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Guest Commentary (4467)


BY Jacqueline Marcus
This morning, on my way home from the market, I was listening to NPR’s Morning Edition and was appalled by Debbie Elliott’s intentionally misleading report on the health care reform option.  Click here to listen to this mild-mannered-FOXTV presentation.  Question: Why choose Alabama for this report?  Why aren’t the mainstream media reporters interviewing people who need an affordable option for health care or those who don’t have insurance at all? The interviews always focus on white, elderly, Republican-conservatives who are both insured and misinformed.  It’s as if all those millions of people without health insurance conveniently disappeared from media coverage, including younger, middle-aged folks.

by Jeff Fleischer

Say this for the Democratic National Committee. Its fundraising e-mail this week, sent under President Obama's name, correctly places the current debate surrounding national health care in context with its opening line: "This is the moment our movement was built for."

As Congress broke for its August recess, however, it's become clear that too many Democrats didn't get that memo. It is the Republicans, not the Democrats, who are proving to fully understand the stakes this issue represents.

Make no mistake. This is the best opportunity America has ever had for the kind of universal health-care reform the rest of the Western democracies long ago embraced. For all the other important domestic priorities Democrats campaigned for last year, health care was the centerpiece of the homefront platform on which they were elected.

The insurance industry is acutely aware of this, just like its allies in Congress. Which is why we've seen the recent all-out, kitchen-sink campaign against reform. Knowing it could be in its death throes, the for-profit health industry is lashing out with all it has left.

by Martha Rosenberg

The debate over the "fitness" of Obama's surgeon general nominee, Dr. Regina Benjamin, for office is raging.

Can the 52-year-old doctor from Alabama, easily 40 pounds overweight, advance a cogent policy for our national obesity without controlling her own fork?

Should we put a convicted drunk driver in charge of highway safety while we're at it? Michael Jackson's doctor in charge of drug enforcement?

Others say the criticism is hypocritical and sexist.

by Amy Branham

It's the fourth anniversary of the day that Cindy Sheehan, Dede Miller and I led the march in the bar ditches to former President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas to ask "What Noble Cause?" We had our faces and stories splashed all over the news that weekend and for weeks and weeks, thanks to the perfect storm created by the mothers of dead soldiers coming to face off with the President and a very, very bored bunch of media sitting and waiting in Crawford, Texas for something, anything to happen.

We walked in that ditch for maybe a mile in the hot August Texas sun and heat, leading a hundred or so of our dearest friends from across Texas who answered the call when they got it. Among us were veterans from across the country who were in Texas for the VFP convention in Dallas who caravaned with us to Crawford. We had Blue Star family members with us, the mothers, wives, sisters, and children of those on active duty in the military. We had people who were peace activists and we had just normal, ordinary people who wanted to lend their voice and support.

Most know what became, eventually, the story of Cindy Sheehan's stand against President Bush. What many of you don't know and haven't heard is the story of healing, peace and comfort I and thousands of others found out there on Prairie Chapel Road behind the scenes, away from the camera crews and media. Today, this is the story I want to tell you.

by Richard A. Stitt

The story of the release of the two journalists is a major blow to the GOP party of No and a blistering defeat for Rush "I want Obama to fail" Limbaugh Dittohead thralls.

The teabaggers and birthers such as Lou Dobbs and Orly Taitz must be going nuts over this story that is great news for our country and a step forward from the years of G. W. Bush's saber-rattling, Axis of Evil bellicose diplomacy.

Adding to the GOP's bad week is the chance that the "cash for clunkers" bill will get through the U.S. Senate giving a needed boost to consumers, car dealers, and the removal of low gas mileage cars from the roads.

How horrible it must be for the GOP so-called leadership -- John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and Eric Cantor -- who must now be feeling some anguish from their commitment to say No to everything in Obama's platform to help our country and ordinary American citizens.

by Michael Winship

As we marvel over the depths of hypocrisy and greed currently plumbed in the health care reform debate, it may help to remember that even Honest Abe Lincoln had his share of tainted colleagues, one of the most notorious of whom was his first Secretary of War, Simon Cameron.

According to Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals," when Lincoln asked radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens how corrupt Cameron was, Stevens paused and replied, "I don't think he would steal a red hot stove." When Cameron objected, Stevens allowed that maybe he was wrong -- implying that the cabinet secretary would steal a hot stove.

Cameron resigned after less than a year in office, plagued by allegations of war profiteering and overall ineptitude. He's largely forgotten now, but something he supposedly said is immortalized in the lexicon of famous sayings about money and government.

"An honest politician," he declared, "is one who when he is bought, stays bought."

by Danny Schechter

The tide of public opinion may be turning against the President. Pollsters report growing skepticism about health care reform, and more active hostility on racial matters, thanks to that "uncalibrated" expression of opinion on the arrest of Professor Gates in his own home. That remark turned him, in the eyes of some, from a small "b" black President into a militant Black Panther, or at least someone who can bashed as such.

These are the new controversial issues with no one right answer, and a noisy debate everywhere, but something else is also going on.

With Democrats fussing among themselves, with Obamacrats forced to rely on corporate media, the right-wing TV and radio stations close ranks behind the most self-righteously-correct ranters having a field day poking, prodding, pummeling, and peeing into cups of their own resentment, hate, and venom.

There is no smear that is beneath them, no inference or insult out of bounds. Lou Dobbs blesses the birthers while that Elmer Gantry of demagoguery, Glenn Beck, meditates on his mountain and pronounces Obama a racist. An Israeli settler refers to our President as "that Arab," and worse.

by Paul Kiel of ProPublica

A growing number of small and midsize banks that received federal bailout money have stopped paying quarterly dividends to the government in order to conserve capital.

The banks, reeling from bad loans, have sometimes been ordered by regulators to stop the payments as part of a rescue plan.

At least 18 banks that received bailout funds are not paying dividends. They range in size from San Francisco-based UCBH Holdings, which received $299 million in taxpayer money [1] and recently announced suspension [2] of the government dividends as part of an "action plan" to strengthen the bank, to tiny community banks. Some have chosen to suspend dividends, while others have been prohibited from paying them by regulators. (See the full list below. [3])

The banks aren't paying dividends only months after being blessed by regulators and the Treasury Department as "healthy [4]." The money was distributed through the government's primary bailout program [5]. As then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson explained [6] last October, the program was aimed at boosting the overall economy by investing in banks that "will deploy, not hoard, their capital."

by Greg Palast

He's in hot water now. For a moment on national television, the President of the United States turned black!

Last week, when his buddy "Skip" Gates got busted for being Black in Boston, Barack Obama forgot his official role: to soothe America's conscience with the happy fairy tale that his election marked the end of racism in the USA.

Instead, Obama, the excruciatingly middle-of-the-road President, was seized by Barack the militant State Senator from the South Side of Chicago, who reminded us that cops bust Black guys for no goddamn good reason all the goddamn time.

I'm reminded that it was not so long ago that we watched the vicious gang-beating by Los Angeles cops of a defenseless, handcuffed, Rodney King, an African-American. King's beating was unusual only in that it was caught on videotape.

Yeah, I know: we've come a hell of a long way. Obama won, Jesse cried, Beyoncé has her own line of perfume and Tiger Woods plays where 30 years ago he couldn't eat lunch.

Good for them.

But what about Robert Pratt, Mr. President?

Wednesday, 29 July 2009 01:27

Andrew Lehman: The Reframing of Success

by Andrew Lehman

A few years ago, Natalie Cole recorded a vocal track on top of one of her father's productions, resulting in a duet between a dead Nat King Cole and his daughter. Drew Friedman, the cartoonist, inked a panel with a skeleton performing with Natalie, suggesting an incongruence in the production. For some, the duet felt contrived.

A unique video emerged on the Web several months ago. In the video, street musicians from cities across Europe, Africa, South America, and the U.S. perform where they live, in the street, with headphones on. They contribute both to the tracks of the performance and to the video that was recording the series of integrated performances. The song is "Stand By Me."

As in the Susan Boyle video, several story lines come together to create a powerful presentation.

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