Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Health Care and the Circus in the Cities

Google and Microsoft have the ability to wage a major political fight, the kind appreciated in Washington for the money it generates in lobbyist fees and political donations for lawmakers. Both companies began their Washington operations as one-man bands but now have large presences.

To understand the quote from the New York Times above, read on---

Many people look at the Circus in the Cities which tries to package itself as an expression of democracy and they wonder why, and how it is, that these clowns making a pretense of being democratically elected politicians can spend so much time on seemingly petty issues and they can't manage the time of day to resolve our problems of everyday living over which they have control.

Things like health care and the minimum wage never surface and we are told, "Wait until after Election Day and we will take care of you"...

Well, in the case of single-payer universal health care only thirty Election Days--- 60 years--- have come and gone.

And what do we have? One big expensive mess where we can't afford to stay well and we can't afford to die.

Lot's of progressives are enamored with John Conyers and his House Resolution 676... Conyers and his mesmerized progressive friends are telling us, "Wait until after Election Day."

What is there to wait for? H.R. 676 isn't going to be brought forward by Conyers anymore than his promises of impeachment proceedings against the most corrupt President and Administration in U.S. history.

Supporters of H.R. 676 point to a pile of resolutions in support of H.R. 676 by labor unions which mean absolutely nothing because the labor bureaucracy providing the endless trail of resolutions supporting H.R. 676 state before the resolutions are even passed that they will be looking at other health care reforms.

The American people, and especially Minnesotans, when asked what kind of health care system they want point north across the border towards Canada and say, "We want the same thing the Canadians have."

The Canadians do not have anything like the phony health care proposal Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party Senator John Marty is proposing with huge, un-affordable premiums... and people know H.R. 676 isn't going to fly any better than the flying saucers Dennis Kucinich has seen.

Minnesotans have good reason to say they want what the Canadians have because Floyd Olson and Elmer Benson came up with the idea in the first place and Tommy Douglas and Dr. Norman Bethune put single-payer universal health care on the agenda in Canada as a first step towards socialized health care where all the for-profit motives are finally removed from the health care system and keeping people well and treating their illnesses when sick is the only concern... not how much some Wall Street coupon clipper is going to be making off his pharmaceutical, health management, insurance or hospital stocks.

So, why is it we can't even get a hearing on the issues involving health care when everyone in this country knows that there is a serious problem here needing immediate attention?

It is all about lobbying and the money associated with lobbying.

Politicians, including that darling of the limousine liberal crowd--- John Conyers, all they care about are issues that have well-heeled lobbyists on both sides of the issues.

The Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition can't afford to pay for office space, let alone to purchase the services of high-end lobbyists.

If we had big-money lobbyists willing to bribe their way through the capitol building and house office building we would see action real fast.

Don't believe me?

Well, consider this article from the New York Times and note what I have put in bold type:

Any antitrust inquiry in an acquisition of Yahoo is likely to be complex and last months, at least.

Published: February 5, 2008
WASHINGTON — It could be payback time.

Related stories:

Google Works to Torpedo Microsoft Bid for Yahoo (February 4, 2008)

Google Assails Microsoft’s Bid for Yahoo (February 3, 2008)

Yahoo Offer Is Strategy Shift for Microsoft (February 2, 2008)

Eyes on Google, Microsoft Bids $44 Billion for Yahoo (February 2, 2008)

Microsoft's Yahoo Bid
Full coverage of Microsoft's offer to buy Yahoo, who is advising, who else might be in play and where the bid goes from here.

Dennis Brack/Bloomberg News

Senator Herb Kohl and Representative John Conyers indicated willingness to hold hearings on the proposed deal.

An expensive legal and political campaign last year by Microsoft helped delay completion of Google’s $3.1 billion bid for the online advertising company DoubleClick. Microsoft filed briefs against the deal in the United States and abroad, testified against it in Congress, and worked with a public relations firm to generate opposition.

Now Google is preparing to strike back.

With Microsoft bidding nearly $45 billion to buy Yahoo, Google has begun to lay the groundwork to try to delay, and possibly derail, any deal. Google executives have asked company lobbyists to develop a political strategy to challenge the acquisition, which could threaten Google’s dominance of Internet advertising. Google’s top legal officer posted a statement Sunday that criticized the proposed deal.

Spokesmen for the two companies in Washington declined to comment Monday about a looming legal and political battle, which has yet to fully emerge and is likely to stay below the radar at least until the control of Yahoo seems clear.

Moreover, some antitrust specialists and government officials said Google might tread carefully in opposing any deal since it could backfire.

Google dominates the market for Internet advertising, and to the extent it portrays the deal as encroaching on that dominance, it could help make Microsoft’s case that its acquisition of Yahoo would create a more competitive marketplace.

Lawmakers are responding to the takeover attempt. Representative John Conyers, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he would hold hearings to examine any proposed deal.

And Senator Herb Kohl, Democrat of Wisconsin, who leads an important antitrust subcommittee, said he was interested in the proposed acquisition. “Should Yahoo accept Microsoft’s offer,” he said, “the subcommittee expects to hold hearings to explore the competitive and privacy implications of the deal.”

Google and Microsoft have the ability to wage a major political fight, the kind appreciated in Washington for the money it generates in lobbyist fees and political donations for lawmakers. Both companies began their Washington operations as one-man bands but now have large presences.

Microsoft enlarged its Washington staff in the late 1990s after it came under antitrust assault in the Clinton administration. Its lobbying shop is considered among the most effective in the capital, and it has retained more than 20 law firms, lobbying companies and press relations operations for an array of political and regulatory issues.

Google’s Washington office is less than three years old and has been steadily growing. In fall 2006, it established a political action committee and has since used Democrats from the Podesta Group lobbyists, two former Republican senators — Connie Mack and Dan Coats at the law firm of King & Spalding, and the law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

Google recently moved to larger quarters, with 27,000 square feet of space including a game room, open work areas, free lunches and environmentally friendly features like recycled rainwater — a smaller version of its Silicon Valley headquarters.

While Microsoft and Google have been occasional allies in Washington — they have worked together on intellectual property legislation and issues of open access — they clashed last year on legal and regulatory fronts.

In addition to the fight over DoubleClick, Google lodged a complaint in antitrust proceedings against plans for Vista, Microsoft’s new operating system. Google said these were anticompetitive because they unfairly discouraged the use of Google’s desktop search program. By lobbying in state capitals, Google persuaded prosecutors to intervene on its behalf. Ultimately, Microsoft agreed to modify the operating system to make it easier for users to decide which search application they wanted.

As they are gearing up now, a legal fight, if at all, is months away. Federal regulators will not begin to consider any deal until it is completed and formally presented. It is not certain whether the deal would be considered by the Justice Department, which has overseen previous antitrust proceedings against Microsoft, or the Federal Trade Commission, which reviewed and approved Google’s purchase of DoubleClick. (That transaction has not closed as European regulators continue to review it.)

Moreover, the size and complexity of a Microsoft-Yahoo deal is such that a government review is unlikely to be completed quickly, particularly in an election year, and may not be final before a new administration takes office in 2009.

Should Yahoo finally agree to be acquired by Microsoft, a focus of the political and legal debate will be the products and markets that could be affected. Microsoft has said the acquisition would increase competition in two related and large markets: Internet search and online advertising. Many ad industry executives, who have watched Google’s rise with some trepidation, agree.

But Google wants the focus of any antitrust debate to shift to issues other than search and advertising. In a statement posted on his company’s blog Sunday, David Drummond, Google’s general counsel, noted that a combined Microsoft and Yahoo would have an “overwhelming share” of the instant messaging and Web e-mail markets, and that the two companies run some of the most trafficked portals on the Web.

“Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors’ e-mail, I.M., and Web-based services?” Mr. Drummond asked.

It is not hard to see why Google wants to shift the focus. In the search market, a combined Microsoft-Yahoo would have about 33 percent of the market, still trailing Google’s 58 percent, according to comScore.

But in Web-based e-mail, comScore ranks Yahoo, with 256 million visitors worldwide in December, and Microsoft, with 255 million, as the top two providers. While there is bound to be overlap among users of the companies’ e-mail services, a combined Microsoft-Yahoo would command a much larger share than Google, which comScore ranks in third place with 90 million visitors in December.

Yahoo and Microsoft also rank No. 1 and 2 in financial news, and No. 2 and No. 1 in instant messaging, according to comScore.

Stephen Labaton reported from Washington and Miguel Helft from San Francisco.

You see, we have a Circus in the Cities and an even more fabulous and spectacular show under-the-big-top in Washington D.C. because of this:

Google and Microsoft have the ability to wage a major political fight, the kind appreciated in Washington for the money it generates in lobbyist fees and political donations for lawmakers. Both companies began their Washington operations as one-man bands but now have large presences.

Until working people can move beyond being manipulated and played for suckers and fools by politicians who always have their hands open behind their backs we aren't going to see a resolution to this health care mess it is as simple as that.

Organizations like the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition and others seeking real health care reform are going to have to understand that without the big money to turn over to the lobbyists to put into the pockets of politicians there just isn't going to be any legislative action in the form of H.R. 676 or the Marty proposal here in Minnesota and John Conyers and John Marty know that all too well as this one little paragraph of truth from the New York Times points out:

Google and Microsoft have the ability to wage a major political fight, the kind appreciated in Washington for the money it generates in lobbyist fees and political donations for lawmakers. Both companies began their Washington operations as one-man bands but now have large presences.

You know, I have been searching for one little kernel of truth from the New York Times for years... and this is the first time I ever found it... now, to get the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition to believe it, this is another matter.

Without having the money to turn over to the lobbyists to bribe politicians just to start the debate, we need to consider what we do have and how to use what we have to generate the real debate to win the change we need--- single-payer universal health care as a step towards socialized health care.

What do we have? We have ourselves. Alone we don't amount to anything as far as getting anything from politicians in the way of health care reform... what the heck, our annual pay-checks wouldn't cover walking into one legislators office with a decent bribe.

So, we have to educate our friends, neighbors and fellow workers; we have to organize; we have to begin sending a message to the clowns in the Cities and in Washington D.C. that we aren't buying their line of, "wait until after Election Day" because we now understand the game.

Besides, with the price of gas we probably won't be able to afford the trip to the polls on Election Day... Barack Obama might want to think on that.

I certainly won't waste a penny on gas to drive five miles to vote for a guy who lacks the political and moral courage to turn to the north... smile... point his finger towards Canada... and say: That is what you will get when I enter the White House if you vote for me on Election Day.

We don't need this crap, "But, look at what we will get if we don't vote for Obama." We certainly don't need "Vote Democrat, impeach Bush" John Conyers lecturing us, "We are going to look after you if you put a Democrat in the White House.

This Election kind of reminds me of a friend who recently got a new job. The employer made all these promises that she was going to get this and going to get that if she would agree to work for substantially less than what she thought the job should pay. The other day I asked her how the new job was going, and she said to me, "Well, I should have got all those promises my boss made to me in writing; I am getting the lower pay, but none of the promises."

Something to think about as you are sitting around the kitchen table.

You might want to take a walk to your local library for the book "Livin' the Blues" by Frank Marshall Davis who is sure to become more controversial than Reverend Wright in this election campaign. Barack Obama in his book called Frank Marshall Davis his "mentor." We might be able to learn something from Frank Marshall Davis about how to go about winning real health care reform... but, don't let anyone kid you, there is only ONE WAY >>>>> to real health care reform and that solution is what our neighbors to the north have... don't settle for giving up your vote for anything less.