|Progressive Calendar 01.10.11||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|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 passÃ© 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
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