Progressive Calendar 05.14.09
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.


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