Progressive Calendar 03.27.07
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2007 07:52:41 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    03.27.07

1. Lurking/KFAI     3.27 11am
2. Tell Ellison     3.27 1pm
3. Palestine/CTV    3.27 5pm
4. War funding vote 3.27 6:30pm
5. Fresh-energy     3.27 6:30pm
6. EJAM GlobalWarm  3.27 6:30pm
7. Sudan/play       3.27
8. MN smoking ban   3.27

9. Howard Zinn     - Are we politicians or citizens?
10. Sunsara Taylor - Dem victory means more Iraqi deaths
11. John V Walsh   - Peace turncoat Dems' war funding debacle
12. James Carroll  - Americans face a moral reckoning
13. Bill Hatch     - A plague of Big Shots
14. Carl Bloice    - Bush's latin reality show
15. ed             - The rich  (poem)

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Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 08:14:47 -0600
From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Lurking/KFAI 3.27 11am

REPEAL the "lurking" ordinance in Minneapolis. TUNE IN Tues MAR.27, 11am
on KFAI RADIO's "Catalyst:politics & culture" to ehar GUY GAMBILL talk
about this ordinace, why & how it must be repealed and other local law
enforcement issues as they reate to the most dis-enfrancised in our
communities.

KFAI RADIO is 90.1 fm Mpls 106.7 fm St Paul LIVE STREAMINGONLINE
http://www.kfai.org


--------2 of 15--------

Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2007 21:46:31 +0000
From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Tell Ellison 3.27 1pm

Occupation Project @ Rep. Elllison's Office
Tuesday, March 27th 1- 5pm @ U.S. Fifth Congressional District: Keith
Ellison's Office, 2100 Plymouth Avenue North (corner of Penn Ave.) in the
Urban League Building Minneapolis, MN 55411

For the past 7 weeks the Occupation Project has been organizing sit-ins in
representative and senator offices across MN to pressure our congressional
delegation to not vote for the $123 Billion Supplemental Funding Bill.
They didn't organize for constituents to sit in at Rep. Ellison's office
because he promised Occupation Project organizers that he would vote
against all funding for the war and he said he wanted the troops out now.
Unfortunately, last Friday Ellison voted to continue the funding for the
war and having US troops in Iraq until the fall of 2008.

This is the last Tuesday of the Occupation Project.  The Anti-War
Committee is calling on their supporters to phone, email or come to
Ellison's office to voice their opposition on Tuesday.  We need to join
our voices together to say that we say no to funding for the war and to
continuation of US troops in Iraq.  We need to hold our officials
accountable - especially when they say they represent the peace community
and then don't vote the way they have promised they would.  Your
participation is critical!  Please help us send a clear message.

Ellison's Contact info:
Local information:  Phone: (612) 522-1212, Fax: (612) 522-9915
DC office: Phone: (202) 225-4755, Fax: (202) 225-4886

To send Ellison an email you can do it from his webpage:
http://ellison.house.gov/
Called by the Anti-War Committee as a part of the Occupation Project.

[One would hope that progressive Dems would profit from bad experiences,
and begin to look elsewhere. But probably not. It is less like an ordinary
practical estimation of profit and loss, and more like a religious faith
in life after death, immune to all possible evidence. This is an excellent
position for a political party to be in, because it never has to do
anything for the people, but they will still vote for it, no matter what.
-ed]


--------3 of 15--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: Palestine/CTV 3.27 5pm

Dear St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN 15) viewers:

"Our World In Depth" cablecasts at 5 pm and midnight each Tuesday and 10
am each Wednesday in St. Paul.  All households with basic cable can watch.

3/27 and 3/28  "Re-framing The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict"
Interview of Jeff Halper, Israeli with MN roots, head of the Israeli
Committee Against House Demolitions.  Hosted by Karen Redleaf.


--------4 of 15--------

From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: War funding vote 3.27 6:30pm

This Tuesday, March 27, we will have Open Discussion.  Perhaps we can
discuss the vote last Friday in Congress re. the war funding.  Was it the
way you would have voted on it, and if not why?

Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) are held (unless otherwise
noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943
W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.


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Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 08:45:32 -0700 (PDT)
From: David Strand <mncivil [at] yahoo.com>
Subject: Fresh-energy 3.27 6:30pm

Plymouth  Progressive˘s Meet and Greet
http://zanby.com/node/501
Tuesday, March 27th
3355 Plymouth Blvd. (off of Hwy 55), Plymouth
6:30 p.m. (Pizza Buffet), 7 p.m. Program

Speaker:  J Drake Hamilton of Fresh-energy.org
Fresh-energy.org http://www.fresh-energy.org She will talk to us about
renewable energy in MN. Hamilton is the Science Policy Director at Fresh
Energy.org She will speak to us about the looming environmental crisis in
a fact based but understandable way. She will also present renewable
energy solutions that we can all do to help MN bolster its economy and
convert to sustainable energy.


--------6 of 15--------

Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 08:46:45 -0600
From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: EJAM GlobalWarm 3.27 6:30pm

Global Warming Working Group
Free event- light food will be provided
Tuesday, March 27, 6:30-8:30
Minneapolis Urban League 2100 Plymouth Ave. N. Minneapolis, MN

We will focus on Global Warming issues and how it is impacting our
communities. Please join us in a community dialogue and help us strategize
to create change. Facilitated by: Shalini Gupta, EJAM Board Member For
more information please contact Karen Monahan, Organizer Environmental
Justice Advocates of Minnesota 612-436-5402


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Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 14:12:23 -0500 (CDT)
From: Stephen Feinstein <feins001 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Sudan/play 3.27

Coming to Children's Theatre of Minneapolis
The Lost Boys of Sudan
By Lonnie Carter
Directed by Peter C. Brosius
March 27 to April 22, 2007
Cargill Stage
Most enjoyed by ages 15+

A.I. Josh, T-Mac Sam and K-Gar Ollie all meet in the worst way: fleeing
the horrors of war. And as they team up on a perilous journey to a refugee
camp, they exchange heroic survival stories, song and even laughter. Thus
begins an extraordinary passage that eventually takes three boys of the
Dinka tribe to, of all places - Fargo, North Dakota. Where encountering
drought, crocodiles and guerrillas is replaced with malls, video games,
and Skittles. If you can't imagine being a continent, a culture, a
language away from home, join three boys who couldn't either - at first.

Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies is hosting an art exhibition
from Lost Boys at the Children's Theatre that will move to the Katherine
E. Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota in June and July.

In addition, one of the leading Lost Boys artists, Atem Aleu, will speak
after the Saturday evening performance, March 31. He will also speak at St
Cloud State University on Monday April 2.


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From: Jeanne Weigum jw [at] ansrmn.org
Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2007 12:47:34 -0500
Subject: MN smoking ban 3.27

Three cheers!!!!  We are on our way to the Senate floor and this time it
is serious.  We will likely be on the schedule Tuesday, March 27.

We are still scrambling for every single vote.  We need your help and we
need it now.

Dredge your memory and see if you know anyone in the communities listed
below.  Urge people to call or e-mail their support for a comprehensive
Freedom to Breathe bill without preemption.  This must be done Monday or
Tuesday AM to make any difference.

Gary Kubly,20, Granite Falls, Montevideo,
Ortonville,sen.gary.kubly [at] senate.mn, 651-296-5094

Steve Murphy,28, Red Wing, Cannon Falls, Lake City, Zumbrota
http://www.senate.mn/senatormurphyemail,651-296-4264

John Doll,40, Burnsville, Bloomington, sen.john.doll [at] senate.mn, 296-5975

Tom Saxhaug,3, Grand Rapids, Greenway, Nashwauk, Koochiching, Baudette,
Mcgregor, sen.tom.saxhaug [at] senate.mn, 651-296-4136

Joe Gimse, 13, Willmar, Glenwood, Albany, Melrose, sen.joe.gimse [at] senate.mn
651-296-3826

This morning (Sat) we had the final Senate hearing.  Linda Berglin offered
an amendment that appears to have undone the damage done in the previous
committee.  It passed on a voice vote with Neuville and Pariseau voting
against it. (Again I must complain that Pariseau is an RN!) The bill is
now very nearly the same as it was when it was introduced.  We are still a
wee bit confused about the language as it relates to patios but we hope to
have some clarification on that tomorrow. (yup, Sunday).

On Monday we have the House hearing in the Finance Committee.  I will be
in touch with you after that hearing, which could be any time between 9:am
and 9:pm.

We are nearing the home stretch.  PLEASE do anything you are able to do
about the senators listed above.  Who knows?  Your call may be just the
one that tips the tables.


--------9 of 15--------

Are We Politicians or Citizens?
By Howard Zinn
The Progressive
May 2007 Issue

As I write this, Congress is debating timetables for withdrawal from Iraq.
In response to the Bush Administration's "surge" of troops, and the
Republicans' refusal to limit our occupation, the Democrats are behaving
with their customary timidity, proposing withdrawal, but only after a
year, or eighteen months. And it seems they expect the anti-war movement
to support them.

That was suggested in a recent message from MoveOn, which polled its
members on the Democrat proposal, saying that progressives in Congress,
"like many of us, don't think the bill goes far enough, but see it as the
first concrete step to ending the war."

Ironically, and shockingly, the same bill appropriates $124 billion in
more funds to carry the war. It's as if, before the Civil War,
abolitionists agreed to postpone the emancipation of the slaves for a
year, or two years, or five years, and coupled this with an appropriation
of funds to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act.

When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has
forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to
fall in meekly behind them.

We who protest the war are not politicians. We are citizens. Whatever
politicians may do, let them first feel the full force of citizens who
speak for what is right, not for what is winnable, in a shamefully
timorous Congress.

Timetables for withdrawal are not only morally reprehensible in the case
of a brutal occupation (would you give a thug who invaded your house,
smashed everything in sight, and terrorized your children a timetable for
withdrawal?) but logically nonsensical. If our troops are preventing civil
war, helping people, controlling violence, then why withdraw at all? If
they are in fact doing the opposite - provoking civil war, hurting people,
perpetuating violence - they should withdraw as quickly as ships and
planes can carry them home. It is four years since the United States
invaded Iraq with a ferocious bombardment, with "shock and awe." That is
enough time to decide if the presence of our troops is making the lives of
the Iraqis better or worse. The evidence is overwhelming. Since the
invasion, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, and, according to the
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, about two million Iraqis have left the
country, and an almost equal number are internal refugees, forced out of
their homes, seeking shelter elsewhere in the country.

Yes, Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant. But his capture and death have
not made the lives of Iraqis better, as the U.S. occupation has created
chaos: no clean water, rising rates of hunger, 50 percent unemployment,
shortages of food, electricity, and fuel, a rise in child malnutrition and
infant deaths. Has the U.S. presence diminished violence? On the contrary,
by January 2007 the number of insurgent attacks has increased dramatically
to 180 a day.

The response of the Bush Administration to four years of failure is to
send more troops. To add more troops matches the definition of fanaticism:
If you find you're going in the wrong direction, redouble your speed. It
reminds me of the physician in Europe in the early nineteenth century who
decided that bloodletting would cure pneumonia. When that didn't work, he
concluded that not enough blood had been let.

The Congressional Democrats' proposal is to give more funds to the war,
and to set a timetable that will let the bloodletting go on for another
year or more. It is necessary, they say, to compromise, and some anti-war
people have been willing to go along. However, it is one thing to
compromise when you are immediately given part of what you are demanding,
if that can then be a springboard for getting more in the future. That is
the situation described in the recent movie The Wind That Shakes The
Barley, in which the Irish rebels against British rule are given a
compromise solution - to have part of Ireland free, as the Irish Free
State. In the movie, Irish brother fights against brother over whether to
accept this compromise. But at least the acceptance of that compromise,
however short of justice, created the Irish Free State. The withdrawal
timetable proposed by the Democrats gets nothing tangible, only a promise,
and leaves the fulfillment of that promise in the hands of the Bush
Administration. There have been similar dilemmas for the labor movement.
Indeed, it is a common occurrence that unions, fighting for a new
contract, must decide if they will accept an offer that gives them only
part of what they have demanded. It's always a difficult decision, but in
almost all cases, whether the compromise can be considered a victory or a
defeat, the workers have been given some thing palpable, improving their
condition to some degree. If they were offered only a promise of something
in the future, while continuing an unbearable situation in the present, it
would not be considered a compromise, but a sellout. A union leader who
said, "Take this, it's the best we can get" (which is what the MoveOn
people are saying about the Democrats' resolution) would be hooted off the
platform.

I am reminded of the situation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention
in Atlantic City, when the black delegation from Mississippi asked to be
seated, to represent the 40 percent black population of that state. They
were offered a "compromise" - two nonvoting seats. "This is the best we
can get," some black leaders said. The Mississippians, led by Fannie Lou
Hamer and Bob Moses, turned it down, and thus held on to their fighting
spirit, which later brought them what they had asked for. That mantra -
"the best we can get" - is a recipe for corruption.

It is not easy, in the corrupting atmosphere of Washington, D.C., to hold
on firmly to the truth, to resist the temptation of capitulation that
presents itself as compromise. A few manage to do so. I think of Barbara
Lee, the one person in the House of Representatives who, in the hysterical
atmosphere of the days following 9/11, voted against the resolution
authorizing Bush to invade Afghanistan. Today, she is one of the few who
refuse to fund the Iraq War, insist on a prompt end to the war, reject the
dishonesty of a false compromise.

Except for the rare few, like Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolsey,
and John Lewis, our representatives are politicians, and will surrender
their integrity, claiming to be "realistic." We are not politicians, but
citizens. We have no office to hold on to, only our consciences, which
insist on telling the truth. That, history suggests, is the most realistic
thing a citizen can do.

Howard Zinn is the author, most recently, of A Power Governments
Cannot Suppress.


--------10 of 15--------

End the War, Then Impeach
Democrats' Victory Means More Iraqi Deaths
By SUNSARA TAYLOR
CounterPunch
March 26, 2007

"House, 218 to 212, Votes to Set Date for Iraq Pullout" reads the New York
Times. "Democrats Tout Plan for Troop Pullout," headlines the Washington
Post. "Pelosi's Gamble on Iraq Pays Off," beams the Los Angeles Times. The
reader is to believe that the Democrats have "employ[ed] their new
Congressional majority to create the most forceful challenge yet to
President Bush's war policy."

Today's headlines are parroting the lies of pro-war politicians - AGAIN!

Today, the lying headlines borrow from the script of leading Democrats,
but are every bit as dangerous as the headlines that repeated George
Bush's claims four years ago that Iraq had WMDs.

Today's lying headlines are declaring a "victory" against George Bush's
murderous Iraq war and working to lull into satisfied passivity the people
who need to be raising their voices and raising hell right now more than
ever!

As Howard Zinn put it, "To me [this vote] is tantamount to the
abolitionists accepting a two-year timeline for ending slavery, while
giving more money to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act."

To everyone who was relying on or hoping that the Democrats would act to
end the war, the actions of the Democratic leadership are a sharp wake-up
call. Only the people in our millions, mobilized in massive and ongoing
resistance, can bring this war and this president's whole program to a
halt.

Buried is the real story of:

How Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emmanuel, Jack Murtha and other leading Democrats
maneuvered, bribed, threatened, reprimanded and bullied their party into
voting to continue the war on Iraq in the face of overwhelming,
widespread, deeply-felt, and growing public opposition.

How the new appropriations bill continues to fund Bush's wars to the tune
of $124 billion dollars - more than Bush even asked for!!

How the timetable for withdrawal from Iraq in the bill is so distant
(seventeen months away!) it can mean nothing to the people of Iraq whose
country is under the ruthless boot of U.S. occupation and is spiraling
down a path of sectarian civil war that grows worse by the day.

How this timetable is so conditional - insisting merely that Bush seek
the approval of Congress before extending the date by which troops are
supposed to be withdrawn - that it is easy to imagine that deadline
coming and going with no meaningful change in troop levels.

How the new bill - and the politicians who pushed it - put the onus for
Iraq's misery on the Iraqi people themselves, demanding they meet
benchmarks determined by the country that illegally invaded it! Closing
the arguments for the Democrats just before the vote, Representative
Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, asked, "When are these Iraqis going to
come off the sidelines and fight for their own country?"

And barely mentioned in today's lying headlines is the fact that liberal
Democrats had originally proposed an appropriations amendment that would
only have provided enough funds to bring the troops back from Iraq and
that this wasn't even allowed by leading Democrats to make it out of the
committee to be considered by Congress.

Finally, who could ignore Bush's brazen promise to veto this new bill
anyhow and the Democrats know they don't have enough votes to override
him?

In the words of White House spokesman, Tony Snow, "You've got to ask
yourself, why go through this long, drawn out exercise of going and
wheeling and cajoling and trying to buy votes within your own party when,
in fact, you know its not going to go anywhere?"

Anyway you slice it, yesterday's vote is no "victory" for the people of
this country, of Iraq, or of the world, all of whom overwhelmingly oppose
the Iraq war and are aching for it to be stopped. Instead it means that
after four years of war crimes, massacres, rapes, torture and what can
only be called a colonial occupation that has cost more than half a
million deaths and led to the fastest growing refugee crises in the world,
the Iraqi people must now brace themselves for more!

This is a moment that cries for clarity and boldness among those who are
able to see the stakes of this, actions and voices that can cut through
the lies about a "victory" that threaten to quiet and pacify the anti-war
movement right when it needs to be louder than ever before.

The war must be stopped! The War-Criminal-In-Chief must be impeached!

Self-deception or self-censorship about this right now will be paid for in
blood. But bold truth telling and defiant political actions will find a
wide and receptive audience in the anti-war majority. This majority has
begun to reemerge in the streets across the country, on the Pentagon, and
in recent student strikes. Whether this spreads like wildfire or is
dampened at this critical moment is up to all of us.

Sunsara Taylor writes for Revolution Newspaper and sits on the Advisory
Board of The World Can't Wait  Drive Out the Bush Regime. She can be
reached at: sunsarasworld [at] yahoo.com


--------11 of 15--------

Turncoats in the Peace Movement
The Democrats' War Funding Debacle
By JOHN V. WALSH
CounterPunch
March 26, 2007

"He who knows the enemy and himself will never in a hundred battles be at
risk." SunTzu.

Last Friday was potentially a sublime day for the cause of peace in the
House of Representatives. Under pressure from the peace movement and a
handful of antiwar legislators, Speaker Nancy Pelosi had inserted a few
poison pills into the supplemental for war funding - in the form of
restrictions and deadlines for the war. However these dollops of poison
had many antidotes in the form of the numerous loopholes provided to Bush.
And so it was basically a bill to make the Democrats look good without
terminating the war. In this way the Democrats could satisfy their real
constituencies, AIPAC and other pro-war forces, while posturing for peace.
Look good to the people, bash Bush and satisfy the real constituency. This
was the plan.

As predicted, the phony poison pills were not acceptable to the stubborn
pro-war Representatives and to the champions of a "Unitary" Executive,
that is an emperor. They vowed to vote it down. That was the moment of
sweetness. If but a handful, literally, of the "anti-war" Democrats voted
against the bill, there would be no war funding. A crisis would be
precipitated and a real debate over the war would have to begin in the
Congress. It was a moment when all the talk about using an opponent's
weakness against him, political jujutsu, the oft-cited skill of the
"insiders," could be realized. It was a moment when "progressive"
Democrats were in the driver's seat. But in the end it was a moment of
betrayal by virtually all the Democrats who have posed for so long as
voices of peace. The bill passed, and funding for the war has been
provided by the Democrats once more. (The vote was 218 for funding and 212
against funding so a mere four votes (yes, 4!) could have defeated the
funding.)

There were only ten "heroes" in the entire House who voted against the
supplemental on the basis of opposing the war. They were:
Libertarian/Republican Ron Paul; Democrats Dennis Kucinich, John Lewis,
Barbara Lee, Mike McNulty, Mike Michaud, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, Lynn
Woolsey; and Republican John Duncan. So that is about it there are only
ten who will desert the War Parties when push comes to shove.

Here in my home state of MA, things were especially grim on that day. Not
a single member of "our anti-war" Congressional delegation voted against
the supplemental! This despite the fact the sentiment here for peace is
very strong, an atmosphere bestowed upon "our" congressmen by the hard
work of the peace movement over the decades. Especially instructive is the
case of Congressman Jim McGovern who has railed against funding the war
and put his own Iraq withdrawal resolution before the House to much
fanfare. That resolution is all very nice; it makes McGovern look good,
perhaps allows him to salve his conscience a bit and most importantly
permits the Dems to say that they harbor peaceniks in their ranks. But in
Friday's roll call McGovern's vote was needed and the time for meaningless
pleasantries was over. Jimmy McGovern toed the line. Here in MA the peace
movement has adopted an all carrot, no stick approach to "our" delegation.
The time for that is past. It is time to play hardball. It is earnestly to
be hoped that this lesson has been learned. We shall see.

And finally there is the nationwide peace movement. MoveOn, in a repeat
performance of its bogus polling ploy, claimed the "movement" was for
"Pelosi's" bill. Their push-pull poll was circulated on the floor of the
House at a crucial moment, convincing wavering Democrats (or more likely
providing them with cover) to vote for the war funding. (I can hear our
House solons crying out one day: "If I knew then about MoveOn what I know
now, I would have never voted for funding the war.") Too many others in
the "movement" (e.g., Council for a Livable World) and the "progressive"
blogosphere (e.g., the boss of Daily Kos) joined MoveOn in its exercise in
perfidy. But happily much of the peace movement stuck to its guns,
including United for Peace and Justice, Military Families Speak Out,
Veterans For Peace, Progressive Democrats of America, AfterDowningSt,
Voters For Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Cindy Sheehan, Michael
Moore, Code Pink and others. Those organizations and others like them
deserve our support; not a penny should go to the MoveOn's of the world.

Every decent experiment in science brings a bit more clarity. And every
significant struggle in politics does the same, as someone or other is
sure to have said. In each case the insights are precious and we ought not
waste them. We have learned a bit more about our enemy and, hopefully,
about our own strategies.

John V. Walsh can be contacted at www.FilibusterForPeace.org.



--------12 of 15--------

Americans Face A Moral Reckoning
by James Carroll
Published on Monday, March 26, 2007 by The Boston Globe

YOU HAVE been reading "The Sorrow of War" by Bao Ninh, the classic account
of what in Vietnam is called the American war. The title of Bao Ninh's
novel captures the feeling of grief and loss that always comes in the wake
of violent conflict. Allowing room for fear, grief, and loss must define
the dominant experience in Iraq today, where the suffering caused by this
American war mounts inexorably.

But sorrow has also emerged as a note of life in the Unites States lately.
Many comparisons are drawn between this nation's misadventures in Iraq and
Vietnam, but what you are most aware of is the return of a clenched
feeling in your chest, a knot of distressed sadness that is tied to your
country's reiteration of the tragic error. After the chaotic end of the
Vietnam War in 1975, you were like many Americans in thinking with relief
that the nation would never know - or cause - such sorrow again.

The sorrow is back. Everywhere you go, friends greet one another with a
choked acknowledgment of a nearly unspeakable frustration at what unfolds
in Iraq. This seems true whether people oppose the war absolutely, or only
on pragmatic terms; whether they want US troops out at once, or over time.
Even about those distinctions, little remains to be said. Bush's
contemptuous carelessness, his inner circle's corrupt enabling, the
Pentagon's dependable launching of folly after folly, the Democrats'
ineffectual kibitzing, even your heartfelt concern for the troops - these
subjects have exhausted themselves. The "surge" of the January escalation
was preceded by the surge of public anguish that resulted in Republican
losses in November. That election was a stirring rejection of the
administration's purposes in Iraq, a rejection promptly seconded by the
Iraq Study Group. But so what? Bush's purposes hold steady, and their
poison tide now laps at Iran.

Why should you not be demoralized and depressed? But the sorrow of war
goes deeper than the mistaken policies of a stubborn president. Next to
Bao Ninh's book on your shelf stands "The Sorrows of Empire" by Chalmers
Johnson. That title suggests how far into the bone of your nation the pins
of this problem are sunk. In effect, the disastrous American war in Iraq
is the text, while America's militarized way of being in the world is the
context. Armed power at the service of US economic sway has made a
putative enemy of a vast population around the globe, and that enemy's
vanguard are the terrorists. Violent opposition to the American agenda
increases with each surge from Washington, whatever its character. Both
text and context reveal that every dream of empire brings sorrow,
obviously so to the victims of imperial violence, but also to the imperial
dreamers, whether or not they consciously associate with what is being
done in their name.

But the word sorrow implies more than grief and loss. The palpable sadness
of a people reluctantly at war can push toward a fuller moral reckoning
with the condition of a nation that has made its own economic supremacy an
absolute value. To take on the question of an economy advanced with little
regard for its sustainability, much less for its justice, implies a move
away from the focus on Bush's venality to a broader responsibility. How do
the sorrows of war and empire implicate you?

The simplest truth is that the economic system that so benefits you is
steadily eroding democracy by transferring the power to shape the future,
both within states and among them, to ever smaller elites. At the same
time, wealth multiplies and concentrates itself, while impoverishing more
and more human beings. Everything from US oil consumption, to global trade
structures, to the iron law of cheap labor, to immigration policies, to
the psychology of the gated community, to the gated idea of national
sovereignty, to the distractions of celebrity culture - all of this
supports what is called the American way of life. Yours. If finally seen
to be the source of multiple sorrows at home and abroad, can this way of
life prompt a deeper confrontation with its true costs and consequences?
You need not reduce social ills to personal morality - or let Bush off the
hook for his wholly owned war - to acknowledge the complicity attached to
mere citizenship in a war-making, imperial nation. In that case, can you
measure your sorrow against the word's other meaning, which is contrition?

James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe.
Copyright 2007 The Boston Globe


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Yosserian, Where Are You When We Need You?
A Plague of Big Shots
By BILL HATCH
CounterPunch
March 26, 2007

Big Shots are found everywhere in American society. So, viewing them from
the San Joaquin Valley of California, once a great agricultural area now
mindlessly converting itself as fast as violation of environmental law and
regulation and common sense permits to another Western slurb, is as good a
place as any to observe Big Shots.

American society is plagued with Big Shots, people that have gotten to
some position of power through an excess of aggression, which they use to
bully others. The rest of us all too often take the bullying in stride,
hoping for a better day or, under the relentless onslaught, cave and grow
permanently afraid.

All Big Shots have some self-righteous ideology, fundamentalism or
doctrine to shout down at the rest of us from their positions, just a
little above us one way or another.

The self-justification can be anything from "good work habits" to "the war
against global terrorism." All of it is a smoke screen for big-mouthed
little cowards playing authoritarian games, throughout the sick
institutional structure of this nation from the orchard and tomato field
to the packing shed to the city council to the school to the development
corporation and the oil company to the White House.

We sit and read and hope somehow the "We the People" of the high-school
texts will miraculously manifest that mythical unity We are said to
possess to get the Big Shots off our backs, without risking anything. But,
there is too much power, too much money floating around America, too many
weapons in obedient hands and way too little human dignity left to stop
this imperial cannibalism that is devouring millions of people in our
imperial way, the toll rising, unabated by weak political resistance
within the empire's "homeland."

Americans now confuse order and government in the "homeland" with bullying
and being bullied. We elect a majority of Democrats in Congress to stop
the war and their "leadership" blows us off in favor of the military
contractors, the oil companies and the Israel lobby. But, will the public
stand up to them? Call them by their name: hypocrites, sanctimonious
bribe-takers, hacks and buffoons? Sue them? Prosecute them? Call their
propaganda by its name?

America is a frightened, ruthless, unjust and ugly society full of denial
and a guilt growing too large to measure, let alone accept. More than
600,000 Iraqis are dead because of a 30-year political "vacation" taken by
the citizens of the USA, culminating in this atrocity. Our health care
system is broken because America does not care about its people's health.
Top American political leadership is sociopathic because it serves at the
pleasure of transnational corporations with no commitment to anything but
their profits and the destruction of government regulation rather than the
people and law. But the people are too besotted with corporate propaganda
to know their rights, their interests and how to defend either. Yet, the
US is losing "the war against terrorism" for the same reason it long ago
lost the "war on drugs": the Big Shots are too corrupt to win a war or
stop the carnage of this one. Or rebuild New Orleans. Or save our
environment. Or even put a dent in global warming.

Big Shots dominate our federal, state and local legislatures and our media
corporations. The political situation in America is, in fact, much more
critical than most Americans can imagine. There are entire institutions,
vital to a functional society that have dropped off the map of the
civilized world because they have been so rotted out by the greed of
special interests, bribery and corruption. A small example, that will be
familiar only to the very few remaining candid souls living in rural
America, will be this year's Farm Bill, which will demonstrate again that
the Department of Agriculture is so corrupt it cannot identify national
interest or even farmers' interests. Likewise with the Food and Drug
Agency, that has made unwitting guinea pigs of the entire American society
and any foreign markets for our crops too stupid or oppressed to avoid it
for the free, unregulated experimentation of the health effects of
genetically modified organisms. Resource agencies charged with enforcing
environmental law and regulation are daily corrupted by development
corporations. Agency-by-agency, institution-by-institution, where can we
find one that is working for the People? As glad as we may be made by
tidings of churches, with congregations 10,000 strong, doing incredible
feats of community outreach and care, can they replace a government that
is supposed to serve 300 million people and is not supposed to be owned by
transnational corporations?

American universities promote those character traits of sycophantic
aggression prized by the corrupt corporate power elites that fund research
for private profit rather than public benefit. High school dropouts,
unlike the PhDs that staff the nation's national laboratories, are not
recorded to have produced American weapons of mass destruction that menace
the world. These weapons aren't the products of education; they are from
its simulacrum, the university/corporate technology/military complex. To
these must be added the "independent experts" whose regular gigs are at
the brothel think tanks.

As ever, on the cutting edge of military technology, the Pentagon now
conducts war by hurling immeasurable (at least by its accounting) tons of
pork at the enemy, possibly hoping to crush him under the sheer weight ham
and bacon. While the Pentagon appears to have crushed our side, the
insurgents have long ago gone on to their own civil war.

I mention Big Shots only because there might be lingering in the American
collective unconscious - that immense psychic ocean of all that is
suppressed and ignored - some residual folk memory of resentment against
Big Shots. Perhaps a residual sense of the political taste that caused
people to fight to the death against the British so many years ago.
However, it is probable that Americans, after 30 years of corporate
propaganda, have been so overwhelmingly persuaded of their unique
brilliance, success and that Beautiful Freedom we all enjoy, that they all
conceive of themselves as Big Shots, entitled citizens, above the masses.
In our area, the masses are imagined by our fictitious Big Shots to be
foreigners, Mexicans and Asians and such. Casual observation suggests,
however, that when Americans, convinced of their Big Shot status, are
muscled by the equally convinced, the former group - rather than getting
down to political realities - tends instead to develop a severe case of
the vapors. "How dare they!" etc. Generally, their croquet balls are
carefully aimed and demurely stroked at a non-lethal local official, in no
position to help or to harm, simply one more minor Big Shot on his or her
way up or down the ladder to Big Shot Heaven. Missing the target amounts
to an alliance with one's own gravedigger, but if one doesn't know that,
there is not point in bringing it up.

"Use it or lose it," voter registrars used to mutter in front of
supermarket doors at the feckless passers-by. They didn't use it and they
did lose it. Everyman the Big Shot, on his way into WalMart, was above
mere voting.

The proper American hero of today is Yossarian, the terrified WWII
bombardier of Catch-22. When you tell the truth to power, power will fire
back. Yossarian wasn't crazy. Fighting fascism is dangerous work. But,
having allowed this unaccountable, authoritarian power to take root on the
ground, it must be defeated even though it fights back. That would take
courage and spirit, and probably fewer vacations. But, of course, Catch-22
was just a funny novel written 50 years ago, which said some rather
off-message things about the "greatest generation."

Our local McClatchy Chain corporate outlet is a Big Shot with barrels of
ink that is never off-message. The Chain is part of the immense
advertising/public relations empire in charge of controlling our taste,
distorting all issues with one aim the destruction of a truly public
perspective in favor of the very private, "special" perspective of the
private profits of their paymasters and their social equals in the Club de
Big Shots. In the San Joaquin Valley, the McClatchy Chain relentlessly
attacks the San Joaquin River Settlement Agreement, reached between local,
state and national environmental groups and farmers and local, state and
federal water agencies. The idea of accord between agriculture and
environmental groups is an abomination to McClatchy advertisers -
principally real estate development, finance and insurance - and they
cannot allow this agreement to live, which would put Sierra snow melt back
into the state's second-longest river all the way to the Delta. To this
destructive end, the Chain has taken to quoting every inane utterance of
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, a bullyboy for corporate agribusiness
welfare. The Big Shots the Chain does not name, who are bankrolling Nunes'
attack on the settlement, are smoother and worse.

The Big Shots intend to protect their power and their wealth. That's all
they have to say now, and all they ever had to say, millions of barrels of
ink ago. Where's the "Progress"? What did agribusiness, built on federal
water, crop subsidies and low wages, really accomplish? Where is the
quality in those islands of wealth surrounded by poverty and economic
anxiety? What was the ideal served? Where is the happiness?

Do we live to buy what we don't need to keep corporate CEOs in the style
to which they have become accustomed, averaging 300 times higher
compensation than the median income of their employees? Do we live for the
fame of having invaded and destroyed already crippled nations to plunder
their resources? Do we live to support and applaud or suffer in fearful
silence the fraud and corruption of predatory plutocrats? Were we born to
become the generation that forgot the difference between news and
advertising? Is our purpose in life here in the San Joaquin Valley and
elsewhere to stand at attention and sing hymns of praise to the destroyers
of the Public Trust and the builders of grotesque slurbs just because Big
Shots have the "freedom" to do it?

Is this nation's destiny freedom for Big Shots and the shaft for the rest
of us?

"Of course not, of course not," I hear you saying.

I end in communion with the great Dodge City lawman, Bat Masterson, who
went on to a distinguished career as a New York City sports writer. He
wrote:

"There are many in this old world of ours who hold that things break about
even for all of us. I have observed, for example, that we all get the same
amount of ice. The rich get it in the summertime and the poor get it in
the winter."

Bill Hatch can be reached at: wmmhatch [at] sbcglobal.net


--------14 of 15--------

Bush's Latin Reality Show
by Carl Bloice
March 26, 2007
Black Commentator

One thing had to dawn on Bush while on a recent seven-day, five country
Latin American tour: the Monroe Doctrine is deader than a doorknob.

Unilaterally proclaimed by the U.S. in the 19th Century, ostensibly to
keep European competitors out, the doctrine secured domination of the
lands to the south - frequently guaranteed by armed intervention and U.S.
instigated coups - until recently. Now, it is apparent that not only is
that big brother relationship no longer tenable but that the U.S. is
rapidly losing any influence at all in the region.

If public opinion polls are an indication, Washington has scant influence
there or respect at all. Much can be ascribed directly to the Bush
Presidency and his Administration's actions, most especially the war in
Iraq and its policies in the Middle East as a whole. Further, the "market
friendly" neo-liberal economic policies foisted off on Latin America
countries for decades under the rubric "Washington consensus" - weakening
social service programs, privatization, removal of restrictions on foreign
investment and free reign for "market forces" as against planned
development strategy - have failed to live up to their hype. A lot more
wealth has been going out of the region than what's coming in and what is
being returned from the "market" or foreign investment all too often flows
into the pockets of formerly entrenched elites, while economic disparities
increase.

Throughout the region, at a historically breathtaking pace, the peoples in
the south of the Western Hemisphere are electing new leaders and rejecting
the economic policies that have been foisted off on them by the colossus
to the north, in collusion with local elites.

Writing in the New York Times March 17, novelist Luisa Valenzuela observed
that for the Latin Americans, "The dream of a single-currency Latin
American Union, modeled on the European Union, to create, insofar as
possible, a buffer against the hegemony of the United States no longer
seems so impossible." At a moment when the Latin Americans are rejecting
the economic dictates from institutions like the U.S.-dominated
International Monetary Fund, moving across the board for economic
independence and regional cooperation, the Bush Administration has
apparently decided to push in the opposite direction. The continent's two
largest countries, Brazil and Argentina don't want bilateral "free trade"
agreements with Washington. Former CIA operative Philip Agee described the
Bush tour as "a mission to lure five countries away from regional economic
integration." Valenzuela observed that "in Uruguay, all Mr. Bush seemed to
be trying to do was irritate the other governments of South America by
promoting a Free Trade Area of the Americas project in opposition to
Mercosur, the southern common market formed in 1991 by Brazil, Argentina,
Paraguay, Uruguay and, somewhat later, Venezuela."

Furthermore, the White House can hang up any thought of trying to dictate
or shape the politics of the region - like trying to "isolate" Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez. Such maneuvers simply won't fly. While Brazilian
President Lula da Silva will meet the U.S. President at Camp David later
this month, he has a state visit to Caracas slated for next month.
Argentine President Kirchner made it clear to the U.S. President that he
has no intention of joining the anti-Chavez campaign. To add insult to
injury, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, openly broke with the policy of
his predecessor and fellow PAN party member Vicente Fox and opted out of
the anti-Chavez drive. For all the talk about the differences between
various Latin American leaders - and they do exist - nearly all seem to
agree on one thing: no more dictates from el Norte.

Much is being made of the political differences among the various new
leaders in Latin America. It would be news if there were no differences.
However, the effort to picture the continent as divided between a group of
"moderate" governments on one hand and "radicals" on the other, widely
misses the mark, especially as it is usually delineated, on the basis of
attitudes toward Washington. There is significant spread in the
ideological and political approaches amongst the new Latin American
leadership; that, too, is reflection of the new independence and it should
be obvious by now that efforts to drive a wedge between two alleged camps
is futile. The direction of history is clear and it is being driven, to a
large extent, not be personalities but by vibrant social movements from
below.

On March 12, the Organization of American States held a meeting on the
"Impact of poverty," to consider "the role poverty plays in eroding social
cohesion, leading to a lack of security and an increasingly vulnerable
state." What the conferees came up with went unmentioned in the media but
three days later the OAS press office reported that Secretary General Jos
Miguel Insulza told the delegates that "the persistence of inequality and
poverty represents one of the main challenges to development, democratic
governance and security in the hemisphere". "As a result", he said, "these
threats should be confronted with a new multidimensional perspective that
focuses on political, economic and social factors".

There are approximately 534 million people living in the Latin
American/Caribbean area. Of these, 132 million live on less than $2 a day,
and 57 million live on less than $1 a day. The region is also one of the
most unequal regions. According to the World Bank "the richest one-tenth
of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean earn 48 percent of
total income, while the poorest tenth earn only 1.6 percent".

According to economist Mark Weisbrot, Latin America's economic growth over
the last 25 years has been "a disaster - the worst long-term growth
failure in more than a hundred years", and "it is easy to see why
candidates promising new economic policies have been elected. In countries
"where the poor get only a few cents out of every new dollar, growth
bypasses the poorest," the New York Times observed editorially last May.
"Latin America is the world's most unequal region. That means growth will
not reduce poverty unless Latin American governments redirect it to the
poor." That's what the new governments - with the support of massive and
effective social, political and labor movements - are doing. There's been
quite a bit of success for the policies, most of which have faced
opposition from Washington.

On March 14, Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte derided Bush for failing
to contribute to development in poor countries, and hailed Chavez`
Venezuela as a country "with an overdose of democracy." "It cannot be
possible that the US Government does anything it pleases in much sensitive
areas such as waging wars, setting international prices, but at the same
time it does not have the strength to convince developed countries to
suppress protectionist barriers," Duarte said in a television interview.
He added that he would believe in Bush "when there is technology transfer,
when tariff barriers are lifted and when he stops treating our fellow
citizens in a miserable way when they try to travel to his country."

"What is the Mercosur regulation that is endangered because of Venezuela?"
asked Duarte. "Venezuela has an overdose of democracy, with one election
after the other. It is the only country where the Constitution provides
for a (presidential recall) referendum in the middle of the presidential
term."  The Chavez presidency, he said "is the result of the Venezuelan
historically corrupt leadership, and all leaderships are the fruit of
failed liberalism."

"When President Bush set out on his five-nation tour of Latin America on
Thursday March 8th he was hoping to obtain support for Washington's effort
to isolate Venezuela and tighten its stranglehold on Cuba", wrote Circles
Robinson from Havana for Prensa Latina. "However, once he touched down in
Brazil, and later Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico, it became
apparent that he is virtually alone on the issue. Instead, most of the
region wants to maintain or increase ties with Cuba and Venezuela."

Fidel Castro's active participation by telephone in a three-way meeting
with Venezuela's Chavez and Haiti's President Rene Preval on Tuesday
dramatically underscored this. "Fidel was very keen to make sure the
trilateral cooperation succeeds", Preval told a news conference. The three
countries agreed to $21 million dollars of funding from Venezuela to
extend medical programs carried out by Cuban doctors in rural Haiti.

When the Bush caravansary was announced, it was expected that he would
receive a warm and cooperative reception in the three capitals presided
over by right wing regimes: Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico. However, his
reception in the latter turned out to be one of the more tempestuous.
President Calderon not only slipped out of the anti-Chavez camp, he raised
sharp questions about things like the "Berlin wall" being erected on the
border with his country. He was rebuffed in his effort to delay
implementation of the section of the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) that will allow Mexico to be flooded with low cost,
U.S.-subsidized imported corn and beans which threaten to drive even more
small Mexican farmers into destitution.

In Colombia, there were anti-U.S. demonstrations in 20 cities and riot
police attacked protestors at Bogota's National University and several
were injured. In Guatemala, workers protested the recent round-up of some
300 immigrant workers in Massachusetts. President Oscar Berger, who raised
the matter in his welcoming speech, is reported to have pleaded with Bush
for clemency to avoid their deportation, but the suggestion was ignored.

Meanwhile, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez
noted that the Bush Administration has reduced resources available to
fight drug trafficking, because it has been concentrating in its war in
Iraq. In an address to the Regional Summit on Drugs, Security and
Cooperation he charged that that drug trafficking has increased in the
region as a result of Washington's neglect. Such uppity talk would have
been unthinkable only a few years ago.

It appears that the main consensus arriving out of the recent Davos
Switzerland conference of world capitalist movers and shakers was that 1).
the world economic situation is healthy and secure, however 2). political
threats are arising because globalization is producing economic inequities
on a world scale and demands are increasing for limits on "free trade",
arising from working people seeing most of the increased wealth they
create going into the pockets of the already rich. I guess little did they
suspect that a few weeks later a crisis in the U.S. home loan industry
would shake the first conclusion. Nonetheless, the poverty and inequities
remain and the consequences were obvious throughout Bush's Alice in
Wonderland trip through Latin America.

Bush didn't go south empty-handed. But his promises were relatively lame,
especially when measured against the benefits the region is reaping from
increased economic integration and mutual aid agreements, such as with
Venezuela and Cuba. According to the Financial Times, the much-touted
ethanol "green fuels" agreement with Brazil, involving contributions from
the two countries and major international banks amounts to only $25
million. Latin American commentators are openly deriding the U.S.
healthcare initiative which will involve a U.S. Naval ship calling at the
ports of 11 countries.

One of the gifts the U.S. President had in this satchel as he embarked on
tour was the promise that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the
government agency that guarantees U.S. investment abroad, would increase
funding for cheap mortgages for the working people of the region. A
Brazilian newspaper editorial denounced the move as "mean,"
"anachronistic" and "totally out of touch". But it would appear to have a
logical reason, albeit a neo-colonial one.

On March 14, Europe's largest bank, HSBC Holdings Plc, already smarting
painfully from its involvement with the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis,
announced it still plans to increase lending to high-risk borrowers in
Latin America. Sandy Flockhart, HSBCs president for Latin America, said
the London-based company will offer credit cards and other loans to even
more individuals with no borrowing history as part of a plan to produce a
greater share of its revenue in the region. According to the Mexican
newspaper El Universal, the largest banks in Mexico, including
subsidiaries of HSBC, Citigroup Inc. and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria
SA, "are turning to riskier customers for growth after focusing on the
smaller, wealthier parts of the population since 2003". Competition in the
Mexican subprime market "is heating up, now that the government has
authorized the local unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other smaller
retailers to enter the consumer banking business", said the paper. Oh, my
God.

The Mo'Kelly Report, called the Bush tour "a bad, traveling reality TV
show in which Dubya and "Democracy" are the co-stars". "The Bush
administration is pitching this new program and the world simply isn't
buying or willing to tune in", the blogger wrote.

BC Editorial Board member Carl Bloice is a writer in San Francisco, a
member of the National Coordinating Committee of the Committees of
Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and formerly worked for a
healthcare union.


--------15 of 15--------

 The rich can't afford
 the luxury of being
 moral, just, or good.


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