Health Care Reform

Show Details for the week of February 13th, 2017

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On The Monitor this week:

  • The confirmation of Tom Price, R-Ga., as secretary of Health and Human Services – an interview with Carol Paris.
  • Terrorism, Trump, and the media narrative – an interview with Beau Grosscup

More about this week’s guests:

Carol ParisDr. Carol Paris is a recently retired psychiatrist who worked for more than 25 years in private practice, community mental health, prison psychiatry, and academia. She is president of Physicians for a National Health Program. In the course of her experience, much of which was in Maryland, she became an outspoken critic of the private-insurance-based U.S. health care system.

In May 2009, she and seven others stood up, one by one, at a U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing on health care reform chaired by Sen. Max Baucus to ask why there wasn’t a single advocate for single-payer health care on the 41-member panel. In an action that received national media attention, Baucus had all eight peaceful protesters, including Dr. Paris, arrested. (Charges were eventually reduced, requiring only community service.)

Quote in response to the Senate vote to confirm Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., as secretary of health and human services: “The Senate’s confirmation of Tom Price as health secretary is a body blow to the health and welfare of all Americans. According to this week’s Monmouth University poll, Americans’ biggest concern today is with their mounting health care costs, more so than their job security, taxes or other household bills. With Price at the helm of HHS, this concern is only going to escalate. Price’s vision for reforming U.S. health care would result in millions of Americans losing existing health insurance coverage, and millions more having to make do with bare-bones policies that offer little to no meaningful protection. He can also be expected to push high-deductible health plans, which already result in millions of people forgoing needed care, and to undermine Medicare, the Medicaid program and safety-net hospitals. If Price’s policies come to pass, the free-market ideologues who supported them will no longer be able to hide behind false promises like ‘universal access.’ The results will be laid bare for everyone to see, and elected officials will have to answer to the poor, working-class, elderly, and chronically ill Americans who will suffer needlessly as a result. Studies show that about 43,000 people will die each year if such policies are implemented. Congress urgently needs to reverse course and embrace the obvious solution: an improved Medicare for all.”

grosscup

Beau Grosscup is author of several books on terrorism including The Newest Explosions of Terrorism and, most recently, Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment. He recently retired from teaching (California State University).

Context: President Trump recently claimed that terrorist attacks have “gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported.” The media is starting to fire back. See, for example: “Donald Trump wrong that media is not reporting on terrorism any more.”
Grosscup, a leading expert on terrorism takes issue with the entire political and media discussion on the subject.
Quote: “Trump is  only focused on media under-reporting of terrorism of the ‘other.’ He doesn’t consider U.S. a terrorist state. For his statement about media under-reporting of terrorism to be correct would take a re-interpretation of his ‘we kill people’ admission to mean the U.S. commits acts of terrorism too. There is a plethora of evidence it does so. Media has been silent on U.S.-backed Saudi terror bombing in Yemen, on U.S.-backed Iraqi Shiite militia terror in anti-ISIS campaign. Moreover, when the U.S. government does ‘kill’ such as hitting hospitals, wedding parties (Afghanistan, Yemen) etc., the corporate media does report it reluctantly and in doing so gives immediate credence to the various Pentagon explanations as to why it doesn’t qualify as terrorism (not intentional, accident, technological failure, ally did it, fog of war, chain of command confusion). Media also accepts totally the Pentagon claim of ‘precision bombing’ equals smart if not ‘brilliant’ weapons. Trump is correct that for example media doesn’t report U.S. ‘double tap’ policy (sending in a second missile to kill enemy ‘first responders’ nor the policy that ‘human shields’ are considered military targets.”

Show Details for the week of October 31st, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Is the Affordable Care Act imploding and beyond repair? We discuss the topic with John Geyman.
  • Comey, Clinton, and the politics of investigations – an interview with Coleen Rowley.
  • Reminder – this coming Thursday Greg Palast is coming to Houston and there is a screening of his movie The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. This is a single screening on one night only. Full Details here.

More about this week’s guests:

jgeyman-84_4x6John Geyman is professor emeritus of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, where he served as Chairman of the Department of Family Medicine from 1976 to 1990. As a family physician with over 25 years in academic medicine, he has also practiced in rural communities for 13 years. He was the founding editor of The Journal of Family Practice (1973 to 1990) and the editor of The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine from 1990 to 2003. He is a past president of Physicians for a National Health Program.

Quote: “Premium increases for 2017 under the Affordable Care Act are being reported in a number of states (e.g. 59 percent in Minnesota up to 119 percent in Arizona), typically associated with reduced choice of health plans as more insurers exit the market. The costs of health insurance and health care already exceed $25,000 a year for a family of four on an average employer-sponsored plan as these increases become unaffordable and unsustainable for a growing part of our population.” His recent piece lists a host of problems with the ACA, as well as proposals by Hillary Clinton and Republicans. He writes: “Multiple studies have demonstrated that in the U.S. we could save about $500 billion a year by enacting a nonprofit single-payer national health program that streamlines administration. Those savings would be sufficient to guarantee everyone high-quality care, with no cost sharing, on a sustainable basis. The system could also negotiate lower drug prices. Studies over the past two decades have shown 3 of 5 Americans supporting an improved version of Medicare for all. Support for single payer is also growing among doctors and other health care professionals. Yet the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, H.R. 676 (Rep. John Conyers’ bill), with 62 co-sponsors, sits neglected in a House committee.” Geyman is the author of more than a dozen books. The most recent are:

• Health Care Wars: How Market Ideology and Corporate Power are Killing Americans (2012),
• Souls on a Walk: An Enduring Love Story Unbroken by Alzheimer’s (2013)
• How Obamacare is Unsustainable: Why We Need a Single-Payer Solution for All Americans (2015) won a National Nonfiction Book Award
The Human Face of ObamaCare: Promises vs. Reality and What Comes Next (2016)

coleen_rowleyColeen Rowley is a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures — was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. She now writes op-eds for Consortium News.

Quote: “Given the beating that FBI Director James Comey is taking from Democratic leaders and partisans as well as from the Clinton campaign, it would be good to remember some of his history. Back in 2013, I wrote a New York Times op-ed [“Questions for the F.B.I. Nominee“] that attempted to question and point out some of the (mostly undeserved) basis for Comey’s reputation for integrity. My op-ed came out the day of his Senate confirmation hearing accompanied by a nice torture graphic (although the Times watered it down a little; for instance, they made me change the word ‘torture.’ We settled on: ‘He ultimately approved the C.I.A.’s list of “enhanced interrogation” techniques, including waterboarding, which experts on international law consider a form of torture.’). The op-ed had little effect as Comey sailed through the nomination with full bipartisan support and only one Senator voting against his confirmation. Comey is neither saint nor villain but someone who has been around the block. As an acting Attorney General, he’s actually been in his nominal boss’s Loretta Lynch’s exact position and knows how the political pressures as well as media disclosures (i.e. leaking to the public) work. Although he wasn’t really challenging mass surveillance of American citizens or the CIA’s use of torture back March 2004 in Ashcroft’s hospital room, he did stand up to John Yoo’s (presidentially ordained) pettifoggery establishing a form of martial law after 9-11, based on (fascistic) ‘imperial presidency’ war powers. Considering his background, I think Comey could be truly worried about the high level of corruption that has engulfed Washington D.C. It should be recalled that he appointed Patrick Fitzgerald as an independent prosecutor to investigate Bush-Cheney’s ‘Plamegate’ perfidy. And don’t forget a young Comey helped investigate the Clintons’ ‘Whitewater’ fraud over two decades ago. Yet after his stint at the Department of Justice, Comey went on to become a Vice-President and General Counsel for Lockheed Martin which donates to and has numerous ties to the Clintons and their Foundation.”

Show Details for the week of August 8th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Deconstructing environmental party politics with Dahr Jamail
  • Bernie Sanders supporters going Green with YahNe Ndgo

More about this week’s guests:

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Dahr Jamail is a journalist who is best known as one of the few unembedded journalists to report extensively from Iraq during the 2003 Iraq invasion. He spent eight months in Iraq, between 2003 to 2005, and presented his stories on his website Dahr Jamail’s Mideast Dispatches

He has appeared on The Monitor with Mark Bebawi several times in the past, including live unembedded reports from Iraq at the height of the US invasion. Since his return he has written two books – “The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan,” (Haymarket Books, 2009), and “Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq,” (Haymarket Books, 2007).

More recently Dahr has been covering environmental topics. You can read his latest articles on his website. The interview will focus on the policies of the various parties on climate change.

dv-xlagoYahNe Ndgo describes herself as “Bernie Lover, Ubuntu Promoter, Singer, Writer, Activist, Traveler, Mother, Sister, Auntie, Daughter, Granddaughter, Cousin, Friend, Neighbor, Lover, Human Being” and gained significant attention when a CNN interview she gave went “viral”: YahNe Ndgo explains Bernie or Bust/Never Hillary

She was one of the keynote speakers at the Green Party’s convention in Houston and I interviewed her for Pacifica’s live coverage of that event. I asked her about the Sanders campaign, his supporters’ potential for voting Green, and what motivates her political activities.

Show Details for the week of April 25th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Wendell Potter discusses his book Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts our Democracy and What We can do about it
  • Money and Musicals – Gerald Horne on Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, and Harriet Tubman

More about this week’s guests:

Wendell Potter
NationOnTheTakehirezWendell hi rez headshotFollowing a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, Wendell left his position as VP of Communications for Cigna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, to advocate for meaningful health care reform and to help organizations working for the greater good achieve their goals. In widely covered Congressional hearings, Wendell disclosed how insurance companies, to boost profits, engage in practices that have forced millions of Americans into the ranks of the uninsured, and use deceptive PR tactics to undermine health care reform.
His book, “Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks out on how Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans,” is a stark warning that corporate spin is distorting our democracy. Wendell is also the author of “Obamacare: What’s in it for me? What everyone needs to know about the Affordable Care Act.” Wendell is a regular contributor for The Huffington Post and HealthInsurance.org.
Wendell’s latest book, coauthored by Nick Penniman is “Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do about It,” which exposes legalized corruption and links it to kitchen-table issues citizens face every day.

Gerald Horne

gerald20horne20photo1Gerald Horne holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston. His research has addressed issues of racism in a variety of contexts involving labor, politics, civil rights, international relations and war. He has also written extensively about the film industry. Dr. Horne received his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and his B.A. from Princeton University. Dr. Horne’s undergraduate courses include the Civil Rights Movement and U.S. History through Film. He also teaches graduate courses in Diplomatic History, Labor History and 20th Century African American History. Dr. Horne uses a variety of teaching techniques that enrich his classes and motivate students to participate.

13717-3Quote: “The U.S., as an artificially constructed former settler state, has a problem of unity — not least of all with its African20-dollar-bill-transfer-transferframe198 American population. Many nations have to construct a mythology to achieve unity. The U.S. myth of the Founding Fathers has revolved around Washington and Jefferson, but both have been scrutinized. Alexander Hamilton is now in effect being put forward, but he was the captain of the one percent — he represented the interests of big finance at the beginning of the United States. He personified the grievances that continue, and that the Sanders campaign and — to a degree the Trump campaign — have objected to. So, if you have a multiracial, hip hop cast in this musical, you pretend we’re achieving national unity. The actual historical record is so very different. Britain was moving toward abolition, so in 1776, the slave owners rebelled. That’s in large part the origin of the United States. In terms of Alexander Hamilton the man, he migrated to the mainland from the Caribbean as the enslaved Africans became more rebellious. The elite whites could no longer control the situation though the region had been considered the crown jewel of the British empire in this hemisphere. His coming to what became the U.S. was actually an example of what we’d call white flight. Much of our political climate is continuously obscured because we still haven’t come to terms with the racist and economic realities of the United States from its origin. That allows for many poor whites to align politically with white elites rather than with black folks.”

Among his most recent publications

  • Race to Revolution:  The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow, 2014.
  • The Counter-Revolution of 1776:  Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America, 2014.
  • Black Revolutionary:  William Patterson and the Globalization of the African-American Freedom Struggle, 2014.

Show Details for the week of January 18th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • The misconstrued relationship between automation and wage inequality, with John Schmitt
  • The gap between rhetoric and reality in Hillary Clinton’s assessments of Bernie Sanders’ healthcare plan, with Gerald Friedman

More about this week’s guests:

john-schmitt-web-photoJohn Schmitt is research director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and co-author of the piece, “Don’t Blame the Robots: Assessing the Job Polarization Explanation of Growing Wage Inequality.” (co-authored with Heidi Shierholz — who is now the chief economist at the Labor Department — and Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute). You can follow John on Twitter here.

Background: President Obama said in his State of the Union address: “Now, what is true — and the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxious — is that the economy has been changing in profound ways, changes that started long before the Great Recession hit; changes that have not let up. Today, technology doesn’t just replace jobs on the assembly line, but any job where work can be automated. Companies in a global economy can locate anywhere, and they face tougher competition. As a result, workers have less leverage for a raise. Companies have less loyalty to their communities. And more and more wealth and income is concentrated at the very top.”

Schmitt Quote: “Technological change is not the force behind rising inequality. Technological change has been a constant feature of the economy throughout the entire 20th century, with no obvious associated increase in wage or income inequality for much of that period. As many researchers have also noted, the timing of the microcomputer revolution doesn’t match well with the jump in inequality. The largest increase in wage inequality took place in the few years between 1979 and 1982, well before personal computers, let alone the Internet, had transformed workplaces. And, the pace of growth in wage inequality slowed somewhat even as computerization spread steadily in the late 1980s and 1990s. Technology is also not well suited to explain important dimensions of wage inequality by gender, race, and age.

gerald_friedman Gerald Friedman is a Professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Friedman’s work was cited by the Wall Street Journal about Bernie Sanders’ proposals for government spending. Last year he was featured in an accuracy.org news release: “How WSJ is off by $18 Trillion on Sanders’ Proposals.”
Background:
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday night on MSNBC claimed regarding Sen. Bernie Sanders’ healthcare proposals: “The bulk of what he is advocating for is a single payer health care system, which would probably cost about $15 trillion. … it would basically end all the kinds of health care we know, Medicare, Medicaid, the CHIP program, children’s health insurance, TRICARE for the National Guard, military, Affordable Care Act exchange policies, employer-based policies. … It would take all that and hand it over to the states.” Clinton is apparently echoing a Wall Street Journal piece from last year: “Price Tag of Bernie Sanders’ Proposals: $18 Trillion,” which relies on the analysis of Professor Gerald Friedman, quoted below. In under 24 hours, a RootsAction.org petition, “Tell Hillary Clinton to Stop Lying About Single-Payer,” has gained nearly 10,000 signers. “A single-payer health plan covers everyone and lowers costs. It does not deprive anyone of health coverage or empower any governor to do so. Unless you’re in the top 5 percent for income, you save more by tearing up your health insurance bills than you pay in higher taxes under single-payer.”
See Politifact debunking of similar claims from the Clinton camp: “Chelsea Clinton mischaracterizes Bernie Sanders’ health care plan.”
Friedman Quote: “The statement that Sanders ‘would take all that and hand it over to the states’ is wrong. What Clinton is doing is shameful. Sanders’ plan would end or transform those programs, but more importantly end employer based healthcare — and that’s good. The gold standard of single payer plans is HR 676, Medicare for All, which actually enhances Medicare and covers everybody. What Sanders has done is take that proposal and — in an apparent attempt to make it palatable to some Republicans — let the states administer the new, comprehensive program. Obamacare allowed coverage for 15 to 20 million people, and that was a good step. But it’s by no means what is really needed. We have 30 million people who are still uninsured and tens of millions who are under insured. The insurance companies still dominate how healthcare is done and that adds tons of overhead costs. Even Medicare now leaves people having to cover 20 percent of hospitalization. Sanders’ proposal solves all those problems — and it also adds pharmaceutical coverage. It does let the states administer it under strict guidelines. That’s not control — it has provisions in place that if they don’t administer it properly, the federal government can move in. It would in effect move administrative functions from private federal contractors to states. The $15 trillion figure is my old number from 2013 for the 10-year cost of a single payer program (HR 676) over and above current federal spending. (The exact number was $14.6 trillion.) That was based on projections from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid statistics from 2009. Later projections have lowered spending and my current estimate of the ten-year cost of a single-payer program would be $13 trillion. I have proposed several alternative ways to finance such a program — all have payroll taxes well under what people pay now for health care, on the order of 3 to 7 percent.”

Show Details for the week of July 7th, 2014

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Why Should a Woman’s Health Care Depend on Her Employer? The SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision – a doctor’s perspective with Elizabeth Rosenthal
  • The escalation of violence in Gaza – recent events discussed with Jennifer Loewenstein

More about this week’s guests:

Elizabeth Rosenthal is is a dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. She is an executive board member of the NY Metro chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program. A very experienced advocate for single payer, upon her retirement after 40 years in private practice, Dr. Rosenthal has focused her energies on the state of U.S. health care and argued for the rationale of a single payer system. She has appeared on radio and television and she helped lead a fact-finding delegation to Canada to compare the Canadian system with the US.  Dr. Rosenthal received in medical degree from New York University’s School of Medicine.

Quote: “If we had a single-payer health care system instead of our current employer-based health insurance, this question would be moot. Women would not be at the mercy of their employer to get access to family planning services and contraceptive care.”

 


Jennifer Loewenstein is  Faculty associate in Middle East Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Loewenstein has spent extensive time in Gaza including witnessing attacks. She is now in touch with human rights groups there.

Quote: “More than three times the number of the Israeli youths murdered near Hebron were murdered by the Israeli military in its terrorist rampage across the West Bank since the three [Israeli youths] went missing. But we will never see the handsome photos and bios of the dead Palestinians because they are ‘human animals’ according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, unworthy of our grief. … Israel has been dying to arrest many of those it freed in deals over the last year or so, especially those connected to the Gilad Shalit case. … Clashes in an East Jerusalem neighborhood are growing more violent after the murder of a Palestinian teen by the Israeli military there. He was innocent of any crime. … Israel is already taking ‘justice’ into its own hands without any proof, real trial, or legal punishment of the accused. The accused teens’ families have already had their homes destroyed.”

In the story “Is Israel Preparing New Military Offensive against Gaza?“, the Real News reports “Israel is punishing Gaza despite no evidence that shows Hamas was responsible for the deaths of the Israeli teenagers.”

Show Details for the week of March 24th, 2014

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On this week’s show:

  • Democracy and Overthrows in Venezuela and Ukraine – an interview with Howard Friel
  • Buyers Club Founder Condemns “Pharma’s Genocidal Greed” and Trade Deals – an interview with George Carter

More about this week’s guests:
Howard Friel is author of Chomsky and Dershowitz: On Endless War and the End of Civil Liberties (Olive Branch Press). He also wrote the The Lomborg Deception: Setting the Record Straight about Global Warming (Yale University Press, 2010), and is co-author with Richard Falk of Israel-Palestine on Record: How The New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East (Verso, 2007), and The Record of the Paper: How The New York Times Misreports U.S. Foreign Policy (Verso, 2004).

Recent Articles:

No Russian Ever Called Me a Terrorist

On Democracy and Orchestrated Overthrows in Venezuela and Ukraine

The Siege of Sevastopol Threatens War

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“Dallas Buyers Club” won the Oscar for best actor (Matthew McConaughey) and best supporting actor (Jared Leto). We put this in context with the history of the real Buyers Clubs

George Carter is director of the New York Buyers Club, the last of the Buyers Clubs and a non-profit. Carter is also director of the Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research.

Quote: “There were incredible efforts by clubs in Boston, Houston, Phoenix, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco to help people survive. There were two in New York, including the PWA Health Group and Direct Access Alternative Information Resources — where I worked. DAAIR used to bring not yet FDA approved drugs to help people survive opportunistic infection and used an array of interventions to fight HIV.

“When DAAIR closed, we started NYBC almost ten years ago. Our efforts today focus more on battling ongoing inflammation and antiretroviral side effects, evidenced based as much as possible. We’re also addressing issues like Hepatitis C and cancers now. I had joined ACT UP in 1989 and saw the whole array of efforts to bring in drugs, supplements, botanicals — what evolved was a more comprehensive approach to surviving and thriving. This has helped thousands in the U.S. and Europe — and to the extent we’ve been able to reach out to friends in Nepal, Zimbabwe and Thailand.

“Yet globally, treatment and care is denied millions who cannot access antiretroviral and opportunistic infection meds due to pharma’s greed that is to me nothing short of a form of economic genocide. In addition, Harvard research underscores that even a simple multivitamin can substantially slow the rate of disease progression. We are still in the fight.” Carter stresses the continuing high costs of some treatments and that large pharmaceutical companies work to ensure that trade deals — like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership deal — ensure their interests at the expense of the well being of patients; for example restricting production of generics.

See Carter’s piece: “A Petition To Bring Suit Against Defendants, (including the Pharmaceutical Manufacturer’s Association and members of the United States Government) on the Charge of Genocide Upon Individuals Living with HIV/AIDS, 2000.” [PDF]

Also “Fighting Back Against Pharmaceutical Company Greed” in Gay Men’s Health Crisis Treatment Issues, April 2002.

For more background see:

Bill Minutaglio: “The real legacy of the real Dallas Buyers Club is that it didn’t really have one.

Patrick Mulcahey: “Not Buying ‘Dallas Buyers Club’” in which he says that: “ACT UP doesn’t exist in ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’ nor do NAPWA [National Association of People with AIDS], the PWA Health Group [People with AIDS], GMHC [Gay Men’s Health Crisis], John James’ AIDS Treatment News, the Healing Alternatives Foundation. The film’s only gay characters are weak, docile, dithering, relegated to the background, standing in line for what [main character Ron] Woodroof is selling — and overselling.”

Show Details for the week of October 28th, 2013

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On this week’s show:

  • New Study on Campaign Cash Behind the National Surveillance State – an interview with Paul Jorgensen
  • The Complexity “Baked into Obamacare” – an interview with Philip Caper

More about this week’s guests:

Paul Jorgensen

Paul Jorgensen is assistant professor of political science at the University of Texas Pan American and a lab fellow of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University. With Thomas Ferguson and Jie Chen, he just completed a major study of campaign finance in the 2012 election. They summarize their results on AlterNet: “Who Buys the Spies? The Hidden Corporate Cash Behind America’s Out-of-Control National Surveillance State.”https://i2.wp.com/www.accuracy.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/table2x.jpg

Quote: “As the storm over surveillance broke, we were completing a statistical analysis of campaign contributions in 2012, using an entirely new dataset that we constructed from the raw material provided by the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service. … In our big sample, which pretty well approximates ‘business as a whole,’ Obama trailed far behind Romney.”

But they continue: “In sharp contrast to … claims that big business was deeply suspicious of the president, our statistical results show that a large and powerful bloc of ‘industries of the future’ — telecommunications, high tech, computers, and software — showed essentially equal or higher percentages of support for the president in 2012 than they did for Romney.

“We think this finding is the most significant of all: Firms in many of the industries directly involved in the surveillance programs were relative bastions of support for the president.

“Bush and Cheney may have invented it, but national Democratic leaders are full-fledged players in this 21st century National Surveillance State and the interest group pressures that now help to sustain its defenders in Washington work just as powerfully on Democrats as on Republicans.”

They add that “we do not believe that it would be impossible to strike a reasonable balance between the demands of security and freedom that accords with traditional Fourth Amendment principles. … But a system dominated by firms that want to sell all your data working with a government that seems to want to collect nearly all of it through them is unlikely to produce that.”

A preliminary version of their longer study, with several tables, is available as a Roosevelt Institute Working Paper: “Party Competition and Industrial Structure in the 2012 Elections: Who’s Really Driving the Taxi to the Dark Side?

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Philip Caper

Philip Caper is a doctor in Portland, Maine and regular columnist at the Bangor Daily News. He is a founding board member of Maine AllCare, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group committed to making health care in Maine universal, accessible and affordable for all. He recently wrote the piece “The High Costs of Complexity in Health Care Reform.” Caper said today: “The problem with the ACA is not that the federal government is involved, but that literally thousands of private insurers have their fingers in the cookie jar, resulting in a law that is much too complicated for what it needs to accomplish, and too complex for anybody to administer efficiently and effectively. … Together, Medicare and Social Security — both run by the federal government — have been successfully providing access to private health care and income security for millions of seniors and the disabled for almost 50 years. They have been a major factor in keeping seniors in our country out of poverty. … We need expanded and improved Medicare-for-All. And we need to vote any politician who won’t advance us toward that goal out of office.”

Show Details for the week of August 5th, 2013

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Just back in town this week so please forgive the shorter than usual show post…
On this week’s show we look at the costs and realities of Medicare for all through an interview with Gerald Friedman and we talk about Drones being a threat to U.S. National Security with Fred Branfman.
More about this week’s guests:
Gerald Friedman
Gerald Friedman is professor, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Quote: “Upgrading the nation’s Medicare program and expanding it to cover people of all ages would yield more than a half-trillion dollars in efficiency savings in its first year of operation, enough to pay for high-quality, comprehensive health benefits for all residents of the United States at a lower cost to most individuals, families and businesses.”
Fred Branfman
Fred Branfman is an American anti-war activist and author of a number of books about the Indochina War. Working as the Director of Project Air War in 1969 he wrote about the U.S. bombing in Indochina, which he claimed was directed at civilians. His writing has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Harper’s, and many other publications. He is the author of Voices From the Plain of Jars.
Quote: “U.S. leaders can only name 77 ‘senior al-Qaeda and Taliban officials’ that they have killed by their drone strikes, out of total kills of 3-5,000 civilians and low-level militants that they cannot even name. This amounts to a military pinprick, which must be weighed against the long-term strategic catastrophe of turning nuclear-armed Pakistan against the U.S. U.S. drone policy toward Pakistan has caused over 75 percent of the Pakistani people – over 130 million people — to regard the U.S. as their ‘enemy,’ strengthened the Pakistani Taliban, weakened the Pakistani government, and reduced effective action against al-Qaeda. Most significantly, former U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson reported in the WikiLeaks cables that anti-U.S. hatred has made it impossible for the Pakistani government to cooperate with the U.S. in keeping nuclear materials out of potential terrorist hands, and limiting nuclear proliferation. The main impetus for U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan has been the assertion that they are necessary to protect U.S. troops in Afghanistan. But Mr. Kerry himself recognized two years ago that this rationale makes no long-term strategic sense, since ‘main event’ Pakistan is so much more important than ‘sideshow’ Afghanistan. He will best serve America’s strategic interests, as well as the rule of law and common human decency, by agreeing to the Pakistani government’s demand that the U.S. halt its drone strikes there. America badly needs to make Pakistan an ally, not an enemy. Bringing desperately needed electricity to Pakistan, rather than drone and ground assassinations, would do far more to strengthen U.S. national security.”

Show Details for the week of April 15th, 2013

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On this week’s show:

  • Drones in your backyard – an interview with Michael Figura
  • Obama administration intervenes to give $71.5 billion to overpaid, for-profit Medicare Advantage plans – an interview with Dr. David Himmelstein

More about this week’s guests:

Michael Figura, legal fellow of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, which just released two model ordinances to assist local communities in the battle against domestic surveillance drones across the US.

Michael Figura  is a recent graduate of City University of New York School of Law (CUNY). During law school, Michael was an Ella Baker Fellow at the Center For Constitutional Rights, and interned with the CUNY CLEAR (Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility) Clinic, the Guantanamo and Bagram Defense Clinic, and the Office of the Appellate Defender of New York.  At CUNY, Michael was an Executive Articles Editor of the New York City Law Review and was awarded several fellowships, including the Haywood Burns Fellowship for Civil and Human Rights and Charles H. Revson Law Student Public Interest Summer Fellowship. Prior to law school, Michael graduated from Wesleyan University and worked at the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board. Michael’s legal fellowship with BORDC is made possible through a generous grant from the Muslim Legal Fund of America.

The Associated Press reported yesterday: “At the start of what could be a new era in police surveillance, an Illinois legislator is proposing a limit on how law enforcement agencies can use drones highly sophisticated, unmanned aircraft that authorities are eyeing for aerial surveillance.”

David U. Himmelstein, MD, FACP – internal medicine, New York/Boston

Dr. David Himmelstein is professor in the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College and visiting professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. His research interests include health care finance and policy, health services research, health care inequality, and social justice.

He has served as chief of the division of social and community medicine at Cambridge Hospital, where he has been a practicing internist for many years.

Dr. Himmelstein received his medical degree from Columbia University and completed internal medicine training at Highland Hospital/University of California San Francisco and a fellowship in general internal medicine at Harvard.

Dr. Himmelstein is a co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, co-edits PNHP’s newsletter and is a principal author of PNHP articles published in the JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine in conjunction with Dr. Steffie Woolhandler. Among his more notably studies in recent years is one that shows 45,000 deaths annually are associated with lack of health insurance and another that shows 62 percent of personal bankruptcies are linked to medical bills or illness, and that 78 percent of those so bankrupted had insurance coverage when they first became sick. A partial list of these and other studies appears here.