Progressive Calendar 06.19.06
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2006 15:31:18 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R     06.19.06

1. Passport to Peace  6.19 7pm
2. Climate crisis     6.19 7:30pm

3. Walk for justice   6.20 5:30pm
4. Frontline/DarkSide 6.20 9pm

5. Peace bridge/Iran  6.21 5pm
6. Somali/film        6.21 7pm
7. Queer takes/films  6.21-24 7pm

8. Mary Petrie  - Holman Field: update
9. Julie Risser - Signatures for Green Party Risser
10. Greg Palast - African-American voters scrubbed by Sscret GOP hit list
11. Paul Street - Odious Obama's path to hell

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Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2006 08:26:38 -0500
From: Jess Sundin <jess [at] antiwarcommittee.org>
Subject: Passport to Peace 6.19 7pm

Just a reminder that you are invited to "Passport for Peace," an evening
of food, friends, and fun TONIGHT, Monday, June 19 at 7pm.  We will be
serving food and beverages from around the world at the home of Fadia
Abdul-Hajj at 1716 Dupont Ave S. in Minneapolis.  Donations will be
requested.  Hope to see you there! -Katrina and the Anti-war Committee

For more info, call us at 612.379.3899


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Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2006 18:54:24 -0500 (CDT)
From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: Climate Crisis Coalition 6.19 7:30pm

Meeting: Mon, June 19th

The Climate Crisis Coalition of the Twin Cities (3CTC) is a newly-formed
organization founded to help lead a movement to stop global warming.  Last
December, 3CTC organized a picket line at the Governor's mansion which
coincided with the UN Climate Conference in Montreal, and in May we held a
Town Hall Meeting on Global Warming.

3CTC supports: 100% clean mass transit, wind farms and solar parks
utilized on a massive scale, the preservation of our wetlands and forests
and sweeping measures to increase energy-efficiency.

Let's unite to SAVE EARTH!  We must guarantee that our children and
grandchildren have a habitable planet on which to live a decent life.
3CTC meets bi-weekly at Dunn Brothers, 201 3rd Ave. S., Mpls. (next
meeting: Monday, June 19th, 7:30 pm).


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From: wamm <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Walk for justice 6.20 5:30pm

Headwaters Walk for Justice: Organizing Overview for WAMM Participants

Tuesday, June 20, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Phillips Eco-enterprise Center, Board
Room, 2801 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis. Overview of Headwaters Walk for
Justice will include how to organize a team of walkers and how to raise
money for our group, both online and in person. WAMM members we are you!
We need you to be with us on this and help keep your organization going!
Actual Walk for Justice is Sunday, September 17. FFI: Call WAMM at
512-827-5364.


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Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2006 21:29:59 -0500
From: Richard L. Dechert <ldechert [at] webtv.net>
Subject: Frontline/DarkSide 6.20 9pm
, tpt-2 6.20, 9pm & 6.21, 3am

This Week: A 90-min. "The Dark Side" at
http://www.pbs.org/frontline/darkside/ with some rare interviews.

Live Discussion: Chat with producer Michael Kirk Wed., June 21, 11am ET.
In a series of films presented by FRONTLINE over the past few years,
veteran producer Michael Kirk has taken us inside the struggles at the
highest levels of the Bush administration over how the war on terror would
be defined and fought. For more details see:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2006/06/12/DI2006061201204.html

In our "Dark Side" report this Tuesday, Kirk gets to the heart of one of
the most important internal conflicts whose outcome would result in what a
former insider says is a CIA that "has lost its shine."

It was Vice President Cheney who used the phrase, 'the dark side,' in a
frank description of what would have to be done to fight the war on
terror. Shortly after 9/11 he said: "We'll have to work the dark side, if
you will. We're gonna spend time in the shadows of the intelligence world.
A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without
any discussion...."

What we didn't understand at the time was that a battle was brewing inside
the administration between Cheney and the then-CIA director, George Tenet,
over the gathering of intelligence and how that intelligence would be used
to define the terms of the war that would soon be underway.

Producer Kirk notes he has rarely seen so many insiders coming forward,
"CIA officers aren't often willing to talk on the record to the press. In
this broadcast we have the top echelon that worked directly for George
Tenet, and many field operatives who were willing to share their
experiences and insights into the war on terror. That told me something
significant was happening, and that 'something' turned out to be what some
have called a 'covert war' between the Office of the Vice President and
the CIA."

As we present the insider view of what happened to George Tenet and the
CIA, we also recall the historical context for the Vice-President's lack
of confidence in that agency and why he was determined to both go around
it and bend it to his will.

We invite you to join us this Tuesday night and afterward, visit our web
site where we offer the extended interviews with top members of the
intelligence community and more background on the issues and people
covered. And, take the opportunity to watch our report again online and
express your opinion about it at http://www.pbs.org/frontline/darkside/

Louis Wiley, Jr. Executive Editor


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From: wamm <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Peace bridge/Iran 6.21 5pm

Peace Bridge Vigil: Say No to War Against Iran!

Wednesday, June 21, 5-6pm. Lake Street/Marshall Avenue bridge over the
Mississippi River. Come to the weekly peace vigil to: Say No to War
Against Iran! The June 21 vigil will be focused on speaking out against
the danger of U.S. military attacks on Iran. FFI: Call WAMM at
612-827-5364 or Twin Cities Peace Campaign at 612-522-1861.


--------6 of 11--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Somali/film 6.21 7pm

Stevens Square Community Organization (SSCO) and Stevens Square Center for
the Arts (SSCA) team up with organizations such as Gardenworks, the Bell
Museum, the National Bike Film Festival, Interact and other nonprofit
organizations to engage specific communities in the Twin Cities. They
bring socially engaging films (A Day Without A Mexican, The Real Dirt on
Farmer John, Crumb etc.) that focus on communities of color, non-auto
commuters, urban gardeners and immigrant, artist and GLBT communities.
Expect to find diverse performances and activities, films, food, blankets
and bug spray, as well as a chance to meet and engage with fellow urban
dwellers.

Wednesdays, June 14-August 2, 2006
7-11 PM, Films At Dusk
Stevens Square Park 1801 Stevens Ave, Minneapolis, MN

June 21, 2006
Somali Independence Celebration
Celebrate Somali Independence Day (July 1st) a few days early. Members
of the Stevens Square immigrant population have helped to shape this
program, which will include henna and face painting for kids, Somali
food, music and film.
Film: THE LETTER by director Ziad H Hamzeh
A true story about race, culture, community, and the world itself.


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From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Queer takes/films 6.21-24 7pm

Walker's Queer Takes Fest: World Cinematic View of GLBT Lives
by Lydia HOwell, Arts Editor TC Daily Planet

[This fest post appears here ONCE. You may want to SAVE it -ed]

This year's GLBT Pride has a cinematic element at Walker Art Center:
Queer Takes June 21-24. Weighted towards films from other countries, the
festival ranges from a musical to a murder mystery.

Wed. June 21, 7pm: "20 Centimeters" Spain/France

Ramon Salazar's look at a transgender woman's struggle to earn the money
for her final surgery (to do away with the "20 centimeters" that's the
last obstacle to her female identity) balances a tragic undercurrent with
of humor, a kind of Cinderella story and drawing on great Amreican
musicals. From the opening shots, where Marieta/Adolpho being obviously
abandoned outside Madrid after turning a trick to a hillarious job
interview to become a railroad station cleaner to delightful dreams where
she sings and dances, MOnica Cervera has real range. Supporting characters
add color but, Cervera is the linchpin of the film. There's plenty of film
references and while, a transgendered woman is the heart of the film, "20
Centimeters" is also a valentine for film lovers. Real entertainment with
fun choreography and moving moments.

Wed. June 21, 9:15pm: "A Year Without Love" Argentina

In Western countries, new drug regimes mean people with HIV/AIDS can live
healthy lives for years, but, in developing countries the diagnosis
remains grim. With the news that he has AIDS, Pablo, a native of Buenos
Aires, is given a year to live. Winner of the 2005 Teddy Award for best
gay feature at the Berlin Film Festival, Pablo is an unpublixhed poet who
makes his living teaching French, so, it makes sense that he would start a
diary to document his search for a love life and a cure. He ultimately
finds a leather circle, where he explores alternative sexuality that
expresses the contradicitons he battles daily and is the means to
re-affirm he's still alive even as he faces his death.  Struggling with
poverty, he;s forced to live with an aunt who he has a love-hate
connection. Regular lunches with his father are another family connection.
This is a far more daring look at AIDS than American films have
ventured.Directed by Anahi Berneri, this is her first feature film.

Thurs. June 22, Evening of short films

GIRLS Short Shorts, 7pm If there's something missing from Queer Takes,
it's lesbian and bisexual women or transmen in the feature films. But, the
first program of short films is a variety of female perspectives.
Australian films dominate. The title tells what the film "Coming Ot At
Work is Hard to Do" is about. "Moustache" is fun gender=bending. "Granny
Queer" is a welcome look at a Lesbian elder.The U.S. weighs in with"Hung"
and"Who's the Top?" is in beautiful black & white. Canada and Switzerland
are also represented.

BOYS Short Shorts, 9pm Black and white video domantes the men's short
films with films from the U.S. Australia and Canada.

Fri. June 23, 7pm: "Time To Leave" France

This is an elegaic study about the meaning of life focused by having to
face death, without sentimentality or easy resolutions. The film takes for
granted the protagonist being gay and is also totally universal.  Romain
(Melvin Poupaud) is a 31 year old gay fashion photographer diagnosed with
a terminal tumor. Rather than being heroic. Romain, is self-absorbed,
intially angry and ultimately goes on his own solitary journey to come to
terms with his own death. He defies social expectations by NOT telling his
family or his young lover, Sasha--but, instead pushes almost all of them
away.

The exception to this is his grandmother, played by the great French
actress Jeanne Moreau, as a kindred spirit, who also made her own life
choices that were judged 'selfish'. Moreau is luminous and her scenes with
Poupaud ring with truth. Melvin Poupaud gives a nuanced performance that
reveals Romain's grappling with angry grief, dispair and acceptance.  How
his relationship to his camera changes is exquisite as reality and
metaphor: more trancendental awareness and detaching simutaneously.
Although only having one pivotal scene. Daniel Duval, as Romain's father,
is incredibly moving.

In "Time To Leave", we really see the emotional journey of a man in a way
that's still too rare. This isn't a "diseaase film", like "Philadelphia"
or the many "movie of the week" cancer films. It's a film about facing
death, which ultimately means facing one's life and one's self. Solitude
pervades the film even as Romain grapples with how to do that on his own
terms. A casual encounter provides a way for Romain to recognize and
reaffirm the 'circle of life" even as he accepts his own life's end.
Dispite the subject matter, "Time To Leave" isn't depressing at all.
Director Francois Ozon has made something so sublte. His moments of
childhood memory, the streets of Paris and the French countryside, and the
film's ending on a beach frame a story that speaks truths all of us will
have to face. Highly recommened, this film lingers with great perfromances
and perfect images. "Time To Leave" is the second film in Ozon's trilogy
about mourning. The first was "Under The Sand"(2000), starring Charlotte
Rampling.

Fri. June 23, 9pm "Wild Tigers I Have Known" USA

One of the most exciting films at this year's Sundance Festival, it's a
look at the onset of adolecence, identity and sexuality that dares to keep
it real. Logan is a lonely 13 year old with a crush on an older boy,
Rodeo--a sild boy who's not attracted to other boys and is Logna's friend
on walks in the woods. Logan ends up creating a female persona, "Leah"
(over the telephone) to communicate his longing to Rodeo. Eventually, he
takes this further, experimenting with female clothing and wigs.

The film's director, Cam Archer is 24, and so hasn;t forgotten the wild
recklessness of that edge between childhood qnd adulthood. In one
intreview Archer remarked, "To be 13, in my opinion is like being in the
middle of a horror film.You really don't know if it's better to let IT
kill you of if you should RUN for your life until you find that special
safe place where no one can bother you."

Malcolm Stumpf plays Logan and is a 14 year old who had a small role as
Madonna's son, Sam, in the film "The Next Best Thing" and this is his
leading role debut. The other two boys, Patrick White, as Rodeo< and Max
Paradise as Logan's best frined science nerd, Joey, are also making their
debut.

Archer's made a previous short film "hobbycrush" and several music videos,
so music is integral to "Wild Tigers". Gus van Sant is executive producer,
which is a real vote of confidence for this film, dispite some uneven
moments as it mixes psychosexual emotions and the poetry of adolescent
dreams to tell an uncoventional story resonate with teenage angst and
hope. Cam Archer is a film-maker to watch out for.

Sat. June 24, 7pm "Strange Fruit" USA

See the full-length review of this African-American murder mystery with a
gay persepctive. Referncing Sidny Poitier's classic "In The Heat of The
NIght", it's a mix of real suspense and character study rooted in the
Black family. Supporting characters like a 60-something owner of a black
gay bar, outside the small Louisiana town where the murder is set, anchor
the film.The leading man played by Kent Faulcon will make you both stand
up and cheer as well as swoon.

Sat. June 24, 9pm "Broken Sky" Mexico

Sexual passion propels this film from the first scene, lovingly focuses on
two young Mexican men's embrace and a voice over saying "I remember you.
Only you. In the morning. Only you. In the afternoon. You.  In the night."
It's as if the great Latin American poet from Chile, Pablo Neruda, had
written his "20 sonnets and a song of dispair" from a gay male perspective
and with film instead of a pen. This is sensual cinema of lyrical beauty,
the body as the means of the most true communication. This gorgeous film
revels in a sensual cinema that remembers film's root is image not words.

QUEER TAKES Wed. June 23- Sat. June 24, Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennipen
(next to the Sculpture Garden), Minneapolis (612)375-7600
www.walkerart.org


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Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2006 20:08:10 -0500
From: Mary Petrie <petri017 [at] tc.umn.edu>
Subject: Holman Field: Update

A momentous decision regarding our city and the Mississippi River is in
the works.  If you act on only one local issue this year, please let this
be the one.  We need you to contact city council members and the Mayor's
office - soon!  Please take a couple of mintues to read this informative
email.  Thank you so much for your time!

The Problem:

Over the next month, the City Council, the Mayor's Office, and the
Planning Commission will review new plans by the Metropolitan Airport
Commission (MAC) to construct a dike along the Mississippi River in order
to protect the downtown airport, Holman Field, from flooding.  You
probably already know that Mayor Chris Coleman rejected MAC's earlier
proposal, calling for significant changes in design and asking MAC to
address issues of airport operatoins that will affect noise, pollution and
quality of life in our city.

MAC's new proposal DOES NOT change the original dike or address issues of
operation!  Indeed, in the new proposal the dike is the same height, the
same length, made out of the same sheet metal, and situated exactly in the
same place along the river.  NO additional inquiries into or strategies
for improving airport operations are included in the new proposal.

What is new, then?  MAC is proposing a couple openings, concrete columns,
walkway along the river and transforming unused land into a pleasant park.
It's lovely.  However, there is NO MONEY allocated for these plans!  The
proposed park and walkway are not included in funding projections and are
distracting the public from the fact that the dike is exactly the same.
The amenities are simply unfunded suggestions, rather than concrete,
funded and viable plans.

Yet it appears that the Planning Commission and the Mayor are ready to
approve the dike.

Solutions

A group of St Paul citizens have new proposals for protecting Holman Field
that will not require the construction of a dike.  These four proposals
are viable, sophisticated and environmentally sound.  The proposals would
cost much less money and would effectively save Holman Field from the
majority of its flooding issues.  We need the St Paul City Council and
Mayor's Office to review and seriously consider these proposals.

What You Can Do

1.  Call or email St Paul City Council Members and the Mayor's Office.
Perhaps just select one or two councilmembers, but call at least one and
the Mayor!  Please focus on council members Lee Helgen, Debbie Montgomery,
Dave Thune, Kathy Lantry, and Jay Benanav.

What to say?  You'll find some talking points below.  Remember to always
be polite when calling.  In particular, it's important that we THANK
Councilmembers Lee Helgen, Kathy Lantry, Dave Thune and Jay Benanav for
vetoing the proposal the first time and REMIND them that this proposal is
virtualy the same.  They have been strong advocates for the river.  But
their continuing support depends on their awareness that we are watching
and supporting their votes for the environment.

Here are some key points to bring up:

* The city of St Paul should get what we asked for:  a new MAC proposal
for Holman field rather than one that simply suggests unfunded amenities.
The 'new' proposed dike is situated in the same location, is the same
height and build from the same sheet metal.  It is the same dike with
pretty window dressing.

* The new proposal does not address issues of operation.  Yet in his April
24th Memo to MAC that rejected the proposed dike, Mayor Coleman
specifically asked MAC to develop or update a noise compatibility program
AND to study, develop, update and implement policies and regulations to
reduce environmental impact.  Yet the new proposal does not address any
one of the Mayor's requests. The Mayor told MAC that before they submitted
a formal application they had to secure FAA approval of limitations on the
number of aircraft operations and hours of operations. Where is the
agreement?

* we want St Paul to set the gold standard for economic development that
is also environmentally smart.  We want to be the model for ecologically
sound transportation and commerce.

* we want the city council and Mayor's office to seriously consider
citizen proposals for protecting Holman Field.  We urge the city council
to create its own review process in order to explore all of the possible
solutions to this problem -- rather than the one solution offered by MAC
twice and dressed up to look a little different.

* we are stewards for this river.  We expect our leadership to give
greater priority to environmental impact that will be everlasting than to
protect an air field from flooding -- especially a field that has only
been out of operation due to floods for 148 days since 1942!  This is not
an emergency issue.

Please help us stop our city leaders from making a grave mistake and
inflicting permanent damage to our river!  Make the phone calls and send
the emails!  This is an issue that will affect us all.  We will lose not
only some of the river's beauty, but alter its natural course while adding
noise and pollution to our city.  MAC has bulldozed over countless
Minneapolis neighborhoods.  Don't let them take St. Paul.

Mayor Coleman 266-8510
Montgomery 266-8610
Thune 266-8620
Benanav 266-8640
Helgen 266-8650
Lantry 266-8670

2.  Write a letter to the editor!!  Use the talking points above, or
contact Mary Petrie at petri017 [at] umn.edu or Tom Dimond at
dimond [at] earthlink.net and we'll be happy to assist your literary endeavors.

Thank you!


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Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2006 07:56:52 -0500
From: Julie Risser <julie.risser [at] visi.com>
Subject: Green Party signatures for Risser

Interested in learning more about the Green Party and getting a third
party candidate on the ballot?

Julie Risser is the Green Party Endorsed candidate for Senate District 41
(Edina and West Bloomington).  She is looking for volunteers to help
gather signatures for the petition required to be on the ballot in
November. Risser needs to gather 500 signatures from eligible voters in
SD41 between July 4th and July18th.

If you would like to help please call Julie at 952-927-7538. For more
information about Risser's campaign go to www.VoteRisser4Senate.com


--------10 of 11--------

African-American Voters Scrubbed by Secret GOP Hit List
by Greg Palast
Democracy  Now!
Friday 16 June 2006
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/061606J.shtm

Palast, who  first reported this story for BBC Television Newsnight (UK)
and Democracy  Now! (USA), is author of the New York Times bestseller,  Armed
Madhouse.

The Republican National Committee has a special offer for African-American
soldiers: Go to Baghdad, lose your vote.

A confidential campaign directed by GOP party chiefs in October 2004
sought to challenge the ballots of tens of thousands of voters in the last
presidential election, virtually all of them cast by residents of
Black-majority precincts.

Files from the secret vote-blocking campaign were obtained by BBC
Television Newsnight, London. They were attached to emails accidentally
sent by Republican operatives to a non-party website.

One group of voters wrongly identified by the Republicans as registering
to vote from false addresses: servicemen and women sent overseas.

Here's how the scheme worked: The RNC mailed these voters letters in
envelopes marked, "Do not forward", to be returned to the sender. These
letters were mailed to servicemen and women, some stationed overseas, to
their US home addresses. The letters then returned to the Bush-Cheney
campaign as "undeliverable."

The lists of soldiers of "undeliverable" letters were transmitted from
state headquarters, in this case Florida, to the RNC in Washington. The
party could then challenge the voters' registration and thereby prevent
their absentee ballot being counted.

One target list was comprised exclusively of voters registered at the
Jacksonville, Florida, Naval Air Station.  Jacksonville is third largest
naval installation in the US, best known as home of the Blue Angels
fighting squadron.

Our team contacted the homes of several on the caging list, such as
Randall Prausa, a serviceman, whose wife said he had been ordered
overseas.

A soldier returning home in time to vote in November 2004 could also be
challenged on the basis of the returned envelope. Soldiers challenged
would be required to vote by "provisional"  ballot.

Over one million provisional ballots cast in the 2004 race were never
counted; over half a million absentee ballots were also rejected. The
extraordinary rise in the number of rejected ballots was the result of the
widespread multi-state voter challenge campaign by the Republican Party.
The operation, of which the purge of Black soldiers was a small part, was
the first mass challenge to voting America had seen in two decades.

The BBC obtained several dozen confidential emails sent by the
Republican's national Research Director and Deputy Communications chief,
Tim Griffin to GOP Florida campaign chairman Brett Doster and other party
leaders. Attached were spreadsheets marked, "Caging.xls." Each of these
contained several hundred to a few thousand voters and their addresses.

A check of the demographics of the addresses on the "caging lists," as the
GOP leaders called them indicated that most were in African-American
majority zip codes.

Ion Sanco, the non-partisan elections supervisor of Leon County
(Tallahassee) when shown the lists by this reporter said: "The only thing
I can think of - African American voters listed like this - these might be
individuals that will be challenged if they attempted to vote on Election
Day."

These GOP caging lists were obtained by the same BBC team that first
exposed the wrongful purge of African-American "felon" voters in 2000 by
then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Eliminating the voting rights of
those voters - 94,000 were targeted - likely caused Al Gore's defeat in
that race.

The Republican National Committee in Washington refused our several
requests to respond to the BBC discovery.  However, in Tallahassee, the
Florida Bush campaign's spokespeople offered several explanations for the
list.

Joseph Agostini, speaking for the GOP, suggested the lists were of
potential donors to the Bush campaign. Oddly, the supposed donor list
included residents of the Sulzbacher Center a shelter for homeless
families.

Another spokesperson for the Bush campaign, Mindy Tucker Fletcher,
ultimately changed the official response, acknowledging that these were
voters, "we mailed to, where the letter came back - bad addresses."

The party has refused to say why it would mark soldiers as having "bad
addresses" subject to challenge when they had been assigned abroad.

The apparent challenge campaign was not inexpensive. The GOP mailed the
letters first class, at a total cost likely exceeding millions of dollars,
so that the addresses would be returned to "cage" workers.

"This is not a challenge list," insisted the Republican spokesmistress.
However, she modified that assertion by adding, "That's not what it's set
up to be."

Setting up such a challenge list would be a crime under federal law. The
Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlaws mass challenges of voters where race is
a factor in choosing the targeted group.

While the party insisted the lists were not created for the purpose to
challenge Black voters, the GOP ultimately offered no other explanation
for the mailings. However, Tucker Fletcher asserted Republicans could
still employ the list to deny ballots to those they considered suspect
voters. When asked if Republicans would use the list to block voters,
Tucker Fletcher replied, "Where it's stated in the law, yeah."

It is not possible at this time to determine how many on the potential
blacklist were ultimately challenged and lost their vote. Soldiers sending
in their ballot from abroad would not know their vote was lost because of
a challenge.

For the full story of caging lists and voter purges of 2004, plus the
documents, read Greg Palast's New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse:
Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?; China Floats Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal
'08; No Child's Behind Left and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of
the Class War.


--------11 of 11--------

Odious Obama's Path to Hell     [Stars Fell From An Obama -ed]
By Paul Street
June 18, 2006
ZNet Commentary
http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2006-06/16street.cfm

In the spring of 1967, after he went public with his strong and principled
opposition to the Vietnam War, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was
approached by liberal and left politicos to consider running for the
United States Presidency.  King turned the activists down, saying that he
preferred to think of himself "as one trying desperately to be the
conscience of all the political parties, rather being a political
candidate - I've just never thought of myself as a politician" (1)

The minute he threw his hat in the American winner-take-all presidential
ring, King knew, he would be encouraged to compromise his increasingly
leftist and fundamentally moral message against racism, social inequality,
and militarism.  Reflecting his chastening confrontation with the
concentrated black poverty and class oppression in the "liberal" urban
North and the horrors of U.S. policy in Southeast Asia, King had come to
radical conclusions.  "For years I have labored with the idea of refining
the existing institutions of the society, a little change here, a little
change there," he told journalist David Halberstam that spring.  "Now I
feel quite differently.  I think you've got to have a reconstruction of
the entire society, a revolution of values"

The black freedom movement, King told a crowd at the university of
California-Berkeley, had shifted from civil rights to human rights,
involving "a struggle for genuine equality" that "demands a radical
redistribution of economic and political power."  It would be hard to find
mass political support for this goal, King said, "because many white
Americans would like to have a nation which is simultaneously a democracy
for White America and a dictatorship over Black Americans" (2).

By this time, King had identified the U.S. government as "the greatest
purveyor of violence" in the world and denounced U.S. support for
U.S.-investment-friendly Third World dictatorship, all part of what he
called "the triple evils that are interrelated": racism, economic
exploitation [capitalism], and militarism (3).

These were not winning ideas in the racist, plutocratic, and
corporate-imperial U.S. electoral system.  They were truth-based moral
observations that contained openly acknowledged radical policy
implications. They were richly consistent with what Frederick Douglass
called "the Christianity of Christ," very different from what Douglass
considered the false American Christianity that justified slavery, Indian
Removal, and other abominations and forms of oppression (4).  As the
prolific Catholic scholar Gary Wills notes in his recent book What Jesus
Meant, the Jesus that emerges from a serious reading of the gospels is an
uncompromising enemy of wealth and hierarchy who said that "it is easier
for a camel to get through a needle's eye than for a rich to enter into
God's reign" (Mark, 10.23-25) and counseled his followers to "protect
yourself against every desire for having more" since "life does not lie in
the abundance of things one owns" (Luke, 13.15).  Opposed to all forms of
hierarchy, not just economic inequality, the Jesus "rebuke[d] the
followers who jockey[ed] for authority over each other and over others"
(5), saying that "everyone lifting himself up will be abased and anyone
abasing himself will be lifted up" (Luke, 14.11).

"There cannot be a clearer injunction of hierarchy of any kind," says
Wills, adding that Jesus was "absolute in his opposition to violence" (6)
and remarkably indifferent to politics, saying "Caesar's matters leave to
Caesar" (Mark, 12.17)

Following the gospels' radical message, which he knew quite well (7), King
didn't want to end up like the odious Barack Obama.

A former neighborhood organizer on Chicago's impoverished South Side,
Obama claims fealty to the ideals of Jesus and King. Still, he:

* "refuses to take any options," including the supremely sinful strategy
of preemptive nuclear war, "off the table" in attempting to deter Iran
from doing something U.S. global strategy would seem to strongly recommend
to that nation: developing nuclear weapons.

* voted to fill the nation's top diplomatic jobs (of all offices) with a
mendacious war-criminal named Condaleeza ("Chevron") Rice.

* refuses to call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from illegally and
mass-murderously occupied Iraq, placing more value on maintaining
America's blood-soaked "military credibility" than on recognizing standard
world norms of civilized state behavior or on honoring Jesus' and King's
commitment to nonviolence.

* distanced himself from fellow Illinois Senator Dick Durbin's
(D-Illinois) courageous criticism of illegal U.S. torture practices in
Guantanamo Bay.

* followed the counsel of the rich men of corporate America by backing a
"tort reform" that makes it more difficult for ordinary people to attain
just compensation from business that cheat and damage.

* voted to close filibuster proceedings that would have attempted to block
the appointment of the reactionary Judge Alito - a known civil and women's
rights enemy.

* voted to re-authorize the Patriot Act, which uses real and imagined
foreign threats created by empire to roll back liberty at home.

* fled fellow Senator Russ Feingold's (D-Wisconsin) motion to officially
censure the Bush administration for its monumentally criminal actions at
home and abroad.

* applies his campaign finance Midas touch to the reelection efforts of
his "mentor," the de facto Republican Senator Joe Liberman ("D"-
Connecticut), a close ally of Bush's occupation, and a leading architect
of the nation's oppressive and racist "welfare reform," which slashed
basic government assistance for the most disadvantaged members of the
industrialized world's most unequal, wealth-top-heavy society.

In the horrible 2004 Democratic Convention Keynote address that did so
much to catapult him into national prominence, Obama set some centrist
tone for his subsequent predictable betrayals of cherished principles and
leaders.  In that instantly celebrated speech, Obama:

* claimed that the U.S. is the ultimate "beacon for freedom and
opportunity," the "only country on earth" where "my story" (a supposedly
Horatio-Alger-esque tale of climb from poverty to prominence and now
[thanks to some generous book deals] prosperity) "is even possible." This
despite the fact that the U.S. is actually the most rigidly hierarchical
nation in the industrialized world, home to a stultifying corporate
plutocracy, massive persistent and highly racialized poverty, astonishing
incarceration rates (also quite racially disparate) and low mobility from
lower to upper segments in its steep socioeconomic pyramid.

* said that "every child in America" should "have a decent shot at life,"
not that every kid deserves a full and decent life now and thereafter

* expected Americans to be ecstatic over the "miracle" (!) that they don't
live under the iron heel of open state repression (he made no exceptions
for the nation's 2 million prisoners, nearly half black), as if democracy
is just the absence of a police state and not the power of the people to
run their own society in an egalitarian fashion (talk about low
expectations for freedom).

* praised a Marine enlisted in the racist and imperialist oil occupation
of Iraq for (of all things) "defending the United States of America" and
(supposedly) expressing "absolute faith in the country and its leaders."
Now there's a nice democratic sentiment: such chilling "faith" is the
stuff of the very police state whose absence in the U.S. Obama called a
"miracle."

* scaled new heights of cringing, pseudo-patriotic nausea-inducement by
making disturbing "hope" parallels between: "the hope of slaves sitting
around a fire singing freedom songs:"  "the hope of a young naval
lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta;" and the "hope of a skinny
kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him."

The "lieutenant" referred to in his speech was Democratic presidential
candidate John "I Participated in the Crucifixion of Southeast Asia"
Kerry, whose government's imperial right to "patrol" great rivers on the
other side of the world during the 1960s Obama took as axiomatic.  The
"skinny kid" referred to a young Obama, grooming himself for a Harvard
education while growing up with his white grandparents in sunny Hawaii.

The connection with "freedom"-singing slaves?  A shared belief in what
Obama called "God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation - a
belief that there are better days ahead."

Yes, the brutalized black slaves of racist antebellum America were looking
forward to the glorious white-imperialist rape of Southeast Asia, when
their faith in "better days" would find glorious realization in the
napalming of Vietnamese children, the images of which shocked Martin King
to denounce the Vietnam war in strident and forceful terms.

How unimaginably and hideously grotesque.  For a more detailed critique of
Obama's great breakthrough speech, see my article [the most popular
Internet piece I've ever published by far] "Keynote Reflections," ZNet
Magazine, July 29, 2004 (available at
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=33&ItemID=5951)

In a recent New Yorker piece, Obama is quoted at length as an example of
Democratic Party centrism.  The community-organizer-turned-U.S.-Senator
responds as follows to writer Jeffrey Goldberg's query on whether the
Democrats should focus on defending the American public against the U.S.
government's assault on its civil liberties: "Americans want to feel good
about themselves and their government.  They can be called upon to
sacrifice and they can be ashamed when we fall short of our ideals but
they don't believe that the main lesson of the last five years is that
America is an evil hegemon"( 8).

It's hard to know how Obama thought that revealing passage addressed
illegal federal wiretaps and the like, but his statement contains a
revealing assumption that deserves consideration on its own ground. The
assumption holds that the important question isn't whether or not
"America" (or perhaps its imperial government) is "an evil hegemon," but
rather whether "Americans" (translation: American voters and especially
American campaign-financers) perceive their nation-state to be such a
terrible entity.  Political calculation trumps the quest for moral truth.

But what if "America" (or at least its government) is, well, "an evil
hegemon" (probably the majority world view of the U.S. state, for what
that's worth)?  If true, that terrible fact, by Obama's standpoint, should
not be openly addressed because it works against Democrats efforts to
enhance their chances of election and re-election by helping "Americans
feel good about themselves and their government."

The contrast with Martin King's courageous left-Christian,
anti-imperialist, anti-racist, and democratic-socialist sentiments is
quite pronounced.  For King, the relevant calculations were very
different.  He was compelled to call "America" on its global violence and
its related domestic injustices regardless of the difficulties the U.S.
citizenry might face in acknowledging their own and their government's
role in the enforcement of empire, inequality, and oppression at home and
abroad.  The imperative was hardly to help "Americans" "feel good about
themselves and their government."  It was to encourage them to be true to
themselves, to each other, and to the rest of suffering humanity by facing
up to "the triple evils that are interrelated."

Obama's descent into Hell is almost certainly about a desire to be an
American Caesar.  The path to the White House is not paved with naive
crusades against the politically inconvenient truths that King felt
compelled to expose and oppose. It requires regular reassurance to the
rich and powerful few and to the militaristic instincts of Empire that the
opulent minority seeks to inculcate among the marginalized multitude.
Whatever Jesus is reputed to have said about who may enter heaven, the
keys to the earthly kingdom are reserved for those who play by the rules
set by the masters of wealth and war.

Obama is what happens when a young leader sells his soul for power,
wealth, and personal advancement in a militantly hierarchical society.
It's what happens when you invest your energy in "jockey[ing] for
authority over others."  It's a very old story, making Obama one of many
actors in a timeless and tragic drama.

Paul Street (paulstreet99 [at] yahoo.com) is a writer, speaker, and activist in
Iowa City, IA.  He is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the
World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004) and Segregated Schools:
Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York, NY:
Routledge, 2005).

Notes

1. David Garrow, Bearing the Cross:  Martin Luther King and the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference [New York, NY: 1986], p. 562).

2.Garrow, Bearing the Cross, p. 562.

3. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Where Do We Go From Here?," 1967, reproduced
in James M. Washington, A Testament of Hope: the Essential Writings and
Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. (San Francisco, CA: 1986), p. 250.

4. Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845),
appendix.

5. Gary Wills, What Jesus Meant (New York, NY: 2006), p. 44

6. Wills, What Jesus Meant, p. 58.

7. Paul Street, "Martin Luther King, Jr., Democratic Socialist," ZNet
Sustainers Commentary, January 14, 2006, available at
http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2006-01/14street.cfm)

8. Jeffrey Goldberg, "Central Casting," The New Yorker (May 29, 2006),


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