|Progressive Calendar 12.08.06||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|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 --------2 of 13-------- 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. --------9 of 13-------- 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. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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