|Progressive Calendar 04.24.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|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. 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