Progressive Calendar 12.10.09
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
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