|Progressive Calendar 05.26.07||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sat, 26 May 2007 22:53:55 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 05.26.07 1. Stillwater vigil 5.27 1pm 2. "Welcome" RNC 5.27 1pm 3. KFAI/Indian 5.27 4pm 4. Amnesty Intl 5.28 7pm 5. Climate crisis 5.28 7:30pm 6. Jonathan Feldman - Congress and the Iraq War vote 7. Dave Lindorff - Democratic blood money: spend it well 8. Missy Beattie - Congress plays dead: the worst in history 9. Mike Whitney - Swan song of the Democrats 10. David Vest - So you thought they'd end the war 11. John Stauber - Whitewashing a sell out 12. Matthew Rothschild - Feingold, Kucinich denounce the Democratic cave 13. Frank B Ford - Philosophy for idiot (poem) --------1 of 13-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Stillwater vigil 5.27 1pm A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2 p.m. Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be positive. Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers. If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it. Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to <http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/ For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560 --------2 of 13-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] HOTMAIL.COM> Subject: "Welcome" RNC 5.27 1pm Sunday, 5/27, 1 pm, anti-authoritarian Republican National Convention Welcoming Committee open meeting, Jack Pine Community Center, 2815 E Lake St, Mpls. www.nornc.org --------3 of 13-------- From: Chris Spotted Eagle <chris [at] spottedeagle.org> Subject: KFAI/Indian 5.27 4pm KFAI's Indian Uprising for May 27, 2007 #215 Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in the service of the nation (USA). After World War I the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war. Question: Does this include the wars against Indigenous people too? - ed. Music (Uprising) from [SILENCE] IS A WEAPON BLACKFIRE, a double CD album, published by Tacoho Productions, www.blackfire.net. Blackfire is a Dine¹ (Navajo) trio of siblings Jeneda, Klee & Clayson Benally. The have been awarded the Native American Music Awards ³Group of the Year² for their 2003 ³Woody Guthrie Singles² recording, and ³Best Pop/Rock Album for their 2001 full length release, ³One Nation Under.² Disk one features Blackfire's unique brand of label defying high energy-social political music which has been called, "Fireball Punk-Rock" by the late godfather of punk Joey Ramone. Their songs are filled with passion and awareness of environmental & social justice issues. Disk two comprises a special selection of traditional Dine' (Navajo) songs. The trio is touring through Europe and North America for three months. Music (Crazy Horse) from the CD, "BONE DAYS" by John Trudell (Santee Sioux), spoken word artist, www.johntrudell.com, ASITIS Productions. "Crazy Horse - We hear what you say - Too many people - Standing their ground - Standing the wrong ground - Predators face he possessed a race - Possession a war that doesn't end - Children of god feed on children of earth - Days people don't care for people - These days are the hardest - Material fields material harvest - Decoration on chain that binds - Mirrors gold the people lose their minds." Note: Crazy Horse (Lakota: T¹asunka Witko (ca. 1840 killed Sept. 5, 1877) was a respected war leader of Oglala Lakota, who fought against the U.S. federal government in an effort to preserve the traditions and values of the Lakota way of life. * * * * Indian Uprising a one-half hour Public & Cultural Affairs program is for and by Indigenous People broadcast each Sunday at 4:00 p.m. over KFAI 90.3 FM Minneapolis and 106.7 FM St. Paul. Producer and host is volunteer Chris Spotted Eagle. KFAI Fresh Air Radio is located at 1808 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis MN 55454, 612-341-3144. www.kfai.org http://www.kfai.org <http://www.kfai.org> KFAI's website's "Program Archives² of current programs are available for two weeks. Programs can also be heard via KFAI's "live streaming" using RealAudio or MP3. Go to www.kfai.org and click "KFAI Live Streams." --------4 of 13-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 5.28 7pm There are several local Amnesty International groups in the Twin Cities area. All of them are welcoming and would love to see interested people get involved -- find the one that best fits your schedule or location: Augustana Homes Seniors Group meets on Monday, May 28th, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the party room of the 1020 Building, 1020 E 17th Street, Minneapolis. For more information contact Ardes Johnson at 612/378-1166 or johns779 [at] tc.umn.edu. --------5 of 13-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Climate crisis 5.28 7:30pm Regular meeting of the Climate Crisis Coalition of the Twin Cities (3CTC). EVERY 2nd and 4th Monday at 7:30 pm. The Freight House Dunn Brothers, 201 3rd Ave S, next door to the Milwaukee Road Depot, Downtown Minneapolis. Stop global warming, save Earth! In solidarity w/people and the planet, Eric 651-644-1173 --------6 of 13-------- A Scandal That Began in the 1940s Congress and the Iraq War Vote By JONATHAN M. FELDMAN CounterPunch May 26 / 27, 2007 According to public choice theory, citizens exercise leverage over their government by using the vote as a major tool. This theory discounts the weight of corporate media power in influencing citizen consciousness, Votergate scandals which amount to stolen elections, or elected leaders who fail to respond to voter choices. But the vote can still be powerful, particularly when parties feel the need to be accountable to public choices. The power of the vote has been diluted by: (a) the present duopoly of power (Republicrats), (b) the kind of Orwellian patriotism that "protects" troops by sending them on impossible missions; and (c) the fossilized violence of Bush electoral victories based on theft (2000) and fear (2004). The Democrats' failure to stop Bush represents an important civics lesson. Voting is reduced to a diffused signaling system (rather than a means of power) when political parties are owned or limited by corporate and Pentagon power. Thus, those suggesting that the cave in to Bush is a scandal are in denial. The scandal has been in the making for decades. It dates from the postwar permanent war economy which the most responsible historians know began during World War II. At that point, various constituencies weaned on war money (from defense contractors, to industrial unions and university scientists) decided that defense addiction was a worthwhile bargain. If we are to reclaim our government, we must return to the very idea of what a state is. As Thomas Paine remarked in Rights of Man, "government is nothing more than a national association acting on the principles of society." In other words, the American Revolution created an accountability system linked to yeoman farmers, among others, in which the machinery of the government, linked to the association of people, created accountability. This accountability was renewed during key points in U.S. history, like during the Populist Movement, the 1930s, and the New Left. The Three Filters: Foundations, Established Media and Status Quo Democrats Why can't contemporary movements similarly promote accountability? One could point to the growing power of mega-transnational corporations and politicians who increasingly resemble commodities. Yet, the independent character of social movements and social change organizations is itself increasingly compromised. The ability of citizens' to accumulate economic, media and political capital is blocked by various filtering systems. Today's social movements, often serialized and atomized by professionalism and deal making with established foundations, corporate media and entrenched political parties, dilute their ability to support popular will. Power is diluted by exchanges and deals because the contemporary social movement (very much like the Democratic Party itself) can not generate its own capital or power accumulation system. Economic capital often comes from a check written for a 501C3 organization by an established foundation or wealthy patron with limited political horizons. Media capital is similarly accessed by fitting into the established frames, with the dominant paradigm being intellectual Taylorism, i.e. the political dots of environmental decay, militarism and the sabotage of democracy remain unconnected. Political capital also comes by making deals with established Congressional leaders, particularly status quo Democrats, who take complicated realities and atomize them into committee perogratives and assignments. As a result, the multifaceted military society is treated as a "defense issue," not an opportunity cost against equitable economic development, environmental renewal, the expansion of social services and even a sensible civilian-based industrial policy. As Marcus Raskin noted in Being and Doing, the average citizen is subjected to various forms of "colonization." What is to Be Done?: From Political Amnesia to Democratic Fundamentals The Internet promises a direct way to sidestep political leaders and potentially allows citizens to accumulate economic, media and political capital directly. Problem is the Internet is not an ideology or even a political philosophy. This form is not necessarily married to any specific radical or even democratic content. Instead, it can be used by Right, Left and Center. It is in fact now being used to support presidential campaigns that often seem more diversionary than enlightening. In any case, the very knowledge of the design of democratic forms is increasingly becoming obsolete, much like the depleted skills of various machinists, craft workers and artisans we sometimes read about in the business pages. Those outraged by Congressional powerlessness have several options. First, the intellectuals might go back to democratic fundamentals. We could return to some fundamentalist thinkers like Thomas Jefferson, Paul Goodman, Henry Wallace, C. Wright Mills, Simone Weil, Hannah Arendt, W. E. Du Bois, Malcolm X or any number of thinkers who gave us some basic ideas about accountability structures and how to design and promote them. Unfortunately, these thinkers' ideas have become passe in the face of "identity politics," post-modernism, and a revisionist version of anarchism. Malcolm's ideas about the mosque as mobilization center, Du Bois endorsement of cooperatives, Goodman's ideas about radical media, Arendt's notions about local democratic action are lost to a social amnesia process. Instead of figuring out how to transcend the burdens of racism, sexism and exploitation, the power structures corresponding to these are simply deconstructed. The alternatives require reconstruction, but that is not on many intellectuals' agenda. Second, political organizers who are not in despair might try to figure out how to form a bridge between the ideas of such forgotten intellectuals and the average citizen. Perhaps if local organizers developed sufficient computer skills in sufficient numbers, they could sidestep the colonization process created by "the three filters" and political amnesia. They could build their own means of raising money, organizing citizens, and helping to educate them about their choices. Third, visionary politicians of all political parties, foundations, journalists, intellectuals and activists - among others - ought to create "study circles," teach ins, town meetings and other kinds of democratic interventions. We need to begin a local process of renewing democracy from below. These strategies are a far cry from simply voting and attending mass street demonstrations - both representing another form of "the spectacle" that render citizens passive entities expected to follow the tracks of entrenched leaders and bankrupt policies. Finally, unaffiliated and under-organized citizens may be confused as to who or what to turn to. They are caught between various professionalized and co-opted cultures in established groups which often offer very little sense of hope. In contrast, the Democratic Party's failures represent is part of an ongoing legitimacy crisis confronting the U.S. state. Democratic political entrepreneurs should exploit this crisis and rebuild U.S. democracy before it's too late. Jonathan M. Feldman is a lecturer at Stockholm University and part of the network, www.economicreconstruction.com. He is author of a forthcoming article in Social Text, "From Warfare State to 'Shadow State': Militarism, Economic Depletion and Reconstruction." --------7 of 13-------- Spend It Well Democratic Blood Money By DAVE LINDORFF CounterPunch May 26 / 27, 2007 The Democrats, fresh from selling out the soldiers and marines in Iraq by handing the mad George Bush $120 billion to continue funding his war, are claiming victory. Oh, they can't hide the fact that they gave up on the war issue. But they're quick to brag that they won a big one by cleverly including in the war funding supplemental bill a hike in the minimum wage, bringing the federal rate from the current $5.15/hour to $7.25. But America's long-suffering working poor better hold the champagne. This bold stroke on their behalf by Congressional Democrats won't happen right away. Although America's lowest paid workers have been slaving away at $5.15 an hour since last September 1, they won't get the first part of the new pay increase until the end of this summer, when it will go up a whopping 13 percent to $5.85 per hour (to put that in perspective, that's $28/week more, less taxes, for someone working a 40-hour week). They'll have to wait until around this time next year before they get another boost to $6.55 an hour, and they won't get that full $7.25 an hour that the Democrats are hooting about until 2009. And remember, we're talking about blood money here. This was a raise paid for in the blood of American servicepeople, and the blood of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, many of them innocent children. Besides, that whole raise of 40 percent over two years will actually look a whole lot less by the time they get it, thanks to the actions of Bush and the Democratic Congress. Figure that the Iraq War, which is costing the nation, at this point, over $300 billion a year in cold cash, and probably double that if you factor in the credit on the debt (the whole thing is being paid for on credit), is a major reason the dollar is sinking against major currencies. That means higher prices for most imported goods, which means just about everything that working stiffs have to buy. It also means higher than necessary interest rates, because keeping interest rates high relative to other countries is the only way the U.S. has left to keep the dollar from crashing totally to the level of a third world currency. Those higher interest rates mean higher mortgage costs and higher credit card interest payments to working people. And don't forget gas prices. The oil companies will tell you that the doubling of gas prices since Bush took office is all a matter of "market forces," but the truth is it's mostly been the war and threats to Middle East supplies that have bid up the per-barrel price and allowed the gouging to happen. So netting it all out, it's likely that the higher minimum wage the Democrats just bought at the price of giving Bush his war money will simply vanish by the time people get it. Besides, the federal minimum wage increase is much less of a deal than it might even appear, since many states have already raised the minimum wage for their workers. In California, workers earn at least $7.50/hour, and that goes to $8.00/hour next January. In New York, the minimum wage is $7.15. It's also $7.15/hour in Alaska, and will be on July 1 in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Illinois workers, currently earning $6.95/hour, will see their minimum go to $7.50 on July 1. Many other states have minimum wages close to or above $7.00/hour already. Some deal those Democrats made with Bush! Boy, they really stood tough with a president who was bargaining from a 28 percent approval rating in the polls. Kind of makes you proud you voted them into control of Congress last November doesn't it? Spend it well! Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can't be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff's newest book is "The Case for Impeachment", co-authored by Barbara Olshansky. He can be reached at: dlindorff [at] yahoo.com --------8 of 13-------- Congress Plays Dead The Worst in History By MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE CounterPunch May 26 / 27, 2007 According to Democratic Party leaders, the new Iraq funding bill, which is concession-as-usual to the worst president in the history of our country, is a "temporary setback." Ninety U.S. troops have died in the last 25 days. Almost 1,500 Iraqi civilians have been killed in May. "We regret to inform you that your child, your soldier child, has been killed because of a temporary setback." The worst president in the history of this democracy had vowed to veto legislation with restrictions on troop deployments, but he didn't have to. Because most of the people we've elected to represent us simply aren't. And those who aren't are covered with the blood of our military dead and wounded as well as the blood of so many Iraqis. The worst president in the history of this land of opportunity continues to talk "sacrifice" and, after having his way with Congress, made this statement: "We're going to expect heavy fighting." In other words, the death count will climb higher and higher and more of our young men and women will be blown to bits thousands of miles from home in a country whose people are also being blown to bits. Iraqis who have not yet been blown to bits perceive us as occupiers and believe that it is okay to blow our troops to bits. So, the worst president in the history of this former land of opportunity, a man who should be impeached for crimes against humanity, was able, again, to manipulate the worst Congress in the history of our country. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just said that Bush's Iraq plan is unraveling but Congress has proved that it, too, is in tatters. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell pontificated that Bush will show the way. Tragically, the president's way is a path into the shadow of death. The worst president in our history is a demonic war president. The worst Congress in our history is a war Congress. After the deadline-free bill was passed, Russ Feingold said: "We are moving backwards." He is wrong. We are wildly falling into an abyss of destruction because we have an egomaniacal head of state who is the worst president, a fascist who has betrayed all but his corporate cronies, and who is supported by the worst Congress. The United States of America has a life-threatening illness. Removing the worst president in the history of what has become George's personal kingdom, along with Vice Cheney, and every Congressman and woman who value oil and the profits of war over human life, must be the demand of each citizen. This is the requirement for redemption, if it's not too late. Because with each temporary setback, we have more numerous, permanent, fall-to-the-floor agony via the ringing of the doorbell by military messengers whose words change lives forever. And we incur the world's wrath for our imperialism, disregard for life, and hypocrisy. The worst president delivers another parcel of catastrophic policy, declarations, and religious dogma while he bubble wraps himself in denial. By declaring that history will judge him, Bush remains unaccountable and shows no responsibility to the voters who graded him a failure last November. But, then, the people don't matter anymore. George fires his rifle into the air and Congress plays dead. Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,'05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat [at] aol.com --------9 of 13-------- You Can't Stand on Principles When You're in Retreat Swan Song of the Democrats By MIKE WHITNEY CounterPunch May 26 / 27, 2007 The Democrats did us all a favor by giving Bush his Iraq war-money. After all, the Dems have supported the war from the get-go; so why not expose them as the hypocrites they really are? The truth is, no one is really surprised by Friday's vote. We have one party in America "the War Party" - the Dems are merely a junior partner in that system. It boggles the mind that so many so-called "liberals" continue to be hoodwinked by the Democratic Party. After all, what do they offer - a slight boost in the hourly wage? Better management of foreign massacres?!? But, what else? The Democrats are even giving ground on a women's "right to choose", which, up until now, had been their one defining issue. Now even that is eroding. So, what do the Democrats really stand for? This is not the party of F.D.R., my friend. This is the party of Bill Clinton, the Master of Triangulation. Clinton was nothing more than the flip-side of George Bush. The bombing of Belgrade was as big a crime as Shock and Awe - although it was cleverly masked behind Clinton's "Aw shucks" charm and the ever-compliant media. Clinton sold out the American worker by passing NAFTA. He dismantled the social safety net with his Welfare Reform. He destroyed the last vestiges of the free media by signing the Telecommunications Act. And he revealed his utter lack of principle by refusing to sign the Land Mines Treaty - a document that would have saved the lives of thousands of children every year. Smart guy - no principles. Clinton never did anything that wasn't politically calculated. Hell, he probably had his slide-rule out during his visits with Monica to figure out the exact amount of gratification he could have without feeling guilty. Sure, he was bright and good natured but, his critics are also right - he was utterly devoid of principle. And yet, this is the Democratic Party's "big hero"; a man who has become the shining example for the future leaders in the party. What a disaster! The Democratic Party is not the party that people think it is. This is the party of Rahm Emanuel and the DLC. The leadership is unwaveringly pro-war, pro Israel, and pro free trade. There's no room for anything else. The Democrats have no intention withdrawing from Iraq. That's just speculation on the part of blindly-optimistic voters who still believe that their voices will be heard. They won't be heard. The Democrats will NEVER get us out of Iraq. The real position of the Dems on Iraq is even MORE IMMORAL than the Republicans. They want to redeploy outside of the country while reducing the number of troops on the ground. In other words, they want to build a "sustainable" model for stealing the world's second largest petroleum reserves. It's a more discreet strategy than Bush's bloody "surge", but is any less immoral? It would be better for the country if the Democratic Party just called it quits and disbanded right now. (although, they appear to be doing a pretty good job of that already) The party is a bigger obstacle to progressive reform and systemic change than the Republicans. [Amen -ed] As long as the Dems continue to trick people into believing that they represent substantive change - or even a serious defense of their vital economic interests - the charade will persist and things will get worse. Real progressive reform should address the central issues facing, not only Americans, but the entire world - nuclear proliferation, global warming, peak oil, population growth, food supply and disease. Reform isn't even part of the Democrat's agenda. Like their Republican counterparts, they are primarily focused on enriching corporate donors, facilitating free trade, and chasing shadowy Islamic groups through Central Asia and the Middle East. Real reform would restore progressive taxation by reinstating the brackets that were used during the early 1950s; that is, everyone making over $200,000 per year ($1 million by today's standards) pays 93% of their earnings! Without a concerted effort to narrow the massive wealth gap through redistribution the country will continue along its present path to tyranny. Those who have benefited most from the security, infrastructure and prosperity provided by state should naturally pay more. That is the fundamental tenet of progressive taxation and it is essential if we want to strengthen the middle class and "raise all boats" (as the Republicans like to say) Besides, who's going to lose sleep over taxing the rich? A progressive platform should also include a plan to nationalize the oil industry. The record profits from oil production should be going into infrastructure, education and alternate fuels - not fattening the foreign banks accounts of obscenely rich oil moguls. In an age of resource scarcity, we cannot allow the market to decide who will get access to the energy that everyone needs to maintain minimal standards of comfort. We've already seen how big oil is willing to use our children as cannon fodder in their wars of aggression. We've also seen how they work tirelessly to confuse the public on crucial issues such as global warming by pumping millions of dollars into bogus science and misleading public relations campaigns. The oil industry operates without a conscience putting its bottom line above the very survival of the species. The best thing to do is "return the favor" by seizing the industry - Hugo Chavez style - and putting it to work for the people it is supposed to serve. If the oil executives still choose to continue the fight for Iraqi oil; we should provide them with sidearms and Kevlar vests and turn them lose in Baghdad. Let them fend for themselves - everyone else comes home. The country doesn't need two War Parties run by the same establishment elites. The present system is a fraud which marginalizes 95% of the American people and makes democracy impossible. What we need is a Labor Party that addresses the issues which are critical to working class people. Labor Party affiliation should be the equivalent of union membership - providing a clear statement of support for pensions, universal health care, maternity leave, yearly wage increases tied to productivity, profit sharing, collective bargaining rights and 50% representation on all corporate boards. The goal of a Labor Party should not merely be to live off the scraps from the corporate table, but to share political power in shaping the country's economic agenda. That's the only way that we can balance class-based interests and avoid unnecessary future conflicts. Anyone who thinks politics is just about "making money" is nuts. Political parties emerge to take power - and that should be the objective of Labor - raw political power. Nothing else will do. What's needed is a broad coalition of leftist organizations coalescing in a party that represents the objectives of working people. Labor needs a voice in government and the Democrats are not that voice. By capitulating to Bush, the Democratic Party has cut the ground out from beneath itself and hastened its own demise. Good riddance. Now, let's push the rusty hulk out of the road and go forward. Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney [at] msn.com --------10 of 13-------- "I Don't Understand These People!" So You Thought They'd End the War By DAVID VEST May 25, 2007 Welcome to the Show, kid. The Democrats have "surrendered" on Iraq. Liberals are "shocked." And all the innocents who didn't know any better, didn't see it coming, feel "betrayed." Poor Duncan Black, better known as "Atrios," is nearly at a loss for words: "People hate Bush, hate Republicans, and hate this war," he protests, and yet the Democrats caved! "I don't understand these people," he wails. Precisely. Keith Olbermann, using the same tone of humorless, near-postal anger he uses in every commentary, no matter the topic, calls the Democratic rollover a "Neville Chamberlain moment." I prefer to think of it as a teachable moment. At a time when even conservatives have come to loathe Bush, when people who thought he was going to round up all the "illegal aliens" and deport them are so upset, they think impeachment's too good for him, the Democrats labor to craft legislation "acceptable" to him. Liberals have already spent six and a half years loathing Bush - longer if they live in Texas, a state whose statutes are said to recognize two classes of persons: Fuckors and Fuckees. (Republicans and Democrats, the big shots, belong to the former class. You and I belong to the latter.) There is nothing particularly wrong with loathing Bush. It only becomes a problem when it prevents progressives from finally figuring out that the people they're really going to end up having to fight are the Democrats. As Big Walter the Thunderbird used to say, "Sho' is tough." Right now, both major parties are playing dodge ball with the planet, trying to avoid "ownership" of Iraq. The only way at this point to "own" the war is to stop it, and there is no serious move afoot to make that happen. Having used antiwar sentiment, and disgust over Katrina, to regain control of Congress, the Democrats have no intention of relinquishing power. They all "support the troops," who are being asked to "lay down their lives for America" in far Mesopotamia - but you didn't expect these people you elected to lay down their political careers for the good of the country ... did you? Of course not. Already Michael Tomasky is praising the Dems for practicing "smart politics," as though winning the White House in 2008 were far more important than "merely" ending the war in Iraq. How quickly "put us into power and we'll change things" becomes "put us into power and watch it change us." For the corporate powers behind the candidates, the rule is as it ever was: from time to time, things have to change in order to stay the same. But (someone protests), can't you at least admit that the Democrats are better than the Republicans? And if you love the country, or care about the world, aren't you obligated to support the lesser of two evils, even if it's only slightly less evil? To which I reply: What's really evil is being forced to choose between people on the one hand who support the war, and accuse anyone who questions it of "helping the terrorists" - and people on the other who oppose the war, criticize the war, pledge to the end the war, and then vote to keep it going. Or being asked to choose between the village idiot and someone who's consistently outsmarted by him. Once upon a time, Bill Clinton filled the Interior Department with "environmentalists." Bush filled it with oil company hacks. Who was more honest? Lo and behold, when they cut down the old growth forest, it didn't make much difference to the trees and the rivers and the critters, whether oil company insiders or professional environmentalists were sitting at the desks in Washington. Eight years of Clinton-Gore, two terms of Bush-Cheney: the toxic dumps remain, and only the rhetoric has changed, to protect the nave. Demonstrably now, it makes no difference to the war whether Republicans or Democrats control Congress. Do you suppose the shooting will end, on the day when a refined, well-spoken Democrat, who reads poetry perhaps and scorns the religious right, and who doesn't embarrass us when receiving foreign dignitaries, succeeds the bumbling oaf Bush? Think so? Or do you suspect people will soon be wailing, "I don't understand these people! They control Congress, the White house, and the military! Why don't they stop the war?" Perhaps apologists will go on CNN to reassure us: "The president wants to stop the war, really. But first she has to form a consensus, and set her legislative agenda in Congress, and build up her political capital. And when, not if, she wins re-election, then in that second term she'll be free to act, and she'll have that mandate, and I think you'll start to see some movement on ending this war." Sound about right? Look. Millions of people marched in the streets trying to prevent the invasion of Iraq, long before Bush sent a cruise missile into a Baghdad neighborhood trying to "take out" Saddam Hussein with one wild lunge, like the man who shot Liberty Valance. Without result, in either case. People marched and listened to speeches and then went home. The opinion of the multitudes counted for nothing. No one in power saw the slightest need to pay attention to them. They're still not paying attention. Why would they, as long as those bags of money keep coming in through the transom? The system is broken. It can't be fixed. As long as the Fuckors run it, it will continue to be utterly unresponsive to the will of the Fuckees. The system tolerates, even welcomes antiwar people, but it co-opts them if it can. Just as the oil companies co-opted Earth Day, and just as the nuclear power industry hopes to turn global warming into a wholly-owned subsidiary. In one party, if you're antiwar, you can get a job as Rudy Giuliani's foil. In the other one ... well, if you still "don't understand these people," what's it going to take? As the great working class poet Charlie Musselwhite says in "Black Water," the devastating post-Katrina anthem from his CD Delta Hardware: "Hello America -- are you ready for more?" David Vest can be reached through his web site at www.rebelangel.com. A new CD featuring him, "The Last of the Best: Live Recordings by the Paul deLay Band," will be released on June 12. --------11 of 13-------- Whitewashing a Sell Out Democratic Spin Won't End the War in Iraq By JOHN STAUBER CounterPunch May 25, 2007 After several months of empty posturing against the war in Iraq, politicians in Washington have made what Democratic congressman James P. Moran called a "concession to reality" by agreeing to give President Bush virtually everything he wanted in funding and unrestricted license to continue waging the increasingly detested war that has made Bush the most unpopular president since Richard Nixon. This is the outcome that we warned against two months ago when we wrote "Why Won't MoveOn Move Forward?" In it, we criticized MoveOn for backpedaling on its previously claimed objective of ending the war in Iraq immediately. Anti-war sentiment was the main factor behind last year's elections that brought Democrats to power in both houses of Congress. Once in power, however, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed through a "compromise" bill, supported by MoveOn, that offered $124 billion in supplemental funding for the war. To make it sound like they were voting for peace, the Democrats threw in a few non-binding benchmarks asking Bush to certify progress in Iraq, coupled with language that talked about withdrawing troops next year. Understanding how legislative processes work, we expected then that even those few nods to anti-war sentiment would be eliminated in due course. Bush had already said he would veto the Pelosi bill and pledged to hold out for funding without restrictions of any kind. Moreover, there was little doubt that the Democratic leadership would eventually cave to his demands. Notwithstanding their stage-managed photo ops and rhetorical flourishes for peace, prominent Democrats signaled early that they would give Bush the funding he wanted. Barack Obama even went so far as to state publicly that once Bush vetoed the original bill, Congress would approve the money because "nobody wants to play chicken with our troops on the ground." (Two weeks later, MoveOn announced that it had polled its members, and Obama was their "top choice to lead the country out of Iraq.") In effect, the confrontation between Bush and the Democrats was a high-stakes game of poker in which the Democrats went out of their way to make it clear that they would fold once Bush called their bluff. Not everyone saw this coming, of course. Back in March, Salon.com called MoveOn's Eli Pariser "shrewdly pragmatic" for backing Pelosi's original supplemental war funding bill. It quoted Pariser predicting that after Bush was "forced to veto" Pelosi's bill, "That forces the Republicans to choose between an increasingly isolated president and the majority of the Congress and the majority of the American people." Similar "shrewd pragmatism" came from blogger and Democratic campaign consultant Matt Stoller at MyDD.com, praising MoveOn's "dedication to practical results" and calling the Pelosi bill "a major step forward ... Moveon was true to its members in helping this happen." Stoller criticized us by name for our naivete in thinking otherwise: John Stauber, who is an ardent critic of Moveon, comes from a different generation of liberal activism. ... Stauber isn't used to a non-Southern Democratic Party. It's nothing he's ever known, and it's frankly nothing that any of us have ever known. None of us know how to wield power in this new political world, where the public is liberal, the military industrial state is cannibalizing itself, and the political system is (slowly) reorienting itself around this shocking new paradigm. Stauber is also not used to the idea that activist liberals actually like the Democratic Party. He believes that Moveon members would not support Democratic leaders if presented with a different set of choices, without acknowledging that Moveon members have traditionally supported Democratic leaders when the questions are tactical in nature. A "tactic," as the dictionary explains, is "an expedient for achieving a goal." If the goal is to end the war in Iraq, the Pelosi bill was never a tactic that had any chance of succeeding. Its provisions had no teeth and it was clear that too many Democrats never intended to see the fight through. As this week's betrayal by the Democratic leadership demonstrates, ending the war is simply not their goal. Their goal is to continue the war for the time being, while giving themselves just enough distance from it that they can run as the anti-war party in next year's presidential and congressional elections. Stoller seems to have belatedly arrived at this realization himself. Responding to this week's news, he writes: We're in Iraq because the political system, the public, and all of us became unable to distinguish between truth and falsehood. We're still in Iraq, and will be there until the public is genuinely convinced to leave. Right now, we're not there. I know what the polls say, but I also am watching Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Giuliani, Romney, etc running for President, and not one of them is calling for a full withdrawal. Not one. Clinton, the leading nominee in a supposedly antiwar party, is a hawk and doesn't even think that voting to authorize the war was a mistake. Amazingly, the conclusion that Stoller draws from these facts is the following non sequitur: So do not tell me that Pelosi, Reid, and Moveon are doing a bad job. They are not. They are persuading a country and a politics that is used to lazy bullshit that kills a lot of people to think twice about it, and resist. Here's the point that Stoller seems to have missed: There is a difference between what the public wants and what politicians do. Just because the high and mighty politicians don't get it yet, don't assume that the average American doesn't. It is not "the public" that needs to be persuaded. The politicians, their marketing campaigns, and the bloggers who join them may be "unable to distinguish between truth and falsehood," but the public at large fully understands that we need to get out of Iraq. The question is simply how to translate that public awareness into effective pressure that will force the politicians to change course. As we wrote in March, "When politicians and advocacy groups like MoveOn play anti-war games of political theater while effectively collaborating with the war's continuation, they merely add one more deception to the layers of lies in which this war has been wrapped." Since 2003 we've co-authored two books on Iraq, and we have been reporting on the war for over five years now, since we began to dissect the Bush administration's propaganda push almost immediately after 9/11. We've been reporting on MoveOn for almost as long. And by the way, we are not "ardent critics" of MoveOn, as Stoller claimed. We are trying to constructively criticize an organization whose leaders mean well, even though they have been selling a flawed strategy. MoveOn has emerged as a powerful political player with a massive email list of more than three million names and the ability to raise millions of dollars for Democrats while waging innovative PR campaigns around the environmental, political and social issues they promote. The bottom line, however, is that MoveOn until now has always been a big "D" Democratic Party organization. It began as an online campaign to oppose the impeachment of President Clinton, and its tactical alliances with Democratic politicians have made it part of the party's current power base, which melds together millionaire funders such as George Soros and the Democracy Alliance, liberal unions like SEIU, and the ballyhooed Netroots bloggers like Matt Stoller, Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zniga of the Daily Kos. At a personal level, we presume the members of this coalition genuinely want the war to end, but their true and primary priority is winning Democratic Party control of both houses of Congress and the White House. Now that the war in Iraq hangs like a rotting albatross around the neck of the Bush administration, it has become the Democrats' best weapon to successfully campaign against Republicans. From a "shrewdly pragmatic" point of view, therefore, they have no reason to want the war to end soon. Some Democrats (not the top politicians, of course) are saying this openly. Here, for example, is how one blogger at the Daily Kos sees things: I know, that means more American casualties, more Iraqi casualties, more treasure and lives wasted. But I think you've got to keep in mind the big picture here. ... [B]y the end of September, people will be beginning to pay real attention to the next election... I think this does give the Democratic party a tremendous opportunity to crush the Republicans for perhaps a couple of decades to come. Iraq, and the Republican support of it, may well do for the Republicans what Vietnam did for Democrats - make the public suspicious for decades about the party's bona fides on foreign policy. In this analysis, "more treasure and lives wasted" are the "little picture," while winning elections is "the big picture." Democrats like Russ Feingold who oppose the Iraq supplemental do not share this strategy, and it is never explicitly stated even by the Democratic politicians who are signing on this week to fund the war, but it is implicit in their actions. If you visit the MoveOn website today as we write, the top item on the page is a request for people to sign a petition against price gouging by oil companies. They're focused on the "big picture" of using the current spike in gasoline prices as an opportunity to build their email list, while the little picture of ending the war has fallen from the top of the page. Yesterday MoveOn began a campaign calling on Democrats to vote no on the Iraq supplemental. MoveOn is also talking for the first time about supporting primary challengers to Democrats who "ran on ending the war but vote for more chaos and more troops in Iraq." This belated spark of independence, however, is too little and too late to stop a deal that has already been struck, in which politicians that MoveOn has been supporting have just surrendered ground from a position of strength to a president and party that is weakened, on an issue of utmost importance to their country. MoveOn is expert at marketing, PR and advertising. Their emails to members convey a friendly, informal style and a sense that "they" are just like "us." But there are important differences between the organization and many of the people who sign their petitions and give them money. MoveOn has not been primarily a movement against the war. It has been a movement of Democrats to get the party back into power. We do not doubt that MoveOn's leadership sincerely believes they are pursuing the most practical and effective course to improve America's political problems by vanquishing the Republicans and getting Democrats elected. However, when given a choice between building a powerful grassroots movement to end the war, versus exploiting the war for the benefit of getting Democrats elected, MoveOn has repeatedly chosen the latter while probably believing there is no difference. There is an organized anti-war movement in America that is not an adjunct of the Democratic Party. Up until now, it has been weak and divided and unable to organize itself into an effective national movement in its own right. In its place, therefore, MoveOn and its Netroots allies have become identified as the leadership of the anti-war movement. It is vitally important, however, that a genuinely independent anti-war movement organize itself with the ability to speak on its own behalf. In the 1950s and the 1960s, the civil rights movement was most definitely not an adjunct of the Democratic or Republican Parties. Far from it, it was a grassroots movement that eventually forced both parties to respond to its agenda. Likewise, the movement against the Vietnam War was not aligned with either the Democratic or Republican parties, both of which claimed to have plans for peace while actually pursuing policies that expanded the war. That's the sort of movement we need again, if we wish to see peace in our lifetime. John Stauber is Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy in Madison, Wisconsin and co-author of Weapons of Mass Deception and The Best War Ever. He can be reached at: john [at] prwatch.org --------12 of 13-------- Feingold, Kucinich Denounce the Democratic Cave by Matthew Rothschild Published on Friday, May 25, 2007 by The Progressive And so the Democrats caved, pathetically, to Bush and to Bush's war. "It tells American workers that the only way they will get an increase in wages is to continue to support funding the war which is taking the lives of their sons and daughters," Kucinich said. No amount of extenuation can minimize the fact that the Democrats, who were brought to power in Congress to end the war, have just signed on to another $120 billion for that war. There is not even a timetable for withdrawal, just 18 benchmarks that the President himself can waive. What an abdication! What a capitulation! Even as U.S. soldiers are increasingly bogged down in Baghdad, even as the death toll of our troops zoomed past the 3,400 mark, the Democratic compromisers in Congress could not find enough spinal fluid to stand tall against Bush and the inevitable you-don't-support-the-troops ads that they fear so much. Well, they're going to have to summon the courage to withstand those ads at some point, or they'll end up voting for an additional hundred billion dollars down the road. With this vote, they'll be consigning hundreds of additional soldiers to their deaths. Largely to blame for this is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who mindlessly trumpeted the bill as some sort of an accomplishment. "For heaven's sake, look where we've come," he said. "It's a lot more than the President ever expected he'd have to agree to". Is it really? Bush essentially got everything he wanted. No timetable. No mandatory benchmarks. And all the money he needs to keep waging the war. Also to blame is Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, who is an old Clinton triangulator. "I view this as the beginning of the end of the President"s policy," he somehow managed to mutter. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi showed no leadership on this issue. She even helped broker a deal that she herself can't abide. "I'm not likely to vote for something that doesn't have a timetable," she said. So why did she go along? At least two Democratic members of Congress distinguished themselves in their opposition to this primitive cave. Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin said: "I cannot support a bill that contains nothing more than toothless benchmarks and that allows the President to continue what may be the greatest foreign policy blunder in our nation's history. There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action". And Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio exposed the hideousness of one of the strategies of the Democratic leadership: to salt the bill with an increase in the minimum wage. "It tells American workers that the only way they will get an increase in wages is to continue to support funding the war which is taking the lives of their sons and daughters," Kucinich said. "First, blood for oil. Now, a minimum wage for maximum blood. Aren't the American people giving enough blood for this war without having to give more to have a wage increase?" Not a penny more should be spent on this war, except to get our troops out of there. That's what the American people want. And it is the height of cowardice and negligence for the Democrats to give Bush what he wants, instead. Update: Barbara Lee Condemns Iraq Bill On the House floor on May 24, Representative Barbara Lee issued the following statement: "Mr. Speaker, in 2003 Congress approved a $78 billion dollar supplemental. In 2004 it was $87 billion. In 2005 it was $82 billion. In 2006 it was $72 billion. And now the administration wants almost $100 billion more? "As of today, 3,429 of our brave troops and countless Iraqis have died in this occupation. The President has dug us into a deep hole in Iraq and it boggles my mind that Congress wants to give him another blank check to buy more shovels. "This occupation and civil war cannot be won militarily. Mr. Speaker, how many will have to die before this House stops writing blank checks? "Mr. Speaker, the American people are looking to Congress to end this failed policy and bring our troops home. "Two months ago, we took the Lee Amendment to the Rules Committee, which would have fully funded the safe and timely withdrawal of U.S forces from Iraq. That is what we should be voting to do today, not to give the President another blank check. I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill." Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine. 2007 The Progressive --------13 of 13-------- Philosophy For Idiot By FRANK B. FORD CounterPunch May 26 / 27, 2007 Like millions of naifs, voted to end the war. Democrats took that charge seriously by way of dazzling softshoe. I'm of the type vegetating in Con- gressional offices to be patronized with pap like this: "You don't grasp the politics!" (Maybe a stop on the tour, YOUR GOVERNMENT AT WORK! ) What we grasp is dough and the same smear of slugs bribing both camps. So, finally, Dems cave on funding the war, that obscenity of our time authored, under- stating, by liars, crooks and charlatans. (Our children's blood a mean commodity for ambitiously patriotic priorities.) Thus, party of temporary hope in toilet, ears stopped by roiling flush. "Fercrisakes!" spout you, "grow up! Parties same! Insist on difference? Republican and Republican-Lite." Too much like tinny pop culture glitz! Vegas without true whores. I must see Democrats with more fiber than that! As Quislings. Frank Ford writes in a region of Florida swarming with cars resembling inverted hottubs. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - 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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