Progressive Calendar 02.22.07
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 04:17:30 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    02.22.07

1. Urgent/bills     2.22 3pm

2. Medellin/film    2.23 6pm
3. Globe warm/film  2.23 6:30pm
4. Religious hate   2.23 7pm
5. Lebanon/Mizna    2.23 7:30pm

6. AI TC            2.24 10am
7. Venezuela/elect  2.24 10am
8. NWN4P demos      2.24 11am
9. Northtown vigil  2.24 1pm
10. Moslem/Jesus    2.24 2pm
11. Papa John plays 2.24 6pm
12. Salvador/party  2.24 6pm
13. McDonalds/WAMM  2.24 6pm

14. Maass/StClair - The Clintons: the art of politics without conscience
15. Sharon Smith  - The rhetoric of the Dems: inside the imperial budget
16. Corp Crime Rp - Why Hillary, Obama, Edwards don't support single-payer
17. Ralph Nader   - Tobacco and Hollywood: making cancer cool
18. ed            - Help! Stop me! (bumpersticker)

--------1 of 18--------

Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2007 23:09:28 -0600
From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: Urgent/bills 2.22 3pm

Communities United Against Police Brutality


The update below is from Guy Gambill with Council on Crime and Justice,
who has followed the progress of bills that would seal arrest records not
resulting in convictions and improve expungement procedures to create a
more fair criminal justice system.  We know it is hard for people to drop
everything and run to these hearings on little notice but if you are
available tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon, that would be great.  If you can
testify, so much the better.

Notice from Guy Gambill:  Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary will be hearing
FIVE bills that will have great impact upon the future of expungements,
records sealing, data-practices and collateral consequences in the State
of Minnesota for the foreseeable future.  For all who work in homelessness
and affordable housing, racial and social justice, employment, immigration
and in many other related issues, the import of this meeting cannot be
understated. I hope that many will decide to attend and watch, closely,
the development of this all important issue.

They will be looking for folks to testify on the expungement issues to
tomorrow. By my understanding, if folks Want to testify on this issue it
may very well be a great time to give it a shot.

Committee on Judiciary
Chair: Sen. Mee Moua
3 p.m. Room 112 Capitol

Confirmation hearing - Douglas Fuller, Board of Judicial Standards
Confirmation hearing - Commissioner Michael Campion, Department of
Public Safety
S.F.  279  Moua        Criminal justice data sealing.
S.F.  685  Betzold      Criminal records expungement provisions modification.
S.F.  294  Ortman      Criminal records expungement provisions
restructuring and recodification.
S.F.  914  Betzold      Business screening services regulation.
S.F.  823  Moua         Mentoring programs BCA criminal background
checks request authorization

Communities United Against Police Brutality 3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407 Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867) Meetings: Every Saturday
at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue South

--------2 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Medellin/film 2.23 6pm

Friday, 2/23, 6 pm, free film "Our Lady of the Assassins," a love story in
crime-ridden Medellin, Resource Center of the Americas, 3019 Minnehaha
Ave, Mpls.

--------3 of 18-------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Globe warm/film 2.23 6:30pm

Film, Fun, Food, and Free!!!
Hosted by EJAM/Environmental Justice Advocates MN, organziation started to
fight environemntal racism

Please join us!!!!
Friday-February 23, 6:30-8:30
Minneapolis Urban League
2100 Plymouth Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN

This primer on global warming shows how businesses, local governments, and
citizens are taking positive actions to reduce global warming emissions.

For more information please contact Karen Monahan 612-436-5402 <>

--------4 of 18-------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Religious hate 2.23 7pm

Friday, 2/23, 7 pm, Claremont Institute senior fellow Dr Paul Marshall
speaks on "From Exile to Torture: The Global Scope of Religious
Persecution," room 50, Law School, 229 - 19th Ave S, U of M, Mpls.

--------5 of 18--------

From: Mizna <mizna-announce [at]>
Subject: Lebanon/Mizna 2.23 7:30pm

Friday, February 23, 2007
7:30 p.m.

Open Book
1011 Washington Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN
$5, includes reception and music by DJ Chamindika

The latest issue of Mizna is a special one that focuses on the invasion of
Lebanon last summer. Mizna is a locally produced literary journal that
serves as a forum for Arab-American art and literature. Mizna features
local, national, and international authors and has a similarly widespread
readership. Join us for a journal release party to celebrate the release
of "The Lebanon Issue," one of our most visually stunning issues yet,
featuring writing from local, national, and international authors and art
by four vital Lebanese artists. The writing and artwork in the journal
reflect the urgent and impassioned responses of people affected by the
war, musings on Lebanon and its capital, Beirut, and a powerful foreword
by Mizna's own Fouzi Slisli.

The event will take place at the Loft's Open Book and will feature authors
reading from the journal, DJ Chamindika spinning records, and a dessert
reception afterwards. The local authors reading their work will include
William Nour, Amy Levine, Fouzi Slisli, and Ahmed Tharwat. This issue will
be available for purchase along with past Mizna issues and other
merchandise, like our beautiful new T-shirts.

Please join us for an evening of literature, art, and music.

If you can't make it and would like to order the issue, please visit our
Web site to preview and order it:

Mizna is a non-profit organization devoted to promoting Arab American
culture, providing a forum for its expression. We value diversity in our
community and are committed to giving voice to Arab Americans through
literature and art. Visit our website at or email us
at Mizna [at]

--------6 of 18--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: AI TC 2.24 10am

Please join Minnesota Amnesty members for a Twin Cities Area Meeting:
Saturday, February 24th, 10:00am-1:00pm
William Mitchell College of Law - Room 225
875 Summit Ave, St. Paul MN 55105

This gathering is an annual opportunity to connect on current human rights
issues and AI projects, and meet members from other groups. Robert
Schultz, Field Organizer for Minnesota, will attend from AI's Midwest
Regional Office in Chicago.

To RSVP/further info, or to give feedback on the agenda, contact Margaret
Levin at 651-261-2713 or Margaret_levin [at] To download a pdf of
the agenda, registration form, and directions to the meeting location, see
the meeting announcement at

--------7 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Venezuela/elect 2.24 10am

Saturday, 2/24, 10 to 11:30 pm, John Pederson speaks on "Recent Election in
Venezuela and what it means for the region," Resource Center of the
Americas, 3019 Minnehaha Ave, Mpls.

--------8 of 18--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: NWN4P demos 2.24 11am

Believe it or not ...
There are now two NWN4P weekly demonstrations as follows:

NWN4P-Plymouth demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, along
Vinewood, just north of 42nd Ave.  and one block east of 494 in
Plymouth. Drive toward the Rainbow and Target Greatland on Vinewood,
turn right by Bakers Square and right again into the parking lot near
the sidewalk.  Bring your own sign or use ours.
NWN4P-Minnetonka demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, at Hwy. 7
and 101.  Park in the Target Greatland lot; meet near the entrance
fountain. Bring your own signs or use ours.

--------9 of 18--------

From: Lennie <major18 [at]>
Subject: Northtown vigil 2.24 1pm

Mounds View peace vigil EVERY SATURDAY from 1-2pm at the at the southeast
corner of the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE in Blaine,
which is the northwest most corner of the Northtown Mall area. This is a
MUCH better location.

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

For further information, email major18 [at] or call Lennie at

--------10 of 18-------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Moslem/Jesus 2.24 2pm

Alternate Saturdays, 1/13 to 6/9, 2 to 4 pm, interfaith dialogue
organization Northern Lights Society presents series Understanding Islam,
2469 University Ave, Suite 110 E. St Paul.  bilgin [at] Series
includes topics:  Jesus on 2/24, Islam and Democracy on 3/10, necessity of
interfaith dialogue on 3/24, farewell sermon of prophet Muhammad on 4/14,
terror and suicide attacks on 4/28, other faiths according to Islam on
5/12, diversity in Islam on 5/26 and Islamic art on 9/9.  RSVP to
rsvp [at]

--------11 of 18--------

From: ed
Subject: Papa John plays 2.24 6pm

Papa John Kolstad & Clint Hoover in Concert

Two of the Twin Cities best players of "down-home" blues and swing. Their
performance is excellent, subtle and masterfully executed. Papa John has
been performing for over 40 years and is a consumate performer. He is
master of the 12 string guitar (but also play blues and swing on a 6
string), does vocals and provides rhythm, base runs and fast picking,
complemented by Clint's stunning harmonica. Clint is one of the preeminent
harmonica players in America today. His playing is brilliant, melodic and
very lyrical, a true master of both the blues and chromatic harmonica.
Together they exhibit an energy and joy in their music, punctuated with
stories and humor. For the audience, a pure delight.

Papa John and Clint have a new record out, "Alive and Well at the Gingko".
It's nominated as blues album of the year by the Minnesota Music Academy.
This will be the first Twin Cities performance of Papa John Kolstad and
Clint Hoover since returning from Memphis, TN where they were
Semi-Finalists at the International Blues Challenge and concert
appearances in St Louis and Kansas City.

They're at The Smooth Grind, Saturday, February 24 from 6 to 9 PM. Early
show for the family to take in. Located at 2723 Lexington Ave in
Roseville, one block north of County Rd C on Lexington (the cross street
is Woodhill). It is in a little strip mall on the West side of the road.
They have only recently been doing events there. This is kind of a special
event for them to have a nationally known duo there. There will be a $5.00
suggested donation at the door.

--------12 of 18--------

From: awcmere <meredith [at]>
Subject: Salvador/party 2.24 6pm

El Salvador's Revolutionary Movement & US Solidarity: Photo Exhibit,
Speakers, & Dance Party

Saturday, February 24 @ 6 pm @ Waite House (13th Ave between 25th & 26th
St, Mpls)

Join us for a Commemoration and Celebration of the Revolutionary Movement
in El Salvador and the U.S. Solidarity Movement including: a photo Exhibit
of El Savador's armed struggle, the Salvadoran mass movements, the U.S.
solidarity movement, and Twin Cities CISPES activism, speakers on the
experience of the Salvadoran civil war, CISPES, the Committee in
Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, and El Salvador's current
struggle for social and economic justice, and music and Dancing with
progressive Salvadoran and Latin American music.

The Salvadoran movement fought the U.S.-backed regime, mobilized the
masses of people, and inspired a generation of U.S. social justice
activists. Tens of thousands of people in the U.S., led by CISPES,
participated in protests against U.S. military intervention in El
Salvador. Thousands also went to El Salvador on delegations and came back
to the U.S. with lessons and inspiration to build the movement for social
justice in the U.S. In the Twin Cities, CISPES organized creative and
militant street actions, and taught activists the skills that are now
helping to build a broader social justice movement.

Possibly more than any other national liberation movement in the 1980s,
the Salvadoran movement deeply understood the importance of building the
solidarity movement within the U.S. Join with us to reflect on the
Salvadoran revolutionary movement, the US solidarity movement, and the
long-term effects of both. Photos, posters, and other memories from El
Salvador, the Twin Cities, and the US will be on display. A brief program
will be followed by plenty of time to visit with friends, talk politics
and dance.

Organized by Friends of CISPES & the FMLN. For more information contact:
612-940-0660 or cispes_tc [at]

--------13 of 18--------

From: wamm <wamm [at]>
Subject: McDonalds/WAMM 2.24 6pm

Celebrate the Sweethearts of the Peace Movement: For the Love of the
McDonald Sisters and WAMM DON'T MISS THIS!!

Saturday, February 24, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. St. Joan of Arch Church,
Hospitality Room, 4537 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis. Wine and cheese
party. Music, dancing, and humor galore. Some Surprises. If the state of
the world has got you down, come and lift your spirits up. You will find
inspiration with lively activists who love peace and justice and know how
to have fun, too. Bring your "Special Valentine" to celebrate still
another Valentine's Day, or bring a friend or friends, or come by yourself
and be with old friends or make new friends. Just don't miss this evening!

Suggested donation: $10.00 to $25.00. No one turned away. The "Singing
McDonald's DVD/CD set will be available at the party as well as at the
WAMM office. Peace songs and old tune favorites. Songs you'll love to sing
along with. FFI: Call WAMM, 612-827-5364.

--------14 of 18--------

The Art of Politics Without Conscience
Talking About the Clintons
February 21, 2007

ALAN MAASS: With the Bush presidency being such a disaster in every way, a
lot of people now seem to look back at the Clinton years with nostalgia.
Do the Clintons deserve this?

JEFFREY ST. CLAIR: I GUESS it depends on what side of those years you were
on. If you made a lot of money in the stock market in those days, you
might look back on it with nostalgia. For the rest of us, I think you only
look back if you're forced to - at the scene of eight years of crime.

The Clinton administration opened the doors for Bush Junior in ways that
Junior's father never did. Aside from the obvious Oedipal things going on
with Bush Junior, his father hasn't been a big help to him. But Clinton
certainly has. When Bush talks about his "other father," people are
assuming that he's talking to the supreme deity. But I think that maybe
it's Clinton who's on the speed dial.

Because in so many ways, Clinton provided the final transition between
decaying old-style liberalism and the new neoliberalism and
neoconservatism - which are kind of incestuous first cousins.

That goes for trade policy; for deregulation of major industries, from the
utilities to communications companies to the banking industry to the
insurance industry; all the way to continuing to wage war on Iraq. All of
that is a living artifact of Clinton Time.

It goes for the USA PATRIOT Act. People say they rushed in the Patriot
Act - this thousand-page bill that the person who wrote it probably didn't
even have a chance to read. Well, the fact is that the Patriot Act had
been sitting on the desk at the Department of Justice for the last two
years of Clinton Time. They were all ready to update their horrendous and
horrifying Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which was passed
in 1996 after the Oklahoma City bombing.

For a lot of these things, the left has a case of political Alzheimer's
disease. That's the most gracious way of putting it - how they could
immediately wipe from their minds every betrayal of Clinton Time, and heap
all of it on poor Bush.

I look back at the Clinton administration as eight years of a fundamental
transformation in the direction of the country - toward favoring big
business, and toward almost frontal assaults on the most underprivileged
members of the society.

It was much more than cutting the social safety net. Clinton followed that
by the abuse of those at the lowest rungs of our society - in ways that I
don't think Bush, for all of his manifest faults, has done to the same

For example, blaming the victim. It's almost like a political spelunking
or something when you go into Clinton's psyche. This is a guy who always
saw himself as a victim, the wounded little boy president.

But at the drop of a hat, he would be the first one to sort of blame the
victim - whether it was Ricky Ray Rector, who he executed as a way to
boost his poll numbers during the campaign for the Democratic nomination,
or the treatment of Lani Guinier, when Clinton nominated her for assistant
attorney general for civil rights, and then withdrew her name.

Loyalty, personal or political, has never been a big thing for the
Clintons. Jim McDougal, who was once Bill's closest friend, adviser and
financier, later said that the Clinton's tore through people's lives like
a tornado, leaving behind only wreckage.

The McDougals weren't alone. So many close friends and allies were pitched
overboard when they became inconvenient: Lani Gunier, Peter Edelman,
Joycelyn Elders. All road kill on the Clintons' path to power. They've
perfected the art of politics without conscience.

MAASS: THE BIG slogan of Bill Clinton's 2000 presidential campaign was
"putting people first," but by that point, both Clintons had already built
up an incredible network of big business connections, hadn't they?

St. Clair: BILL IS the master politician. In one way, you can say that he
was never really about self-enrichment - he was interested in power and
self-aggrandizement. But Hillary was all about self-enrichment. She really
did, I think, feel a sense of entitlement - she wanted money, she wanted
power, she wanted prestige.

She was one of the bright young figures of the late 1960s and early
'70s - a star student, part of the Watergate congressional investigation
team. Her star was rising at a very rapid rate. And then, for some reason,
she shackles herself to Clinton, and gets dragged off to Arkansas.

I don't think this was really in her game plan. She had started out as the
crusader, and I'm sure she thought she would be the lawyer for some public
interest group, like the Children's Defense Fund. But that's not the way
it worked out.

Go back and look at her career as a lawyer at the Rose Law Firm, which
really is like out of a Grisham novel - one of those sleazy southern law
firms, and she was up to her eyeballs in it, with a lot of filthy clients.
They range from Tyson Foods, to a really disgusting incinerator company
Lafarge Coppe, to the Beverly Enterprises nursing home company - where, as
a cost-savings measure, they were booting 80-year-old grannies and
grandpas onto the street.

She was a corporate lawyer in a part of the country where corporate law
wasn't practiced with the same kind of Waspish dispassion that you see in
D.C. or New York. The attorneys were expected to get in there and get
their hands bloody, and she did. It's the career of a sleazy corporate

MAASS: MEANWHILE, BILL was building up his reputation as a
business-friendly Democrat.

ST. CLAIR: IT'S ONE of the things that people forget about Clinton. They
think that some transformation took place after the Republicans seized
control of Congress in 1994.

That totally rewrites Clinton's political history. He was a founding
member of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). He was right there with
Joe Lieberman, and philosophically, they've never been more than a micron
apart. That's true from his early days as governor, to that interminable
address at the Democratic convention in 1988.

For example, the left seems to think that the destruction of welfare was
something that was stuffed down Clinton's throat. But this was his idea.
It was part of the whole DLC agenda, with a very high place on it - along
with being tough on defense, tough on the poor, tough on Blacks.

He learned this lesson early on in his political career. He wanted to be a
kind of populist. He had the oratorical gifts of a Huey Long - more so
than JFK, as much as he wanted to style his hair like JFK.

But Clinton was also a wimp, and you see that all the way back in his
first term as governor starting in 1979.

The largest landowner in the state of Arkansas was Weyerhaeuser - the big
timber company, which was cutting through the forests of Arkansas faster
than it was cutting through the state of Washington. It would go through
these holdings in the Ozarks, with no restrictions - 2,000- and 5,000-acre
clear-cuts, saturating every acre with pesticide, and then they'd plant a
plantation of cloned trees.

This was prompting a kind of hillbilly rebellion. These were favorite
deer-hunting areas that were being clear-cut - the mushroom patch was
gone, the little pot plantation was gone. You can't fish anymore, because
the streams are screwed up.

So Bill was going to place some very timid restrictions on the rampages of
Weyerhaeuser, and it was a popular thing to do. Basically, Weyerhaeuser
said we're going to bring you down. And they did - he lost his campaign
for re-election in 1980. There were a couple of other stumbles, but
really, it was Weyerhaeuser who brought him down.

And immediately after he lost, what did Clinton do? He walked right into
the office of the vice president of Weyerhaeuser, and he says, "Hey, I'm
sorry, what can I do to make amends?"

That's always been his political operating procedure. Clinton made his
deals early on with the titans of the state - Weyerhaeuser and Don Tyson
at Tyson Foods.

Tyson runs these huge factory chicken-killing operations, and the effluent
from these places runs right into the White River and some other major
streams in northern Arkansas. So in that first term, Clinton tried to
begin to apply the Clean Water Act to some of these operations - and Tyson
joined forces with Weyerhaeuser for that second gubernatorial campaign in

I think Tyson was represented by the Rose Law Firm, and Hillary may have
been the one to make the first peace offerings to Don Tyson - one of the
most despicable humans ever to stalk the Southland. And Clinton then
becomes their boy for the next 10 years when he's re-elected governor.

The other major figure lurking in the background of the Arkansas days is
Jackson Stephens. Before the dot-com boom anyway, he was one of the
wealthiest Americans, and was hidden away down there in Arkansas. He's
like the Warren Buffett of the dog patch - a billionaire, a financial
investment titan.

With Clinton's presidential campaign in the 1990s, they spent a lot of
their funds early on and needed a huge loan. So who did they go to?
Jackson Stephens. He almost single-handedly financed Clinton's campaign
for the Democratic nomination in 1992.

So, of course, it comes as no surprise that within six months of being in
office, Bill Clinton turns over his economic policies to the bond market -
and starts recruiting Robert Rubin and all these other people from Wall

There's a scene in Bob Woodward's book The Agenda where Bill at one point
turns to Rubin and says, "You mean to tell me that the success of the
program and my re-election hinges on the Federal Reserve and a bunch of
fucking bond traders?" Rubin says yes, and Clinton basically says okay, if
that's the way it's got to be. He doesn't even stop to wash his hands of
it, say a little prayer, light a candle.

The Clintons are political invertebrates. They really don't have any kind
of spine. They're infinitely flexible, because really, it's all about
power for them. They're not really rooted in any kind of ideology. In that
sense, I don't think the DLC program was necessarily what Clinton really
believed in. It's just that he knew this was the path to power.

Hillary is the one you would think would have some kind of political
conscience - the good Methodist, the feminist, the crusader against
political corruption. But apparently, she doesn't. For her, it's all about
entitlement and power.

MAASS: CAN YOU talk about the Clinton administration's disastrous attempt
to reform health care, and the role Hillary Rodham Clinton played as the
head of the health care task force?

ST. CLAIR: IT FITS into the pattern. What were the mistakes? One, I don't
think they really believed in health care reform. Two, I don't think
Hillary knew that much about it. And three, they chose from the starting
gate a compromise policy.

They should have gone for single-payer health care and fought for it.
That's the thing - these people don't have any fight in them, because they
don't really have any principles. Did they really think they were going to
get this huge health care transformation through a crusty, corrupt
Congress in six months or a year?

Then, of course, they surrounded themselves with people like Ira
Magaziner, who was in the pocket of the insurance companies.

So it wasn't a health care program that the left should have supported. It
was something they should have fought to kill, I think, because it really
was - like a lot of the health care reform we're seeing now - a bailout
for the insurance companies.

Sharon Smith pointed that out very vividly in her recent article for
CounterPunch and Socialist Worker on the Massachusetts plan. Reform has
become requiring you to pay for health insurance. The insurance companies
get their money. But it doesn't mean that you're going to get treated when
you need to be treated, and it doesn't mean that if you are treated, you
won't be bankrupt afterward.

This is obviously a huge and involved story. But I think it was one of the
things that really helped the right wing back off the mat after losing in
1992 - the fact that not only did they draw blood from the Clintons, but
they massacred them. The fact that it was so easy surprised them, I think.
It empowered the Gingrichian ultras - with how easy it was to intimidate
and defeat these people.

MAASS: NOW THAT she's announced her campaign for the Democratic nomination
in 2008, Clinton is continually trying to explain her yes vote on the
congressional authorization for the Iraq war, while trying to look like an
antiwar critic.

ST. CLAIR: REMEMBER WHEN Bush would be asked, "Can you name one mistake
that you made as president?" And he wouldn't do it. What has happened to
political advisers in this country? All Bush had to do was say, sure, he's
made some mistakes, and enumerate them, and say he's learned from them and
we're going to change.

But Hillary complains that Bush can't even admit he's made a mistake in
Iraq, and then she's asked if she made a mistake in voting not just for
the authorizing legislation, but every single appropriation. "Is that a
mistake," she's asked. "No," she says, I wouldn't call it a mistake."

In the psychology of these people, it's the same thing. They can't see any
imperfections in their reflections.

MAASS: BASED ON the Clinton presidency, do Sen. Clinton or the other
mainstream candidates represent a genuine alternative foreign policy?

ST. CLAIR: I THINK that they want a more competent management of the
empire. In other words, they're imperialists.

Will they have a different approach? Yes. I think they can go back to
finding intermediaries for imperial management, rather than committing
U.S. troops - a lot of bombing campaigns, and then have NATO or the UN be
the face of imperial management on the ground. That would be the major
change, and that's right back to Clinton Time.

And it was very successful for them. What is the percentage of people in
this country who understand that Iraq was being starved to death for the
eight years of the Clinton presidency, or that it was being bombed once
every three days? People don't know. Their war on Serbia was conducted
essentially the same way. It was an air war. They weren't going to commit
ground troops, even when it might have prevented ethnic slaughters on the
ground in Kosovo.

So pull out, and put in UN and NATO troops instead - that's going to be
their strategy. Really, in a lot of ways, that was the strategy of the
Reagan years, too. You create your contra armies, you fund the mujahadeen,
you have them do the dirty work for you, and you try and minimize the

MAASS: ONE POINT where there isn't even an iota of difference is the
Democrats' support of Israel, right?

ST. CLAIR: IS THERE one advocate for the Palestinian people in the U.S.
Congress? I can't think of one. Maybe there's a secret advocate - maybe
it's Jim Moran or Ron Paul or some other lonely voice out there.

The fact that Hillary is absolutely devoted to the Israeli state is not
surprising to me. If you remember, in her first year as a senator, I think
she came out and endorsed - at some time in the next thousand years - the
possibility of a Palestinian state.

Immediately, the New York Daily News, the New York Sun, the
Anti-Defamation League, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee -
they all issued their condemnatory statements. And Hillary's response was:
no Palestinian state, that's not what I meant. She learned her lesson, and
she will never make that "mistake" again.

That's the state of play in U.S. politics. It's a disgusting state of
affairs. That's why of all the potential presidential candidates out
there, the only one that is at all attractive to me is Chuck Hagel of
Nebraska, who was the first elected politician to stand up and say that
Israel's invasion of Lebanon was wrong, and they ought to get the hell
out. I don't think you heard one Democrat say that.

Is all this because at a basic level, Hillary Clinton doesn't care about
the human rights situation in the Occupied Territories? I don't think
that's true. Again, I think it's the path to power. She wants to be
president, and this is the path to and this is the path to power in the
American political system.

Alan Maass is the editor of the Socialist Worker. He can be reached at:
alanmaass [at]

Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green
to Me: the Politics of Nature and Grand Theft Pentagon.

--------15 of 18--------

Behind the Rhetoric of the Democrats
Inside the Imperial Budget
February 21, 2007

Bush's budget proposal for FY 2008 is emblematic of the social crisis
unfolding inside the U.S. Empire, its ramifications still largely ignored
in mainstream politics. Coupled with whopping military expenditures and
permanent tax cuts for the extraordinarily wealthy, Bush's budget shreds
what little remains of the tattered social safety net for the most
downtrodden members of the world's richest society.

The Iraq war marks the first major war in the last century fought in the
interests of America's ruling elite without even the pretense of "shared
sacrifice." During the First World War, the tax rate for top income
earners stood at 77 percent; during the Second World War, at 94 percent.
Even during Vietnam, the wealthiest taxpayers faced a rate of 70 percent
on personal income. Yet, as the bloodletting in Iraq has been proven a war
for nothing more than U.S. control over Middle Eastern oil, the corporate
class continues to enjoy an income tax rate that has been capped at only
35 percent since 2003 - the year the U.S. invaded Iraq.

Bush's plan to permanently extend these tax cuts, which are set to expire
in 2010, would cost an estimated $211 billion in 2012 and $1.6 trillion
over the next decade. Added to their profit windfalls and soaring
executive salaries, the corporate class has every reason to celebrate.

Bush's budget makes clear that the growing numbers of economically
disadvantaged Americans - already supplying the cannon fodder to kill and
die in Iraq and Afghanistan - must also continue to shoulder the
suffocating financial burden for U.S. imperialism's twenty-first century
follies. Bush's budget proposal brazenly takes aim at veterans themselves,
nearly doubling their out-of-pocket fees from $8 to $15 for prescription
medications when they return home from a war zone battered and
traumatized, and often looking for work.

In this war, only the working class is expected to sacrifice. On January
14, the New York Times interviewed the family of Sgt. Andrew DeBlock, a 41
year-old member of the New Jersey National Guard who recently learned that
his stay in Iraq was extended by four months due to Bush's troop surge.
His wife. Heidi DeBlock, told Times reporters that, due to the her
husband's lost income, she "has had to battle her heating-fuel company,
which wanted cash up front, and her husband's cellphone provider, which
will not let him out of his contract even though he is off fighting a

Bush's budget reduces Medicare and Medicaid spending by $102 billion over
the next five years. Food stamps would be slashed to the bone, dropping
some 300,000 currently eligible recipients. The Commodity Supplemental
Food Program, which provides food for more than 450,000 low-income
seniors, would be completely eliminated. Bush also proposes gutting $300
million in funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and
over $3.6 billion from special education programs in public schools. And
these are just the highlights.

Bush did, however, manage to find the money to substantially increase
funds for sexual abstinence education for 12-18 year-olds - rising to $191
million, an increase of $28 million from last year's budget.

Becky Ogle, Senior Advisor on Disability to the Democratic National
Committee (DNC), argued of Bush's proposal: "Last November, the American
people went to the polls and demanded a new direction for America.
President Bush's misplaced budget priorities represent more of the same
failed leadership that the American people have already rejected. With
Congress under Democratic control, we can finally have real leadership
that reflects the values and priorities of all Americans."

While voters' expectations for change are high, Congressional Democrats
have thus far shown reluctance to chart anything resembling the "new
direction" to which Ogle refers. Senate Democrats' inability to win even a
non-binding resolution on the Iraq war does not bode well for the upcoming
budget battle. Democrats blamed Republicans for maneuvering to block the
resolution. In reality, Republicans called the Democrats' bluff by
insisting that the symbolic resolution be accompanied by a binding vote on
continued funding for the war. War funding would have passed with
Democratic votes, neutralizing the Democrats' smoke-and-mirrors efforts to
appease their antiwar supporters.

On the domestic front, Democrats have thus far shown no willingness to do
more than tinker with the most egregious symptoms of the economic crisis
facing the U.S.' working-class majority. Roughly 45 percent of American
workers now earn $13.25 an hour or less, while 58 percent work for less
than $15 an hour. The fastest growing occupations in the U.S. are janitor,
hospital orderly and cashier.

During their widely trumpeted first 100 hours, Democrats did spearhead
legislation to raise the minimum wage and pledged to restore cuts from
heating subsidies and Head Start programs for the poor.

But raising the minimum wage to $7.25, which has remained in place at
$5.15 an hour for the last decade does not begin to reverse the race to
the bottom in working-class wages - since the typical wage is worth less
today than it was in 1972, and real wages have fallen steadily over the
last four years of economic "recovery".

Similarly, Democrats proposed raising Pell Grants for low-income college
students from $4,050 (frozen for the last five years) to $4,300. Bush's
own budget proposal surpasses the Democrats', raising Pell grants to
$4,600 in fiscal year 2008 and to $5,400 by 2012.

As the Times commented on February 5, "While Democrats criticized Mr. Bush
for what the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, called 'wrong priorities,' they
conceded privately that Mr. Bush was correct in warning that the unchecked
growth of entitlement programs would eventually break the federal bank."

Congressional Democrats have yet to confront the elephant in the room:
Bush's massive tax cuts for the wealthy during an imperial war. Why are
they so timid in the face of a seismic shift in popular opinion, winning
them a majority in both Houses of Congress in November? The answer is
straightforward: the 2008 presidential campaign is already underway, and
Democrats plan to continue their centrist path to victory, focusing on
would-be Republican voters secure in the knowledge that the overwhelming
majority of progressives will vote Democrat however little they get in

 [And this is why I condemn those "progressives" - election after
election, going for the same old Dem/elitist scam. A 5-year old could see
through it, but not courage-challenged progressives in permanent denial.
If they would demand more, we could progress. But with 2008 probably just
as disgusting as 2004, we will have to wait for the country to fail
economically for sufficient numbers to act. Thanks a bunch, progressives.
The ruling class has us exactly where it wants us, and is rushing to
squeeze us dry. But we must like it, because we're doing nothing about it.
- ed]

As Mike Davis argued recently in New Left Review, "In practice, this
translates not simply into a Democratic reluctance to undertake new
spending, but also a refusal to debate the rollback of any of Bush's $1
trillion in tax cuts for the affluent. 'Tax and spend, tax and spend, tax
and spend', Senator Kent Conrad (chair of the Budget Committee) told the
New York Times, 'we're not going there.'"

The Times stated on February 6, "But few Democrats are expected to look
for new revenues by calling for an end to Bush's tax cuts, instead of
extending them as the president proposed Monday Since 2001, Democratic
leaders have made a point of saying the Bush tax cuts are unfairly
weighted toward the wealthy and dangerous to American solvency. But the
tax cuts expire in 2010, and Democrats acknowledge that they are not ready
to move on them now."

In addition, Democrats are open to negotiations with Bush on future Social
Security benefits, "possibly with a curb on some benefits," the Times

"Bipartisanship" is the watchword of the new Democratic majority in
Congress. But this is not a new strategy. Democrats have been eager
bipartisans for the last 30 years - enabling Reagan's tax cuts, Clinton's
gutting of "welfare as we know it" and all of George W. Bush's
legislation, including the Patriot Act, the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan
and, yes, Bush's tax cuts.

The neoliberal Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) remains firmly in
control of the Democratic Party, personified by their presidential
frontrunner, Sen. Hillary Clinton. The word "poverty" never passes her

During a recently staged "conversation with Iowans," Clinton asked what
health insurance system her audience preferred. "Overwhelmingly the
audience favored moving toward a Medicare-like system for all Americans,"
the Washington Post reported.

Yet Clinton remained noncommittal about any forthcoming policy pledge for
the nation's 47 million uninsured. She told her Iowa audience, "I'm not
ready to be specific until I hear from people."

Expect no major progress from Democratic Party powerbrokers until the
angry electorate that swept them into power in November begins to hold
them accountable for their actions - and inactions.

Sharon Smith is the author of Women and Socialism and Subterranean Fire: a
History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States. She can be
reached at: sharon [at]

--------16 of 18--------

February 21, 2007

The Death of the Health Insurance Industry and Reduced Profits for the
Drug Cartel
Why Hillary, Obama, Edwards, Romney and Schwarzenegger Don't Support
Single-Payer Health Care
By Corporate Crime Reporter

The majority of the American people want a single-payer health care system
Medicare for all.

The majority of doctors want it.

A good chunk of hospital CEOs want it.

But what they want doesn't appear to matter.


Because a single-payer health care plan would mean the death of the
private health insurance industry and reduced profits for the
pharmaceutical industry.

Presidential candidates John Edwards, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and
Mitt Romney and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger talk a lot about
universal health care.

But not one of them advocates for single-payer - because single-payer too
directly confronts the big corporate interests profiting off the miserable
health care system we are currently saddled with.

"Currently, we are spending almost a third of every health care dollar on
administration and paperwork generated by the private health insurance
industry," said Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, an Associate Professor of
Medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a
National Health Program. "Countries like Canada spend about half that much
on the billing and paperwork side of medicine. If we go to a single-payer
system and are able to cut the billing and paperwork costs of health care,
that frees up about $300 billion per year. That's the money we need to
cover the uninsured and then improve the coverage for those who have
private insurance but are under-insured."

"The idea behind single-payer is you don't have to increase total health
care spending," Woolhandler said in an interview with Corporate Crime
Reporter. "You take the money we are now spending but cut the
administrative fat and use that money to cover people."

None of the declared Presidential candidates - with the exception of
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) - is supporting single-payer.

Last year, Kucinich and Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan), introduced
a single-payer bill, HR 676, which garnered support of more than 75
members of the House.

Woolhandler expects that number to grow substantially this year.

And Woolhandler says grassroots activists have been mobilizing at the
state level.

"State single-payer organizations have been very active," she said. "Early
in the process, you can get a lot of politicians interested - they want to
show up at your rallies to show support for national health insurance. But
as you get closer and closer to actual passage of a law, it is harder to
keep the politicians on board."

"The legislature in California passed a single-payer bill last year, but
everybody knew that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to veto it.
So, it was very easy for the politicians to say - yes, I'm going to
support it. The insurance industry did not come in and throw their
millions against it. But every time there is a real possibility of a bill
coming through, the insurance industry has weighed in very heavily

Woolhandler called the universal health care law passed in Massachusetts
by Governor Mitt Romney "a hoax."

"The core idea is the individual mandate - forcing uninsured people to go
out and buy insurance," Woolhandler said. "And if they don't buy
insurance, we are going to fine them. The first year it is an $80 fine.
The second year, it's half the value of the lowest priced policy - we're
talking about a $2,000 fine. So, they are saying anyone who earns more
than three times poverty has to bear the entire price of a private
insurance policy."

"Romney's bill was written by Blue Cross," Woolhandler said. "Romney was
saying he was going to offer health insurance starting at $200 a month.
And of course, that was a hoax. No insurance policy in Massachusetts comes
in at $200 a month. When Blue Cross was asked to produce the policy, it
turned out the policy was going to cost $380 a month for a policy that had
a $2000 deductible. So, you are going to tell this poor bloke who is
earning $29,400 a year that he has to go out and spend $4,000 a year on an
insurance policy. And if he gets sick, he doesn't even have any coverage
until he has spent $2,000. And that's not family coverage. That's
individual coverage."

Schwarzenegger would do the same - fine individuals for not having

Former Senator John Edwards would have a Medicare-like system compete with
private insurance.

"Edwards plan is not going to work," Woolhandler says flatly. "We know
there is not going to be fair competition between Medicare and the private
plans. You have to take on the private health insurance industry and tell
them - you are out of here. This is an entitlement program like
traditional Medicare or Social Security. We are going to get the
administrative efficiencies you get from running it as a single program
and use that to expand coverage. That's what you have to do."

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) doesn't want to get specific.

"She is nowhere on this issue," Woolhandler says.

Ditto Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois).

But Woolhandler sees an opening.

"We are at the cusp of a new single-payer movement," she said. "Things
have been quiet over the last eight years of so. Nobody was talking about
health care. But now, everyone is talking about health care. And it's
obvious that politicians are realizing that health care can be a ticket to
higher office. So, we are about to see a real blossoming of the health
care debate and it will present an opening for us to get the single-payer
idea out there."

[For a complete transcript of the question/answer format "Interview with
Stephanie Woolhandler," see 21 Corporate Crime Reporter 9(12), February
26, 2007, print edition only.]

--------17 of 18--------

Making Cancer Cool
Tobacco and Hollywood
February 21, 2007

Among the greatest unsung public health advances of recent times is
progress made against the global cigarette industry.

In the United States, cigarette smoking is finally on the decline. The
courts have ruled the tobacco industry to be "racketeers." Smokefree
spaces, including not just workplaces but restaurants and bars, are
proliferating, reducing the harms of second-hand smoke and encouraging
millions to quit. States are raising cigarette taxes, reducing smoking and
raising funds for important public health programs.

Internationally, progress is speeding even faster. A global treaty, the
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, is encouraging countries to adopt
far-reaching anti-smoking measures, including bans on all cigarette
advertisements. Countries are emulating and surpassing the smokefree
initiatives in the United States -- even Irish pubs are now smokefree!

But despite all the public health gains, Big Tobacco is still on the move,
addicting millions more smokers. And the industry has some unfortunate

One important cultural ally of Big Tobacco is Hollywood. Smoking in
youth-rated movies in on the rise, and it has demonstrable effects on
smoking rates.

According to researchers at the University of California San Francisco
Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, smoking appears even
more in Hollywood movies released with G/PG/PG-13 than in R-rated films.
Altogether, 75 percent of all U.S. releases have smoking scenes.
One cartoon film now on DVD, The Ant Bully, includes 41 tobacco scenes.

Researchers have found that viewing smoking in movies makes it far more
likely that children will take up the habit -- controlling for all other
relevant factors (such as whether parents and peers smoke).

Think about it--the movies are glamorous, and they portray smoking as
glamorous, whether or not it is a good guy or bad guy lighting a

The public health advances against Big Tobacco are due in significant part
to effective efforts to vilify the industry. When children especially
appreciate how the companies are manipulating them, they resist.
Hollywood's glorification of smoking works directly against this.

U.S. films bring in 30 percent of movie box office sales globally, and
Hollywood's contribution to smoking is significant overseas, where the
tobacco epidemic is worst. Ten million people are expected to die every
year from smoking-related disease by 2025, 70 percent of them in
developing countries. Hollywood movies have gigantic appeal overseas,
often with even greater cultural influence than in the United States.
They appeal exactly to the demographic most likely to take up smoking -
urbanized, middle-class youth who aspire to Western lifestyles.

This is an easy problem to cure. Leading U.S. health groups and the
United Nation's World Health Organization have urged Hollywood to adopt
R-ratings for movies with tobacco scenes (with exceptions where the
presentation of tobacco clearly and unambiguously reflects the dangers and
consequences of tobacco use or is necessary to represent the smoking of a
real historical figure), to air anti-tobacco spots before films with
tobacco imagery, to certify that movies with tobacco received no tobacco
industry pay-offs, and to stop identifying tobacco brands in movies. None
of these measures involves any "censorship."

The industry has resisted.

This week, leading up to the 79th Annual Academy Awards, public health
groups and agencies from New York and Los Angeles, from Liverpool and
Sydney have mobilized to demand that Hollywood end its complicity with Big

In Washington, DC, representatives of the Smokefree Movies Action
Network, dressed in biohazard suits, called on the Motion Picture
Association of America to remove "toxic" tobacco content from youth rated
films. They presented the MPAA with a "golden coffin."

The trade association's representatives declined to accept the award.

The celebration of film at the Oscars reminds us of Hollywood's reach.
That's exactly why it is so important to get smoking out of kid-rated

For more information about tobacco in Hollywood, the evidence of harm, and
the widely endorsed policy solutions, visit

Ralph Nader is the author of The Seventeen Traditions

--------18 of 18--------


        HELP! STOP ME!
  before I vote for another
        #!#! DEMOCRAT
        for president


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