Friday, May 28, 2010

More socialism, less bureaucracy!

By Cliff Colpitts

For the past two years I have attempted to get dental care here in this neck of the woods, Sheboygan, Wisconsin. It is either cash, or if you are very, very lucky charity.

I had Medicaid for a short time, but not one private dentist would see me because they all claimed that Medicaid would not pay enough - even to pull one tooth. And I phoned almost every single dentist in Sheboygan.

At this time, I have three left above the gums that must go, and six that are impacted beneath the gums. And an actual physician has told me that the next abscess I have might very well affect my heart itself.

I tried the Veterans Administration but to no avail. One of the strange aspects of the Veterans Administrations is that in terms of medical treatment the organization will treat every single aspect of your medical conditions, but not the teeth. Dental treatment must be service connected. What does that mean? Well, that means that they would be willing to give me a liver transplant at a phenomenally high cost, but not put ten teeth! So it is not a money problem, it is a bureaucracy problem that goes all the way up to Congress. Believe it or not, because of Congress, I can get a new liver but not have ten teeth pulled.

In this particular case, the inner commitment is not there because of rules and regulations from above, and because our leaders, along with our society does not have a social commitment when it comes to medicine. Our AVP video informs us that the United States is number 37 from the top on the medical care for its citizen list and we are the richest country on Earth, and we spend more on health care than any other country on Earth.

Another bureaucracy I had dealings with is the dental school at Marquette University. They have a charity line that is too long and only open once a year. And dealing with their bureaucracy is mind-boggling. You would think that they are shelling out gold.

If you want to learn about ritualistic behavior, let your teeth go and get on the charity line at Marquette University, or better yet if you are a lucky United States Veteran, try talking to a Veterans Administration dentist.

The problem is not just one bureaucracy; it is an attitude that our society has involving the concept of socialism. If our culture allowed more true socialism into our society, we would move from that infamous 37 to the top of the list.

In terms of medicine, and this is just two aspects of productivity, billions of dollars would be saved because of not losing work hours due to illness. And billions ff dollars would be saved because of easy access to preventative medical care.

If we had more socialism in our cultures, there would be less forced ritualistic behavior because the folks at most medical bureaucracies would be able to say, “Come on in and get those teeth fixed,” and not “Get lost pauper!”

Based on mathematics and an ingrained fear of something in our culture, at least one of my readers must be thinking, “That punk must be a communist.” Let me look inside my wallet and make sure. Yep, it is still there. And it is beautiful, unlike the ten rotten teeth in my mouth (I am open for debate.)

32 arrested at ICE offices, say immigration reform can’t wait

By John Bachtell
CHICAGO – Saying comprehensive immigration reform could wait no longer, 32 labor, religious, and community leaders and an elected official were arrested after blocking Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices May 25. The civil disobedience was part of a national week of action aimed getting stalled legislation moving in Congress.

The protesters, who carried sacks of money symbolizing the contributions of immigrants to the US economy, also condemned the anti-immigration law SB 1070 passed in Arizona and threats by ICE to step up immigration enforcement in Illinois.

“We can’t fix this economy as long as 12 million workers are forced to live in the shadows, without any rights and subject to exploitation,” said Eliseo Medina, Executive Vice President of Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “All workers have the same rights and responsibilities and we can only get that through comprehensive immigration reform.”

Medina blasted Republicans in the US Senate for holding up immigration reform and said they shouldn’t expect any votes from the immigrant community in November, “not even for dog catcher.”

Many of those being arrested expressed dismay over the policy of deportations of undocumented workers being carried out by the Obama Administration. If the current rate of deportations keeps up, over 400,000 people will be deported this year, more than under the Bush administration.

While the Obama administration maintains Homeland Security and ICE are targeting unscrupulous employers and those who have committed crimes, trade union leaders are saying otherwise.

Keith Kelleher is president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana, which represents workers in hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies and childcare. He said many SEIU members were being caught up in the sweeps and background checks.

“There needs to be comprehensive immigration reform and we can’t wait any longer. That’s why I’m getting arrested. We need these deportations to stop. Everyday 1,100 families are broken up,” said Kelleher. He and others termed the federal government’s immigration strategy a failure.

“The families in my district who are being ripped apart by old and broken laws can’t wait,” said Chicago Alderman George Cardenas. “The workers can’t wait. Our economy can’t wait. You don’t throw $1.5 trillion down the drain in a recession.” Cardenas was referring to the amount of money immigrant workers will add to the US economy if reform passes.

“Legality. Rules. Passports and security on the border. Those are issues. But the real issue is people looking for a better life. God made the world for everybody. Not just for you and me and the United States,” said Father Bill Brennan, a 90 year-old Jesuit priest from Milwaukee who was arrested.

“It’s a travesty what happened in Arizona. They’re trying to divide working people and blame the downturn in the economy on immigrants when it should be blamed on Wall Street and LaSalle Street,” said Richard Berg, former president of Teamsters Local 743.

Carl Rosen, Western Regional President of the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers (UE) was arrested along with Armando Robles the President of UE Local 1110 and leader of the Republic Windows and Doors occupation in 2008. Rosen said current immigration policy of deportations was doing far more damage to the American economy than good.

“The people being arrested today are showing with their bodies the level of concern we have. No more business as usual at ICE. No more deportations,” said Rosen.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Protest swarms Chicago City Hall to stop teacher layoffs

By John Bachtell

CHICAGO- Over 4000 teachers, parents and students completely surrounded City Hall May 25 demanding no teacher layoffs and funding cuts to the city’s public schools. The crowd grew so big several streets were shut down during rush hour traffic.

“We’re here to protest the cuts and putting 37 children in a classroom. There will be no learning and teaching done,” said Mark Ochoa, Financial Secretary of the Chicago Teachers Union. “There are classrooms with 37 students – they’re called phys ed classes in gyms.”

The outpouring was the latest and biggest protest reflecting the growing anger and frustration since Chicago Public Schools chief Ron Huberman announced layoffs of 3,000 teachers to close a $600 million budget gap.

The Illinois legislature passed a budget the same day without significant help to the schools. The state is already $1 billion behind in payments to local school districts.

“They don’t care about working class people,” said Marilyn Stewart, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, referring to CPS administration and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. “They only care about money and power. And they think you don’t have any power. Do you have power?” They crowd responded with a resounding, “Yes!”

“Do you vote?” Yes, responded the crowd. “Are you pleased with Mayor Daley and the state legislature?” No the crowd said. “Will you vote in November?” Yes, they said.

Teachers and education advocates are calling on Daley to take money from the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) accounts to fund education. TIFs have accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars by siphoning off property tax monies that would have gone to public education in the first place but end up in development projects instead.

One recently displaced high school history teacher said with 35 children to a classroom little learning would take place. It only takes a year or two to damage or destroy a child’s education and students fall behind for years.

“They are cutting 275,000 teachers nationwide. The damage to this nation is inconceivable. And the money’s all going to Afghanistan,” he said bitterly.

“Less teachers means less teaching and that’s the bottom line,” said Willis Neiderfrank, one of three teachers laid off at Ariel Community Academy. Neiderfrank said this was the first time ever his school had experienced layoffs.

Teachers weren’t the only public workers protesting. They were joined by some of the 1,200 laid off city transit workers. Bus driver Courtney Walker said, “We’re here to save these kids from overcrowded classrooms and so we can get our jobs back. And in November we all will be voting!”

Another transit worker said, “Today we’re marching with the teachers so they will support us. It’s going to take federal funding to save our schools and jobs.”

A group of students from King College Prep High School attended the protest together with their parents. One student told the People’s World, “They shouldn’t do all the cuts because we won’t learn anything. It’ll be a waste of time. It’s going to take more of us supporting each other and our teachers to stop it.”

Vincent Hare, a fourth grade student at Beasley Academic Center said “There are already 34 students in my classroom. With more cuts I probably won’t learn anything.”

Students from across the city have been walking out of classes on a weekly basis to protest the teacher layoffs and elimination of junior varsity sports programs. Several hundred had attended a “study in” on May 24 at Federal Plaza.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rand Paul

Is Rand Paul a: prejudiced, b: a chauvinist, c: a racist?

First we should define these three words in context with the discussion.

Chauvinism - unreasoning devotion to ones race, sex, etc. with contempt for other races, sex, etc.

Prejudices - suspicion, intolerance, or irrational hatred of other races, sex, creeds, regions, occupations, etc.

Racism - any programs or practices of discrimination and segregation that uphold the political or economic domination of one race over another or others.

(definitions from Webster’s New world College Dictionary)

Now lets consider the question(s) at hand considering recent comments of Rand Paul.

a. Is Rand Paul a chauvinist?

He says he is not. Absent any defining “macaque” moment, the question, in and of itself, will stand answered by his denial: for now.

b. Is Rand Paul prejudiced?

He says he is not. Ditto the “macaque” statement above.

c. Is Rand Paul a racist?

Yes. He is. His statements concerning his opposition to Federal laws that protect African-Americans against "programs or practices that uphold political or economic domination of one race over another or others" brands him.

Racist Jim Crow laws and culture - "program or practice" - existed throughout the country before the passage of the Civil Rights Law. The consequences their existence amounted to the uninterrupted "economic or political" domination of African-Americans going back to the earliest days of our nation.

Racist "programs or practices", first and foremost, are sources of power and profit - "political or economic" - and those who support them have been the most ardent and consistent opponents of Federal laws that put those sources out of reach. Here is where we may revisit questions a and b above and challenge Rand Paul’s denial of chauvinism and prejudice. How else can his opposition to laws that provide relief and protection from “political or economic” super-exploitation for millions of African-American citizens be viewed?

One of the great setbacks of the discourse over equality and justice that has taken place since the passage of the Civil Rights Law is the success those who benefit from racist "programs or practices" have had in redefining racism as a prejudice and/or chauvinism. A subjective state of mind rather than one of design represented by "program or practice."

These days we hear talk of black racism, even among some who should know better, as if the African-American community as a whole is or has ever been in any position to institute any "program or practice" that would lead to any level of "political or economic domination" of the white population. It is akin to saying a round square is a geometric figure. It is a lie created to hide the truth and the facts of the consequences of racism. Consequences that do harm to all except the seekers of ever more power and profit. Those who, like Rand Paul, lurk under the mantle of respectability while planning the return of “programs or practices of discrimination and segregation that uphold the political or economic domination of one race over another or others.”

Rand Paul is a racist. We as a nation trying to move forward risk much if we shy from the challenge his ilk presents. Although the danger of what he represents is great, he can be dealt with easily. Simply toss him onto history’s trash heap of other aberrant individuals, as we pass it in November, and don’t look back!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Stand against torture rally, May 24

From the Jail Jon Burge Committee

On May 24, 2010, 8:30AM, Daley Center, the Jon Burge Committee (Coalition) will Take A Stand against Torture. Burge and his Detectives rain systematic torture upon African American and Latino men who was taken into police custody at area two and three violent crime units, from 1972 until 1993. Much as 200 men are reported to have made complaints that while at these two police stations they were beat and tortured under the command of Burge and his Detectives. Today 20 of those men remain incarcerated inside some of Illinois most worse State prisons, having to suffer while Burge and his Detective have manage greatly from their pensions as Detectives. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, while in his capacity as Cook County States Attorney, ignored and covered up claims of torture made by some of the men. Daley has repeatedly denied that he knew of claims of torture, despite evidence showing that he was informed of torture in 1982. 19 of the men have been denied or
hindered from hearing on their claims of torture. One of those men is Stanley Wrice, a Pontiac Correctional Center inmate. Wrice has medical evidence to support his claims of torture but has been repeatedly denied a hearing by Cook County Courts.

These acts of torture were motivated by racism which has been greatly down size by Cook County Courts. Burge and his Detectives is allege to have used racism toward his fellow officers and those who were tortured to repeat or sign confessions. Standing outside a newly built library Mayor Daley apologize to the torture victims and apologize that the tortures occurred, but to this day he has not lift one finger to free any of the men, but serve as the prosecutor to place them behind prison walls with long sentences ranging from 40 to the death penalty. These tortures have serve as a insult toward the African American and Latino communities, leaving criminals in society while innocent men have had to suffer from harsh prison conditions. Mark Clements, a 16 year old juvenile was taken to area three violent crime unit in June, 1981, beat and tortured to repeat a confession. He served 28 years behind prison walls. Today in his role as Administrator and
National Board of Director for the Campaign to End the Death penalty, respectfully request for Mayor Daley, all Detectives who work under Jon Burge command who are labeled as Burge Detectives, All Prosecutors who help to cover up these tortures as well as all elected officials who fail to act to correct these tortures and to free the innocent men from Illinois prisons to resign immediately. "I was only a kid, but these detectives did not care, they beat me and the courts fail me", said Mark. This is a society that fight against torture in other countries but has ignored the tortures toward it's on people.

Burge tortures have serve as a insult toward the African American and Latino people. The Jail Jon Burge Committee (Coalition) request media to conduct interviews with some of the torture victims who remain incarcerated and to cover our event on May 24th.

Jail Jon Burge Committee (Coalition)
847-276-1382-Cell Phone

Monday, May 10, 2010

Forclosure crisis hits rental buildings

From Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing

On average more than 125 multi-family buildings in Chicago went into foreclosure each week in 2009

More rental units impacted than owner-occupied units.

CHICAGO-The foreclosure crisis affected thousands more renters than homeowners in the City of Chicago in 2009, according to a report released today by the Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing (LCBH). Lenders filed foreclosure actions on 6,560 multi-family rental properties in the City of Chicago containing a total of 20,691 units. LCBH's Report estimates 3,,000 to 4,000 more rental units were impacted by foreclosure than owner-occupied units during the year.

The Report, "Chicago Apartment Building Foreclosures: Impact on Tenants" sheds light on the issues facing tenants, who continue to be the hidden and innocent victims in the ongoing foreclosure crisis. In addition, the Report identifies Chicago community areas most affected, the lenders with the largest number of foreclosure filings on apartment building, and the rental units these represent.

The in-depth Report on rental property foreclosure sis an outgrowth of LCBH's 2009 "Weekly Foreclosure Reports on Chicago Rental Housing," used by tenant advocates and neighborhood groups to identify rental properties in foreclosure early in the process so as to reach out to affected tenants.

The full report is available online at

Monday, May 3, 2010

Under Pressure: Arizona D-backs Owner Comes Out Softly Against Anti-immigrant bill

By Dave Zirin

First published at

A month ago, very few baseball fans could have identified the name Ken Kendrick (was that the third basemen whose defense stopped Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak? No, that was Ken Keltner.) Now he is known across the land as the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and one of the primary financial backers of the state Republican Party who passed the anti-immigrant Senate Bill 1070, which codifies racial profiling in “the Grand Canyon State”. His team has now morphed into the SB 1070 Traveling Road Show, drawing crowds of protestors to every park from Colorado to Chicago. Since the law was passed, numerous big leaguers and the Major League Players Association have also come out against the already infamous legislation. One of Kendrick’s own players, Augie Ojeda, a US citizen born in Los Angeles, backed the union’s opposition and said, “I don’t know the details, but if I leave the park after a game and I get stopped, am I supposed to have papers with me? I don’t think that’s fair….My neighbor is a policeman. I asked him what it means, and he said he had no idea. If he doesn’t know, I don’t know who would.”

Now Kendrick has emerged from the shadows to disassociate himself and his team from the bill… sort of. He had a team spokesperson release the following statement:

“Although D-backs' Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick has donated to Republican political candidates in the past, the organization has communicated to Arizona Boycott 2010 leader Tony Herrera that Kendrick personally opposes State (sic) Bill 1070.”

The team also released an even more obtuse press release, saying:

“We acknowledge the statement from Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner and share the same concerns of the impact Arizona's immigration law will have on Major League players. However, we believe the federal government should act swiftly to address the immigration issue once and for all. We certainly are well aware of the struggles our state has due to federal inaction on illegal immigration. The fallout of recent state legislation has a direct impact on many of our players, employees and fans in Arizona, not to mention our local businesses, many of which are corporate partners of ours. Unfortunately, this whole situation is sad and disappointing for all of us who are associated with the Arizona Diamondbacks. We remain hopeful that this situation can be resolved in a manner that does not cause harm to our great state."

There are several lessons to be drawn from the above comments. First and foremost, they are concessions. Without the pressure of the Arizona Boycott, the union, and the stadium protests there is no way whatsoever Kendrick releases these statements. Secondly, now is the time to actually step up the protests at the park. We should demand that Ken Kendrick himself stop hiding behind PR flaks and speak to the cameras about his opposition to SB 1070. He should declare that not one more dime from his bottomless pockets will go toward the state Republican Party until SB 1070 is overturned. He should also support the effort to have Major League Baseball remove the All Star Game from Phoenix if SB 1070 is still on the books, no matter the personal financial cost. In other words, he should put his money where his PR director’s mouth is. Until Ken Kendrick takes these, or similar, steps, all recent statements from the team should be seen for what they are: ploys to deflect and cushion the growing national anger toward his team and toward his state. If the D-backs are in your town, get there early with 50 of your closest friends and tell the fans that Arizona has earned pariah status until SB 1070 is filed into the dustbin of history.