|Progressive Calendar 03.09.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2010 04:57:17 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 03.09.10 1. Digital inclusion 3.09 8am 2. Propaganda 2010 3.09 5pm 3. Conversation 3.09 6:30pm 4. Amnesty Intl 3.09 7pm 5. Rainforest film 3.09 7pm 6. Philippines 2010 3.09 7pm 7. Drinking Greenly 3.09 7pm 8. Alliant vigil 3.10 7am 9. Anthropocene 3.10 12noon 10. Women/water/poems 3.10 5:30pm 11. Shamus Cooke - The fight to save public education 12. Chris Floyd - Breaking the fever of militarism 13. Bill Quigley - 15 reasons for a revolution/ When silence is betrayal 14. Chris Hedges - Calling all rebels 15. Peaceteam.net - Dem party's plan to THROW the next couple elections --------1 of 15-------- From: wassenaar [at] spnn.org Subject: Digital inclusion 3.09 8am Saint Paul will be represented at this event in DC with an Alex Kurt, an AmeriCorps member who works at Rondo Library making a presentation to Congress and the FCC! It would be great for people in Saint Paul who care about equity, economic development and education to come to this event in Maplewood! America's Digital Inclusion Summit Working Together To Expand Opportunity Through Universal Broadband Access Tuesday, March 9th from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM Please join us for a Webcast followed by a Community Conversation at the Maplewood Performing Arts Theatre, 2100 White Bear Avenue, Maplewood, MN Join the Federal Communications Commission and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for an overview of the recommendations in the FCC's National Broadband Plan meant to ensure that all Americans are included in the broadband era. As the FCC prepares to deliver the Plan to Congress on March 17th, hear perspectives from Chairman Genachowski, members of Congress, Knight Foundation President & CEO Alberto Ibargüen and people from across the country that have benefited from broadband. Help create solutions that drive broadband adoption for all Americans. Live at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC Videocast at the FCC Commission Room, 445 12th SW, Washington DC Webcast at the Maplewood Performing Arts Theatre, 2100 White Bear Avenue, Maplewood, MN Please register for the event at: digisummitstpaul.org --------2 of 15-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Propaganda 2010 3.09 5pm Lovely St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm, midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow! All households with basic cable may watch. Tues, 3/9 @ 5pm & midnight + Wed, 3/10, 10am "21st Century Propaganda" Longtime writer and media analyst Jeff Nygaard (nygaardnotes.org) and Our World in Depth co-producer Eric Angell discuss the history of propaganda and analyze how it is being used in the United States. Also: the crisis in American journalism. Hosted by Karen Redleaf. --------3 of 15-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Conversation 3.09 6:30pm This Tuesday is just conversation. I bet ya'all have some slant on certain subjects in the world. So, come and share or just to listen to others. Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) are held (unless otherwise noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 W 7th, St Paul, MN Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information. --------4 of 15-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 3.09 7pm JOIN US FOR OUR MINNEAPOLIS AMNESTY MEETUP: TUESDAY, MARCH 9 - 7 P.M. Join other Amnesty members and friends for a casual, agenda-free social meetup on the second Tuesday of each month. Free flowing conversation about our shared interests. Common Roots Cafe, 2558 Lyndale Ave S., Minneapolis MN 55405. Beer, wine, coffee, and food available. Look for an Amnesty logo or ask for Gabe. For a map, directions, and more info on Common Roots Cafe, visit their web site: http://www.commonrootscafe.com/ --------5 of 15-------- From: Madeline Gardner <maddyjean [at] gmail.com> Subject: Rainforest film 3.09 7pm Film Showing at St. Thomas - Students for Justice and Peace present "GREEN" <http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=354923478618&index=1> "Her name is Green, she is alone in a world that doesn't belong to her. She is a female orang-utan, victim of deforestation and resource exploitation. This film is an emotional journey with Green's final days. It is a visual ride presenting the treasures of rainforest biodiversity and the devastating impacts of logging and land clearing for palm oil plantations" Watch the film and learn how you can get involved in RAN's campaign to hold General Mills accountable to sustainable palm oil! Tuesday, March 9, 2010 7:00pm - 9:00pm University of St. Thomas: Owen Science Hall (OWS) Lecture Room 150 2115 Summit Avenue, St. Paul Madeline Gardner skype: madeline.gardner (612) 807-0981 --------6 of 15-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Philippines 2010 3.09 7pm Walden Bello: "A Constitutional Crisis in the Making: the Philippines and the 2010 Elections" Tuesday, March 9, 7:00 p.m. United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, Room 209, 3000 Fifth Street Northwest, New Brighton. Walden Bello is a human rights and peace activist, author, academic, political analyst, and recently a politician. He is the Akbayan representative in the 14th Congress of the Philippines; professor of sociology at the University of the Philippines; co-founder and executive director of the Global South (a policy research institute based in Bangkok). He is a board member of Food First, The International Forum on Globalization, Transnational Institute, etc. Free and open to the public. Light refreshments provided. Sponsored by: Philippine Study Group of Minnesota (PSGM). Endorsed by: the WAMM Middle East Committee. FFI: Call Meg Layese/Paul Bloom, 651-646-1985 or Jo Fernandez/Ely Fernandez, 763-780-9020. --------7 of 15-------- From: "aleric [at] tcq.net" <aleric [at] tcq.net> Subject: Drinking Greenly 3.09 7pm The inaugural Eastside Minneapolis (to keep it within biking distance of my house) Drinking Verdantly (the Green Version of 'Drinking Liberally') will be on Tuesday March 9th, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. at Diamond's Coffee Shoppe (which also has a good selection of bottled beer). http://www.diamondscoffeeshoppe.com/ Please get the word out, and feel free to invite anyone interested in discussing Eastside issues (North and South) and Green Politicks (and possibly a better name for the event). - Eric Gilbertson Northeast Minneapolis --------8 of 15-------- From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at] circlevision.org> Subject: Alliant vigil 3.10 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: alliantACTION.org --------9 of 15-------- From: Institute on the Environment <danie419 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Anthropocene 3.10 12noon FRONTIERS IN THE ENVIRONMENT The Institute on the Environment's spring 2010 Frontiers lecture series is now underway. Join us each Wednesday for a presentation and Q&A session, followed by a casual get-together in the IonE Commons. The lectures also air live on the Web. 3/10 - Engaging Audiences in the Anthropocene Speaker: Patrick Hamilton, Director of Environmental Sciences and Earth-System Science, Science Museum of Minnesota We live in a world being thoroughly reconfigured by human activity. Humans cumulatively have set in motion global changes that will reverberate for millennia. The term Anthropocene is being used to describe this new geologic epoch in Earth history, where humans are the dominant agents of planetary change. Global change scientific research is evolving rapidly, but the U.S. public's awareness of and concern about global environmental issues has not kept pace, hindering the formulation of corrective societal actions. How might scientific and informal education institutions work together to help advance how solutions to pressing environmental problems are communicated and discussed by citizens and decision makers? Lectures take place Wednesdays, noon to 1 p.m, in IonE Seminar Room 380, VoTech Bldg., St. Paul campus. All lectures are free, no registration required, and also air live on the Web. See the Frontiers page (http://environment.umn.edu/news_events/events/frontiers.html) for more details, including links to the live broadcast and archived presentations. --------10 of 15-------- From: Doris Marquit <marqu001 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Women/water/poems 3.10 5:30pm This Wednesday, at the Nash Gallery (East Bank, U of M, 405 21st Ave. S.) Minnesota women poets will read their original poems inspired by water. This promises to be an unusual & delightful event in the series of successful programs associated with the record-breaking Exhibit: "Women & Water Rights: Rivers of Regeneration" now ongoing. See www.womenandwater.net for other related programs & events. WATER LIGHTS POETRY READING Wednesday March 10, 5:30-8 pm. Katherine E. Nash Gallery Poets reading include well-known (Carol Connolly, Maureen Skelly, Susu Jeffrey, and others) and new talents. Sponsors of the Exhibition and Related Events, running until March 25, are The Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, the Women's Caucus for Art, and the U of M Department of Art. --------11 of 15-------- The Bad Teacher Ruse The Fight to Save Public Education By SHAMUS COOKE March 8, 2010 CounterPunch March 4 was historic. It will be remembered as the day that people began to fight back against the destruction of public education. The student and teacher led offensive took place in cities across the country; teachers, students and school workers demonstrated and marched, showcasing the aggressive methods of the struggle. San Francisco led the way with the biggest numbers. As many as 15,000 people, mostly students, teachers and social service workers attended a Civic Center rally organized by the three teachers unions and the San Francisco Labor Council. This can only be the beginning. The war on public education has been carefully planned for years, orchestrated by corporate interests and implemented by Republicans and Democrats alike. The first battle tactic against public education was to starve it. Politicians have consistently lowered taxes on corporations and the rich for the past three decades, thereby lowering state revenues that have created the budget crises in nearly every state. Consequently, public education is in a state of shell shock. After being under nourished for years, public education is now under full attack, and the blue prints for this "shock and awe"" campaign have changed only slightly, from Bush's No Child Left Behind to Obama's more savage Race to the Top (both plans badly misuse the English language). Bush's plan further undermined public education: schools were labeled as "failures" and teachers were targeted as "incompetent". Obama's plan knocks down the pins set up by Bush; Race to the Top rewards states for shutting down public schools and opening up charter schools, many of which are private, and by firing teachers en masse. Both these steps are considered "progress" by anti-public education advocates (arch-conservative Newt Gingrich is on a national tour to promote the plan). Race to the Top is a competition between states to kill public education: the states that massacre schools and teacher unions most efficiently and ruthlessly are given desperately needed federal funding, while the losers are given sadistic examples of how to earn the President's praise. Obama spoke highly of the recent mass firing of every teacher in a Rhode Island school, an incident that other school districts will be pressured to imitate if they want Race to the Top money. When this happens - and it will - a fundamental question must be answered: do the union contracts of teachers mean anything to the President? And if teachers cannot be protected by their contracts, cannot this be extended to other fields of labor? These questions answer themselves, and have gigantic implications for the U.S. labor movement. [Oh no! Not our dear divine hope and change angel! Oh oh how *could* he? There must be some mistake... -ed] It is no coincidence that the "finalists" for the Race to the Top are states that have the most brutal anti-union records: most of the finalists are from the anti-union South. Louisiana and Illinois are finalists - two states that have made the most "progress" in shutting down public schools and replacing them with private charter schools - while having fired teachers en masse. Who are replacing these fired teachers in the newly opened charter schools? Not qualified or certified teachers. Companies like Teach for America are springing up to fill the demand of low cost, non-union teachers. Teach for America is a "non-profit" company - with an operating budget of over $73.5 million - that offers only five weeks of training before one becomes a teacher. No background in teaching is necessary. Although companies like these are touted as "elite" institutions, The New York Times admits that "so far, both merit-pay efforts and programs that recruit a more-elite teaching corps, like Teach for America, have thin records of reliably improving student learning". (March 2, 2010). In Chicago, charter schools need only 50 percent of their teachers to be certified, while no charter school teacher is allowed to belong to the Chicago Teachers Union. Drill sergeants are also replacing certified teachers. In Chicago, shut down public schools have been re-opened as military recruiting centers; five military high schools and 21 military middle schools are now in operation. This was done under the watchful eye of Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan - no doubt achieved in anticipation of the expanding wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the need to fulfill recruiters' quotas. Oddly, the national discussion over why students are testing poorly has been ridiculously crude, if not outright dumb. Both politicians and the media have focused the blame exclusively on teachers. No attention is given to the fact that so-called failing schools have been bled dry of funding. It is impossible for a teacher to succeed when there is not enough money to buy books for all the students or when classes are overcrowded, especially in schools that have students with special needs. Poverty, and the countless social ills born from it, are the obvious reasons why students perform poorly (high income schools are never labeled as "failures"). By ignoring this glaring fact, politicians reveal themselves to have ulterior motives. And just like the "war on terror" benefited profit-hungry oil and weapons companies, the war on education has a host of corporations clamoring for an increase in hostilities. To make clear that the war on education is just beginning, Obama revealed that Race to the Top is only in its first stage: the schools that don't win - by failing to close enough schools or firing enough teachers - will have more chances in the future. Obama's Education Secretary explains: "We want to come back round after round. We'd love to see this four, five, six years out . just keep growing it.. (New York Times, (March 5, 2010). Of course, the more Race to the Top grows, the more that public education shrinks. Killing public education benefits corporations in two ways: 1) rich investors have new ways to make profitable investments (something incredibly important to them during a recession). 2) Destroying public education allows for more public money to bail out banks and expand war. The deficit created by pursuing these pro-corporate policies is being paid for by cutting education, Social Security, and Medicare. These are the real reasons behind the attack on public education. All the stupid hype behind "bad teachers" is a cheap ruse to obscure the debate. But to achieve their plan, the corporate elite must remove a long-hated obstacle: teachers' unions. This makes the national protest day on March 4th all the more relevant. Teachers' unions are waking up to the corporate-inspired attack. If organized, teachers are an incredibly powerful social force: they are highly respected by the community, have strong connections to parents, and most importantly, if they do not work, neither do many parents. Teachers perform a dual role of educating and daycare; their value to society is incredibly high. March 4th was the first time teacher unions organized with students, parents and public service workers to demand more money for education and social services. If they continue to do this, the larger community will support them unfailingly. In San Francisco many of the demonstrators demanded: "Tax the rich to fund public education". This is indeed a solution that needs to be adopted nationally, before the economic crisis claims more public schools and destroys more social services, eliminating even more jobs. Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscook [at] yahoo.com --------12 of 15-------- Breaking the Fever of Militarism Unnatural Acts By CHRIS FLOYD March 8, 2010 CounterPunch All who draw the sword will die by the sword. -- Yeshua Ha-Notsri, Palestinian dissident, c. 33 CE. As we all know - or rather, as everyone but those who climb and claw their way to the top of power's greasy pole knows - the effects of war are vast, unforeseeable, long-lasting - and uncontrollable. The far-reaching ripples of the turbulence will churn against distant shores and hidden corners, then roil back upon you in ways you could never imagine, for generations, even centuries. Nor is "victory" in war proof against these deleterious effects. For the brutalization, moral coarsening, corruption and concentration of elite power that attend every war do not simply disappear from a society when the fighting stops. They persist, like microbes, in myriad forms, working with slow, corrosive force to degrade and deform the victors. Indeed, victory in battle often leads a society to enshrine war's most pernicious attributes: violence is ennobled, and becomes entrenched as an ever-ready instrument of national policy. Militarism is exalted, the way of peace dishonored: cries of "Appeasers! Cowards! Traitors!" greet every approach that fails to brandish the threat of extreme violence, that fails to "keep all options on the table." The apparent "lesson" of victory - that there can be no right without armed might to win and safeguard it - quickly degenerates into the belief that armed might is right. Military power becomes equated with moral worth, and the ability to wreak savage, unimaginable destruction through armed violence - via thoughtless obedience to the orders of "superiors" - becomes a cherished attribute of society. War is no longer seen as a vast, horrific failure of the human spirit, a scandalous betrayal of our common humanity, a sickening tragedy of irrevocable loss and inconsolable suffering - although this is its inescapable reality, even in a "good" war, for a "just" cause. (And of course no nation or faction has ever gone to war without declaring that its cause is just.) Instead of lamenting war, and girding for it, if at all, only in the most dire circumstances, with the most extreme reluctance, the infected society celebrates it at every turn. No national occasion - even a sporting event! - is complete without bristling displays of military firepower, and pious tributes to those wreaking violence around the world in blind obedience to their superiors. Oddly enough, when a modern nation consciously adopts a "warrior ethos," it casts aside - openly, even gleefully - whatever virtue that ethos has historically claimed for itself, such as courage in battle and honor toward adversaries. In its place come the adulation of overwhelming technological firepower and the rabid demonization of the enemy (or the perceived enemy, or even the "suspected" enemy), who is stripped of all rights, all human dignity, and subject to "whatever it takes" to break him down or destroy him. Thus our American militarists exult in the advanced hardware that allows "soldiers" to slaughter people from thousands of miles away, with missiles, bombs and bullets fired from lurking, unreachable drones high in the sky. (A recent study shows that even by the most conservative reckoning of who is or isn't a "militant," at least one third of the hundreds killed in the Bush-Obama drone campaigns on the "Af-Pak" front are clearly civilians.) The drone "warriors" - often living in complete safety and comfort - see nothing but a bloodless image on a screen; they face no physical threat at all. This is assassination, not combat; it reeks of cowardice, and dehumanizes everyone it touches, the victims and the button-pushers alike. Yet our militarists - most of whom, of course, have somehow never found the time to fight the wars they cheer for - wax orgasmic about this craven weaponry. In the transvaluation of values that militarism produces, cowardice becomes a martial virtue. Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Laureate, pushes forward with plans for the "Prompt Global Strike" system of "conventional" super-missiles that can rain down massive death - unstoppable, undeterrable, without warning - anywhere on the planet within an hour. All this, while expanding shorter-range missile "defense" systems that bristle with blatantly offensive potential, and intent, all over the world. Plus spending billions to "modernize" the nuclear arsenal, ensuring that it stays effective enough to murder the entire earth, while weeding out some "redundant" warheads as a PR gesture. Meanwhile, the drone programs - emblazoned with names that proudly proclaim their savage nature: "Predators" and "Reapers," launching "Hellfire" missiles into sleeping villages - keep expanding relentlessly. As noted by Nick Turse - who is doing invaluable work detailing the deadly nuts and bolts of the militarist empire and its profiteers - the Pentagon is drooling over visions of vast robotic forces filling the heavens and roaming the earth, even down to the smallest crevice. He rightly notes the main purpose of this massively funded R&D: to make war "easier," less deadly to "our side," and thus more palatable to the public: "This means bigger, badder, faster drones - armed to the teeth - with sensor systems to monitor wide swathes of territory and the ability to loiter overhead for days on end waiting for human targets to appear and, in due course, be vaporized by high-powered munitions. It's a future built upon advanced technologies designed to make targeted killings - remote-controlled assassinations - ever more effortless. "... For the Air Force, such a prospect is the stuff of dreams, a bright future for unmanned, hypersonic lethality; for the rest of the planet, it's a potential nightmare from which there may be no waking." But while Turse outlines this potential nightmare in grim detail, we are of course beset by present nightmares in horrific plenty. And few are more chilling than the ruling establishment's astonishingly swift acceptance of outright torture as an open tool of national policy. This acceptance not only includes the increasingly frenzied praise and championing of torture by the circle of war criminals and accomplices led by Dick Cheney; in slightly more restrained tones, it goes right across the board among the political and media elite. Torture is now nothing more than a topic for "debate" - debates which center largely on the relative "effectiveness" of various torture techniques, or else on mindless (not to mention heartless) hairsplitting over the meaning of the word "torture." There is of course a myth that Barack Obama has "ended" the practice of torture. This is not even remotely true. For one thing, the Army Field Manual that Obama has adopted as his interrogation standard permits many practices that any rational person would consider torture. For another, we have no way of verifying what techniques are actually being used by the government's innumerable "security" and intelligence agencies, by the covert units of the military - and by other entities whose very existence is still unknown. These agencies are almost entirely self-policed; they investigate themselves, they report on themselves to the toothless Congressional "oversight" committees; we simply have to take these organizations - whose entire raison d'etre is deceit, deception, lawlessness and subterfuge - at their word. And of course, we have no way of knowing what is being done in the torture chambers of foreign lands where the United States often "outsources" its captives. Finally, even if the comforting bedtime story of Obama's ban of torture techniques in interrogation were true, there remains his ardent championing of the right to seize anyone on earth - without a warrant, without producing any evidence whatsoever of wrongdoing - and hold them indefinitely, often for years on end, in a legal limbo, with no inherent rights whatsoever, beyond whatever narrowly constricted, ever-changing, legally baseless and often farcical "hearings" and tribunals the captors deign to allow them. Incarceration under these conditions is itself an horrendous act of torture, no matter what else might happen to the captive. Yet Obama has actively, avidly applied this torture, and has gone to court numerous times to defend this torture, and to expand the use of this torture. Many thousands of innocent people have already been forced through the meat grinder of this torture - at one point early in the Iraq War, the Red Cross estimated that 70-90 percent of the more than 20,000 Iraqis being held by the Americans as "suspected terrorists" were not guilty of any crime whatsoever, much less 'terrorism'. And that is just a single snapshot, at a single point in time, of the vast gulag that America has wrapped around the earth - a gulag where many have been murdered outright, not just tortured or unjustly imprisoned. And it is still going on, with scarcely a demur across the bipartisan establishment. The heinous and dishonorable practice of torture, physical and psychological, is now an intrinsic, openly established element of American society. Murder, cowardice, torture, dishonor: these are fruits - and the distinguishing characteristics - of the militarized society. What Americans once would not do even to Nazis with the blood of millions on their hands, they now do routinely to weak and wretched captives seized on little or no evidence of wrongdoing at all. We are deep in the darkness, and hurtling deeper, headlong, all the time. II. Let's not kid ourselves, however. The militarism that has now gained such a strangulating ascendancy over American life did not drop down suddenly from the sky (or arrive on the hijacked bus that Bush and Cheney drove to the White House). Although this militarism has now reached unprecedented levels of institutional and political dominance, there has always been a strong warlike strain running through American history - indeed, through its pre-history as well, as Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton demonstrate in their book, Dominion of War, detailing the decisive influence of war and imperialism on America's development over the past 500 years. Nor is it a peculiarly American problem. As Caroline Alexander notes in her excellent new work, The War That Killed Achilles: "If we took any period of a hundred years in the last five thousand, it has been calculated, we could expect, on average, 94 of those years to be occupied with large-scale conflicts in one or more parts of the world. This enduring, seemingly ineradicable fact of war is ... as intrinsic and tragic a component of the human condition as our very mortality." We human beings have been shaped by millions of years of genetic breakage and mutation, all of which is still on-going. We are compounds of chaos, ignorance and error. Our psyches are frail and variegated things, isolated, with each individual consciousness formed from a unique and ever-shifting coalescence of billions of brain cells firing (and misfiring) in infinite, unrepeatable combinations. Beneath this electrical superstructure lie mechanical rhythms and erratic surges of instinct and impulse, dark, hormonal tides and drives that never reach the plane of awareness. In the infancy of our species we began to cling - fiercely, in fear and desire - to patterns of behavior, emotion and thought that seemed to bring some sort of order, some containment of the whirlwind within us, and some protection from the dangers, known and unknown, that lurked outside. We began to do "whatever it takes" to preserve these patterns from the ever-present threat of their dissolution in the whirlwind, to impose them, by violence if necessary, on the recalcitrant material of reality - including the always-unknowable, impenetrable reality of the Other, those mysterious combinations outside our isolated consciousness. The patterns become ingrained, they sink into the substrate where they operate unquestioned and unseen, they become "natural," the way that things must be. Domination and obedience are among the strongest, and most enduring, of these patterns, taking multitudinous forms - a "local habitation and a name" - in the ever-changing circumstances of existence. War is their expression writ large. It is in us, it comes from us. But to acknowledge war's intrinsic, universal character does not absolve us of the need to resist it. To say, "Oh, that's just human nature; it's always been this way and always will be this way," is not only a lazy, timorous acquiescence to base instinct, it also posits a settled, even eternal quality to human nature and human consciousness that simply does not and cannot exist. To go against war, to step outside the ingrained behavioral patterns of domination and obedience is indeed an "unnatural" act - and it feels unnatural, it feels strange, and raw, and frightening. But the deeper fear - of psychic and physical dissolution - that lies at the foundation of these ever-more destructive patterns can only be faced down, changed, and wrenched into some more benevolent pattern by embracing the risk and discomfort of stepping forth, of stepping beyond - literally, "transgressing" - the boundaries of a wholly imaginary (or even hallucinatory) "human nature." The whirlwind that characterizes the imperfect, breaking, misfiring, evolving reality of human consciousness is not only a producer of (very understandable) deep-seated fears; it is also a force for liberation. Because our nature is not ultimately fixed, we can, literally and figuratively, burn new connections in our brains, we can enlarge our consciousness and extend our empathetic understanding of those strange Others. And we have been doing this, in fits and starts, in lurches and staggers, with much backsliding and many wrong turns - indeed, in ignorance and error - for as long as we have been creatures cursed and gifted with self-awareness. We do have the capacity, the space, to resist the patterns of domination and obedience, to seek out new ways of seeing the world, of being in the world, of communing with others. This seems, to me, a worthwhile thing to be getting on with during our painfully brief time on the earth, during our infinitesimal window of opportunity to make some small contribution toward pushing the project of being human - or rather, becoming human - down the road, at least a few more steps, in the direction of a better understanding, a broader consciousness, a greater enlightenment. Chris Floyd is an American writer and frequent contributor to CounterPunch. His blog, Empire Burlesque, can be found at www.chris-floyd.com. --------13 of 15-------- 15 Reasons for a Revolution When Silence is Betrayal By BILL QUIGLEY March 8, 2010 CounterPunch It is time for a revolution. Government does not work for regular people. It appears to work quite well for big corporations, banks, insurance companies, military contractors, lobbyists, and for the rich and powerful. But it does not work for people. The 1776 Declaration of Independence stated that when a long train of abuses by those in power evidence a design to reduce the rights of people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is the peoples right, in fact their duty to engage in a revolution. Martin Luther King, Jr., said forty three years ago next month that it was time for a radical revolution of values in the United States. He preached "a true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies". It is clearer than ever that now is the time for radical change. Look at what our current system has brought us and ask if it is time for a revolution? Over 2.8 million people lost their homes in 2009 to foreclosure or bank repossessions - nearly 8000 each day - higher numbers than the last two years when millions of others also lost their homes. At the same time, the government bailed out Bank of America, Citigroup, AIG, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the auto industry and enacted the troubled asset (TARP) program with $1.7 trillion of our money. Wall Street then awarded itself over $20 billion in bonuses in 2009 alone, an average bonus on top of pay of $123,000. At the same time, over 17 million people are jobless right now. Millions more are working part-time when they want and need to be working full-time. Yet the current system allows one single U.S. Senator to stop unemployment and Medicare benefits being paid to millions. There are now 35 registered lobbyists in Washington DC for every single member of the Senate and House of Representatives, at last count 13,739 in 2009. There are eight lobbyists for every member of Congress working on the health care fiasco alone. At the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that corporations now have a constitutional right to interfere with elections by pouring money into races. The Department of Justice gave a get out of jail free card to its own lawyers who authorized illegal torture. At the same time another department of government, the Pentagon, is prosecuting Navy SEALS for punching an Iraqi suspect. The US is not only involved in senseless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the U.S. now maintains 700 military bases world-wide and another 6000 in the US and our territories. Young men and women join the military to protect the U.S. and to get college tuition and healthcare coverage and killed and maimed in elective wars and being the world's police. Wonder whose assets they are protecting and serving? In fact, the U.S. spends $700 billion directly on military per year, half the military spending of the entire world - much more than Europe, China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, and Venezuela - combined. The government and private companies have dramatically increased surveillance of people through cameras on public streets and private places, airport searches, phone intercepts, access to personal computers, and compilation of records from credit card purchases, computer views of sites, and travel. The number of people in jails and prisons in the U.S. has risen sevenfold since 1970 to over 2.3 million. The US puts a higher percentage of our people in jail than any other country in the world. The tea party people are mad at the Republicans, who they accuse of selling them out to big businesses. Democrats are working their way past depression to anger because their party, despite majorities in the House and Senate, has not made significant advances for immigrants, or women, or unions, or African Americans, or environmentalists, or gays and lesbians, or civil libertarians, or people dedicated to health care, or human rights, or jobs or housing or economic justice. Democrats also think their party is selling out to big business. Forty three years ago next month, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached in Riverside Church in New York City that "a time comes when silence is betrayal". He went on to condemn the Vietnam War and the system which created it and the other injustices clearly apparent. "We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a 'thing oriented' society to a 'person oriented' society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered". Bill Quigley is legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He can be contacted at quigley77 [at] gmail.com. --------14 of 15-------- Calling All Rebels by Chris Hedges Monday, March 8, 2010 TruthDig.com There are no constraints left to halt America's slide into a totalitarian capitalism. Electoral politics are a sham. The media have been debased and defanged by corporate owners. The working class has been impoverished and is now being plunged into profound despair. The legal system has been corrupted to serve corporate interests. Popular institutions, from labor unions to political parties, have been destroyed or emasculated by corporate power. And any form of protest, no matter how tepid, is blocked by an internal security apparatus that is starting to rival that of the East German secret police. The mounting anger and hatred, coursing through the bloodstream of the body politic, make violence and counter-violence inevitable. Brace yourself. The American empire is over. And the descent is going to be horrifying. Those singled out as internal enemies will include people of color, immigrants, gays, intellectuals, feminists, Jews, Muslims, union leaders and those defined as "liberals." They will be condemned as anti-American and blamed for our decline. The economic collapse, which remains mysterious and enigmatic to most Americans, will be pinned by demagogues and hatemongers on these hapless scapegoats. And the random acts of violence, which are already leaping up around the fringes of American society, will justify harsh measures of internal control that will snuff out the final vestiges of our democracy. The corporate forces that destroyed the country will use the information systems they control to mask their culpability. The old game of blaming the weak and the marginal, a staple of despotic regimes, will empower the dark undercurrents of sadism and violence within American society and deflect attention from the corporate vampires that have drained the blood of the country. "We are going to be poorer," David Cay Johnston told me. Johnston was the tax reporter of The New York Times for 13 years and has written on how the corporate state rigged the system against us. He is the author of "Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You With the Bill," a book about hidden subsidies, rigged markets and corporate socialism. "Health care is going to eat up more and more of our income. We are going to have less and less for other things. We are going to have some huge disasters sooner or later caused by our failure to invest. Dams and bridges will break. Buildings will collapse. There are water mains that are 25 to 50 feet wide. There will be huge infrastructure disasters. Our intellectual resources are in decline. We are failing to educate young people and instill in them rigor. We are going to continue to pour money into the military. I think it is possible, I do not say it is probable, that we will have a revolution, a civil war that will see the end of the United States of America." "If we see the end of this country it will come from the right and our failure to provide people with the basic necessities of life," said Johnston. "Revolutions occur when young men see the present as worse than the unknown future. We are not there. But it will not take a lot to get there. The politicians running for office who are denigrating the government, who are saying there are traitors in Congress, who say we do not need the IRS, this when no government in the history of the world has existed without a tax enforcement agency, are sowing the seeds for the destruction of the country. A lot of the people on the right hate the United States of America. They would say they hate the people they are arrayed against. But the whole idea of the United States is that we criticize the government. We remake it to serve our interests. They do not want that kind of society. They reject, as Aristotle said, the idea that democracy is to rule and to be ruled in turns. They see a world where they are right and that is it. If we do not want to do it their way we should be vanquished. This is not the idea on which the United States was founded." It is hard to see how this can be prevented. The engines of social reform are dead. Liberal apologists, who long ago should have abandoned the Democratic Party, continue to make pathetic appeals to a tone-deaf corporate state and Barack Obama while the working and middle class are ruthlessly stripped of rights, income and jobs. Liberals self-righteously condemn imperial wars and the looting of the U.S. Treasury by Wall Street but not the Democrats who are responsible. And the longer the liberal class dithers and speaks in the bloodless language of policies and programs, the more hated and irrelevant it becomes. No one has discredited American liberalism more than liberals themselves. And I do not hold out any hope for their reform. We have entered an age in which, as William Butler Yeats wrote, "the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity." "If we end up with violence in the streets on a large scale, not random riots, but insurrection and things break down, there will be a coup d'tat from the right," Johnston said. "We have already had an economic coup d'tat. It will not take much to go further." How do we resist? How, if this descent is inevitable, as I believe it is, do we fight back? Why should we resist at all? Why not give in to cynicism and despair? Why not carve out as comfortable a niche as possible within the embrace of the corporate state and spend our lives attempting to satiate our private needs? The power elite, including most of those who graduate from our top universities and our liberal and intellectual classes, have sold out for personal comfort. Why not us? The French moral philosopher Albert Camus argued that we are separated from each other. Our lives are meaningless. We cannot influence fate. We will all die and our individual being will be obliterated. And yet Camus wrote that "one of the only coherent philosophical positions is revolt. It is a constant confrontation between man and his obscurity. It is not aspiration, for it is devoid of hope. That revolt is the certainty of a crushing fate, without the resignation that ought to accompany it." "A living man can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an object," Camus warned. "But if he dies in refusing to be enslaved, he reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be classified as an object." The rebel, for Camus, stands with the oppressed - the unemployed workers being thrust into impoverishment and misery by the corporate state, the Palestinians in Gaza, the civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, the disappeared who are held in our global black sites, the poor in our inner cities and depressed rural communities, immigrants and those locked away in our prison system. And to stand with them does not mean to collaborate with parties, such as the Democrats, who can mouth the words of justice while carrying out acts of oppression. It means open and direct defiance. The power structure and its liberal apologists dismiss the rebel as impractical and see the rebel's outsider stance as counterproductive. They condemn the rebel for expressing anger at injustice. The elites and their apologists call for calm and patience. They use the hypocritical language of spirituality, compromise, generosity and compassion to argue that the only alternative is to accept and work with the systems of power. The rebel, however, is beholden to a moral commitment that makes it impossible to stand with the power elite. The rebel refuses to be bought off with foundation grants, invitations to the White House, television appearances, book contracts, academic appointments or empty rhetoric. The rebel is not concerned with self-promotion or public opinion. The rebel knows that, as Augustine wrote, hope has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage - anger at the way things are and the courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. The rebel is aware that virtue is not rewarded. The act of rebellion defines itself. "You do not become a 'dissident' just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career," Vaclav Havel said when he battled the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. "You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society. ... The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public. He offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin - and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost." Those in power have disarmed the liberal class. They do not argue that the current system is just or good, because they cannot, but they have convinced liberals that there is no alternative. But we are not slaves. We have a choice. We can refuse to be either a victim or an executioner. We have the moral capacity to say no, to refuse to cooperate. Any boycott or demonstration, any occupation or sit-in, any strike, any act of obstruction or sabotage, any refusal to pay taxes, any fast, any popular movement and any act of civil disobedience ignites the soul of the rebel and exposes the dead hand of authority. "There is beauty and there are the humiliated," Camus wrote. "Whatever difficulties the enterprise may present, I should like never to be unfaithful either to the second or the first." "There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop," Mario Savio said in 1964. "And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all." The capacity to exercise moral autonomy, the capacity to refuse to cooperate, offers us the only route left to personal freedom and a life with meaning. Rebellion is its own justification. Those of us who come out of the religious left have no quarrel with Camus. Camus is right about the absurdity of existence, right about finding worth in the act of rebellion rather than some bizarre dream of an afterlife or Sunday School fantasy that God rewards the just and the good. "Oh my soul," the ancient Greek poet Pindar wrote, "do not aspire to immortal life, but exhaust the limits of the possible." We differ with Camus only in that we have faith that rebellion is not ultimately meaningless. Rebellion allows us to be free and independent human beings, but rebellion also chips away, however imperceptibly, at the edifice of the oppressor and sustains the dim flames of hope and love. And in moments of profound human despair these flames are never insignificant. They keep alive the capacity to be human. We must become, as Camus said, so absolutely free that "existence is an act of rebellion." Those who do not rebel in our age of totalitarian capitalism and who convince themselves that there is no alternative to collaboration are complicit in their own enslavement. They commit spiritual and moral suicide. 2010 TruthDig.com Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. --------15 of 15-------- The Democratic Party's Plan To THROW The Next Couple Elections Peaceteam.net Facing reality is a tough job but somebody's got to do it. And we foretell for you the events of the future NOT because we want them to happen, but to get you to act to keep them from happening. But to do that you need an action page, so here it is. Put The Public Option Up For A Vote: http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1038.php And now we will explain why this action page is so critical. To understand the current political dynamic, first you must understand that the Democrats are PLANNING on losing the next couple election cycles. UNTIL you understand that, the events to unfold in the next couple years (unless you act to derail them) will make no sense to you. You don't have to believe us. Just listen to the way the Democrats themselves are talking. Nancy Pelosi concedes that they will likely suffer substantial losses in the House come November, though she still will not admit that they will lose their majority in the next round. Barack Obama says doesn't "know" how his ever more determined push of the universally despised Senate health care scam will play politically. He doesn't know??? Was the loss of the eternally Democratic senate seat in Massachusetts not enough of a wake up call? Their original plan, which we told you about no later than last September (and we can point you to our published article at the time to prove it), was to lull the liberal/progressive base into thinking a "public option" was some kind of mumbling substitute for a single payer reform system (that would have represented REAL change), with the INTENTION of throwing even that option over the side before final passage. We saw it all coming, and we tried to warn you how important it was to keep speaking out to demand better. For the corporate special interests controlling the whole legislative process (but only in the absence of your voices of course) this was a heads they win, tails the people lose, proposition. By getting the Democrats to squander their mandate and political capital for actual change, by getting them to meekly abandon their professed principles in favor of a bill that would benefit as a bottom line the insurance corporations only, the people en masse would justifiably conclude that the Democrats had completely betrayed them. And the Republicans, who by the tactic of enfeeblement of government in fact just empower the same ultimate corporate agenda, even as disliked as they are themselves, would be swept back into office in the next election. Net result ... reform and change discredited, hopes dashed, defeatism rules, the corporations win again, one grand circular tag team. That was the MASTER plan. But then it hit a bump in the road in Massachusetts. For you see, Scott Brown was not SUPPOSED to win. What he was supposed to do was to stir the pot of public anger as a prelude to November, to build a record of opposition, to fire a shot across the public bow of the Democrats, but he was not supposed to actually hit anything. It was strategically premature. Because having lost their shaky super majority, depending even as it was on regressive bad cops like Nelson and Lieberman, the Democrats could then no longer just waltz the fatally compromised health care bill through with a unilateral conference committee. What to do? What were the corporate fascists to do? Now keep in mind that the EXCUSE the Democrats had been giving all along to their own base, as to why not only single payer, but in the end even a feeble public option, had to be taken off the table, was that they could not muster a full 60 votes for that in the Senate, that they could only manage something like 53-56. But now suddenly, the only way to force this destined to be hated bill through was have the Democrats in the House bend over for the worst case Senate bill as it was, and clench their noses long enough to pull some kind of corrective reconciliation shenanigans that would only require 51 votes. Why, the people would ask themselves, can't we at least have a public option, since we were trying to get Congress to use reconciliation to make THAT happen all along? And the inescapable answer is ... that was not the plan. Suddenly people like Senator Rockefeller, who had PRETENDED to be for a public option before, dramatically reversed their position. Suddenly people like Senator Harkin, who declared himself to be at heart a "single payer guy" live on TV with Ed Shultz just the other day, would in the next breath not even ADMIT that he would support a public option IF a vote for it came up. Suddenly, people who were all for the public option when their vote did NOT count became equivocal, or against it, when they COULD possibly cast the deciding vote. No, the plan was for the Democrats to pass a bill that would be so despised that they would be swept out of power again, that would cost them even their simple majorities. That was the PLAN. That was the plan of the corporations all along. There has never been any other plan. And that REMAINS the corporate plan with what can only be described as an obstinate and renewed determination. Now, it would be one thing if Barack Obama and the Democratic party "leadership" were going to the wall for what the PEOPLE want. But they are not. They are bracing to go to the wall for what the corporations want. As perverse as George Bush was, at least he always had his most dedicated and delusional core base on his side when he thumbed his nose at the rest of us. The exact opposite is the case here. Barack Obama is standing in diametric opposition to his own base, and willfully so, displaying all the leadership qualities of a bull in a bull fight. We can read from the last 25 messages function of our own action pages, just as you can. It breaks our heart to read people talking about how they worked so hard for Obama and now feel so betrayed. It breaks our heart to read independents write that they were willing to give the Democrats a chance, but will never vote for a Democrat again. It breaks our heart to read people declaring that they will never even turn out to vote again, for anyone. Because this is all nothing but surrender talk. But we fight on undeterred, even with our broken heart. Put The Public Option Up For A Vote: http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1038.php And we tell you now, that if this health care bill is rammed through without at least a semblance of a public option in it, the one we were promised at a MINIMUM, there will be massive hemorrhaging at the polls come November. The American people are out there right now asking themselves, "Was Massachusetts not enough ... how big a 2x4 will we have to hit these mules in the head with before they finally get it?" The Republicans will not need to talk about any other issue to campaign on. They will get a total pass on a secret agenda that is, if anything, in every respect more hostile to the real public policy interests of the people whose anger they will arouse. And if the Democrats DON'T lose their majorities in a single election, guess what? Same rallying war cry for 2012, "Got to vote out more Democrats so we can repeal the hated bill, including getting a getting a president who will sign the repeal bill." Try to tell us you don't hear it happening already. Even if the Democrats don't lose their majorities in 2010, they will be so reduced that they will not be able to accomplish anything in the next two years, not that they have been able to accomplish anything with the majorities they had, meaning nothing to run on in 2012 either. Of course the latest promise never meant to be honored is that the Democrats will fight for a public option LATER. But if they can't muster the votes to do it now, with the majorities they have now, only the most terminally gullible would believe they could do it with fewer votes in the future, even if they actually wanted to, which they do NOT! And if there is a historic landslide in November and both houses of Congress go Republican, guess what the first bill from the new Congress will be ... repeal the health care bill. And guess what happens if Obama tries to veto it, or the Democrats try to filibuster (after passing it on 51 votes in the first place)? In short, Obama becomes an instant lame duck, the people will be hell bent on getting rid of him too, and the entire Democratic party is just a dead man walking. Either way, pushing this bill now avails nothing, since it WILL be repealed before it ever goes into meaningful effect. And when the repeal bill does become law there will be people celebrating and dancing in the streets, not even realizing that they are just dancing on their own graves. No pack of lemmings have ever hurtled so foolishly to their own demise as this Democratic Congress. No pod of whales have ever beached themselves so senselessly. We are talking about the biggest act of deliberate mass suicide in the history of the animal kingdom. UNLESS, and we would concede that this is a big unless, we can somehow get enough people to speak out to DEMAND a vote on a public option, and not just the weak public option passed by the House, but instead the proposed Medicare expansion to 55 from December quashed putatively by Lieberman alone, and additionally for an option for ANYONE to buy in to Medicare, for the PURPOSE of calling the Democrats out, to at least demand something better. Democratic members of Congress are under corporate orders (including direct from the White House and being cajoled) to take a dive. The only thing that can countermand that order are your voices speaking out. Your voices ... if you will use them while you still can. Please submit the action page now. Put The Public Option Up For A Vote: http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1038.php Or folks can just keep lapping up the diminishingly persuasive happy face emails from the Obama never-ending campaign machine with ever more promises of ponies and rainbows, in which case all will transpire just as we have revealed it. And here is the Facebook links for the action page further above. [Facebook] Public Option Vote Action: http://apps.facebook.com/fb_voices/action.php?qnum=pnum1038 And this is the Twitter reply for the Public Option Vote action @cxs #p1038 Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours, and forward this alert as widely as possible. If you would like to get alerts like these, you can do so at http://www.millionfaxmarch.com/in.htm Or if you want to cease receiving our messages, just use the function at http://www.millionfaxmarch.com/out.htm usalone378b:87514 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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