Best-selling author and broadcaster Laura Flanders hosts the The Laura Flanders Show, where she interviews forward thinking people from the worlds of politics, business, culture and social movements about the key questions of our day. The LF Show airs weekly on KCET/LinkTV, FreeSpeech TV, and in English & Spanish in teleSUR. Flanders is also a contributing writer to The Nation and Yes! Magazine (“Commonomics”) and a regular guest on MSNBC. She is the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller, BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso, 2004) and Blue GRIT: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians (Penguin Press, 2007). The Laura Flanders Show first aired on Air America Radio 2004-2008. You can find all her archives and more at Lauraflanders.com.
It's that familiar season, full of quaint old false beliefs. Like that crazy Santa Claus notion there's such a thing as just desserts. Who's been naughty and who's been nice? It's pretty clear in the world of global politics, but there's no relation between behavior and the consequences. In fact, if there's any relationship, it's downside up.
Take climate change. Polluter nations wouldn't be hard for Santa to spot. They're the big ones, with long dirty industrial histories, gobbling up everybody's ozone space. They're not called "naughty" (just "developed") and in Copenhagen they did all they could to prevent ever having to pay any painful price.
At the climate talks, they drew up secret plans in advance to legalize as many emissions as they could, and threw a fit when less powerful nations said -- wait a minute -- you're dooming us to drown or dry up.
The Senate held a historic vote on health care reform last night at 1 AM. Splitting exactly along party lines--that is, if you call Joe Lieberman a Democrat--the health care bill made it through a cloture vote and is one step away from final passage and the conference committee.
To get so-called moderate Democrat Ben Nelson on board, however, Harry Reid had to agree to a decidedly un-moderate compromise on abortion rights. It's not Stupak language--but it's close.
Stupak's staffers, meanwhile, were sending frantic emails to catholic bishops and top republican staffers asking for their help to keep his amendment in the final bill. If that's bipartisanship, they can keep it.
It's holiday season. And besides I've been feeling too grumpy to take the news "straight." So I came up for a ditty for today. You're welcome to send me yours. Here goes:
The President asked the banks to meet, and the bankers said they might, but the weather was just too awful and the timing was too tight.
The President talked about America's enduring values again at West Point Tuesday night, and then he laid them out, a whole lot of values one can only wish would endure a little less.
The President began his address to the nation on Afghanistan in the traditional style of his predecessor, setting the tone for troop deployments by recalling 9-11 and terror and fright. Then came the retelling of the traditional Al Qaeda story, the one that omits any mention of Saudi Arabia or Israeli occupation or post-Gulf War US bases -- in fact any mention of politics.
Sadly, our new president seemed to share George W. Bush's appreciation for the value of a simple villain and not asking questions. So much for those who seek a new narrative, one that might include the debate that exists around the world about the merits and real demerits of war as a response to a criminal terrorist act.
In advance of the president's jobs summit, economist Paul Krugman is finally calling for government job-creation.
"It's time for at least a small-scale version of the New Deal's Works Progress Administration" writes Krugman. He says it "would offer relatively low-paying (but much better than nothing) public-service employment."
That's probably not what the Obama administration has in mind. They and Congress seem set instead on relying on the private sector and re-asserting Democrats' fiscal conservative bona fides before next year's vote.
Hurricane Katrina is often called a natural disaster, as if it was all nature's fault, not man's. The reality, of course, is that federal, state and local governments ignored warnings from scientists for years, both that climate change would lead to increased storm activity, and that destruction of wetlands outside of New Orleans had hurt the city's natural defenses against a storm surge. Calls for fixing levees and infrastructure investments went unheeded while the doctrine of markets and profits held sway.
This week, a federal district judge finally ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers was indeed responsible for part of the devastation in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward and parts of St. Bernard Parish.
The failure of the Corps to recognize the hazards wetland destruction had created was "clearly negligent on the part of the Corps," said U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. "Furthermore, the Corps not only knew, but admitted by 1988 [the threats to human life] and yet it did not act in time to prevent the catastrophic disaster that ensued."
I just don't get it. When Congress approves gifts worth billions of dollars to people who don't deserve a dime, why isn't it front page news?
On Nov. 6, when President Obama signed the Worker, Home-ownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009, he extended unemployment benefits and renewed the first-time home-buyer tax credit for a while, but hidden deep inside the law was a tax break for businesses that did well in the boom years -- and the resulting refund-checks will be huge.
The tax break would help struggling businesses, Obama declared, but the act actually affects big companies as well as small. Businesses are allowed to offset losses incurred in the bad years of 2008 and 2009 against profits booked as far back as 2004. Those with the biggest boom followed by the biggest bust are exactly the companies like to benefit the most. Among them, you guessed it, home-builders, exactly the folks who overbuilt and over-lent us into a mortgage and credit meltdown.
"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?