Progressive Calendar 08.23.10
From: David Shove (
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

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Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2010 12:34:20 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Misty Perez Truedson," <info [at]>
Subject: FCC Chairman/Mpls 8.24 10am
Tell Chairman Genachowski:

Do Your Job.
Save the Internet!

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

Show up to tell FCC Chairman Genachowski:
Do your job. Save the Internet.

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.

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

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

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

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From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at]>
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:

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From: Jason Tanzman <jason.tanzman [at]>
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)
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!

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From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
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.

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From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
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.

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From: EKalamboki [at]
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]

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From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
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.

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From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
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

--------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

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

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, Amazon,, and
beyond. Join Mark on Facebook and Twitter, or email him. His website is Mark's column appears every Wednesday on SFGate.

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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

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

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When Wall Street Rules, We Get Wall Street Rules
Whacking the Middle Class
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

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

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

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Robert Gibbs and the Professional Not-So Left
By Paul Street
Thursday, August 19, 2010

                     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.


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

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

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

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] 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

--------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.


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]

--------14 of x--------

                          Urine-test the ruling class


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   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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