Progressive Calendar 12.09.08
From: David Shove (
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]>
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

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]

--------2 of 15--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
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,

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

From: Deborah Rosenstein <dgr [at]>
Subject: Venezuela/film 12.09 6:30pm

Join the University of Minnesota Labor Education Service for Five

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]

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

From: Jordan S. Kushner <kushn002 [at]>
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]>
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 ( )
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]>
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
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
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

The Human Rights Program (UMN)
hrp [at] <>

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

From: Jane Powers <janepow [at]>
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:

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

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
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]>
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]>

WEDNESDAY, DEC 10, 4:30 - 5:30


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]>
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

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]
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]" <wamm [at]>
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]>

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 . 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]>
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


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

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

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

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.


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

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

"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

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

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,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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]
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