Progressive Calendar 08.03.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2008 04:10:31 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    08.03.08

1. Atheists Talk     8.03 9am
2. Nonviolent brunch 8.03 11am
3. Stillwater vigil  8.03 1pm
4. RNC               8.03 6:30pm

5. Peace walk        8.04 6pm RiverFalls WI
6. Food/democracy    8.04 6pm
7. Peace Is jazz     8.04 6:30pm

8. Harvey Wasserman - Westmoreland, LBJ, Nixon the real 60s terrorists
9. Barbara L Minton - Crisis looms as corps seize control of commodities
10. Jonathan Tasini - Why are Democrats taking money from Wal-Mart?
11. Brian Cloughley - Bases upon bases: baleful imperial power
12. Kip Sullivan    - Union-backed plan vs real health care reform
13. Sandy Eaton     - In health care reform, MA shows how not to do it

--------1 of 13--------

From: August Berkshire <augustberkshire [at]>
Subject: Atheists Talk 8.03 9am

Minnesota Atheists' "Atheists Talk" radio show
Sunday, August 3, 2008, 9-10 a.m. Central Time
A conversation with Jeff Shell and Lee Michaels, co-hosts of the
Christian talk radio show "KKMS Live with Jeff & Lee," interviewed by
August Berkshire, president of Minnesota Atheists.

"Atheists Talk" airs live on AM 950 KTNF in the Minneapolis/St. Paul
area.  To stream live, go to
Podcasts of past shows are available at
or through iTunes.
Program Notes are available at

--------2 of 13---------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Nonviolent brunch 8.03 11am

Sunday, 8/3, 11 am to 1 pm, benefit brunch to benefit the Nonviolent
Peaceforce, St Frances Cabrini Church, 1500 Franklin Ave, Mpls.
Suggested $5 donation.

--------3 of 13--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 8.03 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------4 of 13--------

From: Joel Albers <joel [at]>
Subject: RNC 8.03 6:30pm

RNC Welcoming Committee mtg, SUNDAY, Aug. 3, 6:30 PM at Powderhorn Park
Rec Center, 35th street and 15th ave, Mpls.

--------5 of 13--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 8.04 6pm RiverFalls WI

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

--------6 of 13--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Food/democracy 8.04 6pm

Monday, August 4: Women's Environmental Institute. Organic Farm School:
Food and Democracy with Mark Ritchie, MN Secretary of State and former
President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. 6:00 - 8:00
PM at Open Book in Minneapolis. Register.

--------7 of 13--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Peace Is jazz 8.04 6:30pm

Monday, 8/4, 6:30 pm, jazz concert to support the Peace Island conference,
with keyboardist George Maurer, trombone Jim Ten Bensil, vocalists T
Mychael Rambo, Mary Jane Alm and Ann Michaels, St Joan of Arc Church 4537
- 3rd Ave S, Mpls.  Tickets $25. or

--------8 of 13--------

Westmoreland, Johnson and Nixon
Meet the Real Terrorists of the 1960s
August 2 / 3, 2008

Hate-mongering against alleged :leftist 1960s terrorists" now fills the
days of anti-Obama rage for the Rovian bloviator battalion.

Bill Ayers and the Weathermen, the Black Panthers, the American Indian
Movement, Baby Boom professors, social workers , etc, are front and center
for the hateful blatherings of the usual GOP flunkies all cowering at the
prospect of an African-American president.

But there were, indeed, three 1960s terrorists whose murderous,
planet-killing rampage continues to poison this nation. They tower above
all others. Their names: William Westmoreland, Lyndon B. Johnson, and
Richard Nixon.

This unholy trinity killed outright more than 55,000 Americans and several
million southeast Asians---most of them innocent civilians---while
bombing, strafing and spewing horrific toxic chemicals onto countless of
square miles of previously pristine jungle. Their Agent Orange caused tens
of thousands of deaths and deformities that still carry through the

No single terror act in the history of the United States even remotely
compares to the lethal psychosis that created and was then furthered by
the Vietnam War.

As Commander In Chief of US forces in Southeast Asia, Westmoreland dragged
the US into the Vietnam quagmire. He repeatedly assured Lyndon Johnson
that Vietnam's north-south civil war was "winnable".

In the 1980s I debated Westmoreland on two campuses (the University of
Florida and Juneata College) and heard him tell me directly that "we never
lost the war in Vietnam". According to the man who lit the fuse, the US
spent all those lives and dollars "successfully protecting" Thailand,
Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines from Communist
dictatorships. Never mind that Suharto (Indonesia), Lee Kwan Yew
(Singapore), and Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines) were among history's most
violent and authoritarian kleptocrats. In Westmoreland's world, all that
death, destruction and expenditure were worth it to keep these torturers
in office while they stacked billions of public dollars in their private
bank accounts.

Lyndon Johnson bought Westmoreland's lies. With Defense Secretary Robert
McNamara explaining the war in terms of "kill ratios," Johnson used a fake
non-attack by alleged North Vietnamese gunboats to get a blank check from
Congress and impose wholesale slaughter on both the US and Vietnam.

Johnson's March, 1965, decision to escalate the war is arguably the
turning point from which America's moral standing and quality of life took
their definitive downward plunge.

While he crumbled from the psychological and spiritual strain, LBJ sent
550,000 Americans to Vietnam to perpetrate a human and ecological
slaughter on a scale unique in the modern annals of gratuitous terror.

Richard Nixon followed with still more. After winning the presidency based
on a "Secret Plan" to end the war, he escalated air attacks on an innocent
nation that exceeded all the explosive tonnage dropped during World War 2.
Nixon illegally expanded the war into Cambodia, where three million
civilians eventually died in wholesale slaughter.

At home, Nixon's close friend, Governor James A. Rhodes, furnished the
Ohio National Guard with the live ammunition they used to kill four
unarmed students. Two more died soon thereafter in an official attack on a
college dormitory at Mississippi's Jackson State.

A clearly deranged psychotic, Nixon's resignation journey should have
taken him straight to prison, rather than to a presidential retreat
alongside the Pacific.

None of these horrific terrorists was ever prosecuted or imprisoned. But
their ungodly assault drove America's economy, currency, health care and
educational systems, moral and military standing, and much, much more,
into a deep decline from which we have yet to recover.

None of those bilious corporate bloviators ever mention these
highest-ranking terrorists in their rants against all things sixties.

But when it comes to an American axis of evil perpetrating useless,
gratuitous and totally unredeemed mass destruction of people and the
planet, this is the 1960s trio that overshadows all others.

Harvey Wasserman, a co-founder of Musicians United for Safe Energy, is
editing the web site. He is the author of SOLARTOPIA! Our
Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, is at He can be
reached at: Windhw [at]

--------9 of 13--------

Crisis Looms as Corporations Seize Control of Commodities
by Barbara L. Minton
Common Dreams
Published on Saturday, August 2, 2008 by

The global food crisis won.t go away any time soon. Capitalism has the
average consumer by the belly. Amid growing signs of famine and outrage,
the entire chain of commodities and resources of the world are now being
cornered by giant corporations. Farmland, water, fertilizer, seed, energy,
and most of the basic necessities of life are falling under corporate
control, providing increased wealth and power to the ruling elite while
the rest of humanity struggles.

Commodity scarcity in India was recently reflected in the need to
distribute fertilizer from the police station in Hingoli. Now police have
to control the lines that form outside of dealer outlets, because the
dealers won't open for business otherwise. Without this intervention there
would be no fertilizer for the planting that must take place before the
rain comes. In Akola and Nanded, police involvement is also needed.
Agriculture officers have fled their work places to escape angry farmers.
In Karnataka, a farmer was shot dead during protests, while farmers
stormed meetings and set up road blocks in other districts.

Despite the success of the genetically engineered Bt cotton crops, the
trend in India is now back to soybeans because they cost less to grow and
need less fertilizer than cotton.

And it's not just fertilizer that is scarce. Seeds are also in short
supply which is being blamed on agitation that has interfered with freight
train traffic. However, the shortfall in seeds is 60 percent, a level more
indicative of corporate intervention to drive up prices than the actions
of powerless farmers.

As farmers fume, the Wall Street Journal heralds the whopping 42 percent
jump in the fiscal third quarter profits of huge agriculture giant
Archer-Daniels Midland. This increase includes a sevenfold rise in new
income in units that store, transport and grade grains such as wheat, corn
and soybeans.

The soaring profits of fertilizer maker Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan
are reflected in the parabolic movement of its stock price from a yearly
low of $70.35 to its current price of $238.22 per share. Shares of
fertilizer and animal feed producer Mosaic Corp. have risen from a yearly
low of $32.50 to a current price of $159.38.

Similar windfall profits are reported by GMO seed and herbicide king
Monsanto whose last quarterly earnings surged by 45%.

Some onlookers blame the financial speculators for driving up the prices
of commodities related to agriculture as wealthy investors have piled on
looking to cash in on the rising stock prices. And in many ways, today's
commodity market resembles the boom seen at the turn of the
century, as well as the housing boom now in the throws of its bust.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission recently held a hearing to
investigate the role that index funds and hedge funds are playing in
driving up the prices of agricultural commodities. Total public fund
investment in corn, soybean, wheat, cattle and hogs has risen by 37
billion dollars since 2006. This figure does not include the huge
investments of hedge funds which don't have to make such disclosure. It
also doesn't include the massive world wide investments in farmland made
by the wealthy.

The corporate spin is that these investments are helpful to humanity
because they will ultimately result in increased food production at a time
of rising world demand. They cite the need for increased corporate profits
to invest in and develop new technologies that will help farmers improve
productivity. This is how GMO seeds are being driven down the throats of
farmers, who are told that the modified seeds can squeeze even more yield
from each acre of planting.

India has joined other developing countries in the decision to invest less
in agriculture as advised by the World Bank-IMF, whose agenda has been to
discourage crops for domestic consumption while encouraging production to
spur export driven growth. This advice coupled with corporate sponsored
deregulation has paved the way for corporate control of the farming
process from seed to market. Research and development that was once the
domain of universities has also fallen into corporate control.

Farmers in India are caught in a credit crunch. Even if they are able to
get the needed fertilizer, they will not have the credit to pay for it.
With no increase in farmer income, larger loans are not advanced. The
outlook for the small farmer there is much the same as it was in the U.S.
thirty years ago, during the height of the small farms falling to big

Corporations blame food shortages and rising prices on the people of China
and India whose burgeoning income from manufacturing has allowed the
average worker to increase both the amount and quality of his food
consumption. But for the corporations, the increased demand for food is a
guarantee of super profits to come.

Of course the other commodity you can't get along without is water, which
is now the focus of huge multinational companies seeking to privatize
water world wide, perhaps even patent it as Monsanto did with seeds. The
fight over water may bring chaos, conflict and misery on a scale never
seen before as corporations and governments go so far as to grab the wells
from under people's houses.

And then there's oil. To produce chemical fertilizer you must make use of
fossil fuel. So rising oil prices and rising food prices are joined at the
hip. The behavior of corporations in the oil business has been so
egregious that there is talk of a windfall profits tax here and abroad.

No, the food crisis will not go away anytime soon. North Korea, Burma and
Western Sudan are currently feeling a real threat of starvation while
western governments manipulated by corporations continue to promote the
diversion of food into biofuels to further exacerbate the upward movement
in food prices. Almost all U.S. corn production between 2004 and 2007 has
gone into the production of ethanol. European production of ethanol has
more than tripled during the same period. This has led to a fall off in
grains relative to overall demand which is not a market phenomenon but is
the direct result of the government sponsored, corporate backed programs.
This comes at the expense of people looking for something to eat,
particularly the world's poor who are now effectively priced out of the
food market.

Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of
personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments,
a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.

Natural News Network  2008

--------10 of 13--------

Why Are Democrats Taking Money From Wal-Mart? [MN: Oberstar & Peterson]
by Jonathan Tasini
Common Dreams
Published on Friday, August 1, 2008 by

Where does a politician, or a political party, draw the line in the
willingness to sacrifice principles for a few bucks? When we talk about
the need to "change" the political environment and the culture of money
and politics, isn't there some place where you can say, "right here, this
is the perfect example and we aren't going to let this go on anymore"? I
would argue that the place to draw the line is the relationship between
the Democratic Party and Wal-Mart. And the time to draw the line is now.

I outline the facts in a moment. But, the premise for the need to draw the
line now is this: There may be no corporation in American today that has
been a more persistent, regular violator of the law than Wal-Mart. There
may be no corporation in America that has been as virulently anti-union as
Wal-Mart, firing workers repeatedly for trying to organize. There may be
no corporation in America that has attacked the rights of workers and
undercut the living standards of Americans more than Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart has at least 80 class-action lawsuits in 41 states pending
against it.

Wal-Mart illegally denied full rest or meal breaks in violation of state
wage and hour laws - a violation that may cost the company $2 billion.

Wal-Mart abuses women, and is the defendants in the biggest sex
discrimination case in history.

Wal-Mart is a habitual tax-dodger.

Wal-Mart's heirs buy expensive paintings but won't give their workers
decent health care.

Wal-Mart sued a disabled women, demanding she give back money she won in a

Wal-Mart exploits children in Mexico.

Wal-Mart lead a global corporate lobbying campaign to block a very modest
improvement in Chinese labor laws - because Wal-Mart's business model
depends on exploiting cheap labor, here and abroad.

And that's just a sample. Why would any political leader, who represents
him or herself to be a defender of the working person, want to be
affiliated with such a company?

The answer is clear: money. The Democratic Party is almost even with the
Republican Party in the money it receives from Wal-Mart, according to the
Center for Responsive Politics. The Center's data, published in an article
in today's Wall Street Journal (I'll come back to that article in a
moment), shows that 12 years ago, Wal-Mart's PAC gave 98 percent of its
money to Republicans. In the current cycle, Democrats have received 48
percent of Wal-Mart's PAC expenditures.

Here is the list just for the 2008 cycle, according to the Center for
Responsive Politics. In the House, the list is breath-taking in its scope:

Altmire, Jason (D-PA) $12,000
Arcuri, Michael (D-NY) $10,000
Baird, Brian (D-WA) $2,500
Barrow, John (D-GA) $10,000
Becerra, Xavier (D-CA) $6,000
Berry, Marion (D-AR) $6,000
Bishop, Sanford D Jr (D-GA)$5,000
Boren, Dan (D-OK) $7,500
Boswell, Leonard L (D-IA)$5,000
Boucher, Rick (D-VA) $6,000
Boyd, Allen (D-FL) $6,500
Butterfield, G K (D-NC) $3,500
Cardoza, Dennis (D-CA) $2,500
Chandler, Ben (D-KY) $2,500
Christian-Green, Donna (D-VI) $1,000
Clarke, Yvette D (D-NY) $1,000
Cleaver, Emanuel (D-MO) $1,000
Clyburn, James E (D-SC) $6,000
Cohen, Stephen Ira (D-TN)$2,000
Cooper, Jim (D-TN) $5,000
Cramer, Bud (D-AL) $2,500
Cuellar, Henry (D-TX) $7,000
Davis, Artur (D-AL) $7,500
Davis, Lincoln (D-TN) $5,000
Donnelly, Joe (D-IN) $5,000
Edwards, Chet (D-TX) $10,000
Ellsworth, Brad (D-IN) $12,500
Etheridge, Bob (D-NC) $2,000
Gonzalez, Charlie A (D-TX)$6,000
Gordon, Bart (D-TN) $5,000
Green, Gene (D-TX) $3,500
Hill, Baron (D-IN) $10,000
Hinojosa, Ruben (D-TX) $5,000
Holden, Tim (D-PA) $2,500
Hooley, Darlene (D-OR) $1,000
Hoyer, Steny H (D-MD) $6,000
Jackson Lee, Sheila (D-TX) $2,500
Johnson, Hank (D-GA) $1,000
Kilpatrick, Carolyn Cheeks (D-MI)$4,000
Kind, Ron (D-WI) $7,000
Klein, Ron (D-FL) $10,000
Larsen, Rick (D-WA) $2,500
Larson, John B (D-CT) $3,500
Lewis, John (D-GA) $2,500
Lofgren, Zoe (D-CA) $2,000
Maloney, Carolyn B (D-NY)$1,000
Matheson, Jim (D-UT) $5,000
McDermott, Jim (D-WA) $1,000
McIntyre, Mike (D-NC) $1,000
Meek, Kendrick B (D-FL) $7,500
Meeks, Gregory W (D-NY) $7,500
Melancon, Charles J (D-LA)$6,500
Moore, Dennis (D-KS) $3,500
Moran, Jim (D-VA) $2,500
Neal, Richard E (D-MA) $2,000
Oberstar, James L (D-MN)$1,000   [****]
Ortiz, Solomon P (D-TX) $3,000
Pastor, Ed (D-AZ) $5,000
Payne, Donald M (D-NJ) $1,000
Peterson, Collin C (D-MN)$5,500  [****]
Pomeroy, Earl (D-ND) $5,000
Rangel, Charles B (D-NY)$5,500
Reyes, Silvestre (D-TX) $5,500
Richardson, Laura (D-CA)$2,000
Rodriguez, Ciro D (D-TX)$10,000
Ross, Mike (D-AR) $5,000
Ruppersberger, Dutch (D-MD)$4,500
Salazar, John (D-CO) $7,000
Sanchez, Loretta (D-CA) $5,500
Scott, David (D-GA) $5,000
Scott, Robert C (D-VA) $2,000
Shuler, Heath (D-NC) $10,000
Sires, Albio (D-NJ) $2,000
Skelton, Ike (D-MO) $3,000
Snyder, Vic (D-AR) $2,000
Spratt, John M Jr (D-SC)$1,000
Tanner, John (D-TN) $9,000
Tauscher, Ellen (D-CA) $5,000
Taylor, Gene (D-MS) $5,000
Thompson, Bennie G (D-MS)$7,500
Thompson, Mike (D-CA) $4,500
Tiberi, Patrick J (R-OH)$2,500
Towns, Edolphus (D-NY) $3,000
Watt, Melvin L (D-NC) $3,500
Waxman, Henry A (D-CA) $2,500
Wilson, Charlie (D-OH) $5,000
Wynn, Albert R (D-MD) $5,000

In the Senate:

Baucus, Max (D-MT) $7,000
Landrieu, Mary L (D-LA) $5,000
Lincoln, Blanche (D-AR) $2,000
McCaskill, Claire (D-MO)$5,000
Pryor, Mark (D-AR) $3,000
Salazar, Ken (D-CO) $2,000

Unfortunately, this is nothing new. In November 2005, I asked why
Democrats were doing Wal-Mart's bidding, including helping block an
important piece of labor legislation. Two years later, as the 2006
election drew near, Wal-Mart put on a big push to woo Democratic
lawmakers, in particular, African-American and Hispanic representatives.

In one sense, this was inevitable in the culture of Washington politics:
money flows to power. And, since 2006, Democrats are an equal power in the
political power landscape.

Here is why the line must be drawn now and why this trend is particularly
worrisome. The Wall Street Journal article reveals the background in a
piece about Wal-Mart's internal political drive to organize its managers
to vote Republican in the coming election as a strategy to defeat the
Employee Free Choice Act, the single-most important legislative priority
for organized labor:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department
supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in
November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers
to unionize companies - including Wal-Mart.

In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads
have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses
the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized.


The meeting leader said, "I am not telling you how to vote, but if the
Democrats win, this bill will pass and you won't have a vote on whether
you want a union," said a Wal-Mart customer-service supervisor from
Missouri. "I am not a stupid person. They were telling me how to vote,"
she said.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has made defeat of the legislation a top
priority. In the past six months, it has flown state and local Chamber
members to Washington to lobby members of Congress. On Thursday, the
Chamber began airing a television ad in Minnesota and plans to run ads in
other states as part of a broader campaign.

The bill was crafted by labor as a response to more aggressive opposition
by companies to union-organizing activity. The AFL-CIO and individual
unions such as the United Food and Commercial Workers have promised to
make passage of the new labor law their No. 1 mission after the November

First introduced in 2003, the bill came to a vote last year and sailed
through the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, but was
blocked by a filibuster in the Senate and faced a veto threat by the White
House. The bill was taken off the floor, and its backers pledged to
reintroduce it when they could get more support.

The November election could bring that extra support in Congress, as well
as the White House if Sen. Obama is elected and Democrats extend their
control in the Senate. Sen. Obama co-sponsored the legislation, which also
is known as "card check," and has said several times he would sign it into
law if elected president. Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican
presidential nominee, opposes the Employee Free Choice Act and voted
against it last year.

Putting aside the important point about whether Wal-Mart's internal
political electioneering is illegal under federal election law, the far
bigger issue is that Wal-Mart is making it quite clear that it will spare
no effort to defeat EFCA. Wal-Mart and the business community believe that
the passage of EFCA will allow millions of workers who want to be in a
union to be able to exercise their rights without intimidation and fear of
losing their jobs.

To cut to the chase, Wal-Mart's PAC spending is aimed at one thing: to
make sure EFCA does not pass and, if it does pass, to make sure that the
bill that reaches the president's desk will be weakened (which, by the
way, is what happened to labor law reform in the 1970s). Let's look at the
possible scenarios, assuming Barack Obama is president in 2009:

1. A 2008 election brings Democrats a large majority in the House and even
60 seats in the Senate. EFCA comes to the House floor and passes largely
intact. EFCA arrives to the Senate and, lo and behold, one or more
Democratic Senators block the bill, not to kill it but to exact changes
that gut the effectiveness of EFCA.

2. A 2008 election brings Democrats a large majority in the House and even
60 seats in the Senate. EFCA comes to the House floor and a large number
of Democrats from the list above introduce a series of amendments that
seriously weaken EFCA.

3. A 2008 election keeps Democrats in control of the House and Senate with
larger numbers. In both chambers, EFCA will face significant attempts to
change its basic thrust.

I have always been a bit skeptical about using the large numbers of
legislators who have signed as co-sponsors of EFCA as a barometer of the
chances for the legislation to pass - and pass in a form that changes the
playing field for union organizing from one grossly tilted towards
employers to one that gives workers the real right to choose a union.

The Wal-Mart contribution list above remind me of that scene in "The
Untouchables" where Eliot Ness, sure of the evidence against Al Capone,
finds out that the entire jury has been bought of. Of course, the movie
ends with a happy resolution but we aren't in Hollywood when it comes to

So, what should be done:

1. The Change To Win Coalition and the AFL-CIO should jointly send a
letter to Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer (head of the
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) and Chris Hollen (head of the
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) demanding that party members
return every dime to Wal-Mart.

2. Both Federations should also write to every member of Congress
declaring that any Democrat receiving or keeping Wal-Mart money can kiss
any labor donations or labor support good-bye.

3. Both Federations should, then, send a letter to every supposed
Democratic campaign consultant and make it clear: you work for us OR you
work for Wal-Mart. You can't do both.

Jonathan Tasini is Executive Director of the Labor Research Organization,
which publishes

--------11 of 13--------

Bases Upon Bases
Baleful Imperial Power
August 2 / 3, 2008

What do the following places have in common - Afghanistan, Belgium,
Bosnia, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Iraq, Japan, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia
and South Korea?

They all have US army bases. There are dozens of them. To which add
enjoyment or otherwise of the presence of US Navy headquarters and
warships by the Bahamas, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Cuba
(Guantanamo Bay), Greece, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore,
Spain, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, plus another score of
ports worldwide where USN ships are welcomed by permanently-based staffs
who are guests of host governments. These places are not bases. They are
not counted in the officially admitted 780 (or so) colonial-style military
encampments that Washington has imposed on inferior nations. The US
military presence round the world is enormous. It is greater than any
other country or empire has ever had. The most expansionist days of Rome
and the British Empire, Hitler's assault on Europe, and Stalin's
domination of the countries on Russia's borders pale in comparison with
the global embrace of what has become a sinister force for

Although it is unlikely that any more South American countries will allow
the US to establish military bases (Ecuador will cancel its airbase
agreement next year, being so fed up with the arrogance of the northern
imperialists), the newly-created US Fourth Fleet is now patrolling off the
shores of Venezuela, menacing its democratically elected leader, Hugo
Chavez, who has incurred the wrath of US business interests by running his
country more efficiently without their presence.

Mr Chavez doesn't like the idea of giving his country's natural resources
to US companies and he won't be bribed by them. This is absolutely
unforgivable in the eyes of the Cheney-supported Friedmaniac freaks who
nearly ruined Russia - and would have done so, had it not been for
President Putin taking charge and restoring his country to economic
sanity. Little wonder President Chavez has been attacked so viciously by
the US and British media, parroting the Right Wing mantra that
privatisation might reduce millions to poverty, but that it's really a
good thing in the long run. (Providing you aren't one of those who have
died from starvation meantime, of course.)

Venezuela has lots of oil, which may have added to Washington's priority
in creating a 12 ship fleet to "build confidence and trust among nations
through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats
and mutual interests". But it isn't clear what confidence and trust can be
created by a nuclear aircraft carrier and amphibious assault ships whose
ostensible mission involves countering drug smuggling and, inevitably,
taking part in the absurd "War on Terror".

President Chavez said words to the effect that he wondered what US
reaction be if a South American nation sent a fleet to patrol the coast of
Virginia, and of course he is perfectly right in fearing the baleful
American presence. America sends hundreds of ships, many nuclear-armed and
equipped with fearsome missile, to roam the coasts of foreign countries,
but imagine the screams of shock, horror and astonished indignation if
Russia or China sent a battle group to stroll nautically up and down the
coast from Seattle to San Francisco.

As to Venezuela - who knows what special forces knuckle-draggers and CIA
psychotics are deployed to assist the US-supported anti-Chavez underground
that already exists. (The Fourth Fleet is commanded by Admiral Joseph D
Kernan, a former special forces commander; the signal could not be
clearer.) In May a US Navy Viking electronic warfare aircraft
"accidentally" flew into Venezuelan airspace, which doesn't provide much
confidence in a navy operating a super-sophisticated plane, with every
up-to-date navigation device, that can lose its way so easily. What a load
of nonsense. So it can be deduced that the plane was deliberately trailing
its coat to assess the effectiveness of Venezuela's defence radar system -
just as is done every day in the Persian Gulf by US aircraft and ships
closing up to Iran's coastline to plot radar and other defence facilities
in order to be able to bomb them if Bush decides to encourage Israel to
attack Iran.

There is also a US navy, Marine and air force base in Diego Garcia, a
British territory, in which there is a CIA prison to which prisoners have
been delivered by the wonderful process of "rendition". (The British
government denied knowledge of "rendition" through British territory but
had to acknowledge that it lied, following production of evidence that it
had lied. Can we trust anyone? Anyone at all?)

Diego Garcia was given to the US illegally, and Britain's highest
judiciary recently ordered that the original inhabitants should be allowed
to return to their homes, but the ruling was ignored by the British
government. The power of Bush Washington is such that the government of a
sovereign nation considers it must put the interests of a foreign country
above those of its people. The Islanders remain in poverty and squalor in
fetid African slums while corrupt British politicians (which adjective
fits most of them) revel in taxpayer-funded second homes in expensive
London boroughs. They couldn't give a damn about people.

Democracy, anyone?

The US Marines are democratically in force in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay,
Djibouti, Germany, the United Kingdom, Iraq, Japan (13 bases, around which
protest is common as there have been several rape cases), and Kuwait,
while the United States Air Force has bases in Afghanistan, Antigua,
Aruba, Bulgaria, Colombia, Curacao, Ecuador, Germany, Greenland, Honduras,
Italy, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Panama, Qatar
and Turkey as well as in US colonies such as Guam, where "The U.S.
military maintains jurisdiction over its bases, which cover approximately
39,000 acres (160 km), or 29% of the island's total land area".

The US has fourteen "overseas territories"  in the Pacific, in which "US
Naval Forces Marianas oversees the US Navy's largest and most strategic
island base located in the Western Pacific It is home to over 160,000
residents and more than 12,000 military members and their families. Guam
is the most populated island in the geographical area known as
Micronesia," and in milspeak is "Supporting Command to the Warfighter" -
whatever that means, as there is no war going on in the region so far as
one can make out.

Then there are US military bases in Australia (including an enormous
complex that spies electronically on Asian communications) and in
countless other countries. In addition to the admitted 780 major bases in
all parts of the world, there is a significant US military presence in,
for example, the Philippines (which chucked the US out of its many bases
in 1992 because Washington would not tell its government whether or not
there were nuclear weapons stored in Philippines' territory) and several
other countries. The one bright light is that the newly created US Africa
Command is regarded with justifiable suspicion by African nations, who
have refused to have the Command in the continent, making it necessary for
the HQ to remain in Germany, of all places.

Washington intends to build anti-ballistic missile bases in Poland
(missiles), the Czech Republic (radars), and in any other eastern European
country whose governments can be bullied or bribed to take them. But it
seems that the peoples of these countries, who will not benefit from the
cosy arrangements made with senior government figures, are far from
favouring close association with an imperial power. They had their fill of
empire when under the yoke of Moscow, and the addled yolk of Washington
has little appeal. Washington's justification for establishing these bases
is that Iran has missiles from which Europe must be protected, which is
balderdash, as Iran poses no threat whatever to Europe. The reason for
creating military bases so close to Russia is to keep Moscow on edge
regarding US capabilities.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO, was designed to combat the
Soviet Union's military power, which posed a threat to Europe. But when
the Soviet Union collapsed, its military grouping, the Warsaw Pact, was
disbanded. The threat disappeared. And NATO should have disappeared, too,
as it is no longer relevant to North Atlantic or European defence. But the
United States has made it a priority to antagonise Russia and menace it
militarily, just as it is threatening Iran by surrounding it by military
bases. Washington encouraged expansion of NATO to include ten countries
along or close to the Russian border.

Russia has shown independence by controlling and disciplining western oil
interests whose idea of deal-making was in classic colonial tradition, and
this, combined with growing economic and military self-confidence in
Moscow, is deemed unacceptable by Washington and London. (For example,
BP's idea of arranging contracts with a foreign company is consistent with
its being registered in the Virgin Islands tax haven, and thus being
immune from the laws of a host nation. Why they thought Russia would
accept such arrogance is not clear.) Hence the US and British
determination to discourage and curb Russian economic growth and
re-establishment of national confidence. The western media's assault on
Putin was only part of the campaign.

The US commentator Chalmers Johnson summed up his country's foreign policy
by observing that "Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of
imperialism by counting up colonies. America's version of the colony is
the military base". Quite so. Which is all the more reason for Pakistan
and others to resist establishment of US bases in their territory.

American withdrawal from all these places would be welcome but will never
happen. The world is stuck with a baleful military superpower, intent on
continuing imperial domination. Little wonder Russia and China - and Osama
bin Laden - are popular in so many countries.

Brian Cloughley lives in France. His website is

--------12 of 13--------

Unions Back Plan that Could Kill Off Real Health Care Reform
by Kip Sullivan
Labor Notes
August 2008

If Barack Obama wins the fall election, he will be under more pressure to
establish universal health insurance than any president in U.S. history.
This will be due not only to public disgust with the current health care
system, but to the hard work of organizations dedicated to universal
health insurance.

But the most powerful of these groups, including the AFL-CIO and Service
Employees (the major Change to Win health care union) are promoting a
solution that won't fix the problem.

Their plan would fatten the insurance industry and make it an even more
formidable opponent of true reform than it already is.

If SEIU and the AFL-CIO get their way, the day that all Americans have
affordable insurance will be pushed into the unforeseeable future.

The labor-backed plan, which they call "guaranteed affordable choice,"
would create a public program like Medicare that would allegedly compete
with the nation's 1,500 insurance companies. Americans would get
tax-financed subsidies to purchase insurance from either a private
insurance company or the public plan. Competition, which has never worked
in the health insurance industry, would magically come to life.

By leaving the bloated insurance industry smack in the middle of our
health care system, "guaranteed affordable choice" would have taxpayers
and premium-payers continuing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on
unnecessary administrative costs.

Oddly, the AFL-CIO and SEIU have also endorsed an entirely different plan:
the single-payer solution.

The AFL-CIO's executive council endorsed the concept in March 2007 by
calling for the expansion of Medicare to people of all ages. SEIU endorsed
HR 676, a single-payer bill pending in the House of Representatives, at
its June 2008 convention.

"Single payer" - the system used in Canada and other countries - gets its
name from its most essential feature: One payer, a public agency, replaces
the 1,500 insurance companies. It becomes the sole reimburser of clinics
and hospitals. That one agency has the authority to set limits on what
doctors, hospitals, and drug companies can charge. Patients go to doctors
and hospitals of their choosing. The traditional Medicare program is an
example of a single-payer system.

The U.S. spends twice as much per person on health care as other
industrialized nations. Single payer is the only system that can achieve
universal coverage for the same or less money than the nation spends now.

Replacing all those insurance companies and dozens of government programs
with one payer slashes the huge costs incurred by doctors, clinics, and
hospitals on billing and arguing with insurance companies about how to
treat patients. It wipes out what insurers spend on marketing and
excessive salaries, and what they take in profits.

The issue that unions are sidestepping is whether the mere presence of a
public program in the jungle of private insurance companies would force
private insurers to lower premiums without resorting to delaying or
denying care to some.

What is more likely to happen is that the insurance industry would
"compete" with the public program by rationing the care received by their
sicker enrollees, pushing some to sign up with the public program instead.

This would in turn drive the public program's premiums up and the private
premiums down. Eventually the public program would be driven out of the

The AFL-CIO's and SEIU's endorsements of single payer appear to be window
dressing. They are putting all their energies into "guaranteed affordable
choice". They do it in their own names, and as members of the Herndon
Alliance and the Health Care for America Now coalition, which became
public July 8. These coalitions criticize single payer as "not politically

SEIU's track record is even worse than the AFL-CIO's. Unlike the
federation, SEIU President Andy Stern regularly trashes single payer. "I
think we need to find a new system that is not built on the back of the
government," he told the Brookings Institute two years ago. "We are going
to build an American system because we are Americans".

Some liberals say they support single payer but won't work for it because
the insurance industry is too powerful to beat. But Stern bases his trash
talk on a more baseless and insidious claim - that average Americans
oppose single payer.

He says we embrace a hyper-patriotism that causes us to resist adopting
good ideas from other countries - even Canada - .and are so satisfied with
our current insurance companies that we will fight any attempt to replace

Stern's perception is contradicted by many polls and focus groups. A
December 2007 AP poll, for example, found that 65 percent of Americans
support "a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered
under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed
by taxpayers". A poll by ABC News in 2003 found 62 percent in favor.

Why would the AFL-CIO and SEIU endorse single payer but then, in reality,
support a plan that will not cut costs?

Getting officials to answer that question is difficult. Even though they
are clearly supporting "guaranteed affordable choice," representatives of
the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and the coalitions they belong to say there's no need
for the rank and file, or the public at large, to understand the
differences between the two plans.

This assumption was articulated by Bruce Popper, a member of SEIU
1199-United Healthcare Workers East, from the floor of SEIU's June

"My local union, my local labor council, and community groups all over in
my area are for single payer," Popper said. "But I'm not going to get
bogged down in an endless debate about which plan will work best. We must
leave that debate until the day when we can actually enact a plan. That
day is the day after our candidate, Barack Obama, wins the White House".

Nick Unger, AFL-CIO's health policy analyst, makes the same point. In a
recent presentation, he put it this way:

Health care. All you need to know is:

. It costs too much.

. It covers too little.

. It excludes too many.

. And it's getting worse.

But advocates of "guaranteed affordable choice" have already decided which
plan is best and they are communicating their decision to Democrats. The
labor-supported coalitions claim credit for having persuaded John Edwards,
Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama to endorse the basic elements of their

Union members have several explanations for why the AFL-CIO and SEIU are
promoting a proposal that can't work and which feeds the health insurance
industry, the very industry most dedicated to killing single payer.

A representative of the AFL-CIO, who asked not to be identified, said the
federation is divided about how to solve the health care crisis.
Apparently the federation's endorsement of Medicare-for-all merely
reflected the executive council's desire to acknowledge that single-payer
advocates existed in their ranks.

Mike Carano, a member of Teamsters Local 348 in Ohio and longtime activist
with the state's Single-Payer Action Network, offered another explanation.
"The AFL-CIO and SEIU are pretty close to the Democratic Party," he said.
"The Democrats don't want to take on the insurance industry. I imagine one
way the AFL-CIO and SEIU support Democrats is not to upset Democrats".

--------13 of 13--------

In Health Care Reform, Massachusetts Shows How Not To Do It
By Sandy Eaton
Labor Notes
August 2008

Leaving the bloated insurance industry in place perpetuates the pain and
cost of the current health care system.

Massachusetts pays the most in the nation for its health care, and yet
it's plagued by an ongoing crisis of access, affordability, and quality.
Although our experiment in health care reform already has deep problems,
policy wonks influencing the country's health care debate tout
Massachusetts as the model for universal health care nationwide.

If Massachusetts is a model, it's a model of what not to do.

When the legislature passed 'shared responsibility' legislation two years
ago, nearly every suit in the state's health care industry celebrated. The
concept grew from an October 2005 assembly convened by the Blue Cross-Blue
Shield Foundation of Massachusetts that made a bald assertion: there was
no way to achieve universal coverage in Massachusetts without an
'individual mandate,' the enforceable legal requirement that everyone have
health insurance.

The problem was that the assembly was not allowed to consider
Canadian-style single-payer health care-which would eliminate private
insurance companies-as an option. It was off the table.

So a new bureaucracy was established, the Commonwealth Health Insurance
Connector Board, with broad powers to set rates, approve cut-rate private
policies, and define affordability.

Subsidies are offered on a sliding scale for those earning up to 300
percent of the federal poverty line (about $63,000 for a family of four).
Those earning below the line are covered free.

The tangle of private insurance companies, with their expensive
bureaucracies and profits, remains in place.

The only new source of revenue for these subsidies is the $295 per
employee fee paid anually by employers of 11 or more workers who fail to
show that they are making a 'fair and reasonable' contribution to their
employees' coverage.

The tangle of private insurance companies, with their expensive
bureaucracies and profits, remains in place.

Given these constraints, how does the system measure up?

Access. The ability to get care has expanded for some, with an increase in
Medicaid enrollment for some of the poorest. But this comes at the expense
of many, particularly undocumented workers and their families, who in the
past had depended on the uncompensated care pool, or free-care pool,
through community health centers and safety-net hospitals.

For another view of the health care dilemma in this issue of Labor Notes:
see Kip Sullivan: Unions Back Plan that Could Kill Off Real Health Care

The pressure is now on to deny free care to low-income immigrants who
would be eligible for subsidized programs if their papers were in order.

Out of a population of six million, a quarter of a million residents
remain uninsured. About 60,000 have been granted waivers as unable to
afford even the subsidized plans.

Others fall through the cracks of a complex bureaucracy, and an unknown
number simply defy the system and refuse to fill out the additional pages
of questions about their insurance status with their state income tax

Affordability. For many, paying for health care without the threat of
bankruptcy or giving up other necessities of life remains impossible.
Governments and many employers are staggering, too.

Rising costs for public employees' and retirees' health insurance has led
to round after round of service cutbacks, affecting every resident who
uses public services. Attempts at cost-shifting have provoked strikes by
teachers and turnovers in city halls.

Employers successfully pressure the Connector Board to keep copays and
deductibles high in the subsidized health plans. This keeps those covered
by commercial plans from switching to the public ones.

But ironically, those high deductibles and copays are not counted when
calculating who qualifies for taxpayer subsidies.

A diabetic stay-at-home mom on the subsidized plan, for example, pays $110
a month for insurance. But the array of drugs and procedures she requires
and the limits on her coverage leave her with copayments of about $165 a

Quality. The new system doesn't seem to have improved patient outcomes. A
recent study showed that 45,000 patients are injured and 2,000 patients
die in Massachusetts each year from hospital-acquired infections and
accidents. That's six patients dying each day.

And hospital executives fiercely resist steps to improve quality. In July
they blocked a bill-again-to establish minimum nurse-to-patient ratios.
Such ratios have made California hospitals much safer.


In July Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy announced a bipartisan
initiative to achieve 'universal health care' quickly, in the first days
of a new administration. And then came Health Care for America Now, a new
80-member coalition that includes the AFL- CIO, SEIU, and AFSCME. HCAN
champions a system-similar to Massachusetts's-that would leave the
insurance companies at their troughs.

During the Great Depression, FDR was elected with a mandate for change,
but the specifics were vague and the direction of the new administration
nebulous. Like today, an upsurge of grassroots action was needed to set a
progressive agenda.

It took 3,000 locals, for example, ignoring AFL President Bill Green's
aversion to 'the dole,' as he called it, to establish unemployment

This may well prove to be just as fluid a moment in history. Nothing of
consequence-like universal, single- payer health insurance-will succeed
without solid grassroots organizing that sets the agenda for the next

Sandy Eaton is Region 5 president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association
and vice chair of the Massachusetts Campaign for Single Payer Health Care.

[Kip writes that he is in full agreement with the above article. -ed]

[Massachusetts can't do "it" either, so you don't want to go there. -ed]

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