Must-see video of Ralph Nader's spot-on analysis...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/17/2009, 1:05pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

In the final analysis, the ideological differences between Republicans and the corporate/controlling sector of the Democratic party are relatively narrow and insignificant as compared to the bi-partisan link to corporate wealth and power --- a link both share with the corporate-owned, mainstream media.

In 2008 it was the insanity that was the Bush/Cheney flirtation with fascism. Today, it's imaginary "death panels" and the undereducated, easily manipulated wing-nut mobs sent to shut down one of the oldest forms of American democracy --- the town hall meeting.

These provide the perfect cover. They permit the more gifted corporate Democrats, for example Barack Obama, to seduce the great masses of working stiffs who make up the American electorate with soaring, but ultimately deceptive, rhetoric; producing brief euphoria on the eve of the last election, followed by no real substantive change.

As the corporate media misdirects focus on brown shirt-like disruptions at the town halls, the real "death panels" --- the corporate profiteers and their bought-and-paid-for politicians --- hammered out a pseudo-reform package that will perpetuate a corrupt, dysfunctional and deadly health care system which kills more than 18,000 Americans each year simply because they can't afford coverage and countless more when carriers refuse to authorize vital, life-saving procedures...

A Business Week piece, "The Health Insurers Have Already Won.” reported: "The carriers have succeeded in redefining the terms of the reform debate to such a degree that no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President Obama this fall, the insurance industry will emerge more profitable."

This back-room deal was, in large measure, cooked up by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Sen. Charles "I-killed-the-death-panels" Grassley (R-IA) inside the corporate occupied confines of the Senate Finance Committee --- a development that should surprise no one given the Washington Post's report that the health and insurance lobby "gave nearly $170 million to federal lawmakers in 2007 and 2008, with 54 percent going to Democrats..." An additional $15.3 million was doled out to federal lawmakers between April and June of this year by the health care sector.

While "30...lawmakers [involved in drafting] health-care legislation have financial holdings in the industry, totaling nearly $11 million worth of personal investments" and while Grassley has certainly collected tidy sums from all sectors of the health care industry, Baucus is the number one recipient of health insurance lobby campaign funds.

Huffington Post exposed an internal White House memo which showed that the President entered a back-room deal with the pharmaceutical industry "to oppose any congressional efforts to use the government's leverage to bargain for lower drug prices or import drugs from Canada." This was followed late Sunday evening by a revelation that the White House was poised to abandon the "public option."

During a recent appearance on Democracy Now, Dr. Howard Dean, the former DNC chairman observed:

72 percent of the American people, including more than 50 percent of Republicans, believe that they ought to have the choice between a public or a private system. This is not a liberal-conservative thing. This is whether you’re going to vote with the health insurance companies or whether you’re going to vote for what 72 percent of your constituencies want.

In light of the numbers, there is only one word to describe these back-room deals --- betrayal!

Perhaps the time has come for Americans, this writer included, to stop accepting the lesser-evil electoral choice and to start paying greater attention to independents like Ralph Nader, beginning with his powerful Aug. 14, 2009 appearance on Democracy Now!.

A choice between the crazies and the corrupt is not much of a choice.

* * *

Epilogue: In an Aug. 16, 2009 New York Times editorial, President Obama writes: "In the end, this isn't about politics. This is about people's lives and livelihoods."

I would dare to go one step further, Mr. President. This is about whether we value the health and very lives of our people above the obscene wealth of a few insurance carrier CEOs and their Wall Street investors.

The history of the corrupt, dysfunctional and deadly U.S. health care system; the repeated failures of expensive "hybrid" plans which simply pour public monies into the coffers of the for-profit carriers by way of subsidies, reveals that the effort to satisfy both corporate greed and the health care needs of our people is a fool's errand.

The back-room deals you and Senator Baucus cut with the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries reveal that you have no right to label what you are doing as "reform." And you know this to be true, Mr. President.

When you were simply a member of the Illinois state legislature, you supported single-payer, which you concede is the only system that would provide coverage for every American. But that was before you envisioned your place in the White House and recognized the corporate monies it would take to get there.

So I'm sorry, Mr. President. I don't buy "this isn't about politics." It goes to the core of American politics --- the politics of corporate wealth and power.

UPDATE 08/17/09: An Aug. 17, 2009 front page article in The New York Times, “’Public Option’ in Health Plan May be Dropped,” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, reveals how the corporate media has conflated the health insurance industry-funded, wing-nut mobs into an excuse for describing “betrayal” as “compromise” --- justified because the “’public option’…emerged as a flashpoint for anger and opposition.”

Stolberg conveniently forgets that a June 2009 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll revealed that 76% of all Americans support a "public option." A Feb. 2009 New York Times/CBS News poll [PDF] revealed that 59% of all Americans favored a national health care system. A Feb. 2009 Grove Insight Opinion Research poll [PDF] found that 60% of all Americans favor Medicare for All, the single-payer concept embodied in H.R. 676.

What we are seeing is a classic case of perception management by the corporate-owned, mainstream media. The same media, which inundates prime time news hours with wing-nut, town hall protests, failed to so much as mention that, in the span of one week, thirteen single-payer advocates were arrested for protesting their exclusion from the discussions of health care "reform" taking place in the Baucus-led Senate Finance Committee. Indeed, as I noted in "Single-Payer and the 'Democracy Deficit,'" the words "single-payer" are rarely mentioned by the corporate media, MSNBC providing the occasional against-the-grain exception. The corporate media essentially ignored the large July 30, 2009 single-payer protest in Washington DC, staged as part of the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Medicare.

By extensive coverage of wing-nuts, the corporate media skewed reality. The "opposition" to a "public option" comes from a tiny but very vocal minority. The Democrats who entered a Faustian bargain that will perpetuate a corrupt health care system that, annually, kills nearly seven times the number of Americans who lost their lives on 9/11 are not, as the Washington Post would have us believe, "moderates." Corruption and betrayal can, by no stretch of the imagination, be seen as a reasonable "compromise."

UPDATE 08/18/09: Credo action is circulating a petition to the Senate Democratic Caucus to remove Max Baucus from his position as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, a position that gives him undue power over health care legislation. You can sign right here.


Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968).

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