Progressive Calendar 01.01.10
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Fri, 1 Jan 2010 18:39:52 -0800 (PST)
           P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   01.01.10

1. Peace walk       1.02 9am Cambridge MN
2. Work justice     1.02 10am
3. CUAPB            1.02 1:30pm
4. Northtown vigil  1.02 2pm
5. Amy Goodman/CTV  1.02 9pm

6. Stillwater vigil 1.03 1pm
7. Peace walk       1.03 6pm RiverFalls WI

8. Ralph Nader     - The awful truth/ liberals begin to bail on Obama
9. Robert Freeman  - The real top ten stories of the past decade
10. David Sirota   - A decade's top ten quotations
11. Dave Lindorff  - 2009 ended early/ the year of our discontent
12. Bob Sommer     - Snarling dog year/ meet the new boss, same as the old
13. Andrew Bacevich - Obama's post-modern war of attrition
14. Gilad Atzmon   - Avatar/ James Cameron's anti-war film
15. Peter Phillips - American mantra: free market capitalism and Obama
16. ed             - Baby bunny on the grass  (haiku)

--------1 of 16--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Peace walk 1.02 9am Cambridge MN

every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM
Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street


--------2 of 16--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org>
Subject: Work justice 1.02 10am

January 2: Workplace Justice Support/Networking Meeting. 10 AM - Noon at
the Minnesota Women's Building, 550 Rice Street, St. Paul. More
information: 952-996-9291.


--------3 of 16--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com>
Subject: CUAPB 1.02 1:30pm

Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue
South http://www.CUAPB.org

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)


--------4 of 16--------

From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 1.02 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday
2-3pm


--------5 of 16--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: Amy Goodman/CTV 1.02 9pm

Minneapolis Television Network (MTN) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and
Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow!  Households with basic cable may
watch.

Saturday, 1/2, 9pm and Tues, 1/5, 8am
"Amy Goodman: Breaking the Sound Barrier: Part 2 "

Talk by Amy recently given at the University of Minnesota. Amy, as well as
Denis Moynihan, had recently been stopped and interrogated by armed border
guards while crossing into Canada. Amy speaks personally about her parents
and experiences in her youth as well as the national debate on health care
reform. (11/29/09)


--------6 of 16--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 1.02 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to
<http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560


--------7 of 16--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Peace walk 1.03 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022


--------8 of 16--------

Liberals Begin to Bail on Obama
The Awful Truth
By RALPH NADER
January 1 - 3, 2010
CounterPunch

Those long-hoping, long-enduring members of the liberal intelligentsia are
starting to break away from the least-worst mindset that muted their
criticisms of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign.

They still believe that the President is far better than his Republican
counterpart would have been. Some still believe that sometime, somewhere,
Obama will show his liberal stripes. But they no longer believe they
should stay loyally silent in the face of the escalating war in
Afghanistan, the near collapse of key provisions in the health insurance
legislation, the likely anemic financial regulation bill, or the obeisance
to the bailed out Wall Street gamblers.  Remember this Administration more
easily embraces bonuses for fat cats than adequate investment in public
jobs.

Of all the loyalists, among the first to stray was Bob Herbert, columnist
for The New York Times. He wondered about his friends telling him that
Obama treats their causes and them "as if they have nowhere to go". Then
there was the stalwart Obamaist, the brainy Gary Wills, who broke with
Obama over Afghanistan in a stern essay of admonition.

If you read the biweekly compilation of progressive and liberal columnists
and pundits in the Progressive Populist, one of my favorite publications,
the velvet verbal gloves are coming off.

Jim Hightower writes that "Obama is sinking us into 'Absurdistan'". He
bewails: "I had hoped Obama might be a more forceful leader who would
reject the same old interventionist mindset of those who profit from
permanent war. But his newly announced Afghan policy shows he is not that
leader".

Wonder where good ol' Jim got that impressioncertainly - not from anything
Obama said or did not say in 2008. But hope dims the memory of the awful
truth which is that Obama signed on to the Wall Street and
military-industrial complex from the get-go. He got their message and is
going after their campaign contributions and advisors big time!

Norman Solomon expressed his sharp deviation from his long-time
admiration of the politician from Chicago. He writes: "President Obama
accepted the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize while deliveringto - the world as it
is - a pro-war speech. The context instantly turned the speech's insights
into flackery for more war". Strong words indeed!

Arianna Huffington has broken in installments. But her disillusionment is
expanding. She writes: "Obama isn't distancing himself from "the Left"
with his decision to escalate this deepening disaster [in Afghanistan].
He's distancing himself from the national interests of the country".

John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper's Magazine, was never an Obama fan
and has been upset with what he calls "the liberal adoration of Obama". In
a piece for the Providence Journal, he cites some writers still loyal to
Obama, such as Frank Rich of The New York Times, Hendrick Hertzberg of The
New Yorker, and Tom Hayden, who are showing mild discomfort in the midst
of retained hope over Obama's coming months. They have not yet cut their
ties to the masterspeaker of "Hope and Change".

Gary Wills has crossed his Rubicon, calling Obama's Afghanistan escalation
"a betrayal". Wills is a scholar of both the Presidency and of political
oratory (his small book on Lincoln's Gettysburg address is a classic
interpretation). So he uses words carefully, to wit: "If we had wanted
Bush's wars, and contractors, and corruption, we could have voted for John
McCain. At least we would have seen our foe facing us, not felt him at our
back, as now we do".

Rest assured the liberal-progressive commentariat has another two years to
engage in challenge and chagrin. For in 2012, silence will mute their
criticisms as the stark choices of the two-party tyranny come into view
and incarcerate their minds into the least-worst voting syndrome (just as
they have done in recent Presidential election years).

It is hard to accord them any moral breaking point under such self-imposed
censorship. Not much leverage in that approach, is there?

[Precisely why I'd like people cut the umbilical cord now in 2010, rather
than wait till 2012, when many will do the same old lesser-evil dance. The
Dem masters want everyone to wait and hold their breaths till 2012, when
they can brainsmash them again with "the mature option" - and many will
once again fall, not having the ability ever to learn from experience, nor
the courage to strike out on a new unfamilar path, nor the understanding
of how their actions promote war, torture, bailouts etc - but it makes
them "feel good" for a few months to "do the mature thing" - and of course
help blast the hopes for any real alternative for anyone else or the
future. Criminal short-sightness and moral incompetence. -ed]

Ralph Nader is the author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, a novel.


--------9 of 16--------

The Real Top Ten Stories of the Past Decade
by Robert Freeman
Friday, January 1, 2010
CommonDreams.org

The media are awash with talking heads bloviating about the top stories of
the last decade.  The wired-in society.  The growth of organic food.  The
new frugality.  This is the ritual that reveals their true function in the
culture:  pacification.  It's their way of signaling the masses that
Bigger Thinkers are looking after things, so go back to your Wii or
Survivor or Facebook reveries.

The amazing thing is how little is ever mentioned about the stories that
really mattered, those that affected the very nature of our society, its
institutions, and the relation of the people to their state and society.

Those stories paint a picture of danger, of a people who have lost control
of their government and the corporations that own it.  But you'll hear
nary a word about such difficult truths from any storyteller in the
conventional media.

So here, in no particular order, are my Top Ten Stories of the Naughties,
the ones that really matter.

1. The Supreme Court hijacking the 2000 presidential election.  This isn't
even a historical controversy anymore.  Al Gore won the national popular
vote by 570,000.  And we now know he would have won the Florida vote as
well if the vote counting had not been stopped by the Supreme Court.
This was literally a right wing judicial coup d' etat, so it's
understandable that it's never mentioned in the "right" kind of circles.

2. Bush knew of 9/11 long before it actually happened.  Three years before
Bush took office, the neo-cons' Project For a New American Century called
for a "new Pearl Harbor" to galvanize the nation into a war to seize
Middle East oil.  And even before the event itself, Bush-as-president was
warned dozens of times of the imminent attack, the most notorious being
the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing titled, "Bin Laden
Determined to Strike in U.S".  Amazingly nothing was done to prevent the
attack.  But even less is it advertised that Bush knew.

3. Iraq was all premised on lies, yet we're still there.  Saddam Hussein
wasn't pursuing Weapons of Mass Destruction.  He wasn't involved in 9/11.
He wasn't engaged with Al Qaeda.  As with the 2000 election hijacking, we
know all these things.  And we know they were false at the time they were
proffered.  Yet, there we are, with no intent to leave, our very presence
spitting in the face of International Law and the international community
we so unctuously pretend to respect.

4. The Global War on Terror.  Or more specifically, the ease with which
the "GWOT" has replaced the Cold War as the justification for the
ever-increasing militarization of society.  What happened to the post-Cold
War "Peace Dividend"?  The U.S continues to spend more on the military
than all the rest of the world combined.  It continues to maintain over
700 military bases around the world.  And it continues to manufacture
excuses for foreign interventions whenever weapons makers and military
logistics companies need more profits - which is forever.

5. The fact that 2/3 of all economic growth went to top 1%.  John
Kennedy's social contract had a rising tide lifting all boats.  But over
the last decade 2/3 of all economic growth has gone to the top 1% of
income earners.  Meanwhile the middle class has suffered a $13 trillion
writedown in wealth as a result of the housing collapse.  The banking
bailout and the health care "reform" debate showed as never before the
extent to which corporations have captured government and use it to
redirect national wealth to themselves and their owners.

6. The Neo-Feudalization of the American economy.  The top 1% of wealth
holders own 41% of all the assets in the country while the bottom 40% own
absolutely nothing.  Meanwhile, workers are saddled with $12 trillion of
national debt, an effective indentured servitude that will bind them to
their corporate masters for the rest of their lives.  This is the working
definition of feudalism, where the rich own everything and everybody else
has nothing but their proffered labor and their obligations to their
masters.  The Hapsburgs, the Tudors, and the Bourbons would be jealous.

7. The surrender of civil liberties.  Despite the Fourth Amendment
supposedly protecting us against unreasonable searches and seizures, the
government can now read your email and listen to your phone calls without
any probable cause.  The Obama administration has gone to court to prevent
the re-institution of Habeas Corpus, suspended during the Bush
administration.  We are much less free, much less protected from
brutalization by our own government than we were just ten years ago.

8. The failure of "the free market" to sustain prosperity.  The "free
market" has long been an ideological dodge used to resist real government
regulation of the economy.  Still, the ideal was supposed to deliver
prosperity in a stable, sustainable matter.  Now we have the greatest
global economic collapse since the Great Depression, with the government
transferring $11 trillion to the banks to cover their sociopathically
greedy bets that went bust.  All in the name of deregulation, with future
regulation vigorously resisted.  Is this a deranged country or what?

9. The collapse of the media.  We once imagined it would guard the hen
house.  Yet that was an anomaly, a freak event around Vietnam and
Watergate when it slipped its leash.  Since then, sixty independent media
outlets have consolidated into five, all retailing the ideology of the
powerful, the perpetrators, laundering their lies, covering up the truth,
and harassing the truth tellers.  In every story mentioned above, the
mainstream media have worked to ensure that the people didn't know the
truth about the forfeiture of their government, their wealth, their
security, and their rights.

10. The meaninglessness of elections.  This is the most embittering
revelation of all.  Despite the greatest electoral majority since Johnson
crushed Goldwater in '64, Barrack Obama has betrayed everything he ran on.
In every case where he had the opportunity to confront power - in
financial bailouts, financial regulation, health care, wars and military
spending, utilities and global warming, national surveillance - Obama has
sided with the rich and powerful against the interests of the American
people.  He has probably engendered more cynicism, more disaffection with
government than any president since Richard Nixon.  It will deal a
staggering blow to the hopes of mobilizing masses of people again for a
real takeback of government.  And he's not even one year into it.

History paints decades with broad brushes-the Roaring Twenties, The
Depression, World War II. Historians will look back on the Naughts as the
time when Americans Lost Their Country.  It was the decade when all the
institutions that they believed would protect them - the media, the
courts, Congress, the market, a messianic new president - in fact betrayed
them. It will forever more be a different country.

But not just yet.  Did I tell you about the big move to locally-grown
produce?

Robert Freeman writes on history, economics, and education. Email to:
robertfreeman10 [at] yahoo.com.


--------10 of 16--------

A Decade's Top Ten Quotations
by David Sirota
January 1, 2010
The Oregonian
Common Dreams

While I'm loathe to write a top-10 list, if only for fear of falling short
of Dave Letterman's legendary bit, I'm making an exception in this first
week of 2010 - a moment when we get to not only make New Year's
resolutions, but resolutions for the new decade. As we make those
prospective pledges, let's take a moment to look back at the Top Ten
Quotations from the last 10 years - the ones telling us some painful
truths about our country, society and worldview; the ones that might
inform us of what we need to do as we move forward:

10. "They frankly own the place." - Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., in 2009
admitting the taboo about banks' influence in Congress.

9. "Haven't we already given money to rich people ... Shouldn't we be
giving money to the middle?" - President George W. Bush in November 2002,
acknowledging to advisers that he knew his tax cuts were giveaways to the
super-wealthy.

8. "Keep your government hands off my Medicare." - Anti-health care
protester at an August 2009 congressional town hall meeting in South
Carolina - the single most succinct sign that our country has become an
Idiocracy.

7. "We did this for the show." - Falcon Heene on Oct. 15, 2009, telling
CNN that the Balloon Boy chase was a hoax. The declaration demonstrated
that the media's 24-7 knee-jerk sensationalism is irresponsible and proved
that America's culture of celebrity aspiration is completely out of
control.

6. "As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know they're
some things we do not know. But there're also unknown unknowns; the ones
we don't know we don't know." - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Feb.
12, 2002, effectively telling us that the government had no idea what it
was doing by invading Iraq.

5. "Bring 'em on." - President George W. Bush on July 2, 2003, daring
al-Qaida to attack U.S. troops - yet more proof that the elite defines
"toughness" as politicians flippantly sacrificing young American lives for
Washington's hubristic ideologies.

4. "The investment community feels very put-upon. They feel there is no
reason why they shouldn't earn $1 million to $200 million a year, and they
don't want to be held responsible for the global financial meltdown." -
Daniel Fass, chairman of President Barack Obama's financial-industry
fundraising party on Oct. 19, 2009, insisting that despite wrecking the
economy and then being handed trillions of bailout dollars, Wall Street is
a victim.

3. "$500,000 is not a lot of money, particularly if there is no bonus." -
Wall Street compensation consultant James Reda on Feb. 3, 2009, giving The
New York Times a good example of just how totally out of touch the
super-rich really are.

2. "I didn't campaign on the public option." - President Obama on Dec.
22, 2009, expecting the public to forget that his presidential campaign
platform explicitly promised to pass health care legislation giving all
Americans "the opportunity to enroll in new public plan."

1. "It doesn't matter." - Vice President Dick Cheney on Nov. 5, 2006,
referring to polls repeatedly showing the majority of Americans oppose the
Iraq war - a sign the ruling class truly does not care about the demands
of the public.

These epigrams expose a nation that has internalized and accepted the
forces of avarice, corruption, dishonesty, incompetence and insensitivity.
Some of them are darkly funny, some of them are gut-wrenchingly sad - but
all of them are warnings. Whether we listen to them or not will be the
difference between repeating the last decade's folly or learning from it.

Here's to resolutions for the new decade that finally choose the latter.

 2010 Creators.com
David Sirota is a bestselling author whose newest book is "The Uprising."
He is a fellow at the Campaign for America's Future and a board member of
the Progressive States Network-both nonpartisan organizations. His blog is
at www.credoaction.com/sirota.


--------11 of 16--------

2009 Ended Early
The Year of Our Discontent
By DAVE LINDORFF
CounterPunch
January 1 - 3, 2010

You know, the year 2009 started out kind of nicely. We watched Barack
Obama take the oath of office, serenaded by the awesome Aretha Franklin
(wearing her awesome hat), after first hearing Pete Seeger sing the real
Woody Guthrie verses to "This Land Is Your Land" on the steps of the
Lincoln Monument.

And we saw Congress pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to correct a
scum-sucking decision by the US Supreme Court's conservative woman-hating,
corporation-loving majority that said women (and minorities and the
elderly) couldn't sue for pay discrimination unless they acted within six
months of the initiation of the violation, even if they didn't learn about
it until years later.

Great stuff.

But basically, that was it. The promise of an Obama Presidency, and of the
huge new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, came and went like
the puff of dust from a dessiccated puffball, leaving behind nothing but a
leathery dry little husk of fungus - an apt description of Democrats in
Washington today.

Since then we had the pathetic stimulus package that hasn't stimulated,
and the continuation of the Bush/Paulson bank bailout - the gift that
keeps on giving to Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, B of A, Wells Fargo and
the other greedhead banks that created the current financial disaster that
has thrown a fifth of the American workforce out of their jobs and that
has put a quarter of all homeowners underwater, with mortgage balances
larger than the value of their shrivelled homes. We've got a whole new war
- actually the old mini-war in Afghanistan now ramped up by Obama and his
Democratic backers into a major war - and the old war in Iraq sill
chugging along, and maybe even a new one in Yemen or a bigger one in Iran.
And of course we've got no health care reform, though they're calling the
crappy legislation working its way through Senate and House "health care
reform."

What a sorry joke.

You can't wish anyone a Happy New Year tonight with a straight face. How
can it be happy if we're blowing up innocent people, our own young
soldiers, and a couple hundred billion dollars of taxpayer money in the
coming year for nothing except to allow Obama to prove how tough he is?
How can it be happy if the criminal banking syndicates are having their
best year ever, and if their executives are raking in obscene bonuses,
while homeowners cannot even refinance their crooked mortgages while rates
are being kept low? How can it be happy if what Congress and the President
are calling a health reform bill is going to leave tens of millions of
Americans uninsured, while it extorts hundreds of billions from the rest
of us in order to subsidize crummy insurance for poor people - insurance
that they too will have to pay for with money they don't have, or face
heavy fines from the IRS? This is health reform? Please.

No. Let's face it: 2010 is going to be a terrible year. Count on it.

The only hope is that maybe we somnolent Americans will fianlly be shaken
from our television-induced torpor by a further economic crash, by the
complete takeover of our government by corporate interests, and by the
increasing death toll of American military personnel in Afghanistan, and
will finally rise up and reject it all.

Imagine millions marching on Washington to demand a public jobs program,
and Medicare for All! Imagine millions of people sitting down and blocking
the main entrance to the Pentagon. Imagine President Obama being shouted
down when he tries to give a public address - not by one lone House
representative shouting out "liar!" but by the assembled masses. Imagine
the needy public and young idealistic physicians taking over hospitals and
dispensing free care. Imagine voters simply turning out of office every
member of Congress who voted for war funding, the health care bill or the
bank bailout. That would virtually mean a clean sweep of Congress, which
is what we need right now.

And that's what we need in 2010. Not a Happy New Year, but a radical and
explosive one.

So that's my wish to one and all. Get pissed. Take action. Let's make 2010
a year we can cheer about!

Dave Lindorff  is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His
latest book is .The Case for Impeachment. (St. Martin.s Press, 2006 and
now available in paperback). He can be reached at dlindorff [at] mindspring.com


--------12 of 16--------

Year of the Snarling Dog
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old
By BOB SOMMER
CounterPunch
January 1 - 3, 2010

Democracies have fallen, they have always fallen, because humanity craves
the outstanding personality.
 -Ezra Pound

In the weeks and months leading up to the 2008 election, I hit the streets
and the phones - along with about 1.5 million other believers. At Obama HQ
here in Kansas City I was given a cell phone and I made calls to get
voters to the polls. I traipsed up and down neighborhood streets along
with other volunteers and knocked on doors, and on more than a few
occasions faced snarling dogs or snarly Republicans.

This was it! If we did this, the nightmare would end. Sanity would return.
We'd get out of Iraq; Gitmo would close; rendition would end, as would
secret prisons and the neglect of habeas corpus. Universal health care
would finally arrive - fifty years after Harry S. Truman first dreamed of
it. The lobbyists would get the boot. Corporate money would no longer make
laws and policy. Science and reason would determine our energy policy so
that rapid and dramatic action could be brought to bear on the looming
catastrophe of climate change.

But here we are a little over a year later and none of this happened.
Permanent war, now reinforced by a tripling of forces in Afghanistan and
the outsourcing of some of our military commitments to Mercenaries
Incorporated, is the official policy of the Obama administration. The
president's speech to declare this policy - whose live audience, notably,
was the current and future military leadership at West Point - could well
have been delivered verbatim by his predecessor.

Health insurance and pharmacy industry lobbyists have nearly worn out the
front hall rugs at the White House as the debate raged nationally - and
futilely, it appears - over whether America would finally have a health
care system commensurate with its presumed status as a prosperous and
civilized nation. Not so much. Remember the nitpicky debates among Obama
and Edwards and Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primaries about whose
plan was most effective and offered the best coverage? Healthcare
industrialists and lobbyists must have snickered through it all - the
wasted efforts of staffs to develop those plans and prep their candidates
and then post all the fine points on the Web, the wasted breath of pundits
and editorialists, and the empty hopes of people who thought that one of
those plans might actually become the law of the land. But money wins and
we lose in a country where citizenship requires an Inc. after your name to
have a voice - and for your vote to matter.

And while healthcare lobbyists put on their galoshes and overcoats the
White House front hall, banking and brokerage lobbyists and CEOs were
taking theirs off. The question of whether bailouts were needed to save us
all from financial Armageddon need not even be raised to ask why
accountability was never part of the program when hundreds of billions of
our dollars were handed out. To be clear, life is good (remember that
catch phrase of the booming 90s?) if you're employed in the upper strata
of the companies that led us to the brink of disaster. As one of the best
years of the entire decade comes to a close on Wall Street - just one year
after Armageddon! - here are a few recent headlines from the website of
that oracle of free market optimism, CNBC:

Stocks Will Soar in Q1: 'Very Optimistic' Asset Strategist
Earnings Will Rise 16% Next Year: Citi's Levkovich
Stay 'Fully Invested': Stock Picker
S&P Charts Full of Bull (Market)
Art Cashin: Class Warfare a Threat to US Recovery
Citi: The Can't Lose Trade of 2010?
Cramer: 10 Stocks to Buy Your Kids in 2010
Market to Rise 10% in First Half of 2010: Strategist
Market Tips: No Big Correction in 2010

"What, me worry?" seems as apt a slogan as "Life is good". But why should
they worry? An economy pumped up by money that still smells of printer's
ink from the Treasury Department is surely a more resilient economy than
one in which people make things and then sell them to each other, isn't
it, at least, if your business is using money to make money? Who needs the
middle man? Just keep printing and borrowing, just as we did for the past
fifteen years or so since deregulation and the jettisoning of
Glass-Steagall. It's different this time. Tulip bulbs anyone? You only
need to spend ten minutes listening to CNBC to recognize that the main
theme of their economic outlook is consumption. The almighty consumer is
the engine of the economy, and all they're waiting for is all of us to get
back to Wal-Mart and the mall with our credit cards.

Well, we can't lay all this at Obama's feet, can we? In fact, that's the
point, isn't it? We expected too much and were too naive. The systemic
damage of a generation of consumption and squander and corruption in both
government and business is no doubt irreparable. The change we need is
more than a new face in the White House - and even in Congress. It's a
change in expectation, a change in the way we lead our lives, a change in
the kind of country America has become.

Have I become too cynical to vote this year, as pundits like Ed Schultz
fear many Obama supporters may be? No, I'll vote - and I'll work to elect
candidates who don't take corporate money and who don't rely on
superstition or incendiary tactics to rally their supporters. And I'll
work to expose those who do. I'll volunteer for candidates who have proven
records of environmental foresight and who vote against funding war and
redundant and unnecessary weapons systems. I'll support candidates who
made the tough votes - candidates who don't see more coal-burning utility
plants, mountain-top removal, dirty rivers, and corporate farms &
healthcare & warfare in our future. I don't care if there's a D or an I or
even an R after their names. I don't care if they're electable. Maybe if
enough of us began voting for the unelectable ones with spines and
consciences they would get elected.

Time is short. The economic system is a thin veneer lacquered over an
unthinkably massive amount of debt. The tipping point of global warming is
perhaps only a decade away. Buying a Prius won't matter much once the
permafrost of the arctic regions thaws and massive quantities of methane
gas are released into the atmosphere, or once the dead zones of our oceans
have expanded to the point at which dozens of generations will have to
pass before undersea life returns, or once our glaciers have melted and
drought brings suffering on a scale such as we have never seen.

I'll need better reasons to face down a snarling dog in a potential
voter's front yard than I've had for the past year.

Bob Sommer's novel, Where the Wind Blew, which tells the story how the
past eventually caught up with one former member of a 60s radical group,
was released in June 2008 by The Wessex Collective. He blogs at Uncommon
Hours.


--------13 of 16--------

Tell Me How This Ends?
Obama's Post-Modern War of Attrition
By ANDREW J. BACEVICH
January 1 - 3, 2010
CounterPunch

On the march to Baghdad, back when America's war on terror was young, a
rising star in the United States military lobbed this enigmatic bon mot to
an accommodating reporter: "Tell me how this ends." Thus did then-Maj.
Gen. David Petraeus in 2003 neatly frame the issue that still today haunts
the U.S.-led effort to defeat violent anti-Western jihadism.

To know how something ends implies knowing where it's going. Yet eight
years after it began, the war on terror is headed back to where it
started. The prequel is the sequel, Afghanistan replacing Iraq as the once
and now once again central front.

So are we making progress? Even as President Obama escalates the war in
Afghanistan, that question hangs in the air, ignored by all. Rather than
explaining how the struggle will end, the President merely affirms that it
must continue, his eye fixed on pacifying a country of which his own
secretary of state recently remarked "We have no long-term stake there."

How pacifying Afghanistan will bring us closer to the figurative Berlin or
Tokyo that defines our ultimate objective is unclear. True, the 9/11 plot
was hatched in Afghanistan, and we want to prevent any recurrence of that
event. It's also true that Dallas was the site of our last presidential
assassination. Yet no one thinks that posting Secret Service agents in the
Texas School Book Depository holds the key to keeping our current
President safe.

Then there is the Af-Pak argument - that U.S. military action in
Afghanistan is necessary to ensuring the stability of nuclear-armed
Pakistan. Selling Pakistanis on the logic of this argument poses a
challenge, however, given that the eight-year Western military presence in
Afghanistan corresponds to an eight-year period during which Pakistan has
edged steadily closer to internal collapse.

In reality, the chief rationale for pouring more troops into Afghanistan
derives from a determination to restore the credibility of American arms,
badly tarnished in Iraq. Thanks to Petraeus' rediscovery of
counterinsurgency doctrine, road-tested in Surge I, U.S. forces ostensibly
won a belated but significant triumph. Surge II could show that Iraq was
no fluke.

Military analysts who a decade ago were touting the wonders of
precision-guided munitions now cite counterinsurgency as the new American
way of war. Killing the enemy has become passe. Advanced thinking now
assigns top priority to "securing the people," insulating them from
violence and winning them over with good governance. Twenty-first century
American military officers speak the language of 20th century social
reformers, sounding less like George Patton and more like Jane Addams.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has declared
his intention to remedy "the weakness of [Afghan political] institutions,
the unpunished abuse of power by corrupt officials and powerbrokers, a
widespread sense of political disenfranchisement and a longstanding lack
of economic opportunity."

Undertaken in Louisiana or Illinois, this would qualify as an ambitious
agenda. In Afghanistan, it qualifies as a tall order indeed.

But assume the best: If McChrystal replicates in Afghanistan the success
that Petraeus achieved in Iraq - ignore, please, the government ministries
imploding in Baghdad - where does that leave us?

To sustain public support, a protracted war needs a persuasive narrative.
Americans after Dec. 7, 1941, didn't know when their war would end. But
they took comfort in knowing where and how it was going to end: with enemy
armies destroyed and enemy capitals occupied.

Americans today haven't a clue when, where or how their war will end. The
Long War, as the Pentagon aptly calls it, has no coherent narrative. When
it comes to defining victory, U.S. political and military leaders are
flying blind.

Historically, the default strategy for wars that lack a plausible victory
narrative is attrition. When you don't know how to win, you try to outlast
your opponent, hoping he'll run out of troops, money and will before you
do. Think World War I, but also Vietnam.

The revival of counterinsurgency doctrine, celebrated as evidence of
enlightened military practice, commits America to a postmodern version of
attrition. Rather than wearing the enemy down, we'll build contested
countries up, while expending hundreds of billions of dollars (borrowed
from abroad) and hundreds of soldiers' lives (sent from home).

How does this end? The verdict is already written: The Long War ends not
in victory but in exhaustion and insolvency, when the United States runs
out of troops and out of money.

Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at
Boston University. He the author of The Limits of Power: The End of
American Exceptionalism.

This column originally ran in the New York Dail News.


--------14 of 16--------

James Cameron's Anti-War Film
A Humanist Call From Mt. Hollywood
By GILAD ATZMON
January 1 - 3, 2010
CounterPunch

Avatar may well be the biggest anti War film of all time. It stands
against everything the West is identified with. It is against greed and
capitalism, it is against interventionism, it is against colonialism and
imperialism, it is against technological orientation, it is against
America and Britain. It puts Wolfowitz, Blair and Bush on trial without
even mentioning their names. It enlightens the true meaning of ethics as a
dynamic judgmental process rather than fixed moral guidelines (such as the
Ten Commandments or the 1948 Human Right Declaration).

It throws a very dark light on our murderous tendencies towards other
people, their belief and rituals. But it doesn't just stop there. In the
same breath, very much like German Leben philosophers, it praises the
power of nature and the attempt to bond in harmony with soil, the forest
and the wildlife. It advises us all to integrate with our surrounding
reality rather than impose ourselves on it. Very much like German
Idealists and early Romanticists, it raises questions to do with essence,
existence and the absolute. It celebrates the true meaning of life and
livelihood. (Lebensphilosophie- German, life philosophy, or philosophy of
life. A term for the general emphasis on "life" as an important
philosophical vocabulary. Generally speaking the Leben Philosophers stood
for paying philosophical attention to life as it is lived "from the
inside", as opposed to Kantian abstractions, scientific reductions,
positivism and naturalism.)

It is pretty astonishing and cheering to discover Hollywood paving the way
to the victorious return of German philosophical thought.

The year is 2154 and the RDA corporation is mining planet Pandora digging
for Unobtanium, a unique mineral that defies gravity and sells for top
cash. Pandora is a remote planet inhabited by the Na'vi, a species that
shares some human features. Like humans the Na'vi have their own developed
language and high culture. Yet unlike westerners they integrate with their
surrounding reality searching for harmony in nature rather than looking
for a means to exploit it. The Na'vi are a few feet taller than humans,
they are extremely strong, they also possess a long impressive tail and a
long plait with a unique bond at its end that operate as an organic USB
connection.

The bond allows the Na'vi to form a mental and spiritual union with their
surrounding organic reality. The Na'vi cherish their planet, they look
after it. They also worship a mother goddess called Eywa, who encompasses
the integrated spiritual and physical centre of their universe and its
past.

In order to penetrate into the Na'vi, human scientists genetically
engineered human-na'vi hybrid bodies called Avatars. Like in all Western
interventionalist and colonial wars, the foreign invader insists on
convincing itself that it can create some false needs amongst the
indigenous population. The RDA corporation takes pride in its attempt "to
bring culture to Pandora". The Avatars are there to communicate with the
Na'vi. They are there to teach them English and Western values. They are
there to maintain order so that the Na'vi fail to notice that their soil
is raped and robbed by the Humans. But as we soon learn, such an attempt
is in vain. The Humans have nothing to offer which the Na'vi are willing
to take.

Jake Sully a paraplegic former marine is an Avatar. With the support of
the appropriate advanced technology and machinery he operates a
Na'vi/Avatar hybrid.

Pretty soon Jake, as an Avatar, manages to make contact with the Na'vi. He
even manages to infiltrate into their civilization. Colonel Miles
Quaritch, the fierce mercenary leader of the security forces, offers Jake
to have his legs repaired in exchange for providing intelligence about the
Na'vi.

Though Jake is initially happy to provide the goods, it is just a question
of time before the ex-marine, changes his league. Through the eyes of the
Avatar, Jake sees truthfulness in harmony. However, through his training
and life experience he knows what Human genocidal brutality is all about.
He prefers harmony over racial brotherhood.

As the plot unfolds, both Jake and the Avatar scientific team understand
that the corporation and Colonel Quaritch are preparing for a total war
against the Na'vi and their civilization. The scientific team unite
together with Jake against the corporation and the mercenary force. They
are committed to save the Na'vi. Augustine, the professor behind the
Avatar project who is genuinely fascinated by the Pandora magic and
motivated by true knowledge-seeking, makes up her mind; she says NO to
technology. She betrays the company that finances her research and
eventually gives her life to her subject of research instead.

As the movie reaches its dramatic peak, Jake, the Avatar, the ex-human spy
is leading the Na'vi defensive war against the Humans. As the mercenary
colonel is closing in on the sacred site, the Na'vi fight back fiercely
against the superior technological might. The Na'vi suffer heavy
casualties. When all hope seems lost, the Pandoran wildlife joins the
Na'vi and attack the humans in great numbers, overwhelming them in the air
and on the ground.

The film ends with Jake being successfully transplanted into his Na'vi
Avatar. We also see the remnants of the human army marching to a sky
shuttle that will transport them out of Pandora. The message of the 300
million cinematic spectacle is clear: NO to war, NO to greed, NO to
intervention, No to throwing bombs, YES to nature, harmony and respecting
the beliefs of others.

I recently learned that Avatar drew some criticism for its alleged "racist
subtext". "Na'vi might be blue aliens" says one British commentator "but
they're also blue aliens with Masai-style necklaces - acted by mostly
black actors. They're also rescued from destruction by a white character -
played, of course, by a white actor - who becomes one of them". The idea
of a "white liberal man as the saviour of the so-called primitive natives"
seems to deliver a "patronising" message.

I find it hard to take these arguments seriously. The Sci-fi genre is
creating an imaginary fantastic reality that thrives on familiarity. James
Cameron, the man behind the Avatar spectacle, based the Na'vi on an
amalgam of many non-white aspects: African tribal markings, Native
American settings, Jamaican hair styles and so on. Yet, he manages to
evoke empathy in us towards the so-called "alien" rather than towards the
Human. This alone should be enough to defy the politically correct
accusation of "racist subtext" behind the film.

However, the criticism against Cameron drew my attention to the role of
the Avatar as a double agent. Towards the final scene Colonel Quaritch
blames Jake for "betraying his race". Jake indeed changes sides; he is
doing it for a good cause. And as it seems, the Na'vi and Pandora couldn't
prevail without him, they needed his leadership. In order to win the
battle they needed a leader that is deeply familiar with the enemy's
tactics and mode of thought.

One of the reasons that America is defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan is the
obvious fact that many Iraqis and Afghans had been educated in American
universities and are familiar with the American way, yet, not many within
the American elite or military command understand Islam. Not many amongst
the American or British leadership are graduates of Kabul or Baghdad
universities.

However, as in the case of Avatar, by the time America and Britain will
start to train its forces to understand Islam, it may as well be ready for
its new enlightened soldiers to change sides once they arrive on the
battlefield.

I would maintain that to stand up against your own people for an ethical
cause is the real meaning of humanism and liberty. Yet, it is pretty
astonishing that such an inspiring message is delivered by Hollywood. We
may have to admit, once again, that it is the artist and creative mind
(rather than the politician) who is there to shape our reality and present
a prospect of a better, amicable future by the means of aesthetics.

Gilad Aztmon is a writer and jazz musician living in London. His latest cd
is In Loving Memory of America.


--------15 of 16--------

American Mantra: Free Market Capitalism and Obama
by Peter Phillips
January 1st, 2010
Dissident Voice

Free Market Capitalism remains the dominant American ideological truth.
The decline of communism opened the door for unrepentant free marketers to
boldly espouse market competition as the final solution for global
harmony. According to the American mantra, if given the opportunity to
freely develop, the marketplace will solve all evils. We will enjoy
economic expansion, individual freedom, and unlimited bliss by fully
deregulating and privatizing society's socio-economic institutions.

The selection of Obama as the U.S. President placed into power the party
of the trilateralist wing of the American corporate elite. Obama's
business/government revolving-door cabinet is comprised of just as many
corporate CEO's and business elites as any presidency in recent history.
This new government elite will continue the work to see that the American
mantra remains safe, globalized, and unchallenged.

Pesky socialist or nationalist leaning governments will be undermined,
pressured into compliance or even invaded if they dare to resist the
American mantra. The full force of U.S. dominated global institutions:
WTO, World Bank, IMF, NAFTA, will focus on maximizing free market
circumstances and corporate access to every region of the world.

Economic safety nets, environmental regulations, labor unions, human
rights, become second place to the free flow of capital and investments.
Indigenous resisters face overt repression, disappearance, or imprisonment
by governments fully armed and supported by the American dominated New
World Order.

So what is the underlying rationale for this American mantra? Are its
dogmatic beliefs based on specific socio-economic facts? Are free market
forces clearly the best mechanism for human betterment? Do these
mechanisms work cross-culturally and are they efficient under all
circumstances?

A closer examination of the American mantra reveals that "free market"
essentially means constant international U.S. government intervention on
behalf of American corporations. A public-private partnership that
utilizes U.S. embassies, the CIA, FBI, NSA, U.S. Military, Homeland
Security, Department of Commerce, USAID, and every other U.S government
institution to protect, sustain, and directly support our vital interest
- U.S. business.

American mantra institutions push market deregulation that transforms
foreign economies for the benefit of U.S. businesses. Post-NAFTA Mexicans
are now importing U.S. grown corn for their tortillas, as millions of
formally subsidized peasant farmers leave the land to seek minimum wage
work in the cities of United States. Los Angeles has become the center for
new American sweatshops, as "illegals" compete for poverty jobs citizens
cannot afford to accept.

Government-assisted foreign market penetration by U.S firms often results
in the buying out of successful indigenous companies and the competitive
overwhelm of others. This situation leaves U.S. multinationals in dominate
positions in foreign domestic markets and creates windfall profit taking
opportunities.

The free market mantra carries with it shock treatment policies of
lowering public expectations, forced austerity measures, and dismantled
human services. A privately run water system is deemed superior to a
public system because the profit motive will create maximum efficiency.
Yet there is absolutely no research that systematically compares public
verses private efficiency levels, only the dogmatic assertion that this is
so.

The American mantra affects the U.S. population as well. Poverty and
unemployment are rising, the working poor expanding and homelessness one
pay check away for many.

It is time to re-examine the American mantra and speak for global
humanity. We must establish business socio-economic accountability
standards and reacquaint our government with its responsibility for
maintaining the common good.

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University, and
Director of Project Censored, a media research organization.


--------16 of 16--------

 Baby bunny on
 the grass. Megan, three, pets it.
 Boom! No arms. No eyes.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------

   - David Shove             shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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