Saturday, January 23, 2010

Quote of the Week: Thomas Jefferson on Corporate Power

“I hope we shall...crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country.”
--Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan, November 12, 1816

(Thanks to Bina for the reminder; perfect.)

On-The-Run “Advice” From Cowardly Democrats as they Dive for the Tall Grass

This one's laughable coming from Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut. The Senator said Democrats should “take a breather for a month, six weeks” so Congress can regroup after Senate Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority in Tuesday’s Massachusetts election.

This is the same senator who lamented the lack of comity in the Senate in an oblique criticism of the feisty new Democratic members of Congress: Al Franken, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Alan Grayson.

Isn't it curious that less than a month after Dodd announced (at the urging of the White House) he would not seek reelection, he is first in line in the Democratic Party to raise the white flag of surrender in the form of “advice” to his Party colleagues? Is the Senator regretful and/or resentful that he may have taken one for the team prematurely?

A major reason Democrats are in this position is that they waited too long already to pass healthcare, without strong presidential leadership. The longer Democrats wait, the dimmer their prospects for passage of a healthcare bill become. And if they do not pass some form of healthcare, bye-bye majorities because the base is royally pissed.

Who knows, perhaps Mr. Dodd is auditioning for prospective corporate clients once he becomes a lobbyist. Whatever the case, his comments are unwelcome. The best thing a lame duck like Chris Dodd can do (as Al Franken would say) is to sit down and shut the fuck up.

Wacky Weekly Wrapup

Suggestions for President Obama concerning the State of the Union speech:

This is a unique opportunity to publicly bitch-slap the five conservative Supreme Court Justices, as they sit before you, for their scathingly undemocratic decision opening the floodgates to the corporate takeover of our nation. Take names, Mr. President. You’re a Constitutional scholar. Knock down their arguments. Make Roberts squirm.

When the Judicial branch of the federal government so overreaches its authority as to threaten the very foundations of the state and its political institutions, it’s your solemn responsibility to push back, and push back hard. There is no better stage than the State of the Union, where you will have the Justices, the Congress, and the nation as a captive audience.

It would be a master stroke and strike a blow for democracy. Sadly, Mr. President, I rate the chances of it happening no better than 50-50. Such is the current state of disenchantment within your progressive base.

Healthcare options for Democrats now that the fictitious supermajority is no longer an excuse for reactionary hacks from small states to hijack and exploit the debate:

The general consensus is there are three options left to Democrats:
1. Do nothing.

2. Work cooperatively with Brown-Palin-McCain-Lieberman-Vitter-De Mint-Bachmann-Grassley-Snowe-Enzi-Hatch-Coburn-Baehner-McConnell Republicans to craft a bipartisan “scaled back” bill on one solitary page that Rham “the Appeaser” (a.k.a “Little Neville” in White House circles) Emanuel can frantically wave in his hand, declaring “we have healthcare in our time!”

3. Tell House Democrats to hold their noses, pass the seriously flawed Senate bill (with some good things), and we can fix it later in reconcilation.
But there is also a fourth option. Here it is, it’s very simple and all things devolve from it:
Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown, said on arriving in Washington:

“I'm a history buff. I love the Museum of Natural History.”

Not a misstatement. Come to think of it, to Republicans, natural history -– Cro-Magnons, the missing link, survival of the fittest, the whole “social” Darwinism thing –- is their kind of history.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Radicalism of the U.S. Supreme Court

It began with a coup d’etat: Bush v. Gore, in which the Court intervened to halt the Florida recount arguing that it was a violation of the Equal Protection clause and handing George W. Bush the election. That, by itself, was one of the most glaring examples of judicial activism of the kind liberals are always accused of but that conservatives like to practice.

It ends with a stunning decision reversing established law and electoral politics protections dating back to when Teddy Roosevelt warned of “malefactors of great wealth.” Or rather, the beginning of a new phase in which corporations, deemed to be persons with First Amendment rights of free speech, can freely spend as much as they like in support of candidates for president or Congress.

There is no group –- not the unions, not the Sierra club, not netroots activists such as MoveOn –- that has the overwhelming purchasing power of the corporations. We have seen it in action already, working its will in the halls of Congress, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce boasting of its power to “influence” the Massachusetts Senate race with its millions. Thanks to SCOTUS the corporations no longer need to find creative ways to sidestep electoral laws. Their capacity to buy elections and own politicians is now guaranteed.

If 2009 was the year of the lobbyist, 2010 looms as the year democracy ended in America.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Beam Me Up, Scotty: Shape Shifting Teabagger Offers His Daughters

It has begun. Scott Brown ran a classic stealth campaign. You'd be hard-pressed to find the word “Republican” in any of his literature. His website colors are blue, the traditional Democratic colors. And, in a most outrageous sleight-of-hand, he wrapped himself in JFK morphing into his own image in a TV ad. Have I mentioned yet this dude is a misogynistic Teabagger? This is what passes for right wing humor: tasteless, sexist, gross, demeaning –- anything but funny.

Even Glenn Beck was alarmed: “I want a chastity belt on this man. I want his every move watched in Washington. I don’t trust this guy . . . This one could end with a dead intern. I’m just saying, it could end with a dead intern.” Hmm. Okay, Beck's certifiably insane. On the other hand, you never know, just 'cause you're crazy doesn't mean you don't have a point.

There are less than 34 months remaining in this bastard’s term. Time enough to draft Ted Kennedy Jr. to take this pretender on and take back his dad’s seat, FOR THE PEOPLE. What a contrast: Young Mr. Kennedy –- so much like his dad –- has what it takes, in spades:


And to the Massachusetts voters, especially the women, who cast your ballots for Brown: SHAME ON YOU.

Quote of the Day: An Abdication of Responsibility

The President's steadfast refusal to acknowledge that we have a two-party system, his insistence on making destructive concessions to the same party voters he had sent packing twice in a row in the name of "bipartisanship," and his refusal ever to utter the words "I am a Democrat" and to articulate what that means, are not among his virtues. We have competing ideas in a democracy -- and hence competing parties -- for a reason. To paper them over and pretend they do not exist, particularly when the ideology of one of the parties has proven so devastating to the lives of everyday Americans, is not a virtue. It is an abdication of responsibility.

Drew Westen, political psychologist and neuroscientist, Emory University (in the Huffington Post)

Memo To the Democratic Party: From your LEADER Harry Truman

The first thing I will say about the Republican Party, believe it or not, is an expression of gratitude. I want to thank them for the way they help the Democrats win elections. Under the liberal policies of the Democratic administration, our country has grown strong and prosperous. And this has been true for such a long time now that people tend to forget what things were like under the Republicans. They criticize the mistakes the Democrats make, but they take for granted all the benefits we have brought them.

You can always count on the Republicans, in an election year, to remind the people of what the Republican Party really stands for. You can always count on them to make it perfectly clear before the campaign is over that the Republican Party is the party of big business, and that they would like to turn the country back to the big corporations and the big bankers in New York to run it as they see fit.

Just leave them alone, and the Republicans will manage to scare the daylights out of the farmer and the wage earner and the average American citizen. They always do that.

This year they are at it again. The Republicans think they have been so successful with their campaign of smears and character assassination that they have the Democrats on the run. And they just can't restrain themselves enough to hide their true colors until after the election.

[T]he old Republican leopard hasn't changed a single spot. It ought to serve as a big, glaring danger sign to the voters of this country of what to expect if they turn the administration of the country over to the Republicans who are now in control of that party.

The main body of the Republican leaders are doing just what they do every election year. They are making it good and plain to the American people that so far as domestic policies are concerned, the Republican Party is the party of reaction and the party of special privilege--just as I proved in 1948, and the people believed me; and they will yet.

The first rule in my book is that we have to stick by the liberal principles of the Democratic Party. We are not going to get anywhere by trimming or appeasing. And we don't need to try it.

The record the Democratic Party has made in the last 20 years is the greatest political asset any party ever had in the history of the world. We would be foolish to throw it away. There is nothing our enemies would like better and nothing that would do more to help them win an election.

I've seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the fair Deal, and says he really doesn't believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don't want a phony Democrat. If it's a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don't want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign.

But when a Democratic candidate goes out and explains what the New Deal and fair Deal really are--when he stands up like a man and puts the issues before the people--then Democrats can win, even in places where they have never won before. It has been proven time and again.

We are getting a lot of suggestions to the effect that we ought to water down our platform and abandon parts of our program. These, my friends, are Trojan horse suggestions. I have been in politics for over 30 years, and I know what I am talking about, and I believe I know something about the business. One thing I am sure of: never, never throw away a winning program. This is so elementary that I suspect the people handing out this advice are not really well-wishers of the Democratic Party.

- President ”Give ‘Em Hell!” Harry S. Truman, in a speech to the ADA, 1952

Five Reasons Why Ted Kennedy's Senate Seat Went to a Teabagger Troglodyte

This is my post-mortem of the election results in Massachusetts. Five is an arbitrary number in no particular order of importance. The reasons for the Democrats losing the Massachusetts Senate seat to a right wing “Tea Party” mysoginistic Republican could number two, or seven, or ten or more. Please feel free to contribute your views.
1. Timidity: Jon Stewart had one of his famous on-air coniptions when he wondered why George W. Bush and the Republicans in Congress could do any “fucking” thing they wanted with 50 votes, but somehow anything shy of 61 votes required endless negotiations, and cave-in compromises on national legislation for 300 million Americans to senators who represent states with less that 2 million people at the bottom, and 5 million at the top -- all of whom could comfortably fit inside New York City, or LA, with plenty of uninsured Americans to spare. Think on this: The Republican Party hasn't had 60 votes in the Senate since 1923!

2. Capitulation: President Obama called it bipartisanship. Progressives (this blog) rightly criticized the President for surrendering the progressive Democratic agenda to Republican reactionaries Chuck Grassley, Olympia Snowe (“I really like Olympia Snowe,” said President Obama in a moment of supreme naiveté), and John McCain, among others (DINOs Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Evan Bayh, and of course “Traitor” Joe Lieberman). How many times can you reach out to reactionary Republicans and Democrats only to get your arm chewed out? Definition of insanity: Repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Perhaps the President conflated progressives and the right. Progressives accepted the craven compromises of Rham Emanuel with reactionaries so often because we are tolerant and pragmatic. We went along with the proposition that one-half loaf is better than none; but not because we're cut from the same cloth as the right. Progressives (this blog) incessantly pleaded with President Obama not to waste his time reaching out to conservatives; but the President had a surprising tin ear. He wouldn't listen.

3. Hubris: Some commentators refer to the Senate as housing 100 presidents. It's more like 47 tin-pot despots and dictators with the power and authority to bring government to a standstill. When Senate “rules,” specifically the filibuster, are used to undermine democratic government and majority rule, as if it were nothing but a sporting match, then it’s time to change the Senate rules. When the Constitution permits the election of a president with millions of fewer votes than the losing candidate -- like the ultimate hackable Diebold machine -- then it’s time to change the Constitution. It’s been done several times before. When first enacted the Constitution limited elections to white male property owners. (Astro-turf corporate Tea Party owners are no doubt OK with that.)

4. Complacency and arrogance: This applies both to the Massachusetts and national Democratic Party. Ted Kennedy never took the voters for granted. He never felt he could just sit on his lead and not work for every single vote. He had the common touch, cared about his constituents, and showed through tireless campaigning and in the Senate that he would work hard for them. It's amazing how few otherwise honest politicians fail to grasp this. Unlike Martha Coakley who disdained such retail campaigning, Teddy loved pumping hands outside Fenway Park. Coakley may be a good AG, but she will go down as one of the worst campaigners in Massachusetts -- and American -- history.

5. Deserting the dance partner who brung you here in the middle of the ballroom floor: Also called “the Rham Emanuelization of the Democratic Party” (Thom Hartmann, progressive radio commentator). There is a debate in the liberal community between those who argue for incrementalism and including Blue Dog Democrats in the governing majority, and those who say the progressives that elected the President should determine the Democratic agenda, not the Blue Dogs. Jonathan Alter, journalist and FDR historian, argues for incrementalism and big tent inclusion. Firebrand film maker Michael Moore and liberal talk show host Ed Schultz are among those pressing full steam ahead with the progressive agenda, the Blue Dogs be damned.
Jonathan points to Social Security as an example of transformative social legislation that became what it is today -- a robust social safety net for retired seniors -- over decades of incremental improvements. He notes that when Social Security was first adopted it excluded entire classes of people and did not provide such benefits as disability. His conclusion is that Democrats should take what the Blue Dogs will accept on healthcare reform as a foundation that can be improved upon in the coming years and decades.

Michael and Ed argue that the party that decisively won the last two election cycles (the third is in November of 2010; special elections do not count as cycles) has earned the right and received a mandate from the electorate to push through the agenda on which it campaigned. To the extent that the Democratic Party reneged on its responsibility to carry out the people's agenda, it was punished at the polls by the voters. There is a tendency among pundits to overanalyze and nationalize election results where local issues trump the national agenda. Not “all politics is local” to be sure, but much more of it than is generally recognized, is.

With all due respect to Jonathan, the result in Massachusetts if anything shows that Michael and Ed were right all along. Ceding the progressive agenda that carried Barack Obama to the presidency to Blue Dog Democrats representing districts carried by John McCain and conservative Republicans has been disastrous for the Democratic Party.

It's worth noting that Micheal and Ed represent today's “new” electronic and digital media and Jonathan represents the “old” print and paper medium. FDR did not have to contend with a 24/7 news cycle, sound bites, and “optics.” Little more than 30 years after the enactment of Social Security, President Johnson took far less time to pass comprehensive Medicare and Medicaid, self-contained transformative legislation -- Parts A and B -- that was changed only (for the worst, in my view) with the passage of Part C cosmetic enhancements and a flawed prescription drug program that benefited private insurers as much, or more, as it did seniors.

Given these historical political and technological realities, it stands to reason that healthcare reform should have been enacted in less than six months, with less complexity, loopholes, and trade-offs, and should have included popular (consumer but anti-corporate) elements such as the public option which was consistently favored in public polls. The foundation was in place. Absent single-payer, Medicare for all was the way to go. Simplify and sell. That was the President's task. In this blog, we have consistently called for the President's leadership and early engagement. Instead, the President stood on the sidelines flirting with Grassley and Snowe, never campaigned (as President) for the public option, drew no lines in the sand -- “Retreat! Retreat! Retreat!” was Rham Emanuel’s clarion call through it all -- and waited and waited and waited to step in to close the deal. Too little, too late. BIG MISTAKE.

In an NPR interview a few weeks ago, President Obama said our claim that the insurance companies want this healthcare bill is “nonsense.” If that is so, Mr. President, why did insurance company stocks shoot up when the public option was killed then fluctuate wildly after Brown “41” was elected in Massachusetts? Either way, whether or not the insurance companies get this bill, it's a win-win for corporate interests. There is no other explanation for insurance companies hosting a fundraiser for losing MA Democrat Martha Coakley one week before the vote, playing both sides against their own self-interest.

If the Massachusetts election derails President Obama's agenda it will be entirely his fault. Progressives are most disappointed not only by the President's absent leadership on healthcare, but by his cozy relationship with Wall Street bankers and insurance companies. There is more “talk” and far less “walk” on the financial regulatory front, witness the gutting of strong banking and financial regulatory reforms in Congress with a lobbyist-driven watered down SEC enforcement arm and consumer financial protection agency. The Senate healthcare bill is a veritable Xmas tree of goodies for corporations and entrenched self-interests, including reactionary Democratic senators from sparsely populated states.

Gramps McCain took to the Senate floor to say “begin from the beginning.” He may yet get his wish to kill healthcare reform. The DINOs, including DINO-come-lately Jim Webb of Virginia, are already talking about incrementalism and retrenchment, i.e., protecting their own hides. Healthcare and financial regulatory reform are on life support thanks to corporatist capitulators Rham Emanuel, Tim Geithner, and Larry Summers. They have not served the President well and they should be gone. If the President's policies, as Presidential adviser David Axelrod said, “are widely misunderstood,” whose fault is that, Mr. Axelrod; aren't you the “optics” guy?

The progressive agenda in the Senate breaks down to 53-47. That's how many votes it would take to pass real healthcare reform, with a public option, paid for by a tax on the wealthiest 2%. That's very close to the percentage of the President's election. Instead of passing healthcare reform with this solid majority rather than squandering an entire year trying to convince 47 conservatives to go along with it, the President now finds himself in a position where he has surrendered his agenda to the right and ironically enjoys only about 47% or less support for his policies.

Congressman John Lewis, a hero of the great civil rights struggles of the 60s, in times like these asked, “what would Bobby do?” Win or lose, RFK wouldn't have been afraid of mixing it up with his rich and powerful opponents, and getting in their face on behalf of the people, especially the weak and voiceless. He would never have stood on the sidelines waiting for things to break his way, trying to protect his “lead,” i.e., popularity. He never cared about the polls; he was confident that if he stuck to his principles people would follow. And if they didn't, he'd get up, brush himself off, and move on to the next fight, with a clear conscience.

There's a lesson in there somewhere for the President and the Democratic Party.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Leftists Who Exploit Haiti Tragedy to Take Cheap Shots at the President Are no Better Than Limbaugh

The right wing attacks on President Obama and the U.S. govenment’s Haiti relief effort from GOP Boss Rush Limbaugh, Telefascist Pat Robertson, and Ann Coulter --“the shame and embarrassment” of Bill Clinton in Haiti, the “horny hick” who’s “leaving his essence in Kleenex” -- among other wingnuts are despicable and racist but totally predictable.

Set aside Coulter's hedonistic garbage and Robertson’s brain-addled devil nonsense. Limbaugh’s hideous racism is worse. Here's a sampler: The Democrats are good at “meals on wheels”; we’re already donating to Haiti relief, “it’s called the income tax”; President Obama wants to use the epic tragedy in Haiti to “burnish” his standing and credibility in both the “light-skinned and dark-skinned” black community in this country; “It's made-to-order for 'em; that's why he couldn't wait to get out there. Could not wait to get out there.”

Forget all that. Incredibly, the Obama-bashing isn’t confined to the right. So-called “investigative journalist” Greg Palast, darling of the leftist fringe, said these things on his website:
“Bless the President for having rescue teams in the air almost immediately.” That was President Olafur Grimsson of Iceland. On Wednesday, the AP reported that the President of the United States promised, "The initial contingent of 2,000 Marines could be deployed to the quake-ravaged country within the next few days." “In a few days,” Mr. Obama?
Yes, Mr. Palast. The President was true to his word. The first contingent of U.S. troops arrived in Haiti “a few days” after the earthquake. What you neglect to say is that immediately after the earthquake struck USAID deployed and airlifted to Haiti search and rescue teams with professionally trained sniffer search dogs, as well as Coast Guard cutters carrying food, water, and medical supplies.
“China deployed rescuers with sniffer dogs within 48 hours. China, Mr. President. China: 8,000 miles distant. Miami: 700 miles close. US bases in Puerto Rico: right there.”
If you had bothered to cross-check your sources, Mr. Palast, you would have discovered that on Wednesday, one day into the catastrophe, at least two U.S. Coast Guard ships and two U.S. Air Force transport planes delivered generators, fuel, food, water, communications equipment, medical teams, and medical supplies to Haiti. China’s official news agency reported their team arrived on Thursday: “China's rescue team arrived in Haiti on Thursday, two days after the Latin American country was devastated by a major earthquake measuring 7.3 magnitude.”

The Christian Science Monitor got it wrong when it reported China arrived in Haiti before the U.S. The President stressed that their first priority in those initial hours was to save lives, search and rescue. U.S. search and rescue teams arrived Wednesday and set up operations in the airport to coordinate search and rescue for units from around the world, in addition to tirelessly working their shifts, night and day.

Forty hours into the crisis the U.S. Air Force reopened the airport and brought it up to 24/7 operations, substituting for the collapsed air traffic control tower so that relief supplies from around the world could land safely. It remains a logistical nightmare, with one runway for the massive logjam of relief flights.

It should be noted that cash-rich China so far has pledged only $1 million to Haitian reconstruction compared to the U.S. initial pledge of $100 million, the most among donating countries. To keep things in perspective, here are a few facts and figures from USAID:
  • To date in FY 2010, USAID has provided nearly $111.3 million in humanitarian assistance for the Haiti earthquake, including a USAID/OFDA contribution of approximately $63.3 million and USAID/FFP food assistance valued at an estimated $48 million.
  • On January 12, USAID/OFDA activated a Washington D.C.-based Response Management Team (RMT) to support the USAID/DART that deployed to Haiti early on January 13 to assess humanitarian conditions and coordinate activities with the humanitarian community.
  • DoD has authorized $20 million in overseas humanitarian and disaster assistance appropriations in support of the Haiti earthquake relief effort. DoD has been supporting the humanitarian response through transportation of emergency relief personnel and commodities into Haiti. In addition, several U.S. military ships are currently positioned near Haiti to provide tactical and operational support to the emergency response operation.
Palast sneers: “Obama's Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, “I don't know how this government could have responded faster or more comprehensively than it has.” We know Gates doesn't know.”

Really? Palast continues:
“From my own work in the field, I know that FEMA has access to ready-to-go potable water, generators, mobile medical equipment and more for hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast. It's all still there. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who served as the task force commander for emergency response after Hurricane Katrina, told the Christian Science Monitor, “I thought we had learned that from Katrina, take food and water and start evacuating people.” Maybe we learned but, apparently, Gates and the Defense Department missed school that day.”
This kind of willfull ignorance of the facts, of FEMA’s immediate response to the tragedy in Haiti based on a poorly sourced account is astonishingly dishonest. It’s hardly worth a response, but anyone who cares to learn about FEMA’s actual role can click on this link and read the FEMA report of January 15. As for General Honoré, who is a paid CNN consultant, this is his salient point which Palast seems willfully to have omitted, with FOX-like surgical precision, “I was a little frustrated to hear that USAID was the lead agency. I respect them, but they're not a rapid deployment unit.” Fair point, but incongruent with Palast's bashing of the U.S. military, because General Honoré in effect argued for it taking the lead in relief efforts rather than the “bureaucratic” State Department and USAID. Palast notes with dripping sarcasm:
Send in the Marines. That's America's response. That's what we're good at. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up after three days. With what? It was dramatically deployed -— without any emergency relief supplies. It has sidewinder missiles and 19 helicopters.
The purpose of the helicopters, Mr. Palast, is to provide critical vertical lift and transport capability in a country whose infrastructure, transportation system, and port are almost totally destroyed. The USS Carl Vinson, said its commander, is to function as a “floating airport for helicopters picking up supplies from other ships or from a new logistics hub at Port-au-Prince’s international airport and then flying the supplies into hard-to-reach areas of Haiti.” In addition, U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort is due to arrive off Haiti this week.

Greg Palast's parting shot:
Secretary Gates tells us, “There are just some certain facts of life that affect how quickly you can do some of these things.” The Navy's hospital boat will be there in, oh, a week or so. Heckuva job, Brownie!
How original. The fact is, sir, that the scope of Haiti's tragedy and its challenges are daunting, to say the least. It's easy to sit in your comfort zone and take cheap shots at the people who are in Haiti saving lives at this very moment. Could things have been done differently or better? Certainly. The disaster is so massive and the destruction so complete that the “bottleneck” getting relief in with one operational airstrip, no port, and bad roads is critical. And the Comfort is not a “boat” it's a ship.

Moreover, the Comfort's mission is long-term. Its first phase is expected to last 45 days, treat 40,000 patients, and could require up to 100 French and Creole translators, according to commanding officer, Capt. Jim Ware. The ship can normally accommodate 250 patients over 30 days, with up to 1,000 operations over this period. “Right now we think we're going to be surgically-intensive,” Ware said. Mr. Palast would no doubt snort that this is but a drop in the bucket. But it won't be for a lack of commitment and dedication by American medical personnel in Haiti.

Of the field hospitals established in Haiti, the best are the IDF's, which arrived with its fully functional MASH unit, including an OR, and an inflatable hospital that is up and running with ORs from the magnificent Doctors Without Borders. The Cubans administering La Paz Hospital along with medical units from other countries are doing yeoman work in one of the remaining functioning hospitals left standing in that ravaged country. (All three of MSF's hospitals collapsed in the quake.) Cuba had a headstart with hundreds of doctors and medical personnel in Haiti when the earthquake struck. In light of the unprecedented scope of the tragedy and needs of the Haitian population, the Cuban government has allowed U.S. military aircraft to fly over Cuban airspace to and from Florida and Guantanamo base. So much for the self-serving paranoia in some quarters of an imminent invasion threat from the U.S.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Going more local for a bit

I have a simple message for anyone in the state of Illinois who thinks we're getting out of this mess without both raising taxes and cutting spending -

you are a moron.

So when you see Andy McKenna or any of his friends telling us that they have aplan that won't involve raising taxes, ignore them. They're either lying to you or they'll oversee another four years of economic disaster.