Progressive Calendar 12.14.07
From: David Shove (
Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2007 15:42:57 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    12.14.07

1. YAWR spaghetti dinner 12.14 6pm
2. La Natividad/play     12.14 6:30pm
3. Democracy/class rule  12.14 7pm
4. Leonard Peltier       12.14 7:30pm
5. Moyers/media/TV       12.14 9pm
6. Queer women's night   12.14 9pm

7. Dave Lindorff - Slash military spending by 75 percent
8. Sherry Wolf   - Freedom to starve: why the left should reject Ron Paul

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From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: YAWR Spaghetti dinner 12.14 6pm

YAWR Spaghetti Dinner

Friday, December 14, 6:00 p.m. Walker Community United Methodist Church,
3104 16th Avenue South, Minneapolis. Come to a spaghetti dinner cooked by
the fine chefs of Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR) and listen to
featured short speeches and entertainment by YAWR activists. Suggested
donation: $10.00 to $100.00. Sponsored by: YAWR; endorsed by WAMM. FFI and
to RSVP: Email <against.war [at]>.

--------2 of 8--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: La Natividad/play 12.14 6:30pm


This holiday season, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre
(HOBT) takes The Nativity Story to the streets!  Audiences will be part of
the play as they move with the performers for a real journey in this
bilingual production of the story of the Holy Child being born in our
midst -- here in Midtown Minneapolis.  Last year, the three performances
sold out quickly, so another weekend of shows has been added.  "La
Natividad" opens *Friday, December 14 and runs through Saturday, December
22; six shows only*.  This remarkable holiday presentation brings
community and performers together in a heart-warming experience that
combines puppetry, street theatre and a traditional Latino "La Posada"
procession.  Told with HOBT's signature visual beauty and soulful live
music, "La Natividad" is an utterly unique, unforgettable community

In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre
1500 E. Lake Street, Minneapolis

Performance dates
Friday, December 14 - 6:30pm
Saturday, December 15 - 6:30pm
Sunday, December 16 - 6:30pm

Thursday, December 20 - 6:30pm
Friday, December 21 - 6:30pm
Saturday, December 22 - 6:30pm

$16/child under 12 and groups of 10+
Only $10/person for groups and individuals who live in the Powderhorn,
Central, Phillips or Corcoran neighborhoods
Performed in English and Spanish.  Approximately 2 hours long including
HOBT Box Office 612.721.2535 or online at ***

Audiences should be mobile and dressed appropriately for the outdoors; the
procession is 2.5 blocks long.  Please notify HOBT of any special needs at
least one week in advance.

--------3 of 8--------

From: Jeff Miller <jtmiller [at]>
Subject: Democracy/class rule 12.14 7pm

Democracy or Class Rule: Who really owns and governs America today, and how
"We the People" can unite to take back our country.
Friday, Dec. 14, 7:00 pm.
MayDay Bookstore, 301 Cedar, West Bank
Presented by Campaign for A Working Democracy: 952-938-1935

--------4 of 8--------

From: ry [at]
Subject: Leonard Peltier 12.14 7:30pm

Toy Drive and Feast for Leonard Peltier
Friday, December 14, 2007
7:30pm - 10:30pm
Seward Cafe
2129 E Franklin Ave
Minneapolis, MN

Live Music!!! Including: Kyle Johnson (acoustic) Art Lipatan (acoustic)
And More TBA

Please bring a new toy or gift, or warm winter clothes (sizes S-XXL) (or)
suggested donation of $5-15

About the Leonard Peltier Holiday Gift Drive:
The Lakota People have four values to live by: bravery, wisdom,
generosity, and fortitude. Generosity (Wacantognaka) is essential to a
Lakota. It is better to give a lot than to have a lot. The best way to
honor people is through giveaways (otuhan) where the givers share much of
what they have with others, sometimes giving away everything in their
possession. Leonard Peltier offers all his supporters an opportunity to
give something back and honor the Lakota people. He respectfully requests
your help making these holidays a little brighter and this winter a little
warmer for the children at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Respectfully, Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

--------5 of 8--------

From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at]>
Subject: Moyers/media/TV 12.14 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | Keith Olbermann

This Friday, Bill Moyers Journal "continues its reporting on media
consolidation and gets insight from MSNBC's popular and provocative Keith

--------6 of 8--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Queer women's night 12.14 9pm

for women who want to meet women
Every 2nd Friday of the month
Twilight: Queer Women's Night
This month at the Kitty Cat Klub in Dinkytown, 315 14th Ave. SE
Doors open at 9pm
$7 Cover
21 and over

For more info email info [at] twilightgirl. or call the Kitty Cat Klub at

---------7 of 8--------

Imagine a Campaign that Called for Slashing Military Spending by 75
The First Cut is the Deepest
December 14, 2007

While the Democratic and Republican candidates for president blather on
about non-issues like who will be meaner to immigrants, who will use the
most water on torture victims, who wanted to be president at the youngest
age, who's the best Christian and other such nonsense, and while Congress
and the president dance their meaningless dance of pretend conflict, let's
for a moment ponder something more momentous.

What if the US just packed up and left Iraq and Afghanistan, and brought
the troops all home, shut down the 750-odd overseas bases we operate
around the globe, and slashed our military budget by 75 percent?

That would be an instant savings of roughly $365 billion per year.

Now, the first thing we need to do is address the criticism that such an
action would be abandoning the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, whose
countries we have been systematically destroying for the last four to six

Okay. I agree we have an obligation here. So let's allocate say $50
billion in annual aid to those two countries, to be funneled through
international aid organizations, from the U.N. to CARE and the Red
Cross/Red Crescent.

That still leaves $315 billion in funds to play with.

We also have to address those who will ask fearfully if we aren't opening
ourselves to attack from our many enemies abroad.

But hold on a minute. If we cut the US military budget down to a paltry
$115 billion a year, that would still leave us with by far the largest
military budget in the entire world. The next biggest spender on its
military is China, at $62.5 billion, followed by Russia, at $62 billion.
That is to say, our military budget, if slashed by three quarters, would
still be about equal to Russia's and China's military budgets combined.
And that only tells part of the story. Most of China's army is a
repressive police force, required to keep order in what is a widely
despised dictatorship, and would never be available for foreign
adventures. (That's why China, with a million or more soldiers, hasn't
ever invaded Taiwan, with a population of just 23 million. The army China
could spare for an invasion would probably be no larger than the one
little Taiwan could field to defend itself.) The same can be said for
Russia, which is eternally in danger of splitting apart into myriad
smaller states, and has to be held together by threat of force. Figuring
that neither China nor Russia is likely to attack us anyway, given that
one needs us to buy all the junk they make, and the other needs us to buy
their oil, maybe we should look at those "axis of evil" states and their
ilk, that might think we're easy pickin's if we were to slash our military

Well, maybe not. It turns out if you add up all the military budgets of
America's other "major" enemies - those so-called "rogue" states like
Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria - and throw in a few extra
possible hostiles for good measure like Myanmar, Somalia and, oh, what the
heck, Grenada (you never know when that troublesome little island might
have another revolution!), it comes to a grand total of $15 billion spent
on military stuff. That's less than one-seventh of what we'd still be

And of course we wouldn't be alone. Our allies - Britain, Germany, France,
Japan, Israel, Holland, Canada, Italy, Australia, South Korea and Spain
for example, though there are surely more who would come to our aid in a
crisis - collectively spend another $258 billion on their militaries (and
yet even today we have our military based in many of those countries. Go
figure!). So we would hardly be at anybody's mercy.

We could even take a few billion of that $115 military budget and shift it
productively from our huge and useless strategic nuclear program (you
know, the one that just lost six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles for 36
hours, and flew them across the country, unprotected and unnoticed) over
to operations like border patrol, satellite monitoring, and the Coast
Guard, where it might actually help protect us, instead of just funding
futuristic weapons that will never be used for anything but helping
generals justify their stars by having units to command.

So here we would be with still, by a factor of two, the largest and most
advanced military in the world, but at peace and with $315 billion a year
suddenly freed up and at our disposal.

What might we do with all that money?

Well, for starters, if we accept for argument's sake that the Social
Security System is running at a deficit and will eventually be defunded
(which, by the way, I do not for a minute believe), actuaries say that
injecting about $130 billion a year into the fund (the equivalent of
increasing everyone's SSI payroll tax by 2 percent) would solve the
alleged problem indefinitely, allowing all current and future Americans to
count on an inflation-adjusted secure retirement forever. So let's do
that. Then there's education. Currently, the federal government spends
about $58 billion a year on education. That gives us classroom sizes in
our cities of 30-35 kids (40 here in Philadelphia). That's not education -
that's child abuse (and teacher abuse). So what say we boost that amount
by 50 percent - a much better educational reform than a lot of stupid "No
Child Left Behind" testing regimens. Then there's healthcare, on which the
government spends a paltry $52 billion, leaving us with declining life
expectancies and infant mortality rates, particularly among our poorest
citizens, that are a scandal. Let's boost that spending by 50 percent,

Geez! We still have another $130 billion left!

The federal government right now only spends some $40 billion a year on
science, energy and the environment. That includes nuclear power and waste
containment, and the entire NASA budget. Given the global climate change
disaster we're facing, we should probably double that, with the added $40
billion going all to environmental research, don't you think?

Now we're left with $90 billion.

Well, it turns out that's about what the government spends on "social
programs." You know, like welfare - the thing that we were supposedly
ending? Truth is, of course, that over the last decade, the number of poor
people and hungry people in the US has been rising, not falling, so maybe
we should rethink that "ending welfare as we know it" mantra, and start
thinking about improving the lives of those at the bottom of the ladder.
That extra $90 billion, by doubling social programs - especially if it was
spent on housing and job creation - would go a long way towards making
America a better place for all. It would also reduce crime significantly,
meaning we'd have a whole lot of money freed up that currently goes to
police and prisons, so we could spent that money on other good stuff too.

So who's going to make this eminently sensible proposal?

I'm frankly sick to death of hearing about how "tough" our next president
is going to be.

Our current president has shown just what being tough is good for:
nothing. The country is less safe, we've got 80,000 returned soldiers
suffering from life-long injuries, we've made enemies out of friends all
over the world, and this country's been going down the tube, with
joblessness rising, the economy teetering and the once mighty dollar
headed for Third World currency status.

Until I hear political candidates start talking about slashing military
spending - and I mean on the order of 75 percent, none of this
nickel-and-dime stuff, and about funding the things that really need
funding - I'm not even listening to these moronic campaigns.

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]

--------8 of 8--------

The Freedom to Starve
Why the Left Should Reject Ron Paul
December 12, 2007

"POLITICS, LIKE nature, abhors a vacuum," goes the revamped aphorism.
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul's surprising stature among a
small but vocal layer of antiwar activists and leftist bloggers appears to
bear this out.

At the October 27, 2007, antiwar protests in dozens of cities noticeable
contingents of supporters carried his campaign placards and circulated
sign-up sheets. The Web site features a weekly Ron Paul
column. Some even dream of a Left-Right gadfly alliance for the 2008
ticket. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, liberal maverick and
Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich told supporters in late
November he was thinking of making Ron Paul his running mate if he were to
get the nomination.

No doubt, the hawkish and calculating Hillary Rodham Clinton and flaccid
murmurings of Barack Obama, in addition to the uninspiring state of the
antiwar movement that backed a prowar candidate in 2004, help fuel the
desperation many activists feel. But leftists must unequivocally reject
the reactionary libertarianism of this longtime Texas congressman and 1988
Libertarian Party presidential candidate.

Ron Paul's own campaign Web site reads like the objectivist rantings of
Ayn Rand, one of his theoretical mentors. As with the Atlas Shrugged
author's other acolytes, neocon guru Milton Friedman and former Federal
Reserve chair Alan Greenspan, Paul argues, "Liberty means free-market
capitalism." He opposes "big government" and in the isolationist fashion
of the nation's Pat Buchanans, he decries intervention in foreign nation's
affairs and believes membership in the United Nations undermines U.S.

Naturally, it is not Ron Paul's paeans to the free market that some
progressives find so appealing, but his unwavering opposition to the war
in Iraq and consistent voting record against all funding for the war. His
straightforward speaking style, refusal to accept the financial perks of
office, and his repeated calls for repealing the Patriot Act distinguish
him from the snakeoil salesmen who populate Congress.

Paul is no power-hungry, poll-tested shyster. Even the liberalish chat
show hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar on "The View" gave a friendly
reception to Paul's folksy presentation, despite his paleoconservative
views on abortion, which he - a practicing obstetrician - argues is

Though Paul is unlikely to triumph in the primaries, it is worth taking
stock not only of his actual positions, but more importantly the
libertarian underpinnings that have wooed so many self-described leftists
and progressives. Because at its core, the fetishism of individualism that
underlies libertarianism leads to the denial of rights to the very people
most radicals aim to champion - workers, immigrants, Blacks, women, gays,
and any group that lacks the economic power to impose their individual
rights on others.

Ron Paul's positions

A cursory look at Paul's positions, beyond his opposition to the war and
the Patriot Act, would make any leftist cringe.

Put simply, he is a racist. Not the cross-burning, hood-wearing kind to be
sure, but the flat Earth society brand that imagines a colorblind world
where 500 years of colonial history and slavery are dismissed out of hand
and institutional racism and policies under capitalism are imagined away.
As his campaign Web site reads:

"The true antidote to racism is liberty. Liberty means having a limited,
constitutional government devoted to the protection of individual rights
rather than group claims. Liberty means free-market capitalism, which
rewards individual achievement and competence - not skin color, gender, or

Paul was more blunt writing in his independent political newsletter
distributed to thousands of supporters in 1992. Citing statistics from a
study that year produced by the National Center on Incarceration and
Alternatives, Paul concluded: "Given the inefficiencies of what DC
laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume
that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or
entirely criminal." Reporting on gang crime in Los Angeles, Paul
commented: "If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you
know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be."

His six-point immigration plan appears to have been cribbed from the
gun-toting vigilante Minutemen at the border. "A nation without secure
borders is no nation at all. It makes no sense to fight terrorists abroad
when our own front door is left unlocked," reads his site. And he
advocates cutting off all social services to undocumented immigrants,
including hospitals, schools, clinics, and even roads (how would that

"The public correctly perceives that neither political party has the
courage to do what is necessary to prevent further erosion of both our
border security and our national identity," he wrote in a 2005 article.
"Unfortunately, the federal government seems more intent upon guarding the
borders of other nations than our own." The article argues that, "Our
current welfare system also encourages illegal immigration by discouraging
American citizens from taking low-wage jobs." The solution: end welfare so
that everyone will be forced to work at slave wages. In order that
immigrants not culturally dilute the nation, he proposes that "All federal
government business should be conducted in English."

Though he rants about his commitment to the Constitution, he introduced an
amendment altering the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteeing citizenship to
anyone born in the United States, saying in a 2006 article: "Birthright
citizenship, originating in the 14th amendment, has become a serious
cultural and economic dilemma for our nation. We must end the perverse
incentives that encourage immigrants to come here illegally, including the
anchor baby incentive."

Here we come up against the limits of libertarianism - Paul wants a strong
state to secure the borders, but he wants all social welfare expenditures
eliminated for those within them.

Paul is quite vocal these days about his rank opposition to abortion -
"life begins at conception," he argues. He promotes a "states' rights"
position on abortion - that decades old hobgoblin of civil rights
opponents. And he has long opposed sexual harassment legislation, writing
in his 1988 book Freedom Under Siege (available online), "Why don't they
quit once the so-called harassment starts?" In keeping with his small
government worldview, he goes on to argue against the government's right
"to tell an airline it must hire unattractive women if it does not want

In that same book, written as the AIDS crisis was laying waste to the
American gay male population prompting the rise of activist groups
demanding research and drugs, Paul attacked AIDS sufferers as "victims of
their own lifestyle." And in a statement that gives a glimpse of the
ruling-class tyranny of individualism he asserts that AIDS victims
demanding rushed drug trials were impinging on "the rights of insurance
company owners."

Paul wants to abolish the Department of Education and, in his words, "end
the federal education monopoly" by eliminating all taxes that go toward
public education and "giving educational control back to parents." Which
parents would those be? Only those with the leisure time, educational
training, and temperament commensurate with home schooling! Whatever real
problems the U.S. education system suffers from - and there are many -
eliminating 99 percent literacy rates that generations of public education
has achieved and tossing the children of working parents out of the
schools is not an appealing or viable option.

Paul also opposes equal pay for equal work, a minimum wage, and,
naturally, trade unions. In 2007, he voted against restricting employers'
rights to interfere in union drives and against raising the federal
minimum wage to $7.25. In 2001, he voted for zero-funding for OSHA's
Ergonomics Rules, instead of the $4.5 billion. At least he's consistent.

Libertarians like Paul are for removing any legislative barriers that may
restrict business owners' profits, but are openly hostile to alleviating
economic restrictions that oppress most workers. Only a boss could embrace
this perverse concept of "freedom."

Individualism versus collectivism

There is a scene in Monty Python's satire Life of Brian where Brian, not
wanting to be the messiah, calls out to the crowd: "You are all
individuals." The crowd responds in unison: "We are all individuals."

Libertarians, using pseudo-iconoclastic logic, transform this comical
send-up of religious conformity into their own secular dogma in which we
are all just atomized beings. "Only an individual has rights," not groups
such as workers, Blacks, gays, women, and minorities, Ron Paul argues.
True, we are all individuals, but we didn't just bump into one another.
Human beings by nature are social beings who live in a collective, a
society. Under capitalism, society is broken down into classes in which
some individuals - bosses, for example - wield considerably more power
than others - workers.

To advocate for society to be organized on the basis of strict
individualism, as libertarians do, is to argue that everyone has the right
to do whatever he or she wants. Sounds nice in the abstract, perhaps. But
what happens when the desires of one individual infringe on the desires of
another? Libertarians like Paul don't shy away from the logical
ramifications of their argument. "The dictatorial power of a majority" he
argues ought to be replaced by the unencumbered power of individuals - in
other words, the dictatorial power of a minority.

So if the chairman of Dow Chemical wants to flush his company's toxic
effluence into rivers and streams, so be it. If General Motors wants to
pay its employees starvation wages, that's their right too. Right-wing
libertarians often appear to not want to grapple with meddlesome things
like economic and social power. As the bourgeois radical Abraham Lincoln
observed of secessionist slaveowners, "The perfect liberty they seek is
the liberty of making slaves of other people."

Too much government?

Unwavering hostility to government and its collection of taxes is another
hallmark of libertarianism. Given the odious practices of governments
under capitalism, their repugnant financial priorities, and bilking of the
lower classes through taxation it's hardly surprising that libertarians
get a hearing.

But the conclusion that the problem is "big government" strips the content
from the form. Can any working-class perspective seriously assert that we
have too much government involvement in providing health care? Too much
oversight of the environment, food production, and workplace safety? Would
anyone seriously consider hopping a flight without the certainty of
national, in fact international, air traffic control? Of course not. The
problem doesn't lie with some abstract construct, "government," the
problem is that the actual class dynamics of governments under capitalism
amount to taxing workers and the poor in lieu of the rich and powerful
corporations and spending those resources on wars, environmental
devastation, and the enrichment of a tiny swath of society at the expense
of the rest of us.

Ron Paul argues, "Government by majority rule has replaced strict
protection of the individual from government abuse. Right of property
ownership has been replaced with the forced redistribution of wealth and
property" Few folks likely to be reading this publication will agree that
we actually live in a society where wealth and property are expropriated
from the rich and given to workers and the poor. Even the corporate media
admit that there has been a wholesale redistribution of wealth in the
opposite direction. But Paul exposes here the class nature of
libertarianism - it is the provincial political outlook of the
middle-class business owner obsessed with guarding his lot. As online
anti-libertarian writer Ernest Partridge puts it in "Liberty for some":

"Complaints against "big government" and "over-regulation," though often
justified, also issue from the privileged who are frustrated at finding
that their quest for still greater privileges at the expense of their
community are curtailed by a government which, ideally, represents that
community. Pure food and drug laws curtail profits and mandate tests as
they protect the general public."

In fact, the libertarians' opposition to the government, or the state if
you will, is less out of hostility to what the state actually does than
who is running it. Perhaps this explains Paul's own clear contradiction
when it comes to abortion, since his opposition to government intervention
stops at a woman's uterus. But freedom for socialists has always been
about more than the right to choose masters. Likewise, Paul appears to be
for "small government" except when it comes to using its power to restrict
immigration. His personal right to not have any undocumented immigrants in
the U.S. seems to trump the right of free movement of individuals, but not
capital, across borders.

Right-wing libertarians, quite simply, oppose the state only insofar as it
infringes the right of property owners.

Left-Right alliance?

Some antiwar activists and leftists desperate to revitalize a flagging
antiwar movement make appeals to the Left to form a Left-Right bloc with
Ron Paul supporters. Even environmental activist and left-wing author
Joshua Frank, who writes insightful and often scathing attacks on liberal
Democrats' capitulations to reactionary policies, recently penned an
article citing - though not endorsing - Paul's campaign in calling for
leftist antiwar activists to reach out to form a sort of Left-Right
antiwar alliance. He argues, "Whether we're beer swilling rednecks from
Knoxville or mushroom eatin' hippies from Eugene, we need to come
together," ("Embracing a new antiwar movement").

Supporters of Ron Paul who show up to protests should have their
reactionary conclusions challenged, not embraced. Those of his supporters
who are wholly ignorant of his broader politics beyond the war, should be
educated about them. And those who advocate his noxious politics, should
be attacked for their racism, immigrant bashing, and hostility to the
values a genuine Left champions. The sort of Left-Right alliance Frank
advocates is not only opportunistic, but is also a repellent to creating
the multiracial working-class movement that is sorely needed of we are to
end this war. What Arabs, Blacks, Latinos - and antiracist whites, for
that matter - would ever join a movement that accommodates to this
know-nothing brand of politics?

Discontent with the status quo and the drumbeat of electoralism is driving
many activists and progressives to seek out political alternatives. But
libertarianism is no radical political solution to inequality, violence,
and misery. When the likes of Paul shout: "We need freedom to choose!" we
need to ask, "Yes, but freedom for whom?" Because the freedom to starve to
death is the most dubious freedom of all.

Sherry Wolf is on the editorial board of the International Socialist
Review. She can be reached at sherry [at]


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