|Progressive Calendar 11.08.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sun, 8 Nov 2009 14:02:50 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 11.08.09 1. Stillwater vigil 11.08 1pm 2. Anti-torture rally 11.08 5:15pm 3. Peace walk 11.08 6pm RiverFalls WI 4. Fred Ho 11.08 7pm 5. Picket Gaertner 11.09 4:45/6:30pm StPeter MN 6. Jomes Bovard - How the media enables government lies 7. Ron Jacobs - The high cost of cheap/A new map of hell 8. Pam Martens - Privatizing government/The fire sale of America 9. Brian Gallagher - ROTC, Harvard and the soldiers from Standard Oil 10. David M Green - Chump change/Can you hear us now? 11. ed - Had it bumpersticker/sign 12. ed - Had it button --------1 of 12-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Stillwater vigil 11.08 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 --------2 of 12-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Anti-torture rally 11.08 5:15pm Anti-torture rally Outside Rice Speech 11/8/09 Tackling Torture at the Top (T3), a committee of WAMM, is sponsoring a peaceful anti-torture rally outside the Condoleezza Rice event inside the Beth El Synagogue (5224 West 26h Street, St. Louis Park) beginning at 5:15 p.m. on Sunday, November 8, in order to call attention to the need for a full investigation of Rice and others who approved of torture and enabled its use. It will also be a candlelight vigil in honor of the victims of torture. T3 believes that accountability and truthfulness is essential for our democracy to restore adherence to the international treaties that serve to prohibit nations from using torture. As former Vice President (and member of the Church Committee that addressed governmental abuses during the 1960's-70's), Walter Mondale once explained, "I've been around the federal government long enough to know that if there is a bad precedent, it's like leaving a loaded pistol on the kitchen table. You don't know who is going to pick it up and pull the trigger. There need to be consequences for violating the law." George Hunsinger, founder of the Campaign to Ban Torture, wrote: "The American people first deserve a full accounting of what has been done in their names. Yet without prosecution, the future of the rule of law is in jeopardy...for torture is not just one issue among others. It is archetypal. It marks the clear bright line throughout history between civilization and barbarism, between dictatorship and constitutional government." The rally will conclude with a reading of several of "the hard questions for Condi" that T3 has gathered which we hope are asked during her "unscripted Q and A". (You may contact us if you want the questions in advance.) T3 believes that no one should be above the law; and that it is important that torture be eradicated and banned forever. Endorsed by: Veterans for Peace-Minneapolis Chapter; the Anti-War Committee; and the National Lawyers Guild-Minnesota Chapter. Contact: Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), 612-827-5364 [When a synagogue sponsors a torturer it shows how destructive Zionism is of Judaism. Any crime to steal land. -ed] --------3 of 12-------- From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net> Subject: Peace walk 11.08 6pm RiverFalls WI River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from "Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact: d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls, Wisconsin 54022 --------4 of 12-------- From: Peter Rachleff <rachleff [at] macalester.edu> Subject: Fred Ho 11.08 7pm Fred Ho, world-reknowned composer, saxophonist, intellectual, and activist, will present a *performance/reading/lecture* on Sunday evening, November 8, at 7PM, in Macalester College's Weyerhaeuser Chapel. This event is free and open to the public. Fred's visit to Macalester, sponsored by our Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, is part of a tour to celebrate the publication of his new book, *Wicked Theory, Naked Practice*by the University of Minnesota Press. Fred was last here four years ago, as part of the "Caliente! Circle Around the Sun" poetry and music program with Magdalena Gomez and Raul Salinas. He is perhaps best known in the Twin Cities for his composition "All Power to the People! The Black Panther Suite," performed by his Afro-Asian Music Ensemble at the Walker Art Center in 2000, and for his organization of an Immigrant Labor Cultural Cabaret featuring rank-and-file members of HERE Local 17 at the Cedar Cultural Center, supported by a McKnight Artist Residency, in 2001. As a composer and performer, Fred has been all over the United States and the world since the mid-1980s, collaborating with poets, playwrights, performance artists, dancers, martial artists, and, of course, other musicians. He is the leader on nine recorded CD's and a DVD, the author of four books and numerous articles, and the subject of several scholarly articles. For more information, please contact me, Peter Rachleff, at 651-696-6371 or rachleff [at] macalester.edu. --------5 of 12-------- From: info [at] rnc8.org Subject: Picket Susan Gaertner 11.09 4:45/6:30pm StPeter MN Susan Gaertner - the prosecutor with the power to drop the charges on the RNC 8 - must be betting on out-state support to save her struggling campaign for Governor. After all, by casting her luck with the embattled Bob Fletcher, her reputation in the Twin Cities is kind of sour. On Monday, November 9, she'll be heading south to a 7pm candidate's forum at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. Members of the RNC 8 Defense Committee will be making the road trip, too. Join us! Gaertner confirmed last week that she would appear at the forum. But historically, that hasn't always meant she'll be brave enough to attend. She skipped out on a DFL spaghetti dinner in May after an aide told her people were there to ask questions about the RNC. Then, she avoided her scheduled appearance at the State Fair when "Fletcher" and crew showed up to theatrically drop the charges. And later, she flaked on her appearance at a candidate's forum on Lake Street in Minneapolis when we picketed outside. Does Susan dare show up, or will she risk another embarrassment? There's only one way to find out! Informational Picket Against Susan Gaertner's Political Prosecution Monday, November 9, 6:30pm Gustavus Adolphus College 800 West College Avenue St. Peter, MN, 56082 Forum info: http://gustavus.edu/calendar/16939 If you're in the Twin Cities, meet us to carpool to St. Peter at 4:45pm at Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave. S., Minneapolis. The trip takes about 90 minutes. The debate itself, for those who may prefer to rabble-rouse inside, is at Alumni Hall, inside the O.J. Johnson Student Union on the Gustavus campus. Check out this map to find your way to the student union: http://gustavus.edu/welcome/maps/ Questions? Email us at info [at] rnc8.org. And remember, you don't need to wait for the next Susan event to give her your opinion: County Attorney's Office: 651-266-3222 | Fax: 651-266-3010 | RCA [at] co.ramsey.mn.us Campaign Office: 651-645-2010 | info [at] susangaertner.com --------6 of 12-------- >From the Downing Street Memo to Katrina How the Media Enables Government Lies By JAMES BOVARD CounterPunch November 6-8, 2009 Why do politicians so easily get away with telling lies? In large part, because the news media are more interested in bonding with politicians than in exposing them. Americans are encouraged to believe that the media will serve as a check and a balance on the government. Instead, the press too often volunteer as unpaid pimps, helping politicians deceive the public. In 1936, New York Times White House correspondent Turner Catledge said that President Roosevelt's "first instinct was always to lie". But the Washington press corps covered up Roosevelt's dishonesty almost as thoroughly as they hid his use of a wheelchair in daily life. President Bill Clinton benefited from a press corps that often treated his falsehoods as nonevents - or even petty triumphs. Newsweek White House correspondent Howard Fineman commented that Clinton's "great strength is his insincerity". I've decided Bill Clinton is at his most genuine when he's the most phony". We know he doesn't mean what he says". Flora Lewis, a New York Times columnist, writing three weeks before 9/11, commented in a review of a book on U.S. government lies on the Vietnam War, "There will probably never be a return to the discretion, really collusion, with which the media used to treat presidents, and it is just as well". But within months of her comment, the media had proven itself as craven as ever. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, who did some of the best exposes of George W. Bush's falsehoods in his first term, noted that it was not until July 2002 that "the White House press corps showed its teeth" in response to administration deceptions. Even the exposes of FBI and CIA intelligence failures in May 2002 did not end the "phase of alliance" between the White House and the press, as political scientist Martha Kumar observed. Deference to the government is now the trademark of the American media - at least at times when the truth could have the greatest impact. The media were grossly negligent in failing to question or examine Bush's claims on the road to war. When journalists dug up the truth, editors sometimes ignored or buried their reports. Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks complained that, in the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, "There was an attitude among editors: 'Look, we're going to war; why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?'". New York Times White House correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller explained the press's conduct at a Bush press conference just before he invaded Iraq: "I think we were very deferential because... nobody wanted to get into an argument with the president at this very serious time". After the war started, the falsehood of Bush's claims was often treated as a one-day story, buried in the back of the front section or on the editorial page. Afterward, most papers quickly returned to printing the president's proclamations as gospel. Eric Alterman, author of When Presidents Lie, observed, Virtually every major news media outlet devoted more attention to the lies and dissimulations of one New York Times reporter, Jayson Blair, than to those of the president and vice president of the United States regarding Iraq. Given that these two deceptions took place virtually simultaneously, they demonstrate that while some forms of deliberate deception remain intolerable in public life, those of the U.S. commander in chief are not among them. Docility The media's docility to the Bush administration repeated the pattern established during the first Gulf War (and during much of the Vietnam War). Chris Hedges, who covered the 1990-91 Gulf War for the New York Times, later explained, "The notion that the press was used in the war is incorrect. The press wanted to be used. It saw itself as part of the war effort". Hedges noted that journalists were "eager to be of service to the State," which "made it easier to do what governments do in wartime, indeed what governments do much of the time, and that is lie". Far from being irate about presidential lies, the media often enjoy sharing a laugh with the commander in chief over such technical inaccuracies. On March 24, 2004, President Bush performed a skit for those attending the Radio and Television Correspondents' annual dinner in which he showed slides of himself crawling around his office peaking behind curtains while he quipped to the crowd, "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere... Nope, no weapons over there... Maybe under here?" Bush's comic bit got one of the biggest laughs of the night. The Washington Post Style section hailed the evening's performance with a headline - "George Bush, Entertainer in Chief". The media dignitaries made no fuss over the comments - until a mini-firestorm erupted a few days later, spurred by criticism by Democrats and soldiers who had fought in Iraq. Greg Mitchell, the editor of Editor and Publisher, labeled the press's reaction as "one of the most shameful episodes in the recent history of the American media, and presidency". The character of the Washington press corps also shone bright in its nonresponse to the Downing Street Memo. On May 1, 2005, the London Times printed a memo from a British cabinet meeting on July 23, 2002, that reported the findings of the visit by Britain's intelligence chief to Washington to confer with CIA chief George Tenet and other top Bush administration officials. The memo quoted the intelligence chief: "Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy". The fact that the top level of the British government was aware that the Bush administration was fixing - i.e., manipulating and contriving - intelligence and facts to justify going to war was a bombshell in the United Kingdom. The decision to "fix" facts was illustrated by the torrent of false accusations and statements that Bush and his top officials made against Iraq in the following months. Throughout 2002, Bush continued to say that he had hoped to avoid going to war with Saddam. In his State of the Union address in late January 2003 and in his subsequent speeches, he talked about the United States as a victim, repeatedly asserting that "if war is forced upon us, we will fight". Bush had long since decided to attack, regardless of how many UN weapons inspectors Saddam permitted to roam Iraq. Yet the memo was almost completely ignored by the American mainstream media for the first month after its publication in Britain. As Salon columnist Joe Conason commented, "To judge by their responses, the leading lights of the Washington press corps are more embarrassed than the White House is by the revelations in the Downing Street memo". Deceit has become ritualized in U.S. foreign policy. From 2002 onwards, the White House Iraq Group spewed out false information that the New York Times and other prominent media outlets routinely accepted without criticism or verification. After many of the assertions were later discovered to be false, the White House and much of the media treated the falsehoods as irrelevant to the legitimacy of the U.S. invasion. The lack of attention paid to political lies is itself symptomatic of the bias in favor of submitting to rulers regardless of how much people are defrauded. Katrina Hurricane Katrina provided an opportunity for the media to ritually renounce their own servility. As the nonresponse and pervasive debacle became undeniable and the death count soared to more than a thousand, many talking heads pointed out the government's "failures" and proudly showed their indignation. A New York Times headline summed up the broadcast media's change in tone: "Reporters Turn From Deference to Outrage". One BBC commentator observed, "Amidst the horror, American broadcast journalism just might have grown its spine back, thanks to Katrina," which he suggested could provide an antidote to the "timid and self-censoring journalistic culture that is no match for the masterfully aggressive spin-surgeons of the Bush administration". NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams explained, "By dint of the fact that our country was hit [in 2001] we've offered a preponderance of the benefit of the doubt [to the government] over the past couple [sic] of years. Perhaps - this is the story that brings a healthy amount of cynicism back to a news media known for it". But such periodic affirmations of independence are as credible as an alcoholic who, regaining consciousness after tumbling down the stairs, piously announces the end of his boozing days. There will be other bottles - and other stairs. The pursuit of respectability in Washington usually entails acquiescing to government lies. Many if not most members of the Washington press corps are government dependents. Few Washington journalists have the will to expose government lies. That would require placing one in an explicitly adversarial position to the government. It is not that the typical journalist is intentionally covering up government lies, but that his radar is not set to detect such occurrences. Lies rarely register in Washington journalists' minds because they are usually supplicants for government information, not dogged pursuers of the truth. Raising troublesome questions will not help you get any "silver platter" stories. The vast majority of the media docilely repeated Bush's claims through most of his presidency. Television networks very likely devoted a hundred times as much air time to peddling government falsehoods as they did to exposing them. The constant barrage of falsehood drowns out the occasional blips of truth. The government only needs the number of people who recognize its lies to be small enough that its latest power play will not be thwarted. The goal is not to prevent well-informed citizens from being nauseated or disgusted by the president's lies. Instead, it is to neutralize the mass reaction to presidential falsehoods, even those that have catastrophic consequences. If Americans wish to retain the remnants of their liberty, they cannot trust the media to warn them about government tyranny. In order to recognize government deceit, there is no substitute for more citizens to make more effort to find the truth for themselves. James Bovard serves as a policy advisor for The Future of Freedom Foundation and is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy, The Bush Betrayal, Terrorism and Tyranny, and other books. --------7 of 12-------- The High Cost of Cheap A New Map of Hell By RON JACOBS CounterPunch November 6-8, 2009 As I finished reading Gordon Laird's new book The Price of A Bargain: The Quest for Cheap and the Death of Globalization news reports began to filter in on my computer's ticker about a new oil spill in the San Francisco Bay. Apparently the spill came from a tanker and had covered approximately three miles by the following day. Unfortunate in its timeliness as far as my reading of the book went, the spill illustrated rather succinctly one of the multiple dangers of a world built around the consumer's desire for inexpensive products. It's a world where the only ideology is profit and where those profits are made by driving down prices which entails driving down labor and other production costs. It functions best where there are governments willing to assist the megacorporation in doing exactly that. To start with the most obvious, under the tyranny of the neoliberal market, the US government reinvented itself to serve the needs of global capitalism while the communist-in-name-only regime in Beijing handed over its people and environment to that same marketplace. The result of these bargains made by the respective governments are the story Laird tells. Laird begins each section with an anecdotal tale about some aspect of capitalism's globalization process and those it effects. From the big box shoppers in North America and Europe to the manufacturing centers of China and from the massive ports of Los Angeles to the homeless individual displaced by the race to the bottom, the narrative describes the nature of these phenomena. The reader is introduced to the health problems suffered by those near the factories producing cheap goods and the increase in the incidence of asthma in the port cities of Los Angeles county. All of this is backed up with statistics and reportage that proves over and over again that the situation Laird describes is not isolated, but the norm. The economic fallout is presented as well. Laird is spot on in his description of the collusion between capitalist and government to lower wages, purchase materials on the cheap, create an economy based on debt and the transfer of debt and ignore the consequences. He describes how that collusion puts people out of work, moving the responsibility for their welfare onto the taxpayer while the government simultaneously undoes whatever safety nets designed precisely for the purpose of helping capitalism's castoffs. Although he never comes out and says it directly, Laird's book provides the reader with clear and familiar examples of the shortcomings of monopoly capitalism. He describes a paradox where most national economies depend on low-cost consumerism at the exact moment that such consumerism is stumbling. Why? Because it is dependent on unsustainable factors like cheap labor, cheap transport, trade imbalances, consumer debt and cheap oil. In addition, he describes how the very construction of the discount marketplace virtually ensures its own destruction. After all, he writes, prices can only go so low before there is no longer any profit in their selling. More importantly, as regards the current economic situation is the fact of energy resources and their consumption. In a chapter titled "All is Plastic" Laird breaks down the essential link between the price and availability of fossil fuels and the price and availability of bargain goods. From the plastic most of the goods are made from to the cheap fuel used to transport them around the globe, cheap and available hydrocarbons are essential. This means that eventually the consumer will have to accept higher prices to compensate for fuel costs or the corporation will have to decrease its rate of profit even further - something difficult to accomplish since lower rates of profits require more sales to compensate. Laird suggests that this explains why Wal-Mart and other major discounters are looking for new customers in Asia and looking to move some of their manufacturing operations closer to the source of fuel. When one considers this latter fact, the claims that the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are about oil and natural gas don't seem far fetched at all. After all, if those military exercises succeed in the way Washington wants them to, then the way will be open for anything Wall Street wants in that region. Laird's book is a fine piece of reportage on a world where the economy's collateral damage includes oil spills and the poisoning of China's (and other developing nations) working poor; the low wages and illegal labor practices of Wal-Mart leading to the ultimate collapse of a system based on minimizing costs, high volume sales and low profit margins; and a world where debt is the cornerstone of the economy. It is, to paraphrase Laird, a system that represents capitalism in its ultimate creative and destructive capacity. Most likely, it is also our future. 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 --------8 of 12-------- Have We Got a Deal For You: Let's Privatize Government! The Fire Sale of America By PAM MARTENS CounterPunch November 5, 2009 At a time when the corporate leaders of America have demonstrated an incurable proclivity to blaze a trail of scorched earth and looting across the banking, trading, housing, and mortgage industries, the public is now catching the whiff of a new smoldering stench just over the horizon. If corporate America has its way, everything from our parking meters, zoos, airports, toll roads and drinking water will be privatized in the biggest fire sale in the history of the industrialized world. In other words, let's send a powerful message to our children that the reward for corporate greed, incompetence and criminal behavior is to hand over what's left of the country's assets. The fire sale is being stoked by unprecedented state and local revenue shortfalls. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), "the worst recession since the 1930s has caused the steepest decline in state tax receipts on record - 48 states have addressed or still face such shortfalls in their budgets for fiscal year 2010, totaling $178 billion - the largest gaps on record. Fiscal year 2011 gaps - both those still open and those already addressed - total $80 billion or 14 percent of budgets for the 35 states that have estimated the size of these gaps. These totals are likely to grow as revenues continue to deteriorate, and may well exceed $180 billion. These numbers suggest that when all is said and done, states will have dealt with a total budget shortfall of at least $350 billion for 2010 and 2011.. Ironically, $350 billion is exactly half the amount the Federal government doled out to the Wall Street gang that proceeded to pay million dollar bonuses, fly staff to lush resorts, or slap logos on sports stadiums. Here's a rundown of what's up for corporate grabs around the country: Here in beautiful Southern New Hampshire, there's a recommendation to privatize the 143 year old historic Cheshire County Farm which holds some of the most cherished open space and farm land in the state. City kids can currently pet a cow or see an osprey or bald eagle soar with no admission fee. Out in Green Bay, Wisconsin this week, officials tried to hold a closed door meeting to discuss privatizing the Brown County planning department. (Isn't a key function of a planning department to police corporate interests? This sounds like the U.S. Treasury model, also known as regulatory capture.) In Grand Rapids, Kent County commissioners are weighing a recommendation from the Sheriff, Larry Stelma, to privatize the food service at the county jail. Following a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study at the end of October, finding it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars, the Army is backing off a plan (at least for now) to privatize carpentry, plumbing, grounds maintenance and other staff positions at West Point. Blaine Mogil, writing on November 3, 2009 in The Pride, the independent student newspaper of California State University at San Marcos, sums up the palpable mood there: "If the idea of a professor bidding you 'Good morning and welcome to McUniversity, may I take your order?' seems far-fetched, then the silent battle waged in Sacramento has not reached your mind space. It is time to awaken from political slumber and join the battle. Under attack are not only your educational opportunities, but also the future of educational opportunity for a wide swath of our friends and family on the lower levels of the socio-economic strata. This is a battle to save the California State University system from privatization. Everyone among us, struggling financially to attend this great institution, must be among the first wave to participate in preventing privatization, for if this battle is lost, we will be the first to wash away when the corporate yacht docks in our port". >From sea to shining sea, it's all up for corporate grabs: the prisons of Arizona; the libraries of Nevada County, California; the Milwaukee County Zoo; the tree cutters of Detroit; the Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans; a youth shelter in Cape May, New Jersey; a sewage treatment plant in Marin County, California. The parking meters in Chicago have already been privatized. If the ongoing hard lessons of our country's blind trust in corporations to balance greed and profit against the greater public good cannot dissuade officials to sack these goofball plans to turn over essential government programs to the corporate profit motive, perhaps the recent example in Indiana might serve up an epiphany. In 2006, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana privatized the state's welfare services, handing a $1.34 billion contract to IBM. A computer company, engaged in gigabits and memory chips, was entrusted with getting food stamps and Medicaid and welfare payments into the hands of the hungry and the poor. The previous Indiana system of face to face meetings with case workers was sacked for automation and call centers. After legislators heard endless stories of life-saving prescriptions not being filled, people with less than $100 in assets not receiving food stamps in the legally mandated response time, call centers not picking up the phone or losing the calls, paperwork disappearing, together with a class action lawsuit being filed, Governor Daniels finally sacked IBM last month. But what about the people who may have died or been injured from this abhorrent judgment call. Should Governor Daniels be able to simply make the same sheepish admission, "I got it wrong," like Alan Greenspan and walk away. Hopefully, the voters will provide some accountability. Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for 21 years; she has no security position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article other than that which the U.S. Treasury has thrust upon her and fellow Americans involuntarily through TARP. She writes on public interest issues from New Hampshire. She can be reached at pamk741 [at] aol.com --------9 of 12-------- ROTC, Harvard and American Foreign Policy The Soldiers From Standard Oil By BRIAN GALLAGHER November 5, 2009 CounterPunch In a glowing and laudatory report on college students who join the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at nearby schools while enrolled at prestigious universities from whence ROTC was banned in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the New York Times has eased the way for colleges such as Harvard to ditch their ROTC ban and become in practice, not just in theory, fully supportive of the US government's militarized foreign policy. The New York Times (The ROTC Dilemma) presents us with the travails of Harvard undergrads who have to rise at 4:45am and shave then drive or jog across the beloved and revered (no matter how compromised) River Charles in order to reach Boston University, where, "under a system developed by the military that allows host universities to serve nearby campuses"(NYT 10/26/09), they may be trained as officers ready to serve the interests of their country's leadership. The car used for this daily trip costs between $250 to $300 a month to maintain, the Times also lets us know, as if the civilians of Cambridge and Boston get a discount. "It's worse at Yale," laments the Times' author, Michael Winerip, who reports that there anyone wanting to be in ROTC must endure a 90 minute drive to UConn and request class notes from a friend. Winerip notes that this June, only 8 ROTC members will graduate while a half century ago, in 1959, 121 seniors were commissioned as officers. Winerip continues, "The Harvard Crimson, which for decades attacked R.O.T.C., praised classmates who had joined the program. .They demonstrate a commitment to service that should be admired and followed by the rest of the student body,. The Crimson said. The Yale, Columbia and Brown student papers have all published editorials in the recent past calling for the return of R.O.T.C. to their campuses." Not only the student body of America's elite schools but also their preferred presidential candidate endorsed university militarization. "During a campaign visit to Columbia University, Barack Obama, a favorite on the Ivy campuses, called the R.O.T.C. ban there wrong. (R.O.T.C. students at Columbia, in Manhattan, go to Fordham University or Manhattan College, both in the Bronx, for training). 'The notion that young people here at Columbia, or anywhere, in any university, aren't offered the choice, the option of participating in military service, I think is a mistake,' Mr. Obama said." Clearly, Mr. Obama was speaking for the class he serves, who refuse to participate in something so undignified as a training regimen outside their pet private universities, such as Officer Candidate School (OCS) or attending another university that offers ROTC. The most shameful part of all of this rests firmly on Harvard's leadership, who are either hiding behind a smokescreen of gay rights of who have signed on to the American government's imperial ambitions and desire to contribute not only future intellectuals and captains of industry, but in addition, fresh cannon fodder. The official position against ROTC is now, officially, that Harvard cannot allow any organization to which open gays and lesbians are refused membership. Harvard's president, Dr. Faust, said, according to the Times, "'Harvard commits itself to training leaders of all kinds, and we should be training leaders for the military'. She added, 'We want to have students in R.O.T.C. I am the president of Harvard and I am their president and Harvard is their university. But we also have gay and lesbian students and I am their president and Harvard is their university'" The campus revolts against both imperialism and the suppression of ideas and speech decades ago led to the removal of ROTC from many private universities. Now, however, the Harvard leadership and, not surprisingly, the current student body, see nothing wrong with the militarization of their environments, as long as that military is gay-friendly. It's a classic case of the failure of liberalism: eclipsing any analysis of class with concerns for cultural and racial equality only creates a more diverse country club. If the President or Congress repealed the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and gays could serve openly in the military then the only difference would be that gays too can now pilot assassination drones, wipe out wedding parties, or be shipped home in boxes labeled, "This side up." Don't expect the smart set from a future Harvard ROTC to change foreign policy either; that's the job of our civilian leaders. If Harvard's reputation of having the best and the brightest is true and if foreign policy remains the same, then the only thing we can conclude about the results of a future Harvard ROTC program is that killing will be more efficiently managed. As for free speech and the free exchange of ideas, it's a wonder how, in an institution that is supposedly a safe haven for such things, President Faust can really claim that she wants ROTC on campus. What do the Harvard students who participate in other ROTC programs think about homosexuality? "As for the R.O.T.C. members, they have been trained not to answer political questions from reporters. None of the 15 interviewed would discuss their feelings about 'don't ask, don't tell'." It gets worse: "I have no personal opinion," said Vanessa Esch, 21, a naval R.O.T.C. midshipman who graduated from M.I.T. in June. "I was politically active in high school but as I got closer to serve, I got away from the nitty-gritty of these issues. My professionalism as an officer depends on not giving answers to those kinds of questions. The commander-in-chief does that". What a disgrace. In the halls of Higher Learning walk students who look like everyone else (except when in uniform) but are, in fact, professionally silent citizens. A program which requires that its members trump integrity with professionalism is desired keenly by President Faust, as long as gay students be given the same "privilege". Justification for this resides in that enduring platitude, "serving one's country". But does the "country" in that formula equal, in practice, the people? Clearly not. The US military's own scholars study exactly what constitutes the "country" the military serves. Dr. Stephen Blank, professor of National Security Studies at the US Army War College, in a paper titled The Strategic Importance of Central Asia: An American View, describes the post-9/11 military actions against terrorists and their potential hosts as only "second" to the task of securing the natural resources of Central Asia for billion dollar corporations: "...important interests for the United States are based on what might be termed an 'open door" or 'equal access' policy for American firms seeking energy exploration, refining, and marketing. To the extent that Central Asia's large energy holdings are monopolized by Russia due mainly to the dearth of pipelines, regional governments are not able to exercise effective economic or foreign policy independence. Therefore, energy access on equal terms with America or other western nations is closely linked to the overarching objective of safeguarding the independence, sovereignty, and prospects for development of these nations and their economies. Again, it is Washington, not Moscow or Beijing, that champions the economic and political freedom of these states." Not surprisingly, the leitmotif of US energy policy has been focused on fostering the development of multiple pipelines and links to foreign consumers and producers of energy, one recent example including electricity to India. Central Asian energy states recognize that their security and prosperity are inextricably linked to the diversification of pipelines; a goal placing US and Central Asian interests in harmony. Washington has continuously sought the prevention of a Russian energy monopoly related to oil and has received considerable support from other nations in the global oil market. Unfortunately, America has not achieved as much success with regard to the natural gas market. At the same time America has sought to isolate Iran from inroads into Central Asian energy by urging various nations to build pipelines bypassing that country and by placing sanctions against those countries and firms that would trade with Iran. Anyone able to read can between those lines. Dr. Blank is no doubt correct about the heavy handedness of the Russians and the Chinese. What he fails to elaborate on is the the definition of "economic and political freedom" of which the US is such a champion. The people of Central Asia can only be free and happy by handing over their natural resources to giant American firms. Venerating Corporate America as the Mediatrix of all Political Graces is the official religion of US foreign policy. Only megalomaniacal narcissism explains the psychopathology of the ruling class who not only send armies abroad to acquire other peoples' natural wealth, but also believe this to be an act of charity that only they can provide. Proposing that a people own their own resources is an intolerable effrontery, as the case of Mohammed Mossedegh proves. Prime Minister of Iran until 1953, Mossedegh attempted to nationalize the Iranian oil industry which had been under the control of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now known as British Petroleum (BP), a transgression for which he was overthrown during the successful execution of Operation Ajax, the CIA's orchestrated coup. The "freedom" for which American armies fight is the freedom to work for Corporate America and its Washington tools. Additionally, this is a job that you can't quit without facing serious punishments, just take a look at that last line about Iran above from Dr. Blank who continues to clarify American goals in Central Asia: "While Washington admittedly seeks energy access for US firms on a competitive basis, it knows full well that it cannot completely supplant Russian or Chinese interests in the region. Rather, in keeping with the geopolitical imperative of preventing any imperial revival in Eurasia, America simply wants to prevent Russia or any other foreign power from dominating Central Asian energy markets." If images of bombs and blood from an expanding theater of war look to you like imperialism, then the American ruling class would like you to think of US policy as a bit like Magritte's Pipe: this is not an "imperial revival". Only the images, the sounds, and the smells are the same. Other than that, claim the ruling class, it's totally different and totally justified, good, and valorous. Colleges like Harvard banned ROTC in protest of precisely this rapacious aggression. Now, however, Harvard laments its lack of ROTC and seems poised to reintroduce it if only President Obama would repeal the technicality of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, allowing for an inclusive and properly diverse killing machine. Perhaps it's not so surprising. Recently, 80% of the students at Harvard Business School declined to sign a voluntary "M.B.A. Oath" which would have pledged them to outlandish activities such as "pursue my work in an ethical manner". Meanwhile, the professors and visiting lecturers at Harvard's JFK School of Government who have any real political influence ask deep questions like, "Should we send more troops or should we send a lot more troops?" The JFK School of Government and Harvard Business School are, respectively, the American empire's Schools of War and Capitalism. It's sad but fitting that ROTC might officially return to campus since the university actively supports the imperial project outlined by the military's own academics. It's also sad to see some of the most privileged and capable young people in America sign up for the undertaking. Can we honestly tell ourselves that people at a place with the intellectual reputation of Harvard's have been fooled into thinking that "serving one's country" meant something else? Can people at a place like Harvard claim ignorance about America's wars being an enterprise for corporate profits? Most of the world's peoples belong to the have-nots and we, the haves, make unending war on them to keep it that way. Didn't you know that, soldier? In the early 20th century, jokes were made about this or that politician being, "the Senator for Standard Oil" whenever it was abundantly clear that a public servant represented the interests of big business, such as Rockefeller's Standard Oil, over those of the people. In the future, as the real nature of American war dawns on more and more people, we might look at ROTC cadets at a place like Harvard, whose students have all the options and opportunities of the world, and say there go the Soldiers from Standard Oil. Brian Gallagher can be reached at briangallagher.mail [at] gmail.com --------10 of 12-------- Chump Change Can You Hear Us Now? By DAVID MICHAEL GREEN CounterPunch November 6-8, 2009 So, let me see if I have this straight. One year ago, the Democrats won commanding victories resulting in control of the presidency and lopsided majorities in the House and Senate. One year ago, the Republican brand was so weak that the party was on death watch, literally capable of sliding into the history books alongside the Whigs and the Federalists. One year ago the country was enthralled with the notion of a new president who seemed committed to solving a host of problems and, above all, offering change from a hated predecessor and his disastrously failed politics. But now, today, that promised change seems a lot more like chump change instead. Now, today, the Big Hope president has virtually nothing of import to show for nearly a year in office. Now, today, that president continues to follow the policies of his horrid predecessor on everything from civil liberties to civil rights to economics and foreign policy. And now, today, he and his comrades in Congress have squandered whatever goodwill they once had and face an angry public turning back to the right, desperately seeking solutions to their problems. Better still, this is likely only the beginning. Does anyone think the job situation is going to get better in the next year? How about Afghanistan? Does anyone believe that the public will be enthusiastic about Obama's healthcare plans, assuming anyone can locate them, and assuming that a bill can actually get through Congress? Who out there thinks that his position on global warming will please anyone in America, even as it does next to nothing serious about addressing the problem, and even as it remains - like his healthcare ideas - playing hide-and-seek with the American public? I am not surprised that Barack Obama - like the last two Democratic presidents - has turned out to be a conservative, corporate creature whose interest in the public interest is scarce and superficial. What does surprise me, though, is just how bad he is at playing politics, especially where his own self-interest is overwhelmingly at stake. Can this really be the same person who ran such a remarkable campaign last year, stealing the presidency from two of the great figureheads of American politics? Obama is one of the most articulate politicians in American history. And yet, his communications strategy is the absolute worst I've seen since Carter. In fact, what's most stunning about it is that his team seems to have dismissed all the lessons learned over the last three decades - especially from masterful Republican administrations - about how to market presidents and policies from the White House. This is no longer rocket science, if it ever was. How can a guy this sharp be so clueless and, thus, adrift? [He isn't a clueless fool. He is a smart knave. -ed] Obama is also one of the smartest people ever to sit in the Oval Office, but he has demonstrated astonishing levels of cluelessness about what the public wants, about the nature of his opposition, and about what makes a presidency successful. He doesn't understand that the public will follow you if you lead them, especially if you do so with passion. He doesn't get that the conservative movement is a lethal cancer seeking to commodify, monetize and profitize every aspect of America, and therefore is committed to the destruction of all else, including this administration, despite even that it is essentially staffed by Goldman Sachs. He doesn't understand that the most successful American presidents were the ones who brought a vision to the table, and fought for it. [No, he understands all of it, and is an enemy of the people. -ed] Fundamentally, Obama is an anachronism. He is essentially a nineteenth century president operating in a crisis era, as the early twenty-first grapples with cleaning up after the late twentieth. Historians sometimes debate over whether history makes the man or the man makes history. Leaving aside the sexist construction of the question, I think, manifestly, it has to be both. Almost all the great presidents served during time of great crisis, usually war. But that doesn't guarantee their place in the historical pantheon. You have to also meet those challenges of your time. Lincoln is widely considered America's greatest president. His predecessor, James Buchanan, is generally thought to be the country's worst. Both faced the same crisis of Southern secession, but they responded to it very differently, earning their respective places in history. On the other hand, had the civil war come twenty years earlier or later, we'd hardly even know their names, except as the answer to trivia questions. "Who was the first president from Illinois?!" "Who was our tallest president?" And so on. Obama could be Lincoln - or better still, FDR - if he wanted to be. He has chosen instead to be Buchanan. Faced with crisis scenario after crisis scenario, the candidate of "change" repeatedly and instinctively homes in on the weakest, most centrist, most useless response possible. His stimulus bill probably stopped the economy from continuing its free fall, but it leaves the country stuck in months or even years of unyielding recession at worst, and jobless recovery at best. His healthcare bill helps in some important ways, but does nothing to hold down costs in a society that utterly wastes one dollar out of every three it spends in this area, and it does nothing to make healthcare more affordable for most Americans. He seems to have some interest in a global warming bill and a banking regulation bill and maybe even doing something about civil rights for gays. But in none of these areas is there any sense that he will do what is morally necessary. Likewise, with Afghanistan, all the indicators seem to suggest that he will opt for some numbingly anodyne middle ground. The guy is a leaky bucket at a time when the boat has been swamped. He's a pressureless fire hose when the house is in flames. A tattered parachute when the ground is coming up fast. A rusty musket as the Huns come over the ridge. At a time when America needs a bold, powerful and wise leader in the White House - principally to undo the damage of the bold, powerful and sociopathic guy who was just in there - we have instead Mr. Rogers' pet gerbil. Complete with cardigan sweater and barbiturate-laced water supply. Obama seems to want nothing more than to be liked. In the neighborhood called Earth. The great irony, of course, is that he is accomplishing just the opposite. Gallup recorded his job approval ratings right after his inauguration at 69 percent. Today they are down to 50. That's not 35 percent, like his predecessor, to be sure. But since when did being better than George W. Bush become the standard? A backed-up toilet was more popular than Bush a year ago today. Hell, even gonorrhea was more beloved. But the point is that dropping fifteen to twenty percent in job approval in what is likely to be the best year of his presidency, at a time when the public is likely to be most generous, is a spectacular failure of the first order. Even according to Obama's own pathetic standards. If all he wants is to be liked, he's still blowing it. This is the equivalent of having every fourth friend or family member drop you on Facebook. Not a good sign, especially if you live for popularity. It didn't have to be this way. He could have been both a great president, a popular president, and a heroic president. All he had to do was be willing to treat the people who already hate his guts as political enemies. All he had to do was be willing to treat the people who live to fleece the country as treasonous thieves. All he had to do was to speak clearly, act boldly, and lead a broken country down the bright shining path toward repair that is obvious to anyone who is willing to look. But since that group excludes most Americans right now, this notion of bold leadership is especially essential. In fairness to Obama, the public doesn't really know what it wants these days, and best of luck to the two new Republican governors trying to cut taxes without deficit spending. If they can do it, they will only do it by slashing government services. Idiotic voters love tax cuts in the abstract. They will most likely feel a bit less enamored of closed schools, pothole proliferation, massive prisoner releases and state parks that cost as much to get in to as professional sports stadiums now do. For the last several decades, these selfish citizens have been all to willing to be trained by one of the sickest regressive mantras of them all - that government is just some bloated pig wasting tax dollars, and therefore that they could have their tax cuts without any cost to service, or without deficit spending. Apart from occasional lip service to Jesus, there is nothing closer to the core of the regressive/Republican canon than this tax-cutting chant. It's a complete lie, of course, and it took about five minutes into the Reagan administration to show that. Reagan slashed taxes so much that he tripled the national debt in eight years time. That problem wasn't helped by the fact that Republicans actually blow through cash faster when they control the government than do supposed "tax-and-spend Democrats". But now the day of reckoning has arrived, especially for the states, which generally do not have the federal government's capacity to tell gigantic lies through borrowing. People in New Jersey and Virginia have been stupid, and all they had to do to see how stupid they were being is to look at what that "economic girly-man" Arnold Schwarzenegger has been doing to Caleefornya. The state government is essentially conducting a going-out-of-business fire sale, and its creditworthiness is now about as good as Bernie Madoff's. Government services are being tossed overboard as if they were lead cannonballs in a leaky rowboat. This is the denouement of regressive fiscal policy these last decades. Lotteries won't save our state and local and federal governments anymore. Selling off land and highways and other assets no longer works, 'cause they done all been sold. Privatization of every service from prisons to the military not only doesn't save money, it only gives you less quality at greater cost. And whodathunk that? Who could imagine that converting a not-for-profit government program into a profit-making private one would cost more? Profits don't cost anything, do they? And you know how much more efficient(!) business is than the government, right? Like health insurance, for example, where overhead is a mere thirty-five percent, compared to the outrageous two percent of Medicare. So, yeah, in fairness to Obama, the public doesn't know what it wants, except that it wants it all. Since that can no longer be provided, it will happily pull the lever for any politician offering the sweet song of "change" from the status quo, the more vague the promise and the more aggrandizing to the voter, the better. But that doesn't mean Obama isn't both a fool and a disaster to his country for his relentless pursuit of mediocrity in governance and tepidness in policy. He's a fool because he doesn't realize that he and his party have become the anti-change incumbent targets of the very same tool they rode to power. In 2010 and then again in 2012, they will be smashed by angry voters demanding that something be done, just as they were in elections held this week. And he's both a fool and an American disaster because he could have written a much different story for the history books. Americans want their leaders to lead, oddly enough. Voters are incredibly lazy about understanding politics, in between their bouts of rage at the lousy politicians selected by those darned... lazy voters. That laziness means that they will follow you if you lead. They'll even follow you, for a while anyhow, if your ideas are insane. George W. Bush is the paradigmatic case. Americans didn't want the war in Iraq. They didn't really even want the massive tax cuts. But he hammered those policies home, using every technique of the bully pulpit to masterful effect, and he got what he wanted, even when he lacked a majority in Congress. He might have gotten his Social Security theft bill through Congress as well, had he not already established himself to the electorate as a liar and a disaster-inducing idiot. (Bush should get on his knees and thank Darwin that he failed on that front. Seniors would likely be lynching him now if his bill had passed.) Obama could have been a bold, decisive and game-changing leader, but he has chosen instead to be Bill Clinton in the time of Franklin Roosevelt. He wants to do something about the Great Depression. But not too much! He wants to respond to Pearl Harbor and the Nazi threat to plunge the world into a thousand years of darkness. But only if no one would get hurt! He wants to make sure Americans aren't ill-fed, ill-clad and ill-housed. But only if the Republicans literally seeking to destroy his presidency will go along for the ride! Brilliant. He doesn't get that people want leadership from the president, that they absolutely demand that in a time of crisis, and that they will drop you like so much depleted uranium if you don't bring it during a time of big, multiple crises. Like now. This guy is fast wearing out his welcome. The mood of the public today is anti-incumbent, and the president and his party are the incumbents du jour to be anti against. They have exacerbated their problem by failing to take the steps sufficient to really solve problems, and by focusing on problems other than the one absolutely at the top of the public's list right now - jobs and more jobs. Most of all, though, this president has almost completely lost control of the communications high ground. For a president in the American system of distributed power - especially one who, unlike George W. Bush, is unwilling the toss the Constitution and its separation of powers into the garbage can - communications mastery is everything. You can only win by skilled use of the bully pulpit. Obama, on the other hand, has allowed himself to be defined by others, not least of which including a now revived and revanchist Republican Party, blood dripping from its fangs, a very hungry look gleaming in its eye. So, for example, most Americans now think Obama is a liberal, despite the fact that he is actually quite conservative (except if you count as liberal spending a ton of money to clean up the regressive right's multifarious messes). And most Americans do not consider themselves liberal. Neither of these outcomes was necessary. A skilled and gutsy and bold President Obama would have staked out an agenda clearly in the public interest, identified just as clearly the opponents to that agenda and their motives, hammered home his relentless sales pitch to the public, twisted arms right out of their sockets in Congress, and forged a new progressive majority in America over sensible policies, leaving the minority of old white male crackers out there foaming at the mouth, forming the core of the Republican Party. Tony Blair was the model here. He aggressively painted - quite accurately - the British Conservative Party of Thatcher and Major as the source of the country's woes, and he never stopped reminding people of their disastrous reign. Meanwhile, Blair did nothing much in office, signed up for the Iraq war - totally in opposition of public sentiment, lying all the way - and helped to bring on a vicious recession. And he still bought the Labour Party more than a dozen years in office, just by reminding the public of how bad the Tories had been. Obama is, instead, taking himself down and - in as cruel a twist as history can muster - the progressive values he long ago walked away from, along with him. Where we go from here could be very, very ugly. The GOP right now is in the process of alienating and crushing every last scrap of moderately sensible politics from within its ranks. That means that American voters will very likely have the following choice in 2010 and 2012: On the one hand, a discredited do-nothing Democratic Party that promised change and didn't deliver; and on the other, a rabid, ultra-regressive GOP that is itself promising change from the failed former would-be change-providers. Before you guess who would win that contest, bear in mind that this is likely to be happening under still dire economic conditions and a shrinking national standard of living. You may be forgiven for thinking that that scenario is all too reminiscent of a certain European country in the 1930s. David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (dmg [at] regressiveantidote.net), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website, www.regressiveantidote.net. --------11 of 12-------- bumpersticker/sign ---------------------- HONK if you've HAD IT WITH CAPITALISM ---------------------- --------12 of 12-------- button I have had it with captialism How about you? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - 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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