(With apologies to Lewis Carroll)
by Stephen Fleischman
“…a properly resourced counter-insurgency probably means more forces,” said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, “… more time and more commitment to the protection of the Afghan people and to the development of good governance.”
“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things: of shoes — and ships – and sealing wax –of cabbages and kings …
The Carpenter said nothing but, “cut us another slice…”
“Oh, Oysters, come walk with us. The day is warm and bright. A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk, would be a sheer delight. Yes, and should we get hungry on the way, we’ll stop and, uh, have a bite.”
“I weep for you,” the Walrus said, “I deeply sympathize.” With sobs and tears he sorted out those of the largest size…
The United States of America hardly sheds a tear when it destroys a nation. We always do it for the good of the people of that nation. We must protect them from themselves. We can’t allow the Taliban to return to Afghanistan. The Taliban happens to be an indigenous, religious and political movement that governed Afghanistan for five years when it was removed from power by US and NATO forces in 2001. Whatever happened to self-determination? In some strange way, the Taliban is being held responsible for 9/11. In 2004, the Taliban reared its hoary head again, and started a strong insurgency, fighting a guerrilla war against the puppet government in Kabul and its US and NATO allies participating in “Operation Enduring Freedom”—the one Adm. Mullen was talking about.
We had to cause regime change in Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States with his weapons of mass destruction which he didn’t have. Eight years of pounding is not enough. There is hardly a structure left standing, untouched.
“Little Oysters? Little Oysters? But answer there came none. And this was scarcely odd because they’d been eaten. Every one!”
Panama and Grenada were necessary wars. In Grenada, medical students were threatened, and Panama…well, Noriega came from there.
Korea was another matter. The North Koreans were being helped by Red China. Why were we there? I don’t exactly remember.
Now, Vietnam! That was a war! That’s where we learned about guerrillas—fighters who swim among the people like fish is water. Not many people had ever heard of the place, down in South-East Asia somewhere. The country was split during World War II. The French colonialists held onto the south, Red China took the north.
We had dominoes back then. Vietnam was a domino. The domino theory had it that if South Vietnam fell, all of Southeast Asia would go Communist. The French had been playing dominoes in Vietnam since before World War II. And when the war was over, the French came back to continue the game. But they found a guy there by the name of Ho Chi Minh who didn’t like the idea, and he put up quite a fight. In fact, he beat the feces out of the French at a place called Dien Bien Phu. The French yelled “Help!” The US sent in the Marines and eventually took over the war, as it is wont to do. We couldn’t let all of Southeast Asia go Communist, now, could we?
We should apply what we learned in Vietnam to what’s happening in Afghanistan now. The Russians learned their lesson. The one thing you can say for the war in Vietnam; it created the strongest anti-war movement America had ever known. It put a stop to the war. Nothing like that has been accomplished since.
The War Between the States—the US Civil War—Lincoln’s war, you could call it, was a war to preserve the union, and incidentally, end slavery. The official figure is that about 620,000 Americans perished in that war, in the four years between 1861 and 1865—360,000 on the Union side—258,000 on the Confederate side—more than in all other wars from the Revolution to Vietnam.
We live in a country that was born in genocide with the extermination of the Native American tribes, and we matured in a state of slavery to nourish the plantation system. One hundred and fifty years later, racial antagonism is still a hallmark of this country. Now, with a black president, one would think that racism has relented, but beneath the surface the stench of it can be felt (or smelt). When a Senator yells “you lie!” at our president during an address to a joint session of Congress; how do you interpret that? A civil war smoldering beneath the surface?
You be the judge. With a corporate oligarchy running the country, you can expect some fall-out. Barack Obama knows how to handle himself in the clinches. He gets screaming applause when he mentions “public option” at a rally for health care reform, and boos when he mentions Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, head of the Finance Committee, that just put out a health care reform bill that would warm the cockles of the health insurance industry’s heart (if it had one). Obama knows how to maneuver and that’s what the oligarchy likes and why he’s in the job. You can be sure that there will be no “public option” in the bill that eventually passes.
And you can be sure that there will be more troops heading to Afghanistan, perhaps as many as 45,000, to join the 68,000 already there. You can bet your McChrystal on it. Adm. Mullen tipped Congress off last Tuesday and if the Democrats oppose the request, they would be seen as flouting independent military advice.
“But Mother Oyster winked her eye and shook her hairy head. She knew too well this was no time to leave her oyster bed.”
Does this mean that we are living in an Alice in Wonderland world?
by Stephen Fleischman
We’ve been witnessing a torrent of twisted logic, lately, in the jousting over the Obama Administration’s health care plans. The Obama mantra seems to be that in order to get more health care we have to cut it. This is scaring the pants off old people on Medicare and those in other government programs like Social Security, Medicaid for the poor, Veterans’ programs and Champus, also called Tricare, providing health care to military families. If Obama really wanted to cut health costs in order to afford universal health insurance, he would be screaming for the single-payer option that has been forced off the table by the clout of the insurance industry.
When he was a candidate for President, seeking your vote, Obama was all for the single-payer plan. When elected, you saw a federal twist in action when he was joining in, rather than fighting off, the cabal. Now he is a well indoctrinated member of the corporate oligarchy. He has continued just about every one of the Bush policies, foreign and domestic. Not only his health care stance, but equally outrageous, the continuation and escalation of the war in Afghanistan while war in Iraq drags on. Something new has been added with Af-Pak, the inclusion of Pakistan in the package, and the killing of civilians with pilotless drones. The tease about closing Guantanamo was just that, a tease, and another promise broken.
Boiling over on the front burner, at the moment, is the public health care option while keeping the single payer plan under the radar screen.
The way the single-payer health plan works, the government collects all medical fees and then pays for all services through a single government (or government-related) agency. In Congress, H.R. 676, if passed into law, would replace private insurance companies with just such a publicly managed insurance plan. It would prove how superfluous health insurance companies are. They pocket one-third of the money you pay them in premiums which is why they make such whopping profits and why they’ll fight to the death to maintain the status-quo.
Why should there be people making money on your health?
Just about every civilized, industrial nation, and even some third-world countries, have government run health plans. Australia’s Medicare, Canada’s Medicare, and healthcare in Taiwan are examples of single-payer universal health care systems. In contrast, socialized medicine would be a system “in which all health personnel and health facilities, including doctors and hospitals, work for the government and draw salaries from the government,” an example being the U.S. Veterans Administration. Medicare is a single payer system which is not socialized medicine. Under the British National Health Service, which also uses a universal single-payer fund, the public owns the health systems and facilities. The term single-payer thus only describes the funding mechanism—referring to health care being paid for by a single public body—and does not specify the type of delivery, or who doctors work for.
The term single payer does not imply a socialized medicine system.
Since Americans are so frightened by the word “socialism”, this is one distinction they’ve got to get under their belts. The majority of physicians in the United States are in favor of a national health insurance system. A recent study published in 2008 in Annals of Internal Medicine, a leading medical journal, showed 59% of physicians “support government legislation to establish national health insurance,” while 32% oppose it and 9% are neutral. This represented an increase of 10 percentage points as compared with a similar survey in 2002 in which support for such legislation stood at 49% of physicians. Among the general U.S. public, recent polling ratings for single-payer are apparently dependent on how the question is asked, ranging from 49% to 65% in favor.
President Obama is taking a drubbing on the issue from those Blue Dog Democrats who should be stacked on the dead-wood pile along with the Republicans. Blue Dog Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, working on a health care bill, made it clear that “the so-called ‘public option’ would not be part of any deal with his name on it.” Obama, so far, has not said he will demand a public option. He also has not said he will veto a package that omits a government-run health insurance program. This late in the game, he is keeping everyone guessing. But since Obama, himself, was on the take from the insurance industry fat-cats, he may wind up, as well, on the dead-wood pile if that public option doesn’t get into the bill from Congress everybody is waiting for.
People are making book on whether it will or won’t. If not, it’s a no-win option for all Americans, another turn of the Federal Twist. And I don’t mean that pretty place in New Jersey.