Progressive Calendar 04.29.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Wed, 29 Apr 2009 03:57:14 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   04.29.09

1. Aeon/housing      4.29 7:30am
2. Positive aging    4.29 11am
3. RNC 8 defense     4.29 7pm
4. Xcel rate hearing 4.29 7pm

5. Lavender awards   4.30 4pm
6. Eagan peace vigil 4.30 4:30pm
7. Northtown vigil   4.30 5pm
8. Labor v Starbucks 4.30 7pm
9. Palestine         4.30 7pm

10. Robert Parry     - Democrats' "battered wife syndrome"
11. Harvey Wasserman - Who pays for America's Chernobyl roulette?
12. ed               - Too good for the rich  (haiku)
13. ed               - Dems dig bondage  (haiku)

--------1 of 13--------

From: Amy Pfarr Walker <apfarrwalker [at] aeonmn.org>
Subject: Aeon/housing 4.29 7:30am

Be inspired as you hear how Aeon meets a vital community need by building
affordable homes and connecting people to stabilizing resources.

Join us at the 2009 Beyond Bricks & Mortar fundraising breakfast held 7:30
- 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 29 at the Hilton in downtown Minneapolis.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Jenny Johnson at 612-341-3148
x237 or jjohnson [at] aeonmn.org


--------2 of 13--------

From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at] driscollgroup.com>
Subject: Positive aging 4.29 11am

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29  11:00AM
POSITIVE AGING: Living it Up to the End

News reports and magazines are full of stories and warnings and worries
over the approaching boomer bubble of boomers over 60 years of age, the
puzzling spike in cases of dementias and disorders, i.e., Alzheimer's,
Parkinson's and related disabling brain function. You'd think that any of
of us have half a chance to live out our lives with any sense of robust
abandon and engaging work and play alike. Yes, almost all of us have had
family members or friends afflicted with such disorders, but a major
movement has been under way for years urging us to stop accepting our last
20, 30 years as death-in-waiting.  Positive Aging takes in a wide swath of
affirmative living, mental and physical engagement of everything life has
to offer, including lifelong learning, satisfying sex, and a wide variety
of active mental and physical contributions to our communities, our
families, our children and grandchildren.

TTT's ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN talk with authors, scholars, and
aging advocates Dr. Peter Whitehouse and Connie Goldman about staying
alive all the way out, and, perhaps, engage a bit of controversy over
perception of just what has been going on in the brains of aging Americans
that removes them from conscious participation in their own lives well
before their time. Dr.  Whitehouse speaks at The Marsh Fitness Center in
Minnetonka Wednesday at 7:00PM and Thursday at 3:00PM in Mayo Auditorium
on the University of Minnesota Campus delivering the Center for
Spirituality and Healing's annual Ruth Stricker Mind-Body Lecture.

GUESTS:
 CONNIE GOLDMAN - positive aging advocate, activist and author of The
Ageless Spirit: Reflections on Living Life to the Fullest in Mid-life and
the Years Beyond; Connie Goldman is a former MPR and NPR reporter/
commentator, doyenne of arts and aging on All Things Considered.
 DR. PETER WHITEHOUSE - geriatric neurologist, cognitive neuroscientist,
and "global" bioethicist; author, The Myth of Alzheimer's.

 AND YOU! CALL IN - 612-341-0980
CAN'T GET US OVER THE AIR? STREAM TTT LIVE and LATER at KFAI.ORG


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From: info [at] rnc8.org
To: friendsofthernc8 [at] lists.riseup.net
Subject: RNC 8 defense 4.29 7pm

Defend the RNC 8!
The Struggle for Justice After the RNC

Wednesday, April 29 - 7pm
Coffman Student Union Room 324
University of Minnesota
300 Washington Ave. SE, Minneapolis

The RNC 8 are a group of Twin Cities residents, nearly all in their 20s,
who were initially charged with conspiracy to riot in furtherance of
terrorism under the Minnesota version of the Patriot Act.  Although
recently the terrorism charges were dropped, they still each face 5 years
in prison for organizing peaceful direct action against the Republican
National Convention last September.

Come hear them tell their story, and find out how and why to get involved
in their defense campaign.

Speakers include:
Gay Bicking, mother of Monica Bicking of the RNC 8
The RNC 8, including University of Minnesota student Max Specktor

Sponsored by Friends of the RNC 8 and Socialist Alternative


--------4 of 13--------

From: Joan Malerich <joanmdm [at] iphouse.com>
Subject: Xcel rate hearing 4.29 7pm

REMINDER:  Last hearing re the public utilities increase $$$$

LAST CHANCE TO HAVE YOUR VOICE PUT ON THE RECORD RE THE INCREASE IN PUBLIC
UTILITIES (this time electricity, next time might be natural gas or
another electricity increase.).  What your presence does - LETS XCEL KNOW
that they can't do what they want all of the time.  What your absence does
- GIVES A GREEN LIGHT to XCEL to continue their increases and the 4.8
MILLION $$$$ A YEAR to CEO/PRESIDENT Dave Spar.

Please distribute this information re the last hearing for the rate
increase for electricity.  If you can get even one or two of your
neighbors to attend the meeting, this is very helpful!  20 people each
getting 2 more people to attend is exceptionally helpful.  100 people each
getting 2 more people to attend is bordering on radical (going to the
root)!

If you are a media person or have a radio or cable show, it is very
important you attend and, if possible, tape the proceedings.

If you are running for public office, IT WOULD BE LIKE COMMITTING
POLITICAL SUICIDE NOT TO BE AT THIS HEARING.  Your constituents will
wonder WHY you were not helping them to control the already too high
utility bills--which many cannot afford.

FYI:  CEO and President of XCEL makes $4.8 MILLION annually.

Thank you in advance for informing others and  for ATTENDING THIS LAST
CHANCE HEARING.


XCEL PUBLIC UTILITIES HEARING RE ELECTRICITY INCREASE
LAST CHANCE TO CHALLENGE THE BIG BOYS/GIRLS

Final Hearing: Wednesday, April 29, 7:00 PM, Metro Square Building, 3rd
Floor, Large Hearing Room, 121 7th Place East, St. Paul
The electricity increase in rates has already been raised 6% on your
billing statement.  Check your last bills for "Interim Rate Adjustment."
YOU STILL HAVE A CHANCE TO STOP THIS INCREASE IF YOU ACT AND ATTEND THE
LAST OF THE HEARINGS ON APRIL 29.
Go to
http://www.xcelenergy.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/docs/MNRateCase2008FAQ.pdf

The information at above link states:  All interim rates are subject to
refund, based on the MPUC's decision.  If the MPUC approves final base
rates that are less than the amount requested, customers would receive a
refund of a portion of the interim rates.
XCEL claims that one of the ways they have cut operating expenses is
limiting the rate of increases in health care for their employees.

XCEL states this increase is ONLY for base rates, which compose 65
percent of the electric bill.  Therefore, there can still be increases in
riders, which are specific components of a customer's electric bill such
as fuel for electricity production and other capital system investments
such as renewable energy, and projects for environment improvements.
These riders compose 35% of the bill.

XCEL states they are not proposing any changes to natural gas rates
"AT THIS TIME." Of course, if they get final approval for the electricity
rate increase (and they will if you do not fight this), they might well
see how easy it is to fool the people and propose an increase in natural
gas.

XCEL states that one reason for the increased rates is further
investment in nuclear plants, which they claim are the "lowest cost and
most reliable energy source."  They never mention the problems nor the
cost of nuclear waste.  They never state where they dump nuclear waste;
and, for those of you not aware of certain realities, the US has dumped
nuclear and/or other toxic waste in Africa.  The reason the "pirates"of
Somalia activated was in response to the toxic waste dumped by first world
countries on their land and waters.  This toxic waste has sickened and
killed both their people and their fish, which is a major food lifeline.
What if this happened in your backyard?

THIS RATE INCREASE AFFECTS ALL OF THE COMMUNITY. THERE NEEDS TO BE A
HUGE TURN OUT AT THE LAST HEARING PLACE YOURSELF ON RECORD WITH THE COURT
TRANSCRIBER

NOTE: CEO DAVE SPAR MAKES $4.8 MILLION PER YEAR!!!!

SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR PRESENTATION (Speaking is an option.  Your
attendance is a must.)

1. ENDORSE A PROGRESSIVE RATE INCREASE.  FOR EXAMPLE:
The leaflet with the February bill stated:  The average monthly kWh usage
for residential overhead line service is 593 kWh. One option is:

-DO NOT increase the first 600 kWh. Return to the rate BEFORE the
interim rates were applied and refund the interim rate amounts already
charged. -Double the rate for each kWh usage from 601 kWh to 1000 kWh
usage. -Triple the rate for each kWh usage over 1000 kWh usage.

(Note:  Underground line service average is 872 kWh usage and other
categories were listed on the information sent with billing and are
available on the Internet.)

Do not increase the rates for small businesses that make less than
$100,000 profit, as these small businesses are facing extinction.  Any
business that makes a profit of $100,000 or more would have its rates
increased by 30-50% depending on the amount of profit.

2. SPEAK OUT ABOUT THE PROBLEMS OF NUCLEAR ENERGY IF YOU HAVE THE FACTS.
Must have facts or you will not be considered credible. Be prepared to
counter the informational deception XCEL provides on its site and
brochures.

3. A court reporter and an administrative judge will be present.
Therefore, IF you want to speak, WRITE OUT YOUR STATEMENT, for the
following reasons: a. If the court reporter incorrectly transcribes your
statement, you have a copy of what you said. b. Having a prepared written
statement keeps one focused.  Stops the rambling.  Makes you appear to be
informed. c. Your statement must be concise, approximately 3 minutes.  A
written statement helps one emphasize the key points. Others might bring
up points you do not cover. d. Have solutions to offer.  Spend at least
half the time suggesting a solution(s), such as a progressive increase
(see above) or shutting down the nuclear plants.

MAKE COPIES OF THIS INFORMATIONAL FLIER AND GIVE THE FLIER TO YOUR
FRIENDS, FAMILY, NEIGHBORS, PROGRESSIVE MEDIA, PROGRESSIVE ATTORNEYS (YES,
THERE ARE A FEW), SMALL BUSINESS PEOPLE AND OTHERS WHO WILL FIGHT FOR
JUSTICE.  (can print off as one page back to back)

IF YOU DO NOT LIKE THE WAY THIS FLIER IS LAID OUT, CREATE YOUR OWN.
POINT IS:  GET THE INFORMATION OUT NOW ABOUT THE LAST HEARING WEDNESDAY,
APRIL 29.  INSPIRE OTHERS TO ATTEND.  WE NEED AT LEAST 1000 PEOPLE.

IF YOU CALL XCEL FOR MORE INFORMATION, DO NOT (REPEAT DO NOT) TELL THEM
YOU ARE ORGANIZING PEOPLE TO ATTEND THE HEARING.  THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE
IS A KEY PART OF THIS STRATEGY AND IT IS TO THE PEOPLE'S ADVANTAGE.  IF
THEY KNOW PEOPLE ARE ORGANIZING THEY MIGHT CANCEL THE MEETING. OR put 2009
Minnesota Electric Rate Case in a search (at bottom of page select "rate
case fact sheet and Q and A"), for information regarding this increase.
Information was sent sent with previous billing statements, but it seems
most people missed this, just as they missed the hearings across the state
and missed the interim rates included in current bills.


--------5 of 13--------

From: Human Rights Center/Lauren Merritt <humanrts [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Lavender awards 4.30 4pm

April 30, 2009 - Lavender Celebration and Awards Ceremony. Time: 4:00
PM. Cost: Free and open to the public, but must RSVP.

Please join us as we celebrate and honor the accomplishments of gay,
lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and ally students, faculty, staff, and
community members across all University of Minnesota campuses.

For more information and to RSVP, please contact us:
glbta [at] umn.edu
www.glbta.umn.edu
Location: McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak Street SE, Minneapolis

Lauren P. Merritt Office Administrator University of Minnesota Human
Rights Center N120 Mondale Hall 229 19th Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55455 USA
Tel. 612-626-0041 Fax 612-626-7592 Email:  humanrts [at] umn.edu Web:
http://www.hrcenter.umn.edu


--------6 of 13--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 4.30 4:30pm

PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of
Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and
candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south
of the river speaking out against war.


--------7 of 13--------

From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 4.30 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com.


--------8 of 13--------

From: Kirsten Kohlhase <kkohlhase [at] gmail.com>
Subject: Labor v Starbucks 4.30 7pm

The Starbucks Problem:
Renewing the Labor Movement in the Economic Crisis
THURSDAY April 30th 7:00pm
Carnegie 006 Macalester College 1600 Grand Ave. St. Paul 55105

In 2004, baristas at a single Starbucks in midtown Manhattan announced
their affiliation with the legendary Industrial Workers of the World labor
union, demanding a living wage, guaranteed hours, and dignity. In the
subsequent five years, the union spread to cities across North America,
including Minneapolis. The struggle at Starbucks has served as a testing
ground for a new model of workplace organizing based on grassroots global
solidarity and uncompromising opposition to corporate power. This
presentation by rank-and-file members of the local Starbucks Workers Union
will give audience members a rare glimpse at the cutting edge of labor
organizing amidst the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression.


--------9 of 13--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Palestine 4.30 7pm

Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
Thursday, April 30, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. College of St. Catherine, Library,
Room 128, 2004 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul.

"The Winding Road to Peace: Possibilities and obstacles; proposals
throughout the years. Should there be one state or two, and what is the
role of the U.S.?" People in the United States hear about the emotionally
charged Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the news regularly, but many know
little except that there is violence and that the issues involved are
"complex."

WAMM member Florence Steichen will supplement the news appearing in
mainstream American media by providing context and some missing pieces.
Florence is a Sister of St. Joseph Carondolet, who has lived, worked and
traveled in the region. She holds a Masters Degree in Theology from the
University of Notre Dame, lived in Bethlehem (1987-1992) and served as
Registrar of Bethlehem University in Palestine. Florence is President of
Middle East Peace Now (MEPN), Treasurer of Pax Christi Twin Cities and
active in the WAMM Middle East Committee.

Handouts will be provided and resources suggested. Open to the public.
Fee: $7.00. Endorsed by: the WAMM Middle East Committee. FFI and to
register: Visit http://minerva.stkate.edu/alumna.nsf/pages/lifelong .


--------10 of 13--------

Democrats' "Battered Wife Syndrome"
by: Robert Parry
Consortium News
Saturday 25 April 2009

In recent years, the Washington political dynamic has often resembled an
abusive marriage, in which the bullying husband (the Republicans) slaps
the wife and kids around, and the battered wife (the Democrats) makes
excuses and hides the ugly bruises from outsiders to keep the family
together.

So, when the Republicans are in a position of power, they throw their
weight around, break the rules, and taunt: "Whaddya gonna do 'bout it?"

Then, when the Republicans do the political equivalent of passing out on
the couch, the Democrats use their time in control, tiptoeing around,
tidying up the house and cringing at every angry grunt from the snoring
figure on the couch.

This pattern, which now appears to be repeating itself with President
Barack Obama's unwillingness to hold ex-President George W. Bush and his
subordinates accountable for a host of crimes including torture, may have
had its origins 40 years ago in Campaign 1968 when the Vietnam War was
raging.

President Lyndon Johnson felt he was on the verge of achieving a
negotiated peace settlement when he learned in late October 1968 that
operatives working for Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon
were secretly sabotaging the Paris peace talks.

Nixon, who was getting classified briefings on the talks' progress, feared
that an imminent peace accord might catapult Vice President Hubert
Humphrey to victory. So, Nixon's team sent secret messages to South
Vietnamese leaders offering them a better deal if they boycotted Johnson's
talks and helped Nixon to victory, which they agreed to do.

Johnson learned about Nixon's gambit through wiretaps of the South
Vietnamese embassy and he confronted Nixon by phone (only to get an
unconvincing denial). At that point, Johnson knew his only hope was to
expose Nixon's maneuver which Johnson called "treason" since it endangered
the lives of a half million American soldiers in the war zone.

As a Christian Science Monitor reporter sniffed out the story and sought
confirmation, Johnson consulted Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Defense
Secretary Clark Clifford about whether to expose Nixon's ploy right before
the election. Both Rusk and Clifford urged Johnson to stay silent.

In what would become a Democratic refrain in the years ahead, Clifford
said in a Nov. 4, 1968, conference call that "Some elements of the story
are so shocking in their nature that I'm wondering whether it would be
good for the country to disclose the story and then possibly have a
certain individual [Nixon] elected. It could cast his whole administration
under such doubt that I think it would be inimical to our country's
interests."

So, Johnson stayed silent "for the good of the country"; Nixon eked out a
narrow victory over Humphrey; the Vietnam War continued for another four
years with an additional 20,763 U.S. dead and 111,230 wounded and more
than a million more Vietnamese killed.

Over the years, as bits and pieces of this story have dribbled out -
including confirmation from audiotapes released by the LBJ Library in
December 2008 - the Democrats and the mainstream news media have never
made much out of Nixon's deadly treachery. [See Consortiumnews.com's "The
Significance of Nixon's Treason."]

                       The Watergate Exception

The one exception to this pattern of the Democrats' "battered wife
syndrome" may have been the Watergate case in which Nixon sought to secure
his second term, in part, by spying on his political rivals, including
putting bugs on phones at the Democratic National Committee.

When Nixon's team was caught in a second break-in - trying to add more
bugs - the scandal erupted.

Even then, however, key Democrats, such as Democratic National Chairman
Robert Strauss, tried to shut down the Watergate investigation as it was
expanding early in Nixon's second term. Strauss argued that the inquiries
would hurt the country, but enough other Democrats and an energized
Washington press corps overcame the resistance. [For details, see Robert
Parry's Secrecy & Privilege.]

With Nixon's Watergate-compelled resignation in August 1974, the
Republicans were at a crossroads. In one direction, they could start
playing by the rules and seek to be a responsible political party. Or they
could internalize Nixon's pugnacious style and build an infrastructure to
punish anyone who tried to hold them accountable in the future.

Essentially, the Republicans picked option two. Under the guidance of
Nixon's Treasury Secretary William Simon, right-wing foundations
collaborated to build a powerful new infrastructure, pooling resources to
finance right-wing publications, think tanks and anti-journalism attack
groups. As this infrastructure took shape in the late 1970s, it imbued the
Republicans with more confidence.

So, before Election 1980, the Republican campaign - bolstered by former
CIA operatives loyal to former CIA Director George H.W. Bush - resorted to
Nixon-style tactics in exploiting President Jimmy Carter's failure to free
52 American hostages then held in Iran.

The evidence is now overwhelming that Republican operatives, including
campaign chief Bill Casey and some of his close associates, had back-
channel contacts with Iran's Islamic regime and other foreign governments
to confound Carter's hostage negotiations. Though much of this evidence
has seeped out over the past 29 years, some was known in real time.

For instance, Iran's acting foreign minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh told Agence
France Press on Sept. 6, 1980, that he knew that Republican candidate
Ronald Reagan was "trying to block a solution" to the hostage impasse.

Senior Carter administration officials, such as National Security Council
aide Gary Sick, also were hearing rumors about Republican interference,
and President Carter concluded that Israel's hard-line Likud leaders had
"cast their lot with Reagan," according to notes I found of a
congressional task force interview with Carter a dozen years later.

Carter traced the Israeli opposition to him to a "lingering concern
[among] Jewish leaders that I was too friendly with Arabs."

Israel already had begun playing a key middleman role in delivering secret
military shipments to Iran, as Carter knew. But - again for "the good of
the country" - Carter and his White House kept silent.

Since the first anniversary of the hostage crisis coincidentally fell on
Election Day 1980, Reagan benefited from the voters' anger over the
national humiliation and scored a resounding victory. [For more details on
the 1980 "October Surprise" case, see Parry's Secrecy & Privilege.]

                      GOP's Growing Confidence

Though much of the public saw Reagan as a tough guy who had frightened the
Iranians into surrendering the hostages on Inauguration Day 1981, the
behind-the-scenes reality was different.

In secret, the Reagan administration winked at Israeli weapons shipments
to Iran in the first half of 1981, what appeared to be a payoff for Iran's
cooperation in sabotaging Carter. Nicholas Veliotes, who was then
assistant secretary of state, told a PBS interviewer that he saw those
secret shipments as an outgrowth of the covert Republican-Iranian
contacts from the campaign.

Veliotes added that those early shipments then became the "germs" of the
later Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal.

But the Republicans seemed to have little to fear from exposure. Their
media infrastructure was rapidly expanding - for instance, the right-wing
Washington Times opened in 1982 - and America's Left didn't see the need
to counter this growing media power on the Right.

The right-wing attack groups also had success targeting mainstream
journalists who dug up information that didn't fit with Reagan's
propaganda themes - the likes of the New York Times Raymond Bonner, whose
brave reporting about right-wing death squads in Central America led to
his recall from the region and his resignation from the Times.

This new right-wing muscle, combined with Ronald Reagan's political
popularity, made Democrats and mainstream journalists evermore hesitant to
pursue negative stories about Republican policies, including evidence that
Reagan's favorite "freedom fighters," the Nicaraguan contras, were
dabbling in cocaine trafficking and that an illegal contra-aid operation
was set up inside the White House.

In mid-1986, when my Associated Press colleague Brian Barger and I put
together a story citing two dozen sources about the work of NSC official
Oliver North, congressional Democrats were hesitant to follow up on the
disclosures.

Finally in August 1986, the House Intelligence Committee, then chaired by
Democrat Lee Hamilton and including Republican Rep. Dick Cheney, met with
North and other White House officials in the Situation Room and were told
that the AP story was untrue. With no further investigation, the
Democratic-led committee accepted the word of North and his superiors.

                             Lucky Exposure

It was only an unlikely occurrence on Oct. 5, 1986, the shooting down of
one of North's supply planes over Nicaragua and a confession by the one
survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, that put the House Intelligence Committee's
gullibility into focus.

The plane shoot-down - and disclosures from the Middle East about secret
U.S. arms sales to Iran - forced the Iran-Contra scandal into public view.
The congressional Democrats responded by authorizing a joint House-Senate
investigation, with Hamilton as one of the mild-mannered co-chairs and
Cheney again leading the GOP's tough-guy defense.

While the Republicans worked to undermine the investigation, the Democrats
looked for a bipartisan solution that would avoid a messy confrontation
with President Reagan and Vice President Bush. That solution was to put
most of the blame on North and a few of his superiors, such as NSC adviser
John Poindexter and the then-deceased CIA Director Bill Casey.

The congressional investigation also made a hasty decision, supported by
Hamilton and the Republicans but opposed by most Democrats, to give
limited immunity to secure the testimony of North.

Hamilton agreed to this immunity without knowing what North would say.
Rather than show any contrition, North used his immunized testimony to
rally Republicans and other Americans in support of Reagan's aggressive,
above-the-law tactics.

The immunity also crippled later attempts by special prosecutor Lawrence
Walsh to hold North and Poindexter accountable under the law.  Though
Walsh won convictions against the pair in federal court, the judgments
were overturned by right-wing judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals citing
the immunity granted by Congress.

By the early 1990s, the pattern was set. Whenever new evidence emerged of
Republican wrongdoing - such as disclosures about contra-drug trafficking,
secret military support for Saddam Hussein's Iraq and those early
Republican-Iran contacts of 1980 - the Republicans would lash out in fury
and the Democrats would try to calm things down.

Lee Hamilton became the Republicans' favorite Democratic investigator
because he exemplified this approach of conducting "bipartisan"
investigations, rather than aggressively pursuing the facts wherever they
might lead. While in position to seek the truth, Hamilton ignored the
contra-drug scandal and swept the Iraq-gate and October Surprise issues
under a very lumpy rug.

In 1992, I interviewed Spencer Oliver, a Democratic staffer whose phone at
the Watergate building had been bugged by Nixon's operatives 20 years
earlier. Since then, Oliver had served as the chief counsel on the House
Foreign Affairs Committee and had observed this pattern of Republican
abuses and Democratic excuses.

Oliver said: "What [the Republicans] learned from Watergate was not 'don't
do it,' but 'cover it up more effectively.' They have learned that they
have to frustrate congressional oversight and press scrutiny in a way that
will avoid another major scandal."

                     The Clinton Opportunity

The final chance for exposing the Republican crimes of the 1980s fell to
Bill Clinton after he defeated President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Before leaving office, however, Bush-41 torpedoed the ongoing Iran-Contra
criminal investigation by issuing six pardons, including one to former
Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger whose cover-up trial was set to begin
in early 1993.

Special prosecutor Walsh - a lifelong Republican albeit from the old
Eisenhower wing of the party - denounced the pardons as another
obstruction of justice. "George Bush's misuse of the pardon power made the
cover-up complete," Walsh later wrote in his book Firewall.

However, the Iran-Contra investigation was not yet dead. Indeed, Walsh was
considering empanelling a new grand jury. Walsh also had come to suspect
that the origins of the scandal traced back to the October Surprise of
1980, with his investigators questioning former CIA officer Donald Gregg
about his alleged role in that prequel to Iran- Contra.

The new Democratic President could have helped Walsh by declassifying key
documents that the Reagan-Bush-41 team had withheld from various
investigations. But Clinton followed advice from Hamilton and other senior
Democrats who feared stirring partisan anger among Republicans.

Later, in a May 1994 conversation with documentary filmmaker Stuart
Sender, Clinton explained that he had opposed pursuing these Republican
scandals because, according to Sender, "he was going to try to work with
these guys, compromise, build working relationships....

"It seemed even at the time terribly naive that these same Republicans
were going to work with him if he backed off on congressional hearings or
possible independent prosecutor investigations." [See Parry's Secrecy &
Privilege.]

                             No Reciprocity

But the Democrats - like the battered wife who keeps hoping her abusive
husband will change - found a different reality as the decade played out.

Rather than thanking Clinton, the Republicans bullied him with endless
investigations about his family finances, the ethics of his appointees -
and his personal morality, ultimately impeaching him in 1998 for lying
about a sexual affair (though he survived the Senate trial in 1999).

After the impeachment battle, the Republicans - joined by both the
right-wing and mainstream news media - kept battering Clinton and his heir
apparent, Vice President Al Gore, who was mocked for his choice of
clothing and denounced for his supposed exaggerations.

Though Gore still managed to win the popular vote in Election 2000 and
apparently would have prevailed if all legally cast votes had been counted
in Florida, the Republicans made clear that wasn't going to happen, even
dispatching rioters from Washington to disrupt a recount in Miami.

George W. Bush's bullying victory - which was finalized by five Republican
partisans on the U.S. Supreme Court - was met with polite acceptance by
the Democrats who again seemed to hope for the best from the newly
empowered Republicans. [For details on Election 2000, see our book, Neck
Deep.]

Instead, after the 9/11 attacks, Bush-43 grabbed unprecedented powers;
he authorized torture and warrantless wiretaps; he pressured Democrats
into accepting an unprovoked war in Iraq; and he sought to damage his
critics, such as former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Now, after eight destructive years, the Democrats have again gained
control of the White House and Congress, but they seem intent on once more
not provoking the Republicans, rather than holding them accountable.

Though President Barack Obama has released some of the key documents
underpinning Bush-43's actions, he opposes any formal commission of
inquiry and has discouraged any prosecutions for violations of federal
law. Obama has said he wants "to look forward as opposed to looking
backward."

In dismissing the idea of a "truth and reconciliation commission,"  Obama
also recognizes that the Republicans would show no remorse for the Bush
administration's actions; that they would insist that there is nothing to
"reconcile"; and that they would stay on the attack, pummeling the
Democrats as weak, overly sympathetic to terrorists, and endangering
national security.

On Thursday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs admitted as much, saying
that Obama rejected the idea of a bipartisan "truth commission"  because
it was apparent that there was no feasible way to get the Republicans to
be bipartisan.

"The President determined the concept didn't seem altogether workable in
this case," Gibbs said, citing the partisan atmosphere that already has
surrounded the torture issue. "The last few days might be evidence of why
something like this might just become a political back and forth."

In other words, the Republicans are rousing themselves from the couch and
getting angry, while the Democrats are prancing about, hands out front,
trying to calm things down and avoid a confrontation.

The Democrats hope against hope that if they tolerate the latest
Republican outrages maybe there will be some reciprocity, maybe there will
be some GOP votes on Democratic policy initiatives.

But there's no logical reason to think so. That isn't how the Republicans
and their right-wing media allies do things; they simply get angrier
because belligerence has worked so well for so long.

On the other hand, Democratic wishful thinking is the essence of this
political "battered wife syndrome," dreaming about a behavioral
transformation when all the evidence - and four decades of experience -
tell you that the bullying husband isn't going to change.

[And the castrated Dem wusses aren't going to change either, only become
more supine belly-crawling dreck-eaters. A fascist GOP, and a useless
"opposition" party that never opposes. So much for the "two party system"
in America. Yet millions will stay inside it no matter how bad it gets,
showing how they too have become supine belly-crawling dreck-eaters. We
must look to other countries, eg Venezuela and several other Latin
American lands, for a population and citizenry we can respect for courage
and action. As for us, forget it; capitalist ghouls have eaten out our
hearts and minds, leaving us easy prey.  -ed]

    --------

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the
Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, "Neck Deep: The Disastrous
Presidency of George W. Bush," was written with two of his sons, Sam and
Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books,
"Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq"
and "Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth'" are also
available there. Or go to Amazon.com.


--------11 of 13-------

The Pricetag of Price-Anderson
Who Pays for America's Chernobyl Roulette?
By HARVEY WASSERMAN
April 28, 2009
CounterPunch

As the US attempts to dig out from economic collapse, a little-known
nuclear industry liability could seriously derail Obama's attempt to
revive our finances.

It is the federal disaster insurance on 104 rickety atomic reactors.
Because the industry cannot get its own insurance, we taxpayers are on the
hook.

There is no "rainy day" fund to finance the clean-up after a reactor
disaster. No one in government or industry can reasonably explain how we
would pay for such a catastrophe.

Chernobyl's lethal cloud began pouring into the atmosphere 23 years ago
this week. Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the late
President Boris Yeltsin, and president of the Center for Russian
Environmental Policy, estimates the death toll at 300,000.

It also gutted the regional economy, and accelerated the Soviet collapse.
By conservative accounts Chernobyl's explosion has so far cost a
half-trillion dollars, with its financial toll continuing to accrue.

A disaster at a US reactor could dwarf that number.

Chernobyl exploded in a remote rural region in an impoverished country.
Eighty kilometers away, Kiev was heavily dusted with radiation.

Most American reactors are in what were once considered remote regions.
But Indian Point is about half as far from Manhattan as is Chernobyl from
Kiev. Likewise San Onofre from Los Angeles, Turkey Point from Miami, Byron
from Chicago, Grand Gulf from Baton Rouge, Seabrook and Pilgrim from
Boston, Limerick and Peach Bottom from Philadelphia, Calvert Cliffs from
Baltimore, Perry from Cleveland, Prairie Island and Monticello from
Minneapolis.

All these reactors were designed and built decades ago. Not one has
private insurance beyond a tiny percentage of the potential damage.

When the nuke power industry first got going, utility executives refused
to invest, citing the insupportable costs of a potential disaster.

Back then, the Sandia Laboratory's WASH-740 Report warned that a melt-down
at an American reactor could permanently irradiate a land mass the size of
Pennsylvania. The fiscal costs, like the potential death toll, were
essentially inestimable.

So reactor backers got Congress to pass the 1957 Price-Anderson Act, which
protected utilities from all but a tiny portion of the potential damage.
The industry assured the public that "within a few years" atomic
technology would have advanced so far that private insurers would clamor
for the business.

That was 52 years ago. No private insurer has stepped up to cover that
first generation of reactors (check your home-owners policy for the
standard exclusion clause). Neither will they do so for future reactors.
The entire "new generation" of atomic plants now being so mightily hyped
is also to be insured by the federal government, ie you and me.

The potential financial impact is beyond comprehension. The cost of
abandoning several thousand square miles of the Hudson Valley down to
Manhattan, or the Atlantic shore north of and into Boston, or the coastal
regions along and into Los Angeles and the California central Valley,
simply cannot be calculated. Mere trillions - 2? 5? 20? - become
meaningless. The collapse of the currency, the utter chaos of the economic
system, the burial of health care, the devastating impact on millions of
lives...all defy description.

[Well, yeah, but, some rich people need longer yachts, and if we have to
take annihilation as the price of that, well, hey, this is a capitalist
country, and that's what capitalist countries do. Nothing is too good for
our rich people. And if we die, well, what are we WORTH? -ed]

All will be the responsibility of the federal government. By limiting
responsibility of the reactor owners it has forced us to assume liability
for the claims of those who survive long enough to sue.

There is no contingency plan for this in the federal budget. No secret
reserve. No magic monetary bullet. Should one of these plants melt or
explode, American economic life as we have known it could be essentially
over.

Thus the re-licensing of rickety old reactors like New Jersey's Oyster
Creek, Vermont Yankee and dozens more now exceeding their 40-year design
span is a horrifying game of Chernobyl Roulette. Likewise the building of
new ones, which also can't get private insurance.

The owners assure us the odds on an accident are "acceptable." But they
are not the ones liable. They are betting our everything against their
pittance.

Against which the hundreds of billions in Obama's stimulus plan seem a
pitiful penny. Our current fiscal mess pales in comparison to what could
come from the irresponsible gamble on these perilous machines.

There are 104 of these radioactive roulette wheels in the US alone. Within
weeks Congress may vote to spend OUR money to build still more (see
www.nirs.org, www.beyondnuclear.org, www.nukefree.org).

Our money and our lives are being wagered in a game where the house - OUR
house - simply cannot win.

Harvey Wasserman has been writing about atomic energy and the green
alternatives since 1973.  His 1982 assertion to Bryant Gumbel on NBC's
TODAY Show that people were killed at TMI sparked a national mailing from
the reactor industry demanding a retraction. NBC was later bought by
Westinghouse, still a major force pushing atomic power. He is the author
of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, is at
www.solartopia.org. He can be reached at: Windhw [at] aol.com


--------12 of 13--------

 Nothing is too good
 for the rich. And that's what we
 should give them - nothing.


--------13 of 13--------

 Dems dig bondage. Ooooh!
 Whip us! Piss on us! More piss!
 More bondage! More! Ohhhhh!


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