Saturday, July 28, 2007

Matt Gonzalez for President

How a Green Won
by John Halle / July 28th, 2007
Dissident Voice

AP, San Francisco: San Francisco Mayor Matt Gonzalez announced his
campaign for the Green Party nomination for Presidency today. He is
expected to encounter only token opposition at the Green Party nominating
convention in July. A likely running mate is Georgia representative
Cynthia McKinney, according to Green Party officials.

Pledging an immediate withdrawl of US troops from the Middle East, the
Gonzalez-McKinney ticket is expected to galvanize anti war activists
displeased with the current field of candidates all of whom are on record
as having supported President Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Congressional support of subsequent incursions into Syria and airstrikes
on major Iranian cities have led to numerous, increasingly disruptive
demonstrations across the nation.

Unlike previous Green Party candidates, Gonzalez brings to the table
substantial experience in governance. A big city mayor and public interest
lawyer, Gonzalez's resume is equivalent to that of his likely Republican
opponent, though largely untainted by the plague of scandal which has been
a conspicuous feature of the Giuliani campaign since its outset.

The multi-ethnic ticket is also expected to attract the support of Latino
voters angered by the Democratic frontrunner's overtures to anti-immigrant
groups. A former member of the Congressional Black Caucus, McKinney will
be the first member of this body nominated for executive office. She is
expected to make the war on drugs, widely viewed as catastrophic for
African American communities, a centerpiece of the campaign and has
pledged to make voter registration among traditionally disenfranchised
groups a major focus.

The Green Party ticket's endorsement of single payer, universal health
care has attracted the support of large activist organizations developed
in the wake of Michael Moore's Sicko, which last week became the largest
grossing film in history. The only other candidate supporting single
payer, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich has remained mired in the low
single digits and has, since September, been excluded from debates
sponsored by major news organizations.

Experts noted that while a Gonzalez-McKinney ticket would be a long shot
under normal electoral circumstances, the presence of two moderate
candidates in a four way race leaves the field open for a left wing

While lacking the financial resources of the major party candidates, Green
Party officials believe they can compensate for this shortfall through on
line donations and an effectively organized volunteer staff. They note
that these were sufficient to overcome a candidate lavishly financed by
corporations, wealthy donors and the full weight of the Democratic Party
machine in 2003.

While some progressives remain skeptical about the prospects for third
parties, others have reconsidered their position. "A year ago I was on
record as saying 'It's not going to happen'. Now I'm not so sure," said
one who insisted on anonymity.

John Halle is a Professor at the Bard College Conservatory of Music and
former Green Party Alderman from New Haven's Ninth Ward.


Dane Smith and Charlie Quimby: The good life, as begotten by good government

In the propaganda of profligacy, tax money is always wasted. But statistics suggest that it generates wealth we can spend on ourselves.

The premise, of course, is that government is wasteful and profligate, while you are prudent and frugal.

Now comes a July 14 Star Tribune report with some fun facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Twin Cities households ranked first among 24 metropolitan areas in household spending on home furnishings and entertainment, third in eating out, third in alcohol consumption, and sixth in personal-care items. One retailer in the article observed that upscale consumers are increasingly demanding not just premium vodka, but "super ultra premium vodka."

Let's just quickly review and compare how state and local governments have been squandering "your" money. Almost all public-sector spending goes for these frivolities: public schools and colleges, health care for the elderly and for poor families with children, roads and mass transit, libraries, environmental protection, parks, police and fire protection, courts and corrections. (Some might argue that government officials and the Legislature do provide entertainment, but this is basically a free sideshow, not a budget line item.)

Earlier this summer, we learned from another federal report that Minnesota had sunk to a modern-era low, 23rd among the states, in state and local government taxes as a percent of income, and to 31st in government expenditures as a percent of income. By these measures, our government is significantly smaller than in the mid-1990s, before some of the largest state income tax cuts in the nation were pushed through in 1999 and 2002. (Advocates of those cuts said they would spur economic growth.)

Next comes a troubling report in the July 18 Star Tribune: "Since 2004, Minnesota's growth in jobs, per-capita personal income and output of goods and services has risen at a lower pace than the national average."

High consumer spending on luxuries, proportionately less government spending and slower-than-average overall economic growth. Could there be a connection?

As pointed out in the July 14 story, our high rankings on nearly every consumer-spending category are explained in large part by the fact that our incomes were third-highest of the 24 metropolitan areas. But the dramatic growth in Minnesota's wealth and income over the past three decades actually occurred when taxes were higher than they are now and when "we" were spending more on "us." And our economy has stagnated since we cut government and taxes, giving "you" more money to spend on "you."

Deep down, Minnesotans know that the good life is not all fine wine and skin-care products. Sure enough, digging into the BLS data, we found that the Twin Cities also rank second in consumer spending on health care and cash donations and sixth in education. Throw in our seventh-place spending on reading, and our priorities as consumers start to align more closely with our public spending.

Let's acknowledge that government can waste money, spend inefficiently and make mistakes, just as individual consumers do. But Minnesota, widely admired as a relatively efficient, clean, good-government state, has spent your money pretty well, too.

A truly healthy state economy depends both on spending by individuals, making considered judgments about their families' needs, and on pooled investment that reflects our common wisdom, values and hopes for the future. Instead of viewing government spending as somehow inferior to or more frivolous than individual, consumer-driven decisions, we should insist that the money be invested as wisely and cost-effectively as possible.

If Minnesota's total investment in the public sector increased by just 1 percentage point as a share of personal income, state and local governments would have $2 billion more per year to improve schools and graduation rates, catch up on a long-neglected transportation system, and restore health care to the thousands who have lost it as a result of a gradual disinvestment in the public sector.

Restoring tax fairness, with income tax rates at the top tier that are closer to the rates high earners paid in the roaring 1990s, would go a long way toward restoring the public investment that Minnesota needs to help maintain its lofty position in the consumer-spending rankings and support broad-based economic growth.

And not to worry, there would be plenty left over for "super ultra premium" vodka, as well as all the other spending that you can do better than the government can.

Dane Smith is president and Charlie Quimby is a communications fellow at Growth & Justice, a nonpartisan economic think tank based in St. Paul.

Crispin Sartwell: We pet the dog, and then we eat the cow

Our idea of moral behavior toward animals varies by species.

The Michael Vick dogfighting case, and all of the attention on dogfighting and its attendant practices, show one thing very clearly: As a society, we have no idea what we think about animals.

I watched cable news recently, and almost every anchor interviewed an official of the Humane Society, and all expressed horror, especially that Vick's indictment had accused him and his fellow defendants of executing dogs in ways apparently designed to be as cruel as possible: drowning, strangling, electrocution. One official compared the practice to child pornography.

Then I went into town for some lunch, driving past all of the franchises peddling ground cow for human consumption.

If killing dogs is the equivalent of child pornography, while eating cows is simply a way to put off mowing the lawn, we seem to be conflicted -- or reeking with hypocrisy and confusion.

We have a set of intuitions, driven partly by our interactions with pets, that many animals can experience pain in a morally significant way, that they can suffer, or be used and degraded. Perhaps they have somewhat less of a claim on us than human beings do, but they make a claim.

But another set of intuitions is driven by our dietary habits or our experience of thumping squirrels and armadillos on the road: that an animal is little more than an inanimate object, and can be used in whatever way a human being sees fit.

In practice, the moral claims of animals vary by species and track our sense of the animal's proximity -- cognitive, emotional, physical -- to ourselves. We become truly sentimental: We write memoirs with our dogs, talk baby-talk to them, let them lick our faces. But about other species we are as hard-nosed as possible. Essentially, we do whatever we feel like to them whenever we want.

If we really believed cruelty to animals debased humans who participate, we'd have to accept that our massive, industrial-scale systems of cruelty to cows deeply debase all humanity.

Crispin Sartwell teaches philosophy at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. He wrote this article for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Minneapolis top candidate for Greens '08

The city is one of four being considered to host the party's national convention.

minneapolis might be getting greener in 2008 without planting a single tree.

The Green Party is currently considering Minneapolis along with Chicago, Detroit and Oakland, Calif., as potential host cities for its 2008 national convention. If held in Minneapolis, the convention would be only months before the Republican National Convention comes to St. Paul.

Cam Gordon, Minneapolis' Ward 2 councilman, spearheaded the campaign to bring the convention to Minneapolis.

Gordon, a Green Party member, was joined by another Green, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner Annie Young, at the Green Party National Meeting in Reading, Pa., on July 14 and 15 to make the pitch for Minneapolis.

"I think our presentation went real well," Gordon said. "We were organized and had energy and I think we made the case pretty well."

Gordon and Young presented a 15-minute slideshow and video presentation. The video, "Meet Minneapolis," gave a crowd of roughly 150 delegates a three-minute glimpse into the city.

"Like the mayor, I like to sell Minneapolis," Young said. "I think we're ready to do something like this."

Young and Gordon agreed their presentation was the best executed. Young said only Minneapolis had a PowerPoint presentation and a movie.

Oakland, which Gordon said was a late applicant, could be the biggest competition, Young said. Gordon added that California is known for being politically active.

Gordon is no stranger to advancing the Green Party in Minnesota. In 1994, Gordon was a founding member of the state's Green Party.

"I think the Green Party offers a lot to the state and the city," he said. "I'm a strong believer in multiparty government."

Scott McLarty, media coordinator for the national Green Party, said a decision on the host city will be made in about a month.

The party also has a list of more than 10 presidential hopefuls that will vie for the presidential nomination, McLarty said.

The possibility of holding a convention in the same metro area near the same time as the Republicans would be fine, McLarty said.

"If they don't bother us, we won't bother them," he said. "Greens will show Republicans how to behave properly at a convention."

Chris Taylor, Midwest regional press secretary for the Republican National Committee, said he doesn't feel threatened.

He said he's sure the Green Party is looking into cities the same way Republicans did. Taylor said the Republican National Committee was wowed by Minneapolis, and he's not surprised that the Green Party is considering the city.

Ruth Weill, chair of the Green Party's Annual National Meetings Committee, said Minneapolis is a very strong candidate that is eager to host the convention.

"It's a very Green city," she said.

Weill said other party members feel the host city should be larger than Minneapolis, although she felt that the city would be big enough.

Weill added that many people at the Green Party National Meeting were very impressed with the Minneapolis presentation.

"It would be great to be in Minneapolis," she said. "Politics are everywhere, not just the coasts."

The Midwest is familiar with the Green Party. Milwaukee hosted the 2004 Green Party Convention.

Andrew Bender Dahl, an urban studies senior, is co-chairman of the University College Greens. He said he has been involved with the Green Party for five years.

"(The Green Party) platform is what I believe in politically," Bender Dahl said.

Bender Dahl said he feels Minneapolis has a pretty good chance of being selected. He also said that a convention would be a constructive place to display alternative views to the Republican Party.

"It's not meant to be blatant opposition," Bender Dahl said. "(Green Party conventions) are about building our movement."

Bender Dahl said the Green philosophy is similar to traditional, conservative Republican philosophy in that smaller government is favored. He said the main difference between the parties is their stance on war.

Trevor Ford, a University graduate, was a member of the College Republicans. He said unless the two conventions were held at the same time and place, he didn't see any problem.

Ford said he could see the Green Party becoming strong in Minnesota because many people are frustrated with the Democrats and Republicans, although he said the Green Party wasn't for him.

"I think they take (environmental views) further than I would," he said.

Political science and marketing sophomore Andy Post is the former treasurer of the University's chapter of College Republicans. Now, Post serves as executive director for the state organization for College Republicans.

Post said, as a Republican, he is not threatened by the smaller party's potential Twin Cities convention.

"We welcome anyone to have their convention here," he said. "(But) ours is going to be better."


Sunday, July 22, 2007


Breakthrough's much-talked about game has been the "item to watch" on and offline. This 3D downloadable game, teaches players about the unjust nature of U.S immigration policy.

ICED was just featured in the LA Times, ABC News and Fox News. ICED also was covered on popular blogs including, "Rethink Immigration." To get a full list of media, please look at the left-hand tool bar.

How do you play?

Game players have to live the day-to-day life of an immigrant teen. The teens are constantly being chased by immigration officers, while making moral/consequential decisions and answering myth & fact quizzes about current immigration policies.

If the player chooses or answers incorrectly, he/she increases his or her chances of being thrown into detention. Once in detention, the player endures both physical separation from his/her family and unjust conditions while awaiting, often for unknown amounts of time, the random outcome of his/her case.

The game is set to launch online in November 2007.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

rise in world oil use and a possible shortage of supplies are seen in the next 5 years

DISPLAYING ABSTRACT - International Energy Agency report predicts that world oil demand will rise faster than previously expected over next five years while production slips, threatening supply crisis; advises 26 industrial nations that global demand will rise by average 2.2 percent each year from 2007 to 2012, up from forecast in February of 2 percent annual growth from 2006 to 2011; says share of world oil consumption represented by developing world, including emerging industrial economies, will rise to 46 percent of global demand by 2012 from 42 percent

The world needs 3 million barrels per day more to offset falling production in the mature fields outside OPEC. Beyond 2010, OPEC's tight capacity will make available oil supplies expensive. Oil production may not peak - but it will no longer keep up in demand. Supply will be stagnant after 2012 until it begins to fall - meaning we are at the peak ( or plateau ) of oil production.

This is yet another reason nations and states should sign onto the Oil Depletion Protocol before they cannot afford to.

US exasperated by Ethiopian backsliding on democracy

July 18, 2007 (WASHINGTON) — Both the Bush administration and Congress are growing exasperated over Ethiopia’s backsliding from democracy but are wary of applying too much pressure against a country that has become an important anti-terror ally in East Africa.

Members of the Democratic-controlled Congress are under fewer restraints than President George W. Bush’s administration, which has relied on the help of Ethiopian troops in ousting Islamic militants from power in parts of neighboring Somalia.

In the House of Representatives, the Africa subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee is completing work Wednesday on legislation that decries Ethiopia’s recent human rights record and opens the door for sanctions. The subcommittee’s approval would be a first major step, but the bill still would have to be passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by Bush.

Democratic Rep. Donald Payne, the subcommittee’s chairman, told The Associated Press he has had no response to his bill from White House officials, but "I think they would prefer if we just left it alone."

"This is not a punitive bill," he said. Any sanctions would kick in only if Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government does not return to democracy and restore human rights protections.

On Monday, a court in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa sentenced 35 opposition politicians and activists to life in prison and eight others to lesser terms for inciting violence in an attempt to overthrow the government. Judges threw out charges of treason and attempted genocide and rejected the government’s recommendation for death sentences.

The Federal High Court trial began in December 2005 after the opposition organized protests following elections earlier that year that foreign observers said were badly flawed. The demonstrations were smashed by police, and scores were killed.

The defendants asked for pardons in a letter sent to Meles weeks before the sentences were announced. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Barry F. Lowenkron, assistant secretary of state for democracy and human rights, said Meles announced Monday that he would recommend clemency. The announcement apparently was not made publicly.

The Bush administration has made spreading democracy a cornerstone of its foreign policy. But the administration has had to violate the principle more than once: refusing to deal with objectionable elected governments, such as that headed by the militant Islamic group Hamas in the Palestinian territories. It also has dealt with clearly undemocratic governments such as those in some former Soviet republics in Central Asia.

In an indication that even the administration has determined not to pull all its punches in Ethiopia, Lowenkron’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee was relatively straightforward and at times harsh.

He spoke of the illegal detention of "opposition leaders and tens of thousands of their supporters" and said: "To this day the crackdown casts a shadow over the Ethiopian government."

Lowenkron said he had spent 85 minutes of a 90-minute conversation with Meles in March discussing the state of democracy in Ethiopia and Meles said he would make changes "because it’s in the interest of the people of Ethiopia."

"I told him it should be in the interest of all the people of Ethiopia, including those that are in prison and need to be let out," Lowenkron said.

Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold, who chaired the hearing, urged strong action to right the Ethiopian situation.

"We cannot tolerate a country like that moving in the wrong direction if they want to have the relationship with us that they want to have and that we want to have with them," Feingold said.


( The above is a photo of Oromo living in Minnesota marching for justice and peace for their people in Ethiopia. The US Government continues to support Ethiopia, who occupy Oromo and Somali lands. The American theory is that the "enemy of our enemy is our friend." This theory didn't work well with Iraq, who was our ally against Iran, as they murdered Kurds. )

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ethiopia needs to take seriously democracy and human rights

Editorial, The Wall Street Journal

July 17, 2007 — Let’s play name-that-state. After the EU declared its 2005 elections flawed, this country’s troops killed 193 protestors and arrested 20,000 more. Last week, 42 of the accused were convicted of inciting violence to overthrow the state (down from an original charge of genocide and treason). Thirty-five were condemned to life in prison and forbidden to vote on Monday. Some of the accused were journalists, so their publishing houses were fined and closed.

Did you guess Ethiopia? Probably not, since this African state has often been held up as a pillar of good governance on a troubled continent. In just over a decade, Ethiopia went from military rule to a parliamentary system. But this democracy is on paper only.

The convictions are not an isolated incident, nor are the 42 defendants just any opposition figures. They include the elected mayor of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, a former Harvard scholar and a former U.N. envoy. They’ve been condemned to the same fate, life in prison, as ousted military strongman Mengistu Hailee Mariam, who is held responsible for the murder of 150,000 academics and university students in two decades in power.

Given the government’s recent record, it’s odd to say the least to see Prime Minister Meles Zenawi advise Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa in 2005 on the future of the continent. Or to hear that the Bush Administration considers Mr. Meles a "staunch ally" in the war on terror for searching out al Qaeda suspects during Ethiopia’s messy military intervention in neighboring Somalia and makes the country a priority recipient of U.S. assistance. (The world last year sent $1.6 billion.)

America needs to work with all kinds of regimes and military cooperation doesn’t always have to be tied to democratic progress. But if Ethiopia wants to become a real ally of the U.S., possibly playing host to the new African Command, it needs to take seriously democracy and human rights.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ethiopia slaps life sentences on more than 30 opposition figures

KALITI, Ethiopia (AFP) - Ethiopia's high court on Monday sentenced 35 opposition leaders to life imprisonment for inciting rebellion, after the prosecution had asked for the death penalty. if
Those sentenced in the wake of violence that rocked the capital during 2005 elections included Hailu Shawl and Bernahu Nega, two senior leaders of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) party.

Five of the life sentences handed down by the court sitting in Kaliti, some 25 kilometres (16 miles) from the capital Addis Ababa, were given in absentia.

Eight of the 38 defendants present received prison terms ranging from 18 months to 18 years from judge Adil Ahmed.

"Even though some of the accused have been found guilty of multiple charges the court has deemed life imprisonment as a sufficient and comprehensive verdict for the action taken," Adil said.

All the defendants can appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court and as a last resort ask for presidential pardon.

The London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International protested the sentences and called for the defendants' release.

"On the basis of the information we have, most -- if not all -- of those sentenced today are prisoners of conscience imprisoned on account of their opinions, who have not used or advocated violence and should therefore be immediately and unconditionally released," Erwin van der Borght, Director of Amnesty's Africa Programme, said in a statement.

Prosecutors last week had requested the death penalty for 38 of the defendants, who were among scores put on trial on charges of inciting the violence following the disputed polls which the ruling party won but the opposition claims were rigged.

"According to the country's penal code maximum punishment should be dealt to parties found guilty of plotting against the constitution," chief prosecutor Abraha Tetemke had said on July 9.

News that prosecutors had requested the death penalty earned the US-backed regime of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi a warning from Washington.

"We call on the Ethiopian government and High Court to take action in making a final sentencing determination which is consistent with the greater objectives of bolstering the rule of law and promoting much-needed reconciliation," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack had said.

The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) had also expressed great concern last week and described the prosecutors' requested sentence as "outrageous"

"By demanding the death penalty for members of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, the prosecutor has confirmed to the international community that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's government is trying to stifle all political opposition," RSF said in a statement last week.

Four journalists were among the defendants. One was sentenced to life in prison, while the other three received sentences of 18 years, three years and 18 months respectively.

The verdict "didn't come as a surprise, we all expected it," said a relative of one of the main defendants speaking on condition of anonymity. "There is absolutely nothing to regret in their actions".

Earlier this year, the Ethiopian parliament approved a report which said 193 civilians and six policemen died during the unrest in 2005 in one of the darkest chapters in the country's recent past.

The violence in Addis Ababa and other cities in June and November 2005 "occurred due to infancy of the democratic system of the country", the report said.

The figures compiled by the inquiry were three times higher than the government's official death toll of 54, prompting protests from Western donors.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Study: Organic Farming Can Feed the World

Organic farming can yield up to three times as much food as conventional
farming in developing countries, and holds its own against standard methods
in rich countries, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

They said their findings contradict arguments that organic farming -- which
excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides -- is not as
efficient as conventional techniques.

"My hope is that we can finally put a nail in the coffin of the idea that
you can't produce enough food through organic agriculture," Ivette
Perfecto, a professor at the University of Michigan's school of Natural
Resources and Environment, said in a statement.

She and colleagues analyzed published studies on yields from organic
farming. They looked at 293 different examples.

"Model estimates indicate that organic methods could produce enough food on
a global per capita basis to sustain the current human population, and
potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural
land base," they wrote in their report, published in the journal Renewable
Agriculture and Food Systems.

"We were struck by how much food the organic farmers would produce,"
Perfecto said.

"Corporate interest in agriculture and the way agriculture research has
been conducted in land grant institutions, with a lot of influence by the
chemical companies and pesticide companies as well as fertilizer companies,
all have been playing an important role in convincing the public that you
need to have these inputs to produce food," she added.

(read the full study published in Cambridge University Jou...)
Research Article
Organic agriculture and the global food supply
Catherine Badgleya1, Jeremy Moghtadera2a3, Eileen Quinteroa2, Emily
Zakema4, M. Jahi Chappella5, Katia Avilés-Vázqueza2, Andrea Samulona2 and
Ivette Perfectoa2 c1
a1 Museum of Palaeontology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
a2 School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann
Arbor, MI 48109 USA.
a3 Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
48824, USA.
a4 School of Art and Design, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
a5 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


The principal objections to the proposition that organic agriculture can
contribute significantly to the global food supply are low yields and
insufficient quantities of organically acceptable fertilizers. We evaluated
the universality of both claims. For the first claim, we compared yields of
organic versus conventional or low-intensive food production for a global
dataset of 293 examples and estimated the average yield ratio
(organic:non-organic) of different food categories for the developed and
the developing world. For most food categories, the average yield ratio was
slightly <1.0>1.0 for studies in
the developing world. With the average yield ratios, we modeled the global
food supply that could be grown organically on the current agricultural
land base. Model estimates indicate that organic methods could produce
enough food on a global per capita basis to sustain the current human
population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing
the agricultural land base. We also evaluated the amount of nitrogen
potentially available from fixation by leguminous cover crops used as
fertilizer. Data from temperate and tropical agroecosystems suggest that
leguminous cover crops could fix enough nitrogen to replace the amount of
synthetic fertilizer currently in use. These results indicate that organic
agriculture has the potential to contribute quite substantially to the
global food supply, while reducing the detrimental environmental impacts of
conventional agriculture. Evaluation and review of this paper have raised
important issues about crop rotations under organic versus conventional
agriculture and the reliability of grey-literature sources. An ongoing
dialogue on these subjects can be found in the Forum editorial of this issue.


Corresponding author:


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Open Letter from Green Party to Michael Moore on

Green Party to Michael Moore, as 'Sicko' opens nationwide:

Democrats are a lost cause on health care, while the Green Party's candidates and platform demand a single-payer national health plan

Americans will only get a true universal health plan (Single-Payer / Medicare For All) when Greens are elected

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Green Party of the United States sent an open letter to Michael Moore, whose movie 'Sicko' opened in theaters last week, urging him to join the efforts of the Green Party and its candidates and officeholders to enact a single-payer national health plan (also called Medicare For All).

The Green Party agrees with Michael Moore's premise that the US's private insurance system must be dismantled, and that the country must convert to a single-payer plan similar to the Canadian system.

Greens warned Mr. Moore that the Democratic Party (like the Republican Party) is too awash in corporate money to end the stranglehold of the private HMO-insurance industry and enact genuine coverage for all Americans. Congress will only seriously consider a single-payer plan when Greens begin to win seats in the US House and Senate.

The Green Party letter encourages Mr. Moore to help Greens get elected to Congress, as well as state legislatures and city councils, and predicts that the Green Party's 2008 nominee and national slate will be the only candidates on most ballots who support single-payer.

The text of the letter follows below.

Dear Mike,

Congratulations on the opening of 'Sicko' and all the glowing reviews!

We in the Green Party hope that millions of Americans will see 'Sicko' and understand that America has a choice: we can either have quality health care guaranteed for everyone, or we can maintain a system based on corporate insurance and HMO coverage. We can't have both. And we hope that the American people will realize that it's time to demand a single-payer national health plan and stop privileging corporate profits over the health -- the very lives -- of the American people.

Here's the problem: we're not going to get a national health plan as long as the political landscape remains limited to two parties addicted to corporate contributions. Republican and Democratic politicians alike refuse to consider any plan that doesn't leave private HMOs and insurance corporations in charge.

There are some exceptions among Dems, like Reps. John Conyers (Mich.) and Dennis Kucinich (Oh.), but Rep. Conyers' single-payer bill has as little chance of passage as Rep. Kucinich has of getting nominated. Once upon a time, the Democratic Party supported national health coverage and even endorsed it in the Democratic national platform in 1948. But they deleted it from the platform in the 1990s to make room for President Clinton's 'managed-care' phony reform scheme, which would have enlarged the power of major insurance firms. In the 2000 and 2004 elections, Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry both rejected national health insurance. (Mr. Gore saw the light and endorsed it a couple of years later.)

There's only one prominent national party that supports single-payer/Medicare For All -- the Green Party. The Green Party and its candidates have demanded single-payer ever since we were founded, and we don't accept corporate contributions from HMOs, insurance firms, pharmaceutical manufacturers, or any other corporate lobby.

Let's be honest, Mike. The USA will never have a national health insurance program until we break the two-party stranglehold and see the emergence of a new party that's free of corporate influence.

If we can get a few Greens into Congress, as well as into state legislatures and city halls all across America, and if our presidential candidates can draw significant percentages on Election Day, it'll change the political landscape. When Democratic politicians have to compete with Greens as well as Republicans, more of them will embrace single-payer. (And some maverick Republicans will support it, too!)

When the 2004 election season began, you and Bill Maher got down on your knees in front of 2000 Green presidential candidate Ralph Nader and begged him not to run again in 2004. You and Bill insisted that 2004 wasn't the time for a third-party challenge, and that the priority of every rational American should be the removal of George W. Bush from the White House.

Millions of Americans who support a national health plan -- as well as an end to the Iraq War -- agreed with you and Bill and voted for John Kerry, a candidate awash in corporate money. Mr. Kerry dismissed national health care and declared himself solidly in support of the Iraq War.

What was the outcome? John Kerry and his fellow Dems (again, with a couple of exceptions like Rep. Conyers) sat on their thumbs when reports of Election Day irregularities surfaced in Ohio and other states. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of African American and student votes were obstructed or not counted. Mr. Bush's election in 2004 was as illegitimate as his 2000 victory!

Mike, I'm sure you remember that it was two third-party presidential candidates -- the Green Party's David Cobb and Libertarian Michael Badnarik -- who demanded an investigation and led the Ohio recount. It was Greens who raised the money for legal expenses in the Ohio and New Mexico recounts. While John Kerry and his buddies kept mum (maybe they feared that the Democrats' own election shenanigans would be exposed), Greens fought for fair and accurate elections and the right to vote.

A few months later, the Conyers hearings proved that the Green Party was right. Republicans in Ohio not only rigged the election, they also tried to influence the recount. In January, 2007, two Republican election operatives were convicted in Cuyahoga County for their role in fixing the recount.

Here's the kicker, Mike. When Republicans in Florida failed to hand in petitions for George W. Bush before the deadline for the 2004 election, Democrats gave them a pass and placed Mr. Bush on the ballot anyway!

Imagine the movie you could make about how Republicans and Democrats have shredded our election system!

We can only conclude that the Democratic Party would rather lose elections to the GOP than tolerate third parties and independents -- with a special hostility towards anyone whose campaign brings a noncorporate antiwar message to the American people.

That's why we can't get a national health program. The Democratic and Republican leadership doesn't even want Americans to discuss the single-payer option, although they'll have a hard time censoring the debate now that 'Sicko' is in theaters.

We know that the private insurance industry, mainstream Democratic and Republican politicians, and the corporate media are already trying to undermine the message of 'Sicko.' They're calling national health care 'liberal elitism' and 'creeping socialism' and other names. As FAIR reported on June 25, CBS's Jeff Greenfield ignored polls in a June 22 story on 'Sicko' with an erroneous claim that national health coverage has minimal popular support.

We know that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and most of the other Democratic presidential hopefuls are offering corporate-friendly health care reform plans. We can predict that they'll claim their plans will solve the crisis depicted in 'Sicko,' just as the Clinton Administration dishonestly called its managed-care proposal 'universal health care' back in 1993.

On June 26, 2007 six Democratic US Senators spoke at an SEIU-sponsored 'universal health care' rally on Capitol Hill in which single-payer and Medicare For All were never mentioned. When Dems say 'universal health care,' they really mean "For God's sake, anything but single-payer!"

The Green Party will be the ONLY PARTY in 2008 that demands single-payer. The Green nominee will be the ONLY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE who talks about single-payer.

We'll be the only party supporting what Michael Moore supports!

The argument that our first priority must be the defeat of the GOP no longer holds water. Regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans get into public office, the real winners are powerful corporate lobbies: insurance, HMO, pharmaceutical, oil, defense, credit card, real estate, you name it. And if the Republicans manipulate the vote again and engineer their own victory, blocking African Americans, young voters, poor voters, and voters serving overseas in the US Armed Forces, we can be sure that the Democratic leadership will again roll over, scratch their butts, and say "Let's not be divisive! It's time to move on!"

'Sicko' will not change the Democratic Party agenda. MoveOn, Progressive Democrats for America, and terrific pro-single-payer candidates like Dennis Kucinich will not influence the Democratic platform in 2008.

It's a safe bet that MoveOn & Co. will place party loyalty ahead of their own stated ideals and endorse whichever corporate candidate gets the 2008 Democratic nomination. These Pied Piper Progressives will lure voters who want single-payer, voters who want US troops out of Iraq, voters who want a White House and Congress free of insurance, oil, and defense industry influence into voting for a Democrat who flushes their agenda down the drain.

As David Cobb observed during his 2004 Green presidential campaign, the Democratic Party is the "graveyard of progressive politics." It's the graveyard of national health care.

The Green Party is growing. We've continued to face down antidemocratic challenges from the old parties. In 2006, Green candidate Rich Whitney drew 11% in the race for Governor of Illinois and achieved ballot status in his state for the Green Party, after Gov. Rod Blagojevich spent $800,000 in taxpayers' money trying to keep Greens off the ballot. Nationally, we won more votes than ever before in the 2006 election. But we have a long way to go.

Hey, Mike, do you really want to see a national health plan enacted? Do you really want the message of 'Sicko' to be part of the public debate over health care in the 2008 election and beyond?

Then let's stop wasting time. Help us run a Green candidate for president in 2008. Help us get Greens elected to Congress. Help us place Greens in statehouses and county commissions and city halls and school boards. (Yes, we know you have supported Green candidates in the past!) Help us get ballot access in every state. Help us bring the Green message to the American people. Help us make the Greens a major political US party. Help us spark the kind of revolution in US politics that will make a single-payer national health plan a reality!

Yours truly,
The Green Party of the United States

Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624,
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805,
Locations of visitors to this page