Category Archives: Al Franken

Don’t Cry For Franken: Cry For This Broken System

On Thursday, December 7th, around 11:30 am, Senator Al Franken announced his resignation that will be coming in the following weeks. As a long-respected writer, his speech was unsurprisingly powerful and emotionally charged.

It was both historic and difficult to hear a strong progressive (who still voted for an inflated military budget) taking a leadership role (after much hedging) by claiming that public officials have a responsibility to their constituents.

Sort of.

Throughout the course of the allegations, he has claimed he doesn’t remember the events as unfolding the same way that his accusers claim. Franken also made sure to take swipes at the president’s own braggadocio in describing his assault of women. He then made sure to leave room to talk about Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate being named as a multiple-time sexual predator and pedophile.

While this may have vindicated a Democratic party so quick to remind the world of their moral authority, it was poorly timed. And it didn’t differentiate them from the Republican party in any clear way.

Much like Dustin Hoffman claiming that his actions don’t represent who he is, those who perpetrate also wish to write the narrative around their crimes. They get to measure the suffering of victims as “assault” versus “harassment”. They get to say, “Well, this is what we did back then.”

These cheap responses are indicative of a broken system of accountability where men, while perhaps feeling on edge in post-Weinstein times, don’t ever have to atone. And when they do, they expect a reward for their admission of guilt.

As has become the spirit of the times, those who are extended privileges also seek to cry foul when their privilege has been named a privilege. Dustin Hoffman is privileged to still be able to walk onto a set and call the shots. Al Franken is privileged to be able to stand before a microphone and cast doubt on his accusers. Roy Moore has the privilege of not being behind bars.

Meanwhile, virtually no men in power are unselfconsciously donning a cape and trying to stand up for the victims.  The only people speaking for the women who were victims of these men’s abuses are other women who have been abused.

As has long been the history of dealing with misogyny, women have to be the victims of crimes, healers of one another, and teachers to men. Meanwhile, men cast aspersions at one another, comparing the severity of their crimes and going out with their pride intact.

I shed a tear when I heard Al Franken’s speech. It was historic and moving. He’s a powerful writer and a confident orator.

I only wish he would have let one of the many victims of the male abusers in power speak in his stead. This would have allowed the Democratic party to differentiate themselves from this arc of history which seems to be bent infinitely backward.

The Weinstein (Company) Effect: Only Women Need Apply

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me
And I’m feeling good
I’m feeling good

— Nina Simone, Feeling Good, 1965

The idiocy of our times – those tick-tick-tock-tock empty cranial caverns of the American collective delusion – have us clear thinkers and revolutionaries at heart on the ropes. How do we even sleep walk through the carnival that is Facebook, Saturday Night Live, endless Black Fridays, malls and movies, the spectacle that is un-news and the infantile capacity of adults from Ellen to Trump, from Rachel to Tom Friedman, from MSM punks to you-name-it-still-employed economist to control vast hundreds of millions – check that, billions – of destinies.

Looting the tax coffers, hollowing out the middle class, rampant perpetual poverty and indebtedness, chronic illness, crashing climate, and a shit-storm of a planet now that we all think Capitalism is the only solution to death.

We fiddle with holiday deals while holocaust looms, and we sit, kneel, genuflect, roll over, lie down and plead in our hog-tied American way. Bombs from the suburbs lifted into space with the deadly drone god while Southern California burns, Phoenix evaporates, and both ends of the country flop around like lice-plagued GMO fish on the sinking deck.

Prognostication, this is the daily bread, by the millions – blogs, WoP, WSJ, NYT, endless on-line mutterings of the controlled opposition. We have become Pokémon dealers, shuffling the next culling of the economy, or placing bets on the insanity plea of Trump and Company, hoping for black rain and Sunday bloody Sunday.

This is the time of Botox broadcasters, the male and female versions of the same plastic people, there, in their million dollar flats at night, conjuring up more of the same silly and insane narratives about things they know nothing about. They ply their trade like traveling prostitutes, selling their bits of Cellophane wisdom and glowing manicured selves like jesters, clowns. The more they try and sound Ivy League and display Driveling Room Temperature IQ, the more difficult it is to understand them.

The elite is not some gang of point-one One Percenters. They are in the several millions, count, sixty million of them in the USA, held together with the thieving accountants and hired hands of the legal-illegal class. They are wannabe’s and blue collar millionaires, two doctor heads of households, high end business owners, the traders of guns, pharmaceuticals, laws and other lies.

We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.

— US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

Yet, we have to listen endlessly to the We Are the Ninety-nine, which is the absurdity of double-think. One percent isn’t holding up the house of cards. The minions, and the mighty masses supporting these titans of industry and billionaires, they are the Twenty-Solid (& Hard) Percent, in their glory, libertarians and thieves and unwilling to be the blood coming from their proverbial onion hearts.

In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in relatively few hands. As of 2013, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 36.7% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 52.2%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 89%, leaving only 11% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.8%

I dance through this mumbo-jumbo Hollywood and Single-Screen-Scroll-after-Scroll mush we call culture, and I hurdle over the Eichmann’s, big and small, and I end up in the same place I started more than 45 years ago – all thieves and charlatans, but with that big all-you-can-eat American cafeteria grin, the lives set in drive through coffee, grease and drugs delivery.

This country, ripe for the taking, after genocide after genocide, and then the War is a Racket turned into America is the King Pin, the Biggest Racket of them All. Blue blood in her circulatory system, ever the slave-trading mindset, dredged in Puritanical and Crypto-Zionism.

Promised Land is the Disney Effect, and chosen people come and go, as the drive-in’s turn to weeds and the ever-present huckster and PT Barnum and Lying Lynching Legal class rule over the entire mess, over all of the stars and tycoons. Beady-eyed money changers, and those sniveling ones making markets out of nothing, the very steps we take, breaths we exhale, lives we shed.

There will be blood is the banker’s credo now, backed by Smith and Wesson and plethora of rockets bursting in air from every corner of the White Man’s/Christian/Jewish world.

Cops and coaches, captains and CEOs, we know their kind, and no matter which XX or XY you attempt to rationalize into the madness of Capitalism, no matter which Gender or Identity serves the point-one One Percent class, the project is all cornered and flayed because Capitalism is the breeder of the heathens, the reckless and ruthless, the smiling and sincerely elitist crew.

Yet, we hear endless drivel now about Groping A and Groping B, the slithering tongues of these Capitalists on steroids and amyl nitrate and human growth hormones and T-cells, and lubricated eggs from virgin sturgeon. These people in the center of that millionaire goo, in that trade of body and soul for the spin around the rotunda or jaunt down Sunset Boulevard, no matter which Charlie Rose or Dustin Hoffman or Sean Penn you end up with in the same room or office or court of law, unfortunately, they are all the same, groping or masturbating or climaxing or exhibitionisming or peeping tomming or S & M-ing, no matter how you run with them, these elites will eventually get under your skin like pin worms and chiggers.

We’ll be seeing the fallout now of the alleged perversions and sexual overtures and manipulations and cajoling and assaults and rapes, wherever they go with those gag rule clauses after the payoffs and silence money.

Just out on this day of infamy, Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, stories on John Travolta, one of the richest guys in Hollywood with 5 planes and jets, and his own runway in Florida. This is the microcosm of what Americans are, what they watch, what they believe.

Imagine he and his wife, Kelly Preston, living their multimillionaire tax-evading, money-sheltering, cash-gouging lives. So, old John (the Italian-American actor) is accused of attacking masseuses, and he is now in the pig wash slurry of more scandal, as his movie on John Gotti is being dropped (by Lionsgate) because of the allegations swirling around old John (Travolta) attacking guys coming to his hotel rooms for massages (professional):

Mafia leader Gotti was brought to trial multiple times throughout the 1980s, only to be acquitted.

Travolta, 63, plays Gotti in multiple stages of his life, including when he finally went to prison in 1992.

Gotti died of throat cancer, while still incarcerated, in 2002.

Last month Travolta was named in a criminal complaint by a 21-year-old masseur who accused the actor of sexual battery that reportedly took place in 2000.

According to the bombshell police report, the masseur alleged that Travolta groped his bare buttocks and indecently exposed himself during a deep body massage at the LaQuinta Hotel in Palm Springs, California.

During the alleged incident, Travolta, 63, also made lewd remarks about gay fantasies while at the hotel’s spa facility around 1:30 am on February 15, 2000.

The masseur reported the incident to the Palm Springs Sheriff’s Department.

Officer Mark Peters went to the hotel to speak with Travolta, who had already checked out by the time he arrived.

This isn’t the first time Travolta has been accused of misconduct while getting a massage.

In 2012, Travolta was sued over accusations that he tried to have sex with a male masseur during a therapy session at the luxury Beverly Hills Hotel.

Okorie Okorcha, the lawyer representing the masseur said: ‘My client is afraid of John Travolta’.

He added: ‘Mr. Travolta made very explicit threats against my client, which are contained in the lawsuit.

‘Specifically, John Travolta told my client that Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men who expect favors in return for sexual activity.

‘Let’s face it, John Travolta is an extremely powerful man, and my client absolutely felt threatened by Mr. Travolta. My client was sexually assaulted by Mr. Travolta and he needs to be held accountable for his actions.’

Read more:

I bring this most recent case up to illustrate the insane and perverse and surreal aspect of American society, and the money made by talent-less actors who are in bizarre relationships with spouses (arranged marriage with Preston per Scientology), who have the lives of the rich and famous all bundled up in their wacko ways. Do we want to sit through two hours of Gotti, at $12 a pop per movie ticket? Do we have no common sense in this country? The poor and the rich are the mad crowd, the spectacle now conjoined as aberrations of humanity.

Travolta, a deacon in the Scientology cult. Do Americans boycott these people, these companies, these ideas, these death by a thousand cuts philosophies and this repressive un-culture to our own humanity?

Boys will be boys, and then some. How many men have made the news for their alleged crimes of groping, harassing, cajoling, blackmailing?

How many rabbis are speaking out against the large amount of Jewish men caught up in the allegations? How many preachers and priests are speaking up? What about the school teachers, and those university faculty? Mothers? Daughters? Aunts? Any Trump family out there willing to go out on a limb? Where is that ethical code humanity universally has to live with to make sure we do no harm?

Golden Rule, Seven Sins of Gandhi ?

On October 22, 1925, Gandhi published a list he called the Seven Social Sins in his weekly newspaper Young India.

Politics without principles
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Knowledge without character
Commerce without morality
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice

The list sprung from a correspondence that Gandhi had with someone only identified as a “fair friend.” He published the list without commentary save for the following line: “Naturally, the friend does not want the readers to know these things merely through the intellect but to know them through the heart so as to avoid them.”

Unlike the Catholic Church’s list, Gandhi’s list is expressly focused on the conduct of the individual in society. Gandhi preached non-violence and interdependence and every single one of these sins are examples of selfishness winning out over the common good.

It’s also a list that, if fully absorbed, will make the folks over at the US Chamber of Commerce and Ayn Rand Institute itch. After all, “Wealth without work,” is a pretty accurate description of America’s 1%. (Investments ain’t work. Ask Thomas Piketty.) “Commerce without morality” sounds a lot like every single oil company out there and “knowledge without character” describes half the hacks on cable news. “Politics without principles” describes the other half.

In 1947, Gandhi gave his fifth grandson, Arun Gandhi, a slip of paper with this same list on it, saying that it contained “the seven blunders that human society commits, and that cause all the violence.” The next day, Arun returned to his home in South Africa. Three months later, Gandhi was shot to death by a Hindu extremist.

The law of reciprocity, and where does that fall on American culture, whether through the lens of millionaire men or millionaire women?

One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself (positive or directive form).

One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated (negative or prohibitive form).

What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself (empathic or responsive form).

The Golden Rule differs from the maxim of reciprocity captured in do ut des—”I give so that you will give in return”—and is rather a unilateral moral commitment to the well-being of the other without the expectation of anything in return.

The fall-out in this dog-eat-dog, one man/woman for him or herself stolen land, which is the undertow of predatory capitalism, unfortunately, is all (unduly so) on the shoulders of all men – fathers and uncles, teachers and social workers, sons and uncles, all of us, righteous and far from any capitalist usury mindset, divorced from the take-take-take that is America, seemingly embraced by every boy or girl, man or woman, all intersexuals and transsexuals.

The voyeurism, titillation, exhibitionism, proclivities toward gender and self debasement, and the ejaculatory and phallus aims of those tainted elites, and not so elite, are tied to the usury, exploitative and downright greed in every human or business transaction in Capitalism. Men, alas, the patriarchy, are all tied up with what we in America have become along all gender and sexual identities: paranoid, exceptionalist, supremacist, imperial and self-important, warring, and supercilious, superficial and shallow.  It’s an epigenetic cause and effect relationship, inside the DNA code of most red-blooded Americans, gay, straight, lesbian, trans-sexual, and what have you!

Scam, flimflam, extort, fine, levy, tax, fee-fee-fee, and then, we steal from our futures, bankrupt our own retirements, rip off generations yet born, dredge the lake for that last caviar-producing fish, and we put it all out there in Google-land, Selfie the Entire Disaster, go on Twitter Tizzies, and then ask for more, and order it all on Amazon, trucked to the door and drone-delivered to the balcony.

Funny, how conservative guys like Paul Craig Roberts see this next spasm of looting with the Republicans throwing down their true colors and the Pelosi-Schumer schemers in the Big D club yawning about their protected investments/millionaire and yammering about Russia, here at Counterpunch:

What we are witnessing is the complete looting of America and the entirety of the West.  While the Western World collapses, the insouciant, submissive people sit there sucking their thumbs while they are being ruined.

Nothing is left of the West except looters at work.

This tax bill is an abomination, an act of brutal plunder.  Its sponsors should be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail, if not hung from a lamp post.

If we really break this down, really, what is that tar and feather routine? Imagine, a real world where we aren’t going to take it anymore, one where the tar is 200 degrees and the feathers are all knife sharp and hardened. Imagine the dunking of those thieves-murderers in vats of their fossil fuel gunk, near boiling temperature.

I wonder if that’s what Craig Roberts is asking for?

And, then, really, what does it mean to be hung on a lamp post? The old ways put the tarred and feathered tied to a lamp post, but hung evokes a lynching. Is that what this staid and conservative Paul Craig Roberts is asking for?

Hmm, a call to action, violence?

The reality is Americans love their thug royalty, all the Bushes and Clintons and Obamas and the endless Kennedys and now the Trumps. This country not only tars and feathers dissidents, but we’re strung up to dry on the vine. I have lost jobs for speaking out, for advocating as a teacher or journalist or social worker. I write about this all the time, and many places I’ve called my work place were havens for women, me being in the super minority. I have no bended knee and favoritism for the female side of capitalism, like many now are gaggling about.

I have been face to face with ameliorating, middling, and in many cases malfeasance prone supervisors and HR directors with the XX gene, and I am not about to go on a tirade of reverse stupidity and count all men as Harvey Weinsteins or John Conyers.

We are living up to our collective reputation as mushy thinkers, in this next Tweeting for the Highest Scream for grope x, y and z. Untethered bathrobes, full-on kisses, and all the other pathetic pranks and sexist fun (sic) these leaders of the free world engage in. But . . . .

Bombing the world, gutting the world, and possibly stealing all the world’s things, and we talk about Al Franken the Bumbler.

Imagine now, a few days ago, that parading multimillionaire, mutilating man, Obama, calling for more women to be elected to office. “. . . because men seem to be having some problems these days.” In all his neoliberal, girl child killing, female wedding party murdering, undocumented woman deporting glee, he sits on the pile of manure that is American retro-thinking and makes these declarations worthy of the nonsense that overrules everything in this country.

Hollande treats Obama to three-star French cuisine

This is Obama at a private event in Paris on Saturday, and he, of course, was referring to the sexual misconduct allegations made against many high-profile men he golfs with, rubs elbows with, hobnobs for.  Here, this is a must read, his eleventh-grade wisdom and drearily daft psychology:

“Not to generalize but women seem to have a better capacity than men do, partly because of their socialization.”

Here he is, commenting on the plethora of misdeeds and worse of the great elite class, those champions of perversion like Weinstein or the Franken fellow or Alabama Crimson Tide Moore and Company. This is in Paris, speaking to his elites, arranged by a network of communications professionals known as the Les Napoleons. Millionaires, and many of them perverted on many levels.

You think one of these boys and girls club acolytes have a bone of humanism left?

Listening to wise scriptures, austerity, sacrifice, respectful faith, social welfare, forgiveness, purity of intent, compassion, truth and self-control—are the ten wealth of character (self). O king aim for these, may you be steadfast in these qualities. These are the basis of prosperity and rightful living. These are highest attainable things. All worlds are balanced on dharma, dharma encompasses ways to prosperity as well. O King, dharma is the best quality to have, wealth the medium and desire (kāma) the lowest. Hence, (keeping these in mind), by self-control and by making dharma (right conduct) your main focus, treat others as you treat yourself.

— Mahābhārata Shānti-Parva 167:9

This is 21st Century Google Man, Obama, at his best and most hypocritical, somehow declaring that I as a man should not run for local office or be involved in social change at the political level because of a few perverts making the Twitter feeds? He declares men seemingly have a few problems, and so, this wise American Murder Incorporated CEO (ex) is asking me to stand down as a male and wait for the female leaders, because women have a better grasp on socialization? What the hell does that mean? Where do these Gollum characters come from, this Barak and his Michelle and the millions of shekels shoved into their pockets for their mere existences, for a few hiccuped words ghost-written into Number One Best Seller Hardbacks?

The socialization of women like Madeline Albright, Chancellor Merkel, Margaret Thatcher, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Janet Reno, and, well, the reader can generate his-her-their own list. Socialization of these fine ladies shine a light on their incredible lightness of goodness? This is side-mouth, PC, identity politics talk.

These are loopy times, and we’ve been in them for decades, really, since Eisenhauer, as undertow after riptide produced the death of integrity, the death of common thinking, the inability of the American trite and superficial man and woman to advance to a level of sophistication or deep thinking or even wisdom or common sage sense.

Image result for Obama with Goldman Sachs

Look at these fellows and women running the world into the ground while they stash-stash-stash away retirement money enough to feed the world 50 billion times over.  Look at how they are not us and they indeed want us prostrate and afraid and on the run and now in their goofy show of faux integrity. All for one, one for all women.

Image result for Obama with Goldman Sachs

Here’s a run down of some of those so-so better socialized women Obama is calling on. I need not go into their dirty deeds, their recklessness, their thieving and in many cases direct connection to murdering thousands and structurally and violently assaulting millions and millions more. That other gender Obama is asking for help from, the female persuasion, is now front and center the only gender to be socially and structurally ready for service to the country, as Obama blurts out during one of his Point One Percent Meetings in France . . .  because men seem to be having some problems these days.

Madeleine Albright  Condoleezza Rice Hillary Clinton .

Arizona governor Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security

Margaret Spellings Secretary of Education

Betsy DeVos  Secretary of Education

Susan E. Rice, Loretta E. Lynch, Laura Bush, Karen Hughes (Bush Women)

Samantha Power? (Wow, what a bastion of integrity . . . I had to throw that in).

More rah-rah bullshit from mainstream propaganda:

Forbes USA Most Powerful Women

Fortune’s Most Powerful Women

And, the following from other lists, imagine, the power they wield, and because they are women, according to Barak Obama’s calculus, are stalwarts of humanity! Merkel, May, Gates, Trump — bastions of integrity!

Angela Merkel is still the most powerful woman in the world.

The German Chancellor has held the top spot on the Forbes Most Powerful Women List for seven consecutive years, and 12 years in total. Another prominent political leader, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, ranked second. It is her first time appearing on Forbes‘s annual list.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is the highest-ranking American woman, taking the third spot. Seven of the world’s 10 most powerful women are American, according to the Forbes list.

Forbes determines its ranking by evaluating four categories: money — which covers net worth, company revenues, assets under management or GDP — media presence, influence and impact.

Of the 100 women on the list, nearly half are from the United States. Ivanka Trump, senior adviser to and daughter of President Donald Trump.

Here’s the David Letterman Countdown, Top Ten. Gates Foundation, Facebook, GM, YouTube, Fidelity Investments, IMF, Bank, IBM. Just think of those companies, and how unjust, how predatory, and how destructive they are, but with women in higher up positions and even as CEOs, well, according to Obama, we all can sleep better tonight now that women are at the helm!

  1. Angela Merkel: Chancellor, Germany
  2. Theresa May: Prime Minister, U.K.
  3. Melinda Gates: Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S.
  4. Sheryl Sandberg: COO, Facebook, U.S.
  5. Mary Barra: CEO, General Motors, U.S.
  6. Susan Wojcicki: CEO, YouTube, U.S.
  7. Abigail Johnson: CEO, Fidelity Investments, U.S.
  8. Christine Lagarde: Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, U.S.
  9. Ana Patricia Botín: Chair, Santander Group, Banco Santander, Spain
  10. Ginni Rometty: CEO, IBM, U.S.

Here, an interesting list, with, of course, a few amazing human beings lumped into the superficial and super-rich — Addams, Aquino, Carson, Curie, Mead, Parks, Wolff. But it’s Time Magazine, so we know what that means (run by a woman, or has she been replaced?)

Jane Addams (1860-1935)

Corazon Aquino (1933-2009)

Rachel Carson (1907-1964)

Coco Chanel (1883-1971)

Julia Child (1912-2004)

Hillary Clinton (1947-Present)

Marie Curie (1867-1934)

Aretha Franklin (1942-Present)

Indira Gandhi (1917-1984)

Estée Lauder (1908-2004)

Madonna (1958-Present)

Margaret Mead (1901-1978)

Golda Meir (1898-1978)

Angela Merkel (1954-Present)

Sandra Day O’Connor (1930-Present)

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

Jiang Qing (1914-1991)

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)

Gloria Steinem (1934-Present)

Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)

Martha Stewart (1941-Present)

Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

Margaret Thatcher (1925-Present)

Oprah Winfrey (1954-Present)

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

Most Powerful Women According to Fortune Magazine, 2010!

Highest paid, take a look at that loot, again, as Obama proclaims, why not have them all (women) run the senate, congress, Supreme Court and the Executive Branch?

See the source image

Carol Bartz, Yahoo, $47.2 million
Safra Catz, Oracle, $36.4 million
Carrie Cox, Schering-Plough, $23 million
Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft Foods, $22.1 million
Wellington Denahan-Norris, Annaly Capital Management, $21.6 million
Pamela Patsley, Moneygram International, $17.9 million
Susan Ivey, Reynolds American, $16.2 million
Martine Rothblatt, United Therapeutics, $15.8 million
Carol Meyrowitz, TJX Companies, $14.8 million
Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo, $14.2 million
Angela Braly, WellPoint, $13.1 million
Brenda Barnes, Sara Lee, $11.5 million
Linda Chen, Wynn Resorts, $11.2 million
Patricia Woertz, Archer Daniels Midland, $11.0 million
Kim Sinatra, Wynn Resorts, $10.5 million
Mary Callahan Erdoes, JPMorgan Chase, $10.4 million
Nancy Wysenski, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, $10.2 million
Jackwyn Nemerov, Polo Ralph Lauren, $10.1 million
Ursula Burns, Xerox, $9.9 million
Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, $9.7 m
Ann Livermore, Hewlett-Packard, $9.7 million
Doreen Toben, Verizon Communications, $9.2 million
Katherine Krill, AnnTaylor Stores, $9.1 million
Kathryn Fagan, Annaly Capital Management, $8.6 million
Ellen Kullman, DuPont, $8.3 million

You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.

— Nina Simone

See the source image

Note 1:  Give it to the New York Daily News to call this “the Weinstein Effect as Sexual McCarthyism”;

Note 2:  In case the reader thinks I am just stuck on this satirical look at the fading empire, USA, I have been hard at work fighting the good fight against my own wrongful termination, at the hands of majority’s worth of females from both the former non-profit I worked at and triggered by Planned Parenthood: “Falling into the Planned Parenthood Gardasil Snake Pit“.

Franken Goes Down

I find Al Franken’s greatest transgression to be his vote as a super-delegate (in the Dems’ July 2016 national convention) for H. Clinton (and thus for Wall Street and the neocons), instead of Bernie Sanders, who was favored by the voters of Franken’s state (Minnesota) in their Democratic Primary. When questioned about it he arrogantly stated that he knew better than the voters he was supposed to represent. This was an anti-democratic transgression, a misuse of power he had over the regular citizens. Entertaining troops (during the Iraq War) and pontificating over the radiowaves (on Air America) could be transgressions against the public interest, in the sense of propaganda: efforts to influence the decisions of actual policymakers (pro Iraq War), and to influence support for those policies by a duped public. But, his collusion in Hillary’s anti-democratic, pro-corporate, anti-Bernie scheme was by use of actual political power, a procedural power he had because of his government office (senator, thus a Dem superdelegate). That and his evident careerism evaporated any interest and sympathy I might have had for him.

I’m sure the Dems are dumping Franken solely out of concern to keep him from contaminating them with the “masher plague” now being so vociferously attacked by the #metoo crusaders. Aside from the usual cover-your-ass concern of any political hack, part of the Dems publicly moral indignation against surreptitious male sexist exploitation is undoubtedly an emotional outlet for the disappointed Hillary cultists who didn’t get their “first female president,” as well as a tactic by the party managers to maintain a sharply contrasting image for the Dem Party from that of the Republican Party, which is poised to elect an open pedophile to the Senate, from Alabama: Roy Moore, a real positive showcase for Southern hospitality and charm!

Even if Franken is replaced by a Republican, it won’t matter much since the Dems are in the minority anyway. The Democrats can never outdo the Republicans for being Neo-Nazi, Klanner, sexist (against women), homophobic, and pedophile-friendly, so the Dems will never gain political majorities by aping the Republicans in the appeal to the bigot legions. So, they will make a show of being “inclusive” and of displaying a moralistic politically correct intolerance, to attract the audiences repelled by the Republicans’ flagrant lack of moral Clearly, for both major parties, power is everything, and neither is concerned about appearing either “moral” or abysmally crude and base, if such a display helps them accumulate power by getting their partisans into political office. Hillary never had a problem with defending Bill’s sexual predations (and persecuting his sexual victims), and winking at the exploits of Bill’s pervy pals (like Jeffrey Epstein, and Donald Trump), nor hanging out with Harvey Weinstein, so long as the money came in to her “campaign fund;” and about 99% of the Republicans are now salivating on the floor in anticipation of Roy Moore swinging his dick around the Malls of Washington, D.C., and helping them gut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, so as to further punish the poor for being impoverished, and increase the ranks of the impoverished in order to satisfy the insatiable greed of the wealth-obsessed.

If the Dems had a one vote majority in the Senate I’ll bet Franken would have been scolded, sent to a plush rehab center for a month, and then declared rehabilitated and fit for duty. Power, money, career, with focus on one, and loyalty to none.

The previous comments were prompted by the following:

Al Franken (comments on his resignation from the Senate) by William Blum

Senate Debates Billions for Insurers while Public Demands Medicare for All

Billions More for Crony Capitalist Insurance or Improved Medicare for All

This week we attended a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee where there was broad bi-partisan support for giving billions more to the insurance industry to “stabilize the market.” The government already gives for-profit insurance $300 billion annually and their stock values have risen dramatically since passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), so the rush to give them more was disheartening.

That was contrasted with a meeting with the staff of Senator Bernie Sanders about the improved Medicare for all bill he plans to introduce on September 13. Sanders, along with other Senators, is seriously trying to figure out how to transform health care from being a profit center for big business to being a public good that serves the people. That means doing away with the health insurance industry, not giving them billions of public dollars.

The contrast reinforced the need to advocate for improved Medicare for all and push for the best healthcare system we can create.

Healthcare a Commodity or a Human Right?

Senators are back from their long summer recess, and they started off with health care back at the top of the agenda. The Senate HELP committee held its first of four hearings on September 6, and Senator Bernie Sanders is preparing to introduce a Medicare for All bill on September 13. The two efforts are a clear example of the underlying dilemma that we have faced in the United States for the past 100 years: Is health care a commodity or a public good? It can’t be both.

The failed efforts to repeal and replace the ACA took up a lot of time and energy this year and left the country in no better position to deal with the ongoing healthcare crisis. Now, time is really short because private health insurers are announcing their rates for 2018, and they are, not surprisingly, screaming for more money because they have to (*gasp*) pay for health care.

A group of us attended the first Senate HELP committee hearing to convey the message that the people are ready to undertake the serious work of creating a National Improved Medicare for All. Typically, before and sometimes during a hearing, attendees are allowed to hold signs as long as they are not disruptive. On that day, the committee chair, Senator Lamar Alexander, ordered that signs be put away before the hearing even began. He told Dr. Carol Paris, a steering committee member of the Health Over Profit for Everyone campaign, that “we are not talking about improved Medicare for All now.”

Instead, the entire hearing focused on “stabilizing the insurance market,” even though their stock values have quadrupled since 2010. Five health insurance commissioners from different states testified before the senators and answered questions. It appeared that all had been well-prepped by the health insurance industry. The committee members patted each other on the back for being bi-partisan, unfortunately they were working together for the insurance industry, not for the people.

The bi-partisan hearing discussed three main points: making sure that public dollars were available to subsidize insurance costs, reinsuring private health insurers so they would be protected if they had to spend ‘too much’ money on health care and incentives to entice private insurers back into areas that are not profitable. Coincidentally, these were the same points raised in the bi-partisan proposal published this year by the Center for American Progress, a Democratic Party think tank financed in part by health insurance lobbyists. Both parties are clearly on the side of health care as a commodity.

Not one person participating in the hearing questioned whether health care belonged in the market. At least one Senator, Rand Paul, complained about Big Insurance coming to Washington with their hands out and said he would rather pay directly for health care than give the money to Big Insurance. His ideology is far from supporting Improved Medicare for All, but he did call out the corruption.

Perhaps the most disappointing of the day was Senator Al Franken, who has completely bought into the ‘health care is a commodity’ camp. Not only did he advocate for subsidizing and reinsuring private insurers, but he called for a federal reinsurance program to cover the costs of people who need health care, at least after Big Insurance takes their cut. And Franken, who tried to make jokes about the hearing, called for more money to advertise and lure youth into the insurance market, which is about as unethical as pushing cigarettes or candy, and wants heavier enforcement of mandates to purchase health insurance. Franken touted a ‘virtuous cycle’ of giving more money to health insurers so that they lower premiums and more people buy insurance. The problem is that there is nothing very virtuous about spending billions to subsidize an industry that has a greater responsibility to pay its Wall Street investors than to pay for necessary health care. The insurance industry has shown itself to be insatiable, and ready to use their power to extort Congress because they hold people’s lives in their hands.

It was a difficult hearing to attend. The whole time we wanted to stand up and ask whether they could possibly see how ridiculous this all appeared and whether they thought private health insurers added any benefit. But, the Capitol Police made it clear from the start that they would arrest anyone who disrupted without warning, and we had a meeting scheduled with Senator Sanders’ staff after the hearing. We did manage to squeeze out a few “Medicare for All’s” during the hearing.

Healthcare Without the For-Profit Insurance Industry

The meeting with Senator Sanders’ staff was like night and day. We began from the premise that health care is a human right and had a frank discussion of how that could be achieved. The text of his upcoming bill was not available, but for 90 minutes we discussed many of the details of the bill. This meeting was scheduled because of a letter that the Health Over Profit for Everyone steering committee sent to the Senator’s health staffers raising concerns about what was reported to be in the bill. An initial response was lacking, but once the letter was widely circulated in progressive blogs, the staff were ready to meet.

There has been a movement for National Improved Medicare for All in the United States for a long time. People in the movement have debated and reached consensus about how an improved Medicare for all system ought to be structured. Much of that is embodied in John Conyers’ legislation, HR 676: The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, which has 118 co-sponsors. Senator Sanders and his group, Our Revolution, are raising funds and working to build more support for Improved Medicare for All, but they still need to cooperate with those who have been advocating for this if they want full support.

Fortunately, Senator Sanders has demonstrated that he is responsive to public pressure. He started the year off not intending to introduce Medicare for all legislation, but he received push back and changed his mind. Then he started talking about fixing the ACA and introducing a public option, and there was pushback against that. There has also been pressure about the contents of the bill. When it was learned that there would be co-pays, many organizations, including Physicians for a National Health Program, contacted his office to say that co-pays add more complexity to the system and cause people to delay or avoid necessary health care. His staff reported that co-pays have been removed in the bill except for purchasing drugs, in order to encourage the use of generic drugs.

In the process of winning a single payer healthcare system, the movement for National Improved Medicare for All has the role of being the watchdog to make sure that we create the best system we can. We want this system to work for everyone and to be a system that improves health, a system that the United States can be proud of. This is a role that will be ongoing even after we win because we will have to improve the system and constantly guard against those who would try to privatize it so they can profit.

After meeting with Senator Sanders’ staff, we felt more reassured that his intention is to ultimately create a strong National Improved Medicare for All system. There are many provisions in the bill that are to be applauded – providing care to every person in the United States and offering fairly comprehensive coverage – and a few that we will have to work on – such as including long term care, abolishing investor-owned health facilities and a more rapid transition period. On September 13, if all goes well, the text of the bill will be released and we will assess it.

The People Can Win Improved Medicare for All

All in all, we are in a strong position. The Senate HELP committee hearing showed how out of touch many of our legislators are with the people, who favor Improved Medicare for All or are just yearning for affordable health care no matter what form that takes.

And, we know members of Congress can be moved, some more easily than others. This week the architect of the ACA in Congress, former Senator Max Baucus, who had us arrested with six others in 2009 when we stood up and called for single payer to be included in the debate, joined the choir. Baucus said single payer is the answer, commenting “we’re getting there, it’s going to happen.” We were arrested demanding that he put single payer on the table and he refused, calling for more police instead. Now, more than 100,000 preventable deaths later, he supports it. The ACA was born out of the corruption by healthcare profiteers and everyone involved from Obama to Baucus knew it, and everyone from Alexander to Franken knows that remains true today.

The tide is shifting in the United States. After a century of what Professor David Barton Smith, a health historian calls, “more palatable approaches” that have each “self-destructed,” we are clear that health care is a public service, not a financial profit center. We are ready to do the work to make what was once considered impossible, National Improved Medicare for All, become inevitable. Each week, new support for single payer arises. The other surprise this week was the support of centrist Democrat, Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who explained that his farmer parents never had insurance until they were old enough for Medicare.

Hopefully, more legislators will arrive at the wisdom that, as Professor Smith describes:

The practical mechanics of how to make such a universal health insurance system work are a lot easier than patching together the existing hopelessly fragmented private-public health insurance system. The Medicare program actually does this quite well and the cry of Medicare for all has never been silenced. Indeed, no one has ever objected to their ‘mandated’ coverage under Medicare.

The people have the power to finally make the government do the right thing. No more compromises. No more false solutions. Onward to National Improved Medicare for All.

• First published at Health over Profit