From Volume 37, Issue 31 of EIR Online, Published Aug. 13, 2010

United States News Digest

Michelle Obama's 'Excellent Adventure' as Marie Antoinette

Aug. 8 (EIRNS)—First Lady Michelle Obama's extravagant Spanish vacation is another indication that Barack Obama does not really want to be President, author Roger L. Simon wrote in the Canada Press Aug. 7. Simon cited Mrs. Obama's "$375,000 Spanish vacation—with the Daily Mail dubbing her a modern-day Marie Antoinette.... What man who wanted to be re-elected (or see his party do well in November) would let his wife go off on such an 'excellent adventure' in these economic times? The choice of such an extravagant vacation is beyond tone deaf, perhaps to the level of subconscious (or even deliberate) self-sabotage.

"At the very least, something most peculiar is going on. The First Lady goes off on a jaunt worthy of 18th Century aristocracy at the very moment of her husband's birthday. Is somebody trying to tell us something? Is somebody trying to tell her spouse something? Or vice-versa? Who knows? You won't find out in the mainstream media—that's for sure. They don't even bother to check Obama's college records. Perhaps the National Enquirer is on the case. They may be the only hope," Simon wrote.

The First Lady and daughter Sasha, lunched today at the royal Marvient Palace, the Summer residence of Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, on the island of Mallorca. Then, after intermittently smiling for the benefit of the common folk, Michelle continued her royal tour. According to the Spanish daily El Mundo, several members of the Saudi Royal family also spend their Summers in Mirabella, Spain, and there was to be a meeting between Michelle and Saudi Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Governor of Riyadh and brother of the late Saudi king Fahd. Another meeting, has been arranged for Michele with the billionaire Abdullah Al Thani, member of the Qatari Royal family, son of Qatar's Interior Minister, and owner of Bslaga CF.

Michigan Primaries Reflect Anti-Incumbent Mood

Aug. 6 (EIRNS)—The outcome of the Aug. 3 primary elections in Michigan highlights the white hot anti-incumbent mood in the U.S. electorate.

First there was the defeat of Democratic Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, the sixth incumbent member of Congress to be kicked out by the electorate this season. Kilpatrick, who is serving her seventh term, was defeated by a margin of 47-41%, by state legislator Hansen Clarke. While some are attributing her loss to the legal problems of her son, former mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick, she overcame those problems during the 2008 primaries. But not today.

Even more devastating was the defeat of Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon in the race for the Democratic Party nomination for governor. Virg Bernero, nicknamed the "angry mayor" of Lansing, defeated Dillon by a margin of 59%-41%, in a populist campaign, in which Bernero was strongly endorsed by labor. Tensions ran so high, that the Democrats felt compelled to call a "unity breakfast" today—which, it appears, Dillon declined to attend.

The Republican gubernatorial race saw the defeat of nine-term Congressman Pete Hoekstra, a Cheneyac Republican, by super-rich businessman Rick Snyder. In a crowded field, Snyder came in with 36% to Hoekstra's 27%.

Hoekstra was the fourth House member who, having abandoned their Congressional seats to run for higher office, went down to defeat in the primaries. Hoekstra attributed his loss in large part to the hatred of Congress. "People hate Congress," he said. "It was a hurdle that had to be overcome, or it was some baggage that you had to carry."

Veterans Group Calls for Impeachment of Obama

Aug. 3 (EIRNS)—The Central Florida Chapter of the Veterans for Peace (VFP) has voted up a Resolution calling for the "Impeachment of President Barack Obama for the commission of war crimes." The Resolution, written by member Tom Santoni, was passed by the Florida chapter on July 7, and is now being circulated among the chapters in advance of their up-coming national convention Aug. 25-29, in Portland, Maine. The Resolution is a revised and upgraded version of a 2005 indictment—then endorsed by the entire VFP—against George Bush (they now endorse his "arrest and prosecution"). Obama has now had the "ability and authority" to change policy, and is therefore complicit in continuing the crimes of Bush. As the cover letter stresses, the members feel that "it is their duty, as members of Veterans for Peace ... to restrain our government from intervening in the affairs of other nations ... and to abolish war as an instrument of national policy."

The entire package has been submitted for signatures from all veterans, on a separate website, VeteransToday, where it was posted by member Gordon Duff. Duff includes a VFP video, which begins with a photo of Nuremberg judges. Over the audio, which is a reciting of the "Whereas" charges, the video cuts back and forth to an image of Gen. Smedley Butler, and his 1935 book, War Is a Racket. The graphics state "Gen. Butler discovered that wars are invented to protect the profits of Bankers, Big Business and Wall Street."

ObamaCare Perfects Death Lobby Looting with Accountancy Games

Aug. 2 (EIRNS)—The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act makes sure nothing stands in the way of escalating its extraction of premiums and cutbacks in care. In its July report, the insurance lobby America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), revealed some of the ways it is perfecting the lethal art.

ObamaCare defines the minimum percent of benefits that the insurers must pay out ("medical loss ratio," or MLR) as including not only reimbursement for clinical services but also for "activities that improve health care quality." So, any of the insurers' administrative functions that they can pass off as improvements in "quality" will not apply to the 15% (large group) or 20% (individual or small group) caps on administrative spending, allowing the death lobby to perpetuate its pattern of administrative excesses and high profits.

As the Physicians for a National Health Program, a group which advocates an improved single-payer Medicare-for-All, notes, the AHIP tries to foist off as "quality": 1) intrusive care managers who are employed to save money; 2) implementation of diagnostic codes used for claims payments; 3) administrative functions to detect fraud; and 4) perpetuating medical underwriting during the transition to cover "special circumstances" to ensure that "consumers are not harmed and that competition is not decreased."

School Budget Cuts Hit Future Teachers

Aug. 2 (EIRNS)—A May report from the California Center for Teaching and Learning documents the effects of budget cuts on "pipeline" of new teachers. In California alone, "this year, 26,000 pink slips were issued—last year there were 26,500 pink slips issued by the March deadline. Given the magnitude of budget cuts and resulting teacher layoffs, it comes as no surprise that there has been a steep decline in the number of individuals preparing to become teachers. In 2001-02 there were well over 77,000 enrollees in preparation programs, but by 2006-07 that number had dropped by more than 25,000 candidates."

Obama's 'Race To the Top' Standardized Testing Scored

Aug. 2 (EIRNS)—Education historian Diane Ravitch has blasted Obama's "Race to the Top" education program for its reliance on standardized testing. Noting that, in addition to narrowing the curriculum even more than Bush's No Child Left Behind, Obama's program has an even greater reliance on standardized testing—the scores of which will be used to shutter schools or convert them to Obama's pet charter programs. Ravitch then exposes a "scandal" of inflated test scores in New York State, which broke in late July.

A Harvard Study, commissioned by New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner and conducted by Daniel Koretz, concluded that, between 2007 and 2009, the students in New York state did not get smarter, the tests just got easier. In 2007, as reported in the July 20 New York Daily News, a passing score on a state math exam put a student in roughly the bottom third of students, nationally; in 2009, the same score left a student in the bottom fifth of the nation. This pattern held for reading scores. Ravitch reports that, while in 2009, 86.4% of the state's students tested "proficient" in math, the 2010 number fell to just 61%. In reading, the 77.4% proficiency figure has dropped to 53.2%.

Results like these are not just a problem for Obama's "Racist at the Top" program. They are causing big problems for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who rode the rising scores to re-election last year. Ravitch cautions Obama that his program will end up "demoralizing teachers, closing schools that are struggling to improve, dismantling the teaching profession, destabilizing communities, and harming public education."

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