Progressive Calendar 04.03.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2008 05:04:31 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    04.03.08

1. Mumia/KFAI       4.04 11am
2. Ffunch           4.04 11:30am
3. Muslim wear      4.04 9am
4. Arabs/TV         4.04 12noon
5. Palestine vigil  4.04 4:15pm
6. Alt/violence     4.04 6pm
7. Afghanistan/f    4.04 7pm
8. Islam/women      4.04 6:30pm
9. ML King film     4.04 7:30pm
10. Caramel/film    4.04
11. Moyers/Congo    4.04 9pm

12. Queer conf      4.05 8:30am
13. Homeless vets   4.05 10am
14. NWN4P Mtka      4.05 11am
15. CERG/solidarity 4.05 12noon
16. Northtown vigil 4.05 2pm
17. NLG dinner      4.05 6pm
18. Jewish/peace/TV 4.05 9pm

19. John V Walsh - Polls/antiwar movement/shunning of Ralph Nader
20. PNHP         - Majority of physicians support single payer
21. Gregory Paul - Why not privatize the police and fire departments?
22. Kip Sullivan - Article III on DFL health "reform" bills
23. ed           - What JNP signifies  (bumpersticker)

--------1 of 23--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Mumia/KFAI 4.04 11am

Fri.April 4, 11am on KFAI Radio's CATALYST: politics & culture, hosted by
Lydia Howell - part of the HOUR OF PEOPLE POWER every Friday 11m to Noon
including NORTHERN SUN NEWS, 11:30am hosted by Don Olson.

Hear excerpts from a new Pacifica radio documentary about Pennsylvania
death row dissident journalist MUMIA ABU JAMAL.

On the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. we
should remember that violence and murder are still used to silence our
greatest voices for justice. A recent Pennsylvania Appeals Court has (for
now) just set aside Mumia Abu Jamal's death sentence and called for a new
sentencing hearing: so Jamal faces life in prison without parole or
execution. The fight for a new trial to prove his innocence continues.

KFAI's Spring 2008 Pledge Drive is April 5-18. TUNE IN FRIDAYS APRIL 11th
and 18th for the CATALYST Pledge Drive editions with special premiums for
progressives and a surprise KFAI-exclusive interview with one of the
progressive giants-- to be announced soon. The Pledge Drive phone number
is: 612-375-9030. You can also pledge your support at the KFAI website:

KFAI RADIO 90.3fm Minneapolis 106.7 fm St. Paul all shows archived for 2
weeks after broadcast at:

--------2 of 23--------

From: David Shove <shove001 [at]>
Subject: Ffunch 4.04 11:30am

First Friday Lunch (FFUNCH) for Greens/progressives/assorted weirdos.
Informal political talk and hanging out.
Day By Day Cafe 477 W 7th Av St Paul.
Meet in the private room (holds 12+).
Day By Day; has soups, salads, sandwiches, and dangerous
apple pie; is close to downtown St Paul & on major bus lines

--------3 of 23--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Muslim wear 4.04 9am

Friday, 4/4, 9 am to 1:30 pm, U of M Muslim Student association presents
"Hijabi for a Day" (where volunteers hand out free hijabs for women to
wear during the day, and a nasheed performance, both outside University of
Minnesota's Coffman Union, 300 Washington Ave SE, Mpls.

--------4 of 23--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Arabs/TV  4.04 12noon

Friday, 4/4, noon to 1:30, U of Pennsylvania prof and Arab media expeert
Marwan Kraidy speaks on "Reality TV and Public Contention in the Arab
World," room 100, Murphy Hall, 206 Church St, East Bank U of M, Mpls.

--------5 of 23--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Palestine vigil 4.04 4:15pm

Friday, 4/4, 4:15 to 5:30 pm, vigil to end US military/political support
of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, corner Summit and Snelling, St
Paul.  (Note: Vigil is cancelled if the temperature is under 20 degrees

--------6 of 23--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Alt/violence 4.04 6pm

4/4 (6 pm) to 4/6 (5 pm), basic level Alternatives to Violence Workshop,
Hennepin County Men's Workhouse, 1145 Shenandoah Lane, Plymouth.
avperika [at] or

--------7 of 23--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Afghanistan/f 4.04 7pm

Friday, 4/4, 6 pm reception, 7 pm screening, 8:30 discussion, film
"Motherland Afghanistan," about the devastating maternal mortality rates,
Weisman Art Museum, Dolly Filterman Gallery, 333 E River Rd, Mpls.  $25,
advance registration required.

--------8 of 23--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Islam/women 4.04 6:30pm

Friday, 4/4, 6:30 pm, U of M Muslim Student presents talk by Imani
Jaafar-Mohammed on "Women in Islam,"  Univ of Minnesota's Anderson Hall,
room 210, 257 - 19th Ave SE, Mpls.

--------9 of 23--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: ML King film 4.04 7:30pm

Friday, 4/4, 7:30 pm, on the anniversary of M.L. King's assassination,
documentary film "At the River I Stand: The Story of the Memphis
Sanitation Workers Strike and the Assassination of Dr King," followed by
discussion led by Matt Gladue of Workers Interfaith Network, Joan of Arc
Church 4537 - 3rd Ave S, Mpls.  steveclemens [at] or or 612-872-7855.

--------10 of 23--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Caramel/film 4.04

4/4 to 4/10, film "Caramel" about 5 women who regularly meet in a Beirut
beauty salon and their various lives, Edina Cinema, 3911 W 50th St, Edina.

--------11 of 23--------

From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at]>
Subject: Moyers/Congo 4.04 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | Hope in the Congo

Bill Moyers Journal takes viewers on the ground in the Democratic Republic
of the Congo - a country almost one-fourth the size of the US - to follow
aid workers and local relief efforts that are bringing hope to a forgotten

--------12 of 23--------

From: Jeff Hartman <hartm152 [at]>
Subject: Queer conference 4.05 8:30am

QM08 [at] MSP, Queer Motions: 1st Bi-Annual Twin Cities Conference on
Global/Local Sexualities
Friday, April 5, 8:30am-5:30pm
Institute for Advanced Study, 125 Nolte Center
315 Pillsbury Dr. SE, Minneapolis

Where are queer studies and queer politics going in the twenty-first
century? This conference brings together scholars from around the world to
address the complications, contradictions, and crossings that this
question raises. Panelists include: Charlotte Albrecht, Anguksuar (Richard
LaFortune), Hector Carrillo, Kandace Creel, Jigna Desai, Kale Fajardo,
Cindy Garcia, Dan Taulapapa McMullin, Scott Morgensen, Juliana Pegues,
Omiseke Natasha Tinsley, David Valentine, and Gloria Wekker. This event
is organized by the Global Sexualities research collaborative.

--------13 of 23--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Homeless vets 4.05 10am

Saturday, 4/5, 10 to 11:30 am, Homeless Vets for Peace meet at Peacehouse,
510 E Franklin, Mpls. Bob Heberle 612-789-9020.

--------14 of 23--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: NWN4P Mtka 4.05 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. Signs available.

--------15 of 23--------

From: Leslie Reindl <alteravista [at]>
Subject: CERG/solidarity 4.05 12noon

Invitation to a meeting of CERG (Community Emergency Response Group)
(follow-up to Walking Away from the King)
Saturday, April 5, noon to 3 pm
Van Cleve Community Center, 901 15th Ave. SE, Minneapolis

CERG continues the effort begun last fall to "Walk Away from the King" and
create a more compassionate society.  In light of events on the ground
since then, the focus is on creating a group structure and action that
help people stick together in the face of adversity, to create a measure
of insurance for members.  CERG is conceived to coordinate, focus, and
leverage members' abilities and resources.  Membership is open to all.

"We build our road as we travel"--we call on everyone to start building.
FFI cerg [at]

--------16 of 23--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 4.05 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av.), every Saturday
2:00 -- 3:00 PM.

--------17 of 23--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: NLG dinner 4.05 6pm

NLG 2008 Social Justice Dinner
April 5th at 6pm at
William Mitchell College of Law

Please join the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild at our
2008 Social Justice Dinner, on April 5, 2008, at the William Mitchell
College of Law. Our honorees this year include Larry Leventhal, for the
Paul Marino People's Lawyering Award, and Communities United Against
Police Brutality for the Social Justice Award. Cheri Honkala of the Poor
People's Economic Human Rights Campaign will be our keynote speaker.

Larry Leventhal has provided brilliant representation and stalward support
of activists and progressive causes in both the criminal and civil arenas
for decades. He is particularly noted for his longtime support of the
American Indian Movement and other native and Tribal issues, including
treaty rights and police brutality.

Communities United Against Police Brutality deals with police brutality on
a daily basis through a grassroots organizing model. CUAPB seeks to
empower the community with a structure to challenge police brutality and
organize to bring it to an end. Using a 24 hour victim hotline, victim and
family support, direct action, court observation, lawsuits, public policy
efforts, and public education, CUAPB works toward systemic change and
justice for all those affected by police brutality.

Cheri Honkala is the national coordinator of the Poor People's Economic
Human Rights Campaign. A single mother of two, and a formerly homeless
welfare recipient, Cheri has over 15 years of experience organizing poor
people. She has received many awards for her dedication and leadership in
the struggle to end poverty and led numerous marches and diverse
international coalitions in demonstrating, taking direct action, and
presenting demands before the U.S. Congress and United Nations.

Tickets are $50.00, or $15.00 for low income. Tables of 8 cost $350.00.
Call 612-326-4315 for reservations.

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>

We are extremely honored to learn that the National Lawyers Guild,
Minnesota Chapter will be recognizing us with their Social Justice Award
at their annual social justice dinner.  Larry Leventhal will be presented
with the Paul Marino People's Lawyering Award.  Cheri Honkala of Poor
People's Econonomic Human Rights Campaign will be keynote speaker.
Please join us as we proudly receive this prestigious award.

The Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
Annual Social Justice Dinner
Saturday, April 5, 2008
6:00 to 10:00 pm
William Mitchell College of Law
875 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota

To reserve your tickets or for more information, call (612) 326-4315.

--------18 of 23--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Jewish/peace/CTV 4.05 9pm

Minneapolis Television Network (MTN 17) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and
Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow!.  Households with basic cable may

Sat, 4/5, 9pm and Tues, 4/8, 8am "Cecilie Surasky: Jewish Voice for Peace"
Talk given in St. Paul by Jewish American organizer of and
Jewish Voice for Peace.

--------19 of 23--------

Polls and the Antiwar Movement
The Shunning of Ralph Nader
Apri1 1, 2008

No sooner did Ralph Nader announce his run for president than Katrina Van
den Heuval at The Nation was pounding out a frantic plea to Ralph to quit
the race. Her assault on Ralph, reminiscent of how her mag treated him in
2004, was the first sign that the Democratic establishment was soiling its
collective panties for fear of Ralph's run. Clearly they had reason for
concern, since Nader/Gonzalez raised $300,000 on their first day of
fundraising. (Matt Gonzalez who nearly won the mayoralty race in San
Francisco as a Green has now left the Green Party to join Nader's
independent candidacy.)

Three weeks ago a Zogby poll suggested that Nader will be a major factor
in the race. The poll did two separate pairups and here is how they came

McCain, 44%; Obama, 39%; Nader, 6%.

McCain, 44%; Clinton, 39%; Nader, 6%.

It is not hard to add 6 to 39 and come out with 45. Nader/Gonzalez has
said that it regards 6% as their floor. And it looks like Nader/Gonzalez
will be on the ballot in all 50 states and DC. Message to Dems: you are in
trouble. If you run a prowar candidate, either Obama or Clinton, you are
in trouble. You cannot beat a prowar candidate with another prowar
candidate. Very simple.

The Nation and other outlets, not to mention the mass media, were silent
on the Zogby poll. Now another poll has come out, this time from Fox News
of all places. It showed that 14% of the voters are willing to "consider"
voting for Nader. That is a substantial achievement in the face of the
small amount of mass media coverage given Nader so far. (Additionally
Nader won the Green Party primaries by a landslide in California and
Massachusetts even though he did not campaign there.)

The shunning of Nader is to be expected for The Nation crowd which
endorsed the prowar Kerry in 2004 and promised that electing Dems to the
Congress in 2006 would bring a Congressional assault on the war. That of
course has not materialized. But the response to Nader on antiwar web
sites has been disappointing so far. Over at, Justin Raimondo
has fallen into the clutches of the ObamaZombies. Nader has not received
the support that Ron Paul received from the Libertarian movement - a big
disappointment to those of us who thought that unity between the antiwar
"left" and "right" was possible. It is a double disappointment to those of
us who felt that the usually lucid Libertarian political analysts would
never fall for Obama the hawk.

In contrast, The McLaughlin Report ("the sharpest minds"), affectionately
known in my circle as "The Shouters," this past weekend gave considerable
time to the Nader candidacy. Pat Buchanan and John McLaughlin both
welcomed his candidacy as did all the guests with the exception of the
reliable Dem loyalist, Eleanor Cliff. The usually very PC Cliff, whose
political thought seems to go no farther than Democrat partisanship, lost
no time in attacking Nader - based on his age ("Ageism" generally being
shunned by the PC crowd), using reference to a Washington Post cartoon to
wthat effect. With the exception of Cliff the "finest minds" know full
well that there will be no serious antiwar debate without someone like
Nader in the race.

So how about it antiwarriors. In Nader you have a candidate who has been
against the war consistently, who alone calls for cutting the bloated
military budget and for changing US policy in the Middle East. In
Hillary-Obama-McCain, you have consistent Senate votes for trillions to
fund the slaughter in Iraq, votes for the Patriot Act and a promise to add
100,000 more men and women under arms. Hawks all. Right now Nader/
Gonzalez is the only antiwar game in town. So where are your voices for
Nader? They need to be heard. It is time to be loyal to principles and
candidates who have stood unfailingly for what you want. And with a little
effort we might all be surprised at the outcome.

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar [at]

[Ralph with the margin of victory? I can only imagine the vitriol and
screaming stomping tearing of hair intimidating evil-eying by our
corporatos Dems liberals DemoGreens* pseudoprogressives. You think we've
heard hate speech? We ain't heard nothin' yet. The ruling class is pissed
pissed pissed, and they want us to be pissed pissed pissed too.

(You can't go wrong if you act opposite to ruling class desires).

(A DemoGreen is a Green who prefers the DP model/values/dollars to the GP
model/values/pennies. No revolutionary or pioneer or Naderite he. Dems
will now I bet be rushing money and jobs and "friendship" to key
DemoGreens; standard warfare technique.) -ed]

--------20 of 23--------

From: Physicians for a National Health Program
Sent: Friday, March 28, 2008 5:58 PM
Subject: PNHP Press Release: Majority of Physicians Support Single Payer

Most doctors support national health insurance, new study shows

Reflecting a shift in thinking over the past five years among U.S.
physicians, a new study shows a solid majority of doctors - 59 percent -
now supports national health insurance.

Such plans typically involve a single, federally administered social
insurance fund that that guarantees health care coverage for everyone,
much like Medicare currently does for seniors. The plans typically
eliminate or substantially reduce the role of private insurance companies
in the health care financing system, but still allow patients to go the
doctors of their choice.

A study published in today's Annals of Internal Medicine, a leading
medical journal, reports that a survey conducted last year of 2,193
physicians across the United States showed 59 percent of them "support
government legislation to establish national health insurance," while 32
percent oppose it and 9 percent are neutral.

The findings reflect a leap of 10 percentage points in physician support
for national health insurance (NHI) since 2002, when a similar survey was
conducted. At that time, 49 percent of all physician respondents said they
supported NHI and 40 percent opposed it.

Support among doctors for NHI has increased across almost all medical
specialties, said Dr. Ronald T. Ackermann, associate director of the
Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research at Indiana
University 's School of Medicine and co-author of the study.

"Across the board, more physicians feel that our fragmented and for-profit
insurance system is obstructing good patient care, and a majority now
support national insurance as the remedy," he said.

Support for NHI is particularly strong among psychiatrists (83 percent),
pediatric sub-specialists (71 percent), emergency medicine physicians (69
percent), general pediatricians (65 percent), general internists (64
percent) and family physicians (60 percent). Fifty-five percent of general
surgeons support NHI, roughly doubling their level of support since 2002.

Doctors have often expressed concern about lack of patient access to care
due to rising costs and patients' insufficient levels of insurance. An
estimated 47 million Americans currently lack health insurance coverage
and another 50 million are believed to be underinsured. At the same time,
health care costs in the United States are rising at the rate of about 7
percent a year, twice the rate of inflation.

The health care issue continues to rank high among voter concerns in the
2008 elections, placing third in a recent poll after the economy and Iraq.

The current study by the Indiana University researchers is the largest
survey ever conducted among doctors on the issue of health care financing
reform. It is based on a random sampling of names obtained from the
American Medical Association's master list of physicians throughout the

In addition to measuring attitudes toward NHI, the survey also asked
doctors about their views about "more incremental reform," often
interpreted as state- or federal-based programs requiring or "mandating"
that consumers buy health insurance from private insurance companies,
legislative measures providing tax incentives to businesses to provide
coverage for their employees, or similar steps.

Fewer physicians (55%) were in support of "incremental" reform. Moreover,
virtually all those opposed to national health insurance also opposed
incremental reform to improve access to care.  In fact, only 14% of
physicians overall oppose national health insurance but support more
incremental reforms.  Ironically, many medical organizations and most
politicians have endorsed only incremental changes.

Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, Director of Indiana University's Center for Health
Policy and Professionalism Research and lead author of the study,
commented: "Many claim to speak for physicians and reflect their views. We
asked doctors directly and found that, contrary to conventional wisdom,
most doctors support the government creating national health insurance."

Other signs indicate that attitudes among doctors are changing.  The
nation's largest medical specialty group, the 124,000-member American
College of Physicians, endorsed a single-payer national health insurance
program for the first time in December.

Copies of the study are available to the press at Password: carroll

"Support for National Health Insurance among American Physicians: Five
Years Later," Aaron E. Carroll and Ronald T. Ackermann, Annals of Internal
Medicine, April 2008.

Dr. Aaron Carroll is a member of the Board of Directors of PNHP.

Physicians for a National Health Program, a membership organization of
over 15,000 physicians, supports a single-payer national health insurance
program. PNHP physician experts are available for interviews and can speak
about the health care crisis in your state and options for reform at both
the state and national level (e.g. on the leading Presidential candidates
health plans). To contact a physician-spokesperson in your state, or call (312) 782-6006.

Physicians for a National Health Program 29 E Madison Suite 602, Chicago,
IL 60602 Phone (312) 782-6006 | Fax: (312) 782-6007 |
info [at]

CONTACTS: Aaron E. Carroll, MD, (317) 278-0552, aaecarro [at] Ronald
T. Ackermann, MD, (317) 278-0506 rtackerm [at] Todd Main, PNHP, (312)
782-6006, todd [at]

--------21 of 23--------

If Socialized Medicine is Such a Bad Thing, Then Why Not Privatize the
Police and Fire Departments?
by Gregory Paul
April 2nd, 2008

The conservatives, led by McCain, are at it again. First they claim that
America has the best health care system in the world. Then they decry
socialized medicine as violating basic principles of liberty. No American
should be forced to rely on inefficient government services for their
health care. A person's health should be an individual responsibility,
with each citizen free to pick and choose the companies that provide the
best services at the lowest cost.

But if the free market should rule medical care, then why not police and
fire protection as well? Why should any American have to pay taxes to a
government run police monopoly for the protection of their own bodies and
those of their precious family? There are constant complaints of poor
police response time and the follow up investigation, as well as
brutality. So why can't a good American citizen be freed of confiscatory
taxes, and instead use the money to provide their own protection? After
all, it's the American Way. Want to protect your home? Get some guns, a
dog or two, and an alarm system. For professional help, contract with a
private security company that provides the highest level of service for
the least lucre. Worried about being mugged while out on the town? Hire
personal protection for the evening through your friendly neighborhood
Rent-A-Bodyguard Inc.

Same thing with fire protection. It's an socialistic outrage that
taxpayers are forced to cough up part of their hard earned income to pay a
government dominated fire department whose services may or may not suit a
person's needs. It should be a matter of personal responsibility. Don't
think you need professional help? Or can't afford it? Buy a bunch of fire
extinguishers, install a sprinkler system, and hope for the best. It's
your choice. Worried that fighting a fire on your own might not be
prudent? Contract with the privately owned and operated fire company that
provides the best cost/service ratio.

Here's the thing. Once upon a time in America we actually did have a free
market for fire protection! So why was it socialized? Because the private
system didn't work out very well. So many were unable or unwilling to pay
for protection that structures were left free to burn, often bringing down
surrounding apartments and buildings. Whole cities were put at risk.
Besides, how does one compare service/cost ratios when it comes to fire
protection, or that matter police work? It is not like buying a car or a
computer. The private fire prevention system was so ineffective, and
downright dangerous, that eventually it was abandoned in favor the far
more efficient, communalistic arrangement we have today.

Aside from a libertarian fringe, conservatives are not clamoring to
privatize the fire and police departments, even though these are exactly
the kind universal, socialistic systems that conservative claim to despise
on principle. Instead, the right lavishes praise and admiration on these
premiere examples of successful socialism (they do the same thing with
another prime example of federal socialism, the armed forces). By no means
is this the sole example of cynical conservative hypocrisy. The same
conservatives who denounce government subsidies for green energy sources
are happy to see billions of your tax dollars poured into the coffers of
the nuclear power and oil industries. Likewise most conservatives who
attack welfare for the poor favor corporate welfare and bailouts in its
many guises. When your average conservative claims that they are opposed
to universal health care because they are opposed on principle to
socialism, they're lying. And they are lying when they assert the
superiority of America medicine.

No advanced democracy is stupid enough to allow a free market of police or
fire protection to operate without the involvement of a universal
government system. Nor is any 1st world nation stupid enough to allow a
free market for medical care - except of course for ours. It is important
to understand that universal health care is not necessarily socialized
health care. The latter is true only when most or all medical facilities
and caregivers are government owned and employed, as in England. In many
countries, such as France, the state provides the basic funding through
taxes, but much of the infrastructure and personnel are private. Also
variable is the degree of supplementary care that citizens can pay for
outside the universal system, it can range from none to whatever citizens
are willing to pay.

Relation of % of GDP to Health Care to Life Span and Infant Mortality
(Data for plots from UN)

America's privatized health care system is a Byzantine, Rube Goldberg
complex that has proven no more successful than the privatized fire
protection system we used to suffer under. It is well known that about a
third of Americans lack adequate insurance, but that just scratches the
surface of the problem. Among western nations only the Irish and Danes
live shorter lives, and the US has the highest juvenile mortality rates in
the first world. We are killing off our kids nearly twice as fast as the
Swedes and Japanese, and about as rapidly as some developing countries
such as Malaysia and Cuba. This shockingly poor performance is true even
though medical costs soak up a stunning 15% of the American economy,
compared to just 6-11% in all other western democracies. Our arrangement
is so inefficient that we are wasting, for absolutely no gain, literally
well over half a trillion dollars a year. The damage this fantastic
squandering of money - we might as well be shooting the stuff into the sun
- cannot be exaggerated.

Dwarfing the money being spent on Iraq, it rivals in scale the entire
budget of the Defense Department. This colossal wastage is probably the
most serious unnecessary loss to the American economy, yet it goes largely
ignored. This is a grave mistake, the financial depletion is one of the
reasons why we are hard pressed to maintain our deteriorating
infrastructures. Think of what would could be done with that half
trillion. For one thing, a portion could be used to develop the new
generation of antibiotics that are desperately needed to combat the wave
of drug resistant bacteria that are making going to the hospital dangerous
again. More money could go into taking all we are learning about genetics
and cellular biology to effectively deal with cancers - which is vastly
greater threat to our well being than Iraq ever was. We would not have a
Medicaid funding crisis.

On an individual basis Americans pay from half to twice as much per person
for health care than do citizens of any other western nation. With medical
expenses rising much faster than inflation in general, it's one of the
reasons why most Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to make
ends meet. Half of the millions of individual bankruptcies that occur in a
given year involve massive medical expenses not covered by insurance. It
happens all the time. A typical nuclear family has the nice house and
cars, cable on their plasma TV, and pleasant vacations. Without warning
the breadwinner, through not fault of their own, loses their job, and with
that goes the health insurance. A member of the family becomes seriously
ill, medical expenses amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars pile
up, the health providers require the family to charge it on their cards
piling up high interest debt, and soon the family has lost it all. As
Michael Moore's Sicko exposed, even those who think they are well covered
often are not.

Rationing of care is rampant in America, only the wealthiest can afford to
acquire whatever procedures and treatment they can get. Critics of
universal care point to Canadians crossing the border to get specific
treatments (a result of overly strict socialization not found in even
better run systems). They do not mention that some Americans are traveling
all the way to India to undergo vital surgeries they cannot afford in the
states. Studies and surveys show that in exchange for all they spend on
health care, Americans are actually getting lower levels of basic service
than are their western counterparts, who report higher levels of overall
satisfaction. We even lag well behind other advanced nations in using the
hi-tech information technologies - computerized patient data and
prescriptions and the like - that improve patient care while minimizing
the dangerous errors that plaque the American system.

But liberals too are making a mistake, and blunder that when one thinks
about it is rather bizarre. The left is fond of getting after private
companies for not providing adequate health care coverage for their
employees. Wal-Mart is a favorite target. Nuttier still is corporate
America, which has traditionally opposed universal health care. What are
all you folks thinking?! Why in the world should any non-medical company
be involved, or want to be involved, in the health care business? Why do
companies that are having a hard enough time making cars have to deal with
this problem? Or retail chains? Or the owner of a corner bookstore? That
management and labor have to repeatedly engage in bitter battles over
health care compensation is social and economic madness. No other advanced
democracy is dumb enough to allow this sort of thing. The involvement of
general business in the health insurance business in the first place is an
accident of our nation's history. After WW II, when the rest of the west
was well on its way to universalizing health care along the lines of fire
and police protection, the US decided to dump the bulk of health care
costs on business. This was when medicine did not cost that much, and
American doctors were opposed tooth and nail to "socialized medicine". If
not for that error we would not be in the mess that we are now.

If they were in their right minds, all Yankee capitalists and investors
(outside the insurance industry) would be begging the feds to please,
please take this financial gorilla off their backs. Because health care
costs are so outrageously high, American products are overpriced compared
to their foreign competition, contributing to the trade imbalance and the
debt load, while suppressing job creation. That employees are fearful of
losing their health insurance if they quit their jobs impairs the job
mobility that is supposed to be one of the positive freedoms of the modern
economy. The sky high insurance premiums paid by the self employed (many
thousands of dollars per annum for a healthy person in their fifties) if
they can get it in the first place discourages people from striking out on
their own to set up the single person and small businesses that are
supposed to be another benefit of the 21st century economy.

Right wing "thinkers" like Newt Gingerich love spinning out one pet theory
after another on how to adjust the free market - and tax breaks that do
the lower classes little good because they don't pay taxes anyway - to
supposedly make health care more accessible and affordable. Cooking up
novel but not necessarily practical ideas gives them something to do, it's
intellectually entertaining. The conservative ideologues will never stop
concocting such schemes, which are nothing more than band aids whose
actual effect is to perpetually put off what has to be done. Doing the
latter is academically rather dull because little innovation is called
for, instead it means picking out and applying the best aspects of what
has already proven effective in western nations. The medical portion of
the economy is well on its way to engulfing a full fifth of the gross
national product as it bankrupts the middle class, and leaves the lower
class with out proper access to the care they desperately need. Things are
so bad that even the corporate powers are starting to discard the old knee
jerk ideological rejection of progressive medical coverage as they cry
uncle. As for McCain, he does not have a clue; his election will bog down
progress on the problem for yet more years.

The following is a modest proposal on how to reduce bitter left versus
right ideology in favor of a more bipartisan approach that voters will
support. First, emphasize the savings to be made by switching over to a
more progressive, universal arrangement in which every American has full
access to good solid health care simply by being a citizen. The savings
amount to trillions for the economy as a whole over the span of a few
years. For each person it is over couple thousand of dollars each year, or
well above a hundred thousand over a lifetime. No citizen will receive a
bewildering flurry of co-payment bills after receiving care. No American
will ever go bankrupt due to overwhelming medical expenses. It cannot be
overemphasized how imperative it is to get across how a universal system
will actually benefit the entrepreneurial free market by reducing the
burden of medical expenses, and by encouraging self-employment and small
businesses. Above all else, get the big corporations to see the big
advantages of getting out of the business of health coverage. Explain that
universal health care makes as much sense as socialized police and fire
protection, except that there is no need to adopt a fully socialized
system in which the entire medical complex is nationalized.

Do that, and the USA will finally be a first world nation with a first
world medical complex. One can only hope.

Gregory Paul is an independent researcher on subjects dealing with
paleontology, evolution, religion and society. Books include Predatory
Dinosaurs of the World and Dinosaurs of the Air. Read other articles by

This article was posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008 at 5:00 am and is
filed under Health/Medical, Socialism. Send to a friend.

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Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2008 15:09:40 -0500
From: Kip Sullivan <kiprs [at]>
Subject: Article III on DFL "reform" bills

"Medical homes": A warm and fuzzy distraction in the DFL leadership health bill
By Kip Sullivan, March 31, 2008

In my first two articles about the health bills sponsored by the DFL
leadership in the House and Senate, I discussed the provisions in them
that turn clinics and hospitals into insurance companies (via the
so-called "level 3 payment reforms"), and that impose report cards on
clinics and hospitals. In this article and the next I'll discuss a third
"reform," now contained in both bills, referred to as the "medical home"
(or "health care home").

The "medical home" fad arose within America's small but influential health
policy community about five years ago. It took Minnesota's policy-makers
by storm last year. During the 2007 legislative session, the public heard
nary a word about "medical homes." This year, "medical homes" (and
"payment reform") are all the Legislature can talk about. This warm and
very fuzzy concept is nowhere near as objectionable as the "level 3
payment reforms" and report cards. The main reason to be concerned about
it is its inability to accomplish much, its potential to raise
administrative costs, and its potential to distract legislators and the
public from real reform.

The Health Care Access Commission (HCAC) (one of two legislatively created
commissions on health care reform that met during the last half of 2007)
was the main instigator of the "medical home" fad in Minnesota. By the
fall of 2007, it was clear the HCAC was going to recommend the "medical
home" concept to the Legislature as a major cost-containment tool. Because
the HCAC was chaired by DFL Senator Linda Berglin and DFL Representative
Tom Huntley (the deans of health policy in their respective chambers),
this was a sure sign that "medical homes" would be all the rage in the
2008 legislative session.

Judging from the comments of, and documents written by, people who promote
"medical homes," the concept is impossible to define. The minimum I can
tell you is that the metaphor applies to primary care doctors and/or
clinics. It apparently does not apply to hospitals, and definitely does
not apply to specialists or to non-physician entities such as pharmacies.
To give you some idea of how fuzzy the concept is, I'll describe in some
detail a forum on "medical homes" that I attended last November 29 that
was hosted by the Department of Human Services (DHS, the state agency that
runs the state's public health insurance programs) at the Embassy Suites
Hotel in Bloomington.

                      SELLING A HEALTH POLICY FAD

When I lived in San Francisco in the late 1970s, friends who were aware of
my interest in yoga and meditation persuaded me to attend an event at the
Cow Palace at which a salesman named Werner Erhard, promoter of a fad
called est (Erhard Seminar Training), was speaking. As I listened to
Erhard, I realized he was saying nothing while appearing to say a lot. He
said things like "you're not getting it," "the state of knowing you know
nothing," and "I'm doing it because I'm doing it." These utterances made
him sound like he understood the world in ways ordinary people did not,
but the fact was he was nothing more than a man with an extraordinary gift
for bafflegab. As I sat through Erhard's performance, I felt like the
skunk at my friends' picnic. I was totally turned off, but I couldn't
share my feelings with anyone around me because they seemed to be
interested in what he had to say.

I felt the same way at the DHS event on "medical homes." I wanted to snort
and guffaw as one sincere speaker after another said nothing new and,
sometimes, nothing at all. The speakers laced their statements with
phrases loved by those who dominate the health policy debate, phrases like
"transforming the health care system," "paying for value," "coordinating
care," "linking with the community," "delivery systems," "teams," and of
course "medical home." Like Erhart's phrases, these phrases, used over and
over within the health policy community, create the illusion of deep
knowledge when in fact they reflect an ideology that actually does more to
confuse than to enlighten. But the audience of perhaps 80 people,
including leaders from the health insurance and medical industries, and at
least one legislator (Rep. Huntley), seemed very appreciative of what they
were hearing. Within a half hour or so after the program began, I felt
quite out of place.

                       THE UNBEARABLE FUZZINESS

As I waited for the DHS program to begin, I scanned the materials we had
been given at the registration table looking for a definition of "medical
home." Nowhere could I find one. The closest thing I could find was a
short string of abstract bullet points from a PowerPoint handout to be
used by one of the speakers, Dr. Jeff Schiff, DHS's medical director. The
handout bore the awe-inspiring title "Transforming primary care:
Developing a medical home in Minnesota." In a slide entitled, "What is a
medical home?" these bullet points appeared:

 primary care based care coordination;

 partnership with parents [yes, it said "parents"];

 linkages to community resources;

 continuous improvement process;

 improved office systems to track and monitor progress and evaluate

These bullet points told me nothing. They hinted that DHS was unhappy with
Minnesota doctors about something, and that DHS thought that if doctors
would create "medical homes" the problem, whatever it was, would be
ameliorated. But the key words in Dr. Schiff's slide - coordinating,
partnering, linking, improving, monitoring and evaluating - were too
abstract, and the phrases too short, to determine just what it was DHS
thought the problem was that "medical home" was the solution to.

Was DHS saying, for example, that doctors who work outside "medical homes"
don't "partner" with parents of patients? In all my years of studying
health policy, I had yet to encounter the claim that insufficient
"partnering with parents" was a significant cause of the American health
care crisis. (Don't ask me why "partnering" with "parents" is better than
"partnering" with children or spouses or plain-vanilla people who just
care about the patient). Did DHS think doctors outside "medical homes"
don't "link" with "community resources" and make no effort to improve
their services?

None of my questions would be answered. The first speaker, Assistant DHS
Commissioner Dr. Brian Osberg, told us that the solution to the health
care crisis was to create a health care system that "pays for value," and
that "medical home" was an example of "delivery reform" that would lead to
such a system. The second speaker, Dr. Schiff, not only declined to define
"medical home," he specifically stated, "You will not leave here knowing
how to turn your medical practice into a medical home." This despite the
subtitle of Dr. Schiff's talk ("developing a medical home in Minnesota"),
and despite the fact that the first portion of the agenda was entitled,
"Creating a medical home." Dr. Schiff didn't say why a five-hour seminar
on "medical home" would leave participants clueless about how to create
one. He said only that he wanted to lower the audience's expectations.

Then he introduced a pediatrician, Dr. Mary Rahrick, who was identified on
the agenda as with the Owatonna Clinic Medical Home Team. Dr. Rahrick is
unquestionably a passionately dedicated pediatrician. If I had kids, I'd
want her to be their pediatrician. But Dr. Rahrick's presentation was
embarrassingly superficial. She was supposed to explain how our health
care system can be "transformed" by "medical homes," but instead, with
much peppiness, she gave us a laundry list of mundane and, for the most
part, extremely obvious tasks doctors can do to make themselves more
attractive to patients. Like the first two speakers, she made no attempt
to define "medical home."

                      "MEDICAL HOME" SHOW AND TELL

With the aid of a PowerPoint slide show, replete with pictures of kids on
horses, Dr. Rahrick spoke for more than an hour. She began by telling us
she was part of a small multi-doctor clinic in Owatonna, and that she
worked primarily with kids with special needs, for example, kids with
Down's Syndrome, brain tumors, and attention deficit disorder. Her first
step in creating a "medical home" was to recruit three parents of her
patients to sit down with her and tell her how they thought she could
improve her practice. They told her, amazingly enough, they would like to
deal less often with recorded messages when they phone the clinic. So Dr.
Rahrick lobbied her clinic administrator to install a direct line for her
nurse, and she gave her cell phone number to the parents of 200 of her
sickest kids.

So, I wondered, did "medical home" simply mean devoting more resources to
a portion of your clientele (perhaps the sicker portion) so they could get
more and faster services from doctors and nurses than other patients? If
so, where did those resources come from? From the less favored patients?
From the taxpayer? From foundations? Dr. Rahrick didn't say. She did blurt
out midway through her presentation that one of the other physicians in
her practice was not happy with her. I inferred from that remark that Dr.
Rahrick's efforts to create the trappings of a "medical home" did require
additional resources, and at least some of those resources came from the
patients of her colleagues.

Here are the other actions Dr. Rahrick listed as somehow relevant to
creating a "medical home":

* She prepared written "emergency care plans" that can be rolled up and
inserted in plastic cylinders that parents can attach to strollers and car
seats so that parents can always have these plans nearby in case their
children have accidents and have to go to emergency rooms.

* She and her three parents wrote up a "fax-back form" that parents give
to specialists (for example, a neurologist in Minneapolis) that the
specialist can then use to fax information to Dr. Rahrick so she can know
what the specialist said before the parents return to Owatonna. (She
didn't say why a special form was helpful or why such great speed was that
important, she didn't explain why email or phones wouldn't work just as
well, and she admitted the "fax-back form" doesn't get used that much).

* She prepared three-ring notebooks for the kids' parents that have
special sections for phone numbers for specialists, lists of immunizations
the kids have had, etc. She bought each parent a three-hole punch so they
could punch their own holes in documents to be added later. (She said some
parents love the notebooks, some don't).

* She wrote a grant proposal to the Linus Program and Wal-Mart to buy
blankets for hospitalized kids.

* She sends a newsletter periodically to the parents of the 200 special
needs kids.

* She called a local respite-care service provider to get brochures from
that provider that she can give to parents. ("I knew none of this before
medical home," she explained).

* She persuaded a local lab to send nurses to her clinic so that the kids
don't have to be taken to the lab.

* She fired either her receptionist or got the clinic's receptionist fired
(I'm not sure which) and got one "more dedicated to me."

* She prepared a scrapbook on the history of "medical home" that
apparently sits in her waiting room.

* She did something to her waiting room to make it easier for parents to
keep an eye on their kids while they wait.

                        STILL NOT GETTING IT

Despite having plenty of time to explain "medical home" to us, Dr. Rahrick
did not do that. Nor did she attempt to explain how her list of little
improvements was in any way a solution to the health care crisis. She
offered no evidence that the extra attention she gave to a relatively
small number of her clinic's patients lowered costs or would in any other
way contribute to the "transformation" of Minnesota's health care system.
Although Dr. Osberg had said in his speech that "medical home" somehow
would lead to, or illustrated the notion of, "payment for value" (is your
brain falling over trying to follow this?), Dr. Rahrick said nothing at
all about receiving "payment for value."

As I left the hotel that night, I wondered if the Health Care Access
Commission and the Legislature would do a better job of describing
"medical homes" than DHS and Dr. Rahrick had. Let me pop the unbearable
suspense right now: Neither the February 2008 report of the Health Care
Access Commission, nor the legislation introduced by the DFL leadership
that SAME month, defined "medical home." That didn't prevent them from
promoting the concept. I'll explain further in my next article.

[The rich don't produce much. But, as the above shows once again, they're
superb at song and dance, smoke and mirrors, obfuscation, underhanded
manipulation, lying, getting longer yachts, and increasing our misery.
Most legislators most of the time like them better than us. And yet we
continue to vote for them and their corporate parties. Perhaps we should
have our heads examined - assuming we have any health money left after
paying the bloated insurance bills. -ed]

--------23 of 23--------

                       Jack Nelson-Palmeyer
                     sheep in wolf's clothing

                sound and fury signifying franken


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