Progressive Calendar 08.26.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 2010 16:59:14 -0700 (PDT)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   08.26.10

1. DNC march/Mpls    8.27 12noon
2. Palestine vigil   8.27 4:15pm
3. Cavlan campaign   8.27 6:30pm

4. Raingardens       8.28 8:30am
5. Peace walk        8.28 9am Cambridge MN
6. CUAPB             8.28 1:30pm
7. Eco-fair          8.28 1:30pm
8. Northtown vigil   8.28 2pm
9. Palestine         8.28 4pm

10. Stillwater vigil 8.29 1pm
11. Planet dinner    8.29 6:30pm

12. Sam Wellington - Mutant chickens in the modern age
13. Amy Goodman    - Rotten eggs and our broken democracy
14. Dean Baker     - The odious Alan Simpson
15. Dave Lindorff  - Fighting words on Social Security
16. Denis Rancourt - Conflict-ducking versus liberation
17. ed             - Bumpersticker

--------1 of 17--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
Subject: DNC march/Mpls 8.27 12noon

Minneapolis denies permits for anti-war march at Democratic National

Response from peace and justice movement at Friday press conference: 12
noon, Friday, August 27, in front of the Minneapolis City Hall.

The agency designated with the authority to issue parade permits in
Minneapolis, the Public Works Department has turned down an application
from the Anti-War Committee for a mass march and rally on the opening day
of the proposed Democratic National Convention.

Officials responsible for making the decision to turn down the application
for the anti war march have not even bothered to put forward coherent
reasons that are consistent with the law. An official told us that it was
too soon to submit an application. City law does not establish any dates
that are "too early" - in fact the ordinance says "parade permit
applications should be filed as soon as possible in advance of the parade
or event."

City officials say another reason for rejecting our permit application is
because they will not approve any parade permits for a date that is not on
a weekend or holiday. Leaving aside the fact that this restriction in it
of itself probably unconstitutional, we are demanding the permit for
September 3, Labor Day, 2012 - a legal holiday in Minneapolis.

"It's clear City officials just do not want to see a major anti war
march that coincides with the opening day of the Democratic National
Convention. We have a right to protest and if the DNC is held here we will
to exactly that on September 3, 2012," states Meredith Aby, of the Anti
War Committee.

"We want permits to have the largest possible march, that said we have a
right to protest and the City of Minneapolis needs to understand that we
will march to the site of the DNC with or without a permit. Under the
slogan 'Money for Human Needs, Not for War,' we will take thousands of
protestors to the Metrodome if the DNC is held here," states Deb Konechne
of the Welfare Rights Committee.

Many of the organizations that organized the massive anti-war protests at
the Republican National Convention in 2008 are joining this effort
including the Anti-War Committee, Women Against Military Madness, the
Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Coalition, the Welfare Rights Committee
and others.

-- Meredith Aby

[Typical. StPaul did the same thing re the 2008 RNC there. Delayed, then
denied, then lied, then set up a police state. Odds are Mpls & Rybak & the
DFL city council & Chief Dolan have exactly the same scenario in mind, but
will lie about it before, during, and after - just like StPaul. The best
thing is to make it so that the DNC does not want to come here - we don't
need another police state and more military spy gear left in Mpls the way
it was in StPaul. -ed]

--------2 of 17--------

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

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

this is just a note to let you know that the weekly vigil to free
Palestine continues this week; however, to take advantage of state fair
traffic, we will be meeting at the corner of Snelling and UNIVERSITY
aves... near the CVS.

--------3 of 17--------

From: Dan Donnelly <d-donn [at]>
Subject: Cavlan campaign 8.27 6:30pm

The Michael Cavlan campaign committee and supporters will meet this
Friday, August 27 at 6:30 pm, at the Blue Moon Coffee Cafe on East Lake
St. in south Minneapolis. Please join us there for our weekly meeting, and
a special forum.

I hope you can make it. If you can't, remember you can always stay in
touch with the Campaign on Facebook
or follow us on Twitter @Cavalan2010.

--------4 of 17--------

From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at]>
Subject: Raingardens 8.28 8:30am


Join Metro Blooms and our project partners on August 28 to celebrate the
Powderhorn Lake Neighborhood of Raingardens project and to install our
last set or raingardens.

By the end of August, Metro Blooms will install more than 100 raingardens
in the Powderhorn Park and Central Neighborhoods.  Over the next three
years, project partners will study the impact these raingardens can have
on water quality on Powderhorn Lake.  To our knowledge, this is the first
study of its kind in North America.  We intend to demonstrate that
neighbors, working together, can have a real impact on protecting their
water resources.

Saturday, August 28, 8:30 am - 2pm
Register in advance

8:30 am Participants sign in and have coffee.
9:00 am Divide into groups and begin planting
12 Noon Reconvene for a potluck lunch
1:00 pm Walking Tours begin

Volunteers at the event will receive gardening gloves.  Project
participants (people
with raingardens in the project) will also receive Metro Blooms t-shirts.

Volunteers will split into groups to install plants in approximately
20 raingardens.  The group will reconvene for a potluck lunch at Noon.
 At 1pm, Metro Blooms staff will lead walking tours of raingardens
installed as part of the project over the past three months.

Mount Olive Lutheran Church
3045 Chicago Avenue South

All are welcome, but please register for the event by calling
651-699-2426 or e-mail corrie [at]

--------5 of 17---------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 8.28 9am Cambridge MN

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

--------6 of 17--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: CUAPB 8.28 1:30pm

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

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

--------7 of 17x--------

From: Bonnie Peace Watkins <bonnie [at]>
Subject: Eco-fair 8.28 1:30pm

August 28:  Sister of St Joseph presents the Great Green Gathering, a fun
and interactive eco-fair with exhibitors, speakers, garden tours, taste
tests, and children's natural craft activities.  1:30-4PM at the
Carondelet Center and Grounds, 1890 Randolph Ave, St. Paul.

--------8 of 17--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 8.28 2pm

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

--------9 of 17--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Palestine 8.28 4pm

Minnesota Break the Bonds Community Dinner
Saturday, August 28, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. 3104 45th Avenue South,

Join others for an afternoon of food, fun, getting to know Minnesota Break
the Bonds Campaign (MN BBC), and pitching in funds to help the campaign
continue. Pitching in on a donation basis - no one turned away for lack of
funds. MN BBC is working with others to bring fair and honest
Palestine-centric education to Minnesota, to support justice and human
rights and to take responsibility for our culpability as Minnesotans in
Israel's occupation of Palestine. Sponsored by: MN BBC. Endorsed by: the
WAMM Middle East Committee. FFI: Visit or
email mn [at]

--------10 of 17--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 8.29 1pm

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

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

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

--------11 of 17--------

From: Richard Broderick <richb [at]>
Subject: Planet dinner 8.29 6:30pm

This will be a fun event -- and great food!
Help keep the Planet healthy -- by enjoying a gourmet meal!

The Twin Cities Media Alliance, sponsor of the award-winning local news
website, Twin Cities Daily Planet (, invites
you to a "Pick of the Market" dinner on August 29, at 6:30 p.m., at the
Black Dog Café in Lowertown Saint Paul.

"Pick of the Market" will be prepared by master chef, Shelagh Connolly.
Connolly has 30 years of experience at local fine dining restaurants
including W.A Frost, Bravo!, the New French Cafe, Dakota Bar & Grill,
Tria, and The Mildred Pierce Café, where she served as both chef and
owner. Over the years she has earned a reputation for specializing in
adventurous dining experiences.

On the day of the dinner, Connolly will stroll across the street from the
Black Dog Café to the Saint Paul Farmers Market, where everything for
sale must be produced within 50 miles of the Twin Cities. There, she'll
select the freshest ingredients to create her "Pick of the Market"
menu. The cost? Only $40 per person, including wine and dessert.

But that's not all: Meet Sheila Regan, Citizen Journalist

The Twin Cities Media Alliance is committed to bringing together media
professionals and engaged citizens to improve the quality, accountability
and diversity of the local media. One of our principal vehicles for
accomplishing this goal is the Twin Cities Daily Planet. The Planet
combines the best of the neighborhood and community press with original
reporting by citizen journalists, many of them trained in classes offered
by us -- free-of-charge.

One of those graduates is Sheila Regan, whose work now appears regularly
on the Daily Planet as well as in other publications around town. During
dinner, she'll share the inspiring story of how the training she received
from us helped transform her from a media consumer into a media citizen
-- and a working journalist.

Special -- for TCMA members only!

Already a TCMA contributing member? If so, then In addition to our "Pick
of the Market" dinner you're invited to a members'-only "aperitif hour"
from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the AZ Galley, an artist co-op exhibition
space located just across the hall from The Black Dog. Wine, beer and
appetizers are included in the price of the dinner.

During our aperitif hour you'll have the opportunity to mingle with Twin
Cities Daily Planet editors and writers and hear from Sen. Ellen
Anderson, chair of the Minnesota Senate's Energy and Environment
Committee and one of the principal sponsors of the Legacy Amendment,
about the amendment's long-term impact on local arts communities, while
viewing AZ's great selection of contemporary artwork.

What: "Pick of the Market" benefit dinner for the Twin Cities Media
Alliance, sponsor of the Twin Cities Daily Planet
Where: The Black Dog Café, 308 Prince Street, Saint Paul
When: 6:30 p.m., August 29. Special members-only aperitif hour, 5:30
p.m.-6:30 p.m., AZ Gallery
Where to park: On- and off-street parking is available near the Black Dog
Café. Best bet: The surface lot located on Prince Street directly behind
the café. Parking there costs only $1 for the entire evening.

How to make your reservation: RSVP to richb [at]
For more information: richb [at]

--------12 of 17--------

Mutant Chickens in the Modern Age
by Sam Wellington
August 25th, 2010
Dissident Voice

Sometime ago when I was in college, I became familiar with a story of
which I'm sure many individuals are familiar. The story regarded a
well-known fast food franchise and its featured poultry fare. Somewhere
along the way, it was said, the franchise had embarked upon a genetic
experiment to cut costs and streamline production. The result was a plump
and tender organism that tasted a lot like chicken, only there were no
feathers that needed plucking, no beaks that might involve pecking, and no
talons that might result in injury to some unfortunate poultry plant
worker. It was, in essence, just a glob of flesh fed essential nutrients
through a series of attached tubes on its way to being happily consumed by
an unsuspecting public.

Of course, the story was complete bullshit - an urban legend concocted by
some imaginative college student or animal rights activist, who knows, but
it's taken its place among fast food lore, nonetheless. In any case, the
story serves as a great analogue for society as a whole in our modern day
economic system. Not that I think a select few humans are destined for
processing at the Soylent Green facility, but we are remarkably
conditioned to feed the economy in a multiplicity of other ways - all of
which is the manifestation of a very American type of capitalism that has,
perhaps fatally, spread over the world entire.

Economists tell us that we are the all-mighty consumers, but it is the
economy that often consumes us. Evidence of this can be seen on the faces
of the unemployed or those who have lost their homes in this latest
economic downturn. And while this economy consumes anyone willing (or
unwilling) to buy into it, it is the bottom half that is most often served
up, apple in mouth. We are the hapless lambs offered to the haut monde.
Yet, even in this sacrificial status, many of us continue on with our
lives, spending unabated if credit allows. Ignorance may be bliss, but
it's also quite useful in a system that's trying to squeeze every last
drop of life from its hosts.

And squeeze it does through our spending habits - habits that have been
very purposefully and meticulously shaped by a culture dominated by the
need to sell massive amounts of often quite useless stuff. Not a single
aspect of our behavior - of our lives has been considered without this in
mind. Our spending is the lifeblood of the economy and, like that imagined
fleshy glob of poultry product, nourishing our desire to spend, to be
differentiated from our ability to spend, is essential.

As such, this perverse society in which we live touches on a variety of
basic human emotions and urges to provoke our desire to spend. Like some
inverse papal edict issued from the highest capitalist authority: envy,
want, and pride, for instance, are considered to be virtues of a
quasi-religion, whereas plain-old need and frugality is the stuff of the
unenlightened masses, or, better yet, those not preordained for success in
this temporal world.

Frugality, indeed, might be subconsciously thought of as our original sin
and absolution can only come about through consumption. With each
successive new generation of lambs (or chickens), the standards of such
consumption are elevated. For instance, a time traveler from 1980 might
find it hard to accept that we are only 30 years removed from his or her
world. The "need" for gadgetry in our day and age has rendered us a
collection of technologically dumbfounded addicts. So much so that our
concern for safe driving has been subverted in favor of endless, if
largely pointless communication with our fellow junkies. I can't help but
think that the break down of civil society is at least partly owed to the
blank, unempathic stares of the cell phone throngs. With mindless elements
of television, movies, and the Internet aiding in the pathosis - yes,
zombies do exist.

Not that I should dwell on the technology hordes. God knows that there are
X number of other material goods out there that we have been nurtured to
believe we must have. Nor is technology the primary source of our debt (we
can thank health care and real estate for most of that burden). But
technological gadgetry might be the most inescapable of our addictions,
and that alone might make it the most obnoxious. It is an efficacious
conveyor of the faith. It's also a market that, by itself, has remained
affordable in some form to even the lowliest of individuals - a true
opiate of the masses. One might be just as likely to see a drug dealer
carrying the latest cell phone incarnation as they would the young
professional on-the-go. Interestingly enough, the former might have a
better need-based argument for using such a device round-the-clock.

Technology, more pointedly, is how we are bombarded 24 hours a day with
images and sounds imparting the righteousness of frivolous spending
through the most deceptive means advertising can offer. It has our devoted
attention while, ironically, it distracts from the truly essential things
that life has to offer: family, friendship, love, some measure of verity.
It provides, instead, a surrogate means for maintaining a connection to
those essential aspects - if only to encourage us to spend more, to make
us more efficient consumers. Call it conspiracy, but I suspect that we are
all just some experiment meant to nourish an economy from which only a few
will ultimately find joy. I can't help but think that there is some better

Sam Wellington is a freelance author whose work can be found at his
website, Midnight in the Land of Plenty. He has an MA in International
Affairs from American University and a BA in History. Read other articles
by Sam, or visit Sam's website.

--------13 of 17--------

Rotten Eggs and Our Broken Democracy
by Amy Goodman
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Common Dreams

What do a half-billion eggs have to do with democracy? The massive recall
of salmonella-infected eggs, the largest egg recall in U.S. history, opens
a window on the power of large corporations over not only our health, but
over our government.

While scores of brands have been recalled, they all can be traced back to
just two egg farms. Our food supply is increasingly in the hands of larger
and larger companies, which wield enormous power in our political process.
As with the food industry, so, too, is it with oil and with banks: Giant
corporations, some with budgets larger than most nations, are controlling
our health, our environment, our economy and increasingly, our elections.

The salmonella outbreak is just the most recent episode of many that point
to a food industry run amok. Patty Lovera is the assistant director of the
food-safety group Food & Water Watch. She told me: "Historically, there's
always been industry resistance to any food-safety regulation, whether
it's in Congress or through the agencies. There are large trade
associations for every sector of our food supply, starting from the large
agribusiness-type producers all the way through to the grocery stores".

The salmonella-tainted eggs came from just two factory farms, Hillandale
Farms and Wright County Egg, both in Iowa. Behind this outbreak is the egg
empire of Austin "Jack" DeCoster. DeCoster owns Wright County Egg and also
owns Quality Egg, which provides chicks and feed to both of the Iowa
farms. Lovera describes DeCoster as "a poster child for what happens when
we see this type of consolidation and this scale of production".

The Associated Press offered a summary of DeCoster's multistate egg and
hog operation's health, safety and employment violations. In 1997,
DeCoster Egg Farms agreed to pay a $2 million fine after then-Labor
Secretary Robert Reich described his farm "as dangerous and oppressive as
any sweatshop". In 2002, DeCoster's company paid $1.5 million to settle a
lawsuit filed by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on
behalf of Mexican women who reported they were subjected to sexual
harassment, including rape, abuse and retaliation by supervisors. Earlier
this summer, another company linked to DeCoster paid out $125,000 to the
state of Maine over animal-cruelty allegations.

Despite all this, DeCoster has thrived in the egg and hog business, which
puts him in league with other large corporations, like BP and the major
banks. The BP oil spill, the largest in the history of this country, was
preceded by a criminally long list of serious violations going back years,
most notably the massive Texas City refinery explosion in 2005 that killed
15 people. If BP were a person, he would have been imprisoned long ago.

The banking industry is another chronic offender. In the wake of the
largest global financial disaster since the Great Depression, banks like
Goldman Sachs, flush with cash after a massive public bailout, subverted
the legislative process aimed at reining them in.

The result: a largely toothless new consumer-protection agency, and
relentless opposition to the appointment of consumer advocate Elizabeth
Warren to head it. She would give the banks as much oversight as the new
agency would allow, which is why the bankers, including President Barack
Obama's appointees like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and economic
adviser Larry Summers, are believed to be opposing her.

The fox, you could say, is watching the henhouse (and the rotten eggs
within). Multinational corporations are allowed to operate with virtually
no oversight or regulation. Corporate cash is allowed to influence
elections, and thus, the behavior of our elected representatives. After
the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which will allow unlimited
corporate donations to campaigns, the problem is only going to get worse.
To get elected, and to stay in power, politicians will have to cater more
and more to their corporate donors.

There is hope. There is a growing movement to amend the U.S. Constitution,
to strip corporations of the legal status of "personhood," the concept
that corporations have the same rights as regular people.

This would subject corporations to the same oversight that existed for the
first 100 years of U.S. history. To restrict political participation just
to people will take a genuine, grass-roots movement, though, since
Congress and the Obama administration can't seem to get even the most
basic changes implemented. As the saying goes, if you want to make an
omelet, you have to break a few eggs.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

2010 Amy Goodman Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily
international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 800 stations in North
America. She is the author of "Breaking the Sound Barrier," recently
released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

--------14 of 17--------

He's Not Only Offensive; He's Ignorant!
The Odious Alan Simpson
August 26, 2010

Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, the co-chairman of President Obama's
deficit commission, has sparked calls for his resignation after sending an
offensive and sexist note to Ashley Carson, the executive director of the
Older Women's League. While such calls are reasonable -- Simpson's
comments were certainly more offensive than remarks that led to the
resignation of other people from the Obama Administration -- the Senator's
determined ignorance about the basic facts on Social Security is an even
more important reason for him to leave his position.

I was also a recipient of one of Simpson's tirades. As was the case with
the note he sent to Carson, Simpson attached a presentation prepared for
the commission by Social Security's chief actuary. Simpson implied that
this presentation had some especially eye-opening information that would
lead Carson and me to give up our wrong-headed views on Social Security.

While I opened the presentation with great expectations, I quickly
discovered there was nothing in the presentation that would not already be
known to anyone familiar with the annual Social Security trustees' report.
The presentation showed a program that is currently in solid financial
shape, but somewhere in the next three decades will face a shortfall due
to an upward redistribution of wage income, increasing life expectancy and
slow growth in the size of the workforce. The projected shortfall is not
larger than what the program has faced at prior points in its history,
most notably in 1982 when the Greenspan Commission was established to
restore the program's solvency.

It was disturbing to see that Simpson seemed surprised by what should have
been old hat to anyone familiar with the policy debate on Social Security.
After all, he had been a leading participant in these debates in his years
in the Senate.

Simpson's public remarks also seem to show very little knowledge of the
financial situation of the elderly or near elderly. He has repeatedly made
references to retirees driving up to their gated communities in their
Lexuses. While this description may apply to Simpson's friends, it applies
to very few other retirees, the vast majority of whom rely on Social
Security for the bulk of their income. Cutting the benefits of the small
group of genuinely affluent elderly would make almost no difference in the
finances of the program.

Furthermore, the baby-boom generation that is nearing retirement has seen
most of its savings destroyed by the collapse of the housing bubble that
both wiped out their housing equity and took a big chunk of the limited
money they were able to put aside in their 401(k)s. Simpson shows no
understanding of this fact as he prepares to cut benefits for near

He also doesn't seem to have a clue as to the type of work that most older
people are doing. While it is possible for senators to continue in their
jobs late in life, nearly half of older workers have jobs that are either
physically demanding or require they work in difficult conditions. Simpson
seems totally clueless on this point when he considers proposals to raise
the retirement age.

The key facts on Social Security are not hard to understand. The shortfall
is relatively minor and distant. Most retirees have little income other
than their Social Security, and most workers would find it quite difficult
to stay at their jobs in their late 60s or even 70. We might have hoped
that Senator Simpson understood these facts at the time when he was
appointed to the commission, but we should at least expect that he would
learn them on the job.

His determined ignorance in the face of the facts is the most important
reason why he is not qualified to serve on President Obama's commission.
Someone who is co-chairman of such an important group should be able to
critically evaluate information, not just insult and demean his critics.

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

--------15 of 17--------

Fighting Words on Social Security: Apply the FICA Tax to All Income
Including Investment Income and Lower the Retirement Age
by Dave Lindorff
Thursday, August 26, 2010
This Can't Be Happening
Common Dreams

It's time for us progressives to stop playing defense on Social Security.

We've watched the retirement system suffer years of attacks by
conservatives and by class traitors in the Democratic Party. We have seen
the retirement age raised since 1983 from 65 to 67, and the cost-of-living
calculation altered so that our benefits have declined in value over time,
while the tax rate on working people has risen.

It's time to stop fighting rear-guard actions and to go on the offense.

Beginning next year, the Baby Boom generation born after 1945 is going to
start retiring en masse. That means the size of the retiree portion of the
population is about to double. Far from being a threat to the Social
Security system though, as conservative critics falsely claim, this new
wave or retirees will actually strengthen the system, because soon there
will be a far larger voting population of retirees and pending retirees
who will all have a vested interest in preserving and improving Social

That is precisely why the [no hope, no change -ed] Obama Administration,
ever solicitous of the wishes of the corporate elite and Wall Street,
together with bought-and-paid Republicans and treacherous Democrats in
Congress, are attempting through the latest so-called Deficit Commission,
to push through more cuts to weaken the Social Security system now, while
they still can.

If we Baby Boomers, who are just about to start collecting Social
Security, would recognize our own (and our children's) interests, we could
put a stop to this betrayal of the New Deal's greatest legacy immediately.

There is no Social Security "crisis."

In fact, it is time to demand a return to 65 as the age for retiring with
full benefits, and to demand a restoration of the original methodology for
calculating cost-of-living adjustments.

It is all the more important that we lower, and not raise the retirement
age, because with the unemployment rate now stuck at close to 10%
officially, and with one- in-five Americans either unemployed, working
part-time involuntarily, or "out of the labor force" (meaning they gave up
trying to find work in an economy where there are six workers chasing each
job opening), the last thing we should be doing as a nation is forcing
older workers stay on the job against their will, keeping those positions
filled and unavailable for younger workers.

By fighting to restore and improve Social Security, we kill three birds
with one stone - solidifying Social Security's funding, improving life for
retirees, and helping open up jobs for younger workers.

How to perform this triple miracle?

Easy. Just eliminate the cap on income subject to the FICA Social Security
tax (currently set at just the first $106,800 of wages or net income from
a business or profession), and end the exclusion of investment income, so
that people who earn their money by sitting on their butts trading stocks
at home or by sitting in fancy offices buying and selling companies, pay
Social Security taxes on their profits, and bingo, there's no more risk of
burning through the Trust Fund during the wave of Baby Boom retirees. (A
Senate report found that by just taxing all earned income, the Social
Security Trust Fund would be flush indefinitely, right through the Baby
Boom retirement era, but Congress didn't even look at what happens if we
also applied the FICA tax to investment income.)

So listen up Boomers. It's time to get back to our roots. This time it's
not the draft and a criminal war in Southeast Asia. It's our retirement!
The banksters have destroyed our IRAs and 401(k) plans, and have stolen
our home assets. Social Security is all we've got left, and they're trying
to steal that now, too.

Are we going to let them? Hell no! We won't let it go!

And remember, it's an election season.

Time to demand that all candidates for Congress pledge to end the
regressive nature of the Social Security tax. For starters, let's simply
make it a flat tax on all income, including investment income. (We can
talk later about making it progressive so that the rich pay a higher
percentage than low-income workers.)

Time to demand that candidates for Congress also pledge to lower the age
for retirement with full benefits back to 65, where it was originally
before President Reagan and the wretched Greenspan Commission got Congress
to start raising it in installments, beginning in 1983. If enough money
comes in from the tax on higher incomes and investment, maybe we can talk
about even lowering the age for full benefits to 64 or younger.

The vultures who are trying to weaken Social Security, raise the
retirement age to 69 or 70, and cut the benefits - which means most
Republicans and all too many Democrats - claim it's appropriate to raise
the age of retirement because we're all living longer, but that's not the

If someone is healthy and wants to work into their late 60s, or early 70s
or beyond, nobody is stopping them, and such people are not going to start
collecting Social Security until 70 anyway, because they don't need it.

But many people are burned out at 66, or 65 or even 62. Think of nurses,
teachers, miners, fire-fighters, sanitation workers, bus drivers, store
clerks, etc. These are hard, grinding jobs, and nobody should have to do
them into their mid or late 60s, much less until they are 70, unless they
want to.

Besides, we are a wealthy society. We should allow our elderly citizens to
enjoy their grandchildren, to volunteer in their communities, to create
things. Sure they should be able to work as long as they want to, but the
operative word is "want." Not "need."

Besides, the longer we make the elderly worker stay on the job, the longer
we keep that job filled, and unavailable for some younger person who is
desperate for a paycheck.

The truth is younger workers could use some of the jobs that older workers
are filling, not because they want to, but because they cannot afford to
retire yet. So let's allow those people to leave the workforce and retire
on the Social Security checks that they have earned.

And let's watch our unemployment rate fall.

Those new workers, by the way, will be paying into the Social Security
system, further strengthening it.

So here's the deal. No more playing defense on Social Security! We go

Demand that candidates for Congress promise to make everyone pay Social
Security taxes in full on every dollar earned, whether in wages or from

Demand that candidates for Congress support lowering the age for retiring
on full Social Security benefits back to 65.

And give the boot to any member of Congress, and any President, who talks
about privatizing Social Security, or about "tinkering" with the system by
raising the retirement age, cutting benefits or reducing the
cost-of-living adjustment formula.

And if the vultures win election anyhow, and try to cut Social Security,
or if a lame-duck Congress and a lame president try to screw us out of our
retirement during the interim between Election Day and the start of a new
Congress in January, we go back to our old street politics and take the
fight to Washington!

Of course, we Boomers should be marching on Washington again anyhow,
because there are also two criminal wars underway again, too. And if the
Deficit Commission really wants to cut the nation's huge budget deficit,
that is where they should be pulling out the knives: the military budget,
which is the real "discretionary" item in the national budget, taking
almost half of every tax dollar collected, and stealing it from schools,
health care, environmental protection, parks, alternative energy research,
housing programs and all the other things this nation desperately needs.

Copyright  2010 This Can't Be Happening.
Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening, the new
independent, collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper. His
work, and that of colleagues John Grant, Linn Washington and Charles
Grant, can be found at

--------16 of 17--------

Roundabout as Conflict-avoidance versus Malcolm X.s Psychology of
by Denis Rancourt
August 25th, 2010
Dissident Voice

In the present essay I introduce the general notion of "roundabout" as a
mechanism of conflict avoidance used by privileged social justice
activists. I then contrast this pseudo-liberation activism with the needed
true liberation activism of Malcolm X, which I argue to be consistent with
the model of liberation of Freire.


The now familiar concept of "pacifism as pathology" was introduced by Ward
Churchill as the central characteristic of First-World middleclass
so-called social justice activism. Churchill argued from history that all
liberations were leveraged through violence and proposed that pacifism as
cowardice was pathology.1

Gandhi stated that it was better to practice armed resistance than to use
pacifism as an excuse for cowardice.2 Both men (Churchill and Ghandi) saw
acceptance of and self-justification for one's (legal or circumstantial)
slavery as pathology.

Paulo Freire's work showed that all hierarchies, no matter how cushioned
in comfort, are violent and oppressive and argued that we could only fight
our own oppression - that "solidarity" meant standing side by side with
those fighting our same oppression. Freire advanced that all liberations
had to be rooted in and driven by the struggles of the oppressed
themselves no matter how underprivileged and that inter-social-class
"solidarity" was insignificant and limited to rare individuals who joined
in battle on the front lines.3

Churchill concentrated on the use of pacifism as an excuse to avoid the
needed direct confrontation with the oppressive system. He and others have
deconstructed and exposed First World pacifism as avoidance; including
mainstream life-style environmentalism, ecological or economic
isolationism, love ideologies, and so on, when taken to be activisms in
themselves. These authors did not explore the main creative active
strategies whereby pacifism can be enacted.

I explore the latter strategies of evasive action (roundabout) used by the
most activist-minded sector of concerned citizens.

My goal is to provide a radical self-criticism for dedicated
anti-hierarchy (social justice) activists to help ensure that we are as
effective as possible and are not simply fooling ourselves. I hope that my
analysis will help us to more easily recognize when we are fooling
ourselves and wasting our energies and will help us to identify optimally
effective outlooks and strategies.


Education and progressive legislation

Here is an example. A visible minority suffers racism. As a way of
avoiding effective direct challenges to this racism, members of this
visible minority ally themselves (in "solidarity") with privileged social
justice activist whites in order to train the majority societal group away
from overt racist behaviour using social engineering managed by the
establishment - using sponsored "education" and progressive legislation.

As a result, a privileged class of educated and integrated whites become
self-conscious about racist behaviour and self-censor their racist
expression, the establishment strengthens its illusion of fairness, and
the minority looses its ability and perceived legitimacy for effective
direct daily confrontations against now-more-covert racism.

A victim in this particular roundabout is the collaborating visible
minority because it puts its efforts in collaborating and its hopes in the
social engineering rather than practice its liberation. It denies itself
praxis (in the sense of Freire) and instead integrates itself more fully
with the oppressive dominant hierarchy, thereby becoming more oppressed
and more of an oppressor. Other victims are the lower social class
individuals of the visible minority who lose actual solidarity with the
now more integrated higher social class individuals of the visible
minority and who are saddled with a stronger establishment more able to
deflect their legitimate and persistent interests.

The above described roundabout is common as a general model for any
oppressed group in a "free and democratic" First World setting: women,
queers, blacks, language or cultural minorities, working class, working
poor, homeless, disabled, non-status, elderly, disease-infected,
professional workers, students, migrant workers, colonized aboriginals,
prisoners, consumers, wage earners, tenants, home owners, single fathers,
single mothers, and so on.

The above example involves a social class divide of the oppressed group
but the class divide is not an essential feature because the roundabout is
equally effective when there is no underclass of the oppressed group.

The essential feature of this roundabout is that the collaboration with
the establishment, with the hierarchical system of control, is a conscious
or unconscious diversion (in terms of personal psychology and personal
resource allocation) away from effective direct confrontations, away from
the praxis of liberation and away from Freire's needed revolt and
authentic rebellion.

The dominant group partner in this roundabout also avoids its own
immediate oppressions, instead of its members practicing their liberation.
As a result of this dedicated exercise of avoidance, members of the
dominant group partner in the roundabout are perpetually depressed, in
search of "hope", and routinely experience "burn out" despite
self-identifying as privileged. This is because the authentically
concerned dominant group partners (as opposed to the cynical
higher-hierarchical-level dominant group partners such as law and policy
makers) are attempting to remove themselves from their own pain and have
denied themselves any possibility of directly and effectively addressing
their own immediate oppression.

                       Organizing and politics

Another example of roundabout is when a concerned and sensitized
individual, often burdened with survival guilt associated with his/her
relative privilege and damaged by an institutionalization (school, work,
etc.) against which he/she has no personal experience of effective
resistance, identifies an injustice needing to be redressed and launches
into "organizing" as a substitute for immediate and direct action, as a
substitute for initiating a praxis of liberation focussed on one's own

This type of organizing is based on recruiting membership, education
regarding the issues, building a growing pool of progressive opinion, and
so on, but it guards itself against "radical" actions that would scare off
potential allies and clings instead to the mythology of a critical mass of
opinion as a motor for societal change.4,5

In contrast, organizing that supports liberation is driven by the need for
efficient learning, protection and power amplification in a group of
individuals already joined in solidarity via their practices of
liberation. It is an organizing that is an organic part of the praxis, not
a holding pattern of risk and confrontation avoidance.

                   Deferring societal agency

In another roundabout, the concerned and sensitized individual makes a
conscious decision to temporarily sacrifice himself/herself to fully
integrate the system and to seek advancement within the hierarchy with the
rationalization that he/she will be more able to make positive change once
a sufficient degree of power and influence is achieved.

The nature of a hierarchy is of course such that this is impossible. The
rare individuals who break free from the top layers are expelled from the
establishment. The other climbers serve the system astonishingly well or
blame themselves for failure and drop out if they cannot.

The sacrifice of willing integration is a large price to pay if the
individual does not discover rebellion and creative anti-hierarchical
sabotage as methods to change the system from within. Workers and students
play the system to survive and their suffering is evident in absenteeism
(both physical and mental), indifference, detachment, cynicism, escapism,
self-destruction, and so on.

This process and these difficulties are described by Schmidt for the case
of professional.6 Adapted to our schooling, this is the story of our
institutionalization into the hierarchy, into an economy controlled by
concentrated power. In this sense, student liberation during the
developmental years would be a most fertile ground for societal
transformation.7 This is why schools are guarded from outside influence
and from ideological divergence as rigorously or more than prisons.8

Anytime the individual substitutes direct self-defence using his/her body,
language, personal influence in community and personal power at school or
at work for some indirect or circuitous make-work near-zero-risk scheme
that involves going along or convincing others to also not act, then the
individual is practicing roundabout rather than liberation activism.


The Black Panther Party (originally the Black Panther Party for
Self-Defence) was founded in 1966, one year after the murder of Malcolm X.
The spectre of such an organized and focussed resistance was the main
concrete driving force which led to significant civil rights gains for
blacks. The Black Panther Party was eliminated by the white state's (FBI)
political assassination unit known as COINTELPRO which was also involved
in the Malcolm X assassination. Today, US blacks disproportionately
populate the lowest economic class and US prisons.

In the words of Rev. Albert Cleage:

Malcolm X was tremendously important, beyond our comprehension today -
Malcolm laid down certain basic principles that we can never forget. He
changed the whole course. The first basic principle that Malcolm laid down
that we can't forget is this: The white man is your enemy. That is a basic
principle, we can't forget it. I don't care what else they drag in from
wherever they drag it - remember one thing, Malcolm taught one truth: The
white man is our enemy. We can't get away from it, and if we accept and
understand that one basic truth, his life was not lived in vain. Because
upon that one basic truth we can build a total philosophy, a total course
of action for struggle. Because that was the basic confusion which
distorted the lives of black people, with corrupted the movements of black

He didn't just say it - he went out and he lived it. He asked for moments
of confrontation. He said we have got to break our identification, we
can't go through life identifying with the white man or his government. .
We must break our identification with the enemy, we must confront him, and
we must realize that conflict and violence are necessary parts of a
struggle against an enemy - that is what he taught. Conflict, struggle,
and violence are not to be avoided. Don't be afraid of them.9

This foundational principle that in the hierarchical oppression of blacks
your enemy is your enemy can be generalized to any particular hierarchical
oppression and to all oppressions by hierarchies.

The oppressor by nature is your enemy. You cannot collaborate with your
enemy devoted to your oppression and come out ahead. At best, you will be
used and transformed into your enemy.

Malcolm X's psychology of liberation is one where you recognize that the
oppressor is an enemy that you cannot integrate, where you know that this
enemy can only be deterred by your strength and your willingness to defend

In this psychology, like in Freire's, you do not fight the enemy in order
to replace him in a hierarchy. You fight for liberation, not for an
opportunity to create your own system of oppression. But you fight. You
understand that this is an enemy and that all hierarchies can only
violently oppress.

If it's not clear that you are oppressed or that your oppressor is your
enemy, then not only are you trapped and confused but you also protect and
serve the oppressor. And you act against all those who are oppressed by
the oppressor. You collaborate.

One does not like to live during a time of war and one does not like to
have enemies. But this is a time of war and you are harmed by the system,
denied your full humanity, as surely as the million directly killed in
Iraq and as surely as those held in the open air prison known as Gaza and
illegally maintained by Israel.

By not fighting your own oppression directly as an individual person you
protect the same system that practices these war crimes. By not
understanding in your pores that this system and those who sustain,
protect and project it are your enemy until they stop, by not
understanding this, you are co-opted into collaborating and into denying
yourself your own liberation.

You can't even start a praxis of liberation until you start to recognize
the enemy. And you can't sustain the struggle without knowing who the
enemy is and that he is the enemy.

There is an us and them. You are oppressed and you have an oppressor.
Indeed, you are oppressed by an entire hierarchical system of oppression.
You target where you can best defend yourself, where you will inflict the
most punishment. Call it punitive justice.

As soon as you lose sight that you are dealing with an enemy, then you
are part of the oppressor. All the internal and external forces will make
every attempt to confuse you on this point and to buy or to force your
cooperation. In particular, those who invest in roundabout will vehemently
pressure and coerce you to follow them because you represent a threat to
their psychological investment.4,5


If I keep my individual personal agency, my direct ability to have
influence, my direct bodily ability to defend myself against my oppressor
understood to be my enemy, at the point of my strongest connection to my
oppressor, then I will not partake in roundabout. I will have all my
available resources for my praxis of liberation which will naturally
include organizing and community.

.This essay was first posted on the Activist Teacher blog.

1.Pacifism as Pathology by Ward Churchill, 1986. [.]

2..Resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict: What we can learn from Gandhi.
by Norman G. Finkelstein, 2009. [.]

3.Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire, 1970. [.]

4..On the racism and pathology of left progressive First-World activism.
by Denis G. Rancourt, 4 August 2010. [.] [.]

5..The Activist Wars. by Denis G. Rancourt, 19 August 2009. [.] [.]

6.Disciplined Minds by Jeff Schmidt, 2000. [.]

7..Need for and Practice of Student Liberation. by Denis G. Rancourt,
2010. [.]

8..The Student as Nigger. by Jerry Farber, 1969. [.]

9..Myths about Malcolm X. by Rev. Albert Cleage, speech delivered in
Detroit, February 24, 1967. [.]

Denis G. Rancourt was a tenured and full professor of physics at the
University of Ottawa in Canada. He practiced several areas of science
which were funded by a national agency and ran an internationally
recognized laboratory. He published over 100 articles in leading
scientific journals. He developed popular activism courses and was an
outspoken critic of the university administration and a defender of
student and Palestinian rights. He was fired for his dissidence in 2009 by
a president who is a staunch supporter of Israeli policy.

--------17 of 17--------

                        Strip-mine the rich


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