Saturday, August 29, 2009

A writer stumbles toward the connection between Woodstock and Ronald Reagan

This is a solid review of a book by someone who is stumbling upon the insight I have long held about Woodstock, which is that it was the gateway to the 1970s narcissism and apathy, and which led to Ronald Reagan (and on the other side of the big pond, Margaret Thatcher).

Now, if only someone can begin to challenge the Dylan Cult, and realize that Bob Dylan has more in common with Madonna than Woody Guthrie...Dylan shows up on the folk scene in the early Sixties dressed like a troubador who just came from Abercrombie & Fitch rather than someone with any real substance (with Phil Ochs being the real deal Guthrie-like troubador. You want dangerous to the Establishment? That was Phil Ochs, not Dylan. Ronald Reagan could sing most Dylan songs without any irony whatsoever). Then, later in the Sixties, when young people were getting beat up by cops and spit on by construction workers (Ochs, for example, was at the demonstrations against the war at the Democratic Party convention in Chicago in 1968), Dylan ends up in rehab--and then ends up singing "Lay, Lady, Lay/Lay Across My Big Brass Bed..."

In the 1970s, Dylan becomes a Jesus freak, then later renounces that, and decides to have his son's Bar Mitzvah in Israel. Isn't this like Madonna going from suggestive uses of a crucifix to becoming a Kabbalist?

You want a soundtrack from the Sixties and early 1970s from a real troubadour of that era who was not as overtly political? Try Paul Simon. The Dylan Cultists won't allow that, though, because, to them, Paul Simon just isn't as cool as Dylan, and not a martyr like Ochs. He didn't get bent out of shape on drugs. And his bad marriages were rather middle class and banal. And heck, Simon was not personally cool enough for Joan Baez to have sex with him...Plus, Simon didn't try out different religions like they were soda pop.

Oh but hold the sarcasm, you cry. What about the songs? You mean I'm supposed to get excited about the fact that Dylan wrote about six songs that mattered? Take whatever Dylan songs you want and compare them to Paul Simon's work of the same period.

"Mr. Tamborine Man"? "Sounds of Silence."

"Blowing in the Wind"? "I am a Rock."

I can keep going with Simon. "Homeward Bound." "The Boxer." "Bridge Over Troubled Water." "Richard Cory." "America." And on and on. And for a second act, the Dylan Cult can have "Blood on the Tracks." I'll take "Graceland" every single day of the week.

Also, please don't get me started on Phil Ochs' incredible output during the period of 1962-1969.*

Meanwhile, historians will have to untangle what is known as the "Sixties," but Ms. Diski's book at least points us in the proper direction...Yet somehow, I doubt most people will really understand the true nature of the Sixties, and its true limitations and unintended ironies, until we Baby Boomers are drooling in dementia and the Dylan Cult is vanquished.

As I have said to my son, born in the 1990s, "When the last of us Baby Boomers dies, have a party. Finally, you'll be able to say to yourselves, 'We've had enough of those narcissistic assholes!'"

Perhaps the only movement of the Sixties worth emulating is the Civil Rights Movement from 1955-1968. That is where there was true heroism, true grit and determination and ultimately true humanity. Yes, the movement had its angry side, but even the anger had dignity for the most part.

* John Lennon understood what a phony Dylan turned out to be, especially compared to Ochs. Compare this video where Lennon pokes fun at Dylan and this one where Lennon shows respect for Ochs. But lest one think I am blinded with love for Ochs, it is important to note Ochs had a Fifties' view regarding females, much like lots of other Sixties guys. It is that sexism which made the feminist movement necessary, but that is a topic for another day (though Barbara Ehrenreich's work is a good place to start for that understanding).

Personal note: Man, I've been angry these days...And yet, I just started on a new medication that is actually helping solve my atrial fibrillation for the first time in over 20 years. I think I'm angry because, unlike 50 million other Americans, I know I have good health insurance, due to my working for a law firm, and am able to afford a PPO plan, rather than an HMO plan. And ironically, some of those underinsured and uninsured are screaming at Obama for supposedly being a Nazi, simply because Obama wants more Americans to have health insurance. Why are they not going to Bush's or Cheney's house to protest real Nazi-like conduct of promoting torture? We should not have to argue about being against torture, and we should not have to argue about providing increased access to medical insurance, but here we are. Worse, the greedy interests, starting with Big Pharma and medical insurance companies, are using the stupids to defeat health insurance reform, and together they are winning...Sigh.

Man, I hate the Dylan Cult...


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Lion has left the building...

Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy died tonight. When his brain cancer diagnosis became public in May 2008, I wrote this post.

Ted Kennedy was a man with flaws, not the least of which was the incident at Chappaquiddick. The best book on that subject is hands-down, Robert Sherrill's "The Last Kennedy" (1976), by the way.

But I think we should honor Ted Kennedy this evening with the words he spoke at his brother Robert Kennedy's funeral in June 1968. At one point in the speech, he spoke of Robert, who we Americans knew as "Bobby," writing about their father. Ted noted the words really applied to Bobby. Well, here are the words, and it is clear, over the decades since 1968, the words also apply to Ted Kennedy himself:

A few years back, Robert Kennedy wrote some words about his own father which expresses the way we in his family felt about him. He said of what his father meant to him, and I quote: "What it really all adds up to is love -- not love as it is described with such facility in popular magazines, but the kind of love that is affection and respect, order and encouragement, and support. Our awareness of this was an incalculable source of strength, and because real love is something unselfish and involves sacrifice and giving, we could not help but profit from it." And he continued, "Beneath it all, he has tried to engender a social conscience. There were wrongs which needed attention. There were people who were poor and needed help. And we have a responsibility to them and to this country. Through no virtues and accomplishments of our own, we have been fortunate enough to be born in the United States under the most comfortable conditions. We, therefore, have a responsibility to others who are less well off."


My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

Rest in peace, Senator Kennedy.


Because we are living in what may be described as an ugly, anti-Zen moment, I feel forced to add that Senators Hatch and McCain are liars when they say that if Ted Kennedy was still in the Senate, they'd have negotiated a deal on health care reform with him. In truth, they and their fellow Republican leaders have no intent to enact any health care reform that would actually help anyone but private for-profit insurance companies. Again, it is sad to say, but say it we must.

ADDENDUM: The Boston Globe has a beautiful sketch with photos and podcasts of Ted Kennedy's life.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Meet the new boss...same as the old boss

That old song written by Pete Townsend is a cliche now, but like so many cliches, it continues to be relevant.

Obama has re-appointed Bernanke to a second term as head of the Federal Reserve Board. This is so disgusting that I can't even describe how angry I am at this moment.

Obama proves once again, as he has with his folded tent approach to health insurance reform, that he is simply Bill Clinton with a better marriage. Bernanke was the presiding overseer of the most massive giveaway of public funds for private financiers in the past two centuries. Heck, Ronald Wilson Reagan (Mr. 666) would have applauded Obama's supply-side economics applied to a direct bailout of the wealthiest economic elite. Just as Reagan (and Bush II) gave money to the most wealthy people with the promise they'd invest in American industry and businesses--which they didn't--Obama gave a trillion dollars to bankers and financiers with the promise that they'd lend the money to small businesses and even other large businesses--which they didn't, again. The only direct bailout was Cash for Clunkers, and that worked in saving car dealerships and car companies at least for now...

And as for those moronic nutjobs who continue to think Obama is some Commie-Kenyan-Muslim, let me say in my anger and despair that if you really want to do something good for our country, take those guns you bring to the health insurance forums and blow your own god-damned brains out--and save our nation from degenerating into a complete state of stupid.

Obama is what I saw in him almost three years ago: A smart banker, at least compared to McCain, Bush and the rest of the Republican leaders, who are stupid bankers.*

* I actually had some hope last fall that Obama the smart banker would find his inner FDR. He hasn't. He just found his inner Clinton.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ignacio Silone: Deserving to be read, and read again

Here is a wonderful review in today's (August 23, 2009) NY Times of a new biography of Ignacio Silone, several of whose books I have read and loved. I have read "Fontamara," "Bread & Wine," "The Seed Beneath the Snow," "The Secret of Luca," "A Handful of Blackberries," "The Fox and the Camillas." I have not read, but would love to read "School for Dictators," and there are a couple of others. Silone is one of those writers whom I would love to read everything he has written.

The reviewer compares Silone to Arthur Koestler, which is simply not apt. A more accurate comparision is to Victor Serge. Silone and Serge wrote multiple novels that tell an overarching story of the period of history starting at the dawn of the 20th Century through World War II--and beyond. They were both somewhat similar to Balzac in this regard. Both Silone and Serge were heavily involved in Communist Party matters at the start of the Soviet Union, but relatively quickly ran afoul of the Stalinist terror machine. Both became anti-Stalinist leftists who had a strong literary sense, and, in their novels, gave voice even to their intellectual and physical enemies on the Left and Right.

The reviewer also compares Silone with other writers, including Graham Greene. Greene is closer in sensibility to both Serge and Silone, because Greene understood the dynamic and irony in the relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed. However much I love Greene (and I have read all of his novels!), he and Koestler were, in their lives, players--people who knew how to maneuver in society's higher circles. Silone and Serge were less successful in that regard, with Serge even far less successful. There is a sense of kindness and even pity, and also a sense of hope, struggling within Serge and Silone that makes them so compelling in a time when our own nation is in decline.

As for literary style, the reviewer is wrong to denigrate Silone's prose or style. Any discerning reader today would instantly recognize Silone as a superior writer, especially compared to Koestler or most modern writers.

While I, a fan of Silone, will hunt down the biography, I urge those who do not know Silone to track down a copy of "Bread & Wine."


Saturday, August 22, 2009

I'm glad someone noted that Novak was a slanderer of I.F. Stone...

When Bob Novak finally went to Hell, I thought immediately I should talk about his slander against I.F. Stone. Then, other things intruded and frankly, I started to feel that it was too ghoulish.

Nonetheless, I am ultimately glad to see this post making the point about Novak's slander of I.F. Stone--and then giving Novak the Novak treatment.

ADDENDUM: Please note my posts defending Stone here (which contains other posts of a longer and detailed nature), and this discussion within a larger discussion of book reviews.

Poli Sci Prof Shugart analyzes the unintended effects of "presidentialism"

Matthew Shugart, a political scientist at UC San Diego with whom I've become acquainted, has a new book he co-authored regarding the way the very concept of a president affects party politics and tends to "personalize" politics. At least that is what I am gleaning from a quick skim of the volume. Assuming I have accurately summarized this, the book is analyzing the institutional behavoir and challenges presented in our non-parliamentary system, among other systems, in a fascinating way.

I have long believed a multi-party parliamentary system would have a salutary effect on our political discourse by providing a platform for a Labor and Libertarian sort of politics (Although I'm definitely settling for instant run offs as an initial compromise!). In the US, as Gore Vidal (among others) have noted, we have only one party: The Property Party, with the two wings called Democratic and Republican. That the Republicans have become the Crazy Party does not appear to have undermined the Propertied Class' interests to any significant extent.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Anthony Weiner makes his case for Medicare for all

Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) pulverizes Joe Scarborough, and helps us understand the controversy over health insurance should not be about whether to have a "public option." The argument, said Weiner, should be "Why have private insurance companies at all?" In Congressman Weiner's words,"What value do the insurance companies bring?"

Scarborough is left speechless and sputtering, but at least had the decency to later admit he was speechless.

Scarborough's sputtering is simliar to when people sometimes say to me, "Well, that's socialism!" when I discuss Medicare for all. Over the years, I have learned to answer, smiling of course: "Is that the end of your argument, or the beginning?"

Like Scarborough, they are also stunned by that response--more because so many people can't even understand, at least at first, how ridiculous it is to say something is "socialist" as if that was an argument.

Besides Congressman Weiner, it's been a bit of a pushback week, with Barney Frank (D-MA) flicking away a LaRouchite, and Nancy Pelosi starting to develop a spine.

Perhaps there will be health insurance reform that helps millions of Americans after all...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Time to end the filibuster...

It's worth the risk is how Thomas Geoghegan sees it, and I agree.

The Blue Dog Democrats are simply traitors to Democratic Party principles. The only way to stop them is to get rid of the filibuster. There are 51 decent Democrats in the Senate. It's time for them to act.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Boycotting Whole Foods: An idea whose time has come

As most readers may already know, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey penned a ridiculous editorial attacking the already watered-down health insurance proposals of President Obama. I have joined with others in saying it is time to boycott Whole Foods.

I have now written to Whole Foods through its website to let them know I am boycotting Whole Foods because of Mackey's editorial. I reprint the note I wrote and add links for the reader:

It was always a tough thing for me to support Whole Foods when its leader was so ridiculously anti-union. However, happy workers at Whole Foods and its wonderful selection (though pricey) overwhelmed that concern.

Now, I simply cannot abide going to Whole Foods and will boycott it. John Mackey has no clue what he is talking about with reference to Obama's slight reforms in health insurance access and procurement. If Mackey had an ounce of business sense on this issue, he'd be for Medicare for all, not spouting stuff that sounds like he just stepped out (of) an Ayn Rand Fan Club meeting. The executives at Toyota who built a new plant in Canada a couple of years ago rather than build one in Alabama said a major reason for their decision was not having to deal with the hodge-podge private for profit system of health insurance in America.

No more Whole Foods for me, and my wife is with me on this too. We are boycotting Whole Foods.

Additional comment: Note in Mackey's op-ed he thinks there is a major problem with the Social Security program. Here, he suffers from the ignornance of the Beltway elite.

Final thought: Matt Yglesias has it right about why a boycott is properly sought against Whole Foods. And bravo to Mark Kleiman, too!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dick Cheney must support Hamas since Hamas is against Al Queda, too

This is an interesting development. If we thought Hamas represented the extreme in Israel and Gaza, I guess we're wrong. Al Queda seems to have developed a foothold in the Gaza area, and now Hamas is fighting Al Queda.

The Al Queda guys are Islamic fundamentalists who want a pan-Arabic federation, not simply a Palestinian nation.

I found it interesting that Hamas went into a mosque to get these guys. Next time Israel does the same, I wonder if anyone will remember that?

Let's see now. Fatah wants to liquidate Hamas, and now Hamas wants to liquidate Al Queda. This is like the more violent version of the Orthodox Jews in Israel wanting to go after all the Reform, Conservative and secular Jews of Israel.

I think if peace ever breaks out amongst Palestinians and Jews in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, I wonder if we'll see fighting break out within those two groups.

Don't ya just love the organized religions that honor the Sky God? We gotta do better, folks. And I say that as a president of a Conservative Jewish synagogue.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What a surprise: The Israel Uber Alles crowd are wrong about Mary Robinson

Here is a Jewish Telegraph Agency blog post that quotes President Clinton's US representative to the UN Human Rights Commission and others defending Mary Robinson. Ms. Robinson, a former UN leader and former president of Ireland, received a medal of freedom from President Obama today, along with various other folks. Here is another post quoting from a group of prominent Jews and Israelis defending Robinson.

Ms. Robinson has been denounced for years as soft on anti-Semitism, and admittedly, I had never read anything really defending her--before today. And what I now have read makes me recognize once again how the Israel Uber Alles crowd skews reality and engages in character assassination to a disgusting degree.

Stupid is as libertarian does...

Next time someone wants to whine at you about big government liberals and socialists, let them deal with this whine...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Kevin Starr on the state of the State of California

Kevin Starr, the preeminent historian on the West Coast, and the single greatest historian of the State of California, is interviewed here regarding his new book, "Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance, 1950-1963".

The book provides an excellent and often exciting understanding of the architectural, geographical, historical, political and cultural history of California. Not merely limited to the years in the title, Starr helps us understand the threads and currents that led to and through those years.

My only substantive critique of Starr's analysis (and I am more than halfway through the book) is Starr's penchant for saying "the center held" and that the various governors in this period of 1950-1963 were "centrist." He does this in the interview, too, which may confuse some viewers. I must disagree with Starr's usage of the terms "center" and "centrist" because, if we look at the economic policies pursued by the governors of that era (Earl Warren, Goodwin Knight, Pat Brown and yes, even Ronald Reagan--who became governor in 1967), we see they were not "centrist" as we would define that term today. Each of these governors, again including Reagan, would be seen as hard core economic leftists if they were to attempt to pursue their policies today. And three of the four governors from that era were Republican!

Starr knows this as he describes how each of these governors freely and significantly raised taxes, built water and highway systems with public-private funding, and made higher education a major priority both in spending and expansion of opportunity. Let's contrast that to today, where the Republican Party in CA has, as it has elsewhere in our nation, degenerated into a party that says "no" to anything salutary in terms of public policy for regular folks or our environment, and has a cult-ish devotion to income tax cuts that is harmful to the commonweal--with the term "commonweal" being almost entirely banished from 21st Century political discourse. The 21st Century Republican Party, in fact, stands against the entire idea of public policy, which makes it impossible for true centrists in Sacramento or Washington, DC to deal with them the way one dealt even with a then-right wing Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ).

If one simply substitutes "progressive" or "liberal" for "center" when one reads the book, the policies of these four governors are more easily understood for 21st Century readers. Perhaps one day the nomenclature Starr used will once again be fully accurate to describe those governors, who called themselves, in their own time, "centrist." Still, Starr's book contains a brilliant explanation and perspective that spans decades and even a century, and forms a deeply thoughtful history that resonates and expands our understanding of American history.

If you wish to begin this series of California history books, I suggest you start at the beginning, which is Starr's "Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915." While I continue to love this newest volume, it occurs to me as I read it that Starr is presuming some prior understanding of California history with the amount of names and events that are cited on each page. The first volume, more than any other, gives one the basis to enjoy this latest, outstanding feast Starr has provided to us. Of the all the Starr California history books I've read thus far, this latest volume is near or at the top.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Please say this isn't true...

Robert Reich explains. So does William Greider in The Nation.

I had seen the article in the LA Times last week, but thought I then read there was no deal.

Sigh. Obama is just Bill Clinton with a better marriage...

ADDENDUM: Here is Yahoo!'s Buzz about this issue. As I said in the post title, please say this isn't true, Mr. President...

Sunday Morning Review of Book Reviews--August 9, 2009

The NY Times Sunday Book Review is on fire today!

First up, there is a nice, succinct review of Douglas Brinkley's magesterial tome about Teddy Roosevelt's environmentalism, and its largely glorious impact upon our nation. It should be required reading for future Republican leaders far more than most Democrats.

There's also a solid review of a couple of books, and first hand recollection of Woodstock from noted NY Times columnist, Gail Collins. Collins is often only insightful when standing next to Maureen Dowd, but the "Woodstock generation" is Ms. Collins', after all. I love the story about Pete Townsend "bonking" his guitar on the head of that shameless self-promoter, Abbie Hoffman, for example--even if Hoffman was trying to say something important about a man who had been imprisoned for narcotics abuse when he was really being prosecuted for political heresy.

But what Collins and most of her brothers and sisters of that era don't get is that Woodstock is not as much part of the 1960s in terms of political history, but is really the gate that opened to the 1970s. Woodstock was about partying. It was about having sex, taking drugs and just screwing off. Compare it to the teach-ins of the mid-1960s where people learned why America's war against Vietnam was wrong, and the differences become very apparent. At Woodstock, it was "I don't wanna go to war so I can stay home and get high." Many of the Woodstock generation ended up at--or really pining to get into--Studio 54 or worse, Plato's Retreat, and we can now begin to see how Woodstock had far more in common with those places than UC Berkeley's teach ins. Woodstock is ultimately about narcissism and apathy far more than "rebellion."

And for personal reminicences, starting in the late 1980s, my wife and I became friendly with the parents of one of the Woodstock promoters, Artie Kornfeld. The parents were wonderful union lefties (especially his mom, Shirley, who protested Truman's Cold War policies and was a freedom rider in the 1960s). Artie himself was a musical- promoting genius--the youngest executive at Capitol Records in the mid-1960s--who was also a casualty of the spread and use of narcotics. He lost his first wife and his daughter to drugs in the 1980s. Artie's backstory is here. But again, I don't share the nostalgia about Woodstock that others do. Yes, I like some of the bands, starting with the Who, but Woodstock remains for me the gateway to the nadir of the political culture of the 1970s, which was based upon narcissism and apathy.

Again, however, today's NY Times Book Review section is amazing. There are reviews concerning new books about the financial meltdown, with the first by Paul Krguman attacking his own profession's role in creating the financial edifice which collapsed in 2008, and this one, which ends up correctly castigating Alan Greenspan as emblematic of the stupid libertarian (is that redundant?) view about how nations economically develop or are maintained.

And here is an interesting review of a book that helps us realize something Stephen Jay Gould told us at least indirectly in so many essays, which is that we do our very young children an injustice if we assume they can't morally reason. I think the case is overstated, as children can often be manipulated into admitting fictions, but the research into this area is both worthy and helpful to how we human beings deal with each other, and with other animals on the planet.

Here too is a great review of a book that highlights the cultural importance of Mad magazine, though I am somewhat surprised the reviewer dances around the fact that Mad magazine played the role of an American samizdat in the repressive Red Scare atmosphere of much of the 1950s. It's there, just not bluntly stated in a way I would have expected. I was very pleased, however, that the reviewer discussed in some detail the great Paul Krassner, who is that rare individual who "lived" the 1950s through the 1970s, and has his footprints firmly embedded throughout that overall era we may generally call "the post-World War II era." He may or may not agree with my Woodstock analysis, but that's okay either way. He is a veteran of the era and my dispute is less with him than with how posterity sees that era.

And finally, here is a smart, though less than fully positive review of what may well be an important novel of modern England by Monica Ali. It is heartening to see a young novelist dare to tackle larger social issues rather than stare at her navel in that Updike-ian sort of way...Having read the excerpt from the opening chapter online at the NY Times book review, her novel seems stronger than perhaps the reviewer believes it to be. His attack is that her novel is "meandering," which may ultimately be correct. But I sense that he is wrong in that opinion.

Oh well. Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Thomas Friedman gets it...

I have had my disputes with Friedman over the years, particularly his CEO-centric view of trade agreements. On Israel, too, I think his all too conventional elite wisdom veered toward neo-con land--but fortunately he only stayed for a visit.

Here, Friedman recognizes the truth about how previous Israeli leaders played previous US leaders with regard to the settlements in the territories.

I guess he's becoming another self-hating Jew, eh, Bibi?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Health insurance debate: Making us sick with sarcasm

I am glad to have read Jonathan Alter's and Uwe Reinhardt's sarcastic articles these past 24 hours. They capture, with sarcasm, my anger at the corporate corrupted Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and their compliant corporate media who call these corrupted souls "moderates."

We are so past this argument, and yet we are still somehow arguing. We continue to have to swat down the same, lame attacks, such as government can't do anything right, there are long lines in Canada and elsewhere, etc. Just tell me how or why the conservatives come into power in these places where there is a national health insurance system and they don't repeal or completely undermine the "gummit" plans for the "good" of private enterprise.

And we have to endure lectures on the glories of the "free market" when the purpose of private insurance companies is to make a profit by not providing you with coverage and paying their executives and salespeople exhorbitant wages and stock options; when the private insurers' administrative costs are 10 times that of Medicare--and we still have tens of millions without any insurance, and more than tens of millions with inadequate insurance. Our rural areas are particularly in dire straits (does anyone compare rural Canada and rural America in terms of health care access and insurance?).

I'd give more links to my statements, but I'm so tired of having to prove the same points over and over for the past several decades. If those who oppose Medicare for all still don't get it, I don't know how they ever will. And, please, save me the horror stories from Canada and elsewhere. Those nations have a health record for every single person, while our horror stories are not chronicled by the very nature of our hodge-podge private based system (except for seniors, the very poor and the military personnel).

One particularly ridiculous moment this week was how the corporate media played Obama's doctor's opinion of the health care debate. The other day, the headline on the front page of the Yahoo! site was "Obama's doctor opposes Obama's health care plan" as if the doctor was agreeing with Orrin Hatch (R-UT) or Max Baucus (D, really R-MT). It turns out the doctor was supporting Medicare for all. Imagine that. See;, among others for similarly misleading headlines. The structure of corporate media defines Obama as the outer limits of leftist politics when, before the propaganda machine began in earnest, most Americans supported Medicare for all. For the effects of the propaganda, look no further than seniors--who live under government health insurance--who are worried that the government will take over health care if the incremental ObamaCare passes. Our grandparents need to turn off the goddamned television news and talk shows like Bill O'Reilly (65 plus age demographic). I'll take their plan and they can have my Blue Cross!

Single pay/Medicare for all makes the most sense. It's less administratively costly. It covers every American citizen. It simplifies paperwork for doctors--less doctors' insurance-confirming assistants and more nurses. It frees up Americans who, due to their pre-existing health conditions, are tied to jobs because of private health benefits. And did I mention that every other government that has national health insurance spends less than we do on health care as a percentage of their gross national or domestic income? Again, it's time. But time slips away again...and we're supposed to jump for joy at the possibility of some additional hodge to the podge...As I say, frustrating.


ADDENDUM: Tim Noah is a brave one, still willing to engage in arguments on this issue. See this article about the corrosive effect of market forces on the medical profession (which links to the must-read New Yorker article I had blogged on a few weeks back), and this answer to those who say "We're Americans, and we simply can't behave like those Canadians--they're French, right?"

ADDENDUM II: Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) engages in outstanding sarcasm against Republicans and others who say no to publicly funded and operated health insurance.

Another opportunity for peace negotiations--which Netanyahu will likely ignore

Here is the latest statement from Hamas leader Khaled Meshal where he expressly and publicly states Hamas will accept the 1967 borders for the formal creation of a Palestinian state. He won't, however, expressly state Hamas would recognize Israel. That, however, is simply giving him protection while he hopes for direct or indirect negotiations with Israel.

Here is a good news/bad news article concerning obviously controlled-leaked Fatah Party report. It seems worse than it is because the article does not really give the context, which is that despite no terrorist activity by Fatah in the West Bank, Israeli leaders continue to push for more settlement building. The good news is the Fatah Party is actually considering civil disobedience. What would be a mistake for them is to endorse any violence against settlers because the violence would then become the story, and invite disproportionate responses from the Netanyahu government.

Just imagine if the Israeli Prime Minister publicly said, "We will freeze settlement building. We will speak with Hamas directly or indirectly. We will work to establish a lasting peace in Gaza and the West Bank." If these statements were made today, there would truly be an excellent chance for such a peace.

The Israeli government's petulant defiance of world opinion and expanding the building of settlements has led the Saudis to recognize Israeli leadership is not interested in peace. As for the suspended negotiations with Syria, I tend to be more hawkish. Israel should hold the part of the Golan where it gets its water. The Golan may be given back eventually, but it must remain de-militarized. Still, both the hawks and doves inside Israel have failed to see that peace with Palestinians would enhance Israeli leaders' negotiating position with Syria. If peace is reached with Palestinians, the world can focus more directly on Iran's ambitions, and pressure Syria to reach an accommodation with Israel.

Thus, settlement building is not merely an impediment for peace with Palestinians. The continued expansive settlement building represents a grave strategic diplomatic mistake on the part of Israel. This article, entitled "Settlers undermining legitimacy of Israel's existence," (Haaretz, July 30, 2009) is pretty damned powerful--and something we won't read in U.S. corporate media, either. And Reform Rabbi Eric Yoffe seems to agree with me about settlement building (with me being a president of a Conservative synagogue!).

The beat goes on, but the concern I have is that Netanyahu's response to all the peace feelers from Palestinians will be to bomb Iran. Netanyahu needs to find his inner Nixon or Reagan...Somehow, I am not optimistic about that right now.