|Progressive Calendar 12.16.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2010 14:09:43 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 12.16.10 1. Eagan peace vigil 12.16 4:30pm 2. Northtown vigil 12.16 5pm 3. Anti-war 12.16 6pm 4. Clothes for kids 12.16 7pm 5. Stop FBI 12.16 7pm 6. War v MN dissent 12.16 7pm Northfield MN 7. Farmer Labor Party 12.16 7pm 8. Immigration 12.16 7pm 9. Ralph Nader - Millions will pay the bills for Obama's failures 10. Robert Weissman - Corporate and congressional crimes & disasters 11. Jack Random - The Clinton pivot: Obama sells the farm 12. Robert Scheer - Return of the great triangulator 13. Mickey Z. - The United States of war criminals 14. ed - Bumpersticker 15. ed - Breaking news --------1 of 15-------- From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com> Subject: Eagan peace vigil 12.16 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. --------2 of 15-------- From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 12.16 5pm NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. We'll have extra signs. For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com. --------3 of 15-------- From: Meredith Aby <riot369 [at] gmail.com> Subject: Anti-war 12.16 6pm New Members Meeting: Get active with the Anti-War Committee! Thursday, December 16th @ 6-7pm in Walker Church basement, 3104 16th Avenue South, Minneapolis It is now more important than ever for new members to join the Anti-War Committee and stand together with us. Show the FBI we will NOT stop our solidarity work and we will NOT be silenced. New members are always welcome; we hope you can join us! Organized by the Anti-War Committee. --------4 of 15-------- From: Richard Broderick <richb [at] lakecast.com> Subject: Clothes for kids 12.16 7pm "Change in Motion," a benefit dance performance to collect winter clothing for children and young adults served by the Brian Coyle Community Center Thursday, December 16, 7 - 8 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) Dance companies Poetry in Motion (www.poetryinmotiondanceco.com) and Rhythmic Circus (www.rhythmiccircus.com) At Patrick's Cabaret, 3010 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis. Admission: $5 to cover production cost, plus winter clothing donations Local poverty and unemployment rates are at an all time high in Minnesota. Minneapolis dance companies Poetry in Motion and Rhythmic Circus have come together to create "Change in Motion," unique dance sets inspired by issues of poverty at Patrick's Cabaret, 7 p.m., Thursday, December 16. In addition to raising awareness, "Change in Motion" will serve as a winter clothing drive for the children and young adults served by the Brian Coyle Community Center (BCCC). Located in Minneapolis' Cedar- Riverside neighborhood, the Brian Coyle Community Center provides after-school care and tutoring for children whose families fall below the poverty line. Every year the kids and young adults of the Community Center struggle to afford winter clothing. All guests are encouraged to bring any winter clothing - jackets, hats, gloves, etc.- to the performance to be donated to BCCC. By donating these new or used winter clothes you are helping to relieve one of the many strains that arise in families of poverty. Come share your Thursday evening with us at Patrick's Cabaret and be a part of something great! Presented by Face Forward (faceforwardmn.com), dedicated to serving the community through the arts. --------5 of 15-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Stop FBI 12.16 7pm Community/Organizing Meeting: Minnesota Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) Thursday, December 16, 7:00 p.m. Waite House, 2529 13th Avenue South, Minneapolis. Come hear the legal update, political action updates, and get involved in the struggle to stop FBI/Grand Jury repression of the anti-war and international solidarity movement. Volunteers are needed to help with upcoming actions, outreach or fundraising. Anh Pham, Tracy Molm and Sarah Martin have been notified that their subpoenas to testify before the Grand Jury are being renewed, but dates are still unknown. We must act now to stop this Grand Jury. Come to the meeting to help organize to stop U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald from continuing with this witch-hunt. Organized by: CSFR. FFI: Visit mnstopfbi.wordpress.com. --------6 of 15-------- From: Meredith Aby <riot369 [at] gmail.com> Subject: War v MN dissent 12.16 7pm Northfield MN The War on Dissent in Minnesota Thursday, 12/16 @ 7pm @ Just Food Coop event room, 516 Water Street, Northfield, MN On September 24th, the FBI raided homes in Chicago and Minneapolis of well-known anti-war and international solidarity activists and the office of the Twin Cities based Anti-War Committee. The FBI also subpoenaed 14 activists across the Midwest, 9 of whom are members of the Minnesota peace movement, to testify at a secret grand jury. According to the FBI, the goal of the raids was to find material support for terrorism. Among the items confiscated by the FBI were computers, cell phones, cameras, passports, mailing lists and other documents. Meredith Aby, a member of the Anti-War Committee whose Minneapolis home was raided and has been subpoenaed, will be speaking about her case at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 16th in the Event Room at Just Food Co-op, 516 S. Water Street, Northfield. Most of those subpoenaed have traveled to either Colombia, or to the Middle East specifically Israel/Palestine. Come hear how this investigation, harassment, intimidation, and the threat of jail time is an attempt to silence those who support resistance to oppression in the Middle East and Latin America. Meredith's presentation is sponsored by Northfield People for Peace and Goodwill (PPG). For more information: Bill McGrath (507) 645-7660. --------7 of 15-------- From: ElyDog <elydog [at] gmail.com> Subject: Farmer Labor Party 12.16 7pm The Rise and Fall of the Minnesota Farmer Labor Party (1918-1944) Thurs. Dec. 16th at 7:00 pm Mayday Books (301 Cedar Ave. on the West Bank in Minneapolis) The idea of a Mass Labor Party is not new. In fact, right here in Minnesota, we had the longest-lived and most successful experience of such a party in the entire country. Founded in 1918, the MN Farmer Labor Party became the leading party in Minnesota in the 1920s and 1930s, leaving the Democrats and Republicans to fight over 3rd place. Ernest Lundeen, elected as a U.S. Senator on the FLP ticket for the state of Minnesota in 1936, gave an overview of the history of the party in a speech before Congress in August, 1940, just weeks before he died in a plane crash. In his surprisingly fresh and still relevant speech, he explained the economic and social conditions that gave rise to the FLP -- conditions that are in many ways strikingly similar to what we are living through today. Eventually, the FLP was co-opted by the Democrats, and to this day, the interests of Minnesota Labor remain subordinated to that bosses' party, leaving MN workers with no mass political expression of our own. Join local CMPL activists for a roundtable discussion to learn more about Lundeen and the history of the formation and eventual demise of the FLP, with a focus on what lessons we can be learn and apply today. The 2010 midterm elections clearly showed that Minnesotans are frustrated with the status quo and want real change. A truly mass party of labor would quickly sweep the Tea Partiers aside and radically change the dynamics of MN and national politics. Copies of Lundeen's speech are available at Mayday Books and shortly will be available online at www.masspartyoflabor.org. Even if you are unable to read his speech before this discussion, we encourage you to bring your co-workers, friends, questions, and opinions, and participate in this important discussion on how we can work to make a Mass Party of Labor a reality! For more information, please contact us. info [at] masspartyoflabor.org 1-612-568-2675 www.masspartyoflabor.org --------8 of 15-------- From: Joe Schwartzberg <schwa004 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Immigration 12.16 7pm THIRD THURSDAY GLOBAL ISSUES FORUM Free and open to the public. Come and bring a friend. Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis (at Lyndale and Hennepin). Park in church lot. December 16, 7:00-9:00 p.m. RETHINKING IMMIGRATION: TOWARD A JUST, HUMANE AND VIABLE POLICY Worldwide, there are some 190 million international migrants, of whom more than 40 million reside in the United States. Current debates portray immigration to the U.S. as unprecedented and unique and U.S. immigration policies as broken and in need of fixing. Exploration of the global and historical perspectives of U.S. immigration suggest why our policies, rather than providing a just, humane and viable system, often produce some of the problems they are intended to address. This forum will consider needed reforms applicable not only to our own country but to others as well. Presenters: Professor DONNA GABACCIA and KATHLEEN MOCCIO, Attorney Holder of the Rudolph Vecoli Chair in Immigration History Research and Director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota, Professor Gabaccia has received numerous academic awards since earning her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan in 1979. Her books include Immigrant Lives in the US (co-editor, 2004), American Dreaming, Global Realities: Rethinking U.S. Immigration (2006), and Gender and Migration (co-author, 2006). Ms. Moccio served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Law Foundation and on the Board of Directors of the Institute for New Americans. Her honors include the President's Commendation for Distinguished Service as Director for Pro Bono Development of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She publishes, lectures and advocates extensively on behalf of asylees and refugees and teaches immigration law as an adjunct faculty member at the University of St. Thomas. Sponsor organizations: Minnesota Chapter, Citizens for Global Solutions; Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers; United Nations Association of Minnesota: Social Concerns Committee, Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church --------9 of 15-------- Millions Will be Paying the Bills for Obama's Failures [Or, rather, Obama the trickster's success in selling us out -ed] Majority of One By RALPH NADER December 14, 2010 CounterPunch On Friday, December 10, 2010, Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent Socialist, of Vermont, came of age. At last. With just about the best progressive voting record, Senator Sanders has nonetheless been an underachiever in the minds of those Americans who marveled at his tenure as mayor of Burlington, Vt. before he became a Congressman and now a Senator. Last Friday, Sanders tore the covers off an oligarchic driven Congress and a concessionary President with eight-and-a-half hours of non-stop presentations of facts and figures and a plea for fairness and justice. His goal was not heated rhetoric, though he showed deep moral indignation, but to attempt to rally the American people "to voice their feelings" to their members of Congress via phone calls, letters and e-mails. C-Span carried him live, since he was the only activity on the Senate floor that day. He asked the over-riding question of "who is winning and who is losing?" The winners were the giant, bailed out corporations and other companies so coddled with tax breaks and subsidies that they pay no federal income tax at all. He named some of these company bosses who make sky-high salaries and bonuses and take advantage of tax havens. ExxonMobil, Sanders noted, made $19 billion in profits last year, paid no federal income taxes and even received a $156 million refund from the U.S. Treasury! Senator Sanders filled the Congressional Record with statements about a variety of inequities and contradictions regarding President Obama's capitulation. Highlights follow: --A Government Accountability Office report states that two-thirds of corporations making $2.5 trillion in sales over several years paid no federal income taxes. --During the giant Wall St. bailout of 2008-2009, the Federal Reserve also bailed out with huge credit draws foreign banks from Bavaria to Japan. Such disclosures will be more common as a result of a successful Sanders amendment to the financial reform law earlier this year. --The Obama-Republican deal would increase the deficit by $900 billion dollars over ten years but devote "not one nickel" to any infrastructure projects in local communities. --He cited Warren Buffet and 90 other very rich Americans who wrote a letter to Congress opposing a tax cut for rich people like themselves. --He cited the top one percent of the richest Americans who have wealth equal to the bottom 90 percent and receive 24% of all income. "When is enough, enough, do you want it all?" cried Sanders to an empty Senate chamber. (His colleagues had gone home Friday morning except for Senators Sherrod Brown and Mary Landrieu who conducted brief colloquies with Sanders while he rested his voice or went to the men's room.) --The top 25 hedge fund managers each made an average of a billion dollars last year with much of that income taxed only at a 15% rate. The richest 400 families paid a 16.6% effective tax rate on average. The Obama deal would extend their tax cuts for another two years. --There has been zero net job creation since 1999 leading to a decline in average household income. Inequality of wealth in the U.S. is the worse in the industrialized world. --The U.S. has the highest rate of child poverty in the western world, in some cases five to six times that of Scandinavia. --The Obama Republican deal would divert for the first time $120 billion from the payroll tax, leading Sanders to say this is the beginning of the unraveling of social security, "eating our own seed," he added. -- "Let us be very clear: This [estate] tax applies only--only--to the top three-tenths of 1 percent of American families; 99.7 percent of American families will not pay one nickel in an estate tax. This is not a tax on the rich, this is a tax on the very, very, very rich." (The estate tax is reduced, while the exemption is increased, leading to $30-52 billion retained by the very wealthiest of estates over two years.) --And of course over $120 billion over two years are left with the highest income rich, worsening the deficit in the coming years. "We can do better" repeated Sanders, noting that Obama challenged his liberal base in Congress by asking "where are the votes?" To which, Sanders replied: "Our job is to mobilize the people of America," noting a rising flood of support for a fairer deal. Of course, Obama has a healthy majority in Congress until January 2011. It is the threat of a Senate Republican filibuster - which Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid et al have never made the Republicans use during the first two years of the Obama Administration - that has neutralized that majority. Moreover, the Senate Democrats could have changed these obstructive rules by a simple majority vote back in January 2009. But they chose not to allow their own working majority of well over 50 votes to prevail. Obama came to the White House swearing that he would not live in "a bubble" and that he would keep his promises, which explicitly included no further extensions of tax cuts for the rich and a $9.50 federal minimum wage (still lower in purchasing power than the federal minimum wage in 1968!) by 2011. So what do we see from the President? Well, he boasted about being a community organizer in Chicago years ago. Yet for months, knowing what was coming, he failed to arouse the citizenry against the Republican tax cuts for the wealthy which Obama swallowed last week. He is known to be an expert poker player, but he displayed none of that skill with the Republican corporacrats, Rep. John Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell. Where are Obama's touted oratorical skills? How smart can he be - undercutting his own Democrats and presenting them with the results of a closed-door sweetheart deal with their Republican adversaries? Obama has frittered away his comfortable majority in Congress on many accounts for two years. And millions of people and their children will be paying the bill for his failure to fight for them. --------10 of 15-------- Corporate and Congressional Disasters Big Profits, Bigger Crimes By ROBERT WEISSMAN December 15, 2010 CounterPunch Corporate crime and wrongdoing is an everyday fact of life in the United States and around the world. Still, the last year has been remarkable for a series of high-profile, deadly corporate disasters: the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe that killed 11 workers and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the deadly explosion at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine, and unintended acceleration of Toyota cars. You might think that these disasters, singly and together, would impel desperately needed legislative reform. You might think that, but if you did, you would be wrong. Despite blanket TV and newspaper coverage of the corporate wrongdoing in each case, despite deep public outrage and fear, despite public clamor for action to prevent the same things from happening, Congress has done - exactly nothing. And the situation is about to get worse. To be fair, the House of Representatives in each instance took at least some action, and might have done more if things looked better in the Senate. But Senate Republicans - sometimes with Democratic allies - acting on behalf of corporate patrons have blocked reform efforts. There's still a small chance of overcoming the corporate blockade, but with the lame duck session winding down, the window of opportunity is closing fast. * For much of the summer, the nation was transfixed by underwater video feeds of the BP oil gusher. Less visually grabbing was the gusher of evidence of the recklessness of BP and its corporate partners. This was not a disaster that could reasonably be considered an "accident." The House of Representatives responded by passing legislation that would remove the $75 million liability cap for oil damages - an invitation to corporate irresponsibility - remove an exemption from environmental analysis for projects like Deepwater Horizon, and bar companies with poor safety and environmental records from receiving new offshore drilling leases. But oil industry-allied Senators prevented passage of the bill. (Take action: http://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=3946 ) * The explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine killed 29 miners, and served as yet another reminder of the failure of existing law to protect America's workers. It also introduced the country to a caricature of a heartless CEO, Massey Energy's Don Blankenship. If ever there was a moment for forward progress on workplace health and safety, it was in the wake of the Massey tragedy. The Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety and Health Act would modestly increase the size of fines for endangering workers, make it a felony to cause the death of a worker by knowingly violating safety rules, protect whistleblowers who call attention to workplace hazards, and deter employers from delaying resolution of citations for violations of workplace health and safety rules. But the business lobby has prevented the bill from moving ahead. A House committee approved it, but the full House, shamefully, voted down even a stripped down version of the legislation; and the bill never even received a Senate committee vote. (Take action: http://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=3681 ) * Reports of sudden acceleration in Toyota cars broke through in the major media over a year ago. They were followed by ever more revelations of problems with Toyota vehicles, disclosures that the car giant had suppressed consumer complaints, major vehicle recalls, public apologies from Toyota, and damning indictments of inaction by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 would upgrade NHTSA safety standards, make more safety information public, and get more funding to the resource-starved federal auto safety agency. Yet thanks to the auto lobby - amazingly, including lobbying from the very General Motors in which the U.S. government (i.e., the public) remains the primary shareholder - Congress has failed to make these common-sense responses to the Toyota debacle into law. (Take action: http://www.citizen.org/motor-vehicle-safety-act ) There's no mystery as to the Congressional failure. It is simply a reflection of the same corporate power that led to the under-regulation and under-enforcement that made each of the corporate disasters possible. Yet the ability of corporations and industries to block remedial regulatory efforts at the very moment when they are most vulnerable - due to adverse publicity and an outraged public's call for action - speaks to the extraordinary political power of Big Business. That power is certain to be enhanced in the incoming Congress. Most remarkable of all, with evidence all around of the need for stronger rules to control corporations and protect Americans, the business lobby is gearing up for a campaign to roll back existing regulations. Led by the Chamber of Commerce, corporations are ramping up a campaign claiming that the way to jumpstart the economy is by rolling back regulations. Yes, corporations have earned record profits in the past quarter - U.S. corporations raked in profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter of 2010. Yes, it was the failure to regulate Wall Street that cost 8 million jobs and plunged us into the current recession. In a world ruled by power not logic, however, facts are not enough to defeat corporate propaganda and destructive policy agendas. Doing that will require overcoming public disgust with Washington's failures. It will also require moving beyond mere outrage with corporate wrongdoing to organized outrage. As deeply flawed as the policy making process is, an organized citizenry can still make change for good. It's not going to come any other way. Robert Weissman is president of Public Citizen. --------11 of 15-------- The Clinton Pivot: Obama Sells the Farm by Jack Random December 14th, 2010 If Barack Obama truly wanted to be a transformative president he would have pushed to break the senatorial filibuster at the very beginning of his term in office. As a former senator, he knew full well the power and inclination of a senate minority to obstruct all legislative initiatives. There is not a syllable in the constitution that empowers a minority in the least democratic branch of government with an absolute veto over all legislative action. That usurpation of power was accomplished by senatorial rules of conduct, which are subject to change by a majority vote at the beginning of each congressional session. Had the Obama administration been able to lower the filibuster threshold to 55 votes or required senators to hold the floor as they once did or limited its duration to 27 calendar days, the incoming president would have been empowered to usher in an era of progressive change, the very change for which the electorate thought it was voting. He surely could have passed Medicare-for-all with a ten or twenty-year phase in. He could have restructured the tax code and fully financed an emerging green economy. He could have rebuilt the nation's infrastructure and established an interstate mass transit system, achieving something very close to full employment. There is no end to what Obama might have accomplished had he been willing to take that first bold step. With the economy moving again, he might well have reversed his party's fortune in the mid-term elections. But that bold president, the one that would have summoned the spirits of Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, was nowhere to be found. It was never what Barack Obama had in mind. It seems he was playing from the Bill Clinton handbook all along. Even now, as we approach a new session of congress, there is little talk of reforming the filibuster. With the Republicans taking control of the lower house perhaps we no longer think it important. But the lower house is closer to the people and closer to the next election. Any representative who refuses to extend unemployment benefits with the unemployment rate near ten percent will almost certainly guarantee the wrath of his or her constituency and an abbreviated tenure in Washington. No, the Senate will remain the leading source of obstructionism and the problem should be addressed. But that is not in the Clinton handbook. Never was I so reminded of Slick Willy as when Obama with a passion rarely summoned in his presidency challenged his progressive critics to name a single instance where he has failed to keep his word: "Look at what I promised during the campaign. There's not a single thing that I haven't done or tried to do". While managing to project himself as an antiwar candidate, he never promised to withdraw all troops from Iraq. He promised to escalate in Afghanistan and that he has done. Winning the support of organized labor, Obama promised to sign the Employee Free Choice Act but it never reached his desk. He never promised to support Fair Trade but he appeared to support labor provisions in Free Trade agreements. He advocated exacting a price on those who export jobs but it has never made the Obama short list. He advocated health care as a right rather than a responsibility but he never promised a public option. He never promised universal healthcare or that health insurance rates would be mediated. He did oppose an insurance mandate but few have held him accountable on that ground. >From Don't Ask, Don't Tell to immigration reform and the repeal of the Bush tax cuts, Obama has always chosen his words carefully. Considered in context, his words are consistent with his actions. He never claimed to be progressive so he cannot be held accountable for failing to live up to what that label entails. Obama ran as a pragmatist and he has governed in that fashion. What he does not seem to understand is that we don't care how carefully he parsed his words. We don't care if we were fooled by our own Audacity of Hope. We frankly don't care if he is a man of his word or not. We are living in hard times and we'd like to know he is out to help us. If the president truly believes his compromise on tax policy is in the public interest, fine. Let him state his case. We respectfully disagree and we'll state ours. Obama has made it clear he is not beholden to the left for having rallied to make him president. Neither are we beholden to him for having done so. While few of us would argue that he is worse than George W. Bush or John McCain, that's a little like saying a plunge in freezing water is better than a dip in raw sewage. >From a pragmatic point of view, we could have chosen to rally around Hillary Clinton in the primaries. Why didn't we? Because we knew what to expect from another round of the Clinton administration. We witnessed Bill Clinton's pivot to the right after his party lost the mid-term elections. We witnessed welfare reform and bipartisan agreement on free trade (job exportation) and deregulation, all major Republican initiatives. Even after winning reelection, Clinton held to the right in a bold attempt to dominate electoral politics by eliminating the left from the equation. (In the end, he didn't even have the guts to pardon Leonard Peltier. Yes, some of us still remember.) We could not rally around Hillary because she showed no inclination to govern differently than her husband. We could not support a third-party candidate because the stakes were high and no candidate rose above the level of symbolism. We rallied to the Obama camp because he was perceived as antiwar and relatively progressive. It was better to gamble on the unknown than to stake our hopes on the highly improbable. We did not want another Bill Clinton but it seems that is exactly what we got. We gambled and lost, but that does not mean we must sacrifice our voices and convictions by continuing to support a president that has not earned it. The strangest thing about this sudden rightward pivot on tax policy is the urgency with which it was presented, as if the opportunity would be lost once a new congress was seated. As all must recognize by now this is an overwhelming Republican victory. (The president's supporters can produce all the graphs and charts they want. The Republicans favor all the tax cuts. The president sold the farm for an extension of unemployment benefits.) Rushing the proposal through a lame duck congress before the Bush tax cuts expired was not only unnecessary but it also worked against the president's interest. Had the tax cuts been allowed to elapse the power would have shifted to the White House and a still Democratic Senate. A Republican lower house of congress could do absolutely nothing without Democratic consent. With unemployment near ten percent, there is not a working family in the nation that is not affected. With every vote against extending benefits, the Democrats could have rolled out ads in every district: Joe Worker lost his job when his plant was shipped to China. He took a job as a janitor and was laid off in the Great Recession. Now he's lost his unemployment benefits. Congressman Right says he's lazy. What do you say? As for tax cuts for the middle class, how many times could the anti-tax party say no without losing all credibility? The Republicans were playing a bluff and either the president was fooled or he did what he intended to do all along: the Clinton pivot. The American two-party system functions to the extent that it does by managing a delicate balance between corporate interests and the public good. When the right goes too far by gutting that part of government that serves the public good, the left assumes power to restore the balance. When both parties represent essentially the same policies, balance is never restored. The result is a reversal of centuries of progress, an unraveling of the New Deal and the Great Society, a process that predictably ends with the decimation of Social Security, Medicare, public education, environmental protection, civil rights, labor rights and all regulatory agencies. It is a prescription for disaster because it favors the rich to the detriment of the middle class. When the working people can no longer afford to purchase goods and the middle class is impoverished, the system no longer functions. Barack Obama is no Franklin Roosevelt. He never intended to be. He is a pragmatist, a man everyone can love once they get to know him. He is Bill Clinton without the personal charm. It's not all bad. There is something to be said for intelligence and good management. There is a reason the crash did not happen on his watch. Had Clinton been president instead of George W. Bush, I'm certain he would have acted long before the global economy was on the threshold of total collapse. Nevertheless, the elements creating the conditions that inevitably led to systemic failure were put in place by Bill Clinton. Unfortunately, Barack Obama shows no inclination to make the necessary corrections. Jack Random is the author of Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press) the Jazzman Chronicles, Volumes I and II (City Lights Books). The Chronicles have been published by CounterPunch, the Albion Monitor, Buzzle, Dissident Voice and others. [Monika's real role was to limber up Clinton's hips so he could pivot them in a more slippery snake-like fashion. -ed] --------12 of 15-------- Published on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 by TruthDig.com Return of the Great Triangulator by Robert Scheer The sight of Bill Clinton back on the White House podium defending tax cuts for the super-rich was more a sick joke than a serious amplification of economic policy. How desperate is the current president that he would turn to the great triangulator, who opened the floodgates to banking greed, for validation of the sorry opportunistic hodgepodge that passes for this administration's economic policy? A policy designed and implemented by the same Clinton-era holdovers whose radical deregulation of the financial industry created this mess in the first place. As a candidate running against Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama quite accurately excoriated the economic policies of the Clinton years when the Democratic president united with congressional Republicans, led by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm, to obliterate sensible regulations of the New Deal. The result, as candidate Obama noted in March 2008, has been chaos: "Unfortunately, instead of establishing a 21st century regulatory framework, we simply dismantled the old one - aided by a legal but corrupt bargain in which campaign money all too often shaped policy and watered down oversight. In doing so, we encouraged a winner-take-all, anything-goes environment that helped foster devastating dislocations in our economy". These dislocations were authorized when Clinton signed off on the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which reversed the Glass-Steagall Act's separation between the high rollers of investment banking and the properly conservative, insured and regulated activities of commercial banks entrusted with the life savings of ordinary folks. With a stroke of a pen that he then presented as a gift to Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill, Clinton opened the door to the too-big-to-fail monstrosities that have caused so much misery. Back in 1999, even though he had been warned of the coming financial instability, foreshadowed by the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management, Clinton was giddy in signing the bill: "Over the past seven years we have tried to modernize the economy," he enthused. "And today what we are doing is modernizing the financial services industry, tearing down those antiquated laws and granting banks significant new authority". A year later Clinton signed off on the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, advanced most fiercely by his treasury secretary, Lawrence Summers, who has been the dominant personality setting economic policy for Obama. Titles 3 and 4 of that act summarily exempted from the surveillance of any existing regulatory agency or laws all of the newfangled financial gimmicks - the collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps - that have proved so toxic to the jobs and homes of tens of millions of Americans. In his rambling and somewhat incoherent comments on the economy at the White House last week, Clinton attempted to explain away the failure of the banks to use the money that the government has made available to them to shore up housing and create jobs. As an aside, in commenting on community banks, Clinton touched on the mortgage security mess that his law enabled, but he still doesn't seem to get his connection with the problem: " . some of them may have a few mortgage issues unresolved, most of that mortgage debt has been offloaded to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or has vanished into cyber-sphere with those securitized subprime mortgages. I don't like the securities, but they happened". What gibberish. The mortgage-backed securities didn't just happen. Clinton signed legislation freeing those securities from any effective government regulation. Most Americans' homes, which represented their dreams and savings, were turned into gambling chips in the Wall Street casino on a scale unknown and indeed unthinkable before the Clinton presidency. What has vanished is the equity of homeowners. As for the offloading to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that represents at least a $700 billion burden on taxpayers who have had to bail out those government-sponsored agencies that became totally corrupt on Clinton's watch. The bottom line on the Clinton legacy is that the census now finds an all-time high of 44 million Americans living under the poverty line, bringing us back, as a percentage of the population, to Bill Clinton's first two years in office. One big difference is that thanks to Clinton's so-called welfare reform program, there is no longer a significant federal anti-poverty program, and the plight of the poor is now a problem for the state governments, which also have been impoverished thanks to the bursting of the Clinton bubble. As a candidate, Obama laid responsibility for the meltdown on the bipartisan deregulation of the Clinton years: "This loss has not happened by accident. It's because of decisions made in boardrooms, on trading floors, and in Washington. Under Republican and Democratic administrations, we failed to guard against practices that all too often rewarded financial manipulation instead of productivity and sound business practices. We let the special interest put their thumbs on the economic scales". That's the path Clinton followed after his party's electoral reversal after he had been in office two years, a fact that made it all that more ominous to witness the great triangulator back on a White House podium. Copyright 2010 Truthdig, L.L.C. Robert Scheer is editor of Truthdig.com and a regular columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle. --------13 of 15-------- The United States of War Criminals by Mickey Z. / December 15th, 2010 People from poorer places and poorer countries have to call upon their compassion not to be angry with ordinary people in America. - Arundhati Roy More than half (53.3%) of US tax dollars go to a criminal enterprise known as the US Department of Defense (sic), a.k.a. the worst polluter on the planet. We hear about tax cuts this and budget that and all kinds of other bullshit from the US government and the corporations that own it - but the reality remains: Roughly one million tax dollars per minute are spent to fund the largest military machine (read: global terrorist operation) the world has ever known. What do we get for all that money? To follow, is but one tiny example that mostly slipped through the cracks earlier this year. On July 23, 2010, Tom Eley at Global Research wrote: "According to the authors of a new study, 'Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009,' the people of Fallujah are experiencing higher rates of cancer, leukemia, infant mortality, and sexual mutations than those recorded among survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the years after those Japanese cities were incinerated by US atomic bomb strikes in 1945". For those unfamiliar with the US attacks on Fallujah, first of all: You should be fuckin' ashamed of yourselves. Secondly, here's Patrick Cockburn's basic description: US Marines first besieged and bombarded Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, in April 2004 after four employees of the American security company Blackwater were killed and their bodies burned. After an eight-month stand-off, the Marines stormed the city in November using artillery and aerial bombing against rebel positions. US forces later admitted that they had employed white phosphorus as well as other munitions. In the assault US commanders largely treated Fallujah as a free-fire zone to try to reduce casualties among their own troops. British officers were appalled by the lack of concern for civilian casualties. Of crucial importance is this: A high proportion of the weaponry used by the US in the assault contained depleted uranium (DU). And you and I paid for it all. The aforementioned study found that the cancer rate "had increased fourfold since before the US attack" and that the forms of cancer in Fallujah are "similar to those found among the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors, who were exposed to intense fallout radiation". Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Yeah, Americans paid for those bombs, too. In September 2009, Fallujah General Hospital had 170 newborn babies: . 24 percent were dead within the first seven days . 75 percent of the dead babies were classified as deformed Cockburn writes of a "12-fold increase in childhood cancer in under-14s. Infant mortality in the city is more than four times higher than in neighboring Jordan and eight times higher than in Kuwait". Dig this: After 2005, thanks to this "major mutagenic event" (DU), the proportion of girls born in Fallujah has increased sharply likely because "girls have a redundant X-chromosome and can therefore absorb the loss of one chromosome through genetic damage," explains Eley. And you and I paid for it all. "The impact of war on civilians was more severe in Fallujah than anywhere else in Iraq because the city continued to be blockaded and cut off from the rest of the country long after 2004," adds Cockburn. While I could go on with the gory details, I'd much rather you ask a few questions: . Now that you know these facts (and they are just the tiniest proverbial tip of a massive proverbial iceberg), how do you feel and what are you going to do about it? . Is it time you stop buying military video games, hanging yellow ribbons, and allowing our hard-earned money to finance mass murder? . Can enjoy "the holidays" while women in Fallujah are petrified to have children? . Are you still able to insulate yourself with all those cute puppy videos on YouTube? . Are you ready to stop believing there's a difference between the two wings of the same corporate/military party and start accepting that they're all accessories to heinous crimes? . Will you still "support" the volunteer mercenaries as "heroes" or will you recognize them as willing - and paid - accomplices to war crimes? . Are you okay with 85.1% of US wealth being owned by the top 20% while 53.3% of your tax dollars subsidize atrocities, torture, oppression, occupation, and the literal destruction of the planet's eco-system? . What is your threshold? Which taxpayer-funded horror story is the one that will finally make you scream "enough"? . When you've screamed "enough," what can/will you do and how soon will you start doing it? You don't have to tell me your answers. I'm a co-conspirator just like you. Save your answers for the children of Fallujah. I'm sure they're wondering why the fuck we all choose to remain silent and inactive. Mickey Z. is probably the only person on the planet to have appeared in both a karate flick with Billy "Tae Bo" Blanks and a political book with Howard Zinn. He is the author of 9 books.most recently Self Defense for Radicals and his second novel, Dear Vito.and can be found on the Web. --------14 of 15-------- ----------------------------- Obama voters are Sapatistas ----------------------------- --------15 of 15-------- Breaking news: The TV show, "Are you smarter than a fifth grader?" is changing its name to "Are you smarter than an Obama voter?" Rod's Odds says that will be the time ever to go on the show. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress for governor now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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