Nader, Kucinich call Libya action “impeachable” March 21, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Barack Obama, Libya, War.
Tags: congress, constitution, impeach, impeachable, kucinich, libya, nader, Obama, peter finocchiaro, roger hollander, war
Monday, Mar 21, 2011 17:37 ET
Outspoken critics on the left are raising hell over the Obama administration’s authorization of military force in Libya, calling it “unconstitutional.” Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader recently rattled off a list of U.S. military and intelligence directives — apparently including action in Libya — that he views as egregious violations of international law and grounds for impeachment:
Why don’t we say what’s on the minds of many legal experts; that the Obama administration is committing war crimes and if Bush should have been impeached, Obama should be impeached.
Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich made a similar statement today. In particular, Kucinich castigated Obama for pursuing military intervention in Libya without congressional authorization:
President Obama moved forward without Congress approving. He didn’t have Congressional authorization, he has gone against the Constitution, and that’s got to be said. It’s not even disputable, this isn’t even a close question. Such an action … is a grave decision that cannot be made by the president alone.
Kucinich’s and Nader’s arguments against the constitutionality of Obama’s authorization of force are based on an interpretation of the War Power Act. Passed by Congress in 1973 — after a decade-long quagmire in Vietnam — the legislation requires the president to inform Congress within 48 hours of any U.S. military attack where national security is not at stake. President Obama submitted such a letter to House Speaker John Boehner today. Beyond that, the Act mandates that the commander in chief seek congressional approval after 60 days of military action.
Is the House Health Care Bill Better than Nothing? November 9, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Health.
Tags: conyers, health, health care, health care reform, health costs, health insurance, healthcare, healthcare reform, insurance industry, kucinich, marcia angell, Medicaid, medicare, private health insurance, public option, roger hollander, single payer
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Well, the House health reform bill — known to Republicans as the Government Takeover — finally passed after one of Congress’s longer, less enlightening debates. Two stalwarts of the single-payer movement split their votes; John Conyers voted for it; Dennis Kucinich against. Kucinich was right.
Conservative rhetoric notwithstanding, the House bill is not a “government takeover.” I wish it were. Instead, it enshrines and subsidizes the “takeover” by the investor-owned insurance industry that occurred after the failure of the Clinton reform effort in 1994. To be sure, the bill has a few good provisions (expansion of Medicaid, for example), but they are marginal. It also provides for some regulation of the industry (no denial of coverage because of pre-existing conditions, for example), but since it doesn’t regulate premiums, the industry can respond to any regulation that threatens its profits by simply raising its rates. The bill also does very little to curb the perverse incentives that lead doctors to over-treat the well-insured. And quite apart from its content, the bill is so complicated and convoluted that it would take a staggering apparatus to administer it and try to enforce its regulations.
What does the insurance industry get out of it? Tens of millions of new customers, courtesy of the mandate and taxpayer subsidies. And not just any kind of customer, but the youngest, healthiest customers — those least likely to use their insurance. The bill permits insurers to charge twice as much for older people as for younger ones. So older under-65′s will be more likely to go without insurance, even if they have to pay fines. That’s OK with the industry, since these would be among their sickest customers. (Shouldn’t age be considered a pre-existing condition?)
Insurers also won’t have to cover those younger people most likely to get sick, because they will tend to use the public option (which is not an “option” at all, but a program projected to cover only 6 million uninsured Americans). So instead of the public option providing competition for the insurance industry, as originally envisioned, it’s been turned into a dumping ground for a small number of people whom private insurers would rather not have to cover anyway.
If a similar bill emerges from the Senate and the reconciliation process, and is ultimately passed, what will happen?
First, health costs will continue to skyrocket, even faster than they are now, as taxpayer dollars are pumped into the private sector. The response of payers — government and employers — will be to shrink benefits and increase deductibles and co-payments. Yes, more people will have insurance, but it will cover less and less, and be more expensive to use.
But, you say, the Congressional Budget Office has said the House bill will be a little better than budget-neutral over ten years. That may be, although the assumptions are arguable. Note, though, that the CBO is not concerned with total health costs, only with costs to the government. And it is particularly concerned with Medicare, the biggest contributor to federal deficits. The House bill would take money out of Medicare, and divert it to the private sector and, to some extent, to Medicaid. The remaining costs of the legislation would be paid for by taxes on the wealthy. But although the bill might pay for itself, it does nothing to solve the problem of runaway inflation in the system as a whole. It’s a shell game in which money is moved from one part of our fragmented system to another.
Here is my program for real reform:
Recommendation #1: Drop the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 55. This should be an expansion of traditional Medicare, not a new program. Gradually, over several years, drop the age decade by decade, until everyone is covered by Medicare. Costs: Obviously, this would increase Medicare costs, but it would help decrease costs to the health system as a whole, because Medicare is so much more efficient (overhead of about 3% vs. 20% for private insurance). And it’s a better program, because it ensures that everyone has access to a uniform package of benefits.
Recommendation #2: Increase Medicare fees for primary care doctors and reduce them for procedure-oriented specialists. Specialists such as cardiologists and gastroenterologists are now excessively rewarded for doing tests and procedures, many of which, in the opinion of experts, are not medically indicated. Not surprisingly, we have too many specialists, and they perform too many tests and procedures. Costs: This would greatly reduce costs to Medicare, and the reform would almost certainly be adopted throughout the wider health system.
Recommendation #3: Medicare should monitor doctors’ practice patterns for evidence of excess, and gradually reduce fees of doctors who habitually order significantly more tests and procedures than the average for the specialty. Costs: Again, this would greatly reduce costs, and probably be widely adopted.
Recommendation #4: Provide generous subsidies to medical students entering primary care, with higher subsidies for those who practice in underserved areas of the country for at least two years. Costs: This initial, rather modest investment in ending our shortage of primary care doctors would have long-term benefits, in terms of both costs and quality of care.
Recommendation #5: Repeal the provision of the Medicare drug benefit that prohibits Medicare from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices. (The House bill calls for this.) That prohibition has been a bonanza for the pharmaceutical industry. For negotiations to be meaningful, there must be a list (formulary) of drugs deemed cost-effective. This is how the Veterans Affairs System obtains some of the lowest drug prices of any insurer in the country. Costs: If Medicare paid the same prices as the Veterans Affairs System, its expenditures on brand-name drugs would be a small fraction of what they are now.
Is the House bill better than nothing? I don’t think so. It simply throws more money into a dysfunctional and unsustainable system, with only a few improvements at the edges, and it augments the central role of the investor-owned insurance industry. The danger is that as costs continue to rise and coverage becomes less comprehensive, people will conclude that we’ve tried health reform and it didn’t work. But the real problem will be that we didn’t really try it. I would rather see us do nothing now, and have a better chance of trying again later and then doing it right.
Marcia Angell, M. D., is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She stepped down as Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine on June 30, 2000.
Kucinich’s Brave Health Vote Vs. Obama’s Failed Promise November 8, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Health.
Tags: big pharma, blue dog, Dennis Kucinich, health, health care, health care reform, health insurance, healthcare reform, hr 3962, insurance industry, kucinich, lee stranahan, pharma, public option, roger hollander, single payer
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There were plenty of cowardly votes in the House last night but there was only one truly brave one. The unsung hero of the night was Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich. Despite enormous pressure to support H.R. 3962, Rep. Kucinich did the right thing and voted ‘no’. Unlike the Blue Dog votes against the bill, he did it for all the right reasons.
In a principled and practical statement, Rep. Kucinich said what a growing number of progressives have realized as we’ve watched real health care reform be compromised again and again.
During the debate, when the interests of insurance companies would have been effectively challenged, that challenge was turned back. The “robust public option” which would have offered a modicum of competition to a monopolistic industry was whittled down from an initial potential enrollment of 129 million Americans to 6 million. An amendment which would have protected the rights of states to pursue single-payer health care was stripped from the bill at the request of the Administration. Looking ahead, we cringe at the prospect of even greater favors for insurance companies.
Personally, I supported President Obama in the primaries and the election but do not support him on this corporate giveaway built on broken campaign promises. I voted for the Barack Obama who opposed the individual mandate, who said the negotiations would be televised on C-SPAN and who campaigned against backroom deals with PhARMA.
Conservatives have expressed outrage for months about the way the health care bill was handled. Their anti-government anger is misplaced because it lets the insurances and drug companies who really helped drive this bill off the hook. But I understand their sense that this bill was passed despite the people.
Progressives should be every bit as upset that President Obama lied to us to get his historic health bill. The citizens of this country did not have a seat at the table. Proponents of the Single Payer didn’t have a seat at the table. Under the guise of health care reform, we watched as the insurance industry got a bill passed that entrenches and enriches them.
Don’t let anyone fool you that this bill is a good start. It’s got a poison pill “Public Option” that is designed to fail. As the brilliant RJ Eskow wrote recently about the House bill’s public option,
The plan will have low enrollment and little power to negotiate, causing the CBO to state as fact what I’ve long considered possible: That the public option could become a dumping ground where private plans jettison sicker people, while lacking the efficiencies of scale or negotiating power to get better rates or administer itself more economically.As a result, says the CBO, a public plan’s premiums might be higher than private insurance. While the CBO’s word isn’t gospel, it’s entirely possible that they’re underestimating the cost of any “public option” we’re likely to see this year. The likeliest political outcome, once the House and Senate bills are combined, is a non-robust “public option” with a state-by-state opt out. The CBO didn’t consider the opt-out when it came up with its shocking (to some) estimate.
Even if it passes in its weak form, this Public Option will be the target of the GOP for years and they won’t rest until it is dead. As the Public Option kicks into gear, they will find stories of ‘rationing’ and denial of care they can highlight, true or not. They will use the higher costs as proof of the Public Option’s folly. They will grind away at the Public Option relentlessly but they will leave the Individual Mandate alone. If anything, once the Mandate is in place, the Republicans will make sure the insurance industry is ‘free to compete’ and unrestricted.
The corporate interests that spend millions to influence the media and both political parties want you to ignore Congressman Kucinich. Too many Democrats unwittingly help them. Don’t be a patsy.
People like Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader and Michael Moore have been made pariahs by establishment Democrats. They have all been marginalized and made fun of…but check their records. They have been considered ‘fringe’ because they are telling us the truth about corporate abuses of power long before most of the rest of us catch up to the reality of what’s happened.
If enough of us stand with Dennis Kucinich, maybe we’ll actually get real health care reform. If we don’t, maybe we don’t deserve that reform.
Single Payer Advocates Starting to Break Against Obama November 8, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Health.
Tags: eric massa, health, health care, health care reform, health insurance, healthcare, insurance industry, kucinich, marcy kaptur, medicare, national health, obamacare, roger hollander, rusell mokhiber, single payer
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11.07.09 – 3:39 PM
“At the highest level this bill will enshrine in law the monopolistic powers of the private health insurance industry,” Massa said yesterday in a telephone press conference. “There’s no other way to look at it.”
by Russell Mokhiber
Single payer activists are starting to break against President Obama on health care reform.
On Thursday, Physicians for a National Health Program, in an e-mail message to its members, endorsed the view that “no bill is better than a bad bill.”
“Even the public option in the House is a sham,” the group said on Thursday.
PNHP’s John Geyman called on the House to shelve Obamacare.
“The negatives far outweigh the positives,” Geyman wrote.
Yesterday, Congressman Eric Massa (D-NY), a lead single payer advocate in the House, said he would vote against Obamacare.
And it wouldn’t matter what kind of pressure the White House or President Obama put on him to change his mind.
“I have respect for the chief executive, but I don’t work for him,” Massa said. “I work for people of the 29th Congressional District.”
“At the highest level this bill will enshrine in law the monopolistic powers of the private health insurance industry,” Massa said yesterday in a telephone press conference. “There’s no other way to look at it.”
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that Massa spent the last week studying 1,990-page H.R. 3962.
Massa said that the bill “fails to address the fundamental question before the American people, and that is, how do you control the costs of health care?”
Massa is the only solid no vote who turned on Obama because it gave too much to the insurance industry.
There are two other single payer advocates – Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) – who are undecided and may join Massa in the “no” camp when the House votes comes down – possibly as early as tonight.
In late July 2009, virtually the entire Congressional Progressive Caucus wrote a letter saying that anything less than a public option tied to Medicare rates was “unacceptable.”
But most have reneged on that position – including such progressives as Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) and Raul Grajalva (D-Arizona) – under pressure from Obama and the White House.
Obstruction of Justice March 30, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Racism.
Tags: bush administration, chris hedges, Criminal Justice, gordon kromberg, injustice, John Ashcroft, judge brinkema, judge moody, judicial lynching, judicial system, kucinich, obstruction of justice, patriot act, racism, racism justice, roger hollander, rule of law, sami amin al-arian
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Published on Monday, March 30, 2009 by TruthDig.com
U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema is scheduled to issue a ruling in the Eastern District of Virginia at the end of April in a case that will send a signal to the Muslim world and beyond whether the American judicial system has regained its independence after eight years of flagrant manipulation and intimidation by the Bush administration. Brinkema will decide whether the Palestinian activist Dr. Sami Amin Al-Arian, held for over six years in prison and under house arrest in Virginia since Sept 2, is guilty or innocent of two counts of criminal contempt.
Brinkema’s ruling will have ramifications that will extend far beyond Virginia and the United States. The trial of Al-Arian is a cause célèbre in the Muslim world. A documentary film was made about the case in Europe. He has become the poster child for judicial abuse and persecution of Muslims in the United States by the Bush administration. The facts surrounding the trial and imprisonment of the former university professor have severely tarnished the integrity of the American judicial system and made the government’s vaunted campaign against terrorism look capricious, inept and overtly racist.
Government lawyers made wild assertions that showed a profound ignorance of the Middle East and exposed a gross stereotyping of the Muslim world. It called on the FBI case agent, for example, who testified as an expert witness that Islamic terrorists were routinely smuggled over the border from Iran into Syria, apparently unaware that Syria is separated from Iran by a large land mass called Iraq. The transcripts of the case against Al-Arian-which read like a bad Gilbert and Sullivan opera-are stupefying in their idiocy. The government wiretaps picked up nothing of substance; taxpayer dollars were used to record and transcribe 21,000 hours of banal chatter, including members of the Al-Arian household ordering pizza delivery. During the trial the government called 80 witnesses and subjected the jury to inane phone transcriptions and recordings, made over a 10-year period, which the jury curtly dismissed as “gossip.” It would be comical if the consequences were not so dire for the defendant.
A jury, on Dec. 6, 2005, acquitted Dr. Al-Arian on eight of the counts in the superseding indictment after a six-month trial in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. On the 94 charges made against the four defendants, there were no convictions. Of the 17 charges against Al-Arian-including “conspiracy to murder and maim persons abroad”-the jury acquitted him of eight and was hung on the rest. The jurors, who voted 10 to 2 to acquit on the remaining charges, could not reach a unanimous decision calling for his full acquittal. Two others in the case, Ghassan Ballut and Sameeh Hammoudeh, were acquitted of all charges.
The trial result was a public relations disaster for the Bush White House and especially then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, who had personally announced the indictment and reportedly spent more than $50 million on the case. The government prosecutors threatened to retry Al-Arian. The Palestinian professor accepted a plea bargain that would spare him a second trial, agreeing that he had helped people associated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad with immigration matters. It was a very minor charge given the high profile of the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the counterterrorism section of the Justice Department agreed to recommend to the judge the minimum sentence of 46 months. But U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr., who made a series of comments during the trial that seemed to condemn all Muslims, sentenced Al-Arian to the maximum 57 months. In referring to Al-Arian’s contention, for example, that he had only raised money for Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s charity for widows and orphans, the judge told the professor that “your only connection to orphans and widows is that you create them.”
I spent an afternoon with Dr. Al-Arian in his small apartment in Arlington, Va., on Friday. His lawyers have asked that he make no public statements about his case. But we talked widely about the Middle East, the new Israeli government, the siege of Gaza, our families and the changes he hopes will come with an Obama administration. He sat on a couch wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet on his ankle, thankful to be with his wife and children after being shuttled between jails across the South and kept for 45 months in solitary confinement during his five-and-a-half-year ordeal. But he remains perplexed, as are many, by the gross miscarriage of justice and the ferocity of the government’s campaign to smear him with terrorism charges.
The government originally sought a standard cooperation provision as part of the final plea agreement. Al-Arian objected. He refused to plead guilty if he had to cooperate with the Justice Department. The Justice Department-including lawyers from the counterterrorism section of Main Justice-then negotiated to take out the cooperation provision in return for a longer sentence on the one count. That was the deal. He was to have been held in jail until April 2007 and then deported. But that never happened.
Right-wing ideologues, led by Assistant United States Attorney Gordon Kromberg, had no intention of letting him leave the country. Kromberg, a staunch supporter of Israel, arranged to keep Dr. Al-Arian behind bars even after he had finished serving his sentence. He blocked the deportation and subpoenaed Al-Arian to appear in Virginia to testify in an unrelated investigation of a Muslim think tank. This subpoena was a clear violation of the original plea bargain, and Al-Arian, heeding the advice of his lawyers, refused to give in to Kromberg’s demands. This led Kromberg to set in motion the newest charges of criminal contempt. Criminal contempt, bolstered by something called terrorism enhancement under Patriot Act II, is the only charge in U.S. statutes that does not carry a maximum penalty. The enhanced criminal contempt charge increases Al-Arian’s sentence from the usual 14 to 21 months for criminal contempt to a staggering 17 to 24 years for obstructing a state terrorism investigation. A handful of members of the House, including Jim Moran and Dennis Kucinich, have denounced Kromberg’s newest attempt to orchestrate a judicial lynching.
Kromberg, like many involved in the case, has also repeatedly made derogatory and insulting comments about Muslims. When Al-Arian’s lawyers asked Kromberg to delay the transfer of the professor to Virginia, for example, because of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, they were told “if they can kill each other during Ramadan they can appear before the grand jury.” Kromberg, according to an affidavit signed by Al-Arian’s attorney, Jack Fernandez, also said: “I am not going to put off Dr. Al-Arian’s grand jury appearance just to assist in what is becoming the Islamization of America.”
Judge Brinkema, in one of the rare examples of judicial courage during this saga, defied the government to allow Al-Arian out on bail.
The case against Al-Arian, in the eyes of the grand inquisitors like Kromberg, is a battle against a culture and a religion that they openly denigrate and despise. This racism, the driving engine behind the campaign against Al-Arian, mocks the integrity of the American judicial system. Let us hope that in a few weeks we will witness a new era. Justice delayed is better than justice denied. We owe Dr. Al-Arian, and ourselves, a return to the rule of law.
War Crimes and Double Standards March 5, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, George W. Bush, Media.
Tags: american journalism, Colin Powell, condoleezza, constitution, darfur, geneva conventions, George Bush, hassan al-bashir, house judiciary, icc, international crimnal court, iraq children, iraq illegal invasion, Iraq war, John Conyers, journalism, kucinich, media double standard, media responsibility, milbank, nicholas kristof, patrick leahy, republicans, robert parry, roger hollander, sentate judiciary, snowcroft, sudan, the hague, torture, torture commision, War Crimes, war on terror, waterboarding
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Robert Parry, March 5, 2009, www.consortiumnews.com
New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof – like many of his American colleagues – is applauding the International Criminal Court’s arrest order against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for his role in the Darfur conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
In his Thursday column, Kristof describes the plight of an eight-year-old boy named Bakit who blew off his hands picking up a grenade that Kristof suspects was left behind by Bashir’s forces operating on the Chad side of the border with Sudan.
“Bakit became, inadvertently, one more casualty of the havoc and brutality that President Bashir has unleashed in Sudan and surrounding countries,” Kristof wrote. “So let’s applaud the I.C.C.’s arrest warrant, on behalf of children like Bakit who can’t.”
By all accounts, Kristof is a well-meaning journalist who travels to dangerous parts of the world, like Darfur, to report on human rights crimes. However, he also could be a case study of what’s wrong with American journalism.
While Kristof writes movingly about atrocities that can be blamed on Third World despots like Bashir, he won’t hold U.S. officials to the same standards.
Most notably, Kristof doesn’t call for prosecuting former President George W. Bush for war crimes, despite hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died as a result of Bush’s illegal invasion of their country. Many Iraqi children also don’t have hands – or legs or homes or parents.
But no one in a position of power in American journalism is demanding that former President Bush join President Bashir in the dock at The Hague.
As for the unpleasant reality that Bush and his top aides authorized torture of “war on terror” detainees, Kristof suggests only a Republican-dominated commission, including people with close ties to the Bush Family and to Bush’s first national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.
“It could be co-chaired by Brent Scowcroft and John McCain, with its conclusions written by Philip Zelikow, a former aide to Condoleezza Rice who wrote the best-selling report of the 9/11 commission,” Kristof wrote in a Jan. 29 column entitled “Putting Torture Behind Us.”
“If the three most prominent members were all Republicans, no one on the Right could denounce it as a witch hunt — and its criticisms would have far more credibility,” Kristof wrote.
“Democrats might begrudge the heavy Republican presence on such a commission, but surely any panel is better than where we’re headed: which is no investigation at all. …
“My bet, based on my conversations with military and intelligence experts, is that such a commission would issue a stinging repudiation of torture that no one could lightly dismiss.”
In an earlier formulation of this plan, Kristof suggested that the truth commission be run, in part, by Bush’s first Secretary of State Colin Powell.
One of the obvious problems with Kristof’s timid proposal is that Rice and Powell were among the senior Bush officials who allegedly sat in on meetings of the Principals Committee that choreographed the abuse and torture of specific detainees.
Zelikow remained a close associate of Rice even after she replaced Powell as Secretary of State. And Scowcroft was President George H.W. Bush’s national security adviser and one of Rice’s key mentors.
It’s also not true that any investigation is always better than no investigation. I have witnessed cover-up investigations that not only failed to get anywhere near the truth but tried to discredit and destroy whistleblowers who came forward with important evidence. [For examples, see Secrecy & Privilege.]
In other words, bogus and self-interested investigations can advance bogus and self-interested history, which only emboldens corrupt officials to commit similar crimes again.
No Other Context
Kristof’s vision of having President Bush’s friends, allies and even co-conspirators handle the investigation of Bush’s crimes would be considered laughable if placed in any other context.
But Kristof’s cockeyed scheme passes almost as conventional wisdom in today’s Washington.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post assigned its satirical writer, Dana Milbank, to cover – and mock – Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Judiciary Committee hearing on his own plan for a truth commission to examine Bush-era abuses.
Milbank’s clever article opened with the knee-slapping observation: “Let’s be truthful about it. Things aren’t looking so good for the Truth Commission.”
The derisive tone of the article also came as no surprise. Milbank has made a cottage industry out of ridiculing anyone who dares think that President Bush should be held accountable for his crimes.
In 2005, when the Democrats were in the minority and the Republicans gave Rep. John Conyers only a Capitol Hill basement room for a hearing on the Downing Street Memo’s disclosures about “fixed” intelligence to justify the Iraq War, Milbank’s column dripped with sarcasm.
“In the Capitol basement yesterday, long-suffering House Democrats took a trip to the land of make-believe,” Milbank wrote. “They pretended a small conference room was the Judiciary Committee hearing room, draping white linens over folding tables to make them look like witness tables and bringing in cardboard name tags and extra flags to make the whole thing look official.”
And the insults – especially aimed at Conyers – kept on coming. The Michigan Democrat “banged a large wooden gavel and got the other lawmakers to call him ‘Mr. Chairman,’” Milbank wrote snidely. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Mocking the Downing Street Memo.”]
Then, last July, Milbank ridiculed a regular House Judiciary Committee hearing on Bush’s abuses of presidential power. The column ignored the strong case for believing that Bush had violated a number of international and domestic laws, the U.S. Constitution, and honorable American traditions, like George Washington’s prohibition against torture.
Instead, it was time to laugh at the peaceniks. Milbank opened by agreeing with a put-down from Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, calling the session “an anger management class.” Milbank wrote: “House Democrats had called the session … to allow the left wing to vent its collective spleen.”
Milbank then insulted Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who had introduced impeachment resolutions against Bush, by calling the Ohio Democrat “diminutive” and noting that Kucinich’s wife is “much taller” than he is.
What Kucinich’s height had to do with an issue as serious as abuses of presidential power was never made clear. What Milbank did make clear, through his derisive tone and repeated insults, was that the Washington Establishment takes none of Bush’s crimes seriously.
So, Milbank’s mocking of Leahy’s latest initiative fits with this pattern of the past eight years – protecting Bush from the “nut cases” who think international law and war-crimes tribunals should apply to leaders of big countries as well as small ones.
The pattern of “American exceptionalism” also can be seen in Kristof cheering the application of international law against an African tyrant but suggesting that Bush’s offenses should be handled discreetly by his friends.
Journalist Murray Waas often used the saying, “all power is proximate.” I never quite understood what he meant, but my best guess was that Waas was saying that careerists – whether journalists or from other professions – might have the guts to take on someone far away or who lacked power, while ignoring or excusing similar actions by someone close by with the power to hurt them.
That seems to be especially true about Washington and its current cast of “respected” journalists. They can be very tough on President Bashir but only make excuses for President Bush.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.
War Crimes and Incompetence — the Real Shoes Thrown at Bush December 16, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
Tags: Abu Ghraib, al-Qaeda, baghdad, bremer, Bush, Cabinet, carl levin, chris weigant, cia, congress, defense department, detainees, false confessions, geneva convention, Guantanamo, interrogation, Iraq, iraq reconstruction, islam, kucinich, looting, Muslims, Pentagon, powell, ricardo sanchez, saddam, shoes, stuart bowen, Taliban, terrorism, torture, War Crimes, wiretap
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Chris Weigant, December 16, 2008
UPDATE: This article was originally titled “Maybe Levin And Bowen Should Throw Shoes” but perhaps that was too provacative or considered radical (I wasn’t really suggesting they should attack President Bush, merely making a statement about the media’s priorities). Anyway, just wanted to set the record straight.
I know it’s a lot more interesting to talk about two shoes getting thrown at President Bush in Iraq, but two more important stories are getting ignored as a result. These are two metaphorical “shoes” thrown at Bush, by the Senate and by Bush’s own Inspector General in Iraq. And they’re going to have a much more lasting impact on how history sees our Iraq adventure than one video clip of a guy hucking his footwear at President Bush. Because they deal with torture, and the failure of the Iraq reconstruction effort.
Last Thursday, Carl Levin’s Senate Armed Services Committee released a report which basically called Bush and his entire National Security Council war criminals. Of note was the fact that the Senate committee voted for the report unanimously. Every single Republican (led by John McCain), along with all the Democrats, voted for this report. And the language the report uses is not the usual vague “mistakes were made” sort (which is often a necessity forced upon the such committees as a whole, by one party or another).
The report is titled “Senate Armed Services Committee Inquiry Into The Treatment Of Detainees In U.S. Custody” [download PDF version]. From the opening paragraphs:
Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists are taught to expect Americans to abuse them. They are recruited based on false propaganda that says the United States is out to destroy Islam. Treating detainees harshly only reinforces that distorted view, increases resistance to cooperation, and creates new enemies. In fact, the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States” cited “pervasive anti U.S. sentiment among most Muslims” as an underlying factor fueling the spread of the global jihadist movement. Former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee in June 2008 that “there are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq — as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat — are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.”
The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of “a few bad apples” acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority.
The report goes on for 29 pages in great detail about what happened, and who authorized it. It does not mince words. It names names. It traces not only the orders for such treatment of prisoners from the very top of the chain of command, it also traces the legal opinions which were produced to provide cover for what is described as techniques “based on illegal exploitation (under the rules listed in the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War) of prisoners over the last 50 years.” In other words, war crimes. The first three of nineteen conclusions read:
Senate Armed Services Committee Conclusions
Conclusion 1: On February 7, 2002, President George W. Bush made a written determination that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, did not apply to al Qaeda or Taliban detainees. Following the President’s determination, techniques such as waterboarding, nudity, and stress positions, used in SERE [Survival Evasion Resistance Escape] training to simulate tactics used by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions, were authorized for use in interrogations of detainees in U.S. custody.
Conclusion 2: Members of the President’s Cabinet and other senior officials participated in meetings inside the White House in 2002 and 2003 where specific interrogation techniques were discussed. National Security Council Principals reviewed the CIA’s interrogation program during that period.
Conclusions on SERE Training Techniques and Interrogations
Conclusion 3: The use of techniques similar to those used in SERE resistance training — such as stripping students of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, and treating them like animals — was at odds with the commitment to humane treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. Using those techniques for interrogating detainees was also inconsistent with the goal of collecting accurate intelligence information, as the purpose of SERE resistance training is to increase the ability of U.S. personnel to resist abusive interrogations and the techniques used were based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to elicit false confessions.
So, a bipartisan committee of the United States Senate has publicly released a summary of a report (the full report is still classified, although Committee Chairman Carl Levin has called for it to be declassified) unanimously, that details war crimes by the highest government officials in the land.
You’d think this would be news, in other words.
The second metaphorical “shoe” tossed at Bush came from his own Inspector General in Iraq, Stuart W. Bowen, Jr. The report is titled: “Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience.” The story was broken by the New York Times, and the entire lengthy article is worth reading.
An unpublished 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.
The history, the first official account of its kind, is circulating in draft form here and in Washington among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior officials. It also concludes that when the reconstruction began to lag — particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army — the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures.
In one passage, for example, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is quoted as saying that in the months after the 2003 invasion, the Defense Department “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! ‘We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.’ “
Mr. Powell’s assertion that the Pentagon inflated the number of competent Iraqi security forces is backed up by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former commander of ground troops in Iraq, and L. Paul Bremer III, the top civilian administrator until an Iraqi government took over in June 2004.
Among the overarching conclusions of the history is that five years after embarking on its largest foreign reconstruction project since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, the United States government has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.
This report is scheduled to be given to Congress in February, and is still in draft form. But, as the article pointed out, the ramifications for the future are huge, considering that we’re going to be in Afghanistan for a while.
Five years after the invasion of Iraq, the history concludes, “the government as a whole has never developed a legislatively sanctioned doctrine or framework for planning, preparing and executing contingency operations in which diplomacy, development and military action all figure.”
Few remember it, but a Democratic candidate for president campaigned on creating just such a framework for rebuilding countries. Instead of always reinventing the wheel and eternally performing nation-building as an ad hoc exercise, why not create a department that could provide the needed planning and expertise, by professionals who had done this sort of thing before? His name was Dennis Kucinich, and he was roundly ridiculed for his “Department of Peace” proposal. It’s not looking so ridiculous now, is it?
Imagine, if you will, these two stories breaking under President Clinton’s watch. Would either one of them be greeting with a collective yawn by the mainstream media? This weekend’s Sunday morning talk shows, for instance, barely mentioned either story (most of the shows didn’t mention either story at all). I saw a lot of “Bush ducking shoes” headlines, but I must have missed all the “White House Accused Of War Crimes By Senate” or “Iraq Reconstruction An Enormous Failure” headlines. Outside of a few intrepid newspapers, neither story is getting much attention at all.
Maybe it’s just Bush fatigue. Some might say my insistence on the importance of these stories is nothing more than one last round of Bush-bashing. I disagree. Because these things were done in my name, and in every other Americans’ name. To be sure they never happen again, we must examine exactly what did happen. Those who don’t remember history are famously condemned to repeat it, and those who prefer not to even read such history in the first place are surely condemned to repeat it a whole lot faster.
Bush entered office trying to force a quick start to a recession, and he leaves office with the American economy in the worst shape it’s been in since the Great Depression. Bush entered the war in Iraq and we all watched Iraqis beating a fallen statue of Saddam Hussein with their shoes, and now Bush leaves office with Iraqi journalists throwing shoes at him. Bush took over Baghdad while ignoring looting and rampant destruction of the Iraq infrastructure, and then squandered billions of dollars on “reconstruction” that was largely ineffective. Bush ran on a platform of “compassionate conservatism” and then watched an American city drown, and personally approved of torturing prisoners held by America. Bush ran on a standard Republican platform of “getting government out of people’s lives” and then presided over trying to wiretap every phone call and email in America. Bush also ran on “restoring the honor and dignity of the Oval Office,” and he exits still lying about how we went to war with Iraq (he’s been quoted more than once in the past few weeks — unchallenged by the interviewers — saying that Saddam Hussein was refusing to let weapons inspectors in, which is just flat-out lying).
I know that America is ready to move on. I know that everyone is much more interested in the future Obama administration than looking back at the Bush administration. But it is important to take one last look back at Bush’s legacy, to make sure these things are never again allowed to happen. Even the Senate all but accusing the White House of war crimes and the Inspector General in Iraq accusing the White House of massive incompetence don’t make the front pages, which I think is just wrong.
Perhaps Carl Levin or Stuart Bowen, Jr. should toss a shoe at the president. Because maybe then these stories would get the attention they deserve.
Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Rep. Dennis Kucinich on His Battle With the Banks December 15, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in Economic Crisis.
Tags: assassination, banks, budget, business, campaign, cei, cleveland, cleveland trust, congress, corruption, default, election, energy, government, history, kucinich, Media, money, muny light, national city, ohio, oversight, power, roger hollander, taxes
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Dec 15, 2008
|AP photo / Kevin Wolf|
Once they were as gods, but the deities of the American banking system are now in ruins, plunged from their pedestals into the maw of taxpayer largesse. Congress voted to give the banks $700 billion, lifting them temporarily out of their sepulcher of debt, while revealing a deep truth about the condition of America’s financial powers:
They never had the money they said they had as they constructed their debt-based monetary system which now lies in ruins. Their decisions on behalf of depositors, shareholders and investors were lacking in basic integrity and common sense. Green gods bailing out with their golden parachutes.
There was a time when their power was real. Come with me to Cleveland 30 years ago today.
Dec. 15, 1978, Cleveland, Ohio
I awoke to find a curt payment demand that was dropped on my front step by a grandfatherly man who supplemented his Social Security delivering the morning newspaper. The headline plastered across the front page:
Cleveland Trust: Pay Up. Bank would relent if Muny Light were sold, Forbes believes.
One of America’s largest banks, Cleveland Trust, led local banks in demanding immediate payment from the city by midnight, Dec. 15, of $14.5 million in short-term loans.
I regarded the headline skeptically. Having lived in 21 different places by the time I was 17, including a couple of cars, I had come to an encyclopedic knowledge of dun letters, sent to my parents by battalions of bill collectors seeking immediate payment for televisions, cars and a variety of household appliances that never seemed to work. I first came to regard these credit alarms with trepidation, later with impassiveness, with the expectation that as our family grew to two adults and seven children it would soon be on the move again, incurring new delinquencies with each new address. Lack of access to money, housing and credit seemed to be a permanent condition.
Now, having fought through a thicket of consequence to become America’s youngest mayor, elected on a promise to stop the privatization of the city’s electric system, I was faced with paying off loans taken out by the previous mayor, for the financing of municipal projects of dubious value.
The banks refused to extend terms of payment and connived with City Council members to block alternative payment plans, such as the sale of city land or tax revenues. The banks knew the city couldn’t otherwise pay. They demanded instead the sale of the city’s electric system, Muny Light, to an investor-owned electric company, the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. (CEI). The president of the Cleveland Council, George Forbes, had met with the head of Cleveland Trust bank, who insisted on the sale of Muny Light as a precondition for extending the city credit. This was a case of the bank blackmailing the city, pure and simple.
The alternative to accepting the bank’s blackmail was default. Cleveland could become the first city since the Depression to default on its financial obligations. Cities rely on credit for everyday operations and for meeting long-term financial obligations, such as infrastructure improvements. If banks called in their loans, the city would head toward dire straits. No one knew that better than the law firm of Squire Sanders and Dempsey, which had served as bond counsel for the city of Cleveland while the city entered fiscal peril and was simultaneously, though not coincidentally, the principal law firm for the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. Through Squire Sanders and Dempsey, CEI had access to the intricacies of the city of Cleveland’s financial records.
Under the previous administration, the city began using bond funds for general operating purposes. As mayor, I inherited $40 million worth of debt that had to be refinanced before the end of my first year in office. Under my predecessor, the city had illegally spent money it did not have, and yet it had the key to every bank in town and the confidence of the bond rating houses, at precisely the same time it was preparing for the sale of the municipal electric system to CEI.
Cleveland Trust and another bank demanding the sale of Muny Light, National City, were principal stock owners in CEI. Several members of CEI’s board sat on the boards of local banks as interlocking directorates. There was a myriad of bank-utility business relations. Cleveland Trust bank, which handled CEI’s demand deposits, pension funds and other assets, would directly profit from the sale of Muny Light. In a way, the banks were the private utility. With the sale, CEI would have an electricity monopoly in Cleveland and would be able to name its price for electricity and get it. Everyone in the Muny Light territory would receive at least a 20 percent rate increase as the rates would be raised to CEI’s levels.
The city was self-sufficient with Muny Light for many years. Muny provided power to 46,000 homes with low electric rates, which contributed to the economic growth of the city. That was until the late 1960s and early ’70s, when a series of suspicious mechanical failures and power outages diminished the system’s reliability. At that time, under heavy lobbying from CEI, the Cleveland City Council delayed the passage of legislation for $9.8 million in repairs to Muny Light’s generators, thereby forcing the city to purchase power at a premium from its competitor, CEI. The city became increasingly dependent on an interconnection between CEI and Muny Light, a high-voltage line over which power could be transferred from CEI to the city, to ensure reliability. The city’s power system began to experience more unexplained power failures. CEI began to make public overtures to purchase Muny Light. The sale of Muny Light to CEI was soon supported by most of Cleveland’s media, business, political and labor interests.
In November 1976, the City Council passed legislation authorizing the sale of Muny Light for a fraction of its value. I was clerk of Cleveland’s Municipal Court at the time and I objected to the sale. I was advised that there was no way to stop the sale, but I saw it differently. Cleveland had a long history of municipal power. I could sense a terrible injustice was being visited upon the people of the city by its leading institutions, which were conspiring to deprive the city of its public power system.
I organized a petition drive that attracted support from city neighborhoods served by Muny Light. A full civic campaign was born with an intense effort made under brutal weather conditions to gather the signatures necessary to put the issue on the ballot. There was much at stake besides the monetary value of the system: The people’s right to own an electric system. And the historic position of Muny Light, one of America’s first municipal electric utilities, founded 70 years earlier by Cleveland Mayor Tom Johnson. Muny Light provided electricity to about one-third of the homes and businesses in the city at a peak savings of 20-30 percent over the rates charged by CEI. Additionally, Muny Light provided millions of dollars annually in savings to taxpayers by serving 76 city facilities. It also provided Cleveland’s street lighting. High electric rates and higher taxes would follow if Muny were sold. The private sector was forcing the sale for its own profit at the expense of the community.
On Jan. 4, 1977, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB), in an antitrust review required of any company applying to operate a nuclear power plant, ruled that CEI had conspired to put Muny Light out of business. CEI tried to force Muny Light into price-fixing and blocked Muny expansion, stopped the installation of Muny Light pollution-abatement equipment and forced the city to buy power it didn’t need. In addition, the ASLB uncovered a CEI budget planning report for 1971 that spoke of a five-year plan “to reduce and ultimately eliminate” Muny Light.
The ASLB determined that CEI deliberately caused a Christmas-season blackout on the Muny Light system and sent salesmen into Muny Light territory offering “reliable CEI service.” The private utility illegally tripled the cost of purchased power, thereby driving up Muny Light’s operating costs. CEI illegally blocked Muny Light’s access to power from other companies, all in violation of federal antitrust law. As a condition of receiving its license to operate a nuclear power plant, CEI had to provide Muny Light with access to cheap power. Documents showed that CEI executives believed the purchase of Muny Light would increase CEI’s earnings by $2.732 a share, eliminate a competitive threat, and push the company’s growth rate to 10 percent, further enhancing investment.
Documents in the case also demonstrated CEI’s successful attempts to subvert media editorial policy through cunning use of the company’s large advertising budget. Over the years, several local reporters lost their jobs after writing reports unfavorable to CEI, and CEI bragged internally about placing verbatim company-written propaganda as general media editorial content.
Confronted with the federal finding that bolstered a previously filed $330 million antitrust damage suit, the Cleveland city administration’s response was incredible: “Now CEI has to buy Muny Light!”
At the same time the campaign to sell Muny Light accelerated, a high-powered rifle shot ripped through my house, just missing my head.
A cavalcade of media editorials commenced favoring the transfer of Muny Light to CEI.
During an ensuing legal battle over the validity of the referendum petitions, I became a candidate for mayor. I promised that if elected I would save the system. I won the election. My first act in office was to cancel the sale of Muny Light. I next had to pay off a $14 million CEI electricity bill that the previous administration owed and wanted to satisfy through the sale of the light system.
I had been in the mayor’s office barely a year, facing a municipal horror story of huge snow storms, massive water main breaks and a police strike. I had cut city spending by 10 percent through eliminating corrupt contracts, payroll padding and attritional cutbacks. Through the year, I struggled with a recall attempt for firing a police chief. The recall was backed by banks, utility and real estate interests with a last-minute appeal printed by the Plain Dealer to sell Muny Light. Credit rating agencies, which had looked the other way while CEI was attempting to gain Muny Light in the previous administration, downgraded the city’s finances.
Another Muny Light-related attempted assassination was averted when I was rushed to a hospital vomiting blood from a profusely bleeding ulcer. Some years later, a congressional investigation produced information from an undercover agent of the Maryland State Police that the assassination attempt was to occur while I was the grand marshal in a local parade. A local television investigative report claimed the assassin’s services were purchased because I refused to sell the electric system.
One month later, I was back at work trying to find a way to save Muny Light. The utility’s financial difficulties, though contrived largely through interference with the system by CEI, were depicted as so overwhelming that only the sale of the electric system itself would save the city from financial catastrophe. I held several meetings with bank officials. and it became clear we were heading for trouble on the question of refinancing. The banks were going to try to force me to sell the electric system. I went public with a plea for an income tax increase to protect the city’s solvency.
On Dec. 15, I made a last-minute appeal to Cleveland Trust. It was 8 o’clock in the morning. I met with Brock Weir, the chairman of Cleveland Trust, Council President Forbes and our host, a local businessman. I had the intention of protecting Muny Light and avoiding a default.
“There’s just one thing you’ve got to do,” said the Council president, who strongly favored the sale.
Weir, the bank CEO with the stern visage: “If you sell Muny Light, we’ll roll over the notes. I can get you $50 million in new financing. We’d get other banks to participate.” It was a bribe.
My thoughts went to the street just outside the boardroom. Some 20 years earlier, a few blocks from where this meeting was taking place, I slept with my brothers and sister and parents in a car, homeless. I remembered an apartment where my parents sat underneath the pale yellow light of a kitchen wall lamp, counting their pennies on an old porcelain-topped table. The pennies dropped, click, click, click. Pennies to pay the utility bills.
It matters how much people pay for electricity. It matters if the public owns its own system and has political and financial control over rates. I could hear the pennies dropping, click, click, click, as Mr. Weir insisted on the sale of Muny Light. I remembered my family and the struggles of people like them. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t sell. Not for $50 million, not for anything.
“I’m not going to sell, even if it means my career,” I said, as Council President Forbes looked on in surprise.
“Why do you want to end your career? Sell the system. Get rid of it!” he said.
“Is there some other way we can work this out?” I asked Brock Weir.
He shook his head “No.”
Throughout that day, every media outlet in Cleveland echoed the sentiment of Cleveland Trust’s chairman, including the morning newspaper headline, with such depth of coverage and intensity that it seemed the city itself would crumble unless I agreed to the sale, which also included a provision dropping the $330 million antitrust damage suit.
The objective condition of the city’s finances received no honest review. The sale of Muny Light was depicted as the only way the city could avoid fiscal disaster. The majority leader of the City Council held a news conference live on the 6 o’clock news. He declared that if I sold Muny Light, “the chairman of the Cleveland Trust bank has informed the council that his bank will purchase $50 million worth of city bonds. So, in effect, we have a plan sitting on the mayor’s desk that will absolutely end the city’s financial problems, if he will put his signature on it.”
The $50 million bribe had been brought out into the open in a manner that now suggested it was a legitimate offer, a fake solution to a fake crisis. I refused to sell.
As Cleveland television stations covered the event live, with a countdown clock that looked like a twisted version of New Year’s Eve, midnight struck. Television networks of several countries recorded the grim event: The city of Cleveland became the first American city to go into default since the Great Depression. The default was over just $14.5 million dollars in credit.
When I called for a congressional investigation a few days later, Cleveland Trust denied it wanted Muny Light, CEI denied it wanted Muny Light, the council president denied the chairman of Cleveland Trust wanted Muny Light, and the majority leader said he was mistaken when he said live on the 6 o’clock news that the bank chairman offered $50 million in credit for Muny Light. Muny Light was no longer the issue. It was the mayor and his obstinacy that caused the crisis. So went the waltz into a netherworld devoid of truth, justice, reality or morality.
Though the people of Cleveland supported keeping Muny Light by a margin of 2 to 1 in a referendum a few months later, and passed an income tax increase by the same margin in order for the city to pay off the defaulted bond anticipation notes, the state of Ohio intervened and put the city into fiscal receivership. I lost the mayor’s race in 1979. The banks renegotiated the defaulted notes, at a profit. The city lost its antitrust suit against CEI in 1981, in a hung jury. An appeal failed.
I was out of major public office for almost 15 years until, in 1993, Cleveland announced an expansion of Muny Light (now called Cleveland Public Power). At that time, the City Council and others decided that I had made the right decision in refusing to sell Muny Light. The city and its residents had saved hundreds of millions of dollars through Muny Light’s reduced electric rates and the savings the taxpayers enjoyed from Muny’s lower-cost power for street lighting and city buildings.
I attempted another political comeback and this time succeeded, getting elected to the state Senate with the motto: “Because he was right.” My campaign literature showed a radiant light bulb behind my name. Two years later, I was elected to Congress, with the slogan “Light up Congress.” Today I am the chairman of the House Government Oversight Domestic Policy Subcommittee, which has broad jurisdiction over most government departments and agencies, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and electric utility matters generally.
The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. is now a subsidiary of First Energy Co., which was fined by the NRC for various safety violations and, a few years ago, was found to have primary responsibility for the 2003 blackout that left 50 million people throughout the northeastern United States without electricity.
Cleveland Trust no longer exists. No other bank involved in the default survives, except for National City, which next week faces extinction through shareholder approval of a takeover by PNC bank. I have spent much time trying to save National City.
One newspaper, the Cleveland Press, which advocated that CEI be Cleveland’s sole electricity provider, ceased publication. The other strong proponent of the sale of Muny Light, the Plain Dealer, struggles to survive.
The city’s electric system endures and this past year celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Republicrats November 25, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama.
Tags: Bush, Clinton hawks, corporations, democrats, fortune 1000, huffington, imperialism, kucinich, Obama, republicans, republicrat, roger hollander, war
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This is a comment posted on the Huffington Post Website, November 25, 2008, from “fentt.” Now that the euphoria is beginning to wear off, and President-elect Obama is shocking many of his supporters with his Cabinet appointments (I just read that he’s keeping Bush’s [!!!] Secretary of Defence, Gates; so much for taking the troops out of Iraq); I think we are going to see an avalanche of of outcries from disenchanted former voters, who, like myself, voted for Obama out of the fear of a McCain/Palin victory.
Hi, I’m new to this website and just wanted to say I’m impressed with how many people understand the import of this story. I did not realize so many people understood that republicrats are the party of corporations. That makes me hopeful.
Here’s great article by Jeremy Scahill about the people Obama is considering for his cabinet; most of them are Clintonite hawks.
People who think there’s a difference between democrats and republicans, wake up. Clinton passed the telecom act allowing media consolidation, he repealed the law against large investment banks also getting into loans, he bombed iraq, kosovo, afghanistan, and sudan. Attacks on the poor and militaristic imperiliasm, and now Obama is picking the same people for his cabinet; where’s the difference from Bush?
Just like in ’06 the democrats win by pretending to be against the war, when they have no intention of ending it because their agenda is exactly the same as republicans’. Only one democratic presidential candidate voted against funding the war, and that was Kucinich. Wake up folks. Both sides of government and the Fortune 1000 are all part of one big organization that works together for the same goal: total domination of the planet by America’s wealthy elite.