Recent Posts

Diaries

Featured Guest Commentary

Senator-John-MartyThe essay by Senator John Marty provided below is from a post first published by Bill Moyers on March 4, 2017, on BillMoyers.com. Re-published here with permission from the author.

 

In a Special Report entitled “Is Health Care Doomed?” journalist Bill Moyers examines the current state of health care reform in the US and profiles various efforts by state legislators to offer alternatives to widespread loss of access to affordable health care under the new Republican plan to demolish the ACA (“Obamacare”). In particular, he spotlights Senator John Marty’s plan to reform health care and notes:

“We are at a stalemate. Opponents of the ACA have no viable replacement and supporters have no power to stave off the Republican bulldozer.

 

Is the situation hopeless? In Washington, probably — at least for now. But there are alternatives. As I noted above, two longtime advocates for universal health care, Drs. Woolhandler and Himmelstein, have renewed their campaign for single-payer reform, which candidate Barack Obama applauded when he was campaigning and then rejected after his election as part of those compromises he made to win support from conservative Democrats and the medical and insurance industries. In their Annals article, the two reformist physicians offer evidence that single-payer reform could provide “comprehensive coverage within the current budgetary envelope” because of huge savings on health care bureaucracy. It’s worth reading.

 

healing-health-care-front-cover

Download the free e-book.

So is a plan put forth by Minnesota State Sen. John Marty. Often described as “the conscience of the Minnesota Senate,” Marty has been an advocate for universal health care since he was elected 30 years ago. He has served as chairman of the Senate Health Committee and now serves as the ranking minority member of the Senate Energy Committee. Often ahead of his times, Marty introduced and eventually secured passage of the country’s first ban on smoking in hospitals and health care facilities. Long before public support had materialized, he worked to ban mercury in consumer products, create a legal structure for public benefit corporations and bring about a “living wage” for workers. In 2008, when he introduced legislation proposing marriage equality for LGBT couples and predicted it could pass in five years, colleagues dismissed him as a Don Quixote. Five years later Minnesota passed marriage equality legislation.

 

So this lifelong progressive has earned the right to chide his fellow progressives for “merely tinkering” with problems. He writes that “If 21st-century progressives had been leading the 19th-century abolition movement, we would still have slavery, but we would have limited slavery to a 40-hour work week, and we would be congratulating each other on the progress we had made.”

 

This timidity, Marty acknowledges, might be partially explained by decades of defeat at the hands of powerful financial interests and politicians beholden to those interests. But as a result, many politicians who espouse progressive change have retreated from a “politics of principle” to a “politics of pragmatism.”

 

Sen. Marty crisscrossed Minnesota to talk directly with citizens about what they need and want in health care. He has now proposed a universal health care system which he calls the Minnesota Health Plan. He’s distilled it into a small paperback book — Healing Health Care: The Case for a Commonsense Universal Health System. I asked him to write an essay for us summing up the plan’s basic principles and the case for it.”  — Bill Moyers

A CALL TO ACTION

By John Marty

 

Our health care system is broken.

 

We have some of the best health care available in the world, but one of the worst systems for accessing that care. We squander outstanding health care resources — providers, clinics and hospitals, medical research and technology — on a broken system that makes it difficult and expensive for many people to get the care they need.

 

Our health outcomes, including life expectancy and infant mortality, are worse than most other industrialized countries.

 

President Obama provided hope during his 2008 campaign, saying health care “should be a right for every American.” Unfortunately, he never proposed universal health care, though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a big step forward. It reduced the number of people without health coverage by almost half. It made a (in some cases, literally) lifesaving difference for millions of Americans.

 

However, even if the ACA were beefed up, it would always leave some people without coverage. In addition, health insurance does not equate to health care — millions of Americans who have insurance still cannot afford the care they need due to exclusions in coverage, copays and deductibles. And because it added even more complexity to our already convoluted insurance system, the ACA is easy to attack.

 

Republican attacks during the 2016 campaign were wrong; the ACA is not the cause of the problems in the system. Nor is it the solution, despite the good it did for many people.

 

Now that President Trump has blurted out that “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” we will watch the ironic efforts of Republicans to replace the Affordable Care Act — an insurance-based plan, largely modeled on former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney’s “Romneycare,” which, in turn, was largely based on ideas from the conservative Heritage Foundation. We have Republicans attacking a Republican concept. It might be bizarre to watch, but lives are at stake.

More Below the Fold

{ 0 comments }

Enbridge pipeline draws protesters

by Dan Burns on March 9, 2017 · 0 comments

oilspillThis was very righteous and needs to be noted.
 

As Native Americans opposed to President Trump’s restarting of oil pipeline projects gather in Washington, D.C., opponents of other pipeline projects found a target in Bemidji. U.S. State Department officials were met by hundreds of protesters at a Tuesday question-and-answer session on the Alberta Clipper oil pipeline.
 
Calgary-based Enbridge Energy hopes to substantially increase the volume of crude oil flowing across the Canadian border in the Alberta Clipper pipeline. Bringing more oil across international borders requires a presidential permit.
(MPR)

A related item.
 

Consumers have seen flat or declining energy costs as renewable energy becomes a greater part of the energy mix of Minnesota and the nation…
 
The national movement toward clean energy continues, she said, and Minnesota’s leadership in that area remains, especially in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
 
The investments in clean energy made by utilities does not seem to have an impact on energy prices, contradicting dire predictions made by some opponents of clean energy policy in the past.
 
“What we can say looking at data is that we’ve been making significant investments nationally, and so has Minnesota, and it has been beneficial to consumers and businesses,” Jacobson said.
(Midwest Energy News)

{ 0 comments }

I’m posting this – with appropriate credit and a hyperlink, as always – and readers can make up their own minds, again as always. I will note that I took the trouble to “unlike” some pages, after reading this.
 

These Facebook pages and their affiliated websites pose as progressive champions, but their content is largely copied, if not plagiarized, from legitimate news and opinion outlets with real reporters and analysts, not rewrite teams. Their goal appears to be making money by attracting millions of readers as unknowing users click on links or share their memes—photos with slogans—because viewer traffic generates advertising revenues via Google ads.
 
Anyone who has a Facebook page and pays attention to politics—and shares with a circle of friends—has seen the vampires’ work. Even professionals in media, information technology and progressive politics often share posts and links to affiliated sites such as Occupy Democrats (5.9 million Facebook likes and 1.1 million monthly U.S. viewers on its website, according to Quantcast), The Other 98% (4.5 million Facebook likes; its related The Other 98 Percent Action Fund has 214,000 monthly U.S. viewers) and USUncut (1.5 million Facebook likes and 2.8 million monthly viewers). Indeed, there are hundreds of other pages and sites like these, such as Addicting Info, with 1.2 million Facebook likes, Liberal America with 754,000 Facebook likes, and a new six-week-old Facebook page, Resistance Report, with 144,000 Facebook likes.
 
Many subscribers and sharers of these Facebook pages don’t know about this content’s oft-pilfered origin nor its parasitic business model. They are unaware that these operations use software like Spike from Newswhip, which is akin to spyware, a big data analyzer that tracks viewership figures of any website to find hot stories. Especially useful is the software’s measure of “velocity,” or how quickly an article is taking off and getting thousands of viewers. Then, within an hour or less, these sites post their version on Facebook — often using the same photo and headline as the original, and linking to their quick rewrite with no credit given to the original article or its author. The rewrites steal the original’s traffic, usurping its popularity and rerouting ad revenue driven from people clicking on the copycats.
(AlterNet)

{ 0 comments }

trump4I guess that a lot of people aren’t really given to thinking things through. Not when it comes to how/whether they vote, anyway.
 

Over in Illinois, the New York Times looks at a different community, one that’s now stupefied after the arrest and detention of an undocumented immigrant who for a decade has been one of the best and most-liked damn people in the town. And now a bunch of not-racists who backed Trump’s notions of rounding up millions of people by an overwhelming margin—because they were going to get the coal mines back in return, so screw all those millions—are all twitchy because they don’t want this “good man” and “role model” included.
(Daily Kos)

{ 0 comments }

Climate Change Challenge

by JeffStrate on March 8, 2017 · 0 comments

 

The March edition of Democratic Visions is concerned with climate change.  Dr. Eric Grimsrud, atmospheric chemist and Montana State University Professor Emeritus, shares his perspectives on the consequences of mankind’s slow response to the challenge of global warming and highlights two tools that might help, if it is not already too late,  1) the divestment of funds from the fossil fuel industry and 2) a carbon tax.   Grimsrud  exhibits the vinegary rake that comes with working at a small town newspaper, in this instance, The Zumbrota News Record.   During his high school years, Grimsrud, an atmospheric scientist to be, set type for his publisher editor Father.

Jon Spayde

Humorist Jon Spayde’s Professor of Negativity character and I spend the last moments of this half hour with our own considerations of global warming.   I am Bob to his Ray.

 

Democratic Visions on cableTV

Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina, Hopkins, Richfield, Comcast Channel 15 —

Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m., Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m.

Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.

Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.  Programs are streamed during airings.

Champlin, Anoka, Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Community Channel 15 Schedule varies consult website – http://qctv.org/program-guide/

 

Democratic Visions is hand made by unpaid volunteers from Edina, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Bloomington. Our program is not financially supported or endorsed by any political party, political action committee or special interest group.

{ 0 comments }

Chain link fence with barbed wire and razor wire.It’s probably inevitable that some in the Minnesota legislature will try to push reopening the Prairie Correctional Facility, every session. As long as there are still right-wingnuts there, anyway, which unfortunately will be for a while yet.
 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled (Feb. 23) his strong support for the federal government’s continued use of private prisons — reversing a late-Obama-era directive to discontinue their use.
 
The news, which inspired a surge in the stocks of major private prison companies, broke about one hour after Minnesota Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, announced plans for a bill that would direct the state to lease or buy Prairie Correctional Facility, a for-profit prison in Appleton, a small community in west-central Minnesota.
 
The timing was a coincidence, but both announcements could be key to the now-uncertain future of Prairie Correctional, Minnesota’s only private prison.
(Star Tribune)

And it so happens that Pr*sident Trump loves for-profit hellholes prisons.
 

But given that America’s detention system for immigrants has been running at full capacity for some time now, where is the president going to put all of these people before deporting them?
 
In new jails, for starters. In the same executive order that called for the construction of a southern border wall, Trump instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to build out its sprawling network of immigration detention centers. Starting “immediately,” his order said, ICE should construct new facilities, lease space for immigrants alongside inmates in existing local jails, and sign new contracts—likely with private prison companies. The scale of that expansion became clearer on February 5, when the Los Angeles Times reported on a memo handed down in late January from White House immigration experts to top Homeland Security officials. The document called for raising the number of immigrants ICE incarcerates daily, nationwide, to 80,000 people.
(Mother Jones)

So, we’ll see what goes down from here. It seems unlikely that Prairie Correctional will just be turned over to the feds, or anything like that, in short order. But certainly Trump, and his followers in Minnesota, want to incarcerate a lot more people – anyone who frightens or upsets them, basically, not just immigrants – and they would have to be put somewhere.
 

{ 0 comments }

How this nightmare came to be, Part 2: voters

by Dan Burns on March 1, 2017 · 1 comment

trump10(In Part 1 I wrote about the Great American Stupid.)
 

This article is the most definitive, yet straightforward, thing I’ve seen so far. It pretty much goes with the “perfect storm” of factors hypothesis which most people who seem to know what they’re talking about, have arrived at. It was a lot of things, not just one like “white working class resentment.”
 

The reasons that happened varied from state to state, Bonier and other analysts note. In Ohio and Wisconsin, for example, turnout fell, belying the image of an army of previously hidden Trump voters storming the polls.
 
In Pennsylvania, by contrast, that image may be more accurate — turnout rose significantly across the state. Similarly, in Florida, Clinton won heavily in nearly all the places that Democrats generally count on, but lost because of a huge election-day upsurge in heavily white, nonurban counties of the central part of the state, according to an analysis by Democratic strategist Steve Schale.
 
One big, consistent piece of the problem was that Clinton performed worse than Obama did in blue-collar, predominantly white communities outside of major cities; such as the counties that include Scranton and Erie, Pa.; Youngstown, Ohio; Green Bay, Wis.; and Daytona Beach in Florida. In many such counties, Clinton’s vote was 15 percentage points or more below what Obama received in his reelection…
 
In contrast to the “where” and “when,” the “who” and “why” of Trump’s success remain more elusive. Analysts know, for example, that some people who voted for Obama four years ago turned around and voted for Trump this year. But they don’t yet have a good picture of how many did so compared with the number of Obama voters who simply stayed home.
 
Some of the answers won’t be known until states release their detailed voter files, showing who actually voted this year. Only a few states have done that so far.
(Los Angeles Times)

This wasn’t a low-turnout election, compared to most recent ones. But we sure didn’t get the high turnout that would have been needed to give Donald Trump – Donald Trump – the sound shellacking that he should have been hit with along with his political party and, most of all, right-wing ideology.
 
I find the thought that a very substantial number of voters switched from Obama to Trump to be of tremendous concern. My feeling is that it will turn out to be a comparatively small number. Hopefully that’s not just wishful thinking.
 
In some ways things don’t really look different than they have in the past. But different enough, for a close election. Way closer than it ever should have been, by any rational standards. Donald f*cking Trump!!!
 
…READ MORE

{ 1 comment }

66758002I got an email from the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund which alerted me to the following.
 

(Wednesday) afternoon, Minnesota House Republicans heard a health care reinsurance bill (HF1128) that relies on junk science and misinformation to reduce access to contraception by miscategorizing IUDs and Emergency Contraception as “abortifacients.” This couldn’t be further from reality.

 
Here’s the online front page for HF1128, which appears to be part of the Minnesota Party of Trump’s effort to “repeal and replace” the ACA/MNsure in the state. The noted language is on the bill text page, lines 8.26-8.31. The email includes this link, debunking the “abortifacients” claim.
 
On the same general topic, this is well worth clicking and reading.
 

The anti-choice myth that community health centers could easily fill in for Planned Parenthood if the reproductive health-care provider loses federal funding has become pervasive among conservatives hoping to justify defunding the organization. It’s a claim that has been repeated by anti-choice organizations and politicians alike—and when it goes unchecked, it stands to perpetuate a falsehood that could have harmful consequences. Should the federal government strip reproductive health-care clinics from its funding programs, it will be devastating for millions of people who rely on such providers, not always just for reproductive care.
(Rewire)

{ 0 comments }

MN lege: When will the crazy end? Part 2

by Dan Burns on February 22, 2017 · 0 comments

mn_capitolMore from our merry crew of emboldened, even giddy, right-wingnuts.
 

House file 702 and Senate file 695 would give powerful interests that oppose water quality standards the ability to force Administrative Law Judges and the Court of Appeals to conduct an independent “do-over” of rulemaking based on their own determinations about which scientific issues and data matter.
 
These bills
– ask judges with no subject matter expertise to do the complex work of expert career agency scientists,
– duplicate the rulemaking process and increase the cost, delay and uncertainty of developing water quality standards, and
– significantly undermine public input into rulemaking and agency transparency to the public.
(Friends of the Mississippi River)

Regarding the following, it won’t shock me if the federal money is “redirected.” But probably not as the noted legislators have in mind. More military spending and more tax cut handouts for the 1% are far more likely.
 

A pair of Republican state lawmakers announced a resolution to the Secretary of Transportation requesting $929 million in federal funding for Southwest Light Rail Transit be redirected to other transportation projects in Minnesota.
 
Sen. David Osmek (R-Mound) and Rep. Linda Runbeck (R-Circle Pines) would rather see that money go toward roads and bridges across the state than to one transit project they say wouldn’t benefit most Minnesotans.
(Fox 9)

{ 0 comments }

Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 16

by Dan Burns on February 22, 2017 · 0 comments

trump13The great man will guide us through these complex and changing times with a steady hand and a calm, competent head. Sure thing.
 

In fact, it smacks of McCarthyism. Trump is trying to minimize the information coming out of the various intelligence agencies as illegal politicized leaks…
 
It is part of this ongoing effort to discredit inside information sources. Trump is working on minimizing the press. He is questioning the motives of protesters. And now, he is going to attempt to discredit the people who could release damaging information about what he has done and plans to do.
 
If anyone is questioning the idea that Trump is moving into an authoritarian transition in this country, that question is being answered.
(mnpACT!)

These are chaotic and anxious days inside the National Security Council, the traditional center of management for a president’s dealings with an uncertain world.
 
Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump’s Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them. Most are kept in the dark about what Mr. Trump tells foreign leaders in his phone calls. Some staff members have turned to encrypted communications to talk with their colleagues, after hearing that Mr. Trump’s top advisers are considering an “insider threat” program that could result in monitoring cellphones and emails for leaks…
 
And while Mr. Obama liked policy option papers that were three to six single-spaced pages, council staff members are now being told to keep papers to a single page, with lots of graphics and maps.
 
“The president likes maps,” one official said.
(New York Times)

{ 0 comments }