|Progressive Calendar 04.04.11||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 4 Apr 2011 13:50:51 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 04.04.11 1. MidClass march 4.04 5pm 2. Peace walk 4.04 6pm RiverFalls WI 3. MidEast course 4.04 6pm 4. Uhcan-mn 4.04 7:30pm 5. End of suburbia 4.05 6:30pm 6. Alliant vigil 4.06 7am 7. Mike Whitney - Class warfare scorecard - guess who's winning? 8. John V Walsh - Turmoil favors Obama's impeachment 9. Chris Hedges - This is what resistance looks like 10. Krista Menzel - April 20: Chris Hedges at Macalester College 11. David M Green - When pigs rule 12. ed - PPP --------1 of 12-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: MidClassMarch 4.04 5pm March for the Middle Class: "We Are One" Monday, April 4, 5:00 p.m. (Gather) Cathedral Park, Marshall Avenue and John Ireland Boulevard, St. Paul. 5:15 p.m. (March) Through the streets. 6:00 p.m. (Program and Music) Minnesota State Capitol, 75 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, St. Paul. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, where he had gone to stand with sanitation workers demanding their dream: The right to bargain collectively for a voice at work and a better life. Today, that same demand is electrifying people across America. It's the demand of all people - black, white, Latino and Asian American: The right to join together for our common dreams. Join others in St. Paul as they stand in solidarity for jobs, a fair budget and worker rights! Look for the large "How is the War Economy Working for You?" banner and walk with WAMM. Bring your anti-war signs and wear your WAMM gear and help make the connection between the money that we spend on wars abroad and the money that we don't spend on domestic needs here at home. Organized by: Minnesota AFL-CIO. FFI: Call 651-227-7647. --------2 of 12-------- From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net> Subject: Peace walk 4.04 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 --------3 of 12-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: MidEast course 4.04 6pm Have recent popular revolutions piqued your interest in the Middle East? A course on Middle East Conflicts will be held through St. Paul Community Education, on five consecutive Monday evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., beginning Monday, April 4 at Como Park Senior High School, 740 West Rose Avenue, St. Paul. "Critical Conversations: Middle East Conflicts" will address conflicts in the Middle East that range from Israel-Palestine, to Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan, to Iran and beyond. The world's attention is often focused on dramatic incidents in one or more of these areas at a time when the entire Middle East is experiencing extraordinary political, social, and economic upheaval, as witnessed by the recent popular revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere. The role of the United States regarding each of these countries is not always clear to the average American. In order to bring authentic justice, peace, and security to the Middle East, we need to identify the real issues and views of the people directly affected, to overcome misconceptions, and to reach an understanding of the root causes of these inter-related conflicts. In each class the instructor will offer background information along with a handout that includes reading suggestions, show a film or film excerpt, and conduct a discussion following the film. Some film and topic substitutions may be made. Session 1: Introduction to Possible Roots of the Conflicts in this Region, with a showing of the late Palestinian-American Edward Said's "On Orientalism"; Session 2: The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: Historical Background, the Current Situation, the Future, with a showing of Jewish-American activist Anna Baltzer's "Life in Occupied Palestine"; Session 3: U.S. Foreign Policy in Iraq and Afghanistan (and Pakistan): the Role of Oil, with a showing of "The Oil Factor"; Session 4: Iran - Inside a Shii Islamic State Suspected by the United States, with a showing of "Iran Is Not the Problem"; and Session 5: Back to the Original Source of Conflict in the Middle East, and the Question Whether These Conflicts Are Connected, with a showing of two interviews with Israeli historian Ilan Pappé: "Israel: Myths and Propaganda - the Truth about the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine," and "Pappé Critiques Reactions to His Work," in which he describes the change in Israeli public opinion that occurred after the onset of the second Palestinian intifada and the personal consequences for himself. The instructor, Elizabeth Burr, Ph.D., has lived and taught in the Middle East as well as at Metropolitan State University and St. Catherine University. For more information and to register: call 651-293-8733 or go online to www.commedspps.org, web site of St. Paul Public Schools Community Education>Adult Programs>Personal Growth> "Critical Conversations: Middle East Conflicts." Fee: $39 for the course. CONTACT: Elizabeth Burr 651-699-6407 --------4 of 12-------- From: Joel Albers <joel [at] uhcan-mn.org> Subject: Uhcan-mn 4.04 7:30pm Hope you can attend. The HMOs are in the media and public eye. Now is an opportune time to continue to expose HMOs,plan some ACTIONS. Bring your ideas. MayDay Parade is just around the corner too !!! Next UHCAN-MN mtg, monday April 4, 7:30pm, Walker Church, 3104 16th ave S., mpls,55406 (near Bloomingtom ave and lake Street). items so far: 1.Reportbacks: 2.Results of Letter to Commissioner of Dept Human, phone discussion w/ Commissioner of Labor and Industry, mtg w/ MN Dept of Health Commissioner RE: why all state-funded health care should be consolidated, self-funded, operated within 1 state agency. 3.UCare's, other HMOs excessive profit reserve fund media attention,how to keep media pressure on ? 4.brainstorm participation in MayDay Parade. Theme "Uproar".Also upcoming parades, festivals. 5.How can health care reform groups NETWORK, COORDINATE better, even in simple ways ? additional items for the agenda ? come for the coffee/tea, snacks, stay for the conversation, Happy Spring, --------5 of 12-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: End of suburbia 4.05 6:30pm Tuesday, April 5, in keeping w/the book we read, The Transition Handbook, we will show the DVD, The End of Suburbia. This film explores the AMerican Way of Life and how we have had cheap oil for so long and what is it doing to us. The film tells us a lot about what needs to be done today, and it tells it w/brutal honesty and a touch of irony. 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 12-------- From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at] circlevision.org> Subject: Alliant vigil 4.06 7am Join us Wednesday morning, 7-8 am Now in our 14th year of consecutive Wednesday morning vigils outside Alliant Techsystems, 7480 Flying Cloud Drive Eden Prairie. We ask Who Profit$? Who Dies? directions and lots of info: alliantACTION.org --------7 of 12-------- "Big business is nothing more than legalized fleecing disguised as legitimate enterprise.... This two-tiered system only serves the interests of the privileged few and their spoiled kids. The only way to level the playing field is by ripping it up and starting over." Guess Who's Winning? Class Warfare Scorecard By MIKE WHITNEY April 4, 2011 CounterPunch According to a new report by the BEA, personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased by $69 billion (7 percent), while personal income rose by only $38 billion (3 percent) in February. So consumers are back to their old ways again, spending more than they earn? Well, not exactly. The truth is, consumer spending is slowing down because food and energy are taking a bigger chunk out of the old paycheck. After factoring in inflation, personal consumption is up just 3 percent while real income fell to 1 percent. In other words, the numbers look a lot different once you factor in inflation. The reason all this matters, is because consumption is 70 percent of GDP, so if the consumer is on the ropes and getting pummeled by stagnant wages and inflation at the same time, then you can bet the economy is headed for the dumpster. Of course, a good portion of the blame for this mess goes to Ben Bernanke whose miracle QE2 elixir has kept the stock market bubbly while commodities and food prices have skyrocketed. That's the real source of the problem, an uneven policy that rewards the investment class while leaving the workerbees (you and me) fending off soaring prices. Bernanke says we shouldn't worry about the higher prices because core inflation is still low. (roughly 1%) That's easy to say for guy who's never filled his gas tank in his life, but for everyone else inflation is a killer that forces them to cut their spending or shed more debt, neither of which is easy to do. So, yes, personal consumption has gone up, but only by a hair. The truth is, people are running harder just to stay in the same place. They're not making any headway at all. In fact, this whole myth about credit-addled shoppers going crazy at Macy's so they can load up on designer jeans and Italian leather boots, is pure bunkum. For most people, it's a hand-to-mouth existence 24-7. Most of their time is spent figuring out how they can stretch the budget or feed a family of four on pinto beans and Velveeta. They don't have the cash for luxuries, unless you consider Spam a luxury. Of course, the reason for this is that all the gains from worker productivity in the last 30 years have gone to management. The front office rakes in the golden ducats while the workers get a pat-on-the-head and a "see ya later, Charlie". It's the same everywhere. Take a look at this in the WSJ: "Consider that back in 1970, wages, salaries and employee benefits accounted for about three-quarters of total U.S. personal income as measured by Commerce. Dividend, interest and rental income contributed about 14%, while government-backed benefits, including disability, unemployment and welfare, were less than 8% of the total. That changed in the ensuing decades as government programs expanded, the population aged and wealth disparities increased. By 2005, salaries, wages and benefits were about 67% of the total. In 2010, they dropped to 64%. Meanwhile, the shares of total income from dividend, interest and rental income and, especially, government benefit payments increased.... Unfortunately, the dwindling share of wage income fits with the broader erosion of the U.S. middle class. Roughly 40% of consumer spending these days is generated by the upper fifth of households. UniCredit economist Harm Bandholz notes that the share of U.S. consumption financed by labor income has steadily declined to about 61% today from 85% in 1970." ("Income Gains Not Lifting All Boats", Kelly Evans, Wall Street Journal) Funny how that works, eh? Funny how American-style capitalism is like a big conveyor-belt trundling all the wealth to those on the top floor. And, it's getting worse too. The gross inequality now exceeds the period before the '29 Crash and rivals the robber barons era. Hey, we're back in the Gilded Age. And what are all these fatcats doing with their mountains of money...planning for the future, building a stronger economy, reinvesting in America? Hell, no. They're swapping paper assets with each other to goose the market so they can leave their bratty kids another billion or two before they meet their maker. Don't believe me? This is from Bloomberg: "U.S. executives are starting to spend the record $940 billion in cash they built up after the credit crisis, just in time for annual shareholder meetings. Takeovers topped $256 billion this quarter... Standard & Poor's 500 Index companies authorized 38 percent more buybacks in 2011 than a year earlier and dividends may increase to a record $31.07 a share in 2013... Chief executive officers are looking for ways to increase investor returns after posting THE BIGGEST GAIN IN PROFITS SINCE 1988 by relying on near-zero Federal Reserve interest rates and cost cuts that have kept the unemployment rate near a 26-year high....Companies in the S&P 500 have been piling up money for two years as per-share profit jumped 36 percent in 2010, the most in more than two decades... Companies including Limited Brands Inc., owner of the Victoria's Secret chain, are relying on debt to reward shareholders. The drop in borrowing costs to a three-year low has given executives the incentive to sell bonds and use the proceeds to repurchase stock and pay dividends... S&P 500 companies have approved $149.8 billion in share repurchases in the past three months... "Having this much cash on the balance sheet earning essentially nothing is hurting companies' numbers, it's hurting their return on equity, it's hurting their ability to provide income in the long run for investors," said David Kelly, who helps oversee about $445 billion as chief market strategist for JPMorgan Funds in New York. "If they can't find something better to do with it than leave it as cash, the best thing is to return it to shareholders." ("CEOs Tap Record Cash for Dividends as M&A Picks Up", Bloomberg) Right. Having all that cash lying around is a big problem. Can you believe the arrogance? Anyway, you get the idea. Corporate USA and big finance have joined together to drive up stocks by buying up their own shares, mergers and acquisitions, debt-pyramiding, and even borrowing money to issue dividends; whatever it takes to pluck the goose one more time before the economy takes another nosedive. And, notice that none of these strategies involve increasing demand, hiring workers, or cobbling together a vision for the future. Oh no; it's all slash and burn capitalism; grab what you can, then fight-like-hell to hide it from the taxman. And these same people have the audacity to talk about "profligate consumers"? Give me a break. Big business is nothing more than legalized fleecing disguised as legitimate enterprise. You'd have to be a fool to buy their PR-hype. Here's more from Anne Lowrey on Slate: "According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, real corporate profits neared an all-time high in the last three months of 2010, with companies raking in an annualized $1.68 trillion in pre-tax operating profits.... The Federal Reserve estimates that companies are sitting on about $1.9 trillion.... How can the corporate economy be so profitable while the jobs economy remains so weak? Part of the answer lies in improved productivity. When the recession hit, businesses fired millions of workers then asked the rest to make up the difference.and, in many cases, they did. Productivity increased 3.9 percent in 2010, while labor costs fell.... ...in the last quarter of 2010, the story was all about Wall Street. Profits actually decreased a bit at nonfinancial firms. But companies like investment banks and insurers saw profits climb to an annualized $426.5 billion. The financial sector now accounts for about 30 percent of the economy's overall operating profits.... Still, record-high profits do not necessarily translate into improvements in the economy - as the country's 14 million jobless workers would be (not so) happy to tell you. For the past year, companies have hesitated to spend all of that cash, worried about a lack of good investment opportunities and fearful about demand. The upside is that it seems they are beginning to spend down their $1.9 trillion pile. The downside is that it does not seem that it will be to the immediate benefit of American workers." ("More Profits, Fewer Jobs", Annie Lowrey, Slate) So the corporate mukky-muks and financial alchemists have figured out how to fatten the bottom line without hiring workers. Great. So, you and I can spend our days watching soaps and panhandling at the freeway on-ramp, while moneybags speculators catch 9-holes at the Club. What a racket. This two-tiered system only serves the interests of the privileged few and their spoiled kids. The only way to level the playing field is by ripping it up and starting over. Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at fergiewhitney [at] msn.com --------8 of 12-------- The Empire: A Colossus With Feet of Clay Turmoil Favors Obama's Impeachment by John V. Walsh Dissident Voice April 4th, 2011 So contemptuous of the people is the elitist Barack Obama that he has plunged the United States into yet another war without so much as pretense of a Congressional vote. He emerges as more brazen by far than George W. Bush, who lied about Saddam Hussein's Al-Qaeda link and his weapons of mass destruction, in order to win a Congressional "authorization" for war. Obama simply ignored the Constitution and is playing the part of King. This is the highest of crimes and misdemeanors and the profoundest of threats to our already weakened democratic institutions. Hence, we have begun a Right/Left Coalition to impeach President Barack Obama for violation of Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution which gives Congress, not the Executive, the sole right to declare war. Two major obstacles stand in our way. The first is the loyalty of the liberal elite to one of their own and to the Democratic Party, no matter the cost in life to the peoples of other lands and to the often impoverished soldiers in the army of Empire who rarely come from the ranks of the elite. The second obstacle is deeper and more destructive to the antiwar, impeachment and democracy movement. That obstacle is defeatism which hangs like a noxious cloud over every movement for change. Don't fight the Empire, they tell us; it is too strong. You will lose. Is that so? Behold the state of affairs around the world just in the last few weeks and you will see that the U.S. Empire is a colossus with feet of clay, a Pagoda that may collapse at a moment's notice if pushed properly and with vigor. Consider the imperial colossus in the Middle East and Central Asia. The Empire has worked nearly a quarter century to pacify Iraq, beginning with sanctions, proceeding to war and now occupation. And yet Iraq, although reduced to rubble by the Empire, is not pacified. Its people remain defiant; otherwise the armies of Empire would have departed long ago. Afghanistan, the object of a decade long effort of conquest, continues to rebel. The people of Egypt, Bahrain, Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan are defying the cruel satraps installed by Empire. Iran hurls insults at the Empire and its puppeteer Israel on a daily basis. Turkey is no longer much enthused about the imperial colossus. Now tiny Libya, whatever one may think of its ruler, has poked a finger in the eye of Empire. In this latest misadventure the U.S. was isolated from all the other great powers in the world at the UN, relying for approval on small, weak and backward countries easily bullied or bribed. The only exceptions were the sad little NATO allies, the UK, ever Empire's poodle, and France which under the racist Sarkozy has lost all dignity and independence even as its foreign policy comes increasingly under the sway of the U.S. and Israel. Sarkozy's party was defeated soundly in elections in the last two weeks, elections where he was to be aided by his appearance as the conqueror of Libya, the "second Napoleon," in the words of the windbag court "intellectual," Bernard-Henri Levy. And look at the rest of the world. Russia has long ago learned not to trust the U.S. Certainly Qaddafi's fate has enforced that view, showing that North Korea's leaders were wise in terms of survival for keeping their nukes in the face of the threats of Empire. Iran and Libya have now learned the same. Consider the meaning of this. By its actions the Empire promotes nuclear proliferation, a logic rarely mentioned by the liberal elite's "disarmament" groups stationed in the imperial city. Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua are not to be pushed about by the colossus and tiny Cuba is unyielding after 50 years of imperial siege. They too will consider the need for nukes. In the United States itself, the grim recession grinds on. Government workers are laid off, shut out and deprived of union rights. The unemployment in all sectors continues at much higher levels than the massaged stats would indicate. And the situation is likely to grow worse. China, whose economy has been the chief brake on the deepening of the worldwide depression, is turning inward for its new five- year plan. Production and consumption will be oriented toward the domestic market, a boon to the poorer Chinese in the western part of the country. But as China turns inward an important economic prop for the Empire will be removed. In response we may expect dissatisfaction and rebellion in the U.S. to increase. If one turns one's attention from recent events and gazes back over the imperial wars of the last half century, things do not look so good for the Empire. The U.S. "lost" China as the embers of World War II cooled. And if one looks at the ensuing wars, the Empire has been vanquished repeatedly - in Korea, in Vietnam and now in the Middle East and Central Asia where it cannot eke out decisive victories over tiny adversaries. Most important is that no informed observer outside the West believes that the U.S. is on the side of democracy and human rights. Obama more than any other president has shown that these are but slogans, empty words, flatus vocis to justify the depredations of Empire. The Empire is not so mighty after all. Its elite is arrogant, not especially wise or intelligent, and increasingly focused on its own petty squabbles to determine which faction can squeeze the most cash out of the American people or which can lodge themselves in the seats of political power. Their narcissism long ago displaced their minuscule patriotism. They are to be held in contempt but not to be feared or overestimated. In fact their petty divisions should be fully exploited - and that is one important element in the drive for impeachment. The world is in disorder and the Empire has lost control as events swirl about it like so many sandstorms. It can still lash out and cause immense suffering, but it cannot prevail, because despite outward appearances, it is weak. Its every move will bring more turmoil and resistance. This state of affairs is superb. John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar [at] gmail.com. --------9 of 12-------- "The phrase consent of the governed has been turned by our two major political parties into a cruel joke. There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. And the faster these banks and huge corporations are broken up and regulated the sooner we will become free." This Is What Resistance Looks Like by Chris Hedges Published on Monday, April 4, 2011 by TruthDig.com Common Dreams The phrase consent of the governed has been turned into a cruel joke. There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. Civil Disobedience is the only tool we have left. We will not halt the laying off of teachers and other public employees, the slashing of unemployment benefits, the closing of public libraries, the reduction of student loans, the foreclosures, the gutting of public education and early childhood programs or the dismantling of basic social services such as heating assistance for the elderly until we start to carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience against the financial institutions responsible for our debacle. The banks and Wall Street, which have erected the corporate state to serve their interests at our expense, caused the financial crisis. The bankers and their lobbyists crafted tax havens that account for up to $1 trillion in tax revenue lost every decade. They rewrote tax laws so the nation's most profitable corporations, including Bank of America, could avoid paying any federal taxes. They engaged in massive fraud and deception that wiped out an estimated $40 trillion in global wealth. The banks are the ones that should be made to pay for the financial collapse. Not us. And for this reason at 11 a.m. April 15 I will join protesters in Union Square in New York City in front of the Bank of America. "The political process no longer works," Kevin Zeese, the director of Prosperity Agenda and one of the organizers of the April 15 event, told me. "The economy is controlled by a handful of economic elites. The necessities of most Americans are no longer being met. The only way to change this is to shift the power to a culture of resistance. This will be the first in a series of events we will organize to help give people control of their economic and political life". If you are among the one in six workers in this country who does not have a job, if you are among the some 6 million people who have lost their homes to repossessions, if you are among the many hundreds of thousands of people who went bankrupt last year because they could not pay their medical bills or if you have simply had enough of the current kleptocracy, join us in Union Square Park for the "Sounds of Resistance Concert," which will feature political hip-hop/rock powerhouse Junkyard Empire with Broadcast Live and Sketch the Cataclysm. The organizers have set up a website, and there's more information on their Facebook page. We will picket the Union Square branch of Bank of America, one of the major financial institutions responsible for the theft of roughly $17 trillion in wages, savings and retirement benefits taken from ordinary citizens. We will build a miniature cardboard community that will include what we should have - good public libraries, free health clinics, banks that have been converted into credit unions, free and well-funded public schools and public universities, and shuttered recruiting centers (young men and women should not have to go to Iraq and Afghanistan as soldiers or Marines to find a job with health care). We will call for an end to all foreclosures and bank repossessions, a breaking up of the huge banking monopolies, a fair system of taxation and a government that is accountable to the people. The 10 major banks, which control 60 percent of the economy, determine how our legislative bills are written, how our courts rule, how we frame our public debates on the airwaves, who is elected to office and how we are governed. The phrase consent of the governed has been turned by our two major political parties into a cruel joke. There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. And the faster these banks and huge corporations are broken up and regulated the sooner we will become free. Bank of America is one of the worst. It did not pay any federal taxes last year or the year before. It is currently one of the most aggressive banks in seizing homes, at times using private security teams that carry out brutal home invasions to toss families into the street. The bank refuses to lend small business people and consumers the billions in government money it was handed. It has returned with a vengeance to the flagrant criminal activity and speculation that created the meltdown, behavior made possible because the government refuses to institute effective sanctions or control from regulators, legislators or the courts. Bank of America, like most of the banks that peddled garbage to small shareholders, routinely hid its massive losses through a creative accounting device it called "repurchase agreements". It used these "repos" during the financial collapse to temporarily erase losses from the books by transferring toxic debt to dummy firms before public filings had to be made. It is called fraud. And Bank of America is very good at it. US Uncut, which will be involved in the April 15 demonstration in New York, carried out 50 protests outside Bank of America branches and offices on Feb. 26. UK Uncut, a British version of the group, produced this video guide to launching a "bail-in" in your neighborhood. Civil disobedience, such as that described in the bail-in video or the upcoming protest in Union Square, is the only tool we have left. A fourth of the country's largest corporations - including General Electric, ExxonMobil and Bank of America - paid no federal income taxes in 2010. But at the same time these corporations operate as if they have a divine right to hundreds of billions in taxpayer subsidies. Bank of America was handed $45 billion - that is billion with a B - in federal bailout funds. Bank of America takes this money - money you and I paid in taxes - and hides it along with its profits in some 115 offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes. One assumes the bank's legions of accountants are busy making sure the corporation will not pay federal taxes again this year. Imagine if you or I tried that. "If Bank of America paid their fair share of taxes, planned cuts of $1.7 billion in early childhood education, including Head Start & Title 1, would not be needed," Zeese pointed out. "Bank of America avoids paying taxes by using subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. To eliminate their taxes, they reinvest proceeds overseas, instead of bringing the dollars home, thereby undermining the U.S. economy and avoiding federal taxes. Big Finance, like Bank of America, contributes to record deficits that are resulting in massive cuts to basic services in federal and state governments". The big banks and corporations are parasites. They greedily devour the entrails of the nation in a quest for profit, thrusting us all into serfdom and polluting and poisoning the ecosystem that sustains the human species. They have gobbled up more than a trillion dollars from the Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve and created tiny enclaves of wealth and privilege where corporate managers replicate the decadence of the Forbidden City and Versailles. Those outside the gates, however, struggle to find work and watch helplessly as food and commodity prices rocket upward. The owners of one out of seven houses are now behind on their mortgage payments. In 2010 there were 3.8 million foreclosure filings and bank repossessions topped 2.8 million, a 2 percent increase over 2009 and a 23 percent increase over 2008. This record looks set to be broken in 2011. And no one in the Congress, the Obama White House, the courts or the press, all beholden to corporate money, will step in to stop or denounce the assault on families. Our ruling elite, including Barack Obama, are courtiers, shameless hedonists of power, who kneel before Wall Street and daily sell us out. The top corporate plutocrats are pulling down $900,000 an hour while one in four children depends on food stamps to eat. We don't need leaders. We don't need directives from above. We don't need formal organizations. We don't need to waste our time appealing to the Democratic Party or writing letters to the editor. We don't need more diatribes on the Internet. We need to physically get into the public square and create a mass movement. We need you and a few of your neighbors to begin it. We need you to walk down to your Bank of America branch and protest. We need you to come to Union Square. And once you do that you begin to create a force these elites always desperately try to snuff out - resistance. Copyright 2011 Truthdig, L.L.C. Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. --------10 of 12-------- From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at] MPPeace.org> Subject: April 20: Chris Hedges at Macalester College Chris Hedges at Macalester College Wednesday, April 20, 2011 7:00 p.m. Weyerhaeuser Chapel, Macalester College, 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN "Universities no longer train students to think critically, to examine and critique systems of power and cultural and political assumptions, to ask the broad questions of meaning and morality" Chris Hedges, author of Death of the Liberal Class and The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress, will be speaking at Macalester College. --------11 of 12-------- When Pigs Rule by David Michael Green Published on Monday, April 4, 2011 by CommonDreams.org Imagine you were a pig. As a pig, you would care about nothing besides getting fat. If you could get fat by eating the food shares of other animals, you would readily do so. If you could get fat by eating up your own little piglet children's future, you would do so. If you could get fat by eating your whole farm into ruin, you'd munch right through it without another thought. Indeed, if you could get fat by scarfing up so much food that you literally imperiled the entire planet, you would not only do so, but you would criticize and mock those who had the temerity merely to point out the consequences of your actions and thereby interfere with the conquering of your global comestible empire. For those of you, like me, who too often find themselves aghast at the state of our nation, jaws dropped to the floor in wonder at the astonishing capacity for American self-destruction, befuddled by the acquiescence of the victims of this pillaging, there's your answer: If you can imagine what it would be like to be an amoral, sociopathic, singularly focused, devoted consumption machine - that is, to be a pig - then you get it. And then you get our America, too. I can't tell you how it pains me to write these words. It pains me in two senses, in fact. First, as a matter of personal character and conduct. I think it's fair to say that the people who know me would report that I am a fairly gentle soul. I don't prefer conflict, I almost never seek it out, and I will even sometimes avoid it when it's stuck in my face - at least under certain conditions and in the short term. I'm not, that is, the kind of person who feels at all comfortable referring to other people as pigs. But I do so because I believe emphatically that it needs to be done. I do so because of the second sense of how I am pained - for my country and for the world. I do so, with regret for having to, and yet with even more regret that we all aren't doing the same thing, and doing it with a fierce urgency. For, is there any question of what has become of us? Is there any question that the pigs now rule? No, there is not. Indeed, the only serious question is why we are so severely detached from reality that this society is really not even conscious of what has happened in any serious respect. But happened it has. The top one percent in this country used to, before the regressive onslaught that began with the Reagan election thirty years ago, account for twelve percent of all national income. Today, they pull down more than twice that, 25 percent. They used to control a third of all national wealth. Today they control forty percent. That's just one percent of us, one person out of one hundred. How could this have happened? Is it possible, for example, that the wealthiest amongst us are working twice as hard as they used to? Is it possible that all the rest of us have grown vastly lazier over the course of this past generation? Yeah, it's possible. Just like it's possible that Newt Gingrich is not a sick sociopath, or that Sarah Palin speaks for Jesus. It's possible, in the technical sense of the term, it's just - how can one say this gently? - um, not real, real probable. What is far more likely - and, indeed, what is precisely the case - is that the rich bought off lawmakers to make laws that favored their interests. At precisely the same time that the rich got infinitely richer and the rest of us got steadily poorer, darned if a whole boatload of regressive-backed public policies didn't change in exactly the way that would lead to just that outcome. Tax burdens have been shifted from rich to poor. Services provided by the government have been slashed. Trade policies that undermine the bargaining power of American workers have been adopted. Labor relations policies have decimated unions, such that where a third of workers used to be represented by organized labor, now about seven percent are. Privatization has given away publicly-owned assets. The well-connected have written into law gigantic subsidies, creating corporate welfare on a massive scale. Wars based on lies have enriched the few while saddling the rest of us with trillions of dollars in debt. Deregulation followed by taxpayer-financed bailouts have allowed any plugged-in economic actor to do just about anything, including crash the global economy in the raw pursuit of unfathomable greed, and never pay a penalty for their actions. If you were asked to predict, thirty years ago, just what the adoption of such policies would produce, the American political economy of 2011 is exactly what you would have predicted. It's a complete no-brainer. Anyone could guess the effect from this cause. Throw a rock at a window. Toss a match on gasoline. Adopt these policies. You know what will happen. People can think, if they want, that it's all a random coincidence that all these policy changes just happened to happen at exactly the same time the rich were growing vastly richer and the rest of us have been struggling. I'm sure many do think that way, and that is precisely why so many fools also play their state lottos. But that don't make it so. Incomes for the top one percent have risen 18 percent over the last decade, while for all the rest of us, they've been falling. The United States today has a Gini coefficient - the standard measure of national income inequality, where zero is perfectly equal and 100 is perfectly unequal - clocking in at 40.8. That means we're tied with Turkmenistan and Ghana when it comes to the inequality of the distribution of wealth in America. I'm not shitting you about this. These are real numbers. The good news is that we came in (just slightly) ahead of Senegal and Cambodia. Whew! There's a relief! We wouldn't want to be like some sort of banana republic or anything, would we? The bad news? There is less income inequality today in Mali, Malawi and Burkina Faso than in the good old US of A. Oh, and about 70 other countries in the world (out of about 195 or so, total), too. How's that for your American exceptionalism, eh pal?! I don't know if the rich are working twice as much as than they used to (just a wild hunch, but I suspect not), but what I do know is that the non-rich are working a lot more than they used to. It takes two incomes today to support a middle class family that could be supported by one back when "Leave It To Beaver" was on the air. And many people are working more than forty hours a week - indeed, a lot of people, working a lot more hours - in an increasingly desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of their creditors, one step ahead of medical insolvency, one step ahead of (the new, draconian) bankruptcy laws, one step ahead of foreclosure, one step ahead of eviction, one step ahead of living out of their cars, presuming they're lucky enough to be one step ahead of repossession, and one step ahead of all the damage these horrible strains do to marriages and families. In short, there is a massive, protracted, patent crime taking place, right before our eyes. It's the crime of the millennium, a crime that literally produces death and destruction on a grand scale, a crime with victims beyond count. And no one in our political class is talking about it. Certainly not the worst offenders on the right. We'd be shocked were that otherwise. Indeed, almost all of what defines them as the worst offenders on the right is precisely this issue. Don't kid yourself, brother. John Boehner doesn't give a shit about aborted fetuses. Dick "Dick" Cheney couldn't care less about WMD. George W. Bush is no more a genuine Christian than I am, and I assure you that's the last thing I am. No. It's all about the freakin' money, man. But neither are the so-called liberals of the Democratic Party talking about this issue, nor our socialist president, who, according to Rush "Dick" Limbauchery and Glenn "Dick" Pecker, et al., is reportedly seeking to sneak up on poor unsuspecting America, in a foreigner sort of way, and drive it into the ruin that has befallen Western Europe. (Don't worry that you can't actually see that ruin in actual Western European places like Germany or France or Sweden. Our friends on the right are glad to assure us that it's there - it's just cleverly hiding under the peace, prosperity, extended longevity, world-class healthcare, and humane standards of living people have long enjoyed in these countries.) No one in our political class is saying these things. You almost literally have to resort to comics like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart to hear this most urgent and fundamental critique. And, really, how screwed is your country when only the comedians tell the truth? I am willing to use ugly words and to name names, not because I want to - far from it - but because I am sickened by the fact and the scale of this crime. The wonder is not that jerks like me are throwing around inflammatory terms. The wonder is that lots more people aren't doing so. But the real wonder is that we've stood by, and continue to do so - watching this crime unfold, watching it crush our friends, family and neighbors, watching it harm us and our children personally, watching it produce the first generation of Americans to be worse off than their parents. And there we are just staring in silence. Silence is far too generous a label of contempt to apply to the Democratic Party. We are well past the point of acknowledging their complete complicity in the crime. Hardly anyone noticed in the 1990s, when New Democrats (a euphemism for old Republicans) stopped talking about the plight of the poor, even before Bill Clinton finished the job by killing welfare, reaching into the mouths of America's impoverished and removing the food that was once there, all for purposes of guaranteeing his second term as president (and, boy wasn't it worth it, too - look at all he achieved!). If you weren't alive in the 1960s and 70s, you might never have realized that there was once a party in America that was rather seriously devoted to fighting a war against poverty. By the 1990s the poor became an embarrassment, and among slick New Democrats in Washington only gauche political retreads continued to remind us of their existence and plight, becoming every bit as welcome among the elites as Grandpa's incessant flatulence at a formal dinner party. Ah, but that was the golden age, when only the poor were forgotten about. And who cares about them, anyhow? Nowadays we're not noticing as "the party of the people" gives the same treatment to the middle class as well. I'm sorry, have I fallen through the looking glass, or are we not in the middle of an economic crisis of vast proportions? And where is the Democratic Party's program for creating jobs? It would too generous to say that it is nowhere. More accurately, it just isn't. The reason that you don't know what the president's plan to create jobs in America is, isn't because you're ignorant. It's because he doesn't have one. And no one seems to care or notice. Instead, as usual, as is the case in all political "debates" these days, the question is not will Republicans win on this issue, but rather merely by how much. Even that is not really the question, however, since that formulation presumes that Democrats are actually fighting Republicans, and since it conveniently omits mention of the fact that all such "debates" always happen on Republican (more accurately, Republican/Democratic) turf. Our whores in Washington are not, for example, fighting right now over whether we should spend money to create jobs, versus slashing spending to reduce the deficit. No, rather, they are simply disagreeing over how much social spending should be slashed. The real ideological war over policy was lost before it was ever even engaged, because that's precisely what Democrats do nowadays. Since 1980 (or perhaps 1972), they retreat, they deceive, and they sell out their constituents. That is the case in almost every policy domain, from Middle East foreign policy to global warming to civil liberties to health care. If that latter claim sounds ridiculous, remember that Barack Obama's much derided health care plan was essentially the same one proposed by Bob Dole in 1996, and virtually the same one implemented by Ken Doll "Dick" Romney in Massachusetts just a few years back. And remember that the president began the process by cutting a secret deal behind closed doors with the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. And remember that that deal called for them to profit massively, for the president to renounce single payer, and for him to lie outright (as was documented by his pal, Tom Daschle) to his liberal base, pretending to favor a public option while actually scuttling it from the get-go. And so our political class today is comprised of two types: vicious predatory marionettes, on the one hand, and vicious predatory marionettes who smile a bit more than the first batch, on the other. Really, increasingly, you can hardly tell the difference. New York is one of the bluest states to be found in the country. It has a Democratic governor. He is the son of a former Democratic governor, a man who could well have been president had he run, and one of the outstanding liberal figures of the twentieth century. And yet this governor is running a program that might make Ronald Reagan blush, for all its ugly draconian regressivism. The state has a fiscal problem. He is solving it by slashing funding to education and health care, and laying off state employees. He refuses to raise taxes. The wealthy in New York will actually be getting a tax cut next year under the terms of Governor Cuomo's new budget. Then there's Barack Obama, the man hated by the right for his evil socialist policies. Newsweek magazine - not exactly widely known for its Trotskyist political commitments, is currently running an article entitled thusly: "Obama's War on Schools: The No Child Left Behind Act has been deadly to public education. So why has the president embraced it?" I dunno, Newsweek. Because Bush was a socialist too, maybe? You could ask the same question, however, about Afghanistan, Iraq, defense spending, Guantnamo and civil liberties, tax policy, health care (yes, health care), global warming, government spending, Wall Street bailouts, and really just about anything government does. Like just about every other Democrat running around these days, Obama is almost entirely as regressive as the monsters of the Republican Party. There's the answer to your question, Newsweek. It's about time that you figured out what the rest of us have learned the hard way over the last two years: that, policy-wise, Barack Obama is George W. Bush. The reduction of the American voter's choices down to two options - catastrophic or catastrophic with nice words - has very real consequences. This game is played for keeps. People are not making it anymore. The middle class has been shrinking for three decades. Foreclosures are off the charts. People are literally dying from lack of health care. Children are literally dying from lack of health care. And every day, we in the richest polity that ever existed on the planet not only fail to address those crimes, we exacerbate them with the actions of the Walkers and Christies and Cuomos and Obamas of this country. It's no longer a question of whether we'll adopt the destructive policies of the regressive oligarchy, merely a question of how fast we do it. A recent report entitled "The Basic Economic Security Tables for the United States" finds, according to the New York Times, that a single worker (no partner, no dependents) "needs an income of $30,012 a year - or just above $14 an hour - to cover basic expenses and save for retirement and emergencies. That is close to three times the 2010 national poverty level of $10,830 for a single person, and nearly twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. ... [But] The most recent data from the Census Bureau found that 14.3 percent of Americans were living below the poverty line in 2009". Imagine how many were living below the real minimum threshold three times higher than the official poverty level. Fortunately, however, there is still some good news out there. The number of billionaires in the world grew by 199 in the past year, according to Forbes magazine's annual survey. Now there are 1,210 of them. And they possess a combined wealth of $4.5 trillion. Awesome, dude! The even better news is that that figure is up from $3.6 trillion - a mere 25 percent growth - in just one year's time. And what a year, too! Who says there's a massive, devastating, killer recession going on? Sounds to me like it's nothing more than a boatload of whining from a bunch of lazy, low-achiever, can't-cut-it, non-billionaires! What amazes me the most about this disaster is that it is the biggest single political story of our era, and simultaneously the tiniest. Of course, that's not a coincidence either. You hardly want the media or social critics covering you when you're in the midst of committing the crime of the millennium. We have witnessed what is undoubtedly the greatest redistribution of wealth in all of human history. As importantly, the public face taken for the process facilitating this mass rape has been a lie. Oligarchs didn't tell us they were buying our politicians in order to take our money. They told us instead that "free" trade is good, but that unions, queers and Middle Eastern bogeymen are bad. Very bad. They told us they were lowering our taxes, when in fact they were simply transferring their tax burden onto us and onto our children. They're telling us now that it is fiscally irresponsible to properly fund public education, health care and pensions, yet humongous corporate subsidies and a military the size of the entire rest of the world combined are completely necessary. You don't dare call them out on it, either. If you mention any of this, you get accused of engaging in class warfare. Even though, as Warren Buffett has pointed out, that war is already over, and his side won. And even though such an accusation is tantamount to accusing Martin Luther King of having engaged in race warfare for pointing out the perfectly obvious moral crimes that whites had long been committing against blacks, with the full blessing of the law, no less. Telling the truth is the worst crime you can commit, as an incident in New Hampshire this week well proves. The Catholic church has, by all appearances, been little short of a rape factory for decades if not centuries now, and yet conservatives can hardly run fast enough to defend it against the slightest attempt by its victims to gain some meager measure of justice in compensation for the damage done to them. They'll defend it, that is, unless anyone in the church should make the foolish mistake of speaking truthfully about the effects of regressive policymaking upon the poor and downtrodden. Bishop John McCormack did just that with respect to draconian Republican-proposed state budget cuts in New Hampshire. That caused D.J. Bettencourt, the House Majority Leader there, to call the good bishop a "pedophile pimp". Which is probably precisely what he is, but just the same - wow. In case you were wondering what's really sacred amongst regressives, now you know, pal. Ca-ching, ca-ching. We must face it. These are the pigs in our society, and they are doing what pigs do. They grow fatter each day, and they do so by nothing less than removing food from the mouths of babes and stuffing it into their own, even though it can hardly fit there anymore, so overflowingly full have those orifices and bellies become. This is a crime against humanity, and it will not end. David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (mailto:dmg [at] regressiveantidote.net), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website, www.regressiveantidote.net. --------12 of 12-------- Pigs Pitchforks Peasants Pigs Pitchforks Peasants Pigs Pitchforks Peasants Pigs Pitchforks Peasants Pigs Pitchforks Peasants Pigs Pitchforks Peasants Pigs Pitchforks Peasants Pigs Pitchforks Peasants PigsPitchforks Peasants PigPitchforks Peasants PiPitchforks Peasants PPitchforks Peasants Pitchforks Peasants ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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 Impeach Obama 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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