Progressive Calendar 04.24.08
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2008 05:54:17 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    04.24.08

1. Climate/land      4.24 11:45am
2. New Hope demo     4.24 4:30pm
3. Eagan vigil       4.24 4:30pm
4. Northtown vigil   4.24 5pm
5. Take back night   4.24 6pm
6. Climate solutions 4.24 6:30pm Duluth MN
7. Rachel Corrie     4.24 7pm
8. Bennis/v empire   4.24 7pm
9. Border crossing   4.24 8pm

10. Peace ed         4.25
11. Giant book sale  4.25 4pm
12. MidEast/Nobel    4.25 7pm
13. NOW/health       4.25 8:30pm
14. Moyers/Wright    4.25 9pm

15. Stauber/Rampton - Embedding military propagandists into the news media
16. Bernard Weiner  - Impeachment now or apocalypse later?
17. James Petras    - Venezuela: democracy, socialism & imperialism 4/4

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

From: Institute on the Environment <danie419 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Climate/land 4.24 11:45am

THURSDAY, APRIL 24 * 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Challenges of Climate & Land Use and Land Cover Change Modeling at a
Regional Scale

Featuring:
Dr. William Gutowski; Professor, Dept. of Geological & Atmospheric
Sciences; Iowa State University
Dr. Peter Snyder; Assistant Professor, Dept. of Soil, Water and Climate;
University of Minnesota
Dr. Tracy Twine; Assistant Professor, Dept. of Soil, Water and Climate;
University of Minnesota

Moderator:
Dr. Richard Skaggs; Institute on the Environment Founding Fellow;
Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Geography; Co-Director, Master of Geographic
Information Science Program; University of Minnesota

Location:
Cargill Building for Microbial and Plant Genomics, Room 105; U of M, St.
Paul campus

Much of the interest in and concern about climate change derives from the
results of Global Climate Models (GCMs). But the impacts of climate change
differ from region to region, sometimes leading to discussions of
"winners" and "losers." These differences are not always specified by the
GCMs. Furthermore, greenhouse gas emissions are just one of the drivers of
climate change. Land use and land cover change (LULCC) also drives the
climate regime, especially at regional and local levels. This Environment
Roundtable focuses on a topic of particular interest to regional
policymakers and planners: The integration of climate modeling and LULCC
modeling at spatial and temporal scales.


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

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: New Hope demo 4.24 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.


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

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 4.24 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.


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

From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 4.24 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.


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

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Take Back Night 4.24 6pm

On Thursday April 24th the 11th  annual (in this incarnation) Take
Back the Night March will take place in Minneapolis.

MPIRG -- Minnesota Public Interest Group -- has been the organizers of
this event for as many years.  This year the march will start and end in
Loring Park.  Any organization that would like to table at the event is
more than welcome: bring your own table, be set up by 5:45pm.  Below is
the line up for the evening and a link to the MPIRG page.  If you have any
questions please email Hanna Hindin hhundin [at] gmail.com
<mailto:hhundin [at] gmail.com> .  I spoke with the organizers about having a
youth contingent that would want to march and focus on GLBTQ youth and
stopping violence in our schools -- they loved the idea....and also hope
that youth would want to be a part of the speak out section.  If you or
any youth or youth groups in your school, organizations etc. would like to
participate - make your signs, practice your chants and we will see you on
the 24th !!!

Take Back The Night march and rally
Loring Park
Thursday April 24th 6pm

The line-up for the evening is now set!
6pm - Ashley Gold, performance
6:30 - you!
6:40 - Rep. Karen Clark
6:55 - Jessica Lopez Lyman
7:15 - march
8:30 - Indigo, performance
9:00 - Speak Out

http://www.mpirg.org/womensrights/TBTN/index.htm


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

From: Debbie <ddo [at] mchsi.com>
Subject: Climate solutions 4.24 6:30pm Duluth MN

Local to Global Climate Change Solutions
Come and learn what you can do to make a difference!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
6:30pm - 8:30pm
University of Minnesota Duluth campus - Kirby Ballroom (3rd floor)
1120 Kirby Drive - Duluth

Presenters;
Carin Skoog, Fresh Energy - Global Warming Solutions
Dean Talbott, MN Power - Energy Saving Opportunities in the Home
Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, Clean Water Action Taking Action

Free and open to the public students encouraged to attend. Free popcorn
and 1913 Root beer keg Plus Great Door Prizes and First 100 people will
receive a free cloth grocery bag and compact fluorescent lightbulb from MN
Power.

Information tables and materials from Oxfam and sponsoring groups will be
available.

Sponsored by League of Women Voters Duluth, Clean Water Action Alliance of
MN, and MPIRG-UMD. Funded by Oxfam of America and the League of Women
Voters Education Fund. For more information contact CWA at 722-8557.


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

From: William Bailey <wbailey [at] visi.com>
Subject: Rachel Corrie 4.24 7pm

Middle East Peace Now strongly supports the reading described below. On
January 12, we hosted a different reading of Rachel Corrie - A Life for
Others, written and produced by local writer and actor, Frances Ford.  This
is a new presentation.

Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie
Thursday, April 24, 7 p.m.
At Micawber's Book Store, 2230 Carter Avenue in Saint Paul.

Members of Rachel Corrie's family will be reading from the book featuring
her writings, Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie.

Let Me Stand Alone reveals Corrie's striking gifts as a poet and writer
while telling her story in her own words, from her earliest reflections to
her final e-mails. Her writing brings to life all that it means to come of
age--a dawning sense of self, a thirst for one's own ideals, and an
evolving connection to others, near and far. Corrie writes about the
looming issues of her time as well as the ordinary angst of an American
teen, all with breathtaking passion, compassion, insight, and humor.

Rachel Corrie was a young American activist killed on March 16, 2003, as
she tried to block the demolition of a Palestinian family's home in the
Gaza Strip. She was 23 years old.
Cosponsored by the Loft and Micawber's Book Store
Free


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

From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Bennis/v empire 4.24 7pm

Phyllis Bennis: "Challenging Empire"
Thursday, April 24, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Macalester Plymouth Church, 1658
Lincoln Avenue, St. Paul.

Friday, April 25, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Christ United Methodist Church, 400
5th Avenue Southwest, Rochester.

Phyllis Bennis is a fellow of the Transnational Institute and the
Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC, which was called "the think
tank for the rest of us" by iconoclastic American journalist I. F. Stone.
Formerly based at the United Nations, Bennis is the author and editor of
books on Palestine, Iraq, and the UN. Recent publications are
"Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer," "Challenging
Empire: How People, Governments and the UN Defy U.S. Power," and "Before
and After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September 11 Crisis."

To prepare for Phyllis Bennis' talk on the evening of April 24th, please
read the introductory chapter of her book "Challenging Empire".  Go to
<www.worldwidewamm.org> to download the reading material. Co-sponsored by:
Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace, Middle East Peace Now, Northwest
Neighbors for Peace, Rochester Pax Christi Peace Group, Southeast
Minnesota Peacemakers, and the WAMM Empire Committee. FFI: Call WAMM,
612-827-5364 or visit <www.worldwidewamm.org>.


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

From: paulino brener <mail [at] paulino.info>
Subject: Border crossing 4.24 8pm

"BORDER CROSSING"
April 24 through May 4, 2008: Thur-Sat at 8pm, Sun at 2 p.m.
The Ritz Theatre, 345 13th Ave NE Minneapolis

TICKETS - Call the Ritz Box Office at 612-436-1129; for Information Call
Off-Leash Area at 612-724-7372

Border Crossing will be a puppet and dance performance that reenacts the
dramatic journey of Mexican immigrants who cross the Arizona/Mexico desert
border, as seen through the eyes of the creatures who inhabit it.
Off-Leash Area turns the Ritz Theatre stage in NE Minneapolis into the
Sonoran desert environment of the Arizona/Mexico border, as dancers
portray the traveling immigrants, and puppeteers animate desert creatures
who comment on the transpiring events in a poetically styled text.


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

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Peace ed 4.25

Friday, 4/25, all day, World Citizens sponsors workshops for peace
educators, focusing on middle and senior high teachers, no cost, sub pay
provided, St Michael's Lutheran Church, 1660 County Rd B W, St Paul.
http://www.peacesites.org/educators/index.php


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

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Giant book sale 4.25 4pm

[For really big coffee tables. -ed]

FRIDAY APRIL 25 4pm to 11pm
Sat.April 26 9am-5pm
GIANT BOOK SALE
Free Popcorn & Lemonade

Books of faith, peace & justice. Children's books

ST. MARTIN'S TABLE
2001 Riverside Ave.
south Minneapolis
(Parking behind the bldg)
612-339-3920


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

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: MidEast/Nobel 4.25 7pm

"The Roots of Chaos in the Middle East"
Presented by Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Laureate
Friday, April 25, 7 pm
Hamline University's Sundin Music Hall
1531 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul

An Iranian lawyer and human rights activist, Dr. Ebadi was awarded the
Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her significant and pioneering efforts in
democracy and the rights of women and children.

Free and open to the public Call 651-523-2223


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

From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org>
Subject: NOW/health 4.25 8:30pm

NOW | Health Care Crisis
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/042108T.shtml

This week on NOW, "As the political campaigns gear up for Tuesday's
Pennsylvania primary, the candidates are trumpeting positions on one of
the state's - and the country's - thorniest and most pressing issues:
health care reform. With health care costs in the Keystone State 11
percent higher than the national average and rising twice as fast as the
average wage, it's a problem Pennsylvania is desperately trying to fix on
its own. The state legislature is debating a plan backed by Governor Ed
Rendell to provide benefits to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians,
but there's disagreement over who's going to foot the bill."


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

From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org>
Subject: Moyers/Wright 4.25 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | Interview With Rev. Jeremiah Wright
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/042208U.shtml

"The Rev. Jeremiah Wright will be interviewed on PBS this week by Bill
Moyers in his first broadcast interview with a journalist since he became
embroiled in a controversy for his remarks and his relationship with
Barack Obama. Wright, who retired in early 2008 as pastor of Trinity
United Church of Christ in Chicago, where Senator Obama is a member, has
been at the center of controversy for comments he made during sermons,
which surfaced in the press in March."


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

Embedding Military Propagandists into the News Media
Pentagon News Networks
By JOHN STAUBER and SHELDON RAMPTON
CounterPunch
April 23, 2008

David Barstow of the New York Times has written the first installment in
what is already a stunning expose of the Bush Administration's most
powerful propaganda weapon used to sell and manage the war on Iraq: the
embedding of military propagandists directly into the TV networks as
on-air commentators. We and others have long criticized the widespread TV
network practice of hiring former military officials to serve as analysts,
but even in our most cynical moments we did not anticipate how bad it was.
Barstow has painstakingly documented how these analysts, most of them
military industry consultants and lobbyists, were directly chosen,
managed, coordinated and given their talking points by the Pentagon's
ministers of propaganda.

Thanks to the two-year investigation by the New York Times, we today know
that Victoria Clarke, then the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public
Affairs, launched the Pentagon military analyst program in early 2002.
These supposedly independent military analysts were in fact a coordinated
team of pro-war propagandists, personally recruited by Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and acting under Clarke's tutelage and
development.  [Literally, a conspiracy. In the US government. -ed]

One former participant, NBC military analyst Kenneth Allard, has called
the effort "psyops on steroids." As Barstow reports, "Internal Pentagon
documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as 'message force
multipliers' or 'surrogates' who could be counted on to deliver
administration 'themes and messages' to millions of Americans 'in the form
of their own opinions.' ... Don Meyer, an aide to Ms. Clarke, said a
strategic decision was made in 2002 to make the analysts the main focus of
the public relations push to construct a case for war."

Clarke and her senior aide, Brent T. Krueger, eventually signed up more
than 75 retired military officers who penned newspaper op/ed columns and
appeared on television and radio news shows as military analysts. The
Pentagon held weekly meetings with the military analysts, which continued
as of April 20, 2008, when the New York Times ran Barstow's story. The
program proved so successful that it was expanded to issues besides the
Iraq War. "Other branches of the administration also began to make use of
the analysts. Mr. Gonzales, then the attorney general, met with them soon
after news leaked that the government was wiretapping terrorism suspects
in the United States without warrants, Pentagon records show. When David
H. Petraeus was appointed the commanding general in Iraq in January 2007,
one of his early acts was to meet with the analysts."

Barstow spent two years digging, using the Freedom of Information Act and
attorneys to force the Bush Administration to release some 8,000 pages of
documents now under lock and key at the New York Times. This treasure
trove should result in additional stories, giving them a sort of "Pentagon
Papers" of Iraq war propaganda.

In 1971, when the Times printed excerpts of the Pentagon Papers on its
front page, it precipitated a constitutional showdown with the Nixon
Administration over the deception and lies that sold the war in Vietnam.
The Pentagon Papers issue dominated the news media back then. Today,
however, Barstow's stunning report is being ignored by the most important
news media in America - TV news - the source where most Americans,
unfortunately, get most of their information. [The "liberal" media. Ha ha]

Joseph Goebbels, eat your heart out. Goebbels is history's most notorious
war propagandist, but even he could not have invented a smoother PR
vehicle for selling and maintaining media and public support for a war:
embed trusted "independent" military experts into the TV newsroom. As with
most propaganda, the key to the success of this effort was the element of
concealment, as these analysts and the Bush administration hid the fact
that their talking points and marching orders were coming directly from
the Pentagon.  [Hmm. Remember Russia's Pravda and how it was ridiculed as
spouting the Moscow Line? Couldn't happen here in glorious America, tho..]

The use of these analysts was a glaring violation of journalistic
standards. As the code of ethics of the Society of Professional
Journalists explains, journalists are supposed to

* Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.

* Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity
or damage credibility.

* Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun
secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in
community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.

* Disclose unavoidable conflicts.

* Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.

* Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist
their pressure to influence news coverage.

* Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money.

The networks using these analysts as journalists shamelessly failed to vet
their experts and ignored the obvious conflicts of hiring a person with
financial relationships to companies profiting from war to be an on-air
analyst of war. They acted as if war was a football game and their
military commentators were former coaches and players familiar with the
rules and strategies. The TV networks even paid these "analysts" for their
propaganda, enabling them to present themselves as "third party experts"
while parroting White House talking points to sell the war.

Now that Barstow has blown their cover, the TV networks have generally
refused to comment about this matter. Further compounding their violations
of the public trust, they are blacking out coverage of the New York Times
expose, no doubt on advice of their own PR and crisis management advisors.

Since the 1920s there have been laws passed to stop the government from
doing what Barstow has exposed. It is actually illegal in the United
States for the government to propagandize its own citizens. As Barstow's
report demonstrates, these laws have been repeatedly violated, are not
enforced and are clearly inadequate. The U.S. Congress therefore needs to
investigate this and the rest of the Bush propaganda campaign that sold
the war in Iraq.

The attack and occupation of Iraq continues, with no end in sight.
Estimates of the number of Iraqi dead range from the hundreds of thousands
to more than a million. The cost to American taxpayers will eventually be
in the trillions of dollars. More than 4,000 US soldiers have lost their
lives, and this is just a part of the horrific toll of mental and physical
disability that the war is taking on hundreds of thousands of troops and
their families.

This war would never have been possible had the mainstream news media done
its job. Instead, it has repeated the Big Lies that sold the war. This war
would never have been possible without the millions of dollars spent by
the Bush Administration on sophisticated and deceptive public relations
techniques such as the Pentagon military analyst program that David
Barstow has exposed. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Victoria
Clarke, who designed and oversaw this Pentagon propaganda machine, now
works as a commentator for TV network news. She may have changed jobs and
employers since leaving the Pentagon, but her work remains the same.
[In America, no vice goes unrewarded.]

John Stauber is the executive director of the Center for Media and
Democracy.

Sheldon Rampton is its research director. They have co-authored two books
about the war: Iraq: Weapons of Mass Deception and The Best War Ever.


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

Impeachment now or apocalypse later?
By Bernard Weiner
Online Journal Guest Writer
Apr 23, 2008, 00:11

The political noose seems to be tightening on the key members of the
remaining miscreants down in the White House bunker - mainly Bush,
Cheney, Rice, Addington and Mukasey. (Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Gonzales, Powell
and Tenet were pushed out the door earlier.) But will the Democrats,
having been provided with smoking gun-type evidence of these officials'
high crimes and misdemeanors, take the next logical step to end this
continuing nightmare of law-breaking at the highest levels?

                Torture authorized from on high

After eight years, the multiple examples of ethical and felonious crimes
of the Bush administration are now abundantly clear and beyond rational
dispute. Most compelling among them is the crime of authorizing torture as
state policy.

In recent days, we've learned that George W. Bush signed orders
authorizing torture, and admitted that he approved of the deliberations by
his National Security Council's Principals Committee on the torture regime
being set up for a few high-value prisoners. (Which, of course, filtered
down to how thousands of suspected terrorists were maltreated.)

Bush has conceded that his Principals (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Ashcroft,
Powell, Tenet) kept him apprised of their deliberations on which suspected
terrorists would undergo which forms of torture, according to ABC News'
recent blockbuster story.

The meetings of the Principals, according to ABC, took place in early 2002
at least four months before the administration's famous Bybee/Yoo memos
were issued that retroactively sought to provide legal justification for
the torture. (Short version of those memoranda: The president is above all
U.S. laws and international treaties.)

During those Principals' meetings, Dick Cheney was a driving force behind
the use of "harsh interrogations" of the prisoners in U.S. care. Other
members were more worried about what they were doing. In the ABC story,
according to a top official, John Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting:
"Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge
this kindly."

Condoleezza Rice, then national security advisor, aggressively chaired the
Principals' torture meetings. Despite some occasional misgivings voiced by
Ashcroft and Colin Powell about the "enhanced interrogation" techniques
being employed, Rice told the CIA: "This is your baby. Go do it."

                  Trying to make torture "legal"

Torture, as commonly understood and defined, is illegal under both U.S.
law and international treaties that American governments have ratified
over the decades. Bush&Co. had to come up with a way to torture suspects
but not to appear to be doing so. Here's how it worked: Officials felt
they could honestly assert that the administration didn't approve of or
authorize torture because under the new definition supplied in the
Bybee/Yoo memos, it was torture only if the prisoners were near-death or
their internal organs were about to fail as a result of their treatment.
In other words, the administration simply made everything else legal:
beatings, near-drownings, electroshocks to the genitals, stress positions,
sexual abuse, etc. Only if the interrogators killed the prisoners or were
close to doing so would they have crossed over the line. See my Control
the Dictionary, Control the World.

It turns out that David Addington, Cheney's then-legal counsel who has
since replaced Scooter Libby as Cheney's chief of staff, was at the locus
of the cockamamie reasoning behind both the Bybee/Yoo torture memos and
the "unitary executive" theory of governance. The latter asserts that the
president is in charge of basically everything governmental and can't be
touched; further, the Bybee/Yoo memos assert the president cannot be
second-guessed when he claims to be acting as "commander in chief" during
"wartime."

Of course, there has been no congressional Declaration of War, as the
Constitution requires; the "war" - at an estimated cost of several
trillions(!) of dollars - is the "War on Terror," which, since it's being
waged against a tactic, can never be completely won and thus is
never-ending. In short, the president, under this asserted legal cover,
can act more or less as a dictator forever, including declaring martial
law whenever he deems an "emergency" situation prevails. (Suppose, for
example, the ballot-counting books are cooked in November and the
Democratic candidate once again has a victory stolen away. There could be
mass protests, perhaps even riots, in the streets. A potential "civic
emergency" right there.)

                    Mukasey's false testimony

Michael Mukasey, who promised he would be an independent attorney general,
has turned out to be just as much of a lackey for the administration as
his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales. Mukasey seems to feel, as Gonzales did,
that he doesn't work for the public but is there to ensure that his bosses
stay out of jail. (Interesting side note: Barack Obama says that, if
elected, he would ask his attorney general to investigate whether Bush and
Cheney might have committed indictable crimes while in office.)

But what really got Mukasey into hot water in recent days was his
assertion that the U.S. knew that a terrorist in Afghanistan was calling
someone inside the U.S. prior to the 9/11 attack but the supposedly
"outdated" FISA laws wouldn't permit the administration to tap that phone
call and thus prevent the 9/11 events from happening. Mukasey was using
that fallacious argument in 2008 as a scare tactic for why the Bush
administration needed congressional reauthorization immediately of the
NSA's domestic-spying program, complete with built-in amnesty for the big
telecom companies working in cahoots with the administration.

But Mukasey's explanation is total B.S.

As Glenn Greenwald and others have made clear, under then-existing FISA
law, the Bush administration could have eavesdropped on the pre-9/11 call
and didn't really need any more draconian spying programs. (Mukasey has
since tried to tap dance away from having misled Congress.)

The whole object of the Bush administration, in this and every other
matter, has been to amass total control of information and intelligence in
the White House, cutting out the courts (in this case, specifically the
FISA Court) and Congress. They want full freedom to operate outside the
law, with nobody - no judges, no legislators, no reporters - looking
over their shoulders at what they might be up to, and telling them what
they can or cannot do. It's possible that at least one aim of the domestic
spying programs is to learn from secret phone-taps and emails what their
political enemies are thinking.

                   Things on and off the table

Okay, so Cheney, Bush, Rice, Mukasey, Addington (and no doubt others not
quite as prominent) are dirty; involved in activities beyond and outside
the law. In other words, they have engaged, and are still engaged, in high
crimes and misdemeanors. What's to be done?

There's more than enough documented evidence to justify, at the very
least, an impeachment hearing in the House. Potentially, if the committee
voted to go forward, there could well be enough support to convict in the
Senate from both Democrats and Republicans worried about their electoral
chances in 2008.

But nothing can happen unless or until the majority Democratic leaders in
both the House and Senate make the collective decision to begin the
impeachment process with hearings in the House Judiciary Committee.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers are sticking to their guns that
impeachment is "off the table."

                 Their reasons for avoiding action

Let's examine the main reasons why the congressional Democratic leaders
refuse to budge from this policy, and how they might be made to change
their minds. Their arguments appear to rest on four basic premises:

1. Breaking the impeachment cycle. The Democrats moved to impeach
Republican President Richard Nixon (who resigned before articles of
impeachment were adopted), then the Republicans impeached Democratic
President Bill Clinton and tried him in the Senate (not for treason or
malfeasance in office but for lying about a sexual dalliance. He was
acquitted). Putting Cheney and Bush on trial in the Senate, according to
this reasoning, might be seen as tit-for-tat partisan vengeance.

In this argument, the impeachment option is being overused for political
reasons and risks becoming cyclical each time one party controls Congress
and the other controls the White House.

A Democrat may win the presidency in 2008. Unless the impeachment cycle is
broken now, this reasoning goes, a future Democratic president might
become the object of a vendetta by forces of the Republican right wing,
anxious for some payback.

2. Impeachment would hamper getting essential congressional business done.
The Democratic leadership says that preparing and conducting impeachment
hearings would use up all the political oxygen and energy in Congress,
making it virtually impossible to deal legislatively with important
matters.

The question is whether the Democrats are having any success right now
dealing with these important legislative matters. Looking at the situation
realistically, it's obvious that not much essential business is being
conducted, let alone completed.

The Republicans filibuster, or threaten to, at which point the Dems back
off their legislation; if a bill by the Democratic majority does manage to
sneak through, Bush either vetoes it or issues a "signing statement"
saying he won't obey the new law. Virtually all matters of import are
being postponed until after the new president is installed next January.

3. Why rock the boat? Why risk the opprobrium of Independent and
moderate-Republican voters in November, who might think the Democrats are
"piling on" for partisan, electoral reasons, and thus decide to vote for
the Republican nominee?

The Democratic leadership's argument goes: "Look, the Republicans are on
the ropes as a result of this incompetent, corrupt, greedy, war-mongering
administration. As a result, we're well positioned to enlarge our
electoral gains in the House and the Senate, maybe to the point of being
able to prevent obstructionist Republicans from filibustering needed
legislation. And we may well take back the White House. So why rock the
boat?

"Let's just last out CheneyBush's final months in office [the Dem argument
continues]. Since we know that this unpopular pair will continue to earn
the disdain and anger of the American public by continuing their extremist
ways until Inauguration Day in January. It's better they remain in office
rather than risk firing up GOP-base passions during the election campaign
by putting Bush and Cheney in the impeachment dock. Besides, if we
impeached them, the public's focus would fasten on Bush and Cheney rather
than on the Republican nominee and the dangers of a possible McCain
presidency."

In short, the American people, this reasoning goes, want to quickly move
away from thinking about the godawful CheneyBush administration of the
past eight years and head to a more optimistic, hopeful future.

4. The fear of being slimed. The Democrats don't want to be accused of
being "unpatriotic" by putting a "wartime" president into the impeachment
dock. Even though Bush is the most unpopular president in history, and
though more than three-quarters of American citizens think under his
leadership the country is "on the wrong track," the Democrats, anxious for
an election sweep in the House and Senate, remain terrified of Rovian-type
Swiftboating smears that could possibly cost them some votes in November
and in the 2010 midterm election.

Realizing that the Bushistas still control the mainstream, corporate-owned
media, and, thus, have all sorts of TV/radio/newspaper organizations that
could dump on them big time, the Democrats continue to roll over and make
nice to the shrinking but noisy Republican base and their TV/radio
pundits. In other words, the Dems are perennial wimps and haven't yet
figured out how best to confront the smash-mouth, take-no-prisoners
politics of Rove & Co.

I strongly disagree with these four rationales for inaction, but at least
I can understand where they're coming from. But the Democrats, especially
their leaders, are simply ignoring some essential arguments.

                 Rebuttal: Why not impeachment?

1. Nine months is a longnnnnnnnnnnnnng time. Between now and January 2009,
a full nine months from now, CheneyBush are capable of doing a hell of a
lot of further damage to the body politic, to the economy, to the
Constitution, to the reputation of the U.S. abroad, to the armed forces,
to the "enemy" countries in their crosshairs. The propaganda campaign
being catapulted against Iran, for example, is nearly a carbon copy of
what took place before the U.S. bombed, invaded and occupied Iraq. The
neocons in the administration, especially Cheney and Bush, are salivating
at the prospect of an enormous air assault on Iran's military
establishment and laboratories, have positioned attack forces near and
around Iran, and are ready to rumble. All they need is an acceptable
causus belli.

A cornered CheneyBush&Co. down in the bunker may decide what the hell, to
unleash the dogs of war again, even though their two previous unleashings
have been disasters. Iraq is a catastrophic quagmire of epic proportions,
and a somewhat ignored Afghanistan is heating up again with the Taliban
reasserting control of larger and larger portions of the country.

In addition, John McCain is making it clear that he will be continuing the
administration's foreign and domestic policies if he were to win in
November. He's said it would be fine for America to stay in Iraq for a
hundred years or more; he's indicated that he's quite amenable (maybe even
eager) to "bomb, bomb, bomb" Iran; he won't do much to help deal with the
consequences of global warming; he has little to offer in the way of
solutions for the financial mess the country is in - we're talking a
possible foreign policy-economic-environmental apocalypse here!

2. The danger of a green light. Impeachment is an important and necessary
step Americans can take to rein in an out-of-control administration that
is endangering the country's national security with its reckless, extreme
misadventures.

Taking the possibility of impeachment "off the table" is to fight the
CheneyBush administration with one hand tied behind the back. Bush&Co.
have demonstrated over the past eight years that they understand, and
respond to, only one thing: countervailing power that refuses to give in.
The ultimate effective weapon in the legislative branch's arsenal is the
fear of impeachment and conviction and removal from power, to be followed
either by "war crimes" charges internationally and felony and civil suits
inside the U.S.

Absent the possibility of impeachment, Cheney and Bush feel they have a
green light to do whatever they wish in the time remaining of their
tenure. Waxman and Leahy can try to humiliate and embarrass them in their
congressional one-day hearings, but they will face no real accountability
or punishment for their actions. So why not continue the corruption,
attack Iran, appoint more ideologues to the courts and into high
administrative positions, postpone any global warming solutions, etc.
etc.?

3. The precedent of respecting the law. Whenever leaders are not punished
for their unethical policies or criminal misdeeds, the rule of law
suffers. Impeachment is mentioned several times in the Constitution as the
legal and required remedy for extreme misrule. It's the last option for
citizens, through their legislators, to discipline errant leaders.

If the Congress does not impeach this president and vice president, who
have nearly taken the country down as a result of their reckless,
dangerous, incompetent, authoritarian behavior, then the rule of law
stands for nothing. And future elected leaders can legitimately believe
that they more or less can also get away with anything they wish to do.

Putting Cheney and Bush into the impeachment dock is to assert the primacy
of the rule of law under our system of governance, and would serve as a
clear warning shot across the bow of future presidents.

4. Force CheneyBush to play defense. There is one other advantage to
initiating impeachment hearings ASAP for Bush and Cheney. The Bush&Co.
juggernaut is most effective when on the offensive and their opponents are
put on the defensive. The Bushistas don't like, and don't do well, when
they're forced to play defense. Tying them up in defending themselves in
impeachment hearings and/or impeachment trials might well prevent them
from doing more mischief before they give up the reins of power. (Many
Republicans were convinced they would never convict Bill Clinton in the
Senate but figured the trial was worth doing anyway because it would
hog-tie Clinton's agenda for the rest of his presidency - and they were
correct.)

A final side-benefit  of impeaching Bush and Cheney: John McCain would
find himself on the campaign trail being forced to take positions on
torture and signing statements at the heart of the impeachment hearings,
and, more often than not, would wind up either defending those unpopular
policies or promising never to repeat them.

Will the Dems surprise us all?

Will the congressional Democratic leaders change their attitude toward
impeachment?

I think the answer is a clear No, unless their constituencies loudly and
unwaveringly tell them they have to or risk the consequences at the ballot
box, or in the possible establishment of a new, grassroots-engendered
party after the November election that will demonstrate the courage and
passion for ethical and reality-based government that is so lacking in
today's timid, Bush-enabling Democratic Party.

That, unfortunately, is where we are politically in the spring of 2008. It
doesn't have to be this way.

Copyright  2008 Bernard Weiner

Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught government & international relations at
various universities, worked as a writer/editor with the San Francisco
Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers. To comment, write
crisispapers [at] comcast.net.
Copyright  1998-2007 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor

==
LOCAL EVENT MAY 1
Impeach for Peace

May 1st Thursday 7pm at
Maplewood Public Library  (651-704-2033)
3025 Southlawn Drive
Maplewood, Minnesota
(Just west of Maplewood Mall;
south of County D (which is just south of 694);
north of Beam Ave)

The NorthEast Suburban Greens (NESG) present Jodin Morey co-founder of
Impeach for Peace. Jodin will dicuss the history and present status of
impeachment and the reasons it so critical in the United States today.
For further information --Mike 651 645-9506 Jodin 612 328-1451
impeachforpeace.org
==

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

Venezuela: Democracy, Socialism and Imperialism   pt 4 of 4
by James Petras / April 18th, 2008

                   The National Security Threats

The multi-country surveys reveal that most people in almost all countries
think the US is the biggest threat to world peace. This is especially the
case in Venezuela, a Caribbean country which has already been subject to a
US-backed and orchestrated coup attempt, a employers and executives
lockout of the vital petroleum industry, a US-financed recall-referendum,
an international campaign to block the sale of defensive weapons and spare
parts accompanied by a massive sustained military build-up of Colombia,
its surrogate in the region. The violent efforts of the US to overthrow
President Chavez have a long and ugly pedigree in the Caribbean and
Central America. Over the past half century the US has directly invaded or
attacked Guatemala, Panama, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Grenada,
Nicaragua and El Salvador; it organized death squads and counter
revolutionary surrogate armies in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and
Honduras, which murdered nearly 300,000 people.47

The US assault against Venezuela includes many of the strategies applied
in its previous murderous interventions. Like in Guatemala, it has bribed
and continues to bribe, cajole and subvert individuals in the Venezuelan
military and among National Guard officers. Their plan is to use
Venezuelan military officials to organize a coup, collaborate with
Colombian cross border infiltrators and to encourage defections to the
pro-US opposition. Like in Central America, US operatives have organized
death squad killers to infiltrate the Venezuelan countryside to attack
peasant movements pursuing land reform and to consolidate support among
big landowners.

Like in Nicaragua, the US is combining support for the systematic sabotage
of the economy by the business elite to foment discontent while financing
opposition electoral campaigns to exploit the unstable economic
circumstances. Like its economic blockade of Cuba, the US has organized a
de facto arms and parts embargo as well as an international "freeze" on
Venezuela's PDVSA overseas assets through international court processes
initiated by Exxon-Mobil. Colombia's cross-border bombing of Ecuador is as
much a "test" of Venezuela's preparedness as it is an overt aggression
against Ecuador's President Correa's nationalist government's cancellation
of the strategic US military base in Manta (Ecuador).

Venezuela had taken several measures to counter the US-Colombian-
Venezuelan Fifth Column threats to national security. Following the coup,
President Chavez ousted several hundred military officers involved in the
overthrow and promoted officers loyal to the constitution. Unfortunately
the new group included several pro-US and anti-leftist officers open to
CIA bribes, one of whom even became the Minister of Defense before he was
.retired. and became a virulent spokesperson against Chavez.
transformative referendum.48 Worse still, Chavez amnestied the military
and civilian coup makers and economic "lock-out" saboteurs after they had
served only a small fraction of their sentences - to the utter shock and
dismay of the mass of popular forces that shouldered the burden of their
violent coup and economic sabotage and who were not consulted.

Venezuela has purchased some light weapons (100,000 rifles and machine
guns) and a dozen submarines from Russia and helicopters from Brazil to
counter Colombia's $6 billion dollar light and heavy arms build-up.
Clearly that is a step forward, but it is still inadequate given the
massive arms deficit between the two countries. Venezuela needs to rapidly
build up its ground to air defenses, modernize its fighter jets and naval
fleet, upgrade its airborne battalions and vastly improve its ground
forces capacity to engage in jungle and ground fighting. Colombia's army,
after 45 years of counter-insurgency, has the training and experience
lacking in Venezuela. Venezuela has taken positive steps toward organizing
a mass popular militia - but the advances have a very mixed record, as
training and enlistment lag far below expectations for lack of political
organization and politico-military leadership.

While President Chavez has taken important steps to strengthen border
defenses, the same cannot be said about internal defenses. In particular,
several generals in the National Guard have been more aggressively
dislodging peasant land occupiers than in hunting down and arresting
landlord-financed gunmen who have murdered 200 peasant activists and land
reform beneficiaries. Extensive interviews with peasant leaders and
activists indicate active collaboration between high military officers and
right-wing cattle barons, calling into question the political loyalties of
rural based Guard garrisons.

There is an urgent need to accelerate the expropriation of big estates and
to arm and train peasant militias to counter-act Guard complicity or
negligence in the face of landlord-sponsored violence. There are thousands
of peasants ready and willing to enlist in militias because they have a
direct stake in defending their families, comrades and their land from the
ongoing paramilitary attacks.

Today the most immediate and enduring threat to internal security takes
the form of a blend between a mass of hardened Venezuelan criminal gangs
and narco-paramilitary infiltrators from Colombia, which are terrorizing
the populace in low income neighborhoods. Police investigations, arrests
and government prosecution are inadequate, incompetent, and corrupt and
occasionally point to complicity. To this day the infamous broad daylight
assassination of the respected Attorney General Danilo Anderson has not
been solved and the current Attorney General has essentially buried the
investigation and, even more importantly, buried the investigation into
the economic elite networks planning future coups that Anderson was
carrying out at the time of his murder.

Anderson was the chief investigator of the forces behind the April 2002
failed coup, the economic sabotage and a series of political
assassinations. Venezuelans close to the case state that Anderson had
compiled extensive documentation and testimony implicating top opposition
political, economic and media figures and some influential figures in the
Chavez administration. With his death, the investigations came to an end,
no new arrests were made and those already arrested were subsequently
granted amnesties. Some of Anderson's top suspects are now operating in
strategic sectors of the economy. There are two hypotheses: Either sheer
incompetence within the office of the new Attorney General, the Ministry
of Justice and related agencies of government has derailed the
investigation; or there is political complicity on the part of high
officials to prevent undermining the present socialization strategy. In
either case the weakness of law enforcement, especially with regard to a
dangerous capitalist class operating an extensive network supporting the
violent overthrow of the elected government, opens the door to a re-play
of another coup. Indeed the amnesty of the elite coup-makers and economic
saboteurs and the case of Danilo Anderson weighs heavily on the minds of
militant Venezuelans who see it as an example of the continued impunity of
the elite.

Factory and anti-crime "neighborhood watches" and defense militias are of
the utmost importance given the rising internal and external national
security threats and crime wave. With the greater cooperation of communal
councils, sweeps of local gangs is a top priority. Neighborhood police and
militia stations must saturate the poor neighborhoods. Large-scale
lighting must be established to make streets and sidewalks of the ranchos
safer. The war against drug traffic must delve into their bourgeois
collaborators, bankers and real estate operators who launder money and use
illegal funds to finance opposition activities. Petty and youth
delinquents should be sentenced to vocational training programs and
supervised rural and community service. Large-scale illegal financial
transactions must be prosecuted by the confiscation of bank accounts and
property. National and internal security is the sine quo non of
maintaining any political order dedicated to transforming the
socio-economic system.

On April 9, 2008 President Chavez took a major step toward reducing crime,
strengthening community-police relations and improving the security of the
people by passing a National Police Law through presidential law decree.
Under the new law, a new national revolutionary police of the people will
be established "demolishing the old repressive police model with
education, conscience, social organization and prevention". He contrasted
the past capitalist police who abused the poor with the new communal
police who will be close to the citizens and dialogue oriented. To that
end the newly formed communal councils will be encouraged to join and help
select a new type of police based on rigorous selection process and on
their willingness to live and work with the neighborhood. The PSUV and the
communal councils will become the backbone of creating the new political
solidarity with the newly trained police from the neighborhoods. Chavez'
recognition of the security issue in all its political and personal
dimensions and his pursuit of democratic and egalitarian approach
highlights his commitment to both maintaining law and order and advancing
the revolutionary process.49

   Conclusion: Advantages and Opportunities for Socialist Transformation

Venezuela today possesses the most advantageous economic, political and
social conditions for a socialist transformation in recent history despite
the US military threats, its administrative weaknesses and political
institutional limitations.

Economically, Venezuela's economy is booming at 9% growth, world prices
for exports are at record levels (with oil at over $100 a barrel), it has
immense energy reserves, $35 billion dollars in foreign exchange reserves
and it is diversifying its overseas markets, although much too slow for
its own security.6

With the introduction in April 2008 of an excess profit tax which will
take 50% of all revenues over $70 dollars a barrel and an additional 60%
of all revenues over $100 a barrel, several billion dollars in additional
income will swell the funds for financing the nationalization of all
strategic sectors of the economy.

Venezuela benefits from a multi-polar economic world eager to purchase and
invest in the country. Venezuela is in the best possible condition to
upgrade the petroleum industry and manufacture dozens of downstream
petrochemical products from plastics to fertilizers - if public investment
is efficiently and rationally planned and implemented. Venezuela has over
a million productive landless workers and small farmers ready and willing
to put the vast tracts of oligarch-owned under-utilized lands to work and
put Venezuela on the road to food self-sufficiency - if not an
agro-exporting country. Millions more hardworking Colombian
refugee-peasants are eager to work the land along side their Venezuelan
counterparts. There is no shortage of fertile land, farmers or investment
capital. What is needed is the political will to organize expropriations,
cultivation and distribution.

Politically, President Chavez provides dynamic leadership backed by
legislative and executive power, capable of mobilizing the vast majority
of the urban and rural poor, organized and unorganized workers and youth.
The majority of the military and the new academy graduates have (at least
up to now) backed the government's programs and resisted the bribes and
enticements of US agents. New Bolivarian-socialist military instructors
and curricula and the expulsion of US military "missions" will strengthen
the democratic link between the military and the popular government.

The intelligence and counter-intelligence services have detected some
subversive plots but remain the weakest link both in terms of information
collecting, direct action against US-Colombian infiltration, detecting new
coup plans and providing detailed documentation to expose US-Colombian
assassination teams. Clearly housecleaning of dubious and incompetent
elements in the intelligence agencies is in order. New training and
recruitment processes are proceeding, rather slowly and have to
demonstrate competence.

Socially, the Chavez government retains the support of over 65% of the
electorate and nearly 50% of the people were in favor of an overtly
socialist agenda in the referendum of December 2, 2007. If the communal
councils take off, and the militias gain substance and organization and if
the PSUV develops mass roots and the popular nationalization accelerates,
the government could consolidate its mass support into a formidable
organized force to secure a huge majority in a new referendum and to
counter the US-backed counter-revolution.

A lot will depend on the government's deepening and extending its
social-economic transformation - increasing new public housing from 40,000
to 100,000 a year; reducing the informal labor sector to single digits and
encouraging the trade unions to organize the 80% of the unorganized labor
force into class unions with the help of new labor legislation.

Given the availability of mass social support, given the high export
earnings, given the positive social changes, which have occurred, the
objective basis for the successful organization of a powerful
pro-socialist, pro-Chavez movement exists today.

The challenge is the subjective factor: The shortages of well trained
cadres, political education linked to local organizing, the elaboration of
a socialist political-ideological framework and the elimination of
personality-based liberal patronage officials in leading administrative
and party offices. Within the mass Chavista base, the struggle for a
socialist consciousness is the central challenge in Venezuela today.

notes

47. See Petras and Morley, Empire or Republic (NY Routledge 1995). #

48. General Baduel was always a virulent anti-communist who is said to
have received a seven-figure payoff and threats of exposure of unseemly
personal revelations if he didn.t .turn. against Chavez. #

49. James Suggett, .Venezuela Passes National Police Law.,
www.venezuelanalysis.com, April 11, 2008. #

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University,
New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser
to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of
Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest books are The Power of
Israel in the United States (Clarity Press, 2006) and Rulers and Ruled
(Bankers, Zionists and Militants (Clarity Press, 2007). He can be reached
at: jpetras [at] binghamton.edu. Read other articles by James, or visit James's
website.

This article was posted on Friday, April 18th, 2008 at 5:05 am and is
filed under Colombia, Culture, Democracy, Human Rights, Imperialism,
Labor, Socialism, South America, Venezuela. Send to a friend
==end==


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