Progressive Calendar 06.15.09
From: David Shove (
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]>
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] Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022

--------2 of 19--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
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]>
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]>
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:

--------6 of 19--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
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

--------7 of 19--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
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]>
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]>
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

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

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]

--------10 of 19--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
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

--------11 of 19--------

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
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.

Pax Salons ( )
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]>
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 <>
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

--------13 of 19--------

From: Oxfam Action Corps - MN < [at]>
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 or
email Leah S. at minnesota [at]

--------14 of 19--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
From: FRONTLINE Bulletin
Subject: Banks/Frontline 6.16 9pm

- 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

"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

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

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
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

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,

$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

20% from businesses via corporate underwriting

11% from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which is federally

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?

--------16 of 19--------

Profit Over Common Sense
Congress and the Health Business Lobby
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

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
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,

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

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]

--------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

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, and Board Member of Deir Yassin
Remembered. She can be reached at: sjabulhawa [at]

--------19 of 19--------

Southern Greed During the Civil War
A New Perspective on the Confederacy
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

"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.


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]

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