|Progressive Calendar 05.14.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Thu, 14 May 2009 16:11:35 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 05.14.09 1. RT/violation 5.15 9am 2. Nakba vigil 5.15 4:15pm 3. Art-A-Whirl 5.15 5pm 4. Venezuela/film 5.15 7pm 5. Moyers/Pakistan 5.15 9pm 6. Plant benefit 5.15-16 7. Peace walk 5.16 9am Cambridge MN 8. Respond: Cam/RT 5.16 9am 9. Palestine 5.16 10am 10. Gasification 5.16 10am 11. Solar boats 5.16 10am 12. NorthtownVigil 5.16 2pm 13. Joel Albers - uhcan-mn HMO Demo June 2 14. PC Roberts - Who runs America? 15. Lance Selfa - A pattern of capitulation; the limits of liberalism --------1 of 15-------- From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: RT/violation 5.15 9am 1. Dave Bicking - Campaign Practices Complaint Filed Against R.T. Rybak for Mayor Campaign. Press conference 5.15 9am 2. John Kolstad - Cam Gordon leaves the Green Party ==1== For Immediate Release Contact: Dave Bicking [SouthSide businessman & ward 9 council candidate] Thursday, May 14, 2009 dave [at] colorstudy.com H: 612-276-1213 W: 612-729-8580 Campaign Practices Complaint Filed Against R.T. Rybak for Mayor Campaign On Tuesday, May 12, Dave Bicking filed a Campaign Practices Complaint against the R.T. Rybak for Mayor campaign, alleging a violation of MN Statute 211B.02, False Claim of Support. The Complaint alleges that the Rybak campaign distributed literature claiming the support of Green Party City Council Member Cam Gordon, without obtaining written permission from Gordon to do so. The next day, the MN Office of Administrative Hearings responded to the Complaint with a determination that the Complaint sets forth prima facie violations, and that the matter will therefore proceed to an evidentiary hearing to be held within 90 days. The date of that hearing will be announced in the next week. The relevant section of Statute 211B.02 states: "A person or candidate may not state in written campaign material that the candidate or ballot question has the support or endorsement of an individual without first getting written permission from the individual to do so." During March and April, the Rybak campaign distributed a four-page literature piece that included a claim of endorsement from Council Member Cam Gordon (Ward 2) under the heading: "We Support Mayor R.T. Rybak." The effect of that claim of support is important because it is a part of the claim that the mayor's re-election is endorsed by all 13 City Council members. This effect is enhanced by a quote from State Senator Scott Dibble, including the sentence: "Mayor Rybak is endorsed by the entire City Council - that's historic." The Rybak campaign website also included a claim of endorsement by Gordon. Gordon's name was removed from the website after he talked to the Rybak campaign in late March, but the printed literature continued to be distributed for another month. Dave Bicking says, "I was surprised to see Rybak claiming the endorsement of the most prominent local member of the opposition party. After talking to Cam Gordon and receiving his assurance that he had not formally endorsed Rybak, I decided that the record should be set straight. As a candidate myself, I am familiar with the fair campaign practice laws, and I believe all candidates should follow those rules." Bicking further explains his reasons for filing the complaint: "Particularly at a time of increasing consolidation of power downtown, it is unseemly to create an appearance of unanimous endorsement of the mayor by City Council. It would be harmful to our democracy to have no dissenting voices on the Council, or to give the impression that there are no alternatives to the incumbent. We have a nearly one-party town; it is particularly important for the Green Party to express an alternative vision." In a surprising turn of events, the Rybak campaign has just released a signed document from Cam Gordon giving his permission for the Rybak campaign to list him as a public supporter - but that document is dated May 13, 2009. The law clearly requires permission BEFORE stating a claim of support. Further, the release of that document comes close to an admission that such permission did not exist prior to May 13. Dave Bicking is a candidate for City Council in Ward 9, recently endorsed by the Green Party. He clarifies, "This is an individual action, though I have been encouraged by others. It is not done on behalf of or with the consultation of Cam Gordon or his campaign, or the Green Party itself, or any other mayoral campaign." Further information will be available at a press conference to be held by Dave Bicking on Friday, May 15, 9am, at the Sabathani Community Center, ]310 E. 38th St., Mpls, room 218. Copies of all documents will be made available. -- end -- ==2== Date: Thu, 14 May 2009 14:41:47 -0500 From: John Kolstad <jkolstad [at] millcitymusic.com> Subject: RE: Cam Gordon leaves Green Party Today, Cam Gordon betrayed the Green Party only a few days after he sought and received the endorsement of the Green Party. Today he announced that he is endorsing Mayor RT Rybak, a DFLer. RT has listed Cam as a supporter in his literature since at least April (maybe sooner). Cam had denied that he endorsed RT but was very wishy washy in his answer. The law requires that such endorsements be in writing. No written document by the Rybak Campaign has surfaced to date, which means this could be a serious legal campaign violation. It is interesting that the DFL did not run a candidate in Ward 2. This smells of inside sweetheart deals between the Mayor's campaign, the DFL and Cam Gordon. Cam has clearly been very disingenuous in his conduct and it seems to me that he is violating the very foundation principles of the Green Party. It is hard to come to any conclusion except that Cam Gordon has become a DFLer, yet last Saturday sought the Green Party endorsement, then turned around and endorsed a DFLer for Mayor. It looks to me like this was the plan all along. I think the Green Party should rescind their endorsement and ASAP. I further feel that the people of Ward 2 should withdraw their support of Cam Gordon and seek a citizen leader to support as a candidate for Ward 2 City council, even if it has to be a write-in candidate. We are in desperate times. We need someone with integrity and principles who has the courage and spine to stand up to the wealthy power brokers who are running this city into the ground. Cam has caved in to this group on nearly every issue, for example, the $1.1 billion Twins Stadium. Now he is playing games with the Green Party and then supporting the DFL. Cam is obviously doing what is good for Cam and I don't believe that the people of Ward 2 can expect him to faithfully represent them at City Hall. I have known Cam for a long time and have helped him in his election bids in various ways through the years. I firmly believe that he has betrayed me and others who have worked to help him get elected in the past. Now we have a City Council of 13 DFLers and a DFL Mayor. Our City is being bankrupted by a One Party Group. How is this any different from the Russian Politburo or the Chinese Government? Are we going to wait until we are all broke before we throw this group out of office? The Republicans are no alternative, just look at the Economic Disaster they have brought to this country. This City needs a true opposition party and the people of this City need to wake up and elect people who will work for the welfare of the City and not their wealthy campaign contributors. Regards, John R Kolstad (aka Papa John) Seward Neighborhood Mpls --------2 of 15-------- From: sarah martin <scsrn [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Nakba vigil 5.15 4:15pm Commemorate Nakba Friday May 15 At regular Friday bannering Snelling and Summit St. Paul 4:15-5:30 for info call; 612-827-5364 Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe (1948) Every year Palestinians commemorate the Nakba ("the catastrophe" ): the expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948. In 1948 more than 60 percent of the total Palestinian population was expelled. More than 530 Palestinian villages were depopulated and completely destroyed. To date, Israel has prevented the return of approximately six million Palestinian refugees, who have either been expelled or displaced. Approximately 250,000 internally displaced Palestinian second-class citizens of Israel are prevented from returning to their homes and villages. --------3 of 15-------- From: "Susan Hensel Design,LLC" <Susan_Hensel_Design_LLC [at] mail.vresp.com> Subject: Art-A-Whirl 5.15 5pm May 15-17 What is Art-A-Whirl? Art-A-Whirl is an open-studio and gallery tour of Northeast Minneapolis. It is an enticing event that calls and welcomes local and regional visitors who want to see the art being produced in NE. NEMAA is the bridge between the local and regional world and NEMAA artists. As visitors come to see the art, they also experience the NE Community. More than 400 artists participate in AAW, including potters, tile makers, painters, sculptors, musicians, photographers, glass blowers, printmakers, and textile designers. They showcase their art in warehouses, homes, storefronts and cafes. When is Art-A-Whirl? Art-A-Whirl is an annual event held the 3rd weekend in May. Friday, May 15th from 5-10:00 p.m. Saturday, May 16th from 12-8:00 p.m. Sunday, May 17th from 12-5:00 p.m. How do I know where to go? driving directions [http://cts.vresp.com/c/?SusanHenselDesignLLC/988d2d8289/36cd7da22b/ac370e16ef] --------4 of 15-------- From: Socialist Appeal <new [at] socialistappeal.org> Subject: Venezuela/film 5.15 7pm New Film on Factory Occupations in Venezuela May 15th, 2009 @ 7:00pm Mapps Coffee and Tea 1810 Riverside Ave. Minneapolis, MN >From Chicago to Ireland, from Venezuela to Indonesia, from Brazil to the Ukraine, from Argentina to Canada - and around the world - workers are beginning to fight back against the crisis of the economic system by occupying the work place in order to win. We will be presenting a new documentary "FRETECO: Occupied Factories under Workers' Control" and hosting John Peterson, national secretary of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign, speaking on what has happened in Venezuela so far and future prospects for the Bolivarian revolution, followed by questions and discussion. ON THE FILM: A new film on the Venezuelan Revolution. Produced by Vive TV in Venezuela, this new documentary on FRETECO explores the movement of occupied factories and workers' control in Venezuela. >From the Mitsubishi auto plant to the Inveval valve plant; from the Gotcha T-Shirt factory to the INAF hardware factory, workers young and old, male and female, tell their stories and explain why they came to the realization that demanding nationalization under workers' control is the only way forward. With examples explaining how factory and workers' councils function, the role of the communal councils, and the movement for "trade unionism of a new type," this video provides a living, breathing look at a crucial aspect of the Venezuelan Revolutionary process. Spanish with English subtitles by U.S. HOV. Contacts: John Peterson (651) 373-7609 Josh Lucker (618) 691-8277 wil [at] socialistappeal.org --------5 of 15-------- From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org> Subject: Moyers/Pakistan 5.15 9pm Bill Moyers Journal | Pakistan in Peril http://www.truthout.org/051309U?n Bill Moyers Journal: "As the world follows the violence and unrest in Pakistan, Bill Moyers speaks with historian Juan Cole and journalist Shahan Mufti about how the US's increasingly strained relationship with the troubled nation will impact prospects for peace, human rights and democracy in the war-torn region. Also, Moyers talks with Daniel Goleman, author of 'Ecological Intelligence,' on building awareness of how consumer products impact the environment and why he writes that 'green' is a 'mirage.'" --------6 of 15-------- From: Jeanne Weigum <JW [at] ansrmn.org> Subject: Plant benefit 5.15-16 Benefit Garage and plant sale in Merriam Park Garage Sale '09 With the arrival of spring comes the nearly inevitable and nearly famous 26th annual Association for Nonsmokers Garage and Plant Sale May 15-16 at 1647 Laurel, St. Paul 55104. DONATIONS: As you clean your basement, attic or garage of the accumulated flotsam, consider donating it to ANSR. We have limited storage space so it you can hold on to it until May 11, that would be best for us. If you absolutely have to get it out of your house immediately, please call Jeanne 651-645-4370. This is our only fund-raiser of the year, so your support is vital to ANSR, AND is tax deductible. What we really really want because they sell so well: tools, yard and garden, jewelry, cookware, dishes, kitchen/housewares, gadgets, decorator items, in season sporting goods, children's toys, smallish wooden furniture, collectibles. Things that sell and we certainly want but are not quite as wonderful as the items above: books, smallish items that we are unsure how they work or what they do, radios, sporting goods out of season, holiday decor. Items we do not sell: furniture with springs, clothing, exercise equipment, skis, curtain rods, suitcases (unless mint), TVs, computers, left-overs from your remodeling project (sinks/tubs etc.) If you have something to donate that you are unsure about, please call Jeanne to clarify. Small (and valuable) are very good! Who we are: ANSR, the Association for Nonsmokers - MN, is Minnesota's oldest organization (founded in 1973) working solely to reduce the harm caused by tobacco. We work with youth, advocate for policy changes, and support programs to increase the availability of smoke-free housing and smoke-free youth recreation areas and decrease tobacco industry advertising and promotion. ANSR is a 501c3 non-profit with both volunteer and professional staff. How you can help: a.. donate; b.. get your friends and neighbors to donate; c.. volunteer to help; d.. come and buy. In addition to the garage sale we have plants: hardy and annual plants at great prices. Once every 3 years we have a large number and variety of Asiatic lilies for sale. This is the year! We have over 25 varieties of hardy lilies that will bring color to your yard for decades. We also offer heirloom tomatoes, basil, peppers, several varieties of hosta, and wild flowers. --------7 of 15-------- From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Peace walk 5.16 9am Cambridge MN every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street --------8 of 15-------- From: ed Subject: Respond: Cam/RT 5.16 9am The Cam Gordon campaign "will meet at the Blue Moon Cafe at 39th Ave and East Lake St. Saturday May 16 from 9 - 10 am. Please feel join us for the meeting... Please spread the word. Everyone is welcome." Let them know what you think of Green Party council member Gordon publically endorsing DFL RT Rybak for mayor. --------9 of 15-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Palestine 5.16 10am "Building Holy Land Peace: Will America Play a New Role?" Saturday, May 16, 9:30 a.m. (Refreshments), 10:00 a.m. (Presentation and Discussion) Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer, 5440 Penn Avenue South Minneapolis. "Are the U.S. government and American citizens ready to be more helpfully engaged in the Israel/Palestine peace process?" This question will be addressed by Warren Clark, Executive Director of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP). Ambassador Clark is a retired foreign-service officer whose career included significant Middle East experience. Since 2007 he has led CMEP in Washington, DC. It is a coalition of 22 Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant church agencies that relate to congress and the administration. Sponsored by: Middle East Peace Now (MEPN). WAMM is a member of MEPN. FFI: Call Florence Steichen, 651-696-1642. --------10 of 15-------- From: alteravista [at] usfamily.net Subject: Gasification 5.16 10am Designing for a Changing Future: GASIFICATION - An Essential Process for Using Alternative Fuels Saturday, May 16, 2009, 10 am to noon Merriam Park Library, 1831 Marshall Ave., St. Paul A free, illustrated workshop that examines the current design of our society - enforced dependence and globalization - and ways to relocalize by developing skills and using natural forces to accomplish complex work. This workshop, the second in a series on building your own outdoor furnace, covers gasification - its role running engines in Germany during WWII and its applications for today. Concluding workshop in the series will be on design and construction of an outdoor furnace using dynamic containment, gasification, and simple, off-the-shelf materials. Saturday, June 13, 10 am to noon, Merriam Park Library (see above). Presented by Wilhelm Reindl, educated in physics at University of Munich, former researcher at University of Minnesota energy consultant to government and industry, independent energy enterpreneu/inventor. and with federal Bureau of Mines, FFI 651-633-4410, alteravista [at] gmail.com. Sponsored by Wilderness Connections, Inc., St. Paull --------11 of 15-------- From: "bulldogsmn [at] juno.com" <bulldogsmn [at] juno.com> Subject: Solar boat regatta 5.16 10am Solar Boat Regatta Saturday, May 16 10am-4pm Lake Phalen in St Paul www.SolarBoatRace.net For the 17th year in a row, teams from various schools and organizations across Minnesota will compete in a solar-powered boat race on Saturday, May 16, 2009. Designed to educate students about solar power and engineering, teams will include high school and middle school and college aged students as well as Boy Scouts and independent teams. The event begins at 10:00 AM and goes to 4:00 PM, and involves head-to-head, slalom and endurance races, informational posters and discussion with the teams, and even refreshments and live music from the Nick Hass trio. --------12 of 15-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 5.16 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------13 of 15-------- Date: Wed, 13 May 2009 14:37:32 -0500 From: Joel Albers <joel [at] uhcan-mn.org> Subject: uhcan-mn HMO Demo June 2 Again this week, Congress was disrupted asking why single-payer does not have a seat in Sen. Baucus Senate Finance Committee, despite the fact that the majority of the public favors it. More folks got arrested for asking this simple question. And as a result of this simple tactic, we now turn on our radio and we're hearing about single-payer like never before. Obviously the media are now poised for more about single-payer. We have an opportunity to provide that by building on these actions and having our own action at United Health Group HMOs Annual Shareholders Mtg, Tuesday, June 2. At the last UHCAN-MN mtg we decided to meet at the corporate headquarters in Minnetonka, at 9AM. A Press release and flyer to distribute will follow. Here are the basics below. What we have: megaphone big banner single-payer signs big list of single-payer songs, chants press release flyers to distribute choreagraphed rendition of "HMO You Ugly" Roger's huge Medicare for All Kite What we need: -groups to endorse the demonstration -individuals to share stories of denial of care or coverage by HMOs -people to wear black and participate in a die-in at the HMOs headquarters -people who want to speak, sing, chant, puppetry, other self-expression -feel free to make your own signs,banners Let us know how you would like to be involved in the high-profile, participatory demonstration at the largest HMO in the U.S. - Joel Albers <joel [at] uhcan-mn.org> --------14 of 15-------- Who Runs America? The Impotent President By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS CounterPunch May 14, 2009 What do you suppose it is like to be elected president of the United States only to find that your power is restricted to the service of powerful interest groups? A president who does a good job for the ruling interest groups is paid off with remunerative corporate directorships, outrageous speaking fees, and a lucrative book contract. If he is young when he assumes office, like Bill Clinton and Obama, it means a long life of luxurious leisure. Fighting the special interests doesn't pay and doesn't succeed. On April 30 the primacy of special over public interests was demonstrated yet again. The Democrats' bill to prevent 1.7 million mortgage foreclosures and, thus, preserve $300 billion in home equity by permitting homeowners to renegotiate their mortgages, was defeated in the Senate, despite the 60-vote majority of the Democrats. The banksters were able to defeat the bill 51 to 45. These are the same financial gangsters whose unbridled greed and utter irresponsibility have wiped out half of Americans' retirement savings, sent the economy into a deep hole, and threatened the US dollar's reserve currency role. It is difficult to imagine an interest group with a more damaged reputation. Yet, a majority of "the people's representatives" voted as the discredited banksters instructed. Hundreds of billions of public dollars have gone to bail out the banksters, but when some Democrats tried to get the Senate to do a mite for homeowners, the US Senate stuck with the banks. The Senate's motto is: "Hundreds of billions for the banksters, not a dime for homeowners". If Obama was naive about well-intentioned change before the vote, he no longer has this political handicap. Democratic Majority Whip Dick Durbin acknowledged the voters' defeat by the discredited banksters. The banks, Durbin said, "frankly own the place". It is not difficult to understand why. Among those who defeated the homeowners bill are senators Jon Tester (Mont), Max Baucus (Mont), Blanche Lincoln (Ark), Ben Nelson (Neb), Many Landrieu (La), Tim Johnson (SD), and Arlan Specter (Pa). According to reports, the banksters have poured a half million dollars into Tester's campaign funds. Baucus has received $3.5 million; Lincoln $1.3 million; Nelson $1.4 million; Landrieu $2 million; Johnson $2.5 million; Specter $4.5 million. The same Congress that can't find a dime for homeowners or health care appropriates hundreds of billions of dollars for the military/security complex. The week after the Senate foreclosed on American homeowners, the Obama "change" administration asked Congress for an additional $61 billion dollars for the neoconservatives' war in Iraq and $65 billion more for the neoconservatives' war in Afghanistan. Congress greeted this request with a rousing "Yes we can!" The additional $126 billion comes on top of the $533.7 billion "defense" budget for this year. The $660 billion--probably a low-ball number--is ten times the military spending of China, the second most powerful country in the world. How is it possible that "the world's only superpower" is threatened by the likes of Iraq and Afghanistan? How can the US be a superpower if it is threatened by countries that have no military capability other than a guerilla capability to resist invaders? These "wars" are a hoax designed to enrich the US armaments industry and to infuse the "security forces" with police powers over American citizenry. Not a dime to prevent millions of Americans from losing their homes, but hundreds of billions of dollars to murder Muslim women and children and to create millions of refugees, many of whom will either sign up with insurgents or end up as the next wave of immigrants into America. This is the way the American government works. And it thinks it is a "city on the hill, a light unto the world". Americans elected Obama because he said he would end the gratuitous criminal wars of the Bush brownshirts, wars that have destroyed America's reputation and financial solvency and serve no public interest. But once in office Obama found that he was ruled by the military/security complex. War is not being ended, merely transferred from the unpopular war in Iraq to the more popular war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Obama, in violation of Pakistan's sovereignty, continues to attack "targets" in Pakistan. In place of a war in Iraq, the military/security complex now has two wars going in much more difficult circumstances. Viewing the promotion gravy train that results from decades of warfare, the US officer corps has responded to the "challenge to American security" from the Taliban. "We have to kill them over there before they come over here". No member of the US government or its numerous well-paid agents has ever explained how the Taliban, which is focused on Afghanistan, could ever get to America. Yet this hyped fear is sufficient for the public to support the continuing enrichment of the military/security complex, while American homes are foreclosed by the banksters who have destroyed the retirement prospects of the US population. According to Pentagon budget documents, by next year the cost of the war against Afghanistan will exceed the cost of the war against Iraq. According to a Nobel prize-winning economist and a budget expert at Harvard University, the war against Iraq has cost the American taxpayers $3 trillion, that is, $3,000 billion in out-of-pocket and already incurred future costs, such as caring for veterans. If the Pentagon is correct, then by next year the US government will have squandered $6 trillion dollars on two wars, the only purpose of which is to enrich the munitions manufacturers and the "security" bureaucracy. The human and social costs are dramatic as well and not only for the Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani populations ravaged by American bombs. Dahr Jamail reports that US Army psychiatrists have concluded that by their third deployment, 30 percent of American troops are mental wrecks. Among the costs that reverberate across generations of Americans are elevated rates of suicide, unemployment, divorce, child and spousal abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness and incarceration. In the Afghan "desert of death" the Obama administration is constructing a giant military base. Why? What does the internal politics of Afghanistan have to do with the US? What is this enormous waste of resources that America does not have accomplishing besides enriching the American munitions industry? China and to some extent India are the rising powers in the world. Russia, the largest country on earth, is armed with a nuclear arsenal as terrifying as the American one. The US dollar's role as reserve currency, the most important source of American power, is undermined by the budget deficits that result from the munition corporations' wars and the bankster bailouts. Why is the US making itself impotent fighting wars that have nothing whatsoever to do with is security, wars that are, in fact, threatening its security? The answer is that the military/security lobby, the financial gangsters, and AIPAC rule. The American people be damned. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts [at] yahoo.com --------15 of 15-------- A Pattern of Capitulation The Limits of Liberalism By LANCE SELFA May 14, 2009 CounterPunch While most of the people who would call themselves liberals have been quite pleased with President Obama's debut, a growing minority is becoming restless at what they see as the administration's too-easy capitulation to business forces. A case in point was Obama's May 10 announcement, which much fanfare and press hoopla, of a pledge from 10 major health industry interest groups to cut the growth of health care spending over the course of the next decade. The $2 trillion in health spending saved could help the administration enact a comprehensive health care reform bill, administration officials noted. But some liberals weren't so sure that this announcement was good news. It had the aspect of a behind-the-scenes deal in which the administration won an industry promise in exchange for making some unknown "compromise." Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, writing in his blog at the Talking Points Memo Web site, noted: The only troubling thing about the President's statements today concerning health care reform was what he did not say: that he wanted any health plan that emerges from Congress to include a public insurance option for Americans who do not want to buy private insurance. But without this option, there will be no pressure on private insurers to adopt all the other reforms to control costs or give all Americans access to affordable care. Did Obama trade away the "public option" to win support from the health industry? We'll soon find out. But this modus operandi is becoming a bit of pattern. Already, the administration's policies to address the financial crisis - from the bank bailouts to the rigged "stress tests" - appear to have been designed to disrupt Wall Street's business as usual as little as possible. For this reason, liberal economists like Nobel Laureates Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz have denounced the administration's policies as, at best, keeping "zombie banks" on life support - or, at worst, robbing taxpayers. All of this dismays liberals who believe that they have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enact overdue reforms. Instead, they see the administration compromising with big business that has interests in making whatever reforms are passed as toothless as possible. For example, if the administration was truly interested in a health care system that would contain costs and cover every American, the simplest and most cost-effective solution would be to do what virtually every other industrialized country does: cover the population through a government-run "single payer" system. Instead, the health care reform that is likely to emerge from this Congress will be a jerry-built compromise designed to provide enough incentives for health industry "stakeholders" (to use the parlance in vogue in Washington today) not to sabotage the plan. But this deal with the devil will make whatever reform is passed weaker and more inefficient as a result. THE STANDARD arguments for explaining these capitulations to big business include everything from parliamentary excuses ("we've got to get 60 votes in the Senate") to the fact that Obama and congressional Democrats have pocketed millions in corporate cash. While these explanations tell part of the story, they avoid a bigger picture that places today's pressure toward reform in the context of American liberalism's history as one of the two main philosophies (along with conservatism) for governing American capitalism. Despite what conservatives are shouting these days, liberalism is not a version of "socialism," or even social democracy. It's one way to run a capitalist economy in the interests of capital. We can see this even when we look at liberalism's "high tide" - the New Deal era of the 1930s and 1940s, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Democratic Party's brand of liberalism in that period was pretty mild stuff. First, it refused to countenance large-scale government intervention into labor markets or the operation of the economy. Unlike European social democracy, American liberalism didn't support nationalization of industries or "cradle-to-grave" social welfare policies. Liberals accepted that the paramount aim of American economic policy was to maintain conditions for corporate-led economic growth. Even in the New Deal's halcyon days, Democratic programs fell far short of working-class demands or welfare policies in other advanced capitalist countries. As historian Kevin Boyle noted, "In 1949, after four full terms of Democratic Party rule, the United States ranked last among industrial capitalist states in social welfare expenditures." Second, liberals did not - and still do not - question the necessity of a massive military machine or the imperialist aims for which it is deployed. In fact, "Cold War liberalism" rested on expanding the Pentagon. By the 1960s and the presidency of John F. Kennedy, the liberal commitment to the war in Vietnam was helping to starve domestic "war on poverty" programs. Obama's growing commitment to a wider war in Afghanistan and Pakistan may have the same impact today. Liberalism remained the postwar era's guiding economic and political ideology because it served the needs of an expanding capitalism. U.S. economic expansion depended on increased investment in technology (and in a technologically sophisticated workforce). Moreover, economic growth pulled larger numbers of workers on the margins of the U.S. labor market into paid labor. Liberal government policies helped to facilitate these changes required by the postwar economy. Federal programs like the G.I. Bill of Rights and the National Defense Education Act of 1958 subsidized an expansion of higher education and the creation of a technologically equipped workforce. These programs were justified as part of the Cold War need to "keep up with the Russians" - which only added to their appeal. Government programs such as Head Start, Medicare, Medicaid and child nutrition programs added to the working class' "social wage," underwriting the expansion of the postwar workforce. State expenditures on some roles formerly left to women in families - caring for the elderly, assuring adequate nutrition for kids - helped increase the numbers of women available to enter the paid labor force. Liberals championed and won these reforms - all of which aided U.S. capitalism. Today, Obama makes many of the same pitches for his policies: arguing, for instance, that health care reform will help U.S. business compete against firms from countries whose governments cover health care costs. This may be true. But when the policies are crafted from the point of view of the interests of big business, they are just as likely to be curtailed or jettisoned if Corporate America feels it doesn't need them. That was big business' attitude through most of the previous political era, when free-market ideology ruled the day. Democrats, as much as Republicans, abetted the process of counter-reform. As political scientist Thomas Ferguson once remarked, this factor explains why the Democratic Party left ordinary Americans alternately confused, perplexed, alarmed or disgusted, as they tried to puzzle out why the party did so little to help unionize the South, protect the victims of McCarthyism, promote civil rights for Blacks, women or Hispanics, or in the late 1970s, combat America's great 'right turn' against the New Deal itself. To such people, it always remained a mystery why the Democrats so often betrayed the ideals of the New Deal. Little did they realize that, in fact, the party was only living up to them. Lance Selfa is the author of The Democrats: a Critical History. He writes for the Socialist Worker. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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