Progressive Calendar 03.02.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 2010 14:39:14 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   03.02.10

1. Haiti/Knutson 3.02 6:30pm
2. Eco architect 3.02 7pm

3. Alliant vigil 3.03 7am
4. Dolan hearing 3.03 1:30pm
5. Merriam NfP   3.03 6pm
6. School budget 3.03 6pm
7. CRA event     3.03 6:30pm
8. Immigration   3.03 7pm

9. Ralph Nader   - Empire & oligarchy/ What happened to "We the People"?
10. Chris Hedges - Ralph Nader was right about Barack Obama
11. Don Santina  - Welcome to Clinton's third term/ Don't mourn, go Green
12. Robert Jensen - Getting rid of hope and faith/ Abe Osheroff
13. Diana Johnstone - The fall of Greece/ It really is a capitalist plot
14. Paul Buhle - Organizing vs empire/ Where Left & Right meet - amicably

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From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Haiti/Knutson 3.02 6:30pm

Pax Conversational Salon: April Knutson Speaks on Haiti
Tuesday, March 2, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 West
Seventh, St. Paul.

WAMM member and professor of French and francophone at the University of
Minnesota, April Knutson, has traveled to Haiti several time and has
worked with Haitian women writers. April will speak about Haiti - the
history, the people, the recent earthquake, U.S. intervention, and more.
Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call 651-227-3228.

--------2 of 14--------

From: Curt McNamara <mcnam025 [at]>
Subject: Eco architect 3.02 7pm

Mar. 2nd
Waste = Food
Hear ecological architect and designer William McDonough speak about
his Cradle to Cradle vision for our planet.
Book display and discussion with sustainable designers afterwards.

Tues. 7 p.m. in Auditorium 145 at the Minneapolis College of Art and
Design, 2501 Stevens Ave. S. Minneapolis MN

--------3 of 14--------

From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at]>
Subject: Alliant vigil 3.03 7am

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

--------4 of 14---------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: Dolan hearing 3.03 1:30pm

Public Hearing on the Reappointment of Chief Dolan
Wednesday, 3/3, 1:30 p.m.
Minneapolis City Hall, Rm 317

Come and plan to speak out against the reappointment of Tim Dolan to
Minneapolis police chief.  CUAPB will distribute copies of a comprehensive
report on Dolan's tenure as chief.  We need to pack this meeting and make
city hall see that we mean business.  YOUR PRESENCE AT THIS HEARING IS
VITAL--MOVE HEAVEN AND EARTH TO BE THERE!  Be sure to arrive early and
sign up to speak.

--------5 of 14--------

From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at]>
Subject: Merriam NfP 3.03 6pm

2010 Meeting/Potluck Calendar (Note Time Change)
First Wednesday of each month
6-7:45 p.m. (Note time change due to reduced library hours)
Merriam Park Library - Basement Meeting Room A or B
1831 Marshall Avenue (at Fairview Avenue), St. Paul, MN
Wednesday, March 3, 2010

--------6 of 14--------

From: Anne R. Carroll <carrfran [at]>
Subject: School budget 3.03 6pm

As discussions surrounding the budget forecast for Saint Paul Public
Schools (SPPS) continues, the District is hosting three opportunities
beginning next week for community members to learn more about the budget

Community members can learn where the District's funds come from, where
they are spent, and reasons for anticipated shortfalls in the coming
years. There also will be a chance for community members who are seeking
clarification about the process to ask questions at each of the meetings.
In addition, there will be discussions on the recent Academic Audit Report
process, including its impact on the budget and what the report will mean
for SPPS families.

Each meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and is scheduled to conclude at 7:30
p.m. The sessions will take place at the following sites:

March 3: Harding Senior High School
1540 E. Sixth St.
St. Paul, MN 55106

March 8: SPPS Administration Building
360 Colborne Street
St. Paul, MN 55102

March 15: International Academy - LEAP
631 Albert St. N.
St. Paul, MN 55104

--------7 of 14--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: CRA event 6:30pm

CRA Board Meeting
Wednesday, 3/3, 6:30 p.m
Minneapolis City Hall, Rm 333.
350 S. Fifth Street (but enter on the 4th Street side)

After last month's wild ride and this month's legal action to force the
CRA and Dolan to follow the law (see below) , the fur should be flying at
this meeting.  With some added surprises, perhaps one of the most exciting
activist events this year.  You will not want to miss this meeting!


These last few weeks have been quite the adventure with the Minneapolis
Civilian Review Board. The CRA is a city agency outside of the police
department that processes complaints on police conduct.  The agency
employs investigators and other staff members.  A board of community
members oversees the agency, holds hearings on and determines the outcome
of complaints, makes policy recommendations, tracks and trends police
brutality cases and does community outreach--at least that's what they are
supposed to be doing.  However, with a few notable exceptions, this board
has been loathe to do anything of substance to hold the police department
accountable.  One shining exception has been Dave Bicking, city council
candidate and long-time activist.  Bicking consistently urges the board to
push forward on important issues such as the Taser policy.  He was the
primary author of the recently released CRA Participation in Performance
Review of MPD Chief Dolan (available at
), a report documenting Dolan's continued refusal to discipline sustained
CRA cases based on bogus excuses.

As we told you in the last newsletter, Bicking participated in a forum on
whether Chief Dolan should be reappointed and he was quoted in the paper
expressing his opposition.  In both instances, he made it clear that he
was expressing only his own opinion, not speaking for the CRA.  As a
result, CRA board chair Donald Bellfield wrote a scathing letter to the
mayor, city council, civil rights director and others slamming Bicking.
However, the board never approved the letter, which was written on CRA
letterhead and framed as if it was coming from the whole board.  In other
words, Bellfield is actually guilty of what he falsely accused Bicking of
doing - speaking for the CRA board without their permission.

During its February 3 meeting, the board could have addressed this conduct
by sending a letter to the same people who received the first letter
clarifying that Bellfield's letter didn't represent the board.  This would
have been especially important to do as Bicking is coming up for
reappointment.  However, they would not pass a motion to do that.
Apparently, they are too afraid of pissing off the power elite in city
hall so they instead threw Bicking under the proverbial bus.  Read the
minutes from that meeting to see just how low those board members stooped:

On top of everything else, Chief Dolan showed up for less than 10 minutes
at the beginning of the meeting spouting a line about how much he respects
the CRA.  This, after three years of refusing to discipline their
complaints, dissing them at every opportunity in the media, etc.  He made
vague promises about "working together."  So, let me see.  Now that he is
up for reappointment, he is finally ready to "work together" with the same
CRA he is so quick to criticize.  It would have been hilarious except that
most of the board members actually drank the koolaid.  For months, we've
been trying to get chair Bellfield to follow the part of the CRA ordinance
that says the CRA chair "shall notify the executive committee [of the
Minneapolis city council] of the chief's failure to comply with the
requirements of this section [172.130, Disciplinary Decisions]."  Now that
the CRA's report provides proof of Dolan's failure to follow the CRA
ordinance, the CRA board was presented with a motion directing their chair
to report that failure to the city council, as required by the ordinance.
With the city council considering the reappointment of Dolan, timing is
critical.  Yet, this board refused to pass the motion stating they wanted
to try to work things out with Dolan.  Again, more proof that they would
rather suck up to the power structure than assert their own power and
serve the community.  No wonder people in the community don't take them

Finally, the community got to speak.  Usually the public speaking portion
of the meeting happens before the board conducts business but acting chair
weasel Justin Terrell engineered it so they would screw over Dave and the
community before the community could try to stop them.  Nonetheless, the
packed room full of people expressed their sheer disgust with the board's
failure to act.  The minutes give a pretty accurate depiction of the
comments, though it did leave out the part where Terrell tried to shut
this editor up and I dared him to call the cops on me.

After seeing the total acquiescence of most of the CRA board to the city
administration and police chief, we knew we had to do something.  On
February 12, we filed a petition for a Writ of Mandamus, a court order
directing a public official to follow the law.  The writ petition has two
parts--one directs Bellfield to give notice to the city council about
Dolan's violations of the law and that Dolan is subject to discipline for
such failure, and the second part directs Dolan to show cause as to why he
is not in violation of the law (he won't be able to, as he is in violation
of the law).  After the long holiday weekend, Judge Susan Burke granted
the first part of our writ ordering Bellfield to submit the required
notice to the city council by their 9:30 a.m. meeting the next day or show
up in court.  He was served the writ at his home but, amazingly, ignored
it by neither filing the notice nor showing up in court.  Instead, three
city attorneys appeared in court (claiming they couldn't get ahold of him)
and claimed the report on Dolan WAS the required notice, a ridiculous
claim.  After a short hearing, Judge Burke indicated she would "take the
matter under advisement"  and we are still waiting for a ruling.  We
certainly hope the judge will take note of the fact that a mere two hours
after he was to have been in court, Bellfield was interviewed by Andy
Mannix with City Pages--so much for being unavailable.  Contempt of court
doesn't seem like too strong of a sentiment.

We're also awaiting word on when we can depose Chief Dolan for the second
half of the writ petition.  This should happen soon.

At this point, the CRA board has done so much bowing to the power elite of
this city that they really have ensured that the CRA cannot carry out its
mission.  This is truly sickening, given how hard the community has fought
for a CRA in the first place.  Perhaps the court will force the board
chair to take a small action to reclaim the power of the CRA.  Perhaps the
court will also help to hold Chief Dolan accountable for thumbing his nose
at CRA complaints.  No matter what, the majority of the members on the CRA
board have outed themselves as sycophants for the current administration.
They should step down so they can be replaced by people who have the
backbones to do the job.

--------8 of 14--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Immigration 3.03 7pm

"Breaking the Impasse: Immigration Beyond the Sound Byte"
Wednesday, March 3, 7:00 p.m. Carondelet Center, 1890 Randolph Avenue, St.

Join others for a presentation on immigration featuring Sr. Simone
Campbell, executive director of Network (a nation Catholic social justice
lobby) and Kathleen Tomlin, director of Cathoic Charities. Office for
Social Justice. These two powerful, committed women will inspire you to
become involved in the work for comprehensive, humane immigration reform
that respects the dignity of all people. Endorsed by: the WAMM Immigration

--------9 of 14--------

Empire and Oligarchy
Whatever Happened to "We the People"?
March 1, 2010

The twin swelling heads of Empire and Oligarchy are driving our country
into an ever-deepening corporate state, wholly incompatible with democracy
and the rule of law.

Once again the New York Times offers its readers the evidence. In its
February 25, 2010 issue, two page-one stories confirm this relentless
deterioration at the expense of so many innocent people.

The lead story illustrates that the type of massive speculation - casino
capitalism, Business Week once called it - in complex derivatives is still
going strong and exploiting the weak and powerless who pay the ultimate

Titled "Banks Bet Greece Defaults on Debt They Helped Hide," the article
shocks even readers hardened to tales of greed and abuse of power. Here
are the opening paragraphs: "Bets by some of the same banks that helped
Greece shroud its mounting debts may actually now be pushing the nation
closer to the brink of financial ruin".

"Echoing the kind of trades that nearly toppled the American Insurance
International Group /AIG/, the increasingly popular insurance against the
risk of a Greek default is making it harder for Athens to raise the money
it needs to pay its bills, according to traders and money managers".

"These contracts, known as credit-default swaps, effectively let banks and
hedge funds wager on the financial equivalent of a four-alarm fire: a
default by a company, or in the case of Greece, an entire country. If
Greece reneges on its debts, traders who own these swaps stand to profit".

"It's like buying fire insurance on your neighbor's house - you create an
incentive to burn down the house," said Philip Gisdakis, head of credit
strategy at UniCredit in Munich.

These credit-default swaps increase the dreaded "systemic risk" that
proliferates until it lands on the backs of taxpayers, workers and savers
who pay the price. And if Greece goes, Spain or Portugal or Italy may be
next and globalization will eventually bring the rapacious effects of
mindless speculation to our shores.

Greece got into financial trouble for a variety of reasons, but it was
widely reported that Goldman Sachs and other big banks showed them, for
generous fees, how to hide the country's true financial condition. Avarice
at work.

Note two points. These derivatives are contracts involving hundreds of
billions of dollars and are essentially unregulated. These transactions
are also essentially untaxed, unlike Europe's value added tax on
manufacturing, wholesale and retail purchases. The absence of government
restraints produces unlimited predation.

As astute investors in the real economy have said, when money for
speculation replaces money for investment, the real economy suffers and so
do real people. Remember the Wall Street collapse of 2008 and who is
paying for the huge Washington bailout.

The other story shows that the Presidency has become a self-driven Empire
outside the law and unaccountable to its citizens. The Times reports "how
far the C.I.A. has extended its extraordinary secret war beyond the
mountainous tribal belt and deep into Pakistan's sprawling cities.".
Working with Pakistan's counterpart agency, the C.I.A. has had some cover
to do what it wants in carrying out "dozens of raids throughout Pakistan
over the past year," according to the Times.

"Secret War" has been a phrase applied numerous times throughout the
C.I.A's history, even though the agency was initially created by Congress
right after World War II to gather intelligence, not engage in lethal
operations worldwide.

Unrestrained by either Congress or the federal courts, Presidents say they
can and do order their subordinates to go anywhere in the world, penetrate
into any country, if they alone say it is necessary to seize and destroy
for what they believe is the national security. American citizens abroad
are not excluded. Above the law and beyond the law spells the kind of
lawlessness that the framers of our constitution abhorred in King George
and limited in our country's separation of powers.

Because our founders would not tolerate the President being prosecutor,
judge, jury and executioner, they placed the war-declaration and
appropriations authorities in the Congress.

Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama believe they have
unbridled discretion to engage in almost any overt or covert acts. That is
a definition of Empire that flouts international law and more than one
treaty which the United States helped shape and sign.

Equipped with remote and deadly technologies like drones flying over
Pakistan and Afghanistan by operators in Nevada, many civilians have been
slain, including those in wedding parties and homes. Still, it is taking
15,000 soldiers (U.S. and Afghan) with the most modern armaments to deal
with three hundred Taliban fighters in Marja who with many other Afghans,
for various motivations, want us out of their country. Former Marine
Combat Captain Matthew Hoh described these reasons in his detailed
resignation letter last fall.

Mr. Obama's national security advisor, Ret. General James Jones estimated
that there are about 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan with the rest migrating
to other countries. And one might add, those whose migrate are increasing
their numbers because they cast themselves as fighting to expel the
foreign invaders.

So many capable observers have made this point: occupation by our military
fuels insurgencies and creates the conditions for more recruits and more
mayhem. Even Bush's military and national security people have made this

The American people must realize that their reckless government and
corporate contractors are banking lots of revenge among the occupied
regions that may come back to haunt. We have much more to lose by flouting
international law than the suicidal terrorists reacting to what they
believe is the West's state terrorism against their people and the West's
historical backing of dictatorships which oppress their own population.

American was not designed for Kings and their runaway military pursuits.
How tragic that we have now come to this entrenched imperium so loathed by
the founding fathers and so forewarned by George Washington's enduring
farewell address.

Where are "We the People"?

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

--------10 of 14--------

Ralph Nader Was Right About Barack Obama
by Chris Hedges

We owe Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney an apology. They were right about
Barack Obama. They were right about the corporate state. They had the
courage of their convictions and they stood fast despite wholesale
defections and ridicule by liberals and progressives.

Obama lies as cravenly, if not as crudely, as George W. Bush. He promised
us that the transfer of $12.8 trillion in taxpayer money to Wall Street
would open up credit and lending to the average consumer. The Federal
Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), however, admitted last week that banks
have reduced lending at the sharpest pace since 1942. As a senator, Obama
promised he would filibuster amendments to the FISA Reform Act that
retroactively made legal the wiretapping and monitoring of millions of
American citizens without warrant; instead he supported passage of the
loathsome legislation. He told us he would withdraw American troops from
Iraq, close the detention facility at Guantanamo, end torture, restore
civil liberties such as habeas corpus and create new jobs. None of this
has happened.

He is shoving a health care bill down our throats that would give hundreds
of billions of taxpayer dollars to the private health insurance industry
in the form of subsidies, and force millions of uninsured Americans to buy
insurers' defective products. These policies would come with ever-rising
co-pays, deductibles and premiums and see most of the seriously ill left
bankrupt and unable to afford medical care. Obama did nothing to halt the
collapse of the Copenhagen climate conference, after promising meaningful
environmental reform, and has left us at the mercy of corporations such as
ExxonMobil. He empowers Israel's brutal apartheid state. He has expanded
the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where hundreds of civilians,
including entire families, have been slaughtered by sophisticated weapons
systems such as the Hellfire missile, which sucks the air out of victims'
lungs. And he is delivering war and death to Yemen, Somalia and perhaps

The illegal wars and occupations, the largest transference of wealth
upward in American history and the egregious assault on civil liberties,
all begun under George W. Bush, raise only a flicker of tepid protest from
liberals when propagated by the Democrats. Liberals, unlike the right
wing, are emotionally disabled. They appear not to feel. The tea party
protesters, the myopic supporters of Sarah Palin, the veterans signing up
for Oath Keepers and the myriad of armed patriot groups have swept into
their ranks legions of disenfranchised workers, angry libertarians, John
Birchers and many who, until now, were never politically active. They
articulate a legitimate rage. Yet liberals continue to speak in the
bloodless language of issues and policies, and leave emotion and anger to
the protofascists. Take a look at the 3,000-word suicide note left by Joe
Stack, who flew his Piper Cherokee last month into an IRS office in
Austin, Texas, murdering an IRS worker and injuring dozens. He was not
alone in his rage.

"Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable
atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and
when it's time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their
gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal
government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not
hours?" Stack wrote. "Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American
medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering
tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and
victims they cripple, and this country's leaders don't see this as
important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the
political 'representatives' (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is
far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and
debate the state of the 'terrible health care problem'. It's clear they
see no crisis as long as the dead people don't get in the way of their
corporate profits rolling in."

The timidity of the left exposes its cowardice, lack of a moral compass
and mounting political impotence. The left stands for nothing. The damage
Obama and the Democrats have done is immense. But the damage liberals do
the longer they beg Obama and the Democrats for a few scraps is worse. It
is time to walk out on the Democrats. It is time to back alternative
third-party candidates and grass-roots movements, no matter how marginal
such support may be. If we do not take a stand soon we must prepare for
the rise of a frightening protofascist movement, one that is already
gaining huge ground among the permanently unemployed, a frightened middle
class and frustrated low-wage workers. We are, even more than Glenn Beck
or tea party protesters, responsible for the gusts fanning the flames of
right-wing revolt because we have failed to articulate a credible

A shift to the Green Party, McKinney and Nader, along with genuine
grass-roots movements, will not be a quick fix. It will require years in
the wilderness. We will again be told by the Democrats that the
least-worse candidate they select for office is better than the Republican
troll trotted out as an alternative. We will be bombarded with slick
commercials about hope and change and spoken to in a cloying
feel-your-pain language. We will be made afraid. But if we again acquiesce
we will be reduced to sad and pathetic footnotes in our accelerating
transformation from a democracy to a totalitarian corporate state.
Isolation and ridicule - ask Nader or McKinney - is the cost of defying
power, speaking truth and building movements. Anger at injustice, as
Martin Luther King wrote, is the political expression of love. And it is
vital that this anger become our own. We have historical precedents to
fall back upon.

"Here in the United States, at the beginning of the twentieth century,
before there was a Soviet Union to spoil it, you see, socialism had a good
name," the late historian and activist Howard Zinn said in a lecture a
year ago at Binghamton University. "Millions of people in the United
States read socialist newspapers. They elected socialist members of
Congress and socialist members of state legislatures. You know, there were
like fourteen socialist chapters in Oklahoma. Really. I mean, you know,
socialism - who stood for socialism? Eugene Debs, Helen Keller, Emma
Goldman, Clarence Darrow, Jack London, Upton Sinclair. Yeah, socialism had
a good name. It needs to be restored."

Social change does not come through voting. It is delivered through
activism, organizing and mobilization that empower groups to confront the
hegemony of the corporate state and the power elite. The longer socialism
is identified with the corporatist policies of the Democratic Party, the
longer we allow the right wing to tag Obama as a socialist, the more
absurd and ineffectual we become. The right-wing mantra of "Obama the
socialist," repeated a few days ago to a room full of Georgia Republicans,
by Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. speaker of the House, is discrediting
socialism itself. Gingrich, who looks set to run for president, called
Obama the "most radical president" the country had seen in decades. "By
any standard of government control of the economy, he is a socialist,"
Gingrich said. If only the critique was true.

The hypocrisy and ineptitude of the Democrats become, in the eyes of the
wider public, the hypocrisy and ineptitude of the liberal class. We can
continue to tie our own hands and bind our own feet or we can break free,
endure the inevitable opprobrium, and fight back. This means refusing to
support the Democrats. It means undertaking the laborious work of building
a viable socialist movement. It is the only alternative left to save our
embattled open society. We can begin by sending a message to the Green
Party, McKinney and Nader. Let them know they are no longer alone.

© 2010

--------11 of 14--------

Welcome to Clinton's Third Term
Don't Mourn, Go Green
February 26 - 28, 2010

For quite awhile now, the political streams have been flooded with the
ever increasing wail of the progressive Democrats. The weeping and
gnashing of teeth by peace and justice groups, unions, focus groups,
Democratic Party blogs and liberal/left journals has become deafening:
What happened, why didn't we get what we voted for on November 4, 2008?

These progressive Democrats organized, campaigned and voted for a
progressive agenda and got - drum roll - nothing. That's right, nothing.
For the past year, their party has controlled both houses of Congess and
the presidency. For three years, their party has enjoyed majority power in
the House. What the progressive Democrats got out of all that: absolutely

They voted for peace, and they got war - expanded into Pakistan and Yemen
with escalation in Afghanistan and continuing occupation in Iraq. They
voted for health care reform, and they got Big Pharma's Frankenstein. They
voted for reining in Wall Street, and the got multiple bailouts and fat
bonuses on Wall Street and ever increasing foreclosures and evictions on
Main Street and Back Street. They voted for jobs, and they got spiraling
unemployment. Bring back Habeas Corpus? Nah. Close Guantanamo? Nix. Stop
torture? Nein. Fair union organizing in the work place? Tax breaks for he
rest of us? Mortgage relief? You gotta be kidding.

In all their caterwauling about this deteriorating situation, do the
progressive Democrats have any suggestions for turning these policies 180
degrees around? Yes, they do! Send an email. Sign an online petition.
Write a letter to your representative in Congress. Tell your neighbors how
unhappy you are. Wow, with this kind of muscle, the new dawn will soon be

One progressive pundit even offered up "don't mourn, organize," the
immortal words of the IWW martyr, Joe Hill. The problem with that
suggeston is that most of us have neither the time nor the skills to
organize anything much past our own personal lives.

The real problem is - and always will be - that the Democrats In Charge
(DIC) of the Democratic Party (the Clinton wing and its corporate backers)
don't give a damn about the opinions or values of the progressive
Democrats because the rightwing DIC knows that the progressive Democrats
will always vote for them, regardless of the actual DIC policies. Come
election time, the DIC publicity apparatus will trot out all that scary
stuff about the Republicans again, and the progressives will line up like
bobbleheads on a dashboard and cast delusionary votes for the same people
who gave us NAFTA and the WTO, took away welfare for the poor, dismantled
Glass Stegall and equal time in broadcasting, expanded the prison system,
and conducted the horific sanctions on Iraq.

Why don't the progressive Democrats take a page from Joe Lieberman's play
book? Lieberman went Independent, and the Democrats In Charge attached
their collective proboscis to his corporate posterior. What do you think
would happen if Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Marcy Kaptur, Lynn Woolsey
and the rest of the so-called progressive caucus announced themselves as
independents? Would they get the same slavish attention from the DIC that
the far right Blue Dogs get? What if Senator Durbin, who grumbled "the
banks own this place," had the guts to declare himself independent of his
bank-owned party? Do you think that the Clinton/Pelosi/Reid axis and its
cronies would be compelled to put Single Payer and multiple other issues
"on the table" if they had to negotiate with a sizeable bloc of
independent progressives?

On the rank and file level, what if all the progressive Democat voters
registered Green Pary tomorrow? Think they'd get the DIC's attention?

First of all, the Green party authentically represents the values the
progrssive Democrats ostensibly espouse - peace, justice, small d
democracy - so it's not as if these stranded Democrats would have some
kind of political heart attack over changing registration. After all,
their party is the historic party of segregation, and Franklin D Roosevelt
couldn't even get an anti-lynching law passed by his Democratic Congress.
Seventy years later, this same party continues to approve the over-bloated
imperial war budget at the expense of critical assistance to economically
destroyed non-white cities like New Orleans and Detroit. Also, for all the
recent Democratic Party moaning about the Supreme Court decision to
legally install the corporate state, let's not forget that 22 of their
senators voted to confirm Chief Justice Roberts.

And for those Democrats who resentfully cling to the fiction that Green
Party presidential candidate Ralp Nader somehow cost Al Gore the 2000
election in Florida, they should ask the man who invented the Internet why
he conceded so quickly in the face of an orchestrated voter fraud of
massive proportion which involved the systematic disenfranchisement of the
black vote in that state. They should also revisit that historic
post-election moment in the Senate when not one Democratic senator -
including the revered Paul Wellstone - was willing to provide the single
necessary cosponsoring vote in support of the House members' objection to
Florida's tainted electoral votes. Not one.

The moment of truth has arrived for those registered Democrats who
consider themselves progressives to be part of the problem or part of the
solution. It's called "fish or cut bait." Surely these Democrats realize
by now that - whatever they thought they were voting for on November 4,
2008 - what they got was Bill Clinton's third term.

Don Santina is a cultural historian who received a Superior Scribing award
for his Counterpunch article "Reparations for the Blues." He can be
reached at lindey89 [at]

--------12 of 14--------

Abe Osheroff on the Struggle for a Better World
Getting Rid of Hope and Faith
March 1, 2010

After a recent talk about the struggle for social justice and the threats
to the ecosystem, a student lingered, waiting to talk to me alone, as if
he had something to confess.

"I feel so overwhelmed," he finally said, wondering aloud if political
organizing could really make a difference. The young man said he often
felt depressed, not about the circumstances of his own life but about the
possibilities for change. Finally, he looked at me and asked, "Once you
see what's happening - I mean really see it - how are you supposed to act
like everything is going to be OK?"

I hear such concerns often, from young and older people alike. Perhaps the
questions are rationalizations for political inaction for some people,
attempts to persuade themselves that there's no reason to join
left/progressive movements. But most of the people I meet who struggle
with this question are activists, engaged in all kinds of worthy projects.
They aren't looking for a reason to drop out but are trying to face
honestly the state of the world. They want to stay engaged but recognize
the depth of multiple crises - economic, political, cultural, and

Some organizers respond to such concerns with upbeat assurances that if we
just get more people on board and work a little bit harder, the problems
will be solved - if not tomorrow, certainly within some reasonable period
of time. I used to say things like that, but now I think it's more honest,
and potentially effective, to acknowledge how massive the obstacles that
need to be overcome really are. We must not only recognize that the
world's resources distributed in a profoundly unjust way and the systems
in which we live are fundamentally unsustainable ecologically, but also
understand there's no guarantee that this state of affairs can be reversed
or even substantially slowed down. There are, in fact, lots of reasons to
suspect that many of our fundamental problems have no solutions, at least
no solutions in any framework we currently understand.

Some have challenged me: Why give in to such despair? My response: If
honest emotional responses based on rational assessments lead committed
activists to feel despair, why try to bury that? It's better to grapple
with those emotions and assessments than to respond with empty platitudes.

The damage to the ecosystem may mean that a large-scale human presence on
the planet cannot continue much longer. The obsession with self-interest
cultivated by capitalism may be so deeply woven into the fabric of
contemporary identity that real solidarity in affluent societies is no
longer possible. The deskilling and dependency that comes with a
high-energy/high-technology society has eroded crucial traditional skills.
Mass-media corporations have eroticized violence and commodified intimacy
at an unprecedented level, globally.

None of this is crazy apocalypticism, but rather a sober assessment of the
reality around us. Rather than deny the despair that flows from that
assessment, we need to find a way to deal with it.

When I got home from that speaking engagement, I re-read an interview I
conducted with lifelong radical activist Abe Osheroff, who was the subject
of a documentary film I produced. His reflections on these subjects,
excerpted below, have helped me struggle with my own despair. In my
conversations with Osheroff, he never looked away from these difficult
subjects, and he also never abandoned his commitment to politics, right up
to this death at the age of 92.

Robert Jensen: I've heard you use the term "long-distance runner" before.
Is that the key - the notion that we have to be in it for the long haul
and not expect things to change dramatically all at once?

Abe Osheroff: Not the long haul - the endless haul.

RJ: What's the difference between long and endless? ever increasing wail
of the progressive Democrats. The weeping and

AO: Oh yeah, there's a difference. We will never win the fight. We will
influence the players. We may be able to make life better in many ways. We
will blunt the shit that the government and the corporations throw at us.
But we'll always be coping with things. My view is that there's no
destination for the train I'm on. No destination, just a direction. No
final station on that train. There's no final destination, no socialist
society where we will all be able to sit back and have a wonderful life.

RJ: No utopias.

AO: Nowhere near utopia. In fact, we'll never get completely out of hell.
But we can make some progress. In my lifetime, with all of its
limitations, the movement has achieved some incredible things. Forty-some
years ago it was still possible to hang a black person in Holmes County,
Mississippi, and not get arrested. Right where I worked, the year
previous, they hung a black person in public, with half of the fucking
county eating box lunches and watching it. We've come a long way, in many
ways. Women? Whatever the limitations they face, women have made a lot of
progress in this country. Gay people? They have had their defeats, their
ups and downs, but with successes, too. On all these things, at times the
train breaks down, somebody fucks up the tracks, but it'll get back on the
track and go on. There's no way in the world you can stop it.

In this country, one of the biggest problems we have as leftists is that
there are so many strong reasons for not being an activist, in the sense
that it's possible for people - even if they're mediocre, but if they're
aggressive enough - to make a good life in this country. It's the easiest
country in the world to become a millionaire. On the plus side, it's also
the easiest country to be a radical. The potential penalties are very
small. I have put in less than six months jail time in a whole lifetime of
radical activism in this country. I would have been dead 30 times over in
20 countries I can think of.

RJ: So, we have this affluent country in which it's easy to avoid
political engagement and obligation and most people are afraid of any
risk. It's also a country in which people - whatever their politics - are
used to instant gratification. Then you come along and talk about a
direction, not a destination, and the endless haul. Do you find it hard to
ask people to be hopeful?

AO: I talk to people about getting rid of hope and faith. And the strange
effect of it is that it makes them more hopeful. I don't deprive them of
that if that's what they need at that stage of their development. But
personally, I'm not hopeful because I think hope is a kind of religion,
and religions don't work. If you're hopeful you're going to suffer
disappointments, whether it's politics or your personal life. You can care
about things, you can want things to happen, you can work to make things
happen without being hopeful. The way I guarantee not being too
disappointed is to not put too much hope onto things.

Take this conversation between you and me, for example. Sure, I hope that
we'll get something out of it. I want something to come out of it because
I don't have a lot of energy these days and I'm careful about how I spend
it. But if this interaction were a total waste, I wouldn't be upset very
much. All that said, sometimes I wish I could be more hopeful. Sometimes I
miss that.

RJ: Why is that?

AO: Because hope is comfortable. Because sometimes the way I think makes
me very lonely, a kind of intellectual loneliness.

RJ: I use these terms differently. I make a distinction, as have others
over the years, between optimism and hope. I'm not optimistic. If you ask
me whether I think that U.S. economy is going to be fundamentally fairer
in a year, I would say no. I'm not optimistic about that, because it's a
question of rational assessment, and things seem to be going the other way
in the short term. But I think there's a way to use the term "hope" that
taps into our belief that - in that endless haul you talk about - humans
have the capacity to be decent. I suppose it's about having reasonable
expectations, which is what you are talking about. I'm just using
different words, perhaps.

AO: Yea, it may be a difference in how we use the same terms. Sometimes
people I deal with describe me as cynical. I tell them, "Where do you come
up with that shit? Cynicism normally leads to inactivity. I'm 14 times
more active than you are. You don't do shit, and you're labeling me
cynical? If anybody's fucking cynical, it"s you". Those people have
yielded to society's bullshit, and I think I've refused to yield. I'm not
optimistic, and I'm not pessimistic. I'm none of those things. I'm me -
learning, exploring, and, fortunately, along the way I discovered a way of
living that is very gratifying. Let's start with that. I live a gratifying
life. I ask people if they want to live one. If they do, I'll tell them
some ideas on how it can be done.

The documentary "Abe Osheroff: One foot in the grave, the other still
dancing," has just been released by the Media Education Foundation at a
special price of $19.95. To order, go to

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at
Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center His latest book is Getting Off: Pornography
and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007). Jensen is also the
author of The Heart of Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege and
Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (both from City
Lights Books); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins
to the Mainstream (Peter Lang). He can be reached at
rjensen [at] and his articles can be found online at

--------13 of 14--------

Yes, It Really is a Capitalist Plot
The Fall of Greece
March 1, 2010

For Europe's poorest countries, European Union membership has long held
out the promise of tranquil prosperity. The current Greek financial crisis
ought to dispel some of their illusions.

There are two strikingly significant levels to the current crisis. While
primarily economic, the European Economic Community also claims to be a
community, based on solidarity -- the sisterhood of nations and
brotherhood of peoples.  However, the economic deficit is nothing compared
to the human deficit it exposes.

To put it simply, the Greek crisis shows what happens when a weak member
of this Union is in trouble.  It is the same as what happens on the world
scale, where there is no such morally pretentious union perpetually
congratulating itself on its devotion to human rights. The economically
strong protect their own interests at the expense of the economically

The crisis broke last autumn after George Papandreou's PASOK party won
elections, took office and discovered that the cupboard was bare. The
Greek government had cheated to get into the EU's euro zone in 2001 by
cooking the books to cover deficits that would have disqualified it from
membership in the common currency. The European Treaties capped the
acceptable budget deficit at 3 per cent and public debt at 60 per cent of
GDP respectively.  In fact, this limit is being widely transgressed, quite
openly by France. But major scandal arrived with revelations that Greece's
budget deficit reached 12.7 per cent in 2009, with a gross debt forecast
for 2010 amounting to 125 per cent of GDP.

Of course, European leaders got together to declare solidarity.  But their
speeches were designed not so much to reassure the increasingly angry and
desperate Greek people as to soothe "the markets" - the real hidden
almighty gods of the European Union.  The markets, like the ancient gods,
have a great old time tormenting mere mortals in trouble, so their
response to the Greek problem was naturally to rush to profit from it.
For instance, when Greece is obliged to issue new bonds this year, the
markets can blithely demand that Greece double its interest rates, on
grounds of increased "risk" that Greece won't pay, thus making it that
much harder for Greece to pay.  Such is the logic of the free market.

What the EU leaders meant by "solidarity" in their appeal to the gods was
not that they were going to pour public money into Greece, as they poured
it into their troubled banks, but that they intended to squeeze the money
owed the banks out of the Greek people.

The squeezing is to take the forms made familiar over the past disastrous
decades by the International Monetary Fund: the Greek state is enjoined to
cut public expenses, which means firing public employees, cutting their
overall earnings, delaying retirement, economizing on health care, raising
taxes, and incidentally probably raising the jobless rate from 9.6 per
cent to around 16 per cent, all with the glorious aim of bringing the
deficit down to 8.7 per cent this year and thus appeasing the invisible
gods of the market.

This just might propitiate both the gods and German leaders, who above all
want to maintain the value of the euro.  The financial markets will no
doubt grab their pound of flesh in the form of increased interest rates,
while the Greeks are bled by IMF-style "shock treatment".

And what about that great theater of human rights and universal
brotherhood, the European Parliament?  In that forum everyone gets to
speak for a carefully clocked 1, 2, or 3 minutes, but when it comes to the
most serious matter, the budget, the authoritative voices are all German.

Thus the chairman of the EP's special committee on the economic and
financial crisis, Wolf Klinz, has called for sending a "high
representative" of the EU to Greece, an "economies commissar" to make sure
the Greeks carry out the austerity measures properly.  The Greek crisis
can allow the EU to put into practice for the first time its "Treaty
instruments" concerning "supervision of budgetary and economic policy".
Interest rates may go up because of "risk", but there is to be no risk.
The pound of flesh will be delivered.

There was no such supervision of the financial fiddling which caused this
mess.  The EU statistics agency Eurostat recently discovered and revealed
that in 2001, Goldman Sachs secretly ("but legally", protest its executive
officers) helped the right-wing Greek government meet EU membership
criteria by using a complicated "currency swap" that masked the extent of
public deficit and national debt.  [See Andrew Cockburn and Marshall
Auerback, on this site.] Who understands how that worked? I think it is
fair to guess that not even Angela Merkel, who is trained as a scientist,
understands clearly what went on, much less the incompetent Greek
politicians who accepted the Goldman Sachs trickery. It allowed them to
create an illusion of success - for a while.  Success meant being a
"member of the club" of the rich, and it can be argued that this notion of
success has actually favored bad government at the national level.
Belonging to the EU gave a false sense of security that contributed to the
irresponsibility of incompetent political leaders.

Having euros to buy imported goods (notably from Germany) pleased rich
consumers, while the euro priced Greek goods out of their previous
markets.  Now the debt trap is closing. The traditional way out for Greece
would be to leave the euro and return to a devaluated drachma, in order to
cut imports and favor exports.  This way, the burden of necessary
sacrifices would not be borne solely by the working class.  But the
embrace of EU "solidarity" is there to prevent this from happening. German
authorities are preparing to lay down the law to the Greeks, after
reducing the income of their own working class in order to benefit
Germany's export-oriented economy.

Austerity measures are the opposite of what is needed in a time of looming
depression.  Rather, what is needed are Keynesian measures to stimulate
employment and strengthen the domestic market. But Germany is firmly
attached to the export model, for itself and everyone else
("globalization").  For a country like Greece, which cannot compete
successfully within the EU, exports outside the EU are crippled by its use
of a strong currency, the euro.  Bound to the euro, Greece can neither
stimulate its domestic market nor export successfully.  But it is not
going to be allowed to extricate itself from the debt trap and return to
its traditional currency, the drachma. Poverty appears to be the only

There is discontent within the German working class at their country's
policies aimed at shrinking wages and social benefits for the sake of
selling abroad. In an ideal "social Europe", workers in Germany would come
to the aid of workers in Greece by demanding a radical revision of
economic policy, away from catering to the international financial markets
toward building a solid social democracy.  The reality is quite different.

The Greek financial crisis exposes the absence of any real community
spirit in the EU. The "solidarity" declared by the country's EU partners
is a solidarity with their own investments.  There is no popular
solidarity between peoples. The EU has established a surrogate ideology of
internationalism: rejection of the nation-state as source of all evil, a
pompous pride in "Europe" as the center of human rights, giver of moral
lessons to the world, which happens to fit in perfectly with its
subservience to United States imperial foreign policy in the Middle East
and beyond.  The paradox is that European unification has coincided with
decreasing curiosity in the larger EU states about what happens to their

Despite a certain amount of specialized training needed to create a
Eurocrat class, the general population of each EU member is only
superficially acquainted with the others.  They see them as teams in
soccer matches.  They go on holiday around the Mediterranean, but this
mostly involves meeting fellow tourists, and study of foreign languages
has declined, except for English (omnipresent, if mangled). Mass media
news reports are turned inward, featuring missing children and pedophiles
ahead of even major political events in other EU member states.

Northern European media portray Greece practically as a Third World
country, peripheral and picturesque, where people speak an impossible
language, dance in circles on islands, and live beyond their means in
their carefree way. The crickets in the Aesop fable, scorned by the
assiduous ants.

Media in Germany and the Netherlands imply that IMF-style shock treatment
is almost too good for them. The widening polarization between rich and
poor, between and within EU member states, is taken for granted.

The smaller indebted countries within the EU are amiably designated by the
English-speaking financial priesthood as the PIGS - Portugal, Italy
(perhaps Ireland), Greece, Spain - an appropriate designation for an
animal farm where some are so much more equal than others.

Diana Johnstone is author of Fools. Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western
Delusions (Monthly Review Press). She can be reached at
diana.josto [at]

--------14 of 14--------

Organizing Against Empire
Where Left and Right Meet ... Amicably
March 1, 2010

Over a conference table at a Washington hotel on March 20, a couple dozen
antiwar activists and intellectuals, yours truly included, met to hash out
the beginnings of a most unusual movement. We wanted to end American war
and American Empire, against the evident bipartisan determination to keep
both of them going.

There never was such a boundary-crossing event before, at least not in my
50 year political lifetime or any historical incident that I can recall.

Not quite true. The Populists, arguably the one literal grassroots
movement that most nearly overturned the two party system in a handful of
states, brought together a kind of cultural conservatism, bathed in scorn
of city life, and political radicalism. The antiwar movement of the 1910s
made Republican German- and Scandinavian-Americans of the northern Midwest
and Great Plains states turns to the Farmer-Labor movement, under a
variety of names, and again, in the middle 1930s, to join campus antiwar
activists in resisting the militarization of American culture. Even as
Pearl Harbor drew close, Norman Thomas stood on platforms with outspoken
conservatives urging some other solution than US entry with the inevitable
counterparts of conscription, loss of civil liberties, etc. They were
wrong about the war but, at least after Truman came to power, right after
all about the doleful consequences of mobilization for war. The big state,
with its military-industrial part not at all benign, was here to stay.

Even these past sagas, now relegated to a kind of pre-history, seem very
different from the little gathering of magazine editors, journalists,
youth activists against war. We live in a time so strange that  several
nineteen year olds joined us, devotees of maverick Texas congressman Ron
Paul, had been at the conservative CPAC convention the day before, on
their feet cheering Paul's call for an end to US occupations overseas
while neocon elders sat in their chairs, glowering. A time so strange that
these kids sat a few seats away from Jon Berger, the SDSer on hand,
reminding me of my own SDS days and the historic moment when isolationists
joined us against the Vietnam War. The shared sentiment never became a
real movement forty years ago, but this time it might.

The editors of The Nation, American Conservative, Reason, The Progressive
Review (on line), Black Agenda Report (on radio) and the Veterans for
Peace Newsletter were all very much were on the scene, although perhaps
not so prominent as notables Ralph Nader or William Greider. The
event-coordinator, Kevin Zeese, is director of Voters for Peace but
perhaps better remembered as a longtime, prominent figure urging an end to
the drug war.

The premise was simple, if difficult to grasp entirely at first:  the
crisis of empire has generated a wave of distrust, make a sense of
outrage simultaneous among erstwhile Leftwing enthusiasts of Obama (this
writer included) and Rightwingers who get labeled "Isolationist" but
cannot be pinned down precisely on issues beyond their opposition to US
interventions, occupations and military bases abroad. Well, it does sound
simple. Perhaps the real problem has been a lack of trust among varied
opponents of war, a combination of the usual Lesser Evil voting and a
growing, parallel if not mutual sense of political despair.

There proved ample room for agreement as well as disagreement, summed up
for me in one exchange. I proposed a return to the late 19th century
title, "American Anti-Imperialist League," set up by Boston Brahmins to
oppose the bloody war on the Philippines. A conservative sitting
improbably to my left  complained that the phrase "anti-imperialist"
brought visions to his reader of Jane Fonda, whereas "opposition to
empire" would give them a proper perspective. (I was loath to mention what
recovered past visions of Jane Fonda might do to, or for, me.) In other
words, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan made us both rage and weep,
while the remembrance of the 1960s made him rage and me weep - with

We had, however, the same goal: bring the troops home now. And we had
better learn to work on that together, somehow or other, if we didn't want
rightwingers gulled by Sarah Palin and leftwingers waiting, waiting and
waiting hopelessly for Obama to do the right thing globally.

It's easy for either side to project nuttiness in the other. Speaking only
for myself, I have a useful yardstick for these particular conservatives'
favorite politician: I ask myself whether Ron Paul is crazier than my
evangelical relatives. The answer is personally satisfying, even when Paul
goes off on a tangent about abolishing the Fed (well, not a bad idea) or
something about immigration that I do not like at all.

Veteran peace mobilizers, like Sam Smith, Mike McPherson of Veterans for
Peace, and young peace mobilizers, like the SDS activist Jon Berger from
the University of Maryland, offered some of the most useful, i.e.,
practical reflections and questions of the day.  How would a multiracial
coalition of antiwar conservatives and radicals operate? And how would
they overcome what remains a crucial distinction between distaste and
disillusion toward a president whose election seemed so promising
(alternatively:  threatening, at least frustrating) but whose global
military strategy was and is dead certain to remain both catastrophically
expensive and just plain awful?

There aren't any easy answers, but the route toward them must lie in a
better understanding, and that, at least, seems to have been achieved.

At the end of this day, the presence of the van den Heuvel-style
mover-shakers on various points of the spectrum might well have been the
most impressive fact in evidence. It wasn't, because their affable
expressions mirrored something deeper, the ground changing beneath all our

Somehow, the delayed crash of Cold War Liberalism may finally have
happened, as it could not happen under either Clinton (the male one) or
Bush. It is awfully hard to see what lays on the other side, but as aging
Pan African giant CLR James wrote after reading The Gulag Archipelago :
"at least we know." The bipartisan military-industrial empire has hit the
skids and may be in ruins the day after tomorrow, so to speak. At any
rate, their Demo-Republican credibility is gone. Now the rest of us had
better speak up and begin organizing alternatives.

Paul Buhle, founder-editor of the SDS journal Radical America in the
1960s, is a historian of the American Left and in recent years, an editor
of nonfiction comic books, including The Beats: a Graphic History.


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