|Progressive Calendar 01.05.07||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2007 02:03:32 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 01.05.07 1. Ffunch 1.05 11:30am 2. Islam/conflicts 1.05 12noon 3. HLS demo 1.05 5pm 4. Women/trades 1.05 6pm 5. Iwo Jima/film 1.05 6. Homeless vets 1.06 10am 7. NW N4P vigil 1.06 11am 8. StP Green Party 1.06 12noon 9. Northtown vigil 1.06 1pm 10. Thom Hartmann 1.06 2pm 11. Dean Z/supper 1.06 5pm 12. PC Roberts - Bush cuts and runs from reason 13. Joe Bageant - Dispatch from the Chinese landfill 14. M Shahid Alam - Has regime change boomeranged? 15. Robert Jensen - The problem with solutions 16. ed - Passage to other planets (poem) --------1 of 16-------- From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: Ffunch 1.05 11:30am Meet the FFUNCH BUNCH! 11:30am-1pm First Friday Lunch (FFUNCH) for Greens/progressives. Informal political talk and hanging out. Day By Day Cafe 477 W 7th Av St Paul. Meet in the private room (holds 12+). Day By Day has soups, salads, sandwiches, and dangerous apple pie; is close to downtown St Paul & on major bus lines ---------2 of 16-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Islam/conflicts 1.05 12noon Friday, 1/5, noon, Hamline religion prof Mark Berkson speaks on "Militants, Islamists and Progressives: the Role of Islam in Global Conflicts Today," $10 includes lunch, Sorin Hall, Dining Rooms A&B, Hamline Univ, St Paul. RSVP cprice01 [at] hamline.edu or 651-523-2015. --------3 of 16-------- From: Isaac Peter <isaacspeter [at] gmail.com> From: Colleen <cmeyer [at] glassartdesign.com> Subject: HLS demo 1.05 5pm The metro area has a number of HLS customers that we can demo. Isaac Peter has researched and organized a demo at a local company named Syngenta who contracts with HLS. [Huntington Life Sciences - animal testing -ed] SYNGENTA FRIDAY JANUARY 5th 7500 Olson Memorial Highway Golden Valley, MN 55427 signs and literature will be provided 5:00-6:30 pm as they leave for the weekend, we can remind them that they leave work with blood on their hands if questions: please contact Isaac @ minnesotaprimatefreedom [at] gmail.com for more information see: www.shac.net). Syngenta ( www.syngenta.com) --------4 of 16-------- From: Erin [at] mnwomen.org Subject: Women/trades 1.05 6pm January 5: Women in the Trades Annual Meeting and New Year Banquet. 6 PM. Minnesota Women's Building, 550 Rice Street, St. Paul. Networking and spirits. RSVP: 651/228-9955 or ssolomon [at] dunwoody.edu. --------5 of 16-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Iwo Jima/film 1.05 1/5 to 1/11, film "Letters from Iwo Jima' is companion to "Flags of Our Fathers," told from the Japanese perspective, Lagoon Cinema, 1320 Lagoon, Uptown Mpls. 612-825-6006. --------6 of 16-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Homeless vets 1.06 10am Saturday, 1/6 (and each 1st Saturday), 10 to 11:30 am, Homeless Veterans for Peace meeting, Peacehouse, 510 E Franklin Ave, Mpls. Bob Heberle at 612-789-9020 --------7 of 16-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NW N4P vigil 1.06 11am The NW Neighbors for Peace weekly demonstrations every Saturday between 11am and noon along Vinewood, near Rockford Rd. (also known as 42nd Avenue or Cty. Rd. 9) and just east of 494. This is the entrance to Target, Rainbow, and other stores. --------8 of 16-------- From: David ShoveElizabeth Dickinson <eadickinson [at] mindspring.com> Subject: StP Green Party 1.06 12noon All people interested in finding out more about the Green Party of St. Paul are invited to: Our monthly meeting First Saturday of every month Mississippi Market, 2nd floor Corner of Selby/Dale in St. Paul noon until 2 pm <http://www.gpsp.org> --------9 of 16-------- From: Lennie <major18 [at] comcast.net> Subject: Northtown vigil 1.06 1pm Mounds View peace vigil EVERY SATURDAY from 1-2pm at the at the southeast corner of the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE in Blaine, which is the northwest most corner of the Northtown Mall area. This is a MUCH better location. We'll have extra signs. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. For further information, email major18 [at] comcast.net or call Lennie at 763-717-9168 --------10 of 16-------- From: david unowsky <david.unowsky [at] gmail.com> Subject: Thom Hartmann 1.06 2pm Magers and Quinn presents Air America star Thom Hartmann at Lyndale United Church of Christ, 31st and Aldrich Avenue South 2pm Saturday, January 6. Hartman will discuss his recent book SCREWED: THE UNDECLARED WAR AGAINST THE MIDDLE CLASS.Books will be available for sale and Hartmann will be available for signing after the talk. For further info: David Unowsky 612-822-4611 davidu [at] magersandquinn.com --------11 of 16-------- From: Dean Zimmermann <deanzimm [at] comcast.net> Subject: Dean Z/last supper 1.06 5pm Zimmermann Update January edition - The Last Supper Greetings Friends, Family & Supporters, Again I want to offer my deepest thanks to all of you who have been so kind and generous in your support of Jenny and me during the past year and a half. Please continue with your efforts to build a sustainable and just society. I look for a lot of good to come out of this situation. In answer to the many questions that I am getting about my current status: On Saturday, January 6th, 2007 there will be a "Last Supper" at the Twin Cities Friends Meeting (TCFM) House in St. Paul, 1725 Grand Avenue. This dinner will be hosted by members of our TCFM Committee of Support: Dorothy Thomsen, Richard Fuller, Betsy Raasch-Gilman, Anne Holzinger, Susan De Vries, and Charley Underwood. There are two parts to this evening: 1) at 5 pm there will be a Quaker Meeting for Worship service with attention to offering words of support for Dean. 2) Part Two is a potluck supper in the Fellowship Hall, lower level, of TCFM, starting between 6-6:15 p.m. Friends & family can share a blessing to give to me to take with me when I go to "camp" (no, we still do not know where I will be serving my time). You are welcome to attend one or both parts. I want to use this evening as a chance to see many of my friends and have an opportunity to thank you and say good bye, until we meet again. I hope many of you can join us on January 6th. After the supper, I will be in the meeting room for conversation until the last dog leaves. On December 18th I was sentenced to 30 months. While incarcerated, I hope to participate in a substance abuse program. If I complete the course successfully, it can lead to a few months being taken off of my sentence. With time off for good behavior, I hope to be back in 15 to 22 months--we shall see. I still do not know where I will be going, but I do have to report on January 29th. Judge Ann Montgomery recommended that I go to Yankton South Dakota, but that is only a recommendation. I asked for Yankton because it has a residential substance abuse program and it is near my brother in Omaha. It will be a 4 hour drive for Jenny, when she comes to see me. The decision is up to the Bureau of Prisons. I have decided that when I get to camp that I will volunteer to be on the maintenance crew, and perhaps I can teach some of the younger guys plumbing, electrical or other such skills. How all of this will play out remains to be seen, but I am sure that I can continue to be a useful person, even on the inside. If you want to send me letters, contact Jenny and she can give you the specifics. Keep in mind that anything you send will be read and censored by the prison. As far as sending "things", it is hard. For example, books can only be sent directly from the publisher. Again, we will know a lot more once I am there. Thanks to all who wrote letters to the Judge, my lawyer, Dan Scott read from many of them at the sentencing, they were all quite moving. I hope that I can live up to the descriptions of me in the letters. Thank you. My lawyer is Dan Scott, Attorney, Kelley & Wolter, P. A., Centre Village Offices, 431 S. 7th Street, Suite 2530, Minneapolis, MN 55415. Good news! We have decided to keep our home at 2200 Clinton Avenue. Thus Jenny will NOT be moving-hooray! We are still trying to sell our rental property at 2012 Grand Avenue, Mpls. This is a 4 unit building that is always full of good tenants. If you or someone you know might be interested, give us a call. Or better yet, call Bonnie Everts, our realtor, at 612-728-2225. We have an apartment for rent, available immediately. It is in Phillips at our old house and is very near the Light Rail. On December 6, Dean injured his left hand in a table saw accident. He still has 8 fingers and two thumbs, so not to worry. Just a couple of broken finger bones in the middle and index fingers and a few stitches in the left pinky. The hand is expected to make a complete recovery. Although this slowed me down, it has not stopped me. Dean is still working as a handyperson and will continue to do so until he heads out to "camp" on the 29th of January. Thus he is looking for home repair jobs. My last day of work will be January 26th. Jenny is still working half-time for the Minneapolis Blooms Program (formerly Blooming Boulevards). She is also doing quite well in here home cleaning business. We have recently had to change our email addresses, and in the process our we hit a few glitches. So if you have recently tried to email us and were not successful or if we have not responded, try us again. Note the new addresses. Stay happy, stay strong and redouble you efforts to build peace and justice. Again, thanks a bunch for the supportive phone calls, the e-mails-especially the humorous ones! the hugs, the smiles, the love you've shared with us through the years, especially this most difficult past year. I hope to see a lot of you on Saturday. Peace, Dean & Jenny Jenny Heiser & Dean Zimmermann 2200 Clinton Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55404-3655 612-724-3888, Home/Home Office Jenny's Cell: 612-558-9642 Jenny's E-mail: jennylh [at] comcast.net Dean's Cell: 612-388-1311 Dean's E-mail: deanzimm [at] comcast.net 612-722-8768, Fax --------12 of 16-------- His Last Hurrah Bush Cuts and Runs from Reason By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS CounterPunch January 3, 2007 On January 2 the BBC reported a leak from a "senior administration source" that President George W. Bush is going to give a speech, whose "central theme will be sacrifice," announcing an increase in US troops in Iraq for security purposes. Speculation abounds whether the leak is designed to block Bush's insane policy with protests or to soften its controversial edge when announced. The BBC reports that "already one senior Republican senator has called it Alice in Wonderland." Bush's proposal, if he makes it, is the work of retired army general Jack Keane and Frederic W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute. AEI is the second most important Israeli lobby in Washington after AIPAC. Keane and Kagan profess to believe that 30,000 more US troops can bring security to Iraq. Keane and Kagan argue that more US troops would permit the US military to retain control of an area after they had cleared it of insurgents. They ignore that Iraq has progressed from insurgency into civil war. There can be no Iraqi army independent of the sectarian conflict. The military problem for the Americans is no longer a small insurgency drawn from a minority of the population, but sectarian strife involving all of Iraq. Today the only choice for US forces is to ally with one side or the other in the civil war or to depart Iraq. Knowledgeable people regard the Keane/Kagan plan as a proposal designed to continue for a while longer the blood profits of the US military-industrial complex and to advance Israel's interests by spreading Sunni-Shi'ite conflict throughout the Middle East. The neoconservatives' original plan was to give Israel hegemony in the Middle East by using the US military to overthrow Iraq, Iran, and Syria. The failure of US forces to subdue Iraq has led to a new neoconservative plan to give Israel supremacy by spreading sectarian conflict among Muslims throughout the region. No Arab state would be stable, and Israel could proceed with its seizure of Palestine. If Bush adopts the Keane/Kagan "plan," he should be impeached for putting two special interests--the military-industrial complex and Israeli Zionist settlers--ahead of America's interests and the interests of peace in the Middle East. The crimes of the Bush regime already stand at a horrendous level. There is no support for the Keane/Kagan "plan" in the American political establishment, among Middle East experts and the American public, or within the Bush administration itself. The American electorate, or stolen elections, have put in the presidency an ignorant and moronic person who is guided not by sense and reason but by an enormous ego that can admit no mistake. In the name of a concocted "war on terror," the American public has permitted Bush an endless stream of mistakes. These mistakes are destroying any prospect for peace in the Middle East, committing America to endless and pointless conflict, destroying America's soft power while demonstrating the limits of its military power, creating a domestic police state, and endangering the US dollar. There is no imaginable gain from the Middle Eastern conflict that Bush has initiated that could possibly offset these costs to Americans. The US electorate attempted to rein in Bush in the November election by giving Democrats control of Congress. But Bush refuses to listen to the electorate as he prepares, instead, to mire America deeper in illegitimate conflict that does not serve America's interests. President George W. Bush is destroying America. Will Congress stop him? Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: paulcraigroberts [at] yahoo.com --------13 of 16-------- The Devil's Fine Red Tongue Dispatch from the Chinese Landfill By JOE BAGEANT CounterPunch January 3, 2007 Despite the bad name he has with liberals these days, Jesus did have the right idea. He'd get right down there on the street and grunt with the people, feeling them all over and healing their boils, feeding them and preaching his ass off while everybody hollered and saw the light as blind men popped open their eyes and lame folks started doing the Dead Sea Macarena. No maintaining a professional distance, no opinion polls for that guy. He just went out there and "got 'er done" in plain sight of everybody. Including the Jewish religious mafia ands the Roman super-state thugs of the time -- which is why he got whacked. But he left the world impressed enough that an influential book about his exploits is still on the best seller list today, dispelling publishing industry wisdom that people will not read a book over 300 pages. Jesus seems to have left no heirs to receive royalties, contrary to the speculations of Da Vinci Code readers, The Da Vinci Code being the middle-class equivalent of the Left Behind series. Anyway, Jesus ain't on my shit list and I surely hope I am not on his. Two thousand years later, the public expects more from their miracles than leprous hides instantly infused with the pink blush of health, or Lazarus dragging his rigor mortis locked bones into a fully upright position, then strolling off down the street as if death itself was no more than a bad case of the flu. Computer animation rendered all that pass decades ago, thus we seculars remain unimpressed. A wardrobe malfunction by Mary Magdalene might punch up the New Testament a little, but it's never going to budge the Neilson numbers, except at Easter and Christmas, and never going to register unless we see it on television or in the cinema, where Jesus on a pole is acceptable, providing he spills enough blood a la Mel Gibson while he is up there. Call it consumer conditioned numbness, which it is. But it is safe to say most Americans give not a happy damn about the rest of humanity, starving infants, the homeless and whatnot, so long as the unhygienic swarms stay the hell out of our yards and don't bring up that tired commie stuff about our lifestyle being based upon armed global theft and sweatshop misery. In that way, we all test positive for the Devil's hickey. Republicans may flaunt their hickeys like high school kids in the locker room, but guilt-plagued Democrats, feeling the smart of the mark of the beast, console themselves that they can banish it at the ballot box, if only they close their eyes and wish upon a star. Thus their comfortable self-delusions that the Tiger Woods of the Democratic Party, the technically black Barack Obama, is somehow blessed with an inner moral compass lacking in the rest of society, and therefore does not bear the damnable mark. Wiser souls, aware that Obama possesses a net worth of several millions, a Harvard law degree and a career born in that venerable political whorehouse called Chicago, assume the Devil's mark is probably located on his posterior where we cannot see it. Another political wish upon a star is that Hillary Clinton, a woman marked by so many hickeys that she looks like a victim of massive hemangioma -- but with botox -- will reform our brutal health care system without pulling up her skirt for the insurance industry. Like she says, there is "no possible governmental solution that does not include the insurance industry." Of course not. Industry is our government. Our votes merely decide which industries have front spots at the public trough for the next four to eight years. Lately it has been Big Pharma and the credit industry, and what a run they've had. Mandatory mental health screening in schools stuffs more prescription drugs into children. The credit card industry's new bankruptcy laws wring the last drop from consumers, instead of giving them the fresh start our forefathers had in mind when they established debtor's laws. But in a new twist on incarceration, they make one's home the new debtor's prison, a place where we sleep while we work off usury interest payments on debt. Meanwhile, out there in the vast looms of our government-as-corporation, the fast food industry weaves the Cheeseburger Bill, giving itself immunity to lawsuits as it fattens a nation of steers whose sole purpose is to consume, never to be butchered, except in the wars that protect the corporate cheeseburger. Even on the battlefront, it turns profit on millions of burgers and fries that are served to those who fight the oil and cheeseburger wars. American consumers watch this on TV and see it as comfortably familiar. We cannot possibly be doing so badly in Iraq if a soldier can get a Fishwich, a Red Bull, and a Puff Daddy CD on the battlefield. Right? Which is true enough, if you have been conditioned to see a Fishwich and a CD as a symbol of liberty and the utmost accomplishment of the republic -- if you see it as "our way of life." And indeed it is that. Oblivion with an order of fries. Children of the landfill When it comes to such oblivious pursuit after senseless commerce, the sheer turnover of goods and consumption as happiness, we cannot blame the Devil's hickey entirely on capitalism. America was not even a capitalist country during its early years, yet people still chased the same illusions. By 1848 we seem to have had the disease. Alexis de Tocqueville -- that damned guy holds up well, doesn't he! -- observed that Americans seemed to live for the chase after transactions, after change, consistently throwing away satisfaction in the process: "In America I saw the freest and most enlightened men, placed in circumstances the happiest to be found in the world; yet it seemed to me as if a cloud habitually hung on their brow, and I thought them serious and almost sad even in their pleasures. Maybe it's the price you pay for living in a society based round not happiness per se, but its pursuit." -- Alexis de Tocqueville Toqueville pointed out that Americans no more than got a nice family home built, than we turned around an immediately sold it for no apparent reason, other than the joy of the transaction. Then they were off to pursue some other transaction. I cannot help but think about the house I am trying to sell right now, the fifth one I have owned and sold. It was all so unnecessarily wasteful and destructive of creativity and thought in every way, the home owning lifestyle being what it is (you never own it, just rent it from our monolithic extractive financial system.) In any case, we seem to have found what we were pursuing -- the anesthetic of consumer capitalism. Lots of transactions, lots of goods, with the directions for pursuit televised so we don't even have to get off the couch -- just lie there and watch house hunting shows and lifestyle shows on Home and Garden Television, which are classified as "education/learning" by the rating system. The couch is a reasonable place to be these days, given that there is no real work left in America for sane functioning human beings. There is just survival (although the upper 20% of Americans safely isolated from the perspiring classes seem to think they are thriving because they more resemble the people pictured in slick lifestyle advertisements than most people. But it is still just a more elaborate form of survival amid the pointless and thin joy of consumerism, and the inherent material and spiritual wastefulness of life in here in the designated global landfill of that next rising empire, China. We are nowhere near rich, we are just conditioned to buy and throw away more expensive stuff. Not that we are entirely alone; Western Europeans are about a gnat's ass behind us in our wretched consumer excesses. But not being alongside or leading the pack, they are quick to point up our gluttony. When America's population drops dead from morbid obesity, Europeans will scale the mountain of our fallen porcine ranks, then jump into their newly inherited SUVs and drive off in search of a mall. But until then, they are left with a relatively equitable, sane society as a consolation prize, for a while longer at least. Here in China's global landfill, tens of millions of Americans are prisoners -- including me. And that is not counting the quarter of the world's incarcerated population who are America citizens physically held in US prison system. The rest of us serve a life sentence, released on personal recognition to pull our time in our own homes, processing goods for the Great Asian Goods Landfill Culture, here at the end of their new globalized Silk Route of Confucian capitalism. At this end of the electronics Silk Road we are prisoners of consumption, rather like those caged French geese that are force fed corn so as to produce fatty livers for pate. But in a marvelous marriage of psychology, psychometric marketing and the gulag, our system imprisons its people from the inside out. We even punish ourselves without supervision -- to doubt the system is its own punishment, purely for the social and personal anxiety it causes. Given enough insight, a thoughtful person can nearly question himself or herself to death. (Does the Department of Homeland Security really need access to my medical records and grocery receipts, or am I just paranoid? Will being uncircumcised put me on the no-fly list?) I do it every day and so do many of you. The system counts on that. On the whole though, our infantilized citizenry is having too much fun to question itself. In the drive for a harder hard-on, faster everything, and round the clock stimulation, we have created an artificial and frivolous citizenry, one that is incapable of serious thought or deeper humor -- a nation of children completely happy to stay that way. America's childish material gratification is so grotesquely satisfying that it smothers the most basic sort of reason, much less philosophical thinking. Fuck it all. Nietzsche and Rimbaud are too goddamned hard to read anyway. Beyond that, western philosophical tradition is based on grief and suffering. So is most great literature. I've never been a fan of the Van Gogh's ear school of creativity, but I have to admit that the few truly great American writers I've met wrote with at least one foot planted in pain. Who wants to read that, when entertainment of every imaginable sort, sparkles in the great hologram of our national illusion-delusion, right there for the plucking? For that matter, who can pull themselves away from such brilliant distraction? Not me. The only way to beat it is to leave it. Get outside the hologram. More thoughtful Americans are left facing the dilemma of a senseless life of senseless work, insensate sex, Oprah's flaccid moralizing books, cinema as high culture, fast food, guns and Jaaayzus. It is irrational that any culture born in the Age of Reason would turn out to be so irrational -- so completely in unquestioned contradiction it cannot be persuaded by argument, no matter how compelling. It seems doubtful that reason will ever provide the answer to this dilemma. I can tell you from experience that standing up in a KFC holding a "Buffalo Snacker" and yelling "Do you people really eat this shit?" is not taken as a call to reason. Meanwhile, the boys in corporate are cooking up a thousand fresh hells for us, including a 24/7 Pentagon TV channel and The Superbowl, KFC's new Chicken Potato Cheese Gravy Wad o' Food -- ample proof in itself that civilization is about done for. Hurricanes and boneyard gin I poop in a bucket ... and when the sun comes out I grab a shovel and bury it under the guava trees behind my house, where fallen passion fruit litter the ground like huge yellow Easter eggs. Poop out, passion fruit in, ancient organic system. But that doesn't matter. What does matter is the Idea of the Week. Every week, for fifty-two weeks, I think about one idea. One idea that is never discussed in American society. And the idea we need to pursue right now is: wouldn't we get more respect and cooperation from the rest of the world if we gave the world food, not bombs, medicines, water purification technology, and grains? Wouldn't we? -- Rich Zubaty, "The Rude Guy," a homeless person living in his truck in Maui, Hawaii I am here to tell you, dear hearts, this is one ole boy who does not intend to see the next fresh hell served up. Indeed I ain't! Why in the hell not turn off the television, park the car and just walk away? Why would anyone care to remain part of such a sorry-assed system, a government of war criminals ruling over a fearful nation of fattened livestock that probably will not change until the economy collapses, and then only after trying to kill half the planet in a desperate effort to preserve the Olive Garden lifestyle and 116 cable channels? What kind of citizenry consistently sneers at a candidate like Kucinich who openly declares for world peace to the most militarized nation on earth? (Hell, it's no crime to be three feet tall.) Or stands up against corporate ownership of our government like Nader does (It is no crime to be smart like Nader either, just don't be so damned smart you bore everyone to death, like Al Gore.) Simple action is available. Non-action really. If a quarter of Americans did not pay their bills for one month the hologram would come crashing down. The government would either come crawling on its knees, or expose itself for the police state it really is. For me, salvation is at hand, as the preachers say. After more three years of ups and downs and setbacks, I am finally off to Central America to eat rice and beans, and to do a little more good in the world than just process and deposit toner cartridges, beer bottles and triple AAA remote control batteries into the landfill. And do a little writing by the sea to boot. Perhaps I'll be lucky enough to eventually die there and be washed out into that great god-created soup from which life sprang. I ain't gonna kill myself to do it, but it is the preferred scenario at this late age. I do not expect it to change. However, this being America, any move on the board is at a cost. We must pay. The system makes sure of that. So I risk losing family and social position (ha!) and an economic stake in present American society. (Which is fine by me, but please, oh lord, don't let the Republicans steal the Social Security kitty too -- I can make do on half the SS I paid for and smoke ditchweed pot, but good gin is a price stable commodity.) I've already thrown away health insurance by quitting my magazine editorial job, and am happily left to figure out how to conduct the rest of my breathing hours, no small issue for a COPD victim such as myself. So hell, why not go to Belize? Or Madagascar for that matter? Or sleep forever on the beach in Mexico. Sure, sun and sand are the easy paint-by-numbers notion of paradise for Americans, but it depends upon where said sand is located. Cancun and Aruba ain't everybody's idea of heaven. Personally, I can live with a few lizards in my kitchen and the occasional hurricane if the people around me are decent. In truth, I'll be thrilled pissless if this little adventure in aging lets me spend half the year out of the country. Any escape from the hologram is an empowering thing, if you can possibly find a hole in its shroud. None of this requires much money by American standards -- at least not until the dollar, in its present descent, starts hovering somewhere next door to the Bengladeshi taka. Which appears to be sometime next week. But when I stop to consider that it was money and the things it will buy that got our asses in this jam to start with, well, it seems like a good idea not to have too much of it around. So why not live on about $4000 to $5,000 a year? I picked the number as globally equitable, based upon the advice of a couple of very good economists. Obviously, neither of them were American. And guess what? They over estimated the cost of happiness, because my first choice was squatting by the burning ghats of India. Almost no cost at all. Bring your own firewood. Just the godhead in your eyes every waking hour. Delusional? Naw, it's just a matter of one's goals and tastes. It is quite true that writers care only for themselves and their art in the end -- especially in the end. I've seen good people rendered madmen and hermits by our system and I do know this: It will destroy me if I keep living inside its machinery, dally too long on the landfill. It's more than a hunch. Too many days my nerves are shot if I think about it very long. Call me weak, but I'm calling time out -- an end to trying to buy material security in a nation so addicted to it there can never be enough. We all carry our own asses down the path to the bone yard. The question is whether to drag your feet as you go, by spending your life in meaningless employment hell just so you can have health insurance (thereby living longer so you can spend more time in employment hell) or jog the path. Grim as this may be to the young'uns reading, I can hear the old fucks laughing along with me. In any case, there are plenty of paths to the boneyard. There are flourescent lit fitness centers, so you can die in top condition, there is the American "career path," chasing the buck in harness with untold millions so you can engorge your carcass with fine wine and cheese and have a koa wood casket with gold fittings. Liquor is another path. For the morally and financially challenged writer, there is the classic combination of booze, nerves and cigarettes. My wife's anguished voice asks "Why did you start smoking again? Didn't the doctor tell you it would kill you?" Kill me, for fuck sake? There have been times when I asked myself how many sedatives purchased online constitute an overdose. Looking back, I consider that progress. As Kafka said, when you find yourself considering suicide, you are beginning to understand the human race. And it becomes obvious that the death of one individual by smoking pales against the mass sacrifice of 300 million American's humanity to the post modern god whose scripture is the spread sheet and the P&L statement. Ah, but this is America and every individual consumer ass is solid gold, even if as a nation, we are a throng of numb obese killers on its way to the gym for a workout. Has everybody lost all sense of proportion and sheer gravity in this country? How can we continue to make jolly amid the escalating wars and death from which we all profit? What is this? The damned German interwar cabaret society of diversion? Fortunately, just like everywhere else, darkness and sleep comes to the glittering landfill, ending unpleasant arguments about smoking and the cabaret society alike. I awoke last night to the warm odor of fluffy baby chicks filling the bedroom. My grandfather used to raise chicks when I was six, and by some nocturnal alchemy the long trapped childhood ecstasy of putting a handful of them to my face in the warm brooder house came flooding back. Upon closing my eyes again, an image of the blackish red spilled blood of a gunshot wound puddled on a blue tile floor in some desert place. The cabaret music rises, drowning the muffled screams from our empire's far flung network of "black sites," and all those other unpleasant things that happen in the dark rippling wake of our happiness. 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. --------14 of 16-------- Has Regime Change Boomeranged? by M. Shahid Alam www.dissidentvoice.org January 3, 2007 In the early 1990s, the fall of the Soviets produced a surge of triumphalism in the US. After defeating the fascist challenge in the 1940s, liberal capitalism had trumped its last adversary, global communism. This triumphalist mood was caught pithily in Francis Fukuyama's claim that mankind - of course led by the West - had reached "the end of history." This quickly produced a global regime change. Within a few years, the capitalist centers stripped most countries in the periphery of the autonomy they had gained in stages, starting in the 1930s. In this latest wave of integration, the periphery would not be "colonized," but Washington would define their economic rules. Most countries in the periphery would now be forced to open their doors to foreign capital, privatize their economy, scrap their plans, and dismantle their welfare systems. In all but name, they began to look like the Open Door economies of the nineteenth century. US economic dominance, however, was not enough for two segments of the American neoconservative movement, consisting of ultra-nationalists (Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bolton) and the Ziocons (Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle), a term coined by James Petras. They wanted the US to take advantage of the unipolar moment - opened up by the demise of Soviet Union - to make its political dominance irreversible. There were two components to the neocon plan. First, they began to work on plans to extend US military superiority to a point where no potential rival would dare to challenge its hegemony in any region of the world. In violation of international laws, the US would enforce its total hegemony by waging preventive wars against any country that acted contrary to its economic or political interests. This military plan would first be tested in the Middle East. This is what brought the ultra-nationalists and the Ziocons together. The first wanted to take complete control of the world's oil spigot in order to destroy the OPEC and hold Europe, Japan and China at ransom. The Ziocons wanted to destroy the few remaining centers of resistance to Israeli hegemony in the Middle East - Iraq, Iran and Syria. But these plans had to be put on hold. President Bill Clinton was not ready to fully embrace their plans, even though his war and sanctions against Iraq prepared the base on which the neocons would build later on. The neocons were back in the saddle with the election of George W. Bush in 2000. They waited for the right time to unleash their wars in the Middle East. The events of 9-11 arrived as their Pearl Harbor. The Americans could now be bamboozled to support their dreams of creating a global and everlasting American Empire. For the Periphery, the world looked quite bleak in the 1990s. Having lost the leverage of Soviet Union, most regions of the periphery capitulated to the blackmail of IMF, the World Bank and the WTO. Those who resisted - or refused to make "peace" with Israel - were blacklisted as rogue states. The communist economies in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe suffered melt down; their living standards and life expectancy plummeted. The development regimes in the Third World were dismantled, exposing them to the ravages of global financial manipulation. In 1997, even the "miracle economies" of Southeast Asia were laid low by Wall Street and the IMF. In the aftermath of 9-11, matters appeared to get worse in the periphery. Under the pretense of waging "war against global terrorism," the neocons launched their plan for establishing global dominance. Overnight, following the lead established by Israel, the US defined all resistance to American hegemony as terrorism. It was now licensed to carry its preventive wars to all corners of the globe. It also licensed regional powers and local despots to expand their violation of human rights under the cover of the "war against global terrorism." In the weeks after 9 April 2003, when US troops captured Baghdad, it appeared that the United States was on a roll. Iran, Syria, North Korea could count the days to their own quick demise. Israel was getting ready to complete its ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians. Pakistan would be asked to liquidate its nuclear arsenal or prepare to be bombed back to the stone age. In time, Egypt and Saudi Arabia would be dismembered into smaller client states. At some point in this sequence, the oil resources of the region would be privatized, sold for a song to US oil corporations. Finally, with a firm American grip on the Middle Eastern oil spigot, Europe, Japan and China would take their humble stations under the shadow of American hegemony. In the weeks after launching their war against Iraq, the neocons began to imagine that the world was theirs for the taking; the new American century had begun. Yet how their plans have gone awry. All because a few thousand damned Iraqis decided to rob the Americans of the richly-deserved fruits of their victory. [We gutless American lesser-evil wimps must thank them for saving the possibility of our democracy and freedom. -ed] A sea change has been unfolding since April 2003, though it is not going in the directions projected by the neocons. More than three years after the invasion of Iraq, the Americans are deeply troubled by the war they are losing in Iraq. While the 9-11 attacks failed to energize the Arab street, the Americans who entered Iraq were immobilized in the streets of Baghdad, Falluja, Najaf, Ramadi, Basra and Kut. This is an earth-shaking event, all of whose consequences have yet to unfold. Instead of falling victims to US-sponsored regime change, the Iranians are now stronger than they have ever been in their recent history. For the first time in centuries, their influence extends deep into Iraq and Afghanistan, where they now possess the ability to ramp up the costs of the US occupation. In addition, Iran has positioned a battery of missiles that can close down shipping in the Gulf, threaten oil installations in the Sheikhdoms, and strike inside Israel. Due in part to its own hubris, the US has dramatically reduced its options in the Middle East. In July 2006, Israel made a bid to weaken Iran and Syria by destroying Hizbullah and starting a civil war in Lebanon. The gambit failed on both counts. Hizbullah was hardly scratched. Unlike three Arab armies in June 1967, Hizbullah responded by disrupting life in northern Israel, destroyed more than 40 Israeli tanks, and poking holes in Israeli intelligence gathering. Most importantly, by choosing to fight, the few thousand Hizbullah fighters destroyed Israel's myth of invincibility. Together, these developments have seriously exposed the vulnerability of America's Arab client states. Scared of the consequences of US defeat and the imminent withdrawal from Iraq, they have been forced to ally themselves more closely and openly with Israel ambitions in the region. These client states do not now possess even a patina of legitimacy. In desperation, Saudi Arabia is pinning its hopes on using its oil wealth to incite an Islamic civil war. With America forces caught in the Iraqi quagmire, Latin America is breaking free from US hegemony. Governments "unfriendly" to the US have now been established in Peru, Bolivia and Nicaragua, in addition to the growing strength of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela. A leftist victory was missed by a narrow margin in Mexico - or more likely, stolen. Cuba is demonstrating that it can survive without Castro. Admittedly, these changes in the political map of Latin America consummate trends that began with the onslaught of neoliberal policies in the 1980s. Moreover, this time the Latin American resistance is being led or fueled by a resurgent native population eager to overthrow the colonial-settler elites imposed on them since the seventeenth century. Yet, it is doubtful if the United States would have allowed these changes to occur - or to stand - if it were not bogged down in Iraq. Unexpectedly, even Pakistan's servile ruling class is stealthily taking advantage of US troubles. More likely, Islamist elements within the army are ramping up their support for the Taliban resurgence. Once again, the Pashtuns, who had led the jihad against the Soviet occupation, are gearing up for a big fight against the US-led occupation of their country. As Afghanistan slips out of control, Americans will find it harder to sustain their challenge to Soviet and Chinese ambitions in Central Asia. The American loss of prestige in Iraq is taking its toll in Africa too. African rulers are feeling freer to enter into long-range economic relations with China. Rapidly, China is increasing its ownership of a whole range of resources in the African continent, mostly at the cost of positions the US and Europe had built up over centuries. The Chinese have the advantage - at least now - of offering economic investments without any political strings. With the attention of the US establishment riveted on Iraqi, Africa is slowly slipping out of America's grasp and moving into the Chinese sphere of influence. It is doubtful if the US would have rushed into its risky military adventure in the Middle East without the support of Ziocons. Empires in decline are tempted to shore up their standing with military adventurism. With their superb salesmanship, the Ziocons sold the Iraq war to the US administration and the American public as a cakewalk, a historic tipping point, and America's calling in the Middle East. At least for now, Israel is happy to see Iraq disintegrate into chaos, a goal that it has long cherished for the entire Middle East. However, as US losses accumulate this could easily backfire. Even if the war's human toll does not force an early withdrawal of American troops, it is unlikely that the Iraqi war can be sustained for long. The rising economic costs of the war - together with ascendancy of the Asian agents, escalating oil price, rising trade deficits, and sliding dollar - will force the US to reconsider its posture in the Middle East. Whenever the US reaches this point, Israel is likely to face its neighbors without the American shield. Worse, a growing number of Americans will begin to see the Israeli fingerprint over their Iraqi defeat. Taking advantage of the tragedy of 9-11, the neocons instantly activated their plans to re-colonize the Middle East, starting with regime change in Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Syria. The US and Israel were hoping to improve upon the success achieved by the British and Zionists during World War I. At this stage, it appears unlikely that these hopes will be realized. For sure, the neocons quickly effected regime in Iraq, but soon after, the resistance of a few thousand Iraqi insurgents also set in motion forces that are threatening to change the global regime. A sober reckoning of all the costs of the Iraq war - and these costs are still unfolding - suggests that the US bid for regime change in the Middle East has boomeranged. Instead, the war has been forcing a regime change on the protagonist. [Huzzah! -ed] M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at a university in Boston, and author of Challenging the New Orientalism: Dissenting Essays on America's "War Against Islam" (IPI Publications: 2006). He may be reached at: alqalam02760 [at] yahoo.com. Copyright 2006 M. Shahid Alam --------15 of 16-------- The Problem with Solutions by Robert Jensen www.dissidentvoice.org January 3, 2007 I've been assigned to talk about solutions to the pressing problems we face, but I've never been very good at following orders. So, instead I'm going to talk about the problem with solutions. The assignment came from our first "Last Sunday" event in November, which we hoped would bring together the secular and spiritual, the political and the social. The standing-room-only audience generated a lot of positive energy that night, but that doesn't mean the event - or the ideas animating it - were immune from criticism. And, this being Austin, we heard from lots of folks about what they thought those shortcomings were. Two consistent themes emerged from the feedback, captured in this suggestion card: "Don't spend so much of our precious time telling us about the problems. We already know (most of) the problems. Instead, spend more time telling us about solutions that we, as individuals, and as a group, can do. We are looking for HOPE. Show us how we can be part of the solution." "We already know the problems - tell us about solutions." Over and over I've heard that, not just after Last Sunday, but ever since I started doing political organizing. While I understand the sentiment, I want to suggest that the first claim is inaccurate, and the second request is dangerous. First, we - not just the so-called "masses" out there, but we in here - have not yet fully grasped the nature of the problems we face. Second, as we are struggling to come to terms with the depth of those problems, we have yet to face the fact that there are no solutions. In other words: (1) None of us is as smart as we would like to think, and (2) as we start to recognize our own collective ignorance, we will have to face not just what we can do but what we can't. Perhaps paradoxically, that is where I find hope - in facing honestly the condition of the world that we have desecrated and the limits of human intelligence to reconsecrate that world. It is only from those realizations, I believe, that meaningful action is possible. When I say we don't know the problems, I don't mean we aren't aware of what is plainly in front of us: Disastrously destructive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a house-of-cards economy, enduring racism and sexism, cascading ecological crises, and a corrosive culture that values profit over people. But how deep does our analysis go? How well do we really understand the inherent pathology of capitalism and patriotism? How many of us have dared to stare down the ugliness and raw brutality at the core of white supremacy and patriarchy? And have we honestly assessed the tension between those aspects of our human nature (our capacity for greed and violence) that created those problems and those aspects (our capacity for solidarity and love) that make transcending these problems possible? As the song goes, "all you need is love," but the problem is we also have a lot more than love swirling around in each of us. We have to face the fact that we are a species that has, in the words of Wes Jackson, gotten very good at exploiting the energy-rich carbon in this world's soils, forests, and fossil fuels to enrich ourselves at the expense of others. That's part of human nature. Now we have to do what no other species has had to do - self-consciously practice restraint at what we do best in such bad ways. That is no small task, but our ability to name that task and imagine accomplishing it also is part of human nature. If we all really understood the problems in this sense, we might not be so quick to demand solutions - if by that term we mean clear public-policy choices that can be implemented in the relatively short term. Such a yearning for short-term solutions is, I believe, the best indication that one hasn't come to terms with the depth of the problems. Take the problem of oil - both that we are running out and that burning what's left will accelerate rapid climate change. A demand for solutions can lead to the corporate boondoggle of corn-based ethanol or the hazy illusions around biodiesel, instead of helping us face a more troubling reality: There is no viable alternative to petroleum for a car-based transportation system that it is fundamentally unsustainable. What are the possible "solutions" to that "problem," which we all allegedly know about, other than to radically curtail the way we move ourselves about? This doesn't mean there's nothing we can do. It doesn't mean there aren't things we should do. There are actions we can take, and we have to work hard to make sure we take the best possible actions to try to reverse the direction of a world headed for the cliff. In the realm of portable liquid fuels, economically and ecologically it's clear that corn-based ethanol is a loser that should be abandoned, while biodiesel has limited possibilities that should be pursued, but realistically. But as we pursue those "solutions," we also have to face a fact: There are no solutions that will allow us to continue to live this way. There is only the struggle to find something new, with no guarantees we will find our way. Why press such a seemingly dour scenario? Because anything else is illusion, and illusions can never carry us home. Illusions inevitably fall away, leaving people feeling abandoned, depressed, and hopeless. Illusions are not practical. Ruthlessly rejecting illusions is not the same as giving up hope. But we have to be clear that hope isn't something to be found out in the world; it's a feature of our humanity that each of us has to either claim or abandon. It's a state of being, not a function of the state of the world. When I make this argument, I am often told that illusions are necessary, that people can't handle this level of honesty. I take that to mean that the person making this judgment about other people's limitations actually is really saying "I need my illusions because I can't handle this level of honesty." I say that with no arrogance, knowing how I struggle to handle it. The only way I can keep up that struggle is collectively, in community, through conversation. That's what Last Sunday is about. We did not create this space to pretend that those of us on stage know all the right questions, let alone the answers. We have no solutions to offer. Instead, we offer an invitation and an invocation, a place and a space - and, okay, yes, we offer our sense of hope, of what can come from coming together. But that hope must begin with honesty. Here's my honest statement: I stand before you in a profound state of grief for the state of the world. For me, Last Sunday is about creating a place to feel that, honestly. Last month, Jim Rigby quoted the anarchist Emma Goldman on the subject of joy in politics, reminding us that we should reject any revolution in which we can't dance. But just as important, I won't be part of any revolution in which I can't cry. I think we have to recognize this grief. We have to demand that the revolution be one in which we not only can dance, but cry as well. One of my favorite writers, Wendell Berry, talks of coming to terms with "the human estate of grief and joy." What an apt way to describe the essence of what it means to be human. When we face honestly our place in the world, we recognize the need to cry and to dance. We recognize that each requires the other. Last Sunday, whatever else it may be, is the attempt to name that estate honestly, to claim that estate responsibly, to remind ourselves of how much work we have to do if we are to live there with hope. Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and a board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center. He is the author of The Heart of Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege and Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (City Lights Books). He can be reached at rjensen [at] uts.cc.utexas.edu. This article is based on remarks to the second "Last Sunday" community gathering in Austin, TX, December 29, 2006. [ How brave and bright with beauty is man's brief and bitter day. --Homer, trans Reginald Allen -ed] --------16 of 16-------- Passage to Other Planets For humanity to have new birth The master class must leave the earth. For mankind to reach the stars Masters must be moved to Mars. To reach the height of human genus Remove the rulers to hot Venus. Want the bosses off Uranus? Fly them there - they'll no more pain us. For us all to reach high noon Knock the nazis to Neptune. Liberty equality fraternity? Make the rat pack live Saturnity. Tired of being a total dupiter? Send the liars off to Jupiter. Sick of being a roasted turkury? Send the fryers off to Mercury. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments
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