Progressive Calendar 06.14.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2010 15:21:09 -0700 (PDT)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   06.14.10

1. AZ/JimmyJohns     6.14 5:30pm
2. Peace walk        6.14 6pm RiverFalls WI
3. Candidates/health 6.14 7:30pm

4. Vs GAMC cuts      6.15 10am
5. Salon/torture     6.15 6:30pm

6. David Michael Green - The bitch-slapped do-nothing President

--------1 of 6--------

From: Nick Espinosa <espinosa.nick [at]>
Subject: AZ/JimmyJohns 6.14 5:30pm

Boycott Arizona - Minnesota (BAM!)  Presents:
Protest Jimmy John's: "Arizona's Favorite Sandwich"
Monday June 14, 5:30PM @ Jimmy John's Minneapolis 600 Hennepin Ave.
SouthBlock E, on 6th St.

Jimmy John's has consistently funded the campaigns of anti-immigrant
demagogues like Joe Arpaio and John McCain who are outspoken supporters of
SB1070.  For this reason we are giving Jimmy John's the title of:
"Arizona's Favorite Sandwich". We will demand that they publicly denounce
SB1070 in writing - or face the boycott!

--------2 of 6--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 6.14 6pm RiverFalls WI

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

--------3 of 6--------

From: Joel Albers <joel [at]>
Subject: Candidates/health 6.14 7:30pm

Tom Sengupta, owner of Schneider Drug, where i work, will have a forum for
gov candidates tonight at 7:30pm, Schneider Drug 3400 University Ave SE,
Mpls, 55414.

Mark Dayton will be there from 7:30pm to 8:30pm, and Matt Entenza will be
there from 8:30pm to 9:30pm. Pls attend so we can grill these candidates
on health care policy, among other issues.

--------4 of 6--------

From: Joel Albers <joel [at]>
Subject: Vs GAMC cuts 6.15 10am

On Tuesday, June 15, 10:00 AM, a coalition of Human Rights, health
practitioner and senior groups, will create a basic free clinic at
Governor Pawlenty's office to protest the drastic cuts to the General
Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) program. The free clinic will be designated
as the first of a "Health Care is a Human Right Zone" in support of the MN
Health Plan, which says it is the responsibility of society through its
government to entitle and guarantee comprehensive health insurance to all.
The free clinic will pose the question to all gubernatorial candidates,
"do you firmly believe and will you actively work toward and budget
'Health Care as a Human Right' and an entitlement for ALL people in the
state of Minnesota" ? The free clinic will offer basic health screenings
and referral for GAMC recipients and the uninsured.

The public also needs to know that the private Minnesota HMO insurers,
Medica, HealthPartners, Blue Cross, U Care, MHP, and Preferred One, whom
the MN Department of Human Services (DHS) had contracted with since the
1990s to operate and administer GAMC, quietly exited the program, dropping
30,000 poorest and sickest Minnesota enrollees deemed unprofitable. Only 4
of 17 hospitals are participating in what remains of the GAMC program, the
funding of which has been cut in half by Governor Pawlenty and the MN
legislature. Such tragic cuts will result in far greater hospitalizations,
emergency room visits, morbidity and mortality. GAMC enrollees, the
uninsured and practitioners and the public are welcome to join in
solidarity to create a "free clinic Health Care is Human Right Zone" to
show that sick human beings are not expendable, whether GAMC patients or
not, and that we need a system in which nurses don't have to go on strike
in order to protect their patients' health.

Sponsors for the action: Poor Peoples' Economic Human Rights Campaign,
Welfare Rights Committee, Twin Cities Grey Panthers, Universal Health Care
Action Network of MN, Practitioners United MN, North Star Health
Collective,Holistic Nurse Services, Somali Women in Minneapolis, West Bank
Pharmacy, Schneider Drug.

--------5 of 6--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Salon/torture 6.15 6:30pm

Pax Conversational Salon: Tackling Torture at the Top (T3) Forum
Tuesday, June 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 West
Seventh, St. Paul.

The WAMM Tackling Torture at the Top (T3) Committee will be holding a
forum for Torture Awareness Month. T3 will discuss what they have been
working on recently: the laws against torture, Professor Delahunty at the
University of St. Thomas Law School and what president Obama is doing
regarding the issue. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call 651-227-3228.

--------6 of 6--------

One Bitch-Slap After Another
The Do-Nothing President
June 14, 2010

What do nine dead Gaza activists in the Mediterranean, nine-plus percent
unemployment, and ninety years of oil catastrophe clean-up have in common?

How about one astonishingly tepid president?

How about one guy in the White House who squirms in his chair anytime
someone uses the word "bold" and actually means it?

How about one dude in the Oval Office who seems much more interested in
making deals to determine who should be the Democratic candidates for
various state offices than in actually solving national problems?

We could hardly have a president more ill-suited to our time if we were to
dig up Herbert Hoover and prop his weary bones up on the presidential

Barack Obama has five major problems as president.  The first is that he
doesn't understand priorities.  The second is that he seems to have little
strong conviction on any given issue.  The third is that to the extent he
stands for anything, it is for maintenance of a status quo that continues
to wreck the country in order to service the greed of a few oligarchs.
The fourth is that he fundamentally does not understand the powers and the
role of the modern presidency.  And the fifth is that he maintains the
worst communications apparatus in the White House since Jimmy Carter
prowled its corridors.  In fairness to his communications team, though, he
has given them almost nothing to sell.  You try singing the praises of
bailing out Goldman Sachs one hundred cents on the dollar, or of a health
care plan that forces people to buy plans they don't want from hated
insurance vultures.  It ain't easy, pal.  Yet, on the other hand, Bush and
Cheney had far less than nothing to sell when it came to the Iraq war -
indeed, they had nothing but lies - and their team handled that

The fundamental characteristic of the Obama presidency is that the
president is a reactive object, essentially the victim of events and other
political forces, rather than the single greatest center of power in the
country, and arguably on the planet.  He is the Mr. Bill of politicians.
People sometimes excuse the Obama torpor by making reference to all the
problems on his plate, and all the enemies at his gate.  But what they
fail to understand - and, most crucially, what he fails to understand - is
the nature of the modern presidency.  Successful presidents today (by
which I mean those who get what they want) not only drive outcomes in
their preferred direction, but shape the very character of the debate
itself.  And they not only shape the character of the debate, but they
determine which items are on the docket.

Moreover, there is a continuously evolving and reciprocal relationship
between presidential boldness and achievement.  In the same way that
nothing breeds success like success, nothing sets the president up for
achieving his or her next goal better than succeeding dramatically on the
last go around.

This is absolutely a matter of perception, and you can see it best in the
way that Congress and especially the Washington press corps fawn over bold
and intimidating presidents like Reagan and George W. Bush.  The political
teams surrounding these presidents understood the psychology of power all
too well.  They knew that by simultaneously  creating a steamroller effect
and feigning a clubby atmosphere for Congress and the press, they could
leave such hapless hangers-on with only one remaining way to pretend to
preserve their dignities.  By jumping on board the freight train, they
could be given the illusion of being next to power, of being part of the
winning team.  And so, with virtually the sole exception of the now
retired Helen Thomas, this is precisely what they did.

But the game of successfully governing is substantive as well as
psychological.  More often than not, timidity turns out not to yield the
safe course anticipated by those with weak knees, but rather their
subsequent undoing.  The three cases mentioned at the top of this essay
are paradigmatic.

By far and away the most crucial problem on the minds of most Americans
today is the economy, as is often the case, but now more than ever.  It's
hard to quite figure where Barack Obama is on this issue.  What is always
most puzzling with this guy is reconciling the fundamentally irrational
behavior of his presidency with the obvious intellectual abilities of the
president and the administrative masterfulness of the campaign he ran to
obtain that office.  It seems to me that there are four options for
understanding Obama's self-defeating tendency when it comes to the
economic disaster he inherited.  One is that he simply isn't so smart, and
doesn' t get the ramifications of continued unemployment at the level it's
currently running.  The second option is that he's just a policy bungler,
who has the right intentions but makes lousy choices for trying to get
there.  The third possibility is that Obama recognizes this latest
recession as the capstone (we hope) of a three decade long process by the
economic oligarchy seeking nothing less than the downsizing of the
American middle class, and he simply lacks the courage to attempt any
reversal of this tsunami of wealth redistribution.  The final, and
scariest - but by no means least probable - explanation for Obama's
behavior is that he is ultimately no less a tool in that very piracy
project than was George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. [ed's opinion]

Whatever the explanation, Obama's timidity early in his presidency not
only failed to solve the problem, but more crucially, now precludes him
from introducing any meaningful subsequent attempt at solving the problem.
Obama's management of the economic stimulus bill in the first weeks of his
presidency was the very model of how a president should govern - provided,
that is, that the nineteenth century hadn't actually ended over a hundred
years ago.  This president, who has turned deference to others - including
to his sworn enemies - into an art form, told Congress that he wanted a
stimulus bill and let them fill in the details.  What he got, accordingly,
was a giant monstrosity filled with pet projects for each congressional
district in America, with about one-third of it constituted by tax cuts in
order to buy Republican votes which never came anyhow.  Nor has there
been, to this day, any urgency about the spending of those funds.

The upshot of all of this is threefold, all of it hugely negative.  First,
the government spent an enormous amount of money on the stimulus without
solving the problem of the recession and unemployment.  Second, it
therefore massively exacerbated the national debt problem, with little
gain to show for it.  And, third, the combination of the first two factors
effectively precludes any subsequent stimulus package from emerging out of
Congress for the foreseeable future, the politics of spending in general
and the stimulus in particular having become altogether radioactive.

And here we see how Obama's failure to lead in the first instance has
succeeded above all in digging him into a hole subsequently.  We are
likely looking at nine or ten percent unemployment for years to come, and
Obama's legislative cowardice has created a situation in which the only
remaining meaningful tool by which to transcend this deep recession has
been taken off the table.  The public looks around and asks, "Why should
we spend more money on economic stimulus, when all it does is fail to
produce results, while simultaneously increasing the national debt?"  It's
a legitimate question, except that it omits consideration of a third
alternative, which is to actually do a stimulus correctly, pumping money
into infrastructure, alternative energy projects, unemployment
compensation, retraining programs and the like, all of which would
positively impact the economy in both the short, medium and long terms.

You see the same phenomenon in virtually everything Obama touches.  Lots
of spiffy rhetoric.  But then lots of deference to every other actor in
the play (except, of course, for the interests of the American public or
for his base of progressive voters), including those who are overtly
trying to destroy the president.  "You say that Republicans want to remove
the public option from the health care bill?  Okay, let's give that to
them.  It's bound to buy, golly, what?" ... zero whole votes from their
caucus!.  "You say they demand yet more tax cuts be included in the
stimulus bill?  Let's do that!"  And watch them vote against it almost
without exception.  Brilliant.

In the Middle East, Obama has spent his first year-and-a-half in office
getting bitch-slapped by Noxious Netanyahu, with nothing to show for it
but total embarrassment.  It's gotten so bad that you can no longer tell
which country is the client state of the other.  Is it the one with the
economy, military, territory, population and political power that dwarfs
the other, or is it the one that continually receives financial, military
and political support from the other, no matter what it does?  Including,
for example, regularly invading its neighbors, strangling a population of
over a million people, pissing off the whole world, and humiliating both
the president and vice-president of its benefactor country by continuing
to build more illegal, peace-preventing settlements, in direct,
intentional and arrogant contravention of their expressed preference to
the contrary.  If Obama could possibly be more passive in this situation,
it's difficult to know how.  Perhaps he could strap on a construction belt
and assist the Israelis himself in building some apartment complexes in
East Jerusalem.  While he was at it, maybe he'd take his shirt off in the
hot Mediterranean sun, and get in another one of those hunky president
photos he seems so fond of.

The story is the same back in the Gulf of Mexico, where Obama recently had
his very own Michael Dukakis moment.  Trying to look tough, like Dukakis
did haplessly riding around on that tank in the picture that spoke a
million words (and sank a presidential campaign), Obama decided to use a
four-letter word to show how serious he is about those mean fellows at BP
and their errant flow of oil.  Except that this president is so inept that
he could only manage three of the requisite four letters.  He told NBC's
Matt Lauer that he has been visiting the oil spill region "so I know whose
ass to kick".  I mean, raise your hand if you think that that little
display of anger for the cameras was about as authentic as Cheese Whiz.
And simultaneously both far less and far more cheesy.  But it gets worse.
It then turns out that during all of the last 45 or so days, the president
hasn't yet had a phone conversation with the CEO of British Petroleum.
Turns out Obama traveled all that way to New Orleans and still couldn't
get a postal code for the limey arse to which to fax over his presidential

Like he would use it if he had it, anyhow.  Can you imagine the
conversation he might have with Tony Hayward?

Obama:  "Hey, Tony, your oil spill is really causing me problems, so I
thought I'd call to kick your ass a little".

Hayward:  "Screw you, punk.  You do what I tell you".

Obama:  "Oh god, you're right.  Christ!  Sorry.  I forgot myself.  For a
minute there I thought I was talking to my daughter about her homework".

Hayward:  "Get your facts straight, pal.  Starting with who here works for

Obama:  "Yes, sir.  Right away, sir.  What can we do for you?"

Hayward:  "Nothing at all would be perfect, just like you have been doing.
Just let us drill where we want, spill where want, thrill as is our wont
to the sheer brazenness of our lies, and bill your account for the
damages.  We're not greedy we won't ask for more than that".

Obama:  "You got it, Mr. Hayward.  We'll get right on it.  Raaaahhm!!!"

The only thing more grim than the visage of the pathetic Obama
administration in non-action is a consideration of the opportunity lost
here.  Obama had all the cards stacked in his favor, ranging from a
destroyed opposition party, to a series of crises, to a public demanding
change, to massive majorities in Congress, to global good will.  He's
pissed it all away in his unrelenting dedication to mediocrity and

And the only thing more grim than that is to consider where this all
leads.  Every day I shudder a little more as yet another two-by-four is
crow-barred out from the edifice of America's experiment in liberal
democracy.  Every time the Supreme Court hands down a decision, it means
more power for the state, more power for the imperial president (whom they
also select when they feel like it), and especially, more power for the
rich.  Every day more people are dying in the stupid and endless wars of
the twilight empire, for which nobody can even articulate a purpose.
Every election cycle more lethally vicious regressives are victorious,
crushing common sense and human rights in tandem, moving the country
further in the direction of mindless fascism.

There's no other word for it.  This country is just plain rotting from

And, thus, perhaps the most tragic aspect of the Obama regime will not be
the embarrassingly hapless conduct of this baseball of a president,
getting smacked around by big steroid-sculpted biceps swinging fat slabs
of menacing lumber at the velocity of their choice.  Nor will it be the
blown opportunities of epic proportion, not likely to be seen again for a
long time.

It is likely to be, instead, the door that was opened for far worse to be
inflicted upon the American public and the world.

By failing to stand for anything while the country crumbles, Obama has
virtually begged those who would make the trains run on time to seize

And why shouldn't they "take their country back" from this president,

I mean, the guy wasn't even born in America, right?

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra
University in New York.  He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to
his articles (dmg [at], but regrets that time
constraints do not always allow him to respond.  More of his work can be
found at his website,

[So we have this hopeless slug as described above. Yet many will say:
  Yeah, but gosh I may have to vote for that hopeless slug in 2012, lesser
evil ya know, so I don't care how totally rotten he is, just so he's even
a tad less evil than the totally rotton Republican. Ya know here in the
Free United States, we really don't have the freedom to do anything but
pick the jerk the corporations pick, I mean, we're basically screwed, but
I don't wanna do anything about it, so I'm going with Obama no matter
what. The death of democracy you say, but you know, who cares - it's a
lesser evil than being tortured with hot pokers right now so I'll take


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