Progressive Calendar 06.01.07
From: David Shove (
Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2007 21:49:59 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R     06.01.07

1. GPMN meeting       6.02 9am
2. Vets4peace         6.02 10am
3. Colombia           6.02 10am
4. Bush invasions     6.02 10am
5. NWN4P Minnetonka   6.02 11am
6. AWC volunteer      6.02 1pm
7. Northtown vigil    6.02 2pm
8. Somalia            6.02 3pm
9. Venezuela/CTV      6.02 9pm

10. IRV in StPaul     6.03 9:30am
11. Stillwater vigil  6.03 1pm
12. Peace walk        6.03 2pm
13. KFAI/Indian       6.03 4pm
14. MetroIBA/IceCream 6.03 9:30pm

15. Gary Leupp    - The despair of Cindy Sheehan and Andrew Bacevich
16. Dave Lindorff - Monica Conyers: a hero of the Constitution
17. Marjorie Cohn - Unbridled executive power: the unitary King George
18. Kip Sullivan  - Candidates on health-care reform: all hat no cattle

--------1 of 18--------

From: psariego [at]
Subject: GPMN meeting 6.02 9am

Dear Greens,

The 2007 Annual Meeting will be held on Saturday, June 2, 2007, 9am-5:15pm
at Falcon Ridge Middle School (12900 Johnny Cake Ridge Road, Apple Valley,

If you are coming from greater Minnesota and are considering camping you
may want to book early to assure a camping spot at Lebanon Hills
Campground.  Here is the link for location, directions and booking:

  _Parks & Trails - Dakota County Minnesota (http://

If you need to find indoor lodging in Apple Valley, here is a link to
review some options:
  _Apple Valley Hotels: Read Apple Valley Hotel Reviews and Compare Prices
- TripAdvisor_
Rooms, couches and tents are available in some Greens' houses & backyards.
Please check the website for more information as it becomes available:
If you have any questions, please contact:  DaneneProvencher [at]

From: Wyn Douglas <wyn_douglas [at]>

For the lighter side of the agenda: our Potluck lunch, election of
GPUS & CC members, GP Pres. Conv. talk, campfire Evening Social, GP
speaker from N. Ireland, bring:
 +Potluck item to pass
 +Plate, cup, utensils, and a bag to wrap them in
 +Blanket, chairs, instrument, etc. for our campfire social, afterwards.

--------2 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Vets4peace 6.02 10am

Saturday, 6/2, 10 to 11:30 am, meeting of Homeless Veterans for Peace,
Peacehouse, 510 E Franklin, Mpls.  Bob 612-789-9020.

--------3 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Colombia 6.02 10am

Saturday, 6/2, 10 to 11:30 am, International Peace Observatory accompaniment
worker Kelly Lundeen speaks on Colombia, Resource Center of the Americas,
301l Minnehaha Ave, Mpls.

--------4 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Bush invasions 6.02 10am

Saturday, 6/2, 10 to noon, WAMM book club discusses Antonia Juhasz's "The
Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy as a Time."  FFI
rabbas [at]

--------5 of 18--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: NWN4P Minnetonka  6.02 11am

NWN4P-Minnetonka demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, at Hwy. 7
and 101.  Park in the Target Greatland lot; meet near the fountain. We
will walk along the public sidewalk. Bring your own signs.

--------6 of 18--------

From: awcmere <meredith [at]>
Subject: AWC volunteer 6.02 1pm

Volunteer Day: Pride planning

Sat 6/2 @ 1 to 3pm @ AWC office, 1313 5th St SE #213, Mpls.  Many hands
make for light work! Please help us get ready for our biggest outreach
event of the year.

--------7 of 18--------

From: Lennie <major18 [at]>
Subject: Northtown vigil 6.02 2pm

Mounds View peace vigil EVERY SATURDAY from 2-3pm at the at the southeast
corner of the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE in Blaine,
which is the northwest most corner of the Northtown Mall area. This is a
MUCH better location.

We'll have extra signs.  Communities situated near the Northtown Mall
include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden
Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids.

For further information, email major18 [at] or call Lennie at

--------8 of 18--------

From: wamm <wamm [at]>
Subject: Somalia 6.02 3pm

Humanitarian Day for Somalia: Mogadishu Victims
Saturday, June 2   3 to 6 pm

Do you want to learn more about what has happened and is happening to the
Somali people? First-hand accounts of the very recent tragedy by family
members of the victims. Video-clips, slides and speeches by well-known
scholars/dignitaries. Learn about what happened to the innocent victims,
the people of Mogadishu and their current plight, as a result of the
violent coup in the country.

Sabathani Community Center, 310 E. 38th St., Minneapolis
Contributions: $20
More info: Gandi 612-423-6203, Jahweyn 952-451-4848

--------9 of 18--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Venezuela/CTV  6.02 9pm

Minneapolis Television Network (MTN 17) viewers:

"Our World In Depth" cablecasts weekly on MTN Channel 17.  Households with
basic cable can watch.  "Our World In Depth" is on Saturday at 9 pm and
the following Tuesday at 8 am (as well as other times).

6/2 and 6/5 "Venezuela and the Latin American Revolution" w/John Peterson
of Hands Off Venezuela.  Hosted by Karen Redleaf.

From shove001 [at] Fri Jun  1 22:27:03 2007
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2007 04:12:19 -0500 (CDT)
From: David Shove <shove001 [at]>
To: David Shove <shove001 [at]>
Subject: Subject: Stillwater vigil 00.00 1pm

--------10 of 18--------

From: PRO826 [at]
Subject: IRV in StPaul 6.03 9:30am

Last year the Minneapolis Greens were successful in getting IRV on the
ballot and it was passed by over 67% of the voters.  This year, the St.
Paul Greens are collecting signatures to also get IRV passed on the local

Much help is needed to collect enough signatures by August 1st.  Thus far
only 2000 signatures have been collected and the goal is 6500. St. Paul
Greens are meeting this Sunday to collect signatures at Grand Old Days
which will have an estimated attendance of over 250,000 people.

Greens are meeting at Caribou Coffee located at Chatsworth and Grand Ave.
located a few blocks east of Lexington on the north side of Grand Ave. at
9:30am.  Contact Paul Busch at 651-587-4925 prior to Sunday if you can
help so he can coordinate the clipboards, petitions, etc. necessary for

--------11 of 18--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 5.03 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------12 of 18--------

From: Joyce L. Bowers <jbowers [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 6.03 2pm

"Being Peace" Walk
Sunday, June 3, 2007
2:00 pm

Meeting at W. 40th St. & Bryant Av. S. Minneapolis (Southeast corner of
Lyndale Farmstead Park)
Walking to the Peace Garden and surrounding area

The "Being Peace" Walk takes a path toward living the connection between
peace in oneself and peace in the world--a quiet action to heal some
measure of the violence and warring we live with.  We will walk in the
spirit of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen meditation teacher and Nobel Peace Prize
nominee from Vietnam.  The walk will be silent and mindful, without signs,
establishing a peaceful presence in the community.

We will begin our walk at W. 40th St. and Bryant Av. S., on the southeast
corner of Lyndale Farmstead Park, walking to the Peace Garden near Lake
Harriet and through the surrounding area.  The event will end with an
optional time of sitting meditation/personal reflection.

This event is sponsored by: the Inter-Sangha Peace Group, comprised of
members from a number of local Buddhist communities.

--------13 of 18--------

From: Chris Spotted Eagle <chris [at]>
Subject: KFAI/Indian 6.03 4pm

KFAI's Indian Uprising for June 3, 2007  #216

racial profiling, racist, and ethnocentric U.S. culture; Immigration and
Customs Enforcement - ICE (US Department of Homeland Security; formerly
parts of Immigration & Naturalization Service and US Customs) illegal
behavior in Willmar; Due process and privacy implications of the Senate
immigration bill; Minneapolis Separation Ordinance; Comprehensive National
Immigration Forum and Senator Amy Klobucharıs political stance.

Guest: Gloria Contreras-Edin, Executive Director, Centro Legal, Inc. St.
Paul, MN, is a graduate from Hamline University School of Law. She
participated in the national Hispanic Moot court team and chaired the
Latino Law Studentıs Association.  Gloria clerked with the Honorable
Salvador Rosas and also served a clerkship with the law office of Shulman
& Dornbos in Minneapolis.

Guest: Rachel Bengtson, Immigration Attorney, Centro Legal, Inc.  She is a
2006 Graduate from James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of
Arizona in Tucson.  Prior to working with Centro Legal, Rachel was an
intern with the Asylum Program of Southern Arizona, and as a recipient of
a Haywood Burns Fellowship, sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild. ~ ~ ~
~ The Indigenous is Strong in Mexico: ³Despite years of genocide (in some
cases, 95 percent of indigenous people perished within 50 years of the
Spanish conquest), the indigenous values, traditions, tongues, and people
are strong and growing stronger in Mexico.  Mexico has more traditional,
full-blooded indigenous people than any other country in the Americas.
While there are more indigenous people percentage wise in countries like
Guatemala and Bolivia, the sheer numbers of reportedly traditional
indigenous people in Mexico outnumber the numbers of natives in those
countries. In Mexico, it's between 10 to 20 million people. This is about
10 to 20 percent of the 100 million people who populate the country. Yet,
I contend that most Mexicans are still indigenous. While it's true that
mestizaje occurred in the more then 500 years since Cortez first entered
Mexico, this has largely occurred in the major cities. Most Mexicans still
have the brown faces, eyes, and hair of their indigenous ancestors ­
Luis J. Rodriguez, author of Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in
L.A. and several other books (blog, October 2006)

>From an Indigenous perspective, Mexico/U.S. & Canada/U.S. borders are
artificial lines. ­ ed.

* * * *
Indian Uprising a one-half hour Public & Cultural Affairs program is for and
by Indigenous People broadcast each Sunday at 4:00 p.m. over KFAI 90.3 FM
Minneapolis and 106.7 FM St. Paul.  Producer and host is volunteer Chris
Spotted Eagle.  KFAI Fresh Air Radio is located at 1808 Riverside Avenue,
Minneapolis MN 55454, 612-341-3144.

KFAI's website's "Program Archives² of current programs are available for
two weeks. Programs can also be heard via KFAI's "live streaming" using
RealAudio or MP3.  Go to and click "KFAI Live Streams."

--------14 of 18--------

From: Tim Dykstal <tim [at]>
Subject: M
etroIBA/IceCream 6.03 9:30pm

Dear MetroIBA members and friends--

You are cordially invited to Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe at 9:30pm Sunday, June
3, 2034 Marshall Ave., St. Paul 55104, for an "Ice Cream Social."  Come
mingle with your fellow MetroIBAers, and say goodbye to me, your outgoing
Executive Director.  (Thanks to Jeff Sommers at Izzy's and the Board for
arranging this.)  And catch this:  members get a free cone!  Additional
guests 20% off.  If you wish to not get something for free you can donate
to Izzy's "High Noon Solar" project or leave a "big" tip for Izzy's staff.

Tim Dykstal (soon to be ex-) Executive Director, MetroIBA

--------15 of 18--------

The Despair of Cindy Sheehan and Andrew Bacevich
Appropriate Disillusionment
May 31, 2007

I have in front of me two documents of despair, of disillusionment with
the American political system that allows this criminal war to continue.
Andrew J. Bacevich in his Washington Post op-ed column and Cindy Sheehan
in her statement on her blog express despair over the failure of the
Democrats placed in power by an antiwar electorate to take firm measures
to end the war in Iraq. Sheehan declares, as she announces her departure
from the spotlight that "hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a
war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike,"
adding, "It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for
so many years"

Professor Bacevich, now sharing Sheehan's personal grief, calls his
earlier hopes that he and others might force the country to change course
"an illusion," noting that "responsibility for the war's continuation now
rests no less with the Democrats who control Congress than with the
president and his party." "Money," he notes bitterly, "maintains the
Republican/Democratic duopoly of trivialized politics. It confines the
debate over U.S. policy to well-hewn channels It negates democracy,
rendering free speech little more than a means of recording dissent. This
is not some great conspiracy. It's the way our system works."

If there is a positive aspect to this despair, it is this very
realization: the system is the problem. It has not so much "failed" us as
we have failed to understand what Sheehan and Bacevich are concluding: it
isn't designed to work for us but for but for them.

For those who can't bring themselves to say that the war is not a
"mistake" but a crime. For those who can't call for immediate withdrawal
in accordance with the wishes of the American and Iraqi people but talk
about "benchmarks" for a gradual withdrawal. For those who want to shift
the onus of the U.S. failure in Iraq to Iraqi politicians for their delays
and bickering, and the Iraqi people for their bewildering Islamic

It serves those who vote in bipartisan fashion to further vilify and
isolate Syria and Iran - the fools who do not know the first thing about
Islamic history and the divisions between Shiites and Sunnis, secularists
and Islamists. It serves those lining up to embrace the fear-mongering
Islamophobic neocon agenda for more confrontation with the Muslim world.
It serves those who fear AIPAC more than the consequences of a strike on
Iran. It serves the Democrats who want to keep an attack on Iran on the
table, but assure President Bush that his impeachment is off the table
because it's just too radical a prospect for them to consider.

This is indeed the way the system works.

"I am deemed a radical," writes Sheehan, "because I believe that partisan
politics should be left to the wayside" Having seen Sheehan speak on
several occasions, I think rather she's been deemed radical because her
understanding of the war is too honest for the system's hacks and
political opportunists (including some who affect a liberal antiwar
posture) to endorse. They cannot.

Nancy Pelosi cannot say, "This is an imperialist war to reconfigure the
Middle East, allow the U.S. to control the flow of oil from the region,
dot it with huge permanent U.S. military bases, advance Israeli aims in
the region, and intimidate all potential rivals for decades. It is wrong,
a clear violation of international law." Harry Reid can't say, "The lies
of these war planners are so obvious. We need hearings now about the
Office of Special Plans. We need to find out who forged the Niger uranium
documents and who undercut our intelligence professionals in pushing that
completely false case presented by Colin Powell to the U.N. We need to
move on impeachment of both Bush and Cheney."

WThat sort of honest talk is not normally allowed by the system to the
"loyal opposition." Only under circumstances of extraordinary duress, when
it feels its very existence threatened, does the system make some
concessions to the people it doesn't work for. In the early '70s our
outrage over the war in Vietnam, compounded by disgust about the evolving
Watergate Affair, forced Congress to cut off war funding (through the
Case-Church Amendment passed on June 19, 1973), produced a wave of
investigations that exposed the vicious Cointelpro Program, and produced
the Freedom of Information Act. We're not yet back to that level of
outrage, but the number of people questioning the system itself - the
money-driven "Republican/Democratic duopoly of trivialized politics" - is
growing. As the Democrats drag their feet, ignore their mandate to end the
war, and collude with moves against Iran and Syria bound to produce
disastrous repercussions, disillusionment will no doubt mount, as it

"To be radical," wrote Marx, "is to grasp the root of the matter. But for
man, the root is man himself." In other words, radicalism means thinking
clearly about how and why people in general are oppressed by the "money"
to which Bacevich alludes. By those who use their unconscionable wealth (=
political power) to pursue their boundless "interests" - sacrificing other
people's children to do so. But Marx in the same work notes how people
oppress themselves with delusional thinking. He refers to religion but
might as well be speaking of delusions about contemporary American
"democracy" when he writes, "The demand to give up illusions about the
existing state of affairs is the demand to give up a state of affairs
which needs illusions."

Sheehan's disillusionment need not lead to a dead end. It could be the
premise for appropriately deeper radicalization.

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct
Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands
and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The
Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy
in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a
contributor to CounterPunch's merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq,
Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.
He can be reached at: gleupp [at] granite.tufts.ed

--------16 of 18--------

Our Monica
Conyers: a Hero of the Constitution
May 31, 2007

When it comes to defending the Constitution from the saboteurs of freedom
and democracy in the Bush administration, my hero is Conyers.

Not Congressman Conyers. He had a shot at the title during 2005, when he
was holding informal hearings on the administration's impeachable crimes,
and in 2006, when he published a book laying out the case for impeachment,
but he lost his chance when he buckled under pressure from then minority
leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who about a year ago began insisting that
should the Democrats take over Congress, impeachment would be "off the

Rep. Conyers, who as chairman of the judiciary committee of the House
would be in charge of impeachment hearings, has made it clear that he
believes the president should be impeached, but he has not stood up to
Speaker Pelosi, or challenged her absurd position on impeachment.

No, I'm referring to Conyers' wife, Monica.

As president pro tempore of the Detroit City Council and a political
leader in her own right, Monica Conyers clearly isn't swayed by Pelosi.
Indeed, last week she sponsored a resolution in the Detroit City Council
which passed unanimously. That resolution doesn't mince words. It calls
for the impeachment of both Bush and Cheney for defrauding the public to
justify launching a war of aggression against Iraq. It also calls for
their impeachment for ordering illegal spying on Americans, for ordering
torture, and for doing away with habeas corpus.

Here is the full text of the resolution, which was drawn up by the Detroit
chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and which was endorsed by the Gray
Panthers, Veterans for Peace, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization,
Latinos Unidos and Michigan

WHEREAS, George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney conspired with others to
defraud the United States of America by intentionally misleading Congress
and the public regarding the threat from Iraq in order to justify a war in
violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 371; and

WHEREAS, George W. Bush has admitted to ordering the National Security
Agency to conduct electronic surveillance of American civilians without
seeking warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of
Review, duly constituted by Congress in 1978, in violation of Title 50
United States Code, Section 1805; and

WHEREAS, George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney conspired to commit the
torture of prisoners in violation of the "Federal Torture Act" Title 18
United States Code, Section 113C, the UN Torture Convention and the Geneva
Convention, which under Article VI of the Constitution are part of the
"supreme Law of the Land"; and

WHEREAS, George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney acted to strip American
citizens of their constitutional rights by ordering indefinite detention
without access to legal counsel, without charge and without the
opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the
detention, based solely on the discretionary designation by the President
of a U.S. citizen as an "enemy combatant", all in subversion of law; and

WHEREAS, In all of this George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney have acted in
a manner contrary to their trust as President and Vice President,
subversive of constitutional government to the great prejudice of the
cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the
City of Detroit and of the United States of America; and

WHEREAS, Petitions from the country at large may be presented by the
Speaker of the House according to Clause 3 of House Rule XII;

Be it resolved that George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney, by such conduct,
warrant impeachment and trial, and removal from office and
disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit
under the United States.

The city council resolution is to be presented to Congress as a petition.

I hope it is also put "on the table" at the Conyers household, where I
suspect Monica Conyers will be exerting considerable pressure on her
significant other to do something about it.

After all, just a year ago, he was saying those same things himself.

It must be galling to Monica Conyers that her husband lately has been
paying more attention to that "other woman" in Washington than to her own
wise counsel. Let's hope that the Detroit city council resolution was not
just a political act, but also a shot across the bow in Conyers family
domestic relations-one that will convince John Conyers that he needs to
stand up for his own principles and beliefs, not just buckle under
political pressure.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the
Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns
titled "This Can't be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press.
Lindorff's newest book is "The Case for Impeachment",
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.

He can be reached at: dlindorff [at]

--------17 of 18--------

Unbridled Executive Power
The Unitary King George
May 31, 2007

As the nation focused on whether Congress would exercise its
constitutional duty to cut funding for the war, Bush quietly issued an
unconstitutional bombshell that went virtually unnoticed by the corporate

The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, signed
on May 9, 2007, would place all governmental power in the hands of the
President and effectively abolish the checks and balances in the

If a "catastrophic emergency" - which could include a terrorist attack or
a natural disaster - occurs, Bush's new directive says: "The President
shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring
constitutional government."

What about the other two co-equal branches of government? The directive
throws them a bone by speaking of a "cooperative effort" among the three
branches, "coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with
respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect
for the constitutional separation of powers." The Vice-President would
help to implement the plans.

"Comity," however, means courtesy, and the President would decide what
kind of respect for the other two branches of government would be
"proper." This Presidential Directive is a blatant power grab by Bush to
institutionalize "the unitary executive."

A seemingly innocuous phrase, the unitary executive theory actually
represents a radical, ultra rightwing interpretation of the powers of the
presidency. Championed by the conservative Federalist Society, the unitary
executive doctrine gathers all power in the hands of the President and
insulates him from any oversight by the congressional or judicial

In a November 2000 speech to the Federalist Society, then Judge Samuel
Alito said the Constitution "makes the president the head of the executive
branch, but it does more than that. The president has not just some
executive powers, but the executive power - the whole thing."
These "unitarians" claim that all federal agencies, even those
constitutionally created by Congress, are beholden to the Chief Executive,
that is, the President. This means that Bush could disband agencies like
the Federal Communications Commission, the Food and Drug Administration,
the Federal Reserve Board, etc., if they weren't to his liking.

Indeed, Bush signed an executive order stating that each federal agency
must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee.
Consumer advocates were concerned that this directive was aimed at
weakening the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety
and Health Administration. The unitary executive dogma represents
audacious presidential overreaching into the constitutional province of
the other two branches of government.

This doctrine took shape within the Bush administration shortly after
9/11. On September 25, 2001, former deputy assistant attorney general John
Yoo used the words "unitary executive" in a memo he wrote for the White
House: "The centralization of authority in the president alone is
particularly crucial in matters of national defense, war, and foreign
policy, where a unitary executive can evaluate threats, consider policy
choices, and mobilize national resources with a speed and energy that is
far superior to any other branch." Six weeks later, Bush began using that
phrase in his signing statements.

As of December 22, 2006, Bush had used the words "unitary executive" 145
times in his signing statements and executive orders. Yoo, one of the
chief architects of Bush's doctrine of unfettered executive power, wrote
memoranda advising Bush that because he was commander in chief, he could
make war any time he thought there was a threat, and he didn't have to
comply with the Geneva Conventions. [eff Yoo, a truly evil man -ed]

In a 2005 debate with Notre Dame professor Doug Cassel, Yoo argued there
is no law that could prevent the President from ordering that a young
child of a suspect in custody be tortured, even by crushing the child's

The unitary executive theory has already cropped up in Supreme Court
opinions. In his lone dissent in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Justice Clarence
Thomas cited "the structural advantages of a unitary Executive." He
disagreed with the Court that due process demands an American citizen held
in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful
opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a
neutral decision maker. Thomas wrote, "Congress, to be sure, has a
substantial and essential role in both foreign affairs and national
security. But it is crucial to recognize that judicial interference in
these domains destroys the purpose of vesting primary responsibility in a
unitary Executive."

Justice Thomas's theory fails to recognize why our Constitution provides
for three co-equal branches of government.

In 1926, Justice Louis Brandeis explained the constitutional role of the
separation of powers. He wrote, "The doctrine of the separation of powers
was adopted by the convention of 1787 not to promote efficiency but to
preclude the exercise of arbitrary power. The purpose was not to avoid
friction, but, by means of the inevitable friction incident to the
distribution of the governmental powers among three departments, to save
the people from autocracy."

Eighty years later, noted conservative Grover Norquist, describing the
unitary executive theory, echoed Brandeis's sentiment. Norquist said, "you
don't have a constitution; you have a king."

One wonders what Bush & Co. are setting up with the new Presidential
Directive. What if, heaven forbid, some sort of catastrophic event were to
occur just before the 2008 election? Bush could use this directive to
suspend the election. This administration has gone to great lengths to
remain in Iraq. It has built huge permanent military bases and pushed to
privatize Iraq's oil. Bush and Cheney may be unwilling to relinquish power
to a successor administration.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and
president of the National Lawyers Guild. Her new book, Cowboy Republic:
Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law, will be published in July. See

--------18 of 18--------

Democrats Debate Universal Coverage
Candidates on health-care reform: all talk and no solutions
By Kip Sullivan
Z magazine May 07

The U.S. has entered a new phase in its everlasting debate about how to
fix the health care mess. As Drew Altman, president of the fastidiously
nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, put it to the Washington Post in
March, "We're at the beginning of the next great debate about health
reform." We are entering this stage not because Americans have changed
(they have supported universal health insurance by large majorities since
the Depression), but because the nation's economic and political elite
have become much more willing to call for universal health insurance or,
as the more timid of them say, "affordable health care". America has not
heard this much chatter about health-care reform from business leaders,
labor leaders, the media, and politicians since the years 1992 to 1994
when universal coverage through HMOs was all the rage.

The health insurance industry itself is contributing to the chatter. This
industry - which has opposed universal health insurance since its
inception in the early 1930s, and which funded the Harry and Louise ads
opposing Bill and Hillary Clinton's Health Security Act of 1993 - has come
to understand that its survival depends on how state legislatures and
Congress respond to the growing number of uninsured. The industry
correctly perceives that it will collapse unless government can be
persuaded to funnel more dollars to insurance companies to replace the
dollars the industry is losing as employers flee the health insurance

On November 13, 2006, the insurance industry executed what we might call a
150-degree turn when its trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans
(AHIP), released a proposal calling for universal coverage of children
within three years and 95 percent coverage of adults within ten years. Not
surprisingly, AHIP proposed that the taxpayers subsidize the purchase of
insurance from health insurance companies. In January of this year, a
coalition, including AHIP and a rogues' gallery of establishment groups -
AARP, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association,
the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer,
and the Chamber of Commerce of the United States - called on the U.S.
taxpayer to halve the number of uninsured by financing richer tax credits
for people who buy health insurance and by expanding Medicaid and the
State Children's Health Insurance Program.

The labor movement is also contributing to the renewed pressure for
reform. On March 6, the 47-member executive committee of the AFL-CIO
endorsed, at long last, achieving universal coverage by expanding Medicare
to cover the entire U.S. population. The AFL-CIO could not bring itself to
use the phrase "single payer," but because a Medicare-for-all program is
the equivalent of a single-payer system, the federation's announcement was
an indirect endorsement of single payer. Under a single-payer system, one
government agency, not hundreds of insurance companies, reimburses clinics
and hospitals and sets limits on what clinics, hospitals, and drug
companies can charge. The AFL-CIO's endorsement of Medicare for all was
hailed by single-payer advocates around the country. "We recognize that
the AFL-CIO is unlikely to lead the charge for single payer without more
grassroots pressure," said Dr. Ida Hellender, director of Physicians for a
National Health Program, one of the leading single-payer organizations in
the U.S., "but we feel this endorsement is a very important step for labor
and a significant boost for the single-payer movement".

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the largest of the
unions to break with the AFL-CIO two years ago, has been much less helpful
to the single-payer movement, but it has worked hard to intensify the
health-care reform debate. Andy Stern, SEIU's president, has made it clear
he opposes any system that continues to rely on employers fund it, as well
as a single-payer system.

Stern made his dislike of single payer obvious at a forum sponsored by the
Brookings Institute in June 2006. After blasting the current
employer-based system as unsustainable, he criticized "people who say
let's just go to Medicare for all". There are not going to be single
payers' in America," he told the audience. Then Stern uttered this
spectacular non sequitur: "I think the single-payer issue is a stalking
horse for I am not sure what because we are going to have a multi-payer
system.." In an interview with the Los Angeles Times on March 12, that is,
six days after the AFL-CIO endorsed Medicare for all, Stern conceded that
"single payer would be the most efficient system," but then he repeated
his claim that "Americans want to have an American solution, not a
Canadian solution" Stern did not explain why a universal system built on
Medicare would be "un-American".

Although it is not clear what solution to the health care crisis Stern
supports, it is quite clear he intends to raise holy hell about the
crisis. On February 7 he held a news conference with Lee Scott, Wal-Mart's
CEO, to announce yet another coalition for health care reform, this one
called the Better Health Care Together Campaign. The statement the
coalition released that day did not indicate what proposal, if any, it
would support. It was not even clear whether the coalition supports
universal health insurance. The word "universal" was conspicuously missing
from the press release while the phrase "quality affordable health
insurance" appeared repeatedly.

                        The Candidate Debate

The rising demand for health care reform from the insurance industry and
business and labor leaders is having an effect on politicians. This is
most apparent in the debate among presidential contenders. "Every
candidate [for president in 2008] is going to have to have a health-care
plan, because it is the number one domestic policy issue on the minds of
voters," said Karen Ignagni, president of AHIP. For Democratic
presidential candidates having a plan for universal coverage, not just "a
health care plan," is now a requirement.

This was obvious at an unusual candidates forum hosted by SEIU and the
Center for American Progress (a think tank headed by former Clinton White
House Chief of Staff John Podesta) in Las Vegas on March 24. The forum was
unprecedented. It focused solely on health policy; seven Democratic
candidates participated (although Republican candidates were invited as
well); and it went on for three hours. Each speaker was given 20 minutes
alone on the stage - 3 minutes to make an opening statement and 17 minutes
to answer questions from the moderator and the audience. This unusual
forum is worth reviewing in some detail because it illustrated the paradox
of the latest phase of the health care reform debate: that public yearning
for universal health insurance is now so strong that Democratic candidates
feel obliged to support universal coverage, but public pressure is not yet
strong enough to force most candidates to offer a plan that will achieve
universal coverage.

As Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton noted when her turn to speak came, all
seven Democratic candidates at the forum endorsed universal health
insurance. That, unfortunately, is where the good news ends. Only two of
the seven - Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Sen. John Edwards - had
detailed proposals to present. Kucinich, a single-payer supporter, is not
likely to win the nomination and Edwards's plan may not work. The other
five participants (Clinton, Sen. Christopher Dodd, former Alaska Sen. Mike
Gravel, Sen. Barrack Obama, and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson) told
horror stories about the current system and outlined vague, sleep-inducing
principles upon which their health policy will be based:  "all
stakeholders must be involved"; "we must fund prevention"; "we [must] make
better use of the money we have in the system"; "we must get costs under
control";  "we must modernize the way we deliver health care"; etc.
Clinton claimed she wanted to hear more ideas from the people before she
developed a plan.  Obama said he would unveil a plan within a few months.
Dodd and Richardson never promised a plan.

Gravel was almost incomprehensible. He began by misusing the phrase
"single-payer". He proposed a "single-payer health care voucher plan"
under which Americans could buy health insurance from five or six
insurance companies. This is an oxymoron. The essential feature of a
single-payer is that one payer reimburses clinics and hospitals directly;
it does not reimburse insurance companies. Then he said that
"single-payer" means "all Americans pay for it," which is not accurate. By
this definition, any universal plan paid for by taxes would be a single
payer, regardless of whether the nation's 1,500 health insurance companies
continue to exist. Then he announced that Congress would never pass his
plan and the only way we could get it enacted was with a national
initiative process which does not currently exist, but allegedly will if
Gravel becomes president.

Because Kucinich has promoted single-payer for years and because he was
the only candidate supporting a real universal coverage bill in Congress
(HR 676, the single-payer legislation sponsored by Rep. John Conyers), he
was more articulate than any of the other candidates with the possible
exception of Edwards. He explained clearly why high administrative costs
generated by the current multiple-payer system would be reduced under a
single-payer system. Kucinich was also the most passionate. Without naming
the other six candidates, he lambasted them for assuming that it is
impossible to create a health insurance system that does not rely on
insurance companies. "It's time we end the control that insurance
companies have over health care and our political system," he said

John Edwards, not coincidentally, was the only candidate other than
Kucinich who used the phrase "single-payer" correctly. He explained to the
moderator that he liked single-payer systems because they are so
efficient, but he thought many Americans would resist a single-payer
proposal. "It is true that single-payer systems dramatically reduce
costs," he said. "It's also true that people like the health insurance
they have now". Edwards then explained that his proposal would divide the
country into "health care markets" and, within each market, consumers
could choose between a Medicare-like single-payer program and health
insurance companies. He implied that the Medicare-like programs, with
their lower overhead costs, would probably undersell the insurance
companies and gradually end up being the only insurer - the one payer left
standing - in a given region. "This may gravitate toward a single-payer
system," he concluded. "But consumers will decide that".

Edwards's statement that Americans "like" the insurance they have was
wildly off the mark. According to Harris Polls going back at least a
decade, public esteem for the health insurance industry is very low,
comparable with tobacco and oil companies. But Edwards's larger point -
that establishing a single-payer system in one piece of legislation is
going to be very difficult - is well taken. No single-payer system in the
world was installed overnight. (California came close to pulling that off
last year.  The legislature in that state enacted a single-payer bill last
summer, only to see Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger veto it in September.)

The insurance industry and their allies have proven themselves adept at
keeping single-payer bills from getting hearings and defeating
single-payer initiatives (single-payer initiatives presented to
Californians in 1994 and to Oregon residents in 2002 lost by large
margins). So the question of whether and how an American single-payer
system could be phased in deserves careful thought.

                      Achieving Single-Payer

There are several ways to achieve a single-payer health system in the U.S.
One could, for example, add all children under 19 to Medicare in year one,
add all people age 55 to 64 in year two, and so on. Edwards's method -
letting market forces create a single-payer gradually - might work.  (If
it did, the irony would be indescribably delicious.) And it might not.
The critical questions are whether the Medicare-like programs he has in
mind would be true copies of the existing Medicare program, and whether
these programs would start off with a large enough enrollee base to
withstand "adverse selection," which means disproportionate enrollment by
sick people. It was impossible to tell from Edwards's brief comments in
Las Vegas, and it is impossible to tell from the data he has made
available on his website, what the answers to these questions are.

There is no question that the traditional Medicare program is more
efficient and more popular than any insurance company. It spends only 2
percent of its expenditures on overhead and spends the other 98 cents on
health care while insurance companies spend 20 percent on overhead and 80
percent on health care. In theory, if Medicare were forced to compete with
insurance companies, Medicare's low overhead should give it a 15-to-20
percent price advantage over private insurance companies. Moreover, the
traditional Medicare program (the original, single-payer Medicare program
in which 83 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are currently enrolled, as
opposed to the HMO arm of the Medicare program in which the other 17
percent are enrolled) is more attractive to patients because it does not
attempt to control costs by vetoing doctor-patient decisions.  Because it
is more efficient and more attractive, a program truly modeled after the
traditional Medicare program should beat the pants off insurance

But for some reason Edwards is not proposing to throw open the existing
Medicare program, which now insures 43 million seniors and disabled
people, to anyone who prefers to be insured by Medicare rather than Blue
Cross Blue Shield or Aetna. He is instead proposing that smaller programs
that resemble Medicare, but which are separate from it, operate in
numerous "health markets" across the country (which he does not define) in
competition with insurance companies. Would these Medicare-like programs
start out with a sizable enrollment, say half a million to a million
people, or would they go through a growth phase in which they are quite
small? If they start out small, or never get to be very big, will they
have to advertise heavily to attract enrollees (something Medicare does
not do now) and, if so, won't that drive up administrative costs and
premiums? If they start out or remain small, won't they be vulnerable to
adverse selection, especially if private insurers deny health care to
their sicker enrollees and encourage them to switch to the Medicare-like

These and other problems caused by small size relative to the real
Medicare, and by the need to compete with private insurers, could cause
programs that bear the name "Medicare" to lose to the bloated insurance
industry even though the real Medicare program is far more efficient than
any insurance company. In that event, the single-payer movement will have
suffered two setbacks. It will not only have failed to build a
single-payer system via market forces, but a central premise of the
single-payer movement - that Medicare is more efficient than the insurance
industry - will have been falsely undermined.

Edwards deserves credit for putting a detailed proposal in front of the
public and for being willing to describe single payer as good policy. But
he needs to explain why creating numerous mini-Medicare programs for the
non-elderly is a better idea than building on the existing Medicare base
of 43 million people.

                          Appeasing Industry

Given her front-runner status and all the years she has studied health
policy, Hillary Clinton's comments at the Las Vegas forum were the most
disappointing. Her remarks were a textbook illustration of the tension
between Democrats - hunger to deliver universal coverage and their fear of
antagonizing the insurance industry and the other players that make up the
health care industry. Clinton made no mention of single-payer as an
option. She did go to great lengths to blister the insurance industry, but
then she implied that she intended to leave the industry in control of the
health-care system. For example, after telling a story of a woman who was
denied medical services by her insurer because her condition was
"pre-existing," Clinton thundered, "We can't get to universal coverage
until we eliminate insurance discrimination once and for all". This
statement implies that Clinton intends to let insurance companies continue
to run the system.

In addition to having nothing to say about single payer, Clinton endorsed
the claim that "prevention" and electronic medical records (EMRs) will
save money when in fact there is little evidence to support those claims.
She was not alone; only Kucinich and Gravel resisted mouthing these
platitudes. Preventive medicine can improve health, but as
counterintuitive as it may sound, there is very little evidence for the
claim that making preventive services more available saves money only on
the grounds that good preventive medicine improves health. There is no
solid evidence that more preventive services inevitably lead to lower
costs. They may in fact lead to higher spending. Teaching primary care
doctors to identify depression in their patients is a good example of a
preventive measure that could very well increase costs as more depressed
patients get more therapy sessions and start taking anti-depressants.

The argument for EMRs as a cost-containment method is even weaker.
Although the insurance and computer industries have vigorously peddled
hype about EMRs for 15 years, the small body of research on EMRs shows
mixed results on quality and indicates universal adoption of EMRs will
raise total spending on health care by perhaps 2 percent. The evidence
that EMRs can actually harm patients includes, for example, a study
published in a 2005 edition of Pediatrics that found that mortality rates
in a children's hospital in Pittsburgh doubled after introduction of an

In stark contrast to the Democrats who attended the Las Vegas forum, none
of the Republican candidates supports universal coverage. The candidate
who comes closest to endorsing such a position is Mitt Romney. As governor
of Massachusetts, he signed a bill on April 12, 2006 that he and the
bill's Democratic supporters in the legislature claimed would reduce the
uninsured rate in Massachusetts from 11 percent to 1 percent by 2010
without raising taxes. (Today the law's supporters say the law will get
the rate down to 5 percent.) The law requires Massachusetts residents to
buy health insurance beginning July 1, and promises to provide subsidies
to residents with incomes under three times the poverty level. Because
Romney's law generates many more customers for insurance companies, it is
exactly the sort of law the insurance industry supports.

But the law Romney is so proud of is going to fail because it has no cost
containment in it. Romney and other supporters of the Massachusetts law
claim that costs will come down due to the provision of more preventive
medical services, the spread of EMRs, and the publication of "report
cards" on clinics and hospitals by a newly appointed state council using
data stored on EMRs. But this fantasy will never come to pass. As a
result, Massachusetts will face a choice, probably by no later than 2008,
between raising taxes in order to pay for the subsidies necessary for the
uninsured to buy insurance, letting insurance policies with shriveled
coverage (including enormous deductibles) count as "insurance," exempting
millions from the new mandate to buy insurance, or some combination of the

Readers should keep an eye on Romney's law. We are going to see more laws
like it between now and the day when politicians find the will to enact a
single-payer system. Romney-like laws - laws that seem to insure all or
nearly all people but don't - are likely because of the immense pressure
politicians now feel to vote for universal coverage and the immense
pressure they feel from the health care industry to do nothing meaningful
to bring health care costs down.

We are indeed in a new phase of the American health-care reform debate.
The demand for solutions to the health care crisis is louder now than it
was even five years ago and much of the new demand is coming from the
American elite. But more talk does not signify that Congress and state
legislatures will enact effective solutions soon. With few exceptions, the
talk is still about goals we can agree on (extending coverage and reducing
costs), not effective means to achieve those goals. Until the public and
the nation's leaders start talking in detail about real solutions, we will
get, at best, more Romney laws. The single-payer movement still has a lot
of work to do.


Kip Sullivan is the author of The Health Care Mess: How We Got Into It and
How We'll Get Out of It (Author House, 2006). [Available locally at better
independent bookstores.]


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