Category Archives: Politics

House Passes BailOut of Insurance Companies Bill

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 3962 (Affordable Health Care for America Act) known here as a bailout for private insurance companies, in what is lauded as a victory for Obama and health care in America.

I’ll be damned. The only worthwhile compromise is that the bill requires insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and does not include a 5-year bar for legal immigrants.

Here’s my problem with the bill:

  • Mandates that all Americans, including undocumented immigrants, buy health insurance from predatory for-profit insurance companies, given them an additional $70 billion in new annual revenue.
  • Starting 2013, penalizes us if we don’t want to give money to health insurance companies or obtain health care under a public option that might have higher premium rates since it might draw less healthier patients, depending on how strongly the government can battle with private insurers on reimbursement rates.
  • A watered-down public option plan after the loss of a ‘robust public option’ tied to Medicare rates.
  • Provides no coverage for transgender health care
  • Final bill stripped an amendment that would have allowed states to have their own single payer health care (and quite possibly killed private health insurance companies)
  • Prohibits federal funding for women’s reproductive health except in dire circumstances and blocks insurance companies from providing any abortion coverage.

Congratulations, America, the wingnuts would like you to believe that you are ‘socializing medicine’ when you are actually doing ‘defensive healthcare’ and stepping towards more privatized health care on the backs of taxpayers. With a weak public option plan, we will be back here within a decade to argue why the United States needs to catch up with the rest of the industrialised world in providing single payer health care, medicare for all.

Next up is the Senate and then a tough Conference convening to hammer out a compromise that will further weaken the bill.

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Filed under Gender, Neo-Liberalism, Politics

Identifying MacroStructual Trends in Asian Economies

This post recognizes the error in assuming that all Asian countries are undergoing similar socio-cultural-economic processes and placing diverse Asian countries on the same trajectory of development.

That said, when identifying and ranking important macro-structural trends in Asia, one must keep in mind the larger context of modernity within which these trends exist. The Asian nation-states are facing the structural, economic and socio-cultural trends so particular to modernity, namely globalization, contradictions of nationalism, and security problems that originate from the wrestling with conceptions of identity.

Asian nation-states are wrestling with neo-liberal globalization in this era of deterritorialized production and virtual capital, and trying to gain more economic security through inter-economic cooperation and alliances such as ASEAN and APEC. One example of inter-economic cooperation is the call for a Euro-style common currency. Yet, a trend particular to capitalist modernity is the creation of hierarchies of race, class and gender, and uneven development that tends to alienate and marginalize internal populations. Coupled with this is the fact that the core powers of the U.S., Western Europe and Russia have a vested interest in keeping Asia as semi-peripheral and prevent it from initiating a common currency, which would pose a definite threat to the current economic order of things. Therefore, they encourage foreign direct investment and neo-liberal development, and the U.S. specifically depends on China and Japan to finance its trade deficit. However, with Asian states slowly coming out of their financial crisis and looking for security in this era of increasing globalization, the trend is definitely towards more economic cooperation and integration.

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Filed under Desi, Nationalism, Politics

On/Off – Imperialism by Leon Kuhn

The best new media political work I have seen this week:

Courtesy: Leon Kuhn

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Filed under Politics

North Korea Is Not a Threat – Unveiling Hegemonic Discourses

That security is socially constructed does not mean that there are not to be found real, material conditions that help to create particular interpretations of threats, or that such conditions are irrelevant to either the creation or undermining of the assumptions underlying security policy. Enemies, in part, “create” each other, via the projections of their worst fears onto the other; in this respect, their relationship is intersubjective. To the extent that they act on these projections, threats to each other acquire a material character.
-Ronnie Lipschutz, UCSC

Kim Jong-Il wants attention. And now he has it. He won’t go in our ‘Morons of the Week’ column and certainly scores points for knowing how to misuse national resources to get international attention.

Our problem with MSM coverage of the North Korea ‘missile threat’ is with the purported hegemonic discourse. Hegemonic discourse does not pertain to just speech; it refers to whole narratives, with a hero and a villain, and us and them that we must defeat and overcome. The point of hegemonic discourse–in this case the discourse of the United States on demonizing North Korea and drawing attention to its nuclear activities—is to subjugate and oppress the counter-discourses of a race-war, nuclearism and anti-capitalism.

(1) Race war discourse

While this is not a clash of civilizations, it is certainly a race war in that the entire discourse revolves around preventing certain kinds of people from acquiring and using nuclear weapons.  Would the United States use the same tactics in France? Or even India? No, in fact it looked the other way on outrageous French nuclear testing in the Pacific and supports India’s nuclear program despite the fact that it is not a signatory of the NPT!

Ronnie Lipschutz has some fine lines for us in On Security:

To be sure, the United States and Russia do not launch missiles against each other because both know the result would be annihilation. But the same is true for France and Britain, or China and Israel. It was the existence of the Other that gave deterrence its power; it is the disappearance of the Other that has vanquished that power. Where Russia is now concerned, we are, paradoxically, not secure, because we see no need to be secured. In other words, as Ole Waever might put it, where there is no constructed threat, there is no security problem. France is fully capable of doing great damage to the United States, but that capability has no meaning in terms of U.S. security.

On the other hand, see the Iran nuclear ‘crisis’ as an example. The United States has demonized Ahmadinejad at every opportunity and conjured him up as an Islamic fundamentalist and nationalist who will defy non-proliferation at all costs. On the other hand, Ahmadinejad cheekily asked the United States to join the rest of civilization in worshipping God. That is the discourse of race war but it is concealed by juridical discourse—the hegemonic discourse.

To borrow from Michael Foucault, the United States is using the juridical schema of nuclear non-proliferation to conceal the war-repression schema. North Korea is the historical Other, the terrorist, the threat against whom the world must be protected in the juridical schema. Yet, under the war-repression schema, North Korea is a sovereign nation with the right to develop nuclear and communications technology. And this latest action is really nothing more than a plea for economic help.

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Filed under Discourse Studies, Political Theory, Politics

One year on … Ode for the broken wrist and the crisis of our healthcare system

It’s one whole year today since the fateful day that someone broke my wrist.

Maybe it is a good thing that I don’t even remember who it was and precisely how it happened. All I was doing is blocking a close range shot and ‘snap.’ The rest is history. A minute after I got off the field writhing in pain, the opposition scored. I should have just let the ball go in, but that is not who I am as a person.

Is it better yet? For the most part. I am a stronger and healthier person today. But I won’t lie and say that it doesn’t hurt or that I can do everything with it. This is life — people write with their toes because they don’t have arms; I should get over it. What I cannot get over is the fact that even with health insurance, there is not much that could have been done.

This is the United States of America–supposedly the most advanced country in the world. But if there is one thing that is as backwards as the immigration system, it is the horrible healthcare infrastructure. 46 million are uninsured with countless others underinsured and President Obama is gutless to the point of retreating from his promise of single-payer healthcare in the face of the insurance lobby. It does not matter that we foot the cost for the uninsured or that our system of healthcare and insurance is worse than most other post-industrial countries. Even Mexico has attempted to implement universal health care, but President Obama and his insurance cohorts would like us to believe that it is not an option.

At least there is one Democrat politician that I can actually relate to sometimes. As a blogger and academic that stands in opposition to unnecessary binaries, I say stop making us think that there are only two options and put single-payer healthcare on the table.

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B-I-T-C-H – A Personal Statement on International Women's Day

“You are an AAPI. But you are not a model minority. You talk back. And, you are queer.”

And I am also a womyn, which matters a whole lot.

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Lets set aside those dry, boring intellectual blog posts for a moment.

How do you get someone to ‘obey’ norms when she has never been considered a part of what is normative? Why would a person believe in institutionalized structures and settings when they hold her down? Why is it alright for a man to hog discussion but inappropriate for a woman to be strong in her convictions? There isn’t a space for these discussions in this so-called movement for ‘immigration reform,’ which looks increasingly like ‘pro-enforcement reform.’ This is my space, hence these statements.

I want to apologize to my readers for being literally absent for the past two months. In December, I unexpectedly got invited to a ‘United We DREAM’ conference (a coalition that has been trying to pass the DREAM Act for 100 years now), and decided to go since the National Immigration Law Center paid for the trip. Looking back on it, maybe that was not the best decision but at least I got to meet friends that I had not seen in person. At the meeting–quite unexpectedly–some members of the coalition railed to make my tiny circle of friends as one of the central communications pillars. I was left wondering why they would want an open-borders, cerebral Marxist-Foucauldian, radical queer womyn of color to have anything to do with building a ‘talking points’ sheet. The only explanation was that they were trying to quell dissent and get immigrant youth like me to conform to a certain way of doing things, a certain structure to abide to. Yes, I know – warning bells!

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Filed under Politics, Racism

Brand Obama – No You Can't

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President Obama’s popular appeal makes him a dream for marketing companies looking to siphon profits by using his image and rhetoric. So it should come as no surprise that the White House is looking into copyrighting “brand Obama.”

“Our lawyers are working on developing a policy that will protect the presidential image while being careful not to squelch the overwhelming enthusiasm that the public has for the president,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Obama’s calls for change and his “Yes We Can” campaign mantra are being evoked to sell assembly-required furniture in Ikea’s “Embrace Change” marketing campaign, bargain airfares during Southwest Airlines Inc.’s “Yes You Can” sale and “Yes Pecan” ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. shops.

[…]
Riding the wave of Obama’s popularity may become a concern when advertisers use his likeness without permission to imply that Obama is endorsing a product or cause. The White House through the years has objected to commercial use of presidential faces, such as footage of President George H W Bush in a Cold War-themed 1989 television ad for cold medication.

Is “si se puede” going to come under attack?

Given the massive sale revenues generated using brand Obama, how much is he worth? Can he sell himself and just pay off some of the trade deficit that may help hedge U.S. dollar and restore some credit credibility to this country?

It’s not clear who will lose from this precisely, but the winners list is quite apparent with White House litigators at the very top.

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Filed under Neo-Liberalism, Politics