Progressive Calendar 03.05.07
From: David Shove (
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2007 01:58:01 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    03.05.07

1. RNC forum          3.05 8am
2. Ford site planning 3.05 6:30pm
3. Food forum         3.05 6:30pm
4. Library merger?    3.05 6:30pm
5. CIA "ethics"       3.05 7pm
6. Venezuela          3.05 7pm

7. Venezuela/KFAI     3.06 11am
8. Boomsite/no condos 3.06 6;39PM
9. Caucus/impeach     3.06 7pm
10. Uhcan-mn          3.06 7pm
11. Arab film fest    3.06 7pm
12. VenezCubaBolivia  3.06 7pm
13. New Orleans arts  3.06 7:30pm
14. AIDS action day   3.06

15. Ralph Nader   - Sen Clinton and corporate America: Hillary, Inc.
16. Kevin Zeese   - The Dems and the peace movement: who owns whom?
17. M Shahid Alam - The slavish Congress
18. John Nichols  - Vermont puts impeachment on the table

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

From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at]>
Subject: RNC forum 3.05 8am

Mayor Coleman Announces 2008 Republican National Convention Public Forum
(Saint Paul) - Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman today announced three public
forums in preparation for the 2008 Republican National Convention at the
Xcel Energy Center.  After announcing the successful signing of the
convention contract in January, the Coleman Administration committed to
holding two public forums by mid-April of this year.  Mayor Coleman will
attend the second forum on March 12th at the Battle Creek Recreation

"It's incredibly important that folks get involved in the process," said
Mayor Coleman.  "Hosting the convention in 2008 is an opportunity of a
lifetime to showcase Saint Paul to the world, but at the end of the day,
this about doing what's right for Saint Paul.  That's why it's critical
for residents and businesses to have a seat at the table and get involved
early so we can make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

RNC Public Forum #1:
Monday, March 5, 2007, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
City Hall - Conference Room 42, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd., Saint Paul, MN 55102
Councilmember Debbie Montgomery
Matt Bostrom, Assistant Chief of Police
John Choi, Saint Paul City Attorney
John Kelly, Saint Paul Assistant City Attorney
John Kirkwood, U.S. Secret Service
Erin Dady, Marketing Director for City of Saint Paul

RNC Public Forum #2:
Monday, March 12, 2007, 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Battle Creek Recreation Center, 75 S. Winthrop Street, Saint Paul, MN 55119
Mayor Chris Coleman
Councilmember Kathy Lantry
Matt Bostrom, Assistant Chief of Police
John Choi, Saint Paul City Attorney
John Kelly, Saint Paul Assistant City Attorney
John Kirkwood, U.S. Secret Service
Erin Dady, Marketing Director for City of Saint Paul
Jeff Larson, Minneapolis Saint Paul Host Committee

RNC Public Forum #3:
Monday, March 26, 2007, 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
West 7th Community Center, 265 Oneida Street, Saint Paul, MN 55102
Councilmember Dave Thune
Matt Bostrom, Assistant Chief of Police
John Choi, Saint Paul City Attorney
John Kelly, Saint Paul Assistant City Attorney
John Kirkwood, U.S. Secret Service
Erin Dady, Marketing Director for City of Saint Paul
Cyndi Lesher, Minneapolis Saint Paul Host Committee

The City created an email account for residents to send comments if they
cannot attend the public forums: convention [at]

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

From: Merritt Clapp-Smith [mailto:Merritt.Clapp-Smith [at]]
Subject: Ford site planning 3.05 6:30pm

Ford Site Planning Task Force Mtg #3 and change of meeting location*:

Monday, March 5, 2007
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Lumen Christi Catholic Church
2055 Bohland Ave (at Cleveland)

Purpose of Mtg - Establishment of Initial Vision, Goals and Guiding
Principles for site redevelopment

An agenda, meeting #2 summary notes, and revised Spring schedule will be
sent in the next day or two.

*Future meetings of the Ford Site Planning Task Force and the first large
public meeting (scheduled for the evening of Tuesday March 20th) will be
held at Lumen Christi Catholic Church, in one of two rooms that each offer
more space than the available rooms at the Ford-UAW-MnSCU Training Center.
The location for the 2nd and 3rd public meetings in May and June is yet to
be determined.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact me by email or phone.

Merritt Clapp-Smith Planner and Ford Project Manager City of Saint Paul
Dept. of Planning and Economic Development 651.266.6547
merritt.clapp-smith [at]

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

From: tom [at]
Subject: Food forum 3.05 6:30pm

Organic farmer Greg Reynold's will be presenting at our April Food Forum.
It will be at the NE Lirbary at 2200 Central AVE NE from 6:30 to 8:00 PM n
April 5th.  Plan on attending this evening of finding out about the field
end of our field to fork connections.

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

From: Dave Bicking <dave [at]>
Subject: Library merger? 3.05 6:30pm

Probably many of you have already heard that there is a proposal to merge
the Minneapolis Library system into the Hennepin County system.  Don't
feel bad if you haven't heard about this - there has been remarkably
little publicity, given the significance of this change to Minneapolis
government and to library users.

There are several public meetings this week at which this proposal will be
discussed and/or acted on.  These are really critical for anyone who has
an interest in our libraries.  Important actions to move this forward are
being taken this week, and public input and scrutiny are critical.  This
is being "fast-tracked" and is being treated as a nearly inevitable
"done-deal".  Proponents are saying there is no alternative if we wish to
save our libraries.  So this is moving forward with little or no attempt
to determine public opinion.

The rush is for the purpose of gaining approval from all the affected
governmental bodies in time to submit a bill to the State Legislature
before their March 23rd deadline for proposing new legislation.  The State
Legislature will be asked to approve a change to the Minneapolis City
Charter (the city's "Constitution")  that would eliminate the Mpls Library
system and merge it into the Hennepin County system.  This would mean the
elimination of the elected Mpls Library Board.

If the State Legislature approves this before they adjourn near the end of
May 2007, it will go back to the Minneapolis City Council, the Library
Board, and the Hennepin County Board for final ratification this summer.
It is intended for the merger to be completed by the end of 2008.

Here are the details on this week's meetings:

----- Monday, March 5, 6:30 - 8:00pm, Minneapolis library merger
informational meeting, at Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall
(Doty Board Room on 2nd floor)  This meeting consists of about a half hour
presentation, followed by public questions and comments.

----- Wednesday, March 7, 4:00pm Mpls City Charter Commission meeting,
Room 317 City Hall.  The library merger is the main item on their agenda.

----- Wednesday, March 7, 5:00 - 6:30pm, Informational session hosted by
Hennepin County Library Board, at Eden Prairie Library, 565 Prairie Center
Drive, Eden Prairie

----- Wednesday, March 7, 6:00 - 9:00pm Minneapolis Library Board meeting,
at Washburn Library, 5244 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls.  The agenda for this
meeting is not yet available on the internet, but it presumably will
include the discussion and final vote on the merger.  Public testimony,
limited to three minutes each, is accepted.  Notify the Administrative
Assistant at the beginning of the meeting.

----- Thursday, March 8, 9:00am, Joint meeting of the Mpls City Council
Intergovernmental Relations and Ways & Means Committees, Room 317, Mpls
City Hall.  Called specifically to consider library merger.  I doubt there
will be any opportunity for public comment.  The agenda is not yet
available on the internet.

----- Thursday, March 8, 10:00am Mpls City Council Committee of the Whole,
Room 317, Mpls City Hall.  This is the normal meeting the day before the
City Council meeting, to discuss items on the next day's agenda.

----- Thursday, March 8, 7:00 - 8:30pm, Minneapolis library merger
informational meeting, at Nokomis Library, 5100 34th Ave. S., Mpls.
Meeting will be similar to the one on Monday, the 5th - except that it
will occur after most votes will have already been taken!

----- Friday, March 9, 9:30am, Mpls City Council meeting, Room 317, Mpls
City Hall.  If the merger proposal is approved or moved forward by the
joint committee meeting on Thursday, it will be considered by the full
council at this meeting.  No opportunity for public comment.

----- Tuesday, March 13, 1:30pm Hennepin County Board special meeting to
consider library merger, Room A2400 of the Hennepin County Government
Center, 300 S. 6th St., Mpls.  This special meeting was called for the
time when the Board would have normally had its Committee meetings,
presumably so final action could be taken on the merger.  Otherwise, they
would have had to wait until the regularly scheduled meeting the next
Tuesday, the 20th.  The Board does not generally allow public comment at
Board meetings (only at their Committee meetings).

That's it for meetings, at least as far as I know.  Eight meetings in one
week - perhaps that alone gives a sense of how fast this is being rushed

I would really encourage any of you to attend whichever meetings you can
make.  Hopefully you can add your comments, or at least find out more
about what is happening.  It would be good for all these governmental
bodies to at least get the sense that people are paying attention.

This is such a major change - it seems that it ought to be undertaken with
more time, more caution, and more public input and consultation.  We are
talking about eliminating the Minneapolis Public Library system, an entity
that has existed for over 120 years.  This would be permanent for perhaps
another 100 years or more - it would be very difficult or impossible to

Just over a year ago, there was a campaign and election for the Library
Board members.  Now we are talking about eliminating the Board itself -
essentially undoing the recent election - with no public vote.  By way of
contrast, consider the years of public activism, education, campaigning,
deliberation, and finally the vote, to institute Instant Run-off Voting,
which also was a change to our City Charter.

Though I have serious reservations, I haven't made a final decision in my
own mind.  Given the serious financial troubles of the Minneapolis
libraries, maybe this is the best solution to a very difficult problem.
At the very least, it does seem reasonable and fair for Minneapolis to
receive some outside support for the Central Library, which serves as a
resource for the whole County, even the whole State.  But giving up local
control of all our libraries is a steep price to pay.

I attended the Information Session at the North Regional Library on
Saturday.  One of my comments there regarded the rushed process.  I was
assured that the rush was due to the need to put this before the
Legislature this year.  The votes this week will be just to do that -
final approval will be considered this summer after the Legislature acts.
I was assured that that process would be less rushed and would include
more chance for public input.  I hope that is the case, but I remain

The one thing that is NOT being proposed is a public referendum.  Such a
referendum is the normal way to approve any significant change to the City
Charter, as provided for in the Charter itself.  Of course, the Charter
can be over-ridden by an Act of the State Legislature, which is what is
being requested here.  I believe strongly that the leadership of the City,
the County, and the Library should be seeking the approval, not of
legislators state-wide, but of their own constituents.  They should come
to US for approval.

See also the commentary of Councilmember Cam Gordon, at: I like
what he says: "If this is a good idea now, it will still be a good idea 6
months or a year from now. If it is a bad idea, let's take the time to
consider the issues involved and find out before it is too late."

I would also very much appreciate hearing the opinion of our own Ian
Stade, former Green Party candidate for Library Board, and presently one
of the members of the City Charter Commission. -Dave Bicking

[Meanwhile the county is giving sleazebag Carl Pohlad a billion dollar
stadium. Which will it be - democracy, or rule by the rich? The latter is
what we have now, not a democracy. How long till we won't take it any
more? Or will become slaves and serfs, rather than raise a ruckus and piss
off a pack of eminently pissoffable jackels?  -ed]

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

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: CIA "ethics" 3.05 7pm

Monday, 3/5, 7 pm, Johns Hopkins govt prof (plus former National Defense U
prof and CIA Directorate of Intelligence vet) Mel Goodman speaks on "CIA's
Abuse of Intelligence Ethics," main auditorium of O'Shaughnessy Education
Center, Cleveland & Summit, U of St Thomas, St Paul.  651-962-5907.

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

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
Subject: Venezuela 3.05 7pm

Is Venezuela Next? A Conversation with Sergio Sanchez
Monday, 3/5 @ 7pm @ Blegen Hall Rm. 140, U of M West Bank.

The US government has a long history of intervention in Latin America,
protecting US [ruling-class] economic interests. Many wonder if Venezuela
is next. While this may seem unlikely, we can already hear the drumbeat as
the war of words between the White House and Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez heats up. The misinformation in US mass-media now occurs daily.

Hear more from Sergio Sanchez, who came to national prominence in
Venezuela as the spokesperson of a massive Venezuelan student movement. In
addition, he has spoken widely about the role of US involvement and
meddling in Latin America, such as US involvement in the coup in Venezuela
in 2002. He is currently the Director of Research, Planning, and
Implementation at one of Venezuela's newly-created organizations
dedicated to defining and implementing the socialist economy. For more
information contact Patrick at 612.360.1965.

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

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Venezuela/KFAI 3.06 11am

Tue. Mar,6, 11am: Venezuela on KFAI Radio

Tune in to KFAI Radio hear Venezuelan former student organzier SERGIO
SANCHEZ, on a Midwest tour, ralking about what's really happening in
Venezuela. Sanchez was a student organizer who now works in Venezuelan
factories, implementing Hugo Chavez' reforms to make industrial socially
accountable - instead of only for profit. Sanchez will also talk about the
campaign he worked on as a student to resist the privatization of
education - an issue that's becoming more and more relevent in the U.S.,
with the escalation of privatization of everything from prisons to
utilities to public schools.

Tue.Mar,6, 11am on 'Catalyst:politics & culture" on KFAI
90.3fm Mpls 106.7fm St.Paul
LIVE stramiing online

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

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
From: "MICHELL JOHNSON" <dragonfly891 [at]>
Subject: Boomsite/no condos 3.06 6;39PM

The boomsite's future plans." NO more condos!!!!"

Public meeting at William O'Brian State Park on tues. March 6th at 6:30.
This meeting is re: the boomsite's future plans.  If everyone stands by to
do nothing the land could be sold to the highest bidder.  (just what
stillwater needs-more condos!!!!) Please contact everyone you know!!!

Remember that snowflakes are one of the most delecate structures.  But look
what happens when they stick together.
Michele johnson and David Chial

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

From: Impeach For Peace <lists [at]>
Subject: Caucus/impeach 3.06 7pm

Impeach For Peace
Caucus to Impeach - Saint Paul

Next Tuesday, March 6, gather with your neighbors and let your voices be
heard. Attend your precinct caucuses, starting at 7 p.m.

Encourage your neighbors to pass resolutions on the impeachment of
Bush-Cheney. You can also support local candidates who believe we must
pursue impeachment.


From: Andy Hamerlinck <iamandy [at]>

The Green Party of St. Paul will hold a caucus-night gathering for Greens
throughout the 4th Congressional District at 7pm on Tuesday, March 6 at
the Merriam Park public library in St. Paul.

At the event Greens will learn about municipal campaigns and volunteer
opportunities for 2007, including the campaign to bring Instant Runoff
Voting to St. Paul elections.  It will also be an opportunity for Greens
to bring forward new ideas for political opportunities and issues of
concern. Snacks and beverages will be served.

The Merriam Park public library is located at 1831 Marshall Avenue in St.
Paul, at the corner of Marshall Ave and Fairview Ave. It is conveniently
accessed by the 21 bus line. More information about the location can be
found at the library's website:

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

From: joel michael albers <joel [at]>
Subject: Uhcan-mn 3.06 7pm

UHCAN-MN meeting
Tuesday March 6, 2007, 7PM,
Walker Church basement, 3104 16th ave s (in Mpls, near Lake st. and
Bloomington ave).

Agenda items so far:

1. Welcome, intros, background

2. Sheldon Gitis (big thanks to): Media coverage from our Press Conference
w/ U of MN of our MN MD survey(which found broad support of single-payer
UHC). Here is the link to the study:

3.Joel Albers A broad-based network endorsing single-payer UHC IS forming
w/ MN Nurses Assoc. muscle behind it.

4.Ross Thompson, Greg Rudd: Editing sanat/joel HC Film, Everybody In,
Nobody Out

5.Stefanie Levy; Outreach/Ed to youth/student activists about HC reform

6.Jim Cohen, citizen activist and potential US senate candidate; position
on HC reform

7.John Schwarz Legislative update

8.Joel albers, Jan Arleth. Twin Cities Health Fund feasibility update Good
first step toward Single-Payer. People need help, can't depend on

Refreshments provided

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

From: Mizna <mizna-announce [at]>
Subject: Arab film fest 3.06 7pm

Mizna invites you to our Film Festival Preview Party on Tuesday!

Join us for a benefit and preview party to celebrate our upcoming Arab
Film Festival. We will be showing the Egyptian film, "Alexandria Why".
Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival
and directed by Youssef Chahine, it is considered a landmark of Arab
Cinema. "Alexandria...Why?" was widely banned in the Arab World at the
time of its release in 1978.

Prizes given away include certificates to area restaurants, film festival
passes, and more!

March 6, 2007 7:00 pm

The Red Room at the Loring Pasta Bar
327 14th Avenue SE Minneapolis, Minnesota
$10 suggested donation at the door.
Mizna is a forum for Arab American art.

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

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: VenezCubaBolivia 3.06 7pm

TC Meeting on Venezuela,Cuba.Bolivia Solidarity

On April 7 in New York and Los Angeles national/international actions that
call for US Hands off of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Freedom for the
Cuban Five and Puerto Rican Political Prisones will take place.  The
organizing committee has proposed that a regional event should take place
in the Twin Cities on that date. See the link to the website below. The
Minnesota Cuba Committee would like to devote its regularly scheduled
meeting that night to a discussion about what might take place here.
Please attend to do so and let others know about this.

Date: March 6, 7pm; Location: Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 31st Street
and 27th Ave. Minneapolis

In solidarity, August Nimtz MN Cuba Committee MNCuba [at]

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

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: New Orleans arts 3.06 7:30pm

Sounds of Solidarity - A Tribute to the People of New Orleans
Tuesday, March 6
7:30 p.m. in Sundin Music Hall
Hamline University
1536 Hewitt Ave, St Paul, MN

This benefit is a melange of spoken work, hip hop, jazz, poetry, and a
short play by Tony Wilson '08. "Sounds of Solidarity" hopes to inspire,
educate, and activate as New Orleans rebuilds and revives. A sliding scale
donation of $4 or higher is requested to benefit Hamline students going to
New Orleans for hurricane relief work.

Sponsorship: The program is co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Liberal
Arts, College of Liberal Arts English and Sociology departments,
Residential Life, Student Activities and Leadership Development,
Commitment to Community and HEAT.

Service Learning Trips: The Community Service-Learning Investigation Trips
to New Orleans will send 57 students and staff to New Orleans for
hurricane relief work. They will work with Hands On New Orleans at First
Street United Methodist Church, Operation Reach at Xavier University,
United Methodist Committee on Relief, and Mary Queen, a Vietnam Church.
The CSI trips are organized through the Hamline University Office of
Service-Learning and Volunteerism. For info, 651 523 2483

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

From: David Strand <mncivil [at]>
Subject: AIDS action day 3.06

AIDS Action Day 2007
Education. Advocacy. Visibility.

AIDS Action Day is an opportunity for you to meet with your state
legislators to educate them about HIV and to advocate for specific

AIDS Action Day is on Tuesday, March 6, at the State Capitol. Join HIV
advocates from around the state to support honest HIV prevention and to
stop HIV.  Where will you be on March 6? We need you at the Capitol!

Register for AIDS Action Day TODAY!

For more information:

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

Sen. Clinton and Corporate America
Hillary, Inc.
March 3 / 4, 2007

Just as the Democrats could never seem to get a handle on Ronald Reagan in
his sixteen years as Governor of California and President, the Republicans
cannot get a handle on Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

No matter what they tried - and they were admittedly timid - the Democrats
could neither upset, mire, or throw Ronald Reagan on the defensive. He
smiled, shrugged his shoulders and tefloned his way to victory after

The Republicans are flummoxed when it comes to Senator Clinton. They could
not even mount a hardy campaign against her in 2006, leaving a nominal
Yonkers mayor the hapless task to take up the space on the ballot opposite
her. She walked to victory, spending over $35 million in the process.

The reasons why Republicans cannot score points against Clinton is that
she is so much like them on the key corporate power issues. Although she
is on the Armed Services Committee, she took President Eisenhower's
description of the "military-industrial complex" and repeatedly rubber
stamped the massive, bloated, wasteful and corrupt expenditures.

It was not for her to question any redundant weapons systems, no longer
strategically needed in the post-Soviet Union era. It was not for her to
act on the scores of investigative findings by the Government
Accountability Office of the Congress documenting corporate waste, fraud
and abuse and do something about them. Let a thousand weapon systems bloom
was and is her mantra.

The corporate crime wave of the past seven years, draining and looting
trillions of dollars from workers, investors and pension-holders did not
catch her industrious attention either. Notwithstanding the publicized
enforcement efforts of her state's attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, whose
popularity took him to a landslide win for the Governorship, she refused
to extend his efforts in the U.S. Senate by pushing the regulatory
agencies for a necessary crackdown on corporate crime. He gave her the
ultimate political cover, by showing the great public support for his "law
and order" drives, but she lacked the political fortitude and opted
instead for the political cash for her campaigns.

Further contributing to the gigantic government deficit in Washington are
the dozens of programs providing subsidies, handouts and bailouts to large
corporations known as "corporate welfare." One would think that all that
experience in her husband's White House, which she touts routinely, would
have predisposed her to championing cutting corporate welfare that now
amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars a year in an upward
distribution of wealth from the have-littles to the have-lots. No way.
Hillary lets the tax revenues and the tax loopholes grow and the windfalls
swell the coffers of big business.

By this time the Republicans cannot describe her in the least as
"anti-business." Why the junior Senator from New York has done virtually
nothing about the business crimes against the poor in her state,
especially in the inner city where outrageous interest charges on pay-day
loans, predatory lending, redlining, landlord abuses and code violations,
lead and asbestos abound. Many of these financial scams benefit Wall
Street financiers.

What's left for the Republicans to work on? The Iraq war? Senator Clinton
voted for the war resolution and refuses to admit her mistake in so doing.
She remains generally a Democratic Hawk on foreign policy.

What about global corporate trade? She is a fervent backer of the World
Trade Organization and NAFTA, though she now wants to tweak them with some
unenforceable labor and environmental qualifications. The evidence behind
the treaties' supplanting our nation's legitimate sovereignty and
procedural safeguards through these transnational forms of autocratic,
secretive governance, is overwhelming. The evidence that these trade
treaties have cost good industrial jobs, driven down efforts to keep
living wages, and contributed to the country's huge trade deficits is also

Yet Senator Clinton follows the Republicans and neuters what could be the
latter's criticism of any potential demand for renegotiating these
vise-like trade shackles that have led to shipping whole industries to the
communist dictatorship in China.

Moreover, she has co-sponsored bills with Republicans and received their
public praise, including that of former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich.

The new publication, Politico, headlined recently an article by Jim
Vandehei and Carrie Sheffield with the words-"Clinton Presidency May be
Inevitable, Republicans say." Former House Majority leader, Tom DeLay, is
quoted as saying: "If the conservative movement and Republicans don't
understand how massive the Clinton coalition is, she will be the next
president." He should know about massive coalitions.

The article also quotes other Republican Party bigwigs in the same vein.
None of them offered any strategy. Instead they speak generalities that
simply prove the point that Senator Clinton has them neutralized and
nullified by the very brazen scope of her political expediency and

About all these Republican operatives could offer is that a Hillary
presidency would prod and shock conservative foot soldiers into action.
Such an attitude means capitulation for 2008.

Ralph Nader is the author of The Seventeen Traditions

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

Who Owns Whom?
The Democrats and the Peace Movement
March 3 / 4, 2007

Rep. Chris Van Hollen is the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign
Committee. It is his job to preserve and expand the Democrats majority in
Congress in 2008. Rep. Van Hollen is also my congressman. So, this week
when he held a town hall meeting I was paying close attention to his
message on the Iraq War.

>From his talk it is quite clear what they Democrats want. They want the
peace movement to work for the Democratic Party rather than the Democratic
Party representing the peace movement.

At the meeting there were signs held in the audience urging "use the power
of the purse to end the war" and "support vets not war" and people in the
audience held "defund the war" signs. A mother of a vet, Tina Richards,
whose son is getting ready to return for his third tour of duty in Iraq,
read a poem by her son that explained why he works for peace and described
his despair, his thoughts of suicide and the horrors he saw in Iraq.
When she urged a cut-off of funds the audience of several hundred cheered

But, Rep. Van Hollen, who is the head of the Democratic Congressional
Campaign Committee did not commit to not voting to fund the war. Instead
he pointed to the recent non-binding resolution passed by the House
opposing the "surge" as a first step. He highlighted how the Republicans
blocked even a vote on that in the Senate. He reminded people that he
opposed the war and voted against the use of force resolution. (But, he
didn't mention how he has voted for all of the $420 billion in funding for
the war.) He concluded to end the war we need to build a political
movement because we could not stop the war with the current Democratic
majorities in Congress.

The Democrats seem to think the Iraq War is the "goose that lays the
golden votes." They hope it is the golden goose that will expand their
majorities and bring them the presidency. Keeping the war going, while
showing their opposition through non-binding votes, criticizing Bush and
conducting high profile hearings that point to the corruption of the
administration as well as the mistakes of the commander-in-chief will get
them more votes than ending the war. The Democrats can point to the
Republicans as the problem and highlight Bush's reckless leadership as
commander-in-chief and say "elect us."

The Democrats say they must support the supplemental because they need to
"support the troops." But we all know the purpose of the supplemental is
not to support the troops but to continue the war, and to send more troops
into an unwinnable quagmire that is not supported by the American or Iraqi
people. We need a real discussion of what can be done to support the
troops and stabilize Iraq but can only get to that discussion if the
Democrats use the power they were given by the American voters in 2006.

The truth is the Democrats have the power to end the war now. They have a
majority in the House that could, if it wanted, refuse to fund the stay
the course, with a slight escalation, budget the president has requested.
If the House refused to fund the war that would be the end of it as
President Bush cannot veto a non-appropriation.

And, if the House showed the courage and leadership then the Senate
Democrats could follow with a filibuster of the appropriation in the
Senate - it only takes 41 of their 51 members to agree - and both Houses
would have rejected continuing to go deeper into the Iraq war quagmire.

Only one House is required to stop the war but the Democrats have enough
power in either wing of the Congress to vote against continuing the war.
If the Democrats fail to stop the war it is no longer Bush's war it is
"the Democrats Iraq War." They will have bought a lost war from President
Bush and should be held responsible by the voters for the result.

Once the Democrats say "no" to the supplemental they can start a real
discussion of what it would take to support the troops and bring stability
to Iraq - without a military occupation which is according to DoD reports
the root cause of the violence.

If the Democrats showed the leadership voters want the debate would be
about how to get out of Iraq in way that is rapid and responsible, in a
way that reduces the risk of violence and bloodshed in Iraq and brings
U.S. troops home safely. Then, the Democrats would be representing the
views of American voters and fulfilling the mandate of the 2006 election.
And through the appropriations process, led by Subcommittee Chairman Jack
Murtha, the Democrats could develop a responsible exit strategy that would
rapidly get U.S. troops out of Iraq and put in place strategies that would
be likely to reduce the violence in Iraq and bring stability to the
region, i.e. the rebuilding of Iraq by Iraqis, a regional stabilization
force to work with a new Iraqi government and a surge in diplomatic
efforts in the region.

The question for the anti-war movement - which includes a majority of the
American public, a super majority in the Democratic Party and has shown
its political muscle in 2006 -is do they work for the Democratic Party?
Or, do they work for peace? It is likely going to be impossible to do both
unless the Democratic Party leadership rapidly changes course.

Kevin Martin, the director of Peace Action put forward the clear demands
of the peace movement in a memorandum earlier this week: "our message and
demands are simple and clear - end the occupation, stop voting to spend
our tax dollars on the war, and support our troops by bringing them home
to the warm embrace of their families as soon as possible."

The anti-war movement should demand that the Democratic Party work for us!
They would not be the majority party if it were not for the peace voter.
The Democratic Party needs to know that the peace voter realizes that the
Democrats have the power to end the war. If they fail to do so anti-war
voters will not give their votes to politicians who fail to end the war.

The only way for voters opposed to the war to get the Democratic Party to
work for us is to let them know that the price of our vote is for them to
end this war.

Kevin Zeese is Director of Democracy Rising and co-founder of

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

The Slavish Congress
American Mamlukes
March 3 / 4, 2007

It is a fact little known in the West, outside the circle of historians of
Islamicate societies, that Islamicate states often employed soldiers and
bureaucrats who were 'slaves' of the king or emperor.

Commonly, these 'slaves' were recruited as young boys: they were levied
from the ranks of the ruler's Christian subjects or bought as 'slaves'
from areas outside the Islamicate world. These 'slaves' were converted to
Islam, tested, sorted by aptitude, and given an education that prepared
them for employment in the service of the sovereign. The smartest 'slaves'
could became generals or rise to the highest ranks in the civilian

'Slaves' we call these members of the emperor's household because they
were the property of the emperor: in Arabic, mamlukes. But how appropriate
is this description? Aside from the manner in which they were recruited,
however, these mamlukes had little in common with the slaves who worked
the plantations in the Americas. More appropriately, they were life-time
employees in the service of the emperor. Ernest Gellner has drawn
attention to the parallels between these 'slaves' and today's wage

These 'slave' soldiers were first employed by the Abbasids, but with time
their use spread to other states. In Egypt, these 'slaves' captured power
in 1250, but continued their reliance on other mamlukes. This institution
was put to its best use by the Ottomans, the longest enduring empire in
Islamic history.

How did the institution of mamlukes come to form the mainstay of several
states in Islamic history?

Our explanation will strike most Westerners as improbable. The Islamicate
rulers had hit upon the idea of employing 'slaves' as a solution to the
difficulties of governance in egalitarian societies. This egalitarianism
was the gift of ecology. The Bedouin who lived off the deserts of the
Middle East could not be tied to a master or a piece of land; his camels
and the vast deserts did not allow this. Over time, through migrations and
conquests, the Bedouins imprinted their egalitarian ethos on the settled
societies of the Middle East.

Once the Bedouins - and, later, horse nomads - created their own states or
empires in the Middle East and Europe, the ruling dynasty found it
difficult to retain the loyalty of the tribesmen in their army and
administration. Challenges to the ruling dynasty were all too frequent
since there were few barriers of hierarchy to restrain the ambitious
members of their own or related tribes. Raised in an egalitarian ethos,
ambitious and gifted tribesmen were easily persuaded that they had an
equal right to kingship.

In time, some rulers learned to circumvent these challenges by replacing
their tribesmen - their equals - with 'slaves' trained for service in the
army and bureaucracy. The slaves were hired when they were young; they
were recruited from alien populations to ensure their status as outsiders,
without a local constituency; they were trained in loyalty to the emperor;
and the most talented 'slaves' had unlimited opportunities for
advancement. In short, the mamluke system ensured that the slaves had few
resources or incentives to challenge their master. The state had solved
its loyalty problem: it had manufactured a class of loyal, life-time
'slave' employees.

Is the mamluke system specific to the ecology of arid and semi-arid lands
and the nomadic life they support? The evidence indicates that this system
was a solution primarily to the problems of disloyalty that had their
roots in an egalitarian ethos: its connections to the sources of this
ethos in nomadic life are more tenuous. Arguably, then, whenever rulers
confront an egalitarian society, giving rise to frequent challenges to
their power from below, they will seek to circumvent these challenges by
creating institutions that serve the same functions as the mamluke system.

Can we discern any parallels to this mamluke system in the modern Western
societies as they moved from the hierarchy of feudalism to more open,
egalitarian societies created by the growing dominance of capitalist
institutions? In the decentralized polities of feudal Europe, with power
vested in the hands of thousands of large landowners, the primary problems
of governance were keeping down the serfs and checking the ambition of
rival landowners. However, as feudal Europe moved towards the formation of
stronger states - facilitated by the greater use of gunpowder - and they
needed larger standing armies, it became too risky to hire serfs to do the
fighting. Serfs with training in guns could raise rebellions. They
preferred to rely upon foreign mercenaries: they were more dependable
because they were outsiders, and when disbanded they would return to their
homes beyond the territory of the king.

Citizen armies appeared in Europe's emerging nation states when techniques
of the military drill were slowly perfected during the seventeenth
century. The drill helped to mould the serfs into malleable tools,
disciplined, obedient, and trained in loyalty to the king and the nation.
Over time, as nationalist indoctrination was joined to the drill, the
risks of rebellions from citizen armies diminished. They became the norm
over much of Europe. Modern Europe acquired its 'slave' armies with help
from the drill and nationalist ideologies.

When industrial capitalism produced democratizing forces in society, a
variety of mechanisms came into play to minimize the risk of challenges
from below as the vote was extended downwards. On the one hand, the
'drill' was refined and expanded: to its existing tools were added
schooling, wage work and rising consumption. Schooling indoctrinated the
electorate in the 'benefits' of citizenship. Wage work added threats of
joblessness and privation. Addiction to consumerism blocked out the anger
over inequities. It also kept the consumer toiling as hard or harder than
before to pay for new consumer goods.

Neutralizing the newly empowered citizens was not enough: the
representatives they voted into government would have to be neutered. It
is far easier to cover election expenses by taking money from those with
deep pockets - the corporations and lobbies - than raising money from the
voters. As election expenses rose, the discipline that corporations and
lobbies exercised over the elected representatives deepened; they began to
pick and put them into office.

Unlike the mamlukes, the senators and representatives in the US Congress
are not captured as slaves from neighboring countries. In practice,
however, their interests are so closely tied to those of their 'owners' -
the corporations and lobbies - that they retain precious little interest
in the concerns of the people who vote them into office. Indeed, when we
examine the loyalty with which they render their services to their true
'owners,' the dead Ottoman emperors might well envy the system of
representation that produces these American mamlukes.

Thus, two egalitarian systems - the Islamicate and American - had produced
similar responses to the challenge of power from below: they instituted
two close variants of the mamluke system.

M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University, and
author of Challenging the New Orientalism: Dissenting Essays on America's
'War Against Islam' (IPI Publications). He may be reached at
alqalam02760 [at]

Visit his website at:
 M. Shahid Alam.

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

Vermont Puts Impeachment on the Table
by John Nichols
Published on Saturday, March 3, 2007 by The Nation

NEWFANE, Vermont - Cindy Sheehan and I are traveling Vermont this weekend,
stopping in close to a dozen towns from Burlington to Brattleboro, to talk
about why we think the president and vice president should be impeached -
and the essential role that Vermonters are playing in the process. We come
not to tell the people of Vermont how to vote on impeachment resolutions
at two dozen town meetings next week. That would be not just presumptuous
but foolish. Frankly, the Vermont voters who have given America George
Aiken, Ralph Flanders, Jim Jeffords, Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders do
not need any advice from us about how to make political choices.

Rather, we come to celebrate the wisdom of local activists Dan DeWalt,
Ellen Tenney and the thousands of others who have chosen to embrace a
Jeffersonian vision of how Americans relate to their federal government,
and to take a little of that wisdom back to the rest of the country.

It was Thomas Jefferson who observed more than two hundred years ago that,
"Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic."

It was Jefferson, as well, who asked of those who would inherit that
republic: "But will they keep it?"

The answer to that question, for this particular moment in history, will
come from the Vermont town meetings that debate calls for the impeachment
of President Bush and Vice President Cheney next Tuesday. Last year, seven
towns voted to impeach. This year, the numbers will multiply dramatically
- and town meetings in the neighboring states of New Hampshire and
Massachusetts are taking it up, as well, this spring.

No, decisions made in town meetings across the Green Mountain State will
not, in and of themselves, restore the republic - which, rather than the
punishment of individual men, is the purpose of impeachment. But, as
Americans in towns and cities across this great country despair at the
determination of their president to surge the country deeper into the
quagmire that is Iraq and react with horror at courtroom revelations about
the manner in which their vice president has used his office to manage
attacks on the reputations and livelihoods of an administration critic and
his spouse, Vermont can signal to the nation that there is an appropriate
response to the crisis.

More importantly, Vermont can put that response - impeachment - back on
the table for use by the American people and their Congress. The attention
to the votes cast by Vermonters will remind Americans that the founders
did not intend for the people or their representatives to allow any
president or vice president to act as "a king for four years."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was wrong to suggest, as she did during the
heat of last fall's election campaign, that impeachment was "off the

No section of the Constitution can or should be rendered inoperable by any
politician - even a well-intentioned one.

The Constitution does not belong to the politicians. It belongs to all of
us. And the medicines it prescribes for the ailments of the body politic
are ours to administer.

Jefferson argued that all power must ultimately rest with the people,
believing that citizens at the grassroots would always be better suited
than politicians in Washington to recognize the point at which friends of
the republic must defend its democratic aspirations and the rule of law
that underpins them. "It behooves our citizens to be on their guard, to be
firm in their principles, and full of confidence in themselves," the
author of the Declaration of Independence explained. "We are able to
preserve our self-government if we will but think so."

Jefferson believed that the process of impeachment would at times begin
outside of Washington, with petitions from the states. His manual for the
conduct of Congress, written in 1800 and adhered to this day, mandates
that Congress must accept such petitions and give them due consideration.
Hence, the votes cast at town meetings across Vermont Tuesday can extend
beyond symbolism. If the Vermont legislature responds to the message from
the voters by conveying to Congress articles of impeachment, as several
legislators have suggested it should, the struggle to hold the president
and vice president to account will have been advanced. If Vermont's
representative in the U.S. House, Peter Welch, chooses to so respond, he
can introduce articles of impeachment incorporating language from the
resolutions adopted at Vermont's town meetings.

As the mother of a slain soldier who has proven that one person can
confront the most powerful man in the world and be heard, and as an author
who has spent a lifetime examining the interplay between people and power,
we come to Vermont to say that the impeachment process really can begin in
the town halls and community centers of this state.

And, we are arguing, this is exactly as the founders intended.

The authors of the American experiment had a deep and healthy distrust of
concentrated power, especially when that power was held by a regal figure,
be he identified as king or president. They crafted a Constitution that
made no mention of God, corporations or political parties. They made no
effort to establish a process for nominating candidates for the
presidency, and gave only the barest outlines for the selection of the
commander-in-chief - an electoral college was established, but little
preparation was made for how or when the electors would be chosen, let
alone who would do the choosing.

The founders figured that the American people would figure out how to
choose their leaders.

They feared, however, that after the selection process was done, Americans
would forget that they have the power - and, indeed, the responsibility -
to remove executives who transgress against not just the law but the rule
of law. The oath that the president and vice president take binds them to
"preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." A
failure to do so, as identified by the people and acted upon by their
elected representatives, forms the basis for sound articles of

President Bush and Vice President Cheney have, with their manipulation of
intelligence in a scheme to launch an unnecessary preemptive war, with
their repeated refusals to cooperate with a Congress that is supposed to
serve as a coequal branch of government, with their assaults on scientific
inquiry in order to prevent a fact-based discussion of global warming by
that Congress and the American people, with their violations of laws that
prevent presidents from ordering secret spying on the American people, and
with their abuses of positions of public trust to punish critics of the
administration's policies have failed to "preserve, protect, and defend
the Constitution of the United States."

They have created a Constitutional crisis.

Now, it is suggested that those who would address the crisis with the
tools afforded them by the founders are doing harm to the political
process and perhaps the nation. The claim that impeachment represents a
dangerous diversion from the work of nations is at odds with everything we
know and love about our country.

No less an American than James Madison said, after assuring that the
Constitution would include a broad authority to sanction members of the
executive branch, observed that "... it may, perhaps, on some occasion, be
found necessary to impeach the President himself..." The occasion has
arrived. The necessary arguments for the impeachment of the president -
and the vice president - have been identified. That Vermonters are among
the first to recognize the circumstance does not surprise us. Rather, it
inspires us. This is why we have come: to share in a great democratic
moment, and to carry the faith forward to other Americans in other states.
It is the faith of the founders, a faith that is being restored by the
people of Vermont.

John Nichols, The Nation's Washington correspondent, has covered
progressive politics and activism in the United States and abroad for more
than a decade. John Nichols' new book is The Genius of Impeachment: The
Founders' Cure for Royalism.

 2007 The Nation


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