Progressive Calendar 12.07.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Sun, 7 Dec 2008 05:46:09 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    12.07.08

1. Atheists Talk    12.07 9am
2. Stillwater vigil 12.07 1pm
3. Amnesty Intl     12.07 2pm
4. RNC 08 benefit   12.07 7:30pm

5. Peace/justice    12.08 5:30pm
6. Labor v war      12.08 6pm
7. Peace walk       12.08 6pm RiverFalls WI
8. MN Leg on web    12.08 7pm
9. UHCAN health     12.08 7pm
10. RNC 8 benefit   12.08 7pm

11. Dennis Rahkonen    - Socialism for the USA
12. Alexander Cockburn - Honeymoans From the Left
13. Jeremy Scahill     - Obama doesn't plan to end occupation of Iraq
14. Nader/Heaps        - Obama should impose a carbon tax
15. ed                 - Bumpersticker

--------1 of 15--------

From: August Berkshire <augustberkshire [at]>
Subject: Atheists Talk 12.07 9am

9 a.m. - Austin Dacey: "The Islamic Threat to Secular Government"
Minnesota Atheists - "Atheists Talk" radio show.
Sunday, December 7, 2008, 9-10 a.m. Central Time

The two fastest growing groups of people in the world are atheists and
Muslims.  Most atheists support religious freedom and separation of state
and church.  Do most Muslims support Islamic theocracy?  Our guest, Austin
Dacey, will discuss "The Islamic Threat to Secular Government."  Dacey is
a representative to the United Nations for the Center for Inquiry in New
York City, where he works on issues of science and secular values as
Executive Director.

We welcome questions during the program at (952) 946-6205 or
radio [at]

"Atheists Talk" airs live on AM 950 KTNF in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
To stream live, go to Podcasts of past
shows are available at or through iTunes.
Program Notes are available at

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From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 12.07 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
For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------3 of 15--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 12.07 2pm

Join us for our Human Rights Day Write-a-thon on Sunday, December 7th,
from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Help celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10th,
1948, with our traditional December write-a-thon. We will provide human
rights actions and information for our winter Holiday Card Action, in
which we send messages of hope and solidarity to threatened and imprisoned
human rights defenders worldwide. We'll provide all materials.

Everyone is welcome. Group 37 members are encouraged to bring refreshments
to share -- Guests need bring only their their enthusiasm (though
donations to cover postage are welcome).

Location: Center for Victims of Torture, 717 E. River Rd. SE, Minneapolis
(corner of E. River Rd. and Oak St.). Park on street or in the small lot
behind the center (the Center is a house set back on a large lawn).

A map and directions are available on-line:

--------4 of 15--------

From: info [at]
Subject: RNC 08 benefit 12.07 7:30pm

"Solidarity Born of Love": a panel on political prosecution and
incarceration, from the perspective of family and friends:

    * Jenny Esquivel, partner of Green Scare prisoner Eric McDavid
    * Aaron Zellhoefer, of SHAC 7 prisoner Kevin Kjonaas support committee
    * Fred Peterson, husband of political prisoner Sara Jane Olsen
    * Leslie James Pickering, former ELF spokesperson

7:30 pm, Sunday, December 7th, 2008
2615 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis
$5-15 suggested donation, all proceeds go towards prisoner support

no one turned away for lack of funds; childcare provided.

When the State targets people for harassment, prosecution and
incarceration, they do more than repress individuals. Friends, family,
loved ones, are punished, entire communities are disrupted, immeasurable
strains are imposed on those who care about these targets of state
repression. With 21 felony cases resulting from the recent RNC in St.
Paul, on the 3rd anniversary of the Green Scare and our 2nd birthday,
EWOK! ( is taking December 7th as a chance to
reflect on the real effects the criminal "justice" system has on our
communities, and to recognize the invaluable contributions of those on the
outside who stand strong and support political arrestees and prisoners
when such support is both difficult to provide and necessary to survive.

--------5 of 15--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Peace/justice 12.08 5:30pm

Monday, 12/8, 5:30 pm, potluck with Women's International League for
Peace and Freedom co-presidents Nancy Munger and Laura Roskos, to talk
about future work for peace and justice, Elizabeth Shippee's condo, 1666
Coffman St, #120, Falcon Heights.  FFI: marqu001 [at] or 651-645-6992.

--------6 of 15--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Labor v war 12.08 6pm

Monday, 12/8, 6 pm, meeting U.S. Labor Against the War, Merriam Park
Library 1831 Marshall Ave, St Paul.  651-645-0295.

--------7 of 15--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 12.08 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022

-------8 of 15--------

From: Timothy Erickson <tim [at]>
Subject: MN Leg on web 12.08 7pm

Please join us for our final SPED Outreach workshop of the current
session. We have invited Robbie LaFleur, director of the Minnesota
Legislative Library, to give us a tour of the many resources on the state
website, useful for tracking the upcoming legislative session.

Following the MN Legislature on the Web
Robbie LaFleur, Director of the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library

Rondo Community Outreach Library, Electronic Classroom
University & Dale, St. Paul
Mon. December 8th, 7:00 PM

The 2009 session of the Minnesota legislature convenes on January 9th.
This year, the state of Minnesota is facing a historic budget deficit with
huge implications for everyone in the state of Minnesota.  Unfortunately,
most of us are unaware of the powerful tools that are available to help

  * Learn about and contact our legislators
  * Track pending bills
  * Keep track of committee meetings
  * Watch live and archived video of legislative meetings
  * Find valuable historic information about the state
    and state legislature
  * Access the valuable archives and information maintained
    by the Minnesota legislative library.

The internet is a powerful tool for members of the community to track
and influence the many important decisions that will be made at the
state capital this coming session. This session will be a great
opportunity to learn more about how you can keep yourself informed and
potentially participate in the process.

Questions: Tim Erickson 651-246-5045

--------9 of 15--------

From: Joel Albers <joel [at]>
Subject: UHCAN health 12.08 7pm

The next UHCAN-MN organizing meeting is Monday, Dec 8, 7PM, Walker Church,
3104 16th Ave S, Mpls.
(Walker Church is 1 block from Lake Street and Bloomington Ave).

-Intros, orientation for newcomers, Reportbacks (ed/outreach at Seward
Arts Fest, U of MN open enrollment, Trinity/Bethany Health Screenings,
Historic Walking Tour of Old Mpls Hospital District)
-updates: 501(c)3, website improvements
-organizing multidisciplinary practitioner e-working group
-Making sense of the Financial Crisis and Health Crisis; actions
-Legislative session update
-Prairie Health Companions Fund progress (formerly the MN Health Fund)
-other items ?

see you there, bring a friend have some hot tea,
joel 612-384-0973 joel [at]

--------10 of 15--------

From: info [at]
Subject: RNC 8 benefit 12.08 7pm

RNC 8 Benefit show at Arise! Books and Resources Center, featuring:
    * Shannon Murray
    * Nancy Drew Crew
    * Bla Bla Blacksheep
    * Nightwolves
2441 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, 7pm
Suggested donation $5-1000; no one turned away; 50% of all proceeds to the RNC

--------11 of 15--------

Socialism for the USA
by Dennis Rahkonen
December 6th, 2008
Dissident Voice

I once saw a young boy's football roll into the street, where it was
loudly flattened by a passing car. The child wept as if a family member
had died. He realized life as he'd known it _ with its specific, attendant
happiness - was over.

Why can't we muster a similar sense of finality concerning our popped

Despite joblessness and foreclosures uncontrollably soaring, we still
think capitalism has a future. The Big Three auto makers are about to go
bust, states and municipalities across the country are broke, and leading
retailers are shuttering their doors. Great Depression II looms. Still, we
think there can be a "turnaround".

Not so, friends. We need a brand new ball, and an entirely different, safe
playing field.

Well over a century ago, Karl Marx analyzed the contradictions of what
we've gloriously euphemized as "free enterprise," and correctly concluded
that capitalists are their own gravediggers.

They just can't stop shoveling.

Private owners of the means of production always seek to increase profit,
chiefly by freezing or diminishing the wages of the laboring proletariat,
i.e., you, me, and Joe Six Pack.

Ultimately, the boss gets so rich from the stolen value our toil creates,
and we so commensurately poor, that we can't afford to buy back what
society collectively produces.

Thus whiz-bang technological gadgets on Circuit City shelves begin to
gather dust, and nobody stops by, to buy, at the local Chevrolet
dealership. So it goes, throughout the dying economy.

Meanwhile, the boss-class constructs a house-of-cards financial apparatus
that gets buffeted by the cross currents of a thousand and one greedy
desires, and schemes, leading to an eventual collapse. Even the wealthy
wind up losing their shirts.

Picture a stray dog peeing on the ruins of a city laid waste by some
terrible catastrophe.

Not much more than that is the best we can hope for by clinging to the
capitalist delusion.

During the awful years of the '30s, FDR thwarted socialist rebellion via
the expedient of the New Deal, with its alphabetized public works programs
and other initiatives that improved people's lives enough to keep them
from storming oligarchy's bastions.

Still, while things got gradually better for the suffering masses, it
wasn't until WWII's enormous armament production kicked in that our
country finally became prosperous again.

Barack Obama may put forth a new New Deal, and the relief it would give
hard-pressed Americans would be most welcome. However, there are those who
feel, with strong reason, that the present crisis will be even more
devastating, and longer, than the original Great Depression.

Also, Obama could turn out to be much more accommodating toward even the
most reactionary part of the ruling class than we progressive would like.
Instead of the big Band-Aid that a fresh New Deal would represent, maybe
we'll get just a bunch of the little, essentially useless ones, applied
almost haphazardly here and there.

Other questions: What if war once again emerges as the only real way to
fire up the nation's manufacturing sector? Who would we fight, and at what
horrendous cost across the globe? What fraudulent, immoral excuse would
"justify" our action?

Wouldn't it be far better to root out the ruthless motive that drives
capitalism, ultimately into the ground, as is happening today?

Why not nationalize at least the key sectors of America's economy - under
popular control - and make public profit the operative factor in our
country's everyday life?

Combine that with coordinated planning and time-tied national goals
predicated on serving the common good, and we'd finally be getting

You, I, and Joe Six Pack would jointly own America's productive processes,
as well as the banks, and we'd all share in the abundant profit that
eliminating thieves and middle men would assure.

No one would get filthy rich, but we'd all live comfortably, with
guaranteed health care, education, pensions, etc.

Yes, horrified right-wingers, I'm advocating democratic socialism,
something I'm certain Barack Obama is too timid at heart to ever truly

Yes again, I favor eating the wealthy to nourish the impoverished. That's
far better than the rich endlessly sticking forks into workers, to
perpetuate their obscenely privileged status.

Here's the most compelling case for radical, indeed revolutionary change:

General Motors is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, contending that
only a government bailout and/or nullification of its labor contracts can
keep it from going under.

No consideration is being shown the good men and women whose blood, sweat,
and tears have created the central industrial wealth of America for
decades. They're about to be served up on a sacrificial platter for GM's
executives and shareholders to greedily gobble down.

If the only way capitalism can survive is by robbing taxpayers and hiring
low-pay, benefit-less scabs, after unionized workers are callously cast
aside, then capitalism unquestionably needs to be tossed into the scrap
heap of history.

Remember, iconic GM symbolizes the American way of doing things, and any
pattern it sets will be followed throughout the business community.

Must we wait for radicalizing consciousness to emerge only after we're all
destitute and probably homeless?

Or will we now clean socialism of the vilifying mud that's been long
thrown against it, and appreciatively recognize it as our only, true

Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive
commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the

--------12 of 15--------

Honeymoans From the Left
December 5 / 7, 2008

A month after he won the White House Barack Obama is drawing a chorus of
approval from conservatives who spent most of this year denouncing him as
a man of the extreme left. "Reassuring", says Karl Rove, of Obama's
cabinet selections. Max Boot, a rabid right-wing commentator, confesses,
"I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could just as easily
have come from a President McCain." In Murdoch's Weekly Standard,
mouthpiece of the neocons, Michael Goldfarb reviewed Obama's appointments
and declared that he sees "nothing that represents a drastic change in how
Washington does business. The expectation is that Obama is set to continue
the course set by Bush in his second term."

But on the liberal-left end of the spectrum, where Obama kindled
extraordinary levels of enthusiasm throughout his campaign, the mood is
swiftly swinging to dismay and bitterness. "How to explain that not a
single top member of Obama's foreign policy/national security team opposed
the war?"  Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, asked last Monday.
She went on, "For Obama, who's said he wants to be challenged by his
advisors, wouldn't it have made sense to include at least one person on
the foreign policy/national security team who would challenge him with
some new and fresh thinking about security in the 21st century?"

"How nice, how marvelously nice it would be," wrote the left-wing
historian William Blum sarcastically here on the CounterPunch site last
week, "to have an American president who was infused with progressive
values and political courage".  Blum speedily made it clear that in his
estimation Obama is not endowed with these desirable qualities: "He's not
really against the war. Not like you and I are. During Obama's first four
years in the White House, the United States will not leave Iraq. I doubt
that he'd allow a complete withdrawal even in a second term."

Similar sentiments came from another popular left-wing reporter, Jeremy
Scahill, who wrote here on Tuesday, "The assembly of Hillary Clinton,
Robert Gates, Susan Rice and Joe Biden is a kettle of hawks with a proven
track record of support for the Iraq war, militaristic interventionism,
neoliberal economic policies and a worldview consistent with the foreign
policy arch that stretches from George HW Bush's time in office to the

Suddenly a familiar specter is shuffling back under the spotlights. A long
piece on Obama's foreign policy advisors last Tuesday carried the
headline, "Are Key Obama Advisors in Line with Neocon Hawks who want to
Attack in Iran?". The author is Robert Drefuss, a level headed leftish
commentator.  He sketched in the political backgrounds of advisers to
Obama and concluded that "Tony Lake, UN Ambassador-designate Susan Rice,
Tom Daschle, and Dennis Ross, along with leading Democratic hawks like
Richard Holbrooke, close to Vice-President-elect Joe Biden or Secretary of
State-designate Hillary Clinton - have made common cause with war-minded
think-tank hawks at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP),
the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and other hardline institutes".
These Obama-hawks, Dreyfuss gloomily told his readers, reckon that talks
with Iran about its nuclear program will fail. On the heels of this
failure they urge "a kinetic action" in the form of a savage bombing
campaign by the US Air Force.

Four more years of anxious articles about the impending attack on Iran?
I'd rather read Piers Plowman again, the dullest work I ever had to trudge
through when I read Eng Lit at Oxford. Criticisms of Obama's foreign
policy team are, if anything, outstripped by gloom and indignation over
his economic team. The economist Michael Hudson complained here recently
that Obama was meekly following the advice of banker and former Treasury
Secretary Robert Rubin, putting Rubin's proteges in key Obama
administration posts: "Larry Summers, who as head of the World Bank forced
privatization at give-away prices to kleptocrats; Geithner of the New York
Fed; and a monetarist economist from Berkeley, as right-wing a university
as Chicago. These are the protective guard-dogs of America's vested

More mouldy cabbages are being hurled at Obama's picks at the Pentagon,
starting with the familiar visage of Robert Gates, already in occupation
of the top job, having been put there by George Bush Jr, to replace Donald
Rumsfeld. Winslow Wheeler, for many years a senor Republican staffer in
Congress, has a solid reputation as one of the best-informed of all the
observers of that vast sink hole of fraud and waste, the US Defense

During Gates' tenure, Wheeler complains in an interview by Andrew Cockburn
here last Wednesday, "things have only gotten worse.  The budget's going
up faster than ever before in recent history; the size of our forces is
going south; the equipment continues to get older".

Wheeler says "the second tier of appointments that they're talking about
in the press for the Obama team are mostly holdovers from the Clinton era,
when things were almost as bad as they were during the Bush era.  Most of
the major hardware programs that are now coming a cropper as major cost
and performance disasters were conceived during the Clinton era.  Things
such as the Future Combat Systems, or the Navy's DDG 1000 Destroyer known
as the Arsenal Ship and later the DDX Destroyer, spawned when Richard
Danzig was Secretary of the Navy.  Danzig is under active consideration to
be deputy secretary of defense and Gates' natural successor when Gates
finishes whatever short timer term he has under Obama.  The F-22 fighter,
the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, it goes on, all these programs that are
cost and performance disasters had their genesis during the Clinton era".

Asked by Andrew about Obama's National Security Advisor, Jim Jones,
Wheeler replied tartly , "He is a man of great stature, physically and
figuratively, in Washington.  He is a Washington 'heavy' but if you look
at his record, nothing much ever happened.  Things went south in
Afghanistan pretty rapidly when he was supreme commander of all Nato
forces in Afghanistan.   When he was Commandant of the Marine Corps, a lot
of the marines' overpriced underperforming hardware programs, such as the
V-22 [vertical takeoff troop transport plane] and the Expeditionary
Fighting Vehicle were endorsed and continued happily along.  He seems to
have been mostly a placeholder when he had these very senior and important

In Jones' favor I have heard that at some point in Bush time he lodged
with Condoleezza Rice a report on Israeli conduct that was so harsh it had
to be swiftly tossed to the shredder. I look forward to reports of a mano
a mano between the vast Jones and the diminutive Emanuel.
One striking feature of these complaints is that if the many of
complainers had their suspicions about Obama during the campaign, they
kept their mouths firmly shut. Across eight presidential campaigns, since
Jimmy Carter's successful run in 1976, I've never seen such collective
determination by the liberal left to think only positive thoughts about a
Democratic candidate. Indeed, some of the present fury may stem from a
certain embarrassment at their own political naivety. In fairness to
Obama, beyond the vaguely radical afflatus of his campaign rhetoric about
"change", Obama never concealed his true political stance, which is of the
center-right. In every sense of the phrase, he can say to his left
critics, "I told you so". And indeed he did.

The obvious question is whether this chorus of political disillusion on
the liberal left is of any political consequence. Obama is sensitive on
the matter. He defended himself last week by saying that in these dire
times Americans need to be comforted by the installation of familiar and
respected figures in the new administration. The polls bear him out. The
public is mostly happy with what it has seen thus far. The new President,
Obama insisted, will be the man setting the new course.

In his salvoes against Obama's awful economic team Michael Hudson brought
up one ominous parallel. Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976, after
eight years of Richard Nixon. The hopes of the liberal left were similarly
high. Almost immediately Carter dashed their hopes with hawkish foreign
policy appointments. Two years after Carter took over the Oval Office, Jim
Ridgeway and I, working for the Village Voice, went to interview William
Winpisinger, president of the Machinists' Union and one of the most
powerful labor leaders in America. We put a tape recorder on his desk and
asked, "Is there anything President Carter could do to redeem himself in
your eyes? Winpisinger eyed the tape recorder bleakly and said, 'Die'"

A year later Carter was grimly fighting a liberal-left challenge to his
re-nomination by the Democrats for a second term. The challenger was Teddy
Kennedy. Though Carter beat off the Kennedy threat, he was seriously
weakened and lost his relection bid. One can surmise that one reason Obama
has made Hillary Clinton Secretary of State is to head off a Kennedy-type
challenge. The trouble with slogans like "change" is that they are like
zeppelins. The wind can whistle out of their pretensions with dreadful

But it would be foolishly premature to conjure up the possibility of
serious left resistance emerging in any form that would be bothersome to
Obama. All it will take for now will be a bone tossed out of the limo, in
the form of one or two halfways decent appointments on the enviro side.
Nixon launched his green crusade (Earth Day, EPA, etc) in an effort to
split the left and Obama could do the same. How about a "war" on global
warming, with some version of the Roosevelt era's Civilian Conservation
Corps waging "war"  on the fictive foe known as man-made global warming.
As has often been pointed out, there were close similarities between the
CCC and similar quasi-militarised bodies of this nature in Hitler's
Germany and Mussolini's Italy.

In the present juncture, with untrammeled "free enterprise" reeling in
bankrupt disorder into the state's vital, albeit servile embrace, Obama's
rallying of youth to the cause of "hope" and "change" could head off into
some unpalatable directions, as a glance at the popular "crusades"
launched in the 30s will swiftly attest. If you want to see fascism in
action, don't look in the direction of militia men in camo clustered
around Hayden Lake, Idaho. Look at the Air Quality Management District in
Los Angeles, the model Rep Waxman will be brandishing in the coming war on
bad things in the air, though not - to be sure - the bad things in the air
that make serious money for big corporations.  If the price of a
rhetorical crusade against "global warming" is to be bombing Teheran, I
think most of the GW fanatics will echo Madeleine Albright and cry out,
"We think the price is worth it".

--------13 of 15--------

This Old News Just In....
Obama Doesn't Plan to End Occupation of Iraq
December 5 / 7, 2008

The New York Times is reporting about an "apparent evolution" in
president-elect Barack Obama's thinking on Iraq, citing his recent
statements about his plan to keep a "residual force" in the country and
his pledge to "listen to the recommendations of my commanders" as Obama
prepares to assume actual command of US forces. "At the Pentagon and the
military headquarters in Iraq, the response to the statements this week
from Mr. Obama and his national security team has been akin to the senior
officer corps' letting out its collective breath," the Times reported.
"[T]the words sounded to them like the new president would take a measured
approach on the question of troop levels."

The reality is there is no "evolution."

Anyone who took the time to cut past Barack Obama's campaign rhetoric of
"change" and bringing an "end" to the Iraq war realized early on that the
now-president-elect had a plan that boiled down to a down-sizing and
rebranding of the occupation. While he emphasized his pledge to withdraw
U.S. "combat forces" from Iraq in 16 months (which may or may not happen),
he has always said that he intends to keep "residual forces" in place for
the foreseeable future.

It's an interesting choice of terms. "Residual" is defined as "the
quantity left over at the end of a process." This means that the forces
Obama plans to leave in Iraq will remain after he has completed his
"withdrawal" plan. No matter how Obama chooses to label the forces he
keeps in Iraq, the fact is, they will be occupation forces.

Announcing his national security team this week, Obama reasserted his
position. "I said that I would remove our combat troops from Iraq in 16
months, with the understanding that it might be necessary - likely to be
necessary - to maintain a residual force to provide potential training,
logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq." While some have
protrayed this as Obama going back on his campaign pledge, it is not. What
is new is that some people seem to just now be waking up to the fact that
Obama never had a comprehensive plan to fully end the occupation. Most
recently, The New York Times:

"On the campaign trail, Senator Barack Obama offered a pledge that
electrified and motivated his liberal base, vowing to 'end the war' in
Iraq," wrote reporter Thom Shanker on Thursday. "But as he moves closer to
the White House, President-elect Obama is making clearer than ever that
tens of thousands of American troops will be left behind in Iraq, even if
he can make good on his campaign promise to pull all combat forces out
within 16 months."

For many months it's been abundantly clear that Obama's Iraq plan is at
odds with his campaign rhetoric. Yet, Shanker writes, "to date, there has
been no significant criticism from the antiwar left of the Democratic
Party of the prospect that Mr. Obama will keep tens of thousands of troops
in Iraq for at least several years to come." The Times is actually right
about this, in a literal sense. There has seldom, if ever, been a public
peep about Obama's residual force plans for Iraq from members of his own
party, including from those who describe themselves as "anti-war."

But, for those who have scrutinized Obama's plans and the statements of
his advisors from the beginning, this is old news. Obama never defined
"ending the war" as removing all U.S. forces from Iraq. Besides the
counsel of his closest advisors - many of whom are pro-war hawks - Obama's
Iraq plan is based on two primary sources: the recommendations of the
Baker-Hamilton "Iraq Study Group" and the 2007 Iraq supplemental spending
bill, which, at the time was portrayed as the Democrats' withdrawal plan.
Both envisioned a sustained presence of U.S. forces for an undefined
period following a "withdrawal."

In supporting the 2007 supplemental, Obama said it would put the U.S. "one
signature away from ending the Iraq War." The bill would have redeployed
U.S. forces from Iraq within 180 days. But that legislation, vetoed by
President Bush, would also have provided for 20,000 to 60,000 troops to
remain in Iraq as "trainers," "counter-terrorist forces," or for
"protection for embassy/diplomats," according to an analysis by the
Institute for Policy Studies. The bill contained no language about how
many "private contractors" could remain in Iraq. This helped shed light on
what Obama actually meant by "ending the Iraq War."

Other glaring clues to the actual nature of Obama's Iraq plan to anyone
paying attention could be found in the public comments of his advisors,
particularly on the size of the force Obama may leave in Iraq after his
withdrawal is complete. Obama has refused to talk numbers, saying in
October, "I have tried not to put a number on it." That has been the
position of many of his loyal aides. "We have not put a number on that. It
depends on the circumstances on the ground," said Susan Rice, Obama's
nominee for UN ambassador, during the campaign. "It would be worse than
folly, it would be dangerous, to put a hard number on the residual

But, Richard Danzig, President Clinton's former Navy Secretary who may
soon follow Robert Gates as Obama's Defense Secretary, said during the
campaign that the "residual force" could number as many as 55,000 troops.
That doesn't include Blackwater and other mercenaries and private forces,
which the Obama camp has declared the president-elect "can't rule out
[and] won't rule out" using. At present there are more "contractors" in
Iraq than soldiers, which is all the more ominous when considering Obama's
Iraq plan.

In April, it was revealed that the coordinator of Obama's Iraq working
group, Colin Kahl, had authored a paper, titled "Stay on Success: A Policy
of Conditional Engagement," which recommended, "the U.S. should aim to
transition to a sustainable over-watch posture (of perhaps 60,000-80,000
forces) by the end of 2010 (although the specific timelines should be the
byproduct of negotiations and conditions on the ground)." Kahl tried to
distance the views expressed in the paper from Obama's official campaign
position, but they were and are consistent.

In March, Obama advisor Samantha Power let the cat out of the bag for some
people when she described her candidate's 16-month timetable for
withdrawing U.S. "combat" forces as a "best case scenario." Power said,
"He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he's crafted as a
presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator." (After that remark and
referring to Sen. Hillary Clinton as a "monster," Power resigned from the
campaign. Now that Obama is president-elect, Power's name has once again
resurfaced as a member of his transitional team.)

The New York Times also raised the prospect that Obama could play
semantics when defining his 16-month withdrawal plan, observing, "Pentagon
planners say that it is possible that Mr. Obama's goal could be
accomplished at least in part by relabeling some units, so that those
currently counted as combat troops could be 're-missioned,' their efforts
redefined as training and support for the Iraqis."

Compare all of the above with a statement Obama made in July: "I intend to
end this war. My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of
Staff in, and I will give them a new mission, and that is to end this war
- responsibly, deliberately, but decisively."

Some may now accuse Obama of flip-flopping. The reality is that we need to
understand what the words "end" "war" "residual" and "decisively" mean
when we hear Obama say them.

Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most
Powerful Mercenary Army.

--------14 of 15--------

Obama Should Impose a Carbon Tax
Junk Cap-and-Trade
December 5 / 7, 2008

If President Barack Obama wants to stop the descent toward dangerous
global climate change, and avoid the trade anarchy that current approaches
to this problem will invite, he should take Al Gore's proposal for a
carbon tax and make it global. A tax on CO2 emissions - not a
cap-and-trade system - offers the best prospect of meaningfully engaging
China and the U.S., while avoiding the prospect of unhinged environmental

China emphatically opposes a hard emissions cap on its economy. Yet China
must be part of any climate deal or within 25 years, notes Fatih Birol,
chief economist at the International Energy Agency, its emissions of CO2
could amount to twice the combined emissions of the world's richest
nations, including the United States, Japan and members of the European

According to the world authority on the subject, the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it will cost $1.375 trillion per year to
beat back climate change and keep global temperature increases to less
than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Cap-and-traders assume, without much justification, that one country can
put a price on carbon emissions while another doesn't without affecting
trade or investment decisions. This is a bad assumption, given false
comfort by the Montreal Protocol treaty, which took this approach to
successfully rein in ozone-depleting gases. Chlorofluorocarbons are not
pervasive like greenhouse gases (GHGs); nor was the economy of 1987
hyperglobalized like ours today.

Good intentions to limit big polluters in some countries but not others
will turn any meaningful cap into Swiss cheese. It can be avoided by
relocating existing and new production of various kinds of CO2-emitting
industries to jurisdictions with no or virtually no limits. This is known
as carbon leakage, and it leads to trade anarchy.

How? The most advanced piece of climate legislation at the moment, the
Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, contains provisions for retaliatory
action to be taken against imports from carbon free-riding nations.
Married with the current economic malaise, the temptation to slide into a
righteous but runaway environmental protectionism - which Washington's K
Street lobbyists would be only too happy to grease - would almost
certainly lead to a collapse of the multilateral trading system. This
scenario was presented to the world's trade ministers last December at the
United Nations climate talks in Bali by David Runnalls of the
International Institute for Sustainable Development.

True, trade anarchy might reduce emissions via a massive global
depression. But there would be a lot of collateral damage. Because of the
sheer scale of the challenge and the state of the hyperglobalized economy,
we will need the same price on carbon everywhere, or it won't work

President Obama can define his legacy in the first 100 days by laying the
groundwork for a global tax on carbon dioxide emissions that is effective,
efficient, equitable and enforceable. An effective, harmonized tax on C02
emissions must stabilize the growth of atmospheric concentrations of GHGs
by no later than 2020. The tax must also be adjusted annually, by a global
body, according to this objective.

The IPCC has crunched the numbers and says this means a tax of about $50
levied on every metric ton of GHGs, or carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e to
use their terminology). In the short-term, consumers would feel the pinch.
But the tax would pave the way for cheaper, cleaner energy and ways of
getting around.

The most efficient way to apply a carbon tax is at a relatively small
number of major carbon bottlenecks, which cover the lion's share of GHGs.
The key points where flows of carbon are the most concentrated include:
trunk pipelines for gas, refineries for oil, railroad heads for coal,
liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals, cement, steel, aluminum and
GHG-intensive chemical plants.

Collecting and spending the bulk of revenues from a carbon tax must remain
the sovereign right of participating nations. For instance, nations could
decide to make the tax revenue-neutral by reducing taxes on income or
helping finance industrial retooling for a green economy.

However, we in the rich world must recognize our culpability for creating
three-quarters of this global warming mess, as well as our greater
capacity to finance industrial retooling. Thus, there could be a carrot
for developing-world nations which commit to applying the phased-in carbon
tax: Access to a portion of the carbon tax levies from rich countries to
help preserve forests and to prepare for climate change through flood
walls, improved irrigation, drought resistant crops, desalination
facilities, and the like. This is no small change: 10% of $50/metric ton
CO2e carbon tax levied in all rich countries would be $100 billion per
year. The stick for carbon free-riding countries would come in the form of
incrementally severe penalties, leading up to countervailing duties on
carbon-intensive imports.

A global carbon tax levied on a relatively small number of large sources
can be monitored by satellite and checked against the annual surveillance
of fiscal and economic polices already carried out by IMF staff. Thus, the
accounting involved is much more precise and much less subject to the
vagaries of corruption and conflict over which industries and companies
get their free handouts of carbon credits - carbon pork - than in a
cap-and-trade system.

There are three reasons why countries, such as China and India, that have
traditionally resisted any notion of a common responsibility to make
current polluters pay would do well to enlist in this effort.

First, while there is no limit on the downside for missing a hard cap,
with a carbon tax you just pay as you go. If a fast-growing country like
China accepted an emissions cap and then overshot it, they would have to
purchase carbon credits on the international market. If they missed their
target by a lot, carbon credits would be scarce, and purchasing them would
suck dry their foreign exchange reserves in one slurp. That's why a carbon
tax is much easier to swallow and, anyway, through the power of the price
signal, it would produce the same desired result as a hard cap.

Second, administering billions of dollars of carbon credits in a
cap-and-trade system in an already chaotic regulatory environment would
invite a civil war between interest groups seeking billions in carbon
credit handouts and the regulator holding the kitty. By contrast, a
uniform tax on CO2 emissions levied at a small number of large sites would
be relatively clear-cut. During the Montreal Protocol talks in the 1980s,
India smartly balked at a suggestion to phase out CFCs in certain products
and not in others because of the chaos that would result from the

Third, key people in China read our newspapers. They see the ominous
clouds of protectionism under the guise of environmentalism in bills like
Lieberman-Warner and they don't want to be harmed; neither should we,
given the trillions of dollars of Treasury bills they hold. Showing
compliance with a harmonized carbon tax at a small number of large
bottleneck points would be child's play compared to the chaos of

If President Obama hits the ground running fast in the direction of a
global carbon tax, he can usher in a new dawn that might finally make
peace between man and climate.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate and three-time presidential candidate.

Toby Heaps is the coordinator of Option 13, a campaign to help broker a
successor to the Kyoto Protocol that includes all major nations.

--------15 of 15--------

                             Socialism YES!
                             Capitalism NO!


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