|Progressive Calendar 12.10.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Thu, 10 Dec 2009 02:44:58 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 12.10.09 1. Protest torture 12.10 11am 2. MN's Latinos 12.10 12noon 3. Eagan peace vigil 12.10 4:30pm 4. Northtown vigil 12.10 5pm 5. No troops to Af 12.10 5pm 6. Paul Street 12.10 7pm 7. PolyMet mine DEIS 12.10 7pm 8. Palestine vigil 12.11 4:15pm 9. NOW/Guam/TV 12.11 8:30pm 10. Moyers/Zinn 12.11 9pm 11. Adolph Reed - Liberals, I do despise 12. Joe Bageant - Change ... for the worse: the devil and Mr Obama 13. ed - Humble suggestion for Obama (haiku) --------1 of 13-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Protest torture 12.10 11am Human Rights Day, 2009- Demonstration to Remind Officials to Seek Accountability for Use of Torture Thursday, December 10, 11:00 a.m. Federal Courthouse, 300 South Fourth Street, Minneapolis. Throughout the levels of our country's current and former decision- makers there are dozens of people that have played central roles in the authorization and perpetuation of the torture perpetrated by the U.S. military. Perhaps the most egregious actors are the members of the Office of Legal Counsel that wrote the aptly designated "torture memos." The statute of limitations on the Federal Torture Statute will run out in regard to some of these atrocities beginning in 2010. On December 10th, members of Tackling Torture at the Top (T3) and others will call upon our government to hold officials accountable who authorized the use of torture. This will be a multi-part demonstration: a) People will meet at 11:00 a.m. in front of the Federal Courthouse (300 South Fourth Street, Minneapolis) to obtain leaflets and/or orange jumpsuit/black hood attire and signs if they want. From about 11:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., those of us in orange jumpsuits (and possibly black hoods) will then individually walk (or in small groups) around the downtown area, with signs and/or leaflets. b) At 11:45 a.m., we will gather back in front of the U.S. Courthouse in a silent protest of the torture committed on detainees around the world and the lack of prosecution for those complicit in this torture, which functions to set dangerous precedent. Some people may individually, but not as part of T3, attempt to wear the black hoods, which are symbolic of what the detainees have been forced to wear. People have worn such hoods in peaceful protests all across the country, including in front of the White House and at the large march at the start of the RNC in St. Paul. The wearing of these hoods is therefore believed to be expressive communication protected by the First Amendment. (Court Security has previously advised that wearing a hood could violate an 1859 Minnesota statute that makes it a misdemeanor to conceal one's identity by wearing a mask, unless falling under certain religious, medical, or weather related reasons.) c) After a short time of silent demonstration (about 30 minutes), some people will attempt to turn themselves in to the federal authorities at the Courthouse for our own complicity in the torture committed in our names. People will describe their confessions to any media outside and hopefully to the authorities inside the U.S. Attorney's office on the sixth floor. T3 is a committee of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) that works to expose complicity in torture by our country's decision-makers, and to hold people to account for that complicity so that it does not continue. Furthermore, T3 works to expose the social and political structure that allowed and continues to allow these atrocities to occur. Contact Person: Sonja Johnson 612-721-1416 or TacklingTorture [at] gmail.com --------2 of 13-------- From: Jason Stone <jason.stone [at] yahoo.com> Subject: MN's Latinos 12.10 12noon Lunch and Learn - Where in the world are Minnesota's Latinos - Dec 10 * Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009, noon - 1 p.m.; $15 fee; includes lunch. * Register: https://minnesotahumanities.org/immigration.aspx The first lunch in our Immigration to Minnesota series will feature Dr. Louis Mendoza, Professor of Chicano Studies at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Where in the World are Minnesota's Latinos? will highlight the history of Latino immigration to Minnesota and explore the nature of the rapid demographic shifts in the Latino population locally and nationally. Dr. Mendoza will base his observations on a 2007 research trip he conducted around the nation by bicycle. Contact: Hunter Gordon Outreach Coordinator Minnesota Humanities Center 987 Ivy Avenue East Saint Paul, Minnesota 55106 PH 651-772-4263 TOLL FREE 866-268-7293 FAX 651-774-0205 hunter [at] minnesotahumanities.org www.minnesotahumanities.org --------3 of 13-------- From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com> Subject: Eagan peace vigil 12.10 4:30pm PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south of the river speaking out against war. --------4 of 13-------- From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 12.10 5pm NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. We'll have extra signs. For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com. --------5 of 13-------- From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] gmail.com> Subject: No troops to Af 12.10 5pm NO TROOP SURGE TO AFGHANISTAN - How About Some Peace with That Nobel Prize? Thursday, December 10 @ 5:00pm @ 300 Washington Ave. SE, Minneapolis On December 10, just days after announcing he's escalating the war in Afghanistan by sending 30,000 more troops, Barack Obama will be receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway. Join us in protesting this hypocrisy and saying NO to the surge in Afghanistan. We'll meet up outside Coffman Memorial Union at the University of Minnesota and march over to the West Bank, to hold banners and signs over the 35-W bridge to spread the anti-war message to thousands. Organized by Youth Against War and Racism --------6 of 13-------- From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] gmail.com> Subject: Paul Street 12.10 7pm Does Obama Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize with Paul Street Thursday, December 10th [the 12.09 event was cancelled] STILL ON: 7pm, University of Minnesota, West Bank @ Blegen Hall Room 010 Map: http://www1.umn.edu/twincities/maps/BlegH/index.html 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 preparing to send 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, and endorsed by the Iraq Peace Action Coalition and Youth Against War & Racism. --------7 of 13-------- From: Diadra Decker <diadra [at] att.net> Subject: PolyMet mine DEIS 12.10 7pm CITIZEN COMMENTS on the PolyMet Project and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) are CRITICAL! Allowing the first proposed metallic sulfide mine to proceed in Minnesota would impact ALL citizens, especially future generations. This would be very different from the familiar iron mining -- the type of rock in which the copper is located ensures toxic sulfuric-acid pollution for decades if not centuries to come. Comments from members of the public and the communities likely to be affected by the project are critical to whether the PolyMet mining project will be given adequate scrutiny. ACTION OPPORTUNITIES: 1) You and/or your organization can comment on the DEIS. The public comment period is only two more months, DEADLINE is February 3, 2010. Make your voice heard on the topic(s) that concern you most. Use the quick and easy online submission form at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/642/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1839 Alternately, we have a sample letter that you can edit as you see fit, and send by email attachment or print and mail. Just go to http://waterlegacy.org/sites/default/files/deis_public_comment 2) There is a wealth of information available on our website http://waterlegacy.org/ and on other environmental community sites. Share these resources with others, making it a fun time and protecting Minnesota's lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater. Watch and share the new film, "Precious Waters" http://www.friends-bwca.org/news/2009/11/precious-waters-minnesota-sulfide-mining/, endorsed by WaterLegacy, showing some of the highly likely negative impacts of sulfide mining in Minnesota's water wonderland. http://www.preciouswaters.org/ 3) Attend public meetings to learn more about the PolyMet project and to be heard in person: DULUTH - COMMUNITY MEETINGS Sponsored by Sierra Club and other citizen groups -- Two days in a row at Teatro Zuccone 222 East Superior Street! 7 PM, preceded by citizen groups info tables Monday, Dec. 7, and Tuesday, Dec. 10. Thursday, Dec. 10, Schwan Center, National SportsCenter, 1700 105th Avenue Northeast, Blaine, MN 55449. 7 PM, preceded by company and agency displays beginning at 5 PM. Stay tuned for other meeting announcements and DIES developments at http://waterlegacy.org/sites/default/files/deis_public_comment Diadra Decker, WaterLegacy Board member --------8 of 13-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine vigil 12.11 4:15pm The weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul. The Friday demo starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30. There are usually extra signs available. --------9 of 13-------- From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org> Subject: NOW/Guam/TV 12.11 8:30pm NOW | Why Are We Sending Thousands of Military Personnel to Guam? NOW: "Over the next five years, as many as 30,000 service members and their families will descend on the small island of Guam, nearly tripling its presence there. It's part of a larger agreement that the US signed with Japan to realign American forces in the Pacific." --------10 of 13-------- From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org> Subject: Moyers/Zinn 12.11 9pm Bill Moyers Journal | Historian Howard Zinn Bill Moyers Journal: "Renowned historian Howard Zinn has chronicled centuries of people's struggles against oppression and economic exploitation in his "A People's History of the United States" and "A People's History of American Empire." This week, Howard Zinn joins Bill Moyers to discuss the voice of today's people in the shadow of big interests' outsized influence in Washington." Read the Article --------11 of 13-------- Liberals, I Do Despise by Adolph Reed Wednesday, December 9, 2009 CommonDreams.org First Published in The Village Voice, Nov. 12, 1996 [note date] After years of crafting and rationalizing Bill Clinton's version of the attack on poor people, high-ranking Department of Health and Human Services officials May Jo Bane and Peter Edelman resigned recently, several weeks after the president signed the hideous "welfare-reform" bill. David Ellwood, another architect of the welfare overhaul, left a year earlier. I'm sorry, but their grand gesture, tastefully skirting direct criticism of Clinton's action, seems too much like a self-righteous attempt to escape responsibility for their own involvement in bringing this savagery about. To that extent, their crocodile tears underscore the ugly truth of American liberalism. Sometime early in Ronald Reagan's first term, I decided to forget everything I'd always disliked about liberals. I took pains to subordinate what put me off about them to the larger objective of unity against the rightwing onslaught, I decided to overlook their capacity for high-minded fervor for the emptiest and sappiest platitudes; their tendencies to make a fetish of procedure over substance and to look for technical fixes to political problems; their ability to screen out the mounting carnage in the cities they inhabit as they seek pleasant venues for ingesting good coffee and scones; their propensity for aestheticizing other people's oppression and calling that activism; their reflex to wring their hands and look constipated in the face of conflict; and, most of all, their spinelessness and undependability in crises. But during the '80s liberal opinion gradually accommodated to Reaganism by sliding rightward. Two rhetorical justifications emerged for this adaptation. The Democratic Leadership Council called for a new centrism, jettisoning egalitarian politics and the constituencies identified with it. Additionally, an excesses-of-the-'60s-as-fall-from-grace fable propelled this slide and justified the smug dismissal of those of us who didn't want to go along. This new liberalism curtly demanded that we grow up and accept the realpolitik; Reaganism was all our fault for going too far anyway. Bill Clinton's genius is that he managed to embody both the neoliberal and DLC variants of the rightward shift, and combined them with a superficial earnestness that mitigates whatever egalitarian thoughts may linger among those who will to believe in him. So liberals have followed and rationalized and pimped for him through the debacle of his half-assed, insurance company-led health-care reform, NAFTA and GATT, his horribly repressive crime and antiterrorism legislation, and his conspicuous retreat from support of civil rights enforcement. Now Clinton's apologists even attempt to justify his embrace of the abominable welfare- reform bill, stooping to a Flip Wilson defense (Gingrich made him sign it) and using the bill's passage as a reason to vote for Bipartisan Bill (so that he can "fix" what he just did). Talk about will to believe. Or is it will to get paid? Their lapdog defense of Big Bill highlights liberals' willingness to sacrifice the poor and to tout it as tough-minded compassion and an act of courage. Even before Clinton won the Democratic nomination in 1992 this trait was visible, especially among those policy-jock types who had begin to sense the possibility of a Clinton victory and their impending opportunity to consort with power. I got my wake-up call from a poverty-researcher colleague who, on the eve of the Illinois primary, impatiently dismissed my objections to Clinton's having just executed black, impoverished, and brain-damaged Rickey Ray Rector. She blew me off as naive for not recognizing that any Democrat who hoped to win the presidency would have to support capital punishment. "Easy for you to say," I thought, but, regrettably, was too polite to say out loud. Nowhere have the moral and political deficiencies of this liberal notion of realpolitik been more clearly exposed than around the Clinton administration's welfare-reform politics. A decade ago, William Julius Wilson set the tone with The Truly Disadvantaged. In that work, Wilson chided the left for losing credibility, to the benefit of conservative critics, by not facing up to a spreading social pathology among the urban underclass. He proposed a sleight-of-hand approach to helping the poor schmucks through "universal" programs that wouldn't antagonize the better-off by appearing to do anything for poor people in particular. Fittingly, he became a major Clinton apologist in 1992. Following Wilson, David Ellwood, a highly regarded liberal poverty researcher at Harvard's Kennedy School, invented the "two years and off" notion, which he publicized in his 1988 book, Poor Support. Ellwood eased his provocative idea with calls for a battery of support services that would accompany expulsion from the welfare rolls. Like Wilson, he blew off the critics on his left who argued that his costly bundle of safeguards would go nowhere without a forceful challenge to the right-wing climate that his get-'em-off-the-dole slogan accommodated. The fear, now realized, was that his liberal credentials would legitimize the two-years-and-off idea as a programmatic goal without including any of his finely crafted hedges. Attracted by Bubba's call to "end welfare as we know it," Ellwood and Kennedy School colleague Mary Jo Bane headed south to become part of official Washington. They would be the main players in the administration's overhaul of welfare, using two-years-and-off as their centerpiece. Joining the team later was Peter Edelman, the perennially up-and-coming liberal lawyer. He had assailed welfare as early as 1967, employing the coded attack phrase fostering dependence (read: poor folks are lazy bastards). Beneath all this idiotic coyness lie liberals' long-standing aversion to conflict and their refusal to face up to the class realities of American politics. They avoid any linkage of inequality with corporations' use of public policy to drive down living standards and enhance their plunder, So Marian Wright Edelman (Peter's wife) of the Children's Defense Fund concocted the strategy of focusing on children. This save-the-babies politics is not only maudlin (notice how her pal Hillary's "whole village" went so easily from raising a child to stoning poor families in her support of hubby's welfare travesty), it also gives in to the right's demonization of poor adults by conceding their worthlessness in order to focus on their presumably innocent kids. Roll ahead to the summer of 1994. Ellwood and Pane, representing HHS, sat at Daniel P. Moynihan's Senate Finance Committee hearing on Clinton's welfare-reform package (which, by the way, wasn't all that different from the Republican thing he signed). Alongside them was their boss, another liberal stalwart, HHS secretary Donna Shalala. As chief Clintonista, Shelala proclaimed that the purpose of the president's welfare-reform initiative was to eliminate out-of-wedlock births, her underlings nodded in agreement - thus playing into one of the ugliest right-wing canards about social provision. As if that wasn't disgusting enough, when Moynihan invoked the specter of "speciation" - the notion that generations of out-of-wedlock breeding in isolated, impoverished city pockets has created a new "species" - each of the HHS folks nodded again. I'm sure that these good liberals would have explained away their participation in that dehumanizing characterization as a strategic move; their intention being the advancement of humane social policy within an unfavorable political climate. However, their behavior exposes a deeper truth about the political commitments on which this strain of liberalism rests: This is a politics motivated by the desire for proximity to the ruling class and a belief in the basic legitimacy of its power and prerogative. It is a politics which, despite all its idealist puffery and feigned nobility, will sell out any allies or egalitarian objectives in pursuit of gaining the Prince's ear. In a few short years, these sort of liberals have reminded me of all that had troubled me about them, and more. I'd just about convinced myself that my earlier scornfulness was a function of youthful hotheadedness. Some was, but not that much. In the end, it is the poisonous mix of self-righteousness and hypocrisy - as illustrated by Ellwood, Bane, and Edelman - which earns my contempt. Adolph Reed (alreed2 [at] earthlink.net), Professor of Political Science at UPenn, is the author most recently of Class Notes (New Press). --------12 of 13-------- Change ... for the Worse The Devil and Mr. Obama By JOE BAGEANT December 9, 2009 CounterPunch (Note: Patrick Ward, associate editor of the UK's Socialist Review asked Bageant to write a piece for the party publication. This is the unabridged text of Joe's submission.) Well lookee here! An invite from my limey comrades to recap Barack Obama's first year in office. Well comrades, I can do this thing two ways. I can simply state that the great mocha hope turned out to be a Trojan horse for Wall Street and the Pentagon. Or I can lay in an all-night stock of tequila, limes and reefer and puke up the entire miserable tale like some 5,000 word tequila purged Congolese stomach worm. I have chosen to do the latter. As you may know, Obama's public approval ratings are taking a beating. Millions of his former cult members have awakened with a splitting hangover to find their pockets turned inside out and eviction notices on the doors of their 4,000 square foot subprime mortgaged cardboard fuck boxes. Many who voted for Obama out of disgust for the Bush regime are now listening to the Republicans again on their car radios as they drive around looking for a suitable place to hide their vehicles from the repo man. Don't construe this as support for the GOP. It's just the standard ping ponging of disappointment and disgust that comes after the honeymoon is over with any administration. Most Americans' party affiliations are the same as they were when Bush was elected. After all, Obama did not get elected on a landslide by any means; he got 51% of the vote. Right now his approval ratings are in the 40th percentile and would be headed for the basement of the league were it not for the residual effect of the Kool-Aid love fest a year ago. However, millions of American liberals remain faithful, and believe Obama will arise from the dead in the third year and ascend to glory. You will find them at Huffington Post. This frustrating ping pong game in which the margin of first time, disenchanted and undecided voters are batted back and forth has become the whole of American elections. That makes both the Republican and Democratic parties very happy, since it keeps the game down to fighting the enemy they know, each other, as opposed to being forced to deal with the real issues, or worse yet, an independent or third party candidate who might have a solution or two. Thus, the game is limited to two players between two corporate parties. One is the Republican Party, which believes we should hand over our lives and resources directly to the local Chamber of Commerce, so the chamber can deliver them to the big corporations. The other, the Democratic Party, believes we should hand our lives and resources to a Democratic administration - so it alone can deliver our asses to the big dogs who own the country. In the big picture it's always about who gets to deliver the money to the Wall Street hyena pack. Americans may be starting to get the big picture about politics, money and corporate power. But I doubt it. Given that most still believe the war on terrorism is real, and that terrorists always just happen to be found near gas and oil deposits, there is plenty of room left to blow more smoke up their asses. Especially considering how we are conditioned to go into blind fits of patriotism at the sight of the flag, an eagle, or the mention of "our heroes," even if the heroes happen to be killing and maiming Muslim babies at the moment. Patriotism is a cataract that blinds us to all national discrepancies. Much of the rest of the world seems plagued with similar cataracts that keep it from noticing the chasm of discrepancy between what Obama says and what he actually does. The Nobel Committee awarded the 2009 Peace Prize to the very person who dropped the most bombs and killed the most poor people on the planet during that year. The same guy who started a new war in Pakistan, beefed up the ongoing war in Afghanistan, and continues to threaten Iran with attack unless Iran cops to phony US-Israeli charges of secret nuclear weapons facilities. It's weapons of mass destruction all over again. Somewhere in the whole fracas has been forgotten that Iran has been calling for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East since 1974. Iran has also been consistent in its position that "petroleum is a noble material, much too valuable to burn for electricity," and that nuclear energy makes much more sense, given that our food supply, whether we like it or not, is fundamentally dependent upon petrochemicals and will remain so until the earth's population is reduced to at least half of what it is now. The Iranian attitude has been to use the shrinking petroleum deposits as judiciously as possible. To which oilman George Bush replied that "There will be consequences for Iran's attitude." Obama has reinforced Bush's sentiment, stating that not only will there be consequences, but that a military strike on Iran "is not out of the question." Although nuclear weapons are in direct opposition to the Muslim faith, 71 million Iranians must have shuddered and paused to think: "Maybe an Iranian bomb isn't such a bad idea after all." Under cover of being the first "black" president, Obama is looking to best one of the Bush administration's records. And that is causing unshirted hell for anybody two shades darker than a paper bag, particularly if they are wearing sandals (Obama himself being only one shade darker than the bag and given to size eleven black Cole Haans). So far, two million Pakistanis have been, in official US State Department jargon, "displaced" by U.S. backed bombing and gunfire - which will surely displace a fellow if anything will. A significant portion of them are "living with host families." Translation: packed into crowded houses ten to a room, wiping out food and water supplies, crashing already fragile sanitation infrastructure, and serving as a giant human Petrie dish for intestinal and respiratory diseases. Many more are still living in the "conflict area." Makes it sound like living next door to a neighborhood domestic squabble, doesn't it? God only knows how many more innocent people will yet be killed in the conflict area of Obama's "war of necessity." You know, the "good war." The war that is supposed to offset the interminable bad one in Iraq, where we continue to occupy and build more bases. Afghanistan: Grab the opium and run Then there are Obama's noble efforts to fight terrorism by beefing up troop "deployment" in Afghanistan. Deployment may be construed to mean an American style armed gangbang, in which everybody piles on some wretched flea bitten hamlets for all they are worth, with periodic breaks for pizza and video games. Now if you look at the deployment of US forces in Afghanistan, compared to NATO country forces there, you'll find them in a nice even line along what could easily be mistaken for an oil pipeline route. One that taps into the natural gas deposits in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and, by the purest coincidence, just happens to bypass nearby Russia and Iran. But we all know that "It's about fighting terrorism over there so we won't have to fight it here!" That still plays in Peoria, so we're sticking with it. At the moment, out-of-pocket cost of America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is $900 billion. Interest on the debt incurred, plus the waste of productive resources on the war, pushes the cost to three thousand billion dollars (Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz). By comparison, the entire 2009 government budget for elementary and secondary education is slightly above $800 billion. Or to look at it another way, how far would three thousand billion dollars go toward establishing energy independence? As Harvard monetary expert Linda Bilmes points out that there is "no benefit whatsoever for any American whose income does not derive from the military/security complex." I sent an email to Obama pointing this out, suggesting that we pull out of Afghanistan, grab the opium and run. I got a nice reply saying that my president is grateful for the input. So there ya go. Lately there has been a ruckus about our little "slap shop" in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Despite Obama's promises to close down, "Cigarland," it is still open for business. Word has it that Cigarland may be moved to an "underused" maximum security prison (one would think a scarcity of criminals for a maximum security prison would be good news, but what do I know?) in the desperately broke community of Thompson, Illinois. Locals there tell the national press, "Sure, put it in our backyard. No problem." Or, "This town is in the prison business. Prisons R Us." Or more bluntly, "We know how to handle these creeps and we need the jobs." It's the kind of job creation Stalin would have understood. Happiness is a warm tent But at least the recession is over. This, according to Obama's monetary point man, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank. For British readers unfamiliar with the US system, the Federal Reserve is not a government agency, despite its agency like name. "The Fed" is an offshore private banking cartel that decides just how much bogus currency can be printed and circulated profitably for bankers without wrecking their Ponzi schemes. And the chairman of that august body has announced that the recession is over. Well halleluja! We can quit rolling our own cigs and buy ready mades, and run recklessly through the Dollar Store scooping up dented canned goods and cheap Chinese tube socks. That makes us luckier than the three and a half million Americans, most of whom led normal lives a few of years ago, who are now homeless. That includes one million school children sleeping in tents, shelters and other makeshift arrangements, and trying to look presentable each morning at schools that have not even the mercy to let them use the school showers. By the administration's own calculation, the number of homeless and people out of work will continue to escalate at least into the next year. Home foreclosures, and therefore homelessness, "has not topped out yet," says Obama. But Bernanke has announced that the recession is over. So there you have it. A grateful nation breathes a sigh of relief. And besides, he is right about it being over. The recession is over for the most important members of a capitalist society, the oligarchs and banksters, who have made fortunes off this recession, thanks to our unique economic system, and may now return to their standard garden variety usury. Economic systems are merely belief systems. I didn't say that. Keynes said that. For instance, if the early Assyrians believed a shekel was worth a jar of wheat, then it was worth a jar of wheat. American style capitalism eventually stretched belief to the absolute limits of fantasy to the snapping point, as regards general credulity. Nobody abroad still believes the dollar is worth folding up and sticking in a wallet, certainly not worth exchanging for a good old fashioned shekel. However, be it shekels or dollars or euros, there is no economic system at all if there is no production. And there is no production if there are no jobs. Hence the obsession with unemployment rates. The U.S. Ministry of Truth has announced that our unemployment rate is at 10%. I've yet to meet an American who does not know the official unemployment rate is a complete fiction. One half of the unemployed - the half that has been unemployed for more than one year - are simply erased from the official count. Poof! The real rate is somewhere around 20%. But if we acknowledged that, we'd have to admit to being on par with Europe's unemployment rate. And by diddle damned we can never do that. Every American fully understands that the purpose of life is to hang onto one meaningless job or another, two of them if possible. And by the state's official numbers more Americans have a white knuckled grip on the life's purpose than any of those pussy socialist European nations with their free healthcare, low infant mortality rates and ridiculously long vacations. But the bad news, which the Obama administration openly acknowledges, is this: Unemployment will in all likelihood go higher. And nobody on earth knows how to reduce it (although no one in the administration is about to acknowledge that). The factories are all but gone and they are not coming back. Not unless American workers are willing to work 13 hours a day for two Chinese yuan an hour, which is about 31 cents. What US factories remain are laying workers off due to high interest rates, and waiting for a lower interest rate policy before deciding if it is feasible to call any workers back into production. During their wait they can watch hell freeze over. Banks know a fatter hog when they see it. And that hog is the consumer credit business (nobody has figured out yet that consumers need paychecks before they can consume anything, on credit or otherwise ). To that end the Federal Reserve has logically set a low interest rate policy. And in true accordance with banking logic, the banks took the Fed's money, then raised the annual percentage rate (APR) on credit card purchases and cash advances and on balances that have a penalty rate because of late payment. Next they raised the late fee. What the hell? If Americans are on the ropes, struggling to make their payments on time, then the logical thing to do is to stick it to them. Bleed 'em for all they're worth. It's an American free market tradition. We the people do not complain. We expect no mercy. America is a business and the American concept of business is pure ruthlessness. A Deutsche Bank analyst tells me a near term worst is yet to come. Bank failures and home foreclosures have not peaked. A commercial real estate bust is coming down the pike. He says that, while there will be some minor periodic upswings, the fraudulent value of the dollar is now evident as it falls against every other currency, even the Russian ruble (13%), except those unlucky enough to be pegged to the US dollar. As former Assistant Secretary of Treasury Paul Craig Roberts says: "What sort of recovery is it when the safest investment an American can make is to bet against the US dollar?" My Deutsche Bank friend, who is younger and has a family to think about, has taken what he considers more appropriate action. He's buying gold and moving to an undeveloped Central American country. But Mr. Bernanke assures us that the worst is indeed over. Despite the outside world's serious doubts, but Bernanke's announcement just might fly in the U.S. We believe whatever our Ministry of Truth tells us. We believed that debt was wealth, didn't we? And we believed in WMDs, and have come to believe warfare is a prerequisite to peace. The saddest thing is that Americans are cultivated like mushrooms from birth to death, kept in the dark and fed horseshit. Consequently, they haven't the slightest idea that there is an alternative to the system in which they labor at the pleasure of corporate and financial elites who own both their government and their every waking hour. That alternative is democratic Socialism. Self governance for the broadest common good. Which the Ministry of Truth has defined for them as fascism. Healthcare and environment? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha I would guess that you have heard about the "debate" over "healthcare reform in America." There really wasn't much debate, just a lot of thuggish behavior and wild tales of geriatric death panels by the right, and groveling capitulation on the left. The "reform" turned out to be a $70 billion a year giveaway to the insurance companies, by forcing those 45 million folks who cannot afford insurance at all to buy it anyway. Taxpayer dollars will make up the difference between what can be wrung out of the working poor, and what insurance corporations can demand and get because they have a throat lock on both of the other parties involved - the doctors and the patients. As for the doctors, they have played it so cool butter wouldn't melt in theor mouths, and successfully avoided the question of whether their quarter million dollar and up incomes just might be contributing to the exorbitant cost of healthcare. Even with a majority in Congress, the best Obama and the Democratic Party's corporate lapdogs could come up with was total handover to the insurance industry. If this smells a bit suspicious, it is the sweat of cold fear you are smelling. The insurance companies have always made it clear they have billions to spend in defeating and destroying any elected official not on their side. As for environmental legislation, under the Obama administration environmentalism is pretty much reduced to "cap and trade." In the truest spirit of capitalism, corporations will be able to sell their pollution for a profit, instead of ending it. And even this legislation barely made it through the House of Representatives. Moreover, environmental legislation has had the snot knocked out of it by the economic crash, and opinion polls now show the American public believes the price is too dear. It should be interesting to see what price their children will be willing to pay for oxygen and water. Goldstone who? Just when you think your country has reached the limits of raw shame and the outer banks of rogue internationalism occupied by Korea's Kim Jong-Il and Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, it surprises you with some new and worse outrage. America's latest is right up there with holocaust denial in sheer unmitigated abrasive gall - putting the kibosh on the UN's Goldstone Report. The report documents Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Ghetto, where 1.5 million Palestinians have been held miserable hostages by Israel. Admittedly, leadership both in Gaza and Israel is nothing short of a pack of criminals. But the Israeli attack on civilians and civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and schools, using illegal munitions such as skin melting white phosphorus, was a war crime by every definition. The UN and the world agree that it meets and exceeds the Nuremberg standard that the US established in order to execute Nazis. But as any American will tell you, the United States has never considered itself part of the rest of the world or in any way obliged to join. So the rest of the world was not surprised when the US House of Representatives voted 344 to 36 to condemn the Goldstone Report. The Obama administration has promised Zionist groups that it will never let the report get to the criminal court. The perps are safe. Zionists everywhere threw their hats in the air and cheered. The AIPAC boys at the back of the room nodded in approval: "Now tell us Congressmen, who's yer daddy?" I might add at this point that I am not one of those conspiracy freaks who see Zionist plots behind everything. The Zionists are but one of many backstage operators with a death grip on some aspect of U.S. policy. Frankly, of all the greaseballs and thugs muscling US domestic and international policy, I fear the Wall Street and the bankers far more than I fear any Zionist (except maybe that spooky shapeshifting motherfucker, Rahm Emanuel. Brrrr!). In any case, most Americans have never heard of the attack on Gaza or the Goldstone Report. They were prevented from hearing the outside world's news coverage of the grisly two week long specter. Residing in a free Central American country at the time, I was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to hear the daily dispatches from inside Gaza, despite Israeli efforts to suppress them. About the only place the Zionist misinformation machinery really worked was in the United States, where it successfully repressed media coverage of Israeli atrocities and genocide. Not that it required great effort. American politicians and media long ago learned, as a client state of Zion, to look the other way. Or if that is not possible, to support one of the prepackaged lies conveniently provided the U.S. media by the Likudnik media management apparatus. "And besides, weren't the Palestinians the fuckers who danced in the streets after 9/11? Screw 'em! We now return to Cable News coverage of last night's America's Got Talent winners, the ZOOperstars!" The man with the plan The same day the assault on Gaza began, January 4, 2009, president elect Obama announced he would create or save three or four million jobs during his first two years in office. Ninety percent of them were to be in the private sector, of which about 400,000 would be in building roads, bridges, schools and broadband lines. Another 400,000 were predicted in solar panels, wind turbines, fuel-efficient cars; and one million in healthcare and education. The key term here was "jobs saved." Any job not lost apparently goes in the jobs created column. I'm rather math impaired, but it seems to me that with real unemployment at about twenty percent and rising, and job losses predicted by the administration to continue for at least another year, it's hard to see how the claim can be made. I suppose that as long as three million jobs remain in the US economy, Obama can claim to have saved them. I'd be the first to admit it's all over my head, and a damned good example of why I am not suited for public office. Then too, I never did understand Bill Clinton's surplus either. Political math is done in some fourth dimension anti-space where terrestrial rules do not apply. One thing I do know is that for every dollar a worker would earn under Obama's plan, a capitalist corporation employing the worker would earn almost two dollars. That Mexican guy balling sod along the new highway's median strip for the contractor may be making eight bucks an hour he wouldn't have otherwise earned. But he is making his employer about $15.50 on the same hour. As a younger man in Colorado I balled sod, hired the Mexicans and passed out the paychecks, so I know. First rule about capitalist math is: The capitalist owner gets to do the math. So Obama's plan lines more corporate pockets than those of the working man. This being America however, Obama was charged by conservatives with having an anti-capitalist socialist agenda. These businessmen conservatives are more than happy to take the money. But the rule of thumb in America is "Show No Gratitude! Bite the living hell out of any hand that feeds you, on the chance that it may give up more. Maybe even drop everything it is holding so you can grab it up and run while a crowd gathers to stone the alleged socialist." But the truth is that Obama's jobs would have done nothing to help the economy "recover" anyway. There is no economy left to recover. It moved to China and India. Things such as road projects do not generate capital. Under capitalism roads are worthless unless they make money, and they can do no economic good if there is nothing being manufactured to haul on them. Likewise education that does not contribute the gross national product (otherwise known as corporate interests) by producing higher wages to exponentially pump up American consumer fetishism is considered worthless. And let's face it, higher education has become, for the most part, another racket. The student is saddled with massive loan debt (again, there is the odor of hyena banker spoor in the air) on the promise of eventual higher wages. Or at least that the graduate will work in a nice warm dry video store and never have to ball sod. Unfortunately, the number of jobs that require "college educated" Americans - quite an oxymoron, given the caliber of U.S. colleges these days - is shrinking right along with the Empire. All those jobs middle managing the Republic, such as helping us cheat on our taxes, brainwashing the school kids, and devising sales strategies for beer, grow scarcer by the day. Even book editing and reading medical scans are being outsourced to Asia. There's a nasty rumor that American medical scans are being read in India by trained Buddhist temple monkeys to save rupees. The US healthcare industry has been mum on the subject. Obama's recovery plan depends on going deeper in hock to the Chinese. For Christ sake, aren't there any of our tax dollars lying around anyplace other than in Wall Street vaults? Apparently not. So the Treasury Department keeps cranking out more funny money to make payments on the pawn ticket for the Empire. Rather like those doddering old Englishmen one meets on estates in rural Kent sporting "The Queen's Own" military ties, we still prefer to think of ourselves as an Empire. But the Chinese are looking askance, questioning the wisdom of pouring more money down a rat hole, based upon the US Treasury's allegation that the other end of the rat hole comes out somewhere in China and not on Wall Street. Chinese talk shows publicly question American loans, when upcoming powerhouses such as Brazil are so ripe for investment. You can bet that if it's on television in China, the public is being issued an official state sanctioned opinion they may feel free hold as their own. The big heist In the end the campaign rattle and prattle about Obama's recovery plan turned out to be moot anyway. Wall Street moved in and heavied up on the whole damned country, in one of the ballsiest heists in American history. It was a stroke of pure genius as theft goes. Following a meeting of the Five Families, Citicorp, Bank of America, Morgan Chase, Wachovia, Taunus Corp., the financial cartels said, "The rip-off is in. We got it all. Now if you don't hand over all the people's savings and assets so we can loan it back to them, the whole flaming ball of shit you call the services and information economy is gonna come down on everybody's asses like a giant meteor. So you can load three trillion bucks for now into the armored cars lined up out front and nobody will get hurt. Or you can watch the national economy shrivel up until the schmucks out there in the cul de sacs and cardboard condos can't even put together cab fare for their ride to the poor house. It's your call Barack." There are still a few delusional souls out there who believe Obama is trying to do his honest best to fulfill campaign promises, but just cannot get past the pack of vampire financial corporations and cold blooded Republican lizards. Which is true in a sense. He cannot get past the Wall Street pack because he is running in the middle of it. Obama's nefarious relationship with Wall Street's power players has been ongoing for years. It is no accident that Wall Street got to select the members of the president's financial cabinet. My mutton eating friends, it's a sad and sordid tale, one I have neither the space nor the stomach to cover here. Especially since better journalists such as Matt Taibbi and others have written extensively about it in detail. Last I heard, the banks never un-assed the dough. Never let it circulate in the people's hands or even through business loans. Instead, they declared a profit, divvied it up in bonuses, and congratulated themselves. Indeed, this was the sort of sheer brilliance we have come to expect from the Yale/Harvard MBA crowd. Getting rich by going broke. Then getting even richer by sticking up the US government and the entire American public, and eventually the entire world, leaving 1.5 quadrillion dollar cloud of toxic derivatives girding the world, to hoover up more money for them before imploding like a dark star. And indeed, the derivatives are even astronomical in nature. They represent $180,000 in debt load for every man woman and child on earth (although I cannot understand why, if the money isn't real, why we should consider the debt real). It is impossible to produce our way out of this calamity. There aren't even enough resources left on earth to sustain that scale of production. For now the financial mobsters have retired to Tuscan villas to savor their haul. The poor schmucks out there in the US heartland are left to devise new ways of hiding the family ride from the repo man. Never once, though, do they doubt capitalism. They figure it is all just a big financial accident. Fate. And that will somehow "work our way out of it," like we always have. These things happen in a dynamic free market economy. A new mob moves in To backtrack, that was when the smell of long green flying out of the public - the insurance industry. Insurance racketeers moved in with their own muscle to fill the void left by the Wall Street gang. The insurance syndicate dispatched its made men and soldiers throughout the halls of Congress, and, voila! They were able to pass the aforementioned $70 billion a year political blackmail job off as "reform legislation." Say what you want to about my country, but pillage and looting have never been so elegantly ritualized, institutionalized and executed. Realistic people on the left have long known that the last act of American strong-arm capitalism would be a massive gunpoint redistribution of wealth from the public to the owning class through the private financial sector - which the owning class happens to own. But few would have expected it to be executed under a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate. Or under a Democratic administration honchoed by the first black president. One liberal blogger wondered aloud, "Imagine what the Republicans would have done had John McCain been elected?" The same thing, brother. The same thing. Only with a different cover story. Both parties exist at the pleasure of the same crime syndicates. How to join the rackets As I remember, it was a Mexican diplomat who once told me that graft, theft and bribery are socialized in his and other Latin American countries - democratically distributed throughout much of society. But in America, he said, this sort of criminal activity is legislatively institutionalized. Only the elites are allowed to practice usury, theft, insurance blackmail and other forms of non-violent looting (violent looting being reserved for oil bearing Middle Eastern countries). The first step in building one of these rackets is become a legally recognized interest group, in order to access the key Congressional players you wish to bribe or strong-arm into acquiescence or complicity. The banking mob, the insurance mob, and other criminally organized legislative muscle men, cartels and commodity syndicates, are all officially sanctioned as "interest groups" operating alongside hundreds of others in that whorehouse by the Potomac River. To list just a few, there are environmental interest groups such as the Sierra Club, which exists so its officers can draw fat salaries and meet movie star environmentalists. There is an interested group for education, which exists to assure the mediocrity of our public schools. Munitions manufacturers are an interest group. Gambling casinos and tobacco corporations are interest groups. There is an interest group to force feed us corn sugar, in order to sustain Midwestern Republican farmers and ensure the future of the ever expanding weight loss and diabetes industries. There are even lobby groups to protect the interests of syndicates in other countries, such as Israel. There is an interest group for everything except we ordinary American pudwhackers. The folks who just want to raise families in peace, and maybe have modest financial security in old age. And there are thousands of interest groups whose purpose is to make damned sure we never get either one. We ain't mean, just thrifty Yesterday I watched a CNN host ask two experts: "Is stepping up the war in Afghanistan really the best use of our tax dollars?" The killing, maiming and displacement of untold thousands is discussed in terms of the best use of capital. A dehumanized and monetized capitalist society sees everything in dollars and cents and return on investment. Even infant mortality is rated that way, though seldom does anyone admit it. Saving a black ghetto baby has a low return on investment, according to some human services analysts, as regards their lifetime contribution to the gross national product. I actually heard an expert on a television panel show say this. Yet Americans sitting in front of their TV sets do not find this one bit odd. Or even mean spirited, much less an indication of a cruel society. No American thinks of himself or herself as cruel, or connected in any way with the world's largest human and environmental killing machine. No American doubts his inalienable right to drive around or run air conditioning or drink wine from grapes grown in Chile at the expense of a national war on the environment and those of the world's people who have been born amid energy resources. If there are things such as cruelty and injustice, we the people aren't the ones doing it. We the voters and taxpayers are not the CIA snatching people off to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to be raped with broken bottles and boiled alive to extract those "terrorist confessions" that keep the war on terror alive. We simply finance such operations. And accountability? Well, on the very slight chance that someday the world will hold America accountable (which will never happen so long as we possess more armaments that the rest of the world combined and are quite clearly willing to use them toward our own ends) we the people can express our shock and disgust as citizens. We good people would never, never, never have approved of all those awful acts. And besides, there is not much the ordinary person can do about such things anyway. Right? Maybe not. But it was Americans who so loudly proclaimed that complicity through silence is no defense, when we rubbed the German people's noses in the grisly filth of the concentration camps and hung their national leadership. The revenge of Smirking George We haven't heard much from George W. Bush since he packed up his comics and moved to Dallas. But his policies remain like dog piss stains to stink up the Obama White House. Rendition and assassinations continue, as does warrantless spying on the citizenry, along with other civil liberties violations in the name of the "war on terror." 1 - No quail hunter is Georgia will ever be safe as long as Cheney's pacemaker still functions; 2 - The precedents set by the most criminal administration in US history remain. Until they are confronted and rectified, America will not to have the opportunity to heal and recover. Honestly speaking though, the patient has been dead since the 2000 election fraud went unchallenged. Obama's election was the best chance America had to hold the Bush Republicans accountable for their crimes. Now it's gone. Opportunities to exercise moral principles as a nation and a people are rare to begin with, and fast vanishing. At some point they will be extinguished by the exigencies of human species survival. It doesn't take a prophet to know this. Anyone paying attention to planetary population, resource depletion and the eco-collapse understands it in the gut. The mounting worldwide competition for human survival will not allow for much high mindedness. So we should exercise principle and administration of justice while principle and justice are still possible. There are endless rationalizations proffered as to why Obama has not come within a mile of fulfilling the promise and potential of his presidency, and the Democratic Party is writing more of them every day. Disappointed Democratic voters grab at them, and desperately defend each one on internet forums and in letters to the editor. But we must use our own personal capabilities as free rational human beings to assess Obama, and decide why he is failing. Or not failing. To hell with highly crafted official explanations about "wars of necessity" and trillion dollar blackmail payments. George W. Bush left office wearing the same smirk he came in with. Perhaps it's congenital. But if Bush was smirking when he left office, he must now be convulsed in crazed hysterical laughter. His gang not only got away clean, but Obama carries on the dark Bush-Cheney legacy. And, almost as if to top the whole black escapade with a cherry of irony, the most inarticulate president in American history is now on the motivational speaking circuit at $200,000 a pop. Never let it be said that the Devil does not care for his own. Will Americans ever rise up in defense of their own common well being through such things as education, health and a productive peace caring society? Nope. Because it has been seen to that socialism - the administration of the nation solely for the common good and benefit of all the people without preference or privilege - doesn't stand a chance in America. For over a century those who have attempted to further socialism have been shot, hanged, burned alive in their beds on Christmas Eve, imprisoned, falsely accused of crimes and falsely convicted, and demonized by the capitalist elites of the corporate state. The cause of socialism has effectively been wiped out in the US. Few Americans can even define the word. Most think it is a political system when it is a social philosophy. Hell, half the socialists these days think it is entirely a political system. But even if Americans understood socialism, they are too terrified to ever admit to its virtues, much less publicly support the cause. And without free and open public participation in some democratic form of socialism, regardless of the name or label given it, there can be no recognition of the people's common welfare and good. And so the most egalitarian social philosophy ever conceived dies within a nation, with very little chance of being reborn because such an ideal, by its definition, cannot exist within the narrow mindset of bankers and oligarchs. Bush smirks, Obama breakdances in and around the minefield of his false promises, and Wall Street CEO bonuses are higher than ever. Like I said, the Devil does take care of his own. Joe Bageant is author of the book, Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War. (Random House Crown), about working class America. He is also a contributor to Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance from the Heartland (AK Press). A complete archive of his on-line work, along with the thoughts of many working Americans on the subject of class may be found on ColdType and Joe Bageant.s website, joebageant.com. --------13 of 13-------- Dearest Obama, Mister American warlord, please go Af yourself! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
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