Progressive Calendar 06.21.06
From: David Shove (
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2006 16:28:32 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R     06.21.06

1. African women       6.22 8am
2. Eagan peace vigil   6.22 4:30pm
3. Northtown vigil     6.22 5pm
4. Pastors for Peace   6.22 6pm
5. Permaculture/Lawton 6.22 7pm
6. Letters/war play    6.22 7pm
7. Innocence project   6.22 8pm

8. Green roof          6.23 9am
9. Schultz/AM950       6.23 5pm
10. Cameroon/film      6.23 7:15pm?
11. Queertopia         6.23-25 8pm
12. SF war resist/film 6.23 8:30pm

13. PRSA Tactics   - KARE-TV infomercials as news
14. PR Week        - Interview: Robert F Kennedy Jr
15. Steven Hill    - Will your vote count in 2006?
16. Robert Jensen  - Attacking Iran: bad policy is a bipartisan affair
17. Patrick Martin - American democracy in decay: Congress on Iraq war

--------1 of 17--------

From: humanrts [at]
Subject: African women 6.22 8am

Women, Ensuring Africa s Future.  8am-5pm.

The Minnesota African Women's Association (MAWA) and her collaborators
present the second bi-annual African Women in the Diaspora conference in

This will be a wonderful opportunity for those in the health, social work,
education, legal and law enforcement fields to learn about working with
New Americans from Africa. Continuing Education credits will be sought for
a couple of fields.

The keynote address will be given by the Judge and Prosecutor from the
2005 Cannes Film Festival Award winning documentary Sisters In Law Judge
Beatrice Ntuba and Prosecutor Vera Ngassa from Cameroon. Breakout sessions
will give opportunities to focus on African immigrant and refugee issues,
local demographics, youth and education, HIV/AIDS and other health and
cultural challenges, and leadership development. This year features the
Africa Oboso Awards for African women and friends of Africa in five
categories including: Clearing the Way, Accentuating the Positive, Staying
the Course, and Friend of Africa for those who work to promote African
women s courses. Awardees come from other States, Africa and Europe.

For more information e-mail MAWA s Executive Director Nyango Melissa
Nambangi at mawa0302 [at] or call MAWA at +1 612-302-3400. Location:
Mondale Hall, University of Minnesota Law School, 229 19th Ave. So.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

--------2 of 17--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <skograce [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 6.22 4:30pm

CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest
corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs
and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends
south of the river speaking out against war.

--------3 of 17--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 6.22 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday to 5 to 6 pm, at the intersection of
Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley,
and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------4 of 17--------

From: Minnesota Cuba Committee <mncuba [at]>
Subject: Pastors for Peace 6.22 6pm


Program, Cuban plate provided by Victor's 1959 Cafe, Cuban music and
dancing, Cuban refreshments, continuous Cuban videos

Keynote speaker: Reverend Thomas E. Smith, IFCO/Pastors for Peace
president and pastor of Monumental Baptist Church, Pittsburgh,

$10 requested donation; no one turned away for lack of funds


The U.S. government continues to intensify threats against Cuba and
restricts US citizens from traveling to the island. They continually deny
entry into the US to Cuban artists, musicians, writers and students.

Two hundred people, a dozen painted school buses and 50 tons of supplies
and medicines will bust through the blockade this summer for the 17th
time. Feel the power of collective action and learn the truth about Cuba.

Sponsors: Minnesota Cuba Committee, Resource Center of the Americas, Hands
off Venezuela Committee, Witness for Peace,

--------5 of 17--------

From: info [at]
Subject: Permaculture/Lawton 6.22 7pm

The Permaculture Collaborative in cooperation with The Permaculture Research
Institute Cold Climate invites you to join us for a very special

Beyond "Sustainability": Pathways to Permanent Culture

By "Beyond Sustainability," we mean more than just today's buzzword
approach to popularized green marketing. At its core, Permaculture is
about changing not just a few surface practices, but changing our thinking
as well as our behavior on a much deeper level: this is about sustainable
community development from a truly ecosystemic mindset.

Geoff Lawton, one of the world's foremost Permaculture experts and
managing director of the Permaculture Research Institute in Australia,
will speak about applying ecological science and community based research
to solve our unique challenges of sustainability in a cold climate. To
view a multi-media presentation on Geoff Lawton's most recent project,
please visit . For his
internationally televised interview, visit .

free to the general public
Thursday, June 22
Reception begins at 7pm
Presentation from 7:30 to 9pm

The Open Book
upstairs in the Marshall Fields Performance Hall
1011 Washington Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55415

The Permaculture Research Institute Cold Climate is a learning institution
engaging in intersystemic research that demonstrates the creation and
refinement of sustainable models of human settlement for cold temperate

For more information about Permaculture, The Permaculture Collaborative or
the Permaculture Research Institute Cold Climate, please visit us at .

--------6 of 17--------

From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at]>
Subject: Letters/war play 6.22 7pm

Letters To, Letters From - Letters Never Written:
A Production of the War Plays Project

Thursday, June 22
7pm (discussion and refreshments to follow)
Hamline-Midway Library, 1558 West Minnehaha Avenue, St. Paul

The voices of Minnesota veterans from across the years live today through
Letters To, Letters From - Letters Never Written, a production of the War
Plays Project. Actor and director Frances Ford has compiled a 50-minute,
simply-produced, but fast-moving presentation of letters, journals, and
memories of soldiers from the Civil War to the present. As seven
professional actors read the actual words of the soldiers themselves, the
reality of war and its effects upon the participants and their loved ones
reverberate. Letters engages audiences and starts conversations about the
impact of war on all of us.

The War Plays Project aims to educate and enlighten citizens -
particularly young people - about violence and war and, perhaps more
importantly, its impact on individuals and society, through theatre, the
spoken word, and the facilitation of community dialogue. With support from
Twin Cities Friends Meeting, Veterans for Peace Chapter 27, Fellowship of
Reconciliation, and individual donors, the War Plays Project offers its
presentation to schools, educators, and community groups.

Suggested donation is $5.00, but not required.

Sponsored by: Merriam Park, Crocus Hill/West 7th, Como Park, and
Hamline-Midway Neighbors for Peace.

More Information:
Anne Benson: <mailto:info [at]>info [at] or (651) 
Minnesota Neighbors for Peace:

--------7 of 17--------

From: humanrts [at]
Subject: Innocence project 6.22 8pm

June 22 - Susan Thurston Myster: The Innocence Project AND Film: After
Innocence.  8pm

Film: After Innocence.  The Innocence Project with Susan M. Thurston
Myster, a forensic scientist at Hamline University.  The Innocence Project
provides assistance to inmates with provable claims that they are innocent
of the crimes they are imprisoned for.  FFI Amanda Luker 612-590-3276 or
Amanda [at],

FFI Amanda Luker 612-590-3276 or Amanda [at],
Location: Arise Bookstore, 2441 Lyndale Ave S, Mpls.

--------8 of 17--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
From: Corrie Zoll
Subject: Green roof 6.23 9am

We have several events over the next few weeks at The Green Institute's
Phillips Eco-Enterprise Center.  They're not all garden-related, but I
thought you'd appreciate the full list.

Several of the workshops listed below will be held in the Eco-Yard
Midtown, a new sustainable landscaping demonstration site at the north
edge of our parking lot along the Midtown Greenway.  The eco-yard is worth
a visit even if you're not attending a workshop.  More information online

And if you do stop in, please visit our AWARD-WINNING green rooftop on
the third floor.  Or at least visit the live green roof web cam at

Friday & Saturday, June 23 and 24, 9am-3pm
Green Roof Volunteer Event
We will add a table, more seating, and a shade umbrella to the deck on our
green rooftop.  We need a few extra hands.  Contact Corrie at 612-278-7119
or czoll [at]

Saturday June 24, 10am-12noon
Healthy Soils and Composting Workshop,2300,1273_83222_100295472,00.html

Saturday, June 24, 2-4pm
Energy Independence Day
Will Steger, funny hats, solar-powered ice cream, kids' activities and
much more.

Thursday, June 29, 8:30am-12noon
Green Roof Tour at
Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District

Friday, July 14, 8:30am-5pm
Green Roof Infrastructure Design & Installation Course

Tuesday, Aug 8, 6:30-8:30pm
Incorporating Native Plants in Your Landscape,2300,1273_83222_100295472,00.html

Tuesday, Aug 15, 6:30-8:30pm
Earth Friendly Landscaping Design,2300,1273_83222_100295472,00.html

Saturday, Aug 26, 10am-12noon
Landscaping for Water Quality,2300,1273_83222_100295472,00.html

Tuesday, Sep 12, 6:30-8:30pm
Checklist for Low Input Lawn Care (Fall),2300,1273_83222_100295472,00.html

--------9 of 17--------

From: David Schultz <dschultz [at]>
Subject: Schultz/AM950 6.23 5pm

Fridays from 5:00 - 6:00 PM, David Schultz hosts "Minnesota Matters,"
on Air America Minnesota radio, 950 AM. Progressive discussion,
interviews, and call in.

David Schultz, Professor Hamline University Graduate School of Management
MS-A1740 1536 Hewitt Avenue St. Paul, Minnesota 55104 651.523.2858 (voice)
651.523.3098 (fax)

--------10 of 17--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Cameroon/film 6.23 7:15pm?

Sisters in Law
Starts Fiday June 23 at the Bell Auditorium, 17th& Unveristy Ave.SE.
East Bank campus U of M, Minneapolis(in the Bell Natural History Museum

A compelling documentary of courtroom justice in Cameroon, Africa. First
two nights will feature the two stars of the documentary, the judges from
Cameroon. This was a marvelous film at the Walker Art Center's "Women With
Vision"  festival this spring.

Check our Website ­ <> -- for
further updates!

--------11 of 17--------

From: Lisa Fink <lisa [at]>
Subject: Queertopia 6.23-25 8pm


Friday-Sunday, June 23-25, 8pm

A radical and raunchy evening of provocative expression, curated by Jeffry
Lusiak and Eleanor Savage. Banish your political woes for a short while
and celebrate PRIDE with peace, love and understanding - and song and
dance! Make art not war and together we'll hatch some righteous schemes
for survival!

Tickets are $15 in advance and are available at Intermedia Arts, 2822
Lyndale Ave S, and Blue Moon Coffee Café, 3822 E Lake St, both in
Minneapolis. On the day of the event, tickets are $20 at the door.

On Saturday, June 24 at 10pm (after the 8pm show), come rock your own
manifesto of QUEER LOVE at an OPEN MIC. Performance slots will be filled
the night of. Pay what you can.   For more information, visit

Friday, June 23 8pm
Saturday, June 24 8pm (Open Mic at 10pm)
Sunday, June 25 8pm

Intermedia Arts 2822 Lyndale Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55408

Performances by: Foxy Tann, Andrea Jenkins, Morgan Thorson, Venus,
Dykes-Do-Drag, Grace Darling, Kats Fukasawa, Empowered Expressions,
Running On Empty, Video by Karyn & Sharyn

CONTACT: Sandy Agustin Phone: 612-874-2817 E-mail:
sandy [at]

--------12 of 17--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: SF war resist/film 6.23 8:30pm
Resist war

The Twin Cities Indymedia Collective presents a screening of:

"We Interrupt This Empire"
Friday, 8:30 pm
at the Jack Pine Community Center
2815 E Lake St, Mpls

Film Description:
...the story you won't see on Fox News: an unflinching look at the San
Francisco Bay Area's radical resistance to an illegal and horrific war.
"We Interrupt This Empire..." is a collaborative work of Bay Area
independent video activists.  Their footage documents the direct actions
that shut down the financial district of San Francisco in the weeks
following the United States' invasion of Iraq. A diverse show of
resistance from the streets of San Francisco and a critique of the
corporate media coverage of the war, the film explores issues like the
Military Industrial Complex, attacks on civil liberties, and U.S.

Snacks/food will be available.

Free, donations for the newly formed Twin Cities IMC will be requested.

--------13 of 17--------


Expanding on earlier reports of growing product placement deals with TV
news programs, Joan Stewart writes in Tactics, the monthly magazine from
the Public Relations Society of America, that "in many cases, viewers
don't know until the end of a five- or 10-minute spot that the segment is,
in fact, advertising." For example, "in Minnesota, KARE-TV has turned its
morning news show into a giant infomercial called 'Showcase Minnesota.'"
Segments cost $2000 each -- a bargain compared to Phoenix, Arizona's
Channel 13 show "Mind, Body and Spirit," where a six-minute interview
costs $5000. Poynter Institute professor Jill Geisler points out, "In a
news program, the person asking the questions is the advocate for the
viewer. In pay for play, the person asking the question is the paid
advocate of the interviewee." Former entertainment publicist Raleigh
Pinskey counters that such arrangements are "legal and ... good business."

SOURCE: PRSA Tactics, June 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

--------14 of 17--------

Interview: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
PR Week
Monday 19 June 2006

This month, Rolling Stone ran an investigative feature claiming that
Republicans used a systematic combination of voter disenfranchisement and
fraud, centered in Ohio, to rob John Kerry of a win in the 2004
presidential election.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer and son of liberal icon
Bobby Kennedy, wrote the article, available, along with supporting
research, at Kennedy spoke to PRWeek about the story.

PRWeek: How did you come to write this piece?

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: I had not paid much attention to this issue.  And
then a number of books came out, and I read them because I [wanted to use
them] to interview people on my radio show. And then I read the [Rep.
John] Conyers report, [a 2005 Congressional inquiry into the election],
and started talking with people in Ohio. And at one point, I said, "Holy
cow, this is real." And then I talked to [RS editor] Jann Wenner about it.
I encouraged him to do a piece, and he said "We'll print one if you write

PRWeek: Tell me about the process of putting the story together - it
obviously took a while.

Kennedy: I read the literature out there, and read the articles.  Then I
interviewed voters in Ohio, and public officials, and people who were
involved in the election from all over the country.

PRWeek: Why do you think this wasn't covered heavily by major media
directly after the election?

Kennedy: I think the mainstream media took up the Republican echo chamber,
and just echoed the right-wing talking points.

PRWeek: Why didn't the Democrats themselves pursue this?

Kennedy: Well, there was a lot of complaining; there were a lot of
lawsuits. But it got very little traction in the media. But you know, the
Democrats on this issue have been abysmal as well.

PRWeek: Your story wasn't based on any secret information, correct?

Kennedy: No, that's the whole thing. This was not a secret conspiracy.
This was done openly and shamelessly. Across Ohio, there were people who
did everything they could to stop this.

PRWeek: Have you had any indication that the national media will take
another look at this issue?

Kennedy: I had a good indication [June 7]. The New York Times, as its lead
editorial, did a piece on [Ohio secretary of state] Kenneth Blackwell's
current efforts to suppress registration drives in Ohio. And the
Republicans are doing the same thing in Florida, and the Times talked
about that, as well.

PRWeek: What reaction have you seen from the general public?

Kennedy: There's a huge reaction. Rolling Stone told me that it's gotten
two and a half times as many e-mails [about this article] as it's ever
gotten for any other story in its history. So there's a huge appetite for
this story.

PRWeek: This story didn't have a 'smoking gun'; was there one person
coordinating this entire operation?

Kennedy: There's never going to be 100% certitude that the election was
stolen, because the only way you could get that is by recounting the
ballots, and the recount was illegally derailed by Republican operatives.
The mastermind behind the efforts in Ohio was Kenneth Blackwell, along
with ... [Toledo elections official] Bernadette Noe.  But on a national
level, it's [Republican National Committee chairman] Kenneth Mehlman and
Karl Rove.

PRWeek: Have you gotten any reaction from the Republican Party on this?

Kennedy: I've gotten, certainly, reaction in the blogosphere. But most of
the reaction has been supportive.

PRWeek: Is there a next step?

Kennedy: I've been meeting with attorneys ... to devise a litigation
strategy. And I would say that very soon we'll be announcing lawsuits
against some of the individuals and companies involved.

PRWeek: Who exactly would that litigation be targeting?

Kennedy: I wouldn't say, right now.

PRWeek: The election is over. Is it too late now?

Kennedy: There's another election soon. And as the Times [just] reported,
the same people are up to the same shenanigans.

--------15 of 17--------

From: Steven Hill <hill [at]>
Subject: "Will Your Vote Count in 2006?"

From:  Steven Hill, Director, Political Reform Program, New America

Dear friends and colleagues,

Issues of voting equipment security and election administration integrity
continue to be paramount in this year's election season. I recently had a
two-part series published at on this subject, much of it
drawn from Chapter 1 of my new book, "10 Steps to Repair American
Democracy" ( <> ). I thought those
articles might be of interest to you, here are the links.

Election Security 2006
1&SearchFields=keywords&Template=author> Steven Hill

June 05, 2006 and

Recipe For A Fair Election
gs=1&SearchFields=keywords&Template=author> Steven Hill

June 12, 2006

In addition, I wanted to make sure you know that my new book, "10 Steps to
Repair American Democracy" ( <> ) is
now available in most bookstores and online. Each chapter of the book
highlights a different solution for repairing our broken democracy,
including a more robust election administration, public financing and free
airtime for candidates, direct election of the president, instant runoff
voting, media reform, universal voter registration, a national election
holiday, the end of winner take-all elections, overhaul of the US Senate,
term limits for Supreme Court justices and more. "10 Steps" is a
"one-stop" shopping guide to what's broken about democracy in the USA, and
what Americans can do to repair it. And it's only $11 in your local
bookstores, and even less expensive at various online stores.  Here are
some recommendations that you might find of interest:

"We are fortunate to have Steven Hill's latest book, 10 Steps to Repair
American Democracy. He identifies ten critical problems with our democracy
and offers concrete solutions to each one. 10 Steps is a blueprint for a
reinvigoration of our republic."
-- from the foreword by Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker

"Steven Hill's 10 Steps to Repair American Democracy is as practical as it
is insightful, offering innovative ways to fix our broken political system.
Read it, roll up your sleeves, and get to work."
--- Arianna Huffington

"In his timely new book, Steven Hill persuasively argues that much of what
ails American politics is rooted in our antiquated methods and practices.
Anyone concerned about the state of our democratic system should read this
-- Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission

"We know that American democracy is being run over a cliff -- choiceless
elections, screwy voting machines, brain-dead political debate, unresponsive
government, etc. What's a citizen to do? Here, finally, is the plan."
--- Jim Hightower

--------16 of 17--------

Attacking Iran: Bad Policy Is A Bipartisan Affair
By Robert Jensen
ZNet Commentary
June 20, 2006

Will the United States attack Iran?

That was the question on everyone's mind at a recent political talk I gave
in a small college town in Texas. I ran through some of the many reasons
such an attack would be ill-advised, bordering on insane:

--U.S. forces are bogged down in a failed war in Iraq and have limited
capacity to fight anywhere; --Iran is militarily a much more formidable
opponent than Iraq, and its people are even less likely than Iraqis to
welcome the U.S. military; --Iranian nuclear sites are dispersed around
the country, making it difficult for U.S. (or U.S.-backed Israeli) air
strikes to achieve the stated goal; and --any aggression in a region
already enraged about U.S. bullying, prison torture, and war crimes would
risk setting off an uncontrollable conflict that would be potentially
catastrophic, leaving U.S. troops in Iraq and American citizens everywhere
exposed to heightened dangers.

"Given all that," I asked the audience, "can you imagine any sane
politician or policymaker deciding to invade or bomb Iran?"

"No, of course not," they responded.

"Even though all this is obvious," I asked, "are you still worried that
the Bush administration is going to bomb Iran?"

"YES!" they shouted back.

The Bush administration's ongoing propaganda campaign to paint Iran as a
grave threat to U.S. security -- which just happens to look a lot like the
propaganda campaign that targeted Iraq -- suggests that whether or not
policymakers have definitive plans to invade and/or bomb, they are
creating the context for attack if they deem it necessary to their project
of total domination of the Middle East and Central Asia.

So, many in the United States -- and even more people around the world --
are scared that among top U.S. policymakers, rational arguments can easily
be trumped by ideology, willed ignorance, and self-delusion. While U.S.
military commanders likely view an attack on Iran as dangerous folly --
and are the likely source of leaks to journalists about the planning
process, perhaps in an attempt to derail such plans -- civilian leaders
seem to be insulated from reality and responsibility.

Indeed, the fanatics in the Bush administration pose a serious threat to
peace and are an impediment to the pursuit of justice in the world. But
that should not obscure the other lesson of the current "crisis" around
Iran's nuclear program: We are dealing with the consequences of 60 years
of dangerous U.S. policies around the world.

Let's remember the basics of post-World War II U.S. policy in Iran: A
CIA-supported coup in 1953 overthrew Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq's
government after his nationalization of the oil industry, leading to more
than two decades of harsh rule by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi enforced by a
brutal secret police, SAVAK. Support for the shah, who played a key role
as a mostly obedient U.S. surrogate in the region, continued through
Republican and Democratic administrations alike -- including that of Jimmy
Carter, the so-called "human-rights president." All that is well
documented, but the public memory of U.S.-Iranian relations and the 1979
Islamic revolution typically is reduced to the "hostage crisis," in which
the United States casts itself as a victim of crazed Muslims gripped by
irrational hatreds.

But we forget history at our own peril. Today many of our problems around
the world are a result of what has been called "blowback" -- support of
reactionary forces for short-term advantage has often created unforeseen
problems. A bit more attention to those decades of immoral and
shortsighted U.S. policy around the world would suggest a new course, one
that requires the U.S. public to do what doesn't come naturally in this
ahistorical, propaganda-driven society: Study honest accounts of our
history, evaluate the facts, and apply basic legal and moral principles.
That's not only the right thing, it's the sensible thing to do out of

We can start with a simple question: If Iranian leaders do indeed want to
acquire nuclear weapons, why might that be? Other major players in that
part of the world (Pakistan, India, China) have nukes, as does Iran's
primary regional enemy (Israel). And let's not forget that the occupying
army in Iran's next-door neighbor belongs to the United States, whose
president has designated Iran as a member of the "axis of evil." Iranians
no doubt have observed that of the two other original members of that
exclusive club, one is thought to have nuclear weapons (North Korea) and
one quite clearly didn't (Iraq). Which one got invaded?

What does Iran want? As would any nation in its position, Iran seeks
security guarantees -- exactly what the United States refuses to give. As
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton put it this spring, the
Iranians "must know everything is on the table and they must understand
what that means."

Got it, Mr. Ambassador, we understand: The United States, once again, is
ignoring a fundamental principle of international law. The U.N. charter
states that nations "shall refrain in their international relations from
the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political
independence of any state."

So, everything is on the table, including bombing, which has many people
nervous. But we should remember this is not a new U.S. policy. Go back to
President Carter's 1980 State of the Union address, in which he outlined
the "Carter Doctrine": "An attempt by any outside force to gain control of
the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital
interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be
repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

Throughout the post-WWII period, U.S. policymakers have interpreted
"outside force" to include inside forces -- that is, any force that
doesn't bow to U.S. demands, no matter where it lives. The Bush
administration, while more brazen in its threats and use of force than
some past administrations, is not straying too far from a time-honored
U.S. principle, articulated most clearly by his father, the first
President Bush, in 1991: "What we say goes."

Two simple, but haunting, questions were on the minds of the folks at my
talk in Denton, Texas, that night: What if "what we say" is crazy? And, do
those in power actually have the power to make sure a crazy idea "goes"

With the attack on Iraq, the Bush administration -- along with
fellow-travelers in both the Republican and Democratic parties -- ignored
international law, a global mass movement against the war, and the
opinions of the vast majority of the world's governments in pursuit of a
policy of domination-through-violence.

The same forces are lined up for and against an attack on Iran. The
difference may be that this time even the most fanatical in the
administration will have a hard time convincing themselves such an attack
can succeed.

We hope.

 Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at
Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center He is the author of The Heart of
Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege and Citizens of the Empire:
The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (both from City Lights Books). He can
be reached at rjensen [at] .

--------17 of 17--------

American democracy in decay: US Congress debates the Iraq war
By Patrick Martin
20 June 2006

The congressional debate last week on the Iraq war combined Republican
bullying, Democratic hand-wringing and lies piled upon lies from both
sides of the aisle.

Neither the Republicans, who hold a narrow majority in both the House and
Senate and generally support the Bush administration's conduct of the war,
nor the Democrats, the nominal opposition party, could tell the truth to
the American public. Neither side in the debate could admit what the vast
majority of the world's politically conscious population, including
millions of Americans, already knows: that the US invasion and occupation
of Iraq constitute a crime of historic proportions.

Instead, the debate was conducted entirely within the framework of what
was best for the foreign policy interests of American imperialism and its
corporate ruling class.

Republicans argued that to "stay the course" in Iraq was necessary, no
matter what the cost in lives and resources, because the alternative was a
historic defeat for the United States and (though they did not say so
openly) the collapse of the Bush administration. They claimed that any
questioning or criticism of the Bush White House meant giving aid and
comfort to the enemy in the "war on terror."

Democrats generally argued that the Bush administration had misled the
American people and Congress itself about Saddam Hussein's alleged links
to Al Qaeda and his possession of weapons of mass destruction, but not one
of these "critics" drew the elementary conclusion that a war based upon
lies was necessarily illegitimate.

The Democrats displayed almost as many positions as there were speakers,
ranging from open defenders of the Bush administration (Joseph Lieberman
in the Senate, 42 Democrats in the House of Representatives), to those who
hope to continue the war to victory under Democratic leadership (Senators
Hillary Clinton and Joseph Biden), to those who believe that it would be
less damaging to the long-term foreign policy interests of the US ruling
elite to pull out of Iraq, in part or entirely (Senator John Kerry,
Representatives Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha).

In both houses of Congress, the debate was rigged by the Republican
majority to ensure that there was as little expression of opposition as
possible. In the Senate, Republican Majority Whip Mitch McConnell
introduced a resolution loosely based on the position of Kerry, the 2004
Democratic presidential candidate, who last week called for beginning a
total pullout no later than December 31 of this year.

As an effort to embarrass the Democrats, the parliamentary maneuver worked
perfectly. Only six Democrats-Kerry, Edward Kennedy, Russ Feingold of
Wisconsin, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Barbara Boxer of California and Robert Byrd
of West Virginia-voted for the resolution, which was defeated by 93-6.
Among the vast majority of Democrats who voted against rapid withdrawal
were presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, Biden, Christopher Dodd and
Evan Bayh, along with Minority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Whip Richard
Durbin, and Lieberman, Bush's favorite Democrat.

This vote followed shortly after a 98-1 vote to approve the most recent
emergency appropriations bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The
two votes combined show that the vast majority of Senate Democrats are
hostile to the antiwar views of most Democratic voters. (Polls show as
many as 80 percent of self-identified Democrats believe that Bush was
wrong to launch the war in Iraq.)

The House discussion was a far more elaborate political event, with 140
representatives taking part in the course of more than 11 hours last
Thursday and Friday. While there were the trappings of debate, with
speakers alternating for and against, the procedure was a travesty. The
House Republican leadership presented a resolution declaring the Iraq war
to be an integral part of a global "war on terror" and condemning any
effort to set a withdrawal timetable as a surrender to terrorism. No
amendments were permitted, nor were the Democrats allowed to present an
alternative resolution for a vote.

The language of the resolution, HR 961, parroting White House propaganda,
declared the war in Iraq to be "essential to the security of the American
people," branded as terrorists all Iraqis fighting against the US
occupation, hailed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the killing of Abu
Musab al-Zarqawi, and congratulated the newly installed stooge regime of
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

After rejecting any deadline for withdrawal, the resolution declared, "the
United States is committed to the completion of the mission" in Iraq, and
"the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the noble
struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary."

The resolution passed with the support of 211 Republicans and 42
Democrats, most of them from districts in the south and rural Midwest.
Three Republicans, 149 Democrats and one independent voted against, while
five others, three Democrats and two Republicans, voted "present."

The debate was largely formulaic, with Republicans on the offensive,
proclaiming their devotion to the troops and suggesting that their
Democratic opponents were either too cowardly or too squeamish to take the
measures necessary for victory in the "war on terror." Democrats responded
defensively, as in the comments of John Murtha: "We support the troops.
It's the policy we don't support."

It is one of the longstanding myths of official American politics that
"support" for the troops means endorsing policies that lead to their
deaths, while those who urge that US soldiers be moved out of harm's way
are slandered as being "against" the troops. If this patriotic baloney
were stripped away, the debate would have seen Republicans demanding
thousands, even tens of thousands more American deaths in Iraq, with the
Democrats arguing that Moloch could perhaps be satisfied with slightly
less blood-or more likely, that the blood should be shed elsewhere,
perhaps in Iran or North Korea.

Given that a clear majority of the American people oppose the war in Iraq,
it might seem absurd that the dominant pro-war party is able to go on the
offensive against its congressional critics. But the Democratic Party is
also a pro-war party. It represents, however, a faction within the ruling
elite, equally committed to the defense of corporate America, which
believes that a course correction in Iraq may be necessary to secure US
imperialist interests in the Middle East and around the world.

The Republicans are well aware of the duplicity of the Democrats'
half-hearted attempts to distinguish themselves from the war policy of the
Bush administration, and eager to exploit the contradiction between the
antiwar sentiments of the majority of Democratic voters and the position
of the party leadership.

Majority Leader John Boehner and other House Republican leaders were quite
open about their determination to force a vote that would alternately be
used to attack Democrats as unpatriotic or expose them as hypocrites.

There has been no debate on the Iraq war in either House or Senate for the
past three years, since the passage of the resolution in October 2002
authorizing Bush to use force against Iraq. The administration has
conducted an open-ended war, financed by emergency appropriations bills
and without the slightest congressional oversight-a transparent
demonstration of the extent to which democratic procedures have broken
down in the United States.

One particularly ominous aspect of the House debate was the distribution
of a 74-page Iraq Floor Debate Prep Book to several members of Congress.
This document was issued by the Pentagon in an unprecedented effort by the
military to intervene in a debate within the legislature. After several
Democratic congressmen were e-mailed the document, the Pentagon tried to
recall it.

The document regurgitates Bush administration charges against its
political opponents, warning, "Iraq will become a haven for terrorists,
murderers and thugs," if the United States leaves "before the job is
done." It brands withdrawal proposals as appeals to "cut and run."

After one senator complained that the publication of the document violated
a legal ban on using government funds for lobbying Congress, the Pentagon
revealed that the document had actually been drafted in the Bush White
House, by the National Security Council.

A major aspect of the Republican speeches was to identify Iraq under
Saddam Hussein with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the "big
lie" that has been a staple of Bush administration war propaganda. Speaker
Dennis Hastert set the tone in his speech, declaring, "We in this Congress
must show the same steely resolve as those men and women on United Flight
93; the same sense of duty as the first responders who headed up the
stairs of the twin towers."

Perhaps the ugliest contribution came from Charles Norwood, a Georgia
Republican, who branded his opponents as cowards. "Many, but not all, on
the other side of the aisle lack the will to win," he said. "The American
people need to know precisely who they are. It is time to stand up and
vote. Is it Al Qaeda, or is it America?"

Some exchanges brought out the essential strategic agreement between the
two parties. Gil Gutknecht, a Minnesota Republican, echoed Margaret
Thatcher, saying, "Members, this is not the time to go wobbly. Let's give
victory a chance." Jane Harman, the senior Democrat on the House
Intelligence Committee and a leading supporter of the war-who voted
against the resolution-responded, "This side is not trying to go wobbly.
We're trying to articulate what we think would be a better strategy for
success in Iraq."

Another pro-war Democrat who voted against the resolution, Ike Skelton of
Missouri, bemoaned the damage that the war has done to the capability of
the US military. "This nation is at a strategic crossroads," he said. "We
are spending $9 billion a month and have spent over $300 billion total on
this war. More strikingly, we are losing a battalion's worth of casualties
a month, killed and injured."

Murtha, one of the main Democratic speakers, said that Al Qaeda and other
potential antagonists of the United States, including Iran, North Korea,
Russia and China, "want us in Iraq" because the war is "depleting our
financial resources and our human resources... If we stay, we're gonna
pay, and we're gonna pay long term."

Typical of the mealy-mouthed tone of many Democrats was House Minority
Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who complained, "[I]t is regrettable that
this Republican majority seeks to exploit the critical issue of national
security for political advantage.... As Majority Leader Boehner explained,
its purpose is an opportunity to create 'a portrait of contrasts between
Republicans and Democrats.' For our country's sake and for our troops'
sake, the majority should have offered a resolution that sought unity,
rather than division."


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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