Progressive Calendar 02.14.07
From: David Shove (
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2007 04:36:35 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    02.14.07

1. Green dreams/lit  2.14 6pm

2. LRT open houses   2.15 8am/6:30pm
3. Law/inequality    2.15 12:15pm
4. Eagan peace vigil 2.15 4:30pm
5. Northtown vigil   2.15 5pm
6. Failed states     2.15 7pm
7. Political theatre 2.15-3.04 8pm
8. Altera Vista      2.15 8pm

9. Mao/France        2.16 3pm
10. Palestine vigil  2.16 4:30pm
11. N-V peaceforce   2.16 5:30pm
12. Dismantle racism 2.16 6pm
13. Alt to violence  2.16-18 6pm
14. Che Guevara/film 2.16 6pm
15. N-land Bioneers  2.16 6:30pm
16. Iraq/fragments/f 2.16 7pm

17. Marjorie Cohn - From Iraq to Iran: fool us twice?
18. Zbignew Zingh - The docile American
19. ed            - Mr Namby Pamby  (poem)

--------1 of 19--------

From: Karen Engelsen <Karen [at]>
Subject: Green dreams/lit 2.14 6pm

Twin Cities Green Drinks 6:00-7:30 followed by Sustainability and Utopia:
Green Dreams in Literature - Book Club Discussion of the Alliance for

Looking for company on the most romantic day of the year?  Come join us
for drinks and a good book discussion at the New Delhi Bar & Restaraunt,
1400 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis from 6:00-9:00.

Topic?  Utopia!  Out of the nightmare ashes of global warming, Hurricane
Katrina, and urban sprawl, dreams of an ecologically sustainable society
continue to arise.  In the past century, the world witnessed large-scale
attempts to improve society, and, when those experiments failed,
devastating consequences. Yet we continue to be drawn to the romance of
the 'Green Dream.' What image of sustainability would you write into being

Come help us answer this question in a discussion of utopias, dreams,
sustainability, and literature.

February 14th: we'll begin discussion with a short web article from the
Encyclopedia of Communities: followed by a
spiritual image of Utopia from Starhawk's book "The Fifth Sacred Thing."
We'll ask ourselves, what informs our current yearnings for Utopia?  What
are our Utopian themes in the 21st century?

For further details, see <>

Presenter:  Karen Engelsen is the Managing Director of the Alliance for
Sustainability, and a writer of slip-stream fiction.  She is also a Book
Doctor, and has been a fan of Utopian literature since first reading
Ursula K. Leguin's "The Dispossessed" in 1974. She can be reached at
karen [at]

--------2 of 19--------

From: Amy Sparks <amy [at]>
Subject: LRT open houses 2.15 8am/6:30pm

Open Houses
A reminder that you are invited to attend the third in a series of open
houses about the creation of a community vision for the Central Corridor
given the planned investment in light rail transit.  This will be an
opportunity to view and comment on the on-going work of the University and
Capitol/Downtown Central Corridor citizen task forces as they begin to
review a draft of a "Central Corridor Development Strategy"  for Saint

There will be open houses (same material and format at each open house) on
the following dates, times, and locations:

Thurs., February 15, 8:00 - 10:00 a.m., Central Corridor Resource Center
(old Lexington Library), 1080 University Ave. W.

Thurs., February 15, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Central Corridor Resource Center

Friday, February 16, 8:00 - 10:00 a.m., downtown Saint Paul, Fifth St.
Center (skyway level), 55 E. Fifth St.

Central Corridor Open House Boards The panels for the open houses can be
found on the Urban Strategies website
( There you will see a link
in red titled "Click here for the Saint Paul Minnesota Central Corridor
Development Strategy Project FTP site." If you are prompted for a user
name and password, Enter stpaullrt as the user name and public as the

[ed opposes LRT down the middle of our main streets. Small businesses are
frozen out, big boxes and chains come in, parking near stations is
horrendous, and traffic jams on cross streets are extremely inconvenient.
A good deal for the fortunate few who can afford the yuppie housing that
will spring up, and who work near another station. A good deal for
salivating developers. Short term jobs for the building trades, which
is wildly for it. Bad for everyone else. -ed]

--------3 of 19-------

From: Human Rights Events Update <humanrts [at]>
Subject: Law/inequality 2.15 12:15pm

Community Legal Empowerment and Extra-judicial Killings
Thursday, February 15, 2007 (12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.) Law School, Room 65
Kaka Bag-ao

Ms. Bag-ao is a human rights lawyer and the Executive Director of Balay
Alternative Legal Advocates for Mindanaw (BALAOD Mindanaw), a law group
based in Mindanao, Philippines working for the advancement and protection
of the rights of the different farmers, fisher folks, indigenous peoples
and women's organizations through the creative and developmental use of
the law. As an alternative lawyer, her work is not limited to litigating
cases.  She is also involved in policy reform both at local and national
levels working with different advocacy groups and law school based
organizations. Committed to the goal of demystifying the law as a monopoly
of lawyers and the formally educated, she provides paralegal training and
legal clinics to grassroots organizations and has successfully won cases
with them developing jurisprudence on agrarian reform and resource tenure

She is a member of the independent secretariat to the peace talks between
the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Revolutionary
Worker's Party of Mindanao (RPMM) that successfully facilitated the
signing of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities and the agreement
to integrate community consultations as an essential component of the
peace process. She provides leadership as its current convener to the
Alternative Law Groups (ALG), a coalition of eighteen (18) legal resource
non-governmental organizations that engage in developmental or alternative
lawyering in different parts of the country.

She is currently a Humphrey Fellow at the University of Minnesota and is
focusing on law and human rights enhancing mechanisms on the use of the
law as tools for the poor and the marginalized towards conflict
transformation and peace building; also currently the convenor of the
Alternative Law Groups (ALG), a coalition of 18 developmental law
organizations in the Philippines working towards justice reform in her
country. During her Humphrey year, she will focus on public interest law
and human rights.

--------4 of 19--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <skograce [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 2.15 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.

--------5 of 19--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 2.15 5pm

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

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]

--------6 of 19--------

From: Joe Schwartzberg <schwa004 [at]>
Subject: Failed states 2.15 7pm

Free and open to the public. Come and bring a friend.

Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis
Parking in church parking lot.

February 15, 7:00-9:00 p.m.  DEALING WITH FAILED STATES

This presentation will deal largely with the US government's approach to
the issue of failed states .The first speaker (Kahl) will examine how 9/11
transformed the perceived threats posed by failed and failing states, the
ways by which the issue of failed states moved from being denigrated as
"foreign policy as social work" to becoming a central security challenge
of the new century, and how, in light of our experience with "nation
building" in Iraq, the US government is moving toward new strategies,
doctrine and bureaucratic architecture to better address complex
governance challenges in weak states. The second speaker (Schwartzberg)
will suggest an alternative approach relying heavily on a UN
Administrative Reserve Corps.

Presenters: COLIN KAHL and JOSEPH SCHWARTZBERG. Colin Kahl earned his PhD
at Columbia University in 2000 and is now a professor of political science
at the University of Minnesota, teaching courses in international
relations, international security, American foreign policy, and civil and
ethnic conflict and terrorism. His current research focuses on US military
compliance with the Law of War. Earlier research was on the causes and
consequences of violent conflict in developing nations. His book, States,
Scarcity and Civil Strife in the Developing World, was published by
Princeton University Press in 2006. As a Council on Foreign Relations
International Affairs Fellow, he conducted research on the Law of War at
the US Department of Defense and also in the field in Iraq. In 1998 he was
a National Security Fellow at Harvard University. Schwartzberg, a
professor emeritus of geography at the University of Minnesota, is
President of the Minnesota Chapter of CGS. Both speakers have served as
consultants to the US government's State Failure Task Force.

--------7 of 19--------

From: Jim Pounds <jim [at]>
Subject: Political theatre 2.15-3.04 8pm

Media Contact: Al Justiniano, 651-224-8806 or teatrom [at]

Don't miss Teatro del Pueblo's 6th Annual Political Theatre Festival!
February 15th-March 4, 2007

Bringing fresh new perspectives to the social-political implications of
Latin American immigration to the United States though 6 new one-act
plays from around the country.

Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55408, 612-871-4444
February 15th-March 4th, 2007
Tickets: $15 Adults; $13 Students/Seniors/Fringe Button; $10 Groups of
10+/Intermedia Arts Members
Reservations & Info:  For ticket reservations call 612-871-4444 or visit  For festival information, call 651-224-8806 or

Teatro del Pueblo presents its Sixth Annual Political Theatre Festival in
collaboration with Intermedia Arts, and in association with the Resource
Center of the Americas and the University of Minnesota.  This festival
brings political issues and theatre together to create a forum where ideas
and information are exchanged.

This year, in relation to the Latino immigration issue, we are presenting:

SERIES A:  Feb 15, 17, & 23 at 8pm; Feb 18 at 2pm; and Feb 25 at 7pm;
including the following 4 shows:

1)  Dead Bolivians On A Raft, written by Guillermo Reyes, directed by
Pedro Bayon A family confronts a Latino Playwright when he tries to cast
only famous non-Latinos in his play.

2)  Road Scholar, written by J. B. Pravda, directed by Delta Giordano A
vehicular breakdown results in the possible breakdown of a woman's
stereotypical worldview.

3)  Contents Under Pressure, written by Dana Yeaton, directed by Nick
Carter A man assembling a changing table receives an unexpected addition
in the box, a refugee from Mexico.

3)  American Immigrant!!!, written by Dominic Orlando, director Silvia
Pontaza A popular reality show brings to light the horrors of the illegal
immigrant issue in this country.  This funny interactive play will engage
you in more than one way.

SERIES B:  Feb 16, 22, & 24 at 8pm; Feb 18 at 7pm; and Feb 25 at 2pm;
including the following 3 shows:

1)  Did You Hear the One About the Mexican Laundress?, by Daniel Damiano,
directed by Christina Akers A profiled Mexican woman becomes a suspected
terrorist when she is stopped by the authorities at the Laundromat.

2)  Embassy of The Americas, written by Dominic Orlando, directed by
Alberto Justiniano A Latin American national discovers firsthand the
frustrating and demeaning difficulties of getting a visa into the United

3)  American Immigrant!!!, written by Dominic Orlando, director Silvia
Pontaza A popular reality show brings to light the horrors of the illegal
immigrant issue in this country.  This funny interactive play will engage
you in more than one way.

SERIES C:  March 2 & 3 at 8pm; and March 4 at 2pm; including: Help Wanted,
written by Virginia McFerran This satirical piece explores the plight of
undocumented immigrant workers through a story loosely based on the events
surrounding the Albino sisters' landmark case ruling about the
exploitation of illegal workers in the United States. Special
presentation, TBA

The State of Iberoamerican Studies Series at the University of Minnesota:
March 2, 10am-5pm
For more information call (612) 625-5858

4 Chances to Pay What You Can!*:  Feb 15 & 16 at 8pm, Feb 18, & 25 at 7pm
*$6+ Recommended Donation

The immigration issue is such a pressing topic in our society today, and
we at Teatro del Pueblo hope to create an atmosphere open to discourse on
this topic in our country.  We hope to see you join us this February!

Teatro del Pueblo's 2007 Political Theatre Festival is made possible in
part by funds provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council through
an appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature, the General Mills
Foundation, and COMPAS through a grant from the McKnight Foundation.

--------8 of 19--------

From: alteravista [at]
Subject: Altera Vista 2.15 8pm

Thurs. Feb. 15, 8:00 pm on St. Paul cable channel 15:  Thom Hartmann, on
book tour with "Screwed:  The Undeclared War on the Middle Class and What
We Can Do About It," speaking Jan. 6, 2007, at Lyndale United Church of
Christ, Minneapolis.

--------9 of 19--------

From: Stephen Feinstein <feins001 [at] UMN.EDU>
Subject: Mao/France 2.16 3pm

Richard Wolin
Distinguished Professor of History at the Graduate Center, C.U.N.Y.
See You At Mao?: French Intellectuals and the Chinese Cultural Revolution?

Friday, 2/16, 3:00-5:00 PM
710 Social Sciences (Ford Room)
short reception to follow

Richard Wolin is Distinguished Professor of History at the City University
of New York Graduate Center and one of the foremost intellectual
historians on modern Europe. He received his undergraduate education at
Reed College and did his M.A. and Ph.D. work at York University in
Toronto. He is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships from,
among others, the DAAD, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the
German Marshall Fund of the United States. Trained as an intellectual
historian, Wolin has engaged with the writings of the most profound
thinkers of the twentieth century, including Martin Heidegger, Walter
Benjamin, Hannah Arendt, and Herbert Marcuse. His many writings bridge the
public and academic worlds; he has published in /The New Republic/,
/Dissent/, and /The Chronicle of Higher Education/. His most recent books
are /The Frankfurt School Revisited: And Other Essays on Politics and
Society /(Routledge, 2006), /The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual
Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism/ (Princeton, 2004)
and /Heidegger's Children: Hannah Arendt, Karl L÷with, Hans Jonas, Herbert
Marcuse/ (Princeton, 2001).

University of Minnesota 214 Social Sciences Building 267-19th Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55455 cges [at] phone: 612-626-7705 fax: 612-625-0528 <>

--------10 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Palestine vigil 2.16 4:30pm

Friday, 2/16, 4:30 to 5:30 pm, vigil to end the occupation of Palestine,
Snelling & Summit Aves, St Paul.  Karen, 651-283-3495.

--------11 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: N-V peaceforce 2.16 5:30pm

Friday, 2/16, 5:30 to 11:30 pm, Nonviolent Peaceforce annual carnival
dinner, dance and auction, St Joan of Arc Gym, 4537 - 3rd Ave S, Mpls.
MelDuncan [at]

--------12 of 19--------

From: erin [at]
Subject: Dismantle racism 2.16 6pm

Friday, February 16: Sisters of St. Joseph & Consociates Justice Commission.
Dismantling Racism. 6-9 PM. Carondelet Center, 1890 Randolph Avenue, St.
Paul. 651/690-7079 for more info.

--------13 of 19--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Alt to violence 2.16-18 6pm

The Alternatives to Violence Project
Walker Community Church
3104 16 AV S
Minneapolis MN
Feb 16-18, 2007
Fri 6-9 ; Sat 9-9 (1 meal provided); and Sun 12-6 (snacks provided)

Experiential workshop including transformational exercises, role-playing
and active listening techniques, etc.
Hosted by Rich Deming
Open to ages 12 and up
Especially important for people interested in peace and justice
Sliding fee scale $75-150 (Scholarships are available.)

Began more than 25 years ago at request of prisoners and their families in
upstate New York. Recently required as a condition of employment for all
government officials in Rwanda.

To register, please contact Aaron Cross at AVP at FNVW at 651 917 0383
Checks made out to FNVW and mailed to FNVW, 1050 Selby AV, ST Paul MN 55104

--------14 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Che Guevara/film 2.16 6pm

Friday, 2/16, 6 pm, free film "Motorcycle Diaries," about young Che Guevara,
Resource Center of the Americas, 3019 Minnehaha Ave, Mpls.

--------15 of 19--------

From: biego001 [at]
Subject: Northland Bioneers 2.16 6:30pm

You are invited to a post-Valentine's Day party with the Northland
Bioneers      [Bioneers O Bioneers!]

The 1st Northland Bioneers Conference was held last October in Minneapolis
to rave reviews. The 400+ attendees from Minnesota and the surrounding 8
states experienced a 3-day "information & inspiration-fest" on the themes
of environmental and social justice and reverence for nature, featuring a
satellite link-up to the national Bioneers conference in San Rafael,
California, plus many local keynote speeches, 40+ workshops, and two
nights of entertainment. As all who came will attest, this lively tapestry
of activities was artfully woven together by the two incredible mistresses
of ceremonies, Ann Bancroft and Barbara McAfee.

February 16, 2007, we are calling for volunteers and visionaries, friends
and fund-raisers to come forward! Come one, come all! Students, teachers,
retirees, artists, journalists, concerned citizens of Minnesota! Come to
the Heart of the Beast's Celebration Hall at Plaza Verde, 1516 E. Lake St.
(near Bloomington Ave). Come to celebrate last year's event and kick-off
of the '07 conference. Festivities begin at 6:30pm; there will be
refreshments, music, a slideshow of last year's event and we'll watch a
DVD of Paul Hawken's 2006 Bioneer's plenary speech.

The event is free. '07 registration passes will be sold. Donations in any
amount are needed at this time; checks made out to Northland Sustainable
Solutions may be mailed to: Northland Bioneers Conference, P.O. Box 184,
Shakopee, MN 55379.

For more information:; call us at 612-247-0781 or
email us at nbconference [at]

--------16 of 19--------

From: wamm <wamm [at]>
Subject: Iraq/fragments/film 2.16 7pm

Film: "Iraq in Fragments"

February 16-21, 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. (February 17 and 18, 5:15 p.m. as well)
Bell Museum, 10 Church Street Southeast, Minneapolis. Academy Award
nominee for best documentary, winner of Sundance, International
Documentary Association, Gotham awards and much more. Stories from
modern-day Iraq, as told by Iraqis, living in a time of war, occupation
and ethnic tension. An opus in three parts, the film offers a series of
intimate, passionately-felt portraits:  an 11-year old boy in Baghdad,
Moqtada al Sadr's followers, and a family of Kurdish farmers.  Director
James Longley of Seattle filmed in war-torn Iraq from 2003 through 2005.
The Village Voice says, "If Langley's astonishing feat of poetic agitation
has a precedent in the entire history of documentary, I'm not aware of
it." Mother Jones says, "The film is a widescreen mix of exotic
landscapes, peeling paint, unfiltered florescent lights, dark smoke and
painfully revealing close-ups, assembled like the pages of a masterfully
composed scrapbook - a haunting collection of moments - a brave attempt to
capture how Iraqis view themselves." Co-sponsored by WAMM. FFI:

--------17 of 19--------

 [What are our favorite "lesser evils" doing?]
Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, all beholden to the
Israel lobby, have bought into Bush's dangerous rhetoric about Iran.
 [Oh oh - maybe we need some lesser evil lesser evils. -ed]

Fool Us Twice?
From Iraq to Iran
February 13, 2007

It's deja vu. This time the Bush gang wants war with Iran. Following a
carefully orchestrated strategy, they have ratcheted up the "threat" from
Iran, designed to mislead us into a new war four years after they misled
us into Iraq.

Like its insistence that Iraq had WMD, the Bush administration has been
hyping claims that Iran seeks nuclear weapons. The International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA), however, has found no evidence that Iran is building
nuclear weapons. IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei says there is plenty of time
for negotiation with Iran.

Bush has sent two battle carrier groups, replete with nukes, to the
Persian Gulf and a third is reportedly preparing to follow. In support of
Bush's case that Iran poses a danger to the U.S., three unnamed American
officials ceremoniously trotted out metal parts found in Iraq and claimed
Iran supplied them to kill our soldiers in Iraq.

This "evidence" - or "packaging," as the Associated Press calls it -
doesn't pass the straight face test with most reputable observers. "The
officials offered no evidence to substantiate allegations that the
'highest levels' of the Iranian government had sanctioned support for
attacks against U.S. troops," according to Monday's Washington Post.

Saturday's New York Times cited information gleaned from "interrogation
reports" from Iranians and Iraqis captured in the recent U.S. raid on the
Iranian embassy in northern Iraq. They allegedly indicated money and
weapons components are brought into Iraq over the Iranian border at night.
If those people indeed provided such information, query what kind of
pressure, i.e. torture, might have been applied to encourage their
cooperation. Recall the centerpiece of Colin Powell's 2003 lies to the
Security Council about ties between Iraq and al Qaeda came from false
information tortured out of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi.

Any Iranian weapons in Iraq may belong to the Supreme Council for Islamic
Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), a Shiite resistance group the U.S. used to
support. There could be old Iranian munitions lying around which are left
over from the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s. A former high level U.S.
military officer told me it was not uncommon to find large caches of
weapons around Iraq. He cited the 2004 discovery of 37,000 American Colt
45 handguns in a warehouse near the Iranian border on the Iraq side,
likely procured "when Saddam was our friend." The United States armed both
sides in the Iran-Iraq conflict.

The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, released last week,
concluded that Iranian or Syrian involvement is "not likely to be a major
driver of violence" in Iraq.

Paul Krugman wrote that even if Iran were providing aid to some factions
in Iraq, "you can say the same about Saudi Arabia, which is believed to be
a major source of financial support for Sunni insurgents - and Sunnis, not
Iranian-backed Shiites, are still responsible for most American combat
deaths." Indeed, 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis. But as
Krugman mentions, the Bush administration's "close personal and financial
ties to the Saudis" have caused it to downplay "Saudi connections to
America's enemies."

American troops are still fighting in Afghanistan. Yet the Bush
administration hasn't complained about the Taliban attacks on Afghanistan
that originate in Pakistan, a country with documented nuclear weapons. Of
course the Bush administration is cozy with the Pakistani regime.

The government of Israel, which also has nukes, is fueling the call for an
invasion of Iran. On February 7, the Los Angeles Times cited Israeli
politicians and generals warning of a "second Holocaust" if no one fails
to prevent Tehran from acquiring nukes.

Israel would like to start a war with Iran and supports this desire by
citing a quote from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel
should be wiped off the map. But this is an erroneous translation of what
he said. According to University of Michigan professor Juan Cole and Farsi
language analysts, Ahmadinejad was quoting Ayatollah Khomeini, who said
the "regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." Cole
said this "does not imply military action or killing anyone at all."
Journalist Diana Johnstone points out the quote is not aimed at the
Israeli people, but at the Zionist "regime" occupying Jerusalem. "Coming
from a Muslim religious leader," Johnstone wrote, "this opinion is
doubtless based on objection to Jewish monopoly of a city considered holy
by all three of the Abramic monotheisms." Iran has not threatened to
invade Israel.

Indeed, only 36 percent of the Jews in Israel told pollsters last month
they thought a nuclear attack by Iran posed the "biggest threat" to
Israel. Americans concur. Seventy-five percent want negotiations in lieu
of war with Iran.

Yet Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, all beholden to the
Israel lobby, have bought into Bush's dangerous rhetoric about Iran.

It would be sheer lunacy to make war on Iran. Three former high-ranking
U.S. military officers and a coalition of 13 British think-tanks and faith
groups have warned that an attack on Iran would have disastrous

Bush probably won't ask Congress to bless his Iran war. He will provoke a
confrontation and then claim we have to fight back. Last year, the New
York Times documented a January 2003 meeting with Prime Minister Tony
Blair, where Bush "talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation
[with Iraq], including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance
plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire."

A nuclear attack on Iran would violate U.S. obligations under the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty. Any attack would violate the U.N. Charter. All
treaties we ratify become part of U.S. law under the Constitution's
Supremacy Clause. Twelve European, international, and U.S. legal and human
rights groups issued an open letter warning of the illegality of any
offensive military action by the U.S. against Iran.

Congress has tied itself in knots over a non-binding resolution on Iraq.
If our elected representatives responded to their constituencies instead
of the Bush gang's fear mongering, they would stand up to him and pass a
modern day Boland Amendment forbidding military action against Iran.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, president
of the National Lawyers Guild, and the U.S. representative to the
executive committee of the American Association Jurists. Her new book,
Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law, will be
published in June.

"Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, all beholden to the
Israel lobby, have bought into Bush's dangerous rhetoric about Iran."

 [What with these lesser evils growing to be greater evils every day, it
has to be a hard life for loyal Dems, desperately trying to deny and
apologize away the fall from grace of their dearly beloveds. At least
enough to be able to vote for one in 2008 without feeling like an
economy-size cow flop. Your mission: call a Dem today, and cheer them up
by saying it is not as bad as it could be. When they ask, How?, try to
have something encouraging to say, like, At least Hillary et al have not
been found to be undead blood-sucking zombies from the planet Zarglob!
Well, at least not yet... -ed]

--------18 of 19--------

[Extremely good on the right to health care as the foundation for courage
to stand up for all our other rights.]

The Docile American
The Nexus of God, Labor, Health Care and the Fear to Strike
by Zbignew Zingh
February 13, 2007

A perplexed European asked me a question: Why, she asked, have there been
no general strikes in America to end its aggression in the Middle East?
Why, she asked, are Americans so unwilling to force their government do
what must be done?

These are not new questions. Everyone with an inkling of history and a
modest awareness of international news realizes that Americans, completely
contrary to the foundation myth of the American Revolution, are incredibly
docile. It stings, however, when someone from the outside points out an
obvious weakness.

Citizens of other industrialized countries are able to organize national
actions to achieve common goals. Americans at the university, labor,
middle class and working class levels, however, seem to be utterly
impotent and thoroughly disorganized in any long-term, coordinated
endeavor that extends beyond electoral politics. We literally struggle to
organize coordinated national events.

A general strike is one of the most powerful tools of non-violent civil
disobedience. In a general strike all work stops, businesses shut down,
consumers do not spend money, teachers and students stay away from school,
employees call in sick, lawyers do not try cases, assembly line workers do
not assemble, teamsters park their rigs, pilots do not fly, doctors
practice only emergency medicine, and commerce grinds to a halt. General
strikes are not violent, but they cause tremendous economic hurt. When
properly coordinated and prepared, they are very persuasive. General
strikes have toppled governments, such as in Argentina, and they have
prevented the implementation of anti-labor legislation, most notably in
France and in Italy.

Some argue that Americans are simply too economically comfortable to
participate in any political action more strenuous that penciling an X on
a ballot. That cannot be the answer. Indeed, the notion that Americans
live better than everyone else is part of our national mythology. Although
many Americans reside in spacious (and heavily mortgaged) houses and, by
incurring massive debt, own lots of "stuff", citizens of several European
industrialized nations live, on average, healthier, more secure lives and
work far fewer hours than most Americans. Certain Asian countries are not
far behind. Notwithstanding their better living conditions, Germans,
French, Italians and Spaniards, for example, are still more willing to
take concerted political action than are Americans.

There are several reasons for Americans' complacency and Europeans'

                      The Legacy of Slavery

Labor often takes the political lead in Europe, but not in the United
States. The historical fact of American slavery has resulted in an easily
manipulable working class, particularly one that is comprised of
ethnically diverse peoples. By exploiting superficial racial phenotypes,
big business interests have turned American workers one against the other.

In the nation's first hundred years, slavery was a mechanism for
controlling "free labor". After emancipation, freed slaves (though hardly
free in any real sense of the term) were used as a cheap labor reserve
that both in the South and in the North was manipulated to hold back wages
all across the industrial horizon, from Black to White. By inciting White
workers to extreme racial animus against Black "competitors", business
interests succeeded in preventing the creation of a unified labor front
that could have benefited everyone

Subsequently, poor European immigrants, women and children have been
exploited in the United States for the same reason and in the same way,
just as were immigrant laborers imported from China and the Philippines
during the industrial expansion of the late 19th Century. The entire
American immigration policy of the 19th Century was an effort to control
wages by bringing in cheap labor from overseas, much as "globalized" labor
is used today.

In the 21st Century, migrant workers from Mexico, Haiti and Central
America now serve the government sanctioned role of restraining wage
growth among America's assembly line, service and agricultural working
groups. Contrary to the more infamous immigrant xenophobes of the
Republican Party, big business owners in the United States prefer a
legalized "guest worker" system. That "guest worker" system would permit
cheap labor to temporarily enter the United States while preserving the
option of throwing that cheap labor away whenever it gets injured, old or
demands fair wages or benefits. Furthermore, the neoliberal globalization
of capital permits businesses to move rapidly around the globe pursuing
the cheapest labor and the fewest regulations, thus adding to the
wage-depressing effect. Although the best defense against such
wage-depressing tactics would be to improve everyone's working conditions
world wide, American labor has, instead, been led down the path of trying
to protect its own turf by defending against both immigration and the
outsourcing of jobs.

The net effect of these intentionally debilitating efforts has been the
lack of pan-labor cohesion that characterizes the American working class.
In a sense, American labor's class consciousness has been lobotomized.
Labor in America tends to be parochial - it has been trained, by
centuries of racism seeded from above, to shun coordination with workers
from different parts of the world. In sum, by taking the bait of racism,
American workers have repeatedly manacled their own legs and ensured their
own, and all other labor movements', feebleness as a political force.

But the legacy of slavery is not enough, by itself, to explain the docile

            The Conspiracy Against The Working Class

In the late 19th and early to mid 20th Centuries certain active labor
unions (like the West Coast Longshoremen led by Harry Bridges, the early
Steel Workers, the early UAW, United Mineworkers and Cesar Chavez's United
Farmworkers) were able to coordinate industry wide or regional strikes.
The assertiveness and the successes of these activist unions scared the
pants off the ownership class. As documented by Alex Carey in Taking the
Risk Out of Democracy and by Australian university professor Sharon Beder
in her books and articles about corporate and professional power
relationships, business interests in the United States, such as the
Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM),
embarked on a long-term program, a true conspiracy to "educate" the
American public about the benefits of capitalism and the evils of
democracy, socialism and unionism. It was a well-oiled, well-financed
campaign, and, in part, it was a counter-reformist reaction to the
increasingly socialized community that was evolving in Europe after WWII.
The decades-long propaganda (1) effort continues today through the efforts
of NAM's sister organization for the services industries, the ISM
(Institute for Supply Management). Joining the pro-capitalism propaganda
campaign are many of America's best known reactionary "think tanks" like
the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, the Heritage
Foundation, the Discovery Institute and various large and ostensibly
benevolent "funding institutions" on whom so many non-profit organizations
depend financially.

The concerted effort was highly successful in subverting the American
school curriculum, the mass media and American popular culture. By the
1950s, a majority of Americans thought it proper for the federal
government to intervene on behalf of big business to "break" national
strikes. The most well known modern example of these types of manipulation
was Ronald Reagan's mass firing of the air traffic controllers in the 1981
PATCO strike and his use of military air controllers and non-union
controllers to destroy the union. Reagan's aggressive use of the 1947
Taft-Hartley Act - a thoroughly labor-hostile statute that persists even
to the present day - was actually applauded by the majority of Americans
who, thanks to many years of cultural indoctrination, identified more with
the interests of big business than with their own class interests.

Whereas many labor unions in Europe have socialist or communist
affinities, contemporary American labor unions have been cowed by the well
financed and ceaseless barrage of pro-capitalist propaganda. As a result,
they avoid any political alliance more meaningful than the slightly less
business-oriented Democratic Party.

Thus have the ownership class in America, through a concerted campaign of
"education" and misinformation, succeeded in steering the American public
away from the allure of European style union activism.

But the legacy of slavery and the conspiracy against workers alone cannot
account for Americans' lack of political focus.

                 Religion as Antidote to Politics

Religion holds the greatest sway over the least politically thoughtful
peoples. This is not an accident. The particular flavor of religion that
dominates in the United States generally preaches doctrines of pacifism,
obedience to authority and a focus on rewards in a life after death. It
promotes a culture of minimal secular resistance and maximal secular

With a strong focus on otherworldliness, passivity and subservience, it is
no mystery why American culture and class politics favor religious
institutions. In absolute violation of 1st Amendment prohibitions,
churches are granted tax concessions, they receive federal funding
through "faith based" initiatives and are otherwise supported as the main
social structure of American society.

Curiously, notwithstanding its overt religiosity, American society is
extremely violent in sports, sexual relationships, and crime. More
curiously, beneath the religious veneer of submission, self-abnegation,
sacrifice and spirituality lies a capitalist economic system that rewards
violence, aggression, materialism, colonialism, self aggrandizement,
selfishness and duplicity. The right wing "muscular" religious movements
that have manifested themselves from time to time in United States history
are amalgams of all of the social vices described above, plus racism
wrapped in "patriotism", together with the traditional religious
submission to secular authority. These "muscular" religious movements
often work in silent partnership with ownership interests in the spheres
of big business and politics, often to the disservice of the very people
who make up the majority of these movements' lay membership.

Not all religious institutions are the same. Since the end of the anti-war
movement of the Vietnam War era, the stamp of the moderately "liberal"
religious wing has marked many of the "activist" movements in the United
States. Although there is nothing wrong with polite protest, modest acts
of very civil disobedience and cordial petitions to government authorities
to do the right things, they have been, more often than not, ineffective.
The mythology of meekly petitioning the government to seek redress
comports well with the predominant American church mainstream and it has
completely overshadowed the concept of the civil servant as the people's
servant. In other words, the moderately liberal church-led form of civil
protest prays for relief just like supplicants would pray for God's
intercession - on bended knee. They demand nothing and they would never
dream of organizing a national general strike any more than they would
threaten their ministers or God herself.

Unfortunately, nations like the United States that have a strong religious
bias are also more oriented toward arguments of faith than reason. If a
people are brought up to accept miracles and mysteries at face value, then
they are also susceptible to believing the miracles and mysteries of 9-11,
the official (and oft changing) rationale for America's Wars of Middle
Eastern conquest, and political authority generally. Rendering unto Caesar
what is Caesar's is not a good foundation for demanding a better material
life for the here and now. Faith in a higher authority also marches with
faith in political authority, faith in elections and the judicial system,
and an unwillingness to believe that leaders are anything less than wise
and well-meaning. Faith can lead one blindly to accept the mysteries of
religion and, when exalted to a level of jingoism, can cause one blindly
to accept the mysteries of foreign and domestic policy.

Thus religion, as currently practiced in the United States, no matter how
ennobling of the spirit, is frequently a brake on political activity and
not the slightest threat to established power. It tends to dissipate
resistance to authority while celebrating the wholesomeness of
non-confrontational and supplicating appeals to the other side's rather
dubious souls. Over time, the spiritual approach to politics can leave
people out of practice, exhausted and wholly unused to more vigorous (but
still non violent) resistance to authority. Eventually, as they
unavailingly beat their heads against institutional walls, citizens'
aspirations and organizational skills may atrophy, they may lose their
collective social memory, lose their momentum and lose the self-confidence
necessary to assert control of their own destinies.

In many polite American street demonstrations, church groups are in the
forefront of organization. In every European general strike, by contrast,
churches rarely play a secondary role, if any at all.

                     The Fear of Unemployment

Although all of the preceding causes partially explain Americans'
political timidity, probably the single biggest reason why Americans do
not take more direct actions like a general strike is their legitimate
fear of losing their livelihoods.

In those European countries where the citizens are most politically
engaged, they also enjoy the strongest social safety nets. Whereas
Americans depend on their employers for their retirement pensions,
unemployment benefits and health insurance, Europeans are generally
guaranteed all of that as basic entitlements of citizenship. These
guarantees make Europeans freer than Americans to express their opinions
and demand redress from their governments and their employers.

The European social safety nets - socialized medicine, free or heavily
subsidized higher education, public transportation and rich unemployment
benefits, among others - are paid for by compressing the range of income
between the working and the management classes, taxing excess personal and
corporate income, taxing the added value of manufactured or processed
goods sold in commerce (thus placing the highest tax burden on those who
consume the most), and by NOT spending a lot of money on the military.

It is no coincidence that when American workers were the most strident
(during the early days of the union movement), they also had the worst
working conditions and the fewest employment benefits to lose if they were
fired. Currently, any American worker who participates in a general strike
stands to lose his or her job in an anemic economy where many jobs are
low-paying service positions that provide dismal benefits. The American
striker risks not only her job, but the loss of retirement benefits and,
most importantly, health insurance for the worker and the worker's family.
European workers simply do not have to take that risk. Whether employed or
not (and their job protections are vastly stronger than in the United
States), Europeans tend to have extended unemployment and health care
benefits that mitigate the fear of unemployment.

Indeed, we should ask: Why was the American health care system designed as
a system of private "insurance" in the first place? Why should the
American health care system be tied to work?

Insurance makes sense for allocating risk among people who choose to
participate in certain electives like driving a car or owning a house.
Insurance is also appropriate if, upon your own death, you wish to provide
money for your family. Insurance is not a requirement of life because you
can live without a car, you can live perfectly well without life insurance
and you can rent if you will not own property. Health care, however, is
different. No matter who you are, no matter how you live, sooner or later
you will become old, sick and need medical help. When you need medical
care you will be the least able to afford it. Why should this be a matter
of private insurance? And why should this "insurance" be tied to your job?
Why do Americans always think of health care as a matter of employer
provided "insurance" when this is not the way it works elsewhere in the

The answer is precisely because it ties Americans' health care to their
jobs, and by that tie so are they are also tied up. Americans are
understandably afraid to do anything that might jeopardize their
employability because there is far more at stake than just a paycheck.
That fear rules out making too many demands on employers, it rules out
doing anything that risks the stigma of arrest or criminal prosecution and
it certainly rules out the possibility of a general strike. Americans have
been chained to their jobs by the fear of losing health benefits for
themselves and their families just as medieval peasants were tied to the
land that they were forced to work for others. The system has been rigged,
brilliantly so, to make sure that American workers are forever serfs and
forever politically hamstrung.

Polls show overwhelming public support for socialized medical care (2) in
the United States, yet politicians step gingerly all around the subject.
The most that the majority of politicians are willing to do is to expand
in tiny increments the preexisting private insurance system. For that they
expect applause, but deserve none. Retaining the existing health care
structure is not just about preserving the profit gravy train for the
insurance industry. Most importantly, it is a well crafted political
system that was designed to keep American workers in thrall, in a state of
constant insecurity, tied to their paychecks and politically blunted. For
these very reasons, the American system undoubtedly appeals to those in
other parts of the world who also would like to weaken or dismantle their
own socialized health programs in order make their citizens as tame as
Americans are.

Big business will resist any wholesale abandonment of the current American
medical care system of employer-based private health insurance unless, in
so doing, it can slough off the cost of employer provided medical
insurance and put yet another financial handcuff on its employees. For
small and family-owned businesses, however, socialized medicine is a
necessary equalizer that gives them the ability to compete in a business
landscape that is otherwise heavily weighted in favor of huge

The European model shows that socialized medicine is essential for a
democratic society. That model also shows that it is affordable in the
United States if, as in Europe, we more tightly compress the range of
compensation between the working and the management/ownership classes,
eliminate the frictional costs associated with the private administration
of health care (3), fairly and appropriately tax individual and corporate
income especially at the highest ranges, impose a value added tax on
consumer items, eliminate hidden government subsidies for the likes of
energy conglomerates, agribusiness and Wall Street, and, most importantly,
drastically reduce military spending.

So long as their necessities of life remain tied to their jobs, Americans
will remain docile and there will never be an American national general
strike. So long as Americans are incapable of organizing a national
general strike, they will lack one of the most useful non-violent
democratic tools to bring their own government to heel. For the very
reason that the present system perpetuates the status quo, those people
and entities who profit the most from it will fight tooth and nail to
preserve it. But for that reason alone, in order to begin the process of
freeing the American people from a culture of political servility,
everyone else should fight tooth and nail for socialized medicine and
other basic needs that are totally and unequivocally independent of

Zbignew Zingh can be reached at: Zbig [at] This article is
CopyLeft, and free to distribute, reprint, repost, sing at a recital,
spray paint, scribble in a toilet stall, etc. to your heart's content,
with proper author citation. Find out more about Copyleft and read other
great articles at: copyleft 2007.


(1) The word "propaganda" derives from the Latin and is related to the
verb "to propagate", or to multiply, disseminate or breed. In the 17th
Century, Pope Urban VIII instituted a college of Propaganda constituted to
educate mission priests around the world. "Propaganda" was a more or less
neutral term until the last century when, as part of a pro-capitalist
counter-propaganda campaign, it was "negativized" and associated with
communism or socialism.

(2) Socialized medicine in the United States is known as either
"universal" health care or "single-payer" health care. The words
"socialized" or "socialist" are strictly taboo in American politics due,
in large measure, to the success of the "educational" campaigns of the
ownership class described above and the antipathy of the religious
institutions to any coherent political creed that challenges their own
cultural hegemony.

(3) The notion that the "private sector" is always more efficient than the
public sector is another myth propagated by business interests. Because
the private sector requires that "owners" extract "profit" from an
enterprise, that profit must come from someplace. It usually comes from
reduced wages of workers, higher worker "productivity" at the cost of
employee layoffs, higher consumer prices, a reduction in the quality of
goods or services or, most usually, a combination of all four. Privatized
public utility companies with their history of providing less service at
higher prices are a good example of how the reality of private enterprise
rarely matches its hype. In the field of private health insurance, William
McGuire, the CEO of UnitedHealth Group Inc., left office last year with a
retirement package worth about $1.1 billion. That represents a lot of
health care premiums and it is but one example of the private sector's
diversion of assets from the commonwealth to personal wealth.

--------19 of 19--------

 Mr Namby Pamby
 rests in peace. He hunkered down
 and pissed off no one.


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