Progressive Calendar 02.21.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2008 04:51:38 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    02.21.08

1. Sustain ag        2.21 12noon
2. Jim Wallis        2.21 12noon
3. Global treadmill  2.21 12:30pm
4. Aeon/CCHT         2.21 4:30pm
5. Anti-war demo     2.21 4:30pm Rochester MN
6. Women/politics    2.21 5:30pm
7. Eagan peace vigil 2.21 4:30pm
8. Northtown vigil   2.21 5pm
9. Peace dance       2.21 5:30pm
10. Homeless         2.21 6:30pm
11. GP candidates    2.21 6:30pm
12. AWC newbie       2.21 7pm
13. Peace Island     2.21 7pm
14. Tin Drum/film    2.21 7pm
15. Health class     2.21 7pm
16. AI-Wayzata       2.21 7:15pm

17. Howell/Olson     2.22 11am
18. Palestine vigil  2.22 4:15pm
19. Palestine/film   2.22 7:30pm
20. NOW/freelance/TV 2.22 8:30pm
21. Moyers/earmarks  2.22 9pm

22. Mike Ferner   - How sick of it are you? Dissent of the governed
23. PC Roberts    - Lies and spies: Bush's life of constitutional crime
24. Steve Eckardt - Cuba sans Fidel: No news is big news
25. Arthur Silber - No one is safe: The ruling class unleashed
26. ed            - The great debate  (poem)

--------1 of 26-------

From: "bulldogsmn [at]" <bulldogsmn [at]>
Subject: Sustain ag 2.21 12noon

-- I invite people to join my Yahoo group that are interested in
Environmental Issues.
-Laura Cina --

Food and the Fate of the World: Re-Thinking the Ecology and Community
of Agri-Culture part of the Conversations on Sustainability series

Professor Anne R. Kapuscinski, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and
Conservation Biology and Director of Institute for Social Economic and
Ecological Sustainability and Dana Jackson, Program Associate for The Land
Stewardship Project and co-author of The Farm as Natural Habitat:
Reconnecting Food Systems with Ecosystems as well as Professor Bud
Markhart, a member of the Sustainable Agriculture Minor faculty as well as
Director for the Student Organic Farm speak about where our food comes
from, the state of current agriculture and why we need to care.

February 21st, 12:00 - 1:30
Mississippi Room, Coffman Union

Why: Economic incentives and a "junk-food culture" are just a few of
themotivators for factory farming and the sacrifice of healthy
ecosystems. Over half of the state of Minnesota is dedicated to farmland,
with many non-diversified monoculture crops of soybeans or corn. How does
this type of farming affect our soil and rivers, rural communities, and
human health? What might be more sustainable alternative approaches to
food and agriculture?

Please RSVP to sustainu [at] by February 19th to receive your free
local organic lunch! **if you do not RSVP by Feb. 19th, you can still
attend but will not receive a free lunch.

--------2 of 26--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Jim Wallis 2.21 12noon

Thursday, 2/21, noon to 1 pm, Christian activist Jim Wallis speaks on
"Reclaiming Government as a Source for Good," Weyerhaeuser Chapel,
Macalester College, Grand & Snelling, St. Paul.

--------3 of 26--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Global treadmill 2.21 12:30pm

February 21: Center on Women & Public Policy "Race & Gender Along the
Global Assembly Line." Featuring Bama Athreya, Executive Director of the
International Labor Rights Forum. 12:30-4:00 p.m., Wilkins Room (215)
Humphrey Center All are welcome. Come for all or part- no RSVP necessary.
Light refreshments served.

--------4 of 26--------

From: Jenny Johnson <JJohnson [at]>
Subject: Aeon/CCHT 2.21 4:30pm

Learn how Aeon is responding to the affordable housing shortage in the
Twin Cities. Please join us for a 1-hour Building Dreams presentation.

St. Paul Sessions: February 21 at 4:30 pm

We are also happy to present Building Dreams at your organization, place
of worship, or business. Space is limited, please register online at: or call Jenny Johnson at 612-341-3148 x237

--------5 of 26--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Anti-war demo 2.21 4:30pm Rochester MN

Thursday, 2/21, 4:30 pm, demonstration against the war, 2nd St SW and
Broadway, Rochester, followed by 6:45 meeting of SE MN Peacemakers at the
Rochester Public Library, room A.  FFI:

--------6 of 26--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Women/politics 2.21 5:30pm

Thursday, February 21: American Association of University Women St. Paul
Branch. Evening Program: Hillary, Nancy & Condi: Women in Politics in the
U.S. with Julie Dolan, Associate Professor, Political Science Department,
Macalester College. 5:30 PM.

--------7 of 26--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 2.21 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.

--------8 of 26--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 2.21 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]

--------9 of 26--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Peace dance 2.21 5:30pm

Thursday, 2/21, 5:30 pm silent auction, 7 pm dinner, 8 to 10 pm dancing,
annual carnival and silent auction to benefit the Nonviolent Peaceforce,
Cedars Hall-St Maron's Church, 602 University Ave NE, Mpls.  $45 to
Nonviolent Peaceforce/Carnival, 425 Oak Grove St, Mpls. 55403 or

--------10 of 26--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Homeless 2.21 6:30pm

February 21: League of Women Voters Minneapolis & others. Public Forum on
Homeless Initiative. 6:30 PM. Temple Israel, Minneapolis.

--------11 of 26--------

From: Eric Gilbertson <aleric [at]>
Subject: GP candidates 2.21 6:30pm

Open to anyone interested in supporting Green Party endorsed candidates
for the 2009 Minneapolis municipal elections.

Thursday, February 21st
6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
(and potentially later, but we'll have to move somewhere else)
Northeast Public Library 2200 Central Ave

A committee of the 5th CD GPMN

Please come and help us figure out ways to gather people, ideas, and
energy for the 2009 campaign.

--------12 of 26--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
Subject: AWC newbie 2.21 7pm

Anti-War Committee:  New members meeting
Thursday 2/21 @ 7pm @ Conference Rm. 102A, 1313 5th St SE, Room 102A,

Planning to protest at the Republican Convention in 2008? Interested in
organizing against the war?  Want to help build a movement to stop it? The
Anti-War Committee is the place for you! New people are always welcome,
but this meeting will cater to first-timers who want to learn about our
organizing & to help plan upcoming actions. For more information contact
the Anti-War Committee (, 612.389.3899).

--------13 of 26--------

From: Joe Schwartzberg <schwa004 [at] UMN.EDU>
Subject: Peace Island 2.21 7pm

This September, when the Republican National Convention takes place in St.
Paul,  Minnesotans will have a rare opportunity to help shape history. The
eyes of the world will then be focused on the Twin Cities and thousands of
media people will be here in search of news stories, many of which will
serve as counterpoints to the carefully orchestrated proceedings inside
the XCel Center. If you would like to be a part of the action or even if
you would simply like to know what will be going on, be sure to come to
the February Third Thursday Global Issues Forum, the details for which are
provided below.

Free and open to the public.
Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church,511 Groveland
Avenue, Minneapolis (at Lyndale & Hennepin) Park in church lot.

Thursday, February 21, 7-9pm

Since late 2006, under the auspices of the Minnesota Alliance of
Peacemakers (MAP), a committee of eight dedicated activists has been
preparing a major conference to be held at the same time as the Republican
National Convention in St. Paul in September. This conference, to be held
at Concordia College in St. Paul, will establish a true "Peace Island"
between the dynamics of the Convention itself and the myriad
demonstrations and events to which the Convention will give rise. The
Peace Island initiative will feature local and nationally known presenters
to promote and celebrate peace, justice, non-violent activism, harmony,
care of the earth, and a vision for a better world. If you or a group to
which you belong would like to become associated with or learn more about
this exciting project, you ought to attend this Third Thursday Forum. A
related event, a Peace Rally and March to the RNC, will also be discussed.

 Presenters: DICK BERNARD, MARIE BRAUN and DENNIS DILLON.  Following a
career with the Minnesota Education Association, BERNARD became a
virtually full-time peace and justice activist. A past Board member of CGS
MN, he has also served the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP) in
numerous capacities and was as its President for the past three years, a
period in which MAP witnessed truly remarkable growth.
 BRAUN has been associated with Women Against Military Madness for 25
years, is a co-founder of WAMM's Iraq Committee and is active with several
other groups working on Iraq. She was named "Activist of the Year" by the
Minnesota Alliance for Progressive Action in 2003 and, along with her
husband John, was a co-recipient of a 2006 peace and justice award from
the Hawkinson Foundation.
 DILLON is active in various justice, peace and sustainability issues at
the Basilica of Saint Mary and elsewhere in the Twin Cities. He represents
the Basilica in MAP; serves on MAP's Executive Committee, the Steering
Team of the Network of Spiritual Progressives and the Board of the MN
Chapter of CGS; and chairs the Peace Island steering committee. 

The Third Thursday Global Issues Forums are sponsored by the Minnesota
Chapter of Citizens for Global Solutions and endorsed by a number of other
peace and justice organizations. 

--------14 of 26--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Tin Drum/film 2.21 7pm

Thursday, 2/21, 7 pm, German film "The Tin Drum" about a young boy growing
up in Danzig during the rise of Nazism who decides to stop growing and
communicates only by banging on his tin drum, Landmark Center's
Weyerhaeuser Auditorium, 75 W 5th St, St Paul.

--------15 of 26--------

From: Joel Albers <joel [at]>
Subject: Health class 2.21 7pm

We have 16 folks signed-up for the Exco health care activism class.  The
next class will meet 7PM this Thursday Feb 21 and the following Thurs Feb
28 at MayDay Books 301 Cedar ave, Mpls. Their number is 612-333-4719. My
number is 612-384-0973, or email.

Please let me know if there is any specific topic you want us to discuss

successful direct actions by seniors for Rx drugs, AIDS activists, persons
with disabilities and bus accessability; the upcoming election and health
car;, legislation; health care and resisting the RNC, starting our own
health fund, mental health, long term care, drug issues, your personal
stories are powerful too.

Hope to see you there, even if you missed the first class.

Joel Albers Pharm.D., Ph.D. Clinical Pharmacist, Health Economics
Researcher Universal Health Care Action Network - MN Community/University
Collaborative Research email: joel [at] phone:

--------16 of 26--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: AI-Wayzata 2.21 7:15pm

AIUSA Group 315 (Wayzata area) meets Thursday, February 21st, at 7:15 p.m.
St. Luke Presbyterian Church, 3121 Groveland School Road, Wayzata (near
the intersection of Rt. 101 and Minnetonka Blvd). For further information,
contact Richard Bopp at Richard_C_Bopp [at]

--------17 of 26--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Howell/Olson 2.22 11am

The HISTORY THEATER is dong a production called PEACE-CRIMES, that
explores the story of the MINNESOTA 8: eight anti-war, draft-resisters
who were tried, convicted and spent years in prison for opposing the
Vietnam War.
Hear one of the MN 8, DON OLSON, on KFAI Radio today/Fri.Feb. 15, 11am for
Friday's HOUR OF POWER - people' power that is!  -

TODAY/FRI,FEB.15:CATALYST, 11am hosted by Lydia Howell & NORTHERN SUN
NEWS,11:30am Don Olson's longtime show.
KFAI 90.3fm Mpls 106.7 fm St Paul ALL
shows archived for 2 weeks after broadcast online at

--------18 of 26--------

From: Karen Redleaf <vegan14ever [at]>
Subject: Palestine vigil 2.22 4:15pm

Friday 4:15 to 5:30 pm, vigil to end US military/political support of the
Israeli occupation of Palestine, corner Summit and Snelling, St Paul.
Cancelled if temp below 20F.

--------19 of 26--------

From: Mizna  <mizna-announce [at]>
Subject: Palestine/film 2.22 7:30pm

Friday, February 22, 7:30 pm

Film Ertijal, followed by a discussion with the Joubran Brothers (the
subjects of the film!)

Oak Street Cinema
309 Oak Street SE
Minneapolis, Minnesota
copresented with the Minnesota Guitar Society

Witness the tensions & wonderful humor between a family of Palestinian Oud
makers & musicians, whose livelihood is also their passion. The brothers
have strikingly different personalities, yet their music requires
listening & responding closely to one another as they improvise intricate
& beautiful songs in performances around the globe. See several
mesmerizing performances, gain insight into the experiences & challenges
for Palestinians living in Israel & Palestine, & experience first-hand the
family's everyday struggles & triumphs.

Join us for a discussion with the subjects of the film, the Joubran
Brothers, following the film!

Mizna is a forum for Arab American art.  Visit our website:

--------20 of 26--------

From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at]>
Subject: NOW/freelance/TV 2.22 8:30pm

NOW Programing Note | Freelancers Unionize for Benefits

Temporary workers and independent contractors make up nearly a third of
the US workforce, and represent a growing asset to companies who rely on
freelance flexibility. But corporations are using the designation
"freelancer" to avoid paying health care and other benefits, even though
many of these workers put in the same hours as their covered counterparts.
This week, NOW looks at the effect of this tactic on the lives and
personal economy of freelance workers.

--------21 of 26--------

From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at]>
Subject: Moyers/earmarks 2.22 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | Earmarks

"Bill Moyers Journal and the PBS series 'Expose: America's Investigative
Reports' offer a hard and fresh look at how earmarks really work. The
broadcast profiles Seattle Times reporters on the trail of how members of
Congress have awarded federal dollars for questionable purposes to
companies in local Congressional districts - often to companies whose
executives, employees or PACs have made campaign contributions to the
legislators. The segment also focuses on how earmarks for some products
were added to the defense appropriations bill even in cases in which the
military didn't want them in the first place."

--------22 of 26--------

Dissent of the Governed
How Sick of It Are You?
February 20, 2008

We have screamed at the heavens and cried bitter tears. We've marched and
picketed and gone to jail. And we are sick. Sick of the corruption - sick
of the liars - sick of this war!

On March 19, the day the U.S. invaded Iraq five years ago, we'll be sick
of it yet again. But on that revolting day we can do something
nonviolently revolutionary. We can withdraw our consent from this sick
system - by calling in sick.

People are signing up to do just that at the "Sick Of It Day" website.
With passion and eloquence they're saying why they are "sick of it."


"Because over a million innocents have died. Because the Democrats, who
promised to end the war, have been in control of the budget now for almost
a year and a half, and they have continued to fund the war. Because I'm
disgusted with Bush, Cheney and the Democrats."
David Lindorff, Ambler PA

"The lies, the deaths, the brutality, the sheer hubris and arrogance, and
the obscene profits from it all."
Ron Jacobs, Asheville NC

"Because Lavena Johnson is dead and she should not be and her parents are
broken-hearted. Because Ken Ballard is dead and he should not be and his
parents are broken-hearted. Because James Curtis Coons is dead and he
should not be and his parents are broken-hearted. Because there are
"officially" 3,960 young men and women who are dead and they should not be
and their parents, wives, husbands, children, grandparents, siblings,
friends, lovers, and communities are broken-hearted. Because the wounded
will live with their own broken hearts, hopes and dreams. And so will
their families. Because the collective heart of Iraq...that is beyond
Peggy Daly-Masternak, Toledo OH

"Like hamsters we run the wheel, never getting ahead. While our leaders
kill, bomb & torture for fun and big profits. These soldiers are our sons
& daughters and our government turns them into monsters - War is not glory
it's horror - This is not life! It's death described as life."
Michael McKinney, Bay Village OH

"My daughter is an Iraq Vet and on Inactive Ready Reserve...and risks
another Iraq deployment. Our congresswoman is on the OUT OF IRAQ Caucus,
but continues to fund this occupation every other time it is presented to
her. My x son-in-law is a disabled, Purple Heart Iraq Veteran. We have to
stop drinking the kool-aid, wake up America!"
Dinah Mason, Santa Barbara CA

"I am sick of hearing people lose hope and say there's nothing that can be
done - we can start change now. Being sick of it is only the first step.
We must - believe again that we really do have the power to make an
impact, and put our conscience into action."
Susan Burky, Reading PA

"I am sick of seeing another generation of young men and women get
betrayed and destroyed by their country. I am sick of feeling again each
blow a mother gave me when I told her that her only son was killed in
Vietnam - I am sick of having the visions of little knee high kids maimed
by bombs in another never should have happened war - I am sick that we
never learned the lessons of Vietnam and are repeating them again in
Paul Appell, Altona IL

"I am sick of all the killing. I am sick of the lies. I am sick of the
apathy - I am sick of feeling ashamed of my country."
Peggy Love, Rock Island WA

"I am sick of seeing America in denial about how much we have been lied
Adam Kokesh, Washington DC

"I'm sick of seeing The American People fall for scum bag propaganda and
disempowering their own ears, eyes, brains, and hearts."
Susan Galleymore, Alameda CA

Sick enough? Then sign up here: And when you call in
sick on March 19, before going back to bed or out to protest, check out
this link to the document that started a revolution against another King
George. Note where it says "Governments are instituted among Men (sic),
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed -"

We no longer consent. We are sick of it.

Mike Ferner is a member of Veterans For Peace, the sponsor of "Sick Of It

--------23 of 26--------

Bush's Life of Constitutional Crime
Lies and Spies
February 20, 2008

President George W. Bush and his director of National Intelligence, Mike
McConnell, are telling the American people that an unaccountable executive
branch is necessary for their protection. Without the Protect America Act,
Bush and McConnell claim, the executive branch will not be able to spy on
terrorists, and we will all be blown up. Terrorists can only be stopped,
Bush says, if Bush has the right to spy on everyone without any oversight
by courts.

The fight over the Protect America Act has everything to do with our
safety, only not in the way that Bush and McConnell assert.

Bush says the Democrats have put "our country more in danger of an attack"
by letting the Protect America Act lapse. This claim is nonsense. The 30
year old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act gives the executive branch
all the power it needs to spy on terrorists.

The choice between FISA and the Protect America Act has nothing whatsoever
to do with terrorism, at least not from foreign terrorists. Bush and his
brownshirts object to FISA, because the law requires Bush to obtain
warrants from a FISA court. Warrants mean that Bush is accountable. Bush
and his brownshirts argue that accountability is an infringement on the
power of the president.

To escape accountability, the Brownshirt Party came up with the Protect
America Act. This act eliminates Bush's accountability to judges and gives
the telecom companies immunity from the felonies they committed by
acquiescing in Bush's illegal spying.

Bush began violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in
October 2001 when he spied on Americans without obtaining warrants from
the FISA court.

Bush pressured telecom companies to break the law in order to enable his
illegal spying. In court documents, Joseph P. Nacchio, former CEO of Qwest
Communications International, states that his firm was approached more
than six months before the September 11, 2001, attacks and asked to
participate in a spying operation that Qwest believed to be illegal. When
Qwest refused, the Bush administration withdrew opportunities for
contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Nacchio himself was
subsequently indicted for insider trading, sending the message to all
telecom companies to cooperate with the Bush regime or else.

Bush has not been held accountable for the felonies he committed and for
leading telecom companies into a life of crime.

As the lawmakers who gave us FISA understood, spying on people without
warrants lets a political party collect dirt on its adversaries with which
to blackmail them. As Bush illegally spied a long time before word of it
got out, blackmail might be the reason the Democrats have ignored their
congressional election mandate and have not put a stop to Bush's illegal
wars and unconstitutional police state measures.

Perhaps the Democrats have finally caught on that they cannot function as
a political party as long as they continue to permit Bush to spy on them.
For one reason or another, they have let the Orwellian-named Protect
America Act expire.

With the Protect America Act, Bush and his brownshirts are trying to
establish the independence of the executive branch from statutory law and
the Constitution. The FISA law means that the president is accountable to
federal judges for warrants. Bush and the brownshirt Republicans are
striving to make the president independent of all accountability. The
brownshirts insist that the leader knows best and can tolerate no
interference from the law, the judiciary, the Congress, or the
Constitution, and certainly not from the American people who, the
brownshirts tell us, won't be safe unless Bush is very powerful.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison saw it differently.
The American people cannot be safe unless the president is accountable and
under many restraints.

Pray that the Democrats have caught on that they cannot give the executive
branch unaccountable powers to spy and still have grounds on which to
refuse the executive branch unaccountable powers elsewhere.

Republicans have used the "war on terror" to create an unaccountable
executive. To prevent the presidency from becoming a dictatorial office,
it is crucial that Congress cease acquiescing in Bush's grab for powers.
As the Founding Fathers warned us, the terrorists we have to fear are the
ones in power in Washington.

The al Qaeda terrorists, with whom Bush has been frightening us, have no
power to destroy our liberties. Compared to the loss of liberty, a
terrorist attack is nothing.

Meanwhile, Bush, the beneficiary of two stolen elections, has urged
Zimbabwe to hold a fair election. America gets away with its hypocrisy
because no one in our government has enough shame to blush.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during
President Reagan's first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street
Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William
E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown
University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford
University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President
Francois Mitterrand. He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts [at]

--------24 of 26--------

No News is Big News
Cuba Sans Fidel
February 20, 2008

It's big news in the U.S. that Fidel Castro has declined to accept
election when Cuba's Parliament meets this Sunday to select the country's
Ministers - it's the headline story in every form of media, along with
more than the usual background and opinion pieces.

But it's the media brouhaha itself that's the real big news, for the
actual top story is that there's almost no news here at all.

Look: despite half a century of U.S. portraying Fidel as the Western
Hemisphere's Stalin and the Cuban people as both suffering and ready to
explosively grasp freedom the moment his totalitarian grip slips there are
no demonstrations, let alone riots, in Cuba today.

Nor are there any prospects of them.

Nor was there any form of unrest or disruptions of daily life when Fidel
first handed over his posts to a team of seven leaders after falling ill
at the end of July 2006.

Indeed Cuba just completed an immense and thorough-going Parliamentary
election process where some 96% of the electorate (voting age begins at
16) cast secret ballots - and 92% of them chose the united slate put
together by union, women's, youth, small farmers' and other popular
organizations (the Communist Party cannot field candidates).

This puts the percentage opposing what Washington calls the 'Castro
regime' read the Cuban Revolution at 10% under the most liberal possible

With the vast majority of Cubans solidly backing their revolution and
government, the effect of Fidel's reassignment to regular columnist for
Juventud Rebelde (the newspaper 'Rebel Youth') goes little beyond ache at
the tragedy of human aging, especially of the world's greatest leading
political figure -one so popular that he's almost universally and uniquely
referred to by his first name.

Without Fidel, is the Cuban Revolution about to collapse? What are the
chances that Cuba's about to go down either the Soviet, Yugoslav, or
Chinese roads?

The old phrase "slim to none" is a too generous an answer.

What about U.S. policy toward Cuba? Without Fidel and, for that matter,
without Bush what are the chances that will change?

Call that one slimmer and none-er.

Look no further than the statements by the Democratic candidates (even
granting the far- from-certain assumption that one of them will be the
next U.S. president) responding to yesterday's news, statements solidly
fixed in the past half-century of Washington's obdurate hostility to the
Cuban Revolution:

Declared [American Empire candidate #1] Hillary Clinton:

"As you know, Fidel Castro announced that he is stepping down as Cuba's
leader after 58 years of one-man rule. The new leadership in Cuba will
face a stark choice continue with the failed policies of the past that
have stifled democratic freedoms and stunted economic growth or take a
historic step to bring Cuba into the community of democratic nations."

Declared [American Empire candidate #2] Barack Obama:

"Today should mark the end of a dark era in Cuba's history. Fidel Castro's
stepping down is an essential first step, but it is sadly insufficient in
bringing freedom to Cuba."

(For their complete statements, along with those from other leading U.S.
politicians, go to

Of course no surprise here after all, if there's been one eternal
bipartisan constant across the past fifty years, ten U.S. presidents, and
23 Congresses, it's the unwavering agreement on crushing Cuba's socialist
revolution, on the demand that (as the 1996 Helms-Burton Act puts it) Cuba
"return property taken on or after January 1, 1959."

(Want to guess which country's corporations owned most of Cuba's valuable
land and infrastructure then?)

This is a central and inescapable fact that all those favoring restoration
of travel rights to Cuba and normalization of relations need to grasp.
Washington is no more about to recognize Cuba's government and allow its
citizens to travel there with Fidel out any more than it did after Cuba
met all of Washington's previous demands: that the island end its special
relationship with the Soviet Union, that it remove troops from Africa,
that it halt support for rebel movements in Central America, that it sign
on to international anti- terrorist and nuclear proliferation treaties,
that it deploy forces to halt drug trafficking in its waters, or that etc,
etc, etc.

When it comes to U.S. demands on Cuba, one thing is certain: the goal
posts always move.

It's not enough that Fidel is no longer part of Cuba's government, he
needs to be dead. Until and even after then, Raul Castro needs to go as
well. And when that inevitably happens, it'll be "well, the Castro
brothers might be gone, but their regime lives on."

And so on and so on into eternity until Cuba returns "property taken on or
after January 1, 1959."

Cuba's free and universal healthcare? Its free education through college
and beyond? Rent-free home ownership? Guaranteed foreclosure-free farm
land? Twenty-eight thousand ((28,000) volunteer doctors providing free
medical care in 67 countries?

All that has to go.

Property relations must be restored to their pre-January 1, 1959

Unfortunately for Washington, as the most recent events and the past 50
years have clearly demonstrated, the chances of that happening goes all
the way to slimmererer and none-erer.

And it's that 'no news' that's the big news.

[If only we half-dead had the Cuban spirit here...]

Steve Eckardt produces for the National Network on
Cuba. He can be reached at: seckardt [at]

--------25 of 26--------

No One Is Safe: The Ruling Class Unleashed
posted by Arthur Silber at 12:12 PM
February 13, 2008

My title announces that, "No one is safe." That's true - but it has been
true for many decades. A certain kind of political partisan will insist
that our current disasters all (or largely) date from the installation of
the Bush regime following the election of 2000. Such a view is profoundly
mistaken, and frequently proceeds from less than honest motives. To the
extent one believes that the current crisis arose in significant part in
less than a decade, one confesses an astonishing ignorance of history,
together with a complete inability to understand political and cultural
developments over time. The view that the Bush regime is the source of
(most) evil is superficial and trivial; often, with regard to those who
are politically knowledgeable and politically active, it is morally
suspect, and frequently morally deplorable.

The United States has thus far been spared foreign conquest or natural
calamity on a massive scale. In the absence of such factors, our
government has followed its own inexorable and logical path. The direction
is and has always been toward the accumulation of more state power, more
control over increasing aspects of all Americans' lives, and the
destruction of Americans' ability to be left alone. Protection of the
inalienable right to be left alone was once the purpose of our government.
It has not been for more than a century.

In June 2004, I wrote an essay entitled, "The Waiting Game." (For the
record, I note that an excerpt in that article from a still earlier post,
written in the summer of 2003, contains certain formulations that I find
very troubling now. Although the major points of that earlier excerpt
remain valid in my view, I would not write certain passages in at all the
same terms today.) "The Waiting Game" detailed the proliferation of
regulations and controls that circumscribe our lives now. I used South
Dakota as an example: "Because South Dakota is one of seven states with no
state income tax, you might think South Dakota's regulatory structure
would be somewhat smaller and less intrusive than that of many other
states. You would be wrong. Here is a list of the government programs in
South Dakota - and I set it forth in full so you can appreciate the scope
and depth of what this one state government controls..."

I still find that list astonishing. When I researched that essay, I
considered using a list from another state - but the lists of government
programs in most states are much, much longer than South Dakota's. They
were so long that it was impossible to reproduce them in the manner I did.
After setting out that list, I wrote:

I suggest you read the list very carefully, and note the unavoidable
conclusion: you can't do anything - you can't work, and you can't do
anything for "fun" - without interacting with the government, directly or
indirectly. You must ask "permission" from the government before doing
anything at all.

[Y]ou can't do one damned thing without getting permission from the
government. If you go ahead and do it anyway, you're breaking the law. In
this manner, the endless proliferation of government regulations and laws
makes criminals of us all. I very much doubt that you can go for a year,
and perhaps not even a month or a day, without breaking some law,
somewhere. Laws cover everything, without exception. Read that list of
government programs again. Everything.

Of course, we did not arrive at this point overnight. Here is where the
frog being boiled to death in water that is slowly warmed comes in: all
these regulations accumulated over a period of many years and many
decades. And with each new regulation, people think: "Well, that's not so
bad. I can live with that." They fail to step back at any point to take in
the overall picture - and to realize what they have lost. And what they
have lost is liberty - and the right to be left alone.

The fact that every aspect of our lives is regulated, directed and
controlled has a further result, one of the most dangerous of all: If
someone in government decides to go after you, he has an endless array of
weapons from which to choose. Even if you emerge from the battle with your
life largely intact, anyone in government who wishes to do so can turn
your life into hell for years on end, even for decades. It may all begin
with some pathetic bureaucrat in a cramped, stifling cubicle. Perhaps
someone cut him off in traffic that morning; perhaps he had a fight at
home the night before. Perhaps he's just a rotten human being. He happens
to come across your name on some document, and he thinks: "I know: I'll go
after him. That could be fun." And your life is destroyed.

A still further result is of immense significance. Even with the
destruction of liberty in the United States, the great majority of us may
manage to live out our lives without being pursued by the government. But
many of us will severely limit our choices; we will seek to avoid trouble,
we will keep our heads lowered. We won't do anything to draw attention to
ourselves. We know that it is unlikely that the government will target us
- but we know that it can and that, if it does, we may have no chance at
all. We don't have to be tasered ourselves: we see the government tasering
a few people, every now and then, and we know that if we aren't careful,
it could happen to us. I can't recall where I read it, but several weeks
ago, I saw a mention of the fact that the East German Stasi actually spied
on "only" about one in ten people. But it was impossible to know who that
one person was. If it wasn't you today, it might be you next week, or next
month, or next year. When an authoritarian government accumulates
sufficient power, it need only deploy it occasionally and strategically:
fear does the rest.

This is where we are now: no one is safe. If most Americans aren't yet
aware of it, they will be in the years to come. And this brings us to the
latest FISA developments. Before discussing those developments, I want to
repeat the most fundamental point about FISA in general. Not surprisingly,
this is the point that almost no one mentions. In "Blinded by the Story,"
I wrote:

I must immediately interject that to discuss these issues with regard to
FISA is ludicrous in a much deeper sense. As Jonathan Turley explains

here, FISA itself is a secret court whose very purpose is to circumvent
the requirements of the Fourth Amendment. The FISA court is no protection
against illegitimate government intrusion at all. But as Turley notes,
that we are fighting over whether to grant the executive branch and FISA
still more untrammeled authority to disregard constitutional rights is a
measure of how far we have already marched toward tyranny. And look at
this chart to see just how compliant the FISA court is.

If you genuinely want to "reform" FISA, here's a suggestion: abolish it
altogether. Go back to the Fourth Amendment and the procedures it
requires. Period. Oh, I know: that's far too radical for most of you. It's
not "practical." With enough people like you, we'd still be part of the
British Commonwealth.

The basic facts of the latest Senate actions are bad enough:
After more than a year of wrangling, the Senate handed the White House a
major victory on Tuesday by voting to broaden the government's spy powers
and to give legal protection to phone companies that cooperated in
President Bush's program of eavesdropping without warrants.

One by one, the Senate rejected amendments that would have imposed greater
civil liberties checks on the government's surveillance powers. Finally,
the Senate voted 68 to 29 to approve legislation that the White House had
been pushing for months. Mr. Bush hailed the vote and urged the House to
move quickly in following the Senate's lead.

In typically shortsighted and superficial fashion, the progressive
blogosphere focused most of its energies on the question of retroactive
immunity. (Has one progressive blogger ever called for FISA's abolition?
Not to my knowledge. I'd be delighted to be surprised on that point.) This
was a pitifully thin thread to hold up one's hopes. From "It's Called the
Ruling Class Because It Rules":

Chris Dodd is attempting to stop, or at least slow down, this monstrous
attack on truth, justice and (insert laugh track) the American way. Good
for him. That the protection of fundamental principles of fairness - to
say nothing of some of the foundations of the original conception of
American government - should depend on such parliamentary strategems
reflects only how frayed the imitation of a democratic republic that
serves as the U.S. government has become. It is now so delicate that the
entire edifice could be collapsed overnight. One more significant
terrorist attack will certainly do it.

And, dear reader, let me ask you this. Do you honestly believe -
honestly, take a few moments to consider the matter in the privacy of your
own mind, and we promise not to ask you to give the game away publicly -
that even if Dodd manages to stop this bill, the telecoms will ever suffer
a penalty of any significance for what they have done? The telecoms and
their full partner, the federal government, will avail themselves of
endless evidentiary challenges and obstacles, they will delay any outcome
through years of appeals, and they will dilute, postpone and otherwise
render any judgment close to meaningless via numerous other routes. And
what about the criminals who designed and ordered the surveillance in the
first place? What about impeachment of at least one of the numerous
criminals in this administration? If you're serious at all about
"accountability," justice and similar notions - all of which today have
been ground into dust by the rampaging leviathan state - impeachment
proceedings would begin tomorrow. Oh, but that's "off the table." Of
course. Thus does the ruling class protect itself.

Dodd fought to some extent (and more than anyone else), but not nearly
hard enough. At every step, his actions were hemmed in by deals and
"understandings" with those who controlled the legislative agenda - and
he agreed to all of it. I may have missed it, but I don't recall seeing an
actual filibuster - you know, the kind where someone gets up and says,
"I'm going to stand here and read every goddamned phone book from every
goddamned city and state in the goddamned country before I'll let you pass
this bill!" And while he reads every goddamned phone book, perhaps public
outrage grows as more Americans begin to understand what exactly is at
stake: the last tattered shreds of liberty and privacy.

They have been very rare in American history, but there have been such
heroes. Once, there was Thomas B. Reed, who had become Speaker of the
House in 1889. Reed was unalterably opposed to the decision to embark on
Empire in the 1890s, and he stood in lonely opposition to the
Spanish-American War fever and propaganda, and to the unspeakable
occupation of the Philippines. He fought as long as he could (the first
excerpt is from Barbara Tuchman):

Reed's whole life was in Congress, in politics, in the exercise of
representative government, with the qualification that for him it had to
be exercised toward an end that he believed in. His party and his country
were now bent on a course for which he felt deep distrust and disgust. To
mention expansion to him, said a journalist, was like "touching a match"
and brought forth "sulphurous language." The tide had turned against him;
he could not turn it back and would not go with it.

Like his country, he had come to a time of choice.

To retain office as Speaker would be to carry through a policy in the
Philippines abominable to him. It would be to continue as spokesman of the
party of Lincoln, which had been his home for so long and which had now
chosen, in another way than Lincoln meant, to "meanly lose the last best
hope of earth." To his longtime friend and secretary, Asher Hinds, he
said, "I have tried, perhaps not always successfully, to make the acts of
my public life accord with my conscience and I cannot now do this thing."
For him the purpose and savor of life in the political arena had departed.
He had discovered mankind's tragedy: that it can draw the blueprints of
goodness but it cannot live up to them.

In 1899, he let it be announced that he would retire from the House. He
gave no public explanation, except to say in a letter to his constituents,
"Office as a ribbon to stick in your coat is worth no-one's
consideration." When reporters cornered him one day and insisted that the
public wanted to hear from him, he said: "The public! I have no interest
in the public."

America no longer wanted what Thomas B. Reed had to offer. Consider what
we lost over a hundred years ago - and grieve for your country.
Once, two decades after Reed left Congress, Robert La Follette was
vilified for his unwavering courage in opposing the U.S. entrance into
World War I, and for his profound opposition to the entire Wilson war
program. He came very close to being expelled from the Senate as a
traitor. But he never backed down:

ON March 25, 1921, at the age of sixty-five, Robert M. La Follette Sr.
took the greatest risk of his long political career. Four years after he
chose to lead the Congressional opposition to World War I, La Follette was
still condemned in Washington and in his native state of Wisconsin as a
traitor or - at best - an old man whose political instincts had finally
failed him. But La Follette was not ready to surrender the U.S. Senate
seat he had held since leaving Wisconsin's governorship in 1906. He wanted
to return to Washington to do battle once more against what he perceived
to be the twin evils of the still young century: corporate monopoly at
home and imperialism abroad.

The reelection campaign that loomed just a year off would be difficult, he
was told, perhaps even impossible. Old alliances had been strained by La
Follette's lonely refusal to join in the war cries of 1917 and 1918. To
rebuild them, the Senator's aides warned, he would have to abandon his
continued calls for investigations of war profiteers and his passionate
defense of socialist Eugene Victor Debs and others who had been jailed in
the postwar Red Scare.

The place to backpedal, La Follette was told, would be in a speech before
the crowded Wisconsin Assembly chamber in Madison. Moments before the
white-haired Senator climbed to the podium on that cold March day, he was
warned one last time by his aides to deliver a moderate address, to apply
balm to the still-open wounds of the previous years, and, above all, to
avoid mention of the war and his opposition to it.

La Follette began his speech with the formalities of the day,
acknowledging old supporters and recognizing that this was a pivotal
moment for him politically. Then, suddenly, La Follette pounded the
lectern. "I am going to be a candidate for reelection to the United States
Senate," he declared, as the room shook with the thunder of a mighty
orator reaching full force. Stretching a clenched fist into the air, La
Follette bellowed: "I do not want the vote of a single citizen under any
misapprehension of where I stand: I would not change my record on the war
for that of any man, living or dead."

The crowd sat in stunned silence for a moment before erupting into
thunderous applause. Even his critics could not resist the courage of the
man; indeed, one of his bitterest foes stood at the back of the hall, with
tears running down his cheeks, and told a reporter: "I hate the son of a
bitch. But, my God, what guts he's got."

This was the La Follette that his friend Emma Goldman referred to lovingly
as "the finest, most inconsistent anarchist" of his time. This was the man
so fierce in his convictions that he would risk consignment to political
oblivion rather than abandon an unpopular position. The antithesis of the
elected officials whose compromises characterize our contemporary
condition, La Follette genuinely believed that the inheritors of America's
revolutionary tradition would, if given the truth, opt not for moderation
but for the most radical of solutions.

There is not a single individual in our national life today who even
begins to approach this kind of courage. Given the performance of our
ruling class, and given the nearly complete indifference of the American
public to slaughter abroad and the destruction of liberty at home - many
Americans may not approve of either, but what do they do about it? Nothing
- one would have to conclude that we do not deserve to be saved, even if
we could be.

As I have noted before, the Bush administration has altered one part of
our situation, but it is not an aspect that concerns most people. That
aspect is simply this: what had been hidden and kept under wraps before is
now made explicit, and even boasted about. Our politicians felt the need
to hide our government's crimes in earlier years. Now the evil walks in
full daylight - and no one does anything to stop it, not anything that

The third paragraph of the NY Times story hints at this:
The outcome in the Senate amounted, in effect, to a broader proxy vote in
support of Mr. Bush's wiretapping program. The wide-ranging debate before
the final vote presaged discussion that will play out this year in the
presidential and Congressional elections on other issues testing the
president's wartime authority, including secret detentions, torture and
Iraq war financing.

A few politicians may condemn torture now and then, but no one is
seriously talking about repeal of the Military Commissions Act. Since that
Act establishes the basic framework of a dictatorship and legitimizes
torture as an official method of United States policy, the battle for
liberty and the minimal requirements of a civilized society is over,
without the battle even being seriously engaged. The American
Revolutionaries would be proud.

The Democrats may condemn the Iraq invasion and occupation as the worst
"blunder" in our history, but they will not condemn it as the war crime it
is. And they keep paying for it. They are not murderers themselves, but
every member of Congress who votes to pay for this continuing obscenity is
an accomplice to murder and genocide.

I have expressed the more general point in these terms:
The Bush administration has announced to the world, and to all Americans,
that this is what the United States now stands for: a vicious
determination to dominate the world, criminal, genocidal wars of
aggression, torture, and an increasingly brutal and brutalizing
authoritarian state at home. That is what we stand for.

And who says otherwise? The Democrats could - and the most forceful means
of doing so, the only method that is appropriate to this historic moment,
the method that is absolutely required if we are to turn away from this
catastrophic, murderous course, is impeachment. That is the one method the
Democrats will categorically, absolutely not utilize - because the
Democrats are a crucial, inextricable part of the identical
authoritarian-corporatist system that has led us to these horrors. They
have all worked toward this end over many decades, Democrats and
Republicans alike, and now the horrors manifest themselves explicitly,
without apology, even with the sickening boastfulness of the mass murderer
who is proud of what he has done, and who vehemently believes he is right.

So the dare goes unanswered. These horrors are what the United States now
stands for.

This is where we are now. This is what we stand for.

Evil walks the land. We all remain inside, heads bowed, minds narrowed,
spirits shriveled, afraid to protest, afraid to do much of anything at
all. No one is safe. Fear rules us.

We will not stop it.

posted by Arthur Silber at 12:12 PM

--------26 of 26--------

 The Great Debate

 he's for me!
 makes me numb!

 yes by gum!


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   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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