|Progressive Calendar 07.02.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2008 02:42:36 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 07.02.08 1. IRV on ballot 7.02 11am 2. Fight for IRV 7.02 3:30pm 3. Peace bridge 7.02 5pm 4. Green blog 7.02 6:30pm 5. Peacemaker 7.02 7pm Duluth MN 6. New Hope demo 7.03 4:30pm 7. Eagan vigil 7.03 4:30pm 8. Ntown vigil 7.03 5pm 9. Ffunch 7.04 POSTPONED to 7.11 10. Palestine 7.04 4:15pm 11. War Inc/film 7.04 12. Michael Cavlan - Getting Michael Cavlan on the ballot 13. Dave Lindorff - Blood money Democrats/another spineless vote for war 14. Gilles d'Aymery - Want to waste your vote? 15. Gaither Stewart - Strutting fascism and swaggering militarism 16. ed - Cheap natural gas (poem) --------1 of 16-------- From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at] driscollgroup.com> Subject: IRV on ballot 7.02 11am For those interested in a discussion of the legal and political issues confronting the Council, tune in Wednesday: TRUTH TO TELL WEDNESDAY, JULY 2 ≠ 11:00AM: INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING AND THE CITIES: Horns of a Constitutional Dilemma KFAI Radio, 90.3 Minneapolis /106.7 St. Paul / Streamed [at] KFAI.org A CivicMedia/Minnesota production The St. Paul City Council finds itself in a pickle with proponents of Instant Runoff Voting ≠ better known as the Better Ballot Campaign ≠ having filed the necessary 5,000-plus signatures to present the prospect of installing a system of Ranked Choice Voting for general elections (and eliminating the city primary) before St. Paul voters in November - only to be faced with their own City Attorney's opinion that the entire idea may be unconstitutional based on a 1915 Supreme Court ruling striking down a similar voting scheme. Minneapolis has already passed it but is in court over IRV¬'s 2009 implementation. What will/can/should the Council do? Heed the City Attorney¬'s opinion that it should not go on the ballot on Constitutional grounds? Or ignore him and heed the will of the voters who signed the petition to place the city charter amendment before the people this November? Either way, it is sure to go to a courtroom. TTT¬'s ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN talk with as many of the principals in this political and legal debate as are willing to appear. And make fun of those who don't. Seriously, it's a real dilemma IRV supporters nevertheless insist is a legal slam dunk. Should be a fascinating discussion with Better Ballot Campaign supporters and city officials - like former St Paul Councilmember, now lawyer, representing the group, former Senator, both lawyers, and campaign leader,. JAY BENANAV, Better Ballot Campaign attorney and former St. Paul City Councilmember JOHN HOTTINGER, attorney and former State Senate Majority Leader ELLEN BROWN, organizational consultant and St. Paul Better Ballot Campaign leader INVITED: Council President KATHY LANTRY, St. Paul City Attorney JOHN CHOI AND YOU: CALL IN and comment/ask a question. 612-341-0980. --------2 of 16-------- From: Better Ballot Campaign <stpaul [at] betterballotcampaign.org> Subject: Fight for IRV 7.02 3:30pm 1. Attend the St. Paul City Council Meeting - JULY 2 AT 3:30 PM 2. Contact your Councilmember - IMMEDIATELY 3. Write LTE's This Alert is primarily for our Saint Paul supporters, but we wanted to be sure and send to all and keep you updated on the latest for the Saint Paul Campaign. The Saint Paul City Council plans to vote this Wednesday, July 2, to block citizens from voting on IRV this November. After collecting over 7,000 signatures of support, the petition has been certified to put IRV on the November ballot and we demand the Council honor our right for a citizen vote. 1. Attend the City Council meeting Former councilmember and IRV supporter, Jay Benanav, will speak on our behalf. Lets fill the seats with IRV support! 15 Kellogg Blvd. , Council Chambers, Third Floor City Hall This Wednesday, July 2. The meeting starts 3:30PM, and the Council plans to vote on this before 4PM. 2. Contact your councilmember  to insist that they put IRV on the ballot this November as required by law. Melvin Carter , Ward 1: 266-8610 Dave Thune , Ward 2: 266-8620 Pat Harris , Ward 3: 266-8630 Russ Stark , Ward 4: 266-8640 Lee Helgen , Ward 5: 266-8650 Dan Bostrom , Ward 6: 266-8660 Kathy Lantry , Ward 7: 266-8670 Key talking points 1) Uphold the rights of the St. Paul voters to petition their elected leaders for access to the ballot. Five council members - Melvin Carter, Pat Harris, Russ Stark, Lee Helgen and Kathy Lantry - all said they would not block IRV on the ballot if the petition drive was successful. Russ Stark and Melvin Carter supported IRV during their campaigns in 2007. Tell them not to go back on their word! 2) The City Attorney describes his opinion as his "best guess" and IRV is "morelikely than not" unconstitutional. He clearly does not make the case that IRV is "clearly" unconstitional. IRV has been upheld as constitutional in other states and has not been proven unconstitutional in Minnesota. The council does not have the legal authority to refuse placing IRV on the ballot based on "best guess" claims against the constitutionality of IRV. 3) President Lantry is quoted in the paper as saying cost of implementation as a key reason she opposes IRV. This is another misleading argment against IRV. The cost of implementing IRV next year will NOT be $1.5 million and will NOT require new machines. The IRV election will be for only one race - the mayors race. First choices can be tallied with existing machines and the runoff - if required - can be counted by hand. The process is simple and very inexpensive. 4) Allow time for testimony at the meeting! More than 7,000 people signed a petition to put IRV on the ballot and we insist on the opportunity to speak to a resolution you will consider to denythe will of the voters. 5) Tell them why you are supporting IRV for Saint Paul: * No more 5% turnout primaries * More voter participation and choice on the ballot * Ensures majority winners in one election -simpler, cheaper - 3. Write LTEs in response to articles and Op-eds: Pioneer Press Op-ed: Petition was Sound, Council's Obligation is Clear: Let the People Vote  Star Tribune Editorial: Don't Block Vote on IRV in Saint Paul  Pioneer Press Op-ed: Council Must Let the People Vote  Daily Planet: IRV: Deard or alive?  Use the same talking points as above. - Questions? Contact Dakotah Rae at dakotah [at] batterballotcampaign.org  To make a contribution to support the St. Paul Better Ballot Campaign, visit: http://stpaul.betterballotcampaign.org/stpaul/donate  Or mail a check to: Better Ballot Campaign 1523 Laurel Avenue St Paul, MN 55104 --------3 of 16-------- From: WAMM Calendar Subject: Peace bridge 7.02 5pm Peace Bridge Vigil: Peace is Patriotic Wednesday, July 2, 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Lake Street/Marshall Avenue Bridge, Spanning the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Last year July 4 fell on a Wednesday and more than 150 people came to the bridge vigil to honor the fact that Peace is Patriotic. It is long past time to celebrate those who work for a world at peace where all children are afforded the basic necessities of life--clean air and water, good health care, sufficient food and a secure environment. FFI: Call WAMM, 612-827-5364. --------4 of 16-------- From: Lisa Peterson-de la Cueva <lisa [at] tcdailyplanet.net> Subject: Going green blog 7.02 6:30pm The Twin Cities Daily Planet is launching the Going Green blog, and we'd like to hear your stories about living more environmentally. Together we can document what's working, what's not working, what's frustrating, and what's downright funny about going green. Going Green Workshop July 2nd. 6:30 -8:00 p.m. Rondo Community Outreach Library (corner of Dale and University in St. Paul) Learn how to write about your environmentally friendly practices. Meet other St. Paulites making the moves to live a greener life. Set up a blog, or learn what a blog is (if that word scares you!) Register by email at lisa [at] tcdailyplanet.net --------5 of 16-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Peacemaker 7.02 7pm Duluth MN Wednesday, 7/2, 7 pm, Christian Peacemaker Team member Michele Naar-Obed speaks on "Duluth to Kurdistan and Back Again," exploring the possibility of an Iraqi sister city for Duluth, Peace Church United Church of Christ (basement entrance), 111 N 11th Ave E, Duluth. 728-0629. --------6 of 16-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: New Hope demo 7.03 4:30pm NWN4P-New Hope demonstration every Thursday 4:30 to 6 PM at the corner of Winnetka and 42nd. You may park near Walgreens or in the larger lot near McDonalds; we will be on all four corners. Bring your own or use our signs. --------7 of 16-------- From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com> Subject: Eagan peace vigil 7.03 4:30pm CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south of the river speaking out against war. --------8 of 16-------- From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 7.03 5pm NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. We'll have extra signs. For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com. --------9 of 16-------- From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: FFUNCH 7.11 11:30am POSTPONED POSTPONED from 7.04 to 7.11 --------10 of 16-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Palestine 7.04 4:15pm Friday, 7/4, 4:15 to 5:30 pm, vigil to end US military/political support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, corner Summit and Snelling, St Paul. --------11 of 16-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: War Inc/film 7.04 7/4 to 7/10, satirical film "War, Inc." about a country occupied by a private U.S. corporation run by a former U.S. vice president and a plot to kill a Middle Eastern oil minister (sound familiar?), Lagoon Theater, 1320 Lagoon Ave, Uptown Mpls. http://www.landmarktheaters.com --------12 of 16-------- Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2008 11:40:47 -0500 (GMT-05:00) From: greenpartymike <ollamhfaery [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Getting Michael Cavlan On The Ballot Friends, I am contacting you because we are now in the process of gathering signatures to get Michael Cavlan on the ballot for the US Senate race. Why should you help? What is the point? What is our strategy, you may ask? One of the main goals of our campaign is to gather enough support, so that they corporate powers that be cannot keep us out of the debates. Once in the debates, progressives will be given a voice that has been so long denied by the corporate media. I can guarantee you that once in the debates, our job will be to inform the public. To speak out on all those issues we hold dear to our hearts. From stopping the war funding, halting the possible attacks on Iran being planned, Single Payer Healthcare, regaining our Civil Liberties, Accountability and Impeachment, the dangers of not getting serious about Global Warming and much, much more. Progressives have known that one of the biggest obstacles we face in getting our vision out has been a media so corrupted by corporate influence, that it will refuse to inform the people of Minnesota on the dangers we face in our society today. Likewise the media has refused to allow our solutions, our vision to be explained to the public. That is the goal of this campaign. Expose the media for what they are and at the same time putting our collective vision forward. That has always been the primary mission of our campaign. That is how we will take our nation and democracy back from those who have stolen it from us. This is how we can begin to create the kind of society we all cherish and desire. This is just the first step. However, none of this is possible until we are officially on the ballot. We will have teams going out and gathering the needed signatures but we also are calling friends and allies who may not want to go out to the public. We understand that but you can still help. 2000 signatures are needed to get on the Ballot. We have figured out that if 150 people gathered just 20 signatures, that alone will get 3000 signatures for Ballot Access. This can be done easily. To do so we need 150 people to step up to the plate. Will you be one of them? We need your help and we need it now. We have from today July 1st till July 15th to gather the signatures needed. We know we can do it but your help will guarantee it. Please contact me as soon as possible, find those 20 people who will sign the ballot. I Remain Yours In Love and Solidarity Michael Cavlan RN Candidate US Senate (612)327-6902 --------13 of 16-------- Another Spineless Vote for War Blood Money Democrats By DAVE LINDORFF CounterPunch July 1, 2008 Laid-off American workers will be getting temporary extended benefits as the nation sinks into recession, thanks to Congressional Democrats, who cleverly tacked a funding provision onto a bill giving the president all the money he asked for (and then some) to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on out through next June. Veterans of the Iraq War will also be getting tuition benefits equal to the full cost of in-state public college tuition plus $1000 a year for books and supplies. When workers pick up those unemployment checks from their state Department of Labor offices, though, they should see them as dripping blood. Those checks have been bought with the blood of American men and women in uniform who have been sent over and over into harm's way in those two countries in misbegotten and criminal adventures that have nothing to do with defending America and everything to do with boosting the profits of oil companies and defense contractors, and with getting Bush re-elected and Republicans elected. Iraq Vets, too, should not overlook the blood on their VA education benefits checks, because their tuition will be paid by the blood of active-duty comrades still left stranded in battle zones overseas. It didn't have to be like this. For generations, Congress has voted supplemental funding for unemployment benefits to be extended during economic downturns - not always willingly, but always eventually, following enough pressure from workers and the labor movement. For generations, too, Congress has voted for education benefits for veterans. This being an election year, passage of a freestanding supplemental benefits bill for unemployment insurance and a restoration of decent education benefits for Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans would have been a sure thing. Even Republicans facing the prospect of re-election campaigns would have signed on to both measures by Labor Day and the votes would have been their to override any Bush veto. Neither measure - both important in themselves and badly needed - had to be tied to a war-funding bill. But Democrats in the House and Senate leadership weren't really thinking about the plight of the unemployed or the needs of returning veterans in this case. They were, rather, thinking of a way of putting some "progressive" window-dressing on a war-funding bill that they wanted to pass without having to take responsibility for it. Their objective was to push the whole issue of funding the wars out past Election Day, in hopes of not having to discuss it in the coming campaign. Funding Bush's and Cheney's war in Iraq especially has, after all, become a more and more unpopular and difficult affair for Democrats. In this last go-round, fully 141 House Democrats voted against further funding of the war - nearly the same number as voted for it (149). At first, back in mid-May, the measure didn't even pass, because Republicans cleverly joined with the anti-war Democrats in blocking the measure, forcing Democratic leaders to scramble to round up the votes to pass a bill the second time around. Americans clearly don't want the war to continue, and Democrats don't want to have to face the voters, as every member of the House and a third of the Senate have to do this November, being labeled as war backers. That's why they come up with these pathetic excuses like, "I'm opposed to the war but we have to support the troops". Any sentient being in the country by now knows that most of the long-suffering and abused troops, as polls have shown, think that the best way to support them is to bring them home immediately. A Zogby poll of active-duty troops in Iraq taken in 2006 found that 72% wanted the US out within a year, while one in four wanted all US troops out immediately. Only one in five supported staying "as long as necessary". (With many of those troops on yet another rotation, in some cases their fifth, those numbers are probably even more in favor of immediate withdrawal today.) Military experts have also written about how all the troops in Iraq could be pulled out safely in as little as two weeks' time. All the Pentagon would need to do is start running a constant convoy of trucks south to Kuwait, carrying troops and weapons systems. They could leave the porta-potties, the McDonalds stands, the bowling alleys, the gyms and the barracks to the Iraqis and then blow up whatever they didn't want falling into the wrong hands. It would be easy and fast. There's no need for Obama's proposed 16-month staged withdrawal, which would just mean more unnecessary deaths and killings. Democrats in Congress know all this, but congenitally spineless and devoid of principle, they're afraid if they don't fund the war they could be accused by Republicans of being "soft" on defense - as though the Iraq War had anything at all to do with protecting America. And so they have come up with this shameless ruse of attaching a $95-billion domestic spending package, including unemployment funding measure and a veterans' education benefits measure, to a $162-billion atrocity - a measure that assures more death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more dead and maimed American military personnel. They're pretending that they "pulled one over" on Bush by forcing him to sign an unemployment extension bill and a veterans' bill, when they know Republicans would have forced him to sign those anyway, later in the summer. The real joke is on the American people, and on those very workers and veterans who will be receiving the unemployment checks and tuition reimbursements funded as a result of this duplicitous tactic. The $162 billion that Congress has voted for the continuation of the two pointless and disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, together with the money already allocated for the so-called "War on Terror," is all borrowed, and is a major contributor to the collapse of the dollar and to the resulting soaring of the price of oil, electricity and imported goods. It is thus a major contributor to the credit crisis and the collapse in the housing market that has pushed the nation into what may be the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. Furthermore, the blood-money unemployment and tuition checks bought through his gutless subterfuge by House and Senate Democrats will be pissed away in no time on higher gas prices spent by workers on desperate job searches, or on long commutes to distant jobs or commutes if they are lucky enough to find them. It will be pissed away too for veteran/students on their commutes to college, and on higher heating bills for their families at home. Equally important, the $160 billion wasted in Iraq, along with the half trillion dollars being wasted every year on military spending for a military colossus that encircles the globe for no good purpose other than intimidation of other nations, assures that those Democrats who control Congress can do nothing of consequence to shore up retirement funds, to develop a national health program, to improve our dismal school system, to repair our crumbling infrastructure, or to develop alternative, non-polluting energy sources that could combat global warming. The Democratic Congress has shown itself to be worse than useless. It is part of the problem. That includes Sen. Barack Obama, who like Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain, signed onto this contemptible funding bill. DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin.s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback edition). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net --------14 of 16-------- Want To Waste Your Vote? by Gilles d'Aymery (Swans - June 30, 2008) "Elections matter," asserted Al Gore as he was endorsing Barack Obama a week or so ago in Michigan. They especially matter when you lose them as in 1988, or they are stolen from you as in 2000 Florida and you do not fight for the ultimate prize - and you cannot even win your home state of Tennessee (not a great record, Al, to be charitable...) - or when the 2004 election was decided in Ohio through voting machine shenanigans controlled by a pal of Mr. Bush. But when you go to the poll and exercise your fundamental right and civic duty to cast your vote for the best candidate, you do take into consideration the issues that are important to you. At least you ought to. And on the issues, no one is better qualified than Ralph Nader - not John McCain, not Barack Obama, not Bob Barr, and not the plethora of lesser-known candidates. Nader is the only public figure who has been issues-oriented for decades and consistently right on them. He's always fought the good fight, for the people, for the greater good of the country, for the Constitution. However, and putting aside the campaign of vilification against his good name, there are ample reasons why you would choose to not vote for the Nader-Gonzalez ticket next November. Here are a series of issues that will help you to cast your vote for another candidate. It's not an exhaustive list, but it does cover a wide range both domestically and internationally. If, in regard to a comprehensive energy policy, you support the continuation of big subsidies to the oil industry and the subsidies for ethanol production based on corn, as well the $0.54 per gallon tariff imposed on Brazilian sugar cane based ethanol (which, incidentally is almost 8 times more efficient than corn based ethanol and has no incidence on the prices of feed stock and foodstuff); if you favor the construction of more nuclear plants at taxpayers' expense ignoring the cost and the danger; and if you give only lip service to alternative energies such as solar and wind power; if you think that a carbon pollution tax is a bad idea... If you think that global warming is a figment of one's imagination and Al Gore's support of corporate-sponsored, profit-motivated solutions to a non-existing problem will do the trick... If you have changed your mind on NAFTA and now support its continuation, disregarding the ravaging consequences on the Mexican economy and the directly-related immigration conundrum, all the while favoring the further militarization of our southern border, the building of more walls, and addressing the immigration issue in terms of national security rather than in terms of economics and human rights... If you are satisfied with our for-profit non-universal health care system and oppose a non-for-profit single payer system, all the while paying much more per capita than any other country in the Western world, yet getting poorer results than most of those countries, and having close to 50 million people uninsured and another 40 million poorly insured... If you have become an opponent of public financing of electoral campaigns after having favored it... If you are satisfied with our voting system, which through plurality voting assures the dominance of the duopoly, and oppose majority vote with run-off elections, allowing you to get apoplectic about the so-called "spoilers"... If you favor the death penalty and the three-strikes law, and further privatizing our penitentiary system... If the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution has become meaningless to you and you favor the increase of governmental authority to eavesdrop on your private communications and give retroactive immunity to the big telecoms that have allegedly broken the laws of the land (if they hadn't why the need for immunity?)... If you oppose a minimum $10 per hour living wage for workers in these days of rising energy and food prices... If you cannot fathom the concept of a maximum wage... If you believe that unions are a thing of the past and, accordingly, do not want to repeal the Taft-Hartley anti-union law... If you think that we need not redirect the resources of our nation dramatically toward fixing our decaying infrastructure and our crumbling education system... If you do not see the need to crack down on corporate crime and rip-offs, and take no issue with corporate personhood... If you believe that highly-paid corporate lobbyists do not hold sway over the government... If you consider that same-sex marriage is not a human and civil right... If you believe that the Second Amendment to the Constitution has nothing to do with states' militia, but is a recipe for individuals' right to bear arms as the Supreme Court just adjudicated... If you deem it unnecessary to re-regulate investment and commercial banks by reinstating some kind of a Glass-Steagall Banking Act (enacted in 1933)... If you think that a securities speculation tax on Wall Street profiteers and a higher margin call on speculators need not be implemented... If you are adamantly opposed to extending unemployment benefits to twelve months in order to help the out-of-luck class and the general economy... If you want to increase the bloated and wasteful military budget and bring over 90,000 more troops to the line of death... If you want to keep occupying Iraq and Afghanistan for years and decades to come; are willing to bomb "targets" in Pakistan or any other countries you deem a "potential" enemy... If you are willing to militarily attack Iran on the bogus claim that the mullahs are developing a nuclear bomb; that you want your "leader" to do everything in his power - everything - to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb that the country is not developing; that nothing is left off the table, meaning a nuclear strike against Iran is an action you'd support... If you want to see East Jerusalem be an integrated part of an undivided capital of Israel forever, in total contravention of International Law and human decency... If you want to keep promoting the Israeli strategy to further colonize the West Bank all the way to the Jordan River, steal Palestinian lands, keep developing Apartheid-like policies, and lead to the expulsion of the Palestinian population, all the while arming that little Sparta to the brink at taxpayers' expense... And if you have no second thoughts about witnessing your favorite candidate of either party perform a perfunctory genuflexion in front of an august AIPAC assembly... If you want to keep blockading Cuba and put in place more "robust" policies to destabilize or overthrow democratically-elected governments in Latin America if those governments are not in lockstep with US corporate interests... If these are the "changes you can believe in"... ...Then, by all means, please do not vote for the Nader-Gonzalez ticket, because what you believe is the antinomy of the programmatic platform of these two candidates. You are supporters of, and ought to support Barack Obama, whose platform closely reflects your belief system and frame of reference. On June 18, 2008, Luke Russert gave a touching tribute to his father at the JFK Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. The young 22-year-old talked with great poise and love for his father. Toward the end of his tribute he said something that the corporate media did not want us to hear: Imagine a Meet The Press Special Edition, live from St. Peter's Gate. Maybe Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr will be on for a full hour, debating. Perhaps JFK and Barry Goldwater will give their two cents about the 2008 election. [Then Luke paused and quite deliberately added (my emphasis).] And, we can even have Teddy Roosevelt for the full hour talking about the need for a Third Party. That last sentence was conveniently cut from the main media orgy of celebrating obituaries, but that young man, a well-educated child of privilege, was breaking the mold. He knew that the issues are not being addressed by the duopoly, that the status quo is set in full force, and that we desperately need a third-party contender. Perhaps the young Russert was expressing publicly a sentiment that his father shared but could not utter due to his position within the corridors of power (remember that Ralph Nader announced he was running again on Meet The Press with Tim Russert). Issues count, indeed, and elections do matter. That's why we advocate voting for Ralph Nader. We do not want votes to be wasted. votenader.org About the Author Gilles d'Aymery on Swans (with bio). He is Swans' publisher and co-editor. --------15 of 16-------- Strutting Fascism and swaggering militarism By Gaither Stewart Online Journal Contributing Writer Jul 1, 2008, 00:22 "We work for the moral and traditional values which Socialists neglect and despise. . . ." -Benito Mussolini ROME - It's their strutting. That detestable image of the strutting that links them, the strutting and prancing Fascists and their swaggering and parading military cousins, up front for their conveniently concealed corporatist controllers. A strutting and swaggering couple they are, Fascism and the entrenched class of war. Their distorted visions of gallantry and nation come so naturally to both. The spick and span generals, employers of mercenaries and killers, chin in, chest out, and their majors and their colonels (especially the generals in the offices and the majors in the tents), thick chests covered with ribbons and medals and rows of multicolored decorations - awarded for killing. And the political Fascists! Defiant chins thrust forward, hard fists clinched, swaggering and prancing and strutting across the stages of piazzas, nations and continents in support of the killing. For God's sakes let's don't waste time on the propaganda of "supporting our troops over there!" Or defense of America's values! Or the future of our children! Or the war on terrorism! Let's don't waste words on that. As if in their strutting and blustering they had a monopoly on care for our sons! Let the generals and the industrial-military complex and our new administration (hopefully) support our boys "over there" in the only way that really counts - by bringing them home. But here let's zero in on strutting Fascism in its dreams of glory and on its corporate partners and their dreams of a New World Order. Let's call a spade a spade. I have in mind the word Fascism that we progressive writers often use as an epithet. Or sprinkled here and there in our labels of proto-Fascist, crypto-Fascist, neo-Fascist and today, in Italy, post-Fascist. An old word whose essence, whose very quintessence, has remained largely the same while the word itself has acquired such negative connotations that Fascists themselves deny their heritage, as recently the neo-Mayor of Rome, the neo-Fascist Gianni Alemanno, who in an interview with the English press denied he was ever a Fascist, recalling the disciple Peter denying he ever knew his master, Jesus. Since their emergence in Italy, Fascists have liked to claim that they, too, are of the Left. Specious claim. Bizarre conclusion. We have to keep in mind that that is a Fascist claim. It has little to do with social or political or even theoretical reality. That Fascism like Socialism was a mass movement by no means makes it Left. Historical Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany set out as mass movements because they were in political competition with leftist movements. As such Nazi-Fascism was obligated to appeal to the masses, to the collective, to that extent becoming social. In that sense Fascism began as a mass collectivist movement, but only up to the historical point when it mutated into the Corporatism that Mussolini claimed as its true name. Once in power, Fascism then shows its true face: it allies with and mutates into Corporatism, becomes elitist and regiments the masses. In power it is no longer a collectivist movement. That Power of any shade or color often goes wrong is a truism. But that does not mean that all mass movements-systems-ideologies are the same. The fact is that Fascism and Nazism arose chiefly in opposition to Communism. Fascism in practice will always be of the Right, Socialism-Communism of the Left. After the fall of Soviet Communism two decades ago, some European intellectuals and political scientists proclaimed the end of ideologies, that the terms Left and Right no longer made sense and were old-fashioned, that they were actually the same. This is dangerous speculation and a lie. The words for the two political poles were in vogue from the French Revolution up until the onset of the American counter-revolution not many years ago when American conservatives declared them politically incorrect. Though the Democratic and Republican parties in the United States contain qualities of both Left and Right, a little of this, a little of that - with the result that both parties are the same - no political movement with a genuine ideology is or can be both Left and Right, a negative which in turn confirms the validity of the dichotomy. Until the French Revolution society was divided vertically, with Power at the top, which filtered down through the hierarchy to the voiceless peasant-slave. The great social division has always been between property holders - today's capitalists - and the landless - today's working class, or simply between the rich and the poor. The Revolution instituted a more democratic horizontal Left-Right division, intended to limit and control Power. Reaction is Power's nostalgia for return to the old system, which is what happens in Fascism-Corporatism: return to a vertical society. Just as the property holders and the landless, today's capitalists-corporations on one hand and workers on the other, so also Left and Right, are and always will be by definition in opposition. Right, or in this case Fascism, believes in the superiority of its cultural heritage and the past of nation, people, race and traditions, in defense of which it relies on militarism. An extreme right-winger rejects equality, wants as little change as possible, is skeptical about political systems and international rules and is committed to a society of hierarchy and meritocracy. The Left, reformist or revolutionary, stands for emancipation from the past and for change. Yet it is nonsense that advocacy of change automatically places one on the Left. In the case of Italy, Fascism's brief exploitation of the Futurist movement in the arts in order to execute its revolution did not make it Left. Fascism, too, wanted to remake society, but by glorifying and worshipping the past. In fact, a kind of Sicilianism - change everything so that nothing changes. Though some attitudes, positions and values are interchangeable, there is a limit. War obviously belongs to the Right. War is a typically Fascist manifestation emerging from its worship of militarism and expansionism. War is no minor political slipup, as American Democrats should know by now. Historically, war is all determinant. War has already destroyed the foundations of the American republic and undermined American democracy itself. The position on war of America's Democratic Party today is a Right position, as is its position on social justice. Right positions inevitably cause increased social injustice, social clash and war. Likewise the pro-war position of European Social Democracy at the outbreak of World War I led directly to its political decline, the birth of Fascism-Nazism, to the predominance on the Left of the Bolsheviks, and indirectly to the birth of Socialism in one country and Stalinism. Norberto Bobbio (1909-2004), a major Italian political philosopher, determined that the major distinction between Left and Right is the relationship of each with equality. Though not every social-political view can be classified as Right or Left, as a rule Left tends toward everything that strives for equality among men; Right tends toward inequality. In practice the more one rejects equality, the more Right one is. Or, more forcefully, Right favors forms of the hierarchies dividing men. The distinction on the question of equality is clear, uncompromising and on target. It's one or the other - Left or Right. They are not interchangeable. Despite Fascism's claims that it, too, is "Socialist" and despite Hitler's appropriation of the word in National Socialism, and despite Left's frequent electoral claims that it, too, is middle of the road, both ideologies, if they are genuine, are one or the other. Neither Left nor Right can be middle of the road. Some political philosophers in Europe and the USA describe the basic divisions between the Left and Right with the comfortable categories of Progressive and Conservative. In my opinion those common words are not satisfactory. Right can be progressive on certain limited themes, while the broad Left to achieve and maintain political power becomes conservative as seen in the Left of America's Democratic Party or in much of contemporary European Socialism. To repeat, both Nazism and Stalinism used the word Socialist freely and in the end created parodies of socialist states. Today, Left considers the Center a disguised Right; the Right believes the Center is a cover for the Left. In the political confusion of contemporary Italy, both the neo-Fascist Right and the Socialist Left have moved gradually toward Center positions. The Center, or the Third Way, is often a cover for one or the other positions. That Third Way is often labeled a "conservative revolution," as if social ambivalence could prevail over genuine Left or genuine Right. In the long run, the Center also is obligated to assume positions reflecting either Left or Right. So it is one or the other, Left or Right. Even though one does not eliminate the other, one or the other predominates in a given society in a given moment. Times change but the basic dichotomy remains. The most blatant example of ignoring the Left-Right political reality is the USA, the world's most powerful country controlled by a one-party system, which in effect ignores the words Left and Right. America's Republican and Democratic parties stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the Right, bolstered by religious extremists, secret militias and the flag-waving false patriots. Though the Democratic and Republican parties in the United States contain a little of this, a little of that - with the result that both parties are practically the same - no political movement with a genuine ideology is and can be both Left and Right. Some positions and values can be exchanged and integrated in diverse systems, but there is a limit. No one genuinely on the Left (in the Democratic Party, Liberals or Social Democrats) can defend Anglo-American conservatism or the liberalism-conservatism-Corporatism-Militarism-Fascism alliance. One forgets that there are limits as to what politics can accomplish. The open spaces the US political system leaves vacant have been occupied by the all-powerful, elitist, anti-human, militant and militaristic industrial-military complex of the modern corporatist state. In sum, the combination creates the authoritarian system. It is that extra-political vacuum (where there should be a Left!) which creates space for the populism and demagoguery of Fascism. America's two interdependent parties have exchanged political and social values like merchandise. The result is that the one-party system based on the great euphemism of democracy - now a facade, fake and mendacious - stands as the banner and standard of the great American Counter-Revolution. Historical Fascism If one behaves like a swaggering Fascist, speaks like a super nationalistic Fascist, acts like a Fascist bully, he must be a Fascist. We feel a certain solace in just pronouncing the epithet, "fucking Fascists!" Yet the word Fascism has not always been politically derogatory. Not by a long shot. Within a decade early last century, the word Fascism came to be applied to a cluster of similar nationalist-militaristic movements in Europe, the most important of which were the original Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany, or National Socialism. In a wave of revolutionary nationalism, Fascism first emerged in an Italy ravaged by World War I. The swaggering strutting nationalistic movement of Mussolinian Fascism had no precise forerunners from the 19th century, as did Socialism and Communism, but it was soon admired and imitated by like-minded movements across Europe and in the USA. William Dudley Pelly's Nazi-supported Silver Shirts organized in the 1930s in the town of Asheville, NC, where I grew up was the most influential, most violent, most anti-Semitic of native American Fascist organizations, with allegedly some 2 million members and with whom today's Right still has ideological bonds. America's Fascists favored Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in WWII. Religion and intense hatred of minorities bond Christian Identity and right-wing extremists with the former Silver Shirt movement. TV evangelists of the likes of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have followed the same format - hate of Communism, Jews, gays, abortion, welfare, unions - in favor of the corporate-clerical state. With the rise of the power of corporations came also the rise of the modern military-police profession cast in a new role. As did former monarchs, modern corporations and their stockholders need the military-police control mechanism in order to ascertain that the populace never rises up in protest. Their marriage is the heart of Fascism. Fascism in practice is thus the protective shield for Corporatism. For every Corporate-Fascist state inevitably erects a police state to regulate and finally enslave its people. The most striking historical examples were Italy and Germany last century. Today, it is the USA and its proxy puppet governments around the world. The term Fascism derives from the Italian fascio, or Latin fasces, in reference to the bundle of rods that symbolized the authority of the Republic of ancient Rome. The term was used occasionally in the late 19th century for new radical movements combining strong nationalism, aggressive activism and violence and "authoritarianism," another term coined by early Italian Fascists, signs of which have reappeared today in contemporary Berlusconian Italy. Revolutionary Italian nationalists after WWI used the word fascio for the movement that in 1921 became the Fascist Party. Wearing a black shirt, the color of Fascism, Benito Mussolini recruited a fascio di combattimento, or combat group. Mussolini did not found Italian Fascism but he insinuated himself into its leadership and became its supreme leader, Il Duce. His combat fasces and the drums of authoritarianism created an atmosphere in which Fascist dictatorship was wildly perceived as the only salvation of strife-ridden Italy, a strategy eerily echoed today in Berlusconian Italy. Mussolini became modern Europe's first Fascist leader, Italy's prime minister and dictator from 1922 to 1943. In the widespread post-World War I disenchantment and in Europe, Mussolini's revolutionary spirit and his Fascist model were contagious and spread over Europe and to the USA. Based on a corporatist and totalitarian vision of the state, Fascism then, as today, has considered itself a third way between capitalism and Socialism-Communism. Benito Mussolini offered this authoritative definition of Fascism: "Fascism is a great mobilization of material and moral forces. What does it propose? We say the following without false modesty: To govern the nation. With what program? With a program necessary to guarantee the moral and material grandeur of the Italian people. Let's speak clearly: It's of no import if our concrete program is somewhat convergent with that of the Socialists as far as the technical, administrative and political reorganization of our country is concerned. We work for the moral and traditional values which Socialists neglect and despise. . . ." Corporatism was so much the heart of Italian Fascism that Mussolini insisted that Fascism should in fact be called Corporatism because it is a merger of the nationalist-military state and corporate power. His words struck a chord in the hearts of European and American capitalists in the 1930s and '40s, just as they still do today. For if one bothers to look, the traits of Fascism are highly visible in Corporatism. What are corporations anyway? Corporations are legally named persons, fictitious persons that have gained more rights than individual human beings. By nature corporations are thirsty for power. They are insatiable. Growth and more power are their mottos. As corporations acquire more power, they and their lobbies come to control also the puppet government and thus the real people of flesh and blood whose rights cannot but deteriorate. The goals of corporations, their raison d'etre and the twin pillars of their existence, are growth and greater and greater profits. In the capitalist state the "government of the people" becomes a fiction and morphs into corporate rule. In that sense US liberalism has considerable overlap with Fascism. The word Corporatism fits well the social-political setup in the USA and most of Europe today and, in that sense, is an heir of Fascism. Mussolini, I believe, would feel quite comfortable in the NATO-European Union-USA-European arena today. The merger of the military-industrial complex and the political world in the USA is the most contemporary example of the concept of Corporatism-Fascism. In their penetrating, pervasive and increasingly authoritarian interventions in socio-economic life, today's governments in America and Europe are in fact examples of Fascism in action. Moreover, it should be noted here that while Fascism in its Mussolinian origins was nationalist, today it is global. Globalization is no less than Mussolini's Fascism-Corporatism in action on a world scale. It's no wonder that from its inception Fascism violently opposed Socialism and Communism. Anti-Communism and anti-Socialism have been the US corporate-political policy since the rise of workers' movements in the middle of the 19th century. The original Fascism itself was born in part as a reaction to the Russian Revolution, in part in opposition to the rise of the ideal of liberal democracy. From the start Fascism everywhere combined ideological aspects of the extreme Right such as nationalism, militarism, expansionism and meritocracy (the latter is much in vogue today in Berlusconian Italy) and idealist elements borrowed from workers' movements such as the primacy of labor, social and unionist revolution. The very word Nazi derived from the name of Hitler's National Socialist Party, reflecting its emergence from and support by the petty bourgeoisie. And still today, Italian neo-Fascists describe their movement as social and named their post-Mussolinian political party, the Italian Social Movement. Antonio Gramsci, the political thinker, philosopher and co-founder of the Italian Communist Party, in an article, "Little Fascists" (Piccoli fascisti), in Ordine Nuovo, January 2, 1921, linked the Fascism of his time to the petty bourgeoisie, at the time called the shopkeepers. class, perhaps closest to the American liberal upper middle classes today. "In this its last political incarnation which is 'fascism,' the petty bourgeoisie has revealed its real nature as a servant of capitalism and landed property. But it has also shown that it is fundamentally incapable of playing any historic role: the people of monkeys fill the news, does not create history, leaves traces in the newspapers, does not offer materials for books. The petty bourgeoisie, after having ruined Parliament, is now ruining the bourgeois state: it substitutes private violence for the authority of law. . . ." In one of Gramsci's famous quotes Fascism was described as an attempt to resolve production and trade issues with "machines guns and revolver shots." "Productive forces have been ruined and wasted in the imperialistic war: twenty million men in the flower of youth and energy have been killed; the thousands of links that united world markets have been violently destroyed; the relations between countryside and city, between metropolises and colonies, have been turned upside down; the streams of emigration that periodically re-established unbalance between an excess of population and the potentiality of the means of production in single nations have been profoundly upset and no longer function normally. . . . Yet there exists a small layer of population in all countries - the petty and middle bourgeoisie - that believes it can resolve these gigantic problems with machine guns and revolver shots, and this small layer fuels fascism, supplies manpower to fascism". The roots of Fascism are European, linked to the birth of mass society after WWI, especially in those nations in transformation, which were conditioned by political and economic weakness as were Italy and Germany defeated in the Great War. Labeled by Thomas Mann the "moral sickness of Europe" of the epoch, Fascism found particularly fertile ground in Italy and Germany. Fascism is not based on any one class. It draws support from all. It is the result of wayward moral conscience and drunken decadence produced by the horrors of war and it affected most countries that participated in the conflict - that is much of the world. Yet, as Gramsci noted, the petty bourgeoisie provided Fascism's most ardent supporters. This relationship of Fascism-middle class is essential, central, in order to grasp the nature of Fascism at all latitudes. It was the common denominator between Italy and Germany. This relationship distinguishes Fascism from similar regimes and movements elsewhere which though often called Fascist are only marginally so. This relationship also explains the mass support Italian Fascism and German Nazism acquired, the reputation as mass movements, for regimes that in power could only develop based on a police state, terror and a monopoly of mass propaganda. Fascism as Corporatism There is some truth to the claim that liberalism created Fascism. The Italian petty bourgeoisie created Mussolinian Fascism and still today, 2008, the same petty bourgeoisie in Rome's borgate, the vast poorer and workers' districts, are the backbone of Italy's neo-Fascism and Berlusconian populism. In Mussolini's time, the wealthy upper classes abetted and encouraged Fascism's emergence, confident that it could control it. To a certain extent and for a certain time it did. Until Fascism in power showed its true face and controlled the controllers. Yet Mussolini insisted on the name of Corporatism instead of Fascism. Today, capitalism is both partner and controller of American Corporate Fascism as were capitalists in Europe and the USA in the 1920s and '30s. Even a superficial analysis of the state created by the Corporate Fascism-middle class symbiosis of three-quarters of a century ago shows clear analogies with the American form of Corporatism today. Though not yet widely identified as such, Fascism is already in place in power in this great and powerful Corporatist state. American Corporatism has created the bases of its police state as Corporatism did in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. The state relies on terrorism to create the threat from external enemies created by the state itself. Hitler's burning of the Reichstag in Berlin for which Communists were blamed was Nazi Germany's Twin Towers. The American corporatist state uses establishment media and acquiescent intellectuals for its mass propaganda a la Goebbels to maintain the false consciousness and the Americanism image. The subservient media and compliant intellectuals serve to create the myths of the elusive American dream and the mythical American way of life of comfort and ease - in sum, Americanism - and to assure the consent of the masses in the interests of wealth, power, and privilege. Fascism is thus a product of capitalist society, an anti-proletarian reaction to protect the social relations reigning in capitalist production. Fascism is the falange Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi speaks of today to break workers movements in the interests of capital. Mussolinian Fascism, and German Nazism organized the nation spiritually by intense radical demagogic propaganda, military build-up, the creation of a mass social base and centralized government. In a similar fashion, the Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan governments of the 1980s marked the revival of the process of Corporatism, the crushing of any illusions of a welfare state in the USA and the weakening of the foundations of social democracy in Great Britain. Once firmly in power Fascism always carries out a palace revolution in order to further regiment the masses while leaving capital free to dispose of plus value as it desires. In this sense, the corporate state crushes class struggle and guarantees the monopoly organization of capital. During the acme of his power in the early 1930s, Mussolini repeatedly claimed that within a few years all of Europe would be Fascist. Though I am little inclined to dwell on affinities between Mussolini and Lenin, still, in the 20th century the great ideological movements were in competition for the souls of the masses. Mussolini believed firmly in the fascistization of the world as Lenin did in world Socialist revolution. In that respect Fascism was counter-revolutionary and reactionary despite its claims that it was social and revolutionary. One question remains: the difference between Fascism and Nazism. Can one distinguish between them qualitatively, recognizing however the same essence in each? Or are they perhaps different movements also in essence? Mussolini believed they were different. Subsequent history has also differentiated between them. The Polish Pope John Paul II said at the end of his life that Nazism was the supreme evil of the century. Though history in general tends to consider Fascism a variation of other authoritarian regimes, one might add, closest to the USA today, I prefer to leave them together, wrapped in each other's arms, one comforting the other. In contrast to Socialism, both Fascism and Nazism were from the start extremely nationalistic, attempts to perpetuate the heredity of a people, a nation, a race. Socialism-Communism, despite its failures to live up to that promise, was internationalist by nature; in the long run Soviet Communism became nationalistic, even though that mutation came to be blamed on the capitalist encirclement. That encirclement was real, not a scarecrow as is terrorism and security today. It really happened. Fascism on the other hand goes far beyond traditional nationalism. It perceives of the nation not as the hereditary container of values but also as a future of power. For Fascism, history is not perceived as loyalty to values but as history's continuing recreation over and over again, which requires for its fulfillment the crushing of anything standing in its way. Hitler himself recognized Italian Fascism as the first movement that fought against Marxism and Communism, in his view, from a non-reactionary point of view. In the USA the choice of individualism and the privation of a solid and stable workers movement capable of political power in the name of social justice are dissonant with social development and social justice. In Europe the diverse histories of workers movements had close relationships and inter-connections with the rise of the nation states. Therefore, the flagrant divergence of the model of the federal state projected by the USA from that of Europe. Therefore, the pernicious halo around the now fictitious American dream and Americanism, which provide the permanent foundations for an enduring Corporatist-Fascist state. Based in Rome, Gaither Stewart, journalist and writer, well known for his dispatches and essays from Europe, is Cyrano's Journal's Senior Editor & Special European Correspondent. 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