Progressive Calendar 01.10.11
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2011 14:55:29 -0800 (PST)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R  01.10.11

1. Peace walk      1.10 6pm RiverFalls WI
2. Climate/Cancun  1.10 7pm

3. No Nukes!       1.11 8:15am
4. Prisons         1.11 5:30pm
5. Gay chorus dvd  1.11 6:30pm
6. 9/11 Truth      1.11 6:30pm
7. FBI raids forum 1.11 7pm

8. William Greider - The end of New Deal liberalism
9. Bill Quigley    - Serious guns and white terrorism
10. Andrew Levine  - What Obama apologists and Tea Partiers have in common

--------1 of 10--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Peace walk 1.10 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022


--------2 of 10--------

From: Craig Neal <craig [at] heartlandcircle.com>
Subject: Climate/Cancun 1.10 7pm

³Climate Solutions ­ from Minnesota to Cancun and Back Again²
Speakers:
 Alec Neal, 3000 mile cross-country bike trek on his way to Cancun,
filming a documentary about solutions to the climate crisis along the way
 Paul Thompson, Edina Energy and Environment Commission member and also
delegate to both Copenhagen and Cancun
 Reed Aronow and Valida Prentice, both youth delegates to Cancun and
Copenhagen conferences

A report from local residents who were delegates to the recent international
conference on climate change

Monday, January 10,  7 to 8:30 pm
At Southdale Library, 7000 York Ave. S. in Edina


--------3 of 10--------

From: PRO826 [at] aol.com
Subject: No Nukes! 1.11 8:15am

Call your MN House reps!  Tell them to  maintain the moratorium on new
nukes in MN
Notice of Hearing:
A hearing is scheduled to consider a bill to repeal the nuclear power
moratorium!

Who: Minnesota House Committee on  "Environment, Energy and Natural
Resources Policy and  Finance"
Date/time: TUESDAY, January 11, 2011; 8:15  AM
Room: 5 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Denny McNamara
Agenda: HFXXXX (Peppin) Nuclear power plant new  construction prohibition
repeal
For more information, or if you wish to testify,  please contact: Mike
Harris, Legislative Assistant for Rep. McNamara:  (651) 296-5813.


--------4 of 10--------

From: Jodi Williams <jodi [at] headwatersfoundation.org>
Subject: Prisons 1.11 5:30pm

Movement Building
5:30-7:00 pm
Riverview Cafe and Wine Bar
3747 42nd Avenue S / Mpls
Tuesday, January 11!

Looking for Fundamental Change in the Justice System

The American prison system has lost sight of the goal to rehabilitate and
settled for becoming the convenient destination for the poor, minorities,
and the mentally ill.  Join Sarah Walker, COO of 180 Degrees and lead
organizer of Second Chance Coalition, to uncover the real truths of the
U.S. criminal justice system and see what a radical shift in American
priorities could look like.

Free and open to the public.  Food and drink are available for purchase on
site.
Reserve your seat by contacting Jodi [at] HeadwatersFoundation.org
[mailto:Jodi [at] HeadwatersFoundation.org] or Find us on Facebook
[http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?llr=lsoldzn6&et=1104114519913&s=3851&e=001oWKxgC1GDmw8vSA-bxE5VpASuRpfNTifwrQo0L5fAh-TeOlCOLiHYJvoN9b3QK-frmlRsUvs9GNsvVSmVd37Syfy5MmalXjwATi4ecRt_VYypKH1MwtSdGdmKs3s9P4gtGY8gcJr6dN5dc_gN2G3Sep98UvUDeWijtucJchNJkM=]

2801 21st Avenue S, Suite 132 B
Minneapolis, MN 55407


--------5 of 10--------

From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: Gay chorus dvd 1.11 6:30pm

conversational salon
This Tuesday, Jan 11, we are showing the DVD called The Chorus.  Produced
by French director, Thierry Vivier, it tells the story of the San
Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, and the effect of aids on the chorus.

Next Tuesday will be the poetry and writings of William Stafford.

Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.


--------6 of 10--------

From: shirley johnson <skjohnsn [at] comcast.net>
Subject: 9/11 Truth 1.11 6:30pm

Tuesday January 11, 2011  - 6:30 PM
Location:  Rondo Community Library, southwest corner of Dale ST and
University Avenue in St. Paul.  Underground Parking accessed from east
bound University Avenue, just before Dale St.  If the underground parking
is full, exit the garage, continue east across Dale St.  and turn into the
Wendy's parking area, park facing Dale St and cross the street to the
Library.  Plenty of parking available, so that is no excuse!

Topic:  the expected Tenth Anniversary Kick-off will not be the topic;
instead, you can choose from several videos.  We will take a vote on
whether to watch:

A panel discussion from the 9/11 Accountability Conference in Chandler AZ
from 2007: "Be the Media"

Michael Keefer, at the Vancouver 9/11 Truth Conference in 2007, "The
Gatekeepers:  How 9/11 Information is Suppressed"

Peter Dale Scott at the Vancouver 9/11 Truth Conference in 2007,
"Understand 9/11 in Order to Forestall War"

I plan to bring a notebook of articles and letters to the Journal of 9/11
Studies.  You may take any of the articles or letters and read at your
leisure.

shirley 651-291-7053


-------7 of 10--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: FBI raids forum 1.11 7pm

Panel Discussion: FBI Raids on Local Peace and Justice Activists
Tuesday, January 11, 7:00 p.m. Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900
Nicollet Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Speakers will include: activist Sarah Martin, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer,
attorney Bruce Nestor, and others. They will give updates on what is
happening to area peace and justice activists whose homes were raided by
the FBI last fall. None have been charged with any wrong doing, but
computers, phones, records, books, music, and children's artwork were
taken from their homes by the FBI. Sponsored by: WAMM. FFI: Call WAMM,
612-827-5364.


--------8 of 10--------

The End of New Deal Liberalism
William Greider
The Nation
January 5, 2011
http://www.thenation.com/article/157511/end-new-deal-liberalism

We have reached a pivotal moment in government and politics, and it feels
like the last, groaning spasms of New Deal liberalism. When the party of
activist government, faced with an epic crisis, will not use government's
extensive powers to reverse the economic disorders and heal deepening
social deterioration, then it must be the end of the line for the
governing ideology inherited from Roosevelt, Truman and Johnson.

Political events of the past two years have delivered a more profound and
devastating message: American democracy has been conclusively conquered by
American capitalism. Government has been disabled or captured by the
formidable powers of private enterprise and concentrated wealth.
Self-governing rights that representative democracy conferred on citizens
are now usurped by the overbearing demands of corporate and financial
interests. Collectively, the corporate sector has its arms around both
political parties, the financing of political careers, the production of
the policy agendas and propaganda of influential think tanks, and control
of most major media.

What the capitalist system wants is more-more wealth, more freedom to do
whatever it wishes. This has always been its instinct, unless government
intervened to stop it. The objective now is to destroy any remaining forms
of government interference, except of course for business subsidies and
protections. Many elected representatives are implicitly enlisted in the
cause.

A lot of Americans seem to know this; at least they sense that the
structural reality of government and politics is not on their side. When
the choice comes down to society or capitalism, society regularly loses.
First attention is devoted to the economic priorities of the largest, most
powerful institutions of business and finance. The bias comes naturally to
Republicans, the party of money and private enterprise, but on the big
structural questions business-first also defines Democrats, formerly the
party of working people. Despite partisan rhetoric, the two parties are
more alike than they acknowledge.

In these terms, the administration of Barack Obama has been a crushing
disappointment for those of us who hoped he would be different. It turns
out Obama is a more conventional and limited politician than advertised,
more right-of-center than his soaring rhetoric suggested. Most
Congressional Democrats, likewise, proved weak and incoherent, unreliable
defenders of their supposed values or most loyal constituencies. They call
it pragmatism. I call it surrender.

Obama's maladroit tax compromise with Republicans was more destructive
than creative. He acceded to the trickle-down doctrine of regressive
taxation and skipped lightly over the fact that he was contributing
further to stark injustices. Ordinary Americans will again be made to pay,
one way or another, for the damage others did to society. Obama agrees
that this is offensive but argues, This is politics, get over it. His
brand of realism teaches people to disregard what he says. Look instead at
what he does.

With overwhelming majorities in Congress and economic crisis tearing up
the country in 2009, incumbent Democrats opted for self-protection first,
party principles later. Their Senate leaders allowed naysayers to
determine the lowest common denominator for reform- halfway measures
designed not to overly disturb powerful corporate-financial interests, and
therefore not able to repair the social destruction those interests had
wrought. Senate Democrats say they didn't have the votes. Imagine what
Mitch McConnell would have done if he were their leader: Take no
prisoners. Force party dissenters to get in line and punish those who
don't. Block even the most pedestrian opposition proposals.

Democrats are not used to governing aggressively. They haven't done so for
decades, and they may no longer believe in it. For many years, incumbent
Democrats survived by managing a precarious straddle between the forces of
organized money and the disorganized people they claim to represent. The
split was usually lopsided in favor of the money guys, but one could
believe that the reform spirit would come alive once they were back in
power with a Democratic president. That wishful assumption is now defunct.

Obama's timid economic strategy can be described as successful only if the
standard of success is robust corporate profits, rising stock prices and
the notorious year-end bonuses of Wall Street. Again and again, Obama
hesitated to take the bolder steps that would have made differences in
social conditions. Now it is clear that the bleeding afflictions
experienced by the overwhelming majority of citizens will not be
substantively addressed because Democrats, both president and Congress,
have chosen to collaborate in the conservative cause of deficit reduction:
cut spending, shrink government, block any healing initiatives that cost
real money.

Republicans, armed with strong conviction, are resurgent with what amounts
to ideological nihilism. Leave aside their obvious hypocrisies on fiscal
rectitude and free markets. Their single-minded objective is to destroy
what remains of government's capacity to intervene in or restrain the
private sector on behalf of the common welfare. Many of government's old
tools and programs are already gone, gutted by deregulation, crippled by
corporate capture of the regulatory agencies originally intended to curb
private-sector abuses and starved by inadequate funding. The right wants
smaller government for the people, but not for corporate capitalism. It
will fight to preserve the protections, privileges and subsidies that flow
to the private sector.

* * *

Once again, Republicans are mounting an assault on liberalism's crown
jewel, Social Security, only this time they might succeed, because the
Democratic president is collaborating with them. The deficit hysteria
aimed at Social Security is fraudulent (as Obama's own experts
acknowledge), but the president has already gravely weakened the program's
solvency with his payroll-tax holiday, which undercuts financing for
future benefits. Obama promises the gimmick won't be repeated, but if
employment is still weak a year from now, he may well cave. The GOP will
accuse him of damaging the economy by approving a "tax increase" on all
workers. Senate Democrats are preparing their own proposal to cut Social
Security as a counter to the GOP's extreme version. In the end, they can
split the difference and celebrate another great compromise.

This is capitulation posing as moderation. Obama has set himself up to
make many more "compromises" in the coming months; each time, he will
doubtless use the left as a convenient foil. Disparaging "purist" liberals
is his way of assuring so-called independents that he stood up to the
allegedly far-out demands of his own electoral base. This is a ludicrous
ploy, given the weakness of the left. It cynically assumes ordinary people
not engaged in politics are too dim to grasp what he's doing. I suspect
Obama is mistaken. I asked an old friend what she makes of the current
mess in Washington. "Whatever the issue, the rich guys win," she
responded. Lots of people understand this-it is the essence of the
country's historic predicament.

To get a rough glimpse of what the corporate state looks like, study the
Federal Reserve's list of banking, finance and business firms that
received the $3.3 trillion the central bank dispensed in low-interest
loans during the financial crisis (this valuable information is revealed
only because reform legislators like Senator Bernie Sanders fought for
disclosure). If you were not on the list of recipients, you know your
place in this new order.

The power shift did not start with Obama, but his tenure confirms and
completes it. The corporates began their systematic drive to dismantle
liberal governance back in the 1970s, and the Democratic Party was soon
trying to appease them, its retreat whipped along by Ronald Reagan's
popular appeal and top-down tax cutting. So long as Democrats were out of
power, they could continue to stand up for liberal objectives and assail
the destructive behavior of business and finance (though their rhetoric
was more consistent than their voting record). Once back in control of
government, they lowered their voices and sued for peace. Beholden to
corporate America for campaign contributions, the Democrats cut deals with
banks and businesses and usually gave them what they demanded, so
corporate interests would not veto progressive legislation.

Obama has been distinctively candid about this. He admires the "savvy
businessmen" atop the pinnacle of corporate power. He seeks "partnership"
with them. The old economic conflicts, like labor versus capital, are
regarded as passé by the "new Democrats" now governing. The business of
America is business. Government should act as steward and servant, not
master.

This deferential attitude is reflected in all of Obama's major reform
legislation, not to mention in the people he brought into government. In
the financial rescue, Obama, like George W. Bush before him, funneled
billions to the troubled bankers without demanding any public obligations
in return. On healthcare, he cut deals with insurance and drug companies
and played cute by allowing the public option, which would have provided
real competition to healthcare monopolists, to be killed. On financial
reform, Obama's Treasury lieutenants and a majority of the Congressional
Dems killed off the most important measures, which would have cut Wall
Street megabanks down to tolerable size.

Society faces dreadful prospects and profound transformation. When both
parties are aligned with corporate power, who will stand up for the
people? Who will protect them from the insatiable appetites of capitalist
enterprise and help them get through the hard passage ahead? One thing we
know for sure from history: there is no natural limit to what capitalism
will seek in terms of power and profit. If government does not stand up
and apply the brakes, society is defenseless.

Strangely enough, this new reality brings us back to the future, posing
fundamental questions about the relationship between capitalism and
democracy that citizens and reformers asked 100 years ago. Only this time,
the nation is no longer an ascendant economic power. It faces hard
adjustments as general prosperity recedes and the broad middle class that
labor and liberalism helped create is breaking apart.

My bleak analysis is not the end of the story. Change is hard to visualize
now, given the awesome power of the status quo and the collapse of
once-trusted political institutions. But change will come, for better or
worse. One key dynamic of the twentieth century was the long- running
contest for dominance between democracy and capitalism. The balance of
power shifted back and forth several times, driven by two basic forces
that neither corporate lobbyists nor timid politicians could control: the
calamitous events that disrupted the social order, such as war and
depression, and the power of citizens mobilized in reaction to those
events. In those terms, both political parties are still highly
vulnerable-as twentieth-century history repeatedly demonstrated, society
cannot survive the burdens of an unfettered corporate order.

People are given different ideological labels, but Americans are not as
opposed to "big government" as facile generalizations suggest. On many
issues, there is overwhelming consensus that media and pundits ignore
(check the polls, if you doubt this). Americans of all ages will fight to
defend social protections-Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, among
others. People are skeptical to hostile about the excessive power of
corporations. People want government to be more aggressive in many
areas-like sending some of the financial malefactors to prison.

One vivid example was the angry citizen at a town hall meeting who shouted
at his Congressman: "Keep your government hands off my Medicare!" I heard
a grassroots leader on the radio explain that basically the Tea Party
people "want government that works for them." Don't we all? In the next
few years, both parties will try to define this sentiment. If they adhere
to the corporate agenda, they are bound to get in trouble, and the ranks
of insurgent citizens will grow. Nobody can know where popular rebellion
might lead, right or left, but my own stubborn optimism hangs by that
thread.

Whatever people on the left may call themselves, they have a special
burden in this situation because they are deeply committed to the idea
that government should be the trustworthy agent of the many, not the
powerful few. Many of us believe further (as the socialists taught) that
the economy should serve the people, not the other way around.

The current crisis requires people to go back to their roots and
re-examine their convictions-now that they can no longer count
automatically on the helping hand of government or the Democratic Party.
Obama's unfortunate "hostage" metaphor led Saturday Night Live to joke
that the president was himself experiencing the "Stockholm
syndrome"-identifying with his conservative captors. Many progressive
groups, including organized labor, suffer a similar dependency. They will
not be able to think clearly about the future of the country until they
get greater distance from the Democratic Party.

I suggest three steps for progressives to recover an influential role in
politics. First, develop a guerrilla sensibility that recognizes the
weakness of the left. There's no need to resign from electoral politics,
but dedicated lefties should stake out a role of principled resistance. In
the 1960s uncompromising right-wingers became known as "ankle biters" in
Republican ranks, insisting on what were considered impossible goals and
opposing moderate and liberal party leaders, sometimes with hopeless
candidates. They spent twenty years in the wilderness but built a cadre of
activists whose convictions eventually gained power.

Where are the left-wing ankle biters who might change the Democratic
Party? It takes a bit of arrogance to imagine that your activities can
change the country, but, paradoxically, it also requires a sense of
humility. Above all, it forces people to ask themselves what they truly
believe the country needs-and then stand up for those convictions any way
they can. Concretely, that may lead someone to run for city council or US
senator. Or field principled opponents to challenge feckless Democrats in
primaries (that's what the Tea Party did to Republicans, with impressive
results). Or activist agitators may simply reach out to young people and
recruit kindred spirits for righteous work that requires long-term
commitment.

Second, people of liberal persuasion should "go back to school" and learn
the new economic realities. In my experience, many on the left do not
really understand the internal dynamics of capitalism-why it is
productive, why it does so much damage (many assumed government and
politicians would do the hard thinking for them). We need a fundamental
re-examination of capitalism and the relationship between the state and
the private sphere. This will not be done by business- financed think
tanks. We have to do it for ourselves.

A century ago the populist rebellion organized farmer cooperatives,
started dozens of newspapers and sent out lecturers to spread the word.
Socialists and the labor movement did much the same. Modern Americans
cannot depend on the Democratic Party or philanthropy to sponsor small-d
democracy. We have to do it. But we have resources and modern
tools-including the Internet-those earlier insurgents lacked.

The New Deal order broke down for good reasons-the economic system
changed, and government did not adjust to new realities or challenge the
counterattack from the right in the 1970s. The structure of economic life
has changed again-most dramatically by globalization-yet the government
and political parties are largely clueless about how to deal with the
destruction of manufacturing and the loss of millions of jobs. Government
itself has been weakened in the process, but politicians are too
intimidated to talk about restoring its powers. The public expresses
another broad consensus on the need to confront "free trade" and change it
in the national interest-another instance of public opinion not seeming to
count, since it opposes the corporate agenda.

Reformers today face conditions similar to what the Populists and
Progressives faced: monopoly capitalism, a labor movement suppressed with
government's direct assistance, Wall Street's "money trust" on top, the
corporate state feeding off government while ignoring immoral social
conditions. The working class, meanwhile, is regaining its identity, as
millions are being dispossessed of middle-class status while millions of
others struggle at the bottom. Working people are poised to become the new
center of a reinvigorated democracy, though it is not clear at this stage
whether they will side with the left or the right. Understanding all these
forces can lead to the new governing agenda society desperately needs.

Finally, left-liberals need to start listening and learning-talking up
close to ordinary Americans, including people who are not obvious allies.
We should look for viable connections with those who are alienated and
unorganized, maybe even ideologically hostile. The Tea Party crowd got one
big thing right: the political divide is not Republicans against Democrats
but governing elites against the people. A similar division exists within
business and banking, where the real hostages are the smaller,
community-scale firms imperiled by the big boys getting the gravy from
Washington. We have more in common with small-business owners and Tea
Party insurgents than the top-down commentary suggests.

Somewhere in all these activities, people can find fulfilling purpose
again and gradually build a new politics. Don't wait for Barack Obama to
send instructions. And don't count on necessarily making much difference,
at least not right away. The music in democracy starts with people who
take themselves seriously. They first discover they have changed
themselves, then decide they can change others.


--------9 of 10--------

Two Unasked Questions in Tucson Mass Murder
Serious Guns and White Terrorism
By BILL QUIGLEY
January 10, 2011
CounterPunch

Question:  How does a mentally unstable man who was kicked out of school
and had run-ins with the law buy such a serious weapon?

The weapon reportedly used in the mass murders in Tucson was a serious
weapon - a Glock 19, semi-automatic pistol, with an extended magazine.
Some weapons like that were illegal to sell in the US from 1994 to 2004
under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.  It is now legal to sell and own
them.  The National Rifle Association reports there are tens of millions
of assault weapons in private hands in the US.

The federal background check for people purchasing such weapons only
prohibits selling such weapons to people who have been legally determined
to be mentally defective or found insane or convicted of crimes.  This man
had not been found legally mentally defective or convicted so he was
legally entitled to purchase an assault weapon.  In Arizona he was legally
entitled to carry the weapon in a concealed manner.

The US has well over 250 million guns in private hands according to the
National Rifle Association.  That is more, according to the BBC, than any
country in the world.  In one year, guns murdered 17 people in Finland, 35
in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 194 in Germany, 200 in
Canada, and 9,484 in the United States according to the Brady Campaign.

Does the US really need tens of millions of assault weapons and hundreds
of millions of other guns?  We already put more of our people in prison
than any country in the world and we spend more on our military than all
the rest of the world together.  How fearful must we be?

Question:  Why is there so little talk of terrorism?

Apparently when a mentally unstable white male is accused, terrorism is
not the first thing that comes to mind.  White terrorism is not a concept
the US takes seriously.

When Clay Duke, a white male, threatened Florida school board members with
a gun and shot at them before shooting himself, in December 2010, he was
mentally imbalanced.

When Michael Enright, a white male, was arrested for slashing the throat
of a Muslim NYC cab driver in August of 2010, his friends said he had a
drinking problem

When Byron Williams, a white male, was arrested after opening fire on
police officers and admitted he was on his way to kill people at offices
of a liberal foundation and a civil liberties organization, in July 2010,
he was an unemployed right wing felon with a drinking problem.

When Joe Stack, a white male, flew his private plane into a federal
building in Austin, Texas, in February 2010, he was angry with the IRS.

When a white male is accused of mass murder, white terrorism is not much
talked of. Rather the mass murder becomes a terrible tragedy but not one
where race or ethnicity or religion need be examined.

Now, if the accused had been Muslim, does anyone doubt whether this mass
murder would have been considered an act of terrorism?  US Muslims could
have expected increased surveillance and harassment at home and the places
where they work and worship.  They could have expected a Congressional
inquiry into the radicalization of their people.  Oh, Representative Peter
King (R-NY) has already started that one!

Bill Quigley is Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and
law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  You can reach Bill at
quigley77 [at] gmail.com


--------10 of 10--------

What Obama Apologists and Tea Partiers Have in Common
Shared Delusions
By ANDREW LEVINE
January 10, 2011
CounterPunch

What a spectacle Washington has become! Democrats fall over themselves
capitulating to Republicans, expressly as with Obama's "compromise" on
taxes or, more often, preemptively; while establishment Republicans,
fearing the wrath of their useful idiots, capitulate to Tea Partiers, who
therefore call the shots. Such democracy as we have had has always been a
tenuous achievement thanks to institutions that make it difficult for the
will of the people to prevail, and thanks to the inequalities generated by
our barely regulated capitalist system. Thus America has always been more
of a plutocracy, where moneyed interests rule, than a democracy, where the
people rule. Lately, benighted plutocrats have turned their affairs over
to their most deluded servants, conjuring up the prospect of a
full-fledged kakistocracy, a regime where the least able and most foolish
among us control the state.

What makes this possible are the many disempowered voters who are
impervious to reason and indifferent to facts; people who fervently
believe, for example, that the way to stick it to the Wall Street schemers
and gamblers who do them harm is to funnel wealth their way, immiserating
themselves along with almost everyone else in the process. Still, to their
credit, these "folks" (Obama's word for everybody not richer than sin) are
angry, as they have every reason to be. "If the fool would persist in his
folly," declares one of William Blake's "proverbs of hell," "he would
become wise." Blake also wrote that "the tigers of wrath are wiser than
the horses of instruction." The benighted women and men who identify with
the Tea Party exude folly and wrath. They are not necessarily lost causes.
But they have a long way to go before their rage transcends their
delusions, and a great deal of folly to work through. Meanwhile, there is
a grave danger that the movement they comprise will take a more
classically fascistic turn.

[As I write these words, it is still not clear whether yesterday's
massacre in Tucson, where Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot in
the head, is a an opening salvo of a collective movement exerting its
"second amendment rights" Tea Party style or whether it is just what
happens in a gun culture when deranged individuals overload on talk radio
and Fox News.]

Obama apologists have a long way to go too, but their folly is of a
different kind. They are like abused spouses who hold on to the belief
that their abuser is a "good man" (read "progressive") despite everything.
That delusion seldom turns out well for victims of spousal abuse and it
will not turn out well in this case either.

Plutocrats almost always prefer Republicans to Democrats. But in 2008,
because the Bush-Cheney administration had led them to the brink of ruin
and because the Republicans fielded a dunce and a gun-toting, God fearing
nincompoop against the Obama-Biden ticket, the pillars of American
capitalism, some of them anyway, were willing to fulfill Bill Clinton's
dream . to abandon the GOP for the Democrats. Not any more.

Why their change of heart? After all, in Barack Obama, they got what they
bargained for. Republicans may be better than Democrats at redistributing
wealth upwards, though Obama is no slouch. But when it comes to undoing
our feeble welfare state institutions and breaking the back of the labor
movement, Democrats do it better. Case in point: Bill Clinton. Perhaps
Republicans would, on balance, be even more corporate friendly than Obama
has been, but hardly enough to matter. Notwithstanding the pronouncements
of liberal poseurs and pundits of the Howard Dean and Chris Matthews
variety or the whacky perceptions of William Daley, Obama's next chief of
staff and also finance capital's (and Big Pharma's and Telecom's and the
Chamber of Commerce's) main man, Obama started out at the center-right,
not the left, and has been moving rightward ever since. Nevertheless, the
plutocrats have concluded that they're better off with their traditional
flunkies. Why?

The short answer is because Obama is a hapless leader. Despite his many
gifts and uncommon intelligence, he allowed Republicans, dumb as they are,
to outmaneuver him at every turn. He was easy prey to an obdurate foe. So
what if the Nobel Laureate's stewardship of the empire and its wars is of
a piece with George Bush's after 2006 or if the Constitutional law
professor's assault on traditional liberties and the rule of law rivals
his predecessors'. So what if his team of Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan
Chase operatives has taken up where George Bush's left off, opening up the
taxpayers' coffers for the benefit of their banker buddies. Provided she
or he is not totally bonkers, a Republican can do it better.

No doubt. But the calculations of our greediest capitalists hardly make
the belief that Obama is a beleaguered "progressive" up against
insurmountable odds any less delusional. Apart from a few vacuous speeches
given during the campaign and in the first months of his administration,
is there any evidence for that belief at all? The problem is not that
Obama hasn't advanced a vision of a qualitatively better society as a true
progressive would or even that his reforms, though beneficial, enhance
plutocratic power. It is that he has done almost nothing to restore the
minimal decencies that preceded America's Reaganite turn. Is there any
reason to think that he would if he could? Like Obama's enemies, his
apologists think so; they continue to believe, in the face of overwhelming
evidence to the contrary, that Obama is a progressive at heart.

This is the thinking of victims of abuse who stand by their abuser no
matter what; the thinking of those for whom the only defense is no offense
at all. Organized labor is a case in point. Although they were promised
little . basically just the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a reform
nearly as milquetoast as Obama's health care reforms -- no one has worked
harder to elect Democrats. Yet, from Day One, Obama, continuing Bush's
teach-for-tests-and-thinking-be-damned (mis)education reforms . rebranded,
of course, and polished over -- took aim at teachers' unions. His next
move was to license the Republican-Tea Party assault on what remains of
the labor movement, and to legitimize their anti-deficit nostrums, by
freezing the salaries of federal workers, even as he turned over billions
to bankers and acquiesced in massive tax breaks for the rich. Now even
"good Democrats" like Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown are following suit. Is
there any question why, with "progressives" like these, Republicans,
smelling blood, have taken aim at public employees and their unions? And
yet labor is still there for Obama!

A year and a half ago, Democrats could easily have pushed EFCA through.
They could have gotten better health care and Wall Street reforms too,
along with much else. They might even have been able to quash Bush's wars
before they became Obama's. But either Obama was too "bipartisan" and
aloof to bother or else he was happy enough with the way things were. At
this point, this is a distinction without a difference. And it is why
today, in the aftermath of the "shellacking" Democrats took in the
mid-term elections, Obama has let the Republican-Tea Party make the
deficit the issue, and why its remediable causes, our endless
(counter-productive) wars and our savage inequalities, are not part of the
"discussion" on deficit reduction. As Republicans, take aim at Social
Security and Medicare and at 'discretionary spending' . in other words, at
the good things our government does . expect Obama to go along. He is now
setting the stage . loading up his self-declared "centrist" administration
with a gaggle of tried and true "pro-business" Clinton hands who, like
Obama himself, are basically of one mind with Obama's electoral rivals.

The time is therefore past due for everyone whose head is screwed on
right, everyone less "centrist" (rightist) than Howard Dean and Chris
Matthews and hizzoner the mayor's son to set this bipartisan nonsense
aside, and to face the world as it is. The Republicans are a malign force
of nature. There is no working with them. Moreover, the folly of Obama
apologists, unlike the Tea Partiers', has no chance of turning into its
opposite -- for what sustains it is not correctable misinformation fueled
with justifiable rage but cowardice and obtuseness and, above all,
self-deception. It cannot be transformed; it can only be rejected and
replaced.

Republican ineptitude made possible the historical opportunity Obama
squandered, and there is already evidence, after just a few days of
Republican rule in the House, that the kakistocrats running the show will
continue to provide Democrats with fresh opportunities. If they are
buffoonish enough, maybe even the plutocrats will come back on board .
fearing to entrust their affairs to the likes of a Sarah Palin or Michelle
Bachmann. In short, Obama has an excellent chance in 2012.

But that's hardly the point. Except for party hacks, like the ones leaving
the administration and the ones now taking their place, what matters is
not who wins elections, even when, as is likely in 2012, there is a clear
lesser evil. What matters is how policy goes. For that, what happens in
the streets matters more than who the incumbents of political offices may
be. Remember: it was civil society in turmoil that led even Richard Nixon,
heinous as he was, to do more good on the home front than any of the
Democratic presidents who followed him.

As long as Obama apologists stand by their man in the way that abuse
victims stand by theirs, as long as they subordinate their interests to
the conventional view of how best to enhance his electoral prospects, the
kakistocrats will remain in charge. The world cannot wait for Tea Party
supporters to outgrow their folly as per Blake's proverb. There is already
too much hell to pay. It is therefore urgent that Obama apologists be
disabused of their delusions and that those who remain steadfastly
recalcitrant be marginalized by the real partisans of "change."

Andrew Levine is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, the
author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL
KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in
political philosophy. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University
of Maryland-College Park.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------

   - 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





  • (no other messages in thread)

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.