|Progressive Calendar 12.12.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2008 03:34:28 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 12.12.08 ]. Russia/Georgia 12.12 9am 2. Felony fest 12.12 9am 3. Education outlook 12.12 12noon 4. Palestine vigil 12.12 4:15pm 5. Moyers/rule of law 12.12 9pm 6. Peace walk 12.13 9am Cambridge MN 7. Mizna sale 12.13 10am 8. Fast food workers 12.13 10am 9. Human rights 12.13 11am 10. NWN4P Mtka 12.13 11am 11. NWN4P GoldenValley 12.13 1:30pm 12. Rights march/rally 12.13 2pm 13. Northtown vigil 12.13 2pm 14. Mpls GP/2009 elect 12.13 3pm 15. Vets4Peace party 12.13 6pm 16. IWW holiday party 12.13 7pm 17. Economic crash/CTV 12.13 9pm 18. Neil Clark - Socialism's comeback 19. Lee Sustar - Victory at Republic! The face of resistance 20. Myles Hoenig - Time for a real Labor Party 21. Glen Ford - Obama's center-right presidency; the die is cast 22. Patrick Cockburn - Total defeat for US in Iraq 23. ed - bumpersticker --------1 of 23-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Russia/Georgia 12.12 9am International Forum on the Russia and Georgia Conflict Friday, December 12, 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. University of Minnesota, Humphrey Center, Room 215, 301 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis. Dean J. Brian Atwood will host a public forum on the Russia and Georgia conflict. Invited participants include Professor William O. Beeman, University of Minnesota Department of Anthropology; Assistant Professor Giancarlo Casale, University of Minnesota Department of History; Kathleen A. Collins, University of Minnesota Department of Political Science; and Associate Professor Martha Tappen, University of Minnesota Department of Anthropology. Endorsed by: WAMM. --------2 of 23-------- From: info [at] rnc8.org Subject: Felony fest 12.12 9am In addition to the RNC 8, 10 other individuals are being charged with bogus felonies by Susan Gaertner, several of whom are making appearances soon. The Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure (CRASS, www.RNCaftermath.org) and other allies of the RNC 8 have organized a number of ways to act in love and rage over the next few days, including a full day of events this Saturday coinciding with International Human Rights Day. Friday, Dec. 12: Felony Fest at Ramsey County Courthouse, 9am Several people facing felony charges have court appearances this Friday. Joe Robinson's sentencing and Dave Mahoney's pre-trial are at 9am, and then Cam Kennedy's pre-trial is at 1:15pm. Joe has asked that we pack the courtroom for his sentencing. No rooms have been assigned yet, but go to 15 West Kellogg Boulevard, 131A, and look at the screens for Joseph Robinson and David Mahoney before 9am and for Cameron Kennedy before 1:15pm. Their room assignments will be posted. Folks from felony support will also be in 131A in the morning to direct you to where you want to go. We've also organized a carpool leaving from Minneapolis. To get or offer a ride to the courthouse in downtown St. Paul, be at Seward Cafe (corner of 22nd Ave and Franklin Ave) at 8:15am on Friday! More info on felony support: http://rnc08arrestees.wordpress.com/arrestees/felony-info-and-support/ --------3 of 23-------- From: C Luger <cluger85 [at] YAHOO.COM> Subject: Education outlook 12.12 12noon Friday noon December 12 a brown-bag lunch to hear Representative Mindy Greiling and Angie Eilers speak on "The Outlook for Education in Minnesota". Rep. Mindy Greiling is chair of the MN House Education Finance Committee. She proposes "The New Minnesota Miracle" that will "fairly fund the needs of every students and every district..." Angie Eilers is Director of Policy for Growth and Justice, an organization making a persuasive case to invest more heavily in education in our state. Place: University Lutheran Church of Hope 13th Avenue and 6th St. S.E. Mpls.. 12 noon. Coffee & water will be provided. Please let us know by email if you plan to attend. This Committee on the Achievement Gap was authorized by the Board of Directors of the Minnesota DFL Education Foundation in January 2007. All who are actively interested in the welfare of our children are welcome to participate without reference to partisan affiliation or preference... To look at earlier activities of the Committee click on http://users.goldengate.net/~dfled/ --------4 of 23-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Palestine vigil 12.12 4:15pm Friday, 12/12, 4:15 to 5:30 pm, vigil to end US military/political support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, corner Summit and Snelling, St Paul. --------5 of 23-------- From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org> Subject: Moyers/rule of law 12.12 9pm Bill Moyers Journal | Returning the Rule of Law http://www.truthout.org/121008U Bill Moyers Journal: "This week on the Journal, Bill Moyers sits down with political commentator and Salon.com blogger Glenn Greenwald, who asks: Are we a nation ruled by men or by laws? --------6 of 23-------- From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Peace walk 12.13 9am Cambridge MN every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street --------7 of 23-------- From: Mizna <mizna-announce [at] mizna.org> Subject: Mizna sale 12.13 10am Come to Mizna for our end of year sale! Journals, Books from Arab American authors, Tshirt clearance, Arab DvDs, Arab American art and more! One day only. Artists in the California Building will also be having an open studio sale on this day! Saturday, December 13, 2008 10:00am - 2:00pm Mizna Office 2205 California Street NE #109a Minneapolis, MN Mizna is a forum for Arab American art. Visit our website at http://www.mizna.org http://mizna.org/mizna-announce.html or our website at http://www.mizna.org --------8 of 23-------- From: biego001 [at] umn.edu Subject: Fast food workers 12.13 10am Resource Center of the Americas coffeehour A Penny More Per Pound: Taking on the Fast Food Industry for Human Working Conditions Fair Food Twin Cities and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers 10am-11:30pm Mosaic of the Americas Building 3019 Minnehaha Ave. S. (1 block S. of Lake at 27th Ave.) --------9 of 23------- From: info [at] rnc8.org Subject: Human rights 12.13 11am Saturday, December 13 International Human Rights Day 11am at Coldwater Spring: A Magical Working in Support of the RNC 800 Directions to Coldwater Spring: From Hwy 55/Hiawatha in south Minneapolis, turn East (toward the Mississippi) at 54th St., take an immediate right (South) half-mile down the frontage road & through the cul- de-sac & the gates. Followed by more activities in support of RNC arrestees! --------10 of 23-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NWN4P Mtka 12.13 11am NWN4P-Minnetonka demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, at Hwy. 7 and 101. Park in the Target Greatland lot; meet near the fountain. We will walk along the public sidewalk. Signs available. --------11 of 23-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NWN4P GoldenValley 12.13 1:30pm Saturday, 1:30-2:30 PM Golden Valley - NW Neighbors for Peace will hold large banners on the pedestrian bridge over Highway 55, just west of Winnetka, in Golden Valley every Saturday. There is plenty of parking in the lot at the NW corner of the intersection; all are welcome. FYI Carole 763-546-5368. --------12 of 23-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Rights march/rally 12.13 2pm Human Rights Day March and Rally Saturday, December 13, 2:00 p.m. Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue South, Minneapolis. The Anti-War Committee will hold its annual Human Rights Day demonstration to mark the U.S. human rights abuses in Iraq, Palestine, Colombia, the U.S., and other places across the globe. Gather for an outdoor rally, followed by a short march, and a closing rally at Walker Church. Sponsored by: the Anti-War Committee. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call 612-379-3899 or visit <www.antiwarcommittee.org>. --------13 of 23-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 12.13 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------14 of 23-------- From: Dan Dittmann <dan [at] dandittmann.org> Subject: Mpls GP/2009 elections 12.13 3pm On Saturday, December 13th at 3pm, the Fifth Congressional District Green Party will be holding a follow up meeting to support plans for the 2009 Elections. The meeting will be at Dunn Brothers Cafe located at 201 Third Ave S in downtown Minneapolis. Tentative agenda: Review and follow up from previous meeting Goals and time lines Events - On street parking typically is not a problem on weekends. - Most buses heading toward downtown will come near this location. Several routes includes: 3, 10, 14, 16, and 18. If there are questions, please call (952) 454-2377 or write to dan [at] dandittmann.org . --------15 of 23-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Vets4Peace party 12.13 6pm Veterans for Peace, Chapter 27 Holiday Gathering Saturday, December 13, 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. St. Martin's Table, 2001 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis. Join the Veterans for Peace, Chapter 27 at their annual holiday gathering. Sponsored by: Veterans for Peace, Chapter 27. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call John, 612-339-3898. --------16 of 23-------- From: Michele Rockne <MRockne [at] gmail.com> From: <redblack [at] riseup.net> Subject: IWW holiday party 12.13 7pm A Get-Together on Saturday night. Get your holiday progressive book shopping done and help yer local wobblies at the same time! I.W.W. Holiday Book Party! Snacks * Songs * 20% off all books! Saturday, December 13th, 2008 7:00pm-9:00pm Mayday Bookstore 301 Cedar Ave(downstairs) on the West Bank Cedar/Riverside in Minneapolis Join members, supporters, family and friends of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) Twin Cities General Membership Branch for a party and book sale. There will be snacks, and drinks, and coffee. Fellow Worker Matt May will lead some classic Wobbly anthems. Mayday Books - home of the Twin Cities IWW monthly meeting will give a special offer of 20% off on all books. Hang out with friends, co-workers, and comrades! Do your holiday shopping at a place that supports the I.W.W. - Mayday Books. Just a few of the titles of interest Mayday Books carries: WOBBLIES & ZAPATISTAS Conversations on anarchism, Marxism, and Radical History THE BIG RED SONGBOOK 250-plus I.W.W. Songs BY THE ORE DOCKS A Working People's History of Duluth DETROIT I DO MIND DYING League of Revolutionary Black Workers ON THE GLOBAL WATERFRONT The Fight to Free the Charleston 5 JOE HILL The IWW & the Making of a Revolutionary Workingclass Counterculture STARVING AMIDST TOO MUCH & Other IWW Writings on the Food Industry DREAMS OF FREEDOM A Ricardo Flores Magon Reader & HUNDREDS MORE ALL ON SALE! --------17 of 23-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Economic crash/CTV 12.13 9pm Most judicious Minneapolis Television Network (MTN) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow! Households with basic cable may watch. Sat, 12/13, 9pm and Tues, 12/16, 8am A Crash Course on the Economic Crash Talk recently given by people's economist Karen Redleaf in Minneapolis. --------18 of 23-------- Socialism's Comeback By Neil Clark New Statesman (UK) December 2008 http://www.newstatesman.com/europe/2008/12/socialist-party-socialism Portside At the beginning of the century, the chances of socialism making a return looked close to zero. Yet now, all around Europe, the red flag is flying again "If socialism signifies a political and economic system in which the government controls a large part of the economy and redistributes wealth to produce social equality, then I think it is safe to say the likelihood of its making a comeback any time in the next generation is close to zero," wrote Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History, in Time magazine in 2000. He should take a trip around Europe today. Make no mistake, socialism - pure, unadulterated socialism, an ideology that was taken for dead by liberal capitalists - is making a strong comeback. Across the continent, there is a definite trend in which long-established parties of the centre left that bought in to globalisation and neoliberalism are seeing their electoral dominance challenged by unequivocally socialist parties which have not. The parties in question offer policies which mark a clean break from the Thatcherist agenda that many of Europe's centre-left parties have embraced over the past 20 years. They advocate renationalisation of privatised state enterprises and a halt to further liberalisation of the public sector. They call for new wealth taxes to be imposed and for a radical redistribution of wealth. They defend the welfare state and the rights of all citizens to a decent pension and free health care. They strongly oppose war - and any further expansion of Nato. Most fundamentally of all, they challenge an economic system in which the interests of ordinary working people are subordinated to those of capital. Nowhere is this new leftward trend more apparent than in Germany, home to the meteoric rise of Die Linke ("The Left"), a political grouping formed only 18 months ago - and co-led by the veteran socialist "Red" Oskar Lafontaine, a long-standing scourge of big business. The party, already the main opposition to the Christian Democrats in eastern Germany, has made significant inroads into the vote for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in elections to western parliaments this year, gaining representation in Lower Saxony, Hamburg and Hesse. Die Linke's unapologetically socialist policies, which include the renationalisation of electricity and gas, the banning of hedge funds and the introduction of a maximum wage, chime with a population concerned at the dismantling of Germany's mixed economic model and the adoption of Anglo-Saxon capitalism - a shift that occurred while the SPD was in government. An opinion poll last year showed that 45 per cent of west Germans (and 57 per cent of east Germans) consider socialism "a good idea"; in October, another poll showed that Germans overwhelmingly favour nationalisation of large segments of the economy. Two-thirds of all Germans say they agree with all or some of Die Linke's programme. It's a similar story of left-wing revival in neighbouring Holland. There the Socialist Party of the Netherlands (SP), which almost trebled its parliamentary representation in the most recent general election (2006), and which made huge gains in last year's provincial elections, continues to make headway. Led by a charismatic 41-year-old epidemiologist, Agnes Kant, the SP is on course to surpass the Dutch Labour Party, a member of the ruling conservative-led coalition, as the Netherlands' main left-of centre grouping. The SP has gained popularity by being the only left-wing Dutch parliamentary party to campaign for a "No" vote during the 2005 referendum on the EU constitutional treaty and for its opposition to large-scale immigration, which it regards as being part of a neoliberal package that encourages flexible labour markets. The party calls for a society where the values of "human dignity, equality and solidarity" are most prominent, and has been scathing in its attacks on what it describes as "the culture of greed", brought about by "a capitalism based on inflated bonuses and easy money". Like Die Linke, the SP campaigns on a staunchly anti-war platform - demanding an end to Holland's role as "the US's lapdog". In Greece, the party on the up is the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), the surprise package in last year's general election. As public opposition to the neoliberal economic policies of the ruling New Democracy government builds, SYRIZA's opinion-poll ratings have risen to almost 20 per cent - putting it within touching distance of PASOK, the historical left-of-centre opposition, which has lurched sharply to the right in recent years. SYRIZA is particularly popular with young voters: its support among those aged 35 and under stands at roughly 30 per cent in the polls, ahead of PASOK. In Norway, socialists are already in power; the ruling "red-green" coalition consists of the Socialist Left Party, the Labour Party and the Centre Party. Since coming to power three years ago, the coalition - which has been labelled the most left-wing government in Europe, has halted the privatisation of state-owned companies and made further development of the welfare state, public health care and improving care for the elderly its priorities. The success of such forces shows that there can be an electoral dividend for left-wing parties if voters see them responding to the crisis of modern capitalism by offering boldly socialist solutions. Their success also demonstrates the benefits to electoral support for socialist groupings as they put aside their differences to unite behind a commonly agreed programme. For example, Die Linke consists of a number of internal caucuses - or forums - including the "Anti-Capitalist Left", "Communist Platform" and "Democratic Socialist Forum". SYRIZA is a coalition of more than ten Greek political groups. And the Dutch Socialist Party - which was originally called the Communist Party of the Netherlands, has successfully brought socialists and communists together to support its collectivist programme. It is worth noting that those European parties of the centre left which have not fully embraced the neoliberal agenda are retaining their dominant position. In Spain, the governing Socialist Workers' Party has managed to maintain its broad left base and was re-elected for another four-year term in March, with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero promising a "socialist economic policy" that would focus on the needs of workers and the poor. There are exceptions to the European continent's shift towards socialism. Despite the recent election of leftist Martine Aubry as leader of the French Socialist Party, the French left has been torn apart by divisions, at the very moment when it could be exploiting the growing unpopularity of the Sarkozy administration. And, in Britain, despite opinion being arguably more to the left on economic issues than at any time since 1945, few are calling for a return to socialism. The British left, despite promising initiatives such as September's Convention of the Left in Manchester, which gathered representatives from several socialist groups, still remains fragmented and divided. The left's espousal of unrestricted or loosely controlled immigration is also, arguably, a major vote loser among working-class voters who should provide its core support. No socialist group in Britain has as yet articulated a critique of mass immigration from an anti-capitalist and anti-racist viewpoint in the way the Socialist Party of the Netherlands has. And even if a Die Linke-style coalition of progressive forces could be built and put on a formal footing in time for the next general election, Britain's first-past-the-post system provides a formidable obstacle to change. Nevertheless, the prognosis for socialism in Britain and the rest of Europe is good. As the recession bites, and neoliberalism is discredited, the phenomenon of unequivocally socialist parties with clear, anti- capitalist, anti-globalist messages gaining ground, and even replacing "Third Way" parties in Europe, is likely to continue. Even in Britain, where the electoral system grants huge advantage to the established parties, pressure on Labour to jettison its commitment to neoliberal policies and to adopt a more socialist agenda is sure to intensify. --------19 of 23-------- The Face of Resistance Victory at Republic! By LEE SUSTAR CounterPunch December 11, 2008 With a unanimous vote, workers at the Republic Windows & Doors plant in Chicago ended their six-day factory occupation late on December 10 after Bank of America and other lenders agreed to fund about $2 million in severance and vacation pay as well as health insurance. "Everybody feels great," said a tired but beaming Armando Robles, president of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE) Local 1110. Melvin Maclin, the local's vice president, agreed. "I feel wonderful," he said. "I feel validated as a human being. Everybody is so overjoyed. This is significant because it shows workers everywhere that we do have a voice in this economy. Because we're the backbone of this country. It's not the CEOs. It's the working people." Pointing, he continued, "See that sign up there? Without us, it would just say 'Republic,' because we make the windows and doors. This shows that you can fight--and that you have to fight." The settlement was a resounding victory for union members who were told a little more than a week earlier that the factory would be closed in less than three day's time--and that, contrary to federal law, they would get no severance pay. So to pressure the company to make good on what it owed them, the workers voted to stay put after the plant ceased production on December 5. By deciding to occupy their factory--a tactic used by labor in the 1930s, but virtually unknown in this country since--the Republic workers sparked a solidarity movement that forced one of the biggest banks in the U.S. to pay two months of wages and health care, even though the bank had no legal obligation to do so. * * * WHAT BEGAN as a resolute act of some 250 workers quickly became a national symbol of working-class resistance in a crisis-bound economy. Hundreds upon hundreds of union members and officials--not only from Chicago, but around the Midwest--came to the Republic factory to express their solidarity and bring donations of food and badly needed funds. But support for the Republic struggle went beyond the ranks of organized labor. The fightback crystallized mass anger about the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. Even though Bank of America--Republic's main creditor--is in line receive $25 billion in taxpayer money, the bank refused to finance the 60 days' pay due to workers under the WARN Act if a plant closes without the two-month notice required under the law. Democratic politicians, from President-elect Barack Obama down to Chicago aldermen, felt the pressure to declare their support for the struggle. Press coverage was affected as well. For once, the media not only highlighted the issues in a labor struggle, but also used its resources to investigate the employer. The Chicago Tribune reported that Republic's main owner, Rich Gillman, was involved in the purchase of a nonunion window factory in Iowa to move to. Journalists also uncovered evidence that Bank of America refused repeated requests to extend more credit to Republic, despite its infusion of bailout money. Thus, when UE decided to make Bank of America the target of a December 10 rally, there was a ready response--about 1,000 people turned out on short notice. "Since we're down here in the financial district, let's do a little mathematics," said Rev. Gregory Livingston of Rainbow/PUSH. "Bank of America got $25 billion. Citibank got $25 billion. Republic workers got how much? Zero. "That's why we're here in the financial district. It's where the money is. The people work, and guess whose money is in these banks? Guess whose money is in the market? Guess whose money is in their pockets? It's our money." But what was noteworthy about the picket wasn't the anger against the banks, but a palpable sense of workers' power. Members of a dozen different unions were on hand, as were student groups, socialists and community groups, all inspired by the Republic workers' bold stand. Larry Spivack, regional director of AFSCME Council 31, summed up the mood in his speech. "Look around you," he told the crowd, naming the main financial institutions nearby. "Who created all their wealth?" he asked--and was answered by the chant, "We did!" "Who has the power?" "We do!" Spivack continued: "This is a beginning, like when the Haymarket struggle took place in 1886," a reference to the Chicago martyrs in the struggle for the eight-hour workday. He concluded with a shout, "Power to the workers!" A few hours later, back at the Republic plant, after workers heard the terms of the agreement and voted, Bob Kingsley, the national director of organization for UE, made a similar point in assessing the victory: The significance of this struggle for the labor movement is that at a time when millions of American workers are facing greater and greater economic turmoil, and with it more and more instances of unfairness, there needed to be a clear symbol of resistance. What the workers at Republic are is the face of that resistance. They personify the challenge that the working class faces in today's economy, but they also symbolize the hope that if we, as workers, stick together, if we fight together, and if we're willing to push the limits, we can achieve incredible things. And their victory comes at a time when the labor movement needs it. Lee Sustar writes for the Socialist Worker. --------20 of 23-------- Time for a Real Labor Party by Myles Hoenig December 10th, 2008 Dissident Voice Fool me once shame on you. You fool me you can't get fooled again. - GWB Spoken like the true idiot that he is. So we expect a whole lot more out of the Obama administration. One bumper sticker even said, "Elect Intellect". Kind of turns around the old Adlai Stevenson quip when one supporter said to him, "All thinking people are for you:. His response was, ":That's not enough. I need a majority". The question to be raised is how does having someone new who's smarter than a fifth grader make a difference in solving the problems we're facing? Eight years has been a long time for our collective brain to atrophy. Can Obama restore that? Will it make a difference? When has the American public ever truly grappled with real solutions? We complain about the problems all the time. We've always expected our elected leaders to surround themselves with the "best and the brightest". That often gives the public the excuse to be the acquiescent sheep they are so carefully trained to be. We see the Obama economic team made up of the very types of people who brought us to the brink of Depression. Being smart just isn't enough. Missing from the team, and even his cabinet, are the very people who most truly represent those most hurt by this economic crisis: Labor and Consumers. Conspicuously absent? Not a word is mentioned of them, even by organized Labor itself. But that should be no surprise. The leadership of the CIO sold out the UAW and the labor movement in 1936 when UAW wanted to start their own political party for labor and farmers. It was either support Roosevelt and the New Deal or funds for organizing auto workers would be withheld.1 Since then, Labor has been under the thumb of the Democratic Party for so long now that they think they're part of the hand. It is no wonder there hasn't been a peep out of organized labor over the exclusion of Labor in Obama's economic powerhouse team. The Obama administration's exclusion of Labor clearly shows that the Democratic Party sees Labor's leaders as their loyal lieutenants. They see Labor's role as having no value, except to call out their armies during election time. They also know that if they were to have a real independent labor voice on their team their entire economic plan to revitalize Wall Street and the banking houses could crash. Will the rank and file union members ever wake up to the stranglehold the Democrats have over them? What's truly needed now are real alternative political parties. The Greens are out. In states like Maryland they can't even organize a sock drawer, let alone a political party. Other state Green Parties are stronger but overall very weak and getting weaker. If one just goes by raw numbers, their recent showing in Louisiana had been the margin that helped to defeat the corrupt Congressman Jefferson. Too often, though, the GP is reluctant to crow about how it can make an electoral difference or even try to. If only the Party could have had some bragging rights in 2000, then 2004 might not have been so disastrous for them! Libertarians have a very specific message, but with little money and no good organizers they might just as well duke it out with disenfranchised voters who might argue for staying home, still leaving the field wide open for the two main rivals. Shouldn't this be the time that Labor finally breaks from under the yoke of the Democrats, who are so hell-bent on being Wall Street's electoral arm? It is still inconceivable that rank and file union members don't do to their union bosses what Terry Malone did to Johnny Friendly2 and throw them all in the water. The support the Labor movement gives to the Democratic Party is contrary to the needs of labor. When, since 1947, has any serious Democratic candidate, let alone the party's platform, ever called for the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act, one of the most anti-labor pieces of legislation? It was the Reform Party candidate, Ross Perot, that Texan Ferengi, who in 1992 railed against NAFTA, our generation's most anti-labor treaty. Bill Clinton and his Democratic Party pushed it through once elected with continuing backing from Democrats and Republicans alike. And, the one issue that often ties up all union contractual activities is not just outsourcing, bad working conditions or bad bosses, or even wages. It is health care and the need to keep what coverage they can. If health care was taken off the table, with a national health care plan along the lines of Single Payer in place, then unions could focus on real labor issues. Yet it is taking forever for the Democrats in Congress to sign on to any real health care plan independent of the health insurance industry. A Labor Party would have very broad appeal. It would be a party for working families, regardless of their past political affiliations. And what difference does it make if it does hurt one party or another? If only it speaks for its members, why be apprehensive about whether or not its strength would hurt another's whose interests are clearly not theirs to begin with? A Labor Party not afraid to stand up to the Democratic and Republican Parties would honor the labor heroes who struggled or died fighting for the basic rights of workers in America. 1. "Who made the New Deal?" Lance Selfa, 11/20/08, Dissident Voice. [.] 2. On the Waterfront, 1954 [.] Myles Hoenig is a disenchanted member of PGCEA, a teachers' union in Maryland. He also ran a Green Party gubernatorial campaign in Maryland in 2006. (Eddie Boyd. Presente!) He can be reached at: myles.hoenig [at] gmail.com. --------21 of 23-------- Obama's Center-Right Presidency The Die is Cast By GLEN FORD CounterPunch December 10, 2008 In case there are any lingering doubts, it's official: Barack Obama has earned a well-deserved rating of "center-right" politician, courtesy of the New York Times. The president-elect worked hard to pull himself rightward, after starting off with a reputation as a liberalish "peace" candidate. Nobody calls Obama that anymore, not since he endorsed the bankers' bailout, put the economy's future in the hands of the same people that set the stage for financial meltdown, and let Bush's War Secretary keep the keys to the imperial armory. So let's give it to Obama. He won't ever have an identity crisis, again. There are lots of political appointments to go before Obama's roster is complete, but the heavy lifting is done. The ideological pillars of America's first Black presidency have been planted wholly within the parameters of governance allowed by big capital and the imperial military. Obama's "transition" is more accurately seen as a "continuity" of rule by the lords of finance capital and their protective screen of warriors and spies. The Obama regime, still incomplete, already reeks of thieves and war criminals. Obama's "national security" and economic lineup is an infinity of ugliness, more repulsive than I could have imagined back in the summer of 2003, when Obama's rise to glory was about to begin. The supremely talented actor/state senator's capacity for obfuscation; his refusal to take a firm position on any subject of real controversy; his transparently false denials of fealty to the corporate Democratic Leadership Council, which had publicly claimed him - all this should have marked Obama as bad news for Black America. But his was a fatally attractive package, like the shiny little cluster bomblets that kids pick up in places like Afghanistan. My colleagues and I were most fearful of the effect Obama's corporate-rigged explosion onto the national scene would have on the black polity - both the masses and leadership circles. Obama's phony progressivism didn't fool us for a second - although we yearned as much as other African Americans for the appearance of a Great Black Hope. Obama wasn't "The One," no matter what Oprah said. Rather, he became a menace to black folks' collective mental health. We knew that a mass hallucinatory phenomenon was about to occur, that would loosen many black folks' grips on reality no matter how often and loudly we warned that Barack Obama was a cynical corporate striver who encouraged whites to believe that his election would mark the end of black politics as we have known it. (Take breath, here.) He was the anti-Jesse, the anti-Sharpton, a fraudulent peace candidate, an eager servant of the rich. We diligently provided evidence of Obama's true political nature, and at every juncture before and during the primaries we were proven correct in our analysis. But no matter. African Americans' pent up hunger to see a (pretty) black face in the highest place, would not be denied. They desperately needed the Obama of their imaginings, and would draw and quarter anyone that questioned the senator's sainthood. Were black folks "losing their damn minds," as comedian David Alan Grier puts it on Comedy Central's Chocolate News? Yes, they were. Black America became a fortress, impregnable to truth. The ever-mounting evidence of Obama's abhorrence of real social change beyond his own singular elevation; his fawning deference to big business; his call for an additional 100,000 soldiers and Marines; his early refusal to consider a moratorium on housing foreclosures; his reversal on electronic spying on Americans - none of these actual, real world occurrences could puncture the mass delusion. A kind of collective autism sealed off the African American mind from reality-based phenomena. The cruelest, blanket insults to African American dignity issued repeatedly from Obama's mouth, yet were gratefully accepted as proof of the candidate's "tough love" for "his people." Fast forward to the present. Obama has awarded his administration's economic and imperial military portfolios to plundering investment bankers and their servants (Robert Rubin's derivative-addicted sidekicks) and endless-warriors (Iran-Contra super-spook and master of intrigue Robert Gates). In this scariest chapter of world history to date, the Secretaries of War (let's have some truth in language) and Treasury will be the dominant players in determining the nation's economic and military place on the planet. That's where the bulk of the national wealth will be diverted. Everyone else will scramble for crumbs. The store has already been given away to the military and economic Right. Thank you, Obama. Macro military and economic adventures and experiments will be the governmental order of the day - and whatever else happens will be sideshows, dwarfed by the massive movement of mega-money deployed to salvage the imperial system. Which is why it is pitiful - and sad in the extreme - to hear influential black activists make a huge deal out of Obama's proposed White House Office on Urban Policy. "Just you wait and see," these wishful souls seem to be saying. "Obama's gonna come through for us. Yes, he will." As if a little advisory outfit tucked into the White House organizational chart will make a damn bit of difference as the giants of the cabinet battle over trillions. Our world changed fundamentally between Obama's acceptance speech in August, and his endorsement of the banker bailout in early October. The bottom fell out of the global capitalist financial system. From now on, it's all crisis, all the time. Obama has done everything humanly possible to assure the Lords of Capital that he is at their service. His appointments prove it. But some African Americans - far too many - still labor under the illusion that a solemn pact exists between themselves and Obama. It is a belief based on blind faith and things unseen - or an imagined exchange of winks. A prominent and highly intelligent, lifelong New York activist assures audiences that Barack Obama is winking at black folks, to confirm the understanding between the president-elect and his people. White folks can't see the wink, but if a black person looks closely - there it is! And black folks shouldn't hesitate to wink back at him, to acknowledge the secret we share. I assume the organizer is speaking metaphorically, though I sometimes wonder. The point is, although it might appear that Obama has broken his commitment to African Americans (actually, he never made one), we should rest easy - his thoughts are with us. Whenever it seems like he's brushing us off, well, that's just his way of fooling the white folks - in our interests, of course. When the psychological need is great enough, people will believe anything. But chasing mirages is no road to freedom. Glen Ford is editor of Black Agenda Report, where this article appears. He can be contacted at Glen.Ford [at] BlackAgendaReport.com --------22 of 23-------- It's All Spelled Out in Unpublicized Agreement Total Defeat for U.S. in Iraq By PATRICK COCKBURN CounterPunch December 11, 2008 On November 27 the Iraqi parliament voted by a large majority in favor of a security agreement with the US under which the 150,000 American troops in Iraq will withdraw from cities, towns and villages by June 30, 2009 and from all of Iraq by December 31, 2011. The Iraqi government will take over military responsibility for the Green Zone in Baghdad, the heart of American power in Iraq, in a few weeks time. Private security companies will lose their legal immunity. US military operations and the arrest of Iraqis will only be carried out with Iraqi consent. There will be no US military bases left behind when the last US troops leave in three years time and the US military is banned in the interim from carrying out attacks on other countries from Iraq. The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), signed after eight months of rancorous negotiations, is categorical and unconditional. America's bid to act as the world's only super-power and to establish quasi-colonial control of Iraq, an attempt which began with the invasion of 2003, has ended in failure. There will be a national referendum on the new agreement next July, but the accord is to be implemented immediately so the poll will be largely irrelevant. Even Iran, which had furiously denounced the first drafts of the SOFA saying that they would establish a permanent US presence in Iraq, now says blithely that it will officially back the new security pact after the referendum. This is a sure sign that Iran, as America's main rival in the Middle East, sees the pact as marking the final end of the US occupation and as a launching pad for military assaults on neighbours such as Iran. Astonishingly, this momentous agreement has been greeted with little surprise or interest outside Iraq. On the same day that it was finally passed by the Iraqi parliament international attention was wholly focused on the murderous terrorist attack in Mumbai. For some months polls in the US showed that the economic crisis had replaced the Iraqi war as the main issue facing America in the eyes of voters. So many spurious milestones in Iraq have been declared by President Bush over the years that when a real turning point occurs people are naturally sceptical about its significance. The White House was so keen to limit understanding of what it had agreed in Iraq that it did not even to publish a copy of the SOFA in English. Some senior officials in the Pentagon are privately criticizing President Bush for conceding so much to the Iraqis, but the American media are fixated on the incoming Obama administration and no longer pays much attention to the doings of the expiring Bush administration. The last minute delays to the accord were not really about the terms agreed with the Americans. It was rather that the leaders of the Sunni Arab minority, seeing the Shia-Kurdish government of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki about to fill the vacuum created by the US departure, wanted to barter their support for the accord in return for as many last minute concessions as they could extract. Some three quarters of the 17,000 prisoners held by the Americans are Sunni and they wanted them released or at least not mistreated by the Iraqi security forces. They asked for an end to de-Baathication which is directed primarily at the Sunni community. Only the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr held out against the accord to the end, declaring it a betrayal of independent Iraq. The ultra-patriotic opposition of the Sadrists to the accord has been important because it has made it difficult for the other Shia parties to agree to anything less than a complete American withdrawal. If they did so they risked being portrayed as US puppets in the upcoming provincial elections at the end of January 2009 or the parliamentary elections later in the year. The SOFA finally agreed is almost the opposite of the one which US started to negotiate in March. This is why Iran, with its strong links to the Shia parties inside Iraq, ended its previous rejection of it. The first US draft was largely an attempt to continue the occupation without much change from the UN mandate which expired at the end of the year. Washington overplayed its hand. The Iraqi government was growing stronger as the Sunni Arabs ended their uprising against the occupation. The Iranians helped restrain the Mehdi Army, Muqtada.s powerful militia, so the government regained control of Basra, Iraq's second biggest city, and Sadr City, almost half Baghdad, from the Shia militias. The prime minister Nouri al-Maliki became more confident, realizing his military enemies were dispersing and, in any case, the Americans had no real alternative but to support him. The US has always been politically weak in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein because it has few real friends in the country aside from the Kurds. The leaders of the Iraqi Shia, 60 per cent of the total population, might ally themselves to Washington to gain power, but they never intended to share power with the US in the long term. The occupation has always been unpopular in Iraq. Foreign observers and some Iraqis are often misled by the hatred with which different Iraqi communities regard each other into underestimating the strength of Iraqi nationalism. Once Maliki came to believe that he could survive without US military support then he was able to spurn US proposals until an unconditional withdrawal was conceded. He could also see that Barack Obama, whose withdrawal timetable was not so different from his own, was going to be the next American president. Come the provincial and parliamentary elections of 2009, Maliki can present himself as the man who ended the occupation. Critics of the prime minister, notably the Kurds, think that success has gone to his head, but there is no doubt that the new security agreement has strengthened him politically. It may be that, living in the heart of the Green Zone, that Maliki has an exaggerated idea of what his government has achieved. In the Zone there is access to clean water and electricity while in the rest of Baghdad people have been getting only three or four hours electricity a day. Security in Iraq is certainly better than it was during the sectarian civil war between Sunni and Shia in 2006-7 but the improvement is wholly comparative. The monthly death toll has dropped from 3,000 a month at its worst to 360 Iraqi civilians and security personnel killed this November, though these figures may understate the casualty toll as not all the bodies are found. Iraq is still one of the most dangerous places in the world. On December 1, the day I started writing this article, two suicide bombers killed 33 people and wounded dozens more in Baghdad and Mosul. Iraqis in the street are cynical about the government's claim to have restored order. "We are used to the government always saying that things have become good and the security situation improved," says Salman Mohammed Jumah, a primary school teacher in Baghdad. "It is true security is a little better but the government leaders live behind concrete barriers and do not know what is happening on the ground. They only go out in their armoured convoys. We no longer have sectarian killings by ID cards [revealing that a person is Sunni or Shia by their name] but Sunni are still afraid to go to Shia areas and Shia to Sunni". Security has improved with police and military checkpoints everywhere but sectarian killers have also upgraded their tactics. There are less suicide bombings but there are many more small "sticky bombs" placed underneath vehicles. Everybody checks underneath their car before they get into it. I try to keep away from notorious choke points in Baghdad, such as Tahrir Square or the entrances to the Green Zone, where a bomber for can wait for a target to get stuck in traffic before making an attack. The checkpoints and the walls, the measures taken to reduce the violence, bring Baghdad close to paralysis even when there are no bombs. It can take two or three hours to travel a few miles. The bridges over the Tigris are often blocked and this has got worse recently because soldiers and police have a new toy in the shape of a box which looks like a transistor radio with a short aerial sticking out horizontally. When pointed at the car this device is supposed to detect vapor from explosives and may well do so, but since it also responds to vapor from alcohol or perfume it is worse than useless as a security aid. Iraqi state television and government backed newspapers make ceaseless claims that life in Iraq is improving by the day. To be convincing this should mean not just improving security but providing more electricity, clean water and jobs. "The economic situation is still very bad," says Salman Mohammed Jumah, the teacher. "Unemployment affects everybody and you can't get a job unless you pay a bribe. There is no electricity and nowadays we have cholera again so people have to buy expensive bottled water and only use the water that comes out of the tap for washing". Not everybody has the same grim vision but life in Iraq is still extraordinarily hard. The best barometer for how far Iraq is "better" is the willingness of the 4.7 million refugees, one in five Iraqis who have fled their homes and are now living inside or outside Iraq, to go home. By October only 150,000 had returned and some do so only to look at the situation and then go back to Damascus or Amman. One middle aged Sunni businessman who came back from Syria for two or three weeks, said: "I don't like to be here. In Syria I can go out in the evening to meet friends in a coffe bar. It is safe. Here I am forced to stay in my home after 7pm". The degree of optimism or pessimism felt by Iraqis depends very much on whether they have a job, whether or not that job is with the government, which community they belong to, their social class and the area they live in. All these factors are interlinked. Most jobs are with the state that reputedly employs some two million people. The private sector is very feeble. Despite talk of reconstruction there are almost no cranes visible on the Baghdad skyline. Since the Shia and Kurds control of the government, it is difficult for a Sunni to get a job and probably impossible unless he has a letter recommending him from a political party in the government. Optimism is greater among the Shia. "There is progress in our life", says Jafar Sadiq, a Shia businessman married to a Sunni in the Shia-dominated Iskan area of Baghdad. "People are cooperating with the security forces. I am glad the army is fighting the Mehdi Army though they still are not finished. Four Sunni have reopened their shops in my area. It is safe for my wife's Sunni relatives to come here. The only things we need badly are electricity, clean water and municipal services". But his wife Jana admitted privately that she had warned her Sunni relatives from coming to Iskan "because the security situation is unstable". She teaches at Mustansariyah University in central Baghdad which a year ago was controlled by the Mehdi Army and Sunni students had fled. "Now the Sunni students are coming back," she says, "though they are still afraid". They have reason to fear. Baghdad is divided into Shia and Sunni enclaves defended by high concrete blast walls often with a single entrance and exit. The sectarian slaughter is much less than it was but it is still dangerous for returning refugees to try to reclaim their old house in an area in which they are a minority. In one case in a Sunni district in west Baghdad, as I reported here some weeks ago, a Shia husband and wife with their two daughters went back to their house to find it gutted, with furniture gone and electric sockets and water pipes torn out. They decided to sleep on the roof. A Sunni gang reached them from a neighboring building, cut off the husband's head and threw it into the street. They said to his wife and daughters: "The same will happen to any other Shia who comes back". But even without these recent atrocities Baghdad would still be divided because the memory of the mass killings of 2006-7 is too fresh and there is still an underlying fear that it could happen again. Iraqis have a low opinion of their elected representatives, frequently denouncing them as an incompetent kleptocracy. The government administration is dysfunctional. "Despite the fact," said independent member of parliament Qassim Daoud, "that the Labor and Social Affairs is meant to help the millions of poor Iraqis I discovered that they had spent only 10 per cent of their budget". Not all of this is the government's fault. Iraqi society, administration and economy have been shattered by 28 years of war and sanctions. Few other countries have been put under such intense and prolonged pressure. First there was the eight year Iran- Iraq war starting in 1980, then the disastrous Gulf war of `1991, thirteen years of sanctions and then the five-and-a-half years of conflict since the US invasion. Ten years ago UN officials were already saying they could not repair the faltering power stations because they were so old that spare parts were no longer made for them. Iraq is full of signs of the gap between the rulers and the ruled. The few planes using Baghdad international airport are full foreign contractors and Iraqi government officials. Talking to people on the streets in Baghdad in October many of them brought up fear of cholera which had just started to spread from Hilla province south of Baghdad. Forty per cent of people in the capital do not have access to clean drinking water. The origin of the epidemic was the purchase of out of date chemicals for water purification from Iran by corrupt officials. Everybody talked about the cholera except in the Green Zone where people had scarcely heard of the epidemic. . The Iraqi government will become stronger as the Americans depart. It will also be forced to take full responsibility for the failings of the Iraqi state. This will be happening at a bad moment since the price of oil, the state's only source of revenue, has fallen to $50 a barrel when the budget assumed it would be $80. Many state salaries, such as those of teachers, were doubled on the strength of this, something the government may now regret. Communal differences are still largely unresolved. Friction between Sunni and Shia, bad though it is, is less than two years ago, though hostility between Arabs and Kurds is deepening. The departure of the US military frightens many Sunni on the grounds that they will be at the mercy of the majority Shia. But it is also an incentive for the three main communities in Iraq to agree about what their future relations should be when there are no Americans to stand between them. As for the US, its moment in Iraq is coming to an end as its troops depart, leaving a ruined country behind them. Patrick Cockburn is the author of 'The Occupation: War, resistance and daily life in Iraq', a finalist for the National Book Critics' Circle Award for best non-fiction book of 2006. His new book 'Muqtada! Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia revival and the struggle for Iraq' is published by Scribner. --------23 of 23-------- -------------------------- The US is an ObamaNation -------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - 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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