Progressive Calendar 12.09.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2010 13:31:48 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   12.09.10

1. Undoc students    12.09 4pm
2. Eagan peace vigil 12.09 4:30pm
3. Northtown vigil   12.09 5pm
4. FBI vs anti-war   12.09 6:30pm
5. Mumia call-in     12.09
6. Call-in v FBI/war 12.09

7. ed              - Pledge 2012 No vote for Obama/12.09.10
8. Stephen Lendman - Challenging Obama's anti-progressivism
9. James McEnteer  - Obama, can this really be the end?
10. Glen Ford      - Obama: the Republican's reliable interlocutor
11. Sen Bernie Sanders - Obama's tax deal is a 'moral outrage'
12. William Astore - The rich get richer, the poor poorer
13. Elise Viebeck  - Nader looking for someone to challenge Obama in 2012
14. Chuck Collins  - Obama tax deal - death spiral to plutocracy
15. Arthur Waskow  - A song: no spine at all

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From: Jason Stone <jason.stone [at]>
Subject: Undoc students 12.09 4pm

NAVIGATE Summit: Allies for MN's Undocumented Students 12/9/10
Register: (

December   9, 2010
Program: 4:00  6:00 p.m. - Reception: 6:00 p.m.
Augsburg  College,  Kennedy Center 303-305

Join NAVIGATE to discuss the challenges Minnesotas undocumented students
face when accessing a college education. In this summit, speakers will
share their legal, professional, and personal experience to give allies
the tools to become more effective supporters and advocates for
undocumented students. - -CEU Credits Available- (On Augsburg College
campus contact Arianna Genis at genis [at] (mailto:
genis [at]

Registration:  $15, also accepted at the door. To be invoiced or to make
other arrangements, contact Annie Levenson-Falk at
alevensonfalk [at] (

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From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 12.09 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.

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

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 12.09 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]

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

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: FBI vs anti-war 12.09 6:30pm

Solidarity in a Post 9-11 World: How the U.S. War on Terrorism Affects
Movements for Peace and Justice at Home and Abroad
Thursday, December 9, 6:30 p.m. Walker Library, Large Meeting Room, 2880
Hennepin Avenue (Hennepin and Lagoon), Minneapolis.

Activists are fighting here to end U.S. military aid to the apartheid
Israeli government and to the death squad government of Colombia.
Meanwhile activists in Palestine and Colombia are fighting for peace with
justice in their homelands. The FBI is investigating the Anti-War
Committee and a U.S. Attorney is using a grand jury to intimidate and
potentially to indict folks on charges of "material support for
terrorism." Come hear from Anti-War Committee members and Bruce Nestor of
the National Lawyers Guild about why our solidarity work is critical and
why now more than ever you should speak out in support of the people of
Palestine and Colombia! Organized by: the Anti-War Committee.

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

From: info [at]
To: Mumia call-in 12.09

We call on all mumia abu-jamal supporters across the globe to join us
Tomorrow, thursday, december 9, 2010 the 29th anniversary of the Beginning
of the legal lynching of mumia, in deluging attorney general Eric holder
and the department of justice with calls and e-mails Demanding a civil
rights investigation into this case now!!!

We are awaiting the decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals as to
whether they will re-impose the death penalty on Mumia, that is, plan to
execute him, or accept the "life in prison without parole" sentence. We
are not sure how long the Court will take to announce its decision, but we
know that regardless of how it decides, those alternatives are totally
unacceptable to us. Mumia is innocent and must be released not only from
death row but from prison.

The Department of Justice has the authority and responsibility to
investigate a case that could only have gotten to this point through the
open and/or tacit collaboration of police, prosecutors, and judges. It is
responsible for police and judiciary misconduct and can offer a variety of
remedies. Amnesty International has now twice called for a new trial and
has twice asserted that neither the trial nor the appeals process met
"minimal international standards safeguarding the fairness of legal
proceedings." Instead of heeding this highly respected organization's
recommendation, the courts are escalating their punitiveness toward Mumia
and moving toward execution.

The Open World Conference Against War and Exploitation, held in Algiers
from November 27 through November 29, just this past month, took a strong
position of support for Mumia and plans to send an international
delegation to Washington to demand justice for him.

Demonstrations were also held and statements were issued in many parts of
the world as the Third Circuit Court of Appeals was debating Mumia's fate
on November 9, and many more protests are planned for tomorrow. The
outrage across the globe at the hypocrisy and viciousness of the United
States on the issue of human rights is palpable.

With this in mind:

Call the department of justice tomorrow, december 9, and demand a civil
rights investigation. Explain forcefully but politely that you are fully
aware that the doj has jurisdiction over such extensive police,
prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct as has been involved in mumia's

I cite amnesty international's assessment of the case as not meeting
minimal constitutional or international standards for legal proceedings

Ii   refer to the fact that in 2001, a judge in this case, pamela dembe,
ruled that the report that the judge in the original case, albert sabo,
said to another judge, "i'm going to help them fry the nigger" did not
show racist rulings or bias in that judge's court behavior

Iii   refer to the withholding of evidence from mumia:

A.  The polokoff photographs, which are hard evidence

1.  challenging the prosecutor's version of what happened on December 9,
1981 (there are no divots in the sidewalk where they would be if the
prosecutor's scenario were accurate)

2.  witness perjury (the taxi that one of the witnesses claimed to be
present is nowhere to be seen)

3.  and police tampering with evidence

B.  The fact that a fourth person was at the scene of the crime, which
The police and prosecutor knew about but did not share with mumia's

You cannot cite all of this, but pick one or two points or just list the
evidence of Mumia's innocence briefly to demonstrate that you are
knowledgeable about the case.

Department of Justice phone numbers:
202 353-1555 Comment Line Open 24 hours
202 514-2000 Switchboard Open 24 hours

If you are sending an e-mail, you can just refer to the "extensive
evidence of police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct" as justifying
a civil rights investigation. Attorney General Eric Holder's e-mail
address is
AskDoJ [at], and his fax number is  202 397-6777

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC)
PO Box 16
College Station
New York, NY 10030

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From: kim defranco <kimdefranco [at]>
Subject: Call-in vs FBI/war 12.09

Call Off the Grand Jury Witch-hunt Against Anti-war and Solidarity
Activists! Stop FBI Repression!

Call U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at 312-353-5300, then dial 0 (zero)
for operator and ask to leave a message with the Duty Clerk (paralegal).

You could say:  "My name is __________, I am from _______(city), in
______(state).  I am calling U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to demand
that he call off the Grand Jury and stop FBI repression against the
anti-war and international solidarity movements.  I oppose political
repression and defend the right to free speech and right to assembly of
the 19 activists subpoenaed."

UPDATE: Two more people were subpoenaed on Thursday Dec. 8. That brings
to total number of subpoenas to 19. Look for an update later today or

Please send a short message to stopfbi [at] to let us know that you

Background info from our Dec. 7 alert:
Fitzgerald Expands Repression with 3 New Subpoenas in Chicago

Under the direction of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's office, the FBI
is expanding their repression of anti-war and Palestine solidarity
activists in Chicago.  On Friday, December 3, 2010, the FBI targeted three
young women who traveled to Palestine together last summer.  After the FBI
called to question a young Jewish-American woman Sarah Smith, FBI agents
knocked on the door of two young Palestinian-American sisters. One sister
was already on the phone with lawyer Jim Fennerty and handed the phone to
the FBI, causing the FBI to leave.  The FBI agents soon returned however
with subpoenas to the Grand Jury targeting anti-war and solidarity
activists, dated for January 25, 2011.  The three are standing strong with
the other 14 subpoenaed activists from Illinois, Minneapolis, and
Michigan.  Over 100 people protested in Chicago on Monday against the
expanding repression.

Help Keep 3 Minneapolis Women Out of Jail

Fitzgerald's new wave of repression comes a week after the re-activation
of subpoenas for three Palestine solidarity activist women in Minneapolis.
Tracy Molm, Anh Pham, and Sarah Martin are being asked to appear before
the Grand Jury again, despite refusing to speak in October.  In
Minneapolis and other cities the week of actions demanded "Protest to keep
Anh, Tracy, and Sarah, out of jail!" Lawyers for each of the three are
meeting with Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox this week.  However, on
orders from Fitzgerald's office, the FBI shenanigans continue with visits
to anti-war activist's homes.

So please stand with the 17 subpoenaed anti-war and solidarity activists
and make a phone call to Fitzgerald at 312-353-5300.

**Please sign and circulate our petition at
Visit or write StopFBI [at] or call 612-379-3585.

Thank you,
Tom Burke
for the Committee to Stop FBI Repression

MN list serve:
and, check your Spam folder!

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

From: David Shove <shove001 [at]>
Subject: Pledge 2012 No vote for Obama/12.09.10

[Here, after a 3 month rest, is your chance to pledge no vote for Obama in
2012. Each month, week, day, gives more reasons for the pledge. See
several of the articles posted below for more new reasons. -ds]

Pledge 2012 No vote for Obama

Some of Barack Obama's bad actions:
 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan
 record high military budget
 bombing by unmanned drones in Pakistan
 continued Iraq war
 rejection of landmine treaty
 continued torture and coverup of past torture
 support for Honduras coup
 support for Israeli occupation of Palestine
 suppression of Goldstone Gaza war report
 bank bailout
 no prosecution or even investigation of Bush & Co
 reaffirmation of Patriot Act
 for insurance companies & vs single payer
 support for expanded nuclear power

For these, and many other bad actions,

 We the undersigned publicly pledge not to vote for Barack Obama for
 US president in 2012.

 Robert Halfhill
 Amber Garlan
 Tom Cleland
 David Weisberg
 Dave Bicking
 Andy Hamerlinck
 Doug Mann
 Ted Dooley
 Melissa Hill
 Dori Ullman
 Ryan Carey
 Jan McGee
 Bill Oldfather
 Carol Mellom
 Michelle Gross
 Mike Whelan
 Robert Palmer
 Tom Dooley
 Tim Nolan
 Johnny Hazard
 Suzanne Linton
 Michael Cavlan
 Steven Boyer
 John Simcox
 Louise Bouta
 Vanessa Vogl
 Lisa Grant
 M J Schoen
 Clinton Dietrich
 Lydia Howell
 Farheen Hakeem
 Jan Nye
 Margaret Beegle
 Dave Berger
 Brandy Baker (MD)
 Myles Hoenig (MD)
 Danene Provencher
 Donald L Maxwell
 Neil Lageson
 Molly Reiter
 Mustafa Adam
 Bob Schmitz
 Mary Metchnek
 Dan Dittman
 James Benthall [Rochester MN]
 Maria Balla
 Alan Maki
 Judy Bjorke
 Kenny Kalligher
 Diane Williams
 Paul Busch
 Tony Hunnicutt
 Alan Makinen
 Nolan Zavoral
 Hans Simons
 David Shove

 [room for YOUR name]

==end of pledge

To sign this pledge, send to shove001 [at] an email from your
standard personal email address, with your name, and the words: No Obama
2012 vote.

The above will be published regularly on the Progressive Calendar, Green
Party lists, etc. Continuing chances for additional people to sign.

 If you need to research any topic raised here, go to eg:
  Dissident Voice
  Common Dreams
 Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones

MD = Maryland

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

Challenging Obama's Anti-Progressivism
by Stephen Lendman
December 7th, 2010
Dissident Voice

Believing Obama is progressive is like calling a cat a dog. Only the
delusional think so. He's, in fact, hard-right, a neocon, a warrior
president, a corporatist pursuing anti-populist policies favoring wealth
and privilege, not social justice when more than ever it's needed.

He's a fraud, an elitist, chosen years ago, then put on a fast track to
power. Big monied interests love him. So do war profiteers and members of
America's aristocracy. He's one of them.

Only the voting millions who backed him were defrauded. Will they awaken,
finally understand, and express their ire publicly more strongly than in
mid-term theatrics, throwing out bums for new ones? It's high time. A year
two Obama assessment is coming. Watch for it, parts I and II. A year one
analysis can be accessed here and here.

Definitions of Progressivism

Merriam Webster defines it as people "believing in moderate political
change and especially social improvement by governmental action". The
Oxford Dictionary says it's anyone "advocating or implementing social
reform or new, liberal ideas". Wikipedia calls it a "political attitude
favoring or advocating changes or reforms through governmental action".

Progressivism began in the 19th century to end slavery, support women's
rights including suffrage, small farmers, and political populism; namely,
social reforms benefitting ordinary Americans;  citizens having more
control over government;  establishing comprehensive education as a
universal right;  curbing excessive corporate power;  eliminating
corruption and waste; supporting organized labor;  laws to prevent child
worker exploitation;  environmental conservation; and more stressing
social values above financial gain.

Obama's agenda is mirror opposite - anti-progressive/populist/liberal.
Judge him by his advisors and top officials. They support power, not
working Americans. Their policies are pro-war, pro-business,
pro-privilege, pro-super wealth, anti-dissent, anti-democracy,
anti-freedom, anti-civil and human rights, anti-environmental sanity, and
anti-government of, by and for the people. They oppose virtually
everything most people want, need but don't get under either party, one a
near clone of the other.

After eight Bush/Cheney/Republican years, Americans wanted change. Obama's
promise won the most sweeping non-incumbent victory in over 50 years,
along with congressional Democrats gaining large House and Senate

Out with the old. In with the new. Everything changed but stayed the same.
In fact, it worsened with perhaps greater harshness coming in Obama's next
two years, including escalated imperial wars, neoliberal austerity,
greater than ever impoverishment, desperation and despair, as well as
hardened repression to curb popular anger.

Surprisingly, however, Obama's approval rating still hovers close to 50%.
On December 6, the conservative Rasmussen Reports Daily Presidential
Tracking Poll said "47% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of
the president's performance. Fifty-three percent (53%) disapprove". It
also found 28% strongly approve, 41% strongly disapproving, "giving Obama
a Presidential Approval Index rating of -13". It's about the same one he's
had all year despite greater numbers being harmed, a trend showing no sign
of abating.

One progressive, Tikkun's Rabbi Michael Lerner, expressed concern in a
December 4 Washington Post op-ed headlined, "Save Obama's presidency by
challenging him on the left," saying:

People who used to say, "Give (Obama) more time" when (he) was criticized
for capitulating to the right, or who argued that (he) must have a plan to
turn things around, are now largely depressed and angry.

If so, polls like Rasmussen's don't show it, at least not convincingly.
Lerner, however, believes "many liberals and progressives" are mad about
Obama's unwillingness to veto "tax relief for billionaires," besides
continued imperial wars, escalated in Afghanistan, abandoning the health
care public option, refusal to prosecute Bush war criminals, and his
overall unpopular agenda.

Instead of condemning Obama and congressional Democrats, Lerner worries
mostly about "a full-scale Republican return to power in 2012". A
"disaster" he said, given their economic policies and environmental
record, as well as disdain for social justice and world peace.

Clearly, Lerner's been largely AWOL during the past two years, mindless
that Obama's extremism exceeded Bush and that Democrats overall are as
hardline as Republicans. Their rhetoric alone differs. On core issues like
war and peace, corporatism, police state repression, and environmental
pillaging, there's not a dime's worth of difference between them, what
Lerner and other progressives should understand, highlight, repeat, and
preach to their faithful, not believe leopards can change spots.

He does, wanting Obama to be "the candidate whom most Americans believed
they elected in 2008:" the myth, not the man whom James Petras calls:

"the perfect incarnation of Melville's Confidence Man. He catches your eye
while he picks your pocket. He gives thanks as he packs you off to
imperial wars. The "first Jewish president," he "unconditional(ly)
support(s the) pro-Israeli Lobby and the colonial expansionist and
bellicose policies of the Jewish state".

Liberals, progressives, and intellectuals who "support a politician who
publicly and openly embraces new wars, billionaire bailouts," and mass
privatizations, including essential services like health care, Medicare,
education, perhaps Social Security, and more are what C. Wright Mills
called "crackpot realists" . Their followers are what Walter Lippman
described as the "bewildered herd," clueless of the world around them,
mostly how gravely they and their loved ones are harmed.

No matter. Lerner, and others like him, want Obama's presidency saved -
"by challenging him in the 2012 presidential primaries with a candidate
who would unequivocally commit to a well-defined progressive agenda and
contrast it with" his.

Those Democrats, however, don't exist, and progressive independents aren't
welcome in a party embracing Democrat Leadership Council (DLC) extremism.
As neocon as Republicans, they're anti-populist, anti-environmental
sanity, anti-labor, anti-welfare, anti-peace, pro-business, pro-privilege,
pro-war, pro-Israeli belligerency and occupation, and pro-imperial
zealotry for global dominance.

They support super-wealth and oppose social justice for Blacks, Hispanics,
Latino immigrants, Muslims, working Americans, the poor and disadvantaged,
consumer protections, populism, progressivism, honest elections, human and
civil rights, and democratic values. [In short, they are not good men, not
be trusted, especially with our lives and future. -ed]

Obama buys it, governing accordingly. Believing he can be shoved to the
left is "crackpot" lunacy. So is thinking congressional Democrats can, any
of them. They cannot, what checking their voting records show, supporting
pro-war defense budgets, Obamacare, pro-Wall Street finance reform,
pro-agribusiness food "safety," pro-Big Oil/Wall Street cap and trade, and
much more. [Not good men. -ed]

Progressives? Hardly! They're not likely to change - not now, next year,
in 2012 or thereafter. They won't follow Lerner's platform embracing
"love, kindness and generosity. .a new New Deal..(a) Caring Society:
.Caring for Each Other and the Earth.. "  They support same old, same old,
business as usual, softened only rhetorically.

It's high time Lerner and other progressives understood, concluding other
ways must be found for change outside the two-party dictatorship -
independents committed to populism, real elections, excluding big money
donors, social justice, civil and human rights, democratic values, and
unconditionally ending imperial wars and occupations immediately, as well
as slashing the defense budget, closing all overseas bases, and cutting
force levels, no ifs, ands or buts.

In today's environment, however, achieving those goals is enormously
challenging. But it's no reason not to try! To borrow a phrase, there is
no alternative.

A Final Comment

On December 6, the New York Times reported Obama's capitulation to
Republicans on extending the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich on income,
capital gains, and dividends. Also on their federal estate tax that lapsed
at the start of 2010. Despite their rhetorical disapproval, congressional
Democrats will likely concur, while at the same time agreeing to deep
austerity cuts for working Americans.

Obama again showed his allegiance to wealth and power. The two-party
dictatorship is venal and broken. Replacing it with real progressive
change is vital. Indeed, there is no alternative!

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. Contact him at:
lendmanstephen [at] Also visit his blog site and listen to The
Global Research News Hour on Mondays from
11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished
guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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

Acid Reflux Flashbacks
Obama, Can This Really be the End?
December 8, 2010

To be stuck with Bush's tax cuts and progressive blues again... I can't
wait any longer. I'm putting on my t-shirt that says: "I voted for Hope
and Change and all I got was Bubba Lite."

I'm having classic Sixties flashbacks, like to '64, when Lyndon Johnson
tarred his presidential opponent Barry Goldwater as a crazy warmonger,
then escalated Vietnam into a hella conflict. Guantanamo's still in
business. Fifty thousand troops remain in Iraq and it's clear now that
some always will.

Afghanistan, a famously hopeless quagmire for invaders long before the
Soviets spent their blood and treasure there two decades ago, remains a
sinkhole of American hopes and ideals. What would victory there look like?
O when will they ever learn? O when will we ever learn?

Now we know why Obama won't prosecute Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld for
crimes against the Constitution and humanity. He's following their

For liberals, what could be worse than George WTF Bush? How about a
well-spoken version of that putz, who knows better but continues all his
uncivilized policies anyway?

Then it's one, two, three, what are we voting for? Don't ask me, we don't
have a voice. All we've got is Hobson's Choice. Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle

With millions of Americans unemployed where are the strategies for job
creation? Investments in infrastructure? Education? Only the military is
hiring. They've got turnover. What are they/we fighting for again? Oil?
Goldman Sachs? Weapons testing? Are we for or against the Pakistanis? The
Turks? The Argentines? Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?

Wikileaks reveals cynical, duplicitous U.S. State Department machinations.
But unlike the Pentagon Papers, these new data dumps don't surprise a
jaded, already shell-shocked public. Some things and people have changed
since the 60s. No one these days expects our government or mass media to
tell the truth.

Hillary Clinton now condemns the transparency of government she once
favored back in the day at Wellesley. She's gone over to the Dark Side
now, where Bill O'Reilly and other right-wing screamers demand Death to
Julian Assange!

Wikileaks underscores how the so-called U.S. "news establishment"
professionals are mere mouthpieces for their corporate/political masters.
Real reporting threatens them. The U.S. is spying on its allies and has a
low opinion of almost all foreign leaders? Death to Julian Assange!

Just as Obama held out hope for the Republicans long after all hope was
gone, I held out hope for Obama long after his actions and inactions
exposed the ugly truth. He may never give up on John Boehner and Mitch
McConnell. But I have finally finally given up on him.

Let's have a REAL election in 2012. Screw the Paralyzed, Compromised
Center. Who is their constituency? Screw the lesser of two evils. Let's
get the whole country emotionally involved at last and figure out who we
really want to be. Stop with the tiptoes!

Let the Tea Party nominate Sarah Palin while the Republican Establishment
puts up Mitt Romney. Democratic Regulars can stand behind Obama if they
must. It's time for progressives to nominate someone else, someone real,
who will walk the walk, not just lip sync the talk.

Those of us on the left who backed Obama as the Anti-Bush have been
betrayed. He resembles Bill Clinton in '92, who knew what progressives
wanted to hear, then raced right to save his political life, selling his
shriveled soul for "Welfare Reform." Same old same old.

Rahm Emmanuel and Joe Biden told us to stop whining because Obama's all
we've got. Go piss up a rope, guys.

Obama's not with us or for us and now it's painfully clear he never was.
As they used to say in the Sixties, if you're not part of the solution,
you're part of the problem. That's Barack around the clock. I voted for
him in 2008 but I won't vote for him in 2012 if he runs unopposed.

James McEnteer is not entirely certain what happened in the 1960s, but he
was there.

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

Published on Wednesday, December 8, 2010 by Black Agenda Report
Obama: The Republican's Reliable Interlocutor
by Glen Ford
Common Dreams

Barack Obama reacted reflexively to Monday's orchestration of angry calls
to the White House by lefties outraged at his latest grand accommodation
with the GOP, spending much of his Tuesday press conference attempting a
limp smack-down of Left Democrats. Oozing condescension and a certain
cattiness, Obama dismissed Democratic critics for playing "games" while he
did what was necessary to wring an unemployment benefits extension from
the Republicans. As Obama tells it, he stood like a pragmatic rock - if
one can imagine such a thing - between the Republican "hostage-takers" and
the "purist" and "sanctimonious" Democrats - a party of one.

The president harkened back to "the debate that we had during health care"
when much of his party complained that he was too "willing to compromise"
with Republicans and bargained away the public option. Actually, Obama was
determined from the start of his presidency to conspire with Republicans
and corporate leaders to derail any possibility of a bill that might set
the stage for single-payer legislation in 2009 or some future Congress.
Instead, Obama protected private insurers by locking them so tightly into
the system that it will be near impossible to dislodge them in the
foreseeable future. Obama accomplished this, not just by ruthlessly
marginalizing single-payer supporters, but also by choosing his own
congressional operatives and effectively bypassing Democratic leadership -
much the same m.o. as in his latest "compromise" with the GOP. He wielded
the power of the White House and the false lure of bipartisanism to
utterly smash the left half of his party, deriding the dwindling "public
option" holdouts as starry-eyed perfectionists who had become the enemies
of the good - a performance he reprised on Tuesday in lambasting critics
of deal with the GOP on taxes on the rich.

In the course of the long health care battle - a struggle waged entirely
within Democratic ranks - Obama let the air out of the Democratic balloon,
and the GOP steadily rose from its valley of near-death. The Republicans
wound up conceding nothing on health care, while their corporate patrons
won more than they could have dared imagine back on Election Day, 2008,
when it seemed that single-payer was an idea whose time had come.

The health care victory that Obama still celebrates was a defeat of fellow
Democrats by the combination of a solid Republican minority, the right
wing of congressional Democrats, and Obama's White House. This is Obama's
formula for governance - what I call his "comfort zone" - a political
space previously inhabited by Bill Clinton. Whatever the Clintons and
Obama think about each other on the personal level, they have together
laid a great money pipeline that flows from Wall Street to the coffers of
corporate Democrats - most dramatically, bankrolling much of Obama's $700
million presidential campaign. In return, Obama reinstated the Clinton
finance capitalist team that had a decade earlier reversed Franklin
Roosevelt's New Deal banking regulations. Obama turned the Wall Streeters
loose to engineer the greatest transfer of wealth in human history - an
ongoing project that has in less than two years transformed the U.S.
Treasury and Federal Reserve into sugar daddies and guarantors of finance
capital, worldwide, at a cost of tens of trillions of dollars. The
bailouts have melded with and overshadowed in the public mind Obama's
tepid 2009 stimulus, so that Republicans can speak effectively of the two
phenomena as if they are the same thing - a trick made much easier by the
fact that Obama also rhetorically linked the bailouts and stimulus as
one-two Democratic economic punches.

With the Democrat Party, particularly the First Black President, so
thoroughly and deservedly identified with Wall Street, the Republicans
were empowered to pull off what would have previously been thought
impossible: the GOP's brown-shirted wing, the white supremacist-based Tea
Party, which purports to abhor government and, therefore, regulation,
claimed with some success to be the anti-bailout, anti-Wall Street party.
Meanwhile, Obama guided the Democrats to pass a fraudulent financial
regulation bill that left the derivatives casino-economy intact, if not
more strongly entrenched.

The Great Recession, which by all historical rights should have sent the
Republicans into eclipse for a generation, instead saw a miraculous GOP
rebound that left the Democrats shattered and pitifully incoherent. That's
the real big picture of Obama's brief presidency - a period of
breathtaking dissolution of the Democratic Party as Obama facilitated the
swallowing whole of the American state by Wall Street.

Obama doesn't really want folks to take the long view of his time in
office. His modus operandi after every debacle is to claim to have rescued
bits and pieces of the Democratic agenda from GOP savaging: a health care
bill that, in total, is worse than none at all, a financial "reform"
unworthy of the name. He early in his term set in motion his infernal
deficit reduction commission, knowing it would attack social spending
across the board, so that he could later "rescue" selected programs from
extinction and claim saviorhood. Obama will claim to have "saved"
extension of unemployment benefits by this week's "compromise" with the
Republican minority in the lame duck Congress when, in reality, it is
Obama's center-right modalities of governance and back-channel dealings
that have allowed the GOP minority to behave like a majority.

The overarching truth of the last two years Is that Obama has been at
constant war with the New Deal and the left hemisphere of his party,
acting as Wall Street's Trojan Horse in the White House. Tuesday's press
conference starred an unrepentant, unreconstructed, center-right,
corporate operative who sees his primary duty as destroying what remains
of the Democrat's progressive legacy. And the first term of the disaster
is less than half over.

 2010 Black Agenda Report
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
Glen.Ford [at]

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

Published on Tuesday, December 7, 2010 by
Senator Bernie Sanders: Obama's Tax Deal is a 'Moral Outrage'
Statement by Senator Bernie Sanders

WASHINGTON - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement
today on the agreement announced Monday between the White House and
congressional Republicans:

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been among the most outspoken critics on
Capitol Hill of Obama's capitulation to the GOP on extending tax benefits
for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.  He called it a 'moral outrage' and
vowed to do all in his power to "defeat this agreement.""In my view, it is
a moral outrage that at a time when this country has a $13.8 trillion
national debt, a collapsing middle class and a growing gap between the
very rich and everybody else that the Republicans would deny extended
unemployment benefits to 2 million workers who are desperately struggling
to pay their bills and maintain their dignity. It is also beyond
comprehension that the Republicans would hold hostage the entire middle
class of this country so that millionaires and billionaires would receive
huge tax breaks. In my view, that is not what this country is about and it
is not what the American people want to see. Our job is to save the
disappearing middle class, not lower taxes for people who are already
extraordinarily wealthy and increase the national debt that our children
and grandchildren would have to pay.

"The immediate political task in front of us is to rally the American
people so that in the next several weeks we can find at least a few
Republicans who will join us in saying no to increasing the deficit by
giving tax breaks to the wealthy and no to holding the unemployed and the
middle class hostage.

"I believe that we have the American people on our side on this issue. My
office, and I come from a small state, has received more than 600 calls
today, 99 percent of them in opposition to this so-called compromise that
the president negotiated with the Republicans.

"I will do everything in my power to stand up for the American middle
class and defeat this agreement."

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

Published on Tuesday, December 7, 2010 by The Huffington Post
The Rich Get Richer, the Poor Poorer
by William Astore

More tax breaks for the rich in exchange for another year's worth of
unemployment benefits for the desperate: Now there's a compromise that
makes me proud to be an American. My father wouldn't have been surprised.
He grew up during the Great Depression and worked in factories before he
was drafted and served in the Army during World War II. Dad told me that
the harder he worked (physically), the less he got paid. And he told me
there was nothing like repetitive and physically-grueling factory work to
make you want to improve yourself. By becoming a civil servant (a
firefighter), he escaped the factory and its dismal pay for a job that
paid enough to provide five children with a lower-middle-class existence.

Today's political elites seem to think that the proper way to stimulate
economic growth is to empower the exploiters. That way, some of their
enormous wealth will trickle down on the little people. My father knew
from experience that it usually wasn't money that trickled down from the
high heights of the rich.

In the spirit of the holiday season, here's a story from my Dad that
recounts his attempt to get a dime pay raise at the local factory.
Consider it a parable for the realities our working classes face day in
and day out in this country:

It seems that Mike Calabrese on his own asked Harry Callahan [one of the
owners] for a pay raise and he was refused. Mike decided to organize the
men members and go down in a group. In our group he got ten men to
approach Harry C. for a raise. But when it was time to "bell the cat" only
three fellows went to see Harry. Well Mike said he couldn't join the group
because he had already tried to get a raise. I knew I was being used but I
was entitled to a raise. Well Harry said to me, "What can I do for you
men?" So I said to Harry: 1) Living costs were going up; 2) We deserved a
raise. So Harry said, "How much?" and I said ten cents an hour would be a
fair raise. So he said I'll give you a nickel an hour raise and later
you'll get the other nickel. We agreed. So, I asked Harry will everyone
get a raise and he replied, "Only the ones that I think deserve it."

Well a month later I was drinking water at the bubbler and Harry saw me
and said what a hard job they had to get the money to pay our raises.
Well, Willie, Harry Callahan and his brother Sam and their two other
Italian brother partners all died millionaires. No other truer saying
than, "That the rich have no sympathy or use for the poor."

Today, Americans are uncomfortable calling attention to pay discrepancies
and exploitation because it smacks of class warfare or even Marxism. It's
true that some of the worst abuses have been curbed (for example, my
father worked from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. without the benefit of overtime pay or
time-and-a-half), but today's workers are simply scared: scared that their
jobs will be outsourced, scared that they'll be fired; scared that they'll
be replaced by automated robots. Thus they put up and shut up.

So, what's the moral to the story? Our president promised hope and change.
"Hope" has come in the form of more tax breaks for the rich. And "change"?
To paraphrase my father: No truer saying than "that politicians have no
sympathy or use for the poor."

Copyright  2010, Inc.
Professor Astore writes regularly for and can be reached
at wjastore [at]

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

Published on Thursday, December 9, 2010 by The Hill
Nader: I am Looking for Someone to Challenge Obama in 2012
by Elise Viebeck
Common Dreams

Perennial third-party candidate Ralph Nader predicted on Wednesday that
President Obama's tax deal with Republicans will earn him a primary
challenge in 2012.

Consumer advocate, author, and Presidential candidate Ralph Nader in this
file photo. Nader had harsh words for the president's approach to
politics: "He has no fixed principles. He's opportunistic . he goes for
expedience, like Clinton." (NBC News)Though he wouldn't rule out another
presidential campaign himself, Nader, 76, said he hoped a new face would
take up the progressive cause.

"I'm not foreclosing the possibility ... There are just other things to
do," he said in an interview. "And it's time for someone else to continue.
I've done it so many times. When I go around the country, I'm telling
people they need to find somebody."

Nader, a consumer advocate, described the immense procedural difficulty -
the "obstructions and litigations" - of appearing on the ballot in every
state as a third-party candidate. He ran under the Green Party banner in
1996 and 2000 and as an independent in 2004 and 2008, and earned less than
3 percent of the overall vote each time.

He said Obama's decision to allow tax-cut extensions for the wealthy in
the lame-duck deal betrays the progressives who supported his campaign in
2008 and called the president a "con man."

"There will be a primary," Nader said. "Just a question of how prominent a
person [will run against Obama]. This deal is the last straw."

"Obama's position has been that the liberal, progressive wing has nowhere
to go, therefore they can't turn their back on the administration. But a
challenge will hold his feet to the fire and signal that we do have
somewhere to go."

The tax deal, a blow to progressives, has prompted media speculation about
such a challenge, although no names have been aired. Outgoing Sen. Russ
Feingold (D-Wis.), one of the chamber's most reliably liberal voices, has
said he's not interested.

"He [Obama] keeps one step away from the liberal progressive grasp," Nader
said, describing the mood among on the left. "He's always just one step
ahead from them grabbing his neck."

Nader had harsh words for the president's approach to politics: "He has no
fixed principles. He's opportunistic - he goes for expedience, like
Clinton. Some call him temperamentally conflict-averse. If you want to be
harsher, you say he has no prlnciples and he's opportunistic."

"He's a con man. I have no use for him," Nader said.

In the 2000 election, Nader was criticized for contributing to Al Gore's
defeat by taking votes from the left. He said then and again on Wednesday
that the progressive agenda must be on the national ballot every four

"These are majoritarian positions. The polling shows that. Living wage,
single payer, cracking down on corporate crime. ... It's time for someone
to continue this."

 2010 The Hill

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

Published on Thursday, December 9, 2010 by
Obama Tax Deal Further Concentrates Wealth and Power: Stop the Death
Spiral to Plutocracy
by Chuck Collins

In 2010, an essential moral test of a public policy choice is: Does it
further concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a few?

Or does it disperse concentrated wealth and power and strengthen
possibilities for a democratic society with greater equality, improved
health and well-being, shared prosperity and ecological sustainability?

Does it move us toward Plutocracy or Peace and Plenty?

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, "We can have democracy or
concentrated wealth. But we cannot have both."

By the Brandeis Test, President Obama's "Tax Compromise" fails. By
extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and instituting a
significantly weakened estate tax, more wealth will flow into the hands of
the richest one percent and within that to richest one-tenth of one

Most of us are aware of President Obama's willingness to trade away his
campaign promise to let the tax cuts for high income households expire.
This will cost $60 billion next year and an estimated $700 billion if it
is permanently extended.

But Obama also backed away from his position on the federal estate tax,
which was to freeze it at 2009 levels (wealth exempted to $3.5 million, 45
percent rate). He now supports the Kyl-Lincoln amendment which would raise
the exemption to $5 million ($10 million for a couple) and drop the rate
to 35 percent. The cost difference between these two measures is at least
$100 billion over ten years.

For the last generation, this richest one percent, with some admirable
exceptions, has been using its considerable wealth and clout to push for
public policy changes that have further concentrated wealth.
We are now in what I could characterize as "Death Spiral To Plutocracy."
As wealth concentrates, a hyper-organized segment of this wealth-holder
class uses its wealth, privilege and power to change the rules of the
economy to further concentrate wealth and privilege.

The logical progression of these policies is a society governed by wealth,
a modern high-tech version of the Gilded Age of 1900.

For thirty years, liberal Presidents and Democratic Congress members have
cut deals with a growing a bi-partisan (mostly Republican Party)
Pro-Plutocracy faction. We've won victories for working families family
leave, increased minimum wage, expanded health care, middle class tax cuts
but the price has always been very expensive tax cuts for the wealthy and
corporations. Under Clinton and Bush II, you couldn't get anything faintly
progressive done without a big bone to the wealthy or corporate class
another capital gains tax cut or corporate loophole.

Such compromises have been central to the Obama political strategy: To get
a stimulus package to save the economy, Congress allocates a third of $780
billion for tax breaks to corporations (and still didn't get one GOP

To get broader health care coverage for the uninsured, lawmakers surrender
the "public option" that would have forced competition and cut into the
power and profits of the health industry cartel.

To get a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau included in the June 2010
financial reform bill, lawmakers allow Wall Street to keep its risky
casino operation in place laying the groundwork for future bubbles,
meltdowns and bailouts.

This is a very costly strategy. It diverts trillions of dollars from the
Treasury that could be used for long overdue investments in
infrastructure, education, energy independence things that could truly
boost the real economy. But worse, it sets up future political battles
where the very wealthy and powerful corporations continue to have most of
the ammo. In the post "Citizens United" campaign finance environment, this
is premeditated surrender.

There are only a few ways to intervene to prevent the "Death Spiral to
Plutocracy" and reverse course. They all require an engaged citizenry to
clearly say: "We want an economy that serves everyone, not just the

The first intervention is through progressive income, wealth and estate
taxes. We urgently need to reinstitute a progressive estate tax. Instead
of cutting a deal to institute the Republican estate tax proposal that
greatly weakens the law, Congress should press for the Responsible Estate
Tax Act which would chip away at concentrated wealth.
The second is through robust campaign finance reform that closes the nexus
between wealth and political power. Anything that puts a speed bump
between wealth and political influence helps slow the Death Spiral.

The third is to mobilize the silent faction of the wealthy elites that
actually see their stake in the common good. Not everyone in the
wealth-holding class are actively lobbying to protect their power and
privilege. We need a progressive counter-weight to organized defenders of
power and privilege. The Wealth for the Common Good network is an
inspiring start with several thousand business leaders and wealthy
individuals advocating for policies to broaden prosperity and opportunity.
They can counter the deep mythology around wealth creation and
deservedness that often justify tax cuts for the wealthy and support the
positions of engaged citizens.
Senator Bernard Sanders is proposing a filibuster against the tax cuts and
he plans to read hundreds of documents about the dangers of extreme
inequality in the U.S. Let's all take a similar stand in our own lives and
urge our elected officials to do the same.

Chuck Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies
where he directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good
( He is co-author of The Moral Measure of the
Economy (Orbis Books) and with Bill Gates Sr. of Wealth and Our
Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes (Beacon).

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

[Here's the song as I got it on the internet. It's fun to sing Obama has
no spine at all, where his main fault is weakness. But he is not weak - he
is strong for the wrong people (the elite); not weak but unscrupulous. "No
scruples at all" has one too many syllables (scru ples), so to stick with
body parts but come closer to the truth, "No heart at all." Not a fool
or a coward, but a heartless calculating knave. -ed]

From: Arthur Waskow [mailto:Awaskow [at]]
Subject: A Song: No Spine at All

No Spine at All, No Spine at All --
We Elected a President with No Spine at All!

This song for the winter of our discontent has its roots in a folk song
with a few words much bawdier than these.  You can click to get the melody
You're welcome to forward the version below to anyone you like.

Regards  --  Arthur

 No Spine at All

 Now listen America, a story you'll hear.
 A song I will sing you; 'twill fill you with fear.
 A charming young President we elected one Fall.
 But we voted for a man who had no spine at all.

 CHORUS: No spine at all, No spine at all.
 We elected a President who has no spine at all!

 On Inaugural Day our land was aghast:
 Homes were foreclosing, and jobs failing fast.
 We awaited with hope the trumpet's loud call;
 But from the White House -- no spine at all!

 CHORUS: No spine at all, No spine at all.
 We elected a President who has no spine at all!

 Americans all, oh, what shall we do?
 His Treasury Sec knows just who to screw!~
 He's in bed with the big banks that ruined us all;
 While billionaires laugh: "He has no spine at all!"

 CHORUS: No spine at all, No spine at all.
 We elected a President who has no spine at all!

 It isn't a matter of woman or man --
 We need a leader who MEANS "Yes we can!"
 We could sure use a woman who knows we need jobs,
 Not one who panders to Tea Party mobs!!

 CHORUS: No spine at all, No spine at all.
 We elected a President who has no spine at all!

 Bring back our kids from dying abroad
 In an Afghan War that the generals called.
 With a president who wants to spend money at home
 Building OUR nation, not  Imperial Rome.

 CHORUS: No spine at all, No spine at all.
 We elected a President who has no spine at all!

 We loved what he said so well about race;
 But when jobs disappeared at a very fast pace,
 It was Blacks and Browns who first fell from the vine
 And suffered from policies missing real spine.

 CHORUS: No spine at all, No spine at all.
 We elected a President who has no spine at all!

 Break up the poisoners -- Big Oil and Big Coal,
 Help wind and sun energy meet our climate's real goal.
 The earth is suffering while the rich have a ball --
 But to fix it takes a Movement with strong spine and all.

 CHORUS: No spine at all, No spine at all.
 We elected a President who has no spine at all!

 Somewhere are leaders who won't make us sad;
 Who don't think three Roosevelts were a mere passing fad.
 Brave women and men who will answer the call
 Of a country not willing to collapse and fall.

 CHORUS: No spine at all, No spine at all.
 Let's replace a President who has no spine at all!


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