|Progressive Calendar 02.09.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|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] comcast.net> 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] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls, Wisconsin 54022 --------2 of 14-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> 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 www.friendsofcoldwater.org. --------3 of 14-------- From: PHYLLIS STENERSON <phyllis [at] progressivevalues.org> 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] umn.edu> 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] visi.com> 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 www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/2009budget <http://web.mail.visi.com/Redirect/www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/2009budget> . 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] earthlink.net> 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] aol.com 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 Society 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] yahoo.com --------7 of 14-------- From: Socialist Appeal <new [at] socialistappeal.org> To: David E Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> 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] handsoffvenezuela.org or call 651-373-7609. 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 <http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/originals> 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. <http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/ad/redirect/19825/t1729/> 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 <http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/article/2009/01/30/save-money-eliminate-elections.html>, and invited responses. The Minneapolis E-Democracy Forum <http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/mpls/messages/topic/2HJGuOCWKomkDqgTpbjnpU> 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 http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/02/07/sirota/print.html Even under the new president, Washington is the same one-party town it always has been - controlled not by Democrats or Republicans, but by thieves. 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 servants. 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 "entitlements." 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 value. 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 valet." 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 www.naomiklein.org --------12 of 14-------- A Sworn Foe of Single-Payer Why Sanjay Gupta is the Wrong Man for the Top US Health Job By VICENTE NAVARRO CounterPunch 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 credibility. 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 home. 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 people. 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] jhsph.edu --------13 of 14-------- From: Neala Schleuning [mailto:schleuning [at] comcast.net] 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 nuts --------14 of 14-------- If you can't curse in tea-tepid toned-down terms, then potty-poo on you. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
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