Has America Reached The Tipping Point?


[The Fascist Majority on the Supreme Court is responsible now for much of the destruction of our democracy. They installed a defeated Presidential candidate as President who left us unprotected despite being warned repeatedly before 911, and who then put us into disastrous wars. They have now left us to the mercy of the very wealthy and to unrestrained corporate power. Things have got to change, and it is up to us to change it. ~DS]

See also: Senator Bernie Sanders on Income Inequality (Video) “Greed is an issue we have got to deal with.”

From Wake Up and Stand Up

Years from now, we will think of February 2011 as the tipping point in America’s great awakening. After all the warnings and wake-up calls, this be will remembered as the time when the American people decided to come together, confront the plutocracy that plagues our republic, and do something to change the economic inequality / instability that has grown from it. There is a tide. If you don’t yet feel it, here are Ten Wake Up Calls that we predict will help define February 2011 in America.  The more people who get involved, the more meaningful it will be.  So, please share this page with others who may still need a reason to wake up and stand up.

1.  Egypt. It had to have an impact: so many Americans glued to their televisions, watching as people take to the streets, ready to die for freedom, destined to topple an oppressive regime that had dominated them for decades.  How?  By peacefully demanding self-governance.  Their triumph made us believe we could, and should, demand the same.

2.  Bob Herbert’s Challenge To America. While some Americans looked at Egypt and thought, “They’re trying to get what we already have,” Bob Herbert’s Feb. 12 column challenged us to look in the mirror.  He wrote, “Senator John Kerry said that the Egyptian people ‘have made clear they will settle for nothing less than greater democracy and more economic opportunities.’ Americans are being asked to swallow exactly the opposite. In the mad rush

All You Fascists Bound To Lose


~

[We Progressives have been way too shy about calling what this US uproar is really all about: Fascism. When the wealthiest corporatists have bought off and merged with government it’s called Fascism. The Fascists have been showing us their real true face, and we cannot deal with them appropriately, intelligently and non- violently until we call them what they really truly are. They are not Conservatives. They are not Republicans. They are not Tea Baggers. They are democracy-hating, anti-union, nature-killing, sociopathic, money-crazed, genetically-modified, tax-dodging, war-mongering  Fascists. Damn it! Call them out for what they are! -DS]

The Doctrine of Fascism

The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people…

Fascism is therefore opposed to Socialism to which unity within the State (which amalgamates classes into a single economic and ethical reality) is unknown, and which sees in history nothing but the class struggle. Fascism is likewise opposed to trade unionism as a class weapon. But when brought within the orbit of the State, Fascism recognises the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade-unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which divergent interests are coordinated and harmonised in the unity of the State.

After Socialism, Fascism attacks the whole complex of democratic ideologies and rejects them both in their theoretical premises and in their applications or practical manifestations. Fascism denies that the majority, through the mere fact of being a majority, can rule human societies; it denies that this majority can govern by means of a periodical consultation; it affirms the irremediable, fruitful and beneficent inequality of men, who cannot be levelled by such a mechanical and extrinsic fact as universal suffrage.

The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions,

We don’t need no !@&%#$! budget cuts – We just need our richest tax dodgers to pay their fair share


From DAVIDSON LOEHR
Chelsea Green Publishing

In this winter of worldwide discontent, a powerful moral and political spirit has arisen in the Middle East. There are already uprisings of ordinary people all over the world: nobodies dumping Somebodies off their thrones, as the world watches.  It’s happening so fast our heads are spinning.  But it’s clear that we will turn that moral spirit loose here at home: the next Egypt – or England — will be the United States.

It is maddening and insulting to hear our president and our lawmakers simply accept the idea that we must cut social services, education, Medicaid and Medicare, Social Security and other parts of our social safety nets – while the General Accounting Office has estimated that 83 of our top 100 corporations pay no taxes.  There’s no good reason we should accept that, because it isn’t fair.  It goes against the wishes of a large majority of our citizens.  Many of our laws were bought by corporations whose lobbyists seduced many of our elected officials into selling out their country for private gain.  If our government can’t or won’t see how unfair and morally reprehensible it is to use taxpayer money to bail out those who don’t even pay taxes, then it is up to us.  And the ongoing protests in Arab countries show that we can do it.

There Is No Terrorism and We Are Not at War

As a Google search for “Americans killed by terrorists” shows, terrorism is a red herring:  a bogus threat.  We’re much more likely to be killed by lightning, peanuts, handguns and a dozen more everyday dangers than by terrorists.  We’re being misled by propaganda used to take trillions of dollars of our tax money to deter a terrorist threat that isn’t there.  “Terrorism” is used to frighten us, and as a blank check to cover any military expenditures or assaults on our civil liberties that our leaders choose.

Our tax dollars go to swell the coffers of the military-industrial complex, which alienates all Arab countries and much of the rest of the world.  This is losing us both respect and allies.  It also gives our elected leaders this red herring to keep us stirred up by the untrue claim that terrorists are everywhere and the sky is falling. 

Don Sanderson: Freedom


From DON SANDERSON
Hopland

Since modern society ascribes no “reality” to inner experience, transcendent values have no power and materialist values prevail. Thus it seems reasonable for society to be characterized by economic rationalization of an ever-increasing fraction of social behavior and organization. Industrialization of the production of goods and services gradually extends to more and more of human activities; increasingly they become included in the economy. One result is monetization and commercialization (all things coming to be measurable by and purchasable in units of currency). The economic rationalization of knowledge leads to the “knowledge industry”; to science justified by the technologies it produces, and to education justified by the jobs it prepares for. Economic rationality become predominant in social political decision-making, even when the decisions it leads to are unwise by other standards (such as the wellbeing of future generations). Technological solutions are attempted for problems that are basically socio-political in nature. The worth of persons (to say nothing on non-human fellow creatures on Earth) is assessed by their value in the economy. Humankind’s relationship to the Earth is essentially an exploitive one. – Willis Harmon, “Global Mind Change: The Promise of the 21st Century”

We have watched and cheered as Egyptian youths threw out their repressive government and celebrated the possibility of freedom. They had found themselves without jobs, with failing schools, with rotten medical care, and without opportunities for a better future while a wealthy few milked the economy and government. Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Iraq, Iran? It is fascinating that those supposedly backward Moslems are leading the way. Where next? England? Greece? Spain? Israel? the US? Or, will they all fizzle and only another reappearance of the same gang take charge in each case simply because of economic, monetary realities that dominate a predominantly urban life? If we survey history, we find meager successful examples.

When FDR Came to Wisconsin to Fight the Kochs and Walkers of 1934


From NEW DEAL 2.0

FDR didn’t just stand up for workers, but he took a stand against the fat cats working against them.

This past Tuesday evening, nearly 1,000 unionists and their supporters gathered here in Green Bay, Wisconsin to register their appreciation for Senator Dave Hansen, one of the 14 Democrats who have absented themselves from the state to deter passage of Governor Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill. The bill threatens to not only severely cut workers’ incomes but also effectively eliminate their collective bargaining rights.

We also came together to consider what we were going to do next about that threat. Everyone — from teachers and social workers to firefighters and snowplow drivers — said they were ready to fight on against a governor who has insisted he will not negotiate. Most, though it pained them, said they were willing to sacrifice income to address the state’s budget woes. And yet nobody was willing to give up their rights. Not only in “radical” Madison, but even here in supposedly conservative Green Bay, it seemed that Americans were ready to start making democratic history again — not on the gridiron this time but in the struggle to win, and hold onto, the rights of democratic citizens and workers.

Listening to the speakers, I felt their enthusiasms and anxieties. But I also had questions and concerns. It angered me that union leaders were giving way on the dollar question when we all know that tax cuts and giveaways for corporations and the rich will continue. I wondered why nobody on the platform referred to the fact that the “class war from above” against labor and working people had been going on for more than thirty years now. It disappointed me that we were not discussing how we might address the hostility — and plight — of those private sector workers who believe public sector employees have it easy. And it bothered me that we were not talking about a movement to “take back America” from the likes of the billionaire Koch brothers and the Tea Party. But I stayed quiet — recalling all too well how the efforts of some of us to organize Scholars, Artists, and Writers for Social Justice in support of the late 1990s revival of the labor movement had self-destructed in intellectual and political wrangling.

At the same time, I not only appreciated that my fellow citizens and unionists felt no less determined to defend themselves, their families,

Todd Walton: Your Inner Bushman


From TODD WALTON
Mendocino

“The five groups of San or Bushmen are called the First People. Most call themselves Bushmen when referring to themselves collectively.” Elizabeth Marshall Thomas from her book The Old Way

I wanted to open this article with that quote from Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, a great friend of the Kalahari Bushmen, so I would not be accused of using a derogatory term when speaking of the people from whom all humans on earth are descended. One of my favorite scientific discoveries of the last few decades is that every human being currently alive on the planet can trace his or her lineage directly to the same Bushman woman who lived in Southwest Africa 172,000 years ago.

The gathering of pertinent genetic data from around the world, as well as the complicated figuring that went into determining the identity of our great Mother, has now been duplicated by multiple scientific teams, and there is today universal agreement among physical anthropologists and geneticists (though not among members of Congress) that Eve, as the European-centric researchers have named her, was, indeed, a Bushman. The name I prefer for our Very First Lady is N!ai, the exclamation point indicating a loud click made by pressing the tongue against the top of the mouth and popping it down simultaneously with the sound ai (I).

Among the many groovy things about tracing our collective beginning back to N!ai is that until the 1950’s there were still extant bands of Bushmen in and around the Kalahari Desert living very much as they had for tens of thousands of years, and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and her parents and brother were among the first and last non-Bushmen to gently interface with these people and to record in great detail, in writing and film and sound recordings, how our Neolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors lived. Thus we know, in a tangible way, from whence we came.

“Interestingly, no anthropologist wanted to join us, although my father tried hard to find one and would have paid for his or her salary and all expenses. However, unlike the modern Kalahari, where the anthropologist/Bushman ratio

Ukiah’s Historic Post Office Faces Closure


From The PD

Ukiah’s historic downtown post office is targeted for closure, the U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday. Postal officials plan to move retail mail services from downtown to the postal annex on the outskirts of town, confirming what Ukiah officials and residents have feared for months. “This is official,” said Ukiah Mayor Mari Rodin, who was informed about the plan during a meeting with Postal Service officials Wednesday. She vowed to fight the move. “I’m really committed to doing whatever I have to do to try to keep it here,” Rodin said.

The 1930s era post office, with its 1940s federal works project mural, is an integral part of the downtown’s history and crucial to creating a vital, walkable downtown, she said. However, postal officials said the building would require $780,000 in repairs, including a new roof, heating and electrical systems and fire alarms, to remain open. A public hearing on the proposed closure is the next step, and will be held within 60 days, said Postal Service spokesman James Wigdel. “The sooner the better,” he said.

A community group formed to preserve the downtown post office plans to rally citizens to attend meetings and sign petitions to underscore its importance. “If you believe the post office should remain where it is, come to the public meeting and explain why,” said Ukiah attorney Barry Vogel, a member of the group.

Postal officials are hoping to have a final determination on the post office’s fate within three months, Wigdel said. If approved, modifications will be made to the annex to incorporate the retail services now offered downtown. The cost of the improvements and the move are expected to cost $360,000. The Postal Service is consolidating services nationwide to reduce its budgetary bleeding, estimated at $8.5 billion annually, Wigdel said.

Healdsburg officials and residents won a 2008 campaign against the planned closure of the city’s downtown post office just off the Healdsburg Plaza. But the post office was gutted by fire in August, effectively changing plans to keep the office open. The Postal Service has since refurbished its Healdsburg annex building and moved all postal business to that location… Full article here
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Will Parrish: Goldeneye — Anderson Valley’s Mercenary Vineyard?


From WILL PARRISH
Laytonville

If you want to mark a point-of-no-return in the Anderson Valley’s transformation into a full-on satellite of the Napa-Sonoma industrial viticulture complex, as good a choice as any is Duckhorn Vineyards’ takeover of three properties outside of Philo and Boonville in the late-’90s. Founded by a Napa investment banker named David Duckhorn in the 1970s, Duckhorn had by then established itself as one of St. Helena’s most successful vintibusinesses. Wine Spectator put it thusly: “Duckhorn Vineyards’ arrival in Mendocino County… caps the emergence of the Anderson Valley as a prime, Pinot noir appellation.”

In one of the wine industry’s characteristic superficial nods to local cultural artifacts and the natural environment, Duckhorn named its local wine label Goldeneye, after the black and white seaduck whose northward migratory pathway includes the Anderson Valley.

Duckhorn/Goldeneye quickly demonstrated, though, that its expressed interest in cultural heritage extends little beyond its brand name.

In 2000, long-time local resident and Anderson Valley Advertiser contributor David Severn rented an airplane and flew over the expanse of the Valley, snapping pictures and filming video of the landscape located in the portion of hills that are tucked away from view along the valley’s two main highways. The video that Severn packaged together, as Mark Scaramella wrote at the time, revealed “the frighteningly sudden extent of vineyard development and irrigation ponds all over Anderson Valley.”

Severn’s overflight noted Duckhorn/ Goldeneye’s recontouring of the earth on a property just south of Philo, near the confluence of Rancheria, Anderson, and Indian Creeks – where the Navarro River forms. As per the wine industry’s usual custom, Goldeneye was developing a series of large water storage ponds, all of them slightly smaller than 50 acre-feet, which is the cut-off for requiring a permit. After investigating the development further, Severn obtained a copy of an archeological report directly from the vineyard’s manager, Bruce Regalia.

If anyone was going to screw-up Oatmeal, it would have to be Mickey D


From MARK BITTMAN
NYT Opinionator
Thanks to Ron Epstein

There’s a feeling of inevitability in writing about McDonald’s latest offering, their “bowl full of wholesome” — also known as oatmeal. The leading fast-food multinational, with sales over $16.5 billion a year (just under the GDP of Afghanistan), represents a great deal of what is wrong with American food today. From a marketing perspective, they can do almost nothing wrong; from a nutritional perspective, they can do almost nothing right, as the oatmeal fiasco demonstrates.

One “positive” often raised about McDonald’s is that it sells calories cheap. But since many of these calories are in forms detrimental rather than beneficial to our health and to the environment, they’re actually quite expensive — the costs aren’t seen at the cash register but in the form of high health care bills and environmental degradation.

Oatmeal is on the other end of the food spectrum. Real oatmeal contains no ingredients; rather, it is an ingredient. As such, it’s a promising lifesaver: oats are easy to grow in almost any non-extreme climate and, minimally processed, they’re profoundly nourishing, inexpensive and ridiculously easy to cook. They can even be eaten raw, but more on that in a moment.

Like so many other venerable foods, oatmeal has been roundly abused by food marketers for more than 40 years. Take, for example, Quaker Strawberries and Cream Instant Oatmeal, which contains no strawberries, no cream, 12 times the sugars of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and only half of the fiber. At least it’s inexpensive, less than 50 cents a packet on average. (A serving of cooked rolled oats will set you back half that at most, plus the cost of condiments; of course, it’ll be much better in every respect.)

The oatmeal and McDonald’s story broke late last year, when Mickey D’s, in its ongoing effort to tell us that it’s offering “a selection of balanced choices” (and to keep in step with arch-rival Starbucks) began to sell the cereal. Yet in typical McDonald’s fashion, the company is doing everything it can to turn oatmeal into yet another bad choice. (Not only that, they’ve made it more expensive than a double-cheeseburger: $2.38 per serving in New York.) “Cream” (which contains seven ingredients, two of them actual dairy) is automatically added; brown sugar is ostensibly optional, but it’s also added