|Progressive Calendar 12.07.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|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] gmail.com> 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] MinnesotaAtheists.org. "Atheists Talk" airs live on AM 950 KTNF in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. To stream live, go to http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen. Podcasts of past shows are available at http://MinnesotaAtheists.org or through iTunes. Program Notes are available at http://MinnesotaAtheists.org. --------2 of 15-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> 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 <http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/ For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560 --------3 of 15-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 12.07 2pm GROUP 37 HUMAN RIGHTS DAY WRITE-A-THON: SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7 - 2 TO 4 P.M. 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: http://www.twincitiesamnesty.org/meetings.html --------4 of 15-------- From: info [at] rnc8.org 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! (midwestgreenscare.org) 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] hotmail.com> 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] umn.edu or 651-645-6992. --------6 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> 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] comcast.net> 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] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls, Wisconsin 54022 -------8 of 15-------- From: Timothy Erickson <tim [at] politalk.org> 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 (FREE INDOOR PARKING) Mon. December 8th, 7:00 PM FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC 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 us: * 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] uhcan-mn.org> 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] uhcan-mn.org --------10 of 15-------- From: info [at] rnc8.org 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 8. --------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 economy? 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 somewhere. 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 embrace. 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 salvation? Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the '60s. --------12 of 15-------- Honeymoans From the Left By ALEXANDER COCKBURN CounterPunch 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 present". 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 interests". 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 Department. 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 positions. 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 speed. 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 By JEREMY SCAHILL CounterPunch 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 forces." 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 By RALPH NADER and TOBY HEAPS CounterPunch 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 protectionism. 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 Union. 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 anywhere. 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 ambiguity. 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 cap-and-trade. 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] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 vote third party for president for congress now and forever
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