Progressive Calendar 06.19.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2010 15:03:39 -0700 (PDT)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   06.19.10

1. Peace walk       6.19 9am Cambridge MN
2. Work justice     6.19 10am
3. Guatemala        6.19 10am
4. CUAPB            6.19 1:30pm
5. Northtown vigil  6.19 2pm
6. Intermedia BBQ   6.19 4pm
7. Honduras/coup    6.19 9pm

8. Stillwater vigil 6.20 1pm
9. AI cancelled     6.20

10. James Petras  - 22 reasons why American working people hate the state
11. David Macaray - Is lip service dead? Honey, I shrank the labor lobby
12. Moti Nissani  - Confessions of a conspiracy theorist - part 1
13. Alex Cockburn - Obama should have kept his mouth shut
14. David M Green - The oil hemorrhage: empty presidential platitudes
15. ed            - The first day of the rest   (haiku)

--------1 of 15--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 6.19 9am Cambridge MN

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

--------2 of 15--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Work justice 6.19 10am

June 19: Workplace Justice Support/Networking Meeting. 10 AM - Noon at the
Minnesota Women's Building, 550 Rice Street, St. Paul. More information:

--------3 of 15--------

From: Sarah Humpage <sarah.humpage [at]>
Subject: Guatemala 6.19 10am

Coffeehour at the Resource Center of the Americas: Social Conflict in
Saturday, June 19
10:00am - 11:45am
3019 Minnehaha Ave So, lower level
Mpls, MN

Description: Social Conflict in Guatemala: Labor, Land and Indigenous Rights
in the Verapaces Region.

Edgar Alvarez Gomez will present on the complexity of proposals for rural
development and food security in Guatemala. Edgar will speak specifically
about the efforts of the Union of Farmworker Organizations in the
Verapaces (Union Verapacense de Organizaciones Campesinas - UVOC), which
works in the region of Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz. The region faces
historic land conflicts, unemployment stemming from the fall in coffee
prices, and plans for large-scale development projects like mines, dams,
bio-fuel plantations and oil drilling. In this context, the UVOC maintains
a focus on the defense of indigenous territories and the sustainability of
rural communities, taking part in legislative proposals and land
negotiations, as well as other projects. For instance, the UVOC supported
the community San Jose la Mocca in recuperating the historic indigenous
lands where community members had worked on a coffee plantation. Within
the movement, the UVOC has also embarked on an internal process to ensure
the empowerment of women and youth.

Speaker: Edgar Alvarez Gomez is an organizer working within the youth and
campesino (farmworker) movements in Guatemala.

Contact Information: Edgar Alvarez Email: edgaralvarez6 [at]
Phone: 612.721.9083 (as of June 12)

--------4 of 15-------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: CUAPB 6.19 1:30pm

Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue

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

--------5 of 15--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 6.19 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday

--------6 of 15--------

From: Intermedia Arts <info [at]>
Subject: Intermedia BBQ 6.19 4pm

Intermedia Arts Summer Kickoff: Let's Get Summer Started! You are invited
to a BBQ Feast / DJ-Dance Party / Art-Making / Community Celebration
Saturday, June 19, 2010 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM at Intermedia Arts Check out our
fantastic new community spaces, see the latest art-on-our-walls, meet our
new staff members, and be the first to find out about the amazing new
programs and events we have planned for you this year! Hands on activities
for families include button-making and screen-printing, as well as the
interactive gallery installation exhibit, the Storefront of Ideas.

--------7 of 15--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Honduras/coup 6.19 9pm

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

Sat, 6/19, 9pm and Tues, 6/22, 8am
"Honduras After the Coup: the Resistance Continues"

June 28 is the 1st anniversary of the 2009 Honduran coup d'état which
ousted elected President Manuel Zelaya and led to Pepe Lobo rising to
power in Honduras.  The coup seems to be a fait accompli, and Honduras is
off the radar of many news watchers.  Yet, average Hondurans still desire
a return to democracy.  We talk with Minnesota Hands Off Honduras
Coalition organizers about the history of the original "banana republic",
the context of the coup, and what people are doing locally to act in
solidarity with the pro-democracy movement in Honduras.

--------8 of 15--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 6.20 1pm

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

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

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

--------9 of 15--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: AI cancelled 6.20

Due to several scheduling conflicts and expected low attendance, we have
decided to cancel the Amnesty International USA Group 37 meeting
originally scheduled for Sunday, June 20th. Our meetings will resume with
our next regular meeting on July 18th.

--------10 of 15--------

Twenty-Two Reasons Why American Working People Hate the State
by James Petras
June 18th, 2010
Dissident Voice

Why does the right wing attack on "Big Government" increasingly resonates
with working people? Liberals claim wage and salaried workers are acting
against their "self-interest", citing government welfare programs like
social security and unemployment payments. Progressives argue that workers
hostile to the state are "racists", "fundamentalists" and/or irrational,
blinded by misplaced fears of threats to individual freedoms.

I will argue there are many sound, rational, material reasons for working
people to be in revolt against the state.

Twenty-Two Reasons Why Working People Hate the State

1. Most wage and salaried workers pay disportionately higher taxes than
the corporate rich, and therefore millions of Americans work in the
"underground economy" to make ends meet; thus subjecting themselves to
arrest, and prosecution by the state for trying to make a living by
avoiding onerous taxes.

2. The state provides generous multi-year tax exemptions for corporations
thus raising the tax rate for wage and salaried workers or eliminating
vital services. The state's inequitable tax revenue policies provoke

3. High taxes combined with fewer and more expensive public services,
include growing costs of public higher education and higher health
charges, feed popular antagonism and frustration that they and their
children are being denied opportunities to get ahead and stay healthy.

4. Many working people resent the fact that their tax money is being spent
by the state on endless distant wars and to finance bailouts of Wall
Street instead of investing it in reindustrializing America to create well
paying jobs or to aid unemployed or underemployed workers unable to meet
mortgage payments and facing eviction or homelessness. Most workers reject
the inequitable budget expenditures that privilege the rich and deny the
working people.

5. Working people are appalled by the state's hypocrisy and double
standards in prosecuting "welfare cheats" for taking hundreds but
overlooking corporate and banking swindlers, and Pentagon military cost
overruns of hundreds of billions. Few working people believe there is
equality before the law, implicitly rejecting its claims of legitimacy.

6. Many working class families resent the fact that the state recruits
their sons and daughters for wars, leading to death and crippling injuries
instead of public service jobs, while the children of the rich and
affluent pursue civilian careers.

7. The state subsidizes and upgrades public infrastructure - roads, parks
and utilities in upper end neighborhoods while ignoring the demands for
improvements of low income communities. Moreover the state locates
contaminants - incinerators, high polluting industries etc. - in close
proximity to workers' housing and schools.

8. The state holds the minimum wage below increases in the cost of living
but encourages and promotes excess profits.

9. Law enforcement is strict in high end neighborhoods and lax in low
income communities resulting in higher rates of homicides and robberies.

10. State imposes constraints on labor organizations struggling to secure
wages and benefits and ignores corporate intimidation and arbitrary
firings of workers. The state encourages corporate mergers and
acquisitions leading to monopolies but discourages collective action from

11. State economic institutions recruit policy makers from banks and
financial houses who make decisions favoring their former employers, while
wage and salaried workers are excluded and have no representation in
economic policy positions.

12. The state increasingly infringes on individual freedoms of social
activists via the Patriot Act, arbitrary arrests, and grants impunity to
police violence and punishes whistle blowers, rejecting citizen reviews
with punitive powers.

13. The state is highly responsive to, and increases funding for, the
military-industrial complex, the relocation of MNC overseas and the high
income Israel lobby while cutting funding for public investment in
productive activity, applied technology and high tech job training for US
workers and salaried employees and their children.

14. State policies have increased inequalities between the top 10% and the
bottom 50% for decades, turning the US into the industrial country with
the greatest inequalities.

15. State policies have led to declining living standards as wage and
salary earners work longer hours with less job security,for a greater
number of years before receiving pensions and social security and under
greater environmental hazards.

16. Elected state officials break most campaign promises to working people
while fulfilling promises for the upper class/corporate banking elite.

17. State officials pay greater attention and are more responsive to a few
big financial contributors than to millions of voters.

18. State officials are more responsive to payoffs from corporate lobbies
protecting corporate profits than to the health, educational and income
needs of the electorate.

19. State-corporate links lead to deregulation, which results in
contamination of the environment leading to the bankruptcy of small
businesses and loss of many jobs, as well as the loss of recreational
areas, spoiling rest and recreation for working people.

20. The state increases the retirement age rather than increase the social
security payments by the rich, with the result that workers in unhealthy
work environments will enjoy fewer years of retirement in good health.

21. The state judicial system is more likely to render favorable decisions
to wealthy plaintiffs with high paid, politically connected lawyers
against workers defended by inexperienced public defenders.

22. State tax collectors are more likely to pursue wage and salary tax
payers than upper class corporate executives employing accountants with
expert knowledge in tax loopholes and tax free shelters.


The state in its multiple activities, whether in law enforcement, military
recruitment, tax and expenditure polices, environmental, pension and
retirement legislation and administration, systematically favors the upper
class and corporate elite against wage, salaried and small business

The state is permissive with the rich and repressive of the working and
salaried employees, defending the privileges of the corporations and the
impunity of the police state while infringing on the individual freedoms
of the working people.

State policies increasingly extract more from the workers in terms of tax
revenues and provide less in social payments, while lessening tax payments
from Wall Street and inflating state transfers.

Popular perceptions of a hostile and exploitative state correspond to
their everyday practical experiences; their anti-state behavior is
selective and rational; most wage and salaried workers support social
security and unemployment benefits and oppose higher taxes because they
know, or intuit, that they are unfair.

Liberal academics and experts who claim workers are "irrational" are,
themselves, practioners of highly selective criticisms - pointing to
(shrinking) state social benefits while ignoring the unjust, inequitable
tax system and the biased behavior of the judicial, law enforcement,
legislative and regulatory system.

State personnel, policy makers and enforcement officials are attentive to,
and responsive and deferential to, the rich and hostile and indifferent
or arrogant toward workers.

In summary, the real issue is not that people are anti-state, but that the
state is anti the majority of the people. In the face of the economic
crises and prolonged imperial wars, the state becomes more brazenly
aggressive in slashing living standards in order to channel record levels
of public funds toward Wall Street speculators and the military industrial

While liberal-progressives remain embedded in "neo-keynsian" statest
ideology, outmoded in the face of a state thoroughly embedded in corporate
networks, the New Right's "anti-statest" rhetoric resonates with the
feelings, experiences and reasoning of important sectors of wage and
salaried workers and small business people.

The attempt by liberals and progressives to discredit this popular revolt
against the state, by pointing to the corporate financing and right wing
manipulation behind the anti-statist movement is doomed to failure,
because it fails to deal with the profound injustices experienced by
working people today in their daily dealings with a state, largely
administered by liberal corporate-militarists. The absence of an
anti-statist left has opened the door for the rise of a mass based "New

A "new left" will emerge from civil society when it recognizes the
pernicious exploitative role of the state, and is capable of dealing with
the powerful ties between liberalism-militarism-corporate "welfarism". The
revival and expansion of the debilitated public welfare programs for
working people can only take place by dismantling the current state
apparatus, and that depends on a complete break with both corporate
parties and an agenda that "revolutionizes" the way in which politics
works in America.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University,
New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser
to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of
Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). Petras. most recent book is Zionism,
Militarism and the Decline of US Power (Clarity Press, 2008). He can be
reached at: jpetras [at]

--------11 of 15--------

Is Lip Service Dead?
Honey, I Shrank the Labor Lobby
June 18 - 20, 2010

Because he expected Nixon to beat Kennedy in the 1960 presidential
election, comedian Mort Sahl prepared several appropriate jokes, one of
which had JFK's father, the wealthy and powerful Joe Kennedy, going on
television and lamenting sadly, "What's happened to our values..does money
mean nothing?"

Labor must be asking a similar question regarding the Democrats:  "What's
happened to our political sanctimonious lip-service dead?"
While the Democrats have always been squeamish and unreliable when it came
to important votes, their high-minded, proletarian bullshit always managed
to raise labor's morale.

Apparently, that's all changed.  Not only are the Democrats no longer
finessing organized labor, they're insulting it publicly.  On June 9, a
White House staffer mocked labor for "flushing $10 million..down the
toilet" in its support of progressive Bill Halter against Blanche Lincoln
in the Arkansas Senate primary.  Following the rebuke, pundits instantly
piled on, depicting the smackdown as further evidence of labor's decline.

One reason the Democrats feel they can freely ridicule labor is because
the relationship has always flowed in one direction.  Organized labor
clings to the Democrats for the same reason frustrated citizens cling to a
corrupt or grossly inefficient police force - viewing inferior cops as
better than no cops at all.

Clearly, America's post-industrial unions are suffering.  You don't lose a
critical mass of automobile manufacturing, along with the steel, toy,
paper, plastics, rubber, chemical, heavy equipment, furniture, textile,
appliance, building materials, and mining industries - most of which
offered good wages and benefits - without feeling the pain.

Still, even though union membership has dropped significantly (only
12.4-percent of the workforce belongs to a union, down from a high of
35-percent in the 1950s), organized labor has no reason to panic or sulk,
and certainly no reason to apologize.  It does, however, have reason to

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 16
million union members in this country.  Sixteen million of anything is
impressive.  The Chinese Army has 2.5 million active troops.  The
population of Israel is 7.5 million.  Sixteen million union members is a
tremendous resource.

To get the recognition it deserves, labor needs to circumvent disloyal
Democrats - factor them out of the equation - and appeal directly to the
American people.  One way of doing that is by adopting a catchy
advertising slogan and hiring celebrities (singers, actors, athletes) to
go on television and repeat it.

Catchphrases work. "Things go better with Coke" worked.  Nike's "Just do
it" worked.  Volkswagen's "Think small" worked.  The Energizer bunny
works.  The appeal to "death panels" worked.  Even labeling Barack Obama a
"socialist" sort of worked (although "Rockefeller Republican" would have
been more accurate).

Here's a slogan:  "Working people have never had a better friend".  The
message is clear, concise and - unlike "Things go better with
Coke" demonstrably true.  Organized labor needs Americans to recognize it
as the best friend working people ever had, and to recognize it in the
same way and to the same extent that they recognize "Got milk?"

Anyone who denies the accuracy of the slogan must be required to name a
better friend.  Of course, they won't be able to do that because there's
never been one; and those nave enough to suggest the U.S. Congress have to
be reminded that the only reason Congress passed any pro-labor legislation
was due to the labor lobby.

The beauty of the slogan is that, unlike typical advertising copy, it's
neither a lie nor an exaggeration.  It's an irrefutable fact.  Organized
labor is the working man and woman's best friend.  It always has been..and
always will be.  Simple as that.

David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright, is the author of .It.s Never Been
Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor.. He served 9 terms as president of AWPPW
Local 672. He can be reached at dmacaray [at]

--------12 of 15--------

Confessions of a Conspiracy Theorist - Part 1
American Machiavellianism: How and Why it Works and How it Can be Made to
Stop Working
by Moti Nissani
June 18th, 2010
Dissident Voice

In a five-part series in Dissident Voice, I hope to throw light on the
real workings of American plutocracy. Because conspiracies are central to
any understanding of how and why this plutocracy works, the first article
joins the camp of those who argue that America's real rulers often resort
to secret criminal plots and undertakings. The second article exploits the
manufactured Obama's birthplace controversy in an effort to gain insights
into the inner workings of the American political system. A third article
provides conclusive evidence that America's real rulers routinely utilize
intimidations and assassinations of people, foreign or domestic, who pose
meaningful threats to their power. A fourth article examines the
constellation of factors which enables these rulers to retain and enhance
their wealth and power. These four articles set the groundwork for the
fifth and most important article, which explores strategies for replacing
the current system with a more free, just, and sustainable one.

Conspiracy Theories

"If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of
a hundred battles" -Sun Tzu (6th century B.C.?)

One basic contention of this series is that conspiracies play a key role
in history. This contention, I shall argue, is not a conjecture, or a
premise, or a possibility. It is, rather, a fact, of the same general type
as the assertion: "No woman has ever been a president of the USA".

Suppose you owned Goldman Sachs or J. P. Morgan, that you conspired daily
with others of your kind to enrich and empower yourself at the expense of
many unsuspecting souls, and that you were sick and tired of having to
fend off your victims. Actual events taught you long ago that it could be
irksome, risky, and counterproductive to deny your scams and wrongdoings
one at a time:

A trusted fellow plotter might turn against you, as the one-of-a-kind
General Smedley Butler did with your fellow-bankers Prescott Bush and J.
P. Morgan, thus forcing them to abort their fascist coup d'etat and
placing them in a rather tight spot.

One of your underlings might betray you on his deathbed, as CIA Operator
E. Howard Hunt did, clearly and unequivocally implicating another
underling, Vice-President Lyndon Johnson, in the murder of President

An investigation of one of your conspiracies might, despite the odds,
reach a jury trial in which the victim's family and brothers-in-arms win
(as happened after you killed Dr. Martin Luther King), thus forcing you
and accomplices to suppress a verdict of conspiracy by the American
judicial system itself (see below for more details).

Your defense against such untoward occurrences has been truly ingenious.
Instead of dismissing a constant stream of rational analyses and empirical
data of your machinations, you schemed to use your government, media, and
virtual textbook monopoly to convince us that conspiracies fall into the
same category as a green-cheesed moon - they do not exist. Hence, it is
not merely factually incorrect but also illogical to accuse you of
clandestinely plotting in early June 2010 to keep the Dow Jones Industrial
Average above 10,000 and the price of an ounce of silver below $20. One
result: well-researched, often incontestable charges of enormous crimes
can be summarily dismissed by invoking the all-inclusive "it's just
another crazy conspiracy theory". A second result: confusion,
helplessness, and divisiveness among your enemies.

With a bit of reflection, open-minded people should be able to escape this
mind trap. Such people merely need to read just one honest historical
treatise, chosen at random, to convince themselves that conspiracies are
the very stuff of history. Alternatively, they can verify any of these

The two recognized founders of western historical scholarship, Herodotus
and Thucydides, whose books often exceed contemporary standards of
scholarship, truthfulness, and elegance, took conspiracies for granted and
described any number of them. Are the events they describe pure

Many of us had the pleasure of reading Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in high
school. Think about it: Didn't Brutus, Cassius, and their fellow oligarchs
secretly plot to kill Caesar? Does Shakespeare and the historians whose
writings informed his play strike you as silly "conspiracy theorists?"
Didn't a few filthy rich Romans conspire to kill the Gracchi Brothers,
because said brothers were hell-bent on agrarian reforms?

What about America's founding fathers: Weren't the events leading to the
Declaration of Independence a large-scale conspiracy of well-to-do British
citizens against their king?

Didn't the Anaconda Copper Company and ITT direct their minions Nixon,
Kissinger, and Pinochet to plot against President Allende of Chile? If not
a conspiracy, what else removed Allende from office and helped maximize
the profits margins of Anaconda? Wasn't one likely outcome of this coup an
elevation in the price of Anaconda's stocks? Isn't it probable that some
participants bought those stocks before the murder? Should we dismiss such
views because they invoke secret cabals?

And how about Mossadeq of Iran? The CIA operator in that oil-cursed land
tells us the full details of that particular conspiracy, including its
exact cost (real cheap, considering the prize: $100,000).

If we exclude Jesus Christ and, in some states, George Washington, the
United States calendar celebrates the single lives of just two other
individuals - Christopher Columbus and Martin Luther King. Our schools and
media portray King as a mere champion of civil rights and non-violence,
and he is so remembered by the vast majority of Americans (according to a
survey of hundreds of American college students I personally carried out).
But MLK stepped outside his proscribed role as a civil rights leader. Do
you think the bankers and generals would have welcomed his planned "Poor
People's Campaign" or his view that the "United States is the worst
purveyor of violence in the world?" The book Act of State: The Execution
of Martin Luther King, written by a close associate, makes the threat King
posed clear: "Martin Luther King Jr was the most powerful and eloquent
champion of the poor and oppressed in US history, and at the height of his
fame in the mid-sixties seemed to offer the real possibility of a new and
radical beginning for liberal politics in the USA. In 1968, he was
assassinated; the movement for social and economic change has never
recovered." But the story gets even more outlandish: "At a civil trial in
1999, supported by the King family, seventy witnesses under oath set out
the details of the conspiracy - the jury took just one hour to find that
Ray was not responsible for the assassination, that a wide-ranging
conspiracy existed, and that government agents were involved". So, there
you have it: not only legal proof that elements within our government
murder, but that they conspire to commit murder. (It goes without saying
that they also conspired to give the silent treatment to this truly
sensational verdict.) How can anyone familiar with this trial dismiss
assertions of other heinous government misdeeds merely because
conspiracies are impossible?

Under normal circumstances, government conspiracies are kept well-hidden
from the world's people. But now and then the truth comes up for air.
Thus, official investigators of J. F. Kennedy's death were forced to
reveal specific details of an earlier conspiratorial plan. According to
Wikipedia: "Operation Northwoods was a false-flag plan that originated
within the United States government in 1962. The plan called for Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) or other operatives to commit genuine acts of
terrorism in U.S. cities and elsewhere. These acts of terrorism were to be
blamed on Cuba in order to create public support for a war against that
nation, which had recently become communist under Fidel Castro". The
proposal, originating from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was forwarded by the
Chairman of that august body to the Defense Department, which approved it
and sent it to the State Department, which approved it and forwarded it to
President Kennedy, who rejected it, fired the chair of the Joint Chiefs,
and was murdered a short time later. Specifically, the operation "included
proposals for hijackings and bombings followed by the introduction of
phony evidence that would implicate the Cuban government". Here are some
juicy quotations from the Joint Chiefs (ah, what a lost goldmine for late
satirist George Carlin):

.We [the generals and the CIA] could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay
and blame Cuba..

.We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in
other Florida cities and even in Washington. The terror campaign could be
pointed at refugees seeking haven in the United States. We could sink a
boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated). We could
foster attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to
the extent of wounding in instances to be widely publicized. Exploding a
few plastic bombs in carefully chosen spots, the arrest of Cuban agents
and the release of prepared documents substantiating Cuban involvement,
also would be helpful in projecting the idea of an irresponsible

.It is possible to create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly
that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shot down a chartered civil
airliner en route from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama or
Venezuela. The destination would be chosen only to cause the flight plan
route to cross Cuba. The passengers could be a group of college students
off on a holiday..

Let me conclude this short list with a quote from Adam Smith, one of the
bankers' favorite scholars: "People of the same trade seldom meet
together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a
conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices".
The success of the plutocrats in convincing us to jeer at Adam Smith's
commonsense observation does not speak well for our rationality or for our
ability to think for ourselves. Nor does this success speak well for
progressive scholars and websites that uncritically accept the plutocrats.
absurd wholesale rejection of conspiracies. That such a pronounced feature
of humanity's historical record must be defended at all is yet another
striking testimony to the power of our real rulers over our minds and to
our own breathtaking indoctrinability.

One does not know whether to laugh or cry when one is mocked for being a
"conspiracy theorist," even in cases where there is overwhelming evidence
of a secret, sinister, plotting by a powerful cabal. Conspiracy is a
constant, recurrent, feature of human behavior, as common in history as
bankers are on Wall Street. Sometimes we conspire for the general good and
sometimes against it, but conspire we do. Look at your own private life:
Haven't you conspired on occasion? So, without further ado, I shall take
the reality of conspiracies for granted. There are no shortcuts to the
truth: Only a laborious rational analysis of facts and circumstances can
cast light on the probability of any given conspiratorial claim.

Moti Nissani is a professor emeritus, Department of Biology, Wayne State

--------13 of 15--------

He Should Have Kept His Mouth Shut
June 18 - 20, 2010

The French have a phrase, "He missed an excellent opportunity to keep his
mouth shut". That's certainly true of Obama last Tuesday when he rolled
out a big gun from the arsenal of White House crisis management, an Oval
Office address. Excluding FDR's  radio chats of the 1930s, there's scant
evidence  across the past forty years that as a venue for rallying the
nation, the presidential sanctum did Obama's predecessors  as president
much good. In Obama's case many of his stoutest supporters in the press
could say little in its favor. Obama would have been advised to say
nothing and leave the nation to the evening's main business, the NBA

It was certainly the worst rally-the-nation speech by a US president I've
ever watched, and that includes Nixon's cornered-rat addresses of the
early 1970s and - an ominous parallel -- Jimmy Carter's fireside chat on
April1977, four months into his presidency, in the Oval Office promoting
his plan for Energy Independence. To dramatize the need for conservation
Carter wore a cardigan. He said the crusade for energy reduction was "the
moral equivalent of war".  As he said these words he clenched his fist.
America was not impressed, but more than they were on Tuesday.

Asked a couple of weeks ago about the president's apparent inability to
project anger, his pr man, Robert Gibbs said the president had been
clenching his jaw. Better that he had continued clenching, and thus been
unable to open it to unleash that windy homily, ripe with cliche, bare of
specifics and without even the pummeling of BP that everyone had been
looking forward to. Of course Obama said that there will be a set-aside
clean-up and compensation fund financed by BP. He tossed the word
"recklessness" in BP's direction. But these were timid little puff-ball
punches. There was no mailed fist within the glove, just wadded tissue

Unlike wars and slumps, where a president can invoke inside knowledge
proving victory or recovery are imminent, the singularity of this crisis
is that there's no inside story, no disputing the central disastrous facts
except to suggest and then have confirmed that they are even worse that BP
or the US government admits.

The minimum quantity of crude oil spurting out of the broken riser pipe
now up around 60,000 bbd, heading towards the estimate by the Perdue
scientists of around 90,000bbd, which is apparently what an internal BP
memo suggested back in the immediate aftermath of the explosion on April

There is absolutely no imminent prospect of this situation improving over
the immediate future and a distinct possibility it could last the rest of
the year and conceivably the rest of Obama's first term - which in this
eventuality will also be his last.

Since there are no immediate solutions to what Obama is now calling the
worst environmental crisis in America's history, and 71 per cent of
Americans polled by Gallup over last weekend think Obama has not shown
enough toughness towards BP, you would have thought that Obama would have
waited to report on what in fact did happen the very next day - the
announcement of BP's $20 billion escrow fund managed by an independent
administrator, plus the withholding of BP's quarterly dividend.  But no.
Apparently Rahm Emanuel and the others thought it better to give vapid
words a day's lead over substantive news.

The speech left no banality unturned, from the ritual blue ribbon
commission to investigate why the April 20 disaster took place, to the
pledge of a shake-up in federal agencies that had previously been gofers
for the oil industry, to the final empty personal guarantee that cleanup
efforts will restore the Gulf not just to where it was before this
accident happened but to where it was years ago.

Every president since Nixon has tried to sell an energy plan. Carter wore
his cardigan and America laughed and turned up the heaters in their SUVs.
The only one to yield any tangible results was Reagan's consummated pledge
to rip the Carter-installed solar system off the roof of the White House.

Obama mumbled about windmills and solar panels and renewable energy and
ending America's dependence on fossil fuels.  He barely touched on his
energy bill, becalmed in the Congress because Senate leader Harry Reid has
told him it will never pass. He didn't even allude to his actual energy
plan which is to accelerate deep-sea drilling (on hold till the blue
ribbon commission gives the green light, which it will), issue federal
insurance guarantees for a new generation of nuclear plants, sponsor
"clean coal" and bail out the ethanol industry.

Nuclear power could make the BP catastrophe look like chickenfeed.
So-called "clean, low-sulfur coal", mined by mountain-top removal, is an
environmental disaster. The ethanol industry has long been a big financial
backer of Obama and is now in crisis because of over-production of corn,
from which the ethanol is distilled.  At the moment the federal government
limits the amount of ethanol than can be sold at the pump to 10 per cent
of every gallon. Obama may raise the percentage to 15 per cent. The US now
has about 250 million motor vehicles.  As Robert Bryce has pointed out on
this site, of that number, "only about 7.5 million are designed to burn
gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol" And there is evidence
that even that much ethanol may be too much. Last year, Toyota recalled
more than 200,00 Lexus vehicles due to internal component corrosion that
was caused by ethanol-blended fuel."

Obama could not only lose the important Lexus-owner vote, but also earn
the undying hatred of every American with a mowing machine, a snowblower,
or a leafblower. 15 per cent ethanol in the gas means they may not be able
to fire up these devices. That's a hefty chunk of the electorate. You lose
the lawn-mower vote, you lose the suburbs.

Obama's terrible speech showed that even now the White House hasn't
managed to get any productive hold on the disaster turning the Gulf of
Mexico into a sludge pond. Obama doesn't get it. Rahm Emanuel doesn't get
it. The speech writers don't get it. At the end of his speech Obama turned
to God and told Americans to pray. Here's a meeting of minds with BP,
since the oil company says the blowout was an act of God.

Even God won't be able to bail out Obama if he goes on like this.

--------14 of 15--------

Obama and the Oil Hemorrhage
Empty Presidential Platitudes
June 18 - 20, 2010

I really didn't want to write another rant this week on the now
yawn-inducing fact of Barack Obama's irrelevance and presidential
impotence (when, that is, it isn't something far worse), but watching his
first Oval Office address to the country the other night, I'm just amazed
at the deterioration of this presidency and the new heights of
abysmalosity (to coin a term) the guy has managed to scale.

Next to the state of the union address, such speeches are about the most
powerful arrow that presidents have in their quiver, used for doing the
most important thing associated with the modern presidency - namely,
persuading.  The speech was absolutely pathetic, to the point where even
those of us sick and tired of being sick and tired with disappointment at
this president still need to pay attention.

First of all, it was ridiculously late.  Why has it taken this guy two
months to directly address the country on what he is himself calling the
worst environmental disaster in our history?

Unfortunately, this is part of a pattern with him.  Paul Begala, one of
the folks who gave us Bill Clinton, absolutely slobbers over Obama and his
speech, seeing in its tardiness the wonder of The Great All-Seeing One
(With A Plan) in action:  "Thus began what is now a familiar play.  He
hangs back, holds back, resists fully engaging.  His supporters get
nervous, then edgy, then panicky.  And then he swoops in to save the day.
It happened in the campaign, on health care, and now, can we dare to hope
it's happening on the BP disaster?"

Whoa, babe.  Be still my heart.  There's just one problem (well, really,
more like six, but we don't have all day here) with this dribble that is
being passed off as analysis:  This behavioral pattern that gets Begala a
little, ahem, too excited, is actually a total disaster.  Both for the
country and for the president.  Begala looks on the healthcare initiative,
for example, as some great victory.  To my mind, it was an utter fiasco.
The legislation produced is anemic at best, and at its core exacerbates
the medicine-for-profit destructive system that we are currently foolish
enough to employ.  By stupidly negotiating with his antagonists, who then
shockingly unanimously failed to vote for his legislation, Obama was
rightly seen to have lost control of the process.  By failing to
articulate a moral vision, by declining to specify enemies to the
well-being of the American public, and by deferring to the cesspool that
is Congress to fill in the details, Obama also succeeded in winning a
legislative "victory" that has produced no political benefit for him or
his party, and probably considerable baggage instead.

If this is what Begala means by "saving the day", then I'll go ahead and
stick with having my days unsaved, thanks just the same.  He's right that
this is Obama's style, he's just wrong about its implications.  Obama did
the same thing with his stimulus bill and his Afghan war policy, as well
as less prominent issues like (not) pushing Israel towards peace or
advocating for the unemployed.  In every case, the substantive product is
pathetic, and the president and his party are further damaged in the
process.  Poll ratings for both have gone down precipitously in the last
year and a half, twenty points lower for the president, who came to office
on inauguration day with enough goodwill to launch a minor new religion.
His hang back, frosty-cool aloof, style of governing accounts for a
considerable chunk of this dissipated support.  Call me crazy, but that is
not a modus operandi to be emulated, as Democrats will surely learn in

It is, however, one that has also been applied to the oil hemorrhage in
the Gulf.  Here, I think someone like Begala must have a truly excellent
drug dealer in order to obtain the amazing hallucinogens he's obviously
been imbibing.  Even if Obama donned his superman briefs and cape
tomorrow, swam to the bottom of the Gulf, and tied the pipe into a knot,
in what sense would this constitute saving the day?  Eleven people are
dead, untold numbers of birds, fish and other critters are suffering and
dying, fishing and tourism industries have been hammered in four states,
and the economy is likely to plunge in a region still suffering from the
effects of the last president who couldn't be bothered.  Even assuming he
could shut the thing off right now, how out of it would you have to be to
consider that a victory?

A second problem with Obama's speech is that he just flat-out lies.  When
he tells us to "make no mistake, that were fighting this spill with
everything we've got", he neglects to mention that his administration has
been assisting BP in covering up the magnitude of the crisis, in blocking
press coverage, and in handling it whatever way the company wants.  The
United States federal government under Obama didn't even bother to prevent
BP from using highly toxic dispersant that is banned in BP's home country.
The administration just sort of asked them not to do it, whereupon BP
reminded them of who was really in charge, and then went out spewed the
damn poison.  Obama also lies about his own complicity in turning the
Minerals Management Service, the Interior Department, and the federal
government into agents of corporate plunder.  They knew what was going on
in MMS, and they didn't fix it.  Indeed, you don't appoint a guy like Ken
Salazar to the cabinet if you remotely intend for that garbage to be
fixed.  Obama also repeated his lie about the drilling moratorium in his
big speech this week, just as he lied about the known dangers of offshore
drilling a few months ago when he announced his new "Drill, baby, drill"
policy.  We know that, since the moratorium has been in place, his
administration has already issued at least seven new permits and dished
out at least five environmental waivers for more projects like the
Deepwater Horizon.  Moratorium?  Not even close.  Moribund?  Yeah, that's
more like it.

In his speech, Obama was brazen enough to say, "A few months ago, I
approved a proposal to consider new, limited offshore drilling under the
assurance that it would be absolutely safe - that the proper technology
would be in place and the necessary precautions would be taken.  That
obviously was not the case in the Deepwater Horizon rig, and I want to
know why".  It's hard to even know where to start with that construction,
so packed is it with dishonesty.  Apart from the most significant lie -
the fiction that he was duped - he doesn't tell us who lied to him or why.
He doesn't tell us why he didn't do sufficient due diligence as president
to know better, before risking our lives and livelihoods on private oil
profits taken from national resources.  He doesn't explain why, two months
after Deepwater Horizon blew up, he supposedly still hasn't by now
obtained an answer to his own question of why it happened.  He doesn't
tell us why he didn't clean up the government agencies charged with making
offshore drilling "absolutely safe" (don't even get me started on that
one), why he has been allowing drilling permits without required
environmental impact reports, and why he continues to issue new permits
even under his faux moratorium, and even though he doesn't yet know what
went wrong.  This is pathetic.  Like many a president before him, Obama
has been reduced to stacking lies upon lies to justify his policies and
hide his crimes and those of his sponsors.

And then he lectures us in this speech for our "lack of political courage
and candor"?!?!  Is that supposed to be funny?

This is a speech, third, that was just dripping in empty platitudes and
filled with Obama's recent and pathetic attempt to cowboy up and
demonstrate presidential machismo.  How is it possible that a presidential
speech in 2010 could still make use of the most shop-worn of rhetorical
devices in existence, the hoary "we-landed-a-man-on-the-moon-
so-we-can-do-this-too" assertion?  Man, was sick of hearaing that one And
just when you thought no president could look more idiotic than George W.
Bush trying to convince us (and especially himself) that he possessed a
courage that was instead so manifestly lacking, here comes Barack Obama to
"kick some ass".  Are there actually political strategists in the White
House - people who draw a salary paid by you and me - who believe that
this pathetic speech will rally the country to adopt a new energy policy
and change personal behaviors?  If so, I say give that money to charity
instead of paying for decision-making of this quality.  As with the
healthcare legislation or the stimulus bill, the president failed to
specify one particular policy that he demands Congress adopt, or one
particular behavior he expects members of the public to change.  He gave
us nothing to rally around, and did not ask us to rally around anything.
Nobody even knows what he would do if it were entirely up to him to do
what he wanted.

But what we do know, remarkably, is that President Deference will be
delighted to chat with anybody to consider their policy prescriptions, a
fourth set absurdities that emerge from the speech.  Somehow, Barack Obama
still believes that it's a good idea to negotiate with people who are
flat-out enemies of the public interest, and even announced enemies of his
presidency, including all forms of corporate marauders and a political
party that has overtly indicated its intention to oppose everything Obama
does, regardless.  So we have to listen to more mealy-mouthed,
knock-kneed, do-nothing, embarrassing tripe, like this blather from the
speech:  "So I am happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either
party - as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels.  Some
have suggested raising efficiency standards in our buildings like we did
in our cars and trucks.  Some believe we should set standards to ensure
that more of our electricity comes from wind and solar power.  Others
wonder why the energy industry only spends a fraction of what the
high-tech industry does on research and development - and want to rapidly
boost our investments in such research and development.  All of these
approaches have merit, and deserve a fear hearing in the months ahead".

Oh, please.  Is there any possibility you could just shut up and govern?
Any chance you could take your mandate and put it to work protecting the
public, while permitting the Republicans to fulfill the mandate they got
to go sit in Siberia for a while?  Any chance that you could for once not
bring predators to the negotiating table while leaving those who fight for
the public interest standing at the White House gate?  Any chance you
could do away with negotiating tables altogether, and just take some
serious actions to benefit the country - you know, like actually using the
powers of your office?

After all, it was you yourself who said:  "But the one approach I will not
accept is inaction. The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that
this challenge is too big and too difficult to meet. You see, the same
thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in
World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the
science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon".
And thus we see that in addition to his fifth problem - that a once great
orator has now been reduced, in his only Oval Office speech to date, to
the most tired of analogies - the truth is that great things happen in
America in significant measure because of gutsy leadership by presidents.
Neither of those words seems remotely in his vocabulary, however.  He
might want to try them out, though.  If it's not too late for him by now,
that is, having spent his political capital on ardently maintaining the
status quo.

Obama's speech the other night was abysmal for all of the five reasons
catalogued above, but it wasn't until he got to the end that I truly
wanted to hurl.  His sixth crime was unbelievably obnoxious.  It wasn't
enough to end his speech, as they all do, calling for god to bless
America.  Instead, Obama spent the last major chunk of his speech riffing
on the wonders of religious faith.  This included the bizarre concept (but
then, hey, it's religion) regarding even the limited nature of what we
expect from the magic deity:  "The blessing is not that God has promised
to remove all obstacles and dangers.  The blessing is that He is with us
always".  So, do I have this straight?  We're not asking god to make the
bad things go away, but instead just to experience them with us together?
Silently?  And invisibly?

Obama ends his great turn to the spiritual with these words:  "Tonight, we
pray for that courage.  We pray for the people of the Gulf.  And we pray
that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day".

So this is what it has come to now, huh?  A Democratic president, with all
the power of the presidency at his disposal, refusing to act, refusing to
be bold, refusing to lead, and now praying for the courage that he lacks,
and calling on us to pray to some unseen fantasy in the sky for a solution
to turn off this oily catastrophe in the Gulf?  (Why the deity turned it
on in the first place is, of course, not discussed.)

If I had to draw a portrait of the absolute depth of presidential
impotence, that would be it.  Hammered by adversaries, never punching
back, afraid to seek real solutions to major problems, slow to even speak,
and reliant upon the lamest of historical analogies to make a case before
a tuned-out nation.  And now, for the coup de grce, kneeling on the train
tracks, asking for Zeus or Ba'al or Jesus or some other mythical dude in
the clouds to come rescue us from our drought or pestilence or famine.

Christ, if we're down now to begging our deities for solutions to our
problems, what's the point of having a president anyhow?

We can be stupid and frightened pagans on our own.

We're actually quite good at it.

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra
University in New York.  He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to
his articles (dmg [at], but regrets that time
constraints do not always allow him to respond.  More of his work can be
found at his website,

--------15 of 15--------

 This is the first day
 of the rest of the Barack
 living disaster.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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