|Progressive Calendar 04.03.07||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2007 03:39:45 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 04.03.07 1. Nader/impeach 4.03 11am 2. Spike Lee NO film 4.03 6:30pm 3. Vs Ramstad/Iraq 4.04 12noon 4. Pakistan/Afghan 4.04 3:30pm 5. Vs Ramstad/Iraq 4.04 7pm 6. Cole/internet 4.05 4pm 7. NWN4P-NewHope 4.05 4:30pm 8. Eagan peace vigil 4.05 4:30pm 9. Northtown vigil 4.05 5pm 10. Health/MNLeg rpt 4.05 6:30pm 11. EFC's food forum 4.05 6:30pm 12. Energy dialogue 4.05 7pm 13. Bucky Fuller 4.05 7pm 14. MacTacoLand/play 4.05 8pm 15. Stephen Fleischman - Winners and losers; a dog-eat-dog system 16. Sherwood Ross - Pentagon v vets re medical care/disability pay 17. Amy Belanger - Reflections on the Nader-Camejo campaign (2004) 18. Gabriel Ash - Venezuela: the times they are a-changin' --------1 of 18-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Nader/impeach 4.03 11am Tue.April 3, 11am on "Catalyst:politics & Culture" on KFAI RADIO 90.3fm Mpls 106.7fm St. Paul (and any day now the website will be back up! at http://www.kfai.org Tune in to hear Mikel Rudolf of Impeach for Peace and Michael Cavlan, Mn Green Pary candidate for U.S. Senate, talk about the grassroots movement to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheny. Why is it important to push for what Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has "taken off the table"? What is the basis for impeaching Bush? what are the implications of NOT doing so? This is part one of a conversation that will be aired through April. Also: hear some great archival speeches from RALPH NADER! to get you tuned in to the new documentary film AN UNREASONABLE MAN - screening from now until Thursday, April 5th ONLY at Lagoon Cinema in uptown Minneapolis. The distribution company will be deciding what other cities get a chance to see this film BASED on how well it does here - and the smear campagin by democrats against Nader, makes this film a reality-check NOT to miss! KFAI's Spring 2007 Pledge Drive is April 14-28. Tune in to the Catalyst Pledge Drive editoins on Tuesdays April 17 and 24 and consider pledging for community radio! (612)375-9030 is the pledge Drive number. Lydia Howell, host of "Catalyst" --------2 of 18-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Spike Lee film 4.03 6:30pm HI, The Salon tomorrow night will be showing the HBO Spike Lee Film, When the Levees Broke. Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) are held (unless otherwise noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 W 7th, St Paul, MN Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information. --------3 of 18-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Vs Ramstad/Iraq 4.04 12noon Wednesday, 4/4, noon to 1 pm, Congressman Jim Ramstad hosts Town Hall meeting to talk about Iraq, Southdale Library, 7001 York, Edina. Rabbas [at] usinternet.com --------4 of 18-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Pakistan/Afghan 4.04 3:30pm Wednesday, 4/4, 3:30 to 5:30 pm, U of Michigan Middle East prof Juan Cole speaks on "Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations and the Taliban Resurgence," room 125, Nolte Center for Continuing Education, 315 Pillsbury Dr SE, Mpls. --------5 of 18-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Vs Ramstad/Iraq 4.04 7pm Wednesday, 4/4, 7 to 8 pm, Congressman Jim Ramstad hosts Town Hall meeting to talk about Iraq, Wayzata City Hall, 600 Rice, Wayzata. Rabbas [at] usinternet.com (Come early and bring signs to protest in front of the meeting places.) --------6 of 18-------- From: Kelly O'Brien <obrie136 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Cole/internet 4.05 4pm Juan Cole, commentator, blogger and University of Michigan Middle East/South Asian history professor Thursday, April 5, 4:00 p.m. speaking on "The Internet, the Public Intellectual, and the 'War on Terror'" Institute for Advanced Study, 125 Nolte Center, 315 Pillsbury Drive SE, University of Minnesota east bank Free and open to the public FFI: Institute for Advanced Study, 612-626-5054 Directions/parking: http://www1.umn.edu/twincities/maps/NCCE/ Juan Cole, 'blogger, commentator, and professor of Middle East and South Asian history at University of Michigan, will speak at the University of Minnesota Institute for Advanced Study on Thursday, April 5 at 4:00 p.m. His talk, "The Internet, the Public Intellectual, and the 'War on Terror,'" will address the role of intellectuals at a time when internet use intersects with U.S. government security concerns. The internet has opened up new ways for intellectuals to interact with the general public, allowing them to sidestep the gatekeepers that had often marginalized university and college teachers. At the same time, the U.S. faces new asymmetrical warfare - while U.S. government policies have been increasingly reckless abroad and corrupt at home. Does this conjuncture of national danger with new possibilities for civic dialogue place any special responsibilities on intellectuals to become public? What are the perils and promises of renegotiating the relationship between academics and the political sphere? Juan Cole is well known as a commentator on Middle East issues, especially Iraq, Iran and Israel, for media outlets including Washington Post, Le Monde Diplomatique, The Guardian, Lehrer News Hour, Nightline, the Today Show, Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, Al Jazeera, and CNN Headline News. He is also an award-winning 'blogger, sharing his thoughts on the situations in the Middle East in his highly-ranked "Informed Comment" weblog at www.juancole.com. --------7 of 18-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NWN4P-NewHope 4.05 4:30pm Beginning with April 5th, NWN4P will hold weekly demonstrations on Thursday, 4:30-6 PM, at the corner of Winnetka and 42nd Avenue N. in New Hope. You may park near Walgreens or the lot by McDonald's. For more information, Carole nwn4p [at] yahoo.org. The Saturday demonstrations in Minnetonka will contiue to be at 11-noon, near Highways 101 and 7, in front of Target in Minnetonka. --------8 of 18-------- From: Greg and Sue Skog <skograce [at] mtn.org> Subject: Eagan peace vigil 4.05 4:30pm CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south of the river speaking out against war. --------9 of 18-------- From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 4.05 5pm NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. We'll have extra signs. For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com. --------10 of 18-------- From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: Health/MN Leg rpt 4.05 6:30pm A Green Party of StPaul forum Kip Sullivan reports on MN 2007 health care legislation. Thursday April 5 6:30-8:45pm Merriam Park Library (corner of Marshall & Fairview in St Paul) Kip Sullivan is a locally-based nationally-recognized/published writer and speaker on health care funding. He will discuss legislation introduced in the 2007 session of the state legislature that was supported by single-payer advocates in Minnesota. These bills include legislation to: create a single-payer universal coverage system, remove HMOs from MinnesotaCare and other state health insurance programs, develop a health insurance purchasing pool that bypasses insurance companies, cover all children. He will explain what a single-payer system is and why single-payer advocates see the legislation to remove HMOs from state programs as an important step toward single-payer. He will discuss his conclusion that the legislation to cover all children (the Children's Health Security Act) will create a serious obstacle to the single-payer campaign if it is enacted in its current form. This is the first of several forums on health care MN 2007 to be sponsored by the Green Party of StPaul/4CD. Contact: David Shove 651-636-5672 shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu --------11 of 18-------- From: tom [at] organicconsumers.org Subject: EFC's food forum 4.05 6:30pm The Eastside Food Co-op continues its Food Forums series on THIS Thursday, April 5th with organic farmer Greg Reynolds. Eastside Food Co-op's Food Forum Series Greg Reynolds from Riverbend Farm NE Library, 2200 Central Ave NE, Mpls (located on the #10 bus line) April 5th, 6:30-8:00 PM We all eat, no? Greg will share with us what goes in and what does NOT go into organic farming and what life is like on his farm. Come ask questions and find out what is happening on the field end of our field to fork connections. Greg Reynolds has been growing produce at Riverbend Farm in Delano, MN since 1992 and has been certified organic since 1994. You may have purchased some of Greg's organic radishes, arugula, eggplant, potatoes, or spinach at Eastside Food Co-op or dined on his produce in some of the finer restaurants in the Twin Cities like The Modern CafĂ©, The Craftsman, Restaurant Alma, The Birchwood, Lucia's, CafĂ© Brenda or The May Day Cafe. We will have light refreshments, stimulating information and a future of good local food to help sustain and enjoy. Come with questions (there are no stupid ones), an open, inquisitive mind and bring a friend. Please feel free to spread the word by forwarding this on to anyone that may be interested, wants to learn about local food from sustainable family farms, the challenges involved and anybody you know that eats. Questions? Call the East Side Food Co-op - 612-788-0950. http://www.eastsidefood.coop/ We hope you can make it and remember . . . Just because it's educational doesn't mean it can't be fun! Tom Taylor Eastside Food co-op http://www.eastsidefood.coop/ --------12 of 18-------- From: Elizabeth Dickinson <eadickinson [at] mindspring.com> Subject: Energy dialogue 4.05 7pm You are invited to join an Energy Dialogue with Becca Brown, Program Manager at Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), a nonprofit group based in Washington DC, with chapters in Minnesota and many other states. CGS is starting a new Energy Initiative and is seeking feedback from Twin Cities community leaders working on energy, environment, security, and development issues. The CGS Energy Initiative aims to get the US to work in partnership with other nations to develop energy solutions that are good for the environment, development, and security. This means, for example: o transitioning from fossil fuel dependence towards sustainable energy sources o ensuring that poor countries have access to clean and safe energy without exacerbating global warming or local ecosystem damage o ambitious domestic action on climate change Ms. Brown and local CGS chapter leaders will facilitate a dialogue on shaping national-level strategy and messaging to change how people think and talk about energy. Our dialogue will explore how to build political will among the public and policy makers in order to realize a positive energy future. Why should you participate in this Energy Dialogue? 1. You will network with other local groups and people working on energy, environment, development & security issues. 2. You will be a part of developing a national campaign. 3. You will get to meet and connect with national staff of Citizens for Global Solutions. 4. You might even get some great ideas for your own work. About Citizens for Global Solutions: CGS is a national, non- partisan membership organization that works to foster positive US engagement in the world. CGS envisions a future in which nations work together to abolish war, protect our rights and freedoms, and solve the problems facing humanity that no one nation can solve alone. www.globalsolutionsmn.org If you will participate in the Energy Dialogue, please RSVP to Lisa Ledwidge, CGS-Minnesota, so we are sure to have enough snacks and seats: lisa.l [at] mindspring.com or 612-722-9700. --------13 of 18-------- From: Curt McNamara <mcnam025 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Bucky Fuller 4.05 7pm Minneapolis College of Art and Design 2501 Stevens Ave. S. Thursday, April 5 7 p.m. Free! The World of Buckminster Fuller The LA Free Press called this film "the definitive, synthesized lecture by one of the great teachers and minds of our time, transcribed in sight and sound." Includes footage of the Dymaxion Car, Dymaxion House and Expo 67 dome. (1974, 85 min.) This screening will be held in the College Center and will be followed by a panel discussion with working sustainable-design professionals and faculty members. --------14 of 18-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: MacTaco Land/play 4.05 8pm Presenting the World Premiere of MacTaco Land at The Loading Dock Theatre Teatro del Pueblo's world premiere of MacTaco Land is coming! This is a very exciting production for us, as we prepare to present company generated material for the first time in over ten years. MacTaco Land deals with the struggles of two Latino brothers in a small Minnesotan town who must determine the fate of their family diner amid the pressures of globalization after their father's death. Loosely inspired by the book "Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser. MacTaco Land Performing April 5-22, 2007 PREVIEW: April 5 & 6 at 8pm, BOTH Pay-What-You- Can*! April 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21 at 8pm April 8, 15, & 22 at 7pm April 15 & 22 at 2pm Tickets: $18 General, $14 Students/ Seniors/Fringe 5 chances to Pay-What-You-Can*! April 5, 6, 8, 12, & 19 $8 recommended donation, no reservations for Pay- What-You-Can For reservations call our box office line at 651-225 -8106 or email teatrom [at] bitstream.net; For more information visit us at www.teatrodelpueblo.org Usher and see the show for FREE! Volunteers still needed! The Loading Dock Theater 509 Sibley St, St. Paul, MN 55104 email: teatrom [at] bitstream.net phone: 651-224-8806 web: http://www.teatrodelpueblo.org --------15 of 18-------- Winners and Losers A Dog-Eat-Dog System By STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN CounterPunch April 2, 2007 There are winners and losers, an old, bearded, 19th Century economist told us once. That's the way the system works. Capitalists have been chewing each other up since the Industrial Revolution, said Karl Marx, world famous analyst of "the system", and the battle of mergers and acquisitions still goes on. Dog eat dog. There are always a few good men left at the table; but winners grow increasingly fewer and richer. There are now 946 billionaires in the world, according to Forbes, and 371 of them are in the United States with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett topping the list with $56 billion and $52 billion respectively. So, we wind up with a few winners, a lot of losers, and a plethora of monopolies and oligopolies. You can see it everywhere in our economy, today. In the main stream media, five or six oligopolies control just about everything we read, see, hear and think. Multi-national corporations own most of the means of production, distribution and retail trade. The concentration of capital displaced the handworker and the crafts-worker. Hitching the computer to the assembly line, called cybernation, has further exploded production. Independent producers have been eliminated by cybernetic competition. Mom and Pop operations have gotten lost in the shuffle. Capitalism reverses the law of gravity, with money flowing up instead of down. As the rich become richer, the poor have children. With the explosion in technology, productivity of labor is going through the roof. But the purchasing power of the laborer is falling through the floor. We can't keep that up for long. When workers can't afford to buy the things they make and their jobs are siphoned out of the country "with a giant sucking sound" as one former sage put it, the economy goes flatter than a bad souffle. The last time it happened we had a sudden deflation and a persistent depression we could barely crawl out of even with the stimulus of World War II. Our economic system is under stress, again. We can't seem to keep it afloat without massive production of military hardware. That could be one reason George Bush tries to keep us in a state of perpetual war. Our military budget has reached $532 billion for 2007; with another half trillion for the cost of the Afghanistan and Iraq War. (Not to mention the human costs.) Why? It isn't producing better schools or improving infrastructure or providing social services for the people who need it in this country. The Bush Administration claims to be exporting democracy while killing it here. The Rovian brainchild, the "war on terror", was devised to keep us shadow-boxing with fear. Even though that concept is finally running out of steam, there is no "loyal opposition" in this country to drive a stake through its heart. (Where is a vampiric Democratic Party, now that we really need one?) Let's get back to basics. Why is Marxist economics never, or almost never, mentioned or discussed in the mainstream media? Absolut Verboten! You won't be brainwashed into becoming an ideologue if you examine it, but you might get an idea or two that makes sense to you. One of the reasons for our backwardness may be explained by the failure of our labor movement (when we had one) to become politicized. The closest we came was the emergence of John L. Lewis and the organization of the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) and the sit-down strikes of 1936 and 1937. Still, the orientation of the labor movement was stuck in economic issues, (hours, wages, benefits) and they left the politics to the Democratic Party where they thought they had a front row seat under the big tent. Too bad. Seats are easy to lose, as the workers of America found out. We never had a real political Labor Party in this country, fighting for the rights of labor, minorities and the common people, as there are in many of the other industrialized democracies in the world. Several attempts were made in earlier days; the Farmer Labor Party and the Progressive Party in the time of Robert La Follette and Gene Debs. But they never got off the ground. The country was too new. It was too full of rugged individualists and a few robber barons. Still, Capitalism had its day. It promoted the greatest economic development in human history; the upper, middle and skilled working class enjoyed most of its benefits, still a minority of the population. It left masses of people out in the cold. So where is the class struggle? Don't look, it's there. We're not talking about social classes now. Just for the hell of it, let's call them the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Oh, so you don't think they exist? Well, now ... Are you a member of the proletariat and earn your livelihood by selling your labor power and being paid a wage or salary for your labor time? Or are you a member of the bourgeoisie and get your income, not from your labor, but from the labor appropriated from the workers who created the wealth in the form of surplus value? The income of capitalists, in the form of profits, is based on their exploitation of the workers. And that's a fact. Not all class struggle is violent or necessarily radical. The strike is the classic form of class struggle by workers in a union. It may also be expressed on a larger scale by support of political causes and the fight for a Labor Party. Some form of Socialist government may be its ultimate goal. On the employers' side, union-busting and lobbying for anti-union laws are their main forms of carrying on the class struggle. Not all class struggle is a threat to capitalism or even to the authority of an individual capitalist. You want a revolution? Well, you're going to have to first let Capitalism dig its own grave. A little understood thesis of Marx is that Socialist revolution doesn't come from the outside. It only happens when the system in power can no longer fulfill the needs of the masses. It's in the process of digging the hole now. We may not have too long to wait. Stephen Fleischman, television writer-director-producer, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC, starting in 1953. In 1959, he participated in the formation of the renowned Murrow-Friendly "CBS Reports" series. In 1983, Fleischman won the prestigious Columbia University-DuPont Television Journalism Award. In 2004, he wrote his memoir. See: http://www.ARedintheHouse.com/, E-mail: stevefl [at] ca.rr.com [ed: Time to admit that capitalism sucks - war, poverty, anti-democracy, pain and suffering; degradation of humanity and human potential. Time to admit that the capitalist parties (you know which they are) suck, and move on. Contemporary capitalism has the anti-Midas touch - everything it touches soon turns to death and destruction, all for the power and glory of a tiny group of undeserving billionaire families. This is the same group that has has tried to brainwash us into not thinking or speaking thoughts like the above. The cats don't want the mice to wise up. :ed] --------16 of 18-------- Worse Than Spitting on Them? How the Pentagon Cheats Iraq Vets Out of Medical Care and Disability Pay By SHERWOOD ROSS CounterPunch April 2, 2007 Over the past six years, some 22,500 soldiers have been discharged on grounds of "personality disorder" - a condition that can be alleged to have existed prior to their tour of duty - thus absolving the Pentagon of its obligation to provide their medical care and pay their benefits. A six-month investigation by reporter Joshua Kors for the April 9th "The Nation" magazine learned of "multiple cases" in which "soldiers wounded in Iraq are suspiciously diagnosed as having a personality disorder, then prevented from collecting benefits." According to Kors, "The conditions of their discharge have infuriated many in the military community, including the injured soldiers and their families, veterans' rights groups, even military officials required to process these dismissals." They say the military is purposely misdiagnosing soldiers "to cheat them out of a lifetime of disability and medical benefits, thereby saving billions in expenses." With an average disability payment of about $8,900 a year and a medical cost of about $5,000 per year over a 40-year period per soldier, separating 22,500 of them would save the Pentagon $8-billion in disability pay and $4.5-billion in medical care over their lifetimes, the article says. Specialist Jon Town, of Findlay, Ohio, was separated on a "personality disorder" diagnosis even though in October, 2004, a 107-millimeter rocket struck two feet over his head as he stood in the doorway of his battalion's headquarters in Ramadi, Iraq. Town's ears were leaking blood from the blast and rocket shrapnel was removed from his neck. The blast caused substantial deafness, and he suffers from memory failure and depression as well. Inexplicably, doctors at Fort Carson, Colo., diagnosed Town with "personality disorder", depriving him of disability and medical benefits. Russell Terry, founder of the Iraq War Veterans Organization pointed out that each soldier is screened psychologically when they join the military and asks, "if all these soldiers really did have a severe pre-existing condition, how did they get into the military in the first place?" In the last six years, according to "The Nation," the Army alone has diagnosed and discharged more than 5,600 soldiers because of personality disorder, and their numbers continue to rise. Between January and November of last year, 1,086 soldiers were discharged on such grounds. One military official who was not identified told Kors, "It's like, suddenly everybody (on my base) has a personality disorder. They're saving a buck. And they're saving the VA money too. It's all about money." In the case of veteran Town, he was told to give back the bulk of his $15,000 enlistment bonus and left Ft. Carson owing the government more than $3,000. According to the magazine, Fort Carson psychologist Mark Wexler assured Town he would receive disability benefits, VA medical care, and would get to keep his bonus. When he found out he was being discharged empty-handed, Town said, "It was a total shock. I felt like I'd been betrayed by the Army." When asked if doctors at Fort Carson were assuring patients set for a 5-13 pre-existing condition discharge they would receive benefits, Colonel Steven Knorr, Wexler's boss, replied, "I don't believe they're doing that." Other veterans contacted by Kors, however, said military doctors tried to force the diagnosis upon them and turned a blind eye to physical ailments and post traumatic stress disorder symptoms. Army Specialist William Wooldridge said he struck and killed a young girl who was pushed in front of his ammunition truck in Iraq and has heard voices and suffered hallucinations ever since. He was discharged with "personality disorder" but 18 months later a review board in Memphis voided that 5-13 dismissal, stating his PTSD was so severe he was, in fact, "totally disabled." Another veteran, Chris Mosier, of Des Moines, Iowa, put a note on the front door of his home saying the Iraqis were after him and then shot himself. His mother, Linda, said her son's problems began in Iraq when a truck in front of his was blown up by a roadside bomb and the men inside were burned alive. "He was there at the end to pick up the hands and arms," Ms. Mosier said. "They take a normal kid, he comes back messed up, then nobody was there for him when he came back. They discharged him so they didn't' have to treat him," she added. Steve Robinson, director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America, a Washington, D.C.-based soldiers' rights group, pointed out military doctors have been facing an overflow of wounded soldiers and a shortage of rooms, supplies and time to treat them. "By calling PTSD a personality disorder, they usher one soldier out quickly, freeing up space for the three or four who are waiting," he said. A lawyer for Trial Defense Services, an Army unit to guide soldiers through their 5-13 discharge and who was not identified by name, told reporter Kors: "Right now, the Army is eating its own. What I want to see is these soldiers getting the right diagnosis, so they can get the right help, not be thrown to the wolves right away. That is what they're doing." As for veteran Town - whose case was brought by Robinson to the attention of Deputy Surgeon General Gale Pollock and others - he says he is doing his best to keep his head in check and that his nightmares have diminished. "I have my good days and my bad days," he said. "It all depends on whether I wake up in Findlay or Iraq." Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based columnist. For comments or to arrange for speaking engagements contact him at sherwoodr1 [at] yahoo.com. --------17 of 18-------- To: Nader-Camejo 2004 Field Volunteers From: Amy Belanger Re: Post-campaign media messages Date: November 4, 2004 [NOTE DATE] Folks, If the right lessons are going to be learned from our campaign battles and the outcome of the 2004 election, it is important that we take our analysis to the media at the local and state level in addition to the national level. That is where you come in. Please review the following talking points, drawn from Ralph Nader's statements and other campaign analysis. These are provided as tools to use in writing letters to the editor, op-eds, and blog entries, as well as in media interviews and radio call-in programs. Please share your thoughts on how to strengthen our analysis and communication of that analysis to the public. TALKING POINTS The Nader campaign fought the good fight and WON. It's not over - the campaign was only another step along the road to justice. Campaign achievements We won by standing up for justice when even the progressives who fought alongside us in the past took off and adjourned. Justice must never go on adjournment. We won by holding onto our courage in the face of fear-mongering, social pressure, political intimidation, harassment, threats and even bribes. We won for the American people by standing up against the war in Iraq, for a living wage, for universal health care, for clean, renewable energy, and against corporate domination of our government and our lives. We won by refusing to be silenced, shamed and shut down by the two major parties and frightened progressives who were not willing to defend free speech and democracy for short term political goals. We won by building the independent movement to resist the corporate party stranglehold on our democracy. We won by speaking so directly to the will of the American people that the Democrats showed their true anti-democratic colors, their political bigotry, by forcing the Nader-Camejo ticket off ballots to manipulate the electorate. We won by heightening voter interest and awareness - we were a dynamic factor in the faster pace of voter registration. We won by challenging ballot access laws and demonstrating their unfairness in courts, thereby making it easier for future third party and independent candidates. We won because, in spite of Democratic Party dirty tricks, lies, intimidation and harassment to keep us off ballots and to malign our candidate. We stayed in the race. We got votes. We are here and we are not going away. We gave voters a real choice of candidates. We stood up to the duopoly and its war of attrition aimed at keeping us out of the presidential race and depriving citizens of choice at the ballot box. We will continue to fight in courts of law and the Presidential debates. and courts of public opinion to reclaim the electoral process for the people. We drew attention to issues that the major party candidates tried to ignore - living wage, health care for all, getting out of Iraq, getting corporate influence out of government policy, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy, and, of course, public funding of public elections and other electoral reform. We brought ordinary Americans who have been taken for granted by the two major parties into the campaign by visiting 800 cities and towns and highlighting/supporting the concerns of local residents. We ran a national presidential campaign without taking a single dollar from corporate donors or PACs. We gave voice to the "silenced majority" who are disgusted with the Republicrats, tired of business as usual in Washington, and want to be heard! On the Election Outcome The re-election of George Bush would not have occurred had the Democrats stood up for the necessities of the American people. Tens of millions of Americans have been left out of the political process because their needs are being ignored. Many of these people did not even bother to vote because they feel unrepresented. As the votes are analyzed we will find that large percentages of union members, low-income earners, seniors and women - once Democrats - will have voted for George W. Bush. These people voted against their interests because the Democrats did not put their interests firmly and authentically on the table. The Democrats lost their voting base by abandoning them to corporate interests, promoting war, and courting the 3% of swing voters who needed to hear a more conservative message. The Democrats have to look in the mirror now - after losing two presidential elections that should have been easy to win. How hard was it with a $1.2 billion war chest to beat an unpopular president waging an unpopular war with a bad economic record? What now? November 2 is not the end, it is another step in the road to justice. Progressives let justice take a vacation this election - now take the gag out of your mouth and stand back up for the interests of the people. The independent challenge to the two-party system that is choking politics in the United States will continue and grow. If the parties want to avoid losing support in elections, they should start representing the interests of the people before the profits of Big Business, and stop spending millions of dollars to suppress democracy. "It is now urgent for the peace movement to be re-awakened. They have been sidelined in this election by their silent support for a candidate who now supports the war. The U.S. is on the verge of a major offensive in Fallujah that will result in mass civilian deaths and, very likely, lead us into a civil war behind the puppet government up against the widening resistance to U.S. occupation. There is no time to delay in order to protest the direction of the Iraq occupation. The time to act was yesterday," said Nader. We are seeking a major paradigm shift - really creating a government "of, by and for the people." That is a challenge to powerful national and international corporate interests. A paradigm shifts always begin in single digits and people always say change is impossible. The only way to recover from the days to fear is to act immediately and strongly to end the illegal war and occupation of Iraq. Not only is the Iraq war an illegal one, costing American and Iraqi lives, but it is damaging our relations with other nations and draining the resources needed to for the necessities of the American people - necessities like infrastructure, libraries, schools, health care for all, a living wage, energy efficiency, tax relief for working people. On our broken electoral system The chokehold of the political duopoly needs to be broken. This campaign brought out the ballot access barriers that confront all third party and independent candidates as well as the potential for anti-democratic activities as a result of the complex web of ballot laws. The debates this year, with their 32 pages of rules, showed how the Commission on Presidential Debates is an extension of the two parties that is designed to not allow voters to hear diverse views. It is time to challenge the political duopoly at every level and to do consistently. All advocates of democracy should now stand up for the rights of the Libertarian Party and other candidates whose presence in the race drew voters whose second choice was Bush. Every third party started as a single-digit vote-getter. Single-digit votes don't mean we are wrong. As Ghandi said - "Even a majority of one can be right." Look at all the landslide mistakes of the electorate, e.g. Nixon, Reagan won by landslides. The Nader campaign has taken all of the heat for the other third parties; spared them the battles of 2004. Each vote we received represents many more that would have been cast for Nader if he had been a candidate in every state, and the votes of those who admitted they believed in Nader's platform and professed to want to vote for him but were intimidated by peer pressure and confused by the psychological onslaught perpetrated by the Democrats and Republicans. The 2004 Spoilers Kerry spoiled it for the legacy of the Democratic party and its traditional constituency by trying to out-Bush Bush on imperialism, military aggression, abridgements of civil rights, entrenchment of corporate power, disregard for working people, etc. Bush has spoiled democracy with a propaganda coup: first whipping up the population into a state of perpetual terror, then relentlessly hammering on ancillary issues - gay marriage, stem cell research, abortion - that have little impact on most voter's lives, in a calculated attempt to deflect attention from domestic and foreign policies that are eroding the quality of life and justice for just about everybody. He has spoiled the opportunity for many Americans to function as intelligent, thoughtful, participants in democracy. On Ralph Nader's Role in this Election Ralph Nader's work began long before he ran for President, has continued outside the electoral process even during this campaign, will continue long after this election, and cannot be summed up in a vote count. Yet, it speaks volumes that the Nader-Camejo ticket was placed on 32 ballots and has won so many votes with a fraction of the other two parties' budgets, while being forced off ballots in 16 states and attacked by Democratic publicists, and in a climate of intense fear among his progressive base - fear that casting a vote for the candidate they believed in would take a vote from Kerry and end up electing Bush. These ballot access achievements and votes stand as testimony to the strength of Ralph Nader's vision and our ability to build a movement for a truly just, democratic society. --------18 of 18-------- Venezuela: The Times They Are A-Changin' by Gabriel Ash www.dissidentvoice.org April 2, 2007 Venezuela is changing. Fast. No other word captures the speed and magnitude of change as well as that weighty word - revolution. This is indeed the word used by many of the Venezuelans I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing during ten days in March. Venezuela is undergoing a 'Bolivarian' revolution. But what does 'Bolivarianism' entail? To be honest, Zhou Enlai's quip about the results of the French Revolution - that it is "too early to tell" - is doubly applicable to Venezuela. Radically different constituencies, political visions and potential futures are today co-existing more or less harmoniously within the dramatic process of change. This is perhaps inevitable. But some of the wide ranging ambiguity about the future direction of Bolivarianism has to do with Chavez's crucial strategic choice in favor of peaceful social change. Contrary to the image often portrayed in the foreign media, Chavez has gone overboard in seeking to include as many as possible in the Bolivarian state. He has time and again extended an olive branch to his enemies. For example, immediately after the failed coup against him, his first act was to guarantee the constitutional rights of the coup leaders, none of whom have been harmed. Likewise, he has consistently avoided using military and police forces under his command to repress the opposition, and had been exceedingly cautious towards foreign companies and investors. Some of his strongest supporters therefore consider Chavez excessively soft. The ideological message of Bolivarianism is straddling this society - deeply divided by class - with a strong Venezuelan and pan-Latinoamerican nationalism. The ambiguity is patently visible in the street iconography of Caracas, which combines the faces of the aristocratic liberal Simon Bolivar and the radical communist Che Guevara, both sharing the landscape with huge billboards of fashionable young women advertising beer. Yet if the future is foggy, the present is dramatically clear. Under pressure from Venezuela's poor, on whose support Chavez's political survival depends, the government moved decidedly leftwards over the course of the last few years. This leftward move consists in two processes: democratization and redistribution. First, redistribution. Having wrestled control of the national oil company from the old oligarchy, Chavez redirected a portion of Venezuela's significant oil revenues to new social projects, called missions, each targeting a specific social privation. The bulk of the resources were earmarked for non-cash benefits such as education and health. But government policies have also helped more people to move out of the informal economy and take formal jobs, affecting a significant rise in cash wages for the poorest workers. An international chorus of snickers erupts whenever these social spending programs are mentioned. Most completely miss the point. Is there corruption? Inefficiency? Probably. But by relying on the army, the national oil company, and ad hoc communal organizing rather than on the traditional state bureaucracy, the social missions manage a level of efficiency that is quite stunning. As a small example, take the latest mission, 'energy revolution,' announced in November 2006. Its first project was to change all the light bulbs in Venezuela (52 million of them) to energy efficient ones by the end of 2007. The goal is to reduce the consumption of oil in electricity generation by about 25 million barrels a year, and cut a typical family's monthly expenses by $4.6 (a non-trivial sum in the poor neighborhoods). The distribution of free bulbs is carried out by different means: youth organizations, community councils, and reserve units. By mid February 2007, over 30 million bulbs have been distributed, 10% faster than planned. The white glow that rises at night from both the poor neighborhoods and the houses of the better-off confirms the statistics. More complex missions, such as mission Robinson and Riba, which provide adult primary and secondary education with Cuban help, have been no less spectacular. "Proofs" that these missions are bogus are a dime a dozen in the Western media. Yet in Venezuela, even fierce Chavez's critics I spoke with conceded that the missions were having a strongly positive effect on the life of the poor. The change is fast and visible. In a peasant community's primary school in western Venezuela I saw the preparation for an internet room for both the pupils and the larger community. In the nearby high school - a school that only a few years ago did not exist - students who divided their time between the classroom and their families' coffee fields talked of going to university. Another common criticism is that the missions are not sustainable because they depend on oil prices remaining high. No doubt a drop in oil prices would force the government to cut spending (leaving aside the unresolved question as to whether high oil prices are themselves sustainable or not.) However, the thousands of people who learned to read during the oil boom would remain literate even if oil prices dropped. Nor would such a drop deprive the beneficiaries of an oil-financed cataract removal surgery of their vision. A more enlightened view would note that access to such basic services as dental and eye care is valuable in itself. But even if one were to look at Venezuela from the most narrow-minded economist perspective, one that only values economic growth, it would be impossible to find an oil-producing country that uses its oil bonanza in a better way. Improving health, education, housing and infrastructure contributes more to prosperity and economic growth than the preferred choice of conventional wisdom - hoarding a large portfolio of U.S. bonds. The proof is in the pudding. Caracas is booming. Fancy consumer malls are mushrooming, trendy shops and restaurants ring the cash register. In one mall, strongly anti-Chavez store managers expressed gloom and resignation about the government's economic policies while conceding that business was excellent. But in a restaurant off the airport highway, the owner, a man of humble background, took us with pride through the private orchard from whose fruits he serves fresh juice to his customers, and explained the situation thus: "Chavez is good for people who want to work..they dislike Chavez because the government now collects taxes from businesses." The opposition to Chavez is surely more than just about reinvigorated tax collection; a recent (and perhaps not fully trustworthy) survey shows a loss of income over 20% at the high end of the extremely skewed income pyramid. But there is little doubt that the boost to the income of poor households (80% of the population) is driving Venezuela's impressive economic expansion (9.4% in 2006) and also trickling up significantly to the better-off, especially those in the fast expanding retail sector - the delivery period for a new imported car, including luxury models, can be longer than six months. The democratization focus of the Bolivarian revolution involves structural changes to both politics and economics. Politically, those measures that help the foreign media paint Chavez as an autocrat are precisely those perceived in Venezuela as means of political decentralization and democratization - the rule by decree, the formation of a unified party, and the direct executive control of funds. To understand the paradox it is necessary to grasp the historical context: the political parties, the parliament and the governmental bureaucracy have been, and still are, bastions of corruption and clientelism, providing the main interface between political power and economic wealth. It is quite possible in theory that the creation of alternative political mechanisms under Chavez's personal rule will lead to a new centralization of autocratic power. But mitigating that danger is the new sense of political entitlement of commoners, a deep cognizance of their own rights, and foremost the right to organize and take control over decisions that affect their lives. Encountering the strength of this democratic consciousness, fostered by education, public awareness campaigns, Chavez's speeches, and the recurrence of popular mobilizations, is one of the most intense experiences one has as a visitor to Venezuela today. While Chavez is the undisputable hero of this popular awakening, the latter is anything but a docile body of followers. On the contrary. Visiting a community center in Barquisimeto, we saw a local TV and radio station run by locals. The organizers were supposed to be trained by a professional government manager. Relations with the official boss however soured quickly and the community expelled the imposed manager, locking her out of the building. It took a month of struggle, but the new locally chosen administration was eventually recognized as legitimate. He would be a strange autocrat who encouraged small communities to run their own TV and radio station, free of government control. But this is exactly what the current government's policy is. Finally, the most important political development following the last elections is the plan to constitutionally empower local councils (of 200-400 households each) to take control of budgetary priorities and local services. This institutionalization of participatory democracy would irreversibly transform Venezuelan politics. The linchpin of the change is economic structure is the fast growth in co-operatives - worker managed businesses with a variety of internal democratic structures. The co-operative movement in Venezuela predates Chavez. However, with government support, this form of economic organization changed from a radical but marginal element to a significant component of the economy. Already in 2004 4.6% of jobs in Venezuela depended on co-operatives. By extrapolation, the over 100,000 co-operatives operating today in Venezuela probably account for 15% of jobs. Government help consists in technical support, managerial training, loans on preferential terms and often the rent-free provision of facilities. There are co-operatives everywhere, from street vendors to textile manufacturing, from organic agriculture and up to the hotel we stayed in, which used to belong to the ministry of tourism and became a co-operative in 2001. The hotel's kitchen workers explained that most decisions were taken by general consultation but an executive committee elected for three year terms was in charge of salaries. Building successful cooperatives in Venezuela is not easier - indeed is probably more difficult - than starting a viable business anywhere. There is bureaucracy, corruption, competition, personal frictions, lack of capital, lack of know-how, etc. Time will tell how many of these co-operatives survive. It is too early to declare that Venezuela has found a cure to the endemic poverty of the urban slums that weighs so heavily on the Third World. But the Venezuelan experiment is not only real, serious and popular, but also quite uniquely so in the world. One thing the many co-operative members we met had in common was that they were all glowing with pride about their work. Finally, it is worth mentioning that co-operatives are not the only form of entrepreneurship blossoming in Venezuela. The government is pushing banks to make more small business loans to the poor, and a general sense of optimism is both palpable and reflected in surveys. We visited the home of a woman who had recently turned the front of her slum house into a general shop and ran into a young man who was planning to start a tourist business in the mountains. How unwelcome multinationals like Verizon are in Venezuela is an open question, but there is clearly a new feeling of opportunity for regular people to work and to improve their lives. There is a lot to be fearful about in Venezuela - the high level of crime, the dead weight of entrenched corruption, the unresolved tension between consumerist and socialist values, the danger inherent in Chavez's outsized shadow, and not the least the certain intensification of U.S. destabilization efforts. But outside the small pockets of privilege and affluent ressentiment, the Venezuela I saw is not in the grip of fear. On the contrary, it is in the grip of hope, pride and an infectious sense of self-confidence and ownership. Gabriel Ash is an activist and writer who writes because the pen is sometimes mightier than the sword and sometimes not. He welcomes comments at: g.a.evildoer [at] gmail.com. Copyright 2000-2007. Sanders Research Associates. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission from http://sandersresearch.com/. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments
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