Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

More on Health Care

Republicans claim the U.S. health care system is the best in the world. Any worker knows this is sheer nonsense. The health care system is a mess. In fact, the health care system is just as rotten as the capitalist system itself because like everything under this system the primary motivation is profit; there is no escaping this basic truth.

Many people now question the advice from doctors because they wonder how much of what the doctor bases a diagnosis on is motivated by profits.

Everyone has their fingers in the health care trough.

No one can deny that health care is a big, big business.

Pharmaceutical companies are advertising their products on T.V., radio, newspapers, and on the Internet... they are telling people what drugs they should advise their doctors to prescribe. Isn't it supposed to be the doctor's job to tell the patient what medications are needed? Not any more.

Hospitals urge doctors to get their patients to use high priced diagnostic testing procedures on the basis of keeping the technology in use... much like a traffic cop's monthly "quota."

Once the doctor gets you into the "system" there is no getting out... it is on to the next text... from there on to the next specialist with one doctor prescribing this, another that.

Just renting a wheelchair demonstrates the profit gouging behind the entire fiasco being passed off as health care.

A wheelchair rents for about $125.00 a month. Medicare pays 80%. Medicare will not purchase the wheel chair for thirteen months for the patient. A new wheelchair costs $870.00. Do the math. Between the government and the patient a $870.00 wheelchair that is way over-priced to begin with ends up being rented out for over twice the retail price and the patient and Medicare end up buying a used wheelchair for even more. It is no wonder the Medicare system is so costly... yet even with profit gouging like this it is far better than anything else in this country when it comes to health care.

Figure it out; how can any health care system end up in anything but a mess when a wheelchair that retails for $870.00 that is over-priced to start with ends up costing the government and the patient over $2,000.00? Many more examples could be provided.

Is this the kind of Medicare for all we are seeking? Not at all. We need to put an end to the profit gouging orgy of the health care industry at level; from the insurance company rip-off right on up through the profit gouging orgy of the hospitals, HMO's, pharmaceutical companies, and even hospice "services." Hospice is another big rip-off... making money of of killing people when the rest of the health care industry can no longer profit.

What we have in this country is cradle to the grave health care rip-off when what we need is a cradle to the grave no-fee, comprehensive, all-inclusive, single-payer, universal health care system to get us on the road to a full scale socialized health care system.

The only reform that has any chance of success in the way of health care is to break away from the strangle-hold the insurance companies and HMO's now have on our health care system. There is no other way.

For years the American Medical Association has been calling single-payer health care a "Bolshevik" plot. The AMA took out advertising in major newspapers for years with this accusation.

What many people do not know is that Frances Perkins, the first woman to ever hold a presidential cabinet position who was appointed by FDR insisted that health care be part of the New Deal reform package. the AMA and the insurance industry and big business lobbied against this... we should have universal health care now just like we have Social Security.

Besides not wanting to forgo tremendous profits to be made from health care, there is another reason big business, the insurance companies, the United States Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, Republicans, most Democrats, and the AMA are so deathly opposed to single-payer, universal health care or socialized health care; they understand that once every single person in this country has access to such a universal program people will understand that there are many benefits to socialization and people will begin to question if other industries might not run better if brought under public control; and this is the primary reason big business and all of its partners have fought tooth and nail against anything that smacks of socialized health care.

Note: Check out the right-wing talk shows... where is most of their venom directed? Towards politicians who advocate single-payer, universal health care or some variant of socialized health care.

Even Hillary Clinton is being accused of being a Marxist by the hosts of the the right-wing talk radio.

Unfortunately, many advocates of single-payer, universal health care are trying to distance their support for single-payer from socialized health care... some cringe at the suggestion that single-payer is a step towards socialized health care without explaining what is wrong with socialized health care. This is unfortunate because as working people, our goal is a health care system the puts the health care needs of people as the one and only priority; we don't give a damn about the survival of insurance companies nor do we care if the HMO's go broke... the public sector can manage the health care system very nicely; this has been proven over and over again. In fact, health care systems work as they should when the profit motivation is taken out of the picture at every level.

I was quoted widely by the media when I said the present for-profit health care system is as rotten as the capitalist system itself because it is a product that has grown from a system that places profits above all else. Some people cringed at hearing this basic truth. The right-wing cried out... "see, those people advocating single-payer, universal health care are a bunch of socialists;" in my case this happens to be true... it is time more socialists begin advocating for single-payer, universal health care.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The State of the Union; Bush, the Democrats, the alternative

Bush's State of the Union speech was just about as anticipated... but, the Democratic response has been just as shameful.

The Democrats continue to go backwards on single-payer, universal health care; choosing instead to create as much confusion as possible on this issue as Bush tries to bring all working people down on this issue while enriching even further the insurance companies and the HMO's. The only way to begin to address the health care issue is to take the insurance companies and HMO's right out of the picture. All this talk from both Democrats and Republicans about there being some kind of special relationship between patient and doctor is a bunch of crap. Many of the best doctors are employed by the public sector all over the world. Socialized, public health care is what we need to strive for.

As for the war in Iraq, Bush is hell bent on expanding this war into Iran and Syria and won't be satisfied until this entire region is in chaos. Again, like on health care, the Democrats have refused to be assertive in bringing this dirty war to an end. Many Democrats still talk about "winning" and "completing the mission."

There never was anything to win in this war in Iraq and this "mission" never should have begun in the first place. What exactly is there to "win?" Absolutely nothing. What is the "mission." No one dares to say. Both questions go unanswered by those who use these terms.

There are only two objectives: oil and regional domination. Iraqis will fight to control their oil; they will never give in to U.S. imperialism's attempt to dominate the region... nor will Iranians, Syrians, Palestinians or any one else.

Bush intends to further inflame national, religious, and ethnic hatreds to the point that peace in the region will take years to achieve; this remains Bush's only strategy.

At this point, only George McGovern's "Blueprint" to end the war in Iraq offers any meaningful way to end war; so far Democrats, shamefully, have refused to discuss this.

Working people have endured six long years of Bush as Democrats did nothing. Now, even after voters have delivered the Democrats a firm mandate the Democrats still acquiesce in the name of "moderation" and "bi-partisan" unity. There has been nothing "moderate" or "bi-partisan" in character to Bush and the big-business agenda that he has pushed without relent for the past six years.

The time has come for working people to serve notice on the Democrats that acquiescence was not what working people had in mind entering the polling booths on November 7.

The Democrats were given a clear mandate to end this dirty war and to get us out of Iraq now. The Democrats were given a very clear mandate that nothing less than no-fee, comprehensive, all-inclusive, single-payer, universal health care is acceptable as an alternative to the health care mess we got into because everyone from doctors to hospitals, HMO's and insurance companies view health care as just another get rich quick gimmick... the time has come to put the health care needs of people before profits.

Once again, the Democratic Party has missed the boat... money being wasted on war should be used to create a single-payer, universal health care system. The cost of such a system would be less than what this war is presently costing us every six months. Since the Democrats refuse to respond, only independent action on the part of working people will achieve peace and health care. It is time to send the Democrats a very firm and clear message: Acquiesence will not suffice.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Labor Creates All Wealth

Throughout the "Labor and Sustainability Conference" this past weekend in St. Paul, it was repeatedly stressed that "labor creates all wealth."

This was a very important and fundamental observation that needs to be stressed over and over again.

Without working women and men who are employed in industry there would be no production of anything. There would be no profits for corporations to report to their stockholders; no coupons for the Wall Street bunch of thieves to clip.

Which brings up a most important topic: why have unions in this country been so slow to educate their members about this very basic truth and the economic fundamentals that flow from this?

Many conference participants observed that unions have been very slow to respond to issues concerning workplace issues and wages, plant closings, environmental issues and global warming largely because unions have done a very poor job of educating members.

This is going to have to change.

A starting point would be to build on the very successful "Labor and Sustainability Conference" with a follow-up conference on "Labor Economics."

The time has come to begin talking about the politics and economics of livelihood as we push forward with a progressive agenda where labor asserts it's right to fully participate in the decision making process.

It was good that a few Minnesota Legislators attended this conference to hear what workers themselves have to say about global warming. Now it is time for workers and progressive legislators to focus on the economic reasons why so many problems like poverty and global warming exist in the first place.

We need to fully understand the role of capitalism, and its most advanced imperialist form--- which is often referred to as "globalization" or "capitalist globalization", in order to comprehend the problems we are experiencing.

Workers need to comprehend and understand fully what is actually meant by the phrase "labor creates all wealth" if workers are to become fully empowered in order to actively participate in the decision making process.

We need to begin to focus on Marxist economics.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Another Inconvenient Truth about Global Warming

An "inconvenient truth" about global warming is that this problem will not be resolved until working people are fully brought into the decision making process.

The "Labor and Sustainability Conference" held this weekend (Friday and Saturday) in St. Paul, Minnesota at the UAW hall and in the UAW-Ford-MNScu Training Center connected to the Plant was a great success that exceeded the expectations of all. Bringing together mostly labor activists that included labor leaders and rank and file activists, together with some environmental activists and a few Minnesota legislators there was near unanimous agreement that when public funds are used to find solutions to global warming, industries receiving these funds should be publicly owned... a case in point being the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant slated for closing which will leave two thousand auto workers who built Ford Rangers without employment. The plant is about as "green" as any manufacturing process will ever reach; and, this "green" accomplishment is the direct result of the far-sighted efforts of the workers and their union that pushed "green" at the bargaining table because workers understood that a manufacturing process that is healthy for workers employed in the plant would contribute to a more livable community outside the plant. This "green manufacturing process" that has come to be the hallmark of the Twin Cities Ford Assembly Plant is a very hi-tech plant complete with a publicly financed research center along with its own green, clean hydro generating facility on the Mississippi River providing all power required to operate the plant at full capacity that is an example of where we need to see production heading. As a result everyone is wondering why such a plant would be closed, when in fact it could be kept open under public ownership that could see employment rise to 10,000 to 14,000 workers if operated properly producing those elements of what a "green" society will need in order to bring global warming under control. It was noted that hundreds of other jobs are dependent on the continued operation of this plant, including the jobs of many miners in the Taconite industry on the Iron Range.

There was a general consensus among those attending this "Labor and Sustainability Conference" that the struggle to keep the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant open is where a new level of worker participation in the decision making process must begin.

Organizers and those in attendance felt that this conference marked a new step in bringing together liberals, progressives, and socialists who voiced the opinion that they were looking for this conference as a beginning to fostering further initiatives.

Those in attendance came from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, California, North Dakota, Ontario, and Manitoba.

One hundred eighty seven people attended the Friday evening opening session, and more than three hundred people participated altogether including in one or more of the eleven workshops.

Most of the participants were from Minnesota and came from all areas of the state; from Warroad, Ely, the Iron Range to Duluth and Thief River Falls and from as far south as Mankato.

This conference will be the topic of many more postings in the weeks ahead and more information can be had at the conference's web site.

We shall see how the major media covers this conference.

Also of interest was the fact that the need to end the war in Iraq and the struggle for single-payer, universal health care were very closely connected to the issues being discussed with these two topics constantly popping up in workshops and casual discussions.

The labor agenda seems to be coming clearly focused on these statewide issues: the need to keep the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant open, protect jobs on the Iron Range, stopping Minntac from contaminating the streams, rivers, lakes, and lands of northern Minnesota, and halting peat mining in the Big Bog.

This conference laid bare the lie that workers want jobs no matter what the consequences to the environment. Workers want jobs that pay living wages that do not harm the environment.

There was unanimous agreement that any job is a good job as long as workers have the benefit of being protected by union contracts. It was pointed out on numerous occasions throughout the conference in many different ways and through examples that most of the jobs now being referred to as "good jobs with good wages and benefits" were at one time among the jobs that were considered the dirtiest, most unsafe jobs that nobody would have thought of as being good jobs until union organization was achieved.

There was unanimous agreement among those in attendance that there was no shortage of jobs, but that to turn jobs into good jobs it would be necessary to organize the unorganized.

It was also repeatedly pointed out throughout the conference that many of the worst corporate polluters can get away with their dirty deeds only because employees without the benefit of union contracts were afraid of exposing what the corporations are doing because of fear of losing their jobs.

There seemed to be a very mixed feeling concerning how labor should approach some of the more controversial methods aimed at, or claiming to, be alternatives to halting global warming but one thing that was very clear, labor activists are prepared to talk to each other and others about their differences of opinion on these issues in a very forthright and friendly way.

Perhaps the most important conclusion that anyone coming away from this conference, whether a conference participant or an observer, is that working people feel they have a right to fully participate in the decision making processes that affect their rights in the workplace and in the communities where they live... working people are insisting on having a say in this decision making process, and have served notice by their participation in this worker initiated and organized "Labor and Sustainability Conference" on the corporations and the politicians that working people will not settle for anything less.

Many people told conference organizers that they wanted to attend the conference but had other commitments... and many of those who did not attend were involved in many other aspects of making this conference the success that it was which will insure that this conference is just the beginning of something that is sure to become a lot bigger.

One thing for sure: this conference continues to build on the true thinking, creative, action-oriented, progressive legacy for which Minnesota's workers are well known.

Pictures of the conference will be posted in days ahead.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Minnesota Reaction to Bush's "Surge" Speech

Please note: my next posting will be on Sunday.

No matter where I go in Minnesota I find little support for the war in Iraq, and even less for Bush's new strategy of "surging troops" in Iraq.

Minnesotans by and large were opposed to this war in Iraq before it started, and have become even more opposed as the war has dragged on and the body bags are filled.

Most Minnesotans say they would rather see all the money being wasted on this war used, instead, to create a single-payer, universal health care system.

If anyone doubts the above statement I would be willing to go out and any street corner to ask people their thoughts... something United States Congressman Collin Peterson might consider doing before he talks to the media the next time.

One can't help but wonder where Minnesota politicians are coming from on this war. Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor 7th District Congressman Collin Peterson is the epitome of stupidity when it comes to this dirty little war to occupy Iraq for oil and regional political domination.

Peterson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press, "I agree with the president that the troops, a lot of them from our district, are doing an outstanding job over there. I don't know that I trust their new strategy, in light of all the things I've heard. If we were surging a lot more troops than that, maybe I'd be more comfortable."

Peterson is as dumb as they come; he just doesn't get it. And he is worried about his "comfort level" as Minnesotans are shipped off to their deaths.

Roseau County is in Congressman Peterson's district. Congressman Peterson never even bothered to show up for our county convention because he didn't have the moral courage or the political courage to defend his stand in support of this terrible war in Iraq.

The Roseau County DFL county convention unanimously passed a strongly worded resolution which stated in part, "The war in Iraq is based upon lies and deceit... a date must be set to end this war now."

As the Roseau County DFL member of the DFL State Central Committee, I have circulated George McGovern's "Blueprint" to end the war among my friends and neighbors all over Roseau County. I have not had one single person tell me they are opposed to McGovern's plan, with the exception of three people who have sons and a daughter stationed in Iraq... and for them, McGovern's proposal does not end this dirty little war soon enough... they didn't want their children over there to start with, and they want them home right now. Nor do they want to see other Minnesotans join the sitting ducks now stationed over in Iraq.

Congressman Peterson's position is very clear; Peterson thinks (and I use the word "think" very loosely with regard to Peterson) that this war is right and justified... he doesn't like the Bush proposal to surge troops because Bush isn't burying more troops in this quagmire.

Peterson has no understanding of the nature of colonialism or imperialism; he has no understanding of why Americans and Iraqis are dying in this senseless war. Worse yet, he doesn't want to learn.

Peterson is a pitiful excuse for a politician; I wouldn't vote for him if he was running for the proverbial dog catcher. In fact, Peterson couldn't even find a Minnesotan to nominate him to run for Congress, he had to bring in his friend Mark Froemke from North Dakota to nominate him.

Yes, that is right... a registered voter and legal resident of North Dakota was brought into Minnesota to nominate Peterson at the 7th District nominating convention because a Minnesotan couldn't be found for the ceremony. Bizarre? Yes. Fact? Yes. Maybe like the war, illegal.

And, the 7th District DFL Chair encouraged and organized this... and, the DFL State leadership tolerated this; apparently afraid that Peterson would run as the Republican he really is. I say, let the Republicans have Peterson.

Now, I know that North Dakotans want to build this water pipeline from Lake of the Woods to North Dakota real bad in order to steal our water; but, for North Dakota Republicans to send over someone to nominate a Congressman to carry forward this theft by promoting this kind of boondoggle is going a little too far, if you ask me.

I wonder what Froemke thinks about the war in Iraq? Must be he supports Peterson's position since he rallied his troops at the last 7th District Nominating Convention to oppose the idea of even having any discussion about this dirty war lest it be an embarrassment to Peterson... so much for the democracy Bush and Peterson say the war is about... Wally Sparvy, Peterson's loyal Assistant here in the 7th Congressional District, sees to it that anyone who opposes the war never gets to sit down and talk with Peterson.

Peterson has pushed for huge defense department contracts for Polaris in Roseau and Mattracks in Karlstad; Mattracks has now taken these tax-payer dollars and invested in building a huge new plant in China which has cost over 250 jobs in our own 7th Congressional District. Peterson and Froemke talk about, "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs;" neither one has explained how Mattracks building this huge new plant in China is serving workers in our own Congressional District. Both Polaris and Mattracks manufacture equipment being used by the U.S. military trying their dead best to occupy Iraq.

In fact, Peterson is a Republican on every single issue... his support for this war even surpasses the support of the Republican stragglers still defending Bush; no Minnesota Republicans have dared to say more troops should be "surged" into Iraq... not even that arrogant Michele Bachmann. Peterson is alone, except for John McCain and his side-kick, Joe Lieberman, in saying that more troops should be "surged" into Iraq. Oh yes, the good old American Enterprise Institute is all for a big "surge," too... these miseducated, misdirected adjuncts who call themselves professors are for anything that might cause corporate profits to "surge;" and war is big business.

To even suggest that more troops are needed is to state that this war is morally and politically justified... and, oh yes, legal.

In fact, this war is none of the above.

Collin Peterson has never put forward one single reason to support this war in Iraq... how could he, there is no reason for it; just one big pile of lies.

Collin Peterson should be ashamed of himself for supporting this dirty war that is bringing so much grief and sorrow to so many families here in the United States and in Iraq.

My suggestion to Collin Peterson is that he reverse his opposition to single-payer, universal health care along with his support for the war in Iraq and get with a program that the majority of his constituents support: use this money being squandered in Iraq to "surge" forward with creating a world-class, comprehensive, no-fee, single-payer, universal health care system so his constituents won't have to cross the border into Canada to buy their medications.

Off the subject of the war in Iraq and back to this Republican boondoggle to steal water from Lake of the Woods... perhaps Congressman Peterson might suggest to his friend from North Dakota--- Mr. Froemke, that instead of building a pipeline from Lake of the Woods to North Dakota, that this pipeline be built instead from Minntac's "Clear Water Reservoir" to North Dakota; after all, by the time Minntac's environmental engineers get done talking about their "water inventory reduction proposal" the water in this reservoir is good enough to drink... I hope North Dakota Republicans take my advice... being advocates of the "entrepreneurial spirit," they could add a little of that America Crystal Sugar to the water and create a real invigorating brew... I can see it now... a campaign poster of Collin Peterson wearing fatigues and Army Helmet while sitting on a Polaris ATV equipped with Mattracks that has run out of gas waiting for an ethanol delivery in the middle of the big-muddy headwaters, sipping a sweet "Clear Water" brew from a plastic bottle manufactured in China... as a wipes the sweat from his brow saying, "We can win this war in Iraq, if only President Bush would take my advice and "surge" 120,000 more troops."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Blogging, Democracy: "Framing" issues for "spam filters"

Veteran journalist Bill Moyers on Friday challenged
3,000 progressive activists and communicators to take
back the telling of America's story at the National
Conference of Media Reform in Memphis. He put his
finger squarely on the deep vein of discontent with the
way mainstream media is ill-serving American democracy.

Moyers, who is president of the Schumann Center for
Media and Democracy, went through a sordid litany of
corporate media malfeasance, from the lackluster and
largely non-skeptical reporting of the Bush
administration's launch of the war in Iraq to the lack
of attention paid to a domestic landscape of increasing
economic disparity and racial segregation. Virtually
uncontrolled media consolidation over the past decade,
he said, has meant a loss of independent journalism and
created 'more narrowness and homogenization in content
and perspective, so that what we see on our couch is
overwhelmingly the view from the top.'

It is in this environment that the Bush administration
can, for example, can 'turn the escalation of a failed
war and call it a surge, as if it were a current of
electricity through a wire instead of blood spurting
from the ruptured veins of a soldier,' Moyers said.

On the domestic front, 'the question of whether or not
our economic system is truly just is off the table for
investigation and discussion, so that alternative
ideas, alternative critiques, alternative visions never
get a hearing,' he said.

'It is clear what we have to do. We have to tell the
story ourselves,' he said.

What Moyers is calling for is a two-pronged attack.
Activists should continue pressing the established
media to live up to the public service obligations of
the Communications Act of 1934, obligations that have
been trampled in the past two decades as both political
parties succumb to the influence of enormously powerful
telecommunications and entertainment company lobbies.
At the same time, the Internet and digital
communication tools allow every citizen to become a
Thomas Paine, he said, challenging the establishment
with an alternative vision of social justice and
government for the common good. It makes it possible,
he said for citizens to say to those who seek to exert
imperial control over both government and the means to
be informed about government, 'you no longer own the
copyright to America's story.

Re: I wonder how this gets "framed?"

Where is George Lakoff when we need him?

I just got off the phone with Paul Cumings, the Legislative assistant
to Minnesota State Representative David Olin who represents my
district... I wondered why my e-mails have not been responded to.

It seems that Dennis Kerns who is in charge of the IT department
(Information Services) has installed a "spam filter" and programmed it
to filter out "unwanted e-mails." Such e-mails are e-mails that contain
"harsh" language. In other words... improperly "framed" e-mails.

When I asked for an example of what is meant by "harsh language" I was
told... "Well, let's put it this way; if you send an e-mail saying 'this
is a crappy day' our spam filter is going to catch that."

"Crappy" days are no longer allowed.

I figured there was a problem someplace when lots of people I was
talking to started telling me they were not getting responses from state
legislators who usually respond to their concerns.

Now, using the concept of "democracy" which does have something to do
with two way communication between legislators and constituents... how
do we "frame" what is taking place in the Cities?

I tried experiments today with several Minnesota legislators... I first
sent them my daily blog posting which covers the topic of health care...
none of the legislators were able to receive this e-mail.

Check out the disgraceful language I used:

I then sent an e-mail with just my name and address in the body of the
e-mail with the subject line "test, did you receive this?"

No problem... we were able to correspond in exchanging addresses and
phone numbers.

I then sent the e-mail with the same subject line but the body stated:
"End this dirty war in Iraq and use the funds to finance single-payer,
universal health care."

This message did not make it through the filters.

I then sent an e-mail which stated in the subject line: "Thank you." In
the body I wrote, "You are doing a superb job. Keep up the good work.
You have my vote."

This message made it through the spam filters installed by Dennis Kern
just fine.

So, if you have not received a response from your state legislator
recently you might want to call him/her.

You should also begin to study George Lakoff very thoroughly,
especially regarding learning how to "frame" your issues and the tenor
of your e-mails because first you must get by the "spam filter" that has
been programmed by Dennis Kern.

I was assured that my name has not been entered into the list of those
whose e-mails are being filtered out.

Please be kind in begging for your bones from Minnesota legislators or
you may have to speak more than once using a different method.

Does anyone want to take a shot at "framing" the word "democracy?"

Damn! I shouldn't have used the word "shot." I bet now this e-mail gets
filtered to the file that goes to the FBI and Homeland Security... as
for the "Damn," no doubt the e-mail will also go to a preacher that will
try to save me. I better learn to stop saying things like "this rotten
government is pissing away our hard earned tax-dollars on this dirty war
in Iraq instead of creating a world class single-payer, universal health
care system."

Mr. Kern doesn't like his telephone number given out, but what the
hell... here it is: 651-297-7502.

I don't suppose any of the legislators are receiving news of the
lynchings in Iraq? This would be way too gruesome for a system that won't
even permit a "crappy day."

Now that I know that Representative David Olin understands my concern
about single-payer, universal health care I can rest assured he will
find a way to "frame" his response properly so that it will pass the
"screening" test.

The moral of this story: Now you know why it is so hard to get a
straight answer from an elected official... they are trying to get by
the "spam filter."

Make the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights a living
reality for all people: End the war in Iraq, Universal Healthcare,
increase the minimum wage to a real living wage, defend and expand
Social Security, save the Big Bog;

Yours in the struggle,

Alan L. Maki
[Roseau County member of the state central committee, MN DFL]

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, MN 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432

Twenty-thousand Minnesotans go to work in smoke-filled casinos at
poverty wages without any rights under Minnesota or Federal labor laws.

Please check out my daily blog:


This is an e-mail I received from Nathan Hunstad who is in charge of the Minnesota DFL Caucus Information Technology Department regarding my e-mails not making it to my state Representative David Olin.

From: Nathan Hunstad
To: red_finn_minnesota_progressive@yahoo.com
Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 7:23:29 AM
Subject: Re: [swan] Fwd: [Stumps] Lakoff on Truthout re Framing, Death, and Democracy, 20070116

This message made it through the spam filters just fine, despite the use
of the words "crappy", "hell", and so forth. I do not know exactly how
the spam filter works, but I would guess that it looks not only at the
words in the message, but the proportion of banned words to other words.
Thus, a message consisting only of profanities would not get through.


I have sent the following e-mail to members of the newsmedia

From: Alan Maki
To: members of the media;

The Legislative "Spam Filter" has been set by Dennis Kerns the head of the Minnesota Legislature's Information Technology Department so that Minnesota Legislators cannot receive many of my daily blog postings because of "content."

Please feel free to check out my daily blog postings to read what Minnesota legislators are being protected from:

Republican State Representative Tony Cornish initiated this "banning" of ideas.

This use of the Legislative "Spam Filter" to isolate our public officials from the views of concerned citizens is a very important question.

It is imperative that the line of communication remains open between legislators and constituents in Minnesotan with various concerns about many issues that affect their lives.

What is at stake is the democratic process itself. People have a right to participate in the decision making process; not simply being informed of the decisions that are made.

E-mail, and blogging, are now accepted component parts of the modern political process.

Politicians who do not wish to read nor understand the various points of view should look to more partisan political activity and not run for public office if they are so narrow-minded that they have to silence others in quest of their political goals and objectives.

Representative Tony Cornish has called me numerous names and is not capable of any kind of meaningful dialogue on issues relating to war and peace, the environment, the minimum wage, the rights of casino workers, and single-payer, universal health care. Now he has worked with Dennis Kerns to silence me and opponents of the corporate agenda.

How many legislators will now say they have not acted to promote single-payer, universal health care because they have not heard from their constituents; when in fact, their constituents' e-mail messages have been banned by way of "spam filters" being abused to subvert the democratic process.

Many of my daily blogs to my own state representative are not getting through the system "spam filter," how many other constituents are being blocked in the same manner? This is a legitimate question for all of us to be concerned about.

It is not a question of "if" this "spam filter" is operating in such a manner; Nathan Hunstad the DFL Caucus IT Administrator has acknowledged that in fact this "spam filter" operates in such a manner... and Dennis Kerns himself proudly admits responsibility for the operation of this "spam filter."

Certainly the words that I use are used by many other people on a daily basis; some of the words I use actually appear in many dictionaries.

Since much of what I write about is also addressed by many others... I think it is safe to assume that since both Dennis Kerns and Mr. Hunstad acknowledge that it is not my name, or the name of my blog, that is being blocked by the spam filters... that the e-mails from many others are not getting through to legislators, and perhaps even e-mails from legislators to their constituents are not making it through, either.

This is no small or inconsequential problem we are discussing. The media has a responsibility to investigate this matter of just what kind of "spam filter" is being used, and for what purposes; and the person, Mr. Dennis Kerns, who has been entrusted with the responsibility of programming this "spam filter" should be fired immediately. The House Ethics Committee should fully investigate Representative Tony Cornish's role in all of this.

Alan L. Maki

Please check out my daily blog:


I sent this e-mail to the following:

To: jragsdale@pioneerpress.com; jwelsh@pioneerpress.com; ncoleman@startribune.com; cdefiebre@startribune.com; sperry@citypages.com; nwatch@nwatch.com; rep.tony.cornish@house.mn

Cc: rep.david.olin@house.mn; rep.bernie.lieder@house.mn; rep.neva.walker@house.mn; rep.bill.hilty@house.mn; rep.brita.sailer@house.mn; rep.thomas.huntley@house.mn

I found out quite by accident that my e-mails to Minnesota State legislators are being banned by the "spam filter." If you have not received responses from state legislators to your e-mails, this may be your problem, also.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

George McGovern's "Blueprint" for ending the war in Iraq

Note: I am publishing an e-mail I sent to peace activists, elected officials, along with the McGovern "Blueprint" for a way out of Iraq, followed by a commentary... this is a very lengthy post but the major media has refused to tolerate discussion. You may also access the original McGovern article in Harper's by clicking on the title.

Marie Braun;

I am a member of Minnesotans for Peace and Social Justice, an organization that began in order to try to stop the war in Iraq from starting in the first place. I spoke out at numerous anti-war rallies and demonstrations, met with numerous public officials and their staffs as you are doing now, and have continued to speak out against this dirty war as a union activist and union organizer. I am also a member of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party State Central Committee from Roseau County--- our County Convention unanimously passed a resolution “for ending the illegal and immoral war in Iraq, a war based upon lies and deceit.” You may obtain the resolution from our County Chair, Ley Soltis.

I received this letter of yours via Shove’s “Progressive Calendar:

From: braun044

Subject: Klobuchar/demands 1.18 10am

Dear Peacemakers,

I want to invite you to join members of the Peace Community at Senator Amy Klobuchar's Office this Thursday, January 18 at 10:00 am. We will meet with Sarah Grewing, State Director, and Zach Rodvold, Military & Veteran's Policy Specialist, to present our positions on the war on Iraq.

The Senator is temporarily using Senator Dayton's office space at:

Bishop Henry Whipple Building

1 Federal Drive, Suite 298

Fort Snelling, MN 55111

The Twin Cities Peace Campaign is coordinating visits with each of the Minnesota Congresspersons or their staff members during early January to urge our representatives to support an immediate end to the war. Roxanne Abbas and I will be presenting the position of the Twin Cities Peace Campaign and others can express their personal perspectives or their group's position.

Let's present a unified position to:

1. End the occupation and begin bringing the troops home now.
2. Cut off all further funding for the war.
3. Close all U.S. bases in Iraq.
4. Assume responsibility for reparations.

If you can come to the meeting, you might want to give me a call so that we have some idea how many people will be there and what groups will be represented.

Marie Braun for Twin Cities Peace Campaign-Focus on Iraq

As a long-time peace activist, I have a suggestion… I believe that you should put forward George McGovern’s “Blueprint” for ending the war in Iraq in your meetings with Klobuchar staff and others… this is the most sensible solution, given the circumstances, for ending the war in Iraq.

In addition to meeting with elected officials, I would encourage you to also meet with the various representatives of all political parties in Minnesota and urge their governing bodies to take up these four points, perhaps a fifth, which I will conclude this letter with.

The only other alternative is a complete bloodbath involving the senseless escalation of the killing of Iraqis which will then result in an unprecedented violent retaliatory killing of U.S troops… with the United States being driven from Iraq, as in Vietnam.

The time has come for the “peace movement” to enter into the political arena in a responsible manner that unites not only the peace movement, but the American people who went to the polls on November 7 voting with the anticipation that this dirty war for oil will end. Your responsibility is to reflect the wishes of these voters, as well as the peace movement; and in doing so present something that will bring all of these voters into the peace movement, the “peace community,” in a very active way.

The policy of U.S. imperialism has been to push religious, national, and ethnic conflicts with the escalation of violence in Iraq… the very--- intentional--- gruesome manner in which the hangings have been carried out has insured violent religious, national, and ethnic animosities will continue for a long time.

No one should find it strange, or in any way odd, that the United States government would be using, as a tactic, the inciting of national, ethnic, and religious conflict in Iraq. Such has been the policies of the government of the United States from its very inception… beginning with the genocidal campaigns against the First Nations Peoples, then to justify slavery, then to justify cheap wages, this was a widely used tactic to disrupt the socialist countries following World War II and to prevent many western European countries from taking the road to socialism; and during the civil rights movement here in the United States the case of civil rights activist Dr. Walter Bergman in which a United States Federal District Court Judge ruled that the United States Department of Justice and the FBI incited racial hatreds as a means to try to prevent a united Black and white response to racial injustice with the FBI planting its people inside of the KKK, not to gather information on this racist and terrorist organization, or to bring it down, but rather, to use this racist organization as part of government strategy aimed at protecting segregation and Jim Crow. The tactic was later employed in South Africa and finally the years of fomenting and inciting national, ethnic, and religious animosities and hostilities paid off in the Soviet Union... the CIA and the National Security Agency had plans to use these disruptive tactics for many years and it is common knowledge that the CIA and NSA used Nazi war criminals in their strategies inside the Soviet Union for many years. Today in China the CIA is hard at work fostering such divisions, also.

The very gruesome manners in which the hangings have been carried out have been intentionally meant to further inflame violent ethnic, national, and religious conflict for many years to come in Iraq.

To date, only the McGovern “Blueprint” for ending U.S. involvement in Iraq considers this important question relating to these ethnic, national, and religious conflicts and that is why both Democrats and Republicans who support the general policies of U.S. imperialism abroad, which includes Amy “Republican Lite” Klobuchar, have refused to address and respond to the McGovern “Blueprint.”

I believe as representatives of the peace movement meeting with the staffs of elected politicians you have the responsibility to bring the McGovern “Blueprint” forward… the call for ending the war now--- “Out Now”--- and cutting all funding is simply not good enough because unless there is an actual plan to mobilize the American people around taking into consideration the very real situation that has been created and fostered by an intentional strategy of which ethnic, religious, and national hatreds have been incited and inflamed… we are going to see the United States take the opportunity to spread this war into Iran, Syria, and further into Lebanon using the very same tactics that will assure conflict in the Middle East for many years to come.

It is incumbent on peace activists in Minnesota to bring forward the McGovern “Blueprint.” To date… the Minnesota DFL, its leadership, its state Central Committee, and elected officials have refused to discuss the McGovern “Blueprint” for ending the war in Iraq while ending the ethnic, national, and religious tensions and animosities intentionally set in motion as part of the strategy used by U.S. imperialism in its drive to not only conquer the oil fields, but to attain political domination of the region.

The same right-wing, pro-war Israeli lobby that has tried to marginalize Jimmy Carter on the Israeli/Palestinian question has worked over-time to silence George McGovern… and they began working against him from the day he was elected to the United States Senate and during his campaign for the presidency… it is this very same lobby that refused to tolerate my voice for peace as an elected member of the DFL State Central Committee and has refused to inform me of meetings and has removed me from participation in the DFL state central committee list serve when I spoke out vigorously against the Israeli carnage in Lebanon… not one other member of the DFL State Central Committee raised their voice in protest… and some members of the “peace community” on this same central committee have sat in silence as these McCarthyite tactics of red-baiting have been employed against me. In fact, it was members of the DFL Progressive Caucus, members of the “peace community” who were used to incite this red-baiting campaign against me.

I would note, that the peace community did not respond to the calls from Walter Mondale for a pre-emptive strike against North Korea--- there was almost universal silence… it has been this Humphrey/Mondale/Klobuchar grouping that has slavishly served the interests of U.S. imperialism and has received the financial backing of the very right-wing, very pro-war, Israeli lobby of the military-financial-industrial complex--- the war machine… it is this lobby that has been detrimental and created disunity in the ranks of peace activists in Minnesota… now with your meetings you have the opportunity to put forward a real alternative to the war in Iraq and distance the peace movement from the aims of U.S. imperialism; and distance the peace movement from this pro-war lobby that has tried to pawn itself off on Minnesotans as being “liberal” and even as “progressive.”

I hope you will take the McGovern “Blueprint” into these meetings with elected officials as representatives of the peace movement in Minnesota; this will help build the peace movement in Minnesota and give the McGovern “Blueprint” the higher profile it deserves.

I hope you will make it clear that the peace community supports using the funds now being squandered in this senseless, criminal, imperialist war for oil and regional domination to create a world-class, single-payer, universal health care system here in the United States… I assume that you could include this as a fifth demand on your list as demonstrating the need to spend on social programs is a very important alternative that needs to be put forward in order to bring the majority of the American people and Minnesotans who voted for an end to this dirty war into the active “peace community.”

I will be posting this e-mail on my daily blog today:


Alan L. Maki

A founding member; Minnesotans for Peace and Social Justice

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541

E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

Bcc: All Board members, Minnesotans for Peace and Social Justice

Bcc: various political leaders, elected officials and their staff members, peace activists

This was e-mailed to the following:

CharleyUnderwood; member of DFL State Central Committee

United States Congressman Keith Ellison, 5th Congressional District

State Representative Bill Hilty

Peter Makowski, Staff Representative U.S. Congressman James Oberstar peter.makowski@mail.house.gov';

David Kaplan fund raiser

David Shove, originator of "Progressive Calendar '

State Representative David Olin, District 1 A

The Way Out of War

A blueprint for leaving Iraq now

Posted on Wednesday, November 8, 2006.

Originally from October 2006.

By George S. McGovern and William R. Polk.

Staying in Iraq is not an option. Many Americans who were among the most eager to invade Iraq now urge that we find a way out. These Americans include not only civilian “strategists” and other “hawks” but also senior military commanders and, perhaps most fervently, combat soldiers. Even some of those Iraqis regarded by our senior officials as the most pro-American are determined now to see American military personnel leave their country. Polls show that as few as 2 percent of Iraqis consider Americans to be liberators. This is the reality of the situation in Iraq. We must acknowledge the Iraqis’ right to ask us to leave, and we should set a firm date by which to do so.

We suggest that phased withdrawal should begin on or before December 31, 2006, with the promise to make every effort to complete it by June 30, 2007.

Withdrawal is not only a political imperative but a strategic requirement. As many retired American military officers now admit, Iraq has become, since the invasion, the primary recruiting and training ground for terrorists. The longer American troops remain in Iraq, the more recruits will flood the ranks of those who oppose America not only in Iraq but elsewhere.

Withdrawal will not be without financial costs, which are unavoidable and will have to be paid sooner or later. But the decision to withdraw at least does not call for additional expenditures. On the contrary, it will effect massive savings. Current U.S. expenditures run at approximately $246 million each day, or more than $10 million an hour, with costs rising steadily each year. Although its figures do not include all expenditures, the Congressional Research Service listed direct costs at $77.3 billion in 2004, $87.3 billion in 2005, and $100.4 billion in fiscal year 2006. Even if troop withdrawals begin this year, total costs (including those in Afghanistan) are thought likely to rise by $371 billion during the withdrawal period. Economist Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, a former assistant secretary of commerce, have estimated that staying in Iraq another four years will cost us at least $1 trillion.

Let us be clear: there will be some damage. This is inevitable no matter what we do. At the end of every insurgency we have studied, there was a certain amount of chaos as the participants sought to establish a new civic order. This predictable turmoil has given rise to the argument, still being put forward by die-hard hawks, that Americans must, in President Bush’s phrase, “stay the course.” The argument is false. When a driver is on the wrong road and headed for an abyss, it is a bad idea to “stay the course.” A nation afflicted with a failing and costly policy is not well served by those calling for more of the same, and it is a poor idea to think that we can accomplish in the future what we are failing to accomplish in the present. We are as powerless to prevent the turmoil that will ensue when we withdraw as we have been to stop the insurgency. But we will have removed a major cause of the insurgency once we have withdrawn. Moreover, there are ways in which we can be helpful to the Iraqis—and protect our own interests—by ameliorating the underlying conditions and smoothing the edges of conflict.The first of these would be a “bridging” effort between the occupation and complete independence.

* * *

To this end, we think that the Iraqi government would be wise to request the temporary services of an international stabilization force to police the country during and immediately after the period of American withdrawal. Such a force should itself have a firm date fixed for its removal. Our estimate is that Iraq would need this force for no more than two years after the American withdrawal is complete. During this period, the force could be slowly but steadily cut back in both personnel and deployment. Its purpose would be limited to activities aimed at enhancing public security. Consequently, the armament of this police force should be restricted. It would have no need for tanks or artillery or offensive aircraft but only light equipment. It would not attempt, as have American troops, to battle the insurgents. Indeed, after the withdrawal of American troops, as well as British regular troops and mercenary forces, the insurgency, which was aimed at achieving that objective, would almost immediately begin to lose public support. Insurgent gunmen would either put down their weapons or become publicly identified as outlaws.

We imagine that the Iraqi government, and the Iraqi people, would find the composition of such a force most acceptable if it were drawn from Arab or Muslim countries. Specifically, it should be possible under the aegis of the United Nations to obtain, say, five contingents of 3,000 men each from Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt. Jordan and Syria might also be asked to contribute personnel. If additional troops were required, or if any of these governments were deemed unacceptable to Iraq or unwilling to serve, application could be made to such Muslim countries as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. Other countries might be included if the Iraqi government so wished.

It would benefit both Iraq and the United States if we were to pay for this force. Assuming that a ballpark figure would be $500 per man per day, and that 15,000 men would be required for two years, the overall cost would be $5.5 billion. That is approximately 3 percent of what it would cost to continue the war, with American troops, for the next two years. Not only would this represent a great monetary saving to us but it would spare countless American lives and would give Iraq the breathing space it needs to recover from the trauma of the occupation in a way that does not violate national and religious sensibilities.

The American subvention should be paid directly to the Iraqi government, which would then “hire” the police services it requires from other governments. The vast amount of equipment that the American military now has in Iraq, particularly transport and communications and light arms, should be turned over to this new multinational force rather than shipped home or destroyed.

* * *

As the insurgency loses its national justification, other dangers will confront Iraq. One of these is “warlordism,” as we have seen in Afghanistan, and other forms of large-scale crime. Some of this will almost certainly continue. But the breakdown of public order will never be remedied by American forces; it can only be addressed by a national police force willing to work with neighborhood, village, and tribal home guards. Ethnic and regional political divisions in Iraq have been exacerbated by the occupation, and they are unlikely to disappear once the occupation is over. They are now so bitter as to preclude a unified organization, at least for the time being. It is therefore paramount that the national police force involve local leaders, so as to ensure that the home guards operate only within their own territory and with appropriate action. In part, this is why Iraq needs a “cooling off” period, with multinational security assistance, after the American withdrawal.

While the temporary international police force completes its work, the creation of a permanent national police force is, and must be, an Iraqi task. American interference would be, and has been, counterproductive. And it will take time. The creation and solidification of an Iraqi national police force will probably require, at a rough estimate, four to five years to become fully effective. We suggest that the American withdrawal package should include provision of $1 billion to help the Iraqi government create, train, and equip such a force, which is roughly the cost of four days of the present American occupation.

Neighborhood, village, and tribal home guards, which are found throughout Iraq, of course constitute a double-edged sword. Inevitably, they mirror the ethnic, religious, and political communities from which they are drawn. Insofar as they are restricted each to its own community, and are carefully monitored by a relatively open and benign government, they will enhance security; allowed to move outside their home areas, they will menace public order. Only a central government police and respected community leaders can possibly hope to control these militias. America has no useful role to play in these affairs, as experience has made perfectly clear.

* * *

It is not in the interests of Iraq to encourage the growth and heavy armament of a reconstituted Iraqi army. The civilian government of Iraq should be, and hopefully is, aware that previous Iraqi armies have frequently acted against Iraqi civic institutions. That is, Iraqi armies have not been a source of defense but of disruption. We cannot prevent the reconstitution of an Iraqi army, but we should not, as we are currently doing, actually encourage this at a cost of billions to the American taxpayer. If at all possible, we should encourage Iraq to transfer what soldiers it has already recruited for its army into a national reconstruction corps modeled on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The United States could assist in the creation and training of just such a reconstruction corps, which would undertake the rebuilding of infrastructure damaged by the war, with an allocation of, say, $500 million, or roughly the cost of two days of the current occupation.

Withdrawal of American forces must include immediate cessation of work on U.S. military bases. Nearly half of the more than 100 bases have already been closed down and turned over, at least formally, to the Iraqi government, but as many as fourteen “enduring” bases for American troops in Iraq are under construction. The largest five are already massive, amounting to virtual cities. The Balad Air Base, forty miles north of Baghdad, has a miniature golf course, 2 PXs, a Pizza Hut, a Burger King, and a jail. Another, under construction at al-Asad, covers more than thirteen square miles. Although Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated on December 23, 2005, that “at the moment there are no plans for permanent bases. . . . It is a subject that has not even been discussed with the Iraqi government,” his remarks are belied by action on the ground, where bases are growing in size and being given aspects of permanency. The most critical of these are remote military bases. They should be stood down rapidly. Closing these bases is doubly important: for America, they are expensive and already redundant; for Iraqis, they both symbolize and personify a hated occupation. With them in place, no Iraqi government will ever feel truly independent. It is virtually certain that absent a deactivation of U.S. military bases, the insurgency will continue. The enormous American base at Baghdad International Airport, ironically named “Camp Victory,” should be the last of the military bases to be closed, as it will be useful in the process of disengagement.

We should of course withdraw from the Green Zone, our vast, sprawling complex in the center of Baghdad. The United States has already spent or is currently spending $1.8 billion on its headquarters there, which contains, or will contain, some 600 housing units, a Marine barracks, and more than a dozen other buildings, as well as its own electrical, water, and sewage systems. The Green Zone should be turned over to the Iraqi government no later than December 31, 2007. By this time, the U.S. should have bought, or rented, or built a “normal” embassy for a considerably reduced complement of personnel. Symbolically, it would be beneficial for the new building not to be in the Green Zone. Assuming that a reasonable part of the Green Zone’s cost can be saved, there should be no additional cost to create a new American embassy for an appropriate number of not more than 500 American officials, as opposed to the 1,000 or so Americans who today staff the Green Zone. Insofar as is practical, the new building should not be designed as though it were a beleaguered fortress in enemy territory.

Withdrawal from these bases, and an end to further construction, should save American taxpayers billions of dollars over the coming two years. This is quite apart from the cost of the troops they would house. America should immediately release all prisoners of war and close its detention centers.

* * *

Mercenaries, euphemistically known as “Personal Security Detail,” are now provided by an industry of more than thirty “security” firms, comprising at least 25,000 armed men. These constitute a force larger than the British troop contingent in the “Coalition of the Willing” and operate outside the direct control—and with little interference from the military justice systems—of the British and American armies. They are, literally, the “loose cannons” of the Iraq war. They should be withdrawn rapidly and completely, as the Iraqis regard them as the very symbol of the occupation. Since the U.S. pays for them either directly or indirectly, all we need to do is stop payment.

Much work will be necessary to dig up and destroy land mines and other unexploded ordinance and, where possible, to clean up the depleted uranium used in artillery shells. These are dangerous tasks that require professional training, but they should be turned over wherever possible to Iraqi contractors. These contractors would employ Iraqi labor, which would help jump-start a troubled economy and be of immediate benefit to the millions of Iraqis who are now out of work. The United Nations has gained considerable knowledge about de-mining—from the Balkans, Afghanistan, and elsewhere—that might be shared with the Iraqis. Although cleanup will be costly, we cannot afford to leave this dangerous waste behind. One day’s wartime expenditure, roughly $250 million, would pay for surveys of the damage and the development of a plan to deal with it. Once the extent of the problem is determined, a fund should be established to eradicate the danger completely.

These elements of the “withdrawal package” may be regarded as basic. Without them, Iraqi society will have little chance of recovering economically or governing itself with any effectiveness. Without them, American interests in the Middle East, and indeed throughout the world, will be severely jeopardized. These measures are, we repeat, inexpensive and represent an enormous savings over the cost of the current war effort. Building on them are further actions that would also help Iraq become a safe and habitable environment. To these “second tier” policies we now turn.

* * *

Property damage incurred during the invasion and occupation has been extreme. The World Bank has estimated that at least $25 billion will be required to repair the Iraqi infrastructure alone—this is quite apart from the damage done to private property. The reconstruction can be, and should be, done by Iraqis, as this would greatly benefit the Iraqi economy, but the United States will need to make a generous contribution to the effort if it is to be a success. Some of this aid should be in the form of grants; the remainder can be in the form of loans. Funds should be paid directly to the Iraqi government, as it would be sound policy to increase the power and public acceptance of that government once American troops withdraw. The Iraqis will probably regard such grants or loans as reparations; some of the money will probably be misspent or siphoned off by cliques within the government. It would therefore benefit the Iraqi people if some form of oversight could be exercised over the funds, but this would tend to undercut the legitimacy and authority of their government, which itself will probably be reconstituted during or shortly after the American occupation ends. Proper use of aid funds has been a problem everywhere: America’s own record during the occupation has been reprehensible, with massive waste, incompetence, and outright dishonesty now being investigated for criminal prosecution. No fledgling Iraqi government is likely to do better, but if reconstruction funds are portioned out to village, town, and city councils, the enhancement of such groups will go far toward the avowed American aim of strengthening democracy, given that Iraqis at the “grass roots” level would be taking charge of their own affairs.

We suggest that the United States allocate for the planning and organization of the reconstruction the sum of $1 billion, or roughly four days of current wartime expenditure. After a planning survey is completed, the American government will need to determine, in consultation with the Iraqi government (and presumably with the British government, our only true “partner” in the occupation), what it is willing to pay for reconstruction. We urge that the compensation be generous, as generosity will go a long way toward repairing the damage to the American reputation caused by this war.

Nearly as important as the rebuilding of damaged buildings and other infrastructure is the demolition of the ugly monuments of warfare. Work should be undertaken as soon as is feasible to dismantle and dispose of the miles of concrete blast walls and wire barriers erected around present American installations. Although the Iraqi people can probably be counted on to raze certain relics of the occupation on their own, we should nonetheless, in good faith, assist in this process. A mere two days’ worth of the current war effort, $500 million, would employ a good many Iraqi demolition workers.

Another residue of war and occupation has been the intrusion of military facilities on Iraqi cultural sites. Some American facilities have done enormous and irreparable damage. Astonishingly, one American camp was built on top of the Babylon archaeological site, where American troops flattened and compressed ancient ruins in order to create a helicopter pad and fueling stations. Soldiers filled sandbags with archaeological fragments and dug trenches through unexcavated areas while tanks crushed 2,600-year-old pavements. Babylon was not the only casualty. The 5,000-year-old site at Kish was also horribly damaged. We need to understand that Iraq, being a seedbed of Western civilization, is a virtual museum. It is hard to put a spade into the earth there without disturbing a part of our shared cultural heritage. We suggest that America set up a fund of, say, $750 million, or three days’ cost of the war, to be administered by an ad-hoc committee drawn from the Iraqi National Museum of Antiquities or the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, the British Museum, the World Monuments Fund, the Smithsonian Institution, and what is perhaps America’s most prestigious archaeological organization, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, to assist in the restoration of sites American troops have damaged. We should not wish to go down in history as yet another barbarian invader of the land long referred to as the cradle of civilization.

* * *

Independent accounting of Iraqi funds is urgently required. The United Nations handed over to the American-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) billions of dollars generated by the sale of Iraq petroleum with the understanding that these monies would be used to the benefit of the Iraqi people and would be accounted for by an independent auditor. The CPA delayed this audit month after month, and it was still not completed by the time the CPA ceased to exist. Any funds misused or misappropriated by U.S. officials should be repaid to the proper Iraqi authority. What that amount is we cannot predict at this time.

Although the funds turned over to the CPA by the U.N. constitute the largest amount in dispute, that is by no means the only case of possible misappropriation. Among several others reported, perhaps the most damaging to Iraq has been a project allocated to Halliburton’s subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root as part of a $2.4 billion no-bid contract awarded in 2003. The $75.7 million project was meant to repair the junction of some fifteen pipelines linking the oil fields with terminals. Engineering studies indicated that as conceived the project was likely to fail, but KBR forged ahead and, allegedly, withheld news of the failure from the Iraqi Ministry of Petroleum until it had either spent or received all the money. Despite this, KBR was actually awarded a bonus by the Army Corps of Engineers, even though Defense Department auditors had found more than $200 million of KBR’s charges to be questionable. There would seem to be more greed than prudence in the repeated awards to Halliburton in the run-up to the war, during the war itself, and in contracts to repair the war damages. Especially given that Vice President Dick Cheney was formerly CEO of Halliburton, the U.S. should make every effort to investigate this wrongdoing, prosecute and correct it, and depart from Iraq with clean hands.

* * *

The United States should not object to the Iraqi government voiding all contracts entered into for the exploration, development, and marketing of oil during the American occupation. These contracts clearly should be renegotiated or thrown open to competitive international bids. The Iraqi government and public believe that because Iraqi oil has been sold at a discount to American companies, and because long-term

“production-sharing agreements” are highly favorable to the concessionaires, an unfair advantage has been taken. Indeed, the form of concession set up at the urging of the CPA’s consultants has been estimated to deprive Iraq of as much as $194 billion in revenues. To most Iraqis, and indeed to many foreigners, the move to turn over Iraq’s oil reserves to American and British companies surely confirms that the real purpose of the invasion was to secure, for American use and profit, Iraq’s lightweight and inexpensively produced oil.

It is to the long-term advantage of both Iraq and the United States, therefore, that all future dealings in oil, which, after all, is the single most important Iraqi national asset, be transparent and fair. Only then can the industry be reconstituted and allowed to run smoothly; only then will Iraq be able to contribute to its own well-being and to the world’s energy needs. Once the attempt to create American-controlled monopolies is abandoned, we believe it should be possible for investment, even American investment, to take place in a rapid and orderly manner. We do not, then, anticipate a net cost connected with this reform.

* * *

Providing reparations to Iraqi civilians for lives and property lost is a necessity. The British have already begun to do so in the zone they occupy. According to Martin Hemming of the Ministry of Defence, British policy “has, from the outset of operations in Iraq, been to recognize the duty to provide compensation to Iraqis where this is required by the law. . . . [B]etween 1 June 2003 and 31 July 2006, 2,327 claims have been registered . . .” Although there is no precise legal precedent from past wars that would require America to act accordingly, American forces in Iraq have now provided one: individual military units are authorized to make “condolence payments” of up to $2,500. The United States could, and should, do even more to compensate Iraqi victims or their heirs. Such an action might be compared to the Marshall Plan, which so powerfully redounded to America’s benefit throughout the world after the end of the Second World War. As we go forward, the following points should be considered.

The number of civilians killed or wounded during the invasion and occupation, particularly in the sieges of Fallujah, Tal Afar, and Najaf, is unknown. Estimates run from 30,000 to well over 100,000 killed, with many more wounded or incapacitated. Assuming the number of unjustified deaths to be 50,000, and the compensation per person to be $10,000, our outlay would run to only $500 million, or two days’ cost of the war. The number seriously wounded or incapacitated might easily be 100,000. Taking the same figure as for death benefits, the total cost would be $1 billion, or four days’ cost of the war. The dominant voice in this process should be that of Iraq itself, but in supplying the funds the United States could reasonably insist on the creation of a quasi-independent body, composed of both Iraqis and respected foreigners, perhaps operating under the umbrella of an internationally recognized organization such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies or the World Health Organization, to assess and distribute compensation.

In the meantime, a respected international body should be appointed to process the claims of, and pay compensation to, those Iraqis who have been tortured (as defined by the Geneva Conventions) or who have suffered long-term imprisonment. The Department of Defense admits that approximately 3,200 people have been held for longer than a year, and more than 700 for longer than two years, most of them without charge, a clear violation of the treasured American right of habeas corpus. The number actually subjected to torture remains unknown, but it is presumed to include a significant portion of those incarcerated. Unfortunately, there exists no consensus, legal or otherwise, on how victims of state-sponsored torture should be compensated, and so it is not currently possible to estimate the cost of such a program. Given that this is uncharted legal territory, we should probably explore it morally and politically to find a measure of justifiable compensation. The very act of assessing damages—perhaps somewhat along the lines of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission— would, in and of itself, be a part of the healing process.

* * *

America should also offer—not directly but through suitable international or nongovernmental organizations—a number of further financial inducements to Iraq’s recovery. These might include fellowships for the training of lawyers, judges, journalists, social workers, and other civil-affairs workers. Two days’ cost of the current war, or $500 million, would ably fund such an effort.

In addition, assistance to “grass roots” organizations and professional societies could help encourage the return to Iraq of the thousands of skilled men and women who left in the years following the first Gulf war. Relocation allowance and supplementary pay might be administered by the Iraqi engineers’ union. Medical practitioners might receive grants through the medical association. Teachers might be courted by the teachers’ union or the Ministry of Education. Assuming that some 10,000 skilled workers could be enticed to return for, say, an average of $50,000, this would represent a cost to the American taxpayer of $500 million. Roughly two days’ cost of the war would be a very small price to pay to restore the health and vigor of Iraqi society and to improve America’s reputation throughout the world.

We should also encourage the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and similarly established and proven nongovernmental organizations to help with the rebirth of an Iraqi public-health system by rebuilding hospitals and clinics. One reason for turning to respected international organizations to supervise this program is that when the CPA undertook the task, funds were squandered.

At last count, some seventeen years ago Iraq possessed an impressive health-care infrastructure: 1,055 health centers, 58 health centers with beds, 135 general hospitals, and 52 specialized hospitals. Many of these facilities were badly damaged by a decade of sanctions and by the recent warfare and looting. If we assume that fully half of Iraq’s hospitals and health centers need to be rebuilt, the overall outlay can be estimated at $250 million, one day’s cost of the current war. Equipment might cost a further $170 million. These figures, based on a study prepared for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals project, throw into sharp relief the disappointing results of the American “effort”: one American firm, Parsons Corporation, has been investigated for having taken a generous “cost plus” contract to rebuild 142 clinics at a cost of $200 million; although the company put in for and collected all the money, only twenty clinics were built.

Estimating the cost of staffing these facilities is more complicated. Theoretically, Iraq has a highly professional, well-trained, reasonably large corps of health workers at all levels. Yet many of these people left the country in the years following the 1991 war. The Iraqi Health Ministry has estimated that about 3,000 registered doctors left Iraq during the first two years of the American occupation. Hopefully these workers will return to Iraq once the occupation and the insurgency have ended, but even if they do so, younger replacements for them need to be trained. The UNMDG study suggests that the training period for specialists is about eight years; for general practitioners, five years; and for various technicians and support personnel, three years. We suggest that a training program for a select number, say 200 general practitioners and 100 advanced specialists, be carried out under the auspices of the World Health Organization or Médecins Sans Frontières, especially given that some of this training will have to be done in Europe or America. Even if the estimated cost of building and equipping hospitals turned out to be five times too low, even if the American government had to cover the bulk of salaries and operating costs for the next four years, and even if additional hospitals had to be built to care for Iraqis wounded or made ill by the invasion and occupation, the total cost would still be under $5 billion. It is sobering to think that the maximum cost of rebuilding Iraq’s public-health system would amount to less than what we spend on the occupation every twenty days.

* * *

The monetary cost of the basic set of programs outlined here is roughly $7.25 billion. The cost of the “second tier” programs cannot be as accurately forecast, but the planning and implementation of these is likely to cost somewhere in the vicinity of $10 billion. Seventeen and a quarter billion dollars is a lot of money, but assuming that these programs cut short the American occupation by only two years, they would save us at least $200 billion. Much more valuable, though, are the savings to be measured in what otherwise are likely to be large numbers of shattered bodies and lost lives. Even if our estimates are unduly optimistic, and the actual costs turn out to be far higher, the course of action we recommend would be perhaps the best investment ever made by our country.

Finally, we as a nation should not forget the young Americans who fought this war, often for meager pay and with inadequate equipment. As of this writing, more than 2,600 of our soldiers have been killed, and a far greater number wounded or crippled. It is only proper that we be generous to those who return, and to the families of those who will not.

That said, we should find a way to express our condolences for the large number of Iraqis incarcerated, tortured, incapacitated, or killed in recent years. This may seem a difficult gesture to many Americans. It may strike them as weak, or as a slur on our patriotism. Americans do not like to admit that they have done wrong. We take comfort in the notion that whatever the mistakes of the war and occupation, we have done Iraq a great service by ridding it of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. Perhaps we have, but in the process many people’s lives have been disrupted, damaged, or senselessly ended. A simple gesture of conciliation would go a long way toward shifting our relationship with Iraq from one of occupation to one of friendship. It would be a gesture without cost but of immense and everlasting value—and would do more to assuage the sense of hurt in the world than all of the actions above.

About the Author
George S. McGovern, the United Nations Global Ambassador on Hunger, was the Democratic candidate for president in 1972. He is the author of numerous books, including The Third Freedom: Ending Hunger in Our Time. William R. Polk was a member of the Policy Planning Council responsible for the Middle East and, later, professor of history and founder-director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago. His latest book on the Middle East is Understanding Iraq. This essay was adapted from the book Out of Iraq, which is being published this month by Simon & Schuster.

This is The Way Out of War, a feature, originally from October 2006, published Wednesday, November 8, 2006. It is part of Features, which is part of Harpers.org.


Commentary on the McGovern "Blueprint"


Original Content at http://www.opednews.com/articles/genera_sherwood_060927_blueprint_for_iraq_w.htm

September 27, 2006

Blueprint For Iraq Withdrawal From George McGovern and William Polk

By Sherwood Ross


By Sherwood Ross

American and British troops in Iraq could be replaced over a phased, six-month period starting next January by a force of 15,000 men drawn from Arab or Muslim countries and paid for by the United States, former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern proposes.

In a wide-ranging article appearing in the October issue of "Harper's" magazine, McGovern spelled out a comprehensive "blueprint" for the withdrawal of Coalition troops.

"Withdrawal will not be without financial costs, which are unavoidable and will have to be paid sooner or later," McGovern wrote, in an article co-authored with William Polk, founder-director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago. "But the decision to withdraw at least does not call for additional expenditures. On the contrary, it will effect massive savings."

Current U.S. expenditures in Iraq cost about $246-million per day, a rate that continues to climb, and will come to about $100.4-billion in fiscal 2006, the authors write, adding one estimate puts the cost of remaining in Iraq another four years at $1-trillion.

McGovern and Polk urged the creation of a "stabilization force" from Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia, to be selected at the determination of the Iraqi government. The authors estimate that a force of just 3,000 troops from five countries would be sufficient to keep the peace.
At a cost of $500 for maintaining one man per day, the overall cost to support a 15,000-man army would be $5.5-billion, "approximately three percent of what it would cost to continue the war, with American troops, for the next two years," the authors pointed out.

McGovern and Polk called for the "rapid withdrawal" of 25,000 armed "security" firm personnel and the phased withdrawal of the U.S. and British forces, said to number 120,000 and about 10,000 respectively.

They also called for putting a halt to work on U.S. military bases, the immediate release of all prisoners of war and closing of detention centers, payment of at least $25-billion to rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure, voiding of all oil contracts entered into during the U.S. occupation, and reparations to Iraqi civilians for lives and property. They also asked for creation of an international body to be named to arrange compensation for Iraqis tortured by Anglo-American troops.

The Harper's article urged, again at U.S. expense, the rebuilding of damaged and destroyed hospitals and clinics and training their medical personnel, training a national police force, clearing the country of depleted uranium and land mines, and the rehabilitation of damaged historical sites. Personnel to clean up the ordnance could be recruited from among the "millions" of unemployed Iraqis, the authors said.

"We cannot prevent the reconstruction of an Iraqi army, but we should not, as we are currently doing, actually encourage this at a cost of billions to the American taxpayer," the authors write. "If at all possible, we should encourage Iraq to transfer what soldiers it has already recruited for its army into a national reconstruction corps modeled on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."

McGovern and Polk go on to say that nearly half of more than 100 U.S. military bases in Iraq have already been turned over to the Government but as many as 14 "enduring" bases are being built "and should be stood down rapidly" due to their expense and also as they "symbolize and personify a hated occupation" to a population only two percent of whom consider the Americans as "liberators." What's more, the Green Zone in Baghdad should be turned over to the Iraqi Government no later than the end of 2007.

The authors also call upon the U.S. "to dismantle and dispose of the miles of concrete blast walls and wire barriers erected around American installations." This could be accomplished for about $500-million and could employ many Iraqi workers.

Scrap Oil Contracts

The U.S. "should not object to the Iraqi government voiding all contracts entered into for the exploration, development, and marketing of oil during the American occupation," McGovern and Polk wrote.

"These contracts clearly should be renegotiated or thrown open to competitive international bids" as the Iraqis believe their oil has been sold at a discount to U.S. oil companies and that long-term "production-sharing agreements" have been highly favorable to the Americans and could cost Iraq as much as $194-billion in lost revenues.

"To most Iraqis, and indeed to many foreigners, the move to turn over Iraq's oil reserves to American and British companies surely confirms that the real purpose of the invasion was to secure, for American use and profit, Iraq's lightweight and inexpensively produced oil," McGovern and Polk asserted.

They said, "any funds misused or misappropriated" by U.S. officials from the sale of Iraqi petroleum "should be repaid" to the proper Iraqi authorities.

The authors compared their call to indemnify Iraqi war victims to the U.S. post-World War II "Marshall Plan," which redounded to America's benefit by energizing the European economy. They note the number of Iraqi dead have been put at between 30,000 and 100,000 killed "with many more wounded or incapacitated."

"Assuming the number of unjustified deaths to be 50,000, and the compensation per person to be $10,000, our outlay would run to only $500-million, or two days' cost of the war," the authors said. And estimating the number seriously wounded and incapacitated at 100,000, the total cost for their compensation would be $1-billion.
McGovern and Polk called for creation of a "respected international body" to process the claims of, and pay compensation to, Iraqis who have been tortured or suffered long-term imprisonment. More than 3,200 prisoners have been held for longer than a year and more than 700 for longer than two years, they note, "most of them without charge, a clear violation of the treasured American right of habeas corpus."

Finally, the authors urged the U.S. to find a way "to express our condolences for the large number of Iraqis incarcerated, tortured, incapacitated, or killed in recent years. ...A simple gesture of conciliation would go a long way toward shifting our relationship with Iraq from one of occupation to one of friendship."

The Harper's article, "The Way Out of War," is excerpted from the book "Out of Iraq", to be published next month by Simon & Schuster. Co-author McGovern, the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in 1972, was defeated by President Richard Nixon.
(Sherwood Ross is an American reporter and columnist. Reach him at sherwoodr1@yahoo.com)

Authors Bio: Sherwood Ross has worked in the civil rights movement and as a reporter for major dailies and wire services.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Get Involved: Health Care Demonstration; Health Care Forum

Get Involved: Health Care Demonstration; Health Care Forum

See pictures at bottom right of article.
This is an e-mail I distributed widely, please feel free to copy and paste any or all of this into an e-mail to distribute---

This is the kind of story on single-payer, universal health care that should be distributed widely, and reprinted often and everywhere…

This is an excellent article to post to websites, blogs, do newspaper articles from, to reprint for inclusion in newsletters… it would make a good leaflet; print and post on refrigerators; bulletin boards at work, school, churches, community centers, senior centers, union halls… anyone working in the health care field should distribute this widely… please click forward and pass this e-mail on to family and friends as well as your state and federal legislators.

Someone might want to pass this article on to Congressman John Conyers the proponent of H.R. 676 in Congress; we don’t want single-payer, universal health care derailed like what has happened with impeachment proceedings.

The Roseau County DFL Convention passed a resolution calling for, “comprehensive, all-inclusive, no-fee, single-payer, universal health care that is publicly funded and publicly administered.” The delegates to the State Convention of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party overwhelmingly passed a resolution in support of single-payer, universal health care. The Minnesota AFL-CIO also supports single-payer, universal health care as does Minnesotans for Peace and Social Justice and the Red Lake Casino, Hotel, and Restaurant Employees’ Union Organizing Committee…

All of which begs the questions:

Why are Minnesota DFL legislators dragging their feet on getting single-payer, universal health care legislation passed?

Why are some DFL legislators like Senator Linda Berglin and Rep. Bernie Lieder and Tom Huntley trying to undermine our efforts for single-payer, universal health care by putting forward all kinds of legislative schemes and scams aimed at insuring the profitability of the insurance companies and HMOs rather than putting the health care needs of Minnesotans first?

Minnesotans are fed up with seeing their hard earned tax-dollars wasted on death and destruction in Iraq when those funds should be used here in Minnesota to finance single-payer, universal health care.

Hopefully the Minnesota DFL State Central Committee will put ending this war in Iraq and getting legislation for single-payer, universal health care as their two top priorities and send a strong message to all DFL elected officials; they have a mandate from Minnesotans and their own convention to prioritize these two issues.

Following this news article is a notice of a public forum on “Health Care” in Stillwater, Minnesota that is free and open to the public.

What you can do:

> Organize demonstrations and vigils like the one below
> Write letters to the editor
> Write letters to state and federal legislators
> Meet with public officials
> Initiate petition campaigns

For more information, contact:

All Unions Committee for Single Payer Healthcare--HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization
1169 Eastern Parkway, suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636-1551
email: Nursenpo@aol.com


Marchers rally for single-payer health care

by Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio
January 15, 2007

Single-payer health insurance advocates recalled the words of Dr. Martin Luther King on Monday as they made their case for health care reform during an annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day march in St. Paul. They also called on state lawmakers to take a bolder approach to fixing Minnesota's health care system.

St. Paul, Minn. — Single-payer supporters say this is the first time they've paired their cause with St. Paul's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day march from Central High School to Concordia University. But the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition says the pairing actually makes perfect sense.

The organization's vice chair, Dr. Jim Hart, says King was deeply troubled by health care inequality. To prove that point, single-payer marchers carried banners quoting King that said, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

Hart says, like King, single-payer advocates believe that all Americans could and should have health care. But he says the U.S. will never achieve that goal with its current market-oriented system.

"We spend about 20-percent of our health care dollar on insurance functions, both at the insurance companies and at the clinics and hospitals that have to deal with this complicated system. So there would be ways to save but it would take a bolder approach than what we're seeing so far," he said.
Hart says single payer is that bolder approach. Often the mere mention of that model elicits groans from people who see it as leading to the rationing of health care. But fellow marcher Dr. Chris Reif says the definition of single payer is not necessarily what people assume.

"Single payer doesn't mean it always happens the same way," Reif said. "It just means that you try to get the economies of scale and try to get better care. Right now there's a move, like in Utah, to have single application forms for insurance. That's one step toward single payer. There's also a move to have our electronic medical records be the same or talk to each other. That's a move toward single payer."

If those arguments don't win over skeptics, single-payer advocates believe the eroding health insurance market will.

Eric Angell is with the Universal Health Care Action Network, another single payer organization that also marched at the King Day rally. Angel points to a recent vote by thousands of Twin Cities janitors who agreed to walk off the job if they don't get a more affordable health-care package.

"This is not an anomaly," according to Angell. "A lot of other unions have decided to go on strike for the exact same reason: the rising health care costs. Employers are not able to provide health care to their employees the way they once did and the obvious reason is the rising health care costs."

Angell says he's skeptical about lawmakers' willingness to look seriously at a single-payer system. But Dr. Jim Hart says he's impressed by at least one bill at the Capitol this session that would extend health care coverage to all children in Minnesota. Hart says the bill uses a single-payer approach to making health care affordable for kids.

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, who also participated in the march, says if lawmakers passing the "cover all kids" bill, it would be a huge step. But he says he's already detecting some backtracking among people who originally supported the idea.

"It's certainly a tough fight," Marty said. "We're not used to thinking this way. Much of the rest of the world does think that way but in the U.S. the health care industry is set up in a way that doesn't cover people and I think there's been a lack of vision in the political system." Rep. Keith Ellison campaigned on a single-payer system before getting elected to Congress. He says he still believes in the approach and will push the idea in Washington. But he says Minnesota lawmakers need to do their part too.

"Everybody should do what they can do. We're not putting the brakes on any effort," Ellison said. "If we can get a single-payer program in the state of Minnesota, great. If we can do it at the federal level, great. Ultimately it has to be a nationwide thing. But maybe a step toward that goal is a statewide program."

Ultimately single-payer advocates would like to see the state take over the way health care is financed. They admit there are plenty of obstacles to that goal. But they believe Minnesotans are more receptive to the idea now than they've ever been.

• All Things Considered, 01/15/2007, 5:23 p.m.


Obtained From: "Progressive Calendar"
< David Shove [shove001@tc.umn.edu] >

From: Dr. James Hart
From: Lee Salisbury [mailto:leesal@comcast.net]
Subject: Health care forum 1.18 7pm

River Valley Action

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Time: 7-9pm

Trinity Lutheran Church (Garden Room)
115 4th St. N.
Stillwater, MN 55082

Phone: 651-439-7400

Citizens and area legislators are invited to attend this informative health care forum to learn more about our options for future health care coverage across our state and nation.


JIM KOPPEL, from Children's Defense Fund-MN, will discuss solutions for covering all the children in our state.

KIP SULLIVAN, from MN Universal Health Care Coalition, and author of The Health Care Mess: How We Got into It and How We Can Get out of It, will present ways to address the current situation.

GEOFF BARTSCH, from HealthPartners, will look at insurance industry alternatives and perspectives.

Each panelist will have 30 minutes to present their ideas and solutions. The final half hour is reserved for audience participation and questions.

For more information:

contact Karen Fitzpatrick at karenjimfitz@msn.com or 651-426-3530

This event is FREE and OPEN to the public.

Distributed by:

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541
E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

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