|Progressive Calendar 11.15.06||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2006 07:48:26 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 11.15.06 1. CCHT housing 11.15 7:30am 2. One big union/CTV 11.15 10am 3. Living wage intro 11.15 3pm/5pm 4. Colombia 11.15 5pm 5. Homeless/play 11.15 6pm 6. Katrina/animals 11.15 6:30pm 7. Protest USCentCom 11.15 6:30pm 8. Ron Jacobs - New head, same policy; the perishing republic 9. William S Lind - Lose a war, lose an election 10. Sharon Smith - Democrats, born to compromise 11. Joe Bageant - Pissing in the Liberal punchbowl 12. ed - Hunker down (poem) --------1 of 12-------- From: Philip Schaffner <PSchaffner [at] ccht.org> Subject: CCHT housing 11.15 7:30am Learn how Central Community Housing Trust is responding to the affordable housing shortage in the Twin Cities. Please join us for a 1-hour Building Dreams presentation. Minneapolis Sessions: Nov 30 at 7:30a St. Paul Sessions: Nov 15 at 7:30a; Dec 6 at 4:30p We are also happy to present Building Dreams at your organization, place of worship, or business. Space is limited, please register online at: www.ccht.org/bd or call Philip Schaffner at 612-341-3148 x237 Central Community Housing Trust 1625 Park Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55404 (612) 341-3148 www.ccht.org --------2 of 12-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: One big union/CTV 11.15 10am Dear St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers: "Our World In Depth" airs at 5 pm and midnight each Tuesday and 10 am each Wednesday on SPNN Channel 15. Below are the scheduled shows through the end of November. 11/14 and 11/15 "One Big Union" An interview with Phil Schrader of the IWW. Hosted by Karen Redleaf. 11/21 and 11/22 "Is Criticism of Israel Anti-Semitic: An Evening with Norman Finkelstein" Part 1 of a talk given 11/5 at St. Joan of Arc Church. 11/28 and 11/29 "Is Criticism of Israel Anti-Semitic: An Evening with Norman Finkelstein" Part 2 of a talk given 11/5 at St. Joan of Arc Church. "Our World In Depth" features analysis of public affairs with consideration of and participation from Twin Cities area activists. The show is mostly local and not corporately influenced! For information about future programming of "Our World In Depth", please send an e-mail to eric-angell [at] riseup.net. (PS It might be better than PBS.) --------3 of 12-------- From: "Alison Harris" <Alison [at] takeactionminnesota.org> Subject: Living wage intro 11.15 3pm/5pm It was moved again. Now it will be Wednesday Nov. 15th at 5PM @ ST. Paul City Hall with the press conference at 3PM. Hope to see you all there. I am terribly sorry for all this confusion (they keep switching it around on me!). Thanks for your patience. Alison Harris Community and Political Organizer TakeAction Minnesota 1821 University Ave W S-137 St. Paul, MN 55104 651-379-0753 Fax 651-645-1311 www.TakeActionMinnesota.org --------4 of 12-------- From: Erika Zurawski <zura0007 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Colombia 11.15 5pm The Student Struggle Against Free Trade & Imperialism In Colombia Wednesday, Nov 15 @ 5:00pm @ La Raza Student Cultural Center, Coffman 211 Come hear from AWOL and Anti-War Committee activists who participated in a human rights delegation this summer about the US role in Colombia. They met with student activists from multiple campuses who organize student strikes and demonstrations to resist the US agenda in Colombia and Latin America. --------5 of 12-------- From: "Human Rights Center @ the U of MN" <humanrts [at] UMN.EDU> Subject: Homeless/play 11.15 6pm November 15, 2006 - "Stop Staring, Start Seeing," mind-altering theater starring homeless and housed actors. Time: 6:00-8:00pm. Cost: $18.00 adults; $5:00 student; Free for U of M Students and Faculty. The Minnesota Coaches Association and the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center present "Stop Staring, Start Seeing," an audience interactive play which explores homelessness, written and performed by zAmya Theater Project, a collaborative project of homeless and housed individuals. Unique in its approach, zAmya's performances are a comedic, thought-provoking series of skits that raise questions, refine knowledge, expose stereotypes and engage the audience to participate with their opinions, observations, and questions. The Minnesota Coaches Association serves as a leader and champion for people who choose to live purposeful, passionate, and sustainable lives. zAmya Theater Project s mission is to increase awareness, understanding and advocacy for the homeless through community-based theater. The Human Rights Center assists human rights advocates, monitors, students, educators, and volunteers access effective tools, practices, and networks to promote a culture of human rights and responsibilities in our local, national, and international communities. Registration: www.minnesotacoaches.org (click on Events) Any tickets remaining will be sold at the door. Contact socialaction [at] minnesotacoaches.org or hrcfund [at] umn.edu Location: Room 25 (sub plaza level), Mondale Hall (Law School), University of Minnesota West Bank, 229 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55455 --------6 of 12-------- From: Sarah Caflisch <scaflisch [at] loft.org> Subject: Katrina/animals 11.15 6:30pm Wednesday, November 15, 6:30 p.m. The Loft, in Open Book. Washington Av a few blocks west of 7 corners LOCAL MOTION READING LINDA AND ALLEN ANDERSON RESCUED: Saving Animals from Disaster The inspiration for Rescued was the tragic situation with pets during the Katrina disaster - thousands refusing to leave without their pets, and many animals dying due to official indifference to these "disposable" creatures. Extensively trained in animal rescues, Allen and Linda Anderson interviewed hundreds of volunteers, hurricane survivors, and government officials for this book. Rescued offers both hope and practical suggestions, as well as the latest information on official policy and how to help in future catastrophes. Using a dramatic structure and photos, the book presents the before, during, and after journeys of people separated from their animals. Rescued puts attention on an unheralded world of animal shelters, organizations, and brave individuals who made a difference during the largest animal disaster in American history. The volunteers who waded into the devastation left in Hurricane Katrina's wake came in all sizes and shapes and redefined our notion of hero. Many of these unlikely champions scooped endless shovels of poop, distributed truckloads of food and clean water, and provided comfort and kindness to animals whose world had blown apart. They worked against Brobdingnagian odds: hundreds of thousands of frightened, starving animals owners were forced to leave behind and little space in which to care for the abandoned pets. Allen and Linda Anderson extensively interviewed the men and women who came to rescue four-legged, finned, and feathered victims of Katrina. The result is a treatise full of practical suggestions for dealing with stranded animals, meeting their housing and medical needs, and, ultimately, reuniting them with their owners. Aftermath stories will change public policy, and every pet owner should read the Andersons' book and develop their own private plan for the safety of their nonhuman companions. Pamela Crossland, from Booklist Free --------7 of 12-------- From: Erika Zurawski <zura0007 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Protest USCentCom 11.15 6:30pm Say No To War! Us Military Central Command Off Campus! Wednesday, Nov 15 @ 6:30pm @ Humphrey Institute, West Bank Student March Leaving From Coffman Union @ 6:30pm As part of a series of public programs focusing on issues related to war, Rear Admiral Robert T. Moeller from United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) will be speaking at the Hubert Humphrey Institute. Moeller has served in a variety of sea and shore assignments. He assumed his current position as special assistant to the USCENTCOM commander in July 2006. Established in 1983, USCENTCOM is part of the Department of Defense. It is responsible for planning and conducting U.S. military activity in the central area of the globe, a region consisting of 27 countries in Northeast Africa, Southwest and Central Asia, and the island nation of the Seychelles. Admiral Moeller will be trying to sell the war to students at the University of Minnesota who have seen their tuition rates rise at a time when the government is spending ridiculous amounts of money on wars abroad. Join AWOL and the AWC in protesting the US government's wars against Iraq and Afghanistan and instead calling for the troops to come home NOW! [I assume the event below is the same as that above, just with a different speaker. Or perhaps he changed his name so we won't recognize him. -ed] -- From: Jane Powers <janepow [at] earthlink.net> To: David Shove Contact person: Camille Gage cgage [at] spacestar.net U.S. Central Command will give a presentation on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs Wednesday, November 15 7:00 p.m. FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC www.hhh.umn.edu Major General Michael Diamond from the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) will update the community about the theatre of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Diamond's presentation, "The United States at War: Update from the Fronts," will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 15, in Cowles Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. In his talk, Diamond will present USCENTCOM's unclassified command brief, explain central command's responsibilities, and discuss the progress and challenges in the U.S. War on Terror. This event will include an audience Q&A for those of you with questions about the war. [You may be able to view a large map to see where, if you join up, your body parts might come to rest. Various rich men will have new yachts as a result of your sacrifice to Make America Great. They would thank you, but they're busy with other things. -ed] --------8 of 12------- New Head, Same Policy The Perishing Republic By RON JACOBS CounterPunch November 14, 2006 "While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire / And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass hardens" -from Shine, Perishing Republic, by Robinson Jeffers We live in dangerous (and interesting) times. Yet, not since the 1960s has there been an opportunity to change the direction that the powerful and greedy are leading us like that which exists today. Of course, the converse of this truth is that there hasn't been this degree of risk to the very existence of the world since the 1960s, either. Massive mobilizations of weaponry and bloody force have been used by the forces of US capital in an attempt to dominate the world and its people. Supplemented by trade agreements that are primarily beneficial to the financial capitals of New York and London, the capital of the world's richest cartels of finance and industry flows like water without regard to borders to wherever the lowest wages can be found. This race to the bottom precipitates corresponding wage decreases in the powerful nations of the north and massive migrations of people from the south towards the northern jobs that offer better pay than those in the migrants' home countries. The answer to this migration is racism and xenophobia from northern workers that feel threatened. Of course, these twin phenomenon are encouraged by most elements in the north's ruling elites since it takes the heat off of their policy of free trade. That is but one element of the current imperial order. The other, more obvious and explosive aspect are the wars precipitated by Washington, London and Israel, with various supporting casts. In this scenario, Tel Aviv plays the rabid pit bull, Washington the trained-to-kill Doberman, and London the poodle that considers himself vicious, even though the closest the poodle ever gets anymore is maybe a good hump of the US shepherd's leg. These wars are part and parcel of the neocon-neoliberal plan to dominate the world in the name of US capital. Notice the countries that Washington threatens: Iraq, Iran, Northern Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, to name the first that come to mind. All of these countries have (or had, in the case of Iraq and Serbia), one thing in common. They refused to go along with US capitol's designs for free trade, opting instead to defy the trade agreements that suck the lifeblood out of the majority of the people in the countries that sign them. So they get the sword, instead of the pen. The latter may certainly be less painful, but the results are the same. After free trade is agreed to by the elites in Washington and your home country, there is certain death for many of those not considered part of the program. For the US workers in the equation, there is a certain change in your material standard of living. If you were already poor, you're even poorer now. In countries to the south, the masses rebel at these agreements and take their anger to the streets. Lately, they've even changed a few governments so that they work a little more in their favor - Venezuela, Bolivia, even Chile. But here in the US there is no recourse within the political system. Yet, all we ever do is complain. Or get mad. I just finished re-reading Arthur Miller's play The Crucible. For those of you unfamiliar with the work, it's nominally about the Salem witch trials in Salem, Mass. back in the late 17th(?) century. There's a line in the play that easily applies to any type of fundamentalism - religious or political. That line goes like this: "cleave to no faith when faith brings blood." Yet, that isn't what the play is really about. It's about fear and intolerance. Indeed, Miller wrote the work during the era of McCarthyism and hoped his audience would draw a parallel between the testimony of the girls in Salem that sent several women to their deaths because they were considered to be witches and the testimony of those being called in front of the McCarthy committee investigating communism in the US. Like the meaning that informs today's fear of terrorism, no woman accused of witchcraft was proven to be a witch - instead, they had to prove that they weren't witches. Those who lied and said they were witches had to then go along with the charges provided by the prosecutor against other women or they would be sent back to prison. Today, it's not enough to say you are not a terrorist - you must support the policies and wars of those who say they are fighting terrorism and thereby prove that you aren't. That is what is meant by the phrase you're either with them or against them. I read a few different newspapers every day. Most of them are from the US. One thing I notice about their coverage of certain issues is how incredibly skewed it is. A relevant example (besides the obvious one of Israel and its sanctity) is the way in which most US papers present the immigrant rights question. Despite the incredible numbers of people that turned out demanding legalization of undocumented workers' status, the continuing coverage of the issue presents the activities of the much smaller (and I mean much smaller) anti-immigrant groups as equal to the popular upsurge for immigrant rights. Now, we all know that the mostly unsaid motivation behind groups like the Minutemen is a fear of a non-white planet. More specifically, it is a fear of a non-white United States. The fact that newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post spotlight the vigilante activities of the Minutemen and its members is one thing. The fact that they present their fears and racist reactions as rational and worthy of front page coverage reveals something more insidious. By doing so, the liberals prove themselves to be the tails to the neocons head on the corporate capitalist coin. The sooner the movement truly understands this, the better off it will be. Everything that George Bush and his cronies have done and are doing was begun or maintained during the Clinton years. There is a cartoon from an old underground newspaper - 1969 is when it appeared I think - where LBJ is laying in a hospital bed awaiting surgery. The captions are a paraphrase from the philosopher and writer Herbert Marcuse and read like this: "(Panel 1) The art of holding on to power is our American system's know how. Given their constitutional rights, dissenters help maintain the status quo we call repressive tolerance. (Panel 2) It works this way: you let dissidents say whatever they please in a system loaded in favor of the powerful elites. The dissidents let off steam in a controlled way and the controllers keep power. (Panel 3) The trick is to make change look so tantalizingly close that it dulls the edge of militancy and makes revolutionary reform impossible. (Panel 4) Of course, every 4 to 8 years people will start blaming you personally for the lack of change, so you change your face." Instead of LBJ's head being on the body in the hospital bed, the last panel shows Richard Nixon, who, of course, became president in 1969. One wonders whose head will be in the White House in 2008 carrying on the same policies as Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton before him? Does this mean that elections are irrelevant or that Bush and Cheney shouldn't be impeached? Of course not. What it means is that such efforts are meaningful only when they are carried out with the understanding that they are not cure all remedy, but just an opportunity to educate people to the true nature of the system. Like the elections held every couple of years, all adjustments to the current system of government - a system based on the right of those with the desire and cash to exploit the rest of us - are merely adjustments. They will not solve the fundamental problems. Those problems are more than political and more than economic. Indeed, they are on the broad swath of human endeavor where politics and economics collide and mingle. Political systems are designed to uphold economic systems. The republican system of democracy we live under is not a system where the people rule, but a system where those with money rule the people. So, as long as the system of monopoly capital rules our economy, then the political system will mirror those capitalists' needs and desirs, not ours. That is the risk to the world. Our risk is to be found in attempting to subvert this mechanism. [Amen. -ed] Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs' essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch's new collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625 [at] charter.net --------9 of 12-------- Will It Be Up to the Generals to Throw in the Towel? Lose a War, Lose an Election By WILLIAM S. LIND CounterPunch November 14, 2006 Lose a war, lose an election. What else should anyone expect, especially when the war is one we never had to fight? Had Spain defeated us in '98, does anyone think T.R. would have been elected in 1900? A logical corollary is, lose two wars, lose two elections. With the war in Afghanistan following that in Iraq down the tube, 2008 may not be a Republican year. Even better, by 2008 the American people may have figured out that the two parties are really one party, neither wing of which knows or much cares what it is doing. The vehicle for this realization may once again be the war in Iraq. The next two years, rather than seeing us extricate ourselves from the Iraqi swamp, are likely to witness us floundering ever deeper into it. The lesson of last week's election, in which the Republicans lost both Houses of Congress, will not be lost on either party. Both Republican and Democratic Senators and Congressmen will now agree that the war is a disaster we need to extricate ourselves from. The White House won't admit it, but it has to see the situation the same way. George Bush and Dick Cheney may not, but Bush's brain, Karl Rove, certainly does. The puppet must, in the end, obey the puppeteer. What, then, will keep us in Iraq? While both parties want to get out, neither has nor will be able to create a consensus on how to get out. Not only will they be unable to generate a consensus between the parties, or between the Executive branch and the Congress, they will not be able to find consensus within either party on how the withdrawal is to be managed. The result will be paralysis and a continuation of the war. Part of the reason Washington will not be able to agree on a plan for coming home from Iraq is political. Neither party wants to enable the other to blame it in 2008 for "losing Iraq." The Democrats are especially fearful of anything that would seem to make them look "weak on defense." But a greater part of the reason for fateful indecision will be the very real fact that there are no good options. If we stay in Iraq, the civil war there will intensify, with American troops caught in the middle. Already, all those troops are doing is serving in Operation Provide Targets, with casualty rates that continue to rise. But if we withdraw, the civil war will intensify all the more rapidly. Unless that civil war is won by someone, someone who can re-create an Iraqi state, Iraq will become a stateless region of permanent chaos, a generator and supplier of the non-state Islamic forces who are our real enemy. That may also happen if the wrong elements win the civil war, extremist Shiites allied with Iran or extremist Sunnis with strong al Qaeda sympathies. The factions who might create a government we could live with are either Baathist or connected with the current Iraqi government, neither of which is likely to come out on top. Eggs, once broken, are hard to unscramble. In the absence of any good options, politicians of both parties in Washington, not wanting to hold the bag for the inevitable failure, will be able to agree only on a series of half-measures. We will train still more Iraqi troops or police, ignoring that both are mostly militiamen for one or another faction. We will pull our troops back into remote bases, where most already stay, remaining in Iraq while the civil war boils up around us. We will try to get the regional powers to help us out, despite the fact that those who would can't and those who can have no reason to do so. We will steam in circles, scream and shout, hoping desperately for a deus ex machina rescue that is unlikely to appear. In a reality neither Republicans nor Democrats will dare face, we have only one option left in Iraq. That option is to admit failure and withdraw. We can do it sooner, or, at the cost of more American dead and wounded, we can do it later. Obviously, sooner is better, but that would require a bold decision, which no one in Washington is willing to make. In World War I, after the failure of the Schlieffen Plan, my reporting senior, Kaiser Wilhelm II, wanted an early, compromise peace. Regrettably, he was unwilling to force that policy on his recalcitrant generals. Today, in Washington, the generals want peace. They could give the politicians of both parties and both relevant branches of government the cover they need to make peace, by going public in favor of an early withdrawal. Unfortunately, that would require a level of moral courage not notably evident in the senior American military. In its absence, the whole American political system will continue to flounder in a sea of half-measures, American troops will continue to die in a lost war, and the crisis of legitimacy of the American state will continue to grow. William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation. --------10 of 12-------- The Aftermath Democrats, Born to Compromise By SHARON SMITH CounterPunch November 14, 2006 Commenting on the results of Election Day 2006, Republican Party pollster Bill McInturff told the Wall Street Journal that Republicans faced "the most difficult environment since Watergate," referring to the scandal that forced then-President Richard Nixon to resign from office in 1974. This is encouraging news for everyone who has spent the last week celebrating the Republican Party's "thumping'" by the angry electorate-to quote the visibly disoriented president, fumbling for words, in a White House press conference the day after. Within 24 hours after the polls closed, we were treated to the sight of Donald Rumsfeld - no longer sneering, but instead choking back tears - during his brief Oval Office "resignation" ceremony, before Bush's handlers permanently shuffled him out of sight. The seemingly unstoppable Bush regime unraveled with stunning rapidity when faced with a massive voter rebellion last Tuesday. The widely accepted notion of the apathetic (and, presumably, politically contented) American majority also took a thumping last Tuesday. The angry electorate According to the New York Times' exit polls, six in ten voters said their vote was based on national, not local, issues. The same percentage disapproved of the war in Iraq and said the war had not increased the security of the United States. Six in ten voters also disapproved of the way Congress was handling its job. Six in ten voters who described themselves as "independents" voted Democrat, while two-thirds said they were dissatisfied or angry with Republican leaders. There was also a class component to the Democrats' victories. About half of all voters said they had just enough money to continue at their present standard of living (otherwise known as living a paycheck or two away from poverty), while one-fifth said they were falling behind financially. The Wall Street Journal reported that exit polls showed that of the 31 percent of voters who said they are "getting ahead financially," 63 percent voted Republican; among the 51 percent who reported they are "maintaining their living standard," 39 percent voted Republican; and among the 17 percent who said they are "falling behind financially," only 21 percent voted Republican. Indeed, 66 percent of those who hadn't completed high school voted Democrat. Race also played a key role in voting patterns, although a higher percentage of whites also voted Democrat. The percentage of white voters going for Democrats was 48 percent in 2006, compared with 41 percent in 2004. African-Americans continued their long-standing loyalty to the Democrats, by an 88 percent margin (identical to 2004). Asian voters voted by a margin of 67 percent for Democrats in 2006, compared to 56 percent in 2004. But Latino voters showed the greatest increase in Democratic voting: 73 percent in 2006, compared with 53 percent in 2004. Only 27 percent of Latinos supported Republicans, in contrast to the more than 40 percent of Latinos who voted for Bush in 2004. The 2006 election also drew the highest percentage of young voters (under age 30) in a mid-term election in 20 years-up by more than 4 percent since 2002. According to exit polls, 61 percent voted Democratic in House elections, playing a key role in close races that pushed Democrats over the top. [And now, eager to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory... -ed] Enter stage left: the other corporate party The Democrats must also appreciate that their victories in the November 7 elections were due in large part to a shift in corporate loyalties. The Republican Party has traditionally been the preferred party of America's corporate class, openly parading the virtues of laissez faire capitalism. But the Democratic Party remains the corporate party-in-waiting, ready to cloak the same class loyalties with compromises aimed at curbing mass discontent when it threatens the class status quo. The Bush administration served the corporate class well, providing tax cuts for the wealthiest percentile in the midst of a major war. But the electorate apparently caught on to this increasingly transparent hoax. Corporate dollars began a significant shift to the Democratic side in the weeks before the 2006 election, signaling a ruling-class consensus on the need to shift from "Plan A" to "Plan B". It cannot be a coincidence that Rep. Mark Foley's sexual indiscretions became media fodder just six weeks before the election - since they were well known, apparently, years ago. While it is a pleasure to watch the mainstream media attacking Bush ruthlessly now, their corporate sponsors have approved and encouraged the media's about-face. Given the limits of the two-party system, the Republicans' loss was the Democrats' gain. But the message was unmistakable. As the Chicago Tribune noted on November 8, "Americans finally got to vote on the war. They want change. They got to vote on one-party rule. They rejected it. They got a chance to vote local. They voted national. Indeed, the Democrats essentially beat something with nothing. They offered no clear agenda, no Contract with America, not even a memorable bumper sticker. This was an election driven by feelings of rejection far more than embrace." The Democrats are rejoicing in their successful "centrist" strategy in this election - deliberately running Democratic social conservatives opposed to abortion and gay marriage against Republican social conservatives also opposed to abortion and gay marriage in several key races. These included abortion opponent Bob Casey Jr., who beat Republican abortion opponent Rick Santorum for his Pennsylvania Senate seat; the also victorious Indiana sheriff Brad Ellsworth, who won a House seat while opposing abortion rights and same-sex marriage; and Christian Heath Shuler, an evangelical who won a House seat in North Carolina last Tuesday. And they will seek to continue this "centrist" strategy into the 2008 presidential election. But the election results were definitive on only one issue: discontent with the Republican Party. The red-state vs. blue state formula adopted after Kerry's defeat in 2004 was extinguished by voting results, in which Republicans who just months ago were on top in opinion polls were voted out in many "red states." Rising expectations: the Democrats' dilemma But the Democratic victories have led to a rise in mass expectations for an end to the Iraq war, a raise in the minimum wage, and an end to political corruption. The Democrats, of course, have no plans to shake things up. This election was widely touted as a referendum on the war. But so far, Democrats have provided only a vaguely worded "phased withdrawal" of U.S. troops from Iraq at an unspecified future date. In a post-election interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer, likely 2008 presidential contender Barack Obama backpedaled on his earlier pledge to begin withdrawing troops by the end of this year: "I think now it's too late to try to start something before the end of the year. What I would do is sit down with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the military that's actually on the ground and figure out, how do we fit together a military strategy that can start that phased redeployment, but ensure not total collapse in Iraq, and also make sure that we engage the Iraqi government [We need] to make sure that they [the Iraqis] know we're serious about not being there permanently." Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, in line to become chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was more explicit. "We have to tell the Iraqis that the open-ended commitment is over and that we're going to begin to have a phased withdrawal in four to six months," he threatened - as if Iraqis invited the U.S. to invade and occupy their country in 2003 and are now taking advantage of Americans' waning goodwill. So far, Democrats have gone no further than deferring to the recommendations of the (Republican) James Baker-led Iraq Study Group - which is rumored to embrace a strategy for significantly lowering down U.S. troops at an unspecified date. Overall, the watchword of the victorious Democrats remains "bipartisanship." Despite the venom of their own campaign ads, they seek compromise with the Republican Party. This is not surprising, since a U.S. defeat in Iraq would be on par with the humiliation U.S. imperialism suffered after its defeat in Vietnam. And both Democrats and Republicans are, after all, pro-war, imperialist parties. The electorate has spoken. But it is worth noting that the Watergate scandal, while ending Nixon's presidency, did not lead to a seismic shift leftward in the political climate. On the contrary, U.S. politics moved decisively rightward in the following years, as the mass social movements of the 1960s and early 1970s pinned their hopes on the Democratic Party to spearhead social change. As it turned out, the Democrats responded to corporate pressures to tack rightward, leading eventually to our present predicament. We should not repeat the mistakes of that past generation of leftists. The Democrats, like the Republicans, must respond to mass voter discontent. But their shared goal is a return to politics-as-usual. The Democrats will not deliver an end to the Iraq war without substantial pressure from below. And that requires large-scale, grass-roots struggle. This should be a wakeup call to everyone who wants an end to the Iraq war, a raise in the minimum wage, a step forward for immigrants' rights-and an end to politics-as-usual in Washington. The door for social change is opening, but we must take action to achieve it. [This is why I, your editor, left the Dem party. The occasion was Clinton going for NAFTA in 1994, but there will be many more depressing Dem decisions of the next two years you can use as your "coming out" occasion. We can rely on the RP and DP (and major media) to be allied to and to serve the top 1%. We need another party, one that serves just us, the bottom 99%. The sooner we start, the sooner we'll arrive. -ed] --------11 of 12-------- [And now the irreverent Joe Bageant...] Pissing in the Liberal Punchbowl -- Again: The Democratic Conga Line in the American House of Lords by Joe Bageant www.dissidentvoice.org November 14, 2006 "Saw the talking heads today, speaking the priestly tongue. Saw them nodding seriously, using words like 'gravitas' and a few others that originated in the bosom of Americana. Heard one of the newly elected basically state that things would be business as usual, don't expect a lot of changes. Rather scornfully and testily the idea of impeaching W was dismissed. Well, why the hell not? No answer, just the satisfied, mildly contemptuous smile. Oh, yes, and there'll be a lot of 'bipartisan' things going on." --Key Bugle, internet denizen, retired army sergeant Democrats are dancing around the head of Donald Rumsfeld like a scene from Lord of the Flies, heating up the tar buckets and plucking the goose in eager, nay, wild anticipation. Personally, I love the smell of tar and feathers in the morning and am quite willing to march on the White House as we speak. I like revenge as well as the next guy. But I also consider myself a compassionate man, one perfectly willing to let Bush's cabinet choose whether they wanna play the mommy or the daddy in the Big House, then move on to the real problems, such as the fact that a gallon of Old Grandad is nearly 50 bucks here in Virginia, or the fact that we are still a nation of people, half of whom were happy to elect a bunch of war criminals - TWICE! - and still are. Ah, but lo and beshit, the Democrats have rescued us. If you can call running around like chickens with their heads up their asses while the Republicans did what they always do - get caught stealing the national silverware, while bombing the hell out of some miserable piece of dirt as a distraction, thereby self-destructing in 12 years as usual, but getting obscenely rich in the process. Pardon my cynicism, but the view is pretty damned sorry from here in the cheap seats. From down here it looks like every Yankee liberal north of Virginia seems convinced they are now shitting in such tall cotton that all they need do from here on out is foist Hillary Clinton on the many poor miserable bastards unfortunate enough to be called heartland Democrats because we don't have the balls to become heavily armed libertarians. Nominating Hillary might just drive us to it. Meanwhile, we watch the only woman who can give the ambitious Hillary a run for the money when it comes to "the sneer behind the smile," Nancy Pelosi. Then it's on to the main act, in which we watch Honey Boy Obama "pass" in elite liberal society as a goddamned "negro", for chrissake! Will wretched wonders never end? I don't know a single black person who is nearly as impressed with Barack Obama as they are with Bill Clinton, and yes, most of them DO understand that Clinton screwed everybody who works for a living with his shell game called NAFTA. Not to mention the cruel farce of "workfare." Obama, the child of a black/white student tryst in Honolulu (natural daddy was from Kenya and a Harvard man) was raised in Indonesia by a diplomat stepfather and white mother, then he was sent off to Punahou School, Hawaii's equivalent of Sidwell Friends in DC, where Chelsea and similar children of royalty go. B.O. just doesn't fool American blacks into believing he sweats bullets every time a police car lights up behind him in the traffic. Unlike Clinton, he does not gain weight easily and does not even attempt to play the sax. To Obama's credit, he does have at least as many bodyguards as any hiphop star . . . and let's face it, he only has to pass with white urban liberals to be deemed the great mocha hope of urban liberal Americans who swear they have not an ounce of race consciousness. Aw shit. Now I've gone and pissed in the liberal punch bowl again, so I guess it's no more fancy little water crackers with brie and truffle preserves for me at the next Democratic fundraiser. I'm too fat anyway. I nevertheless rooted for the Democrats just like everybody else. How could anyone in their right mind and possessing a smidgen of morals not have been pulling for the Democratic Westchester Country Club Pussy Mafia, sheerly out of revulsion for the other choice - a real mafia. It's the old American political pendulum thing, back and forth between parties. Americans take comfort in the spoonfed "pendulum" theory of politics. No matter that the pendulum smacks them in the goddamned head at either end of the swing, because supposedly, it achieves some democracy preserving balance. To my mind, it merely offers a different faux target for citizen discontent every four years, so the same powers behind the powers can continue to extract wealth and sucker the public into consumer confidence and the latest Wall Street Ponzi scheme, or fighting wars to obtain more wealth and to protect what the elites have already piled up. Yet American tolerance for this pendulum bullshit, for this set of fake choices between two powerful groups of political elites who are dancing in the Washington conga line, asshole to belly button pretending they are alternatives to each another, seems endless. Just what on god's green earth do liberals think the Democrats are going to do after they finish singing "This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius?" Really? What to do after they spend a few more years cataloguing the Republican crimes? So what? The Republicans have the stolen geet, the Dems have a two-year ticket to ride, and working people and the middle class are pretending they are not about to get the worst reaming since Herbert Hoover was president. What are the Democrats to do, dear Nelly, pray tell? Well, it would be nice if Democrats would immediately move to dismantle the police state that is so well under construction. And ideally they might begin to address the real problems that constitute the very shaky stage upon which our delusional "American lifestyle" movie is being played out - peak oil and the collapse of the environment. When it comes to the peak oil crisis, their best shot seems to be Al Gore telling us to hang our clothes on lines and turn down the thermostats, never once mentioning, much less blaming, the corporations that keep our nation addicted to oil, and are responsible for bankrolling the Bush/Cheney junta that brought us this ongoing national nightmare in the first place. If Dems have not learned from what nearly happened to America's constitution in the past six years, we are in deep shit. We are still in deep shit even if they did learn, but at least have cause for fresh false hope. But we may assume, until they prove otherwise, that the elites of the Democratic leadership are immune to the real life consequences of their economic and political decisions. I seriously doubt that they will push for any of the things inherent to a civilized post-industrial society, such as ABSOLUTELY FREE universal health care, or ABSOLUTELY FREE universal higher education, or even letting the tens of thousands of poor hapless potheads out of this nation's now privatized prison system. Or kicking McDonald's and Coke out of the nation's school lunch programs. And do you actually think they are going to address America's unspoken class system? Nope! But they will use the word class a bit more, just for its resonance of authenticity, but only should it become absolutely necessary. On the other hand, the Democrats are going to raise the minimum wage. They will do so because even the Republicans are willing to do it now. And they will raise it to somewhere around seven bucks, which is half of what it takes to eat and shit with any regularity in this country, and they will do it in three timid steps stretching out over hell only knows how long. To be fair here, the Democrats have 51 seats. 51 ain't 60, which is what it takes to accomplish anything by fiat at the syndicate headquarters on East Capitol Street. Still, they can accomplish much if they have enough hair on their asses to fight the good fight. If they get out of their limos and set out on foot without their entourage of royal eunuchs to find the good fight. Otherwise, they will or will not fight the good fight in the marble royal citadel where three out of every 100 people are homeless. And in a fit of high dudgeon, they will order blanket subpoenas for half the Republican Party to testify, which is not going to put a single blanket over their bruised asses of the nearby homeless as they rustle around on damp cardboard under the watchful eye of the city's several thousands of security cameras, cameras that manage to catch the average DC resident some 250 times a day (nanny cams excluded), cameras that document protesters with facial recognition software, cameras that make 81 percent of residents "feel safer," according to surveys - even though they do not reduce crime, according to the police chief himself. Like the Republicans, the Democrats understand that people now believe their chances of being attacked by swarthy terrorists are greater than their chances of being mugged by the crackhead on the corner. The residual fear of our 12-year ordeal will be there a long time, if it ever disappears at all. Democrats believe they must continue to play to that irrational fear to get elected. Which will only perpetuate the fear. Meanwhile, President Sparky fiddles with his veto pen in the Oval Office, while Rove and Cheney plot to leave the Dems with as many unpaid bills on the table as possible. Nobody said it would be easy. Internationally speaking, the picture is no better. It's pretty doubtful anyone will publicly fess up to the fact that the whole damned world hates us, and that a recent poll found that just about everybody but the Japanese and the South Koreans consider us far more dangerous than Kim Jong-Il's North Korean nuclear zoo. The soon-to-come investigations of Cheney and Rumsfeld may make jolly spectacle for the American public, even entertain the Europeans for a while, with its examination as to how our illegal invasion, complete destruction and occupation of a sovereign country was "mishandled" - if the actions of a rogue nation can be said to be mishandled - which will distract the citizenry for a while longer. But the Democratic Party will never challenge the militarism that has made war the resort of first option so acceptable to so many Americans. Cutting defense spending by half remains unthinkable, even though it would still leave us with one quarter of all the world's weapons and four-fifths of the world's viable nuclear firepower. Despite that, the savings would rebuild every school in the nation, or send every American child through college or technical school, or wipe out homelessness in one fell swoop, or pay for nationalized health care for all, (if the insurance company leeches are dumped in the process) or public transit. Democrats like being THE liberal party. They like being the only game in town for anyone who thinks that maybe, just maybe, a police state might not be the best idea we can come up with, or that the Bible may not have been written as a physics or biological treatise. For anything to change at all, Democrats are going to have to actually lead the liberal tribes, make liberal Americans understand that there is too much as stake to let the divisiveness of gender, identity, and single issue politics keep us so divided. Otherwise, when the cheap oil fiesta is over, which will be within most people's lifetimes, if not my own, when real economic collapse is on the horizon, Americans will switch on the same reptilian survival brain they did when they elected Bush. Assuming they ever turn it off. If so many other nations can come to understand what is really at stake in our times, and modify their national programs and ambitions to accommodate the Kyoto Agreements or energy reductions, or cleaner fuel standards, or land mine bans, or the need for a world court on atrocity, or even the Geneva Conventions for crap sake, there is no reason we cannot do the same, other than lack of international leadership by the people we elect (or presume to elect.) Some domestic leadership would be nice too. Hell, 18 states have a higher minimum wage than the fed standard, 12 states have tried to modify coal fired emission standards on their own (only to be stymied by our elected government). Is there any will at all to do the right thing? It may be possible the will exists within the American public to do the right thing, a rather dodgy assumption given that we've been fed on a complete diet of supremacy and misinformation for decades. But even if it is still possible, it will take leadership. And by leadership, we don't mean such crap as "We will deliver a better plan than Bush for the war in Iraq." We bombed the fuck out of a sovereign nation, killed hundreds of thousands of innocents, instituted an illegal occupation that makes Germany's French occupation look like a bridge party (Really! Go read about it sometime). And we made the world a more dangerous place in the process. We don't need a fucking plan. We need to admit our guilt to the world, then beg forgiveness and demonstrate our sincerity through reparations. THAT is the right thing to do. But we won't. The Democratic Party does America not one bit of good by sustaining the hubris that has brought us to the point where our high officials and former officials such as Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales (and others yet to be charged, we suspect) cannot travel in countries like Germany because of war crime indictments. Someone has to ask, "How did we come to this?" Ask, "How can we not only change our course, but also make amends and prove to the world that we are worthy of trust?" It would be of great help if we were actually worthy of trust. It ain't gonna happen because, just like George Bush, we as a people never admit our mistakes. Not as long as we are packing more heat than all the rest of the world combined. We are the five percent of the planet consuming a quarter of its resources on the grounds of divine entitlement as Americans. And the heat we pack. Think the Dems are gonna address that? Address that belligerent two-ton rhino in the sandbox called the American Lifestyle? Nobody will, and that refusal will ensure our downfall. Rhinos can be taken down, and you don't have to be Hemingway to do it. Ask any 12-year-old Syrian or Palestinian boy. It's their dream. Any bookie will tell you that odds are good that at least one of those millions of boys will accomplish his dream. Providence is like that. We haven't got forever. So, come next election, every ordinary working American should ask themselves this: "What have Democrats done that made the world better? What have they done to make my life measurably and observably healthier and more humanly secure, reduced my toil and increased my daily happiness?" The answer probably won't be good. And the Democratic leadership will not care anyway, except to the extent that it disrupts the party conga line. Because they know one thing: You don't have any other choice. It's either them or the Republicans, and we all now know what the GOP is capable of, given the opportunity. In the end, it is only our indecisiveness and misinformation, our lack of courage and our willingness to live smaller, morally diminished lives in one political camp or the other, that keeps the American public evenly split into the two non-choices that represent our political system. We let the Republicans bitch slap the hell out of us for a few years while they pick our pockets, then we elect the Democrats who refuse to slap anyone publicly, but allow the same corporate-military-financial gang to continue picking our pockets while we are recuperating. You know it. I know it. But until we unlearn our gratitude for momentary perceived relief, unlearn our helplessness, until we quit the hypnotic myth of the pendulum, and openly resist the pretense together, regardless of whether we are white, black, queer, middle class or poor, tenured professor or illegal immigrant student, Southern Scots-Irish redneck or well-heeled New York Jewish professional, nothing will change. Best to forget the conga line up there on the media stage - this ain't the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. It's just another rest stop on the long march toward that too-well-known destination no free human being ever chose of his or her own accord. Democratic victory or not, Americans still lead ever-smaller lives, in belief that a low profile and the right party allegiances will preserve them, and that someone else, someone with less to lose, will take the risks necessary to right some of the most terrible wrongs the world has seen. People live small lives because they believe it offers them safety. Nothing could be further from the truth. [Amen. -ed] Ask any German. Ask any Old World Jew. Joe Bageant is the author of a forthcoming book, Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War (Random House Crown) about working class America, scheduled for spring 2007 release. A complete archive of his online work, along with the thoughts of many working Americans on the subject of class may be found at: www.joebageant.com. Feel free to contact him at: joebageant [at] joebageant.com. Copyright 2006 by Joe Bageant --------12 of 12-------- Don't piss me off! shouts the bully. Hunker down, breathe small, walk short, turn brown. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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 To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
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