November 15, 2009
Those Crazy Democrats

Doing the same thing and expecting a different result might be a definition of crazy, but it also seems to define the Democratic party since the Second World War. Here we go again.

When the United States went into Iraq in 2003, it had a handful of pilotless planes, or drones; it now has over 7,000. The invasion force had no unmanned ground vehicles; the U.S. armed forces now employ more than 12,000. …

Since taking office, President Obama has shown a quiet predilection for drone warfare. He’s been vacuuming up targets. There are two programs in operation: a publicly acknowledged military one in Iraq and Afghanistan and a covert C.I.A. program targeting terror suspects in countries including Pakistan.

This foreign-assassination thing has always worked to our advantage in the past. Consider, just to take a couple examples, Lumumba and Allende, assassinations for which we’re as widely admired as the Israelis are for theirs.

According to a just-completed study by the New America Foundation, quoted in [Jane] Mayer’s [New Yorker] piece, Obama has authorized as many drone strikes in Pakistan in nine and a half months as George W. Bush did in his last three years in office — at least 41 C.I.A. missile strikes, or about one a week, that may have killed more than 500 people.

The dead have included high-value targets like Osama bin Laden’s oldest son and Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban leader in Pakistan — as well as bystanders. Circling drones have struck panic. But as Mayer notes, “The embrace of the Predator program has occurred with remarkably little public discussion, given that it represents a radically new and geographically unbounded use of state-sanctioned lethal force.”

Well, at least we now have a transparently scummy administration rather than a covertly scummy one.

JFK and LBJ were seduced by the availability of a plausibly deniable option. These days, with half the world’s weapons budget supplied by American taxpayers, deniability is a phantom, an invisibility cloak American politicians cling to as if someone actually bought the illusion. Somebody somewhere must, right? Sure, they’re all Americans, but who else gets surveyed? Pollsters are not roaming the mountains of Afghanistan.

The question, as always, is whether the situation improves or deteriorates when we kill a bunch of folks in some distant land, some of whom may or may not be guilty of something we don’t like. I mean, suppose Afghanistan killed a certain number of random Americans because we as a nation failed to buy enough opium products; how would we react? Oh, we’d say, it’s just collateral damage.

On the other hand, the Obama administration has moved with alacrity to confront the growing threat of insufficient health care. As if! Let’s check in with

…Dr. Gilbert Friedell, a crusty 82-year-old who taught at Harvard and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and ran the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center. He is a doctor’s doctor. He thinks, however, that too often doctors are a major problem in creating healthy communities. “Health care,” Friedell argues, “has to be a joint enterprise between patients, families and physicians.”

Nationally, Friedell believes, the health care debate has to be transformed.

“Currently the issues are framed as insurance or not insurance,” he says. “Having insurance gives you financial access to a system, assuming there is a system. It gives you nothing more than that. And getting into the system, if there is one, doesn’t tell you anything about the quality of care, the availability of services, the way the patients and families are treated.”

Kentucky’s fifth congressional district, which includes Harlan and Perry counties, has the lowest life expectancy of any district in America: 72.6 years for men and 76.4 for women. Those numbers would be little changed, Friedell says, by either a government-run system or a requirement that all people have insurance. Substantive change, he says, will only arrive built on a basis of re-ordered health values founded on programs like the ones in Hazard.

The same stupid-shit foreign policy. The same wimp-ass Republican social-values garbage. We need a second political party in this country.

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Posted by Chuck Dupree at November 15, 2009 12:23 AM
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