|Progressive Calendar 06.03.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|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 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments
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