|Progressive Calendar 01.31.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2009 15:34:01 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 01.31.09 1. AWC anniv bash 1.31 7pm 2. Police brutality 1.31 9pm 3. Stillwater vigil 2.01 1pm 4. MN health/AM950 2.01 3pm 5. Bicking campaign 2.01 6pm 6. Ron Jacobs - Return of the Democrats - buyer beware 7. John Rockefeller - Final piece in our economic collapse 8. Benjamin Dangl - Bolivia: new constitution passed; celebrations 9. Rev Jos M Tirado - How Iceland fell: a hundred days of (muted) rage 10. Walter Smolarek - The NeoCon gauntlet traversed: a victory report 11. Missy Beattie - Indefensible empire: the US Garden of Evil 12. ed - Yokking Yokks! (poem) --------1 of 12-------- From: Jess Sundin <jess [at] antiwarcommittee.org> Subject: AWC anniv bash 1.31 7pm This week, the AWC is celebrating 10 years of solidarity and resistance. There's a huge party Saturday night; bring yourself, your friends and your loved ones. It will be a blowout: A chance to tell our old stories, eat great food (provided by Cooks for a Cause), and dance to a live performance by our favorite band, Junkyard Empire. Children are welcome in the childcare room, or to join in the all-age festivities. Aside from a cash bar, the party is on us! Saturday, January 31 Waite House Community Center 2529 13th Ave S, Mpls 7p: Peace, justice and appetizers 8p: Story time with the AWC (your participation welcome) 9p: Live performance by Junkyard Empire<http://www.junkyardempire.blogspot.com/> --------2 of 12-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Police brutality 1.31 9pm Magnanimous 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, 1/31, 9pm and Tues, 2/3, 8am Police Brutality: from the RNC to Everyday Life Guest Michelle Gross, President of the MN-based Communities United Against Police Brutality shares the word from the streets and neighborhoods of the Twin Cities. From cop behavior in St. Paul during the RNC and the increase in cop usage of new "less lethal" weapons to hate crimes being carried out by police relating to the election of President Barack Obama, Ms. Gross lays out reason for us to keep a closer eye on police behavior. Hosted by Karen Redleaf. --------3 of 12-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Stillwater vigil 2.01 1pm A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2 p.m. Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be positive. Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers. If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it. Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to <http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/ For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560 --------4 of 12-------- From: "Of the People" <info [at] jamesmayer.org> Subject: MN health/AM950 2.01 3pm MN Universal Health Care: Making it a Reality and Model for the U.S. Part II-A Doctor's perspective! Join in THE CONVERSATION. TUNE YOUR RADIO TO: Of the People this Sunday, February 1 at 3 p.m. on AM950 KTNF (formerly Air America Minnesota) with Host James Mayer. Or stream us: http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen Call-in line: 952-946-6205 Join us during the second program of our series of broadcasts about REAL Universal Health Care with James F Hart, M.D., Assistant Professor University of Minnesota School of Public Health as he and host James Mayer discuss the benefits of single payer universal health care and what we can do to make it a reality. --------5 of 12-------- From: Dave Bicking <dave [at] colorstudy.com> Subject: Bicking campaign 2.01 6pm Dave Bicking for City Council campaign meeting: Sunday, February 1, 6:00pm Dave's house: 3211 22nd Ave. S. (lower duplex), Minneapolis (Directions: Just over two blocks south of Lake St. on 22nd Ave. 22nd Avenue is just west of the Lake Street stop of the Hiawatha LRT. There is also good bus service along Lake St.) There will be a meeting this Sunday evening for all those who would like help plan and organize my campaign for Mpls City Council. We need to organize a campaign team, strategize, and start work on next steps. There are many ways to help with the campaign, and some of them do not necessarily involve coming to meetings. Please let me know if there are specific ways you would like to volunteer, even if you are not interested in or not available for meetings. If you would like to help set the direction of the campaign, volunteer to be on the campaign team, or just provide your ideas and suggestions, I would appreciate it if you can come to the meeting this Sunday. We will be talking about recruiting volunteers, especially, at this stage, those who can take responsibility for particular parts of the campaign. We will start work on a timeline and strategy for the campaign, discuss our message and publicity, plan the website, plan for position papers, think about graphics and logo, and think about the first literature piece. We also need to think about a next campaign event to follow up on our very successful campaign kick-off party. The campaign has gotten off to a great start, thanks to your help and enthusiasm. The party was wonderful; over 60 people filled the basement of Walker Church. I think we all had a good time, and we raised over $1000 as well! Other donations and offers of help continue to arrive. We need to build on this success, and I need your continuing help to stay on top of it all and plan for the next 9 months. Also, please mark your calendars now for a community forum of all the candidates for City Council in Wards 2, 9 (mine), and 12: Saturday, February 21, 10am - noon, at Matthews Park, 2318 29th Ave. S., Mpls. We need a major change in City government, so that it represents and serves ALL of us. Please come and be a part of that change! Dave Bicking 612-276-1213 -- you'll be Picking Bicking -ed --------6 of 12-------- Buyer Beware Return of the Democrats By RON JACOBS CounterPunch January 30 The Democrats are now running the show in DC. How much difference will this make if they truly exercise their power and don't fold to every threat from the right like they did under Clinton? If they stand up to filibuster attempts, will they pass universal health care that actually provides medical insurance for every person living in the United States? Will they end the warmongering so many people think is the domain of the Republican Party? Will the people that are truly being hurt in the economic recession be the ones they help instead of the banks? I pose these rhetorical questions because so many people expect the answer to be one that favors the average American and not the plutocracy so clearly favored during the eight years of Bush. While it is true that no one knows exactly how things will develop over the next few years of Democratic rule, author and activist Lance Selfa has done a fairly good job of looking at the role the Democrats have historically played in his book Democrats: A Critical History. By looking at the history covered by Selfa, it becomes clear that the Democrats represent different elements of the same class represented by the GOP. Consequently, the policies of the Democratic Party are designed to insure the continued rule of that class. This is true no matter how many progressives and leftists bring their principles with them when they work for candidates that appeal to them. Perhaps the most profound example of this is the 1972 campaign of George McGovern. McGovern was probably the most radical candidate to run for president on a major party ticket in the 20th Century. Among other items, he called for an immediate end to the war in Vietnam, a guaranteed annual income for all Americans, and reproductive choice for women. He won the series of primaries and was nominated as the Democratic candidate. Before he even gave his acceptance speech, the Democratic leadership was at work sabotaging his campaign. The rules committee played around with floor activities ensuring that his speech would be delivered at 2:00 in the morning. News organizations were provided with unfavorable information regarding his vice presidential nominee's health. Party conservatives like Henry "Scoop" Jackson (the first neocon) mounted a campaign within the party and in the press designed to prevent McGovern from winning. After the landslide victory of Richard Nixon in November 1972, the party leadership began implementing rules changes that would forever prevent someone like McGovern from gaining the nomination. As Selfa points out, it's not that McGovern was a radical; it's that the Democratic Party does not represent the people (who by 1972 wanted out of Vietnam no matter what), but the corporate class. Even in 1972, the bulk of big business were willing to let the war go on as long as they made money from it. This is a party that began as the party of the landed gentry in the United Stats' slave holding south. It held to its racist philosophy into the 1960s, although the process to remove that stain arguably began in 1948 when southern racists like Strom Thurmond left the party over disputes with the northern members over segregation, especially in the armed forces. Today, the general consensus is that that legacy is completely removed thanks to the nomination and election of Barack Obama. This is certainly the case at least superficially. Underneath the appearance of post-racialism, however, lies the very real fact of an economic and political system built on the backs of slaves. Indeed, if it weren't for the institution of slavery in the US and the bloody support of that institution by the Democratic Party, the ubercapitalist nation we live in today would look considerably different. While the Republican Party is the primary party of the capitalists (and were willing to fight a bloody war against the nation's south to move their wage slavery into that region), the Democrats have always been a close second. Nowhere is this more clear than in the realm of foreign policy. Selfa reminds the reader that the Democrats were co-authors of the Cold War and expanded the US involvement in Vietnam to murderous levels. The Democrats are arch defenders of the state of Israel, no matter how many Palestinians it kills and, as the folks who voted Democratic in 2006 hoping to end the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, those exercises would not be possible without the Democrats' support. It was Woodrow Wilson that pushed the US into World War One to help bail out the house of Morgan and it was the Democrats that saw the war against Nazism as a means to put Washington in a position of dominance after the bombs stopped dropping. Selfa's history is a concise and erudite look at the place of the Democratic Party in US history. The party's stances are examined from a viewpoint that understands that it's not the Republicans or the Democrats that are the problem, but the tag team the two parties comprise. While this team is in the ring, the people of the US and the world are at a disadvantage, no matter how personally pleasing one or the other of their candidates might be. If people want any kind of change, they must keep the Democrats on a very tight leash. The hope that the nation feels must not cloud its judgement or the need to mobilize to accomplish the goals they believe they voted for. Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs' essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch's collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625 [at] charter.net --------7 of 12-------- Final Piece in Our Economic Collapse by John Rockefeller Published on Saturday, January 31, 2009 by the Portland Press Herald (Maine) Letting the health care market segment wither by lack of public support will do no one any good. Having campaigned on a broadly sketched platform of hope for those on the fringes of economic and physical viability, President Obama is watching the ticker line expand to the point where half of the U.S. population considers itself either underemployed or underserved. An expanding percentage of this group - 43.6 million by the Centers for Disease Control's 2006 pre-recession count - are without health care. This number has certainly burgeoned well beyond the 50 million mark given the fresh round of layoffs, financial failures and re-budgeting by the recently unemployed. My concern, and the concern of many, surrounds the disappearance of Obama's commitment to health care provision for the uninsured and underserved members of our population. We are about to ignore our single functional economic engine - that of the health care sector - by prioritizing long-dead sectors of finance and auto manufacturing. FACING A FISCAL TROUGH If we fail to rescue health care and public health itself as we move forward, we will be entering a fiscal trough that may take decades to rebuild. Now would be the perfect time to pick the sector with most viability to fuel our recovery. Later will be far too late. As we pour countless, and lightly accounted for, billions into bailouts and tax cuts for those having sufficient income to avail themselves of such stimulus measures, we are leaving an ever larger proportion of our country behind, and in the most dire state of need. Health has been largely commoditized and subjected to profit-focused market efficiencies for the past quarter century, leaving more and more Americans behind in the eternal rush to the margin. As this process unfolded, and despite the loss of millions on the health care coverage rolls, there were ample dollars to ensure the profitability of health as a commodity. This will not be the case moving into the near and distant future. Health care is, like so much else, heading into its own meltdown, and it will make the financial collapse of 2008 look like a mere blip on the Bloomberg screen. With the U.S. economy claiming more and more members of the middle class for transition toward the poverty line, we are about to enter a period in our history defined by a statistical majority in the U.S. population having little or no access to health care - at a time when health care is acting as one of the few profit-making sectors in our economy. With a spiking unemployment rate in the health care sector and a dilapidated pharmaceutical industry that continues its merger mentality to control costs no longer borne by a viable financial sector, we are heading into an uncharted abyss of social disaster. TURN THE TIDE AROUND The only way to stem the tide on this decline - and its accompanying fiscal and public health consequences - is to fund health care as the fiscal engine it has recently become amidst the financial sector collapse. Had the health care sector been given half of the recent financial and auto manufacturing bailout funding, we would have been able to expand and extend health care coverage. We would thereby be capturing the remaining stability of this sector as an engine of economic and public health recovery. It surprises me that the economists and health care consultants working in the Obama administration have not taken this opportunity to the bank. They could have made a difference by diverting meaningless cash dumps from non-functional industries into the single most viable and necessary industry in the country. I am sad to say that the crash of the health care economy will be heard in a very different way than the crashes that recently preceded it. It will take our final breath economically, and literally with the disappearance of greatly diminished health care services to all economic classes in the United States. Copyright 2009 by The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram John Rockefeller of Camden is CEO of a management consulting firm, Zero Consult Ltd., based in Boston --------8 of 12-------- New Constitution Passed, Celebrations Hit the Streets Bolivia Looking Forward By BENJAMIN DANGL January 27, 2009 CounterPunch After Bolivia's new constitution was passed in a national referendum on Sunday, thousands gathered in La Paz to celebrate. Standing on the balcony of the presidential palace, President Evo Morales addressed a raucous crowd: "Here begins a new Bolivia. Here we begin to reach true equality." Polls conducted by Televisin Boliviana announced that the document passed with 61.97% support from some 3.8 million voters. According the poll, 36.52% of voters voted against the constitution, and 1.51% cast blank and null votes. The departments where the constitution passed included La Paz, Cochabamba, Oruro, Potos, Tarija, and Pando. It was rejected in Santa Cruz, Beni, and Chuquisaca. The constitution, which was written in a constituent assembly that first convened in August of 2006, grants unprecedented rights to Bolivia's indigenous majority, establishes broader access to basic services, education and healthcare and expands the role of the state in the management of natural resources and the economy. When the news spread throughout La Paz that the constitution had been passed in the referendum, fireworks, cheers and horns sounded off sporadically. By 8:30, thousands had already gathered in the Plaza Murillo. The crowd cheered "Evo! Evo! Evo!" until Morales, Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera and other leading figures in the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) government, crowded out onto the balcony of the presidential palace. "I would like to take this opportunity to recognize all of the brothers and sisters of Bolivia, all of the compaeros and compaeras, all of the citizens that through their vote, through their democratic participation, decide to refound Bolivia," Morales said. "From 2005 to 2009 we have gone from triumph to triumph, while the neoliberals, the traitors have been constantly broken down thanks to the consciousness of the Bolivian people." He shook his fist in the air, the applause died down. "And I want you to know something, the colonial state ends here. Internal colonialism and external colonialism ends here. Sisters and brothers, neoliberalism ends here too." At various points in the speech Morales, and others on the balcony, held up copies of the new constitution. Morales continued, "And now, thanks to the consciousness of the Bolivian people, the natural resources are recuperated for life, and no government, no new president can.give our natural resources away to transnational companies." A Weakened Right Though news reports and analysts have suggested that the passage of the new constitution will exacerbate divisions in the country, some of the political tension may be directed into the electoral realm as general elections are now scheduled to take place in December of this year. In addition, the constitution's passage is another sign of the weakness of the Bolivian right, and their lack of a clear political agenda and mandate to confront the MAS's popularity. The recent passage of the constitution is likely to divide and further debilitate the right. Even Manfred Reyes Villa, an opponent of Morales and ex-governor of Cochabamba, told Joshua Partlow of the Washington Post that, "Today, there is not a serious opposition in the country." When the right-wing led violence in the department of Pando in September of 2008 left some 20 people dead and many others wounded, the right lost much of its legitimacy and support. "With Pando, the regional opposition just collapsed," George Gray Molina, an ex-United Nations official in Bolivia, and a current research fellow at Oxford University, told Partlow. "I think they lost authority and legitimacy even among their own grass roots." Celebrations Fireworks shot off at the end of Morales' speech in the Plaza Murillo, sending pigeons flying scared. Live folk music played on stage as the crowd danced and the TV crews packed up and left. The wind blew around giant balloon figures of hands the color of the Bolivian flag holding the new constitution. As the night wore on, more people began dancing to the bands in the street than to those on the stage. At midnight, when the police asked the thousands gathered to leave the plaza, the crowd took off marching down the street, taking the fiesta to central La Paz, cheering nearly every Latin American revolutionary cheer, pounding drums and sharing beer. After marching down a number of blocks on the empty streets, the crowd hunkered down for a street party at the base of a statue of the Latin American liberator, Simn Bolvar. The celebration, which included Bolivians, Argentines, Brazilians, French, British, North Americans and more, went on into the early hours of the morning. Oscar Rocababo, a Bolivian sociologist working on his Master's degree in La Paz, was elated about the victory in the referendum. "The passage of this constitution is like the cherry on top of the ice cream, the culmination of many years of struggle." Benjamin Dangl is the author of "The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia," (AK Press). He is an editor at UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America, and TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events. Email bendangl(at)gmail.com --------9 of 12-------- How Iceland Fell A Hundred Days of (Muted) Rage By Rev. JOS M. TIRADO January 27, 2009 CounterPunch Activists of the world can take heart. Yesterday, Morgunbladid, the largest newspaper in Iceland announced the end of the coalition government responsible for the huge financial crisis which has rocked this North Atlantic island to its volcanic core. This event is relevant for a number of reasons, not least of which is the non-violent resistance which has now succeeded in forcing the downfall of a government whose leaders have been copying the American example in banking for years. Icelanders, beginning shortly after the government intervened and nationalized the three largest banks upon their collapse, signaled their displeasure with the government and week after week were demanding that the entire cabinet step down, en masse. Well, they now have and it is a victory for democracy lovers everywhere. Icelanders did it in their own peculiar way, though. While daily reports of violence in the Greek streets dominated foreign news coverage here, I sat in bemused fascination as the travails of one single rock was being debated with the intensity of a grainy JFK assassination video and the moral indignation of a soul-searching nation stunned at its new-found loss of conscience. What a contrast! It seems that in mid-December one police officer had allegedly been scratched by a rock tossed by an angry protestor. Home videos were scrutinized as to whom might have been the attacker and talk show hosts wondered aloud at the moral state of the nation, fearing the direction protests might be turning, and what that might mean for their people who are not known as a violent sort. While Iceland has had more than its share of a violent past (can anyone say, Vikings?) it seems that the insularity and isolation of the country (and the occasional intervention of its Scandinavian neighbors over the years) has tempered the Icelandic temperament. This has forced typical tension releasing into arenas such as skiing, regular gym workouts and, for the insistent, drunken revelry from Friday to Sunday. But even the latter rarely descends into more than early morning shouting matches as displays of violence are rarely countenanced. In fact, in a recent conversation with Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade, she asked this writer to consider if Iceland had in fact, made the remarkable transition from a dominator mode of social relationship to a partnership mode. I will leave that discussion for another time, but the results are stunning. In just over three months, Icelanders have stopped cooperating, withdrawing their support for a coalition government seen as more concerned with holding onto power than working in the people's legitimate interests. So the people took to the streets. Tentatively, of course, and with an Icelanders typical reserve, holding protests in front of the Parliament building on Saturdays, promptly and peacefully at 3pm. But the people came together. While Athens burned into a maelstrom of ungovernable chaos, Icelanders, in roughly the same time period, politely listened to long speeches and, as the weeks progressed, increased their venting with the occasional egg toss and curse word. (One newly coined expression of their frustrated rage was "Fokking fokk!" laughable perhaps at first listen, but as near a violent expression as I've heard hear in nearly 7 years). A couple of times small bonfires were lit and, as reported later, appeared to be evidence of violence against the Parliament. No such violence occurred, though. And as the recent tensions came to a head and the frustration boiled over even more, many protestors took to wearing orange ribbons signifying their "legitimate" protestor status, as opposed to the occasional drunken lout eager to fight or create mayhem at will, something most Icelanders, pro or against the government loathe. Still the protests continued onward and Icelanders, oblivious to the cold and rain soldiered on bravely until, last week, on January 20, as the Parliament resumed meeting, the protests culminated in between 7-8000 people gathering (the US equivalent of 7-8 million). (This was the second time such a large gathering had happened in the course of this crisis.) Apparently, the die was cast: within a few days, the Business Minister resigned and the political blogging hit a fevered pitch, letting the politicians know their time was up. It has now precipitated the collapse of the government and the frenzied assembling of a caretaker government to lead until elections are held in May. Where this will go in the next few months is uncertain, (the Left-Green Alliance is certainly to be a major player in the new government) but the Icelandic example provides powerful instruction that, when a people reject violence and take up a struggle together, they can still actually win. Rev. Jos M. Tirado is a poet, priest and writer finishing a PhD in psychology while living in Iceland. [Fokking Fokk! - what a phrase for our demo banners! -ed] --------10 of 12-------- The Gauntlet Traversed: A Victory Report by Walter Smolarek January 29th, 2009 Dissicent Voice Back in October, I wrote an article titled "Half Way Through the Gauntlet: A Status Report". It dealt with the latest campaign against the Bolivarian movement in Latin America which utilized secessionist groups that participated in the 2006 meeting of the International Confederation for Regional Freedom and Autonomy (CONFILAR). It also analyzed the battles to be fought and the battles won: The August 10th recall referendum in Bolivia, the September 28th constitutional referendum in Ecuador, the November 23rd regional elections in Venezuela, and the constitutional referendum in Bolivia. With the success of the new Bolivian constitution on January 25th, I can happily write the follow-up article; not a status report, but a celebration of the people;s victory against the most recent imperialist scheme. Ecuador First, to deal with the nation that had first vanquished the secessionists, Ecuador - Alianza PAIS (Proud and Sovereign Fatherland Alliance), the ruling party of President Rafael Correa, had lead a movement against neo-liberalism and for a new, progressive constitution. After his initial election and two subsequent electoral victories, the stage was set for the final referendum in late September 2008 to approve or reject the product of several years of struggle. It would open up new avenues for reversing the ravages of neo-liberalism and further popular participation in the administration of state power; a critical step for the most cautious nation in the Bolivarian camp. In opposition, including the ever present puritanical voice of the Catholic Church, were the secessionists in the important province of Guayas, led by the mayor of Guayaquil (host city of the 2006 CONFILAR gathering), Jaime Nebot. Thanks to a vibrant array of social movements, the right-wing opposition was defeated overwhelmingly, with 64% of the voters favoring the new constitution nationally and 51% in Guayas. Since this victory, the secessionists have been largely silent. With less initial support than their Venezuelan and Bolivian counterparts, it seems that the elites have apparently decided to pursue different tactics to derail the changes sweeping Ecuador, which may very well include co-opting Correa's "Citizen's Revolution". New contradictions have risen during the rule of the transitional regime that holds caretaker power until the April elections, which has brought the government into conflict with one of the most important social movements in the nation, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE). The dispute centers over the rights to mine Ecuador's vast natural resources. The government has signed a deal with a multinational corporation based in Canada which APAIS argues that it will help the economy and increase government control, but others are uneasy about the multinational's presence, with CONAIE in large part against any mining at all. Several large, militant demonstrations and blockades were held, which were met by police repression.1 This friction, in addition to disputes over the minimum wage, is making it very apparent that Correa will soon be made to choose between yielding to the national bourgeois elements of the revolution or utilize the new constitution to advance in an explicitly socialist direction. Venezuela In Venezuela, the revolution led by Hugo Chavez is leading the charge towards the Bolivarian Socialist ideal: a united Latin America whose future is not contingent on Washington, Wall Street, or their lackeys, but the will of the people, with whom power exclusively resides. As the trajectory of Chavez and PSUV (the United Socialist Party of Venezuela) grew ever more radical in the face of the international crisis facing capitalism, contradictions reached new heights in the run-up to the November 2008 regional elections, especially in the state of Zulia, rich in oil and under the control of CONFILAR-affiliated governor Manual Rosales (recently replaced by his hand-picked successor Pablo Perez Alvarez) Violence perpetrated on behalf of the capitalist class was the defining facet of the opposition's strategy to build momentum after the Bolivarian forces were defeated in late 2007. Groups of quasi-political, petty-bourgeois thugs like the M13 (March 13th Movement) incited violence as they had been doing so for quite some time, but the anti-democratic forces went much further. Involving owners of some of the biggest news outlets in Venezuela and several rightist officers, a coup was planned and was apparently very close to being executed when it was uncovered on September 11th of last year. Having closed this especially viscous avenue, the election proceeded relatively normally (as normal as an election could considering the sheer quantity of US meddling), and on November 23rd, there were no major disturbances. The interpretation of the results varies widely. First, let's get the facts straight.2 The last time Venezuela had municipal elections pro-Chavez forces won 21 of 23 governorships. However, as the socialist orientation of the Bolivarian revolution became more apparent, several parties showed their true, counter-revolutionary colors and joined the opposition. When the elections were held, PSUV and its allies controlled 16 of the governorships; after the election, they controlled 17. Roughly 60% of votes went for pro-Chavez candidates, which is the level of support the Bolivarians have consistently received throughout the course of the revolution. 4 of 5 mayoral elections went in favor of the PSUV-led Patriotic Alliance. There are some unnerving aspects of the results. The five elections that PSUV lost were in some of the most heavily populated states, and therefore only 57% of Venezuelans have socialist governors. This is especially troubling as it suggests that the urban proletariat's support for the revolution is dwindling, for the most part due to the government's inability to deal with high crime rates. As for Zulia, PSUV was defeated and Rosales and his allies retained power. However, with the defeat of secessionism in Bolivia and Ecuador, there has been almost no secessionist rhetoric, perhaps due to the overall socialist victory in the elections. The Bolivarian forces experienced a critical success in the municipal elections. On the other hand, it showed the worrying possibility of stagnation in revolutionary fervor; the only remedy for which is a deepening of people's power. Essential to this ongoing struggle is the leadership of Hugo Chavez, whose absence would create a possibly fatal power vacuum that could be filled by the "Endogenous Right" (the small but dangerous national bourgeois tendency within PSUV). The victory of November 23rd can only be solidified with a victory on February 15th, the date of the referendum to abolish term limits. Bolivia In Bolivia, the greatest battle between the Bolivarians (Evo Morales' Movement for Socialism, MAS) and the secessionists took place. The magnitude of this confrontation was greatly exacerbated by the complex ethnic makeup of the nation, with the largely white Media Luna (Crescent Moon) region, filled with natural resources, in antagonism with the densely populated indigenous Andean areas. The first bold political moves by the mostly white oligarchy took place on May 4th, when a referendum on autonomy was held in Santa Cruz province, tainted with violence carried out by the Santa Cruz Youth Union,3 a group of fascist-inspired thugs. Seeking to strike back and assert the popularity of the leftist central government, a referendum was called on August 10th which would confirm or recall the head of state and the prefects of all nine departments in Bolivia. This turned out to be a stunning success for MAS, with two-thirds of voters preferring to retain Morales as President and recalling two secessionist prefects. This set the stage for the civil coup. Defeated overwhelmingly in an internationally-observed, democratic referendum, the secessionist capitalists tried to violently overrule the people. Shutting down daily life, attacking important infrastructure, and massacring those in their way, a "Civil Coup", as it came to be known, occurred in early September of last year. The people, well organized by the nation's robust social movements, were quick to strike back. Backed up by UNASUR and eventually the Bolivian Army, massive protests threatened to lay siege to the Media Luna. Giving up some ground in negotiations (mostly having to do with term limits), the crisis ended and the referendum was scheduled for January 25th. The campaign for the referendum was not especially dramatic widely expected to go in MAS' favor. Most polls showed support at around 65% percent, and the only real opposition came from the private media, which launched a disinformation campaign in the tradition of their notoriously deceptive Venezuelan counterparts.4 In the end, over 61% voted in favor of the constitution.5 While this was a great victory for the oppressed people of Bolivia, the results,6 when looked at through a regional and demographical lens, also revealed some troubling blind spots. The Media Luna largely rejected the constitution. For example, in Santa Cruz, whose governor is the de facto leader of the secessionists, "No" won 65-35. It also became clear that MAS has been so far unable to overcome the contradiction between town and country and unite workers in both the countryside and the cities. In rural areas, the constitution was approved by over 80% of the population. This is important as it will provide a serious hindrance to secession, with the rural provinces eating away at the otherwise large portion of Bolivia within the Media Luna. However, only 52% of the urban population voted "Yes", highlighting the need for MAS to truly become a multi-ethnic vanguard and reach out to the industrial proletariat that may not be of indigenous heritage. If it does not, then the mantle of secessionism could be taken up once again by the oligarchy. Hasta la Victoria Siempre The CONFILAR secessionists have, for the most part, been neutralized. This is by no means the end of the revolutionary road Latin America (and especially these three nations) has been traveling on; rather, this victory has simply opened up new avenues. All three nations must take this opportunity to radicalize: Venezuela needs to break with capitalism on a fundamental level, Morales must proudly proclaim his socialist beliefs, and Correa must break out of the constrictive mold of social democracy. The bold rebellions against neo-liberalism have yet again been successfully defended, and the people must ceaselessly fight for the complete annihilation of capitalism and its resulting social ills, the only way to guarantee sovereignty and democracy. 1 http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1659/1/ [.] 2 http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/3990 [.] 3http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1270/31/ [.] 4 Tinyurl [.] 5 www.cne.org.bo/ResultadosRNC2009/ [.] 6 Tinyurl [.] Walter Smolarek is a student and supportive of the progressive presidential campaign of Gloria LaRiva and Eugene Puryear. He encourages you to learn more about it at www.votepsl.org. --------11 of 12-------- Indefensible Incursions of Empire The US Garden of Evil By MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE CounterPunch January 30 In a recent Arab-language television interview, Barack Obama said: Ultimately, we cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what's best for them. They're going to have to make some decisions. But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people. And that instead, it's time to return to the negotiating table. But we have been telling the Israelis and the Palestinians what is best for them for years now. It's what we do. Our approval of Israel's rampages against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have stymied peace and given Israel support to shunt Palestinians into ghettos where they are deprived of food, water, electricity, and access to health services - in other words, Palestinians are treated as inhuman with the US stamp of "Amen. It's little wonder that Palestinian resistance fighters launch an occasional rocket into Israel. And, now, exacerbating another complex and un-winnable quagmire, Obama will send more of our troops into Afghanistan, having learned nothing from the Soviet example. A New York Times headline put it this way: "Aides Say Obama's Afghan Aims Elevate War". Elevate means to exalt or raise to a higher spiritual level. Certainly, the words "war" and "elevate" are incongruous. When intelligence, often faulty, locates al Qaeda in an Afghan house or village, our military levels the particular site, frequently killing more civilians, including children, than enemy fighters. This isn't just sowing seeds of hatred; it's fertilizing and tending the garden of evil. We have lost the support of the people of Afghanistan just as we have lost the support of the Iraqis. War does not elevate. It devalues human life - our own and the people whose lives are forever scarred by our aerial assaults and weapons of mass destruction, if they survive the devastation. Surely, our leadership should know this. But, instead of committing to peace, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are escalating war. Remember, it was Joe who said you don't have to be Jewish to be a Zionist, words that transport more than a whiff of white phosphorous, words that threaten the very existence of Palestinians, words translating that Obama's power ascendancy will mean squalor and a system of apartheid to the people driven from their land by the Israeli government, a government gifted so generously with our tax dollars. Before Joe Biden took his oath as VP, he traveled to Afghanistan to scold Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for being unhelpful to US goals. The puppet Karzai walks a tightrope, trying to balance his act: "Make my people happy or make America happy" is the dilemma that has to be streaming constantly through his mind. Sort of like the lesson Jill Biden must be pounding into Joe's head each morning as he leaves Number 1 Observatory Circle: "Remember, you are the vice president, not the president". And as Obama asserts himself as the new toughie who can direct the rise and fall of countries, he would do well to remember his message on Arab television: Palestinians and Israelis should "realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people". Neither is the path we are on - a surge of troops to Afghanistan, missile strikes in Pakistan, all-options-are-open threats to Iran, and excuses and support for Israel's war crimes against the people of Palestine. And on Iraq, there's Obama"s Catch 22: "Do I listen to the generals or to the people who elected me?" The new president seems to dislike the rallying cry, "war on terror". But his choice of neocon advisers and menacing rhetoric indicate we may soon have a new slogan, the "occupation on terror", for our continued shameful and indefensible incursions for empire. Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,'05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat [at] aol.com --------12 of 12-------- Fokking Fokk! say prim Iceland mokk-rakers. No more rule that sokking sokks! [See article #9 for explanation] ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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