Progressive Calendar 12.05.09
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.


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