Progressive Calendar 05.31.06
From: David Shove (
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]>
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]>
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.

--------3 of 19--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
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

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]

--------4 of 19--------

From: Minnesota Cuba Committee <mncuba [at]>
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

--------5 of 19--------

From: david unowsky <david.unowsky [at]>
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

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

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]
Magers and Quinn Booksellers 3038 Hennepin Avenue South Minneapolis MN
55408 612-822-4611

Curbstone Press: Jantje Tielken 860-423-5110 jantje [at]
Cathy Sultan: 715-839-9298 cgsultan [at]
Scarletta Press: Ian Graham Leask leaskian [at]

--------6 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
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

--------7 of 19--------

Date: Tue, 30 May 2006 00:27:33 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ken Pentel <kenpentel [at]>
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]>
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.

-------9 of 19-------

From: Arise! Bookstore Announcements <arise [at]>
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

--------10 of 19--------

From: David Shove <shove001 [at]>
Subject: ffunch lunch 6.02 11:30am

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]>
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]>
Subject: Jesse/64A/party 6.02 6pm

Friday, June 2: 6-9pm
Campaign Party - Cahoots Coffee Bar (Selby and Snelling)

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]>
Subject: West bank story/play 6.02 time?

bedlam theatre presents
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

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
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]

--------14 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
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

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

"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

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

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

(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 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
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

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

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

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

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]

--------17 of 19--------

The Enron verdicts: corruption and American capitalism
By Joe Kay
29 May 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
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

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.


e-mail: richb [at]


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   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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