Posts from — October 2009
Rape, murder, human trafficking, bribery, fraud… These are among the crimes committed by private military contractors working for American taxpayers. Numerous complaints have been filed against them, but the same companies keep right on getting bloated military contracts. As near as I can determine, more than 180,000 civilians work for these military contractors in Afganistan and Iraq.
A handful of companies constantly show up on the list of contract awards, sometimes after changing their names – as Blackwater did (to Xe) following a series of scandals.
Take the case of KBR, formerly Kellogg, Brown & Root, formerly Brown & Root, formerly a part of the Halliburton empire. In one report I found on the web, KBR’s military contracts were estimated at $16 billion.
KBR keeps getting military contracts despite numerous horror stories, and the latest attempt to rein in this tainted contractor is being undermined as I write this blog.
Despite “no” votes from 30 Republican senators, Democrat Al Franken recently managed to get an amendment passed that would bar from defense contracts any companies that deny legal redress to employees who have been sexually assaulted or discriminated against. (It is a common practice for contractors to make employees agree up front to accept arbitration for any complaints instead of taking action through the courts.)
Now, as the House and Senate negotiate a final version of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, which includes the Franken amendment, Senate leaders are considering leaving discrimination victims unprotected.
Franken’s amendment was triggered by the horrific tale of Jamie Leigh Jones (photo at left), who told a Congressional hearing that she had been gang-raped by as many as seven co-workers in Iraq. Jones charged that on July 28, 2005, several of her fellow KBR employees offered her a drink containing a date rape drug, and she took two sips. She said the men then gang-raped her vaginally and anally while she was unconscious. She was able to name one of her attackers, but could not identify the others because she had passed out. According to her subsequent lawsuit, “when she awoke the next morning still affected by the drug, she found her body naked and severely bruised, with lacerations to her vagina and anus, blood running down her leg, her breast implants ruptured, and her pectoral muscles torn – which would later require reconstructive surgery. Upon walking to the rest room, she passed out again.”
When she complained, KBR locked Jones in a shipping container with armed guards at the door, denying her food, water, and medical treatment. But a sympathetic guard gave her a cell phone and she called her father back home in Texas. He contacted Representative Ted Poe, and Poe contacted the State Department. Agents dispatched from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad rescued Jones from KBR.
Jones’ account was confirmed by U.S. Army physician Jodi Schultz, who said she gave KBR/Halliburton security forces the rape kit she used to gather evidence. The rape kit disappeared.
In May 2007, a State Department diplomat recovered the rape kit from Halliburton/KBR. Missing, however, were the notes and the photographs Schultz had taken of Jones the morning following the rape.
Jones has filed suit against KBR even though the contractor claims she signed away her legal rights when she accepted her employment agreement. Her lawyers are arguing that her rape did not occur as a result of normal employment conditions.
She is not the only KBR employee who was raped and whose complaints were suppressed.
Dawn Leamon, who worked for a subsidiary of KBR told the Senate committee she was sodomized and forced to have oral sex with a KBR colleague and a Special Forces soldier. She said that when she reported the incident to KBR supervisors, she met a series of obstacles.
A third witness, Mary Beth Kineston, testified that she had been raped in the cab of her truck by a KBR subcontractor employee at night while waiting in line to fill her water tanker truck. She immediately reported the incident to her supervisors, but no one did a rape kit test, referred her for medical treatment or even offered to escort her back through the dark to her quarters that night.
Jones, who has formed a nonprofit to support other women with similar experiences, says 40 employees of U.S. contractors have contacted her with stories of sexual assault or sexual harassment – and accounts of how Halliburton, KBR and the Cayman Island-based Service Employees International Inc., a KBR shell company, either failed to help them or outright obstructed them.
KBR is guilty of even worse offenses. A recent Pentagon report concluded that the death of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth (photo at right), a decorated Green Beret from Pennsylvania, was caused by KBR’s shoddy work. Maseth was one of three American soldiers electrocuted while showering in Iraq.
It would take a book – and a long one – to describe all the scandals in which KBR has been involved. Yet the company has a decades-old history of preferential treatment by the U.S. military – under both Republican and Democratic administrations. The question is why? Does no one – not even the President – have control over the military brass who hand out contracts?
October 21, 2009 No Comments
Watching television and reading the news in the local paper and on the web, I often find myself recalling Antonio’s words in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”:
Mark you this, Bassanio,
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart:
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
The art of deception has never been so exquisitely performed. We are persuaded to believe the opposite of the truth by the modern virtuosos of this diabolical trade.
In the United States, these professional deceivers are often called public relations professionals or lobbyists – it’s hard to distinguish the difference between the two sets of skills. Today’s lobbyists don’t just focus on twisting the arms of members of Congress, they also are adept at creating “grassroots movements” to mislead the media and put pressure on elected representatives who might assume “the public” has spoken.
The ongoing health care debate provides a cornucopia of diabolical deception. Spurious “studies” abound, phony web sites (deliberately designed to look amateurish) have proliferated, false “facts” and bogus “statistics” cascade from media outlets in a bewildering blizzard of disinformation.
I am sure you can think of many more examples. Some are so blatant as to be laughable – like the unctuous proclamations coming from “the religious right.” But others are much more subtle – like a bill that is racing through Congress with the inspiring but misleading title: The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009.
What could be more worthy than food safety? Obviously the public needs protection from dangerous practices spawned by greed and ignorance – especially in these days of global “free trade.” But from what I gather, this bill (HR 2749) is a cleverly disguised weapon crafted by giant food producers who want to put their small competitors out of business.
The bill would impose the same one-size-fits-all regulatory mechanism on small farms and local producers as on the industrial giants they compete against. If this bill becomes law, most family farms, including organic farms, will be forced out of business.
The masters of deception are marketing this legislation as “a bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to improve the safety of food in the global market, and for other purposes.” But it does nothing of the sort. While it extends U.S. government control over locally produced food, the bill does not address any of the nefarious practices that really endanger our food supply, especially produce from foreign countries.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t suspect that members of Congress pushing this bill are deliberately trying to wipe out the home-grown food industry. Sponsored by Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, it is co-sponsored by a bunch of other Democrats, including Henry Waxman of California, whom I happen to agree with most of the time. But I think they’ve been conned by slick lobbyists. I think masters of deception employed by the giant industrial food producers have hornswoggled them into accepting a nice sounding but scurrilous piece of legislation.
By the way, didn’t I hear candidate Barack Obama promise to rid Washington of those pernicious lobbyists? And is it my imagination or does there seem to be more lobbying going on in Congress now that he’s President Obama?
October 20, 2009 1 Comment
I know you must have feared the worst.
What, no blog since last Wednesday? Had I given up blogging? Had I been silenced by the dreaded swine ‘flu? Had I shuffled off to my eternal reward?
Nothing that dramatic. The Jamaicans.com server crashed and Xavier (the Jamaicans.com mastermind) could restore only so much. Result: The last few blogs I wrote are lost to posterity. Gone. Vanished. Like poof!
But no problem. Posterity will just have to manage without them – somehow.
No fear! I will return to the blogosphere tomorrow and I will make a special effort to be even more enlightening than usual. Stay tuned!
October 19, 2009 4 Comments
I should stop watching CNN and MSNBC and turn to Comedy Central for my news analysis. The way it looks now, Jon Stewart (photo below) is the most reliable source of facts and commentary available on television. That’s sad because Stewart is supposed to be joking. And those 24-hour news channels are supposed to be serious.
But the news channels are so full of lies, damn lies and (false) statistics that I don’t know what to believe any more. Because of cowardice or laziness, or both, media outlets usually cover the news of the day by bringing on representatives of opposing interests and inviting them to recite their set pieces. That makes for pretty shabby television, but what’s really shameful is that the news anchors seldom challenge guests who make stuff up. As far as I can see, only MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow holds guests’ feet to the fire. Chris Matthews tries, I suppose, but as far as I am concerned he does a lousy job. And as for the folks on CNN… well, I am at a loss for words. You’ll have to see for yourself by watching the Comedy Central video below.
Fox News is worse, of course, but at least I know what to expect from them. Fox is the mouthpiece of America’s crazy right-wing movement. The channel long ago abandoned any pretense of being “fair and balanced.”
I’ve complained about the American media’s sloppy political reporting from time to time, and now Jon Stewart has done the definitive critique on the genre. In a recent show, Stewart noted that CNN had gone to the trouble of fact-checking a “Saturday Night Live” skit in which Fred Armisen (playing Barack Obama) claimed to have done “nothing” since taking office. In this hard-hitting report, Stewart noted, CNN found that while many of the president’s initiatives have not moved forward, he has in fact done “something” since taking office. Stewart then went on to air several instances of CNN guests saying spurious things and introducing made-up statistics without being challenged.
Do yourself a favor and view this video of the show:
It’s hilarious, isn’t it? But it left me feeling depressed. How can America solve its increasingly scary problems if the news media does such a poor job of informing the public?
October 14, 2009 No Comments
Surprise! America’s health insurance barons are unhappy with the bill being voted on today by the Senate Finance Committee. Considering they pretty much own Max Baucus (photo at right), the Montana senator who piloted the bill through the committee, and that they dictated most of its provisions, you would think they would be smiling all the way to the bank. But no; they want more.
As I understand it, the main bone of contention is the amount that Americans would be fined if they don’t buy health insurance. The way the insurance industry wrote it, the bill included a fine of more than a thousand dollars for each uninsured adult , but an Oct. 1 amendment trimmed the penalty to zero in 2013, $200 in 2014, $400 in 2015, and $750 by 2017.
That’s just not enough to satisfy the insurance profiteers. It would be cheaper to pay the fines than the premiums, and they would lose a lot of healthy customers. Naturally, that would cut into the companies’ profits.
“If the mandate is not strong enough, why would a healthy 24-year-old buy insurance if they’re not buying it today?” says Frank Cote, senior director of government relations for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, the state’s largest health insurer. “The fear of any insurer is if the mandate is not strong enough, then the new mix of insured will be mostly unhealthy people – and that will increase the cost of insurance.”
The companies aren’t about to let their profits dwindle; they would raise premiums across the board to make up for the extra liability. A report commissioned by the industry warns that in 2019 the typical family premium could cost $4,000 more a year than projected.
Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans (shown talking with reporters at left), has refused to rule out TV ads that would cite the report to attack the Baucus bill. A Baucus spokesman called the report a “hatchet job,” and a lot of Democrats are challenging its validity. But I think they’re missing the point.
Obviously, the Baucus bill is a bonanza for private health insurers. It mandates that everyone in America buy their product or pay a fine. It includes no requirements on how much of an insurer’s income must be paid out in claims and no government-run plan to compete with private companies. And it gives companies the freedom to peddle their policies accross state lines, which they can’t do now.
“(The bill) won’t actually curtail the insurance industry abuses, while mandating that people buy their product,” says Quentin Young, national coordinator for Physicians for a National Health Program, which prefers government-sponsored coverage for all. “The entire bill, in essence, is written for the benefit of the insurance industry.”
Yet it’s just not enough to satisfy the insurers. Their objective is to “maximize profits” not provide coverage for the American public.
Maybe, just maybe, the members of Congress will finally get the point. No reasonable health reform bill will meet the industry’s approval. The companies expect far too much in return for the millions they contributed to politicians’ campaign funds.
It’s time for our elected representatives to stop kowtowing to the industry and concentrate on serving the public. It’s time to concede that the Baucus bill is a failure and enact something sensible, something that provides a government-run alternative to private health insurance.
October 13, 2009 2 Comments
For the first time in its history, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the annual million-dollar-plus Nobel prize for economics to a woman. She is 76-year-old Elinor Ostrom (photo at right), a rather obscure college professor who writes books about managing shared resources. The boo birds who scoffed at President Obama’s peace prize must find this award equally baffling.
Ostrom has labored far from the limelight, studying topics that do not usually attract headlines or television cameras. A native Californian who grew up through the lean years following the Great Depression, she has devoted her career to examining the interaction of people and natural resources.
What she found is encouraging. She concludes that people who use a common resource can manage it wisely without outside supervision. They don’t need a gestapo-like government or a heavy handed corporation to keep them in line, after all.
In awarding her the economics prize for 2009, the academy stated:
Elinor Ostrom has challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized. Based on numerous studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes, and groundwater basins, Ostrom concludes that the outcomes are, more often than not, better than predicted by standard theories.
Before you yawn and rub your eyes, consider the implications of this conclusion. As governments become ever more inefficient and exploitative, as the global financial system’s inherent corruption threatens catastrophic collapse, as resources become ever scarcer and as Big Business becomes ever more rapacious, mankind will inevitably have to find a new way forward. I don’t think any responsible observer would argue that existing institutions are working. For reasons too numerous to list, the end, as they say, could be near.
At least, the end of governance as we know it. But if Ostrom is right, and I think she is, civilization is not doomed. From the ashes of disaster, the phoenix of self-management could emerge, as a chastened populace is forced to fend for themselves. And if I am reading Ostrom’s findings correctly, they will likely do a whole lot better than the people running things today.
October 12, 2009 No Comments
Sandra’s cousin Mike has a back yard that I would like to see featured in one of those glossy landscaping magazines as a change from the usual manicured shrubbery and prim beds of flowers. Mike grows beans and squash, and a whole range of vegetables, behind his house. He has a grape arbor and a greenhouse, and he harvests food not only for his own table but also for his Aunt Tina and other relatives.
I survey Mike’s back yard with envy as I have had no luck with my own agricultural pursuits. Oh, I can go to Home Depot or Wal-Mart, pick up some flowers and stick them in the ground. And some of them even last a while. But I have no luck with anything edible. I can’t even get herbs like basil and mint to survive, let alone tomatoes and pole beans.
I blame the shade from the grandfather oaks and the lack of nutrients in the sandy soil, but I know it’s my own damn fault. I just don’t have the commitment (and know-how) Mike has. Growing food apparently takes a lot of commitment – not to mention back-breaking labor and a hefty upfront investment.
I doubt you can save much money (if any) by growing your own stuff. But I read a report today that shows “hobby farms” are proliferating in America. (Remember how Michelle Obama converted part of the White House lawn into a vegetable garden?)
More and more people are being turned off supermarket produce because they suspect the stuff may not be safe. The report I read talked about genetically modified seeds, banned pesticides that are still permitted in foreign countries, hazardous fertilizers and dubious farming methods that contaminate crops.
It’s a dangerous world out there – driven by unrestrained greed and a lack of responsibility. In their relentless attention to the bottom line, global agricultural interests resort to risky methods and abusive practices. And retailers don’t care how the food is produced; they buy in the cheapest markets as they always have.
I won’t go into the details because they’re too sickening, but if we thought about the way livestock is raised on those big industrial farms, we would never again eat meat, fish or eggs, or drink milk (a mild example is illustrated by photo at right).
No, we can’t all raise our own livestock or farm our own fish. Most of us live in urban areas with rules against that kind of thing. But in most places, we are permitted to grow a few vegetables in the back yard (photo below). And we should -as a protest against the agricultural barons. If enough of us took the trouble to put in a kitchen garden, we could send a message to the industrial farming complexes. We might even get through to our tone-deaf politicians.
If they wanted to, the politicians could create a more friendly environment for hobby farmers. They’re adept at offering tax breaks to big business, for one thing. And the U.S. Government doles out subsidies totaling billions to industrial farming interests. Why not give the back yard farmer a tax break? Or a subsidy?
With encouragement, the day might come when people grow their own food again – not only at farms big or small but also in back yards… Maybe, even on housetops. I read recently that “green roofs” are proving a big energy saver for public buildings. Maybe homeowners could plant crops on their roofs… Yes, I know I’m getting carried away. But wouldn’t you like to stick it to those monsters who abuse animals and endanger our health, and are rewarded with subsidies and tax breaks?
October 11, 2009 1 Comment
I doubt that Alan Grayson will ever win a Nobel Peace Prize. But he is winning the hearts of a lot of Democrats (like me) who have had it up to here with the politically correct presidency of Barack Obama. For months, Obama has endured the worst kinds of insults from “conservatives” without ever hitting back. He is the 95-pound kid who gets sand kicked in his face by the schoolyard bully and who doesn’t take a Charles Atlas course to get even (older readers will remember what I’m talking about; the rest of you can look it up.)
What does he do when some yahoo from South Carolina calls him a liar to his face? He looks disappointed and continues his address to the joint houses of Congress. What does he do when lies are heaped on lies to build a case against health care reform? He gives more speeches and provides patient explanations on his web site. You never hear an unkind word from the guy.
OK I have to admit that’s very … mature. He’s acting like a grownup being besieged by a pack of brats. But how I’ve longed for a big kid to come along and beat up the brats! And the big kid is here. He’s a brawler from the Bronx with the face of an Irish pug and the heart of a lion. His name is Alan Grayson, and he represents the Orlando area in Congress.
Grayson (photo at right) is certainly not politically correct. He grew up tenement tough and cleaned toilets to get through Harvard. You can look at his face and tell he’s taken a few to the chin in his time, and you can look in his eyes and tell he’s given as good as he’s taken.
It was Grayson who finally told the truth about the Republicans’ position on health care reform. It boils down to letting sick people die if they can’t pay for care, he pointed out. Offended, the Republicans demanded an apology, and Grayson apologized – to the 44,000 or more Americans who die every year because they can’t afford health insurance. Grayson added that the GOP should apologize to America, and he called them “knuckle-dragging neanderthals.”
It was Grayson who introduced the Pay for Performance Act, which caps executive pay for companies partially owned by taxpayers (through the bailout program).
And it was Grayson who introduced a bill to ban all fraudulent contractors from further government work after a pusillanimous Congress cut off funding to ACORN, scared to death by a crusade waged by Fox News clown Glenn Beck.
As a member of Congress, he joined Republican Ron Paul in demanding an audit of the Federal Reserve, that financial sacred cow everyone else seems so afraid of.
As a lawyer, he represented whistle blowers in suits against fraudulent government contractors. After the war in Iraq began, he persisted in pursuing such cases despite hostility from the Bush Administration. Congress called on him four times to testify about contractor fraud in Iraq. Taxpayers Against Fraud named him Lawyer of the Year.
Naturally, he is a prime target for Republicans in the next elections. And he knows it. But he stands his ground, ready for the fray. A multimillionaire who spent more than $2 million of his own money in 2008 to win his district, he is receiving a flood of donations from delighted Democrats who have someone to fight for them – at last.
A Huffington Post reader commented recently:
I love him. I love his mind. I love his tie. We’re raiding this weekend’s “Tailgate Fund” and sending the money to Rep. Grayson, and now that I’ve seen him with Rachael Maddow I’m going to send him whatever I get for the tickets too. Go Irish! Win one for Grayson!
October 10, 2009 4 Comments
The Nobel Peace Prize Belongs to Barack’s Mother
I have no way of knowing, of course, but I like to think Stanley Anne Dunham is looking down and smiling this morning. For, of all the improbable honors bestowed on her son, the Nobel Peace Prize would surely please her the most.
Often, when I hear Barack Obama’s ringing rhetoric, I think of his mother, a young white woman from Kansas, with her half-black baby at a time when marriages such as hers were illegal in many American states. I think of her tutoring him by lamplight before the start of the school day, preparing him for a life of meaning and purpose. And I recall a passage in one of his books where he quotes her response to his complaints. “This is no picnic for me, either, Buster,” he remembers her saying.
It certainly was no picnic. This was a woman who had faith in mankind’s better angels, who tried to live according to her convictions despite the overwhelming odds against success. This was a woman who tried to make a difference, and who never gave in to despair. She kept the faith and raised her son to carry the torch of enlightenment in a dark world.
Did she know he would go to Harvard, become an exceptional scholar and a constitutional law professor? Was she preparing him to be a senator? To be America’s first black President? Of course not. She was trying to raise a decent human being – according to her lights.
So, when I listen to the President, and applaud the sentiments that won him the Nobel Peace Prize, I think of Stanley Anne Dunham, her difficult life and untimely death, and I wonder what she might have said if she had lived to see how things turned out.
Sometimes, I wonder whether her son fully understood the words she drilled into him, or whether they’re just words he learned by rote.
Granted, he is operating in a complex and corrupt environment, where hypocrisy and lies are the norm and where evil forces hold enormous power. And granted he must rely on allies who would betray him for a few pieces of silver as quickly as any Judas Iscariot. Yes, I try to understand how hard it must be to do the right thing in such an America – in such a world. But I have yet to be convinced that his actions match his words. Can Barack Obama in good conscience accept the Nobel Peace Prize and send more young Americans to kill and to die in Afghanistan? Will he smile that smile of his and say those words his mother taught him and order more air strikes against villagers across the Pakistani border?
When he listens to the counsels of war and the self-serving lies of the military-industrial power brokers, will he pause for a moment and ask himself what his mother would say?
Tags: Barack Obama;s mother, Nobel Peace Prize, Obama peace prize, Stanley Anne Dunham, U.S. foreign policy, U.S. politics
October 9, 2009 4 Comments
It’s such an old saying that Martin Luther quoted it back in the early fifteen hundreds:
The poets have it, that once upon a time the great mountains were with child, and when everyone expected a child large as a mountain, it proved to be a mouse, which made everybody laugh.
I am sure that when mountains give birth to mice people have a right to be shocked, but when a pack of rats produce a mouse we should have seen it coming. And we’re not laughing. We’re mad as hell. (Well, I don’t know about you, but I know I am.)
Of course I’m talking about the health care reform bill that finally emerged yesterday from the U.S. Senate’s Finance Committee. There’s no way to describe it without using four-letter words that are inadmissible in a family blog. To sum it up kindly, it’s a license for the health insurance industry to print money. If it becomes law, everyone will be required to buy insurance or pay a fine, and there will be no limit on the premiums insurance companies can charge. As for those who can’t afford the premiums, why Uncle Sam will pick up the tab. Good old Uncle Sam, always ready with a handout for those corporate welfare queens.
The rats that American voters naively elected are saying not to worry, this is just a start. They’ll keep gnawing at this aberration until it magically becomes a decent piece of legislation. I’m sure you’ve heard about the “public option” everyone has been talking about? Well, no problem. This bill will have a public option by the time they get through (if such a time ever comes). So what if it’s an option to stand aside and cheer the greedy insurance companies on to commit further abuses? The rats are talking about leaving it up to individual states to decide whether the private insurers need public competition (what a circus that would be!). They’re talking about enabling “co-ops” (and what a sham that would be). They’re talking about “triggers” (hah!). They’re talking and talking and talking…
Now, it’s up to a triumvirate consisting of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (both pictured at right) and Health Committee Chairman Chris Dodd to cobble this piece of … work … together. God help us all!
You would think that reforming the U.S. health care system would be simple. There’s no doubt about the public’s wishes. Poll after poll shows Americans want a decent health care plan with a government run alternative to the highway robbery that passes for private health insurance in America. But if you thought reform would be simple you would be forgetting about the millions of dollars the industry has contributed to the country’s politicians.
To give you an idea of the extent of the prevailing corruption, here’s an excerpt from a recent Boston Globe article:
The health industry has more than enough PAC and campaign contribution cash to shower Democrats of all stripes. At this moment, the top nine recipients of campaign cash from the health sector in the 2010 election cycle are all Democrats, led by the $467,000 for Reid and including $126,000 for House majority leader Steny Hoyer and $125,000 for (House speaker) Pelosi. Reid and Pelosi are also the top PAC recipients from the health sector, with Hoyer coming in fourth.
And here’s a joint report from the the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Responsive Politics:
A month-long collaborative investigation has uncovered never-before-seen webs of campaign contributions from outside lobbyists and their clients, who are all important players in the health care reform, to key members of Congress. The investigation identified outside lobbyists that donated to the same members of Congress as their clients, and strongly suggests that special interest giving is enhanced by the K Street contributors they hire.
Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and author of the main health care reform bill now being debated in the Senate, was one of the biggest beneficiaries of this one-two punch from the lobbyists and their clients. From January 2007 through June 2009, Baucus collected contributions from 37 outside lobbyists representing PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry’s chief trade association, and 36 lobbyists who listed drug maker Amgen Inc. as their client.
And here’s what a publication called The Hill had to say:
Senator Dodd (pictured at right touring a health care facility) has branched out his fund raising operation by tapping health care-related companies for more than $112,000 in the second quarter of 2009. The sum represents a good chunk of the more than $450,000 Dodd accumulated from PACs in the second quarter. In addition, fund raising records reviewed by The Hill show that Dodd accepted contributions from 32 lobbyists representing health care interests between April 1 and June 30, the weeks preceding Dodd’s markup of legislation overhauling the nation’s health care system.
So you can guess whose side the three mouseketeers – Reid, Baucus and Dodd – will be on when they go to to work on that Senate bill today, can’t you?
Look, this is no secret. Everybody who has been paying attention knows Congress is in the pockets of the health care profiteers. It’s not just the Democrats who have sold out; the Republicans were always on the industry’s payroll. And the public is finally disenchanted.
According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll:
Sixty-four percent of voters disapprove of the way Republicans in Congress are doing their jobs, with 25 percent approving. Also, 53 percent had an unfavorable opinion of the party in general, while 25 percent rated it favorably.
The performance of Democratic lawmakers was disapproved of by 56 percent, with 33 expressing approval. For the party in general, 46 percent expressed disapproval, 38 percent approval.
Yes, everybody knows the country is being looted once again, and once again nobody can do anything about it. It seems obvious – to me, anyway – that Congress should forget about the current charade and enact legislation to let Americans of all ages join Medicare. That would need no 60-vote majority. It could be passed without the threat of a Republican filibuster.
So why hasn’t Congress done that? I guess we can find the answer by following the money – as usual.
October 8, 2009 No Comments