|Progressive Calendar 06.15.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2009 12:53:29 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 06.15.09 1. Peace walk 6.15 6pm RiverFalls WI 2. Cops/fed control 6.15 6pm 3. Shatila/film 6.15 6:30pm 4. Oxfam Action 6.15 7pm 5. Soldiers/peace 6.15 7:30pm 6. Rosemary Williams 6.16 12:30pm 7. NWN4P vigil 6.16 4:45pm 8. Palestine/CTV 6.16 5pm 9. RNC court watch 6.16 6pm 10. O/foreign policy 6.16 6pm 11. Salon evaluation 6.16 6:30pm 12. Short films 6.16 7:30pm 13. Movies in park 6.16 9pm 14. Banks/Frontline 6.16 9pm 15. Felice Pace - Why NPR refuses to report on single payer movement 16. Kevin Zeese - Congress & the health business profit not life lobby 17. Dave Lindorff - Obama blows chance for real health care reform 18. Susan Abulhawa - Does Israel really have a right to exist? 19. Heather Gray - Southern ruling class greed during the Civil War -------1 of 19-------- From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net> Subject: Peace walk 6.15 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 19-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com> Subject: Cops/fed control 6.15 6pm Public Hearing on Brutality and Misconduct by Minneapolis Police Monday, June 15 6:00 p.m. Minneapolis Urban League, 2100 Plymouth Avenue It has become apparent that Minneapolis police are out of control. There have been multiple killings of community members in outrageous circumstances over the last few years. Just in the last few months, calls to our hotline have shot up sharply and are filled with horrific tales of abuse. Between the defanging of the Minneapolis civilian review authority, the abuses of the gang strike task force and the utter lack of willingness on the part of the mayor and city council to hold this police force accountable, local control of the police no longer seems possible. We are gathering testimony for the purpose of seeking federal receivership of the Minneapolis police department. Come and share your story with the community for the purpose of seeking justice. --------3 of 19-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Shatila/film 6.15 6:30pm FREE Third Monday Movies and Discussion: "Children of Shatila" Monday, June 15, 6:30 p.m. St. Joan of Arc Church, Parish Center, 4537 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis. Many Palestinian children were orphaned by the 1982 massacre of refugees in the camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon - an event important in the lives of two Palestinian girls who become friends through correspondence and eventually meet. Despite the reality of the conflict surrounding them, the girls are optimistic and hopeful. Discussion follows. Sponsored by: the WAMM Third Monday Movies Committee. FFI: Call 612-871-2229. --------4 of 19-------- From: Oxfam Action Corps - MN <minnesota [at] oxfamactioncorps.org> Subject: Oxfam Action 6.15 7pm On the 3rd Monday of each month, we gather to plan our nonpartisan grassroots activities. We've successfully organized events, lobbied policymakers, and have used sheer creativity to stand up for meaningful change. We meet at 7pm the unique Common Roots Café (2558 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis). [Check location -ed] --------5 of 19-------- From: Mary Jane LaVigne Subject: Soldiers/peace 6.15 7:30pm Soldiers of Peace - Twin Cities Premiere "A fundraiser for the Campaign for a Department of Peace and Friends for a Nonviolent World" Monday, June 15 at 7:30pm Heights Theater To see more details and RSVP, follow the link below: http://www.facebook.com/p.php?i=750275065&k=SZBTX4URP5VMYBFAVDW3V --------6 of 19-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Rosemary Williams 6.16 12:30pm Rally and Motion Hearing: "Stop the Eviction of Rosemary Williams" Tuesday, June 16, 12:30 p.m. (Rally), 1:30 p.m. (Motion Hearing) Hennepin County Government Center, Room 1400-A, 300 South 6th Street, Minneapolis. Join others to pack the courtroom at the motion hearing of a Minneapolis resident whose home has been foreclosed after 26 years of residency. Stop the eviction of this home's resident, initiated against her by the servicer of her mortgage. Sponsored by: the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout. WAMM is a member of the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout. FFI and Updates: Call 612-822-8020 or visit www.mn-peoples-bailout.org. --------7 of 19-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NWN4P vigil 6.16 4:45pm NWN4P vigil every Tuesday. Corner of Winnetka and 42nd Avenues in New Hope. 4:45 to 5:45 PM. All welcome; bring your own or use our signs. --------8 of 19-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine/CTV 6.16 5pm Syzygy-sippin' St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm, midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow! All households with basic cable may watch. Tues, 6/16, 5pm & midnight and Wed, 6/17, 10am Palestine: A New Perspective For the first time in Minnesota television history: the Palestinian point of view straight-up for 1 hour! Ziad Amra of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and Sameh Shabaneh of the Al-Aqsa Institute, two Minnesotans with deep connections to Palestine, share their perspectives on the Palestinian-Israel conflict. Hosted by Karen Redleaf. --------9 of 19-------- From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at] gmail.com> Subject: RNC court watch 6.16 6pm RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing court information, documentation and etc. RNC Court Watchers Meetings are every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Below is announcement for our meetings. Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this intimidation, harassment and abuse! Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent people. Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55405 Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M participate and help organize RNC court solidarity. For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at] gmail.com THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! --------10 of 19-------- From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] gmail.com> Subject: O/foreign policy 6.16 6pm Discussion & Potluck: What will be the impact of the Obama administration on US foreign policy? And what does this mean for the peace movement? Tuesday, June 16th @ 6pm @ May Day Books (below Midwest Mountaineering), 301 Cedar Avenue, Mpls Come discuss and eat with members of the anti-war movement the questions on everyone's minds: Will Obama start a war with North Korea? Will he actually end the war on Iraq? What can we do to end the war on Afghanistan? Is Obama a force for peace and statehood for the Palestinians? Bring some tasty food to share. Organized by the Anti-War Committee --------11 of 19-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Salon evaluation 6.16 6:30pm June 16 we are going to have an evaluation of how the salons are going and how we can improve them. If you have ideas for future salons or ways to do things differently, please come and help. And, on June 30, our guest will be Senator John Marty. Very exciting!! He will discuss his health plan that is being considered in the Minn. Legislature. Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) are held (unless otherwise noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 W 7th, St Paul, MN Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information. --------12 of 19-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Short films 6.16 7:30pm Tues. June 16, 7:30 PM: Short Film Showcase of 5 films, featuring "The Garden" by Ryan Philippi (Official Selection, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Athens International Film Festival 2009). Intermedia Arts 2822 Lyndale Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55408 http://www.intermediaarts.org <http://www.intermediaarts.org/> Parking is available in the Intermedia Arts lot on the north side of the building TICKETS: $5 (available at the door) General Admission For more information: John Koch Cinema Revolution Society Minneapolis, Minnesota Cell: 612.483.0657 http://www.cinemarevolution.org <http://www.cinemarevolution.org/> http://www.mnartists.org/John_Koch --------13 of 19-------- From: Oxfam Action Corps - MN <oxfam.mn [at] gmail.com> Subject: Movies in park 6.16 9pm Join Oxfam Action Corps - Minnesota and ONE Twin Cities for Movies in the Park (...that make a difference) at 9 PM on Tuesday, June 16th at Matthews Park (2318 29th Ave. S., Minneapolis). This free community event features two empowering films. First, watch a preview of Oxfam America's Sisters on the Planet, which tells the story of four inspiring women living on the front lines of climate change. The evening's feature film is Sons of Lwala, the critically-acclaimed documentary of two brothers who, after earning medical degrees in the United States, return home to Kenya to finish establishing a health clinic started by their father who has fallen ill to AIDS. Both movies deal with serious subjects often ignored or misunderstood - but offer a message a hope. This will be the theme of this fun evening: the real potential to help create lasting solutions to poverty and injustice with meaningful action, right here in Minnesota. So come watch these amazing films with us and, if you choose to, stay to learn how you can make a difference without opening your pocketbook from volunteers of the ONE Campaign and Oxfam Action Corps. For more information, visit http://minnesota.oxfamactioncorps.org or email Leah S. at minnesota [at] oxfamactioncorps.org --------14 of 19-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> From: FRONTLINE Bulletin Subject: Banks/Frontline 6.16 9pm FRONTLINE http://www.pbs.org/frontline/ - This Week: "Breaking the Bank" (60 minutes), June 16th at 9pm on PBS (Check local listings) Since the U.S. economy slipped into free fall last year, FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk and his team have been going behind closed doors - on Wall Street and in Washington - to report the story. Their February program, "Inside the Meltdown," examined how, in just six months, the U.S. financial system unraveled. This week, for FRONTLINE's season finale, they've produced "Breaking the Bank," an inside story of the government's massive, ongoing intervention to save the financial system. "This is the story of the most important change in the relationship between government and private business in a generation," Kirk says. His focus is on Ken Lewis' Bank of America, and its controversial purchase of Merrill Lynch in September 2008 - a deal which continues to raise questions about the role played by the nation's top economic officials in the affairs of private banks. Kirk also examines one extraordinary moment last October when Henry Paulson, then Treasury secretary, gathered together the heads of the nation's largest banks and forced them to take $125 billion in public money. "I think we nationalized the banks in the United States on that day," former International Monetary Fund economist Simon Johnson says. You can listen to fresh interviews with both Kirk and Johnson in this week's FRONTLINE podcast if you go to http://feeds2.feedburner.com/FrontlinePodcastPbs Meanwhile, as Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis remains on the hot seat in Congress - and with his shareholders - tune in Tuesday to see what he told FRONTLINE about the Merrill deal, and the future of his bank. And hear as well from former Merrill CEO, John Thain - Kirk managed to interview both of these heavy hitters in this week's program. After the broadcast, visit our Web site for the full program streamed online, plus interviews (with video excerpts) and more background on the story. It's all at http://www.pbs.org/frontline/breakingthebank/ Ken Dornstein Senior Editor --------15 of 19-------- Why NPR Refuses to Report on the Single Payer Movement ... And What Should be Done About It NPR Watch By FELICE PACE CounterPunch June 12-14, 2009 On June 10th the House of Representatives held the first congressional hearing on proposals for Single Payer Health Insurance. Amy Goodman highlighted the hearing on Democracy Now. But neither National Public Radio's flagship news program (All Things Considered) nor its morning news program (Morning Edition) reported on the hearing. Instead, on June 11th, Morning Edition reported that President Obama is planning to conduct a town hall meeting on health care. With respect to the health insurance debate, what the President is planning to do (news via press release!) is apparently more news worthy than what the House of Representative had already done the day before. I did a search on NPR's web site. Results were slightly different for single payer and "single payer". Here are the results: "Single payer" search of all programs all time periods available: 157 hits 21 hits on single payer in 2009. 2009 hits: 1 hit on Talk of the Nation; 5 hits on Morning Edition ; 3 hits on NPR's Health Blog; 3 hits on All Things Considered; 5 hits on Tell Me More; 1 hit on Fresh Air; 3 hits on News and Notes. "Single payer" search of all programs all time periods available: 38 hits; 11 hits in 2009 2009 hits: 3 hits on All Things Considered; 3 hits on Morning Edition; 1 hit on NPR.s Health Blog; 1 hit on Talk of the Nation; 3 hits on Tell me More; These stories mention single payer. I can find no NPR news reports or other shows which actually focused on single payer or on the movement to achieve it. Why is NPR refusing to report on what 60% of US citizens and the majority of health professionals want? NPR's web site provides lists of foundation and individual major donors but not of corporate sponsors. For that list you need to go to their annual reports. The latest report available on line is for 2005. Health and Long-term Care corporate sponsors in 2005 were: $1 million+: Farmers Insurance Group of Companies, Prudential Financial $500,000 - $999,999: Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, Allstate Insurance Company, Northwestern Mutual Foundation, $250,000 - $499,999: AARP, The Hartford Financial Services Group, UnumProvident $100,000 . $249,999: Liberty Mutual Insurance Company I'd like to know how much money insurance companies which sell health insurance contributed to NPR in 2009 (so far) and in 2008. I've requested the information from NPR management. NPR's Ombudsman, Alicia B, Shepard, insists that "A firewall really does exist between the editorial and marketing sides of NPR to prevent NPR sponsors from influencing programming". In a May column Ms. Shepard described the process NPR uses to "prevent" sponsors from influencing programming.: "About one week in advance, NPR's corporate sponsorship division sends a schedule of funding credits to all NPR shows so they have an opportunity to identify conflicts before they air, said John King, operations manager. He says the schedules are emailed and hand-delivered to Morning Edition and All Things Considered". The influence of corporate sponsors is no less effective because it is not direct. As one listener John Smith, commented about the Ombudsman's May 2009 column cited above: "No, NPR isn't selling out, because there's nothing left to sell. Corporate funding removed its teeth long ago. Remember ADM, lysine price fixing and NPR?" I have been listening to NPR news programs for about 40 years. When I began listening NPR it was obvious that reporters and editors saw themselves as providing a PUBLIC alternative to mainstream (network) news. Now these folks see themselves as part of the mainstream... They act accordingly. This sort of influence - which results from unconscious identification rather than conscious choice - is both more insidious and more dangerous than conscious and direct pay-for-play corruption. Media watcher journalists have reported on corporate influence at NPR. Noting that several sponsors had pulled funding from NPR and Boston Area station WBUR over what the sponsors said was "a profoundly pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli bias," Dan Kennedy reported on The Boston Phoenix web site in 2001 that "so-called public radio today is, in many respects, public in name only". Kennedy concluded that "The ultimate accountability should be with the listeners, who can choose to listen or not, and to give or not. Yet as public radio is now constituted, corporate money is absolutely essential. It's a dilemma, and not one amenable to easy answers". Should we (i.e. the PUBLIC) simply give up on NPR, rename it National Corporate Radio and tune our radios to Alternative stations and networks? That course is certainly tempting. By all means tune in, stream, download and support KPFA, Democracy Now, Free Speech Radio News and other alternative radio news shows originating in your communities. But we should not abdicate our right to public radio that actually serves the public. Lots of taxpayer money still goes to NPR and the public radio system. Ironically, as a result of the recession NPR may be more dependent on those funds now than they have been for many years. Furthermore, NPR remains very dependent on contributions from individual listeners. Here's now NPR's web site reports sources of funding: 31% from listeners in the form of pledges, memberships, and other donations 20% from businesses via corporate underwriting 11% from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which is federally funded 10% from licensee support 9% from foundations and major gifts 5% from local and state governments, and 14% from all other sources. Clearly, NPR still values and covets its Public status - as well as the funding it receives from individual donors and from taxpayers via the federal government. This provides We the People with potential power to promote change at the network. But how can we leverage that potential influence into positive change? I suggest we deluge NPR with comments about their failure to report on single payer and the other movements, events and initiatives which America's corporate rulers and their shills don't want reported! That is what I did this morning when I sent the management, news shows and Ombudsman the data on "single payer" coverage presented above. We the People may or may not be able to trigger positive change at NPR; but we will never know unless we try. Keep building, promoting and listening to Alternative Radio; but put the pressure on NPR as well. Felice Pace has been a grassroots environmental, peace and justice activist since 1967. He lives and writes near the mouth of the Klamath River in Northwest California. [I gave up listening to corporate NPR years ago, along with a total boycott of corporate Bill Kling's corporate MPR. Two more examples of how the ruling class in a decade or two can subvert just about anything. And we let them, because we let them take more and more money (=power) from us, and don't want to protest because that wouldn't be Minnesota nice, and golly we know at least one nice rich person, so if other rich persons want to steal us blind, well, gee, would it be socially acceptable to complain? -ed] --------16 of 19-------- Profit Over Common Sense Congress and the Health Business Lobby By KEVIN ZEESE CounterPunch June 12-14, 2009 Yesterday, as Senator Tom Harkin (D-IO) left the health care hearing room he leaned over to me and said: "I used to sell insurance. The basic rule is the larger the pool the less expensive the health care. Today we have 1,300 separate pools -. separate health care plans - and that is why health care is so expensive; 700 pools would be more efficient and less expensive and one pool would be the least expensive. That's why single payer is the answer". Nothing like common sense. But, common sense was not on display in the Senate yesterday. Instead, the senate is seeking a path to the goal of universal coverage by protecting the least efficient model - the for-profit insurance industry that through waste, fraud, abuse and bureaucracy eats up 31% the cost of health care. Chris Dodd (D-CT) who chaired the hearing, standing in for the ailing Ted Kennedy, has received $2.1 million from insurance industry throughout his career, another $547,000 from the pharmaceutical industry, and $467,000 from health care professionals. Dodd opened the hearing stating the stark facts: We spend more than $2 trillion on health care every year - more than 18 percent of our GDP. By 2040, 34 cents of every dollar we spend could be on healthcare. That is not simply unacceptable - it's unsustainable. Premiums and out-of-pocket costs for individuals and families alike continue to skyrocket. It was evident, throughout the day that money was on the mind of the senators. But, they could not look into the face of the obviously most efficient path, single payer, instead they were going through contortions to protect their benefactors from the insurance industry. The senators and witnesses showed there is a lot of division over financing health care and no easy solution - so long as the first goal is to protect the insurance industry. Business groups wanted to tax employee benefits not take away the business tax credit for companies that provide health care. These are the only two big pots of money the senate sees. There was also talk about making Americans healthier to save money, certainly a good goal. But, Sen. McCain (R-AZ), probably correctly if rudely, mocked witnesses who said health care could be paid for by doing away with inefficiencies and wellness programs. McCain favors taxing health care benefits. Of course, both the business tax credit and not taxing health benefits are two reasons the health insurance industry is able to acquire massive wealth. These are annual, indirect taxpayer giveaways to the insurance industry that demonstrate how government is already paying for health care. Taxpayers are just doing so in the most inefficient way. Rather than actually using tax dollars to pay for health care, they are used to pay for insurance and all the profits and waste that goes with it. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the sponsor of S.703, the single payer bill in the Senate, finally got his chance to speak and railed against the waste of the health insurance model, criticized their massive profits and emphasized that health care was a human right. He pointed his question to the lone witness advocating for single payer of the dozen testifying, Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for National Health Plan. Flowers, who had been arrested just six weeks ago for protesting the exclusion of single payer from discussions in the Senate Finance Committee, went into a long list of reasons why the multi-payer system is so expensive - inefficiencies built into the system, insurance companies making massive profits while people died from lack of health care access, hospitals needing massive billing departments creating bigger administrative staff than nursing staff, doctors spending 20% of their overhead on dealing with the insurance industry, fee for service payments that lead to unecessary treatments and expensive, often unneeded tests, malpractice litigation because patients do not have access to health care to bad health care outcomes. . . Flowers was still going strong, the list was incomplete, when Sanders cut her off, saying I only have a few minutes for questioning. Sitting next to Flowers was the CEO of Aetna Insurance, Ronald Williams. The senators fawned over him, except for Sanders who pointed out Medicare was more popular than Aetna. Williams makes anywhere from $13 million annually in salary and stock according to Insurance Industry News to $30.86 million annually according to Forbes. Insurance Industry News reports that if Aetna grows by 15% by 2010 Williams gets an addition $4.3 million. Is he not the perfect example of what is wrong with health care in America? Profits are the top priority of corporate interests, and usually short term profits. Should the insurance industry be striving to grow so rapidly when they already gobble up too many health care dollars? The senate also struggled with how to make sure everyone is covered with health insurance. Again the divisions were obvious. Business groups said there should not be an employer mandate, but rather an individual mandate. Unions said there should be an employer mandate not an individual mandate. Big businesses said there should be no subsidy for small businesses that would be unfair to big businesses. Republicans scoffed at the idea of expanding Medicaid to more of the working poor - too expensive, unaffordable, they pointed out. The public insurance option was described as unfair to the insurance industry and too expensive to implement. The Democrats squirmed uncomfortably at choices that they know will upset some powerful interest group. What a mess! The effort to protect the insurance industry at all costs is making real health care reform impossible. Maybe, because the Democrats want to do something, anything, so badly they will find a way to pass something, but if they do it will not work, it will be very costly and the group that will benefit most clearly will be the health insurance industry which will reap hundreds of billions in corporate welfare every year from the deform of health care in America. Of course, incumbents who support it will benefit with campaign donations from the industry. Pay to play politics on display in America. Margaret Flowers, MD was the first witness to testify at the senate hearing on June 12. Her comments focused on health care as a human right. She pointed out how FDR was the first to try and put in place a social security system that included a single payer health care system. And, how years of trying the "uniquely American approach" of the market solution - for-profit health care - had failed the country and put health care on a path to government deficit with health care costs already a cause in two-thirds of bankruptcies. She urged the senate to not tinker with a broken system but instead to take a new path and adopt a national health plan with single payer as the financing system. Sadly, there were four doctors on the panel and only one, Flowers, who spoke of health care as a human right. Perhaps the AMA was the most despicable. Not only did they oppose single payer - something supported by 60% of doctors according to a survey of the AMA data base - but they even opposed the weak public insurance option. The AMA spokesperson said they would only support market approaches. No wonder the AMA is shrinking rapidly. While not long ago it represented 70% of American doctors, they are now down to only 30%. At this hearing, their callous disregard of the needs of patients and their disregard of the opinions of doctors showed why they are a shell of an organization. Sen. Sanders pointed out the historic breakthrough of having the first witness for single payer being allowed to testify as part of the health care reform discussion. The audience began to applaud, Sanders warned "be careful, you might get arrested". The day before this hearing a House subcommittee held a session on single payer health care. One witness Dr. Walter Tsou, a University of Pennsylvania professor, former health commissioner and an adviser to Physicians for a National Health Program responded to the claim that single payer was too radical saying "Our most famous radical document begins with the words, 'We the People.' Not 'We the Insurers,'" he said. "It is time for our own generation's revolution." And, it will take the people speaking out and getting active to make real health care reform possible. If you don't want to see another massive transfer of wealth to the insurance industry while Americans continue to lack health care, you need to take action. Tell your representatives that you want a national health plan funded by a single payer system. The insurers are working hard, the American people have to work harder. The time is now. Kevin Zeese is the executive director of ProsperityAgenda.US which is working for an economy for all and not just the elites. --------17 of 19-------- Following Clinton's Doomed Path How Obama is Blowing the Chance for Real Health Care Reform By DAVE LINDORFF CounterPunch June 15, 2009 If you want to fix the disaster that is called the American healthcare system, the first thing to do is to clearly point out what its major failings are, and there are two of these. The first is cost. America is the most expensive or one of the most expensive places in the world to get sick or injured. The corollary of that is that it is one of the best places to make a killing if you are in the medical business, whether as a doctor, a hospital company, a pharmaceutical firm or a nursing home owner. The second is access. One in six Americansa - total of 50 million people at latest count - have no way to pay for that care. Too young for Medicare, too "well off" for Medicaid, but too poor to buy private health insurance or too sick to be admitted into a plan, or employed by a company that doesn't provide health benefits, these people get no medical care until they get so sick that they are brought into a hospital emergency room where they get treated (often too late) at public expense, or at the hospital's expense, with the cost shifted onto taxpayers or onto insured patients' premiums. Any reform of this atrocious "system" must address these two major failings or it is no reform at all. And that's where all the various versions of Obamacare fall flat. Simply put, you cannot solve either of these problems by leaving the payment system for medical care in the hands of the private insurance industry, since the whole paradigm of insurance is to make money by keeping high-risk people out of the insured pool, and by keeping reimbursements and coverage for premium payers as low as possible. Having a so-called "public option" plan working in competition with private insurance plans will not solve this problem. Either the public option will become like the private options - trimming benefits and rejecting some applicants - or it will become a dumping ground for all the high-cost, high-risk people that the private sector insurance industry doesn't want. At that point, the public plan will become a huge cost burden on the taxpayer, who will begin demanding that it cut back in the benefits it provides, taking us right back to where we started. The fact that the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress are both raising the issue of the high cost of health care "reform," and are talking about ways to raise revenues to pay for it tells us all we need to know about the alleged "reform" schemes they are contemplating. They are doomed and, even if implemented, will not work. Real reform of the American health care system would not cost money. It would save money. There is a level of dishonesty in what passes for the debate over health care "reform" in both Congress and the media that is stunning in its brazenness and/or venality. Of course real reform would cost more in government spending. But that is because real reform would remove the cost of medical care from both employers and from workers (who over the last 20 years have been shouldering an increasing share of their own medical care). And that shift would mean more profits for US companies, which would free up more money for wages, and it would mean less money deducted from paychecks, meaning higher incomes for workers. If President Obama had any political courage at all, he'd simply get on TV and say this: I will create a plan that will cover everyone, lift the burden of paying for healthcare from individuals and employers, and have the government pay for it all. You the taxpayer will pay for this plan with higher taxes, but you will no longer have any significant medical bills, you will no longer have health insurance premiums deducted from your paycheck, your employer will no longer be paying for employee medical coverage, and you will never have to worry about losing health benefits again, even if you are laid off. (Incidentally, eliminating employer-funded health insurance would go a long way towards allowing workers to fight to have unions, and to strike for contracts, by ending the threat that they would lose their benefits.) Of course, to do that the president would have to be talking about what is variously known as national health care or a single-payer plan, in which the government is the insurer of health care for all. This option isn't even being discussed in this so-called debate. As I've written earlier, even though there is an excellent single-payer system in place that has been running for a third of a century just to the north in Canada - a system where patients have absolute freedom to choose their doctor, get instant access to a hospital and to expert specialist care in emergencies, and have a healthier society by every statistical measure - all at a fraction of the staggering cost of healthcare in the US, not one Canadian expert working in that system has been invited down to discuss its workings with the White House or with members of Congress. There has been a lot of negative propaganda spread about Canada's single-payer system, by right wing, business-funded "no-think" tanks, and by medical industry lobbies from the American Medical Assn. to the pharmaceutical industry, but no government committee or agency has bothered, or dared, to bring in Canadian experts to respond to and debunk that propaganda. The corporate liars talk about waiting lists and lack of access to CAT-scan or MRI machines. But all we really need to know about the Canadian, and other similar single-payer systems, is that nowhere that they have been instituted have they been later terminated, even when, as in Canada, right-wing governments have been elected to power. The public, whether in Canada, or France, or England, or Taiwan or elsewhere, loves their public health insurance system, whatever flaws or problems with underfunding those systems may have at certain times. Trying ot eliminate such systems would be political suicide for a conservative government, as even arch-free-marketer British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who never met a government activity that she didn't want to privatize, learned. Right now, with half of all Americans reportedly fearing that they could lose their jobs, and with one in five Americans reportedly either unemployed, or involuntarily working part-time, we have a situation where a majority of Americans either have no health insurance, have lost their health insurance, or are in danger of losing their employer-funded health insurance. It is a unique moment when a bold president and Congress could act to end private health insurance and establish a public single-payer insurance plan to insure and provide access to affordable medical care to all Americans. Instead of this, we are being offered half measures or no measures at all by leaders who are shamelessly in hock to the health care industry or who are afraid of its power. 17 years ago, the Clintons had a similar opportunity to grab the health care industry by the neck, strangle it, and produce a single-payer alternative. They blew that chance by trying to keep the health care greed-heads happy. Now, almost a generation later, we have another shot at it, and Obama and his Democratic Congress are doing the same thing again. There is a strong likelihood that they will fail, like the Clintons before them. If they succeed in coming up with some kind of hybrid public-private Frankenstein of a system that includes a public insurance option, it will simply delay the inevitable disaster, as medical costs, already 20 percent of GDP - the highest share of any economy in the world - continue to soar, and as the cost of the public plan, which will inevitably become a dumping ground for high-cost patients, becomes politically untenable. In the end, we will have even more expensive and inaccessible healthcare than we have today. It doesn't have to be this way, but only if Americans rip their eyes away from their crisp new digital-image TV screens and start demanding real health care reform will we get honest reform. A good place to begin would be to start writing and phoning your local media outlets to ask why they are not reporting on single-payer, and in particular on the single-payer bill sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), which is being silently blocked and killed by his colleagues in the Democratic congressional leadership and by the White House. A good place to begin would also be to start calling your elected representatives to demand that they support Rep. Conyers' single-payer bill. Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin.s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at dlindorff [at] mindspring.com --------18 of 19-------- Does Israel Really Have a Right to Exist? by Susan Abulhawa June 15th, 2009 Dissident Voice Following Netanyahu's much anticipated policy speech, politicians and journalists, like mindless automatons, have set about repeating Israel's tired mantra that Palestinians should recognize Israel's right to exist. Never mind the fact that the PLO and Palestine Authority have obliged this ludicrous call, not once, but four times. And never mind that Israel has always denied Palestine's right to exist, not only as a nation, but as individuals seeking a dignified life in our own homeland. Does anyone find it interesting that Israel is the only country on the planet going around with this incessant insistence that everyone recognize her right to exist? Given that we Palestinians are the ones who have been dispossessed, occupied, and oppressed, one might expect that we should be the ones making such a demand. But that isn't the case. Why? Because our right to exist as a nation is self-evident. We are the natives of that land! We know we have that right. The world knows it. That's why Palestine doesn't need Israel or any other country to recognize her right to exist. We are the rightful heirs to that land and this can be verified legally, historically, culturally, and even genetically. And as such, the only true legitimacy Israel will ever have must come from us abdicating our inheritance, our history, and our culture to Israel. That's why Israel insists we declare she had a right to take everything we ever had - from home and property, cemeteries, churches and mosques, to culture and history and hope. Israel is a country that was founded by Europeans who came to Palestine, formed terrorist gangs who set about a systematic ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinians from their homes on 78% of Historic Palestine in 1948. Those Palestinians and their descendants still languish in refugee camps. Israel attempted a similar scenario in 1967 when they conquered the remainder of Palestine, but Palestinians then couldn't be dislodged from their homes as easily. This remains true, despite 40 years of Israel's violent and oppressive military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Despite home demolitions, land confiscations, rapacious building of Jewish-only colonies, endless checkpoints, targeted assassinations, bombings of schools, hospitals, municipal buildings and malls, closures and denials; despite the massive human rights abuses, the imprisonment and torture of men women and children alike, the separation of families, the daily humiliations; despite the massive killings - Palestinians remain. We still resist. We still live, love, and have babies. As much as we can, we rebuild what Israel destroys. Such are rights! Rights are inherent and inherently just, like the right to live with dignity and to be masters of one's own fate. It is a human right not be persecuted and oppressed because you happen to belong to one religion and not another. That Israelis simply take property belonging to Palestinians is not a right. That is theft. That Israel cut off the movement of food, medicine and other basic goods to the Gaza strip, causing massive malnutrition, economic collapse and misery because Palestinians elected particular leaders is not a right. That is an affront to humanity. That Israel rain death from the skies on an already battered and starved Gaza, murdering over 3000 human beings and maiming thousands more in a single month is not a right. It's a war crime. That Israel has employed every imperialistic tactic to subjugate, humiliate, break, and expel an entire nation of principally unarmed civilians because of their religion is not a right. It is a moral obscenity. That every Jew from Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Australia be entitled to dual citizenship, one in their native country and one in Israel, while the rightful heirs to the land linger as refugees without citizenship anywhere is not a right. It is an outrage. I'm sure my words will be twisted in some way to imply that I'm advocating pushing Israelis "into the sea" or some other asinine claim. So let me be explicit: We all have the right to exist, to live, to be masters of our own destiny. We all have the right not to be oppressed by others. Such rights are inherent to every individual living in that land: Jew, Muslim, or Christian. But Israelis do not have the right to create particular religious demographics by causing the demise of the natives. To be a Jewish [or Muslim or Christian] state, where privilege is accorded to those belonging to a particular religion at the expense of those who do not is not a right. A nation that discriminates against and oppresses those who do not belong to a particular religious, racial, or ethnic group is not a light onto nations. It is a blight. And to recognize such racism as a human or national right goes against every tenet of international law. It defies the basic sense that the worth of a human being should not be measured by their religion, any more than it should be measured by the color of their skin or the language they speak. Susan Abulhawa is the author of The Scar of David, a work of historic fiction. She is also the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine, www.PlaygroundsforPalestine.org and Board Member of Deir Yassin Remembered. She can be reached at: sjabulhawa [at] yahoo.com. --------19 of 19-------- Southern Greed During the Civil War A New Perspective on the Confederacy By HEATHER GRAY CounterPunch June 12-14, 2009 This year being the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, an abundance of new scholarship about the 19th century is now available. Some have questioned the long-standing myths about Lincoln but also of the Civil War itself and the Confederacy. With an amalgam of earlier scholarship, these studies have included a consideration of the impact of the hedonism of the southern slaveholding planters along with their complicity in the Confederate defeat. This article is, in fact, a brief summary of that complicity and offers a fresh look of the South during the Civil War, which includes narrative on the South.s battle with itself. The focus is mostly about the Civil War and its impact on non-slaveholding southern whites. It is largely taken from the recent work of historian David Williams at Valdosta State University and his excellent book Bitterly Divided: The South's Inner Civil War (2008). The myth of the "Lost Cause" emanating from the defeated South after the Civil War is of an antebellum genteel planter class with its happy contented slaves. God was responsible for slavery, the elite said, not the South, as the South was but civilizing an inferior Black race through its contact with the superior white civilization under the auspices of slavery. The South also maintained, as it re-wrote history, that the white supremacist South was unified in its fight against the marauding North during the Civil War. But there is another story that has been debated for the past century and half! What angered the Southern plantation elite was that with the 1860 election of Lincoln as president, they knew that their hopes of spreading slavery into the western territories were at an end. Lincoln wanted the movement west to provide opportunities for "free labor" white homesteaders to fulfill the Jeffersonian dream of agrarian independence. He did not want slavery in the west nor did he want black folks moving west as freed men. Plus, first and foremost, Lincoln wanted to save the Union. The South realized with the election that it was not going to have its way with the Republican Party or with the northern Democrats. Karl Marx, as ever the profound analyst, wrote in the German "Die Presse" in 1861, "When the Democrats of the North declined to go on playing the part of the poor whites of the South, the Southern elite took their sword from the scabbard" (Marx,1861). The southern elite also faced a growing poor white population that was becoming harder to control. Poor white voters were increasing and they were making more demands through their franchise. Some have inferred, including Williams, that one reason the South went to war was because the elite were more concerned about poor whites than anything else. "The poor hate the rich" was the cry from South Carolina planter James Henry Hammond, who went on to say that the poor make war on the rich "especially with universal suffrage" (Williams, 2008). The elite began to explore ways to control the vote through class-based restrictions on white suffrage. Placing this "class" antagonism and passion of poor whites into a war was certainly one way to control them and diffuse the anger. By expanding further west, the South could also provide more opportunities for poor whites to become slaveholders - at least the hope of it. Slavery, after all, required large acreage and mass labor to be profitable and because land in the South was being "exhausted" by mono-crops, such as cotton, there was less fertile land available. In addition, slaveholders in the South were also in the business of "raising" and "selling" slaves and they wanted to expand that market. Regarding the slave market, Marx wrote, "Indeed, by force of circumstances South Carolina has already been transformed in part into a slave-raising state, since it already sells slaves to the sum of four million dollars yearly to the states of the extreme South and South-west" (Marx 1861). Marx contended that more territory was, in fact, essential for slavery's survival. Marx again writes, "Only by acquisition and the prospect of acquisition of new Territories, as well as by filibustering expeditions, is it possible to square the interests of these poor whites with those of the slaveholders, to give their restless thirst for action a harmless direction and to tame them with the prospect of one day becoming slaveholders themselves" (Marx, 1861). But slaveholders also had political ambitions and were obviously aspiring imperialists - they wanted their own colonies in the western territories from which they could gain even more control over the U.S. government by adding more states to the slaveocracy. All over the South, however, there were pockets of communities opposed to the South's secession and angry at the arrogance of the ruling elite for seceding. The planters, after all, controlled the secession conventions and the decisions from the state conventions were not sent to the people for a vote. Some communities even declared secession from the Confederacy itself. Many wanted to avoid what they thought would be an invasion by the North. West Virginia, for one, that was composed largely of small non-slaveholding white farmers, broke off from the planter slaveholding "old" Virginia and sided with the Union. Ultimately many in the South recognized that the "Confederacy was in a two-front war: one against the North and one against it's own people" (Williams, 2008). It was against this backdrop that the Civil War began and in which Williams writes that the resistance and desertion of poor southern whites during the war was to begin, and of the resistance of southern blacks both slave and free. Most of the Confederate soldiers were non-slaveholding farmers and many acquiesced to the war but conditions intensified and discontent grew everywhere. It didn't take long for non-slaveholding white farmers and other poor whites to recognize that this was a rich man's war being fought by poor men. Even after the firing at Fort Sumter in 1861that launched the beginning of the war, officers began to go home, but enlisted men were forbidden to resign. Williams reports that the class distinction of this policy was not lost on the southern soldiers. The non-slaveholding farmers in the war were largely subsistence farmers. They grew what the family needed, rather than commodity mono-crops such as cotton or rice. Further, they didn't have enough land for these crops nor did they have the labor. Many describe the South's non-slaveholding yeoman farmers as the essence of the independent agrarian America, like their farming brothers in the North. As Steven Hahn writes in the The Roots of Southern Populism: Yeoman Farmers and the Transformation of the Georgia Upcountry, 1850-1890., the farmers in north Georgia didn't need the planters telling them what to complain about regarding the Yankees. They simply wanted to be left alone and didn't want anyone threatening their way of life. But off to war they went. These were not military men, however. They were farmers trying to protect their region from an invading army. Hahn states, however, that the north Georgia yeoman farmers were among the largest community of deserters in the state. After the first major battle and Confederate victory of the war in the "First Battle of Bull Run" in July 1861, Confederate soldiers left for home in droves to all areas of the South. They had won a major battle and for many the conflict was over. But the fact remains that wives across the region were writing their husbands to come home. They were needed to plant the crops. Not long into the war, families began to struggle and starve and the requests from the families to come home were too compelling. At one point during the war, according to Williams, two-thirds of the Confederate army had deserted. Deserters also needed to hide from the authorities, resulting in an underground system being created throughout the South to assist and hide them, but many were ultimately killed or jailed. The book Cold Mountain (1997) by Charles Frazier and the subsequent movie graphically portray the brutality of Confederate officials in their quest for deserters and the disdain for their families. But there were also anti-war and peace associations (mostly underground efforts) across the South that organized to protect deserters, help union prisoners escape as well as attempt to undermine the Confederate authority. Examples are the Atlanta Union Circle, the Closet Fellowship in Montgomery, the Union Association in Charleston and countless others. Another was the "Heroes of America" formed in North Carolina that spread through South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The group encouraged desertion of Confederate soldiers and promised to them protect once home. All across the "mountain South" there were efforts to assist deserters and those who had "run afoul" of the Confederate authorities to hide and/or leave the South. One guide, "Daniel Ellis, was said to have piloted over four thousand people out of the Confederacy. In north Georgia's Union County, Austin Mason organized a chain of safe houses to shelter prisoners and deserters as they fled north through the mountains" (Williams, 2008). Because of the high rate of desertion, in April 1862 the Confederate government under President Jefferson Davis conscripted southerners into the army. It was the first general Conscription Act in the United States. Williams notes that under the Act, men with money could pay a fee to stay out of the military. As a result, bribing officials became a common practice. Plus, there was the most hated provision that allowed slaveholders with 20 slaves or more to be exempted from the military. Tennessee Private Sam Watkins said, "We wanted twenty negroes. Negro property became very valuable, and there was raised the howl of 'rich man's war, poor man's fight'" from this time until the end of the war a soldier was simply a machine. We cursed the war - we cursed the Southern Confederacy. All our pride and valor was gone. (Williams, 2008). Partly to appease the anger over exemption, the planters essentially said that they would grow food for the Confederate army and take care of the farmer's families. They had the most fertile land and labor after all. But the fact is, the planters did not grow food as promised and southerners starved both at home and in the military. As the price of cotton went up considerably during the war, the planters grew cotton as well as tobacco instead. "Common folk quickly learned that planter patriotism was more apparent than real. Food production never came close to meeting demand because planters devoted far too much acreage to cotton and tobacco. In 1863, cotton production reached its second-highest level on record to that time, declining after that year due in large art to rising slave resistance. Even so, labor devoted to cotton in the growing alone, not to mention processing and transport, amounted to 2.3 million man-years between 1861 and 1864, more than went into defending the Confederacy"(Williams, 2008). Further, rather than insisting on the planters growing food, the Confederacy ultimately "impressed" 10% of farm production for the war effort. The problem was that many of those responsible for impressing the food off farms paid little attention to the 10% provision and took everything they could find. This made matters worse, of course! In the meantime, food riots largely organized by women took place throughout the region from Virginia to Texas. "It was the same all over the South. A letter to Florida's Governor Milton reported that starving soldiers families in Hernando County 'are becoming clamorous for meat, and are killing people's cows wherever they can get hold of them'. About a dozen women in Floyd County, Virginia ransacked a Confederate supply depot and stole a large supply of bacon. Fifty miles to the west a dozen mountain women brandishing pistols and knives descended on Abington and looted the town. The raid's success inspired a second band of women, who shortly afterward swept through Abingdon taking what was left. (Williams, 2008). Williams also describes how deserters formed guerilla groups throughout the south to steal food off plantations and to hide from conscript officers. Some of the groups were composed of escaped slaves and whites that at times resulted in a "reverse underground railroad" as slaves organized to help them. Slaves in plantations helped the groups secure food, helped them hide and also provided information about safe havens north to the Union lines. One Union soldier, John Kellogg, who was assisted by blacks to escape through the Georgia mountains, was impressed with what he called the slave "telegraph line". Black resistance and efforts to undermine the Confederacy were impressive and significant in contributing to the defeat of the Confederacy. They were credited with burning ships and storehouses to spying and destabilizing plantations. Throughout the South, plantation owners began to fear their slaves and were shocked at slave resistance to authority. The tables had turned! What has been described here is but a summary. Williams outlines in detail the tremendous discontent and suffering during the war. Ultimately, there were 300,000 white southerners who fought for the Union and 200,000 blacks. Nearly a quarter of the Union army was of southerners. Williams ends his book by stating that: "Most southerners eventually came to feel that they would be better off with the war over and the Union restored. To many the Confederacy was the real enemy. It conscripted their men, impressed their supplies, and starved them out. It favored the rich and oppressed the poor. It made war on those who dared withhold their support and made life miserable for the rest. One South Carolina farmer, after having his livestock impressed, spoke for many when he insisted that 'the sooner this damned Government fell to pieces the better it would be for us'" (Williams, 2008). Scholarship on the South from the poor non-slaveholding white perspective is a significant contribution. Interestingly, Williams offers more of a class analysis of the Confederacy than is usually the case. Small white farmers and poor whites generally are stereotyped as those who are browbeaten, controlled and manipulated by the wealthy southern elite with rarely a voice of their own. In this article I have not addressed the issue of race, however, and the attitudes of poor whites toward slavery, which is also important. Nevertheless, this short article is offering a new and refreshing look at challenges by poor whites to the social and economic arrogance of the southern elite during the Civil War. This is also yet another narrative on the perils of concentrated wealth of the likes of southern slaveholders and unfettered capitalists of today, and the depths to which they will go for their own benefit at the tragic expense of everyone else. In this instance, however, thanks to their greed the southern slaveholders managed to defeat the very goals they aspired to achieve. While tens of thousands of Southerners and Northerners suffered because of their greed, contrary to their aspirations, the slaveholders managed to help save the union and end slavery. Williams also contends that one of the reasons we've not heard this version of the war is because both the South and the North have had a vested interest in the myths. The South wanted the world to think that the "white" South stood united against the enemy, which makes it easier to victimize itself. Although the North had its resistance as well, the North has had an interest in a version of the war that stresses its victory over a united South, rather than one that was split apart. Williams and others are now offering scholarship to challenge these myths, and/or have brought forward previous writings on the Confederacy. Hopefully this new scholarship trend will prevail even and especially some 150 years after the Civil War. References: Hahn, Steven. The Roots of Southern Populism: Yeoman Farmers and the Transformation of the Georgia Upcountry, 1850-1890. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983. Marx, Karl. The North American Civil War. Die Presse, No. 293, October 25, 1861, in Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 19. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1964. Williams, David. Bitterly Divided: The South's Inner Civil War. New York: Free Press, 2008. Heather Gray produces "Just Peace" on WRFG-Atlanta 89.3 FM covering local, regional, national and international news. She has been a part of the food security movement for 18 years in Africa, Asia and the United States. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia and can be reached at hmcgray [at] earthlink.net. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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