Progressive Calendar 03.06.08
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Thu, 6 Mar 2008 12:11:42 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    03.06.08
         back just now after two harrowing days of server problems

1. NewHope vigil     3.06 4:30pm
2. Eagan vigil       3.06 4:30pm
3. Northtown vigil   3.06 5pm
4. Speak out v war   3.06 6pm
5. NESG/Single Payer 3.06 6:30pm
6. Bechdel/dykes     3.06 7pm
7. Prison/process    3.06 7pm
8. Thirst/film       3.06 7pm

9. Portside - Green Party on Gaza
10. Green P - Greens seek divestment & aid cutoff/Israeli crimes in Gaza
11. Susu Jeffrey - Dred Scott in Minnesota
12. Jan Baughman - How America is reinventing the American Dream

--------1 of 12--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: NewHope vigil 3.06 4:30pm

Every Thursday, 4:30 to 6 pm, NW Neighbors for Peace vigil at corner of
42nd (Co. Rd. 9) and Winnetka Ave N, New Hope.  Park in the lot behind
McDonalds. We have some extra signs or bring your own.
carydbeerg [at] comcast.net


--------2 of 12--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 3.06 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.


--------3 of 12--------

From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 3.06 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com.


--------4 of 12--------

From: YAWR <against.war [at] gmail.com>
Subject: Speak out v war 3.06 6pm

Iraq Veterans and Military Families
SPEAK OUT AGAINST WAR!

Thursday, March 6th
6:00 PM
Blegan Hall, Room 451 <http://www1.umn.edu/twincities/maps/BlegH/>(click
for map) <http://www1.umn.edu/twincities/maps/BlegH/>
University of MN, West Bank

Come hear presenters from Iraq Veterans <http://ivaw.org/index.php>,
Military Families Speak Out <http://www.mfso.org/>, and others tell their
powerful personal stories and draw political lessons from their
experiences. Tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers and their families have
been bitterly betrayed by the lies of U.S. political leaders and their
profit driven wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in the last couple years,
more and more soldiers and veterans are turning their anger into organized
resistance, and Iraq Veterans Against the War has emerged at the forefront
of the national antiwar movement. Hear about IVAW's "Winter Soldier"
project<http://ivaw.org/index.php>, March 13-19, to provide eye-witness
testimony on the brutalities of the Iraqi occupation.

Also come hear from high school activists with Youth Against War and
Racism explain their experience with deceitful military recruiters, and
what students locally have done to successfully push the Pentagon out of
their school lunchrooms. Finally, learn what you can do on campus and
beyond to support soldiers, veterans, and military families resisting the
war, as well the counter-recruitment struggle and wider antiwar movement.

Event organized by:
Socialist Alternative  |
www.SocialistMinnesota.org<http://www.socialistminnesota.org/>
Students for a Democratic Society  |  umnsds [at] gmail.com


--------5 of 12--------

From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu>
Subject: NESG/Single Payer 3.06 6:30pm


The NE Suburban Greens present
a forum on

S I N G L E   P A Y E R   H E A L T H   C A R E
speakers Kip Sullivan
Rep Shelley Madore (Apple Valley)

Thursday March 6
6:30-8:30pm
Roseville Public Library
2180 Hamline Av N & County Road B, Roseville
(Hamline 2 blocks S of Hwy 36)

Kip Sullivan:
 Health Systems Analyst for the Greater Mn Health Care Coalition.
 Author of more than 100 articles on health care reform.
 Author of the book The Health Care Mess: How We Got Into It and How
  We'll Get Out of It.

Kip will review
 the history of the campaign for single-payer in the US and Minnesota,
 why a single-payer system is the only solution to the health care crisis,
 the main features of Minnesota's single-payer bill, the Mn Health Act.

The Minnesota Health Reform Caucus was formed July 2007 of members of the
MN Legislature.

The Minnesota Health Act (SF 2324 John Marty chief author + 56 coauthors)
passed the Senate health committee Monday night 2.18 by a large margin,
8-3, including one Republican vote, that of Sen Paul Koering (Fort
Ripley).

Rep Shelley Madore:
 Shelley Madore is a legislator from the Apple Valley and Burnsville area.
She got into politics to address healthcare reform.  As a parent of two
special needs children, she has been dealing with the devastating
financial fallout of a two chronic medical conditions that have befallen
her family.  As a community advocate, she is keenly aware of the financial
insecurity that comes from tying health benefits to jobs and public
program funding.  She is convinced that the current system creates more
family poverty, loss of economic opportunity to our state and our country
and dismisses the freedom of self-determination rights to everyone, not
just the disabled or chronically ill.

Shelley's passion for this issue has created a niche for her on the MN
Health Reform Caucus as the "public plan expert".  She has been shocked to
learn that a concerted effort has been underway since early 2002 to move
public tax dollars into private insurance plans where choice is
eliminated, profits are generated and kept and where there is no
requirement to show that people have received quality care.  She is
currently working on challenging the Department of Human Services and
their introduction of a new program called Special Needs Basic Care, a
managed care plan.  Millions of your tax dollars are at stake with this
program with virtually no oversight on costs.  There are also many issues
surrounding data privacy, including the release of public program
recipient's names to the private market managed care plans and the lack of
supportive care of our vulnerable adults in coordination with their county
case managers.

Shelley is assigned to the following committees:  Public Health, Mental
Health, Transportation Finance, Transportation Policy and MN Heritage. She
is vice chair of the Transportation Policy committee and chairs the
Disabilities Working Group.

Rep Madore will speak on the above issues.

contact:
Kip Sullivan: kiprs [at] usinternet.com
Rep Shelley Madore: rep.shelley.madore [at] house.mn  651-296-5506
NE Suburban Greens: shove001 [at] umn.edu   651-636-5672
David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu 651-636-5672 1624 W Eldridge Roseville MN
55113


--------6 of 12--------

From: David Strand <mncivil [at] yahoo.com>
Subject: Bechdel/dykes 3.06 7pm

FYI- I think Allison is my favorite cartoonist and definitely worth seeing
and hearing!  David Strand

Alison Bechdel is coming!

Lauded cartoonist Alison Bechdel will be speaking at the Toni McNaron
Lecture in Arts and Culture on Thursday, March 6, 7:00 PM at Cowles
Auditorium (Humphrey). You should not miss the chance to see Alison in
person!

Alison Bechdel, author of the critically acclaimed Fun Home and of the
syndicated comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For (DTWOF), has become a
cultural institution for lesbians and discerning non-lesbians all over the
planet.

Hailed by Ms. magazine as "one of the preeminent oeuvres in the comic
genre, period " Bechdel's DTWOF is syndicated in over 50 alternative
newspapers and publications, translated into many languages and collected
into a book series with over 250,000 copies in print. Four of her books
have won Lambda Awards for humor, and she even won a Lambda Literary Award
in the biography/autobiography category. She's also won two Vice Versa
Awards for Excellence in the Gay and Lesbian Press.

Bechdel's work has also appeared in Ms., The Village Voice, The Advocate,
Out, Gay Comics, and many other comic books, 'zines, and anthologies. Fun
Home is her first graphic novel.

Bechdel grew up in rural Pennsylvania. After graduating from Oberlin
College, she moved to New York City, where she began drawing DTWOF as a
feature in the feminist monthly Womanews in 1983. Twelve book-length DTWOF
collections has since appeared, nine of them-including Spawn of Dykes To
Watch Out For, and Hot, Throbbing Dykes to Watch Out For-published by the
pioneering feminist press, Firebrand Books. The most recent volume,
Invasion of the Dykes to Watch Out For, was released by Alyson Books in
2005. Her bi-weekly strip is syndicated in over 50 periodicals.

In addition to her comic strip, Bechdel has also done exclusive work for a
slew of publications including Ms., Slate, The Village Voice, The
Advocate, Out, and many other newspapers, web sites, comic books, and
magazines. Her work has been widely anthologized and translated.

She lives near Burlington, Vermont.


--------7 of 12--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Prison/process 3.06 7pm

Thursday, 3/6, 7 pm, "Without Due Process," wherein TRACES director
Michael Luick-Thrams and ACLU of MN legal counsel Teresa Nelson compare
the imprisonment of German-Americans during WW II with those held in
Guantanamo and elsewhere today, Courtroom 317, 3rd floor of the Landmark
Center, 75 W 5th St, downtown St Paul.  buseumtour [at] yahoo.com or
http://www.TRACES.org


--------8 of 12--------

From: Curt McNamara <mcnam025 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Thirst/film 3.06 7pm

Celebrate Sustainability Film Series
Doors 6:30 p.m., Film 7 p.m. Free!
MCAD College Center
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
2501 Stevens Ave. S.

Please join us for the following screening about key sustainability issues
affecting our world. Discussion with practicing eco-designers after the
showing.

Thirst (2003)
Is water a human right or a commodity to be bought and sold in a global
marketplace? Film-makers Snitow and Kaufman follow the story when a mayor
proposes to give control of the city water system to a consortium of
global water corporations.


--------9 of 12--------

Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2008 22:02:17 -0500
From: moderator [at] PORTSIDE.ORG
Subject: Green Party on Gaza

Greens urge economic pressure and cutoff of all military aid to Israel as
Gaza situation worsens

Demanding an end to illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, Greens urge
widespread grassroots support for the Palestine BDS (Boycott, Divestment,
Sanctions) Campaign

Greens blast Clinton, Obama, and McCain for uncritical support of Israel
despite mounting crimes

WASHINGTON, DC -- Calling the Siege of Gaza an international emergency,
the Green Party is urging Congress to reject President Bush's FY2009
budget request for $2.55 billion in Foreign Military Financing for Israel,
and reiterated the call for a cut-off of all US military aid to Israel.

"The Siege of Gaza is an ongoing atrocity, with mounting civilian
casualties, especially children, killed and maimed by Israeli Defense
Forces," said Holly Hart, secretary of the Green Party of the United
States and member of People for Justice in Palestine, responding to the
mass killing of Palestinians during the past weekend.  "Greens are
demanding an end to the siege and to the occupation of Palestinian lands,
to Israel's collective punishment of Palestinians, and to targeted
assassinations, all of which violate international law."

Greens noted that the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces
has doubled since the Annapolis peace talks sponsored by the US in
November 2007.  In some areas of the West Bank, home invasions by IDF
since January 1 have resulted in the kidnapping and detention without
charges of nearly 400 civilians, including children.  1.5 million Gazans,
mostly refugees from Israel in 1948, live in an open-air prison, unable to
exit, and with electricity, fuel, and water under Israeli control.

"Peace talks are a sham as long as Israel refuses to discuss the
construction of new housing units for Jewish settlers throughout occupied
East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank," said David J. Kalbfleisch,
a Green congressional candidate in Illinois' 10th district
<http://www.electdave.org>;.  "Israel must meet its obligations under U.N.
security council resolution 242."

The Green Party has already called for an economic boycott and divestment
of Israel until the occupation is ended and full human rights and equality
are realized throughout historic Palestine, including Israel
<http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2005_11_28.shtml>;, and recognition of the
right of return.

Green leaders, emphasizing the need for popular pressure on the US
government similar to the campaign against South African apartheid two
decades ago, have supported the efforts of Palestinian and Israeli peace
groups to seek negotiation and a halt to violence, and are urging
participation in the Palestine BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions)
Campaign <http://www.bds-palestine.net>;.

The President's FY2009 request would enact a 9% increase over 2007
spending, and would be the first installment of a ten-year agreement
between the US and Israel, signed in August 2007, to increase military aid
by 25%, totaling $30 billion by FY2018.

The arms purchased through Foreign Military Financing are being used to
enforce Israel's 40-year military occupation and siege of the Palestinian
West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, and for violation of human
rights in the Occupied Territories and against civilians in Lebanon. Such
use of weapons purchased with US money violates of the Arms Export Control
Act and Foreign Assistance Act.

"The Green Party has repeatedly called for an end to Israel's illegal
occupation, for enforcement of human rights laws consistently violated by
Israel, and for an end to all attacks against unarmed civilians by either
side," said Justine McCabe, co-chair of the party's International
Committee.

"Under the influence of AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobbies, John McCain,
Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama have bent over backwards to support the
Israel government and avoid criticism -- even as Israel warns that it may
invade and Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai threatens
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip with a 'holocaust.' If the national debate
on the Middle East is restricted to Democratic and Republican positions in
2008, the crisis and the atrocities will continue regardless of who wins
the White House," Dr. McCabe added.

MORE INFORMATION
Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org 202-319-7191,
866-41GREEN


--------10 of 12--------

From: Rhoda Gilman <rhodagilman [at] earthlink.net>
From: Scott McLarty <scottmclarty [at] yahoo.com>
Subject: GP RELEASE Greens seek divestment, aid cutoff as
Israeli crimes mount in Gaza

GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES
http://www.gp.org

For Immediate Release:
Monday, March 3, 2008

Contacts:
Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624,
cell 202-904-7614, mclarty [at] greens.org
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805,
starlene [at] gp.org

Greens urge economic pressure and cutoff of all military aid to Israel as
Gaza situation worsens

- Demanding an end to illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, Greens urge
widespread grassroots support for the Palestine BDS (Boycott, Divestment,
Sanctions) Campaign

- Greens blast Clinton, Obama, and McCain for uncritical support of Israel
despite mounting crimes

WASHINGTON, DC -- Calling the Siege of Gaza an international emergency,
the Green Party is urging Congress to reject President Bush's FY2009
budget request for $2.55 billion in Foreign Military Financing for Israel,
and reiterated the call for a cut-off of all US military aid to Israel.

"The Siege of Gaza is an ongoing atrocity, with mounting civilian
casualties, especially children, killed and maimed by Israeli Defense
Forces," said Holly Hart, secretary of the Green Party of the United
States and member of People for Justice in Palestine, responding to the
mass killing of Palestinians during the past weekend. "Greens are
demanding an end to the siege and to the occupation of Palestinian lands,
to Israel's collective punishment of Palestinians, and to targeted
assassinations, all of which violate international law."

Greens noted that the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces
has doubled since the Annapolis peace talks sponsored by the US in
November 2007.  In some areas of the West Bank, home invasions by IDF
since January 1 have resulted in the kidnapping and detention without
charges of nearly 400 civilians, including children.  1.5 million Gazans,
mostly refugees from Israel in 1948, live in an open-air prison, unable to
exit, and with electricity, fuel, and water under Israeli control.

"Peace talks are a sham as long as Israel refuses to discuss the
construction of new housing units for Jewish settlers throughout occupied
East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank," said David J. Kalbfleisch,
a Green congressional candidate in Illinois' 10th district
<http://www.electdave.org>.  "Israel must meet its obligations under U.N.
security council resolution 242."

The Green Party has already called for an economic boycott and divestment
of Israel until the occupation is ended and full human rights and equality
are realized throughout historic Palestine, including Israel
<http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2005_11_28.shtml>, and also for recognition of
the right of return.

Green leaders, emphasizing the need for popular pressure on the US
government similar to the campaign against South African apartheid two
decades ago, have supported the efforts of Palestinian and Israeli peace
groups to seek negotiation and a halt to violence, and are urging
participation in the Palestine BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions)
Campaign <http://www.bds-palestine.net>.

The President's FY2009 request would enact a 9% increase over 2007
spending, and would be the first installment of a ten-year agreement
between the US and Israel, signed in August 2007, to increase military aid
by 25%, totaling $30 billion by FY2018.

The arms purchased through Foreign Military Financing are being used to
enforce Israel's 40-year military occupation and siege of the Palestinian
West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, and for violation of human
rights in the Occupied Territories and against civilians in Lebanon.
Such use of weapons purchased with US money violates of the Arms Export
Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act.

"The Green Party has repeatedly called for an end to Israel's illegal
occupation, for enforcement of human rights laws consistently violated by
Israel, and for an end to all attacks against unarmed civilians by either
side," said Justine McCabe, co-chair of the party's International
Committee.

"Under the influence of AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobbies, John McCain,
Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama have bent over backwards to support the
Israel government and avoid criticism - even as Israel warns that it may
invade and Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai threatens
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip with a 'holocaust.' If the national debate
on the Middle East is restricted to Democratic and Republican positions in
2008, the crisis and the atrocities will continue regardless of who wins
the White House," Dr. McCabe added.


MORE INFORMATION

Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org 202-319-7191,
866-41GREEN Fax 202-319-7193 - Video of Green presidential candidates
http://www.gp.org/2008-elections/presidential-videos.php - Green candidate
database for 2007 and other campaign information:
http://www.gp.org/elections.shtml - Green Party News Center
http://www.gp.org/newscenter.shtml - Green Party Speakers Bureau
http://www.gp.org/speakers - Green Party ballot access page
http://www.gp.org/2008-elections - 2008 Green National Convention: Live
Green, Vote Green http://www.gp.org/2008-elections/index.shtml - Media
credentialing http://www.gp.org/committees/media/kit.shtml

Green Party International Committee http://www.gp.org/committees/intl/

Green Party Peace Action Committee (GPAX)
http://www.gp.org/committees/peace/

Wheels of Justice Tour: Nonviolent education and action against war and
occupation in Iraq and Palestine for justice and universal human rights
http://justicewheels.org

"Israeli minister threatens "holocaust" as public demand ceasefire talks"
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, February 29, 2008
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9354.shtml

Palestinian deaths double since Annapolis By Mel Frykberg, Middle East
Times, January 16, 2008
http://www.metimes.com/International/2008/01/16/palestinian_deaths_double_si
nce_annapolis/9342/
~ END ~


--------11 of 12--------

From: Susu Jeffrey <susujeffrey [at] msn.com>

Dred Scott in Minnesota
By Susu Jeffrey

In the Dred Scott decision, Minnesota played a part in the cultural battle
against slavery in the United States. Like the war on terrorism and "just
war" debates raging now, the great slave debate divided the nation, divided
families, and was as much about finances as ethics.

In 1857, 151-years ago on March 6, Dred Scott was found to be "not a
person." This finding by the Supreme Court of the United States was boo-ed
and ridiculed inside the country and abroad. Like the "illegal aliens" of
today, the "enemy combatants" and the extradited and disappeared, slaves had
no legal standing.

Dred Scott, a slave, sued for his freedom in 1846. After an eleven year
court battle Scott, Harriet, his wife and mother of their daughters, Eliza
and Lizzie, lost their freedom case. The high court found that Scott was
ineligible to bring his case for freedom from slavery into the federal court
system. Dred Scott, 62, was found to be a slave, "not a person," and
therefore had no personhood rights in the federal courts.

In 2008 corporations are considered "persons" under the law.

Between 1836-40 Dred Scott lived at Fort Snelling, in the Wisconsin
Territory, a "free territory" where slavery was prohibited. He had lived at
Fort Armstrong in the free state of Illinois with his master, Army surgeon
Dr. John Emerson, from 1833-35. Dred Scott's famous suit for freedom was
based on his residency in the free territory now called Minnesota and in the
free state of Illinois.

Scott was born in Virginia, 1795, a slave child to the Blow family, named
Sam. The family and slaves moved west settling in St. Louis, Missouri. He
changed his name after his first wife was sold "down the river." He ran away
as Sam and returned as Dred Scott, caught and beaten by a gang of young
thugs who returned the slave to his master for the reward money.

Scott met and married his wife, Harriet Robinson, at Fort Snelling. Their
wedding was performed by Indian agent Lawrence Taliaferro. (It was illegal
for blacks to marry.)

The Scott case was initiated in 1846, six-months after Dr. Emerson's widow
refused to permit Scott to purchase his emancipation. Scott lost a first
trial on a technicality, won his freedom on retrial, and lost in the
Missouri Supreme Court. It was a contrary opinion because Missouri courts
had consistently ruled that slaves taken into free states were automatically
free. The case was maneuvered from state to federal court by anti-slavery
interests looking for a definitive legal blow to the institution of slavery.

On January 1, 1853 in St. Louis, the family's deranged master ordered Dred
Scott, his wife Harriet and their two daughters into a barn where he forced
the adults to strip and whipped them with a horse whip for "being worthless
and insolent." Sanford then spanked the girls Eliza, 13, and Lizzie, 7, and
locked the family inside the barn. In the 1850s slaves were quietly freed if
outrageous abuse became public knowledge.

This blindness allowed the institution of slavery to continue while rooting
out "a few bad apples." A few bad apples among the Abu Ghraib guards were
rooted out but prisoner terrorism continues. Apparently torturing people is
also devastating to the bad apples. Owning people, torturing people-it's
enough to make you crazy.

The Dred Scott family lost their 11-year battle for freedom in the "most
unpopular Supreme Court decision in the (then) 70-year history of the
court." Into the rising fire of abolitionist sentiment in Scott v. Sandford
(1846-57), the high court declared Dred Scott to be ineligible to file a
suit in federal court because he was a slave, that is property, and "not a
person." The Scott decision ruled that blacks, whether slave or free "had no
rights which the white man was bound to respect."

The Scott case legalized inequality, and laid the groundwork for "separate
but equal" racial discrimination throughout the nation. The internment of
Japanese-Americans during World War II and of Muslims during the so-called
"war on terrorism," like the reservation restrictions for Native Americans,
illustrate the breath of racist mentality, America's "original sin."

After the Supreme Court decision Dred Scott's original masters, the Blow
family, purchased and freed the Scotts. Dred, Harriet, and Eliza (aged 17)
soon died of tuberculosis.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin (1853), published a
two-volume novel about runaway slaves, Dred, in 1856 (the year before the
Scott Supreme Court decision). One of the principal conspirators in Nat
Turner's Rebellion, Southampton County, Virginia 1831, was named Dred "a
name not unusual among the slaves and generally given to those of great
physical force." Dred Scott, short, slight and tubercular, was a powerhouse.


--------12 of 12--------

Poor And Pickled
How America Is Reinventing The American Dream
by Jan Baughman

(Swans - February 25, 2008)  It would appear that the elephant in the
room, otherwise known as the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex,
has been formally acknowledged, with President Bush's little revelation
that must have had his cabinet and constituents recoiling in horror. When
asked in an NBC interview on February 19, 2008, if war spending was
hurting America's economy, he replied, "I don't think so. I think actually
the spending in the war might help with jobs...because we're buying
equipment, and people are working." Bring 'em on! Yet, if war is such a
good economic stimulus, why is our economy shrinking despite perpetual
war, and why is so much of the war spending kept officially out of the
budget?* Let's once and for all put war's hidden cost out in the open,
what with all the job training and equipment-buying it creates. In fact,
rather than throw $300 Wal*Mart gift cards at the little people so they
can shop the economy back to life, the government should just spend the
$150 billion economic stimulus package on some Humvees, war planes,
missiles and rockets, and that much-needed protective gear for our
soldiers in harm's way. We could officially privatize the military, build
some new bases, and create even more jobs at the same time. We could then
return to the good ol' days of WWII, when our men went off to fight and
our women worked in the factories sewing stars on flags and assembling
bombs to keep the economy functioning. Just imagine, we'd have another
baby boom, and create demand for more single-family homes for the booming
families...

Mr. Bush's response didn't stop there, however, for he speculated on what
he perceives to be the real source of our economic woes. "I think this
economy is down because we built too many houses and the economy's
adjusting." Does that mean the American Dream of homeownership is dead, or
is it now a mere myth for the masses? In June 2007 he put forth a
proclamation entitled National Homeownership Month, stating that "Owning a
home provides a source of security and stability for many of our citizens.
My Administration is committed to fostering an ownership society and
helping more Americans realize the great promise of our country...the
American Dream Downpayment Act of 2003 is helping thousands of low to
moderate income and minority families with the downpayment and closing
costs on their homes.... I call upon the people of the United States to
join me in recognizing the importance of homeownership and building a more
prosperous future." Less than a year later, that prosperous future is no
longer directed toward the importance of homeownership and subsidizing
downpayments on dreams. (One must also consider the far-reaching effects
of subprime lending, well described in these pages but not mentioned
during National Homeownership Month.)

So how is it that with all the hundreds of thousands of people displaced
by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, entire towns decimated by tornadoes this
year and last, and the neighborhoods burned to the ground in the Southern
California fires, we've built too many houses? And with all of these
excess houses putting a drain on the economy, why do we need so many FEMA
trailers? Perhaps it all comes back to promising the American Dream to the
right kind of American, not just any old American. Low-income housing
units destroyed (or not) by Katrina are being replaced with more expensive
models, and according to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), "there are over
6,000 households living in travel trailers along the Mississippi Gulf
Coast, but only about 300 rental properties are available at fair market
value in the same area."

In all fairness, I quoted Rep. Thompson somewhat out of context. He wasn't
complaining about the lack of low-income housing along the Gulf, per se,
or the "Administration's recent decision to allow the funding intended for
low and middle income housing construction to be diverted to a port
expansion project in the Gulf," but rather the unusually high levels of
formaldehyde in the FEMA "travel" trailers in which we have situated
our low-income, displaced American citizens. Even though formaldehyde is a
probable carcinogen, and many occupants have suffered respiratory and
other problems and at least one person has died from presumed exposure,
FEMA Administrator David Paulison assured the Committee on Homeland
Security that "we have been told that the formaldehyde does not present a
health hazard." He seemingly failed to mention the fine print, which would
state that when formaldehyde is used to embalm human remains, it poses no
health hazard to those in whom it is infused...

No, we haven't built too many houses; we've suckered too many people. Now
we're pickling them, too. It is apparently official that the American
Dream of homeownership exists for a shrinking segment of the population,
and war is the new American Nightmare that promises life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness for us all.

*  One could also ask, by the way, if tax cuts for the wealthy also create
jobs and stimulate the economy, why are we losing jobs and why is the
economy slowing?  (back)

Resources

Bush: No Link Between Economy, Iraq War
Democracy Now!, February 19, 2008
http://www.democracynow.org/2008/2/19/headlines#6

National Homeownership Month, 2007
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/06/20070601-13.html

Thompson Demands Solution to Formaldehyde Trailer Crisis
PRNewswire, February 14, 2008
http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/02-14-2008/0004756455&EDATE=

FEMA's Formaldehyde Foul-Up
The New York Times, February 15, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/15/opinion/15fri2.html?_r=1&oref=slogin


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   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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