|Progressive Calendar 01.01.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|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 over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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