Sarah B.

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  • Sarah B. commented on the blog post For Conservatives It Is all About Fox News

    2014-10-22 21:58:36View | Delete

    Great comment, fredcdobbs.

    In many ways the concern-trolling centrists — CNN, NPR, PBS, and I would add the BBC and Bloomberg News to that mix — are the most pernicious in their seamless perpetuation of neoliberalism (because free markets!) and the neocon Washington, European Union, Israeli, and NATO consensus writ large.

    It is much easier to dismiss the ideologues and partisan toadies and sycophants on Fox News and MSNBC, because they are just too obvious. The others are a wee bit more subtle and require more conscious resistance. Always keep the remote locked and loaded and ready to change the channel or simply turn off the TV or radio all together for a quick escape to restore your equilibrium.

    Obama loves the status quo — the centrist corporate media allow him to exert an amazing degree of control over the message and the narrative and the optics without being questioned or challenged by the assortment of hosts and their guests among the referenced venues.

    Certainly, with few exceptions, the corporate print media are no different and follow the same patterns of maximum accommodation of power.

    Remain skeptical and vigilant, because doing so will always serve you well.

  • I wonder if Congressman Grayson would agree that, for the 40 million completely uninsured and the many additional millions of functionally uninsured like Wandrich, the Democratic plan is, “If you get sick, die, and die quickly.”

    Ah, yes, Grandstanding Grayson — aka Grayson the Glib — and not long after he made those legendary remarks on the House floor, he lined up with the rest of the Democratic Party lemmings and one Fake-Socialist Independent from Vermont and voted Yea! on Obamacare.

    Grayson then made the rounds of the liberal/progressive radio and television shows to repeat robotically that he voted for Obamacare “because it saves money and it saves lives” — and, of course, Obamacare saves neither money nor lives.

    That was the moment when the Democrats — and one Fake-Socialist Independent from Vermont — became irretrievably sick and, for all intents and purposes, died…and died quickly!

    I hope the Democrats go down in flames this November — they deserve nothing less — and with regard to Obamacare, I’m still rooting for failure.

    I now refer to Medicaid for those over age 55 as the “real death tax” to paraphrase the word fuckery of evil genius Frank Luntz, who coined the term “death tax” initially to fool most of the people most of the time into believing that taxing the estates of the top 0.1% would be a travesty to small business owners and family farmers, despite the fact that the vast majority them would never have estates large enough to be subject to the estate tax by any stretch of the imagination in a month of Sundays.

    Consequently, the Democrats now have their own version of the “death tax ” — Medicare for those age 55 and over — only the Democrats’ version is real, whereas the Frank Luntz edition was always a cynical (but diabolically clever) fabrication.

  • But if I should get cancer or something big, I pay $3600 and insurance pays the rest.

    Don’t count on it — the part in which your insurance pays the rest.

    Best of luck.

  • New Poll Gives Republicans Eight Point Lead in Generic Ballot Due to Low Democratic Turnout

    With good reason.

    Here is what Tavis Smiley, African-American author, NPR and PBS host, and commentator, had to say about the matter last Sunday on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos:

    Transcript
    http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/week-transcript-ebola-america/story?id=26274550&singlePage=true

    SMILEY: That’s a good point. And I think that issue would probably play better. And a lot of the reasons it might not be the top of the agenda is that Democrats respectfully know that they haven’t even done everything they could have done on this issue. (Emphasis added)

    The slogan that it could have been worse is not a winning slogan. And I think the economy is certainly better now that we expected it would have been a couple years ago. I think the president gets some credit for helping put what policies that have turned this economy around slowly. (Emphasis added)

    Having said that, there’s been no real fight even by Democrats for increasing the minimum wage to a living wage in this country. That measure can only go so far if you don’t have the record to back that up. (Emphasis added)
    [...]
    SMILEY: — exactly, that the black vote is what the Democratic Party is relying upon now to save the Senate. News flash: if you’re relying on the black vote, in a midterm election — and I’m not suggesting that black voters don’t care about this — but if you’re relying on that vote, then I think it’s uninspired because we have double- and triple-digit unemployment in the African American community. (Emphasis added)

    And again, if the message is something other than employment and what we’re going to do for you, then what’s the reason to go vote? (Emphasis added)
    [...]
    SMILEY: But if you’re black or brown, let’s be frank about this. If you’re black or brown, other than helping to save the Democrats’ hide, give me three good reasons and you turn out the vote this time. (Emphasis added)

    Now I’ll catch hell for saying that –
    [...]
    SMILEY: No, I am not suggesting — I’m not suggesting that people ought to stay home and sit on their hands. What I’m suggesting is that neither party has focused clearly enough on the issues of black and brown voters to inspire them and motivate them to turn out in 2014. And we may see the same thing in 2016. (Emphasis added)

    Ouch. Just ouch!

  • Vast Majority of Americans Have No Idea How Health Insurance Actually Works

    There should be no reason for the “vast majority of Americans” — or a vast minority of Americans — to possess particular knowledge of how health insurance actually works. Moreover, what difference would it make if they did possess such knowledge and awareness?

    If people can’t afford the fucking premiums — and if they can’t afford the massively unaffordable deductibles — a person can have a Ph.D. in health insurance and still not be able to use the policy for which they are paying premiums, which, in turn, places significant monetary constraints on that person’s ability to access to medical care, to wit:

    By Abby Goodnough and Robert Pear — October 17, 2014

    Unable to Meet the Deductible or the Doctor
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/18/us/unable-to-meet-the-deductible-or-the-doctor.html?action=click&contentCollection=U.S.&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&pgtype=article

    Patricia Wanderlich got insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year, and with good reason: She suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2011, spending weeks in a hospital intensive care unit, and has a second, smaller aneurysm that needs monitoring.

    But her new plan has a $6,000 annual deductible, meaning that Ms. Wanderlich, who works part time at a landscaping company outside Chicago, has to pay for most of her medical services up to that amount. She is skipping this year’s brain scan and hoping for the best. (Emphasis added)

    “To spend thousands of dollars just making sure it hasn’t grown?” said Ms. Wanderlich, 61. “I don’t have that money.” (Emphasis added)

    It gets worse:

    About 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in private coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than 80 percent qualified for federal subsidies to help with the cost of their monthly premiums. But many are still on the hook for deductibles that can top $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families — the trade-off, insurers say, for keeping premiums for the marketplace plans relatively low. The result is that some people — no firm data exists on how many — say they hesitate to use their new insurance because of the high out-of-pocket costs. (Emphasis added)

    Insurers must cover certain preventive services, like immunizations, cholesterol checks and screening for breast and colon cancer, at no cost to the consumer if the provider is in their network. But for other services and items, like prescription drugs, marketplace customers often have to meet their deductible before insurance starts to help. (Emphasis added)

    While high-deductible plans cover most of the costs of severe illnesses and lengthy hospital stays, protecting against catastrophic debt, those plans may compel people to forgo routine care that could prevent bigger, longer-term health issues, according to experts and research. (Emphasis added)

    “They will cause some people to not get care they should get,” Katherine Hempstead, who directs research on health insurance coverage at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said of high-deductible marketplace plans. “Unfortunately, the people who are attracted to the lower premiums tend to be the ones who are going to have the most trouble coming up with all the cost-sharing if in fact they want to use their health insurance.” (Emphasis added)

    Deductibles for the most popular health plans sold through the new marketplaces are higher than those commonly found in employer-sponsored health plans, according to Margaret A. Nowak, the research director of Breakaway Policy Strategies, a health care consulting company. A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the average deductible for individual coverage in employer-sponsored plans was $1,217 this year. (Emphasis added)

    In comparison, the average deductible for a bronze plan on the exchange — the least expensive coverage — was $5,081 for an individual and $10,386 for a family, according to HealthPocket, a consulting firm. Silver plans, which were the most popular option this year, had average deductibles of $2,907 for an individual and $6,078 for a family. (Emphasis added)

    There is a good reason that explains why people are “attracted” to plans with lower premiums — they look at their monthly expenses and realize that the lower premium is all they can afford and still provide for a roof over their heads, utilities, transportation, groceries, day care for families with children, and auto insurance if they own a car. That doesn’t even include credit cards and student loan debt, which are not uncommon financial burdens these days.

    Consequently, the higher-premium plans — while desirable even for those with vast knowledge and awareness of how health insurance actually works — are untenable because people can’t afford them.

    Plus, HealthCare.gov is not likely to increase health insurance enlightenment and awareness:

    The website for the federal insurance marketplace serving 36 states, HealthCare.gov, strongly encourages consumers to focus on premiums: When consumers search for a plan online, the results are ranked by premium price, with plans offering the lowest premiums listed first. (Emphasis added)

    If your gag-reflex can withstand the pressure, read the entire NYT piece. The anecdotal accounts by actual people with Obamacare policies are both heart-wrenching and infuriating in equal measure…because it didn’t have to be this way.

    More Obamacare bait-and-switch traps:

    People with low incomes may qualify for subsidies that reduce their deductibles, co-payments and other out-of-pocket costs.The assistance is available to people with incomes from 100 percent to 250 percent of the poverty level (from $23,550 to $58,875 for a family of four), but only if they choose a silver plan. (Emphasis added)

    Consumers also benefit from a provision of the Affordable Care Act that limits out-of-pocket costs, which include deductibles. The limit this year is $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family plan. But in general, the limits apply only to care provided by doctors and hospitals in a plan’s network and do not cap charges for out-of-network care. (Emphasis added)

    Back to Ms. Wanderlich — the irony practically writes itself:

    Ms. Wanderlich, who had suffered the brain hemorrhage, was even avoiding preventive care until last month, when she had to get a prescription renewed and her doctor’s office required her to be seen first. Grudgingly, she went for an annual physical exam on Sept. 12. She was relieved to learn that she owed only $30 for the visit; the provider billed her insurer more than $1,200.

    When the next open enrollment period begins on Nov. 15, Ms. Wanderlich said, she will probably switch to a plan with a narrower network of doctors and a smaller deductible. It will probably mean losing her specialists, she said, but at this point she is resigned.

    “A $6,000 deductible — that’s just staggering,” she said. “I never thought I’d say this, but how many minutes until I get Medicare?” (Emphasis added)

    Ms. Wanderlich has Obamacare, but she is counting not the days, but the minutes, until she can, at long last, qualify for Medicare.

    Finally, this is the way in which “health insurance actually works” in real life:

    Health insurance is designed to fuck you hard and your family harder — coming and going and back again — until you can’t afford it anymore and reach critical mass and die.

    Also, too, Aetna, Cigna, United Health Group, Wellpoint, and Humana are all publicly-traded corporations with monopoly cartel status — immune from the anti-trust laws — listed on the NYSE. Since the passage Obamacare, health insurance stocks have been markedly bullish and then some.

  • Golf. That’s for presidents. Maybe they can form a bowling club.

    Don’t tell that to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) — he will be devastated and shocked to learn that golf is just for presidents — and if the GOPers take control of the Senate, I can see Obama inviting an assortment of the new leadership to the White House for drinks and then off to the links to formulate The Grand Bargain 2.0.

    The rest of us will be encouraged to “Lean In” and be ready to embrace Catfood.

  • Sarah B. commented on the blog post Ukraine Army Fired Cluster Bombs On Civilians

    2014-10-21 23:21:50View | Delete

    ZMOG! — If consummate spokesliar Mark Regev said it, then if must be true — and by “the world” he means, of course, the USG and NATO and the Neocons and Ziocons who love them.

    Lucky break for Regev of the Negev and the IDF, because no one — aside from Robert Fisk and his ilk — ever did point a finger at Israel. No one ever does. Gah!

  • Just 11 Percent of Uninsured Know When the Next Open Enrollment Period Is

    And whose fault is that? The HHS? The Obama administration? The Tea Party? Ted Cruz? Rand Paul? The GOPers? The Evil Koch Brothers? AHIP?

    Maybe Obamacare needs a “messaging” czar! — or is that a “massaging” czar?

    Actually, there are many among “the insured” — who have already signed up for and are receiving Obamacare under the state-based exchanges — and who still can’t make it work for them, because they can’t afford the huge deductibles, to wit:

    By Abby Goodnough and Robert Pear — October 17, 2014

    Unable to Meet the Deductible or the Doctor
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/18/us/unable-to-meet-the-deductible-or-the-doctor.html?action=click&contentCollection=U.S.&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&pgtype=article

    Patricia Wanderlich got insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year, and with good reason: She suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2011, spending weeks in a hospital intensive care unit, and has a second, smaller aneurysm that needs monitoring.

    But her new plan has a $6,000 annual deductible, meaning that Ms. Wanderlich, who works part time at a landscaping company outside Chicago, has to pay for most of her medical services up to that amount. She is skipping this year’s brain scan and hoping for the best.

    “To spend thousands of dollars just making sure it hasn’t grown?” said Ms. Wanderlich, 61. “I don’t have that money.”

    But wait! — There’s more!

    About 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in private coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than 80 percent qualified for federal subsidies to help with the cost of their monthly premiums. But many are still on the hook for deductibles that can top $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families — the trade-off, insurers say, for keeping premiums for the marketplace plans relatively low. The result is that some people — no firm data exists on how many — say they hesitate to use their new insurance because of the high out-of-pocket costs.

    Insurers must cover certain preventive services, like immunizations, cholesterol checks and screening for breast and colon cancer, at no cost to the consumer if the provider is in their network. But for other services and items, like prescription drugs, marketplace customers often have to meet their deductible before insurance starts to help.

    While high-deductible plans cover most of the costs of severe illnesses and lengthy hospital stays, protecting against catastrophic debt, those plans may compel people to forgo routine care that could prevent bigger, longer-term health issues, according to experts and research. (Emphasis added)

    “They will cause some people to not get care they should get,” Katherine Hempstead, who directs research on health insurance coverage at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said of high-deductible marketplace plans. “Unfortunately, the people who are attracted to the lower premiums tend to be the ones who are going to have the most trouble coming up with all the cost-sharing if in fact they want to use their health insurance.” (Emphasis added)

    Deductibles for the most popular health plans sold through the new marketplaces are higher than those commonly found in employer-sponsored health plans, according to Margaret A. Nowak, the research director of Breakaway Policy Strategies, a health care consulting company. A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the average deductible for individual coverage in employer-sponsored plans was $1,217 this year. (Emphasis added)

    In comparison, the average deductible for a bronze plan on the exchange — the least expensive coverage — was $5,081 for an individual and $10,386 for a family, according to HealthPocket, a consulting firm. Silver plans, which were the most popular option this year, had average deductibles of $2,907 for an individual and $6,078 for a family.

    Realistically, how may single middle-class wage earners, and/or married couples and families, can afford to pay that much money out-of-pocket on an annual basis these days? Very few.

    For many people, it will mean putting those charges onto credit cards, taking on more personal debt, or filing for bankruptcy, or just deciding to forego needed medical care because the deductible is just not affordable under the “Affordable Care Act.”

    Read the rest, but only if your gag-reflex can withstand the real-life accounts by people who have been adversely affected by Obamacare.

    Ms. Wanderlich, who had suffered the brain hemorrhage, was even avoiding preventive care until last month, when she had to get a prescription renewed and her doctor’s office required her to be seen first. Grudgingly, she went for an annual physical exam on Sept. 12. She was relieved to learn that she owed only $30 for the visit; the provider billed her insurer more than $1,200.

    When the next open enrollment period begins on Nov. 15, Ms. Wanderlich said, she will probably switch to a plan with a narrower network of doctors and a smaller deductible. It will probably mean losing her specialists, she said, but at this point she is resigned.

    Are self-sacrifice and resignation the best we can expect from Obamacare?

    The money quote from Ms. Wandrlich:

    “A $6,000 deductible — that’s just staggering,” she said. “I never thought I’d say this, but how many minutes until I get Medicare?”

    So, Ms. Wanderlich is eagerly longing for the day when she is finally eligible to sign up for Medicare. Can you blame her?

    Maybe people just don’t want to know the dates of the next open enrollment period, because they are filled with dread at the prospect that next year’s premiums and deductibles will probably mean more new out-of-pocket expenses that their meager household budgets can ill afford. Go figure.

  • If they don’t, they might as well disband themselves and go play golf.

    There is someone in the Oval Office who is always game for 18 holes — Mission Accomplished!

    Actually, if the Senate Intelligence Committee had even the nascent vestiges of a spine, that report would have been made public already. If they were any more gelatinous, they would not be able to get out of bed to collect their fat paychecks, whore for campaign contributions, and enjoy their lavish perquisites.

    I suspect that Obama would much prefer to put off releasing the torture report to the public until after the election — the 2016 election. Or better yet, after the Inauguration in January 2017, when he is eagerly heading out of town to embrace his fortune.

  • Sarah B. commented on the blog post Ukraine Army Fired Cluster Bombs On Civilians

    2014-10-21 19:10:17View | Delete

    Human Rights Watch said it believed both sides used cluster bombs – something the Times could not confirm – but that its strongest evidence was that the Ukraine Army used them in the early October attacks.

    Typical Human Rights Watch report — “both sides do it, but one side does it slightly more” — despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary. The dust and cobwebs are already accumulating on the shelf.

    HRW issues the same hedged bets with regard to the IDF’s multiple and serial atrocities perpetrated on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, with little regard for the origins of the conflict and/or the disproportionate advantages which the U.S. funded, supported, and armed stooge governments exert over the rebels or separatists or militants or terrorists or whatever demonizing epithet du jour is in fashion at the time.

    The IDF used cluster bombs on Southern Lebanon during its war on that beleaguered country in 2006. Robert Fisk published first-hand reports of their use and the fact that the provenance could be traced to the USA in The Independent at the time.

    Surely, Obama and Kerry and Rice and Power will soon be screeching that it was Putin wot done it.

  • Why aren’t they doing as we say?

    You will have to ask the Saudis.

    Perhaps, the reason is that the Saudis don’t give a crap about what “we” say, as opposed to relying instead upon what “we” do, which is to continue to grovel and flatter and placate and defend them while selling them gazillions of dollars worth of high-tech military hardware an annual basis, and all this in conjunction with a willingness to turn a blind eye to the Kingdom’s grotesque human rights abuses and violations and crimes against humanity. Do you suppose the nature of that relationship might explain the phenomenon?

    You offer quite a rationale regarding what passes for “justice” in Saudi Arabia based on your personal hunches and beliefs — it reads more like wishful thinking than an analysis based on documented facts and evidence — but the information is there if you are willing to allow reality to intrude on your fantasies:

    Human rights in Saudi Arabia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Saudi_Arabia

    Corporal and capital punishment

    Saudi Arabia is one of approximately thirty countries in the world with judicial corporal punishment. In Saudi Arabia’s case this includes amputations of hands and feet for robbery, and flogging for lesser crimes such as “sexual deviance” and drunkenness.

    In the 2000s, it was reported that women were sentenced to lashes for adultery; the women were actually victims of rape, but because they could not prove who the perpetrators were, they were deemed guilty of committing adultery. [...]

    In 2004, the United Nations Committee Against Torture criticized Saudi Arabia over the amputations and floggings it carries out under Sharia. The Saudi delegation responded by defending “legal traditions” held since the inception of Islam 1,400 years ago and rejected interference in its legal system.

    The information on the Wiki page is drawn from numerous reliable sources — U.S. and international news reports, articles from scholarly journals, and investigations and well-documented reports carried out by the United Nations and the leading human rights groups. See the References.

    Just use the Google to search for Saudi Arabia and Amnesty International — or Saudi Arabia and Human Rights Watch — and you will be inundated with the vast wealth of documented accounts of crime and punishment in Saudi Arabia.

    Like the Israelis — “our” other BFFs in the Middle East — the Saudis carry out their multiple and serial atrocities with impunity.

    To borrow one of Obama’s favorite expressions, “we” have their back.

  • CIA Agents Reportedly Impersonated Senate Staffers While Torture Report Was Being Produced

    This truly explosive report by Ali Watkins and Ryan Grim reveals the extreme lengths to which the Obama Crime Family is prepared to go to protect the Bush Crime Family — apparently, to the ends of the earth and back if that’s what it takes — to guard the “Family” secrets and to protect the guilty and complicit (which now includes themselves).

    If only we had an independent U.S. Attorney General presiding over a Department of Justice with the determination and willingness to conduct serious investigations and prosecutions. But, what do we get instead of justice and adherence to the rule of law? [*Crickets*]

    Criminal convictions are, of course, the province of the jury, and sentencing the province of the judge, but the DOJ under Eric Holder hasn’t even bothered to try to make the effort to investigate and prosecute those in high places. Moreover, the relevant oversight committees in the House and Senate have willfully abdicated their responsibility to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the voters who put them in office in equal measure. Shameful, indeed.

    Kudos to Watkins and Grim for committing an act of great journalism.

  • Sarah B. commented on the blog post For Conservatives it is all About Fox News

    2014-10-21 13:42:37View | Delete

    But you have shattered my image of Jon.

    I believe there is a good chance that you will recover with minimal effort and a couple of Dos Equis (or more as needed) to ease the pain.

    Actually, I thought it would be more unkind to allow your longing for pie charts and bar graphs too go unheeded when there is no need to languish in vain.

    Sometimes reality can be its own reward.

  • Sarah B. commented on the blog post US Aid In Syria Going To ISIS

    2014-10-21 12:54:09View | Delete

    We’ve got to keep in mind that President Obama plays chess, not checkers.

    Try Tiddlywinks — you will then, at long last, experience the delirious bliss of reality.

  • Sarah B. commented on the blog post For Conservatives it is all About Fox News

    2014-10-21 12:21:21View | Delete

    Jon…..JON….unless you can convert that into a bar graph or a pie chart I’m totally lost.

    If you want pie charts and bar graphs, you will find them here at the Pew Research Journalism Project website:

    Political Polarization & Media Habits
    http://www.journalism.org/2014/10/21/political-polarization-media-habits/

    That’s where Jon gets them…or at the Gallup website, if it’s a Gallup poll.

  • I take it you use the fox distortion translator to understand what Obama say??

    Clearly, you have a taste for red-herring given the fact that I don’t watch Fox News and have no idea what transpires on that network. But your reference to the Fox “distortion translator” suggests that you possess a greater knowledge and familiarity with that network than I could muster in a light-year of Sundays.

    This is where I gleaned the letter and the spirit of Obama’s speech on Syria:

    October 18, 2011

    By Scott Wilson and Joby Warrick

    Assad must go, Obama says
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/assad-must-go-obama-says/2011/08/18/gIQAelheOJ_story.html

    Does it really require the Fox “distortion translator” to get from “[The] time has come for President Assad to step aside” to “Assad must go!”? Obviously, the reporters and editors at the WaPo didn’t think so.

    While Obama was delivering those high-minded words that “The future of Syria must be determined by its people,” the U.S. and its NATO allies were in their fifth month of bombing Libya back to the Stone Age in a campaign that began with declarations that “Gaddafi must go!” to the hasty imposition of a no-fly zone under the aegis of UN Security Resolution 1973.

    On March 19, 2011, military operations against Libya commenced with American and British naval forces firing over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles and the French Air Force, British Royal Air Force, and Royal Canadian Air Force undertaking sorties across Libya in conjunction with a naval blockade by Coalition forces.

    On October 20, 2011, Muammar Gaddafi was turned over to a braying lunch mob, Hillary Clinton cackled at the news of his bloody demise, and the U.S. and NATO announced that their mission in Libya would end on October 31, 2011. Mission Accomplished!

    Today, Libya is not just a failed state, it is a Hellscape — the U.S Embassy in Tripoli has been evacuated and all personnel have fled to Tunisia — and one of the competing militias has taken over the complex, while the vast assortment of militias continue to ravage the country from one end of the Mediterranean to the other staking out turf and battling for control of the airport and the oil resources.

    Today, Syria is also a Hellscape, and the fate of the Syrian people — millions of whom have fled to neighboring Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan to live in refugee camps — is now being decided by ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, the U.S., its NATO allies, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the UAE — and Bashar al-Assad is still managing to hold on to power and will continue to do so until the presidential compound in Damascus is blasted into rubble by a massive barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles.

    If Obama’s mantra was that “Bush must go!” in 2004, then perhaps you could explain why he chose to morph into Bush (and worse) between 2008 and 2014?

    Plus, don’t look now, but Yemen — another of Obama’s favorite targets for missile strikes, drone attacks, and assassinations, and a failed state by any definition you care to apply — is on the verge of becoming the next Hellscape:

    The Houthi coup in Yemen is a new political era that may end in ruin
    http://qz.com/283579/the-houthi-coup-in-yemen-is-a-new-political-era-that-may-end-in-ruin/

    In September 2014, Yemen entered into a new political era. The Houthis, a Zaidi Shia revivalist group with a militant wing ended their month-long demonstrations in Sana’a after government forces killed nine peaceful protesters. Houthi fighters amassed in northern Sana’a, defending their positions and taking back that which was controlled by their rivals: the government and opposition tribes. After four days of fighting, the Houthis—once a small rag-tag group of rebels from the north—controlled the State TV, Ministry of Interior, and the infamous army Firqa Camp, commanded by their archrival Ali Mohsen al Ahmad.

    The recent U.S. bombing of Syria now brings to seven the number of Muslim countries which Obama has bombed since his Inauguration in 2009.

    You serve red-herring as the apéritif and crow on a bed of straw men for dessert:

    Do you think Obama was wrong and should have invaded Syria to remove Assad instead of leaving that for the Syrians?

    It should be obvious from my initial comment — and every comment I have ever posted at FDL — that I am opposed to any U.S. intervention in Syria, whether an overt invasion or a covert CIA-driven proxy war with arms and fighters being supplied by the U.S. and its rogues’ gallery of allies and sinister partners in crime.

    And whom do you mean when you speak of “the Syrians” in that complex landscape? The Alawites (a branch of the Shias)? The Shias? The Sunnis? The Christians (Syriac, Chaldean, Assyrian, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic)? The Druze? The Kurds? Obama, like Bush before him, speaks of the “Iraqi people” and the “Egyptian people” and “Libyan people” and the “Syrian people” as if those societies were as homogeneous as Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. The Bush and Obama failures are matched only by their hubris.

    PS — I posted my comment about the grotesque and diabolical Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a reason — if the U.S. wanted a rich and deserving target for regime change, they need look no further. How about several months of U.S. and NATO Tomahawk cruise missiles raining down on Riyadh and Jeddah? Or, how about this?

    “King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz must go!”

  • Saudi Arabia Ramps Up Beheadings As US Condemns ISIS For Beheadings

    Saudi Arabia = Beheadings R Us! — Beheadings and Stonings and Crucifixions, Too!

    Capital punishment in Saudi Arabia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_Saudi_Arabia

    The use of capital punishment in Saudi Arabia is based on Sharia (or Islamic law) and is prominent internationally because of the wide range of crimes which can result in the death penalty and because it is usually carried out by public beheading.

    In 2011, the Saudi government reported 26 executions in the country. Amnesty International counted a minimum of 79 in 2013. Foreigners are not exempt, accounting for “almost half” of executions in 2013.

    Unlike executions in most other countries that have not abolished the death penalty, executions of offenders are not performed privately in prisons, but publicly in central Riyadh, and have been called the “only form of public entertainment” in Saudi Arabia “apart from football matches”. It is one of the last four countries to still carry out public executions.

    Methods and Scope

    Saudi Arabia has a criminal justice system based on a hardline and literal form of Sharia law reflecting a particular state-sanctioned interpretation of Islam (Wahhabism).

    The death penalty can be imposed for a wide range of offences including murder, rape, false prophecy, blasphemy, armed robbery, repeated drug use, apostasy, adultery, witchcraft and sorcery and can be carried out by beheading with a sword, or more rarely by firing squad, and sometimes by stoning.

    The 345 reported executions between 2007 and 2010 were all carried out by public beheading. The last reported execution for sorcery took place in August 2014. There were no reports of stoning between 2007 and 2010, but between 1981 and 1992 there were four cases of execution by stoning reported.

    Crucifixion of the beheaded body is sometimes ordered. For example, in 2009, the Saudi Gazette reported that “An Abha court has sentenced the leader of an armed gang to death and three-day crucifixion (public displaying of the beheaded body) and six other gang members to beheading for their role in jewelry store robberies in Asir.” (This practice resembles gibbeting, in which the entire body is displayed).

    Saudi law is extremely generous vis-à-vis the number of death penalty crimes and quite creative in the methods of execution, to wit:

    • Adultery (Unmarried adulterers can be sentenced to 100 lashes, married ones can be sentenced to stoning)

    • Apostasy (Apostates are sentenced to beheading but are usually given three days to repent and return to Islam)

    • Sodomy, homosexuality, or lesbianism (If a man or woman is sodomized by their own consent, then they will also be sentenced to death along with the sodomizer)

    • Armed robbery
    • Blasphemy
    • Burglary
    • Carjacking
    • Aircraft hijacking
    • Drug smuggling
    • Fornication
    • Home invasion
    • Idolatry
    • Murder
    • Rape
    • Sedition
    • Sexual misconduct
    • Sorcery
    • Terrorism
    • Theft (fourth conviction)
    • Treason
    • Waging war on God
    • Witchcraft.

    But there is nuanced fine tuning for some crimes and punishments.

    Adultery offers a case in point. In order for an individual to be convicted in a Saudi sharia court of adultery, he/she must confess to the act three times in front of the court, or four males or eight females who witnessed the sexual penetration must testify in front of the court. The burden of proof is on the accuser.

    Murder is much more dicey than adultery. Murder is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. But, if a murderer pays a family of the victim blood money, and the family approves of the choice, the murderer will not be executed. The criminal justice system waits until the family makes a decision on whether the family of the victim will accept blood money.

    If the family of the victim chooses to have the murderer executed, the family has the right to execute the convicted. Saudi scholar and author, Sandra Mackey, reports that the most gruesome beheadings are those carried out by the victim’s relatives where, lacking the professionalism of the public executioner, the condemned is repeatedly hacked and chopped until he dies.

    The Saudis execute foreign workers on a regular basis. According to figures by Amnesty International, in 2010 at least 27 migrant workers were executed and, as of January 2013, more than 45 foreign maids were on death row awaiting execution.

    What an ingenious and cunning plan by Barack Obama to send the Syrian “moderate” fighters to Saudi Arabia for “training” (indoctrination in Wahhabism) to fight ISIS — especially, given that ISIS is funded and supplied by the Saudis — and then once ISIS has been “degraded and destroyed” at long last, the “moderates” can get on with the dirty business of overthrowing Bashar al-Assad.

    Because, of course, “Assad must go!” — Obama said so.

    (Acknowledgements to Wiki)

  • Sarah B. commented on the blog post Sensible Leadership On Economics In Real Life

    2014-10-19 18:49:20View | Delete

    karenjj2

    Thanks for that.

    I eagerly awaited the release to the public of that vaunted one-time audit of the Fed by the GAO, and I don’t know which factor I was shocked and dismayed by more — the $16 trillion plus looted not just by the banks, both foreign and domestic, but by the giant multinational corporations as well! — or by the shameful nothingburger reponse to the GAO Report by Obama and his administration and members of the House and Senate, Democrats and GOPers alike, and by the corporate media and even much of the alternative media. The story came briefly to light and then vanished just as quickly down the memory hole never to be revisited again.

    The Dems and the GOPers can be remarkably bipartisan, both in acts of omission and commission, when it suits them and when their campaign coffers are lavished with contributions in the process.

    It really is telling that no one, not even the Fake Socialist from Vermont — “I’m not a Democrat, but I caucus with the Democrats” — has pushed for another GAO audit of the Fed, let alone a call for audits to be conducted at regular intervals, perhaps every two years, given the power which that private, secretive, cloistered banking cabal inside the Temple wields over shaping monetary policy that affects the entire economy. Go figure.

  • Sarah B. commented on the blog post Sensible Leadership On Economics In Real Life

    2014-10-19 16:50:37View | Delete

    It’s good to see the President rejecting this nonsense, and doing it in front of a crowd likely to benefit from the [trickle-down] theory.

    George Will — of all people! — totally disagrees with your assessment, to wit:

    October 3, 2014

    George Will: Obama Is Practicing Trickle-Down Economics [video]
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/10/03/george_will_obama_is_practicing_trickle-down_economics.html

    GEORGE WILL: The president went to the state of Illinois to brag about the economy. Illinois has 300,000 fewer jobs than it had in 2008. For the last four years in the state of Illinois, the number of new food stamp recipients has increased twice as fast as the number of new job recipients. He was speaking in Illinois on a college campus. He did not mention that 40 percent of recent college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed — that is, in jobs that don’t require college degrees — and one in three recent college graduates is living at home with their parents.

    Now, the president, we just heard, disparage trickle-down economics while bragging about doubling the stock market value. He is practicing trickle-down economics by doubling the stock market. He, and, for six years now, and most recently under his choice to be head of the Fed, Janet Yellen, have had zero interest rates, the intended effect of which is to drive people out of bonds and into assets like farm land, but particularly into stocks. That is why this has been a boon to the 10 percent of Americans who own 80 percent of all the directly owned stocks. And this is why 95 percent of the wealth created in the last six years have gone to the dreaded top one percent. (Emphasis added)

    While I am no fan of George Will, not even by even the wildest stretches of the imaginaion, I find it difficult, if not impossible, to find fault with his argument that Obama has been Godzilla on trickle-down and feathering the nests of the dreaded 1% and worse, the diabolical 0.1% , which includes the evil Koch Brothers!

    Consequently, 95% of wealth creation for the top 1% and 0.1% — and 5% for the 99% — is hardly a winning recipe for narrowing the income inequality gap in this country any time in the foreseeable future, and that will be Obama’s legacy, like it or not.

    Obama nominated Janet Yellen to serve as Fed Chair, and he also renominated her predecessor Ben Bernanke, who had been nominated by Goerge W. Bush to replace Alan Greenspan. That’s quite a rogues’ gallery even for the Federal Reserve Crime Family.

    Obama also nominated Timothy Geithner, former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — who presided over the New York Fed in the years before, during, and after the Wall Street crash of 2008 — to serve as his Secretary of Treasury and to oversee the continued rounds of bailouts funneled to the top Too-Big-To-Fail banks under TARP and its various iterations and to protect the banksters (many of whom were Obama’s campaign contributors) from criminal prosecution. Mission Accomplished.

    Before his tenure at the New York Fed, Geithner served as director of the Policy Development and Review Department (2001–2003) at the International Monetary Fund — it really doesn’t get more neoliberal and trickle-down than the IMF — wealth and prosperity for the select flew, and austerity and pain for the unfortunate many.

    Plus, Janet Yellen is only sloppy seconds — Obama’s first choice for Fed Chair was Larry Summers!

    Gevalt.

  • Sarah B. commented on the blog post Sensible Leadership On Economics In Real Life

    2014-10-19 15:29:53View | Delete

    Sensible Leadership On Economics In Real Life

    Lakshman Achuthan, financial analyst and co-founder of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI), is not happy with Janet Yellen’s speech on income inequality and calls bullshit:

    October 17, 2014

    Let Them Eat Cake
    https://www.businesscycle.com/ecri-reports-indexes/report-summary-details/yellen-let-them-eat-cake-retire-income

    According to the Fed’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances, the top 10% of U.S. families are doing just fine, and those in the bottom fifth are essentially being kept afloat by transfer payments; but the inflation-adjusted median family income has shrunk by one-eighth since 2004. Quite simply, middle-class incomes are being gutted. (Emphasis added)

    [C]iting that same survey, Ms. Yellen expressed concern about “lower-income families without assets” that “can end up, very suddenly, off the road.” She therefore advised families to “take the small steps that over time can lead to the accumulation of considerable assets.” She did not, however, explain how they were to accumulate these assets, in light of falling incomes and zero interest rates. (Emphasis added)

    This uncomfortable disconnect between theory and reality also came out during her Senate confirmation hearings last fall. Given the predicament of “the little person out there who is just trying to pay the bills and maybe put a buck away for retirement,” Ms. Yellen was asked to “explain to the senior citizen who is just hoping that CD will earn some money” the impact of “a policy that says, for as far as the eye can see … keep interest rates low.” She replied: “I understand … that savers are hurt by this policy, [but] savers wear a lot of different hats… They may be retirees who are hoping to get part-time work in order to supplement their income.” (Emphasis added)

    The money quote:

    In essence, despite a zero interest rate policy that mainly helps the wealthy, struggling families with falling incomes ought to take steps to accumulate “considerable assets,” as retirees take part-time jobs to make ends meet. Let them eat cake, indeed. (Emphasis added)

    Yellen’s public relations Inequality Tour would be laughable were it not so tragic for those who now feel they are forever trapped in a rotten economy made worse and perpetuated by the current Fed Chair and her self-serving predecessors over the past 60 plus years, but most acutely since the Wall Street crash of 2008 and subsequent bailouts of the banks.

    Like her fellow elites at the top of the socioeconomic pyramid, Yellen’s speech on income inequality from inside the bubble was patronizing, condescending, feckless, and mind-numbing in its failure to apprehend a clue that might help her to understand and explain the fundamental causes of the problems facing so many Americans six years after the Wall Street crash of 2008. Moreover, she was incapable of offering any meaningful suggestions or solutions that would narrow the income inequality gap in the near term or in the future.

    Fed Chair Janet Yellen should stick to what she does best — QE to Infinity, Operation Twist, ZIRP and NIRP — “printing” money which benefits the rich and powerful and buying up toxic paper and U.S. Treasuries in secret with the full knowledge, comfort, and confidence that the Fed will never be audited (again) or subject to scrutiny by inferiors and subordinates positioned outside the Temple.

    The first ever one-time GAO audit of the Federal Reserve was carried out due to the Ron Paul, Alan Grayson Amendment to the Dodd-Frank bill, which passed in July 2010. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) led the charge for a Federal Reserve audit in the Senate, but watered down the original language of the house bill (HR 1207), so that a complete audit would not be carried out — clearly, an example of the Fake-Socialist at his bipartisan worst.

    On July 21, 2011, the first and only top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve was released to the public. The GAO Report revealed astonishing new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 Trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and multinational corporations — including General Electric, McDonald’s, Caterpillar, Harley Davidson, Toyota and Verizon — during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

    What was the consequence or lasting significance of that one-time audit of the Fed? [*Crickets*]

    If you’re seeking sensible leadership on economics in real life, the Fed Chair, whether Janet Yellen or her predecessors, would be the last place to look. Simply mouthing the words “income inequality” because it is a favorite topic du jour in the wake of Thomas Piketty’s laborious tome — her blinkered suggestions for “the little guy” and seniors notwithstanding — without offering any concrete solutions or correctives for the problem, Yellen’s speech is little more than public relations.

    In keeping with Ben Bernanke’s plan to taper QE3 to zero, Yellen is winding down the Fed’s asset purchases on October 31, 2014. But, if the markets get really jiggy and volatile and beyond of the capacity of the Plunge Protection Team to set the algos to “Buy!” to save the day (or the week), she can return to metaphorical “print” mode and commence with QE3.5 or QE4. Plus, the Fed’s discount window is still set at ZIRP.

    PS — I submitted a version of this comment on BrandonJ’s Roundup but decided to repurpose it here since this thread pertains more specifically to Yellen and her speech.

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