|Progressive Calendar 05.31.06||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Wed, 31 May 2006 03:05:03 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 05.31.06 1. Eagan peace vigil 6.01 4:30pm 2. Small is beautiful 6.01 5pm 3. Northtown vigil 6.01 5pm 4. Minnesota Cuba 6.01 6:30pm 5. Middle-East books 6.01 7pm 6. Troops/peace 6.01 7pm Stillwater MN 7. Pentel/GP/governor? 6.01 7pm 8. Eisenstein/film 6.01 8pm 9. Arise fleas! 6.02-03 10. ffunch lunch 6.02 11:30am 11. Schultz/AM950 6.02 5pm 12. Jesse/64A/party 6.02 6pm 13. West bank story 6.02 time? 14. Islamic dance 6.02-04 8pm 15. Michael Albert - Conspiracy theory/institutional theory 16. Charles Sullivan - Fruit of the poison tree 17. Joe Kay - The Enron verdicts: corruption & US capitalism 18. Kate Randall - Most Democrats back General Hayden 19. Rich Broderick - Keeping faith --------1 of 19-------- From: Greg and Sue Skog <skograce [at] mtn.org> Subject: Eagan peace vigil 6.01 4:30pm CANDLELIGHT 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. --------2 of 19-------- From: Jesse Mortenson <jmortenson [at] Macalester.edu> Subject: Small is beautiful 6.01 5pm First and third Tuesdays of the month 6.01 5pm Cahoots coffeehouse Selby 1/2 block east of Snelling in StPaul Limit bigboxes, chain stores, TIF, corporate welfare, billboards; promote small business and co-ops, local production & self-sufficiency. http://www.gpsp.org/goodbusiness --------3 of 19-------- From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 6.01 5pm NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday to 5 to 6 pm, 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. --------4 of 19-------- From: Minnesota Cuba Committee <mncuba [at] usfamily.net> Subject: Minnesota Cuba 6.01 6:30pm The next meeting of the Minnesota Cuba Committee will be at 6:30, Thursday June 1, Holy Trinity Church, 2730 31st St. East, Minneapolis. Upcoming events are a program on Venezuela in early June (details to come) and the June 22 Pastors for Peace caravan at St. Albert the Great church. For more information call 612 623-3452 or 651 983-3981 http://groups.msn.com/minnesotacubacommittee --------5 of 19-------- From: david unowsky <david.unowsky [at] gmail.com> Subject: Middle-East books 6.01 7pm Cathy Sultan and Kim Jensen - Middle East peace and human rights activists - discuss their books at Magers and Quinn 7pm Thursday June 1. (3038 Hennepin Av S Minneapolis 612-822-4611 www.magersandquinn.com) Cathy Sultan and Kim Jensen have much in common. Both have lived in the Middle East; both are married to men of Middle Eastern background; both work for peace and on behalf of human rights; and both have written frank, tough, books with no false illusions about Palestinians, Israelis, and Americans. Both, however, leave us with hope that common ground can be found. Kim Jensen's novel The Woman I Left Behind (Curbstone Press) tells the story of a love between a Palestinian student and a young American woman. This remarkable debut novel explores the difficulties of an intercultural relationship, and it gives us a rare glimpse into Palestinian history and culture. Set in Southern California during the first Gulf War with flashback scenes in Jerusalem and Beirut, The Woman I Left Behind reveals the cultural dilemmas that inevitably occur when lovers from different worlds come together. Kim Jensen lives in Maryland and is an Assistant Professor of English at the Community College of Baltimore County. Cathy Sultan lived in Beirut with her Lebanese doctor husband and their children from 1969 to 1983. She chronicled that period of her life in her earlier book A Beirut Heart: One Woman's War (Scarletta Press). The experience left her with a mind-broadening education about the realities of Middle East politics and led her to become the peace activist that she is today. She sits on the executive board of the National Peace Foundation where she directs Middle East educational projects. Her new book Israeli and Palestinian Voices: a Dialogue with Both Sides (Scarletta Press) is part travel writing, part adventure, and part history all bound together with a remarkable collection of interviews conducted first-hand in a variety of not very safe places. For Further Info: David Unowsky 612-822-461 Davidu [at] magersandquinn.com Magers and Quinn Booksellers 3038 Hennepin Avenue South Minneapolis MN 55408 612-822-4611 www.magersandquinn.com Curbstone Press: Jantje Tielken 860-423-5110 jantje [at] curbstone.org Cathy Sultan: 715-839-9298 cgsultan [at] charter.net Scarletta Press: www.scarlettapress.com Ian Graham Leask leaskian [at] aol.com --------6 of 19-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Troops/peace 6.01 7pm Stillwater MN Thursday, 6/1, 7pm, St Croix Valley Peacemakers invites panel of 3 vets to discuss "How We Can Support Our Troops and Still Work for Peace," Ascension Episcopal Church, 214 N 3rd St, Stillwater. FFI: Wayne at 651-439-6414. --------7 of 19-------- Date: Tue, 30 May 2006 00:27:33 -0700 (PDT) From: Ken Pentel <kenpentel [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Pentel/governor/GP? 6.01 7pm Dear Greens and Others, I will have a discussion with supporters who want me to seek the Green Party of MN endorsement for Governor. Thursday, June 1 at 7pm Lori's Coffee House 1441 Cleveland Ave. N, St. Paul (Corner of Buford & Cleveland on the U of M St. Paul Campus) I will weigh the pros and cons of running and then announce. Please call if you have any thoughts or suggestions. Also please notify others who may be interested Ken (612) 387-0601 --------8 of 19-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Eisenstein/film 6.01 8pm Thursday, 6/1, 8 pm, Bingo & Seigei Eisenstein's film "Que Viva Mexico," Arise Bookstore, 2441 Lyndale Ave S, Mpls. www.arisebookstore.org -------9 of 19------- From: Arise! Bookstore Announcements <arise [at] arisebookstore.org> Subject: Arise fleas! 6.02-03 Friday & Saturday, June 2 & 3 Flea Market Huge yard sale, bake sale and mini-festival at Arise! We are currently taking donations of your stuff to sell to help us raise money for our upcoming store beautification! Drop off any items at the store and let the volunteer know it is for the flea market. Arise! Bookstore 2441 Lyndale Ave. Minneapolis 612-871-7110 www.arisebookstore.org --------10 of 19-------- From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: ffunch lunch 6.02 11:30am Meet the FFUNCH BUNCH! 11:30am-1pm First Friday Lunch (FFUNCH) for Greens/progressives. Informal political talk and hanging out. Day By Day Cafe 477 W 7th Av St Paul. Meet in the private room (holds 12+). Day By Day: soups, salads, sandwiches, and dangerous apple pie; is close to downtown St Paul & on major bus lines --------11 of 19-------- From: Wyn Douglas <wyn_douglas [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Schultz/AM950 6.02 5pm David Schultz, who has provided legal counsel to the Greens, hosts on Fridays from 5-6pm, "Minnesota Matters," on Air America Minnesota radio, 950 AM. Progressive discussion, interviews, and call in. GPM members are urged to listen and call in. So far David Berger has been a guest and topics such as single-payer health insurance, the environment, political reform, and economic justice are staples of discussion. --------12 of 19------- From: Jesse Mortenson <jesse [at] jessemortenson.com> Subject: Jesse/64A/party 6.02 6pm Friday, June 2: 6-9pm Campaign Party - Cahoots Coffee Bar (Selby and Snelling) http://www.jessemortenson.com/party/cahoots We're going to have a great time at Cahoots: owner Saed Kakish will be sharing his traditional dance skills - as well as his skill with food and coffee! We'll enjoy some free Middle Eastern food - everyone is welcome. I'm proud to have Saed's support as a Metro Independent Business Alliance member and proprietor of my favorite coffee shop. Prepared and paid for by Jesse Mortenson for 64A, 1709 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104; Andy Hamerlinck, Treasurer --------13 of 19-------- From: john bueche <jfb [at] bedlamtheatre.org> Subject: West bank story/play 6.02 time? bedlam theatre presents WEST BANK STORY Book&Lyrics by John Bueche - Music by Marya Hart - directed by Maren Ward Bedlam unleashes a historic new musical celebrating the life and times of Minneapolis' high rising, rabble rousing West Bank neighborhood. Developed through two years of research, storytelling, wrangling and cavorting at a real Minnesota crossroads. Bedlam brings together 18 performers, a 5 piece live band, and an evolving revolving cardboard cityscape to portray 1 neighborhood in 3 pivotal time periods: 1898- the time of Bohemian flats and Snoose Boulevard 1972- a time for a new Co-op Movement and a New-Town-in-Town 2006- a time of Little Africa and Tall Bicycles in a Minneapolis that's booming all over again.... West Bank Story - Everybody's Got One Set Design by Julian McFaul - Costumes by Soozin Hirshmugl and Kristi Ternes - Lighting by Heidi Eckwall - Choreography by Megan Holm - Stage Managed by Josina Manu and Emily Anderson - Assistant Direction by Crystal Spring Performances by: Saudi Arten, Heidi Bakke, Margot Bassett, John Carter, Jon Cole, Kia Erdmann, Garrett Ferderber, Rakel Garcia, Megan Holm, Darien Johnson, Nick Kunz, Kira Lace, Ijabo Musse, Neha Patel, Jonathan Peterson, Savannah Reich, Janet Williams and Laurie Witzkowski June 2- 25 at Mixed Blood Theater - 1501 S. 4th St. Minneapolis please join us for a rollicking reception following the opening night performance Thursdays-Saturdays 8pm and Sundays 2pm Box Office and Reservations call 612-338-6131 tix $10-$15 (no one turned away) PLUS Pay-What-You-Think-Its-Worth all opening weekend. Please Note the Following Post-Show events June 2 - opening night reception Sunday, June 4 - West Bank Community Visioning Saturday, June 10 - Boogie in the Firehouse Sunday, June 11 - Panel Discussion - Immigration then and now Friday, June 16 - Post Show Discussion Sunday, June 18 - Neighborhood Stories John Francis Bueche, Bedlam Theatre 612.327.6089 jfb [at] bedlamtheatre.org --------14 of 19-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Islamic dance 6.02-04 8pm 6/2 to 6/4, Fri & Sat @ 8 pm, Sun @ 2 pm, Ethnic Dance Theatre presents Music and Dance of Islamic Cultures across the World (Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Bosnia, Albania, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Afghanistan), Concordia U, EM Pearson Theatre, 312 N Hamline, St Paul. $25 from Ticketworks (no fees) 651-209-6689. --------15 of 19-------- Conspiracy theory/institutional theory Michael Albert http://www.zmag.org/parecon/conspiracy.htm The Difference TO SEE THE operational difference between conspiracy theory and institutional theory we can compare a smattering of the views of two currently popular critics of U.S. foreign policy, Noam Chomsky and Craig Hulet. Here is an indicative passage from each. HULET: "This isn't about Kuwait. This isn't about oil. It has nothing to do with those things. And it certainly doesn't have anything to do with reinstalling a legitimate government [in Kuwait] when for the first time we're trying to install a legitimate government which is a non-military despotism listed by Amnesty International as committing the same heinous crimes against his people [as Hussein]... What I am suggesting is that for the first time we're going to expend American lives to put in a tyrant of only a smaller stature because of the size of his country...there is a foreign policy that is being orchestrated in violation of U.S. law, international law, and the U.S. constitution. Should that surprise anyone after Watergate, the Kennedy assassination?... "Why should Americans die to restore a dictator invaded by another dictator? First it was to protect Saudi Arabia. Everybody now knows he [Hussein] had no intention of going any further than Kuwait. So they dropped that as a reason. They came up with the next one, that this is about oil. Then all of a sudden oil prices, right in the midst of the war, drop to $21 a barrel, which was where it was before the war. So it obviously can't be about oil. So it can't be our vital interests at stake. Is it about a legitimate government? If it's about a legitimate government, then we're putting back in power a despot under the Breshnev doctrine, not the Truman doctrine. The Breshnev doctrine being that we treat all nations as sovereign equalities regardless of how despotic they are, and we keep them in power. So for the first time George Bush is now acting out the Breshnev doctrine rather than installing a free republic or keeping a free people free. [There follows a long discussion of the U.S. holdings and influence of the Al Sabah ruling Kuwaiti family, followed by listener questions primarily focused on the efficacy of impeaching George Bush to which Hulet's response is:] It's going to be up to the public whether or not George Bush--and I agree, it's a ruling Junta--is impeached. It won't be just up to Senators and Congressmen to make this decision. They won't make the decision unless public opinion supports this kind of action." [emphasis mine, M.A.] CHOMSKY: "If we hope to understand anything about the foreign policy of any state, it is a good idea to begin by investigating the domestic social structure: Who sets foreign policy? What interests do these people represent? What is the domestic source of their power? It is a reasonable surmise that the policy that evolves will reflect the special interests of those who design it. An honest study of history will reveal that this natural expectation is quite generally fulfilled. The evidence is overwhelming, in my opinion, that the United States is no exception to the general rule--a thesis that is often characterized as a `radical critique'... "Some attention to the historical record, as well as common sense, leads to a second reasonable expectation: In every society there will emerge a caste of propagandists who labor to disguise the obvious, to conceal the actual workings of power, and to spin a web of mythical goals and purposes, utterly benign, that allegedly guide national policy... any horror, any atrocity will be explained away as an unfortunate--or sometimes tragic--deviation from the national purpose.... "Since World War II there has been a continuing process of centralization of decision-making in the state executive, certainly with regard to foreign policy. Secondly, there has been a tendency through much of this period toward domestic economic concentration. Furthermore, these two processes are closely related, because of the enormous corporate influence over the state executive..." THE COMMONALTY OFTEN evidenced in these two thinkers is distaste for U.S. foreign policy. The difference is that Hulet generally understands policy as the preferences of particular groups of people--in this case, "a junta" and the Al Sabah family--barely referring to institutions at all. Chomsky always understands the policies as arising from particular institutions--for example, "the state executive" and corporations. For Hulet, the implicit problem is to punish or "impeach" the immediate culprits, a general point applicable to all conspiracy theory. The modis operendi of the conspiracy theorist therefore makes sense whenever the aim is to attribute proximate personal blame for some occurrence. If we want to prosecute someone for a political assassination to extract retribution or to set a precedent that makes it harder to carry out such actions, the approach of the conspiracy theorist is critical. But the conspiracy approach is beside the point for understanding the cause of political assassinations to develop a program to prevent all policies that thwart popular resistance. Conspiracy theorizing mimics the personality/ dates/times approach to history. It is a sports fans' or voyeur's view of complex circumstances. It can manipulate facts or present them accurately. When it's done honestly, it has its place, but it is not always the best approach. For Chomsky, the problem is to discern the underlying institutional causes of foreign policy. The modus operandi of the institutional theorist would not make much sense for discovering which individuals conceived and argued for a policy, or who in particular decided to bomb a civilian shelter. To understand why these things happen, however, and under what conditions they will or will not continue to happen, institutional theory is indispensable and the motives, methods, and timetables of the actual perpetrators are beside the point. Take the media. A conspiracy approach will highlight the actions of some coterie of editors, writers, newscasters, particular owners, or even a lobby. An institutional approach will mention the actions of these actors as evidence, but will highlight the corporate and ideological pressures giving rise to those influences. A person inclined toward finding conspiracies will listen to evidence of media subservience to power and see a cabal of bad guys, perhaps corporate, perhaps religious, perhaps federal, censoring the media from doing its proper job. The conspiracist will then want to know about the cabal and how people succumb to its will, etc. A person inclined toward institutional analysis will listen to evidence of media subservience to power and see that the media's internal bureaucracy, socialization processes, and interests of its owners engender these results as part of the media succeeding at its job. The institutionalist will then want to know about the media's struc tural features and how they work, and about the guiding interests and what they imply. The conspiracy approach will lead people to believe that either: (a) They should educate the malefactors to change their motives, or (b) They should get rid of the malefactors and back new editors, writers, newscasters, or owners. The institutional approach will note the possible gains from changes in personnel, but explain how limited these changes will be. It will incline people (a) Toward a campaign of constant pressure to offset the constant institutional pressures for obfuscation, or (b) Toward the creation of new media free from the institutional pressures of the mainstream. ed comment: [From the above, conspiracy is particular, institution general. Institutions generate, among other things, conspiracies. Keep the institutions the same, and a conspiracy will spring up overnight in the tracks of the last slain conspriracy. Endless. With the institutions of capitalism and class rule and gross economic inequality (ie, America today), the rich will war on us endlessly, one filthy conspiracy after another. Meaning, to end these major conspiracies, we must end capitalism as we know it, class rule, and gross economic inequality. A ruling class invariably and constantly looks to us to steal our little piles, to put them into their few big piles. Theft, pure and simple. Many (rich parasites) working together, under cover, for unjust ends - ie conspiracies. Conspiracies are the particulars we use to prove the structure of our insitutions. We must spend time investigating some, to show they are not empty threats. Then we need to move on to institutions, to see how we can cut off major conspiracies at the source, rather than having to deal with each and every nasty scam year after year. (A local example: Major league sports as we know them are the endless source of stadium scams. Keep major sports as they are, and deal with Pohlads tying the Legislature down every few years for even more money. Pohlads are never satisfied; give 'em one billion and they demand two. Change the institution). -ed] --------16 of 19-------- Fruit of the Poison Tree by Charles Sullivan www.dissidentvoice.org/May06/Sullivan22.htm May 22, 2006 Millions of citizens are rightly calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush due to his criminal and unethical policies. Bush is a cancer not only on the presidency but upon basic human decency. Any sane person, regardless how marginal they are, can see that Bush must go, and the sooner the better. However, when Bush is gone the system that produced him will remain in place, as healthy and viable as ever. It will continue to bear a plentiful crop of poison fruit, perhaps even more sinister than Bush. The majority of the people are toiling under the illusion that the moral abyss of American politics can be reformed and made to serve the people as well as the public interest. According to this line of reasoning, the malignancy is principally the result of a few bad apples mixed with the good. If they are correct, then removing the bad apples will affect a cure. Yet that has never been the case and it is not the case now. Otherwise, we would not be where we are today. Consider, for example, that America's Middle East policy has remained essentially the same as it is today through eleven presidencies, consistently yielding the same results. The fault lies in the unfounded belief that the poison tree can somehow bear edible fruit. We lobby for our candidate in the naïve belief that if only the other party can get into office things will improve. During the two plus centuries of the American experiment this has occurred many times. Yet the policy decisions have preserved a remarkable homogeneity down through the years. The policies enacted by both the Democrats and the Republicans have almost always disproportionately benefited the wealthy. They have led us into armed conflicts around the world that have resulted in the death of millions of people in war after war. That is because we are living with Plutocratic rule in which wealth, not we the people, holds sway and determines governmental policy. Every aspect of American politics is enacted within the shell of Plutocratic corporate rule. Therefore, the Plutocratic tree will continue to bear the fruit of Plutocracy, regardless of which party is in power. During the past fifty years of the American experiment the difference between Democrat and Republican has become increasingly subtle. In essence there is only one party -- that of wealth and privilege. The people and the public good are without meaningful representation in government. There are a number of small opposition parties operating in America but the system precludes them from becoming major players. Where does this leave us? It leaves us with the sober realization that what ails America cannot be repaired through mere political reform. The poisonous tentacles of capital have enwrapped every political organ over which it exercises complete dictatorial control. The malignancy of capital is so pervasive and systemic as to require revolution for its removal. Otherwise, things will continue to worsen and our republic will suffer a slow and agonizing death, as we are now witnessing. The American government in its various incarnations was not created to serve the interests of the people. It was designed to serve capital and to create wealth for the upper echelon by exploiting the working class and plundering the earth. In fact, it is a voracious predatory crime syndicate devoid of conscience that creates perpetual war while simultaneously pilfering the public treasury. It remains in power only through the collusion of its obedient servant, the commercial media and a disengaged public. This continues against a specter of an ever widening gap between the haves and the have-nots, costly foreign invasions and occupations, and extended global hegemony. These policies have resulted in millions of innocent deaths world wide, obscene defense spending and the systematic demise of programs of social and spiritual uplift. Despite numerous changing of the guards things are getting progressively worse -- perhaps exponentially. Our continued faith in politics and political reform is unwarranted, I contend, given the judgment of more than two hundred years of historical evidence against this thinking. I realize that this is both a sobering and disturbing conclusion. The blunt truth is that social ills cannot be corrected through political reform within the framework of capitalism. Any form of government that serves capital rather than democracy cannot and does not have the interest of the people or the public good at heart. If the core problem is capital, as I believe it is, the system cannot be reformed. Capital is by its very nature violent, coercive, oppressive and unjust, as revealed by the historical evidence. This history is particularly poignant in capital's brutal oppression of organized labor, especially during strikes, and through spreading global militarization. Because capital finances and controls the major political parties, it is always assured of both power and control, regardless of which party is in power. Thus capital will never allow meaningful reform that could usurp some of its power and redistribute it among the people. Capital demands complete power and total control over the political process. It will allow no more than minor change within narrow predefined limits that create the illusion of reform. Beyond those limits capital feels threatened and reacts with violent brutality. Capital is particularly onerous in that it socializes costs but privatizes profits -- an especially insidious form of corporate welfare that is inherently unjust. Long ago the corporate government and the commercial media conspired to create a propaganda empire without equal that keeps the people ignorant and inundated with superfluous lies. Virtually all other industrialized nations have socialized medicine and free higher education for those who seek it. But in America our wealth is plundered in wasteful and repressive militarism, massive corporate welfare and tax cuts for the wealthy. Is there no hope for us? Yes, there is but it will require much of us; much more than we have been willing to pay for a long time. Revolution, a popular revolt of the people, is the only means by which power can be wrested from the Plutocrats and their corporate paymasters. Corruption never yields power willingly. It must be forced out and social democracy ushered in. So the question arises: What form will the revolution take? While peaceful rebellion is the most desirable means to accomplish these ends, capital will most assuredly, as it always does, meet resistance with violence and brutality. Again, history provides bountiful examples. According to labor historian James Green, during the thousands of labor strikes that have occurred in this country there were 160 instances in which state and federal militias intervened on behalf of the employers. There is not one instance where the militia intervened to protect workers from the tyranny of their employers. These actions reveal who is running the country and who is making policy. There are well over 700 labor disputes in which striking workers were killed by the police, militias, or the hired guns of industry -- all of this within a span of 230 years. These are ultra conservative estimates. It is no coincidence that America, the nucleus of capitalism, is the greatest purveyor of violence of any nation on earth, as Dr. King rightly pointed out. The people have two principle options. Either we stay the course and allow the republic to suffocate and die, or we revolt. Bush and his neocon cabal have no fear that the people will stop him. He and his ilk thumb their noses at the law with impunity and the working class people's struggle to scratch out a decent living. His Plutocratic policies seem to say, "Let the people eat our shit!" Whatever course we choose to take it should be evident that there is no easy way out. Either we accept whatever injustice the current regime and its corporate thugs dictate to us, or we refuse to co-operate with them. India's Gandhi and our own Dr. King led successful non-violent populist revolutions. Gandhi transformed a nation but Dr. King was assassinated at the pinnacle of the civil rights movement in 1968. Both movements suffered unspeakable brutality and cruelty at the hands of capitalists. Capital will certainly spill our blood. Are we strong enough and courageous enough to do what must be done? The time will come when enough people will become sufficiently uncomfortable and disenfranchised that a massive upheaval will inevitably occur, as the chasm between rich and poor widens. As conditions deteriorate, a group of courageous and socially conscious agitators will appear to awaken and arouse the slumbering masses to action. Many of them will be imprisoned and killed for their political beliefs, as has been the historical pattern. But the time will come when either we fight or perish. It would be better to act sooner rather than waiting to be motivated by sheer desperation, when are at our weakest and most vulnerable. Let us join a worldwide revolution of the working class that is already underway. We have only to look to Latin America for working models. With iron clad global solidarity the people cannot lose. Divided and fragmented we are doomed. We must understand that capital government is right wing government in its purest, most violent and repressive form. It is radically anti-people, anti-earth and anti-democracy. The time has come to uproot the tree that bears the poison fruit. Charles Sullivan is a photographer, freelance writer, and a social activist residing in the hinterland of West Virginia. He welcomes your comments at: earthdog [at] highstream.net. --------17 of 19-------- The Enron verdicts: corruption and American capitalism By Joe Kay 29 May 2006 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/may2006/enro-m29.shtml The guilty verdicts handed down by a Houston jury last week against former Enron chiefs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling provide an opportunity to evaluate the significance of the company's rise and fall within the context of American capitalism. Accounts by jurors given after the verdicts were announced indicate they all agreed that the evidence against the two executives was overwhelming. It consisted mainly of testimony from over a dozen former executives, who implicated Lay and Skilling for their roles in defrauding investors and employees through various forms of accounting manipulation. The jurors quickly rejected the absurd position of the defense that Enron was basically a healthy company that collapsed into bankruptcy in December 2001 largely as the result of Wall Street machinations and negative press coverage. Several jurors indicated they reacted negatively to the testimony of the defendants, and particularly Lay, who could not hide his arrogance while on the stand. Others said Lay's move to sell millions of dollars of company stock in the months before the bankruptcy, even as he encouraged employees to keep buying, was appalling. One juror noted, "That was very much the character of the person that he was. He cashed out before the employees did." Some jurors spoke about social conditions in the US, voicing the hope that the verdicts would send a message to other executives across the country. There is certainly an element of social protest here, directed both at Enron and the broader conditions of inequality and corporate greed, whatever limitations there might be in the jurors' understanding of the underlying forces at work. The conviction of Lay and Skilling stems ultimately from the fact that they headed a company that engaged in market manipulations and fraud which, in their scale and flagrancy, exceeded anything that had gone before in a long history of corrupt business practices. And Enron has since been shown to have been only one of many companies that engaged in similar practices. It is by no means assured that the two executives will spend significant time in prison, though commentators have generally agreed that the legal bases for their appeals are very limited. But, as one juror suggested, money has a way of solving such problems. There are additional factors at work - in particular, the close political connections that Lay and Skilling have with the political establishment in general and the Bush administration in particular. Lay, after all, was for a long time one of Bush's most important political supporters. He is certainly in possession of important information that could be damaging to powerful people. (For example, what exactly was discussed during Cheney's secret Energy Task Force meetings, in which Enron took part?). One would suppose that Lay still has a few aces up his sleeve, as well as friends in high places. A presidential pardon - no doubt as a reward for philanthropic good works - is not out of the question. The verdict has predictably been followed by self-congratulatory comments from sections of the media and the government prosecutors: the convictions demonstrate that the system works, that nobody is above the law, that all misdeeds will eventually be punished, etc., etc. The Wall Street Journal published an editorial along these lines Friday, voicing the arguments that finance capital has made after every one of the major trials involving corporate corruption. It concluded with the claim that "assertions of widespread corporate fraud back in 2001 and 2002 were way overblown." Following the verdict, Sean Berkowitz, the head of the government's Enron Task Force, said that it "sent an unmistakable message to boardrooms across the country - you can't lie to shareholders. You can't put yourself in front of your employees' interests." This under conditions where it remains common practice for executives to award themselves multi-million dollar salaries even as they carry out mass layoffs! Other commentators have been more penetrating, noting that not only was the "Enron phenomenon" widespread, but that the same problems persist today. Kurt Eichenwald, in an article for the New York Times on Friday, wrote that Enron "will forever stand as the ultimate reflection of an era of near madness in finance, a time in the late 1990s when self-certitude and spin became a substitute for financial analysis and coherent business models." The ultimate lesson of Enron, Eichenwald suggested, is the picture it presents of "a corporate culture poisoned by hubris, leading ultimately to a recklessness that placed the business's survival at risk." The Times' business commentator, Gretchen Morgenson, entitled her Sunday article "Are Enrons Bustin' Out All Over?" and cited recent cases of corporate fraud, particularly that of housing lender Fannie Mae. Lawyers for Lay and Skilling were close to the truth when they argued that the prosecution's logic implied the criminalization of standard business practices (and therefore their defendants should not be convicted for doing what every one else was doing). Skilling's lawyer Dan Petrocelli stated in his closing arguments that if the jury accepted the government's case, "we might as well put every CEO in jail." Certain conclusions may legitimately be drawn from this statement that Mr. Petrocelli never intended. However, even the more probing comments in the media miss the central lesson: that Enron and the corporate environment which created it were the products of basic tendencies of American capitalist development. They were the outcome of a political and social policy that has been pursued by both big business parties - a policy that has encouraged greed, corruption and criminality as part of a ruthless drive to attack the living standards and social gains of American workers. Beginning particularly in the 1980s, the American ruling elite responded to the economic crisis of the previous decade by shifting the way businesses operate. Greater competition from Europe and Asia had begun to cut into the American ruling class' status as hegemon of the world capitalist system. From the standpoint of the social position of Wall Street and corporate America, it became necessary to eliminate concessions granted to workers in an earlier period. Deregulation, the attack on higher-quality jobs, the elimination of social programs - these were all part of a policy aimed at redistributing wealth from the bottom to the top, cutting into the share allocated to the actual producers of this wealth. Big Wall Street investors began placing ever-greater demands on corporate management to return quick profits, often by means of wage cuts and downsizing. The measure of corporate success increasingly became short-term earnings, closely linked to the fluctuations in a company's stock. As the World Socialist Web Site noted shortly after Enron's collapse, the operations of the stock market have become central to the functioning of the world capitalist economy. "Every day trillions of dollars course through global equity, currency and financial markets in the search for profit. Since the start of the 1980s as much as 75 percent of the total return on investments has resulted from capital gains arising from an appreciation of market values, rather than from profits and interest. In this drive for shareholder value, each corporation is compelled, on pain of extinction, to devise measures which attract investment funds by lifting the price of securities above that which would be justified by an objective valuation of the underlying assets." (See "Enron: The real face of the 'new economy'") The interests of executives were tied in with the interests of Wall Street through a variety of mechanisms - in particular, the increased use of such forms of compensation as stock options. Executives who managed to keep their stock prices high were, and continue to be, richly rewarded. While originally developed as part of the drive to increase productivity and cut costs in response to the economic problems of American capitalism, financial speculation has inevitably taken on a life of its own. To keep stock prices high, companies have resorted to all sorts of operations - including fraud and accounting manipulations. Such considerations as the long-term health of the company have increasingly taken a back seat to the need to satisfy Wall Street's demands for ever-rising short-term earnings. It has been widely acknowledged by executives themselves that they often make decisions contrary to the longer-term interests of their own corporations. The process was a means of generating vast, previously unheard of fortunes, particularly during the late 1990s. That half-decade saw an explosion of social inequality. Some people made lots of money, and companies like Enron were essential to this process of wealth redistribution. A new social type was created in the process, one that calls to mind Marx's description of the French finance aristocracy before the revolution of 1848, in which "the mania to get rich was repeated in every sphere... to get rich not by production, but by pocketing the already available wealth of others." In words that could apply just as well to the likes of Skilling and Lay, Marx wrote: "Clashing every moment with the bourgeois laws themselves, an unbridled assertion of unhealthy and dissolute appetites manifested itself, particularly at the top of bourgeois society - lusts wherein wealth derived from gambling naturally seeks its satisfaction, where pleasure becomes debauched, where money, filth and blood commingle." Enron combined within itself the basic features of a new type of American business operation. It was a company whose operations did not, for the most part, involve the production of anything of value. Enron exploited the deregulation of the energy markets to insert itself as a middleman, siphoning off revenues at the expense of consumers and speculating on energy prices. Skilling considered one of his and Enron's greatest accomplishments the virtually single-handed creation of the wholesale energy market, which during the late '90s became a new means of speculation and price-gouging. All of the various components of American capitalism were involved in the operation: Wall Street investors and analysts, who bought and boosted Enron stock; investment banks, which provided loans and helped Enron cover up its losses; the media, which perpetuated the myth that companies like Enron and executives like Lay and Skilling were representatives of a new, vibrant and productive stage of capitalism. Enron personified the new social layer in which "money, filth and blood commingle." One need only recall the tapes recording the gloating of Enron energy traders over the California energy crisis of 2001, a crisis caused to a considerable degree by Enron's own market manipulations. (They joked about gouging money from "those poor grandmothers in California.") Or the shooting death in January 2002 of former Enron vice chairman J. Clifford Baxter, who had opposed to some extent the high-handed methods at Enron and was, at the time of his extraordinarily timely suicide, due to testify in various investigations into the collapse of the company. (See "The strange and convenient death of J. Clifford Baxter-Enron executive found shot to death") The consequences for ordinary Americans (and not just Americans, since Enron and companies like it operate and have interests all over the world) have been devastating, and have been particularly felt since the stock market collapse of 2001: the decline in living standards, increasing indebtedness, a relentless assault on decent-paying jobs and benefits. The increased exploitation of working people has been a critical part of the drive to maintain and expand the wealth of a tiny oligarchy. When the companies mired in corruption collapsed, jobs and retirement savings were eliminated overnight. None of these conditions has been eliminated. The drive to reduce wages, cut health care and pension programs and eliminate regulations on business has, in fact, intensified. Recent revelations of the widespread practice of backdating stock options (to ensure the largest possible gains for executives) demonstrate that corruption persists. The stock market and financial manipulations play as important and damaging a role today as they did five years ago. In the event of another stock market collapse, which is inevitable given the precarious world economic situation, a host of new Enrons will be exposed. Largely ignored in the mass of media reportage on the Enron verdicts is the intimate political connection between Lay and George W. Bush. Lay was one of Bush's key backers from Bush's early political career in Texas until Enron went bankrupt, after Bush had become president. Former Enron executives took up posts in the Bush administration, and Lay exercised veto power over an important position dealing with energy regulation. At the Enron CEO's request, one candidate was ditched in favor of another hand-picked by Lay. Enron also played a critical role in the formulation of the Bush administration's energy policy and plans for war in Iraq, through participation in Vice President Cheney's secret Energy Task Force. And while Enron was price-gouging and restricting energy supplies in California, costing residents of the state billions of dollars, the Bush administration refused to intervene and impose price caps, despite repeated requests from the state government. In view of the scale of the scandal and the obvious political connections, the political fallout has been remarkably negligible. But then again, the nominal opposition party is thoroughly complicit in promoting the network of social relations that produced Enron. The company's rise, and the vast growth of speculation and inequality, took place mainly during the administration of Bill Clinton. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to point to one instance in which the Democratic president raised criticisms of the company while it was making money for Wall Street and the American ruling class as a whole. The conviction of Lay and Skilling will, in the end, do nothing to address the more fundamental issues confronting working people. Even if the two do go to jail for a significant period of time, the outcome provides cold comfort to the thousands of workers who have lost their jobs and savings. The wealthy who profited from Enron can write off their subsequent losses and move on to the next speculative money-making scheme. The situation is altogether different for ordinary working people. The government felt compelled to bring the case because of the public outcry that followed the revelations of massive corruption. There was, and still is, great concern within ruling circles that such crimes could become a focus for broader social grievances, and that outrage could take on more overtly political forms. Lay and Skilling are guilty of crimes, but they are not limited to the particular instances of fraud committed at Enron. They are an expression and outgrowth of broader social crimes. The guilt of Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling is the guilt of American capitalism. -------18 of 19-------- Lopsided vote in US Senate to confirm NSA spy chief to head CIA Most Democrats back General Hayden By Kate Randall 29 May 2006 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/may2006/hayd-m29.shtml General Michael Hayden was confirmed as the next CIA director on Friday by a 78-15 vote in the US Senate. Twenty-six Democrats and 1 independent joined 51 Republicans in a bipartisan show of support for George W. Bush's nominee to head the spy agency. Hayden replaces Porter Goss, who resigned under pressure from the White House earlier this month. As former head of the National Security Agency (NSA), Hayden was the principal architect of the recently exposed spying program initiated shortly after 9/11, under which the NSA has been secretly, without court warrants, tracking the telephone calls of over 200 million Americans. As reported by USA Today earlier this month, the dragnet has amassed a huge database of telephone records handed over to the NSA by the largest US telecommunications companies. Last December, the New York Times reported on another NSA program to secretly eavesdrop on the phone calls of US citizens without a warrant. Both of these programs, put into operation under Hayden's watch, had been hidden from the American people for more than four years. They stand in flagrant violation of constitutional safeguards against government invasions of privacy as well as federal laws governing telecommunications and domestic surveillance. Democratic leaders indicated from the start of the confirmation process that they would not seek to block Hayden's nomination. A 12-3 vote on the Senate Intelligence Committee last Tuesday set the stage for Friday's easy confirmation by the full Senate. Four Democrats joined the eight Republicans on the committee to recommend Hayden's approval. (See "Democrats ensure confirmation of NSA spy chief to head CIA") The vote to confirm Hayden shows the support among leading Democrats for the buildup of police-state measures against the US population. It underscores the existence of a consensus within the American ruling elite as a whole for the assault on democratic rights being pursued by Bush administration in the name of the "war on terror." A number of Democrats were fulsome in their praise for Hayden. In a statement expressing her support, Dianne Feinstein (California) said, "I believe General Hayden is the sound intelligence professional the CIA needs to regain its footing as the world's premier spy service...." Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid stated that he was "hopeful that this nomination signifies that the Bush administration has recognized, finally, that professionals, not partisans should be put in charge of national security." This followed a confirmation hearing in which Hayden refused to provide information on the NSA spying programs or other illegal practices, such as CIA "renditions" of alleged terrorists to countries that practice torture and secret prisons run by the CIA outside the US. Citing "national security," Hayden likewise refused to give a "yes" or "no" answer to questions as to whether certain forms of interrogation constitute torture. This did not prevent the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, from gushing that Hayden had "demonstrated a commitment to working with the Congress to ensure that we can carry out our constitutional responsibilities to oversee intelligence programs." Carl Levin (Michigan), the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, while citing concerns with the "legality and privacy intrusions and effectiveness of the program authorized by the President," added, "I know of no evidence that General Hayden acted beyond the program's guidelines." Also voting to confirm Hayden was Joseph Biden (Delaware), who has declared his intention to seek the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Feinstein, Rockefeller and Levin - all voting in favor of Hayden's confirmation - attended at least one of the briefings by the Bush administration on the domestic spying programs, and were consequently complicit in their implementation. Criticisms made by these senators in the wake of the exposure of the secret programs have centered on proper oversight and the advisability of amending existing laws to make such domestic spying operations legal, not the virulently anti-democratic, police-state character of the spying operations themselves. Included among the 15 Democrats voting against Hayden's confirmation were Edward Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. While opposing the nomination, all three have repeatedly emphasized their support for the basic framework of the Bush administration's assault on democratic rights-the so-called "war on terror." Typical were the comments of John Kerry, the party's 2004 presidential candidate, who criticized Hayden as "the administration's principal spokesperson and defender of an illegal domestic spying program," and quickly added, "We are all committed to destroying terrorists and preventing terrorist attacks before they happen." This is a remarkable statement, which in its own way sums up the cowardice and duplicity of the Democratic Party. If Hayden and his "commander in chief" Bush are guilty of an "illegal domestic spying program," then they are engaged in a criminal conspiracy against the democratic rights of the American people and stand in breach of the US Constitution, which they are by law obligated to uphold. What, then, does the titular head of the Democratic Party propose to do about it? Absolutely nothing. Not only is there no call for Bush or anyone else in his administration to be investigated and held accountable - Kerry and the rest of the Democratic leadership have placed a de facto ban on the word "impeachment" - there is no suggestion that the "illegal domestic spying operation" be halted. The sole Republican to vote against Hayden's confirmation was Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania), who, while describing the general as "a man with an outstanding record," complained that the Judiciary Committee "was stonewalled, plain and simple" by the Bush administration when the panel sought information on domestic spying from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. [When Hillary runs in 2008, many Dems will back her, no matter how badly she and the party have betrayed us. They will ask for proof against her, and reams of it, RIGHT NOW, and when that does not happen him huge waves EVERY time they ask for it, they will conclude that Hillary and the DP are just fine, and that doubters are full of fertilizer and evil motives. So the above is one among many pieces that have been and will be published here; cumulatively they should make the case that Hillary and the national DP are unworthy of support. Please remember each article, and if there ever was a time that Hillary or the national DP showed itself worthy of support. Then come 2008 it will be hard to play dumb/amnesia and pretend all is well in the US/DP and Hillaryville. Best to look for and support better alternatives now; we won't have forever to save ourselves from the dark future it appears BushCo has planned for us. -ed] --------19 of 19------- by Rich Broderick at www.tcdailyplanet.net. Keeping Faith A couple of weeks ago, I purchased the new Bruce Springsteen CD, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, a collection of acoustical recordings of folk songs, hymns, and gospel tunes Springsteen has made over the past 10 years. It is, I am happy to report, a marvelous album, rollicking, soulful, uplifting, and joyous. But my acquisition has also had an unexpected effect. To my surprise my 9-year-old son, Gabriel, has fallen in love with the CD. On the way back and forth to school or running errands in the car, we have played the CD over and over so often that Gabe has come automatically to memorize the words of many of the songs. Even better, the songs have led to questions. What war are they talking about in "Mrs. McGrath," dad, the one in which a young soldier returns home to his mother minus his legs? Who were Moses and Pharaoh, and why is Mary supposed to stop weeping because PharaohÕs army got drownded? Who was John Henry? What was the Erie Canal and why did they dig it? What prize are we supposed to keep our eyes on? Sometimes over the music, sometimes with the sound temporarily muted, I have done my best to provide synoptic answers to these questions, which in turn often lead to longer discussions. As with any child, patience is key, but in this case, I am happy to have to repeat myself. One of Gabe's favorites is "Erie Canal." Surely, there is value in his knowing something about the Erie Canal, about the tens of thousands of Irish immigrant men -- some of them his ancestors -- who were recruited to come over and lend their strong backs to the Big Dig (Why was the wheelbarrow invented?, runs the old, old joke. The answer: To teach the Irish to walk upright.), about the thousands upon thousands of those men -- and hundreds of women and children serving in ancillary roles -- who succumbed to cholera, typhus, TB, and other ailments and accidents during construction, about how the very same country that sought their labor turned around and organized xenophobic political parties (one of which, the Know Nothing Party, was an ancestor to the Republican Party) and posted "No Irish need apply" signs in the windows of factories and shops when the canal was finished, a brief but infuriating chapter among the many chapters in our history about the human toll extracted as the price for building an industrial society. Yes, Gabe needs to know about this, along with the story of the dreams deferred during the long nightmare of Jim Crow segregation and racial terror, as well as the story about how nations have repeatedly seduced young men into going off to war and then abandoned those same young men when they come home broken in body, mind, and spirit. Milan Kundera has written that the history of the 20th century was the history of the struggle between memory and forgetting. What was true of the last century is even more true of the 21st. We live in a society and derive our livelihoods from an economic system that every day urges us to forget, not so we may better live in the present moment, but so that we will be more amenable to enter without thinking into a future, painted for us as a commercial utopia, that is, in reality, a human and spiritual dystopia. The men who built the Erie Canal were asked to trade their bodies to build America's industrial economy. Using the subtle and all-pervasive power of the mainstream media, we, in 21st century America, are merely asked to trade our souls to keep the fictive dynamos of a globalized post-industrial economy humming. If, as I to believe is the case, the phrase "The American Dream" has come to mean the God-given right to lead an unexamined life, then memory -- both individual and collective -- is the one great counterweight we possess to offset the unbearable lightness of being (to borrow another phrase from Kundera) that is the siren song of contemporary commercial culture. When we remember as individuals, we create our own lives and personal indentities. When we remember together -- when we com-memorate -- we create, strengthen and above all, expand the boundaries of our communities. Today, let us remember not the sound of trumpets, not the triumphalist promises of militant capitalism and neoconservative imperialism, but the human toll of those trumpet calls, the swamp of lies behind those false promises. No man, no problem, Stalin said. No memory, no community, no problem, the malefactors of global capitalism and imperialism say today. Twisted creatures, hollow men, men made of straw, the Ken Lays and Jeff Skillings, the George Bushes and Dick Cheneys of this world can only hold sway so long as we fail to remember. The instant we do, their hold on us is dispelled, a word which means, literally, their spell is broken. By an act of faith, the waters part. By an act of memory, they rush back together. And PharaohÕs army gets drowned. Again. e-mail: richb [at] lakecast.com ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments
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