Monday, June 22, 2009

Iran: The Mystical Glory of “Reciprocal History”

A lesson for Americans unfolds in the streets of a great Iranian city. 100

Greetings to the people of Iran. Thank you for reminding us of the nature of leadership. Thank you for reminding us that the special leadership which changes history arises from the common sense at the foundation of culture and not from the sterile, frightened, ideological ambitions at the top.

Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for reminding us that following is an honorable equivalent to leading. Thank you for reminding us that ordinary citizens actually do have the time to perform the work of leading themselves, the ordinary insight to direct their futures and the ordinary knowledge to discern the true from the false when they awake and strive for such great things.

In our proud history, the United States sent the entire world the vivifying glimpse of freedom, then it sent that same whole world our very worst face right behind that glimpse. We have extracted, coerced, manipulated and suppressed your dreams and put the results in the banks of our most greedy and least honorable. We have imprisoned the men you elected. We have watched while our lowest neighbors have corrupted entire countries for cheap oil and labor and stolen for themselves every crumb of your dreams for your own future and the future of the lives of your children and families.

We watch these same hollow, fearful Americans attempt to turn even your bravery and suffering to an advantage for their politics. “Intervene or you’re soft on freedom!” they wail.

But now, we find ourselves stranded in the disaster we made. We see the broken faces of the shocked victims of our "depression" staring blankly through the smoke of our own avarice, our own rampage, as it passes through Europe and Asia like a plague, devouring their lives and fortunes. Their futures. Their lifetimes of work and prudence. For a whole generation.

Worse, we see ourselves numbed by the final realization of the scope and gravity of what Americans have done, astonished that we could have allowed our countrymen to inflict such immense harm while blindly watching, seeing only our lofty, spoken claims, not the substance of such horrible acts. As a country, we find ourselves stupefied in a hangover, haunted by growing waves of realization, inescapably trapped by history. All our "knowledge" turns out to be nothing but a shabby deception. At this sobering moment, we find our thoughts too soiled, too horribly manipulated, to understand Iran, the "axis of evil."

Why do these people hate us? Can it be that they are so unfair? Hardly.

Iran, you have grasped the dream we have forgotten. To every one of you with a bloody back or a broken knee in the streets of Teheran, we salute you. Now, after you have followed our magnificent dream, it is time for us to return to our lost honor, to, this time, follow yours.

Enough said, America.

We might yet avoid what we see in Teheran in our own cities, but we will not avoid it sitting abashedly in our houses. We Americans still have the wounds and scars of letting the same sad pathos of profit and power almost wrest our nation away from us. Our adversaries are temporarily at rest, licking their wounds, but still filled with that same blood frenzy, that same predatory ambition of completing what they only barely failed to finish before last year. They plan to enslave us with either our own fears or, shockingly, with our own lethargy.

These wretches have divided us against ourselves with the dream of creating an Iran here, not a theocracy per se, but an unassailable oligarchy embued with an equally ominous perfidy. They think that, with the election of Obama, we will once again drift back to a state where we are too occupied to care what they take from us. They are out there in our midst, skulking, hiding behind their billions and dreaming of owning our souls.

What’s left but Shakespeare?

With Julius Caesar destroyed in the Senate, the Roman Republic slides into civil war at the battle of Phillipi from which it will emerge an Empire. Marcus Brutus, friend and assassin who faces defeat in the coming battle, speaks:

That we have tried the utmost of our friends,
Our legions are brimful, our cause is ripe:
The enemy increaseth everyday;
We, at the height, are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea we are now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
or lose our ventures.

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Scene III.

Now, who feels like just sitting there until we are Iran?

MeanMesa suggests a posting on this blog which provides a historical overview of the present conflict: "Comprehending Iran: The Nuclear Power"

Monday, June 15, 2009

Oooh. Health Care and the Senate

Creeping Into Sensible Health Care

How to reform health care without lowering health industry corporate profits. Have we exaggerated how bad the Senate has actually become?

The fact is simple enough. HEALTH CARE CAN BE REFORMED WITHOUT HURTING CORPORATE PROFITS! IT CAN! IT CAN! IT REALLY CAN! This is the extremely, extremely difficult, complex and complicated policy our Senate must create as it charts its course into Obama’s future plans. Right.

My goodness. These altruistic souls have already promised to lower health care costs by two trillion dollars in the next ten years. Oh, wait a minute. “Promises” from the health care corporations? Did they figure we were stupid or just not watching?

The durable remnant of the Obama Campaign’s millions of supporters is what is now called “Organizing for America.” Although that name seems to clearly communicate the theme of such an organization, MeanMesa suspects that a tedious redundancy is probably still relevant. First, what is the alternative? “Not Organizing for America?” Or, perhaps, “Organizing for Something Else Besides America?”

The last title, “Organizing for Something Else Besides America” pretty much describes exactly Obama’s health care plan is up against in the U.S. Senate. To assist MeanMesa visitors in their efforts to understand all the seemingly incomprehensible arguments, now flying fast and loose through the “wholly owned” reactionary media, this posting of Short Current Essays will be divided into four delicious, nutritious and conveniently packaged parts.

That is, this MeanMesa Post is divided into four sections for your more convenient reading.

Part One: Adjustments: Hybridizing Corporate Private Health Insurance to Sustain Profits While Avoiding Better Outcomes
Part Two: Service Agreement: Congratulations on the Purchase of Your New Senator
Part Three: A Paragon of Senatorial Representation: The Fabulous Frist Family
Part Four: Solutions: Since We’re Creeping, How About Creeping Here?

The motivations for this “continuing to beat a dead horse,” approach are two fold. First, the engine at the “Organizing for America” e-mail factory has requested that all Obama campaign supporters “talk up” the health care plan in the hope of frightening enough Senators out of the pockets of the health and pharmaceutical industry’s lobbyists long enough to possibly pass something. Second, the media blitz of lies and deceptions has actually migrated beyond its irritatingly traditional role of regurgitating Limbaugh/Hannity wet dreams about President Obama being 1.) a child molester, 2.) a cannibal, 3.) a serial killer, 4.) a socialist, 5.) a Nazi, 6.) the Antichrist, 7.) weak on defense, or, 8.) a frustrated, under privileged, young black man who has always dreamed of bossing around Wall Street Bankers and automobile CEO’s to outrageous lies -- MeanMesa certainly tried to think of some other, less inflammatory term -- carefully crafted by the psychologists at the PHARMA headquarters on K Street.

The media frenzy plods along pretending ownership of the full range of credibility from the “dirty shirt” network pundit’s (these would be the likes of the slinking, genius Krauthammmmers, et al.) “hair on fire threats” of a bankrupt nation (already bankrupt, thank you very much...) to the entirely objective interview with the “woman on the street,” that is, the woman who is usually busy with her antiabortion shot gun in between her church sessions about homosexuals.

Heh, heh, heh. Remember: the best way to prevent the Fed’s from “getting between you and your Doctor” is simply to not have a Doctor! After all, doctors, although quite useful when needed, can get incredibly expensive when one faces their bills without health insurance to help pay them.

So, now that the tone of this posting has been set with such exquisite cordiality, let’s waste no more words on introduction.

Part One: Adjustments: Hybridizing Corporate Private Health Insurance to Sustain Profits While Avoiding Better Outcomes and Lowering Costs

The “nice lady” reporting the “news” emphasizes that a “public option” would bankrupt the private insurance corporations. Breathlessly, she adds that the “public option” would also bankrupt all the American hospitals.

Well, duh! Does anybody think they haven't been doing their damnedest to bankrupt us?

According to her “public opinion polls,” “most Americans” would almost instantly opt for a public program, leaving the “take” for the health care monopoly sketchier and sketchier by the minute. Such a development would literally starve the usual “rich and well earned rewards” of the corporate parasites into nothing more than table crumbs when compared to the annual trillions they are presently able to extort. Their rapacious franchise controlling every detail of medical care was not simply an unanticipated serendipity as was the case with, say, last year’s $4.50 gallon gasoline.

No indeed.

In fact, far from the unanticipated serendipity of sudden monumental profits, their current wave of success and prosperity is actually a meticulously crafted structure of corruption and bribery. To get to this state required literally billions of dollars to be purloined from your health care premiums and transferred quietly as campaign contributions to U. S. Senators. And, of late, probably also to U. S. Presidents and their opportunistic staff of Viking wannabe’s. These skunks spent equal millions convincing us that these campaign contributions barely even existed at all and that our insurance premiums were almost entirely directed at improving care, a road weary tale which began to lose more and more credibility as we watched our health care outcomes descend every year while their profits exploded.

They even spent millions convincing us that all this success of theirs was well deserved, honest, free market capitalism. Buying and owning the protection of corrupt politicians has usually been considered "good for profits" but seldom "good business," hence, the insurance corporations' infatuation with the cheezey public relations side of their fraudulent business plan.

For example, during the recent autocracy, the “Secretary of Defense,” Mr. Rumsfeld, while he was defending the American public from the deadly anthrax threat just happened to be, at exactly the same time, a major stock holder in the very company which was producing the sole, over priced antibiotic which could treat it. By the way, for any MeanMesa visitors who might not already be familiar with the details of this dismal tale, the anthrax used in the assassination attempt on Senators Daschle and Leahy was refined to a military grade possible only in U.S. military production facilities. By sheer coincidence, these were the two Senators who could have blocked passage of the Constitution shredding Patriot Act, a legislative erectile fantasy of the unelected Vice President.

Read more about the anthrax terrorist attacks through this link:
Remembering the Anthrax Attacks

Oh well. This is about health care.

The “hybridizing” idea is presented as a pragmatic necessity. The chances of any bill which could even so much as “drop a bird’s tail feather” on the established corporate industry profits by instituting actual health coverage are nil to none. Bills like that simply can’t go through the Senate.

They could get through a Senate populated with Senators who were responsible to actual constituencies of informed voters, but this is not the case. An unpleasantly large number of Senators represent the exact sources of “campaign contributions,” and those “sources” just happen to be health care corporations. Their “contribution” checks are, generally, sandwiched between an equal number of “contribution checks” from oil companies and other public enemies. This explains not only why we have crappy health care, but also why we have the smallest alternative energy infrastructure in the industrial world. And so many gas guzzling dinosaurs that even the car companies finally went bankrupt.

Now, given this terrible dilemma, the PHARMA/Health Insurance lobbyists have generously settled for a “half-measure.” Half-measures to them are absolutely nothing else than the mythical “pot of gold” reputedly located at the end of a rainbow.

Any legislation with the, for them, ultra-stinky odor of being a “full-measure” must be immediately destroyed as “far too radical” and “way too damaging to the established corporate status quo.” After the “full measure” legislation has been properly destroyed by their fully owned media and when the “half-measure” legislation is all that is left on the table in our Senate -- ooop’s -- their Senate, they can appear as the horribly injured and disfigured victims of all rational proposals and go right to work looting the “half-measure.”

This is the case with health care reform in the Senate. The best we are allowed to promote at this time is a carefully crafted, hybridized prostitute of what already exists right now. The product of this line of reform is “pretty much the same” as the horrible monstrosity which got us all so interested in the first place.

The rancid Senators who are comforting this hybrid health care whore are not all Republicans. Senator Max Baucus, (see MeanMesa posting: "U.S. Senators Forced Into Frightening Health Risk,” -- follow the link to access within this blogspot --
a Democrat from Montana, who managed to place himself in charge of the Senate hearings on the subject, categorically denied anyone not strictly in favor of “nursing the whore back to health” any participation in his hearings. Actual health care reform -- the kind Americans want after being gang raped by the health corporations for so long -- was not even so much as a “topic for discussion.”

The owners of the Senators have issued their marching orders. Reform? No. Super minor “tweeks” which are so insignificant that we can still add everything we wish to the new bill? Yes! This “setting of the stage” leads us directly into Part Two.

Part Two: Service Agreement: Congratulations on the Purchase of Your New Senator

Gee whiz. Why, oh why is it so difficult to get health care legislation through the Senate? A short story almost always helps understanding on such matters.

"Look, Honey. ‘K Street New and Used.’ Let’s go in and look at what they have. Park over there.” A young couple peers at the sign from their sedan.

“Yes, dear.” The husband answers dutifully.

“Howdy! The name’s Jack ‘the snake’ Quick. What can I show you two today? We’ve got some great units and, of course, they are all at the ‘K Street New and Used’ guaranteed best prices!” Obviously the lot salesman, a slick middle aged man approaches them from the office.

“Well, we’re shopping for a good used Health Insurance Senator. We need something dependable and not too stylish. What have you got?” The couple responds in eerie unison.

“Oh. Those would be in the next lot. All the units for sale here are pharmaceutical Senators. The Health Insurance models are all on the lot just on the other side of the office.” Salesman Quick motions to an adjacent lot.

“Wow. There are some pretty impressive Senators over here. Do you have any with previous Health Insurance experience? We were kinda’ looking for something fairly new.” The young couple is impressed with what they see.

“You bet! Although, I’ll have to tell you, sometimes the ones with lots of mileage are the best. They already know all the legislative tricks, and if they’ve been in the Senate for a while, they can really deliver the goods.” Jack “the snake” Quick courteously advises them.

“You mean that they’re better than the newer ones?” The young husband asked.

“Well, yes. The maintenance on the newer ones can really get up there -- especially if you need to get them reelected. Since none of them are particularly popular, it can take some real cash to get them into the Senate where they can really do a good job for you. What exactly did you two need? Something special, or just a basic package for defeating health care reform?” Now, knowing that they had taken the bait, Jack Quick politely began his questions.

“Jack, we’re just plain old insurance lobbyists. If we can get a good model at a decent price who can sabotage Health Insurance reform, we’ll be satisfied.” The young couple answered, again, both almost at one time.

“Well, at the very top of the line, I’ve got a ‘McCain’ over here for around a quarter million. On the other hand, I can offer you the Democrat in charge of Senate hearings on Health Care for a lot less, say plus or minus $180,000. That would the ‘The Baucus,” a sturdy, yet comfortable Montana Democrat.” Jack was at his best. He motioned expansively across the lot.

“Wow! A Democrat! And, that price is really in our ball park! Let’s take a look at ‘The Baucus.’ The young wife exclaimed. Jack smiled.

Top 10 Health Insurance Industry Contributions to Senators
McCain, John (R-AZ) $251,834
Cantor, Eric (R-VA) $113,850
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) $200,200
Baucus, Max (D-MT) $183,750
Lieberman, Joe (I-CT) $101,400
Chambliss, Saxby (R-GA) $98,600
Collins, Susan (R-ME) $96,500
Kyl, John (R-AZ) $90,450
Warner, Mark (D-VA) $89,700
Hatch, Orrin (R-UT) $85,903
Nelson, Ben (D-NE) $83,300

Top 10 Health Insurance Industry Contributions to Congress
Camp, Dave (R-MI) $112,923
Pomeroy, Earl (D-ND) $104,500
Boehner, John (R-OH) $101,200
Deal, Nathan (R-GA) $100,000
Towns, Edolphus (D-NY) $87,750
Rogers, Mike (R-AL) $74,000
Blunt, Roy (R-MO) $72,800
Ryan, Paul (R-WI) $69,000
Tanner, John (D-TN) $68,500

(source: Consumer Watchdog: Health Insurers & Drug Companies Contributed $5.5 Million to Top 10 Senate and House Recipients Since 2005

There is another, similar table of top Senators and Representatives who have taken money from the pharmaceutical industry available at this same link.

Part Three: A Paragon of Senatorial Representation: The Fabulous Frist Family

No, no. Not the First Family. That would be the Obamas. We’re talking The Frist Family. We're not talking "The Hills Are Alive!"

Senator Bill Frist became the Senate Majority Leader during the autocracy. The old Majority Leader, Trent Lott (R-MS) had made a horrendous racist gaff at Strom Thurmond’s going away party. All of Washington was packed brim to brim with corrupt, reactionary Republicans in the House, Senate, the White House and the Supreme Court, but Lott’s crack was too dangerously racist even for them. In about 2002, the autocrat’s White House counsel had finally noticed that not all Americans were Southern bigots, and wisely replaced the old bigot, Senator Lott, with the new bigot, Senator Bill Frist. Once that was a fait de accompli, the meat handed sabotage of health care and the incredible financial dynasty of the Frist Family was set to move ahead without hindrance.

A laborious recounting of the precise details of the fraud will simply be too much. Instead, MeanMesa offers direct quotations (shown in sienna colored text) from two very well written articles. Both were originally published during the early years of the Bush autocracy, and, consistent with the general policy of deceit and deception prevailing at that time, we are supposed to have completely forgotten all about them by now.

All of this is presented here in hopes of setting the tone for a better understanding of how unimaginably corrupt the main players in the Senate really are. Yes, you have glanced at the “pay bill” lists in Part Two, but the dismal history of The Frist Family can add yet another dimension to the corruption which was encouraged to completely saturate every opportunity to fleece U. S. taxpayers.

All of this is quite relevant to the topic of this post. If there were only a few outrageous skunks sucking health insurance lobbyists’ cash under the door jam, solving our health insurance nightmare might be no more than a good, quick housecleaning. However, when we stare blankly at the following two stories, we can begin to understand why:

1. single payer is off the table
2. Obama has been reduced to trying to get even the most modest health care scraps through Congress, and,
3. the future of health care reform seems to encounter one obstacle after another.

The first of the two articles was published by John Nichols in November of 2006. The part reproduced here deals with Senator Frist’s role in sabotaging all possible reforms to the health care insurance industry long enough for his family to make billions of dollars profit from their private hospital company. The article, in its entirety, is available through the link provided. The remainder of it deals primarily with the Senator’s ugly self-embarrassment while diagnosing Terri Schaivo from the floor of the Senate and his gaseous, ineffective attempts to lie the unelected President out of the mess on 911.

In any event, take a moment, read the article and meet Senator Frist!

(source: The Nation magazine --
Farewell to Senator Bill Frist, R-Frist Family
posted by John Nichols on 11/29/2006 @ 7:30pm

It is too bad that outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, had decided not to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2OO6.

It would have been entertaining to watch this sorry excuse for a senator try and explain a political journey that dead ended when the physician-turned-legislator diagnosed brain-damaged Terry Schaivo via videotape -- producing an assessment of her condition that completely contradicted that of doctors who had actually examined her.

The storm that followed his intervention in the Schaivo case represented the only instance in which most Americans actually noticed that Frist was one of the nation's most powerful political leaders.

After a number of earlier missteps, Frist had tended to avoid the limelight because he never did very well when he was in it --as the Schaivo fiasco so potently illustrated -- and because his primary purpose in the Senate, that of enriching his already wealthy family, was not exactly the sort of thing that politicians brag about.

The wealthy doctor ran for the Senate in 1994 with a simple mission: to prevent health care reforms that might pose a threat to his family's stake in Columbia/HCA, the nation's leading owner of hospitals. There was never going to be anything honorable about his service, but nothing all that embarrassing in a Washington that welcomes self-serving senators with open arms.

For almost a decade, Frist was a comfortably forgettable legislator -- a good hair, good suit, bad politics man of the Senate. Then, former Senate Majority Leader and soon-to-be Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, went all segregationist at States Rights Party presidential candidate Strom Thurmond's going-away party in 2002. The Bush administration needed another prissy southerner to ride herd on the Senate. Frist fit the bill, moved into the nice office and became a comfortably forgettable Senate Majority Leader.

With the Republican-controlled Congress rendered irrelevant by its complete subservience to the Bush administration's political agenda, Frist quietly went back to the business of protecting the family business.

Things got seriously dicey for Frist only in the presidential election year of 2OO4, when the Bush administration found itself short on defenders. Everyone seemed to be turning state's evidence on the president. The ex-Secretary of the Treasury, the former Senior Director for Combating Terrorism on the National Security Council Staff and, now, the former counter terrorism chief in the Bush and Clinton White Houses had all come forward to suggest that Bush and Vice President Cheney really had missed the point of the war of terrorism -- badly. Suddenly, Americans were waking up to the fact that the rest of the world already knew: Iraq was not tied to al-Qaeda, had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no serious threat to the United States or its neighbors at the time that the administration committed this country to the course of quagmire.

The administration had few credible spokespeople left. The White House couldn't send Bush out in his "Mission Accomplished" flight suit. Vice President Dick Cheney was still trying to explain that Halliburton really hadn't set new standards for war profiteering. And then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was having a very hard time explaining that she really, really, really did know what al-Qaeda was before counter terrorism czar Richard Clarke explained it to her.

The administration needed a Spiro Agnew to go out and start calling people names. And Bill Frist became, for a brief but not exactly shining moment in the spring of 2OO4, the White House's defender-in-chief.

The majority leader took to the floor of the Senate to denounce Clarke. "Mr. Clarke makes the outrageous charge that the Bush Administration, in its first seven months in office, failed to adequately address the threat posed by Osama bin Laden," Frist began. "I am troubled by these charges. I am equally troubled that someone would sell a book, trading on their former service as a government insider with access to our nation's most valuable intelligence, in order to profit from the suffering that this nation endured on September 11, 2001."

That was rich, considering the fact that Frist's Senate service had been about nothing so much as profiting from the suffering of the nation. By blocking needed health care reforms, pushing for tort reforms that would limit malpractice pay outs and supporting moves to privatize Medicare, Frist pumped up his family's fortunes at the expense of Americans who lacked access to health care. As Mother Jones explained, "Some companies hire lobbyists to work Congress. Some have their executives lobby directly. But Tennessee's Frist family, the founders of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., the nation's largest hospital conglomerate, has taken it a step further: They sent an heir to the Senate. And there, with disturbingly little controversy, Republican Sen. Bill Frist has cosponsored bills that may allow his family's company to profit from the ongoing privatization of Medicare."

The Frists fared well during the senator's two terms. An $800-million stake in HCA that his father and brother had at the time Frist was elected in 1994 shot up in value over the decade that followed. Frist's brother, Thomas, rose steadily on the Forbes magazine list of the world's richest people in recent years. In 2003, Forbes estimated that Thomas Frist Jr. was worth $1.5 billion. According to Forbes: "source: health care."

So Bill Frist certainly knew a thing or two about profiteering from human misery.

Of course, when he attacked Clarke, Frist wasn't really concerned about September 11 suffering. He was simply looking for any way to discredit one of the few members of the Bush administration who had tried to take terrorist threats seriously. The problem with Frist's attack was that Clarke had already made a commitment to donate substantial portions of the earnings from his book, "Against All Enemies," to the families of the 9/11 dead and to the widows and orphans of Special Forces troops who died in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Frist didn't just come off as a hypocrite, he looked like a fool. But he looked like an even bigger fool when, in an attempt to claim Clarke had lied to Congress, Frist demanded that transcripts of Clarke' 2002 congressional testimony to be declassified. Clarke's response? "I would welcome it being declassified But not just a little line here and there -- let's declassify all six hours of my testimony." Then, Clarke added, "Let's declassify that memo I sent on January 25. And let's declassify the national security directive that Dr. Rice's committee approved nine months later, on September 4. And let's see if there's any difference between those two, because there isn't. Let's go further. The White House is now selectively finding my e-mails, which I would have assumed are covered by some privacy regulations, and selectively leaking them to the press. Let's take all of my e-mails and memos that I sent to the national security adviser and her deputy from January 20 to September 11, and let's declassify all of it."

Suitably shot down, Frist then took to defending Condoleezza Rice's refusal to testify in public and under oath before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United State -- only to have the administration decide to have her testify.

It was at that point that Frist began to recognize that he was not exactly ready for the political prime-time.

Before the Clarke catastrophe, there had been talk that Frist might replace Dick Cheney if the Bush political team decided to force the vice president off the 2004 ticket -- an admittedly dubious prospect, as Cheney remained firmly in charge both of the policy and political operations at the White House. After Frist's flip out, however, even Republican loyalists started asking whether the senator was good for anything other than taking care of the family's health care investments.

A year later, with his Schaivo diagnosis, whatever credibility his medical degree might have given Frist was gone.

When he decided not to seek reelection in 2OO6, no one was surprised, or particularly upset.

When he decided not to seek the party's presidential nomination in 2OO8, Republicans breathed a sigh of relief.

After 12 years of political malpractice, Dr. Frist is retiring to the obscurity he so richly deserves -- unless, of course, ethics investigators take an interest in how his family's fortunes rose during an otherwise undistinguished Senate tenure.

The second article (also posted in sienna text color) was originally published by Doug Ireland in the Los Angeles News, early in 2003. Although a stirring account of Senator Frist’s Senatorial Business Practices, it “fleshes out” just how outrageous things had become under the protective Bush autocracy.

Of course, we taxpayers were supposed to have also forgotten this nasty little piece of history long ago.

The Bad Doctor
Bill Frist’s long record of corporate vices
Doug Ireland
Published on January 16, 2003

While TV gushed last week over the Republicans’ new Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, intervening in a traffic accident, portraying the former heart surgeon as a “Good Samaritan,” in truth the GOP has simply replaced a racist with a corporate crook.

Frist was born rich, and got richer -- thanks to massive criminal fraud by the family business. The basis of the Frist family fortune is HCA Inc. (Hospital Corporation of America), the largest for-profit hospital chain in the country, which was founded by Frist‘s father and brother. And, just as Karl Rove was engineering the scuttling of Trent Lott and the elevation of Frist, the Bush Justice Department suddenly ended a near-decade long federal investigation into how HCA for years had defrauded Medicaid, Medicare and Tricare (the federal program that covers the military and their families), giving the greedy healthcare behemoth’s executives a sweetheart settlement that kept them out of the can.

The government‘s case was that HCA kept two sets of books and fraudulently over billed the government. The deal meant that HCA agreed to pay the government $631 million for its lucrative scams -- which, on top of previous fines, brought the total government penalties against the healthcare conglomerate to a whopping $1.7 billion, the largest fraud settlement in history, breaking the old record set by Drexel Burnham.

The deal also meant that HCA can continue to participate in Medicare. And, as part of the Bushies’ deal shutting down what Deputy Assistant FBI Director Thomas Kubic called “one of the FBI‘s highest-priority white-collar crime investigations,” no criminal charges were brought against the top HCA execs who presided over the illegal bilking of federal programs designed to aid the poor -- and that includes Senator Frist’s brother, Thomas, HCA‘s former CEO (and current director), who’s been described by Forbes magazine as “one of the richest men in America,” with a personal fortune estimated at close to $2 billion.

What did HCA do? It inflated its expenses and billed the government for the overrun; it billed the government for services ineligible for reimbursement (like advertising and marketing costs). HCA violated both law and medical ethics when, as Forbes put it, “the company increased Medicare billings by exaggerating the seriousness of the illnesses they were treating. It also granted doctors partnerships in a company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors‘ referring patients to HCA. In addition, it gave doctors ’loans‘ that were never expected to be paid back, free rent, free office furniture -- and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.”

This is the ethical climate that reigned in the Frist family’s money machine. In an unguarded moment, Senator Frist told the Boston Globe that conversations with his doctor father about the family calling were like “benign versions of the Godfather and Michael Corleone.” Apparently the senator considers defrauding the government “benign.” So too does the Bush White House, which dictated the Justice Department deal with HCA that let the crooks escape jail just as Frist was being anointed the Senate‘s majority leader. A pure coincidence in timing, of course.

The senator has always claimed no current connection to HCA because the $26 million he and his wife hold in the company’s stock is in a so-called “blind trust.” But it was the family‘s dirty money that bought Frist a place in the Senate. In 1994, Frist -- who’d never bothered to vote before first running for the Senate that year -- spent some $3.4 million of his personal fortune to buy the seat from Tennessee (HCA‘s headquarters) that he now occupies. Moreover, “In the Senate, Frist has used his influence to further HCA’s cause by stopping a strong patients‘ bill of rights, gridlocking a mandatory Medicare prescription-drug benefit, and promoting caps on damages for victims who sue negligent hospitals like HCA’s,” points out Jamie Court, executive director of the Santa Monica--based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, who adds, “The Senate should not replace a racist with a principal backer of one of the largest corporate swindles ever perpetrated against the American public. If Frist was a patriot first, he would have sold his HCA stock long ago.”

But Frist‘s pandering to the lobbyists of the voracious healthcare industry knows no bounds. “Frist isn’t the senator from Tennessee -- he‘s the senator from the state of Health Care Industry Influence -- he’s gotten more than $2 million from the healthcare sector, giving him the dubious distinction of raising more cash from healthcare interests than 98 percent of his colleagues,” says Nick Nyhart, executive director of Public Campaign.

Consider the special servicing he gave to pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. In another example of his “patriotism,” Frist engineered the insertion into the Homeland Security bill of a provision that would protect Eli Lilly from lawsuits over Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in its vaccines. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Lilly by parents who believe Thimerosal caused autism and other neurological maladies in their kids. The Frist-authored rider shields Lilly by forcing those lawsuits into a special “vaccine court,” where they can be easily scuttled, potentially saving Lilly hundreds of millions. The pharmaceutical industry was the largest single contributor to the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee that Frist chaired, ladling out some $4 million -- and Lilly was the single biggest contributor to the GOP from that industry, having given $1.6 million in the last election cycle, 79 percent of it to Republicans.

Now, we are getting somewhere. The voices in the Senate which repeat and repeat that effective health care insurance reform is “not on the table” have their own history. Please don’t be caught presuming that most of them are honorable, well intentioned elected public servants. They aren’t. They have every intention of ushering another decade of their parasitic masters’ uncontrollable avarice, a savage, unchecked greed that will drain your check books, leave you with expensive insurance policies which won’t cover whatever kills you and just steams on ahead, endlessly and relentlessly converting your misery into corporate profits.

Part Four: Solutions: Since We’re Creeping, How About Creeping Here?

Patient MeanMesa visitor! Even after all this negativity (“Not my fault! They did it!"), there remains the traditional MeanMesa optimism to always try to include some sort of solution to the dreary problems we face. In keeping with that positive ambition, consider the following possible solution to, at least, some of the health care insurance problem.

Instead of the faltering, unending, neurotic placebos being bandied about by the Senate as they “divvy up” our health care money this way and that, always trying to conjure up some split which will divide all the trillions we spend into palatable chunks of “profit,” let’s dare to focus on dividing the care rather than the money for a moment. There may actually be a solution, so, here we go!

Start with a list of all the things that the insurers (allegedly) presently reimburse. The list would include all sorts of medical maladies from appendicitis to ingrown toe nails. Once the list was completed, and, by the way, the things on the list have to be medical expenses that our contemporary private insurance companies actually pay for -- not pretend things that they say they will pay for and then don’t -- divide the sicknesses.

On one side of the list will be the sicknesses that the new Single Payer/Public Option system will pay for, and on the other side will be the sicknesses that the private insurance companies agree to continue to cover. Let the government program “scoop up” the least profitable among all the medical problems Americans have. Reserve the remainder for the private insurance companies.

A vast amount of our current bills would be transferred to a “non-Vampire” public program, enjoying all the not-for-profit cost savings currently limited only to Medicare (although the VA has a few, too) Prices should drop immediately. Medicare spends around 6% of its total reimbursement on administration. Private insurance companies extract around 30% for their wretched, forest gobbling administration and, of course, their sacred profits.

After the Great Divide has been accomplished, we can still continue to move toward a rational health care insurance plan, administered by our government (note the word “our”) and paid for by tax money. However, instead of scrapping with these “greed monkeys” for every nut and bolt, we can commence to debate about the list! We can avoid all their crooked little “crumb” schemes and negotiate the transfer of more and more illnesses from their list to ours (note the word “ours”)!

As the matter became more and more of a question of who will cover what, the purchase price of a friendly Senator would get lower and lower, maybe even disappearing entirely with federally funded campaigns. Monumental insults such as Senator Frist would become a thing of the past.

Best of all, the “split ticket” approach might mollify the Senators we have right now long enough to a.) get the health care reform started in a big way, and b.) set the stage for finally getting rid of all these crooks who have already long ago sold their souls.

Good riddance, and GOOD HEALTH!

Last election, we spoke to the Republicans. In the next election, we must speak to the incumbents. We will be amazed when we see some of our taxes begin producing improvements in our lives.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Healthcare 2009: Medicare Part D on the "Kitchen Table"

Welcome to the E.O.B.

A "real life" example of a health care question. A huge part of health care reform will be the removal of everything which has been added by the special interests who have designed and legislated every part of what we now have. The switch will be legislation which directs health care at health instead of profits.98

A MeanMesa post about healthcare could easily extend to far too many inches -- and even that approach would still omit many important facts! So, in an effort to keep this short, let’s just say that we won’t mince words.

In order to get right to the point, let’s take a look at the illustration included here. This is a monthly report from Presbyterian Senior Care in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A similar form is mailed to the author of this blog every month. ( Just click for an enlarged image.)

When we look very carefully at exactly what this form says, we can get a glimpse of one aspect of the Medicare Part D Pharmaceutical Coverage as it was written by the pharmaceutical lobbyists when it was passed during the Bush Autocracy. Taking a look at the actual results of the program in action can, hopefully, reveal far more than abstract analysis offered by media pundits. What we will examine here is the reality of what Americans using Medicare Part D encounter across our nation.

The cover letter accompanying this little jewel describes it as an: E.O.B.,
an Explanation of Benefits for Your Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D).
THIS IS NOT A BILL. Keep this notice for your records.

This notice includes:
1. How much you’ve paid so far this year for your prescriptions.
2. Your recent claims for prescriptions.

Now, to the information on the form.

The second row of numbers is high lighted. It is labeled as “Your Current Phase.” Moving across the boxes in Row 2, “Your Current Phase,” we see the following.

The second box shows the maximum allowed drug costs for the period, $2700.

Now, although one might think that this figure of $2700 represents the maximum prescription costs which will be paid by Medicare Part D under this plan, the fact is that this $2700 figure, thanks to the careful way the original legislation was written, actually represents the maximum which will be paid by either the insurance or the individual.

The third box as we move along this row is the amount actually paid by the insurer, in this case, Presbyterian Senior Care, $160.24. This figure represents the cost of my prescriptions paid for by Presbyterian Senior Care, an HMO which handles my Medicare Part D coverage. This $160.24 is the part of the cost of these prescriptions other than the co-payments I made when they were purchased.

The fourth box shows the figure $80.92. This amount is the total of the co-payments.

Now, it gets a little more interesting. The fifth box shows the figure $80.92 again. This time that amount is described as the amount “you/others on your behalf paid that counted toward your out of pocket expenses.” This means that this $80.92, although not paid by the insurer, is still counted toward the $2700 limit of “this phase” of coverage.

Moving along, the sixth box shows the amount of prescription expenses, $0.00, also paid by the individual, which do not count against the $2700 initial coverage limit. Apparently no one receiving these benefits has ever had any amount listed in the sixth box. All the expenses paid by the individual for prescriptions count against the $2700.

To compute the figure in the seventh and final box on the second row, we will add the figure from box three to the figure in box four, that is, $160.24 + $80.92 = $241.16, the total cost of all prescriptions so far this year regardless of who paid for them. To arrive at the total amount of the $2700 initial coverage limit remaining for future payments during this coverage period, Jan. 1, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2009, we subtract that total from the “Initial Coverage Limit,” $2700 - $241.16 = $2458.84.

Our last stop on this interesting form is on Row 3. The second box on row 3 is described as “Maximum you/others on your behalf pay in this period.” The “this period” part of that label refers to what is called “Coverage Gap.” It is, also, lovingly referred to as “The Black Hole” or “The Doughnut Hole” by folks relying on Part D coverage to help pay for their prescriptions. The “Maximum you/others on your behalf pay in this period is: $4350.00." All the figures shown in Row 3 deal with this “Coverage Gap.”

The final box on Row 3, clear at the right on the form, shows a figure for the “Amount left before catastrophic coverage.” That figure is derived by subtracting the total paid for prescriptions by all payers, calculated in Row 2 and amounting to $241.16, from the “Coverage Gap,” that is, $4350.00 - $241.16 = $4269.08.

The “Coverage Gap,” that is, when total prescription costs have reached $2700 (based on the way they calculate this in Row 2) and gone on until they have reached $4350, means that there is no Part D coverage for this “period” or "phase." Part D becomes active again only after prescription costs have passed $4350, and is then called “Catastrophic Coverage.” Row 4 describes the features of this part of the program.

Relax. All the math is finished.

Now, what exactly is the point? To illustrate “the point,” let’s compare it to a different example of common insurance, say, auto insurance.

When we have a car wreck, our insurance company comes to the rescue. Our policy describes precisely what our insurance covers, and also states very clearly that there are limits on various possible costs resulting from a car wreck. For example, even if you were "drunk as a skunk" and collided with a bus full of orphans from a home supported entirely by trial lawyers, your insurance company would not be willing to pay a trillion dollar settlement.

A trillion dollars would be far more than the limit of liability your policy contains for that sort of accident. The idea of clearly stating the “maximum coverage” provided by your auto insurance policy is a completely standard practice of that type of contract. “Maximum coverage” or “liability limit” simply spell out just how much you have contracted your insurance company to pay. If you had wanted them to pay more, you could have purchased a contract with a higher “liability limit” for a higher premium.

However, if we were to insinuate the Medicare Part D coverage structure into this auto policy, we would arrive at a bewildering conundrum. The “liability limit” on such a policy would include not only the total amount the insurance company might possibly have to pay, but it would also include everything you might pay out of your own pocket! This means that if you had to add any of your own money to the amount finally paid to the orphans, your insurance company would consider that to be a part of what they paid!

In this version of auto insurance, anything you paid would count against your “liability limit” in just the same way as if your insurance company had paid it!

If auto insurers could sell this kind of policy, they would love all the extra money they would earn settling such claims! Unhappily for them, no driver in his right mind would ever purchase a contract like this one. If such a policy were ever offered, drivers shopping for insurance would immediately be on the phone to a different company.

However, with the “special attention” the pharmaceutical lobbyists paid to writing the Part D legislation, the equivalent of this “crazy auto insurance company” turns out to be the only insurer in the market for millions of Americans. Aside from passing the thing at 3 o’clock in the morning in the House and aside from the fact that they had to rely on good old Dick Cheney to break the tie in the Senate, this Part D bill was absolutely “chuck full” of legislative “doo-dads” which guaranteed its pharmaceutical sponsors some outrageously huge profits. And, as of now, those PHARMA sponsors have been doing, well, just great!

It was just the end of one of those binge "looting" parties that George Bush liked the very most. If all of his lobbyist friends were “snorting” and “cavorting” when he signed it into law, he figured that he had done his work very well.

Some of those “doo-dads” have already turned into billions of dollars in profit to the pharmaceutical companies and billions of dollars worth of fraudulent extortion costs for Medicare For example, unlike our auto insurance analogy, there is, by law, absolutely no competition or negotiation allowed. The price tag the pharmaceutical companies stick on any prescription is the price which will be paid under Part D. Period. No Americans will be allowed to go to Canada and purchase the same prescription for a lower price because “it simply isn’t safe for our elder citizens.” Right. They need to buy those prescriptions here where the full price can be charged to be safe!

Gotta' take care of the old people -- and, of course, the pharmaceutical corporations.

Under this weird legislation, even if old people did illegally go to Canada and paid for their prescriptions out of their own pockets, Medicare Part D would consider any money they spent this way to count against their “coverage.” It would appear in Row 2 of our form as an addition to the figures in box four and box five.

All of this "special" accounting might be no more than another Federal policy fluke, except...
When neo-cons are busy "proving" that "we can't afford health care reform," they are using a rather deceptive number to calculate that cost! The figures which are derived as the "cost of the program" are NOT BASED on the amounts that Medicare will pay for covered prescriptions. Instead, those numbers include all the amounts that ANYBODY PAYS for prescriptions. They include the amount that Part D will pay, but they also include the part that individuals will pay in co-payments and for drugs not included on the Part D formulary! Or in Canada! They even include the amount of coupons given by drug companies to lower the price of their own prescriptions!

Snakey. But, what did we expect?

The following e-mail arrived in my computer from the “Organizing for America” folks:

We knew healthcare reform would face fierce opposition -- and it's begun. As we speak, the same people behind the notorious "swift boat" ads of 2004 are already pumping millions of dollars into deceptive television ads. Their plan is simple: torpedo healthcare reform before it sees the light of day by scaring the public and distorting the President's approach.

When the swift boaters flood the airwaves with distortions, we'll flood the streets with volunteers armed with facts. When they send lobbyists to tell Congress to back down, we'll send millions of calls, letters, and stories from real Americans asking them to stand up.

At the very bottom, Bottom Line of all this mischief, health care outcomes in the United States, although the most expensive in the world, are some of the worst in modern developed countries. In most European systems, it is illegal for a for-profit health insurer to even insure primary care.

Yuck. These American parasites seem to have a "thousand mouths."

I hope MeanMesa visitors will remember just how crazy this “gang rape” legislation actually is.

They should remember. They are paying for it, like it or not.

For an account of the scandal of the PHARMA Bill's passage:

and, straight from the Social Security Administration, a compilation of Part D:

Still interested? An earlier post from MeanMesa: "Health Care Without the Lipstick"

Monday, June 1, 2009

Comprehending Iran: The Nuclear Power

Does this look like the beginning of President Obama's Iran problem? Read on ...

George Bush, "Master of Disaster," and the "gift" that just keeps on giving. 96

MeanMesa finds too many of our younger acquaintances dangerously unfamiliar with the recent history and the geopolitical challenges President Obama must face with the Iranian nuclear situation. Consequently, this long post hopes to fill out that understanding with at least a few of the more important aspects of the puzzle. If you are already comfortably informed about the situation, just relax and wait for the next Short Current Essay after this one! Otherwise, spend a few minutes coming up to speed on the Iranian situation in preparation for President Obama's speech to the Islamic world this week in Cairo, Egypt.

Elections have consequences. So do revolutions. President Obama faces a troubling Iran (and a troubling Pakistan, a troubling Afghanistan, a troubling North Korea, and others, but this post is about Iran) which seems intractably intent on developing its own nuclear weapons.

As with many of the events of the Bush autocracy, public opinion about Iran’s ambitions has been tragically diverted from any sort of informed, rational understanding to the modern equivalent of an invitation to a dog fight. The well crafted misrepresentation sacrificed U.S. national security interests for the sake of political advantage with domestic opinion. This claim could be no more than another lambast at George Bush if the stakes weren’t so high.

However, as it stands, the psychopathic ambition of George Walker Bush and his opportunistic servants has now grown to such a grave severity that merely pointing to the autocrat’s failings is, probably, far too generous. What confronts President Obama and this country is now a blood feud, and some of that blood may well prove to be American blood, that is, more American blood than has already been shed because of it.

Let’s take a MeanMesa look at it from three different perspectives. First, we can review the inflammatory, Bush Presidential Lies and their outcome both on public opinion and on national security. Second, we can consider what this looks like from the point of view of Iran. And, third, we can consider what possibilities may yet exist for a successful conclusion to a shocking, pointless and reckless provocation on our part.

A Quick Overview of Iran in 2009

There is no such thing as a brief history of Iran. An historical survey would begin earlier than 7,000 B.C., roughly the date of the first written history of the place. Our glimpse into the background of this matter will, of necessity, deal exclusively with far more recent events. First, a little geography. This is a good point to disabuse ourselves of any idea that Iran is somehow similar to Iraq.

Size: 18th largest country in the world, 1,650,000 square kilometers.
Population: 70 million (Iraq has a surviving population of 22 million)
Neighbors: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia,, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and Iraq.
The southern coast of Iran abuts the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The Strait of Hormuz where significant shipment of the world’s oil passes in tankers is bound on the north by Iran.

The country is now the Islamic Republic of Iran. The government came to power after the overthrow of Shah Pahlavi in 1979 when the U.S. Embassy in Teheran was taken and its staff held hostage for 444 days, ending with the election of Ronald Reagan in the United States.
Current "conspiracy history" in the United States claims that Reagan, in a political move to discredit the then former President, Jimmy Carter, asked the Iranians to keep the hostages until the day of his inauguration, which they did.

Current government officials:
- Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
- First Vice President Parviz Davoodi
- Chairman of the Assembly of Experts and Expediency Discernment Council
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
- Speaker of the Majlis (Parliament) Ali Larijani

Part One: American Blood -- The George W. Bush “Church of Death”

The Government of George W. Bush, deeply entrenched with private oil interests in the U.S., openly invaded Iraq where approximately one fifth of the proven reserves of the planet are located. We all know this part of the story. After six years of criminally bad military policy, those oil interests signed the Iraqi Hydrocarbon Treaty with western oil companies, making the invasion a “success.” In 2009 it has become sickeningly apparent that every alternative pretense offered to legitimatize that invasion was entirely fraudulent. U.S. combat fatalities are currently around 4,500 and combat injuries around 25,000. Iraqi deaths resulting from the invasion are estimated by Lancet (British Medical Journal) at 1 to 1.6 million.

Naturally, George Bush and his friends were interested in further military conquest of Iranian oil. Iran has proven reserves of approximately 10% of the planetary supply.

After 911, the government of Iran assisted the U.S. in the invasion of Afghanistan. However, even before George Bush began his criminal conspiracy, Iran already had a very suspicious outlook on the U.S. The country of Iran had been treated badly since World War II. In 1941, Britain and the USSR invaded Iran, forcing the ruler, Shah Pahlavi (Sr.) to abdicate in favor of his son, Shah Pahlavi (Jr.).

In 1951 Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh was elected prime minister. As prime minister, Mossadegh became enormously popular in Iran after he nationalized Iran's oil reserves. In response, Britain embargoed Iranian oil and, amidst Cold War fears, invited the United States to join in a plot to depose Mossadegh, and in 1953 President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized Operation Ajax. The operation was successful, and Mossadegh was arrested on 19 August 1953, returning the monarchy of Shah Pahlavi (Jr.) to power.

That was the last open election in Iran. Shah Pahlavi (Jr.) and his secret police, SAVAK, began a reign of terror happily sponsored by U.S. and European oil interests. Shah Pahlavi had expensive habits for such a poor country. His “Birthday Party,” held shortly before his overthrow, was an extravaganza in the Persian desert estimated to cost $3 Bn. (U.S.). He was replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini who returned to Iran from exile and founded the Islamic Republic.

During his reign, Shah Pahlavi (Jr.) managed to torture and maim every Iranian who was not his “friend.” His “friends” prospered incredibly. After the revolution, most of them moved into mansions in Beverly Hills. Ayatollah Khomeini managed to torture and maim everyone who was not his “friend” after he took over the country. He stopped all oil shipments to the U.S. in retaliation for what the CIA had done to his country and its citizens -- which, it turns out, was quite a bit.

Ayatollah Khomeini, the first Supreme Leader of the Iranian theocracy, nationalized Iranian oil (again). When he died, the current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came into power.

Enter George W. Bush. Although Iran had been a U.S. ally in the invasion of Afghanistan, he quickly added Iran to his famous “Axis of Evil” in his State of the Union address. Everyone was listening, and everyone, including the Iranians, heard him.

It was a “perfect storm.” The Iranian theocrats found themselves in charge of a dangerously wrecked economy. All their oil wealth was, as usual, directed to the elite while the rest of the country had to make do. The madman in the White House had begun to make regular threats of military action against them through his Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, his Secretary of State Rice and his Vice President, Dick Cheney. The Iranians could see what the Americans had already done in neighboring Iraq, so they took all of this very seriously. The Iranians knew that when George Bush (Jr.) looked at their country he was dreaming of another very profitable Hydrocarbon Treaty in the near future. Their near future.

There were complications. The Iranians had just finished an awful, eight year war with Sadam Hussein. This war was extra stinky. Iranians are mostly Shi’a Muslims, and Iraq also had a majority of Shi’a citizens. Sadam had been violently brutal in order to get his Iraqi Shi’a to fight their Iranian Shi'a neighbors. Iraq, under Sadam, was run by Baathists who were from the minority Sunni religious population in Iraq, even though they ran the country -- especially the Iraqi Shi’a -- with an iron fist.

Often compared to the military profile of W.W.I, the Iranians lost approximately 700,000 combat dead and the Iraqi’s lost about 500,000 combat dead. Both sides invested roughly one half trillion dollars (US) in the conflict. The combat losses are interesting when translated into respective proportions of the populations of each country and then calculated with respect to the US population.

Having a well equipped, modern military has its advantages.

The Iraqi military under Sadam was generally regarded as one of the most powerful in the world thanks to its far superior equipment and weapons. The United States had also helped Sadam by selling him poison gas bombs which he dropped on both the Iranians and some of his own citizens, the Iraqi Kurds. These sales were, initially, the basis of the famous “weapons of mass destruction.” Bush’s additional claims about Sadam’s nuclear arms development were all lies. In any event, the Iranians faced very bad equipment disadvantages -- tanks, artillery and air craft -- thanks to the US sponsored UN sanctions which embargoed most military resupply after the embassy incident and the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Worse, after the revolution huge numbers of Iran’s brightest and most successful had fled the country. This exodus was partly due to the rather unpleasant attitude of the new government toward everyone who had done well under the Shah, and partly due to the nearly collapsing Iranian economy where opportunities had been vaporized by the cost of the war with Iraq and abysmally poor economic planning by the theocracy.

But then, George Bush, enthralled by the possibility of owning a fifth of the world’s oil, turned on Sadam, making him one of the three players in the “Axis of Evil.” The unelected psychopath in charge of the world’s greatest military force had already decided that the Afghans who resisted the United States were both evil and criminals (no P.O.W.’s for this nut case -- Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib) and he effortlessly marched ahead to condemn Iranians with the same “broad brush.”

The Talaban running Afghanistan had refused a pipeline offer from Chevron apparently hours before the 911 attack. And Sadam’s secret police had attempted to assassinate George Bush’s father while he was celebrating the victory of his “liberation of Kuwait” with the Sheik, the owner of that country. That assassination attempt on his father had spurred an extremely unhealthy adolescent “family pride” crisis between Bush (Jr.) and Sadam which ultimately sealed the fate of that Baathist dictator. Naturally, George Bush was searching for a similar avenue in his military threat gambit with the Iranians, and they knew the gravity of the threat by watching what had happened to their neighbor.

Part Two: The Terrified Iranian Theocracy Responds

After every revolution there is always a lot of “cleaning up” to be done. The Iranian theocratic government immediately took strong, violent domestic steps to secure the country which was still well populated by Iranians who had done well under the Shah. The war with Iran had cut deeply into the middle aged male population, leaving the new government with the problem of an unusually large percentage of young men. Revolutions are seldom beneficial to local economies, and after this one there were far too few jobs for such a large number of young people, making the exercise of government control even more difficult. The average age of the population of Iran today is around 25 years, as mentioned before, thanks largely to the war with Iraq.

Further, the half a trillion dollars ($500,000,000,000) spent to conduct the war had flattened even the oil rich revenues of Iran. Now, the young Islamic theocracy found itself with roughly the same military obstacles which had prevailed when Sadam’s Iraq had first invaded Iran in 1980 at the start of the Iran Iraq War. Although there were plenty of young men in Iran to enlist in an army, there were terrible shortages of just about every kind of military equipment and supplies.

To make matters even more threatening, the US autocrat and other voices in his government were now consistently intimating that “there was simply no way a military strike on Iran could be avoided.” Here in the United States, the “talk on the streets” was firmly anchored on the question, “Will we invade Iran?” The reactionary media, along with the neo-con talk show hosts pumped that theme daily for a number of years during the Bush autocracy. In addition to that constant harangue, every effort was being made to blame Iraq for 911.

Although Iran had nothing to do with 911, and, in fact, had assisted the United States in the invasion of Afghanistan, the fire brands had managed to escalate the public suspicion of all Muslims to a fever pitch. The Iranians saw the obvious. As for US public opinion, facts meant very little. The cheaply fabricated Iraq-911 connection had already sold like “whores in a lumber camp” amid all the uninformed US voters long enough to initiate the conquest of Iraq’s oil. They knew that a similar fabrication, this time lubricated mainly by resurrected memories of the embassy take over and gleefully spiced with claims of the murderous involvement of Iran in the IED’s killing American troops in the Iraq invasion force, could place Iran in the same predicament that Sadam had so unsuccessfully faced.

The theocracy dragged out their ancient Persian chess board and sized up what possible strengths remained in their severely handicapped geopolitical position. Iranian sponsorship of Shi’a troublemakers such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon was quickly stepped up, generating the quite predictable psychotic response from George Bush, Jr. and fomenting even more inflammatory statements and policy in the US. For an example of how this worked, Iran began to pump primitive rockets to Lebanon through Syria to be used on Israeli targets. This finally resulted in the bloody war between Israel and the Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

“Somebody” assisted the Syrians with what was claimed to be a nuclear bomb factory, and the Israelis flew a unilateral air attack to destroy the facility. The Iranian sponsored Hamas in the Gaza strip found a ready supply of their own primitive rockets arriving daily through the tunnels they had built across the Egyptian border in the south. At first, Israel provided a surrogate target for Iranian hostilities which would have been made more directly against the United States if they had simply had more military stuff which could be used against the US invasion army now hopelessly stuck in the Iraq war next door.

Israel’s relationship with Iran occupies the road weary axiom of being “driven into the sea” based primarily on the very modern hybrid model of Israeli Arab relations which was carefully groomed by each aspirant colonial power since the 1940’s. However, Israel bombed Sadam’s reactor before the first Iraq War and Syria’s reactor within the last few months. The Jewish State, even though globally famous Jewish physicists have assisted every present day nuclear power with their engineering and design, is an unannounced nuclear member with very credible bomb inventories and delivery systems.

Unlike various other “bomb” holders, Israel also boasts a very effective and well equipped conventional force, the IDF. Military experts agree that Israel could dependably destroy the Iranian nuclear facilities with an air attack. And, just as Iran has publicly stated that it intended to “wipe Israel off the face of the earth,” Israel has publicly stated that a nuclear armed Iran would never be tolerated.

In the previous Israeli attack on Sadam’s reactor, the war planes flew over Saudi Arabia, which although armed, was unable to stop them. However, an attack on Iran would either take that Saudi route or a shorter one over Iraq. Although Iraq could not stop that over flight, its American invasion force might accomplish that. Any Israeli attack would be a sudden, decisive affair executed without warning. The situation is further complicated by Israel’s nuclear capability, presenting to the rest of the world the unpleasant choice of either a preemptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear future soon or a war of retaliation between the two states after the Iranians accomplish more progress on both their bombs and their short to intermediate range delivery systems later.

Naturally, George Bush’s “dance with disaster” not only spurred the Iranians to take whatever defensive or retaliatory measures possible, but placed two very large American armies within very credible range of those Iranian weapons.

However, for the Iranian theocracy, the “elephant in the living room” was the ugly combination of Bush’s domestic lie campaign inciting hatred of Iran in the American public and that same, now 150,000 strong, American invasion army a few miles away in Iraq. Quite aside from the Israeli difficulty, that mix could promise only a very unhappy outcome if the odds could not be changed somehow in favor of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Enter uranium enrichment. With technical help from Pakistan’s nuclear arms genius, Munir Ahmad Khan (trained as a nuclear expert in the United States), and well staffed with plenty of well educated technical scientists (Iran is one of those forty countries with an educational system producing superior outcomes to the United States), the Islamic Republic “opened the flood gates” for a maximum effort at developing a nuclear bomb.

Only with this concrete advantage accomplished, they thought, could they withstand the daily increasing threats of the Bush autocracy. Such an American attack and invasion could have been called the “Rush Limbaugh War.” A successful nuclear counter strike against the incoming troops would have placed Iran, although still the unavoidable loser in the conflict, on a pedestal among all the other Middle Eastern states who also hated America thanks to the work of our own autocrat.

The Iranian hope was that if this actually ever happened, “All hell would break loose.” It was not a bad strategic gamble given their unfortunate situation, although foreign policy disasters seemed never to bother the Bush while he was obsessed with taking someone else’s oil.

Part Three: America Returns to Stable Mental Health

Although the entire world literally breathed a sigh of relief after our election in November of 2008, the Iranians breathed slightly less than most others. Without the menace of the Bush psycopathy, they were stranded in an awkward spot of their militarization schemes where both their hoped for nuclear threat was more or less “stuck in the swamp” and their Holy War sworn enemy had suddenly disappeared from view on his tragic journey to the “dust bin of history,” most likely some place in Dallas.

Instead, they now found themselves facing an incredibly competent and popular Obama. Even the Limbaugh - Hannity crowd seemed to be slowly losing some of their righteous medieval steam in the face of a new maturity among the electorate. Here, we must frankly note a very interesting paradox. On the one hand, a half-witted U.S. invasion of Iran fired on by radio talk show hosts had probably been avoided. On the other hand, the sanctions initiated against them because of the nuclear effort, and, frankly, the cost of the effort itself, had only served to further aggravate their failing economy and their growing youth unemployment problems. Even their oil revenues were jumping up and down, out of control in a environment of OPEC fear of their threat and a global economic collapse which had gutted oil use -- and sales -- in every developed country.

What had once been a very useful threat from “Great Satan America,” was now becoming a really rotten investment. The Iranians, only recently inebriated with nuclear bombs and $160 a barrel crude, were now paralyzed and exhausted by a worn out jihad screaming forward in a frenzied dance -- now absent its traditional mean spirited enemy -- around what turns out to be a trailer park inching along on $50 a barrel oil. Worse, the new American President had very visibly and openly invited them to “talk.”

Frankly, Iran may actually develop a nuclear bomb with a few years. They may detonate it “North Korean Style” somewhere in their copious desert territory. Given even more time, they might finally perfect their intermediate range delivery missiles to a somewhat dependable state.

But then what?

They had invested heavily to promote themselves to the half wits in the Bush autocracy as totally suicidal Islamic extremists, completely willing to suffer any retaliation to attack Israel or the US invasion army in Iraq and to their Middle Eastern neighbors as the only state with enough resources and political moxy to stand up to George Bush's petroleum colonization plans. This re-imaging of theirs was a predictable response to the “long, sharp teeth” odor of crazy Bush war mongering, but, is there a coherent retreat scheme available to them now? One that might preserve some of their highly expensive efforts to get this far with their regionally selective portrayal of themselves?

As Americans, we are left with the matter of Iran nestled along with far too many others in the nest of calamities which are the legacy of the Bush autocracy. To make much headway in our effort to “get through” this one will require an astonishing advance in our national maturity.

And, there will be a price. It won’t be the “death of the White Christian World at the hands of Islamic fascists” price which was so fervently promoted by the Bush, but even in its most reasonable and rational form, what now confronts us will not become one of our past favorites, a “Winner takes all.” Pastor, coach, talk show host and reactionary will have to relinquish the national driver’s seat to make way for a serious, thoughtful, competent, adult rescue effort.

The previous “directors” such as Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bremmer will have to be prohibited from making any additional, explosive, antagonistic public remarks from their prison cells.

So what does “Iran: the Nuclear Power” actually look like from our seat here in the United States? Right off the bat we can assume that the more credible Iranian nuclear arms become, the less interested in ridiculously inflammatory voices such as that of the current Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the nation’s policy elite will become. With the exception of North Korea, that reassuring drift has been the model for recently nuclearized states such as Pakistan and India, for example.

More bombs, more maturity. More security, less ideology.

Further, although attaining nuclear arms is rather expensive, once they have been created, maintaining them is a real bargain. (See: H-Bomb Love Sonnets, Part One and Part Two, this blog) Once the cost savings are realized when compared to the price of sustaining a million man army, that military economy seems to spread to other issues, primarily, to a realization that very many social projects can be accomplished with the money being saved by those “nukes” parked in low maintenance silos.

The “more maturity, less ideology” concept will probably also quiet down the Iranian diplomatic rantings to a semi-cogent level as time passes. Even the “state suicide” proclamation will subside. The Iranians may well prove to be difficult ascendant leaders in the Middle East, but they will definitely move away from the “We all have bombs strapped to our chests and we’ll kill you because we don’t care what happens to us” image in favor of a more participatory international role, especially one which can result in increased employment and improved trade balances. Some “quiet time” will almost certainly see Iran having a growing interest in domestic manufacturing (other than H-bombs and missiles), better living conditions, a more stable and respected currency and even better profits from their belabored oil industry, now suffering technologically from the country’s isolation. Yes, there are already actually Iranians who, although they fundamentally support the theocracy’s investment in nuclear arms, can also begin to see that more H-bombs mean fewer sewers, schools and agriculture.

Completely crazy, suicidal Islamic Fascists? Not really. Although Bush Jr. and the United States seemed intent on instigating a nuclear attack on Israel and the US army in Iraq, the more any nuclear power has to lose, the more reluctant they are to launch such a first strike.

The most likely scenario is that this new nuclear power will quietly transform into a “nuclear poker game” role where there may continue to be clashes in the conventional weapons range, but the satisfying comfort and confidence of having those H-bombs will, in time, exert a moderating influence. There will certainly never be another Iran - Iraq war. There will almost as certainly never be some screwy, reckless American military invasion to effect an oil takeover.

All the parties are learning important lessons in “Exactly what’s worth what.” Including us.

Still, the New York Times, May 24, 2009, offered an editorial under the title “Have We Already Lost Iran?” “Already lost Iran?” Some of us are learning at different rates.

Obama is no one’s dummy. He is intent on assisting the electorate learn as quickly as possible the reality of possibilities with respect to our ideas about Iran, patiently sifting out the lies and liars who, for a while, were running around like cock roaches. He is also constantly offering the Iranians every incentive to return to a more objective stance, now that we have. They will require the time to pursue exactly what Obama is working on here. The conflict has gone beyond the rumbles of outright military aggression thanks to the introduction of possibly better alternatives for both parties.

Now, all that’s left is for us to grow up enough to accept the choices we actually have and rationally ponder our next decisions.

As usual, Wiki has extensive material available on all aspects of the Iranian situation.

and, anyone interested in the New York Times story can find it here:

For more photos of GWB drunk at the Olympics,

Google has endless articles and editorials about the subject. Be Informed!