|Progressive Calendar 02.01.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 1 Feb 2010 05:43:43 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 02.01.10 1. Immigrants 2.01 8:30am 2. Foreclosures 2.01 4:30pm 3. Peace walk 2.01 6pm RiverFalls WI 4. Ramsey charter 2.01 6:30pm 5. Uhcan-mn 2.01 7pm 6. RNC hearing/lunch 2.02 9am 7. Biomimicry film 2.02 3.02 7pm 8. Amnesty Intl 2.02 7pm 9. Ralph Nader - On the state of the union 10. Harvey Wasserman - Will Obama guarantee a new reactor war? 11. Stephen Lendman - Obama's outreach: empty rhetoric, business as usual 12. Mark Weisbrot - The US game in Latin America 13. Kip Sullivan, JD - Should polls matter? 6/6 14. ed - Doubt (haiku) --------1 of 14-------- From: IGS Outreach <outreach [at] umn.edu> Subject: Immigrants 2.01 8:30am Linked Lives: When are immigrant and refugee engagements problematized? 02/01/2010 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM Mississippi Room, 303, and 324 Coffman Memorial Union,East Bank Free Now, as ever, immigrants and refugees engage with their countries of origin in various ways. Interactions with family members, support for political parties, voting, and a general engagement with home are common activities for almost all immigrant communities, but at times these interactions can become problematized by policies of either the country of origin or the new 'home' country and spark controversy. This event seeks to provide a historical and comparative context for current Minnesota immigrant and refugee engagement with their countries of origins. Structured as a teach-in, participants are encouraged to /come and go/, attending events as they are able. Contact: Laura Seifert seif0056 [at] umn.edu <mailto:seif0056 [at] umn.edu> Phone: *612-624-6527 Sponsored by: European Studies Consortium, Global Studies, Immigration History Research Center, Study of the Asias, Sociology, MN Department of Education Refugee Impact Grant --------2 of 14-------- From: Lynette Malles <lynettemalles [at] msn.com> Subject: Foreclosures 2.01 4:30pm Kangaroo Court Press Conference Monday, February 1st, 4:30pm at Barbara Byrd's All MN 5 foreclosure-resisters will be onhand, including Rosemary Williams just back from speaking tours (press release doc attached) IF YOU WOULD LIKE A RIDE to Brooklyn Park on Monday, please reply back to reserve car space-thanks. Schedule 3:30 gather at SW corner Target lot on Lake St. just E of Hiawatha-look for white Volvo wagon (cell:651-497-4644) 3:45 cars leave 4:10-4:30 set up lights, cameras 4:30-5 press conference 5-5:30 radio interviews 5:30 or earlier leave.... 6:15 arrive back at midtown Target Barbara's address: 8165 Xerxes Ave. N, Brooklyn Park, 55444 Directions: I94 west to Hwy 252. North on 252 to 85th Ave. Left (west) on 85th and go about 4 blocks. Left (south) on Xerxes and go 2-3 blocks to duplex on the right. Barbara has received NO response from EMC Mortgage and still faces imminent eviction! Flashback Barbara Byrd denied court hearing Oct. 22nd, 2009 To review, last fall Judge Alton WOULD NOT HEAR Barbara's complaint that the foreclosure signer had been improperly certified by MERS, nor that she never had signed a remodification as alleged by the bank. With a wave of the hand, the judge's final words were, "Case DISMISSED! Proceed with eviction!" Clearly the judge's concept of justice involved backing financial institutions at the expense of the people. You will remember how supporters listened in shock as her lawyer said he would appeal the decision and ask EMC to grant her 90 days to move. Another lawyer remarked, "You call THAT a HEARING? The judge ran over you with a buzz-saw." To which a courageous Barbara declared, "I am fighting for others as well as myself. Fastforward three months to this Monday's reenactment of Kangaroo Court followed by PEOPLE's COURT ruling in favor of Barbara against EMC Mortgage who assumed her Kangaroo Adjustable Rate Mortgage that she took out in 2005. Trying to get her loan modified ever since payments jumped to an outrageous level, she's never stopped fighting! SPREAD THE WORD to heighten awaresss of foreclosure-resistance in the suburbs as the years pass while government and financial institutions try to figure out a solution. MORATORIUM NOW! --------3 of 14-------- From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net> Subject: Peace walk 2.01 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 --------4 of 14-------- From: Mike Fratto <mfratto [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Ramsey charter 2.01 6:30pm RAMSEY COUNTY CHARTER COMMISSION Monday, February 1, 2010 6:30 p.m. Council Chambers - Third Floor Ramsey County Court House/St. Paul City Hall 15 West Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55102 The Ramsey County Charter Commission will hold a Public Hearing to receive public input on two potential amendments to the Ramsey County Home Rule Charter related to 1) the number of signatures required for a referendum petition and 2) the number of days in which to obtain signatures for a referendum petition. You are invited to participate in this public hearing. If you are unable to attend this hearing but would like your voice heard, or to request a copy of the entire proposed amendments, please send an email to charteramendment [at] co.ramsey.mn.us or call 651-266-8014. (The regular meeting of the Ramsey County Charter Commission will immediately follow the Public Hearing.) --------5 of 14-------- From: Joel Albers <joel [at] uhcan-mn.org> Subject: Uhcan-mn 2.01 7pm Next Universal Health Care Action Network of MN (UHCAN-MN) organizing meeting. Monday Feb 1, 7pm Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S., Mpls,(1 block from Lake str and Bloomington Ave. Lower-Level Items: 1.Reportbacks: MLK March, Network Bldg results?;need website mgr; on-line fundraising; basic flyering; 2.Precinct Caucuses: Getting single-payer resoln's passed.Create debate. 3.Ice house protest at health insurer CEO's Mansion ? 4.state,national HC debate; analysis, actions to take ? networking w/ key groups 5.UHCAN-MN Film Series/Potluck: Rare 20" footage of Seattle 10th Anniversary;analysis, Implications for HC direct action;date,time,location ? other films ? Let me know if you want to add an agenda item. As always, hot tea, refreshments, toasty art gallery, couches Joel Albers Clinical Pharmacist, Health Economics Researcher Universal Health Care Action Network - MN Community/University Collaborative Research www.uhcan-mn.org email: joel [at] uhcan-mn.org phone: 612-384-0973 address: 3500 35th ave S Mpls, MN, 55406 --------6 of 14-------- From: info [at] rnc8.org Subject: RNC hearing/lunch 2.02 9am The Hearing: 9 AM to 4 PM with a break for lunch. Ramsey County Courthouse, Room 131-B 15 W. Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul The Lunch: 11:30 to 1:30 (or somewhere in between) Central Presbyterian Church 500 Cedar Street, St. Paul As we announced previously<http://rnc8.org/2009/12/new-court-date-scheduled-tuesday-february-2/>, the RNC 8 will be in court all day this coming Tuesday, February 2. The courtroom can easily hold 50 people, and we'd like to fill it up in a show of solidarity. If at all possible, come early so the cops don't take all the good seats. If you can't stay all day, come for part of the day. (Unlike the defendants, you can leave anytime!) Wear your RNC 8 t-shirts and buttons, and please be sure to turn off all cellphones and be respectful inside and outside the courtroom. Once the judge breaks for lunch, we'll gather for a supporters' event at Central Presbyterian Church, a few blocks north of the courthouse at 500 Cedar Street. PB&J(ustice) sandwiches and other fare will be served, and you'll be treated to a very special video premiere you won't want to miss! It's all free to supporters of the RNC 8. The RNC 8 defense team currently has at least 14 motions on the table to be decided upon, many dealing with first amendment issues, the evidence gathered in the preemptive raids, and the undercover informants. Although none are as crucial as the successful motion for a joint trial, and many are longshots within the criminal injustice system, the arguments on Tuesday could well reveal some interesting information. We may also get a better idea of the eventual trial date; currently Judge Teresa Warner is reported to be looking at dates in May and June. Anyone wishing to carpool or willing to assist with driving should show up at Walker Church (3104 16th Ave. S., Minneapolis) by 8 AM on Tuesday. Carpools will leave shortly thereafter - as soon as all the riders are divided up. We'll see you then! --------7 of 14-------- From: Curt McNamara <mcnam025 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Biomimicry film 2.02 3.02 7pm Feb. 2nd: Nature's 100 Best: Top Biomimicry Solutions to Environmental Crises The brilliant naturalist, author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, and founder of the Biomimicry Institute, Janine Benyus, reminds us that our prime directive as living beings is to seek to create conditions conducive to life. What are Nature's 100 Best (from her forthcoming book by the same title) revolutionary solutions to the world's most vexing challenges? All films free, and are shown: Tues. 7 p.m. in the College Center at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, 2501 Stevens Ave. S. Minneapolis MN --------8 of 14-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 2.02 7pm Saint Cloud Area Amnesty International meets on Tuesday, February 2nd, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the St. Cloud Public Library, 1300 W. St. Germain, Saint Cloud. For more information contact Jerry Dirks, 320-251-6491 or jerry.dirks [at] gmail.com. --------9 of 14-------- On the State of the Union by Ralph Nader Saturday, January 30, 2010 CommonDreams.org The President's State of the Union Speech is the Big Speech of the year. Yet there is never an opportunity either for the press or the citizenry to promptly follow up with any questions or requests for clarifications. As a result, doubt and misunderstandings fester. Watching President Obama's speech the other evening before a joint session of vociferous members of Congress, quiet Supreme Court Justices and military brass, I jotted down a few items for the White House to consider. First, Mr. Obama cited the Senate's inaction four times in contrast to the House of Representatives. To add to his frustration, he cited the Republican leadership for insisting that "sixty votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town." What he did not do was to urge his fellow Democrats to change the filibuster rule by a simple majority vote. As a legal expert, Tom Geoghegan wrote to Senate majority leader Harry Reid (Dem. Nev) this week, "the Senate can act to change its rules, any rule, by majority vote, even a rule requiring a greater one." That means that the Democrats can change this rule with only 51 of their 59 votes in the Senate and get these bills passed. Why President Obama did not tell tens of millions of Americans Wednesday evening about how to break the logjam, the gridlock on health insurance, energy, jobs, financial reform and other measures, that they dislike, is a question only he can answer. "Certainly Senate Rule 22 itself should be changed, so that there is ultimately a simple majority for a cloture limiting debate vote," according to Geoghegan. Second, since dollars invested in energy efficiency and renewable energy have greater, safer, returns than money going into what Mr. Obama calls ..a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants and clean coal technologies,(which require heavy government subsidies), why did he accord the latter the same priority as the former? Third, President Obama promised to double our exports over the next five years. This really raised eyebrows, leading New York Times reporter Helene Cooper to write that this highly ambitious goal would require him to persuade China to revalue its currency by 40 percent, "get global economic growth to outperform the salad days from 2003 to 2007 and lower taxes for American companies that do business abroad," plus "forget about strengthening the dollar." He left his own supporters wondering how he could perform this miracle and not forget his campaign promise to revise NAFTA. Fourth, on health insurance reform, Mr. Obama said: "If anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors and stop insurance company abuses, let me know." Well, Mr. President, try what you supported before you became a Presidential candidate--single payer, full Medicare for all, with free choice of doctor and hospital. Remember you did not allow single payer adherents to have a seat at the table, the way the CEO of Aetna did five times in the White House. (For more see SinglePayerAction.org) Fifth, you alluded as one reason for the multi-trillion dollar deficits you inherited from the Bush regime was "not paying for two wars." Well, you also are not pressing for a war tax to pay for your two wars, as Rep. David Obey (Dem. Wisc) urged you and other Democrats to do a few months ago. What is the difference and why? Sixth, the President asserted the need to freeze government spending for three years, but excluded the well-documented, bloated, wasteful, redundant Pentagon budget. He also did not go after the huge corporate welfare budget of subsidies, handouts, giveaways and bailouts. Instead, he left many civic groups wondering what cuts might be coming for programs relating to food, auto, job and environmental safety. Seventh, his brief words of foreign and military policy came across as Bush redux trying to show how tough he is. He compared notches on his belt in terms of the number of captured or slain "Al Qaeda's fighters and affiliates." He, of course, did not make any comparisons with the far greater number of innocent civilian causalities from drones and other bombings. These were strange phrasings from a recent Nobel Peace Prize winner who managed to ignore completely the peace process for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There was not one sentence on, arguably, the core issue in that tumultuous region. Eighth, on the Iraq war, he went over the top, declaring "make no mistake: this war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home." Not really. Both Bush and Obama have concluded that 50,000 soldiers will remain in Iraq indefinitely, with many more in the Persian Gulf region. American taxpayers will be paying nearly $800 million a year just to guard the U.S. Embassy and its personnel in Baghdad. That sum alone is greater than either the annual budgets of OSHA ($502 million to deal with 58,000 work related deaths in America) or NHTSA ($730 million to deal with over 40,000 road fatalities.) I'm sending this column to the White House. You also may wish to send your observations to President Obama. Citizens should be more than spectators to the annual state of the union spectacle. 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. --------10 of 14-------- Will Obama Guarantee a New Reactor War? by Harvey Wasserman Saturday, January 30, 2010 CommonDreams.org Amidst utter chaos in the atomic reactor industry, Team Obama is poised to vastly expand a bitterly contested loan guarantee program that may cost far more than expected, both financially and politically. The long-stalled, much-hyped "Renaissance" in atomic power has failed to find private financing. New construction projects are opposed for financial reasons by fiscal conservatives such as the Heritage Foundation and National Taxpayers Union, and by a national grassroots safe energy campaign that has already beaten such loan guarantees three times. New reactor designs are being challenged by regulators in both the US and Europe. Key projects, new and old, are engulfed in political/financial uproars in Florida, Texas, Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey and elsewhere. And 53 years after the opening of the first commercial reactor at Shippingport, Pennsylvania, Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu is now convening a "Blue Ribbon" commission on managing radioactive waste, for which the industry still has no solution. Though stacked with reactor advocates, the commission may certify the death certificate for Nevada's failed Yucca Mountain dump. In 2005 George W. Bush's Energy Bill embraced appropriations for an $18.5 billion loan guarantee program, which the Obama administration now may want to triple. But the DOE has been unable to minister to a chaotic industry in no shape to proceed with new reactor construction. As many as five government agencies are negotiating over interest rates, accountability, capital sourcing, scoring, potential default and accident liability, design flaws and other fiscal, procedural and regulatory issues, any or all of which could wind up in the courts. In 2007 a national grassroots uprising helped kill a proposed addition of $50 billion in guarantees, then beat them twice again. When Obama endorsed "safe, clean nuclear power plants" and "clean coal" in this year's State of the Union, more than 10,000 MoveOn.org members slammed that as the worst moment of the speech. The first designated recipient of the residual Bush guarantees may be at the Vogtle site in Waynesboro, Georgia, where two reactors now operate. Georgia regulators have ruled that consumers must pay for two proposed new reactors even as they are being built. But initial estimates of $2-3 billion per unit have soared to $8 billion and more, even long before construction begins. Standardized designs have not been certified. On-going technical challenges remind potential investors that the first generation of reactors cost an average of more than double their original estimates. The Westinghouse AP-1000 model, currently slated for Vogtle - and for another site in South Carolina - has become an unwanted front runner. Owned by Japan's Toshiba, Westinghouse has been warned by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of serious design problems relating to hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. The issues are not abstract. Florida's Turkey Point plant took a direct hit from Hurricane Andrew in 1991, sustaining more than $100 million in damage while dangerously losing off-site communication and power, desperately relying on what Mary Olson of NIRS terms "shaky back-up power." Ohio's Perry reactor was damaged by a 1986 earthquake that knocked out surrounding roads and bridges. A state commission later warned that evacuation under such conditions could be impossible. Long considered a loyal industry lap-dog, the NRC's willingness to send Westinghouse back to the drawing board indicates the AP-1000's problems are serious. That they could be expensive and time-consuming to correct means the Vogtle project may prove a losing choice for the first loan guarantees. South Texas is also high among candidates for loan money. But San Antonio, a primary partner in a two-reactor project there, has been rocked by political fallout from soaring cost estimates. As the San Antonio city council recently prepared to approve financing, it learned the price had jumped by $4 billion, to a staggering $17-18 billion. Angry debate over who-knew-what-when has led to the possibility that the city could pull out altogether. In Florida, four reactors have been put on hold by a plummeting economy and the shifting political aims of Governor Charlie Crist. Crist originally supported two reactors proposed by Florida Power & Light to be built at Turkey Point, south of Miami, and two more proposed near Tampa by Progress Energy. State regulators voted to allow the utilities to charge ratepayers before construction began, or even a license was approved. But Crist is now running for US Senate, and has distanced himself from the increasingly unpopular utilities. With votes from two new appointees, the Public Service Commission has nixed more than $1 billion in rate hikes. The utilities have in turn suspended preliminary reactor construction (though they say they will continue to pursue licenses). At Calvert Cliffs, Maryland, the financially tortured Constellation Energy has committed to the French AREVA's European Power Reactor, now under serious challenge by regulators in France, Finland and Great Britain. An EPR under construction in Finland is now at least three years behind schedule, and more than $3 billion over budget. Meanwhile, at Entergy's 30-year-old Yankee reactor In Vermont, a series of radiation and information leaks have severely damaged prospects for re-licensing. The decision will soon be made by a deeply divided state legislature. "It would be better for the industry to let Vermont Yankee die a quiet death in the Green Mountain state," says Deb Katz of the grassroots Citizens Awareness Network. "With radioactive leaks, lies and systemic mismanagement, Entergy is no poster child for a new generation of nukes." Meanwhile, New Jersey may require operators of the aging Oyster Creek reactor to install sizable towers to protect what's left of the severely damaged Barnegat Bay, which the plant uses for cooling. Though the requirement may not be enforced for as much as seven years, the towers' high cost could prompt a shut-down of the relatively small plant. This unending stream of technical, financial and political downfalls could doom the "reactor renaissance" to history's radioactive dump heap. "President Obama needs to remember what Candidate Obama promised: no more taxpayer subsidies for nuclear power," said Michael Mariotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. "Renewables and energy efficiency provide both greater carbon emissions reductions and more jobs per dollar spent than nuclear. Unlike nuclear power, they are relatively quick to install, and are actually safe and clean." Indeed, despite Congressional and White House support for these latest proposed loan guarantees, the grassroots fight over both old and new nukes grows fiercer by the day. In the long run, this alleged "nuclear renaissance" could prove to be little more than a rhetorical relapse. Harvey Wasserman's SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH, A.D. 2030, is at www.solartopia.org. He is senior advisor to Greenpeace USA and the Nuclear Information & Resource Service, and writes regularly for www.freepress.org, where this article first appeared. --------11 of 14-------- Obama's Outreach to Americans: Empty Rhetoric, Business As Usual by Stephen Lendman Dissident Voice January 30th, 2010 The response to Obama's first State of the Union address was predictable. Democrats loved it. Republicans were skeptical to critical, while the media tried to have it both ways. The New York Times called his tone "colloquial, even relaxed" in quoting him stating "the worst of the storm has passed," then The Times saying "Americans are concerned, even angry". He urged Democrats not to "run for the hills," called for an end to "tired old battles," and focus(ed) intently on the issue of most immediate concern to the nation, jobs". A Times editorial headlined "The Second Year," saying "The union is in a state of deep and justifiable anxiety about jobs and mortgages and two long, bloody wars. President Obama did not create these problems, and none could be solved in one year. (He) used his (address) to show the country what he has learned and how he intends to govern in the next three years. (It) was a reminder (of his ability) to inspire with a grand vision and the simple truth frankly spoken. It was a long time coming". A Wall Street Journal editorial headlined "Staying the Course (but) with a little more humility, and a touch more bipartisanship". But whether this outreach is anything more than rhetoric will depend on a change of policy. It "could be a long year," concluded the Journal. CNN.com was more upbeat saying "Obama outlines ambitious agenda for 'lasting prosperity,'" noting that the "president struck an optimistic tone and avoided lofty rhetoric in stating that the cost of inaction will be great". The Washington Post's EJ Dionne called Obama "a conciliator (who's) willing to fight". The Post's Eugene Robinson called his rhetoric "determined, patient, forceful, good-humored, at times even mischievous. He looked relaxed and in control. (For) the first time in months (he) reconnected with the language and themes that got him elected". Time.com headlined "Confident Republicans Give Obama a Frosty Reception". At the same time, columnist Joe Klein called his speech "a terrific performance...easily digestible, user-friendly... but it was also a fighting speech.. This was Obama at his best". In its customary supportive role, The Nation magazine's Robert Dreyfuss headlined "Two Cheers for Obama on Foreign Affairs," saying "it was a pleasure to listen to (him), especially after eight years of his predecessor's alarmist warnings and warlike thundering (so) let's take a moment to appreciate Obama's speech last night". The Nation's Melissa Harris-Lacewell called his address a "National Rorschach Test" given meaning by the viewer more than by the subject. (Obama tried) to break through this psychological angst.. to remind Americans of the situational constraints he faces; to shift.. despair back to optimism,.. and remind people that the crisis began under his predecessor". "As he has done exquisitely since the campaign, (he) contextualized these difficulties within a broader historical sweep (by) insist(ing) that the 'American story' is replete with examples of gritty determination (to overcome) seemingly insurmountable obstacles". >From the Financial Times: "Obama pledges renewed focus on jobs.. as his 'number one' priority (while) at the same time pledg(ing) to right the economy and continue pushing for healthcare and financial sector reform.. Speaker Nancy Pelosi sounded the Democrat response saying: "Tonight, President Obama presented a vision to the American people of a stronger union, a new foundation for prosperity and a thriving middle class. Working together, we will adopt a bold agenda for our economic growth". Republican Senator Orrin Hatch called Obama "completely tone deaf (by) blaming all our problems on George W. Bush (and) doubl(ing) down on his commitment to a Washington-knows-best strategy that will only make matters worse". >From House Minority Leader John Boehner: "The American people were looking for President Obama to change course tonight, and they got more of the same job-killing policies instead". As a candidate, Obama promised change, a new course, sweeping government reforms, addressing people needs, and "ensur(ing) that the hopes and concerns of average Americans speak louder in Washington than the hallway whispers of high-priced lobbyists.." A year later, hope is disillusion, frustration, and anger over promises made, then broken with a growing awareness that Obama represents business as usual, a reality rhetoric can't change. His top political, economic and national security officials are former administration members - from Wall Street, the military, and other key power centers for continuity, not promised change. He presides over a bogus democracy under a homeland police state apparatus, embraces torture and political persecution like his predecessor, and continues unbridled militarism, imperial wars, and a shocking disregard for the law. A January 27 Dana Priest Washington Post article revealed a secret Obama "hit list," the same policy George Bush authorized to kill US citizens abroad claimed to be supporting terrorism "against the United States or US interests," whether or not it's true. He looted the federal Treasury for Wall Street, plans new monetary measures to control the world's money, and favors handouts to the rich at the expense of beneficial social change. He embraces the same Bush administration policies, targets dissenters, Muslims, Latino immigrants, environmental and animal rights activists, and lawyers who defend them too vigorously. He spies illegally on Americans, destroyed decades of hard won labor rights, wants public education privatized as another business profit center, and scorns democracy in favor of hard-line rule. He backs rationing healthcare, destroying Medicare, and enriching insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains. He wants legislation passed to empower agribusiness, let corporate polluters reap huge windfall profits by raising energy costs, and create a speculative bonanza for Wall Street with a new carbon trading derivatives scheme. He wants all Americans monitored with a national ID card, favors preventive detentions for uncharged detainees, and opposes protection for whistleblowers and journalists to protect their identity. He ignores growing poverty, hunger, and homelessness, refuses help for budget-strapped states, and chooses rhetoric, theater, deceit and cynicism, not progressive change to address a national emergency. His State of the Union address reflected "yes we can," "hope (and) change," and another pledge that "Tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.. The time to take charge of our future is here,". at the same time he invaded Haiti, occupies the country with 20,000 combat troops, obstructs essential aid from reaching millions, and claims it's a humanitarian mission. Rutherford Institute president and constitutional lawyer, John Whitehead, says he's "afraid (of) the state of the nation" in his January 27 augustforecast.com article, citing "Ominous developments in America (that) have been a long time coming," covering some of the above perspectives and more. "As national borders dissolve in the face of spreading globalization, (it's likely) that our Constitution... will be subverted in favor of international laws..The corporate media (act mostly) as a mouthpiece for government propaganda, no longer. as watchdogs, guarding against encroachments of our rights.. We have lost our moral compass.. Americans have largely lost the ability to ask questions and think analytically... we no longer have a sense of right and wrong or a way to hold the government accountable,.. the way Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence - that when government fails the people, it's their right "to alter or abolish it," and replace it with one that works. In his January 27 article titled "State of the Union Rhetoric, 2010: Economic Euphemisms and Internal Contradictions (Part II)," economist Michael Hudson cited growing dangers, unlikely to be addressed or reversed: America's "road to debt peonage;" "Debts that can't be repaid;" rising defaults; the illusion of "borrowing out way out of debt;" an economic recovery favoring oligarchy, "the FIRE sector - finance, insurance and real estate - not the "real economy;" . Americas "Bubble Economy (leaving) families, companies, real estate and government so heavily indebted that they must use current income to pay banks and bondholders," making it unavailable for goods and services; and the "most dangerous belief that the economy needs the financial sector to lead its recovery by providing credit," when, in fact, Wall Street wrecked the economy by "predatory lending...casino gambling,. and looting the federal Treasury to cover losses." Hudson worried that Obama's speech would "celebrate this failed era". In fact, his policies embrace it, will continue to going forward, and proposing a discretionary spending freeze, the part most important to increase, is counterproductive and ludicrous. Specifically he said: S"tarting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. Spending related to our national security (meaning militarism and imperial wars), Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will". A Road to Perdition Agenda Obama's rhetoric hides a failed agenda he'll continue, serving capital and militarists, not people in dire need. He wants more business tax cuts and windfalls to stimulate growth and new jobs, repackaged Reaganomics that cost record numbers of job losses in the past two years, well over 500,000 in December alone based on the broader household survey. As a result: real unemployment tops 20%; 11 million full-time jobs were lost since late 2007; over four and a half million jobs were lost since Obama took office; a record 9.3 million Americans work part-time; in 2009, a record 2.8 million homes were foreclosed, realitytrac.com saying "a massive supply of loans.. loom(s) over the housing market,. many to become delinquent in 2010 and beyond, perhaps for years; and an epic debt overhang crushes the economy, exacerbated by a $13 trillion giveaway to Wall Street; another $10.7 trillion pledged amounting to a virtual free money blank check; and similar largess goes for militarism and homeland security at a time dire people needs go begging. Smooth rhetoric belies Obama's failed agenda, one he'll continue without progressive change under new leadership that cares, what neither party offers nor ever will with priorities leaving millions out of luck and on their own. Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. Contact him at: lendmanstephen [at] sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. --------12 of 14-------- The US game in Latin America By Mark Weisbrot February 01, 2010 The Guardian ZNet US interference in the politics of Haiti and Honduras is only the latest example of its long-term manipulations in Latin America When I write about US foreign policy in places such as Haiti or Honduras, I often get responses from people who find it difficult to believe that the US government would care enough about these countries to try and control or topple their governments. These are small, poor countries with little in the way of resources or markets. Why should Washington policymakers care who runs them? Unfortunately they do care. A lot. They care enough about Haiti to have overthrown the elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide not once, but twice. The first time, in 1991, it was done covertly. We only found out after the fact that the people who led the coup were paid by the US Central Intelligence Agency. And then Emmanuel Constant, the leader of the most notorious death squad there - which killed thousands of Aristide's supporters after the coup - told CBS News that he, too, was funded by the CIA. In 2004, the US involvement in the coup was much more open. Washington led a cut-off of almost all international aid for four years, making the government's collapse inevitable. As the New York Times reported, while the US state department was telling Aristide that he had to reach an agreement with the political opposition (funded with millions of US taxpayers' dollars), the International Republican Institute was telling the opposition not to settle. In Honduras last summer and autumn, the US government did everything it could to prevent the rest of the hemisphere from mounting an effective political opposition to the coup government in Honduras. For example, they blocked the Organization of American States from taking the position that it would not recognize elections that took place under the dictatorship. At the same time, the Obama administration publicly pretended that it was against the coup. This was only partly successful, from a public relations point of view. Most of the US public thinks that the Obama administration was against the Honduran coup, although by November of last year there were numerous press reports and even editorial criticisms that Obama had caved to Republican pressure and not done enough. But this was a misreading of what actually happened: the Republican pressure in support of the Honduran coup changed the administration's public relations strategy, but not its political strategy. Those who followed events closely from the beginning could see that the political strategy was to blunt and delay any efforts to restore the elected president, while pretending that a return to democracy was actually the goal. Among those who understood this were the governments of Latin America, including such heavyweights as Brazil. This is important because it shows that the State Department was willing to pay a significant political cost in order to help the right in Honduras. It convinced the vast majority of Latin American governments that it was no different from the Bush administration in its goals for the hemisphere, which is not a pleasant outcome from a diplomatic point of view. Why do they care so much about who runs these poor countries? As any good chess player knows, pawns matter. The loss of a couple of pawns at the beginning of the game can often make a difference between a win or a loss. They are looking at these countries mostly in straight power terms. Governments that are in agreement with maximising US power in the world, they like. Those who have other goals - not necessarily antagonistic to the United States - they don't like. Not surprisingly, the Obama administration's closest allies in the hemisphere are rightwing governments such as those of Colombia or Panama, even though Obama himself is not a rightwing politician. This highlights the continuity of the politics of control. The victory of the right in Chile, the first time that it has won an election in half a century, was a significant victory for the US government. If Lula de Silva's Workers' party were to lose the presidential election in Brazil this autumn, that would be another win for the state department. While US officials under both Bush and Obama have maintained a friendly posture toward Brazil, it is obvious that they deeply resent the changes in Brazilian foreign policy that have allied it with other social democratic governments in the hemisphere, and its independent foreign policy stances with regard to the Middle East, Iran, and elsewhere. The US actually intervened in Brazilian politics as recently as 2005, organising a conference to promote a legal change that would make it more difficult for legislators to switch parties. This would have strengthened the opposition to Lula's Workers' party (PT) government, since the PT has party discipline but many opposition politicians do not. This intervention by the US government was only discovered last year through a Freedom of Information Act request filed in Washington. There are many other interventions taking place throughout the hemisphere that we do not know about. The United States has been heavily involved in Chilean politics since the 1960s, long before they organised the overthrow of Chilean democracy in 1973. In October 1970, President Richard Nixon was cursing in the Oval Office about the Social Democratic president of Chile, Salvador Allende. "That son of a bitch!" said Richard Nixon on 15 October. "That son of a bitch Allende - we're going to smash him." A few weeks later he explained why: The main concern in Chile is that [Allende] can consolidate himself, and the picture projected to the world will be his success ... If we let the potential leaders in South America think they can move like Chile and have it both ways, we will be in trouble. That is another reason that pawns matter, and Nixon's nightmare did in fact come true a quarter-century later, as one country after another elected independent left governments that Washington did not want. The United States ended up "losing" most of the region. But they are trying to get it back, one country at a time. The smaller, poorer countries that are closer to the United States are the most at risk. Honduras and Haiti will have democratic elections some day, but only when Washington's influence over their politics is further reduced. --------13 of 14-------- Part 6: Two-thirds of Americans support Medicare-for-all Should polls matter? By Kip Sullivan, JD "I am here today to say I think the employer-based health care system is dead. I think we need to find a system that's not built on the back of the government. I am here to also say I don't think we need to import Canada or any other system. We are going to build an American system because we are Americans and we don't like any other system. So we are going to build our own... This is now simply a question of leadership and political will. It is not a question of policy. No more policy conferences." (See pages 15-16 of the transcript of the conference proceedings.) Those were the remarks of Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, a member of the Herndon Alliance and Health Care for America Now (HCAN). Stern made those comments at a June 16, 2006 conference sponsored by the Brookings Institution and the New America Foundation. It is interesting to consider how similar Stern's remarks are to those of other "option" movement leaders I have quoted in this six-part series. Like Celinda Lake, Jacob Hacker, Roger Hickey (Campaign for America's Future) and Bernie Horne (also CAF), Stern has no qualms about promoting the insidious claim that single-payer cannot be enacted in America because "Americans" don't want it. Like Hacker, Stern preaches opportunism dressed up as political wisdom (he calls for more "political will" and no more stinkin' "policy conferences"). Fixing the "facts" around the policy But what I find most intriguing about Stern's anti-single-payer remarks is the date they were made. They were made on June 16, 2006, which was after the Herndon Alliance hired Celinda Lake to produce "research" showing Americans don't want a Medicare-for-all system, but several weeks before Lake convened her first focus groups and three months before Lake would reveal her "results" at a Herndon Alliance conference. We know Lake had to have been hired by the Herndon Alliance no later than May 2006 because that was the month she and American Environics published the goofy Road Map to a Health Justice Majority (the one that listed 117 "values" like "brand apathy"), which, according to Lake, gave her the information she needed to select the right mix of "Proper Patriots" and "Marginalized Middle-Agers" for her focus groups. But we also know Lake did not host the first Herndon Alliance focus groups until July 2006. Thus, in June 2006, Stern had no data - no focus group research, no poll results - to support his remarks. In fact, as we have seen in Parts 2 and 3 of this series, the best research showed that Stern had it backwards, that for at least the previous two decades two-thirds of Americans supported a Medicare-for-all system. But as one of the movers and shakers within the Herndon Alliance, Stern had to have known Celinda Lake would shortly deliver results from her focus group "research" designed to lend credence to his comments. But unlike Roger Hickey, Richard Kirsch, and other leaders of the Herndon Alliance who refrained from claiming single-payer was "un-American" until they had Lake's "findings" in hand, Stern could not contain himself. Stern was so eager to undermine the single-payer movement that he announced Lake's "facts" before Lake "documented" them. It appears Stern also knew that Lake would "find" that Americans liked the "public option". At the June 2006 conference, Stern blurted out this strange statement: "I think the single payer issue is a stalking horse for I am not sure what because we are going to have a multi-payer system.. in America.. (page 20) The statement is strange because the two parts of the sentence don't connect, and because the statement came out of the blue. If you read the half page of the transcript that precedes this statement, you will see how completely out of context it was. Why did Stern have the "single-payer as stalking horse" metaphor on his mind? Why did he use the metaphor and then fail to explain what single-payer was a "stalking horse" for? The only explanation that makes sense is that Stern and other Herndon Alliance leaders had decided earlier (probably in 2005) to substitute the "public option" for single-payer; they had already anticipated that conservatives would characterize the "option" as a "stalking horse for single-payer"(that's in fact precisely what did happen); and Stern, in his eagerness to move the anti-single-payer campaign along, inadvertently opened a window, however briefly, onto this Herndon Alliance secret. If my hypothesis is correct, the secret that Stern was so tempted to reveal was that the Herndon Alliance had decided by no later than June 2006, and probably much earlier, that it would seek to take single-payer off the table and replace it with the "public option," and they would hire Celinda Lake to create the "facts" that justified their decision to sabotage the single-payer campaign. Should polls have been influential with leaders of the "public option" campaign? Unlike Stern, other representatives of the Herndon Alliance managed to keep their anti-single-payer remarks in check until Celinda Lake published her focus group and survey "research". From that point on, the company line within the Herndon Alliance and (after the formation of HCAN in July 2008) within HCAN was that "public opinion research" had forced its advocates to abandon single-payer and endorse the "option". For example, after announcing in his June 2009 comment that Americans are "scared of single-payer," Bernie Horn, CAF's blogger, asked rhetorically, "How do we know this?" His answer: Over the past two years, progressive groups have conducted an unprecedented amount of public opinion research about universal health care. Usually it's the conservatives who have all the polling data. For the sake of discussion, let's take the "option" campaign leaders at their word and assume they consulted polls first and set policy second. And let's also assume they honestly overlooked the citizen jury and survey research I reviewed in Parts 2 and 3. Assuming all that, let us now ask: Should people who seek to change society in fundamental ways consult polls before they make decisions about how they will do that? Would the single-payer movement, for example, have been well advised to mimic the Herndon Alliance and conduct its own surveys before deciding to undertake a campaign for single-payer? No! Why not? First, people who seek to make social change must have some familiarity with the society within which they hope to make change. If they must consult polls to know how their fellow citizens will react to their efforts, they are probably in the wrong business. Second, public opinion is malleable, especially on complex issues. To put this another way, the context - the environment - within which people are asked to express an opinion matters, and that context can be changed, for better or worse, by human effort. Treating survey data as evidence of "barriers" to social change, which is how Jacob Hacker and other "option" advocates have treated their cherry-picked polling data, is equivalent to saying public opinion can't be changed and that solutions to problems must be tailored to fit the allegedly immutable public "values". In short, giving polls as much deference as they have allegedly been given by "option" campaign leaders can be tantamount to abandoning fundamental reform in favor of more incremental reform, especially if the polls in question were sloppily done or misinterpreted. The political use of polls We have already encountered evidence for this conclusion. In the discussion of the 1993 Jefferson Center citizen jury we saw that that jury rejected President Bill Clinton's Health Security Act at a time when polls were saying a majority of the public supported it. The difference was immense: Only 21 percent of the jury supported Clinton's bill compared with roughly 60 percent in contemporaneous polls. The polls, limited as they always are in the amount of information they could provide, were woefully inadequate predictors of how Americans would feel about Clinton's bill once they knew the most important facts about it. This truly American jury went on to endorse Sen. Paul Wellstone's single-payer legislation by 71 percent. If we gave credence to the polls taken in the fall of 1993 (which is when the Jefferson Center jury met) and knew nothing about the citizen jury, we would have concluded American opinion was considerably more conservative than it was. A 2009 paper entitled, "The political use of poll results for a privatized health care system in Canada," confirmed this thesis that polls can serve as the handmaiden of the right wing. The paper reported on the results of an experiment in Montreal in which the investigators first polled a group of people about how to finance universal health insurance in Quebec, and then subjected them to a crude version of the citizen-jury education process and posed the same questions again. (Damien Contandriopoulos and Henriette Bilodeau, Health Policy 2009;90:104-112.) There was an enormous difference between the answers the group gave upon initial polling and after they had been exposed to more information and given an opportunity to talk among themselves. Moreover, the results of the post-quasi-citizen-jury poll were substantially to the left of the first poll results. The experiment was conducted on behalf of the Clair Commission, a commission established by the province of Quebec in 2000 to recommend changes in its single-payer, universal coverage system. The commission met at the end of a decade of intense debate throughout Canada about whether Canada's single-payer system would be better off if, among other things, Canada's universal health insurance system were financed less by taxes (the liberal position) and more by out-of-pocket payments by patients, also known as "user contributions" (the conservative position). The commission convened ten focus groups, with 12 people in each group selected to represent a cross-section of Montreal's population. The commission initially gave the focus groups only four choices: increase taxes, remove coverage of certain services, create a special fund, or require more patient out-of-pocket payments. Commission staff made what was apparently a superficial presentation of the issues raised by these options and then, before the groups had a chance to talk among themselves, asked for a vote. The largest vote-getter on this first round was more "user contributions," something conservative groups in Quebec had been promoting through advertisements and other means. Thirty-four percent voted for this option. After this vote was taken, some of the participants objected to their limited set of options. According to the authors, the objections were probably motivated by a desire, clearly expressed by some participants, to add a progressive tax (not merely "taxes") to the option list. In any event, prior to the final vote, "refusal to choose any of the options" was added as a choice but "progressive tax" was not added. After the presentation of more information and a chance for participants to talk and debate, a final vote was taken. A gargantuan 62 percent chose "refuse to choose". The other four options - the ones the commission staff was seeking the groups' opinion on - together garnered only 38 percent of the vote. The main loser was "user contributions;" now only 13 percent chose that solution. For whatever reason, the Montreal "jury," armed with information and emboldened by the opportunity to compare values and perceptions with one another, rebelled against its handlers and refused to go along with the limited choices they were given. The authors remarked: [T]his example shows that it is perfectly possible - and probably even common - that poll results do not reflect the opinions respondents would have provided if they had been given the time or the opportunity to reflect on the issues. (Page 109) The Montreal experiment reveals the same pattern we have seen in the citizen jury and polling data I reviewed in Parts 2 and 3 of this series: Knowledge about a subject, including the knowledge generated by a debate about it, can produce measures of public opinion that produce results quite different from survey results, especially results generated by uninformative or biased poll questions. And, as was the case with the Montreal "jury," we have seen that the direction of this opinion shift is away from the status quo and incremental reform and toward fundamental reform. To recap Parts 2 and 3: We saw that the two citizen juries produced support levels as high as the 70-plus-percent range; that polls which compared single-payer to Medicare or some other existing single-payer system produced support levels in the 60-to-70-percent range; and that polls which provide little information or misinformation tend to produce support levels below 60 percent. The founders of the "option" campaign did not fall off the turnip truck yesterday. They were well aware of the fact that polls can produce biased and inaccurate results. Nevertheless, they decided to feign great deference to amorphous polls badly interpreted, and to biased polls. Single payer is the only solution There is a third reason - one specific to the health care crisis - why consulting polls first and adopting strategy and policy second is a bad idea. And that is that a single-payer system is our only way out of this mess. We must get US health care costs down for both economic and moral reasons. But we must also get costs down for political reasons. Andy Stern can talk all he wants about finding the "political will" to extend coverage to everyone, but until we as a society find the political will to cut health care costs, we won't find the political will to achieve universal health insurance. The sooner influential people like Stern can find within themselves the political will to support effective cost containment, the sooner Congress will do likewise, and the sooner we will achieve universal coverage. Single-payer has no peer as a cost-containment method. Every other remedy that has been discussed in this country over the last four decades, and every remedy currently under debate in Congress - more electronic medical records, more report cards on clinics and hospitals, more preventive services, more "disease management," more "coordination between teams of doctors" as our president is wont to put it, more research comparing the effectiveness of treatments, and the tiny "public option" - every one of those ideas remains, at best, unproven as a cost-containment method, and in some cases will actually raise costs. To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, the facts have a single-payer bias. Concluding thoughts on this series In the spring of 1989, the organizations I was working for (Minnesota Citizens Organized Acting Together and the Health Care Campaign of Minnesota) officially adopted the position that we could not achieve universal health insurance unless we cut the high cost of health insurance in Minnesota and America. I was given the job of organizing a discussion within both organizations about how to achieve real cost containment. Those discussions went on throughout the latter half of 1989, and occurred in a dozen cities throughout Minnesota. In December 1989, both organizations endorsed the single-payer solution. At no time during those discussions did the people I worked with adopt the Herndon Alliance/HCAN attitude that we had to put our fingers in the wind before we endorsed a solution. We certainly weren't oblivious to the power of our opponents; in fact, the "political feasibility" question was front and center throughout those discussions. Perhaps it was because polls inquiring about public attitudes toward single-payer were nonexistent, or at least unknown to us, when we began our deliberations. Perhaps it was because members of the discussion groups were not members of or close to the political elite and therefore felt no need to temper their policy recommendations with a desire to make the elite comfortable. Perhaps it was because many of us had devoted a substantial portion of our lives to social change of one form or another and were comfortable with our own judgment, unaided by polls, that a Medicare-for-all system was well within the mainstream of American opinion. For whatever reason, it never once crossed our minds that we ought to hire a pollster to convene focus groups and conduct polls before we made up our minds about what policy to endorse. Instead, we did what people have done throughout the history of democracy: We reached out to as many individuals and groups as our resources allowed, we did our best to present the facts to each other and to hear each other out, and then we made a decision. We endorsed a single-payer system. Kip Sullivan is a member of the steering committee of the Minnesota chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program. He is the author of The Health Care Mess: How We Got Into It and How We'll Get Out of It (AuthorHouse, 2006). --------14 of 14-------- Only if doubt doubts doubt can doubt be true to its own inner essence. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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