No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.
Every government explains its existence and justifies all its violence on the ground that if it were not there things would be worse. Having convinced the people that they are in danger, the governments dominate them. And when the peoples are dominated by governments, the latter compel them to attack each other. And in this way a belief in the governments' assurance of the danger of attacks by other nations is confirmed among the peoples.
--Leo Tolstoy,Christianity and Patriotism
Pints and Politics: North Korean Leader Calls Trump a "Dotard"
This hour of River to River was recorded before a live audience at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Cedar Rapids.
Columnists Lynda Waddington and Todd Dorman, as well as political reporter James Lynch and Erin Jordan of The Gazette, join host Ben Kieffer to discuss President Trump and the leader of North Korea, the Republican’s latest bill to overhaul Obamacare, and the value of town hall meetings in 2017. http://iowapublicradio.org/post/pints-and-politics-north-korean-lea...
WORLD WAR ONE REDUX
Lothrop Stoddard and Glenn Frank in Stakes Of The War: Summary of the various Problems, Claims and Interests of the Nations at the Peace Table (1918) declare in the Preface that this book is an attempt to chart the facts involved in those problems of race and territory which the war has shoved into the foreground of our political and business thinking, which will demand solution at the peace-table, and with the implications of which we shall hereafter be obliged to deal--facts which no business man can in safety overlook if he is to plan wisely for the future; facts which no labor leader can prudently ignore if he is to guard the gains of the past and guarantee the development of the future; facts which no legislator can leave out of his thinking if he is to bring constructive statesmanship to bear upon American policy; facts which the average American must know in order to read his daily paper with full appreciation of the related meanings of the news, filled as it today is with new names, new factors, new problems forced upon his attention by necessity and self-interest.
In writing this book we have tried to keep strictly to the role of reporters of facts. We have studiously avoided the expression of personal opinions. It may be thought that we have indulged in opinion at the points where we have dealt with the various solutions proposed for the several problems; but here again we have only set down some of the solutions that statesmen, publicists, and political schools have advanced. We have tried to report with no admixture of our personal opinions, what ends those who have proposed a given solution think it will serve, and to record as well the objections that have been raised to such solution. We have included these statements of proposed solutions in this book of facts because the points of view and convictions which they represent are as truly facts for political engineering to reckon with at the peace-table as any matter of race or trade. But we have not in any instance placed our personal valuation upon a solution.
The reader may get the impression that we have not taken into full account the practical force of the political idealism that has taken such concrete form in the recent state papers of the United States and of our associates in the war [WWI]; it may be thought that in listing the interests of Russia, let us say, we have overlooked the renunciation of many old interests that has been made by the present revolutionary [Communist/Bolshevik] leaders; or, again, where we state that the passion of a certain territory by a given nation would cut off from the sea certain other nations, it may seem that we have left out of our reckoning the growing determination of statesmanship that the problem of access to the sea for all nations shall be constructively met at the peace conference by adequate international arrangements.
It all such cases, however, it must be remembered that this book is not a propagandist document, but an attempt to list all of the concrete factors that must be delta with by the new statesmanship or by the revolutionist philosophy in the attempt to work out a new order of economic and political relationships.
Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis On Security And Russia Tensions07:58
September 21, 2017
Latvia's President Raimonds Vejonis addresses the 72nd Session of the U.N. General Assembly at the United Nations, in New York on Sept. 20, 2017. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)
As world leaders gathered in New York this week for the U.N. General Assembly, Russia and Belarus launched large-scale military exercises near the border with the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, increasing tensions in the region.
Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson talks with Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis (@Vejonis) about his concerns about Russia and his confidence in the European Union and NATO.
South Korean soldiers participate in an anti-terror and anti-chemical terror exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise last year.
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
North Korea is issuing fresh threats against the United States as a 10-day computer-based military exercise gets under way on the Korean peninsula. It's an annual joint drill between American and South Korean forces, but this year, it comes following a bitter back-and-forth between North Korea and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Joint exercises happen twice a year — once in March, again in August. The U.S. has always maintained these are purely defensive and to keep the two militaries prepared in case of an unplanned event like a missile strike. North Korea, however, has long viewed the exercises as rehearsals for invasion. Its top propaganda paper, the Rodong Sinmun, on Sunday wrote the exercise is "the most explicit expression of hostility against" North Korea, would be like "pouring gasoline on fire" and worsen the state of the peninsula.
"The Korean People's Army is keeping a high alert, fully ready to contain the enemies. It will take resolute steps the moment even a slight sign of the preventive war is spotted," it said.
The August exercise — called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, or UFG — is a computer based simulation for unplanned events that include military actions but also terror or chemical attacks. This year, 17,500 members of the U.S. military and nearly 50,000 servicemembers from the South Korean military are taking part. Unlike the March exercise, UFG doesn't include live fire drills and happens concurrently with drills by local governments and civil servants to prepare South Korea's civil defenses.
While there is nothing inherently new about what's happening this year — the exercise has gone on since the mid-1970s — what's different is the context. It comes on the heels of North Korea testing two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July, and an announcement that it was examining a plan to possibly bracket Guam with missiles — a plan that is on hold. And, the tensions were ratcheted up further when President Donald Trump made threats of fire and fury to North Korea.
This year, the U.S. has scaled back the number of troops participating by about eight thousand, but Defense Secretary James Mattis says that's not because of heightened tensions. He told reporters fewer troops were needed because of integrating some roles and emphasizing command post operations. But, because of the increased attention on the Korean peninsula, North Korea's allies of China and Russia are making louder calls to freeze these exercises in the interest of getting North Korea back to the table to talk about de-escalating aggression on the peninsula.
China and Russia back an idea known in shorthand as "freeze for freeze" — suggesting that the U.S. and South Korea should suspend its large scale annual exercises in exchange for Pyongyang halting its nuclear and missile tests. So far the U.S. and South Korea have rejected this idea.
Ronald P. Formisano in The Tea Party: A Brief History (2012) gives us the condensed history of binding the man; Jane Mayer in Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016) gives the longer reversion on the historiography of the binding of the strong-man state: the United States. Both narratives center the villainy is the Koch Network. Formisano gives a shout-out to Mayer where he states: "The Kochs' relative invisibility as political activists and ideological warriors came to an end, however, with an investigative essay by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker issue of August 30, 2010. "Indeed," wrote Mayer, "the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama administration policies--from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program--that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus."
IN THE BEGINNING WERE THREE NETWORKS
Journalist George Packer in The Unwinding: An Inner History Of The New America (2013) tells us how the binding was facilitated. Packer declares that in 1987--the year that the Federal Communications Commission voted 4-0 to repeal its own Fairness Doctrine, which had been in effect since 1949 and required licensees of the public airwaves to present important issues in a honest and equitable manner (a vote that paved the way the following year for Sacramento radio host named Rush Limbaugh to syndicate his conservative talk show nationally)--Andrew Breitbart entered Tulane. He spent his four years in New Orleans partying with a group of wealthy, hilarious, debauched friends, drinking himself into oblivion, and betting his parents' money on football games and backgammon.
Several more years passed before Andrew Breitbart found his mission in life. In 1992--the year Warren Buffett, a major investor in the Washington Post Company, warned that "economic strength of once-mighty media enterprises continues to erode as retailing patterns change and advertising and entertainment choices proliferate"--Breitbart got a job delivering scripts around Hollywood. Which eventually led to Orson Bean introducing him to Rush Limbaugh's book The Way Things Ought to Be.
That same year, a friend from high school told Breitbart, "I've seen your future and it's in the Internet."
One night in 1994, Andrew Breitbart linked to the Internet, the one place beyond the reach of the Democrat-Media complex where you could say think and be anything, and he was born again from liberal to conservative. And it wasn't long afterward that Breitbart found a one-man news digest called the Drudge Report--a mishmash of politics, Hollywood gossip, and extreme weather reports. He was hooked on the right-wing rendition of news.
For the next eight years Breitbart worked with Arianna Huffington and Drudge. As the old-media began to crumble in 2005, Breitbart. com was launched declaring to the [old] media, "You guys don't get it. The American people are now in control of the narrative, and you can't grab it for yourself and drive it off the cliff."
Everything changed for Breitbart on the August day in 2009--the year the Chicago Tribune eliminated its foreign desk and the Washington Post closed its three remaining domestic bureaus in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles--that Breitbart destroyed ACORN (that protected low-income housing). And proceed to Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod to be fired on trumped-up charges.
It was fun! fucking with the heads of nervous journalist and helping the mainstream media commit suicide.
In 2010, Breitbart was everywhere, Manhattan and D.C., the Tea Party Convention and the White House Correspondents' Dinner, Twitter and YouTube, working his BlackBerry while talking on the phone, turning his florid face and keen blue eyes and wave of graying hair toward every camera aimed in his direction, getting up close with righteous [right-wing] indignation and puerile humor, jabbing his finger. Resulting in his they want to portray me as crazy, unhinged, unbalanced. Okay, good, fine. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck--
On March 1, 2012, in the full flame of glory, less than a year after scoring his biggest coup in the shape of Congressman Anthony Weiner's erect penis self-photographed behind gray briefs, shortly after leaving an evening of wine and talk in a Brentwood bar, Andrew Breitbart collapsed from heart failure and died at age forty-three.
Steve Bannon denies this ignoble ending of Andrew Breitbart in Joshua Green's Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald trump, And The Storm Of The Presidency (2017). Fox News, which had aggressively promoted the Sherrod video (which proved to be faked) banned Andrew Breitbart as an on-air guest. By then Steve Bannon was actively involved in the site and its business. When the Sherrod story blew up, he was out raising money to expand and re-launch Breitbart News. With the negative publicity, and the taint of racism, he suddenly encountered "nuclear winter." And yet Breitbart himself was immune to shame--or at least, to being shamed--and had no compunction about launching vicious personal attacks. Upon learning of Senator Ted Kennedy's death, Breitbart tweeted that Kennedy as a "villain," a "prick," and a "duplicitous bastard," adding: "I'm more than willing to go off decorum to ensure THIS MAN is not beatified."
The ostracizing of Breitbart News didn't last long. Less than a year later the site caught Anthony Wiener tweet of his genitals. He was quickly welcomed back to Fox News. The experience taught Bannon the power of real news and how it could be exploited--a lesson he would soon have cause to put into practice.
On March 1, 2012, with the re-launch of Breitbart News just four days away, Bannon was in New York City pitching to investors when he got a phone call: Andrew Breitbart had been walking in his Bentwood neighborhood that morning when he collapsed and died of heart failure. He was forty-three. Feeling shell-shocked and duty-bound, Bannon made the decision to formally join Breitbart News, stepping in to become its executive chairman.
At the funeral, Matt Drudge asked Bannon what he planned to do. Bannon replied: "We're going ahead with the launch."
READING THE TEA LEAVES: ASTROTURF OR GRASSROOTS POPULISM
Formisano declares that the concept of Tea Party is not new to American political culture. The main debate about the Tea Party, however, has to do with authenticity. To what extent has it emanated from the grassroots, from ordinary people, especially from those not previously involved in politics, or to what extent has it been created by corporations [Koch Network donors], billionaires [the Kochs], and right-wing media [Fox Corp] seeking to further their own agenda? Its partisans and critics alike, as if reading tea leaves, often see in it what they wish to see.
When the Tea Party first appeared during 2009, critics--notably Democratic leaders--dismissed it as "astroturf populism." The term astroturf came into political use in the 1980s to describe grassroots activism that is more artificial than authentic. Usually it take the form of lobbying by corporations who organize campaigns that are made to appear to be spontaneous mass [provocateur] activism but are actually front organizations with names that disguise their true purposes. Corporations that are heavy polluters, for example, may hire a public relations firm to create a fake organization that that calls itself "Citizens for Clean Air and Water: and whose purpose is to lobby against the regulation of pollutants in air and water.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives at the time, Nancy Polosi, notably labeled the Tea Party "astroturf": "It's not really a grassroots movement. It's astroturf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle class." Not surprisingly, Tea Party activists at all levels of the movement rejected this description and criticized Polosi--a Democrat already demonized by much of the right wing--as out of touch, or worse. They warned that Democrats--as well as Republicans--were underestimating the "people power" represented by the Tea Party.
MEDIA AND MONEY
On April 15, 2009, "Tax Day," Tea party demonstrators reportedly gathered in some 750 towns and cities across the country. The largest, in Atlanta, attracted several thousand. Similar demonstrations occurred on July 4. A powerful media engine promoted these protests: the Fox News Cable Network, owned by right-wing billionaire Rupert Murdoch and run by former Republican campaign manager Roger Ailes, [recipient of the right-wing Bradley Prize]. Fox News relentlessly urged it viewers to get involved in the April 15 "Tax Day" protests. Its various personalities, led by its "superstar "hosts" Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and others, urged viewers on dozens of occasions to attend the rallies. Beginning in February 2009, shortly after "Santelli's rant," the talking heads on Fox News repeatedly declared that a storm of protest was gathering throughout the country against the Obama administration's economic policies.
A week before the Tax Day rallies, however, Murdoch pulled Beck from the Atlanta protest and issued a statement saying that Fox News should not be supporting the Tea Party "or any other party," a rather bewildering action given subsequent events. On April 15 Sean Hannity appeared at the Atlanta rally while Beck went to San Antonio. Greta Van Susteren camped out with cameras in front of the White House. She interviewed Tea Party activists and Republican South Carolina governor Mark Sanford. Neil Cavuto broadcasted live from the Sacramento rally surrounded by Tea Parties and proclaimed that, just as the original Boston Tea Party was about "taxation without representation" so too was this protest because, even though Barack Obama had been voted into office, voters had not voted for his economic policies.
The Tea Party's most significant political noise, though, came in August 2009 when, spurred on and transported by Freedom Works and other corporate entities, Tea Party activists appeared at local Congressional town hall meetings being held for representatives to discuss the Democrats' health insurance legislation, [Obamacare]. Instead of allowing Congressmen to answer questions, however, "outraged" activists did their best to disrupt the meeting. Although coached to do so from above the militants needed little prodding to shout and scream. The anti-government mood ventured into the absurd when protesters shouted, "Keep your government hand off my Medicare!" but critics who focused on illogical complaints were missing the point: this was political theater staged to create the impression of the unpopularity of health insurance reform.
Fox News faithfully covered the bus tours and rallies organized by the Tea Party Express, a faux-grassroots venture funded by a political action committee called Our Country Deserves Better, which was originally formed in 2008 to elect
All eyes are on Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. (third from left), and his Republican colleagues as they pitch yet another Obamacare repeal-and-replace plan.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
John McCain on Friday imperiled Republicans' latest Affordable Care Act repeal and replace effort when he said he "cannot in good conscience" support the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill. But McCain did also say he could at some point support the substance of his fellow Republicans' proposal.
"I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Sens. [Lindsey] Graham and [Bill] Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment," McCain said. "But that has not been the case."
That's notable because, for the first time since Trump became president, there actually seemed to be some real ideological unity around a repeal-and-replace effort from Republicans.
If it is revived — and this effort isn't quite dead yet, because other GOP holdouts haven't stated their unequivocal opposition publicly — the Graham-Cassidy bill very well may be the foundation of how the health care system is reshaped.
So what would it mean for where you live? We take a look.
A big selling point of Graham-Cassidy, according to its proponents, is flexibility for states. In place of the federal dollars that fund Obamacare's subsidies and Medicaid expansion, Graham-Cassidy, which under the latest GOP proposal would be law in 2020, would give states block grants.
Those are big chunks of money given directly to states, which would have broad discretion in how to spend them.
But importantly, those block grants would be less money than the total money states are getting for Obamacare right now.
Graham-Cassidy would eliminate the premiums that help people pay for their health insurance and payments helping insurance companies keep prices down, and it would also take away the Medicaid expansion created under Obamacare. States that took this expansion were able to provide Medicaid to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
That would disappear, with the block grants taking that money's place.
One section of the Graham Cassidy bill spells out how the states can use the money — to help high-risk people buy insurance, for example, or to replace the premium subsidies to some degree.
One other thing the bill's architects envisioned is a decline in spending. Altogether, the block grants would reduce federal government spending by $107 billion from 2020 through 2026, according to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The left-leaning center for Budget and Policy Priorities puts that figure even higher, at $243 billion.
So given those basics — less money but more flexibility with that money — states would have big choices to make. And analyses have shown that Graham Cassidy would leave millions — even tens of millions — more Americans uninsured than under the status quo.
"You can inject the money wherever you want into the problem of the uninsured, but if there's less money you're going to cover fewer people. There's no two ways about it," said Nicholas Bagley, a professor and health law expert at the University of Michigan Law School. "Or you're going to cover as many people but less generously."
So here are a few routes states could take, according to what a variety of health care experts told NPR. Given all the flexibility states might have, this is just a sampling of what states could do, but it's a start at conceptualizing how health care in any given state might look if the bill passes.
Focus on demographics. "What is the patient mix? What does the consumer mix look like in your state?" said Lanhee Chen, research fellow at Stanford's right-leaning Hoover Institution and policy director for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential bid. "Those are going to be important factors: demographic factors, patient mix and acuity, is there one dominant employer in the state?"
For example, a state with a large population of Medicaid recipients may want to direct more funding to helping lower-income people. Some states may also allow insurers to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions, meaning those patients may need more help.
Lee used Massachusetts as another example of how a state might decide to reconfigure its health programs.
"The average income is higher, you have people with more educational attainment who are used to making choices on a broad variety of things, where maybe more healthcare choices would not be problematic," he said.
Boost Medicaid as much as possible. Some analyses have shown that Medicaid covers people for far less than it might cost under private insurance. With that in mind, says one expert, states might do well to just expand Medicaid as much as they can.
"if you wanted to do right for the health of the people in your state what would you do?" asks Amitabh Chandra, professor of social policy at Harvard University. To him, the answer is obvious: "The single most cost-effective thing to do is spend on the Medicaid program. It's unbelievably lean, but it's unbelievably efficient in terms of the value it delivers."
...Or not. On the flip side, a state where lawmakers want less government involvement in health care could take a different route.
"A state could say, 'We don't really like putting the Medicaid expansion population back into Medicaid so what we're going to do instead is help them get private coverage,'" said Bagley
States could also make Medicaid less generous.
"In our Medicaid program in Ohio, we probably spend as much money now on optional benefits as we do on mandatory benefits," said John Corlett, that state's former Medicaid director. "People forget that a lot of benefits that states provide in the Medicaid program are optional."
That could save a lot of money, he said, but he added a caveat: "That's not making the program more efficient."
Help clinics that serve low-income people. As low-income Americans would be the most affected by reduced premium subsidies and shrinking the Medicaid program, one expert says it would be smart to simply direct the money to places that serve the most low-income patients.
"Your choices are just awful," cautions Sara Rosenbaum, professor of health law and policy at George Washington University — she believes that reducing money available to states both in the block grant and in Medicaid will force lawmakers to leave many of their constituents worse off.
"But the most sensible thing to do would probably be — at least where they're available — to go to your public hospital or your community hospital or community health centers, and if you have other clinics in the region that see low-income people, to give them some grants and let them care for as many people as they can."
Shift money towards (or away from) particular groups. A state may decide to move money currently used for insurance premiums down the income spectrum, Chen said.
"The ACA subsidy structure allocates subsidies for people making up to 400 percent of federal poverty," he said, noting that that comes out to nearly $100,000 for a family of four. "A state like Kansas, for example — they might have a relatively smaller distribution of people that are at that income level, and by the way, most of those people might already be getting offers of health insurance" from their employers, he said (though, importantly, Graham-Cassidy would also eliminate the employer mandate).
States could "beef up support for people making less than 250 percent of poverty," he said. "That is something you could pursue under Graham-Cassidy that you couldn't pursue under the ACA."
This is contingent upon there being enough money, though, because once again, Graham-Cassidy would reduce federal funds to many states.
Move toward single-payer? Yes, it's a Republican bill, but it grants a lot of leeway... meaning states could use their block grants to move closer to a single-payer system.
"Some states that are going to experiment with how they bring more centralization into their marketplace," said Chen. He hesitated to say single-payer — "I don't know if there's enough here resource-wise to make that work" — but he noted that a state might decide to create "some kind of a Medicaid buy-in system."
Bagley explained how this sort of system might work.
"One alternative would be to take the money and create a state-based Medicaid type program that paid Medicaid rates and have a Medicaid-type plan cover all the uninsured in the state," said Bagley. "So it wouldn't be single-payer, but it would be a single-payer approach for the uninsured."
For this reason, some Republicans remain displeased iwth Graham-Cassidy. Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy this week said he was undecided on the bill for this reason.