Progressive Calendar 11.28.08
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Fri, 28 Nov 2008 15:36:46 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   11.28.08

1. Peace walk       11.29 9am Cambridge MN
2. NWN4P Mtka       11.29 11am
3. Book sale        11.29 12noon
4. NWN4P GoValley   11.29 1:30pm
5. Northtown vigil  11.29 2pm
6. Fair trade mkt   11.29 2pm
7. RNC Coleman xmas 11.29 4pm
8. Robert Jensen    11.29 9pm

9. Stillwater vigil 11.30 1pm

10. David Weisberg - Dave Bicking needs your support
11. Wamsutta James - Suppressed Thanksgiving speech
12. Colleen Long   - Wal-Mart worker dies after shoppers knock him down
13. Ralph Nader    - Open up those corporate tax returns
14. John Walsh     - 2008 crisis root cause: impoverished US worker
15. Eric Walberg   - Same old gang: Obama's odious entourage
16. Stephen Gowans - Prominent progressive intellectuals

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

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Peace walk 11.29 9am Cambridge MN

every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM
Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street


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

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: NWN4P Mtka 11.29 11am

NWN4P-Minnetonka demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, at Hwy. 7
and 101.  Park in the Target Greatland lot; meet near the
fountain. We will walk along the public sidewalk. Signs available.


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

From: Arise!Bookstore <arise [at] arisebookstore.org>
Subject: Book sale 11.29 12noon

["I already have a book. For why do I need another book for?" -GWB.
"You've already colored every page. You could use another." -aide.
"Oh. Yeah, gosh, yer right. I mean, I'm right."
"How about two, you'll have a lot of free time pretty soon."
"Yeah. Why can't I ever thing about those thinks myselve?"
"That's what you have us for, Mr President."
"But I'm the decider, right?"
"Of course, Mr President."
"Tell me that super wonderful thingie again."
"You're super wonderful, Mr President."]

Don't have a lot of holiday spending money this year?
Come to the Women's Prison Book Project Holiday Book Sale
Saturday, November 29th
12-5pm
$2 paperback
$3 hardcover
Bunches of almost new books, fiction and non-fiction.
Questions? Email:womensprisonbookproject [at] gmail.com

Also' Check out all the great sales at Arise! on Saturday. 10% off
everything in the store, lots of new radical books and zines!

One-Stop Socially Conscious Shopping!
Arise! Bookstore
2441 Lyndale Ave S


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

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: NWN4P GoldenValley 11.29 1:30pm

Saturday, 1:30-2:30 PM Golden Valley - NW Neighbors for Peace will hold
large banners on the pedestrian bridge over Highway 55, just west of
Winnetka, in Golden Valley every Saturday. There is plenty of parking in
the lot at the NW corner of the intersection; all are welcome. FYI Carole
763-546-5368.


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

From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 11.29 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday
2-3pm


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

From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Fair Trade Mkt 11.29 2pm

Iraqi American Reconciliation Project at Sustainable Fair Trade Market
Saturday, November 29 - 2-7 PM
Sunday, November 30 - 2 PM
St. Joan of Arc Church
4536 Third Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55419

Come join us for a weekend of fun and sustainable, fair trade shopping!
This weekend, November 29 and 30, the St. Joan of Arc Eco-Spirituality
Group and Ministries International are hosting a fair trade market.  Come
shop your values among 20 sustainable, fair trade businesses, including
the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project (IARP).

The Iraqi American Reconciliation Project's (IARP) mission is to "promote
reconciliation between the people of the United States and Iraq in
response to the devastation affecting Iraqi families, society, and
culture. IARP recognizes the common humanity of the people of Iraq and the
people of the United States."  The IARP works towards this goal through
three programs: Letters for Peace, Water for Peace, and The Iraq Art
Project.

Further Saturday Events Along with Fair Trade Market:
SJA Organic cotton bag to first 50 participants
Art Scraps family activity from 3-5 PM Egan Room
Organic Wine & Local Cheeses 6-7 PM - outside church
Family passport activity both days

FFI: St. Joan of Arc Church 612-823-8205


--------7 of 16--------

From: James Lockwood <james.lockwood [at] ci.stpaul.mn.us>
Subject: RNC Coleman's xmas 11.29 4pm [ed head]

[A chance to see downtown StPaul without an army of robocops tasing and
spraying you! Or closing the bridges! Or arresting reporters!  See Chris
"RNC" Coleman's shiny red nose! Big Brother bless us, everyone!  -ed]

Public Invited to Join Mayor Coleman for Holiday Tree Lighting,
WinterSkate Opening

Downtown Saint Paul will transform into a winter wonderland Saturday when
Mayor Chris Coleman celebrates the ceremonial lighting of the holiday tree
in Rice Park and the grand opening of Wells Fargo WinterSkate at Landmark
Center.

The public is invited to join Mayor Coleman for the festivities from 4
p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, beginning with the opening of the
WinterSkate ice rink. Along with the Saint Paul Police Band Drum Line, the
celebration will include the St. Paul Figure Skating Club and the cast of
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts' Irving Berlin's White
Christmas.

"Saint Paul is the holiday destination for family fun and cheer,"
Mayor Coleman said. "With Rice Park decorated for the season, the
refrigerated ice rink open to the public, White Christmas playing at the
Ordway, and Holiday Lights in the Park at Phalen Park, Saint Paul is a
magical place. Thanks to the work of all of our partners, I encourage all
residents to come skating, enjoy the lights and partake in the food,
culture, and entertainment options the city has to offer."

The Mayor will flip the switch to illuminate a 90-foot tall tree, rivaling
that in New York's Rockefeller Center. The Rice Park tree will remain lit
by more than 30,000 energy-efficient LED lights, 24 hours a day through
the end of the year.

WinterSkate is a free outdoor refrigerated ice rink adjacent to Landmark
Plaza that will stay open through Feb. 1. In addition to a warming house,
hot chocolate and snacks, skate rental is available on-site for $2 per
person.

Wells Fargo WinterSkate and Rice Park powered by Xcel Energy provide
outdoor recreation and festivities for the whole family throughout the
winter season. For more information, visit
www.capitalcitypartnership.com/events/winterskate.shtml or call (651)
291-5608.

[Note how every big event now has a mega-corporate label. Corps take
possession of our holidays and our spaces and our minds and souls, and all
they ask back are mega-mega-bailouts. What a deal. -ed]


--------8 of 16--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: Robert Jensen 11.29 9pm

Good Minneapolis Television Network (MTN) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and
Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow!  Households with basic cable may
watch.

Sat, 11/29, 9pm and Tues, 12/2, 8am **
Mistaken Identities: Nation, Race and Gender

Interview of Robert Jensen.  A writer for alternative and mainstream media
on such subjects as foreign policy, politics, and race, professor Jensen's
books include... "Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins
to the Mainstream", "Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity",
"The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege" and
"Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity".


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

From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 11.30 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to
<http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

[For even more information you could just make something up, eg "You will
be met by a team of dancing girls who will follow you home". -ed]


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

From: David Weisberg <dsweisberg [at] yahoo.com>
Subject: Dave Bicking needs your support

Dave Bicking for City Council? for Mayor? President???  As you may
remember, Dave ran for City Council from the 9th Ward in 2005 and received
over 30% of the vote in a 3-way race. He is now considering his options
for another run next fall.

If you'd like to give him some encouragement, one way would be to help him
pay off his debt from the 2005 campaign, of which nearly $4000 remains.
 You can legally donate up to $100 per person in 2008. (If you're one of
the very few people who donated so far this year and don't remember how
much you gave, I can tell you.) If he runs again in 2009 you can donate
another $300/person then.

Checks should be made out to Bicking for City Council and can be given to
Dave or mailed to me at 2425 E. Franklin, #401, Minneapolis, MN
55406.  Thanks for all your past support.  David Weisberg Treasurer,
Bicking for City Council dsweisberg [at] yahoo.com


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

Suppressed Thanksgiving Speech Of Wamsutta (Frank B.) James, Wampanoag

This is the Suppressed speech of Wamsutta (Frank B.) James,
Wampanoag. that was to be delivered at Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1970.

The Massachusetts Department of Commerce asked the Wampanoag Indians
to select a speaker to mark the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims'
arrival, and the first Thanksgiving.

Three hundred fifty years after the Pilgrims began their invasion of the
land of the Wampanoag, their "American" descendants planned an anniversary
celebration. Still clinging to the white schoolbook myth of friendly
relations between their forefathers and the Wampanoag, the anniversary
planners thought it would be nice to have an Indian make an appreciative
and complimentary speech at their state dinner.  Frank James was asked to
speak at the celebration. He accepted. The planners, however, asked to see
his speech in advance of the occasion, and it turned out that Frank James'
views - based on history rather than mythology - were not what the
Pilgrims' descendants wanted to hear. Frank James refused to deliver a
speech written by a public relations person. Frank James did not speak at
the anniversary celebration. If he had spoken, this is what he would have
said:

"Information Clearinghouse" - I speak to you as a man - a Wampanoag Man. I
am a proud man, proud of my ancestry, my accomplishments won by a strict
parental direction ("You must succeed - your face is a different color in
this small Cape Cod community!").  I am a product of poverty and
discrimination from these two social and economic diseases. I, and my
brothers and sisters, have painfully overcome, and to some extent we have
earned the respect of our community. We are Indians first - but we are
termed "good citizens."  Sometimes we are arrogant but only because
society has pressured us to be so.

It is with mixed emotion that I stand here to share my thoughts. This is a
time of celebration for you - celebrating an anniversary of a beginning
for the white man in America. A time of looking back, of reflection. It is
with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People.

Even before the Pilgrims landed it was common practice for explorers to
capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them as slaves for 220
shillings apiece. The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod
for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen
their corn and beans. Mourt's Relation describes a searching party of
sixteen men. Mourt goes on to say that this party took as much of the
Indians' winter provisions as they were able to carry.

Massasoit, the great Sachem of the Wampanoag, knew these facts, yet he and
his People welcomed and befriended the settlers of the Plymouth
Plantation. Perhaps he did this because his Tribe had been depleted by an
epidemic. Or his knowledge of the harsh oncoming winter was the reason for
his peaceful acceptance of these acts. This action by Massasoit was
perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white
man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end;
that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free
people.

What happened in those short 50 years? What has happened in the last 300
years? History gives us facts and there were atrocities; there were broken
promises - and most of these centered around land ownership. Among
ourselves we understood that there were boundaries, but never before had
we had to deal with fences and stone walls. But the white man had a need
to prove his worth by the amount of land that he owned. Only ten years
later, when the Puritans came, they treated the Wampanoag with even less
kindness in converting the souls of the so-called "savages." Although the
Puritans were harsh to members of their own society, the Indian was
pressed between stone slabs and hanged as quickly as any other "witch."

And so down through the years there is record after record of Indian lands
taken and, in token, reservations set up for him upon which to live. The
Indian, having been stripped of his power, could only stand by and watch
while the white man took his land and used it for his personal gain. This
the Indian could not understand; for to him, land was survival, to farm,
to hunt, to be enjoyed. It was not to be abused. We see incident after
incident, where the white man sought to tame the "savage" and convert him
to the Christian ways of life. The early Pilgrim settlers led the Indian
to believe that if he did not behave, they would dig up the ground and
unleash the great epidemic again.

The white man used the Indian's nautical skills and abilities. They let
him be only a seaman - but never a captain. Time and time again, in the
white man's society, we Indians have been termed "low man on the totem
pole."

Has the Wampanoag really disappeared? There is still an aura of mystery.
We know there was an epidemic that took many Indian lives - some
Wampanoags moved west and joined the Cherokee and Cheyenne. They were
forced to move. Some even went north to Canada! Many Wampanoag put aside
their Indian heritage and accepted the white man's way for their own
survival. There are some Wampanoag who do not wish it known they are
Indian for social or economic reasons.

What happened to those Wampanoags who chose to remain and live among the
early settlers? What kind of existence did they live as "civilized"
people? True, living was not as complex as life today, but they dealt with
the confusion and the change. Honesty, trust, concern, pride, and politics
wove themselves in and out of their [the Wampanoags'] daily living. Hence,
he was termed crafty, cunning, rapacious, and dirty.

History wants us to believe that the Indian was a savage, illiterate,
uncivilized animal. A history that was written by an organized,
disciplined people, to expose us as an unorganized and undisciplined
entity. Two distinctly different cultures met. One thought they must
control life; the other believed life was to be enjoyed, because nature
decreed it. Let us remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the
white man. The Indian feels pain, gets hurt, and becomes defensive, has
dreams, bears tragedy and failure, suffers from loneliness, needs to cry
as well as laugh. He, too, is often misunderstood.

The white man in the presence of the Indian is still mystified by his
uncanny ability to make him feel uncomfortable. This may be the image the
white man has created of the Indian; his "savageness" has boomeranged and
isn't a mystery; it is fear; fear of the Indian's temperament!

High on a hill, overlooking the famed Plymouth Rock, stands the statue of
our great Sachem, Massasoit. Massasoit has stood there many years in
silence. We the descendants of this great Sachem have been a silent
people. The necessity of making a living in this materialistic society of
the white man caused us to be silent. Today, I and many of my people are
choosing to face the truth. We ARE Indians!

Although time has drained our culture, and our language is almost extinct,
we the Wampanoags still walk the lands of Massachusetts. We may be
fragmented, we may be confused. Many years have passed since we have been
a people together. Our lands were invaded. We fought as hard to keep our
land as you the whites did to take our land away from us. We were
conquered, we became the American prisoners of war in many cases, and
wards of the United States Government, until only recently.

Our spirit refuses to die. Yesterday we walked the woodland paths and
sandy trails. Today we must walk the macadam highways and roads. We are
uniting We're standing not in our wigwams but in your concrete tent. We
stand tall and proud, and before too many moons pass we'll right the
wrongs we have allowed to happen to us.

We forfeited our country. Our lands have fallen into the hands of the
aggressor. We have allowed the white man to keep us on our knees.  What
has happened cannot be changed, but today we must work towards a more
humane America, a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are
important; where the Indian values of honor, truth, and brotherhood
prevail.

You the white man are celebrating an anniversary. We the Wampanoags will
help you celebrate in the concept of a beginning. It was the beginning of
a new life for the Pilgrims. Now, 350 years later it is a beginning of a
new determination for the original American: the American Indian.

There are some factors concerning the Wampanoags and other Indians across
this vast nation. We now have 350 years of experience living amongst the
white man. We can now speak his language. We can now think as a white man
thinks. We can now compete with him for the top jobs. We're being heard;
we are now being listened to. The important point is that along with these
necessities of everyday living, we still have the spirit, we still have
the unique culture, we still have the will and, most important of all, the
determination to remain as Indians. We are determined, and our presence
here this evening is living testimony that this is only the beginning of
the American Indian, particularly the Wampanoag, to regain the position in
this country that is rightfully ours.

Wamsutta September 10, 1970


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

Wal-Mart worker dies after shoppers knock him down
By COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press Writer Colleen
Long, Associated Press Writer 59 mins ago

NEW YORK - A worker was killed in the crush Friday after a throng of
shoppers eager for post-Thanksgiving bargains burst through the doors at a
suburban Wal-Mart, authorities said.

At least four other people were injured, and the store in Valley Stream on
Long Island was closed.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in Bentonville, Ark., called the incident a "tragic
situation" and said the employee came from a temporary agency and was
doing maintenance work at the store.

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," co-worker Jimmy Overby, 43, told the
Daily News. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and
killed in front of me. They took me down too. ...  I literally had to
fight people off my back."

Nassau County police said the 34-year-old worker was taken to a hospital
where he was pronounced dead at about 6 a.m. The man's name was not
released and the cause of death was not immediately known.

A police statement said shortly after the store's 5 a.m. opening time,
shoppers "physically broke down the doors, knocking (the worker) to the
ground."

A metal portion of the door was crumpled like an accordion.

Shoppers around the country lined up early outside stores in the annual
bargain hunting ritual known as Black Friday. Many stores open early and
stay open late, and some of the most dramatic bargains are available in
limited quantities.

Among the bargains offered by Wal-Mart for Friday were Samsung 50-inch
high definition Plasma TVs for less than $800.

Witnesses told the Daily News that before the store was closed, eager
shoppers streamed past emergency crews as they worked furiously to save
the worker's life.

"They were working on him, but you could see he was dead," said Halcyon
Alexander, 29. "People were still coming through."

A 28-year-old pregnant woman was taken to a hospital for observation, and
she and the unborn baby were both reported to be OK, said Sgt.  Anthony
Repalone, a Nassau County police spokesman. Four or five other people
suffered minor injuries, he said.

Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman at National Retail Federation, said the group
knew of no other incident where a retail employee has died working on the
day after Thanksgiving.

Wal-Mart is working closely with police, company spokesman Dan Fogleman
said.

"The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top
priority," Fogleman said.  "Our thoughts and prayers are with them and
their families at this difficult time."


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

After $7.6 Trillion in Bailouts, the Public Has the Right to Know
Open Up Those Corporate Tax Returns
By RALPH NADER
CounterPunch
November 27, 2008

It has never been more clear how much corporations depend on We, the
People for their very existence. Corporations are given the right to exist
through a public charter. For public corporations, shareholders are
bestowed with limited liability, and they benefit from a public system of
securities regulation that gives investors confidence to invest. In the
best of times, corporations benefit both from public goods (public roads
and infrastructure, public investment in R&D) and targeted benefits (tax
subsidies, loan guarantees, and much more). In the worst of times, as we
now see, the largest corporations can expect massive public support.
Bloomberg reports that the United States has already committed an amazing
$7.76 trillion - more than half of U.S. GDP - in funds for bailouts,
guarantees, share purchases, insurance programs, swaps and more.

Don't We, the People have the right to expect something in return?

How about starting with public release of the income tax returns of all
corporations above a certain size (say, $10 million in assets)?

In October, a former Bush administration head of the Internal Revenue
Service, Mark Everson, proposed exactly that in the Washington Post.

Wrote Everson,

"Federal tax returns include important information about corporations
beyond that available in financial statements. Making corporate returns
available for public inspection would provide a powerful tool to analysts
who follow companies and industries, and it would help others better
evaluate counterparties and risk. It would assist other federal and state
regulators, who currently are prohibited from reviewing the details of
federal returns. (The IRS itself is precluded from sharing returns with
the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department except
in narrow circumstances.) Large corporations file their federal tax
returns electronically, so the data can easily be shared. Information
returns filed by not-for-profits are already available online."

Disclosure of corporate income tax returns would help offset the
intentional obscurity and complexity surrounding corporate records that
has so directly contributed to the current financial crisis.

It would also lead to much better tax policy. President-elect Obama has
stated that he and his administration will carefully review every budget
expenditure, in order to save taxpayer dollars and eliminate or curtail
programs that have outlived their usefulness or never should have been
started. This is a welcome commitment. Aside from cutting wasteful
Pentagon spending, however, the really big ways to improve the
government's balance sheet are in eliminating unfair, inefficient
corporate tax loopholes, and escapes to tax havens abroad.

The complexity of the tax code - itself the product of long-term,
persistent and intensive lobbying - invites esoteric gaming by large
corporations, aided and abetted by lawyers and accountants.

Some tax provisions are included in the Code with almost no one other than
the lobbyists who wrote them understanding what their implications will
be.

And some tax provisions are muscled through by powerful interests, but
impose public costs not fully understood at the time of enactment, while
offering minimal public benefits.

If corporate tax returns were made public, citizen advocates and other
monitors would be able to root out tax abuses, and rally to have them
repealed. The government - that is, the taxpayers - would stand to recoup
tens of billions of dollars, or more, to be more appropriately allocated.

Corporations, naturally, would object to mandatory disclosure of their tax
returns. They would claim a right to privacy. But corporations are legal
fictions, not people with legitimate privacy concerns. There should be no
corporate right to privacy.

Corporations would also argue that disclosing tax returns would force them
to reveal proprietary information. But that claim pales beside the broad
public interest in gaining access to corporate returns, especially in this
period of cascading mega bailouts. And, if corporations can identify some
narrow and legitimate right to proprietary protection, let them do so.
Then those specific areas can be excluded from disclosure.

Disclosure of corporate tax returns would be administratively simple. As
Everson notes, the IRS already requires that corporations file their
returns electronically. And there are precedents even from the pre-digital
age. Wisconsin, for example, required corporate tax returns to be
disclosed, before modifying its rules several decades ago.

In the first week of December, the auto industry CEOs will again appear
before the Senate Banking and House Financial Services committees, to make
the case for receiving billions in tax payer bailout monies. Hopefully,
they will find a way to get to Washington other than by chartering their
corporate jets. Chairman Chris Dodd and Chairman Barney Frank should
instruct the CEOs that they should come with their corporate tax returns
in hand, ready to share them with the American people. That will open the
gates for a new standard of openness that should apply to all
corporations.

Ralph Nader is the author of The Seventeen Traditions.


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

The Impoverishment of the American Worker
The Root Cause of the Crisis of 2008
By JOHN WALSH
CounterPunch
November 27, 2008

"Why have you raised the wages of your workers, Mr. Ford"?

"So that someone can buy my cars".

Why is the crash and depression of 2008 shrouded in mystery?  Why is it
not possible to explain the crisis in simple terms that do not involve
financial instruments which no one understands - not even their creators?
Why have the pundits and economists resorted to little more than a
primitive analogy to temperature, that is, the credit market has "frozen
up".  Or a psychological one - that this is simply a crisis of confidence.
The banks will not lend even though they are being provided heaps of cash
by their government; but still there is no lending and no one can or will
say why.  Is there a real reason why credit is not available and why banks
will not lend?  Either no one knows, or the answer is unthinkable for the
elite and unspeakable for the Commentariat.

There are major factors at work in the economy for decades, which are
evident to even the most casual observer; and these, it would appear, are
now coming home to roost.  Since the 1970s the real wages of American
workers have been falling - a decline now lasting over 30 years.
Similarly, membership in unions has plummeted as the government has made
it harder to organize and employers have become ever more adept at
shutting unions out.  At the same time, the Democratic Party supposedly
the representative of the working class has sold out its base at every
turn.  Today the wealthiest 400 Americans sit atop a mountain of wealth
equal to the wealth of the bottom half of the population, about 150
million Americans.  And of course many jobs have been lost to overseas
factories, many of them funded by American capital.  All of this is a boon
to those at the top.  And all this means that the purchasing power of the
average American has fallen.

At the same time, Americans have systematically been deprived of other
means of making purchases.  Defined benefit pension plans have all but
disappeared, and there are calls for the remaining ones to be dismantled.
Social security is not an adequate retirement program, leaving ever more
people in poverty or close to it, or working until their dying day.  And
education is more and more beyond the reach of those who want to
"purchase" it, a real mystery, since faculty salary and benefits are in
sharp decline.  (University CEO's however are paid ever more handsomely.)
Medicare, as a way for seniors to "purchase" health care, is still not
comprehensive, and health insurance for all others is non-existent or
prohibitively expensive ever less adequate even for those who have it.  In
previous downturns health care was "counter cyclical" but not this time
according to The Wall Street Journal.

So what has been the solution to keep the economy going in this situation?
The answer is easy - credit.  Since the 1970's the credit card has emerged
as part of our life.  Credit has been extended to anyone and everyone.
And plastic credit has gradually become an ever more burdensome form of
usury, with stinging and often disabling penalties, much to the delight of
the creditors who simply find ways to extend more credit and extract more
money.  Credit has also been extended for mortgages which the creditors,
banks and others, are only too happy to lend on the assumption, which no
one dared question, that home prices always rise and the borrower can
always be made to pay more.  An army of real estate agents serves as
enforcers for endless property inflation.

One other solution for the plight of the impoverished American is import
of goods from overseas.  But what can America provide in return?  Nothing,
is the answer for the long term.  For the short term the answer is dollars
which others have accepted despite their declining value and because at
least fossil fuels can be purchased with them.  But the dollar is ever
less attractive for this reason.  Similarly military Keynsianism has a
limited ability to prime the pump in the long term since it is
unproductive and there are limits to the ability of the US to force arms
sales down the gullet of "allies".

That such factors are operative is beyond dispute.  But why has the crisis
hit now?  What is the straw that has broken the back of the economy?  It
would to the war on Iraq and the Muslim world, although it may be simply a
coincidence that the economy has crashed as Iraq has burned.  In a fairly
short time the Iraq war has added another $3-5 trillion dollars of debt to
the present and future balance sheets in the US, according to economists
Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes.  And with it has come the decline of the
dollar, which Paul Craig Roberts has documented so convincingly on
CounterPunch.

A simple comparison illustrates the truth of this analysis. Last week the
Finance Minister of France was interviewed at length on CPB's News Hour.
She pointed out that France while not growing spectacularly is not in
recession!  Why?  Good pensions, public sector health care insurance,
public sector education and no crazy mortgage schemes.  And in France a
credit card is a rare thing - debit cards yes, credit cards, no.  All
these things are "counter-cyclical" as they say.  Of course it remains to
be seen whether France can escape the downward pull of the US economy.

What does recovery for the US economy entail?  Certainly not giving more
to the banks which have a disappearing class of worthwhile debtors and
hence no one to lend to.   But that is precisely the strategy which W. and
Obama are pursuing.  Such a strategy cannot possibly work because there
are no credit worthy borrowers - and so far it has not.  Quite simply the
system has to reverse itself to save itself - and there is little sign of
that.  The idea that the rich should get poorer and vice versa has no
precedent in this society.  And Obama shows very little of such
tendencies, and his advisers are dead set against it.

So here we are - with a capitalism that has been too successful at
extracting wealth and no remedy in sight.  Quite simply there are ever
fewer people who can afford to buy Mr. Ford's cars.  This is simply a
crisis of overproduction - not a new idea, of course, but one that seems
to explain the present state of affairs very adequately.  Could it be the
end of the road for this system?  Probably not, because it has still a
role to play in the developing world.  But it would seem that we are in
for a lot of suffering, a lot of turmoil and considerable opening for some
radical changes in our way of life - for better or worse.

John Walsh is a professor at U Mass. He is not an a practitioner of the
Dismal Science, and he frankly doubts that "economics" as taught in the
universities now, as distinguished from political economy, is a valid
discipline. He has some knowledge of the physicists and mathematicians who
put together the Wall Street "instruments" that have triggered the present
crisis.  Many of these people knew that they were simply providing their
bosses with simulations that proved what the bosses wanted proven.  And
many of these former academics openly referred to themselves as "whores".
It may be dangerous to let too many physicists go unemployed. He can be
reached at john.endwar [at] gmail.com.


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

Same Old Gang
Obama's Odious Entourage
By ERIC WALBERG
CounterPunch
November 26, 2008

Yes, we mustn't expect too much. We all know it is the establishment that
comes first in United States politics. Obama's presidency could easily be
sabotaged by the powers that put him there.

But still. He would never have made it past the first, obscure primary
without his army of selfless, grassroots activists, and his coffers were
first filled by millions of small, personal donations. Surely these are
the people he should honour with at least a few names. Even Clinton had
his Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala (at least until she
was tarred and feathered by the right). Obama's one token progressive
appointment was Melody Barnes of the Center for American Progress, who was
chief counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy, and will head the toothless
Domestic Policy Council.

Not one of the 23 Senators and 133 House Representatives who voted against
the war in Iraq are on his transitional team or even on a short-list for
an important post in his Cabinet. The only promise that might be kept is
to close Guantanamo, though he could hardly do less. The entire US legal
establishment seems to be pushing to end this outrage.

Keeping on uberhawk Robert Gates as secretary of war, despite the
continued slaughter in Iraq and Afghanistan under his capable
mismanagement, his uncompromising position on missiles for Poland, and his
shady past (including Iran-Contra) gives little cause for hope. Russia can
probably kiss improved relations with the US good-bye. It looks like there
will be neocon policy as usual. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state just
confirms this.

Yes, everyone in Washington is solidly Zionist, so Rahm Emanuel's devotion
to Israel hardly changes much, as John Zogby argues. But, how is it he
served with the Israeli Defense Forces - during a war - and yet never
served with the US military? As an American, if he did this for any other
country but Israel, he would have been arrested and his political career
over at once. Instead, he is honoured with the key role of the president's
chief of staff.

On a positive note, hinging that the domestic crimes against personal
freedom perpetrated under Bush are not entirely forgotten, John Brennan,
who supported extraordinary rendition and warrantless wiretapping, was
forced to excuse himself in the race for CIA head. Still, no criminal
charges against those who authorised or conducted torture during the Bush
years are foreseen.

As Bloomberg notes, almost half the people on the Transition Economic
Advisory Board "have held fiduciary positions at companies that, to one
degree or another, either fried their financial statements, helped send
the world into an economic tailspin, or both". This includes, for example,
Anne Mulcahy and Richard Parsons, both of whom were Fannie Mae directors
when the company fudged accounting rules. Mulcahy and Parsons were
executives of their respective companies, Xerox and Time Warner, and were
charged with accounting fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Also on this team is Robert Rubin, who as Bloomberg notes, was "chairman
of Citigroup's executive committee when the bank pushed bogus analyst
research, helped Enron cook its books, and got caught baking its own. He
was a director from 2000 to 2006 at Ford, which also committed accounting
fouls and now is begging Uncle Sam for Citigroup-style bailout cash".

Larry Summers, who was Clinton's treasury secretary, will head the
National Economic Council - the president's senior economic adviser. This
looks ominous. It was Summers who forced through the deregulation of
financial markets in the 1990s and imposed disaster capitalism on Russia.
Considering that he is a chief architect of the current financial
meltdown, we should be wondering why Obama isn't preparing an arrest
warrant for him, instead of offering him the most powerful economic role
in the world. As chief economist for the World Bank, Summers wrote a memo
saying the WB should actively encourage the dumping of toxic waste in
developing countries, particularly "under-polluted countries in Africa,"
since poor people in developing countries rarely live long enough to
develop cancer, making him a particularly bizarre appointment for Obama.
This contradiction will be interesting to watch unfold.

Summers, Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary, and Peter Orszag as
budget director are all proteges of Robert Rubin, who held two of their
jobs under President Bill Clinton. All three advisers are believers in
what has been dubbed Rubin-omics: balanced budgets, free trade and
financial deregulation, a combination that supposedly was responsible for
the prosperity of the 1990s.

But times have changed since then. Rubin is facing questions about his
role as director of Citigroup, which is the benefactor of the government's
latest bailout. Obama has pledged to introduce an era of re-regulation.
Instead of balancing budgets, Obama plans a two-year fiscal stimulus worth
hundreds of billions of dollars to aid the jobless, states and cities.
"Everyone recognises that we're looking at deficits of considerable
magnitude," said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the liberal Economic
Policy Institute. "Whether it's Bob Rubin, Larry Summers or the most
conservative economist, that is a widely shared recognition".

The list of establishment appointees to his transitional team devoted to
"change" goes on and on, begging the question: Is this really the best he
could come up with? How about Nobel prize winners Joseph Stiglitz and Paul
Krugman, or James K Galbraith, for starters? Someone who represents labour
such as Arlene Holt Baker, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO?
Something to suggest that change is really what this administration is
about?

Remember Obama's Bush moment, as they enthused about Bush's bailout bill.
Others, such as Senator Russ Feingold, realised the bill's problems and
voted against it. Feingold said that the Wall Street bailout legislation
"fails to reform the flawed regulatory structure that permitted this
crisis to arise in the first place. And it doesn't do enough to address
the root cause of the credit market collapse, namely the housing crisis.
Taxpayers deserve a plan that puts their concerns ahead of those who got
us into this mess". Feingold was right. In short, Obama promised "Change
we can believe in," but it's looking a lot more like "Business as usual".

So far the only black to be appointed to a senior post is former deputy
attorney general Eric Holder, will be attorney general. He is best known
as the Chiquita Banana's lawyer who approved of president Bill Clinton's
pardon for Marc Rich, the blatantly corrupt financier whose former wife,
Denise Rich, had contributed heavily to Clinton's presidential library.

Despite the extreme disappointment that many are now experiencing, there
are a few straws to grasp at. Emanuel was forced to apologise publically
for his father's now legendary anti-Arab remark about mopping floors in
the White House, and this incident will act as a bell-weather for
anti-Arab policies. Is this, plus the appointments of Gates, Summers and
Clinton possibly a wily Obama "keeping his enemies close"?

Despite the inexorable march of the empire with a black commander-in-chief
at the helm, at least the Cabinet is filled with competent people, some -
like Clinton - with considerable authority and prestige around the world.
Holder seems to be genuinely against torture and hostile to the concept of
the imperial presidency. Obama himself is intelligent and will not have
circles spun around him as did Bush, nor will he take five-week vacations
and rely on comic book memos for snap decisions to go to war.

Despite his team's credentials as Rubin-omists, they are hard at work on a
huge fiscal stimulus package and further tightening of government
regulations on banks and the financial sector. Conservation and the
long-overdue move away from fossil fuels are high on the agenda. These
bureaucrats are not fools (like Bush, Rice and many others in the current
administration), and taking a leaf from president Franklin Roosevelt's New
Deal administration, will not be afraid to borrow from the liberal
handbook as the need arises.

What the progressives in the US must now do is mobilise, mobilise,
mobilise, and articulate a clear, cogent agenda for real change. The old
adage holds true more than ever: No pain - no gain.

It seems the only thing we can truly feel some exhilaration for at this
point is the fact that Obama's father was a black Muslim and his mother an
altruistic humanitarian who truly loved other cultures and devoted her
life to better understanding among peoples. Let us hope for some sign that
their spirit lives on in their son to help fight off the demons who
surround him at present. Perhaps a good old-fashioned African exorcism is
in order.

Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly. You can reach him at
www.geocities.com/walberg2002/


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

Prominent progressive intellectuals
By Stephen Gowans
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
What's Left

James Petras has taken issue with progressive public intellectuals (PPIs)
who endorsed the Obama candidacy on pragmatic grounds and who argued the
Democratic candidate is a lesser evil, while at the same time condemning
lesser evils abroad. In particular, Petras wonders why there's not a
single PPI who supports "the democratically elected Hamas in Palestine or
Hezbollah in Lebanon, or the popularly supported nationalist Muqtada
al-Sadr in Iraq, the anti-occupation Taliban in Afghanistan or even the
right, recognized under international law, of the Iranian people to the
peaceful development of nuclear energy". Whatever their defects, continues
Petras, "these are the 'lesser evil'". (1) [See last PC 11.24.08]

To Petras' list can be added Zimbabwe's Zanu-PF, a lesser evil no PPI
would publicly support. While the secular nature of Zimbabwe's party of
national liberation makes it marginally more attractive to secular
leftists than Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban and the Sadrists of Iraq, it
is still shunned for its failings. Its failings, however, do not erase two
realities: (a) with its land reform and economic indigenization policies
it is a more progressive alternative than the opposition MDC, which is
virtually run from Western capitals and, not surprisingly, promotes a
comprador program; (b) there is no other progressive alternative with any
realistic chance of coming to power in the foreseeable future. (2) In
other words, the situation in Zimbabwe parallels the situation in the US,
in which PPIs concluded the progressive alternative, Nader, couldn't win,
that Obama was marginally better than McCain, and, therefore, that an
Obama presidency deserved their endorsement on pragmatic grounds. If PPIs
are willing to sacrifice their moral hymens at home, why do they keep
their legs tightly crossed when surveying the political landscape abroad?

Support for the lesser evil at home but never abroad is a manifestation of
an older PPI double-standard: eschewing communist organizations for their
"crimes" and hierarchical structure while supporting, working within,
endorsing or voting for the Democrats, an organization that can hardly be
considered non-hierarchical or free from moral failure. PPIs are forever
condemning organizations that effectively oppose imperialist spoliation,
while justifying support for a major party of imperialist predation whose
commitment to civil and political liberties is no more absolute than that
of communist organizations. As Michael Parenti points out:

"Left anticommunists find any association with communist organizations
morally unacceptable because of the 'crimes of communism'. Yet many of
them are themselves associated with the Democratic party in this country,
either as voters or as members, apparently unconcerned about the morally
unacceptable political crimes committed by leaders of that organization.
Under one or another Democratic administration, 120,000 Japanese Americans
were torn from their homes and livelihoods and thrown into detention
camps; atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with an
enormous loss of life; the FBI was given authority to infiltrate political
groups; the Smith Act was used to imprison leaders of the Trotskyist
Socialist Workers Party and later on leaders of the Communist party for
their political beliefs; detention camps were established to round up
political dissidents in the event of a 'national emergency'; during the
late 1940s and 1950s, eight thousand federal workers were purged from
government because of their political associations and views, with
thousands more in all walks of life witchhunted out of their careers; the
Neutrality Act was used to impose an embargo on the Spanish Republic that
worked in favor of Franco's fascist legions; homicidal counterinsurgency
programs were initiated in various Third World countries; and the Vietnam
War was pursued and escalated. And for the better part of a century, the
Congressional leadership of the Democratic party protected racial
segregation and stymied all anti-lynching and fair employment bills. Yet
all of these crimes, bringing ruination and death to many, have not moved
the liberal, the social democratic, and the 'democratic socialist'
anticommunists to insist repeatedly that we issue blanket condemnation of
either the Democratic party or the political system that produced it,
certainly not with the intolerant fervor that has been directed against
existing communism". (3)

Petras amplifies Parenti's point:

"PPIs justified their support for Obama on the basis of his campaign
rhetoric in favor of peace and justice, even as he voted for Bush's war
budgets and foreign aid programs funding the murder of hundreds of
thousands of Iraqis, Afghanis, Palestinians, Colombians, Somalis and
Pakistanis and the dispossessing and displacement of at least 10 million
people from their towns, farms and homes". (4)

PPIs like victims, so it's fitting that they've endorsed or voted for a
candidate who as president will continue to produce victims in abundance.
They're always springing to the defense of innocent civilians, but rarely
to the defense of those who fight back (who in doing so, in the view of
PPIs, are no longer innocent). The problem with Hamas, Hezbollah, the
Taliban and the Sadrists, from the point of view of the PPIs, is
three-fold: (i) they're religious-based, (ii) they use violence, and (iii)
they're not victims. The secular Zanu-PF earns the PPIs' enmity because it
uses the wrong tactics to resist imperialist pressure (presumably it
should remove all impediments to the US and Britain using civil society
and the MDC as instruments of Western foreign policy.)

To be sure, secular socialist alternatives would be preferable to these
lesser evils, but those that exist command insufficient support to mount
effective oppositions, and, in many cases, are supporting larger,
religious-based, anti-imperialist organizations. And while nonviolent
direct action alone is preferable to violence, it has yet to prove
effective against armed occupations, except in circumstances in which the
violence of war has weakened the oppressor (Britain in India).

There is both a moral and tactical argument for supporting existing
organizations which have mounted effective anti-imperialist oppositions.
First, they have a right to resist occupation, aggression, and
intervention. That their political orientations may be repellent is
irrelevant. We don't deny the right to a fair trial on the basis of the
accused's views, no matter how offensive they are. Second, to the extent
these organizations are successful in exercising their right, they weaken
the ruling class forces against which progressives at home struggle. The
anti-occupation Taliban is reactionary, and is an organization one would
bitterly oppose at home, but in its resistance to occupation, and in this
alone, it is objectively progressive from the standpoint of Western
working class populations; a Taliban that is successful in its efforts to
oppose occupation weakens the class forces that both exploit foreign
populations by conquest and economically exploit populations at home.

Petras attributes the PPIs' double standards to what aspiring PPI Stephen
Zunes called "the sad reality of capitalism" (5) - "supporters of the
millions of victims of Western and Israeli butchery do not live off
foundation handouts," while those who condemn organizations that have
mounted effective opposition to imperialist predations receive
"invitations to speak at universities with offers of five-figure
honorariums". (6)

There's a principle governing which political ideas bubble to the surface
of public awareness: the prominence of a political idea and of whoever can
articulately express it, is proportional to the degree to which it is
congenial to the interests of those who have the wealth to bring it to
prominence.

Conservative intellectuals (CIs) enjoy the greatest degree of prominence
because they articulate ideas that closely match the interests, and
justify the privileges, of the wealthy. For example, a CI writing in my
daily newspaper said Obama will back away from his pledge to hike taxes on
Americans who earn over $250,000 per year and that this is prudent because
the wealthy are "the most productive element of society". It should be no
surprise that intellectuals who articulate these kinds of legitimating
ideas have no problems securing access to platforms capable of giving
their views prominence.

PPIs are far less prominent than PCIs (prominent conservative
intellectuals) because they articulate ideas that are often hostile to the
interests of the wealthy. But their condemnations of any effective
opposition to the interests of the wealthy are congenial to the interests
of predatory capital. Whatever the failings of communist governments, they
remained effective oppositions to capitalist interests. Whatever the
failings of national liberation and anti-occupation movements, they act as
effective oppositions to imperialist aims. And whatever the regrettable
and grim outcomes of violence, movements and governments that use violence
to defend themselves against the aggressions and predatory pursuits of
capital, have enjoyed more success than their counterparts who won't or
can't use violence. Progressive intellectuals who are able to set forth
compelling cases against communism, really-existing national liberation
and anti-occupation movements, and political violence, earn access to
platforms which allow their views to be widely circulated within the
progressive community. In this way, they become PPIs.

There is a parallel in the control of insect populations. If you want to
reduce the mosquito population, you introduce sterile mosquitoes who mate
with fertile counterparts and produce no offspring. This doesn't eliminate
successful fertile pairings, but it does reduce the probability, and
checks population growth. Favoring sterile PIs with foundation grants,
invitations to lectures, and ready access to progressive media (much of
which operates on foundation grants), is equivalent to overwhelming mating
populations with sterile mosquitoes.

Articulating a compelling case for effective organization against the
wealthy at home is, to those who dole out foundation grants, also
undesirable; accordingly, PIs who promote engagement with the Democratic
party while condemning effective anti-imperialist movements aboard, are
highly valued, and earn access to platforms capable of raising the
visibility of their ideas. The question of whether PPIs alter their ideas
to cater to foundation and progressive media gatekeepers is beside the
point; all that matters is that the right ideas, articulated in compelling
ways, earn their bearers prominence.

What we need to do is examine ideas on a case-by-case basis, immune from
the halo effect of someone's admirable political stance on other issues.
Aspiring PPI Stephen Zunes makes much of the fact that he's earned his
progressive stripes, but his political stance on the IMF, World Bank, debt
peonage or the Bush administration does not mean his stance on ruling
class funded nonviolent pro-democracy activism is sound. In particular, we
should ask:

. What movements and forms of organization have been historically
effective in opposing exploitation and oppression?
. What political positions have PPIs taken on these movements and forms of
organization?
. Are there systemic imperatives that push to prominence PIs who can
persuasively argue against effective movements and forms of organization?

It might be argued that capitalist forces centered in the Western world
are a common enemy of Western working class populations and the Taliban.
Failure of the West's popular forces to forge contingent, ad hoc,
alliances with the Taliban weakens their common fight. From a purely
self-interested standpoint, Western working classes stand to profit from
such an alliance, in the same way the US state profited from an alliance
with reactionary Islam in opposing a pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan.
This does not mean, however, that, from the standpoint of Afghans opposed
to the Taliban, or the progress of humanity, that the Taliban is the
lesser evil; nor that it is preferable from the perspective of a large
number of Afghans to a secular comprador regime which guarantees the
equality of the sexes, makes provision for the education of females, and
expunges the remnants of feudal institutions. The question of who is the
lesser evil, then, is necessarily relative. For women and peasants in
Afghanistan, it's difficult to imagine what the Taliban could be the
lesser evil to.

My interest, however, isn't in the normative question of whether Western
working classes ought to pursue their own interests by supporting the
Taliban in its fight against occupation, even if an alliance with the
Taliban means sacrificing the interests of the peasant and female
populations that face Taliban oppression. It is, rather, in the empirical
question of whether PPI opposition to the Taliban serves the interests of
imperialist forces, and whether PIs become PPIs as a consequence of their
hostility to movements and forms of organization that have been
historically effective in combating exploitation and oppression. The
weakness of Petras' argument lies, I think, in its reliance on the idea of
the lesser evil, which is a contingent idea reflecting class interests in
a particular place and time. The elevation to PPI from PI of those who
favor support for the Democrats while condemning effective
anti-imperialist oppositions abroad, can best be understood, not from the
perspective of double standards, but as a necessary outcome of the way
wealth operates to bring ideas acceptable to the interests of the wealthy
to prominence in progressive communities.

 1. James Petras, "Western Progressive Opinion: Bring on the Victims!
Condemn the Fighters!" November 22, 2008,
http://petras.lahaine.org/articulo.php?p=1763&more=1&c=1
 2. While PPIs argue that Zimbabwe civil society is a progressive third
force in Zimbabwe, the country's NGOs are in thrall to the Western
governments, capitalist foundations and wealthy individuals who provide
their funding. They are no more a progressive alternative than the MDC is,
which shares the same backers.
 3. Michael Parenti, Blackshirts & Reds: Rational Fascism and the
Overthrow of Communism, City Lights Books, San Francisco, 1997; pp.48-49.
 4. Petras.
 5. Stephen Gowans, "Zunes compromising with capitalism's sad reality,"
What's Left,
http://gowans.wordpress.com/2008/02/25/zunes%e2%80%99-compromising-with-capitalism%e2%80%99s-sad-reality/
 6. Petras.


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