|Progressive Calendar 11.20.05||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2005 11:16:22 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 11.20.05 1. AntiWarMN 11.20 1pm 2. MUI 11.20 7pm 3. Transgender day 11.20 5pm 4. Thayer/radio 11.21 7:15am 5. Palestine/film 11.21 6:30pm 6. Iran/women 11.22 12noon 7. Arab lands/film 11.22 6pm 8. Mpls schools 11.22 6pm 9. SD43 election 11.22 10. Your thanks 11.23 8am 11. Eve Ensler - Open letter 12. CDC Alert - Gonorrhea Lectim 13. Mokhiber/Weissman - Economic apartheid in America 14. Louis Proyect - Do workers understand their class interests? 15. ed - Jesus & George (poem) --------1 of 15-------- Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2005 21:36:10 +0000 From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] hotmail.com> Subject: AntiWarMN 11.20 1pm The Anti-War Committee would love your help this SUNDAY 11/20 @ 1:00pm @ the UTEC building, room 332. The UTEC building is located in Dinkytown, 1313 5th St. SE. Room 332 is right off the elevator on the 3rd floor. We will be mailing our annual fundraising appeal and need lots of help to make it happen. If you can come even for a little while we greatly appreciate it. There will be folding, stuffing, chatting and SNACKS! This will be a great opportunity to catch up with your fellow anti-war activists. Help out your local AWC and join in the fun! We hope to see you there and really appreciate your support. --------2 of 15-------- Date: Sat, 19 Nov 2005 19:45:26 -0500 From: mn_united_ireland [at] lycos.com Subject: MUI 11.20 7pm Minnesotans for a United Ireland 612-871-7110 We will meet Sunday November 20, at 7pm Arise Booksore 2441 Lyndale Ave S Mpls Agenda : 1 Holiday cards to Irish prisoners 2 New Study Group-"Blanketman" O'Rawe paperback caused a big stir about the Hunger Strikes in 1981 3 Paddy'Day ceili and march --------3 of 15-------- Date: Sat, 19 Nov 2005 10:22:08 -0800 (PST) From: David Strand <mncivil [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Transgender day 11.20 5pm Sunday, November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance from http://www.gender.org/remember/day/index.html The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder in 1998 kicked off the "Remembering Our Dead" web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Since then, the event has grown to encompass memorials in dozens of cities across the world. SERVICE An annual memorial program is held here in the Twin Cities to honor those who have been killed in the past 12 months. It will be on Sunday, Nov 20 at 7:30pm (until about 9pm) Spirit of the Lakes Church, 2930 13th Avenue S in Minneapolis Contact: (612) 670-1978 or barbsatin [at] aol.com POTLUCK The Twin Cities TGGQ (transgender / genderqueer) Coalition will host a potluck gathering at Spirit of the Lakes for the trans & allied community prior to the Day of Remembrance Ceremony called "Sharing Our Stories / Celebrating Our Lives" -- where we all can get together, share food, share stories, and talk about our lives. It will be a chance to get to know each other a little more and a chance to talk and feel stronger, together. Trans and Allied Community Potluck 5-7pm Sunday, November 20th Spirit of the Lakes, 2930 - 13th Ave S (at E Lake St), Minneapolis, MN It's OK to just show up and not bring food/drink. Bring something (non-alcoholic beverage, dessert, salad, entree, side dish, chips, etc.) if you are able to. There will be a core of us who will bring a hot or substantial entree dish, so there will definitely be enough food for all. If you can, bring along a list of ingredients in the dish for those with food allergies, and consider bringing something vegetarian or vegan. We hope to have a variety of dishes with meat, vegetarian, and vegan, and will do our best to have everything labelled well. When the evening service ends around 9 p.m., everyone is welcome to stay for desserts and coffee/tea (and leftovers from dinner!). SCENT-FREE SPACE: Please refrain from wearing scented products such as perfume and cologne so that everyone can attend safely, including people with chemical sensitivities. Spirit of the Lakes is wheelchair accessible, and there is a large parking lot next to the church (at the corner of 13th and Lake). Hope to see you there! If you have questions about the potluck, please feel free to email me. -Max Gries member of the TGGQ Coalition <mgries [at] visi.com> --------4 of 15-------- From: audreythayer <athayer [at] paulbunyan.net> Subject: Audrey Thayer/radio 11.21 7:15am On Monday, November 21st at 7:15 am in the morning your very own Audrey Thayer, Coordinator of the Greater Minnesota Racial Justice with co-worker Gina Walters will be on KAXE Radio (Grand Rapids, MN) with Scott Hall discussing the recent homicides in the area and Duluth, discussing the Greater Mn Racial Justice Project and our court monitoring project. Tune in and listen on KAXE. KAXE Radio can be auto streamed on internet if you should have access to internet. --------5 of 15-------- From: wamm <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Palestine/film 11.21 6:30pm WAMM FREE Third Monday Movie: "Occupied Minds" Two Journalists: a Palestinian and an Israeli Journey Together. Discussion follows film. Monday November 21, 6:30pm, St. Joan of Arc Church, Upper Room, 4537 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis. Parking is close, free and easy. The personal odyssey of two journalists - Jamal Dajani, a Palestinian American, and David Michaelis, an Israeli citizen, who travel to Jerusalem, where they were both born, "to face the hard realities of our shared land." Their journey is a road trip across a grim and divided landscape, but it is leavened by gallows humor and a heartfelt desire to find solutions. Together, they travel the West Bank to visit a Palestinian activist in Ramallah, a Jewish settler in Hebron, and a Jenin resistance fighter in Zakaria al-Zubeida. They also interview an Israeli doctor who was injured in a suicide bombing and visit the separation wall and film the humiliation and frustration of Palestinians at the numerous checkpoints a farmer who lost part of his land-and his livelihood-when the wall was built through his property, and an Israeli soldier who discusses the Break the Silence movement. This must-see film is, in the words of the Palestinian, Dajani, "a narrative not heard in the mass media," and, added Michaelis, the Israeli, "the story you haven't heard before." --------6 of 15-------- From: humanrts [at] umn.edu Subject: Iran/women 11.22 12noon November 22 - Diane Savage: Personal Observations of an American Woman in Iran and Syria. 12noon-1pm. In September 2005, Diane Savage traveled to Iran and Syria as part of a delegation of U.S. Academics for Peace led by Dr. Jim Jennings, head of Conscience International and retired professor of archeology. In Iran the group met with academics from the University of Tehran and with former President Khatami. In Syria they met with President Bashar Al Assad and the first lady, and with academics from the University of Damascus. Their mission was to promote dialogue and diplomacy as an alternative to isolation, confrontation and ultimately war. This presentation will include Diane s sometimes surprising observations on women s human rights in Iran. Speaker biography: Since 1976 Diane Savage has been an assistant Anoka County attorney in the criminal division of the Anoka County Attorney's Office. She has a JD degree from William Mitchell College of Law, an MA in French from the University of Iowa, and a BA from Oberlin College in Ohio. In January 2003 she went to Iraq as part of the same delegation of Academics for Peace at the invitation of faculty from the University of Baghdad. This presentation is a brown bag lunch. Beverages will be provided. Please RSVP by November 18th to Mary Hunt at mhunt [at] mnadvocates.org, or 612- 341-3302, ext. 107. Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, 650 3rd Ave. S., Suite 550, Minneapolis --------7 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Arab lands/films 11.22 6pm Tuesday, 11/22, 6 pm, double feature films "Mahmoud Darwich: As the Land is the Language" and "Naji al-Ali: An Artist With a Vision" at series "Perspectives on the Arab World," Macalester College, Carnegie Hall 06, 1600 Grand, St. Paul (WAMM) --------8 of 15-------- From: Josh Collins <Josh.Collins [at] mpls.k12.mn.us> Subject: Mpls schools 11.22 6pm Superintendent Peebles will hold a town hall meeting at North High School on Tuesday, Nov 22, from 6-7:30pm. This is the first town hall meeting of the 2005-2006 school year, designed to inform and engage families in discussion about issues that affect the district. Childcare services will be available. Wireless translation services will be available in Spanish, Somali and Hmong. Those requiring translation are encouraged to arrive early. North High School Auditorium 1500 James Ave. N. 612-668-1700 Josh Collins Director of Media Relations Minneapolis Public Schools 807 N.E. Broadway Street, Room 100 Minneapolis, MN 55413 Phone: 612-668-0228 | Mobile: 612-490-8410 Fax: 612-668-0235 | E-mail: Josh.Collins [at] mpls.k12.mn.us --------9 of 15-------- From: David Strand <mncivil [at] yahoo.com> Subject: SD43 lelection 11.22 As things stand today, a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage or its "legal equivalent"(whatever that means?) would pass both houses of the Minnesota state legislature if put to a vote as enough DFL'ers in the Senate support the amendment and only one Republican Senator has opposed it. The difference is very narrow and appears to come down to as little as one vote in the Senate. The DFL leadership in the senate was successful in keeping the amendment from reaching the floor last session but the bill is expected to make it to the floor in both chambers this next session,... unless something changes. That makes the special elections this fall and early next year vitally important to our community. I spoke on the phone today with both Republican endorsed Judy Johnson and DFL endorsed Terri Bonoff who are the only two candidates running in Senate District 43. Judy was very straightforward and said that she supports the amendment as she believes marriage is between a man and a woman. She did say that she believes interesting questions are being raised about the "legal equivalent" language and how ambigous it is. She said she has been honest with gay volunteers on her campaign about her position on this issue but if it was my primary issue of concern, I would be better off supporting her opponent. So I called Terri Bonhoff, as Judy reccomended, and she confirmed she opposes the amendment without any of Judy's equivocation on the issue. I urge those of you concerned about the possibility of the antigay marriage amendment passing our state legislator and being on the ballot next fall to support with contributions and volunteer time the only candidate in this campaign who unequivocally opposes this amendment-- Terri Bonoff. There are no Green or Independence Party candidates who filed for this race. It is much easier to elect a candidate or two who opposes the amendment in special elections this fall than to successfully defeat such an amendment in a statewide election next fall. To volunteer or donate to Terri's campaign, please go to her website at... http://www.terribonoff.org/ To contact Judy Johnson to ask her position on this issue on your own you can go to her website http://www.voteforjudy.com/ David Strand Marriage Equality MN --------10 of 15-------- From: humanrts [at] umn.edu Subject: Your thanks 11.23 8am November 23 - Reflections on Living Thankfully. 8-10am. Reflections on living thankfully bring your own writings, music, thoughts to share. People of Faith Peacemakers at St. Martin s Table. Location: St. Martin s Table on Riverside near U of M West Bank --------11 of 15-------- Eve Ensler Open Letter to the Apathetic, the Brain-Washed, the Prescription Drug-Dazed and Brain-Dead, the American Patriots and PseudoPatriots July 1, 2005 Dear America, I am longing to reach you-crossing this river of indifference and consumption and denial. I am trying to find you, reaching out through the desperate limitations of words and descriptions, swimming through the rhetoric of terror and God. I need you to wake up. The house is on fire and you are still sleeping, lulled by the intoxication of smoke and mirrors. I need you to wake up and I know that shaking you, scaring you will only make you cling to your sleep and sleep more. How then do I tell you what's going on? How do I tell you about the one hundred thousand dead Iraqi people that you and I are responsible for murdering.(1) Each one of them valued their life, longed for their morning, cherished their first cup of milk or coffee or tea. In what way shall I deliver what I learned? The substance identical to illegal napalm that melted tender five year old skin; the cluster bombs that have left their murderous and disguised offspring, throngs of bomblets set to explode, scattered on the Iraqi earth; the depleted uranium from the Bunker Busters we dropped that now lives in lungs and livers and soil. (2) How do I tell you about the strategic planning of such atrocities in the boardrooms, the backrooms, the back seats of limos, the organized take over and looting of Iraq right out from under the terrorized, hungry, thirsty Iraqi people. (3) How do I get you to listen to the stories of our soldiers who are trying to kill themselves now, longing to escape the madness of murdering and maiming for no reason. (4) Please don't go back to sleep. I know how hard it is to hear of the massive black holes, called prisons we have dug to hold thousands without charging them, without trials or the torture, the meanness, the cruelty we are inflicting upon them. (5) America, those who now control our country have changed and ended law. I do not believe you are so calloused or selfish that you do not care. Your sleep is induced. You are distracted and derailed. The corporations have concocted and perfected these sleeping potions for years, developing ingredients to make you despise every bit of yourself, to feel ugly and fat and stupid and poor and not enough. And so you spend your time and every bit of the money you do not have buying products that will make you better, skinnier, lighter, whiter, tighter. And as you consume and consume, the corporations consume you. They take your money and your time and your voice and your instincts and your outrage and your sorrow and your anger and your grief. They consume your courage and leave fear in its place. They devour your conscience and your memory and your compassion. And how do I speak when they are sure to tie my tongue? When they will say I do not love my country or support the troops or honor the dead or believe in their God? How do I break through your sealed wrapping, your self-obsession, your TVheadphonedDVDcell pod? America I am getting desperate and I know this will not get me published or heard. Those who control the information will say I'm extreme, that I've gone mad. But I have heard the cries of children in the exploding houses of Fallujah.(6) I have seen the agonized faces of the sleepless Iraqi women who still clutch the outline of their charred dead babies in their arms. I have watched as we as a nation grow more isolated, despised and alone. America, there is not much time left. The fire is spreading, consuming the world. We are the arsonsists. We will need each other to find our way out through the lies and haze. It will take our greatest imagination, courage and skill to subdue these flames. Eve Ensler This letter was written immediately after The World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul - where I served with thirteen others from around the world on a jury chaired by Arundhati Roy. The Tribunal consisted of three days of hearings investigating various issues related to the war on Iraq, such as the legality of the war, the role of the United Nations, war crimes and the role of the media, as well as the destruction of the cultural sites and the environment. The session in Istanbul was the culminating session of commissions of inquiry and hearings held around the world over the past two years. Footnotes: 1. Iraq death toll soared 'post war'- 100,000 Iraqis dead (Lancet survey) 2. US admits to use of napalm - http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2003/030810-napalm-iraq01.htm Irregular Weapons Used Against Iraq - http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/attack/consequences/20 03/0407 irregular.htm WHO studies depleted uranium in Iraq - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1506151.stm 3. Rumsfeld, Amnesty trade barbs over prisoner abuse - http://www.worldtribunal.org/main/?b=64 4. Army probes soldier suicides - http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2003-10-13-army-suicides-usat_x.htm Military Families Against the war- http://www.mfso.org 5. Rumsfeld, Amnesty trade barbs over prisoner abuse - http://www.worldtribunal.org/main/?b=64 Systematic Use of Psychological Torture by US Forces- http://www.worldtribunal.org/main/?b=68 6. This Is Our Guernica- http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1471011,00.html --------12 of 15-------- CDC Alert The Centers for Disease Control have issued a warning about a new virulent strain of STD. This disease is contracted through dangerous and high-risk behavior. The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim (pronounced "gonna re-elect him.") Many victims contracted it in 2004, after having been screwed for the past 4 years, in spite of having taken measures to protect themselves from this especially troublesome disease. Cognitive sequelae of individuals infected with Gonorrhea Lectim include, but are not limited to: Anti-social personality disorder traits; delusions of grandeur with a distinct messianic flavor; chronic mangling of the English language; extreme cognitive dissonance; inability to incorporate new information; pronounced xenophobia; inability to accept responsibility for actions; exceptional cowardice masked by acts of misplaced bravado; uncontrolled facial smirking; ignorance of geography and history; tendencies toward creating evangelical theocracies; and a strong propensity for categorical, all-or-nothing behavior. The disease is sweeping Washington. Naturalists and epidemiologists are amazed and baffled that this malignant disease originated only a few years ago from a Texas Bush. --------13 of 15-------- ECONOMIC APARTHEID IN AMERICA By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman Focus on the Corporation - Nov 18, 2004 http://lists.essential.org/pipermail/corp-focus/2005/000221.html Top executives now make more in a day than the average worker makes in a year. You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy. But you cannot have both. -- Louis Brandeis How wealthy the wealthy are does matter. If we allow great wealth to accumulate in the pockets of a few, then great wealth can set our political agenda and shape our political culture - and the agenda and the culture that emerge will not welcome efforts to make American work for all Americans. -- Sam Pizzigati Plutocracy: 1. The rule or power of wealth or the wealthy; 2. A government or state in which the wealthy class rules. 3. A class for group ruling, or exercising power or influence, by virtue of its wealth. -- Webster's Unabridged Dictionary Of the world's 100 largest economies, 47 are nations, and 53 are corporations. Seventy-five percent of major corporations hire a consultant to stop employees from forming a union. The alarming development and aggressiveness of great capitalists and corporations, unless checked, will inevitably lead to the pauperization and hopeless degradation of the toiling masses. It is imperative, if we desire to enjoy the full blessings of life, that a check be placed upon unjust accumulations and the power for evil of aggravated wealth. -- Constitution of the Knights of Labor, 1869. The Washington monument is 555 feet tall. Say it signifies the 2003 average compensation for CEOs in the Fortune 500. The average worker salary would be only 16 inches tall, representing a ratio of 419 to one. In 1965, the worker's monument was 13 feet six inches tall, representing a ratio of 41 to 1. Inherited economic power is as inconsistent with the ideals of this generation as inherited political power was inconsistent with the ideals of the generation which established our government. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt. Born on home plate -- Forty-two percent of those listed inherited sufficient wealth to rank among the Forbes 400. Examples: J. Paul Getty Jr. inherited the oil fortune from his father. David Rockefeller Sr. ($2.5 billion) is the grandson of the Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller. S.I. and Donald Newhouse ($7 billion each) inherited the nation's largest private newspaper chain, plus Conde Nast publications, from their father in 1979. Samuel Curtis Johnson ($1.5 billion) is the great grandson of the flooring salesman who founded the floor wax giant S.C. Johnson and Sons. The United Nations Development Program reported in 1999 that the world's 225 richest people now have a combined wealth of $1 trillion. That's equal to the combined annual income of the world's 2.5 billion poorest people. The richest 10 percent of the world's population receives 49.6 percent of the total world income. The bottom 60 percent receives 13.9 percent of the world's income. The wealth of the world's three most well-to-do individuals now exceeds the combined gross domestic product of the 48 least developed countries. Half of the world's population of six billion live on less than $2 a day, while 1.3 billion get by on less than $1 a day. These are some of things you learn from a new book, just out, titled Economic Apartheid in America: A Primer on Economic Inequality & Insecurity by Chuck Collins and Felice Yeskel with United for a Fair Economy (The New Press, 2005). The book is filled with photos, and charts, and graphs -- that make it a great home schooling tool, for young and old alike. It puts things in perspective. It keeps you on your toes. Read it. Then listen to a little Bill O'Reilly. Then read it some more. Contrast is good. Stretch limousines are longer, yet more people are homeless. Thirty zip codes in America have become fabulously wealthy. Meanwhile, whole urban and rural communities are languishing in unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, growing insecurity and fear. It makes the perfect gift for the holidays. And you probably won't find it Wal-Mart. Or Costco, for that matter. Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter, <http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com>. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, <http://www.multinationalmonitor.org>. Mokhiber and Weissman are co-authors of On the Rampage: Corporate Predators and the Destruction of Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press). (c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman --------14 of 15-------- Do Workers Understand Their Class Interests? by Louis Proyect (Swans - October 24, 2005) In the aftermath of George W. Bush's 2004 electoral victory, Thomas Frank became the pundit of the moment. In a New York Times article dated only 3 days after the election, Frank put forward the notion that blue-collar voters chose Bush over Kerry because culture (abortion, gay marriage, etc.) trumped economic issues: The first thing Democrats must try to grasp as they cast their eyes over the smoking ruins of the election is the continuing power of the culture wars. Thirty-six years ago, President Richard Nixon championed a noble "silent majority" while his vice president, Spiro Agnew, accused liberals of twisting the news. In nearly every election since, liberalism has been vilified as a flag-burning, treason-coddling, upper-class affectation. This year voters claimed to rank "values" as a more important issue than the economy and even the war in Iraq... Like many such movements, this long-running conservative revolt is rife with contradictions. It is an uprising of the common people whose long-term economic effect has been to shower riches upon the already wealthy and degrade the lives of the very people who are rising up. It is a reaction against mass culture that refuses to call into question the basic institutions of corporate America that make mass culture what it is. It is a revolution that plans to overthrow the aristocrats by cutting their taxes. In some ways, Frank's analysis simply builds upon observations first made around the phenomenon of "Reagan Democrats." Supposedly the Gipper's macho style endeared him to lower income voters who traditionally voted Democrat. Despite their ostensibly pro-working-class economic policies, the Democrats lost because they were "wimpy." In Reagan's time, the emphasis was on appearing more "muscular" vis-a-vis the Soviets, while today it is on "family values" and "the war on terror," but in either case liberal pundits felt that workers were suckered into voting against their own class interests. Of course, as Frank points out, it doesn't help when Democrats - especially after the rise of the Democratic Leadership Council - appear more like Republicans on questions such as NAFTA, etc. At the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association on September 1-4 this year, Princeton professor Larry M. Bartels presented a paper titled "What's the Matter with What's the Matter with Kansas." (See http://www.princeton.edu/~bartels/kansas.pdf). As the title implies, Bartels found Frank's arguments lacking. Drawing upon a wealth of empirical data, he sought to support a different view of working-class voting patterns: . Has the white working class abandoned the Democratic Party? No. White voters in the bottom third of the income distribution have actually become more reliably Democratic in presidential elections over the past half-century, while middle- and upper-income white voters have trended Republican. Low-income whites have become less Democratic in their partisan identifications, but at a slower rate than more affluent whites - and that trend is entirely confined to the South, where Democratic identification was artificially inflated by the one-party system of the Jim Crow era. . Has the white working class become more conservative? No. The average views of low-income whites have remained virtually unchanged over the past 30 years. (A pro-choice shift on abortion in the 1970s and '80s has been partially reversed since the early 1990s.) Their positions relative to more affluent white voters - generally less liberal on social issues and less conservative on economic issues - have also remained virtually unchanged. . Do working class "moral values" trump economics? No. Social issues (including abortion) are less strongly related to party identification and presidential votes than economic issues are, and that is even more true for whites in the bottom third of the income distribution than for more affluent whites. Moreover, while social issue preferences have become more strongly related to presidential votes among middle- and high-income whites, there is no evidence of a corresponding trend among low-income whites. Bartels agrees with Jeffrey Stonecash, who argues in Class and Party in American Politics that "less-affluent whites have not moved away from the Democratic Party and that class divisions have not declined in American politics." Stonecash and Bartels attribute growing Republican dominance in its ability to attract middle- and upper-income voters exclusively. When Bartels finally turns to the empirical data, he is quite convincing. Through a series of graphs, he demonstrates that the working class - as he defines it - retains an allegiance to the Democratic Party: [F]rom 1976 through 2004 there is a strong and fairly consistent income gradient evident in the presidential voting behavior of white Americans. Averaging over the eight presidential elections of this period, whites in the bottom third of the income distribution cast 51% of their votes for Democrats, as compared with 44% of middle-income whites and 37% of upper-income whites. The gap in Democratic support between upper-income whites and lower-income whites thus increased from 4% in the earlier period to 14% after 1976. The 2004 election was, as it happens, quite consistent with the pattern since 1976: John Kerry received 50% of the two-party vote among whites in the lower third of the income distribution and 39% among those in the upper third of the income distribution - a difference of 11%. While it is of course some consolation to discover that workers still retain an element of rationality in their voting decisions, there is really not that much in Bartels's findings to support the notion that the reactionary sea-change in American politics can be reversed through business as usual. To start with, Bartels's definition of class suggests that once a worker achieves a certain income level, we might very well expect them to vote for Bourbons like Reagan or the Bushes as a "rational choice." In keeping with bourgeois social science, Bartels defines class in terms of income. In his eyes, if you are in the lower third of the income scale, you are a worker. This implies that if you are a highly paid auto worker, you might logically be expected to vote Republican. If a Democratic Party politician cannot appeal to a worker's more fundamental class interests in terms of their relationship to the means of production, then of course they will continue to lose support. There was dramatic evidence of this when Reagan fired the air traffic controllers, who certainly would not be a part of the working class according to Bartels's definition. When this attack on the labor movement occurred, the Democrats were either in full support of the Hollywood reactionary or offered only token resistance. It was that attack that set the agenda for labor relations for the next 24 years in fact. The fundamental assumption in Frank's argument (and Bartels's for that matter) is that the Democrats can adopt or re-adopt a progressive economic agenda in the way, for example, that NBC can increase the number of "reality" shows for the Fall season or the New York Yankees can rely on its farm teams for new players rather than the free agent market. In reality the Democrats eschew economic populism because they are a bourgeois party operating under conditions of increasing global competition, not because they are psychologically addicted to losing or some such thing. The same kind of consensus exists between Republicans and Democrats on economic issues that existed over how to confront the Soviet Union following WWII. With the full recovery of Germany and Japan in the 1960s, the USA was forced to slash away at the welfare state and to attack trade unions. The pace of the Democrats in this head-long march is somewhat slower than that of the Republicans but it is driven by the same imperatives. As Robert Pollin explained in a Counterpunch article on the weekend of October 18-19, 2003, the goal of the Clinton administration was to increase worker insecurity so as to enforce wage austerity. By making workers accept lower wages and unpaid overtime, American corporations can sell goods at lower prices than their European competitors. This in turn forces the European social democrats to impose the same sort of austerity regime on the trade unions. Key to understanding the bipartisan nature of this assault is the presence of Alan Greenspan, an Ayn Rand acolyte, in the post of Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Pollin writes: Greenspan openly acknowledged his "traumatized worker" explanation for the dampening of inflationary pressures in his regular semi-annual testimony to Congress in July 1997. Saluting the economy's performance that year as "extraordinary" and "exceptional," he remarked that a major factor contributing to its outstanding achievement was "a heightened sense of job insecurity and, as a consequence, subdued wages." During her stint as a Federal Reserve Governor, Janet Yellen, co-author of The Fabulous Decade, reached similar conclusions as to the sources of declining inflationary pressures at low unemployment, reporting to Fed's Open Market Committee on September 24, 1996 that "while the labor market is tight, job insecurity also seems alive and well. Real wage aspirations appear modest, and the bargaining power of workers is surprisingly low." As we have seen, these facts of declining bargaining power for workers did not deter Prof. Yellen from nevertheless concluding that the overall economic performance in the 1990s was "fabulous." With this "hard cop/soft cop" assault on the poor worker, it is no surprise that many of them in effect choose "none of the above" on Election Day. These are the subjects of Thomas E. Patterson's The Vanishing Voters. In an article on the History News Network, Patterson describes the trend set forth at greater length in his book: [T]he period from 1960 to 2000 marks the longest ebb in turnout in US history. Turnout was nearly 65 percent of the adult population in the 1960 presidential election and stood at only 51 percent in 2000. In 2002, turnout was 39 percent in the November election and a mere 18 percent in the congressional primaries. Fewer voters are not the only sign of the public's waning interest in political campaigns. In 1960, 60 percent of the nation's television households had their sets on and tuned to the October presidential debates. In 2000, fewer than 30 percent were tuned in. Patterson is quite astute at pointing out why Democrats have borne the brunt of voter apathy. By forsaking their New Deal legacy, they provide little motivation for workers to come out on Election Day. The voting rate among those at the bottom of the income ladder is only half that of those at the top. During the era of the economic issue, working-class Americans were at the center of political debate and party conflict. They now occupy the periphery of a political world in which money and middle-class concerns are ascendant. In 2000, low-income respondents were roughly 30 percent more likely than those in the middle- or top-income groups to say the election's outcome would have little or no impact on their lives. Despite the refusal of the Democratic Party to run candidates who embrace working-class issues, there are still powerful inertial forces on the left that call for backing whoever they nominate in 2008, including the wretched Hillary Clinton. The logic will be the same as it was in 2004. If the Republican candidate is drawn from the same homophobic, labor-hating, and racist pool as voters have become accustomed to, we will find hysterical calls once again to keep the White House off his hands. This time around, as the left puts forward an alternative to the donkey and the elephant, we should find Bartels's findings useful. Despite his obvious predilection for the Democratic Party, his research points in a more radical direction. Despite all the claims about workers not understanding their class interests, there are still signs that they favor candidates who have traditionally been associated with the welfare state, trade unions, racial justice, etc. Our job is to point out that their votes are being wasted and to create a new party that views such matters as more than election campaign rhetoric. With continuing attacks on Social Security, rising energy prices, the growth of religious obscurantism and an intractable war in Iraq, that should be easier than ever. --------15 of 15-------- When they rolled aside the rock for Jesus, George Bush was underneath it. Jesus Christ! they yelled, go back and come again! And next time don't bring the snake! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments
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