Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's not Okay, Scofflaw

By David Swanson

Dr. Margaret Flowers, who was arrested along with seven others at the
first Senate Finance Committee hearing on healthcare, just phoned me
from the second one. As Chairman Max Baucus called the hearing to
order, about 20 members of the California Nurses Association (CNA)
stood and turned their backs on the committee. Pasted on their backs
were signs reading: "Nurses Say: Patients First," "Stop AHIP,"
(referring to health insurance lobbyists), "Pass Single Payer."

This was the second hearing at which, despite majority support for
single-payer in polls, not a single advocate for single-payer was
permitted to participate. The nurses were asked to leave and did so.
But five people spoke up for single-payer and were arrested: Dr. Judy
Desovich; DeAnn McEwen, a nurse from Longbeach Memorial Medical Center
ICU; Sue Cannon, a nurse from UC-Irvine; Dr. Steven Fenichel from New
York; and Jerry Call from Maine.

Flowers phoned me from the sidewalk at Constitution Avenue and First
Street at 10:30 a.m. as the arrestees were being brought outside one by
one and a crowd was cheering and chanting. About 10 nurses staged a
brief sit-in on the sidewalk while we were on the phone. Numerous TV
cameras and boom mics were present from Bill Moyer's Journal, CBS, and
other networks.

Groups involved included CNA, Physicians for a National Health Program,
Progressive Democrats of America, Gray Panthers, Public Citizen, and
Code Pink. Seven of the "Baucus Eight" arrestees from the last hearing
were present for this one.

I heard chants of "Lock Up Baucus!" and "Baucus Baucus You Can't Hide -
We Can See Your Greedy Side!"

People were holding up posters and banners including a large one
showing a healthcare provider with tape over their mouth and the words
"Most Physicians Want a Single Payer National Health System."

Video and photos will be posted soon at


Dare we hope for media reports as good as was Ed Schultz's last

On Wednesday, May 13, Flowers and other leaders of the campaign for
single-payer will be speaking at a rally at Upper Senate Park from noon
to 2 p.m. (You can also catch a hearing on torture at 10 a.m. in
Dirksen 226.) Then at 3 p.m. actor Mike Farrell will join Congressman
Dennis Kucinich for a press conference on single-payer at 3 p.m. in
Rayburn 2203. Find more about the week's events at

I'll be there. Will you?

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Favorite Scofflaw Movies

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