Progressive Calendar 12.02.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Wed, 2 Dec 2009 08:49:43 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   12.02.09

1. Welfare rights     12.02 10:30am
2. Sexual trafficking 12.02 11am
3. Arctic eco-ed      12.02 12noon
4. Choice rally       12.02 12noon
5. Anti Af-war march  12.02 5:30pm
6. Sweatshops         12.02 7pm
7. Coldwater howl     12.02 7pm

8. PC Roberts      - The Obama puppet
9. Sue Sturgis     - The campaign cash behind the Afghanistan escalation
10. Dave Lindorff  - Hope deflated: Obama as the Manchurian Candidate
11. Paul Street    - Life is simple in a fake democracy
12. Sen John Marty - The courage of our Convictions
13. ed             - Alien termites  (haiku)
14. ed             - bumpersticker

--------1 of 14--------

From: Welfare Rights Committee <welfarerightsmn [at] yahoo.com>
Subject: Welfare rights 12.02 10:30am

Budget Forecast update THIS Weds Dec 2 at 10:30 am
Picket and press conference at state budget forecast December 2!

Tell the politicians: Don't balance the budget on the backs of poor and
working People! Tax the rich!

On Wed. December 2 the new budget forecast will show another budget
deficit. We will gather outside the room where it will be announced, Room
G-15 in the State Capitol building, at 10:30. Leaders of the MN Coalition
for a People's Bailout and the Welfare Rights Committee will be available
to speak to the press.

Please join us in holding signs and banners. The forecast starts at 11:00,
but we want to be there as the room fills up. We expect to be there at
least until noon.  This is our opportunity to weigh in on the budget
forecast and to provide the people's solution to the budget deficit--Tax
the Rich!Not one dime in Cuts to Poor and Working Minnesotans!

Welfare Rights Committee PO Box 7266, Mpls MN 55407 pho: 612-822-8020 main
email: welfarerightsmn [at] yahoo.com alt email: welfarerights [at] qwest.net


--------2 of 14--------

From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at] driscollgroup.com>
Subject: Sexual trafficking 12.02 11am

TRUTH TO TELL 11AM DEC 2: SELLING THE CHILDREN:Sexual Trafficking and
Abuse
KFAI - 90.3FM-Minneapolis/106.7FM Saint Paul and STREAMING at KFAI.org
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2 - 11:00AM

SELLING THE CHILDREN:Sexual Trafficking and Abuse
When I walked through the door into the Alexandra House, the battered
women shelter, I thought it was the end for me. I never imagined that I
could leave that place going to my own home. I thought two things could
happen; it was either deportation or death. I could feel death; I was just
a walking corpse. But, I did not want to lose my son. I kept thinking
about who I could trust, to leave him with, at least, if I passed away. My
mind was not settled. No one knew the agony I was going through.

I already lost touch with the world, so to speak. I could not even
recognize myself in the mirror anymore. Whenever I looked in the mirror, I
saw an old strange woman starring back at me, someone I had never met in
my life. I touched my face and asked:

Who is this?

But I never got an answer of who that was. Jen, one of the shelter
advocates, did our intake in the playroom that afternoon of October 16,
2007. After relating my story to her in tears, she said: You are in the
right place.

From IMPRISONED: The travails of a trafficked victim by Nigerian-born
Bukola Oriola. The book is a true story of modern day slavery.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) the United Nations agency
charged with addressing labor standards, employment, and social protection
issuesestimates that, at any given time, at least 12.3 million adults and
children are enslaved in forced labor, bonded labor, and commercial sexual
servitude.

The worst of them all may be the trafficking of children as sex slaves.
Children represent about half the estimated 800,000 men, women, and
children trafficked across international borders each year. Millions more
are trafficked within their own national borders. That includes the United
States and Minnesota.

For all of its recent notoriety, the sleaziest of all sleaze businesses -
trafficking in people the buying, selling, sexual exploitation and abuse
of human beings in other words, slavery of various kinds remains on the
invisible underbelly of this country and this state. Minnesota, according
to sources, the 13th most active state in human trafficking is both the
end point and the shipping point for women and children even some men
across state and international borders to be kept as slaves for sex, labor
and forced marriages.

TTTs ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN return to a topic we explored
almost three years ago to zero in on the latest in the sad world of human
trafficking, with an emphasis on the children ages five to 18 who are
enslaved for sexual purposes here and everywhere.

GUESTS:
 LINDA MILLER - Attorney and Executive Director, Civil Society a leading
advocacy group for internationally trafficked women and children in
Minnesota.
 BUKOLA ORIOLA former trafficking victim from Nigeria, now an Anoka
business owner; Author, IMPRISONED: The travails of a trafficked victim
 NANCY CUSACK - Clinical Director, The Bridge for Youth
 OTHERS TBD
 CAN'T GET US OVER THE AIR? STREAM TTT LIVE and LATER


--------3 of 14--------

From: Institute on the Environment <danie419 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Arctic eco-ed 12.02 12noon

UPCOMING EVENTS: FRONTIERS IN THE ENVIRONMENT
The University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment is breathing
new life into the old lecture series. Frontiers in the Environment
explores the frontiers of knowledge in climate change, renewable energy,
land use, food security and many other environmental hot topics.

12.2 - "What Happens When 4,000+ Classrooms in 30 Countries Explore the
Arctic Together?: Environmental Stewardship" Aaron Doering, Assistant
Professor, Curriculum and Instruction

12.9 - "Sustainable Cities: Urban Design for Human Health and the
Environment" Julian Marshall, Assistant Professor, Environmental
Engineering

All lectures take place Wednesdays, noon to 1 p.m, in IonE Seminar Room
380, VoTech Bldg., St. Paul campus. The lectures are free and open to the
public; no registration required, and also air live on the Web. See the
Frontiers speaker line-up, along with a campus map and the link to the
online broadcast.
More info: http://environment.umn.edu/news_events/events/frontiers.html


--------4 of 14--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org>
Subject: Choice rally 12.02 12noon

December 2: NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota Rally to Stop the Abortion Coverage
Ban. Stand in solidarity with others in the pro-choice community and
demand that lawmakers defend women's reproductive health while passing
meaningful health care reform. Noon - 1 PM in the Minnesota State Capitol
Rotunda.


--------5 of 14--------

From: Jess Sundin <jess [at] antiwarcommittee.org>
Subject: Anti Af-war march 12.02 5:30pm

Tuesday evening, President Obama will announce a major escalation of the
U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. He expected to use his speech to
justify sending at least 30,000 more troops to fight the now eight-year
war on the Afghan people. The first 9,000 Marines are scheduled to deploy
later in December.  The Anti-War Committee will be participating in the
following series of emergency actions over the next few days, all aimed at
responding to this announcement, and protesting the coming surge in the
destructive war and occupation of Afghanistan. Please join us.

EMERGENCY UNPERMITTED MARCH
Wednesday 12/2 @ 5:30pm. Gather at SW corner of Loring Park, Mpls

Be ready to take to the streets to stop business as usual in response to
this massive escalation of war. Bring banners, warm clothes, and your
friends. Called by Direct Action to Stop War and
Occupation<http://daswo.wordpress.com/>. Get the call: text "follow DASWO"
to 40404 or email them at daswo.tc@ gmail.com.


--------6 of 14--------

From: Minnesota Fair Trade Campaign <aranney [at] citizenstrade.org>
Subject: Sweatshops 12.02 7pm

Who's Got U Covered? Sweatshops, clothing and the U.
This event will discuss sweatshops and global trade in the clothing and
textile industry. Come learn about how these issues relate to the UM's
involvement in the Designated Suppliers Program.

7-8:30pm Where: UM, Humphrey Center Room 35
301 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55455 Wednesday December 2nd


--------7 of 14--------

From: Sue Ann <seasnun [at] gmail.com>
Subject: Coldwater howl 12.02 7pm

Next Full Moon Walk
Wednesday, December 2
Gather at 7 PM at
COLDWATER SPRING

Local historian Bruce McKenzie is interpreter for tonight's moon walk.
This is the Snow Moon, Oak Moon, Moon of Popping Trees, Long Nights Moon.

Traditional group howl!
Sunset 4:33 PM - Moonrise 4:45 PM
Always FREE and Open to the Public


--------8 of 14--------

The World's Least Powerful Man
The Obama Puppet
By Paul Craig Roberts
December 01, 2009
Information Clearing House

It didn't take the Israel Lobby very long to bring President Obama to heel
regarding his prohibition against further illegal Israeli settlements on
occupied Palestinian land. Obama discovered that a mere American president
is powerless when confronted by the Israel Lobby and that the United
States simply is not allowed a Middle East policy separate from Israel's.

Obama also found out that he cannot change anything else either, if he
ever intended to do so.

The military/security lobby has war and a domestic police state on its
agenda, and a mere American president can't do anything about it.

President Obama can order the Guantanamo torture chamber closed and
kidnapping and rendition and torture to be halted, but no one carries
out the order.

Essentially, Obama is irrelevant.

President Obama can promise that he is going to bring the troops home,
and the military lobby says, "No, you are going to send them to
Afghanistan, and in the meantime start a war in Pakistan and maneuver
Iran into a position that will provide an excuse for a war there, too.
Wars are too profitable for us to let you stop them." And the mere
president has to say, "Yes, Sir!"

Obama can promise health care to 50 million uninsured Americans, but
he can't override the veto of the war lobby and the insurance lobby.
The war lobby says its war profits are more important than health care
and that the country can't afford both the "war on terror" and
"socialized medicine."

The insurance lobby says health care has to be provided by private
health insurance; otherwise, we can't afford it.

The war and insurance lobbies rattled their campaign contribution
pocketbooks and quickly convinced Congress and the White House that
the real purpose of the health care bill is to save money by cutting
Medicare and Medicaid benefits, thereby "getting entitlements under
control."

Entitlements is a right-wing word used to cast aspersion on the few things
that the government did, in the distant past, for citizens. Social
Security and Medicare, for example, are denigrated as "entitlements." The
right-wing goes on endlessly about Social Security and Medicare as if they
were welfare give-aways to shiftless people who refuse to look after
themselves, whereas in actual fact citizens are vastly overcharged for the
meager benefits with a 15% tax on their wages and salaries.

Indeed, for decades now the federal government has been funding its
wars and military budgets with the surplus revenues collected by the
Social Security tax on labor.

To claim, as the right-wing does, that we can't afford the only thing
in the entire budget that has consistently produced a revenue surplus
indicates that the real agenda is to drive the mere citizen into the
ground.

The real entitlements are never mentioned. The "defense" budget is an
entitlement for the military/security complex about which President
Eisenhower warned us 50 years ago. A person has to be crazy to believe
that the United States, "the world's only superpower," protected by
oceans on its East and West and by puppet states on its North and
South, needs a "defense" budget larger than the military spending of
the rest of the world combined.

The military budget is nothing but an entitlement for the military/
security complex. To hide this fact, the entitlement is disguised as
protection against "enemies" and passed through the Pentagon.

I say cut out the middleman and simply allocate a percentage of the
federal budget to the military/security complex. This way we won't
have to concoct reasons for invading other countries and go to war in
order for the military/security complex to get its entitlement. It
would be a lot cheaper just to give them the money outright, and it
would save a lot of lives and grief at home and abroad.

The US invasion of Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with American
national interests. It had to do with armaments profits and with
eliminating an obstacle to Israeli territorial expansion. The cost of
the war, aside from the $3 trillion, was over 4,000 dead Americans,
over 30,000 wounded and maimed Americans, tens of thousands of broken
American marriages and lost careers, one million dead Iraqis, four
million displaced Iraqis, and a destroyed country.

All of this was done for the profits of the military/security complex
and to make paranoid Israel, armed with 200 nuclear weapons, feel
"secure."

My proposal would make the military/security complex even more wealthy
as the companies would get the money without having to produce the
weapons. Instead, all the money could go for multi-million dollar
bonuses and dividend payouts to shareholders. No one, at home or
abroad, would have to be killed, and the taxpayer would be better off.

No American national interest is served by the war in Afghanistan. As the
former UK Ambassador Craig Murray disclosed, the purpose of the war is to
protect Unocal's interest in the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline. The cost of
the war is many times greater than Unocal's investment in the pipeline.
The obvious solution is to buy out Unocal and give the pipeline to the
Afghans as partial compensation for the destruction we have inflicted on
that country and its population, and bring the troops home.

The reason my sensible solutions cannot be effected is that the
lobbies think that their entitlements would not survive if they were
made obvious. They think that if the American people knew that the
wars were being fought to enrich the armaments and oil industries, the
people would put a halt to the wars.

In actual fact, the American people have no say about what "their"
government does. Polls of the public show that half or more of the
American people do not support the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan and do not
support President Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Yet, the
occupations and wars continue. According to General Stanley McChrystal,
the additional 40,000 troops are enough to stalemate the war, that is, to
keep it going forever, the ideal situation for the armaments lobby.

The people want health care, but the government does not listen.

The people want jobs, but Wall Street wants higher priced stocks and
forces American firms to offshore the jobs to countries where labor is
cheaper.

The American people have no effect on anything. They can affect
nothing. They have become irrelevant like Obama. And they will remain
irrelevant as long as organized interest groups can purchase the US
government.

The inability of the American democracy to produce any results that
the voters want is a demonstrated fact. The total unresponsiveness of
government to the people is conservatism's contribution to American
democracy. Some years ago there was an effort to put government back
into the hands of the people by constraining the ability of organized
interest groups to pour enormous amounts of money into political
campaigns and, thus, obligate the elected official to those whose
money elected him. Conservatives said that any restraints would be a
violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.

The same "protectors" of "free speech" had no objection to the Israel
Lobby's passage of the "hate speech" bill, which has criminalized
criticism of Israel's genocidal treatment of the Palestinians and
continuing theft of their lands.

In less than one year, President Obama has betrayed all of his
supporters and broken all of his promises. He is the total captive of
the oligarchy of the ruling interest groups. Unless he is saved by an
orchestrated 9/11-type event, Obama is a one-term president. Indeed,
the collapsing economy will doom him regardless of a "terrorist event."

The Republicans are grooming Palin. Our first female president,
following our first black president, will complete the transition to
an American police state by arresting critics and protesters of
Washington's immoral foreign and domestic policies, and she will
complete the destruction of America's reputation abroad.

Russia's Putin has already compared the US to Nazi Germany, and the
Chinese premier has likened the US to an irresponsible, profligate
debtor.

Increasingly the rest of the world sees the US as the sole source of all
of its problems. Germany has lost the chief of its armed forces and its
defense minister, because the US convinced or pressured, by hook or crook,
the German government to violate its Constitution and to send troops to
fight for Unocal's interest in Afghanistan. The Germans had pretended that
their troops were not really fighting, but were were engaged in a
"peace-keeping operation." This more or less worked until the Germans
called in an air strike that murdered 100 women and children lined up for
a fuel allotment.

The British are investigating their leading criminal, former prime
minister Tony Blair, and his deception of his own cabinet in order to do
Bush's bidding and provide some cover for Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq.
The UK investigators have been denied the ability to bring criminal
charges, but the issue of war based entirely on orchestrated deception and
lies is getting a hearing. It will reverberate throughout the world, and
the world will note that there is no corresponding investigation in the
US, the country that originated the False War.

Meanwhile, the US investment banks, which have wrecked the financial
stability of many governments, including that of the US, continue to
control, as they have done since the Clinton administration, US
economic and financial policy. The world has suffered terribly from
the Wall Street gangsters, and now looks upon America with a
critical eye.

The United States no longer commands the respect it enjoyed under
President Ronald Reagan or President George Herbert Walker Bush. World
polls show that the US and its puppet master are regarded as the two
greatest threats to peace. Washington and Israel outrank on the most
dangerous list the crazy regime in North Korea.

The world is beginning to see America as a country that needs to go
away. When the dollar is over-inflated by a Washington unable to pay
its bills, will the world be motivated by greed and try to save us in
order to save its investments, or will it say, thank God, good riddance.


--------9 of 14--------

The Campaign Cash Behind the Afghanistan Escalation
by Sue Sturgis
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Facing South
Common Dreams

President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech to the nation
tonight from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in which he's
expected to announce he's sending up to 35,000 more U.S. troops to
Afghanistan.

Anti-war groups are already planning protests against the escalation.
United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of more than 1,400 local and
national groups, is holding numerous protest actions around the country
today and tomorrow, as is the anti-war group Code Pink.

Some are calling the president's plan to ratchet up the war a betrayal of
the Democratic base, which overwhelmingly opposes sending more troops. For
example, a recent Gallup poll found that 60% of Democrats want the
president to begin reducing troop levels in Afghanistan.

But while the president may be showing disloyalty to his political base,
he's remaining faithful to the defense industry interests that so
generously funded his campaign.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org database,
the top recipient of defense industry money in the 2008 election cycle was
Barack Obama, whose haul of $1,029,997 far surpassed Republican contender
Sen. John McCain's $696,948.

During the 2008 cycle, the industry contributed a total of $23.7 million
to federal candidates - far more than the $17.4 million it invested
during the 2006 cycle or the $18.1 million in the 2004 cycle.

The top five defense industry contributors during the 2008 elections were
Lockheed Martin at $2.5 million, Boeing at $2.1 million, Northrop Grumman
at $1.8 million, and Raytheon and General Dynamics at $1.7 million each.

And it appears their investment may be paying off: The Associated Press
reports that analyst Howard A. Rubel of the global investment bank
Jefferies & Co. sent out a client note today stating that the fiscal 2010
Defense Department Budget will likely boost demand for precision
munitions, communications gear, helicopters, armor and surveillance
systems.

Among the companies whose stock Rubel rated as "Buy"? General Dynamics and
Northrop Grumman.

-2009 Institute for Southern Studies


--------10 of 14--------

Hope Deflated
Obama as the Manchurian Candidate
By DAVE LINDORFF
November 30, 2009
CounterPunch

I once wrote an article about former President George W. Bush saying that
he was a perfect Manchurian candidate. That is, if his missing year when
he was supposed to have been flying fighter jets with the Texas Air
National Guard was actually spent in the former Soviet Union being
reprogrammed as a covert KGB agent whose job it was to go back to America,
win election to the White House, and proceed to destroy the US, he
couldn't have done a better job than he actually did. Now I wonder whether
President Obama might not be a perfect Manchurian Candidate of the
Republican Party, or perhaps of some nefarious foreign entity - perhaps
the China or the always-enigmatic Al Qaeda. How else to explain policies
that have wreaked such destruction on the Democratic Party in Washington
and on the nation at large?

Consider for a moment the history of this new president in whom so many
invested so much hope and enthusiasm:

Almost immediately upon taking office President Obama announced that he
was appointing Timothy Geithner, part of the Bush/Cheney financial team,
to head up his Treasury Department. This is the same Timothy Geithner who,
as head of the New York Federal Reserve, engineered the initial give-away
of $85 billion to AIG, and the subsequent pass-through of tens of billions
of dollars to a handful of the nation's largest banks and investment banks
- surely the largest theft of public assets by private billionaires in the
history of mankind. Obama went on to name a whole gang of Wall Street
crooks to run his economic policy, assuring that the recession would be
not an opportunity to restore long neglected and undermined New Deal
programs, but rather to crush workers and the middle class while shifting
staggering sums to the wealthy.

This was followed by a deliberate policy of dropping the ball on health
reform, which a vast majority of Americans was clamoring for, and allowing
it to be turned into a giant wet kiss for the insurance industry, whose
stocks have leapt up with each advance of the massive and massively
corrupt health "reform" legislation in Congress. (The ball drop took the
form of Obama simply leaving the whole task of "reforming" health care up
to the Congress, staying on the sidelines while Congress blew the job.)

Then there is the military. Here Obama kicked things off by insuring that
there would be no real change from the Bush/Cheney imperialist scheme by
reappointing to the post of secretary of defense the same guy, Robert
Gates, who was secretary of defense under President Bush. He put the
general formerly in charge of the Iraq War, David Petraeus, in charge of
overall Middle East military operations, and took another Bush-era
general, Stanley McCrystal, who had run special ops in Iraq, in charge of
the Afghanistan War. And since then he has proceeded to ramp up the
Afghanistan War from a small-scale operation to a full-fledged war, with
no prospect of ending it, and every sign pointing to an ever wider and
bigger war in that region, possibly sucking in Pakistan and Iran.

And as for the biggest crisis facing mankind, climate change, this new
president, who because of the collapse of the US auto industry had a
unique opportunity to compel one of the industries most responsible for
the looming global ecological catastrophe to start to fix it by beginning
a massive conversion to development and production of electric vehicles
and mass transit, instead dropped the ball and just provided a taxpayer
bailout with the goal of getting the domestic auto industry back into the
business of cranking out gas guzzlers. The president has provided no
leadership on climate change at all, effectively sabotaging the global
effort to reach a new treaty to limit and cut back on greenhouse gas
emissions this December.

Think about this. If the Republicans had created and inserted into the
Democratic Party a secret candidate designed to trick Democrats into
electing him, so that he could then enact Republican policies of robbing
from the poor to enrich the rich, expanding the military budget to a level
not seen since World War II, putting the nation deeper into a global war
against Islam, sabotaging efforts to combat climate change, and further
deregulating the financial sector, could they have come up with anything
better than Barack Obama?

If Al Qaeda had wanted to insinuate someone into the White House to
further undermine American empire, already on shaky legs during the
Bush/Cheney years, by getting the US to further overextend its military,
further bankrupt its already creaky economy, and further demoralize its
citizens by boosting unemployment and undermining its Constitution, could
Bin Laden & Co. have come up with a better Manchurian Candidate than
Barack Obama?

If China had wanted a candidate to destroy the American currency, bankrupt
the US and its remaining industrial base and leave it helpless and begging
to be bought out by Chinese interests (there is now serious talk of China
buying General Motors), could the country's Communist rulers have done
better than Barack Obama?

Now don't get me wrong. I don't think for a second that Obama is a secret
Republican or a secret Al Qaeda or Chinese operative, though I know that
there are right-wing Tea Baggers out there who sincerely believe the
latter two scenarios (often at the same time!). I think Obama is simply
another slick politician with a giant ego and a shriveled sense of
principle and ethics - a man that is, not unlike most of our political
class, though with better diction and smile, whose interests include
himself, his family, and those who bankroll him, but certainly not you, me
and the country as a whole.

But it might help if we started to think of him in these terms, because
objectively what we have right now in the White House is a president who
is steering the nation towards disaster as surely as if it were his goal
in life.

Because he is a Democrat, and because he talked a good line during the
campaign last year, progressives are disoriented and don't know how to
respond to his massive betrayal of all things progressive. At this rate,
by next fall, we could have a raging full-scale war going on in
Afghanistan, Pakistan in a state of chaos, Iran under attack by Israel or
perhaps by Israel and the US, health reform a forgotten issue, real
unemployment at over 20 percent, the dollar at half the value of the
British pound, and negotiations for a global climate treaty in collapse.
And progressives still will not be mounting any effective protest or
political action.

I'm not sure what the answer is to this crisis. Many people on the left
are arguing that it is essential to abandon the Democrats and move to a
third party. I think that's a great idea. The Democratic Party has proved
to be absolutely corrupt and beyond salvation--useful only as a sump pump
whose purpose is to suck the life out of the progressive movement, such as
it is. But I also can't help noticing that the vast majority of the middle
class seems still content enough to struggle on with the jobs they still
have - the 80-85 percent of them who still have jobs - ignoring the plight
of those who do not and of the poor. It was an observation made by the
late John Kenneth Galbraith that the problem with modern post-industrial
democracies is that the vast majority of people do well enough that they
no longer care about the suffering of the minority of the population.

As long as the ruling elites are able to keep the majority at least
employed and in their homes, they can tighten the screws on the rest with
impunity, and that is the situation we are in today. It is hard to see a
new progressive party succeeding under such circumstances.

What is undeniable is that we are witnessing the systemic and probably
terminal decline of the US as an economic power, and as a military power,
and that is certainly a good thing, if not for Americans, then surely for
the larger world. What is remarkable is watching President Obama, who was
elected by Americans who were hoping he would turn things around, again
and again act to hasten that decline.

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] mindspring.com


--------11 of 14--------

Life is Simple in a Fake Democracy
By Paul Street
December 01, 2009
znet

"Life isn't simple," says the voice of David Brancaccio in the
advertisement for the United States' "Public Broadcasting System's" (PBS')
popular "Frontline" series. "Not in a democracy."

What democracy? Where? The United States?

A democracy is based on the simple principle of majority rule, among other
things.

As of the latest Gallup poll on November 22, 2009, less than half of
Americans would support a White House decision to increase troops in
Afghanistan [1]. This Tuesday, the new U.S. war president Barack Obama
will go on the national airwaves to tell his "fellow Americans" why he
will be considerably increasing the troop levels in Afghanistan anyway. He
will lecture his subjects on why they should get behind his decision.

He won't mention that he gets far more support for his "Af-Pak" war
policies from Republicans than he does from the millions of liberal
Democrats who helped elect him.

He won't say anything about the many tens of thousands of private
contractors - mercenaries working for firms like Xe Services (formerly
known as Blackwater) and DynCorps - he plans to keep deploying at vast
taxpayer expense in Afghanistan [2]

Also off the radar screen of the president's remarks will be the many
hundreds of innocent Pakistani civilians killed by his drastically
escalated "secret" Predator drone war.

By the New Yorker writer Jane Mayer's account, Obama had embraced and
deployed the controversial killer drone program - conducted by the CIA and
(guess who?) Xe Services - with remarkable zest.  "During his first nine
and a half months in office," Mayer notes, "he has authorized as many CIA
aerial attacks in Pakistan as George W. Bush did in his final three years
in office ...So far this year, various estimates suggest, the CIA attacks
have killed between three hundred and twenty-six and five hundred and
thirty-eight people.  Critics say that many of the victims have been
innocent bystanders."

The first two Predator assaults of the Obama administration occurred on
the morning of January 23, 2009 - the future Nobel Peace Prize winner's
third day in office.  The second drone-hit ordered by the "peace"
president on that day mistakenly targeted the residence of a
pro-government tribal leader, killing his entire family, including three
children. "In keeping with U.S. policy, there was no official
acknowledgement of either strike." Thanks to the program's official
concealment, "there is no viable system of accountability in place,
despite the fact that the agency has killed many civilians inside a
politically fragile, nuclear-armed country with which the U.S. is not at
war." [3] The CIA drone program is an officially non-existent U.S. secret
and honored as such by the Obama administration, as is the non-fact that
Israel is a heavily nuclear-armed state [4].

War is Peace, Love is Hate. Ignorance is Strength.

Here is some more interesting, simple, and officially irrelevant opinion
data, also from this year:

* 59 percent of Americans support a single-payer government health
insurance system (CBS/New York Times poll, January 2009)

* 65 percent of Americans respond affirmatively to the following question:
"Would you favor the government offering everyone a
government-administered health insurance plan - something like the
Medicare coverage that people 65 and over get - that would compete with
private health insurance plans?" (CBS/New York Times, September 23, 2009).

* Just 7 percent of the American people find health insurance companies to
be "generally honest and trustworthy."  The trust rates are even worse for
managed care companies/HMOs (5 percent) and not much better (11 percent)
for pharmaceutical and drug companies (Harris Poll November 2007)

* 71 percent of Americans feel that we need "fundamental changes" or to
have the U.S. health system "completely re-built," compared to just 24
percent who wish only for "minor changes" (Pew Research Center, 2009).

So what?  Despite this clear majority opinion data, the most that a
Democratic president (Obama) and a majority Democratic Congress will offer
in terms of an alternative to the nation's disastrous corporate-run health
care system is a strictly limited, deeply conservative version of "the
public option". one that would be available only to those without access
to private insurance and only in certain states. The fake-progressive
Obama has been reported to prefer a "public option" with a "trigger,"
meaning a small and weak program for the otherwise uninsured that would
only be activated at some time in the future, if it was determined that
the private insurers had failed to meet certain benchmarks.

There is nothing in the corporatist health "reform" legislation that Obama
is hoping to sign to lead us to question the wisdom of Business Week's
candid judgment more than a month prior to the speech:  "The Health
Insurers Have Already Won."  "The industry," Business Week writers Chad
Terhune and Keith Epstein matter-of-factly concluded in the first week of
August 2009, "has already accomplished its goal of at least curbing, and
maybe blocking any new publicly administered insurance program that could
grab market share from the corporations that dominate the business." [5]

And "dominate policy," in cold defiance of public opinion, Terhune and
Epstein might have added - a curious reflection on life in the "world's
greatest democracy."

The Obama-Pelosi Democrats' overly complex and corporate-captive "health
reform" efforts are a great gift to their "frenemies" atop the big
insurance and drug corporations and those firms' Wall Street investors.
Those companies and investors gave a record-setting amount of campaign
cash to the president and fellow Democrats during the 2008 election cycle.
The political money was invested with the explicit purpose of undermining
any chances for significant progressive health reform in 2009 and 2010.

When Obama gives a big speech claiming to be the first president to have
passed real health reform in the U.S., we can be sure, he won't say
anything about the following comments he made as a state senator in the
early summer of 2003 to the Illinois AFL-CIO:

"I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care
program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest
country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross
National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to
everybody. And that's what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in,
nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan.
And that's what I'd like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get
there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we
have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House." [6]

This remarkable statement was made just prior Obama's realization that he
had a serious shot at national office - a realization that sharpened his
willingness to subordinate himself to what Edward S. Herman and David
Peterson Peterson call "the unelected dictatorship of money." That
behind-the-scenes tyranny "vets the nominees of the Republican and
Democratic parties, reducing the options available to U.S. citizens to two
candidates, neither of whom can change the foreign or domestic priorities
of the imperial U.S. regime." [7]

Speaking of imperial priorities, Obama's record-setting "defense" (empire)
budget and related colonial war expansion in South Asia has rewarded the
giant military industrial complex, including leading political investors
and Obama supporters like General Dynamics and Boeing. . Unlike the
Administration's "health reform," Washington's war spending is unburdened
with the requirement that it (as Obama promised in his health care speech
to a joint session of Congress in September) "not add a dime to the
federal deficit."

This is despite the immaterial, extraneous and academic fact that a large
majority of Americans has long favored significantly reducing "defense"
(empire) spending and significantly increasing spending on meeting health
care and other human and social needs. The people's longstanding support
for a peace dividend continues to be largely irrelevant - a great
testament to the spirit of popular governance in the homeland and
headquarters of global freedom.

Maybe "life" is simple in the United States' "dollar democracy."  Ever
watch "P"BS' nightly "News Hour"? The spectrum of acceptable debate
permitted on the show's "in-depth" coverage and "expert" commentary is
about 99.6 percent within the narrow parameters of the bipartisan
corporate-neoliberal and military consensus.  Corporate funding is part of
the reason. Each "News Hour" episode begins with a few minutes of
propagandistic advertising by the high-tech corporate, military, and
petro-chemical likes of Chevron ("Human Energy: Finding Newer, Cleaner
Ways to Power the World"), Boeing ("Our Story is Evolving"), Intel,
Monsanto ("We Help Farmers Around the World Produce more While Conserving
More"), BNSF ("The Cleaner Road Ahead"), Toyota ("We See Beyond Cars"),
and Wells Fargo Investments ("Working to Strengthen Our Communities"),
along with short ads from such well-heeled, corporate-underwritten
"non-profits" as the Bill and Melinda Gates and the John D. and Catherine
T. MacArthur foundations. Private is public. Love is hate...

It's like the old working-class adage goes: "money talks, bullshit walks."
There's nothing complex about it. Guess it's not "a democracy."

Paul Street (paulstreet99 [at] yahoo.com)is the author of many articles,
chapters, speeches, and books, including Racial Oppression in the Global
Metropolis (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), Empire and Inequality:
America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004), Segregated
Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York:
Routledge, 2005); and Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics
(Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008).

NOTES

1. Gallup, November 25, 2009 at
http://www.gallup.com/poll/124490/In-U.S.-More-Support-Increasing-Troops-Afghanistan.aspx

2. "As of 30 June," 2009, The Guardian (UK) reported last September,
"there were nearly 74,000 military contractors - including 5,165 armed
private security guards - in Afghanistan, far outnumbering the roughly
58,000 US troops in the country."  See Eric Stoner, "Guards Gone Wild,"
The Guardian, September 4, 2009 (read at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/sep/04/afghanistan-embassy-guards-abuse),
detailing massive "out-of-control"  behavior on part of the private
contractors.

3. Jane Mayer, "The Predator War," The New Yorker (October 26, 2009), pp.
36-38.

4. Eli Lake, "Obama Agree to Keep Israel's Nukes Secret," Washington
Times, October 2, 2009, read at
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/oct/02/president-obama-has-reaffirmed-a-4-decade-old-secr/

5. Chad Terhune and Keith Epstein, "The Health Insurers Have Already Won,"
Business Week (August 6, 2009), read at
http://www.businessweek.com/print/magazine/content/09_33/b4143034820260.htm

6. "Obama on Single Payer Health Insurance," June 30, 2003, YouTube video
clip at http://www.1payer.net/All-Videos/obama-on-single-payer.html. See
also YouTube link at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpAyan1fXCE

7. Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, "Riding the .Green Wave' at the
Campaign for Peace and Democracy and Beyond," Electric Politics, July 22,
2009.


--------12 of 14--------

To the Point!
The Courage of our Convictions
by Senator John Marty
November 30, 2009

If 21st Century Progressives led the 19th Century Abolition Movement,
we'd still have slavery, but we'd have limited it to 40 hour work weeks,
and we'd be so proud of the progress we'd made.

In earlier eras of U.S. history, progressives believed they could fight
injustice and move society forward, and they did so. Today however, many
progressives have lost faith in their ability to affect significant
change. Many are content simply to tinker with problems, whether the
issue is getting living wages for work, ending poverty, or removing
toxins from our food supply.

For example, consider universal health care. All progressives claim to
support this, but many aren't willing to fight for it - not because
they believe it's bad policy, but because they believe it is
"politically unrealistic." When our proposed Minnesota Health Plan is
offered as a way to deliver universal health care, some dismiss it as
legislation that can't happen for decades. They talk about universal
health care but offer and support proposals that are mere band-aids.

It is instructive to look back to the past. Despite the reality that men
were the only ones who held office and the only ones who could vote,
suffragettes fought and won the seemingly impossible goal of gaining the
right to vote. In the 1960's civil rights activists believed they could
get rid of segregation laws and get equal rights under the law. When
told they were expecting change to occur too rapidly, Martin Luther King
wrote a book explaining, "Why We Can't Wait."

Today, however, regardless of the speed of other changes in society,
many progressives have lost hope. For them, such a book would now be
titled, "Why We Need to be Pragmatic and Accept Token Change."

This timidity can be explained by decades of defeat at the hands of
right wing politicians like Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove, which caused
many progressives to retreat from a "Politics of Principle" to a
supposed "Politics of Pragmatism" that is not only lacking in courage,
but also has been highly ineffective.

Under the politics of principle, the progressive movement would fight
for the goal, using pragmatic politics only to figure out how to promote
the message.

But with the current politics of misguided pragmatism, some progressives
calculate what is politically acceptable, and then determine what they
will stand for. For example, using this "pragmatism," President Obama
decided to push for health insurance for more instead of health care for
all .

One cannot totally fault the President for failing to push for
comprehensive reform. He shied away from principle-based reform because
he knows that members of Congress working on health reform take big
campaign contributions from the health insurance lobby and other
powerful interests. He knows that they are afraid of nasty campaign
attacks and believe they need the big money to win reelection.

"Pragmatically," Democrats in Washington are pushing for "universal"
health care that isn't universal. They are pushing for reforms that cost
more, not less, and policies that focus more on their sense of
pragmatism than on real public health and prevention.

It's time for progressives to have the courage of our convictions. If we
claim to believe in universal health care, we need to fight for it. The
MN Health Plan - which covers everyone for all their medical needs, and
costs less than we are spending now - is on the table. Those who are
not willing to take on the powerful insurance lobby, ought to be honest
and admit that reelection and other priorities matter more.

Refusing to fight for it because it is "not politically realistic"
becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Likewise, dismissing it as something
that will take decades to pass means leaving the problem to the next
generation.

Whether the issue is living wages for workers, environmental protection,
or LGBT equality, many progressives have lost courage. They fight to
raise the minimum wage by fifty cents for every dollar that inflation
takes away. Even in victory, we accomplish little.

It is time to move beyond fear and stand up for the principles we say we
believe in. Minnesotans deserve nothing less.
[Amen -ed]

  _____

To the Point!  is published by the Apple Pie Alliance.
www.apple-pie.org <http://www.apple-pie.org/> .  If you know others who
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[The DFL "be reasonable" hacks will ridicule John Marty's run for
governor. Get real! they will sneer. Then they will propose to us
sleazebags and puppets, slimeballs and liars, jackels and snakes - because
only such can as they see it pass the gate manned by the rich and
corporations.  You want someone as corrupt as the system, they will say,
someone who won't piss off the rich whom we all serve on our knees.
Well, we've been doing lesser evil for decades, and look where it's gotten
us. Lesser evil is the greater evil. Time to work for what we want, not
"what will fly". -ed]


--------13 of 14--------

 Alien termites
 eat White House, Pentagon. World
 rejoices. Hooray!

 Alien termites
 eat White House, Pentagon. (Our
 prayers have been answered!)

 Alien termites
 eat White House, Pentagon. Three
 cheers for the termites!

 Alien termites
 eat White House, Pentagon. World
 smiles sings laughs dances.


--------14 of 14--------

                            -----------------
                             HONK if you've
                            HAD IT with OBAMA
                            -----------------

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   - David Shove             shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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