Progressive Calendar 12.08.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 8 Dec 2009 01:37:47 -0800 (PST)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R  12.08.09

1. MAP lunch meet      12.08 11:30pm
2. Health care         12.08 1pm
3. Boycott Israel/CTV  12.08 5pm
4. Salon/open talk     12.08 6:30pm
5. World human rights  12.08 6:30pm

6. AlliantACTION vigil 12.09 2am
7. Sust cities         12.09 12noon
8. Paul Street         12.09 7pm/12.10 7pm
9. Health care reform  12.09 7pm

10. Chris Hedges  - Liberals are useless
11. Phil Ochs     - Love me, I'm a liberal (song lyrics)
12. Margot Kidder - Ax Max/Time to declare war on Dem blackmailers
13. Ben Dangl     - Bolivian president Morales empowered by re-election
14. Tanya Kerssen - With victory, new challenges in Bolivia
15. Alex Doherty  - Heroism under tyranny - apathy under freedom
16. ed            - Catatonia  (story)
17. ed            - Smell the rot  (haiku)
18. ed            - Bumpersticker

--------1 of 18--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: MAP lunch meet 12.08 11:30pm

MAP Annual Meeting and Luncheon
Tuesday, December 8, 11:30 a.m. Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church,
511 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis.

Join others at the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP) Annual Meeting.
There will be a luncheon and business meeting that includes the election
on the Executive Committee. Sponsored by: MAP. WAMM is a member of MAP.
FFI: Visit

--------2 of 18--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Health care 12.08 1pm

December 8: St. Paul Branch American Association of University Women
Meeting. 10:45 AM: Business Meeting. 11 AM: Trio Brava. 1 PM: Health Care

--------3 of 18--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Boycott Israel/CTV 12.08 5pm

St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm,
midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow!  All
households with basic cable may watch.

Tues, 12/8, 5pm & midnight and Wed, 12/9, 10am
"Omar Barghouti: The Need to Boycott Israel, Part 2"

Omar Barghouti is an independent Palestinian researcher, commentator, and
founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural
Boycott of Israel (PACBI).  Barghouti spoke in an open public discussion
at the University of Minnesota.

--------4 of 18--------

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Salon/open talk 12.08 6:30pm

This Tuesday, Dec. 8,  we will have an Open Discussion.   Please bring
your thoughts and share with all of us.

Pax Salons ( )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.

--------5 of 18--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: World human rights 12.08 6:30pm

Human Rights Across the World
Tuesday, December 8, 6:30 p.m. (Reception); 7:30 p.m. (Panel and
Discussion) Waite House Community Center, 2529 13th Avenue South,

On Thursday, President Obama will receive the Nobel Peace Prize, meanwhile
the U.S. is occupying both Afghanistan and Iraq, expanding military bases
in Colombia, and funding Israel's occupation of Palestine.  Come hear
about U.S. foreign policy across the world and discuss how we can build a
movement to end U.S. human rights abuses across the globe. The panel will
include Iraqi American Sami Rasouli from the Muslim Peacemakers Team
(MPT), Gerardo Cajamarca a trade unionist from Colombia and Meredith Aby a
member of the Anti-War Committee. A reception with light appetizers before
the panel will be held to say goodbye to Sami Rasouli who will be
returning to Iraq shortly and to wish him luck with his work. Proceeds
from the event will go with Sami to Iraq. Organized by: the Anti-War
Committee. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call 612-379-3899.

--------6 of 18--------

From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at]>
Subject: AlliantACTION vigil 12.09 2am

Join us Wednesday morning, 7-8 am
Now in our 14th year of consecutive Wednesday
morning vigils outside Alliant Techsystems,
7480 Flying Cloud Drive Eden Prairie.
We ask Who Profit$? Who Dies?
directions and lots of info:
or call 612.701.6963

--------7 of 18--------

From: Institute on the Environment <danie419 [at]>
Subject: Sust cities 12.09 12noon

Upcoming Frontiers in the Environment lectures

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

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

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

More info:

--------8 of 18--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Paul Street 12.09 7pm/ 12.10 7pm

Paul Street: "Does Obama Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?"

 Wednesday, December 9, 7:00 p.m. Macalester College, Humanities, Room
226, 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul.
 Thursday, December 10, 7:00 p.m. University of Minnesota, West Bank,
Blegen Hall, Room 010, 269 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Paul Street is the leading left analyst of Obama and author of Barack
Obama and the Future of American Politics, which journalist John Pilger
calls "perhaps the only book that tells the truth about the 44th president
of the United States."

On December 10th, Barack Obama will receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo,
Norway. Yet in what seems to be a contradiction of this award, his
administration is sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and recently
signed one of the largest military budgets in U.S. history. Come hear
anti-war activists' views on Obama's foreign policy, and discuss what we
can do to achieve real peace.

Sponsored by: Socialist Alternative. Endorsed by: the Iraq Peace Action
Coalition (IPAC) and Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR). WAMM is a member
of IPAC.

--------9 of 18-------

From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at]>
Subject: Health care reform 12.09 7pm

  A Series on Equality In Access to Health Care

Economics of Health Care and Solutions: December 9, 2009
Monthly forums will be held at 7pm on Wednesday evenings at Jeanne d'Arc
Auditorium, Whitby Hall, Saint Catherine University, 2004 Randolph Ave.,
St. Paul, MN 55105

Presented by <>St. Catherine University and
<>Physicians for a National Health Program,

--------10 of 18--------

Liberals Are Useless
by Chris Hedges
Monday, December 7, 2009
Common Dreams

Liberals are a useless lot. They talk about peace and do nothing to
challenge our permanent war economy. They claim to support the working
class, and vote for candidates that glibly defend the North American Free
Trade Agreement. They insist they believe in welfare, the right to
organize, universal health care and a host of other socially progressive
causes, and will not risk stepping out of the mainstream to fight for
them. The only talent they seem to possess is the ability to write abject,
cloying letters to Barack Obama - as if he reads them - asking the
president to come back to his "true" self. This sterile moral posturing,
which is not only useless but humiliating, has made America's liberal
class an object of public derision.

I am not disappointed in Obama. I don't feel betrayed. I don't wonder when
he is going to be Obama. I did not vote for the man. I vote socialist,
which in my case meant Ralph Nader, but could have meant Cynthia McKinney.
How can an organization with the oxymoronic title Progressives for Obama
even exist? Liberal groups like these make political satire obsolete.
Obama was and is a brand. He is a product of the Chicago political
machine. He has been skillfully packaged as the new face of the corporate
state. I don't dislike Obama. I would much rather listen to him than his
smug and venal predecessor - though I expected nothing but a continuation
of the corporate rape of the country. And that is what he has delivered.

"You have a tug of war with one side pulling," Ralph Nader told me when we
met Saturday afternoon. "The corporate interests pull on the Democratic
Party the way they pull on the Republican Party. If you are a
'least-worst' voter you don't want to disturb John Kerry on the war, so
you call off the anti-war demonstrations in 2004. You don't want to
disturb Obama because McCain is worse. And every four years both parties
get worse. There is no pull. That is the dilemma of The Nation and The
Progressive and other similar publications. There is no breaking point.
What is the breaking point? The criminal war of aggression in Iraq? The
escalation of the war in Afghanistan? Forty-five thousand people dying a
year because they can't afford health insurance? The hollowing out of
communities and sending the jobs to fascist and communist regimes overseas
that know how to put the workers in their place? There is no breaking
point. And when there is no breaking point you do not have a moral

I save my anger for our bankrupt liberal intelligentsia of which, sadly, I
guess I am a member. Liberals are the defeated, self-absorbed Mouse Man in
Dostoevsky's "Notes From Underground". They embrace cynicism, a cloak for
their cowardice and impotence. They, like Dostoevsky's depraved character,
have come to believe that the "conscious inertia" of the underground
surpasses all other forms of existence. They too use inaction and empty
moral posturing, not to affect change but to engage in an orgy of
self-adulation and self-pity. They too refuse to act or engage with anyone
not cowering in the underground. This choice does not satisfy the Mouse
Man, as it does not satisfy our liberal class, but neither has the
strength to change. The gravest danger we face as a nation is not from the
far right, although it may well inherit power, but from a bankrupt liberal
class that has lost the will to fight and the moral courage to stand up
for what it espouses. [Amen cubed. -ed]

Anyone who says he or she cares about the working class in this country
should have walked out on the Democratic Party in 1994 with the passage of
NAFTA. [That's when I left it - ed] And it has only been downhill since.
If welfare reform, the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act, which
gutted the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act - designed to prevent the kind of
banking crisis we are now undergoing - and the craven decision by the
Democratic Congress to continue to fund and expand our imperial wars were
not enough to make you revolt, how about the refusal to restore habeas
corpus, end torture in our offshore penal colonies, abolish George W.
Bush's secrecy laws or halt the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of
American citizens? The imperial projects and the corporate state have not
altered under Obama. The state kills as ruthlessly and indiscriminately in
Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as it did under Bush. It steals from the
U.S. treasury as rapaciously to enrich the corporate elite. It, too, bows
before the conservative Israel lobby, refuses to enact serious
environmental or health care reform, regulate Wall Street, end our
relationship with private mercenary contractors or stop handing obscene
sums of money, some $1 trillion a year, to the military and arms industry.
At what point do we stop being a doormat? At what point do we fight back?
We may lose if we step outside the mainstream, but at least we will
salvage our self-esteem and integrity.

I learned to dislike liberals when I lived in Roxbury, the inner-city in
Boston, as a seminary student at Harvard Divinity School. I commuted into
Cambridge to hear professors and students talk about empowering people
they never met. It was the time of the leftist Sandinista government in
Nicaragua. Spending two weeks picking coffee in that country and then
coming back and talking about it for the rest of the semester was the best
way to "credentialize" yourself as a revolutionary. But few of these
"revolutionaries" found the time to spend 20 minutes on the Green Line to see 
where human beings in their own city were being warehoused little
better than animals. They liked the poor, but they did not like the smell
of the poor. It was a lesson I never forgot.

I was also at the time a member of the Greater Boston YMCA boxing team. We
fought on Saturday nights for $25 in arenas in working-class neighborhoods
like Charlestown. My closest friends were construction workers and pot
washers. They worked hard. They believed in unions. They wanted a better
life, which few of them ever got. We used to run five miles after our
nightly training, passing through the Mission Main and Mission Extension
Housing Projects, and they would joke, "I hope we get mugged". They knew
precisely what to do with people who abused them. They may not have been
liberal, they may not have finished high school, but they were far more
grounded than most of those I studied with across the Charles River. They
would have felt awkward, and would have been made to feel awkward, at the
little gatherings of progressive and liberal intellectuals at Harvard, but
you could trust and rely on them.

I went on to spend two decades as a war correspondent. The qualities
inherent in good soldiers or Marines, like the qualities I found among
those boxers, are qualities I admire -self-sacrifice, courage, the ability
to make decisions under stress, the capacity to endure physical
discomfort, and a fierce loyalty to those around you, even if it puts you
in greater danger. If liberals had even a bit of their fortitude we could
have avoided this mess. But they don't. So here we are again, begging
Obama to be Obama. He is Obama. Obama is not the problem. We are.

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

--------11 of 18--------

 Artist: Phil Ochs
 Love Me, I'm a Liberal [song from 1966-70s]

 I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
 Tears ran down my spine
 I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
 As though I'd lost a father of mine
 But Malcolm X got what was coming
 He got what he asked for this time
 So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

 I go to civil rights rallies
 And I put down the old D.A.R.
 I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
 I hope every colored boy becomes a star
 But don't talk about revolution
 That's going a little bit too far
 So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

 I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
 My faith in the system restored
 I'm glad the commies were thrown out
 of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
 I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
 as long as they don't move next door
 So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

 The people of old Mississippi
 Should all hang their heads in shame
 I can't understand how their minds work
 What's the matter don't they watch Les Crain?
 But if you ask me to bus my children
 I hope the cops take down your name
 So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

 I read New Republic and Nation
 I've learned to take every view
 You know, I've memorized Lerner and Golden
 I feel like I'm almost a Jew
 But when it comes to times like Korea
 There's no one more red, white and blue
 So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

 I vote for the democratic party
 They want the U.N. to be strong
 I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
 He sure gets me singing those songs
 I'll send all the money you ask for
 But don't ask me to come on along
 So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

 Once I was young and impulsive
 I wore every conceivable pin
 Even went to the socialist meetings
 Learned all the old union hymns
 But I've grown older and wiser
 And that's why I'm turning you in
 So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

--------12 of 18--------

Time to Declare War on Democratic Blackmailers
Ax Max
December 7, 2009

The Democratic Party needs an intervention and then it needs to be sent to
rehab. The lunacy behind the thinking of many traditional Democrats that
any Democrat in Congress is better than no Democrat at all needs to be
exposed and treated for the infectious disease that it is. But there is no
12 step program for corrupt politicians, and turning the problem over to
God is just not going to cut it this time, no matter what Sarah Palin

The absence of democracy in a congress whose votes are bought, sold, and
traded like pork bellies by big corporations in exchange for highly
profitable votes and amendments on bills is a bi-partisan infection. And
the pus is everywhere.

Give me a nut job for an enemy anytime. You can take aim at the
obviousness of the problem and roll a strike 99 times out of a hundred.
But if your enemy is disguised as a boring but harmless friend, and wears
the same logo on his sweatshirt as you do, then landing a punch is like
trying to slug mist. There's no connection, no delicious smacking sound,
there's no obvious win.  The fact that 20 to 25 percent of Americans
support policies and politicians that are bat shit crazy is not as much a
concern as the fact that 50 to 60 percent of Americans support politicians
whose policies are for sale to the highest bidder, and exist independent
of any underlying morality or consistent philosophy of government.  Arlen
Specter calls himself a Democrat for God's sake. And so does Ben Nelson.
And Blanche Lincoln.  These are not Democrats; they're Republicans in
Donkey suits.  And somewhat tasteful donkey suits at that. None of them
would have strings of tea bags dangling from THEIR cowboy hats, you can
bet the ranch on that.  They are much more dangerous than Rush Limbaugh
could ever hope to be.

And oh how they bray, and the bray is as bad as the bite. With each snort
and hee-haw the party trembles defensively and gives them whatever they
want.  To hell with traditional Democratic principles, its all about
keeping the guy from leaving you, so what if he's hit you so many times
that your face is no longer recognizable?  Keep that man.  Get more
numbers on your side of the aisle than they have on theirs and pay no
attention to the actual quality of the people who make up those numbers.
If they say they are Democrats, if they will wear our label, they must be
on our side.  Democrats can't hurt us.  Can they?

Look at Max Baucus, the most anti-charismatic Montanan in the state. How
is it possible to recognize such a surfeit of blandness as dangerous?
Talking with Max is like talking with drywall: he nods at whatever you say
and he'll smile vacantly at you for hours on end, but you're never quite
sure if he's home or if he's just had one motorcycle accident too many. I
say this because I believe that those of us he purports to represent have
a right to know who the person behind the mask really is.

The hideous truth is that this empty suit-person almost single handedly
took the reform out of health care reform, has introduced and somehow
passed more legislation to abet the cornucopia of crime that is our
banking system than anyone else in congress, and has stalled the funding
of any, if not all, modern programs that would give financial lifeboats of
one kind or another to families in need.  He did it by pretending he was a
Democrat and by hanging in there long enough to get appointed, almost by
default, as chair of the banking committee. And he gets elected in a state
with the fourth lowest per capita income in the country by consistently
"bringing home the pork".

Billings needs a baseball field?   That's no problem for Max.  Stick it on
the nearest bill, regardless of relevance.  Missoula wants a biking path?
Easy as spitting.  But you poor souls who are being screwed by the credit
card company that got you so deeply in debt and then raised your interest
rates so high that you had to sell your house to make the payments?
Tough titty.

Max voted against a ceiling on credit card interest rates. You're going
bankrupt and about to lose your house because you got laid off and missed
two payments, you deadbeat you?  Max voted against allowing bankruptcy
judges the leeway to lower interest rates or principle on mortgages in a
way that would allow families to stay in their homes.

Can't afford health insurance at today's exorbitant rates?  Max devised a
plan whereby if you DON'T buy from one of the existing health insurance
companies who trade your health for their profits you will get smacked
with a whopping fine by the IRS, and they get to charge you whatever the
hell they please. Hey, it's your own fault; you should better manage your

Have to choose in the winter months between your medication and your heat?
Max made sure that no pharmaceutical company will ever be asked to put
ceilings on their profit margins, so if you can't afford that one hundred
and forty seven dollars for the only antibiotic that will work on your
systemic sepsis, well, die baby die, you should have learned the rules of
unregulated capitalism.

Everyone who is anyone donates huge sums of money to Max. It's like
landing on the social pages of Women's Wear Daily. But Max is from Montana
so its doubly chic, macho wilderness chic, with just a hint of cowboy.
Here in Montana the corruption is as fresh as this morning's manure.    No
company with their shareholders interests at heart would dare forget
mailing in their "Max Baucus for Senate" checks come election time. You're
guaranteed a lot of bang for your buck, and if your check is big enough
and Max has to choose between the interests of his scruffy and often poor
Montana constituents and the freshly facialed, Armani-clad CEO's of Aetna
or Goldman Sachs or Anaconda Mining, trust me, he's going to go with the
high-end set - they pay a lot of money every summer to learn to light
campfires at Camp Baucus at the Big Sky Ski Resort and Max has become
addicted to their donations.

The mainstream media calls Max Baucus and other Democratic blackmailers
"centrists".  As compared to what, Chiang Kai-Shek?  "Things fall apart,
the centre cannot hold.  Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world," said
Yeats, but that was in 1919 and he was referencing the Russian revolution.
America's centre has been tap dancing to the right since Ronald Reagan was
loosed upon the world and it hasn't taken a backwards step yet, so our
centre is way out in right field and has no intention of coming back of
its own accord. It's up to us, unfortunately.

In the big D.C. high school known as congress, "practical" politics is all
the rage with the in crowd these days.  It's Rahm Emmanuel speak for
accepting the system as it is and playing the game better than anyone
else. Get all the dough you need from huge corporations - and what's a
concession or two or twenty compared to several million dollars of
fuck-you money in the campaign chest that will ensure you can four wall
the country with television ads in 2012 and thus get Obama a second term?
It is essentially a philosophy of "anti-change", no matter what system of
logic you apply to it.  Rahm must have been out of the room when the
campaign was going on last year.  But wherever he was, he is demanding an
ossification of our dreams. You want "Hope" back? Hope, schmope.  The
world doesn't work like that.

And protesting will just get you are accused of idealism, that nagging
little worm that lives in the hearts of nerds everywhere. And idealism is
just not cool.  It's not practical.  You must abandon childish notions of
hope for a better world and look the corruption square in the eye and
accept it. Work with it.  Look at Max.  He's arguably the most powerful
guy in the Senate.

So get with the program and shut up.  Call this mess of health insurance
backed suggestions "reform" and let's move on.  No one will really notice
that it's a ferocious defense of the status quo, so who are you to make a
fuss?  Be a good little Democrat. Say we passed an historical health
reform bill.  Lie, OK?  Lie for the greater good of the party.

Sadly, the hard truth is that it's hard not to feel like a little baggie
of leftover peas in the face of the seeming omnipotence of these
corporations, these dictates from above.  Inertia and depression are
logical responses to such an enormous monolith of corruption.  And
fighting for anything remotely resembling a just society, or expressing
severe disillusionment with the fact that your own senator has been bought
by JP Morgan Chase and Blue Cross/Blue Shield is just not done and is
frowned upon.

But we can't give in to the easy seduction of lying in bed with the covers
over our heads hoping this whole thing will somehow pass of its own
accord.  Its not going to go willingly, and until we get really, really
feisty and turn back to all that anger that Obama managed to tamp down
with all his lovely speeches and turn it again into a force to be reckoned
with, there is no hope for any kind of future worth having. The Democrats
aren't going to save us - we have to save them.

We can target every one of these fake Democrats and expose the hypocrisy
that is running like a deep aquifer of sludge under their public personas.
And we can, if we're smart, soften them up for the blows of the more
polished and hopefully "progressive" politicians who will remove them from

Will the forces who replace them be infinitely better than them?  Who
knows?  They might be worse.  But until we flex our muscles and show we
mean business, it will be business as usual, and business as usual
benefits no one.  Until we get all our little homemade slingshots out and
relentlessly whack at this destructive Goliath of our own making, nothing
is going to ameliorate the ruthless destruction of what is still naively
called a government of the people, for the people and by the people.

Margot Kidder is an actress and activist living in Livingston, Montana.

--------13 of 18--------

The Speed of Change: Bolivian President Morales Empowered by Re-Election
Ben Dangl
Dec 07, 2009

Bolivian President Evo Morales was re-elected on Sunday, December 6th in a
landslide victory. After the polls closed, fireworks, music and
celebrations filled the Plaza Murillo in downtown La Paz where MAS
supporters chanted "Evo Again! Evo Again!" Addressing the crowd from the
presidential palace balcony, Morales said, "The people, with their
participation, showed once again that it's possible to change Bolivia...
We have the responsibility to deepen and accelerate this process of

Though the official results are not yet known, exit polls show that
Morales won roughly 63% of the vote, with his closest rival, former
conservative governor Manfred Reyes Villa, winning around 23% of the vote.

The Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), Morales' political party, also won
over two thirds of the seats in the lower house and the senate, meaning
the MAS administration will have an easier time passing laws without right
wing opposition.

Many of Bolivia's indigenous and impoverished majority identify with
Morales, an indigenous man who grew up poor and was a grassroots leader
before his election as president in 2005. Many also voted for Morales
because of new government programs aimed at empowering the country's
marginalized people.

"Brother Evo Morales is working for the poorest people, for the people
that are fighting for their survival," El Alto street vendor Julio
Fernandez told Bloomberg reporter Jonathan Levin on election day.

"He's changing things. He's helping the poor and building highways and
schools," Veronica Canizaya, a 49-year old housewife, told Reuters before
voting near Lake Titicaca.

During his first four years in office Morales partially nationalized
Bolivia's vast gas reserves, ushered in a new constitution written in a
constituent assembly, granted more rights to indigenous people and exerted
more state-control over natural resources and the economy. Much of the
wealth generated from new state-run industries has been directed to
various social and development programs to benefit impoverished sectors of

For example, Inez Mamani receives a government stipend to help her care
for her newborn baby. The funding is thanks to the state-run gas company.
Mamani, who also has five other children, spoke with Annie Murphy of
National Public Radio about the program. "With my other children, there
wasn't a program like this. It was sad the way we raised them. Now they
have milk, clothing, diapers, and it's great that the government helps us.
Before, natural resources were privately owned and there wasn't this sort
of support."

In addition to the support for mothers, the government also gives stipends
to young students and the elderly; the stipends reached some 2 million
people in 2009. "I'm a teacher and I see that the kids go to school with
hope, because they get breakfast there and the subsidies ... I ask them
how they spend the hand-outs and some of them say they buy shoes. Some
didn't have shoes before," Irene Paz told Reuters after voting in El Alto.

Thanks to such far-reaching government programs and socialistic policies,
Bolivia's economic growth has been higher during the four years under
Morales than at any other period during the last three decades, according
to the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research.

"None of this would have been possible without the government's regaining
control of the country's natural resources," said CEPR Co-Director Mark
Weisbrot. "Bolivia's fiscal stimulus over the past year was vastly larger
than ours in the United States, relative to their economy."

During Morales' new term in office, with over two thirds control in both
houses of congress, the MAS government should be able to further apply the
changes established in the new constitution, a document passed in a
national vote this past January. The MAS base is eager for land reform,
broader access to public services, development projects and more say in
how their government is run. The mandate and demands for massive changes
are now greater than ever.

As Bolivian political analyst Franklin Pareja told IPS News, "In the past
four years, the change was an illusion, and now it should be real."

Benjamin Dangl is the author of The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and
Social Movements in Bolivia (AK Press) and the forthcoming book Dancing
with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America (AK Press). He
is the editor of, a progressive perspective on world
events and, a website on activism and politics in
Latin America. Email: Bendangl(at)

--------14 of 18--------

With Victory, Morales and Social Movements Confront New Challenges in
By Tanya Kerssen

Bolivian president Evo Morales and his political party, the Movement
Towards Socialism (MAS), won a resounding victory in the presidential
elections this past Sunday, December 6. The nearest challengers, Manfred
Reyes Villa and his running mate Leopoldo Fernandez - whose current
address is a La Paz prison, where he stands accused of ordering the murder
of pro-government peasants - represent an old political and economic order
that has used sedition and violence in an effort to obstruct and
destabilize the Morales government.

The old order and the new are locked in a struggle for the future of
Bolivia. "The social movements are critical for presidents to be able to
create a new alternative," declared Bolivian Foreign Minister David
Choquehuanca in the tropical city of Cochabamba in October at a summit of
leftist Latin American presidents, including Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and
Ecuador's Rafael Correa. At the parallel Social Movements Summit comprised
of 700 delegates from 40 countries, Isaac Avalos, leader of the Bolivian
Peasants Federation promised to help "bury the opposition" in the

The dialogue between these parallel summits is emblematic of the close
association between social movements and the new left governments of Latin
America. In Bolivia, a broad-based coalition of movements - with peasants,
workers and indigenous groups at the forefront - was instrumental in
defining Morales' platform even before he was first elected to the
presidency in 2005. With the support of the social movements, the
administration succeeded in meeting three key goals in its first term:
government control over the nation's oil and gas resources, the creation
of a new constitution to re-found the Bolivian state, and the advance of
agrarian reform.

The right-wing opposition, rooted in its control of large landed estates
and petro-carbon resources in the eastern lowlands, constitutes the main
challenge to transforming property relations and creating a more
equitable, democratic society in Bolivia. The deepening of "21st Century
Socialism" during Morales' next five years in office will depend on the
sustained strength of the social movements, the government's continued
responsiveness to their evolving agenda, and the ability of both to
overcome the opposition of the entrenched elites while maintaining
democratic legitimacy.

A report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) shows that
despite the global recession and destabilizing threats from the right, the
government was able to minimize the impact of the economic crisis and
increase foreign exchange reserves. Morales has also expanded social
services for the poorest Bolivians through the creation of health and
literacy programs and financial support for the elderly, school-aged
children and pregnant women. These achievements were made possible by the
government takeover of the oil and natural gas industries, which increased
government revenue by an impressive 20% of GDP since 2004.

The deepening of government involvement in the economy - one of Morales'
key campaign planks - is a remarkable achievement, and one that was
unthinkable just a few years ago. It was, of course, built on the blood
and sweat of the social movements, which called for an end to the
privatization of public corporations, land and natural resources; the
restoration of social protections and government regulation of private
capital; and the reassertion of state sovereignty vis-a-vis the United
States and the dominant international financial institutions.

In a long turbulent process, the administration succeeded in creating a
new constitution - approved in a popular referendum in February 2009 -
that seeks to re-found the nation to be more reflective of, and
accountable to the country's indigenous majority. The constitution
provides indigenous peoples with greater territorial autonomy and
recognizes Bolivia's 36 indigenous languages as "official." The new
charter also grants the state greater control over natural resources,
establishes access to water as a human right and requires the government
to protect biodiversity.

In a country with one of the most unequal land tenure systems in Latin
America, deepening the land reform program is a central challenge facing
this administration. Since large landholdings are the basis for elite
power, land reform is an overtly, sometimes violently, contested issue.
Under the changes introduced to the land reform law in 2006 and approved
by congress, land must fulfill a "social and economic function" -
regardless of property tax payment - in order to avoid expropriation and
re-distribution to poor peasant families. The land reform process, which
according to government figures has titled 26 million hectares and
distributed 958,454 hectares since 2006, was further bolstered by a
measure approved by voters in 2009 limiting private landholdings to 5,000
hectares (about 12,400 acres) rather than the 10,000 hectares demanded by
the landed elite.

As a result of pressure from conservative landowners in the process of
drafting the new constitution, however, these reforms will not be
retroactive to include currently owned properties. This compromise greatly
defuses the radical potential of the legislation. In another capitulation
to the right, language that prohibited the use and production of
genetically modified organisms was removed in the final text, a large blow
to the peasant movements and environmental NGOs that fought for its
inclusion. The more radical leaders of the social movements are advocating
new decrees and legislation to overcome these limitations and deepen the
agrarian reform.

Changes in the international context are promising for the Morales
government's ability to implement its agenda. The rise of South-South
cooperation provides opportunities for greater independence from and
negotiating power with the North, especially the United States. ALBA - the
Venezuelan-led Bolivarian Alternative for the People - is an important
iteration of this phenomenon. Relations with the United States remain
estranged ever since the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador in September
2008 for meddling in Bolivian affairs. Though Bolivia has long been
dependent on U.S. foreign aid, ALBA's support - and particularly support
coming directly from Venezuela - has allowed it to escape Washington's
political and economic stranglehold. Venezuela also helped Bolivia cushion
the blow of its suspension from the U.S. Andean Trade Preference
agreement, a suspension initiated by President Bush in 2008 and extended
by President Obama last June.

Negotiations for the normalization of relations took place at the State
Department in Washington last month, but with no final resolution. Morales
has expressed his disappointment with the policies of the Obama
administration, particularly its decision to establish seven military
bases in nearby Colombia. He declared that Latin America is no longer "in
the time of kings" and that "we cannot be in the time of American military

One of the poorest countries in Latin America, Bolivia under Evo Morales
is in a strong position to transform its economy and to break the historic
hegemony of the United States. The strength and character of this
transformation will largely hinge on continued dialogue between the
government and the social movements that have been at the vanguard of
progressive change.

Tanya Kerssen is a Masters candidate in Latin American Studies at the
University of California, Berkeley and a contributor to the Center for the
Study of the Americas (CENSA). This article was first published on the
website of the of the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA),

--------15 of 18--------

Heroism Under Tyranny - Apathy Under Freedom
by Alex Doherty
December 6th, 2009
Dissident Voice

The following remarks are excerpted from a series of leaflets produced by
a Christian based anti-war group at Manchester University:

"Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be
'governed' without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded
to base instinct".

"If the British people are already so corrupted and spiritually crushed
that they do not raise a hand, frivolously trusting in a questionable
faith in lawful order of history; if they surrender man's highest
principle, that which raises him above all other God's creatures, his free
will; if they abandon the will to take decisive action and turn the wheel
of history and thus subject it to their own rational decision; if they are
so devoid of all individuality, have already gone so far along the road
toward turning into a spiritless and cowardly mass - then, yes, they
deserve their downfall".

"Tennyson speaks of the British as a tragic people, like the Jews and the
Greeks, but today it would appear rather that they are a spineless,
will-less herd of hangers-on".

"Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to

I wonder how these words strike the reader. Perhaps they seem harsh,
condemnatory and surely likely to alienate the average reader. I have a
little experience of writing campaign leaflets and I don't believe I was
ever the co-author of anything with such a stern tone, nor have I have
ever read anything of a similar character produced by any anti-war group
in the country. Perhaps the reader might find themselves preparing
rebuttals to such blanket accusation - given the impact of the mass media
in dulling critical faculties and insinuating lies the public cannot be
considered wholly to blame for its apathy and so on.

However, there's a simple reason for the unusual tone of these excerpts:
they weren't produced in Manchester at all. Rather, these words are from
the work of the White Rose: the German anti-Nazi student group that
operated during World War II at the University of Munich. I have simply
swapped Britain for Germany and had Tennyson stand in for Goethe. The most
famous members of the group were Hans and Sophie Scholl who, along with
another activist - Christoph Probst, were tried for treason and executed
by a Nazi "people's court" in 1943.

If the tone seems harsh when the intended audience is believed to be
British, it seems vastly more so when we consider that the audience were
people living under the rule of the most vicious and cruel dictatorship
the world has ever seen, a regime that reacted to dissent with the most
extreme brutality - decapitation in the case of the White Rose group,
hanging from meat hooks in the case of the anti-Nazi generals, and the
slaughter of most of the population of the Czech town of Lidice in the
case of Reinhard Heydrich's assassins.

The White Rose group could hardly have been unaware of the cruelty of the
regime they opposed and yet the group did not shy from exhorting, in fact
demanding that their fellow citizens take action to against the Nazi
state. They took it to be a sacred duty of all people to oppose violence
and authoritarianism regardless of the personal cost:

"Is your spirit already so crushed by abuse that you forget it is your
right - your moral duty - to eliminate this system?"

I would suggest that the reason the text of the leaflets appears so alien
is that the heroism of groups such as the White Rose is largely alien to
contemporary Britain. The British historian Mark Curtis estimates that
since World War II, the UK has borne significant responsibility for the
deaths of at least ten million people around the world. Those include the
victims of direct aggression: the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; the
murderous sanctions imposed upon pre-invasion Iraq that have been all but
airbrushed from history; the arming and supporting of authoritarian
regimes the world over, from Pinochet's Chile, Suharto's Indonesia (the
author of perhaps the worst case of genocide by proportion of population
since 1945 in East Timor) and Putin's Russia, to the colonial settler
society of Israel amongst many others. Not included in these figures are
the casualties resulting from the West's economic relations with the third
world, which have inflicted deliberate underdevelopment in order that
those countries might remain little more than resource extraction zones
for Western corporations and dumping grounds for Western products and
waste. We could also add to the list the victims of the economic "shock
therapy" imposed upon the former Soviet bloc that led to precipitous
declines in life expectancy and other health indicators across Eastern
Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Today Britain is embroiled in two wars, it is the seventh largest arms
dealer in the world and it is a supporter of some of the worst human
rights abusers in the world, including Colombia, the most violent and
oppressive regime in the western hemisphere, Nigeria, Uzbekistan (where
the favoured form of torturing dissidents is immersion in boiling water),
the Saudi theocracy and Israel amongst others.

While Britain can hardly compare to the monstrous depredations of the
Third Reich, many of its practices abroad, as well as those of its allies,
are not wildly dissimilar. (Muzafar Avazov was probably little comforted
as he was tortured to death by our Uzbek allies by the fact that his
captors were not members of the Gestapo or the SS. And it is unlikely to
be much of a consolation for an Afghan family to be bombed by the RAF
rather than the Luftwaffe).

Unlike Germans living under the Nazis, punishment for dissent in the UK is
slight, especially for relatively affluent, educated people such as
myself. In dissenting what do people like myself risk? Career prospects
maybe, the disapproval of others perhaps, at worst getting tear gassed and
beaten at a demonstration - but unlike the White Rose and present-day
activists in countries such as Colombia, China or Saudi Arabia, people
like me generally do not risk their necks through their political
activities. One might imagine that given the freedom of our society and
how much blood is on the hands of our leaders, Britain would be a country
in a constant tumult of radical political activity, and yet that is
transparently not the case. Principled radical dissent remains a marginal
presence in our culture. One could of course provide reasons and excuses
for that lack and there is some force to those reasons: our educational
system and the mass media, it is true, breed little more than cynicism and
deceit. However, that cannot offer an explanation for the political apathy
of our society. There are simply too many people who know all too well
about the crimes they are complicit in but who do nothing or close to
nothing to retard and stop those crimes. If I think of my friends and
family in the UK, they are all, almost without exception, left-wing and
progressive, opposed to war, opposed to injustice. And yet I can count on
one hand the number of people I know who are actively doing something more
than bemoaning the state of the world.

A similar situation pertains with my American friends. Almost without
exception they are politically progressive and yet they also do little to
act upon those convictions. The one political "activity" my American
friends do engage in is bashing the Republican party and its Christian
fundamentalist allies. My friends seem to genuinely believe that it is the
political right that is the problem: if only the Republicans and Christian
extremists would vanish, all would be right with America and the world.
But I would like to respectfully suggest to my friends that it is they who
are the problem. They are the problem and people like them are the problem
- good, progressive, relatively privileged and educated individuals who
aside from voting for the liberal hero of the hour every four years
consider themselves to have no moral duty to take political action. I
don't say this with much sense of moral superiority - I consider myself to
be part of the problem too. Having immersed myself in radical politics I
have perhaps fewer illusions about my country than many others and yet my
political activity has often been half-hearted and infrequent - for the
past two years I have done virtually nothing aside from produce a few
articles - instead, like so many I have prioritised hedonistic consumption
and my own private psychodramas over more worthwhile concerns.

Even in the most twisted and evil of ideologies there can sometimes be
found little kernels of truth that are worth contemplating. Take Muslim
fundamentalism for instance. There are many factors in the rise of
militant Islam but I would aver that one of the reasons for its appeal is
that fundamentalists have sensed something true about us - they have
recognised that for all our beautiful words, for all our talk of human
rights and democracy, and despite whatever faith we may profess, our real
guiding philosophy is a kind of chronic hedonism. Instead of reaching for
the heroism of the Scholl siblings we routinely put our careers or our
dreams of consumption or our personal travails above the lives of others.

Here are some more harsh words from the White Rose group:

Why do German people behave so apathetically in the face of all these
abominable crimes, crimes so unworthy of the human race? "The German
people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist
criminals; they give them the opportunity to carry on their depredations;
and of course they do so. Is this a sign that the Germans are brutalized
in their simplest human feelings, that no chord within them cries out at
the sight of such deeds, that they have sunk into a fatal
consciencelessness from which they will never, never awake? It seems to be
so, and will certainly be so, if the German does not at last start up out
of his stupor, if he does not protest wherever and whenever he can against
this clique of criminals, if he shows no sympathy for these hundreds of
thousands of victims. He must evidence not only sympathy; no, much more: a
sense of complicity in guilt. For through his apathetic behaviour he gives
these evil men the opportunity to act as they do; he tolerates this
"government" which has taken upon itself such an infinitely great burden
of guilt; indeed, he himself is to blame for the fact that it came about
at all! Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one
continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he
cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!

What on earth would the White Rose have said about us?

Alex Doherty has written for ZNet, Counterpunch, and the New Standard. He
can be reached at: alexjamesdoherty [at]

--------16 of 18--------

David Shove

Little Jimmy loves to kick the cat. With a good running start, he can
whack it half-way across the room. The cat, Alfred, now suffers from PTSD.

Mom and Dad warn Jimmy, Next time you kick that poor old cat you're going
to have to stand in the corner for a whole hour! Hear?  Yes Mom he says.

A bit later a shaky Alfred ventures out from under the couch.  Jimmy waits
until he limps into the middle of the room, runs, kicks, whammo, screeee!

Well now Jimmy you know you're not supposed to do that.

Yes Mommy.

But they don't make him stand in the corner.

So he kicks the cat again. Whenever he feels like it.

Mom and Dad confer - He won't do it again.

But he does, over and over, just daring them.

Ha, Jimmy tells his little friends, Bill and Carl, I'm the boss of them.
Jimmy brings them in the house. Watch this he says.

Whammo, scree, clump! The cat hits the wall.

Wow, you're really gonna get it! say Bill and Carl.

No way! says Jimmy.

And nothing happens.

Boy, what a bunch of wimps your folks are! says Bill.

Ditto, laughs Carl.

Double ditto, says Jimmy. They'll never change.

How do you know that? asks Bill.

They're Democrats, says Jimmy.

--------17 of 18--------

 That's why we don't smell the rot
 of the ruling class.

--------18 of 18--------

                  Wake up and smell the rot


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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