Progressive Calendar 09.25.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 2010 12:27:20 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    09.25.10

1. Rondo cafe      9.25 11am
2. CUAPB           9.25 1:30pm
3. Northtown vigil 9.25 2pm
4. MN ed crisis    9.25 3pm
5. Help Lydia/pc   9.25 6pm
6. Another media?  9.25 9pm

7. Dave Bicking - GP press release on raids
8. AP           - Attorney: FBI targeting social justice advocates
9. Robert Reich - Superrich get richer, we get poorer, & the Dems punt
10. Ralph Nader - Craven Republicans and spineless Democrats
11. Gary Leupp  - The handwriting is on the wall for US empire
12. ed          - Das FBI  (haiku)

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From: Joan Vanhala <joan [at]>
Subject: Rondo cafe 9.25 11am


Aurora St Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation (ASANDC) is opening
up the new RONDO Coffee Café at the new mixed-use Development Frogtown
Square on University Avenue and Dale Street in St. Paul Commercial space
opening end of 2010 & the Housing opening in February 2011

WE are asking all of the RONDO Community and its FRIENDS to join in and
help us make this realty come true by participating in our fundraiser. By
supporting us, you will assist us in creating another legacy and tribute
to the memory of the Rondo Community, help us create jobs for those that
are most hard to employ, and help us create a "mini" museum to those lives
that made RONDO a great place to live, work, worship and raise us.

YOU can particiapte in one of three ways:

Buy the naming rights to a coffee, latte, or other beverage for $500.00 -
name that special flavor after your family name!!!

Buy a coffee table and emboss a picture of a family memory or great place
to go that once existed in the RONDO neighborhood for $400.00!!

Buy a spot on the wall of fame with a picture of a family memory or great
place to go that once existed in the RONDO neighborhood for $300.00!!

We will be sponsoring an informational session On Saturday, September 25,
2010 11am - 2 pm The Golden Thyme Coffee Cafe 921 Selby Avenue St.
Paul, MN 55104

To get more information stop by our office or contact Nieeta Presley Aurora St 
Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation (ASANDC)
774 University Avenue W.
St. Paul, MN 55104
Email:nieeta [at]

Joan Vanhala
Phillips, Minneapolis
About Joan Vanhala:

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From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: CUAPB 9.25 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)

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From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 9.25 2pm

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

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From: Socialist Appeal <new [at]>
Subject: MN ed crisis 9.25 3pm

Minnesota Public Education in Crisis
Panel Discussion on privatization, budget cuts, school closures, and
building a movement to reclaim our schools
Saturday, Sept. 25th, 3pm - 5pm
Walker Library Meeting Room
2880 Hennepin Ave. S, Minneapolis


* Robert Panning-Miller, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Executive
Board member, South High teacher, founding member of Public Education
Justice Alliance of Minnesota (PEJAM)

* Kale Severson, President of North High Alumni Association, activist with
campaign to save North High school

* Erin Dyke, organizer with Twin Cities Experimental College, facilitator
of EXCO class: "School Choice, Charter Schools, and Minneapolis: Exploring
the Privatization and Marketization of Schooling in Our City"

* Teddy Shibabaw, organizer with Socialist Alternative and Public
Education Justice Alliance of Minnesota (PEJAM)

To students, parents, teachers and all who care about defending and
transforming public education:

Public Education Justice Alliance of Minnesota (PEJAM) is hosting our
first public forum. At the forefront of our focus right now is the threat
of closure that North High is facing due to two new charter schools that
the Board of Education already approved quietly with almost no input from
the Twin Cities community. If no one fights to stop them, the first of the
new charters will open in North Minneapolis in the fall of 2011. The new
charters are expected to swallow up 10% of the public school population.
North High has already dwindled in population with less than 300 students,
due to years of underfunding and neglect. These new charters are not only
a threat to North High, but will also seriously encroach on the South
Minneapolis schools, taking the per student public funding.

Come to the meeting to help us build a campaign to draw a line in the sand
against the dismantling and privatization of public education.

Our panel will explore the impact of budget cuts and the expansion of
charters in Minneapolis and nationally on the quality of education.
Obama's aggressive program of education reform, including "Race to the
Top" has been widely denounced by teachers unions, the NAACP, Urban
League, and others. But how can teachers, students, and parents challenge
the steady re-segregation and privatization of our public schools? We will
finish the meeting with a discussion on ideas for action, including
mobilizing for city-wide demonstrations and a concert in Loring Park on
October 7th, a National Day of Action to Defend Public Education.

Join our Facebook event page - HELP SPREAD THE WORD!

For more information, check out our blog:

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From: lydiahowell [at]
Subject: Help Lydia compute 9.25 6pm

MEAL & OPEN MIC BENEFIT:Help Lydia Howell Get A Computer
hosted by Lydia Howell, host of KFAI radio's "Catalyst: politics & culture"
SAT. SEPT. 25, 6pm
301 Cedar Avenue S., West Bank, Minneapolis
$7-10 benefit

Lydia Howell, TC independent journalist, producer-host of KFAI's
"Catalyst" (Thur.9am) and activist, had her computer's hard drive
meltdown early in August. Living under the poverty line on disability, she
needs your help to replace this crucial tool for writing and organizing.
What many might not know is that Lydia has written poetry all her life:
she will read recent poems inspired by anti-war struggle & community
gardening. OPEN MIC:You can participate in the open mic with
your poetry, acoustic music or a rant! Plus: Enjoy Lydia's home cooking:
TEXAS CHILE (Meat & Vegan/Vegetarian); Cornbread;Chips & Salsa;Salad.
DESSERTS: Homemade Cheesecake, Vegan Pineapple-Upside-Down Cake & Vegan

RAFFLE TICKET: $1 eachto win your choice of great books, DVDs, orginal
art & more.
Some of the proceeds go to May Day Books, your progressive, non-profit,
volunteer-run bookstore.


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From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Another media? 9.25 9pm

"Is Another Media Possible?"
For generations, the way that most Americans have received "the news" has
been through a model of centralized corporate journalism.  Now, that model
is dying, and the question is: what model of journalism will fill the
void?  Longtime local journalists Rich Broderick, co-founder of the Twin
Cities Daily Planet, and Mary Turck, the Daily Planet's editor, discuss
"citizen journalism", share community resources offered through the Twin
Cities Daily Planet, and discuss how all of this relates to democracy.
(Sept. '10)

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

Sat, 9/25, 9pm and Tues, 9/28, 8am
"Is Another Media Possible?"

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Date: Sat, 25 Sep 2010 12:32:50 -0500
From: Dave Bicking <dave [at]>
Subject: GP press release on raids

Dave Bicking, Spokesperson, 612-276-1213
Rhoda Gilman, Spokesperson,  651-224-6383

For Immediate Release
September 25, 2010


News that five homes of well-known peace activists in Minneapolis had been
raided and searched by FBI agents yesterday morning brought expressions of
outrage from members of the Green Partys state coordinating committee.
They voiced support for the Anti War Committee and other local groups with
which the activists are associated.  They believe that accusations of
material aid to terrorism are intended to intimidate all who protest.

The suppression of democratic rights and the bogus use of terrorism
charges continue to intensify under the Obama administration.  A number of
the activists also received subpoenas to testify at a Chicago grand jury.
We will continue to support these activists as they face the grand jury

"Following upon the unjustified raids and arrests that took place in 2008,
this action throws a threatening shadow over freedom of expression in our
state - as no doubt it was meant to do," says Andy Hamerlinck.  He pointed
out that empty charges of terrorism against the RNC 8 arrested in 2008
have long since been dropped.  Only last week, all other charges were
dropped against three of those defendants.  "Now we have a new round of

[Three cheers to the MN Green Party for this statement! How long will we
have to wait for a similar statement from the DFL - mayors, council
members, reps and sens? Zzzzzz... Or from its domesticated Dem-buddy, the
local Communist Party? Zzzzz..zz.. Silence shows complicity,
collaboration, acceptance, near-equal guilt. And history shows that
silence of the lambs is far most likely. You could consider choosing a
party that stands against repression rather than one that meekly shuts up
and thereby sides with it. -ed]

[On the other hand, the quickly planned protest meeting (listed here) - vs
the FBI raids - FILLED the main upstairs meeting room at Walker Church
yesterday afternoon. Kudos to all! -ed].

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Attorney: FBI targeting social justice advocates
(AP) . 31 minutes ago  [on 09.24.10 -ed]

CHICAGO . A lawyer for a Chicago man says her client's home was among
those raided by FBI agents as part of a terrorism investigation.

Agents searched eight addresses in Minneapolis and Chicago on Friday.
Warrants suggest they're looking for connections between local anti-war
activists and terrorist groups in Colombia and the Middle East.

Melinda Power, an attorney for Joe Iosbaker of Chicago, says agents
arrived at his home early Friday, carried out boxes full of his
possessions and loaded them into a white van.

Power says Iosbaker has done nothing wrong. She says the FBI is "after
people who are active in social justice."

An FBI spokesman says the homes of longtime Minneapolis anti-war activists
Mick Kelly, Jess Sundin and Meredith Aby were among those searched Friday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information.
AP's earlier story is below.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) . The FBI said it searched eight addresses in Minneapolis
and Chicago as part of a terrorism investigation Friday. Warrants suggest
agents were looking for connections between local anti-war activists and
terrorist groups in Colombia and the Middle East.

FBI spokesman Steve Warfield told The Associated Press agents served six
warrants in Minneapolis and two in Chicago.

"These were search warrants only," Warfield said. "We're not anticipating
any arrests at this time. They're seeking evidence relating to activities
concerning the material support of terrorism."

The homes of longtime Minneapolis anti-war activists Mick Kelly, Jess
Sundin and Meredith Aby were among those searched, they said. All three
were subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago: Aby on
Oct. 5, Sundin on Oct. 12 and Kelly on Oct. 19.

"The FBI is harassing anti-war organizers and leaders, folks who opposed
U.S. intervention in the Middle East and Latin America," Kelly said before
agents confiscated his cell phone.

Sundin said she believes the searches are connected with the Minnesota
Anti-War Committee's opposition to U.S. military aid to Colombia and
Israel, as well as its opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's kind of outrageous that citizens of the United States could be
targeted like this," Sundin said.

Warfield said he couldn't comment on whose homes were searched or give
details on why because it's an ongoing investigation. "There's no imminent
threat to the community," he said.

The searches were first reported by the Star Tribune.

The warrant for Kelly's home, provided by his attorney, sought evidence on
travel he did as part of his work for the Freedom Road Socialist
Organization and information on any travel to Colombia, the Palestinian
territories, Jordan, Syria or Israel. The warrant for Sundin's home was
similar but included a slightly different list of targeted groups.

Kelly's warrant also said agents sought information on contact with the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine and Hezbollah. The U.S. government considers those
three groups terrorist organizations.

"It appears to be a fishing expedition," said Kelly's attorney, Ted
Dooley. "It seems like they're casting a huge seine or net into the
political sea and see what they can drag up on shore and dry out. There's
no rhyme or reason to it in a free society."

The federal law cited in the search warrant prohibits "providing material
support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations."

"I'm having a hard time paying my rent," Kelly said. "There is no material

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a free-speech challenge to the
law from humanitarian aid groups that said some provisions put them at
risk of being prosecuted for talking to terrorist organizations about
nonviolent activities.

Two groups use the name Freedom Road Socialist Organization, one based in
Chicago and one in New York. They split several years ago, and the New
York group said it was not targeted.

The website for the Chicago group, which describes itself as a
"revolutionary socialist and Marxist-Leninist organization," shows Kelly
and Sundin have been affiliated with it. Kelly edits FightBack!, a
Minneapolis-based website and newspaper for the group.

Kelly's subpoena also commanded him to bring records he might have
relating to the Middle East and Colombia, along with "all records of any
payment provided directly or indirectly to Hatam Abudayyeh."

The subpoena did not further identify Abudayyeh, but FightBack has
interviewed and carried articles by a Hatam Abudayyeh who's the executive
director of the Chicago-based Arab American Action Network. Abudayyeh did
not immediately return a phone message left at his office.

Kelly said he went to Lebanon two years ago for a Palestinian solidarity
conference, and he's been on Colombian radio by phone from the U.S.

Sundin said she visited Colombia 10 years ago for a conference organized
by a social movement there in opposition to U.S. military aid.

Aby said she went to Palestine in 2002 and Colombia in 2004 and 2006 to
meet with activists. She said anyone who's an activist in those counties
gets labeled as a terrorist.

Both Sundin and Kelly were organizers of a mass march on the first day of
the Republican National Convention in St. Paul two years ago, and recently
appeared at a news conference to announce plans for another protest if
Minneapolis is selected to hold the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Police estimated the peaceful march in 2008 drew 10,000 protesters;
organizers put the figure at 30,000. Other protests were marked by
destructive acts by anarchists. More than 800 people were arrested during
the four days of the convention, including Sundin and Kelly.

Other Minnesota anti-war activists whose homes were searched included Anh
Pham, Sarah Martin and Tracy Molm, Dooley said. He said he didn't know
whose homes were searched in Chicago.

The FBI's spokesman in Chicago, Ross Rice, would only say two searches
were conducted Friday in Chicago and there were no arrests.

Asked about the reports, the U.S. Attorney's office spokesman in Chicago,
Randy Samborn, confirmed warrants were served in the city "in connection
with a law enforcement investigation." He also declined to provide

Associated Press Writers Michael Tarm in Chicago and Martiga Lohn in
Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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The Super Rich Get Richer, Everyone Else Gets Poorer, and the Democrats
by Robert Reich
Friday, September 24, 2010
Common Dreams

The super-rich got even wealthier this year, and yet most of them are
paying even fewer taxes to support the eduction, job training, and job
creation of the rest of us. According to Forbes magazine's annual survey,
just released, the combined net worth of the 400 richest Americans climbed
8% this year, to $1.37 trillion. Wealth rose for 217 members of the list,
while 85 saw a decline.

For example, Charles and David Koch, the energy magnates who are pouring
vast sums of money into Republican coffers and sponsoring tea partiers all
over America, each gained $5.5 billion of wealth over the past year. Each
is now worth $21.5 billion.

Wall Street continued to dominate the list; 109 of the richest 400 are in
finance or investments.

>From another survey we learn that the 25 top hedge-fund managers got an
average of $1 billion each, but paid an average of 17 percent in taxes
(because so much of their income is considered capital gains, taxed at 15
percent thanks to the Bush tax cuts).

The rest of America got poorer, of course. The number in poverty rose to a
post-war high. The median wage continues to deteriorate. And some 20
million Americans don't have work.

Only twice before in American history has so much been held by so few, and
the gap between them and the great majority been a chasm - the late 1920s,
and the era of the robber barons in the 1880s.

And yet the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which conferred almost all
their benefits on the rich, continue.

Democrats have decided to delay voting on whether to extend them for the
top 2 percent of Americans or for the bottom 98 percent until after the
mid-term elections.

Democrats have thereby given up a defining issue that could have enabled
them to show the big story of the last three decades - the accumulation of
almost all the gain from economic growth at the top - and to make a start
at reversing it.

When will they ever learn?  [Answer: never. They are paid well to be
door-knob stupid - it's the one thing they do, and they do it well. -ed]

 2010 Robert Reich
Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California
at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most
recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has
written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the
Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace"
commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

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Craven Republicans and Spineless Democrats
A Ten Percent Shift?
September 24 - 26, 2010

How does the Big Business-indentured Republican Party get away with
expectations of a runaway election victory this November? If such a
victory should occur in Congress and for many governorships and state
legislatures, it will be due to a ten percent or so shift in voters who
voted Democratic in 2008 and are expected to vote Republican this year or
stay home in despair or disgust. The rest of the voters who do vote will
still stay with their hereditary Republican or Democratic candidates.

So what is accounting for a possible ten percent shift? Let's briefly
review some of the Congressional Republicans' voiced positions:

1. They want to do nothing about unfair Chinese trade practices that lure
jobs away from our country though huge factory subsidies, and where
workers are repressed and counterfeit products abound. Imagine,
Republicans coddling a communist regime, luring the auto parts,
electronic, solar and drug ingredients industries away from America, often
in violation of the World Trade Organization rules. And, in turn, China is
exporting to the U.S. impure food, faulty tires, toxic drywall,
lead-tainted toys and medicines which are contaminated, defective or
harmful. Don't forget the dumping violations.

2. Republicans, led by Senator Richard Shelby and his banking friends,
declared their adamant opposition to Professor Elizabeth Warren becoming
head of the new consumer financial regulation agency. (To avoid a
confrontation with them, President Obama made her a special assistant to
organize this consumer watchdog.) Ms. Warren has a solid record of
exposing and communicating clearly to families the tricks and traps of
credit card companies, mortgage firms, and intermediaries that have taken
so many billions of consumer dollars with impunity.

3. The Republicans led by their House leader, John Boehner (Rep. Ohio), a
total toady of the gouging student loan companies, opposed the Democrats
successful reform of this taxpayer boondoggle that guaranteed obscene
profits and had the taxpayers absorb any student defaults. Boehner's
lobbying should upset millions of parents who had to foot the bill for so
many years.

4. The Republicans are opposed to raising the federal minimum wage to what
it was, adjusted for inflation, in 1968!! They opposed an adequate budget
for health and safety enforcement by OSHA to diminish the 58,000 American
workers who die every year from workplace toxics and trauma. They are now
blocking protections for coal miners pending in the Senate after the
Massey mine disaster.

5. Republicans oppose doing anything about "too big to fail" even after
Wall Street's reckless, avaricious collapse of the economy, costing 8
million jobs and trillions of lost pension and mutual fund dollars.

Moreover, they do not support genuine enforcement of the anti-trust laws
which are supposed to break up monopolization efforts, monopolies or
oligopolies like Monsanto (seeds) or the big five banks - bailed out by
taxpayers and secure in their domination of well over 50 percent of all
bank assets, deposits and the credit card business. This is by far the
highest concentration of financial power in modern U.S. history. With few
exceptions, the GOP want very few federal cops on the corporate crime

6. Fighting for the last billionaire and multimillionaire, Republicans are
blocking ending Bush's tax cuts on incomes beyond $250,000 per year. Yes,
Republicans want to reduce the deficit yet they want to end revenues of
over 700 billion dollar over ten years of restored super-rich taxes. They
are blocking renewal of the estate taxes after their expiration on Dec.
31, 2009 left no taxes this year on the estates of the super-rich. (Over
99 percent of estates were already exempt from the federal estate tax.)

7. No matter that Republicans caved to the health insurance companies
getting over 30 million new covered customers, starting in 2014, they
supported the industry's blaming the federal government, no less, for this
month's latest sharp hike in insurance premiums by Aetna and others
largely on the policies of individuals and small business. The Republicans
did this after blocking the "public option" that would have given
consumers both a choice and the benefit of some competition to the big
insurance firms.

8. Have the Congressional Republicans ever challenged the bloated,
wasteful, contractor-corrupt military budget that makes up half of the
entire government's discretionary budget?

Even the Congress's own auditing agency - the Government Accountability
Office (GAO) declares the Pentagon budget unauditable. Many Pentagon
audits document the abuses of Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater and other firms
in the deficit-driving, bloody Iraq and Afghanistan wars (both Republican
espoused.) The Pentagon's burgeoning budget, now nearing $800 billion a
year, is deemed untouchable. (A few Republicans, like Charles Grassley and
John McCain sometimes object to contracting abuses.)

9. President Obama wants a counter-recessionary public works program
renovating airports, bridges, highways, rail and mass transit, drinking
water and sewage treatment facilities and other infrastructures.
Republicans sneer at this local job creation for much needed facilities.

10. Unlike any Republican Party since its creation in 1854, it has misused
the filibuster threat, and any one of its Senators misuse the rules and
block even going to a floor discussion or a nomination vote. The Party is
earning its moniker as the Party of NO. Republicans have turned the U.S.
Senate into America's graveyard.

There is much more, but enough has been cited to ask again - how are
Republicans seen by the polls as front runners in the upcoming election?

The answer my friends, is not in the stars. The answer is in the clueless
and spineless Democrats, busily dialing for the same corporate campaign

The other answer is in the ten percent of the actual voters who need to
seriously avail themselves of the facts and a modicum of thought. For if
they don't, they will continue to pay bills handed to them and their
children by their ruling corporatists in Republican clothing.

Ralph Nader is the author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, a novel.

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More Acceptance of Relative Decline
The Handwriting is on the Wall
September 24 - 26, 2010

In the biblical story of Daniel, the Babylonian emperor Balshazzar,
engaged in drunken revelry with his courtiers using goblets plundered
during the conquest of Jerusalem, drinking toasts to the gods of gold and
silver, is startled to see a hand appear on the wall of the banquet hall.
(Daniel 5:5-7) The hand writes:  Mene, mene, tekel, upharsim.

Some Bible scholars think these were words for coins circulating in the
empire, or measures of metal used in commerce. (Tekel is the same as the
Hebrew shekel.) So the message was something like, "Dollars, dollars,
quarters, half dollars".

What could it mean, wondered Balshazzar and his courtiers? The emperor's
advisors were mystified. So Daniel, a wise man among the Jews of the
Babylonian Exile who enjoyed the favor of the court, was called upon to
interpret the meaning of this amazing event.

Daniel explained that God was using clever puns involving money to
foretell the empire's doom. Mene (or mina) can mean "measured" or
"numbered" as well as "judged". Tekel (or shekel) can mean "weighed on the
scales". Upharsin is a coin one-half the size of a mene, but also is a pun
for "Persian".  So Daniel told Balshazzar:

This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days
of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed on
the scales and found wanting; UPHARSIN, your kingdom is divided and given
to the Medes and Persians. (Daniel 5:25)

Indeed that very night the emperor was slain and a Mede (Darius) became
ruler. Soon the empire was conquered by Cyrus the Persian.

The Book of Daniel was written in the second century BCE. It refers to
rulers who lived four centuries earlier and shouldn't be taken literally.
The first half is an exquisitely written novelette in which Daniel
"prophesizes" things that had already occurred. The Babylonian Empire had
been succeeded by the Median, Persian, and then following the conquests of
Alexander the Great, the Greek empire. (And then the Romans gradually
build their empire, doomed to decline.)

Earlier in the Book of Daniel (2:31-45), the Babylonian emperor
Nebuchadnezzar asks Daniel to explain to him the meaning of a dream
involving a statue with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly
and thighs from brass, legs of iron, and feet part iron and clay. Daniel
explains that Nebudchadnezzar is himself the head of gold but "after you
shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours, and yet a third kingdom of
bronze, which shall rule over the whole earth". These are often
interpreted to mean the succession of Median, Persian, and Greek empires.
The last was ruling the Middle East at the time this book was written. The
author wanted to say that while the Greeks ruling Judea appeared powerful,
they were fundamentally weak. (This is what the phrase "feet of clay" has
come to mean.)

The whole point is: empires eventually fall. (Their decline and fall is
just a particularly dramatic example of what Buddhists call "the law of
impermanence".) One doesn't have to suppose that a deity oversees human
events to acknowledge the historical fact that no empire is forever.

And the handwriting is indeed on the wall. This what the moving finger
writes today, on walls in the halls of power all over Washington and on
Wall Street:

Mene, mene. Your days are numbered.

Your dollar's value is falling. Between 2000 and 2009 it fell by 33% in
relation to the euro and 23% to the yen.  And your share in the global GDP
is declining. The EU now leads the U.S., according to IMF figures, at 28%
of the total. The U.S. produces 25% and China and Japan together 17%.  In
1945 the U.S. figure was around 50% of the total. It was over 30% in 2000.
You must accept the inevitability of further decline.

Teke. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

Poll after poll show that the world's people find your government morally
lacking - indeed viciously brutal in pursuit of its imperialist goals.
There has been no change in policy between the Bush and Obama
administrations. Your government slaughters civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan
and Pakistan, increasingly through the cowardly use of drone-fired
missiles. You refuse to punish those responsible for cruel wars based on
lies. You say you will pressure Israel to get its settlers out of the West
Bank, then you back off, because of the power of the Israel Lobby. Your
Congress actually congratulates Israel when it blitzkriegs Gaza or attacks
an aid ship in international waters killing nine unarmed people including
a U.S. citizen. Everyone knows you lie, and cover up atrocities. You have
zero moral credibility in this world.

Upharsim. Your kingdom is divided.

Your society is  deeply, bitterly divided. Income inequality has been
increasing since the 1970s and is the highest in the industrialized world,
resembling the situation as of 1929. The top 1% of households own at least
35% of all privately held wealth and the bottom 80% of households just 15%
of the wealth. The poverty level is back to 1960s (pre-"War on Poverty")
level while the number of millionaires - many of them finance capitalists
deliberately exploiting investors' and home-buyers' gullibility - soars.

Whether your country will retain its current borders, or split up like
Balshazzar's empire, remains to be seen. But the class division is very
real, and the struggle of those most hurt in your society may help bring
your empire down.

Such is the handwriting on the wall. "The moving finger writes," wrote the
great eleventh century Persian poet Omar Khayyam (who had read Daniel and
was alluding to the story of the handwriting on the wall).

Nor all thy piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line
Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.

The empire will fade and decline, like the Roman and Spanish and British
and Soviet, and all other empires before it. Pious evangelicals and
Harvard academicians can't save it.

* * *

I thought about the Daniel story while reading an article in the most
recent issue of the American Conservative. It cites a Chicago Council of
Global Affairs survey that reported "a majority of Americans is taking a
very sensible view of how activist and interventionist the U.S. should be
in the future. There appears to be much more acceptance of relative
decline in U.S. preeminence and the rise of more independent powers".

Specifically, a large majority thinks the U.S. shouldn't be the "world's
policeman," shouldn't try to "solve problems" unilaterally, and welcome
the fact that countries like Turkey and Brazil are becoming more
independent of the U.S. in the conduct of their foreign policy. They think
that rather than trying to limit China's power the U.S. should engage it
and cooperate with it in a friendly way.

I find the report encouraging. Perhaps people are thinking: What is wrong
with allowing others to emerge and share center stage? We're tired of
being in charge of the world.

The neoconservative strategy following the Cold War has been to allow no
rival, to maintain global "supremacy" or "full spectrum dominance". But
how can you do that when China (a generally peaceful power, that happens
to own almost a quarter of the U.S. national debt) threatens to surpass
the U.S. in economic clout within 20 years?

Indeed what is wrong with becoming a Britain or a Spain, or a France or a
Holland or Japan? Generally speaking, people in these countries don't
lament the decline of their empires. Few Japanese want to revive the
empire that once extended from Sakhalin to Samoa. They're content to live
in a normal peaceful country that cooperates with others.

I don't want to idealize any of these advanced capitalist countries. They
remain imperialist in the Leninist sense. Their capitalists export capital
in search of the highest possible rate of profit, and they seek to control
markets and raw materials. They cooperate with the U.S. in its wars of
aggression. They are governed by people whom we can judge seriously
"wanting" and are all in need of radical change. But they have experienced
"relative decline" and lived through it - as the people of this country

Early in this country's history settlers identified with the ancient
Hebrews led out of Egypt into the "Promised Land" of Canaan. They thought
that (just as the Hebrews had taken the land of the Canaanites,
annihilating them in the process at God's command) so God had given North
America to white Europeans. It was their right to take it from the native
"savages". At the time of the Mexican War, the vast expansion of the
republic through military aggression was justified by the "Manifest
Destiny" concept. Obviously it was the destiny of Anglo-Saxons to occupy
the continent, from sea to shining sea - and it didn't stop at the beach.
Jingoists crowed that it was inevitable that the Stars and Stripes would
inevitably be planted across the sea, on the soil of Asia. This of course
was soon realized in the Treaty Ports of Japan, after Japan had been
bullied into opening them by Admiral Perry's threatening visits of 1853-4.
And the flag was raised on the soil of the Philippines in 1898 when the
former Spanish colony was seized by the U.S. There have always been plenty
of (white) people of this country who've thought they were special and had
the right to brutalize inferior peoples. Or at least tell them what to do.

But why not just realize and say: We're just a country like other
countries. Or we would like to be. We reached our peak half a century ago
and are now in decline. And that is okay. During the period of peak
prosperity U.S. military forces killed millions of Koreans and Vietnamese
in order to maintain and expand the empire. This is nothing to be proud
of. In our Cold War confrontation with the Soviet Union we armed and
trained tens of thousands of Islamist warriors to wage jihad against a
secularist regime in Afghanistan, creating in the process groups like the
Taliban and al-Qaeda.

You can get thrown into the lion's den for saying this, but the deeds of
the U.S. have come back to haunt us. There are drawbacks to being an
imperialist, bloodstained superpower.

Why does the U.S., protected by two vast oceans and peaceful borders with
friendly nations, with no significant military rivals, need an empire of
700 bases in 130 countries? Why does it need to pretend to be "protecting"
people (as in Okinawa) who haven't asked for their presence and ask who's
protecting them from the U.S. troops? People who are asking them to please

Why does the U.S. need to constantly topple regimes posing no threat to
itself, always on the basis of lies? Why does it need to bully its allies
(whose people want nothing to do with the Iraq and Afghan wars) to get
support, or to maintain an alliance (NATO) that has long outlived its
original Cold War purpose? Why must it insist on dominance? In whose
interest is all this?

The U.S. ruling elite - including the neocons, the oil barons, the crooked
traders, the Pentagon generals in arms with the arms industry, the idiot
politicians who always vote the way AIPAC tells them to, the whole rung of
top capitalists profiting from the bailout - are like the revelers at
Balshazzar's banquet. They are arrogant plunderers, drinking toasts to the
gods of gold and silver in stolen goblets.

But maybe the party's over.  Fortunately, a system that is illogical and
indefensible is also unsustainable. The Crash of 2008 suggests this, along
with failure in two imperialist wars. I'd come over the years to doubt
Marx's conviction that the overthrow of capitalism was "inevitable,"  but
it remains my hope. And it will happen when people awaken to the fact
that, as Engels once declared (in connection with German occupation of
parts of Poland), a nation that oppresses other nations cannot become
free. The "greater acceptance of decline" suggests that this truth is
dawning on more and more people in this country.

Mene, mene, tekel, upharsim.

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a
secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of
Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male
Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and
Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900.
He is also a contributor to CounterPunch's merciless chronicle of the wars
on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades. He can be reached
at: gleupp [at]

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