Progressive Calendar 06.03.08
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2008 00:00:03 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    06.03.08

1. 3CD Greens     6.03 7pm
2. Protest Obama  6.03 7pm
3. CIA/Ask Weiner 6.03 7pm

4. Green env      6.04 5pm
5. Mexico/film    6.04 6pm
6. Green Phillips 6.04 6pm
7. Young writers  6.04 6pm
8. MPN4P MerriamP 6.04 7pm
9. Health forum   6.04 7pm
10. McKinney meet 6.04 8pm

11. William Blum - Parts of the CIA story: Tim Weiner's "Legacy of Ashes"
12. Chris Hedges - The corporate state & the subversion of democracy

--------1 of 12--------

From: alforgreens [at] comcast.net
Subject: 3CD Greens 6.03 7pm

3rd Congressional District Green Party local meeting

Interested in Learning about the Political Process?
Tired of all the same old two party rhetoric and cliches?  Join us in some
stimulating discussions about bringing back democracy for all voters.  A
few people can bring about change.

Join us on at 7 PM Tuesday, June 3, in room 172 at the Ridgedale Library,
12601 Ridgedale Dr. Minnetonka.  People from all party affiliations are
invited.

The Green Party of MN is part of the Green Movement working in coalition
with over 80 countries worldwide.  The platform of the party is based on
its ten key values of Grassroots Democracy, Non-violence, Social and
Economic Justice, Ecological Wisdom, Community-Based Economics,
Decentralization, Feminism and Gender Equity, Future Focus and
Sustainability, Respect for Diversity and Personal and Global
Responsibility.

The Green Party IS the only party advocating immediate withdrawal of all
military and contract fighting forces from Iraq, single payer universal
health care, federal and state funded campaign financing, elimination of
all nuclear weapons, end of corporate personhood, guaranteed voter rights
(one person, one vote), renegotiation of all global trade agreements AND
repeal the anti-union Taft-Hartley law.

For more information www.mngreen.org and www.gp.org
Any questions or need a ride please contact:
Allan Hancock, Chair 3rd Congressional District Green Party (763)-561-9758
or 3rdCDGreenParty [at] gmail.com


--------2 of 12--------

From: rnc08 [at] riseup.net
Subject: Protest Obama 6.03 7pm

CALL FOR GROUPS OF 24 OR LESS TO PROTEST OBAMA ON JUNE 3

This Tuesday, June 3 Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at the Xcel Energy
Center in St. Paul, MN. The event - which is free and open to the public -
is doors at 7pm, talking heads at 8.

Now, Barack may be a hottie, and his booming voice may send pleasurable
chills down our spine every time we hear it, but the fact remains that he
offers the word "hope" with no real action to inspire it.  We oppose the
War, the Border, the continued devastation of our shared Earth. We oppose
this system in which maintaining a decent standard of living for yourself
and your loved ones gets harder every day, and where getting by means
compromising yourself to play someone else's game.  Obama doesn't offer
solutions - in fact, he can't, because the system he serves thrives on the
backs of the disempowered, and the injustices we oppose are the very
things his government needs to survive.

This is a call for groups of 24 or less to show up to the Xcel Center on
June 3rd and do something - anything - to show the DNC that we'd crash
their convention just as hard as we'll be crashing the Republicans' come
September 1st.  24 is a very powerful number in anarcho-mysticism and,
coincidentally, one less than the number of people whose assembly requires
a permit within the City of St. Paul.  You don't need the masses to take
action, you just need yourself and up to 23 comrades! So round 'em up and
do your (autonomous, 24-person) thing on June 3.

Yes. We. Can.

For an end to this electoral farce, the RNC Welcoming Committee
http://www.NoRNC.org

P.S.- To read the St. Paul City Ordinance requiring that groups of more
than 25 have a permit to assemble, go here:
http://www.stpaul.gov/web/CityCode/lc366a.html.

P.P.S.- And we wish we could truthfully say that acting within the
confines of the law is a guarantee that you won't get arrested but, of
course, we can't.  If you need jail support Tuesday evening or anytime,
call the Cold Snap Hotline, (651) 356-8635.


--------3 of 12--------

From: david unowsky <david.unowsky [at] gmail.com>
Subject: CIA/Ask Weiner 6.03 7pm

[I was informed that Weiner overlooks some very basic sources.  See the
review by William Blum, below, item 11. Joan Malerich wrote Blum; here is
his reply:

Joan,
Thanks very much for publicizing Killing Hope [Blum's book];and for
sending out my review of Weiner's book.  He's appearing in person I
gather.  It would be nice if someone asked him about all that he left out.
He knows that I caught him.  I exchanged a couple of emails with him in
which he said he'd read my review, but he didn't make any attempt to
refute or correct what I wrote. Best, Bill]

Tuesday, June 3 7pm at Minneapolis Central Library
TALK OF THE STACKS: Tim Weiner discusses A Legacy of Ashes: The History of
the CIA

Talk of the Stacks is a reading series at the Minneapolis Central Library
exploring contemporary literature and culture. Readings are held at the
Minneapolis Central Library, BaseballScam Hall, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.

The programs are free with open seating to the public. Book sale and signing
follow presentations. Call 612-630-6174 for more info.


--------4 of 12--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org>
Subject: Green env 6.04 5pm

June 4: Women's Environmental Institute. Green Housekeeping, Green
Schools, Green Neighborhoods: How to Make it Sustainable. Meet Ellen
Sandbeck, author of Organic Housekeeping, Green Housekeeping and Slug
Bread and Beheaded Thistles: Amusing & Useful Techniques for Nontoxic
Housekeeping and Gardening. Learn more about WEI's EcoAware Project and
WEI's EJEAC Project. 5 - 8 PM at Park House, 2120 Park Avenue,
Minneapolis.


--------5 of 12--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Mexico/film 6.04 6pm

MEXICAN FILM :"Guerrilla Woman"
Minneapolis Screening of "Mujer Guerrilla (Guerrilla Woman)"
Wednesday June 4, 2008 at 6pm
Center for Independent Artists - El Colegio 4137 Bloomington
Avenue, South Minneapolis

During the 60's, 70's and 80's, many young men and women of Mexico
questioned the system as well as the society they lived in, particularly
the agony of hunger, poverty, lack of housing and overall injustice
terrorizing their people. Their response was to organize in order to
confront the misery that they could no longer turn a blind eye to. In
1968, a culminating year for social movements around the world, the
Mexican government unleashed its fury upon a crowd of tens of thousands of
participants at a political rally in the Plaza of Three Cultures at
Tlatelolco, Mexico City. Thousands were murdered, forcefully disappeared,
or tortured that day at an event that would mark a changing point in the
lives of many Leftist political militants who would from then on take up
arms as a means of struggle against the barbaric institution of oppression
that was being used to stop them at all costs.

Mujer Guerrilla (Guerrilla Woman) is a documentary by Producciones Patitos
of Mexico City that delves into the history of the Mexican guerrilla
movement with a focus on the participation of women. Told through the
testimonies of four ex-guerrillas from four different armed groups, the
film shows the context that these women were living in, what they did and
why they did it. From being tortured in the dungeons of Military Camp #1
by the likes of Miguel Nazar Haro, ex-director of the Mexican Federal
Directorate of Security who was trained in anti-subversive torture tactics
at the School of the Americas, and being a mother in prison to recovering
from bullet wounds on a hijacked plane on the way to exile in Cuba, the
women narrate their past and reflect on their thoughts on the present and
the future. The commentaries of Mexican political analysts and experts on
the guerrilla war (also called "The Dirty War") Carlos Fazio and Carlos
Montemayor take us into the twisted politics of a government that on the
outside accepted masses of political exiles from South and Central America
while sucking nearly all of the life and vitality out of a generation of
students, workers, doctors, and teachers who refused to remain silent
amongst the brutality, cynicism and impunity of the powers that be in
Mexico.

With the vicious repression against social-political organizations and
civilians that has been taking place in Atenco, Oaxaca, and Chiapas, the
militarization of practically the entire country for the supposed war
against drug traffickers, and the military and public security forces'
ongoing practice of rape, torture, extrajudicial detentions, and forced
disappearances as a continuation of the anti-guerrilla tactics of the
past, it appears as though Mexico is reliving a past that never really
ended. Just three weeks ago, one of the main perpetrators of
anti-guerrilla operations, General Mario Arturo Acosta Chaparro, notorious
for orchestrating vuelos de muerte, which from 1974 to 1978 regularly
loaded military planes with massacred activists and threw them out into
the Pacific Ocean in the middle of the night, was retired with military
honors in a ceremony in Mexico where his work was referred to as a
"faithful testimony to a patriotic life" with a "spirit of dedication to
Mexico and its institutions." As Carlos Fazio states in the film, "The
peoples without memory never end up bringing their internal crises to an
end."

Following the screening, which will simultaneously be taking place at la
Fundación Rosa Luxemburgo in Mexico City, there will be a videoconference
live from Mexico City with these four unforgettable women along with the
filmmakers of the documentary.

Contacts:
Heather Harper, organizer in the Twin Cities 651-222-2636
Jerry Lopez, organizer in the Twin Cities 612-388-0552
Valentina Lopez de Cea, filmmaker (Mexico City) 011-52-155-1644-9793


--------6 of 12--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org>
Subject: Green Phillips 6.04 6pm

June 4, Phillips Community Environmental Justice Forum Follow-up: "Clean
Green Phillips." 6 - 9 PM at Park House, 2120 Park Ave. S., Minneapolis.
Follow-up meeting we will initiate environmental justice strategies and
what needs changing in the Phillips and surrounding communities.


--------7 of 12--------

From: Julie Bates <julie [at] intermediaarts.org>
Subject: Young writers 6.04 6pm

calling all youth ...
Young Writers!
Network :: Socialize :: Write :: Perform :: Workshop
Don't Miss the Summer Kickoff - This Wednesday!

Young Writers Summer Kickoff
Wednesday, June 4th, 2008
6-8PM at Intermedia Art
2822 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis
Ages 19 and under
$2 suggested donation for pizza!

This monthly gathering is the spot for creative young voices! A place for
young writers (ages 19 and under) to meet other youth writers, workshop
their writing, work with local artists, participate in public literary
readings and have fun! Grab your notebook and head over to Intermedia Arts
this Wednesday to find out what Young Writers! is all about.

You won't want to miss this.
For details, call or email: (612) 871-4444 or info [at] intermediaarts.org

Julie Bates, Literary Programs Manager Intermedia Arts 2822 Lyndale Avenue
South Minneapolis, MN 55408 Tel: 612.874.2815 Fax: 612.871.6927 Email:
julie [at] intermediaarts.org Web: www.intermediaarts.org


--------8 of 12--------

From: Krista Menzel <krista [at] kristamenzel.com>
Subject: MPN4P MerriamPk 6.04 7pm

Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace Meeting
Every first Wednesday
7:00-9:00 p.m.
Merriam Park Library - Meeting Room B (in basement)
1831 Marshall Avenue (at Fairview Avenue), St. Paul

Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace meets the first Wednesday of each month
at 7:00 at the Merriam Park Library. All are welcome!
Free, and open to the public.
More Info: http://www.mppeace.org/events.htm or info [at] mppeace.org or Anne
at (651) 647-0580 or Krista at (651) 641-7592


--------9 of 12--------

From: Joel Clemmer <joel [at] joelclemmer.org>
Subject: Health forum 6.04 7pm

Two free and open public forums on "America's Failing Health Care" -
Solutions and Proposals, will be presented Wednesday, June 4, at 7 p.m. at
the Sabes Jewish Community Center, 4330 S. Cedar Lake Road, Minneapolis
and Wednesday, June 26, at 7 p.m. at the St. Paul Jewish Community Center,
1375 St. Paul Avenue, St. Paul.

Sponsored by the Jewish Community Centers and Jewish Community Action of
St. Paul, these forums are an opportunity for the public to engage in a
public discourse and understanding of current health care delivery
systems, find out about proposed solutions, and learn the contents and
status of Minnesota's Universal Health Act bills SF 2324, HF 2522 and SF
3099, HF 3391.

On June 4, speakers will include Minnesota State Representative Paul
Thissen, chair of the Minnesota House of Representatives Health and Human
Services Committee; John Schwarz, M.A., Director of United Health System;
Joel Albers, Pharm.D., Ph.D, health economics researcher, and clinical
pharmacist and founding member of the Universal Health Care Action Network
of Minnesota and; Elizabeth Frost, M.D., family practitioner at La Clinica
which serves a predominantly uninsured clientele and co-founder of the
Minnesota chapter of Physicians for a National Health Plan. Our moderator
will be Arthur T. Himmelman, a nationally recognized consultant on
community and systems change collaboration and formerly a senior fellow at
the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, and a senior program officer at
The McKnight Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation. "America's Failing
Health Care" - Solutions and Proposals pg 2 of 2

For the June 26 event, speakers will include John Schwarz, M.A., United
Health System Director; Eric Menniger, M.D., medical director of Outreach
at the Community University Heal Care Center, and Health and Wellness
Clinic; and moderator Arthur T. Himmelman.

Forums are free and open to the public.  For further information contact
Howard Stolz, (320) 543-3693.


--------10 of 12--------

From:   Amber Garlan <agarlan [at] hammclinic.org>
Subject: McKinney meet 6.04 8pm

The Cynthia McKinney campaign will meet at Trotter's in St. Paul at 8:00
pm this Wednesday 6/4/08. If you can't make the meeting, but want to know
what is going on please call Heidi at 65 245-3900.

We will be planning strategy for the presidential nomination at the state
Green Party convention this weekend in Mankato. We will also discuss the
Republican National Convention 9/1/08 through 9/4/08.  Different protest
marches are being planned by different groups.


--------11 of 12--------

Parts of the CIA Story
Tim Weiner's "Legacy of Ashes"
By WILLIAM BLUM
CounterPunch
September 12, 2007

In 1971 the New York Times published its edition of the Pentagon Papers,
based on the government documents concerning Vietnam policy which had been
borrowed by Daniel Ellsberg. In its preface to the book, the Times
commented about certain omissions and distortions in the government's view
of political and historical realities as reflected in the papers:
"Clandestine warfare against North Vietnam, for example, is not seen ...
as violating the Geneva Accords of 1954, which ended the French Indochina
War, or as conflicting with the public policy pronouncements of the
various administrations. Clandestine warfare, because it is covert, does
not exist as far as treaties and public posture are concerned. Further,
secret commitments to other nations are not sensed as infringing on the
treaty-making powers of the Senate, because they are not publicly
acknowledged."

In his new book, "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA", New York Times
reporter Tim Weiner also relies heavily on government documents in
deciding what events to include and what not to, and the result is often
equally questionable. "This book," Weiner writes, "is on the record -- no
anonymous sources, no blind quotations, no hearsay. It is the first
history of the CIA compiled entirely from firsthand reporting and primary
documents."(p.xvii)

Thus, if US government officials did not put something in writing or if
someone did not report their firsthand experience concerning a particular
event, to Tim Weiner the event doesn't exist, or at least is not worth
recounting. British journalist Stewart Steven has written: "If we believe
that contemporary history must be told on the basis of documentary
evidence before it becomes credible, then we must also accept that
everything will either be written with the government's seal of approval
or not be written at all."

As to firsthand reporting, for Weiner it apparently has to be from someone
"reputable". Former CIA officer Philip Agee wrote a 1974 book, "Inside the
Company: CIA Diary", that provides more detail about CIA covert operations
in Latin America than any book ever written. And it was certainly
firsthand. But Agee and his revelations are not mentioned at all in
Weiner's book. Could it be because Agee, in the process of becoming the
Agency's leading dissident, also became a socialist radical and close ally
of Cuba?

Former CIA officer John Stockwell also penned a memoir ("In Search of
Enemies", 1978), revealing lots of CIA dirty laundry in Africa. He later
also became a serious Agency dissident, and the Weiner book ignores him as
well.

Also ignored: Joseph Burkholder Smith, another Agency officer, not quite a
left-wing dissident like Agee or Stockwell but a heavy critic nonetheless,
entitled his memoir "Portrait of a Cold Warrior" (1976), in which he
revealed numerous instances of CIA illegality and immorality in the
Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia.

There's also Cambodian leader Prince Sihanouk, who provided his firsthand
account in "My War With The CIA" (1974). Sihanouk is also a non-person in
the pages of "Legacy of Ashes".

Even worse, Weiner ignores a veritable mountain of impressive
"circumstantial" and other evidence of CIA misdeeds which doesn't meet his
stated criteria, which any thorough researcher/writer on the Agency should
give serious attention to, certainly at least mention for the record.
Among the many CIA transgressions and crimes left out of "Legacy of
Ashes", or very significantly played down, are:

*  The extensive CIA role in the 1950s provocation and sabotage activities
in East Berlin/East Germany which contributed considerably to the
communists' decision to build the Berlin Wall is not mentioned, although
the wall is discussed.

*  The US role in instigating and supporting the coup that overthrew
Sihanouk in 1970, which led directly to the rising up of the Khmer Rouge,
Pol Pot, and the infamous Cambodian "killing fields". Weiner, without
providing any source, writes: "The coup shocked the CIA and the rest of
the American government."(p.304) (See William Blum, "Killing Hope: US
Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II", p.137-8) Nor does the
book make any mention of the deliberate Washington policy to support Pol
Pot in his subsequent war with Vietnam. Pol Pot's name does not appear in
the book.

*  The criminal actions carried out by Operation Gladio, created by the
CIA, NATO, and several European intelligence services beginning in 1949.
The operation was responsible for numerous acts of terrorism in Europe,
foremost of which was the bombing of the Bologna railway station in 1980,
claiming 86 lives. The purpose of the terrorism was to place the blame for
these atrocities on the left and thus heighten public concern about a
Soviet invasion and keep the left from electoral victory in Italy, France
and elsewhere. In Weiner's book this is all down the memory hole.

*  A discussion of the alleged 1993 assassination attempt against former
president George H.W. Bush in Kuwait presents laughable evidence, yet
states: "But the CIA eventually concluded that Saddam Hussein had tried to
kill President Bush."(p.444) Weiner repeats this, apparently, solely
because it appears in a CIA memorandum. That qualifies it as a "primary
document". But what does this have to do with, y'know, the actual facts?

*  Moreover, the book scarcely scratches the surface concerning the dozens
of foreign elections the CIA has seriously interfered in; the large number
of assassination attempts, successful or unsuccessful, against foreign
political leaders; the widespread planting of phoney stories in the
international media, stories that were at times picked up in the American
press as a result; manipulation and corruption of foreign labor movements;
extensive book and magazine publishing fronts; drug trafficking; and a
virtual world atlas of overthrown governments, or attempts at same.

"A Legacy of Ashes" is generally a good read even for someone familiar
with the world of the CIA, but it's actually often rather superficial,
albeit 700 pages long. Why has so much of importance and interest been
omitted from a book which has the subtitle: "The History of the CIA"; not,
it must be noted, "A History of the CIA"?

Whatever jaundiced eye Weiner focuses on the CIA, he still implicitly
accepts the two basic beliefs of the Cold War: 1)There existed out there
something called The International Communist Conspiracy, fueled by
implacable Soviet expansionism; 2)United States foreign policy meant well.
It may have frequently been bumbling and ineffective, but its intentions
were noble. And still are.

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA
Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World's Only
Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir.
He Can be reached at BBlum6 [at] aol.com


--------12 of 12--------

The Corporate State and the Subversion of Democracy
by Chris Hedges
Published on Saturday, May 31, 2008 by TruthDig.com
Dissident Voice

Note: Chris Hedges gave this keynote address on Wednesday, May 28 at 7
p.m. in Furman University's Younts Conference Center. The address was part
of the protests by faculty and students over the South Carolina college's
decision to invite George W. Bush to give the May 31 commencement address.

When it was announced earlier this month that President Bush would deliver
the commencement address 222 students and faculty signed and posted on the
school's Web site a statement titled "We Object". The statement cites the
war in Iraq and the administration's "obstructing progress on reducing
greenhouse gases while favoring billions in tax breaks and subsidies to
oil companies that are earning record profits".

"We are ashamed of the actions of this administration. The war in Iraq has
cost the lives of over 4,000 brave and honorable U.S. military personnel,"
the statement read. "Because we love this country and the ideals it stands
for, we accept our civic responsibility to speak out against these actions
that violate American values".

---

The Corporate State and the Subversion of Democracy
by Chris Hedges

I used to live in a country called America. It was not a perfect country,
God knows, especially if you were African-American or Native American or
of Japanese descent in World War II or poor or gay or a woman or an
immigrant, but it was a country I loved and honored. This country gave me
hope that it could be better. It paid its workers wages that were envied
around the world. It made sure these workers, thanks to labor unions and
champions of the working class in the Democratic Party and the press, had
health benefits and pensions. It offered good public education. It honored
basic democratic values and held in regard the rule of law, including
international law, and respect for human rights. It had social programs
from Head Start to welfare to Social Security to take care of the weakest
among us, the mentally ill, the elderly and the destitute. It had a system
of government that, however flawed, was dedicated to protecting the
interests of its citizens. It offered the possibility of democratic
change. It had a media that was diverse and endowed with the integrity to
give a voice to all segments of society, including those beyond our
borders, to impart to us unpleasant truths, to challenge the powerful, to
explain ourselves to ourselves. I am not blind to the imperfections of
this America, or the failures to always meet these ideals at home and
abroad. I spent 20 years of my life in Latin America, Africa, the Middle
East and the Balkans as a foreign correspondent reporting in countries
where crimes and injustices were committed in our name, whether during the
Contra war in Nicaragua or the brutalization of the Palestinians by
Israeli occupation forces. But there was much that was good and decent and
honorable in our country. And there was hope.

The country I live in today uses the same words to describe itself, the
same patriotic symbols and iconography, the same national myths, but only
the shell remains. America, the country of my birth, the country that
formed and shaped me, the country of my father, my father's father, and
his father's father, stretching back to the generations of my family that
were here for the country's founding, is so diminished as to be nearly
unrecognizable. I do not know if this America will return, even as I pray
and work and strive for its return. The "consent of the governed" has
become an empty phrase. Our textbooks on political science are obsolete.
Our state, our nation, has been hijacked by oligarchs, corporations and a
narrow, selfish political elite, a small and privileged group which
governs on behalf of moneyed interests. We are undergoing, as John Ralston
Saul wrote, "a coup d'etat in slow motion". We are being impoverished -
legally, economically, spiritually and politically. And unless we soon
reverse this tide, unless we wrest the state away from corporate hands, we
will be sucked into the dark and turbulent world of globalization where
there are only masters and serfs, where the American dream will be no more
than that - a dream, where those who work hard for a living can no longer
earn a decent wage to sustain themselves or their families, whether in
sweat shops in China or the decaying rust belt of Ohio, where democratic
dissent is condemned as treason and ruthlessly silenced.

I single out no party. The Democratic Party has been as guilty as the
Republicans. It was Bill Clinton who led the Democratic Party to the
corporate watering trough. Clinton argued that the party had to ditch
labor unions, no longer a source of votes or power, as a political ally.
Workers, he insisted, would vote Democratic anyway. They had no choice. It
was better, he argued, to take corporate money. By the 1990s, the
Democratic Party, under Clinton's leadership, had virtual fundraising
parity with the Republicans. Today the Democrats get more. In political
terms, it was a success. In moral terms, it was a betrayal.

The North American Free Trade Agreement was sold to the country by the
Clinton White House as an opportunity to raise the incomes and prosperity
of the citizens of the United States, Canada and Mexico. NAFTA would also,
we were told, staunch Mexican immigration into the United States.

"There will be less illegal immigration because more Mexicans will be able
to support their children by staying home," President Clinton said in the
spring of 1993 as he was lobbying for the bill.

But NAFTA, which took effect in 1994, had the curious effect of reversing
every one of Clinton's rosy predictions. Once the Mexican government
lifted price supports on corn and beans for Mexican farmers, they had to
compete against the huge agribusinesses in the United States. The Mexican
farmers were swiftly bankrupted. At least 2 million Mexican farmers have
been driven off their land since 1994. And guess where many of them went?
This desperate flight of poor Mexicans into the United States is now being
exacerbated by large-scale factory closures along the border as
manufacturers pack up and leave Mexico for the cut-rate embrace of China's
totalitarian capitalism. But we were assured that goods would be cheaper.
Workers would be wealthier. Everyone would be happier. I am not sure how
these contradictory things were supposed to happen, but in a sound-bite
society, reality no longer matters. NAFTA was great if you were a
corporation. It was a disaster if you were a worker.

Clinton's welfare reform bill, which was signed on Aug. 22, 1996,
obliterated the nation's social safety net. It threw 6 million people,
many of them single mothers, off the welfare rolls within three years. It
dumped them onto the streets without child care, rent subsidies and
continued Medicaid coverage. Families were plunged into crisis, struggling
to survive on multiple jobs that paid $6 or $7 an hour, or less than
$15,000 a year. But these were the lucky ones. In some states, half of
those dropped from the welfare rolls could not find work. Clinton slashed
Medicare by $115 billion over a five-year period and cut $25 billion in
Medicaid funding. The booming and overcrowded prison system handled the
influx of the poor, as well as our abandoned mentally ill. And today we
stand in shame with 2.3 million of our citizens behind bars, most for
nonviolent drug offenses. More than one in 100 adults in the United States
is incarcerated and one in nine black men ages 20 to 34 is behind bars.
The United States, with less than 5 per cent of the global population, has
almost 25 percent of the world's prisoners.

The growing desperation across the United States is unleashing not simply
a recession - we have been in a recession for some time now - but the
possibility of a depression unlike anything we have seen since the 1930s.
This desperation has provided a pool of broken people willing to work for
low wages and without unions or benefits. This is good news if you are a
corporation. It is very bad news if you work for a living. For the bottom
90 percent of Americans, annual income has been on a slow, steady decline
for three decades. The majority's income peaked at $ 33,000 in 1973. By
2005, according to New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston in his book
"Free Lunch," it had fallen to a bit more than $29,000, this despite three
decades of economic expansion. And where did that money go? Ask
ExxonMobil, the biggest U.S. oil and gas company, which made a
$10.9-billion profit in the first quarter of this year, leaving us to pay
close to $4 a gallon to fill up our cars. Or better yet, ask Exxon Mobil
Corp Chief Executive Rex Tillerson, whose compensation rose nearly 18
percent to $21.7 million in 2007, when the oil company pulled in the
largest profit ever for a U.S. company. His take-home pay package included
$1.75 million in salary, a $3.36-million bonus, and $16.1 million of stock
and option awards, according to a company filing with the U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission. He also received nearly $430,000 of other
compensation, including $229,331 for personal security and $41,122 for use
of the company aircraft. In addition to his pay package, Tillerson, 56,
received more than $7.6 million from exercising options and stock awards
during the year. Exxon Mobil earned $40.61 billion in 2007, up 3 percent
from the previous year. But Tillerson's 2007 pay was not even the highest
mark for the U.S. oil and gas industry. Occidental Petroleum Corp. CEO Ray
Irani made $33.6 million and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. chief James Hackett
took in $26.7 million over the same period.

For each dollar earned in 2005, the top 10 percent got 48.5 cents. That
was the top 10th's greatest share of the income pie, Johnston writes,
since 1929, just before the Roaring '20s collapsed in the Great
Depression. And within the top 10 percent, those who made more than
$100,000, nearly all the gains went to the top 10th of 1 percent, people
like Tillerson, or Irani or Hackett, who made at least $1.7 million that
year. And until we have real election reform, until we make it possible to
run for national office without candidates kissing the rings of
Tillersons, Iranis and Hacketts to get hundreds of millions of dollars,
this rape of America will continue.

While the Democrats have been very bad, George W. Bush has been even
worse. Let's set aside Iraq - the worst foreign policy blunder in American
history. George Bush has also done more to dismantle our Constitution,
ignore or revoke our statutes and reverse regulations that protected
American citizens from corporate abuse than any other president in recent
American history. The president, as the Boston Globe reported, has claimed
the authority, through "signing statements," to disobey more than 750 laws
enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside
any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation
of the Constitution. Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military
rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that
Congress be told about immigration services problems, "whistle-blower"
protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against
political interference in federally funded research. The Constitution is
clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the
president a duty "to take care that the laws be faithfully executed".
George Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to
"execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.

The Bush administration has gutted environmental, food and product safety,
and workplace safety standards along with their enforcement. And this is
why coal mines collapse, the housing bubble has blown up in our face and
we are sold lead-contaminated toys imported from China. Bush has done more
than any president to hand our government directly over to corporations,
which now get 40 percent of federal discretionary spending. Over 800,000
jobs once handled by government employees have been outsourced to
corporations, a move that has not only further empowered our shadow
corporate government but helped destroy federal workforce unions.
Everything from federal prisons, the management of regulatory and
scientific reviews, the processing or denial of Freedom of Information
requests, interrogating prisoners and running the world.s largest
mercenary army in Iraq has become corporate. And these corporations, in a
perverse arrangement, make their money off of the American citizen.
Halliburton in 2003 was given a no-bid and non-compete $7-billion contract
to repair Iraq's oil fields, as well as the power to oversee and control
Iraq's entire oil production. This has now become $130 billion in contract
awards to Halliburton. And flush with taxpayer dollars, what has
Haliburton done? It has made sure only 36 of its 143 subsidiaries are
incorporated in the United States and 107 subsidiaries (or 75 percent) are
incorporated in 30 different countries. Halliburton is able through this
arrangement to lower its tax liability on foreign income by establishing a
"controlled foreign corporation" and subsidiaries inside low-tax, or
no-tax, countries known as a "tax havens". They take our money. They
squander it. And our corporate government not only funds them but protects
them. Halliburton - and Halliburton is just one example - is the engine of
our new, rogue corporate state, serviced by people like George Bush and
Dick Cheney, once the company's CEO.

The disparity between our oligarchy and the working class has created a
new global serfdom. Credit Suisse analysts estimates that the number of
subprime foreclosures in the United States over the next two years will
total 1,390,000 and that by the end of 2012, 12.7 percent of all
residential borrowers in the United States will be forced out of their
homes. The corporate state, which as an idea is an abstraction to many
Americans, is very real when the pieces are carefully put together and
linked to a system of corporate power that has made this poverty, the
denial of our constitutional rights and a state of permanent war
inevitable. The assault on the American working class - an assault that
has devastated members of my own family - is nearly complete. The U.S.
economy has 3.2 million fewer jobs today than it did when George Bush took
office, including 2.5 million fewer manufacturing jobs. In the past three
years, nearly one in five U.S. workers was laid off. Among workers laid
off from full-time work, roughly one-fourth were earning less than $40,000
annually. A total of 15 million U.S. workers are unemployed, underemployed
or too discouraged to job hunt, according to the Labor Department. There
are whole sections of the United States which now resemble the developing
world. There has been a Weimarization of the American working class. And
the assault on the middle class is now under way. Anything that can be put
on software - from finance to architecture to engineering - can and is
being outsourced to workers in countries such as India or China who accept
a fraction of the pay and work without benefits. And both the Republican
and Democratic parties, beholden to corporations for money and power,
allow this to happen.

Take a look at our government departments. Who runs the Defense
Department? The Department of Interior? The Department of Agriculture? The
Food and Drug Administration? Who runs the Department of Labor?
Corporations. And in an election year where we are numbed by absurdities
we hear nothing about this subordinating of the American people to
corporate power. The political debates, which have become popularity
contests, are ridiculous and empty. They do not confront the real and
advanced destruction of our democracy. They do not confront the takeover
of our electoral processes.

We have watched over the past few decades the rise of a powerful web of
interlocking corporate entities, a network of arrangements within
subsectors, industries or other partial jurisdictions to diminish and
often abolish outside control and oversight. These corporations have
neutralized national, state and judicial authority. They dominate, for
example, a bloated and wasteful defense industry which has become
sacrosanct and beyond the reach of politicians, most of whom are left
defending military projects in their districts, no matter how redundant,
because they provide jobs. This has permitted a military-industrial
complex, which contributes lavishly to political campaigns, to spread
across the country with virtual impunity. Defense-related spending for
fiscal 2008 will exceed $1 trillion for the first time in history. The
U.S. has become the largest single seller of arms and munitions on the
planet. The defense budget for fiscal 2008 is the largest since the Second
World War even as we have more than $400 billion in annual deficits. More
than half of federal discretionary spending goes to defense. This will not
end when Bush leaves office. And so we build Cold War relics like $
3.4-billion submarines and stealth fighters to evade radar systems the
Soviets never built and spend $ 8.9 billion on ICBM missile defense that
will be useless in stopping a shipping container concealing a dirty bomb.
The defense industry is able to monopolize the best scientific and
research talent and squander the nation's resources and investment
capital. These defense industries produce nothing that is useful for
society or the national trade account. Melman, like President Eisenhower,
saw the defense industry as viral, something that, as it grew, destroyed a
healthy economy. And so we produce sophisticated fighter jets while Boeing
is unable to finish its new commercial plane on schedule, and our
automotive industry tanks. We sink money into research and development of
weapons systems and starve technologies to fight against global warming
and renewable energy. Universities are awash in defense-related cash and
grants, and struggle to find money for environmental studies. This massive
military spending, aided by this $3-trillion war, is hollowing us out from
the inside. Our bridges and levees collapse, our schools decay and our
safety net is taken away.

The corporate state, begun under Ronald Reagan and pushed forward by every
president since, has destroyed the public and private institutions that
protected workers and safeguarded citizens. Only 7.8 per cent of workers
in the private sector are unionized. This is about the same percentage as
in the early 1900s. There are 50 million Americans in real poverty and
tens of millions of Americans in a category called "near poverty". Our
health care system is broken. Eighteen thousand people die in this
country, according to the Institute of Medicine, every year because they
can't afford health care. That is six times the number of people who died
in the 9/11 attacks, and these unnecessary deaths continue year after
year. But we do not hear these stories of pain and dislocation. We are
diverted by bread and circus. News reports do little more than report on
trivia and celebrity gossip. The FCC, in an example of how far our
standards have fallen, defines shows like Fox's celebrity gossip program
"TMZ" and the Christian Broadcast Network's "700 Club" as "bona fide
newscasts". The economist Charlotte Twight calls this vast corporate
system of spectacle and democratic collapse "participatory fascism".

How did we get here? How did this happen? In a word, deregulation - the
systematic dismantling of the managed capitalism that was the hallmark of
the American democratic state. Our political decline came about because of
deregulation, the repeal of antitrust laws, and the radical transformation
from a manufacturing economy to a capital economy. This understanding led
Franklin Delano Roosevelt on April 29, 1938, to send a message to Congress
titled "Recommendations to the Congress to Curb Monopolies and the
Concentration of Economic Power". In it, he wrote:

"The first truth is that the liberty of democracy is not safe if the
people tolerate the growth of power to a point where it becomes stronger
than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is
Fascism - ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any
other controlling private power. The second truth is that the liberty of a
democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment
and produce and distribute goods in such a way to sustain an acceptable
standard of living".

The rise of the corporate state has grave political consequences, as we
saw in Italy and Germany in the early part of the 20th century. Antitrust
laws not only regulate and control the marketplace, they serve as bulwarks
to protect democracy. And now that they are gone, now that we have a state
that is run by and on behalf of corporations, we must expect inevitable
and perhaps terrifying political consequences.

I spent two years traveling the country to write a book on the Christian
right called "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on
America". In depressed former manufacturing towns from Ohio to Kentucky it
was the same. There are tens of millions of Americans for whom the end of
the world is no longer an abstraction. They have lost hope. Fear and
instability has plunged the working class into personal and economic
despair, and not surprisingly into the arms of the demagogues and
charlatans of the radical Christian right who offer a belief in magic,
miracles and the fiction of a utopian Christian nation. And unless we
re-enfranchise these Americans back into the economy, unless we give them
hope, our democracy is doomed.

As the pressure mounts, as this despair and desperation reaches into
larger and larger segments of the American populace, the mechanisms of
corporate and government control are being bolstered to prevent civil
unrest and instability. It is not accidental that with the rise of the
corporate state comes the rise of the security state. This is why the Bush
White House has pushed through the Patriot Act (and its renewal), the
suspension of habeas corpus, the practice of "extraordinary rendition,"
the warrantless wiretapping on American citizens and the refusal to ensure
free and fair elections with verifiable ballot-counting. It is part of a
package. It comes together. It is not about terrorism or national
security. It is about control. It is about their control of us.

Sen. Frank Church, as chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence in
1975, investigated the government's massive and highly secretive National
Security Agency. He wrote:

"That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people
and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to
monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter.
There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny,
if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity
that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it
to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because
the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the
government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of
the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology. I don't
want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capability
that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that
this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within
the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that
abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return"

When Sen. Church made this statement the NSA was not authorized to spy on
American citizens. Today it is.

In a military brig in Charleston an American citizen, Ali Saleh Kahlah
al-Marri, is being held in a black hole set up on American soil. He was
stripped on June 23, 2003, by George Bush of his constitutional rights and
declared an "enemy combatant". He is being detained without charge,
interrogated without a lawyer and held indefinitely. Lawyers for the Bush
administration claim that the president can send the military into any
neighborhood, any town or suburb, capture a citizen and hold him or her in
prison without charge. They base this claim on the Authorization for Use
of Military Force, passed by Congress after 9/11, that gives President
Bush the power to "use all necessary and appropriate force" against anyone
involved in planning, aiding or carrying out the attacks. But Al-Mari was
not captured in Afghanistan or Iraq. He was arrested in Peoria, Ill., in
December 2001. And if the president can declare American citizens living
inside the United States to be enemy combatants and order them stripped of
constitutional rights, what does this mean for us? How long can we be held
without charge? Without lawyers? Without access to the outside world?
Maybe Al-Mari is, as the government claims, a terrorist. I don't know. But
I do know that if this becomes a precedent, if it is not overturned by the
courts, habeas corpus, the most important bulwark of our democratic state,
will be dead.

We are fed lie after lie to mask the destruction the corporate state has
wrought in our lives. The consumer price index, for example, used by the
government to measure inflation, has become meaningless. To keep the
official inflation figures low the government has been substituting basic
products they once measured to check for inflation with ones that do not
rise very much in price. This trick has kept the cost-of-living increases
tied to the CPI artificially low. The disconnect between what we are told
and what is actually true is worthy of the old East German state. The New
York Times. consumer reporter, W.P. Dunleavy, wrote that her groceries now
cost $587 a month, up from $400 a year earlier. This is a 40 percent
increase. California economist John Williams, who runs an organization
called Shadow Statistics, contends that if Washington still used the CPI
measurements applied back in the 1970s, inflation would be in the 10
percent range. The advantage to the corporations is huge. A false
inflation rate, one far lower than the real rate, keeps equitable interest
payments on bank accounts and certificates of deposit down. It masks the
deterioration of the American economy. The Potemkin statistics allow
corporations and the corporate state to walk away from obligations tied to
real adjustments for inflation. These statistics mean that less is paid
out in Social Security and pensions. It has reduced the interest on the
multitrillion-dollar debt. Corporations never have to pay real
cost-of-living increases to their employees. The term "unemployment" has
also been steadily redefined. This has rendered official data on
employment worthless. In real terms about 10 percent of the working
population is unemployed, a figure that is, over the long run,
unsustainable. The economy, despite the official statistics, is not
growing. It is shrinking. And as the nation crumbles we are awash with the
terrible simplicity of false statistics. We confuse our emotional
responses, carefully manipulated by advertisers, pundits, spin doctors,
television hosts, political consultants and focus groups, with knowledge.
It is how we elect presidents and those we send to Congress, how we make
decisions, even decisions to go to war. It is how we view the world. Four
media giants - AOL-Time Warner, Viacom, Disney, and Rupert Murdoch's
NewsGroup - control nearly everything we read, see and hear. This growing
disconnect with reality is the hallmark of a totalitarian state.

"Before they seize power and establish a world according to their
doctrines," Hannah Arendt wrote, "totalitarian movements conjure up a
lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the
human mind than reality itself; in which, through sheer imagination,
uprooted masses can feel at home and are spared the never-ending shocks
which real life and real experiences deal to human beings and their
expectations. The force possessed by totalitarian propaganda - before the
movements have the power to drop iron curtains to prevent anyone's
disturbing, by the slightest reality, the gruesome quiet of an entirely
imaginary world - lies in its ability to shut the masses off from the real
world".

So what do we do? Voting is not enough. If voting was that effective, to
quote the activist Philip Berrigan, it would be illegal. And voting in an
age when elections are stolen by rigged ballot machines and a stacked
Supreme Court willing to overturn all legal precedent to make George Bush
president, will not work. I am not saying do not vote. We should all vote.
But that has to be the starting point if we want to reclaim America. We
must lobby, organize and advocate for the dissolution of the World Trade
Organization and NAFTA. The WTO and NAFTA have handcuffed workers,
consumers and stymied our efforts to create clean environments. These
agreements are beyond the control of our courts and have crippled our
weakened regulatory agencies. The WTO forces our working class to compete
with brutalized child and prison labor overseas, to be reduced to this
level of slave labor or to go without meaningful work. We need to repeal
the anti-worker Taft-Hartley law of 1947. The act obstructs the
organization of unions. We need to transfer control of pension funds from
management to workers. If these pension funds, worth trillions of dollars,
were in the hands of workers the working class would own a third of the
New York Stock Exchange.

The working class has every right to be, to steal a line from Obama,
bitter with liberal elites. I am bitter. I have seen what the loss of
manufacturing jobs and the death of the labor movement did to my relatives
in the former mill towns in Maine. Their story is the story of tens of
millions of Americans who can no longer find a job that supports a family
and provides basic benefits. Human beings are not commodities. They are
not goods. They grieve, and suffer and feel despair. They raise children
and struggle to maintain communities. The growing class divide is not
understood, despite the glibness of many in the media, by complicated sets
of statistics or the absurd, utopian faith in unregulated globalization
and complicated trade deals. It is understood in the eyes of a man or
woman who is no longer making enough money to live with dignity and hope.

George Bush, who will be here on Saturday, has done more to shred, violate
or absent the government from its obligations under domestic and
international law. He has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, backed out
of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, tried to kill the International
Criminal Court, walked out on negotiations on chemical and biological
weapons, and defied the Geneva Convention and human rights law. He has set
up offshore penal colonies where we deny detainees basic rights and openly
engage in torture. He launched an illegal war in Iraq based on fabricated
evidence we now know had been discredited even before it was made public.
And if we as citizens do not hold him accountable for these crimes, if we
allow the Democratic majority in Congress to get away with its refusal to
begin the process of impeachment, which appears likely, we will be
complicit in the codification of a new world order, one that will have
terrifying consequences. For a world without treaties, statutes and laws
is a world where any nation, from a rogue nuclear state to a great
imperial power, will be able to invoke its domestic laws to annul its
obligations to others. This new order will undo five decades of
international cooperation - largely put in place by the United States -
destroy our own constitutional rights and thrust us into a Hobbesian
nightmare. We are one, maybe two, terrorist attacks away from a police
state. Time is running out.

We must not allow international laws and treaties - ones that set minimum
standards of behavior and provide a framework for competing social,
political, economic and religious groups and interests to resolve
differences - to be discarded. The exercise of power without law is
tyranny. And the consequences of George Bush's violation of the law, his
creation of legal black holes that can swallow American citizens along
with those outside our borders, run in a direct line from the White House
to Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and military brigs in cities such as Charleston.
George Bush - we now know from the leaked Downing Street memo - fabricated
a legal pretext for war. He decided to charge Saddam Hussein with the
material breach of the resolution passed in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War.
He had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was in breach of this resolution.
And so he and his advisers manufactured reports of weapons of mass
destruction and disseminated them to a frightened and manipulated press
and public. In short, he lied. He lied to us and to the rest of the world.
There are tens of thousands, perhaps a few hundred thousand people, who
have been killed and maimed in a war that has no legal justification, a
war waged in violation of international law, a war that under the
post-Nuremberg laws is defined as "a criminal war of aggression".

We have blundered into nations we know little about. We are caught between
bitter rivalries and competing ethnic groups and leaders we do not
understand. We are trying to transplant a modern system of politics
invented in Europe characterized, among other things, by the division of
earth into independent secular states based on national citizenship in a
land where the belief in a secular civil government is an alien creed.
Iraq was a cesspool for the British when they occupied it in 1917. It will
be a cesspool for us as well. We can either begin an orderly withdrawal or
watch the mission collapse.

A rule-based world matters. The creation of international bodies and laws,
the sanctity of our constitutional rights, have allowed us to stand
pre-eminent as a nation - one that seeks at its best to respect and defend
the rule of law. If we demolish the fragile and delicate domestic and
international order, if we permit George Bush to create a world where
diplomacy, broad cooperation, democracy and law are worthless, if we allow
these international and domestic legal safeguards to unravel, our moral
and political authority will plummet. We will erode the possibility of
cooperation between nation-states, including our closest allies. We will
lose our country. And we will, in the end, see visited upon us the evils
we visit on others. Read Antigone, when the king imposes his will without
listening to those he rules or Thucydides' history. Read how Athens'
expanding empire saw it become a tyrant abroad and then a tyrant at home.
How the tyranny the Athenian leadership imposed on others it finally
imposed on itself. This, Thucydides wrote, is what doomed Athenian
democracy; Athens destroyed itself. For the primary instrument of tyranny
and empire is war and war is a poison, a poison which at times we must
ingest just as a cancer patient must ingest a poison to survive. But if we
do not understand the poison of war - if we do not understand how deadly
that poison is - it can kill us just as surely as the disease.

Hope, St. Augustine wrote, has two beautiful daughters. They are anger and
courage. Anger at the way things are and the courage to see they do not
remain the way they are. We stand at the verge of a massive economic
dislocation, one forcing millions of families from their homes and into
severe financial distress, one that threatens to rend the fabric of our
society. We are waging a war that devours lives and capital, and that
cannot ultimately be won. We are told we need to give up our rights to be
safe, to be protected. In short, we are made afraid. We are told to hand
over all that is best about our nation to those like George Bush and Dick
Cheney who seek to destroy our nation. A state of fear only engenders
cruelty; cruelty, fear, insanity, and then paralysis. In the center of
Dante's circle the damned remained motionless. If we do not become angry,
if we do not muster within us the courage, indeed the militancy, to
challenge those in the Democratic and Republican parties who herd us
towards the corporate state, we will have squandered our courage and our
integrity when we need it most.

Chris Hedges, who graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for
nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, is the
author of "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America".

2008 TruthDig.com

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