Progressive Calendar 12.15.09
From: David Shove (
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]
Subject: RNC8/free feast 12.15 6pm

The RNC 8 have received joinder at
trial<>, 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

from the RNC 8 Defense Committee (

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:

And read the rest of the solidarity statement from the RNC 8 Defense
Committee here:

--------2 of 13--------

From: Joan Malerich <joanmdm [at]>
Subject: Cuba/black attack 12.15 6:30pm

US Black Intellectuals Attack on Cuba re Racism.  Discussion of reality vs

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.

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

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]>
Subject: Ag/food/fiber/fuel 12.15 7pm

The presents
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

--------4 of 13--------

From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at]>
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:

--------5 of 13--------

From: Linden <Linden_Gawboy [at]>
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.

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]>
Subject: CRA/review cops 12.16 6pm

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]>
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
December 14, 2009

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

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

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]

--------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]

--------10 of 13--------

'Just War' Is Just Words
by Ralph Nader
Saturday, December 12, 2009

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

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

On December 2nd, 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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

--------13 of 13--------

 They say Obama
 was born in Fridley. Aha!
 Damn, we should have guessed.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   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

 Research almost any topic raised here at:
  Dissident Voice
  Common Dreams
 Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones

  • (no other messages in thread)

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.