Progressive Calendar 03.23.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 2010 10:26:22 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   03.23.10

1. Vs Pawlenty's cuts 3.23 12noon
2. Education/refugee  3.23 4pm
3. Israeli apartheid  3.23 5pm
4. Aeon/apt homes     3.23 5:15pm
5. Indymedia/data     3.23 5:30pm
6. Salon naval gazing 3.23 5:30pm
7. CRA/Bicking forum  3.23 7pm
8. WAMM immigration   3.23 7pm
9. Frontline/economy  3.23 9pm

10. Alliant vigil     3.24 7am
11. Raingarden        3.24 12noon
12. CRA board hearing 3.24 1:30pm
13. Amnesty Intl      3.24 6pm

14. ed             - Bicking for CRA sign-on (updated)
15. Rich Broderick - Class war: Corporate media and false consciousness
16. Shamus Cooke   - The Democrats' health care bill: defeat in victory
17. John V Walsh   - Insurance execs live high, more Americans die

--------1 of 17--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Vs Pawlenty's cuts 3.23 12noon

Press Conference and Speak-Out: "Don't Cut from the Poor, Disabled or
Working People of Minnesota"
Tuesday, March 23, Noon Minnesota State Capitol, First Floor, Outside
Governor Pawlenty's Office), 75 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Boulevard, St. Paul.

Please join others in taking a strong step for social justice. Governor
Pawlenty's proposed budget cuts are the most hurtful, illogical, inhumane
and criminal to date. If these cuts are passed in the 2010 Legislative
Session, this will bring more harm and devastation to many families that
are already struggling. As we continue face severe economic crisis, there
is a need more than ever for the very programs that Pawlenty is proposing
to cut. The more people come and speak out against these cuts, the harder
it will be for the other politicians to blindly follow Pawlenty. Let
Pawlenty know it is time stop balancing the budget on the backs of poor
and working Minnesotans! Sponsored by: the Welfare Rights Committee (WRC).
Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call 612-822-8020.

--------2 of 17--------

From: UMN Human Rights Center <humanrts [at]>
Subject: Education/refugee 3.23 4pm

March 23, 2010 - Education in Lugufu Refugee Camp: Speaking the
Language of Peace.
4:00 pm-6:00 pm.  Cost: Free and open to the public.
Room 260, Social Sciences Bldg., University of Minnesota, 267 19th
Avenue South, Minneapolis, 55455
Food Will be Served!

The Human Rights Program invites you to the colloquia of the
Interdisciplinary Graduate Group on Human Rights and Transitional Justice
Presentation by Maiyia Yang, PhD Candidate, Comparative and International
Development Education (CIDE) Second Presentation, TBA

For more information: PejuSolarin@ sola0020 [at]
Funding for these series comes from The Graduate School

--------3 of 17--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
Subject: Israeli apartheid 3.23 5pm

Israeli Apartheid Week @ the U of M :
Dr. Reecia Orzeck on "The roots of Israel's colonial and apartheid
Tuesday March 23rd, 5pm, Blegen 415

--------4 of 17--------

From: Amy Pfarr Walker <apfarrwalker [at]>
Subject: Aeon/apt homes 3.23 5:15pm

See the difference you make through Aeon's mission to create quality affordable
apartments homes. Join us:
Annual Meeting & Celebration - March 23
This isn't one of those stuffy annual meetings...this is a true
celebration of our work & residents!

Share a meal with your neighbors as you meet Aeon's residents, staff,
board and supporters. Enjoy a resident art show and spoken word performer

Join us from 5:15 - 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23 at the Zuhrah Shrine
Center. View more event details.

--------5 of 17--------

From: Dan Feidt <dan.feidt [at] GMAIL.COM>
Subject: Indymedia/data 3.23 5:30pm

Hi, just a friendly reminder of 3.23 government data workshop with TC
Indymedia @ the U of M West Bank's Blegen Hall Room 140, 5:30-7:30PM.
Please tell your friends, no registration or RSVP needed!

We have lined up a really nice set of speakers, plus quick videos from
noted ex-government whistleblowers Coleen Rowley on federal info processes
(how to see if you have an FBI file) & Michael Ruppert on researching.

Also North St. Paul Attorney Nathan Hansen will talk about Minnesota data
practices, plus citizen privacy advocate Rich Neumeister & former top
state information administrator Don Gemberling as well.

If needed please give me a call 651-338-7661, also we'll try to have the
videos posted later too. It would be great if someone brings a few snacks
or drinks :) We also may videotape the presentations if that's OK with
attendees & presenters.

More info:


Getting the Goods Workshop: Digging in with Twin Cities Indymedia,
FOIA & MN Data Practices Act

Want to learn how to get information out of the federal, state and
local governments? Join a workshop facilitated by Twin Cities
Indymedia, with special experts in the field explaining how government
record works, and how to get the info out.

Tuesday March 23rd

With presentations from citizen information activist Rich Neumeister &
data practices expert Don Gemberling.

Tuesday March 23
U of M West Bank, Blegen Hall 140

--------6 of 17--------

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Salon naval gazing 3.23 5:30pm

HI, since there are 5 Tuesdays this month, we will take one of those to
just have an evaluation of how the salons are going and what to do.  Next
Tuesday is that Tuesday.  March 23.  If you have ideas to share, please

The following Tuesday will be the discussion of The Alchemist by Paulo
Coelho for The Little Book of the Odd Month Club.

Pax Salons ( )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.

--------7 of 17--------

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

--------8 of 17--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: WAMM immigration 3.23 7pm

Committee Meeting: WAMM Immigration Committee
Tuesday, March 23, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Sabathani Community Center, Third
Floor, Conference Center, Room E, 310 East 38th Street, Minneapolis.

Interested in the welfare of immigrants and/or humane immigration reform?
Come be a part of a new committee at WAMM. Learn more about the truths of
immigration and join in a nationwide effort to pass comprehensive
immigration reform. FFI: Call 612-827-5364.

--------9 of 17--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
Subject: Frontline/economy 3.23 9pm

PBS | This week on FRONTLINE
Airs Mar. 23rd, 9PM ET (check local listings)

So here's a rather unlikely place to try to understand the reach and depth
of the economic crisis -- New York's tony Upper East Side.

It is the setting for this week's encore program Tuesday night.

In Close To Home, producer Ofra Bikel offers an unusually personal and
candid report on the recession's impact as seen through the stories of
fellow clients at the hair salon she's frequented for two decades.

As she explains it, she arrived at the idea for this film after months of
research around the country:

"And one day, walking across Park and Madison, I reflected on how far away
the economic troubles seemed to be from these streets; even to New
Yorkers, the Upper East Side seems special--a world apart, of privilege
and security. Then I arrived at my hair salon."

Bikel's longtime hairdresser Deborah invited her to stay and listen, as
one person after another sat in Deborah's chair. Bikel quickly got an
earful: Lay-offs, businesses going bust, the threat of home foreclosure,
stresses in families. Bikel realized she didn't need to travel the country
to see the fall-out from the economic mess -- she just needed to listen to
what people were saying right uptown.

Entertainment Tonight hailed this film as "another moving, chilling, and
essential documentary" by Bikel; another critic said it is "just as
eye-opening as [FRONTLINE's] reports from Washington."

We hope you'll watch Tuesday. Otherwise, you can watch it right now
online, where you'll also find an interview with Ofra Bikel and an
opportunity to join the discussion.

--------10 of 17--------

From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at]>
Subject: Alliant vigil 3.24 7am

Join us Wednesday morning, 7-8 am
Now in our 14th year of consecutive Wednesday
morning vigils outside Alliant Techsystems,
7480 Flying Cloud Drive Eden Prairie.
We ask Who Profit$? Who Dies?
directions and lots of info:

--------11 of 17--------

From: Institute on the Environment <danie419 [at]>
Subject: Raingarden 3.24 12noon

The Institute on the Environment's spring 2010 Frontiers lecture series is
now underway. Join us each Wednesday for a presentation and Q&A session,
followed by a casual get-together in the IonE Commons. The lectures also
air live on the Web.

3/24 - The Raingarden Renaissance (film screening)
Speaker: Mark Pedelty, Associate Professor, Journalism and Mass Communication

Note: Because this presentation entails a full film screening, it will not
be broadcast live due to viewing quality and copyright issues.

A Neighborhood of Raingardens is a three-part film about local nonprofit
Metro Blooms' effort to clean up Powderhorn Lake. Metro Blooms is working
with residents to install 150 rain gardens throughout Powderhorn, using a
similar-sized neighborhood as a control to evaluate the effect of the
gardens on stormwater quality and quantity. The film presents compelling
images, sound and information related to the material, animal and human
components of this pioneering project. A team of University of Minnesota
faculty, students and staff is working on the film, and would like
community feedback on Part 1, a 20-minute segment that explains rain
garden ecology and looks at the planning and volunteer recruitment, along
with the challenges related to the monitoring plan.

Lectures take place Wednesdays, noon to 1 p.m, in IonE Seminar Room 380,
VoTech Bldg., St. Paul campus. All lectures are free, no registration
required, and also air live on the Web.

--------12 of 17--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: CRA board hearing 3.24 1:30pm

Communities United Against Police Brutality
EMAIL NEWS March 21, 2010




Wednesday, March 24
Minneapolis City Hall, Room 317

The Public Safety & Health Committee of the City Council will hold a
public hearing to reappoint CRA board members and fill the open slots on
the board. Applicants will have a chance to speak and answer questions.
The public will also have a chance to speak.  Normally, these sort of
public hearings for appointments to city boards and commissions are very
low-key with just the applicants showing up.  However, this is a great
opportunity to have an impact on who sits on this very important board.
Already the dirty tricks have started, with Dave Bicking being listed as
just another candidate for a slot on the board, rather than a
reappointment.  Take these actions:

1) Sign the petition in support of keeping Dave Bicking on the board:

2) Contact the members of the Public Safety & Health Committee:
Cam Gordon, Ward 2
<>cam.gordon [at]
Diane Hofstede, Ward 3
<>diane.hofstede [at]
Barb Johnson, Ward 4
<>barbara.johnson [at]
Don Samuels, Ward 5
<>don.samuels [at]
Meg Tuthill, Ward 10
<>meg.tuthill [at]
Betsy Hodges, Ward 13
<>betsy.hodges [at]

3) Show up at the public hearing and speak out.

Wednesday, April 7
6:30 p.m.
Minneapolis City Hall, Room 333

Please plan to attend the next CRA board meeting and let your voice be
heard.  Between Chair Bellfield's lawbreaking under the ordinance and his
efforts to have Dave Bicking ousted from the board, things are really
heating up with the CRA.  This next meeting promises to be plenty spicy.
There may even be a few surprises.  You won't want to miss it!

--------13 of 17--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 3.24 6pm

AIUSA Group 640 (Saint Paul) meets Wednesday, March 24th, at 6:00 p.m.
Merriam Park Library, 1831 Marshall Ave, Saint Paul.

--------14 of 17--------

From: ed
Bicking for CRA sign-on (updated)

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)

 Mustafa Adam
 Theodore A A Bagg
 Shane Bastien
 Margaret Beegle
 Emily Murphy Bicking
 Lisa Bolton
 Gayle Bonneville, Mpls voter
 Louise Bouta, Well Mind Association of Minnesota
 Kris Broberg
 Joey Brochin
 Paul Busch, Metro Watchdog
 Alan Carlson, St Paul
 Gary Carlson, 4CD Green Party
 Michael Cavlan RN, Progressive Independents
 Kevin Chavis
 Tom Cleland
 Duncan Connel
 Rebeccca & Scott Cramer
 Chris David, DFL activist
 Ayan Deriam, 5CD Green Party
 Mary Devitt
 Dan Dittman
 Ted Dooley, attorney
 Tom Dooley, Working Democracy member
 Pam Franklin
 Michael Friedman, Former Chair, Mpls CRA
 Ann Galloway
 Amber Garlan, Secretary 4th CD Green Party
 David Garland
 Linden Gawboy
 Rhoda Gilman
 Richard Gravrok
 Michelle Gross, President, CUAPB
 Farheen Hakeem, National Co-chair of the Green Party of the United States
 Robert Halfhill
 Andy Hamerlinck
 Paul Hansen
 George Hamm, Green Party
 Melissa Hill
 Brian Hokanson
 Allan Hancock, Chair, 3rd Congressional District Green Party Local
 Ron Holch
 Lydia Howell
 Ashley James
 Neal Juliar
 Richard Kendall
 Frank S Kennett
 John Kolstad, president Mill City Music, candidate for Mpls mayor
 Andrew Larson
 Bruce Leier
 Lynn Levine
 Diana Longrie, Attorney at Law
 Niklas Ludwig
 Doug Mann, Mpls School Board candidate
 Wizard M Marks
 Karen McDowell
 Bill McGaughey
 Jan McGee
 Tracy Mohm
 Carol Mellom
 Peter Molenaar
 Justine Murphy
 Anne Ness
 Tim Nolan, Editor of Global Peace
 Janet Nye
 Jeff Nygaard
 Eric Oines, Mpls
 Thistle Parker-Hartog
 Kathleen Ruona
 Sarah Santiago
 Shar in Mpls
 David Shove, Progressive Calendar
 Scott Stenwick
 Jessica Sundin
 Tom Taylor
 Whitney Taylor
 Michael L Tupper
 Chuck Turchick
 Dorian J Ullman
 Cameron Ulmer
 Charley Underwood
 David Weisberg
 Mike Whalen

 and you!...

--------15 of 17--------

The Fog of (Class) War: Corporate media and the creation of false
By Rich Broderick
March 22, 2010
My 22-year-old daughter is learning some harsh realities about America's
dystunctional  politico-economic system.

In December, Emma graduated from the University of Minnesota with a
double-major in psychology and child psychology. Even though she completed
her B.A. in just three and a-half years, she finished up with honors and a
GPA just shy of 4.0.

Just before graduation, a faculty member who'd taught one of Emma's
classes offered her a position as a part-time research assistant earning
$15 an hour for 20 hours a week - more than enough for someone who shares
a house with several other young people to cover expenses and even put
something away for grad school. Emma was walking on air, looking forward
to a bright future.

But then a funny thing happened. When she showed up to sign the papers for
her new job, the HR folks informed her that her prof had been mistaken:
the only position the U was prepared to offer was for up to 14 hours a
week at $10 an hour. Emma gulped and accepted the revised offer.

Since then her 20 hours a week, $15 an hour job has turned into on-call
temp work, with Emma sometimes working two or three hours a week. She is
now scrambling around to find a real job but so far, no luck, other than
some babysitting gigs. This spring, when her lease runs out, she is
probably going to move in back with us.

And, oh yes, she's now been dropped from my health insurance coverage
because she is no longer a full-time student.

Emma is far more fortunate than many people her age - and older. She has
a home she can return to, and parents willing and able to help out. But in
microcosm, her predicament offers a real-life comment on the so-called
American Dream.

And what is the truth about that dream? Simply this: late stage consumer
capitalism - what I like to think of as Stage 4 capitalism, a malignancy
that has escaped its initial site and now ravages the entire body politic
- is good at doing only one thing.

It is not, as my daughter is learning, any good at providing jobs that
promote social mobility. As millions of others know, neither is it any
good at providing health care for everyone, healthy food, a rational
transit system, affordable housing or a life imbued with meaning and

No. The only thing that Stage 4 capitalism is any good at is manufacturing
false consciousness, that endlessly elaborating, ever-expanding fog of
distraction and self-destructive values in which happiness is equated with
purchasing power and realizing the goal of living inside a pain-free,
disengaged bubble. A bubble in which the answer to every one of life's
questions is the same: "more." A bubble in which, like the elderly couple
I saw recently leaving a grocery store carrying two 12-packs of Sprite and
two economy-sized packages of Depends adult diapers, even our ability to
connect cause with effect or to be able to perceive what is in our own
best interest has been fatally compromised.

As Herbert Marcuse wrote in An Essay on Liberation, "The market has always
been one of exploitation and thereby of domination, insuring the class
structure of society. However the productive process of advanced
capitalism has altered the form of domination...Not the automobile is
repressive, not the television set is repressive, not the household
gadgets are repressive, but...produced in accordance with the requirements
of profitable exchange [they] have become part and parcel of the people's
own existence, their own 'actualization.' Thus [people] have to buy part
and parcel of their own existence on the market; this existence is the
realization of capital. The naked class interest builds the unsafe and
obsolescent automobiles and through them promotes destructive energy; the
class interest employs the mass media for the advertising of violence and
stupidity...Self-determination, the autonomy of the individual, asserts
itself in the right to race his automobile, to handle his power tools, to
buy a gun, to communicate to mass audiences his opinion, no matter how
ignorant, how aggressive, it may be. Organized capitalism has sublimated
and turned to socially productive use frustration and primary
aggressiveness on an unprecedented scale - unprecedented not in terms of
the quantity of violence but rather in terms of its capacity to produce
long-range contentment and satisfaction, to reproduce 'voluntary

Can anyone say "Tea Party?"

Marcuse wrote that in 1969; today the reach and power of the corporate
media he cites as the primary tool employed by capitalism to merchandise
false consciousness have grown exponentially and are now all but

One measure of the falseness of what is being peddled can be encapsulated
by a single fact: despite our 24/7 news outlets, the rise of the Internet,
and the availability of thousands of print publications, year after year
international surveys show that Americans are the most poorly informed -
or perhaps, most richly misinformed is a more accurate way of putting it -
population of any advanced society on earth.

And it's getting worse. We have not even begun to reckon with the
implications of the fact that the corporate mass media is the first
normative institution in the world governed solely by the profit motive.
Yes, money is involved in every other normative institution - families,
churches, schools, the military - but profit is not (or should not be,
certainly) the sole purpose of those institutions, their raison d'etre.

If we analyze the values and behaviors promoted by those other
institutions, we see that they are fundamentally different from those
promoted by the mass media. Even the military tries to inculcate ideas
like personal responsibility, self-reliance, concern for others,
foresight, and self-sacrifice in the interest of the common good. Schools,
meanwhile, promote (or should promote) curiousity about the world-at-large
and self-discipline. Religious institutions preach care for the needy and
the strangers among us.

By contrast, backed by the largest and most heavily financed propaganda
campaign in history - some $200 billion in consumer advertising alone - a
propaganda campaign, incidentally, that dwarfs anything Hitler or Stalin
could have imagined in their wildest dreams, the mass media promotes
values and behaviors consistent with the metastatic growth consumer
capitalism requires for its parasitic survival: selfishness, impulsivity,
greed, and dependency, while playing upon the full range of negative
emotions - fear, anger, envy, pride, self-loathing - to drive the message

At the moment, the power and ubiquity of the corporate media is
overwhelming the counter-messages of other normative institutions. In
turn, that means that any hope we might have of reforming or even reining
in an economic system that, in its cancerous way, now threatens the very
ecosystem we rely on for civilized life will require us to reform or
replace the corporate mass media with a non-corporate independent media,
including a non-corporate, independent press willing to take on the news
media's historic role of ensuring the survival of democracy by creating an
informed citizenry.

Fortunately, there are now some organizations, like The Twin Cities Daily
Planet, trying to fill this role, and a number of increasingly influential
writers and thinkers laying out the case for media reform.

Two of those individuals, Robert McChesney, founder of, and
John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation, will be in town
this week to promote their new book, The Death and Life of American
Journalism: The Media Revolution that will Begin the World Again. I urge
everyone to take the opportunity to hear them speak.

Their appearance is being sponsored by the Twin Cities Media Alliance,
which operates the Daily Planet. It takes place this Thursday, March 25,
at 8:00 p.m., at Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis. The
event is free but it's probably good to RSVP if you can, since seating is
limited. You can do so by clicking on

See you there.

We have nothing to lose but our self-forged chains.

Rich Broderick
Rich Broderick (email richb [at] lives in St. Paul and teaches
journalism at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Rich is a writer, poet, and
social activist.

--------16 of 17--------

The Democrats' Health Care Bill
Defeat in Victory
March 23, 2010

What looks like a big victory for Obama and the Democrats may be their
greatest undoing. It's true that the passage of Obama's health care bill
represents a significant political victory for the Democrats. But
sometimes a battle won could equal a lost war.

It's telling that Obama had so much trouble in getting his own party to
pass the bill on a simple majority basis: the bill was so blatantly
watered down with the corporate hose that anyone with their name attached
to it feared future electoral doom.

This kept the Democrat's left wing - the so-called progressive wing - from
initially giving their seal of approval. It must be remembered that some
of the left Democrats initially claimed support for single payer health
care. After being scolded by the Party leadership that this demand was
"off the table," the lefts moved to the right and demanded a "strong
public option".

The public option grew weaker and weaker as the health care bill evolved.
The left Democrats pinned all their hopes on it; they ignored the rest of
the health care bill, which slashed Medicare and taxed the "Cadillac"
health care plans of union workers, all in the hopes that a miniscule
public option would give the lefts some political cover.

It wasn't meant to be. The final health care vision is the brainchild of
the monopoly corporations who dominate health care in America. Their power
will remain untouched. Indeed, it will only grow.

Dennis Kucinich, the most "radical" of the progressive Democrats, waited
until the last round before he threw in the towel to the health care
industry. His capitulation is especially symbolic, as many progressive
activists around the country remained in the Democratic Party solely
because he was there. [So now it's time to move out. -ed] His inglorious
surrender signals what many progressives already knew: the Democrats are a
corporate dominated party, where liberal ideas are tolerated so long as
they have no actual effect on policy. [Let's hear no more about "reforming
the Dems from within". Leave them; move on from MoveOn. -ed]

With Kucinich and the other left Democrats now fully discredited, the
Democratic Party has further undermined its credibility - what little
remained. Those who hoped that the party could be reformed. that the
corporate wing could somehow be out-muscled. will be duped no longer.

Also, the bill's taxing of "Cadillac" health care plans will further
alienate organized labor from the Democrats. What little faith the unions
had in the Democrats will be badly shaken. [How can "big strong union
guys"  so often end up licking Dem boots, getting nothing, and licking
boot over and over, year after year, never learning from experience,
always cringing like puppies in a thunderstorm? -ed]

More significantly, those millions of people who are soon to be mandated
to buy shoddy, corporate insurance will vent their rage solely at the
Democrats. A significant portion of the currently uninsured will remain
without insurance, and be penalized at tax time for not buying into the
corporate healthcare scam. These millions will be never vote Democrat

The Democrats have a won a congressional battle against the Republicans,
while sawing off the branches of support on which they are perched. The
party that was once "the lesser of two evils" is now competing on equal
footing with the Republicans.

With both political parties dominated by the big banks and corporations,
there is ever growing political vacuum to the left (the vacuum to the
right is being filled by the tea partiers).

There have been countless attempts to organize a mass third party. The
numerous progressive political parties that currently exist do so on an
insignificant scale.

What remains missing is the support of labor unions, which represent
millions of working members. Labor is the only social force that currently
exists on the left capable of creating a mass-based party with the
resources capable of competing with the two parties of big business.

What the unions lack in funds they make up for with potentially millions
of volunteers - door-knockers, phone bankers, fund raisers, community
organizers, etc.

If labor were to finally declare its independence from the Democrats, and
announce the drive to create an independent labor led party representing
the majority of working people in this country, the "fractured left" would
find instant cohesion.

If this labor based party were bas ed on a progressive platform -
including Jobs, Peace and Medicare for All - not only would the country's
millions of union members join and vote for it, but the tens of millions
of working people disenfranchised by the Democrats would instantly jump on

The political void to the left needs to be filled quickly. Tea Partiers
and Ron Paul Republicans are benefiting from this political black hole:
many people who are progressive at heart are being tricked by these
right-wing populists. A bold showing from America's Labor Movement would
stop this trend dead in its tracks and open the way for true majority

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for
Workers Action. He can be reached at shamuscook [at]

--------17 of 17--------

Insurance Execs to Live High, While More Americans Die
Health Insurance Bonanza
March 23, 2010

Let there be no doubt about it.  The health care "reform" bill voted into
law Sunday in the House is a capitulation which will leave 30 million more
Americans at the cruel mercies of the insurance companies - precisely what
the single-payer movement had been battling against.

In the end the defenders of the legislation and those who signed on to it
putting loyalty to themselves and their careers in the Democrat Party
above principle, like the narcissistic twerp [apt label -ed] Dennis
Kucinich, were left with only one real argument.  How could anyone turn
his/her back on the 30 million who would "benefit" from being brought
under the control of the private insurers?  The most succinct answer was
given by Ralph Nader in a joint interview with him and the traitor
Kucinich, who caved when his vote and a few others might have halted this
legislative atrocity, conducted by Amy Goodman.

Thus, Nader:

"First of all, that (the legislation) won't even begin until 2014, 180,000
dead Americans later (The number of unnecessary deaths over a three year
period due to a lack of any insurance - jw). Second, there's no guarantee
of that. The insurance companies can game this system. The 2,500 pages is
full of opportunities and ambiguities for the insurance companies to game
the system and to make it even worse.

"And let's say there are more people covered, right? Well, they're being
forced to buy junk insurance policies. There's no regulation of insurance
prices. There's no regulation of the antitrust laws on this. Everything
went down that Dennis was fighting for. There's no regulation that
prevents the insurance companies from taking this papier-mache bill and
lighting a fire to it and making a mockery of it. There's no shift of
power. There's no facility to create a national consumer health
organization, which we proposed and the Democrats ignored years ago, in
order to give people a voice so they can have their own non-profit
consumer lobby on Washington. .

"This is really a disaster".

This bill is a bonanza for the Insurance Industry, which has therefore
been uncharacteristically quiet during this so-called debate on health
care.  Or as Obama, ever the lackey for vested interests especially the
ever expanding finance sectors of the economy, put it, the bill extends
"our system of private insurance" to more people.  Put another way, some
more people may be covered with lousy policies with lots of fine print,
but even to do that the insurance companies must be guaranteed their take.
And to do that, the taxpayers along with the purchasers of the "insurance"
will be billed.

There are three essential features of private, for-profit health insurance
that make it despicable and inhumane.  First, the insurers use their
premiums "to enforce inequality in health care," as Dr. David Himmelstein
likes to put it.  That is the system is fundamentally non-egalitarian, so
that one's health is not a right but depends ever more on one's wealth.
Second, the insurers work to maximize their profits and so that the
Insurance bosses can live like kings.  Thus these parasites refer to
minimizing the dreaded "loss ratio," as they call it, which is the
fraction of the premiums given over to actual care.  To them that is just
a "loss"!  And finally, the law basically caves in to what is a protection
racket or a blackmailing racket by the insurers.  That is, if you want
health care you must pay off the insurers for doing nothing but denying
you some care.  That is "our system" of private insurance as Obama calls
it.  And it is increasingly characteristic of our economy where the ever
growing giant parasite which is finance capital demands a take for
essential needs - whether it be health care or pensions or education or
housing or a decent life for our dependents should our life be suddenly
terminated.  Thus a nation like ours which such wealth leaves so many
without essentials for a decent life. [Whenever Obama is on radio or TV, I
run to turn him off as quickly as possible, just as I did with both
Bushes and Clinton after NAFTA. As I run I am sometimes heard to say
four-letter words or seen to make rude road gestures. You've seen one
modern president, you've seen them all; no point wasting more time on
them. -ed]

And not only did Obama foist this on us, but those supposed "crusaders"
for single payer succumbed in to pressure from their Party.  And thus did
Dennis Kucinich cave to another atrocity just as he did when he backed the
prowar Kerry in 2004 and the prowar Obama in 2008.  There can be no more
powerful evidence that the Democratic Party is a worthless vehicle for
change than the performance of Obama, the dream candidate of the
progressives, and his Congress on the issue of health care.  And when push
comes to shove the Kuciniches, there to make the Party look like it has a
sliver of decency, always cave in.  After all what could be more important
than the careers of these narcissists?  To adapt a slogan from the 70s,
Insurers and Congressmen live high while sick Americans die.

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar [at]  The exchange
between Nader and Kucinich can be found at:

Interestingly in this exchange, for Nader it is all about health care.
For Kucinich it is all about Kucinich. [Indeed. Exactly. I heard him
whining away on Democracy Now. Narcissistic twerp. -ed]


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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