Progressive Calendar 06.05.07
From: David Shove (
Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2007 01:04:12 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    06.05.07

1. Climate change   6.06 8:30am
2. Panhandling      6.06 1pm
3. Palestine/Iraq   6.06 5pm
4. WestBank/film    6.06 7pm
5. Health work      6.06 7pm
6. Cuban 5          6.06 7pm
7. DeanZ birthday   6.06

8. RNC/Iraq press   6.07 4pm
9. NWN4P New Hope   6.07 4:30pm
10. Eagan vigil     6.07 4:30pm
11. Northtown vigil 6.07 5pm
12. WestBank/film   6.07 7pm
13. Walljasper/book 6.07 7:30pm

14. Susan Rosenthal - How Cindy Sheehan unmasked the Democrats
15. Ruth Conniff    - Democrats bob and weave
16. David Vest      - The Democrats' war
17. John V Walsh    - Shaming the official antiwar movement

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

From: Kevin Chavis <kevinchavis [at]>
Subject: Climate change 6.06 8:30am

Preparing Your Community for Climate and Energy Change: Opportunities for
Local Sustainability
Wednesday, June 6, 2007, 8:30 am - 4:00 pm, St. Paul

A one-day conference is being sponsored by the Minnesota Pollution Control
Agency titled "Preparing Your Community for Climate and Energy Change:
Opportunities for Local Sustainability." The event will be held at the
University of Minnesota in St. Paul on June 6, 2007, from 8:30 am - 4:00

This conference is targeted at local government elected officials and
staff, as well as other community leaders and interested individuals that
seek to prepare their communities for coming challenges related to
Minnesota's changing climate and the inevitability of global peak oil and
natural gas (when less and less of these fossil fuels will be available
each year).

This conference seeks to provide useful and up-to-date background on the
interrelated trends of climate change and energy vulnerability, as well as
tools and information for communities that seek to begin preparing for
these issues. Many actions that can be taken are "no regrets" strategies
that have benefits for communities now, and can increase our local quality
of life and benefit the global environment.

Plenary session speakers at the event will include:

   - Julian Darley, Founder and Director of the Post Carbon Institute,
   (author of "High Noon for Natural Gas" and the forthcoming "Relocalize Now!
   Getting Ready for Climate Change and the End of Cheap Oil")
   - Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario,
   - J. Drake Hamilton, Science Policy Director of Fresh Energy
   (co-author of "Playing with Fire: Climate Change in Minnesota"), and
   - Dan Richardson, Senior Energy Consultant, Schmueser Gordon Meyer
   (former Global Warming Manager for the City of Aspen, Colorado)

This event will also include breakout discussion sessions to help identify
local concerns, overcome barriers to action, share case studies, evaluate
opportunities, and learn about sources of further assistance. It is
intended that attendees will have access to resources that are being
developed to assist with community adaptation.

In addition, the conference includes breakout sessions on topics such as
green building and community design, energy, transportation, food, natural
resources, and a local case study. Specific breakout sessions and
confirmed speakers include:

Green Building and Community Development Strategies
Warren Hanson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Greater Minnesota
Housing Fund
Rick Carter, AIA, Vice President, LHB
John Shardlow, AICP, Principal, DSU/Bonestroo

Keeping Energy Supplies and Money Local
Bruce Anderson, Sustainable Community Solutions
Jimmie Sparks, Residential Energy Program Manager, Neighborhood Energy
Ken Smith, Vice President, District Energy St. Paul

Strengthening Communities with Diverse Transportation Options
Russ Stark, Executive Director, Midway Transportation Management
Jan Parker, Ramsey County Commissioner
Tim Springer, Executive Director, Midtown Greenway Coalition

Local Food as Economic Development
Ken Meter, President, Crossroads Resource Center
Dayna Burtness, Co-founder, Saint Olaf Garden Research and Organic Works
Kristin Johnson, Intern, STOGROW
Rob Smith, Intern, STOGROW

Community Water and Tree Management in a Changing Climate

Julie Westerlund, Communications and Education Coordinator, Minnehaha Creek
Watershed District
Ken Holman, Community Forestry Coordinator, Minnesota Department of Natural

Minneapolis Case Study: One Community's Response
Elizabeth Glidden, Member, Minneapolis City Council
Gayle Prest, Manager of Sustainability, City of Minneapolis

Conference cosponsors include Association of Metropolitan Municipalities,
Association of Minnesota Counties, Fresh Energy, Greater Minnesota Housing
Fund, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability USA, League of Minnesota
Cities, Metropolitan Council, Minnesota Association of School
Administrators, Minnesota Association of Townships, Minnesota Chapter of the
American Planning Association, Minnesota School Boards Association,
Minnesota Rural Partners, Neighborhood Energy Connection, University of
Minnesota Extension, and the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable
Development Partnerships.

This is a free event, including lunch.

More information and online registration is available at If you have any questions, please
contact Paul Moss at paul.moss [at] or 651/215-0243.

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

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Panhandling 6.06 1pm

City holds public hearing on proposed changes to aggressive panhandling

Pubic hearing on proposed changes to Aggressive Solicitation Ordinance
1 p.m., Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Public Safety & Regulatory Services Committee Meeting
Council Chamber, Room 317, City Hall, 350 S. Fifth Street

Panhandling is a challenging issue faced by cities of all sizes, and it is
a growing concern in Minneapolis. On June 6, 2007, the Minneapolis City
Council?s Public Safety & Regulatory Service Committee meeting will hold a
public hearing on proposed changes to the City?s ?aggressive solicitation?
(panhandling) ordinance.

The current Aggressive Solicitation Ordinance states that it is unlawful
to verbally solicit donations (panhandle) at any of the following:

     * In a restroom
     * At a crosswalk, bus or light rail stop or shelter
     * On public transit
     * In a vehicle parked on a public street or alley
     * In a sidewalk cafe
     * In line to be admitted to a government or commercial establishment
     * Within 20 feet in any direction from an ATM or financial institution

The proposed changes to the Aggressive Solicitation Ordinance would add
the following to the existing locations and restrictions to verbally
solicit donations (panhandle):

     * Within 10 feet in any direction from a crosswalk
     * On any park land or in any park or sporting facility, including
50 feet of entry or exits thereto
     * At or within 10 feet of gas station, liquor store, or convenience
store property
     * Solicitation in a group of 2 or more would be prohibited
     * Solicitation after sunset or before sunrise, and half hour before
sunset and after sunrise

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>

Panhandlers As Public Enemies
by Lydia Howell
Monday, June 4, 2007
PULSE http;//

When you don't drive a car, live hovering around (or under) the poverty
line and you walk the inner city neighborhood you live in, having a
stranger ask for a dollar happens all the time.  I've never seen
panhandlers as offensive or as a threat.  But, well-off people - including
elected officials - have a very different reaction and they regularly tell
the same sort of story over and over.

Minneapolis City Council-member Ralph Remington, who's ward includes the
wealthy Uptown neighborhood, told the Star Tribune (5/27/07) about being
at a downtown sidewalk cafe with fellow Council-member Sandy Colvin-Roy
(who's never been known for having much empathy for the poor) and State
Senator Linda Higgins.  A panhandler approached. When Remington "politely
declined" to give the fellow African-American man a dollar, he says the
man "went into a profanity-laced tirade' and Remington 'wanted to rip [the
panhandler's] head off'".

Just once, in decades, has someone asking me for money behaved in anything
remotely approaching the kind of 'aggressive attitude' that middle-class
and well-off people always describe. I simply kept eye contact with the
man and spoke respectfully. The guy quickly not only stopped shouting,
but, apologized profusely and explained the crisis events he was grappling

I wonder what the black man who approached Remington, was so angry about?
The constant harassment from police a homeless black man faces? Relentless
housing discrimination based on race that goes unrecognized? Even when it
comes to being homelessss, white folks get access to more services than
people of color do.

Remington told the Strib, 'That's when I knew the situation was dire'.

He wasn't referring to the situation of homelessness continuing to rise,
as cheaper older housing stock is gentrified or torn down to build condos.
He wasn't referring to the 46% unemployment rate of African-American men,
reported recently by NY Times columnist Bob Herbert. What Remington, along
with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, is so concerned about is panhandling.

Rybak urged people to not give money to beggars, but, instead donate to
organizations that serve the homeless. I guess that's his solution to the
government budget cuts to social services for the poorest, mentally ill,
battered women and children, chemical-dependency treatment - those who
likely to end up homeless.

The government has never come close to addressing homelessness, since
these aren't people who have economic power. Have you noticed all the
fancy fencing that's gone up on Franklin Avenue and East Lake Street? Yet,
shelters for homeless people and battered women turn people away nightly,
due to lack of enough beds. The city's last gesture to the homeless were
the "bum-be-gone' bars underneath freeway overpasses, to make it
impossible for homeless people to get out of the rain. July 16, 2003City
Pages story http;// ) .

The Mayor told the Star Tribune that there's going to be a 'lower
tolerance' for panhandlers , advising people who feel 'intimidated' when a
poor person asks for money, to call 911, which he says he does all the

Basic decency would reject calling the police on a panhandler -
especially, given that homeless people (about one-third of whom are
mentally-ill) are one of the groups most vulnerable to police brutality.
Cops harass, beat, arrest, often taking the ID and possessions of homeless
people who are the least able to access the slightest bit of
accountability or support after the abuse.

Toughening bans on panhandling are being proposed; it would be a crime to
ask someone for money within ten feet of a crosswalk, convenience and
liquor stores or 50 feet of entrances and exits to parks and sporting
arenas. it's already even a crime when (starting at 4am to beat the
sanitation workers' pickup), shopping-cart people gather aluminum cans to
sell. The most desperately poor people are being further criminalized and
conflated with recent downtown robberies and violence. Yet, homeless
people are far more likely to be the victims of crime than the
perpetrators of it - but, not considered victims worthy of protection -
from either the elements or violence.

Let's be clear that for the Minneapolis mayor and city council, it's not
just asking for money that bothers them so much. What determines their
response is WHO does the asking.

During his first campaign, Rybak made NOT giving any public money for a
new Twins' stadium one of his three main issues (along with 'affordable'
housing and police brutality). But, he's gone on along with helping to
hand over half a billion dollars to Carl Pohlad, who is #77 on the Fortune
400 Richest Americans. He and the City Council continue to have no problem
subsidizing private developers building condominiums, priced for sale at
$140 to almost $1M, for a handsome profit. Public money goes to these
developers under the cloak of building 'affordable housing' - which is
calculated based on $65,000, the median income for the seven-county Twin
Cities metro area. To qualify for the subsidy, a couple of units in these
developments are set aside as 'affordable housing' for those making 50% of
the median. People making $32,500 a year are not standing in line, hoping
the shelter lottery will get them a mat on the floor tonight.

Police budgets are also up. More cops are are highly visible downtown and
more Tasers are on order.  who will they go after?  The homeless sketch
artist and street musicians? The young men and women who've come from
somewhere else hoping to find a job here? The worn-out middle-aged white
woman, who I see at the light rail end of the line stop?

I suspect panhandlers get angry at obviously well-off people not because
of being refused money - which I've done many times without getting that
reaction. But the well-off also refuse respect and empathy for the
homeless and instead communicate contempt.

When wealthy people panhandle politicians, Ralph Remington, along with his
elected colleagues, has no problem giving far more than a miserly dollar.

There will be a public hearing about the proposed panhandling ordinance on
Wednesday, June 6, 1pm at City Hall, Room 317, 350 south 5th Street,
downtown Minneapolis. for more information about the ordinance, see;

From: Margaret Hastings margaretrh [at]

The additions being pusched to the aggressive solicitation ordinance
dovetail with the upcoming Republican National Convention in St. Paul, no
news to any of you.

This is an issue of curtailing the use of public space more and more, and
of course most dramatically aimed at denying use of public space by people
who are poor and/homeless.

This is an effort to go after those folks on the entry and exit ramps
qietly hold their signs in my opinion and all those who panhandle,not
just folks who are aggressive.

Also, it seems likely unconsitutionl to restrict the number of people who
panhandle to only 2 , barring groups of people from being with each other
while one panhandles.

This appears to strike at the right to free assembly.

I will not even go into the whole issue of this being a red herring (and a
very bad one) that does not address the very real needs of poor and
homeless people in our city.

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

From: Florence Steichen <steichenfm [at]>
Subject: Palestine/Iraq 6.06 5pm

06 Jun. '07
End the Occupations of Iraq and Palestine
Time: 5:00 pm

Event Description: This is the weekly vigil on the Marshall/Lake Street
Bridge to protest the war in Iraq.  Because June 6-11 is the 40th
anniversary of Israel's 6 day war and the beginning of the occupation of
Palestine, the weekly vigil to protest the war in Iraq will add the focus
of ending the occupation of Palestine.  In addition to the signs usually
provided, people concerned about Palestine will bring signs to highlight
the connection between the two occupations.

Suggested wording:  End the Occupations of Iraq and Palestine
U.S. out of Iraq - Israel out of Palestine

Sponsored by Twin Cities Peace Campaign - Focus on Iraq and Middle East
Peace Now; endorsed by WAMM- ME and other peace groups Location: Marshall
Avenue/Lake Street Bridge over the Mississippi River. Gather on the East -
St. Paul side. Vigil is 5-6 followed by a circle for announcements and

Info: Florence Steichen, 651-696-1642

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

From: wamm <wamm [at]>
Subject: WestBank/film 6.06 7pm

Film: "West Bank Story"

Wednesday, June 6, 7:00 p.m. Unitarian Universalist Hall, Second and
Linden Streets, Northfield. "West Bank Story" is a musical comedy set in
the fast-paced, fast-food world of competing falafel stands in the West
Bank. David, an Israeli soldier, falls in love with the beautiful
Palestinian cashier, Fatima, despite the animosity between their families'
dueling restaurants. Can the couple's love withstand a 2000 year old
conflict and their families' desire to control the future of the chic pea
in the Middle east? 21 minutes. Discussion follows. Samples of falafels
and hummus. FFI: Call Bill, 507-645-7660.

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

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Health work 6.06 7pm

Wednesday, June 6, 7 p.m.
St. Anthony Park Branch Library, 2245 Como Ave., Saint Paul
These events are free and open to the public.
For more information, call 651-222-3242 or friends [at]

These programs are free and open to the public, and coordinated by
Patricia Ohmans, MPH, who is the director of Health Advocates and
co-author of /Finding Work in Global Health/.  For more information,
please call The Friends at 651/222-3242 or go online at <>.

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

From: Minnesota Cuba Committee <mncuba [at]>
Subject: Cuban 5 6.06 7pm

Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Blegen Hall
Room 205
University of Minnesota West Bank, 7:00 pm

Free the Cuban Five

Gerardo Hernández, René González, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, and
Fernando González - the Cuban Five, as they are known - have been
imprisoned in U.S. federal penitentiaries for more than eight years. They
are serving sentences of 15 years to a double life term. The five had had
been gathering information on right-wing Cuban American groups based in
southern Florida that have an extensive record of carrying out violent
attacks on Cuba from U.S. soil with Washington's complicity. Unable to
prove that the five men had committed any illegal acts, including the
supposed theft of U.S. military secrets, Washington charged them with
"conspiracy" to commit espionage and related activities. A jury convicted
the five on those charges on June 8, 2001.

This will be an opportunity to discuss the truth about who these men are,
why the US won't release them back to Cuba, and how we all can join in the
international campaign to free the five!

Speakers will include:
Missy Racho, U of M student
Galnaz Vayghan, U of M student
Muhammad Kareem, Young Socialists
And others.

The discussion is being held as part of a University of Minnesota class on
Cuba. Professor August Nimtz is opening the class to the public for this

For directions to Blegen Hall:

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

From: Jenny Heiser <jennylh [at]>
Subject: Dean Z birthday 6.06

Dean's 65th birthday is next Wednesday, June 6. I know he'd love to
receive a greeting from you, even if it gets there a day or two late.
Here's his address:

Gary D. Zimmermann, #12696-041
FCI Englewood/Satellite Camp
9595 W. Quincy Ave
Littleton, CO 80123

In mid-April I was able to travel to Littleton, CO to visit with Dean.
He's lost over 25 lbs. and looks fine. More on this visit in another

Here's the address for a web-blog created by friends for Dean. Feel free
to post a message, I'll send them to him at least once a week:

Reading is a major pastime for Dean. Here's a link to a reading "Wish
List" that his brother, Joel, created for Dean in case you'd to
send him a book:
/wishlist/1ZV1DHYUCUPAN/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go/104-8510256-0146347 (It would
be best to let Amazon send him the book you choose because of very
stringent prison rules around what Dean can receive and the packaging he
can receive books in.)

Dean is earning approximately $25/month. This just covers his expenses
related to correspondence. His phone cards cost him $90/month. He'd love
to purchase a radio from the prison commissary (no, you nor I can send him
a radio). If you feel so moved, please consider contributing to his legal
defense fund to help cover these costs, and either David Tilsen or Scott
Cramer will see that your contribution gets put into Dean's prison
commissary account:

Zimmermann for Justice
c/o David Tilsen
3220-10th Ave So
Mpls, MN 55407

Please feel free to share this information with others. More in another
message with information about what you need to do if you think you'll be
in the Denver area this summer or fall and wish to visit with Dean.

Love & peace to all!


Jenny Heiser & Dean Zimmermann
2200 Clinton Avenue
Minneapolis, MN  55404-3655
612-724-3888, Home/Home Office
Jenny's Cell: 612-558-9642
Jenny's E-mail: HYPERLINK
"mailto:jennylh [at]"jennylh [at]

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

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
Subject: RNC/Iraq press 6.07 4pm

Press Conference: March on the RNC! US Out of Iraq!

Thursday, 6/7 @ 4pm @ the Excel Center, St. Paul. Organizers, including
the AWC, will announce their plans for a march route for the first day of
the RNC demonstration - Labor Day 2008. Come and show your support for our
plans to protest at the RNC.

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

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: NWN4P New Hope 6.07 4:30pm

NWN4P-New Hope demonstration every Thursday 4:30 to 6 PM at the corner of
Winnetka and 42nd.  You may park near Walgreens or in the larger lot near
McDonalds; we will be on all four corners.  Bring your own or use our

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

From: GREG and SUE SKOG <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 6.07 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.

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

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 6.07 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]

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

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: WestBank/film 6.07 7pm

"West Bank Story" Film & Discussion

Thursday, June 7, 7:00 p.m. United Methodist Church, 1401 South Maple,
Northfield. "West Bank Story" is a musical comedy set in the fast-paced,
fast-food world of competing falafel stands in the West Bank. David, an
Israeli soldier, falls in love with the beautiful Palestinian cashier,
Fatima, despite the animosity between their families' dueling restaurants.
Can the couple's love withstand a 2000 year old conflict and their
families' desire to control the future of the chic pea in the Middle East?
21 minutes. Discussion follows. Samples of falafels and hummus. FFI: Call
Bill, 507-645-7660.

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

From: david unowsky <david.unowsky [at]>
Subject: Walljasper/book 6.07 7:30pm

from Magers and Quinn Booksellers, 3038 Hennepin Ave. Mpls. 612-822-4611

Jay Walljasper has published a new book about how to make your
neighborhood come alive.

Celebrate with him this Thursday (June 7) at Magers & Quinn bookstore at
7:30 in Minneapolis's Uptown neighborhood (3038 Hennepin Avenue).

Jay will be talking about ideas from the Great Neighborhood Book (New
Society Publishers). And he is more than willing to sign copies.

Joining him for a spirited discussion about improving neighborhoods will
be David Brauer, president of the Kingfield Neighborhood Association; Matt
Perry, of the East Harriet Neighborhood Association; and Steve Jevning,
founder of Leonardo's Basement (which is featured in the book).

The book was done in conjunction with Project for Public Spaces, a New
York-based group that has been helping citizens improve their communities
for thirty years.

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

It's Up to Us Now
How Cindy Sheehan Unmasked the Democrats
June 4, 2007

Cindy Sheehan is the Founder and President of Gold Star Families for
Peace. When her son Casey was killed in Iraq in the spring of 2004, she
threw herself into the campaign to end the war.

Sheehan became a thorn in the side of President Bush, following him
wherever he went. She camped outside the White House and established "Camp
Casey" next to the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas. Her challenge to the
president was simple and heartfelt:

"You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me
that my son died to make your friends rich. You tell me my son died so you
can spread the cancer of imperialism in the Middle East. You tell me

Democrats and liberals loved Sheehan when she attacked Bush and the
Republicans, but they turned on her when she held them to the same

The Democrats were swept into Congress on a wave of popular revolt against
the war. Despite their anti-war posturing, they gave Bush billions more
dollars to continue the war. Outraged, Sheehan condemned the Democrats as
heartless hypocrites:

"How can you even go to sleep at night or look at yourselves in a mirror?
How do you put behind you the screaming mothers on both sides of the
conflict? How does the agony you have created escape you? It will never
escape me...I can't run far enough or hide well enough to get away from

The Democrats have shown themselves to be just as committed to dominating
the Middle East as the Republicans. In 1998, Democratic President Bill
Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act to force regime-change in Iraq.
Barely two months later, he ordered the bombing of Baghdad. And it was
Clinton who presided over the deadly UN embargo against Iraq.

Neither of the two Bush presidents could have invaded Iraq if the
groundwork had not been laid by Democrats. And the war could not continue
if Democrats did not support it. Both parties serve a capitalist class
that is determined to dominate the world, and controlling the Middle East
is central to that domination.

We expect to be attacked by our enemies. We don't expect to be betrayed by
our friends. Back-stabbing Democrats accomplished what Bush and his
supporters could not - they brought Cindy Sheehan to her knees. On
Memorial Day, she announced that she was too depleted to continue

Sheehan urges us to "figure a way out of this two-party system that is
bought and paid for by the war machine." However, sections of the anti-war
movement will continue to back the Democrats, no matter how often this
proves to be a dead-end, because the only real alternative is to reject
the entire capitalist project.

We owe Cindy Sheehan a tremendous debt. She shouted the truth in a world
full of lies. She confronted the war mongers and unmasked the hypocrites.
In her exhaustion, she confirms that none of us can change the world
alone. We must step up the fight to end the war NOW.

Dr. Susan Rosenthal has been practicing medicine for more than 30 years
and has written many articles on the relationship between health and human
relationships. She is also the author of Striking Flint: Genora (Johnson)
Dollinger Remembers the 1936-1937 General Motors Sit-Down Strike (1996)
and Market Madness and Mental Illness: The Crisis in Mental Health Care
(1999) and Power and Powerlessness. She is a member of the National
Writers Union, UAW Local 1981. She can be reached through her blog:

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

Democrats Bob and Weave
by Ruth Conniff
Published on Tuesday, June 5, 2007 by The Progressive

Just to make sure everyone knew who the real candidates were at last
night's Democratic debate, CNN placed the outsiders literally in the
wings. Way out on the right and left margins of the line-up were peace
candidate Representative Dennis Kucinich and maverick former senator from
Alaska Mike Gravel. As in the Republican primary, it is the job of these
quixotic figures to tell the unvarnished truth, while the rest of the
field and debate moderator Wolf Blitzer smile condescendingly. Gravel,
sounding like his Republican counterpart Ron Paul, was the voice of reason
on Iraq. But he also set the record straight on gays in the military.
While Hillary Clinton struggled with her qualified endorsement of her
husband's don't-ask-don't-tell policy, Gravel explained that, no, it is
not complicated and difficult to craft the perfect compromise on this
issue as the frontrunner suggested. Just as Harry Truman integrated the
military by executive fiat in one fell swoop, so, too, can the President
order the simple integration of gays and lesbians.

Kucinich was slower out of the blocks, failing to give a direct answer to
a question about whether the Patriot Act, which he rightly opposed, made
possible the recent arrest of terrorist suspects plotting an attack on
Kennedy Airport. Instead of dealing directly with the issue, Kucinich said
something vaguely confusing about how Americans need to reconnect with
their essential identity. Still, it was he who called his fellow Democrats
to account on funding for the war. The power of the purse is Congress's
only way to check the war. If they pull the funding, "the war is over," he
said. He, too, set Hillary Clinton straight on whether it is possible to
stop having an endless "conversation," and do the right thing. Kucinich
corrected Clinton's suggestion that Iraq is Bush's war and the Democrats
are neither culpable nor fully in control. "Oh, no," Kucinich said. "This
is the Democrats' war, because the Democrats were put in charge in the
last election". While Hillary and Obama both voted against the recent
cave-in on continued funding, both have voted previously, and repeatedly,
for other funding resolutions, and expressed sympathy for their colleague
Joe Biden, who said, "We're funding the safety of the troops" - never mind
that continuing the war will only cost more lives. Biden won't stop voting
for more funding, he said, until there is an even larger Democratic
majority in Congress. Too bad for the people who die waiting for the
Democratic leadership to pull that one off.

Edwards also attacked the two frontrunners for failing to speak out
against the recent cave-in that sent more money to the war without any
timetables for withdrawal. They ultimately voted the right way, he said,
but at the last minute and without comment. The bill, Edwards said, was
the "moment of truth" on Iraq. Anyone who wants to be President has "a
responsibility to lead" on the crucial issue of getting us out of the war.

Obama came out ahead in the exchange with Edwards, though, pointing out
that Edwards had voted for the war originally. "You are four and a half
years late on leadership on this," he said.

Little noted during the debate was Hillary's most conservative statement
of the night. Taking a line straight from the neocons who got us into this
disastrous war in the first place, Clinton asserted "it is the Iraqis who
failed to take advantage of those opportunities" that we supposedly gave
them. Blaming Bush, underplaying the Democrats' ability to end the war,
chastising the Iraqis ala Donald Rumsfeld, and giving vague, mixed signals
about how she plans to lead, it's Clinton who gives the antiwar base
plenty of reason to feel nervous.

On the popular-outside-Washington issue of universal health care, Edwards
challenged his opponents by pointing to his more detailed and more
progressive plan, which actually covers everyone. Obama and Clinton also
used the phrase "universal health care," but neither has produced a truly
universal plan, Edwards pointed out. Still, it was up to Kucinich to shout
from the wings that "there's only one way" to get to universal health
coverage, and that is "a single-payer, not-for-profit - system like Canada
and most of Europe have." That's not on the table among the mainstream
candidates. "They're talking about letting the insurance companies stay in
charge," he said. "We need a President to challenge that".

In our strange political culture, the Democratic candidates all denounced
the havoc Bush has wreaked in Iraq and lamented the demise of American
diplomacy and credibility abroad, yet submitted to several flippant "show
of hands" votes posed by Blitzer: quick, raise your hand if you are
willing to kill a bunch of innocent civilians with a Hellfire missile in
order to get Osama bin Laden! Only Kucinich balked at that one, asserting
that he's not in favor of foreign policy by assassination. Obama quickly
stepped in to show he's not afraid to pull the trigger. Clinton, alone
among the candidates, objected to the testosterone test style of decision
making quick, you're under attack, how fast can you deploy missiles to
kill a bunch of people without stopping to flinch. Isn't this style of
leadership what got us into the mess we're in today? Clinton, to her
credit, pointed out that a more considered approach might be what we want
from our next President.

Listening to those voices from the wings could help, too.

Ruth Conniff covers national politics for The Progressive and is a voice
of The Progressive on many TV and radio programs.

 2007 The Progressive

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

It Was There for the Taking!
The Democrats' War
June 5, 2007

Nothing much was happening in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential
debate Sunday night, until Rep. Dennis Kucinich fired the rhetorical
equivalent of a cruise missile across the bow of his party. The leading
contenders may have pretended not to hear the shot, but don't be fooled.
They heard it, all right. They just hope you didn't.

For the viewer at home, trying to see past CNN's elaborate and unwieldy
staging of the forum was like - what was it like? It was like trying to
see photographs under plexiglas in a badly-lit gallery, dodging one's own
reflection - or in this case, Wolf Blitzer's - between episodes of glare
and distortion.

The set itself resembled a scene from "The Matrix". Was it designed by
FEMA? The backdrop had the kind of shimmering fake-pointillism associated
with convention center wallpaper. The eight candidates appeared to blend
into it at times, and their podiums seemed actually to be turned

Whatever happened to "keep it simple"?

That Blitzer allotted himself considerably more microphone time than he
gave most of the candidates was predictable. But who could have predicted
the network's bizarre decision to actually interrupt the debate to
rearrange the set, replacing the lecterns with clusters of red airport
waiting room chairs, separated here and there by little magazine tables?

What was predictable was that in both arrangements, the two candidates
least likely to win the nomination were stationed at the "fringes."

After the set change, CNN proceeded to fill time by interviewing members
of the audience, before encouraging them to lob generic softballs toward
the stage. It made one grateful for the occasional dead microphone.

As for the candidates, John Edwards poked from third place in the polls at
Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama early on, without getting much of a
rise. Sen. Joe Biden rarely deviated from an everybody-else-is-an-idiot
tone of near-psychopathic rage, but Mike Gravel kept his anger - if not
his scathing wit - pretty much in check.

Sen. Christopher Dodd and Gov. Bill Richardson both presented themselves
as serious people who have been in government forever, and intend to stay
there, with Dodd winning the boilerplate trophy by a narrow margin.

The only candidate to draw real blood in the debate was Kucinich, who
horrified liberals everywhere by saying that Iraq is now "the Democrats'

A blog called Digby's Hullabaloo quickly accused Kucinich of "undermining
the single most important rationale for a Democratic president, which is
that the Republicans are responsible for the mess in Iraq," adding that
"it takes almost nothing to gain currency in the MSM and that particular
notion is a very dangerous one."

You bet it is.

The very real danger is that the top Democrats will be caught in a
withering crossfire, with Republicans accusing them of wanting to "cut and
run" from Iraq, and the rest of America saying, "if only they would!"

Mike Gravel underscored the risk by pointing out that most of the people
onstage with him were "part of the leadership right now in the Congress,
and could end the war if they want to."

If Kucinich and Gravel aren't included in future debates, look no further
for the reason.

The notion that Republicans - and not Democrats - are responsible for Iraq
is the straw house in which all Democratic prospects for 2008 abide.

The logic goes something like this: Bush One said, "Read my lips: no new
taxes." Then he raised taxes. Out he went.

The Democrats in 2006 said, "vote for us and we'll end the war." People
voted for them. They didn't end the war. Which only served to remind
people that many of these Democrats voted to authorize the war in the
first place.

Dennis Kucinich isn't the big bad wolf. Neither is Mike Gravel. What the
two of them said can hardly be called unthinkable, if most of the country
is already thinking it.

It's only a matter of time before people also start asking, where were the
Democrats on Katrina? Did they do anything to save the people of New
Orleans, or were they content to sit back and enjoy the effects of the
debacle on Bush and the GOP? Have you heard any of the leading candidates
talking about the Right of Return for displaced residents of the Crescent

Instead of trying to convince people to unthink what's already been thunk
- instead of endlessly jockeying to avoid "ownership" of the war - it's
high time for the Democrats to step up and claim it - and end it.

They need to stop seeing the war as something they can use to regain the
White House, and begin to see it as something they must stop at all costs.

Otherwise, if the single most important rationale for putting a Democrat
in the White House is Iraq, then there is no rationale. People who live in
straw houses shouldn't run for president, when the truth is blowing in the

David Vest can be reached through his web site at A
new CD featuring him, "The Last of the Best: Live Recordings by the Paul
deLay Band," will be released on June 12.

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

Libertarian Conference on War and Liberty
Shaming the Official Antiwar Movement
June 5, 2007

"Restoring the Republic: Foreign Policy and Civil Liberties," was the
title of a three-day conference hosted last weekend by the Future of
Freedom Foundation (, a Libertarian outfit in northern
Virginia. It was remarkable in many respects. There seemed to be more
attendants from "red" states than blue, and the critique of the war was

It was also quite open and tolerant. Yes, it was Libertarian through and
through, weighted heavily with scholars like Robert Higgs and Joseph
Stromberg, writers like Lew Rockwell and the irrepressible Justin
Raimondo. And of course there was Ron Paul who had lots of old friends
there and was greeted like a rock star. But there was also Daniel Ellsberg
who gave the most moving and inspiring talk of the conference and The
Nation's Robert Scheer who received a standing ovation. And then there was
Joseph Margulies the attorney whose clients include Guantanamo detainees
and Mamdouh Habib, the victim of CIA rendering from Pakistan to Egypt. And
when I explained that I was a Green there were a few double takes but
everyone was welcoming.

This contrasts mightily with the UFPJ demonstrations and assemblages in
D.C. Ask for Ron Paul or Justin Raimondo as a speaker; and UFPJ Co-chairs
Leslie Cagan and Judith LeBlanc, of the "C"PUSA, turn thumbs down. Dem
political hacks are always welcome at the UFPJ confabs, but no
Libertarians, no Left radicals like ANSWER, no Ralph Nader; Greens are
encouraged by UFPJ to work on these things but not to speak up with the
Green message.

Then there was the vigor of the antiwar critique. Although there was
mention of the disgusting use of "the troops' as cannon fodder, more
emphasis was placed on the hundreds of the thousands of deaths of innocent
Iraqis under the weight of Clinton's "sanctions" and Bush's bombs and
tanks. The tone of the religious critique, which came from an evangelical
minister, Lawrence Vance, was stronger than I have heard from "left" wing
preachers. Vance is not the sweetness-and-light type of prophet. His
recounting of the atrocities of U.S. imperialism over the twentieth
century were so complete and frank as to leave one numbed. And there was
little of the tone of forgiveness for the U.S. rulers. And this was the
tone of speaker after speaker who spared us no truth about the
depradations of the U.S. empire. Nor was there any talk about a more
efficient war or "cleaning up" Afhghanistan or heading for Iran or Darfur.
The Libertarians are deadly serious about terminating the empire. Ron Paul
and others spoke of the non-interventionist foreign policy at the heart of
the Libertarian view, demeaned by the mainstream as "isolationism."

And there was no hesitation to condemn the Israel Lobby for its
ever-present hand on the tiller of the war machine in Iraq and elsewhere.
If you want a flavor of it and its lack of anti-semitism look at
Raimondo's speech. ( But Higgs and others made
it quite clear that "our" wars grow out of empire not simply the
maneuverings of one very privileged and well placed client state. The
Libertarian view of the state is strikingly similar to Marx's - a coercive
apparatus in the hands of an economic, exploitive elite. I made that point
to Higgs and was surprised that he agreed. His contention is that Marxists
have a pretty sound view of the state but a lousy outlook on economics.
Libertarian and Marxist thought appear to have some common ground running
all the way back to the 16th century writings of La Boetie.

A lot of soul searching went on about exactly where the Republic has gone
wrong, and Karen Kwiatkowski, whose talk at the confernce was on C-Span,
traced it back to abandonment of the Articles of Confederation. But others
looked to Woodrow Wilson and, most especially Truman, the first president
to wage a war not formally declared by Congress. This most barbaric of
presidents is now held up by the mainstream Democrats as a great and
"tough" leader. And the half century of the Cold War was high on
everyone's list of events that have turned us into such a warlike society,
a giant Sparta. In fact William Buckley was often cited as one of the
principal traitors to the old conservative movement, willing in his words
to tolerate a form of "totalitarianism" within our land supposedly to
fight it elsewhere.

In the words of the Libertarian guru, Murray Rothbard, "war is the health
of the state." And the principal concern for Libertarians is the
inevitable erosion of civil liberties that war brings in its wake, and
here they are eager to compare Bush to Lincoln in suspending habeas

There is also a generational shift in the Libertarian movement. The Cold
War Right is disappearing, and Libertarians like Raimondo who came of age
in the 1960s or later are coming to the fore. That too was evident at the
conference where some of the older participants would on occasion lapse
into loyalty to the Republican Party. But for the new generation, this
kind of partisanship is not on the agenda. The battle for their own ideas
is paramount, and they are not in a mood to compromise on them.

At the front of the hall throughout the proceedings, FFF had placed a
portrait of Jefferson. And we were reminded more than once of the quote
from Benjamin Franklin that "we must all hang together or surely we will
all hang separately." It is time for the official antiwar movement to seek
out allies like the Libertarians, who can reach many who cannot be reached
with the antiwar message of a socialist or Green. If we do not, we may
find ourselves, gradually, oh so gradually, put in the same fix that
Franklin feared.

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar [at]

--------x of x--------

The Economy of Fuel
Lead-Foot Nation
June 5, 2007

We have a dwindling supply, a hugely hungry demand and a government
unwilling to act. I'm talking about oil, of course, and our
head-in-the-Middle-Eastern-sand attitude. Just keep driving, we think, and
maybe our grandkids will figure it out.

A story to illustrate: In 1989 my wife and I bought our first new car, a
cherry red Volkswagen Jetta we named "Lucy," in honor of our favorite
comedian. Nothing earth-shattering, or earth-saving, except for this: It
was a diesel and got 43 miles per gallon.

After 237,000 miles and 18 years of hard use, the shine has evaporated but
this car still gets 43 mpg. And though it won't win any beauty contests --
we had to bolt the bumper to the car because of a little rust -- it chugs
right along, giving us over 500 miles for every tank of fuel.

Say we had bought instead a car that traveled 20.7 mpg, the average for
all U.S. passenger vehicles in 1989, according to the Energy Department.
We would have burned 5,937 gallons more, over twice as much fuel.

Now pretend that everyone in 1989 had a car as efficient as our little
Lucy. Given the roughly 148 million household vehicles in the United
States in 1989, and that each traveled on average 10,000 miles, we would
have saved almost 40 billion gallons in just that one year. Multiply that
by the 18 years since, and it is enough to make one stop the car and weep.

But an even sadder truth is that the United States hasn't changed its fuel
economy standards for passenger cars in 17 years, and this leads to
another story.

In 2004 our family needed another vehicle, something that could handle our
long, steep driveway, even in winter. I wanted another VW, but couldn't
find one with both a diesel engine and four-wheel drive. So now a Subaru
Forester parks beside the VW Jetta, the shiny green making Lucy's red even
more dull. The Forester gets 27 mpg -- not bad compared with other
vehicles, family and friends point out. But I look at the VW and know
better. Had our country's standards improved, we'd have more and better

Other advanced industrial countries -- the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan
-- use less than a third as much gasoline per person as we do, according
to the World Resources Institute. They've accomplished this with a
combination of higher taxes on gasoline and better fuel efficiency.

So what will it take to make us change? Why should we care about our
vehicles' minute mpg numbers? Start with air pollution and the health
problems it can cause. Then consider unregulated carbon dioxide, the
leading driver of humankind's role in global climate change. The Energy
Department says that vehicles emit about 25 percent of our country's
carbon dioxide. If you drive a 25 mpg car instead of a 20 mpg car 12,000
miles in a year, you cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1.2 tons.

What's more, boosting fuel economy saves us money and reduces the oil we
import, bolstering our nation's energy security.

But simply improving efficiency is not enough. Historically, efficiency
has led to even more resource consumption, so we'll need to raise fuel
taxes to ensure we don't drive away our efficiency gains.

So when will we no longer be Lead-Foot Nation? When can I buy a 75-mpg
four-wheel drive? Soon, I hope. Slowly, the auto industry and our
legislators are shifting gears, but we steer them as much as they steer
us. With voices and wallets, we can speak more loudly for more
fuel-efficient vehicles. Both the president and Congress are considering
bills to improve efficiency standards; we can urge them to act instead of
just consider.

Ironically, last year my family didn't pay taxes on beloved Lucy. The
assessor deemed the Jetta too old to have any value. Though I appreciate
paying less in taxes, I disagree with the assessor's, and our country's,
definition of value.

Jim Minick teaches at Radford University in Virginia and also farms. A
poet and essayist, his latest book is "Finding a Clear Path."


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