Transcript #164-1

Full Clip: Bullet Points For Stimulus & Health Care Water Cooler Wars


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.



Your sources for this first segment include:,, the New York Times,,,,, and the website of U.S. News & World Report.


There are so many right-wing lies being tossed around and so much right-wing hypocrisy hanging in the air, that it's hard to know where to begin, you know what I mean?


I'm going to focus here on right-wing lies and hypocrisy about two issues, the economy, specifically the stimulus bill, and health care reform. 


We progressives know that the stimulus that was passed at the beginning of Obama's term, was too small and too much of it was tax cuts that don't help the economy much.  Still, right-wing lies and hypocrisy about it need to be addressed.


QuickBlast 1: Right-wingers in lockstep are screaming that the stimulus totally failed, that it didn't create any jobs or help the economy at all. 




audio: Sean Hannity

And tonight in Hannity's America, now Republicans continue to point out that the stimulus has been unsuccessful at, well, stimulating the economy…

They're lying.


The fact is, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, and Moody's website, say that the stimulus bill increased employment by as many as 2.4 million jobs, as of the end of 2009.  And the stimulus bill also increased GDP growth in the last three quarters of 2009.


QuickBlast 2: hypocrisy on the stimulus bill.  Right-wingers who opposed the stimulus bill, and have denounced it ever since, nevertheless requested funds under it.  And then they've run around claiming credit for projects it created in their districts.


By one count there are 91 GOP'ers in what a Democratic Party website calls the Hypocrisy Hall of Fame.  Another website puts the count at 118, over half the Republicans in Congress, and calls them Highway Hypocrites.


There's a link in the transcript at this point where you can fill in your address and find out if your representative is one of these right-wing double-talkers.


Now onto the really big issue you're currently hearing and seeing so much about, health care reform.


In other podcasts I've extensively covered the foundational stuff: the nature of our system, how it doesn't work, how it's severely lacking compared to other industrialized countries, what would fix it.  You can check out podcasts 152, 154, and 155.


Here I'm going QuickBlast some of the distraction fluff the right-wing throws up, so you can quickly dispose of it, and be able to get to the foundational stuff, which they'll also have no answer for.


Like with the stimulus, even though I'm not a big fan of this health care bill, the right-wing's feet still need to be held to the fire.


Accordingly, QuickBlast number 3: the right-wing is hyperventilating that the Democrats are planning to use the "nuclear option."  Scary. Apocalyptic even!  But not true.


Problem is, the nuclear option is not what the Democrats are talking about at all.  The Democrats are talking about the reconciliation process, which prevents filibusters by allowing a simple majority vote.


The nuclear option is the changing of Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster altogether. The term was coined by former Republican Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, during controversy over Supreme Court nominees.


Ooh, but the term sounds so terrifying, so countless right-wingers have endlessly repeated it.  A Fox website even accompanied a story with images of nuclear bomb mushroom clouds.


If reconciliation isn't the nuclear option, it's even less so changing rules in midstream, as Karl Rove -- we all love Karl don't we?  shouldn't he be in jail or something? -- as Karl Rove has claimed.  Would it surprise you to learn he's not telling the truth?


QuickBlast: The reconciliation process has been written into the Congressional rules since 1974.


No rules are being changed in midstream.


Which leads into the next QuickBlast, a superdose of right-wing hypocrisy.


Not only is reconciliation part of the rules, but it has been used repeatedly by the GOP to pass major legislation!  By the very same right-wingers who are now screaming their lungs out denouncing the Democrats' use of it.


George W. Bush's signature tax cuts for the rich were passed by reconciliation. 


In the health care field, Congress used reconciliation to pass Medicare Advantage, the Cobra program to allow continued coverage after a worker loses their job, and many other measures.


One analyst says that virtually all health care reform during the last three decades was passed using the reconciliation process.


Don't let anyone tell you it's Democrats who used it the most.  Of the 22 times it's been used, 16 of them were in Republican-controlled Congresses.


I mentioned the Bush tax cuts were passed through reconciliation.  So was much of Newt Gingrich's Contract with America a decade earlier.


Right-wingers may try to tell you that reconciliation isn't used for sweeping measures having broad impact.  No?  Bush's tax cuts blew a one point something trillion dollar hole in the budget.  Welfare reform was passed through reconciliation.


Here's President Obama speaking recently on the issue:


audio: Barack Obama

Reform has already passed the House with a majority. It has already passed the Senate with a supermajority of 60 votes. And now it deserves the same kind of up or down vote that was cast on welfare reform, that was cast on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, that was used for Cobra health coverage for the unemployed and, by the way, for both Bush tax cuts — all of which had to pass Congress with nothing more than a simple majority.

Of course, the media has been asleep on this, allowing right-wingers like Senators Mitch McConnell, Judd Gregg and Orrin Hatch to criticize the use of reconciliation, when they've supported that process in the past to pass legislation they liked, such as the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.


Your next QuickBlast again features that serial liar, Sean Hannity.  Here he is:


audio: Sean Hannity

All right, now a look back at that CBO report commissioned by Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh shows that it is the president who needs to get his facts straight. Now the report concludes, "the average premium per person covered would be about 10 to 13 percent higher in 2016 than the average premium for nongroup coverage in that same year under the current law." Wow, what a great bill. No wonder the Democrats are obscuring the facts. 

Methinks the obscuring is on the other foot.  Hannity forgot to mention two critical facts: his 10 to 13 percent higher premium is before government subsidies the bill provides for, that will help people pay for the insurance.


And, the insurance in question has vastly improved coverage over what those people have now, so they can avoid bankruptcy from medical bills. Hundreds of thousands of Americans with medical insurance still go bankrupt from medical bills, because they're coverage is so inadequate.  They didn't know that until they got sick and got the bills.


Hannity's lie is breathtaking.  The Congressional Budget Office said that insurance premiums for the majority of people in nongroup insurance would decrease.  And the decrease will cut their premiums by more than half!  For better coverage!


The non-partisan website awards

Hannity a "pants on fire" false on this one, because, for most people, premiums would stay the same or decrease under the Democrats' health care reform plan. [Correction: actually awarded to another right-winger for making that claim]


Final QuickBlast, number 7: right-wing lies about public opinion.


Right-wingers like Fox News commentator Dana Perino claim the American people reject the public option.


The public option involves the government setting up a health insurance program to compete with private insurance companies.  People could buy into the public option. Sort of like Medicare you pay for with premiums.


Remember the Blast The Right mantra, whatever a right-winger says the exact opposite is true?


At least four polls taken in 2010 show more Americans support having a public option available to them, than oppose it.


The percentages range from a 49% plurality, to a 54% majority.


The public currently does reject the overall Democratic health care proposal.  But the public supports a public option.  Indeed, support for the Democratic health care reform plan increases when a public option is added to it.


After all these QuickBlasts, how about a parting verbal hand grenade to toss at any right-winger who doesn't seem sufficiently critical of the health insurance companies?


Some recently released numbers:


In 2009, the five largest health insurance companies -- United Health, Wellpoint, Aetna, Humana and Cigna -- had record profits, of $12.2 billion dollars.  That's an amazing 56% increase over the last year.


But it gets worse and worse.


These companies kicked 2.7 million more people off of their private health plan roles.


And these insurance giants reduced -- reduced -- the proportion of premiums they spend on medical care for their policy holders.  Overhead, corporate salaries and profits got an increased chunk.


Well, that about wraps up this segment.  I'm sure you can find a couple of things in here to make your friendly local right-winger foam at the mouth.




Transcript #164-2

Global Economic Justice Advances: Martin Luther King Would Be Pleased


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.



Your sources for this segment include: the Nation magazine, the New York Times, the British newspapers The Guardian and The Independent,, and


It's bad when you lose your health insurance.  It's even worse when neither you nor your children have ever seen a doctor in your entire lives, and there's little chance you ever will.  It's bad when you have to go get handouts at the local food pantry.  It's a lot worse when there is no local food pantry, and your children are hungry, and die of malnutrition and preventable diseases.


The middle and working class and even the poor have problems in the U.S., but nothing like the Third World poor.  So let's do a survey of what's going on in their struggle to survive, to fight off Western economic exploitation.


This is the issue I care the most about, and don't speak about nearly often enough.


To start off with, I was happy to read that another leftist won in South America.  A former guerilla fighter was elected president of Uruguay.  He'll take over from the current left-wing government, which mixed socialist and market solutions.  Unemployment and poverty were reduced.  That's a good thing.


Now, you may be wondering, why does Jack, why should I care about who wins an election in Uruguay?  It's a tiny little country that's not important in the global scheme of things. 


Well, the right-wing cares, and so should you.


I read a good analogy by Mark Weisbrot, writing in The Guardian:


Why do they care so much about who runs these poor countries? As any good chess player knows, pawns matter. The loss of a couple of pawns at the beginning of the game can often make a difference between a win or a loss.

It goes beyond that.  There's a quote I often cite.  It was a comment by a carbon fuel industry-supported analyst.  He was discussing the moves by Bolivian President Evo Morales to nationalize his nation's gas industry, and secure higher payments from the energy multinationals:


I don't think the game is over. It's going to move from the Americas to the Africans. This is a very dangerous precedent.

Yes, unlike in the game of chess, rebellious pawns, by their example, can create other rebellious pawns, other nations who decide to secure their rightful share of the profits from their nation's natural resources.


Weisbrot provides us with a similar sentiment, expressed by that noble American, Richard Nixon, when he graced the Oval Office with his presence.


Nixon was not very happy when Chileans elected leftist Salvador Allende president of Chile.  Here's what Tricky Dick had to say in two conversations:


That son of a bitch! That son of a bitch Allende – we're going to smash him.

[He] can consolidate himself, and the picture projected to the world will be his success ... If we let the potential leaders in South America think they can move like Chile and have it both ways, we will be in trouble.

You with me so far?  There's a good development in Uruguay, that sets a good example for other Third World nations.


But let's turn to the cautionary side.


First of all, victory by the forces of liberation doesn't always wind up benefiting the majority.


It was recently reported, for example, that in South Africa, long after Nelson Mandela was freed and apartheid ended, income inequality is still severe.  Black unemployment is nearly six times that of whites.  When you include discouraged workers, the black jobless rate leaps to nearly 50%.


And despite left-wing continued victories in Uruguay, all is not going our way nowadays on the electoral front.


You just heard me talk about Nixon on Chile.  For the past 20 years Chile has had leftist governments, but just earlier this year, they elected a right-wing businessman president.  That president's brother, believe it or not, worked for the Nixon-supported Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet as a labor minister.  His job was to implement right-wing reverse-robin-hood economic policies.  And where's that brother now?  He's a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank.


Another progressive set back is in Honduras.  Last year a right-wing coup overthrew their progressive president.  Obama did far less than he could have to reverse the right-wing coup.  You can check podcasts 153 and 156 on this.


Well, the coup government held a bogus election and guess what?  A right-winger was elected president.  So now the World Bank says it's going to restore, and even significantly increase, aid to Honduras.  Obama is also going to restore U.S. aid, and is urging other nations to recognize the coup-run-election president.  Many countries, including most in Latin America, have been refusing to do so.


And let me not forget to add, that Human Rights Watch has just confirmed what local Honduran groups have been claiming, that right-wing repression in the form of assassinations, beatings and jailings, is continuing.  Nine Democratic House members have written yet another letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, protesting these human rights abuses.  Human rights groups have started a call-in campaign to stop U.S. aid to Honduras.  The State Department number is 202-647-4000.


Unfortunately, the tentacles of right-wing exploitation run deep in Latin America.  Multinationals Chiquita and Dole are facing charges that they hired right-wing death squads in Colombia to fight off left-wing rebels, and then to intimidate and if necessary murder, union activists.   Other transnational corporations may face similar charges.


How deep are the tentacles?  Attorney General Eric Holder at one point represented Chiquita in this case!   Does this indicate a mindset that could explain the Obama adminstration's lack of effective push back, indeed support of, the Honduran coup?


Let me throw in here, another not-so-terrific fact on the global scale:  the US in 2008 was far and away the largest arms dealer in the world, accounting for over two-thirds of all global arms sales.  Who says we don't manufacture anything here any more?  We make stuff to kill people, and sell more of it than the rest of the world combined.


Ok, you just heard some negative stuff.  How about back to the positive again?  Here are two items, about Guatemala and Haiti, that warmed the cockles of my heart.


In the 1980's the right-wing dictatorship in Guatemala commited genocide against the indiginous population.  Well, according to an email I received from the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatamala, a colonel and 3 ex-military commissioners were recently sentenced to over 53 years in prison for their role.  They're the highest ranking officials so far held to account.  The sentence also ordered further investigation of the ex-Defense minister and others.


And, in a Spanish court hearing a genocide case, the written Plan Sofia ordering the Guatemalan genocide, was entered into evidence.


The wheels of justice turn slowly, but  at least they do seem to be turning concerning Guatemala.


This next story about Haiti literally made my cry, the tears of joy kind.  I don't know why.  But it did.  "Wow!" was all I could think.


In podcast 137, which you should listen to if you haven't, I describe the four ways the West exploits the Third World -- the Four Pillars, I call them.  Two of them are, dubious loans that ensnare Third World countries on a debt treadmill, and imposition of so-called "structural adjustment programs," composed of far right-wing economic policies.


The International Monetary Fund, the IMF, was about to make just such a loan to Haiti, with right-wing economic strings attached.  As you heard in podcast 162, the IMF has previously destroyed Haitian agriculture, among the other benefits it has bestowed on that nation.


But the IMF was stopped, at least for now, in attaching those aid strings.  A Facebook group called "No Shock Doctrine for Haiti" sprung up, and with tens of thousands of members, sent a petition of over 150,000 signatures to the IMF.  The IMF backed down.


Ok, how does this rollercoaster leave you feeling, as we alternate back and forth and back and forth between positive and negative developments?  Perhaps like listener Skip from Austin, who wrote in part:


The more I listen, the less hopeful I get for anything ever getting turned around or any justice ever being done at all. It seems this…has been going on for decades, for thousands of years, ever since one caveman abused another…Given the fact you seem to really know your stuff... in the face of so much evidence of utter corruption over so much time, how do you maintain the will to try and do something about it?...

I replied:


I once read that Martin Luther King, Jr. said that if he had his choice, he would have preferred to have been a professor,  smoking his pipe in his office.  But, he acknowledged, there were other things he was called to do.

I would say, that if a victim of the right decides to give up, that's one thing.  But the way I look at it, people like me (and perhaps you) don't legitimately have that option.  Why?  Because of all the horrible things that are being done in my name with my tax dollars by my government.  So as a co-perpetrator, I feel I have an absolute moral duty to fight with every ounce of my breath to stop the right's predations.  Regardless of whether I think I can win.  I just have a duty to try.  

Skip also asked:


Do you have any hope that there will ever be any balance or real justice?

I answered, "Over the long haul, yes.  The historical curve is in that direction."


Speaking of the arc of history, I mentioned Evo Morales earlier, the first indigenous president of Bolivia. You can listen to podcasts 82 and 88 about the amazing situation there.


Right now, listen to Morales speak to the show Democracy Now about his mother:


audio: Evo Morales

DEMOCRACY NOW: I’d like to ask you, you’ve on several occasions mentioned your indigenous origins in your movement. Throughout Latin America now, 500 years after the European conquest, the Native peoples of Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, are taking much more of a role politically. What is the importance of this movement to Latin America?

PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] They excluded for over 500 years, exploited, and in many cases -- for over 500 years -- also have full rights. I mentioned at the United Nations that 34 years ago, my mother didn’t have the right to walk through public spaces, on sidewalks, in public plazas.

And now her son is president of his country.


Do you see where I'm going?


Just think, severe discrimination would also have been encountered by Barack Obama's father if his father had grown up in America.  And now his son is President, of the United States.


The arc of history.


But again, a first you go up, then you go down, roller coaster.  Because ironically, Barack Obama is coming down hard on Evo Morales.  Obama cut off trade benefits for Bolivia.  Supposedly for lack of drug war cooperation, but you really know why.  Better not fight the Four Pillars, Evo.


And yet again, another change of direction on the coaster: I can tell you, that all the nations of Latin America have joined together to form a regional organization, excluding the US and Canada.


The new coalition is meant to rival the O.A.S., which some countries consider a tool of American dominance in the hemisphere.

So there's hope, there's definitely hope.


Let me close with this:


The prime right-wing directive is to transfer wealth, from everyone else, to the already rich.  The Four Pillars are how that's done internationally.


After World War II, a prominent American State Department official, George Kennan, almost too honestly wrote:


We have about 60 per cent of the world's wealth but only 6.3 per cent of its population. Our real task in the coming period (will be) to maintain this position of disparity…

This fact was understood by the fine gentleman who 19 years later, in his "Beyond Vietnam" speech, spoke, in effect, this rejoinder to Kennan:


audio: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments…

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. We in the West must support these revolutions.

As long as you know that you're on the side of Dr. Martin Luther King, and you can feel his powerful spiritual energy still pulsating down through the ages, I truly believe that those who lust after "the immense profits of overseas investments," all these right-wingers, they don't, over the long term, have a chance.




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