Progressive Calendar 02.14.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2009 13:22:48 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    02.14.09

1. Northtown vigil  2.14 2pm
2. GreenParty party 2.14 7pm
3. WAMM Val party   2.14 7pm

4. Stillwater vigil 2.15 1pm
5. Amnesty Intl     2.15 3pm
6. Single payer     2.15 3pm
7. RNC defense      2.15 4pm
8. Picking Bicking  2.15 6pm
9. Uganda           2.15 6pm

10. N-side/Capitol  2.16 9:45am
11. Peace walk      2.16 6pm RiverFalls WI
12. Palestine film  2.16 6:30pm
13. Gordon CAMpaign 2.16 7pm
14. Oxfam Action    2.16 7pm

15. Hazard/Bruininks   - On flagwaving MN National Guard to Iraq
16. SJP                - Hampshire College divests from Israel!
17. Alexander Cockburn - On the rocks
18. Schoenberg et al   - Happy Bday Darwin
19. Dave Barry         - Colonoscopy
20. Washington Post    - Valentine competition

--------1 of 20--------

From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 2.14 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday
2-3pm


--------2 of 20--------

From: farheen [at] farheenhakeem.org
Subject: GreenParty party 2.14 7pm

Show your love for the Green Party
5CD Green Party fundraiser

Saturday, February 14, 7:00PM-10:00PM
Common Roots Cafe 2558 Lyndale Ave. S Minneapolis, MN 55405 US
Suggested donation is $20

The 5CD GREEN PARTY in the past has helped candidates with event
organizing, advertisements, fundraisers, and volunteers.  This year we
want to support our candidates even further by utilizing the
infrastructure of older campaigns.  Grassroots movements can't happen
without people like you!

All you can eat dessert, wine, and friends.
Don't forget, you may eligible for a $50 Political Contribution
Reimbursement.
FFI:    Farheen Hakeem 612-395-5559 of farheen [at] farheenhakeem.org


--------3 of 20--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: WAMM Val party 2.14 7pm

WAMM's Third Annual Valentine's Party: "Love, not War"

Saturday, February 14, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. 1716 Dupont Avenue South,
Minneapolis. This Valentine Party is for every kind of love and passion
for anything or being. This year's celebration is dedicated to Unsung WAMM
Heroines - some Heroes - of the peace movement. Peace loving (but lively!)
company. Wine, coffee, hors d'oeuvres! Lots of fun! All are welcome!
Suggested Donation: $10.00 to $25.00. Sponsored by: WAMM. FFI: Call WAMM,
612-827-5364.


--------4 of 20--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 2.15 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
<http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/

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


--------5 of 20--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 2.15 3pm

Join us for our regular meeting on Sunday, February 15th, from 3:00 to
5:00 p.m. 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:
http://www.twincitiesamnesty.org/meetings.html


--------6 of 20--------

From: James Mayer <info [at] jamesmayer.org>
Subject: Single payer 2.15 3pm

MN Universal Health Care: Making it a Reality and Model for the U.S.
Part III- Discussion with a representative from Physicians for a National
Health Program!

February 15, 2009
Join in THE CONVERSATION.  TUNE YOUR RADIO TO: Of the People this Sunday,
February 15 at 3 p.m. on AM950 KTNF (formerly Air America Minnesota) with
Host James Mayer.

Join us for the 3rd program of our series of broadcasts about REAL
Universal Single Payer Health care with Dr. Ann Settgast, an internist in
St. Paul, Minnesota at the Center for International Health. She and host
James Mayer will discuss the urgent need for, and benefits of, Single
Payer Universal Health Care and what we can do to make it a reality. We
would like you to call in with examples of what happens to the lives of
people deprived of decent or adequate health care, and with questions or
suggestions about how to push our elected representatives to make
Universal, Single Payer a reality.

Threats to the health, strength and endurance of healthy democracy,
society and environment don't go away for the weekend.  Neither does the
bad news the corporate media establishment uses to make us feel alienated
from one another, shocked, depressed, or even helpless, and to distract us
from real priorities, realistic solutions and positive actions we can take
together.  But for a few weekend moments you can refresh and regenerate
your energy with James Mayer on Of the People, a place to go for good news
that the "news" corporations monopolizing our airwaves seldom let through:
 people taking action together, on real solutions.

Off-air, you can reach us by calling James Mayer at 651-238-3740, by
e-mail at info [at] jamesmayer.org [mailto:info [at] jamesmayer.org], or by U.S.
mail, address: James Mayer, 970 Raymond Ave, St. Paul, MN 55114.


--------7 of 20--------

From: info [at] rnc8.org
Subject: RNC defense 2.15 4pm

This is an open call to all people concerned about the RNC8 (who are
facing felony terrorism charges for organizing logistics and communication
around the RNC protests) and who are interested in standing up for our
right to dissent!

We propose the formation of a RNC8 Defense Committee ~ a collaborative
group of diverse community members interested in saying "Enough is
enough!"

Come to the first, full meeting of this new group.

Sunday, February 15th
4:00-6:00pm (but we're not afraid to end early!)
Walker Church basement (3104 16th Avenue South in Minneapolis)

At this meeting we will:
review the official proposal from the infrastructure working group and set
things in motion;
hear a brief update from RNC8;
and find opportunities to plug in!

Plans are developing to:
campaign against the Minnesota Patriot Act;
demand that all charges against the 8 be dropped;
and raise money for the RNC8 Defense Fund.

If you're inclined to defend American democracy, think dissent is
patriotic, fight the power or smash the state, then this might be the
right meeting for you!

For more information on the RNC8, the charges they face, and how you can
be involved, visit www.rnc8.org, or come see us on the 15th!

--
From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com>
This Sunday, we will kick off the new RNC 8 Defense Committee with a
meeting to set up our structure, pick a snazzy name, and start to plan
activities around getting rid of the Minnesota Patriot Act and supporting
the RNC 8's demand for justice.  Please join us in getting this important
new group off the ground.


--------8 of 20--------

From: Dave Bicking <dave [at] colorstudy.com>
Subject: Bicking campaign 2.15 6pm

Dave Bicking for City Council campaign meeting:
Sunday, February 15, 6:00pm
Dave's house:  3211 22nd Ave. S. (lower duplex), Minneapolis (Directions:
Just over two blocks south of Lake St. on 22nd Ave.  22nd Avenue is just
west of the Lake Street stop of the Hiawatha LRT.  There is also good bus
service along Lake St.)

There will be a meeting this Sunday evening for all those who would like
to help plan and organize my campaign for Mpls City Council.  We will talk
about long-term strategy, but also about steps we need to take right now.
We need to recruit members of a campaign team - people who can take
responsibility for various aspects of a campaign: volunteer coordinator,
events coordinator, graphic designer, etc.  We also need to prepare
campaign literature and content for the website, prepare for and publicize
an upcoming community forum, and plan our next campaign event /
fundraiser.

There are many ways to help with the campaign, and some of them do not
necessarily involve coming to meetings.  Please contact me if there are
specific ways you would like to volunteer, even if you are not interested
in or not available for meetings.

If you would like to help set the direction of the campaign, volunteer to
be on the campaign team, or just provide your ideas and suggestions, I
would appreciate it if you can come to the meeting this Sunday.  The
campaign has gotten off to a promising start, with lots of expressions of
support and a very encouraging level of donations.  We need to build on
this success, and I need your continuing help to stay on top of it all and
plan for the next 9 months.

Also, please mark your calendars now for a community forum of all the
candidates for City Council in Wards 2, 9 (mine), and 12:  Saturday,
February 21, 10am - noon, at Matthews Park, 2318 29th Ave. S., Mpls.

We need a major change in City government, so that it represents and
serves ALL of us.  Please come and be a part of that change!

Dave Bicking 612-276-1213


-------9 of 20--------

From: david unowsky <david.unowsky [at] gmail.com>
Subject: Uganda 2.15 6pm

Peter Eichstaedt discusses his book First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers
of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army - 6:00pm, Sunday, February 15, at
Magers & Quinn Booksellers.

For twenty years the Lord's Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, ravaged
northern Uganda with the mission of establishing a government based on his
bizarre blend of spiritualism and Christianity. A former witch doctor and
spirit medium, Kony claimed he not only could predict the future but could
also control the minds of his fighters. And control them he did: the LRA
consisted of children abducted from their homes. As initiation, boys were
forced to commit atrocities - murdering relatives and friends - and girls
were forced into sexual slavery and labor. Journalist Peter Eichstaedt has
visited the war-torn villages and refugee camps and has spoken to former
child soldiers, child "brides," and other victims. Told through the voices
of those who have suffered, this book chronicles how one of Africa's most
promising nations has been torn apart by a bloody and senseless war that
has gone largely unnoticed by the rest of the world.

Peter Eichstaedt is Africa Editor for the Institute of War and Peace
Reporting in The Hague. A veteran journalist, he has worked in locations
worldwide, including Eastern Europe, Afghanistan, and Uganda. He is the
author of *If You Poison Us: Uranium and Native Americans*.

For further information, contact: David Unowsky 612/822-4611
davidu [at] magersandquinn.com


--------10 of 20--------

From: "Heather Martens, Citizens for a Safer Minnesota"
Subject: N-side/Capitol 2.16 9:45am

Northside Day at the Capitol - Feb. 16th, 2009

Please join Citizens for a Safer Minnesota, PROTECT Minnesota and allies
from the Minneapolis Northside and statewide in our 2nd annual Day at the
Capitol!  We will advocate gun violence prevention as part of a Northside
Coalition day on public health and safety, economic development, and felon
re-integration. Please join us to speak to your legislators! The gun
violence issues will be closing the gun show loophole and stopping the
"Shoot First" bill.

SCHEDULE:  9:45 am we will rally at the state capitol and 11 am we will
begin our meetings with legislators Pre-register for this exciting day by
sending your name, address and telephone number to: csm [at] endgunviolence.com
OR give us a call at (651) 645-3271 Please let us know if you can come to
9:45 rally, an appointment with a legislator, or both.  We will make
appointments for you to meet your legislators and attend them with you.

If you can't attend but would like to help, please donate at
www.endgunviolence.com

What's good for the Northside is good for the state! See you on February
16th!


--------11 of 20--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Peace walk 2.16 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] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022


--------12 of 20--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Palestine film 2.16 6:30pm

FREE Monday Night at the Movies and Discussion: "Private," a Palestinian
Film

Monday, February 16, 6:30 p.m. St. Joan of Arc Church, 4537 Third Avenue
South, Minneapolis. Starring Palestinian filmmaker Mohammad Bakri as the
father of a Palestinian family living in a home where the top floor is
occupied by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, this beautiful
faux-documentary-style film brilliantly portrays intimate moments of
humanity and brutality to tell the larger story of Israeli occupation. 90
minutes. Sponsored by: the WAMM Third Monday Movies Committee. FFI: Call
WAMM, 612-827-5364.


--------13 of 20--------

From: Cam Gordon <CamGordon333 [at] msn.com>
Subject: Gordon CAMpaign 2.16 7pm

Our next Campaign Team meeting will be Monday, February 16th from 7 - 9 pm
at the Blue Moon Cafe on East Lake St. and 39th Ave. Come have fun and
help us plan and strategize for the active campaigm weeks ahead.

 Cam Gordon ward 2 CM


--------14 of 20--------

From: Oxfam Action Corps - MN <minnesota [at] oxfamactioncorps.org>
Subject: Oxfam Action 2.16 7pm

On the 3rd Monday of each month, we gather to plan our nonpartisan
grassroots activities. We've successfully organized events, lobbied
policymakers, and have used sheer creativity to stand up for meaningful
change. We meet at 7pm the unique Common Roots Café (2558 Lyndale Ave. S.,
Minneapolis).


--------15 of 20--------

Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 10:08:11 -0800 (PST)
From: johnny hazard <jhazard99 [at] yahoo.com>
Subject: Comment on the National Guard

I wrote to the president of the University of Minnesota when I learned of
the university's participation in pro-war propaganda and received this
response.

--- On Thu, 2/12/09, UPres <upres [at] umn.edu> wrote:
 From: UPres <upres [at] umn.edu>
 Subject: Re: Comment on the National Guard
 To: jhazard99 [at] yahoo.com
 Date: Thursday, February 12, 2009, 10:37 AM

Dear Mr. Hazard:

The University of Minnesota is proud to support our student veterans here
at the University and our troops overseas. Currently, between 600 and 700
veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are students at the
University of Minnesota. Several University colleges and departments work
with the National Guard to provide programs for returning veterans and
their families.

The banner was a small gesture to remind this Minnesota National Guard's
34th "Red Bull" Infantry Division that they are in our thoughts as they
left for their deployment on Feb. 10.

Sincerely,
Robert H. Bruininks
President

 johnny hazard wrote:
Greetings:

I'm a U alumnus and former Minnesota Daily writer. I'm shocked that you
have participated, personally and, worse, in the name of the university,
in an action in support of U.S. military action in Iraq. I demand a
retraction and a promise that the university will no longer be used as a
propaganda tool for wars of occupation.

John Hazard Minneapolis
-- 
Robert H. Bruininks President, University of Minnesota 202 Morrill Hall
100 Church Street SE Minneapolis, MN 55455 612 626-1616

[My intuition tells me RHB wants to hear from YOU. Don't disappoint him.
-ed]


--------16 of 20--------

From: SJP
Subject: Hampshire College Divests From Israel!

Hampshire College becomes first college in U.S. to divest from Israeli
Occupation!

THURSDAY, 12 FEBRUARY 2009 12:36
Jay Cassano Tel: 914-412-2181
Matan Cohen Tel: 434-409-3127
Kanya D'Almeida Tel: 860-208-1404
Dina Jacir Tel: 973-943-3520
Brian Van Slyke Tel: 708-707-1784
hampshiresjp@ gmail.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Students for Justice in Palestine

Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, has become the first of any college or
university in the U.S. to divest from companies on the grounds of their
involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

This landmark move is a direct result of a two-year intensive campaign by
the campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The group
pressured Hampshire College's Board of Trustees to divest from six
specific companies due to human rights concerns in occupied Palestine.
Over 800 students, professors, and alumni have signed SJP's "institutional
statement" calling for the divestment.

The proposal put forth by SJP was approved on Saturday, 7 Feb 2009 by the
Board. By divesting from these companies, SJP believes that Hampshire has
distanced itself from complicity in the illegal occupation and war crimes
of Israel.

Meeting minutes from a committee of Hampshire's Board of Trustees confirm
that "President Hexter acknowledged that it was the good work of SJP that
brought this issue to the attention of the committee."  This
groundbreaking decision follows in Hampshire's history of being the first
college in the country to divest from apartheid South Africa thirty-two
years ago, a decision based on similar human rights concerns. This
divestment was also a direct result of student pressure.

The divestment has so far been endorsed by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn,
Rashid Khalidi, Vice President of the EU Parliament Luisa Morganitini,
Cynthia McKinney, former member of the African National Congress Ronnie
Kasrils, Mustafa Barghouti, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, John Berger,
Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd,
among others.

The six corporations, all of which provide the Israeli military with
equipment and services in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza are:
Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation,
Motorola, and Terex (see attached info sheet for more information on these
corporations. ) Furthermore, our policy prevents the reinvestment in any
company involved in the illegal occupation.

SJP is responding to a call from Palestinian civil society for Boycott,
Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) as a way of bringing non- violent pressure
to bear on the state of Israel to end its violations of international law.
SJP is following in the footsteps of many noted groups and institutions
such as the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher
Education in the UK, the Israeli group Gush Shalom, the Congress of South
African Trade Unions, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and the
American Friends Service Committee.

As well as voicing our opposition to the illegal occupation and the
consistent human rights violations of the Palestinian people, we as
members of an institute of higher education see it as our moral
responsibility to express our solidarity with Palestinian students whose
access to education is severely inhibited by the Israeli occupation.

SJP has proven that student groups can organize, rally and pressure their
schools to divest from the illegal occupation. The group hopes that this
decision will pave the way for other institutions of higher learning in
the U.S. to take similar stands.

Please email hampshiresjp@ mail.com to schedule a phone interview.


--------17 of 20--------

On the Rocks
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
CounterPunch
February 13 - 15, 2009

I write these words at the end of a week in which:

A new Democratic president, Barack Obama, via his Attorney General, has
explicitly endorsed Bush's policy on renditions and Bush's refusal to
recognize the jurisdiction of US courts in any legal proceedings in this
regard; also a week in which Obama's solicitor general has explicitly
endorsed  Bush's policy on enemy combatants.

I write not long after the New York Times reported that state welfare
rolls are actually shrinking in months when unemployment has risen to real
totals of 17 and 18 per cent - 1.7 million in Dec and Jan, hence when more
and more people are in desperate straits. This is a consequence of a
former Democratic president's "reform" of welfare in the mid-90s.

Back then, Clinton reached out in the spirit of bipartisanship to
Republicans to effect this piece of legislative savagery. In the same
spirit of bipartisanship Obama invited a New Hampshire right-winger, Judd
Gregg, to be his Commerce Secretary, while simultaneously pledging that
Judd's vacated seat would be filled by - a Republican!  Ultimately, Judd
contemptuously kicked away the proffered hand of friendship.

For much of last year progressives rallied support for Obama - not just
with scenarios of the destruction that would be wrought by John McCain,
but with screams of fear at the menace of right-wing populist insurgency,
embodied in the supposed threats to mainstream consensus represented by
Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin. You know, fascists; at least two
of them Christian fascists. Head for the deep shelters and vote Democrat!
Vote for change.

The menace of the Christian hordes?  Christians now exult that Obama is
talking of a waiver on constitutional prohibitions concerning federal
support for faith-based initiatives. As the Los Angeles Times
editorialized angrily last week, "Like his predecessor, Obama has
supported providing federal grants and contracts to social-service
programs operated by religious groups. The surprise - an unpleasant one -
is that he is equivocating on a campaign promise to condition such aid on
an agreement by religious charities not to discriminate in hiring".

And meanwhile, in America as across the planet, it's economic devastation,
near and far. Here in northern California I walk into a local plumbing
store, a large place used by building contractors. There's one other man
in the store, buying a $5 plastic fitting. One of the owners says there's
zero new construction in the area. "We fix a few toilets. The only people
actually building  are the marijuana growers down in southern Humboldt".

Take out Humboldt's good fortune in being in the Emerald Triangle and
multiply by every plumbing store in America. Throw in the idled lumber
yards, construction stores, paint suppliers, and building crews. Count in
the car lots that are going out of business because the banks won't
finance car loans. Go to the lost auto assembly jobs. It tots up to job
loss across America just in December and January of 1,175,000. And that's
an underestimate. Every president since Reagan, particularly Clinton, has
jimmied the unemployment criteria to produce an undercount. The actual
number for the two months is nearer one and three quarter million. The
actual total unemployment rate, according to statistician John Williams,
on pre-Reagan criteria, rose to 18 per cent in January, from 17.5 per cent
in December.

These are numbers out of the great Depression of the 1930s and it's going
to get worse in the next few months as businesses put up their shutters.
The air is whistling out of the American economy. We're now heading into
the Feb-May trough dreaded by every retail store on every Main Street in
America. Consumer spending is dropping longer and faster than at any time
since they began keeping records in 1947. A quarter of all home-buyers are
late on mortgage payments or in foreclosure. People inch through monthly
payments on maxed out credit cards.

My own state of California - often touted as the eighth largest economy in
the world - can't pay its bills. There's a shortfall in revenues and it
can't sell enough bonds. On January 26 the California State Controller
John Chiang announced that the state is going to print its own money. If
the state owes us money we'll get this scrip as IOUs.  Who knows, in
happier times maybe we can hawk them on e-Bay. Student aid and payments to
the disabled and needy will also come in the form of IOUs.  Governor
Schwarzenegger and his aides are negotiating with the banks to get them to
accept the IOUs as deposits.

America is in economic meltdown. In Washington President Obama has been
battling for his stimulus plan, with the Congress now totting up the exact
total - somewhere around $800 billion.  Although it's the largest such
package in US history the New York Times' Paul Krugman, resplendent with
his Nobel prize for Economics, has torn into it for being way too skimpy
and conservative, far too respectful of Republican prejudices against
hand-outs to anyone without a 10021 zip code, a Wall St business address
and a mansion in Connecticut or Long Island.

The Republicans have elected to array themselves in implacable opposition
to the package - surely the stupidest political strategy available for
public inspection since Walter Mondale tried to beat Reagan in 1984 by
promising to raise taxes. One of the maddest moments was when they raised
Herculean guffaws at money requested for a program trying to figure out
the decline of the honey bee. What use is the honey bee - damn bug,
buzzing around in the spring, pollinating!

When Obama went last week to Elkhart, Indiana, where official unemployment
is running at over 15 per cent because no one wants to buy a recreational
vehicle, he invited Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar to come along.
Lugar declined - a petty, sectarian display of a sort which could cost
Republicans badly in the 2010 midterm elections.

Obama's package is meant to generate three to four million new jobs which
will maybe cope with job losses from December through next April - if
we're lucky. It's piecemeal: a wad of money for schools, for health
insurance for all children, for "infrastructure" - which means good times
for cement pourers. But as Paul Craig Roberts has pointed out many times
on this site, to clamber out of this terrible economic hole Uncle Sam has
to start making things he can sell abroad. That way the nation can offset
the problem of running huge deficits importing things from China.
"Infrastructure repair"  doesn't do that. It causes traffic jams for the
next ten years as the highway lobby gets its new overpasses, underpasses,
bridges, freeway exits and toll-road expressways, none of which can be
sold overseas and all of which don't restore America's near-dead
manufacturing economy.

Obama's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner tried to sell his bank bail-out
plan earlier this week. He deservedly drew an F because in his mumbled
prospectus he conceded he didn't actually have a plan, but was toiling
night and day to come up with one. Markets duly plunged. In outline, the
prospective trillion-plus plan has the usual forced perspective of a
banker, whose idea of rescue is to lend people money, thus drowning them
in even more debt. Americans don't need more debt. They need debt relief.

Obama's bailout plan, added to the FY 2009 budget deficit he has inherited
from Bush, opens a expenditure hole of about $3 trillion.  As Roberts,
former assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan years, pointed
out here last week, "Who is going to purchase $3 trillion of US Treasury
bonds? Not the US consumer.  The consumer is out of work and out of money.
Private sector credit market debt is 174 per cent of GDP". The sum is too
big for the increasingly wary Chinese and Saudis to underwrite by buying
Treasury bills where interest yields are have been so low that one joke,
quoted by CounterPuncher P. Sainath, is that the US Treasury is the only
institution in the world to be actually abiding by Islamic prohibitions on
usury.

Failing everything else, there's the government printing press, which can
roll out the dollars and add inflation to unemployment.

The Republicans don't have a plan, and though Obama has been energetically
selling his package even his fans are beginning to wonder if he really has
a convincing vision either. Americans can understand something big in the
way of make-work - like Roosevelt's dams, or the construction of the
interstate highway system in the 1950s, or Kennedy's space project or
even, in its ultimate absurdity and waste, Reagan's Star Wars plan, still
unworkable and now consuming 19 per cent of the Defense budget. There's
nothing rhetorically tremendous in Obama's stimulus plan, just a billion
here and a billion there, on and on in an endless array.

There's always something cloudy about Obama, just when I've almost
persuaded myself to like the guy, always hedging his bets, doffing his cap
to the ruling powers, even micromanaging his press conferences so there
are no follow-up questions. That meant last week he didn't have to deal
with Helen Thomas following up on her initial inquiry as to whether he
could name a nuclear power in the Middle East. Obama stalled until his
aides could force Thomas to sit back down. The blacks his press secretary
installed in the front row said later they were just put there as window
dressing.

America is broke but here's Obama, seemingly set on boosting a US force in
Afghanistan where, according to the Center for Budgetary Analysis, it
costs $775,000 per year to send a single soldier.  And, as I noted at the
outset, this week Obama punched his core supporters twice in the stomach
by committing his administration to the same unconstitutional canons of
secrecy and claims of executive immunity to the rule of law that made Bush
one of the most hated presidents in history. His staff can't seem to nail
down safe appointments. In sum, in these crucial early weeks, Obama seems
to have trouble setting his compass, as the ship heads towards the rocks.
But hey, at least we have a Democrat in the White House, saving us from
endless war, constitutional abuses and bank bailouts, right?

Alexander Cockburn can be reached at alexandercockburn [at] asis.com


--------18 of 20--------

From: Mike Schoenberg <geomike [at] winternet.com>
Subject: Happy Bday Darwin

Today is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin. To commemorate that
event, I'd like to bring to the attention of this august group an
article in the January 2008 issue of  /Scientific American /by Steve
Mirsky/. /It is called "What's Good for the Group" and discusses the
evolution of group survival traits as well as individual survival
traits. The example, for our edification, is from a bacteria called
"/Psuedomonas flourescens/."

"INDIVIDUAL SELECTION
""Altuist" Psuedomonas flourescens bacteria carry a gene for secreting
a polymer that enables mats of bacteria to float and thus access oxygen
easily; "freeloaders" lack the gene. Producing the polymer costs extra
energy, so freeloaders reproduce faster than altruists. Natural
selection acting on individuals alone would drive the altruists to
extinction.

"GROUP SELECTION
"But group selection appears to operate, too - at least in the
laboratory - favoring mats of P. flourescens in which some altruists
persist. Only mats that include enough polymer secreting altruists will
float and thus survive to reproduce themselves, altruists included. Mats
in which individual selection leads to too many freeloaders, will sink,
drowning the entire bacterial colony. Such mats have no progeny."

Conservative Social Darwinists have preached to us about the "Survival
of the Fittest," implying that fitness occurs only on the level of the
individual. Apparently that isn't always the case. Sometimes too many
efficient individuals in a group (colony, stare, nation, etc.) will lead
to the demise of that group. Will we float or sink?

[It would be nice if all billionaires would go bye-bye beneath the waves,
taking their family dynasties with them. Glug glug. It's my simple prayer
for peace and jsutice. -ed]


--------19 of 20--------

Colonoscopy
by Dave Barry

I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an
appointment for a colonoscopy A few days later, in his office, Andy showed
me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all
over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis.

Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough,
reassuring and patient manner I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really
hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote,
 'HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!'

I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription
for a product called 'MoviPrep,' which comes in a box large enough to hold
a microwave oven.  I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now
suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of
America 's enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous.
Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In
accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all
I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor.
Then, in the evening, I took the moviPrep.

You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then
you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric
system, a liter is about 32 gallons.) Then you have to drink the whole
jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes - and here I am
being kind - like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a
hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great
sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose, watery bowel
movement may result.' This is kind of like saying that after you jump off
your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but:
Have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the
MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you
wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much
confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything.
And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink
another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your
bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not
even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep. The next morning
my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried
about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts
of MoviPrep spurtage.  I was thinking, 'What if I spurt on Andy?' How do
you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be
enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and
totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to
a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little
curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital
garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on,
makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand.
Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was
already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their
MoviPrep.  At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but
then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it
to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You
would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where
Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the
17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I
was seriously nervous at this point. Andy had me roll over on my left
side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in
my hand. There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song
was 'Dancing Queen' by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs
that could be playing during this particular procedure, 'Dancing Queen'
had to be the least appropriate.

'You want me to turn it up?' said Andy, from somewhere behind me. 'Ha
ha,' I said. And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for
more than a decade.  If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am
going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, ABBA was yelling
'Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine,' and the next moment, I
was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood. Andy was
looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even
more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over, and that my colon
had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal
organ.

ABOUT THE WRITER> Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist
for the Miami Herald.  On the subject of Colonoscopies. .. Colonoscopies
are no joke, but these comments during the exam were quite humorous.... .
A physician claimed that the following are actual comments made by his
patients (predominately male) while he was performing their colonoscopies:

   1. 'Take it easy, Doc You're boldly going where no man has gone before!
   2. 'Find Amelia Earhart yet?'
   3. 'Can you hear me NOW?'
   4. 'Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?'
   5. 'You know, in Arkansas, we're now legally married.'
   6. 'Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?'
   7. 'You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out...'
   8. 'Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!'
   9. 'If your hand doesn't fit, you must quit!
   10. 'Hey Doc, let me know if you find my dignity.'
   11. 'You used to be an executive at Enron, didn't you?'
   12. 'God, now I know why I am not gay.'
 And the best one of all.
   13. 'Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up
 there?'


--------20 of 20--------

Subject: Washington Post VALENTINE Competition]

THESE ARE ENTRIES TO A WASHINGTON POST COMPETITION
ASKING FOR A TWO-LINE RHYME
WITH THE MOST ROMANTIC FIRST LINE,
AND THE LEAST ROMANTIC  SECOND LINE:

1. My darling, my lover, my beautiful wife:
Marrying you has screwed up my life.

2. My love, you take my breath away.
What have you stepped in to smell this way?

3. Kind, intelligent, loving and hot;
This describes everything you are not.

4. Love may be beautiful, love may be bliss,
But I only slept with you 'cause I was pissed.

5. I thought that I could love no other
-- that is until I met your brother.

6. Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are
you.
But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead, the sugar bowl's
empty and so is your head.

7. I want to feel your sweet embrace;
But don't take that paper bag off your face.

8. I love your smile, your face, and your eyes
Damn, I'm good at telling lies!

9. I see your face when I am dreaming.
That's why I always wake up screaming.

10. My feelings for you no words can tell,
Except for maybe 'Go to hell.'

11. What inspired this amorous rhyme?
Two parts vodka, one part lime.

[12. You want to get close and warm and snuggly;
you - the reason our kids are so ugly.  -ed add]


------------------------------------------------------------------------------

   - David Shove             shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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