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Archive for the ‘Money & politics’ Category

Even though I disagree with some of President Obama’s decisions, and although I find myself disappointed at times with lack of progress toward cherished, progressive goals, I believe he is the best thing that has happened to the Democratic Party since the administrations of John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.  He has inherited an ungodly mess from the worst administration in U.S. history.  Furthermore, the Republican Party, backed by right-wing billionaires, now has a single-minded purpose, which is to make this president fail.

President Obama has an almost impossible mission.  Never in the history of this country has one political party, after leaving messes of crisis proportion,  mobilized so totally, thoroughly, and energetically for no other purpose than to make the presidential administration of the other party fail.  The right wing in this country has no interest in supporting any programs of President Obama – even if those programs are in the best interests of the American people and are badly needed to stop deterioration in our quality of life.

I do not want to hear my progressive brothers and sisters talk of a Henry Wallace-Eugene McCarthy-Bobbie Kennedy type of primary challenge in 2012.  That would be self-destructive and self-defeating.  Jean and I expect to be holding our annual celebration of President Obama’s election through 2016.

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Beware of Privatization of Government Services

In response to today’s editorial, “Privatization caution,” I submitted the following letter to the Lawrence Journal World:

A move is under way to privatize government services and jobs in Kansas.  The so-called Reason Foundation (heavily funded by the Koch Billionaires of Wichita) is pushing this irrational idea.  In pushing their wacky form of right-wing libertarianism, the Koch oil magnates and other far-right billionaires will claim that their purpose is economy and efficiency in government.  Don’t fall for this.

Privatization has historically cost taxpayers more than services provided by government employees and has essentially lined the pockets of executives and investors.  If you don’t believe this, just consider the costs of outsourced defense/war functions.  Logistics and food services provided by KBR are far more expensive than when these services are provided by the military.  One small example:  The Army Times reported on their website on Nov. 1, 2009, that Pentagon auditors are attempting to deal with KBR’s “disjointed processes” and “weak accounting practices.” 

While troop levels are dropping off in Iraq, KBR’s level of employment has remained at the January 2008 level (17,000 employees).  During my service in the Marine Corps in the 1960s, I paid the same dues as every other Marine had paid up to that time.  I served on mess duty.  Cooking and other food services were provided by sergeants, corporals, and privates.  You can bet that this was done far cheaper than it would have been done by KBR.

Consider Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans).  According to the Center for Medicare Services, the federal government pays private insurance companies on average 14 percent more for providing coverage to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries than it pays for the same services to beneficiaries in the traditional Medicare program (20 percent more in some parts of the country).

Examples of these types of rip-offs of taxpayers abound.  The right-wing, anti-government libertarianism promoted by the Kochs has, as its primary objective, the destruction of government programs.  Furthermore, the main result of privatization is transfer of wealth from the bulk of U.S. taxpayers to the top 5 percent of wealth and income classes.

Legislators are being irresponsible when they hand your government, and in effect your taxes, over to the likes of Halliburton, Cigna Insurance, and the Correction Corporation of America.  One Republican legislator was quoted in the Journal World on Nov. 30 as telling the Reason Foundation representative, “You had me at hello.”  This is a mindless bending to the will of a powerful private interest with selfish motives that are contrary to the best interests of the people of Kansas.

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If you read the Lawrence Journal World this morning (Nov. 30, 2009), you may have noticed on page 3A that some outfit called the Reason Foundation is pushing Kansas state legislators to “privatize” more public services and, consequently, to privatize more public jobs.  What the article by Scott Rothschild (“Push to privatize is on the table“) failed to mention is that the Koch family billionaires of Wichita (and Park Avenue in New York City) are putting up the money for this nasty little piece of  anti-human libertarianism.

The “Kochtopus” (a term I borrowed from Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas) wants to wrap its blood-sucking, dollar-soaked tentacles even more tightly than they are already wrapped around the Kansas legislature, and, in essence, kill government.  What the Kochs are really all about is enriching themselves at everyone else’s expense.  For instance, the Kochtopus–through its front group, Americans for Prosperity–was a financial force behind the tea bagger movement to kill health care reform.  Americans for Prosperity is one of  many Koch front groups put in motion to transform the United States into a two-tier society…with the Kochs and a few of the other super rich on top, and the rest of us on the bottom, serving them.

A primary objective of this blog is to watch the Kochtopus and to reveal its stealthy goings-on.  If you think that the Koch blob has not been effective, you would be wrong.  One Republican, State Representative Kasha Kelley, was quoted as saying to the Koch apparatchik, “You had me at hello.”  That would probably be correct for practically all of the Republicans in the Kansas State Legislature.

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During the past week, I have received three phone calls from the DNC.  Rather, I have received three phone calls from DNC-hired fundraisers.  They wanted money.  I thought my crankiness during the first call would have been warning enough about me as a difficult customer to give pause to any subsequent caller.  But naively, I failed to realize that I am just a name in a database through which a dialing machine churns– nothing more, nothing less.

Why would I give these people money?  I have already blogged about the “Obama/DNC Listening Tour” that I attended (during which no one was listening).  Now I see that President Obama will be sinking us deeper into the quagmire of Afghanistan.  Did he forget that he is president by virtue of Hillary Clinton’s vote on the Iraq War?  Had it not been for her militarism, she would be president instead of Barack Obama.  He was the anti-war candidate.

President Obama’s tepid support for real health care reform has indeed been puzzling.  Is he willing to make more deals with Blanche Lincoln, Joe Lieberman, Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson?  Will the DNC be giving these obstructionists to decency and social justice money to run their next campaigns?  I want to know that.  I would rather support  primary candidates against these destructive, pro-Republican turncoats.  Rahm Emanual can tell us that we are f…ing stupid for criticizing another Democrat, which he has said.  Since he is a big part of the problem these days, I would say,  f… him.

Apparently, Emanual has been successful in purging Greg Craig from the Obama Administration.  This is a bad sign.  Craig was one of the members of the president’s inner circle who was pushing for adherence to the spirit of the Obama campaign.  That was a campaign that inspired many of us to give money, walk neighborhoods in Missouri, and heartily celebrate Barack Obama’s election

I think we need a very quick and serious course correction by President Obama at this juncture in his administration. 

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