Monday, September 14, 2009

The Progressive movement can be a policy agenda!

David Sirota wrote a great article entitled "Progressives pay the Price for Confusing a Party with a Movement", claiming that progressive constituencies within the Democratic party engaged in party building activities to elect Democratic candidates against their own best interests. And he wrote about the reasons why some of the players in the progressive movement did this - in order to ensure their access to the power once we won the election. And how access to this power is keeping many progressive leaders from being effective with advancing their agenda.

I respect David Sirota, and agree with him on many things. But David is wrong about this. Not all parts of the party are loyal to their own power regardless of policy agenda. And not all movements are loyal to their own policy agenda regardless of which party champions it. The Progressive Democrats are a perfect example of this.

We are quietly and not so quietly building a progressive majority within the Democratic Party. Howard Dean said it best: If you want to take back your country, you must first take back your party. In our case, we are working to take our party back from the very people who are leading it at the national and state party levels - but leading it in a way that does not honor or even take seriously our party platform.

This is a perfect time for me to explain my feelings about what political parties are. The word "politics" comes from the Greek word "polis" meaning state or city. "Politikos" describes anything concerning the state or city affairs.

An association is a group of individuals who voluntarily enter into an agreement to form a body (or organization) to accomplish a purpose. A political party is an association of people to accomplish the purpose of being involved in city/state affairs. It's not just about winning elections, no matter how much the party leaders tell us. Winning elections is only a part of the equation.

What are the other parts? First - you have to provide some sort of organizational structure for people to come together under. You have Roberts Rules of Order and the NC Democratic Party Plan of Organization as a guide. You have the precincts, then the counties, then the US congressional districts, then the state party, then the DNC. Since the group is an association of registered Democrats, that is obviously one qualification for membership. You show up at your precinct meeting, where only Democrats can speak, run for office and vote. You elect precinct officers, and nominate other Democrats for delegate positions to other groups like the county convention. People elected at one level serve the next level up, where they repeat the process.

Now we have the association, and the rules and plan for organization, and the officers - what next? Next is what we stand for - and we decide that by using the rules and plan for organization to determine our Platform using committees and the resolution process.

Once we have our platform - how then do we get influence city or state affairs? By either finding candidates who feel the same way we do or they find us - because they believe in our platform. Just how much of our platform they believe in us usually a factor in our primaries, or at least it should be if we have more than one person running for a particular race. But as of late, we have been allowing our votes to be influenced by party leaders who tell us that one candidate is more "electable" than another - usually for reasons such as "they can raise more money (from big donors who may not share our collective values)", or "candidate A is more acceptable to the majority of voters in (insert whatever jurisdiction you wish) than candidate B based on gender, age, race, etc. Or sometimes we just defer to the opinion of someone just out of force of habit or custom, even though by doing so we are voting against some of the very things that the party stands for.

Once we have decided on our slate, that is when we can work to get them elected. At a bare minimum, the same organizational structure that was set up to elect the organizational leaders and determine our platform can be used to help get our party candidates elected by getting out the vote of our party members. We can certainly help a candidate get votes from voters other than those in our party, but clearly this part of the GOTV effort must be directed by the candidates campaigns themselves, since a candidate for one race might be targeting a different group of non Dems in one race than a candidate might need in another race.

OK - now that we have them elected - what do we do? It's not enough to create a platform. select candidates and then get them elected - you have to be able to hold them accountable. That is where I disagree with David Sirota - a political party is a perfect place to have a policy agenda. The policy is your party platform. But how do you hold the elected leaders accountable?

You have a way to measure how well or poorly your elected leaders follow your policy agenda. Certainly if your party is not in a majority or leadership position, it's difficult to grade them when they don't control the respective branches of government. But when your party does this, there is no excuse for not holding them accountable.

We have a very good process for determining what our party stands for - it's the platform and resolution process. The problem is, we have no good way to evaluate how well or poorly our elected officials are working to implement the platform and resolutions into their legislation. I would suggest organizing resolutions along the lines of our party platform, and then issuing a report card at the municipal, county, congressional district, state, and national levels. Sort of like how the NAACP does with the HKonJ 14-Point agenda. We don't have a way to make sure our elected officials are accountable to us. Lobbyists and the big money donors who support them have those ways.

Once we have a way to measure how well or poorly our elected officials are following, then what do we do to hold them accountable? Do we continue to support them when they don't support us? This can be tricky, because party officers from the precinct chairs on up can be removed from their positions for supporting candidates of another party besides our own. But should we be required to support candidates who call themselves Democrats who don't support the party and/or our platform?

We can always run a challenger to an incumbent. Our county party replaces party officers all the time with challengers when the incumbents don't live up to our expectations - we did this in 2007 with the Wake County Chair, and in 2009 with the Wake Board of Elections. To some extent we did this in 2005 when the NCDP State Executive Committee elected Jerry Meek over Ed Turlington who was Governor Easley's choice for Chair. Jerry had the advantage of being 1st vice chair for a while and being well known across the entire state.

At times you even have to remove an officer during their term of office. The Wake Dems felt that a particular municipal vice chair was not working out (especially after sending out an e-mail encouraging the mass defection of Democrats from the party) and so we used the Council of Review and Executive Council procedures to remove this person from office. It wasn't pretty, and this person went out kicking and......well, I'll just say she didn't go quietly. But it had to be done. And the County Party did it.

What do we do when there is no challenger available and the incumbent is not representing the interests of the Democratic Party? This is a good question because Party officers who support a candidate of another party or any party other than the Democratic Party can be removed from office. Why is there no similar requirement that candidates support the party or it's platform?

Could it be because there are party officers at upper levels who really don't support the party or it's platform, but merely act as slight biased referees who see big money coming into the party from donors who want it directed to specific candidates who have promised to take specific action on behalf of those donors? We have seen this happen in our own state with the Democratic Party and the Sleasley mess. And we have heard of the bouts between Rahm Emanuel and Howard Dean over the 50 State strategy. Dean's 50 State strategy was a big part of the reason why we were successful in 2006 and 2008. It was a long-term strategy designed to strengthen and build up the party based on Dean's slogan: "If you want to take back your country, you first have to take back your party."

Emanuel didn't like the 50-State strategy, and is actively dismantling it now. When you put former OFA campaign staffers in charge of party building for the Democratic Party, do you seriously expect them to act in the best interest of the party or for the candidate, his campaign advisors or donors? Do they have any particular allegiance to the Democratic Party? Have they ever worked as a precinct chair or delegate to any level party convention? Did they ever serve as a party officer or as a member of the SEC? Were they even Democrats before the election?

The party is many things, but it can be a movement based on what the party stands for. Some candidates would rather us not think of the Democratic Party as a way to influence their policies. But going back to the definition of what politics is, a political party is made up of people who want to influence the affairs of state. We have every right to expect our candidates to reflect our views - not the other way around. And we have every right to tell our candidates that we expect them to take our party platform seriously - and that we work together. We work to get them elected and they should work to implement our platform. If they don't like the platform - don't run as a Democrat. But if you come to our Party meetings and ask us to work for you - you must expect us to expect things from you.

Grassroots Democrats are not paid professional political operatives. But those operatives have got to realize that they will not be able to win elections in 2010 and 2012 without us. If they continue to take us for granted and act in opposition to our party platform and the promises they made to rank and file Democrats and our constituency groups, they will find themselves out of power. The people with the money have no political party allegiance - they go with whomever makes them the most money. They are just using the Dems now to keep a little bit more of what they have than if they stuck with the GOP and had no influence with our party.

There is no reason why Progressive Democrats in our Democratic Party cannot be part of a movement within our own Party. There is no reason why the platform of the Democratic Party shouldn't be a way to measure how well or poorly our elected officials do the jobs we elected them to. We can exert our influence and make the politicians do what they promised. We just have to get some backbone and tell them we hold them accountable for what they do. And whenever possible - run someone in a primary against them.

Progressives Pay the Price for Confusing a Party With a Movement

by David Sirota

The difference between parties and movements is simple: Parties are loyal to their own power regardless of policy agenda; movements are loyal to their own policy agenda regardless of which party champions it. This is one of the few enduring political axioms, and it explains why the organizations purporting to lead an American progressive "movement" have yet to build a real movement, much less a successful one.

Though the 2006 and 2008 elections were billed as progressive movement successes, the story behind them highlights a longer-term failure. During those contests, most leaders of Washington's major labor, environmental, anti-war and anti-poverty groups spent millions of dollars on a party endeavor-specifically, on electing a Democratic president and Democratic Congress. In the process, many groups subverted their own movement agendas in the name of electoral unity.

The effort involved a sleight of hand. These groups begged their grass-roots members-janitors, soccer moms, veterans and other "regular folks"-to cough up small-dollar contributions in return for the promise of movement pressure on both parties' politicians. Simultaneously, these groups went to dot-com and Wall Street millionaires asking them to chip in big checks in exchange for advocacy that did not offend those fat cats' Democratic politician friends (or those millionaires' economic privilege).

This wasn't totally dishonest. Many groups sincerely believed that Democratic Party promotion was key to progressive movement causes. And anyway, during the Bush era, many of those causes automatically helped Democrats by indicting Republicans.

But after the 2008 election, the strategy's bankruptcy is undeniable.

As we now see, union dues underwrote Democratic leaders who today obstruct serious labor law reform and ignore past promises to fix NAFTA. Green groups' resources helped elect a government that pretends sham "cap and trade" bills represent environmental progress. Health care groups promising to push a single-payer system got a president not only dropping his own single-payer promises, but also backing off a "public option" to compete with private insurance. And anti-war funding delivered a Congress that refuses to stop financing the Iraq mess, and an administration preparing to escalate the Afghanistan conflict.

Of course, frustrated progressives might be able to forgive the groups that promised different results, had these postelection failures prompted course corrections.

For example, had the left's pre-eminent groups responded to Democrats' health care capitulations by immediately announcing campaigns against these Democrats, progressives could feel confident that these groups were back to prioritizing a movement agenda. Likewise, had the big anti-war organizations reacted to Obama's Afghanistan escalation plans with promises of electoral retribution, we would know those organizations were steadfastly loyal to their anti-war brand.

But that hasn't happened. Despite the president's health care retreat, most major progressive groups continue to cheer him on, afraid to lose their White House access and, thus, their Beltway status. Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that has "yet to take a clear position on Afghanistan" while VoteVets' leader all but genuflected to Obama, saying, "People [read: professional political operatives] do not want to take on the administration."

In this vacuum, movement building has been left to underfunded (but stunningly successful) projects like, Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and local organizations. And that's the lesson: True grass-roots movements that deliver concrete legislative results are not steered by marble-columned institutions, wealthy benefactors or celebrity politicians-and they are rarely ever run from Washington. They are almost always far-flung efforts by those organized around real-world results-those who don't care about party conventions, congressional cocktail parties or White House soirees they were never invited to in the first place.

Only when enough progressives realize that truism will any movement-and any change-finally commence.

David Sirota is a bestselling author whose newest book is "The Uprising." He is a fellow at the Campaign for America's Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network-both nonpartisan organizations. His blog is at

Friday, July 31, 2009

Single Payer Health Care WILL work - it works for fire fghters and police!

One thing that Senator Al Franked proved when he wrote "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" was that people who get their news from talk radio (and now Fox news) feel they are among the best informed people when they are really the least informed people. And their lemming-like repetitious spewing of the same health-care industry talking points that a single-payer or government option is bad socialism and can't work as well as private business is oh so wrong!

Want examples of that? Check out the article below -

Firefighting in the 1800’s: A Corrupt, Bloated, Private For-Profit Industry

July 30th, 2009 · Go on and comment

The loudest voice, piercing through the debate over health care is unquestionably sure “privatization is always better.” Because Republicans (who are in the government) will readily tell you - the government never does anything right. Which explains why the most popular people in their Grand Old Party no longer hold any personally “taxing” jobs in the government (Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and as of Sunday, Sarah Palin), opting (fittingly) for private political gigs.

Less government control is always good? The private sector is always first-rate? Free market capitalism is the cure-all? Even for health care?!
Let’s look at this reasonably: Firefighting used to be a private for-profit industry. In the 1800’s, the early days of urbanization, in cities like New York and Baltimore, there were private “clubs” or “gangs” who were in charge of putting out fires. The infamous Boss Tweed started his illustrious political career at a volunteer fire company. The way it functioned was the first club at the scene got money from the insurance company. So, they had an incentive to get there fast. They also had an incentive to sabotage competition. They also often ended up getting in fights over territory and many times buildings would burn down before the issue was resolved. They were glorified looters. It was corrupt, bloated and expensive - but at least it wasn’t the much maligned “government controlled.”

There was a scene in Martin Scorsesse's "Gangs of New York" which illustrated this perfectly!

Actual fire-fighting was rare in the Five Points, and the arson was often used by firefighting companies to settle territorial disputes. The crook William Tweed, of course, had his fingers into every pie, and chief among those pies was fire-fighting.


The territorial warfare extended to the firefighting as well. With more than 37 amateur fire-brigades in the Five Points, there was a lot of competition over who would get to quell the fire.

In the movie we see Tammany’s fire brigade arriving to the scene of a house set on fire, only to get into a fight with a rivalling fire brigade, the Black Joke. (the latter is famous for starting the Draft Riots[10]) While the two firefighting companies fight over who gets to extinguish the fire, the house is burning down in the background, and looters make their way in to steal any of what’s left of worth[11]. In a hilarious scene that is unfortunately true to history, we see the exchange between the victims of the fire and fire brigade chief Tweed:

FAMILY: For god’s sake. They’re taking everything!

TWEED: In your next time of trouble ma’m, call Tammany first! (handing a business card)

FAMILY: It’s not too late. You can still save my house!

Of course he can, but that’s not what he is here for. With the house still burning, the two fire ‘tribe’ leaders, Tammany and the Black Joke chief, quarrel casually over a territorial dispute:
BLACK JOKE CHIEF: May I point out that this building is burning to ashes?

TWEED: And may I point out that this area is the provenance of my own America’s firebrigade. And that you lot only belong in the Bowery.

BLACK JOKE CHIEF: May I point out that you are outmanned, outmanouvered, and at the moment outfought!


Upon which the reinforcements arrive on the scene, Bill the Butcher and his army of Natives. When Bill remarks that the fire has burnt near everything of value in the house, Tweed orders his firefighting ‘thugs’ to ransack the next house. “Mustn’t lead it [the fire] spread!”, he notes with a wink.
In other words, old-time private-enterprise fire fighters functioned a lot like modern-day health care corporations backed by Wall Street gamblers!

Around the time of the Civil War, firefighting in big cities was reformed and taken over by the government. Currently firefighters in most major metropolises are trained by the government, employed by the government and given health care - wait for it - by the government.

That's right - they became employees of the municipal governments and got standardized pay and benefits - all in exchange for risking their lives when they run into burning buildings and rescue people. Would you say that fire fighters themselves and the American people who they protect are better off under a government-run fire fighting system or do you want to go back to the bad old days?

Yet if we had to have the “conversation” about the firefighting industry today, we’d have socialism-phobic South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint on the TV every chance he could get saying things like, “Do you want a government bureaucrat between you and the safety of your home?”

Rep. John Boehner of Ohio would hold press conferences and ask, “Do you want your firefighting to be like going to the DMV? Do you want Uncle Sam to come breaking down your door every time some Washington fat cat says there’s a fire?”

There would be 30-second TV spots paid for by the powerful firefighting lobby featuring stars and stripes graphics and the national anthem playing softly in the background with a booming voice-over trumpeting, “Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were volunteer firefighters. Support traditional values and oppose government waste. Tell your representative you want a bi-partisan solution to fire reform.”

News programs would be interviewing sobbing people whose homes fell through the cracks and burned to the ground. “I don’t want to see the government take-over firefighting, but I sure miss Momma’s oil paintings.”

And President Barack Obama would relay his childhood experience with a fire then point out the failure of the for-profit firefighting industrial complex that “threatens to bankrupt this country.” And then those most in need of firefighting services would foam about his birth certificate and confuse Karl Marx with Charles Darwin on misspelled protest signs at events put on by covert firefighting lobbyists.

But instead, today firefighters are national heroes. They’re organized, quick, competent and with few exceptions pillars of the community. Their duty is to protect people and their property and they do it. They make no profits, are part of the government and they help people 24-hours a day. They even let seniors live. No debate necessary. What started out as a shady gaming of the system where the general public’s welfare was at risk is today something of national pride.

You're damn right they are national heroes. On 9/11, NYFD and NYPD members ran into buildings to rescue people, even though there was a chance the buildings might collapse on them. I was in NYC a few weeks after 9/11, and if they thought you were NYFD, or NYPD, or even fire or police from another part of the country - you couldn't buy yourself a drink in ANY bar in NYC.

Do you really think that private for-profit fire fighters of the Tweed era would have the training or the "testicular fortitude" to run into those buildings? No - they'd be fighting amongst themselves to see who would get the honor or sitting on a barrel over a hydrant. Maybe even trying to find a way to collect the insurance bounty for not doing any actual work - or looting nearby stores!

So government can do something right. It’s happened.

You're damn right it's happened!

Less government is not always good. The private sector is not always first-rate. And free market capitalism does not cure all.

Do I want my health care to be like the DMV? I’ve seen clinics that make the DMV look like destination spa. DMV is affordable and I can always get seen the same day (I have insurance and I can’t say the same about my doctor). So yeah, DMV-esque wouldn’t be too bad. What would be better is if doctors could be like firefighters.

This piece ran at the Huffington Post.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

(gutless cowardly) Senate Dems (who have a majority) pare back health bill
Senate Dems pare back health bill
By DAVID ESPO and ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writers David Espo And Erica Werner, Associated Press Writers 39 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Key Senate Democrats, bidding for bipartisan support on health care, pared back subsidies designed to make insurance more affordable on Thursday and floated a compromise that rules out direct government competition against private insurers.
So if you have a majority - why do you need bipartisan support from Republicans when you know the health care industry will oppose anything that lessens their profits? All you are doing is making sure that health care won't be available for more people, and that it will be more expensive. In fact - you are looking at a boondoggle that makes Medicare Part D look like chicken feed!

Despite the cost-cutting, the proposal backed by Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, requires most individuals to purchase coverage and forbids insurance companies from denying it on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions.

If you don't have a job - what do you purchase your insurance with?

The brief outline did not specify how the government's costs would be covered, although Baucus and many Republicans favor a tax on certain employer-provided health benefits. The Montana Democrat has said he intends to hold the cost of the legislation to about $1 trillion, well below the $1.6 trillion estimate the Congressional Budget Office made of an earlier set of options.

So in other words, if the insurance companies are already over-charging for health care insurance paid for by employers because there are no government controls, the government will now tax your health insurance?

Across the Capitol, Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee privately circulated a list of possible tax increases to pay for expanded health care.

Geeze - what happened to the estimates that showed that a single-payer plan would provide health care for all Americans with what our current system costs exclude 51 million Americans. So why is it seen as an increase in taxes? It's a shift from paying larger fees to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. They get the same amount of money they get now - they just have to cover all Americans. Their business model won't allow them to squeeze more profit out of the Americans and American businesses who can afford to pay for health care.

They ranged from raising the Medicare tax, slapping a 10-cents-per-can increase on sweetened drinks, raising the alcohol tax, imposing a new payroll tax on employers equal to 3 percent of their health care expenditures and taxing employer-provided health insurance benefits above certain levels.

All nice regressive taxes designed not to cut into the profits of the businesses that got us into this problem in the first place.

Also under consideration was a value added tax, a sort of national sales tax, of up to 1.5 percent or more, with housing, education, financial services and medical care potentially exempt.

Again - regressive taxes that will end up hurting the unemployed, the underemployed, and the working/middle classes.

House Democrats were expected to unveil an outline of their own to expand health coverage on Friday, although several officials said they did not plan to include mention of the tax increases under consideration.

Taken together, the developments reflected an eagerness by congressional Democrats in both houses to meet a self-imposed deadline of having health care legislation to the floor of both houses of Congress by summer. President Barack Obama has made the issue one of his top priorities.

Maybe he's pushing too soon for this. Maybe he should be seriously considering building the Democratic party with his legions of followers in his separate organization before he blows his chance at making some meaningful change - and screws up our chances for building bigger majorities where we won't need to count on Blue Dog Dems for support - let them hang out in the steam room with the Republicans.

Neither the Senate Finance Committee outline nor the list of tax options under review by House Democrats was made public. The Associated Press obtained copies of both.

"There's no doubt in my mind we're going to get a bipartisan bill," Baucus told reporters as he emerged from a meeting with a small group of Republicans he referred to as a "coalition of the willing."

If Single Payer isn't on the table - all you will have is a bipartisan transfer of even more wealth to the health care industry.

The senior Republican on the Finance Committee was not nearly as bullish.

"I'm still at the table. I wouldn't be at the table if I didn't think there was some hope for it," said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. "But tomorrow it could be an entirely different story."

According to a 10-page outline that described the proposal, federal subsidies would be available to help families up to 300 percent of poverty, or $66,000, purchase insurance. An earlier proposal set the level at 400 percent of poverty, or $88,000.

What good will subsidies do for people with little to no money at the end of the month - who are already going bankrupt!

At the same time, the new outline could require higher out of pocket costs from individuals because companies would be permitted to offer policies that cover less of an insured's anticipated medical costs than was earlier proposed.

Once again - a sh*tty idea for people who already can't afford to buy meds because their insurance already costs too must now!

Many Democrats want the government to be able to offer insurance in competition with the private industry, a provision they say would hold down costs. But most Republicans are opposed.

Screw them - they aren't in the majority anymore. I think our Dems have no "testicular fortitude" to tell the Republicans and the health care lobby that their business model doesn't work anymore - and it's time for a new patient-centered business model. That if we don't fix health care NOW, their won't be anyone who can afford their products and services in years to come. It's time to think long-term survival, not just this year's massive bonus.

The outline presented at meeting with Republicans left the matter open, but suggested creation of nonprofit co-ops to offer insurance, rather than the government. The co-ops could accept federal loans for startup operations, but would have to repay the money.

Similarly, the outline leaves open the question of requiring larger employers to provide insurance.

As an alternative, it suggests requiring companies to pay a portion of the cost of insurance for lower income workers not offered coverage at work.

While Baucus supports a tax on health benefits, Obama opposed it in last year's presidential campaign and attacked his rival, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for proposing it.

Administration officials have refrained from criticizing it in recent weeks, but organized labor is opposed, fearing it would mean higher taxes for some of its members.

Congressional aides say Democrats are eager to exempt union contracts from the proposed tax, but Republicans want to include them. In its most recent form, the proposal would impose a tax on plans in which the combined employer and employee premiums are above about $17,000.

That would raise an estimated $270 billion over a decade, less if union-negotiated plans were exempt.

(This version CORRECTS that list of possible tax increases includes soda tax of 10 cents per can and employer tax of 3 percent of health care costs.))

Once again - why is no one delivering the figures that would show how Universal Single-Payer would cover all Americans for the same amount or less than what we are spending to deliver spotty health care that misses 50 million Americans? Is it because Congress cares so much for the jobs and bank accounts of people affiliated with the health care industry ALONE vs the jobs and bank accounts of 50 million or more Americans?

As elections near and the issue of health care tops opinion polls as the most pressing domestic issue, various proposals for universal health care are circulating. The bipartisan NCHC looked at four options: employer mandates, extending existing federal programs like Medicaid to all those uninsured, creating a new federal program for the uninsured, and single-payer national health insurance. All the options saved billions of dollars compared to the current system, but single payer was by far the winner, saving more than $100 billion a year.

With all the support and all the good reasons to adopt universal health care, why don't we have it yet? Why do politicians refuse to talk about the solution people want?

It could be the fact that the health care industry, the top spender on Capitol Hill, spent $183.3 million on lobbying just in the second half of 2005, according to And in the 2003–2004 election cycle, they spent $123.7 million on election campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Politicians dread the propaganda barrage and political fallout that surrounded the failed Clinton health care plan. But in the years since, health care costs have outpaced growth in wages and inflation by huge margins, Americans have joined the ranks of the uninsured at the rate of 2 million each year, and businesses are taking a major competitiveness hit as they struggle to pay rising premiums.

Single-payer plans eliminate the $300 billion to $400 billion that insurance companies spend annually in administrative overhead and waste. Second, single-payer plans are best positioned to take on the enormous challenge of reducing or eliminating the financial incentives that have led to so much overtreatment and undertreatment.

The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee access to health care as a right of citizenship. 28 industrialized nations have single payer universal health care systems, while 1 (Germany) has a multipayer universal health care system like President Clinton proposed for the United States.

Universal Single-Payer or some form of health care for all is on the platform or resolutions of damn near every precinct, county, district or state Democratic Party. So why in the hell are they telling us it's not politically feasible?

A 2007 AP-Yahoo poll asked respondents whether they agreed with this statement: "The United States should adopt 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 whopping 65 percent said yes to that question. By political standards, this is a landslide. It is time for Congress to pay attention to the voters, not the well-funded lobbyists.

I want to see what gutless Dems in Congress come back to NC this year and ask us for their support in defeating the Republicans. We turned NC blue and helped Obama win. We have majorities in both houses of Congress - including damn near a veto-proof majority in the Senate! What more do these people need before they can give US what WE want!

Chris Telesca

Motivations for creating this new blog - deja vu all over again!

Most of you may know that I am very active in the verified voting movement. Part of my reason for getting involved was that I saw people take positions on voting matters that were very peculiar. It wasn't that they held different opinions than those I held on voting and other matters - it was why they held those positions.

With very few exceptions, the people I associate with are very intelligent people who hold opinions which are largely well thought out. But on issues that are very technical or detail oriented, many people tend to glaze over and defer to people - especially in the Progressive movement - who they respect or maybe even know personally. IRV is a perfect example of this. Even when you show someone that IRV doesn't do something others claim it does - they don't want to believe it.

So it made me wonder - why do people trust the opinions of others without checking the facts, and still hold those opinions when the facts disprove the basis for their opinion? Do we have too many sources of information for us to be able to weigh the value of the information - and just rely on networking and personal relationships - or even "truthiness" to form our opinions?

And what of the motivations of those people who work for non-profit and non-governmental organzations - and also those people who fund those groups? For example, we know that the health care industry created faux astro-turf groups with names that suggested they were for improving health care in order to battle the Clinton health care reforms of the early 1990s. Is it that much of a stretch to imagine that voting machine companies or the health care industrty would create foundations to fund NPO/NGOs to influence or even divide progressive thought to prevent the formation of a real grassroots movement to deliver real election, health care or other reforms?

For that matter, could elected officials build separate grassroots organizations which are parallel to political parties, that give people the feeling that they are doing something when they are in fact doing very little? Is this being done to prevent people from really joining together in a political party where they realize they have leverage and power to influence government and elected officials that pose a threat to the elected officials themselves? What if the political parties consent to being taken over by these parallel organizations that are really responsible to the politicians and not to the rank and file grassroots members and officers of the political party?

To me it looks a lot like those kiddie car seats I sat in as a child - ridding up front with my dad. I had a steering wheel, turn signal and horn - just like daddy had. And it made me feel like I was really steering the car. Of course we all know that I wasn't really driving the car - my dad was. Nothing I was doing had any real effect on what was happening. My dad determined where we went, how fast or slow we drove - he had all the control. But it sure made me feel like I had something to do with it - until I got old enough to know better.