Johann Hari comments for The Independent UK: "Something strange has happened in America in the nine months since Barack Obama was elected. It has best been summarised by the comedian Bill Maher: 'The Democrats have moved to the right, and the Republicans have moved to a mental hospital.' The election of Obama 'a black man with an anti-conservative message -as a successor to George W. Bush has scrambled the core American right's view of their country. In their gut, they saw the US as a white-skinned, right-wing nation forever shaped like Sarah Palin. When this image was repudiated by a majority of Americans in a massive landslide, it simply didn't compute."
The Politics of the Jackboot
E.J. Dione writes for Truthdig.com: "Try a thought experiment: What would conservatives have said if a group of loud, scruffy leftists had brought guns to the public events of Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush? How would our friends on the right have reacted to someone at a Reagan or a Bush speech carrying a sign that read: 'It’s time to water the tree of liberty'? That would be a reference to Thomas Jefferson’s declaration that the tree “must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
American Majority Agrees: Afghan War's Not Worth Fighting
John Nichols reports for The Nation: "With record numbers of US troops being killed in Afghanistan, with Pentagon expenditures for the war skyrocketing and with little or no evidence that the US occupation is making the country more stable, safe, free or humane, a majority of Americans now say the war is not worth fighting. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed for a a new Washington Post-ABC News poll now say the human and economic cost of the war is too great."
CIA's Use Of Contractors Draws Fresh Scrutiny
Kevin Whitelaw reports for National Public Radio: "News that the CIA worked with a private contractor on a secret assassination program is the latest evidence of how much the agency has outsourced a range of its activities, including covert missions."
Blackwater: CIA Assassins?
Jeremy Scahill writes for The Nation: "In April 2002, the CIA paid Blackwater more than $5 million to deploy a small team of men inside Afghanistan during the early stages of US operations in the country. A month later, Erik Prince, the company's owner and a former Navy SEAL, flew to Afghanistan as part of the original twenty-man Blackwater contingent. Blackwater worked for the CIA at its station in Kabul as well as in Shkin, along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where they operated out of a mud fortress known as the Alamo. It was the beginning of a long relationship between Blackwater, Prince and the CIA. Now the New York Times is reporting that in 2004 the CIA hired Blackwater 'as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda.' According to the Times, 'it is unclear whether the CIA had planned to use the contractors to capture or kill Qaeda operatives, or just to help with training and surveillance.'"
Blackwater Disclosure Adds to CIA Worries: News of 'Targeted Killing' Program Precedes Interrogation Report, Possible Probe
R. Jeffrey Smith and Joby Warrick report for the Washington Post: "The disclosure Wednesday of the CIA's decision five years ago to let a private security contractor help manage its sensitive effort to kill senior al-Qaeda members drew congressional criticism Thursday on the eve of key decisions by the Obama administration that current and former intelligence officials fear could compound the spy agency's political troubles.
What Rebound? Foreclosures Rise as Jobs and Income Drop
Kevin G. Hall reports for McClatchy Newspapers: "Delinquency and foreclosure rates for U.S. mortgages continued to rise in the second quarter, with loans to the most qualified borrowers going bust at an unnerving clip, especially in hard-hit states such as Florida and California."
Recommended Audio: Truthdig Podcast - Chris Hedges on Healthcare, War and the New Racism
Chris Hedges talks about the illusion of health care reform, the war in Afghanistan and what he calls the “new racism” in the age of Obama.
The Policy-Speak Disaster for Health Care
George Lakoff comments for Truthout: "Barack Obama ran the best-organized and best-framed presidential campaign in history. How is it possible that the same people who did so well in the campaign have done so badly on health care?"
Why the Gang of Six Is Deciding Health Care for Three Hundred Million of Us
Robert Reich comments on Robert Reich's Blog: "Last night, the so-called 'gang of six' - three Republican and three Democratic senators on the Senate Finance Committee - met by conference call and, according to Senator Max Baucus, the committee's chair, reaffirmed their commitment 'toward a bipartisan health-care reform bill' (read: less coverage and no public insurance option). The Washington Post reports that the senators shared tales from their home states, where some have been besieged by protesters angry about a potential government takeover of the nation's health care system."
In a Reasoned Debate, Single Payer Will Come Out On Top
By Laura S. Boylan, M.D., and Joanne Landy, M.P.H., write: "One can only feel sorrow and dismay at the bullying and hate-mongering that is taking place at health care forums around the country. Massive job losses, the devaluation and foreclosures of people’s homes, and precipitous declines in lifetime savings produce widespread fears of further loss. In an era of insecurity, mainstream Democratic Party proposals for reforming the health system have played into such fears."
This piece was originally posted at the Web site of Physicians for a National Health Program (http://www.pnhp.org) and was reposted on Truthdig.com.
Kevin Drum writes for Mother Jones: "Miller-McCune glosses some recent research about the exorbitant rates the uninsured are forced to pay for medical care:
For example, one doctor billed $4,500 for an office visit when Medicare would have paid just $134. Another doctor billed $14,400 for removal of a gallbladder when Medicare would have paid $656. And a hip replacement cost $40,000 when Medicare would have paid $1,558Dying for Affordable Healthcare -- the uninsured speak
In a week of claim and counter-claim about the merits of healthcare provision in the US and UK, Ed Pilkington, The Guardian UK, travelled to Quindaro, Kansas, to see how the poorest survive and reports: "In the furious debate gripping America over the future of its health system, one voice has been lost amid the shouting. It is that of a distinguished gynaecologist, aged 67, called Dr Joseph Manley. For 35 years Manley had a thriving health clinic in Kansas. He lived in the most affluent neighbourhood of Kansas City and treated himself to a new Porsche every year. But this is not a story about doctors' remuneration and their lavish lifestyles."
Recommended Audio: Audio slideshow - Free health care in Kansas City
From the Guardian UK: Rare free treatment centre in US acts as a safety net where the uninsured can go for treatment.
Health Care Battle Tarnishes Grassley's Bipartisan Reputation
Mike Lillis reports for The Washington Independent: "Senate Democrats negotiating health care reforms with Sen. Charles Grassley are finding out the hard way that the Iowa Republican, while boasting a reputation for reaching across the aisle, appears hard set on supporting GOP leadership above bipartisan compromise. Not only is Grassley threatening to vote against the bill — even a bill he supports — if it doesn’t gain enough GOP backing, but his home-state recess tour has found him echoing false GOP accusations that the Democrats’ plans would empower the government to ration services and euthanize seniors."
ACTION ALERT: Whole Foods Market Faces Boycott Over Opposition to Public Option and Single Payer
From the Organic Consumers Organization: Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey set off a firestorm of controversy in a recent Wall Street Journal article, arguing against health care reform and the so-called "public option." Mackey contends that the United States can fix our healthcare crisis not by reining in insurance companies and improving access to comprehensive healthcare and affordable organic food, but by patronizing his overpriced WFM and further deregulating the insurance industry. In fact, Mackey believes that healthcare is not a human right, but a commodity that only the wealthy should have. Tens of thousands of organic consumers and health care advocates have responded by calling for a boycott of Whole Foods Markets.
Over fifteen thousand OCA members have contacted WFM in recent months, urging the nation's largest retailer of organic products to increase organic food access, implement comprehensive testing for GMOs in their private label products and eliminate dangerous chemicals from their body care products. WFM responded by bowing to OCA pressure and has promised to sell significantly more organics in 2010. We having an impact!
Tell Whole Foods to support their stated mission of promoting organics, health, justice, and sustainability
The Invasion of Genetically-Engineered Eucalyptus
Jim Hightower writes: "Here’s a great idea: Let's bring into our country a genetically-engineered, non-native tree that is known to be wildly invasive, explosively flammable, and insatiably thirsty for ground water. Then let's clone thousands of these living firecrackers and plant them in forested regions across seven Southern states, allowing them to grow, flower, produce seeds, and spread into native environments."
Please click here to take action against ArborGen's plan to plant 260,000 franken-trees.
Luckily, several scrappy grassroots groups have mobilized to bring common sense and public pressure to bear on USDA. For updates and action items, visit www.nogetrees.org.
(Nuclear) Energy Bill Moves to the Senate
Atheo News reports: "Nuclear industry advocates are encouraged by what they are hearing in Senate Environment and Public Works committee hearings this week. A panel which included Obama Energy Secretary Dr. Chu was questioned by Senators in a hearing which shed light on the likely direction federal efforts at combating global warming will take if legislation is passed."
FACT CHECK: The Right-Wing Smear Campaign Against Mark Lloyd
Amanda Terkel writes for Think Progress: "Since the FCC appointed Mark Lloyd as the agency’s Chief Diversity Officer/Associate General Counsel on July 29, conservatives have made him their new target in the ongoing campaign to baselessly warn about the reemergence of the Fairness Doctrine."
Timothy Karr reports for the Huffington Post: "If you haven't been paying attention to the rise of Astroturf in Washington, in the media and at your local town hall meeting, now's the time to tune in. Astroturf front groups have been everywhere this summer -- spreading misinformation about health care reform, carbon emission caps and financial regulation. Astroturf shills, notably FreedomWorks' Dick Armey and Americans for Prosperity's Tim Phillips, surface wherever and whenever reform policies threaten the corporate or political status quo."
Recommended Audio: The Power of Online Politics
Ari Melber, the Nation's Net Movement correspondent, shares his insights from the Netroots Nation conference on the direction Internet-based organizing is taking. Melber notes three new developments: reverse fundraising, where donors raise money for a primary challenger to a congressperson they don't like; donor strikes, where donors tell the politicians that they won't fundraise for them unless they vote a certain way; and the sort of ambush interviews practiced by the blog FireDogLake, where politicians are caught on video having to explain their positions on an issue.