|Progressive Calendar 02.16.12 /2||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001umn.edu)|
|Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2012 13:41:23 -0800 (PST)|
*P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 02.16.12* 1. Stop FBI/dinner 2.16 5:30pm 2. Global economy 2.16 7pm 3. Genomes & evolution 2.16 7pm 4. Palestine vigil 2.17 4:15pm 5. Assault on science 2.17 7pm 6. William Wall - Greek people sacrificed to capitalist gods of speculation 7. Ari Berman - The .0000063% election: The politics of the super rich 8. The 99% Spring - April 9-15, 2012 -- 100,000 Americans will train for non-violent direct action 9. ed - Humble request (haiku) --------1 of 9-------- From: Meredith Aby Stop FBI/dinner 2.16 5:30pm Free Dinner: Stop FBI Repression Thursday, February 16th from 5:30 – 7pm @ Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN Share a meal in solidarity with local activists targeted by the feds for their anti-war and international solidarity work. Get updates on their case and ongoing support work, while enjoying delicious food and great company. FFI: StopFBI.net --------2 of 9-------- From: Joe Schwartzberg schwa004 [at] umn.edu Global economy 2.16 7pm THIRD THURSDAY GLOBAL ISSUES FORUM 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 lot When: Thursday, February 16, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. WEIGHING GLOBAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION: DOES INCREASED ECONOMIC INSTABILITY ERASE EFFICIENCY GAINS? The current round of “globalization,” that has returned international economic integration to pre-1914 levels has benefited people in many nations. It has contributed to dramatic economic growth in East and South Asia and to poverty reduction in other countries. But there is also evidence that the world economy is more fragile than in much of the post-WWII period, more subject to economic fluctuations driven by contagion effects from financial centers in the United States or European Union. To what extent is this fragility actually linked to global integration and can these dangers be reduced without sacrificing real gains elsewhere? Presenter: Ed Lotterman. Ed’s column, “Real World Economics,” appears twice weekly in newspapers in St Paul, Minnesota, Bismarck, North Dakota and Boise, Idaho. He also teaches at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Ed grew up on a farm in southwest Minnesota and has lived and worked in Brazil and Peru in addition to teaching at several colleges and universities. While a research fellow at the University of Minnesota from 1986-1992 he helped establish an international research network dealing with common property. >From 1992 to 1999, he was a regional economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. --------3 of 9-------- From: Atheists Weekly Email Genomes & evolution 2.16 7pm Thursday, February 16, 7:00 – 9:00pm Darwin Day! Andrew Lyman-Buttler Coffman Memorial Union 300 Washington Ave. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 Topic: "Written All Over Us: What Genomes Tell Us About Evolution" For room number and more information, check out the facebook page http://tinyurl.com/7g4a39r --------4 of 9-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine vigil 2.17 4:15pm The weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul. The Friday demo starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30. There are usually extra signs available. --------5 of 9-------- From: First Unitarian Society Assault on science 2.17 7pm "Fool Me Twice: fighting the assault on science in America" presentation at First Unitarian Society. (Friday, February 17, 7:00 pm). Here's the link: http://www.firstunitarian.org/content/lecture-religion-science-and-democracy --------6 of 9-------- The Greek People Have Been Sacrificed to the Capitalist Gods of Speculation In Europe, capitalism has persuaded the world that capitalism is the world by William Wall Published on Thursday, February 16, 2012 by Critical Legal Thinking (Ireland) The behaviour of the EU states towards Greece is inexplicable in the terms in which the EU defines itself. It is, first and foremost, a failure of solidarity. The "austerity package", as the newspapers like to call it, seeks to impose on Greece terms that no people can accept. Even now the schools are running out of books. There were 40% cuts in the public health budget in 2010 – I can't find the present figure. Greece's EU "partners" are demanding a 32% cut in the minimum wage for those under 25, a 22% cut for the over 25s. Already unemployment for 15-24-year-olds is 48% – it will have risen considerably since then. Overall unemployment has increased to over 20%. The sacking of public sector workers will add to it. The recession predicted to follow the imposition of the package will cause unbearable levels of unemployment at every level. In addition the "package" demands cuts to pensions and public service pay, wholesale privatisation of state assets – a fire-sale, since the global market is close to rock bottom – and cuts to public services including health, social welfare and education. The whole to be supervised by people other than the Greeks. An entire disciplinary and punishment system. When we casually use a term like "bailout", it is important to remember that it is not people who are being bailed out, or at least not the Greek people. The bailout will not save a single Greek life. The opposite is the case. What is being "bailed out" is the global financial system, including the banks, hedge funds and pension funds of the other EU member states, and it is the Greek people who are being ordered to pay – in money, time, physical pain, hopelessness and missed educational opportunities. The relatively neutral, even stoic, term "austerity", is a gross insult to the Greek people. This is not austerity; at best it is callousness. On top of this callousness, we must remember that the strategy itself is nonsense. Every intelligent observer is agreed that cuts do not produce growth. The highest rate of growth in the EU at present is in Poland where massive public investment is driving the economy. GDP is declining or barely moving among the "austerity" nations, including the UK. In essence, this crisis is a failure of the EU states to show solidarity in the face of an onslaught from the financial markets. At first glance this seems to be a very simple fight. In one corner you have nation states, which have the wellbeing of their citizens as their raison d'être; in the other you have global capitalism as represented by the financial markets, which has the wealth of a tiny few as its raison d'être. But the nation state has, for a considerable time, identified itself with those same markets. States have agreed to see themselves as economies rather than societies. More recently we have been led to believe that the market alone can provide everything the citizen needs and much more efficiently than the structures that the citizens normally rely on and which they have, over generations, erected as protections against the revenge of the market. This is the triumph of capitalism, that it has persuaded the world that capitalism is the world. It has led to the undoing of 200 years of struggle between ordinary people and the super-rich. [strutting perfumed peacocks - ed]Trade unions didn't appear overnight, they were a response to exploitation. Their defeat has led to the ubiquity of precarious, and now free, labour. Workers are not protected in their workplace by capitalists, they are protected by the laws won by struggle against the capitalist. A sweatshop in China is a direct assault not just on the rights of the Chinese worker but on those of workers in, for example, the UK. Socialist internationalism and solidarity were conceived as a way of defeating that ploy. Old people do not die in the streets not because charity has saved them but because 200 years of struggle has brought us the old age pension and public health. The privatisation of those services is a return to the 19th century. None of this public good would have been won if people had identified with the super-rich of 1812. Now that we have been brought to such an identification, we stand to lose them all over again. Now we see capitalism at its most triumphant. Greek police beat Greek people in order to impose the will of the banks and hedge funds. The EU member states, including Ireland, are the middleman, the quislings of capital. Rather than reach out a hand of solidarity, we say, "better them than us". As if the global markets will choose to pass on Ireland once Greece has been destroyed. Solidarity is not just compassion for one's fellow man; it is also materialist self-interest. One for all and all for one. We stand or fall together. There is strength in unity. Instead we have decided to sacrifice the Greek people to the market in the hope that our sacrifice will appease the gods of speculation. We condemn them to misery and poverty to keep Standard & Poor's off our backs. But we have miscalculated. Firstly, the communist left currently stands at 42% in the polls, Pasok at 8%. Pasok (the leading party in government) will vanish and a combination of real leftwing parties will win the next election. They will not bend the knee and put their necks on our block. It seems to me now that Greece will withdraw from the euro and default on its debt. Who knows what will happen to it then, but it can hardly be much worse than what we want from them, and at least it will be something of their own choosing. The speculators will then take a little time to consider which of the other economies to bet on. Perhaps then the Irish government will regret its lack of solidarity. Whatever happens, our behaviour and that of our EU compatriots has been shameful. © 2012 Critical Legal Thinking William Wall is an Irish novelist and blogs for Critical Legal Thinking --------7 of 9-------- The .0000063% Election: The Politics of the Super Rich by Ari Berman Published on Thursday, February 16, 2012 by TomDispatch.com At a time when it’s become a cliché to say that Occupy Wall Street has changed the nation’s political conversation -- drawing long overdue attention to the struggles of the 99% -- electoral politics and the 2012 presidential election have become almost exclusively defined by the 1%. Or, to be more precise, the .0000063%. Those are the 196 individual donors who have provided nearly 80% of the money raised by super PACs in 2011 by giving $100,000 or more each. These political action committees, spawned by the [calculatedly traitorous- ed] Supreme Court’s 5-4 Citizens United decision in January 2010, can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations, or unions for the purpose of supporting or opposing a political candidate. In theory, super PACs are legally prohibited from coordinating directly with a candidate, though in practice they’re just a murkier extension of political campaigns, performing all the functions of a traditional campaign without any of the corresponding accountability. If 2008 was the year of the small donor, when many political pundits (myself included) predicted that the fusion of grassroots organizing and cyber-activism would transform how campaigns were run, then 2012 is "the year of the big donor," when a candidate is only as good as the amount of money in his super PAC. “In this campaign, every candidate needs his own billionaires,” wrote Jane Mayer of The New Yorker. “This really is the selling of America,” claims former presidential candidate and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean. “We’ve been sold out by five justices thanks to the Citizens United decision.” In truth, our democracy was sold to the highest bidder long ago, but in the 2012 election the explosion of super PACs has shifted the public’s focus to the staggering inequality in our political system, just as the Occupy movement shined a light on the gross inequity of the economy. The two, of course, go hand in hand. “We’re going to beat money power with people power,” Newt Gingrich said after losing to Mitt Romney in Florida as January ended. The walking embodiment of the lobbying-industrial complex, Gingrich made that statement even though his candidacy is being propped up by a super PAC funded by two $5 million donations from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. It might have been more amusing if the GOP presidential primary weren’t a case study of a contest long on money and short on participation. The Wesleyan Media Project recently reported a 1600% increase in interest-group-sponsored TV ads in this cycle as compared to the 2008 primaries. Florida has proven the battle royal of the super PACs thus far. There, the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, outspent the pro-Gingrich super PAC, Winning Our Future, five to one. In the last week of the campaign alone, Romney and his allies ran 13,000 TV ads in Florida, compared to only 200 for Gingrich. Ninety-two percent of the ads were negative in nature, with two-thirds attacking Gingrich, who, ironically enough, had been a fervent advocate of the Citizens United decision. With the exception of Ron Paul’s underdog candidacy and Rick Santorum’s upset victory in Iowa -- where he spent almost no money but visited all of the state’s 99 counties -- the Republican candidates and their allied super PACs have all but abandoned retail campaigning and grassroots politicking. They have chosen instead to spend their war chests on TV. The results can already be seen in the first primaries and caucuses: an onslaught of money and a demobilized electorate. It’s undoubtedly no coincidence that, when compared with 2008, turnout was down 25% in Florida, and that, this time around, fewer Republicans have shown up in every state that’s voted so far, except for South Carolina. According to political scientists Stephen Ansolabehere and Shanto Iyengar, negative TV ads contribute to “a political implosion of apathy and withdrawal.” New York Times columnist Tim Egan has labeled the post-Citizens United era “your democracy on meth.” The .01 Percent Primary More than 300 super PACs are now registered with the Federal Election Commission. The one financed by the greatest number of small donors belongs to Stephen Colbert, who’s turned his TV show into a brilliant commentary on the deformed super PAC landscape. Colbert’s satirical super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, has raised $1 million from 31,595 people, including 1,600 people who gave $1 each. Consider this a rare show of people power in 2012. Otherwise the super PACs on both sides of the aisle are financed by the 1% of the 1%. Romney’s Restore Our Future Super PAC, founded by the general counsel of his 2008 campaign, has led the herd, raising $30 million, 98% from donors who gave $25,000 or more. Ten million dollars came from just 10 donors who gave $1 million each. These included three hedge-fund managers and Houston Republican Bob Perry, the main funder behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004, whose scurrilous ads did such an effective job of destroying John Kerry’s electoral prospects. Sixty-five percent of the funds that poured into Romney’s super PAC in the second half of 2011 came from the finance, insurance and real estate sector, otherwise known as the people who brought you the economic meltdown of 2007-2008. Romney’s campaign has raised twice as much as his super PAC, which is more than you can say for Rick Santorum, whose super PAC -- Red, White & Blue -- has raised and spent more than the candidate himself. Forty percent of the $2 million that has so far gone into Red, White & Blue came from just one man, Foster Friess, a conservative hedge-fund billionaire and Christian evangelical from Wyoming. In the wake of Santorum’s upset victories in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri on February 7th, Friess told the New York Times that he’d recruited $1 million for Santorum’s super PAC from another (unnamed) donor and upped his own giving, though he wouldn’t say by how much. We won’t find out until the next campaign disclosure filing in three months, by which time the GOP primary will almost certainly be decided. For now, Gingrich’s sugar daddy Adelson has pledged to stay with his flagging campaign, but he’s also signaled that if the former Speaker of the House goes down, he’ll be ready to donate even more super PAC money to a Romney presidential bid. And keep in mind that there’s nothing in the post-Citizens United law to stop a donor like Adelson, hell-bent on preventing the Obama administration from standing in the way of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, from giving $100 million, or for that matter, however much he likes. Before Citizens United, the maximum amount one person could give to a candidate was $2,500; for a political action committee, $5,000; for a political party committee, $30,800. Now, the sky’s the limit for a super PAC, and even more disturbingly, any donor can give an unlimited contribution to a 501c4 -- outfits defined by the IRS as “civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare,” and to make matters worse, that contribution will remain eternally secret. In this way, American politics is descending further into the darkness, with 501c4s quickly gaining influence as “shadow super PACs.” A recent analysis by the Washington Post found that, at a cost of $24 million, 40% of the TV ads in the presidential race so far came from these tax-exempt “social welfare” groups. The Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads, a leading conservative super PAC attacking Democratic candidates and the Obama administration, also runs a 501c4 called Crossroads GPS. It’s raised twice as much money as its sister group, all from donations whose sources will remain hidden from American voters. Serving as a secret slush fund for billionaires evidently now qualifies as social welfare. The Income Defense Industry In his book Oligarchy, political scientist Jeffrey Winters refers to the disproportionately wealthy and influential actors in the political system as the “Income Defense Industry.” If you want to know how the moneyed class, who prospered during the Bush and Clinton years, found a way to kill or water down nearly everything it objected to in the Obama years, look no further than the grip of the 1% of the 1% on our political system. This simple fact explains why hedge-fund managers pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries, or why the U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a single-payer universal healthcare system, or why the planet continues to warm at an unprecedented pace while we do nothing to combat global warming. Money usually buys elections and, whoever is elected, it almost always buys influence. In the 2010 election, the 1% of the 1% accounted for 25% of all campaign-related donations, totaling $774 million dollars, and 80% of all donations to the Democratic and Republican parties, the highest percentage since 1990. In congressional races in 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the candidate who spent the most money won 85% of House races and 83% of Senate races. The media loves an underdog story, but nowadays the underdog is ever less likely to win. Given the cost of running campaigns and the overwhelming premium on outspending your opponent, it’s no surprise that nearly half the members of Congress are millionaires, and the median net worth of a U.S. Senator is $2.56 million. The influence of super PACs was already evident by November 2010, just nine months after the Supreme Court’s ruling. John Nichols and Robert McChesney of The Nation note that, of the 53 competitive House districts where Rove’s Crossroads organization outspent Democratic candidates in 2010, Republicans won fifty-one. As it turned out, however, the last election was a mere test run for the monetary extravaganza that is 2012. Republicans are banking on that super PAC advantage again this year, when the costs of the presidential contest and all other races for federal posts will soar from $5 billion in 2008 to as high as $7 billion by November. (The 2000 election cost a “mere” $3 billion.) In other words, the amount spent this election season will be roughly the equivalent of the gross domestic product of Haiti. The Myth of Small Donors In June 2003, presidential candidate Howard Dean shocked the political establishment by raising $828,000 in one day over the Internet, with an average donation of $112. Dean, in fact, got 38% of his campaign’s total funds from donations of $200 or less, planting the seeds for what many forecast would be a small-donor revolution in American politics. Four years later, Barack Obama raised a third of his record-breaking $745 million campaign haul from small donors, while Ron Paul raised 39% from small dollars on the Republican side. Much of Paul’s campaign was financed by online “money bombs,” when enthusiastic supporters generated millions of dollars in brief, coordinated bursts. The amount of money raised in small donations by Obama, in particular, raised hopes that his campaign had found a way to break the death grip of big donors on American politics. In retrospect, the small-donor utopianism surrounding Obama seems naïve. Despite all the adulatory media attention about his small donors, the candidate still raised the bulk of his money from big givers. (Typically, these days, incumbent members of Congress raise less than 10% of their campaign funds from small donors, with those numbers actually dropping when you reach the gubernatorial and state legislative levels.) Obama’s top contributors included employees of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Citigroup, hardly standard bearers for the little guy. For obvious reasons, the campaign chose to emphasize the small donors over the big ones in its narrative, as it continues to do in 2012. Interestingly enough, both Obama and Paul actually raised more money from small donors in 2011 than they did in 2008, 48% and 52% of their totals, respectively. But in the super PAC era that money no longer has the same impact. Even Dean doubts that his anti-establishment, Internet-fueled campaign from 2004 would be as successful today. “Super PACs have made a grassroots campaign less effective,” he says. “You can still run a grassroots campaign but the problem is you can be overwhelmed now on television and by dirty mailers being sent out... It’s a very big change from 2008.” Obama is a candidate with a split personality, which makes his campaign equally schizophrenic. The Obama campaign claims it’s raising 98% of its money from small donors and is “building the biggest grassroots campaign in American history,” according to campaign manager Jim Messina. But the starry-eyed statistics and the rhetoric that accompanies it are deeply misleading. Of the $89 million raised in 2011 by the Obama Joint Victory Fund, a collaboration of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Obama campaign, 74% came from donations of $20,000 or more and 99% from donations of $1,000 or more. The campaign has 445 “bundlers” (dubbed “volunteer fundraisers” by the campaign), who gather money from their wealthy friends and package it for Obama. They have raised at least $74.4 million for Obama and the DNC in 2011. Sixty-one of those bundlers raised $500,000 or more. Obama held 73 fundraisers in 2011 and 13 last month alone, where the price of admission was almost always $35,800 a head. An increase in small donor contributions and a surge of big money fundraisers still wasn’t enough, however, to give Obama an advantage over Republicans in the money chase. That’s why the Obama campaign, until recently adamantly against super PACs, suddenly relented and signaled its support for a pro-Obama super PAC called Priorities USA. A day after the announcement that the campaign, like its Republican rivals, would super PAC it up, Messina spoke at the members-only Core Club in Manhattan and “assured a group of Democratic donors from the financial services industry that Obama won’t demonize Wall Street as he stresses populist appeals in his re-election campaign,” reported Bloomberg Businessweek. “Messina told the group of Wall Street donors that the president plans to run against Romney, not the industry that made the former governor of Massachusetts millions.” In other words, don’t expect a convincing return to the theme of the people versus the powerful in campaign 2012, even though Romney, if the nominee, would be particularly vulnerable to that line of attack. After all, so far his campaign has raised only 9% of its campaign contributions from small donors, well behind both Senator John McCain, 21% in 2008, and George W. Bush, 26% in 2004. In the fourth quarter of 2011, Romney outraised Obama among the top firms on Wall Street by a margin of 11 to 1. His top three campaign contributions are from employees of Goldman Sachs ($496,430), JPMorgan ($317,400) and Morgan Stanley ($277,850). The banks have fallen out of favor with the public, but their campaign cash is indispensable among the political class and so they remain as powerful as ever in American politics. In a recent segment of his show, Stephen Colbert noted that half of the money ($67 million) raised by super PACs in 2011 had come from just 22 people. “That’s 7 one-millionths of 1 percent," or roughly .000000071%, Colbert said while spraying a fire extinguisher on his fuming calculator. “So Occupy Wall Street, you’re going to want to change those signs.” © 2012 TomDispatch.com Ari Berman is a contributing writer for The Nation magazine and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at The Nation Institute. He is the author of Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics,and has written extensively about American politics, foreign policy and the intersection of money and politics. His stories have also appeared in the New York Times, Editor & Publisher and The Guardian, and he is a frequent guest and political commentator on MSNBC, C-Span and NPR. --------8 of 9-------- April 9-15, 2012 -- 100,000 Americans Will Train for Non-Violent Direct Action The 99% Spring Things should never have reached this point. Every day, the American Dream seems a little farther away. More of our grandparents are being thrown from their homes. Our mothers and fathers can’t retire because their pension funds tanked. Our brothers and sisters are burdened by student loan debt. For our children, budget cuts have resulted in crumbling schools, skyrocketing class sizes, and teachers being denied the supports they need to do their best. Our friends and family are being denied collective bargaining rights in their workplaces and are falling further and further behind. Our neighbors are being poisoned by pollution in our air and water. The numbers are staggering: in recent years, millions of jobs have been destroyed, homes foreclosed, and an unconscionable number of children live in poverty. And worst of all: this is no accident. It is a result of rampant greed—the deliberate manipulation of our democracy and our economy by a tiny minority in the 1%, by those who amass ever more wealth and power at our expense. We are at a crossroads as a country. We have a choice to make. Greater wealth for a few or opportunity for many. Tax breaks for the richest or a fair shot for the rest of us. A government that can be bought by the highest bidder, or a democracy that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people. The choice is in our hands. This spring, we will act on that choice and rise up in the tradition of our forefathers and foremothers. We will not be complicit with the suffering in our families for another year. We will prepare ourselves for sustained non-violent direct action. >From April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country. We will organize trainings to: Tell the story of our economy: how we got here, who’s responsible, what a different future could look like, and what we can do about it Learn the history of non-violent direct action, and Get into action on our own campaigns to win change. This spring we rise! We will reshape our country with our own hands and feet, bodies and hearts. We will take non-violent action in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi to forge a new destiny one block, one neighborhood, one city, one state at a time. We know great change is possible. We inherit a history of everyday people standing up for their own dignity, freedom, and self-determination, shaping our direction as a country. The seamstress in Alabama who launched a bus boycott. The farmers in New England and Virginia who imagined we could be a free nation. The workers in Flint, Michigan who occupied their plant to win collective bargaining rights. The farmworkers in California who liberated our fields. The women in New York who dreamed they could one day speak with equal voice. The mother who stood up in Love Canal to stop the poisoning of her community. And the students who risked their lives during Freedom Summer to register voters. In the last year alone we watched the teachers and fire fighters of Wisconsin stand for the rights of workers. And we joined those who Occupied Wall Street, inspiring us to stand with the 99%. We will rise this spring, because we DO hold these truths to be self evident—that all men and women are created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Will you rise with us? Can we count on you to join us April 9th to 15th to stand with the 99% for America? [See on-line version on CommonDreams for list of signers and place for you to sign] --------9 of 9-------- Humble Request Please piss on the rich. Help them know how life is for all the rest of us. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Shove Grove
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