Progressive Calendar 12.08.06
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Fri, 8 Dec 2006 05:32:06 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    12.08.06

1. AntiWarMN craft sale 12.08 11am
2. Huffington lunch     12.08 11:30am
3. Mideast voices       12.08 12noon
4. Immigrant rights     12.08 12:30pm
5. Alt/violence         12.08-10 6pm
6. Crossing AZ/film     12.08 7pm

7. MC Beattie     - Debating the war, while deaths mount
8. Norman Soloman - It's happening again! Media consensus: Stay in Iraq!
9. Ron Jacobs     - A war Washington can't win
10. Sharon Smith  - New Washington consensus: blame the victims in Iraq
11. Joe Bageant   - A monstrous class of parasites; bankers dance
12. Derrick OKeefe- Chavez's victory strengthens alliance with Cuba

--------1 of 13--------

From: hoang74do <jade.dragon [at] gmail.com>
Subject: AntiWarMN craft sale 12.08 11am

Hello everyone! For those of you that were not able to join us at the
craft sale last weekend you have a second chance tomorrow, Friday December
8th from 11:00-1:00 at the University of Minnesota, in Coffman Memorial
Union 300 Washington Ave. You can find our table on the ground floor.

Also, Please join us for a Human Rights Day Demonstration on Monday
December 11th at 4:30PM at Mayday Plaza, 301 Cedar Ave. Afterwards march
with us around the corner to Mapps coffee shop for some warm drinks, and a
speak out. Come join us and bring your voices and your oppinions!

For the next month the Anti-War Committee will be making some changes to
our meetings. On December 21st and January 4th we will be meeting at the
usual time from 7:00-9:00PM but we will be one floor up in our office room
213. On Thursday December 28th we will be cancelling our meeting for the
winter break. As usual our meetings are open to everyone. We're an all
volunteer committee and welcome new members all year long!

Anh Pham for the Anti-War Committee
For more info, call us at 612.379.3899
Check out our website at http://www.antiwarcommittee.org


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From: Minnesota Women's Political Caucus <women [at] mnwpc.org>
Subject: Huffington lunch 12.08 11:30am

The Minnesota. Women's Political Caucus is proud to welcome political
pundit Arianna Huffington to the 28th Annual Luncheon on Friday, December
8, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at The Hilton Hotel, Downtown Minneapolis.

Nationally syndicated political columnist, well-versed author and
satirist, Huffington is arguably one of the most opinionated women in
today's media circuit. In 2005 she launched The Huffington Post, an
online news site that has quickly become a widely-read and
frequently-cited internet media brand. In the 2003 Huffington recall
election for Governor of California, she threw her hat in the ring along
with 135 other candidates and finished 5th in the nationally prominent
race.

The Minnesota Women's Political Caucus 28th Annual Luncheon will be held
at The Hilton Hotel, Downtown Minneapolis, located at 1001 Marquette Ave.
S.. Tickets prices from $125 and sponsor levels range from $250 to $1,000.
Complete information on tickets, sponsor opportunities and RSVP dates
available online at www.mnwpc.org or by calling 651-228-0995.

Erin Moline Minnesota Women's Political Caucus


--------3 of 13--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Mideast voices 12.08 12noon

Fri.Dec.8: Middle East Voices, U of M

Violence continues to escalate in Iraq and from the Israeli Defense Force
in the Occupied Territories of Palestine, while the White House continues
with intimidating rhetoric towards Iran (the next target in the 'war on
terrorism'?). learning mroe aobut the MIddle East from people who actually
understand the region's history, culture and politics is more vital than
ever. The last event in the series Middle East Voices is appropriately
titled "Relfections" and includes U of M faculty: Hisham M. Bizri
(Cultural Studies and Literature), Carol Hakim (History) and Martin
Sampson (Political Science).

FREE Fri.Dec. 8, Noon-1:30pm, President's Room, Coffman Union, Washonton
Ave., East Bank campus, U of M, Minneapolis


--------4 of 13--------

From: Peter Brown <peterb3121 [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Immigrant rights 12.08 12:30pm

In the Shadows: Non-citizens and U.S. Violations of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
December 8, 2006
12:30-4:30 p.m.
University of Minnesota Law School
229 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN

This Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program will highlight the situation
of refugees and immigrants in the U.S., in particular regarding the
violation of their human rights guaranteed by the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the U.S. has ratified.

Note that the ICCPR is one of the Human Rights Treaties that the Maria
Inamagua Campaign for Justice is using to press for system change, first
at the Ramsey County Jail, then throughout Minnesota, and then nation-wide
for ALL prisoners and detainees, whether immigrant, refugee or general
population.

The CLE will address the scope of the ICCPR, mechanisms for enforcement
and U.S. compliance, as well as a discussion on how to advocate for
clients using this system.

Look for the large yellow and black banner!


--------5 of 13--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Alt/violence 12.08-10 6pm

12/8 (starts 6 pm) to 12/10 (ends 6 pm), basic level Alternatives to
Violence Workshop, which has been used to reduce violence in Rwanda, Bosnia,
Kenya and the U.S., Friends for a Nonviolent World, 1050 Selby Ave, St.
Paul. avp [at] fnvw.org


--------6 of 13--------

From: Peter Brown <peterb3121 [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Crossing AZ/film 12.08 7pm

Crossing Arizona:  the movie

The movie, Crossing Arizona, looks at the hotly debated issues surrounding
illegal immigration. Heightened security in California and Texas has
pushed illegal border-crossers into the treacherous Arizona desert in
unprecedented numbers - an estimated 4,500 a day.  Most are Mexican men
in search of work, but increasingly the border-crossers are women and
children. The flow of migrants and the rising death toll have elicited
complicated feelings about human rights, culture, class, labor and
national security.

December 8, 2006
7:00-9:15 p.m.
University of Minnesota Law School, Room 25
229 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC


--------7 of 13--------

Debating the War, While Deaths Mount
Bush, the Unhappy Helmsman
By MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE
CounterPunch
December 5, 2006

In five days, sixteen US troops have been killed in Iraq. Almost 300
Iraqis have died since the beginning of December.

Meanwhile, politicos and pundits debate the escalating sectarian violence
in Iraq, the verge, brink, and sliding into civil war, disputes that
accomplish nothing to support our troops by bringing them home now,
disputes that accomplish nothing to stop the deaths of Iraqis.

George W. Bush is unhappy with the progress of his war. This unhappiness
has nothing to do with the deaths of our servicemen and women or with the
Iraqis whose lives and culture he's destroyed. Nor is he concerned with
the injured. If Bush is suffering a twinge of discomfort, it is because
his presidency has been judged a colossal failure.

Yes, Bush is unhappy. Unhappy. This adjective doesn't begin to describe
those of us who have lost someone in this illegal war. This adjective
doesn't begin to describe those whose loved ones have been disfigured
during the occupation of Iraq. This adjective doesn't touch the pain of
those who will suffer for the rest of their lives with Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder. The families of servicemen and women who have sacrificed
for Bush's lies are so much more than unhappy. Our existence is now
defined by war.

The masses voted in November to pronounce George Bush a failure.
Yesterday's resignation of John Bolton is another "F" for the president.
Tragically Bush remains steadfast in his policy to stay the course in
Iraq. He wants to pass the baton of failure to the next president.

And just as writers, anchors, and talking heads are debating the violence
in Iraq and what to call it, they are also questioning whether Bush is
delusional. It doesn't matter. He is still in charge and people are dying.

George Bush's existence is defined by failure but he is still at the helm.
And that's a failure for all of us.

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public
Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush
Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families
for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her
nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,'05, she
has been writing political articles. She can be reached at:
Missybeat [at] aol.com


--------8 of 13--------

It's Happening Again!
Media Consensus: Stay in Iraq!
By NORMAN SOLOMON
CounterPunch
December 5, 2006

The lead-up to the invasion of Iraq has become notorious in the annals of
American journalism. Even many reporters, editors and commentators who
fueled the drive to war in 2002 and early 2003 now acknowledge that major
media routinely tossed real journalism out the window in favor of boosting
war.

But it's happening again.

The current media travesty is a drumbeat for the idea that the U.S. war
effort must keep going. And again, in its news coverage, the New York
Times is a bellwether for the latest media parade to the cadence of the
warfare state.

During the run-up to the invasion, news stories repeatedly told about
Iraqi weapons of mass destruction while the Times and other key media
outlets insisted that their coverage was factually reliable. Now the same
media outlets insist that their coverage is analytically reliable.

Instead of authoritative media information about aluminum tubes and mobile
weapons labs, we're now getting authoritative media illumination of why a
swift pullout of U.S. troops isn't realistic or desirable. The result is
similar to what was happening four years ago - a huge betrayal of
journalistic responsibility.

The WMD spin was in sync with official sources and other
establishment-sanctified experts, named and unnamed. The anti-pullout spin
is in sync with official sources and other establishment-sanctified
experts, named and unnamed.

During the weeks since the midterm election, the New York Times news
coverage of Iraq policy options has often been heavy-handed, with
carefully selective sourcing for prefab conclusions. Already infamous is
the Nov. 15 front-page story by Michael Gordon under the headline "Get Out
of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say." A similar technique was at play
Dec. 1 with yet another "News Analysis," this time by reporter David
Sanger, headlined "The Only Consensus on Iraq: Nobody's Leaving Right
Now."

Typically, in such reportage, the sources harmonizing with the media
outlet's analysis are chosen from the cast of political characters who
helped drag the United States into making war on Iraq in the first place.

What's now going on in mainline news media is some kind of repetition
compulsion. And, while media professionals engage in yet another round of
conformist opportunism, many people will pay with their lives.

With so many prominent American journalists navigating their stories by
the lights of big Washington stars, it's not surprising that so much of
the news coverage looks at what happens in Iraq through the lens of the
significance for American power.

Viewing the horrors of present-day Iraq with star-spangled eyes, New York
Times reporters John Burns and Kirk Semple wrote - in the lead sentence
of a front-page "News Analysis" on Nov. 29 - that "American military and
political leverage in Iraq has fallen sharply."

The second paragraph of the Baghdad-datelined article reported: "American
fortunes here are ever more dependent on feuding Iraqis who seem, at
times, almost heedless to American appeals."

The third paragraph reported: "It is not clear that the United States can
gain new traction in Iraq..."

And so it goes - with U.S. media obsessively focused on such concerns as
"American military and political leverage," "American fortunes" and
whether "the United States can gain new traction in Iraq."

With that kind of worldview, no wonder so much news coverage is serving
nationalism instead of journalism.

Norman Solomon is the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits
Keep Spinning Us to Death.


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Pacification and Iraqification
A War Washington Can't Win
By RON JACOBS
CounterPunch
December 5, 2006

As the US closes in on the opening day of its new Congress, the
possibility of voters getting a withdrawal of US forces from Iraq grows
dimmer and dimmer. George Bush continues to insist that US forces will
remain in country until their job is done. What that job is exactly seems
to most to be a secret known only to certain members of the White House,
but the key to it all is the desire for the US to reshape the world in
order to, as this an excerpt from the Project for the New American
Century (PNAC) statement of principles reminds us, "preserve and extend an
international order friendly to US security, (and) prosperity." Lest we
forget, this is the primary force behind the policies of George Bush. Of
course, when these men and women talk about security and prosperity, they
aren't necessarily thinking of yours and mine. They are, however,
certainly thinking about theirs, especially when it comes to the
prosperity part of the equation. One need only look at the profits certain
friends of Washington's power elites have made from the ongoing war in
Iraq to get a mere hint of the prosperity these folks are talking about.
(Ans that doesn't even begin to count the billions they want to make from
controlling Iraq's oil.) Then, just to see what they have in mind for
those of us that don't matter to them, take a look at the situation of the
poor in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.

In the past couple of weeks, the news has reported the deaths of several
Iraqi women and children from US airborne bombs and missiles. This is no
accident. As the use of US air support to support Iraqi government forces
on the ground increases (and US ground forces pull back), there are bound
to be more and more such casualties. Like Israel and previous Pentagon
leaders, the current US command refuses to accept blame for these deaths,
choosing instead to blame them on the actions of the resistance forces.
Although these are usually called mistakes by the command, the harsh act
is that they are not. As Howard Zinn wrote in his classic argument
Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal, "since the killing of civilians is
inevitable...it cannot be called an accident." When a pilot drops his load
of bombs or fires his deadly missiles on a street of houses, or when a
gunner unleashes a barrage of bullets from his Vulcan Gatling gun at the
rate of 6000 bullets per minute on a group of people running away from the
helicopter he is in, this is not an accident. It is part of the strategy
of pacification - a policy that George Orwell pointed out goes something
like this:

Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven
out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire
with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification.

While the specifics of the battleground may change from Mr. Orwell's
description, the essential facts do not. In Afghanistan, US-led forces
bombard villages and schools, calling the latter terrorist training
grounds. In Iraq, US forces provide air support for US and Iraqi ground
forces that raid villages in house-to-house searches. If the ground forces
call in a strike, the pilots release their missiles, which may or may not
even hit the house they are supposed to hit. As the number of these air
support missions climbs, the chance of killing innocents likewise
increases.

Let's go back to the phased withdrawal (or redeployment) scenario. This
scenario is based on the hope that the forces paid for by the US will be
able to keep political and military power after the US military draws down
its forces and pens them in the permanent bases Washington is building in
Iraq. It is not, as the "Stay the Course" adherents like to charge, an
excuse to lose the war. What it is is a way for the US to keep its paws
deeply immersed in Iraqi politics for the long term (without US soldiers
doing the dying) until Washington can have exactly who they want running
the country. Of course, the way things are going, it could be a while
before the CIA and Pentagon can even find such folks. As recent history
has proven, even if they do find such individuals, the real struggle is
convincing the Iraqis that these officials really have any power that
isn't given them by Washington. Given that the main thing the Iraqis want
is the exit of all foreign militaries from their country and that this is
the one thing the Green Zone Iraqis cannot provide, it is no mystery that
these leaders appear impotent. If they demand that the US forces leave,
Washington will disperse with them. If they "ask" for them to stay, they
reinforce the view of their fellow citizens that they are US stooges.
That's why it's nice to have US forces close by. They provide good backup.
Also, if things get real hot, they can always airlift you out.

Now, I can hear people asking what's wrong with US forces staying nearby
to help put in a government friendly to Washington in Iraq and
Afghanistan? After all, don't we believe in democracy? Well, let me give
you a couple reasons why this isn't okay. For one, the majority of Iraqis
don't want us to. That in itself is more than enough reason. For another,
any government that must be backed up by a foreign military force is not
going to last for the simple reason that it is not a truly national
government. The US tried to do exactly this in southern Vietnam and failed
miserably. Sure, George Bush and others like him think the reason the US
didn't succeed in Vietnam was because the US quit. That is wrong. They
didn't quit. They lost. Their project to reshape southeast Asia was never
popular with the people that lived there and it failed. Even after
millions of deaths and inestimable destruction. There have already been
several hundred thousand deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, with unknown
numbers yet to come if US and NATO forces continue their murderous attempt
to install governments subservient to Washington's interests - which is
what politicians, generals and media mouths really mean when they speak so
eloquently about freedom and democracy.

Another reason - and perhaps the most important reason of all - is that
these wars are wrong. Plain and simple. Wrong. The pretense of liberation
is over. The pretense that US Galahads were going to come in and save
Iraqi and Afghani women from the more medieval practices of certain
Islamic fundamentalists is over. Now, those women and their children are
being killed indiscriminately by US bombs and missiles. Some are even
being raped by US soldiers. There is no moral right in arresting people
without cause and then torturing them. Nor is there any moral right in
denying a population electrical power and security while the occupiers
live in air conditioned comfort with colonialist trappings. In short,
there is nothing moral about the US wars on the people of Iraq and
Afghanistan. And there never will be.

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 collection on music, art and sex,
Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is
forthcoming from Mainstay Press. He can be reached at:
rjacobs3625 [at] charter.net


--------10 of 13--------

The New Washington Consensus
Blame the Victims in Iraq
By SHARON SMITH
CounterPunch
December 5, 2006

For more than a century, the U.S. has claimed each time it invaded another
sovereign nation that it did so selflessly, shouldering the moral
responsibility of "civilizing" a backward population. This process became
widely known as "the white man's burden," after Rudyard Kipling's 1899
poem of the same name, which described the conquered populations as "your
new-caught, sullen peoples, half-devil and half-child."

Kipling's poem was written to celebrate the 1898 U.S. invasion and
occupation of the Philippines, which killed well over a half a million
civilians during the next several years. The U.S. government crushed the
Filipino insurgency - and refused to grant independence to the Philippines
until 1946.

In Iraq, the U.S. has managed to kill a similar number of Iraqis, but
failed to crush the resistance. The Washington establishment (minus the
increasingly isolated and delusional Bush and Cheney) has finally
concluded that the Iraq war is "unwinnable," and the imperial endgame is
beginning. Commitments to "bipartisanship" and "compromise" are already
echoing through the halls of Congress, as Democrats and Republicans unite
to avoid further humiliation and to salvage what remains of U.S.
imperialism's long-standing aims in the Middle East.

Democrats and Republicans have joined together to take aim at the
ungrateful Iraqi population, who apparently fail to appreciate the U.S.'
selfless efforts to impose "democracy" through military occupation. On
this point, the two parties are indistinguishable.

                      The Washington "consensus"

As the Washington Post reported, "a Nov. 15 meeting of the Senate Armed
Services Committee turned into a festival of bipartisan Iraqi-bashing":

"We should put the responsibility for Iraq's future squarely where it
belongs - on the Iraqis," argued Democratic Sen. Carl M. Levin, who will
chair the committee in January. "We cannot save the Iraqis from
themselves"

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) followed by noting: "People in South
Carolina come up to me in increasing numbers and suggest that no matter
what we do in Iraq, the Iraqis are incapable of solving their own problems
through the political process and will resort to violence, and we need to
get the hell out of there."

"We all want them to succeed," agreed Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) But, he
added, "too often they seem unable or unwilling to do that."

Later the same day, members of the House Armed Services Committee took
their turn. "If the Iraqis are determined and decide to destroy themselves
and their country, I don't know how in the world we're going to stop
them," said Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.).

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has also chimed in, quoted in the
Congressional Quarterly: "We need to send a message to Iraqis that our
patience is not unlimited." Likewise, presidential wannabe Sen. Barak
Obama stated that there should be "[n]o more coddling" of Iraqis.
Presidential has-been John Kerry told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "I believe you
have to be tougher, set a date, be clear about the transition of
authority, demand more from the Iraqis, leverage a change in their
behavior and get our troops out of harm's way."

Within a few short weeks, the Washington "consensus" has rewritten the
history of the U.S. invasion of Iraq - as if Iraqis invited the U.S. to
invade their sovereign nation in 2003 and now have failed to live up to
their end of the bargain. The mass civilian bloodshed at the hands of the
U.S. military is apparently irrelevant in this equation. But ongoing Iraqi
violence is presented as yet more evidence that Iraqis are "unwilling or
unable" to govern themselves.

Yet, as Mark Danner writes in the December 21 New York Review of Books,
U.S. occupation policies gave birth to the Sunni insurgency. L. Paul
Bremer, who replaced Jay Garner to lead the Coalition Provisional
Authority in May 2003, quickly moved to dismantle Iraq's military on
orders from Donald Rumsfeld. Garner recalled, "[T]he U.S. now had at least
350,000 more enemies than it had the day before - the 50,000 Baathists
[and] the 300,000 officially unemployed soldiers."

As Danner noted, "By dismissing and humiliating the soldiers and officers
of the Iraqi army our leaders, in effect, did much to recruit the
insurgency. By bringing far too few troops to secure Saddam's enormous
arms depots they armed it. By bringing too few to keep order they presided
over the looting and overwhelming violence and social disintegration that
provided the insurgency such fertile ground."

                         Lies, and more lies

The war was based on a set of lies, as the vanishing weapons of mass
destruction illustrated clearly. So too is today's talk that a "phased
withdrawal" constitutes a genuine withdrawal, prefaced by the clumsy
attempt to blame Iraqis for the state of their country.

The much hyped report of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) - itself a product of
bipartisan "consensus" among Washington powerbrokers - has already been
widely leaked to the mass media. While the report is anticipated to call
for halving the number of U.S. forces in Iraq, that still leaves
70,000-redeploying to U.S. bases inside Iraq or just outside, to serve as
a "rapid response force." The ISG is expected to call for combat troop
withdrawals perhaps by early 2008-but without any firm deadline. As Phylis
Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies observed, the ISG holds
"virtually the same position as Bush's own 'when Iraqis stand up we will
stand down.'"

Indeed, as Bennis also notes, "There is no indication in the initial set
of New York Times leaks that the ISG will recommend opening serious public
negotiations with any of the myriad of resistance forces fighting the U.S.
occupation in Iraq."

To be sure, the hot air will be swirling on Capital Hill come January,
when Biden launches up to eight weeks of Senate Foreign Relations
Committee hearings on Iraq. According to a Biden aide, the hearings are
expected to be "intensive and extensive."

But expect little of substance to come from these hearings, without
pressure from below. The electorate expressed its opposition to the Iraq
war on November 7. But electoral opposition is clearly not enough to
convince the two war parties in power that U.S. troops must leave Iraq -
and should never have invaded in the first place. U.S. occupation has
brought nothing but violence to the Iraqi people and will do nothing to
stem the bloodshed now.

Instead of blaming Iraqis for the misery that U.S. occupation has brought
them, U.S. lawmakers should listen to them. A September opinion poll by
WorldPublicOpinion.org showed that 71 per cent of Iraqis want the U.S. out
of Iraq within a year.

The long dormant antiwar movement must take to the streets to remind this
country's ruling elite that they ultimately must answer to the people they
govern.

Sharon Smith is the author of Women and Socialism and Subterranean Fire: a
History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States. She can be
reached at: sharon [at] internationalsocialist.org


--------11 of 13--------

[As the above 4 articles show, the Dems/Congress won't respond to the
clear intent of the people. That's because they respond to the true rulers
of the country, as explained below by Joe Bageant. -ed]

A Monstrous Class of Parasites
Somewhere a Banker Smiles
By JOE BAGEANT
CounterPunch
December 5, 2006

It's hard as hell to keep conspiracy theories out of one's mind these
days. And I'm not talking about "Who really brought down the Twin Towers?
or the "Are Zionists behind the Iraq War?" kind of stuff. Both camps are
pretty clearly dug in into their hardened bunkers on those issues. But the
booger stalking my ragged old mind these days puts both of those in the
shade because of its sheer scale. And it runs like this:

Is the consumerist totalization of this country and the world really a
conscious plot by a handful of powerful corporate and financial masters?
If we answer "yes" we find ourselves trundled off toward the babbling
ranks of the paranoid. Still though, it's easy enough to name those who
would piss themselves with joy over the prospect of a One World corporate
state, with billions of people begging to work for their 1,500 calories a
day and an xBox chip in their necks. It's too bad our news media quit
hunting with live ammo decades ago, leaving us with no one to track the
activities and progress of what sure as hell seem to be global elites,
judging from the financial spoor we find along every pathway of modern
life.

In our saner moments we can also see that it does not take dark
super-centralized plotting to pull off what appears to have been
accomplished. Even without working in overt concert, a few thousands of
dedicated individual corporate and financial interests can constitute a
unified pathogenic whole, much the same as individual cells create a
viable dominant colony of malignant organisms - malignant simply by their
anti-human, anti-societal nature. We don't see GM, Halliburton, Burger
King and CitiBank lobbying the state for universal health or clean rivers,
do we? But mention unions or living wages, and the financial colony within
our national Petri dish shape shifts into a Gila monster and squirts venom
on the idea and shits money all over Capitol Hill. I looked at all this as
coincidence for years until the proposition finally strained credulity so
much that I threw in the towel and said, "Fuck it. There is only so much
coincidence to go around in this world."

Put another way, the global decision makers, international planners,
financial institutions, political parties, media conglomerates,
corporations, banks, a hegemonic, accumulative bloc working in concert to
coordinate the extraction of wealth from first and third world alike. A
series of privately held international institutions to which and from
which money can be moved to leverage nations and populations according to
their needs is probably gonna do just that because they can. National
territory doesn't mean shit to such people, and those who govern said
territory mean even less, except to the extent they can obstruct or incite
resistance. People like Castro and Chavez. But even they are they are just
the thorn in the lion's paw.

Consider this: The war in Iraq has been immensely profitable for the
people who make weapons and for the contractors who supposedly rebuild
what the weapons destroy. They profit in either case. And the longer war
goes on the more they will make.

Meanwhile, the money for both is obtained through extraction practiced
upon the world's laboring poor. But the big money, the "juice" as street
people used to say, comes from squeezing the orange of American society
for more work, more production and tax money. Some of us older oranges are
feeling pretty wrung out these days and are getting hard as hell to get
along with. Yet, the squeeze doesn't seem to bother most Americans at all.
The pressure has been so great and so constant that no one any longer
feels it. It has become so pervasive as to be incomprehensible to ordinary
people. For example, seventy cents of every income-tax dollar goes to pay
for past, present, and future wars. Education gets two cents. As Michael
Parenti has pointed out, the cost of military aircraft parts and
ammunition kept in storage by the Pentagon is greater than the combined
federal spending on pollution control, conservation, community
development, housing, occupational safety, and mass transportation all put
together. And the US Navy spends more money in its never ending
development of a submarine rescue vehicle than is spent for public
libraries, occupational safety, and daycare centers combined.

Collectively, these financial super-elites, who either do or do not exist,
must be at least somewhat aware that they are managing the world.
Otherwise, why would we have Davos conferences and such? Global financial
conferences where the likes of Bill Clinton and Al Gore and John Kerry are
merely the entertainment, mere proof of the attendants' prestige? Can it
be true that the world's real players practically yawned at Alan
Greenspan's cryptic little speeches while waiting for the backstage action
with the real movers and shakers from Goldman, Citibank and others, none
of whom we have ever heard of but never the less are said to account for
the drop in gas prices in the U.S. just prior to the 2006 mid-term
elections? Word has it that they changed the index last July so oil
futures holders would be forced to dump in October and November, creating
a mild glut during the elections. If that is true, then we can probably
thank them for that Dow 12,000 last month too.

Meanwhile, back in Camp Davos, the lustful, pathologically approval
seeking, bright student teddy bear from Hope, Arkansas expounds and
entertains the new global elites. And everyone has Beluga caviar and
chopped hardboiled quail eggs afterward, even as more than one billion
people live on less than one dollar a day. "And have you tried the unborn
calf veal poached in Peruvian sheep's milk at the Swisse Bank suite? It's
to die for!" Nobody is remotely worried about blowback from that billion
people eating moldy cassava or rat urine polluted rice, because poverty,
well, poverty is not threat, is it? Just a source of cheaper labor. "Now,
about the oil crude taps and NYMEX . . . "

Personally, I've decided they are real and that they constitute an unseen
class, and that they are mid-stage in becoming the most powerful class the
earth has ever seen. One that American politicians not only refuse to
publicly acknowledge, but when pressed, flatly swear does not exist. Show
me the Republican or Democratic leader who says, "Politics is economics by
other means, and our own Federal Reserve Bank is a privately held
institution, not a governmental one, and is an interlocking part of the
global financial network which owes allegiance to no country or ordinary
citizens, regardless of nationality." Or, "My corporate campaign
contributions come from people whose every action is directed at
extracting two things from you, my dear voter: Your money and the cheapest
possible labor you can be driven to provide. The absolute cheapest
possible payment to you for the hours of your life consumed by work,
which, depending upon the degree of your delusion, is called either a job
or an exciting career."

No American politician is going to admit that. You must go to Venezuela or
the smoldering dumps of Manilla or fields of Chiapas to hear that sort of
truth.

Admittedly, there is at least some reason for fear among these elites. The
US economy, the real material economy, is dreadfully weak, having been so
gutted by parasitic speculation. The only source of strength left here is
the military, which is currently at play in an effort to gain control over
the world's energy supply, and make damned sure no one gets any funny
ideas about using anything but dollars in trading oil. But the real
players say, "Well then, let the Americans keep it if they can! If the
U.S. loses, then someone else wins. No matter. We can leverage our
position from any emerging market point on the globe. And doesn't China
look like a real comer, old boy! History is long. The Chinese understand
that." Thus we find the Chinese creating joint American holding companies
to buy up commercial US real estate at bottom dollar after the crash. At
some future point it could neatly offset their current loans to US for
more consumption of Chinese goods. And if the Americans get too pissy, the
Chinese can always turn off the money spigot.

On the other hand, this monstrous class of parasites has not yet won over
the entire world. America seems to be their only complete victory, and
that one will hold only as long as superheated consumption can be
sustained. They have only been at it for maybe forty years, and are still
pouring the foundation for the global gulag, setting the rules as they go.
And they are hitting at least a few speed bumps: "Why is Castro still
stinking up the joint, fer godzsake? And now we've got that friggin
mexi-nigger dwarf Evo Morales in his goddamned stinky little dime store
sweater strutting around like he was president or something. And why inna
hell hasn't somebody smoked these bastards? Doesn't the CIA do anything
for their paychecks anymore?"

Probably not. Last we heard the CIA was sidelined, sent to the benches
until they come up with those goddamned weapons of mass destruction.

Meanwhile, a Chinese economist calculates the US trade deficit. A Swisse
Bank exec orders another bottle of wine, and a Shia youth receives
instruction in how to blow up an oil pipeline.

Only the Chinaman and the bank exec are smiling.

Joe Bageant is the author of a forthcoming book, Deer Hunting With Jesus:
Dispatches from America's Class War, from 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: http://www.joebageant.com. Feel free to
contact him at: joebageant [at] joebageant.com.

Copyright  2006 by Joe Bageant.



[Depressing, huh? So let's end on an upbeat: the Latin American Axis of
Hope. Perhaps we could tour there to find out how to bring democracy to
America. I know, I know, we're just coming out of the corporate jungle,
eyes blinking in the sunlight; and it doesn't look like we'll be ready for
civilization for a few decades, if then. But let's think positively. -ed]

--------12 of 13--------

Chavez's Victory Strengthens Alliance with Cuba
Regimes Unchanged
By DERRICK O'KEEFE
CounterPunch
December 5, 2006

Though of course one would never celebrate the unavoidable fragility of
human life, it was perhaps fitting that 91 year-old former Chilean
dictator Augusto Pinochet suffered a heart attack on Sunday, December 3.

On the same day, Hugo Chavez - the man whom the United States and
Venezuela's elite have tried to consign to the same fate as Chile's
Salvador Allende - scored a massive election win, reaffirming the mandate
of the Bolivarian Revolution and its project of creating a "21st century
socialism." After defeating a coup in 2002, an employer's strike and oil
stoppage in 2002-2003, and a referendum in 2004, Hugo Chavez easily
dispatched challenger Manuel Rosales, winning over 60% of the vote,
according to unofficial results.

                 A strengthened "Axis of Hope"

It was indeed a very significant weekend in Latin American politics. On
Saturday, December 2, hundreds of thousands of Cubans mobilized to mark
the 80th birthday of Fidel Castro. The ailing leader, who stepped down
from his official posts earlier this year, did not attend the rally,
fueling widespread speculation that he is gravely ill and will never
return to power.

The alliance of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, which author Tariq Ali among
others has dubbed the "Axis of Hope", has emerged as a powerful challenge
to the interests of U.S. imperialism in the region and internationally.
The renewal of Chavez's mandate for another six years only makes this axis
stronger.

Given the electoral triumph of the Bolivarian forces and Castro's health
situation, one can easily speculate that the forces of Empire will be
focusing increased efforts at destabilizing the regime in Havana, with a
longer-term view to re-imposing a pliant, capitalist government. This
strategic aim has been an obsession of U.S. administrations for decades
and, furthermore, was reconfirmed in a nearly 500 page official policy
adopted in 2004. The codification of a policy of regime change is not
surprising, and many of the prescribed methods for destroying Cuba's
socialist government are already being accelerated with a view to
capitalizing on Fidel's exit from the scene.

         Chronicles of a fall (many times wrongly) foretold

Over the years, a cottage industry of right-wing commentators has existed,
anticipating the fall of the government in Havana. These vultures of the
pen have, indeed, been circling for decades. In 1992, for instance, the
Miami Herald's Andres Oppenheimer wrote Castro's Final Hour.

Oppenheimer is still producing twice-weekly shrill diatribes against
Chavez, Castro and everyone remotely on the Left in Latin America. His
tactical advice is instructive when analyzing the U.S. approach to
Castro's illness, as he urges a cautious, slow and deliberate approach to
regime change in Cuba (Hostile words play into Castro hands', The Miami
Herald, August 3, 2006).

Indeed, only the most irrational of even right-wing commentators believe
that the United States has a short-term military option against Cuba. Raul
Castro's speech at the December 2 rally in Havana included both an "olive
branch" offer of negotiations with the U.S. based on mutual respect and a
re-emphasis of Cuba's military preparedness:

"We shall continue to consolidate our nation's military invulnerability
based on the strategic concept of the War of All the People which we
planned and began introducing 25 years ago. This type of popular war, as
repeatedly proven throughout modern history, is simply invincible."

Election victory allows "increasingly defiant challenge to U.S. influence"

Oppenheimer, who wrote a column in advance of the Venezuelan elections
asserting a fraudulent win for the "narcissist-Leninist" president, might
do well to begin work on a book entitled Chavez's Final Hour.' The
Venezuelan leader now has at least another six years in power. (There has
been discussion of removing term limits, and Chavez has at times boasted
that he will stay in office until 2021.)

Fidel's "final hour" appears to have lasted about fifteen years. The
alliance with Venezuela in particular could ensure that future efforts at
regime change in Havana will continue to fail. Speaking to a rally of
hundreds of thousands, a week before his re-election, Chavez took the
opportunity to dedicate his victory, in advance, to the Cuban Revolution.
No one, of course, should confuse this unequivocal support with the lie
that the Bolivarian Revolution aims to copy or import the Cuban system.

Venezuelan socialism will have to define itself through participation and
struggle, and many contradictions and challenges remain. Oppenheimer's
flailing aside, Rosales has acknowledged his defeat, and even the
international media has pretty much had to call this election as it is.

The Associated Press story's lead summed it up nicely, "Emboldened by a
resounding re-election, President Hugo Chavez has all the political
capital he needs to drive Venezuela more firmly toward socialism while
posing an increasingly defiant challenge to U.S. influence."

Derrick O'Keefe is co-editor of Seven Oaks.


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