Progressive Calendar 03.27.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2008 03:48:32 -0700 (PDT)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    03.27.08

1. Foreclosure crisis 3.27 8am
2. Anti-war/UofM      3.27 12noon
3. Sexual violence    3.27 12noon
4. New Hope demo      3.27 4:30pm
5. Eagan peace vigil  3.27 4:30pm
6. Northtown vigil    3.27 5pm
7. Roseville plan     3.37 5:30pm
8. Metro IBA          3.27 6:30pm
9. Hate crimes        3.27 7pm
10. Justice/Iraq      3.27 7pm
11. Moyers/race/pol   3.27 9pm

12. Dave Lindorff - Duck and cover (up): Hillary under fire
13. Matt Vidal    - So much for the self-regulating market
14. Mark Morford  - Tax my rich white torturer
15. Ray McGovern  - Frontline's War: too timid, too little and too late

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From: BethMarie Ward <bward [at]>
Subject: Foreclosure crisis 3.27 8am

Community Shares 30th Anniversary Conversations Series
The Impact of the Mortgage Foreclosure Crisis on Low-Income Communities
Mike Vraa, Managing Attorney, Homeline and Greg Finzel, Executive
Director, Rondo Community Land Trust
Thursday, March 27, 8 to 9:30 a.m.
Dunning Recreation Center 1221 Marshall Avenue, St. Paul

Join Community Shares of Minnesota for the first in a series of community
forums we are launching in our 30th anniversary year.  Drawing on the
expertise of our nonprofit member organizations, the series is designed to
inform and engage the broader community on pressing community issues.
This event is free and open to the public.

Community Shares of Minnesota is a community-based fund for social
justice, founded in 1978 as the Cooperating Fund Drive and known for a
brief period as Community Solutions Fund.  In its 30-year history
Community Shares has raised over $16 million for Twin Cities area
nonprofits by advancing the issues and concerns of low-income and
marginalized communities in workplace giving campaigns throughout the Twin
Cities and it is now expanding statewide.  The organization is part of the
Community Shares USA network that connects workplace giving to local
organizations that build social and economic equity and a healthy
environment. ###

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From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Anti-war/UofM 3.27 12noon

Student Protest Against the War: 5 Years is Enough!
Thursday, March 27, Noon University of Minnesota, Coffman Memorial Union,
300 Washington Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis. Student-led rally to end the
war on Iraq. Sponsored by: Students for a Democratic Society (U of M).
FFI: Email <umnsds [at]>.

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From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Sexual violence 3.27 12noon

March 27 Deborah E. Powell Center Powell Center for Women's Health.
Noontime Lecture Series "The Cost of Sexual Violence in Minnesota." Noon
- 1:00 PM at Moos Tower 2-520, U of M. Questions & directions can be
directed to 612-626-1125.

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From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: New Hope demo 3.27 4:30pm

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

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From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 3.27 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.

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From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 3.27 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]

--------7 of 15--------

From: Jamie Radel <jamie.radel [at]>
Subject: Roseville plan 3.37 5:30pm

Open House--Comprehensive Plan Update--March 27 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Roseville's Comp Plan Open House

Find out what could be in Roseville's future. Join a conversation at a
Comprehensive Plan Community Open House on March 27 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
at Roseville City Hall, 2660 Civic Center Drive. Members of the City
Council and the Comp Plan Steering Committee will be there.

Participants can listen to a short presentation that will be given
throughout the evening describing the purpose of the Comprehensive Plan.
Participants can view and comment on several proposed land use
possibilities in the community and how those scenarios would impact
Roseville's neighborhoods and development. Topics will include future
land use, transportation, housing, environment, parks and recreation and
economic development.

The open house is part of the process to update Roseville's Comprehensive
Plan. A Steering Committee of Roseville residents is working with project
consultants to define issues that will shape Roseville's future and which
must be addressed in the Plan. If you want to learn more and provide
feedback, visit the City's website

If you have questions about the comprehensive plan or the open house,
contact Jamie Radel with the Community Development Department at
651-792-7072 or email jamie.radel [at]

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From: John Kolstad <jkolstad [at]>
Subject: Metro IBA 3.27 6:30pm

To all members and potential members,

Thursday, March 27 at 6:30 will be our annual meeting of the Metro
Independent Business Alliance (MetroIBA).  See detail below if you don't
have them.

I strongly encourage you to contact your friends, neighbors and business
associates and ask them to attend.  Small Business has a vital role to
play in Minnesota and the Twin Cities Area.  We provide 60% of employment
all across the USA and 40% of all employment is with the smallest of
businesses [ 5 Employees and fewer].  The Clinton recover in the 90's
showed that small business created 85% of the new jobs while the Fortune
500 had negative job growth.  But does any one doubt who got the big tax
breaks and other subsidies from the Government?

The only way that we as Small Business people will get a level playing
field with the Corporate Giants and the Big Boxes is to organize with
those who have the same interest; other Small Business owners.  That is
the sole purpose of the Metro IBA, which by charter only allows truely
small independent businesses to be members.

MetroIBA needs small business owners to join our organization and work
with us to level the playing field and help our fellow small business
owner to succeed and prosper.  When small business prospers, the community
they are in also prospers.  We need membership numbers to get the
politicians attention and we need the members dues to have the financial
resources to present our case effectively.

I would like to start here with some discussion about the area that many
of us are having problems with in our businesses.  The Minnesota Attorney
General has expressed interest in talking to small business to find out
about abuses that may exist and also telling those of us in small business
how important it is to clearly document issues or problems that you have.
The areas of concern or problems for small business brought up at a recent
meeting with small busienss owner were:

1) Credit Card Companies, 2) Credit Card Processors 3)  Health Insurance
Companies 4) Banks policies 5)Shipping companies like UPS 6) Property
taxes and the inequitable way they favor Malls and Chain compared to Free
Standing Independent Small business.

This is just a starting list.  What do you see as the problems we
collectively face?  Send me your thoughts and suggestions or bring them to
the annual meeting.  Also bring a friend.

Please note, we in small business are not asking for any special favors or
treatment.  Only that we are given the same opportunity and the same deals
the developers, the Big Boxes and the Mall Stores are given.

I do think we should start talking about the Small Business Bill of
Rights.  One of the prime tenants of this proposal is that if public money
is given for economic development, it goes to that sector of business that
actually creates it and if public money is given for job creation then it
would go to that sector that actually creates the jobs (in MN that would
mean that 90% of money for job creation would go to small business - has
anyone every seen that happen?)  Small Business is the Economic engine of
Minnesota and it is time that we ask for our due recognition!

I look forward to hearing from you and see what issues adversely or
positively affect you business.

John Kolstad/Preident, Mill City Music and Founding Member of MetroIBA and
Member of the Bd 612/722-6649

Metro Independent Business Alliance (Metro IBA) Annual Meeting, Thursday
March 27, 2008
Doors open at 6:30 and meeting starts at 7:00 PM (formal meeting will be
Socializing and Networking afterwards

Held at Q Kindness Café, 350 St Peter Street, St Paul MN Parking in Lawson
Ramp included in the payment

$10 in Advance and $20 at the door (payment may be made by paypal at
""  or mail check to 6640 Lyndale Ave So.  Ste 110, Richfield,
MN 55423 Snacks and beverage served

Socialized and network with other Metro IBA members Meet the Metro IBA
Board, including new Board Members.

If you renew your membership prior to the meeting, your name will go into
a drawing for Fabulous Prizes!

Please bring anyone you feel would be interested in joining MetroIBA. For
each person you bring, your name will be entered into the Fabulous Prizes

Any questions, call John Kolstad, 612/722-6649

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From: margaret <hope4peace22000 [at]>
Subject: Hate crimes 3.27 7pm

A Town Hall Meeting for
Minnesotans to Address Hate Crimes
Thursday, March 27 à 7:00 pm 
On Jan. 27, 2008 three men entered the Blaine Dairy Store at closing
time. Without provocation they began to ignite and launch petrol bombs.
The owner, Mohammad Ismail, narrowly escaped that evening as he watched
his store burst into flames. Investigators discovered racial obscenities
spray-painted at the scene of the crime.

Family and friends of Mohammad Ismail are offering a $3000 reward for
information leading to an arrest in the case. Anyone with information on
the Blaine Dairy Store arson should contact: Minneapolis FBI at
612-376-3200 and the Blaine Police Department at 763-785-6168

Hate crimes endanger Minnesotans' safety and threaten Blaine
minorities.  A collective response to foster community relations and to
challenge hatred, racism, and prejudice is necessary now  

Anoka Technical College Auditorium,
1335 West Highway 10, Anoka, MN 55303

This event is sponsored by: CAIR-MN, Lake Harriet United Methodist
Church, Anoka Technical College Student Senate, and NAACP

For more information, contact: cschumacher [at], 651-645-7102

What are you going to do?
by Emily K. Bright, 3/24/08 "Engage Minnesota"

It's not the first time you've been a victim of a hate crime, nor is it
the last. It's 8:30 on a winter evening, and you're closing up your

The entrance door is locked, half the lights are off, and you're mopping
at the far end of the room when three men barge in the exit door as though
they mean to rob you. Two of the men have their hooded backs to you. One
of them you can see. He's over six feet tall, with short reddish blonde
hair and a goatee. You observe this in the moment before he stands and
hurls a glass bottle directly at you. You duck. It slams into the wall and
explodes into flames. All around you, you hear the sound of glass
exploding. The store fills with smoke in seconds. You can't tell if the
men are still there and if they're waiting for you, but you have to get
out. You race through your burning store and out to the road. You wave
your arms until a woman stops and calls 911 for you.

Minnesota Muslims are finding themselves voiceless, discussed, defined,
categorized, psychoanalyzed, talked at and talked about without a serious
attempt at inclusion. Muslims, and friends of Muslims, would like to
change this climate. Engage Minnesota is a blog that begins that effort.

The emergency response is quick and the firefighters get the fire out, but
your store is ruined. It is your family's sole source of income, and you
have three small children at home. For the next four or five hours, you
talk with inspector after inspector. Did you know there was graffiti on
your side door? One inspector asks. He leads you over to the door, where
you see "Fuck you" and your ethnicity sprawled across the fire door. It
was not there before tonight.

You offer to work with a sketch artist to describe the attacker you saw,
but you are told "Maybe later." Each inspector asks you if you were the
one who set your store on fire. They ask you to take a polygraph test to
prove you are telling the truth, and you do, and pass it. Over the next
few days, they get a warrant and search your home for evidence. A woman
says she saw the men and can describe them, but she is turned aside as a
secondhand witness. There is no media coverage of the event. After two
weeks, you call the story in to the neighborhood newspaper. It spreads
from there, but it doesn't get a lot of attention.

Two months later, the police have not filed a final report, which means
you cannot make a claim from insurance. You have no work, and there are no
leads coming. Everyone in your family is afraid.

Knowing all this happens in Minnesota, and that it happened to Mohamed
Ismail in Blaine on January 27, 2008, what are you, reading this now,
going to do about it?

*What You Can Do*

Please come to a town hall meeting for Minnesotans to address this and
other hate crimes on Thursday, March 27, at 7 p.m. Location: Anoka
Technical College Auditorium, 1335 West Highway 10, Anoka, MN 55303.

The event is cosponsored by CAIR, Lake Harriet United Methodist Church,
Anoka Technical College Student Senate, and the NAACP

--------10 of 15--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Justice/Iraq 3.27 7pm

Social Justice panel on Iraq: "Blessed are the Peacemakers for
They Shall be Called 'the Children of God'"

Thursday, March 27, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Church of St William, Gathering
Space, 6120 5th Street Northeast, Fridley. Come listen to a panel of
speakers share information and insights about the current situation in
Iraq from a faith perspective.

WAMM member Marie Braun, will speak on her involvement in peace movements
and her experience in Iraq and why this is not a Just War. Nancy Emery,
member of Military Families Speak Out, will speak on the toll of the war
on our troops from a medical viewpoint, including Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury, and the high suicide rate. Holt
Carpenter-Larson, Senior at Spring Lake Park High School, will speak about
his work with Youth Against War and Racism and his research into the
effects of Depleted Uranium weapons on the Iraqis and on our soldiers.
FFI: Call Don or Julie Larson, 763-784-4267.

--------11 of 15--------

From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at]>
Subject: Moyers/race/pol 3.27 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | Race and Politics

This week, Bill Moyers Journal asks, "Forty years after race riots in
Detroit, Newark and dozens of other cities stunned the nation, has
anything changed?"

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Duck and Cover (Up)
Hillary Under Fire
March 26, 2008

So Hillary Clinton, her campaign sagging as it becomes clearer and clearer
that she's not going to get the Democratic nomination unless she can
destroy her opponent, insists she would have quit Barack Obama's Trinity
United Church of Christ in Chicago after hearing the allegedly "hateful"
words of its pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

But wait a sec. Putting aside the matter of whether what Wright said was
even "hateful," this same Hillary Clinton chose the rabidly anti-semitic
Rev. Billy Graham for spiritual mentor in her time of troubles during
wayward hubby Bill's impeachment scandal, and welcomed his offer of
support for her senate and presidential bids. This, of course, is the same
Billy Graham who was caught on tape telling President Nixon that he
thought Jews had a "stranglehold" on the American media, and that if
something weren't "done about it," the "country's going down the drain."

Now that certainly qualifies as hate speech, but it hasn't bothered
candidate Clinton a bit to cozy up to the Rev. Graham.

Well, maybe Clinton just "misspoke" when she said she chose the Rev.
Graham as her spiritual mentor. (Isn't that a lovely euphemism for lying,
by the way?)

Misspeaking is her excuse for her latest whopper: the one about her combat
experience in war-torn Bosnia.

Clinton, in an Iraq policy speech she gave last week aimed at trying to
burnish her claim of 35 years of Washington experience, recalled a 1996
trip to the war-torn former province of Yugoslavia, where Serbs and Croats
had been butchering each other and especially Muslims. As she told the
tale last week:

"I certainly do remember that trip to Bosnia and ... there was a saying
around the White House that if a place was too small, too poor, or too
dangerous, the president couldn't go, so send the first lady. That's where
we went. I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be
some kind of greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran
with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."

Brave woman!

Then came an embarrassing CBS news clip of that visit, which showed that
there was no sniper fire, and that Clinton, who had brought along her
daughter Chelsea and the comic Sinbad (apparently it was too dangerous for
Bill, but not too dangerous for her daughter or the commedian!), and that
all three of them had made a leisurely stroll from the plane with their
military escorts and local hosts, even stopping to greet an 8-year-old
girl who was on hand to welcome them.

A red-faced Clinton now claims she was "tired" and that she had

Except that this isn't the first time she's told this particular whopper,
as she insisted initially. She's been a serial liar about the Bosnia visit
and the mythic snipers.

All of which should raise grave doubts in the minds of primary voters in
Pennsylvania and elsewhere about the veracity of her many other claims of
foreign policy and White House executive experience-like her clearly and
demonstrably inflated claim of having "helped to bring peace to Northern
Ireland," or her equally inflated claim of having "negotiated open borders
to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo," and also about her claim
to have opposed the passage of the job-killing NAFTA treaty. (Recently
revealed Clinton White House appointment records, pried lose by a public
interest group Freedom of Information request, show that she in fact
actively pushed for NAFTA passage.)

Now we all know that all politicians bend the truth, exaggerate their
records, and yes, lie. But Clinton is now in danger of supplanting Al
Gore, who was pilloried for exaggerating his role in "inventing" the
Internet during his ill-fated run for the White House, as the season's ace
prevaricator. If she were somehow to manage to gain the Democratic
nomination, Republicans and GOP candidate John McCain would have a field
day with her at this point.

But we should not be surprised at this turn of events. After all,
Hillary's claim to White House experience and her assertion that she's
ready to assume the role of commander in chief "on day one" rests on her
having been Bill's consort and presidential "twofer." And it was Bill,
never one to be hobbled by the limitations of the truth, who famously
claimed that a statement's veracity depended on "what the meaning of `is'

Perhaps Hillary will eventually be saying the veracity of her Bosnian tall
tale hinges on what the meaning of "snipe" is.

Now I recall that when I was a kid in summer camp, a snipe was a creature
that counselors would send us off into the woods to capture in the dark.
Like Clinton's adventure with live fire, we campers eventually learned
that the animal didn't exist.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the
Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns
titled "This Can't be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press.
Lindorff's newest book is "The Case for Impeachment", co-authored by
Barbara Olshansky.

He can be reached at: dlindorff [at]

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Bail Outs and the Shadow Banking System
So Much for the Self-Regulating Market
March 26, 2008

Last week the Federal Reserve ratcheted up its ongoing efforts to halt the
burgeoning financial crisis. The Fed first engineered an injection of
money into failing investment bank Bear Stearns, an 86-year-old Wall
Street giant, and soon after facilitated a buyout of Bear by JP Morgan

The Fed's lending of money directly to an investment bank, an
unprecedented move, follows on the heels of the US government having
passed a $170 billion stimulus package last month. Once again, the state
comes to the rescue of the so-called free market.

The market economy is celebrated as much for its supposed self-regulatory
nature as for its theoretical associations with efficiency, innovation and
freedom. But once one removes the ideological blinders of free market
theory, the history of actual markets consistently demonstrates that far
from being self-regulating, the crisis-prone capitalist market economy is,
in all successful cases, deeply dependent on active and extensive state

One may look at the role of the state in establishing sustainable labor
markets (via The Factory Acts) and securing international trade in 19th
century England; in creating a stable international monetary system in the
early 20th century, including the creation of the US Federal Reserve, the
IMF and the World Bank; or in actively developing the highly successful
export economies of the East Asian Tigers and China in the late 20th
century. But the current crisis provides a case study in the fragility and
utter dependence of the "free" market on the state.

The trouble for Bear, the first Wall Street bank to fail, began last
summer when two of its hedge funds specializing in the subprime mortgage
market collapsed. The highly-leveraged Bear, holding 30 times more debt
than equity, was ultimately done in by an old-fashioned run on the bank.

To date, in addition to countless consumers who got duped into shady
mortgages, the subprime mortgage debacle has taken out the titans
Countrywide and Bear Stearns, the hedge fund Carlyle Capital, and other
smaller mortgage companies.

The current crisis, however, is more than just dubious mortgage lending,
bad bets, and a loss of market confidence. Behind the mortgage crisis is a
lax regulatory environment and the development of a shadow banking system
- complex financial instruments created by the investment community and
traded privately outside the existing regulatory structure.

More broadly, the bubbles currently being deflated in the property and
credit markets stem ultimately from speculation, fueled to a significant
extent by the loose monetary policy of the Fed since the late 1990s. The
current liquidity crunch began as the bubbles finally began to burst, a
situation worsened by the fact that key players are overleveraged banks.

         Crisis is inherent to the capitalist market economy

The foundation underlying all these macroeconomic troubles is the real
economy - the production of goods and services. The troubles in the real
economy, as opposed to those in the paper economy of the financial sector,
are the same they have been since Marx first articulated a
historically-based theory of the capitalist economy (while other
economists continued to theorize the virtues of pristine free markets);
namely, the contradiction of socialized production and private
appropriation, and the tendencies generated by the anarchy of the market.

The anarchy of markets, populated by profit-seeking individuals and
businesses in cut-throat competition, quickly generates strong pressures
for regulatory agencies such as central banks (e.g., The Fed). Central
banks and other regulatory agencies can only attempt to mitigate market
swings and to stave off the worst effects of the tendencies of market
anarchy, that is, to prevent episodes like the Great Depression that are
the natural outcome of unregulated markets: speculation leading to bubbles
and then to bank runs.

At an even more fundamental level are the problems resulting from the
contradiction between socialized production and private appropriation.
Although the productivity of American businesses is a function of the
coordinated labor power of the workers, the output is privately
appropriated by the owners and their organizations.

Private appropriation has generated extreme levels of income inequality;
labor's share in US productivity gains has been declining for 30 years,
and remuneration is again as completely out of sync with levels of effort
and skill as it was in the early 20th century.

The concentration of wealth in the hands of a small percentage of the
population, which generates serious problems for the purchasing power of
regular workers, was arguably a fundamental cause of the economic
imbalances leading up the stock market crash of 1929.

More generally, the problem of matching supply and demand, specifically,
ensuring a high level of demand to meet the capacity for supply, is an
enduring one for capitalist economies. It was temporarily dealt with by
Keynesian demand management policies in the decades from WWII through the
early 1970s. Since then, the institutional fix to problem of matching
supply and demand has been an economy run on debt spending, including the
trade deficit, overleveraged banks, and consumers spending on credit
financed by a combination of the property and housing bubbles.

These contradictions and problems in the real economy are intimately
related to the current crisis. According to Stephen S. Roach of Morgan
Stanley Asia, "Over the past six years, income-short consumers made up for
the weak increases in their paychecks by extracting equity from the
housing bubble through cut-rate borrowing that was subsidized by the
credit bubble."

               The politics behind the economics

Although crises are inherent to capitalism, the current crisis, with its
roots partly in the shadow banking system, is a natural outgrowth of
neoliberal policies. Classical liberalism, the political doctrine of
individual freedom and limited government, was the reigning political
order until the unregulated market imploded in the US in the late 1920s,
setting off a sustained worldwide depression.

>From these ruins emerged both the New Deal and the Keynesian consensus,
leading to broad agreement that the state has a fundamental role to play
in the economy: establishing a safety net and actively managing the

But as corporate profit rates were squeezed and international competition
intensified in the early 1970s, the conditions were ripe for the free
marketeers to stage a political comeback.

Thus was born neoliberalism, the post-Keynesian political project of
reasserting - as official state policy - the doctrine that free trade
and deregulation are the best ways to ensure economic efficiency, economic
growth, and individual freedom.

Far from being a free and self-regulating market, today's neoliberal
economy is one highly organized by the state and a variety of
institutions, nearly all of which are explicitly structured in the
interests of investors, against those of working families. So-called
deregulation is more accurately called neoliberal regulation.

The same system generating the current financial crisis, as well as the
manufacturing crisis in which 3.7 million jobs have been lost in the last
seven years, is not any old free market. Rather it is neoliberal
capitalism, which has, for its 30 year run, also generated rising
inequality and labor market instability throughout the same period.

A saner policy environment would begin by rejecting the dogma of
self-regulating markets, so that regulatory institutions may be fortified
and public investment dramatically increased. The state should invest in
badly-needed infrastructure and could develop an export oriented
industrial policy to help rebalance the debt-driven economy.

Ultimately, to deal with the ongoing problems in the economy - crisis,
underfunded infrastructure and schools, inequality, poverty, etc. - we
need to reject the entire ideology of the free market. Freedom is more
than a choice between dozens of kinds of TVs. Efficiency is important, but
shrewd state investment and intervention can increase efficiencies, and
there is an immense ground for potentially-satisfactory tradeoffs between
the extremes of American-style hyper-capitalism and Soviet-style planned

Matt Vidal is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the UCLA Institute for Research on
Labor and Employment. He can be reached at mvidal [at]

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Tax My Rich White Torturer
by Mark Morford
Published on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 by the San Francisco Chronicle
Common Dreams

Schools? Health care? As if. Your taxes pay for brutality and Wall St.
bailouts. Feel better?

Just so we have this straight: You are not paying taxes merely to fund
torture and bomb-dropping and the killing of countless innocents in Iraq
in a futile and lost war that's not really a war and is far more of a
massive fiscal, tactical and moral failure which will end up costing the
nation an estimated $3 trillion, burn through any remaining sense of
national dignity and leave repercussions that will last for generations.

Ha. You should be so lucky. Because your tax money is right now also
funding the Fed's unprecedented and rather shocking multibillion-dollar
bailout of rich bankers and fund managers who have, through their greed
and excess and with the implied blessing of former Chairman Alan Greenspan
(whom many consider the architect of the collapse in the first place),
helped bring about what is shaping up to be the worst fiscal crisis since
World War II.

There now. Don't you feel better? Isn't it a good time to be an American?
And is it not, despite the notorious dishonesty of the players involved,
still a bit hard to believe?

Yes, I know it's George W. Bush. I know its Dick "Satan Loves You" Cheney.
I know it's Wall Street. Hence, I know expectations are at rock bottom.
But as far as torture is concerned, it's still profoundly disturbing to
watch the world's most powerful leader, the president of what was once
considered the most reasoned, humanitarian nation on the planet and the
one that ostensibly set the ethical bar for all nations, actually veto a
bill that would've banned some of the most brutal forms of torture known
to man, techniques we know for a fact do not work.

Repeat: Torture does not work. Waterboarding does not work. It merely
coerces the tortured into telling you what you want to hear. The CIA knows
it. Torturers know it. God knows it. No matter, because America is
apparently still being run by inbred white collar thugs who would blind
their own mothers for an uptick in Exxon share prices.

By the way, it has also come to pass that this same president, amid an
appalling laundry list of scientific and environmental abuses, has
actually worked firsthand to worsen the quality of the very air itself.

It's as true as it is disgusting. It turns out that Bush himself stepped
in to force the already troubled Environmental Protection Agency to defy
its own mandate, its own scientific recommendations, ordering it to raise
the limits for allowable ozone (it was about to recommend the exact
opposite), all for the benefit of his pals in Big Energy.

No president ever dared such a move before. In fact, Bush's action was so
unprecedented, so galling, so against the very structure of government
itself that an army of White House lawyers had to scramble to rewrite the
legal justifications for the lower air standard. Do you smell that? That's
the scent of the most shamelessly foul leader of the free world. Breathe
deeply, because it ain't over yet.

So then, torture, pollution, more war, Wall Street megalomania,
incompetence like some sort of satanic mantra. If you had any lingering
doubt that Bush was an arrogant and petulant man-child with the mind of a
violently overpampered 10-year-old? Please abolish it now.

Ah, but wait. It's not all bad. After all, Congress - with the eager
support of the infuriatingly mindless Democrats, by the way - just rushed
through an economic stimulus package, costing even more billions of
dollars we do not have just so the IRS can rush you a check for a few
hundred bucks, presumably so you can race right out and make a down
payment on that foreclosed three-bedroom two-bath hunk of shiny tract home
hell in Antioch - "The Finest Slum this Side of Stockton" - with enough
left over for a burrito and some vodka. Voila! Economy saved. Or maybe

Do you feel stimulated? Do you feel reassured? Oh wait, I'm sorry, gas is
now $4 a gallon and therefore by the time you actually made it to your
tract slum and back, well, your stimulus has evaporated into a gassy
vapor, just like your shares in Bear Stearns. Whoops.

Maybe now is when the real dark period begins. Sure the last seven years
of the inept Bush regime have been miserable and shameful, sure we've been
humiliated, mortified a thousand ways from Sunday by an administration
that would yank the legs off a dog if it meant a thank-you note from

But now Bush is in his final year. This is both the good news, and also
the very, very bad news. Because we are now in the death throes of the
worst administration in modern history, entering the period of serious
consequences, of economic collapse, environmental impact, record oil
prices, international recoil, rashes, boils, inexplicable vomiting. Fun
for the whole family.

Know this for a fact. Bush does not care. He is detached, supercilious,
viciously ignorant of anything but how beautifully he has served his
corporate masters, of how he has raked in billions of dollars for
Halliburton and Lockheed Martin and Exxon and the coal industry, mercenary
armies and military manufacturers and his dad.s Saudi friends. He is on no
one's side but theirs, and he always has been.

Some say this pain, this fiscal crisis, this enormous instability will
last a few years. Some say no way, it will be at least a generation or two
before we can right this ship of state again, so deep are the wounds and
so insane is our national debt and so violent the damage to our
reputation, our identity, our enfeebled infrastructure.

But I'm more with those who say, no, the truth is we will never truly
recover, that America's former ranking as Gilded and Irreproachable Empire
No. 1 is dead and gone. India and China are dramatically changing the
game, peak oil is nigh, fresh water is the new gold, the planet itself is
in paroxysm, Mother Nature is quickly revealing her hand - or rather,
maybe just that one big, stormy middle finger.

But maybe this is the best news of all. Because the sort of gluttonous
empire Bush so disgustingly represented was doomed to failure. The center
could not hold. Dubya may not have hastened the apocalypse like the
evangelicals desperately prayed he would, but he certainly is hastening
the end of the bloviated American ego.

So maybe the real question is not can we return to our former ill-gotten
superpower glory, insular and unparalleled and reckless and arrogant, or
even peaceful and defensive and ironclad. The true question is, do we have
the slightest clue what we want to become instead?

Thoughts for the author? E-mail him. Mark Morford's Notes & Errata column
appears every Wednesday and Friday on SFGate and in the Datebook section
of the San Francisco Chronicle.

 The San Francisco Chronicle

--------15 of 15--------

Too Timid, Too Little and Too Late
Frontline's War
Former CIA Analyst
March 26, 2008

Frontline's "Bush's War" on PBS Monday and Tuesday evening was a nicely
put-together rehash of the top players' trickery that led to the attack on
Iraq, together with the power-grabbing, back-stabbing, and limitless
incompetence of the occupation.

Except for an inside-the-beltway tidbit here and there-for example, about
how the pitiable secretary of state Colin Powell had to suffer so many
indignities at the hands of other type-A hard chargers, Frontline added
little to the discussion. Notably missing was any allusion to the
unconscionable role the Fourth Estate adopted as indiscriminate
cheerleader for the home team; nor was there any mention that the invasion
was a serious violation of international law. But those omissions, I
suppose, should have come as no surprise.

Nor was it a surprise that any viewer hoping for insight into why Cheney
and Bush were so eager to attack Iraq was left with very thin gruel. It
was more infotainment, bereft of substantive discussion of the whys and
wherefores of what in my view is the most disastrous foreign policy move
in our nation's history.

Despite recent acknowledgements from the likes of Alan Greenspan, Gen.
John Abizaid, and others that oil and permanent (or, if you prefer,
"enduring") military bases were among the main objectives, Frontline
avoided any real discussion of such delicate factors. Someone not already
aware of how our media has become a tool of the Bush administration might
have been shocked at how Frontline could have missed one of President
George W. Bush's most telling "signing statements." Underneath the recent
Defense Authorization Act, he wrote that he did not feel bound by the
law's explicit prohibition against using the funding:

"(1) To establish any military installation or base for the purpose of
providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in
Iraq," or

"(2) To exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq."

So the Frontline show was largely pap.

At one point, however, the garrulous former Deputy Secretary of State
Richard Armitage did allude to one of the largest elephants in the living
room - Israel's far-right Likudniks - and their close alliance with the
so-called neo-conservatives running our policy toward the Middle East. But
Armitage did so only tangentially, referring to the welcome (if totally
unrealistic) promise by Ahmed Chalabi that, upon being put in power in
Baghdad, he would recognize Israel. Not surprisingly, the interviewer did
not pick up on that comment; indeed, I'm surprised the remark avoided the
cutting room floor.

           Courage No Longer a Frontline Hallmark

Frontline has done no timely reportage that might be looked upon as
disparaging the George W. Bush administration - I mean, for example, the
real aims behind the war, not simply the gross incompetence characterizing
its conduct. Like so many others, Frontline has been, let's just say it,
cowardly in real time - no doubt intimidated partly by attacks on its
funding that were inspired by the White House.

And now? Well the retrospective criticism of incompetence comes as polling
shows two-thirds of the country against the Iraq occupation (and the
number is surely higher among PBS viewers). So, Frontline is repositioning
itself as a mild ex-post-facto critic of the war, but still unwilling to
go very far out on a limb. Explaining the aims behind war crimes can, of
course, be risky. It is as though an invisible Joseph Goebbels holds sway.

                              Too Late

On Monday evening I found myself initially applauding Frontline's matter-
of-fact, who-shot-John chronology of how our country got lied into
attacking and occupying Iraq. Then I got to thinking - have I not seen
this picture before? Many times?

It took a Hollywood producer to recognize and act promptly on the con
games that sober observers could not miss as the war progressed. Where
were the celebrated "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD)? Robert Greenwald
simply could not abide the president's switch to "weapons of mass
destruction programs," which presumably might be easier to find than the
much-ballyhooed WMD so heavily advertised before the attack on Iraq. You
remember - those remarkable WMD about which UN chief inspector Hans Blix
quipped that the U.S. had one hundred percent certainty of their existence
in Iraq, but zero percent certainty as to where they were.

Robert Greenwald called me in May 2003. He had read a few of the memoranda
published by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) exposing
the various charades being acted out by the administration and wanted to
know what we thought of the president's new circumlocution on WMD.

I complimented him on smelling a rat and gave him names of my VIPS
colleagues and other experienced folks who could fill him in on the
details. Wasting no time, he arrived here in Washington in June, armed
simply with copious notes and a cameraman. Greenwald conducted the
interviews, flew back to his eager young crew in Hollywood and, poof, the
DVD "Uncovered: The War on Iraq" was released at the beginning of November

So Frontline is four and a half years behind a Hollywood producer with
appropriate interest and skepticism. (Full disclosure: I appear in
"Uncovered," as do many of the interviewees appearing in Frontline's
"Bush's War.")

Actually, the interviewing by Frontline occurred just a few months later.
I know because I was among those interviewed for that as well, as was my
good friend and former colleague at the CIA, Mel Goodman. I was struck
that Mel looked four years younger on this week's Frontline. It only then
dawned on me that he was four years younger when interviewed.

Have a look at "Uncovered," and see how you think it compares to
Frontline's "Bush's War."

                      Safety in Retrospectives

It also struck me that producing a Frontline-style retrospective going
back several years is a much less risky genre to work with. Chalk it up to
my perspective as an intelligence analyst, but ducking the incredibly
important issues at stake over the next several months is, in my opinion,
unconscionable. The troop "surge" in Iraq, for example.

Only toward the very end of the program does Frontline allow a bit of
relevant candor on a point that has been self-evident since Cheney and
Bush, against strong opposition from Generals Abizaid and Casey (and
apparently even Rumsfeld), decided to double down by sending 30,000 more
troops into Iraq. A malleable new secretary of defense would deal with the
recalcitrant generals and pick a Petreaus ex Machina of equal malleability
and political astuteness to implement this stop-gap plan.

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist/author Steve Coll, with typical candor,
put the "surge" into perspective:

"The decision at a minimum guaranteed that his [Bush's] presidency would
not end with a defeat in history's eyes; that by committing to the surge,
he was certain to at least achieve a stalemate."

Given this week's fresh surge of violence as the U.S. surge is scheduled
to wind down, even a stalemate may be in some doubt. But, okay, small
kudos to Frontline for including that bit of truth - however obvious - and
for adding the grim background music to its final comment: "Soon Bush's
war will be handed to someone else."

                      Rather Not, Thank You

Intimidation of the media is what has happened all around, including with
Frontline, which not so many years ago was able to do some gutsy
reporting. Let me give you another example about which few are aware.

Do you remember when Dan Rather made his Apologia Pro Vita Sua, admitting
that the American media, including him, was failing to reveal the truth
about things like Iraq? Speaking to the BBC on May 16, 2002, Rather
compared the situation to the fear of "necklacing" in South Africa:

"It's an obscene comparison," Rather said, "but there was a time in South
Africa when people would put flaming tires around peoples' necks if they
dissented. In some ways, the fear is that you will be neck-laced here, you
will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck."

Talking to another reporter, Dan told it straight about the careerism that
keeps US journalists in line. "It's that fear that keeps [American]
journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions and to
continue to bore-in on the tough questions so often."

The comparison to "necklacing" may be "obscene" but, sadly, it is not far
off the mark. So what happened to the newly outspoken Dan Rather with the
newly found courage, when he ran afoul of Vice President Dick Cheney and
the immense pressure he exerts on the corporate media?

We know about the lies and the cheerleading for attacking Iraq. But there
is much more most of us do not know and remain unable to learn if Rather
and other one-time journalists keep acting like Bert Lahr's cowardly lion
in the Wizard of Oz before he gets "the nerve" and courage.

For Dan Rather, the fear would simply not go away...even after leaving CBS
for HDNet and promising that, on his new "Dan Rather Reports" show,
viewers would see hard-hitting and courageous reporting that he said he
couldn't do at CBS.

Will it surprise you that Dan Rather cannot shake the necklace? I refer
specifically to a program for "Dan Rather Reports," meticulously prepared
by award-winning producer, Kristina Borjesson. The special included
interviews with an impressive string of first-hand witnesses to neocon
machinations prior to the US attack on Iraq, and provides real insights
into motivations - the kind of insights Frontline did not even attempt.

             Nipped in the Bud by the "Dark Side"

Last year Borjesson's taping was finished and the editing had begun.
Borjesson's requests to interview people working for the vice president
had been denied. But, following standard journalistic practice (not to
mention common courtesy), she sent an email to John Hannah in Cheney's
office in order to give Hannah a chance to react to what others -
including several of the same senior folks on Frontline last evening - had
said about him for her forthcoming report.

At that point all hell broke loose. Borjesson was abruptly told by
Rather's executive producer that by sending the email, Borjesson could
have "brought down the whole ('Dan Rather Reports') operation."

The show was killed and Borjesson sacked. For good measure, she was also
accused of "coaching" interview subjects and taking their words out of
context. Since neither Rather nor his executive producer would provide
proof to substantiate that allegation, Borjesson took the unprecedented
step of sending her script and transcripts to all her interview subjects,
asking them to confirm or deny that she had coached them or taken their
words out of context. Not one of them found her script inaccurate or said
they were coached. She has the emails to prove this.

This sorry episode and Frontline's careful avoidance of basic issues like
the strategic aims of the Bush administration in invading and occupying
Iraq are proof, if further proof were needed, that the White House, and
especially Cheney's swollen office, exert enormous pressure over what we
are allowed to see and hear. The fear they instill in the corporate press,
and in what once was serious investigative reporting of programs like
Frontline, translates into programs getting neutered or killed
outright - and massive public ignorance.

Some consolation is to be found in the good news that, in this particular
case, Kristina Borjesson is made of stronger stuff; she has not given up,
and was greatly encouraged by how many of the very senior officials and
former officials she had already interviewed consented to be
re-interviewed (since the tapes belonged to the "Rather Not" folks).

Now who looks forward to being re-interviewed?

Borjesson's original interviewees took into account her problems with the
cowards and the censors - and her atypical, gutsy refusal to self-censor -
and went the extra mile. A tribute to them as well, and their interest in
getting the truth out.

Borjesson is now completing the program on her own. Look for an
announcement in the coming months, if you're interested in real sustenance
rather than the pabulum served up, no doubt under duress, by Frontline.

Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990 and Robert Gates' branch
chief in the early 1970s. McGovern now serves on the Steering Group of
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). He is a contributor
to Imperial Crusades, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair.
He can be reached at: rrmcgovern [at]

This article originally appeared on


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