29

John Gray Responds To Blanche Lincoln On Health Care Reform

This afternoon, there were two attempts in the Senate Finance Committee to repair some of the damage done to health care reform by Chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat who has received a great deal of campaign finance from executives in the medical industry, and has accordingly crafted health care legislation designed in order to protect insurance companies. Two amendments attempted to reinsert a public option of government-established health care coverage, but both amendments were defeated by a coalition of Republicans and pro-industry Democrats.

Blanche Lincoln, senator from Arkansas, was among those Democrats who joined the Republicans to defeat meaningful health care reform. She voted against both amendments.

Physicist John Gray, one of Senator Lincoln’s constituents, says that he’s come to expect this kind of anti-progressive behavior from her. “I’m not at all surprised. She has a rather large campaign chest, almost half of which is from the medical industries,” Gray said this afternoon, responding to Lincoln’s votes against the public option. “The fact that she is loyal to her sponsors is not at all surprising.”

Unlike many Arkansas voters, who have learned to accept that they have little choice between the right wing Arkansas Republicans and the right wing Arkansas Democrats, Gray is taking action to ensure that, when Blanche Lincoln runs for re-election in 2010, voters will have the chance to vote for something different. Gray is running for the nomination of the Green Party of Arkansas to challenge Lincoln for her seat in Congress.

Gray says that he favors strong single payer health care reform, which would eliminate the waste that is inherent to the delivery of health care through insurance brokers. “Eliminate the health care insurance industry… and you would save enough money to cover every man woman and child in the United States,” Gray points out. “Nobody blinks an eyelash if we lay off 40,000 autoworkers, who actually produce something. These health insurance brokers, it’s hard to say what they produce.”

Look to hear more from Gray soon. His campaign web site is expected to be online within the week.

7

Jeremy Cloward Moves Forward In California Congressional Race

Election results were delayed tonight as firefighters from the 10th congressional district who have joined the battle against the raging wildfires around Los Angeles were given the chance to cast their ballots beyond the ordinary close of polls. However, with over half of the district’s precincts now reporting, it has become clear that no candidate will gain a majority of the votes in the election.

The top Democrat out of five Democratic contenders, John Garamendi, currently has just 26.62 percent of the vote. The top Republican out of five Republican contenders, David Harmer, currently has only 20.31 percent of the vote. It would require an astounding bias in the reporting of results for either candidate to pass the 50 percent mark.

This means that John Garamendi and David Harmer will continue as their parties’ nominees, with their eight rivals out of the race. Green Party candidate Jeremy Cloward, plus a candidate for the American Independent Party and another candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party, will also continue all the way to Election Day, November 3.

With a much less crowded field, Cloward will have the opportunity to take his message to more voters, especially given the Democrats’ choice of Garamendi. Garamendi has become unpopular among many progressives because of his position in support of a court ruling upholding Proposition 8, which outlaws marriage equality for same sex couples.

1

Jeremy Cloward Supports Universal Education

At a time when the Democratic Party is abandoning even the promise of universal health care, California is seeing the emergence of a congressional candidate who is still willing to promote a truly progressive agenda, including universal education. The proposal, which would extend free public education from day care through graduate school, is explained by Green Party candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives Jeremy Cloward in a recent interview with Irregular Times. In that interview, Cloward states:

We think that one of the practical concerns that people have would be universal day care. Most of us do have or will have children at some point in our lives. It is essential that they are cared for in a way that we feel good about. Most of us, the reason we have kids in day care is that we’re at work, so while most of us already have day care centers at school, most of us pay for it.

What we propose is taxing corporate profits, over six trillion dollars in 2007, tax it at one percent, and from that one percent, we would generate six billion dollars. You need roughly 85,000 dollars for every each of our 60,000 to 70,000 elementary school to middle school kids. So, this is a practical program that we think many people would respond to, as well as, as you mentioned, universal education, which we think should be the highest aim of any society.

Jeremy Cloward is facing a primary election date very soon, on September 1st. Only if one candidate fails to get more than 50 percent of the vote can Cloward progress to the general election date on November 3rd. Please, visit Jeremy Cloward’s campaign site and give him your support.

8

The Difference Between Democrats And Greens Is As Big As Hiroshima’s Mushroom Cloud

Some people say that there’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans. I don’t think it’s fair, or for that matter, plausible, to make that claim. The problem with the Democratic Party is that there isn’t as much of a difference between Republican politicians and Democratic politicians as there ought to be – certainly not as much of a difference as Democratic voters like to believe that there is.

Those of us who are in the Green Party need to remember that most Democrats truly believe that there is a great deal of difference between their leaders and the leaders of the Republican Party. What Green Party candidates need to do is to walk a balanced line, acknowledging the differences that really do exist between Republicans and Democrats, while showing Democrats the ways in which the distinction between the two dominant parties is insufficient.

A timely example of this balanced approach is the issue of nuclear weapons. Tomorrow is the 64th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. A poll of Republicans, Democrats and political independents (not members of the Independent Party) about the Hiroshima bombing, by Quinnipiac University, was released just yesterday.

The results: Republicans were strongly in favor of the nuclear attack, 74 percent supporting the decision to drop the atom bomb, and only 13 percent against. Democrats were different. The largest group of Democrats, 49 percent, expressed support for the nuclear attack. Only 29 percent of Democrats said they disagreed with the attack, and 22 percent said they were unsure.

Let’s not make the mistake of thinking that political independents are more likely to reject the Hiroshima attack than Democrats. 65 percent of independents expressed support for the nuclear attack against Hiroshima, and 23 percent being unsure.

What about Green Party members? Where did they stand in the poll? Well, they didn’t stand in the poll. They weren’t counted as Green Party members. However, it’s a safe bet that a strong majority of Green Party members would express rejection of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. After all, the Green Party has non-violence as one of its 10 key values. The Democratic Party doesn’t even have the word “non-violence” in its platform.

What do we do with this information?

It’s clear that the Democratic Party is not a party of non-violence. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any Democrats who support non-violence. There are many who do. In fact, of the three political groups considered by this poll, the Democratic Party had the most non-violent members. With only the information contained in the poll, many voters might conclude that the best way to support non-violence. Of course, if the Green Party is added to the consideration, the Democratic Party’s support for non-violence looks downright weak.

There are 29 percent of Democrats who expressed a strong belief in non-violence in this poll. They aren’t being represented well by their own political party. They ought to be open to considering the Green Party, but that consideration won’t take place unless they perceive the Green Party as being a politically viable option.

We need to woo these Democrats, not assault them with generalizations that they know aren’t true. They know that there’s a difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, and they also know that there is a great deal of diversity within the Democratic Party. When we acknowledge that diversity, we encourage non-violent Democrats to differentiate themselves from their political party as a whole. When that differentiation is accomplished, these Democrats can begin to see that their ideals aren’t being promoted by the Democratic Party leadership, and the Green Party option, reasonably communicated, becomes a lot more attractive.

You’ve got to recognize the sheep as an individual separate from the flock before it will have the courage to start acting like a goat.

3

Charleston Green Party Organizes Before State Convention

The annual state convention of the South Carolina Green Party is taking place a week from today in Columbia. Down the road in Charleston, the local Greens will be getting ready with a meeting on Monday, August 3rd.

On the agenda of the Charleston Greens will be an official request to be recognized as an affiliate of the state party. The group has not been waiting for that official status to engage in Green action, however. Members have been working in coordination with other progressive organizations to prepare for Peace Day, escort women at local clinics, work at counter-recruitment events, and clean an Adopt-A-Highway area. They’re also getting ready for publicity efforts at a presence at the Charleston Green Fair.

Another issue that seems to be particularly motivating for Greens in Charleston is opposition to the extension of I-526. The transportation project threatens wetlands and would promote sprawling development in Johns Island, a rural area to the southwest of Charleston. The Charleston Greens are working with other groups to oppose the extension.

The Charleston Green Party meeting will take place 7:00 PM, Monday August 3rd, at Earth Fare in the South Windermere Plaza, Folly Road Boulevard in Charleston.

3

Allegheny Greens Organize for Pittsburgh Protest

The Green Party of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania has announced that it is working with other progressive organizations to organize a demonstration and other activities in response to a meeting of the G-20 that will take place in Pittsburgh on September 24th and 25th this year. The Allegheny Greens write,

“The Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors represents the world’s economic leaders, intimately connected to the most powerful multi-national corporations that dominate the global economy. Their neo-liberal policies have squandered billions on war, plunged economies into deep recessions, worsened social, economic and political inequality, and polluted the earth. We believe a better world is possible.”

The Allegheny Greens will take part in a People’s Summit being planned for September 19th, 20th and 21st. On September 25th, the Greens will join others in a march of protest against the activities of the G-20.

Updated information on the activist events can be found at the Thomas Merton Center.

0

Pennsylvania Greens Speak Out Against Coal Scheme

In Pennsylvania, coal is still king. The state’s economy currently depends upon huge coal deposits, shipping coal to power plants far outside its borders. Most political leaders in Pennsylvania are therefore reluctant to do anything that might harm the interests of the coal industry.

The Green Party of Pennsylvania stands against this dirty energy arrangement. Jay Sweeney, chair of the Green Party of Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, spoke yesterday against a new state-sponsored scheme to try to make coal appear like a clean energy source. The idea is carbon sequestration, a yet-to-be-invented process of capturing carbon emissions as they leave coal-fired power plants, mixing the carbon into a slurry, and pumping that slurry into the ground. Sweeney said of the plan,

“Carbon capture and storage is no substitute for reducing carbon emissions. Pennsylvania should be reducing its coal fired power production by 50% and increasing its solar and wind energy production to compensate for this reduction… Capturing carbon, liquefying it and building a system of pipes to move the liquefied carbon to a sequestration site poses many environmental hazards including leakage into soil and water. The science is unproven and the results could be far more harmful than the benefits.”

0

Palmeri Warns of Health Care Monstrosity

Green Party politician Tony Palmeri appeared on the Wisconsin Public Radio show Week in Review on Friday, and spoke with host Joy Cardin on a variety of topics, ranging from economic stimulus in Wisconsin to the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court of the United States.

On the issue of health care reform, Palmeri warned about the influence of lobbyists from the health insurance industry upon the legislative process in Washington D.C. “I would be shocked if something were passed before the August recess, mostly because the private insurance industry is putting about 1.4 million dollars a day in lobbying in Washington, and sad to say, until something comes out of those committees that the industry is happy with, we probably won’t get a bill signed,” he said. “If these folks are putting in a million or more dollars a day in lobbying, they’re not doing it so that they’re going to be put out of business. We might be creating a kind of monstrosity here.”

However, as imperfect as the health care reform process is, Palmeri noted that local governments are struggling to keep up with the increasing burden of health care costs, even as the overall economic crisis reduces the money that’s available for their budgets. He explained, “As a member of the Oshkosh City Council, we’re going into our budget period right now, and as most cities, we’re facing huge health care increases for our city employees, so we really need some help from the feds, and if whatever they pass in Washington passes the cities, at least it’s some positive reform.”

Palmeri is an Associate Professor of Communications at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. He was re-elected to the Oshkosh Common Council this year and named Deputy Mayor.

1

Democrats Working To Hide Spy Abuses Even As They Bubble Out

When government agencies release a report on a Friday, you know that there’s someone who’s hoping that news about the report will get lost in the weekend news cycle and be forgotten by Monday. When that government report is released on a Friday evening in the middle of the summer, it’s a sign of something particularly embarrassing.

That’s just what happened with the release of an inspectors general report about the use of Big Brother spying techniques by the White House against law-abiding Americans within the borders of the USA. There’s a lot to cover from this report, but here are some highlights:

– The Bush Administration was engaging in much more surveillance against Americans than has been revealed so far. The report calls this spying “extraordinary and inappropriate”, but the inspectors general won’t reveal to the public just what it involved.
– Top officials concluded that the Big Brother spying wasn’t actually very effective in protecting Americans against terrorism.
– Congress was not informed of the spying as required by law.

That last point is extremely important because of two other factors:

– Much of the warrantless spying against Americans continues under President Barack Obama
– The story expanded last night with leaked information that Vice President Dick Cheney himself was directing intelligence agencies to keep information about spying secret from the U.S. Congress.

What makes this a Green Party issue? For one thing, the Green Party is opposed to government secrecy and violations of Americans constitutional rights. On a political level, the Green Party can be strongly differentiated from the Democrats and the Republicans, as both of these political parties are involved in the cover-up of government surveillance programs against the American people.

Not only has the Democratic-led Congress failed to conduct any meaningful inquiry into the illegal spying, but last year, many Democrats, including then-Senator Barack Obama, joined the Republicans in passing the FISA Amendments Act, a law that legalized massive electronic surveillance of our private communications and provided retroactive immunity to telecommunications corporations who helped George W. Bush with his spying programs. Furthermore, President Obama has opposed efforts by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to reveal the extent of electronic spying against Americans.

Last month, in order to start to control the abuse, a small number of Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee introduced a measure into an appropriations bill that would increase the number of members of Congress who would have to be informed of CIA spying activities. Almost immediately, President Obama announced that he was opposed to the measure, and would veto any legislation that included such requirements for increased oversight.

How did the House Democrats react? They backed down, saying that they’ll work with the White House to cripple to oversight provision.

At the very time that it’s becoming clear that the Republicans’ illegally kept secrets about government spying from Congress, Obama and the congressional Democrats are working to make sure that the secrecy continues. The Democrats aren’t repairing the Republicans’ attacks against the Constitution – they’re continuing them. It’s going to take another political party with true progressive values to undo the damage.

1

Portland Greens Help Defend Marriage Equality In Maine

One of the most important things that sets the Green Party apart from other political parties in the United States is a consistent and strong support for LGBT rights, including marriage equality. While the Democrats waffle and triangulate, and the Republicans outright pander to homophobia, Green Party activists are getting to work to ensure that all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation, are provided with the equal protection under the law that the Constitution guarantees.

A grassroots example of the Green Party’s support for LGBT rights comes from Portland, Maine. Green Party activists there are organizing members to participate in phone banking in coordination with Equality Maine. They’re donating their time, and their cell phone minutes, to rally opposition to an effort to pass a ballot resolution similar to Proposition 8 in California. Maine only recently secured the right to marry for all couples, without discrimination, but right wing activists from across the country are pouring in resources in an effort to undo the progress.