|Progressive Calendar 06.19.06||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|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 --------1 of 11-------- 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 --------2 of 11-------- 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). --------3 of 11-------- 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. --------4 of 11-------- 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 --------5 of 11-------- 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. --------7 of 11-------- 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 --------8 of 11-------- 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! --------9 of 11-------- 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), ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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