|Progressive Calendar 06.01.07||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|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] comcast.net 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, 55124). 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:// www.co.dakota.mn.us/LeisureRecreation/Parks/default.htm) 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_ (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g29601-Apple_Valley_Minnesota- Hotels.html) Rooms, couches and tents are available in some Greens' houses & backyards. Please check the website for more information as it becomes available: www.mngreens.org If you have any questions, please contact: DaneneProvencher [at] mngreens.org -- From: Wyn Douglas <wyn_douglas [at] yahoo.com> 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. www.americas.org --------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] usinternet.com --------5 of 18-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> 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] antiwarcommittee.org> 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] comcast.net> 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] comcast.net or call Lennie at 763-717-9168 --------8 of 18-------- From: wamm <wamm [at] mtn.org> 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] riseup.net> 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] tc.umn.edu Fri Jun 1 22:27:03 2007 Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2007 04:12:19 -0500 (CDT) From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> To: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: Subject: Stillwater vigil 00.00 1pm --------10 of 18-------- From: PRO826 [at] aol.com 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 level. 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 volunteers. --------11 of 18-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> 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 <http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/ For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560 --------12 of 18-------- From: Joyce L. Bowers <jbowers [at] halleland.com> 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] spottedeagle.org> Subject: KFAI/Indian 6.03 4pm KFAI's Indian Uprising for June 3, 2007 #216 IMMIGRATION vs. MEXICAN/LATINO INDIGENOUS PEOPLE regarding issues such as 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. www.centro-legal.org 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) http://www.luisjrodrigues.com. >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. www.kfai.org http://www.kfai.org <http://www.kfai.org> 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 www.kfai.org and click "KFAI Live Streams." --------14 of 18-------- From: Tim Dykstal <tim [at] metroiba.org> 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 By GARY LEUPP CounterPunch 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 sectarianism. 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 should. "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 By DAVE LINDORFF CounterPunch 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 table." 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 Impeach.org: 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] yahoo.com --------17 of 18-------- Unbridled Executive Power The Unitary King George By MARJORIE COHN CounterPunch 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 media. 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 Constitution. 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 branches. 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 testicles. 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 http://www.marjoriecohn.com/. --------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 market. 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 angrily. 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 companies. 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 programs? 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 EMR. 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 above. 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. Z 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.] ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments
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