Progressive Calendar 06.08.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Sun, 8 Jun 2008 06:24:41 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    06.08.08

1. Atheists talk    6.08 9am
2. Media/election   6.08 1pm
3. Stillwater vigil 6.08 1pm
4. Outdoor bread    6.08 1pm
5. Jerusalem/film   6.08 4:30pm
6. Vets for peace   6.08 6pm

7. Race/food        6.09 6pm
8. Peace walk       6.09 6pm RiverFalls WI
9. Bike workshop    6.09 7pm
10. Liberia         6.09-14

11. Womens rights   6.10 12noon
xx. AARP/health     6.10 12noon [see item 13]
12. Open discussion 6.10 6:30pm

13. Kip Sullivan     - AARP/health care/little good little ugly lotta bad
14. Cynthia McKinney - On Israel: "Not in my name"
15. ILC              - Why we endorse sister Cynthia McKinney
16. Stephen Lendman  - Chavez/intelligence services/corporate media
17. Paul Street      - Systemic flaws: US political culture & elections

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

From: August Berkshire <augustberkshire [at]>
Subject: Atheists talk 6.08 9am

Minnesota Atheists' "Atheists Talk" radio show
Sunday, June 8, 2008, 9-10 a.m. Central Time

The first half hour will feature an interview with James Kakalios, author
of "The Physics of Superheroes."

The second half hour will feature August Berkshire discussing his essay
"The Problem of Evil: The Top 12 Excuses Religious People Give for the
Horrible Behavior of their God."

"Atheists Talk" airs live on AM 950 KTNF in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
To stream live, go to

Podcasts of past shows are available at or
through iTunes.  Program Notes are available at: .

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

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Media/election 6.08 1pm

Our friends at the Media Consortium are putting on an event in the
Minneapolis area that we thought you should know about.  Amy Goodman,
Laura Flanders, and John Nichols will all be there.

FREE OF CHARGE and open to the public. SEATING IS LIMITED so please arrive
early -doors open at 1pm. [Free for all brings on a free for all - ed]

Live From Main Street Minneapolis is the first in a series of televised
town hall events designed to shake-up boring horse race election coverage
and highlight what's at stake this election season. The event is Sunday
June 8 at 2pm and is totally free.  If you can't make it, the event will
also be broadcast on LinkTV and Free Speech TV that evening

To RSVP click here:
More details at

Getting Heard this Election Season: What Stands Between the Public and a
True Story?
Hosted by Laura Flanders, author of Blue Grit and host of Free Speech
TV's Grit TV and KFAI and Insight News's Al McFarlane.

Amy Goodman, Host of Democracy Now!
John Nichols, Washington Correspondent for The Nation
Malkia Cyril, Director of The Center for Media Justice
Coleen Rowley, FBI Whistle Blower and 2006 Congressional Candidate
Joel Kramer, Founder of The MinnPost
Paul Schmelzer, Managing Editor of Minnesota Independent  (formerly the
Minnesota Monitor)
Marlina Gonzalez, Program Director of the Unconvention and Intermedia Arts
And more of your Twin City favorites!

The first 150 guests to arrive will receive a free copy of Amy Goodman's
Standing Up To the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times
courtesy of Progressive Book Club

Sunday June 8, 2pm (doors open at 1pm)
The Woman's Club of Minneapolis
410 Oak Grove Street, Downtown Minneapolis
FREE OF CHARGE and open to the public. Seating is limited so please
arrive early -doors open at 1pm.

RSVP for preferred seating here:

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

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 6.08D 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

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

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Outdoor bread 6.08 1pm

June 8: Women's Environmental Institute. Fundraiser for WEI's Outdoor
Bread Oven. 1:00 - 4:00 PM. Learn more about how to build an outdoor
bread oven and to discuss recent books, such as Artisan Bread in Five
Minutes a Day and The Bread Builders. Enjoy fresh oven fired pizza and
taste the bread. At the home of Marty and Darrold Glanville, 35624 Grand
Ave., North Branch.

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

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Jerusalem/film 6.08 4:30pm

Sunday, 6/8, 4:30 pm, documentary "Footsteps: A Journey in Faith," about a
dozen Twin Cities clerics on their journey early last year to Jerusalem,
looking for conflict resolution, Oak St Cincma, 309 Oak St SE, Mpls.

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

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Vets for peace 6.08 6pm

Sunday, 6/8, 6 to 8:30 pm, Veterans for Peace chapter 27 meets, St
Stephens Church, 2123 Clinton Ave S, Mpls.  (Ring bell on north door.)
John Varone 952-2665.

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

From: Katie Zerwas <katie.zerwas [at]>
Subject: Race/food 6.09 6pm

Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power and a leader in community development and
urban agriculture, will be giving a presentation on race issues in the
food system at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis on Monday, June 9
from 6-8pm.  His presentation marks the first in a series of lectures and
discussions of sustainable agriculture as part of the Organic Farm School
series sponsored by the Women's Environmental Institute.  A suggested
donation of $20 is welcomed.  For more info, contact Katie at 651.583.0705
or go to

The Loft Literary Center
1011 Washington Ave S # 200
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Katie Zerwas North Circle Project Coordinator Women's Environmental
Institute P. O. Box 128, North Branch, MN 55056 651-583-0705

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

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 6.09 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022

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

From: Do It Green! Minnesota <Do_It_Green_Minnesota [at]>
Subject: Bike workshop 6.09 7pm

Fix-A-Flat  - Hands-on bike Workshop,
Mon, June 9th 7-9pm
Hub Bike Co-op (3020 Minnehaha Ave. S., Mpls)

Haven't had time to get out on your bicycle much yet? Here's your chance!
There will be a casual women's group ride starting at the Hub's South
Minneapolis location (3020 Minnehaha Avenue South). All skill levels and
types of bikes are welcome - no one will be left behind. All participants
are required to wear a helmet. Make sure to stick around for the hands-on
fix-a-flat workshop afterwards.
7-8pm Women's ride / 8-9pm Fix-A-Flax Workshop

A suggested donation of $5 can be made online or at each workshop. Do It
Green! Minnesota is a volunteer-run nonprofit organization, so we greatly
appreciate your support!

Sign up online, email ami [at] or call 612-345-7973 to reserve
your spot at the workshops!

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

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Liberia 6.09-14

6/9 to 6/14, Truth and Reconciliation hearings held for the Liberian
diaspora in Minnesota, Hamline University in St Paul.  Details at

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

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Womens rights 6.10 12noon

June 10: Women's Human Rights Programs at Advocates for Human Rights and
Briggs & Morgan. 2008 Women's Human Rights Speaker Series feature Suzanne
Koepplinger, Executive Director, Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center
on Trafficking of Native American Women and Girls. Noon-1 PM. Briggs &
Morgan, Minnesota Room, 2200 IDS Tower, 80 South 8th Street, Minneapolis.
Free and open to the public. Registration required. Please RSVP by June 6
to 612/341-3302, ext. 107.

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

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Open discussion 6.10 6:30pm

It's time for one of the Open Discussions at the salon.  Bring your own
topic and lets see if that can be discussed. [My topic: ineffability]

Pax Salons ( )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.

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

AARP on new MN health care law -
- the little good the little ugly the lot of bad
Kip Sullivan
email to David Shove

 [From: AARP Minnesota <aarpmn [at]>:
  You're Invited!
  Minnesota Innovations:
  Moving the National Debate on Health Care Reform Forward
  June 10th - 11am-12:30pm
  Mayo Memorial Auditorium
  University of Minnesota 425 Delaware Street SE Minneapolis, MN 55455
  see complete AARP post at bottom -ds]

AARP calls itself a "membership organization," but it is far more accurate
to think of AARP as a health insurance company. AARP has taken some good
positions on issues unrelated to health (such as opposing the
privatization of Social Security), but its positions on health care reform
have been awful for decades. Example: AARP endorsed George Bush's
privatized drug program for Medicare, known as Medicare Part D, in 2003.
It is reasonable to infer that AARP's positions on health care reform are
awful because AARP derives so much of its income from the sale of health

The new law that will be the subject of this forum at the U on June 10 is
not a "model" of anything. The law (which Governor Pawlenty signed on May
29) is a mix of a little good, a little ugly, and a lot of bad. The good
provisions in the law funded some public health programs to reduce smoking
and obesity. The ugly provisions will reduce the number of uninsured in
Minnesota by 7,000 to 12,000 (out of a total uninsured in this state of
400,000 to 500,000). The bad provisions reinforce the mythology that "the
health care market" can be made to work if only "consumers" became better
"shoppers." In the remainer of this email I'll discuss the ugly and the
bad provisions.

                               The ugly

According to the Minnesota Medical Association's analysis, seven thousand
more Minnesotans will be eligible for MinnesotaCare (mainly because the
income eligibility limit for adults without kids was raised), and another
5,000 will allegedly be able to buy health insurance because of tax
incentives. This would be an undiluted good thing but for the fact that
all these newly insured will be getting their insurance from the bloated
health insurance industry.

In the case of the 7,000 people newly eligible for MinnesotaCare, they
will get their insurance from an insurance company because MinnesotaCare
was privatized in 1996. In other words, instead of the Department of Human
Services (DHS) just directly reimbursing docs and hospitals who treat
low-income people eligible for MinnesotaCare, DHS has had to funnel tax
dollars to Blue Cross, HealthPartners et al. since 1996, and these
insurance companies in turn have funneled tax dollars to docs and
hospitals after scraping 20 percent off the top. (The privatization of
MinnesotaCare means, moreover, that MinnesotaCare enrollees must choose a
health insurance company when they join MinnesotaCare and put up with the
limitations on choice of doctor and hospital, and interference in the
doc-patient relationship, that most health insurers inflict these days.)
Of course, the 5,000 Minnesotans who will allegedly be able to buy health
insurance with tax incentives will also be getting their insurance from an
insurance company.

                              The bad

The bad stuff in the new law are provisions which attempt to solve the
health care crisis by making "the market" work better. Gov. Pawlenty and
the Republicans loved these provisions, as did the DFL leadership
(including Sen. Linda Berglin of Mpls, and Reps. Tom Huntley of Duluth and
Paul Thissen of Mpls-Richfield). A large minority of DFL legislators
strongly opposed these provisions, however. To give you some idea of how
intense the opposition was within the DFL caucuses in both houses,
consider this: The "market reforms" came within one vote of being deleted
from the bill during the debate on the Senate floor. During that debate,
Sen. John Marty (Roseville) offered an amendment to the bill that would
have removed the "make the market work" provisions. His amendment lost by
one vote.

The bad "tweak the market" provisions I'm talking about are those that
require all clinics, hospitals and other providers to be subjected to
report cards on the cost and quality of their services, and some truly
bizarre provisions which introduce a crazy concept known as "baskets of
care." I'll explain each of these provisions briefly.

The report cards will allegedly grade not only quality but cost. These
report cards will be done by the Commissioner of Health and will be
released annually starting September 1, 2010. For disciples of market
theology, the argument that report cards can help solve the health care
crisis goes like this:

    * The health care "market" is not working because "consumers" can't
distinguish the quality and price of health care services;
    * if we give "consumers" report cards on quality and price, "consumers"
will "shop" for diabetes care, gall bladder surgery etc. based on quality
and price, and
    * this will drive quality up and price down as the "bad" providers
either exit the "market" or learn how to provide better-quality services for
lower prices.

(Note how this argument neatly distracts attention from the real causes of
the health care crisis, namely: the enormous administrative costs
generated by the insurance industry; redundant purchases of useful
equipment and facilities by hospitals and some clinics; excessively high
fees charged by specialists; excessively high prices for drugs charged by
drug companies;  and fraud committed by a relatively small number of
providers and some insurance companies.)

There are numerous problems with the report card fantasy. I'll focus on
just one here: The problem of comparing apples to apples. Patients vary by
health status, income, insurance status, literacy and other important
factors that can influence report-card measures that are beyond the
control of health care providers. If the differences in these factors are
not controlled for, report cards will punish providers who treat sicker,
poorer, less insured, and less literate patients. Report cards will do
this by making these providers look higher-priced and more incompetent
than they really are and, conversely, they will make providers who treat
the healthy, wealthy, well-insured etc. look better than they are. This in
turn will cause providers to start avoiding sicker, poorer etc. patients
and it may, in the not-too-long-term, drive providers out of poorer parts
of the state.  Research has already demonstrated the reality of the
avoid-the-sick problem in several states that have been experimenting with
report cards.

George Bush's screwball No Child Left Behind report cards on schools
illustrate this problem. The NCLB school report cards punish teachers and
schools for problems that are beyond the control of teachers and schools,
for example, crowded classrooms and disproportionate numbers of kids
coming to school hungry. In theory, one could adjust the "grades" on
schools to reflect differences in these and other factors outside of
school control.  But that would add considerably to the already high cost
of administering all the tests and preparing report cards, and is not

Advocates of the new Minnesota health care "reform" law claim its report
cards will in fact make apples-to-apples comparisons because they will be
adjusted to reflect differences in patient health. The law says the
commissioner of health must adjust grades to reflect "differences in the
demographics and health status [of] patient populations, using generally
accepted and transparent risk adjustment methodologies." "Risk adjustment"
refers to the complex process of adjusting grades on health care providers
up or down to reflect differences in factors outside provider control, the
most important of which is patient health status at the time of
presentation to the clinic or hospital.

This risk-adjustment requirement in the new law is good and bad news.
It's good news because it gives all of us who care about the damage report
cards can do to sicker and poorer patients (and the providers who care for
them) leverage to demand that report cards not be released if they aren't
accurately risk-adjusted. It's bad news because accurate risk adjustment
is probably not possible, and certainly not feasible, for the vast
majority of the 10,000 treatments one can get in the Western world these
days, and, accurate or not, risk adjustment is going to be very expensive
and violate the hell out of patient privacy.

To adjust grades based on patient health, the Department of Health is
going to need, obviously, oceans of data on the health of the 5 million
people who live in this state, broken down by the 17,000 doctors who
practice here, the 131 hospitals that exist here, etc. Collecting these
data, transferring them to the Department of Health, and crunching the
data to make appropriate risk adjustments is going to be very expensive.
How expensive you ask? Don't ask. The Legislature hasn't got a clue. At no
point in the entire process of developing and enacting these crazy report
card provisions did the Legislature take any testimony on the cost of No
Patient Left Behind report cards in general or the risk-adjustment
requirement in particular.

One other problem report cards cause is the "teaching to the test"
problem, that is, the problem of teachers shifting time and resources away
from subjects that won't be tested to those that will, and doctors
shifting time and resources away from patients whose care is not being
measured to those whose services are being measured.

To sum up, the No Patient Left Behind report card provisions in the new
law are going to be very costly to enforce in terms of dollars and patient
privacy, the "grades" for most services will be inaccurate, and some
patients will be made worse off. These include sicker and poorer patients,
and patients whose care is not being measured.

The other objectionable result of the new health care "reform" law is that
it instructs the Department of Human Services to develop "baskets of
care." These "baskets" will include all the services that are ordinarily
given to particular types of patients, e.g., cancer patients, diabetes
patients, etc. Once these definitions of "baskets" are available, clinics
and hospitals will then be free to estimate how much they would charge to
provide these "baskets" and post the sum total of all charges on a Web
site somewhere. Once they post their price for a given "basket," they
can't alter that price. "Consumers" can then "shop" using these "basket"

I wouldn't have a problem with a law that required providers to post the
fees they charge for individual services, for example, the cost of
examining a diabetic's foot to look for sores that are often a sign of
poor circulation and possibly infection, or the cost per day of
hospitalizing a suicidal patient. But I do have a problem with a law that
requires a clinic to guess what services its diabetic or depressed
patients will need in the coming year or decade (the law doesn't say what
period of time "baskets" are supposed to cover) because it puts pressure
on providers to avoid sicker patients and, if they can't keep them away,
to deny them necessary services, and if they can't do either of the above,
go bankrupt or move out of poorer areas of the state. How are clinics
supposed to know whether any or all of their diabetic patients in some
future time period are going to need surgery for a foot that developed
gangrene? How are providers supposed to know how long a depressed patient
they have never met might remain suicidal? If they guess that none or a
very low percent of their diabetics will need surgery and that none or a
very low percent of their depressed patients will need hospitalization,
and they guess wrong and their "basket" price turns out to be too low,
what then? Do they not amputate? Do they not hospitalize? Do they quietly
push sicker diabetics out of their practices? Do they leave the profession
for a more promising job, such as running a large insurance company?

Fortunately, the new law does not make the "basket pricing" provisions
mandatory. Providers get to choose whether to participate in this crazy
experiment. But you can be sure making this crazy provision mandatory is a
high priority for the legislators who pushed it this year.

The new law also sets up an experiment in something called "medical
homes." It is also a largely meaningless concept, but unlike the report
card and "basket pricing" fantasies in the new law, it won't do much harm
or much good.

AARP is flat wrong to imply that the report card, "basket pricing," and
"medical home" provisions are solutions to the health care crisis that
should be copied at the national level. They are at best distractions, and
at worst will aggravate the health care crisis. The June 10 forum at the U
will also, at best, be a distraction.



From: AARP Minnesota <aarpmn [at]>
You're Invited!
Minnesota Innovations:
Moving the National Debate on Health Care Reform Forward
June 10th - 11am-12:30pm
Mayo Memorial Auditorium
University of Minnesota 425 Delaware Street SE Minneapolis, MN 55455

Some of the best ideas come from Minnesota, especially when it comes to
health care. We are home to a major center of health care research at the
University of Minnesota and the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. Many
Minnesota's leaders - past and present - have been willing to put politics
aside and support important health care initiatives. It's why our
uninsurance rate is so low and our health status is so high. We have a lot
to be proud of in the Land of the Lakes. And yet there is still more to be

To participate in a dialogue about how our successful reforms and unmet
challenges can inform the national debate on health care, please join us
for Minnesota Innovations: Moving the National Debate on Health Care
Reform Forward.

The program will feature panels of local and national experts - responding
to prerecorded questions from ordinary Minnesotans and direct questions
from moderator Cathy Wurzer. The forum will also be broadcast on Twin
Cities Public Television and made available as a delayed Webcast.

AARP is coordinating the event as part of its national Divided We Fail
initiative to raise awareness around the country of the issues of health
and financial security and to ensure that these are top priorities for
candidates and elected officials.

Find out how the reforms recently passed by the Minnesota State
Legislature can help move Minnesota toward a model for national reform.
Learn more about how national experts view Minnesota's experience. Ask
questions and lend your opinions about the work we have left to do to make
sure that our families are covered, our vulnerable are safe and our
children are healthy.

For questions about the forum, email aarpmn [at] For more information
about divided we fail, visit

This e-mail is being sent by the AARP Minnesota State Office, 30 East 7th
Street, 1200, St. Paul, MN 55101. Visit us at

[Thanks to Kip for unmasking this event and MN health re[de]form. -ed]

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

Cynthia McKinney on Israel: "Not in my name"
Published Jun 1, 2008 9:27 PM

On May 16, Cynthia McKinney, former congresswoman from Georgia, who is
vying for the presidential nomination on the Green Party ticket, spoke at
a rally in opposition to the 60th anniversary of the founding of the
pro-Zionist state of Israel, deemed Al Nakba (The Disaster) by the
Palestinian people. The following are remarks made by McKinney at the
rally outside of the United Nations.

On my birthday last year, I declared my independence from a national
leadership that, through its votes in support of the war machine, is now
complicit in war crimes, torture, crimes against humanity and crimes
against the peace.

I declared my independence from every bomb dropped, every veteran maimed
and every child killed.

I noted that the Democratic leadership in Congress had failed to restore
this country to constitutional rule by repealing the Patriot Acts, the
Secret Evidence Act and the Military Commissions Act.

That it had aided and abetted illegal spying against the American people.
And that it took impeachment off the table.

In addition, the Democratic congressional leadership failed to promote the
economic integrity of this country by not repealing the Bush tax cuts.
They failed to institute a livable wage, Medicare-for-all health care, and
gave even more money to the Pentagon as it misuses our hard-earned

We can add to that list, too, an abject failure to stand up for human
rights and dignity.

If the Democratic and Republican leadership won't respect the right of
return for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors, how can we expect them
to champion the right of return for Palestinians?

If this country's leadership tolerates the wanton murder of unarmed Black
and Latino men by law enforcement officials "extra-judicial killings" how
can we expect them to stop or even speak out against targeted
assassinations in the Middle East?

If the Democratic and Republican leadership accept ethnic cleansing in
this country by way of gentrification and predatory lending, why should we
expect them to put an end to it in Palestine?

If the leadership of this country impedes self-determination for Native
peoples in this country, why should we expect them to support Indigenous
rights for anyone abroad?

And sadly, the sensationalist corporate media would rather trick us into
thinking that reporting on a pastor, a former vice presidential nominee
and a former cable TV magnate constitutes this country's much-needed
discussion of its own apartheid past and present, so why should we expect
an honest discussion of apartheid and Zionism?

I hope by now it is clear. Our values will never be reflected in public
policy as long as our political parties and our country remain hijacked.

Hijacked by false patriots who usurp the applause of the people and all
the while betray our values.

I've decided that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will operate
any longer as business as usual - not in my name.

That Democrats and Republicans will use my tax dollars and betray my
values, not one day longer - not in my name; that neither the Democrats
nor the Republicans have earned my most precious political asset - my

And that now is the time to do some things I've never done before in order
to have some things I've never had before.

And so here today, I declare my independence from weapons transfers,
including Apache helicopters; F16s; sidewinder, hellfire and Stinger

I declare my independence from occupation, demolished homes, political
prisoners and babies dying at checkpoints.

I declare my independence from U.N. vetoes, expropriated land, stolen
resources and the installation of puppet regimes.

I declare my independence from all forms of dehumanization and I am not
afraid to speak truth to power.

And I am happy to join with peace-loving people around the world who know
that there can be no peace without justice.

Let us never tire in our work for justice. Thank you.

Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and
distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without
royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: ww [at]
Subscribe wwnews-subscribe [at]
Support independent news

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

from ILC:Why We Endorse Sister Cynthia McKinney:
Comments from some of the initial endorsers of the Open Letter to Black

[please note that you can still endorse the Open Letter to Our Politically
Conscious Sisters and Brothers of Black America in Support of Sister
Cynthia McKinney. To view the Open Letter, go to  -- In struggle and solidarity,* Colia L.


I would be be honored to appear among the signatories to the Open Letter.
During this period of general African American political collapse, Cynthia
McKinney fearlessly upholds the progressive historical Black Political
Consensus on peace and social justice.

*Glen Ford*
Executive Editor


As surviving members of the Black Left, we must hear the voice and raise
our heads beyond those feet that would annihilate us if we fail to
remember who we are. We have a worthy and a formidable tradition behind
us, and, though few now, we must pick up the torch and carry it forward.
"Important tasks" have begun with just a handful of people. We have an
important task too, and we are fortunate to have someone standing in the
tradition of Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Shirley Chisholm, and Assata
Shakur.  We have our Cynthia McKinney.

It's imperative that we recognize that this historical moment could very
well be our last.  Left to the forces of an imperialist regime, it could
be! If you haven't read, please do read Larry Pinkney's "Cynthia McKinney:
That Audacious Black Woman Standing for the People" in the Black
Commentator, May 22, 2008.  I will add this - our loyalty is to the
struggle and to stand with those leaders like McKinney who honors the
right to fight for human rights above the right of corporations to drain
humanity of life.

For McKinney and us, our loyalty is to the Movement and not an election
campaign by and for the "Joshua generation" against the so-called
"Wright generation," so-called because it's corporate media's image
depicting paradise in white mainstream but "militancy" in dark corners.
We are the opposition against militarism and corporatization, standing
theoretically beside McKinney. Let's make it a real! When you stand up,
you will do so with the understanding that our war heroes never die for
us as long as we are imbued with their spirit of resistance.

*Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD.*
Editorial Board member and columnist,
The Black Commentator


Cynthia McKinney is the ONLY person who is speaking the truth about the
fiction which the Project for The New American Century has put out, in
their campaign to turn us into a replica of the Third Reich. Cynthia's
message is our only hope, let's get it out to ALL the people, otherwise we
have lost everything we once held dear.

*Leona Heitsch*
Bourbon, Missouri


Booker T. Obama is not the answer for us. The way he is worshiped is like
an insanity has taken over. I was reading the transcript of his speech on
Reverend Wright, he not only threw him under the bus, he threw us all
under the bus. I do have one problem with Reverend Wright, I don't
understand why he called Bill Clinton an "/Intelligent Friend"/. In my
opinion with friends like B.C. who needs enemies, otherwise I agree with
everything he said. I listen to Obama and I can't understand what our
people don't hear.

But I'm glad there are people like a Dr. L. Jean Daniels, Margaret
Kimberly, Cynthia McKinney, Glen Ford, Larry Pinkney and others who are
"Keepin It Real" and kickin the knowledge.

*Robin Robinson*
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


I wholeheartedly endorse Cynthia's candidacy !!  She is a candidate who
unreservedly and fearlessly stands as a candidate for Peace with a series
of proposals that are consistent with a serious advocacy for principles
and proposals that advocate rather than posture for Peace !!

Cynthia is also the only candidate that has serious proposals that address
the people and the myriad of problems associated with the endemic poverty
that has always existed in this country !!  She is also one of the few
voices... (none of whom are politicians)...who have addressed the "shame"
of this country in turning its back on the poor of this country who are
mired still in the aftermath of the hurricanes in Florida and New Orleans

My endorsement of Cynthia McKinney comes not just from the consistency of
her policies to bring Peace abroad ... and a voice of compassion and
justice to those both black and white and red who have had their country
turn their backs on them, and literally "leave them behind !" But my
endorsement is unqualified also because I find "Sister Cynthia" to be a
person of unquestioned integrity !!!

*David P. Bremenstuhl*
retired Educator/Civil Rights and Peace Activist
(named "Laureate in Education" by International Biographical Centre @
University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)


I wholeheartedly, endorse and support the candidacy of Cynthia A. McKinney
for President of the United States of America.

*Patricia Hill*
Executive Director
African American Police League,
Chicago, Illinois


Sister Cynthia McKinney is one of a kind. Despite being betrayed on two
occasions by her democratic brethren she has not been distracted or
disheartened. Her courage in addressing sensitive national and world
problems is a reminder of how genuine she is compared to the conventional
candidates of both parties. Hopefully more Americans can be exposed to her
and her ideas.

*Wallace Nixon*
Mexico City


I wholeheartedly endorse your Open Letter, and have been doing my part to
raise awareness of Cynthia McKinney since she started her run for the
presidency. I agree that we desperately need her in the White House NOW.
We can't wait. Consider me signed on:

*Edward R. Mortimer*
Citizen Activist
Danielson, Connecticut


I am very proud to be working on the Cynthia McKinney campaign in
Minnesota; I would be honored to have my name added to the list.

*Amber Garlan*
Secretary of the St. Paul Green Party
Minnesotans for Cynthia McKinney


Sister Cynthia McKinney's integrity, intellect, and ability to inspire are
well honed and indeed pivotal in this struggle as we seek to build a
genuine people's movement.
Words cannot and do not adequately express the enormous respect and
revolutionary love that we have for her and all that she is doing. The
battle has presented itself to her, and she is not shirking it.

*Larry Pinkney*
Editorial Board member, columnist
The Black Commentator


I have been a serious contributor to Cynthia's campaign. I interviewed her
on WBAI during their women's history month programs, and the program was
quite a hit. I definitely want to sign onto your letter in support of
Cynthia McKinney and its principles.

*Betty Davis*
New Abolitionist Movement


We have no choice but to support Sister McKinney. We heard of her when we
lived in Detroit (where John Conyers was our Congressman), and when we
retired to Georgia, we knew we wanted a representative who was as good and
on the right side of the issues as Mr. Conyers. Hence, we intentionally
moved to Sister McKinney's district, and found that she was even more
dedicated, committed and hardworking than Mr. Conyers. Furthermore, she is
brilliant, and her knowledge of affairs, both foreign and domestic, is

*Philip and Elaine Smith*
Retired Civil Rights activists
Stone Mountain, GA

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

Chavez Revamps His Intelligence Services: The Corporate Media React
By Stephen Lendman
June 07, 2008

Reports keep surfacing about new threats against Hugo Chavez. Given past
ones, they can't be taken lightly. Chavez is alerted and reacts
accordingly. Case in point: revamping Venezuela's decades old intelligence
services. It's long overdue and urgently needed given the Bush
administration's tenure winding down and its determination in its
remaining months to end the Bolivarian project and crush its participatory

CIA, NED, IRI, USAID and other US elements infest the country and are more
active than ever. Subversion is their strategy, and it shows up
everywhere. Violence is being encouraged. Opposition groups are recruited
and funded. So are members of Venezuela's military. Student groups as well
and anti-Chavista candidates for November's mayoral and gubernatorial

The dominant media are on board in Venezuela and America. They assail
Chavez relentlessly and are on the warpath again after his May 28
announced intelligence services changes. The Interior and Justice
Ministries will oversee a new General Intelligence Office and
Counterintelligence Office in place of the current Directorate of
Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP). Similar military
intelligence and counterintelligence components will replace the Military
Intelligence Division (DIM) and will be under the Defense Ministry. Why
was it done and why now? To counter stepped up US espionage and
destabilization efforts when it's most needed.

New tools will be used and current personnel retrained and vetted for
their Bolivarian commitment. DISIP and DIM are outdated. They've been
around since 1969 to serve the "capitalist vision" of that era. Ever
since, they've been "notoriously repressive" and closely aligned with the
CIA. Therein lies the problem. Chavez intends to fix it. The dominant
media reacted. They're hostile to change and showed it their reports.

The New York Times' Simon Romero has trouble with his facts. He headlined
"Chavez Decree Tightens Hold on Intelligence." He referred to the new Law
on Intelligence and Counterintelligence that passed by presidential decree
under the legislatively-granted enabling law. He failed to explain that
the 1969 law passed the same way, and that Venezuela's Constitution then
and now permit it.

Instead, he noted a "fierce backlash here from (mostly unnamed) human
rights groups and 'legal scholars' who say the measures will force
citizens to inform on one another to avoid prison terms....The new law
requires (them) to....assist the agencies, secret police or community
activist groups loyal to Mr. Chavez. Refusal can result in prison terms of
two to four years (and up to) six years for government employees."

Once again, Romero falls short on credibility. Hyperbole substitutes for
truth as in all his reports. No country more respects human rights than
Venezuela, and Chavez is committed to them. To the rule of law as well and
social justice. The country's Constitution mandates it, and government
officials are bound by it. Appointed officials with other aims have no
place in it. They need to be exposed and replaced but need fear no
recrimination unless they violate the law.

The new one won't create "a society of informers" as one of Romero's
sources stated. Nor will it imprison Venezuelan citizens or let Chavez
"assert greater control over public institutions in the face of political
challenges following a 'stinging' defeat in December('s) constitutional
(referendum) that would have expanded his powers."

It will insure greater "national security" and protect against
"imperialist attacks" as Chavez explained. It's to preserve Bolivarianism
against persistent attempts to destroy it. It's to serve all Venezuelans,
advance a new 21st century vision, and put people ahead of privilege. It's
to counter Bush administration efforts to restore neoliberalism, return
the old order, and destroy social justice in the region's most model

Without explaining Venezuelan law or its legislative process, Romero
states that the "law (was drafted and passed) behind closed doors, without
exposing it to....public debate (and that) contributed to the public
uproar and suspicion." His "public," of course, are elitists. They target
Chavez for removal, denounce all his beneficial changes, and falsely
accuse him of governing dictatorially.

"They" claim "justice officials, including judges, are required to
actively collaborate with the intelligence services rather than serve as a
check on them." According to Americas director for Human Rights Watch
(HRW), Jose Miguel Vivanco: "This is a government that simply doesn't
believe in the separation of powers....(It requires) the country's judges
(to) serve as spies for the government." Vivanco knows better and damages
HRW's credibility with comments like these. Romero uses them with relish
to aid the imperial project.

Venezuela's internal threat is unmentioned. Rogue elements infest the
government and military. They oppose democracy and social justice.
Washington supports them. They must be found and removed. Venezuelans
demand it. Better intelligence will help. Romero won't report it. Instead,
he inverts truth and sides with forces trying to destabilize and undermine
a government of, by and for the people.

He quotes "a prominent legal scholar" (in fact, right wing lawyer Rocio
San Miguel) saying "This is the most scandalous effort to intimidate the
population in the 10 years this government has been in power. Under the
new law (information I have) could be considered a threat to national
security and I could be sent immediately to jail." Indeed she could if she
violates the law or tries to subvert the government. Otherwise, she's
entitled to all benefits and protections Venezuelan law affords everyone.
No comment from Romero.

AP echoed The New Times in its headlined May 31 report: "Venezuelan
intelligence law draws protests, seen as potential tool against dissent."
Again, it's false and misleading and part of the imperial plot against
Chavez. AP unfairly equates the new law to the USA Patriot Act, when, in
fact, it's totally dissimilar. The US law violates constitutional civil
liberties. Venezuela's respects them, but it's easy for protesters to
claim otherwise.

Justice Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin explained the difference. US law
spies on Americans and denies them legal protection. Venezuela's law
enlists responsible citizen participation in preserving their government.
They have a stake in "state security and resolving crimes. If (they)
witness (wrongdoing and) hide it, then (they) are an accomplice to that
crime." It doesn't require people to spy. It wants them to cooperate and
be engaged in preserving Bolivarianism and to report threats against it.
It's to make them responsible citizens united for their common

That's not how BBC sees it as part of its anti-Chavez agenda. Its June 3
online report highlighted: "Venezuela 'spy' law draws protest....among
groups who say it threatens civil liberties." One of them is HRW's Vivanco
again voicing the same false and misleading statements about "judges
serving as spies." Another source, with a clear anti-Chavez agenda, says
the "law may be used as a weapon to silence and intimidate the

In fact, Chavez champions free expression in all forms unlike in America
post-9/11. Repressive laws and presidential executive orders stifle it.
Activists are targeted, harassed and imprisoned. Illegal spying is
institutionalized. So are repression, torture and disdain for the rule of
law. Where are BBC, AP, The New York Times and other dominant media
voices? Why aren't they exposing police state justice? Instead they
denounce democracy, ally with despotism, and acknowledge no hint of

Chavez is mirror opposite his media critics and counters them correctly.
He calls the USA Patriot Act "dictatorial law." In contrast, the new
Venezuelan one upholds freedom, seeks to preserve it, and is within "a
framework of great respect for human rights." It will combat US subversion
that dominant media sources ignore. They blame victims instead and are
willing co-conspirators against Venezuela's model democracy. Their latest
efforts show why Chavez needs all the defense he can marshal against them,
and for all the right reasons.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
lendmanstephen [at] visit his blog site at

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

"Systemic Rather Than Superficial Flaws": Reflections on Candidate-Centered
Elections and U.S. Political Culture
By Paul Street
Jun 06, 2008

I put the best book of the last few years down for a moment and turned on
the television last night (I am writing on the morning of Wednesday, June
4th, 2008). It was Barack Obama, who has become something like Ronald
Reagan (whom the conservative Obama has praised again and again during
this presidential campaign) to me at this point. I personally find him
very hard to watch.

I know this will offend some readers - some ZNet folks are caught up in
the Obama phenomenon, I know, for some credible reasons - and to such
readers I apologize, but I can't lie.  I can take about three minutes of
him before I have to turn the television off or switch the station. I
could only stand two minutes of Reagan.

Sorry. Bear in mind, I live in Iowa, where we started getting hit by the
candidates in April of 2007.  I'm just as tired of Hillary Clinton and I'm
sure if John Edwards had somehow survived (impossible given his insistence
on talking about class inequality and on praising the labor movement), I'd
be nearly as sick of him as well by now.

It's getting very old to me. Sort of like Obama's language, which is often
remarkably unoriginal in ways few of his many youthful supporters would
have reason to know.

It's not his fault, completely.  It's what they have you do when you run
for president and he happens to be very good at recycling vacuous

He talks about "charting a new direction for the country" ---a rather
vapid phrase used in 1968 by Robert F. Kennedy, as John Pilger recently
pointed out (John Pilger, "From Kennedy to Obama: Liberalism's Last
Stand," ZNet Sustainer Commentary, June 1, 2008).

Here are some other Obama sayings and axioms he and his speechwriters have
recycled from past presidential candidates and their speechwriters and (at
the end) from one gubernatorial candidate:

* "politics is broken" (used by Bill Bradley in 1996 and George W. Bush in

* "you need a president who will tell you what you need to know, not what
you want to hear" (Geraldine Ferraro, 1984)

* "this is a defining moment in our history" (Elizabeth Dole, speaking for
Bob Dole in 1996)

* Washington as a place where politicians come to "score political points"
(Bill Clinton in 1992 and George W. Bush in 2000)

* "lifting this country up" instead of dragging or tearing it down (Bob
Dole, 1996)

* "we're going to take this country back" (Howard Dean, 2004)

* "we can disagree without being disagreeable" (Gerald Ford, 1976)

* "unity over division" (Jesse Jackson, 1992)

* "hope over fear" (Bill Clinton, 1992 and John Kerry, 2004)

* "choose the future over the past" (Al Gore, 1992)

* overcome our "moral deficit" (Bush and Gore in 2000 and New Gingrich,

* move "beyond the divisions of race and class" (Bill Clinton, 1992)

* "the story of our country" (Ross Perot, 1992)

* "the genius of our country" (Bush, 2000)

* "the wonder of our country" (George H.W. Bush, 1988)

* "ordinary people doing extraordinary things" (Perot, 1992; Bush I, 1992;
Bush II, 2000; Ronald Reagan, 1984)

* "Just words? Just words?" (Deval Patrick, 2006)

I'm sure there are many more examples.

The big corporate-crafted Hillary-Obama duel - now finally concluded -
would have seemed much more meaningful to me if it had been more focused
(maybe I should say if focused at all) on issues and policies that really
matter. To an amazing extent the big battle was a soap opera squabble over
who one likes or identifies with the most on the level of personality,
looks, body language, character and of course on the level of race,
ethnicity, and gender.

It wasn't about issues. It wasn't about substance. It wasn't about policy.
To a shocking extent, it was about the candidates themselves and their
images and perceived qualities. It's about who was rude to who. Who lied
and therefore can't be trusted. Who's wanted to president since they were
five years old. Who's tough and who isn't. Who has a strong sense of
themselves and who doesn't. Who has a good relationship with their spouse
and who doesn't. Who you'd like to have a beer or glass of wine with. Who
can control their temper and who can't. Who's bitter and who's balanced.
Who can control their facial muscles and who can't. Who's cool and who's
square. Who's nerdy and who's hip. And so on.

It's not Obama's fault or Hillary's fault - not so much. Blame corporate
marketing and media, those essential forces shaping the nation's
quadrennial candidate-centered election spectacles.

Sometimes differences emerged that seemed a little more substantive but
really weren't.  In numerous little squabbles they had, a little
investigation showed that corporate candidate X did or said exactly what
they accused corporate candidate Y of doing or saying.

* Bill Clinton said Obama's antiwar history was a "fairy tale." It pretty
much was but so was Hillary's claim to be antiwar.

* Hillary said Obama was squishy and mealy mouthed and disingenuous on
NAFTA and globalization and trade. But so was/is she. They're actually
both strong neoliberal "free traders."

I could go on.

If you listened closely to the debates and studied their policy positions
and you connected their comments up with their broader behavior and
statements, it may have finally sunk in. Barack and Hillary were joined at
the moral and ideological hip.  They were/are two peas in a
moral-ideological and policy pod: conservative, tepid, centrist,
corporate-imperial DLC-style Democrats with little if any substantial
ideological and policy difference between them.

I'm sorry if this offends some readers but let's be real here. As
president, both HC and BO would: 

* keep a large U.S. force structure in Iraq for the life of their
administrations, continuing the Holocaust we have imposed on that nation
in the name of freedom.

* support Israel against the Palestinian people and the Arab world pretty
much no matter what.

* sustain the bloody occupation of Afghanistan.

* talk about making certain small adjustments to NAFTA and CAFTA and the
WTO and so forth but leave the basic structure and practices of corporate
globalization fully intact.

* leave the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations in fundamental
control of the health system.

* make noises about supporting labor and environmental causes and ending
special interest domination but  respond mainly to the giant corporations
that have the most money and power to influence politicians and policy.

*  talk against racial injustice and poverty but fail to undertake
significant civil rights and social justice initiatives to tackle the
deeply entrenched structures and practices of white supremacy and class

* reject the counsel of Dr. Martin Luther King by refusing to go after the
gigantic and bloated so-called defense budget that sustains more than 720
overseas bases located in nearly country in the world and which accounts
for half of the world's military expenditures even while millions of
Americans live in what poverty researchers now call "deep poverty" - at
less than half the federal government's notoriously inadequate poverty

* leave the basic top-heavy wealth structure of the country intact, doing
relatively little or nothing about the fact that the top 1 percent owns 40
percent of the nation's wealth - a fact that makes real and substantive
popular democracy essentially impossible for reasons that Thomas Jefferson
and James Madison used to worry about.  

* line up with Columbia and the international business agenda against
Venezuela and independent left nationalism in Latin America.

* make aggressive noises and threatening moves toward Iran and its nuclear
program real or imagined but say and do nothing about the dangerous and
provocative nuclear arsenals of Israel and India.

* exploit the militarization of U.S. politics and use real and/or
imaginary dangers abroad to justify assaults on civil liberties at home.

So I turned off the victory speech.  I've already heard five or six of
them. I returned to the best book of the last few years, a study of what
its author Sheldon Wolin calls "the specter of inverted totalitarianism."
Under the corporate-crafted system and doctrine of what Wolin terms
"managed democracy,"  "the citizenry, supposedly the source of
governmental power and authority as well as a participant, has been
replaced by the 'electorate,' that is, by voters who acquire a political
life at election time. During the intervals between elections the
political existence of the citizenry is relegated to a shadow-citizenship
of virtual participation. Instead of participating in power, the virtual
citizen is invited to have 'opinions': measurable responses to questions
pre-designed to elicit them."

The corporate-managed "inverted totalitarianism" that passes for
"democracy" in post-9/11 America finds its "culminating moment," Wolin
finds, in "national elections when the attention of the nation is required
to make a choice of personalities rather than a choice between
alternatives." By Wolin's account, "what is absent is the political, the
commitment to finding where the common good lies amidst the welter of
well-financed, highly organized, single-minded interests rabidly seeking
governmental favors and overwhelming the practices of representative
government and public administration by a sea of cash."

The new corporate-totalitarian system, Wolin writes, would "survive even
if the Democrats were the majority in control of both the presidency and
the Congress," something that is indicated by "the timidity of current
Democratic proposals for reform."

The real and deeper problems are "systemic" in ways that incorporate and
go beyond partisan shift changes in elite office-holding.

It's not about who you support in these corporate-managed elections,
people. It's deeper than that, as Dr. Martin Luther King knew. 

Speaking of King and Obama's favorite word "hope" (also a big word for a
previous corporate triangulator named Bill Clinton, by the way), here
(below) is an interesting formulation from a 1968 King essay (published
after King's execution) titled "A Testament of Hope":

 "Millions of Americans are coming to see that we are fighting an immoral
war that costs nearly thirty billion dollars a year, that we are
perpetuating racism, that are tolerating almost forty million poor during
an overflowing material abundance. Yet they remain helpless to end the
war, to feed the hungry, to make brotherhood a reality...In these trying
circumstances, the black revolution is much more than a struggle for the
rights of Negroes. It is forcing America to face all its interrelated
flaws - racism, poverty, militarism and materialism. It is exposing evils
that are rooted deeply in the whole structure of our society. It reveals
systemic rather than superficial flaws and suggests that radical
reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced." [Martin
Luther King Jr., " A Testament of Hope" [1968], p. 315 in Martin Luther
King, Jr.,  A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of
Martin Luther King Jr.. edited by James M. Washington (San Francisco, CA:
HarperSanFrancisco, 1986)].

Haunting, yes?

So is the book I've been mentioning: Wolin's Democracy, Incorporated:
Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (Princeton,
NJ, 2008).

Veteran radical historian Paul Street (paulstreet99 [at] is the
author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11
(Boulder, CO: Paradigm), Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the
Post-Civil Rights Era (New York: Routledge, 2005); Racial Oppression in
the Global Metropolis (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).  Street's
next book is Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (forthcoming
in summer of 2008).


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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