Progressive Calendar 01.04.10
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Mon, 4 Jan 2010 09:50:11 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   01.04.10

1. Biofuels         1.04 1:15pm
2. Peace walk       1.04 6pm RiverFalls WI
3. Uhcan-mn         1.04 7pm

4. Cynthia McKinney 1.05 5pm

5. AlliantACTION    1.06 7am
6. Merriam/peace    1.06 6pm

7. Ian Welsh     - Why Democrats are trying to commit electoral suicide
8. Chris Hedges  - The pictures of war you aren't supposed to see
9. Dave Lindorff - Sue the bastards: go to court vs health care "reform"
10. James Petras - One day's read of the Financial Times
11. ed           - Political haiku
12. ed           - Literary haiku

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

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org>
Subject: Biofuels 1.04 1:15pm

January 4: Minneapolis Branch American Association of University Women
Meeting. 9:30 - 10:30 AM: A Unique Way to Discover Minneapolis History.
10:45 - 11:45 AM: Mental Illness- Resources for Families. 11:45 - Noon:
Announcements. Noon - 1:15 PM: Luncheon. 1:15 - 2:15 PM: Food, Biofuels,
and Environmental Sustainability. First Christian Church, 2201 1st Avenue
South, Minneapolis.


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

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Peace walk 1.04 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022


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

From: Joel Albers <joel [at] uhcan-mn.org>
Subject: Uhcan-mn 1.04 7pm

Next Universal Health Care Action Network of MN (UHCAN-MN)
organizing meeting.
Monday Jan 4, 7pm

Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S., Mpls,(1 block from Lake str and
Bloomington Ave. Lower-Level

Agenda:
1.review consensus process,basic rules
2.Reportbacks: 12/19 Protest on Ice; Network Bldg results?;website;on-
line fundraising;
                                 basic flyering;
3.National HC debate is still in play; analysis, actions to take ?
4.MLK Day, bring out the big MLK puppet for the Procession.
5.MN state legislative session;analysis,actions to take
6.UHCAN-MN Film Series: Rare 20" footage of Seattle 10th
Anniversary;analysis,
Implications for HC direct action; Rebecca's film ?; other films ?

Let me know if you want to add an agenda item.
As always, hot tea, refreshments, in a toasty art gallery w/ cozy
couches


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

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: Cynthia McKinney 1.05 5pm

Dear St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm,
midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow!  All
households with basic cable may watch.

Tues, 1/5 @ 5pm & midnight + Wed, 1/6, 10am
"Cynthia McKinney, Part 1"

The 6 term US Congresswoman and 2008 Green Party Pres. candidate speaks
candidly about lobby power in Washington DC, her experiences in trying to
break the siege of Gaza, her experience running for public office as an
outsider, the role of primary elections in her home state of GA and much
more.


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

From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at] circlevision.org>
Subject: AlliantACTION 1.06 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


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

From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at] MPPeace.org>
Subject: Merriam/peace 1.06 6pm

2010 Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace Meetings

First Wednesday of each month
6-7:45pm. (Note time change due to reduced library hours)
Merriam Park Library ^ Basement Meeting Room A or B
1831 Marshall Avenue (at Fairview Avenue), St. Paul, MN
Wednesday, January 6, 2010


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

Why Democrats Are Trying to Commit Electoral Suicide
by Ian Welsh
Monday, January 4
Open Left
Common Dreams

Forty-five percent of the Democratic base now says they aren't going to
vote in 2010 or are thinking of not voting.  This is a direct result of
Democrats in Congress and the Presidency doing things the base disagrees
with or not doing things the base wants to see done.  It appears
politically stupid to act as they have, and yet, they did.  So why?

Elected Democrats at the Federal level are members of the national elite.
If they weren't a member when they were elected, they are quickly brought
into the fold.  They are surrounded by lobbyists, other members and
staffers who were lobbyists, as a rule.  They learn they need to raise
immense amounts of money in the off years when normal people aren't
giving, and that the only way to raise that money is for corporate
interests and rich people to write the checks.  They also receive the
benefits of elite status, very quickly. It's not an accident that the
every Senator except Bernie Sanders is wealthy.

Whatever Americans think, whether they support a public option or single
payer; whether they're for or against Iraq or Afghanistan; whether they
agree with bailing out banks or not, elite consensus is much much narrower
than American public opinion.  It starts at the center right and heads
over to reactionary (repeal the entire progressive movement and the New
Deal, taking America back to the 1890s).

The elites are convinced they know what has to be done.  Not necessarily
what's "best", but what is possible given the constraints they believe
America operates under and the pressures which elected officials work
with.  So Obama can say, and mean, that if he were creating a medical
system from scratch, he'd go with single payer.  But he "knows" that's
impossible, not just for political reasons, but because there are huge
monied interests who would be horribly damaged or even destroyed by moving
to single payer.  On top of that, he looks at the amount of actual change
required to shift all that money away from insurance companies and to
reduce pharma profits, and to change which providers get paid what, and he
sees it as immensely disruptive to the economy.  In theory, it might lead
to a better place, but to Obama, the disruption on the way there is
unthinkable.

The same thing is true of the financial crisis.  The banks may be
technically insolvent, but the idea of nationalizing them all, or shutting
them down and shifting the lending to other entities would mean that the
most profitable (in theory, not in reality) sector of the economy would
largely be wiped out.  Add to that the fact that Obama was the largest
recipient of Wall Street cash of the major candidates for the Presidency,
and the immense influence the banks wield through their alumni who are
placed throughout the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and other departments,
and the idea of actually radically reforming the banking system becomes
unthinkable.  Virtually every technocrat giving Obama, or most Senators
advice, will be against it.

Moreover they understand that with a few exceptions, the financial economy
is the American economy.  It's what the US sold to the rest of the world:
pieces of paper in exchange for real money which could be used to import
real goods, so Americans could live beyond their means.

Shut that down and what's going to replace it?  How are you going to avoid
an immediate meltdown of the US standard of living? How are you going to
avoid a large part of the elite being wiped out?  You or I may have
answers to that, except to wiping out a large chunk of the elite, which is
something which needs to be done, but those who grew up under the system,
who believe in the system, and who ran the system don't.  What they've
done all their lives is what they understand.  And more to the point the
system has been good to them.  The last 35 years may have been a bad time
to be an ordinary American, but the elite has seen their wealth and income
soar to levels even greater than the gilded age.  The rich, in America,
have never, ever, been as rich as they are now.

And if you're a member of the elite, your friends, your family, your
colleagues - everyone you really care about, is a member of the elite or
attached to it as a valued and very well paid retainer.  For you, for
everyone you care about, the system has worked.  Perhaps, intellectually,
you know it hasn't worked for ordinary people, but you aren't one of them,
you aren't friends with them, and however much you care in theory about
them, it's a bloodless intellectual empathy, not one born of shared
experience, sacrifice and the bonds of friendship or love.

So when a big crisis comes, all of your instincts scream to protect your
friends, your family, and the system which you grew up under, prospered
under and which has been good to you.  Moreover, you understand that
system, or you think you do, and you believe that with a twiddle here and
an adjustment there, it's a system you can make work again.  Doing
something radical, like single payer or nationalizing the banks or letting
the banks fail and doing lending direct through the Fed and through credit
unions: that's just crazy talk. Who knows how it would work, or if it
would work?  Why take a chance?

And so, until disaster turns into absolute catastrophe, the elites will
fiddle with the dials, rather than engaging in radical change.  When the
time comes when it becomes clear even to them that radical change is
required, they are far more likely to go with their preconceived notions
of what's wrong with the US, which are very reactionary, than to go with
liberal or progressive solutions.

So you're far more likely to see Medicare and Social Security gutted, than
you are to see the military budget cut in a third or Medicare-for-all
enacted. You're far more likely to see a movement to a flat tax (supported
by idiot right wing populists) than you are to see a return to high
marginal taxation.

To the elites, ordinary Americans are pretty much parasites.  It's not the
bankers, with their multi-trillion dollar bailouts who are the problem,
it's old people with their Social Security and Medicare.  The elites made
it.  They are rich and powerful.  They believe that their success is due
entirely to themselves (even if they inherited the money or position).  If
you didn't, then that means you don't deserve it.

Democratic party elected leaders, as a group, are members of this elite,
or are henchmen (and some women) of this elite.  They believe what the
elites believe, and they live within a world whose boundaries are formed
by those beliefs.

They have no intention of engaging in radical change which threatens
elite, which is to say, their, prosperity and power.  The financial
industry must be saved, the medical industry must be saved.  Social
Security and Medicare, which they don't need and don't benefit from, not
so much.  The military, which funnels huge amounts of money to them, must
continue to expand (in real terms military spending is now twice what it
was in 2000.)

As long as elected Democrats at the Federal level are members of this
elite, or identify with the elite they are not going to make fundamental
changes against the interests of that elite.

And so, no, there is no "change" you can believe in from this class of
Democrats.  There is no "hope" of an America which is better for ordinary
people.

That doesn't mean things are hopeless, but it does mean there's little
hope for anything radical from this Congress or President.

As Adam Smith pointed out, there's a lot of ruin in a nation.  America's
going to have to endure a lot more of it before things actually change.

 2010 Open Left
Ian Welsh has been blogging since 2003.  He was the Managing Editor of
FireDogLake and the Agonist. His work has also appeared at Huffington
Post, Alternet, and Truthout, as well as the now defunct Blogging of the
President (BOPNews). In Canada his work has appeared in Pogge.ca and
BlogsCanada. He is a social media strategy consultant and currently lives
in Toronto.

You can contact Ian at admin-at-ianwelsh-dot-NET


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

The Pictures of War You Aren't Supposed to See
by Chris Hedges
Monday, January 4, 2010
TruthDig.com
Common Dreams

War is brutal and impersonal. It mocks the fantasy of individual heroism
and the absurdity of utopian goals like democracy. In an instant,
industrial warfare can kill dozens, even hundreds of people, who never see
their attackers. The power of these industrial weapons is indiscriminate
and staggering. They can take down apartment blocks in seconds, burying
and crushing everyone inside. They can demolish villages and send tanks,
planes and ships up in fiery blasts. The wounds, for those who survive,
result in terrible burns, blindness, amputation and lifelong pain and
trauma. No one returns the same from such warfare. And once these weapons
are employed all talk of human rights is a farce.

In Peter van Agtmael's "2nd Tour Hope I don't Die" and Lori Grinker's
"Afterwar: Veterans From a World in Conflict," two haunting books of war
photographs, we see pictures of war which are almost always hidden from
public view. These pictures are shadows, for only those who go to and
suffer from war can fully confront the visceral horror of it, but they are
at least an attempt to unmask war's savagery.

"Over ninety percent of this soldier's body was burned when a roadside
bomb hit his vehicle, igniting the fuel tank and burning two other
soldiers to death," reads the caption in Agtmael's book next to a
photograph of the bloodied body of a soldier in an operating room. "His
camouflage uniform dangled over the bed, ripped open by the medics who had
treated him on the helicopter. Clumps of his skin had peeled away, and
what was left of it was translucent. He was in and out of consciousness,
his eyes stabbing open for a few seconds. As he was lifted from the
stretcher to the ER bed, he screamed "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,' then
'Put me to sleep, please put me to sleep.' There was another photographer
in the ER, and he leaned his camera over the heads of the medical staff to
get an overhead shot. The soldier yelled, 'Get that fucking camera out of
my face.' Those were his last words. I visited his grave one winter
afternoon six months later," Agtmael writes, "and the scene of his death
is never far from my thoughts."

"There were three of us inside, and the jeep caught fire," Israeli soldier
Yossi Arditi, quoted in Grinker's book, says of the moment when a Molotov
cocktail exploded in his vehicle. "The fuel tank was full and it was about
to explode, my skin was hanging from my arms and face - but I didn't lose
my head. I knew nobody could get inside to help me, that my only way out
was through the fire to the doors. I wanted to take my gun, but I couldn't
touch it because my hands were burning."

Arditi spent six months in the hospital. He had surgery every two or three
months, about 20 operations, over the next three years.

Filmic and most photographic images of war are shorn of the heart-pounding
fear, awful stench, deafening noise and exhaustion of the battlefield.
Such images turn confusion and chaos, the chief element of combat, into an
artful war narrative. They turn war into porn. Soldiers and Marines,
especially those who have never seen war, buy cases of beer and watch
movies like "Platoon," movies meant to denounce war, and as they do so
revel in the despicable power of the weapons shown. The reality of
violence is different. Everything formed by violence is senseless and
useless. It exists without a future. It leaves behind nothing but death,
grief and destruction.

Chronicles of war, such as these two books, that eschew images and scenes
of combat begin to capture war's reality. War's effects are what the state
and the press, the handmaiden of the war makers, work hard to keep hidden.
If we really saw war, what war does to young minds and bodies, it would be
harder to embrace the myth of war. If we had to stand over the mangled
corpses of the eight schoolchildren killed in Afghanistan a week ago and
listen to the wails of their parents we would not be able to repeat
cliches about liberating the women of Afghanistan or bringing freedom to
the Afghan people. This is why war is carefully sanitized. This is why we
are given war's perverse and dark thrill but are spared from seeing war's
consequences. The mythic visions of war keep it heroic and entertaining.
And the press is as guilty as Hollywood. During the start of the Iraq war,
television reports gave us the visceral thrill of force and hid from us
the effects of bullets, tank rounds, iron fragmentation bombs and
artillery rounds. We tasted a bit of war's exhilaration, but were
protected from seeing what war actually does.

The wounded, the crippled and the dead are, in this great charade, swiftly
carted off stage. They are war's refuse. We do not see them. We do not
hear them. They are doomed, like wandering spirits, to float around the
edges of our consciousness, ignored, even reviled. The message they tell
is too painful for us to hear. We prefer to celebrate ourselves and our
nation by imbibing the myth of glory, honor, patriotism and heroism, words
that in combat become empty and meaningless. And those whom fate has
decreed must face war's effects often turn and flee.

Saul Alfaro, who lost his legs in the war in El Salvador, speaks in
Grinker's book about the first and final visit from his girlfriend as he
lay in an army hospital bed.

"She had been my girlfriend in the military and we had planned to be
married," he says. "But when she saw me in the hospital - I don't know
exactly what happened, but later they told me when she saw me she began to
cry. Afterwards, she ran away and never came back."

The public manifestations of gratitude are reserved for veterans who
dutifully read from the script handed to them by the state. The veterans
trotted out for viewing are those who are compliant and palatable, those
we can stand to look at without horror, those who are willing to go along
with the lie that war is about patriotism and is the highest good. "Thank
you for your service," we are supposed to say. They are used to perpetuate
the myth. We are used to honor it.

Gary Zuspann, who lives in a special enclosed environment in his parent's
home in Waco, Texas, suffering from Gulf War syndrome, speaks in Grinker's
book of feeling like "a prisoner of war" even after the war had ended.

"Basically they put me on the curb and said, okay, fend for yourself," he
says in the book. "I was living in a fantasy world where I thought our
government cared about us and they take care of their own. I believed it
was in my contract, that if you're maimed or wounded during your service
in war, you should be taken care of. Now I'm angry."

I went back to Sarajevo after covering the 1990s war for The New York
Times and found hundreds of cripples trapped in rooms in apartment blocks
with no elevators and no wheelchairs. Most were young men, many without
limbs, being cared for by their elderly parents, the glorious war heroes
left to rot.

Despair and suicide grip survivors. More Vietnam veterans committed
suicide after the war than were killed during it. The inhuman qualities
drilled into soldiers and Marines in wartime defeat them in peacetime.
This is what Homer taught us in "The Iliad," the great book on war, and
"The Odyssey," the great book on the long journey to recovery by
professional killers. Many never readjust. They cannot connect again with
wives, children, parents or friends, retreating into personal hells of
self-destructive anguish and rage.

"They program you to have no emotion - like if somebody sitting next to
you gets killed you just have to carry on doing your job and shut up,"
Steve Annabell, a British veteran of the Falklands War, says to Grinker.
"When you leave the service, when you come back from a situation like
that, there's no button they can press to switch your emotions back on. So
you walk around like a zombie. They don't deprogram you. If you become a
problem they just sweep you under the carpet."

"To get you to join up they do all these advertisements - they show people
skiing down mountains and doing great things - but they don't show you
getting shot at and people with their legs blown off or burning to death,"
he says. "They don't show you what really happens. It's just bullshit. And
they never prepare you for it. They can give you all the training in the
world, but it's never the same as the real thing."

Those with whom veterans have most in common when the war is over are
often those they fought.

"Nobody comes back from war the same," says Horacio Javier Benitez, who
fought the British in the Falklands and is quoted in Grinker's book. "The
person, Horacio, who was sent to war, doesn't exist anymore. It's hard to
be enthusiastic about normal life; too much seems inconsequential. You
contend with craziness and depression."

"Many who served in the Malvinas," he says, using the Argentine name of
the islands, "committed suicide, many of my friends."

"I miss my family," reads a wall graffito captured in one of Agtmael's
photographs. "Please God forgive the lives I took and let my family be
happy if I don't go home again."

Next to the plea someone had drawn an arrow toward the words and written
in thick, black marker "Fag!!!"

Look beyond the nationalist cant used to justify war. Look beyond the
seduction of the weapons and the pornography of violence. Look beyond
Barack Obama's ridiculous rhetoric about finishing the job or fighting
terror. Focus on the evil of war. War begins by calling for the
annihilation of the others but ends ultimately in self-annihilation. It
corrupts souls and mutilates bodies. It destroys homes and villages and
murders children on their way to school. It grinds into the dirt all that
is tender and beautiful and sacred. It empowers human deformities -
warlords, Shiite death squads, Sunni insurgents, the Taliban, al-Qaida and
our own killers - who can speak only in the despicable language of force.
War is a scourge. It is a plague. It is industrial murder. And before you
support war, especially the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, look into the
hollow eyes of the men, women and children who know it.

 2010 TruthDig.com
Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated
from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign
correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books,
including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should
Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on
America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy
and the Triumph of Spectacle.


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

Sue the Bastards: Why are Only Republican AGs Threatening to Go to Court
to Fight Health Care 'Reform.?
by Dave Lindorff
Sunday, January 3, 2010
CommonDreams.org

Attorneys General from 13 states - all of them Republicans - are saying
that they are going to sue to block the health insurance reform bill if,
when it is finally passed, it still includes a measure giving Nebraska an
extra $100 million in Medicaid funds. They charge that this "bribe" was
used to get Nebraska's conservative Democratic Senator Ben Nelson to join
fellow Democrats to get the Senate's version of the bill passed.

They're right to sue. Nebraska shouldn't get more funds than the rest of
the country to finance hospital care for its poorest residents, and Nelson
shouldn't be able to extort the Senate. But the question is why aren't
Democratic attorneys general threatening to sue over this execrable bill?

Residents of states with higher-than-average health care costs - states
like California, New York, Florida, and Connecticut, for example - will be
hit hard if the bill passes, because it includes a heavy tax on health
plans that cost employees and employers more than a combined $12,000 per
year per person. In these and many other states, because of the higher
charges by doctors and hospitals, many of which are teaching institutions
or public institutions that provide more tertiary care and that treat much
larger numbers of low-income patients, and all of which have much higher
real-estate costs and wage rates for staff, insurance plans are inevitably
also costlier. Yet the residents of those states and their employers will
end up getting socked with taxes as high as 40% on those plans that are
over the limit. The result, experts say, is that many employers in these
states will simply reduce coverage to bring the plans in under the limit.

Also slammed by this tax will be unionized workers - most of them again
concentrated heavily in relatively union-friendly states like California,
New York and much of the northeastern US - who over long years and many
bitterly fought contract battles - have negotiated better-than-average
health insurance coverage. The fruits of their struggles, which often
included tough strikes and lockouts, and deals that involved forgoing
bigger pay increases in return for better health coverage, could be erased
by this legislation if the bill is passed as written.

And what about the so-called "near poor"? Under the plan as it stands,
everyone would be required to buy health insurance, or face a stiff fine
of as much as $1200 from the IRS for a family. People earning less than
133% of the federal poverty level (that would currently be approximately
$13,000 a year for individuals or $30,000 a year for a family of four,
except in Hawaii and Alaska where the numbers are slightly higher), and
less than four times the federal poverty level ($40,000 for an individual
or $88,000 for a family of four), would be given a subsidy to help them
buy that insurance. But they would be expected to pay as much as 12% of
their income out of pocket for coverage, up to a limit of $5000 for an
individual and $10,000 for a family. (I'm just trying to imagine how that
would hit a family earning $88,000 a year. First of all, it seems clear to
me that many hard-pressed families will look at the costs, just decide
can't afford it, and pay the IRS penalty.)

But the number of people who could lose insurance coverage under this
legislation could be much greater.

The right has done a much better job of analyzing the health reform bills
in House and Senate, with most of the left holding its collective nose and
backing the measures, apparently thinking that things can be "fixed
later." (We saw how well that idea worked when liberal Democrats went
along with President Bill Clinton's and the GOP's trashing of welfare
programs back in the early 1990s. "We'll fix it later" was the mantra, but
it never got fixed, and millions families are suffering today because of
that Democratic treachery.) But the reality is that because of the
mandates and penalties in both versions, and the relatively limited
penalties for not providing coverage, many employers will probably end up
reducing, or worse, dropping health coverage for their employees and
taking the penalties, leaving workers stuck with having to buy crummy
coverage through the new "insurance exchanges" envisioned in the bills.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that some 10 million workers who
currently have employer-provided health care will lose it, but other
experts predict that the number could be much higher.

Democratic states whose residents stand to be hurt by this legislation
should be preparing to sue to protect their residents. Unions (most of
whom have been backing this legislation when they should have been
marching on Washington in protest), should instead be threatening to sue
if it passes.

Eventually, of course, they will. The courts will be tied up for years in
challenges to the inequities and constitutional violations contained in
this legislation. Meanwhile, though, Americans are going to get socked
with higher tax bills, higher insurance premiums, higher medical bills,
and poorer coverage.

What is maddening is that none of this had to happen.

We could have had health coverage for everyone, and at much lower cost
than today, by simply expanding Medicare to cover everyone. The reason we
don't have Medicare for all is because, with the exception of Dennis
Kucinich (D-OH), John Conyers (D-MI) and a few other members of the House,
and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the Senate, neither the ruling Democrats in
Congress, nor President Obama, ever had the integrity and guts to point
out that Medicare for All would be a net savings for almost everyone. Yes,
expanding Medicare would mean higher taxes for everyone, but the net
financial impact, after factoring in the elimination of many hugely
expensive current federal, state, county and municipal health care
programs such as Medicaid, veterans care, charity care, etc., an end to
private insurance premiums paid by employers and individuals, and the end
to workers compensation and embedded health costs such as medical coverage
riders in car and home insurance policies, would be positive, not
negative.

Nobody had the integrity and guts to point out that in countries that have
a version of Medicare for all, like Canada, Taiwan or many of the European
countries, total health care costs both as a percentage of GDP, and on a
per-capita basis, are half as much or even a third as much as they are in
the US.

Medicare is routinely trashed by the right, and by business lobbies, which
claim it is going bust, and certainly as presently funded, it is
underfunded, particularly with the Baby Boomer population about to be
enrolled. But bear in mind that the heavy lifting of insuring everyone in
the country has already been done. The one-in-seven Americans currently
covered by Medicare are by far the costliest segment of the population.
Within Medicare, the reality is that 10 percent of the recipients account
for 90% of the costs of the program. More broadly, I suspect that the
elderly account for half or more of the total health care costs of the
entire population. That is, it would probably cost only twice as much to
cover everyone with Medicare as it costs today to cover just those over
65. Since total Medicare costs were just under $500 billion in 2009
(representing about 80% of actual medical costs for care of the elderly),
then that means the total cost of health care for the elderly that year
was approximately $600 billion. Expanding the program to cover everyone,
and to cover them in full, instead of just 80%, would thus be about $1.2
trillion a year. Given that the actual cost of medical care in the US in
2009 was about $2.5 trillion, this figure is probably accurate, because
countries that have a version of Medicare for All have health care costs
of roughly half what they are in the US.

That is to say, expanding Medicare both to cover everyone in the US, and
to cover each person in full, instead of only in part, would result in a
net savings to Americans of $1.2 trillion to $1.3 trillion a year!

How can this be, you might ask? Well first of all, remember that programs
like Medicaid ($400 billion a year), veterans care ($100 billion a year),
and charity care delivered by hospitals to the indigent ($400 billion a
year) would be eliminated as redundant. So would premiums for mandated
workers' compensation insurance paid by employers, and the hundreds of
billions paid in premiums by workers and employers for private insurance
coverage. Also, costs would be hammered as government set the rates for
doctors, hospitals, and drugs.

Polls have consistently shown that half or more of Americans want Medicare
extended to all. Despite all the propaganda on the right and from the
corporate lobbies which trash Medicare as "socialism" and which make
ludicrous predictions about its impending "bankruptcy," and despite all
the propaganda and scare stories claiming that Canadians and Europeans
hate their systems (a claim manifestly false, as proven by the fact that
even conservative governments in those countries have been afraid to
attempt to undo their public health systems for fear of voter wrath), most
Americans are smart enough to understand that Medicare for All is what we
need.

The problem is that the political system is broken. The Democrats elected
to majorities in House and Senate, and the Democratic president elected a
little over a year ago, don't see their role being to do what the public
elected them to do. Rather they see their role as being to prevent the
public from getting what it wants, in order to protect the interests of
the very industries that are benefitting from the status quo - in this
case the insurance companies, drug companies, physicians and hospital
companies.

Until Americans rise up and start making politicians accountable to them,
what we'll get instead of real reform or, in this case, real health care
reform, will be rip-offs, screwjobs and flim-flam, which in the end, after
months of sturm and drang is all the current health "reform" legislation
really is.

Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. He is
author of Marketplace Medicine: The Rise of the For-Profit Hospital Chains
(BantamBooks, 1992), and his latest book "The Case for Impeachment" (St.
Martin's Press, 2006). His work is available at
www.thiscantbehappening.net


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

One Day's Read of the Financial Times
by James Petras
January 3rd, 2010
Dissident Voice

Asian capitalism, notably China and South Korea are competing with the US
for global power. Asian global power is driven by dynamic economic growth,
while the US pursues a strategy of military-driven empire building.

Even a cursory read of a single issue of the Financial Times (December 28,
2009) illustrates the divergent strategies toward empire building. On page
one, the lead article on the US is on its expanding military conflicts and
its "war on terror", entitled "Obama Demands Review of Terror List". In
contrast, there are two page-one articles on China, which describe China's
launching of the world's fastest long-distance passenger train service and
China's decision to maintain its currency pegged to the US dollar as a
mechanism to promote its robust export sector. While Obama turns the US
focus on a fourth battle front (Yemen) in the "war on terror" (after Iraq,
Afghanistan and Pakistan), the Financial Times reports on the same page
that a South Korean consortium has won a $20.4 billion dollar contract to
develop civilian nuclear power plants for the United Arab Emirates,
beating its US and European competitors.

On page two of the FT there is a longer article elaborating on the new
Chinese rail system, highlighting its superiority over the US rail
service: The Chinese ultra-modern train takes passengers between two major
cities, 1,100 kilometers, in less than 3 hours whereas the US Amtrack
"Express" takes 3 hours to cover 300 kilometers between Boston and New
York. While the US passenger rail system deteriorates from lack of
investment and maintenance, China has spent $17 billion dollars
constructing its express line. China plans to construct 18,000 kilometers
of new track for its ultra-modern system by 2012, while the US will spend
an equivalent amount in financing its "military surge" in Afghanistan and
Pakistan, as well as opening a new war front in Yemen.

China builds a transport system linking producers and labor markets from
the interior provinces with the manufacturing centers and ports on the
coast, while on page 4 the Financial Times describes how the US is welded
to its policy of confronting the "Islamist threat" with an endless "war on
terror". The decades-long wars and occupations of Moslem countries have
diverted hundreds of billions of dollars of public funds to a militarist
policy with no benefit to the US, while China modernizes its civilian
economy. While the White House and Congress subsidize and pander to the
militarist-colonial state of Israel with its insignificant resource base
and market, alienating 1.5 billion Moslems,1 China's gross domestic
product (GDP) grew 10 fold over the past 26 years.2 While the US allocated
over $1.4 trillion dollars to Wall Street and the military, increasing the
fiscal and current account deficits, doubling unemployment and
perpetuating the recession,3 the Chinese government releases a stimulus
package directed at its domestic manufacturing and construction sectors,
leading to an 8% growth in GDP, a significant reduction of unemployment
and "re-igniting linked economies" in Asia, Latin America and Africa.3

While the US was spending time, resources and personnel in running
"elections" for its corrupt clients in Afghanistan and Iraq, and
participating in pointless mediations between its intransigent Israeli
partner and its impotent Palestinian client, the South Korean government
backed a consortium headed by the Korea Electric Power Corporation in its
successful bid on the $20.4 billion dollar nuclear power deal, opening the
way for other billion-dollar contracts in the region.4

While the US was spending over $60 billion dollars on internal policing
and multiplying the number and size of its "homeland" security agencies in
pursuit of potential "terrorists," China was investing $25 billion dollars
in "cementing its energy trading relations" with Russia.5

The story told by the articles and headlines in a single day's issue of
the Financial Times reflects a deeper reality, one that illustrates the
great divide in the world today. The Asian countries, led by China, are
reaching world power status on the basis of their massive domestic and
foreign investments in manufacturing, transportation, technology and
mining and mineral processing. In contrast, the US is a declining world
power with a deteriorating society resulting from its military-driven
empire building and its financial-speculative centered economy:

1. Washington pursues minor military clients in Asia; while China expands
its trading and investment agreements with major economic partners -
Russia, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere.

2. Washington drains the domestic economy to finance overseas wars. China
extracts minerals and energy resources to create its domestic job market
in manufacturing.

3. The US invests in military technology to target local insurgents
challenging US client regimes; China invests in civilian technology to
create competitive exports.

4. China begins to restructure its economy toward developing the country's
interior and allocates greater social spending to redress its gross
imbalances and inequalities while the US rescues and reinforces the
parasitical financial sector, which plundered industries (strips assets
via mergers and acquisitions) and speculates on financial objectives with
no impact on employment, productivity or competitiveness.

5. The US multiplies wars and troop build-ups in the Middle East, South
Asia, the Horn of Africa and Caribbean; China provides investments and
loans of over $25 billion dollars in building infrastructure, mineral
extraction, energy production and assembly plants in Africa.

6. China signs multi-billion dollar trade and investment agreements with
Iran, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Bolivia, securing
access to strategic energy, mineral and agricultural resources; Washington
provides $6 billion in military aid to Colombia, secures seven military
bases from President Uribe (to threaten Venezuela), backs a military coup
in tiny Honduras and denounces Brazil and Bolivia for diversifying its
economic ties with Iran.

7. China increases economic relations with dynamic Latin American
economies, incorporating over 80% of the continent's population; the US
partners with the failed state of Mexico, which has the worst economic
performance in the hemisphere and where powerful drug cartels control wide
regions and penetrate deep into the state apparatus.

                           Conclusion

China is not an exceptional capitalist country. Under Chinese capitalism,
labor is exploited; inequalities in wealth and access to services are
rampant; peasant-farmers are displaced by mega-dam projects and Chinese
companies recklessly extract minerals and other natural resources in the
Third World. However, China has created scores of millions of
manufacturing jobs, reduced poverty faster and for more people in the
shortest time span in history. Its banks mostly finance production. China
doesn't bomb, invade, or ravage other countries. In contrast, US
capitalism has been harnessed to a monstrous global military machine that
drains the domestic economy and lowers the domestic standard of living in
order to fund its never-ending foreign wars. Finance, real estate, and
commercial capital undermine the manufacturing sector, drawing profits
from speculation and cheap imports.

China invests in petroleum-rich countries; the US attacks them. China
sells plates and bowls for Afghan wedding feasts; US drone aircraft bomb
the celebrations. China invests in extractive industries, but, unlike
European colonialists, it builds railroads, ports, airfields and provides
easy credit. China does not finance and arm ethnic wars and "color
rebellions" like the US CIA. China self-finances its own growth, trade and
transportation system; the US sinks under a multi-trillion dollar debt to
finance its endless wars, bail out its Wall Street banks, and prop up
other non-productive sectors while many millions remain without jobs.

China will grow and exercise power through the market; the US will engage
in endless wars on its road to bankruptcy and internal decay. China's
diversified growth is linked to dynamic economic partners; US militarism
has tied itself to narco-states, warlord regimes, the overseers of banana
republics and the last and worst bona fide racist colonial regime, Israel.

China entices the world's consumers. US global wars provoke terrorists
here and abroad.

China may encounter crises and even workers rebellions, but it has the
economic resources to accommodate them. The US is in crisis and may face
domestic rebellion, but it has depleted its credit and its factories are
all abroad and its overseas bases and military installations are
liabilities, not assets. There are fewer factories in the US to re-employ
its desperate workers. A social upheaval could see the American workers
occupying the empty shells of its former factories.

To become a "normal state" we have to start all over: Close all investment
banks and military bases abroad and return to America. We have to begin
the long march toward rebuilding industry to serve our domestic needs, to
living within our own natural environment and forsake empire building in
favor of constructing a democratic socialist republic.

When will we pick up the Financial Times or any other daily and read about
our own high-speed rail line carrying American passengers from New York to
Boston in less than one hour? When will our own factories supply our
hardware stores? When will we build wind, solar and ocean-based energy
generators? When will we abandon our military bases and let the world's
warlords, drug traffickers and terrorists face the justice of their own
people?

Will we ever read about these in the Financial Times?

In China, it all started with a revolution.

1. Financial Times, page 7. [.]

2. FT . page 9. [.]

3. FT, page 12. [.] [.]

4. FT, page 13. [.]

5. FT, page 3. [.]

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University,
New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser
to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of
Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). Petras. most recent book is Zionism,
Militarism and the Decline of US Power (Clarity Press, 2008). He can be
reached at: jpetras [at] binghamton.edu. Read other articles by James, or visit
James's website.


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

 With leaders like Cong
 Dems and Obama, we
 don't need enemies.


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

 From the first time she
 saw him, Zelda lusted to
 F Scott Fitzgerald.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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