ANTIWAR DEMS WHIPPED:
There’s no way to put a positive spin on a House vote in which Democrats–many of whom were elected as antiwar candidates–provided the overwhelming majority of support for allocating $106 billion in additional funds to maintain the occupation of Iraq and expand the US presence in Afghanistan. But what made the June 16 vote on the supplemental appropriations bill (226-202) doubly disappointing was the fact that the Obama administration and its Congressional allies attached a measure that enables the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to extend its line of credit by $100 billion–with the actual cost to the United States estimated at around $5 billion but potentially much more.
The IMF, with its long history of structurally adjusting poor countries into deeper poverty, deserves no favors from the United States, as the antipoverty advocacy group
made abundantly clear during the debate. And as economist
has noted, much of this latest money will likely be used to bail out European banks. So why would progressive Democrats back this bad bill? Immense pressure from the White House and Speaker
got 221 Democrats to sign on, including almost a score of progressives who had opposed a previous version of the supplemental.
To their credit, thirty-two Democrats voted “no” for the right reasons–mostly opposition to the direction of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars but also frustration with backdoor bank bailouts. Ohio Congressman
get high marks for raising the alarm about the IMF line of credit in a letter to colleagues. But the real heroes were the freshmen members–such as Colorado’s
–who withstood some of the most aggressive lobbying yet by an administration that, at least on issues of war and global finance, could do with a lot more checking and balancing from Congress. JOHN NICHOLS
GREENLAND’S LEFT TURN:
On June 2 the incongruous forces of global warming and indigenous self-determination combined to bring the leftist
(IA) to power in Greenland, forcing a social democratic/conservative coalition out of office on the eve of the nation’s transition to self-rule. Greenland, a semiautonomous Arctic province of Denmark with a population of about 57,600, has been disproportionately affected by global warming, which has made large swaths of its permafrost-covered landmass increasingly accessible to oil and mineral exploration for the first time.
Emboldened by the prospect of resource-driven self-sufficiency, more than 75 percent of Greenland voters opted in November for increased devolution from Denmark, which has controlled the country since the early eighteenth century. Self-rule measures, including greater control over natural resources and a switch from Danish to Greenlandic as the national language, are due to come into effect on June 21 and will likely pave the way for a vote on full independence in the near future. In advance of Greenland’s empowerment, former Prime Minister
of the social democratic
, which had run the island since it was granted limited autonomy in 1979, called an early election because, “it seems fitting to ask the people who should lead them into that new epoch.”
Greenlanders chose to award a plurality–fourteen of thirty-one seats in the Parliament–to the pro-independence IA Party. Speaking in the capital, Nuuk, where close to a quarter of the island’s population lives, IA leader
told jubilant supporters, “Greenland deserves this.” CORBIN HIAR
FREE SPEECH TV:
Starting June 29 HBO will broadcast a documentary featuring libel lawyer
. Shouting Fire: Stories From the Edge of Free Speech, directed by Garbus’s daughter
(1998 Academy Award nominee for The Farm: Angola, USA; she also directed The Nazi Officer’s Wife and produced Ghosts of Abu Ghraib), describes the state of free speech in America, with Martin Garbus serving as guide. Among the subjects: the case of
, the University of Colorado professor who was brought up on academic charges for his caustic comments on victims of 9/11 and for alleged plagiarism.
Dr. Linda Farley
said, “The uninsured die because they don’t have insurance,” she knew of what she spoke. An emeritus professor in the pioneering Department of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Farley “retired” in 1992 to work virtually full time as a volunteer physician in community health centers and to supervise medical students at a Salvation Army clinic for the homeless. That work–combined with her long experience providing care on Indian reservations, managing inner-city clinics and rural medi- cal practices, and helping set up training programs for doctors and nurses in the United States and abroad–led Dr. Farley to become one of the country’s most passionate advocates of single-payer healthcare.
Along with her friend and comrade
, Dr. Farley (and her husband, Gene, also a doctor) helped build
Physicians for a National Health Care Program
from a small circle of activists into a movement of 16,000 healthcare professionals that is now at the forefront of real healthcare reform. Active to the last days of her battle with cancer, which took her life on June 9 at age 80, Dr. Farley followed the current debate with a mix of hope and frustration. She delighted in the activism of younger physicians–some of whom were arrested in protests seeking to force Congress to put single-payer on the table. But with the wisdom of a movement elder, she warned against half-steps and compromises. “The doctors who have been on the front lines can tell you,” Dr. Farley said, “there’s only one real ‘public option.’ It’s single-payer.” JOHN NICHOLS
, a long-thriving group of Nation supporters, has entered the digital world with a robust social networking site powered by
, a popular new online service. This network, a community of the magazine’s readers who gather online to discuss issues and share activist strategies with like-minded people, will also regularly feature position papers developed by the many Nation Associates discussion groups operating coast to coast. The first report, published by the lively Michigan discussion group, chronicles ways to fix our broken electoral system. Read it at nationdiscussion.ing.com.