The Cheater’s Playbook, Colltalers
A deceptive Middle East diplomatic agreement has shed some light on what the president is willing to do to get reelected. Sold as a peace accord, it’s in fact a coalition of Israel, the Arab Emirates, and the U.S. to put Iran on notice. If a Covid-19 vaccine won’t work, an Iranian blast could come in handy.
The first-ever virtual Democratic Convention starts today to deliver its strategy to block the White House and the GOP from preventing people from voting them out. It’ll also name Joe Biden for U.S. President and Kamala Harris, the first Black and Asian woman in a presidential ticket, for his VP.
With 78 days before the election, headlines may be dictated by these and other related themes. But let’s begin today with a class of profiteer directly related to people’s misery: health insurers. The pandemic has killed over 170,000 Americans, probably more, but your plan may cost more, thank you.
You may no longer afford it – and still owe for that 10-minute doctor’s visit last March – but top U.S. insurers’ profits doubled in the second quarter compared to the same period last year. They’ll certainly be joined in record-topping earnings by big pharma when a vaccine becomes available. Even if it’s under-tested, useless, or downright dangerous, shareholders and the Trump administration will cash in their investments either way. But not us.
Healthcare coverage in the U.S. was a failure way before the coronavirus scourge. Now it’s also helping the industry to pack billions in profits. That thousands are struggling and can’t spare a dime on their health even if their lives depend on it, which they often do, are not a glitch but a feature of the system. In the richest nation in the world, don’t dare to fall sick unless you’re, say, a CEO of a healthcare corporation. Or work for the White House.
The aggravating factor, of course, is candidate Biden’s refusal to embrace Medicare for All. If the evidence is not enough, that the system is broken and the Obamacre Act has
proven vulnerable to manipulation that renders it ineffective, then only public pressure to change a new president’s convictions.
Almost in tandem with the rising power of insurance companies is, surprise, surprise, the staggering accumulation of wealth by U.S. billionaires. Their combined net worth jumped $685 billion since March to an uncomprehensibly sky-high pile of $3.65 trillion. They could as well be living on another planet but instead, they are here, riding the same decrepit bridges and roads and making sure Congress won’t grant the unemployed livable benefits.
Of course, Jeff Besos or Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk, could individually or together support a decent living to new teachers, healthcare workers, food professionals, or housing authorities, just with the billions they’ll never be able to spend in several lifetimes. But why would they? It’s not that they can’t; they truly believe they made it on their own and the rest of us should be so lucky like they’ve always been. But a president could and must.
In Belarus, thousands took the streets of Minsky to protest the result of the elections that gave president Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, 80% of the votes, at odds with poll estimates and the unusual enthusiasm for his opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Fearing for her life and family, she’s gone into exile in Lithuania. The turmoil around his supporter has hardly rattled Vladimir Putin so far; his priority is still that ‘other’ election.
The insidiousness of the domestic violence issue, of killer partners eating up American homes from the inside, still weights down heavily on the literal backs of women. The lockdown has partially hidden this national public health emergency as if there’s any shortage of them. But it can not be ignored.
Speaking of violence, survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests are again dissatisfied with Pope Francis leadership. As Poland’s Archbishop Slawoj Glodz, long accused of protecting child rapists in their midst, handed him his resignation, the pope’s failed to live up to his word and demand accountability from a notorious apologist of cleric misconduct. By the way, as a whole, the church’s been spectacularly indifferent to this pandemic.
The UAE and Israel have a long, albeit ‘reserved,’ trade and cybersecurity partnership. The announced ‘deal’ merely formalizes what’s already a reality. It is ‘historic’ as some have called it but not a breakthrough. With UAE’s support, though, Israel can pressure Iran and do Trump’s bidding. It does look like a fail-safe strategy in case no vaccine works out. Short of curing Covid-19, an old-fashion little war would be a great distraction for the president.
It’d be worse than the 2003 invasion of Iraq, likely bloodier, and just like it, completely purposeless. But it may bring many a famed anchor, say, Brian Williams, to praise on a news broadcast the ‘beauty’ of Tomahawks missiles taking off for war. A quick strike may immediately empty the news decks for 24/7 war reports and cheers for the commander-in-chief and all that; fear of a world catching fire always leads people to vote for the status quo.
It’d be a travesty, for sure, one not even the ‘shock and awe’ campaign in Iraq couldn’t hold a candle to. But the tragedy of that is that the White House thinks it can control such an apocalyptic nightmare from going full spread. It won’t and the resistance may become strong enough to topple democracy. And that’s ultimately the excuse they seek, even if it won’t mean much in the Nuclear Winter that would follow it. Yes, we’re talking about nukes here.
Domestically, the agenda is coming along nicely. Forget the half a million new coronavirus cases since last week; turn press conferences into headline-hogging stump speeches; destroy the Post Office’s ability to deliver mail-in votes. But the self-sustained agency is not going into the sunset without a showdown and that’s what’s expected next. The Trump donor leading it may not last, but vote-suppression tactics will continue. It’s that or the Iranians.
In reality, a functional vaccine won’t be in place till next year, and there must be vigilance for the moment a fake one is propped up as such before that. Besides that, we must pull all stops to protect the USPO which is often the only game in many a town for folks without Internet access and poor long-distance service. If they won’t discuss canceling the Electoral College, then by Betelgeuse, they won’t tear up the Constitution right in front of our eyes.
In 2018, a ‘blue wave’ rode the Democrats to House majority and a slew of progressive new leaders calling for a revolution. But this year’s Convention, as in 2016, will be dominated by conservative, donor-rich old-party foxes, ex-presidents, spouses, and assorted moderates. Bernie Sanders will speak but the most recognizable face of the party’s future, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, will have exactly a minute to talk. We do hope she’ll let them have it.
Democrats fell behind on climate change, the Black Lives Moment, the Women’s Marches, young protests for gun control, and voting rights. They need AOC and her ink to bring out first-time voters and new libertarians. They’re in control but this is our moment. Don’t let them screw this up again.
Elvis Presley ‘has left the building‘ 43 years ago Sunday. It was also the 100th Anniversary of Charles Bukowski, a chronicler of skid rows and lost lives everywhere who was actually a USPO mail carrier too. And today, not to extend the ‘celebrity watch moment,’ is Robert de Niro’s 77th birthday. Their art and lives went beyond fame to actually mean something to the world. We’re getting to the home stretch. Let’s make it memorable. Banzai. WC