|Progressive Calendar 12.16.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2008 04:56:01 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 12.14.08 1. RNC call-ins 12.16 9am 2. RNC court watch 12.16 6pm 3. Green jobs 12.16 6:30pm 4. Xmas stories/poems 12.16 6:30pm 5. Holiday eco party 12.16 6:30pm 6. Maquiladora/film 12.16 7pm 7. New Orleans/return 12.16 7pm 8. Artists/COMPAS 12.17 6pm 9. Worker resistance 12.17 7pm 10. Jesus buy?/film 12.17 8pm 11. John Mearsheimer - Invoking the holocaust to defend the occupation 12. Remi Kanazi - The failed logic of supporting the troops 13. James Keye - The mad minority 14. Paul Street - The "Wait 'til he gets in" delusion 15. ed - Hope (poem) --------1 of 15-------- Subject: RNC call-ins 12.16 9am Protests planned for RNC protester trials starting Monday By Chris Steller, Minnesota Independent December 15, 2008 Trials beginning Monday for protesters at September's Republican National Convention will themselves be protested in a variety of ways over the next few days. A new coalition called Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure - or CRASS - plans to pack courtrooms with supporters and rally against St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman today. CRASS has also called for a two-day call-in on Tuesday and Wednesday to Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner - whose gubernatorial campaign fund-raiser the group protested earlier this month - to demand that she drop charges against the RNC8, eight arrestees facing felony charges whose next consolidated court date is Wednesday afternoon. CRASS tells the Minnesota Independent that trials start this week for Vernon Rodrigues (felony); Shannon Alsup, Ashley Majer, Lisa Mirkovich, Loren Yglecias (gross misdemeanors); and Jared Collins, Leif Johnson, Thomas Kamen and Andrew Wilson (misdemeanors). The protest against Coleman was at 4:30pm Monday at Mancini's Steak House, 531 W. Seventh St., St. Paul. The call-in to Gaertner's office is set for 9am-5pm Tuesday and 8am-1pm Wednesday. That effort leads up to the next court date for the eight people arrested before the convention began who are known as the RNC8: Luce Guillen Givins, Max Specktor, Nathanael Secor, Eryn Trimmer, Monica Bicking, Erik Oseland, Robert Czernik and Garrett Fitzgerald. CRASS describes itself as "non-hierarchical coalition of RNC arrestees and community allies" that includes Coldsnap Legal Collective, Friends of the RNC 8, the National Lawyers Guild - Minnesota, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Anti-War Committee, Twin Cities Indymedia, and Veterans for Peace. On Friday, Joe Robinson received the first RNC protester felony sentence - a $100 fine and 100 hours of community service - from Ramsey County District Court Judge Salvador Rosas, who is assigned to hear the RNC8 case on Wednesday --------2 of 15-------- From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at] gmail.com> Subject: RNC court watch 12.16 6pm RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing court information, documentation and etc. RNC Court Watchers Meetings are every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this intimidation, harassment and abuse! Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent people. Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55405 Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M participate and help organize RNC court solidarity. For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at] gmail.com THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! --------3 of 15-------- From: Maura Brown and Jennifer Jimenez-Wheatley Subject: Green jobs 12.16 6:30pm Alliance for Metropolitan Stability How do you grow the economy and ensure thousands of JOBS for Minnesotans? H.I.R.E Minnesota (Healthcare, Infrastructure, and Renewable Energy) Town Hall Meeting Tuesday, December 16 6:30-8:00 pm Minneapolis Urban League 2100 Plymouth Avenue N, Minneapolis, MN 55411 As America rebuilds its economy, green industries will be a major factor in creating jobs and refueling our economic growth: * Governor Tim Pawlenty wants $3.65 million in tax breaks for companies investing in Minnesota green jobs from 2010-2011 * President-elect Barack Obama wants 10 percent of electricity to come from energy-efficient sources by 2010 and 1 million homes in low-income neighborhoods It makes sense! Smart green investments in infrastructure will * JUMP-START our ECONOMY, * CREATE and PRESERVE millions of JOBS * REDUCE our OIL DEPENDENCY and * EASE the CLIMATE CRISIS JOIN the conversation!! BE Heard! BE Involved! Come and learn about green collar jobs and local construction opportunities in our communities Light dinner will be served and there will be musical entertainment RSVP online to let the Alliance know you're coming H.I.R.E. Minnesota is a coalition of community groups led by the Summit Academy OIC (SAOIC). Coalition members include: American Indian OIC, East Metro OIC, Anishinabe OIC, Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota, Minnesota Baptist Convention, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Stairstep, ISAIAH, Insight News. For more information on the campaign, read the recent article in the Insight News. Maura Brown and Jennifer Jimenez-Wheatley Alliance for Metropolitan Stability 2525 E Franklin Avenue, Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55406 --------4 of 15-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Xmas stories/poems 12.16 6:30pm This Tuesday, Dec. 16 come to the salon and bring any short Christmas stories or poems (or share some simple recipes). If you have any old funny papers or old wrapping paper bring along so we can recycle gift paper for our Christmas gifts. A hot cup of tea or coffee or hot chocolate will taste good. Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) are held (unless otherwise noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 W 7th, St Paul, MN Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information. --------5 of 15-------- From: Do It Green! Minnesota <Do_It_Green_Minnesota [at] mail.vresp.com> Subject: Holiday eco party 12.16 6:30pm Reminder 12/16 7pm Join us for warm food, drinks and people! Warm up those fingers and toes on these chilly days at Do It Green! Minnesota's HOLIDAY ECO PARTY this Tuesday! Join the Holiday Eco Party with Do It Green! Minnesota, Eco Tuesday's and Twin Cities Green - Tues, Dec 16th Do It Green! Resource Center inside Twin Cities Green retail store 2405 Hennepin Ave S, Mpls Tues, Dec 16 6:30pm/speakers begin at 7:00pm EcoParty Twin Cities! Gather during this holiday season with other Eco-minded individuals to learn more sustainable business practices and tips. This month's event will be hosted at the best Minnesota last minute gift-shop, Twin Cities Green. Receive a 10% off discount during the event at TC Green when you bring in a canned good to donate! *Neeley Crane Smith with share on energy efficient business practices. *Learn how to dazzle yourself up in an Eco-way for the holidays from Kassie, the owner of a great local organic salon: Kasia Organic Salon. *Vegan Cookie demo with one of the owners of St. Paul's, "Two Smart Cookies." *DoItGreen's Ami Voeltz will do a demo on low waste for a truly EcoHoliday. *Sign up your business as a team on the MN Energy Challenge Website and get a free compact fluorescent lightbulb! *Drink a hot cup of Peace Coffee *Taste Local samplings of delicious holiday gathering options. --------6 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Maquiladora/film 12.16 7pm Tuesday, 12/16, 7 pm, MN Advocates for Human Rights sponsors free film "Maquilapolis: City of Factories," about the big environmental, economic and human rights problems surrounding Tijuana's maquiladoras and two women trying to organize there, Riverview Library, 1 E George St, St Paul. http://www.mnadvocates.org --------7 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: New Orleans/return 12.16 7pm Tuesday, 12/16, 7 pm, Mennonite Central Committee central states exec John Stoesz speaks on "Everyone has the right to Return," concerning work in New Orleans, Faith Mennonite Church, 2720 E 22nd St, Mpls. 612-521-1889. >From shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu Tue Dec 16 04:09:13 2008 Date: Fri, 5 Dec 2008 00:19:04 -0600 (CST) From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> To: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: [StPaul-AN] Opportunities for Artists with COMPAS (fwd) --------8 of 15-------- From: Betsy Mowry <betsy.mowry [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Artists/COMPAS 12.17 6pm COMPAS invites creative individuals of all backgrounds and disciplines to serve as teaching artists in schools and in the community. The two programs COMPAS offers are Writers & Artists in the Schools (WAITS) and Global Arts & Culture. Each program will be discussed at an informational meeting hosted by the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT). Arts Education Associate Betsy Mowry will talk about what the rosters are, what it means to be a teaching artist and how to apply for COMPAS openings. The meeting will allow artists to speak with Betsy about their art form, ask questions and set up individual appoints to discuss the application. Individuals or organizations may attend. Wednesday, December 17, 6:00-7:00 p.m. The Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT) 995 University Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104 RSVP's are nice but not required Contact Betsy Mowry at 651-292-3259 or betsy [at] compas.org if you wish to RSVP or if you have questions. --------9 of 15-------- From: MN Socialist Alternative <mn [at] socialistalternative.org> Subject: Worker resistance 12.17 7pm The Chicago Factory Occupation and the Future of Workers' Resistance Wednesday, December 17 7pm, Board Room, 3rd Floor, Coffman Memorial Union, University of Minnesota Speaker: Ryan Timlin, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 (personal capacity) On the afternoon of Friday, December 5, the roughly 250 workers at Chicago's Republic Window and Door factory were told that the factory was closing down and that they would be laid off on only 3 days notice, and illegally denied the roughly $1.5 million of vacation and severance pay owed by the company. The owners claimed they had to close because Bank of America, which has received $25 billion in bailout money from the government, refused to extend them any more credit. Instead of accepting this, the workers decided to occupy the plant. Their action made headline news across the country, becoming a symbol of the mounting anger in U.S. society at the bailout for banks, carried out on the backs of the working class. After a 6-day occupation, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase agreed to pay $1.75 million to the workers to cover the money they were owed. The past week has also witnessed massive protests in Greece, including a general strike, a vote to join a union at the world's largest meatpacking plant in North Carolina, and an attempt by the auto companies and U.S. government to force historic concessions upon the United Auto Workers. Come to a discussion on these events and the future for workers in the U.S. and around the world, and how we can build a fightback to corporate domination. A Socialist Alternative Forum Contact us and find out more at www.SocialistMinnesota.org www.SocialistAlternative.org --------10 of 15-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Jesus buy?/film 12.17 8pm In honor of Christmas, Casket Cinema presents our next film screening, new holiday classic from last year "What Would Jesus Buy?". A docu-spiritual on the Rev. Billy as he tours America to preach the gospel of anti-consumerism. So come on down! to convert your credit card to Billy's church of Stop Shopping! Doors at 7:30, film at 8pm, please BYOB and your $5 donation will go towards a TBD local charity for the less fortunate. Conversation will follow with special guests tbd. http://www.wwjbmovie.com This is our casual xmas party too, so come on down and have some of my homemade egg nogg! Casket Cinema at Studio 145 681 17th Ave NE #145 Minneapolis, Minnesota 55413 (612)781-5223 As always enter in the NE Loading Dock door and please RSVP with a reply to this email or if you want to get fancy, go to http://wwjb.bravenewtheaters.com/screening/show/11973-minneapolis (this website also has easy maps/directions) --------11 of 15-------- Invoking the Holocaust to Defend the Occupation By John Mearsheimer 10 December 2008 moderator [at] PORTSIDE.ORG A Review of 'The Holocaust is Over: We Must Rise from its Ashes' by Avraham Burg. http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2008/12/10/john-mearsheimer-invoking-the-holocaust-to-defend-the-occuption/ For American readers, the great virtue of Avraham Burg's important new book is that he says things about Israel and the Jewish people that are hardly ever heard in mainstream discourse in the United States. It is hard to believe how stunted and biased the coverage of Israel is in the American media, not to mention the extent to which our politicians have perfected the art of pandering to the Jewish state. The situation got so bad in the recent presidential campaign that journalists Jeffrey Goldberg and Shmuel Rosner - both staunch defenders of Israel - wrote pieces titled "Enough about Israel Already." Let's hope that The Holocaust is Over is widely read and discussed, because it makes arguments that need to be heard and considered by Americans of all persuasions, but especially by those who feel a deep attachment to Israel. The fact that Burg wrote this book also matters greatly. He cannot be easily dismissed as a self-hating Jew or a crank, as he comes from a prominent Israeli family and has been deeply involved in mainstream Israeli politics for much of his adult life. Moreover, he clearly loves Israel. Burg makes many smart points in his book, but I would like to focus on what I take to be his central arguments. His core message is that Israel is in serious trouble at home and there is good reason to think that things could go horribly wrong in the future. He emphasizes that Israel has changed greatly since 1948. He quotes his mother on this point: "This country is not the country that we built. We founded a different country in 1948, but I don't know where it's disappeared." Israel today, he writes, "is frighteningly similar to the countries we never wanted to resemble." Talking about Israel's shift to the right over time, he makes the eye-popping observation that "Jews and Israelis have become thugs." Burg makes it clear that he is not equating Israel's past behavior with what happened in Nazi Germany, but he does see disturbing similarities between Israel and "the Germany that preceded Hitler." This raises the obvious question: could Israel end up going on a murderous rampage against the Palestinians? Burg thinks it is possible. He writes, "The notion that this cannot happen to us because our history as persecuted people makes us immune to hatred and racism is very dangerous. A look inside Israel shows that the erosion has begun." He even raises the possibility that there might be a civil war inside Israel, which "will be not a war between members of the Jewish people of different shades of beliefs, but an uncompromising struggle between good people and bad people anywhere." Burg is aware that many American Jews will dismiss his arguments because they are so at odds with the picture of Israel that they have in their heads. Accordingly, he reminds the reader: "I come from there, and my friends and relatives are still there. I listen to their talk, know their ambitions, and feel their heartbeats. I know where they are headed." And where they might be headed worries him greatly. Again, he fears that Israel will end up following in the footsteps of Germany, where "slow processes altered the perception of reality to the degree that insanity became the norm, and then we were exterminated. It happened in the land of poets and philosophers. There it was possible, and here too, in the land of the prophets. The establishment of a state run by rabbis and generals is not an impossible nightmare. I know how difficult this comparison is, but please open your ears, eyes, and hearts." Many American Jews think that Israel is in trouble today because of anti-Semitism or because it is surrounded by dangerous adversaries who threaten Israel's very existence. Israelis themselves, Burg reminds us, love to emphasize that "the entire world is against us." He dismisses these wrongheaded beliefs: "Today we are armed to the teeth, better equipped than any other generation in Jewish history. We have a tremendous army, an obsession with security, and the safety net of the United States ... Anti-Semitism seems ridiculous, even innocuous compared with the strength of the Jewish people of today." For Burg, Israel's troubles are self-inflicted. Specifically, he maintains that the principal cause of Israel's problems is the legacy of the Holocaust, which has become omnipresent in Israeli life. "Not a day passes," he writes, "without a mention of the Shoah in the only newspaper I read, Ha'aretz." Indeed, Israeli children are taught in school that "we are all Shoah survivors." The result is that Israelis (and most American Jews for that matter) cannot think straight about the world around them. They think that everyone is out to get them, and that the Palestinians are hardly any different than the Nazis. Given this despairing perspective, Israelis believe that almost any means is justified to counter their enemies. The implication of Burg's argument is that if there was less emphasis on the Holocaust, Israelis would change their thinking about "others" in fundamental ways and this would allow them to reach a settlement with the Palestinians and lead a more peaceful and decent life. There is some truth in this defensive psychological argument, but Burg also provides much evidence for a different interpretation of how the Holocaust relates to Israeli life. In particular, he shows that Israeli society is plagued with a host of serious problems that are threatening to tear it apart and that the Holocaust is a "tool at the service of the Jewish people," which they use to protect Israel from criticism and to keep those centrifugal forces at bay. He identifies three basic problems: 1) Israelis are badly divided among themselves; "the Jewish world always had colossal disputes between colossal figures"; 2) the grave danger that large numbers of Israelis will emigrate to Europe and North America; and 3) the Occupation, which has had a corrupting effect on Israeli society and has drawn criticism from all around the globe. Playing the Holocaust card, Burg shows, is thought to be the best way to deal with these problems. He quotes the Israeli writer, Boaz Evron, to make this point: the Shoah "is our main asset nowadays. This is the only thing by which we try to unify the Jews. This is the only way to scare Israelis into not emigrating. This is the only thing by which they try to silence the gentiles." Of course, there is another instrument that Israel and its defenders frequently employ, which is the charge of anti-Semitism. To take my instrumentalist argument a step further, Burg provides evidence that the main reason that Israelis and their supporters constantly invoke the Holocaust is because of the Occupation, and the horrible things that Israel has done and continues to do to the Palestinians. The Shoah is the weapon that Israelis and their supporters in the Diaspora use to fend off criticism and to allow Israel to continue committing crimes against the Palestinians. Burg writes: "All is compared to the Shoah, dwarfed by the Shoah, and therefore all is allowed - be it fences, sieges, crowns, curfews, food and water deprivation, or unexplained killings. All is permitted because we have been through the Shoah and you will not tell us how to behave." The best evidence that Israel's obsession with the Holocaust is linked with the Occupation is found in Burg's discussion of the evolution of Israeli thinking about the Holocaust itself. He shows clearly that Israeli thinking about the Shoah has varied considerably over time. The leaders of the Yishuv "did very little in response to the annihilation of Europe's Jews" when it was happening. "They did not want to waste emotional resources that could otherwise be channeled into building the Jewish state." Moreover, Israelis did not focus much attention on the Holocaust in the first decade or so after 1948 and they showed surprisingly little sympathy for the survivors who came to Israel after the war. But all that changed in the 1960s, starting with the Eichmann trial, but picking up a head of steam after Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 and began the Occupation. "To understand the wrong turn we took," he writes, "we need to go back to the 1960s, the Eichmann trial, the Six-Day War, and all that lies in between." He goes even further and notes that the 1990s - and remember that the First Intifada broke out in December 1987 - was the "decade of transition from the mythology of the early state to the obsessive journeys to the scene of the crime." The pattern seems clear: the Holocaust has been the main weapon that Israelis (and their supporters abroad) have employed to provide cover for the horrors Israel has inflicted on the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. All of this is to say that the best way to rescue Israel from its plight is not simply to get beyond the Holocaust, but to end the Occupation. Then, the need to talk incessantly about the Holocaust will be greatly reduced and Israel will be a much healthier and secure country. Sadly, there is no end in sight to the Occupation, and thus we are likely to hear more, not less, about the Holocaust in years ahead. --------12 of 15-------- The Failed Logic of Supporting the Troops by Remi Kanazi December 15th, 2008 Dissident Voice In the United States, a growing number of leftists are voicing their opposition to the Israeli occupation. They condemn the demolition of homes, the jailing of Palestinians without charge, and the confiscation of Palestinian land for settlements. They don't support the Israeli troops or their mission, nor do they give a free pass to those who are just "doing what they are told". Nonetheless, many of these same individuals support the US troops in Iraq. Dangerously, most Americans put forth the notion that the troops' intrinsic heroism provides them with the impunity to destroy any bogeymen who stand in their way, cultivating a code of silence that strongly discourages dissent. It is under this premise that we support our "brave" and "noble" soldiers: we know their stories well, they miss their families, they are "just like us," and we should respect their service. While one may comprehend the mindset of the troops, this understanding does not validate support for them. If the invasion of Iraq, the mission, and the occupation as stated policy are all wrong, then support for the armed forces carrying out the mission must also be wrong. US soldiers are not a monolith and nearly everyone would argue that the majority of the troops are "good people". Yet, our emotional inclinations and the societal norm that tells us troops are good like bumper sticker slogans shouldn't serve as justification for supporting them and, by extension, the mission they are carrying out. We are led to believe that a soldier can either serve out the rest of his tour or be branded a disgrace and imprisoned for becoming a conscientious objector. In reality the choice is much starker: a soldier can refuse to serve or contribute to the death of a million Iraqis. When people invoke the hardships our troops face, I think of the dead Iraqi mother, the splattered torsos painting the pavement, and the .50 caliber bullets that have hollowed out the bodies of Iraqi children. Each American has a distinct face and a tale that chokes us up, but our government and media have systematically dehumanized another people, whittling their presence in the world down to a nuisance that drains our budget, as though Iraq is a welfare state that strips our society of health care, education, and gas for cross country vacations. Iraq is not Lehman Brothers pillaging our economy. Yet, even many self-described progressives deride the Iraqi people for their $79 billion surplus but make no mention of the fact that they lack proper access to electricity; Baghdad is still one of the most dangerous cities in the world, and stability is nowhere in sight. Furthermore, a growing number among the mainstream left discuss Iraq in terms of "our" interests, criticizing the so-called ineptness of Iraqis and their unwillingness to embrace democracy (democracy that was never truly offered), all while five million have been made refugees, Baghdad has been cleansed of Sunnis, and each child, father, and mother live with horror stories we wouldn't wish upon our worst enemies. This is the result and reality of US occupation. The assertion that troops are "just following orders" and that it is impossible to refuse once enlisted rings hollow. The US has not implemented a draft; on the contrary, each soldier chooses to fight in Iraq on behalf of the American government. This should not be applauded, nor should it be respected. Real courage would be abandoning this war - against orders, against the US administration - as a number of US soldiers have done (a phenomenon ignored by the mainstream media). Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia is a well known conscientious objector who served nine months in prison for refusing to return to Iraq. In a 2005 article on AlterNet, Mejia wrote: I say without any pride that I did my job as a soldier. I commanded an infantry squad in combat and we never failed to accomplish our mission. But those who called me a coward, without knowing it, are also right. I was a coward not for leaving the war, but for having been a part of it in the first place. Refusing and resisting this war was my moral duty, a moral duty that called me to take a principled action. I failed to fulfill my moral duty as a human being and instead I chose to fulfill my duty as a soldier. Perhaps most importantly, many people fail to make the connection that supporting the troops enables the war and presents people who are against the occupation with a false reality: the ability to support the troops while rejecting the mission. Standing in solidarity with the troops facilitates funding for the occupation; it redresses the "intrinsic nobility" of the soldier, which further weakens congressmen who rhetorically reject the war, but support it through their votes. Occupation is dirty, and so too are the people who employ it. Following orders should not replace humanitarian law, and the excuse shouldn't serve to satisfy our consciences. We are asked to support US troops when logic is absent. We look at the troops as victims who are forced to do things they would not otherwise do; we give them immunity and their crimes become unseen collateral damage. Yet, Iraqis are not monsters; they are the victims that face the gun's barrel. We should only support the troops as much as we support this war. Anything less supports the victimizer and not the victim. Further articles on the illogic of blindly supporting troops, read: American Violence in Iraq: Necrophilia or Savagery?. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, & Part 5 by Kim Petersen and B.J. Sabri and "DON'T Support Our Troops (Inform Them)" by Mickey Z. Remi Kanazi is a Palestinian-American poet and writer based in New York City. He is the co-founder of PoeticInjustice.net and the editor of the forthcoming anthology of poetry, Poets for Palestine. He can be contacted at Remroum [at] gmail.com. --------13 of 15-------- The Mad Minority by James Keye December 15th, 2008 Dissident Voice Without getting too much into the subtleties of the thing, a democracy functions on the will of the majority mediated by legal design. In a "fair" and practical democracy the majority protects its minority members with laws designed to protect behaviors without recourse to the majority or minority status of the actor. However, since the majority on any one issue can "win" in both legal terms and often in power terms, minorities create ways of coping with their lower power status; that is, all minorities save one: the wealth addicted, including certain other forms of social pathology and the "society" of privilege that forms around them. They reject the lower power status inherent in being a small percentage of the population by creating ways of controlling the political process with other means than openly stating their interests and having them judged by the body politic. It is an obvious strategy: if you are only 3 to 5% of the people and you have competing interests, then doing whatever it takes to get a 51% measurement of the vote is clearly a primary route to political power. When the 3 to 5% have an outsized percentage of the wealth, they 1) can hire enough voices in all the right places to appear of outsized importance, 2) can convince themselves of their own importance and 3) can let the "especially worthy" into their ranks of privilege as reward and a way of encouraging a public view of accessibility. What is not clear, and intentionally so, is that everything - everything - done to advance the cause of the 3 to 5% among the majority has to be a lie. I am using the rather archaic conception of "lie" as the communication of something that is known to be false in its direct content or its effect. Our language has been so manipulated by the hired agents of this minority that "lie" requires that you admit that you have intentionally made self-serving and untrue statements (and even this is not called a lie, but rather an apology). Anything short of this is called a misstatement, a greater truth or blamed on some version of the Devil. Winning and losing is different for a group comprising only 5% of the population, but who must appear to represent 50% to be listened to. Compare: if a true majority is being represented, then losing a vote means that those that you represent have rejected your ideas. If you comprise only 5% of the population and your candidate or initiative is rejected, it means that you did not present your option in a way that would attract enough votes (or didn't steal enough): you know that it is not the wishes and the needs of the 5% that have been rejected, since they were never presented, but the packaging designed to bring together 51% didn't work. The values and interests of the 5% are never presented or questioned; what matters is not truth, but how to get into an office or initiatives on the books that support those interests. This means that there is no symmetry between the Democratic and the Republican parties. In the simplest view, the Democratic party purports to represent the majority lifestyle and interests; the Republican party actually does represent the lifestyle and interests of the economic elite. There should be no electoral contest ever! The 5% position, if openly and honestly stated, would lose every time. But openness and honesty are not the currency of political communication. All of this (and I mean "all of this") is difficult to talk about since the language has been, if not controlled, greatly influenced by a way of relating to material and service exchange in a completely insane way. The accumulation of excess has historically gone from a socially frowned on habit that raised doubts about a person's "goodness" (Neolithic societies); to an activity allowed to Gods and demigods, but not to regular folk (early "civilization"); to making the 10:1 threshold of excess as acceptable, but much beyond that questionable socially and of questionable utility (spread of mercantile classes); to everyone should get as much as they can and to do so is not only a right, but good for the economy and the world. In fact, the inhibition of acquisitiveness is now the suspect position (a version of today's utter Madness). In such an environment, the possibility of a reasoned, responsible discussion of these issues beyond a narrow number is difficult. Imagine trying to discuss Revolutionary War history in a room of crazy people all of whom believe themselves to be either George Washington or King George! As long as the insanity of the wealth addicted and the special forms of social pathology that have come to underpin the economic elite and politically powerful are the models for social and economic behavior, the 3 to 5% will attract a following. This following will try to emulate this mad minority's easily observable, often manufactured, qualities. In a rational world (one at least somewhat founded in biophysical reality) these behaviors would be a category in the DSM and have some treatment paradigm, but not be the standard for proper human action. Of course, the Democratic party doesn't represent majority lifestyles and interests, though it has the responsibility of seeming to, and could be made to if there were ways to communicate and coordinate the mutual concerns of the multitude. Worker's organizations of all kinds are the best source for such coordination and are thus the first to be attacked by the mad minorities minions. The reward structure is clear. Hannity, Limbaugh, M. Reagan, Liddy, O.Reilly, Gibson, Ingraham, Malkin, Beck, Hewitt, Buchanan and many more have tailored a presentation, content and style, to the message of the mad minority. While some may actually believe some of what they present, it is more likely that most are moved by success and economic motives, motives easily in the control of the mad minority. Even in so small a part of the world as I inhabit, I feel the pressure to certain phrases, certain positions, certain arguments that I understand will excite the interest of those who can decide if my efforts are acceptable - it goes far beyond the quality of the writing. I can only guess at the pressures on those who aspire to aspects of the madness in the first place. The pressure to suck-up and not to fuck-up must be huge especially as the "communicator" finds their way into the very heart of the wealth and propaganda machine. The capacity to control the measures of success and social acceptability has come more and more into the hands of the 3 to 5 % mad minority. The consolidations of media/entertainment companies have let the many hours a day of media contact be designed by more and more centralized sets of goals. There are thousands of films, TV shows and stories that glorify consumption - even a presentation that attempts not to has to sell itself in consumption terms and language. And yet! The vast majority of people, the real species still with some intimations of sanity, realize that there is something terribly wrong. Unless the 3 to 5% mad minority maintain a full court press the incipient sanity of the multitude always threatens to break through. Such sanity, of course, has no place to go in the present world, and so quickly loses its power like a single wave washing impotently up a beach. We see this in the election of Obama. He was elected against the limitations of prejudice, and being an unknown, by the hope of the multitude for some sanity in their lives. But he was also supported by many of the 3 to 5% and will be swept away by them unless the great thirst for sanity begins a movement. We live in a vast and complex ecology of these forces, many levels of idea and action mediated by all the forms of human motive, capacity and madness, but the multitude is still potentially the human animal, grounded in their daily biology and natural sanity. We must begin to use those capacities first to save our personal selves and then possibly more beyond ourselves. The mad minority will lead the earth's people to ruin as they attempt to save themselves from the ecological and economic disasters of their design. It is not populism to see hope in the multitude, it is simply that they are the only source of sanity left. James Keye is the nom de plume of a biologist and psychologist who after discovering a mismatch between academe and himself went into private business for many years. His whole post-pubescent life has been focused on understanding at both the intellectual and personal levels what it is to be of the human species; he claims some success. Email him at: jkeye1632 [at] gmail.com. Read other articles by James, or visit James's website. --------14 of 15-------- The "Wait 'Til He Gets In" Delusion Sorry, The President Elect is Not a Latent Lefty by Paul Street December 13th, 2008 Dissident Voice One of the more recurrent refrains I heard from many of Barack Obama's progressive supporters in late 2007 and through the recent election went like this: "oh, he has to say and do that stuff to get elected. The corporate and military powers that be will sink him if he acts as left as he really is. Just wait until he gets in: then you'll see the real progressive deal". "That stuff" included Obama declaring his readiness to bomb Iran, saying that black Americans had come "90 percent" of the way to equality, treating Jeremiah Wright's anger over American racism as inappropriate for the current era, proclaiming that the U.S. invaded Iraq with noble intentions, and saying that "the Surge" was "succeeding beyond our wildest imagination". Other parts of the Obama campaign package: advancing nuclear power and Ethanol, claiming that leading Wall Street firms and other large corporations were as interested as anyone else in "American renewal" (they "just hadn't been asked" to help the country, Obama said last year), supporting the unilateral use of military power even in .situations beyond self-defense. (in a 2007 Foreign Affairs essay), and calling for an expansion of U.S.-imperial armed forces. Neoliberal From the Start There were four key problems with this alternatively naive and cynical defense of candidate Obama's centrism. First, it neglected Obama's history as a deeply conciliatory and conservative, privilege-friendly politician. >From his Harvard Law School days through his state legislative career and his brief stint in the U.S. Senate, Obama has exhibited what liberal journalist Ryan Lizza rightly calls "an eagerness to accommodate himself to existing institutions". Those who think Obama is a "true progressive" whose left and democratic orientation has been "squandered" or carefully hidden thanks to his national political ambitions and/or the influence of his political handlers might want to consider an interesting description of the young phenomenon penned by the veteran black political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. just as Obama's political career began. By Reed's account, Obama came to the political game with an already advanced and highly cultivated bourgeois taste for incremental change and compromise with concentrated power. Alternately praised (by moderates) as "pragmatism" and "realism" and reviled (by left progressives and radicals) as "selling out" and "cooptation," his finely honed centrism was a habit of thought that flowed naturally from his elite socialization in a corporate-neoliberal post-Civil Rights era at privileged private institutions like Columbia, Harvard, and the metropolitan foundations (including the Woods Fund of Chicago and the Joyce Foundation) on whose boards he sat and in whose circles he moved (a rarely noted aspect of Obama's biography) while he worked as a Chicago lawyer. This is how Reed described the 30-something Obama in early 1996, shortly after the latter won his first election to the Illinois legislature and more than eight years before the world beyond Springfield and the Chicago and Washington money-politics elite discovered the "Obama phenomenon": In Chicago, for instance, we've gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices: one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program - the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle class reform in favoring form over substances. I suspect that his ilk is the wave of the future in U.S. black politics here, as in Haiti and wherever the International Monetary Fund has sway.1 There's little basis for many progressives' desire to share some right-wingers' picture of Obama as a closeted true-progressive waiting for the White House ascendancy to unveil his left agenda. Path Confusion Second, to quote a Buddhist maxim, "the path is the goal". The point can be exaggerated, but it is hard to end up on the left turn ramp while driving in the center and right lanes. It is difficult (though not impossible) to rally the troops for progressive change while steering again and again - however stealthily (see my next point) - to the corporate and imperial right. Third, the bigger truth is that candidate Obama tended to run to the rhetorical left of his actual policy agenda. Especially during the primary campaign, he sounded far more progressive than he actually was. He posed for the liberal base as an "antiwar candidate" even while he signaled clearly to the foreign policy establishment that he would continue the Iraq occupation for an indefinite period. He ran as an advocate of universal heath insurance even while he advanced a plan that left critical cost-driving power in the hands of the big insurance and pharmaceutical corporations. Things He Didn't "Have" to Say and Do Last but not least, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Obama repeatedly said and did things more reactionary than required to make a viable presidential run and still pass muster with concentrated power. The imperial plutocracy didn't require Obama to vote for the expansion of federal domestic wiretapping powers with retroactive immunity to the big telecommunications corporations last spring. Harsh political power realities did not mean that Obama "had" to tell CNN's Candy Crowley last summer that the U.S. should never apologize for any of its actions abroad. (Why wouldn't a supposedly "benevolent" empire want to occasionally and disingenuously apologize for such "occasional" "mistakes" as the recurrent indiscriminate bombing of Afghan wedding parties?). Obama did not "have" to provocatively tell the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in the fall of 2006 that the American people were "resolved" in support of "well-intentioned" U.S. foreign policy since they "have seen their sons and daughters killed in the streets of Fallujah" (a city that suffered massive U.S. imperial assaults, with a giant civilian death toll, in April and November of 2004). Obama didn't "have" to blow up the public presidential election financing system once and for all, though he would have been crazy (from an "in it to win it" perspective) not to given his remarkable private funding advantage over John McCain. In the process of torpedoing federal election funding, moreover, Obama didn't "have" to create the dark deception that his fundraising operation constituted "a parallel system of public financing". The truth of the matter, reported on ABC's evening news last week, is that Obama got just a quarter off his campaign finance haul from small donors. That was the same share small donors contributed to George W. Bush's funding take in 2004 - a telling little detail that gets lost in Obama's recurrent trumpeting of the fact that he received 91 percent of his contributions from small givers. Too bad those small givers comprised just a fourth of his total money. And Obama hasn't "had" to go to the remarkable lengths he has gone to deny the depth and degree of U.S. racial disparities and continuing relevance of racism in explaining those inequalities. I could go on. "Honeymoans" and Violins Five weeks away from Obama's inauguration, some progressives are disturbed to learn that his corporate-imperial cabinet picks epitomize what former Clinton administration official and Kissinger Associates Managing Director David J. Rothkopf calls "the violin model: Hold power with the left hand, and play the music with your right" (NYT, November 22, 2008, A1). It bothers a growing number of Obama's liberal backers to learn that, as Wall Street Journal editorial board member Matthew Kaminski notes, "the Obama camp says the future president, who won running from the left, intends to govern from the center" (WSJ, December 6/7, 2008, A8). "This Wasn't Quite the Change We Pictured," whines the title of a recent Washington Post editorial by leading left-liberal writer David Corn.2 It's long past time for Corn and other "concerned" and "disappointed" Obama liberals to trade in their rose-colored campaign glasses for the demystifying shades donned by the ideology-decoding rebels in John Carpenter's classic left science fiction movie "They Live". The balmy feel-good people's rhetoric of the electoral contest has faded as always before the big chill of corporate-imperial governance. A little more due diligence research on their candidate's longstanding centrist history and how well it matches the narrow parameters imposed by the American political tradition and party system might have prevented some of the current left and liberal "honeymoaning" (Alexander Cockburn's useful term3) about Obama. For all his claims to be a noble and "pragmatic" reformer "above the fray" of America's imperial plutocracy and "ideological" politics, Obama is no special exception to - and is in many ways an epitome of - what Christopher Hitchens called (in his 1999 study of the Bill and Hillary Clinton phenomenon) "the essence of American politics. This essence, when distilled," Hitchens explained, "consists of the manipulation of populism by elitism". Christopher Hitchens, No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family (New York: Verso, 2000), pp. 17-18. It's nothing new. Relying heavily on candidates' repeated promise to restore "hope" to a populace disillusioned by corporate control, corruption, and inequality - a standard claim of non-incumbent Democratic presidential candidates - this dark essence of United States political culture goes back further than the corporate-neoliberal era into which Obama came of political age. It is arguably as old the Republic itself, always torn by the rift between democratic promise and authoritarian realities of concentrated wealth and power. Underlying systemic contradictions related to the deepening economic crisis may well drive Obama to introduce measures that will seem comparatively progressive in relation to the last thirty-five years of U.S. economic policy. For real and genuinely progressive recovery to occur, however, popular agency on the model of the recent factory occupation at Chicago's Republic Door and Window plant4 will be required, as in previous periods of reform. Today as in the 1930s and 1960s, rank and file citizens' agency will be a critical element forcing progressive change that can be reasonably believed in.5 Obama may be left-handed but it's time to stop waiting for a mythical White House lefty and to get to the work of actual left organizing and vision from the bottom up. 1. Adolph Reed, Jr., "The Curse of Community," Village Voice (January 16, 1996), reproduced in Reed, Class Notes: Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Scene (New York, 2000). For an (I hope) useful summary of Obama's relatively tepid and centrist career as a state legislator, please see Paul Street , "Statehouse Days: The Myth of Barack Obama"s 'True Progressive' Past," ZNet (July 20, 2008). [.] 2. David Corn, "This Wasn't Quite the Change We Pictured," Washington Post (December 5, 2008). [.] 3. Alexander Cockburn, "Honeymoans From the Left," CounterPunch (December 5/7, 2008). [.] 4. Lee Sustar, "Chicago Factory Occupied," Socialist Worker (December 6, 2008). [.] 5. Howard Zinn, "Election Madness," The Progressive (March 2008). [.] Paul Street (paulstreet99 [at] yahoo.com) is a veteran radical historian and independent author, activist, researcher, and journalist in Iowa City, IA. He is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Paradigm 2005); Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (Routledge 2005): and Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis (Rowman&Littlefied 2007). Street's new book Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics can now be ordered. ---------15 of 15-------- Hope's a placebo feels real fixes nothing while illness does us in ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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 vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
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