|Progressive Calendar 06.21.07||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2007 17:14:04 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 06.21.07 1. Natural step 6.24 8:30am 2. Pride parade 6.24 11am 3. Stillwater vigil 6.24 1pm 4. Michael Cavlan 6.24 4pm 5. Arab Americans 6.24 6pm 6. Habeas bus 6.24-27 6pm 7. Natural step 6.25 8:30am 8. Cool e-tools 6.25 6:30pm 9. Amnesty Intl 6.25 7pm 10. Gaza/Palestine 6.25 7pm 11. Climate crisis 6.25 7:30pm 12. Phil Rockstroh - The DP/within the architecture of denial & duplicity 13. Michael Smith - Who among us will step up to destroy the Dem Party? 14. Robert Jensen - A direction not a destination 15. RobertWeissman - SICKO, part one: the human tragedy --------1 of 15-------- From: Karen Engelsen <Karen [at] afors.org> Subject: Natural step 6.24 8:30am Sustainability and the Natural Step Framework, This seminar provides an innovative, successful, and cost-effective approach for becoming environmentally and socially responsible based on consensus and systems thinking. Its purpose is to present a common framework comprised of easily-understood, scientifically-based principles that can serve as a compass to guide society toward a just and sustainable future. This seminar is being offered twice, once each in the East and West Metro: Thursday, May 24, 8:30a.m., a day-long session at Lake Harriet UMC, Minneapolis. Tuesday May 29, and Thursday, May 31, 5:30 - 9:30p.m., at Mississippi Market. St. Paul. --------2 of 15-------- From: Andrew Abruzzese <spreadleft [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Pride parade 6.24 11am The Green Party of MN and Mpls/5th Dist GP local will be participating in the TC Pride parade again this year. TC Pride Parade falls on June 24th starting at 11am, line up is at 10am off of 3rd and Hennepin Parade Route The route will begin at the corner of 3rd Street and Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis and will follow Hennepin Avenue to Loring Park. For a detailed map, be sure to check out the Parade Route/Location page. 2007 Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade , Presented by City Pages The 2007 Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade, presented by City Pages, will be held on Sunday, June 24, beginning at 11am along Hennepin Avenue in Downtown Minneapolis. According to public estimates, the Parade drew an estimated 125,000 spectators in 2006, making it one of the largest parades in the Upper Midwest, and the largest in all of Minneapolis according to Mayor R.T. Rybak. Because of this popularity, it is recommended that you arrive early to find your parade viewing spot. --------3 of 15-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Stillwater vigil 6.24 1pm A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2 p.m. Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be positive. Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers. If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it. Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to <http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/ For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560 --------4 of 15-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Michael Cavlan 6.24 4pm SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 4PM MAY DAY BOOKS 301 CEDAR AVE.WEST BANK,MINNEAPOLIS Basement of HUB Bicycle PHONE; 612-333-4719 DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENCE FROM THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY! with GREEN PARTY candidate for U.S. Senate, MICHAEL CAVLAN Gold Star mother for peace, Cindy Sheehan put forth a call to independents, Greens, progressives and Democrats disillusioned with the Democratic Party's colluding in the continuation of the occupation of Iraq--a call to come to Philadelphia on the Fourth of July. around the country and here in the Twin Cities people are answering that call and a Quaker Meeting House in Philadelphia has been secured for that convergence. Come to a local gathering to share ideas in open discussion, food and to fund-raise for the trip.see the film short MOUSELAND, about the two-party system.Enjoy Lydia Howell's tasty Tex-Mex green chile torte - VEGETERIAN (and NOT too hot for Minnesota taste) and other goodies. DONATION; $5-10 FOR MORE INFO ON PHILADELPHIA TRIP;contact Mike Cavlan at; ollamhfaery [at] earthlink.net --------5 of 15-------- From: Mizna <mizna-announce [at] mizna.org> Subject: Arab Americans 6.24 6pm Join Mizna for a special event this Sunday. Nationally known Arab American writer, Gregory Orfalea, will be reading from (and signing) his latest book, The Arab Americans - A History. You can purchase it on site. Explore this Arab American coffee house in St. Paul, and join us on the lovely patio for an event not to be missed! Event is free and open to the public. 6 pm Sunday, June 24 Cahoots Coffee House 1562 Selby Ave (by the corner of Selby and Snelling) St Paul, MN About "The Arab Americans: A History" Gregory Orfalea's new and definitive work spans a century and a half of the life of Arab immigrants and their descendants in the United States. In The Arab Americans: A History, Orfalea has marshaled over 150 interviews and 25 years of research to tell the story that begins in 1856, when camel driver Hajdi Ali (or Hi Jolly) was hired by Jefferson Davis to cut a "camel trail" across the Southwest, and continues through the 2005 arrest of a former Virginia high school valedictorian accused of plotting with al-Qaeda. Once seen as the "benevolent stranger," as the author points out, today Arab Americans are "the malevolent stranger." His book, however, is an assault on such ignorance, both celebration and warning. The Arab Americans is the culmination of a life's work, a landmark in the history of what it means to be an American. It is also the history of a community uniquely repressed in American scholarship, history, literature, and politics. The Arab Americans fills a sizable void, and it could not be more timely. With American troops sprawled across the Arab and Muslim world, Orfalea's work is like light in a dark tunnel - facts, not stereotypes; people, not shadows; the vibrant world of a lost American experience come to life. Orfalea brings to this work an historian's love of meticulous and telling detail, a poet's ear, and a novelist's sense of story. The cumulative effect is symphonic and its arrival none too soon. Greg Orfalea is director of the writing center at Pitzer College in California and co-editor of Grape Leaves: A Century of Arab-American Poetry. Visit our website: http://www.mizna.org --------6 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Habeas bus 6.24-27 6pm 6/24 to 6/27, American Civil Liberties Union hosts a bus (cost to participants is only $10, with hotel also included) to DC for a rally to Restore Habeas Corpus, end torture and repeal the Military Commissions Act. Bus leaves the Twin Cities at 6 pm on Sunday for Tuesday rally and Wednesday return. For rally details, go to www.juneaction.com For local details contact Jana Kooren at 651-645-4097 x 123. --------7 of 15-------- From: Alliance for Sustainability <sean [at] afors.org> Subject: Natural step 6.25 8:30am Sustainability and the Natural Step Framework: A Win-Win-Win for Business, Our Community and the Earth This Seminar provides an innovative, successful, and cost-effective approach for becoming environmentally and socially responsible based on consensus and systems thinking. Its purpose is to present a common framework comprised of easily-understood, scientifically-based principles that can serve as a compass to guide society toward a just and sustainable future. Monday, June 25 8:30 am - 4:30 pm 8 am Registration and Food Available at Intelligent Nutrients Intelligent Nutrients, 983 East Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis (Just off I-35W going North at East Hennepin Ave. Exit or Bus 61, 25 and 4) RSVP Requested and Advanced Registration Discount: $95 ($75 for contributing members of Alliance and other sponsors) if payment received by Monday June 18. $10 additional after and $20 additional at the door if space is available. A limited number of scholarships are available. If you can't come to the second session, you can come another time. Fee includes all resource materials. Contact: Alliance for Sustainability, 612-331-1099, info [at] afors.org; www.afors <http://www.afors/> .org --------8 of 15-------- From: Tim Erickson <tim [at] e-democracy.org> Subject: Cool e-tools 6.25 6:30pm Upcoming workshops in the Electronic Classroom at Rondo Community Outreach Library (University and Dale): MONDAYS IN JUNE 6:30-8:30 pm June 25 - Show and Tell: New Tools (Cool Tools) for Public Participation --------9 of 15-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 6.25 7pm Augustana Homes Seniors Group meets on Monday, June 25th, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the party room of the 1020 Building, 1020 E 17th Street, Minneapolis. For more information contact Ardes Johnson at 612/378-1166 or johns779 [at] tc.umn.edu. --------10 of 15-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Gaza/Palestine 6.25 7pm Gaza: Life in Occupied Palestine Dr. Mona El-Farra, internationally-renowned physician and human rights leader on her first U.S. speaking tour. Monday, June 25 7:00 p.m. St. Joan of Arc Church Hospitality Hall 4537 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis. Dr. El-Farra is the Director of Gaza Projects for The Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA), a nonprofit humanitarian aid organization based in Berkeley, California, as well as the Vice President of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip and a member of the Union of Health Work Committees. Born in Khan Younis, Gaza, Dr. El-Farra has dedicated herself to developing community based programs that aim to improve health quality and link health services with cultural and recreation services all over the Gaza Strip. Dr. El-Farra travels frequently to Europe to meet with solidarity activists and to speak to general audiences about life in Occupied Gaza and how the international community can join Palestinians in their efforts to secure justice. Now, you can hear her clear and powerful voice. Free and open to the public. Donations accepted. Sponsored by: The Middle East Children's Alliance and WAMM's Middle East Committee For More Information: Contact Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) at 612-827-5364. --------11 of 15-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Climate crisis 6.25 7:30pm Regular meeting of the Climate Crisis Coalition of the Twin Cities (3CTC). EVERY 2nd and 4th Monday at 7:30 pm. The Freight House Dunn Brothers, 201 3rd Ave S, next door to the Milwaukee Road Depot, Downtown Minneapolis. Stop global warming, save Earth! In solidarity w/people and the planet, Eric 651-644-1173 --------12 of 15-------- The Democratic Party and the Infantile Omnipotence of The Ruling Class Within the Architecture of Denial and Duplicity by Phil Rockstroh / June 21st, 2007 Dissident Voice Why did the Democratic Congress betray the voting public? Betrayal is often a consequence of wishful thinking. It's the world's way of delivering the life lesson that it's time to shed the vanity of one's innocence and grow-the-hell-up. Apropos, here's lesson number one for political innocents: Power serves the perpetuation of power. In an era of runaway corporate capitalism, the political elite exist to serve the corporate elite. It's that simple. Why do the elites lie so brazenly? Ironically, because they believe they're entitled to, by virtue of their superior sense of morality. How did they come to this arrogant conclusion? Because they think they're better than us. If they believe in anything at all, it is this: They view us as a reeking collection of wretched, baseborn rabble, who are, on an individual level, a few billion neurons short of being governable by honest means. Yes, you read that correctly: They believe they're better than you. When they lie and flout the rules and assert that the rule of law doesn't apply to them or refuse to impeach fellow members of their political and social class who break the law - it is because they have convinced themselves it is best for society as a whole. How did they come by such self-serving convictions? The massive extent of their privilege has convinced them that they're the quintessence of human virtue, that they're the most gifted of all golden children ever kissed by the radiant light of the sun. In other words, they're the worst sort of emotionally arrested brats - spoiled children inhabiting adult bodies who mistake their feelings of infantile omnipotence for the benediction of superior ability: "I'm so special that what's good for me is good for the world," amounts to the sum total of their childish creed. In the case of narcissists such as these, over time, self-interest and systems of belief grow intertwined. Hence, within their warped, self-justifying belief systems, their actions, however mercenary, become acts of altruism. The elites don't exactly believe their own lies; rather, they proceed from the neo-con guru, Leo Strauss' dictum (the modus operandi of the ruling classes) that it is necessary to promulgate "noble lies" to society's lower orders. This sort of virtuous mendacity must be practiced, because those varieties of upright apes (you and I) must be spared the complexities of the truth; otherwise, it will cause us to grow dangerously agitated - will cause us to rattle the bars of our cages and fling poop at our betters. They believe it's better to ply us with lies because it's less trouble then having to hose us down in our filthy cages. In this way, they believe, all naked apes will have a more agreeable existence within the hierarchy-bound monkeyhouse of capitalism. This may help to better understand the Washington establishment and its courtesan punditry who serve to reinforce their ceaseless narrative of exceptionalism. This is why they've disingenuously covered up the infantilism of George W. Bush for so long: Little Dubya is the id of the ruling class made manifest - he's their troubled child, who, by his destructive actions, cracks the deceptively normal veneer of a miserable family and reveals the rot within. At a certain level, it's damn entertaining: his instability so shakes the foundation of the house that it causes the skeletons in its closets to dance. By engaging in a mode of being so careless it amounts to public immolation, these corrupt elitists are bringing the empire down. There is nothing new in this: Such recklessness is the method by which cunning strivers commit suicide. Those who take the trouble to look will apprehend the disastrous results of the ruling elites' pathology: wars of choice sold to a credulous citizenry by public relations confidence artists; a predatory economy that benefits one percent of the population; a demoralized, deeply ignorant populace who are either unaware of or indifferent to the difference between the virtues and vicissitudes of the electoral processes of a democratic republic, in contrast to the schlock circus, financed by big money corporatist, being inflicted upon us, at present. Moreover, the elitist's barriers of isolation and exclusion play out among the classes below as an idiot's mimicry of soulless gated "communities" and the pernicious craving for a vast border wall - all an imitation of the ruling classes' paranoia-driven compulsion for isolation and their narcissistic obsession with exclusivity. Perhaps, we should cover the country in an enormous sheet of cellophane and place a zip-lock seal at its southern border, or, better yet - in the interest of being more metaphorically accurate - let's simply zip the entire land mass of the U.S. into a body bag and be done with it. What will be at the root of the empire's demise? It seems the elite of the nation will succumb to "Small World Syndrome" - that malady borne of incurable careerism, a form of self-induced cretinism that reduces the vast and intricate world to only those things that advance the goals of its egoist sufferers. It is an degenerative disease that winnows down the consciousness of those afflicted to a banal nub of awareness, engendering the shallowness of character on display in the corporate media and the arrogance and cluelessness of the empire's business and political classes. It possesses a love of little but mammon; it is the myth of Midas, manifested in the hoarding of hedge funds; it is the tale of an idiot gibbering over his collection of used string. What can be done? In these dangerous times, credulousness to party dogma is as dangerous as a fundamentalist Christian's literal interpretation of The Bible: There is no need to squander the hours searching for an "intelligent design" within the architecture of denial and duplicity built into this claptrap system - a system that we have collaborated in constructing by our loyalty to political parties that are, in return, neither loyal to us nor any idea, policy nor principle that doesn't maintain the corporate status quo. Accordingly, we must make the elites of the Democratic Party accountable for their betrayal - or we ourselves will become complicit. The faith of Democratic partisans in their degraded party is analogous to Bush and his loyalists still believing they can achieve victory in Iraq and the delusion-based wing of the Republican Party who, a few years ago, clung to the belief, regardless of facts, that Terri Schiavo's brain was not irreparably damaged and she would someday rise from her hospital bed and bless the heavens for them and their unwavering devotion to her cause. Faith-based Democrats are equally as delusional. Only their fantasies don't flow from the belief in a mythical father figure, existing somewhere in the boundless sky, who scripture proclaims has a deep concern for the fate of all things, from fallen sparrows to medically manipulated stem cells; rather, their beliefs are based on the bughouse crazy notion that the elites of the Democratic Party could give a fallen sparrow's ass about the circumstances of their lives. In the same manner, I could never reconcile myself with the Judea/Christian/Islamic conception of god - some strange, invisible, "who's-your-daddy-in-the-sky," sadist - who wants me on my knees (as if I'm a performer in some kind of cosmic porno movie) to show my belief in and devotion to him - I can't delude myself into feeling any sense of devotion to the present day Democratic Party. Long ago, reason and common sense caused me to renounce the toxic tenets of organized religion. At present, I feel compelled to apply the same principles to the Democratic Party, leading me to conclude, as did Voltaire regarding the unchecked power of The Church in his day, that we must, "crush the infamous thing". Freedom begins when we free ourselves from as many illusions as possible - including dogma, clichs, cant, magical thinking, as well as blind devotion to a corrupt political class. I wrote the following, before the 2006 mid-term election: "[...] I believe, at this late hour, the second best thing that could come to pass in our crumbling republic is for the total destruction of the Democratic Party - and then from its ashes to rise a party of true progressives. "[...] I believe the best thing that could happen for our country would be for the leaders of The Republican Party - out of a deep sense of shame (as if they even possessed the capacity for such a thing) regarding the manner they have disgrace their country and themselves - to commit seppuku (the act of ritual suicide practiced by disgraced leaders in feudalist Japan) on national television. "Because there's no chance of that event coming to pass, I believe the dismantling of the Democratic Party, as we know it, is in order. It is our moribund republic's last, best hope - if any is still possible". I received quite a bit of flack from party loyalist and netroots activists that my pronouncement was premature and we should wait and see. We've waited and we've seen. Consequently, since the Republican leadership have not taken ceremonial swords in hand and disemboweled themselves on nationwide TV, it's time we pulled the plug on the Democratic Party, an entity that has only been kept alive by a corporately inserted food-tube. In my opinion, this remains the last, best hope for the living ideals of progressive governance to become part of the body politic. [Amen. -ed] Phil Rockstroh, a self-described, auto-didactic, gasbag monologist, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at philangie2000 [at] yahoo.com. Read other articles by Phil. This article was posted on Thursday, June 21st, 2007 at 4:59 am and is filed under Democrats, Capitalism, Democracy and Empire. Send to a friend. --------13 of 15-------- Flanders Fields; Aronowitz Strikes Out Who Among Us Will Step Up to Destroy the Democratic Party? By MICHAEL J. SMITH CounterPunch June 21, 2007 Stanley Aronowitz has never been a particular hero of mine, but I warmed to him a bit this week, as he nibbled at the well-turned fetlock of Laura Flanders. Now any guy who could brave the seas of matrimony in a boat with the late (and by me, unlamented) Ellen Willis has got to have more than enough dura-ilia to deal with a fetching young person from Air America. And he had the advantage of being, so to speak, of the devil's party. But it was fun to watch, in a mean-spirited way - up to a point. The occasion was a debate in New York, sponsored by Left Forum and The Nation, on that great, evergreen question, "Can progressives move the Democratic Party to the left?" Flanders has recently written a cheerful book with the slightly unappetizing title Blue Grit: True Democrats Take Back Politics From the Politicians. The burden of her song is, as she said in a recent interview, "... [G]rit, that's the stuff that gets you through, the mettle that enables you that take on tough stuff. It's also the stuff that gets in your shoe and blisters your toe. Blue Gritters, the folks I'm talking about, do both of those things for the Democratic Party: they discomfort the establishment, and I think they bring the passion to the issues that won the election last year.... I think the fact that the Democratic leadership is talking about timetables at all is a victory for the Blue Grit Democrats out there." So naturally, she took the affirmative - sorta, kinda, half-heartedly. To be sure, she didn't have a good word to say for the Democratic Party. A good thing, too, since the crowd, a half-and-half mix of grizzled old stagers and fresh-faced millennials, was clearly and overwhelmingly negative about the Party Of Clinton & Clinton, LLP. (Usually, a Left crowd in New York is full of people more dependent on the Democrats than a crackhead on his drug of choice, so the prevailing bummed-out atmosphere was intensely refreshing.) But among all her caveats about the general rottenness of the party, Flanders' essential theme was that her bluegritters shouldn't be discouraged from working in the Democratic Party. As she phrased it, with well-placed caution, "some sort-of reformists in the sort of liberal-lefty part [of the party] are having some kind of success." And alas, Aronowitz wasn't quite willing to take the last essential step and disagree with her decisively. The debate was "moderated" by Gary Younge of The Nation, whose squishy-soft and prolix questioning took on something vaguely like an edge only once, when he asked Aronowitz whether he would advise activists to "pack their bags" and abandon the Democratic Party altogether. Aronowitz, surprisingly, responded "of course not!" - surprisingly, because everything else he had to say suggested that bag-packing would be very much in order, and the sooner the better. He began by rehearsing some of his left credentials, which included helping found the Reform Democratic movement in New York City - whose greatest success, as he drily noted, was "the election of Ed Koch as Mayor." He warned activists that "You'll be taken over by the Democratic Party before you'll take it over.... I don't think another New Deal is possible. Yeah, Roosevelt was pushed from below but there was some agreement from the top. Now there's not. They'd rather bash people on the head. They've embraced repression now, not legitimation.... The peace movement is wimpy because they're tied hand and foot to the Democrats.... Bill Clinton was the best Republican president of the century!" Against this rehearsal of indicative-mood history, Flanders took refuge, as defense of the Democrats always does, in the subjunctive: "We wouldn't have had the criminalization of pregnancy under a Democratic president - the Labor Department wouldn't be used as a weapon against the labor movement." Aronowitz replied by quoting Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor, Bobby Reich, questioning whether labor unions were "still necessary." Asked by moderator Younge, in another rare moment of directness, whether he wouldn't prefer to see a Democratic president in 2008, Aronowitz got quite a laugh by replying, "Of course - because he won't do anything! I'm all for gridlock!" Flanders rather hotly replied that she wasn't for gridlock - "I want troops out of Iraq, I want universal health care." Unfortunately, Younge did not ask her what connection there might be between these good things and a Democratic president. Perhaps that would have been immoderate. Maybe that was the problem: the moderation quotient was way too high. Flanders was ready to agree with any bad thing anybody might say about the Democratic Party, except that activists ought to be working night and day to destroy it - and Aronowitz was unwilling to say that. He didn't say that working within the Democratic Party is a deadly, damning error. He didn't call it the graveyard of activists, though no doubt he's heard that old truism before. He didn't say that the Democratic party absorbs the energies of left-wing activists and turns those energies against the activists' own purposes - though I bet he would agree with the proposition. He should have been like the sepulchral voice in The Amityville Horror, hollowly booming "Get oooout!" - but alas, he wasn't. Flanders took the 'pro,' moderately, but Aronowitz moderately didn't quite take the 'con'. So though it was fun for a while, and a great deal of well-deserved and enjoyable abuse was poured on the dear old donkeys' heads, there was a slight feeling of coitus-interruptus at the end of the evening. Perhaps we should blame the Upas-tree influence of The Nation magazine, breathing its long-brewed suffocating vapors into the already mephitic Manhattan air. I wonder how many of those disgruntled old veterans and peppery youths in the audience will trudge reluctantly into the shambles of '08 behind some Judas-goat from the Democratic Party. Oh Laura, so fresh, so fair, why must you be among them? And oh Stanley - you might have saved a few! Michael J. Smith lives in New York and labors night and day to destroy the Democratic Party on his blog, stopmebeforeivoteagain.org. --------14 of 15-------- A Direction Not a Destination The Last Sunday? By ROBERT JENSEN CounterPunch June 21, 2007 As we were setting up for an early Last Sunday gathering, a longtime participant in local progressive politics asked me, bluntly, "What's your agenda with this?" I offered the event's mission statement: We hoped to create a space in which people could get together to face honestly deepening economic, political, cultural, and ecological crises; existing political and religious institutions are inadequate to cope with these cascading crises; the goal was a "progressive space" that would raise issues, without channeling people into a particular movement or party. We weren't creating an organization but offering a place for networking. She smiled, explained that she knew our public line, and instead wanted the "real" agenda. Sorry, no hidden agendas, I said. Her response: "I don't believe you would do this without an agenda." Skepticism about political motives is understandable. Nevertheless, Eliza Gilkyson (a singer-songwriter), Jim Rigby (Presbyterian pastor), and I (professor/activist) concocted Last Sunday with the goal of making a modest contribution to community-building. We knew many people who yearned for a place to combine interests in progressive politics beyond the electoral arena, spirituality beyond traditional churches, and music beyond concerts and bars. So, like politicized, middle-aged versions of the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland gang in old MGM musicals, we figured, "Let's put on a show!" After a run of Last Sundays (held at Saengerrunde Hall on the last Sundays of the month, from November 2006 to April 2007), we have taken a break, to assess the experiment and evaluate feedback. And we've concluded the project was a great success and a huge failure. The success came in presenting relevant information, provocative analysis, and good music to audiences from 300 to 500 people, on subjects ranging from race relations in our largely segregated city to U.S. domination of the world. Highlights included a UT-Austin economist's discussion of the economics of climate change and an explanation by Workers Defense Project organizers and clients of how immigrant workers are sometimes cheated by employers out of hard-earned wages. The failure was that we didn't help the audience become more than an audience, during or after the event, but in that failure were useful lessons about contemporary politics. The following observations are drawn from written suggestions after each event, conversations with people at Last Sunday, and comments during the discussion at the final gathering in April. 1) There Is No Choir Common in progressive circles is the imperative to get beyond "preaching to the choir." Last Sunday showed the problem with that truism. There is no choir - if by "choir" we mean organized people facing these cascading crises with a coherent ideological framework. There is a disparate group of liberals and leftists with some common policy goals but no common analysis. At Last Sunday, we weren't claiming to have the grand plan but simply suggesting that extensive conversation that challenges the conventional wisdom is necessary. A few questions sharpen this point: Is corporate capitalism compatible with real democracy? Can we continue to believe (or pretend) the Democratic Party is a vehicle for progressive politics? How many who opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq are willing to condemn the bipartisan nature of U.S. empire-building? What kind of future does an increasingly pornographic culture offer? What is the connection between the U.S. middle class' consumption and the ecological crisis? Raise those questions in left/liberal circles, and it's clear that the members of the choir are singing from dramatically different hymnals. [There is no choir - I have found this to be true in the left circles I'm in in the Twin Cities. Very little study of left political theory, of past US history of ruling class crimes, government repression of the left (eg COINTELPRO), the systematic betraytal of progressive issues and parties by Dem pols and hacks... And thus we are MUCH less radical (to the root) than we should be. -ed] 2) Looking Beyond 'Fun' While avoiding apocalyptic fantasies, we wanted to confront not-so-pleasant realities: The U.S. economy is a house of cards built on deficit and debt, in our so-called democracy the majority of people feel shut out of policy formation, the Iraq war is not a break from post-World War II U.S. history but merely a particularly disastrous episode, white supremacy and patriarchy still structure our hierarchical society, and the "normal" operation of our society undermines ecosystems' capacities to sustain life. Living comfortably in the midst of unprecedented first-world affluence feels like being a drunk waking up after a bender. Gilkyson captured this in new songs that resonated with folks - "Runaway Train," "The Party's Over," and "The Great Correction." Views vary widely about how dire the situation is and what that means politically and emotionally, as was captured by two comments during the final Last Sunday discussion. One person asked whether this kind of political engagement couldn't be made more fun, a comment that drew both applause and sighs of frustration; another responded that problems this serious shouldn't be papered over. No one suggests that political work - even addressing the grimmest realities - must be depressing. There can be joy in struggle. After the final Last Sunday, a young man told me that he wasn't put off by the blunt talk. "This is one of the few places where I hear people talking about the way I feel," he said. "It's not about fun - it's about what's happening." If our systems are unsustainable in economic, cultural, political, and ecological terms, how do we make confronting that "fun"? 3) The Problem With Solutions A common complaint about Last Sunday was that it focused too much on problems, not solutions. That marked another split in the audience between a) focusing on short-term actions to influence public policy and b) thinking about more fundamental changes for which there's no short-term strategy. Consider the dual problems of oil - we're running out, and burning what's left accelerates rapid climate change. A demand for solutions that would allow us to maintain our lifestyles can lead to the corporate boondoggle of corn-based ethanol or the hazy illusions around biodiesel, instead of confronting a troubling reality: There's no viable alternative to petroleum for an unsustainable, car-based transportation system. So what are the realistic "solutions," other than to radically curtail the way we move ourselves about? The fact is that we can't go to some of the places we now go and can't do some of the things we now do. Sometimes truly facing a problem is to recognize that it has no solution without a dramatic refashioning of the context in which we try to solve it. Some at Last Sunday found that depressing; others said they felt a sense of relief. 4) Individuals in Systems Rigby anchored Last Sunday with talks that always managed to bring together the disparate threads of each event. Drawing on secular philosophy and theology - avoiding dogma and doctrine - he came back, over and over, to a basic point: We may be decent people, acting compassionately in our daily lives, but when we live in unjust hierarchical systems, being decent day to day isn't enough. No matter what the specific topic of any Last Sunday, we tried to keep this in the foreground: We live in an imperial society structured by a predatory corporate capitalism, with identities shaped by white supremacy and patriarchy, in a technological fundamentalist society dominated by the faith that we can invent our way out of an ecological crisis. Rigby provided Last Sunday's prophetic voice, in the Old Testament sense of the term, not predicting the future but calling out the corruption of the society while maintaining faith in humans' ability to reach down to the better part of our nature, past the greed to the core of a common humanity. Individual responsibility means not simply doing the best one can in the world we're given but being willing to take risks to change that world. 5) A Direction, Not a Destination This kind of political and spiritual program attempts to suggest a general direction, not dictate a specific destination. Once we grasp that capitalism is an unsustainable system, inconsistent with our desire for democracy and our struggles for solidarity in community, what's the next step? The Last Sunday answer was: forward. We don't need a fully formed alternative to capitalism to take steps to create an alternative. Strengthening unions and fostering cooperatives, challenging corporations' right to define not only our economy but our identities, demanding a more just distribution of the world's resources, and reducing our own addiction to the cheap toys dangled in front of us - all are ways we can act. And we must keep talking. One of the clearest lessons from Last Sunday is that many people lack a place to listen, learn, and talk about new ideas. That was Last Sunday's clearest failure - we never found a formula for making the gathering more of a conversation than a series of lectures and performances. Out of a fear of seeing the program devolve into unstructured talk, we erred toward tight control. But many said the most successful program was the one that opened up that format for more interaction in the discussion of climate change. Future efforts have to better balance people's desire to react and engage with the need to control a program so that the loud and long-winded don't take over. The Future of Last Sunday The consensus at the end of April's gathering was that Last Sunday should continue. Less clear was how that will happen, how the gathering should be structured, and toward what end a permanent Last Sunday might be directed. There are difficult questions unresolved, most notably whether the event could become more inclusive. Although the program from the stage was diverse in racial, ethnic, and gender terms, the audience was disproportionately white, middle-class, and older. Could Last Sunday become a space that reflects all of Austin? Can we go beyond the groups in which we feel comfortable? Last Sunday was an ad hoc project that remained fluid; various people pitched in to handle the organizing tasks. We deliberately didn't create a new organization or build a new web site, opting instead to use the communication tools of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center www.thirdcoastactivist.org and the NOWAR e-mail list). Decision-making was collaborative, in a small group. The options? Last Sunday could remain ad hoc but with broader participation, or a formal group could be created to run the event. Or, of course, the event could end its run, giving way to other forums. The original conveners don't claim to know the best route, nor do we want to claim ownership. The event demonstrated people's interest, and now the task is to figure out whether that interest can be translated into ongoing community. Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center. He is the author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007); The Heart of Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege (City Lights Books, 2005); Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (City Lights Books, 2004); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang, 2001). He can be reached at <mailto:rjensen [at] uts.cc.utexas.edu>rjensen [at] uts.cc.utexas.edu. --------15 of 15-------- SICKO, Part One The Human Tragedy By ROBERT WEISSMAN CounterPunch June 20, 2007 When word got out that Michael Moore was working on a movie with the working title SiCKO, about the U.S. healthcare industry, the industry went bananas. Memos started shooting around, warning insurance and drug company executives and representatives to keep looking over their shoulders, to make sure they avoided being ambushed by Moore and a camera crew. Indeed, they had something to fear, for they have a great deal of needless misery and suffering to answer for. But it turns out that Moore didn't need them after all. Instead, he's made a movie driven by heart-breaking story after heart-breaking story. SiCKO presents a devastating indictment of the U.S. healthcare system by letting victimized patients speak for themselves. When Moore announced on his web page that he was doing a movie about outrages in the U.S. healthcare system and was looking for examples, he was flooded with 25,000 responses. He profiles Dawnelle, whose 18-month-old daughter Michelle died because her health plan, Kaiser, insisted Michelle not be treated at the hospital to which an ambulance had taken her, but instead be transferred to a Kaiser hospital. Fifteen minutes after arriving at the next hospital, Michelle died, probably from a bacterial infection that could have been treated with antibiotics. Julie, who works at a hospital, explains how her insurance plan refused to authorize a bone marrow transplant recommended for her cancer-riven husband. He died quickly. Larry and Donna, a late-middle-age couple, find that co-payments and deductibles for treatment after Donna has cancer add up to such a burden that they have to sell their house and move into a small room in their adult daughter's house. The day they move into their daughter's house, her husband leaves to work as a contractor in Iraq. Moore's camera captures the pain, chaos and forced indignity imposed upon every day people who do their best to deal with an impossible situation. Moore's web page announcement also attracted responses from hundreds of employees in the health insurance industry, explaining how their jobs forced them to do things of which they were ashamed. Lee, a former industry employee whose job was to find ways to deny or rescind coverage for healthcare, explains how hard insurers work to deny care, searching for any pretense. About denials of care and coverage, he says, "It is not unintentional. It is not a mistake. It is not somebody slipping through the cracks. Somebody made that crack, and swept you to it." Becky, another industry employee, says through tears that she's a "bitch" on the phone with clients because she doesn't want to know anything about their families or personal situations -- that knowledge makes the inevitable denial of care too hard to stomach. And Dr. Linda Peeno, a former medical reviewer for Humana, testifies before a Congressional committee in 1996 that her denial of needed treatment to a patient led to the patient's death. "I am here," she told the committee, "primarily today to make a public confession. In the spring of 1987 as a physician, I denied a man a necessary operation that would have saved his life and thus caused his death. No person and no group has held me accountable for this. Because, in fact, what I did was I saved a company a half a million dollars with this." With some exceptions, SiCKO's victims aren't people without insurance. As Moore narrates, the movie is instead about the travails of the 250 million people in the United States with insurance. There are some in the movie without insurance, however. A hospital places a destitute and disoriented woman in a taxicab, which drives away and literally dumps her on the street, near a shelter. Rich, who has no insurance, has an accident in which he saws off the tips of two fingers. He is told sewing the ring fingertip back on will cost $12,000. The middle finger will cost $60,000. "Being a hopeless romantic," Moore narrates, Rich chooses the ring finger. The publicity for SiCKO says the movie sticks to Michael Moore's "tried-and-true one-man approach" and "promises to be every bit as indicting as Moore's previous films." This is actually somewhat misleading. The approach is a little different. There's humor, but there aren't many gimmicks in SiCKO. There's no effort by Moore to confront industry executives. Moore himself has a much smaller role than in previous films. It is also a bit deceptive -- as an understatement -- to say SiCKO is as indicting as Moore's previous films. No matter how big a fan you may have been of Moore's earlier movies, you'll find that SiCKO cuts deeper and is more powerful and profound. SiCKO is, by far, his best movie. This is, simply, a masterful work. It is deeply respectful of and compassionate towards the victims. It seethes with outrage, but its fury is conveyed by all of the horrifying stories it presents. The narrative is, by and large, understated. It overflows with raw emotion, but manages to explain clearly the systemic imperatives that lead the richest nation in the history of the world to fail so miserably at delivering healthcare to all. Could things be different in the United States? Yes. The second half of SiCKO looks at other countries' healthcare systems, and finds that national, single-payer insurance delivers far better care. More on this in my next column. Sneak previews for SiCKO are being shown around the United States on June 23. The movie opens nationally on June 29. Be ready to be driven to tears and rage. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor and director of Essential Action. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - 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 To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney
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