with U.S. troops waging gun battles in the streets of Mogadishu with teenage gangsters, killing thousands in the righteous effort to conquer an evil "warlord." Assaulting hospitals, bombarding political meetings, shooting into protesting crowds, and bulldozing homes to make free fire zones, they encountered only curiously ungrateful Somalis, who raised their shoes over head in a ritual gesture of contempt, showing their invaders a forest of heels. According to the C.I.A. the Somali intervention - Operation Restore Hope - killed between 7000 and 10,000 Somalis.

In Iraq, Clinton continuously bombed the country to preserve "no fly" zones having absolutely no legality, while maintaining harsh economic sanctions that killed staggering numbers of Iraqi civilians. By 1996, six hundred thousand children had died from malnutrition and disease as a result of the sanctions. A U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization report stated that Iraqi children under five were plagued by "wasting" - severe hunger, visible in the ribs and limbs. "Iraq," the report said, "is increasingly becoming like a concentration camp." The continued silence of the international community, it warned, "results in genocide." On 60 Minutes Clinton's Secretary of State Madeleine Albright firmly justified the policy that Leslie Stahl reminded her had killed "more children than died in Hiroshima." "This is a very hard choice," Albright said, "but the price, we think the price is worth it."

Clinton declined to withdraw support from client Indonesia when it unleashed another huge slaughter on the island of East Timor. In the six months preceding a 1998 popular referendum on independence for the island, Indonesian forces armed and trained by Washington carried out a campaign of terror and intimidation that killed thousands, according to Church officials and other credible observers. While most of the population was driven from its homes and the country was destroyed, Clinton did nothing to reign in the killers. Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger explained that a U.S. attempt to stop the slaughter would be analogous to his cleaning up his daughter's dirty room at college, a trifling errand beneath the dignity of a superpower.

Incredibly, 80% of East Timorese went ahead and voted for independence from their murderers, which prompted the Indonesian military to exact revenge by torching Dili, sacking and burning churches, killing priests, nuns, and pro-independence leaders, leaving behind a charred landscape of pillaged remains. Just five days before the referendum the Pentagon had announced that "A U.S.-Indonesian training exercise focused on humanitarian and disaster relief activities concluded August 25." By the end of 1999 Amnesty International reported that between 100,000 and 150,000 people were trapped in "makeshift camps" in Indonesian West Timor as "virtual prisoners," frequently "intimidated, harassed, extorted and in some cases sexually assaulted and killed."

An Australian academic specialist commented that exact figures on Timorese deaths were unknown because (1) bodies were still being discovered (2)"as many as 80,000" people were still unaccounted for, and (3) many others were thought to have been "dumped in the shark-infested ocean." What was known was that the sick, the elderly, and children, lacking clean water, cooking fuel, and modern sanitation and shelter, were dying in large numbers from gastroenteritis. The retreating Indonesian army polluted wells with corpses and chemicals, and destroyed the water supply and phone systems. The Clinton Administration, who welcomed General Suharto to Washington in 1995 as "our kind of guy," let the Indonesian generals go about their business unimpeded.

An equal opportunity destroyer, Clinton also bombed the Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan in August, 1998, destroying half the medicine supply in that poor African country, along with the facilities for replenishing them. Washington blocked a UN inquiry into the justification for this bombing, which the Clinton administration said was because it produced EMPTA, a building block in the manufacture of VX nerve gas, and because it was financed by Osama bin Laden. These claims evaporated almost overnight, while the death toll from the strike - in a country with endemic malaria, tuberculosis and other fatal diseases - was estimated by the Boston Globe's Jonathan Belke to be in the "tens of thousands" just in the year following the bombing, with the ultimate toll unknowable but beyond even that grim estimate. Werner Daum, Germany's ambassador to Sudan, wrote in the Harvard International Review that, "It is difficult to assess how many people in this poor African country died as a consequence of the destruction of the Al Shifa factory, but several tens of thousands seems a reasonable guess." Human Rights Watch reported that as a consequence of Clinton's bombing UN and other relief agencies indefinitely postponed their relief efforts in Sudan, a disruption of assistance that likely produced many other preventable deaths, given that in the south of the country alone the U.N. estimated there were 2.4 million refugees at risk of starvation.

In 1999, Clinton launched his most-publicized intervention, a "humanitarian" war against Serbia that had no legal sanction from the U.N. Security Council. Yugoslavia was subjected to round-the-clock air attacks for 11 weeks, which dropped twenty thousand tons of bombs and spewed hundreds of thousands of tons of highly toxic and carcinogenic chemicals into water, air, and soil, poisoning fields and streams, exposing millions of people to the radiation from depleted uranium, and wiping out the productive capital of the entire country. There is no doubt about where responsibility for these crimes lies. Captain Martin de la Hoz, who participated in bombing missions flying an F-18, confirms that, "All the missions that we flew, all and each one, were planned by U.S. high military authorities."

Neither is there any doubt about who caused the war. In pre-war negotiations at Rambouillet, Clinton and Co. demanded that NATO receive "free and unrestricted passage" throughout Yugoslavia, immunity for crimes, and full use of the electromagnetic spectrum, along with all airports, roads, rails, and ports. When the Serbian Parliament objected to being treated as a conquered nation, as any self-respecting government would, the U.S. moved to "save lives" by bombing Serbs, Montenegrins, Albanians, Hungarians, and Romanis, burying them in blood-spattered rubble.

The Clinton/NATO aggression killed almost three thousand people. Initially the war was cast as an effort to maintain NATO's "credibility," but the campaign was quickly repackaged as an effort to stop genocide by yet "another Hitler," overlooking the fact that the truly massive violence occurred as a consequence of the NATO bombings.

Slobodan Milosevic's (the latest Hitler) democratic opposition was silenced, the flight of Kosovar refugees expanded to a flood, the U.N. was kicked to the sidelines, and a resurgent Luftwaffe goose-stepped through the Balkans under the high-minded guidance of Clinton internationalists. The demolition of Yugoslavia completed, NATO Commander Wesley Clark indicated that the official pretext for the aggression was merely a cover story, stating that the NATO operation "was not designed as a means of blocking Serb ethnic cleansing . . . . There was never any intent to do that. That was not the idea." In fact, Clark bragged that the goal of the war was to "demolish, destroy, devastate, degrade, and ultimately eliminate the essential infrastructure" of Yugoslavia. Such is the fate of countries that wish to retain public sector services and social programs in a capitalist world order.

Clinton lied about nearly everything to do with Yugoslavia. He said he acted to fulfill "the demands of an outraged and united international community." But the 154-member UN was deliberately bypassed, and not even the Security Council endorsed the war. Clinton claimed that he conducted the war "to enable the Kosovar people, the victims of some of the most vicious atrocities in Europe since the Second World War, to return to their homes with safety and self-government." In fact, a large majority of Albanian Kosovars were forced to leave their homes not by Milosevic, but by the NATO bombings. Clinton claimed that the NATO triumph ushered in new hope that victims of ethnic or religious oppression could permanently count on support from the U.S. and the world. In fact, the U.S. was and is far and away the world leader in fomenting and capitalizing on all kinds of oppression to maintain a secure global system of profit extraction. Clinton applauded U.S. pilots for allegedly "risking their lives to attack their targets" while avoiding civilian casualties, even though they allegedly were "fired upon from populated areas." In fact, U.S. combat deaths were zero, and American pilots faced little or no danger as they dropped thousands of tons of bombs on nearly helpless civilian populations. Clinton insisted that "when our diplomatic efforts to avert this horror were rebuffed, and the violence mounted, we and our allies chose to act." In fact, there was no diplomacy at Rambouillet, just the usual ultimatum to submit to U.S. demands or endure unprovoked attack. Clinton bragged that 19 democracies had joined forces to defend against "the stiffest military challenge in NATO's 50-year history." In fact, Yugoslavia posed no serious military challenge to NATO, which represented countries whose collective GDP was about 50% of the world's GDP and whose collective military spending was more than half the world's. The war could in no realistic way be construed as self-defense. On the contrary. It was a sadistic smashing of a defenseless nation by the most powerful rogue forces in the world.

Perhaps Clinton's proudest achievement is his economic record. It is true that, thanks to social security surpluses, he did record three consecutive years of fiscal surplus between 1998 and 2000, leading to suggestions that he - and even more, Alan Greenspan - was the Financial Messiah. Greenspan was applauded for having tamed inflation, kept unemployment low, and presided over the greatest stock market boom in history.

Inflation did decline, but this was mostly because workers were unable to secure wage increases commensurate with productivity increases even at low unemployment rates. Greenspan conceded as much when he praised the economy's performance in 1997 as "extraordinary" and "exceptional," while adding that a major factor accounting for this was "a heightened sense of job insecurity and, as a consequence, subdued wages." And because household incomes and even corporate profits were unable to keep pace with the soaring market, the 1990s spending spree could only be financed by unprecedented borrowing. (Household debt mushroomed under Clinton, reaching 97.4 percent of disposable income.) But the debt-financed boom began falling apart even before Clinton left office.

We should also keep in mind that under Clinton the distribution of wealth in the U.S. became more skewed than at any time in the previous 40 years. The ratio of average CEO pay to the average worker's wages rose from 113 to 1 in 1991 to 449 to 1 when Clinton left office in 2001. Why does this matter? Because extremely lopsided wealth distribution always leads to economic collapse when the rich can no longer productively spend or invest their fortunes and opt instead for speculative schemes that siphon wealth rather than create it. At that point aggregate purchasing power begins to collapse because the plundered middle class has too little money with which to sustain broad consumer demand. Recession or depression is the depressingly familiar result.

Clinton actually invited the current recession/depression by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, which had been passed in the wake of the Depression to keep commercial banking separate from investment banking, in order to prevent speculators from collapsing the market as they had in the 1929 crash. In fact, in the name of market efficiency and modernization Clinton advanced financial deregulation across the board, opening the way for the fraudsters to plunder the nation's assets and leave the public holding the bag - of toxic assets.

It is true that Clinton increased the minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.15, but this did not reverse the steady decline in purchasing power of even that higher minimum. When Clinton left office in January 2001, the $5.15 minimum was 35 percent below the minimum wage's peak real value in 1968, even though the economy had become 81 percent more productive since then. Furthermore, average real wages were lower under Clinton than they had been under Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and Bush Sr.

The official poverty rate declined from 15.1 percent to 11.3 percent in 2000, which means that the prevalence of poverty was the same as it had been in 1974. But per capita GDP in 2000 was 70 percent higher than it had been in 1974, productivity was 61 percent higher, and the stock market was up 603 percent. Given these figures, anything short of the outright elimination of poverty represented overwhelming failure to promote the general welfare, as called for in the U.S. Constitution. In any case, child care costs rose steeply for a large percentage of poor households after Clinton cut federal welfare support for single mothers. If this single factor were accounted for, the slight decline in the official poverty rate in the Clinton years as compared with the Reagan-Bush years would most likely vanish.

It is generally thought that during the Clinton era fewer jobs were lost due to trade than under Reagan, but this is not true. Under Reagan and Bush Senior from 1980 to 1994 3.2 million jobs were lost in the U.S. because of free trade, that is, 228,571 jobs a year. Under Clinton, from 1994 to 2000, the beginning of NAFTA, another 3 million jobs were lost due to free trade, that is, 500,000 jobs a year. Furthermore, the new jobs Clinton boasted of creating were of lower quality in terms of pay, benefits, and security than those that had been shed.

Finally, a word on Clinton's disgraceful "personal" life. Bodyguards delivered women to Clinton, who, while auctioning off the Lincoln Bedroom as a six-figure overnight flophouse for fat cat donors, claimed the Oval Office as his "private" sanctuary. While speaking to teens of chastity and personal responsibility, he bullied his sexual conquests into silence, employing semi-official detectives to dig up blackmail data for use in extracting false testimony absolving him of responsibility for his predations. Kathleen Willey found her car tires punctured and a stranger inquiring after her children by name. "Don't you get the message?" the man asked.

Cabinet members and underlings were pressed into service to provide deniability and false alibis. Lawyers famous for devising loopholes for rich thugs made sure the swarm of abusive lies was all "legally accurate."

Eagerly slandering the women he targeted, Clinton dismissed Gennifer Flowers as a lying gold digger; insinuated that Paula Jones was a common slut who might secretly have enjoyed a sleazy encounter with him; discarded Kathleen Willey's accusation the basis that, "It's ludicrous to think I would come on to a small-breasted woman"; and portrayed Monica Lewinsky as a "stalker."

Can there be much doubt that he would have smeared Lewinsky far dirtier if she had not retained the presidential seal on her most famous dress?


Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, "HRC," (Broadway Books, 2014)

Christopher Hitchens, "No One Left To Lie To - The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton," (Verso, 1999)

Michael Parenti, "To Kill A Nation - The Attack On Yugoslavia,"(Verso, 2000)

Alexander Cockburn, "Washington Babylon," (Verso, 1996)

Alexander Cockburn, "The Golden Age Is In Us," (Verso, 1995)

Jim Hightower, "There's Nothing In The Middle Of The Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos, (HarperCollins, 1997)

Norman Solomon, "False Hope: The Politics of Illusion in the Clinton Era," (Common Courage, 1994)

Norman Solomon, "Through The Media Looking Glass," (Common Courage, 1995)

Javier Giraldo S.J., "Colombia - The Genocidal Democracy," (Common Courage, 1996)

John Irwin and James Austin, "It's About Time - America's Imprisonment Binge," (Wadsworth, 1994)

Robert Pollin, "Contours of Descent - U.S. Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity," (Verso, 2003)

Jack Rasmus, "The War at Home - The Corporate Offensive From Ronald Reagan To George W. Bush," (Kyklos, 2006)

Edward W. Said, "The End of The Peace Process - Oslo and After," (Pantheon, 2000)

Noam Chomsky, "A New Generation Draws the Line - Kosovo, East Timor and the Standards of the West," (Verso, 2000)

Noam Chomsky, "9-11," (Seven Stories, 2001)

Noam Chomsky, "Rogue States - The Rule of Force in World Affairs," (South End, 2000)

Noam Chomsky, "Keeping the Rabble in Line," (Common Courage, 1994)

Noam Chomsky, "World Orders Old and New,"(Columbia, 1994)

Noam Chomsky, "A Painful Peace," Z Magazine, January 1996

"A Democratic Triumph," the Progressive, September 1996

Barbara Ehrenreich, "Study Guide," the Progressive, November 1998

"Back to Baghdad," the Progressive, September 1996

"Iraq's Children," The Progressive, November 1997

Kevin Kelley, "The Myth of Humanitarian War," Utne Reader, January/February 2000

Michael Albert and Stephen Shalom, "The Kosovo/NATO Conflict," Z Magazine, May 1999

"A Superpower's Dilemma," Newsweek, September 20, 1999

"East Timor's Agony," the Nation, September 27, 1999

"Ambush in Mogadishu," Frontline, April 8, 1999
Posted by Michael Smith at 9:14 AM

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Political and Economic Disabilities

by Frank Scott

We’re told the recession is nearly over, again, but our system’s foundation reveals more weakness at each structural repair attempt by capital’s construction crew, also known as our government . This particular crisis will pass, but soon lead to others more serious until we make the economy work for the betterment of all, and not just benefit some at ever more deadly cost to everyone else .

Corporate America has increased profits by reducing its work force and their salaries, then forcing them to borrow money they should have been paid , and compounding the felony by collecting interest on that debt. The present recession is part of that attack on the working middle class , as millions bought homes at rates they could not afford. The hustlers who sold them mortgages based on invisible assets built a financial pyramid which only existed in their electronic religious temples . When material bills came due and capital had to produce substance for its own debts, what happened?

Corporate government rushed to the aid of corporate finance with trillions of taxpayer dollars, which could then be loaned back to taxpayers at even higher interest rates. As the system becomes more severely crippled , measures to save it become more blatantly outrageous, often bordering on madness. And reactions to this massive welfare program to save capitalism have produced outbursts of near lunacy.

For the first time in history America has a president who is only half white, causing mental agony for the still significant racist minority . Along with those who still believe Obama represents substantial change, they are near the breaking point. This despite the fact that Obama was selected by America’s rulers, to be elected by America’s ruled, to save private capital , and make that salvation seem a positive change for the public taxpayers . As if Obama’s sincere but often hallucinating supporters weren't bad enough, the situation has led the barely conscious opposition into a passionate crusade approaching mass hysteria. They charge Obama with being a socialist , or of having been born in another country. This reinforces the notion that America is the world’s leading producer of weapons, garbage and imbeciles, but severe mental stress doesn't lead to clear reasoning, and we are an extremely stressed population.

All of us are disoriented by the distortions and lies we get from our mind managers, and starry eyed believers who thought this hybrid speech maker was some agent of change in anything but rhetoric have little right to laugh at anyone else. We all need a wake up call.

The latest scheme to “change” our blood-for-profit health care system will do nothing more than provide public assurance for the continued domination of private insurance. The president disregards the majority's desire for a system like medicare to cover everyone, and obeys the dictates of insurers and pharmaceutical monopolies. The politically brain dead who call him a marxist should know that’s closer to the corporate socialism of Mussolini and Hitler, than the democratic theory of Marx. This health care hustle is another scheme to save the minority at the expense of the majority , accompanied by rhetoric from our designated reformer that says we’re getting “change we can believe in.” That's if we believe in the easter bunny and the tooth fairy .

Like everything else in the marketplace , political control is a purchased commodity, and organized corporate capital has far more buying power in the electoral mall than the disorganized public. That kind of power cannot be overcome by combining our dollars to compete with national lobbies , but only by combining our democratic actions to run the money changers out of the political temple. To affect real transformation we need to wrest control from interests so unprincipled they are selling humanity’s future in pursuit of their own private gain . And driving some of us crazy in the process.

Our heads are filled with stories of unjust treatment in Iran , while emptied of the daily atrocity that is Israel’s treatment of Gaza. We increase murder in Afghanistan as it continues in Iraq and spreads to Pakistan, and we’re told democracy is on the rise. We are warned about elected leaders in South America who oppose global capital, but we hear little about the elected leader in Honduras, exiled for the sin of disobeying his oligarchs on behalf of his people. Meanwhile, we have many here in a near psychotic state which has them rallying against an economy which does not exist but might work for their best interests if it did, or passionately supporting the economy which really does exist but works against all their individual and collective interests, because it does.

We need homeland security, but that has nothing to do with any outside threat . We have to control the political economic terrorists at home who are pushing us closer to disaster, while their media distracts with horror stories either far from our ability to affect, or directly attributable to our unconscious support for their continuation. We can neither remain enamored of a photogenic figure smoothly offering us loans with our own money in order to keep the banks in power, nor sink to the depths of hateful ignorance which finds us at each others throats because those throats are at our economic level or below , while our real enemies are so far above that economic level they can seem invisible.

Democracy is not simply attending a meeting , raising funds or voting in an election. It is the combined actions of citizens taking control of their destiny, by any means necessary , demanding, and getting, government answerable to them, and not entrenched wealth or foreign interests. The last election misled many to feel that democracy was finally achieved, but the present situation should make it clear that was not even remotely the case. We have a long way to go, and for our own good, we’d better get there soon.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Frank Scott. All rights reserved.

This text may be used and shared in accordance with the
fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be
archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that
the author is notified and no fee is charged for access.
Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on
other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author

frank scott

Frank Scott writes political commentary which appears in the Coastal Post, The Independent Monitor and on his shared blog at:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bulletins From Konsciousness Kontrol

New Loan Promises To Save USA, Global Capital

The international banking firm of Soros, Tsuris and Soros has joined with Goldman, Ponzi and Sachs in announcing plans to finance a one hundred fifty trillion dollar( $150,000,000,000,000) loan to the USA, made possible through a complex arrangement involving OPEC, the Bulgarian Central Bank, Cosa Nostra , the Colombian Drug Cartel, Albania, the Vatican Zionist Minion , and the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The globally secured financial giant, long run by mathematical geniuses from the top secret HPOOIIOICNUTOH ( high priests of international investing of intriguing complexity not understandable to ordinary humans) expect to raise this historic amount via the sale of still to be created world government backed and guaranteed bonds, drawn on faith, hope and a complete and total lack of charity, in keeping with the constraints of harsh reality and profit seeking .

“Though there are neither bonds nor investors at the moment,” said firm spokesperson Bernardo Batista de Rothschild. “we know that the incredibly high interest rates we will offer - 30-35% - assure that very soon there will be many rushing to our doors, their brokers, our banks, their keyboards, or other text devices , with thumbs, checkbooks, credit cards, and promissory notes at the ready. ”

The American stock market rose to its highest level in two hundred years at this news, while unemployment dropped from its previous high of 44% to its lowest point in months; 39%.

“Things are finally looking up,” said president Palin, “and our long recession may finally be over. Again.”

New Court Assures Continuity with Old Court

The congress overwhelmingly approved the Supreme Court’s first autistic lesbian arab american atheist member, GloriaGus Fatima AntiCristo who will join recently appointed Chief Justice Glitzy Morales, the online gossip celebrity and nation’s first english speaking illegal immigrant on the court. “We are close to reaching the American dream on this court, with servants for minority capital coming from representatives of the great majority of our people, all divided into identity and ethnic groups but united in their dedication to maintain the system of identity and ethnic groups united in support of finance capital” said court spokesperson and former Mafia lawyer, Vito Nunzio Lieberman Chan, who spoke, as usual, through an interpreter.

New Coalition of Truthers, Birthers, Frothers and Mirthers

A new group uniting previously disparate forces promises to introduce a poli-psych-eco-giggle factor to american politics which has been sorely lacking since the Gerald Ford regime, previously honored as the most hysterical but harmless administration in U.S. history. The group, spanning a host of controversial issues, put out a press release on its forming. What follows are only some major points in a 2,457 page document.


New Expose Reveals Truth About 911: X-Files Group Suspected

Cigarette Man, other Mysterious White Guys and Area 51 captives implicated in intricate plot involving State Department, DMV, Starbucks , Brittany Spears, the Illuminati , and some jews...


Obama secretly born on Mars in test program to create universal slavery of poor white market investors,

He came here on space ship piloted by Fidel Castro as part of plot formed by interplanetary cabal to change earth-usa into slave colony for universe run by illegal mexican immigrant jews ...


Ex inmates of maximum security mental institutions secretly running United Nations, United States, United Air Lines and United Fruit, duping public, media, markets, private sector, athletes, tv stars and stamp collectors into believing there is a reality, advising one and all to watch channel zero when it is off the air to see the real state of the world.


urge all to follow advice of Truthers, Birthers, Frothers, try not to think too much, and have a nice day

Iran! Global Menace! Still! Beware Iran! Hurry and Beware!

New Findings Indicate Iran Working on Secret Weapon powerful enough to destroy entire planet, especially Israel!

Researchers from Israel’s world famous think tank, Material Reality is an Oxymoron , announced results of their intensive two week study of Iran’s secret plans to exterminate all jews and possibly the rest of humanity, except for Mecca and a Starbucks in Tehran.

At a press conference which introduced the results of the incredibly efficient and widely supported U.S. financed study, an Israel spokesperson said:

“We firmly believe in the results of our painstaking study, so why shouldn't you?

Unless you’re an anti-Semite?

Are you?


stay tuned...