|Progressive Calendar 12.15.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 15 Dec 2009 14:53:38 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 12.15.09 1. RNC8/free feast 12.15 6pm 2. Cuba/black attack 12.15 6:30pm 3. Ag/food/fiber/fuel 12.15 7pm 4. Alliant vigil 12.16 7am 5. Leslie Parks/court 12.16 8:30am 6. CRA/review cops 12.16 6pm 7. PRT 12.16 6:30pm 8. Bill Quigley - Why ACORN won/a victory for the rule of law [huzzah!] 9. Gary Corseri - Obama out-triangulates Clinton & channels Reagan (poem) 10. Ralph Nader - 'Just war' is just words 11. Louis Proyect - A review of 2009/the winter Of liberal discontent 12. Kip Sullivan - Citizen juries strongly support single-payer 2/6 13. ed - Another Fridley haiku --------1 of 13-------- From: info [at] rnc8.org Subject: RNC8/free feast 12.15 6pm The RNC 8 have received joinder at trial<http://rnc8.org/2009/12/rnc8-tried-together/>, and now they ask you to join them for December's FREE monthly dinner! It's on Tuesday, December 15 from 6-8pm at Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave. S. in Minneapolis. The 8 organized together, were charged together, and will be tried together - now, let's EAT together. Susan Gaertner's office may not have been compelled to disclose all the evidence of spying, but this month's Harvest Feast will surely compel you to come back for seconds or thirds. As always, vegan and vegetarian options will be available. Also, if you missed the memo on Saturday's craft sale, or forgot to get something for Great Aunt Heidi or Uncle Bob, you're in luck! We've moved to make a selection of the leftovers from the sale available for purchase. Make a timely ruling, and amend your schedule to be at Walker Church on Tuesday! -- DEFEND ALL TARGETS OF STATE REPRESSION: SOLIDARITY TO CARRIE FELDMAN AND SCOTT DEMUTH from the RNC 8 Defense Committee (www.rnc8.org) Since the RNC 8 were first arrested and charged with terrorism last year, we have understood that they are not the first nor the last to be targeted by overzealous authorities for their effective political organizing. Furthermore, we believe in defending all targets of state repression. Specifically, we extend our solidarity to Scott DeMuth and Carrie Feldman, two friends and comrades trapped in a "terrorism" witch hunt in Iowa, and ask you to do the same. In 2004, anonymous activists destroyed a vivisection lab at the University of Iowa and rescued 400 animals, a so-called crime which the FBI has been unable to solve. Grasping at straws, the government subpoenaed Feldman and DeMuth to a secretive grand jury investigating the incident. The pair were 15 and 17, respectively, in 2004; neither were animal rights activists. But both were unlucky enough to come to the FBI's attention as part of the massive intelligence gathering operation around the RNC. Refusing to be complicit in the government's fishing expedition by testifying before the grand jury, Feldman was sent to jail, where she remains. DeMuth was also jailed for refusing to testify, but then became the first Midwest activist charged under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) - just one day before the action's statute of limitations was to expire. He is now out of jail, at home in Minneapolis and awaiting trial. Support Scott and Carrie: http://davenportgrandjury.wordpress.com And read the rest of the solidarity statement from the RNC 8 Defense Committee here: http://rnc8.org/2009/12/solidarity-with-carrie-feldman-and-scott-demuth/ --------2 of 13-------- From: Joan Malerich <joanmdm [at] iphouse.com> Subject: Cuba/black attack 12.15 6:30pm US Black Intellectuals Attack on Cuba re Racism. Discussion of reality vs propaganda Tuesday, December 15, 6:30 PM Holy Trinity Church, Bartsch room on the ground floor of 2730 E. 31st St., Minneapolis (enter from the side door off the parking lot). SEE link given below to access articles related to the topic. SENT BY THE MN CUBA COMMITTEE Minnesota Cuba Committee meeting 6:30, Tuesday, December 15; Discussion on Race in Cuba We'd like to invite everyone to a special discussion concerning an attack on the Cuban revolution, a "Declaration" by sixty African-American that alleges that the Revolution has ignored racism and persecutes those who fight against it. Some of the signers are prominent individuals, such as Cornell West We want to have a discussion about the actual situation in Cuba, how the Cubans have responded to the attack and what should be our response. For details go to the "Race in Cuba" link at minnesotacubacommittee.org <http://minnesotacubacommittee.org> Holy Trinity Church, Bartsch room on the ground floor of 2730 E. 31st St., Minneapolis (enter from the side door off the parking lot). --------3 of 13-------- From: Carrie Anne Johnson <greenwarriorbunny [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Ag/food/fiber/fuel 12.15 7pm The http://www.bellmuseum.org/ presents CAFE SCIENTIFIQUE: CAN AGRICULTURE DELIVER FOOD, FIBER AND FUEL? Tuesday, December 15, 2009, 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6 p.m.) Bryant Lake Bowl, 813 W. Lake St. Minneapolis Tickets: $5, $12. (Printed card says "Pay what you can") Call 612-825-8949 for reservations. Nearly everyone has an opinion on agriculture's new contributions to our energy needs. Hear what your neighbors think as we discuss the issues with one of the country's leading scientists, Jason Hill, with the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment. He'll reveal the myths and realities of producing food, fuel and fiber from our planet's finite resources. --------4 of 13-------- From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at] circlevision.org> Subject: Alliant vigil 12.16 7am Join us Wednesday morning, 7-8 am Now in our 14th year of consecutive Wednesday morning vigils outside Alliant Techsystems, 7480 Flying Cloud Drive Eden Prairie. We ask Who Profit$? Who Dies? directions and lots of info: alliantACTION.org --------5 of 13-------- From: Linden <Linden_Gawboy [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Leslie Parks/court 12.16 8:30am Finally, after a long day, Leslie Parks is back in her home! This morning, we went to Housing Court and filed papers against IndyMac/One West for doing an unlawful lockout. In a preliminary order, the judge ruled that IndyMac must let Leslie back in her home. Next we met with Leslie's lawyer who is eager to take her case, particularly since the bank did this to her before. Meanwhile, THE CEO of IndyMac, Terry Laughlin, CALLED LESLIE PERSONALLY, leaving a message that included an apology!!! Later on the phone, through her lawyer, Terry Laughlin explained that they were taking full responsibility for the lockout, and again he wished to offer great apologies to the Parks family. "I want to become personally involved in this" he added. He also said that locksmiths had been standing by outside Leslie's house for hours, waiting for us. It took the locksmiths over two hours to fix all the locks at Leslie's house. In all eight locks had to be replaced - including padlocked closet doors in the basement and interior of the house - there was a lot of senseless damage done to wrench open locked doors. NEXT LEGAL STEP: Housing Court Hearing regarding the illegal lockout. Wednesday, Dec. 16 8:30 a.m. Hennepin County Government Center Third floor Thanks to everyone who spread the word and did calls so we were able to get this outcome. We will never stop the pressure until Leslie gets her house back at terms she can afford! --------6 of 13-------- From: Melissa <smilyus [at] msn.com> Subject: CRA/review cops 12.16 6pm http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cra/index.asp Civilian police Review Authority The CRA Board will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. The purpose of the meeting is to take action on the board report "CRA Participation in Performance Review of MPD Chief Dolan." The meeting will be held in Room 109 Minneapolis Grain Exchange Building, 400 South 4th Street. --------7 of 13-------- From: Margaret Beegle <beegle [at] louberts.com> Subject: PRT 12.16 6:30pm Citizens for Personal Rapid Transit (CPRT) is having a meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 16, beginning at 6:30 p.m., to hear a report from Ed Anderson about the "Podcar" conference in Malmo, Sweden. There is also other interesting news to discuss. The location is the Davanni's at 663 Winnetka Avenue (a long block north of Highway 55) in Golden Valley. --------8 of 13-------- A Victory for the Rule of Law Why ACORN Won By BILL QUIGLEY December 14, 2009 CounterPunch On December 11, 2009, a federal judge ruled that Congress had unconstitutionally cut off all federal funds to ACORN. The judge issued an injunction stopping federal authorities from continuing to cut off past, present and future federal funds to the community organization. ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and its allies in 75 cities will again have access to millions of federal dollars to counsel people facing foreclosure, seeking IRS tax refunds, and looking for affordable low cost housing. ACORN, which has received about $54 million in government grants since 1994, will be able to apply for new federal programs just like any other organization. The court ruled that Congress violated the U.S. Constitution "by singling out ACORN and its affiliates for severe sweeping restrictions" and that such action constitutes illegal punishment or a "bill of attainder". What is a bill of attainder? Even most lawyers have no idea. Bills of attainder are acts of congress which unilaterally punish an individual or organization. Essentially Congress acts as prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. The U.S. Constitution has prohibited bills of attainder since 1787. U.S. founders objected to bills of attainder because in England Parliament passed many such bills against political enemies, used them to throw people in prison and even execute them without trial. Congress punished ACORN without even trying to figure out if any laws had been broken or allowing the 500,000 member organization to defend itself. What about protecting the taxpayers against fraud? As the court pointed out, there are many legal ways for the government to investigate and terminate federal contractors which have been proven to engage in fraud or illegal activity. But Congress did not want to wait for trials or proof or to allow ACORN due process. Conservatives developed a voting majority and imposed punishment without a hearing or anything. ACORN has been a target of right-wing politicians for years. Conservatives hate ACORN primarily because it registered over two million people to vote since 2003 and because it has an overwhelming African American, working class, democratic-voting, membership. Fox News is obsessed with ACORN. Google Fox News and ACORN and you will see over two million hits. Google Glenn Beck and ACORN and you get over a million hits, six hundred thousand for Rush, and three hundred thousand for Michelle Malkin. Right wing members of Congress accused ACORN of being a "shell game" using millions of taxpayer dollars "to advertise for a political candidate" and which "helped President Obama get elected". After a highly dubious right-wing sting operation in September, the conservative media machine overran Congress members, including, sadly, many democrats, and passed the bill of attainder cutting off all federal funds to ACORN and any affiliates, subsidiaries and allies. Most Congress reps knew full well this was an illegal bill of attainder as it was pointed out in the debates and even by the Congressional Research Office, but voted to let it go through anyway. Representatives Nadler and Grayson and Senator Leahy, among others, repeatedly pointed out that this was unconstitutional. Democrats who voted for the bill of attainder included many who had sought and received help from ACORN members in the past. They have some explaining to do. Progressives who remained silent while the nation's largest low income African American community organization was under attack also should re-think their lack of support. Did anyone think that if the right-wingers took down Van Jones and ACORN they would stop there? What is ahead? Surely the conservative opponents of ACORN will continue to bloviate and continue to try to put ACORN out of business. There will likely be fights galore. But with this ruling the fights will be a little fairer. ACORN won this case. The U.S. Supreme Court has called the prohibition of congressional bills of attainder a "bulwark against tyranny". Here the bulwark against tyranny worked to stop the right-wing smear machine. But the rule of law won too. And all of us and Congress have again been taught a valuable lesson - there are no shortcuts when it comes to following the Constitution. Bill Quigley is a Loyola Law professor working at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Bill can be contacted at quigley77 [at] gmail.com. --------9 of 13-------- Obama Out-triangulates Clinton and Channels Reagan by Gary Corseri December 14th, 2009 Dissident Voice Of course we understand the folly of war, But it's a Grand Old Flag Which we've planted into the navels Of people all over the world in order to Safeguard their digestion So they can enjoy the benefits Of life, liberty, democracy And regular bowel movements. Let me be clear: The United States opposes torture Under every circumstance, without exception, But, of course, we will do whatever is necessary To uphold our values And to ensure our vital interests. Sometimes that means innocent people get hurt, Mistakenly tortured, and even die. But we will always extend a helping hand to What remains of their families And we will not hesitate to express our gratitude For their sacrifices to our highest principles. We did not ask for this war. We recognize that the vast majority of the Afghan people Did not ask for this war And we will do everything in our power to ensure That they will never have to not ask for war again. We are not perfect; mistakes have been made. But, we have shed our blood - well, not our blood, But the blood of our working classes And oceans of blood in other countries. Because we recognize that our ideals Often entail the spillage of blood. Let the world never forget That we are a country that was born Out of the spillage of blood In our opposition to King George's tyranny And that we did a lot more spillaging During our Civil War which was also about Some serious, hard choices. Let the world never forget That we have spillaged whole continents of blood Of red, yellow, black, brown - and even white - Men, women, children, dogs, cats and canaries In pursuit of the happiness of our leisure classes And our unique versions of freedom and justice. We will never shirk our duties, And I repeat, emphatically, I did not have sex with that woman; And, further, Tiger Woods is a great athlete And so was Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King. Whose name I will never stop invoking In order to remind everyone That I am pretty much the same color, And to salve the consciences of those "progressives" Who voted for me, thinking I was someone else. Never forget that I am standing in his long shadow. In conclusion, the future is not inevitable But we will all get there eventually So long as we have the audacity of hope And keep our entrails clean with colonics And see the bright dawn And lift up our eyes unto the hills, The stars and the mountains. A rising tide will lift all boats And the trickle down theory Is not about the rich pissing on the poor, But, as my father used to say, If you put someone on a pedestal They will surely piss in your mouth. But, we don't worry about that. There are no cynics here, Only us brave pioneers. . Only us brave pioneers In this great city on a hill, Marching in our steel-toed boots, Round and round the mulberry tree, singing. America, America, God shed His grace on thee!. Gary Corseri has had his work published at Dissident Voice and hundreds of other venues, performed at the Carter Presidential Library, had dramas on Atlanta-PBS and elsewhere. He has taught in prisons and universities. His books include Holy Grail, Holy Grail, A Fine Excess, and Manifestations (edited). He can be reached at: gary_corseri [at] comcast.net. --------10 of 13-------- 'Just War' Is Just Words by Ralph Nader Saturday, December 12, 2009 CommonDreams.org President Obama, the Afghan war escalator, received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, and proceeded to deliver his acceptance speech outlining the three criteria for a "just war" which he himself is violating. The criteria are in this words: "If it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence." After 9/11, warmonger George W. Bush could have used the international law doctrine of hot pursuit with a multilateral force of commandoes, linguists and bribers to pursue the backers of the attackers. Instead, he blew the country of Afghanistan apart and started occupying it, joined forces with a rump regime and launched a divide-and-rule tribal strategy that set the stage for a low-tiered civil war. Eight years later, Obama is expanding the war within a graft-ridden government in Kabul, fraudulent elections, an Afghan army of northern tribesmen loathed by the southern and south-eastern tribes of 40 million Pashtuns, an impoverished economy whose largest crop by far is a narcotic, and a devastated population embittered by foreign occupiers and non-existent government services. President Obama's national security adviser, former Marine General James Jones, said two months ago: "The al-Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies." Since Mr. Obama repeats George W. Bush's reason for going into Afghanistan - to destroy al-Qaeda-why is he sending 30,000 soldiers plus an even greater number of corporate contractors there in the near future at a cost stated by the White House of one million dollars per solider per year? Is this "proportional force"? Always small in number, al-Qaeda has moved over the border into Pakistan and anywhere its supporters can in the world-east Africa, north Africa, Indonesia. The gang is a migrant traveler. Is Obama pouring soldiers into Afghanistan so that they and our inaccurate, civilian-destroying drones can start fighting across the border in Pakistan, as indicated by The New York Times? Beyond the violations of international law and absence of constitutional authorization involved, this could so roil Pakistanis as to make the U.S. experience next door look like a modest struggle. Obama has emphasized weakening the Taliban as the other objective of our military buildup with its horrible consequence in casualties and other costs. Who are the Taliban? They include people with different causes, such as protecting their valleys, drug trafficking to live on, fighters against foreign occupiers or, being mostly Pashtuns, protecting their tribal turf against the northern Tajiks and Uzbecks. How many Taliban fighters are there? The Pentagon estimates around 25,000. Their methods make them unpopular with the villagers. They have no air force, navy, artillery, tanks, missiles, no bases, no central command. They have rifles, grenade launchers, bombs and suiciders. Unlike al-Qaeda, they have only domestic ambitions counteracted by their adversarial tribesmen who make up most of the Afghan army. Robert Baer, former CIA officer with experience in that part of Asia, asserted: "The people that want their country liberated from the West have nothing to do with al-Qaeda. They simply want us gone because we're foreigners, and they're rallying behind the Taliban because the Taliban are experienced, effective fighters." To say as Obama inferred in his Oslo speech that the greater plunge into Afghanistan is self-defense, with proportional force and sparing civilians from violence is a scale of self-delusion or political cowardliness that is dejecting his liberal base. For as President Eisenhower stated so eloquently in his 1953 "cross of iron" speech, every dollar spent on munitions and saber-rattling takes away from building schools, clinics, roads and other necessities of the American people. The Afghan War and the Iraq war-occupation - already directly costing a trillion dollars - are costing the American people every time Washington says there is not enough money for neonatal care, occupational disease prevention, cleaner drinking water systems, safer hospitals, prosecution of corporate criminals, cleaner air or upgrading and repairing key public facilities. Even the hardiest and earliest supporters of his presidential campaign in 2008 are speaking out. Senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus, such as John Conyers (D-MI) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) have recently criticized the President for not doing enough to help African-Americans weather the hard times. In a stinging ironic rebuke to the first African-American President, Rep. Waters declared "We can no longer afford for our public policy to be defined by the worldview of Wall Street." According to Congressman Conyers, an upset Barack Obama called to ask why the Michigan lawmaker was "demeaning" him. Conyers has been increasingly turned off by the President's policies - among them health care reform, the war in Afghanistan, slippage on Guantanamo and the extension of the Patriot Act's invasive provisions. The 80-year old Congressman spent most weekends in 2007 and 2008 tirelessly on the campaign trail trying to get Obama elected. White House aides are not troubled by the rumblings from the moderate Left. They said they have all of 2010 to bring them back into the fold by the November Congressional elections. Besides, where else are they going to go? Well, they could stay home. Remember 1994 and the Gingrich takeover. 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. --------11 of 13-------- Perspectives: A Review of 2009 The Winter Of Liberal Discontent by Louis Proyect (Swans - December 14, 2009) When Obama took office last January, liberal voices in the United States greeted him as the second coming of FDR even if it was acknowledged that it might take a push from below to bring a new New Deal into fruition. The thought that Obama had more in common with Herbert Hoover never entered their minds, needless to say. In less than one year since inauguration day, the bloom seems to have faded from the rose. On December 2nd, Politico.com reported that "Jane Hamsher leads left away from White House," a reference to the fact that the liberal Firedoglake blogger has organized her supporters to challenge centrist Democrats willing to compromise with the Republicans over health care. As a 50-year-old survivor of three bouts with breast cancer, the issue is intensely personal as well as political. She told Politico that "I don't know how you live through that" without money, having spent some $60,000 out-of-pocket despite being fully insured. If you've seen Michael Moore's Capitalism: a Love Story, you'll surely remember how the documentary treated Obama's election. Despite acknowledging that he had been the beneficiary of massive contributions from Goldman Sachs, the movie's primary villain, he was seen as the possible coming of FDR. Despite being a slavish backer of whichever candidate the Democrats dredged up in the last two elections, including mass murderer General Wesley Clark, Moore has shown signs that the honeymoon is over. He composed an open letter to the president on the eve of his speech calling for 30,000 more troops in Afghanistan: "When we elected you we didn't expect miracles. We didn't even expect much change. But we expected some. We thought you would stop the madness. Stop the killing. Stop the insane idea that men with guns can reorganize a nation that doesn't even function as a nation and never, ever has. "Stop, stop, stop! For the sake of the lives of young Americans and Afghan civilians, stop. For the sake of your presidency, hope, and the future of our nation, stop. For God's sake, stop." Considering the fact that Obama ignored the filmmaker's advice, one wonders if he will now regard him as continuing "the madness," "the killing," and "the insane idea" that the U.S. can do any good in Afghanistan. Former student radical in the 1960s and long-time Democratic Party politician Tom Hayden has taken a course of action that would be de rigueur for Moore at this point: "It's time to strip the Obama sticker off my car. "Obama's escalation in Afghanistan is the last in a string of disappointments. His flip-flopping acceptance of the military coup in Honduras has squandered the trust of Latin America. His Wall Street bailout leaves the poor, the unemployed, minorities and college students on their own. And now comes the Afghanistan-Pakistan decision to escalate the stalemate, which risks his domestic agenda, his Democratic base, and possibly even his presidency. (Nation Magazine, December 1, 2009 "Obama Announces Afghanistan Escalation.")" Also joining the ranks of the disillusioned is Garry Wills, who blogs at The New York Review of Books, a standard bearer of conventional liberal thought dressed in academic cant. Wills, an author of dozens of books on American politics, feels like he has been cheated: "If we had wanted Bush's wars, and contractors, and corruption, we could have voted for John McCain. At least we would have seen our foe facing us, not felt him at our back, as now we do. The Republicans are given a great boon by this new war. They can use its cost to say that domestic needs are too expensive to be met - health care, education, infrastructure. They can say that military recruitments from the poor make job creation unnecessary. They can call it Obama's war when it is really theirs. They can attack it and support it at the same time, with equal advantage. "I cannot vote for any Republican. But Obama will not get another penny from me, or another word of praise, after this betrayal. And in all this I know that my disappointment does not matter. What really matters are the lives of the young men and women he is sending off to senseless deaths. (NYRBlog, "Afghanistan: The Betrayal.")" But perhaps the most important defection has come from African Americans, who initially hoped that having the country's first black president might put their problems on the front burner. Charles Blow, an African American op-ed columnist for The New York Times, considered what it meant to be "Black in the Age of Obama" and found it lacking. If anything, blacks have been put on the back burner if not down the kitchen drain entirely: "According to a Gallup report published on Nov. 24, Obama's approval rating among whites has dropped to 39 percent, but among blacks it remains above 90 percent... "This means that Obama can get away with doing almost nothing to specifically address issues important to African-Americans and instead focus on the white voters he's losing in droves. This has not gone unnoticed. In the November 9 Gallup poll, the number of blacks who felt that Obama would not go far enough in promoting efforts to aid the black community jumped 60 percent from last summer to now." This has indubitably caught the attention of elected black officials. An article titled "Black Caucus tells Obama you've done too little for African-Americans" appeared in the December 2, 2009 edition of thehill.com. It began: "Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members on Wednesday criticized the Obama administration for not doing enough to help African-Americans through the bleak economy. "Soon after withholding their votes on a wide-ranging financial services bill, 10 CBC members said they are pressuring the White House to do more. "The House Financial Services Committee voted 31-27 in favor of the bill, but the lawmakers' boycott came on a major financial measure the administration wants to see Congress pass this month. "We have not been forceful enough in our efforts to protect the most vulnerable of our population," said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who represents one of the nation's poorest districts. "We can no longer afford for our public policy to be defined by the worldview of Wall Street." Given the high level of expectation that Obama would break not only with George W. Bush's policies but also with the Democratic Party's most recent stints in the White House (an illusion created partially by Obama's dismissal of Hillary Clinton as a kind of relic of failed policies), it was inevitable that liberals would feel cheated. Since there were ample signs that Obama would be another Bill Clinton despite rhetoric to the contrary, you can say that people like Garry Wills only had themselves to blame. The chorus of disapproval is louder than any I have heard from liberal quarters since 1967 when another very popular Democrat did an about-face once he was in office. When LBJ ran as a peace candidate, very few people - except unrepentant Marxists - would have anticipated a massive escalation in Vietnam. It was well understood a year ago that Obama was committed to escalating the war in Afghanistan, but the liberal base of the Democratic Party was too mesmerized by the mantras of "hope" and "change" to believe that their candidate would actually carry out his promise. There is a tendency to regard right-wing Republican presidents being replaced by idealistic-appearing Democrats who betray their supporters, thus enabling a new Republican candidate to take over the White House, as a kind of Western version of karma. We are compelled by universal law in some way to undergo an endless cycle of suffering without hope of redemption short of Enlightenment. This, however, gives the two-party system a permanence that it ill deserves. In reality, the Republican Party was a response to the very same sense of disillusionment that we are seeing now among liberal politicians and pundits. A debate about slavery had been going on for decades, but the two main parties - Whig and Democrat - found ways to maintain the system, just as the two main parties agree on imperialism and wage slavery. Discontent was at first expressed in minor parties that did not last very long - like the Free Soil Party - but when a critical mass had been reached, history gave birth to the Republican Party. There is a propensity on the left to flagellate itself for not crafting arguments that are convincing enough to persuade the masses to vote for Nader or to take even more radical measures. In reality it is the capitalist system itself that will open people up to alternative ways of thinking and acting, not some particularly ingenious leaflet. Increasingly, there are signs that the ruling class - to use a quaint term associated with the fringe politics of Marxism - is being forced to deepen its attack on the safety net that has been in place since the New Deal. It was such reforms that served to prop up the system in a turbulent era when the capitalist class's back was against the wall. FDR calculated that Social Security, the right to organize trade unions, and a firm hand on Wall Street would strengthen the system, despite the objection of individual plutocrats who resented a loss of control. In lurching to the left, FDR was acting on behalf of his entire class. The fact that ordinary people voted for these measures was almost superfluous. Ever since the Carter presidency, the ruling class has been united around the need to dump the New Deal safety net. While this attack has been associated primarily with the Reaganites, it was initiated under the Carter administration that had embarked on deregulation policies amounting to a dagger aimed at the heart of the New Deal. Deregulation was not something that was cooked up after a Carter administration official reacted favorably to an Ayn Rand novel. It was instead driven by the exigencies of capitalist competition. With a revived Germany and Japan, the U.S. needed to evolve toward a leaner and hungrier socioeconomic model to compete effectively. This continues unabated under Obama. Eventually, the government will be forced to increase the level of pain suffered by ordinary Americans. This was alluded to in a Huffington Post article titled "America Without a Middle Class." Author Elizabeth Warren, who chairs the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel, states: "Can you imagine an America without a strong middle class? If you can, would it still be America as we know it? "Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can't make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put ten million homeowners out on the street." As a rule of thumb, consciousness tends to lag behind historical events. Most people, including those on the left, are reacting to today's crisis through the lenses of the 1980s when American capitalism still had a lot more leeway. In the past 20 years or so, the structural contradictions of the system have grown more pronounced while its ability to bottle up discontent through concessions has decreased. This is a function of the system's inability to provide well-paying jobs in a manufacturing-based economy, the hallmark of FDR's New Deal. Eventually we will see explosive reactions to the inexorable rise of class divisions such as the kind seen in student protests in California against tuition hikes. Attacks on Social Security, Medicare, unemployment benefits, and other "entitlements" will create the kind of antagonisms that made the New Deal or more radical alternatives inevitable. This time we must find a way to create a viable radical alternative in order to move to a more just and rational system on a permanent basis. There is no karma that condemns us to repeat the past, thank goodness. --------12 of 13-------- Two-thirds of Americans support Medicare-for-all (#2 of 6) Citizen juries demonstrate massive support for single-payer By Kip Sullivan, JD "They contradicted both beltway and public opinion polls. The whole damn world seems to think the Clinton plan is the way to go. Yet they like the single-payer system, which isn't even getting considered in Washington". That was how the president of the Jefferson Center characterized the outcome of a five-day "citizen jury" experiment in which 24 "jurors" listened to and questioned 30 experts on health care reform. (Patrick Howe, "'Citizens jury" supports Wellstone's health care proposal over Clinton plan," Minneapolis Star Tribune, October 15, 1993, 10A.) Of those 30 experts, only one, Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN), spoke in favor of single-payer. (Gail Shearer of Consumers Union, which had endorsed single-payer by 1993, was one of the 30 experts to speak to the jury, but it is not clear from the Jefferson Center record that she spoke in favor of single-payer.) The jury heard expert testimony for and against all three of the major types of health care reform legislation that have been promoted in the US over the last four decades. Senator Wellstone presented the case for his single-payer bill, numerous speakers made the case for Bill Clinton's managed competition bill (a bill based on competition between insurance companies that use managed-care cost-control techniques), and numerous speakers made the case for what later came to be called "consumer-driven" health insurance policies (competition between insurance companies that sell policies with deductibles on the order of $2,000 for individuals and $5,000 for families). The jury voted by massive majorities to reject the market-based proposals - managed competition and high-deductible policies - and, by a landslide majority (17 out of 24, or 71 percent), to endorse Wellstone's single-payer bill. At the time the Jefferson Center report noted only that a majority of jurors voted for single-payer. The actual vote count was reported years later by Barry Casper in his book, Lost in Washington: Finding the Way Back to Democracy in America. The unbearable lightness of polls Observers were surprised at the jury's rejection of the Clinton plan because polls taken at the time the Jefferson Center jury was meeting (the second week of October 1993) were reporting that a majority of the public supported Clinton's Health Security Act, his "managed competition within a budget" bill that was supposed to create a system of universal health insurance. For example, a Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll (see Exhibit 1 page 10) released on September 24, 1993 showed 59 percent endorsed Clinton's bill. But just three weeks later, on October 14, 1993, the jury rejected Clinton's bill by a vote of 19 to 5. Five jurors out of 24 comes to 21 percent, far below the 60-percent level one would have expected based on polls. The enormous gap between the citizens jury's vote on Clinton's bill and contemporary poll results illustrates a well known problem with polls: Although they can produce consistent and accurate results when the question is about something the respondents are familiar with, such as whether they have health insurance, they can produce wildly divergent and inaccurate results when the question is about a complex issue that respondents have had little time to study or even to think about. Contrast, for example, a 2007 AP-Yahoo poll, which found 65 percent of Americans support a Medicare-for-all system, with a 2009 CBS poll which found only 50 percent think "government" would do a "better job" of providing health insurance than the insurance industry. The AP-Yahoo poll posed this question (the order of the two solutions was reversed from one respondent to the next): Which comes closest to your view? The United States should continue the current health insurance system in which most people get their health insurance from private employers, but some people have no insurance; The United States should adopt a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers. Sixty-five percent of respondents chose the second solution - the Medicare-for-all solution - while only 34 percent chose the current system. Now consider the June 12-16, 2009 CBS poll which asked: "Do you think the government would do a better or worse job than private insurance companies in providing medical coverage?" Fifty percent said "the government" would do a better job versus 34 percent who said "the government" would do a worse job. Now, just to raise your skepticism about polls another notch, consider this wrinkle. When CBS asked the same question two months later - during August 27-31, 2009 - they found 13 to 14 percent of respondents had changed their minds in favor of the insurance industry. That is, by late August (by which time dozens of tumultuous "town hall" meetings about the Democrats' health care "reform" legislation had taken place), the percent who thought "the government" would do a better job had fallen to 36 (from 50 percent) while the percent who thought "the government" would do a worse job had risen to 47 (from 34 percent). How do we make sense of these seemingly contradictory results? Do we trust the late-August CBS poll and say only one-third of Americans support single-payer? Or do we go with the AP-Yahoo poll and say two-thirds support single-payer? Or do we split the difference and say the June CBS poll got it about right - that half of Americans support single-payer? Fortunately, we are not reduced to rolling dice or drawing straws. We can examine research that uses methods more reliable than those used by the typical poll, notably two citizen jury experiments. And we can examine polls that have produced contradictory results to see if we can find a reason why. I will use the remainder of this paper to report on the two citizen juries. I'll examine polling data more closely in Part III of this series. The Jefferson Center's methodology The Jefferson Center, a non-profit organization created in 1974 by Ned Crosby, invented the "citizen jury" label and developed the rules for them that are now used around the world, especially in the United Kingdom. These methods include: random selection of jurors; selection of experts and moderation of the discussion in a manner that minimizes bias; recording of the proceedings; a report from the jury indicating votes taken on major issues presented to it and recommendations from the jury; questionnaires for jurors after the jury has completed its work to inquire about their perception of the fairness of the process; and oversight and review by a steering committee to minimize bias. The 24 jurors who gathered in a Washington, DC hotel on Sunday, October 10, 1993 were randomly selected from a pool of 2000. They included a 23-year-old college student from Colorado, a 27-year-old carpenter from Wisconsin, a 32-year-old janitor from Minnesota, a 44-year-old village clerk from New York, a 46-year-old banker from Indiana, a 51-year-old antique dealer from California, a 59-year-old retired nurse from Louisiana, and a 75-year-old retired insurance agent from Florida. Ten had voted for Clinton in the 1992 election, nine for George H.W. Bush, and five for Ross Perot. Three had no health insurance. The experts who addressed the jury included three sitting US Senators, two former members of the House of Representatives, and 25 other experts including Gail Wilensky (who was the director of Medicare under the first President Bush and is a member of numerous corporate boards), Ira Magaziner (who directed Hillary Clinton's health care reform task force), and Ron Pollack (director of Families USA). The discussion was moderated by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Former CBS and NBC TV anchor Roger Mudd was on hand to film a documentary which aired in April 1994. After five days of listening to and cross-examining the 30 experts (the jury asked the experts more than 500 questions), the jurors refused even to vote on the "managed competition lite" proposal presented by Senator Dave Durenberger (R-MN) and a high-deductible (Medical Savings Account) proposal presented by Senator Don Nickles (R-OK). In other words, the jury rejected the Durenberger and Nickle's legislation by a vote of 24 to zero. They rejected Clinton's Health Security Act by a vote of 19 to 5. When they were asked how many supported Sen. Wellstone's single-payer bill (S. 491), 17 of 24 (71 percent) raised their hands. Washington Post columnist William Raspberry wrote at the time: Perhaps most interesting about last week's verdict is its defiance of inside-the-Beltway wisdom that says a single-payer plan can't be passed. These jurors think it can - and ought to be. (William Raspberry, "Citizens jury won over by merits of Wellstone's single-payer plan," Washington Post, October 21, 1993, 23A) I have already noted one reason why observers were surprised by the jury's votes, namely, polls taken around the time the jury met indicated a majority of the public liked Clinton's bill. But there was another reason to be surprised: The Jefferson Center created a playing field that was steeply tilted against Wellstone's single-payer bill. To begin with, the Center limited the jury to two questions: "Do we need health care reform in America?" and, "Is the Clinton plan the way to get the health care reform we need?" Second, the agenda called for presentations by a team of Republicans and their expert witnesses arguing for Republican proposals, and a team of Democrats and their expert witnesses arguing for Clinton's Health Security Act. (The Republican team was managed and represented by former Minnesota Congressman Vin Weber; the Democrats were led by Hill and Knowlton lobbyist and former Connecticut Congressman Toby Moffett.) There was no team advocating for single-payer. There was only Wellstone. But the jury was so attracted to Wellstone's description of his bill during his initial presentation that they voted 22-0 to invite him back for two more question periods (see page 10 of the Jefferson Center report). No other witness was asked back even once. "In fact," noted columnist Raspberry, "when the Minnesotan [Wellstone] dropped in at the jury's farewell dinner Thursday night, he got a standing ovation". To sum up: The Jefferson Center's citizen jury methodology was far more rigorous than any two- or three-sentence poll can be, and yet even the methods used for that jury permitted substantial bias against the single-payer approach. A total of 30 experts spoke to the Jefferson Center jury over five days. Only one of them, Senator Wellstone, made the case for single-payer. Even though the question of whether to support or oppose single-payer was not on the agenda, the jury took the initiative to get more information about it. The jury did not have to do that for any other proposal. Despite these obstacles, the single-payer proposal won by a 71-percent majority. Minnesota citizen jury endorses single-payer by 79 percent On October 1, 1996 I was part of another citizen jury project sponsored by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Twin Cities Public TV which used a methodology similar to the Jefferson Center's jury and which had a nearly identical outcome. In this case, the jury consisted of 14 randomly selected Minnesotans, only three experts spoke, and the entire event lasted just four hours. I made the case for single-payer (at that time I represented Minnesota Citizens Organized Acting Together), Michael Scandrett (then the director of the Minnesota Council of HMOs) stated the case for managed competition, and a woman who had just left a job with the Minnesota Department of Health to create her own advocacy group for Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs, now referred to as Health Savings Accounts) presented the argument for MSAs. At the end of four hours, the moderator for the evening (an officer of the Minnesota League of Women Voters) put several questions to the jury for a vote. Her first question asked each juror which proposal they supported. Eight voted for single-payer, three voted for managed competition, one woman split her vote between single-payer and managed competition (she said she wanted the two proposals to be married somehow), no one voted for MSAs, and two of the 14 abstained. If we allocate a half of the vote by the woman who wanted some combination of managed competition and single-payer to each proposal, single-payer's total was 8.5, or 61 percent of the 14 jurors. The moderator's second question asked whether the jurors would support universal coverage under a single-payer system if citizens had to pay $1,000 more in taxes that were offset by $1,000 in reduced premiums and out-of-pocket costs. (This is a conservative estimate of what would happen. It is likely that aggregate premium and out-of-pocket costs would decline more than aggregate taxes would go up under a single-payer system, and very likely that premium and out-of-pocket costs would decline substantially more than taxes would go up for lower- and middle-income Americans.) Eleven said yes to this question, and three abstained. If we treat this latter vote as the definitive vote for single-payer, then it would be accurate to say 79 percent voted for single payer. Finally, the moderator asked if the jury thought Congress had failed to give single-payer a fair hearing. Again, 11 (79 percent) said yes and three said no. (Glenn Howatt, "Canadian-style care starting to look more attractive to panelists," Minneapolis Star Tribune October 9, 1996, A15) Stay tuned for Part 3: "Informative polls show two-thirds support for single-payer". --------13 of 13-------- They say Obama was born in Fridley. Aha! Damn, we should have guessed. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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