Progressive Calendar 03.12.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 2009 04:33:37 -0700 (PDT)
           P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    03.12.09

1. Eagan peace vigil  3.12 4:30pm
2. Northtown vigil    3.12 5pm
3. MN budget          3.12 6pm
4. US/MidEast         3.12 6:30pm
5. Transgender health 3.12 6:30pm
6. Mel Duncan         3.12 6:45pm
7. King Corn/film     3.12 7pm

8. Courts colloquium  3.13 9:30am
9. Affordable housing 3.13 1pm
10. Iran defended     3.13 7pm
11. Moyers            3.13 9pm
12. AntiracismCircles 3.13 registration

13. Margaret Kimberley - When Republicans attack
14. Glen Ford          - Left Obamites prefer Kool-Aid to struggle
15. ed                 - Pedestalophiles  (poem)

--------1 of 15--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 3.12 4:30pm

CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest
corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs
and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends
south of the river speaking out against war.

--------2 of 15--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 3.12 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------3 of 15--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: MN budget 3.12 6pm

Attend a Minnesota Town Hall Meeting

Legislative leaders and other lawmakers will be visiting Minnesota
communities regarding the governor's budget recommendations and to get the
public's input on the state's $4.8 billion budget deficit.

Thursday, March 12, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Minnehaha United Methodist
Church, 3701 East 50th Street, Minneapolis.

Sponsored by: the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout. WAMM is a
member of the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout. FFI and Updates:
Call 612-822-8020 or visit

--------4 of 15--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: US/MidEast 3.12 6:30pm

"Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East" by
Dr. Rashid Khalidi

Thursday, March 12, 6:30 p.m. (Registration and Check-In), 7:00 p.m.
(Presentation) Open Book (Loft Literary Center), Target Performance Hall,
1011 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Through a keen analysis of the last fifty years of U.S. foreign policy,
Dr. Rashid Khalidi, director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia
University and author of the new book, Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and
American Dominance in the Middle East, suggests that the global conflicts
now playing out explosively in the Middle East were significantly shaped
by the Cold War era, and that any successful peace process must begin with
a thorough understanding of this historical foundation. Dr. Khalidi is
considered to be one of the foremost U.S. historians of the modern Middle
East. Reception and book signing follow.

Cost: $10.00 (Minnesota International Center (MIC) members, Loft Literary
Center members and Mizna journal subscribers: Free).

Advance registration required. Sponsored by: the Loft, MIC and Mizna.
Endorsed by: the WAMM Middle East Committee. FFI and to Resister: Call
612-625-4421 or visit

--------5 of 15--------

From: Max Gries <mgries [at]>
Subject:  Transgender health 3.12 6:30pm

The Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition invited you to join us for our
next FREE community forum in our Trans Health Matters series:

"GID and the Medicalization of Gender Identity"
facilitated by Alex Iantaffi and Grady Shapiro

Everyone Welcome! Transgender, genderqueer, intersex, transsexual, M to F,
F to M, crossdresser, gender non-conforming, partner, family, friend and
ally -- including health professionals, providers, students.

Thursday, March 12, 2009
6:30 pm Social time with refreshments provided
7:00-9:00 pm Forum
Location: Spirit of the Lakes UCC, 2930 13th Ave S (at Lake Street),
Minneapolis, MN 55407

On May 1, 2008, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) announced the
composition of work committees to review scientific advances and
research-based information and develop the fifth edition of the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), which is scheduled to
be published in 2012. The APA is seeking input from transgender community;
anonymous feedback will be forwarded to them from this forum. What do you
think? Should Gender Identity Disorder be abolished from the DSM? Should
it stay in? MTHC invites you to join with other community members in this
discussion. Listen to an overview of the DSM and current events around
DSM-V and weigh in on the pros and cons of including GID in the DSM.

Spirit of the Lakes UCC is wheelchair-accessible with free parking lot. So
that people with multiple chemical sensitivities can participate, please
refrain from wearing perfume or other scented products.

This event made possible in part through a grant from PFund.

For more information, please contact us:
mntranshealth [at] <>

--------6 of 15--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: Mel Duncan 3.12 6:45pm

Mel Duncan, co-founder and Executive Director of the Nonviolent
Peaceforce, will speak March 12th , 6:45 P.M., at Holy Nativity Lutheran
Church in New Hope.

His topic is, "The case for nonviolence is strong." Mel Duncan was named
one of "Fifty Visionaries Who are Changing Your World"  by Utne Reader in
2008.  Nonviolent Peaceforce is a nonpartisan unarmed peacekeeping force
composed of trained civilians from around the world.  Nonviolent
Peaceforce brings together over 60 Member Organizations from five
continents and over 100 supporting organizations.  Holy Nativity Lutheran
Church is located at 3900 Winnetka Avenue North, New Hope.  This program
is sponsored by Northwest Neighbors for Peace and is free and open to all.
For more information please contact Pat at 763-542-1966 or NWN4P [at]

--------7 of 15--------

From: Elizabeth Dickinson <eadickinson [at]>
Subject: King Corn/film 3.12 7pm

Free Sustainability Film Series - Spring 2009
Bell Museum of Natural History Auditorium

Thurs, March 12 - 7 pm King Corn By growing an acre of
corn in Iowa two friends uncover the devastating impact that corn is
having on the environment, public health and family farms.  This film does
an excellent job of demonstrating the complexity of the industrial food
systmem from seed to plate, in a lively, insightful, and youthful manner.
Directed by Aaron Woolf.

Bell Museum is at 10 Church Street SE Minneapolis, MN 55455

--------8 of 15--------

From: Human Rights Center/Lauren Merritt <humanrts [at]>
Subject: Courts colloquium 3.13 9:30am

2009:  Transitional Justice Partnership Event - Trial Colloquium Program

Exceptional Courts Colloquium
March 13, 2009
University of Minnesota Law School
Lindquist and Vennum Conference Room

9:30-11:00 Session 1 Exceptional Courts
Moderator:  TBC
 Sarah Mendelson Director, Human Right and Security Initiative at the
Center for Strategic and International Studies
 David Weissbrodt Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School
 Margarat Satterthwaite Director, Center for Human Rights and Global
Justice, NYU School of Law.

11:00 - 11:30   Break

11:30 - 1:00 Session 2 Accountability, Transition and the Court
Moderator:      TBC
 Ruti Teitel Professor of Comparative Law, New York Law School
 Kathryn Sikkink Professor of Political Science, University of Minnesota
 Tom Hadden Professor of Law, TJI & Queen's University Belfast

1:00 - 2:00     Lunch

Lauren P. Merritt Office Administrator University of Minnesota Human
Rights Center Tel. 612-626-0041 humanrts [at]

The Human Rights Center works locally, nationally, and internationally to
provide training, education materials, and assistance to professionals,
students, and volunteers working to promote and protect human rights.

--------9 of 15--------

From: Minnesota Housing Partnership <jjohnson [at]>
Subject: Affordable housing 3.13 1pm

National Expert Sheila Crowley to Hold Briefing on New Strategies
Renewing the Federal Government's Commitment to Affordable Housing

Friday, March 13, 2009 // 1:00  3:00 p.m.
Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis
Space is limited, so register today!

Set aside the afternoon of Friday, March 13 to hear from national
affordable housing expert Sheila Crowley, President of the National Low
Income Housing Coalition. She will share new ideas for federal advocacy
and how Minnesota can help push a national affordable housing strategy. In
this era of increasing homelessness and families struggling to pay their
rent or mortgage, we are encouraged by early signs that the federal
government seems to be recognizing a need to renew its commitment to
affordable housing, but information about how we can move this forward
will be essential.

The event will be held at Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900 Nicollet
Avenue (at Franklin Avenue) in Minneapolis. The event is sponsored by the
members of Minnesota Federal Housing Action Coalition (MNFHAC): Housing
Preservation Project, MN Coalition for the Homeless, Metropolitan
Consortium of Community Developers, Minnesota Tenants Alliance, HOME Line
and MHP.

Go to the following link to register:

Go to the following link for the flyer:

Media Contact: Chip Halbach 651-925-5547 612-396-2057 (cell)
chalbach [at]

--------10 of 15--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Iran defended 3.13 7pm

"In Defense of Iran: Notes from a U.S. Peace Delegation's Journey through
the Islamic Republic" by Phil Wilayto

Friday, March 13, 7:00 p.m. Sabathani Community Center, Third Floor,
Conference Center, Room D1/D2, 310 East 38th Street, Minneapolis.

In Defense of Iran: Notes from a U.S. Peace Delegation's Journey through
the Islamic Republic tells the story of a journey organized by the author
in 2007. In describing the delegation's travels, the book attempts to
address the many charges being leveled against Iran and suggests ways the
U.S. peace movement can help prevent a new war. He will address the
following questions: Is Iran really a threat to world peace? Is it trying
to develop nuclear weapons? Does it support terrorism? Is it "meddling" in
Iraq? Does it want to destroy Israel? What's really behind the ongoing
tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran? Book
signing follows. Free and open to all. Sponsored by: the WAMM Middle East
Committee. FFI: Call WAMM, 612-827-5364.

--------11 of 15--------

From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at]>
Subject: Moyers 3.13 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | Scholar Karen Armstrong

Bill Moyers Journal: "With economic, political and social strife across
the globe, prominent religious scholar Karen Armstrong discusses our human
commonalities and her work on an international charter for compassion. The
renowned author of "The Battle for God and the Bible: A Biography,"
Armstrong is a 2008 recipient of the coveted TED Prize. In a distinguished
career encompassing time as a Roman Catholic nun, an academic and a
television broadcaster, Armstrong has become one of the world's foremost
commentators on religious affairs, who first drew attention with her
critically acclaimed book "Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet."

--------12 of 15--------

From:  Margery Otto   motto [at]
Subject: Antiracism Circles  3.13 registration

ASDIC Antiracism Study-Dialogue Circle Now Being Offered in Five Sessions!

Be part of the dreflective and transformative work of Antiracism
Study-Dialogue Circles, now being offered in an easy five-session format.
Together members of the Circle will create supportive relationships as
they explore the ways our social behaviors and identities are formed in
the context of "race" and racism in the United States.  Relationships
are built on honest, informed and deep dialogue that leads to formation of
Action Plans.  Through the ASDIC experience we create antiracist patterns
of relationships in the settings of our own lives and in the wider systems
of our society.  Members of past ASDIC Circles report the Circles to be
highly transformative.

This ASDIC Circle will meet in the West Side neighborhood of Saint Paul on
the following schedule:
        Friday, March 20th, 5:30-8:30 p.m. & Saturday, March 21st, 9:00 a.m. to
3:30 p.m.;
        Saturday, April 4th, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.;
        Saturday, April 18th, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.;
        Saturday, May 2nd, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.;
        Friday, May 15th, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. & Saturday, May 16th, 9:00 a.m.
to 3:30 p.m.

Suggested donation is $150 which includes textbook, Manual and all meals.
Kindly pay what you can - all are welcome without regard to financial

To register or FFI:  Tim Johnson, 651-227-4275 or cpuc [at] - ADSIC.  Although this ASDIC Circle will be
held in a community church building, ASDIC Circles are not based on any
religious tradition and are non-sectarian in nature.  Address:  371 West
Baker St, Saint Paul 55107.

--------13 of 15--------

When Republicans Attack
by Margaret Kimberley
March 11th, 2009
Dissident Voice

The Republican Party is always the party of the evil doers. When they
aren't stealing from the public trough to enrich the already rich, they
are stealing elections or subverting the Constitution in order to steal
our civil liberties. They always lie. They will lie about the rationale
for war or about the nature of the worldwide financial crisis. It is
absurd to claim as they do, that a president in office for less than two
months is more responsible for unemployment, a crashing stock market and
the demise of major banks, than the president who served for the previous
eight years.

It is tempting to defend the president and congressional Democrats when
Republicans set out to destroy and make illegitimate their electoral
victory. Republican legislators in Missouri and Tennessee have publicly
questioned Barrack Obama's American citizenship, joining up with the right
wing "birthers" who continue to make hay out of an issue that is dead to
everyone else. When CNBC attacks the Obama stimulus plan while neglecting
to mention that it served as a lying mouthpiece for failing financial
services companies, it is easy to want to take the Obama side.

The attacks are insidious, and are meant to weaken Democrats' ability to
pass legislation that has already been eviscerated by a misguided desire
for bipartisan comity and the Democrats' usual propensity to be spineless.
Yet for all the storm and fury playing out on cable news networks, it is
important to know that none of this drama really matters. The corporate
media always prefer sensationalism and distraction over substantive news
reporting. Democrats should be less upset about Sean Hannity and Rush
Limbaugh rants and more upset because the economic crisis is showing the
tip of a very deep iceberg and because Obama doesn't want them to look
below the water line.

The economic meltdown will continually worsen and it will do so in large
part because the Obama administration will not do what it needs to do in
order to stop it. The financial system could be saved if the nation's
military budget were to be drastically reduced. The only things that
America produces in abundance are guns and bombs. The result is a country
with a military budget that is larger than that of every other country on
earth combined, but with an almost non-existent manufacturing capacity.
Americans cheer because Obama proposes the type of high-speed rail system
that has existed in Japan and Europe for decades. There are no resources
left for innovation when defense spending eats up the budget. It is truly
pathetic to celebrate when "the greatest country in the world" finally
catches up to the 1970s.

The mortgage relief proposed by the Obama administration is woefully
inadequate. It will help only a small fraction of homeowners in danger of
foreclosure. That fact is of greater significance than CNBC's attempts to
discredit the plan.

In short, why defend Obama if he won't defend us? He wouldn't even defend
his own attorney general, Eric Holder. Holder recently made a statement
that Americans were "cowards" because of their unwillingness to discuss
race. "I think it's fair to say that if I had been advising my attorney
general, we would have used different language." Keep the boss from hell
smack down in mind when tempted to fight for Obama's honor.

In the midst of financial failure and high unemployment, there is no one
in Washington willing to fight for and defend American workers. It isn't
clear how much public money AIG will need to stave off collapse. The $160
billion it has already received is apparently insufficient and countless
billions more will go into that black hole before the average working
person gets any consideration from their government.

When Republicans attack the Obama administration remember that Democrats
could have done the same thing to George W. Bush. Even in the minority,
Senate Democrats had enough votes to hamper any and all Bush
administration initiatives. They refused to do it and now the Republican
minority has no qualms about showing them the art of political war.

Bush foisted a radical agenda on the American people, an agenda that
destroyed their country and the world's economy too. Single payer health
care would be a radical departure for this country, but it is what most
people want, it would provide an efficient stimulus to individuals and
business and it is what the rest of the world already has. Obama and the
Democrats won't propose a sensible and profitable change that the country
needs because they are beholden to corporate interests and 300 million
people continue suffering as a result.

Don't worry about Fox news, or Limbaugh or crazed wing nuts. When saving
crooked banks is the first priority, and saving homes and health care
don't even make it onto the agenda, then Obama and his oh so brilliant
team are on their own. If the issues that would truly help this nation's
citizens are taken off the table there is nothing and no one who is worthy
of being defended.

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms.
Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached at:
Margaret.Kimberley [at] BlackAgendaReport.Com.

--------14 of 15--------

Left Obamites Prefer Kool-Aid to Struggle
by Glen Ford
March 11th, 2009
Dissident Voice

Lots of folks on the left, it is now apparent, no longer seek anything
more than to bask in the sunshine of Barack Obama's smile. No matter how
much national treasure their champion transfers to the bankster class, and
despite his exceeding George W. Bush in military spending, so-called
progressives for Obama continue to celebrate their imagined emergence as
players in the national political saga. Having in practice foresworn
resistance to Power, they relish in bashing the non-Obamite Left.

In tone and substance, Linda Burnham's recent, widely circulated piece,
"Notes on an Orientation to the Obama Presidency" is several cuts above
last summer's vicious rant by Amiri Baraka, "The Parade of Anti-Obama
Rascals". But both assaults on Left critics of Obama are based on the same
false assumptions and willful illogic, and although no one can trump
Baraka in argumentative foul play and sheer nastiness, Burnham's article
is nonetheless littered with sneers at those who "are stranded on Dogma
Beach . . . flipping out over every appointment and policy move [Obama]

Burnham launches immediately into a denigration of non-Obamites, claiming
Obama's election "occasioned some disorientation and confusion" among
those on the Left who "have become so used to confronting the dismal
electoral choice between the lesser of two evils that they couldn't figure
out how to relate to a political figure who held out the possibility of
substantive change".

Burnham's method is to invent straw men and then place words and thoughts
in their fictitious mouths and brains. Certainly, we at Black Agenda
Report were anything but "confused" by either Obama's political conduct or
his extraordinary popularity, having placed the young upstart under
intense scrutiny beginning in the early Summer of 2003, while he was still
a low-ranked candidate for the Democratic senatorial nomination in
Illinois. His phenomenal talents, hitched to a transparently corporatist,
imperial worldview - and a practiced dishonesty about his rightist
alliances - made Obama a person worth watching. The BAR team, then
operating out of Black Commentator, had Obama pegged as a potential vector
of confusion in Black and progressive ranks long before his worldwide
debut at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. And we were right. It is
in Burnham's political neighborhood that confusion reigns, not ours.

Burnham claims that many on the Left "were taken by surprise at how wide
and deep ran the current for change". Either she's talking about herself,
or she hangs around a very cloistered crowd. Or, more likely, Burnham is
conflating the word "change" with "Obama" - an effect of drinking too much
Kool-Aid. In either case, none of it applies to folks like us at BAR - and
there are a number of others on the Left - who more than five years ago
understood both Obama's mass appeal and the mass desire for real change,
and feared that one would thwart the other.

Left critics of Obama, according to Burnham, fail to recognize that he is
not the "lesser of two evils," but rather holds out the "possibility of
substantive change". This is a core position, central to the "progressive"
Obamite argument. Beyond the fact of having broken the presidential color
bar, which in the American context is a positive development on its face,
Obama is near-identical to Hillary Clinton on virtually every policy
issue, as became evident in the primaries. Their compatibility was
revealed as something closer to political intimacy when Obama erected his
Cabinet - a house as Clintonian as anything Bill ever built, with plenty
of room reserved for friends from the Bush gang. Color aside, whatever
kind of "evil" Hillary and Bill are, Obama is.

Burnham outlines what she says is the "active conversation on the left
about what can be expected of an Obama administration and what the
orientation of the left should be towards it". We will have to take her
word for it, although her mischaracterization of Left Obama critics
(certainly those at BAR) makes us less than confident that the
"conversation" is as she describes. Below are the "two conflicting views"
on Obama, on the Left:

First, that Obama represents a substantial, principally positive political
shift and that, while the left should criticize and resist policies that
pull away from the interests of working people, its main orientation
should be to actively engage with the political motion that's underway.

Second, that Obama is, in essence, just another steward of capitalism,
more attractive than most, but not an agent of fundamental change. He
should be regarded with caution and is bound to disappoint. The basic
orientation is to criticize every move the administration makes and to
remain disengaged from mainstream politics.

The first viewpoint is no doubt held by Burnham. It is essentially mooted
by the reality that most Left Obamites only weakly "criticize" and
virtually never "resist" Obama's rightist policies and appointments in the
crucial military and economic arenas - which was, first, the fear and,
later, the main complaint of the non-Obamite Left. The Obama Effect is to
neutralize Blacks and the Left (Blacks being the main electoral base of
the American Left) by capturing their enthusiasm for Obama's own corporate
purposes. Obama and his Democratic Leadership Council allies (and their
corporate masters) monopolize the "motion," all the while shutting out
even mildly Left voices (as in the recent White House Forum on Health,
from which single payer health care advocates were initially barred) -
Blacks and the Left have not been in any kind of effective forward
"motion" since Election Day. As we shall see, Burnham's definition of
"motion" does not involve confronting Power, but rather, attaching oneself
to it.

Policy-wise, Obama no more "represents a substantial, principally positive
political shift" than his political twin, Hillary - again, color aside.

The second viewpoint is supposedly held by the opposition, and partially
reflects the views of the BAR team. Yes, Obama is "just another steward of
capitalism, more attractive than most, but not an agent of fundamental
change". This has been easily observed, since Blacks and the Left have
allowed Obama to act upon his corporate and imperial instincts, unimpeded
by even the mildest counter-pressures. His presidency takes shape to the
Right of Democratic congressional leaders, who have made more noise over
Obama's Iraq trickle-out and his clear threats to Social Security and
other "entitlements," than have many Left Obamites.

Obama is not simply "bound to disappoint" - he has already been cause for
great disappointment, even among those of us who scoped his essential
corporatist nature years ago. Who would have predicted that he would play
the most eager Gunga Din for the bizarre Bush/Paulson bank bailout decree,
last year? Who would have foreseen that Obama would retain the loathsome
international criminal Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense? That he would
continue Bush's policies on Africa - Zimbabwe, Sudan, Somalia, AFRICOM -
without missing a beat? That he would so quickly offer to put Social
Security "on the table" for "reform" (in the Republican sense of the

But Burnham would have you believe the Left opposition are nothing but
nitpickers, inflating executive pinpricks into major assaults. Thus, she
seeks to make the opposition look silly, as if we "criticize every move
the administration makes". In truth, her argument is designed to excuse
her and her Left allies failure to "resist" or confront Obama in any
meaningful way.

Like many of her cohorts, Burnham is quick to grant that Obama "is a
steward of capitalism," but maintains that "his election has opened up the
potential for substantive reform in the interests of working people and
that his election to office is a democratic win worthy of being fiercely

Again, if Obama's election opened up the "potential" for reform, so would
have Hillary's. They were (and remain) political brother and sister under
the skin. The Obamites would be utterly helpless if unable to deploy (and
abuse) the term "potential," given the actuality of Obama's presidency.
Conveniently, "potential" lives in the future, where it can't be pinned
down. That's why Obama's "potential" is a central theme of his Left camp
followers - it allows them to claim that the opposition's critiques of
their hero might harm the "potential" good he might do in the future.

At any rate, the Obamite Left can claim no credit for Obama's progressive
"potential," since they did little or nothing that might have caused him
to abandon his relentless rightward drift.

Burnham & Co. want us to accept Obama's corporate orientation as "what he
was elected to do". Burnham urges us to be "clear" about Obama's "job
description": "Obama's job is to salvage and stabilize the U.S. capitalist
system and to perform whatever triage is necessary to restore the core
institutions of finance and industry to profitability".

That is certainly what Obama and his big campaign funders believe his job
is, but a progressive's task is to cause him to serve the people - an
assignment that I am not convinced Burnham and her allies have accepted.

On the international scene (i.e., The Empire), Obama's job - as Burnham
says should be clear to "us" - is "to salvage the reputation of the U.S.
in the world; repair the international ties shredded by eight years of
cowboy unilateralism; and adjust U.S. positioning on the world stage [so
far, so good, but here Burnham slips down the proverbial slope] on the
basis of a rational assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the
changed and changing centers of global political, economic and military
power - rather than on the basis of a simple-minded ideological commitment
to unchallenged world dominance".

Obama's military budget, bigger than Bush's, his escalation in
Afghanistan/Pakistan, the unraveling of his Iraq "withdrawal" promises,
and his provocations in Africa all signal that this president has no
intention of relinquishing the goal of global U.S. hegemony. To paraphrase
his famous statement on war, "I'm not opposed to imperialism, just dumb

Burnham should bring herself to admit that Obama is, indeed, merely a more
charming face pasted on the imperial monster - with the same teeth
(weapons), appetite and ambitions. In an indirect way, she does offer a
version of the truth, packaged in what sounds like genuine, praiseful

"Obama has been on the job for only a month but has not wasted a moment in
going after his double bottom line with gusto, panache and high
intelligence. In point of fact, the capitalists of the world - or at least
the U.S. branch - ought to be building altars to the man and lighting
candles. They have chosen an uncommonly steady hand to pull their sizzling
fat from the fire".

Burnham then sets up the Left straw men, so as to knock them down. These
one-note Charlies, real or imagined, are incapable of sophisticated
thought and analysis:

"For the anti-capitalist left that is grounded in Trotskyism,
anarcho-horizontalism, or various forms of
third-party-as-a-point-of-principleism [sic], the only change worthy of
the name is change that hits directly at the kneecaps of capitalism and
cripples it decisively. All else is trifling with minor reforms or, even
worse, capitulating to the power elite. From this point of view the stance
towards Obama is self-evident: criticize relentlessly, disabuse others of
their presidential infatuation, and denounce anything that remotely smacks
of mainstream politics".

Such people may exist, but they don't resemble BAR or any of our allies
and correspondents. Burnham is employing the cheapest trick of
argumentation: she picks (or invents) the weakest, most unreasonable,
narrow opponent, and savages him. I know of no serious activist that
believes "the only change worthy of the name is change that hits directly
at the kneecaps of capitalism and cripples it decisively". If that were
so, then such activists would have nothing to do for most of their lives,
since chances to "cripple" capitalism "decisively" are few and very far

But crises of capitalism do occur, and we are living through one of them.
Capitulationists are also real, and reveal themselves at the worst
possible junctures. One great tragedy of the current episode is that the
crisis occurred at a moment when the remnants of the Left and Black
movements in the U.S. have been neutralized by the "uncommonly steady
hand" of imperialism's Black champion, to whom Burnham and countless
others have, yes, capitulated.

In order to defend the capitulation, the Burnhams of the Left must credit
Obama with achievements he has not made, plus the amorphous "potential"
achievements to which he has "opened the door" and which will magically
occur even in the absence of organized people making a demand. A hilarious
Burnham example of an Obama feat: He has "wrenched the Democratic Party
out of the clammy grip of Clintonian centrism. (Although he himself often
leads from the center, Obama's center is a couple of notches to the left
of the Clinton administration's triangulation strategies)"..

Ha! Burnham imagines "notches" that aren't there. Obama's government IS
Clintonian. And the new president is as skilled and ruthless a
triangulator as Bill ever was, consistently finding a position to the
Right of whatever passes for Left on Capitol Hill, but nestled near to the
corporate bosom.

Burnham spends additional pages working the same themes of Left
"anticipatory disillusionment" and other psycho-babble to mask her own
cohort's capitulation. Many Obama critics did anticipate his center-right
behavior, and we were correct - but never disillusioned. Political
groupies, however, are fated to suffer disillusion and betrayal.

Burnham reveals inklings of her own emotional state when she gratuitously
urges "those who missed interacting with the motion of millions against
the right, against the white racial monopoly on the executive branch, and
for substantive change," to re-examine their political orientation. In
addition to her condescending tone, which seems to assume that her targets
have no experience with the "motion of millions" in actual political
movements, rather than a corporate-shaped and funded presidential election
campaign, Burnham appears to think of the non-Obamite Left as people who
didn't RSVP for the best party of the year, and are now resentful.

In the last hundred words of the piece, we discover that her idea of
"building the left" requires folding up the tent in or near the Obama
camp. Examine this extraordinary passage:

"The current political alignment provides an opportunity to break out of
isolation, marginalization and the habits of self-marginalization
accumulated during the neo-conservative ascendancy. It provides the
opportunity to initiate and/or strengthen substantive relationships with
political actors in government, in the Democratic Party, and in
independent sectors, as well as within the left itself - relationships to
be built upon long after the Obama presidency has come to an end. It
provides the opportunity to accumulate lessons about political actors,
alignments and centers of power likewise relevant well beyond this
administration. And it provides the opportunity for the immersion of the
leaders, members and constituencies of left formations in a highly
accelerated, real world poli-sci class".

This sounds uncannily like Obamite Prof. Leonard Jeffries' admonition that
all Black folks "study Obama-ism". Burnham's gushings are remarkable for
their abject surrender, not just to Obama's persona and mystique, but to
the institutional trappings and annexes of corporate-tethered rule. She
wants us all to take lessons from the corporate-bought structures - to
better serve the people? No. Burnham is telling us that now that she's
seen the Big Party, she doesn't want to leave. She's tasted that vintage
wine, drank the good stuff, and is determined not to go back to movement

I do agree that Burnham can use some political education. "For the
anti-capitalist left," she writes, "this is a period of experimentation.
There is no roadmap; there are no recipes". Maybe, but there are abiding
truths that she has willfully forgotten: "Power concedes nothing without a

Those elements that refuse to make demands of Power ought to stop calling
themselves part of the Left. Unless the Left is in power, it is a
contradiction in terms.

Glen Ford is Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report, where this article
first appeared. He can be contacted at: Glen.Ford [at]
Read other articles by Glen, or visit Glen's website.

--------15 of 15--------

 Pedestalophiles Awake

 Prez O takes single payer
 off the table.
 America takes Prez O
 off the pedestal.

 Damdiphile put 'im back]


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