|Progressive Calendar 12.05.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sat, 5 Dec 2009 07:30:59 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 12.05.09 1. Peace walk 12.05 9am Cambridge MN 2. Golden girl homes 12.05 9am 3. Trade justice 12.05 11am 4. Morales studio 12.05 12noon 5. End Af war demo 12.05 1pm 6. CUAPB 12.05 1:30pm 7. Northtown vigil 12.05 2pm 8. Wild/scenic/films 12.05 7pm 9. Davidov/Masters 12.05 7pm 10. FightBack! paper 12.05 7pm 11. PC Roberts - The twin frauds of Obama 12. Alex Cockburn - War cries from a defeated man 13. Gary Olson - Change we can believe in? 14. Dave Lindorff - Obama's illegal Afghan war/ epicenter of mendacity 15. Glenn Greenwald - America's regression 16. John Halle - Nader v Dodd? Run, Ralph, run 17. Jim Goodman - Obama's broken promises to family farmers 18. ed - On our own --------1 of 18-------- From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Peace walk 12.05 9am Cambridge MN every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street --------2 of 18-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: Golden girl homes 12.05 9am December 5: Golden Girl Homes, Inc. Holiday Bazaar. Over 20 vendors offering homemade doll clothes, vintage gifts, jewelry, purses, luxurious scarves, English tea items, baked goods, silent auction items, and more. A portion of the proceeds from the bazaar will be donated to Golden Girl Homes, Inc., a non-profit organization that works with single women interested in exploring shared-housing options as a way to create and sustain financial stability and intentional communities. 9 AM - Noon at The Wellington Assisted Living, 2235 Rockwood Avenue, St. Paul. --------3 of 18-------- From: Minnesota Fair Trade Campaign <aranney [at] citizenstrade.org> Subject: Trade justice 12.05 11am March and Rally for Trade Justice Join your fellow trade activists in marching to the UAW Local 879 hall where we will hold a rally for Trade Justice. We'll have food, music, art, puppets, speakers and more. At the hall, you'll learn more about how failed trade agreements like NAFTA have impacted jobs, environment, family farms and about the movement for a fair global economy and ways you can take action. When: 11:00am Gathering at the East Parking lot of Minnehaha Falls Park. 11:30am March to the UAW Local 879 Hall. 12:00pm - 2pm Hot lunch and rally at the UAW Local 879 Hall. Directions: Minnehaha Falls Park: East end parking lot at the corner of Godfrey and 46th Avenue). UAW Local 879 Hall: 2191 Ford Parkway, St Paul, MN 55116 A shuttle will be available to bring folks back to their cars after the rally. --------4 of 18-------- From: ricardo <ricardo [at] rlmarts.com> Subject: Morales studio opens 12.05 12noon I'm pleased to announce and invite you to the Grand Opening/Open House/Poster Sale at my new Art Studio/storefront/movement art center! This is the headquarters from which I will carry on the labor movement and social justice artistic work that I pursued for many years at the (late) Northland Poster Collective. The Studio is at 3745 Minnehaha Ave in Minneapolis, and occupies a storefront in the building of IUE/CWA Local 1140. The event will be held on Saturday, December 5th, noon-6pm and Sunday, December 6th, noon-5pm A special welcome and performances by True Mutiny, Chastity Brown and Leo and Kathy Lara will take place at 3pm on Sunday. Refreshments provided. The will be a sale all weekend. To view flyer: www.ricardolevinsmorales.com Ricardo Levins Morales RLM Art Studio 3745 Minnehaha Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55006 USA (612) 455-2242 X5 www.rlmarts.com --------5 of 18-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: End Af war demo 12.05 1pm Emergency Response to Escalation of the U.S. War in Afghanistan: No Escalation - Bring the Troops Home Now! End the War in Afghanistan! Saturday, December 5, 1:00 p.m. Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue South, Minneapolis. Twin Cities antiwar groups will respond to an escalation in the war against Afghanistan. The U.S. war and occupation of Afghanistan has nothing to do with fighting terrorism or for human rights. The war has always been about the U.S. control of the emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East, especially oil and gas resources. Activists in the Twin Cities and other cities across the U.S. plan to make opposition to any escalation of the war visible by taking to the streets. All are encouraged to come out this Saturday to have a visible antiwar presence along the sidewalks of one of the most heavily trafficked streets in Minneapolis. Sponsored by: Iraq Peace Action Coalition. Endorsed by: the Anti-War Committee and WAMM. --------6 of 18-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com> Subject: CUAPB 12.05 1:30pm Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue South http://www.CUAPB.org Communities United Against Police Brutality 3100 16th Avenue S Minneapolis, MN 55407 Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867) --------7 of 18-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 12.05 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------8 of 18-------- From: Margaret Levin <margaret.levin [at] sierraclub.org> Subject: Wild/scenic/films 12.05 7pm Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival Saturday, December 5 - 7:00 p.m. Cowles Auditorium, U of M Humphrey Center 301 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis The Wild and Scenic festival features a selection of environmental films that will inspire viewers to make a difference. Features address topics including clean air and global warming; protecting roadless areas; and hardrock (sulfide) mining. Sponsored by Patagonia, Midwest Mountaineering, and the Sierra Club North Star Chapter. Visit http://northstar.sierraclub.org <http://northstar.sierraclub.org/> for more information and film descriptions. Tickets are $10 and advance purchase is recommended. Tickets can be purchased at Midwest Mountaineering, online at http://www.midwestmtn.com/ticketsale.php ($3 service fee), or at the door. Proceeds will benefit the Sierra Club North Star Chapter. http://northstar.sierraclub.org <http://northstar.sierraclub.org/> . --------9 of 18-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Davidov/Masters 12.05 7pm Marv Davidov and Carol Masters Publication Party and Reading: You Can't Do That Saturday, December 5, 7:00 p.m. Bohlander Arts, 3011 36th Avenue South, Minneapolis. Activist Marv Davidov and his biographer Carol Masters discuss his biography, You Can't Do That: Marv Davidov, Non- Violent Revolutionary. "In this full-length biography, we follow the career of Marv Davidov from his years in the Army (he received an honorable discharge 'for the good of the army'), living among the Beats on the U of M campus, participating in the Freedom Rides that helped bring racial integration to the American South, and on to the rallies, conferences and demonstrations in Minnesota, serving to raise public awareness of locally-manufactured bombs and weapons designed to kill and maim. 'I write good letters from prison,' says Davidov, who has been arrested 50 times for acts of civil disobedience'" - book description. Biographer Carol Masters is a long time anti-war activist and writer and serves on the Board of WAMM. Refreshment will be available. Endorsed by: WAMM. --------10 of 18-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: FightBack! newspaper 12.05 7pm FightBack! Newspaper Fundraising Party Saturday, December 5, 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Sarah Martin's House, 622 8th Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis. Join others at a fundraising party for FightBack! newspaper. Ripped from the Headlines! There will be short presentations from some of the great fighters in local people's struggles: Rosemary Williams, who set a national example of how to fight back against foreclosures, and Sami Rasouli, from the Muslim Peacemakers Team in Iraq, will speak, along with fighters from the student, anti-war, labor, immigrant, and poor people's movements. There will be a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, salty snacks and homemade desserts. Donations accepted. Endorsed by: WAMM. --------11 of 18-------- Afghanistan and Elkhart, Indiana The Twin Frauds of Obama By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS CounterPunch December 4-6, 2009 Goldman Sachs senior executives are arming themselves with New York gun permits, according to Alice Schroeder on Bloomberg.com. The banksters "are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank". One can understand why the banksters are worried. The company, now known as Gold Sacks, has a large responsibility for the financial crisis and the fraudulent "securities" that wrecked the world economy and Americans' pensions. A former Gold Sachs CEO had control of the US Treasury during the Bush regime from which he diverted $750 billion to bail out the banks, thus supplying them with free capital. Gold Sachs made $27,000 million during the first three quarters of 2009 and is paying out massive bonuses, leaving the busted taxpayers with the debt and interest charges. Little wonder the US can't afford health care for the uninsured and unemployed. It is far more important to finance multi-million dollar bonuses for investment bankers. I mean, what would we do without capitalism? Of course, it is not really capitalism. It is an oligarchy or a financial plutocracy. In a failed state, the government's priorities are totally separate from those of the people. The US can't afford health care or a bailout for jobless homeowners, but it can afford a pointless war and multi-million dollar bonuses for banksters who wrecked the economy. Millions of laid-off workers lost their health insurance subsidies on December 1, the day President Obama announced a $30 billion "surge" in Afghanistan. The expensive "surge" came 24 hours after the Detroit Free Press published a 127-page supplement of home foreclosures in its metro area. In Michigan 48 per cent of mortgages are on properties that are worth less than the loan, according to a report from First American CoreLogic. As bad as it is in Michigan, the state ranks seventh in foreclosures, so six states are in even more dire straits. Why does President Obama think the US can afford a war in Afghanistan when the US economy is falling apart? Massive joblessness. Massive homelessness. Millions of Americans without medical care. The additional $30 billion for the war comes on top of the $65 billion already appropriated for the year. These appropriations are always fattened with supplementary appropriations. The true cost is well in excess of $100,000,000,000. Whose going to pay for it? Democratic Representative David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee proposes to raise income taxes on everyone earning more than $30,000. This is called "trickle-up" economics. You tax the little guy and give the money to the armaments companies. There was a time when Democratic presidents represented the little man, and Republicans represented business. Today both parties represent the moneyed interests. On December 3 at the jobs summit with business leaders, Obama said, "We don't have enough public dollars to fill the hole of private dollars that was created as a consequence of the crisis". In other words, all the public's money has been spent on the banks and the wars. Despite Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and the ease with which Obama won the presidential election over McCain/Palin, the Democratic Party has totally collapsed. The Democrats have abandoned every constituency. Democrats have discarded the American people. Democrats, in pursuit of campaign contributions, represent the moneyed interests on Wall Street, the munitions companies, the insurance companies, the agri-businesses that have destroyed independent farmers, despoilers of the environment, unaccountable police, and the builders of detention centers. The exception is Rep. Dennis Kucinich. The Democrats have become brownshirt Republicans. The American people, except for the one percent of super-rich, have been abandoned. Obama had a different message during the presidential campaign. On May 4, 2008, he went to Elkhart, Indiana, to sympathize with the unemployed. On February 9, 2009, just after his inauguration, he returned to Elkhart to say: "You know, we tend to take the measure of the economic crisis we face in numbers and statistics. But when we say we've lost 3.6 million jobs since this recession began - nearly 600,000 in the past month alone; when we say that this area has lost jobs faster than anywhere else in America, with an unemployment rate over 15 percent; when we talk about layoffs at companies like Monaco Coach, Keystone RV, and Pilgrim International - companies that have sustained this community for years - we're talking about Ed Neufeldt and people like him all across this country. "We're talking about folks who've lost their livelihood and don't know what will take its place. Parents who've lost their health care and lie awake nights praying the kids don't get sick. Families who've lost the home that was their corner of the American dream. Young people who put that college acceptance letter back in the envelope because they just can't afford it. "That's what those numbers and statistics mean. That is the true measure of this economic crisis. Those are the stories I heard when I came here to Elkhart six months ago and that I have carried with me every day since. I promised you back then that if were elected President, I would do everything I could to help this community recover. And that's why I've come back today - to tell you how I intend to keep that promise". [end Obama] What's the story in Elkhart 9 months after President Obama reaffirms his promise? "Long-term unemployed face dwindling options". Lawrie Covey, 58, has been out of work for two years. "I can't even get a job cleaning rooms at a local motel". Her son, who was night shift foreman for a local manufacturer and who lost his job after eight years, was splitting the rent. Winter is upon them, and the heating bill is rising. Their transportation is 20 years old and needs a new radiator. Both her and her son's unemployment benefits have run out. Lawrie Covey has fallen back on her experience growing up on a firm. She is raising chickens and picking wild mushrooms and has a garden. If she makes it through the winter, she hopes to get a couple of baby pigs to raise to see them through the next year. Lawrie Covey, to whom President Obama made a promise could just as well be an Afghan peasant. She doesn't count any more than the thousands of Afghans who have been murdered in their sleep by US air strikes on "terrorists". She voted for a president who spent all the money on wars based in lies and deceptions and on Gold Sacks, the richest institution in the world. Obama is loading up the poor with enormous debts that imply hyperinflation in order to make Gold Sacks too heavy to lift and in order to reward the munitions industry for its service to world peace and American hegemony. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. His new book, How the Economy was Lost, will be published next month by AK Press / CounterPunch. He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts [at] yahoo.com --------12 of 18-------- War Cries From a Defeated Man By ALEXANDER COCKBURN CounterPunch December 4-6, 2009 Ritual trumphalism about America's righteous mission in the closing sentences of his speech did not dispel the distinct impression during President Obama's 33-minute address to cadets at West Point Tuesday night that we were listening to a man defeated by the challenge of justifying the dispatch of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Contrary to the hackneyed references to his "soaring rhetoric", the speech was earth-bound and mechanically delivered. Obama didn't make the case and he pleased few. The liberals seethed as they heard him say that it is "in our vital national interest" to send 30,000 more troops to a mission they regard as doomed from the getgo. The cheers of the right at the news of the deployment died in their throats as they heard his next line, "After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home". No mature American, seasoned in the ineradicable graft flourishing down the decades in every major American city, believes a pledge that corruption will be banished from Afghanistan in a year and a half, or that Karzai has any credibility as the wielder of the cleansing broom. Each proposition of Obama's rationale collapses at the first prod, starting with the comparison with the conclusion of America's mission in Iraq. It's taken as axiomatic in Washington that the "surge" in Iraq worked - that the extra troops demanded of President Bush by General Petraeus turned the tide. But what truly turned the tide in Iraq was the victory of the Shi'a in Baghdad and other major cities in their bloody civil war with the Sunni, the majority of whose fighters then saw they had no alternative but to forge an alliance with the hated occupiers and garland the tanks they had been trying to blow up only weeks earlier. Prime Minister Maliki has at his disposal a large and seemingly loyal army and extensive trained militia and police force to sustain and guard the Iraqi state. The Afghan army is rag-tag, barely trained, mostly illiterate and rife with desertion - disproportionately manned and commanded by Tajiks whom the Pashtuns despise. The police depend for their living on bribes. As Professor Juan Cole points out, "the entire province of Qunduz north of the capital only has 800 police for a population of nearly a million. In contrast, the similarly-sized San Francisco has over 2,000 police officers and rather fewer armed militants". Core to Obama's argument for intervention is the claim he made at West Point that the fundamental objective of destroying Al Qaida can only be achieved by destroying their hosts, the Taliban and that this enterprise requires more troops. But there is evidence that across the recent months of infighting over America's options, Obama and his White House national security advisers themselves had no confidence in this proposition. In the struggle between the White House and General McChrystal, the Pentagon and its Defense Secretary Robert Gates (a holdover from the Bush years) Obama's security adviser Gen. James Jones mooted to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post the question of why al Qaeda would want to move out of its present sanctuary in Pakistan to the uncertainties of Afghanistan. McChrystal promptly struck back in his London speech to the Institute of Strategic Studies: When the Taliban has success, "that provides sanctuary from which al Qaeda can operate transnationally." Days later the New York Times reported that "senior administration officials" were saying privately that Obama's national security team was now "arguing that the Taliban in Afghanistan do not pose a direct threat to the United States". Detailing this semi-covert struggle, the Washington-based national security analyst argued here on the CounterPunch site last Wednesday that Obama was boxed in by an alliance of Gates and Secretary of State Clinton plus McChrystal and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in "a textbook demonstration of how the national security apparatus ensures that its policy preference on issues of military force prevail in the White House". Though Porter makes a decent case, this is giving too much comfort to those disconsolate but ever hopeful liberals arguing that there really is a "good Obama" battling away against the darker forces. In a larger time-frame, if anyone boxed himself in on Afghanistan it was Obama who spent a lot of the campaign last year seeking to deflect McCain's charges that he was a quitter on Iraq, by proclaiming that America's true battlefield lay in Afghanistan. There were other unusual down-key notes in the speech. Obama is probably the first president of the United States to declare flatly that "we can't simply afford to ignore the price of these wars. That's why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended: because the nation that I'm most interested in building is our own". Contrast that to the budgetary bravado of President Kennedy proclaiming in his inaugural address in 1961 that "we shall pay any price, bear any burden - in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty". In the wake of the speech - particularly after polls showing that it had failed to increase prowar sentiment - the Democrats were glum, well aware that they will be saddled with an unpopular war through the 2010 midterm elections and that Obama will unhesitatingly turn to Republicans in Congress to get the necessary vote for the money to finance the widening war. From the left came pledges to revive the antiwar movement, dormant these past two years. There are hurt cries from prominent pwogs such as Tom Hayden who now vows he will strip the Obama sticker off his car. Maybe so. Our sense here at CounterPunch is that Lady Macbeth would get those damned spots off her hands far quicker than American progressives will purge themselves of Obamaphilia. At least the American political landscape is offering some pleasing spectacles. On Wednesday came tidings of a right-left alliance in Congress, challenging the reappointment of Ben Bernanke for a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve, a slap in the face not only for Bernanke but for Obama. In demanding a hold on Bernanke's reappointment, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said, "The American people overwhelmingly voted last year for a change in our national priorities to put the interests of ordinary people ahead of the greed of Wall Street and the wealthy few. What the American people did not bargain for was another four years for one of the key architects of the Bush economy". The president could scarcely exult publicly at one piece of good news, since it comes at the expense of the lives of four police officers, in Tacoma, Washington, shot dead by Maurice Clemmons, an apparent madman who had a very lengthy prison sentence commuted nine years ago by Mike Huckabee when the latter was governor of Arkansas. Huckabee's pardons were estimable and prompted praise from CounterPunch's editors last year as unique exhibitions of courage in the grotesque penal climate in America today. To his credit Huckabee is standing by his reason for pardoning Clemmons - that a ninety-plus year sentence had been a grotesque sentence to give a teenager. But the prospects of him winning the Republican nomination in 2012 have now shriveled, sparing Obama a witty and resourceful opponent. Obama is no doubt more comfortable with the thought that his opponent might conceivably be Sarah Palin, the woman who is the progressives' alibi for not having to focus on their pathetic illusions about Obama. He didn't deceive them on the campaign trail, if they'd been ready to listen closely. He pledged a war in Afghanistan and now he's cashing that promise. He didn't fool them. They fooled themselves, a far more culpable offense. Alexander Cockburn can be reached at alexandercockburn [at] asis.com --------13 of 18-------- Change We Can Believe In? by Gary Olson Dissident Voice December 4th, 2009 In the 2009 film The Messenger, we follow two officers from the Casualty Notification Office from Fort Dix, New Jersey as they knock on doors to inform relatives of loved ones recently killed in action in Iraq. These scenes are almost unbearable to watch as we witness the reactions to this heartbreaking news. It struck me that these emotionally affecting scenes on screen are as as close as most of us get to the grim reality of war. With Obama's massive troop escalation he's made Afghanistan his war, reminiscent of President Johnson's Vietnam War escalation. At the current death rate of 500 soldiers per year the events depicted in the film will soon become a shattering reality for many more Americans. And next year Obama will spend some $65 billion on Afghanistan, more than for the Iraq war. Afghanistan, the "Graveyard of Empires," is this administration's most egregious failing and is now fated to define Obama's legacy. Beyond Afghanistian, maintaining permanent military bases and large garrisons in Iraq, allowing Israel to evade a just two state peace with the Palestinians, clandestine Blackwater (now Xe services) assassins roaming around Pakistan, the killing of hundreds of Pakistani civilians by CIA Predator drone attacks ("warheads on foreheads" in CIA lingo) authorized by Obama early in his tenure, and a continuing U.S. military build-up in Colombia under the guise of a phony "war on drugs," are also on the list. A one-year litany of domestic disappointments could be captured by a bumper sticker reading "the audacity of hopelessness". After handing over almost $3 trillion to bankers we have a jobless "economic recovery," an official 10.2 percent unemployment rate which is actually 16.5 percent, the number of home foreclosures continues to rise and a country in which one in four children only manage to keep hunger pangs at bay because of food stamps and soup kitchens. In the face of this situation Obama's first stimulus package was pitifully small and while it did "save" some jobs it wasn't nearly enough for serious job creation. Obama's professed support for helping workers to unionize evaporated shortly after his inauguration. And under Obama's watch, as noted by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, "Even as tens of millions of working Americans are struggling to hang onto their jobs and keep a roof over their families' heads, the wise guys of Wall Street are licking their fat-cat chops over yet another round of obscene multibillion dollar bonuses - this time thanks to the bailout billions that were sent their way by Uncle Sam .. The nine largest banks are distributing $32.6 billion in bonuses. But given the jobs crisis and depression-like situation confronting tens of millions of our fellow citizens, Obama found a record-breaking $664 billion for the Pentagon for fiscal 2010. Finally, Obama and many Democrats quickly abandoned government single-payer national health insurance - the only plausible solution to our healthcare crisis - caving to the predatory for-profit private health insurance lobbyists. (Note: These lobbyists gave $1.8 million to 18 key members of Congress.) For those who worked and voted for Obama, especially younger folks, all of this must be a bitter pill to swallow, a giant step backward toward disillusionment and cynicism. I prefer to interpret it as a necessary and valuable lesson in electoral illusions for those truly serious about making this a better country: Obama, a brilliant and charismatic politician, was always a conservative corporate Democrat, a self-described believer in "the free market," and an enthusiastic accommodator to the rich and powerful. In the words of one pundit, Obama is Clinton without the sleaze. He would never have been given a favorable vetting by the financial elites who choose our presidential candidates if he represented the slightest threat to their domestic interests and global empire. By the way, the latter includes 800 military bases in 130 countries. According to historian and political analyst Paul Street, the Obama campaign set new corporate fundraising efforts, including nearly $1 million from Goldman Sachs. Street has been uncannily prescient about Obama from the start and I recommend his book, Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Paradigm, 2008). In short, aside from some crafty rhetoric Obama was never a social justice populist and viewing him that way always contained a massive dose of wishful thinking. In that narrow sense, Obama has been entirely consistent and didn't really betray anyone. More and more Americans are wise to the fact that because Democrats and Republicans are virtually indistinguishable on the issues that matter most, the "change we can believe in" will not be forthcoming from these two business parties. Short term we need a mobilized and vocal movement from below that dramatically increases the political costs for those resisting needed reforms. Longer term, we need systemic change, change in the class structure of capitalism. Until and unless workers who produce all the goods and services in our society participate in making the major economic policy decisions - to run the economy democratically - we will only be tinkering with a system that primarily serves those who own it. We need a new broad-based political party that actually responds to the genuine grievances and aspirations of ordinary working people and youth. [Amen. Take the 12-step-cure for Demoholism. -ed] Gary Olson is Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science, Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA. He can be reached at: olson [at] moravian.edu. --------14 of 18-------- Obama's Illegal War on Afghanistan The Epicenter of Mendacity By DAVE LINDORFF CounterPunch December 4-6, 2009 Nobody in the corporate media mentions it, but the war in Afghanistan which President Barack Obama just ramped up by 50% this year, with the dispatch, first of 17,000 troops last spring and now with another 30,000 troops, to begin deployment on Christmas, is being fought on the shaky legal basis of a hastily passed Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) voted by Congress back in October 2001, more than three years before Obama was even elected to the Senate. That AUMF was the handiwork of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and it was rammed through House and Senate with almost no debate in the wake of the 9-11 attacks and then used to justify most of the subsequent assaults on the Constitution and Bill of Rights that are still haunting America and the world today. While Congress saw the 2001 AUMF as an authorization to launch an attack on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan (an attack that quickly toppled the Taliban government, but that famously failed to crush Al Qaeda, thanks to its being called off half a year later so troops could be shifted to a new war in the making against Iraq), Bush and Cheney interpreted it as a :declaration of war" in a "global war on terror," which they claimed had no border, no end, and which they even tried to claim extended to within the boundaries of the US. So anxious were Bush and Cheney to be permanent wartime generalissimos, unfettered by Constitutional constraints, that just minutes before the measure went to the Senate for a vote, according to then Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, they sought to add the words "in the United States" after the phrase "appropriate force" in the language of the resolution. As Daschle, who wisely refused their request, notes, "This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas - where we all understood he wanted authority to act - but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens". The point though, is that the 2001 AUMF was in fact an authorization to use military force to go after terrorism. It was not an authorization to conduct a full-scale war against another nation, or to become enmeshed in a civil war in another nation, which is what is going on in Afghanistan today. That, in fact, is why even Bush felt he needed a second AUMF to authorize his invasion of Iraq. President Obama is trying to finesse this by falsely claiming, with a straight face, that Afghanistan is part of the "epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda" in the world. He is deliberately trying - and getting full support from the complicit corporate media - to conflate the Taliban with Al Qaeda to justify his absurd claim, too, by also falsely claiming in his speech that several unnamed "extremists" have been apprehended in the US who were sent here recently from some ill-defined terror central inside of Afghanistan. The truth is that not one act of terrorism outside of Afghanistan has been attributed to the Taliban of Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban, while admittedly a brutal, reactionary, fundamentalist group of militant Islamists, are not global jihadis bent on wreaking havoc in the Western world or even in the rest of the Islamic world. They are a domestic Afghan military and political movement that is seeking to return to power in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda, the organization that was the target of the Congressional AUMF resolution in 2001, has long since abandoned Afghanistan for safer, greener pastures. This being the case, Obama's war in Afghanistan, and especially his decision to intensify it dramatically, is being conducted illegally, without any actual authorization from Congress, as required by the Constitution. If the president wants to mire the US further and more deeply in a civil war in Afghanistan at this point, aimed at defeating the Taliban in that country, he should at least be required to obtain a new resolution in Congress authorization that action. As a constitutional lawyer, this president knows that he is acting illegally, which is why he was so careful in his speech to West Point cadets on Tuesday to make the bogus claim that Afghanistan remains the epicenter of terrorism. But governing by lies, as we already have been for the last two presidential terms, is no way to govern, and the American people will eventually realize that they are being lied to again. Indeed, the fact that a majority of Americans, according to polls, want to see the Afghan War ended, shows that even given the biased pro-war media, and the dredging up again of the hoary 9-11 attacks, most people understand this on some level. The Bush/Cheney administration did much to undermine and wreck Constitutional government during their eight years in office. Many people had hoped that Obama was serious when he said during his campaign that he wanted to restore Constitutional governance if elected. But by his latest move, committing the US to a full-scale war in Afghanistan on the basis of a lie and without any proper war resolution from Congress, he has joined his predecessor in further debasing both the Constitution and language itself. Note: To protest this latest end-run of the Constitution, and the expanded war in Afghanistan, go to www.afterdowningstreet.org/whipwars</strong> --------15 of 18-------- America's Regression by Glenn Greenwald Salon.com Common Dreams Friday, December 4, 2009 Ronald Reagan, May 20, 1988, transmitting the Convention Against Torture to the Senate for ratification: The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention. . . . Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today. The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called "universal jurisdiction." Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution. Convention Against Torture, signed and championed by Ronald Reagan, Article II/IV: No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. . . Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. Pew Poll, today: Public opinion about the use of torture remains divided, though the share saying it can at least sometimes be justified has edged upward over the past year. Currently just over half of Americans say that the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can either often (19%) or sometimes (35%) be justified. This is the first time in over five years of Pew Research polling on this question that a majority has expressed these views. Another 16% say torture can rarely be justified, while 25% say it can never be justified. Just think about that. Torture is one of the most universal taboos in the civilized world. The treaty championed by Ronald Reagan declares that "no exceptional circumstances" can justify it, and requires that every state criminalize it and prosecute those who authorize or engage in it. But only 25% of Americans agree with Ronald Reagan and this Western consensus that torture is never justifiable. Worse, 54% of Americans believe torture is "often" or "sometimes" justified. When it comes to torture, the vast bulk of the country is now to the "right" (for lack of a better term) of Ronald Reagan, who at least in words (if not in deeds) insisted upon an absolute prohibition on the practice and mandatory prosecution for those responsible. With these new numbers, it's virtually impossible to find a country with as high a percentage of torture supporters as the U.S. has. In Iran, for instance, only 36% believe that torture can be justified in some cases, while 43% believe all torture must be strictly prohibited. Similarly, 66% of Palestinians, 54% of Egyptians, and over 80% of Western Europeans believe torture is always wrong. The U.S. has a far lower percentage than all of those nations of individuals who believe that torture should always be prohibited. At least on the level of the citizenry (as opposed to government), we're basically the leading torture advocacy state in the world. Adam Serwer says that this is "what happens when one party in a two party system makes something outrageous part of its political platform: Even the most abhorrent behavior can be mainstreamed." That's basically true, but even leaving aside the fact that many Democrats acquiesced to if not outright supported the same polices, this outcome is also attributable to our collective and very bipartisan decision not to investigate and prosecute the torture crimes that were committed. After all, how is it possible to credibly maintain that we believe torture is some sort of extreme crime and absolute evil when we sat by while our political leaders did it and now refuse to comply with our obligations to prosecute it? By doing that, aren't we implicitly though unambiguously conveying that, whatever our rhetoric, we don't really think torture is all that bad? We don't "Look Forward" when we think truly awful crimes have been committed; we Look Backwards (sometimes very far backwards) and prosecute them. Whatever else is true, that's the message most Americans have received and embraced: torture is not really worth prosecuting so it must not be truly heinous. UPDATE: Several commenters raise the reasonable objection that today's 2009 Pew poll shouldn't be compared to the 2008 World Public Opinion poll I cited above because they ask different questions (the former measures the % who believe that torture "can never be justified" while the latter measures the % who believe that "all torture should be prohibited"). I think they're reasonably comparable, but even if one disagrees, the 2008 WPO poll finds that America has a higher percentage of people who believe that torture can be used on terrorists and/or used generally than all but a handful of countries in the poll. As for the reason more Americans find torture justifiable than ever before, today's Pew poll finds that "both Democrats and independents have become more accepting of the idea that torture can be justified" and, worse: "47% of Democrats say torture can either often or sometimes be justified -- more than in any previous Pew poll." Meanwhile, Republican support for torture has remained fairly steady (67%). Thus, the increase in support for torture among Americans this year is largely due to increased acceptance among Democrats and, to a lesser degree, independents (h/t sysprog; see p. 52 of the Pew Report) Copyright 2009 Salon Media Group, Inc. Glenn Greenwald was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy", examines the Bush legacy. [As I see it, this change of opinion has been engineered by the ruling class, hoping in the future to use torture against us to terrorize us into abject submission. If we don't resist/object, we're implicitly asking for it. -ed] --------16 of 18-------- Nader v. Dodd? Run, Ralph, Run By JOHN HALLE CounterPunch December 4-6, 2009 News reports indicating that Ralph Nader is considering a run for Senate from his home state Connecticut provoked some of the same tired and tiresome mantras familiar from previous campaigns: Nader the spoiler, Nader the loser, Nader the egomaniac, Nader the has been. But this time there is a big difference. For according to a Quinnipiac University poll, it is the Democratic incumbent, Senator Christopher Dodd who is the sure loser in 2010. Laboring under historically low approval ratings partly due to his star turn in Michael Moore's film "Capitalism" where he is seen as a recipient of de facto bribes from high finance crook Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, Dodd would go down to a humiliating defeat in a race with any of the declared Republican candidates. An indication of the contempt in which he is held, Dodd would lose even to Linda McMahon, whose main claim to legitimacy consists in the reflected glory accruing to spouse, World Wide Wrestling association magnate Vince McMahon. Given that there have been few occasions when an incumbent has managed to recover from this kind of deficit, it is Dodd's campaign which is now quixotic. And as the Democratic Party's capitulations on the war, its placating of Wall Street, and sky high unemployment rates consign a generation to economic misery, it will become increasingly apparent that any viable challenge to the Republicans will need to come from an independent or third party - a long established tradition in Connecticut. Nader fits the bill of the outsider candidate just about perfectly. This is not to say that Nader is by any means a shoe-in, even pitted against Dodd and an addled teabagger as the Republican nominee. The relentless Democratic smear campaigns have taken their toll and the kind of organization which Nader could rely on in previous decades has now been winnowed down to a relatively few hard core supporters. But there is still plenty of reason to believe that this is one insurgent campaign which could target and defeat the corporate dupology at a particularly vulnerable location and historical juncture. And there is also plenty of reason for excitement at the prospect of Nader serving in the Senate. Imagine Nader with subpoena power at Senatorial hearings on military misappropriations, homeland security or military contracting. Imagine Nader grilling Bernanke, Geithner or any of Obama's corporate friendly appointees to the Departments of Interior, Health and Human Services or Agriculture, Imagine Nader sponsored legislation on global warming, consumer protection and labor rights. Imagine Nader able to filibuster (Jimmy Stewart like) a war appropriations supplemental. Bernie Sanders placing a hold on the Bernanke nomination - now in the process of being overridden by banker BFF Dodd - gives some of us a small taste of Nader as Senator. If leftists want an investment of time which offers a real bang for the buck, they could do a lot worse than throwing some cash at the Nader campaign and once it gets up and running, to knock on doors, organize house parties, phone bank and receive the abuse of ever more ridiculous Democratic Party hacks and sycophants. [Eff those Dems. -ed] This time, it will be to win. John Halle is Director of Studies in Music Theory and Practice at Bard College. He can be reached at: halle [at] bard.edu --------17 of 18------- Obama's Broken Promises to Family Farmers: Disappointing and Dangerous by Jim Goodman Friday, December 4, 2009 CommonDreams.org "And it means ensuring that the policies being shaped at the Departments of Agriculture and Interior are designed to serve not big agribusiness or Washington influence peddlers, but the family farmers and the American People." --President-elect Barack Obama, December 17 2008, Chicago, Illinois. The message was one of hope, the words of a newly elected President echoing the Populism of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the promise of John F. Kennedy. It stopped there, the delivery of the promise fell short. We have gotten a New Deal, albeit one that is more protective of those who caused the economic and agricultural crises than of those who suffer from them. We have also gotten a new version of "The Best and the Brightest" in the Obama Administration and their faulty counsel extends beyond war into food and trade policy. The campaign promises were not worth the notepads they are written on. The promises were broken and business at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will carry on much as it did during the Bush Administration. Instead of going outside the agribusiness and agrochemical industries, Obama has kept the revolving door spinning and appointed the very lobbyists and special interests he said would find no home in his administration. Monsanto stalwarts Michael Taylor, special assistant to the FDA Commissioner for food safety and Roger Beachy, head of National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Rajiv Shah, head of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) where his pro-biotech leanings will continue to be pushed on the developing world. Perhaps it is a good fit, as President Obama noted "/The mission of USAID is to advance America's interests by strengthening our relationships abroad". /However, advancing America's/ /interests and giving real aid to those in need are not the same thing. Advancing interests implies control and empire building. Islam Siddiqui, Chief Agriculture Negotiator, office of U.S. Trade Representative, is a particularly troubling nomination. He is no friend of consumers, considering his most recent employment at CropLife America (CLA), the pesticide industries main trade association. As a registered lobbyist and vice president of regulatory affairs, Siddiqui was responsible for setting and selling CLA's international and domestic agenda which, simply put, was to weaken regulations on pesticides and agricultural chemicals worldwide. He is no friend of farmers either, and not just organic farmers, even though he has a long history of distaste for organic agriculture. He promotes agribusiness, chemical companies, processors and grain marketers who make their profits by buying low, processing and selling high. In his world, a farmers job is to maintain corporate profits. As an unabashed 'free trader" he is a strong supporter of the World Trade Organization and its ability to strong-arm countries into accepting unwanted U.S. imports. He openly derided the European Union's rejection of hormone-treated beef, Japan's desire to mandate labeling of Genetically Modified (GM) food and he pushed to permit pesticide testing on children. In his world consumers should be forced to accept whatever food products are thrown at them. Forced trade, telling countries they must accept our products whether they want them or not is not trade, it is nothing short of blackmail. His "public service" career has been dedicated to selling more pesticides and GM seed to farmers world-wide and easing restrictions on their use. The beneficiaries of these policies were not farmers or consumers but the agribusiness corporations that Siddiqui worked for. That is not public service, that is promoting private interest. Siddiqui has not worked in the best interests of farmers or consumers, rather he has consistently promoted the interests of multi-national corporations, grain companies, meat processors and chemical companies over those of the farmer or consumer. If appointed, why should we believe that that the leopard will suddenly be changing its spots ? President Obama noted as a candidate: "We'll tell ConAgra that it's [USDA] not the Department of Agribusiness. We're going to put the peoples interests ahead of the special interests." Just another empty promise. Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc WI and an IATP Food and Society Policy Fellow. --------18 of 18-------- On our own Progressive moral: If we are not doing it, it's not getting done. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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