Progressive Calendar 01.30.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2008 14:27:59 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   01.30.08

1. Guatemala/film  1.30 5:30 pm
2. Vote count/film 1.30 6:45pm
3. Climate/film    1.30 time?

4. CMD         - Full frontal scrutiny
5. Jim Fuller  - Popular ignorance and the road to fascism
6. Greg Palast - One Bush left behind

--------1 of 6--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Guatemala/film 1.30 5:30 pm

Wednesday, 1/30, 5:30 pm, film "Killer's Paradise" about more than 2,000
women murdered in Guatemala since 1999, Humphrey Center, U of M, 301 -
19th Ave S, Mpls.

--------2 of 6--------

From: Jennifer J. Thomas <jjthomas [at]>
Subject: Vote count/film 1.30 6:45pm

Wednesday, January 30, 6:45 pm
Riverview Theater 3800 42nd Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55406 (E 38th St and 42nd
Ave S) 612-729-7369

UNCOUNTED: The New Math of American Elections

Minnesota theatrical premier of a riveting new documentary on the
vulnerability of U.S. Elections featuring a Q&A with Emmy Award winning
filmmaker, David Earnhardt, after the film.  Find out if your vote will
count in 2008 - invite your friends!  Hosted by Citizens for Election
Integrity Minnesota  <outbind://301/> with the
Voting Rights Working Group of Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social
Justice Alliance (MUUSJA)  <outbind://301/>
Doors open at 6:15pm. Film is 80 minutes; Q&A will follow. FFI: Contact
Jennifer Thomas, Jennifer [at] or 612-920-2653.  Tickets $8 ($5 for
students and limited income) .

More about the film [if space]: Computer programmers, statisticians,
journalists, and election officials provide compelling evidence - along
with eyewitness accounts from whistleblowers - documenting how Jim Crow
tactics, electronic voting machine security breaches, an alarming number
of undervotes and allegedly illegal behavior by a voting machine vendor,
all threaten the very core of our democracy - the vote. Uncounted was
honored with the Official Gold Circle Screening at the Sacremento Film &
Music Festival.  Discussion with David Earnhardt (Filmmaker), Mark
Halvorson (Director, CEIMN) and Mai Thor (MN Disability Law Center).


NIck Coleman: Every vote counts - unless, of course, it doesn't
NICK COLEMAN, Star Tribune

Barack Obama's coming Saturday, John Edwards is in town tonight, Mike
Huckabee's wife was here Monday, and the governor of Minnesota has been
following John McCain around like a puppy following the Big Dog.

Yes, it's an election year. Political pulses are pounding.

But the Nov. 4 election may do more than choose a president. It may also
decide whether we can still trust democracy, after two elections marked by
vote-tampering and fraud.

It will help if we can believe our votes count this time.

That is what it's supposed to be about. One person, one vote is the
democratic ideal. But over the past few elections, we've learned hard
lessons: Millions of voters can be kept out of the equation -- by keeping
them from the polls, by under-counting ballots or even changing the vote

It can happen here. It has.

But will the vote-counting scandals and controversies of the past two
elections happen again next fall? That's the question asked in a new
documentary film that will be shown Wednesday night at the Riverview
Theater in Minneapolis. Called "Uncounted," the documentary is a
disturbing look at the weaknesses in our system of counting ballots, which
allow manipulation of the outcome and corruption of the very idea of a

"I used to take for granted that our system was sound," said Mark
Halvorson, director of Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, a
nonpartisan group that advocates for verifiable elections and is
sponsoring the film (for more information, see "Then I
went to Ohio in 2004.

"That was very eye-opening."

Halvorson, 52, quit his job as a social worker to begin working full time
to help make elections open and accurate after observing the "laundry
list" of problems that disrupted voting in Ohio in the 2004 election. So
many people were unable to vote due to equipment or polling place
problems, and so many who managed to cast ballots did not have their votes
recorded, that Ohio -- which was won by George Bush and helped secure his
reelection -- is the model for what can go wrong. And will go wrong,
unless citizens are vigilant.

Although the film focuses on questions about Bush's 2000 victory in
Florida and his 2004 win in Ohio, Halvorson says the issue is larger than
who has partisan advantage.

"Problems with voting systems cut across party lines," said Halvorson.
"This is not about which party wins. It's about making sure the losers can
be confident that they lost, in a fair and verifiable manner. That's about
safeguarding the integrity of the system."

David Earnhardt, the Nashville film producer who spent three years making
"Uncounted," said he wanted "to give as much evidence as I could, in an
80-minute film, to connect the dots a bit and show the many different ways
election results can be manipulated. We have the 2008 election coming up,
so the more aware the people are, the more difficult it makes it to pull
these shenanigans."

Republicans have as big a stake as Democrats.

"In recent years, Republicans have been the ones in the best position to
benefit from manipulating election results," Earnhardt said. "But they
should flip it around and ask themselves if they want to be in that
position with the Democrats in power. This is totally nonpartisan. It's a
moral issue -- we were raised to believe that our vote is the essence of
our freedom-loving democracy. If our votes don't count, it makes Americans
mad. All Americans."

Or, as Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., says in the film:

"If you don't know that your vote is counted, and counted fairly, then we
have no democracy. It becomes rule by a small group of elite insiders who
manipulate what looks like a democracy for their own advantage. They're
happy with the way it is right now. ... They get to rule, instead of the
will of the people."

Minnesota vote-counting practices are solid. But voters in 14 states will
vote on touch-screen machines that keep no certifiable record of the
votes. What voters can do to help, Halvorson says, is to volunteer to be
election judges and observers of post-election audits, to make sure
official totals are correct.

"This is in the interest of every citizen and candidate," he says. "Way
too much has been taken for granted."

("Uncounted" will be shown at 6:45 pm. Wednesday at the Riverview Theater,
3800 42nd Ave. S. Tickets are $8 ($5 for students and seniors). The film
will be followed by a discussion with producer David Earnhardt. For more
information, go to

Nick Coleman - ncoleman [at]

--------3 of 6--------

From: Carol Greenwood <carolgwood [at]>
Subject: Climate/film 1.30 time?

On Wednesday night we will host a screening of a live webcast from FTN
headquarters featuring nationally recognized scientific researchers and
climate experts, as well as actor Edward Norton.  Following the
screening we'll have a panel discussion about local climate change

--------4 of 6--------

Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2008 11:06:46 -0500 (EST)
From: Center for Media and Democracy <weekly-spin [at]>
Subject: Full Frontal Scrutiny

The Center for Media and Democracy and Consumer Reports WebWatch Launch
Full Frontal Scrutiny

"The American public deserves to know when someone is trying to persuade
them." ? U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein,
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008

Full Frontal Scrutiny ( is a joint project between
Consumer Reports WebWatch ( and the Center for
Media and Democracy ( The site will shine a light on
front groups - organizations that state a particular agenda, while hiding
or obscuring their identity, membership or sponsorship, or all three.
Google the term "front groups" and the number one return is CMD's
extensive articles on its SourceWatch site (

CMD Research Director Sheldon Rampton summed the project up like this:
"Full Frontal Scrutiny will be like no other site on the Web. Fakers,
phonies and front groups beware - you will be exposed."

WebWatch and CMD will create original content for Full Frontal Scrutiny.
The Full Frontal Scrutiny site ( is debuting today
with an investigation of front group activity on Wikipedia.  The
information includes a guide to help consumers get the most out of that
site and other information sources on the Web, and with a history of front
groups and their nefarious activities. Full Frontal Scrutiny will also
publish selected content from WebWatch and from the CMD's SourceWatch
site, as well as aggregating news about front groups from other reliable

"For six years, Consumer Reports WebWatch has evaluated sites against five
simple guidelines for credibility and trustworthiness," said Beau
Brendler, WebWatch's director. "Who owns the site? What's its purpose and
mission? Does it disclose sources of funding or key relationships with
third parties? These are important questions for consumers to ask about
any Web site, and they're also remarkably effective for ferreting out
sites that intend to spin, obfuscate or dress up an unpopular agenda."

Full Frontal Scrutiny will focus on front groups in the health, personal
finance, electronics and Internet, automotive, home, environment, travel
and other topic areas of particular interest to Consumers Union and within
its expertise.

Visit the site at

--------5 of 6--------

Monday, January 28, 2008
Popular ignorance and the road to fascism
by Jim Fuller

It was a question I didn't want to answer at first.

Dick Bernard, who puts out an almost daily newsletter on behalf of
Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, ran across a quotation from Winston
Churchill in a book he read recently.

Churchill, of course, recognized the dangers inherent in any and all forms
of government and noted that "The best argument against democracy is a
five-minute conversation with the average voter."

Bernard, who likes to get people thinking and to involve them in
conversations that will foster that noble goal, asked his readers what
application the quotation has to the present-day United States.

The answer seemed clear to me. I've devoted much thought in recent years
to the United States form of government and the reasons for what I
believe is its likely demise, sooner rather than later. My great
sadness, and fear, at that conclusion doesn't change the facts.

But, frankly, I'm tired of the venom spit at me by people who don't want
to know some of the information I pass on, or who simply don't agree
with my views. Bernard's question was one I didn't have to deal with.

Only, once you set yourself the task of passing out information that
people don't generally get from corporate news outlets and, worse, to
putting out there in space perceptions that usually are not voiced out
loud and in public, you're committed. Gotta do it. If people don't like
what you say, they're free to ignore you, and if they spew hatred at
you, you're free (for now) to ignore that.

So, with only minor modifications to what I said in a quickly written
reply to Dick Bernard's question:

There seems to be very little chance of saving the American democratic
republic that people of my generation, and a couple of subsequent
generations, grew up in. We are heading rapidly - far more rapidly than
even the average pessimist has realized - toward an essentially fascist
form of government.

In that light, Churchill's comment accurately applies to the United
States of today. There are powerful autocratic forces working to bring
about the change, but their efforts are working, can work, only because
of the ignorance, frequent stupidity and rampant cowardice of the
country's citizens.

Those characteristics have, in fact, replaced the old - always at least
partially fictional - American characteristics of courage, innovative
and independent thought and self reliance.

Anyone who gets out and about beyond the little world of people who
seriously concern themselves regularly with public affairs, government,
politics and such knows that the vast majority of Americans are not
talking about the issues that concern Dick Bernard in his daily news
note or me in my blog commentaries.

To the degree that they are paying any attention at all to the
presidential campaign - I find almost no one who is even aware of races
for lesser offices - Americans are paying attention only to the horse
race and the generally false issues and distractions put before them by
the flapping jaws of broadcast outlets and by what used to be newspapers.

Worse, only a small minority of Americans seem to have any understanding
of the principles informing the creation of our form of government and
under which it operated for a goodly number of years.

They generally have no grasp of the history, they haven't a clue about
the purposes of the founders in laying out a constitution that protected
minorities from majorities, or, for example, the real point of
"religious freedom." It is indisputable that millions of Americans think
that latter point means freedom to force their own religious-cum-moral
views on the country as a whole.

It could hardly be otherwise.

Our educational system has been deliberately undermined for several
generations now, and is getting worse almost by the month. Even in the
neighborhoods of the supposedly best educated - that is, those with
college degrees - public schools teach to the test. Critical thinking,
the most important of all skills for citizens, no longer is taught and,
in fact, is actively discouraged.

"Just believe what we tell you," is the message, and the parents, taught
the same thing and fearful of going against accepted beliefs and mores,

Young people are taught and raised up to be obedient employees and
consumers, not to be thinking citizens.

Of course, we have raised generations of kids to believe in the
supposedly indisputable wonders of unrestrained capitalism and the royal
infallibility of its leaders. We almost literally adore the rich,
regardless of who and what they are in truth.

And for many years now, but especially over the past seven years, our
leaders, with the unstinting help of what used to be an independent
press, have preached a gospel of fear.

This is the message, pounded at us without relief: The rest of the world
is against us. Anyone who doesn't agree without exception to the demands
of our government is against us. The Muslim world, in its entirety, is
jealous of us (a nonsensical proposition if you know anything at all of
Islam) and wants to destroy us. And, of course, we are totally innocent
victims of that hatred and blood lust.

Millions of Americans, probably a substantial majority, have come to
believe the propaganda, to believe that only our political and corporate
elite, our leaders - the ones who sell us that fear - can protect us
from the hordes of mass-murdering, dark-skinned people.

A number of devices, such as airport "security," are designed not to
protect us but to reinforce the fear and provide the illusion that we
are being protected.

Too ignorant to choose wisely on policy or leaders? Absolutely.

And I don't see anything in the offing that will change that dismal fact
- most certainly not the election of any of the intellectually stunted
and timid individuals chosen by the news media and the two branches of
the Corporate Party as candidates for president.

There have been many solid and intellectually honest books about the
terrible state of our democracy published during the past couple of
years. Several truly are important, but the one I put above all others
for baring essential, if terrifying, truths is "The End of America;
Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot" by Naomi Wolf. It doesn't take
long to read, and it's essential if you care about where we're going.

See you in the camps.

JIM FULLER is a veteran journalist, who was the business reporter and
jazz writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for 30 years. In
semi-retirement he writes commentary on current issues with insight &
sering wit at:
Highly recommended! Lydia Howell, KFAI Radio, Minneapolis,MN

--------6 of 6--------

One Bush Left Behind
by Greg Palast

Here's your question, class:

In his State of the Union, the President asked Congress for $300
million for poor kids in the inner city. As there are, officially, 15
million children in America living in poverty, how much is that per
child? Correct! $20.

Here's your second question. The President also demanded that
Congress extend his tax cuts. The cost: $4.3 trillion over ten years.
The big recipients are millionaires. And the number of millionaires
happens, not coincidentally, to equal the number of poor kids,
roughly 15 million of them. OK class: what is the cost of the tax cut
per millionaire? That's right, Richie, $287,000 apiece.

Mr. Bush said, "In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys
and girls with dreams. And a decent education is their only hope of
achieving them."

So how much educational dreaming will $20 buy?

-George Bush's alma mater, Phillips Andover Academy, tells us their
annual tuition is $37,200. The $20 "Pell Grant for Kids," as the
White House calls it, will buy a poor kid about 35 minutes of this
educational dream. So they'll have to wake up quickly.

-$20 won't cover the cost of the final book in the Harry Potter series.

If you can't buy a book nor pay tuition with a sawbuck, what exactly can a
poor kid buy with $20 in urban America? The Palast Investigative Team
donned baseball caps and big pants and discovered we could obtain what
local citizens call a "rock" of crack cocaine. For $20, we were guaranteed
we could fulfill any kid's dream for at least 15 minutes.

Now we could see the incontrovertible logic in what appeared to be
quixotic ravings by the President about free trade with Colombia, Pell
Grant for Kids and the surge in Iraq. In Iraq, General Petraeus tells us
we must continue to feed in troops for another ten years. There is no way
the military can recruit these freedom fighters unless our lower income
youth are high, hooked and desperate. Don't say, "crack vials," they're,
"Democracy Rocks"!

The plan would have been clearer if Mr. Bush had kept in his speech
the line from his original draft which read, "I have ordered 30,000
additional troops to Iraq this year - and I am proud to say my
military-age kids are not among them."

Of course, there's an effective alternative to Mr. Bush's plan - which
won't cost a penny more. Simply turn it upside down. Let's give each
millionaire in America a $20 bill, and every poor child $287,000.

And, there's an added benefit to this alternative. Had we turned Mr.
Bush and his plan upside down, he could have spoken to Congress from
his heart.

Greg Palast is the author of the NY Times best-sellers, Armed
Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. View Palast's
investigative reports for BBC Television on our YouTube Channel.


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