John Pilger interviewed by Cindy Sheehan + Don’t Shoot the Messenger!

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by Cindy Sheehan
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox Blog
Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox
February 21, 2010

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John Pilger

Once again, Cindy still ♥s the Pacifica Network  and will begin uploading her new half-hour format interview show to the Pacifica affiliate, starting with Venezuela’s Hugo Chaves on March 14th.  However, today Cindy hosts famous and prolific Australian journalist John Pilger.  John has a highly relevant and informative blog at www.johnpilger.com.  Cindy and John have a deep and particularly insightful conversation, touching on Barack Obama’s actual rightwing orientation (contrasted with his characterization by the corporate media as a “socialist”), to the suppression of “forbidden” un-authorized viewpoints.  Ya gotta hear this to get it.

***

Don’t Shoot the Messenger!

Back in the day, during time of war, messages were delivered by a person to the opposing camp. What a job to have, huh? Many times the messenger was killed after the message was delivered out of rage, revenge, or just because.

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Drinking the ACORN Kool-Aid: How Cries of Voter Fraud Cover Up GOP Elections Theft

Dandelion Salad

by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast
http://www.huffingtonpost.com
Oct 28, 2008

Virtually the entire mainstream electronic media drank ACORN Kool-Aid this month brewed up by the Republican National Committee. Almost no one seriously challenged John McCain’s comical assertions that ACORN, a grassroots voter registration group, “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

While the Republicans had the distracted media searching for links between Obama and ACORN, RNC operatives were busily completing one of the most massive voter suppression and purging efforts in American history, stealing hundreds of thousands of Democratic votes across the embattled swing states and striving to arrange chaos and endless lines at the voting booths next week.

[…]

ACORN took pains to screen its registrations and cull out those it considered dubious. However, federal laws make it a felony for voter registration groups like ACORN to discard registrations even when it believes them fraudulent. So ACORN flagged the forms it considered doubtful and handed them in to the registry. Ironically, it was those flagged forms — the fruits of ACORN’s diligence — that have been flogged by Republicans as their best evidence of widespread election fraud.

[…]

via Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast: Drinking the ACORN Kool-Aid: How Cries of Voter Fraud Cover Up GOP Elections Theft

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Clint Curtis: Murder, Spies and Voting Lies

Wear Orange on Election Day!

Not-Voting is a ‘YES’ vote to Reject a Corrupt System which thrives on the facade of Elections and Democracy! by Zahir Ebrahim

A McCain “Win” Will Be Theft, Resistance Is Planned

Voter Suppression Voting Rights

It’s Already Stolen by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast

Dandelion Salad

by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast
ROLLING STONE
Oct 16, 2008

Investigation by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast released today

Don’t worry about Mickey Mouse or ACORN stealing the election. According to an investigative report out today in Rolling Stone magazine, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast, after a year-long investigation, reveal a systematic program of “GOP vote tampering” on a massive scale.

– Republican Secretaries of State of swing-state Colorado have quietly purged one in six names from their voter rolls.

Over several months, the GOP politicos in Colorado stonewalled every attempt by Rolling Stone to get an answer to the massive purge – ten times the average state’s rate of removal.

[…]

via Greg Palast » ROLLING STONE: It’s Already Stolen

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Greg Palast: Voting Fraud is a Fraud + Exposing flaws in the voting system

Steal Back Your Vote! by Greg Palast and RFK, Jr.

Dandelion Salad

GregPalastOffice

Greg Palast investigates how they’re stealing your vote… And tells you what you can do to steal it back! With Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

www.stealbackyourvote.org

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The Bobby Kennedy myth by Joe Allen

Dandelion Salad

by Joe Allen
http://socialistworker.org
June 6, 2008

Joe Allen, author of the new history Vietnam: The (Last) War the U.S. Lost, looks at the life of Robert F. Kennedy, assassinated 40 years ago this week, and separates the myth from the reality.

I think we can end the divisions in the United States…the violence, the disenchantment with our society, the divisions, whether it’s between blacks and whites, between the poor and the affluent, or between age groups, or over the war in Vietnam–that we can start to work together again. We are a great country, an unselfish country and a compassionate country…. So my thanks to all of you, and it’s on to Chicago, and let’s win there.

ROBERT F. KENNEDY said this to ecstatic supporters at the Ambassador Hotel following his triumph in the California Democratic primary on June 4, 1968. Shortly after his victory speech, Kennedy left the stage, and as he was entering the crowded hotel kitchen to greet supporters, he was shot and mortally wounded. Two days later, he died.

For many liberals, the hopes for progressive political change died with him. “The ’60s came to an end in a Los Angeles hospital on June 6, 1968,” Richard Goodwin mournfully declared in his popular memoir Remembering America: A Voice from the Sixties. Goodwin was a former White House staffer during the Kennedy-Johnson administrations who had resigned over the escalation of the war in Vietnam. He would later become a speechwriter for Sens. Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy during their 1968 presidential campaigns.

Jack Newfield, one of the leading journalists of the Village Voice, wrote in his memoir of Robert Kennedy that after his death “from this time forward, things would get worse.”

Goodwin, along with historians like Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and many members of an adoring press corps who could barely contain their enthusiasm for Bobby Kennedy’s quest for the White House when he was alive, would transform his life and death into a powerful liberal myth that has lasted to this very day.

Bobby Kennedy–in reality, an arrogant and intolerant political operative obsessed with his older brother John F. Kennedy’s political career–is now remembered as a thoughtful, pained prophet who identified with the dispossessed and forgotten of American society.

He has been placed alongside his brother and Martin Luther King Jr. as a trio whose assassinations collectively put America on the wrong historical path. Had they lived, much of the “turmoil” of the 1960s–the urban rebellions, the war in Vietnam and the long decades of conservative rule begun with Richard Nixon’s election to the presidency in 1968–could have been avoided.

Bobby Kennedy was the last hope–so goes the myth–for peaceful, progressive change. In the words of Michael Harrington, author of The Other America, “he was a man who actually could have changed the course of American history.”

The question we have to ask four decades later is whether any of this is remotely true.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

ROBERT FRANCIS Kennedy was the third son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., a ruthless and politically ambitious businessman from Massachusetts. Kennedy Sr. made a fortune from a variety of enterprises, including real estate, moviemaking, the stock market and bootlegging alcohol during Prohibition.

Joe Kennedy had extensive ties to organized crime and corrupt politicians, who helped make him very rich and to pursue his political ambitions. His own ambition to be the first Irish Catholic president of the United States, however, was thwarted by Franklin Roosevelt, and he transferred his dream to his sons. Three out of four would either become president or run for the presidency.

It is one of the great ironies of U.S. political mythology that the Kennedy family, viewed today as the very symbol of liberalism, was, in fact, deeply conservative.

Joe Kennedy was openly supportive of the pro-fascist forces in Spain during that country’s civil war in the 1930s. He was appointed U.S. ambassador to Great Britain by Roosevelt in 1938, and was known as an “appeaser”–one of those who supported making concessions to Hitler on the eve of the Second World War. Herbert von Dirksen, the German ambassador to Britain, told his superiors that Ambassador Kennedy was “Germany’s best friend” in London. Kennedy was fired as U.S. ambassador in 1940.

From this point onward, Joe Kennedy concentrated on promoting his sons’ political careers and conservative causes in more covert ways. He was very close to the infamous anticommunist Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, after McCarthy became famous for persecuting liberals and radicals. During McCarthy’s 1952 reelection campaign, Joe made a sizeable contribution and then asked that his son Bobby be placed on the McCarthy subcommittee investigating “subversives.”

Bobby only stayed on McCarthy’s committee for six months, using it as a springboard for an assignment to another congressional committee that gained him greater notoriety–the Senate Rackets Committee led by the reactionary Democratic Sen. John McClellan of Arkansas, whom the conservative labor leader George Meany described as “an anti-labor nut.”

As an assistant counsel to McClellan, Bobby carried on his particularly vicious persecution of Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa, gaining a reputation for ruthlessness in pursuit of his political enemies and rivals. Joe Kennedy complimented his son on this character trait. “He’s a great kid,” Joe said. “He hates the same way I do.”

Throughout the 1950s, Bobby remained focused on building his older brother’s political career. He was campaign manager for John F. Kennedy’s first U.S. Senate campaign in 1952 and his presidential campaign in 1960. Bobby was his brother’s closest advisor (after Joe Kennedy Sr.). When JFK won the presidency, he made Bobby his attorney general.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE KENNEDY presidency took place during a crucial time for three issues that would later come to dominate the rest of the decade: the civil rights movement, the Cuban Revolution and the war in Vietnam.

The Kennedys relied heavily on the Black vote to win the presidency in 1960, making certain symbolic overtures to Martin Luther King during the campaign. But as Bobby recalled in 1964, “I did not lie awake at night worrying about the problems of Negroes.”

That would soon change as Freedom Riders challenged segregation on interstate bus lines during the first year of the Kennedy presidency. The year before, a wave of sit-ins took place across the country to desegregate everything from lunch counters to public swimming pools. A mass movement against Jim Crow segregation was emerging–and the Kennedys did everything they could to contain it.

The Democratic Party was still a Jim Crow party–white Southern Democrats were known as “Dixiecrats”–with Blacks almost entirely disenfranchised in the South and the border states. For most of the 20th century, the Democrats needed the “solid South” (the states of the former Confederacy voting for the Democratic ticket as a bloc) to win national elections, and Kennedy was no exception. During his short time in office, John Kennedy appointed five supporters of segregation to the federal judiciary.

The Freedom Riders and sit-ins threatened to push the Dixiecrats into the Republican Party. The Kennedys hoped to pressure civil rights activists in a direction that wouldn’t jeopardize their southern support.

John Kennedy told Louisiana Gov. James H. Davis that his administration was trying “to put this stuff in the courts and get it off the street.” As attorney general, Bobby Kennedy famously told representatives of student civil rights groups, “If you cut out this Freedom Rider and sitting-in stuff and concentrate on voter registration, I’ll get you a tax exemption.”

He told Harris Wofford, special assistant to the president on civil rights, “This is too much,” after King refused to call off the protests. RFK added, “I wonder if they have the best interests of the country at heart. Do you know that one of them is against the atom bomb? Yes, he even picketed against it in jail! The president is going abroad, and all this is embarrassing him.”

Robert Kennedy also authorized FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover to begin wiretapping Martin Luther King’s telephone conversations on the grounds that Stanley Levison, King’s closest adviser, was allegedly a closet member of the Communist Party. Of King, RFK remarked, “We never wanted to get very close to him just because of these contacts and connections that he had, which we felt were damaging to the civil rights movement.”

The Kennedys put enormous pressure on the organizers of the historic March on Washington in August 1963 to cancel the event; then, when that failed, to control it. Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee leader and future member of Congress John Lewis wanted to say in his speech: “I want to know: Which side is the federal government on?” The administration compelled him to take this out because, according to Bobby Kennedy, it “attacked the president.”

Lewis’s frustration with the Kennedy administration would have resonated with many civil rights supporters. One major source of frustration with the Kennedys was their refusal to provide federal protection to civil rights activists. Bobby later admitted, “We abandoned the solution, really, of trying to give people protection.”

A generation of civil rights activists became radicalized in the face of the waffling compromises and inaction of the Kennedy administration.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

MANY OF that generation also became radicalized by the Kennedy administration’s foreign policy, particularly when it came to Cuba and Vietnam. The Kennedy brothers were as committed to defending the American empire as any reactionary Republican.

For much of the 20th century, Cuba had been, for all intents and purposes, a colony of the United States, where poverty wages were being paid–and huge profits reaped–by American corporations. It also was a haven for the American Mafia.

Castro’s nationalist revolution in 1959 drove the American ruling class to hysterics, and they set out to destroy Castro. The Kennedy administration inherited plans from the Eisenhower administration and authorized the CIA’s disastrous “Bay of Pigs” invasion of Cuba in early 1961, the most spectacular of the U.S. government’s failed attempts to crush the Cuban Revolution.

But it didn’t stop there. Bobby Kennedy led a special White House committee that oversaw “Operation Mongoose,” a wide-ranging covert program of sabotage, assassination, blackmail and other activities directed against Fidel Castro and the Cuban government. Bobby declared that it was “top priority” to get rid of Castro. The U.S. failed, but its campaign resulted in untold death and destruction across Cuba.

The Kennedy brothers’ failure in Cuba only made them more determined to succeed elsewhere. They became fascinated with “unorthodox” warfare: counter-insurgency, assassination and covert action. The Eisenhower administration had authorized the CIA to carry out 170 major covert operations in eight years, while the Kennedy brothers authorized 163 in less than three years.

Vietnam became a laboratory for all these deadly programs. By the time of John F. Kennedy’s death in November 1963, the United States was already fighting a proxy war in Vietnam. Its 15,000 military advisors were leading combat operations and bombing missions in a faltering effort to prevent the victory of the National Liberation Front (NLF) of South Vietnam, called derisively by U.S. officials the “Viet Cong.”

In early November 1963, after the United States engineered the assassination of the corrupt South Vietnamese dictator Ngo Dinh Diem, Bobby said to his brother, “It’s better if you don’t have him, but you have to have somebody that can win the war, and who is that?” The “who” never emerged, but that didn’t stop the United States from destroying large parts of Vietnam in the hopes of winning the war against the NLF and the North Vietnamese.

After John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in November 1963, Bobby remained in the cabinet as a lame-duck attorney general until August 1964, when he resigned and ran successfully for a U.S. Senate seat from New York.

Despite his personal hatred for the reigning Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, who triumphed over his Republican rival Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election in part by pledging to keep the U.S. out of a ground war in Vietnam, Bobby supported Johnson’s war policies in Vietnam. As a U.S. senator, he never voted against any appropriation bills that funded the war. I.F. Stone, the great radical journalist, wrote an article in October 1966 titled “While Others Dodge the Draft, Bobby Dodges the War.”

In the Democratic congressional primaries in 1966, a number of antiwar candidates ran against incumbents supporting Johnson’s war policies. The best known of these was radical journalist Robert Scheer, who challenged Representative Jeffrey Cohelan, representing a district covering parts of Berkeley and Oakland in California. Kennedy endorsed Cohelan.

Even the slavishly loyal Kennedy biographer Arthur Schlesinger was forced to admit, “Kennedy brooded about Vietnam, but said less in public.” What were Bobby and other Senate liberals “brooding” about? Two things: the prospect of the United States losing the war, and the growing dissent in the country that threatened the Democratic Party’s domination of national politics since the early 1930s. How could the Democrats–the “war party” in Vietnam–capture the antiwar vote?

Antiwar sentiment was bound to find expression in the Democratic Party; it may have been the governing war party, but it was still the liberal party, and more importantly, it was the party that had traditionally played the role of capturing and disarming mass movements for social change.

When Bobby Kennedy made it clear that he would not challenge Johnson for the Democratic nomination, the field was left open for a little-known Democratic senator from Minnesota, Eugene “Gene” McCarthy, to run as an antiwar candidate. In November 1967, at the press conference announcing his candidacy, McCarthy was quite open about his political objective:

There is growing evidence of a deepening moral crisis in America–discontent and frustration and a disposition to take extralegal if not illegal actions to manifest protest. I am hopeful that this challenge…may counter the growing sense of alienation from politics which I think is currently reflected in a tendency to withdraw from political action, to talk of nonparticipation, to become cynical and to make threats of support for third parties or fourth parties or other irregular political movements.

Kennedy’s “broodings” got worse after the Tet Offensive by the NLF and its North Vietnamese allies at the end of January 1968. A large majority of the U.S. population concluded from the offensive that the war had become a “quagmire” and couldn’t be won. The leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Richard Nixon, was proposing “peace with honor” to the Democrats’ war policies.

Gene McCarthy’s campaign would have gone down as a footnote in history, but because of the Tet Offensive, he won 42 percent of the vote in the first primary contest in New Hampshire. It shocked Johnson, leading him to withdraw from the race. It was at this moment that Bobby announced his candidacy for the presidency.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

IT’S IMPORTANT to be clear that Robert Kennedy never advocated unilateral withdrawal of U.S. forces from Southeast Asia; in fact, he voted against this. While he peppered most of his campaign speeches in 1968 with rhetoric about the need for “peace” in Vietnam, he offered little more than talk of a “negotiated settlement,” which was not very different from what Johnson or Nixon proposed, while they continued to wage war against the Vietnamese people.

Bobby’s chief political goal, like Eugene McCarthy’s, was to capture the support of the antiwar movement and to deliver it into the safe confines of the Democratic Party.

With a political record like his, why did Bobby Kennedy’s campaign generate such excitement? Kennedy attracted large, enthusiastic, sometimes frantic crowds that just wanted to reach out and touch him. His most bland speeches elicited roaring approval from supporters. The media at the time described him as having a “pop star” appeal to the young.

In many ways, Kennedy became the receptacle for the hopes of those millions of Americans who still desired change through the established political system.

He encouraged these illusions in him. He met with well-known antiwar activists like former Students for a Democratic Society president Tom Hayden and former Yale professor Staughton Lynd. He had a well-publicized meeting with United Farm Workers union leader Cesar Chavez while he was on hunger strike.

Kennedy would also confide to reporters, “I wish I’d had been born an Indian” and “I’m jealous of the fact that you grew up in a ghetto, I wish I’d had that experience”–or even more ridiculously, “If I hadn’t been born rich, I’d probably be a revolutionary.”

But he could also strike a chord with people. On the night of Martin Luther King’s assassination, he spoke to a predominately Black audience and told them that he could identify with their anger because “his brother was killed by a white man.”

Kennedy, however, worked both sides of the street. While crafting a left-wing, even rebellious, image for the younger generation, he also sought the support of the party bosses for his campaign. He sought but failed to get the support of Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, the very symbol of Jim Crow in the North, for his presidential bid. “Daley’s the whole ballgame,” Kennedy declared.

One of his earliest supporters was Jesse Unruh, the speaker of the California State Assembly, who is attributed to popularizing the saying, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”

Kennedy also didn’t sound very progressive on many key issues. He opposed economic sanctions on South Africa for its apartheid policies, and he opposed busing to integrate schools. Kennedy even attacked Gene McCarthy during their televised debate prior to the California primary for his support for building public housing in the suburbs. Kennedy said incredulously, “You say you are going to take 10,000 Black people and move them into Orange County.”

McCarthy believed that Kennedy advocated a “segregated residential apartheid.” Kennedy’s big idea to alleviate poverty in the inner cities was to provide tax breaks to corporations to move into blighted neighborhoods. Then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan believed that “Kennedy is talking more and more like me.”

With all this in mind, how could Bobby Kennedy be turned into such an icon?

The American myth-making machine is very powerful and usually does two things. It elevates people like the Kennedy brothers to a status that they do not deserve, while washing away the real radical politics that were at the core of activists like Martin Luther King. They are all mushed together into a candy-coated picture of the alleged greatness of American society and its political system. “The yearning for Robert Kennedy–or someone like him–is an open wound in some parts of America,” wrote one reporter two decades after his death.

Some would say Barack Obama is an example of “someone like him” today. Yet when we remember Robert Kennedy, it should not be as someone who promised hope and idealism, but as an opportunist who was part of a political establishment responsible for the things the movements of 1960s struggled against.

***

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Why can’t we all get KennedyCare? by Helen Redmond

Dandelion Salad

by Helen Redmond
http://socialistworker.org
June 5, 2008

Helen Redmond asks why Ted Kennedy deserves a better standard of health care than ordinary Americans.

LAST MONTH, Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. All the major news outlets provided daily updates on Kennedy’s medical treatment and prognosis.

The media failed to point out an important fact: Unlike average Americans, the senator from Massachusetts didn’t have to worry for one minute that he wouldn’t get the care he needed for his life-threatening cancer.

The president, vice president and members of Congress all enjoy government-financed health care, with few restrictions or prohibitive out-of-pocket co-pays. They are never turned away for pre-existing conditions or denied care for what insurance companies label “experimental treatments” (like the brain surgery Kennedy just underwent).

No, from the moment he had a seizure at his home on Cape Cod and was flown to Boston (an ambulance would have taken too long), until his surgery early this week, he got what the California Nurses Association (CNA) has dubbed “CheneyCare”–named in honor of the vice president with a chronic heart condition, for whom no health care expense is too great.

Kennedy and his family didn’t have to spend hours on the phone fighting to get pre-authorization to see a neurosurgeon, and he didn’t wait months for an appointment. Within a week, he had a meeting with a group of top-flight neurosurgeons from the country’s leading medical institutions to discuss all his options and select a surgeon.

Kennedy didn’t have to argue with his insurer to get all those second opinions. And he wasn’t told by an insurance company bureaucrat that the surgery wasn’t “medically necessary” on the basis that the prognosis for a man his age with a malignant glioma in the parietal lobe is bleak at best.

Kennedy elected to have surgery at the Brain Tumor Center at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. He lives in Massachusetts, of course, but it wasn’t a problem that the surgery took place in another state–apparently the doctors and hospital aren’t “out of network.”

He won’t be sent a bill for the surgery and hospitalization. And, of course, Kennedy will never have to declare bankruptcy due to medical debt.

THE SENATOR from Massachusetts has staked his legislative career on reforming the health care system. By any measure, he and all the other politicians in Washington have failed abysmally.

Two statistics speak volumes about the scale of the health care crisis in the U.S. today: 50 million people in the United States have no health insurance, and at least 18,000 die every year due to lack of access to health care.

In 1971, Kennedy was actually in favor of a national, single-payer health care system. In opposition to President Richard Nixon’s support for a mandate requiring employers to purchase private insurance for employees, Kennedy, along with Rep. Martha Griffiths (D-Mich.), proposed the Health Security Act.

The legislation aimed to eliminate the role of commercial insurers and provide everyone with comprehensive medical benefits, financing the program out of a payroll tax and the government’s general revenues.

Kennedy railed against Nixon’s mandates, saying this would provide the insurance industry with “a windfall of billions of dollars annually.” How ironic then that Kennedy’s home state of Massachusetts was the first to pass a mandate model for extending health care coverage–with Kennedy a chief supporter of then Gov. Mitt Romney’s program.

The mandates are a failure. There are still over 600,000 uninsured in Massachusetts. All Massachusetts residents are required to have insurance, and for many not covered by their employer or under programs for the poor, that means buying policies. The lowest-cost plan offered to a couple in their 50s is $8,200 annually, with a $2,000 per person deductible.

The insurance industry loves the Massachusetts mandate. In the words that Kennedy uttered decades ago, it’s “a windfall of billions of dollars annually.”

Back in the 1970s, Kennedy abandoned the Health Security Act, saying it wasn’t “politically feasible.” In reality, he wasn’t willing to take on the medical-industrial complex.

Kennedy became known as the master of the “across-the-aisle compromise.” But these compromises, while maintaining the power and profits of the private insurance industry, didn’t lower the cost of health care or increase the percentage of people with insurance.

In 1974, he proposed the Mills-Kennedy Bill, a capitulation to the private insurance industry that preserved their role and the link between employment and health insurance. The Committee for National Health Insurance, founded by the United Auto Workers union, broke with Kennedy over this betrayal, charging him with “selling out on the health issue.” In 1978, Kennedy sold out again by advocating an employer mandate that continued to allow commercial insurers a central role, but with greater federal regulation.

Kennedy is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. Not surprisingly, he is one of the top recipients of health-care industry political contributions. During his 40 years in Congress, he has accepted millions from insurance and pharmaceutical political action committees, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Perhaps this explains why he has refused to co-sponsor Rep. John Conyers HR 676, legislation that would create a single-payer, government-financed health care system.

For politicians like Kennedy, there will never be a time when single-payer, government-financed health care is politically feasible, viable or attainable.

Instead, they will echo the words of Barack Obama–another former supporter of single payer and current recipient of big bucks from the health sector. Obama argues that if he was starting from scratch, he would be in favor of single-payer, but now, we have to build on the broken system we have.

A government-financed health care system for everyone just won’t work–except for them.

From Kennedy to Obama: Liberalism’s last fling By John Pilger

Dandelion Salad

By John Pilger
05/30/08 “ICH”
http://www.johnpilger.com

Bobby Kennedy’s campaign is the model for Barack Obama’s current bid to be the Democratic nominee for the White House. Both offer a false hope that they can bring peace and racial harmony to all Americans

In this season of 1968 nostalgia, one anniversary illuminates today. It is the rise and fall of Robert Kennedy, who would have been elected president of the United States had he not been assassinated in June 1968. Having travelled with Kennedy up to the moment of his shooting at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on 5 June, I heard The Speech many times. He would “return government to the people” and bestow “dignity and justice” on the oppressed. “As Bernard Shaw once said,” he would say, “‘Most men look at things as they are and wonder why. I dream of things that never were and ask: Why not?'” That was the signal to run back to the bus. It was fun until a hail of bullets passed over our shoulders.

Kennedy’s campaign is a model for Barack Obama. Like Obama, he was a senator with no achievements to his name. Like Obama, he raised the expectations of young people and minorities. Like Obama, he promised to end an unpopular war, not because he opposed the war’s conquest of other people’s land and resources, but because it was “unwinnable”.

Should Obama beat John McCain to the White House in November, it will be liberalism’s last fling. In the United States and Britain, liberalism as a war-making, divisive ideology is once again being used to destroy liberalism as a reality. A great many people understand this, as the hatred of Blair and new Labour attest, but many are disoriented and eager for “leadership” and basic social democracy. In the US, where unrelenting propaganda about American democratic uniqueness disguises a corporate system based on extremes of wealth and privilege, liberalism as expressed through the Democratic Party has played a crucial, compliant role.

In 1968, Robert Kennedy sought to rescue the party and his own ambitions from the threat of real change that came from an alliance of the civil rights campaign and the anti-war movement then commanding the streets of the main cities, and which Martin Luther King had drawn together until he was assassinated in April that year. Kennedy had supported the war in Vietnam and continued to support it in private, but this was skilfully suppressed as he competed against the maverick Eugene McCarthy, whose surprise win in the New Hampshire primary on an anti-war ticket had forced President Lyndon Johnson to abandon the idea of another term. Using the memory of his martyred brother, Kennedy assiduously exploited the electoral power of delusion among people hungry for politics that represented them, not the rich.

“These people love you,” I said to him as we left Calexico, California, where the immigrant population lived in abject poverty and people came like a great wave and swept him out of his car, his hands fastened to their lips.

“Yes, yes, sure they love me,” he replied. “I love them!” I asked him how exactly he would lift them out of poverty: just what was his political philosophy? “Philosophy? Well, it’s based on a faith in this country and I believe that many Americans have lost this faith and I want to give it back to them, because we are the last and the best hope of the world, as Thomas Jefferson said.”

“That’s what you say in your speech. Surely the question is: How?”

“How . . . by charting a new direction for America.”

The vacuities are familiar. Obama is his echo. Like Kennedy, Obama may well “chart a new direction for America” in specious, media-honed language, but in reality he will secure, like every president, the best damned democracy money can buy.

Embarrassing truth

As their contest for the White House draws closer, watch how, regardless of the inevitable personal smears, Obama and McCain draw nearer to each other. They already concur on America’s divine right to control all before it. “We lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good,” said Obama. “We must lead by building a 21st-century military . . . to advance the security of all people [emphasis added].” McCain agrees. Obama says in pursuing “terrorists” he would attack Pakistan. McCain wouldn’t quarrel.

Both candidates have paid ritual obeisance to the regime in Tel Aviv, unquestioning support for which defines all presidential ambition. In opposing a UN Security Council resolution implying criticism of Israel’s starvation of the people of Gaza, Obama was ahead of both McCain and Hillary Clinton. In January, pressured by the Israel lobby, he massaged a statement that “nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people” to now read: “Nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognise Israel [emphasis added].” Such is his concern for the victims of the longest, illegal military occupation of modern times. Like all the candidates, Obama has furthered Israeli/Bush fictions about Iran, whose regime, he says absurdly, “is a threat to all of us”.

On the war in Iraq, Obama the dove and McCain the hawk are almost united. McCain now says he wants US troops to leave in five years (instead of “100 years”, his earlier option). Obama has now “reserved the right” to change his pledge to get troops out next year. “I will listen to our commanders on the ground,” he now says, echoing Bush. His adviser on Iraq, Colin Kahl, says the US should maintain up to 80,000 troops in Iraq until 2010. Like McCain, Obama has voted repeatedly in the Senate to support Bush’s demands for funding of the occupation of Iraq; and he has called for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan. His senior advisers embrace McCain’s proposal for an aggressive “league of democracies”, led by the United States, to circumvent the United Nations.

Amusingly, both have denounced their “preachers” for speaking out. Whereas McCain’s man of God praised Hitler, in the fashion of lunatic white holy-rollers, Obama’s man, Jeremiah Wright, spoke an embarrassing truth. He said that the attacks of 11 September 2001 had taken place as a consequence of the violence of US power across the world. The media demanded that Obama disown Wright and swear an oath of loyalty to the Bush lie that “terrorists attacked America because they hate our freedoms”. So he did. The conflict in the Middle East, said Obama, was rooted not “primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel”, but in “the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam”. Journalists applauded. Islamophobia is a liberal speciality.

The American media love both Obama and McCain. Reminiscent of mating calls by Guardian writers to Blair more than a decade ago, Jann Wenner, founder of the liberal Rolling Stone, wrote: “There is a sense of dignity, even majesty, about him, and underneath that ease lies a resolute discipline . . . Like Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama challenges America to rise up, to do what so many of us long to do: to summon ‘the better angels of our nature’.” At the liberal New Republic, Charles Lane confessed: “I know it shouldn’t be happening, but it is. I’m falling for John McCain.” His colleague Michael Lewis had gone further. His feelings for McCain, he wrote, were like “the war that must occur inside a 14-year-old boy who discovers he is more sexually attracted to boys than to girls”.

The objects of these uncontrollable passions are as one in their support for America’s true deity, its corporate oligarchs. Despite claiming that his campaign wealth comes from small individual donors, Obama is backed by the biggest Wall Street firms: Goldman Sachs, UBS AG, Lehman Brothers, J P Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, as well as the huge hedge fund Citadel Investment Group. “Seven of the Obama campaign’s top 14 donors,” wrote the investigator Pam Martens, “consisted of officers and employees of the same Wall Street firms charged time and again with looting the public and newly implicated in originating and/or bundling fraudulently made mortgages.” A report by United for a Fair Economy, a non-profit group, estimates the total loss to poor Americans of colour who took out sub-prime loans as being between $164bn and $213bn: the greatest loss of wealth ever recorded for people of colour in the United States. “Washington lobbyists haven’t funded my campaign,” said Obama in January, “they won’t run my White House and they will not drown out the voices of working Americans when I am president.” According to files held by the Centre for Responsive Politics, the top five contributors to the Obama campaign are registered corporate lobbyists.

What is Obama’s attraction to big business? Precisely the same as Robert Kennedy’s. By offering a “new”, young and apparently progressive face of the Democratic Party – with the bonus of being a member of the black elite – he can blunt and divert real opposition. That was Colin Powell’s role as Bush’s secretary of state. An Obama victory will bring intense pressure on the US anti-war and social justice movements to accept a Democratic administration for all its faults. If that happens, domestic resistance to rapacious America will fall silent.

Piracies and dangers

America’s war on Iran has already begun. In December, Bush secretly authorised support for two guerrilla armies inside Iran, one of which, the military arm of Mujahedin-e Khalq, is described by the state department as terrorist. The US is also engaged in attacks or subversion against Somalia, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bolivia and Venezuela. A new military command, Africom, is being set up to fight proxy wars for control of Africa’s oil and other riches. With US missiles soon to be stationed provocatively on Russia’s borders, the Cold War is back. None of these piracies and dangers has raised a whisper in the presidential campaign, not least from its great liberal hope.

Moreover, none of the candidates represents so-called mainstream America. In poll after poll, voters make clear that they want the normal decencies of jobs, proper housing and health care. They want their troops out of Iraq and the Israelis to live in peace with their Palestinian neighbours. This is a remarkable testimony, given the daily brainwashing of ordinary Americans in almost everything they watch and read.

On this side of the Atlantic, a deeply cynical electorate watches British liberalism’s equivalent last fling. Most of the “philosophy” of new Labour was borrowed wholesale from the US. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair were interchangeable. Both were hostile to traditionalists in their parties who might question the corporate-speak of their class-based economic policies and their relish for colonial conquests. Now the British find themselves spectators to the rise of new Tory, distinguishable from Blair’s new Labour only in the personality of its leader, a former corporate public relations man who presents himself as Tonier than thou. We all deserve better.

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