Progressive Calendar 03.27.10
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 2010 06:08:46 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   03.27.10

1. Peace walk       3.27 9am Cambridge MN
2. Honduras         3.27 10am
3. Know Arab kids   3.27 10am
4. CUAPB            3.27 1:30pm
5. Northtown vigil  3.27 2pm
6. Your river story 3.27 2pm
7. Marty/justice    3.27 6pm
8. Anne Frank/play  3.27 7:30pm

9. Billy Wharton   - Clunker Obamacare: pro private insurers, vs democracy
10. Stephen Lendman - Obamacare's passage: a full-scale retreat
11. Robert Jensen   - New storytelling, new story, journalism, collapse

--------1 of 11--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Peace walk 3.27 9am Cambridge MN

every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM
Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street


--------2 of 11--------

From: Jason Stone <jason.stone [at] yahoo.com>
Subject: Honduras 3.27 10am

Coffee Hour: Honduras- Human rights delegation report & current political
situation 3/27

Saturday, March 27th
10:00am-Noon
At the Resource Center of the Americas

Presented partly in English and Spanish at times, with brief summaries
made in the other language as necessary

A solidarity and Human rights delegation led by La Voz de Los de Abajo
in Chicago visited Honduras in January during the installation of
illegitimately elected President Pepe Lobo and the departure of
deposed president Manuel Zelaya. The delegation attended a massive
protest march and met with human rights, union, religious, LGBTI and
campesino groups, all part of the National Resistance Front against
the coup.

Speakers:
Joe Callahan, Metro Transit bus driver, union member, recently
participated in human rights delegation to Honduras
Carla Riehle, lawyer, recently participated in human rights delegation
to Honduras
Marcial Castro, Honduran immigrant, worker
Sonia Aviles, Salvadoran, member of FMLN Minnesota, spent time in
Honduras refugee camp, worker


--------3 of 11--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Know Arab kids 3.27 10am

"Getting to Know the Children of the Middle East and the Arab World"
Saturday, March 27, 9:30 a.m. (Refreshments); 10:00 a.m. (Presentation and
Discussion) Southdale, Hennepin County Library, 7001 York Avenue South,
Edina.

A curriculum for American elementary and middle school students. An Arab
proverb says "Early education is like carving in stone." Many educators
agree that helping children and young people learn about and make
connections with the children of the Middle East and Arab world is the
only way to guard these leaders of tomorrow against the stereotyping of
Arabs as "terrorists" or "the enemy" that permeates so much of our media
and conversation today. Mary Davies has lived, worked and traveled in the
Middle East since 1987 for the Middle East Council of Churches, The
Travelers Society, the United Methodist Church and as a justice and peace
educator. Sponsored by: Middle East Peace Now (MEPN). WAMM is a member of
MEPN. FFI: Call Florence Steichen, 651-696-1642 or email mepn [at] mepn.org.


--------4 of 11--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com>
Subject: CUAPB 3.27 1:30pm

Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue
South http://www.CUAPB.org

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)


--------5 of 11--------

From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 3.27 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday
2-3pm


--------6 of 11--------

>From  Alayne Hopkins <alayne [at] thefriends.org>
Subject: Your river story 3.17 2pm

The Mighty Mississippi -Lectures, Discussions & More

Saturdays & Sundays, March 7 - April 3
Central Library, 90 West Fourth Street, Saint Paul
James J. Hill Reference Library, 80West Fourth Street, Saint Paul
This event is free and open to the public.
For more information, call 651-222-3242 or
friends [at] thefriends.org

Share your own river story on Saturday, March 27, 2 p.m., with Pat
Nunnally, coordinator of the Institute on the Environment's River Life
center at the University of Minnesota.  Nunnally leads an open discussion
about "Our 21st Century River Story" in the meeting room at Central
Library.


--------7 of 11--------

From: John Marty <info [at] johnmarty.org>
Subject: Marty/justice 3.27 6pm

Social Justice matters. I grew up in a home where my parents, Elsa and
Martin Marty, were active in the civil rights and anti-poverty movements.
My father, an author and theologian, marched with Martin Luther King at
Selma, and even as children we were engaged in working for social justice.
My parents taught us the importance of valuing the worth and dignity of
every person. They taught us that if you see an injustice, it is your
responsibility to do something about it.

My political work has been rooted in those values. Like many, I developed
my interest in social justice through the faith tradition I was raised in.
This is not about mixing church and state - the right to practice or not
practice religion is one of the most important guarantees in our
constitution - but it is recognizing that for many of us, our faith
demands we act in the world for social justice.

Not everyone shares this belief. Recently, Fox News host Glenn Beck
declared that the term "social justice" was a code word for communism and
Nazism:

"If you don't get off that social justice, economic justice bandwagon, you
are in grave danger - all our faiths. My faith. Your faith.... this is
infecting all of them."

I want to invite you to join in on a conversation between me and my
father, Dr. Martin E. Marty, on social justice and the intersection of
faith and politics.

Faith, Politics and Social Justice:
A conversation with
Dr. Martin E. Marty & Senator John Marty
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Doors open at 6 pm; event begins at 6:30 pm
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
2730 East 31st Street
Minneapolis, MN 55406
The event is free and open to the public.  I hope you can join us.

P.S. While this event is not a fundraiser, there will be a fundraising
reception afterwards for those interested in supporting my campaign for
governor.


--------8 of 11--------

From: UMN Human Rights Center <humanrts [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Anne Frank/play 3.27 7:30pm

March 27, 2010 - "Diary of Anne Frank" PLAY
7:30 pm.
Cost: Tickets at (651) 767-8480.
Park Square Theatre: 408 St. Peter St., St. Paul MN
Post-play discussion led by Dr. Elizabeth Baer.


--------9 of 11--------

Clunker Healthcare Bill Protects Private Insurers Damages Democracy
by Billy Wharton
March 25th, 2010
Dissident Voice                           [ObamaDontCare]

Americans desperately need healthcare.  The need is so desperate that many
are buying into a "something is better than nothing" philosophy to support
a healthcare bill that actively works against their own interests.  The
bill that Barack Obama plans to sign into law is being dubbed a "reform,"
but actually amounts to a corporate restructuring that will solidify the
reliance on the same private insurance companies that have caused the
crisis in the nation's healthcare system. As single-payer activist, Dr.
Margaret Flowers stated, "The Democratic Party has now moved so far to the
right that they have just passed a Republican health bill".  This is no
surprise.  Private insurers and pharmaceutical companies have flooded the
electoral system with money in order to guarantee their continued ability
to accumulate profits.

        Junk Healthcare Plans and the Race to the Bottom

At nearly 2,500 pages, the bill contains a myriad of loopholes that will
allow private insurers to continue nearly all of the immoral practices
that have, according to a Harvard University study, resulted in more than
40,000 deaths per year due to treatable conditions.  In fact, private
insurers will now receive taxpayer funds to subsidize the sale of junk
healthcare plans that the group Physicians for a National Health Program
estimates will only cover 70% of people's medical needs.  This will likely
spark a race-to-the-bottom as employers look to provide the minimum amount
of coverage possible, insurers grab ever-increasing chunks of public money
and people continue to face the prospect of soaring out-of-pocket costs,
deep medical debts and death from treatable illnesses.

However, Americans have adjusted to profit driven healthcare by avoiding
it.  A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 6 out of 10
Americans had deferred or delayed what they understood as necessary
medical treatment.  To close this option, the Healthcare Bill lends the
coercive power of government to private health insurers.  For the first
time in American history, citizens will be forced to purchase health
insurance or face stiff annual fines.  Such a mandate guarantees that
millions of people will be herded into the new "health insurance
exchanges," an idea created by the Heritage Foundation, in order to fork
over their money to private insurers.  Estimates are that this will
produce more than 20 million new customers for abusive insurers such as
Humana, Oxford and Aetna.

               When Corporations Own Democracy

The bill is a remarkably clear demonstration of the power of corporate
money and influence in politics.  Health insurers spent an average of
$600,000 a day for lobbying during the first six months of 2009.
Lobbyists had a seat at the table during all parts of the writing, debate
and approval of the bill.  When single-payer advocates from the Physicians
for a National Health Program and Healthcare-NOW attempted to participate
in proceedings at the Senate Finance Committee, they were first denied a
seat at the table and then arrested.  All along, the insurance lobby
followed the basic strategy they have employed since the 1990s - either
prevent any reform or stick people with a bad reform.  Welcome to the bad
reform.

The fix was in from the beginning.  This was clear as Democrats stumbled
through "town hall meetings" during the summer of 2009.  Most could not
explain the details of the plan and relied on vague appeals to the obvious
fact that people needed access care.  Most had already taken hefty
campaign contributions from the insurance and pharmaceutical lobby.
Meanwhile, the bill grew in size and in pro-corporate credentials.
Republicans added more than 100 amendments, Democrats negotiated away any
even vaguely progressive language and the insurance industry opened
profit-rich loopholes.  Along the way, Obama made anti-abortion pledges
and immigrants were thrown out of the legislation.  Gone was Obama's
campaign pledge to create "universal healthcare".  It was replaced by the
neoliberal slogan of "choice and competition". [Up Obama's butt. -ed]

                      Democrats: For Sale or Lease

A few Democrats put up symbolic resistance.  House Representative Anthony
Weiner cashed-in politically by running a slick public relations campaign
nominally in support of single-payer before fading back into line with
Obama.  Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent, tried the insider route,
attempting to carve out provisions that would allow state-by-state
single-payer systems and that would create a public option.  This failed
and Sanders withdrew, choosing to go-along-to-get-along.  Dennis Kucinich
was held up as a "last honest man" figure.  Kucinich has serious
single-payer credentials and seemed fearless in his criticism of both the
content and process of the bill.  He correctly surmised that the House
Bill "would put the government in the role of accelerating the
privatization of health care" and voted No during the first round in the
House.  Yet, as the clunky pro-corporate bill lumbered toward a final
vote, Democratic Party leadership broke Kucinich, squeezing a Yes vote out
of him presumably upon threat of running a well-financed candidate against
him in future elections.  In a scene more reminiscent of an Orwellian
dystopia, a defeated Kucinich held a press conference to describe why he
was going to vote Yes for a bill that he opposes. [He saved his seat but
is now never again go be trusted for anything - worthless. -ed]

Along the way, the Democrats received a wonderful political gift - the Tea
Partiers.  Both the conservative and liberal media focused in on tea-party
demonstrations in order to craft them as the face of the opposition to the
bill.  A motley reactionary crew of racists, gun-lovers, and right-wing
libertarian yahoos provided pro-corporate Democrats with the chance to
appear as the rational defenders of the people.  Single-payer advocates
were unable to break this embargo despite a variety of tactics ranging
from civil disobedience to letter writing.  Ultimately, the Obama
administration was able to present the struggle as one between healthcare
"reformers" and far-right wackos looking to wreck his presidency.  All
this was done in the service of protecting the insurance companies from
the serious critique offered by single-payer.

                A Medical Cash-for-Clunkers

The healthcare bill fits smoothly into the Obama administration's now
clearly established economic strategy.  Unlike the Bush administration,
who attempted to use jumbled down-home rhetoric to cover class war from
above, Obama has created a grotesque form of lemon socialism disguised by
the language of reform.  Under lemon socialism, financial losses are laid
off on the public while private corporations retain the profits.  Consider
this bill as the healthcare version of cash-for-clunkers.  Public money
that could be used for the social good will be sent to bankroll abusive,
inefficient and anti-human private corporations.  Same with the bank
bailout, and the war economy and the education policy.  The administration
speaks the language of reform, but enacts the policies of neoliberal
privatization, no matter what the cost to the public in terms of funds or
lives.

There are simple lessons to be learned from all of this - the market and
corporations have no role to play in either healthcare or politics.
Insurance companies merely disrupt the relationship between doctors and
patients.  They add nothing to the healthcare system and suck off profits
by limiting or denying access to care.  These profits are then re-deployed
in the political system to buy both Democratic and Republican politicians
through a corrupting system of lobbying and campaign contributions.  Now
that the Supreme Court has provided corporations with an unlimited ability
to donate money to candidates, these trends are sure to increase.

                    Democracy or the Rich?

Now is the time to put an end to this process.  On healthcare, we need to
re-build the single-payer movement, rooting it in poor and working class
communities, winning over our trade unions and growing into a mass
movement whose demands can neither be denied nor ignored as utopian.
Single-payer can open the door for a fully socialized medical system in
which healthcare is finally recognized as a guaranteed human right.

Such a movement will be one part of a broader upsurge for democracy from
below that seeks to address the fact that 5% of the population in America
controls 85% of the wealth.  As the reformer Justice Louis Brandeis once
wrote, "We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth
in the hands of a few, but we can't have both".  We can accomplish this at
the ballot box by voting for green and red candidates who support
single-payer and in the streets by creating an uncompromising social
movement that puts human needs first and aims to relegate the insurance
companies, the banks and the multinationals to the position they so
rightly deserve - the dustbin of history.

Billy Wharton is the editor of The Socialist magazine and the Socialist
WebZine. He can be reached at: billyspnyc [at] yahoo.com. Read other articles
by Billy, or visit Billy's website.


--------10 of 11--------

Obamacare's Passage: A Full-Scale Retreat
by Stephen Lendman
March 26th, 2010
Dissident Voice

After eight years under George Bush, people demanded change. Obama and
congressional Democrats promised it, then disappointed by accomplishing
the impossible - governing worse than skeptics feared, worse than
Republicans across the board on both domestic and foreign policies.

They looted the nation's wealth, wrecked the economy, consigned millions
to impoverishment without jobs, homes, savings, social services, or
futures while expanding global militarism through imperial wars,
occupations, and stepped up aggression on new fronts with the largest ever
"war" budget in history - way over $1 trillion dollars annually plus
supplementals and secret add-ons, greater than the rest of the world
combined when America has no enemies.

Now the latest. March 21 will be remembered as a day of infamy, the day
House Democrat leaders bullied, bribed, cajoled, muscled, and jerry-rigged
Obamacare to pass, despite most Americans opposing it with good reason.

HR 4872: Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of
2010 passed on March 21: 219-212. Along with the October 8, 2009-passed HR
3590: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the Senate-passed bill,
December 24, 2009), Obama's signature made "health reform" law.
House-Senate HR 4872 reconciliation follows that may or may not resolve
all fixes. No matter. Legislation, signed March 23, is the law of the land
unless the Supreme Court declares it unconstitutional - a process called
"judicial review".

Briefly, it works like this. The High Court doesn't review federal
legislation unless challenged in district court and reaches the appellate
level. However, if a clear constitutional violation exists, it may bypass
the appellate process and accept a case directly. If it rules the law
unconstitutional, it's nullified, and all actions under it may be
reversed, but it doesn't happen often, easily, or quickly, especially
against federal laws.

Also, the High Court may defer a challenge hearing until major provisions
take effect - in this case 2014 under a new Congress, and perhaps new
president, Court, and political climate.

In the end, it could come down to federal power v. states rights or
corporate v. peoples' rights under the Constitution's "general welfare"
clause - Article I, Section 8 stating:

"The Congress shall have power to.. provide for (the) general welfare of
the United States". that arguably should mean (but never did) "We the
People," the Preamble's opening words.

Reality, however, reveals an unfair match-up. Money nearly always trumps
people, so why should this time be different, especially given the
hundreds of billions of future profits at stake. Little wonder Indian
author Arundhati Roy (and others) call democracy "the biggest scam in the
world" - for sure the way her country and America practice it.

Also remember - the Supreme Court's ("headnotes" included) Santa Clara
County v. Southern Pacific Railroad decision granted corporations
personhood, giving them the same rights as people but not the obligations.
Those unrestricted powers let them subvert the "general welfare" to where
one day its last vestige will be gone.

Former high-level Washington/Wall Street insider Catherine Austin Fitts
calls the process "Slow Burn," like boiling a frog that doesn't know it's
dinner until done. We're dinner.

                  Pro and Con Media Responses

Since its 19th century inception, the Nation magazine turned reality on
its head. It was once unapologetic about slavery, then later didn't
support minority, labor, or women's rights. It championed 19th century
laissez fare, attacked the Grangers, Populists, trade unions and
socialists. In 1999, it called the US/NATO Serbia-Kosovo aggression
"humanitarian intervention".

After 9/11, it backed the official explanation despite convincing evidence
debunking it. Initially, it supported the Afghan and Iraq wars, claimed
"no evidence" America's 2004 presidential election was stolen, and in
January 2006, ran an offensive full-page anti-Muslim ad titled "Arabian
Fables," claiming Palestinians are prone to violence and deceptions. Two
months later, it said Haiti's Jean-Bertrand Aristide was "feared and
despised," then blamed Haitians for their own misery.

Its biased editorials and articles support Democrats, suppress disturbing
truths about them, and call business as usual "progressive".
Unsurprisingly, they backed Obamacare from inception, editor Katrina
Vanden Heuvel now calling America "a stronger nation for it".

The Nation's John Nichols hailed "A Historic Vote for Health-Care Reform,"
said Speaker Pelosi "earned a place among the chamber's greatest leaders,"
quoted Majority Whip James Clyburn claiming "the Civil Rights (triumph) of
the 21st century," Majority Leader Steny Hoyer saying the new law "will
stand the test of time," and compared Obama's struggle to Franklin
Roosevelt's for Social Security - an offensive rationalization comparing
genuine universal reform to colossal fraud care rationing for the vast
majority of Americans losing out under a hugely destructive measure.

In contrast, Wall Street Journal writer Kimberly Strassel's "Inside the
Pelosi Sausage Factory" article was accurate, showing the Journal at times
is right.

"You could see it coming a week ago," she said. Then it happened on live
TV when:

"Never before has the average American been treated to such a live-action
view of the sordid politics necessary to push a deeply flawed bill to
completion. It was dirty deals, open threats, broken promises and
disregard for democracy that pulled ObamaCare to this point, and (Sunday)
the same machinations pushed it across the finish line..The final days (to
passage) were a simple death watch, to see how the votes would be bought,
bribed or bullied, and how many congressional rules gamed, to get the
win".

A handout here, a threat there, a warning that voting no means "unions and
other Democrats would run them out of Congress". By the weekend, all the
pressure and threats and bribes had left the speaker three to five votes
short.. The solution?. A "meaningless" presidential Executive Order
affirming no federal funding for abortion, though signing it doesn't
change Senate language allowing it through a separate premium besides
Medicaid already covering it.

No matter, it got the House bill passed the old-fashioned way - by forcing
a majority to ram it through, or as Strassel said: making the "process of
passing as politically toxic as the bill itself".

A March 21 New York Times editorial titled, "Health Care Reform, at Last"
called the process:

wrenching, and tainted to the 11th hour by narrow political
obstructionism, but the year-long struggle over health care reform
(finally ended) with a triumph for countless Americans who have been
victimized or neglected by their dysfunctional health care system.

>From inception, the Times backed the bill, calling it needed progressive
reform - no matter its full-scale retreat to ration care, enrich corporate
providers, and deliver what Ralph Nader calls a "pay-or-die system that is
the disgrace of the Western world".

At a spring 2009 fundraiser, Obama quoted entertainer Al Jolson's famous
line: "You ain't seen nothing yet," and he was right, but who, among his
faithful, could have imagined that promise's destructiveness or fully
comprehend it now.

Cynically, however, the Times argued that:

Over time (health care) reforms could bring about sweeping changes the way
medical care is delivered and paid for. They could ultimately rival Social
Security and Medicare in historic importance.

In a March 20 article titled, "The Death of American Populism," this
writer argued otherwise, saying what the 1913 Federal Reserve Act did for
bankers, Obamacare may do for insurance and drug cartel predators
controlling one-sixth of the economy. They'll more than ever game by
system by:

 making it more dysfunctional;
 selling "junk insurance policies" leaving millions underinsured;
 keeping premiums unaffordable for full coverage;
 adding high deductibles and co-pays for less coverage;
 denying care by delaying, contesting, or preventing people from accessing
it;
 letting pharmaceutical companies provide toxic drugs at unaffordable
prices, and avoid generic competition on new products by lengthy patent
protection periods;
 assuring providers more customers and higher profits by requiring
individuals and families buy insurance or be penalized;
 and by 2018, imposing an excise tax on so-called "Cadillac" plans to cut
corporate costs, make workers pay more, and force many to settle for less
and be underinsured.

The Times endorsed Obamacare as a triumph for "hard-working Americans,"
never mind the popping champagne corks in corporate board rooms
celebrating their gain at the expense of most people losing out to an
extent they'll only discover in the fullness of time when it's too late to
matter.

The Times has a long, sordid record of supporting the powerful, backing
corporate interests, endorsing imperial wars, ignoring criminal fraud,
championing sham election results, and being comfortable with unmet human
needs, increasing poverty, hunger, homelessness, and deep despair for
growing millions in a country run by corrupt politicians who don't give a
damn as long as they're reelected, and corporate fraudsters who prey on
the most vulnerable, and profit most by charging more, delivering less,
and producing shoddy products.

 Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP): Advocates for Universal
                            Coverage

With 17,000 members nationwide, PNHP is an independent, non-partisan,
voluntary "physician organization in the United States dedicated
exclusively to implementing a single-payer national health program".

Its March 22 press release expressed dismay with the new law saying it
"take(s) no comfort in seeing aspirin dispensed for the treatment of
cancer".

Instead of fixing the "the profit-driven, private health insurance
industry. this costly new legislation will enrich and further entrench (it
by forcing) millions of Americans to buy" defective coverage leaving them
worse off than before at a cost of hundreds of billions of tax dollars
given predators to game the system for even more.

PNHP's listed problems include:

. besides millions underinsured, nine years out, 23 million Americans will
be uninsured, "translate(d) into an estimated 23,000 unnecessary deaths
annually and an incalculable toll of suffering;"

. millions will be forced to buy insurance "costing up to 9.5 percent of
their income but covering" only 70% of their expenses, leaving them one
serious health emergency away from bankruptcy and loss of their homes;

. for most, good policies will be unaffordable or "too expensive to use
because of the high co-pays and deductibles;"

. Insurers will get around $450 billion in public money "to subsidize
(buying) their shoddy products," and be more than ever emboldened to block
future reform;

. safety-net hospitals will lose billions in Medicare and Medicaid
payments, threatening tens of millions of under and uninsured;

. workers with employer-based coverage will face higher costs, fewer
benefits, and restrictions on selecting providers; most will be hamstrung
with future stiff costs because of unrestricted premium hikes, higher
deductibles and co-pays;

. costs will keep rising exponentially because Obamacare doesn't contain
them;

 . so-called new regulations (like ending pre-existing condition denials)
are riddled with loopholes, ambiguities, and legal interpretations to let
insurers manipulate them advantageously; and

 . "women's reproductive rights will be further eroded, thanks to the
burdensome segregation of insurance funds for abortion and all other
medical services".

As a result, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats scammed
the public with a package of expensive mandates, new taxes, sweetheart
deals, and "a perpetuation of the fragmented, dysfunctional, and
unsustainable system that is taking such a heavy toll on our health and
economy today".

Obamacare may or may not be good politics, but for most Americans it's
disastrous health policy in lieu of simple, effective, affordable
solutions - universal single-payer coverage. Everyone in. Nobody out
except predatory insurers gaming the system for big profits, declining
benefits, and unaffordability for growing millions.

Major bill components won't kick in until 2014, meaning 180,000 Americans
will die in the next four years and hundreds of thousands more won't have
expensive injuries and illnesses treated. PNHP calls these stakes
unacceptable in "pledg(ing) to continue (their) work for the only
equitable, financially responsible and humane remedy for our health care
mess:" universal coverage, "an expanded and improved Medicare for All".
What members of Congress get, you get. Nothing less provided we fight for
it until it's gotten. It'll come no other way.

 It's Over but not Entirely: State Government Challenges Over Mandated
                                 Coverage

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 36 or more
states may pass anti-mandate laws, 33 have introduced bills, and Idaho's
CL "Butch" Otter became the first Governor to sign one into law. The
Virginia House and Senate passed its own, expected to become law shortly.
In Arizona, a proposed constitutional amendment will seek voter approval
in November.

In addition, on March 23, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden's press release
said Idaho "has joined a multi-state lawsuit" against the Department of
Health and Human Services, Treasury Department, and Department of Labor,
"challenging the constitutionality of" new health care legislation,
stating:

Our complaint alleges the new law infringes upon the constitutional rights
of Idahoans and residents of the other states by mandating all citizens
and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage or pay a tax
penalty. The law exceeds the powers of the United States under Article I
of the Constitution and violates the Tenth Amendment ... Additionally, the
tax penalty required under the law constitutes an unlawful direct tax in
violation of Article 1, sections 2 and 9 of the Constitution.

The press release also says Obamacare infringes on state sovereignty by
imposing onerous unfunded mandates at a time most states face severe
budget shortfalls, can't handle their current obligations, so they're
cutting them.

Joining the lawsuits are the Attorney Generals of South Carolina,
Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Colorado, Michigan,
Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, and South Dakota. Virginia Attorney
General, Kenneth Cuccinelli, plans a separate suit in Richmond federal
court, stating:

The Constitution's Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3)
doesn't apply because:

If a person decides not to buy health insurance, that person by definition
is not engaging in commerce. If you are not engaging in commerce, how can
the federal government regulate you?

Indiana's Senator Richard Lugar asked his Attorney General to file suit,
and other states have pledged to do so. Opponents raise serious concerns
over the fundamental "do no harm" patient safety rule. For American Health
Care Reform.org:

Single-payer national health insurance will save our economy, prevent
medical bankruptcy and above all, save lives. Medicare for All is the
Right Prescription for America. We need National Health Insurance.
Anything else is just voodoo.

Anything less dumps millions of Americans in the trash heap of
unaffordable care, poor care, or no care, one serious health emergency
away from bankruptcy, home loss, or life threatening catastrophe. That's
the reality Obamacare delivered.

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.


--------11 of 11--------

New Storytelling and a New Story
The Collpase of Journalism / the Journalism of Collapse
By ROBERT JENSEN
CounterPunch
March 26 - 28, 2010

There is considerable attention paid in the United States to the collapse
of journalism - both in terms of the demise of the business model for
corporate commercial news media, and the evermore superficial, shallow,
and senseless content that is inadequate for citizens concerned with
self-governance. This collapse is part of larger crises in the political
and economic spheres, crises rooted in the incompatibility of democracy
and capitalism. New journalistic vehicles for storytelling are desperately
needed.

There has been far less discussion of the need for a journalism of
collapse - the challenge to tell the story of a world facing multiple
crises in the realms of social justice and sustainability. This collapse
of the basic political and economic systems of the modern world, with
dramatic consequences on the human and ecological fronts, demands not only
new storytelling vehicles but a new story.

In this essay I want to review the failure of existing systems and suggest
ideas for how to think about something radically different, through the
lens of journalists' work. The phrase "how to think about" should not be
interpreted to mean "provide a well-developed plan for"; I don't have
magical answers to these difficult questions, and neither does anyone
else. The first task is to face the fact that every problem we encounter
does not necessarily have a solution that we can identify, or even
imagine, in the moment; that identifying how existing systems have failed
does not guarantee we have the capacity to devise new systems that will
succeed.

This is a realistic attitude, not a defeatist one. The lack of a guarantee
of success does not mean the inevitability of failure, and it does not
absolve us of our responsibility to struggle to understand what is
happening and to act as moral agents in a difficult world. In fact, I
think such realism is required for serious attempts at fashioning a
response to the crises. The eventual solutions, if there are to be
solutions, may come in frameworks so different from our current
understanding that we can't yet see even their outlines, let alone the
details. This is a time when we should be focused on "questions that go
beyond the available answers," to borrow a phrase from sustainable
agriculture researcher Wes Jackson.

                           The old story

Before taking up that challenge, I want to identify the story that
dominates our era, what we might call the story of perpetual progress and
endless expansion. This is the larger cultural narrative in which specific
stories that appear in journalistic outlets are set. Charting the whole
history of this story is beyond the scope of this essay, so I will confine
myself to the post-WWII era in which I have lived, when this
progress/expansion story has dominated not only in the United States and
other developed countries but most of the world.

This story goes like this: In the modern world, human beings have
dramatically expanded our understanding of how the natural world works,
allowing us not only to control and exploit the resources of the non-human
world but also to find ways to distribute those resources in a more just
and democratic fashion. The progress/expansion story assumes we have
knowledge - or the capacity to acquire knowledge - that is adequate to
run the world competently, and that the application of that knowledge will
produce a constantly expanding bounty that, in theory, can provide for
all.

The two great systems of the post-WWII era that were in direct conflict -
the capitalist West led by the United States and the communist East led by
the Soviet Union - shared an allegiance to this story, that humans had
the ability to understand and control, to shape the future, to become
God-like in some sense. Even in places that carved out some independence
in the Cold War, such as India, the same philosophy dominated, evidenced
most clearly in big dam projects and the Green Revolution's model of
water-intensive, chemical farming.

The failure of the communist challenge was said to be "the end of
history," a point where the only work remaining was the application of our
technical knowledge to lingering problems within a system of global
capitalism and liberal democracy. Even with the widening of inequality and
the clear threats to the ecosystem from human intervention, the
progress/expansion story continues to dominate, bolstered by a widely held
technological fundamentalism (more on that later).

The bumper-sticker version of this philosophy: More and bigger is better,
forever and ever.

There's one slight problem: If we continue to believe this story, and to
base individual decisions and collective policies on it, we will
dramatically accelerate the drawdown of the ecological capital of the
planet, hastening the point at which the ecosystem will no longer be able
to sustain human life as we know it at this level. In the process, we can
expect not only more inequality, but in times of intense competition for
resources, a dramatic increase in social conflict.

This critique cannot be dismissed as hysteric apocalypticism; it is a
reasonable judgment, given all the evidence. The progress/expansion story
has left us with enduring levels of human inequality that violate our
moral principles and threaten to undermine any social stability, and an
endangered ecosystem that threatens our very survival. Whatever systems
and institutions we devise to replace those at the root of these problems,
the underlying progress/expansion narrative has to change.

                      The collapse of journalism

In the United States, it is clear that at least in the short term, there
will be fewer professional journalists working in fewer outlets with fewer
resources for reporting. The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence
in Journalism sums it up in its 2010 State of the News Media report: "[W]e
estimate that the newspaper industry has lost $1.6 billion in annual
reporting and editing capacity since 2000, or roughly 30 percent. That
leaves an estimated $4.4 billion remaining. Even if the economy improves
we predict more cuts in 2010". Newspapers are hurting the worst, but there
is no good news from any news media.

That loss of capacity comes from plunging ad revenues: In 2009, ad revenue
fell 26 percent for U.S. newspapers, including online, bringing the total
loss over the past three years to 43 percent. Local television ad revenue
fell 22 percent, triple the decline the year before. Other media also saw
a decline in ad revenue: radio, 22 percent; magazine, 17 percent; network
TV, 8 percent (for network news alone, probably more). Online ad revenue
overall fell 5 percent, and revenue to news sites most likely also fared
much worse. Cable news was the only commercial news sector keeping its
head above water, barely, according to the report.

Revenue is down, and so are audiences. The PEJ study reports audience
growth only in digital and cable news, with declines in local TV and
network news. Print newspaper circulation fell 10.6 percent in 2009, and
since 2000, daily circulation has fallen 25.6 percent.

This decline is also reflected in employment. According to a report by
UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc., there was a 22 percent increase in the
journalism jobs lost from September 2008 through August 2009, compared
with a general job loss rate of 8 percent. The news industry shed 35,885
jobs in a one-year period straddling 2008 and 2009.

Despite experiments with new ways to organize and support journalists -
including grant-funded news operations such as Pro Publica,
university/newsroom partnerships, citizen journalism collaborations with
professional newsrooms, and various web projects - it is clear that, at
least in the short term, there simply will be less journalism created by
professional journalists.

It also seems clear that of the journalism remaining, a growing percentage
is of less value to the project of enhancing democracy. I don't want to
pretend there was a golden age when professional journalism provided the
critical and independent inquiry that citizens need to function as
citizens. For reasons articulated by critics such as Edward Herman and
Noam Chomsky, contemporary professional journalism is hamstrung by
institutional and ideological constraints that have been built into
professional practices. As a result, corporate news owners rarely have to
discipline mainstream journalists, who are socialized to accept the
ideological prison in which they work and police other inmates.

But even with that rather large caveat, the slide of much of contemporary
journalism into banality is frightening. Of public affairs journalism, we
might paraphrase an old joke about hard-to-please restaurant patrons: "The
food is awful here," one says, and the friend replies, "Yes, and they've
reduced the portions".

The markers of this slide in quality are clear enough: An obsession with
entertainment and sports, especially large-scale spectacles; routine
exploitation of sexuality and violence in ways corrosive to human dignity;
an endless fascination with celebrity, with the standards of what
constitutes celebrity continually dropping; and a growing imposition of
those spectacle and celebrity values on public affairs. This is not a
screed against entertainment, pleasure, fun, or the people's desire to
gain pleasure from fun entertainment. It is not an attempt to glorify the
rational and devalue the emotional. It is not a self-indulgent lament that
the kind of journalism I prefer is losing out. It's an accurate
description of our increasing numbed-out and intellectually vapid culture.

How much of this collapse of journalism is driven by the explosion of news
outlets in a 24-hour news cycle, as an ever-larger media beast demands to
be fed? How much is a product of bottom-line-focused news managers'
longstanding obsession with producing the extraordinary profits demanded
by top-floor-dwelling executives? How much is panic caused by these
dramatic drops in audience and revenue by so-called legacy media, leading
to desperation in programming?

Whatever the relative weight of these causes, the effect is clear: In the
mainstream outlets through which most people in the United States get
their news, there is less journalism relevant to citizens' role in a
democracy and more journalism-like material that dulls our collective
capacity for independent critical thinking. If journalists had only to
struggle to return to some previous state in which they did a better job,
that would be hard enough. But journalists can't be satisfied with
striving toward standards from the past. A new journalism is needed.

                     The journalism of collapse

The immediate crises that journalism and journalists face - some rooted
in the pathology of professionalism and its illusory claims to neutrality,
and some rooted in the predatory nature of capitalism and its illusory
commitment to democracy - are serious, but in some sense trivial compared
to the long-term crises in a profoundly unjust and fundamentally
unsustainable world. We have to deal with the collapse of journalism, but
we also must begin to fashion a journalism of collapse.

To reiterate my basic premise: Whatever the specific story being told in
modern journalism, those stories typically are set in that larger
narrative of perpetual progress and endless expansion. What kind of story
is needed for a world that desperately needs to rethink its idea of
progress in a world that is no longer expanding?

Here's the story: On March 17, 2051, the world will pump its last easily
accessible barrel of usable oil. By that time, cancer directly
attributable to human-created toxicity will kill 125 million people per
year, while major disruptions in the hydrological cycle will so
dramatically reduce the amount of fresh water that 18.9 percent of the
human population will die each year as a direct result. On June 14, 2047,
exactly half of the area of the world's oceans will be dead zones,
incapable of supporting significant marine life. Three and a half years
later, topsoil losses will have reached the point where even with
petrochemical based fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, yields will
drop by 50 percent on the most fertile soil and fall to zero on soil that
has effectively gone sterile due to contamination and compaction. But
there won't be any petrochemicals anyway, because there won't be any oil.
And there won't be enough water. And so there won't be enough food. And
getting reliable broadband internet service will be difficult.

OK, that was all meant to be funny. That, of course, is not the story. The
story we need to tell won't be focused on predictions about specific
aspects of collapse. I have no doubt that if the human community continues
on its present trajectory, such statistics will be all too real. I have no
doubt that if the human community does not change that trajectory in
substantial ways fairly soon, the future will be grim. But rather than
scurrying to make specific predictions, journalism should struggle to help
people understand the processes that make that preceding paragraph
plausible, and hence not funny at all. There's little humor in the
recognition that continued commitment to an ideology of perpetual progress
and endless expansion - operationally defined as ever greater human
consumption of the ecological capital of the planet - is a dead end. More
and bigger not only is not better, it is not possible.

The response I often get to this view is the assertion that we need not
worry about the physical limits of the planet because human ingenuity will
invent increasingly clever ways of exploiting those resources. This
technological fundamentalism - the belief that the use of evermore
sophisticated high-energy, advanced technology is always a good thing and
that any problems caused by the unintended consequences of such technology
eventually can be remedied by more technology - is more prevalent, and
more dangerous, than religious fundamentalism. History teaches that we
should be more cautious and pay attention to the unintended effects of
such technology with an eye on the long term.

The fundamentalists believe the future is always bright, apparently
because they wish it to be so. But the desire to live in an endless
expanding world of bounty - a desire found both in those who currently
have access to that bounty and those who don't but crave it - is not a
guarantee of it. We certainly know this at the individual level, that "you
can't always get what you want," as the song goes, and what holds for us
as individuals is also true for us as a species.

Those of us who question such declarations are often said to be
"anti-technology," which is a meaningless insult designed to derail
serious discussion. All human beings use technology of some kind, whether
stone tools or computers. An anti-fundamentalist position is not that all
technology is bad, but that the introduction of new technology should be
evaluated carefully on the basis of its effects - predictable and
unpredictable - on human communities and the non-human world, with an
understanding of the limits of our knowledge to control the larger world.

So the first step in crafting a new narrative for journalists is to reject
technological fundamentalism and deal with a harsh reality: In the future
we will have to make due with far less energy, which means less
high-technology and a need for more creative ways of coping. Journalists
have to tell stories about what that kind of creativity looks like. They
have to reject the gee-whizzery of much of the contemporary science and
technology reporting and emphasize the activities of those with a deeper
ecological worldview.

There also is a corresponding need to tell stories about redefining our
concept of the good life. Again, the basics are in pop songs: "all you
need is love," and "money can't buy you love". We all agree, yet that
narrative of progress/expansion is rooted in the belief that acquisition
and consumption are consistent with a good life, or perhaps even required
for it.

Central to that redefinition is accepting that collectively we have to
learn to live with less. In a world with grotesque inequalities in the
distribution of wealth, some of our sisters and brothers are already
living with less - less than what is required for a decent life, which
reflects the unjust nature of our social systems. For those of us in the
more affluent sectors, the question is not only whether we will work for a
more just distribution within the human family, but how we respond when
the world imposes stricter limits on us all.

Living with less is crucial not only to ecological survival but to
long-term human fulfillment. People in the United States live with an
abundance of most everything - except meaning. The people who defend the
existing system most aggressively are typically either in the deepest
denial, refusing to acknowledge their culture's spiritual emptiness, or
else have been the privileged beneficiaries of the system. This is not to
suggest that poverty produces virtue, but to recognize that affluence
tends to erode it.

A world that steps back from high-energy, high-technology answers to all
questions will no doubt be a harder world in some ways. But the way people
cope without such technological "solutions" can help create and solidify
human bonds. Indeed, the high-energy/high-technology world often
contributes to impoverished relationships as well as the destruction of
longstanding cultural practices and the information those practices
transmit. Stepping back from this fundamentalism is not simply a sacrifice
but an exchange of a certain kind of comfort and easy amusement for a
different set of rewards. We need not romanticize community life or ignore
the inequalities that structure our communities to recognize that human
flourishing takes place in community and progressive social change doesn't
happen when people are isolated.

Telling this story is important in a world in which people have come to
believe the good life is synonymous with consumption and the ability to
acquire increasingly sophisticated technology. The specific stories told
in the journalism of collapse will reject technological fundamentalism and
aid people in the struggle to redefine the good life. Journalists need not
merely speculate about these things; across the United States people are
actively engaged in such projects. Though not yet a majority, these people
are planning transition towns, developing permaculture systems, creating
community gardens, reclaiming domestic arts that have atrophied,
organizing worker-owned cooperative businesses. They are experimenting
with alternatives to the dominant culture, and in doing so they are,
implicitly or explicitly, rejecting technological fundamentalism and
redefining the good life.

This journalism of collapse I am proposing would include stories about the
problems we face, the harsh reality of a contracting world of less energy.
But it also would include stories about people's experiments with new
definitions of progress and the good life. Such an approach to journalism
would not only highlight the threats but also shine a light on the way
people are coping with the threats.

                Journalism in the prophetic voice

I would call this kind of storytelling "journalism in the prophetic
voice," borrowing a theological term for secular purposes. I prefer to
speak about the prophetic voice rather than prophets because everyone is
capable of speaking in the voice; the prophetic is not the exclusive
property of particular people labeled as prophets. I also avoid the term
prophecy, which is often used to describe a claim to be able to see the
future. The complexity of these crises makes any claim to predict the
details of what lies ahead absurd. All we can say is that, absent a
radical change in our relationship to each other and the non-human world,
we're in for a rough ride in the coming decades. Though the consequences
of that ride are likely to be more overwhelming than anything humans have
faced, certainly people at other crucial historical moments have faced
crises without clear paths or knowledge of the outcome. A
twenty-five-year-old Karl Marx wrote about this in a letter to a friend in
1843:

The internal difficulties seem to be almost greater than the external
obstacles. . Not only has a state of general anarchy set in among the
reformers, but everyone will have to admit to himself that he has no exact
idea what the future ought to be. On the other hand, it is precisely the
advantage of the new trend that we do not dogmatically anticipate the
world, but only want to find the new world through criticism of the old
one.

We should understand the prophetic as the calling out of injustice, the
willingness not only to confront the abuses of the powerful but to
acknowledge our own complicity. To speak prophetically requires us first
to see honestly - both how our world is structured by illegitimate
authority that causes suffering beyond the telling, and how we who live in
the privileged parts of the world are implicated in that suffering. In
that same letter, Marx went on to discuss the need for this kind of
"ruthless criticism":

But, if constructing the future and settling everything for all times are
not our affair, it is all the more clear what we have to accomplish at
present: I am referring to ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless
both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in
the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that
be.

To speak prophetically is to refuse to shrink from what we discover about
the injustice of the world. It is to name the wars of empire as unjust; to
name an economic system that leaves half the world in abject poverty as
unjust; to name the dominance of men, of heterosexuals, of white people as
unjust. And it is to name the human destruction of Creation as our most
profound failure. At the same time, to speak prophetically is to refuse to
shrink from our own place in these systems. We must confront the powers
that be, and ourselves.

Another prominent historical figure put it this way in 1909: "One of the
objects of a newspaper is to understand the popular feeling and to give
expression to it; another is to arouse among the people certain desirable
sentiments; and the third is fearlessly to expose popular defects". That
was Mohandas Gandhi, on the first page of Hind Swaraj.

Those tasks - attempting to understand and give expression to what
ordinary people feel, and then advocating progressive goals, while at the
same time exposing problems in the culture - are not likely to make one's
life easy. Journalists willing to take this position will find themselves
in a tense place, between a ruling elite that is not interested in
seriously changing the distribution of power and a general public that
typically does not want to confront these difficult realities of collapse.
To speak from a prophetic position is to guarantee that one will find
little rest and small comfort. Such is the fate of a commitment to
truth-telling in difficult times, and times have never been more
difficult.

But others have faced similar challenges. Looking to the tradition in the
Hebrew Bible, the prophets condemned corrupt leaders and also called out
all those privileged people in society who had turned from the demands of
justice, which the faith makes central to human life. In his analysis of
these prophets, the scholar and activist Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
concluded:

Above all, the prophets remind us of the moral state of a people: Few are
guilty, but all are responsible. If we admit that the individual is in
some measure conditioned or affected by the spirit of society, an
individual's crime discloses society's corruption. In a community not
indifferent to suffering, uncompromisingly impatient with cruelty and
falsehood, continually concerned for God and every man, crime would be
infrequent rather than common.

That phrase, few are guilty but all are responsible, captures the
challenge of the journalism of collapse. We can easily identify those
powerful figures guilty of specific crimes. Who is guilty in perpetrating
the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq? That's easy - Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld,
Powell, Rice. Who is guilty in the bailout of Wall Street and the big
banks: That's easy, too - Bush and Obama, Paulsen and Geithner, Bernanke
and the boys. One task of journalists is to pursue the guilty, perhaps
with a bit more fervor than contemporary U.S. news media; our journalists
are too polite in handling war criminals and servants of the wealthy.

But when we look at the fragile state of the world, in some sense our
future depends on recognizing that we all are responsible, depending on
our status in society and resources available to us. Those of us in
affluent sectors of society have the most to answer for, and the task of
journalists is to raise questions uncomfortable for us all. This will
rarely make journalists popular, but that also is not new. In each of the
four Gospels, Jesus reminds us: "A prophet is not without honor, except in
his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house". (Mark 6:4)

Since journalism has never really been an honorable profession, perhaps
that makes us the perfect candidates for raising our voices prophetically.

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at
Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center
http://thirdcoastactivist.org. His latest book is Getting Off: Pornography
and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007). Jensen is also the
author of The Heart of Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege and
Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (both from City
Lights Books); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins
to the Mainstream (Peter Lang). He can be reached at
rjensen [at] uts.cc.utexas.edu and his articles can be found online at
http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/index.html.


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

   - 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










  • (no other messages in thread)

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.