Progressive Calendar 07.04.14 '3
From: David Shove (
Date: Fri, 4 Jul 2014 03:46:12 -0700 (PDT)

1. Ffunch 7.04  11:30am

2. Norman Pollack -The Efflorescence of American Fascism
3. ed                    - corporations haiku

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Friday JULY 4    -yes it is open on the fourth of july!

First Friday Lunch (FFUNCH) for progressives.
Informal political talk and hanging out.
Day By Day Cafe 477 W 7th Av St Paul.
Meet on the far south side.

Supreme Court comment, anyone?

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The Efflorescence of American Fascism      [Obama & col exposed]
from CounterPunch July 3 2014

Every day under Obama the US moves closer to an irreversible trajectory of
military provocation which can readily culminate in nuclear war. And
official Washington, all three branches of government, seems not to care.
Indeed, it is only when POTUS is most saber-rattling, most aggressive in
his hostility toward Russia and China, most comfortable in defending
secrecy in government, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with NSA in providing
massive surveillance of the American people, and with CIA in conducting
covert operations toward regime change and armed-drone assassinations, that
his ratings go up and his critics hold back. It is as though a
political-cultural-ideological predisposition to fascistic assumptions of
force and superiority (together, Exceptionalism) holds sway even before the
execution of policy. Obama perfectly embodies the requirements of
leadership in this historical context and structural framework. He is at
once the figurehead for such a systemic configuration that possesses the
aura of liberalism (the skillful employment of race to keep liberals in
line while muting Rightist attacks that otherwise, had he in fact been
radical, would be harsher) yet conjoins militarism to market fundamentalism
as an expansionist dynamic to maintain world supremacy.

A figurehead? Only in the sense that he fronts a stage of advanced
capitalism which itself, to reach that point, presupposes a tightly
organized ruling stratum. I use “stratum” rather than “class” so as to
signify the accommodation by upper groups, economic, social, political, of
diverse others useful to purposes of social control at home, hegemony
abroad—i.e., leaders of the military and intelligence communities as both
stabilizing/conservative influences and resources for enforcing group
dominance. No longer can one speak of a mere economic elite pulling strings
from Olympian heights. The ruling stratum of course is a class anyway;
nonetheless it is in need of auxiliaries to firm up support for its
protection, increasingly in the form of military power and the
technological means of repression. Therefore, welcome to the club, on
condition of loyalty to the top—even though personal property and wealth
are yet inadequate.

Obama by his actions gives the right assurances, and, following the example
set by Bill Clinton, he will undoubtedly “cash in” at the right time,
although the theme of self-enrichment is far less important than his
present aptitude for service which, far from being hypocritical or
subservient, he carries out because he believes so completely in the virtue
of extreme wealth and the wealthy, toughened up to meet the challenges of
domination. In sum, he is a willing figurehead—the most dangerous kind.
Militarism especially attracts him, like a fly to flypaper.

One does not need to place him on the proverbial Freudian couch to see his
hatred of Putin, in so many ways different from himself, starting with
calmness in the holding of power, personal self-assurance, the
non-necessity for demonstrating boldness to the world. Obama’s capacity for
hatred, however, extends well beyond Putin, for we see it in the persons of
whistleblowers, as though—which may well be true, depending on
circumstances—they question his integrity, honesty, intelligence (for the
latter, read facileness, cuteness, slipperiness) and raise doubts about his
judgment. As in his use of the teleprompter, he lives behind protective
psychological walls, seeking to convey the appearance of authority when
deep-down there is, as he is fully aware, uncertainty, lack of confidence,
knowledge of his fraudulence, most pointedly and perhaps poignantly, his
moral emptiness.

Criticism becomes totalized and to be avoided or put down at all
costs—totalized in that his personality core is so fragile that he views
disparagement of any kind, however slight, as the denial of his very being.
And what he ascribes to his own needs he projects on that of the nation,
the National Security State an extension of the protective walls around the
self. No wonder a morbid fear of transparency, running the gamut from
paramilitary operations for subversion and regime change, to withheld
reports on collateral damage, to redacted documents on legal advice and
authorization for killing Americans, to opaqueness as a way of governance!
The liberal mask Obama presents in justification for the Democratic party’s
proclivity toward war, intervention, and sacrifice of the class interests
of working people and minorities at home, is just that, a mask that covers
inner moral emptiness as well as fools the constituency to be addressed and
the public at large.


Too harsh? We hear that surges, assassination, spying, must be laid at
Bush’s door, hence exonerating Obama (part of the mythology of liberalism
and the presumption a black president somehow must stand for social
justice). The fact of CONTINUITY demolishes the argument. Obama reversed
nothing, actually intensifying the central elements of his predecessor’s
policies, whether drones, intervention, support of dictators, or, most
important, enlargement of the Cold War structural-cultural framework to
include, via deliberate containment policies, the simultaneous
confrontation of Russia and China offering a potential for conflagration
and more. Bush had his share of nutcakes for aggression (he need only look
at himself in the mirror), but an element of realpolitik tempered the most
flagrant power-moves. Not Obama, for the elasticity of liberalism allowed
for grandiosity on the world stage—doing good by killing the enemies of
Virtue. For Team Obama, every war is a “just war,” every expansion of
American business testifies to the society’s greatness as the incubator of
democracy—our products, corporeal expressions of political idealism, that
which is devoted to setting all of humankind free.

Probably few propagators of US ideology, from the president down, believe
what they are saying and doing. Liberals are as complicit in the Mass
Deceit as conservatives. Market penetration, sale of military hardware
overseas to “friends and allies,” counterrevolution to thwart popular
movements on the Left to head off supposed communist enslavement and sheer
chaos, all have a life of their own integral to the profit- and-security
needs of capitalism. But they have far greater utility both for profit and
security when dolled up in salvational dress. Obama keeps his informational
apparatus working overtime, so that information as such is not disclosed.
>From this brief background, I shall take up Obama’s obsession with besting
Putin (luckily for him, not a matter of two out of three falls), and then,
in a subsequent article, his cover-up of a war crime (not his own, e.g.,
drone assassination, but that on Bush’s watch), which, nonetheless, he was
able to keep largely under wraps for more than six years. In this case,
liberals’ blame is heaped on Bush with no admission of Obama’s silence
tantamount to complicity.

With respect to Russia, Putin, and Ukraine, Obama is on the war-path,
embarrassingly so, because his call for greater sanctions exceeds that not
only of EU members but also the most influential segments of American
business, the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of
Manufacturers. This last is unheard of, Democrat or Republican for more
than a half-century, suggesting both that for Obama ideology trumps
capitalism and—for that reason—he is perhaps becoming a loose cannon (no
pun intended), biting the hand of the very power structure on which he and
the party system feeds. It is one thing to be unilateral when it comes to
global hegemony, quite another when embodied in sanctions, for as one
business spokesperson observed, Linda Dempsey, NAM’s vice president for
international economic affairs (discounting the sudden love shown American
workers): “Unilateral sanctions by the United States end up with other
countries and their industries filling the void. The harm and the real
impact of those unilateral sanctions is on U.S. industries and U.S.
workers. It’s not that we’re out of the market for a year or two. We could
get out of the market for decades.” Fighting among thieves warms the
cockles of any radical’s heart—here, not Tea Partiers, Republicans,
conservative Democrats, but the System Obama seeks to preserve and expand
may prove his ultimate undoing.

The quote is from Peter Baker’s New York Times article, “Doubting Putin,
Obama Prepares to Add Pressure,” (June 24), where one finds—not perhaps
Baker’s intent—the extremism and zealotry that informs Obama’s position,
obdurate in tightening sanctions (read also, embarrassing or humbling
Putin) no matter what others think. Russia may well be the agency for a
fragmentation of the EU or its growing independence from the US, either way
a colossal loss of the fruits of the Cold War, including political-economic
dominance of Europe itself and advantageous geopolitical placement (NATO as
helpmate) in relation to Russia, all because of the Obama administration’s
insistence on compliance with its wishes for exclusive superpower status:
the globalization of American capitalism conjoined with unchallenged US
military supremacy. There is such a thing as grabbing for too much, when
the rest of the world is fast catching up. Baker aptly summarizes the
administration’s position. It “has drawn up plans to escalate sanctions
against Russia by targeting its financial, energy and defense industries,
but faces resistance from European allies hoping to avoid a broader
economic clash with Moscow that would hurt their own businesses.”

In our haste to see capitalism as an international system, we often forget
one of its salient features, that of inter-capitalist rivalries that,
historically, have been productive of wars, and, among capitalism’s chief
worries, the seeds sown for revolution. None of this, of course, matters to
Washington, as it in fact did to Woodrow Wilson, in its pell-mell rush to
remain on top, whatever it takes, contemptuous of the UN, international
law, distortions of the domestic economy due to extravagant defense
spending, and now, massive surveillance and forfeiture to any meaningful
claim to having a democratic government. Obama sweetly (when primed) and
dutifully presides over the eclipse of democracy, beginning with the attack
on civil liberties and winding through the interstices of power, to result
in lopsided wealth distribution and pursuit of a military-implemented
global foreign policy with impunity, the name of the game being the
encirclement of adversaries (China and Russia).

Putin’s proposal for a longer cease-fire in Ukraine has to be denied, else
the whole idea of confrontation (including Obama’s various ultimatums)
collapses. Not everyone is watching the World Cup; in America, one finds in
influential circles a fear of overreach (“business leaders objecting to
unilateral actions that would hurt their companies are kicking off an
advertising campaign to oppose Mr. Obama’s plans”) which is matched by EU
leaders ”reluctant to go along if it looks like Mr. Putin may be backing
down.” Here the distortion, not wholly unexpected given Baker’s enjoyment,
over most other Times reporters, of access to the inner corridors of
power-–not necessarily a deliberate misleading so much as congruent
viewpoints which are then equated with journalistic objectivity. He speaks
of Putin’s marshalling forces on the Ukrainian border when, in fact, they
have been removed, and, possibly unbeknownst to Baker, because occurring
simultaneous to his own article, Putin’s clear announcement of the request
for an extended cease-fire and other acts to encourage a peaceful
resolution of the crisis, especially calling on the Russian Parliament “to
rescind formal authorization to intervene militarily in Ukraine.”

>From that perspective, Obama’s threats have no point other than to
humiliate Putin, increase tensions with Russia, and claim—as US officials
were doing—that Putin was motivated solely by expedience in order “to
undercut European support for additional sanctions.” Kerry, leading the way
for an escalation of sanctions, in discussions first with PM Cameron and
then with European diplomats in Brussels, has thrown down the gauntlet, the
further claim being that Russia must categorically desist from what has not
been proven in the first place, its full-throated support for dissidents in
eastern Ukraine. Sanctions appear to follow—the administration having
“developed three options for further actions…banning any further
interactions with some of Russia’s largest banks; cutting technology
transfers to Russian energy and defense firms; and shutting down business
with Russian defense companies”—no matter Putin’s course, damned if he
does, damned if he doesn’t. The real fear in Washington is that Putin is
telling the truth and is seeking a peaceful solution. For in that way, it
becomes more difficult both to maintain tensions and scare the EU into
America’s arms.

Peace is ridiculed as an expedient to those maintaining a confrontational
stance in international politics, i.e., the US, and as events play out,
even, now moving closer to the present than in Baker’s piece, with
Poroshenko of Ukraine signing a trade agreement with the EU (June 27),
Putin’s continued pursuit of an overall settlement fails to make a dent in
the Obama administration’s belligerent attitude (read, state of readiness).
Of the proposed sanctions, Baker readily admits: “Any of these actions
would go far beyond the narrow penalties meted out to date against
individual Russian officials, businessmen and their companies.“ Yet he
still sees the response as measured—it could be far worse, “Iran-style
sanctions,” although ineffective given Russia’s “broader economy.”
Perceptively he sees the American dilemma: punish Russia, but also “avoid
disrupting global markets.”

Obama strikes one as willing to take the risk, vindictiveness trumping all
before it—implying that, as an ideologue, he is not quite the puppet we
(radical critics) often take him for. One surmises the caution of the
business community, where, after all, business is business—on the
international level, no matter the lies fed to, and efforts at social
control of, the home front. Obama is superb for the latter purposes, but is
becoming increasingly problematic (save of course the colossal
subsidization of the defense sector) in the realm of international
economics. Corporatism, as an expansive force bursting national boundaries,
requires both stability and security, and continued intervention endemic to
US policymakers, as now the friction developing in US-EU relations
precisely over American containment of Russia (with China a next step), is
proving deleterious to both. The EU is beginning to emerge in its own
right, a fact Washington is doing its best to ignore, especially in its
reliance on NATO to do some of its dirty work for it as well as legitimate,
as in Afghanistan and Iraq, what is primarily an American operation.

Overreach intuitively seems unlikely in capitalism, yet the realization is
slowly sinking in that, particularly egged on by the Congressional Right,
Obama ultimately may be bad for business. Deregulation is one thing, fine
and dandy, but on the larger canvas of world trade unilateralism breeds
either exclusionary measures or political conflict taking, inevitably,
economic form. Much of Baker’s article is given over to business
restiveness with a confrontational foreign policy. Politically, developing
friction with the EU, Obama doing his best to bring Merkel and Hollande
over to his side; economically, he notes: “The drive for more sanctions
comes as American businesses are growing more vocal in protesting the
possibility that the United States may act on its own. While lobbying the
White House and Congress quietly until now, leading business groups plan to
start a wide advertising campaign voicing their concerns.”

My New York Times Comment on Baker’s article, same date, follows:

Obama has dropped all pretense of constructive leadership and shows himself
to be obsessed with confrontation and force. To be to the Right of the NAM
and the Chamber of Commerce, esp. for a Democrat, requires some doing. But
Obama is now a true ideologue, more warlike, more capitalist, more
jingoist, than many traditional conservative groups.

Also more foolhardy, for he is now distancing himself from the EU–and worse,
marching toward the edges of what seems his intent: to provoke submission
from Russia, and then China (given his Pacific-first strategy), all at the
risk of nuclear war.

Bad enough we as a nation have to endure massive surveillance of our own
people, bad enough to have Kerry smother Sisi with love as journalists go
to prison, bad enough that Obama is back to drone assassination and the use
of the Espionage Act to prevent revelations of USG wrongdoing. But to an
overt face-off against Putin when Putin has not given cause, is ugly,
bizarre, madness, as though Obama wills intervention and war as politically
expedient and somehow economically rejuvenating.

Radicals are passive and give Obama a free pass. Ironically, we must look
to the business community to curb his appetite for war. Obama’s national
security advisers to a person represent what we tend to call the Neo-Cons,
passionate in their quest for US UNILATERAL world dominance. The world,
however, is changing, multipolar, tired of living under Cold War
assumptions. Soon, America in splendid isolation.

As for Putin’s peace overtures, which policy makers derisively termed a
“charm offensive,” there are ample signs of a constructive posture. E.g.,
Neil MacFarquhar and Andrew Roth’s NYT article, “Putin Presses Extension of
Cease-Fire in Ukraine,” (June 24), enumerates concrete steps which needed
to be taken in his view, beginning with, on the 24th, pairing the call for
the extension and the rescinding of the March resolution for authorizing
armed force in Ukraine.

Predictably, the US interpreted the actions as fear of sanctions (my own:
in Cold War parlance, Putin blinked first, thus whetting Obama’s appetite
for turning the screws tighter), yet Putin, speaking in Vienna, despite
provocations, took the high road and urged Poroshenko to make the
cease-fire longer and, more important, lead to something more. In Putin’s
own words: “To declare a cease-fire is not enough; it is necessary to start
substantive talks on the nature of the problem.”

Then at a news conference, he clarified further—neither Russian take-over
of Eastern Ukraine nor encouragement of a breakaway state, but, in the
reporters’ account, “greater autonomy for Donetsk and Luhansk,”
Constitutional changes to which Kiev appeared “amenable.” They correctly
observed, “Mr. Putin said declaring a cease-fire and asking the rebels to
disarm without addressing their long-term political grievances would yield
nothing.” To Obama, federalization, or even simple legal guarantees, is to
compromise with the Devil. His fear is that Poroshenko will not be as
compliant, i.e., anti-Russian, as was originally hoped. Obama may be right.
[No, written the 25th; Poroshenko has ended the cease-fire on the 30th, and
July 1 sees massive Ukrainian air and land attacks in the East.] Putin,
again at the news conference: “If we see there are substantive talks, so
that people in eastern Ukraine can finally understand how their legal
interests will be guaranteed, then there is a high possibility of success.”
Comparing the respective approaches to the Ukrainian situation of Obama and
Putin is to see the difference between setting a war trap and reaching out
to the parties in a spirit of conciliation.

Putin does not want war. It’s doubtful that Obama fully reciprocates that
sentiment. The reporters, perhaps in spite of themselves or Times policy,
bear out the preceding: “Mr. Putin said he was pleased by the first
contacts on Monday [June 23] between the Kiev authorities and the rebel
representatives of Donetsk and Luhansk. ‘No big agreements were reached,
but the fact that the dialogue has begun is a highly important moment,’ he
said.” Obama doesn’t do “dialogue,” thought a sign of weakness at best, and
instead takes on the role ordinarily assigned to Putin, the supposed KGB
bully (for KGB substitute the letters, CIA or NSA), who is internally
strong enough to engage for peace without fear his manhood is being
questioned. On disarmament he observes, the reporters continue, that
Ukraine “had not done enough to disarm a rabidly anti-Russian group called
Right Sector. Without that, Mr. Putin said, it did not make sense to call
on the militias in the east to disarm.”

Those Monday discussions indicate a widening of the Putin-Obama gulf, for
as the reporters make clear, “Russia had been pressuring Ukraine to talk
directly to the rebels”; moreover, “Putin’s public move to take the Russian
armed forces out of the equation [something fellow Times reporters were
loathe to admit, if at all] was evidently a means to endorse the first
results from the talks.” Horror of horrors, Poroshenko is going soft on
us—is a new coup in the offing? They close: “The Poroshenko peace plan
proposes amnesty for rebel fighters who have not committed serious crimes,
as well as safe passage for mercenaries seeking to return to Russia. He
also calls for decentralization of the national government, which would
allow for greater self-rule in the east, a critical Russian demand.”

Yes, on the 27th, as Andrew Higgins and David Herszenhorn’s NYT article
heading makes clear, “Ukraine Signs Trade Agreement with European Union,”
but the finer points hardly suggest an unqualified Obama victory over Putin
and Russia. Russia, of course, was angry, envisioning the West’s attempt at
absorbing into its orbit not only Ukraine but Georgia and Moldova, as part
of a concerted effort to dismember the Russian Federation piece-by-piece, a
not unreasonable assumption because generally bruited about in Neo-Con
circles (though not mentioned by the reporters, themselves not even willing
to credit the fact of a coup, simply saying that Poroshenko “won Ukraine’s
presidential election in May to fill a post left vacant by Mr. Yanukovych’s
flight from the country in February”). Angered, too, again not mentioned,
that Ukraine would make possible the movement of NATO forces to the Russian
border. But perhaps, contrary to US-EU hopes and expectations, Ukraine may
want to opt out of the Cold War framework and current power-struggle.
Poroshenko stated, “We use this possibility [trade agreement with the EU]
to modernize the country. But we need only one thing—peace and security.”
That which, one surmises, is not readily to hand when foreign troops (EU,
as we’ll see, is not inviting Ukraine into NATO) are massed on the Russian

As of June 27, there is hope the cease-fire will be extended, perhaps
indefinitely, to give negotiations a chance.
History is full of surprises; projections can prove futile. Knowing of the
resumption of Kiev’s offensive, Poroshenko’s contradiction of earlier
statements, and, brought out by Herszenhorn’s article, “Fighting
Intensifies in Ukraine After Cease-Fire Is Ended,” (July 1), the readiness
to label protesters in the East as terrorists (Poroshenko even considering
the establishment of martial law), it is obvious that Putin’s overtures
have come to naught and we are back to square one. I want to remain with
Putin on the eve of termination, though, to make clear where I think
responsibility for the crisis lies, not with Putin, but Kiev, the
right-wing forces therein vocal, the US behind the scenes, and, occupying a
middle position, the EU, led here by Germany and France, which through the
30th had engaged seriously with Poroshenko in peace discussions. Thus, a
final look at Putin, before the Ukraine offensive.

Putin appears less concerned about the trade deal than the underlying
political dynamics, in which, as he sees it, the West, rather than
encouraging Ukraine with respect to trade relations, is forcing it to
choose between the West and Russia, implying it cannot look in both
directions and be neutral and autonomous. Implicitly Putin rejects the
ideological dichotomy, you’re either for us or against us, and wants
instead a Ukraine non-hostile to Russia in the context of independent
action. He blames the EU for creating the crisis (also the 27th): “The
acute crisis in this neighboring country seriously troubles us. The
anti-constitutional coup in Kiev and attempts to artificially impose a
choice between Europe and Russia on the Ukrainian people have pushed
society toward a split and painful confrontation.”

Poroshenko’s initial renewal of the truce implied that he viewed the trade
agreement as just that, affecting trade and not part of an anti-Russian
mobilization of forces to promote confrontation. When a Putin senior
adviser, Sergei Glazyev, charged the Kiev government was “Nazi,” Putin’s
spokesperson contradicted him, stating this was “not the official position”
of Russia—perhaps further indication Putin seeks an accommodation rather
than war with the Ukrainian government. Meanwhile, for reasons external to
the trade accord, the EU has made clear in Brussels, the reporters write,
“There is no chance of the European Union admitting Ukraine, Georgia or
Moldova as members any time soon. Public opinion in Europe is hostile to
any further expansion of a 28-nation bloc that is already widely seen as
too big and too unwieldy.”

As for NATO, the US seemingly faces disappointment there too; instead of
quick membership opening the pathway for an armed presence on the Russian
border, the EU also is slowing down on that count. Here, Georgia is the
subject, but a precedent is thereby set for considering Ukraine or not:
“Russia has long viewed the European Union as a stalking horse for NATO
but, in a move that could help allay such concerns, NATO foreign ministers
decided in Brussels earlier this week that a summit meeting in September
will not approve offering Georgia a formal step to membership.” Further
sanctions against Russia, announced EU leaders in Brussels, would also be
held in abeyance. Yet, positions change. With a resumption of warfare, the
EU may welcome the chance to expand NATO operations. All bets are off.

Norman Pollack has written on Populism. His interests are social theory and
the structural analysis of capitalism

*and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn [at] <pollackn [at]>. *

*--------3 of x--------* Corporations are
 persons - proof: they piss and crap
 on us night and day.


*                                                    Shove Trove*
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