Cleaning Up Chicago and Calling Out for Champions

April 22, 2010

Unsustainable energy sources are so 40 years ago but they continue to feed the need and in the process, muck up our lives and our planet.

Recently, IMPs met up with one of the leaders of the Chicago Clean Power Coalition Becky Clayborn at the April meeting of PDA Illinois. Clayborn, also of the Sierra Club, pointed out the deadly health and environmental risks of coal-fired power plants in the United States and in Chicago.

Specifically, the Fisk and Crawford plants on the South and near South West side of Chicago. These two plants have caused major health problems in their surrounding communities of Pilsen and Little Village.

“They have the highest population of individuals around these two coal-fired power plants in Chicago than of any other coal-fired power plant in America,” Clayborn said.

Among the many noxious toxins that these plants belch out, it’s the fine particulate matter that becomes disturbingly deeply embedded.

“Basically, it’s as if the inside of your lungs have been sunburned,” Clayborn said.

Ouch.

These particles can also be carried over long distances by wind and then settle on ground or water. This settlement makes lakes and streams acidic; changes the nutrient balance in coastal waters and large river basins; depletes the nutrients in soil; damages sensitive forests and farm crops; and affects the diversity of ecosystems.

Ouch, pt.2

Clayborn also discussed the plans to pass a new Chicago-Clean Power Ordinance that would significantly reduce these harmful emissions from Chicago’s coal plants, championed by Alderman Joe Moore of the 49th Ward.

At his April 13 City Hall press conference in front of nearly 200 supporters from a variety of environmental, social justice, health and neighborhood organizations Moore said:

“We’re asking these plants to do business in a way that does not endanger the health of Chicago’s citizens,” said Alderman Moore. “I’m asking my fellow council members to protect public health and improve Chicagoan’s quality of life by voting for the Clean Power Ordinance.”

UPDATE:
Here’s Moore himself at PDA’s May meeting asking for our support in getting our Alderpeople on board this historic city ordinance. “Chicago can lead the way.”
Go Joe!

This kind of pollution does not respect Ward boundaries, so good on every member who signs on.

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Strength, Strategy and Donna Smith

April 15, 2010

The fight continues in earnest for health care for all.

Activists from across the whole bleeding state of Illinois, including representatives from
PDA, CNA, Chi-SPAN, Champaign County Health Care Consumers and other members of the Illinois Single Payer Coalition gathered at Augustana Church in President Obama’s old Hyde Park neighborhood to talk about health care.
The consensus was:

We ain’t done yet!

We can do better and we can do more.

Specifically, to keep pushing hard for a single payer plan, like Medicare, improved and expanded to everyone. That’s the path to true health care parity. There is a heapin’ helping of piece of mind down that road and more and more Americans are taking up the fight to take the profit motive out of health care access.

We met a roomful of quality leaders and fighters that are more than up for the task.

Here are some snappy highlights with some big name cameo appearances, including Doc Young who recently wrote so eloquently at HuffPo

“Single-payer Medicare for All is the reform that’s required. Just like almost all other major areas of progress in American life, fundamental health reform requires a movement based on equity, justice, prudence and
science that is free of market greed. That movement today is single payer.”

Yup.

Here is a great conversation with PDA Illinois Chair-Maestro Bill Bianchi and buddy Donna Smith that inspires great hope for the future of the single payer movement and shows the strength and insight of two friends from Chicago fighting for all of us.

Boy, did IMPs miss ya!

Now meet all the member organizations that made this meeting a success.

Rah indeed!

Access Living

Downstate Democrats for Change

Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP)

National Nurses Organizing Commitee(NNOC)

American Medical Student Association (AMSA)

OWL-National Older Women’s League

Progressive Democrats of America Illinois Chapter(PDA)

Chicago Single Payer Action Network

Health Care for All Illinois

Gray Panthers

AFSCME: American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees

APJ: Aurora Peace and Justice

APU: American Patients United americanpatientsunited.org

CAEC: Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign chicagoantieviction.org

CCHCC: Champaign County Health Care Consumers www.healthcareconsumers.org

ChiSPAN: Chicago Single-Payer Action Network-chispan.org

DP: Democratic Party

FVCPJ: Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice

HC-N: Healthcare-Now www.healthcare-now.org

IMM: Illinois Media Progressives (Hi!)

IGP: Illinois Green Party ilgp.org

ISPC: Illinois Single-Payer Coalition ilsinglepayercoalition.org

JASC: Jane Addams Senior Caucus

LC: Longhouse Coalition www.longhousecoalition.org

NAARPO: National Alliance Against Racism and Political Oppression

NNOC/CAN/NNU: National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association/National Nurses Union www.guaranteedhealthcare.org

PDA: Progressive Democrats of America

SADA: Springfield Area Disability Activists


Ain’t it grand to have so many friends!


Zen Master Larry

December 22, 2009

From Donna Smith:
“Larry says it feels a little like healthcare reform.”

“The path looks promising at first (maybe the mail came) but then it leads to nothing but retreat and defeat.
This is what our ice and snow look like in Maryland this morning.
Larry wanted me to share his thoughts and his photo.”

IMPs remembers before the snow fell, when no one dared even speak the words “single payer” much less on the Senate floor; when no one in Washington could even imagine protesting physicians, nurses and activists arrested at the Capitol and a Senator calling for more police, and when the American public still believed its elected officials represented their interests before those of corporations.

We’ve all learned quite a bit this year.

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Moron Bites Back: Rich Miller’s Revisionist History

December 9, 2009

An astute IMP reader informed us of “Capitol Fax” uber-blogger Rich Miller’s foray yesterday into the land of adolescent personality politics.

And it seems to be well worn ground for Miller, at least where it comes to one gentleman.

Apparently Rich has fashioned himself as an authority on Civil War politics, specifically Ole Abe himself, and has used/is using that hyper-inflated belief in an attempt to smear an individual for voicing an opinion over three years ago.

That individual would be one John Laesch, former Congressional candidate in IL-14 district.

John, if you don’t recall, came within a handful of votes of winning IL-14’s 2008 Democratic general primary, despite being outspent 17-1 by the eventual victor, Bill Foster.
Less than 1/2 of 1 percent, in a honest-to-gawd grass roots campaign.

So Rich Miller, who has shown an amazing amount of competence in bringing news of Springfield’s chicanery and general goings-on to the masses, apparently decided attacking John Laesch was worthy of the day’s news, and re-posted, in the words of commenter “How Diasappointing”, an “isolated soundbite” of video of Laesch at a campaign event over three years ago.

The clip, originally posted on a Laesch smear site on YouTube, is an 18 second excerpt from 2006, where Laesch suggests that President Lincoln acted predominantly upon economic, rather than moral concerns when issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.

Miller’s transcription of the clip:

“Abraham Lincoln, I don’t know if you know this, he didn’t [free the slaves] for the right reason, social justice. He just did it because so many white people were out of work because they couldn’t compete with slave labor.”

Miller finds that prospect, or we should say, that isolated video soundbite amusing, and when challenged by a commenter on his site,

– How Disappointing – Tuesday, Dec 8, 09 @ 4:22 pm:

Wow, Mr. Miller, personal attack politics do not become you…BTW, I do love isolated sound-bites that lead to historical discussions in the comments. Perhaps you could tell us, since you saw fit to try and ridicule Mr. Laesch for his opinion, what the impact of slave labor was, and please detail the evolution of Mr. Lincoln’s position regarding slavery as a moral question. Feel free to cite historians of note.

I’m assuming you must have this information, no?

Rich responds in a fit of rhetorical maturity:

– Rich Miller – Tuesday, Dec 8, 09 @ 4:32 pm:

HD, I’ve read quite a lot of Lincoln history, so I think I’d put my perspective up against yours any day. To defend Laesch’s moronic statement is just goofy, especially considering that legalizing slavery was an active subject in Illinois up to and during Lincolns tenure in the Illinois House and he fought against it.

So, bite me, moron.

The commenter responded:

– How Diappointing – Tuesday, Dec 8, 09 @ 5:42 pm:

Never suggested any expertise in the period-but figured you must, since you saw fit to try and ridicule someone else’s opinion.

Please do provide cites, and why you feel they are the most accurate historical works…And the use of sound bites from political attack sites is not only poor journalism, it’s also reflective of the poster’s personal integrity.

(Please feel free to read the –whole thread– IMPs is happy to drive traffic to Rich’s site for this one) There were 45 comments when he closed the thread last evening.

So IMPs, not well-versed in 19th century American history, (not unlike the commenter) turned to teh almighty Google which took exactly .31 seconds to return this piece, published in the New York Review of Books earlier this year.

Esteemed Northwestern University Professor Garry Wills reviewed a book edited by esteemed Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (yes, President Obama’s beer buddy) on Abraham Lincoln’s own words on racism and slavery.

Prof. Wills:

So deep was Lincoln’s belief in a free market of labor that he condemned slavery for impinging on the free whites’ right to the fruits of their work. The slave owners’ profits from the unrequited toil of their slaves gave them an advantage over those who paid their workers, making the latter less competitive than they would otherwise be. One of the reasons Lincoln wanted to keep slavery from the territories was to protect the opportunities of free white workers…

.31 seconds. Love technology.

So intellectually, Rich’s attempt to smear Laesch is unsound to say the least, and although we will acknowledge that a young candidate’s attempt to shorthand a complex issue was somewhat clunky, we also acknowledge that Laesch’s point is in fine intellectual company in the ongoing historical debate as to Lincoln’s motives.

The exchange between Miller and the commenter continued, with highlights including Miller’s use of the words “sillyness”, “moronic”, and a plea in defense of the right to make fun of people. All in a rather blood-bathy string of comments, in which even Georgia (Georgia10, former front-pager for Daily Kos, now an employee of the Gianoullias’ campaign) felt need to jump in to defend her credentials.

IMPs knows politics is not a business for the faint of heart or willowy of spine, but we wonder, why John Laesch?

-As Miller was attempting to hold Laesch up to ridicule to reflect upon the gentleman for whom he now works, one hypothesis suggests his loyalties could lie with the opposing camp.

-A less strategic and base musing is that Miller holds some personal vitriol for the man.

-And the armchair guess following a few libations was that Rich, once the outsider blogging voice for Springfield, has become entrenched in the “inside the corn-belt-way thinking” that he had initially charged himself with exposing, and is well on his way to becoming part of that problem.

Feel free, at this point, to infer that IMPs holds John Laesch in high regard, which is true, and we are few of many (31,587 Democratic voters within IL-14 alone).

But we offer full disclosure – before IMPs was IMPs, we had occasion to work for John Laesch, primarily because of his political courage and intestinal fortitude to run on what IMPs considers the obvious: that a single payer, expanded and improved Medicare for All solution to our nation’s health care crisis was, and still is, the only fiscally and morally responsible reform.

But this was only one plank of a platform that included fair, not free trade with a focus on jobs, and (as a Navy veteran), strong opposition to Bush’s Iraq war, investment in green energy and locally, opposition to the Hastert highway.

This was while his opponent was hawking biometric national ID cards as an immigration solution.

John’s positions were consistently measured against the obvious, that Illinois families are hurting (which is still horribly true).

His campaign inspired many to become further involved in politics, including a few of his old staff who have run for office themselves. And for IMPs, anyway, we were moved to take a serious look at his present employer’s campaign after John became involved, because we knew there would be a strong voice in support of Illinois’ working families. They are hurting, you know.

But none of this is apparently relevant to Rich Miller, who takes more delight in channeling his nine year-old self.

The question as to why remains open, but since our political encounter with John Laesch, IMPs is proud and honored to count him among our most trusted and respected friends, which is why we feel a compelling need to stand against what would appear to be chronic, coordinated character defamation.

And this is unfortunately old news. During his last run for Congress, Laesch was also at the receiving end of one of the most vicious smear campaigns IMPs has witnessed, and Miller took the low road back then too in not taking a strong stand against the politics of personal destruction.

The three year old smear site on YouTube that Miller chooses to reference is also a little peculiar in its following:

Rich, you’re on the wrong side of history on this one, and you owe John Laesch an apology.

cross posted at Progressive Fox

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For Those Disenfranchised, We Salute You.

December 8, 2009

President Obama had a meeting of the minds last week at the White House Jobs Summit.
The minds included the chief executives of top companies including Google, Disney, FedEx, a handful of small business leaders, as well as economists Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs and topping it off with the mayors of Des Moines, San Antonio and Allentown.
Their mission: To get our economy back to pre-recession levels.

According to White House advisor Valerie Jarrett when she appeared on “Good Morning America“, discussions in the job summit will focus on infrastructure, small jobs, exports, green jobs and “innovative ways to retool our workforce.”
But how to retool a workforce that is mostly out of work is a big head scratcher even for these big minds.
Nearly 1 in 5 Americans is either out of work or under-employed.

Hard working Americans are hardly working as the middle class continues to disintegrate.

Quoth Daffy Duck: “And brother, when it disintegrates-it disintegrates!”

And quoth Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the banking bailouts, in HuffPo: :

While the middle class has been caught in an economic vise, the financial industry that was supposed to serve them has prospered at their expense. Consumer banking — selling debt to middle class families — has been a gold mine. Boring banking has given way to creative banking, and the industry has generated tens of billions of dollars annually in fees made possible by deceptive and dangerous terms buried in the fine print of opaque, incomprehensible, and largely unregulated contracts.

And when various forms of this creative banking triggered economic crisis, the banks went to Washington for a handout. All the while, top executives kept their jobs and retained their bonuses. Even though the tax dollars that supported the bailout came largely from middle class families — from people already working hard to make ends meet — the beneficiaries of those tax dollars are now lobbying Congress to preserve the rules that had let those huge banks feast off the middle class.

And Salon’s Angela Blackwell who is also jumping up and down and pointing “Over here Mr. President! LOOK!”

Decades of disinvestment in many American communities has left us reeling. We are wasting the most precious resource we have — the ingenuity and hard work of millions. We need all Americans working on all cylinders to keep our economic engine running. A stagnant economy that leaves millions behind cannot compete in the global marketplace.

So will the way it was be the way it will be?
Remember the good old days?

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“Full of sound and fury…”

November 25, 2009

…but ultimately, it would seem, signifying bupkis.

So goes the threat by the Democratic party leaders to revoke the insurance industry’s anti-trust exemption, as reported by HuffPo.
Given the lackluster negotiating skills displayed so far (as evidenced by the current House bill) we can and should expect any tough talk of revoking the industry’s “special rights” to evaporate like an evening mist on a trucker’s overheated windshield, as the present House bill provision is ground into the pavement like an unfortunate squirrel.

Seems like maybe Sen. Harry Reid might be playing Sen. Ben Nelson who seems to be playing Harry, as they both play their fiddles.
And what’s left? A U.S. Senator duking it out with AHIP spokescreature Robert Zirkelbach for the “Tragic Ironist Du Jour” award.

Sen. Nelson, as reported:

Nelson argues that repealing the exemption wouldn’t hurt the big insurers because they’re already so big they don’t need to collude with each other. Repealing it, he argues, would only hurt the little guys.

And Mr. Zirkelbach:

The focus on this issue is a political ploy designed to distract attention away from the real issue of rising health care costs,”

Hurm…


Because Nothing’s Scarier than a Pediatrician

October 30, 2009

Yesterday Dr. Margaret Flowers was arrested, yet again for trying to have a conversation about single payer.
She was part of a Mobilization for Health Care for All sit-in at a Baltimore CareFirst health insurance office and was arrested with 4 others, one of whom, Charles Loubert, is 81 years old. She and Charles were planning to stay in the hoosegow until the CEO of CareFirst, Chet Burrell, agreed to a public meeting with her.

Here are Margaret’s own words on risking arrest for single payer:

In short, I am going to be arrested again because I believe that it is my professional responsibility to advocate on behalf of those who can’t and because it is clear that the other traditional advocacy tools are not working. The phrase that runs continuously through my mind is “To be silent is to be complicit.” I cannot be complicit in the face of an industry that profits at the cost of human lives and in the face of an administration and Congress that are too dysfunctional to stop this practice.

Apparently, this mother of three is pretty scary, because despite Margaret and Charles’ efforts, the authorities got spooked and would not keep this pediatrician in the pokey. In fact, they wanted rid of her.
In a message from Margaret:

Margaret Flowers is home because Central Booking in Baltimore would not send me to jail. Our presence caused quite a stir – not the usual arrestee – and they weren’t sure what to do with us. A long day but we are all well and ready to continue!”

Boo!

As you may know, Dr. Margaret first felt the zip-ties around her wrists in Washington D.C. as part of the Baucus 8, a group of doctors and advocates who stood up in Sen. Max Baucus’ Senate finance hearing on health care, with a simple question: Why are there seats for the insurance industry but not a single seat for single payer?

One by one the activists stood up from their seats-in the audience, and asked the question. No answer was given. The gavel was rapped repeatedly for order.
Dr. Margaret Flowers stood up. She wanted to talk about single payer as a solution. She wanted to talk about why she can’t care for her patients because of corporate bureaucracy.
But she was promptly escorted out of the room, put into a paddy wagon and charged with disorderly conduct for disrupting a Congressional hearing.
Max didn’t want to talk.
Soon Sen. Baucus found he could not continue the hearing with the interruptions from the crowd and asked for “more police.”
Donna Smith wrote about what she saw that day, eloquently and from the heart as usual.

This day the doctors of the Baucus 8 acted as they always have and always do – they acted in the best interests of the patient. Even though they were facing legal consequences for protesting the lack of a single payer voice in Congress and even though they had their own concerns, they quite literally dropped everything and acted on our behalf.
For me, this evidence of professional integrity and commitment spoke even more loudly to their message about healthcare reform. For Senator Baucus, this is a political process which will feather his cap and pad his coffers ever so comfortably if he keeps the for-profit interests protected and enhanced through this health reform legislative process. His health and his standing in life are safe and secure in ways most of us can only imagine – yet he would deny that health security to all Americans.

This “political process” to which Sen. Baucus subscribes, allows 45,000 Americans to die each year.

Reality is simply more terrifying.
Happy Halloween.

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