Progressive Calendar 09.15.07
From: David Shove (
Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2007 03:22:51 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    09.15.07

1. Military speakout 9.16 9:30am
2. CSPAN/DC anti-war 9.16 9:30am
3. Philippines       9.16 12:30pm
4. Ellison/AM950     9.16 3pm

5. Palestine         9.17 4:30pm
6. We/power/war/filn 9.17 6:30pm
7. Nazi Germany      9.17 7:30pm

8. Global inequality 9.18 5pm
9. Lake St history   9.18 6pm
10. Leonard Cohen    9.18 6:30pm
11. Impeach 4 peace  9.18 7pm
12. Bus send-off     9.18 7pm

13. Sen John Marty   - Growing wage gap at U of M
14. Vincente Navarro - How the US schemed vs democracy in Spain
15. Mike Whitney     - Final stop: soup kitchen U.S.A.
16. Mark Morford     - Iraq 'war': the great humiliation ours forever
17. ed               - Elite heaven on earth

--------1 of 17---------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Military speakout  9.16 9:30am

Sunday, 9/16, 9:30 am, Military Families Speak Out-MN member Michael
Perkins speaks on the huge toll taken on National Guard troops, including
his own family members, First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, 900 Mount
Curve Ave, Lower Assembly Hall, Mpls.

--------2 of 17--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: CSPAN/DC anti-war 9.16 9:30am

The ANSWER Coalition ANTI-WAR PROTESTS happening in DC today will be
broadcast on C-SPAN TOMORROW,Sunday sept 16, 9:30AM (CENTRAL TIME)--the
PRO-war Eagles demonstration will ALSO be broadcast. (Do NOT know WHICH
demo is first--though I suspect it may be the pro-war folks).

C-SPAN 1 IS CHANNEL 21 in Minneapolis. Check local listings.
C-SPAN is at http://www.c-spa

--------3 of 17--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Philippines 9.16 12:30pm

Sunday, 9/16, 12:30 to 2 pm, the ELCA Peace with Justice Committee hosts
Dr Gary King of Amnesty International speaking on "Human Rights in the
Philippines," Central Lutheran Church, 3rd Ave & 12th St, Mpls.

--------4 of 17--------

From: Joel Albers <joel [at]>
Subject: Ellison/AM950 9.16 3pm

[Ellison, after voting for more money for the war, and taking an
all-expenses paid trip to Israel from the Isreali lobby AIPAC, is not a
progressive.  Ask him to explain those two things. -ed]

MN Congressman Keith Ellison will be a guest on James Mayer's Air America
radio program, "Of the People", this Sunday September 16th from 3-4 PM.
Please feel free to call in with comments/ questions on the air:

From: James Mayer <jmayer [at]>

The call-in number is 952-946-6205. You will be asked for your first name,
only, and your city, only (i.e., not the state or your last name).  I'm
going to get in as much phone time with listeners as we can during that
one hour.  It goes fast. So don't hesitate to get your call in early!  We
want him to know there are lots of people watching and listening to who's
doing what for the land and democratic government of the people.

--------5 of 17--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Palestine 9.17 4:30pm

Mideast Peace Summit: "Difficult Dialogues:" Dr. Hanan Ashrawi and Dr.
Yossi Beilin

Monday, September 17, 4:30 p.m.  Macalester College, Kagin Commons, 1600
Grand Avenue, St. Paul. Moderated by Former Vice President Walter Mondale.
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi and Dr. Yossi Beilin will participate in a panel
promoting solutions to the conflicts that divide the Middle East. Dr.
Ashrawi is a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Jerusalem
District, and Dr. Beilin is currently a member of the Knesset
Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. Sponsored by: Provost. FFI: Visit

--------6 of 17--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: We/power/war/f 9.17 6:30pm

FREE Third Monday Movie and Discussion: "WE"

Monday, September 17, 6:30 p.m. St. Joan of Arc Church, Hospitality Hall,
4537 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis. "WE" is a fast-paced 64 minute
documentary that covers the world politics of power, war, corporations,
deception and exploitation. The film visualizes the words of the eminent
Indian author and peace activist Arundhati Roy speaking on such things as
the war on terror, corporate globalization, justice and the growing civil
unrest -- witty, moving, alarming and a lesson in modern history.
Sponsored by: WAMM Third Monday Movies. FFI: Call WAMM, 612-827-5364.

--------7 of 17---------

From: Stephen Feinstein <feins001 [at]>
Subject: Nazi Germany 9.17 7:30pm

Omer Bartov, one of the leading historians of Nazi Germany, will present
a public lecture and a History Department colloquium.

A public lecture based on his newly-released book:
"Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine"
Monday, September 17 at 7:30 PM
Nolte Hall Lounge
(See attached flyer)

A colloquium to the History Department with a pre-circulated paper:
"Testimonies as Historical Evidence: Reconstructing the Holocaust from
Tuesday, September 18, 12:00-1:20
Ford Room
*precirculated paper available at:*

--------8 of 17--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Global inequality 9.18 5pm

ST PAUL SPNN/channel 15
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts in St. Paul on Tuesday evenings and
Wednesday mornings.  All households with basic cable can watch!

9/18 5pm and midnight and 9/19 10am "Globalization and the Age of
Inequality".  Interview of the widely-read, Indian, muckraking journalist
P. Sainath. (this show contains economics!).  Hosted by Karen Redleaf.

--------9 of 17--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Lake St history 9.18 6pm

"Right on Lake Street" Opening Celebration

Tuesday, September 18, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Minnesota History Center, 345
Kellogg Boulevard West, St. Paul. Take a fun, funky trip through the heart
and history of Minneapolis' most vibrant neighborhood with the new exhibit
Right on Lake Street. The exhibit will feature WAMM members and activists
Marie Braun and Brigid McDonald. Adults: $8.00, Seniors and Students:
$6.00, Children (6 to 17 years): $4.00, Children (5 and under) and MHS
Members: Free. FFI: Visit <>.

--------10 of 17--------

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Leonard Cohen 9.18 6:30pm

The Salon Tuesday will be a celebration of the songs and poetry of Leonard
Cohen.  Please bring any favorites you have to read and maybe to discuss.
Lyrics of his music can be found on the internet.  We will play some on
CD's and show clips from the documentary "I'm Your Man." Hope to see you.

Pax Salons ( )
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.

--------11 of 17--------

From: Impeach <lists [at]>
Subject: Impeach for peace 9.18 7pm

Impeach for Peace
We meet Tuesdays at 7pm at Joe's Garage (Restaurant along Loring Park)
1610 Harmon Pl Minneapolis, MN 55403 (612) 904-1163

--------12 of 17--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
Subject: Bus send-off 9.18 7pm

If you are unable to ride the bus to D.C., please consider donating to help
pay for someone else's bus seat.  Attending a national anti-war
demonstration is an inspiring and powerful experience.  We don't want a lack
of funds to prevent people from participating.  We also want to make sure
the bus is filled to keep costs down and to best represent the thriving
anti-war movement in Minnesota.  Any and all financial contributions are
welcome and appreciated.

On Tuesday, Sept 18, we are holding a send-off party for bus riders at May
Day Books (301 Cedar Ave. S, Mpls) from 7-9 p.m.  Light refreshments will be
served.  Donations will benefit the bus rider scholarship fund.

For a tax deductible donation, make checks payable to the Anti-War Committee
Education Fund.  Checks intended to reserve your spot on the bus should be
made out to the Anti-War Committee with "bus trip" in the memo field.

Thanks for your participation and support,
Anti-War Committee 1313 5th St. SE Minneapolis, MN 55414

--------13 of 17--------

Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2007 22:54:12 -0500
From: Senator John Marty <jmarty [at]>
Subject: Growing Wage Gap at U of M

Apple Pie Alliance <>

To the Point!
Growing Wage Gap at U of M Causes Real Hardship
by Senator John Marty
September 15, 2007

"I'm not trying to live in the lap of luxury; I'm just trying to get by.
My family has had some medical issues and now we are losing our home in
-- a 33 year employee of the University of Minnesota

The current University of Minnesota strike is typical of labor disputes
around the country. The workers say they need and deserve better wages,
management says they cannot afford them.

As in every strike, management and labor see things differently. The
University wants to count existing seniority pay adjustments as part of
the increase that they are negotiating. AFSCME, the union representing the
striking workers, points out that the seniority increases are already in
their current contract, and that level of pay is already owed them. They
say that the University, like the state, has always negotiated pay
increases on top of the seniority increases and that the U of M did so
again for another union just a few weeks ago.

Regardless of how one talks about the increases, when inflation is
factored in, a new clerical worker starting at the University today makes
about 5% less than someone taking the identical job in 2003.

These are not highly paid employees; they include some of the lowest paid
workers at the University. They really need more money. The average
clerical, technical and health care worker makes $34,000 per year. That is
the average; starting workers make much less. One striking employee said
that even after working at the U of M full-time for 11 years, his family
of four qualifies for food stamps.

This worker is not alone. A survey of these employees two years ago found
many were struggling financially. There were workers who skipped doses of
their medications, who couldn't pay their monthly rent, who borrowed money
to buy food. Others put their kids on the free school lunch program and
rely on energy assistance to make ends meet.

A 12-year employee said she used vacation time in order to work more hours
at her second job. She was one of many who relied on a food shelf to
supplement her family's diet.

Just as poignantly, several talked about what they could do with better

--"I could stay on top of my monthly bills instead of constantly picking
out the most important ones each month, and pushing the others back
months. Monthly bills increase in the winter."

--"(I would) save money. That is my main concern - not being able to save
for my family's future, and that is what scares me the most."

Ironically, many of these people who work for the University of Minnesota
could not afford to send their own children to school there.

The employees point out that the legislature appropriated funding for
3.25% increases, but the University says that it cannot afford that much
for the AFSCME workers. President Robert Bruininks said, "We believe we
have a fair offer out there, and we believe we have to run the University
in a way that is responsible to all of its employees."

Last year, the university president's salary was $384,000. That is more
than the average striking worker makes in a decade.

On top of that, his compensation package included an additional $150,000
that he receives in deferred compensation, for a total of $539,000.

Everybody expects the University President to receive good compensation.
But this year, his salary increased by $39 thousand, and his deferred
compensation jumped an additional $25 thousand, bringing his total
compensation to $598,000. That works out to be a 12% increase this year.
Just the increase in his compensation, $64,000, is almost double what the
average striking worker makes in a year.

This does not meet Bruininks' own criteria that the University be
"responsible to all of its employees." It is easy to see why the AFSCME
workers feel they are treated unfairly.

The growing income gap between workers and management is certainly not
unique to the University. Northwest Airlines workers recently had massive
wage and benefit cuts imposed on them to help the company get out of
bankruptcy. As the airline was emerging from bankruptcy on the backs of
its employees, Northwest CEO Doug Steenland and other top executives took
multi-million dollar bonuses.

The number of people struggling to find affordable housing and health care
continues to grow. The wage gap between employers and management continues
to grow. There is a connection.

People know this is happening in Corporate America. But we expect better
from the University of Minnesota.

President Bruininks and his Administration are paid to make some big
financial decisions. It is sad that they appear blind to the impact of
their actions on the lives of their own employees.

--------14 of 17--------

How the U.S. Schemed Against Spain's Transition from Dictatorship to
September 15-16, 2007

According to conventional wisdom in Spain and in the U.S., in Spain's
transition from the Franco dictatorship to democracy, it was King Juan
Carlos, with the assistance of the U.S. government (first the Ford
administration, then the Carter administration), who brought democracy to
Spain. In this interpretation of events taking place from 1975, when the
dictator died, to 1978, when the first democratically elected government
was installed, the U.S. government actively supported the development of
democracy in Spain.

The reality, however, was very different. As documented in a recent book
by Nicolas Sartorins and Alberto Sabio, El Final de la Dictadura (The End
of the Dictatorship), the U.S. government was not very keen on having full
democracy in Spain. The primary, if not exclusive, concern of the U.S.
government in Spain was to preserve its military and economic interests.
Democracy in Spain was the least of its concerns. As a matter of fact, the
U.S. government would have preferred to keep both Franco and the
dictatorial regime alive and in good health, rather than open up a
democratic process with an uncertain outcome. As the U.S. ambassador in
Spain, Mr. Stabler, wrote in February 1975 to Secretary of State (under
President Ford) Henry Kissinger, "It will be much easier to reach an
agreement with the Spanish Government to renew the military bases in that
country if Franco stays in power. But he is not going to last much longer
and the transition to a post-Franco era has already begun"(Archives of the
Gerald Ford Foundation. National Security Advisor, Box 12, Spain).

Beginning in 1945, the U.S. government saw Spain as a military base. The
democratic forces in Spain, which had helped the Allies in defeating the
Nazi regime in Europe (the first battalion to liberate Paris consisted of
Spanish republicans), were hoping that the collapse of the Hitler regime
would be followed by the collapse of one of its main allies in Europe -
the Franco regime. To bring about that collapse, the Spanish democratic
forces needed U.S. and allied support. But the Truman administration had
different thoughts. Even though the Cold War had not yet officially begun,
the U.S. government saw Franco's anti-communist stance as an important
asset, and his willingness to please the allied forces (to make them
forget his support for Hitler) made him very agreeable to the U.S.
demands. The most important of these, expressed in a Pentagon study
published on April 19, 1945, was the need for the U.S. government to
establish its own Gibraltar in Spain. And this it did - not just one
(Rota), but six U.S. military bases equivalent to Gibraltar were
established in Spain.

It was Truman [a real bastard -ed] who gave the green light to save
Franco's regime, and it was Eisenhower who visited Spain to give that
regime the international recognition Franco craved. From then on, the U.S.
government became the major ally to one of the most hated dictatorships in
the history of Europe. (Franco assassinated nearly 200,000 people
immediately after his fascist coup in 1939.) The U.S. government also
pushed for membership of the Franco regime in NATO, a proposal that was
too much for the U.S.'s European allies to accept. They vetoed it.

The U.S. military bases came up for renewal in 1975, when Franco's days
were numbered. The Ford administration was aware that the Franco regime
was very unpopular, and so were the  U.S. government and its military
bases in Spain. Even in a poll carried out during the dictatorship (which
repressed all opposition views), the majority of Spaniards had indicated
they wanted U.S. military bases out of Spain.   During the period
1974-1978, the Spanish working class was restless. Its opposition to the
dictatorship was very active. No other country in Europe witnessed such
strong popular agitation against its government. From 1974 to 1977, Spain
saw enormous labor agitation, the largest in Western Europe since World
War II. This worried the Ford administration. Moreover, Portugal was in
the midst of a military and popular revolt against Franco's best friend in
Portugal, the dictator Salazar. The Pentagon even made plans in case
Portugal and Spain were taken over by political forces hostile to U.S.
interests: the U.S. would support the establishment of an Atlantic
government, allied to the U.S., to include the Islands of Azores, Madeira,
and the Canary Islands. The Pentagon was still recovering from its defeat
in Vietnam (Saigon "fell" on April 30, 1975), and in Europe the left was
positioned to win the elections in France and Italy. It was clear to the
Ford administration that however much it might prefer seeing Franco remain
in power, things in Spain and elsewhere were getting quite rough for U.S.
government interests; it could not afford to lose Spain. And the King
became the solution. Franco had appointed Juan Carlos as his successor,
and at his coronation he had sworn loyalty to the fascist party (El
Movimiento National). But the King (and the U.S. administration) was aware
that something needed to change in Spain.

The "Democratic Conversion" of the Spanish King

King Juan Carlos appointed Arias Navarro, a close confidant of the
dictator Franco, to lead his first government. The ministers of this
government, presided over by the King, were linked to U.S. economic
interests and were profoundly pro-U.S. government. The Foreign Affairs
Minister, Mr. Areilza, was Spanish ambassador to the U.S. in the 1950s and
was close to Rockefeller family interests and the Chase Manhattan Bank.
The Minister of Justice, Mr. Garriges Diaz-Caisabete, was Spanish
Ambassador in the U.S. in the 1960s (and had played a key role in the
renewal of U.S. military bases in Spain) and consultant to many U.S.
corporations in Spain. The Vice-President, Mr. Osorio, was once president
of the Spanish affiliate of Exxon. The Minister of the Economy, Mr. Vilar
Mirt, had been head of a major steel company of the United Steel
Corporation. It was this government that signed the renewal of the U.S.
military bases. Just as Franco had needed the military bases to gain U.S.
government support, so the King now needed U.S. support to gain legitimacy
and international recognition. And the U.S. government gladly offered
both, even though the brutality of this government of the Monarchy rivaled
that of the Franco regime. Torture, political assassinations, and jailing
of political opponents were common practice in Spain under the Arias
Navarro government, and the U.S. government was fully aware of this. A
reception given by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for King Juan Carlos at
the Waldorf Astoria in New York was met by demonstrations against the
royal visit, organized by Amnesty International.

[US foreign policy is now, and has always been, the enemy of democracy.
US foreign policy is now, and has always been, run by the ruling class,
the arch-enemy of democracy. US foreign policy is just the anti-democracy
of the the ruling class, writ large. The ruling class doesn't respect
other countries, and it doesn't respect us, the people, either. Sound
shocking? The ruling class has the best PR money can buy, so the preceding
sounds to most people like wild blasphemy. With near-infinite money,
anything is possible, and we can be programmed to believe anything. -ed]

The same support for the Spanish monarchy came from the Carter
administration and its Secretary of State, Mr. Cyrus Vance. The profoundly
anti-communist position of the King made him attractive to the Carter
government, which had pressured its European allies to admit Spain to the
European Common Market. The U.S. government thought Spain's entry into the
Common Market would be good for U.S. business interests based in Spain.
Here again, no concerns were expressed by the U.S. government that Spain
was still a dictatorship, now led not by a general but by a king. The
European governments, however, were not ready to admit the Spanish
dictatorship into the Common Market. The German Premier Helmut Schmidt, a
social democrat, vetoed it. Not so, incidentally, Germany's foreign
secretary, the liberal Mr. Gensher, who supported it. He was fairly
representative of the European liberal parties (which are right-wing
parties in Europe), which had always put their economic interests above
any liberal concerns. It was the social democratic governing parties that
vetoed entry of the Spanish dictatorship to the European Common Market.

Continuing labor demonstrations forced the fall of Arias Navarro's
government and the establishment of a new monarchic government, led by
Suarez, who had been Secretary General of the fascist movement and had
supported most of the repressive measures of the Arias Navarro government.
Suarez, along with the King, knew the situation could become explosive -
indeed, the first year of the Suarez government saw the greatest labor
unrest - unless a more open process was put in place, with legalization of
all parties, including the Communist Party. The electoral rules, however,
would be designed to discriminate against the working class and against
progressive areas of the country, electoral rules that continue to this
day. For example, the province of Segovia, a conservative stronghold,
needs only 30,000 votes to elect a member of the Spanish parliament.
Barcelona, a stronghold for progressive forces, needs 150,000 votes. And
although the alliance of left-wing forces - Izquierda Unida (to the left
of the Socialist Party), which includes the Spanish Communist Party - is
the third largest party in Spain by popular vote, it is only the fifth
largest in Parliament, reduced to a small parliamentary group.

This small piece of history explains why European polls show that, of the
populations of Europe, the Spanish population is the least friendly toward
U.S. foreign policy. However, correctly reading the political situation in
the U.S., the Spanish people have never identified the U.S. government and
its policies with the majority of the people who live and work in the U.S.
According to the same polls, compared with much of continental Europe, the
Spanish population has a greater empathy for average folk in the U.S. -
that is, for the people and the popular culture. They share the opinion
held by the majority of the U.S. population expressed in many polls that
the federal government does not primarily represent their interests.

Vicente Navarro is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the
Pompeu Fabra University, Spain, and The Johns Hopkins University, USA. In
2002 he was awarded the Anagrama Prize (Spain's equivalent to the Pulitzer
Prize in the USA) for his denunciation of the way in which the transition
from dictatorship to democracy has been engineered, in his book Bienestar
Insuficiente Democracia Incompleta, De lo que no se hable en nuestro pais
(Insufficient Welfare, Incomplete Democracy; a book about what is being
silenced in Spain). He can be reached at vnavarro [at]

--------15 of 17--------

Plummeting Dollar, Credit Crunch...
Final Stop: Soup Kitchen U.S.A.
September 15-16, 2007

The days of the dollar as the world's "reserve currency" may be drawing to
a close. In August, foreign central banks and governments dumped a
whopping 3.8 per cent of their holdings of US debt. Rising unemployment
and the ongoing housing slump have triggered fears of a recession sending
wary foreign investors running for the exits. China, Japan and Taiwan have
been leading the sell off which has caused the steepest decline since

To some extent, the losses have been concealed by the up-tick in
Treasuries sales to US investors who've been fleeing the money markets in
droves. Investors have been trying to avoid the fallout from money funds
that have been contaminated by mortgage-backed assets. Naturally, they
bought US government bonds which are considered a safe bet. But that
doesn't change the fact that the dollar's foundation is steadily eroding
and that foreign support for the dollar is vanishing.  US bonds are no
longer regarded as a "safe haven".

The dollar slumped to a 15 year low against 6 of its most actively traded
peers and set the stage for an early morning market rout on Wall Street.

Foreign investment and currency deregulation has been a real boon for the
stock market which thrives of a steady flow of cheap capital. It's also
been good for ravenous consumers who like to borrow boatloads of low
interest cash for their toys, SUVs and McMansions.

Of course, when things seem too good to last - they usually don't. The
economy is contracting; credit is getting tighter, and the stock market is
flailing about aimlessly. As capital flight accelerates; interest rates in
the US will rise, unemployment will mushroom, and the dollar will fall. It
can't be avoided. American markets and consumers will be compelled to curb
their appetite for cheap foreign credit.

Overseas investors own more than $4.4 trillion in US debt in the form of
bonds and securities.  Even if they sell only 25 per cent of that sum, the
US would feel the pinch of hyper-inflation. For the last decade foreigners
have been eager to by our Treasuries and equities - gobbling up America's
enormous $800 billion current account deficit and keeping demand for the
dollar artificially high. But just like the subprime mortgage holder whose
"teaser rate" has suddenly expired; the US now faces the painful
adjustment of higher payments and less discretionary income for

Maybe the charade could have carried on a bit longer if not for the
belligerent Bush foreign policy that has alienated friends and foes alike.
But, then, maybe not. After all, the Fed's loose monetary policies added
to Bush's extravagant spending - $3 trillion added to the National Debt in
just 6 years - doomed the country from the beginning. Deficit spending
has been the central organizing principle from day

1. Now comes the hangover.
Federal Reserve chairman Bernanke is expected to drop the Fed funds rate
on September 18. The move will provide more "easy credit-crack" for the
addicts on Wall Street but it could also trigger a run on the dollar.
That's what keeps the Fed chief up at night.

The Bush Team was warned repeatedly by the Bank of International
Settlements, the World Bank, the IMF and the European Central Bank that
its policies were "unsustainable" and would end in an economic meltdown.
But they brushed aside the warnings with the same casual indifference as
they did the critics of the war in Iraq.

Why would they care if the country suffered? Their friends would still get
their unfunded tax cuts. Their private armies and "no bid" contractors
would still get their payola. The Democrats would still cave in on the
enormous "off budget" war spending. And, they'd still be able to print as
much counterfeit money as they chose until every last copper farthing was
drained from the public till.

No worries. Besides the media would mop up the mess they'd made with their
usual "happy talk". As the economic calamity unfolds, we can expect to see
the usual parade of lacquer-haired phonies on the Business Channel singing
the praises of "free markets".  The problems we're now facing should have
been easy to spot for anyone willing to look beyond the empty rhetoric of
the TV Pollyannas or their cheerleading co-conspirators at the White

It was a hoax. And the seven years of sleepwalking has cost us dearly.
Unemployment is up, consumer spending is down, the housing market has
slipped into recession, and the stock market is lurching back and forth
like an overloaded washing machine. All of this could have been foreseen
by anyone with minimal critical thinking skills and a healthy dose of
skepticism of government.

Consider this: US GDP is 70 per cent consumer spending. That means that
wages have to increase beyond the rate of inflation OR THE ECONOMY CAN'T
GROW. It's just that simple. So how is it that 50 per cent of the American
people still believe Bush's supply side baloney that cutting taxes for the
uber-rich strengthens the economy? How does that increase wages or build a
healthy middle class? If we want a strong economy wages have to keep pace
with productivity so that workers can buy the goods they produce.

Greenspan knows that. So does Bush. But they chose to hide it behind an
"easy credit" smokescreen so they could weaken the dollar, off-shore
thousands of industries, out-source 3 million manufacturing jobs, fund an
illegal war, and maintain the lethal flow of the $800 billion current
account deficit into American equities and Treasuries. In truth, there
hasn't been any growth in the economy since Bush took office in 2000. What
we've seen is an ever-expanding bubble of personal and corporate debt
amplified by a "structured finance" system that magically transforms
liabilities (subprime loans) into securities and increases their value
through leveraging.

That's it. No growth - just a galaxy of debt-instruments with odd-sounding
names (CDOs, MBSs, CDSs, etc)  stacked precariously on top of each other.
That's what we call "wealth" in America.

It's all smoke and mirrors. The financial system has decoupled from the
productive elements of the economy and is now beginning to show disturbing
signs of instability. That's why there's the big blow-off in the bond
market. The halcyon days of supplying our armies, funding our markets and
building our subprime "ownership society" empire on the backs of foreign
creditors is over.  The stock market is headed for the landfill and
housing is leading the way. Economic fundamentals can only be ignored for
so long.

The problems began when Greenspan dropped interest rates to 1 per cent in
2003 for more than a year pumping trillions of low interest credit into
the economy. This created the appearance of prosperity but it also
inflated a massive equity bubble in housing which is now in its death
throes. The Fed "rubber stamped" many of the "creative financing" scams
which lowered lending standards and turned the subprime fiasco into a $1.5
trillion doomsday machine. Greenspan said this week that he hadn't
anticipated the real estate disaster.

The devastation in real estate is almost too vast to comprehend. The
mortgage bubble is roughly $5.5 trillion, and yet, prices have just begun
to fall. It's a long way to the bottom and there's bound to be plenty of
bloodshed ahead. Two million homeowners will lose their homes. 151
mortgage lenders have already gone belly up. Many of the hedge funds -
which are loaded with billions of dollars in "mortgage-backed" securities
are struggling to stay alive. Perhaps the most shocking projection was
made by Yale University Professor, Robert Schiller, who believes that home
prices could decline as much as 50 per cent in some of the "hotter
markets". (Schiller's book "Irrational Exuberance" predicted the
bust before it took place.) The effects on the US economy would be
considerable. If other factors come into play - like a stock market crash
and a subsequent period of deflation - we could see housing prices descend
90 per cent as they did between 1928 and 1933.

It's possible. Typically, housing bubbles deflate very slowly, over a
period of 5 to 10 years. Not this time. Credit problems in the broader
market are speeding up the pace of the decline. The subprime sarcoma has
spread to all loan categories and filtered into the banking system. This
is forcing the banks to hoard reserves to cover their potential losses
(from CDOs and mortgage-backed bonds "gone bad"). Now, even credit worthy
applicants are being turned away on new mortgages. At the same time,
"nearly half of borrowers with adjustable rate mortgages were not able to
refinance their loans. That's a major concern for policymakers as an
estimated 2.5 million mortgages given to borrowers with weak credit will
reset at higher rates by the end of next year". (Associated Press)

Think about that. It's no longer just a matter of 40 per cent of
loan-types disappearing overnight (Subprime, Alt-A, piggyback, negative
amortization, interest only etc). Even people with good credit are being
rejected because the banks are hoarding capital. That suggests the banks
are in dire straights and hiding losses that are kept off their balance
sheets. (more on this later)

So, it's harder to get a mortgage. And, if you already have one you may
not be able to roll it over. This will greatly accelerate the rate of the
housing crash. (In fact, the LA Business Journal reported on Sunday that
home sales plunged 50 per cent in one month. We can expect to see similar
numbers in all the hot spots.)

Dollar Woes
The troubles facing the dollar are as grave as those in housing. The stock
market and the teetering hedge funds are counting on an interest rate cut,
but they've ignored the effects it will have on the greenback. If Bernanke
lowers rates, as everyone expects, the bottom could drop out of the
dollar. We're already seeing gold soar to new highs (above $700 per Ounce)
That's an indication of dollar-weakness and a potential sell-off of US
Treasuries.  If Bernanke lowers rates, the greenback will nosedive.
Author Gary Dorsch explains the potential hazards in his recent article,
"Hopes for an Easier Fed Policy Boost the Euro and Copper":

 "Interest rate differentials have played a key role in determining
exchange rates. Since the ECB (European Central Bank) began its rate hike
campaign in December 2005, the US dollar's interest rate advantage over
the Euro has narrowed from 240 basis points to as low as 70 basis points
today. Thus, the Fed can only afford a small rate cut to bail out Wall
Street bankers who hold toxic sub-prime debt and avoid tipping the dollar
into a free-fall. But that might not be enough to prevent a housing led
recession in the months ahead".

After years of abuse under Greenspan - an $800 billion current account
deficit, a $9 billion per month war, and a 13 per cent yearly increase in
the money supply - the poor dollar has run out of wiggle-room. If the Fed
slashes rates, the mighty greenback will be a dead duck.

Commercial Paper: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You
Commercial paper is something that is rarely understood outside of the
investor class. It is, however, a critical factor in keeping the markets
operating smoothly.  "Commercial paper is highly-rated short-term notes
that offer investors a safe haven investment with a yield slightly above
certificates of deposit or government debt. Banks use the money to
purchase longer-term investments such as corporate receivables, auto loans
credit card debt, or mortgagees". (Wall Street Journal 9-5-07)

Commercial paper has been vanishing at an alarming rate in the last month.
$240 billion has been drained in just the last 3 weeks. (There is $2.2
trillion of commercial paper in circulation in the US) Because CP is
"short term", hundreds of billions of dollars need to roll over (be
refinanced) regularly. CP is at the very heart of the credit crisis which
has spread through the financial markets and it could result in a massive
catastrophe. The large investment banks are in a panic - and that is
probably an understatement. Consider this article in the UK Telegraph
which provides an eye-popping summary of what is going on behind the

 U.K. Telegraph, "Banks Face 10-Day Debt Time Bomb": "Britain's biggest
banks could be forced to cough up as much as 70bn over the next 10 days,
as the credit crisis that has seized the global financial system sparks a
fresh wave of chaos.

 "Almost 20 per cent of the short-term money market loans issued by
European banks are due to mature between September 11 and September 19.
Senior bankers fear that they will have to refinance almost all of these
debts with funds from their own coffers, putting a further strain on bank
balance sheets.

"Tens of billions of pounds of these commercial paper loans have already
built up in the financial system, because fear-ridden investors no longer
want to buy them. Roughly 23bn of these loans expire on September 17

"Fears of this impending call on bank credit lines are the true reason
that lending between banks has ground to a halt, according to senior money
market sources.

"Banks have been stockpiling cash in preparation for this "double
rollover" week, which sees quarterly loans expire alongside shorter term
debts - exacerbating a problem that lies at the heart of the credit
crisis." (UK Telegraph)

Fortunately, the British still have a few the Telegraph -
that still report the news. That is not the case in the US.

There's roughly $1.3 trillion in "asset-backed" commercial paper filtering
through American markets. These are the notes that are connected to
mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) that no one wants and which have NO
MARKET VALUE. They are referred to as "toxic waste". (No one is buying
anything remotely connected to real estate CDOs)

Hundreds of billions of dollars of CP has been issued through SIVs
(structured investment vehicles) and "conduits" which are affiliates
(subsidiaries) of the large banks. The banks have kept these operations
hidden from the public, but now they are in the spotlight because they
cannot meet their obligations and are stuck with billions of CP that they
cannot refinance. (The reader may recall that Enron kept similar "off
balance sheets" operations secret from the public before they declared

The banks are now forced to assume responsibility for the commercial paper
held by their affiliates, which means that they need sufficient
capitalization to cover the losses.

Sound confusing? Don't give up, yet!

The bottom line is this: The banks are responsible for hundreds of
billions of dollars in commercial paper that probably won't be refinanced.
It is beginning to look like they don't have the reserves to cover their

That's why we continue to believe that the banks are in trouble.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

So do the banks and their shareholders have nothing to worry about? Not
quite..Negligible losses in August were enough to force the banks to run
to the authorities for help. Regulators may decide that the best way to
prevent a recurrence is to require banks to hold more capital. They might
even limit some types of transactions. Such moves might be good for the
economy, but would reduce the bank's returns on equity. ("Banks Seem
Fine - For Now", WSJ, 9-8-07)

Read carefully and I think you will agree with me that the WSJ is "tipping
its hand" and suggesting that the banks needed "more capital" even after
"negligible losses". The predicament is much more serious now.

Bank troubles are never minor. That's why there has been so much effort
put into covering up the real source of the problem. When people lose
their confidence in the banks, they lose their confidence in the system.
That ends up inciting social turmoil.

Don't think they're not aware of that at the White House.

The Likelihood of a Hard Landing

Notwithstanding the imminent shakeup at the major investment banks, the
path ahead is poorly lit and full of potholes. The reckless policies of
the last 7 years have edged us ever-closer to the inevitable day of
reckoning. Professor Nouriel Roubini summed it up best in a recent
blog-entry, "The Coming US Hard Landing":

The forthcoming easing of monetary policy by the Fed will not rescue the
economy and financial markets from a hard landing as it will be too little
too late. The Fed underestimated the severity of the housing recession,
its spillovers to other sectors, and the contagion of the sub-prime
carnage to other mortgage markets and to the overall financial markets.
Fed easing will not work for several reasons: the Fed will cut rate too
slowly as it is still worried about inflation and about the moral hazard
of perceptions of rescuing reckless investors and lenders; we have a glut
of housing, autos and consumer durables and the demand for these goods
becomes relatively interest rate insensitive once you have a glut that
requires years to work out; serious credit problems and insolvencies
cannot be resolved by monetary policy alone; and the liquidity injections
by the Fed are being stashed in excess reserves by the banks, not re-lent
to the parts of the financial markets where the liquidity crunch is most
severe and worsening. The Fed provided liquidity to banking institutions
but it cannot provide direct liquidity to hedge funds, investment banks,
other highly leveraged institutions and parts of the credit markets - such
as asset backed commercial paper - where the crunch is severe. Thus, the
liquidity crunch in most credit markets remains severe, even in the
usually most liquid interbank markets.(Nouriel Roubini's Blog)

There are no quick-fixes or "silver bullets" as Bush likes to say. It'll
take years to dig our way out of this mess. In the meantime, there's
little to look forward to except the steady weakening of the dollar, the
persistent decline in housing and the looming police-state apparatus
that's supposed to keep us in line while the soup kitchens open.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at:
fergiewhitney [at]

--------16 of 17--------

Iraq, Deep In Your Bones
A war that isn't really a war, the great humiliation that's ours forever.
Is there any upside?
by Mark Morford
Published on Friday, September 14, 2007 by The San Francisco Chronicle

We are, of course, mostly fighting against ourselves.

It must be repeated every so often, just as a painful, necessary,
ego-tweaking reminder: Iraq was never a war. Not really, not in any sense
that mattered or that we could actually define and understand or to which
we could truly submit ourselves or our national identity.

It never mattered how many little American flags appeared on how many
bloated Chevy Avalanches, how many right-wing radio shows found a new
reason to pule, how many furiously blindered uber-patriots happily ignored
all the harsh words from all those naysaying generals or even all the
"turncoat" anti-war Republicans and insisted we're really over there to
fight some sort of great Islamic demon no one can actually see or locate
or define but that we must, somehow, attempt to destroy - even though
doing so only seems to make the situation far, far worse.

There was never any coherent, justifiable heroic cause. Indeed, the truth
about Iraq, as evidenced by Gen. David Petreaus. muted, bleak testimony
before Congress just this week, is much more simple, nefarious, pathetic.
Iraq is, was, and forever will be our very own massive strategic blunder,
a failed land grab for position and power in a tinderbox region defined by
furious instability and corruption and death.

It's the great unspoken subtext. Iraq has always been a war between our
dueling national identities, a battle over how we are to move and breathe
and behave in the new millennium. Are we really this violently paranoid
bully, this rogue pre-emptive screw-em-all ideological war machine defined
by the dystopian Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld vision of permanent, ongoing global

Or do we try, instead, to move forward and reinvent ourselves over and
over again as the world's most commited, forceful peacekeeper, ever
striving for balance and cooperation and tact, even in the face of
hardship and fundamentalist rage, refusing to be taunted and dragged down
lest we take the bait and lose our minds and engage in torture and
misprision and ultraviolence and become little better, ideologically
speaking, than our taunters? Have we already made our choice?

Because the truth is, we are well past the point of salvaging anything
noble or honest from Bush's massive, historic debacle. We have only this
brutal reality: Iraq is, and forever will be, one of the most
extraordinary wastes in all of American history.

A waste of money. A waste of time. A stunning, almost unspeakable waste of
life. A waste of resources and intellectual capital and a massive waste of
national spirit. A waste of energy and hope and a giant squandering of any
goodwill or empathy our former allies might've had for America in its
post-9/11 state. Heard it all before? Sure you have.

Some scenes remain almost comical in their absurdity. Perhaps you saw that
money, those enormous, ridiculous piles of American cash, the photos
floating around of American soldiers guarding giant, shrink-wrapped
pallets of U.S. currency known as "cashpaks," each reportedly containing
about $1.6 million in stacks of $100 bills, all airlifted by the ton
straight from the Federal Reserve and set down in the Iraqi sun like
rotting fruit, small mountains of your tax dollars earmarked to buy off
various warlords and pay for covert, unauthorized operations all over the
Middle East in an attempt to buy our way into some sort of impossible,
forced stability. Right.

Or maybe it's the bodies, the sheer waste of American flesh, not merely
the thousands of U.S. dead or even the countless tens of thousands of dead
Iraqi citizens but also the lesser-known horrors, like the epidemic of
brain-damaged U.S. soldiers, thousands of them, so many that they're
becoming their own category of study in medical textbooks given how
they're beginning to exhibit combinations of trauma doctors have never
seen before.

What a recruitment poster this is. Come fight in the American military.
We're exhausted, overstretched, bewildered, have lowered our entrance
barrier to accept D-grade students and former inmates, have almost zero
idea what we're actually fighting for, and serve under a Commander in
Chief who cares more about trying to shore up his wretched legacy than for
the loss of American life. Oh and by the way, odds are extremely high you
will return home permanently wounded, traumatized, or brain damaged. How
very proud we are.

We all know the current reality: We are not safer. We are not better off
in any measurable way. We are not stronger or more unified or prouder or
more respected or healthier or wealthier or wiser and we have done exactly
zero to stem the flood of radical Islam or the general outpouring of
global disgust at what America has become under this president. This is
our scar. This is our great American shame.

So, what do you do with it? Or with the prospect of still more weeks,
months, even years of this dull slog of war? Because the fact is, as
Petreaus. testimony essentially confirmed, we will be in Iraq at least
through the (blessed) end of Bush's nightmare term, and likely well
beyond, given how entrenched and ensnared our forces have become.

Perhaps we can take the long view, the wide view, the spiritual or karmic
view, even, insofar as the short and linear view has become so stifling
and deadly and useless. Perhaps this is the only way.

Because truly, many in the alternative set, the lightworkers and the gurus
and the healers and the deep teachers, those who think outside the war
room and beyond the bland academic platitudes, these people tend see Iraq,
BushCo, the American right and all the sanctimonious bleakness surrounding
them as merely the inky remnants of a passing disease, the last, vicious
gasp of a dying ideology, the violent struggle of resistance that always
erupts before any great cosmic shift.

Which is to say: The screeching of the Christian right, the shrill
alarmism from cultural conservatives regarding everything from sex and
drugs and music to gays and nipples and creationism, the rejection of
science, the attacks on women's rights, the abuse of the environment, all
the way up to the bleakest and ugliest manisfestation of all, a brutal and
unwinnable war - taken as a whole, these can, if you so choose, be seen as
merely the embers of a hugely failed - and yes, nearly extinct -

Here is the hesitant optimism, the hint of the new, the tentative
suggestion that all is not lost: By many measures, the worst of it is
over. There really is light coming, a new awareness, a shift away from the
bleakness and the rot and the wallowing in bland violence. Perhaps you can
feel it. Or perhaps you need to be ready to feel it. Either way, it's
there. You have but to do the most easy/difficult thing of all: you must
look behind the veil, see the two dueling Americas, and make your choice.

Thoughts for the author? E-mail him. Mark Morford's Notes & Errata column
appears every Wednesday and Friday on SFGate and in the Datebook section
of the San Francisco Chronicle.

 The San Francisco Chronicle

--------17 of 17--------

                        Elite heaven on earth

The ruling class is perfecting the technology to outsource jobs to hell.
Work faster or the flames burn higher. Free labor.

The main problem is transporting goods to and from; the deal with the
devil has long been made (the details are in the devil).

Once perfected, it's on to the souls in heaven. What right have angels to
sit on their superfine asses all day, playing harps and praising goodness
truth and beauty, when they could be doing their bit for the upper upper

However, it means, whether you're bad or good, in hell or in heaven, work
for The Man goes on and on and on, work without end, amen. This is only as
it should be.

Once the system is up and running, earth-side workers will be "sent early"
to their final working places. It saves salary, and preempts revolt.

Elite heaven on earth.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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