|Progressive Calendar 08.23.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2010 16:45:45 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 08.23.10 1. FCC Chairman/Mpls 8.24 10am 2. Alliant vigil 8.25 7am 3. Sibley Bike Depot 8.25 4:30pm 4. Amnesty Intl 8.25 6pm 5. Eagan peace vigil 8.26 4:30pm 6. Northtown vigil 8.26 5pm 7. AntiWarMN/newmem 8.26 7pm 8. Palestine vigil 8.27 4:15pm 9. Mark Morford - Thank god global warming is a hoax 10. Michael Smith - Obama wins No-Balls prize /Nobel regrets "tragic typo" 11. Dean Baker - Whacking the middle class 12. Paul Street - Robert Gibbs and the professional not-so left 13. James Petras - Brazil& Venezuela: 2 turning point elections this fall 14. ed - Bumpersticker --------1 of x-------- Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2010 12:34:20 -0500 (CDT) From: "Misty Perez Truedson, SavetheInternet.com" <info [at] freepress.net> Subject: FCC Chairman/Mpls 8.24 10am SavetheInternet.com Tell Chairman Genachowski: http://free.convio.net/site/R?i=GZHzDSyvr1BVg_Ho7G8rHQ.. Do Your Job. Save the Internet! http://free.convio.net/site/R?i=R9PuP6xc41L8r5DSHOFs0w.. Last week, 750 Minnesotans packed South High School to tell the FCC to do its job and protect the open Internet. Thousands more watched the event via the Web. Now we've just learned that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is speaking tomorrow at the University of Minnesota. The event is free and open to the public. Show up to tell FCC Chairman Genachowski: Do your job. Save the Internet. http://free.convio.net/site/R?i=3Qby2bRonLnwuEJrbc0d9g.. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar will be joining Genachowski at Tuesday's event. We need you there, too: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management 3M Auditorium 321 19th Ave South, Minneapolis MN 55455 Sen. Klobuchar has voiced her support for Net Neutrality in the past. Chairman Genachowski once pledged to preserve Net Neutrality. He has also proposed a "Third Way" to restore the FCC's power to protect consumers and promote universal access. But now he's reluctant to take the final step - bringing these issues to a final vote at the FCC. Genachowski needs to listen less to the big corporations behind closed doors in Washington and listen more to Internet users. He needs to hear from you. Show up Tuesday Morning. Urge Genachowski to Protect Net Neutrality. http://free.convio.net/site/R?i=Cc_FrNXNJTJr2x5niShdZg.. We have created a website where you can learn more about tomorrow's event, download fliers to distribute at the venue and invite others to come along. http://free.convio.net/site/R?i=XdAvhpZH7P13aGScn5W3lA.. Last week, Sen. Al Franken told a standing-room-only crowd that "Net Neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time." Minnesotans followed Franken's speech with hours of impassioned public testimony urging the FCC to oppose a scheme by big companies to carve up the Internet for themselves. We have amazing momentum, but unless the FCC gets involved right now, a few corporations will take over the Internet and stifle free speech online. It's that important. Please go to Tuesday's event and let Chairman Genachowski know that Minnesota supports Net Neutrality. Misty Perez Truedson Associate Outreach Director Free Press SavetheInternet.com --------2 of x-------- From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at] circlevision.org> Subject: Alliant vigil 8.25 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 --------3 of x-------- From: Jason Tanzman <jason.tanzman [at] gmail.com> Subject: Sibley Bike Depot 8.25 4:30pm Sibley Bike Depot invites you to a celebration introducing the *Community Partners Bike Library*. The program works to create safe cycling transportation opportunities through education and access to quality loaned bicycles (including helmets, locks, lights, and other transportation accessories) while creating strong, unique community partnerships. Please join us in supporting this new program that is already having a powerful positive impact increasing access to communities in need of transportation resources. The event will be from *4:30-6:00pm* this *Wednesday, August 25* at *Goodwill Easter Seals of Minnesota*, 553 Fairview Avenue North in St. Paul. A short program at* 5:30 *includes Ward 1 Councilmember Melvin Carter III, Bike Walk Twin Cities Director Joan Pasiuk, and Bike Library participants sharing their stories. Join us at 6pm as we ride over to Sibley Bike Depot for ice cream and tours of our community bike repair shop! -- Sibley Bike Depot 612-232-2737 (cell) 651-222-2080 (shop) www.sibleybikedepot.org Sibley Bike Depot's mission is to be an open, accessible space to educate and empower people to use bicycles as transportation, helping to build a sustainable environment and community. Volunteer with us to help build a bicycling movement in the Twin Cities! --------4 of x-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 8.25 6pm AIUSA Group 640 (Saint Paul) meets Wednesday, August 25th, at 6:00 p.m. Merriam Park Library, 1831 Marshall Ave, Saint Paul. --------5 of x-------- From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com> Subject: Eagan peace vigil 8.26 4:30pm PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south of the river speaking out against war. --------6 of x-------- From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 8.26 5pm NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. We'll have extra signs. For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com. --------7 of x-------- From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] gmail.com> Subject: AntiWarMN/newmem 8.26 7pm New Members Meeting Thursday, August 26th @ 7pm in the Anti-War Committee office (room 112c in the University Technology Center, 1313 5th Street SE, Dinkytown, Minneapolis Come to a meeting designed for new members. Help us organize our upcoming protest on 9/11th against the War on Terror. Get involved to stop the war on Afghanistan! Organized by the Anti-War Committee. --------8 of x-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine vigil 8.27 4:15pm The weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul. The Friday demo starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30. There are usually extra signs available. --------9 of x-------- Thank God Global Warming is a Hoax by Mark Morford Wednesday, August 18, 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Common Dreams I mean, right? You know? Because gosh Jesus in angry apocalyptic heaven, wouldn't it be just terrible if it were all true? Wouldn't it be horrible if all this stunning, insanely mounting, irrefutable evidence - death, floods, fires, heat waves, the worst this and the most violent that in 1,000 years - were some sort of surefire, cumulative sign that we have, if not directly caused, then wildly accelerated and amplified the imminent implosion of this planet? But we didn't! And we haven't! And we aren't! I mean, whew. I am delighted to remember that hardcore science has lied, misguided, misnomered and whatever else weird science does to confuse the world about the real impact humanity has had on global ecosystems. All those thousands of highly trained scientists educated at the finest universities, learning the most difficult and fraught information of our age, all in universal agreement that humankind's actions directly affect climate change, and they are all totally full of it because they are clearly in cahoots with Nazi Liberal Jesus, the solar panel manufacturers and the hippies who want me to compost my KFC Double Down wrapper. I am delighted to be reassured by the fringe right wing that the piles of dead bodies, millions of lost homes, and even the very sun itself are part of a vast conspiracy, a plot to form an evil one-world government, a lefty liberal charade even in places that don't understand or care what the hell a liberal is. See? Do you understand how powerful the lie? Amazing. Because otherwise, wow, what sort of hell is this? Pakistan, Russia, China, Greenland, Niger and on and on it goes. Unprecedented heat waves, scorched crops, giant icebergs, savage droughts, dire emergencies, thousands dead here and 10,000 more over there and nothing like these events in the history of the world, ever. Even the U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon, is in on it, coming back from Pakistan stunned and shaken by the epic flooding he witnessed there. "The magnitude of the problem; the world has never seen such a disaster. It's much beyond anybody's imagination," he said, putting out the urgent call for more international aid. I mean, sure global warming is happening - even some of the more ignorant climate change deniers have had to reverse course on that - but humanity had nothing to do with it, OK? We don't need to change our behavior one iota. If God wants another Ice Age or whatever, who are we to argue? Heathen book-learners and their ridiculous studies, that's who! Scientists are saying that all these severe weather patterns fit in exactly with what they've been predicting all along. Not only that, but they say it's increasingly likely that we've waited too long to change our behaviors, cut emissions, reduce consumption and other such liberal gibberish, and now it might be too late to do anything about it. Increasingly extreme, violent weather will now be the norm, and the devastation, disease and death will only increase. Good news! If I blink a few times while clicking the mouse, it all goes away. Hey look, Lindsay Lohan's mom is all up in it! Snooki is so wasted! All is as it should be. Thank you, Interweb. But dammit, their godless eco-agenda just won't stop. 2010, they say, is not being very nice, is setting all sorts of unpleasant records. Already, the most national extreme heat records in a single year (17). Already, the hottest half-year on record in planetary history. Already, the five warmest months in tropical Atlantic history, possibly resulting in more hurricanes. Already, millions of people sensing, deep down, that Something Is Very Wrong Indeed. Good thing their calmly intuitive souls are full of crap. I mean, please. Isn't it like this every year? Always with the floods and fires. Always with the hurricanes, earthquakes and numbing body counts. Is this year, this decade really that different? I'm sorry, I can't hear you, I just turned up this Glenn Beck podcast. Here is your big lesson: Do not listen to people who actually know things. Only listen to people who react, negatively and whiningly, to people who actually know things. It's the American way. Have you seen the photos from the Gulf of Mexico, all shiny and clear thanks to toxic chemical dispersants, the miracle of ocean currents and armies of PR people who smell like hate? What happened to all the oil? It's all gone, even though it's really not! Absorbed into the planetary bloodstream like magic! Even the president is there, splashing around in waters that, not a month ago, had hundreds of million of gallons of crude oil and chemicals floating in it. Just more proof that God's favorite creatures can cause no lasting harm. We're innocent as pie. And guns. And Corexit 9500. I'm dumping some used motor oil into this city sewer right now, in celebration. I just read the flooding in Pakistan has already caused more devastation than the 2004 tsunami in Asia, worse than the Haiti earthquake. One quarter of the country is underwater. They say Pakistan also just broke a record for the single highest temperature ever recorded on the Asian continent, at 128 degrees (16 other nations also met or broke heat records this year, too). That record was set in a city. Where people live. But not for very much longer, because they do not have giant air conditioners and pallets of Fiji water from Costco like we do, so they probably won't survive. Yes, it's tragic. It's unprecedented. It's never happened like this before. Heck, even here in the eco-terrorist homeland of San Francisco, they say the change in ocean temperatures will soon mean Fog City will be entirely fog bound, edge to edge, nearly year round. But I repeat: It's not our fault. Seven billion rapacious, industrialized bipeds have the impact of a feather. All this destruction and death? It's just God's will - except for those places that don't believe in a Christian God. Serves them right, doesn't it? By the way, there's an obvious solution to many of these horrors - to the Russian heat waves, the violent droughts in Niger, the dead bodies floating in Pakistan, the floods in China: Do not go there. Do not go to these terrible, hot, messy places. It's so easy! I mean, so what if giant icebergs four times the size of Manhattan are suddenly breaking off in Greenland? That's happening way, way up there. I'm overconsuming energy and blocking out inconvenient truths way, way down here. There is no cause/effect, no connection whatsoever, never mind that dark, nagging sense of self-wrought doom, deep in my bones. I know that's just a liberal lie, an implant, completely futile - just like those failed climate talks in Copenhagen, and the soon-to-be-failed ones coming up shortly in Mexico. I mean, whew. 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Mark Morford's new book, 'The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism,' is now available at daringspectacle.com, Amazon, BN.com, and beyond. Join Mark on Facebook and Twitter, or email him. His website is markmorford.com. Mark's column appears every Wednesday on SFGate. --------10 of x-------- Obama Wins No-Balls Prize Nobel Committee Regrets "Tragic Typo" That Mistakenly Awarded U.S. President 2009 Peace Prize by Michael K. Smith August 20th, 2010 Legalienation News, Oslo Dissidetn Voice In a dramatic announcement that drew gasps of pleasure and cries of "it's about time," President Barack Obama today won the "No-Balls" Prize for "spinelessness above and beyond the call of duty," while retroactively losing the 2009 Nobel Peace prize, which the awards Committee confessed had been mistakenly granted due to a "tragic typographical error". The five-member Norwegian delegation explained that it had never intended to award Obama the Nobel prize, ironically named after Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, but rather, the "No-Balls" prize, named after Nobel's brother-in-law Alfred Noballs, inventor of the white flag. "President Obama's unparalleled record of evasions, cave-ins, and sell-outs is truly awesome," said Committee-member Erik Wahl. "We have never seen a more immense consistency of cowardice". Obama won handily over second-place finisher Morris "Yellow Belly" Butler, who stole money from orphans and spent it on liquor and prostitutes. Gracefully conceding defeat, Butler pronounced Obama "a champion invertebrate with few peers and no superiors". Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa reacted with unrestrained delight: "From throwing Reverend Wright under the bus to increasing the slaughter of innocents with pilotless drone attacks, Obama has proven himself a great mass of cowardly energy time and again," he said. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi in Afghanistan also applauded the Nobel committee's decision, confirming that Obama was responsible for escalating war and had "the blood of countless innocents on his hands". Few can doubt that this is the stuff of which "No Balls" winners are made. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said,"It's difficult to think of a more deserving recipient than a man who sustains simultaneous wars against defenseless populations in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan". Orlando Sosa, a recent addition to the Nobel Committee, said the selection was intended to honor not just Obama's swan dive into the lap of Big Business, but also his incredibly multi-faceted cowardice, including: (1) peerless command of euphemism and double-think; (2) outstanding capacity to orate for hours without saying a thing; (3) artful evasion of every moral point; (4) proven ability to see nuance where none exists; (5) a capacity to cave-in faster than an avalanche. Obama conceded he was "deeply humbled" by the honor, and launched a cruise missile attack on Yemen to celebrate. The No-Balls Laureate promised to "stay the course" in Afghanistan, where he has killed more U.S. troops in 19 months than George W. Bush did in 7 years, and accelerate his extraordinary achievements in torture, environmental catastrophe, bankster bailouts, HMO fascism, and imperial wars from Colombia to Palestine. As a gesture of good will, he pledged the $2 million cash award that comes with his prize to a deserving death squad that preys on children. Michael K. Smith is the author of The Madness of King George from Common Courage Press. He co-blogs with Frank Scott at www.legalienate.blogspot.com. --------11 of x-------- When Wall Street Rules, We Get Wall Street Rules Whacking the Middle Class By DEAN BAKER CounterPunch August 20 - 22, 2010 The middle class is getting whacked by the Great Recession. Fifteen million people are out of work, another 9 million workers can only find part-time jobs, and millions more have given up looking for work altogether. Those lucky enough to be employed are unlikely to see any substantial wage gains for years to come. Millions of homeowners are facing the loss of their home and more than 10 million are underwater in their mortgage. Most of the huge baby boom cohort is approaching retirement with little other than Social Security to support them, now that the collapse of the housing bubble has destroyed their home equity and much of the rest of their savings. This pain is infuriating for two reasons. First, this was an entirely preventable disaster. The housing bubble was easy to see. Competent economists had long warned of its dangers. The second reason why the current situation is infuriating is that we know how to get the economy out of this mess. We just need to boost demand. This can be done either with much more government stimulus, more aggressive monetary policy from the Fed, or pushing the dollar down to boost exports. If this disaster were preventable and we knew how to get out of it, why didn't our leaders try to stop it before it happened? Why don't they take the steps necessary now to get the economy moving again? The answer to both these questions is simple: The politicians work for someone else. On Election Day, the politicians might need our votes, but they won't get to be serious contenders unless they've gotten the campaign contributions of the big money crew. And the moneyed elite [=ruling class -ed] has been using its control of the political process to ensure that an ever larger share of the economy's output is redistributed upward in their direction. [And Obama and the Dems are helping them as fast as their little legs will carry them. -ed] The reason that there was little interest in cracking down on the housing bubble is that Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and the rest were making a fortune from the financial shenanigans that fueled the bubble. Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin personally pocketed over $100 million from this fun. Why would they want the government to rein it in? Of course, when the bubble did finally blow and threaten their banks with bankruptcy, the Wall Street crew just ran to the government for help. And they got trillions of dollars in loans and loan guarantees to ensure that they would not be victims of the crisis they had created. Now that they are back on their feet, with Wall Street profits and bonuses both again at near record levels, they see little reason to concern themselves with the measures that might set the economy right for the rest of us. After all, the steps necessary to revitalize the economy could mean some inflation. This would reduce the value of the debt owned by the wealthy. And the wealthy don't see any reason that they should risk any of their wealth just for the good of the economy. We have enormous ground to cover to restore an economy that works for the vast majority, but the first step is to know where we are. The upward redistribution of the last three decades has nothing to do with the market and a belief in "market fundamentalism." This is about a process where the rich and powerful have rewritten the rules to make themselves richer and more powerful. For example, they wrote trade rules that were designed to put downward pressure on the wages of the bulk of the U.S. workforce by placing manufacturing workers in direct competition with low-paid workers in China and other developing countries. This had nothing to do with a belief in "free trade." They did not try to subject lawyers, doctors or other highly paid workers to the same sort of international competition. They only wanted international competition to put downward pressure on the wages of workers in the middle and bottom, not those at the top. This elite has instituted a system of corporate governance that allows top executives to pilfer companies at the expense of their shareholders and its workers. Top executives are overseen only by a board of directors who owe their hugely overpaid sinecures to the executives they supervise. And of course the Wall Street barons themselves are given a license to gamble with the implicit promise that government picks up their tab when they lose. No progressive movement will make any progress until we understand the battle we are fighting. Our income is a cost to the rich. They will look to cut it wherever they can, whether this is wages for private sector workers, pensions for public employees, or Social Security for retirees. That is their target. [They are, pure and simple, filthy bastards deserving no respect or deference, but rather open vocal gestural rejection. -ed] We have to fight back using the same logic. Their income is our cost -- the multimillion dollar bonuses for the Wall Street wizards is a direct drain on the economy. So are the bloated paychecks of top executives and their lackey boards. Progressives must be prepared to use all the same tactics to bring down the income of the rich and powerful that they have used to reduce the income of everyone else. This means restructuring the rules of corporate governance to put serious downward pressure on the pay of top executives. The highest paid workers (doctors, lawyers, and economists) must be subjected to international competition in the same way as manufacturing workers have been subjected to international competition. And, we should sharply limit the extent of the patent or copyright protections that are exploited by the drug industry and the entertainment and software industries. We have to put the focus on the ways the rich have rigged the rules and place this at the center of political debate. The three decade-long battle over tax cuts for the rich is important, but at the end of the day it is a side show. If we let them steal all the money at the onset, it really doesn't make much difference if they end up letting us tax a little of it back. Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He is the author of Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy and False Profits: Recoverying From the Bubble Economy. --------12 of x-------- Robert Gibbs and the Professional Not-So Left By Paul Street Thursday, August 19, 2010 ZSpace DRUG TESTREFLECTIONS Recently White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs's railed against what he called "the professional left". "I hear these people saying [Obama is] like George Bush. Those people," Gibbs pouted, "ought to be drug tested". In his petulant little self-pitying rant, Gibbs dismissed the so-called professional left in terms similar to those of a Sean Hannity or a Rush Limbaugh, saying that "They will [only] be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we've eliminated the Pentagon". Of those liberals who complain - I would say observe - that Obama has caved to the right and corporate interests on healthcare, financial reform, carbon emissions, gay marriage, the Employee Free Choice Act and much more, Gibbs said, "They wouldn't be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president". Just for the record, I'm not a big Kucinich fan. If I was the in-power Leon Trotsky, the prophet re-armed of 21st century America, I would not dismantle the entire Pentagon. I'd keep at least half the budget for promotion of radical democratic revolution at home and abroad. Those seven Columbian military bases Obama got last year would be put to work advancing land redistribution, collective ownership and workers' control. Still, I do share with most Americans a longstanding preference for Canadian style single payer health insurance "Improved Medicare for All" And my new book The Empire's New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power records numerous key policy parallels and continuities between the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Indeed, the original title of this book was going to be "The Re-Branding" and I seriously considered a cover photo showing Bush and Obama's faces eerily merged. So yes, maybe I should be watching for the knock on my door and the DEA officials to give me a plastic cup and a two hour deadline to fill it under the supervision of Robert Gibbs. At the same time, I would like propose a different sort of drug test. Let's call it the "ObamaLaid" (Glen Ford's term) test. This test would be for all "those [supposedly left-liberal] people" who oppose criminal wiretappings, immoral and illegal wars, plutocratic bankers' bailouts and other vile policies when they are implemented in the name of a white Republican moron from West Texas but who become strangely silent when those same policies are enacted by people working beneath the picture of an eloquent black Democrat from Chicago. As Cindy Sheehan noted last year, thinking of all the liberals she could no longer interest in opposing Washington's imperial policies, "Wars that were wrong under Bush become acceptable under Obama". She could have made much the same point in relation to numerous Orwellian police state policies, to bankers' bailouts, to U.S. enablement of criminal right wing coups in Latin America, and to much more that is documented at length in my new book. It must be drugs. Just what authoritarian, democracy-disabling narcotic is it that makes you capable of hating terrible policies only if they are being carried out by one brand of politician and incapable of doing the same when the same policies - or much the same, slightly modulated - are conducted by a different brand of politician beholden to the same dominant social hierarchies and doctrines as the one you don't like? A progressive mind is a terrible thing to waste on partisan and identity-based politics. "Like Bush's America," the great radical writer and filmmaker John Pilger noted last year, "Obama's America is run by some very dangerous people". Thanks to the re-branding that has come with the ascendancy of an attractive, young, fresh, smiling, black (but not like Jesse) president with a technically Muslim name, this harsh reality has gotten dangerously cloaked and hidden in the minds of many. Fake-progressive ObamaLaid is a powerful drug and a great reminder that race, as well as gender and even class are potent and seductive tools of propaganda. THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION FEELING SORRY FOR ITSELF Robert Gibbs' attack on the "professional" left was, as the wonderful left-liberal writer Glenn Greenwald noted, "one of the most petulant, self-pitying outbursts from a top official in recorded memory, half derived from a Sean Hannity rant". It was monumentally insulting to the millions of Americans who are struggling to keep their heads above water as the other capitalist party in power, the corporate Democrats, fail to provide anything close to adequate relief to those caught on the deepening wrong side of the profits system. I'm not always the biggest fan of Bob Herbert, the liberal New York Times columnist but last Saturday Herbert penned a richly deserved and memorable smack down of Gibbs and the White House. "The Obama administration seems to be feeling sorry for itself," Herbert noted. "Robert Gibbs, the president's press secretary, is perturbed that Mr. Obama is not getting more hosannas from liberals". Further: "Spare me. The country is a mess. The economy is horrendous, and millions of American families are running out of ammunition in their fight against destitution. Steadily increasing numbers of middle-class families, who never thought they'd be seeking charity, have been showing up at food pantries...schools are hemorrhaging resources because of budget meltdowns, and teachers are losing jobs, and libraries are finding it more and more difficult to remain open, American youngsters are falling further behind their peers in other developed countries in their graduation rates from colleges and universities.. "This would be a good time for the Obama crowd to put aside its concern about the absence of giddiness among liberals and re-examine what it might do to improve what is fast becoming a depressing state of affairs". Exactly right. It was disturbing to hear the administration whining about "left" criticism as more and more American families and children slip into deep poverty and as the White House and the Democrats, fail to provide anything close to adequate relief to those caught on the deepening wrong side of the profits system PROFESSIONAL NOT-SO LEFT There's another and equally disturbing question here. Who is the "professional left" that Gibbs claims to loathe and which he and others in the corporate-neoliberal and militarist Obama administration periodically take shots at as part of the triangulation agenda they inherited from the Clintons? As David Sirota recently observed on Huffington Post, "The [real] fact is that much of the 'American Left' is organized around the Democratic Party and specifically around Obama. The professional Left," Sirota says and I agree, "are all the major, well-funded liberal interest groups (what Jane Hamsher sometimes refers to as 'the veal pen') and [those groups, Sirota correctly notes] have repeatedly shown themselves to be more loyal to the Democratic Party and Obama than to their alleged policy/ideological missions. That kind of Left," Sirota adds, "is not built like successful social movements of the past". It "doesn't," Sirota adds, "have the structure, independence or stomach for oppositional politics" or even for telling and perceiving basic truths about the new administration. Look, for example, at the no-so left-liberal weekly magazine The Nation, whose Publisher and Editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel actually said the following last November: "Whatever one thinks of Obama's policy on any specific issue," Vanden Heuvel proclaimed in The Nation, "he is clearly a reform president committed to improvement of peoples' lives and the renewal and reconstruction of America. Progressives," Vanden Heuvel announced, "should focus less on the limits of the Obama agenda and more on the possibilities that his presidency opens up". This was a fascinating comment more than 10 months into an administration that had already set new corporate welfare records, and administration that had approved an auto-restructuring plan that rewarded capital flight, a "new" White House that had already made clear its determination to pass a health ill that only insurance and drug companies could love, that had already revealed its determination to undermine serious global carbon emission reduction efforts at Copenhagen, that had already showed it would not pursue major green jobs public works programs even as unemployment reached new post-WWII record levels, and that it would not pursue the labor law and global trade reforms Obama had eloquently promised to working class audiences in 2007 and 2008. Talk about the veal pen. There are many other examples. Look at left icon Michael Moore, who developed an epic liberal man crush on Obama in 2007 and 2008 and much of 2009. Last December Moore admonished leftists for raining on the president's big Nobel Peace Prize day by having the audacity to note that the prize winner was a war president - this as civilian survivors from Obama's escalated South Asian war told harrowing tales of children and wedding parties blown to pieces by the not-so antiwar president.s predator drones, bombs, and attack helicopters For me and others on the actual left, the so-called hard left - not even on Gibbs' radar screen - it has been hard to hear reflexive liberal defense granted to a president who has behaved so clearly in accord with the dollar-marked approval that corporate lobbyists and election investors had granted him since he was first carefully vetted on and around K Street and Wall Street in 2002 and 2003. As one Washington lobbyist told left journalist Ken Silverstein in 2006: "big donors would not be helping out Obama if they didn't see him as a 'player'". The lobbyist added: "What's the dollar value of a starry-eyed idealist?" The moneyed elite could see basic things that much of our so-called professional left could or would not. Of course, big money capitalists and political investors have strong material reasons to be grounded in reality when it comes to who holds office and who doesn't. The calculations are different for some on what passes for a left. Paul Street (paulstreet99 [at] yahoo.com) will speak at the Wooden Shoe Bookstore at 704 South Street in Philadelphia, PA on Tuesday, August 17th at 7PM and at Bluestockings Bookstore, a Worker-Owned Bookstore, Fair-Trade Caf, Activist Center at 172 Allen Street m NYC, NY (in the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and Wednesday, August 18 at 7 PM For future dates in Springfield, New Jersey and Boston, see www.paulstreet.org --------13 of x-------- Brazil and Venezuela: Two Turning Point Elections this Fall by James Petras August 20th, 2010 Dissident Voice Two elections in Latin America this fall will have decisive importance in the direction of economic and foreign policy for the coming decade. Venezuelan legislative elections on September 26 will determine whether President Chavez can secure the two-thirds majority needed to proceed with his democratic socialist agenda without the procedural obstructionism of an increasingly hardline Right. Brazil the most powerful and dynamic industrial and agro-export economy in the region, faces Presidential elections on October 3rd. In both countries, the electorate is highly polarized, though in Brazil not along a socialist-capitalist axis. In Venezuela the Rightwing is aiming to block the further advance of public ownership of strategic industries, foment destabilization by encouraging non-compliance or sabotage of local community based policy initiatives and to impose constraints on budgetary expenditures for social programs and public investments. The strategic aim of the Right is to enhance institutional penetration by US military, intelligence and "aid" agencies, in order to weaken President Chavez's independent foreign policy initiatives and pressure his government to make concessions to the White House, especially by dampening his support for Iran, Palestine and most important the independent Latin American political-economic formations that exclude Washington (MERCOSUR, ALBA, UNASUR). Presidential Elections: Brazil In Brazil, the Presidential elections pit the Workers Party candidate Dilma Rousseff backed by outgoing President Lula Da Silva against the former governor of Sao Paulo State and standard bearer of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party Jose Serra. The party labels are irrelevant, as both candidates have pursued and are proposing to continue free trade, export-led, agro-mineral development policies and both draw financial backing from business and banking elites. Despite their ties to the business elites and eschewing any radical (or even moderate) changes in Brazil's highly unequal income distribution and land tenure system, there are crucial differences which will affect: (1) the balance of power in the hemisphere; (2) the capacity of Brazilian social movements to freely articulate their demands; (3) the future of center-left regimes in neighboring countries (especially Bolivia, Venezuela and Argentina); (4) and the public-private joint ventures in the massive newly discovered offshore oil fields. Serra will shift Brazil's foreign policy toward greater accommodation with the US, lessening or breaking ties with Iran and reducing or even cancelling joint investment programs with Venezuela and Bolivia. However, Serra will not change foreign trade and investment policies with regard to Asia. Serra will continue Lula's free trade policies, looking to diversify markets (except where the US defines geo-political "threats" or military interests), promoting agro-business and mineral-energy exports. He will continue Lula's policy of budget surpluses and tight fiscal and income policies. Serra's social policies will likely deepen and expand Lula's cuts in public pensions and follow his policy of wage constraints, while reducing public spending especially for education, health and poverty programs. In the crucial area of the exploitation of the new massive oil and gas fields, Serra will downgrade the role of the state (and its share of revenues, profits and ownership) for private foreign oil companies. Serra is less likely to co-opt trade union leaders and resort to greater reliance on "legal" repression of strikes and greater criminalization of rural social movements, especially of the land occupations of the Rural Landless Movement (MST). Diplomatically Serra will move closer to the US and its militarist policies, without overt support for direct military intervention. An indication of Serra's embrace of Washington's agenda was his calling Bolivia's reform government a "narco-state" echoing Hilary Clinton's rhetoric, in contrast to the friendly ties between the two countries under Lula. No doubt, Serra will reject any independent diplomatic initiatives which conflict with US military ambitions. Rousseff's campaign essentially promises a continuation of Lula's economic and diplomatic policies, including majority public ownership of the new oil and gas fields, the promotion of poverty programs and a margin of tolerance - though not backing - for social movements like the MST and the trade unions. In other words the choice is between a step backward toward the repressive, conformist, policies of the 1990's, or the status quo of free markets, an independent foreign policy, poverty programs and greater Latin American integration. If Serra wins, the balance of power in Latin America will shift toward the Right and with it, a re-assertion of US influence and leverage on all of Brazil's center-left neighbors. Serra will largely follow Lula's footsteps in domestic policy, administering poverty programs via his functionaries while ensuring that Lula's social movement supports are weakened. With these limited options, the major business associations of Sao Paulo are backing Serra (with individual business people contributing to both candidates) while the major trade unions are in Rousseff's camp; the social movements like the MST who feel betrayed by Lula's broken promise of land reform are campaigning "against Serra" - indirectly supporting Rousseff. The saying "which way goes Brazil goes Latin America" has more than a grain of truth especially if we are discussing Latin America's economic future and prospects for deeper integration. Legislative Elections: Venezuela Venezuela under Chavez is the key to prospects for progressive social change in Latin America. The democratic socialist government backs reform regimes in Latin America and the Caribbean and through its public spending has established path breaking gains in health, education and food subsidies for 60% of the poorest sectors of the population. Despite Chavez immense popularity over the decade and the innovative redistributive programs and progressive structural changes, there is a clear and imminent danger that the Right will make significant gains in the forthcoming legislative elections. The United Venezuela Socialist Party (PSUV) led by President Chavez, has to its credit six years of high growth, rising incomes and declining unemployment. Against that is the current 18 month recession, high inflation and crime with budgetary constraints limiting new programs. According to official US aid agency documents, Washington has poured over $50 million dollars into the coffers of opposition controlled NGO's and political "fronts" which promote US interests in the run up to the elections, focusing on unifying the squabbling opposition factions, subsidizing the 70% private mass media and financing opposition controlled community groups in middle and lower class neighborhoods. Unlike the US, Venezuela does not require recipients of overseas funds acting on behalf of a foreign power to register as foreign agents. The Rightwing campaign focuses on government corruption and drug trafficking, a line echoed by the White House and the New York Times, forgetting to mention that Venezuela's Attorney General announced the prosecution of 2,700 cases of individual corruption and 17,000 cases of drug trafficking. The opposition and the Washington Post cite the case of the state distribution system (PDVAL) failing to deliver several thousand tons of food, causing it to rot and go to waste but they failed to mention that the three former directors are in jail and that the food ministry provides one-third of staple food consumption in the country at prices up to one-half lower than the private supermarkets. The Right will undoubtedly make significant gains in the legislative elections, simply because they start from a low base point, ground zero, since they boycotted the last elections. Their anti-corruption campaign is not likely to overwhelm Chavez's majoritarian constituency, since their previous standard bearer, ex President Carlos Andres Perez was convicted of multi-million dollar fraud and pillage of the public treasury. Local opposition governors and majors have also been indicted for fraud and malfeasance of funds and are holed up in Miami. Nevertheless, while Chavez is perceived by most voters as honest and untainted, the same cannot be said for some of the incumbents running for office. The question is whether the voters will re-elect them despite their record in order to back Chavez or whether they will abstain. Abstention based on disenchantment and not a switch to the Right, is the greatest threat to a decisive PSUV victory. In the run-up to the legislative elections the PSUV ran primaries in which many community councils elected popular local candidates against those chosen by the official establishment. It will be revealing to see if the candidates from the grass roots perform better than those selected from the "top". A victory of the former will strengthen the socialist as opposed to the moderate sectors of the PSUV. The electoral process is highly polarized along class lines; with the majority of the lower class backing the PSUV and the middle and upper class almost uniformly supporting the Right. Nevertheless, there is a significant sector of the poor and trade unions which is undecided and not motivated to vote. They can decide the outcome in crucial voting districts and that is where campaigning is fierce. Key to a PSUV electoral victory is whether the trade unions, the worker managed factory committees and communal councils will make a major effort to turn out reticent voters and elect leftist candidates. Even militant trade unionists and worker based management groups have been notoriously focused on "local" and "economistic" (wage issues) overlooking or ignoring the larger political issues. Their vote and activity as opinion leaders in pointing out the "big picture" is crucial to overcoming political inertia and even their disenchantment with some of PSUV candidates. Conclusion The coming elections in Brazil and Venezuela will have a decisive impact on Latin American politics, economic policy and relations with the US throughout the second decade of this century. If Brazil "goes Right", it will immeasurably strengthen US influence in the region, and eliminate an independent voice. Even as neither candidate will put a foot forward toward greater social justice, the election of Lula's preferred candidate Dilma Rousseff will proceed toward greater Latin American integration and a relatively independent foreign economic policy. Her election will not open the door to any consequential structural changes. A victory for the Venezuelan Socialists will strengthen Chavez's resolve and ability to continue his social welfare polices and his anti-imperialist and pro-integration policies. Chavez's strong stance in opposing US militarization, including the coup in Honduras and the military bases in Colombia, embolden center-left regimes to adopt a somewhat more moderate but principled position opposing militarization. Chavez's socialist reforms in Venezuela serve as a pressure on center-left regimes to legislate social reforms, promote poverty programs and joint ventures, instead of following the neo-liberal policies of the pro-US hard Right. In Brazil the question is voting for the lesser evil, in Venezuela it is a question of voting for the greater good. 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] binghamton.edu. --------14 of x-------- ----------------------------- Urine-test the ruling class ----------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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 for governor 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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