Progressive Calendar 01.27.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2009 11:43:38 -0800 (PST)
           P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    01.27.09

1. Police brutality    1.27 5pm
2. Kip Sullivan/health 1.27 6pm
3. RNC court watch     1.27 6pm
4. HIRE Minnesota      1.27 6:30pm
5. Salon/discussion    1.27 6:30pm
6. Palestine/Obama     1.27 7pm Northfield MN
7. Gitmo/Obama/PBS     1.27 9pm

8. GLBT state policy   1.28 11am

9. Dave Bicking - Announces candidacy for Mpls ward 9 city council seat
10. CUAPB       - Victory!
11. Mary Turck  - Only 2.5 parking spaces per block: LRT University Av
12. T Hartmann  - How the GOP has conned America for thirty years
13. Allan Nairn - Obama's new rules: the torture ban doesn't ban torture
14. D Tripathi  - "It's About Humanity": the BBC's day of shame
15. ed          - Lover's Lane LRT  (poem)

--------1 of 15--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Police brutality 1.27 5pm

Sensible St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm,
midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow!  All
households with basic cable may watch.

Tues, 1/27, 5pm & midnight and Wed, 1/28, 10am
Police Brutality: from the RNC to Everyday Life

Guest Michelle Gross, President of the MN-based Communities United Against
Police Brutality shares the word from the streets and neighborhoods of the
Twin Cities.  From cop behavior in St. Paul during the RNC and the
increase in cop usage of new "less lethal" weapons to hate crimes being
carried out by police relating to the election of President Barack Obama,
Ms. Gross lays out reason for us to keep a closer eye on police behavior.
Hosted by Karen Redleaf.

Stream it:

--------2 of 15--------

From: Kip Sullivan <kiprs [at]>
Subject: Kip Sullivan/health 1.27 6pm

Framing the Health Care Debate

Are we in favor of achieving Universal Health Care by giving tax dollars
to the insurance industry to expand coverage OR do we support an approach
that would expand coverage while reducing health care costs, such as a
Single Payer System?

Tuesday, January 27th, from 6:00 - 8:00 P.M.
Edina Grandview Public Library, 5280 Grandview Square

Mr. Kip Sullivan
Health Systems Analyst for the Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition,
Steering Committee Member of the Physicians for a National Health Program (MN)

Mr. Sullivan will discuss the American health care reform debate from the
perspective of a single-payer advocate. There is almost universal public
agreement, that all Americans need to be insured and that current health
care costs need to be reduced. More importantly, there is also general
agreement that all Americans cannot be insured unless health costs are
cut. Thus, the most fundamental issue in the debate is how to cut costs
without harming patients. On that question, three schools of thought have
dominated the debate for the last 40 years: single-payer, managed care,
and very high-deductible policies.

Kip Sullivan will explain these three approaches and examine the
legislation being discussed by the Obama administration and congressional
Democrats, and by DFL legislators in the Minnesota legislature and Tim
Pawlenty. He will argue that the major issue among Democrats at both the
federal and state level then is, whether to attempt to achieve universal
health insurance with a single-payer system, or to put off supporting a
single-payer system indefinitely in favor of expanding coverage by giving
tax dollars to the insurance industry.

NEW:  All forums will be listed on and on

Please RSVP (not required for attendance) at:
1. Enter your zip code
2. 5 mile radius.
3. Click on RSVP and provide your email address for a 48hr. advance reminder.

You are invited to bring a small appetizer / dessert to share. Questions?
Call Usha at 952 926 0955.

Future meetings: February 24, 2009 (topic / speaker to be announced) and
March 18, 2009 with Professor David Schultz - CHANGE IN 60 DAYS - BARACK
OBAMA STYLE - Old Faces In New Places

This event kicks off the 2009 Series of the EDINA DEMOCRATS Kitchen Table
Conversations (DFL LINKS), which is generally held on the 4th Tuesday of
each month and is free and open to the public. Your hosts are DFL
volunteers, who arrange to bring top experts to our community to speak on
important local, state and national issues. We invite experts from think
tanks, issue organizations and universities, officials from school boards
and the Edina City Council, legislators and leaders, to speak at the
forums.  People of all political persuasion are welcome to attend.

Kip Sullivan was an organizer and researcher for Minnesota COACT (Citizens
Organized Acting Together) from 1980 to 2000.  From 1986 until 2000, Mr.
Sullivan's work focused on COACT's campaign for universal health
insurance.  He was one of two consumer representatives on the Governor's
Health Plan Regulatory Reform Commission in 1988.  Between 2000 and 2006,
he continued to work for universal health insurance as the health systems
analyst for the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition (MUHCC). MUHCC
consists of 14 organizations, including the League of Women Voters, the
Minnesota Farmers Union, Physicians for a National Health Program, the
Minnesota Nurses Association, and the National Association of Social
Workers. He speaks frequently on behalf of MUHCC. Since 2007 he has served
as the health systems analyst for the Greater Minnesota Health Care
Coalition, and has sat on the steering committee of the Minnesota chapter
of Physicians for a National Health Program.

Mr. Sullivan has written over 100 articles on health policy, many of which
appeared in national newspapers, magazines and journals such as the
American Journal of Public Health, Health Affairs, the Los Angeles Times,
The Nation, the New England Journal of Medicine, the New York Times, and
the Washington Monthly.  He is the author of The Health Care Mess: How We
Got Into It and How We'll Get Out of It (AuthorHouse, 2006). He speaks
frequently to the public. He has a BA from Pomona College and JD from
Harvard Law School.

--------3 of 15--------

From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at]>
Subject: RNC court watch 1.27 6pm

RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing
court information, documentation and etc.  RNC Court Watchers Meetings are
every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Below is announcement for our

Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the
streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately
used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to
disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The
RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this
intimidation, harassment and abuse!

Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to
find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent

Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street,
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M
participate and help organize RNC court solidarity.
For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at]

--------4 of 15--------

From: Maura Brown and Jennifer Jimenez-Wheatley
    <jennifer [at]>
Subject: HIRE Minnesota 1.27 6:30pm

Alliance for Metropolitan Stability
January 14, 2008

How can you help grow the economy, protect the environment and ensure
thousands of jobs for Minnesotans?

HIRE Minnesota (Healthcare, Infrastructure, and Renewable Energy
Town Hall Meeting Tuesday, January 27 6:30-8:00 pm
Lao Family Community of Minnesota 320 W University Avenue, St. Paul

The government is poised to make big decisions about how to stimulate our
economy by investing in infrastructure and new technologies. And as
America rebuilds our economy, green industries will be a major factor in
creating jobs and refueling our economic growth. But who will make these
decisions and who will benefit from investments?

Come and learn about how to join HIRE Minnesota's efforts to ensure new
investments result in healthy, sustainable communities. It makes sense!
Investments in infrastructure should:

* Jump start our economy
* Create and preserve millions of jobs
* Create sustainable income for low-income people and people of color
* Reduce our oil dependency
* Ease the climate crisis

Come to offer your vision and learn about how you can help join the
campaign for smart, green investments that create new jobs for our

Free food and musical entertainment!
RSVP online to let the Alliance know you're coming

H.I.R.E. Minnesota is a coalition of community groups led by the Summit
Academy OIC (SAOIC).  Coalition members include: African American Men
Project, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Asian American Press,
Catholic Charities Office for Social Justice, Environmental Justice
Advocates of Minnesota, Green Water Energy, Insight News, ISAIAH, LVY
Investments, Minnesota Baptist Convention, Minnesota Multicultural Media
Consortium, Minnesota OIC State Council, Minority Business Television
Netowrk, Sabathani Community Center, Stairstep, Will Steger Foundation,
Women's Environmental Institute, elected officials, community members, and

Maura Brown and Jennifer Jimenez-Wheatley Alliance for Metropolitan
Stability 2525 E Franklin Avenue, Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55406

--------5 of 15--------

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Salon/discussion 1.27 6:30pm

This Tuesday, January 27, will be Open Discussion night.  Bring  your
neighbor, bring a friend.  We need to see new faces.

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.

--------6 of 15--------

From: Bill McGrath <billmcgrath52 [at]>
Subject: Palestine/Obama 1.27 7pm Northfield MN

"Are members of Obama's cabinet going to work for justice and peace in
Israel/Palestine?" A slide-show, followed by discussion.
7 pm Tuesday, Jan. 27, Northfield Library, 210 Washington St., Northfield.

Presented by Northfield resident Bill McGrath, BLT. Sponsored by
Northfield People for Peace and Goodwill (PPG)  More info: (507) 645-7660

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

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
Subject: Gitmo/Obama/PBS 1.27 9pm

"Getting Out of Gitmo," is about one man's Kafkaesque journey through the
legal black hole of the U.S. war on terror.

Abu Bakker Qassim left home in rural China in 2000 to seek work in Turkey,
telling his pregnant wife he'd be back in six months. Swept up in the
CIA's dragnet after 9/11, Qassim ended up in Guantanamo.

Seven years later, reporters Alexandra Poolos and Serene Fang tracked him
down in Albania and through his story, they examine the challenges facing
the Obama administration in shutting down Guantanamo.

--------8 of 15--------

From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at]>
Subject: GLBT state policy 1.28 11am

NOW 900 WATTS STRONG: FM 90.3/Minneapolis-106.7/St. Paul and STREAMING

GLBT STATE POLICY: What do Minnesota's Gays Want?

Not an easy question to ask for this legislative session. Some advocates
are pushing hard for a marriage bill and have a raft of stellar
legislative co-sponsors in both houses in their corner, BUT, other groups
are concerned about backlash and want to eliminate discriminatory statutes
one-by-one. Just what do Minnesota's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and
Transgender activists want - and will division in the ranks fragment or
dilute support for any one legislative agenda? TRUTH TO TELL seeks to
bring issues often confined to directly affected constituencies and their
media outlets to a more general audience.

This week, TTT's ANDY DRISCOLL & LYNNELL MICKELSEN talk with a variety of
GLBT organizations and advocates about this legislative session's agenda
around human rights issues and their differing approaches to ensuring
equal treatment and recognition of same-sex families in housing,
employment, health care, financial and estate matters.


 LAURA SMIDZIK - Executive Director, PROJECT 515
 JOHN TOWNSEND - Co-Host, KFAI's "FRESH FRUIT" and arts writer for
Lavender Magazine.
 AMY JOHNSON, Executive Director, OUTFRONT MINNESOTA, GLBT Advocacy Group


--------9 of 15--------

Dave Bicking Announces Candidacy for Mpls 9th Ward City Council Seat
For immediate release, January 26, 2009

With more than 60 people attending, Dave Bicking announced his candidacy
in the Minneapolis 9th Ward City Council race at his Campaign Kickoff
Fundraiser last Saturday, January 24.  Bicking is a life-long progressive
activist, and is well-known for his work on local issues.  He is seeking
the Green Party endorsement.

Since the late 1960's, Bicking, 58, has been active in anti-war movements,
in labor organizing, and in the struggles for economic, social, and racial
justice.  David Weisberg, an environmental health specialist, says, "I
have known Dave Bicking for over three decades, during which time I have
been impressed by his sense of ethics, his strong support for anti-racism
and issues of social justice, and his deep understanding of environmental
issues.  He is the only politician I have ever trusted."

Convinced by community members to mount a last minute City Council
campaign in 2005, Bicking won over 30% of the vote in his first run for
elected office despite a late start.  "I entered that race at the last
minute," Bicking says, "prompted by my experience fighting against a tax
to subsidize the Twins stadium.  I was appalled by the misplaced
priorities and the blatant disregard for public opinion."

After four more years of local activism and more intense attention paid to
the workings of City Council, Bicking is even more convinced that we need
more than just a new City Council member; we need a new way of governing.
"We need to increase public control over government, to reverse the
consolidation of power downtown.  I opposed the changes to the
Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) which shifted influence from the
neighborhoods to the city leadership.  But the problem goes far deeper
than that.  A basic principle of my campaign is grassroots democracy, the
principle that decisions should be made with the active participation and
consent of those most affected.  Many of the current 'public input'
opportunities are held after the real decisions have been made.  This
frustrates and discourages any real community input."

"A second basic principle of my campaign is that city government should be
judged by how it treats the most vulnerable among us - the poor, the
elderly, and the very young.  It is unconscionable that people must sleep
on the sidewalks next to towering symbols of great wealth.  Food, housing,
healthcare, and education are basic rights and must be our priorities."

Bicking has been active in many of the issues central to his campaign.
According to Papa John Kolstad, local musician and business owner, "I have
worked with Dave and I have seen that he actually walks the walk, not just
talks the talk."

- Bicking was a leader in the fight against the Twins stadium sales tax at
  the county level and at the State Legislature, and is now working to
  oppose an even larger subsidy for a new Vikings stadium.  He will
  continue to oppose subsidies for millionaires (and billionaires!) and
  fight powerful interests that would divert our taxes away from pressing
  human needs.  "Any stimulus funds the city receives from the new Obama
  administration must be carefully spent on infrastructure that will create
  good permanent jobs and improve our lives well into the future, not on a
  few expensive boondoggles."

- He currently serves on the board of the Minneapolis Civilian Police
  Review Authority, and volunteers with the Midtown Community Restorative
  Justice Program.  He recognizes that reducing crime means emphasizing
  proven long-term methods such as youth programs, better jobs and better
  living conditions.  He knows that public safety depends not simply on the
  number of police officers, but also on the quality and priorities of
  police service.  "The police can do a better job of addressing our
  serious crime problems by consistently treating people with respect and
  earning their trust.  We need an end to racial profiling. We need
  stronger civilian oversight and effective accountability for very serious
  ongoing problems of policing in our neighborhoods."

- Bicking has worked for 17 years as a mechanic at his own auto repair
  shop in the 9th ward.  He understands and supports the concerns of small
  businesses which create 90% of new jobs in Minnesota and keep more of our
  money in the local economy.

- He helped defeat the Midtown Burner which would have added more
  pollution in an area already challenged by childhood asthma and other
  serious problems.  He will continue to work for environmental justice and
  our children's health.  He will listen to and work closely with
  neighborhood groups and residents.

The campaign is off to a strong start.  The enthusiastic crowd at last
Saturday's party contributed over $1000, but the greatest strength of the
campaign will be its volunteer base.  Tom Cleland, steering committee
member of the local Green Party states, "From the turnout at this
fundraiser it is clear that Dave Bicking is a unifying figure."

Contact the campaign:  612-276-1213      Website:
   Email:  dave [at]

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

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: CUAPB NEWS FLASH: Victory!

Communities United Against Police Brutality
January 26, 2009


In an exciting courtroom victory today, charges leveled against CUAPB Vice
President Darryl Robinson after he was beaten and arrested during copwatch
were suddenly dropped by the prosecution in the middle of jury selection.
We believe this was indicative of the weakness of the case, once the
prosecution realized there were a number of witnesses who could
collaborate Darryl's recollections of the incident.  Darryl still faces
one count of trespass for a previous copwatch incident and that case will
go to trial on March 23rd but for now we are all relishing the wonderful
victory today.

Thanks go to Ted Dooley, attorney extraordinaire, and to the large number
of wonderful folks who showed up for courtwatch today--including five
members of the RNC 8.  The judge really took notice when the entire
courtroom stood up as Darryl's name was called.  Courtwatch/court
solidarity rocks!

Please continue to support people going to court on RNC-related charges.
For an ongoing court calendar of RNC cases, go to and look under the Upcoming Events


In what many consider the first test of the strength of RNC prosecutions,
charges were dismissed on Friday, January 23rd against a group of seven
people arrested at Wall and 6th Streets.  The "Wall 7" were along a group
of 30 people who were arrested on day 1 after they were hemmed in the area
by marauding bands of riot cops and bicycle patrols.  Each of the
defendants faced four misdemeanor charges.

The weakness of the case became apparent after three days of cop testimony
in which prosecution witnesses tried to tie Wall 7 defendants with
incidents in other intersections blocks away.  Having enough of the farce,
the judge declared that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with
the prosecution and tossed out all charges with no option for the
prosecution to bring charges later.

The case was also a showcase for the wisdom of court solidarity.
Although the "Wall 7" are young people mostly from the northeast, they
vowed not to take any deals and to return to court in St. Paul as many
times as it took to clear their names.  They were aided in this effort by
travel funds and other assistance from Community RNC Arrestee Support
Structure (CRASS), a group formed to address the arrests and other
after-effects of the RNC.  For more information on CRASS, go to

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)
Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue South

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

Only 2.5 parking spaces per block: Central Corridor's impact on University
By Mary Turck, TC Daily Planet
January 26, 2009

Businesses along the Central Corridor.s University Avenue route
overwhelmingly say that their voices have not been heard and that light
rail will not help them, according to preliminary study results from the
University Avenue Business Association (UABA) survey on construction
mitigation. "Parking, parking, parking" wrote one business owner in
response to the request to list top three issues for the next two years.
"How my customers will park. Whether my sales will drop. Access to my
business and parking lot" wrote another.

The preliminary results were announced at a January 15 construction
meeting, attended by University Avenue business owners, who heard from
Senators Patricia Torres Ray and Ellen Anderson, Representatives Erin
Murphy and Alice Hausman, St. Paul council members Russ Stark and Melvin
Carter, Minneapolis council member Cam Gordon, and Ramsey County
commissioners Toni Carter and Peter McLaughlin.

Next UABA meeting: January 29
Preserving Parking on University Avenue
Thursday, January 29th, 2009
7:30AM - 9:30AM, Coffee and light breakfast served
Central Corridor Resource Center: 1080 University Avenue, SE corner of
University and Lexington Pkwy

Betty Charles, owner of the Shear Pleasure salon, has been in business on
University Avenue for 30 years in business. After the meeting, she said
her salon needs on-street parking - not a lot, but it needs to be there
for her customers.

The Central Corridor plan calls for an 83 percent reduction in on-street
parking on University Avenue between 29th Street and Rice, leaving an
average of only 2.5 parking spaces per block, according to analyses and
maps prepared by U-Plan.

At the meeting, UABA staff and officers repeatedly warned that the meeting
was "not a referendum on light rail," which was seen as inevitably coming.
Rather, the meeting was billed as an opportunity to hear from assembled
public officials, all of whom expressed deep concern and empathy for the
struggles of small businesses and a commitment to mitigating the negative
impact that construction of the Central Corridor will have. What was
missing was any concrete proposal or plan. A Met Council document sets out
"parking management strategies" that focus heavily on limiting side-street
parking to two hours and strengthening parking enforcement.

State Representative Alice Hausman echoed the frustration that business
owners expressed in the UABA survey:

What you are experiencing is - entities that plan these projects often do
not do well.

When I look at the survey results, you feel remote from the Metropolitan
Council. I think that, too, on all the problems we face, the biggest
problem is getting the attention of anyone who can do anything about it.

There is a sense in which governance has been a stumbling bloc  - an
appointed Met Council that seems remote. There will be discussion this
year [in the legislature] about governance models that are more grounded
in local officials that have to make it work.

[Putting LRT on major 4-lane city roads is done with malice aforethought,
as I see it. Small businesses are targeted; after they die, big boxes will
take their customers and their land and put up big parking lots, forcing
most local customers to them and their absentee-owner cash registers. A
war on the city to make it just like the faceless big-box suburbs. More
cars, more paved lots, more pollution.  LRT can go along the freeway, or
on old rail lines, or NOT EXIST. Arrogant advocates always say something
they want is "inevitable", when the only way it is is if we buy their BS.
Don't let them ram it down our throats.  -ed]

--------12 of 15--------

Two Santa Clauses or
How The Republican Party Has Conned America for Thirty Years
by Thom Hartmann
Published on Monday, January 26, 2009 by

This weekend, House Republican leader John Boehner played out the role of
Jude Wanniski on NBC's "Meet The Press."

Odds are you've never heard of Jude, but without him Reagan never would
have become a "successful" president, Republicans never would have taken
control of the House or Senate, Bill Clinton never would have been
impeached, and neither George Bush would have been president.

When Barry Goldwater went down to ignominious defeat in 1964, most
Republicans felt doomed (among them the then-28-year-old Wanniski).
Goldwater himself, although uncomfortable with the rising religious right
within his own party and the calls for more intrusion in people's
bedrooms, was a diehard fan of Herbert Hoover's economic worldview.

In Hoover's world (and virtually all the Republicans since reconstruction
with the exception of Teddy Roosevelt), market fundamentalism was a
virtual religion. Economists from Ludwig von Mises to Friedrich Hayek to
Milton Friedman had preached that government could only make a mess of
things economic, and the world of finance should be left to the Big Boys -
the Masters of the Universe, as they sometimes called themselves - who
ruled Wall Street and international finance.

Hoover enthusiastically followed the advice of his Treasury Secretary,
multimillionaire Andrew Mellon, who said in 1931: "Liquidate labor,
liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate. Purge the
rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will
come down... enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less
competent people."

Thus, the Republican mantra was: "Lower taxes, reduce the size of
government, and balance the budget."

The only problem with this ideology from the Hooverite perspective was
that the Democrats always seemed like the bestowers of gifts, while the
Republicans were seen by the American people as the stingy Scrooges, bent
on making the lives of working people harder all the while making richer
the very richest. This, Republican strategists since 1930 knew, was no way
to win elections.

Which was why the most successful Republican of the 20th century up to
that time, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had been quite happy with a top income
tax rate on millionaires of 91 percent. As he wrote to his brother Edgar
Eisenhower in a personal letter on November 8, 1954:

"[T]o attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government
cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people
firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our
country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort,
we will lose everything--even to a possible and drastic change in the
Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon
'moderation' in government.

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security,
unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you
would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a
tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things.
Among them are H. L. Hunt [you possibly know his background], a few other
Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from
other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

Goldwater, however, rejected the "liberalism" of Eisenhower, Rockefeller,
and other "moderates" within his own party. Extremism in defense of
liberty was no vice, he famously told the 1964 nominating convention, and
moderation was no virtue. And it doomed him and his party.

And so after Goldwater's defeat, the Republicans were again lost in the
wilderness just as after Hoover's disastrous presidency. Even four years
later when Richard Nixon beat LBJ in 1968, Nixon wasn't willing to embrace
the economic conservatism of Goldwater and the economic true believers in
the Republican Party. And Jerry Ford wasn't, in their opinions, much
better. If Nixon and Ford believed in economic conservatism, they were
afraid to practice it for fear of dooming their party to another forty
years in the electoral wilderness.

By 1974, Jude Wanniski had had enough. The Democrats got to play Santa
Claus when they passed out Social Security and Unemployment checks - both
programs of the New Deal - as well as when their "big government" projects
like roads, bridges, and highways were built giving a healthy union
paycheck to construction workers. They kept raising taxes on businesses
and rich people to pay for things, which didn't seem to have much effect
at all on working people (wages were steadily going up, in fact), and that
made them seem like a party of Robin Hoods, taking from the rich to fund
programs for the poor and the working class. Americans loved it. And every
time Republicans railed against these programs, they lost elections.

Everybody understood at the time that economies are driven by demand.
People with good jobs have money in their pockets, and want to use it to
buy things. The job of the business community is to either determine or
drive that demand to their particular goods, and when they're successful
at meeting the demand then factories get built, more people become
employed to make more products, and those newly-employed people have a
paycheck that further increases demand.

Wanniski decided to turn the classical world of economics - which had
operated on this simple demand-driven equation for seven thousand years -
on its head. In 1974 he invented a new phrase - "supply side economics" -
and suggested that the reason economies grew wasn't because people had
money and wanted to buy things with it but, instead, because things were
available for sale, thus tantalizing people to part with their money. The
more things there were, the faster the economy would grow.

At the same time, Arthur Laffer was taking that equation a step further.
Not only was supply-side a rational concept, Laffer suggested, but as
taxes went down, revenue to the government would go up!

Neither concept made any sense - and time has proven both to be colossal
idiocies - but together they offered the Republican Party a way out of the

Ronald Reagan was the first national Republican politician to suggest that
he could cut taxes on rich people and businesses, that those tax cuts
would cause them to take their surplus money and build factories or import
large quantities of cheap stuff from low-labor countries, and that the
more stuff there was supplying the economy the faster it would grow.
George Herbert Walker Bush - like most Republicans of the time - was
horrified. Ronald Reagan was suggesting "Voodoo Economics," said Bush in
the primary campaign, and Wanniski's supply-side and Laffer's tax-cut
theories would throw the nation into such deep debt that we'd ultimately
crash into another Republican Great Depression.

But Wanniski had been doing his homework on how to sell supply-side
economics. In 1976, he rolled out to the hard-right insiders in the
Republican Party his "Two Santa Clauses" theory, which would enable the
Republicans to take power in America for the next thirty years.

Democrats, he said, had been able to be "Santa Clauses" by giving people
things from the largesse of the federal government. Republicans could do
that, too - spending could actually increase. Plus, Republicans could be
double Santa Clauses by cutting people's taxes! For working people it
would only be a small token - a few hundred dollars a year on average -
but would be heavily marketed. And for the rich it would amount to
hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts. The rich, in turn, would use
that money to import or build more stuff to market, thus increasing supply
and stimulating the economy. And that growth in the economy would mean
that the people still paying taxes would pay more because they were
earning more.

There was no way, Wanniski said, that the Democrats could ever win again.
They'd have to be anti-Santas by raising taxes, or anti-Santas by cutting
spending. Either one would lose them elections.

When Reagan rolled out Supply Side Economics in the early 80s,
dramatically cutting taxes while exploding (mostly military) spending,
there was a moment when it seemed to Wanniski and Laffer that all was
lost. The budget deficit exploded and the country fell into a deep
recession - the worst since the Great Depression - and Republicans
nationwide held their collective breath. But David Stockman came up with a
great new theory about what was going on - they were "starving the beast"
of government by running up such huge deficits that Democrats would never,
ever in the future be able to talk again about national health care or
improving Social Security - and this so pleased Alan Greenspan, the Fed
Chairman, that he opened the spigots of the Fed, dropping interest rates
and buying government bonds, producing a nice, healthy goose to the
economy. Greenspan further counseled Reagan to dramatically increase taxes
on people earning under $37,800 a year by increasing the Social Security
(FICA/payroll) tax, and then let the government borrow those newfound
hundreds of billions of dollars off-the-books to make the deficit look
better than it was.

Reagan, Greenspan, Winniski, and Laffer took the federal budget deficit
from under a trillion dollars in 1980 to almost three trillion by 1988,
and back then a dollar could buy far more than it buys today. They and
George HW Bush ran up more debt in eight years than every president in
history, from George Washington to Jimmy Carter, combined. Surely this
would both starve the beast and force the Democrats to make the
politically suicidal move of becoming deficit hawks.

And that's just how it turned out. Bill Clinton, who had run on an
FDR-like platform of a "new covenant" with the American people that would
strengthen the institutions of the New Deal, strengthen labor, and
institute a national health care system, found himself in a box. A few
weeks before his inauguration, Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin sat him
down and told him the facts of life: he was going to have to raise taxes
and cut the size of government. Clinton took their advice to heart, raised
taxes, balanced the budget, and cut numerous programs, declaring an "end
to welfare as we know it" and, in his second inaugural address, an "end to
the era of big government." He was the anti-Santa Claus, and the result
was an explosion of Republican wins across the country as Republican
politicians campaigned on a platform of supply-side tax cuts and pork-rich
spending increases.

Looking at the wreckage of the Democratic Party all around Clinton by
1999, Winniski wrote a gloating memo that said, in part: "We of course
should be indebted to Art Laffer for all time for his Curve... But as the
primary political theoretician of the supply-side camp, I began arguing
for the 'Two Santa Claus Theory' in 1974. If the Democrats are going to
play Santa Claus by promoting more spending, the Republicans can never
beat them by promoting less spending. They have to promise tax cuts..."

Ed Crane, president of the Libertarian CATO Institute, noted in a memo
that year: "When Jack Kemp, Newt Gingich, Vin Weber, Connie Mack and the
rest discovered Jude Wanniski and Art Laffer, they thought they'd died and
gone to heaven. In supply-side economics they found a philosophy that gave
them a free pass out of the debate over the proper role of government.
Just cut taxes and grow the economy: government will shrink as a
percentage of GDP, even if you don't cut spending. That's why you rarely,
if ever, heard Kemp or Gingrich call for spending cuts, much less the
elimination of programs and departments."

George W. Bush embraced the Two Santa Claus Theory with gusto, ramming
through huge tax cuts - particularly a cut to a maximum 15 percent income
tax rate on people like himself who made their principle income from
sitting around the pool waiting for their dividend or capital gains checks
to arrive in the mail - and blowing out federal spending. Bush even
out-spent Reagan, which nobody had ever thought would again be possible.

And it all seemed to be going so well, just as it did in the early 1920s
when a series of three consecutive Republican presidents cut income taxes
on the uber-rich from over 70 percent to under 30 percent. In 1929, pretty
much everybody realized that instead of building factories with all that
extra money, the rich had been pouring it into the stock market, inflating
a bubble that - like an inexorable law of nature - would have to burst.
But the people who remembered that lesson were mostly all dead by 2005,
when Jude Wanniski died and George Gilder celebrated the Reagan/Bush
supply-side-created bubble economies in a Wall Street Journal eulogy:

"...Jude's charismatic focus on the tax on capital gains redeemed the
fiscal policies of four administrations. ... [T]he capital-gains tax has
come erratically but inexorably down -- while the market capitalization of
U.S. equities has risen from roughly a third of global market cap to close
to half. These many trillions in new entrepreneurial wealth are a true
warrant of the worth of his impact. Unbound by zero-sum economics, Jude
forged the golden gift of a profound and passionate argument that the
establishments of the mold must finally give way to the powers of the
mind. He audaciously defied all the Buffetteers of the trade gap, the
moldy figs of the Phillips Curve, the chic traders in money and principle,
even the stultifying pillows of the Nobel Prize."

In reality, his tax cuts did what they have always done over the past 100
years - they initiated a bubble economy that would let the very rich skim
the cream off the top just before the ceiling crashed in on working

The Republicans got what they wanted from Wanniski's work. They held power
for thirty years, made themselves trillions of dollars, cut organized
labor's representation in the workplace from around 25 percent when Reagan
came into office to around 8 of the non-governmental workforce today, and
left such a massive deficit that some misguided "conservative" Democrats
are again clamoring to shoot Santa with working-class tax hikes and
entitlement program cuts.

And now Boehner, McCain, Brooks, and the whole crowd are again clamoring
to be recognized as the ones who will out-Santa Claus the Democrats. You'd
think after all the damage they've done that David Gregory would have
simply laughed Boehner off the program - much as the American people did
to the Republicans in the last election - although Gregory is far too much
a gentleman for that. Instead, he merely looked incredulous; it was

The Two Santa Claus theory isn't dead, as we can see from today's
Republican rhetoric. Hopefully, though, reality will continue to sink in
with the American people and the massive fraud perpetrated by Wanniski,
Reagan, Laffer, Graham, Bush(s), and all their "conservative" enablers
will be seen for what it was and is. And the Obama administration can get
about the business of repairing the damage and recovering the stolen
assets of these cheap hustlers.

Thom Hartmann (thom at is a Project Censored
Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally
syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio
Network. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of
Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance
and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People: A Call To Take Back
America," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against
the Middle Class and What We Can Do About It," and "Cracking The Code: The
Art and Science of Political Persuasion." His newest book, due out this
summer, is Threshold.

--------13 of 15--------

How Obama's New Rules Keep Intact
The Torture Ban That Doesn't Ban Torture
January 26, 2009

If you're lying on the slab still breathing, with your torturer hanging
over you, you don't much care if he is an American or a mere United
States-sponsored trainee.

When President Obama declared flatly this week that "the United States
will not torture" many people wrongly believed that he'd shut the practice
down, when in fact he'd merely repositioned it.

Obama's Executive Order bans some - not all - US officials from
torturing but it does not ban any of them, himself included, from
sponsoring torture overseas.

Indeed, his policy change affects only a slight percentage of US-culpable
tortures and could be completely consistent with an increase in US-backed
torture worldwide.

The catch lies in the fact that since Vietnam, when US forces often
tortured directly, the US has mainly seen its torture done for it by proxy
- paying, arming, training and guiding foreigners doing it, but usually
being careful to keep Americans at least one discreet step removed.

That is, the US tended to do it that way until Bush and Cheney changed
protocol, and had many Americans laying on hands, and sometimes taking
digital photos.

The result was a public relations fiasco that enraged the US establishment
since by exposing US techniques to the world it diminished US power.

But despite the outrage, the fact of the matter was that the Bush/Cheney
tortures being done by Americans were a negligible percentage of all of
the tortures being done by US clients.

For every torment inflicted directly by Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan,
Guantanamo and the secret prisons, there were many times more being meted
out by US-sponsored foreign forces.

Those forces were and are operating with US military, intelligence,
financial or other backing in Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia,
Pakistan, Jordan, Indonesia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Colombia, Nigeria, and
the Philippines, to name some places, not to mention the tortures
sans-American-hands by the US-backed Iraqis and Afghans.

What the Obama dictum ostensibly knocks off is that small percentage of
torture now done by Americans while retaining the overwhelming bulk of the
system's torture, which is done by foreigners under US patronage.

Obama could stop backing foreign forces that torture, but he has chosen
not to do so.

His Executive Order instead merely pertains to treatment of "
individual in the custody or under the effective control of an officer,
employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or detained
within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency
of the United States, in any armed conflict..." which means that it
doesn't even prohibit direct torture by Americans outside environments of
"armed conflict," which is where much torture happens anyway since many
repressive regimes aren't in armed conflict.

And even if, as Obama says, "the United States will not torture," it can
still pay, train, equip and guide foreign torturers, and see to it that
they, and their US patrons, don't face local or international justice.

This is a return to the status quo ante, the torture regime of Ford
through Clinton, which, year by year, often produced more US-backed
strapped-down agony than was produced during the Bush/Cheney years.

Under the old - now new again - proxy regime Americans would, say, teach
interrogation/torture, then stand in the next room as the victims
screamed, feeding questions to their foreign pupils. That's the way the US
did it in El Salvador under JFK through Bush Sr. (For details see my
"Behind the Death Squads: An exclusive report on the U.S. role in El
Salvador's official terror," The Progressive, May, 1984 ; the US Senate
Intelligence Committee report that piece sparked is still classified, but
the feeding of questions was confirmed to me by Intelligence Committee
Senators. See also my "Confessions of a Death Squad Officer," The
Progressive, March, 1986, and my "Comment," The New Yorker, Oct. 15,
1990,[regarding law, the US, and El Salvador]).

In Guatemala under Bush Sr. and Clinton (Obama's foreign policy mentors)
the US backed the army's G-2 death squad which kept comprehensive files on
dissidents and then electroshocked them or cut off their hands. (The file/
surveillance system was launched for them in the '60s and '70s by CIA/
State/ AID/ special forces; for the history see "Behind the Death Squads,"
cited above, and the books of Prof. Michael McClintock).

The Americans on the ground in the Guatemalan operation, some of whom I
encountered and named, effectively helped to run the G-2 but, themselves,
tiptoed around its torture chambers. (See my "C.I.A. Death Squad," The
Nation [US], April 17, 1995, "The Country Team," The Nation [US], June 5,
1995, letter exchange with US Ambassador Stroock, The Nation [US], May 29,
1995, and Allan Nairn and Jean-Marie Simon, "Bureaucracy of Death," The
New Republic, June 30, 1986).

It was a similar story in Bush Sr. and Clinton's Haiti - an operation run
by today's Obama people - where the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency)
helped launch the terrorist group FRAPH, the CIA paid its leader, and
FRAPH itsef laid the machetes on Haitian civilians, torturing and killing
as US proxies. (See my "Behind Haiti's paramilitaries: our man in FRAPH,"
The Nation [US], Oct 24, 1994, and "He's our S.O.B.," The Nation [US],
Oct. 31, 1994; the story was later confirmed on ABC TV's "This Week" by US
Secretary of State Warren Christopher).

In today's Thailand - a country that hardly comes to mind when most
people think of torture - special police and militaries get US gear and
training for things like "target selection" and then go out and torture
Thai Malay Muslms in the rebel deep south, and also sometimes (mainly
Buddhist) Burmese refugees and exploited northern and west coast workers.

Not long ago I visited a key Thai interrogator who spoke frankly about
army/ police/ intel torture and then closed our discussion by saying "Look
at this," and invited me into his back room.

It was an up to date museum of plaques, photos and awards from US and
Western intelligence, including commendations from the CIA
counter-terrorism center (then run by people now staffing Obama),
one-on-one photos with high US figures, including George W. Bush, a medal
from Bush, various US intel/ FBI/ military training certificates, a photo
of him with an Israeli colleague beside a tank in the Occupied
Territories, and Mossad, Shin Bet, Singaporean, and other interrogation
implements and mementos.

On my way out, the Thai intel man remarked that he was due to re-visit
Langley soon.

His role is typical. There are thousands like him worldwide. US proxy
torture dwarfs that at Guantanamo.

Many Americans, to their credit, hate torture. The Bush/Cheney escapade
exposed that.

But to stop it they must get the facts and see that Obama's ban does not
stop it, and indeed could even accord with an increase in US-sponsored
torture crime.

In lieu of action, the system will grind on tonight. More shocks,
suffocations, deep burns. And the convergence of thousands of complex
minds on one simple thought: 'Please, let me die.'

Allan Nairn writes the blog News and Comment at

--------14 of 15--------

"It's About Humanity" The BBC's Day of Shame
January 26, 2009

The BBC finds itself in a serious controversy every few years, but this is
the mother of all. The essence of the latest storm is this. A few days
ago, the Disasters Emergency Committee of the United Kingdom, an umbrella
group of thirteen leading charities, came out with a plan to launch a
television appeal to raise funds for humanitarian relief in Gaza. The
umbrella organization includes names like the British Red Cross, Save the
Children, Care International and Oxfam. The BBC refused to broadcast their
appeal. Its Director-General, Mark Thompson, and Chief Operating Officer,
Caroline Thomson, came out with two reasons. The corporation's
'impartiality would be compromised' and how could the BBC be certain that
money raised would go to the 'right people'?

The refusal, and the reasons given, by the BBC have infuriated many people
in Britain and abroad, where World Service has a devoted audience. There
have been angry demonstrations in London. More than ten thousand
complaints had been received by Sunday and the number was growing. Blogs
and newspaper websites are inundated with messages attacking the decision,
despite a determined counter-offensive by a handful of pro-Israel entries
that keep repeating themselves. Leaders of all major political parties
have criticized the corporation. They include ministers in a British
government that pursues pro-Israel policies. Christian clergymen and
prominent members of the British Jewish community have called upon the BBC
executives to reconsider their decision.

The Archbishop of York summed it all up when he said, "It is not a row
about impartiality, but rather about humanity." He compared the situation
to British military hospitals treating prisoners of war as a result of
their duty under the Geneva Conventions. "By declining the request of the
Disasters Emergency Committee," the Archbishop said, "the BBC has already
forsaken impartiality."

Not one BBC journalist I know agrees with the decision. Writing in the
Observer newspaper on January 25, 2009, the respected former Middle East
correspondent of the corporation, Tim Llewellyn, calls it 'a cowardly
decision' that 'betrays the values the BBC stands for'. John Kampfner,
another ex-correspondent, says in a recent article in the Guardian that,
apart from some honorable exceptions, the questioning of Israeli
spokespeople during the Gaza conflict has been weak compared with, for
example, the widely-acclaimed Channel 4 News. Kampfner's verdict - Israeli
officials have rarely been truly pressed on BBC outlets.

During my 23 years as a BBC journalist, there were many occasions when the
corporation stood up to outside pressure. During the Suez crisis in 1956,
the British government tried to force the BBC to tow the line in reporting
the invasion of Egypt as it began to falter. The corporation refused,
despite a real risk that it might be shut down. When Prime Minister Indira
Gandhi of India acquired authoritarian powers under emergency rule in the
1970s, foreign correspondents were ordered to submit all their reports to
the censors before filing. Mark Tully, the BBC Delhi correspondent,
refused to bow. Instead of submitting his reports to the censors, he took
the next plane to London.

In 1985, a month after the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, had
proclaimed that 'terrorists should be starved of the oxygen of publicity',
she learned that a BBC documentary had interviewed a senior figure in the
IRA, which was conducting an armed campaign against British rule in
Northern Ireland. Thatcher's government tried to ban the documentary, but
it was eventually shown. During my time as the BBC correspondent in
Afghanistan under the Communist regime of Najibullah, I was threatened
with expulsion several times. Every time, I handed in my passport to the
relevant official and asked him to issue an exit visa and expulsion order.
I knew I had the support from my employer. Every time, the Afghan
government withdrew the threat.

Why is today's BBC so timid? Not only is it due to the relentless pressure
on journalists and researchers since the launch of the 'war on terror' by
George W Bush and Tony Blair. The failure of leadership at the BBC has
also played a part. The corporation, under its charter, broadcasts in the
national interest. It does so at its best when this obligation is
interpreted in the widest possible sense, meaning the 'national interest'
is served by providing accurate, authoritative and the most wide-ranging
perspective on world events that the audiences will trust. The current
leadership of the BBC has failed in this important task. The refusal to
broadcast an appeal from the country's leading charities for funds for
humanitarian work in Gaza, to which the British government itself will
contribute, is difficult to understand for most people.

Editorial independence is about resisting the bully. It requires
protection against susceptibilities to pressure from the powerful in the
interest of objectivity and the need to give proper coverage to the weak.
Some years ago, for expediency and in the name of efficiency, the BBC
embarked on a drive to set up large news bureaus in a number of big cities
around the world. One such bureau is in Jerusalem, from where much of the
coverage of the Middle East is done. The recent Gaza conflict has mostly
been covered by BBC correspondents standing in front of cameras miles away
from the battle in the safety of the Israeli side and under the close
watch of their Israeli minders. Today, the Israelis have a stranglehold on
the BBC and it will go to any lengths not to offend them.

While the BBC, once the world's best broadcaster and still a good one,
fights for its reputation, other British news outlets have decided to
broadcast the appeal for Gaza. They have accepted the assurance from the
Disasters Emergency Committee that it is the committee's job to see the
aid reaches the right people. The Charity Commission supports this
assurance. And the BBC Director General stands isolated. Senior executives
congratulate themselves for their 'excellent coverage' on their own
channels. But the corporation has been found deficient when compared to
new media players like Al Jazeera English and Press TV. With the latest
storm over the Gaza appeal, the BBC also risks losing the battle for the
moral high ground. Imagine a day when Al Jazeera carries an appeal by
Britain's Disasters Emergency Committee while the British Broadcasting
Corporation refuses.

Deepak Tripathi, former BBC journalist, is a researcher and an author. His
works can be found on and he can be
reached at: DandATripathi [at]

[More evidence of the evil effects of Zionism. -ed]

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

 They put LRT
 down Lover's Lane; now there's no
 parking for lovers.


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