Progressive Calendar 09.18.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 2009 06:46:42 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    09.18.09

1. Foreclosures/KFAI   9.18 11am
2. Palestine vigil     9.18 4:15pm
3. Tornado event       9.18 5:30pm
4. Linda dinner        9.18 6pm
5. Kline/health??      9.18 6:30pm
6. Jensen/roundtable   9.18 6:30pm
7. Metaphysical igloo  9.18 7pm
8. Brecht/war/film     9.18 7:15pm
9. Moyers/conservatism 9.18 9pm

10. Anya Achtenberg - Writing class: finding the real story
11. Howell/Kane     - Foreclosures, loans
12. Benjamin Dangl  - Justice follows direct action
13. Joshua Frank    - Baucus: slick swindler behind the health care bill
14. Stephen Lendman - USCensusBureau: poverty & uninsured up, income down

--------1 of 14--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Foreclosures/KFAI 9.18 11am

NOTE: TUNE IN Friday Sept. 18, 11am, as KFAI's CATALYST & NORTHERN SUN
NEWS (aka Hour of People Power!) team up for KFAI's special series of
programs on solutions to poverty in our communities "Strive to Thrive"
(funded by the NW Area Foundation). Hear from grassroots activists with
MN-PPEHRC/MN Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign and the
Coalition for a People's Bailout. A growing movement of eviction resisters
and economic recovery from the ground up. [See item #11 below]

KFAI 90.3 fm Mpls 106.7 fm St. Paul Live-streaming and archived online for
2 weeks after broadcast on each show's page at http://www.kfai.org


--------2 of 14--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: Palestine vigil 9.18 4:15pm

the weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the
intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul.  the Friday demo
starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30.  there are usually extra signs
available.


--------3 of 14--------

From: roseisis1 [at] aol.com
Subject: Tornado event 9.18 5:30pm

This is a fundraiser for a Wonderful Indian Hindu couple who have a shop
in the Lake Street Global Mid Town Market. They also have a Temple in
South Minneapolis that was hit by the Tornado on Aug 19th. They had no
insurance to pay for repairs. They are very active in the community. They
also put on the Yoga Fest each year at the Market which will be held this
month

Here are the Details:
The Cultural Wellness Center
1527 East Lake Street, Suite 150
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Friday, Sept 18th -- 5:30 - 9:00pm

On August 19, 2009 the Temple of Shree Satyam Mandir, on the corner of
38th St and 4th Ave South, sustained damages from the tornado that hit
South Minneapolis. We are inviting you to come to a Fundraiser for the
rebuilding of the temple.

The Event will include: Chanting for Peace, a Dance Recital ( Dance to
the Divine Mother ), Dinner and Silent Auction. Cost is $15 per adult,
children are free.

For Questions you may contact: 612-874-3997 @ Geetanjoli Sari Fashions. /
website: Geeanjolisarifashion.com


--------4 of 14--------

From: Lynette Malles <lynettemalles [at] msn.com>
Subject: Linda dinner 9.18 6pm

Friday, September 18th 6pm in Robbinsdale
Linda Norenberg's FUNRaising Italian dinner and bonfire with drumming
Linda Norenberg, represented by Kelly McCormack, is filing a motion to
contest her eviction based on Citibank's not having met the rules of MN
statute 580. It will cost $400 to file this motion, so come on out to
Linda's family home!

Plenty of ryhthm instruments provided. If you play winds or strings,
BRING 'EM ON!
2750 McNair Drive   Phone: 763-529-3571

Why not bring things to sell? Winter clothing, household items, objects of
art...whatever you don't need- and think others might want- will be set
out [but PLEASE take your items home with you if unsold].
Email a reply if you need a ride-cars will leave from in front of
Rosemary's at 5:30pm.
BICYCLISTS: you'll love the ride up through Wirth Park.


--------5 of 14--------

From: Josh <jregnier315 [at] yahoo.com>
Subject: Kline/health?? 9.18 6:30pm

[Does Kline care about health care? Probably not, but here's your chance
to maybe say something (if they let you).]

PUBLIC FORUM ON HEALTH CARE AT 6:30 P.M., FRIDAY, SEPT. 18 IN LAKEVILLE

BURNSVILLE  In the wake of the President's remarks on health care
reform to a rare joint session of Congress last week, Congressman John
Kline is adding a live town hall meeting to the many forums in which he
has reached out to hear the views and concerns of his constituents in
Minnesota's Second District.

The town hall meeting will be from 6:30-8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18, at
the Lakeville South High School. Doors open at 6 p.m. Parking is
available in the lower main lot, near the school's main entrance.

Individuals who are unable to attend the town hall meeting but would
like to share a question or concern with Congressman Kline, can call
his district office at (952) 808-1213, or visit his website at
http://kline.house.gov.

In his fourth term in Congress, Congressman Kline is the Senior
Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, one of the
three committees that have jurisdiction over the current health care
proposal. He is also a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
[He is also a *** and an ***** *******, and member of **** ** *** (the
old one, not the new one)].


--------6 of 14--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Jensen/roundtable 9.18 6:30pm

the radical roundtable presents...
endgame - a talk by derrick jensen,environmentalist
friday, september 18th
6:30 - 9 pm
may day books

- whether exposing the ravages of industrial civilization, relaying
humorous anecdotes from his life, or bravely presenting a few of the
endless forms that resistance can (and must) take, derrick jensen leaves
his audience both engaged and enraged.
- one hour video of a recent talk by radical author derrick jensen
- discussion/comments /rebuttal from YOU

alternative happy hour (drinks, snacks, and socializing) at 6:30
video showing @ 7
lively discussion @ 8
may day books 201 cedar ave s minneapolis


--------7 of 14--------

From: "Susan Hensel Design,LLC" <Susan_Hensel_Design_LLC [at] mail.vresp.com>
Subject: Metaphysical igloo 9.18 7pm

SUSAN HENSEL GALLERY REMINDS YOU!
The reception for the installation by Andrea Miller is this Friday,
September 18, 7-9pmpm
HOW TO BUILD AN IGLOO?
Performance Artist Emerges from Metaphysical Igloo
September 18-25, 2009
reception for the artist, September 18, 7-9pm

The installation phase of this show, opens September 18 with a reception,
uses footage from the performance as well as individual elements, such as
specimen-jars of the blackened water, petri dishes, test tubes, etc.  "I
really want to allude to a mood of some strange kind of scientific
discovery," says Miller of what she hopes her audience will take away.
"I want them to feel that it's, in some ways, an archeological
experience."

Susan Hensel Gallery 3441 Cedar Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55407 612-722-2324
612-202-9644


--------8 of 14--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Brecht/war/film 9.18 7:15pm

Documentary Screening: "Theater of War"
September 18 to September 24, 7:15 p.m. 309 Oak Street Southeast,
Minneapolis.

Meryl Streep is an unforgettable Mother Courage in Tony Kushner's
adaptation of the Brecht masterpiece, presented by the Public Theater/NY
Shakespeare Festival in Central Park during summer 2006. Filmmaker John
Walter's earlier documentary, "How to Draw a Bunny," explored the
psychological ramifications of the life and art of Ray Johnson. His new
movie could easily have been a star vehicle for Streep and Kevin Kline.
Instead he digs deeply into Brecht's motives and politics, unearthing the
playwright's famed (and famously clever) testimony before the House
Un-American Activities Committee (the day after which he quit the United
States). "Theater of War" is about theater and war, capitalism and
Marxism, the postwar anti- Communist hysteria of the 1950s, and one
literary genius's ability to make art from them all.

Presented by: Minnesota Film Arts. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Visit
www.mnfilmarts.org/oakstreet.


--------9 of 14--------

From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org>
Subject: Moyers/conservatism 9.18 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | Is Conservatism Dead?
http://www.truthout.org/091609Y?n
Bill Moyers Journal: "In the first days of President Obama's
administration, an essay from Sam Tanenhaus entitled 'Conservatism Is
Dead' sparked debate over contemporary conservatism and its place in
modern American politics."


--------10 of 14--------

From: Anya Achtenberg <aachtenberg [at] gmail.com>
Finding the Real Story: an exploration of the essential elements of story

for both fiction and nonfiction writers

Join us for 10 sessions of intensive exploration of the essential elements
of writing story, and for work on shaping these elements to embody the
deeper truths and powerful emotions which move us into writing. We will
work to explore the mystery of human behavior in story form, and develop
ways to deepen characterization. We will work to discover plot - rather
than be constricted by it. We will tap into the power of the visions and
voices of our narrators and characters, and the mix of truth and fiction
that creates a world both imagined and deeply real. We will explore
narrative summary, active scene and dialogue, the workings of subtext; the
power of your story's context, the technique of simultaneity; dialogue;
the music of prose; the story's metaphor; revision. Begin new stories and
discover ways to complete old ones in an atmosphere both supportive and
challenging, with in-class and at-home writing explorations, and feedback
aimed at helping each participant understand the scope of their own work.

10 Wednesdays, beginning October 7, 7:00-9:30 pm. Fee: $300.
Lake Street and 39th Avenue South, Minneapolis, above the Blue Moon Cafe.
For registration and more information, contact Anya at
aachtenberg [at] gmail.com or 651.214.9248.
See her website at www.anyaachtenberg.com

"Anya is a master teacher. Her grasp of world writers and of craft allows
her to liberate this knowledge, so that we can learn to wield the pen with
power."  -Demetria Martinez, novelist, poet, memoirist, journalist


--------11 of 14--------

Foreclosure
By Lydia Howell, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
September 12, 2009

With twice as much unemployment and sub-prime loans continuing to spiral
mortgage payments up, home foreclosures are spreading like wildfires in
communities of color. But, homeowners aren't the only ones being impacted:
Renters face eviction when landlords have their properties foreclosed.

The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and KFAI Community Radio are presenting a
forum of diverse panelists with solutions to the foreclosure crisis and
new legislation protecting people's rights on September 19 at Sabathani
Community Center in Minneapolis. The MSR interviewed four of the panelists
for this article.

"There's a big difference between wanting to move and being uprooted,"
says Richard Amos, director of housing at St. Stephen's Human Services.
"Landlords took out or refinanced loans, then decide it's not worth it to
pay the mortgage. Neighborhoods gentrifying means rents going up.
Foreclosures mean families renting ended up in shelters."

For example, on St. Paul's East Side, 50 to 60 percent of foreclosures
were on "investor properties," displacing renters who now compete with
evicted homeowners for apartments.

A coalition of many of the community organizations represented at the
September 19 forum worked to pass the 2008 postponement bill in the
Minnesota State Legislature that mandates homeowners have six months to
live in the home without payment after foreclosure proceedings have
concluded. With the six months it generally takes for a bank to go through
the full process to foreclose, that means a year without mortgage payments
for transition.

"If anyone is in foreclosure, knowing what their rights are and what the
process is helps," says Cheryl Peterson, who has done Mortgage Foreclosure
Prevention with the Twin Cities chapter of Habitat for Humanity since
1993. "There's now a six-month redemption period where you can continue to
live in the property, so that allows more time to save money."

ACORN Housing, a spin-off of the well-known community organization, hosts
workshops for first-time homebuyers with real estate agents, lenders and
ACORN Housing counselors. Executive Director Marcus Mayes says helping
homeowners facing foreclosure is another key aim.

"Our services are totally free. If someone wants you to pay money for loan
modification counseling, that's a scam," Mayes emphasizes. "They'll get
$4,000 from you just to enter your information into our ACORN Housing
database. Our clients don't pay a dollar, and we do 90 percent of our
foreclosure counseling over the phone." He recommends their website:
www.acornhousinghelp.org.

Although eligible for stable, lower-interest loans, many were tricked into
the sub-prime loans, with initially low interest that jumps later -
sophisticated predatory lending. African American and Latino homebuyers
were twice as likely as Whites to be steered into sub-prime loans; women
were 30 percent more likely than men to be targeted, with Black women five
times more likely than White men. Some landlord/investors also took on
predatory loans resulting in renters being evicted even though they paid
their rent.

National legislation addressing predatory lending is stalled in the House
of Representatives. Some of the same groups opposed to healthcare reform -
like FreedomWorks, which disrupted August town halls - are fighting
regulations that would prevent repeating the current foreclosure crisis.

However, some states are responding. A coalition of community, consumer
and housing groups worked to pass the 2008 Minnesota Mortgage Reform and
Anti-Predatory Lending Act. The bills' protections will be explained at
the forum.

Activists are challenging powerful special interests: picketing banks that
got bailed out with billions yet refuse to modify homeowners' loans,
demanding lawmakers respond to communities' economic distress, and
resisting evictions.

"Everyone in foreclosure ought to have an honest and fair chance to stay
in their homes," declares longtime activist Linden Gowboy of the Minnesota
Coalition for a People's Bailout.

"We see three steps that need to be taken: Fix the banking mess. Until
that's fixed, we need a moratorium on foreclosures. Stay in your home -
it's your only leverage," she explains. "This isn't a finances game - it's
a home game." Ed Nelson of Homeownership Center and Cheryl Rice of the
Minnesota Housing Finance Agency complete the forum's panel.

This forum is part of a KFAI series of special programs, "Strive to
Thrive," broadcasting in September and October. KFAI is 90.3 FM in
Minneapolis and 106.7 FM in St. Paul.

The "Facing Challenges, Creating Solutions: Housing and Mortgage
Foreclosures Forum" will be held Saturday, September 19, 9:30 am - 4 pm,
at Sabathani Community Center, 310 East 38th St., Minneapolis. The forum
is free and open to public; to get a free lunch you must make reservations
by Sept. 17 at 612-341-3144 ext. 33 or www.kfai.org.

Lydia Howell is an independent journalist who hosts Catalyst: politics &
culture Fridays at 11 am on KFAI.

--
By Mary Kane, Minnesota Independent September 12, 2009

Just a year ago, the theory that poor and minority borrowers were to blame
for the housing crisis took hold with a vengeance, and so did the belief
that the government forced lenders to make subprime mortgages to meet
affordable housing goals. The view took on greater prominence in the heat
of a presidential campaign, and an obscure anti-redlining law known as the
Community Reinvestment Act became a scapegoat for subprime lending and the
collapse of the mortgage market.

Things have changed quite a bit since then, as the spotlight has shifted
to lenders and their behavior during the boom. States and cities continue
to aggressively pursue subprime lending discrimination suits, and judges
across the country are signaling a willingness to move forward with some
cases. As the lawsuits wind their way through the court system, more
details and allegations about the inner workings of the subprime world are
emerging. And as startling as some of the charges already have been - a
former loan officer for Wells Fargo testified in one affidavit that
employees regularly referred to minority borrowers as "mud people" and
called subprime mortgages "ghetto loans," - there's even more ahead, said
David Berenbaum, executive vice president of the National Community
Reinvestment Coalition.

"The 'smoking guns' are coming out," Berenbaum said, referring to possible
evidence that lenders targeted minority communities and borrowers for
higher priced loans. "And I expect more and more of these smoking guns to
become apparent."

In the latest development, a Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles recently
certified a 2005 lending discrimination lawsuit against Wells Fargo as a
class action case. The suit contends that area managers at the bank
refused access in some minority neighborhoods to a software program that
allowed for discounted prices on mortgage loans. Barry Cappello, a partner
with Cappello & Noel in Santa Barbara, which represents some 10,000 to
20,000 borrowers in the suit, said he believes it is the first subprime
lending discrimination suit in California to be classified as a class
action.

According to Cappello, Wells Fargo introduced a program in 2002 called
"Loan Economics," which gave loan officers the authority to offer
discounts to loan applicants. The savings on lower fees and interest rates
could be significant, ranging from $500 to as much as $10,000 per loan.
The suit claims that the Los Angeles area Wells Fargo manager refused to
allow loan officers operating in certain minority neighborhoods to offer
the program. Borrowers in predominantly white neighborhoods were given
access to the software.

Cappello said the suit stemmed from complaints by black and Hispanic loan
officers for Wells Fargo, who said they asked to use the software in their
branches but upper management refused.

Wells Fargo is fighting the suit and has denied all the charges. In a
statement, the bank said, "We are disappointed in this ruling and intend
to vigorously defend this matter as the case proceeds. The decision does
not indicate the court believes the underlying allegations have any merit.
We feel the allegations represent a complete mischaracterization of our
long-standing commitment to responsible lending and the pricing practices
and tools we use. The policies, systems and controls we have in place
ensure race is not a factor in the pricing or products we offer."

The case could go to trial in about a year, Cappello said.

More lawsuits are expected in the near future over the treatment of
Hispanic borrowers in Arizona and Texas, who were offered high-cost loans
they didn't understand at misleadingly low teaser rates, then refinanced
into even more expensive loans than their initial mortgages, Cappello
said.

Wells Fargo, the nation's largest home lender and Minnesota's
second-largest employer, also has been a target of lawsuits elsewhere.
Last month, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued the lender,
alleging that blacks and Hispanics were sold high-cost subprime loans more
frequently than white borrowers with similar incomes. The suit contended
loan officers were offered incentives by the bank to steer borrowers into
the more expensive loans, and that white borrowers generally received the
lower-cost prime mortgages.

Some borrowers thought they were getting prime loans from Wells Fargo Home
Mortgage, the suit also charged. But their loans actually came from Wells
Fargo Financial, the bank's subprime unit.

In Iowa, two watchdog groups charged this week that minority homeowners in
Des Moines were three times more likely to receive high cost subprime
loans from Wells Fargo than white homeowners.

In June, the New York Times reported on affidavits from a 2008 lawsuit by
the city of Baltimore against Wells Fargo over subprime lending, which
charged that the bank targeted blacks in Baltimore and suburban Maryland
for high-interest subprime loans. Former loan officers testified in
affidavits about using terms like "mud people" and "ghetto loans." The
bank also had an emerging markets unit that pinpointed black churches as
fertile ground for selling subprime loans, according to the former
officers. And in March, the NAACP filed suits in federal court in
California against Wells Fargo and HSBC, alleging minority borrowers were
more likely to be issued higher rate subprime loans than white borrowers
with similar credit scores and qualifications. Both banks have strongly
denied the charges. The NAACP also has pending litigation against nearly a
dozen other banks and lenders over subprime lending discrimination.

Should all the charges in all the lawsuits be proven, it would amount to
massive and violations of the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit
Opportunity Act, and other fair housing and lending laws, Berenbaum noted.
Enforcing fair lending laws has been "an issue the government has failed
to address over the past decade," he said. Lenders could face criminal
penalties from the government for violating fair housing laws, and they
could be subject to punitive damages and fines from government lawsuits.

Big lenders like Wells Fargo and HSBC are obvious targets for suits
because of their size and the amount of lending they did. In addition,
many other lenders and originators of subprime loans have gone out of
business, complicating efforts to address allegations of lending
discrimination through lawsuits.

That leaves a major question regarding all the lending still unanswered,
Berenbaum said: Where has the U.S. government been? The Federal Reserve
reported in 2005 that an analysis of federal mortgage data found that
blacks and Hispanics were more likely to receive higher interest rates on
mortgage loans - and that it intended to examine the practices of 200
lenders as a result.

But nothing's happened since that announcement, Berenbaum noted. Instead,
as the years go on, and the government takes no action, allegations about
price differences in mortgage loans based on the race of borrowers and
their neighborhoods continue to grow.

Mary Kane is an economy reporter for the Washington Independent.


--------12 of 14--------

Justice Follows Direct Action: Former Boss of Occupied Chicago Factory
Jailed
by Benjamin Dangl
September 16th, 2009
Dissident Voice

Richard Gillman, the former CEO of Chicago's Republic Windows and Doors
factory where over 200 workers organized a victorious sit-in last year,
has been sent to jail on eight charges including felony, theft, fraud, and
money laundering. After the judge announced the $10 million bail, the
shocked and dazed Gillman, dressed in a pinstriped suit, was hauled away
to the county jail.

Republic workers captured the attention of the world when they occupied
their plant on December 5, 2008 calling for the severance and vacation pay
they were due. The sit-in ended six days later when the Bank of America
and other lenders to Republic agreed to pay the workers the approximately
$2 million owed to them. Recently, the workers won another victory with
the arrest of Gillman.

The prosecutors charge that Gillman defrauded creditors of over $10
million, and then went ahead to use company money to complete payments on
leases for two luxury cars - while his employees went without pay.

According to court records Gillman also secretly sent three semi-trailers
full of equipment from the Republic factory to a non-unionized factory in
Iowa without the consent of Republic board members and creditors. Luckily,
however, the organized Republic workers followed the trailers, and during
the occupation, prevented executives from entering the factory to take
company documents that now make up much of the case against Gillman and
other Republic officials.

"Gillman and others knew this company was headed for closure," Anita
Alvarez, the Cook County state's attorney, told reporters. "And instead of
fulfilling their legal obligations to their creditors and their moral
obligations to their employees, they devised a scheme to benefit
themselves".

"We knew Gillman was lying to us for a long time, now the rest of the
world knows it too," said Armando Robles, the President of UE Local 1110,
the Republic workers' union. "Workers suffer with bad bosses all the time
so this is a victory for all workers".

Gillman's arrest is just one of the results of the Republic workers'
actions. In February of this year, Serious Materials ended up buying up
Republic for $145 million, promising to put the unemployed workers back on
the job. The California-based Serious makes heating efficient windows.

"Having another company reopen the factory was always our hope when we
occupied the factory in December," Robles told the New York Times.

Kevin Surace, the chief executive officer of Serious, was drawn to the
Republic workers' story, leading him to eventually acquire the bankrupt
factory. "It was very sad to see what looks like it could be a world-class
operation just fall on terrible hard times and then all of the workers
quite abruptly laid off," he said. "We saw a great opportunity with a
great facility and great workers". Another thing that attracted Surace to
the Republic plant was that 90% of the equipment was still there - thanks
to the workers who prevented the bosses from hauling it away.

However, only fifteen former Republic employees have been rehired so far.
According to Chicago-based journalist Kari Lydersen of In These Times, the
delay in hiring more workers could have to do with the fact that Obama's
federal stimulus for green jobs and heating efficient windows has been
slower in producing results than people had hoped. Yet Lydersen points out
that the Republic workers "know they can't just sit back and wait for the
stimulus or the factory's new owner to make everything all right".

Meanwhile, Gillman is facing justice thanks to the workers' actions.
Melvin Maclin, a former Republic worker who is currently unemployed and
the father of six children, commented on Gillman's arrest in a UE
statement, "We feel like justice has finally come and we all hope that
this is the beginning of more bosses being held accountable for their
crimes against workers".

Benjamin Dangl is the author of The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and
Social Movements in Bolivia, (AK Press, March 2007). See
www.BoliviaBook.com.


--------13 of 14--------

Sen. Max Baucus, the Man Behind the Health Care Bill
The Slick Swindler
By JOSHUA FRANK
September 17, 2009
CounterPunch

While still in high school I had the pleasure of flying across the country
to Washington, D.C., for a weeklong youth workshop on leadership and
democracy. I remember the excitement I had knowing I was about to meet
both of my Montana senators. Back then I was a proud registered Democrat.
Having joined the Party only two months earlier, the prospect of rubbing
shoulders with a veteran of my Party, I thought, was sure to be the
highlight of the trip.

The swank dcor of the hallways on the Hill mesmerized me as I winded
through the legislative chambers. The bright carpet and gorgeous, slightly
older interns meandering around the foyers made me think that perhaps
politics had its subtle rewards. My intrepid journey from wing to wing led
me to the bustling office of Montana Senator Max Baucus.

Max wasn't in, however, so a cheery office assistant led me to a committee
meeting that the Senator was attending. "It will be just a few minutes,"
she said, continuing to chat with me about the beauty and serenity of
Montana. She had grown up in Great Falls or somewhere nearby, and missed
the quiet open range and starry nights. I must have reminded her of what
she was like before deciding to test the dirty waters of Washington
politics.

A few minutes later, Max scurried out and shook my hand as if I were the
elected official he had traveled a thousand miles to meet. "So glad to
finally meet you," he said. "How in the hell does he know who I am?" I
thought. He didn't, of course. He was just politicking.

Max wasn't a good ol' boy like Conrad Burns, his rival Republican from
Montana at the time, who said during his first campaign in 1988 that he
would help single mothers by "[telling] them to find a husband".  But Max
was sleazy in his own right. His gaudy single-knot tie and wing-tip shoes
caught my eye immediately. I remember wondering how long Mr. Baucus had
been away from the Big Sky Country. I didn't really care, though. He was
the Democrat I had come to see.

I asked Max about Washington life, and we poked fun at Conrad Burns, whom
I had met earlier in the day. Whereas Baucus' busy over packed office was
full of citizens who seemed to give a shit, Conrad's quarters were filled
with wide leather couches and trophy animals that hung on his plush
papered walls. We joked about Burns' assistants who were advising him on
how he should vote on specific legislation even though they had never even
traveled to Montana. I thought to myself, "Man, Democrats really are a lot
cooler than Republicans."

It didn't hurt that Max knew my uncle who ran a little grocery store in
Lockwood, a small town outside of the city where I grew up. It made me
think Max was one of us, a regular guy who represented regular folks. I
let the used car salesman attire slide; the guy was all right.

My trip ended soon thereafter. I had met some interesting people, seen a
lot of monuments and museums, and was enthralled with how the system
actually worked. Or at least I thought I understood how it all functioned.
The runners, the lobbyists, the rookies, the senior congressional leaders,
the reporters, and oh those interns. I thought I had it down. I couldn't
wait to get home to tell my family what I'd learned, whom I'd met, and how
Senator Baucus knew my dad's brother. I was even contemplating the best
way for me to help his upcoming election campaign.

It wasn't more than six months later that I was knocked to my senses. The
fairytale had ended. I read in the newspaper that my buddy Max had
supported the North America Free Trade Agreement a few years prior. By
then, I was diving into local environmental issues and came across the
effects of NAFTA and the senators who supported it. Baucus was at the top
of the hit-list. I couldn't believe it.

Upon further exploration, I learned that Baucus sat on the influential
congressional committees, including the Agriculture, Nutrition and
Forestry, Environment and Public Works, and Finance and Joint Taxation. I
learned how this man whom I had come to admire -- for no real reason other
than his bashing of a Republican -- had succumbed to the interests of
campaign contributors time and again. I found out how his seat on the
Finance committee scored him bundles of cash from the health care industry
and some big corporations I had never even heard of, including JP Morgan,
Brown & Foreman, and Citigroup. I knew these guys weren't from Montana.

I also learned how my hero supported welfare reform, Fast Track, and
President Clinton's Salvage Rider Act, all of which blatantly raped the
Montana forests I loved so dearly. A year later in college I read an old
article by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair in the Washington
Post, which disclosed how actor Robert Redford had campaigned for Baucus
by dropping letters in the mailboxes of elite Hollywood liberals, hoping
to entice them to donate money to the Montanan for his astute convictions
for environmental justice.

But as St. Clair and Cockburn put it so poignantly, "Across the length and
breadth of Congress, it is impossible to uncover a more tenacious
front-man for the mining, timber, and grazing industries - it was Baucus
who crushed the Clinton administration's timid effort to reform federal
mining and grazing policies and terminate below-cost timber sales to big
timber companies subsidized by the taxpayers".

I was indignant. "How could he?!" I pondered. "If the Democrats aren't
saving our natural resources, who the hell is?"

That anger has festered in me to this day. Max Baucus may still be the
most corporate, entrenched, conniving Democrat in Washington, and now
Americans are getting a health care bill written by the health care lobby
for the health care industry.

The dangling tassels on Max's fancy wing-tip shoes will forever irk me.
Those tassels and his decorative silk tie should have been the first sign
that this politician didn't represent regular folks. He was, after all,
literally clad in the interests of the out-of-state corporations that
lined his thick campaign coffers. I have hated the pretentious Wall Street
pin stripes ever since Baucus' sobering eye-opener.

I doubt that Max has ever hiked or driven through Montana's Yaak River
basin, where a massive forest service sale has destroyed critical grizzly
bear habitat. I'd bet he's never seen what the massive clear cuts have
done to the region's ecosystem, as tributaries have turned a pale yellow
from mud and debris. And I cannot imagine Baucus ever apologizing for the
legislation he supported during the Clinton years that's to blame for it
all. Many groups have challenged the illegalities of the outright pillage
but all of these suits have been defeated or dismissed because the Salvage
law gives the forest service "discretion to disregard entirely the effect
on the grizzly bear." All this from the party I once belonged.

I can't fathom that Baucus has sat down and spoken with the hundreds of
poor single mothers in rural Montana who cannot afford to put their kids
in daycare because they are forced to work at places like Wal-Mart where
they earn little more than minimum wage. I am sure they'd love to tell him
how grateful they are for their newfound careers and Clinton's welfare
reform that put them to work. Unlike many progressives who are preoccupied
with the wars in the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy, these Montanans
have more pressing concerns. They are turned off by politics because they
have trouble keeping food in the fridge and buying holiday gifts for their
kids. For someone most of us it's a luxury to be politically active.

People continue to believe it's only the Republicans who have undermined
everything progressives have fought for. I once believed this to be the
case. I hated conservatives for their outright disregard for the little
guy. But my short voyage out east as a teenager turned into a life lesson,
teaching me that political affiliation means little when talking about
real life consequences of compromising ideals. I think this is a lesson we
must all keep in mind as many look to the Democrats, naively hoping that
they can save us from the strangle of Glenn Beck's chock hold. Let's not
allow fancy rhetoric or party loyalty derail our need for real change or
our push for single-payer health care.

Occasionally I wonder how my grandfather, who I am told was a staunch
Democrat, would feel about all this.  He wasn't a flashy man, like the
Democrats in Washington today, but a hard working North Dakotan farmer
who, as the story is told, even detested his neighbor for being what he
called "one of those damned Republicans". Back then it was thought
Democrats, although never progressive, stood for something genuine and
were even elected into office because rural folk could discern the subtle
difference between a donkey and an elephant.

I am convinced no such differences exist today, and I'm certain that my
granddad would agree.

Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How
Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and
along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of the brand new book Red State
Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK
Press in July 2008.


--------14 of 14--------

US Census Bureau Confirms Rising Poverty, Falling Incomes, and Growing
Numbers of Uninsured
by Stephen Lendman
September 16th, 2009
Dissident Voice

In early September, the US Census Bureau released its new report titled,
"Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States:
2008" showing disturbing data that portends much worse ahead under a
president and Congress doing nothing to address it.

In 2008, poverty reached 13.2% of the population, its highest level in 11
years, the result of millions losing jobs during the first year of the
gravest economic crisis since the 1930s. For blacks, the figure was nearly
double at 24.7%, and 31% of all Americans were impoverished for at least
two months between 2004 and 2007, years of economic expansion.

At year-end 2008, even by the Bureau's conservative measures, 39.8 million
people were impoverished, the highest level since 1960, and 17.1 million
lived in extreme poverty at below one-half the official threshold. In
addition, for the first time since the 1930s, median household income
failed to increase over a 10-year period from 1999 - 2008.

The Census Bureau states that it "presents annual estimates of median
household income and poverty by state and other smaller geographic units
based on data collected in the American Community Survey (ACS)" covering
population areas of 20,000 or more. The Bureau's Small Area Income and
Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) program also produces yearly figures "for states
and all counties, as well as population and poverty estimates for school
districts". It uses data from a variety of sources, including surveys,
administrative records, inter-censal population estimates, and personal
income data published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Critics maintain that official government figures way understate the
gravity of today's crisis, and the Bureau says:

"The official poverty thresholds were developed more than 40 years ago and
have been criticized for not taking into account rising (or since the
1970s inflation-adjusted falling) standards of living, expenses such as
child care that are necessary to hold a job, variations in medical costs
across population groups (that have skyrocketed nationally and are now
unaffordable for millions), and geographic differences in the cost of
living".

In addition, income and poverty estimates are pre-tax and exclude non-cash
benefits, usually employer-provided. Disposable personal income, after
income, payroll, sales, property and other taxes, reveals a far higher
poverty level than the Census Bureau reports and a much graver crisis for
growing millions as the economic decline deepens.

The Bureau reported that 2008 median (inflation adjusted) household income
fell 3.6%, the largest single-year decline on record to the lowest level
since 1997 and falling as conditions continue to worsen.

The plight of the poor and impoverished shows up in numerous other reports
that paint a darker picture than the Census Bureau and suggest much worse
ahead:

* an unprecedented, growing disparity between the very rich and other
income groups;

* economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez's research showing the top
1% of households got two-thirds of the national income growth during the
last recovery, a larger share than at any time since the 1920s;

* wages losing ground to inflation;

* millions of children dependent on school lunches for a hot meal;

* the Economic Policy Institute estimates one-quarter of all children
living in poverty by year-end 2009;

* the continued erosion of employer and government-provided benefits,
including at the state and local levels; the growing uninsured crisis is
discussed below;

* greater numbers of households unable to meet expenses, even with two
working members;

* added duress from state budget cutbacks;

* record numbers of food stamp recipients;

* persistent and growing hunger and homelessness; and

* job losses and higher unemployment continuing for many more months, with
some analysts projecting record high numbers before peaking.

A September 11 story in Time magazine by Kissinger Associates' Joshua Ramo
highlights the problem. Titled, "Jobless in America: Is Double-Digit
Unemployment Here to Stay," it quotes Larry Summers' remarks last July
before the Peterson Institute for International Economics about the
disturbing rate of job losses. He suggested something strange was
happening, unpredicted by experts:

"I don't think that anyone fully understands this phenomenon," he said.
Will job losses mount longer than expected? At the "recession's" end, will
low numbers of new ones follow, and will double-digit unemployment persist
and remain common?

Without saying it, Summers wondered if America's economic model was broken
and, if so, how to fix it. Or can it be fixed? According to the Peterson
Institute's Jacob Kirkegaard, "It is entirely possible that what started
as a cyclical rise in unemployment could end up as an entrenched problem".

Summers earned his reputation as an employment theorist. He now believes
that earlier unemployment views are "importantly wrong. I thought if you
could have areas where there was long-term substantial unemployment, then
that raised some questions about the functioning of markets".

In 1986, he wrote an article titled, "Hysteresis and the European
Unemployment Problem". Hysteresis is the Greek word for late, referring to
what happens when something snaps and can't be fixed. It's an idea
economists deplore applying to economies, preferring instead to cite
normal business cycle ups and downs. Yet in 1986, Summers argued that
Europe's unemployment might be chronic and persist in times of growth.

Today's situation is another matter, coming at a time of changing economic
landscape, perhaps suggesting that hysteresis is confronting America, and
many lost jobs aren't coming back, especially better paying ones. That's
Kirkegaard's view in saying growth won't put Americans back to work, and
new jobs created will be of poorer quality than old ones.

So what can be done? Unlike in the 1930s, machines now do much of the work
that people did on infrastructure projects. And it's a lot harder
converting white-collar workers to blue-collar ones. Moreover, Summers'
own research concludes that the traditional Western economic model won't
alleviate the jobs crisis. So what will?

Summers won't say it, but short of a total remake of "free market"
economics, likely nothing. And perhaps that's America's future: growing
millions consigned to a permanent underclass, while an elite few at the
top grow richer, until one day "hysteresis" snaps the system in a
disruptive convulsion, the old model passes from the scene, and nothing is
the same again.

 More Evidence of Economic Duress in the Latest Federal Research Report on
                            Consumer Credit

On September 8, the Federal Reserve reported that total consumer credit
fell by a record $21.6 billion in July (the sixth consecutive monthly
decline) and year-over-year by $2.47 trillion or 10.4%. According to
Bernard Baumohl, The Economic Outlook Group.s chief global economist:

"It is one more important sign that consumers are not going to be
contributing very much to the economy for the balance of this year and
probably for (at least) a good part of next year". Shrinking credit's
impact on consumption indicates an economy in decline. It shows up in
growing poverty, falling incomes, and greater duress for growing millions,
sure to be reflected in the Bureau's 2009 report.

           Continued Erosion of Health Care Coverage

In 2008, the Bureau also collected data on health insurance coverage,
putting the number of uninsured at 46.3 million last year (15.4% of the
population), an increase of 682,000 over 2007. It was the eighth
consecutive year that fewer workers got employer-provided coverage, and
those with insurance had to pay more of the cost.

Other estimates are far grimmer. Some, including the Congressional Budget
Office, place the current uninsured total at about 50 million, and a May
2009 Todd Gilmer/Richard Kronick study estimated that 191,670 more lose
coverage monthly, 2.3 million annually at the present rate, and an
expected 6.9 million more Americans (over 2007) will lack it by year-end
2010 if the present trend continues.

Add to these the underinsured. According to the American Public Health
Association, at least another 25 million are at great risk if they face a
serious health problem not covered by their present plan. In addition,
Families USA estimates about 90 million Americans had no health insurance
during some portion of 2007 or 2008. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
reported that over 80% of the uninsured come from working families, and
the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimated that 27% of under
aged-65 year old Americans lack coverage.

Still other estimates project up to 60 million uninsured if the commonly
reported U-3 unemployment rate hits 10%, and the Urban Institute sees
around 66 million without coverage by 2019, given the present trend of
rising costs forcing employers increasingly to cut back.

Bureau data show that coverage weakened across most sectors of the
population, including full-time workers and the middle class, the result
of economic decline and years of employers putting a greater burden on
their workforce.

Since at least 2001, the percent of workers with employer-provided
insurance has steadily eroded, and it's the main reason behind growing
numbers of uninsured and underinsured. In 2008, 61.9% of the below-age 65
population had job-provided coverage, down from 67% in 2001 and falling
due to cost cutting, continued job losses, and the trend to lower-paying
ones.

In addition, holding a job no longer guarantees coverage. Plans offered
have been greatly eroded, and medical expenses today are the leading cause
of personal bankruptcies. America is the world's only industrialized
country denying its citizens universal coverage, yet spends on average
more than double what the other 30 OECD countries spend, and delivers less
because of unaffordable private insurance and overpriced drugs.

Nothing being debated in Washington addresses this, so whatever
legislation emerges will make a dysfunctional system worse with the
American public betrayed by "a slick-talking street hustler" - what
analyst Bob Chapman calls Obama, or according to James Petras, "the
greatest con man in recent history". Make that plural with Congress under
Democrat or Republican leadership because both parties are beholden to the
corporate interests that own them and are indifferent to growing public
needs.

Since taking office in January, Obama kept reform off the table, made
progressive change a nonstarter, and achieved the impossible by governing
worse than George Bush on virtually all of his domestic and foreign
policies. Along with looting the federal Treasury, wrecking the economy,
selling out to Wall Street, and continuing imperial wars, Obamacare is the
centerpiece of his failed agenda and a betrayal of the public's trust.

On September 9, he presented his vision to a joint congressional session,
reassuring providers that their interests are secure. Rejecting universal
single-payer coverage, he said it "makes more sense to build on what works
and fix what doesn't, rather than try to build an entirely new system from
scratch". And while favoring a "public option," he assured private
insurers that it's not a deal-breaker, guaranteeing that no final plan
will include one because enough votes can't be gotten in the Senate.

Key also is the lowering of costs by:

* cutting hundreds of billions in Medicare and Medicaid benefits as a
prelude to eliminating or greatly gutting these programs with perhaps
Social Security and other social gains to follow;

* placing caps on what tests and treatments doctors can provide;

* putting "medical expert" gatekeepers in charge of deciding the most
cost-effective care, thus preventing doctors from prescribing what's best
for their patients and denying people the right to make their own health
care choices if their cost exceeds what Washington will allow;

* taxing so-called "Cadillac" plans (mostly covering state employees,
municipal union members, and other working Americans, not just the
super-rich) to encourage employers to provide fewer benefits, thus placing
a greater burden on workers; forcing everyone to have insurance; and
placing a surtax on non-compliers with incomes of between 100 - 300% of
the poverty level under the Baucus Senate plan;

* creating a "deficit trigger" to reduce the growth of Medicare and
Medicaid spending if anticipated savings aren't met; and

* making everyone more responsible for their own care by forcing them to
cover more of the cost in return for less coverage when they need it most.

Numerous details remain hidden from the public, but the goal of Obamacare
is clear. It's a scheme to ration care; charge people more for it; enrich
private insurers, PhRMA, and large hospital chains; mandate insurance for
everyone; and penalize non-compliers.

It's up to public outrage to stop it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. Contact him at:
lendmanstephen [at] sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site and listen to The
Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from
11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished
guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. Read other articles
by Stephen, or visit Stephen's website.


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