Bulletin N°430



27 December 2009
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

This year I spent part of Christmas day at home re-reading Alice in Wonderland to my children.
My younger daughter, who just entered Junior High School this year, found particularly funny the response of the Gryphon when Alice asked the Mock Turtle : "How many hours a day do you do lessons?" --"Ten the first day ... nine the next, and so on," answered the Mock Turtle. --"That's the reason they are called lessons," the Gryphon remarked, "because they lessen from day to day."

When we finished the book, I went to my computer to look at the Internet news sites: The Real News, Democracy Now! and GRITtv have all presented reports almost daily on Jerusalem, on Gaza, and on U.S.-Israeli relations. When will Israeli Jews stop stealing the homes of Palestinian families? I asked out loud, with my earphones on. My daughter looked at me. Will they steal our home, too? I shrugged my shoulders, "I don't know. . . maybe," I replied.

My older daughter laughed. "He's only kidding. That's not possible," she said.

The lesson of Guernica came to mind: the authors of the new German order watched and waited to see the response of the so-called Democratic nations in 1937, and when there was no response to the massacre of the Basque village which took place on 26 April 1937, at 5:00 p. m., when German planes began dropping incendiary bombs on the defensless civilian population, it was understood as a green light for future German expansions into Austria, into Czechoslovakia, into Poland, etc. .... The politics of appeasement was made respectable by the capitalist world  leaders, and German industrialists and their imperialists politicians were prepared to benefit from the opportunity this indifference presented.

I looked at my daughter and asked: "Do you think that George Bush would have sent U.S. troops to invade Iraq, and NATO troops would have invaded Afghanistan if ordinary Europeans and Americans had massively protested the Israeli-American massacres in Lebanon and Gaza?

"I don't think so," she answered.

"Well, I don't think so either," I replied.

Then, my children, temporarily overdosed on reality, asked me to tell them an imaginary story, and my thoughts went to an episode from Buratino, written  by the Russian author Alexis Tolstoy. He described Buratino arriving in the Land of Fools, led by Basilio the cat and Alissa the fox. They were out to rob him, but the cunning creatures pretended to be his friends. The painfully naif wooden puppet --who was just born the day before-- followed them to this ridiculous place where they had advised him to burry his five gold coins in the ground so that the gold would grow into a money tree. On their way to the most desolate part of the village Buratino observed many strange things: donkeys ran backwards, pushing carts instead of pulling them; bridges passed through rivers, instead of over them; street lamps were turned off at sunset; the police were fat bulldogs, always ready to accept a bribe; jail guards were weasels, with a passionate joy to kill unarmed people; house cats led people with leashes around their necks for walks at night. . . . This was a scene from everyday life in the Land of Fools, where public opinion, we might expect, was entirely predictable because it was custom made to fit all circumstances in the interests of the rulers.

"Who are the rulers?'my older daughter asked pugnaciously.

The owners of the means of production, I replied.

And what do they want produced? she insisted.

Profits, I answered.

What are profits? she demanded to know.

That part of the total value which is taken away from people after they have produce it, I explained patiently.

But did Buratino's gold coins grow into a money tree? my younger daughter interrupted hopefully.

What do you think? is asked, turning to her.

Oh, Papa, it's just an imaginary story, she complained.

What did you learn from this story, I insisted.

That people are bad, said my oldest daughter sardonically.

Was Buratino bad? I asked.

No, the younger one replied. He was just dumb.

Why do you think he was so dumb?" I asked.

Well, he had no experiences; he was just born yesterday, they both replied, and they left the room in search of more Christmas cookies.

The 8 items below offer CEIMSA readers an opportunity for more oxygen: experience the information below; it may have the effect of helping you bring into better focus the patterns of life around us today, and might suggest the direction toward which we all are now moving, together. History, of course, does not repeat itself, but on the other hand there are certain constants in human behavior, especially when the context has not change much. The era of imperialism has been with us for a while; it offers such a context, and, as we have seen already, nationalism remains a convenient alibi, useful to justify profiteering from the spoils of imperialist wars.

Item A. is a commentary on the state of ethics in U.S. political culture: "They know no shame," by Ralph Nader.

Item B. is an article  sent to us by The University of Massachusetts Professor Emeritus, Richard Wolff, who describes capitalist vultures circling public education in the USA.

Item C., sent to us by UCLA Professor Rhonda Hammer, is an article by clinical psychologist, Bruce E. Levine, who questions: " Are Americans a Broken People ? "

Item D., sent to us by Michael Parenti, is an article by Prof. David Michael Green, Hofstra U. on the Obama "health scam."

Item E., from Edward Herman, is an exercise in imagining "if the Palestinian resistance movement were happening in Iran !"

Item F., are links to recent articles of interest, sent to us by Historians Against the War representative, Jim O'Brien.

Item G., from Truth Out, is an article by Dick Meister on the need for a renewal of an American labor movement.

Item H., is a report sent to us by Nanterre graduate student, Ahmed El Aidi, on Hollywood stereotypes of Arabs: "How Hollywood Vilifies a People," by Omar Attum.

And finally, we conclude this CEIMSA bulletin with a season's greeting from CODE PINK :

Lift The Siege On Gaza!
International Campaign in Support of the Gaza Freedom March
By Code Pink

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3

from Ralph Nader
Date 23 December 2009
Subject: They Know No Shame

Dear Friend,

In Japan, they know the meaning of shame.

Citigroup does wrong in Japan, and the CEO is forced to make a public bow of apology.

In the United States, when Citigroup does wrong, there's no apology - just subsidies, bailouts and bonuses.

Indeed, one year after it crashed the global economy, drained people's pensions and retirement savings, and threw millions out of work, Wall Street is back to business as usual - in Washington and Manhattan both, as I predicted at Wall Street and other rallies.

But one group is leading the charge against Wall Street, issuing a clarion call to rein in the banksters.

That group is Public Citizen, an organization I founded nearly 40 years ago to be a permanent representative of the people in Washington, D.C.

I am writing today to urge you to make a contribution before the end of the year to support Public Citizen's Campaign to Rein in Wall Street.

Please make your contribution of $25, $50, $100, $500 - or whatever you can afford.

Contribute before midnight, December 31, and your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a small group of committed Public Citizen donors - up to $100,000! Please help Public Citizen reach this target.

Earlier this year, your support spawned Single Payer Action - a hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners operation dedicated to winning a Medicare-for-All system. Now I'm asking you - our strongest supporters - to catapult another citizen drive to confront corporate power.

442 days.

That's how long it took after the collapse of Lehman Brothers before the House of Representatives passed some financial reform legislation.

It's still pending in the Senate.

The long delay between the onset of the financial crisis and Congressional movement toward passage of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 did not well serve the cause of reform.

First, the good news.

Thanks in no small part to the work of Public Citizen, the bill would set up a consumer financial watchdog agency.

Wall Street said it wanted to "kill" - their words - the agency.

Public Citizen was here to say, "no way."

Public Citizen experts made the case for the agency.

And they went after Wall Street lackeys, like Representative Melissa Bean (D-Illinois), who tried, unsuccessfully, to defeat or weaken the agency beyond recognition.

If passed by the Senate, the agency will prevent predatory mortgages, rip-off overdraft fees, fine-print bank billing tricks and complicated loan terms designed to deceive.

But besides the consumer watchdog, which we hope will be headed by the magnificent Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, the bill will be little more than an annoyance to Wall Street.

That's because the bill fails utterly to address the structural problems that led to the financial crisis.

As the financial regulation debate moves to the Senate, no one is better positioned to fix these problems than Public Citizen.

But Public Citizen needs your help. Please donate now.

Here's Public Citizen's program.

Step one: Break up the banks.

It's that simple. The banks are too big to fail. So make them smaller.

And make sure that the commercial banks where you maintain your checking accounts are separated from the investment banks that gamble on Wall Street.

Step two: Crack down on derivatives, which Warren Buffett called "financial weapons of mass destruction."

Ban exotic financial instruments that are too dangerous. Make purveyors of new derivatives prove they are safe. And subject whatever is permitted to stringent controls.

Step three: Rein in executive pay, and end Wall Street's ruinous bonus culture.

Wall Street aims to pay tens of billions of dollars in bonuses - in the same year it has received trillions of dollars in public support?



Then slap a windfall tax on the bonuses. Public Citizen called for it, and the United Kingdom is now doing it. Washington can follow.

And the bonuses that are paid should only be a reward for long-term success by companies or divisions in companies.

When I set up Public Citizen, the idea was to create a base of talented advocates who could read convoluted legislation and regulations, translate technical language into everyday English and highlight corporate abuses; use the media to get the word out; petition, lobby, litigate and agitate; and mobilize the public around proposals to advance health, safety, justice and democracy.

All to go toe-to-toe with corporate power.

And win.

For almost four decades, that's what Public Citizen has done.

Like no one else in Washington.

Now they are ready to take on Wall Street.

And win.

But they need your engagement with other like-minded Americans. Please donate today.

You can count on Public Citizen to name names.

They will connect Wall Street campaign contributions to their Congressional allies' fake solutions.

They will lay out a hard-hitting agenda to reduce Wall Street's power.

And they will organize the populist rage needed to impose new rules on Wall Street.

But only with the help of people like you, who are Public Citizen's energy source.

Can you contribute $25, $50, $100, $500 - or whatever you can afford - right now, so Public Citizen can expand its work?

With the House of Representatives finally passing its financial reform bill earlier this month, the whole legislative package moves to the Senate.

Where it will very quickly move to the front burner in early 2010.

So, there's no time to delay.

Together, we do have the power to defeat Wall Street.

Onward to economic justice.

Ralph Nader

from Rick Wolff :
Date: 19 December 2009
Subject: Capitalists target "Public Education in a State of Shock."

Dear Francis,
Thought you might be interested in my latest for the MR webzine (attached hereto) on how the economic crisis is affecting public education across the US.
Best regards and joyeux noel

Economic Crisis Savages Public Education
by Rick Wolff

Capitalist crises, especially severe ones, are case studies in that system's social costs.  Because the dutifully conservative economics profession rarely studies such cases, let's do just that here by focusing on how the current capitalist crisis is damaging public education.  Deteriorating schools leave scars lasting for many years.  They undercut the quality of the skills and knowledge of the next generation in their individual capacities as workers, citizens, friends, parents, and so on.  Nothing less than this nation's future is at stake.

At one end of the country, California's Republican governor is cutting billions of dollars from the state's public education institutions and programs to cope with the impact of a 12 per cent unemployment rate on state revenues.  The California Board of Regents on November 19, 2009 voted to raise tuition at the University of California (the nation's largest public university) by 32 per cent and to impose similar increases in graduate student and professional school fees.  Tens of thousands of students have been excluded from public higher education enrollment this year in California.  Partly students' deteriorating economic situations forced them to drop out, and partly they are responding to major tuition and fee increases in recent years.  Even at the state's community colleges, fees rose 30 percent last year.  Instead of finding revenues for the state from those most able to pay and best positioned economically to weather the current crisis, public education gets savaged.  Meanwhile, "over the last two decades, the annual share of California's total income garnered by the top 1% of the state's earners went from 13.8% to 25.2%" according to the Los Angeles Times.

The explanation for this state of affairs exposes core problems of US politics.  Politicians depend on corporations and the rich for the contributions and contacts needed for election.  Campaigns for all major local, regional, and national offices now depend especially on buying expensive mass media exposure.  Candidates' ads must pander to "common sense" ideas such as those that demonize all taxes and government economic interventions.  Those ideas are promoted by think tanks, foundations, university institutes, etc. likewise financed by corporations and the rich.

Politicians concerned about their careers dare not seek extra state revenues from the corporations and the rich.  Instead they cut state services not favored by their patrons.  Since children of the rich increasingly attend private schools or certain elite public schools, politicians end up cutting chiefly the public education that serves everyone else.  As US corporations shift ever more skilled jobs overseas, they need fewer educated US workers.

At the opposite end of the country, on New York's densely populated Long Island, a recent study of public elementary and secondary schools documented anew the profound economic inequalities embedded within that part of the public education system in the US.  Such public schools' funding depends on local property taxes plus help from the state government (as in all of the states).  The new study proved yet again the resulting unequal educational opportunity forced on this nation's children: schools in rich neighborhoods could afford far better education than was afforded in all other schools.  The study's lead author, Columbia University Professor Amy S. Wells, wrote: "In poorer schools, their ceiling is meeting state mandates; for more affluent schools, the academic floor is even higher than the poorer schools' ceiling."  She added, "We found that in some wealthy districts, there were hundreds of applicants for a single teaching job, while in poorer districts just miles away, schools had difficulty attracting a single applicant for a teaching job."  In the study's key conclusion: "There is a tremendous difference in what districts spend per-pupil.  Even the state funding formula which is supposed to even out the disparities between districts does not end up doing that when all the funding streams are looked at in their totality."

The economic crisis sharply worsens these public school inequalities in New York.  The middle and poorer school districts display higher rates of unemployment and home foreclosures, more rapidly declining real estate values, and more tightly constricted family budgets than the rich school districts.  The resulting pressures to lower property taxes will be greater in the middle and poorer districts than in the rich districts.  School funding will suffer accordingly.  Inequality inside public education will grow alongside that between public and private education.  Deepening educational inequality will reinforce the subsequent inequality of qualifications, jobs, and incomes that this generation of young people will suffer.

Nor is the state of New York helping, let alone offsetting, Long Island's deteriorating public schools.  On the contrary, responding to the economic crisis, Democratic governor Patterson this December cut $750 million from the current budget's provision for schools and local governments and has proposed a 2009-2010 budget that would cut school aid by another $700 million while also imposing new fees such as an 18 per cent sales tax on soft drinks ("to combat obesity"), eliminating the sales-tax exemption on clothing and footwear under $110, and imposing a sales tax on cable and satellite radio.  While such aid cuts damage public education directly, the proposed additional regressive tax increases will further fuel demands for property tax relief that undermines funding for schools.

Reacting to the economic crisis, both Bush's and Obama's administrations have allowed the state and local funding supports for public education to decline nationwide.  Educational opportunities shrink as educational inequality rises.  From coast to coast, most students' job, income, and life prospects fall ever further behind those of children of the rich.  The US government's response to economic crisis might well be ironically renamed as "leave no banker behind."  Yet a collapsing public education system threatens society's future no less than a collapsing credit market.  A president who campaigned on a program of hope presides over its evaporation for most children.

Rick Wolff is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and also a Visiting Professor at the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University in New York.   He is the author of New Departures in Marxian Theory (Routledge, 2006) among many other publications.  Check out Rick Wolff’s documentary film on the current economic crisis, Capitalism Hits the Fan, at www.capitalismhitsthefan.com.  Visit Wolff's Web site at www.rdwolff.com, and order a copy of his new book Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do about It.

from Rhonda Hammer :
Date: 19 December 2009
Subject: Are the American People Broken

A great article.

Are Americans a Broken People? Why We've Stopped Fighting Back Against the Forces of Oppression
by Bruce E. Levin


Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not "set them free" but instead further demoralize them? Has such a demoralization happened in the United States?

Do some totalitarians actually want us to hear how we have been screwed because they know that humiliating passivity in the face of obvious oppression will demoralize us even further?

What forces have created a demoralized, passive, dis-couraged U.S. population?

Can anything be done to turn this around?

Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not "set them free" but instead further demoralize them?

Yes. It is called the "abuse syndrome." How do abusive pimps, spouses, bosses, corporations, and governments stay in control? They shove lies, emotional and physical abuses, and injustices in their victims' faces, and when victims are afraid to exit from these relationships, they get weaker. So the abuser then makes their victims eat even more lies, abuses, and injustices, resulting in victims even weaker as they remain in these relationships.

Does knowing the truth of their abuse set people free when they are deep in these abuse syndromes?

No. For victims of the abuse syndrome, the truth of their passive submission to humiliating oppression is more than embarrassing; it can feel shameful -- and there is nothing more painful than shame. When one already feels beaten down and demoralized, the likely response to the pain of shame is not constructive action, but more attempts to shut down or divert oneself from this pain. It is not likely that the truth of one's humiliating oppression is going to energize one to constructive actions.

Has such a demoralization happened in the U.S.?

In the United States, 47 million people are without health insurance, and many millions more are underinsured or a job layoff away from losing their coverage. But despite the current sellout by their elected officials to the insurance industry, there is no outpouring of millions of U.S. citizens on the streets of Washington, D.C., protesting this betrayal.

Polls show that the majority of Americans oppose U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the taxpayer bailout of the financial industry, yet only a handful of U.S. citizens have protested these circumstances.

Remember the 2000 U.S. presidential election? That's the one in which Al Gore received 500,000 more votes than George W. Bush. That's also the one that the Florida Supreme Court's order for a recount of the disputed Florida vote was overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in a politicized 5-4 decision, of which dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens remarked: "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." Yet, even this provoked few demonstrators.

When people become broken, they cannot act on truths of injustice. Furthermore, when people have become broken, more truths about how they have been victimized can lead to shame about how they have allowed it. And shame, like fear, is one more way we become even more psychologically broken.

U.S. citizens do not actively protest obvious injustices for the same reasons that people cannot leave their abusive spouses: They feel helpless to effect change. The more we don't act, the weaker we get. And ultimately to deal with the painful humiliation over inaction in the face of an oppressor, we move to shut-down mode and use escape strategies such as depression, substance abuse, and other diversions, which further keep us from acting. This is the vicious cycle of all abuse syndromes.

Do some totalitarians actually want us to hear how we have been screwed because they know that humiliating passivity in the face of obvious oppression will demoralize us even further?


Shortly before the 2000 U.S. presidential election, millions of Americans saw a clip of George W. Bush joking to a wealthy group of people, "What a crowd tonight: the haves and the haves-more. Some people call you the elite; I call you my base." Yet, even with these kind of inflammatory remarks, the tens of millions of U.S. citizens who had come to despise Bush and his arrogance remained passive in the face of the 2000 non-democratic presidential elections.

Perhaps the "political genius" of the Bush-Cheney regime was in their full realization that Americans were so broken that the regime could get away with damn near anything. And the more people did nothing about the boot slamming on their faces, the weaker people became.

What forces have created a demoralized, passive, dis-couraged U.S. population?

The U.S. government-corporate partnership has used its share of guns and terror to break Native Americans, labor union organizers, and other dissidents and activists. But today, most U.S. citizens are broken by financial fears. There is potential legal debt if we speak out against a powerful authority, and all kinds of other debt if we do not comply on the job. Young people are broken by college-loan debts and fear of having no health insurance.

The U.S. population is increasingly broken by the social isolation created by corporate-governmental policies. A 2006 American Sociological Review study ("Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades") reported that, in 2004, 25 percent of Americans did not have a single confidant. (In 1985, 10 percent of Americans reported not having a single confidant.) Sociologist Robert Putnam, in his 2000 book, Bowling Alone, describes how social connectedness is disappearing in virtually every aspect of U.S. life. For example, there has been a significant decrease in face-to-face contact with neighbors and friends due to suburbanization, commuting, electronic entertainment, time and money pressures and other variables created by governmental-corporate policies. And union activities and other formal or informal ways that people give each other the support necessary to resist oppression have also decreased.

We are also broken by a corporate-government partnership that has rendered most of us out of control when it comes to the basic necessities of life, including our food supply. And we, like many other people in the world, are broken by socializing institutions that alienate us from our basic humanity. A few examples:

Schools and Universities: Do most schools teach young people to be action-oriented -- or to be passive? Do most schools teach young people that they can affect their surroundings -- or not to bother? Do schools provide examples of democratic institutions -- or examples of authoritarian ones?

A long list of school critics from Henry David Thoreau to John Dewey, John Holt, Paul Goodman, Jonathan Kozol, Alfie Kohn, Ivan Illich, and John Taylor Gatto have pointed out that a school is nothing less than a miniature society: what young people experience in schools is the chief means of creating our future society. Schools are routinely places where kids -- through fear -- learn to comply to authorities for whom they often have no respect, and to regurgitate material they often find meaningless. These are great ways of breaking someone.

Today, U.S. colleges and universities have increasingly become places where young people are merely acquiring degree credentials -- badges of compliance for corporate employers -- in exchange for learning to accept bureaucratic domination and enslaving debt.

Mental Health Institutions: Aldous Huxley predicted today's pharmaceutical societyl "[I]t seems to me perfectly in the cards," he said, "that there will be within the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude."

Today, increasing numbers of people in the U.S. who do not comply with authority are being diagnosed with mental illnesses and medicated with psychiatric drugs that make them less pained about their boredom, resentments, and other negative emotions, thus rendering them more compliant and manageable.

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is an increasingly popular diagnosis for children and teenagers. The official symptoms of ODD include, "often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules," and "often argues with adults." An even more common reaction to oppressive authorities than the overt defiance of ODD is some type of passive defiance -- for example, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Studies show that virtually all children diagnosed with ADHD will pay attention to activities that they actually enjoy or that they have chosen. In other words, when ADHD-labeled kids are having a good time and in control, the "disease" goes away.

When human beings feel too terrified and broken to actively protest, they may stage a "passive-aggressive revolution" by simply getting depressed, staying drunk, and not doing anything -- this is one reason why the Soviet empire crumbled. However, the diseasing/medicalizing of rebellion and drug "treatments" have weakened the power of even this passive-aggressive revolution.

Television: In his book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (1978), Jerry Mander (after reviewing totalitarian critics such as George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Jacques Ellul, and Ivan Illich) compiled a list of the "Eight Ideal Conditions for the Flowering of Autocracy."

Mander claimed that television helps create all eight conditions for breaking a population. Television, he explained, (1) occupies people so that they don't know themselves -- and what a human being is; (2) separates people from one another; (3) creates sensory deprivation; (4) occupies the mind and fills the brain with prearranged experience and thought; (5) encourages drug use to dampen dissatisfaction (while TV itself produces a drug-like effect, this was compounded in 1997 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relaxing the rules of prescription-drug advertising); (6) centralizes knowledge and information; (7) eliminates or "museumize" other cultures to eliminate comparisons; and (8) redefines happiness and the meaning of life.

Commericalism of Damn Near Everything: While spirituality, music, and cinema can be revolutionary forces, the gross commercialization of all of these has deadened their capacity to energize rebellion. So now, damn near everything – not just organized religion -- has become "opiates of the masses."

The primary societal role of U.S. citizens is no longer that of "citizen" but that of "consumer." While citizens know that buying and selling within community strengthens that community and that this strengthens democracy, consumers care only about the best deal. While citizens understand that dependency on an impersonal creditor is a kind of slavery, consumers get excited with credit cards that offer a temporarily low APR.

Consumerism breaks people by devaluing human connectedness, socializing self-absorption, obliterating self-reliance, alienating people from normal human emotional reactions, and by selling the idea that purchased products -- not themselves and their community -- are their salvation.

Can anything be done to turn this around?

When people get caught up in humiliating abuse syndromes, more truths about their oppressive humiliations don't set them free. What sets them free is morale.

What gives people morale? Encouragement. Small victories. Models of courageous behaviors. And anything that helps them break out of the vicious cycle of pain, shut down, immobilization, shame over immobilization, more pain, and more shut down.

The last people I would turn to for help in remobilizing a demoralized population are mental health professionals -- at least those who have not rebelled against their professional socialization. Much of the craft of relighting the pilot light requires talents that mental health professionals simply are not selected for nor are they trained in. Specifically, the talents required are a fearlessness around image, spontaneity, and definitely anti-authoritarianism. But these are not the traits that medical schools or graduate schools select for or encourage.

Mental health professionals' focus on symptoms and feelings often create patients who take themselves and their moods far too seriously. In contrast, people talented in the craft of maintaining morale resist this kind of self-absorption. For example, in the question-and-answer session that followed a Noam Chomsky talk (reported in Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, 2002), a somewhat demoralized man in the audience asked Chomsky if he too ever went through a phase of hopelessness. Chomsky responded, "Yeah, every evening . . ."

If you want to feel hopeless, there are a lot of things you could feel hopeless about. If you want to sort of work out objectively what's the chance that the human species will survive for another century, probably not very high. But I mean, what's the point? . . . First of all, those predictions don't mean anything -- they're more just a reflection of your mood or your personality than anything else. And if you act on that assumption, then you're guaranteeing that'll happen. If you act on the assumption that things can change, well, maybe they will. Okay, the only rational choice, given those alternatives, is to forget pessimism."

A major component of the craft of maintaining morale is not taking the advertised reality too seriously. In the early 1960s, when the overwhelming majority in the U.S. supported military intervention in Vietnam, Chomsky was one of a minority of U.S. citizens actively opposing it. Looking back at this era, Chomsky reflected, "When I got involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement, it seemed to me impossible that we would ever have any effect. . . So looking back, I think my evaluation of the 'hope' was much too pessimistic: it was based on a complete misunderstanding. I was sort of believing what I read."

An elitist assumption is that people don't change because they are either ignorant of their problems or ignorant of solutions. Elitist "helpers" think they have done something useful by informing overweight people that they are obese and that they must reduce their caloric intake and increase exercise. An elitist who has never been broken by his or her circumstances does not know that people who have become demoralized do not need analyses and pontifications. Rather the immobilized need a shot of morale.
Bruce E. Levine is a clinical psychologist and his latest book is Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007). His Web site is www.brucelevine.net

from Michael Parenti :
Date: 21 December 2009
Subject: Brief comments on the health scam.

something to ponder seriously.

Brief excerpts from article by Prof. David Michael Green, Hofstra U.

“The Democrats and their hapless president are probably in worse shape if they actually pass this [health] legislation. Especially now that it's been stripped of nearly every real progressive reform imaginable, it has become an incredibly stupid bill, from the political perspective. It will force people who can't afford it to spend a giant amount of money on lousy insurance, without any real choice to hold down costs, and it will fund this by hacking away at the Medicare budget. No wonder an insurance industry lobbyist broadcast an email last week declaring: ‘We WIN.’  Administered by private insurance companies. No government funding. No government insurance competitor. . . .
    “What could be stupider than saddling thirty-five million Americans with a new monthly bill that will probably represent the second or third biggest item in their budget, in exchange for crappy private sector health insurance that is unlikely to pay out when needed, and wastes a third of the dollars paid in premiums on bureaucracy and profits anyhow? Slapping big fines on them if they don't pony up for the insurance, perhaps? Yep, that's in there too. . . .
     “This will be a total train wreck for the Democratic Party. Already, the public opposes the plan by a ratio of 47 to 32 percent. And they haven't even been handed the bill for it yet. And they haven't even had their premiums skyrocket yet. And they haven't even seen insurance corporation executives buy small countries for use as second homes with the increased compensation they will be floating in. And they haven't even found out what this does to their Medicare yet. And they haven't even seen the impact on the national debt yet. And they haven't even realized that the 'good' parts of the bill don't go into effect until FOUR YEARS from now. . .”

from Edward Herman :
Date: 23 December 2009
Subject: Just imagine if the Palestinian resistance movement were happening in Iran!

Here is a pretty damned good point on behalf of Sid Shniad [shniad@gmail.com].
ed h

Oh just imagine if the Palestinian resistance movement were happening in Iran! <http://feedproxy.google.com/%7Er/feedburner/WDBc/%7E3/KinSwsIHyd8/oh-just-imagine-if-the-palestinian-resistance-movement-were-happening-in-iran.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email>

Imagine if the Palestinian resistance movement were taking place in Iran!

Dashing Mohammad Othman now rotting in detention would be a global cause. The middle-of-the-night arrest of Abdallah Abu Rahmah would be on the Nightly News. The New York Times would tell the stories of international freedom riders, the Gaza Freedom March, and the role of Twitter in the resistance.

The video of Abu Rahme’s murder<http://www.bilin-village.org/english/articles/testimonies/Basem-Abu-Rahme-killed-in-Bilin-weekly-protest> during a peaceful protest of the unending landgrab would be viral. The all-night protests of the East Jerusalem evictions<http://josephdana.com/2009/12/david-shulman-reports-from-yesterdays-sheikh-jarrah-protest-march-in-jerusalem/> that are being carried out a racial basis­ ethnic cleansing!­ would fire the conscience of kings and counselors. Columnists would go on TV and decry the crushing of a popular resistance movement. College students would sing out the words, Sheikh Jarrah! and talk about 8000 political prisoners and a Foreign Minister whose foreign policy is directed at the Arabs inside his own country…

The Council on Foreign Relations would talk about the regime’s possession of nukes, and how that affects the outcome of the popular movement.

Politico would righteously expose the tax-deductible U.S. sponsors of the landgrab and ask, Where is the Israeli FW de Klerk???

Wake up now: it’s not happening in Iran. It’s happening in Israel and Palestine, the sovereign territory of the Israel lobby. So our politicians are silent, our media are ball-gagged and duct-taped, Jewish leadership talks about the Holocaust and the existential threat to the Jewish people, the most important political website is a bed of Israel supporters (from Josh Gerstein<http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30888.html> to Josh Kraushaar<http://allaboutjoshk.blogspot.com/>), and the left has its tail coiled tightly between its legs.

Here is brave Israeli Neve Gordon, who has called for BDS against Israel, telling the same story in<http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/23/israel-palestinian-peace-movement> the Guardian that Amira Hass told in Haaretz<http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1137056.html>: Israel is terrified of nonviolent resistance. So it needs to break it by military means.

It is often forgotten that even the second intifada, which turned out to be extremely violent, began as a popular nonviolent uprising. Haaretz journalist Akiva Eldar revealed several years later that the top Israeli security echelons had decided to "fan the flames<http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=437895>" during the uprising’s first weeks. He cites Amos Malka, the military general in charge of intelligence at the time, saying that during the second intifada’s first month, when it was still mostly characterised by nonviolent popular protests, the military fired 1.3m bullets in the West Bank and Gaza. The idea was to intensify the levels of violence, thinking that this would lead to a swift and decisive military victory and the successful suppression of the rebellion. And indeed the uprising and its suppression turned out to be extremely violent.

But over the past five years, Palestinians from scores of villages and towns such as Bil’in<http://www.bilin-village.org/english/> and Jayyous<http://www.jayyousonline.org/englishweb/englishindex.htm> have developed new forms of pro-peace resistance that have attracted the attention of the international community. Even Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad recently called on his constituents to adopt similar strategies. Israel, in turn, decided to find a way to end the protests once and for all and has begun a well-orchestrated campaign that targets the local leaders of such resistance.

One such leader is Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a high school teacher and the co-ordinator of Bil’in’s Popular Committee Against the Wall, is one of many Palestinians who was on the military’s wanted list. At 2am on 10 December (international Human Rights Day<http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/2009/>), nine military vehicles surrounded his home. Israeli soldiers broke the door down, and after allowing him to say goodbye to his wife Majida and three young children, blindfolded him and took him into custody<http://www.bilin-village.org/english/articles/testimonies/Bilin-leader-Abdallah-Abu-Rahmah-arrested-during-military-night-raid>. He is being charged with throwing stones, the possession of arms (namely gas canisters in the Bil’in museum) and inciting fellow Palestinians, which, translated, means organising demonstrations against the occupation.

from Jim O'Brien :
Date: 21 December 2009
Subject: [haw-info] links to recent articles of interest.

This is the eighth in our biweekly series of links to articles of interest on HAW-related topics. Suggestions for inclusion in these lists are welcome: they can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.
Members of the working group for this project are Matt Bokovoy, Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg, Jim O'Brien, Maia Ramnath, and Sarah Shields
New War Order: How Panama Set the Course for Post-Cold War Foreign Policy
By Ted Galen Carpenter, American Conservative, February 1, 2010 issue
In War, Winners Can Be Losers
By Lawrence S. Wittner, History News Network, posted December 21
Grinding Down the U.S. Army
By William Astore, TomDispatch.com, posted December 15
The author is a retired Air Force colonel who now teaches history at the Pennsylvania College of Technology
With Obama's Strategy, Afghanistan Looks Like Another Vietnam
By George McGovern, Washington Post, posted December 13
Beware Presidents Use of History
By John Prados, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, posted December 8
Afghanistan: Mirage of the Good War
By Tariq Ali, New Left Review, March-April 2008
This breaks our rules of only recent articles, but one of us ran across this article recently and found that it provides valuable background to today s events.


HAW Steering Committee statements related to the Afghanistan war

To members and friends of Historians Against the War :

The HAW Steering Committee has voted to adopt the following two statements related to the war in Afghanistan.
Statement on military resistance:
This statement was submitted by Staughton Lynd and approved by the HAW Steering Committee. Correspondence on it should be sent to another member of the Steering Committee, Carl Mirra, a former military resister and author of Soldiers and Citizens: An Oral History of Operation Iraqi Freedom from the Battlefield to the Pentagon. His e-mail address is carlmirra@aol.com.

Historians Against the War supports soldiers in the United States military who refuse to fight in Afghanistan, either as conscientious objectors or on the grounds that the United States is committing war crimes forbidden by Nuremburg and the Army Field Manual, such as the use of drone aircraft in Pakistan.
Statement on Escalation in Afghanistan
This statement originated in a draft suggested by Herbert Shapiro, emeritus history professor at the University of Cincinnati. It was amended somewhat in discussions within the Steering Committee and adopted.

Historians Against War (HAW) expresses its opposition to the escalation of the Afghanistan War announced by President Obama in his December 1 speech at West Point. One again we are told the United States must increase its commitment of human and material resources in support of a government, steeped in corruption, that fails to demonstrate support of a majority of its country s population.

In his speech, President Obama took issue with any claim that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. The two conflicts are not carbon copies of each other but there are distinct similarities. And if we go on with the Afghan War it may be that we have not fully learned the lessons of Vietnam.

The Vietnamese would not yield to a counter-insurgency that believed sending increasing numbers of troops, dropping more and more napalm upon them, and flying more bombing runs was a formula for victory. They would not yield to a strategy that could not distinguish between soldiers and civilians and pretended that a discredited Saigon regime had the support of the people over whom it ruled.

In Afghanistan we once more follow the path of escalation, inflicting collateral damage on a civilian population and propping up a corrupt government. In the present war we once more adopt a guns not butter policy, making war while undermining our ability to devote the resources needed to make the economic reforms so urgently needed at home.

Afghanistan s own recent history provides further reason for opposing the Obama administration s current course of action. The Soviet experience of the late 1970s and early 1980s dramatically reinforced Afghanistan s role as the graveyard of empires. At the same time, U.S. intervention in the form of aid to the most reactionary anti-Soviet forces helped lay the groundwork for the emergence of al-Qaeda.

HAW urges a change in direction. We need an Afghanistan policy that includes a full, early, and orderly withdrawal of U.S. military forces, economic assistance to Afghani civil society, and a relinquishment of any project for permanent U.S. bases.

from Truth Out :
Date: 27 December 2009
Subject: The fruits of the U.S. labor movement and the long dry season.

Despite the importance of unions in our lives, our schools pay only slight attention to that importance - or even to their existence. Little is done in the classroom to overcome the negative view of organized labor held by many Americans; little is done to explain the true nature of organized labor.

A Lesson Too Long Unlearned
by Dick Meister

from Ahmed El Aidi :
Date: 27 December 2009
Subject: Racist Anti-Arab Films in Hollywood today.

Hello Mister Feeley,
Hope you're doing fine. Here is an interesting article you probably know... ;
All the best,

Reel Bad Arabs:How Hollywood Vilifies a People
by Omar Attum