February 2002

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Tues., Feb. 5 1:00­3:00 p.m.

Board meeting at the office. All welcome.

Thurs., Feb. 7 7:00 a.m.­4:30 p.m.

Symposium on the nine health care proposals before the legislature

in Sacramento.

Wed., Feb. 13 12:30­3:30 p.m.

25th Annual Senior Adult's Valentine's Day Dance. New Richmond Recreation, 251 18 Ave. Free. More info: 415/666-7079.

Tues., Feb. 19 12:30­3:00 p.m.

Membership meeting exploring our local

ethics with Ginny Vida, Executive Director

S.F. Ethics Commission, a video, "The Road to Clean Elections" by Bill Moyers and the March ballot with Wende Chan, GP convenor

and representative of the League of Women Voters.

Sat., Feb. 23 10:30 a.m.­12:15 p.m.

OWL monthly meeting: "California's Health Care Options Project," talk by Don Bechler, Chairman, Health Care for All, San Francisco

Chapter. 870 Market Street, Room 485. Info, 415/989-4422.

Help Wanted

Your newsletter needs a Calendar Editor!

We need one individual who will take responsibility for submitting all the days, dates, times and addresses of events and meetings of interest to the Gray Panthers community and who will submit this list to the editors by the 15th of each preceding month. Show your appreciation for the value of this calendar by volunteering. All you need is a phone and an awareness of our causes or send them in by e-mail to <gpssfastrid@igc.apc.org>.

Your newsletter needs you!

Ethics in Today's World

With the threat of terrorism and sense of paranoia it has generated in our population, which of our freedoms are we prepared to sacrifice to insure our safety?

Ginny Vida, Executive Director of the San Francisco Ethics Commission, will discuss this whole scenario from our local governmental point of view.

And on the ballot in March is a proposition that would allow for Proportional Voting, a move to eliminate the long-drawn-out and expensive reruns necessary when one candidate is not a clear winner in the first go-round. Wende Chan, G.P. convenor and representative from the League of Women Voters, will explain the process involved in this proposition and any other that is not self-explanatory.

A Bill Moyers video: "The Road to Clean Elections" will advocate for election reform and help us all be informed voters!

Progressive Report

A hard-fought victory in the battle for autonomy for Berkeley radio station KPFA­FM was gratefully acknowledged by Sherry Gendelman, chair of the KPFA Local advisory Board. She outlined the three-year battle of this flagship station of the Pacifica Radio Network to retain its identity as a progressive, independent, noncommercial, litener-lupported medium catering to the local, highly partisan, liberal community.

But she also cautioned that the 15-month waiting period for confirmation and the $3 million debt need the continuing support and spirited rallies and demonstrations in support of the new National Board. Only continued vigilance will ensure that the court-ordered settlement will bring us the progressive programing we fought so hard for.

This cautionary note was echoed and intensified by Riva Enteen, program director of the National Lawyers Guild, as she recounted the many attacks on our civil liberties promulgated especially since September 11. Even before that awful day, Attorney General John Ashcroft gave warning of his plans for the abrogation of female rights and states' rights, but the event set off a new set of civil liberty cancelations from freedom of speech, the blurring of lines among the FBI, CIA and INS, and privacy, even between a lawyer and client.

Courtesy of the Patriot Act, we have a new, broad definition of terrorism, which includes speech critical of the government and the weakening of all our civil rights. The National Lawyers Guild has published apamphlet, "Know Your Rights," which outlines many of the inroads into our Constitutional rights now being practiced by various law-enforcement agencies. It reminds you that you have the right not to talk to any government agent or be searched without a warrant. They urge you to call their hotline at 415/285-1055 if you feel harassed in any way. This pamphlet is available in the office and at our meetings, or if you'd like to distribute a few, call the Guild hotline (see above) and offer to help.

SS Respite?

Rob Morse commented in the Chronicle (1/13/02):

"Just consider what the Enron collapse means for Social Security 'reform,' one of the biggest issues on Bush's political agenda.

"Bush wants to turn a portion of Social Security funds into personal retirement accounts. In other words, money intended to be insurance against financial disaster would be handed over to Wall Street brokers, whose accounting practices and conflicts of interest lead to disasters like Enron."

Health "Care" Alert!

Watch out for the latest Bush health care ploy. The lure is to provide prenatal care to women without insurance, but it means that the fetus will be reclassified as an "unborn child." Look for prochoice outrage!

In "Defense" of Spin

Spin has been around since the dawn of man, contends Bill Press, author of Spin This, (Pocket Books $26) a very contmporary book describing current and historic machinations in the world of people with a "fish to fry." Start with Satan, in the form of a serpent, promising that Eve wouldn't die if she ate of the tree of knowledge. But he said nothing about being exiled from Eden.

Spin is what makes politics and, by application, journalism, law and advertising. Press got his credentials in spin starting with working in TV and radio and volunteering as chairman of the California Democratic Party. After an unsuccessful run in a Democratic primary for California State Insurance Commissioner, he volunteered for Gene McCarthy and then for San Francisco Supervisor Roger Boas. In nine years as Sacramento chief of staff for State Senator Peter Behr, as executive director of the Planning and Conservation League he became acquainted with all the elected officials in the state. But Press contends that his first introduction to spin ("real spin," he insists) was by a master, California Governor Jerry Brownwhich reinforces the thought that there's good spin and bad spindepending on whose side you're on.

Press writes that Jerry Brown spun the news in his statements to the public. Then, if he didn't get the spin he wanted, he spun it again to the reporters who were supposed to be nonpartisan, all before the story was picked up by the papers or radio or TV. This was virtual spin control. In state capitols it still happens every day. And yet he says that he was unprepared for the "total verbal disconnect in the nation's capital." He compares Washington to Alice's Mad Tea Party. "With every Crossfire guest, I understood the words but they didn't exactly say what they meant, or mean what they said." A very recent egregious example of spin by omission is the editorial treatment of some of our most thoughtful writers. By excerpting certain words from much larger contexts, the press has labeled Barbara Kinsolver, Susan Sontag, Wendell Berry, Alice Walker, Molly Ivins, Arundhati Roy, Barry Lopez and many more as "unpatriotic."

All of the above is why I decided to review this book as a lead-in to explaining my own philosophy as publisher of the San Francisco Gray Panthers newsletter. Yes, we are a newsletter or house organ, not a bulletin or newspaper. We are advocates for the progressive, liberal, side of politics and promote in our publication the spin that our organization puts on events. Unsigned articles in this newsletter are reflections of the spin of the Board of Directors or they are purely factual accounts of events. Signed articles, such as this one, reflect the individual opinion of the writer, not necessarily that agreed upon by the Board. I happen to agree with almost all of the spin that the Gray Panthers put on events and the means of attaining ends, but unless the Board puts its "seal of approval" on that spin, it will continue to be a signed article in this newsletter. Astrid M. Spector, Publisher

The Newsletter of the San Francisco Gray Panthers is published each month, and distributed free of charge to members and friends of this nonprofit organization.

Editorial Board: Rebecca Hirshleifer, Mitzi Raas; Publisher, Astrid M. Spector; Art Director, Fannie Biderman; Proof, Lurilla Harris; Circulation: Harold Greenblatt and Mary Francis Smith. Printed by Graffik Natwicks; Webpage design: Barry Simpkins

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