Progressive Calendar 03.22.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 2010 02:40:29 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   03.22.10

1. Peace walk        3.22 6pm RiverFalls WI
2. Alberta tar sands 3.22 7pm

3. CRA/Bicking forum 3.23 7pm

4. ed              - Bicking for CRA sign-on (updated)
5. Frank Scott     - Real or bizzaro news?
6. John Murphy     - Nadering Kucinich
7. Stephen Lendman - The death of American populism

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From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 3.22 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] Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022

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From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at]>
Subject: Alberta tar sands 3.22 7pm






*       Shut Down the Alberta Tar Sands!
*       Halt the Alberta Clipper Pipeline on Leech Lake & Fond du Lac Tribal
Lands & in Chippewa State Forest!
*       Preserve the World's Boreal Forest & Muskeg for Their Wildlife
Habitat, Carbon Sequestration, Oxygen, Water Storage & Filtering Services!
*       Stop Polluting Canada's River Basins & Conserve Freshwater!
*       Defend Native Sovereignty & Treaty Rights!
*       End America's Fatal Addiction to Oil!
*       Convert to Renewable Energy Now to Cool Down the Planet & Stabilize
the Climate!

March 22nd is World Water Day and the Climate Crisis Coalition of the Twin
Cities is holding a special forum on the Alberta Tar Sands-the dirtiest,
most toxic, destructive and energy-intensive hydrocarbon extraction
project on the planet.  Featured, will be Ojibwe activist Marty Cobenais,
who will be speaking about the tar sands as well as efforts to halt the
Enbridge Alberta Clipper and Keystone-Excel Pipelines from delivering
filthy tar sands crude over tribal lands in Minnesota & Montana to fuel
America's ruinous Car/Truck Culture.

Unfortunately, the Alberta Clipper was just completed on March 3rd, when
the last two lengths of pipe were welded together in Superior, Wisconsin
and soon it will be doing damage to Leech Lake Tribal Lands and Chippewa
State Forest among other points along its 1,000-mile route.  It is
expected to be operational by April 1st.  However, Ojibwe activists, who
have rejected the $10 million deal made by the tribal council of Leech
Lake Reservation, have taken action in court to prove imminent harm from
oil spills if the line starts running.  The Fond du Lac Band of Lake
Superior Chippewa tribal government has also accepted a tidy sum of $17
million to lease the right of way to Enbridge so that the dirty tar sands
crude can eventually make its way to Chicago where it will be refined.
Oil spills are a dead certainty since all pipelines routinely leak due to
poor welding, lax maintenance, regulation & inspection and operational
errors at pumping stations.  We have Hillary Clinton to thank for this
disaster waiting to happen since it was she, who as Obama's Secretary of
State, allowed the pipeline to cross into the country.  If this
monstrosity is allowed to operate, Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin will
have its air, soil, ground & surface water and biota poisoned by benzene,
toluene and other toxic compounds found in the gunk it will be delivering.

As reported by Winona LaDuke in The Circle, (()nline at: ) there was a 3,000-gallon spill near Pembina, ND in
January of this year, and there will surely be more to come because the
U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
Administration (PHMSA) had bent over backwards to make sure they do.  In
2007, it granted TransCanada a special permit that allows portions of the
Keystone Pipeline Project, which is also opposed by IEN, to be operated at
a higher maximum operating pressure than would otherwise be required by
current federal regulations.  The waiver permits portions of the proposed
pipeline to be operated at 80% of the minimum yield strength of the pipe,
rather than the lower maximum of 72%.  As of now, Enbridge averages some
7,350 barrels a year in spills, most of them in Canada.  Clean-up, of
course, is a joke, which means ground and surface water contamination and
air pollution for decades.

Also part of the program, is a free screening of H2Oil.  The documentary,
written & directed by Shannon Walsh, tells the story of the massive waste
of freshwater by the Energy Giants, its toxic pollution and the deadly
health impacts in the form of rare cancers and other serious illnesses
upon the First Nation People living downstream from the Alberta Tar Sands
at Fort Chipewyan.  The film allows them to describe in their own words
what is happening to them.  The Aboriginal People of Canada and the U.S.
are speaking out and taking a stand against the Tar Sands and the Carbon
Barons and banks that ruthlessly profit from them as they feverishly and
desperately chase the last barrel of oil.  Native people are courageously
opposing the destruction of the boreal forest & muskeg ecosystem, the
contamination of their lands with strip mining & massive chemical sludge
ponds and the poisoning of the wildlife on which they depend for
subsistence.  Their struggle warrants our support since the health of the
entire planet depends upon its victory. Therefore, their struggle is all
of ours.

3CTC calls for the complete shutdown of the Alberta Tar Sands because the
extraction process itself and the eventual combustion of the fossil fuel
that is produced from the bitumen are adding greatly to greenhouse gas
concentrations and what is rapidly becoming out-of-control global warming.
At a time when the world should be converting entirely to renewable energy
in the form of wind & solar power and clean mass transit run by the same
means, the remaining hydrocarbons should be left in the ground where
Mother Nature put them not burned to fuel North America's profligate
consumer society.  Instead of bulldozing vast swaths of boreal forest and
muskeg, we should be preserving them as vital carbon sinks and sources of
oxygen.  In fact, Earth's boreal forests store even more carbon than do
its tropical rainforests.  Like other bogs and wetlands, the muskeg also
serves as an important water filtering and storage system.  When the peat
is drained and dried for tar sands extraction, it instantly begins to
oxidize and release enormous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.
Rather than wasting millions of gallons of freshwater on foolhardy
fossil-fuel extraction, we should be conserving this precious resource
because it is the very Essence of Life, without which no Living Thing can
survive.  World water supplies are already threatened with shortages
because of dramatic alterations in Earth's hydrological cycle due to
climate change.  Therefore, Canada's glacial-fed rivers cannot afford
anymore waste from the production of Tar Sands Bitumen and must be allowed
to flow freely and cleanly.

Marty Cobenais will be coming all the way from the IEN Office in Bemidji,
Minnesota to speak and show the film.  We hope you make a serious effort
to attend this important public event, and we would appreciate you
informing others about it.  For further reading, we suggest the book Tar
Sands:  Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent by Canadian journalist
Andrew Nikiforuk. It's available at Mayday Books at 15% off.  Also, check
out the IEN's 72-page report on tar sands investment, Cashing in on Tar
Sands:  RBS, UK Banks and Canada's "Blood Oil" at:

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From: David Shove <shove001 [at]>
Subject: CRA/Bicking forum 3.23 7pm

Sponsored by the New Broom Coalition and
CUAPB (Communities United Against Police Brutality)

What is the future of the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority
(CRA) in view of its recent and long-standing problems?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 7:00pm
Walker Community Methodist Church
3104 16th Ave. S., Mpls

What is the future of the CRA?  Will it be an effective agency to reduce
police abuses?  Or will it be window dressing to deflect community anger?
Will it become so obviously powerless that it is either discarded or
redesigned once again?

The CRA board is currently in turmoil.  Some important progress has been
made by the board, particularly in its evaluation of Police Chief Dolan's
performance relative to the CRA.  Recently, internal divisions have led to
the Board Chair's unilateral cancellation of the last board meeting, with
no reason given.  The board chair has also called for the resignation of
one of the most active members, Dave Bicking.

How can the CRA board move forward?  How can the CRA be more effective?
How can we help Dave Bicking, who is up for reappointment by City Council
and the Mayor?  These questions will be addressed by past and present
members of the CRA and other long term activists against police brutality.
All are welcome to come and share ideas, areas of disagreement, or any
relevant information or experience.

   Michelle Gross, Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB)
   Dave Bicking, member of the CRA*
   Pam Franklin, member of the CRA*
   Michael Friedman, Executive Director of Legal Rights Center, and past
Board Chair of the CRA
   Papa John Kolstad, sometime candidate, musician, small businessman, and
political activist
       *for identification only, not speaking on behalf of the CRA board

This forum comes just before the appointment of new members to the CRA and
the possible reappointment of Dave Bicking.  We hope to engage the
community at this important time for the CRA and to provide information
for action.

New Broom Coalition:, or call Dave or Jan at
CUAPB:, or call their hotline at 612-874-STOP

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From: ed
Subject: Bicking for CRA sign-on

Here is THE Bicking support statement:
[statement approved by Dave Bicking]

[See signatures at end and add yours!]

Do you want to sign on personally? If so, email me at shove001 [at]
and say "sign me on", write/spell your name as you would like it to
appear, and if adding an affiliation, write out how you want that to
appear (Affiliations for identification purposes only). Thanks! -David

-begin statement-


We, the undersigned, support the reappointment of Dave Bicking to the
board of the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA).

For nearly two years, Dave Bicking has been an active and effective member
of the CRA.  He has strengthened the important work of civilian oversight
of the Minneapolis police.  We see his reappointment as an indication of
whether the Mayor and City Council are committed to the importance and
independence of the CRA.

In addition to the central work of hearing cases, Bicking has taken the
initiative in other important roles for the CRA, and has worked with other
board members to gain support for these ideas and projects.  Bicking led
the work to bring to light the Police Departmentīs overturning of the
Taser policy that was developed by the CRA and passed by the City Council.
He did much of the work of bringing together CRA data and board membersī
observations to produce the CRA report on the performance of the Police

Dave Bicking has brought to the board a long history of activism, hard
work, and skills.  He has remained outspoken in his support for police
accountability and civilian review, and in his critique of current police
policies and leadership.  That has not precluded fair and impartial
adjudication of the complaints against individual officers, nor has he
been criticized for bias by any who have witnessed his work on hearing

It would be unprecedented to not reappoint a dedicated CRA board member
who wishes to continue on the board.  Four year terms for CRA board
members help insure the independence of the CRA.  Bicking is up for
reappointment after less than two years only because he was originally
appointed to fill an unexpired term.

Effective civilian review has always been opposed by powerful interests.
The attempt to remove Dave Bicking from the CRA is part of an effort to
eliminate the CRA or make it too weak to matter.  We support strong
provisions for police accountability and we support those who stand up for
victims of police misconduct.  We appeal to the Mayor and the City Council
to reappoint Dave Bicking to another term on the CRA.

Signed by:


 CUAPB (Communities United Against Police Brutality)
 New Broom Coalition

Individuals:  (affiliations for identification purposes only)

 Gayle Bonneville, Mpls voter
 Kris Broberg
 Joey Brochin
 Paul Busch, Metro Watchdog
 Gary Carlson, 4CD Green Party
 Michael Cavlan RN, Progressive Independents
 Kevin Chavis
 Tom Cleland
 Rebeccca & Scott Cramer
 Chris David, DFL activist
 Dan Dittman
 Ted Dooley, attorney
 Pam Franklin
 Michael Friedman, Former Chair, Mpls CRA
 David Garland
 Rhoda Gilman
 Michelle Gross, CUAPB
 Farheen Hakeem, National Co-chair of the Green Party of the United States
 Robert Halfhill
 Andy Hamerlinck
 George Hamm, Green Party
 Melissa Hill
 Brian Hokanson
 Ron Holch
 Frank S Kennett
 John Kolstad, president Mill City Music, candidate for Mpls mayor
 Lynn Levine
 Niklas Ludwig
 Doug Mann, Mpls School Board candidate
 Bill McGaughey
 Janet Nye
 Eric Oines, Mpls
 David Shove, Progressive Calendar
 Michael L Tupper
 Chuck Turchick
 Dorian J Ullman
 Charley Underwood
 David Weisberg

 and you!...

--------5 of 7--------

Real or Bizzaro News?
by Frank Scott
March 20th, 2010
Dissident Voice

Israel Expands Settlements To Washington D.C.

In a bold move that shocked Wall Street, Main Street and J Street, Israel
expanded its settler housing to Washington D.C.

President Obama and his family were ordered to vacate the White House so
that it would be available to Israeli officials when they visit the
occupied territories in the Senate and the House.

Speaker Pelosi expressed surprise when told that Netanyahu had asked for
her congressional leadership position in another bold move that showed
Israel practicing its political chutzpah as never before.

"I thought he would ask for the presidency and am flattered and of course
only too willing to accede to any demands made by our most important
friends in the world, the Israelis," said Pelosi.

The ADL accused her of practicing thinly veiled anti-Semitism by only
mentioning the world instead of the universe.

Obama Supports Wealth Care For All Americans

In soaring emotional rhetoric not heard since his last soaringly emotional
speech, the president expressed soaring emotional support for all wealthy
Americans and for the overwhelming 90% majority who are not yet wealthy
but will be someday if our free markets and credit purchases can fully
flower and bloom and blossom and, uh, whatever.

"This nation will thrive and survive as long as people are free to get
wealthy and I intend to fight to the last breath to keep the freedoms we
enjoy that allow wonderful hard working billionaires to get even more rich
and then help the rest of us with tax deductible donations to charity".

When asked about health care for all Americans the president said he
supported it, but it would only be possible when more rich people were
given tax breaks that enabled them to buy more private health insurance
companies and then make tax deductible donations to charity.

Bankers Urge Freeing Madoff: Say Fed Needs His Help

A consortium of bankers, financiers, entrepreneurs and gourmet chefs
joined in calling for the release of convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff. A
spokesperson for the group said that only someone with his skill sets
could lead the Fed and help the nation out of its most serious financial

"Let's face it, our economy has been a massive Ponzi scheme for years now
and the person who can best get investors to buy into this mess has to be
the man who did it before with absolutely nothing but his mouth and an
enigmatic smile. Now he'll be able to peddle shares in our new Financial
Utilization of Credit Kleptocracy Unions of Penury fund, a derivative
collateral fandango perceptivity subtracting coercion swapperama market
which, along with that Mona Lisa quality of his, will be impossible for
egotistical and exceptionally dumb investors to resist ... Nothing will
more insure the survival of our leaking ship of state than to have captain
Bernie at the helm."

Reality Celebrities?

Producers of reality shows and celebrity gossip programs have joined
forces to create an all new viewing consumer product. It will combine the
most appealing candid moments of real life embarrassing drama lived by
ordinary people who thereby become celebrities, and scandalously
embarrassing moments in the lives of celebrities which may reduce them to
lives as ordinary people.

The new show will feature celebrities during unguarded moments as they use
their toilets, or have sex or beat their children. Then ordinary people
will be shown having the same experiences affording viewers the double
pleasure of watching people who are better looking, more talented and have
far more money than they make complete asses of themselves while also
enjoying their peers who have little money, looks or talent becoming
celebrities by virtue of being portrayed using toilets, having sex and
beating their children.

A spokesperson for Humping International Values productions, which owns
the rights to the proposed show said, "We know our viewers love watching
their slightly better looking peers making asses of themselves enough to
make them stars and they also love gossip about the flaws of celebrities
they love and also hate. This will afford them a double pleasure. We
expect it to be bigger than American Idol. The twits twixt twelve and
twenty market will love it and bring the older mob of wannabes along with

The working title for the show is:

Frank Scott writes political commentary which appears in print in the
Coastal Post and The Independent Monitor and online at the blog

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Nadering Kucinich
by John Murphy
March 20th, 2010
Dissident Voice

So then, because you are neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My
  - Jesus (Rev 3:16)

I thought I could get away with it. I thought I might be able to have a
week's vacation and not be assaulted with more atrocities from the
Democrat Party. I would leave my computer behind and go to a place where I
would not even have to worry about seeing a newspaper and where the only
thing on television would be rented DVDs of the movies I had not seen over
the last year. I would spend lots of time in the fitness center and the
swimming pool.

Yes, I had forgotten. The fitness center has a television. I added another
corollary to Murphy's Law. Someone had tuned into the Keith Olbermann
show. Lawrence O'Donnell was substituting. Dennis Kucinich was the guest.
He hammered the Democrat Party's health care plan and put the lie to each
one of the talking points spouted by the Democrat's talking heads from big
Ed "Sissy" Schultz to Thom "Toady" Hartman. Painful as it may be to listen
to Rush Limbaugh, it is mind splitting to listen to the wimps on "America
Left" (the XM satellite radio station that should be renamed
"America-wimpy-Democrat-talking-heads"). Listening to "America Right" is
perfect when you need a laugh. But listening to "America Left" is not
recommended while driving over 5 mph. Road rage, risking life and limb,
even if that of only a passing tree, could be the result of listening to
"America Left".

Kucinich told O'Donnell, "The bill represents a giveaway to the insurance
industry, $70 billion a year, no guarantees for any controls over
premiums, forcing people to buy private insurance with five consecutive
years of double-digit premium increases". Pantywaist O'Donnell then asked
Kucinich if he would be comfortable if his vote was the vote that defeated
the bill. Kucinich reminded him that every vote counts indicating that his
would clearly be a "no" vote. This is the kind of thing that makes us love
the MSNBC people as much we love the Fox News people.

I went back to my room very pleased at having temporarily left the Green
Party in 2004 to support Kucinich in the primary election before switching
back to the Greens and working for the Nader campaign. A lot of my Green
Party friends told me that the only reason Kucinich bothered to enter the
race was to sucker members from the Green Party into registering as
Democrats in order to vote in the Democrat primary elections. I came to
believe that. To be sure, tens of thousands of Greens left the Green Party
in 2004 and never bothered to rejoin after the primary election. But now,
I had been vindicated. Kucinich was not that kind of a guy after all. You
could trust Kucinich.

Practical Politics

The very next night milksop Lawrence O'Donnell interviewed one of the
Internet's supreme bottom feeders, Markos Moulitsas, founder of the blog
Daily Kos. This is a guy who would be out of his depth in a parking lot
puddle. Even the people who do ads for male enhancement products look down
on Moulitsas. When O'Donnell, clearly suffering from a case of terminal
diaper rash, asked Moulitsas to comment on what Kucinich had said the
previous evening Moulitsas said Kucinich was practicing a "very Ralph
Naderesque approach" to politics. "The fact is this is a good first step
and he is elected not to run for president, which he seems to do every
four years. [Kucinich] is not elected to grandstand and to give us this
ideal utopian society. He is elected to represent the people of his
district and he is not representing the uninsured constituents in his
district by pretending to take the high ground here".

Continuing in his spasmodic seizure, O'Donnell asked Moulitsas, who was
still smacking his lips after finishing off his nightly dinner of creamed
dandruff, as to whether Kucinich would get a Democrat challenger for his
seat if he didn't support health care legislation - and in the process
kill it - Moulitsas replied, "Yeah, absolutely. What he is doing is
undermining this reform. He is making common cause with Republicans. And I
think that is a perfect excuse and a rational one for a primary
challenge". Of course it is Moulitsas and O'Donnell along with their
corporate colleagues masquerading as "liberals" who are making common
cause with Republicans. Just being a member of the Democrat Party is
making common cause with the Republicans.

Listening to someone like Moulitsas compare what appeared to be Kucinich's
principled stand on health care with Nader's presidential run in 2000
ought to have been enough to have forced the guy who had tuned in MSNBC on
the fitness club's TV to pitch the remote through the screen. He did not.
He was either a masochist or a Democrat. Come to think of it, that's a

Checking the exit polls of the Democrat Party and then checking the exit
polls of CNN shows that the reason that Al Gore lost in 2000 was because
250,000 registered Democrats voted for George Bush! Who could blame them?
Who would have possibly wanted a repeat of the disgraceful Clinton years?
Clinton had already killed a million innocent Iraqi men, women and
children with bombs and sanctions. With his so called "welfare reform" he
threw tens of thousands of single mothers into the streets and forced tens
of thousands of others into the slavery of Wal-Mart like jobs thereby
destroying the women's movement.

Other Democrats put forth the same nonsense about Ralph Nader and his 2000
campaign. Somehow or other Democrats have the impression that they "own"
votes and that Nader "took" 500 votes the Democrat party "owned". A
strange game these Democrats play! A game for chumps! They keep asking,
even ten years later, "What if Nader had not run". The Democrats refuse to
ask the other "what if" questions, namely; "What if the Libertarian
candidate had not run"; "What if the Natural Law candidate had not run";
"What if the Reform Party candidate had not run". Each of those candidates
drew 500 votes which might have gone to Gore. But the biggest "what if"
question the Democrats refuse to ask is: "what if 250,000 registered
Democrats in Florida had not voted for Bush"? The Democrats do not want
any other candidates other than the corporate owned candidates to win.

Moreover, a Democrat Party exit poll showed that 25% of Nader's votes came
from Republicans, 38% from Democrats, and the rest were nonvoters who
would have only voted for him. In other words, more than sixty percent of
Ralph's voters would NOT have voted for Gore.

Oh yeah, then there were a couple of little other items - Katherine Harris
removing 80,000 eligible voters from the voting rolls and the Supreme
Court ending the recount. And the Democrat Party said nothing about any of
this! Furthermore, every one of those judges was approved at a time when
the Democrat Party held the majority in Congress! If the Democrat Party
actually thought Ralph Nader spoiled the 2000 election it would have taken
steps to prevent it from happening again. It would've introduced IRV
voting - that prevents the spoiler effect.

Any 12-year-old with a modem knows that Nader had absolutely nothing to do
with Gore's loss but then some people still think that Iraq had weapons of
mass destruction. That's what happens when you have nothing upon which to
rely but the talking points of the corporate party. The Democrat Party has
no one to blame for Gore's loss but itself. Gore destroyed the Kyoto
protocols and couldn't even win his home state of Tennessee or the home
state of Slick Willie.

The Democrat Party is just another voice of the corporate elite that is
trying to control America. It does not want us to have any choices other
than the corporate candidates and it will do its best to slander and
malign even men like Ralph Nader who has done more for this nation in the
past 40 years than any 30 presidents in the last 200 years!

For the last ten years Democrats and corporate media pundits have been
smearing Ralph Nader - seemingly oblivious to the facts - looking for a
scapegoat for the failures of their own party and its candidates.

It is not the job of third-party or Independent candidates to make sure
either of the two major parties wins. That would be like asking a new
start-up to make sure Microsoft or Apple has more market share. Moreover,
there are 100 million people in this country who do not vote. There are
plenty of nonvoters for all candidates to attract.

At what point do we stop relying on a party to be an opposition party and
start asking what else needs to be done to put some spine into Washington

No, believing the corporate owned Democrat Party or its henchmen like
Moulitsas and O'Donnell about Nader causing Gore's loss is as insane as
believing Iran is building nuclear weapons. Most Democrats are suffering
from "Battered Left Syndrome". It's time for them to leave the abusive
relationship with the Democrat Party. But just like the battered wife who
says "he really loves me" or "I can change him if I just stay with him a
little longer", the battered Democrat voter will inevitably learn the same
fatal lesson learned by the battered wife.

The Democrat Party is part of the problem. It voted for or failed to stop
the Iraq war resolution turning Bush into a wartime president. It voted
for or failed to stop the Patriot Act. It voted for or failed to stop John
Ashcroft. It voted for or failed to stop Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy.
It voted for or failed to stop the Medicare fiasco. It lost the 2002
midterm elections, contrary to historical tradition. For the last three
years it has controlled Congress and continues to fund illegal wars in
Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines and

More dangerous than the Republican Party, it has destroyed the labor
movement by its failure to repeal the Taft-Hartley act over the last 60
years and even now the Democrat Congress has removed the teeth from the
Employee Free Choice Act. Although it may have been the Republicans under
Ronald Reagan which gave us neoliberal economics, it took the Democrats
under Clinton to destroy American jobs with NAFTA and repeal the
Glass-Steagall Act which resulted in the collapse of the American economy.
And as we have witnessed over the last year, there is merely a cosmetic
difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration
although Obama's death toll is beginning to make Bush look like a
schoolyard bully. To paraphrase HL Mencken, if there had been any
formidable body of cannibals in the country, Obama would have courted
their vote by promising them free missionaries, fattened at the taxpayer's
expense. Of course there would have been no missionaries served up, just a
few desiccated prayer books.

No, believing Markos Moulitsas when he says Nader caused Gore's loss is as
insane as believing Glenn Beck when he says that "social justice" is code
for Communism and Nazism.

The perverse Lawrence O'Donnell would not stop hammering Dennis Kucinich
by merely trotting out the despicable Markos Moulitsas. No, that would not
be nearly enough for a gym sock-sniffing skid mark like O'Donnell. On the
next night O'Donnell spoke with the dying Natoma Canfield, the 50-year-old
cleaning woman and cancer survivor from Ohio, who had to drop her
insurance due to skyrocketing premiums. Ms. Canfield is back in the
hospital after living more than a decade cancer-free. She has been
diagnosed with leukemia. O'Donnell, with all the concern of a barracuda,
asked if she too would condemn Kucinich. To her credit, she merely
suggested that the Democrat's bill might be a good first step. Of course
it will not and she will die if the Democrat's bill is passed because it
will not cover her for four years. Her condition will not permit her to
live that long and God only knows the disastrous amount she will be
charged for her treatment.

Along with the hundreds of thousands Obama will have killed in Iraq,
Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines and Palestine over
the next three years he will also have murdered 150,000 Americans who will
die because of the back room deal he cut with big Pharma and the
healthcare insurance companies.

On the next night O'Donnell tried again with Michael Moore. Michael Moore
of course is the guy that Democrats love but progressives love to hate
ever since he stabbed Ralph Nader in the back in 2004 (no, there is no
such thing as a "progressive Democrat"; that would be oxymoronic). He
completely supported Nader back in 2000 but then suddenly turned 180 and
threw his massive weight behind the Butcher of Belgrade, General Wesley
Clark, the first military commander to bomb Yugoslavia since Hermann
Goring. Nice job Michael. But at least, to his credit Moore would not
condemn what was, up until the next day, the principled stand of the
congressman from Ohio.

It has been a busy year for the Democrats. They have destroyed the hopes
of the antiwar movement, preempted universal single-payer health care,
continued the Bush neoliberal economic policy of bank bailouts, botched
the stimulus program and dealt a death blow to the environmental movement
in its attempts to deal squarely with global warming. But from big Ed
"Sissy" Schultz, Thom "Toady" Hartmann and the rest of the
"settle-for-the-crumbs-from-the-corporate-table-Democrat" talk show hosts,
no one would ever know that the Obama administration was destroying people
by the hundreds of thousands and turning health-care reform into a
boondoggle of corporate welfare transferring wealth to the richest
corporate interests in the country.

They urge on us the politics of the practical. This is what we must expect
from a political party that tells us we must be content to settle for the
crumbs from the corporate table whether the issue is fortifying the
position of American workers by strengthening the labor movement or
defining healthcare and education as human rights to be protected and
guaranteed by government. After all, we must practice "practical politics"
not some "ideal utopian society". If single-payer healthcare, tuition free
education for every American and worker's rights are what the Democrats
consider to be part of an "ideal utopian society" we must shudder at their
idea of the "practical".

The Darling of the Democrats

Even Alan Grayson, the darling of the Democrats, does not understand the
Democrat party's existing legislation. He believes that it will cover 30
million people. That's simply not true. He believes it will save lives.
That's not true. The bill will not take effect for four years. If he wants
to save lives, he should introduce a bill that will go into existence in 3
to 6 months. It can be funded by taxing the rich and by the huge sums of
money we would save by the immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq,
and Afghanistan and the money we would save by cutting off funds to
Israel. But neither Alan Grayson nor any Democrat would want to propose
such legislation. Alan Grayson is considered to be the Democrat with guts.
Perhaps if he had a bit more knowledge as a bit more guts then
progressives would feel more comfortable with him.

Perhaps Grayson was well intended with his recent "public option" bill.
But as soon as it was analyzed PNHP's (Physicians for a National
Healthcare Program) Senior Health Policy Fellow Don McCanne, M.D.
violently opposed the bill. Here's what he said on March 13th when the
bill was proposed:

At any rate, the Grayson proposal seems to be the true public option, run
by the government that progressives have been fighting for. So what could
be wrong with it?.

The greatest concern of all is that it still does not fix our outrageously
expensive, administratively wasteful, highly inequitable, fragmented
method of financing health care. It merely provides another expensive
option in our very sick system of paying for health care. Providing yet
one more option that people can't afford really hasn't moved the process.

Although Medicare is a very popular program, it is highly flawed. It has
an oppressive central bureaucracy. It fails to use more efficient
financing systems such as global budgeting for hospitals and negotiation
to obtain greater value in health care purchasing. There are serious
questions about whether Medicare funds are being distributed equitably and
in a manner to promote greater efficiency. Its benefit package is
relatively poor, covering only about half of health care costs for our
seniors. Most Medicare beneficiaries feel that they essentially are forced
either to purchase Medigap plans, which provide the worst value of all
private health plans, or to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans, which
waste too many tax and premium dollars. It would be both much less
expensive for all of us and better for Medicare beneficiaries if the extra
benefits of these private plans were rolled into the traditional Medicare
program. Part D should be stripped of its private market administrative
and profit excesses and also be rolled into the traditional program.
Medicare also has failed to introduce beneficial innovative programs such
as the British NICE system, which would improve both quality and value in
our health care.

When we advocate for an improved Medicare for all, we really aren't
advocating for Medicare with a few tweaks. We are advocating for replacing
Medicare with a single payer national health program that covers everyone,
which we can still call Medicare, just as the Canadians do. Adding another
buy-in program to the two buy-in programs that already exist in our highly
dysfunctional system will do virtually nothing to fix these flaws we now
have. It does nothing to slow the growth in our national health
expenditures, and the high premiums for a package of mediocre benefits
will do little to reduce the numbers of uninsured.

For those who say that a Medicare buy-in is an incremental step towards
health care utopia, explain precisely how that is going to work. Explain
each problem that it solves. Explain how it is going to morph into a
universal or near universal system in which each individual is paying the
full actuarial value of the coverage. It won't happen.

Playing with a Medicare buy-in is an unnecessary diversion at a time that
we need to get serious about reform. We need to fix Medicare and expand it
to cover everyone. Nothing less will do.

It is clear that Grayson simply realizes that given the impenetrable
depths of Democrat cowardice, even someone who simply gives the appearance
of courage becomes a hero to the courage-starved people who mindlessly
vote each year for the ghost of FDR. If Grayson had any real courage, he
would leave the Democrat Party along with Kucinich but we have just
learned a powerful lesson about the courage of Dennis Kucinich. On March
15th he pledged that he would not vote for the Democrat health care bill.
On March 17th he had changed his mind. A little whisper in his ear from
Rahm Emanuel's alter ego, Barack Obama, was all it took. "You will lose
your job if you don't do what you're told".

The Last Laugh

But it turns out that the Democrats and Dennis Kucinich have had the last
laugh. Just when we thought we could actually trust Dennis Kucinich to
take a principled stand against the Democrat's horrendous healthcare bill,
only two days after he told us that there is no way he will vote for this
egregious piece of legislation, he changed his mind and announced that,
after all, his principles mean nothing compared to helping the Obama
agenda succeed. Dennis Kucinich is a Democrat. Alan Grayson is a Democrat.
Their only function in the Democrat Party is to keep those suffering from
"Battered Left Syndrome" from leaving. Kucinich and Grayson perpetuate the
myth that the Democratic Party can be changed from within if only we give
it a little more time.

In the final analysis Markos Moulitsas could not have been more wrong in
comparing Dennis Kucinich with Ralph Nader. Nader does not back away from
a principled position. Nader is not a Democrat; Kucinich is; that makes
all the difference.

John Murphy was the independent candidate for House of Representatives in
Pennsylvania's 16th district in 2006 and 2008 . He is a founding member of
the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition where he represents the
independent candidacy of Ralph Nader. He can be reached at:
johnamurphy [at]

--------7 of 7--------

The Death of American Populism
by Stephen Lendman
March 20th, 2010
Dissident Voice

Ideologically it believes governments must provide for the greatest good
for the greatest number of people. It opposes concentrated wealth,
demagogy, and despotism, and supports democracy, human and civil rights,
and social justice - an ideology the 19th century People's Party and 20th
century Progressive Party endorsed without majorities.

Until recently, faint echoes remained, sadly silenced after Senator Bernie
Sanders and sole House populist capitulated.

Former Kucinich for president consultant, David Swanson, said, "He gave in
to the power of a false narrative, and that he ought to have said so.. I
think the corporate media has instilled in people the idea that presidents
should make laws and the current president is trying to make a law that
can reasonably be called 'healthcare reform' or at least 'health insurance
reform'. . I don't excuse Kucinich flipping.. I just want to find the
right explanation for it".

The web site ("everybody in - nobody out".) called
the Democrats (like Republicans) "a corporate party, rotting from the

SPA called Kucinich's "flameout" spectacular, in support of a bill he and
progressive Democrats strongly opposed until they flipped, including
Congressman Danny Davis, representing this writer's 7th Illinois District.

Kucinich said, "I've taken a detour supporting this bill.. For SPA, it's
one .that will condemn millions of Americans to ongoing suffering and
death. because insurers make money by denying care, why real reform
requires their removal and assuring everyone of universal single-payer
coverage. Everyone in. Nobody out. What your senator and House
representative get, you get. What congressional Democrats won't enact.

On March 17, Rep. Dennis Kucinich announced:

I have carried the banner of national health care in two presidential
campaigns, in party platform meeting, and as co-author of HR 676, Medicare
for All. I have worked to expand the health care debate beyond the current
for-profit system, to include a public option and an amendment to free the
states to pursue single payer.

On November 7, 2009, despite enormous pressure, he voted against HR 3962:
Affordable Health Care for America Act,". asking "Is this the best we can
do" in a prepared text titled, "Why I Voted No," saying:

"We have been led to believe that we must make our health care choices
only within the current structure of a predatory, for-profit insurance
system which makes money not providing health care". Passing "legislation
in which the government incentivizes the perpetuation, indeed the
strengthening, of the for-profit health insurance industry (exacerbates)
the very source of the problem.. Clearly, the insurance companies are the
problem, not the solution".

On March 17, he reversed himself, saying: ".. after careful discussions
with President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Elizabeth my wife and close friends,
I have decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation.

As this bill passes, I will renew my effort to help those state
organizations which are aimed at stirring a single payer movement.. I have
taken a detour through supporting this bill, but I know the destination I
will continue to lead, for as long as it takes, whatever it takes to an
America where health care will be firmly established as a civil right".

He later said that not supporting the bill "would destroy Obama's
presidency," a nonsensical view given Bill Clinton's success despite his
health care program failure and efforts to impeach him. He survived,
served two terms, and left office with a 68% approval rating, matching
Franklin Roosevelt at the end of his presidency.

On Democracy Now (March 18), Ralph Nader referred to "the latest chapter
of corporate Democrats crushing progressive forces both inside their party
and against third parties". It's nothing new. It happens every time reform
is proposed.

Current legislation doesn't "provide universal, comprehensive or
affordable care to the American people. It shovels hundreds of billions of
dollars of taxpayer money (to predators that) created the problem: the
Aetnas, CIGNAs" and other insurers. It requires no contractual
accountability or other benefits for people denied coverage under a
"pay-or-die system that is the disgrace of the Western world".

For the drug cartel, "it's a bonanza" heading right to their bottom line,
including no government negotiated discounts, lengthy new drug patent
protection periods to impede cheaper generic competition, and no
reimportation of lower-priced foreign drugs to keep prices high and
affordability low.

Further, there's no public option, and the legislation mostly doesn't kick
in until 2014. It means "180,000 Americans.. will die between now and
(then) and hundreds of thousands of injuries and illnesses" will go
untreated. "There's (also) no free choice of doctor and hospital under
this. There's all kinds of exploit(ive provisions to let) health insurance
(and drug) companies continue their ravenous ways over people who are
(the) most vulnerable. when they're sick or injured." Who in Washington
represents them when the few progressives side with the others?

It's a sad moment when liberal Democrats caved. "They've all caved.
They've all been put into line by the (House) majority rulers". It's a
shameless, but predictable climb-down. They want to perpetuate a system
that costs double per capita (about $7,600) of other Western states and
provides worse coverage. In America, about 800 people die weekly because
they can't afford insurance, enough of it, or insurers deny or delay their

Will new legislation fix this? Not at all because providers, especially
insurers, are notorious for gaming the system, and 2,500 pages of
legislation contain loopholes, ambiguities, and legal interpretations that
experts can easily manipulate to their advantage or create a process so
onerous to contest that it amounts to the same thing.

Former CIGNA vice president, Wendell Potter, explained, saying Obamacare
lets insurers shift costs to consumers, offer inadequate or unaffordable
access, force Americans to pay higher deductibles for less coverage, and
even scam subsidized consumers.

"What worries me," he said, "is that people who are forced to buy coverage
and all they can afford to buy is a high deductible. (So) if they get
really sick, they have to pay so much out of their own pockets that
they're going to be filing for bankruptcy or (lose) their homes".

Potter especially dislikes the Senate bill that will force many people to
buy insurance only covering about 60% of costs if they're sick. Many
people have no insurance because it's unaffordable. "They certainly
couldn't afford premiums plus the out-of-pocket expenses in today's
market" that keeps hiking costs higher.

At best, Potter believes Obamacare will move millions of uninsured to
underinsured, making them vulnerable to serious illness costs, the main
cause of personal bankruptcies. When it happens, no Obamacare provision
protects them from losing their homes.

As for prohibiting pre-existing conditions, the Senate bill especially
gives insurers "all the flexibility they need" to prevent people from
accessing coverage. Health history and age will determine premiums, so the
chronically ill and aged will pay far more than the already unaffordable
high rates.

The so-called medical-loss ratio is another problem. It determines what
percent of premiums cover medical costs. The less restricted, the more
profits (in the billions of dollars), and less care for policyholders.

Nader points out that even with more people covered, prices aren't
regulated, "junk insurance policies" will be offered, and there's nothing
to stop insurers "from taking this papier-mache bill and lighting a fire
to it and making a mockery of it". They're unhindered by controls, and no
facility will "create a national consumer health organization" to give
people "their own non-profit consumer lobby (in) Washington. This is
really a disaster".

Obamacare forces coverage on consumers, assesses penalties for
noncompliance, empowers the IRS to collect them, protects corporate
profits, rations care, and dumps millions of Americans (insured and
millions left uninsured) in the scrap heap to fend for themselves. It's
not a step forward. It's a full-scale retreat.

Obama is like Bush. He froze out dissenters, single-payer advocates, and
surrounded himself with corporate hacks and warmongers. It's the same old,
same old, the people getting scammed and harmed because no one in
Washington represents them. Unless they act on their own, they'll get no
help from politicians delivering the best reform money can buy, with no
restrictions on spending amounts for it.

In June 2009 on a visit to Gaza, Jimmy Carter said "the citizens of
Palestine are treated more like animals than like human beings". So will
millions of Americans under Obamacare, a sellout scheme to provide less
than they now have and charge more for it.

Kucinich said his constituents urged him to do something, rather than
nothing even if it meant passing a bad bill. Unfortunately, most people
don't know the tawdry fine print, that insurance giant Wellpoint wrote the
Baucus bill, that corporations write virtually all legislation, that
Obamacare gives America's healthcare system to predatory insurers and Big
PhRMA, something Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, other progressive Democrats
understand, but capitulated anyway. Why so?

Despite his stated reasons, only Kucinich knows for sure, but here's a
guess. Washington is notorious for pressuring, intimidating, and/or
bribing members of Congress for support. Kucinich may have been told,
either vote yes or face a well-funded fall primary challenge that could
succeed given the power of deep pockets and deceptive ads. It's a prospect
no member of Congress relishes. They could also take away his Government
Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and
International Relations.

Whatever the reason, he may have tipped the balance  with House, then
Senate votes, imminent, perhaps as early as Sunday, March 21. Going first,
it's believed the House will use a controversial "self-executing rule" for
a package of Senate bill fixes to "deem and pass" the entire bill that
would otherwise fail. The Senate will then consider the revised bill
through "reconciliation," requiring a simple majority to pass.
Self-executing has been used many times before, but never for a bill
impacting health care for everyone, amounting to one-sixth of the economy.

It also bypasses the 1985 Byrd Rule that restricts reconciliation to
budget revisions according to provisions under Section 313(b)(1) of the
1974 Congressional Budget Act.

What's at stake? Plenty!

House and Senate bills will ration care, enrich providers, and make a
dysfunctional system worse. Hundreds of billions of Medicare cuts will
harm seniors. Most others will pay more, get less, and millions will
remain uninsured. According to an earlier AMA estimate, those covered
"will face higher premiums, deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance,
effectively reducing the scope of their coverage," what Wendell Potter
explained above.

Business Week magazine acknowledged it last August saying, "No matter what
specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President
Obama  this fall (or now), the insurance industry (and drug cartel) will
emerge more profitable". Quoting an unnamed Senate Finance Committee
staffer, "The bottom line is that health reform (will) lead to increased
revenues and profits," and for doubters, check current insurance and drug
company stock prices for confirmation.

Relevant International Law

Adequate health care is a human right, not a commodity for those who can
afford it.

Article 25 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
states: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the
health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food,
clothing, housing and medical care".

Article 12 of the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social &
Cultural Rights (ICESCR) states:

The State Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone
to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental
health (including universally ensuring) medical service and medical
attention in the event of sickness.. government(s) must ensure all
citizens have (affordable) access to basic health services.

Under international law, UDHR and ICESCR form the backbone of the right to
health for everyone. The UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural
Rights (CESCR) developed guidelines to implement it, including a "minimum
floor" below which no country may fall, that for health ensures it, in
terms of availability, accessibility, acceptability, quality, and
universality without discrimination.

America's Low Healthcare Delivery Ranking among Industrialized Nations

Of all industrialized countries, America is the only one that doesn't
recognize the right to health and a way to provide it. In fact, in Maher
v. Roe (1977), the Supreme Court declared it unnecessary for Congress to
require minimum health care standards. The closest to it are Medicare and

Removing middleman insurers would save over $400 billion annually, enough
to cover all the uninsured and provide quality care at lower overall cost.
Letting corporate predators game the system ensures the opposite, a
problem Obamacare exacerbates.

In 1943, Franklin Roosevelt proposed a Second Bill of Rights, declaring
"freedom from want" an essential liberty necessary for security, including
"the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve good
health". Predatory insurers deny it. Focusing on outcomes consistent with
internationally-recognized standards is vital, not the right of business
to commodify a human right, charge what they want, and deny access for
those who can't afford it.

Obamacare will worsen the current system. It's about profits, not people,
especially the nation's poor, most vulnerable, and disadvantaged on
society's fringes, most hurt by all congressional measures, including one
this vital.

What the 1913 Federal Reserve Act did for bankers, Obamacare may do for
the insurance and drug cartels.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. Contact him at:
lendmanstephen [at] Also visit his blog site and listen to The
Global Research News Hour on Mondays from
11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished
guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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