Progressive Calender 10.10.13 /3
From: David Shove (
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)

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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]     651-636-5672

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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

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's "America's Government by Extortion."]

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The Radical Christian Right and the War on Government
By Chris Hedges
Posted on Oct 6, 2013

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

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.

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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

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

"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

"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

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.

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                                                   "Things go badder with

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.


                                             Grove Shove
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