Progressive Calendar 07.20.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Sun, 20 Jul 2008 05:12:52 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    07.20.08

1. Atheists/AM950   7.20 9am
2. Lake Superior    7.20 10am Duluth MN
3. Mpls Greens      7.20 12:30pm
4. Stillwater vigil 7.20 1pm
5. RNC/health care  7.20 1pm
6. Amnesty Intl     7.20 3pm
7. FightinBob/AM950 7.20  3pm
8. Theater v RNC    7.20 3pm
9. Chile/kids/book  7.20 6pm

10. Peace walk      7.21 6pm RiverFalls WI
11. Organic farm    7.21 6pm
12. RNC/Rovics      7.21 6:30/8:30pm
13. E-workshops     7.21 7pm

14. Ralph Nader       - D.C. socialists save crashing capitalists
15. Roger Cuthbertson - Trickle up
16. Stacy Mitchell    - Wal-Mart: low pices, but at what cost?
17. Lorna Salzman     - Compassionate capitalism: ecocide w/a smiley face
18. Moyers/Winship    - Fanny Mae & political graft

--------1 of 18--------

From: August Berkshire <augustberkshire [at]>
Subject: Atheists/AM950 7.20 9am

Minnesota Atheists' "Atheists Talk" radio show
Sunday, July 20, 2008, 9-10 a.m. Central Time

Erin Davies discusses her cross-country campaign against homophobia,
driving her "Fagbug" Volkswagon Beetle car. Also, Hector Avalos discusses
his book "The End of Biblical Studies."

"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 18--------

From: Nukewatch <nukewatch [at]>
Subject: Lake Superior 7.20 10am Duluth MN

DULUTH, Minn. --- A coalition of groups and Native American activists will
conduct a free public "Walk & Rally for the Lake," Sunday, July 20 to draw
attention to the nearly 1,500 barrels of hazardous military waste that
were dumped by the Army Corps of Engineers into Lake Superior near Duluth
in the late '50s and early '60s.

The free Lake Superior Day event is also a celebration of the success of
the Red Lake Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in being awarded a $603,000
grant to expand its investigation of the status of the aging barrels.

The 5-mile walk will move along London Road from Brighton Beach (63rd Ave.
E. & Congdon Blvd.), and end with a rally and music at Leif Erikson (11th
Ave. E. & London Road). In case of bad weather the rally will take place
at the (Quaker) Friends Meeting House, 1802 E. Superior St.

At 10:00 a.m. walkers will gather at Brighton Beach, just past Lester
River , and the walk will start at 11:00 a.m. It will finish at Leif
Erikson Park at about 1:30 p.m. with the rally and music beginning at 2:00

Speakers for the event include Rick Defoe of the Duluth American Indian
Commission, Jean Buffalo of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment
Committee, former Chairwoman of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior
Chippewa, Duluth City Councilor Sharla Gardner, and Wisconsin State
Representative Frank Boyle of Superior. Jan Conley of the Lake Superior
Greens will MC and the musical entertainers are Duluth's own
singer/songwriter Rachael Kilgour and internationally renowned folk singer
David Rovics.

The event's endorsers and sponsors include the Coalition for a
Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, Earth Protector, Don't Waste Michigan, Grannies
for Peace, Great Lakes United, Great Northern Solar, Lake Superior Greens,
Loaves & Fishes Catholic Worker, the Northern Futures Foundation,
Nukewatch, North American Water Office, Northland Anti-war Coalition,
Duluth's /Northland Reader/, Seeds of Peace, the Progressive Foundation
and Veterans for Peace Chapter 80. The Walk and Rally for the Lake are
part of the annual Lake Superior Day celebration promoted by the Lake
Superior Binational Forum. --30-

--------3 of 18--------

From: Eric Gilbertson <aleric [at]>
Subject: Mpls Greens 7.20 12:30pm

5cd Membership Meeting
Sunday, July 20th 2008
Park House - 2120 Park Ave
12:30 - 5:30

12:30 - 12:45 - Welcome and Introduction
12:45 - 2:00 - Structure and future of 5cd discussion (No bylaw changes
              this meeting)
2:00 - 2:45 - Discuss endorsing the Minneapolis school referendum
2:45 - 3:00 - Break
3:00 - 3:30 - 5cd Steering Committee elections - 4 seats
3:30 - 3:45 - Discuss upcoming events
3:45 - 4:15 - Elected officials report
4:15 - 5:30 - General discussion (Chicago convention recap, Local and
              National Races and Issues...)

--------4 of 18--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 7.20 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

--------5 of 18--------

From: Joel Albers <joel [at]>
Subject: RNC/health care 7.20 1pm

As you know, the 2008 Republican National Convention will be held at the
Excel convention Center in St Paul Sept 1 thru Sept 4th. Thousands of
people from all spectrum of life, from all over the U.S. will be
converging on a variety of points of unity to voice a broad spectrum of
concerns and outrage, and flood the streets with justice. Call it the
Not-on-the-guest-list-coalition, if you will. It will be for people to
take back Medicare for our seniors,take back S- CHIP for our kids, take
back the health care system itself, and our country too.

Resistance to the RNC is not just about human beings locking arms in
non-violent direct action at the main thoroughfares and the ten bridges
over the Mississippi leading to the Convention center, important as that
may be. It's really about creating space for social transformation,
networking, painting a picture about what's possible, and building the
alternative, which to us is a fundamentally just and humane health care
system, of the public, by the public; in mutual aid of one another.

The RNC Welcoming Committee ( has created a framework by
which people can express themselves creatively at whatever level and
whichever way they feel comfortable along points of unity of participatory
democracy. The RNC convention will be an opportunity for all health care
reform groups, and individuals to link, network, form a cluster of
affinity groups, and see how we can fit into the total picture.

Here are some ways health care reform advocates can "plug-in" to these

1. Next RNC Welcoming Committee meeting sunday,1:00pm to 4:00 pm
Powderhorn Park on 35th St. and 15th Ave. S. in Minneapolis. Gather at the
Rec Center. We can coordinate within this meeting and plan events
autonomously or within the larger picture.

Some of the events being coordinated (details TBA) include:
sept 1 block  the convention
sept 1 National Truth Commission on Health Care and Housing 6PM,
personal story testimonies.
sept 2 March for health care and housing
the North Star Health Collective is also inviting folks for training
as medics in basic first aid.

--------6 of 18--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 7.20 3pm


Join us for our regular meeting on Sunday, July 20th, from 3:00 to 5:00

We will spend some time discussing the new "Campaign, to Ban Torture,"
launched on June 26 (the UN International Day to support torture
survivors) by a partnership that includes the Center for Victims of

Subtitled "American Voices for American Values," the campaign includes a
bipartisan group of former Cabinet members, military and religious Leaders
who have called on President Bush to ban all forms of torture by all
members of the military, the CIA, private contractors or any other person
in the service of the government.

For the remainder of the meeting, we will share actions on human rights
cases around the world and get updates on the work of our sub-groups.

All are welcome, and refreshments will be provided.

Location: Center for Victims of Torture, 717 E. River Rd. SE, Minneapolis
(corner of E. River Rd. and Oak St.). Park on street or in the small lot
behind the center (the Center is a house set back on a large lawn).

A map and directions are available on-line:

--------7 of 18--------

From: James Mayer <jmayer [at]>
Subject: Fighting Bob/AM950 3pm

Of the People: This Sunday, July20th at 3 p.m. on AM 950--Air America
Minnesota's new name; call letters: ktnf--with Host James Mayer.

What we need are fighting progressives, the likes of "Fighting Bob La
Follette", Governor and Senator from Wisconsin in the early 1900's. La
Follette fought for democracy and economic fairness, believing that people
and ideas should govern instead of Big Money, trusts, and "robber barons".

Join me, James Mayer, and Ed Garvey, Director of Wisconsin's Fighting Bob
Fest as he shows us, calling on experience, what it means to take action
and fight for progressive principles.  He will tell about the Fighting Bob
Fest's purpose and key role in showing the way to action in the fight for
progressive principles. Join us:

Tune into Of the People this Sunday at 3 P.M. on AM 950, KTNF.

--------8 of 18--------

From: YAWR <against.war [at]>
Subject: Theater v RNC 7.20 3pm

Help Create Giant Puppet Theater to confront the Republican National

Sunday, July 20th, 3-9pm
Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association
821 E 35th St, Minneapolis
off Chicago Ave, in an old firehouse building, behind Pillsbury House)
The Project: A theatrical "March to Arrest the War Criminals" and Student

On September 4th, the final day of the Republican National Convention,
high school and college students across the Twin Cities are planning a
mass student strike organized by Youth Against War & Racism
<>, among others. Student strikers will gather
at Noon at the State Capitol, just blocks from the Xcel Center, for an
antiwar festival and a theatrical "March to Arrest the War Criminals."
Conceived as an interactive puppet theater play, in which the audience is
transformed into the actors, the afternoon will culminate in a mass mock
trail of the Republican "war criminals" on the west steps of the Minnesota
State Capitol.

The Training: A workshop with Chris Lutter of Puppet Farm Arts At the July
20th training we aim to bring together a team of volunteers, artists, and
actors to design, build, and produce the September 4th "March to Arrest
the War Criminals." The workshop will be led by Chris Lutter, Artistic
Director of Puppet Farm Arts, who has extensive experience facilitating
the process of collaborative art-making, from conceptualization through to
final presentation (Check out Chris's bio at: ). Following the July 20 training, we'll
schedule regular drop-in volunteer hours and, as September 4th approaches,
regular play rehearsals.

Please send us an RSVP if you can attend the July 20 training by emailing
tytymo [at] so we know how many folks to plan for.  Bring some food
to share if you can - if needed we'll order pizzas or something to ensure
all volunteers get fed!

Volunteers are encouraged to attend the entire six hour workshop, but if you
can only make part you are also welcome. If you want to volunteer but can't
come on July 20th, contact Ty at 612.760.1980 or tytymo [at] with your

This project is a collaboration of Puppet Farm Arts
<>and Youth Against War & Racism

--------9 of 18--------

From: david unowsky <david.unowsky [at]>
Subject: Chile/kids/book 7.20 6pm

Sunday July 20, 6pm at Magers and Quinn Booksellers
Steve Reifenberg reads from his new book Santiago's Children: What I
Learned About Life at an Orphanage in Chile

"It's hard to imagine someone who finds himself an outsider in one of the
tougher neighborhoods of Latin America or Africa or other 'foreign' parts
of the world - or someone interested in learning about one of those
places - who would not find this book immensely instructive and
moving." - Paul Farmer, from the foreword

"This book is a gem and offers a wonderful roadmap for students of any age
who are thinking about engaging in a complicated world. It should make its
way to every university career counseling office across the
country." - Abraham F. Lowenthal, Professor of International Relations,
University of Southern California

"Urgent and moving . . . The narrative fairly leaps from the pages when
the political struggle comes into view. . . . The tale is amazingly
hopeful, in spite of, or because of, the struggles in question. . . . This
is a story of Chile we will not forget." - Martín Espada, author of The
Republic of Poetry & other award-winning volumes of poetry

Unclear about his future career path, Steve Reifenberg found himself in
the early 1980s working at a small orphanage in a poor neighborhood in
Santiago, Chile, where a determined single woman was trying to create a
stable home for a dozen or so children who had been abandoned or abused.
With little more than good intentions and very limited Spanish, the
23-year-old Reifenberg plunged into the life of the Hogar Domingo Savio,
becoming a foster father to kids who stretched his capacities for
compassion and understanding in ways he never could have imagined back in
the United States.

In this beautifully written memoir, Reifenberg recalls his two years at
the Hogar Domingo Savio. His vivid descriptions create indelible portraits
of a dozen remarkable kids - mature-beyond-her-years Verónica; sullen,
unresponsive Marcelo; and irrepressible toddler Andrés, among them. As
Reifenberg learns more about the children's circumstances, he begins to
see the bigger picture of life in Chile at a crucial moment in its

The early 1980s were a time of economic crisis and political uprising
against the brutal military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Reifenberg
skillfully interweaves the story of the orphanage with the broader
national and international forces that dramatically impact the lives of
the kids. By the end of Santiago's Children, Reifenberg has told an
engrossing story not only of his own coming-of-age, but also of the
courage and resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable residents of
Latin America.

Steve Reifenberg lives in Santiago, Chile, where he is the Director of the
Regional Office of Harvard University's David Rockefeller Center for Latin
American Studies. He has worked on international education and
international conflict resolution for nearly two decades.

Magers & Quinn Booksellers - 3038 Hennepin Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN
55408 - 612-822-4611

--------10 of 18--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 7.21 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

--------11 of 18--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Organic farm 7.21 6pm

July 21: Women's Environmental Institute. Organic Farm School: The Urban
Livestock Movement with Jennifer Blecha, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, San
Francisco State University. 6 PM - 8 PM at Open Book, Minneapolis.

--------12 of 18--------

From: rnc08 [at]
Subject: RNC/Rovics 7.21 6:30/8:30pm

RNC Welcoming Committee Presents an Evening with David Rovics July 21:
Monday July 21 2 shows! July 21st 6:30 pm & 8:30 pm
6:30 is the raffle show.

David Rovics has been called the musical voice of the progressive movement
in the US. Amy Goodman has called him "the musical version of Democracy
Now!" Since the mid-90's Rovics has spent most of his time on the road,
playing hundreds of shows every year throughout North America, Europe,
Latin America, the Middle East and Japan.  David's Music has inspired and
emboldened many of us on the frontlines. Join us for an intimate evening
of music. The concert is a benefit for the RNC Welcoming Committee, an
anarchist/anti-authoritarian group based in the Twin Cities facilitating
protests and resistance to the 2008 Republican National Convention.

Tickets are $20-$30 sliding scale, and all pre-sold tickets are entered
into a raffle to win a private dinner and concert for the winner and 15
friends at Bedlam Theatre before the public show at 8:30.

He has loads of MP3's available for free download on his website,, along with CDs, links, etc. More importantly, he's
really good. He will make you laugh, he will make you cry, and he will
make the revolution irresistible.

Tickets available through our website - click the paypal button
and indicate David in the notes, Arise! Bookstore, Northern Sun, and
Bedlam Theatre box office.

The Bedlam's located at 1501 S. 6th St.  in the West Bank neighborhood of
Minneapolis, Minnesota.

--------13 of 18--------

From: Jonathan Barrentine <jonathan [at]>
Subject: E-workshops 7.21 7pm

Rondo workshops:
Mondays and Wednesdays from 7-8:30pm.
July 21 Podcasting
July 23 Building Your Own Website

Brian Coyle workshops:
Tuesdays from 10:30am to Noon.
July 22 Online Tools for You and Your Community

--------14 of 18--------

Another Bail Out for the Financial Elites
D.C. Socialists Save Crashing Capitalists
July 17, 2008

Here they go again! Financial capitalism is crashing. So the lights are on
late in Washington.s Federal Reserve, SEC and Treasury Department trying
to figure out how socialism (your tax dollars and credits) can once again
bail out these big time gamblers with our money.

Every cycle of casino capitalism that heads for, or goes over, the
bankruptcy cliffs gets larger and larger. This year.s collapse towers over
the bailout of the Savings and Loan banks in the 1980s.

This unfolding cycle of the Washington to Wall Street gravy train is not
based on a huge spike in interest rates that tanked so many thrift
institutions nearly twenty years ago. It is based on unbridled greed by
the bosses of these big commercial banks, investment banks, brokerage
giants and those two goliaths.Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

.Unbridled. because the financial institutions got themselves unregulated
during the reign of Bill Clinton and his Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.
Rubin skipped out of town to become a wildly overpaid official with
Citigroup.the leading lobbyist for his disastrous, so called Financial
Services Modernization Act of 1999.

Fannie and Freddie have been deeply unregulated for decades which allowed
their capital ratios to be lower.far lower.than even investment banks like
Morgan Stanley. With that long-time implicit guarantee by the federal
government, these two secondary marketers for home mortgages became more
and more reckless so as to raise the corporate profits that their top
executives need to skyrocket their personal compensation packages!

In 1991, lawyer Tom Stanton warned about the risks and non-regulation of
Fannie and Freddie in his prophetic book.A State of Risk (Harper

A decade ago, our banking specialists warned about the Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation (FDIC) under assessing its member banks thus leaving
its reserves at the risk of being perilously low when needed. Today, these
reserves are very much needed and perilously low.

Combined with the limitless greed, unbridled corporate power can wreak
havoc with our entire economy. As it is doing now. The domino effect is

So the Bush boys and the Congressional leaders, so to speak, are busy
reassuring the investors that they will in some way make things stable.
This time, however, they seem to be offering too little too late and the
investors aren.t buying.

The stocks of the banks keep plunging down anywhere from seventy to ninety
percent from their last year.s high.

The nation.s largest savings bank.Washington Mutual.closed at under $4.00
per share down from over $40 last year.

Again and again, year after year, the CEOs and the patsy federal agency
heads have lied to the people about the financial status of these
corporations. There is no credibility left and therefore no confidence.
Over three trillion dollars is sitting in disbelief on the sidelines.
Trillions of dollars have been looted or lost in the meantime, draining
worker pension funds, mutual funds and the savings of small investors.

None of this had to happen. Regulation against conflicts of interest and
hyper risk taking could have stopped it, including preventing the housing
mortgage crisis. Empowering investor-owners could have headed it off. But
Washington-based right wing corporate funded think tanks and the banking
lobbies battered down the regulatory guards and the federal cops.

So now only the American taxpayers and their creditworthiness inside a
deficit-ridden government and a debt-loaded Federal Reserve stand in the
way of a far bigger financial collapse than the stock market crash of
1929. Will it be done smartly this time around?

Reckless, self-enriching capitalists get on your knees and thank the
rescuing Washington socialists, for without them, you would surely be in

Ralph Nader is running for president as an independent.

--------15 of 18--------

By Roger Cuthbertson
Trickle Up
Free Speech Zone
July 16, 2008

What a Monday morning surprise! After months of telling us that the
economy is not really that bad, and that you really can't call it
something as bad as a recession, the Bush administration tells us that
Congress must use the people's money to bail out the two largest mortgage
lending companies in the nation, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And this must
be done, right now. The plan is to lend these companies $300 billion or so
of the people's money with low interest rates and to further bail them
out by buying up an undisclosed amount (possibly 3 trillion dollars) of
the now nearly worthless company stock. The people would pay for the
stock, but not get ownership!

Apparently, massive welfare is ok for the rich but not for ordinary
citizens. Socialism for the rich! Capitalism for the poor! This bailout
would be a gift from taxpayers and their debt burdened children to the
people that caused the mess and reaped the profits.

I have a better idea! Let the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac go broke. Instead
of bailing out the companies the government should seize what is left of
their assets. Terminate Bush's tax cuts for the rich. Reestablish very
progressive taxes. Use these revenues and the money from the auction of
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac assets to bail out the people who have already
lost their homes from default. Also help out people who have bad mortgages
sold by rapacious lenders. Provide help to all mortgage holders and
renters and homeless people that need it. Begin criminal investigations of
the managers of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and their regulatory
accomplices, for unscrupulous lending practices. Use all fines and
proceeds to help the poor. The rich can have whatever trickles up. Call it
the trickle up approach.

Roger Cuthbertson, Economics wizard

[I'd rather we all drink a few pints and then all stand in a big circle
and trickle down on the rich. Make their bodies smell like their souls.

--------16 of 18--------

Wal-Mart: Low Prices, but at What Cost?
by Stacy Mitchell
Published on Saturday, July 19, 2008 by the Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St.
Common Dreams

Katherine Kersten tries to represent Wal-Mart as a hero of working
families. But what Wal-Mart has saved poor and middle-income Americans -
and there's reason to doubt the depth and durability of the discounts
Kersten cites - it has taken that and more from them in diminished job
opportunities and reduced income.

It's not just Wal-Mart. Rather, it's the economic model that Wal-Mart
perfected and that others, including Home Depot and Target, also follow.

The rise of these powerful retailers over the past 20 years has decimated
two long-standing pillars of the American middle class.

One consists of small business owners, tens of thousands of whom, along
with their employees, have lost their livelihoods as the big boxes have
taken over.

Manufacturing workers are the other. Since 1990, the United States has
lost some 3 million manufacturing jobs. Many of these losses can be traced
to big-box retailers and the relentless pressure they have placed on
companies to cut costs by moving to countries with low wages and lax labor

Starting a small business or getting a union-wage production job provided
a path out of poverty for generations of American families. No other
company has done more to close these avenues to a middle-class life than

Indeed, U.S. Census data show that the middle class has lost substantial
ground over the past 20 years. The share of the nation's income flowing to
families in the middle 60 percent of the income distribution fell nearly
12 percent.

The share flowing to the bottom 20 percent fell even faster, while the
ranks of the working poor - people who work full time but cannot afford
the basics - swelled.

Kersten points out that new Wal-Mart and Target stores often attract
legions of job applicants. But this is less a sign of the desirability of
these jobs than it is of widespread economic desperation.

Lacking better options, more people are applying for retail work, giving
the big chains a larger, and more easily exploited, labor pool.

Opportunities for this segment of the workforce have actually declined as
the big boxes expanded. That's because the chains stretch their workers,
achieving the same sales with fewer people than the businesses they

David Neumark, an economist at the University of California, analyzed the
impact of more than 2,000 Wal-Mart stores that opened between 1977 and
2002 and found that, for every new retail job created by Wal-Mart, 1.4
were lost as existing businesses downsized or closed.

Consolidation has also given these chains enough market power to hold down
growth in retail wages, according to many economists.

Nor do big-box jobs offer much hope for advancement. Although a majority
of store managers start as hourly workers, as Kersten notes, the ratio of
store managers to hourly employees in a typical big-box store - roughly 1
to 350 - makes the odds of landing on the management track incredibly

Wal-Mart's vaunted logistical innovations only partly explain how it got
to the top. It also got there by squeezing its employees and forcing the
rest of us to pick up the tab.

Minnesota is not the only state where Wal-Mart has systematically violated
labor laws by requiring employees to miss breaks and work off the clock.
The retailer has lost similar suits in California, Oregon and

Stealing from your own employees, especially when they make so little, is
about as low as its gets.

Not surprisingly, large numbers of Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Target
employees and their families, unable to make ends meet, have enrolled in
Medicaid and other public assistance programs.

Do cheap DVD players make up for all this?

Given the toll these companies have taken on earnings for both low- and
middle-income families and the fact that prices for the things that matter
most - housing, health care and education - have skyrocketed, it's hard to
conclude that we are anything but worse off.

There's also reason to doubt the depth and durability of those frequently
touted big-box discounts.

Declining product lifespans and the appalling number of products found
tainted with lead and other toxins suggests that manufacturers, many of
which make special lines solely for big-box retailers, may have achieved
those low prices by cutting corners. We're paying less because we're
getting less.

Being left with only a handful of retailers competing for our dollars is
also bound to be bad for consumers in the long run. Already there's
evidence that prices at Wal-Mart and other chains are higher in areas with
little local competition.

Instead of shopping ourselves deeper into this economic hole, we would do
well to invest more of our spending in businesses that build community
wealth, rather than extract it. What characterizes such a business? Key
traits to look for are local ownership, products made responsibly and even
locally, and fair wages.

Stacy Mitchell is a senior researcher with the Institute for Local
Self-Reliance and author of "Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of
Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America's Independent Businesses".

2008 Star Tribune.

--------17 of 18--------

Compassionate capitalism: Ecocide with a smiley face
Written by Lorna Salzman
Culture Change

"We all agree that development that pollutes and destroys in order to
enrich the already-rich is morally wrong. But development that pollutes
and destroys in order to help the poor is just fine. We owe it to the
poor. This is Compassionate Capitalism. And it is as ruthless, unforgiving
and unjust as the old kind."

Imagine a crew of poor and minority construction workers. After years of
poverty, lack of opportunity and discrimination they finally have secure,
well-paying jobs with good benefits.

They are building a new village that will house low and moderate income
families, including themselves. This village is located downstream from a
high dam that provides hydropower for the region.

The dam is old and recent inspections have revealed serious flaws that
could result in dam failure that could wipe out the village and cause
severe loss of life. The exact date of such failure is unknown but the
risk is large and real and engineers and geologists recommend that the
village be evacuated and rebuilt elsewhere as a precautionary measure,
until the dam is repaired.

Repairs sufficient to guarantee dam integrity will be expensive and will
take up to three or four years to complete. The costs are unknown as are
the sources of funding. State revenues are scarce and the federal
government has cut back on infrastructure repair. It is not known whether
funds will be made available, how much and when.

The villagers, which include the construction workers, do not welcome the
cost and inconvenience of relocation so they decide to remain where they
are, figuring that dam repair as well as village development will provide
lots of jobs. Some of them distrust the engineers and geologists and their
predictions. Some of them believe that the repairs can be completed in a
shorter period of time. Some believe the dam is fundamentally sound and
doesn't need much repair, if any. The village, county, state and federal
officials meet, confer, haggle, argue, hiring consultants, holding public
hearings, debating costs and benefits and wasting over two years on the
problem due to conflicting opinions.

While dam repair contracts are put out for bidding, the construction
workers continue their work on building housing developments, schools,
shopping centers, churches and light industrial structures. Investment is
attracted to the area. The village expands and becomes a small city, with
a larger economy and local industry, and residents prosper. Lots of cars
and RVs are sold, large air conditioned homes on large lots with swimming
pools are built as is an airport, and the interstate is extended to the
city. Shopping malls appear on the outskirts. Several banks open new
branches. Sewage systems are extended to the new developments and a large
water supply system to deliver water from the river is also expanded. The
increase in energy demand results in construction of two new coal powered
plants and plans are laid for a nuclear plant at a "safe" distance, to
accommodate growth.

Three years later, the dam breaks, destroying the entire city, killing
most of its residents.

This story is fictitious but the situation it describes is not. It is what
we face now with global warming. Those who staked their own lives on the
integrity of the dam were mainly low income minority workers, who had
faith in "the system" and in technology. There are millions more of these
among us today who doubt there is a global warming crisis and who believe
that new jobs and technology to help the unemployed and the minorities
should come first. To rationalize this, they denigrate the seriousness of
the climate change situation and, like the village construction workers,
look to technology and renewable energy development as their salvation.

Meanwhile, growth continues, energy consumption expands, the consumer
sector continues to spend as before, floods, droughts and wildfires run
rampant, water supplies are drying up,food prices rise due to higher
energy and import costs, garbage and wastes accumulate, wildlife habitat,
open space and recreational lands are sacrificed for roads, malls and
development, energy prices skyrocket for numerous and uncontrollable
reasons, the oceans die, and the quality of life rapidly deteriorates. And
what do these workers and minorities demand? More of the same things that
caused the crisis in the first place: cheap energy. Why do they call for
this? In order to consume more.

Under all of this is an unswerving religious faith in the need for
continued economic growth: for unabated production of goods and
consumption, in the name of equity and social justice, to benefit those
who had been left out of the country's prosperity. This is the message
just delivered by Niger Ennis, a Republican strategist and head of CORE
(Congress on Racial Equality), a beneficiary of Exxon ($275,000 since
1998), who is pushing for cheap energy, more fossil fuel plants and
offshore oil drilling. Ennis gave an infamous Capitol Hill briefing, along
with climate skeptics, titled "Eco-Imperialism: Reflections on Earth Day."
He also said: "We support any candidate that is not cowed by the powerful
environmental lobby."

The prosperity approach is also the message delivered by the Apollo
Alliance, a front for the Democratic Party and possibly for the auto
industry which supports "clean coal." The affiliated 1Sky movement has
fairly strong positions on reducing energy consumption (25% reduction from
1990 levels by 2020, 80% by 2050), but they have bought into the carbon
trading scam instead of supporting carbon taxes, and promote that
now-familiar cliche of "smart growth," without defining it.

Though the term "economic growth" is not the explicit message of Green for
All, headed by Van Jones, formerly head of the Ella Baker Center and its
"green growth" campaign, its overall thrust of creating "5 million jobs
conserving 20% of our energy by 2015" (the 1Sky objective as well), not
basing its objectives on science, fails to acknowledge the need to sharply
reduce energy consumption in the next three or four years (the time period
remaining before we exceed several climate tipping points, according to
James Hansen). In so doing it leapfrogs over the global climate crisis to
that golden land of opportunity, not comprehending that no amount of
renewable energy technology can ever meet our present demand, much less
the future demand of the five million new workers in renewable energy who
will, if past experience is a guide, use their newfound wealth to emulate
the life style of profligate Americans.

A 20% reduction in energy use by 2015 is barely an improvement over the
ineffectual Kyoto Protocol proposal. Green for All supported the
Lieberman-Boxer energy bill, with some reservations, while most
environmental groups declared the bill to be woefully inadequate.
Essentially Green for All is an anti-poverty effort with a green tinge,
not an anti-global warming effort. And the strongest pro-growth shout
emanates from the Break Through Institute, headed by neo-liberal growth
and globalization fanatics Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, whose
prescription for survival is one word: Prosperity.

It is no accident that most of those pushing for Business as Usual are
either members of a minority group or use economic justice as their
justification. This is a clever move since it guarantees funding from
liberal donors like the Pew Charitable Trust and the Nathan Cummings
Foundation as well as the Rockefeller Foundation. It also guarantees
credibility in the media and with liberal leaders and organizations, who
would rather retire to a desert island than be considered racist.

The subliminal theme here is this: we all agree that development that
pollutes and destroys in order to enrich the already-rich is morally
wrong. But development that pollutes and destroys in order to help the
poor is just fine. We owe it to the poor. This is Compassionate
Capitalism. And it is as ruthless, unforgiving and unjust as the old kind.

It is striking that spokesmen for minority groups have for so long found
little to criticize about corporate greed, profits and pollution, or
capitalism in general, but had little trouble attacking their friends --
the environmental community -- for what they believed was racism and
deliberate ignoring of urban minorities.

So the push for millions of new minority jobs also raises the following
question: since corporations have shown little or no interest in the needs
of minorities or the poor in the past, how much faith can we have that in
the hoped-for future renewable energy economy they will make an effort to
include them?

The main objective here is to distract the liberals' attention away from
the breaking dam and onto the jobs being created in the city beneath the
dam as it expands... to distract attention away from the global warming
tipping points that we face in the next few years, away from the bad news,
away from anything that instills doubt in economic growth and in
capitalist society itself.

To express doubt of traditional growth patterns smacks of hardship and
sacrifice, especially for the poor. Thus, doubt must be completely
abolished by drawing attention to the purported benefits of growth to the
poor, by pointing to the jobs... not to the dam. Where are the jobs? We
know where they are: in renewable energy, energy efficiency, public
transportation, rehabilitation of buildings and infrastructure, local and
regional food supplies, weatherization, and elsewhere. These are already
cliches. Nothing new there.

But the Good News Bears who want you to ignore the breaking dam don't tell
you the truth about these jobs, particularly about how long it will take
to bring them to the needy. How long will it take to replace fossil fuel
and nuclear plants with wind energy systems? How long to rebuild and
expand Amtrak and build new regional and local public transportation
systems to replace air travel and private cars? How long to replace
high-energy, processed, prepackaged and imported food with local food
supplies? How long before the federal government and the private investors
turn away from fossil fuels and nuclear reactors definitively and put
their faith and funds into these things?

If you guessed more than five years, you guessed correctly. Try twenty. Or
fifty. The problem is that the dam is crumbling in the meantime.

That minority leaders like Ennis and Jones are not aligning themselves
with those demanding real solutions to slow down and mitigate global
warming through dramatically reduced consumption of energy and goods is
truly tragic. That their followers are being duped into supporting the
American Dream of increasing consumption of energy and goods --
Compassionate Capitalism -- including a demand for cheaper oil, is
testimony to the tragic gullibility that characterizes all Americans, not
just the poor and the minorities.

In a nutshell, we don't have a tough uncompromising movement or leadership
with curbing global warming as its focus. We have anti-poverty and social
justice groups and campaigns posing as green but with a "plentiful lack"
of serious proposals to overhaul the entire capitalist/consumer society.
It is quite clear that marginal and incremental economic reforms will not
slow down the economic growth beast much less threaten its existence.

It appears that even those members of society who have lived at the bottom
are not ready or willing to admit that this society is neither sustainable
nor reformable. Perhaps they are whistling in the dark. But it is more
likely that these reformist groups are being encouraged in their schemes
by funders and forces cemented to the concept of economic growth and to
capitalism at all costs who welcome the emphasis on jobs and renewable
energy as a distraction from the daily reports of accelerating climate
change. The revolutionaries, however, are nowhere to be seen.

I've got news for them. Nature doesn't distinguish between rich and poor.

Lorna Salzman, formerly with Friends of the Earth during David Brower's
leadership, writes on politics, energy and the environment. Her website is

"We are already fighting World War III and I am sorry to say we are
winning. It is the war against the earth." - author Raymond Dasmann

Further reading:

"Neo-liberals in green clothing: Nordhaus, Shellenberger and Rockefeller
Philanthropy Advisors," by Lorna Salzman:

Questioning the social-justice-first approach: article, "What is the
grassroots' and environmental establishment's main failure?" by Jan
Lundberg, Culture Change Letter #179:

"Smart Growth: Smart or not? Debunking the myths of sustainable growth"
Culture Change magazine, issue 20, 2002:

--------18 of 18--------

The Fanny Mae Bail Out and the Art of Political Graft
Mother's Milk of Politics Turns Sour
July 19 / 20, 2008

Once again we're closing the barn door after the horse is out and gone. In
Washington the Federal Reserve has finally acted to stop some of the
predatory lending that exploited people's need for money.  And like Rip
Van Winkle, Congress is finally waking up from a long doze under the warm
sun of laissez faire economics.  That's French for turning off the alarm
until the burglars have made their getaway.

Philosophy is one reason we do this to ourselves; when you worship market
forces as if they were the gods of Olympus, then the gods can do no wrong
- until, of course, they prove to be human. Then we realize we should
have listened to our inner agnostic and not been so reverent in the first

But we also get into these terrible dilemmas - where the big guys step all
over everyone else and the victims are required to pay the hospital bills
- because we refuse to recognize the connection between money and
politics. This is the great denial in democracy that may ultimately mean
our ruin.  We just don't seem able to see or accept the fact that money
drives policy.  It's no wonder that Congress and the White House have been
looking the other way as the predators picked the pockets of unsuspecting
debtors.  Mega banking and investment firms have been some of the biggest
providers of the cash vital to keeping incumbents in office. There isn't
much appetite for biting - or regulating - the manicured hand that feeds

Guess who gave the most money to candidates in this 2007-08 federal
election cycle?  That's right, the financial services and real estate
industries. They stuffed nearly $250 million dollars into the candidate
coffers.  The about-to-be-bailed-out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac together
are responsible for about half the country's $12 trillion mortgage debt.
Lisa Lerer of reports that over the past decade, the two
financial giants with the down home names have spent nearly $200 million
on campaign contributions and lobbying. According to Lerer, "They've
stacked their payrolls with top Washington power brokers of all political
stripes, including Republican John McCain's presidential campaign manager,
Rick Davis; Democrat Barack Obama's original vice presidential vetter, Jim
Johnson; and scores of others now working for the two rivals for the White

Last Sunday's New York Times put it as bluntly as anyone ever has: "In
Washington, Fannie and Freddie's sprawling lobbying machine hired family
and friends of politicians in their efforts to quickly sideline any
regulations that might slow their growth or invite greater oversight of
their business practices. Indeed, their rapid expansion was, at least in
part, the result of such artful lobbying over the years".

What a beautiful term: "artful lobbying."  It means honest graft. Look at
any of the important issues bogged down in the swampland along the Potomac
and you don't have to scrape away the muck too deeply to find that
campaign cash is at the core of virtually every impasse.  We're spending
more than six percent of our salaries on gasoline, and global warming
keeps temperatures rising but the climate bill was killed last month and
President Bush just got rid of his daddy's longtime ban on offshore
drilling.  Only in a fairy tale would anyone believe it's just coincidence
that the oil and gas industries have donated more than $18 million to
federal candidates this year, three-quarters of it going to Republicans.
They've spent more than $26 million lobbying this year - that's seven
times more than environmental groups have spent.

Follow the money - it goes from your gas tank to the wine bars and steak
houses of DC, where the payoffs happen. Or ponder that FISA surveillance
legislation that just passed the Senate. It let the big telecommunications
companies off the hook for helping the government wiretap our phones and
laptops without warrants. Over the years those telecom companies have
given Republicans in the House and Senate $63 million dollars and
Democrats $49 million.  No wonder that when their lobbyists reach out and
place a call to Congress, they never get a busy signal.  Do the same
without making a big contribution, and you'll be put on "hold" until the
embalmer shows up to claim your cold corpse.

The late journalist Meg Greenfield once wrote that trying to get money out
of politics is akin to the quest for a squirrel-proof birdfeeder. No
matter how clever and ingenious the design, the squirrels are always one
mouthful ahead of you. Here's an example. Corporations are limited in how
much they can contribute to candidate's campaigns, right? But someone's
always figuring out how to open another back door.  So Democrats have
turned to Steve Farber. He's using the resources of his big K Street law
and lobbying factory to help raise $40 million for the Democratic National
Convention. Half a dozen of his clients have signed up, including AT&T,
Comcast, Western Union and Google. Their presence at the convention will
offer lots of opportunities to curry favors at private parties while
ordinary delegates wander Denver looking for the nearest Wendy's. By the
way, just as you pay at the gas pump for those energy lobbyists to wine
and dine your representatives in Washington, you'll pay on April 15 for
Denver - corporations can deduct their contributions.

Another back door - one quite familiar to Steve Farber and his ilk - leads
to presidential libraries.  Bill Clinton's in Arkansas required serious
political bucks, and we're not talking penny ante fines for overdue books.

Again, there's no limit to the amount a donor can give and no obligation
to reveal their names. Clinton's cost $165 million and we still don't know
the identities of everyone who put up the dough, even though four years
ago a reporter stumbled on a list that included Arab businessmen, Saudi
royals, Hollywood celebs and the governments of Dubai, Kuwait, Qatar,
Brunei and Taiwan. Hmmm.

Once George W. is out of the White House, he, too, plans what one
newspaper described as a "legacy polishing" institute - a presidential
library and think tank at Southern Methodist University in Dallas costing
half a billion dollars.  Last Sunday, The Times of London released a
remarkable video of one of the president's buddies and fund raisers
 - Stephen Payne, a political appointee appointed to the Homeland Security
Advisory Council.

The Times set him up in a video sting, and taped a conversation in which
Payne offers an exiled leader of Kyrgyzstan meetings with such White House
luminaries as Vice President Cheney and Condoleezza Rice - provided he
makes a whopping contribution to the Bush Library, and an even bigger
payment to Payne's lobbying firm. Payne tells him, "It will be somewhere
between $600,000 and $750,000, with about a third of it going directly to
the Bush Library... That's gonna be a show of 'we're interested, we're
your friends, we're still your friends.'".

The White House denies any connection between library contributions and
access to officials and harrumphed at the preposterous idea that Payne had
a close relationship with the President. Unfortunately, there's at least
one photo of Payne with the President cutting brush at his Crawford ranch.
There's also one of Payne demonstrating more guts than common sense, on a
rifle range with Deadeye Dick Cheney.

Payne, who now is supporting John McCain, says he's done nothing wrong,
but a congressional investigation intends to find out. So from the
financial meltdown brought on by predatory lending to global warming to
tax breaks and other favors, the late California politician Jesse "Big
Daddy" Unruh got it right: Money is the mother's milk of politics.  He
knew what he was talking about, because Big Daddy swigged it by the
gallon.  Now it has curdled into a witch's brew.

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship is senior writer of the
weekly public affairs program Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night
on PBS.  Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at

[The rich cause of the poor. The few plot gray lives for the many. A "good
life" costs hundreds of bad or ended ones. We can continue to suffer at
their hands or we can rise up and end the charade. -ed]


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