Progressive Calendar 10.15.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 15 Oct 2009 06:28:05 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   10.15.09

1. Eagan peace vigil    10.15 4:30pm
2. Northtown vigil      10.15 5pm
3. Green tomato cookoff 10.15 6pm
4. Solar energy systems 10.15 6:30pm
5. Ward 10 CC forum     10.15 6:30pm
6. Ward 11/12 CC forum  10.15 6:30pm
7. Women's rights/film  10.15 7pm
8. Iran                 10.15 7pm
9. Ward 4 CC forum      10.15 7pm
10. Amnesty Intl        10.15 7:15pm

11. GLBT conf/lunch     10.16 8am
12. Bioneers/KFAI       10.16 11am
13. Congo war/asylum    10.16 12noon
14. Palestine vigil     10.16 4:15pm
15. Teamsters           10.16 6:30pm

16. Chris Hedges   - Celebrating slaughter: war and collective amnesia
17. Mel Packer     - Democracy denied: the crackdown on Pittsburgh
18. Shamus Cooke   - What Obama isn't telling American workers
19. David Macaray  - Why the government fears unions
20. Dave Lindorff  - Dem party selling out, but still getting screwed
21. Brendan Cooney - Ask Awal Khan about Obama's prize
22. ed             - 17 letters for you  (haiku)

--------1 of 22--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 10.15 4:30pm

PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of
Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and
candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south
of the river speaking out against war.

--------2 of 22--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 10.15 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------3 of 22--------

From: EXCO <excotc [at]>
Subject: Green tomato cook 10.15 6pm

Green Tomato Cook-off
October 15, 6-8pm
St. Paul's Lutheran Church
2742 15th Ave South, Minneapolis

Free Event with Gardening Matters and EXCO! Bring a dish for the contest
or just show up and eat - ALL ARE WELCOME.

--------4 of 22--------

From: Lynne mayo <llen [at]>
From: "Raging Grannie (Wanda B)" <wsb70 [at]>
Subject: Solar energy sys 10.15 6:30pm

The Wilder Foundation, 451 Lexington Parkway North, Saint Paul; 6:30-9 PM
October meeting, October 15th, Ralph Jacobson of Innovative Power Systems
will review the present state of solar energy systems. Ralph will review
the present state of solar energy systems. Bring a paper and pencil and he
will run through some calculations on how a solar array can help reduce
your reliance on fossil fuel-based electricity.
(<> ).

Note: New Meeting Room: The Merriam Park Room, #2410. Sign in and proceed
upstairs to the Merriam Park Room, Room 2410, at the top of the stairs,
through the hallway door and down the hall on your right. (You will pass
the Frogtown Room, #2510, where we have been meeting.)

Thank you for not wearing perfume or cologne when attending our meetings.

--------5 of 22--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Ward 10 CC forum 10.15 6:30pm

October 15: League of Women Voters Minneapolis Candidate Forum. Ward 10
City Council candidates. 6:30 - 8 PM at Walker Library.

--------6 of 22--------

From: Nik <kreuzauge [at]>
Subject: Ward 11/12 CC forum 6:30pm

The Thursday, October 15 forum
City Council Wards 11 and 12.
Keewaydin Community Center, 3030 East 53rd Street, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

This will be an opportunity to ask your questions on the city and local
issues, such as how the candidates would handle the growing budget
constraints and the impact on property taxes.

We will have materials on ranked choice voting available at both forums,
and time permitting, a short demonstration at the October 15th meeting.

--------7 of 22--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Women's rights/f 10.15 7pm

October 15: Women's Human Rights Program at The Advocates for Human Rights
Women's Human Rights Film Series: "A Walk to Beautiful", award-winning
documentary telling the stories of 5 Ethiopian women who suffer from
devastating childbirth injuries and embark on a journey to reclaim their
lost dignity. 7 PM at St. Anthony Park Branch Library, 2245 Como Ave., St.
Paul. Free and open to the public.

--------8 of 22--------

From: Joe Schwartzberg <schwa004 [at]>
Subject: Iran 10.15 7pm

Free and open to the public.
Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis
(at Lyndale & Hennepin). Park in church lot.
Thursday, October 15, 7-9pm.


Although the United States has changed course on Middle East relations
with the election of President Obama, many of the political forces active
in the Bush era are still forcing the present administration to proceed
cautiously, especially with regard to Iran. Nevertheless, we can be
cautiously optimistic about long-term improvements in U.S.-Iranian
relations. We will discuss the problems President Obama and Secretary of
State Clinton still face in their difficult diplomatic task and review
their successes thus far. Iran is bound for change no matter what the
Obama administration does or does not do. The demographics of youth and
rising role of women virtually guarantee this.

Presenter: PROFESSOR WILLIAM O. BEEMAN. Professor Beeman chairs the
Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota and is President of
the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association. He
was formerly the Director of Middle East Studies at Brown University. For
more than 30 years, he has also worked in the Middle East, Central Asia,
the Caucasus, Japan, China and South Asia and has special expertise in
Iranian culture. Among the 14 books that he has authored or edited are
Language, Status and Power in Iran, and The "Great Satan" vs. the "Mad
Mullahs": How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other. He has
served as consultant to the US State Department, the Department of
Defense, Congress and the United Nations. He is a frequent commentator on
international radio and TV and his written opinion pieces have appeared in
major newspapers throughout the world.

[He appears way too optimistic for me. Consultant to State & Defense? That
can't be good. A feel-good evening. -ed

--------9 of 22--------

From: Marcus Harcus City Council Committee <marcus [at]>
Subject: Ward 4 CC forum 10.15 7pm

Please show up to support me at the next and last 4th Ward City Council
candidate debate: Thursday October 15th, 2009 7:00pm-8:30pm (get there
early to find a good seat) at Loring elementary located at
2600 44th Avenue North Minneapolis, MN 55412.

I will be challenging my opponents and the community to an additional
debate to be held at the end of the month, at Henry. I'm requesting that
YOU contribute to a compelling base of audience support when I ask the
crowd if they want it.

I've got a severely injured big toe... and 10,000 campaign flyers to
distribute in 20 days. Please join me in the field! I need some soldiers.
It's actually fun! Especially if you want to unseat BJ and shock the City
of Minneapolis... Volunteer if you can. This is a call for help!

Donate if you can:

Note: You can contribute even if you don't live in the 4th Ward, or over
North, or in Minnesota, or in the United States of America.

--------10 of 22--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 10.15 7:15pm

AIUSA Group 315 (Wayzata area) meets Thursday, October 15th, at 7:15 p.m.
St. Luke Presbyterian Church, 3121 Groveland School Road, Wayzata (near
the intersection of Rt. 101 and Minnetonka Blvd). For further information,
contact Richard Bopp at Richard_C_Bopp [at]

--------11 of 22--------

From: farheen [at]
Subject: GLBT conf/lunch 10.16 8am

Join the GLBT & Allied Community for National Coming Out Day
OutFront Minnesota Special Announcement

OutFront Minnesota is proud to be a Community Partner of Quorum, the Twin
Cities GLBT and Allied Chamber of Commerce, as they present Minnesota's
16th annual National Coming Out Day Luncheon and the first Quorum Business
Equality Conference.

We hope you will join us on October 16th, as our Community celebrates the
strength, courage and wisdom of GLBT and Allied people who live openly and
authentically.  Inspiring speakers, including Robert and Carol Curoe,
authors of groundbreaking memoir, Are There Closets in Heaven?, Deb LeMay,
Executive Director of PFLAG Saint Paul/Minneapolis, and Shelly
Boyum-Breen, Founder and President of Foundation IX, will challenge and
inspire you with their powerful stories.  GLBT and allied businesses and
community organizations will share information about their valuable work
in the exhibitor area.

The day also features the Quorum Business Equality Conference, a day-long
intensive learning experience designed to support GLBT employee groups and
their companies' work towards their common goal of fully inclusive,
healthy and productive workplaces.

Minnesota National Coming Out Day Luncheon & Quorum Business Equality
Conference October 16th, 2006 - 11:30am-2:00pm (Luncheon); 8:00am-5:00pm
(Conference) Minneapolis Convention Center - 1301 2nd Ave S Minneapolis,

To make your reservations or find more details, visit or contact the Quorum office at (651)

We look forward to seeing you there -
310 E 38th Street, #204
Minneapolis, MN 55409-1337 US

--------12 of 22--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
Subject: Bioneers/KFAI 10.16 11am

Fri.Oct.16 and 23,11am, NORTHLAND BIONEERS CONF. on KFAI Radio

Tune in to "Catalyst:politics & culture", hosted by Lydia Howell, to hear
about the 2009 NORTHLAND BIONEERS CONFERENCE, Oct, 24-25 @ Wiley Hall at U
of M, Minneapolis.

Keynote speaker SUSAN HUBBARD, CEO of EUREKA Recycling talks about
exciting new developments in clean sues for recycled materials and a new
way to look at how our lives can be "secure, comfortable AND sustainable".
Co-producers of the conference EMILY BARKER and ORAM MILLER give an
overview of the wide range of issues this year's conference explores:
green jobs and businesses, permaculture, environmental racism and world
population. For complete info about the conference go to:
KFAI Radio:90.3fm Mpls 106.7fm St.Paul
All shows live-steaming/archived for 2 weeks after broadcast at:

--------13 of 22--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Congo war/asylum 10.16 12noon

October 16:  Women's Human Rights Program at the The Advocates for Human
Rights and others Brown Bag Lecture on Violence Against Women and War in
the Congo and Asylum in the U.S. Noon - 1:15 PM at Dorsey & Whitney, LLP,
Suite 1500, 50 South 6th Street, Minneapolis. Free and open to the public,
but you must RSVP to 612-341-3302, x 114.

--------14 of 22--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Palestine vigil 10.16 4:15pm

the weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the
intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul.  the Friday demo
starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30.  there are usually extra signs

--------15 of 22--------

From: David Kremer <dckremer [at] GMAIL.COM>
Subject: Teamsters 10.16 6:30pm

Friday, October 16, 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Broadway Pizza, 2025 N. West River
Road, Mpls.  Fundraiser for the education and legal defense arm of
Teamsters for a Democratic Union, the reform movement within the
International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Join labor journalist, Steve Early - author of "Embedded with Organized
Labor"; meet working Teamsters and get an update on TDU; and support the
cause for progressive change in North America's most powerful union. David
Kremer 612-529-4136

--------16 of 22--------

Celebrating Slaughter: War and Collective Amnesia
by Chris Hedges
Published on Monday, October 5, 2009 by
Common Dreams

War memorials and museums are temples to the god of war. The hushed
voices, the well-tended grass, the flapping of the flags allow us to
ignore how and why our young died. They hide the futility and waste of
war. They sanitize the savage instruments of death that turn young
soldiers and Marines into killers, and small villages in Vietnam or
Afghanistan or Iraq into hellish bonfires. There are no images in these
memorials of men or women with their guts hanging out of their bellies,
screaming pathetically for their mothers. We do not see mangled corpses
being shoved in body bags. There are no sights of children burned beyond
recognition or moaning in horrible pain. There are no blind and deformed
wrecks of human beings limping through life. War, by the time it is
collectively remembered, is glorified and heavily censored.

I blame our war memorials and museums, our popular war films and books,
for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as much as George W. Bush. They
provide the mental images and historical references to justify new
conflicts. We equate Saddam Hussein with Adolf Hitler. We see al-Qaida as
a representation of Nazi evil. We view ourselves as eternal liberators.
These plastic representations of war reconfigure the past in light of the
present. War memorials and romantic depictions of war are the social and
moral props used to create the psychological conditions to wage new wars.

War memorials are quiet, still, reverential and tasteful. And, like
church, such sanctuaries are important, but they allow us to forget that
these men and women were used and often betrayed by those who led the
nation into war. The memorials do not tell us that some always grow rich
from large-scale human suffering. They do not explain that politicians
play the great games of world power and stoke fear for their own
advancement. They forget that young men and women in uniform are pawns in
the hands of cynics, something Pat Tillman's family sadly discovered.
They do not expose the ignorance, raw ambition and greed that are the
engine of war.

There is a burning need, one seen in the collective memory that has grown
up around World War II and the Holocaust, to turn the horror of mass
murder into a tribute to the triumph of the human spirit. The reality is
too unpalatable. The human need to make sense of slaughter, to give it a
grandeur it does not possess, permits the guilty to go free. The war
makers - those who make the war but never pay the price of war - live
among us. They pen thick memoirs that give sage advice. They are our elder
statesmen, our war criminals. Henry Kissinger. Robert McNamara. Dick
Cheney. George W. Bush. Any honest war memorial would have these statesmen
hanging in effigy. Any honest democracy would place them behind bars.

Primo Levi, who survived Auschwitz, fought against the mendacity of
collective memory until he took his own life. He railed against the human
need to mask the truth of the Holocaust and war by giving it a false,
moral narrative. He wrote that the contemporary history of the Third Reich
could be "reread as a war against memory, an Orwellian falsification of
memory, falsification of reality, negation of reality". He wondered if "we
who have returned" have "been able to understand and make others
understand our experience". He wrote of the Jewish collaborator Chaim
Rumkowski, who ran the Lodz ghetto on behalf of the Nazis, that "we are
all mirrored in Rumkowski, his ambiguity is ours, it is our second nature,
we hybrids molded from clay and spirit. His fever is ours, the fever of
Western civilization that 'descends into hell with trumpets and drums'"
We, like Rumkowski, "come to terms with power, forgetting that we are all
in the ghetto, that the ghetto is walled in, that outside the ghetto reign
the lords of death, and that close by the train is waiting". We are, Levi
understood, perpetually imprisoned within the madness of self-destruction.
The rage of Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son Casey in Iraq, is a rage Levi
felt. But it is a rage most of us do not understand.

A war memorial that attempted to depict the reality of war would be too
subversive. It would condemn us and our capacity for evil. It would show
that the line between the victim and the victimizer is razor-thin, that
human beings, when the restraints are cut, are intoxicated by mass
killing, and that war, rather than being noble, heroic and glorious,
obliterates all that is tender, decent and kind. It would tell us that the
celebration of national greatness is the celebration of our technological
capacity to kill. It would warn us that war is always morally depraved,
that even in "good" wars such as World War II all can become war
criminals. We dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Nazis
ran the death camps. But this narrative of war is unsettling. It does not
create a collective memory that serves the interests of those who wage war
and permit us to wallow in self-exaltation.

There are times - World War II and the Serb assault on Bosnia would be
examples - when a population is pushed into a war. There are times when a
nation must ingest the poison of violence to survive. But this violence
always deforms and maims those who use it. My uncle, who drank himself to
death in a trailer in Maine, fought for four years in the South Pacific
during World War II. He and the soldiers in his unit never bothered taking
Japanese prisoners.

The detritus of war, the old cannons and artillery pieces rolled out to
stand near memorials, were curious and alluring objects in my childhood.
But these displays angered my father, a Presbyterian minister who was in
North Africa as an Army sergeant during World War II. The lifeless, clean
and neat displays of weapons and puppets in uniforms were being used, he
said, to purge the reality of war. These memorials sanctified violence.
They turned the instruments of violence - the tanks, machine guns, rifles
and airplanes - into an aesthetic of death.

These memorials, while they pay homage to those who made "the ultimate
sacrifice," dignify slaughter. They perpetuate the old lie of honor and
glory. They set the ground for the next inferno. The myth of war
manufactures a collective memory that ennobles the next war. The intimate,
personal experience of violence turns those who return from war into
internal exiles. They cannot compete against the power of the myth. This
collective memory saturates the culture, but it is "a tale told by an
idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing".

Copyright  2009 Truthdig, L.L.C.
Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Hedges graduated
from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign
correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books,
including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should
Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on
America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy
and the Triumph of Spectacle.

--------17 of 22--------

Democracy Denied, While Criminality Applauded
The Crackdown on Pittsburgh
October 9-11, 2009

During the days of the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, PA, our citizenry
witnessed an astounding spectacle and display of military might in the
city we love and call home. To the dismay of many, our pedestrian
friendly, getting-to-be-attractive downtown was turned into a military
base resembling that more likely to be seen in third-world nations run by
murderous dictators.

Oakland, one of the more attractive neighborhoods for visitors, students,
and residents, became a running battlefield dominated by armored police
forces carrying offensive weapons that turned our streets into a cheap
mitation of Baghdad.

This is speculation, but my hunch is that many of those "robo-cops" had a
pent-up urge to use their fancy weaponry and, finding little excuse to do
so on the largely peaceful marches of the 24th and 25th, found a simpler
target on any living being who happened to be hanging around the
University of Pittsburgh/Oakland area Thursday and especially Friday
night, the 25th. It should be especially disturbing to all of us that this
included accredited journalists prominently wearing press passes who, like
others, were arrested and had cameras smashed so as to destroy evidence of
wrong-doing by police.

We have to ask who bears responsibility for this gross over-reaction that
put almost 200 people in jail, most in violation of their constitutional
right to assemble, and who should bear the blame. It's easy to blame the
individual armored police in the streets, and they do, in fact, deserve

But the larger blame and responsibility lies with our City Council and
Mayor, the County Commissioner (now declaring for Governor), University of
Pittsburgh administration, and the Obama administration, which insisted
that the Secret Service had the right to run our city during G-20. It is
not just constitutional rights that were violated. There were crimes
committed, assaults made, citizens beaten, neighborhoods and university
buildings gassed with complete abandon and recklessness.

People were seized unjustly, beaten, faces slammed into concrete walls and
sidewalks while waiting for buses. Many of those arrested were held
overnight on buses and females being detained had to listen to sexually
derogatory comments from police along with the obvious sexual threat given
in the comment "maybe we should take the hot ones off the bus". Scary? You
betcha. And this comes from those who are allegedly there to protect our
democratic rights.

Sorry, it doesn't compute. Democratic rights were trampled, constitutional
rights were ignored, and there were far more criminal acts committed by
police than by protestors.

But here all we have heard from Pittsburgh City Police Chief Nate Harper
is that the police did a fine job. These sentiments have been repeatedly
echoed by Mayor Ravenstahl, Allegheny County Commissioner Onorato, and
Univ of Pittsburgh Chancellor Nordenberg.

One kept hoping that as the melee/police riot developed, someone in one of
those administrations would have had the moral courage to shout "STOP!" or
to at least take to the media the next day with a denouncement of the
debacle. But no, ALL of our elected officials chose not only to sit on
their hands but to issue public statements applauding the police for their
"professional behavior", just as most did during the battle for permits to
stage the protests, assuming the position of blind mice. This is moral
cowardice at best, criminal complicity at worst, and deserves punishment.

Outrages committed by the "peacekeepers" in uniform have now been
denounced by many citizens, organizations, newspapers, columnists, and the
union representing print journalists. But denouncement is not enough.
Recently, in London, criminal charges were filed against a police officer
due to acts committed against G20 protesters there. The same should be
done here.

There is no doubt in most minds that there will be massive lawsuits filed
both individually and by organizations such as the American Civil
Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights in an attempt to
rescue our city and nation from this horrible display of naked aggression
and military power against unarmed people. I am also certain that the
Pittsburgh Citizens Police Review Board will, after investigation, issue a
scathing report about police mis-conduct.

But much more must be done if we are to put the lid on this behavior and
to rescue our city from losing its welcoming reputation and gaining one
that says "go away". First, NONE of the officials involved who displayed
such moral cowardice deserve our support and should be, frankly, hounded
out of office and replaced by citizens that have some respect for
citizens' rights. [The same holds for Mpls StPaul re the RNC police state.
Mpls election in one month. -ed] Second, the possibility of filing
criminal charges and/or civil lawsuits for damages against all who allowed
the commission of these crimes, from individual officers to those in
elected and appointed office should be explored.

If it is a crime to break windows, it is no less a crime to break heads.
And those responsible need to be brought to justice in criminal and/or
civil courts. [It is a crime to break anything owned by rich people. It is
a service to the country to break anything owned by anyone else, ie the
bottom 99% of us. Especially our spirit and will. It's all and only class
war. -ed]

Anything less means further subversion of democracy and a further slide
into the erosion of democratic rights for all of us. [The rich sneer at
democracy; it limits their predatory instincts to plunder smash and grab.

Mel Packer is a Physician Assistant in Emergency Medicine, decades long
peace and justice activist, one of the organizers of the anti-G20
activities primarily with the Thomas Merton Center Anti-War Committee and
the Pittsburgh G20 Resistance Project. He lives in Pittsburgh.

--------18 of 22--------

The Consequences of a Cheaper Dollar
What Obama Isn't Telling American Workers
October 13, 2009

A lot is happening in the tumultuous realm of global economics.  The
"Great Recession" has caused shifts internationally, with outcomes that
will dramatically change the lives of millions of people in the U.S. and
beyond. And while Obama is acknowledging this fact with repeated
references to "a new world order", he isn't explaining how this adversely
affects working-class Americans.

The first unmentionable fact is the long-term decline of the dollar, a
phenomenon that can now be considered government policy.  The business
magazine Forbes comments: "The Treasury Department would never admit this,
but for the time being it's in the country's interest to keep its currency
low because it stimulates exports for the economy's manufacturing base and
lowers the value of the debt that the Treasury is piling up".

These policies are essentially economic attacks on foreign corporations
and governments, and U.S. workers.

A cheaper dollar means an off-shoring of America's debt onto countries
like China and Japan - and foreign corporations, who are large buyers of
U.S. currency and/or debt.  These foreign entities have already issued
public warnings about this dynamic, and will not sit forever as their
investments turn to mush. Economic retaliation should be expected.

A cheaper dollar also antagonizes foreign corporations in another way.
U.S. corporations benefit from dollar deflation because it lowers the
price of their goods/exports on the global marketplace.  But foreign
competitors can play this game too, and the result would be economic

Most importantly, a cheaper dollar lowers the living standards of U.S.
workers, since the price of foreign goods will become inflated.   With a
catastrophic U.S. debt, inflation will continue for years to come.
Obama's silence on the issue equals a premeditated plan to pursue the
above objectives.  Workers will thus be forced into demanding wage
increases that match this new inflation.

Another big secret Obama is keeping from workers is also U.S. debt related
(keep in mind much of U.S debt is the result of fighting foreign wars and
bailing out banks).  Under Obama these policies will continue;
"sacrifices" are going to be made in other areas.  Obama has already
talked at length in favor of "reforming entitlement programs," without
mentioning loudly that these include Social Security, Medicare, and other
essential social programs.  The Democrats' priorities are perverse; money
for war and banks, but not for those who really need it. [So then it's
time to DUMP the Democrats. Goodbye. Farewell. Get lost. Don't come back.
Do we know you? -ed]

These secrets were partially revealed at the recent G-20 summit.  There,
Obama pushed a plan that aimed "to reform the global architecture to meet
the needs of the 21st century".  Part of the plan said that "G-20 members
with sustained, significant external deficits [the U.S.] pledge to
undertake policies to support private savings and undertake fiscal
consolidation while maintaining open markets and strengthening export

In plain English this means that the U.S. will reduce its debt by slashing
domestic consumption and increasing exports.  Reducing "domestic
consumption" is another often-used codeword for lowering the standard of
living of U.S. workers through lower wages and the elimination of
"entitlement programs".  Once workers' wages have been reduced low enough,
U.S. corporations will be able to export more on the global marketplace,
the other key to Obama's G-20 plan. [Why do we give this class-enemy even
one more minute of our time? Perhaps we like being screwed and kicked in
the teeth. -ed]

These plans are not mere schemes for conspiracy theorists; they're already
being implemented. Unemployment has a direct, negative impact on workers'
wages.  The Democrats know this and are using it as a tool to enforce the
pro-corporate G-20 policy. What else explains the deafening quiet from
Obama around unemployment - already a social catastrophe ruining the lives
of millions of people?

Another way the G-20 plan is already being enforced is by the restriction
of credit for workers and small businesses.  A recent Wall Street Journal
article was titled, "The 'Democratization of Credit' Is Over -- Now It's
Payback Time" The "democratization of credit" simply means that workers
and low-income people had access to credit if they needed it.  No
more. Credit that was once used to cover end-of-the-month expenses and
emergencies will once again be a privilege of the highly paid and wealthy.

Workers must understand that the current effects of the Great Recession
are to become the new rules of the "reformed" U.S. economy.  The living
standards of the past are to stay in the past.  Before, U.S. workers took
out enormous amounts of debt to in a struggle to defend their standard of
living, since wages and benefits were steadily shrinking.  The hope was
that the economy would improve, and better times would return.  The
reality is far different.

The U.S. economy is losing its place of total dominance in world affairs.
And instead of the U.S. government reacting to this by adding social
programs, they are taking them away.  Government money will continue to
bail out banks when needed while funding trillion-dollar wars.

Once the reality of the above situation can no longer be denied, and U.S.
workers recognize these policies as a corporate and government attack on
their collective standard of living, they can begin to act. [Why wait? It
will only get worse. -ed]

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for
Workers Action (  He can be reached at
shamuscook [at]

--------19 of 22--------

Dante Was Right
Why the Government Fears Unions
October 13, 2009

It's been noted that the two U.S. industries (not counting defense) most
dependent on government handouts are agriculture and ranching.  Without
federal subsidies and exemptions, these two bedrock industries would be
all but unrecognizable, crippled, unable to function.

Yet, despite America's farmers and ranchers having their snouts buried so
deep in the government trough they have to come up gasping for air,
they've managed to maintain an image of the self-made "rugged
individualist".  Instead of comporting themselves as the corporate welfare
recipients they are, they walk around like the Marlboro Man.

Cut it any way you like, but hypocrisy is hard to stomach. Whether it's
the vehemently anti-gay Republican congressman caught in bed with another
man, or the televangelist who weeps real tears when talking about the
glory of Jesus Christ, and is found to have embezzled millions of dollars
from his ministry, people are disgusted by self-righteous deceit.

In Dante's "Inferno," where each of the descending nine levels of Hell is
inhabited by increasingly vile sinners, Dante relegates the hypocrites and
liars to a lower level than those guilty of homicide.  Think about that.
Almost 700 years ago, and an Italian poet had already figured out that the
shameless, self-aggrandizing phony was more deserving of torture than the
garden variety murderer.

The so-called Free Market is a breeding ground for hypocrites.  Which is
why I remind people that if they honestly believe making it on your own is
a virtue - that old-fashioned self-reliance, without any handouts from
Uncle Sam, is something to be truly admired - then there are only two
groups worthy of our respect:  labor unions and the Amish.

Not only do the feds not assist or subsidize unions, they go out of their
way to impede them.  They harass unions; they nag them, molest them,
provoke them, shake them down.  Whatever gains unions have made over the
years have been achieved without assistance from the government.  Indeed,
the narrative history of organized labor has been one of struggle - the
struggle to overcome government sabotage.

And don't say passage of the historic Wagner Act "launched" the labor
movement, because that's a myth.  Yes, the Wagner Act helped legitimize
the labor movement, but it certainly didn't create it.  Wagner became law
in 1935 - more than 100 years after organized labor had already set down
roots.  Not only were strikes occurring as far back as the early
nineteenth century, the first professional athletes union (International
Brotherhood of Baseball Players) was already in place by 1886.

If we really want to see what the federal government has done to "help"
labor, let's look at the Taft-Hartley Act (1947).  Taft-Hartley
eviscerated the Wagner Act; it devoured it.  It took out all the good
parts.  With one stroke of the pen, the Taft-Hartley Act rendered labor's
most dependable, bread-and-butter tactics illegal.

The truth is, the government fears and distrusts organized labor.  Why?
Because a powerful workers' collective threatens the status quo.  The
federal government (and the corporations who run it) fear labor unions the
way our country's founders feared the common man, which was why they
invented a device (the Electoral College) allowing them to circumvent the
popular vote when necessary.

The government abhors unions.  Consider the IBT (International Brotherhood
of Teamsters).  Fifty years ago, the Teamsters got mixed up with some very
nasty, highly motivated mob figures.  And even though that's ancient
history - the IBT is now a straight-up, respected, democratic union - the
feds have never let them forget it.  They like to pretend the Teamsters
(in fact, all of organized labor) still have something to answer for.

Japan has been forgiven for Pearl Harbor; China's been forgiven for its
Communist revolution; major league baseball has inter-league play; the
surfers have made peace with the ho-dads.  Everybody's been allowed a
fresh start.  Everybody except labor.  Even today, if a Teamster shop
steward in a New Jersey local so much as sneezes, some Junior G-man in
Washington D.C. perks up his ears.

But the irony is so thick you can cut it with a knife.  With the
middle-class now under siege, organized labor isn't the problem, it's the
cure.  And it's more than simple economics.  It's ethics.  If Wall Street
had been as law-abiding as our labor unions, there's no banking collapse.
If Wall Street had been as "honest" as the average American worker,
there's no crisis, no bail-out, no liquidation of financial institutions.

And if the Department of Justice had hounded investment bankers the way it
hounds unions, the American taxpayer would have an extra trillion dollars
to play with.  Which would be enough to underwrite national health care.
Now how crazy is that?

David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright and author ("It's Never Been Easy:
Essays on Modern Labor"), was a former union rep.  He can be reached at
dmacaray [at]

--------20 of 22--------

Democratic Party Pratfalls
Selling Out, But Still Getting Screwed
October 13, 2009

The Democrats in Congress, and their main man Barack Obama in the White
House, have taken tens of millions in legal bribes from the health
insurance industry over the past year, and have obligingly been hammering
out in Congress a health "reform" bill that, instead of helping people,
has been designed to help the insurance industry.

They started out by immediately blackballing any discussion of real health
reform in the form of an expansion of Medicare to cover everyone of every
age, which of course would have ended the problem of the uninsured, while
cutting the nation's overall health bill by at least a third, but in the
process shutting down the private health insurance business.

Then they chipped away and are at this point on the verge of eliminating
any so-called "public option" or government-run health insurance plan to
even compete with the private insurance sector.

Finally, in a move as breathtakingly accommodating of the insurance
industry as was the multi-trillion-dollar bailout financial bailout of
Wall Street's biggest banks, they proposed to require (on pain of a $3800
fine by the IRS) to require everyone in America to buy a health insurance
plan from the private sector - a gift to the industry of some 40-50-
million new unwilling customers.

But a combination of public outrage at this forced program of insurance
and recognition that the inevitable government subsidy of low-income
insurance buyers would be humongous has led Congress to backtrack, and
start backing away from the mandatory aspect of this plan.

And now the private insurance industry, not satisfied that it has managed
to practically dictate the terms of the health reform legislation so fare,
and angry that it might not get those 40-50 million new forced customers,
is reportedly threatening to turn around and knife the president and the
Democratic Congress in the back.

They're threatening to (gasp!) start running attack ads on the "reform"

Remember the old "Harry and Louise" ads the industry ran attacking Hillary
and Bill Clinton's health reform proposal back in the early 1990s?  Well,
this time, it'll be Harry and Louise attacking Obamacare.

I can see it now. America's Health Insurance Plans, the lobby for the
insurance industry vultures, will set up some nice-sounding front group
with a name like People for a Healthier America, and they'll fund a new ad
campaign like this:

 Harry will be sitting at the breakfast table, reading the local paper.
He'll look up from his coffee as Louise is puttering around by the sink.

"This ObamaCare looks like it's gonna drive up our insurance premiums,

"What do you mean Harry?"

"Well it says here that they're not going to force the poor folks to buy
insurance, so most of 'em will probably wait until they get sick and then
buy it".

"Well what's wrong with that, dear?"

"Nothin' 'cept that the law would also prohibit the insurance companies
from charging those sick folks higher premiums when they do finally come
in to buy insurance".

"Well, wouldn't it be unfair to charge them more, when they need it?"

"It might seem that way Louise, but if the insurance company has to take a
loss on them, they're going to make it up by charging us good folks who
have insurance more".

"Oh my god, Harry! We're already paying $6,000 a year for our insurance.
What will our premiums go up to?"

"Says here they could go up by another $1000 a year!"

Announcer:  Don't let Congress make you pay for the uninsured. Write or
call your Senators and Representatives and the White House, and tell them
to demand that every American be required to buy insurance immediately!
This announcement is brought to you by People for a Healthier America.

It's funny really, so see Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana), the biggest
recipient in Congress of insurance industry money, who has spent the last
few months working hand-in-glove with the insurance industry lobbyists to
craft a bill to their liking, suddenly accusing his erstwhile financiers
of doing a "hatchet job" on his bill. Actually, his bill has been a
hatchet job itself on the whole concept of health care reform.

All of this, of course, was entirely predictable. Like HillaryCare before
it, ObamaCare has been doomed from the start by its unwillingness to
address the basic issue behind America's twin crisis of health care: lack
of access for those with lower incomes, and absurdly high cost for

What makes it all so pathetic is that America already has an excellent
model for delivering quality health care: a single-payer system called
Medicare. Everyone in America gets this program, just like in Canada,
Germany, France, Taiwan, Japan and elsewhere. The only difference is that
in those other countries, people get it from the day they're born. In
America, you have to wait until you are permanently disabled, or until you
reach the age of 65.

Far from having to "start from scratch," as Obama claimed in his last
address to Congress in explaining why he was not proposing a single-payer
solution despite its obvious success in other countries, solving America's
health crisis by adopting a single-payer system would be a simply matter
of taking a system that works, and expanding it to cover everybody.

But of course that would have made the insurance industry furious. They'd
have to go back to just selling life insurance and homeowners insurance
and car insurance.

And so we can expect a new round of "Harry and Louise," and ObamaCare will
go down in flames.

You have to laugh at these Democrats. Even when they brazenly try to sell
out, they get screwed.

[Dems realize the problem, and are on it. To begin with basics, they are
working night and day to distinguish their butts from holes in the ground.
Since the holes alas may be any size - big or small or anywhere in between
- it may take them several terms.  Tnen there's the problem that the
longer they sit in Washington, the bigger their inactive butts grow, so
they have to start the butt/hole discrimination all over again from
scratch. So you will have to be patient with them and reelect them over
and over, because sooner or later they may finally be sort of able to most
of the time tell their mushrooming butts from +any+ size hole, a crowning
achievement, especially considering where they started.  Certainly worthy
of a Nobel prize or three.  -ed]

Dave Lindorff  is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His
latest book is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006 and
now available in paperback). He can be reached at dlindorff [at]

--------21 of 22--------

The Wrong House
Ask Awal Khan About Obama's Prize
October 13, 2009

Giving Obama the Nobel Peace Prize is like giving someone the literature
prize because you hope he writes some good books.

He doesn't even have to be an aspiring writer. To say Obama aspires to
peace is to ignore his escalation of the occupation of Afghanistan.

It may be a joke, but the Norwegians have told more morbid ones: Roosevelt
in 1906 and Kissinger in 1973 both had records far more blood-soaked than
anything Obama has had time for.

But he has had time to make an impact on people such as Awal Khan, who
might want to weigh in on Obama's prize.

Khan was serving as an artillery commander in the Afghan National Army
away from his home in the eastern province of Khost on April 8, when U.S.
forces came knocking. In a case of "wrong house," they killed his
17-year-old daughter, Nadia, and his 15-year-old son, Aimal. They also
killed his wife, a schoolteacher who taught villagers for free. They
killed his brother and wounded another daughter.

After she thought the dust had cleared, Khan's cousin.s wife walked
outside. She was nine-months pregnant. She took five shots to the stomach.
Her fetus died, but she lived. She might have some thoughts on Obama as a
man who "created a new climate," as the Nobel committee claimed.

U.S. military spokesman Colonel Greg Julian said the slaughtered family
had no connection to U.S. enemies. "It was an unfortunate set of
circumstances," he said.

A grieving Khan told Agence France-Press, "The (international) coalition
has to stop this cruelty and brutal action".

Khan is not likely to get his wish from Obama. Even in his announcement
that he would accept the prize, Obama resorted hawk talk: "I am the
Commander-in-Chief of a country that's ... working ... to confront a
ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our

That is audacity. At its greatest, the threat to the American people from
the Taliban is indirect. And whatever the risk in pulling out, it's
something we have to live with. To say that it's worth thousands of dead
civilians to possibly reduce an indirect risk to Americans makes sense
only in the twisted nationalistic calculus in which an American life is
worth many foreign lives. A peace prize should go only to someone who
believes in the following math: 1 human life = 1 human life.

Perhaps the only reason we know the name Awal Khan is that he was an army
colonel. The Khost Provincial Council closed its offices for a month in
protest. Provincial councils of Laghman, Logar and Zabol have closed their
offices to protest other civilian killings. And Obama is still listening
to military advisers talk about how the secret to counterinsurgency is
winning over hearts and minds.

There are thousands of less "important" people we could interview. We
could talk to the families of 95 children reported killed in a U.S. attack
on May 4 and 5 in western Farah province. A list of the dead, with names
and ages, was compiled by an Afghan government commission based on the
testimony of villagers, said Obaidullah Helali, a lawmaker from Farah and
a member of the government's investigative team.

To see how things look from an Afghan perspective, why not read the
independent newspaper Cheragh? Perhaps Obama would return his medal if he
read the May 7 editorial on "the killing of so many humans, chopped bodies
without coffins, and the orphaned children and widows. In reality, voices
and murmurs are choked with pain, and pens are unable to write about it".

Compare that to Obama's voice on the subject. Does someone who calls the
occupation of Afghanistan "a war of necessity" and adds tens of thousands
more troops to it have something to do with "the abolition or reduction of
standing armies," as Alfred Nobel stipulated for the prize in his will?

In a Pew Global Attitudes survey in June 2009, a plurality or majority in
every one of the 25 countries surveyed was opposed to increasing troops in
Afghanistan. An overwhelming majority of Pakistanis oppose the drone
attacks that Obama has launched. With 58 percent of Americans now opposing
the war, one wonders why Obama will not listen to anyone arguing what
seems so clear: that the United States has no business being in

Instead of listening to the left, most of which is still stunned by his
ethnicity as if hit with a cartoon frying pan, Obama wants to placate the
right. Like a long line of liberals before him, he's worried about looking
weak. He has hesitated on Honduras, waffled on Guantanamo, and exacerbated
Afghanistan. This is discouraging news for peacemongers. As Lou Brock
said, "Show me a guy who's afraid to look bad, and I'll show you a guy you
can beat every time".

Even U.S. Puppet Hamid Karzai has had enough with the civilian dead. In
2005 he said, "I don't think there is a big need for military activity in
Afghanistan anymore". In 2007: "The Afghan people understand that mistakes
are made. But five years on, six years on, definitely, very clearly, they
cannot comprehend as to why there is still a need for air power". On Nov.
5, 2008, after U.S. warplanes killed 23 women and 10 children at a wedding
party, he said: "This is my first demand of the new president of the
United States: to put an end to civilian casualties".

Karzai knows it can't happen. Obama has taken withdrawal off the table,
and as long as there is an occupation, civilians will be killed. Obama
likely will be responsible for the deaths of thousands of people before he
leaves office.

"Washington keeps bombarding residential areas in the country without
paying any attention to the objections," said the May 7 editorial in
Cheragh after the slaughter in Farah. Karzai is "sacrificing the people
before the lords of the White House.... Can the US separate the people
from the Taleban and Al Qa'idah, with the slogan that they are your
killers and we are your saviours?! What a futile fancy and unrealizable

Instead of blindly chasing hawks, Obama needs to listen to Afghan
Parliamentarian Shukria Barakzai, who told the Christian Science Monitor
that instead of sending 30,000 new troops, Obama should "send us 30,000
scholars... Or 30,000 engineers. But don't send more troops - it will
just bring more violence".

The original Nobel committees of the first five years had it right. They
gave peace prizes to people we've never heard of, but people who were
warriors for peace. Norway was a part of Sweden at the time. Nobel, a
Swedish arms trader and inventor of dynamite, is thought to have charged
Norway with giving out the peace prize because it had no foreign-relations
apparatus, so that its committee might be neutral. There seemed to be an
implicit recognition that the nation-state and peace are like a shark and
a leg, and that statesmen did not qualify for the award. But then Norway
became independent and the next year tried to buy a big friend by giving
the award to Teddy Roosevelt, opening the door to playing politics with
the prize.

Obama has said he'll give the $1.4 million purse to charity. With the
United States giving a $2,000 condolence payment to the family of each
civilian it kills in Afghanistan, that would pay for 700 lives.

Or he could give it to Dr. Sima Samar, to name one of thousands of
more-deserving people. After graduating from medical school in Kabul in
1982, she has given her life to providing health care to women in
Afghanistan and, chased into exile, in Pakistan. She's won a slew of
awards over the past 15 years for her bravery and work, but not the Nobel.
She has brought peace to a lot of people. And she's not likely to occupy
any countries any time soon.

Brendan Cooney is an anthropologist living in New York City. He can be
reached at: bcooney50 [at]

--------22 of 22--------

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