Progressive Calendar 02.09.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2009 15:20:06 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    02.09.09

1. Peace walk       2.09 6pm RiverFalls WI
2. Full moon walk   2.09 7pm
3. Sprogs           2.09 7pm
4. Mpls budget/RT   2.09 7pm

5. Single-payer/Leg 2.10 12:15pm
6. Native thought   2.10 6pm
7. Reform/revolt?   2.10 6:30pm

8. Gordon/Young     - Why we oppose eliminating the Independent Park Board
9. David Sirota     - Obama's team of zombies
10. Matthew Hoffman - Naomi Klein: We've got to make Obama do it!
11. Naomi Klein     - Tide of anger
12. Vicente Navarro - Obama's US health man a sworn foe of single-payer
13. B/J?            - Ben & Jerry's new creation
14. ed              - Tea-tepid  (poem)

--------1 of 14--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 2.09 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022

--------2 of 14--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Full moon walk 2.09 7pm

Full Moon Walk at Coldwater Park: Explore the Future National Parkland

Monday, February 9, 7:00 p.m. Coldwater Spring, 1.5 miles South of
Minnehaha Falls, (from Highway 55, turn east at 54th Street, take an
immediate right, continue south on the frontage road to Coldwater Spring),
Minneapolis. Walk this sacred land to envision what Coldwater will look
like without fences, buildings or roads. Meetings to plan the park are
said to begin in February.

Traditional group howl Sponsored by: Friends of Coldwater. Endorsed by:
WAMM. FFI: Visit

--------3 of 14--------

From: PHYLLIS STENERSON <phyllis [at]>
Subject: Sprogs 2.09 7pm

Network of Spiritual Progressives-Minnesota

Congressman Keith Ellison and Minnesota State legislators will attend the
meeting of the Network of Spiritual Progressives-Minnesota (NSP-MN) on
Monday, February 9 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The meeting is at Plymouth
Church, Franklin and Nicollet, Minneapolis.

They will discuss Spiritual Politics as expressed by NSP-MN's new poster
that boldly states the principles of Spiritual Politics - Leading from
the heart, Recognizing our oneness, Governing with generosity.

The meeting is in the Jackman Room (downstairs) of Plymouth Church. Enter
through the southwest door off the parking lot.

Congressman Ellison (MN-5th District) and legislators will participate in
a panel discussion about the Principles of Spiritual Politics focusing on
these questions: 1) What do these principles mean to you? 2) How would
general acceptance of these principles change the way you do your work?
3) Can these principles guide you in communicating about the issues you
care about?

Guests will participate in a discussion following the panel to start the
process of taking this dialogue into the legislative agenda and the
broader community.

[Ellison is just another Dem, not a progressive; so some in the audience
will have to provide the progressive part. -ed]

From: Jordan S. Kushner <kushn002 [at]>

It is interesting that the town meeting is not on Keith Ellison's website,
and does not appear to be otherwise publicized in media likely to be seen by
the general public.  It seems his "town hall" meetings are directed towards
those places in town that he knows will be supportive.  It would be good if
people can go and ask challenging questions, despite the short notice.

--------4 of 14--------

From: Jana Metge <clpc [at]>
Subject: Mpls budget/RT 2.09 7pm

[From RT:]

As I'm sure you know, Minneapolis is facing significant financial
challenges, along with many other Minnesota communities. Governor Tim
Pawlenty's action that cut $13.1 million from Local Government Aid (LGA)
to Minneapolis has left City officials no choice but to revamp our 2009
budget, and prepare for even more significant cuts from the State.

As I prepare to redesign the City's 2009 budget, I'm asking residents,
businesses, and City employees to share their priorities and ideas for
making significant cuts. The last time the state cut Minneapolis local aid
in 2003, the City made major structural reforms that put us on much
stronger financial footing to deal with the current situation. However,
the magnitude of the needed cuts means changes or reductions to some City
services are unavoidable. Minneapolis already receives $36 million less in
LGA than it did five years ago.

In February, I will host two community meetings where people can give
their input into their priorities for the upcoming budget revisions and to
share their ideas for saving money and cutting services. Please use the
tools you have to help spread the word about these meetings.

2009 budget cuts community meetings

Monday, Feb. 9
7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Martin Luther King Park Recreation Center
4055 Nicollet Ave. S.

Tuesday, Feb. 10
7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Eastside Neighborhood Services
1700 Second St. N.E.

The good news is that we've done a lot of work in recent years paying off
debt, restructuring City government's finances, and learning how to
deliver City services more efficiently. That has put us in a better
position to weather these difficult times. But these cuts will be
significant, and we know that City services to our residents and
businesses will be affected. Continued cuts by the State mean we're going
to have to put everything on the table and make some hard choices. This
process needs to move quickly, and I hope our residents will get engaged
and share their input on their priorities moving forward.

The $13 million cut represents a significant financial impact to the
City's budget. To put that amount into context, it represents the
equivalent of paying for 130 police officers or 150 firefighters. Looked
at another way, it represents a cut that is about twice as much as it cost
the City to respond to the I-35W Bridge collapse.

The City is adding resources to its Web site to help folks understand more
about how the City's budget works. There's also an online survey folks can
take to share their priorities for City services and their ideas for
cutting costs. You can find all this at
<> .
The survey is also available by calling 311. I will propose a new 2009
budget to the City Council in mid- to late February. The City Council will
consider the new budget following a typical budget deliberation process
and is expected to vote to approve a new budget in early March.

Thank you for your help in engaging our communities as we make these
difficult choices.
Mayor R.T. Rybak

[And RT is just another Dem, not a progressive. He may or may not listen,
so address your comments to the audience, and look to united action with
them. -ed]

--------5 of 14--------

From: Rhoda Gilman <rhodagilman [at]>
Subject: Single-payer/Leg 2.10 12:15pm

Just a reminder that on next Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 12:30 there will be a
crucial hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee of Senator Marty's
Minnesota Health Plan bill.  ROOM 112, main floor of the Capitol.

Supporters will be gathering around the 800 lb. insurance industry Gorilla
outside the door of the hearing room at 12:15.  Green Party: Wear your
Green Party button and join us there!

--------6 of 14--------

From: PRO826 [at]
Subject: Native thought 2.10 6pm

FREE CLASSES [all semester]
Instructor:  Ray Tricomo
In the lobby of the Student Center at Hamline University, 1551 Hewitt in
St. Paul

Wednesday evenings, 6-8pm
INDIGENOUS IMPERATIVE:  The Role of Native Thought in Reshaping World
Topics will include:  Discussion of North American and South American
Indigenous cultures, The Great Law of Peace, the upcoming independence of
Greenland from Denmark, etc.

Thursday evenings, 6-8pm
THE GODFATHER:  Microcosm of an American Tragedy
Analysis of "The Godfather" movie, ecology, Sicilian immigration and the
American predatory ideology

FFI contact:  Ray Tricomo at 651-714-0288 or rtricomo [at]

--------7 of 14--------

From: Socialist Appeal <new [at]>
To: David E Shove <shove001 [at]>
Subject: Reformism/revolution? 2.10 6:30pm

Reformism or Revolution?

Tuesday, February 10th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Mad Hatter Tea House
943 West 7th Street
St Paul, MN 55102
For more information, please contact jp [at] or call

A discussion with John Peterson, National Secretary of Hands Off Venezuela
and editor of Socialist Appeal, speaking on the new book Reformism or
Revolution by Alan Woods, the renowned British Marxist. Using the
Venezuelan Revolution, the upcoming (February 15th) referendum on the
Venezuelan Constitution, and the U.S. economic crisis as a backdrop, he
will discuss the relevance of the ideas of Marxism to today's world. The
book, published by Wellred USA is normally $25. We will be selling it for
just $20 at this event. Bring your questions, ideas, experiences, or
criticisms and engage in an important discussion on which way forward for
workers and young people in the U.S. and around the world.

The declarations of Hugo Chavez in favor of socialism have sparked an
important debate in Venezuela and internationally. However, some have
concluded that the "old" ideas of Marxism are no longer valid and that it
is necessary to invent a completely new and original theory of "Socialism
of the 21st Century." This book is a reply to that view - expressed by
Heinz Dieterich among others - and a defense of the fundamental ideas of
Marxism and scientific socialism against these revisionist arguments.
Reformism or Revolution explains that it is impossible to reform
capitalism, that it is necessary to build the revolutionary party,
mobilize the working class, dismantle the bourgeois state apparatus and
nationalize the key levers of the economy.

--------8 of 14--------

Why We Oppose the Plan to Eliminate the Independent Park Board
By Cam Gordon and Annie Young
TC Daily Planet
February 08, 2009

We were surprised last week to learn that Council Members Ostrow, Samuels
and Remington are proposing to eliminate the 126-year-old Minneapolis Park
and Recreation Board. We fear that this proposal risks seriously
diminishing the nationally-renowned Minneapolis park system.  Our concerns
are rooted in the Key Values of the Green Party, including Ecological
Wisdom, Grassroots Democracy, Decentralization, Social and Economic
Justice and Future Focus.

Ecologically, the Minneapolis park system is a jewel. From green space to
water quality, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has protected the
natural environment in this city. Our parks, lakes, river and urban forest
serves the natural, leisure and recreation needs of adults, children and
families alike. This is the legacy of an independent Park Board, and there
is no certainty that the City Council will manage the park system with
such diligence and success.

<> view counter

City council members Paul Ostrow, Don Samuels and Ralph Remington have
stirred up a hornet's nest with proposals to fundamentally transform city
government. Their three proposals:

1) replace the elected Park Board, which has actual decision-making
authority, with an advisory board. 2) Eliminate the elected Board of
Estimate and Taxation 3) Create a city manager and change the supervision
and reporting structure of city government so that departments all report
to the new city manager rather than to city council committees.

We published some of the initial reactions to the proposal
and invited responses.

The Minneapolis E-Democracy Forum
hosts a lively discussion on the proposals.

Residents are right to be concerned about an apparent 'power grab' on the
part of City Hall. We believe that grassroots democracy can only be
effective when the public has direct access to decision makers. Multiple
points of contact offer residents more opportunities to make their
opinions known and have their voices heard. Now, just over a year after
the elimination of the independent Library Board, is not the time for the
City to talk about consolidating still more power in the hands of fewer
people. We agree that decentralization of power is important in order to
have checks and balances, increase residents' access to decision makers,
foster innovation, and preserve services.

We are also worried about the potential impacts this proposal could have
on poor communities and working families. One of the reasons being given
for eliminating the Park Board is to 'create efficiencies.' In this era in
which schools have been closed in low-income neighborhoods, the City has
instituted a hiring freeze and all levels of government may be poised to
lay off staff, we are wary of allowing 'efficiency' to mean loss of
services to the least well-off and the loss of good paying union jobs.

We must maintain our focus on the future. Over our years of service on the
Park Board and Council, we have both consistently fought against selling
off park assets for development. We fear that the City Council may, in the
name of 'streamlining' the system and reducing costs, sell off some of our
incredibly valuable parkland. This will become much more likely if parks
must compete with other City priorities, like police and firefighters.

There are significant governance issues that must be resolved between the
Park Board and the City. However, there are other, as yet unexplored
options to preserve parkland, manage public dollars responsibly, and
clarify accountability. One option is to rethink the old 1994 agreement
between the City and the Park Board which in effect makes this supposedly
independent board dependent on the City for its funding.

There are concerns about the future of our parks and the relationship
between the Park Board and City Council, and it is time for the Council,
Park Board and people throughout the city to have a serious, open and
inclusive conversation about how to address those concerns and figure out
all of the options. It is not time to put the question of the Park Board's
elimination before the voters in November.

/Cam Gordon is the Minneapolis City Council Member for the Second Ward and
Annie Young is an At-Large Park and Recreation Board Commissioner /

--------9 of 14--------

Obama's team of zombies
By David Sirota
Feb. 07, 2009

Even under the new president, Washington is the same one-party town it
always has been - controlled not by Democrats or Republicans, but by

Only weeks ago, the political world was buzzing about a "team of rivals."
America was told that finally, after years of yes men running the
government, we were getting a president who would follow Abraham Lincoln's
lead, fill his administration with varying viewpoints, and glean
empirically sound policy from the clash of ideas. Little did we know that
"team of rivals" was what George Orwell calls "newspeak": an empty slogan
"claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts."

Obama's national security team, for instance, includes not a single Iraq
war opponent. The president has not only retained George W. Bush's defense
secretary, Robert Gates, but also 150 other Bush Pentagon appointees. The
only "rivalry" is between those who back increasing the already bloated
defense budget by an absurd amount and those who aim to boost it by a
ludicrous amount.

Of course, that lockstep uniformity pales in comparison to the White
House's economic team - a squad of corporate lackeys disguised as public

At the top is Lawrence Summers, the director of Obama's National
Economic Council. As Bill Clinton's treasury secretary in the late
1990s, Summers worked with his deputy, Tim Geithner (now Obama's
treasury secretary), and Clinton aide Rahm Emanuel (now Obama's chief of
staff) to champion job-killing trade deals and deregulation that Obama
Commerce Secretary Judd Gregg helped shepherd through Congress as a
Republican senator. Now, this pinstriped band of brothers is proposing a
"cash for trash" scheme that would force the public to guarantee the
financial industry's bad loans. It's another ploy "to hand taxpayer
dollars to the banks through a variety of complex mechanisms," says
economist Dean Baker - and noticeably absent is anything even
resembling a "rival" voice inside the White House.

That's not an oversight. From former federal officials like Robert Reich
and Brooksley Born, to Nobel Prize-winning economists like Joseph
Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, to business leaders like Leo Hindery, there's
no shortage of qualified experts who have challenged market
fundamentalism. But they have been barred from an administration focused
on ideological purity.

In Hindery's case, the blacklisting was explicit. Despite this venture
capitalist establishing a well-respected think tank and serving as a top
economic advisor to Obama's campaign, the Politico reports that "Obama's
aides appear never to have taken his bid (for an administration post)
seriously." Why? Because he "set himself up in opposition" to Wall
Street's agenda.

The anecdote highlights how, regardless of election hoopla, Washington
is the same one-party town it always has been - controlled not by
Democrats or Republicans, but by Kleptocrats (i.e., thieves). Their ties
to money make them the undead zombies in the slash-and-burn horror flick
that is American politics: No matter how many times their discredited
theologies are stabbed, torched and shot down by verifiable failure,
their careers cannot be killed. Somehow, these political immortals are
allowed to mindlessly lunge forward, never answering to rivals - even
if that rival is the president himself.

Remember, while Obama said he wants to slash "billions of dollars in
wasteful spending" at the Pentagon, his national security team is
demanding a $40 billion increase in defense spending (evidently, the
"ludicrous" faction got its way). Obama also said he wants to crack down
on the financial industry, strengthen laws encouraging the government to
purchase American goods, and transform trade policy. Yet, his economic
team is not just promising to support more bank bailouts, but also to
weaken "Buy America" statutes and make sure new legislation "doesn't
signal a change in our overall stance on trade," according to the
president's spokesman.

Indeed, if an authentic "rivalry" was going to erupt, it would have been
between Obama's promises and his team of zombies. Unfortunately, the
latter seems to have won before the competition even started.

--------10 of 14--------

Naomi Klein: We've Got to Make Obama Do It!
by Matthew Hoffman
Published on Friday, February 6, 2009 by The Urban Coaster (Chicago, IL)

In her best-selling book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster
Capitalism, Naomi Klein outlines the disturbing trend of governments using
crisis as a means for corporate profit-advancement. She cites Hurricane
Katrina, 9/11, and Pinochet's Chile as examples of the practice.

At her January 29 speaking engagement at Loyola University, the
award-winning author made the case that America's current economic crisis
is just another "big bang moment" in this evolution.

Klein cautioned listeners at the packed 750-seat Mundelein Auditorium
against cheerily consenting to the wave of Obama-fueled optimism.
Throughout his campaign, Obama rejected the "worn out dogmas" and
suggested it was time for an ideological sea change. Klein isn't ready,
however, to embrace the recent market interventions as a shift in American
policy, and instead implored her audience to work for a deepening, rather
than deadening, of democracy in these tense economic times.

The concept of an American version of The Shock Doctrine is predicated
upon two basic principles: panic forces the electorate to search out
paternalistic political policy; and the resulting distraction stifles
public debate.

These conditions nudge the collective American eye off the ball, allowing
politicians to "override the will of the electorate." Disillusionment
creates what Klein called a "temporary democracy free zone." She argued
that the recent economic panic is an explicit example of The Shock
Doctrine and she termed the $700 billion bailout the "greatest heist in
modern history."

With a total of more than $7 trillion in estimated corporate handouts so
far, the world is witnessing the largest transfer of wealth in history.
Congress has opened the federal wallet to the financial and automotive
sectors, justifying unregulated corporate welfare with warnings of
economic collapse, frozen credit markets, and rampant unemployment. This
"no-strings-attached" federal policy, orchestrated by former Secretary of
Treasury Henry Paulson, offers a disturbing illustration of domestic shock
doctrine in action.

Klein said that the recent actions of Paulson and company fly in the face
of democracy. She revealed that Paulson began working on the bailout in
secret six months prior to its sudden announcement just before the
election. She added that a federal willingness to hand out taxpayer funds
to banks with no prerequisite lending requirements has not only failed to
unfreeze the credit markets, it has put massive pressures on public

In her speech, Klein quoted bank CEOs who referred to the bailout as a
"cushion" and an "insurance policy," clearly defining their intent for use
of the funds. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's successful enforcement
of lending increases in the U.K. version of the bailout clearly shows that
it is possible to use built-in regulation to thaw credit markets.

While federal bureaucrats exhibit an obvious aversion for corporate
micromanagement, they have eagerly restricted the rights of workers.
During negotiations for the auto industry bailout, Congress forced the
United Auto Workers to roll back its members' pay to non-union levels
prior to releasing funds. Klein remarked that it was odd that they "got
this one in writing" after failing to do so with the lending increases
from banks.

After issuing caution, Klein offered the Loyola audience cause for
optimism and a few possible solutions to the current shock doctrine
policies. The author's democracy-reclamation project begins with campaign
finance reform. She framed the current economic atmosphere as a dichotomy
of people power versus the corporate lobby, with the business set holding
a stated advantage until election financing is made more equitable.

Klein's next step is the nationalization of America's banks. Her argument
is simple: These private entities have already proved themselves failures
within the market. If the banks are not viable, don't throw money at them
- nationalize. After bailouts, Klein pointed out, both Citigroup and Bank
of America actually received more in federal gifts than their total market

The U.S. financial industry has been effectively nationalized by the
bailout, but Klein said the banks are "encouraged to pretend they're still
private" because, otherwise, shareholders would lose their stakes. She
posed the rhetorical question, if private banks knew how to effectively
conduct business would this economic crisis exist in the first place? She
also pointed out that U.S. taxpayers failed to receive even one seat on
the Boards of Directors of any of the banks that have been aided by
bailout funds.

Klein advocates green investment in industrial infrastructure as the
follow-up to the nationalization of banks. As factories go under in
today's economic maelstrom, she argued that government-directed "green
audits" should take place to discern the cost of environmental
retrofitting the failing shops.

If entrepreneurs are unwilling to take on these costs, Klein suggests that
the federal government divert wasteful corporate subsidies and make a
national investment in environmentally friendly production. She identifies
this as the kind of bold action that would bolster employment and have
positive ecological impacts. She posited a local case, the recently
shuttered Republic Windows and Doors, as an exemplary instance of need for
this "green-audit" policy.

Lastly, Klein encouraged the proliferation of democracy in the workplace.
She argued that democratically run workers' cooperatives offer an
egalitarian alternative to today's corporate hierarchy. As examples, she
cited the success of the Argentinean co-ops portrayed in The Take, a film
she made with her husband Avi Lewis.

She also came out strongly in favor of other policies to extend the social
safety net so thoroughly picked apart since the Reagan administration. She
insisted that it is time for a health care system "that covers every
person in the country, and the model that works is single payer health
care." Her view matched the sentiments of the local Transition Team Health
Forums reported on in the last edition of The Urban Coaster, and her
comments were loudly cheered throughout the auditorium.

Klein closed an excellent speech with a deeply relevant anecdote harking
back to the New Deal era. President Franklin Roosevelt was well known for
maintaining a dialogue with the electorate. At town-hall style meetings,
Roosevelt would hear his political base's calls for change and challenge
them to "go out and make me do it" - effectively admonishing the public to
force his hand on policy.

Klein positioned President Obama as an executive caught in a tug-o-war
between corporate and democratic interests, and one who needs to be pushed
as FDR was. She stated that, "one scandal at a time, government has failed
to extract any kind of meaningful reform." She's hopeful that the American
public can remove government from its current position as a "corporate

Klein is optimistic that due to its repeated use around the world, the
affected are becoming resistant to the arguments for shock doctrine
policy. She said that, "if we want a healthier, more just, and more
peaceful world we must go out there and make them do it." And she urged
readers, listeners, and interested voters around the world to go about
that by demanding "war-levels of funding to fight Global Warming,
exploitative health care, inequality, and poverty."
 The Urban Coaster, Inc.

--------11 of 14--------

Tide of Anger
by Naomi Klein
Friday, February 6, 2009
The Nation

Watching the crowds in Iceland banging pots and pans until their
government fell reminded me of a chant popular in anti-capitalist circles
in 2002: "You are Enron. We are Argentina."

Its message was simple enough. You - politicians and CEOs huddled at some
trade summit - are like the reckless scamming execs at Enron (of course,
we didn't know the half of it). We - the rabble outside - are like the
people of Argentina, who, in the midst of an economic crisis eerily
similar to our own, took to the street banging pots and pans. They
shouted, "Que se vayan todos!" ("All of them must go!") and forced out a
procession of four presidents in less than three weeks. What made
Argentina's 2001-02 uprising unique was that it wasn't directed at a
particular political party or even at corruption in the abstract. The
target was the dominant economic model - this was the first national
revolt against contemporary deregulated capitalism.

It's taken a while, but from Iceland to Latvia, South Korea to Greece, the
rest of the world is finally having its Que se vayan todos! moment.

The stoic Icelandic matriarchs beating their pots flat even as their kids
ransack the fridge for projectiles (eggs, sure, but yogurt?) echo the
tactics made famous in Buenos Aires. So does the collective rage at elites
who trashed a once thriving country and thought they could get away with
it. As Gudrun Jonsdottir, a 36-year-old Icelandic office worker, put it:
"I've just had enough of this whole thing. I don't trust the government, I
don't trust the banks, I don't trust the political parties and I don't
trust the IMF. We had a good country, and they ruined it."

Another echo: in Reykjavik, the protesters clearly won't be bought off by
a mere change of face at the top (even if the new PM is a lesbian). They
want aid for people, not just banks; criminal investigations into the
debacle; and deep electoral reform.

Similar demands can be heard these days in Latvia, whose economy has
contracted more sharply than any country in the EU, and where the
government is teetering on the brink. For weeks the capital has been
rocked by protests, including a full-blown, cobblestone-hurling riot on
January 13. As in Iceland, Latvians are appalled by their leaders' refusal
to take any responsibility for the mess. Asked by Bloomberg TV what caused
the crisis, Latvia's finance minister shrugged: "Nothing special."

But Latvia's troubles are indeed special: the very policies that allowed
the "Baltic Tiger" to grow at a rate of 12 percent in 2006 are also
causing it to contract violently by a projected 10 percent this year:
money, freed of all barriers, flows out as quickly as it flows in, with
plenty being diverted to political pockets. (It is no coincidence that
many of today's basket cases are yesterday's "miracles": Ireland, Estonia,
Iceland, Latvia.)

Something else Argentina-esque is in the air. In 2001 Argentina's leaders
responded to the crisis with a brutal International Monetary
Fund-prescribed austerity package: $9 billion in spending cuts, much of it
hitting health and education. This proved to be a fatal mistake. Unions
staged a general strike, teachers moved their classes to the streets and
the protests never stopped.

This same bottom-up refusal to bear the brunt of the crisis unites many of
today's protests. In Latvia, much of the popular rage has focused on
government austerity measures - mass layoffs, reduced social services and
slashed public sector salaries - all to qualify for an IMF emergency loan
(no, nothing has changed). In Greece, December's riots followed a police
shooting of a 15-year-old. But what's kept them going, with farmers taking
the lead from students, is widespread rage at the government's crisis
response: banks got a $36 billion bailout while workers got their pensions
cut and farmers received next to nothing. Despite the inconvenience caused
by tractors blocking roads, 78 percent of Greeks say the farmers' demands
are reasonable. Similarly, in France the recent general strike - triggered
in part by President Sarkozy's plans to reduce the number of teachers
dramatically - inspired the support of 70 percent of the population.

Perhaps the sturdiest thread connecting this global backlash is a
rejection of the logic of "extraordinary politics" - the phrase coined by
Polish politician Leszek Balcerowicz to describe how, in a crisis,
politicians can ignore legislative rules and rush through unpopular
"reforms." That trick is getting tired, as South Korea's government
recently discovered. In December, the ruling party tried to use the crisis
to ram through a highly controversial free trade agreement with the United
States. Taking closed-door politics to new extremes, legislators locked
themselves in the chamber so they could vote in private, barricading the
door with desks, chairs and couches.

Opposition politicians were having none of it: with sledgehammers and an
electric saw, they broke in and staged a twelve-day sit-in of Parliament.
The vote was delayed, allowing for more debate - a victory for a new kind
of "extraordinary politics."

Here in Canada, politics is markedly less YouTube-friendly - but it has
still been surprisingly eventful. In October the Conservative Party won
national elections on an unambitious platform. Six weeks later, our Tory
prime minister found his inner ideologue, presenting a budget bill that
stripped public sector workers of the right to strike, canceled public
funding for political parties and contained no economic stimulus.
Opposition parties responded by forming a historic coalition that was only
prevented from taking power by an abrupt suspension of Parliament. The
Tories have just come back with a revised budget: the pet right-wing
policies have disappeared, and it is packed with economic stimulus.

The pattern is clear: governments that respond to a crisis created by
free-market ideology with an acceleration of that same discredited agenda
will not survive to tell the tale. As Italy's students have taken to
shouting in the streets: "We won't pay for your crisis!"

 2009 The Nation
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist and
the author of the international and New York Times bestseller The Shock
Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, now out in paperback. Her
earlier books include the international best-seller, No Logo: Taking Aim
at the Brand Bullies; and the collection Fences and Windows: Dispatches
from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (2002). To read all her
latest writing visit

--------12 of 14--------

A Sworn Foe of Single-Payer
Why Sanjay Gupta is the Wrong Man for the Top US Health Job
February 9, 2009

President Obama has put forward the name of Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the
well-known chief medical correspondent for CNN, for the position of
surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service - the chief public
health officer of the federal government. Dr. Gupta has received wide
acclaim as the most important voice on medical matters in the U.S.
broadcasting industry. And CNN has played an important role in developing
and promulgating the U.S. establishment's conventional wisdom on what is
happening in the country's medical care. Dr. Gupta has been a major force
in the promotion of that wisdom.

It is important that before discussing the appropriateness of President
Obama's choice for surgeon general, I make a few points about the role of
the mainstream media, including CNN, in the country's affairs, in
particular, in its major international and domestic conflicts - that is,
conflicts not only in, for example, Iraq and Vietnam, but also at home.

As we know, in the buildup to and conduct of the Iraq war, the mainstream
media played a crucial role - supporting the invasion and occupation, and
uncritically reproducing the Bush administration's justification for this
intervention.  The mainstream media considered it their primary role to
promote the conventional wisdom on this war, and not to challenge or
question it. Not until 4,226 Americans and 654,965 Iraqis had been killed
did CNN and the other mainstream media start questioning President Bush's
and the establishment's justifications for the Iraq War. And it is
important to remember that, before reaching this point, CNN and the other
mainstream media had consistently ignored, marginalized, or ridiculed
those voices that were explaining how the justifications for war had no

This series of events was nothing new. The same thing had happened with
the Vietnam War. This reality on the role of the mainstream media is well
known both in the U.S. and abroad. A primary function of the U.S.
broadcasting industry is to reproduce the establishment's position on
whatever conflict the country is involved in at the time. But not so well
known is the mainstream media's (including CNN.s) role in the wars at

        The silent domestic war: invisible casualties

There are types of war other than invasions and occupations abroad
occurring right here, in the U.S.A., with deaths, casualties, and enormous
suffering - wars taking place without producing a sound. One of them takes
place on a daily basis. It is the war carried out by forces in the U.S.
that, in defense of their interests, fight to prevent the establishment of
one of the basic human rights: access to medical care in time of need - a
right, found in all other developed countries but still denied to the
citizenry of the U.S. sixty years after President Truman tried to
establish it.

As a consequence of this, many thousands of people die in the U.S. each
year - from 18,000 to more than 100,000, depending on how one defines
preventable death - due to lack of medical care. Even if we take the lower
figure of 18,000 (given by the conservative Institute of Medicine), this
is six times the number of people killed in the World Trade Center on
9/11. That event outraged the entire nation (as, indeed, it should), but
the death toll due to lack of medical care seems to go unnoticed. These
deaths are not reported on the front pages (or any other pages) of the
mainstream newspapers. These deaths are so much a part of everyday reality
for millions of ordinary people in the U.S. that they are not even news.

Nor are the facts that 102 million people have insufficient health care
coverage, that 44 per cent of terminally ill patients worry about how they
or their families are going to pay their medical bills, that the inability
to pay medical bills is a primary cause of family bankruptcy in the U.S.,
and that more than 50 per cent of spending on health care by elderly
Americans is still not covered by Medicare - the federal program that was
supposed to alleviate the health-care-related worries, concerns and
anxieties of our elders. None of these facts are news. Again, they are so
much a part of everyday life that they are not considered newsworthy.

And there are many other, closely related facts that rarely appear in the
news media. One such fact is that the insurance and pharmaceutical
industries, among the most profitable industries in the U.S., are largely
responsible for the scandalous situation of the medical care non-system.
Besides the "military-industrial complex," responsible for the Iraq and
Vietnam wars, there is an "insurance-pharmaceutical industrial complex,"
responsible for the war at home - an industrial complex that is frequently
behind the news programs that so rarely report on this war.

The insurance and pharmaceutical industries are extremely profitable. In
2007, insurance company profits were $12 billion and pharmaceutical
industry profits $40 billion, among the highest industry profits in the
U.S. and in the world.  And this insurance-pharmaceutical complex holds
enormous economic, political and media power in our country. For example,
the economic power of the pharmaceutical industry is used to create
artificially high prices for its products. Just one example: Lanzoprasol,
a widely used gastric-secretion-reducing medicine, costs $329 in
Baltimore, Maryland, but (for the same product, same dose) $9 in
Barcelona, Spain (yes, you read correctly: $9). How can this situation be
tolerated? Because, in the U.S., economic power means political power, and
political power is facilitated by privatization of the electoral process.
These industries buy and influence the political process by donating money
to leading politicians whose decisions affect their interests. According
to the Center for Responsive Politics, the insurance industry contributed
$2,185,727 and the drug industry $1,927,159 to the Obama campaign.

The economic and political power of these industries could not be
sustained or reproduced, however, without their media power, through their
funding of medical and health news and programs in the broadcasting
industry (including CNN) that promote their views.

wAll of this leads me to the Obama administrations' choice to head the
U.S.  Public Health Service (USPHS). First, let me clarify what the USPHS
is.  This body (with 6,000 health professionals) is the federal agency in
charge of the U.S. government institutions and programs responsible for
taking care of the population's public health needs. It is also
responsible for the federal research institutes, such as the National
Institutes of Health. In addition, the Obama administration has decided
that the head of the USPHS will play a leading role on the task force in
charge of reforming the nation's health care.

The person chosen by President Obama to fill this position is Dr. Sanjay
Gupta, a neurosurgeon at Emory Medical School in Atlanta and chief health
correspondent for CNN. Dr. Gupta hosts a health program on CNN, sponsored
by the medical and pharmaceutical industries, that popularizes today's
medical "miracles" and medical interventions. The program tends to focus
on new technologies in clinical medicine and on preventing disease through
changes in individual behavior. You are unlikely to see on this program
any reports on the human tragedies caused by the nation's insurance-based
health care non-system, or on the economic abuses of the pharmaceutical
industry. The program is presented very smoothly and attractively by Dr.
Gupta - described by People as one of the sexiest men in the U.S.A. Gupta
also hosts other medical-industry-sponsored TV programs and writes a
column in Time. He also co-hosts Turner Private Network's monthly show
Accent Health, which airs in doctors' offices around the country and is a
major conduit for targeted ads from the pharmaceutical industry. And,
according to Physicians for a National Health Program, in 2003 he
downplayed the concerns of the medical community about Vioxx, which was
removed from the market a year later by its manufacturer, Merck. Gupta
lent support to John McCain's position that in the U.S., buying private
health insurance in the open market is a viable option for most Americans,
which is profoundly inaccurate. For the vast majority of people who are
without health benefits coverage, it is because they or their employers
cannot afford to pay the premiums and costs involved.

On his CNN program, Gupta tried to discredit Michael Moore's documentary
film Sicko, which is critical of the insurance-based U.S. health care
system, by accusing Moore of presenting incorrect facts and manipulating
data - strong accusations aimed at challenging Moore's credibility. The
problem with Gupta's critique was that, as Paul Krugman noted, it was not
Michael Moore but Sanjay Gupta who had his facts wrong and clearly
manipulated the data and their presentation. Gupta gave erroneous figures
on per capita expenditures and on health indicators in the U.S. and other
countries (including Cuba), and he did not correctly identify one of the
individuals on his program who was critical of Moore's documentary: Gupta
presented him as an academic, but, in fact, he was a Republican consultant
to the insurance industry.

Gupta showed a remarkable ignorance about the health care systems in
several European countries. He tried to dismiss France's universal health
care program (defined by WHO as the best in the world) as nonviable
economically. He reproduced the widely held erroneous belief that the
universal and extensive welfare states in European countries are making
their economies very uncompetitive. He stressed that the cost of universal
health care in France is creating a public deficit that is a huge handicap
to that country's economic development. In fact, in percentage terms, the
U.S. government deficit is larger than the French government deficit and,
according to Davos (the Vatican of neoliberal thought), the French economy
is as competitive as the U.S. economy, with higher productivity than the
U.S. Moreover, the public medical care expenditures per capita are larger
in the U.S. than in France. While France provides comprehensive benefits
to its population, the U.S. does not. With a smaller amount of public
funds, France and the majority of developed countries provide
comprehensive coverage that will be a dream for the majority of our

I find it highly worrisome that Dr. Sanjay Gupta is likely to be appointed
head of the USPHS. He is not an expert on public health and is not
sufficiently knowledgeable, or competent, to do the job. Training and
experience in neurosurgery do not provide the public health knowledge that
the position requires. But, what is far more alarming is that he will most
likely be the media spokesperson for the task force on health care reform.
And this means that a person hostile to a single-payer system (the type of
system that has most support among people in the U.S.); a person clearly
unsympathetic to the principle of the government's guaranteeing
universality of health care coverage; a person who is part of the media
that have been obfuscating, negating, and avoiding the real problems in
health and medical care in this country, will be in control of selling the
message of change in U.S. medical care. Is this the change we were
promised by candidate Obama?

For the good of the country, I hope President Obama will be a leading
force for change in our medical care non-system. The way of funding and
organizing medical care in the U.S. is simply wrong. It is not only that
46 million people do not have any form of insurance, but that the majority
of health benefits coverage offered by the insurance industry is, besides
expensive, insufficient. As it now stands, the system cannot be shifted
toward guaranteeing the basic human right of access to health care in time
of need without confronting the insurance-pharmaceutical complex. And the
extent of commitment to this human right can be measured by the degree to
which President Obama is willing to confront this industrial complex.

A final note. I paid special attention to President Obama's call for a
sense of patriotism in his eloquent inaugural address. Love of country is
something we can measure. And one measure is the degree to which
government guarantees that ordinary people have the right to access to
health care. Without that right, the U.S. will not be seen as a credible
voice for human rights in the world. It is as simple as that. It is an
indicator of how far we have to go that, currently, our major credential
for being a country that respects human rights is a guarantee by the Obama
administration that the U.S. government will not officially torture.
Noble though this purposeis, it is a rather limited and unambitious
promotion of a nation's image. It would have created a much better image,
at home and abroad, if, on his first day in office, President Obama had
signed an executive order committing our government to establishing the
human right of access to health care in time of need for every person
living in the U.S. - complying, at last, with the United Nations
declaration on human rights that - at least until now - the U.S.
government has never respected.

Vicente Navarro, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Health Policy at The Johns
Hopkins University and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of
Health Services. The opinions expressed here are those of the author and
do not necessarily reflect the views of the institutions with which he is
affiliated. Dr Navarro can be reached at vnavarro [at]

--------13 of 14--------

From: Neala Schleuning [mailto:schleuning [at]]
Subject: FW: Ben & Jerry's new creation

Ben & Jerry created "Yes Pecan!" ice cream flavor for Obama.
They then asked people to fill in the blank for the following:
For George W. they created "_________".

Here are some of their favorite responses:
 - Grape Depression
 - Abu Grape
 - Cluster Fudge
 - Nut'n Accomplished
 - Iraqi Road
 - Chock 'n Awe
 - WireTapioca
 - Impeach Cobbler
 - Guantanmallow
 - imPeachmint
 - Good Riddance You Lousy M*th*rf*ck*r... Swirl
 - Heck of a Job, Brownie!
 - Neocon Politan
 - RockyRoad to Fascism
 - The Reese's-cession
 - Cookie D'oh!
 - The Housing Crunch
 - Nougalar Proliferation
 - Death by Chocolate... and Torture
 - Freedom Vanilla Ice Cream
 - Chocolate Chip On My Shoulder
 - "You're Sh*tting In My Mouth And Calling It A" Sundae
 - Credit Crunch
 - Mission Pecanplished
 - Country Pumpkin
 - Chunky Monkey in Chief
 - George Bush Doesn't Care About Dark Chocolate
 - WMDelicious
 - Chocolate Chimp
 - Bloody Sundae
 - Caramel Preemptive Stripe
 - I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands...with

--------14 of 14--------

 If you can't curse in
 tea-tepid toned-down terms, then
 potty-poo on you.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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