|Progressive Calender 10.10.13 /3||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001umn.edu)|
|Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2013 08:21:17 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 10.10.13 1. Midstream readings 10.10 7:30pm 2 .Robert Perry - The Koch Brothers' 'Samson Option' 3. Chris Hedges - The Radical Christian Right and the War on Government 4. Jimmy Carter: Middle Class Today Resembles Past's Poor 5. ed - Sing a Song of Sickness (poem) --------1 of 5-------- Midstream Reading Series When: Thursday October 10, 7:30–8:30pm. Where: Blue Moon building, corner of 39th and (3820) East Lake. Air-conditioned. Upstairs. Entrance just west of the Blue Moon coffee house; up the stairs and to the left. Not wheel-chair accessible. Plentiful street parking. Best to arrive 10-20 minutes early to get coffee and food/dessert from the Blue Moon, and to be seated by 7:30 so we can begin on time. And, the venue will easily hold about 30; after that, standing or floor-sitting room only. The early bird gets the seat. Please occupy the up-front seats first. Original poems and stories read/performed by their creators: Daniel Bachhuber Sharon Chmielarz Julie Cox Dore Kiesselbach Daniel Bachhuber is a winner of the Minnesota Voices Project. His poetry book, Mozart's Carriage, was published by New Rivers Press in 2003. He has published in the Iowa Review, Southern Poetry review and many others. He is hoping to publish his current book of poems, The Thief. More recently, he is finishing a first draft of a mystery novel, the murder of a Montessori trainer in Perugia, Italy, called "The High City." He lives with his wife and son in St. Paul. Sharon Chmielarz’s latest book of poetry is Love from the Yellowstone Trail, her 8th collection. One of the poems in it has been chosen to be reprinted in American Life in Poetry. She’s had poems published in magazines like The Notre Dame Review, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, The Hudson Review, The North American Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Commonweal, Salmagundi, Margie,The Seneca Review, Louisiana Literature, Ontario Review, CutBank. She’s the recipient of the 2012 Jane Kenyon Award from Water~Stone Review. Julie A. Cox has published poems in Water~Stone, Hanging Loose, American Literary Review, A.BACUS, Spout Magazine, and elsewhere. She was awarded an Edelstein-Keller Award for Poetry. She was named an alternate one year and a finalist another year for the Loft Mentorship Series in poetry and was named a finalist for the Blacklock Nature Sanctuary/Jerome Foundation Residence Fellowship and the Writers at Work Fellowship. She lives in South Minneapolis with her husband and cat. Dore Kiesselbach studied English and creative writing at Oberlin College and the University of Iowa. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in magazines such as Poetry, Field, Antioch Review and Stand. His first collection, Salt Pier, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett prize and was a Minnesota Book Award finalist; he has also received Britain’s Bridport Prize. He lives in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis. Before and after: The Blue Moon, downstairs, has coffee, sandwiches, desserts. Merlin’s Rest, a bar/restaurant 3 blocks west, has a full bar, good food, a late hours kitchen, some outside seating For further information: David Shove shove001 [at] umn.edu 651-636-5672 --------2 of 5-------- The Koch Brothers' 'Samson Option' By Robert Parry, Consortium News 09 October 13 The Koch Brothers and other right-wing billionaires who provoked the government shutdown and now are angling for an even more devastating credit default see themselves as the people who deserve to rule the United States without interference from lesser citizens, especially those with darker-colored skin. Their "masters of the universe" world view is that they or their daddies or their daddies' daddies were the ones who "built America" and, thus, it's their right to tear down the remarkable edifice of U.S. law, politics and economics created over the past two-plus centuries — if the country's less-deserving inhabitants insist on raising taxes on the rich to fund programs benefiting the poor and the middle class. That is what we're watching now, what might be called the Koch Brothers' "Samson Option," pulling down the temple to destroy their enemies even if doing so is also destructive to them and their fortunes. Charles and David Koch and other right-wing billionaires and near-billionaires are blind with anger after wasting millions of dollars on Mitt Romney, Karl Rove and the Republican Party in a failed attempt to defeat Barack Obama, the Democrats and health-care reform. These were the guys who smirked knowingly when Romney sneered at "the 47 percent" of Americans who receive some government help; they got snappish when Obama called them "fat cats"; they demanded the honorific title of "job creators." Then, they had to sit in their plush party rooms waiting to celebrate Romney's victory only to be frustrated by a coalition of voters led by African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and young urban whites who are comfortable in a more diverse country. Despite all the money and electoral tricks, the Koch Brothers and friends failed to block the reelection of the first African-American president; they watched the Democrats defy the odds and retain the Senate; and they barely managed to hold onto a slender Republican House "majority" through aggressive gerrymandering and other anti-democratic anomalies that overcame the GOP's loss in the popular vote of about 1½ million ballots. To make matters worse, these rich white guys had to listen to endless commentary about the coming demographic changes and the need for Republicans to improve their image with racial and ethnic minorities. Through a blinding rage, the Right's billionaires plotted revenge. Plotting Obama's Downfall Of course, many pragmatic rich folk understand how the extraordinary U.S. system - built by the sweat and ingenuity of countless "average Americans" and protected by the blood of heroic common citizens - has made their fortunes possible. These patriotic multi-millionaires cringe at the spectacle of a U.S. government shutdown and panic at the thought of defaulting on U.S. debt. But the right-wing billionaires and their political front groups welcome the current chaos. Indeed, they began planning today's fiscal crisis as soon as their stunning defeat of last November sank in. Rather than behave as a loyal opposition, the Right started plotting soon after Obama took the oath of office a second time, as the New York Times reported: "Shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama's health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan. "Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed 'blueprint to defunding Obamacare,' signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups. It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government. … "To many Americans, the shutdown came out of nowhere. But interviews with a wide array of conservatives show that the confrontation that precipitated the crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort to undo the law, the Affordable Care Act, since its passage in 2010 — waged by a galaxy of conservative groups with more money, organized tactics and interconnections than is commonly known. … "Groups like Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks are all immersed in the fight, as is Club for Growth, a business-backed nonprofit organization. Some, like Generation Opportunity and Young Americans for Liberty, both aimed at young adults, are upstarts. Heritage Action is new, too, founded in 2010 to advance the policy prescriptions of its sister group, the Heritage Foundation. "The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort. A group linked to the Kochs, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, disbursed more than $200 million last year to nonprofit organizations involved in the fight. Included was $5 million to Generation Opportunity, which created a buzz last month with an Internet advertisement showing a menacing Uncle Sam figure popping up between a woman's legs during a gynecological exam." The Right also has relied on its well-financed propaganda machine to obscure for millions of Americans what is actually underway in Washington. The curtain on that was lifted briefly on Sunday with the recognition that the Democrats agreed to the budget terms demanded by House Speaker John Boehner, who then double-crossed them. On TV interview shows, Boehner conceded that he had struck a deal with the Democrats in which the Senate would accept the lower House budget figures, which included the so-called "sequester" cuts, in exchange for passage of a continuing resolution to keep the government going. Reneging on a Deal As the Times reported, "the speaker acknowledged that in July he had gone to the Senate majority leader, Senator Harry Reid … and offered to have the House pass a clean financing resolution. [Boehner's] proposal would have set spending levels $70 billion lower than Democrats wanted, but would have no contentious add-ons like changing the health-care law. Democrats accepted, but they say Mr. Boehner then reneged under pressure from Tea Party conservatives." So, Boehner had laid out terms for a deal that the Democrats disliked but agreed to accept, only to see Boehner pocket their major concession, tack on a host of new demands including stopping health-care reform, and then berating them with the "talking point" that it was the Democrats who wouldn't negotiate. There was also the point that House Republicans had refused for six months to appoint members of a conference committee to hammer out budget differences between the House and Senate. If not for the powerful right-wing media which continues to repeat the "Democrats won't negotiate" mantra, the American public would have no doubt who provoked the current crisis. But what's even more significant is what this right-wing strategy means to the future of American democracy. The position of the Koch Brothers and other right-wing plutocrats is that democracy itself is the problem. It's bad enough that they have to listen to views that they disagree with; they certainly shouldn't have to sit back and watch these lesser beings elect leaders and enact policies that involve raising taxes on the rich to provide benefits to other Americans. While reflective of "free-market" extremism, this right-wing view also has a racial component, since the Right's billionaires have relied on Tea Party foot soldiers to fight these political wars - and many of those white populist right-wingers are attracted by neo-Confederate ideology, i.e. the supposed "rights" of states to ignore federal mandates, especially those designed to help blacks, Hispanics and other minorities. "States' rights" have had a long and grim history in the United States, touted from the early years of the Republic as necessary to defend slavery, then leading to the Civil War and to a near-century of Jim Crow racial segregation. After the civil rights movement of the 1960s, opportunistic Republicans, such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, saw their chance to snatch the South by playing to white resentment against integration. So, they played up their commitment to "states' rights" and were rewarded by switching the Deep South from the Democrats to the GOP. Danger of Fair Elections Today, however, the Right fears that the nation's demographic changes could mean that fair elections would end frequently with the selection of candidates who favor stronger federal action to address problems confronting the nation and the world, from the economic risk posed by the concentration of wealth in the top one percent to the existential threat posed by global warming. An energetic federal government is needed to address these challenges. If the Great American Middle Class is to survive, Congress will have to raise taxes on the rich and invest that money in national infrastructure, cutting-edge research, affordable education, expanded health care and other domestic programs. If global warming is to be slowed and eventually reversed, the federal government must move quickly to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions while revamping the U.S. energy system. But the Right wants to prevent such government activism. So, it has developed strategies to give more weight to the votes of white Republicans and less weight to the votes of blacks, Hispanics and other groups that tend to go Democratic. That's why organizations supported by the Koch Brothers and other right-wing billionaires have backed Republican efforts to impose strict voter ID laws, reduce voting hours and aggressively gerrymander congressional districts to lump Democratic votes in one while ensuring solid Republican majorities in others. The Right is implementing a strategy as old as the southern poll tax and literacy tests for blacks, i.e. the need to negate post-Civil War amendments that guaranteed equal rights under the law and the right to vote regardless of the color of a person's skin. Today's right-wing strategy follows the thinking of urbane conservative William F. Buckley, who explained in 1957 - when Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders were agitating for enforcement of post-Civil War provisions - that "The white community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically." Now the Buckley doctrine is being applied nationwide. But the problem for the Right is that even with all the voter suppression and shorter voting hours creating nightmarish lines especially in minority neighborhoods, the American people still reelected Barack Obama and favored Democrats over Republicans for Congress. Thanks to gerrymandering and other anti-democratic moves, the Right still has a tenuous foothold through its control of the House and can count on the Senate GOP minority to filibuster nearly everything. However, for the Right to have the power to implement policies of its choice, a new strategy was needed. It surfaced first in 2011 with the threat to default on the nation's debt, which coerced President Obama into accepting severe cuts in federal spending, called the "sequester." Now, in 2013, the Republican Right has doubled down on that strategy, merging a government shutdown with an impending credit default in an effort to extort more concessions from Obama and the Democrats. But the larger goal is to create a new constitutional structure in which the Right, regardless of its minority status, gets to dictate what the federal government can and cannot do. To make this strategy work, however, requires a readiness to play Samson and to pull down the temple on your enemies as well as yourself. That appears to be the extreme option that the Koch Brothers and their fellow right-wing billionaires have chosen. If they can't rule America, they will reduce the country to economic rubble through a fiscal crisis and a premeditated financial collapse. Then, perhaps out of the rubble, a chastened American people will emerge to accept their subordinate position in this new plutocratic structure. In the future, they will know better than to do something that the Koch Brothers and their right-wing friends don't like. All that stuff about a government of the people, by the people and for the people will finally have perished from the earth. [For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com's "America's Government by Extortion."] --------3 of 5-------- The Radical Christian Right and the War on Government By Chris Hedges Posted on Oct 6, 2013 http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_radical_christian_right_and_the_war_on_government_20131006/ There is a desire felt by tens of millions of Americans, lumped into a diffuse and fractious movement known as the Christian right, to destroy the intellectual and scientific rigor of the Enlightenment, radically diminish the role of government to create a theocratic state based on “biblical law,” and force a recalcitrant world to bend to the will of an imperial and “Christian” America. Its public face is on display in the House of Representatives. This ideology, which is the driving force behind the shutdown of the government, calls for the eradication of social “deviants,” beginning with gay men and lesbians, whose sexual orientation, those in the movement say, is a curse and an illness, contaminating the American family and the country. Once these “deviants” are removed, other “deviants,” including Muslims, liberals, feminists, intellectuals, left-wing activists, undocumented workers, poor African-Americans and those dismissed as “nominal Christians”—meaning Christians who do not embrace this peculiar interpretation of the Bible—will also be ruthlessly repressed. The “deviant” government bureaucrats, the “deviant” media, the “deviant” schools and the “deviant” churches, all agents of Satan, will be crushed or radically reformed. The rights of these “deviants” will be annulled. “Christian values” and “family values” will, in the new state, be propagated by all institutions. Education and social welfare will be handed over to the church. Facts and self-criticism will be replaced with relentless indoctrination. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz—whose father is Rafael Cruz, a rabid right-wing Christian preacher and the director of the Purifying Fire International ministry—and legions of the senator’s wealthy supporters, some of whom orchestrated the shutdown, are rooted in a radical Christian ideology known as Dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism. This ideology calls on anointed “Christian” leaders to take over the state and make the goals and laws of the nation “biblical.” It seeks to reduce government to organizing little more than defense, internal security and the protection of property rights. It fuses with the Christian religion the iconography and language of American imperialism and nationalism, along with the cruelest aspects of corporate capitalism. The intellectual and moral hollowness of the ideology, its flagrant distortion and misuse of the Bible, the contradictions that abound within it—its leaders champion small government and a large military, as if the military is not part of government—and its laughable pseudoscience are impervious to reason and fact. And that is why the movement is dangerous. The cult of masculinity, as in all fascist movements, pervades the ideology of the Christian right. The movement uses religion to sanctify military and heroic “virtues,” glorify blind obedience and order over reason and conscience, and pander to the euphoria of collective emotions. Feminism and homosexuality, believers are told, have rendered the American male physically and spiritually impotent. Jesus, for the Christian right, is a man of action, casting out demons, battling the Antichrist, attacking hypocrites and ultimately slaying nonbelievers. This cult of masculinity, with its glorification of violence, is appealing to the powerless. It stokes the anger of many Americans, mostly white and economically disadvantaged, and encourages them to lash back at those who, they are told, seek to destroy them. The paranoia about the outside world is fostered by bizarre conspiracy theories, many of which are prominent in the rhetoric of those leading the government shutdown. Believers, especially now, are called to a perpetual state of war with the “secular humanist” state. The march, they believe, is irreversible. Global war, even nuclear war, is the joyful harbinger of the Second Coming. And leading the avenging armies is an angry, violent Messiah who dooms billions of apostates to death. Dominionists believe they are engaged in an epic battle against the forces of Satan. They live in a binary world of black and white. They feel they are victims, surrounded by sinister groups bent on their destruction. They have anointed themselves as agents of God who alone know God’s will. They sanctify their rage. This rage lies at the center of the ideology. It leaves them sputtering inanities about Barack Obama, his corporate-sponsored health care reform bill, his alleged mandated suicide counseling or “death panels” for seniors under the bill, his supposed secret alliance with radical Muslims, and “creeping socialism.” They see the government bureaucracy as being controlled by “secular humanists” who want to destroy the family and make war against the purity of their belief system. They seek total cultural and political domination. All ideological, theological and political debates with the radical Christian right are useless. It cares nothing for rational thought and discussion. Its adherents are using the space within the open society to destroy the open society itself. Our naive attempts to placate a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to it that we too have “values,” only strengthen its supposed legitimacy and increase our own weakness. Dominionists have to operate, for now, in what they see as the contaminated environment of the secular, liberal state. They work with the rest of us only because they must. Given enough power—and they are working hard to get it—any such cooperation will vanish. They are no different from the vanguard described by Lenin or the Islamic terrorists who shaved off their beards, adopted Western dress and watched pay-for-view pornography in their hotel rooms the night before hijacking a plane for a suicide attack. The elect alone, like the Grand Inquisitor, are sanctioned to know the truth. And in the pursuit of their truth they have no moral constraints. I spent two years inside the Christian right in writing my book “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” I attended services at megachurches across the country, went to numerous lectures and talks, sat in on creationist seminars, attended classes on religious proselytizing and conversion, spent weekends at “right-to-life” retreats and interviewed dozens of followers and leaders of the movement. Though I was sympathetic to the financial dislocation, the struggles with addictions, the pain of domestic and sexual violence, and the deep despair that drew people to the movement, I was also acutely aware of the dangerous ideology these people embraced. Fascist movements begin as champions of civic improvement, communal ideals, moral purity, strength, national greatness and family values. These movements attract, as has the radical Christian right, those who are disillusioned by the collapse of liberal democracy. And our liberal democracy has collapsed. We have abandoned our poor and working class. We have created a government monster that sucks the marrow out of our bones to enrich and empower the oligarchic and corporate elite. The protection of criminals, whether in war or on Wall Street, is part of our mirage of law and order. We have betrayed the vast and growing underclass. Most believers within the Christian right are struggling to survive in a hostile world. We have failed them. Their very real despair is being manipulated and used by Christian fascists such as the Texas senator. Give to the working poor a living wage, benefits and job security and the reach of this movement will diminish. Refuse to ameliorate the suffering of the poor and working class and you ensure the ascendancy of a Christian fascism. The Christian right needs only a spark to set it ablaze. Another catastrophic act of domestic terrorism, hyperinflation, a series of devastating droughts, floods, hurricanes or massive wildfires or another financial meltdown will be the trigger. Then what is left of our anemic open society will disintegrate. The rise of Christian fascism is aided by our complacency. The longer we fail to openly denounce and defy bankrupt liberalism, the longer we permit corporate power to plunder the nation and destroy the ecosystem, the longer we stand slack-jawed before the open gates of the city waiting meekly for the barbarians, the more we ensure their arrival. A previous version of this column contained a quotation attributed to Sen. Ted Cruz that might have originated as a parody. Thanks to our readers for their sharp eyes. --------4 of 5-------- Jimmy Carter: Middle Class Today Resembles Past's Poor By Associated Press 09 October 13 Former President Jimmy Carter said Monday that the income gap in the United States has increased to the point where members of the middle class resemble the Americans who lived in poverty when he occupied the White House. Carter offered his assessment of the nation's economic challenges Monday at a Habitat for Humanity construction site in Oakland - the first of five cities he and wife Rosalynn plan to visit this week to commemorate their three-decade alliance with the international nonprofit that promotes and builds affordable housing. The recent economic downturn revealed that families living in even comparatively well-off, but expensive regions like the San Francisco Bay Area are economically insecure, he said. "Even in one of the wealthiest parts of the world there is a great deal of foreclosures and now a great deal of people who are fortunate to own their own houses owe more on them than the houses are worth in the present market, and that's all changed in the last eight years," Carter said during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. Taking a break from framing windows at a new 12-unit town house development in a section of East Oakland where Habitat already has built or repaired 115 homes, the 89-year-old former Democratic president said the federal government is investing less in affordable housing at a time of greater need. "The disparity between rich people and poor people in America has increased dramatically since when we started," he said. "The middle class has become more like poor people than they were 30 years ago. So I don't think it's getting any better." Years of tax breaks for the wealthy, a minimum wage untethered from the inflation rate and electoral districts drawn to maximize political polarization have reduced the quality of life for all but a small fraction of Americans and imperiled the nation's standing as "a real superpower," he said. "Equity of taxation and treating the middle class with a great deal of attention, providing funding for people in true need, like for affordable housing, those are the sort of things that would pay rich dividends for Americans no matter what kind of income they have," said Carter, looking relaxed in a baseball cap, blue jeans and white sneakers. "The richest people in America would be better off if everybody lived in a decent home and had a chance to pay for it, and if everyone had enough income even if they had a daily job to be good buyers for the products that are produced." Habitat for Humanity was founded in Georgia, the home state of the Carters. They first joined a Habitat for Humanity work site in 1984 in New York and have spent a week every year working on construction sites in the U.S. and abroad. On Tuesday, the former president and first lady are scheduled to help renovate homes in a section of Silicon Valley that has remained immune to the wealth generated by the high-tech industry. After that, they intend to travel to Denver, New York and Union Beach, N.J., where they will help rebuild homes wiped out by Hurricane Sandy. --------5 of 5-------- "Things go badder with Kochs" Sing a Song of Sickness King Kochs were in their counting house Counting out their money; Their queens were in the parlor, Eating Brad and Honey. Their maid was in the garden, Hanging dead their foes, When down came Blackwater And peckered off her clothes. -ed ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Grove Shove
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