Progressive Calendar 01.29.11
From: David Shove (
Date: Sat, 29 Jan 2011 12:27:57 -0800 (PST)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   01.29.11

1. Home energy      1.29 12noon
2. EcoDemocracy     1.29 1pm
3. CUAPB            1.29 1:30pm
4. Northtown vigil  1.29 2pm
5. Evil capitalism  1.29 7pm
6. TransistionTowns 1.29 7pm

7. Palestine/FBI    1.30 9:55am
8. Food/genocide    1.30 1pm
9. Stillwater vigil 1.30 1pm
10. Money/Pentel    1.30 1pm

11. John V Walsh       - Obama's chokehold on left antiwar activists
12. Alexander Cockburn - President Gasbag
13. Quigley & Spees    - Honduras rights abuses soar a year after coup
14. Gary Leupp         - The Egyptian revolution: a very fine thing

--------1 of 14--------

From: Mary Morse <marym [at]>
Subject: Home energy 1.29 12noon

The nonprofit Neighborhood Energy Connection (NEC) continues its quest to
engage all Saint Paul households in money-saving, comfort-boosting, and
planet-protecting actions with the HOME ENERGY FUNFEST, a FREE,
family-friendly event featuring games, rides, prizes, fresh hot popcorn
and the world premiere of Attack of the Phantom Load.

Noon to 4 p.m. January 29 at Saint Paul's North End Elementary School, 27
East Geranium Avenue.

Expert home energy information, resources for home improvements and
safety, low-income programs, PLUS treats and fun for the entire family.
Participation qualifies Saint Paul households for a $30 Home Energy Squad
visit, plus great financing and rebates.

--------2 of 14--------

From: PRO826 [at]
Subject: EcoDemocracy 1.29 1pm

Learn  About the New Ecology Democracy  Party
Saturday, January 29th
The Hennepin  County Downtown Library, 300 Nicollet, Minneapolis 55401
Room, N-202

We will discuss the Party:
    *   Platform and party documents
    *   Organizing  Vision
    *   Volunteer Opportunities
Please RSVP due to limited space.  612/387-0601
Ken  Pentel

--------3 of 14--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: CUAPB 1.29 1:30pm

Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

--------4 of 14--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 1.29 2pm

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

--------5 of 14--------

From: Tom Dooley <fellowcommoditydooley [at]>
Subject: Evil capitalism 1.29 7pm  [ed head]

The owner/employers of U.S. corporations and businesses have moved
factories off-shore, have used illegal tactics to stop unions from
organizing, have cut wages, and taken away health care and retirement

Are they bad people or ordinary people who do bad things?

[Or, as ed would have it - BOTH - an evil system maintained and expanded
by evil people. Yes capitalism is EVIL EVIL EVIL and needs to be spat upon
and run off the planet. Patooey! But that does not let the evil DOERs off
the hook. Yes, so long as EVIL CAPITALISM is there, men will be found to
run it even though we kick each group of evildoers into the middle of next
week. The evil system finds and/or creates evil men to do its evil deeds.
But the evil men do them, and work to make the evil system even more
insideously evil. So, BOTH. Don't let the evil men off the hook just
because the system is EVIL and needs to be IMMEIATELY REPLACED. The system
is not able to act, only men act; if they all left, capitalism would die a
well-deserved death. Patooey! -ed]

Join the group Sat eve, share food and drink and have your say.

--------6 of 14--------

From: Amber Garlan <agarlan [at]>
Subject: TransistionTowns 1.29 7pm

Our first book club meeting of the year is this Saturday, 1/29/11!  We
meet at 7:00 p.m. in the community room between 161 and 163 on Erie Street
in St. Paul.

We are reading "The Transition Handbook" by Rob Hopkins.  What a great
book!  What a great movement the Transition Movement is!  This book is a
how to guide on how local food and local energy is way to deal with peak
oil and climate change.

Many towns in England have started successful transition town movements.
Rob Hopkins talks about how they did it.

"One of the key areas of Transition Falmouth's (TF) work has been in
building partnerships.  They have made strategic partnerships with Friends
of the Earth, the Town Centre Forum, the Town Council&#8230;The Transition
approach of embedding peak oil and climate change and looking for common
ground managed to draw together previously disparate groups to produce
important local action.  Some of the practical projects that have emerged
from TF include:

 *  "Darnit" - an arts and rafts group which brings
    people together to learn/share knitting, sewing and other craft
 *  The beginnings of a move to make Falmouth plastic-bag free
 *  A food group, whose first event was Seedy Saturday &#8211; a
    seed-exchange day
 *  Supporting Falmouth School to become an "Eco-School"
"The Transition Handbook" by Rob Hopkins, page 204

See everybody this Saturday, I will bake cookies, Peace, Amber

--------7 of 14--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Palestine/FBI 1.30 9:55am

Panel Discussion: "Constitutional Rights / International Relations"
Sunday, January 30, 9:55 a.m. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Library, 2730
East 31st Street, Minneapolis.

Sarah Martin and other subpoenaed peace activists will be ordered to
answer questions before a grand jury about travels to Palestine. Sarah
will update us on her case and its ramifications. Ted Dooley will help us
understand grand jury proceedings. Dale Stuepfert, an ELCA past visitor to
a solidarity group in Palestine, will describe the harassment they have
experienced in Israel. Sponsored by: Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. FFI:
Call 612-729-8358.

--------8 of 14--------

From: Jason Stone <jason.stone [at]>
Subject: Food/genocide 1.30 1pm

"Food Fuel Water: Resource Scarcity and Genocide" 01/30/11
Sunday, January 30, 2011 "Food Fuel Water: Resource Scarcity and Genocide"

Join us on January 30, 2011 for a symposium on how the lack of food, fuel,
water and other resources helped drive the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur.

Symposium speakers will include Dr Charlie Clements, Executive Director of
the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard University, Jim Harkness,
President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and Dr. Eric
James, Program Director of the American Refugee Committee.

The event is being hosted at William Mitchell College of Law, 875 Summit
Avenue, St. Paul, MN from 1:00-4:00pm.

3 CLE credits offered; 3 continuing education units for educators.
Event is open to the public, fee $10; $25 for CLE.

--------9 of 14--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 1.30 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------10 of 14--------

From: lydiahowell [at]
Subject: Money/Pentel 1.30 1pm

SUN.JAN..30:Ecology Democracy Network Workshop/post

SUN.JAN.30:Ecology Democracy Network hosts Rich Kotlarz & John Stirling
Walker for a Conversation on "Money, Society & the Spirit"

The Ecology Democracy Network continues to explore new and emerging ideas
with monetary theorist Rich Kotlarz , director of the "Council on Money
and Society" for Third Threshold Ministering of Cheyenne, Wyoming, with
special guest, poet and minister John Stirling Walker (chairman of Third
Threshold Ministering's Governance Board), on the subject of Money,
Society and the Spirit :

Sunday, January 30
Hennepin County Central Library,
300 Nicollet, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Room N-202.

Rich and John will explore, from a spiritual/economic perspective, the
concerns of those who hold a heartfelt commitment to bring about a better
world. (Rich was my teacher and inspiration for the Minnesota Currency .)

Please RSVP due to limited space .

Ken Pentel
Director of the Ecology Democracy Network
P.O. Box 3872 Minneapolis, MN 55403
kenpentel [at]
(612) 387-0601

--------11 of 14--------

Obama's Chokehold on Left Antiwar Activists
The Disillusioned Vacillate
by John V. Walsh
January 28th, 2011
Dissident Voice

[No matter how bad it gets, millions of culpable lesser-evil liberals will
vote yet again for Obama and regression. Thank them if a final coup comes.
If Tunisia and Egypt etc were full of lesser-evillers, there would be only
mass acceptance of despotism.  As here.  -ed]

An anti-Obama manifesto of sorts, in the form of a petition, was issued
this week, signed by over 150 Left antiwar activists. As I read the first
paragraph, eager to sign, my hopes were quickly dashed. It reads:

We the undersigned share with nearly two-thirds of our fellow Americans
the conviction that our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should be ended and
that overall military spending should be dramatically reduced. This has
been our position for years and will continue to be, and we take it

So far, so good, even admirable - although some of the signers backed
Obama even as he promised more war in 2008. But perhaps disillusionment
had finally taken hold. So what is to be done, according to the
petitioners? That comes in the next sentence.

We vow not to support President Barack Obama for renomination (emphasis,
j.w.) for another term in office, and to actively seek to impede his war
policies unless and until he reverses them.

"Renomination"? Many of these very people were calling for George W.
Bush's impeachment for doing what Obama is doing now, although Obama is
doing more of it, as the rest of the petition makes clear.

"Renomination"? Does anyone think that the Democratic Party machine will
deny Obama the nomination in 2012? And is there even the faintest
suggestion here that the petitioners will try to field another candidate,
a genuine peace candidate?

"Renomination"? Does that mean that the signatories will vote for Obama
once he has been nominated out of fear of the Republican "fascists," as
the Republican opposition, not much different from Obama himself, is so
often and so glibly labeled.

As we all know, politicians in general and Obama in particular care not
one whit about petitions such as these. They care only about a threat to
being elected or re-elected. The time for begging or petitioning Obama to
change is long since past. It is time to organize an alternative. If a
serious challenge to Obama and indeed to both War Parties is to be
mounted, it must begin soon. Unfortunately no such challenge has appeared
on the horizon as yet. It certainly does not appear in this petition. Time
is running out, and petitions like these can even forestall necessary
action by giving people the false sense that they "have done something".

The manifesto makes it clear that two thirds of Americans are now antiwar.
And many of that two-thirds care little for the Democratic Party or for
Obama. But the word "renomination" was chosen to keep the locus of antiwar
activity within the Democratic Party. That is a losing strategy as we have
learned over and over again. Such statements as this petition are not
casually penned and their words not lightly chosen.

Would it not be better to reach out to the Right, both Libertarians like
Ron and Rand Paul and Justin Raimondo at and Paleos like Dan
McCarthy at The American Conservative or Lew Rockwell or the Future of
Freedom Foundation? Some functionary in the White House sub-basement
assigned to keep watch on antiwar intellectuals must have breathed a sigh
of relief that no mention was made of that. But how can one refuse to
develop such alliances with the antiwar Right and others? To fail at that
will only lead to a smaller antiwar movement and the probability that
Obama's armies of Empire will continue to grind millions into the dust?
Can that be justified morally?

Most of the signatories are principled women and men disgusted with war.
But the action against Obama they call for does not match the crimes they
cite - it does not even come close. Electoral action, among other forms of
activism, is needed, and the considerable prestige attached to some on
this list of signatories can help to initiate such action. On the other
hand, some among the signers have always come down on the side of the Dems
in the end, no matter what they do. Let us hope that the latter are not in
the driver's seat and that this manifesto is but one brief step on a
determined and forceful march to field a badly needed alternative in 2012.
The hour is late and lives by the score are lost every day at Obama's

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar [at] gmail.comw

--------12 of 14--------

President Gasbag
January 28 - 30, 2011

After watching President Obama's state of the union, plus the first
Republican response to it by Rep Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, and the second
response by Rep Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, chair of the Tea Party
caucus in Congress, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that if nations
survive and prosper by realistic assessment of their problems, America
really is finished.

Obama surely instructed his speech writers to capitalize on his successful
outing to the memorial in Tucson, where he gave a speech that essentially
reprised the campaign rhetoric of 2008 that got him elected in the first
place.  The result in Congress Tuesday night was the quintessence of

The keynote was unity, symbolized by Democrats and Republicans eschewing
their normal factional seating pattern in favor of interspecies mixing.
Rep Joe Wilson, famous for having shouted "You lie" at Obama during his
health care speech to a joint session of Congress in 2009, now sat
demurely next to two lady Democrats.  Supreme Court Justice Alito who
mouthed a reproof at Obama at his last state of the union, didn't even
show.  Neither did the other two most conservative justices, Antonin
Scalia and Clarence Thomas, (the latter now in hot water for failing to
reveal on his financial disclosure forms the nearly $690,OOO paid to his
wife Ginni by a right-wing lobby shop, the Heritage Foundation between

The consequence was a markedly less spirited, partisan affair. Instead of
bounding to their feet in raptures of applause or snarling in their
chairs, the nation's legislators sat demure and glassy eyed as Obama gave
a pep rally on America's crisis.

It was all very, very familiar.  America has lost its technological
dominance. Solution: Kennedy's New Frontier, when the shocking challenge
of the Russian sputnik, launched into space in 1957, led to the US moon
shot - which in turn "unleashed an age of innovation". (Actually it led to
the bogus "missile gap" and the building of 2000 ICBMs, a giant leap
forward for the arms race.)  America now faces another "sputnik moment".
The challenge:  to "out-innovate, out-educate and outbuild the rest of the
world" .

This is to be achieved by a green revolution in energy, better schools and
teachers, efficient government subservient to the needs of business, less

>From the 1970s we got a reprise of President Nixon and President Carter's
pledges of energy independence. Obama's version was spectacular in its
divorce from reality. He set a "goal" - soothing word - that by 2035 --
five presidential terms after his last conceivable day in office in 2016
-- 80 per cent of America's energy "will come from clean energy sources".
This being Obama, it turned out in the next sentence he was counting not
only wind and solar but also coal, natural gas and nuclear power as
"clean". Even so, without oil, the notion is ludicrous.

Every president calls for Americans to do better at science. Clinton made
a veritable industry out of it, also out of "reinventing government",
which Obama also proposes to rehab in the form of a new onslaught on
burdensome regulation, so crippling to the American entrepreneurial
spirit, not to mention Justice Thomas's peace of mind.  Like Clinton,
Obama wants every American child to have the ability to log onto the
internet, though presumably only to do home work and not read the sort of
incendiary political and ethical tracts studied so keenly by that child of
the internet and foe of schools, Jared Loughner of Tucson.

"Take a school like Bruce Randolph in Denver," said Obama. "Three years
ago, it was rated one of the worst schools in Colorado; located on turf
between two rival gangs. But last May, 97 per cent  of the seniors
received their diploma. Most will be the first in their family to go to
college. And after the first year of the school's transformation, the
principal who made it possible wiped away tears when a student said "Thank
you, Mrs. Waters, for showing .. that we are smart and we can make it..".

I asked Rob Prince, a CounterPuncher in Denver what the real story is on
Bruce Randolph. Rob sent me back this comment from Phil Woods, a poet
andretired teacher:

"My take on Bruce Randolph, and I used to know the principal a little bit
because she was an assistant at South when I first got there, is that it
fits the Arnie Duncan model. You cherry pick minorities for college track,
kick out all the other difficult kids, get the unions to give you a waiver
so you work the teachers to death and call it progress. The point is, as
with charter schools, this kind of stuff tends to be unsustainable because
it causes teacher burn out. As with so much else, educational "reform" has
to use market forces, etc. etc. All else is outside the pale".

The deficit is to be fought by a freeze in annual domestic spending for
the next five years, which will reduce the deficit by $400 billion and
reduce discretionary spending, Obama vowed, to the level of the Eisenhower
years.  This pledge seems to undercut the government investment required
for a green energy revolution, plus a high speed rail network, not to
mention our old friend - probably the most realistic passage in the entire
speech - a redoubling investment in road and bridge repair, the standard
make-work ploy of every president trying to create jobs.

The left got a vague pledge from Obama not to mess with Social Security
plus a rhetorical kick at the oil companies. The right got substantive
support for lowering corporate taxes plus all sorts of agreeable
commitments about cutting Medicare and so forth.  There was even a very
vague hint, in a sentence ("I'm asking Democrats and Republicans to
simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field")
that Obama might head towards giving up the progressive tax system
altogether and head towards the rightwingers' dream of a flat tax, which
usually, in its habitual right-wing garb spells out as roughly an 18 per
cent rate for poor and rich alike, a putative levy much appreciated by the
rich, or at least those among them whose accountants aren't inventive to
ensure that they pay no taxes at all.

Success, the members of Congress learned from the President, is "a
function of hard work and discipline", "the future is ours to win", "the
changes  we face are bigger.. than politics".  Obama did not forget to
reassure the US Congress that  "America is a  light to the world" (a steal
from Woodrow Wilson),  that "we do big things" and that "our destiny
remains our choice".

Obama's address was swiftly followed by official rebuttal from Paul Ryan
of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee,  noted for  calling
for swift privatization of Social Security.  Sensitive to the spirit of
warmth and bipartisanship Ryan did not disclose to the national audience
this ambition, but stressed the traditional fantasy message of small-town
Republicanism: budgets have to be balanced, no matter how much blood - a
word he did NOT use - might be left on the floor:  "limited government,
low taxes, reasonable regulations, and sound money/ Limited government and
free enterprise have helped make America the greatest nation on earth.
These are not easy times, but America is an exceptional nation".

Then -- screened only by CNN, -- came the fiery Bachmann, fresh from an
outing to Iowa last weekend where she claimed the Founding Fathers had
been stalwart foes of slavery and had successfully labored to end it,
which would have come as news to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
It's probably because she gave up reading any history after her ugly
uexperience with Gore Vidal's Aaron Burr: "He was kind of mocking the
Founding Fathers and I just thought, 'I just remember reading the book,
putting it in my lap, looking out the window and thinking, 'You know what?
I don't think I am a Democrat. I must be a Republican.'"

Bachmann's star is rising as the new Sarah Palin, the ur-model now a
fading farce. She certainly gave the most spirited presentation of the
evening in five short minutes, replete with the sort of charts Glenn Beck
likes use. She dwelled on a fact omitted by Obama from the resume of his
successes, namely that that unemployment rate is still at 9.4 per cent,
despite a $3 trillion increase in the deficit: "Instead of a leaner,
smarter government, we bought a bureaucracy that now tells us which
lightbulbs to buy and which may put 16,500 IRS agents in charge of
policing President Obama's health care bill".

That's Tea Party talk which at least has the virtue of concreteness.

Bachmann did not fail to note that "America is the indispensable nation of
the world".

As noted at the outset, the evening marked another downward swoop in the
national fantasy. The rest of the world got only fleeting mention from
Obama, nothing from Ryan and a brief allusion to Iwojima from Bachmann,
who clearly did not know that the famous photo of the raising of the flag
was a staged replay. The relationship of war - as currently waged in
Afghanistan - to the national deficit was not mentioned by any of the
speakers, even though Stewart Lawrence wrote here last week very
interestingly about a Left-Tea Party alliance on Pentagon spending.  Ryan
and Bachmann made no mention of military spending.

All three ignored the export of jobs and the destruction of American
manufacturing and the pauperization of American families.  Obama seemed to
trying to stage a replay of his own, of the US economy in the 1950s. "We
do big things". No we don't. We do Stupid Big Things, dating back to that
last heyday of Stupid Big Thing Thinking - dam constructon in the 1930s,
surging to the disaster of the Glen Canyon dam and Lake Powell in the
1950s, the same decade freeway construction - Big Concrete -- destroyed
city after city the same way - albeit more permanently -- Big Bombing
destroyed Germany and many countries thereafter. Mr President: Big
Thingishess is past, like the new tunnel to Manhattan from New Jersey.
It's an unfinished Tunnel to nowhere, like the Bridge to nowhere in
Alaska; boondoggles so swollen in their porkerish immensity that even
their boosters run out of hot air trying to justify them. Is it $350
billion for the F-35? Let's hear $400 billion. Give me $500 billion!

Nothing about the costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan - without which
there would be no deficit right now. Nothing about the costs of that Big
Thing - the American gulag and its three million unproductive denizens.
It's not just that none of Tuesday night's speakers had any sort of a sane
plan. None of them had a map of America's recent history, to help them
figure out where the ship of state has drifted, sails in tatters and
parrots perched on the yard arm, squawking about America's singular

Alexander Cockburn can be reached at alexandercockburn [at]

--------13 of 14--------

Human Rights Abuses Soar a Year After Coup
Seems Like Old Times in Honduras
January 28 - 30, 2011

[Obama brings "democracy" to Honduras. -ed]

In recent remarks on U.S.-Latin American relations made at the Brookings
Institute, Arturo Valenzuela, a State Department official with
responsibility for the region, commented that Honduras, two years removed
from a coup that U.S. officials on the ground called illegal, had "made
significant progress in strengthening democratic governance [and]
promoting national reconciliation..."

Viewing the situation on the ground here in Honduras, one can only wonder
where the Assistant Secretary is getting his information. In fact, as
President Porfirio Lobo Sosa approaches the anniversary of his first year
in office, the reverse is true. Gross violations of human rights directed
against activists, opposition leaders and journalists reveal a government
that is far removed from democracy and a nation that is far from

Only two days after Valenzuela's remarks, a resistance leader named Juan
Chinchilla was abducted at gunpoint by masked men in police and military
uniforms.  After suffering two days of being burned, beaten and
interrogated he was able to escape in the night.  In an interview after
his kidnapping, Chinchilla stated that his interrogators had numerous
surveillance photos of himself and other resistance leaders.

Indeed, reports of political murders, kidnappings and torture are common
here and resistance leaders report constant surveillance. While there are
no official counts, we have learned of 36 activists and leaders murdered
since Lobo took office.  At least 50 other people were killed in political
violence for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  In
addition, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reports it
received information that the children of anti-coup forces were being
kidnapped, attacked and threatened as a strategy to silence the

Unprecedented violence against journalists is not an indicator of
democratic governance and reconciliation.  According to the Committee to
Protect Journalists (CPJ), eight journalists were killed in the first half
of Lobo's first year in office, prompting Reporters Without Borders to
name Honduras the most dangerous country in the world for journalists.

Another disturbing development in the wake of the coup has been an
increase of violence directed against LGBT activists, many of whom are
associated with the opposition to the coup and have played a vital
organizing role in the resistance. The pattern is continuing in 2011.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reported that
since the beginning of January three transgendered people were murdered.
Since Pam has been in Honduras two more murders of members of the LGBT
community have been reported.

In the midst of this escalating political violence, Assistant Secretary
Valenzuela's blithe comment is disturbingly dissonant.  Rather than
provide cover for the regime the State Department should use its influence
to consistently and publically denounce politically motivated violence and
the systematic violation of human rights and, as thirty members of
Congress requested of the administration last October, they must cut off
U.S. assistance to Honduran authorities, particularly the police and
military.  Then, maybe, we can talk about "progress" in Honduras.

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

Pam Spees is a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional
Rights and is currently on a fact-finding mission in Honduras.

--------14 of 14--------

A Very Fine Thing
The Egyptian Revolution
January 28 - 30, 2011

January 28, 2011, Day of Rage.

I'm watching live coverage of the Egyptian revolution on Al-Jazeera TV.
Cairo is swarming with hundreds of thousands, defying the curfew, hurling
stones at the police. The images recall the Palestinian youth waging their
Intifadas. The National Democratic Party headquarters is in flames.
Downtown Suez has been taken over by the people, two police stations
torched. The security forces are out in strength and shooting into crowds.
But the people have lost their fear.

Reporters and commentators on Al-Jazeera and other channels have no choice
but to note that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is widely hated, and
that those in the street are seeking freedom from a dictatorship. But they
also keep saying "The situation is getting worse".


I think of Mao Zedong's response to critics of peasant rebellion in China
in 1927. He noted that "even progressive people" saw uprisings as
"terrible". "But it's not terrible," he declared. "It is anything but
'terrible'. It's fine!"

Watching the live coverage, I see the people of Egypt, fed up with their
oppression, and inspired by the revolution in Tunisia, doing something
very, very fine. It is inspiring. It is profoundly hopeful.

The Obama administration line (as summarized by Joe Biden, interviewed by
Jim Lehrer on PBS), can be summarized as follows: Egyptians have the right
to protest. Many are middle class folks, with legitimate concerns. But we
should not refer to Mubarak as a dictator. It's not time for him to go. He
has been a key ally of the U.S. and Israel, in the "Middle East peace
process" and the War on Terror. Egypt is dissimilar to Tunisia, and it
would be "a stretch" to suggest that a trend is underway. The U.S. should
encourage those protesting and Mubarak to talk. Everyone should avoid

The mainstream infotainment media spin can be summarized like this: The
"unrest" in Egypt puts the U.S. in a difficult position. On the one hand
Mubarak has abetted U.S. "national interests" and been Israel's only Arab
ally. (These two are always assumed to be closely linked; the notion that
an Arab leader is a friend of the U.S. to the extent that he kisses
Israel's ass is never questioned.) On the other hand, U.S. officials have
been saying for years that the Middle East needs "democratic reform".

This puts in the U.S. in a bind, we are told. The U.S. confronts a
"dilemma". The talking heads depict the U.S. as somehow a victim in this
situation. (Isn't it terrible, they're implying, that the Egyptian people
by their militancy in favor of supposed U.S. ideals are trying to topple
the USA's best friend in the Arab world? What a headache to have to deal

Seems to me however that this is another of those instances of chickens
coming home to roost.

The U.S. has supported Mubarak primarily in appreciation for his stance
towards Israel. (The mainstream media is referring to him as an "ally" of
Israel.) It's not really because he's been a "partner in the peace
process" - because there is no real peace process. Relentless Israeli
settlement activity on Palestinian land supported by the Lobby in the U.S.
has insured that.

Wikileaks documents indicate that Mubarak has been content for the
"process" to lag indefinitely so that he could represent himself as the
vital Arab middleman while enjoying two billion in U.S. military aid per
year.  But Palestinians hate him for cooperating with the demonization of
democratically elected Hamas and the embargo imposed on Gaza. And
Egyptians hate him for, among many other things, betraying their
Palestinian brothers and sisters.

Rather, the U.S. has supported Mubarak because he's provided an Arab fig
leaf for the unequivocal support for Israel that the U.S. has provided for
decades. U.S. diplomats have, as Wikileaks reveal, at times expressed
concern that the dictator might be causing some problems by his
"heavy-handed" treatment of dissidents. But this is not a matter of moral
indignation, or concern about the lives of Egyptians. It's nothing more
than an expression of concern that his fascistic rule might jeopardize his
ability to help U.S.-Israeli policy in the region and keep the Suez Canal

And now that brutal rule has caused an explosion. The reaction from U.S.
officials and political commentators is, "We never expected this".

Well surprise, surprise! (These folks were dumbfounded by the Iranian
Revolution of 1979 as well. Don't they understand that people eventually
fight back?)

I think of that old Langston Hughes poem:

 What happens to a dream deferred?
 Does it dry up
 like a raisin in the sun?
 Or fester like a sore -
 And then run?
 Does it stink like rotten meat?
 Or crust and sugar over -
 like a syrupy sweet?
 Maybe it just sags
 like a heavy load.
 Or does it explode?

Egypt is exploding. The deferred dreams of the Arab world are exploding.
And even the corporate media acknowledges that the people are jubilant
(while warning that none of this might be in "our interest"). But for
people with some basic morals, concerned about the happiness of humanity
in general, is this not totally fine?

Al-Jazeera shows viewers how U.S. officials are changing the tone of their
comments, backing off more and more each day from support of Mubarak.
They're reiterating with increasing emphasis that the demonstrators indeed
have legitimacy. (Did these people they just figure this out?) What sheer

Obama, always the centrist opportunist wanting to be everybody's friend,
wants to be the Egyptian people's friend. He showed that in Cairo in 2009.
In his celebrated speech to the Muslim world he on the one hand spouted
platitudes about U.S. acceptance of Islam and on the other insulted
everyone's intelligence by calling the invasion of Afghanistan a "war of
necessity". He (accurately) described the vicious assault on Iraq as a
"war of choice," but said anything about how those responsible for such a
crime ought to be punished. He does not support any investigation that
would show how neocon Zionists in his predecessor's administration faked a
case for war that has killed hundreds of thousands of Arabs.

His real message is:  the U.S. can lie and kill, and then posture as the
moral exemplar (maybe even apologizing slightly when crimes are
embarrassingly exposed). Even so, the people of the world are supposed to
understand that alignment with the U.S. is the best hope of their best

And now Obama wants the best of both worlds: an ongoing engagement with
Mubarak (if he survives), and a hand outstretched to the people of Egypt,
tainted by so many other handshakes with so many dictators so far.

Demonstrators in Cairo note that tear gas canisters on the street are
marked "Made in USA". What should they to make of that? Who's really
encouraging their dreams? Who's caused them to defer them, decade upon
decade? It's the same foe that has caused the deferment of dreams here in
this country and around the world.

I learned to say shukran in Cairo. To my friends there now, engaged in
this fine, fine battle, I say that now.

Shukran, shukran  for inspiring the world, showing that another world
might be possible.

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

[Lesser-evil liberals complain that "revolution is so (yuk)
revolutionary. Why can't they just vote for the guy who's already there,
shut up and suck it up, and wait for the pendulum of time to make teeny
tiny changes that won't upset lesser-evil liberals, ie us? Meanwhile if a
lot of people have to die, starve, be tortured, etc, etc, etc, well, too
bad but so what? Our glorious tranquillity trumps their puny pissant
troubles." -ed]


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