Progressive Calendar 06.28.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 2009 06:24:43 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   06.28.09

1. Stillwater vigil   6.28 1pm
2. Labor/single payer 6.28 3pm
3. Really free market 6.28 4pm
4. Vs AIPAC           6.28 6:30pm
5. Stop the reroute   6.28 8pm

6. Underground RR     6.29 6pm
7. Marty/Gov/Merlin's 6.29 6pm
8. Peace walk         6.29 6pm RiverFalls WI
9. Amnesty Intl       6.29 7pm

10. Marie Marchand - I want my money back! (Pres Obama!)
11. Mike Elk       - Growing factory occupations may break the banks
12. Wendell Potter - The health insurance industry v health care reform

--------1 of 12---------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 6.28 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to
<http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560


--------2 of 12--------

From: "Of the People" <info [at] jamesmayer.org>
Subject: Labor/single payer 6.28 3pm

NewYork Union Local Shows How Labor Is Fighting for Single Payer
Of the People with James Mayer
This Sunday at 3:00 P.M.
AM950 KTNF or www.am950ktnf.com

What Does it Take to Make Obama Listen?  Check Out How The Troy New York
Area Labor Council is Helping to Build Our National Groundswell &
SOLIDARITY for Single Payer Health Care.

Join us on Of the People with James Mayer and the President of the Troy,
N.Y.  Area Labor Council, Mike Keenan this Sunday, June 28, 2009 at 3 p.m.
on AM950 KTNF (formerly Air America Minnesota) or, if out of the broadcast
area, stream us at http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen. Our on-air call-in
number is 952-946-6205.

Mike Keenan will show us, step by step how community solidarity is being
developed and is yielding an ever larger and stronger force to exert on
our elected representatives and our President to establish a single payer
health care system.

A recent study released by the Institute for Health and Socio-economic
Policy supports the idea that single payer health care can drive the
economic recovery and create new jobs.  The study was presented to members
of Congress by the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care.

Again, locally, you can join us by tuning your radio to 950 AM in your
car, and in your home, or if you're not local, stream us
:http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen (You will be asked to put in a MN zip
code).  Again, the on-air call-in number is 952-946-6205

Off-air, you can reach us by calling James Mayer at 651-238-3740, by
e-mail at info [at] jamesmayer.org, or by U.S. mail: James
Mayer, 970 Raymond Ave., St. Paul, MN  Zip Code 55114.


--------3 of 12--------

From: Michele <MRockne [at] gmail.com>
Subject: Really free market 6.28 4pm

Really, Really Free Market Organizer's Meeting
4:00pm, Sunday, June 28th
Powderhorn Park, at the bottom of the hill by the stage

Yes! The Really, Really Free Market is back!

"What's a RRFM?" you say? It's a potluck, swap meet, skill share, talent
show, and a block party all rolled into one. And best of all...it's FREE!
That's right, no buying, selling, or trading - just people sharing with
one another. Everything is fair game: food, clothes, books, furniture,
art, skills, stories, anything you can think of to bring and share.

Sound like a great idea? Then come to the organizer's meeting and let's
make it happen.

Bring experience, ideas, friends, or just enthusiasm and a desire to build
community. With the economy in crisis, let's prove that we can take care
of ourselves and each other outside of the frame of capitalism.

Because there really is enough for everyone. Because sharing is always
more fun than exchanging for profit. Because it's high time you met
the neighbors. Because we're all in this together.


--------4 of 12--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Vs AIPAC 6.28 6:30pm

Demonstrate Against the Powerful Pro-Military Zionist Lobby: AIPAC
Exposed! Sunday, June 28, 6:30 p.m. Minneapolis Marriott West, 9960
Wayzata Boulevard, St. Louis Park.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobbies both the
Democrats and Republicans to unconditionally support more U.S. military
aid to Israel. AIPAC is seen as one of the most powerful lobbies in
Washington, D.C. and politicians of both parties are more concerned about
gaining AIPAC's approval than justice for Palestinians. "AIPAC Power +
U.S. Dollars = Death and Destruction in Palestine!"

Organized by: the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), the
Coalition for Palestinian Rights, the Minnesota Coalition on Gaza and
others. WAMM is a member of the Minnesota Coalition on Gaza. FFI: Email
ijan.tc [at] gmail.com.


--------5 of 12--------

From: Amanda Luker <amanda [at] pinkslipmedia.org>
Subject: Stop the reroute 6.28 8pm

In an annual tradition, Arise! Bookstore will host a series of free weekly
events throughout the summer, each with a different theme reflecting the
diverse interests of volunteers at the collectively run bookstore. The
events will take place each Sunday night at 8pm, opening with a speaker or
performance, and ending with the screening of a film after sundown.

June 28  Discussion with Minnehaha Free State activists.
FILM  Stop the Re-Route: Taking a Stand on Sacred Land.

Arise! Bookstore 2441 Lyndale Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55406
www.arisebookstore.org


--------6 of 12--------

From: deeq Abdi <abdippehrc [at] gmail.com>
Subject: Underground RR 6.29 6pm

There is an Underground Rail Road Volunteer meeting.
Monday June 29 6:00-7:00
Sabathani Community center room 126

The Underground Rail Road is project put together by founding PPEHRC
members. The reasoning behind the foundation of the program is to let
neighbors help one another where social service organizations fall short.
So far PPEHRC has used the Underground Rail Road Project to find free
storage places for families facing evictions, find house-hold items for
those in need, short term housing, volunteers, transportation to name a
few.


--------7 of 12--------

From: "Daniel Fanning, Campaign Manager " <daniel [at] johnmarty.org>
Subject: Marty/Gov/Merlin's 6.29 6pm

John Marty for Governor 2010
Fund Raiser at Merlin's Rest Pub (3601 E. Lake St., MPLS) 6/29, 6-9 pm

Marty for MN Movement Going Strong!
The 2009 Legislative Session clearly demonstrated the need for a new
direction for Minnesota and new, bold leadership in the Governor's Office.
More than ever, Minnesota needs visionary, ethical and courageous
leadership guided by Minnesota Values - that's exactly why we need John
Marty as the next Governor.

Senator Marty has been one of the strongest opponents to the recent cuts
to Health & Human Services and Education - cuts that officials from
Governor Pawlenty's own administration admit will hurt the "the poorest of
the poor" and the "sickest of the sick." Senator Marty is the candidate
that can best restore our great State to what it can and should be.
Instead of kicking the poorest residents off health care, a Marty
Administration will vigorously push to enact the MN Health Plan - a single
plan that will give all Minnesotans guaranteed, affordable health care for
all their medical needs including prescription drugs, dental care, mental
health and chemical dependency treatment. This comprehensive plan will
create jobs, save the state (tax payers) money, and will literally save
lives!

John is the ONLY candidate with a plan to enact Single-Payer Universal
Health Care. Minnesota can lead the nation in Health Care Coverage, but we
must support a candidate with the bold leadership and progressive vision
MN needs. We must support a candidate that will take on the special
interest money - one that has a proven track record of standing up to the
health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. That candidate is John
Marty.

The Marty Campaign is very proud to be picking up strong support all
throughout the state. On Friday, Senator Marty was the winner of a Straw
Poll conducted at the Social Work Convention at the U of M-St. Paul
Campus. The poll included all current and potential candidates for
Governor. These social workers supported John because they know he will
continue to provide the integrity, common sense and bold leadership he is
known for. John has built that reputation while serving in the State
Senate for the last twenty two years, and will bring those principals to
the Governor's Office.

The Marty for MN Movement is going very strong! Last week we made stops in
Mankato, Fulda, Spring Lake Park, Duluth, Pine City, and all throughout
the Metro Area. John also attended two special events to proudly offer
support and solidarity - the Candlelight Vigil for Dr. Tiller and the
Pride in the Park Picnic in Pine City.

The next couple weeks will bring us to more great communities including -
Rochester, Savage, Hibbing, Minneapolis, Albert Lea, Montevideo,
Cambridge, Roseville, New Ulm, Austin, St. Louis Park, Winona, St. Cloud,
Mound, Stillwater and back to Duluth - just to name a few. Senator Marty
will also be participating in a panel discussion at the Minnesota
Environmental Partnership (MEP) Panel in St. Paul.

This is more than a political campaign - it's an opportunity to stand up
for our shared vision and values. We can and will win this race, but we
need your support to make it happen. John is not a wealthy, self-financed
candidate. He does not accept special interest money. No corporate
contributions. No PAC Money. No lobbyist money. That's why your support is
especially important.

Volunteer at the Marty for Governor Campaign Office-
2395 University Ave, Suite #303, St. Paul, MN (651) 646-4468
For more info please contact: info [at] johnmarty.org


--------8 of 12--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Peace walk 6.29 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


--------9 of 12--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 6.29 7pm

Augustana Homes Seniors Group meets on Monday, June 29th, from 7:00 to
8:00 p.m. in the party room of the 1020 Building, 1020 E 17th Street,
Minneapolis. For more information contact Ardes Johnson at 612/378-1166 or
johns779 [at] tc.umn.edu.


--------10 of 12--------

I Want My Money Back! (Pres. Obama!)
by Marie Marchand
Sunday, June 28, 2009
CommonDreams.org

I want my money back.

I gave $20 a week for seven months, plus $60 every once in a while for a
t-shirt and sticker.  I gave of my modest purse joyfully.  Once I add that
all up, it makes a grand total of... $106 billion?!  Wait a minute, I
thought I was supporting change I could believe in, not more of the same
bloodshed and war!

Betrayal is a part of life.  After awhile, you just come to expect it.
Yet, the initial shock always hits you as a surprise.  Alas, the nature of
betrayal.  Humans are vulnerable to being betrayed because underneath our
husky shells, our pain and hardened hearts, we are soft and trustful
creatures.  We want to believe in people.

I'm not that young, so I possess some cynicism.  But I'm not that old
either, so I manage some idealism.  Sure, I am used to being betrayed by
my government.  But I thought my days of calling the White House in tears
were over.  To think that Barack Obama preyed on this naive hope in me and
millions like me is unforgivable.

I expect the Republicans to throw money at the Military Industrial
Complex.  Yet, from the Democrats, I was promised a different direction
(like OUT of the Middle East).  Regrettably, there has been miniscule
change.  There is still nothing to believe in.

It is against my religion to say the Pledge of Allegiance.  (I am a
Christian so I pledge allegiance only to God.)  I did, however, pledge my
time and treasure to Barack Obama.   On November 4, 2008, I danced in the
streets waving the American Flag, feeling proud to be an American.  I was
pathetically close to bustin' out some Toby Keith ditties.

It's not just the $106 billion that makes me feel betrayed.  It's not just
the fact that Gitmo probably won't be shut down after all.  It is not even
the president's assurance to Republicans that he will not release the
photos of detainee abuse.

It is the rumors of intimidation and strong-arming that are, to me, the
greatest betrayal.

That President Barack Obama sent Rahm Emanuel and Nancy Pelosi to bully
anti-war Democrats into voting for the supplemental (and threatening to
withdraw the leadership's support for their re-elections if they didn't)
is a shameful misuse of power.  Where's the humanity I once saw in Barack?
It's just more of the same and I can't stomach it.

I knew I was nave; yet like millions of Americans, I had no choice but to
believe.  Our hearts were desperate for hope.  We saw Barack Obama as an
oasis in the desert.  To think that he may be just a mirage is
heartbreaking.

When you have a minute, give Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold a call at
(202) 224-5323.  He was the only Democrat in the Senate to vote against
the war funding (along with three Republicans and an Independent).

Oh, and please consider supporting my grassroots campaign to get my $680
back so I can donate it to the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center. Thanks.

Marie Marchand is executive director of the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center
in Bellingham, WA.


--------11 of 12--------

Growing Factory Occupations Threaten to Break the Banks
by: Mike Elk
Thursday 25 June 2009
The Huffington Post
Truthout

So far only one group has been able to force the banks to seriously change
their practices - workers occupying their factories.

Last December, members of the United Electrical Workers (UE) employed by
Republic Windows and Doors were initially denied severance pay when
management announced the closing of their Chicago factory. Bank of America
and JPMorganChase refused to continue the company's credit line and to
provide severance pay, required under the workers' union contract. Adding
insult to injury, the company failed to give 60 days notice of the closing
which is required by U.S. law under the federal WARN Act. Workers
responded by occupying the plant, protesting the refusal of banks to
extend credit under the slogan "You got bailed out, We got sold out".

After a six-day occupation and expressions of solidarity from around the
world, including from President Obama, the banks caved in and agreed to
pay workers' severance pay. However, unionized Republic workers did more
than just win back their severance pay, they created a model of direct
action which has the potential to hold the banks accountable for their
actions.

Prominent scholars like Paul Krugman, Simon Johnson, and Noami Klein have
argued that opportunities to dramatically restructure the banking system
have diminished greatly as the sense of crisis has decreased. Nobel Prize
wining economist Paul Krugman claims that corporate interests have much to
lose if real reform were enacted and are in response, pushing the line
that the economy is returning to normal in order to kill reform. As my
colleague Joshua Holland points out in a must-read piece: "Much of the
business establishment has an interest in heading off any attempt to
fundamentally transform the economy. After all, when things go south in
the 21st century, the big fish are protected - they get a bailout."

While, the stimulus program and other bailout measures may have
prevented economic devastation greater than the Great Depression, the
current crisis remains one of the worst in decades. Unemployment is
increasing to double digits, credit markets remain frozen, and many people
may literally be forced to work until they die, as their retirement
accounts have been devastated by gambling on Wall Street. Indeed, there is
a potential for the crisis to worsen, as foreclosures increased by 20%
from a year ago. At first, foreclosures were caused by the collapse of the
sub-prime mortgage industry, but now unemployed workers unable to pay
their mortgages are losing their homes at an alarming rate. The economic
crisis remains very real. Wall Street, fearing real structural reform and
regulation, are attempting to deny the depth of this crisis.

While corporate interests were largely in favor of Obama's stimulus
program because it meant more business for them, they are largely opposed
to fixing the fundamental problem - putting profits before people. We need
to put an end to the predatory practices of the big banks and investment
houses by downsizing the banks, limiting CEO pay, eliminating the casino
capitalism of credit swap derivatives and other regulatory measures that
make banks accountable to communities Unfortunately, the current
administration has fallen short in protecting us from Wall Street.

Therefore, it is up to us through a model direct action, as used by
civil rights movement's sit-ins and boycotts and the sit down strikes of
the 1930s, to fight back against Wall Street. Under, the motto of "Wells
Fargo - Roadblock to Recovery", the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine
Workers America (UE), the same union that occupied a Chicago windows
factory in December for six days, has mounted protests in 20 cities
against Wells Fargo when it denied credit to Quad City Die Casting, a
state-of-the-art factory in Moline, IL. Quad City Die Casting had been
profitable until last fall. So far, Wells Fargo has even refused to
release details on why it is forcing closure of the facility.

Workers at Quad City Die Casting are fighting back and are engaged in
direct action against Wells Fargo as they refuse to continue provide
capital funds. The successful struggle at Republic Windows has provided a
model under which workers can successfully fight the banks by occupying
their plants. 4,000 workers, members of SEIU, at two Hartmarx men's
apparel factories, are also fighting Wells Fargo's actions and are also
threatening to occupy their factories. Last months, workers at four
Canadian plants, members of the Canadian Auto Workers, used plant
occupations to win their severance pay.

Last week, President Obama called for broad financial reform calling it
the most "the most sweeping overhaul of financial regulation since the
1930s." Experts say that while the plan seems to be directionally correct
in many areas, it is worrisome in the details that the plan omits. Some
experts worry that the plan does not adequately address the issue of
whether the banks are "too big to fail", does little to address the
perceived incentive structure of executive pay, and does not outlaw the
complex credit derivative swaps that lead to this crisis. However what is
most worrisome to me is that the plan lacks any comprehensive measure to
make banks more transparent and accountable to the communities they serve.

It's time that we as a movement start drawing upon the massive mandate for
change personified in Obama's landslide victory to bring real change to
our economy. Seizing on the electoral momentum of FDR's massive landslide
victory and upsets with poor working standards, UAW members in Flint,
Michigan decided to occupy their factory in the Great Flint Sit-Down
strike in 1937. Despite the passage of the Wagner Act in 1934, which gave
workers the right to collective bargaining, most companies still refused
to bargain with unions. The ultra conservative 1930's Supreme Court was
even tempted to outlaw unions as unconstitutional in order to stop the
power of organized labor to counter big business.

The Flint Sit-down strike changed all this. It sparked a series of 538
similar sit-down strikes changed the economy of this nation for the
better. The strikes brought companies such as G.M., U.S. Steel, and
General Electrical to their knees forcing them to negotiate fair contracts
with their workers. The Supreme Court backed off its threat to declare
unions unconstitutional. The Flint-Sit down strikes revitalized organized
labor with UAW membership increasing from 30,000 to 500,000 in just one
year! The strong emergence of the labor movement created the political
climate that laid to the passage of the Fair Labor Standards in 1938 which
set a minimum wage standards, established overtime pay, and outlawed child
labor.

Similarly, while LBJ attempted to delay civil rights legislation, the
civil rights went out and showed the urgent need for it through sit-ins,
freedom rides, and massive boycotts against racial discrimination. As a
result, they were able to hold not just individual institutions
accountable for their civil rights practices, but indeed creates the
political climate necessary for the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting
Rights Act. As Martin Luther King said in "A Letter from Birmingham Jail,"
"Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a
tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is
forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it
can no longer be ignored."

We can also use direct action to create a sense of crisis in order to not
just counter they myths of quick economic recovery being pushed by Wall
Street and hold them more accountable to communities, but to also create
the climate necessary for reform. We can force the banks to change their
practices on predatory lending through defending the rights of families to
stay in their homes after they have been foreclosed in order to force
banks to renegotiate the terms of their mortgages. Laid off workers should
stay in their factories after they are closed in order to force to
negotiate a way to keep these factories open. Engaging in such actions
will diminish the power of the banks to call the shots.

As Chris Townsend, Political Action Director of UE, the union which
occupied the factory in Chicago pointed out to me "One of the most
interesting things about the Republic Windows occupation is that the banks
wanted to settle in as rapid a fashion as possible. Two giant banks - in
one week - were forced to pay the workers what they were owed to the tune
of almost two million dollars. There are lawsuits and legal actions that
have been going on for years against banks for similar things that have
never been able to achieve those kind of results. These banks don't want
to be in the spotlight; they want to hide at all costs. They wanted to
settle as quickly in order to stop the movement of this type of direct
action from spreading because they know such a movement could crush them."


--------12 of 12--------

A Former Insurance Industry Insider Tells All
The Health Insurance Industry v. Health Care Reform
By WENDELL POTTER
CounterPunch
June 25, 2009

I'm the former insurance industry insider now speaking out about how big
for-profit insurers have hijacked our health care system and turned it
into a giant ATM for Wall Street investors, and how the industry is using
its massive wealth and influence to determine what is (and is not)
included in the health care reform legislation members of Congress are now
writing.

Although by most measures I had a great career in the insurance industry
(four years at Humana and nearly 15 at CIGNA), in recent years I had grown
increasingly uncomfortable serving as one of the industry's top PR
executives. In addition to my responsibilities at CIGNA, which included
serving as the company's chief spokesman to the media on all corporate and
financial matters, I also served on a lot of trade association committees
and industry-financed coalitions, many of which were essentially front
groups for insurers. So I was in a unique position to see not only how
Wall Street analysts and investors influence decisions insurance company
executives make but also how the industry has carried out
behind-the-scenes PR and lobbying campaigns to kill or weaken any health
care reform efforts that threatened insurers' profitability.

I also have seen how the industry's practices - especially those of the
for-profit insurers that are under constant pressure from Wall Street to
meet their profit expectations - have contributed to the tragedy of
nearly 50 million people being uninsured as well as to the growing number
of Americans who, because insurers now require them to pay thousands of
dollars out of their own pockets before their coverage kicks in - are
underinsured. An estimated 25 million of us now fall into that category.

What I saw happening over the past few years was a steady movement away
from the concept of insurance and toward "individual responsibility," a
term used a lot by insurers and their ideological allies. This is playing
out as a continuous shifting of the financial burden of health care costs
away from insurers and employers and onto the backs of individuals. As a
result, more and more sick people are not going to the doctor or picking
up their prescriptions because of costs. If they are unfortunate enough to
become seriously ill or injured, many people enrolled in these plans find
themselves on the hook for such high medical bills that they are losing
their homes to foreclosure or being forced into bankruptcy.

As an industry spokesman, I was expected to put a positive spin on this
trend that the industry created and euphemistically refers to as
"consumerism" and to promote so-called "consumer-driven" health plans. I
ultimately reached the point of feeling like a huckster.

I thought I could live with being a well-paid huckster and hang in there a
few more years until I could retire. I probably would have if I hadn't
made a completely spur-of-the-moment decision a couple of years ago that
changed the direction of my life. While visiting my folks in northeast
Tennessee where I grew up, I read in the local paper about a health
"expedition" being held that weekend a few miles up U.S. 23 in Wise, Va.
Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals were volunteering their
time to provide free medical care to people who lived in the area. What
intrigued me most was that Remote Area Medical, a non-profit group whose
original mission was to provide free care to people in remote villages in
South America, was organizing the expedition. I decided to check it out.

That 50-mile stretch of U.S. 23, which twists through the mountains where
thousands of men have made their living working in the coalmines, turned
out to be my "road to Damascus."

Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I reached the Wise
County Fairgrounds, where the expedition was being held. Hundreds of
people had camped out all night in the parking lot to be assured of seeing
a doctor or dentist when the gates opened. By the time I got there, long
lines of people stretched from every animal stall and tent where the
volunteers were treating patients.

That scene was so visually and emotionally stunning it was all I could do
to hold back tears. How could it be that citizens of the richest nation in
the world were being treated this way?

A couple of weeks later I was boarding a corporate jet to fly from
Philadelphia to a meeting in Connecticut. When the flight attendant served
my lunch on gold-rimmed china and gave me a gold-plated knife and fork to
eat it with, I realized for the first time that someone's insurance
premiums were paying for me to travel in such luxury. I also realized that
one of the reasons those people in Wise County had to wait in long lines
to be treated in animal stalls was because our Wall Street-driven health
care system has created one of the most inequitable health care systems on
the planet.

Although I quit my job last year, I did not make a final decision to speak
out as a former insider until recently when it became clear to me that the
insurance industry and its allies (often including drug and medical device
makers, business groups and even the American Medical Association) were
succeeding in shaping the current debate on health care reform. While the
thought of speaking out had crossed my mind during the months leading up
to the day I gave notice, I initially decided instead to hang out my
shingle as a consultant to small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

I decided to take the shingle down, though, at least for a while, when I
heard members of Congress reciting talking points like the ones I used to
write to scare people away from real reform. I'll have more to say about
that over the coming weeks and months, but, for now, remember this:
whenever you hear a politician or pundit use the term "government-run
health care" and warn that the creation of a public health insurance
option that would compete with private insurers (or heaven forbid, a
single-payer system like the one Canada has) will "lead us down the path
to socialism," know that the original source of the sound bite most likely
was some flack like I used to be.

Bottom line: I ultimately decided the stakes are too high for me to just
sit on the sidelines and let the special interests win again. So I have
joined forces with thousands of other Americans who are trying to persuade
our lawmakers to listen to us for a change, not just to the insurance and
drug company executives who are spending millions to shape reform to
benefit them and the Wall Street hedge fund managers they are beholden to.

Take it from me, a former insider, who knows what really motivates those
folks. You need to know where the hard-earned money you pay in health
insurance premiums - if you lucky enough to have coverage at all - really
goes.

I decided to speak out knowing that some people will not like what I have
to say and will do all they can to discredit me. In anticipation of that,
here are some facts:

I am not doing this because my former employer was pushing me out the door
or because I had become a disgruntled employee. I had not been passed over
for a promotion or anything like that. As I noted earlier, I had a
financially rewarding career in the industry, and I'm very grateful for
that. I had numerous promotions, raises, bonuses, stock options and stock
grants over the years. When I left my last job, I was as close on the
corporate ladder to the CEO as any PR person has ever climbed at the
company. I reported to the general counsel, the company's top lawyer,
whose boss is the chairman and CEO, a man I like and worked closely with
over many years.

The decision to leave was entirely my own, and I left on good terms with
everybody at the company. In fact, I agreed to postpone my last day at
work by more than two months at the company's request. My coworkers gave
me a terrific going-away party, and I received dozens of kind notes from
people all across the country including friends at other companies and at
America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry trade association.

I still consider all of them my friends. In fact, the thing I have missed
most since I left is working as part of a team, even though I eventually
came to the conclusion that I was playing for the wrong side. Being a
consultant has its advantages, but I have missed the camaraderie. After a
few months, I thought that maybe I should consider working for another
company again. At one point, a former boss told me that another insurer
had posted a PR job and encouraged me to contact a former CIGNA executive
who worked there about it. Against my better judgment, I did, but I
immediately decided not to pursue it. The last thing I wanted to do was to
go from one big insurer to another one. What the hell was I thinking?

I'm writing this because, knowing how things work, I'm fully expecting
insurers' PR firms to quietly feed friends of the industry (which include
a roster of editorial writers and pundits, lawmakers and many others who
fall under the broad category of "third-party advocates,") with anything
they can think of to discredit me and what I say. This will go on behind
the scenes because the insurers will want to preserve the image they are
working so hard to cultivate - as a group of kind and caring folks who
think only of you and your health and are working hard as real partners to
Congress and the White House to find "a uniquely American solution" to
what ails our system.

I expect this because I have worked closely with the industry's PR firms
over many years whenever the insurers were being threatened with bad
publicity, litigation or legislation that might hinder profits.

One of the reasons I chose to become affiliated with the Center for Media
and Democracy is because of the important work the organization does to
expose often devious, dishonest and unethical PR practices that further
the self interests of big corporations and special interest groups at the
expense of the American people and the democratic principles this country
was founded on.

After a long career in PR, I am looking forward to providing an insider's
perspective as a senior fellow at CMD, and I am very grateful for the
opportunity to speak out for the rights and dignity of ordinary people.
The people of Wise County and every county deserve much better than to be
left behind to suffer or die ahead of their time due to Wall Street's
efforts to keep our government from ensuring that all Americans have real
access to first-class health care.

Wendell Potter is the Senior Fellow on Health Care for the Center for
Media and Democracy in Madison, Wisconsin.


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   - David Shove             shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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