Monday, January 4, 2016

The Profit-Motive Dominating Healthcare is a Slippery Slope Leading into Greed


By David Starr

The purpose of healthcare is to prioritize people's health concerns, not prioritize profits. The profit-motive has no place in making decisions about healthcare. Healthcare is supposed treat people's illnesses, not pad the pockets of CEOs and upper management.

But some have gotten rich through the healthcare industry. In a piece on CEOs' compensation published in Becker's Hospital Review by Bob Herman, examples are given on CEO pay from the three largest for-profit hospital chains:

Alan Miller, Universal Health Services (King of Prussia, PA) - Total compensation is $13.2 million
Wayne Smith, Community Health Systems (Franklin, TN) - Total compensation is $8.8 million
Milton Johnson, Hospital Corporation of America (Nasville, TN) - Total compensation is 7.7 million

In addition, the highest annual salary raises are cited (from a SullivanCotter survey):

Business development executive - 11.6 percent
Ambulatory care executive - 8.5 percent
Quality management executive - 8.4 percent
Medical informatics executive - 6.5 percent

Despite the exorbitant amount of money executives make off of it, healthcare is a basic right. It is needed no matter what the circumstances are. To treat it as a commodity is to relegate it to buying and selling; without care being the most important part of it.

Leaving healthcare to the private health insurance industry makes it less and less affordable in the long run. And because it is attached to the "free" market, healthcare can fall victim to speculation, considering how the "free" market works with its boom and bust cycles.

It also falls victim to greed. Martin Shkreli is a prime example of this, with his $750.00 a pill insanity. Other speculators in healthcare may not be as greedy, but the profit-motive drives them to focus on attaining more and more money to where the sky is not even the limit. The result: many needing healthcare pay more and more in premiums, deductibles and care itself.

In a Healthcare Exchange piece by Michael Gomes, "Since 2005, premium prices have been growing steadily at an average of 5 percent each year. Twenty-fifteen is no exception: employer family health premiums are set to rise 4 percent to $17,454 [compared with 1999, when premiums costed $5,791]. As a result, deductibles have risen "three times as fast as premiums and seven times as faster as wages and inflation."

A single payer/universal healthcare system needs to be established. Government-run or influenced? Sure. One function of government is to promote the general welfare. And healthcare is for the people's welfare. This way it is possible to keep it free and/or affordable since there would be no profit-motive influencing the process and making it more and more expensive.

That is not to say that scientists, doctors and inventors would not be fairly compensated for their labor power. It's that care wouldn't have an expensive price tag on it. According to an OECD report published in a Mother Jones piece by Kevin Drum, general practitioners and specialists in the U.S. make more money than doctors in other countries. So, there's no need to complain here. The other countries, in fact, can provide a positive example of how doctors are compensated.

Raising taxes on the 1% is one way of covering costs for healthcare. (Those tax-free havens in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere must be taxed.) Another is cutting the military budget.

The profit-motive has been a slippery slope leading into greed. It is time to put people before profits.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

Donald Trump, Would-Be Torturer

by David Starr

Once again, Donald Trump has spoken like a madman.

The front runner of the Republican clown car of candidates spoke in Columbus, Ohio and made sure his opinion was known about waterboarding, i.e., torture. "Would I approve of waterboarding? You bet your ass I would. In a heartbeat. I would approve more than that. It works."

Trump added one more thing: "...and if it doesn't work, they deserve it anyway for what they do to us."

Cheers arose from his supporters. Not all of them sound sadistic, but a few of them do. That's because there is an enemy out there. And the enemy must be crushed at all costs; and the costs have been high. Given the amount of people the U.S. has bombed in the Middle East, it's no wonder that enemies, or "enemies," exist. Trump, however, along with other GOP candidates, ignores this. There is NO real intelligence used in looking at actual cause and effect. You're with us or you're against us. This has proven to be a very dangerous mindset, seeing only the B/W and not the shades of gray. George Bush Jr. is the prime example in recent memory.

True, there are Islamic fanatics trying to impose their warped views and have committed atrocious acts. But there are Christian fanatics in the U.S. trying to impose their's. And the latter is more dangerous because of the biggest weapons arsenal in the world that they have access to. Compare an IED with a cluster bomb. In the bottom line, both are not desirable. But imagine what a Trump presidency would be like. Would the red, nuclear button be pushed? Maybe not. But there would be a continuing of endless war. (That can be said for almost all the GOP candidates.)

Trump is touching a nerve with his rhetoric. His crude and bombastic style brings out the baser instincts of some of his supporters. Saying that some Mexicans are rapists and murderers sounds more racist than anything else; making Muslims use ID cards and putting them into a database sounds more fascistic than anything else; saying that killing whole families is permissible sounds more genocidal than anything else; building a wall along the Mexican-U.S. border sounds more isolationist and paranoid than anything else. (True, there are 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., but that gets back to understanding cause and effect/why that is the case.)

By saying that he approves of waterboarding, and the other disgusting "suggestions," Trump is implying that he would defy the rule of law, both domestically and in the international arena. And that, if he was president, would make him a war criminal.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Global Imbalance of Power

by David Starr

Since the dissolving of the Soviet Union, the United States has tried to take advantage of not having a rival power of its magnitude by trying to further impose its ideological agenda worldwide.

U.S./Western objectives have been carried out to where there is a further imbalance of power globally. Russia and China are still rivals to the U.S., but the U.S. outspends them militarily. The U.S., in fact, outspends both of those countries along with Saudi Arabia, France, Britain, India and Germany put together - $610 billion compared to $601 billion. U.S. spending has thus gone way beyond self-defense, prioritizing a monetary empire.

For the last 24 years, the U.S. has been trying to pick up where it left off in the 1890s when it exercised Manifest Destiny by creating a new Gilded Age. It spread outward to take the Spanish colonies of Cuba, the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico; along with Hawai'i. There was no Soviet Union (not until 1917). In the ensuing decades, U.S. power has expanded worldwide, treating many nations like market satellites, particularly in the "Third World."

In Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, U.S. multi-national corporations have established private monopolies, using, and abusing, land, labor and wealth to control the means of production and distribution. Corporations from other countries have more or less done the same thing, but the U.S. has been more thorough.

There was a balance of power during the Cold War. The USSR reached military parity with the USA. For about 40 years, both superpowers were heated rivals. But to avoid MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), arms treaties were ratified. In the 1970s, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) led to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, where a number of older intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers were dismantled. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was signed in 1991 where there was the eventual removal of about 80% of all strategic nuclear weapons existing at the time.

By 1991, the USSR dissolved, along with the Warsaw Pact. Rather than having NATO dissolve as well, the latter went into imperial mode. Eastern Europe became a part of NATO. The latter bombed Libya, paving the way for religious fundamentalism to spread in North Africa. Washington supported the coup in Ukraine, which was led by right-wing forces. There is the threat of Ukraine becoming another NATO member eventually, which would put it at Russia's doorstep. This would further the imbalance of power. And Russia is not going to stand by and let this happen.

The imbalance of power also includes the U.S., under the 1991 Foreign Operations Appropriations Law 101-513 passed in the U.S. Congress, the Council of Europe and Germany leading the way for the dissolving of Yugoslavia, supporting right-wing forces in Croatia and Bosnia, setting off the dissolution; the neocon war drums beating against Iran, although the agreement its leaders signed forbids them to have nuclear weapons;  and there is the agreement of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), led by the U.S., where corporations have almost unlimited power and would thus compliment the imbalance of power. 

And Washington wants regime change in Syria, similar to what occurred in Iraq. But what is happening in Syria is just as, if not more, complex than in Iraq. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has been accused by the West of being a bloody dictator. But accusations from the U.S. in particular have been more for spreading the empire's imperial interests rather than prioritizing democracy. Tyrant or not, what al-Assad represents is an obstacle to U.S. hegemony in the Middle East region. As with Iraq, oil is a primary factor for regime change in Syria.

There is also ISIS to contend with, as well as other fundamentalist groups. The Obama administration's insistence on regime change and the need to fight ISIS has put the U.S. in a contradictory stance. Who to support? Who to oppose? Republican Senator John McCain made the maddening statement that the U.S. should give arms to ISIS to oppose al-Assad. Another maddening statement was made by Marco Rubio, Republican presidential contender, that the U.S. should fight Russia, the latter of which is conducting airstrikes against ISIS. Ignoring the obvious threat of another world war, Rubio has the mindset of a neoconservative, i.e., an armchair warrior. Although not as strong as the Soviet Union, Russia still has the military strength to make a decision by the U.S. to start a war a very bad one.

So, who to support? al-Assad or ISIS? al-Assad does have a secular government while ISIS is, well, ISIS. And how was ISIS created? U.S. military operations in Iraq included disbanding the Iraqi military and purging Baathists. This created a power vacuum that the Shiites filled. The Sunnis were thus thrown out of power, which resulted in ISIS. Unintentionally, it is the U.S. military's handi-work.

No one country should impose its model on the rest of the world. There has to be an equality of nations. That's why it is important to have Russia, China and other countries help provide a balance of power globally with the U.S. and its allies. It's not to ignore the human rights records of various countries, but the U.S. record would also be included.

Having equality prioritized globally will nullify the imbalance of power globally.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The "Righteous" Bigotry of Kim Davis


by David Starr

Once upon a time it was illegal for inter-racial couples to get married. That form of bigotry has practically ended; but not without a struggle. Now, it still is a struggle to end bigotry based on discrimination of same-sex couples, even when same-sex marriage has been legalized.

Enter Kim Davis, now the poster child for religious bigotry. She was honored at a conservative summit called the Values Voter Summit, organized by Tony Perkins' Family Research Council, receiving a leadership award. Of Davis' "martyrdom," Perkins said, "What the militant secularists are almost certainly afraid of is what's coming to pass: courage is breeding courage." More like bigortry breeding bigotry. Courage is when a same-sex couple dare defy dominant religious fundamentalism. And courage is still needed to stand up to a Kim Davis.

At a rally for the summit, there was sign that read,"Supreme Court = the New ISIS of America." This is another example of ignorance among the Christian right. It would never occur to the author of the sign that ISIS is also homophobic? Christian fanatics wallow in both Islamophobia and homophobia.

Davis' "meeting" with Pope Francis was big news, she saying that the Pope was "kind, genuinely caring, and very personable." But the meeting was made to look like the Pope talked with her privately; it was a group of people. There was also the impression given that the Pope defended Davis for her "convictions." The Pope said that "conscientious objection is a right that is part of every human right," although he didn't name Davis per se as a conscientious objector. He was speaking to the whole group.

Mat Staver, Davis' defense lawyer, is part of the firm called the Liberty Counsel based in Florida. It has been accused of being a hate group against the LGBT community. The Southern Poverty Law Center says that it spreads false and misleading information. One example was Staver publicizing that Davis met with the Pope alone. Then there was the example of a photo from Peru showing 100,000 people "supporting" Kim Davis. This was shown at the Values Voter Summit. But all it was was a photo showing a religious gathering of Peruvians with no connection to the Davis controversy. 

In justifying her position, Davis says that God's law is the "highest." One can pull any god out of the air and say that it's Zeus' law or Lono's law or Krishna's law. Whatever god is invoked, it is still a claim that hasn't been proven. Reveling in her righteousness, Davis has talked the talk, but she hasn't walked the walk. Divorced four times, Davis nevertheless thinks that because God "forgave" her, she can stand on the "moral highground" while practicing discrimination. Davis asked for tolerance for her beliefs, in the face of her own intolerance. The hypocrisy is amazing.

Spending six days in jail hasn't made Davis "repent," i.e., to properly do her job. If it takes suspending her or even firing her, then so be it. Or, Davis could look for another job. Whatever the case, Davis does not have the right to violate the rights of same-sex couples.

Davis has yet to face a reality. Like inter-racial couples, same-sex couples aren't going away. The latter will still apply for marriage licenses, despite her bigotry.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international

Monday, October 5, 2015

Martin Shkreli - Parasite

(Image: www,

Martin Shrekreli, an ex-hedge find manager, bought a phamaceutical company, Turing, and raised the price of the drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750.00 per pill. Daraprim is known to treat cancer and AIDS. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Socialism is an Advanced Form of Democracy

by David Starr

While democracy means a government of the people, socialism means a sharing of (or government controlling) the means of production and distribution of goods. But is there really a difference? It ain't necessarily so.

If government has a public obligation, through a constitution, to uphold fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech, labor rights,  access to free and/or affordable healthcare, voting rights and is representative by and for the people, then socialism is another word for democracy. After all, socialism is supposed to be representative of people having power, e.g., the working class controlling the means of production. Democracy is similar where power is supposed to be in the hands of the people through their representatives. (But it's not just about voting)

Thus, government is reflective of the people having political and economic power. And whether it's representatives in government or workers in a business, power is shared among them within a reasonable framework as they play their respective roles in the maintaining of a society. For example, economic power: workers having decision-making powers in a business, such as voting for their managers or board of directors, setting policies and creating a fairer distribution of profits; something like workers' cooperatives. Government and its representatives, making laws, would step in a regulatory role to see that the laws, in this case pertaining to the economy, are reasonably upheld. In certain situations, referendums could be held to decide on a particular policy involving the economy.

While capitalism wouldn't disappear, a socialist government would regulate it. This is on par with Abraham Lincoln's statement that labor is superior to capital.

The Failed Stalinist Model
History has shown that Stalinism failed to live up to its "socialist" standards, although certain successes were produced such as rapid industrialization, free healthcare and education and repelling the Nazi invasion of the USSR during WWII. (Perhaps despite Stalinism.) At one point, a few years after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia, Bolsheviks like Vladimir Lenin and Nicholai Bucharin were introducing the New Economic Policy whereby capitalism would be utilized but under socialism. There would be negotiations with the peasants as opposed to conducting forced requisition of grain from them that occurred after the Revolution, during the Civil War between the Reds and Whites, and the invasion of the Western Powers and Japan.

But some years after Lenin died, Stalin ordered the NEP stopped. His goal was "full socialism." (An interesting term since socialism is an intermediary step, in Marxist terms, between capitalism and communism.) It was also called "socialism in one country." The Soviet Union had to industrialize quickly to ward off any foreign threats. But this could have been done with the NEP.

Stalinism introduced forced collectivization and state ownership of everything (“public ownership”).

In the late 1930s, a great purge began resulting in the Show Trials. Stalin had accused his own "comrades" of launching all sorts of conspiracies against him, calling them "enemies of the people," and had them executed. Many in the rank-and-file of the Communist Party were purged.

In the early 1990s, the Soviet Union dissolved, ending whatever what was left of the Stalinist model in the former USSR.

Bernie Sanders and the Scandinavian Model

Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders has touted the Scandinavian countries as having an answer to governing a country. The Scandinavian countries combine capitalism with low barriers to "free" trade and a strong public sector. There is a strong social safety net, free education and universal healthcare. There are also partnerships between unions, employers and the government to negotiate the conditions in a workplace where it would be self-regulated.

Sanders favors using Scandinavian  practices for the United States.

But neoliberal reforms have been introduced, notably in Sweden, where there has been a rise in inequality. Workers and unions worry that these reforms would make further inroads. And neoliberal reforms and "free" trade can tend to go hand-in-hand.

Despite the success, the Scandinavian countries are not entirely immune to the current world economic order. Neoliberals and neoconservatives want to go far and wide to attain their ideological objectives.

Albert Einstein's Views on Socialism

Albert Einstein's credentials as a socialist are reflected in his piece, "Why Socialism?," published in the Monthly Review in 1949. Einstein wrote about the "predatory phase" of human development, and asserted that "the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase..." He also asserted that "socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end."

And here is additional information:

Einstein also wrote about the role of private capital:

"Private capital tends to become concentrated in a few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of the smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society [at least the bourgeois concept of it]."

The roles of the individual and society are also touched upon:

"The abstract concept 'society' means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive and work by himself; but he depends so much on society-in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence. It is 'society' which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought. However, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings is variable and susceptible to change."

Regarding the individual and socialism:

"[I]t is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?"

For a Democratic/Socialist Society

It is still taboo, at least in U.S. society, to openly talk about and debate socialism without the demonic stereotypes. Whatever is mentioned of it is strongly negative and biased. But the U.S. population has been conditioned to immediately think that socialism is "evil" by a capitalist-owned media and a capitalist-ruled government. Thus, having a balanced narrative on the subject is near to impossible.

But as conditions get harder for the average citizen, there may be more attention drawn to asking questions about socialism. In the United States today, 36% view socialism favorably. And in a 6/24/2015 Gallup poll, 47% said they would consider voting for a socialist candidate. There may come a time where the citizenry will get fed up with the boom and bust cycles of capitalist rule (and imperial wars that help it). 

Perhaps then, the masses will recognize that not only is socialism another word for democracy, but an advanced form of democracy.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A War Criminal Repeats Familiar-Sounding Scare Tactics (A Critique)


by David Starr

Dick Cheney's responses to the Obama administration's Iran peace deal come as no surprise. The word "peace" is not in Cheney's vocabulary.

In one FOX "news" interview, Cheney compared Obama to Britain's prime minister Neville Chamberlain, who tried using diplomacy with Nazi Germany. This is hardly a valid accusation. Cheney further discredits himself. Iran is in no position to attack another country, much less conquer the world. True, Iran is a theocracy, where its leaders live in a distant past characterized by Islamic fundamentalism. But it doesn't have nuclear weapons, and it will remain as such since the deal obligates Iran to not acquire, or use, the materials to make a nuclear weapon. And Iran hasn't invaded a country in 500 years.

Cheney also said that "the deal would put us closer to actual use of nuclear weapons than we've been at any time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII." This is an obvious scare tactic. But who would use nuclear weapons, really, if it came down to that? With a Dick Cheney in power, it would be the United States.

In another interview, Cheney accused Iran of getting conventional weapons, and, thus, cited Iran as a threat. But the weapons are to fight against ISIS, not provoke an imperial war. ISIS is an unintentional consequence of the Iraq War. The Sunnis were forced out of power by the U.S. The Iraqi military was disbanded. That created a power vacuum which was filled by the Shiites. And that created the chances for a backlash in the form of ISIS.

Another consequence of the war is that Shiite-led Iran now has an ally in Shiite-led Iraq. Thus, the spreading of the Shiites' version of Islamic fundamentalism. An imperial war by the U.S. against Iran would fuel more chaos in the region and another backlash, whereby fundamentalism will further grow. Cheney doesn't seem to care, though.

That's because Cheney is not interested in facts. He's got war on his warped mind. His rhetoric is Orwellian. That is, Cheney's thinking is the opposite of a reality he doesn't want. And that reality is peace being a threat to his imperial ambitions.

So, Cheney belched out the same "sky is falling" propaganda against Iran as he did with Iraq. Same exact propaganda in tone: Iran will acquire nuclear weapons to harm Israel and the United States. "This deal gives Tehran the means to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland." Iran's leaders are not that crazy. They know what the consequences would be. (They may find out anyway if Cheney gets his way.) 

Why does Cheney want war? One reason is geopolitical. The former Halliburton honcho wants the U.S. to dominate the Middle East, where much of the oil is. Plus, Cheney has connections of course to the oil industry. Another reason is that Cheney is a war criminal. Militarism is his favorite form of "negotiations." This is characteristic of the GOP itself. For them, war is the answer, regardless of the consequences. And they'll gloss this over with a facade of righteousness.

But the deal is done. This is a major accomplishment for Obama, prioritizing peace over war. And Cheney can't stand it.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Was the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Necessary?


by David Starr

World War II was the just war in the sense of fighting against Nazism and fascism. It brought down a madman who was trying to conquer the world with his Third Reich. It also destroyed the chance for Imperial Japan to conquer all of Asia. (Most prevalent in this attempted conquest was the Nanjing Massacre. This event stands out as one of the most barbaric in history as the Japanese military reeked havoc and carnage on the city's population.)

At the conclusion of World War II, most U.S. citizens felt (and still feel) that to end the war and thus avoid further casualties, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary. It is perceived as the final victory the U.S. military accomplished in ending WW II.

It is hard to break through the myth-making within the U.S. mindset that atomic bombs needed to be used. But back then after the fighting was done, there were some who thought the bombings were not necessary; and this includes U.S. military leaders. Writer and historian Gar Alperovitz mentions four:

Adm. william Leahy, President Harry Truman's Chief of Staff - "The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to being the first to use it, we adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages."

Henry Arnold, commanding general of the U.S. Army Air Forces: "The Japanese position was hopeless even before the first atomic bomb fell, because the Japanese had lost control of their own air."

Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet - "The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan. The first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment."

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower - "I voiced to him [Secretary of War Henry Stimson] my grave misgivings, first on the belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary."

Daniel Ellsberg, who was part of the secret Manhattan Project-involving the creation of and experimenting with atomic weapons-also says that conventional bombing was enough to thrust Japan into defeat. "On the night of the 14th [August], the [U.S.] Pacific Air Force put 1,000 bombers in cities over Japan. About 15,000 Japanese were killed by conventional bombing between August 5th and August 15th.

"On the night of March 10th 1945-five months before Hiroshima-the United States had 300 bombers over Tokyo and killed between 80,000 to 100,000 people in one night. We tried to do it again night after night against Kobe, Yokohama and 60 other Japanese cities. We never got the same firestorm going, and never killed as many people as in that one night.

"We killed about 500,000, altogether, with firebombing. It's nothing we needed atom bombs to do."

The United States and its allies confronted the evils of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan. But with most U.S. citizens believing that atomic bombs were necessary against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, questioning the official narrative is not acceptable to them, even though conventional bombing was enough.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015

Ted Cruz Threatens Birthright Citizenship


By David Starr

If "U.S. President" Ted Cruz had his way, the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution would be altered to deny citizenship to those born in the U.S. of illegal immigrants. It's quite ironic what the Canadian-born Cruz is proposing. (Where are the birthers now? I haven't seen any signs saying, "Cruz, Go Back to Canada!")

The 14th Amendment, Section 1, is as follows: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." (There is more, but this is the jist of it.)

The 14th Amendment clearly states the obvious about birthright citizenship.

Cruz and his fellow exceptionalists make illegal immigrants and their U.S.-born children scapegoats for a problem that has been exacerbated by economic policies imposed by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and U.S. foreign policy. The problem is poverty in other countries, and anyone desperate enough would want to escape it somehow. If Cruz were on the level, he'd realize that the real cause of illegal immigration is poverty and that austerity measures are at the root of it. This is what Cruz should be opposing.

But Cruz (and other politicians) will stay oblivious to this problem. He doesn't want to alienate his base and his donors as he contends for the Republican nomination for president. But more tragic, Cruz doesn't seem to sympathize with the powerless. His and the GOP's xenophobic attitude toward illegal immigration pushes them to step on those with no institutional power, illegals and citizens.

What about deportation? There are 11 million illegals in the U.S. How could this be done? A mass deportation of millions of people, legal and illegal, as a final solution to the problem? A gradual deportation? Either way, it sounds impossible. For one thing, there are simply too many to begin with. What about citizenship for illegals? Would that be a better, and fairer, solution?

The GOP, the party of the rich (with Democrats sharing that distinction), feed, and feed off of, the current world order of capitalist chaos. So, why should someone like Cruz pay attention to its consequences, like perpetuating poverty? No, the Canadian-born Cruz will carry on, acting like a "True American," i.e., an ultra-nationalist patriot (which perverts the idea of patriotism).

Fortunately, the odds of Ted Cruz actually winning the presidency are remote. (No candidate on the Republican side is qualified to take on a job like the presidency.)

His proposal for denying citizens of their birthright is an unfair and intolerable solution, given the circumstances. Stop the austerity measures, eliminate (or greatly curb) the poverty, and you will stop illegal immigration. If not, it will continue.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Levin's Folly: the U.S. Democratic Party is to the Left of the Socialists?!


By David Starr

On Fox & Friends, right-wing talk show host Mark Levin made one of those bizarre comments the right is known for. He claimed that the Democratic Party is to the left of the socialists. "It's this hard-left, radical party," Levin said, that once supported blue collar workers. It is a kooky statement in which Levin has gone out on a thin limb.

Given Levin's "shock and awe" statement, it is necessary to write the following to counter his view:

Since 1992, with the ascendence of the Clinton "new" Democrats, the Democratic Party has gradually shifted rightward. President Clinton supported fast-track legislation to enact the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has resulted in the loss of 700,000 U.S. jobs. Also, jobs going to Mexico pay poor wages. The real benefit has been to the corporations taking advantage of the poverty there.

There were those among the "new" Democrats who participated in and contributed to the wild speculation that occured when increasing deregulation spread. Former Clinton cabinet member Robert Rubin was one of them. The speculation was a major part of the problem leading up to the 2008 Great Recession where the masses were the real victims. (Inside Job, directed by Charles Ferguson, gives a "nuts-and-bolts" look at the overall situation.)

When Barack Obama became president, he overly-compromised with the GOP. But almost any proposal he put forth for consideration was greeted with a no answer from the Republicans (the Party of No). Still, Obama was behaving like a "new" Democrat. That was his first term. In his second term, Obama did come out fighting on some issues. His refusal to go to war with Iran is one of them.

But he has been in lockstep with Republicans on other issues. Obama's signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)-which militarized the police- was supported by Republicans. And the Trans Pacific Partnership(TPP), which Obama actually called "progressive" but is based on corporate domination, was supported by the GOP. 

There are a few progressives in the Democratic Party, but it has been difficult for them to carry out their agenda to fruition. Elizabeth Warren, e.g., has been outspoken about women's rights, Wall Street reform and other issues. But it is a tough struggle having to deal with both Democrats and Republicans who want to maintain the status quo overall.

While the Democratic Party has moved rightward, the Republican Party has moved near to the far right. The GOP's agenda is like some Gilded Age/Medieval mutation. It wants 19th century-like economics and way less government, like it was during the 1890s. It also wants a 14th century-like, blind conformity to religion. 

Meanwhile, socialists go further than Democrats when it comes to "bread and butter" issues, justice and equality.  (The left has traditionally prioritized these kinds of issues.) Socialists generally want free and/or affordable education and healthcare, union representation, favor workers control over the means of production and are anti-imperialists. Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders is more or less one example. 

With both Republicans and Democrats entangled with big capital, and being both capitalist parties, they are ideologically the same. They differ, however, in TACTICS, but agree on the same objective: "free" trade.

Levin's claim is way off base. Saying that the Democrats are on the left side of the political spectrum is like saying that socialists are on the right side. But that's the crazy, mixed up world of the right-wing.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international 

Monday, August 17, 2015

WTF Happened in Seattle?


The two activists who stormed on stage to shut down a Bernie Sanders rally may have a justifiable message but not a justifiable method. Sanders is an ally and should have been treated as such. Their action came off as grandstanding, and may hurt the Black Lives Matter movement.

They should take their action to the GOP candidates. The latter deserve to be shouted down given the amount of racial neglect, and greed, in the Republican Party. That would be a more appropriate target. (Even despite security.)


Monday, August 10, 2015

The Absurd Claim That the Newtown, CT Shootings Were a Punishment for Abortion

(Image: Mike Nicht,

By David Starr

Outrageous, bizarre and nonsensical statements continue to be heard, and read, from the right-wing.

Among them, Bryan Fisher, founder of American Family Radio, and James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, claimed that the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut was God's way of punishing us  for the practice of abortion (and the gay lifestyle). Fisher quoted from the Book of Isaiah to back his claim: "[O]ur iniquities have made a separation between you and God and your sins have hidden his face from you so he does not hear, your hands are defiled with blood." Dobson said," I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and God Almighty and I think he has allowed his judgement to fall upon us."

As with other passages in the Bible, the Isaiah quote is so vague that Fisher could conjure up anything as an interpretation of the quote. I could just as well say that God is punishing us with the Newtown (and other) shootings because of the million Iraqi deaths in the Iraq War. Whatever the case, Fisher and Dobson are crazy to make such a claim for the obvious reason that the Newtown shootings and abortion are two unrelated issues.

Another way to question the claim is to put forth the idea that God could have prevented the shootings, life being precious, rather than let them happen.  Fisher called God a "gentleman" who doesn't go where he/she/it isn't wanted. First, millions have worshipped God rather than turn their backs on him/her/it. Second, in the Old Testament, God is no gentleman, ordering the Israelites to slaughter neighboring tribes because he/she/it is vengeful and jealous. In this case, it sounds like God isn't too concerned with the living.

Fisher's and Dobson's claims aren't anything new. Religious zealots have made absurd claims before, and will probably continue to do so. They are reminiscent of the charlatans of the 19th century who sold "magic" potions to cure anything and everything. And they always seem to find an audience willing to listen. Fisher and Dobson do have their audiences. But it's based on the prioritization of ignorance, rather than reasoning. That's how religious empires have been built a la the Jimmy Swaggerts and Ted Haggertys.

Fisher, Dobson and other religious fanatics mentally live in a medieval past. In a 21st century world with its high technology and major gains in science, Fisher and Dobson are passe in when it comes to their religious claims. They adhere to 2,000+ year old writings whose authors couldn't even imagine what the world would be like today. Their claim is on par with using leeches as a medical aid or throwing someone into a lake to see if he/she is a witch. (If he/she floats, that's a witch. If not, then he/she is innocent, but dead.)

It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, that Fisher's and Dobson's goal is to outlaw Roe v Wade. Similar to a pre-Roe v Wade world, a post-Roe v Wade world would bring back "back alley" abortions, coat hangers, unclean procedures and quite a number of women's deaths. It would be especially hard on low-income women as opposed to high-income women (who can get an abortion secretly and with the proper procedures).

The murders in Newtown were the result of a sick individual who finally cracked. Like other shootings, it is predicated on an acceptance and the glorification of violence in society.

It is a comedy of the absurd that Fisher and Dobson preach in. It's a shame that it's also tragic.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Supporting Right-wing Nationalism in Ukraine

Svoboda march in honor of WWII Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera
(Image: www.tennisforum,com)

By David Starr

The Obama Administration and U.S. neoconservatives are supporting democracy and freedom fighters in the Ukrainian conflict. So they say. 

They and the U.S. media have pegged Russia as the aggressor in the conflict, while downplaying the fact that the Ukrainian government the U.S. is supporting contains neo-fascists and neo-Nazis. Professor Michel Chossudovsky (Global Research, 2/26/2015) put it more bluntly: "The U.S. has installed a Neo-Nazi government in Ukraine."

Two major entities, Svoboda (meaning "Freedom"), formerly the neo-Nazi Social National Party of Ukraine (the name inspired by WWII Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera), and the neo-fascist Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) have de facto control over key government posts such as the Armed Forces, Police and Justice, and hold positions in Education, Defense, Law Enforcement, Education and Economic Affairs, Chossudovsky wrote.

One of the common threads within the Ukrainian Nazi/fascist movement is that it's anti-Russian. The armed conflict between the Ukrainian army and right-wing paramilitaries against ethnic Russian rebels in Ukraine bears this out. One major reason for this conflict was revealed by Robert Parry (Consortium News - republished in Reader Supported News, 7/13/2015): "[W]e now know that Kiev [Ukraine's capital] has dispatched a military force spearheaded by neoNazis, who are eager to ethnically cleanse those ethnic Russians from Ukraine..."

In an RT interview (2/20/2015), journalist Neil Clark condemned the West for not spelling out what is really being supported in Ukraine. "We are not supposed to notice the very strong element of neo-Nazism, fascist and far-right elements on the pro-Western side in UKraine." He added, "[T]he West knows what is going on and we are supposed to turn a blind eye..." The Obama Administration is compliant in this.  

And Obama has allowed neoconservatives to take a lead in directing his foreign policy. They have insisted that the U.S. defend the Ukrainian government. This ties in with the U.S., the EU and NATO wanting to control Ukraine with a wishful, long-term strategy, being on Russia's border. They would then want to impose regime change in Russia itself, if it were possible. And regime change are code words for imperial war. Russia, knowing this, supports the ethnic Russians in Ukraine (seeing that Ukrainian Nazi/fascist movement is an obvious threat) and is protecting its own interests (which are not entirely altruistic). One doesn't need to wonder what the U.S. would do if Mexico or Canada established a socialist government on its borders. Besides, there already is an imbalance of power in the world today, with the U.S. leading it.

While Ukrainian sovereignty is an important factor, it is comprised of right-wing nationalism, given those who are in power along with their supporters. It is, thus, equally, if not more, important to oppose neo-fascism and neo-Nazism in Ukraine, whether it is in the government or not.

As Robert Parry concluded, if Obama doesn't change course on his policy toward Ukraine and Russia, "he will leave behind a grim legacy of a bloated military-industrial complex and a new Cold War."

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015

John McCain's Fetish for War


By David Starr

John "Bombs Away!" McCain is the prototype of the gung-ho, imperial war monger. He is fetishistic about war. Whether dealing with Iran, Syria, Russia or Ukraine, McCain salivates as a sabre-rattler.

McCain wants the United States to get more involved in the Ukraine. Having rubbed elbows with its neo-fascist rulers, McCain wants weapons sent to Ukrainian forces and threatens Russia's President Vladimir Putin with imperial war. McCain also wants military intervention in Syria to support the "Free Syrian Army." And McCain isn't in the mood to have dialogue with Iran, wanting military action against it.

On these "fronts," McCain has chided U.S. President Barack Obama for not accepting McCain's "final solutions." "This is more of the same old, same old from ultra-hawk McCain," writes Justin Baragona in Politicus (4/22/2014). "Whatever POTUS decides, McCain has to make the talk show rounds and point out how wrong Obama is."

In the Daily Banter (6/03/2013), Ben Cohen makes eight points to show that McCain is "an unhinged warmonger":

"1) McCain is trying to up American involvement in the civil war raging in Syria. Apparently not bothered by the disasters of U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the raging anti-Americanism in the Middle East, McCain thinks more involvement will improve the situation. Or maybe he doesn't care about that either, and just wants more war.

2) He helped the Bush Administration build a case for war in Iraq, despite any evidence of WMDs or Saddam's links to Al-Qaeda, building a fictitious case against Saddam that led to one of the greatest strategic disasters in U.S. military history.

3) Unwilling to accept that America's role in Iraq was increasingly pointless, McCain was a huge supporter of 'the surge' in 2007.

4) McCain believes in America's divine right to occupy a country for as long as it likes in order to achieve its objectives. [He favored occupying Iraq for 100 years.]

5) McCain has long been a proponent of attacking Iran, being 'a) fabulously uninformed and b) dangerously bellicose' [quoting Joe Klein].

6) Regardless of its illegality, McCain has advocated bombing the infrastructure of enemy countries. Under Article 54 of Protocol I of the 1977 Geneva Conventions, it is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.

7) McCain doesn't believe in torture unless the CIA does it.

8) There is good evidence to believe that John McCain's thirst for war is almost entirely down to political ambition."

McCain's service in Vietnam earned him numerous awards and citations. But the "war hero," before being captured, "spent his 22 missions bombing mostly civilian targets in North Vietnam," according to Phillip Gerardi in a Global Research article (6/01/2013). (Gerardi's article also asserts that McCain was possibly a collaborator for the North Vietnamese, getting preferential treatment for his information. Alexander Cockburn also provides details in Counterpunch, 4/19/2008.)

It is high time that U.S. citizens stop supporting imperial war. And that means not supporting John McCain and other warmongers.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international