Progressive Calendar 07.30.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2008 02:44:21 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    07.30.08
         vote third party for president for congress now and forever

1. Radical democracy 7.30 11am
2. Young black men   7.30 11am
3. E-Participation   7.30 7pm

4. Vs RNC retreat    7.31 5pm
5. Human rights      7.31 3pm
6. New Hope demo     7.31 4:30pm
7. Eagan peace vigil 7.31 4:30pm
8. Northtown vigil   7.31 5pm
9. Choice            7.31 5:30pm
10. WAMM meet-up     7.31 6pm
11. 7 dirty words    7.31 6:30pm
12. AWC/bingo        7.31 7pm
13. Fringe festival  7.31-8.10

14. Ernest Partridge - Evil as the absence of empathy
15. John Ross        - Fourth Fleet steams south; return of the gunboat
16. Anon?            - The George W Bush presidential library 

--------1 of 16---------

From: Joan Vanhala <joan [at]>
Subject:  Radical democracy 7.30 11am

Join the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability and Headwaters Foundation for
Justice for a Social Justice Summer Book Club! Forget the light summer
reading, our first book is Tools for Radical Democracy by Joan Minieri and
Paul Getsos.

11 am - 1 pm
Wednesday, July 30 - Discussion of parts 1 & 2: Building Power and Base
Tuesday, August 26 - Discussion of parts 3 & 4: Campaigns and Strategy
Green Institute rooftop garden, 2801 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis

The book highlights tools from the authors' nationally recognized and
award-winning work to build a community-led organization, train community
leaders, conduct campaigns that changed public policy, and deliver
concrete results to communities. It contains keen insights for how to use
technology effectively, to build more powerful alliances and to engage in
the social justice movement.

Don't have a copy of the book? No worries. Stop by Headwaters and pick up
a FREE copy (limited to two per organization please). Please RSVP and pick
up your book with Jennifer Vogel.

Participants are encouraged to bring lunch.

Joan Vanhala Coalition Organizer Alliance for Metropolitan Stability 2525
E Franklin Ave, Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55406 612-332-4471

--------2 of 16--------

From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at]>
Subject: Young black men 7.30 11am

Wednesday, July 30 -11:00AM: WHAT TO DO ABOUT OUR YOUNG BLACK MEN?

We talk talking with terrified mothers of young St. Paul black men in
trouble with the law as they watch their children die or go to prison in
far too many numbers. One of those young sons facing prison for his role
in a street killing will tell his story. Why cant so many of these young
men leave the house without getting sucked into self-destruction? Why cant
they carry the values their mothers taught them into the streets and
classrooms and job sites and stay out of the traps that will surely
imprison or kill them? How do issues of race, poverty, self-image, and a
hostile criminal justice system play out in this daily drama?

 FAYE MCCOY  Healthcare Worker and mother of PIERRE, a son destined for
 CHAR LANKFARD  Healthcare Worker and Mother #2
 ROXANNE TISDALE  Healthcare Worker and Mother #3
 BOBBY HICKMAN  Advocate for African-American young men, consultant,
conflict resolution specialist & former head of Inner City Youth League

KFAI Radio, 90.3 Minneapolis /106.7 St. Paul / Streamed [at]
A CivicMedia/Minnesota production
Podcasts are available for all Truth to Tell shows.

--------3 of 16--------

From: Jonathan Barrentine <jonathan [at]>
Subject: E-Participation 7.30 7pm

Free E-Democracy Presentation:
A brief survey of how online tools are changing the way public policy
discussions take place, featuring examples from around the region and
around the world. Featuring Steve Clift, founder of

Wednesday, July 30, 7:00-8:30pm
At the Rondo Library (Dale and University in St. Paul).
Presented by St. Paul E-Democracy and Saint Paulitics.
Refreshments will be provided.

--------4 of 16--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Vs RNC retreat 7.31 5pm

The RNC Welcoming Committee, UA-Midwest and the Seeds of Peace want to
invite you and your friends to join us for four days to polish up on our
Direct Action and Street Medic skills, or learn a whole new set of tools
in a beautiful setting in Southern Minnesota. From Thursday, July 31st
until Sunday, August 3, we'll rendezvous in southern Minnesota to practice
and hone our organizing and action skills.  Oh, yeah, and of course, to
boogie down at the Anarchist Idol No Talent Show taking place Friday
evening! Bring your banjos and harmonicas (or thrash gear) and come ready!
We also have space available for those wanting to facilitate workshops or
discussions during the camp. Let us know what you are interested in doing,
and we'll fit it in.

The camp/retreat is free, but we are encouraging a donation to help cover
costs of equipment and the space. The owner has donated the land, but we
would like the park to continue to operate, so we will hopefully be making
a donation to him at the end of the camp.

We are still working out the kinks for our exact
training/skill-share/workshop schedule but here are things that will be

Direct Action 101
Blockading 101 & 201
Urban Street Tactics
20 Hour Action Street Medic Training
Strategic and Tactical Non-Violence
Night Games
Gender Dynamics
And more!

While all these skills can be taken back to our communities and campaigns,
these workshops will be facilitated with the September 1
"Swarm,Seize,Stay: Crash the Convention" framework in mind. Bring your
questions and ideas to hash them out and experiment with a little bit

On Sunday morning we will have a 3 hour Mock Action to bring all the
pieces together. Keep this in mind with your friends and affinity group,
because after breakfast on we're gonna blockade the campground! The exact
scenario will be announced on Friday at camp, but think outhouses as
intersections, and the camp kitchen as a convention center in some
Midwestern city.

If you haven't already, please RSVP to rncactionretreat [at]

Get on the announcement list at action-camp2008-subscribe [at]

When RSVP'ing please answer a few questions for us, k?

1. How many of you are there?
2. Do you need childcare? If so, how old are the young 'uns?
3. Do you have a workshop or skill-share you want to facilitate? If so,
can you give us a description and needs (ie; if you want to lead a puppet
workshop, tell us what supplies you need)
4. Are you planning to get yourself there?
5. Will you be attending the Street Medic track?

Location/Getting there:

The Camp is being held at Harmony Park, a 200 acre music venue near Albert
Lea MN. It is roughly 1 ½ hours south of Minneapolis. For directions see

If you are driving yourself, please try not to arrive to the site before
12 pm on Thursday July 31.  If you need to arrive earlier than that,
please contact us to arrange arrival.

As of this writing, we plan to have a shuttle / car pool leave from the
Seward Cafe in Minneapolis promptly at 12pm on Thursday July 31.

We have a ride share section at our website: Use the comment
section to communicate ride-share information.

Remember this is a semi-primitive camping situation. Come prepared with a
tent, sleeping bag, water bottle, bug repellent, sunscreen, rain
gear,condoms, sunscreen, and anything else you'd bring for a weekend in
the woods. If you have a climbing harness and gear, bring it! We plan to
have some ropes set up for the beginner and experienced folk. Plus,
remember to bring your talent, or lack thereof.  :)  Please DON'T bring
firewood. It will be available on site.

We strive to be as inclusive as possible, so we will have a womyn and trans
only space available for camping and some workshops. Please be
respectful of this space.

This is a sober event. That means no alcohol or drugs. We are unapologetic
about this and will cite several factors for our decision to do this. One
is the wishes of the land owner and to avoid police harassament. We also
feel that a sober space will allow us to focus on the camp and not the
party. We also feel that a truly safe, inclusive space includes
recognizing and combating chemical dependency and abuse within our
communities. It's on open event, but we reserve the right to kick you out
if it becomes an issue.

An on-site medic and mediation team will be available.

Photography is a consent issue. Please don't take pictures without

There is always the possibility that media will show up at the camp,
wanting to ask questions, film or take pictures. For the respect and
safety of others, please do not communicate with the media in any way and
contact the media liaison team ASAP to deal with the situation

Dogs are OK, but PLEASE watch them. We don't have dog care, and really
don't want the land trampled by our four legged friends. If your dog gets
out of hand, bites anyone, or is just a plain pain in the ass, we will ask
you and them to leave.

A kitchen (thank you Seeds of Peace!) with breakfast, lunch, and dinner
will be provided, as will childcare. We are asking everyone to contribute
at least one hour to on-site logistical stuff.

We will have an emergency contact phone number. It will be announced in
the days before camp to those who are RSVP'ed or on the camp specific
announcement list at action-camp2008-subscribe [at]

Members of the Seeds of Peace Collective will be facilitating a number of
the scheduled trainings, and will be assisted by Welcoming Committee
members and others with experience in direct action and practical skill

  Dinner 5PM
  7PM fight the green scare/prisoner support letter writing.

  7PM Open time: medic?

  Friday: Breakfast at 8AM
  9-1PM street medic part 1
  9-1PM: Direct Action 101  (intro, planning, scouting, etc)
  9-1PM: Open time
  1PM: Lunch
  2-6PM: Street medic part 2
  2-6PM: Blockading 101
  2-4PM: Open time
  4-6PM: Gender Dynamics Discussion
  6PM Dinner
  7PM: Medics ?
  7PM: Open time?
  Prisoner letter writing.

  9:30PM: No Idols, No Talent Show

  Saturday: Breakfast at 8AM
  9-1PM street medic part 3
  9-1PM: AP Blockading 201
  9-1PM: Open time ?
  1PM: Lunch
  2-6PM: Street medic part 4
  2-6PM: urban street tactics (de-arresting,movement,communications, etc)
  2-4PM: Coldsnap Legal Collective Training
  4-6pm Group  Process Game/The Elephant Game
  6PM: Dinner

  7PM-9:Open Time
  9PM-10PM: Mock action spokes council

  10PM: We may show a film.

  Sunday: Breakfast 8AM
  9-noon: Camp Blockade
  noon: lunch
  1PM:  action discussion/closing circle

--------5 of 16--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Human rights 7.31 3pm

Thursday, 7/31, 3 to 8:30 pm, the Oromo-American Citizens Council sponsors
an international conference on human rights "Can a Democratic Government
Work in a Multicultural Society?" University of Minnesota Mayo Memorial
Auditorium, 425 Deleware St SE, Mpls.  $5 registration. or 651-917-0430.

--------6 of 16--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: New Hope demo 7.31 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]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 7.31 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]
Subject: Northtown vigil 7.31 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]

--------9 of 16--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Choice 7.31 5:30pm

Thursday, July 31: NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota. Election Fund Event at the
Home of Lisa McDonald on Lake Harriet in South Minneapolis. 5:30 - 7:30
PM. [Let us hope this is not just a lesser-evil blank check to Dems. -ed]

--------10 of 16--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: WAMM meet-up 7.31 6pm

WAMM New Member Meet-Up
Thursday, July 31, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Fire Roast Mountain Café, 3800 37th
Avenue South, Minneapolis.

New, current and re-activating WAMM members welcome. Meet with Ann
Galloway, an experienced WAMM member and peace activist who was once a
part of Peace Fresno, the group featured in Michael Moore's and who began
a Cindy Sheehan solidarity rally in St. Paul. Receive a WAMM packet with
bumper sticker, button, activist info and hear about upcoming local
opportunities to be involved. FFI: Call WAMM, 612-827-5364.

--------11 of 16--------

From: ACLU of Minnesota <pubed [at]>
Subject: 7 dirty words 7.31 6:30pm

The ACLU of Minnesota Young Professionals Presents
"Censorship Isn't Funny"

In commemoration of the 30 year anniversary of the historic Supreme Court
ruling on George Carlin's "7 Dirty Words" act, the ACLU of Minnesota
invites 20 & 30 somethings to join us for an evening of comedy and
discussion on freedom of speech.

Thursday July 31st
6:30 p.m.  9:30 p.m.
Featuring comedian Costaki Economopoulos (

Acme Comedy Club ( 708 North First Street
Minneapolis, MN 55401 $15/person or $5/with student ID

--------12 of 16--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
Subject: AWC/bingo 7.31 7pm

Bingo Fundraiser @ Pi (
Thursday, 7/31, 7pm @ Pi, 2532 25th Ave. S. Mpls.

A benefit for the AWC hosted by our favorite queer bar. Come out, have a
drink, play some bingo, & support the AWC as we prepare for the RNC!

--------13 of 16--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Fringe festival 7.31-8.10

7/31 to 8/10, Minnesota Fringe Festival featuring an eclectic mix of
theater from life-changing to completely flushable.  Searching the "genre"
function by "political" yields such interesting titles as Post-911:
Laughter in the Aftermath; All Rights Reserved: A Libertarian Rage;
Antigone: a Riff on Sophoclese; an adaptation of Ionesco's Rhinoceros were
we all turn into Texas longhorns, Catfight (Bachmann, Ted Haggard and
Larry Craig), Lysistrata 2.0; Tzu's The Art of War; etc etc.  You get the
idea.  Nothing is promised or guaranteed, except that you are unlikely to
see one of those over-produced Guthrie blimps.  Poke around at

--------14 of 16--------

Evil as the Absence of Empathy
by Ernest Partridge
July 26th, 2008

We live in a world... hardened and distorted by hate. We communicate in
the language of fear and violence. Human beings are no longer viewed as
human beings. They are no longer endowed in our eyes, or the eyes of those
who oppose us, with human qualities. They do not love, grieve, suffer,
laugh or weep. They represent cold abstractions of evil. The
death-for-death means we communicate by producing corpses.
  - Chris Hedges

In 1946, Dr. Gustav M. Gilbert, a psychologist fluent in German, was
assigned by the U.S. Army to study the minds and motivations of the Nazi
defendants at the Nuremberg tribunals. The following year, his Nuremberg
Diary was published, containing transcripts of his conversations with the

In words consistent with what I have read of, and about, Gustav Gilbert,
he is portrayed in the 2000 TV film Nuremberg, as telling the Head
Prosecutor Robert Jackson (Alex Baldwin): "I told you once that I was
searching for the nature of evil. I think I've come close to defining it:
a lack of empathy. It's the one characteristic that connects all the
defendants: a genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow man. Evil, I
think, is the absence of empathy".

"Absence of empathy" is likewise, I submit, "the one characteristic that
connects" most of the immoral and misbegotten tenets of Bushism: that
dogmatic mix of market absolutism, libertarianism, corporatism and simple
greed that falsely describes itself as "conservatism," and which I choose
to call "regressivism". "Absence of empathy" is the essence of evil which,
if unchecked and unreversed, is certain to bring about the demise of the
American republic as we know it, just as it led to the fall of the Third

In contrast, empathy, the capacity to recognize and cherish in other
persons, the experience, emotions and aspirations that one is aware of in
oneself, is the moral cornerstone of progressive politics. It is a
principle recognized and taught in all the great world religions,
reiterated by numerous moral philosophers, and validated by the scientific
study of human personality.

Empathy is the foundation of the moral teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. In
that most-quoted New Testament verse, the golden rule, Jesus said: "as ye
would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise". (Luke 6:31,
also Matthew 7:2). Also, "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself".
(Matthew 22:39, also Leviticus 19;18). Both commandments imply recognition
in others of the human dignity and worth that one recognizes in oneself.
In a word, empathy.

The golden rule is echoed in the moral teachings of Islam: "None of you
[truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for
himself". And as Mohamed taught in his last sermon, "Hurt no one so that
no one may hurt you". (Mohamed, last sermon). And Rabbi Hillel, a
contemporary of Jesus, taught "What is hateful to yourself, do not do to
your fellow man. That is the whole Torah; the rest is just commentary".

And yet, how much empathy is to be found among self-proclaimed "Christian"
end-times preachers, such as James Hagee and Tim LeHaye, who eagerly
anticipate "the rapture" and the eternal torment and damnation that awaits
virtually all of humanity, as punishment for the sin of failing to agree
with the preachers' theology? How much empathy is evident in the late
Jerry Falwell's on-air remark to Wolf Blitzer, about Islamic militants,
"If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord," and
Ann Coulter's infamous outburst, "We should invade their countries, kill
their leaders, and convert them to Christianity". Because they explicitly
renounce Jesus' injunction to "love thy enemies" these hate-mongers are,
in a literal and moral sense, "anti-Christs".

            Regressivism and the Absence of Empathy

Empathy is conspicuously absent in the off-hand remarks of George Bush,
his family, and his political allies. For example,

Bush himself, to an ordinary citizen after a campaign event: "Who cares
what you think?" And to Bob Woodward: "History, we dont' know. We'll all
be dead".

The President's mother, Barbara Bush, on Good Morning America: "Why should
we hear about body bags and deaths. Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why
should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?. (March 18,

Dick Cheney, in an exchange with ABC reporter, Martha Raddatz:
Raddatz: Two-third of Americans say [the Iraq War] is not worth fighting.

Cheney: So?

Raddatz: So? You don't care what the American people think?

Cheney: No".

John McCain: "bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran". And in response to the news
that cigarettes are a major US export to Iran, McCain remarked that it
might be "a way of killing 'em".
Former Senator Phil Gramm, economic advisor to John McCain, in an
interview with the Washington Times, remarked that the American economy is
in "a mental recession": "We've sort of become a nation of whiners," he

The foundational doctrines of regressivism are equally devoid of empathy.
For example, Ayn Rand: "Civilization is the progress toward a society of
privacy... the process of setting man free from men". (The Fountainhead)
And "Man must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others
nor sacrificing others to himself". (The Virtue of Selfishness)

Furthermore, Economic Man. (Homo economicus), a central concept of
neo-classical economic theory favored by regressives, is an uncompromising
egoist, whose sole motivation is to "maximize personal utility" or
"preference satisfaction". A "perfect market" of fully informed,
non-colluding, uncoerced "economic men," free of government interference,
the theory tells us, will invariably produce better results for all than
any governmental system yet devised. Never mind that "economic man" and
"the perfect market" are fictions, that never have been and never can be
realized in any human society. (For a defense of this claim, see my
"Beautiful Theory vs. Baffling Reality").

The unfounded yet undiminished right-wing faith in the "wisdom" of the
free-market and in the superiority of the pursuit of individual "utility
maximization" as the engine of social progress, was starkly summed up by
"Gordon Gekko" (Michael Douglas) in the 1987 movie, Wall Street: "Greed .
is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and
captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its
forms - greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge - has marked the
upward surge of mankind".

In fact, history teaches us that greed is not good, and greed does not
work. Homo economicus is, in fact, a moral monster, for he is a being
devoid of empathy and even of conscience. A mere bundle of "consumer
preferences" can not add up to personhood, much less moral agency. When
greed (call it "the profit motive") reigns supreme, "others," be they
employees or fellow citizens, are reduced to impersonal objects. If these
"others" are employees, they are regarded as units of "human capital" to
be replaced by less costly "units" (e.g. "outsourced") whenever possible.
And if they are fellow citizens, they are prospective customers, to be
relieved through "creative marketing" of their disposable wealth. Human,
social, environmental "external costs" be damned. Witness the tobacco

A "society" of private, egoistic, "utility maximizers," devoid of empathy
and unregulated by law and popular government, without shared values,
loyalties and aspirations, is no society at all. It is a Hobbesian state
of nature - a "war of all against all," wherein life becomes "solitary,
poor, nasty, brutish, and short".1

As we are now discovering, to our great regret and sorrow.

                  Progressivism and Empathy

In stark contrast, empathy - awareness of the needs, sufferings,
aspirations, rights, and dignity of others - is the unifying theme of the
progressive agenda, and of the history of political/economic liberalism
(in the traditional sense of the word). The elite and wealthy delegates to
the Continental Congress, when they demanded recognition of their rights,
did not fail at that time to acknowledge the rights of all persons:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal;
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights;
that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

True, at the outset the full "rights" of citizenship were restricted to
white, male, landowners. But through time and constant struggle, those
rights were extended to include all adult citizens, regardless of gender,
race or creed. These struggles, which continue today, were led by
"liberals," and resisted by self-described "conservatives".

Joe Conason eloquently describes these struggles and achievements:

If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being
forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if
you enjoy a forty-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect
your rights - you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and
your water is drinkable - you can thank liberals. If your parents are
eligible for Medicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity
without bankrupting your family - you can thank liberals. If our rivers
are getting cleaner and our air isn't black with pollution; if our
wilderness is protected and our countryside is still green - you can thank
liberals. If people of all races can share the same pubic facilities; if
everyone has the right to vote; if couples fall in love and marry
regardless of race; if we have finally begun to transcend a segregated
society - you can thank liberals. Progressive innovations like those and
so many others were achieved by long, difficult struggles against
entrenched power. What defined conservatism, and conservatives, was their
opposition to every one of those advances. The country we know and love
today was built by those victories for liberalism - with the support of
the American people.2

That public support and the consequent liberal reforms issued from
empathy: from the awareness throughout the general public that oppressed
minorities and economically and educationally disadvantaged individuals,
possess the same sentiments, needs, aspirations and rights that more
fortunate citizens recognized in themselves.

                Regressivism as Psychopathology

Empathy is never totally absent in any functioning human being. A
recognition that other persons with whom one deals have functioning minds
with ideas, emotions, and aspirations is implicit in game playing, in
negotiations, and even ordinary conversation. Self awareness, even that of
a thoroughly egoistic, narcissistic and sociopathic self, can only arise
out of childhood interaction with others. The self is a social construct.

Thus even such sociopaths as George Bush and Dick Cheney will acknowledge
that the bombs dropped on Iraq cause "collateral damage" and thus profound
suffering to innocent civilians. They likewise are aware of the suffering
in New Orleans caused by the mismanagement of the Katrina disaster. They
are, after all, at least minimally sane. Such an awareness of others that
is also devoid of feeling we might call "abstract empathy". The misery to
innocent others that they cause simply does not matter to the Busheviks.
They do not care, unless these moral atrocities exact political costs to

This "abstract empathy" is not the sort of "empathy" that Dr. Gustav
Gilbert found absent among the Nuremberg defendants. The empathy that he
had in mind combines awareness with feelings of concern and with respect
for the rights and integrity of the other.

In contrast, the regressivism of the Bush-Cheney administration would have
us ignore the economic, social and environmental consequences of
unregulated commerce, and also have us dismantle Social Security,
impoverish public education, tolerate inadequate health care for millions
of our fellow citizens, abolish fundamental constitutional rights, and
engage in aggressive wars against unthreatening countries, all of this
with minimal regard for the human misery caused by these policies. To do
all this, requires a deliberate stifling of feelings of empathy, and what
David Hume called the "natural moral sentiment" of benevolence: a genuine
concern for the well-being of others.

Regressives who support such policies are, at worst, simply amoral:
without moral restraint, "rotten to the core". At best, they are
profoundly mistaken: possibly fundamentally decent individuals,
trustworthy, law-abiding, charming friends, devoted spouses and parents,
but bewitched by false dogmas. The former are, by and large, beyond
redemption and are best isolated from political influence and from
positions of public responsibility. The latter might be amenable to
evidence and rational persuasion.

How can such an ideology captivate and take political control of a nation
once renowned and admired for its generosity and compassion and for its
devotion to democracy and human rights?

In part, the rise and dominance of regressivism is the result of a
deliberate and opulently funded public relations campaign, supported for
the past forty years by wealthy individuals and corporations. This
campaign included the establishment of ideological "think tanks" such as
The American Enterprise Institute, The Heritage Foundation, and The
Competitive Enterprise Institute, the abolition of The Fairness Doctrine
and the consolidation of most of the mass media into six "conservative"
mega-conglomerates, enormous expansion of corporate lobbying of Congress,
and a vastly increased corporate involvement in campaign financing, of
both major parties. With conservative Republicans in control of the White
House for all but eight of the past twenty-eight years, the federal courts
have become dominated by right-wing judges.

With these formidable propaganda resources, the resurgent Right has
exploited "natural sentiments" equally fundamental to human nature as
empathy; namely, ethnocentrism (identification with and loyalty to "our
group") and its negative complement, xenophobia (fear, distrust, and
hatred of "outsiders"). The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001
intensified these prejudices, objectifying and depersonalizing the new
enemy (so-called "Islamo-Fascists") while, at the same time, neutralizing
empathetic sentiments toward the residents of these "alien" nations.

With the captive media exploiting and intensifying public fear of
"terrorism," the Bush regime formulated, and the intimidated Congress
readily assented to, assaults upon our traditional civil liberties such as
the PATRIOT Act, the Military Commissions Act, and now the revised FISA

Finally, regressivism feeds upon greed: the relentless corporate drive for
still more profits and political control, and the perpetual cultivation of
consumer demand by the multi-billion dollar advertising and public
relations industries.

But greed is pitiless and blind to the side effects ("externalities") of
the unconstrained appetite for the consumption of consumer goods and for
profit: effects such as poverty, pollution, disease, and the "collateral
damage" of war upon innocent civilians.

A political economy based upon unregulated greed has been tried numerous
times in the past, and has failed in each and every occasion: the French
and Russian Revolutions, the era of the robber barons in the late
Nineteenth Century, the Great Depression of the Thirties. They failed
because when greed rules, the nation's wealth inevitably flows from those
who produce the wealth to those who own and control the wealth until,
eventually, the toleration of the increasingly miserable masses for this
economic injustice collapses, and the oligarchic regime is overthrown.

Once again, regressivism is on the brink of collapse.

Time magazine and the Rockefeller Foundation reported last week that 85%
of US population is unhappy with the US economy.

In April, 80% of Americans believed that the "country is moving in the
wrong direction".

"During the first six months of 2008, 343,159 Americans lost their homes,
up 136% from 145,696 recorded during the same period in 2007".

An alarming and under-reported increase in unemployment and inflation is
underway. (US government cost of living statistics do not include food and
fuel prices).

The latest Gallup Poll reports that Democratic party affiliation leads
Republican by ten points (47% to 37%).

George Bush's approval ratings are at an all-time low at 28% (disapproval
from 61%-69%).

This public sentiment should suffice to overthrow any regime that
maintains power "with the consent of the governed" and subject to recall
by election. Under normal circumstances, these statistics would indicate a
landslide repudiation of the regime in the coming national election.

But these are not normal circumstances, for this regime is supported by a
formidable array of resources: virtually unlimited financial support, a
captive media including a cadre of right-wing pundits, a proven ability to
rig elections along with a refusal of the media to investigate and report
election fraud, oppressive laws, a ruthless GOP campaign organization
unconstrained by facts, fair-play, or even on occasion, by the law. All
these resource might once again overwhelm the "consent of the governed,"
and prolong the regressive regime for another four or even eight years.
But eventually, it must fall. The longer it holds on, the greater the
misery and repression that will ensue, and the more violent the eventual

Best to end it now.

But it will take an extraordinary effort by an overwhelming number of
ordinary citizens to bring it off. There are no guarantees.

1. Thomas Hobbes, The Leviathan #
2. Big Lies, p. 3. #

Ernest Partridge is the co-editor of The Crisis Papers. Read other
articles by Ernest, or visit Ernest's website.

This article was posted on Saturday, July 26th, 2008 at 7:00 am and is
filed under Philosophy. Send to a friend.

comments on this article: so far ...

Giorgio said on July 26th, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

Excellent article!
A valuable addition to other forerunners, like:

1) Beware the Psychopath, Son by Clinton Callahan
2) The trick of the Psychopath's trade by Silvia Cattori
3) Twilight of the Psychopaths by Kevin Barrett
4) Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil by Andrew

Richard W. Posner said on July 26th, 2008 at 11:22 pm #

This is doubtless one of the finest essays I have read in a very long
time. It does an amazing job of pulling together numerous aspects of the
cycle which human history has followed since Cro-Magnon overwhelmed

The author recognizes the fact that those who obsessively seek unlimited
wealth and power are without empathy, they simply do not care. This is so
accurate and so clearly at the root of human suffering. It is almost as if
there was a recessive but persistent gene, coded for evil, which evolution
has been unable to select out in spite of its obvious negative
implications for the survival of the human species.

The responsibility for the catastrophic state we now face, which includes
the climate induced extinction event we have triggered, is placed squarely
where it belongs, in the lap of "that dogmatic mix of market absolutism,
libertarianism, corporatism and simple greed that falsely describes itself
as 'conservatism,' and which I choose to call 'regressivism'". These are
the carriers of the recessive gene I imagined above and the author is
absolutely correct to group these various disciplines together. I have
come to think of them as the "Supremacists". Throughout history they have
risen repeatedly and repeatedly been beaten down only to later rise again.
Their goal is to live in a world with two races of people, the Master Race
and the slaves. Their philosophy, taken to its logical extreme, is simply
the last one alive is the winner.

DavidG. said on July 27th, 2008 at 12:02 am #

That greed is a moral cancer is beyond dispute. That we live in a
fragmenting world that worships greed is beyond dispute. That the few
control the many for their own ends is beyond dispute.
That we humans will bring about our own demise is also beyond dispute.
Hopefully it will come soon!

--------15 of 16--------

Fourth Fleet Steams South
Return of the Gunboat
July 29, 2008

Mexico City.

The resurrection and imminent dispatch of the United States Fourth Fleet
to patrol the coasts of Latin America invokes the bad old days of Monroe
Doctrine impositions and gunboat diplomacy for many citizens of those
southern latitudes.

This April, the U.S. Navy announced the reactivation of the fleet that
historically operated in the south Atlantic during World War II, dueling
with Nazi U-boats.  Activating the Fourth Fleet "demonstrates U.S.
commitment to our global partners," Admiral Gary Roughead explained,
adding a threatening fillip: "The Fourth Fleet will send a strong signal
to all Navies operating in the region."

Roughead maintains that the fleet's focus will be on drug interdiction and
"conducting training exercises" and its activation is "non-hostile."
Frank Mora, a professor at the U.S. War College in Leavenworth Kansas told
the Miami Herald, he thought the Fleet could be used in "environmental
emergencies" and to control "youth gangs."

The reactivated flotilla will sail in the strategic area overseen by the
U.S. Southern Command or SOUTHCOM based in Quarry Heights, Panama and is
to be homeported at Mayport in Jacksonville Florida.  The fleet is
expected to group together 11 war ships homeported at Mayport, including
an aircraft carrier (reportedly the soon-to-be commissioned "U.S.S. George
H.W. Bush") and a nuclear submarine.  To allay Latin leaders' fears,
Undersecretary of State for Hemispheric Affairs Tom Shannon was deployed
to South America during July.

The Undersecretary's visit to Brazil proved abrasive.  He was met by
raucous demonstrators in Brazilia and closely questioned on the floor of
the Brazilian Senate about the Fourth Fleet's revival - one lawmaker
recalled how in 1964, U.S. ambassador Lincoln Gordon had threatened to
land marines stationed right off the Brazilian coast if leftist president
Joao Goulart did not resign.  Ex-Brazilian president Jose Sarnay warned of
U.S. Fourth Fleet designs on the enormous Tupi deep-water oil field that
may hold as many as five to eight billion barrels and could turn Brazil
into one of the top five petroleum producers on the planet.

The U.S. Navy currently operates out of six Latin bases - Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba; Quarry Heights, Panama; Aruba, Curacao; Comalapa, El Salvador;
Comayuga, Honduras; and Manta, Ecuador - the last-named about to be shut
down by Ecuador. Incensed by Washington's participation in the March 1st
bombing of a FARC guerrilla camp in the Ecuadoran jungle - Manta is
believed to have provided logistical support for Colombian helicopters -
President Raphael Correa has resolved not to renew the U.S. lease on that
facility when it expires in 2009.  An educated guess has the base being
relocated to La Guajira, Colombia close to the Venezuelan border which
will not make Hugo Chavez happy.

Those attentive to Latin American history do not view the U.S. Fourth
Fleet's intentions as  "non-hostile."  U.S. Naval blockades of Cuba in
1963 during the Soviet-American missile crisis and of revolutionary Mexico
in 1914, stir bitter memories.  The U.S. Navy turned the Caribbean into an
"American lake" from 1914 through the late 1920s, parking its fleet in
Santo Domingo and repeatedly invading Nicaragua.

U.S. Navy flotillas land troops on sovereign soil, their long guns take
out distant targets, and bombing raids and reconnaissance flights are
launched from aircraft carriers.  Just the presence of the Fourth Fleet in
Latin American waters smacks of strategic intimidation.

>From Brazilia, Undersecretary Shannon flew south to Buenos Aires to
deliver the good news that the Fourth Fleet would not enter Argentina's
territorial waters or inland rivers "without being invited."  Shannon's
timing was impeccable.  President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's six
month-old regime, which has been roiled by months of mobilizations led by
big soybean farmers, was on maximum alert - the "soyeros" have blocked the
nation's highways since last January after Fernandez tacked a 15 per cent
tax on exports in order to finance programs for the poor.

Bi-lateral relations between Washington and Buenos Aires have been in the
tank since the U.S. charged supposed bagmen for Venezuelan president Hugo
Chavez with financing Fernandez's campaign. The so-called scandal of the
"Maletas" ($800,000 USD was alleged to have been smuggled into Argentina
in a suitcase or "maleta") is a scenario that Queen Cristina (as she is
taunted by political opponents) labels "garbage."

Writing in the Mexican daily La Jornada, left Latin American analyst Raul
Zebichi concludes that Shannon's voyage to Buenos Aires to sell the Fourth
Fleet to Fernandez during the soyero crisis amounted to "deliberate
destabilization."  The sailing of the Fourth Fleet is "naked aggression by
Washington to regain its hegemony" on a continent where U.S. influence has
been impressively diminished by the serial victories of the Latin American
electoral left.

Undersecretary Shannon then moved on to Bolivia where that majority
indigenous Andean nation's president Evo Morales is viewed by Washington
as one of the ringleaders of the anti-American wave sweeping the southern

Bolivia is not a target for the U.S. Fourth Fleet, having lost its access
to the ocean in the Guano War of the late 19th century.  Nonetheless,
Morales denounced U.S. ambassador Phillip Goldberg's support of the
right-wing "autonomy" movement that is promoting the secession of five
Bolivian provinces, reading Shannon e-mails sent by U.S. AID officials to
Bolivian citizens threatening aid cut-offs if they continued to support
his government.

Only in Colombia, the first stop of Shannon's checkered journey, did he
find some satisfaction.  Touching down soon after the immaculately
scripted "rescue" of Ingrid Betancourt and 14 hostages held by the
weakened FARC guerrilla army, Tom Shannon laid on the blarney.  The Fourth
Fleet's intentions were honorable and "non-hostile." The war ships will
safeguard commercial shipping lanes and provide additional drug

It didn't take much effort to sell President Alvaro Uribe, George Bush's
top flunky in Latin America, on the idea.  Uribe even offered Barranquilla
as a homeport away from home for U.S. war ships.  Fourth Fleet deployment
to Colombia will provide much needed backup for Washington's anti-drug,
War on Terror Plan Colombia, a $6,000,000,000 boondoggle that has
succeeded in expanding the nation's cocaine acreage by 27 per cent in

If Uribe was supportive of the Fourth Fleet's reactivation, Venezuela's
Hugo Chavez was decidedly not, declaring the move to be "an act of war"
and fretting about Yanqui sabotage of offshore oilfields.  In the
Caribbean, Fidel Castro, an 82 year-old columnist for a Cuban communist
youth paper, sneered that the Fourth Fleet is "the flotilla of
intervention".  Castro has had first hand experience with U.S. Naval

One immediate response of Latin America's leftist leaders to Washington's
unilateral revival of the fleet has been the formation of UNASUR, a
12-nation mutual security pact that pointedly excludes the U.S.
Spearheaded by Brazil, the continent's economic powerhouse, UNASUR seems
designed to boost Brazilian armament industry sales as much as to stave
off U.S. stabs to reestablish its hegemony over Latin America.

Mexico, which is banking on deep-water oilfields in the Gulf (an area
under Fourth Fleet purview) to revive its sinking reserves, does not seem
alarmed about the war ships on the eastern horizon - despite the rather
touchy dispute over whether Mexico or the U.S. has title to those
deep-water tracts.  The U.S. Navy trains Mexico's Navy and supplies it
with state-of-the-art weaponry.  Under the Merida Initiative, sometimes
tagged Plan Mexico, the Mexican Navy is slated to receive Orion tracking
planes and souped-up interdiction craft, part of the $1,400.000,000 USD
war chest to rearm Mexico's security apparatus - despite its reputation as
one of the worst human rights abusers in the Americas.

Equipment received via the Merida Initiative, actually a hefty subsidy to
U.S. defense contractors, will forge what Uruguayan political writer
Carlos Fazio dubs "the third link" by which the Mexican security apparatus
is annexed to Washington.  Indeed, just the need for spare parts will tie
the Mexican military to the Pentagon for the life of the planes,
helicopters, swift boats, and transport carriers Plan Mexico will buy.

Actually, the Merida Initiative, born in the Yucatan city of that name in
a surge of enthusiasm during Bush's first encounter with Mexico's Felipe
Calderon in 2007, almost didn't make it to the wire.  When the U.S.
Senate, urged on by Vermont's Patrick Leahy, voted to impose human rights
oversight on the package, Mexico almost backed out, accusing Washington of
interfering in its domestic affairs.

The Senate bill would have mandated civilian trials for Mexican military
personnel accused of human rights violation and would have strengthened
the hand of non-government human rights organizations to watchdog how
Merida Initiative equipment was used. The measure would also have pressed
for an investigation into the 2006 murder of independent U.S. journalist
Brad Will by Oaxaca security forces - indeed, the human rights components
of Plan Mexico were largely due to the persistence of Brad's friends who
were sometimes escorted from congressional hearings for vehemently pushing
their case.

The bill's human rights provisions were rejected by all three sides of
Mexico's political spectrum.  Legislators compared the call for compliance
with the odious "certification" process by which the U.S. Congress
"certified" Mexico's cooperation in Washington's Drug War each year
through the mid-1990s, a source of much distrust.  But Mexican politicos
were not alone in their contempt for the new Plan Mexico - Bush White
House drug czar John Waters accused Leahy and his Democratic cohorts of
"sabotaging" the agreement, and Homeland Security chieftain Michael
Chertoff warned that the human rights provisions were "unacceptable."

The Senate bill was sent back to Congress for rectification but reemerged
with an almost identical text - even the call for resolving Brad's murder
was left intact.  Yet in the magic realist mindset that passes for
politics here, President Calderon, his Interior Secretary Juan Camilo
Mourino, and Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa chose not to acknowledge
the unreconstructed language and signed off on the grant.  Espinosa made
much of the affirmation that no U.S. soldier will set foot on Mexican soil
as the result of the Merida Initiative - a phenomenon never contemplated
by the agreement in the first place.

George Bush signed the Merida Initiative into law June 30 and in mid-July
Chertoff flew into Mexico City for discussions on implementation and to
"evaluate eventual risks to mutual security."

Oddly, the day the Homeland Security boss went home, the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration leaked an intriguing story to the daily El
Universal: Mexican drug war troops had discovered a car bomb factory in
Culiacan, Sinaloa, where a bloody battle between cartels has taken over
500 lives since the first of the year.  The DEA suspected that the Sinaloa
cartels' hit men were being sent through Chavez's Venezuela (where else?)
to Iran (where else?) for advanced terrorist training.

Preposterous? Under current security arrangements, the Iran gambit could
become a pretext for the U.S. military occupation of Mexico, which on the
face of it is of course highly unlikely.  But Plan Mexico folds into the
ASPAN - the North American Agreement on Security and Prosperity, a sort of
security and energy NAFTA.  Much as NAFTA was aimed at integrating the
economies of its three member nations, ASPAN proposes to integrate
security and energy structures - a goal greatly advanced by Plan Mexico.

In addition to ASPAN, Mexico has been designated the U.S.'s southern
security perimeter by NORCOM, the United States Northern Command, which is
responsible for keeping terrorists out of North America.  The suggestion
that Iran-trained terrorists are car-bombing a few hundred miles south of
the border could have the stealth bombers on the runways at NORCOM
headquarters in a hollowed-out mountain in Colorado in a jiffy.

Foreign minister Espinosa's affirmation that Plan Mexico will not land
U.S. troops on Mexican shores flies in the face of the facts.  Since 2006,
the Yanks have offered at least 60 training courses to Mexican army and
navy troops inside Mexico - 700 Mexicans are trained in the United States
at the Center for Strategic Forces in Fort Bragg North Carolina under the
provisions of the IMET program.  U.S. Naval trainers offer courses at
Veracruz on the Gulf Coast and Manzanillo on the Pacific.

But the physical presence of U.S. military personnel on the ground here is
mooted by the Pentagon's reliance on civilian mercenaries.  SY Coleman,
which advertises itself as "a warrior in the global war on terror" on its
web page, has been recruiting pilots "with experience in international
military conflicts" to fly reconnaissance over Mexico's Caribbean
off-shore platforms, an inviting terrorist target.  Blackwater WorldWide
just opened its western training facilities in a huge warehouse several
hundred yards from the U.S. - Mexican border on the Otay Mesa in San
Diego, and in July provided security for John McCain on a Mexico City
campaign stopover according to knowledgeable sources, that notorious
mercenary army's first known sighting inside Mexico.

Blackwater has recently been awarded big boodle Department of Defense drug
war contracts and appears to be bulking up to challenge DynCorps which
holds the franchise on privatizing Washington's War on Drugs in Latin

With the Yanquis' Fourth Fleet working Latin America's Atlantic coast, the
United States Coast Guard patrols its Pacific flank.  During the last week
in July, the Coast Guard and the Mexican Navy found themselves under
submarine attack - a 36-foot submergible with five tons of Colombian
cocaine aboard was spotted by the Americanos' radar 100 miles off Oaxaca
and towed to port where the crew was jailed.

In addition to cocaine, Pacific shipping lanes are also important to
liquid natural gas tankers, another inviting terrorist target, operating
under contracts with Spanish energy titan REPSOL between Peru and LNG
terminals in Manzanillo in southern Mexico and the Sempra Corporation's
Ensenada facility hard by the U.S. border.  In fact, the Ensenada
terminal, which provides San Diego with energy, was to have been located
in that U.S. port city but fears the plant could be taken out by
terrorists moved it to Mexico.

Deploying the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which is homeported in San Diego, to
Latin America's west coast, is surely being weighed by Navy brass.

What does presumptive President Barack Obama think about all this updated
gunboat diplomacy? The only clue voters have as to Obama's Latin policies
was a speech he delivered months ago to win the hearts and minds of the
gusano-laced Cuban American National Foundation in Miami in which
platitudes were a dime a dozen - no end to the Cuban embargo, Hugo Chavez
was "dangerous", Colombia's Uribe a "democratic hero."  Given this
repertoire it doesn't sound like much is going to change when Obama takes
the helm of state.  All the pieces are in place - Plan Mexico, Plan
Colombia, ASPAN, SOUTHCOM, NORCOM, and NAFTA - to keep the Consensus of
Washington thriving during an Obama presidency.

"What's good for Latin America is good for the United States of America"
the presumptive president told the gusanos in Miami, failing to annunciate
the other half of the equation: what's good for the United States is
usually very bad for Latin America.

John Ross is in the heat of the first draft of "El Monstruo - Tales of
Dread & Redemption In The Most Monstrous Megalopolis On Planet Earth".
Write johnross [at]

--------16 of 16--------

Forwarded by Erin Betlock <ebetlock [at]>
SUBJECT:  The George W. Bush Presidential Library 

President George W. Bush's Presidential Library is now in the planning
stages. The library will include:

 The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.

 The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won't be able to remember anything.

 The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't even have to show up.

 The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.

 The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out. 

 The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.

 The National Debt room which is huge and has no ceiling.

 The Tax Cut Room with entry only to the wealthy.

 The Economy Room which is in the toilet.

 The Iraq War Room: After you complete your first tour, they make you to
go back for a 2nd,     3rd, 4th, and sometimes 5th tour. 

 The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with
shotgun gallery.

 The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.

 The Supremes Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.

 The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite
Republican Senators.

 The Decider Room complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board,
dice, coins, & straws.  

The museum will have an electron microscope to help you locate the
President's accomplishments.


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