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MLK (1967) to Biden (2021).

Posted on | January 21, 2021 | No Comments

(a caution) “We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood — it ebbs.”

(a challenge) “This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message — of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost?”

(and a choice) “The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history…If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” 

Latest State COVID Cases/Deaths/Vaccine Rates

Posted on | January 21, 2021 | No Comments

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Data Source: Washington Post, 1/20/21

What MLK Said To President Biden on April 4, 1967.

Posted on | January 19, 2021 | 2 Comments

Mike Magee

Yesterday (in honor of Martin Luther King Day), and today (in prepartion for the Inauguration of our new President), I listened and re-listened to Dr. King’s famous Vietnam Speech at the Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967.

I remembered this speech as a turning point in my sophomore year in a Jesuit College committed to social justice – the realization that justice travels down more than one path at a time – and that truth often hurts before it has a chance to help.

In the speech, King explains the origins of that evening in response to an earlier declaration by the leadership at Riverside Church. As he states, “I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: ‘A time comes when silence is betrayal.’…the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak.”

A little further on, he acknowledges his own followers discomfort with his outspoken position on Vietnam, with these words: “‘Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent?’ ‘Peace and civil rights don’t mix,’ they say. ‘Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people?’ they ask. And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment, or my calling.”

By mid-speech, Dr. King reveals himself – to the audience that evening, but also to all of us now – having lived through January 6th and on the eve of President Biden’s inauguration. He says:

“In 1957, when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: ‘To save the soul of America.’ We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself until the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes, I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath —
America will be!”

Near the end of his 1 hour oration, interrupted again and again by sustained applause, Dr. King asserts, “There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood… a genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional…a fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind.” 

And near the very end, he sees clear eyed to 2021, “speaking” to President Biden himself:

(a caution) “We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood — it ebbs.”

(a challenge) “This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message — of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost?”

(and a choice) “The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history…If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” 

Latest State Covid Case/Deaths/Vaccine Rates

Posted on | January 13, 2021 | No Comments

Data Source: Washington Post 11/13/21

The Pathway Back.

Posted on | January 12, 2021 | No Comments

Marc Porter Magee, CEO, 50-CAN

Mike Magee

“We’re better than this” is the common refrain heard from many political leaders following the deadly assault on our democracy on January 6th. We here empty appeals for blind appeasement from the likes of Kevin McCarthy in the interest of “bringing our country together.” But for those who study history, pursuing this course takes our nation in exactly the wrong direction.

Rather, the model we must follow is the model of Germany in 1945, or South Africa in 1995. In both cases, strict legal and public accountability were married with fundamental expansion of universal social services to rebuild confidence and trust in their government’s ability to assure safety and security, and an equal playing field for all of their citizens.

Trump’s crimes have already helped carry our nation in the right direction in two ways: 

1) They have revealed in word and image leaders and followers who actively engaged in insurrection. They must now be publicaly identified, charged, and feel the full weight of our law.

2) In counter-balance, these crimes have placed a spotlight on positive leaders and hopeful voices, ready to actively contribute to real healing and progress.

One such voice is my son, Marc Porter Magee, the CEO of the national educational advocacy non-profit 50-CAN. As their website says:

“To us, reimagining American K–12 education is more than a just cause, it’s the most important work we can do as a democracy. Equipped with nonpartisan research and proven tools, 50CAN citizen-advocates drive the creation of stronger, more equitable schools in every state and community in our network.”

Since the pandemic struck our schools, and entangled students and teachers alike, they have produced a weekly round-up of news and activities focused on solutions within the educational advocacy space, accompanied by Marc’s editorial. Here is his message this week:

“When we have written about our ‘new reality’ in this roundup the past 44 weeks, we have used that phrase to refer to a pandemic that has created an emergency situation for America’s school children.

“The insurrection that threatened the peaceful transfer of power in our nation’s capital last week is another kind of ‘new reality’–one that strikes at the heart of American democracy.

“The proximate causes are the actions of President Trump, who on the morning of January 6 directed the angry mob of supporters he had invited to Washington DC to march on to the Capitol, where a joint session of Congress was set to certify his loss. ‘You’ll never take back our country with weakness,’ he implored. ‘You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.’ A few hours later five people were dead, including 42-year-old police officer Brian Sicknick, who was bludgeoned to death by insurrectionists with a fire extinguisher. The hearings were cut short as our elected representatives fled for their lives and the Capitol building lay in shambles, the result of the first mass breach of its walls by enemies of our government since the War of 1812.

“As we wrote in the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville in July 2017, ‘When you choose to march with Nazis you are rejecting our country’s founding belief that all people are created equal and dishonoring the basic convictions of the American political system. Because our common humanity binds us together, we also know that there aren’t two sides to this debate; only right and wrong.’

“By inciting violence to disrupt the transfer of power, Trump proved beyond any reasonable doubt he is unfit for his office. The correct response now is that he be impeached, removed and barred from ever holding elected office again.

“Whether the President is removed by Congress next week or simply leaves the nation’s capital when his term expires, we know that the threat to American democracy runs deeper than the flaws of one man. The collapse of trust in our country, the drumbeat of disinformation, the racism that twists institutions into instruments of oppression, ever-deepening political polarization and the increasing normalization of violence as a means of change have collectively brought us to the brink of disaster.

“There are no easy answers on our path out of the problems we face, yet we continue to believe that local advocacy–grounded in hope, committed to building bridges across divides, focused on delivering real change for communities in need–can make a difference. This, and the belief that Americans can and will overcome the forces of evil that attacked our democracy last week, are what inspire us to work at 50CAN.

From civics to history to the critical thinking needed to separate fact from fiction, events like these are a reminder of how crucial it is for our children to receive an education that fully prepares them to uphold the great American experiment.

“That work continues in neighborhoods and statehouses across our network this week and the weeks to come in this new year.”

As Germany and South Africa learned, the pathway back to equality and humanity is a long one…but Trump, with criminal intent, has marked a beginning. Now we must, as a nation, see it to a successful end.

25th Amendment Was Openly Discussed Over Three Years Ago.

Posted on | January 7, 2021 | 3 Comments

Mike Magee

Three years ago, I taught a fully subscribed course at the Presidents College at the University of Hartford on the 25th Amendment. My exploration that year was triggered by a series of articles initiated by New York Times conservative columnist, Ross Douthat.

On May 16, 2017 he wrote “The 25th Amendment Solution for Removing Trump.” I will not summarize the entire course here but would like to accomplish three things:

  1. Reinforce the fact that the American public was adequately warned (3 1/2 years ago) of the risk that reached full fruition yesterday – but choose not to act.
  2. Douthat’s piece triggered a journalistic debate which I summarize below with four slides drawn from my lectures.
  3. Were Pence and the cabinet to activate the 25th Amendment, as it is written, Trump would have the right to appeal “his inability”, forcing the Congress to decide whether there was cause to remove the President. With 13 days in his term remaining, procedural timing may preclude the use of this instrument.

Here are the slides:

In 2017, Scott Bomboy, chief of the National Constitution Center, wrote:

“Section 4 is the most controversial part of the 25th Amendment: It allows the Vice President and either the Cabinet, or a body approved ‘by law’ formed by Congress, to jointly agree that ‘the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’ This clause was designed to deal with a situation where an incapacitated President couldn’t tell Congress that the Vice President needed to act as President.”

“It also allows the President to protest such a decision, and for two-thirds of Congress to decide in the end if the President is unable to serve due to a condition perceived by the Vice President, and either the Cabinet or a body approved by Congress. So the Cabinet, on its own, can’t block a President from using his or her powers if the President objects in writing. Congress would settle that dispute and the Vice President is the key actor in the process.”

“On our Interactive Constitution website, scholars Brian C. Kalt and David Pozen explain the problematic process if the Vice President and the Cabinet agree the President can’t serve.”

  1. “If this group declares a President ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,’ the Vice President immediately becomes Acting President.
  2. If and when the President pronounces himself able, the deciding group has four days to disagree.
  3. If it does not, the President retakes his powers.
  4. But if it does, the Vice President keeps control while Congress quickly meets and makes a decision…
  5. The Vice President continues acting as President only if two-thirds majorities of both chambers agree that the President is unable to serve.”

There Is No Safe Haven for Patients in the Privatized U.S. Health Care System.

Posted on | January 6, 2021 | 1 Comment

Mike Magee

TIME correspondent Karl Vick, in an article titled “What Happens When Amazon Takes on Health Care”, in February, 2018, wrote:  “The U.S. health care system is the antithesis of Silicon Valley.” But is it really? 

Vick was referring then to the formation of a new, as yet unnamed non-profit joint venture between Jeff Bezos (Amazon). Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway), and Jamie Dimon (JP Morgan Chase) The triad was joining ranks, they said, to finally bring efficiency and quality to American health care. It would be another nine months before they could settle on a name for the venture – Haven (as in safe haven for their 1.3 million combined employees).

The very public collapse of Haven this week left it unclear whether they were public-spirited crusaders or simply predatory investors in one of the most profitable segments of our national economy.

Analysts have wasted no time piling on. As one said, “Haven had a rocky three years, running up against vague marching orders, a lack of direction, and obstacles inherent to the healthcare landscape.” Another analyst added,  this “is a reminder that the U.S. healthcare sector is incredibly resistant to makeovers…” 

Insiders pointed to an absence of organizational cohesiveness. All three partners were also pursuing independent ventures in the health care space, and were continually running into proprietary roadblocks.

Amazon, in particular, had its own agenda. Their wearable health tracker, Amazon Halo, augmented by Alexa features, was now joined by virtual and in-person Amazon Care clinics for its own employees. Those employees have access to premium priced prescription drugs after the company purchased PillPack for $753 million in June, 2018.

Other analysts noted a lack of momentum. The first market forays – like their new no-deductible insurance policy – was slow to come and not overwhelmingly embraced by the 30,000 JP Morgan employees. There were also rumors that Amazon in particular was about to pull its financial support.

And yet, it is useful to ask why none of the Triad seem to have regrets. 

Jamie Dimon said, “Haven worked best as an incubator of ideas, a place to pilot, test and learn—and a way to share best practices across our companies. Our learnings have been invaluable.”

Warren Buffett said previously, that this was a “a first step in what is bound to be a long journey.“

And a Bezos spokesperson noted, “The venture’s backers found Haven was a good venue to test new ideas and best practices that could be better implemented individually.”

With the election of Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in Georgia, and the shift of Senate control to the Democrats, will health services continue to be an investment darling?

McKinsey & Company this week offered a qualified yes in a report titled,  “The future of healthcare: Value creation through next-generation business models.” 

With a straight face, they begin: “The healthcare industry in the United States has experienced steady growth over the past decade while simultaneously promoting quality, efficiency, and access to care.” 

But in their next breath comes a yellow caution: “The next three years are expected to be less positive for the economics of the healthcare industry, as profit pools are more likely to be flat.”

Where does McKinsey & Company see profit? They flag information technology, telehealth, and virtual services and delivery as opportunity areas saying, “In the provider vertical, the rapid acceleration in the use of telehealth and other virtual care options spurred by COVID-19 could continue. Growth is expected across a range of sub-segments in the services and technology vertical, as specialized players are able to provide services at scale (for example, software and platforms and data and analytics).”

That should make the Triad smile, but cause patients to shudder. 

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