|Progressive Calendar 12.09.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 9 Dec 2008 00:04:40 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 12.09.08 1. RNC court watch 12.09 6pm 2. Iraq resists/f 12.09 6pm 3. Venezuela/film 12.09 6:30pm 4. Econ crisis 12.09 6:30pm 5. Alt Xmas 12.09 6:30pm 6. Human rights day 12.10 9am/4pm/6pm 7. Env justice/lunch 12.10 12noon 8. Human rights vigil 12.10 4:30pm 9. Gordon CAMpaign 12.10 5pm 10. Bouza/Eskit/Bicking 12.10 7pm 11. Amnesty Intl 12.10 7:30pm 12. James Petras - The election of the greatest con-man in recent history 13. Clive Dilnot - The triumph of greed 14. FM Lappe - Having a voice makes people happy 15. ed - Hope (poem) --------1 of 15-------- From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at] gmail.com> Subject: RNC court watch 12.09 6pm Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this intimidation, harassment and abuse! Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent people. Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55405 Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M participate and help organize RNC court solidarity. For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at] gmail.com THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! --------2 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Iraq resists/f 12.09 6pm Tuesday, 12/9, 6 pm, film "Meeting Resistance," about reactions and actions Iraqis have taken to occupation, Mayday Bookstore, 301 Cedar Ave, Mpls. http://twincities.indymedia.org/event/ --------3 of 15-------- From: Deborah Rosenstein <dgr [at] umn.edu> Subject: Venezuela/film 12.09 6:30pm Join the University of Minnesota Labor Education Service for Five Factories A new film (2006), Venezuela Produced and directed by Dario Azzellini and Oliver Ressler In Spanish with English subtitles Tuesday, December 9, 6:30 p.m. Rondo Community Library in St. Paul (corner of Dale St. & University Ave... free parking available) A unique look at worker control in Venezuela, including factories producing aluminum, paper, cocoa, tomato sauce and cotton. Once in financial trouble, these workplaces have been transformed into cooperative partnerships between the workers and the state. Free event. Everyone welcome. For more information or to receive monthly film series reminders, contact dgr [at] umn.edu --------4 of 15-------- From: Jordan S. Kushner <kushn002 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Econ crisis action 12.09 6:30pm Economic Crisis Action Group's next meeting is this Tuesday, December 9 at 6:30 pm, at Walker Church, 31st Street and 16th Avenue. --------5 of 15-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Alt Xmas 12.09 6:30pm This Tuesday, Dec. 9, please come and tell me how to have an alternative Christmas so I can pass it along to my family. It happens every year and i always need help to trying to stop buying. Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) are held (unless otherwise noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 W 7th, St Paul, MN Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information. --------6 of 15-------- From: Human Rights Center/Lauren Merritt <humanrts [at] umn.edu> Subject: Human rights day 12.10 9am/4pm/6pm Human Rights Day at the University of Minnesota Theme: "Human Rights Heroism" Join us for a day of special events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the human rights heroes who work to uphold its principles the world over. Wednesday, December 10, 2008 United Nations Hearing on the Desecration of Hmong Graves Featuring Professor James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Human Rights 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Coffman Memorial Union Theater Respect for Sacred Sites: Protecting Indigenous Burial Grounds Under International Law Featuring Professor James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Human Rights 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. 125 Nolte Center A Promise to the Dead Film screening followed by panel discussion Reception: 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. Film & Panel: 7:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Coffman Memorial Union Theater FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE HEARING AND LECTURE The Human Rights Program (UMN) 612-626-7947 hrp [at] umn.edu hrp.cla.umn.edu <http://hrp.cla.umn.edu/> --------7 of 15-------- From: Jane Powers <janepow [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Env justice/lunch 12.10 12noon Environmental Justice: Art Treats Lunch December 10 @ noon Intermedia Arts: 2822 Lyndale Ave., S, Mpls Free; Bring a lunch Many communities of color, low income communities and Indigenous Peoples in the U.S. and across the globe are disproportionately affected by our sometimes toxic economy, living near or work in polluting industries, drinking contaminated water or breathing polluted air. Join Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota and Women's Environmental Institute in discussing how public policies can better protect communities from these exposures and how we can build initiatives that enable communities to share in the emerging green economy. In conjunction with the show Art & Healing: Body Burden for more info: Intermedia Arts: www.intermediaarts.org --------8 of 15-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Human rights vigil 12.10 4:30pm Bridge Vigil: Orange Jumpsuit Solidarity for Human Rights Day Wednesday, December 10, 4:30-5:30 p.m. WAMM Tackling Torture at the Top (T3) will gather at 3:30. Lake Street/Marshall Avenue Bridge Spanning the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Attend a special vigil, in honor of Human Rights Day, focusing on the horror of torture. Come help make a dramatic statement about the terror of torture as part of U.S. policy. Demonstrate solidarity with prisoners who have been suffering the human rights abuse of torture in violation of national and international law. Orange jumpsuits and black hoods will be available for those wishing to wear them. They fit over bulky winter clothes. Get one on the St. Paul (East) side of the bridge, or bring your own. There will be signs for you to hold, but you are also encouraged to bring your own. 100 orange jumpsuits and black hoods will be available for people to wear. Let's fill them all! All are welcome. Circle up afterward on east side of bridge. Sponsored by: WAMM Tackling Torture at the Top (T3), WAMM St. Joan of Arc Peacemakers, WAMM Iraq Committee, the Twin Cities Peace Campaign and WAMM. -- From: braun044 <braun044 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: Bridge Vigil Focuses on Torture Wednesday, December 10, 2008, marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This exceptional document on human rights was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948. Of its 30 Articles, Article 5 specifically addresses the practice of torture. It states categorically: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The U.S. clearly practiced all four of these human rights violations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Since December 10 falls on Wednesday this year, we will focus on torture at the weekly 4:30 - 5:30 vigil on that Wednesday. The vigil is held on the Lake Street/Marshall Avenue Bridge spanning the Mississippi River. Orange jump suits will be available for those wishing to wear them and we encourage people to bring signs opposing torture. Signs and jumpsuits will also be available on the east side of the bridge. -- From: Roger Cuthbertson <rojo [at] visi.com> ANTI TORTURE DEMONSTRATION AT THE LAKE STREET/MARSHALL AVENUE BRIDGE WEDNESDAY, DEC 10, 4:30 - 5:30 OR 3:30 - 5:30 IF YOU THINK YOU WOULD LIKE TO DEMONSTRATE AN EXTRA HOUR DURING THE BETTER LIGHT OF AFTERNOON This Wednesday's special theme of protesting America's use of torture is in commemoration of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60 years ago on December 10. In addition to the usual Wednesday collection of people with signs and banners, we are hoping to have as many people as possible dressed in orange jump suits and black hoods to symbolize the inhuman treatment of prisoners by U.S. authorities at Guantanamo and at other prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. So bring your orange jump suit and black hood, if you have these. If not, orange jump suits and black hoods will be sold at the bridge at cost for $10. Or, if you would rather save the money and just borrow a suit, we can do it that way, too. The suits are large enough to fit over coats and warm layers of clothes for most people. So come, bring your friends, and help us make a sharp statement against any further use of torture by U.S. authorities. We need to hold Obama to his promise to close Gitmo. --------9 of 15-------- From: Cam Gordon <CamGordon333 [at] msn.com> Subject: Gordon CAMpaign 12.10 5pm You Prepared and paid for by Neighbors for Cam Gordon 630 Cedar Ave #1106, Mpls, MN 55454 You are invited to help launch Cam's 2009 re-election campaign for City Council Wednesday, December 10th, 5:00 - 8:00 PM Overflow Espresso Cafe 2929 University Ave SE To contact Cam call 296-0579 or email cam [at] camgordon.org Bringing People Together for a Better City Cam Gordon For Ward 2 Neighbors for Cam Gordon 630 Cedar Ave #1106, Mpls, MN 55454 --------10 of 15-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Bouza/Eskit/Bicking 12.10 7pm Erica Bouza as Virginia Woolf in "The Three Guineas" Wednesday, December 10, 7:00 p.m. St. Joan of Arc Church, Chapel 4537 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) presents Erica Bouza as Virginia Woolf with selections from her 1936 novel, "The Three Guineas." This textured, thoughtful, and sometimes humorous soliloquy, responds to three solicitations requesting funds for: 1) programs to help women enter the professions, 2) the establishment of a women's college and 3) the establishment of an anti-war organization. A discussion on the importance of Virginia Wolf today follows. Musial selections by renowned satirical singer-songwriter ESKIT will precede "The Three Guineas." Erica Bouza portrays Virginia Woolf with an authentic English accent, and she is remembered as an influential activist and the wife of former Minneapolis police chief, Tony Bouza, who has had to bail her out of jail on numerous occasions because of her powerful protests. Produced by WAMM founder Polly Mann and directed by Ed Felien. Suggested Donation: $10.00 to $25.00 (Students: $7.50). Sponsored by: WAMM. FFI: Call 612-827-5364. -- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> On Wednesday, Dec. 10, 7-9 PM, there will be a fundraiser for WAMM at St. Joan of Arc Church, 4537 Third Ave. South, in Minneapolis. Eskit will open the program with his anti-war songs, followed by a reading from Virginia Woolf by renowned activist Erica Bouza. Eskit's material will include previously recorded songs such as "Zombies In The Pentagon", as well as the new songs "700 Bases All Around The World" and "The Wait-And-See Blues" (in anticipation of President Obama). And on behalf of the Mothers of the world, delightful cabaret singer Marilyn Hand will introduce a song written for the political hawks of the world: "Shame On You". 2. As part of the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, Eskit produced a video called "The Lesbian Paranoia of Michelle Bachmann". That video is now on You Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJCDs3Qk0Y0 . It features community activist Dave Bicking in the role of Ms. Bachmann (notorious member of Congress from the Sixth District). Dave not only originated the role, he personally chose the fetching ensemble you see in the film. --------11 of 15-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 12.10 7:30pm AIUSA Group 640 (Saint Paul) meets Wednesday, December 10th, at 7:30 p.m. Mad Hatter Teahouse, 943 West 7th Street, Saint Paul. --------12 of 15-------- A Historic Moment: The Election of the Greatest Con-Man in Recent History James Petras December 2008 Global Research "I have a vision of Americans in their 80's being wheeled to their offices and factories having lost their legs in imperial wars and their pensions to Wall Street speculators and with bitter memories of voting for a President who promised change, prosperity and peace and then appointed financial swindlers and war mongers." An itinerant Minister 2008 Introduction The entire political spectrum ranging from the 'libertarian' left, through the progressive editors of the Nation to the entire far right neo-con/Zionist war party and free market Berkeley/Chicago/Harvard academics, with a single voice, hailed the election of Barack Obama as a 'historic moment', a 'turning point in American history and other such histrionics. For reasons completely foreign to the emotional ejaculations of his boosters, it is a historic moment: witness the abysmal gap between his 'populist' campaign demagoguery and his long-standing and deepening carnal relations with the most retrograde political figures, power brokers and billionaire real estate and financial backers. What was evident from even a cursory analysis of his key campaign advisers and public commitments to Wall Street speculators, civilian militarists, zealous Zionists and corporate lawyers was hidden from the electorate, by Obama's people friendly imagery and smooth, eloquent deliverance of a message of 'hope'. He effectively gained the confidence, dollars and votes of tens of millions of voters by promising 'change' (implying higher taxes for the rich, ending the Iraq war and national health care reform) when in fact his campaign advisers (and subsequent strategic appointments) pointed to a continuation of the economic and military policies of the Bush Administration. Within 3 weeks of his election he appointed all the political dregs who brought on the unending wars of the past two decades, the economic policy makers responsible for the financial crash and the deepening recession castigating tens of millions of Americans today and for the foreseeable future. We can affirm that the election of Obama does indeed mark a historic moment in American history: The victory of the greatest con man and his accomplices and backers in recent history. He spoke to the workers and worked for their financial overlords. He flashed his color to minorities while obliterating any mention of their socio-economic grievances. He promised peace in the Middle East to the majority of young Americans and slavishly swears undying allegiance to the War Party of American Zionists serving a foreign colonial power (Israel). Obama, on a bigger stage, is the perfect incarnation of Melville's Confidence Man. He catches your eye while he picks your pocket. He gives thanks as he packs you off to fight wars in the Middle East on behalf of a foreign country. He solemnly mouths vacuous pieties while he empties your Social Security funds to bail out the arch financiers who swindled your pension investments. He appoints and praises the architects of collapsed pyramid schemes to high office while promising you that better days are ahead. Yes, indeed, "our greatest intellectual critics", our 'libertarian' leftists and academic anarchists, used their 5-figure speaking engagements as platforms to promote the con man's candidacy: They described the con man's political pitch as "meeting the deeply felt needs of our people". They praised the con man when he spoke of 'change' and 'turning the country around' 180 degrees. Indeed, Obama went one step further: he turned 360 degrees, bringing us back to the policies and policy makers who were the architects of our current political-economic disaster. The Con Man's Self-Opiated Progressive Camp Followers The contrast between Obama's campaign rhetoric and his political activities was clear, public and evident to any but the mesmerized masses and the self-opiated 'progressives' who concocted arguments in his favor. Indeed even after Obama's election and after he appointed every Clintonite-Wall Street shill into all the top economic policy positions, and Clinton's and Bush's architects of prolonged imperial wars (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates), the 'progressive true believers' found reasons to dog along with the charade. Many progressives argued that Obama's appointments of war mongers and swindlers was a 'ploy' to gain time now in order to move 'left' later. Never ones to publicly admit their 'historic' errors, the same progressives turned to writing 'open letters to the President' pleading the 'cause of the people'. Their epistles, of course, may succeed in passing through the shredder in the Office of the White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. The conjurer who spoke of 'change' now speaks of 'experience' in appointing to every key and minor position the same political hacks who rotate seamlessly between Wall Street and Washington, the Fed and Academia. Instead of 'change' there is the utmost continuity of policy makers, policies and above all ever deepening ties between militarists, Wall Street and the Obama appointments. True believer-progressives, facing their total debacle, grab for any straw. Forced to admit that all of Obama's appointments represent the dregs of the bloody and corrupt past, they hope and pray that 'current dire circumstances' may force these unrepentant warmongers and life long supporters of finance capital to become supporters and advocates of a revived Keynesian welfare state. On the contrary, Obama and each and every one of his foreign policy appointments to the Pentagon, State and Justice Departments, Intelligence and Security agencies are calling for vast increases in military spending, troop commitments and domestic militarization to recover the lost fortunes of a declining empire. Obama and his appointees plan to vigorously pursue Clinton-Bush's global war against national resistance movements in the Middle East. His most intimate and trusted 'Israel-First' advisers have targeted Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Palestine and Iraq. Obama's Economic Con Game Then there is the contrast between the trillions Obama will shower on the financial swindlers (and any other 'too big to fail' private capitalist enterprise) and his zero compensation for the 100 million heads of families swindled of $5 trillion dollars in savings and pensions by his cohort appointees and bailout beneficiaries. Not a cent is allocated for the long term unemployed. Not a single household threatened with eviction will be bailed out. Obama is the trademark name of a network of confidence people. They are a well-organized gang of prominent political operative, money raisers, mass media hustlers, real estate moguls and academic pimps. They are joined and abetted by the elected officials and hacks of the Democratic Party. Like the virtuoso performer, Obama projected the image and followed the script. But the funding and the entire 'populist' show was constructed by the hard-nosed, hard-line free marketeers, Jewish and Gentile 'Israel Firsters', Washington war mongers and a host of multi-millionaire 'trade union' bureaucrats. The electoral scam served several purposes above and beyond merely propelling a dozen strategic con artists into high office and the White House. First and foremost, the Obama con-gang deflected the rage and anger of tens of millions of economically skewered and war drained Americans from turning their hostility against a discredited presidency, congress and the grotesque one-party two factions political system and into direct action or at least toward a new political movement. Secondly the Obama image provided a temporary cover for the return and continuity of all that was so detested by the American people - the arrogant untouchable swindlers, growing unemployment and economic uncertainty, the loss of life savings and homes and the endless, ever-expanding imperial wars. Featuring Paul Volker, 'Larry' Summers, Robert Gates, the Clintons, Geithner, Holder and General ('You drink your kool-aid while I sit on Boeings' Board of Directors') Jim Jones USMC, Obama treats us to a re-run of military surges and war crimes, Wall Street banditry, Abu Ghraib, AIPAC hustlers and all the sundry old crap. Our Harvard-minted Gunga Din purports to speak for all the colonial subjects but acts in the interest of the empire, its financial vampires, its war criminals and its Middle East leaches from the Land of the Chosen. The Two Faces of Obama Like the Janus face found on the coins of the early Roman Republic, Obama and his intimate cronies cynically joked about 'which is the real face of Barack', conscious of the con-job they were perpetrating during the campaign. In reality, there is only one face - a very committed, very consequential and very up front Obama, who demonstrated in every single one of his appointments the face of an empire builder. Obama is an open militarist, intent by every means possible to re-construct a tattered US empire. The President-Elect is an unabashed Wall Street Firster - one who has placed the recuperation of the biggest banks and investment houses as his highest priority. Obama's nominees for all the top economic positions (Treasury, Chief White House economic advisers) are eminently qualified, (with long-term service to the financial oligarchy), to pursue Obama's pro-Wall Street agenda. There is not a single member of his economic team, down to the lowest level of appointees, who represents or has defended the interests of the wage or salaried classes (or for that matter the large and small manufacturers from the devastated 'productive' industrial economy). The Obama propagandists claim his appointments reflect his preference for 'experience' - which is true: his team members have plenty of 'experience' through their long and lucrative careers maximizing profits, buyouts and speculation favoring the financial sector. Obama does not want to have any young, untested appointees who have no long established records of serving Big Finance, whose interests are too central to Obama's deepest and most strongly held core beliefs. He wanted reliable economic functionaries who recognize that re-financing billionaire financiers is the central task of his regime. The appointments of the Summers, Rubins, Geithners and Volkers fit perfectly with his ideology: They are the best choices to pursue his economic goals. Critics of these nominations write of the 'failures' of these economists and their role in 'bringing about the collapse of the financial system'. These critics fail to recognize that it is not their 'failures', which are the relevant criteria, but their unwavering commitment to the interests of Wall Street and their willingness to demand trillions of dollars more from US taxpayers to bolster their colleagues on Wall Street. Under Clinton and Bush, in the run up to the financial collapse, they facilitated ('deregulated') the practice of swindling one hundred million Americans of trillions in private savings and pension funds. In the current crisis period with Obama they are just the right people to swindle the US Treasury of trillions of dollars in bailout funds to refinance their fellow oligarchs. The White President (Bush) leaves steaming financial turds all over the White House rugs and Wall Street summons the 'historic' Negro President Obama to organize the cleanup crew to scoop them out of public view. Obama, the Militarist, Outdoes His Predecessor What makes Obama a much more audacious militarist and Wall Streeter than Bush is that he intends to pursue military policies, which have already greatly harmed the US people with appointed officials who have already been discredited in the context of failed imperial wars and with a domestic economy in collapse. While Bush launched his wars after the US public had their accustomed peace shattered by an orchestrated fear-mongering after 9/11, Obama intends to launch his escalation of military spending in the context of a generalized public disenchantment with the ongoing wars, with monumental fiscal deficits, bloated military budgets and after 100,000 US soldiers have been killed, wounded or psychologically destroyed. Obama's appointments of Clinton, General Jim Jones, dual Israeli citizen Rahm Emanuel and super-Zionist Dennis Ross, among others, fit perfectly with his imperial-militarist agenda of escalating military aggression. His short list of intelligence candidates, likewise, fits perfectly with his all-out effort to "regain US world leadership" (reconstruct US imperial networks). All the media blather about Obama's efforts at 'bipartisanship', 'experience' and 'competence' obscures the most fundamental questions: The specific nominees chosen from both parties are totally committed to military-driven empire-building. All are in favor of "a new effort to renew America's standing in the world" (read 'America's imperial dominance in the world'), as Obama's Secretary of State-to-be, Hillary Clinton, declared. General James Jones, Obama's choice for National Security Advisor, presided over US military operations during the entire Abu Ghraib/Guantanemo period. He was a fervent supporter of the 'troop surge' in Iraq and is a powerful advocate for a huge increase in military spending, the expansion of the military by over 100,000 troops and the expanded militarization of American domestic society (not to mention his personal financial ties to the military industrial complex). Robert Gates, continuing as Obama's Secretary of Defense, is a staunch supporter of unilateral, unlimited and universal imperial warfare. As the number of US-allied countries with troops in Iraq declines from 35 to only 5 by January 1, 2009 and even the Iraqi puppet regime calls for a withdrawal of all US troops by 2012, Gates, the intransigent, insists on a permanent military presence. The issue of 'experience' revolves around two questions: (a) experience related to what past political practices? (b) experience relevant to pursue what future policies? All the nominees' past experiences are related to imperial wars, colonial conquests and the construction of client states. Hiliary Clinton's 'experience' was through her support for the bombing of Yugoslavia and the Nato invasion of Kosova, her promotion of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), an internationally recognized terrorist-criminal organization as well as the unrelenting bombings of Iraq in the 1990s, Bush's criminal invasion of Iraq in 2003, Israel's murderous bombing of civilian centers in Lebanon‚ - and now full-throated calls for the 'total obliteration of Iran'. Clinton, Gates and Jones have never in their mature political careers proposed the peaceful settlement of disputes with any adversary of the US or Israel. In other words, their vaunted 'experience' is based solely on their one-dimensional militarist approach to foreign relations. 'Competence', as an attribute again depends on the issue of 'competence to do what'? In general terms, 'The Three' (Clinton, Gates and Jones), have demonstrated the greatest incompetence in extricating the US from prolonged, costly and lost colonial wars. They lack the minimum capacity to recognize that military-driven empire-building in the context of independent states is no longer feasible, that its costs can ruin an imperial economy and that prolonged wars erode their legitimacy in the eyes of their citizens. Even within the framework of imperial geo-political strategic thinking, their positions exhibit the most dense incompetence: They blindly back a small, highly militarized and ideologically fanatical colonial state (Israel) against 1.5 billion Muslims living in oil and mineral resource-rich nations with lucrative markets and investment potential and situated in the strategic center of the world. They promote total wars against whole populations, as is occurring in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia and, which, by all historical experience, cannot be won. They are truly 'Masters of Defeat'. The point of the matter is that Obama appointed the 'Big Three' for their experience, competence and bipartisan support in the pursuit of imperial wars. He overlooked their glaring failures, their gross violations of the basic norms of civilization (of the human rights of tens of millions civilians in sovereign nations) because of their willingness to pursue the illusions of a US-dominated new world order. Conclusion Nothing speaks to Obama's deep and abiding commitment to become the savior of the US empire as clearly as his willingness to appoint to the highest position of policy making the most mediocre failed politicians and generals merely because of their demonstrated willingness to pursue the course of military-driven empire building even in the midst of a collapsing domestic economy and ever more impoverished and drained citizenry. Just as Obama's electoral campaign and subsequent victory will go into the annals as the political con-job of the new millennium, his economic and political appointments will mark another 'historic' moment: The nomination of corrupt and failed speculators and warmongers. Let us join the inaugural celebration of our 'First Afro-American' Imperial President, who wins by con and rules by guns! --------13 of 15-------- The Triumph Of Greed Clive Dilnot New Statesman Published 04 December 2008 http://www.newstatesman.com/ideas/2008/12/greed-economy-crime-essay "There is a comment from Marx (from Capital) that is salutary here: Capital is said by a Quarterly reviewer to fly turbulence and strife, and to be timid; but this is very incompletely stating the question. Capital eschews no, or very small profit . . . with adequate profit, [it] is very bold. A certain 10 per cent will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent will produce eagerness; 50 per cent positive audacity; 100 per cent will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged. If turbulence and strife will bring profit, it will freely encourage both. Smuggling and the Slave Trade have amply proved all that is here stated." The events of the past few months have shown with stark clarity that the financial models pursued in the sub-prime mortgage industry were so deeply flawed that they call into question the economics on which they were based. Yet to date there is precious little evidence of any fundamental rethinking taking place, either in the financial industry or by the economics profession, much of which still seems in denial about the gravity of the present crisis. With few exceptions, the argument from all sides - and from most in politics, too - seems to be for a return to business as usual as quickly as possible. But is continuity in how markets operate what we want? Or even what we can afford? Or are the costs of doing business this way - and the moral and social, as well as financial, costs - more than we should be asked to bear? Consider this story. It concerns the collapse of Northern Rock in 2007. The tale is by now well known (it was first uncovered by the financial analyst Richard Murphy), but it still bears repetition. Here is Iain Macwhirter's version from the New Statesman of 20 October 2008: "The Treasury minister Yvette Cooper discovered to her dismay that Northern Rock didn't own half its own mortgages: ¬£50bn had been hived off to a Jersey-based company, Granite, registered as a charity benefiting Down's syndrome children in the north-east of England." The arrangement was sanctioned at the highest levels of the company. The story should be an acute embarrassment for an industry which, only a few months ago, was hailed by Gordon Brown as perhaps a more significant force for creating prosperity than the Industrial Revolution. But it is more than an embarrassment. Whether it is technically illegal or not (though it is clear that the Down's Syndrome Association North-East was at least subject to identity theft), most of us would say that what happened at Northern Rock was, at minimum, a serious moral crime. Instinctively and surely correctly, we feel there is something fundamentally unforgivable in using a charity for Down's syndrome children as a tax-evasive park for distressed mortgages. Not only is it a moral crime: it is a step too far towards the criminal per se. Like with Enron and many others before it (a litany that is now getting much too long for comfort), Northern Rock's act is in danger of blurring the line between business and crime. We are all aware that this is a line crossed with increasing frequency. Corporate scandals of the past few years have involved many, if not most, of the world's major global accounting firms as well as major corporations and financial institutions. Caribbean tax havens run on tax evasion and money-laundering, as do their British counterparts, something their governments no longer bother to deny. (Barack Obama had a telling line in one of his campaign speeches: "By the way, did you know that there's a building in the Cayman Islands that supposedly houses 18,000 corporations? That's either the biggest building or the biggest tax scam on record. And I think we know which one it is.") In Europe as a whole, crime is now one of the largest single sectors of business, with the Mafia alone controlling, through "legitimate" companies, roughly 15 per cent of Italy's GNP (worth as much as $800bn a year). We know this, but we pretend - along with our governments - that the institutionalisation of crime within the "mainstream" economy does not matter; that it doesn't come with acute costs. This is nonsense. The global cost of tax evasion and avoidance is estimated, conservatively, at roughly $500bn. When more than 40 per cent of the value of African bank accounts is in Swiss banks, we know that looting and corruption - the politics of spoil, as Oswald Spengler named it nearly 80 years ago - has taken place on a huge scale. The (failed) reconstruction of Iraq, with almost no new infrastructure or working institutions to show for it, will be recorded as probably the largest site of embezzlement in history. One could go on. This should merely serve to remind us that crime is indeed a redistribution of wealth, but there is nothing of Robin Hood about it. It is the most regressive form of "taxation" and the one most debilitating, in all its consequences, to social well-being. It is also - though we tend to forget this - economically destructive, and even incompetent. After all, crime is nothing but theft; by definition it does not make, it takes. It leeches monies out of the economy and it erodes the conditions for real economic life, because these are dependent on the structures of trust that crime destroys. To slip towards crime, therefore, is to slip into an economic model in which wealth is no longer created in any real sense but only extracted from what already exists. In fact, the much-vaunted "creativity" of the financial markets since 2001 boils down to little more than the invention of extraordinary mechanisms which increase the circulation of capital through the system (enabling revenue to be skimmed from each stage in the process) but which do not actually create wealth. Derivatives are the most famous of these inventions, but in the sub-prime mortgage market it was the creation of complex devices for enabling the packaging and perpetual selling-on of securitised loans. For the companies that deployed them, these models permitted a whole new model of banking in which a bank's profit comes not from deposit-and-lend in the old sense, but from its ability to generate increasing flows of capital by packaging and selling on loans, these made possible by leveraging the banks' deposits at ever higher ratios. If you can leverage deposits in this way (at ratios of up to 30:1) it allows for astonishing short-term profit. The downside is enormously extended and intensified longer-term risk. For all their apparent mathematical sophistication, the models that Northern Rock and others used are considerably closer to pyramid selling rackets - or to the fantasy of perpetual-motion machines - than their operators would like to admit. The simple proof of this is that, as Paul Volcker (chairman of the Federal Reserve under Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and now chairman-designate of Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board) and others have noted, these models failed their own test. That is to say, they failed in the market - and they did so not just marginally, as a result of adverse circumstances, but spectacularly, as a result of their own internal contradictions. If you believe that markets can be accounted for almost wholly by their internal mechanisms, it is a short step to begin to say that this is how they should operate in the world. It is then an even shorter step to thinking that these models can be transposed directly to messy and impure reality. If you also believe that equilibrium is now equivalent to perpetual growth, and if you then believe, or create, a model which says that there is spare capital in the economy to which you can gain access (even if it is essentially through debt that you will create), if you add to this an ethos in which high-level risk is acceptable (because you have found a profit incentive for passing it on endlessly), you have three of the conditions for the sub-prime debacle. All that is additionally required is an industry-wide consensus on leveraging bank deposits at previously undreamt-of ratios, and the political labour of defending non-interference in the operation of markets. The lure of almost unimaginable returns (collectively as profits, individually as "bonuses") secured the first. It took no work at all to secure the second, because 30 years of market deregulation had eviscerated what few provisions for oversight had survived. Add to this governments on both sides of the Atlantic disposed to believe that financial markets can do no wrong, and you have all the essential institutional frameworks ready to set your market in operation. Almost all that there is left to do is the (enjoyable) task of allocating the rewards of ingenuity to those who have laboured so hard to create these models. It was, of course, all an impossible dream: the lure of profit overrode the intelligence judgement. There is a comment from Marx (from Capital) that is salutary here: Capital is said by a Quarterly reviewer to fly turbulence and strife, and to be timid; but this is very incompletely stating the question. Capital eschews no, or very small profit . . . with adequate profit, [it] is very bold. A certain 10 per cent will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent will produce eagerness; 50 per cent positive audacity; 100 per cent will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged. If turbulence and strife will bring profit, it will freely encourage both. Smuggling and the Slave Trade have amply proved all that is here stated. In the sub-prime crisis, criminality and irresponsibility come into play because no one who believes in market equilibrium can also believe in what the models proposed: a world of perpetually increasing returns. In fact, it may be that no one really did. One characteristic that will become dramatically clear when the whole debacle is eventually analysed and properly understood is the degree to which the companies involved from the beginning eschewed accountability and displaced risk. Certainly no one appears to have believed in the long-term viability of the models. The rate of reward that was demanded was, from the beginning, unsustainable. Desperate to take what short-term profits they could, companies acted like mine-owners determined to extract the last ton. Unable to resist the mortgage-industry equivalent of digging out the pillars of coal that hold up the roof, they made collapse inevitable. Perhaps the most telling statistic in the story is the one that shows how, at its height, more than half of every dollar of revenue (that is to say, profit) earned on Wall Street went on salaries and, above all, bonuses. What does this tell us? It tells us that these models were dependent in their operation on what drove them, and what drove them was, ultimately, greed. So often cited as the necessary driver of the economy, greed is the adrenalin of the financial industry. It is what is evoked (as motivator), celebrated (through the culture of the bonus) and sometimes even denied - at least in public. (Remember the embarrassment that the financier Ivan Boesky - one of the models for Michael Douglas's greed-is-good character Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street - caused the University of California, Berkeley in the mid-1980s with his "greed is healthy" speech to MBA graduates a few months before his indictment and conviction on fraud charges.) But perhaps it is more true to say that greed is simply the axiom on which Wall Street and the City operate - the necessary and beneficent basis on which their drive, innovation and creativity are based. Yet the presupposition that greed delivers wealth can be countered by the present crisis. The sub-prime disaster is, in essence, the Treasure of the Sierra Madre writ large - only with a bill for close to $2trn to repair the damage. This might make us think a bit. The sums that the financial crisis will eventually cost are by an order of magnitude larger than anything we could have imagined even a few months ago. The question might then be: can we any longer afford greed? Can we any longer continue, in effect, to subsidise its pursuit? There are two linked economic arguments for greed. The first is that it is necessary; the second is that it can be isolated and transformed into a virtue. They amount to the proposition that accumulation is the necessary subjective dynamic for the virtue of wealth creation. This carries the implicit rider that accumulation is the goal with which the economy is principally concerned. So axiomatic is this understanding that it has no theoretical place in economics. But it is of the essence, what we need to address if we are to begin to think seriously again about markets and wealth creation (rather than leaving it to the economics profession and the financial industry, both of which are naturally delighted to be left alone to think of such matters). In fact, neither premise stands close scrutiny. Greed is scarcely necessary for motivation. We work to secure our livelihood; we work as part of a process of exchange; we work sometimes for fulfilment. But while most of us would like to have some accumulation at the end of our working life, greed is simply not our motivation. Society would be unsupportable if it were. As for the idea that greed can be isolated and transformed into a virtue, the world religions would argue vehemently - as one on this issue as on no other - that it cannot. Here, for example, is what Hinduism has to say on the matter. The extract comes from the Mahabharata. Bhishma says: Hear, O King, what the foundation is of sin. Covetousness alone is a great destroyer of merit and goodness. From covetousness proceeds sin. It is from this source that sin and irreligiousness flow, together with great misery. This covetousness is the spring also of all the cunning and hypocrisy in the world. It is covetousness that makes men commit sin . . . it is from covetousness that loss of judgement, deception, pride, arrogance and malice, as also vindictiveness, loss of prosperity, loss of virtue, anxiety and infamy spring. The early Christian writers give an even more graphic picture of the impossibility of isolating greed and transforming it into a virtue. The poet Prudentius offers a particularly compelling image. In an allegory, he has the sins engage in battle with the virtues. Greed enters the tale at the point where, as Phyllis Tickle tells us in her book The Seven Deadly Sins - Greed: "Luxury has been defeated by Sobriety, Lust has fled . . . dropping her bow and poisoned darts . . . Vanity has been stripped naked and her robes dragged off, Allurement's garlands . . . shredded; Strife's gold ornaments and jewels scattered . . . and the battlefield . . . is littered with all the garments, appointments, abandoned weapons and apparel that such a violent contest would occasion." Stepping on to the field, Greed "sets out to harvest the scene of battle and its dead for all their trinkets". As she does so - and this is the key image - she "is accompanied in this endeavour by Care, Hunger, Fear, Anxiety, Perjury, Dread, Fraud, Fabrication, Sleeplessness and Sordidness . . . As this unholy company does its work of salvage, it is joined by all the crimes that are, as Prudentius says . . . 'the brood of their mother Greed's black milk'. Murder, pillage, scavenging of the dead, civil war, pride of possession . . . the list goes on and on . . . 'like ravenous wolves, her young prowl across the field'." This is a magnificently powerful critique. To anyone who has followed, for example, the greed-fuelled "wars" in eastern Congo over the past decade, Prudentius's description, for one, is not merely allegorical, but an accurate description of unfettered greed acting in a world where it can exploit iniquity and force with impunity. But then, as we have already seen in the little story from Northern Rock, greed inevitably comes onstage accompanied by a phalanx of sins and social evils. It is, so to speak, never alone. And it is significant, too, perhaps, for what it excludes - as in the splendid question that a Sikh text rhetorically asks: "Where there is greed, what love can there be?" All this might make us want to ask about the costs of greed. The risk that greed tends to translate (long-term) processes of wealth creation into (short-term) schemes of wealth extraction that are destructive of the real economy could scarcely be more nakedly expressed than in the current economic crisis. Behind the crisis, however, behind even the slippage towards irresponsibility and criminality that greed induces - and besides the social and environmental costs of greed - there is a still deeper cost that comes in how we conceive what an economy is and what it is not. There are two problems here. The first is that while greed and accumulation are infinitely less significant in relation to the totality of material and economic life than economics presupposes, the force of the drive towards accumulation inverts the real relations involved and gives it undue prominence. This problem has been compounded by a second one. Over the past 30 years we have allowed the question of what the economy is and what it should be to become the exclusive province of economics and the financial industry. They have, not surprisingly, defined it predominantly in terms of accumulation. More seriously, we have grown dependent on eliding accumulation with what we collectively, if indistinctly, define as the common good. As we have institutionalised this elision, accumulation has become the principal virtue that determines us and defines who we are. However, in so doing, we discover that we have put the extraction of wealth at the heart of what defines our common good. This was the basis of Rosa Luxemburg's observation that capitalism will end on the day that it consumes the last meadow. Today, it explains in a single sentence the "problems" we have with unsustainability. It is worth thinking about the potential cost of this stress on accumulation. If it will cost $700bn (a figure no one thinks sufficient: it has risen almost every day) to "solve" the crisis we are now dealing with - the failure of a tiny marginal market, substantively irrelevant to the real economy - what will be the real cost of dealing with unsustainability? What will be the price that we will have to pay for defining our "common good" as accumulation? Greed matters, we can now realise, much more than we might have thought. It matters economically - the long-term costs of the meltdown in the financial industry will have generational and global impacts, let alone the immediate economic and human costs of repair and recession. It matters in terms of the future. It matters ethically - do we really want a global, national or local economy that stresses accumulation at any cost? And it matters conceptually - how we conceive and understand what an economy is, and what it should be. So, the crisis that is upon us is a challenge, not just for economic management, but also in terms of how we think about the economy as a whole. What it challenges in the short term is the adequacy of our understanding of what we call the economy. What it challenges in the longer term is how we can devise the kind of economy (meaning also the kind of moral and social economy) we would like to see in a mature world. That means a very serious act of thinking. However, the definition of our common good - which is the real basis of an economy - is far too important to be left to economists. Perhaps the only virtue of the tawdry little tale of Northern Rock is that it puts such questions back on the agenda, if only we can summon the will to ask them. Clive Dilnot teaches at New School University in New York --------14 of 15-------- Having a Voice Makes People Happy By Frances Moore Lappe December 08, 2008 Source: Yes ZNet What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome." So wrote Friedrich Nietzsche in 1895. I'm guessing that many of you would feel uncomfortable embracing this definition of happiness, especially coming from one of history's most famous curmudgeons. If so, maybe in part it's because too often we've nodded in agreement with Lord Acton's catchy caveat, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." And who would want to risk corruption? But what if we were to dig to the root, Latin meaning of power, "to be able"? Suddenly the word's hard edge dissolves; power simply means efficacy-our capacity, as philosopher Erich Fromm put it, to "make a dent." Over the last decade the happiness quest has spawned bestselling books, college courses, retreats, and even a "happiness conference." Most seem to offer similar advice: Once our basic physical needs are covered, more stuff does little to boost our happiness. Friendships, family, self-acceptance, and meaning in our lives are the core determinants of our happiness. I'm happy we're talking about happiness, but disturbed, too, because I've noticed that most happiness gurus fail to mention power. And why is that a big mistake? Because most human beings are not couch potatoes and whiners. We are doers and creators. In fact, the human need to "make a dent" is so great that Fromm argued we should toss out Ren Descartes' "I think therefore I am" and replace it with "I am, because I effect." Even much of what we call "materialism" is, I think, not about "things" at all. It is a distorted, ultimately unsatisfying attempt to feel powerful, with status through possessions forced to stand in for power. If true, then addressing powerlessness is a direct way both to foster happiness and to overcome planet-destroying materialism. There's just one pathway to happiness in which this deep, human need for power is given pride of place: democracy. By this I mean democracy as a living practice that enables us to have a real say in every dimension of our public lives, from school to workplace and beyond. Such power is expanding in part through a growing number of largely unseen citizen organizations. Among them is Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC), whose 5,000-plus members address concerns ranging from toxic dumping to open government. Jean True, a leader in KFTC in the 1990s, told me, "I was home raising kids for 10 years. I didn't know anything about politics. I thought my only job was to vote." When I asked Jean to tell me why she joined KFTC, she responded, "It's just the fun! That you can get together some regular people, go to the capitol, and make changes in state policy. ... We have a great time doing what we do, going toe to toe and head to head with state legislators. We sometimes know more than they do! It's the fun of power-the ant knocking over the buffalo." On the other side of the world in the year 2000, I danced with women in a Kenyan village, feeling their exuberant happiness in their newfound power as village tree planters and organizers of women's groups tackling problems from alcoholism to hunger. That same year, I stood on a railroad platform in rural India with desperately poor people lying only a few steps away on grimy concrete. I turned to Jafri, the young Indian researcher traveling with us-he was helping some of his country's poorest farmers escape the debt-and-toxins trap of chemical agriculture-and I asked: "How do you keep going?" "I have to feel I am doing something to address the roots of suffering," he replied, "or I couldn't be happy." Including power in our definition of happiness changes everything. If happiness lies in covering basic needs plus satisfying personal ties and finding meaning, society's role is limited. It need only ensure that essential needs are met and provide opportunities to pursue personal relationships and meaning. Even a largely totalitarian government could do that. But, if we add power to the happiness equation, our agenda shifts. Maximizing happiness then requires engaging citizens in changing the rules and norms so that more and more of us are empowered participants. And, of course, joining with others in this exhilarating pursuit we achieve a double whammy: Such activity furthers the widely appreciated relational and meaning aspects of the happiness puzzle. If, from our nation's founding onward, we Americans have treated freedom and happiness as virtually synonymous, my point is a really old one. We might do well to replace the maxims of Acton and even Nietzsche with one uttered by Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero 2000 years ago: "Freedom is participation in power." Frances Moore Lappe wrote this article as part of Sustainable Happiness, the Winter 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Frances is the author of many books including Diet for a Small Planet and Get a Grip, co-founder of Food First and the Small Planet Institute, and a YES! contributing editor. --------15 of 15-------- Barren prairie. Bones. Wind. Bones. Dust. Bones. Gray statue to Hope. Bones. Wind. Dust. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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 vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
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