|Progressive Calendar 11.12.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2009 08:36:40 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 11.12.09 1. LatAm/women/peace 11.12 11am 2. Nicaragua/KFAI 11.12 11am 3. MIZNA deadline! 11.12 12noon 4. Blackwell/equity 11.12 3pm 5. Jobs now 11.12 4pm 6. Immigrants/MN 11.12 4pm 7. Eagan vigil 5ann 11.12 4:30pm 8. Northtown vigil 11.12 5pm 9. Davidov/Masters 11.12 7pm 10. India 11.12 7pm 11. Crude/Ecuador/f 11.13 11am 12. Latina economy 11.13 3:30pm 13. Palestine vigil 11.13 4:15pm 14. People's bailout 11.13 4:30pm 15. Masqueraded balls 11.13 6pm 16. EXCO wellness 11.13 6pm 17. Ralph Nader - Still waiting for health care 18. Leslie Thatcher - "Everything you thought you knew is wrong" 19. Valerio Volpi - Health reform: another victim of US presidentialism 20. ed - Wise saying --------1 of 20-------- From: Stephanie Bates <Stephanie.Bates [at] americas.org> Subject: LatAm/women/peace 11.12 11am The Role of Women in Building Democratic Societies and a Culture of Peace in Contemporary Latin America: Sample Cases Thursday, November 12 11am Hoversten Chapel Foss Center Augsburg College Alicia Cabezudo is professor at the School of Education at the University of Rosario, Argentina, and the UNESCO chair on Culture of Peace and Human Rights at the University of Buenos Aires. Her work is rooted in the contemporary history of Latin America, and she researches and teaches in the field of education for democracy, culture of peace, and human rights. Her current research focus is public policies related to educational programs for building citizenship participation and democracy as tools for creating a culture of peace, particularly at the local level. --------2 of 20-------- From: Write On Radio <writeonradio [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Nicaragua/KFAI 11.12 11am This week on Write on Radio, Masha Hamilton joins us to talk about her fourth and latest novel, 31 Hours, recently declared an Indie Choice pick by independent booksellers. Publisher's Weekly called the book "gorgeous and complex." More information about it can be found at MashaHamilton.com. Also this week, Karen Hering will be in the studio to talk about an upcoming literary tour of Nicaragua which she will be leading. The registration deadline for is November 24th. The tour has been scheduled to coincide with the International Poetry Festival in the Nicaraguan city of Granada, so participants will also take in part of that remarkable gathering. Additional information is available on-line at www.augsburg.edu/global/shorttermseminars/documents/10hiy-nica.pdf. Fall Pledge Drive is over, but KFAI fell a several thousand dollars short of its goal this year. If you meant to pledge your support but didn't quite get around to it, you can still contact KFAI by phone or on the web to belatedly pledge your support. To access the Rain Taxi Review of Books Literary Events Calendar, click here. Information about regular spoken word and open mic venues can be found at MinnesotaMicrophone.com. For scheduling information, contact Ian Graham Leask at LeaskIan [at] aol.com or Lynette Reini-Grandell at Lynette.Reini-Grandell [at] normandale.edu. To subscribe to the Write On Radio weekly e-mail newsletter for guest information and weekly event announcements, send us your email address to writeonradio [at] yahoo.com. Please mail review copies and press materials to Write On Radio, KFAI, 1808 Riverside Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN, 55454. Attn: Producer. --------3 of 20-------- From: Mizna <mizna-announce [at] mizna.org> Subject: MIZNA deadline! 11.12 12noon Thursday, November 12 is the deadline for ordering your tickets to Mizna's Ten Year Anniversary celebration. Get your orders in by noon on Thursday. The Depot November 15, 2009 Minneapolis, Minnesota Your ticket includes: * Full catered dinner made with recipes from Mizna community members - Nadia's Moroccan spiced chicken, Lana's Palestinian rice, Amy's Egyptian salad, and a special dessert! * Silent and live auction items not to be missed. PARTIAL list found here: http://mizna.org/articles/events/10.shtml * Suheir Hammad accepting Mizna's First Annual Edward Said Award presented by performer and Edward Said's daughter, Najla Said * Special Handmade Palestinian gift souvenir of the event made for Mizna in Bethlehem for first 200 paid guests * Other surprises! Go here to order your tickets: http://www.mizna.org. Special rates available for students and low income. If you would like a special rate, email us at Mizna [at] Mizna.org --------4 of 20-------- From: joan [at] metrostability.org Subject: Blackwell/equity 11.12 3pm Alliance for Metropolitan Stability 2009 Regional Equity Series and reception If you're involved in working for racial, economic or environmental justice, you probably already know who Angela Glover Blackwell is. As the president and CEO of PolicyLink, Angela works to bring equity issues into mainstream discussion every day. http://www.policylink.org Meet Angela on November 12 at the final event in our 2009 Regional Equity Series on Strengthening our Regional Equity Agenda. Strengthening Our Regional Equity Movement 3- 5 pm Thursday, November 12 Capri Theater, Minneapolis Free event, registration required Please register at https://www.thedatabank.com/dpg/322/personalopt1.asp?formid=event&c=6870776 Angela will be the keynote speaker at the event, which will take a look at how the Twin Cities can we build on our existing strengths and networks to place racial justice and equity issues at the center of regional priorities. A local panel will discuss the trends emerging in the Twin Cities that will contribute to -- as well as those that are barriers to -- a stronger regional equity movement. Panelists will include State Representative Jeff Hayden, Andriana Abariotes of Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Louis King of Summit Academy OIC and Ed Goetz of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. There will also be time to meet and greet Angela at the Alliance's 15th anniversary reception and in/stability photo exhibit immediately following the afternoon event. Stick around for good food, drinks, conversation and community art! Both of these events are free, but an RSVP is required. Joan Vanhala Phillips, Minneapolis Info about Joan Vanhala: http://forums.e-democracy.org/p/2tjdbtjS2TMoWBmnWj8CT9 --------5 of 20-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: Jobs now 11.12 4pm November 12: JOBS NOW Coalition, LISC Twin Cities, Project for Pride in Living, and Affirmative Options Coalition Forum: The Jobless Pandemic-Prescription for Cure. 4 - 6:30 PM at the Zurah Shrine Event Center, 2540 Park Avenue So., Minneapolis. RSVP. --------6 of 20-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Immigrants/MN 11.12 4pm Panel on the Economic Impact of Immigrants in Minnesota Thursday November 12, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. University of Minnesota, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute, Cowles Auditorium, 301 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis. Speakers include: Brian Atwood, Dean, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs; Ana Luisa Fajer Flores, Consul of Mexico in Minnesota; Bill Blazar, Senior Vice President, Business Development and Public Affairs, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce; Rodolfo Gutierrez, Executive Director HACER on "The Need for Credible Research on Immigrants;" Tom Gillaspy, Minnesota State Demographer on "The Aging of Minnesotans;" Katherine Fennelly , Professor, Humphrey Institute "The Economic Impacts of Immigrants in Minnesota;" Raymond Robertson, Macalester College on "Do Mexican Workers Compete With or Complement US Workers?" Endorsed by: the WAMM Immigration Committee. FFI and/or to join the WAMM Immigration Committee: Email r.grengs [at] comcast.net . --------7 of 20-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Eagan vigil 5anniv 11.12 4:30pm 5th Anniversary of Eagan Peace Vigil: Speak Out for Peace! Thursday, November 12, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Intersection of Pilot Knob and Yankee Doodle Roads (across from Lockheed Martin), Eagan. (Park behind SuperAmerica or in the lot by El Loro restaurant, one block west of intersection.) Join others at the 5th anniversary of the Eagan peace vigil followed by dinner at a place yet to be determined. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call Sue, 651-208-3764. --------8 of 20-------- From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 11.12 5pm NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. We'll have extra signs. For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com. --------9 of 20-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Davidov/Masters 11.12 7pm Marv Davidov and Carol Masters Publication Party and Reading: You Can't Do That Thursday, November 12, 7:00 p.m. St. Martin's Table, 2001 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis. Activist Marv Davidov and his biographer Carol Masters discuss his biography, You Can't Do That: Marv Davidov, Non-Violent Revolutionary. "In this full-length biography, we follow the career of Marv Davidov from his years in the Army (he received an honorable discharge 'for the good of the army'), living among the Beats on the U of M campus, participating in the Freedom Rides that helped bring racial integration to the American South, and on to the rallies, conferences and demonstrations in Minnesota, serving to raise public awareness of locally- manufactured bombs and weapons designed to kill and maim. 'I write good letters from prison,' says Davidov, who has been arrested 50 times for acts of civil disobedience'" - book description. Biographer Carol Masters is a long time anti-war activist and writer and serves on the Board of WAMM. Refreshment will be available. Endorsed by: WAMM. --------10 of 20-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: India 11.12 7pm Dr. Robert Carman and Lucile Carman will speak on "India and Global Issues" on Thursday November 12th in a program sponsored by Northwest Neighbors for Peace. This presentation will begin at 7 PM at Spirit of Hope Methodist Church, 7600 Harold Avenue, Golden Valley (near Winnetka Avenue and Hwy. 55). Both Carmans served for 30 years at the interdenominational and international Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore, one of the premier medical institutions in Asia. Dr. Carman, who was born in India, was Head of the Department of Clinical Pathology and a Professor of Pathology; Lu was a librarian and assisted in many departments. Family members continue to reside in India and the Carmans visit there frequently. They will speak about their lengthy involvement there and discuss India's relationship with Pakistan, the unrest in South-Central Asia, world health, climate change, human rights, and any other issues raised by the audience. This program is free and open to the public; for more information contact Carole Rydberg, 763-546-5368. --------11 of 20-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Crude/Ecuador/f 11.13 11am FRIDAY, Nov. 13, 11am, tune in to KFAI's "CATALYST:politics & culture" for a conversation with director JOE BERLINGER as he talks about CRUDE the film he was "dragged kicking and screaing" into making. Going into the rainforest of Ecuador, see the environemntal devastation and human rights violation of Indigenous people due to oil drilling by Texaco-Chevron. Told from multiple points-of-view, Berllinger excavates more than the "David and Goliath" law suite now in progress for 17 years, but, digs into the moral center of our times. Haunting images and sharp questions about the roles of celebrity and an inadequate justice system address multinational crimes against multiple generations and entire peoples.The film screens one week only Nov. 12-20 at the Lagoon Cinema, on Lagoon, one block east of Hennepin, uptown Minneapolis. http://www.landmarkcinema.com PROGRAM CHANGE: WOMEN VETERANS will be briefly begun NOV.13, with a full program next Friday, NOV.20, 11am with HELEN BENEDICT talking about the experience of women soldiers, from her book THE LONELY SOLDIER. --------12 of 20-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: Latina economy 11.13 3:30pm November 13: First Latina Economic Forum, 3:30 to 8:00 PM at the Ameriprise Financial Client Service Center, downtown Minneapolis, convened by the Association of Latina Women of Minnesota. Keynote by Cristina Lopez, president of the National Hispana Leadership Institute, breakout sessions on the economic status of Minnesota Latinas, networking and music by Alma Andina, and dinner. $25 suggested donation. More info at EqualityQuilt. --------13 of 20-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine vigil 11.13 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. --------14 of 20-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: People's bailout 11.13 4:30pm Facing Foreclosure, the Parks family vows to fight back, demands justice from IndyMac Federal Bank On Friday, Nov. 13, 4:30 p.m., Leslie Parks, the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout and the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign will join forces again in the battle against foreclosures and evictions. Leslie Parks, who is facing foreclosure, had made it clear that she will not be put on the streets. The effort to keep the home in the Parks family will be kicked off with a press conference and rally at their home, 3749 Park Avenue in south Minneapolis. "IndyMac Federal Bank needs to come to the table and give my family justice. I have no intention of walking away from the place I call home," states Leslie Parks. Among the speakers at the rally and press conference will be Rosemary Williams, along with leaders of the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign and the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout. The Parks case is a prime example of how this foreclosure crisis is tearing apart the fabric of our communities. Tecora Parks, Leslie's mother, owns the duplex where Leslie lives. After city-ordered window- upgrades, Tecora Parks was swindled into getting an ARM. The man who sold her the ARM lied and insisted it was a conventional loan. It is important to note that Tecora Parks had perfect credit and qualified for a conventional loan hands down. But she was lied to, got swindled into an ARM, lost her good credit and went into foreclosure. "We are demanding that IndyMac Federal Bank come to the table and reach a just settlement with the Parks family, that keeps them in their home," said Lynnette Malles of the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign. "The redemption period ends Nov. 30. Similar to Rosemary Williams, Leslie Parks is determined to fight back against the greedy, swindling banks. The directors of IndyMac are not facing homelessness, but their greed caused the homelessness of thousands," said Linden Gawboy of the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout. [The spiritual redemption period for banksters ended long ago; we know where they will spend eternity. -ed] --------15 of 20-------- From: David Strand <lavgrn [at] gmail.com> From: dar829 <dar829 [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Masqueraded balls 11.13 6pm Greetings! The Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition and Transgender Health Project Shot Clinic is excited to announce our second annual fundraiser: "Masquerade Ball: Unmasking Our Many Genders" Silent auction, entertainment, refreshments, and lots more! Friday, November 13, 2009 6:00 to 7:00pm Arts and Fun Time / Social Hour with Appetizers and Drinks 7:00 to 9:00pm Tranny Jam Cabaret LOCATION: Intermedia Arts 2822 Lyndale Avenue South Minneapolis MN 55407 An evening for trans individuals, providers, allies and all of our GLBTIQQA communities to come together and support our work towards achieving equal health care access and quality health care for ALL OF US. Although we receive grant funding from GLBT foundations such as PFund, we also reply on contributions from our friends, family, providers, allies, and fellow community members to make our work possible. Your donations will help us put on events such as the Trans Health and Wellness Conference and Trans Health Matters community forums. Your support will help educate trans folks on safer hormone injection and provide safe syringe exchange and health assessments through the services offered at the Shot Clinic. Your donations will help train health professionals and students on how to provide equitable, trans-competent care through the services offered by our Training Program, and help provide resources and referral to our communities through our website and online Trans Friendly Provider Directory. Suggested donation per person: $10 - $100. All proceeds will go to MTHC and the Shot Clinic. More details will be coming your way in the weeks to come. If you would like to help by volunteering, performing, sponsoring, or contributing an item or service for the Silent Auction, please contact us at mntranshealth [at] yahoo.com or 612-823-1152. --------16 of 20-------- From: EXCO <excotc [at] gmail.com> Subject: EXCO wellness 11.13 6pm EXCO Wellness Core Kick-Off Friday, November 13, 6:00pm - 8:00pm Helland Center Room 1200, MCTC 1501 Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis, MN EXCO is launching a Wellness Core, a place for people passionate about mental, physical, and spiritual wellness practice to come together to request, design, and/or generally support the creation of amazing Wellness Curriculum through EXCO. Interested in being involved? This is a great opportunity to meet other folks interested in wellness, and to support EXCO's offering amazing wellness classes for various Twin Cities communities. There will be food so please RSVP! Bring ideas, business cards, and friends interested in wellness! RSVP or send questions to Tess Galati at tessgalati [at] gmail.com mailto:tessgalati [at] gmail.com or to David at 651-315-4222. You can also RSVP on our website! --------17 of 20-------- Still Waiting for Health Care by Ralph Nader Wednesday, November 11, 2009 CommonDreams.org The House of Representatives debate on the health insurance "reform" is over with the Democrats failing the people and the Republicans disgracing themselves as having left their minds back in the third grade (with apologies to third graders). House Democrats were determined to pass any bill with a nice sounding name, such as "The Affordable Health Care for America Act". Single payer, full Medicare for all was never on the table even though a majority of citizens, physicians and nurses support that far more efficient, free choice of health care professionals, system. There are no effective cost containment or prevention measures in the bill. The public option is so weak it will be a receptacle for the sickest of patients among the meager number of people who qualify for its coverage. There are no provisions to reduce the number of people (100,000) who die annually from medical malpractice in hospitals. Nor is there a major program to reduce the tens of billions of dollars that is stolen yearly out of Medicare from criminals inside and outside the medical profession. The cover story in the November issue of the AARP Bulletin is on the elaborate but detectable schemes to swindle Medicare with phantom services, phony rentals of equipment, stolen Medicare numbers and the like. The author, Jay Weaver, writes: "So lucrative, and so low-risk, the FBI reports, that a number of cocaine dealers in Florida and California have switched from illicit drugs to Medicare fraud." Although more money is finally going for prosecutions, there is nowhere near enough for this corporate crime wave. Medicare's office of Inspector General asserts that every dollar of law enforcement will save $17 of theft. Computerized billing fraud and abuse takes anywhere from $250 billion to double that estimate by the General Accounting Office. (The GAO said ten percent of health care expenditures are going down the drain.) The reason why the estimates cover such a broad range, according to Professor Malcolm Sparrow of Harvard University, is that there are inadequate resources to document the huge hemorrhaging of the nation's health care budget and come up with better data. Apart from the impoverishment of the debate, there is the actual doing of harm. The bill, if enacted, doesn't take effect until after the presidential elections in 2013, mostly to let the drug and health insurance industries adjust, though they can scarcely believe their good fortune at being delivered all those profitable customers paid for by taxpayers with scarcely any price restraints. The Journal of Public Health has just published a peer-reviewed study by Harvard physicians-researchers that estimates 45,000 Americans lose their lives yearly because they cannot afford health insurance to receive diagnosis and treatment. Strange how cool the House is to giving these fatalities a four year pass. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a leading single payer advocate, voted against this legislation for many reasons, most notably the Obama-driven omission of his amendment to clear the way legally for states to pass their own single payer laws. Several states, such as Pennsylvania, are in the process of moving legislation in this direction, but are concerned that the health insurers will claim federal pre-emption. The victims of medical malpractice - estimated by the Institute of Medicine and the Harvard School of Public Health to be about 100,000 deaths a year - escaped having to overcome more hurdles before they have their full day in court. Helping to beat back the Republicans, who define "medical malpractice reform" as letting the negligent perpetrators get away with their lethal consequences, was Congressman Bruce Braley (D-IA). Rising on the House floor he delivered a factual plea for patient safety. Hardly had he started to speak when Republicans started shouting "trial lawyer, trial lawyer" referring to his previous profession of representing wrongfully injured people before local juries in Iowa. This rare display of shouting by opponents was punctuated by one of their unleashed members rushing down the aisle shouting "You'll pay for this." During this overall debate on the bill, Republicans stood up one by one, as prevaricatory dittoheads, to often scream and howl (like coyotes) that this is "a government takeover of one sixth of the economy," "would destroy the economy," "put 5.5 million people out of work," "destroy the doctor-patient relationship," "be a steamroller of socialism," "force millions of seniors to lose their current health coverage" (meaning, Medicare?) and, in a passionate appeal to the Almighty, Congressman John Fleming (R-LA) declared "God help us as the government takes over your day-to-day life." Never mind that this bill is just an expansion, however misdirected, of government health insurance designed to increase corporate profits and increase the corporate grip over the day-to-day decisions regarding who, when and how people get their health care or get their bills paid. To top off the madness, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), an ever maturing political hermaphrodite, reneged on his assurance to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and imperiously announced on Fox News Sunday that "if the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote." For media-centric Joe, his motto seems to be "L'Senat c'est moi." Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super Wealthy Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions. [Clealy, Nader was too good for us. We "realisticly" prefer lying sneaky sell-outs who prostitute themselves to the rich in the good old 13-stripe 50-star way. -ed] --------18 of 20-------- "Everything You Thought You Knew Is Wrong" Wednesday 11 November 2009 by: Leslie Thatcher, t r u t h o u t | Book Review Russ Baker's "Family of Secrets" establishes that everything we thought we knew about US history of the last fifty years is wrong. Family of Secrets Russ Baker Bloomsbury Press, 2009 There's alternative history and there's secret history. Generally, in the former, the invisible hand of the market and other presumed movers of events are revealed not to work exactly as advertised and the "standard, orthodox, conventional and usually hierarchical ways of telling the story are overturned"(1) as the perspectives of those at the margins of social and political life are given voice. In the latter, the invisible hands are revealed to have nothing whatsoever to do with the supposedly democratic forces of supply and demand, let alone other publicly acknowledged actors and forces. The generally accepted historical narrative is revealed to be not simply skewed, but flat-out wrong. Investigating and reporting the existence of those other invisible hands may be professionally - and even physically - dangerous, as even fair-minded people of like political convictions resist alternative accounts for what they know to be true and dismiss the messenger as a "conspiracy theorist." Investigative reporter Russ Baker has braved that risk and spent over five years of his life researching critical events of the last sixty years in "Family of Secrets," an inquiry into "the Bush dynasty, the powerful forces that put it in the White House, and what their influence means for America." As reporter James C. Moore writes in his preface to the just-issued paperback edition, "There is no conspiracy theory here, simply information that has been corroborated and never before reported and it cries for an explanation." Moore writes in awe that Russ Baker succeeded in uncovering facts that had eluded generations of furiously digging Texas reporters, such as new material related to George Bush's bachelor days and military service, as well as unreported connections in such better-known stories as the younger Bush's oil business failures and suspect profit-taking on the Texas Rangers. Significant as these events are, they seem so many telling details in the great arc of Baker's story, statistics in the "numberless needs to do business unobserved"(2) that characterize the Bush family itself along with its friends and associates. In a narrative that loops back and through its main subjects, Baker traces the connections between the Bush family and private financial circles starting with Prescott Bush and Brown Brothers Harriman and Company, the various Yale and OSS connections; the imbrication of finance, energy and intelligence circles with Bush connections, the career of "Poppy" - former President George H.W. - Bush, his presence in Dallas the day of John F. Kennedy's death, and the dense web of relationships between the Bushes and various actors and sites involved in the Kennedy assassination. The entire book is solidly footnoted and precisely indexed: Baker's meticulous research methods and extremely measured conclusions certainly promote the reader's confidence in the accuracy of his reporting. This method is crucial to his enterprise: however little it will surprise most readers that the Warren Commission's report on the Kennedy assassination was deeply flawed and fatally compromised, most of us who lived through the Watergate hearings will be highly resistant to Baker's evidence that Nixon was actually set up and dragged down by some of the same interests that benefited from Kennedy's assassination. Only the last 200 pages of the nearly 500 pages of text are devoted to the career of the country's last president: the unaccountable young manhood that presaged his unaccountable presidency, the stagecraft - even spycraft - implicated in his religious conversion, the connections between his associates and his father's, the vainglorious motive underpinning his invasion of Iraq, the corruption of FEMA that assured its failure to respond effectively to Hurricane Katrina. Russ Baker has made the broad outline of this history and its implications available in recent articles for Truthout and AlterNet, but for those who crave the details, the nitty-gritty of the accumulated evidence, there can be no substitute for his book in which, with his casual-seeming command of a wide variety of actors, timelines and relationships, he contrives to maintain a narrative drive that propels the reader through these webs and effortlessly supports his premise. Again and again, as he writes in conclusion of the chapter covering Bush's military service and the take-down of Dan Rather, "In the end, it was not reporting or truth that triumphed, but the forces of disinformation. Memogate appears to underline the extent to which the cynical techniques of the spy world have leaped the wall and taken root in the processes of American democracy itself. "This is what Karl Rove and his allies effectuate on a daily basis. While the media thinks it is reporting an electoral contest with a Madison Avenue gloss, something deeper and more insidious is going on, largely unexamined. It is fitting that the Bushes, with their long-standing ties to the covert side of things, have been a vehicle through which the political process has been subverted and the public sandbagged."(3) Since the Kennedy assassination, if not earlier, our electorate has been characterized by a growing malaise - even paranoia - evidenced, for example, by responses to a "CBS News/New York Times poll, from 2004, in which 64 percent of the respondents answered in the affirmative to the first of these choices: "Would you say the government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves or that it is run for the benefit of all the people?" twice the proportion who responded in the affirmative to the same question in the 1960's. Also "within the same 40 year period, the number of Americans who agreed that 'public officials don't care about what people think' also nearly doubled, from 36 to 66 percent."(4) So there is a strong sense that we the people are not in charge; malignant vectors have taken over the real power; what happens in the halls of Congress or 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is but a simulacrum of democracy. Russ Baker makes clear, "We are not dealing here with what are commonly dismissed as 'conspiracy theories.' We are dealing with a reality that is much more subtle, layered and pervasive - a matrix of power in which crude conspiracies are rarely necessary and in which the execution or subsequent cover-up of anti-democratic acts become practically a norm."(5) "Family of Secrets" makes clear that those subjects most taboo in the public conversation: class warfare, undue corporate influence, and the corruption of democratic processes such as the conduct of elections and the conveyance of information are also those most germane to an understanding of recent American history. "History is not what we know; it is what has truly happened. Often the reality of events is hard to process because it shakes our system of beliefs."(6) Cui bono? Those who benefit from both the specific events and the broader shadowy maneuvers Russ Baker details are often described as, think of themselves as, an "elite," the original meaning of which is "elect." Yet, no one other than themselves has consciously chosen this covert coterie that has seeded itself through the governing mechanisms of US society, arrogating power and wealth to itself, a fat and growing parasite on the body politic too greedy and stupid to know to stop before it consumes its host. These forces remain at work regardless of changes in the presidency or the Congress and are already blocking at every pass the overwhelming desire for change expressed by the country in the last presidential election. They require secrecy to succeed because their enterprise could never withstand full public disclosure. Russ Baker's book goes further than any other heretofore in laying bare that tangled web. (1) David Shulman, "A Passion for Hindu Myths," NYRB, November 19, 2009, p. 52. (2) Thomas, Pyncheon, "Inherent Vice," Penquin, 2009, p. 80. (3) Russ Baker, "Family of Secrets," Bloomsbury Press, 2009, (hardcover edition) p. 464. (4) http://blog.buzzflash.com/carpenter/516 (5) http://www.alternet.org/story/121243/ (6) James C. Moore in the Introduction to "Family of Secrets," Bloomsbury Press, paperback edition to be released November 10, 2009. Leslie Thatcher is Truthout's French Language Editor and sometime book reviewer. Bloomsbury Press provided a reviewer copy of "Family of Secrets." --------19 of 20-------- Health Care Reform: Another Victim of US Presidentialism Valerio Volpi November 11th, 2009 Dissident Voice The vote by the US House of Representatives on health care reform has been hailed by many as a victory for those many million Americans deprived of any sort of medical coverage. True, there are important, new developments, which Rose Ann DeMoro of the California Nurses Association does a very good job of explaining. Some of these measures were part of Obama's electoral manifesto during the 2008 campaign. Still, the conceiving of a tax-financed single-payer system, let alone a "socialized" one, is nowhere in sight. It still sounds bizzarre to people like myself, who live on the other side of the pond (where systems, it should be pointed out, differ both in terms of organization, financing and quality, but still rest on the principle of free, or almost free health care for all), that the largest economy in the world would choose not to grant what is considered as a right (generally enshrined in the Constitution) in most of the world's advanced countries. Autocratic Germany passed the Health Insurance Bill in 1883, which was gradually extended to cover the entire population; Britain created the NHS in 1948; Italy officially created its in 1978, to make just a few examples. Too often have I listened to horror stories concerning many Americans (including personal friends) who developed serious illnesses and thanked fate for residing abroad, thus obtaining free health care in their new country of residence. Now, the way this US bill was elaborated and passed represents, in my opinion, further corroboration of the fact that the US presidential system was devised, more than 200 years ago, to attain a specific goal: that is, preventing "radical" legislation from being passed by the political system. As I argue in my book The Roots of Contemporary Imperialism: The Founding Fathers, the U.S. Constitution, and 200 years of corporate dictatorship, the Founding Fathers were cunning enough to devise a system which would create "a path strewn with obstacles in the belief that it would encourage the kind of slow, deliberate politics that were their ideal," as Daniel Lazare has argued; or, as Charles Beard has put it, "disintegration of positive action". The political system they devised aimed at preserving the status quo, that is, domination by an already powerful business elite over the people. Only overwhelming popular pressure, extreme crises and the risk of implosion of the system have led to major legislative breakthroughs (or, rather, "concessions" from the elite), such as, to make just a few examples, the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, the Minimum Wage Act of 1938 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Indeed, as street riots or a widespread popular rebellion directed toward obtaining a national health care system appear as a remote possibility, the vicissitudes of the health care bill show the truthfulness of such assertions. [So it's time to dump this system. -ed] Constitutional engineering alone does not explain the shortcomings of the presidential system. There are three additional elements, not strictly related to the US Constitution, which nevertheless overlap and help create a situation in which: - party nominees are not necessarily their parties' leaders (as a result of primaries), and thus their political platforms do not necessarily tally with their parties.; - with very few exceptions, only those "eager to 'go along to get along,'", as William Domhoff has put it, that is, those willing to accept massive corporate donations will win a Congress seat or the presidency, a phenomenon which is obviously not just Republican, but regards Democrats as well, thus further alienating Democratic voters as well as potential ones; - the electoral system, in joint action with the size of the US territory, stimulates fragmentation and therefore party weakness, thus resulting in lack of party discipline, a situation made even more serious by the influence of corporate interests on elected politicians. These three elements overlap with constitutional ones, such as the rigid separation of powers: two separate Houses, elected in different ways and at different times; and an executive (that is, the President), elected by a state-based electoral college. Thus, the President is not guaranteed a majority in one House, let alone in both; or, the President might have a majority for a limited time, and then lose it at mid-term elections; or, he may have a majority for his entire term of office, but that does not guarantee party discipline or a common plan on specific issues (with Democrats being a perfect example, supporting, for instance, emancipation in the North and Jim Crow in the South). Also, the President is not even allowed to introduce bills into Congress, and therefore has to rely on Congressmen for that; and Congress is fragmented into countless committees and sub-committees, which in most cases do all the work and leave just the final yea or nay to the whole Chamber. Besides, once a bill is passed by one House, the other House will not vote on the same bill, but present its own and, after voting on it, a conciliation committee will meet to find an agreement between the two Chambers (further delaying as well as watering down legislation). Such a complicated, fragmented system cannot help becoming a prey to lobbies. The same applies to the European Union, where the system is absolutely unintelligible even to experts, and the overlapping of different bodies and levels of governance complicates things, and has paved the way for massive lobbying by corporate interests. In my book, I argue that a parliamentary system might mitigate this phenomenon. That is not to say that lobbying and compromise would disappear, far from that. In many parliamentary systems, committees are very powerful and bills are elaborated in closed committee meetings; filibuster is common practice (for example, by introducing hundreds or thousands of amendments, both within a committee or on the floor of the House, or giving endless speeches on each one of these amendments); there are coalitions and minority governments, which may slow down a government's action, as this would need to reach compromises with its majority partners or other parties in Parliament; lobbying and electoral financing may be aggressive; and often bills have to be passed by both Houses of Parliament, although often the Upper House can only delay the passing of the bill, but not prevent it, and the government needs the confidence of the Lower House alone). After all, the existence of economic pressures on the part of powerful interests influencing the work of elected bodies is inborn to capitalistic systems, whether they are parliamentary or presidential democracies. However, when a party or coalition of parties presents a clear platform before an election, and wins a majority, and has the power to present a bill, the government's bill, and defend it on the floor of a House wherein parties, rather than individual MPs, are the leading actors, then, things will be more clear and responsibility for failing to pass a certain piece of legislation will be more easily ascribable. Now, Obama used to be in favor of single-payer when he was a state Senator. In a Youtube video, apparently dating back to 2003, he claimed that "I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its gross national product on health care, cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that's what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single-payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. That's what I'd like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we've got to take back the White House, we've got to take back the Senate, and we've got to take back the House". Apparently, he has changed his mind. Changing one's own mind is legitimate, obviously. However, what is strange is that Obama became less and less convinced about single payer as his political career went on, first at the US Senate, then as a candidate for the Democratic Party's primaries, and then as party nominee (source). Obama's change of heart, however, does not sound too outlandish. Money certainly talks: insurance companies contributed with some $2.3 million for his electoral campaign, and the health sector with almost $19.5 million. In the end, Obama's platform on health care fully reneged on what he had previously backed as an Illinois senator, that is, single-payer. The bill's history is particularly telling in order to show US presidentialism's shortcomings. When Bill Clinton was president, the business world was adamantly opposed to health care reform. Thus, Bill's plan was knocked down even by wide sectors of his own party. Obama's plan, however, is not really clear, because the US presidential system does not allow presidents to bring forward a clear and final proposal, "take it or leave it or I'll ask the President/King/Queen to dissolve Parliament and we'll go to new elections", as might be the case in a parliamentary system. Obama made some more or less clear proposals during the electoral campaign, sure. However, the bill, or, better, bills dealing with health care reform have sprouted like mushrooms, in different centers of power. Obama may talk to Congressmen, visit Congress in order to convince recalcitrant Democrats (as he did on 7 November, a pretty unusual move), but still, he can hardly impose his will (if he has one on the issue) on his Congress majority. The New York Times has given a detailed account of the bill's history. Thus, at the end of March 2009, and with the consent of the insurance industry, concerned about the growing costs of health care, the (all) Democratic chairmen of five Congressional committees had reached an agreement on legislation requiring everyone to carry insurance that employers should be required to help pay for, and allowing the government to offer a public health insurance plan as an alternative to private insurance. However, while House Democratic leaders introduced a bill on 14 June, "which in addition to a public plan included efforts to slow the pace of Medicare spending, a tax on high-income people and penalties for businesses that do not insure their workers,' the seven members of the so-called Blue Dog coalition, consisting "of fiscally conservative Democrats, threatened to block the House bill. After a 10-day impasse, an agreement was reached that would cut the bill's cost and exempt many small businesses from having to provide health benefits to workers. The bill was passed by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on July 31 by a vote of 31 to 28, with five Democrats joining all the panel's Republicans in opposition". The agreement still envisaged the creation by the government of "a public insurance plan to compete with private insurers, but would negotiate rates with health care providers instead of using Medicare fee schedules to pay doctors and hospitals. States could, in addition, set up nonprofit cooperatives to offer coverage to individuals, families and small businesses". In the meantime, the Senate went its own way, as "the Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee worked on a bill with a public insurance plan, while the Senate Finance Committee, led by Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, worked on a bill that sought to avoid one, which Mr. Baucus thought was necessary to gain bipartisan support". The Health Committee's proposal saw the light of day on 2 July: "employers with 25 or more workers would have to provide coverage or pay the government an annual fee of $750 for each full-time worker and $375 for each part-timer. The government would pay the start-up costs for the public insurance option as a loan to be repaid, and premiums would be set up so that the option was ultimately self-sufficient". The bill was passed on 15 July. However, Senator Baucus introduced another bill at the end of August, which "did not include a new government insurance plan to compete with private insurers," and, "unlike the other bills - would impose a new excise tax on insurance companies that sell high-end policies. The bill would not require employers to offer coverage. But employers with more than 50 workers would have to reimburse the government for some or all of the cost of subsidies provided to employees who buy insurance on their own". This proposal was passed on 14 October. In the meantime, Obama, the President and therefore Head of the government, limited himself to a speech to a joint session of Congress in September, and to the aforementioned visit to centrist Democrats on 7 November. So, the bill was passed at the House. However, further compromises had to be reached before the House could actually give its approval. In order to assuage conservative Democrats' fears of losing their Congress seats, it was decided that the public option plan "will have to negotiate rates just as private insurers do, rather than offering a rate set slightly above what Medicare pays," and "the plan will also confront strict controls on abortion. After heavy lobbying by Catholic bishops, the measure was amended to tighten restrictions on abortion coverage in subsidized plans bought through the insurance exchanges, to insure that no federal money is used to pay for an abortion. Both changes angered Ms. Pelosi's base of liberal Democrats, but they chose to support the bill nonetheless". [Sellout Dems who should be kicked out, every last one. To hell with them - none of this slimy, Well you have to be reasonable... Off with their heads! -ed] What will happen next? Senate majority leader Harry Reid has already 'finessed the difference between a health committee bill that included a public option and a Finance Committee bill that favored a system of co-ops by announcing that the merged bill would include a government plan that would let states "opt out". A Republican filibuster, however, is not too remote an option, as independent Senators such as Joseph Lieberman have already announced opposition to any bill containing a public option, and support from conservative Democrats is not guaranteed. There is widespread fear that the reform will lie dormant in Congress for a long time to come. The future of the health care reform in the US is therefore still unclear. Anything might happen: a different version might be passed, after further negotiations between the two Chambers; or the reform might even be put off till doomsday. Still, that is exactly the kind of chaos the Founding Fathers wanted in order to preserve order and stability. Whatever happens at the Senate, health care is not the first victim of US presidentialism, nor will it be the last. Valerio Volpi has a PhD. in Comparative Political Institutions from the University of Bari, Italy. His Ph.D. thesis has been the basis for his book The Roots of Contemporary Imperialism: The Founding Fathers, the U.S. Constitution, and 200 years of corporate dictatorship (University Press of America, 2009). He is currently living in Rome and can be reached at: vvolpi77 [at] yahoo.it. --------20 of 20-------- It takes a village to raise an idiot. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
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