Expand Education Access to Undocumented Students

Bumped - Todd

From Brave New Foundation, cross-posted from Alternet.

This year, the presidential election will not hinge on the emotionally divisive issue of immigration.

That's good news for everyone who believes that a moral society takes care of its most vulnerable members, forcing no one into the shadows. If the nativist wing of the Republican Party had seen its electoral goals realized, we would have witnessed a Republican primary dominated by a tragic debate about how best to expel the 12 million undocumented immigrants living in America, whether by deporting as many as possible, or by making legal conditions so inhospitable that they leave of their own volition. That debate would have trickled out into the general election, with Republican strategists trying to 'wedge' independent and Democratic-leaning voters with toxic appeals to national chauvinism and racial prejudice masquerading as distinctions of legitimate policy differences. Like the debate over what kinds of prisoner interrogation techniques legally constitute torture, these are the kinds of public discussions we engage in at the cost of our collective soul.

There's more...

"I love Wal-Mart!": Whole Foods union-busting online

John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, has seen a lot of bad press this week.  Since the Federal Trade Commission unearthed his spectacularly stupid internet hobby, his company's attempt to purchase its infant competitor, Wild Oats, has rapidly unfurled.   In a footnote to a 45-page document filed as part of its lawsuit to block the merger, the FTC noted that under the handle "Rahodeb," Mackey shamelessly promoted his company for eight years on Yahoo stock message boards, and trashed the company it sought to acquire.  A lot has been written about the CEO's compulsive efforts to undermine the stock value of the OATS ticker code on Yahoo.  Less has been written about Rahodeb's running commentaries on unions and the prospects of unionization at his alter ego's stores.

Mackey's cynical "post-industrial," libertarian politics is not news.  In fact, he regularly articulates his Friedman/Hayek/Rand-inspired philosophy on his blog in riffs like this:

....Usually people who define themselves as "leftists" are opposed to capitalism, economic freedom, and believe that the coercive power of government should be used to create more equality and social justice in society. Usually people on the left have sympathy for democratic socialism. When I was in my very early 20's I believed that democratic socialism was a more "just" economic system than democratic capitalism was. However, soon after I opened my first small natural food store back in 1978 with my girlfriend when I was 25, my political opinions began to shift.....Nobody was very happy and Renee and I were now seen as capitalistic exploiters by friends on the left who believed we were overcharging our customers and exploiting our workers -- all because we were apparently selfish and greedy....the economic system of democratic socialism was no longer intellectually satisfying to me and I began to look around for more robust theories which would better explain business, economics, and society. Somehow or another I stumbled on to the works of Mises, Hayek, and Friedman, and had a complete revolution in my world view. The more I read, studied, and thought about economics and capitalism, the more I came to realize that capitalism had been misunderstood and unfairly attacked by the left. In fact, democratic capitalism remains by far the best way to organize society to create prosperity, growth, freedom, self-actualization, and even equality.

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The Crisis of Market-based Healthcare

...and what frontline caregivers are doing about it.

(X-posted on dkos.)

Last week, the New York Times reported that the IRS recently kicked off a wide-ranging investigation into the business practices of not-for-profit hospitals all over the country. Under the pressures of increased competition and market consolidation in healthcare, over the last couple of decades not-for-profit hospitals have been acting more and more like any other business, cutting overhead, building economies of scale, increasing market share, etc. The question at the heart of the IRS investigation is whether there's really much of a difference anymore between the way in which the 84% of tax-exempt acute care hospitals in the U.S. administer patient care and the way that the other 16% of investor-owned hospitals do. As Republican Senator Charles Grassly notes in the article, as it now stands, "too many do little to nothing. Too often, it seems that tax-exempt hospitals offer less charitable care and community benefit than for-profit hospitals." If the IRS concludes that there isn't much of a difference, and that non-profit hospitals are acting just like their for-profit counterparts in their provision of patient care, then the case will exist for lawmakers to bolster standards and force non-profit hospitals to earn their tax exemptions by providing more charity care.

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The Immigration Wedge

For a while there back in the 1980s and '90s, political semantics started to get pretty confusing, what with the simultaneous ascendancy of "neoconservativism" and "neoliberalism," each of which ideology, head-spinningly, tended to cluster in the same political party and, often, in the same political person.  The Reagan Administration championed both ideologies, even while much of the Republican Party's withering traditional "paleoconservative" base recoiled against the "neo" part of the infant conservative intelligentsia that was busily taking the reins of the party and charting the path to world domination.  George H.W. Bush embraced neoliberalism (as in NAFTA), while rejecting neoconservatism (as demonstrated in his Persian Gulf War I multilateralism).  Bill Clinton, a neoliberal par excellence (as in NAFTA, the WTO and Welfare "Reform"), was anything but a neoconservative.  Pat Buchanan, consummately anti-everything, was neither, Bill Kristol was both, George W. Bush as Governor of Texas was neolib but not neocon, George W. as Republican Presidential nominee was both neolib and neocon, as first term President just neocon and not quite neolib (steel tariffs), and now, in his second term, if you listen to his neoconservative right-wing detractors, may be neither.  Consider also neoliberalism's pedigree of traditional conservative philosophers and neoconservatism's origins in Trotskyist Revolutionary Socialism, and what you're looking at is pretty much a total political and taxonomical clusterfuck.

Thankfully, the immigration debate is starting to separate out the wheat from the chaff, at least within the Republican Party, and not just because it's pitting business conservatives against nationalist conservatives.  It's also throwing into sharp relief the profoundly conflicting worldviews that characterize the modern Republican coalition.  If ever there were a conservative "wedge issue," this is it.

If John Locke, founding father of liberalism, were to witness the hysteria of so many Orange County Minuteman sympathizers, he'd have a very hard time understanding how his ideological inheritors ended up in bed with this set.  Man naturally toils, Locke believed, and naturally exchanges the fruit of his toil.  From this natural social enterprise emerges the market, the only inevitable and spontaneous product of human culture there is.  Following the emergence of the market, in the effort to keep it running smoothly, the inescapable necessity of then enforcing property rights against crime, freeloading and other manifestations of the weaknesses of human nature gave rise to the construction of the state, which is secondary and quite artificial in comparison to the market.  This philosophical conviction describes the thinking behind neoliberalism as much as that of its 17th century progenitor.

It does not even remotely describe the thinking of anti-immigrant border protection advocates, however.  In the world of the Minutemen and their supporters, it's the nation-state that comes first.  And if necessary, it comes at the expense of the market.  We have a country whose political integrity requires vigilant protection, their thinking goes, and if economic exchange pathways (like labor and job markets, for instance) start to jeopardize that integrity, then they must be strictly regulated - and not just through tax incentives, but if necessary through military and police intervention and physical deportation of workers without documentation.

To a classical liberal as to a neoliberal, for whom the jurisdiction of the state is a function of the reach of the market and not vice-versa, such thinking is heresy.  The purpose of government, the classical liberal believes, is to protect life and property from theft and violence and to adjudicate the inevitable disputes that arise from trade relations, and to otherwise stay well out of the way of the functioning of natural human "society," which is to say, the market.  Neoliberal rag sheets like The Economist have resuscitated that philosophy and repeat it ad nauseum.  To a liberal or a neoliberal doctrinaire, the idea of the government physically controlling market forces by restricting the mobility of labor and criminalizing the hiring of the cheapest labor available should smack of Socialism every bit as much as taxing capital gains and erecting tariff barriers does.

Hence the quandary borne of the syncretic ideology of the modern Republican Party.  Everybody agrees that the main impetus to illegal immigration on our Southern border is the fact that the supply and demand continuum of a unified labor market happens to overlie a major political boundary line.  The debate hinges on which to regard as the more fundamental of two borders: the clear and tangible political one that the Minutemen patrol in their jacked-up SUVs or the fuzzy economic one that gets fuzzier by the day.  Where neoliberals look around the world and see only markets, neoconservatives, whose movement was born in the great nationalist clashes of the Cold War, look around the world and see nation-states with political borders.  Accordingly, the talking heads on Fox News, who have always been more sympathetic to the neocons than to the neolibs, have taken the predictable position of hysteria over the vulnerability of American borders.  The free market champions of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, meanwhile, have taken just the opposite tack.

That said, the neoconservatives have so far been quite divided on the immigration question.  Bill Kristol refuses to see the pursuit of a better life as a crime, whereas David Horowitz sides with the anti-immigrant organization, FAIR.  The ranks, then, have broken, but not as cleanly as one might expect - they never do in politics.  But the fact of the break demonstrates that the Republican Party has always found its coherence in party discipline much more than in ideological solidarity.  Now it has neither.

There's more...

Live from Oregon: The Bus Project Reboots Democracy

Posted by me, but authored by Elizabeth Leventhal, Volunteer & Monthly Member of the Bus Project. Cross-posted over at Blue Oregon, where you can find more blogging about Oregon progressive politics. -Leighton

Let the Rebooting Begin

-Elizabeth Leventhal

The Bus Project's Rebooting Democracy conference got off to a fiery start this weekend in Welches, OR, on the Western slope of Mt. Hood.

For those who have never heard of the Bus before, our mission is threefold: driving ideas, driving leaders, and driving votes. We engage a new generation in politics, educate them on the issues of the day, and elect a new cadre of progressive legislators.

The engagement part of the weekend got off to an early start Friday morning with a service project re-glazing the windows of the Zig Zag Ranger District building.  The education component was awakened by several cozy and informative Leadership Luncheons around town, while the election aspect got into full swing at the Balloting Caucus Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

Unlike other political conferences, where speakers come to tout their wares  (ie, upcoming re-election campaigns or favorite pet projects), the speakers here came to fire up the crowd about democracy, the kind practiced by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, and FDR.

In fact, the weekend gathering opened with speeches by State Senators from competing parties explaining the history of Oregon's Ballot Initiative System and the virtues of the Direct Democracy it allows the citizens of this state to practice.  

I first learned about OR's unique political history while a 3rd year law student at Willamette University, in a Law & Democracy class taught by retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Hans Linde. It was in this course in which I initially came upon the  ideas and utopian dreams of William S. U'ren, the father of Oregon's citizen initiative process

However, it was not until three years later, at the first Engage Oregon conference in Hood River, that I saw U'ren's thoughts put into action via vigorous debate and several robust rounds of  `sticker' voting. Back then, I walked away with a new appreciation for the job state legislatures do on a daily basis. Deciding what's best for a state of 2 million people is hardly an easy task, especially when forced to choose among several different worthy options.

This weekend, I walked away with a different appreciation, one for the commitment and courage shown by people like Senator Westlund and Bus Project Chair Jefferson Smith - the commitment to fight for the public good, no matter how daunting or difficult a task, and the courage to rise above partisan politics.

As our first evening speaker, David Sirota, reminded us, partisanship has cut a hole in our democracy - a hole big enough to drive a Bus through. But instead of taking advantage of the partisan climate in Salem, the Bus Project has chosen to rise above and beyond it, bringing folks from various parts of the state together, to discuss and vote on 11 progressive ballot measures, from renewable energy,  school funding, and health care to worker paycheck protection and campaign finance reform.

It looks like this weekend's gathering would indeed make Mr. U'ren proud of the legacy he left behind and the hope it holds for a better Oregon.

Consider the re-booting of democracy officially underway.

Oh, and don't forget: Get on the Bus.

YDA National Elections: Gallaway Wins

From the diaries--Chris

Yesterday, the Young Democrats National Convention selected its leadership team for the next two years, and the incumbent, Chris Gallaway, prevailed, along with his entire slate save for Secretary.

This was my first time ever attending a national meeting of the YDA, and it was probably among the most riveting floor votes in the organization's history. The contest for president was between Gallaway and the former president of the California Young Dems, a young Filipino from L.A. named Alex De Ocampo. At least at the top of their tickets, both sides seem to regard themselves as the champions of reform in the YDA, and to regard their respective opponents as the "business as usual" crowd. For those of us who believe that reform is critical at this particular historical moment - not just in the YDA but also in the Democratic Party at large - choosing between two factions competing over the reform message is a pretty healthy predicament. Now it's the burden of the victor to demonstrate that his message has real force of will behind it.

There's more...

The 2005 YDA Platform draft

From the diaries, Jerome

It's 2am now and I just got home from today's session of the Young Democrats 2005 National Convention. Our Platform Committee session let out at 1am (the hotel's about a ten minute drive from the house, but it takes 40 minutes or so to find parking in San Francisco). Believe it or not, we finished in record time.

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Friday at the YDA

From the diaries--Chris

My apologies for letting the last couple of days lapse without a dispatch from the YDA 2005 National Convention, but things have been pretty manic and last night sleep was more important than anything else.

Yesterday, the Platform Committee split up into subcommittees to draft specific plank language. My group met over lunch in Chinatown to discuss economic policy, which specifically meant labor, trade, immigration, Social Security and Federal budget policy. I'm an alternate delegate from California; the other members of my subcommittee were a staff member from the Oklahoma House PAC, a candidate for the state legislature of Michigan and a stockbroker from New York City.

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Blogging the YDA

From the diaries, if belatedly. Hopefully we will be hearing more from Woodhouse soon--Chris

It would be interesting to learn how many visitors to this site know that the Young Democrats of America is having its national convention in San Francisco this week. It would be even more interesting to learn how many give a shit. I've attached a poll to this diary to get an amusing, if totally unscientific, reading on those numbers.

Now let me tell you why I'm in the camp of readers that does give a shit that the YDA is meeting here in San Francisco this week, and what I'm planning to do about it.

There's more...

Reforming the Young Democrats: The Kickoff

Bumped by Matt, because he's young, and a Democrat.

There comes a time when the evidence of your self-destructive habits becomes so incontrovertible that it is harder to maintain the illusion that everything is under control than it is to face the hard, inflexible truth, which is that your habits are killing you. It's called hitting rock bottom, and it's what happened to a lot of Democrats on November 2nd, 2004.

The good news is that hitting rock bottom is the first step to recovery. The second step is doing something about it.

Here in the Bay Area, we're awaiting the national convention of the Young Democrats of America, which takes place in San Francisco this August. San Francisco is a good choice for this year's convention: it's chock full of progressive organizers, the kind that can help turn the Young Dems into a real progressive force within the party. After the year we've been through - after the last four years we've been through - we can't afford to let Democratic conventions look like they have in the past, in the sanguine days before the wakeup call on November 2nd. Here in the Bay Area, we're forming a new caucus within the YDA - one part insider, two parts outsider - to make sure that this year, the theme of the convention is reform.

There's more...


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