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Laura Flanders

Contributing Writer

Contributing writer Laura Flanders is the host and founder of GRITtv with Laura Flanders, a daily talk show for people who want to do more than talk. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso, 2004) and Blue GRIT: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians  (Penguin Press, 2007). A regular contributor on MSNBC, Flanders has appeared on shows from Real Time with Bill Maher to The O’Reilly Factor. Flanders is the editor of At the Tea Party: The Wing Nuts, Whack Jobs and Whitey-whiteness of the New Republican Right… and Why we Should Take it Seriously (October 2010, OR books). For more information, go to LauraFlanders.com or GRITtv.org.


  • November 11, 2009

    Unequal Power, Unequal Access

    "If women are denied a chance to develop their full human potential, including their potential to lead healthier and at least somewhat happier lives, is society as a whole really healthy? "

    It's not my question -- it's the question raised by Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization which just finished up it first -- first? -- study of women's health.

    Their verdict? Societies are still failing women. While women provide the bulk of health care, they rarely receive the care they need. Sound familiar?

    Laura Flanders

  • November 10, 2009

    What Do the Bishops Have That We Don’t?

    The House passed its version of health-care legislation Saturday night by a vote of 220 to 215 after the approval of an amendment which amounts to a not-very-back door abortion ban for everyone but the very rich. Presented by Democrat Bart Stupak of Michigan with the strong backing of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the amendment would prohibit abortion coverage in the government-run plan and any private plan on the new marketplace that accepts people who are using government subsidies to buy coverage.

    [There'll be an interesting conversation about this with Frances Kissling and others today on GRITtv.org]

    Laura Flanders

  • October 29, 2009

    Palin’s Pet Has Taliban Ties?

    One week before Election Day, the special election to fill a vacant House seat in New York's North Country is heating up. It's a three-way split, pitting a Republican, a Democrat, and a Conservative against one another. It's close.

    And the conservative on the ticket has the kind of support the Democrat running against him must love.

    Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman has already received the backing of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the anti-public-spending Club for Growth. On Monday he was endorsed by another beauty: Dana Rohrabacher, the senior Orange County (CA) Republican who began his career as a speechwriter for President Reagan. Said Rohrabacher "We don't need Tweedle-Dum or Tweedle-Dee, we need Hoffman. He's not afraid to stand up and speak the truth."

    Laura Flanders

  • October 26, 2009

    Bombings in Baghdad Threaten DC’s Security.

     

    "Deadliest bombs since '07 shatter Iraqi Complexes. Key Government Sites. Synchronized car blast kill more than 130 -- Security issue." So reads the headline in my newspaper.

     

    According to the Associated Press, Iraq's deadliest bombing in more than two years killed at least 155 and wounded more than 500 Sunday. Two suicide car bombs blew up almost simultaneously outside the Justice Ministry in downtown Baghdad having passed through multiple check points. At least 25 staff members of the Baghdad Provincial Council, which runs the city, are among the dead.

    Security issue? Not for those watching US TV.

    Laura Flanders

  • October 20, 2009

    Health Care Hoax Worse Than Balloon Boy

    An attention grab that held millions of Americans transfixed. A story that seemed to be about life in the balance. It dominated the airwaves, the social networks, held Americans in its clutch. And then it turned out to have been nothing but a hoax. A play for attention that distracted the entire country.

    Now that the Balloon Boy's story is blown, can we call out the health care hoax?

    The anti-health care lobby is taking all our attention hostage and a nation's hopes (and votes) for quality health care are floating away.

    Laura Flanders

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  • October 13, 2009

    Geithner’s All Ears for the Debt Cartel

    Months ago, a former chief economist at the IMF called it mind control. Talking to Simon Johnson of the Atlantic Monthly, he explained that one of the most alarming truths laid bare by the economic crash was that the finance industry had effectively captured the thinking of government.

    "That's going too far," said reasonable people. "This is no Banana Republic run by crony cartels."

    Laura Flanders

  • September 29, 2009

    Punch in the Streets, Not in the Suites at G-20

     

    The G20 summit wrapped up in Pittsburgh Friday with pledges but little punch. Except in the streets.

    On climate change, world leaders vowed "strong action" and on the economy, "balanced economic growth." The summit endorsed granting more voting rights at the IMF and World Bank to ‘underrepresented' countries like CHINA. With a billion people and the world's second largest economy -- China may budge up from having 3.6% of all votes.

    Underrepresented booming countries may get a bigger voice in global finance. Nice. But under-represented people? Well there's the rub.

    Around 200 people were arrested during the two-day Pittsburgh summit.  Heavy policing seems to be the only plan world leaders have come up with for shutting reality out.

    Reality, for those in the streets, not the suites, of the world, is a whole new economy -- way more than a downturn -- and the prospect of long-term, possibly permanent, unemployment.

    Read the papers, and the stats are all there. In the US, job seekers now outnumber job openings six to one. Official unemployment stands at 9.7 percent, its highest level in 26 years. If you're a teenager, it's over 25 percent. No reason there to shun protest for fear of ruining your job prospects, they're grim and only getting grimmer. That's if radicals like Paul Craig Roberts, a former officer of the Reagan Administration, are to be believed.

    If measured according to the methodology used when he was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Roberts says "the unemployment rate today in the US is above 20%. Moreover, there is no obvious way of reducing it."

    Consumer spending -- the engine that drove 70 % of the US economy and by extension much of the world's -- isn't coming back. And that's just the way it's going to be, President Obama's chief economic adviser Larry Summers told the BBC (my sister, actually) in Pittsburgh.

    "The US can't, shouldn't and won't continue to experience the consumption-led growth of the past few years." said Summers. And the world -- and we -- should just adjust...

    The message is pledge-on! Endorse "strong action" on climate and "balanced growth." But all those poor people out of work? They'll just have to adjust.

    While banks are doling out cash by the millions to kill any new regulation of Wall St. (which clearly has its heart set on making another buck off all that poverty...) There is one part of the economy that seems actually to be getting stimulated: Policing. If ever civil society finds a voice and decides actually to wield it, they'll be ready. How else to reign in reality, for lawd's sake?

     

     

    Laura Flanders, is the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GritLaura on Twitter.com.

     

    Laura Flanders

  • September 25, 2009

    OOPS! The ACORN Ban Could Snag Lockheed & Catholic Charities

     

    Continuing the GOP's attack on the poor people's organizing group ACORN, the House and Senate -- by wide margins -- have voted to bar ACORN from receiving federal funding on account of fraudulent activity.

    Let's hope the legislators enjoy their gloat and then get right back to business.  Passed in a flurry of bloviating bluster, The Defund ACORN law is written so broadly that it just could come in very handy.

    Rep. Alan Grayson (D of Florida) has already asked the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to find out which other contractors might be caught in the ACORN ban-net.

    When it comes to fraud felons receiving federal funds -- Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman top the list, with 20 fraud cases between them. Where military contractors go, the cash-for-killers at Blackwater (now XE) are rarely far behind. (Indeed, see Jeremy Scahill's story.) And then there's Halliburton and the magically disappeared federal cash for troop services and Iraq reconstruction. (Has anyone seen that $9 billion? )

    Fraud by recipients of the $750 billion financial bailout program is bound to show up soon. Earlier this year, federal investigators said they had opened 20 criminal probes into possible securities fraud, tax violations, insider trading and other crimes by TARP recipients.

    If Congress - including scores of Democrats --  can get this hot and bothered over the $50 million ACORN's supposed to have received over the past 15 years they're going to become hysterical about the BILLIONS received by banks in the blink of a brokers' eyelid.

    Not to be left out, several supposedly faith-based groups, recipients of federal grants, currently stand accused of misspending taxpayer cash to cover for child-molesting clergy.

    To name just one, in at least two cities Catholic Charities stands accused of using federal funds to settle or cover up sex abuse charges, but that didn't stop Catholic Charities from receiving a federal government contract this August for $100 million to work with victims of natural disasters.

    Bankers, brokers, bomb-makers, and let us not forget the child molesters...  This could all get very interesting very fast. I can hardly wait to turn on the television. Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck. Who's going to be first with the outrage?

    The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GritLaura on Twitter.com.

     

    Laura Flanders

  • September 24, 2009

    Wangari Maathai: A US Resource War?

     

     

    Wangari Maathai makes the relationship between needs and wars so clear that even the Nobel committee (which awarded her the peace prize in '04) got it. Violent disparities in access to resources, lead to violence. The wars right now destroying people and the planet are wars over the stuff of life: land and water and fuel.

    If we can see the link between conflict and resource strain in Kenya and Congo and Brazil, why are we surprised that here at home, anger and tension-in-the-air is rising?

    Extreme poverty, bankruptcies, defaults, debt--they're all on the rise for the majority of Americans, even as a tiny minority grow their share of all wealth, and grab more than their fair share of the scarce resource that is the government's care and attention.

    The system is stressed and so are the people. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found the average family premium for health insurance rose to $13,375 last year, a jump of 5% even as inflation fell. That makes for an obscene rise of 131% over the past ten years. No wonder, that at the same time the number of Americans without any health coverage rose to 46.3 million.

    Healthcare is a scarce resource, and people's fears for themselves and their kids are very real. 

    The Census Bureau shows that the child poverty rate rose to 19.0% last year. That translates to 14.1 million children living in poverty in the richest nation in the world. By some estimates, that could be 26.6% by the end of 2009.

    Income inequality is at an all time high. Resources are strapped. Are we really surprised that fear -- and gun-sales -- are rising?

    Maathai's Green Belt movement believes in better environmental stewardship and better sharing will reduce war. She talks about it on GRITtv this week: "There is no way to have peace without equity."

    Her Green Belt movement has planted 40 billion trees since its founding and aims to plant another nine billion trees this year.

    What would be the US equivalent of all that tree-planting?

    The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GritLaura on Twitter.com.
     

     

    Laura Flanders

  • September 17, 2009

    Where’s the Norma Rae of Healthcare?

     

    Crystal Lee Sutton died last week. You might know her by her "other" name. It was Sutton's story that inspired the film Norma Rae, starring Sally Field who won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and Best Actress award at Cannes for her portrayal of Sutton, a North Carolina union organizer in the early 1970s. In an act of defiance Sutton wrote the word "UNION" on a piece of cardboard and stood up on her work table at the J.P. Stevens textile plant. Her co-workers followed and turned their machines off in solidarity.

    After hearing of her death, Field said that, "portraying Crystal Lee in Norma Rae not only elevated me as an actress, but as a human being."

    Sutton fought for the working poor much of her life. What she also had to fight for, it turns out, was healthcare. After being diagnosed with cancer a few years back, she was told that her insurance wouldn't cover the potentially life saving medication she needed. By the time the approval came through Sutton's cancer had spread.

    Speaking of her own predicament, Sutton said, "How in the world can it take so long to find out [whether they would cover the medicine or not] when it could be a matter of life and death. It is almost like, in a way, committing murder."

    She died at 68.

    It makes all the talk of death panels, a government takeover, and socialized medicine sound rather silly, doesn't it? Cancer's bad enough. But at least it's an equal opportunity killer. Our current for-profit insurance system isn't benign, and there's nothing equal about it. Is there someone out there somewhere standing on a table with a cardboard sign: 'HEALTHCARE'? We'd love to make a movie about it.


    Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GritLaura on Twitter.com.

     

    Laura Flanders