In the Belly of the Beast: 4/4/11: Republican budget proposal privatizes Medicare


The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Monday, Day 128

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell

“Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention”: Manning Marable’s New Biography Investigates Conflicted Reality of the Civil Rights Leader


“Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary sector of monopoly capital”




Headlines for April 4, 2011

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by (Democracy Now!)

The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Monday, Day 128

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell

“Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention”: Manning Marable’s New Biography Investigates Conflicted Reality of the Civil Rights Leader

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by (Democracy Now!)

Play_marable_speakersTwo decades in the making, Manning Marable’s nearly 600-page biography, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, is described as a reevaluation of Malcolm X’s life, providing new insights into the circumstances of his assassination, as well as raising questions about Malcolm X’s autobiography. Manning passed away on Friday, just days before his life’s work was published. To discuss his legacy, we’re joined by Michael Eric Dyson, sociology professor at Georgetown University and author of Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X, and also by Bill Fletcher, Jr., a friend of Marable and a longtime labor and racial justice activist. “There were three different sources that had an interest in Malcolm’s death, and that’s where [the book] becomes very, very important,” Fletcher says. “It was the police and the FBI, it was the Nation of Islam, but there were also people in his own organization who resented the trajectory that he was moving. And so, there was this confluence of forces that led to a situation where he was permitted to be killed. And I think that when people read this, it’s going to be an incredible eye opener.” [includes rush transcript]

African American Historian Manning Marable Dies Days Before Publication of His Biography of Malcolm X

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by (Democracy Now!)

Play_marable_interviewsRenowned African American historian Manning Marable passed away on Friday at the age of 60, just days before the publication of his life’s work, a monumental biography about Malcolm X. Two decades in the making, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention is described as a reevaluation of Malcolm X’s life. We play excerpts from when Amy Goodman interviewed Marable in 2005 and 2007 about the chapters missing from Malcolm X’s autobiography and the groups implicated in his assassination. [includes rush transcript]

Manning Marable RIP

from PA Editors Blog by Political Affairs

I heard of Manning Marable’s death over the weekend and was both shocked and saddened.  I had the privilege and pleasure of knowing Manning  from the 1970s on, although I have not seen him too much for a long time.

Manning was always a peoples scholar.  His work on African-American politics and history was always for  a larger audience, both white and black.  And he was always of the left, a left that was both theoretical and practical, questioning all conventional beliefs, including many held by the left.

And he was  rooted in the experience and struggles of the African-American people and that made him both a scholar and an activist in the best sense.

Finally, he was a warm and friendly person, supportive of those around him.

Sadly, Manning’s biography of Malcolm X, whom who had studied for a very long time, is to be published today.  He wrote many books and articles of  great value. and that is his legacy. I would recommend Race, Reform, and Rebellion a history of the African-American people after WWII as an introduction to both his thinking  and to a history that is central to understanding general U.S. history in the period.

Today we need many Manning Marables and hopefully his work and legacy will help produce many Manning Marables in the near future.

Tomgram: Lewis Lapham, Consuming Labor

from TomDispatch – Blog by Lewis Lapham

The stock markets may have weathered the storm of the recession, as have the country’s corporate profit margins, but unless jobs can be found, we wave goodbye to America the Beautiful…

This Is What Resistance Looks Like

The phrase consent of the governed has been turned into a cruel joke. There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. Civil disobedience is the only tool we have left.

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Tomorrow is election day in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is one of the states that elects Supreme Court justices. This means that in Mr. Roberts’ Neighborhood, judges can be bought for campaign cash.

Enter David Prosser, the hard-right candidate — current self-avowed conservative Justice (he’s the incumbent), who promises to complement Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican legislature, and who appears to haveprejudged a number of cases that will come to the court, including Walker’s “budget repair” bill, the “kill the unions” bill, and any challenges to right-wing legislative redistricting.

He’s the guy who screamed at the female Chief Justice during a conference meeting, calling her a “bitch” and threatening to “destroy her.”

Oh, and Prosser’s the Sarah Palin–endorsed candidate. ‘Nuff said?

Goal ThermometerIf you’re eligible to vote in Wisconsin:

▪ Volunteer for JoAnne Kloppenberg; she needs your help for a get-out-the-vote effort tomorrow.

▪ Organize your friends to vote tomorrow.

▪ Vote tomorrow.

Yes, tomorrow, April 5, is the day for Prosser vs. JoAnne Kloppenberg. As David Nir says, this may be a tough one:

Despite the increased enthusiasm on our side, April elections in Wisconsin traditionally favor conservatives. Prosser is a long-time incumbent with a lot of friends; before the ads started airing, Kloppenburg was a virtual unknown who had never run for office before. And as you well know, right-wing interest groups like the WMC and TPX are more than capable of out-spending us.

I can’t find polls, but the turnout is expected to be around 20% of eligible voters. This favors the side that turns out its voters.

So, turn out your voters. Again, you can volunteer here.

And thanks to everyone who put us above the half-way mark in our newly enhanced “Repeal the Republican 8” fund-raising goal. If you haven’t contributed yet, please consider it; again, thanks!

Republican budget proposal privatizes Medicare

That’s right. The Republicans are looking to privatize Medicare. From Brian Beutler (my emphasis):

One of the fun little tidbits in the Republican Budget roll out today is here:

The substitute gradually converts the current Medicare program into one in which Medicare beneficiaries choose the most affordable coverage that best suits their individual needs. For individuals 55 or older, Medicare will not be changed (other than income-relating the prescription drug benefit): the budget preserves the existing program for these beneficiaries. To make the program sustainable and dependable,those 54 and younger will enroll in a new Medicare Program with health coverage similar to what is now available to Members of Congress and Federal employees.

In other words, privatized insurance. Note the exemption for those (voting while) 55 or older.

The Professor makes three points and counts them as two:

1. Privatizing and voucherizing Medicare does nothing whatsoever to control costs. We’ve seen that from the sorry history of Medicare Advantage. I’m sure that the Republicans will claim savings — but those savings will come entirely from limiting the vouchers to below the rate of rise in health care costs; in effect, they will come from denying medical care to those who can’t afford to top up their premiums.


2. … This will be Obama’s defining moment. Will he stand up for the principle that society takes care of those in need? Or will he cave in? I wish I had confidence in the answer.

His third point is a word “for all those older Americans who voted GOP last year because those nasty Democrats were going to cut Medicare” — suckers!

Point two above is worth watching. Is there a Cave Week 2 in Obama’s future?

HuffPo: Budget deal would give DOD extra funds in exchange for cuts to social programs

From Ryan Grim and Sam Stein:

[T]he Pentagon is poised to reap billions more in federal funds, according to sources close to the discussions. The confines of the budget negotiations established by the two parties results in a system where every extra dollar going to military spending ends up being offset by a dollar reduction in spending on domestic social programs.

Democrats and Republicans are now moving toward an agreement that would increase defense spending. But Democratic sources close to the talks said the Democrats’ spending recommendation remains roughly $2 billion shy of that of their Republican counterparts.

“If you plus up those areas together,” one high-ranking Democratic official said, “what happens is you have to take it from somewhere else. And where are you taking it from? From Labor, Education, the NIH [National Institutes of Health], health care, the social safety net. That’s how they are trying to jam us.”

Favorite quote:

Republicans say that Democrats knew from the beginning that proposed cuts to defense spending would be rejected.

And because Republicans reject it, that means we can’t continue to demand it? Good, let the Republicans shut down the Pentagon because they refuse to accept the President’s proposal. Like they’d dare. They wouldn’t. But I just can’t believe our guys won’t blink.

GOPers preparing for govt shutdown, Republicans want to cut $12bn in just one week

They are going to nickel and dime the President to political death.

First, from Brian Beutler we learn that House Republicans are privately preparing for a shutdown. And with the Teabagger fringe now running the party, I don’t see how there’s any budget, short of something totally traitorous, that the President could agree to and appease the people.

At a House GOP caucus meeting Monday evening, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told members to expect to receive guidance on Tuesday outlining protocol in the event of a government shutdown.

If funding for the government is not renewed before Friday, members will be advised to furlough non-essential employees, who will be told not to communicate using office resources in accordance with federal law.

And in fact, we learn from ThinkProgress that Republicans ar publicly preparing the public for a shutdown, and already blaming Democrats for the very shutdown the GOP is planning:

It’s looking more likely that this latest impasse cannot end without a government shutdown. This week, House Majority leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) declared that the American people would hold Democrats accountable for such a result. And this morning on Fox & Friends, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) repeated the talking point:

BACHMANN: We learned from Harry Reid, we learned from Chuck Schumer what the whole game plan is on the Democrats’ side. They are giddy about seeing the government shut down. That’s what they want. We can’t forget that. The Democrats want the government shut down.

In fact, Republican intransigence is the driving force behind the likelihood of a shutdown. Previous resolutions cut $10 billion from the budget, and the Democratic leadership has offered a total of $30 billion in cuts through the end of the year. This is roughly what Republican budget chairman Paul Ryan suggested at the start of the debate, before a Tea Party upheaval forced the House Republicans to pass a bill with both $61 billion in spending reductions and a series of controversial budget riders gutting funding for Planned Parenthood, health care reform, and the EPA.

Republicans now insist this budget must be the bare minimum for negotiations moving forward. They have also pointedly refused to consider savings in other parts of the budget, including defense spending or wasteful corporate tax subsidies.

And finally we learn from AP that the Republicans are preparing a short-term spending bill, only good for one week, that would cut a massive $12bn in just that week. The beauty of this neat little trick is not just to get the President to cave to hostage-takers (as he admittedly does) but they get to revisit this in another week with another temporary spending bill cutting just as much.

Why not increase spending in the one-week bill, as a sort of mini-stimulus? Why are we constantly debating on the Republicans’ own terms? Perhaps because the President caved on this issue a year ago and we’ve never fully recovered since. Those of us who warned that it was a seriously bad move by the President to “admit” to the GOP talking point that the deficit had grown too big and needed to be addressed immediately (thus pulling the legs out on any remaining public support for the stimulus) – we warned that this would come back to bite him in the ass, and we were sadly, again, right. Just as we predicted that the Republicans would get the message when the President said in December, famously, that he’d rather cave than let hostage-takers kill the hostages. So prepare for another hostage crisis. And another, and another, and another…

The Michigan governor’s power grab

from PA Editors Blog by Political Affairs

A Detroit City budget deficit does not cause an emergency to the public health, welfare and safety

The Michigan Dictator law (receivership law) rationalizes imposing a dictator a city or a town based an alleged emergency to the public health, welfare and safety due to a budget deficit. However, a municipal budget deficit does not remove critical city services from the People. The deficit or fiscal stress causes a threat to the revenue streams that Wall Street sucks like blood as a vampire from the working class’ wealth, but not to the well being of the great mass of the People. A moratorium on payments to Wall Street on municipal bonds would go a long way toward keeping full pay, benefits and pensions to city workers and retirees; (and a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures and payments would keep tens of millions of dollars in the hands of the working class in Detroit). It is to keep the People’s money flowing to Wall Street and the Big Banks that the State tells the Big Lie that it must impose a tyrant on the City. It must tell this Big Lie to justify the UnAmerican act of stealing a City population’s fundamental democratic power to choose on its own the officials to control the City’s wealth, assets, wages, benefits and pensions, and all that is valuable to the People’s municipal corporation. The State is training a corps of financial gestapo (so-called emergency financial managers), all imbued with the money-drunk philosophy of business accounting, Wall Street technical minions to shift wealth from the working masses and their local government to the finance capital and Big Business.

This was the purpose of a State taking over the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) when there was  billion dollar bond sale years ago. This was the purpose in imposing the Dictator on DPS more recently: to take the People’s money and give it to private enterprises, and crony capitalists. The DPS dictatorship is a pilot program, a test of the reaction of the People of Detroit as to how they will react to a dictatorial seizure of the City government. There have been insufficient  mass protests against the DPS dictatorship to deter a dictatorship over Detroit. So, the Powers-that-be are moving quickly to seize Detroit.

Only a protracted mass movement of militant protest, state initiative and referendum petitions and election victories, recall petitions and election victories, of the Governor in the first place,; and election votes with a tremendous increase in voter turnout, in Detroit in the first place, will stop the fascist-like attack from the tea-Republicans and their Wall street and Big Business masters. See you at the April 4 and April 13 protests. All Power to the People! Speak Power in the Streets!

“Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary sector of monopoly capital”


Wealth Inequality USA

from PA Editors Blog by Political Affairs

In 2009, the top 5% of wealth holders claimed 63.5% of the country’s wealth. The bottom 80%, by contrast, held just 12.8% of the country’s wealth.

Oregon gets ‘substantially more’ revenue from the lottery than from corporate income tax

So sad. This from David Cay Johnston at (my emphasis):

The long-running drive in America to push the burden of taxes down the income ladder has reached a new milestone in Oregon, which sends a troubling message for where our country’s public finances are headed.

Oregon now gets substantially more revenue from state-sponsored gambling than from its corporate income tax.

The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, the state agency that forecasts revenue and expenses, said that for the 2011-2013 biennium, the lottery should net the state almost $1.1 billion compared with just under $900 million from the corporate income tax. … In other words, in Oregon those least able to afford it, those who benefit least from America’s economy, are being cajoled into bearing a heavier share of the burdens of government. At the same time, politicians are lavishing ever more tax breaks on corporations, those storehouses of wealth whose managers want to enjoy the benefits of public transportation, public education, public courts, and everything else the taxpayers provide, without sharing in the burdens.

And note the argument against lotto incomes for states — it’s not the “morality” but the inequality:

Lotteries, by and large, are a tax on the poor, study after study has shown. North Carolina Watch did a study of lottery ticket sales in that state’s 100 counties and found that per capita revenue was highest in 19 of the 20 poorest counties.

The lottery is, for sure, a voluntary tax. But it is still mostly a tax on the poor.

A tax on the poor driven by fear and desperation. (Not bad for the lotto companies, however; I wonder how it works, getting a state-sanctioned gambling contract through our corruption-free state legislatures.)

If you want to argue the immorality of lotteries, I think this makes a fine starting point:

Lotteries in most places, including California and North Carolina, were sold on the basis that they would provide more money for education. Prof. Ross Rubenstein at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, who studies education finance, said there is robust evidence that lottery revenue tends to supplant, not supplement, tax dollars going to education.

I’ve just scratched the surface of this good article, and David Cay Johnston is one of our national treasures. From deeper in the piece, these gems:

The corporate income tax situation in Oregon, where many companies pay nominal amounts, is part of a broader trend as well. This is a state in which officials are poised to let Warren Buffett pocket taxes embedded in rates paid to his electric utility[.] … Nationally, corporate income taxes have fallen to some of their lowest levels as a share of GDP ever. … The average share of corporate income taxes since 1971 has been 2 percent, the CBO data show.

So much for that supposed “35% corporate tax rate” the CNBC blond(e)s complain about. David Cay Johnston at his best.

Speaking anecdotally about the lottery, it sure seems to me that the big numbers — the $100 million pools and up — for the multi-state lotteries are coming faster and faster, at an alarming rate. If lottos are constructed so that incoming purchases drive the top-prize number (and I believe that’s the case), people must be buying tickets at a fearsome rate.

If that’s a measure of people’s economic self-assessment in this jobless “recovery,” you could almost predict a double-dip recession from that metric alone. Scary.

Goldman CEO sees pay double in 2010

Hasn’t everyone else also seen a pay raise like this? By gosh, he’s such a leader and deserves every penny for managing to drive earnings down even after free money handed out by the taxpayers who are funding the bank recovery. Who says capitalism is dead in America? Good work, when you can get it.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) awarded Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein $19 million in compensation for 2010, almost double the prior year, and granted him the first cash bonus in three years.

The total includes $5.4 million in cash, $12.6 million in restricted stock, a $600,000 salary and about $464,000 in other benefits, the New York-based firm’s proxy statement showed. Blankfein’s $9.8 million pay for 2009 included $9 million in restricted stock plus salary and other compensation.

Goldman Sachs, the fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets, boosted Blankfein’s compensation for a year in which earnings dropped 38 percent and the stock price was little changed. The amount falls in the middle ground between 2008, when Blankfein, 56, and six other senior officers got no bonuses, and the record-setting $67.9 million award he received for 2007.


Deepwater Horizon owner gives huge bonuses for ‘best year in safety performance in company’s history.’ Uh, your rig exploded in a massive oil spill.

The second largest oil spill in US history, and the fifth largest in world history.

And their executives are getting huge bonuses for their “exemplary” safety record and the “best year in safety performance in our company’s history.”

Yes, besides that explosion that killed eleven people immediately, killed sea life, ruined the fishing industry, trashed tourism jobs and polluted the Gulf of Mexico, it was the best year ever! A banner year! It’s always refreshing to see corporate America take responsibility for their actions. Oh how I admire them.

Transocean Ltd. gave its top executives bonuses for achieving the “best year in safety performance in our company’s history” — despite the explosion of its oil rig that killed 11 people, including nine of its own employees, and spilled 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The company said in a regulatory filing that its most senior managers were given two-thirds of their total possible safety bonus.

Transocean noted “the tragic loss of life” in the Gulf when the rig operated by BP PLC exploded last April. But it said the company still had an “exemplary” safety record because it met or exceeded certain internal safety targets concerning the frequency and severity of its accidents, according to the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

Make sure you check out the exclusive photos that AMERICAblog published last May showing the rig exploding and slowly sinking into the ocean. Then ask yourself how this was their best safety year ever. I shudder to think of the other years.

BP to start deepwater drilling in Gulf


In a deal with U.S. regulators, BP this summer plans to restart deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico on 10 wells in exchange for tougher safety rules, British media reported Sunday.

The London-based oil giant promised to abide by rules that are stricter than guidelines set after the April 20, 2010, blast on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers, The Financial Times and The Sunday Times of London reported. The accident, which released almost 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, was the largest marine spill in U.S. history.


Japan’s Movement for Democratic Socialism demands abolition of nuclear power

from World War 4 Report blogs by WW4 Report

From the central committee of the Movement for Democratic Socialism (MDS), Tokyo, March 27:

Let us struggle for democratic reconstruction of eastern Japan, and for the total abolishment of nuclear power plants!
More than two weeks have passed since March 11th gigantic earthquake that hit eastern Japan. The death toll is increasing even now, reaching almost thirty thousand to include those who are still unknown whether safe or not. MDS extends our deepest condolences to all the victims in this disaster. Particularly, Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant poses a serious issue as it continues to deteriorate its radioactive contamination. In Fukushima as well as in neighboring prefectures, shipments of vegetables and raw milk have been suspended since higher level of radioactive substance was detected from them. Tap water contaminated by radioactive iodine has expanded to encompass the Tokyo Metropolitan area.

read more

This entry was posted in Background & Analysis, Environement, Events, Finance Capital, Human Rights, Imperialism, Imperialist Interference & Views, Japan, Military, Nuclear Power, Obama, Oil, US, US Economy, US Electoral Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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