Progressive Calendar 01.19.12 /2
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2012 13:17:55 -0800 (PST)
* P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   01.19.12*

1. Occupy capitalism 1.19  7pm

2. Ralph Nader   - United States Congress: a graveyard for democracy and
3. Chris Hedges - Why I’m suing Barack Obama
4. ed                 - Letter lib   (haiku)

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From: Joe Schwartzberg schwa004 [at]
Occupy capitalism 1.19  7pm

Free and open to the public. Come and bring a friend.
Where? Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church,
511 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis (at Lyndale and Hennepin). Park in church

January 19, 2012, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Occupy Wall Street has grown from an isolated protest act to an
international movement and
media sensation.  Yet, what does this movement represent?  This talk
examines the meaning of
Occupy Wall Street in the context of a crisis in American capitalism and
democracy that has its roots in the rise of Reaganism, Thatcherism, and the
transformation of the global economy that begin in the 1980s and which came
to a crash in 2008.  Occupy Wall Street challenges America with an
alternative choice regarding how to structure domestic and international
economic and political institutions.

Presenter: Professor David Schulz. David Schultz is a Hamline University
School of Business professor and a senior fellow at the Institute on Law
and Politics at the University of Minnesota Law School.  He is the
author/editor of more than 25 books and 80 articles on American politics,
law, and public policy. He is a frequent political analyst in the local and
national media, appearing in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the
Wall Street Journal, and on all the major television and radio networks.

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Published on Thursday, January 19, 2012 by Common Dreams
United States Congress: A Graveyard for Democracy and Justice
by Ralph Nader

The editor of The Hill, a newspaper exclusively covering Congress, said
that Congress was not going to do very much in 2012, except for "the big
bill" which is extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment compensation,
which expire in late February. That two month extension will likely
reignite the fight between Democrats and Republicans that flared last month.

In 2012, Congress, the editor implied, would be busy electioneering. That
is, the Senators and Representatives will be busy raising money from
commercial interests so they can keep their jobs. There won't be much time
to change anything about misallocated public budgets, unfair tax rules,
undeclared costly wars, and job-depleting trade policies that, if fixed,
would increase employment and public investment.

So this year, Congress will spend well over $3 billion on its own expenses
to do nothing of significance other than shift more debt to individual
taxpayers by depleting the social security payroll tax by over $100 billion
so both parties can say they enacted a tax cut! That is what the Democrats
in Congress and the President call a significant accomplishment.

Will someone call a psychiatrist? This is a Congress that is beyond
dysfunctional. It is an obstacle to progress in America, a graveyard for
both democracy and justice. No wonder a new Washington Post-ABC news poll
found an all time high of 84 percent of Americans disapprove of the job
Congress is doing.

Both Republicans and Democrats say they want to reduce the deficit. But
they are avoiding, in varying degrees, doing this in any way that would
discomfort the rich and powerful. One would think that, especially in an
election year, the following legislative agenda would be very popular with
the voters.

First, restore the taxes on the rich that George W. Bush cut ten years ago
which expanded the deficit. So clueless are the Democrats that they have
not learned to use the word "restore" instead of the Republican word
"increase" when talking about taxes that were previously cut for the
millionaires and billionaires.

Second, collect unpaid taxes. The IRS estimates that $385 billion of tax
revenues are not collected yearly. If the IRS budget increased and more
people were hired, every dollar it spent would return $200 from tax
evaders, including corporations and the wealthy. When taxes are not
collected, the large majority of honest taxpayers are left with the unfair
consequences. Imagine that money being applied to jobs that repair our
crumbling public works.

Third, end the outrageous corporate loopholes that allow profitable large
corporations to pay just half of the statutory tax rate of thirty-five
percent. More than a few pay less than five percent and many pay zero on
major profits. During a recent three year period, according to the Citizens
for Tax Justice, a dozen major corporations such as Verizon and Honeywell
paid no taxes on many billions of profits, and the legendary tax escapee,
General Electric, managed to pay zero and even receive billions in benefits
from the U.S. Treasury.

Fourth, do what most U.S. soldiers in the field have believed should have
been done years ago--get out of Afghanistan and Iraq and nearby countries
like Kuwait where thousands of U.S. soldiers based in Iraq have moved.

Fifth, to increase consumer demand, which creates jobs, raise the federal
minimum wage from the present level of $7.25--which is $2.75 less than it
was way back in 1968, adjusted for inflation--to $10 per hour. Businesses
who keep raising prices and executive salaries (eg. Walmart and McDonalds)
since 1968 should be reminded of their windfall in that period.

In addition, President Obama can urge mutual and pension funds and
individual shareholders to demand higher dividends from companies like EMC,
Google, Apple, Cisco, Oracle and others firms hoarding two trillion dollars
in cash as if this money was the corporate bosses', not the
owner-shareholders. More dividends, more consumer demand, more jobs.

Want to know why Congress doesn't make such popular and prudent decisions
for the American people? Because the people are not objecting to all the
power that their Congressional representatives and their corporate allies
have sucked away from them. Because the people are not putting teeth and
time into the "sovereignty of the people" expressed in the preamble to our
Constitution which begins with "We the people," not "We the corporation."

So citizens, it's your choice. If you don't demand a say day after day,
you'll continue to pay day after day.

By the way, the Congressional switchboard number is 202-224-3121.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent
book - and first novel - is, Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us. His most
recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

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.Published on Monday, January 16, 2012 by
Why I’m Suing Barack Obama by Chris Hedges

Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint Friday in the
Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on my behalf as a plaintiff
against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the
legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the
latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the
president Dec. 31.

The act authorizes the military in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled
“Counter-Terrorism,” for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry
out domestic policing. With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the
military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to
be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. And suspects can be shipped by
the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there
until “the end of hostilities.” It is a catastrophic blow to civil

I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest
and detain citizens without charge. I have been in some of these jails. I
have friends and colleagues who have “disappeared” into military gulags. I
know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power
to the armed forces of any nation. And while my battle may be quixotic, it
is one that has to be fought if we are to have any hope of pulling this
country back from corporate fascism.

Section 1031 of the bill defines a “covered person”—one subject to
detention—as “a person who was a part of or substantially supported
al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities
against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person
who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such
hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”

The bill, however, does not define the terms “substantially supported,”
“directly supported” or “associated forces.”

I met regularly with leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. I used to
visit Palestine Liberation Organization leaders, including Yasser Arafat
and Abu Jihad, in Tunis when they were branded international terrorists. I
have spent time with the Revolutionary Guard in Iran and was in northern
Iraq and southeastern Turkey with fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’
Party. All these entities were or are labeled as terrorist organizations by
the U.S. government. What would this bill have meant if it had been in
place when I and other Americans traveled in the 1980s with armed units of
the Sandinistas in Nicaragua or the Farabundo Marti National Liberation
Front guerrillas in El Salvador? What would it have meant for those of us
who were with the southern insurgents during the civil war in Yemen or the
rebels in the southern Sudan? I have had dinner more times than I can count
with people whom this country brands as terrorists. But that does not make
me one.

Once a group is deemed to be a terrorist organization, whether it is a
Palestinian charity or an element of the Uighur independence movement, the
military can under this bill pick up a U.S. citizen who supported charities
associated with the group or unwittingly sent money or medical supplies to
front groups. We have already seen the persecution and closure of Islamic
charity organizations in the United States that supported the Palestinians.
Now the members of these organizations can be treated like card-carrying
“terrorists” and sent to Guantanamo.

But I suspect the real purpose of this bill is to thwart internal, domestic
movements that threaten the corporate state. The definition of a terrorist
is already so amorphous under the Patriot Act that there are probably a few
million Americans who qualify to be investigated if not locked up. Consider
the arcane criteria that can make you a suspect in our new
military-corporate state. The Department of Justice considers you worth
investigating if you are missing a few fingers, if you have weatherproof
ammunition, if you own guns or if you have hoarded more than seven days of
food in your house. Adding a few of the obstructionist tactics of the
Occupy movement to this list would be a seamless process. On the whim of
the military, a suspected “terrorist” who also happens to be a U.S. citizen
can suffer extraordinary rendition—being kidnapped and then left to rot in
one of our black sites “until the end of hostilities.” Since this is an
endless war that will be a very long stay.

This demented “war on terror” is as undefined and vague as such a conflict
is in any totalitarian state. Dissent is increasingly equated in this
country with treason. Enemies supposedly lurk in every organization that
does not chant the patriotic mantras provided to it by the state. And this
bill feeds a mounting state paranoia. It expands our permanent war to every
spot on the globe. It erases fundamental constitutional liberties. It means
we can no longer use the word “democracy” to describe our political system.

The supine and gutless Democratic Party, which would have feigned outrage
if George W. Bush had put this into law, appears willing, once again, to
grant Obama a pass. But I won’t. What he has done is unforgivable,
unconstitutional and exceedingly dangerous. The threat and reach of
al-Qaida—which I spent a year covering for The New York Times in Europe and
the Middle East—are marginal, despite the attacks of 9/11. The terrorist
group poses no existential threat to the nation. It has been so disrupted
and broken that it can barely function. Osama bin Laden was gunned down by
commandos and his body dumped into the sea. Even the Pentagon says the
organization is crippled. So why, a decade after the start of the so-called
war on terror, do these draconian measures need to be implemented? Why do
U.S. citizens now need to be specifically singled out for military
detention and denial of due process when under the 2001 Authorization for
Use of Military Force the president can apparently find the legal cover to
serve as judge, jury and executioner to assassinate U.S. citizens, as he
did in the killing of the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen? Why is this bill
necessary when the government routinely ignores our Fifth Amendment
rights—“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”—as
well as our First Amendment right of free speech? How much more power do
they need to fight “terrorism”?

Fear is the psychological weapon of choice for totalitarian systems of
power. Make the people afraid. Get them to surrender their rights in the
name of national security. And then finish off the few who aren’t afraid
enough. If this law is not revoked we will be no different from any sordid
military dictatorship. Its implementation will be a huge leap forward for
the corporate oligarchs who plan to continue to plunder the nation and use
state and military security to cow the population into submission.

The oddest part of this legislation is that the FBI, the CIA, the director
of national intelligence, the Pentagon and the attorney general didn’t
support it. FBI Director Robert Mueller said he feared the bill would
actually impede the bureau’s ability to investigate terrorism because it
would be harder to win cooperation from suspects held by the military. “The
possibility looms that we will lose opportunities to obtain cooperation
from the persons in the past that we’ve been fairly successful in gaining,”
he told Congress.

But it passed anyway. And I suspect it passed because the corporations,
seeing the unrest in the streets, knowing that things are about to get much
worse, worrying that the Occupy movement will expand, do not trust the
police to protect them. They want to be able to call in the Army. And now
they can.

© 2012 TruthDig
Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Hedges graduated
from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign
correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books,
including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should
Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on
America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy
and the Triumph of Spectacle.

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