Progressive Calendar 09.26.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sat, 26 Sep 2009 10:49:35 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   09.26.09

1. Peace walk         9.26 9am Cambridge MN
2. Cuba report        9.26 10am
3. Northtown vigil    9.26 2pm
4. Slave narratives   9.26 2pm
5. Copwatch training  9.26 4:30pm
6. Free Geek TC       9.26 7pm
7. Don Irish talk     9.26 7pm

8. Stillwater vigil   9.27 1pm
9. Midway barter      9.27 1pm
10. Fair voting/AM950 9.27 3pm
11. Peace walk        9.27 6pm RiverFalls WI
12. Faith/health      9.27 6:30pm
13. News satire/KFAI  9.27 9:30pm

14. Dave Bicking  - Bicking campaign/Election help needed! <6 weeks!
15. Billy Wharton - Solidarity despite police repression at Pittsburgh G20
16. Holly Sklar   - Medicare for all: yes we can
17. Robert Jensen - The degradation of politics and the ecosystem
18. Carl Davidson - Pittsburgh G20 diaries: day two

--------1 of 18--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Peace walk 9.26 9am Cambridge MN

every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM
Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street


--------2 of 18--------

From: Stephanie Bates <Stephanie.Bates [at] americas.org>
Subject: Cuba report 9.26 10am

Coffee Hour- Saturday, September 26th
Cuba Committee Delegation Report Back
10-11:30am

15 Minnesotans challenged the US travel restrictions on going to Cuba this
summer. They have returned to tell their story of their interactions with
Cubans through pictures, story and video. Hear what is going on in Cuba
todayWhy is this the only country in the world that US citizens are
restricted to travel to by their own governmentWhy is the rest of the
world working with Cuba and isolating United States policy?

RCTA
3019 Minnehaha Ave Suite 20
Minneapolis, MN 55406
www.americas.org 612-276-0788


--------3 of 18--------

From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 9.26 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday
2-3pm


--------4 of 18--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Slave narratives 9.26 2pm

Saturday, September 26 at 2 p.m., also at the Rondo Community Outreach
Library, Nothando Zulu, of the Black Storytellers' Alliance, will
share selections from the FWP Slave Narratives and excerpts of work by
Zora Neale Hurston.  Black Storytellers Alliance has entertained and
educated audiences for the past two decades with the philosophy that
art is a direct reflection of culture, and each performance draws from
the richness of the African and African American experience.


--------5 of 18--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com>
Subject: Copwatch training 9.26 4:30pm

CUAPB COPWATCH TRAINING
Saturday, September 26, 4:30 p.m.
Walker Church
3100 16th Ave S, Minneapolis

We'll be holding a training on Saturday for people who want to get
involved in copwatching either formally through CUAPB or in your own
neighborhoods.  We'll go over your rights in general, your rights as a
copwatcher and keeping yourself safe, how to copwatch, what to document. A
light meal will be served.  Then we'll head out to the homeless shelter to
practice what we have learned and become familiar with a particular
location where police brutality is rampant.


--------6 of 18--------

From: Amanda Luker <amanda [at] pinkslipmedia.org>
Subject: Free Geek TC 9.26 7pm

Free Geek Twin Cities to host "Geekathlon" Fundraiser

In preparation for their grand opening, Free Geek Twin Cities, a new
technology nonprofit organization, is hosting a "Geekathlon" fundraiser at
Grumpy's Bar (Downtown) at 7pm on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Can you read l33t speak? Identify geeks through history? Name that video
game tune? Name pi out really far? If so, you will want to come to Free
Geek's Geekathlon. This quiz bowl will feature ten intense rounds of
questions focusing on the history of computers and the internet, with
fabulous prizes from local sponsors - all for a good cause: helping the
needy get nerdy!

Free Geek Twin Cities is based on a very successful organization in
Portland, OR called Free Geek, which accepts donations of old computers,
trains volunteers on how to identify and sort hardware, and teach them to
build refurbished computers using open source software. Once volunteers
have completed 20 hours of volunteer hours or have built five working
computers, they get to take a computer home with them for free. The
organization aims to help repurpose used electronics that might otherwise
go to landfills, as well as empowering people with an understanding of
computers (both how to work with them, and how they actually work) so that
they can actively contribute to our increasingly connected world.

After several years in the making, FGTC will finally be opening their
doors in mid-October at 3405 Chicago Ave. S. The organization will have
open hours to accept computer donations, and, beginning in November, work
hours, during which volunteers can come in a take apart and build
computers.

For further information, please visit Free Geek's web site at
www.freegeektwincities.org.  Grumpy's is located at 1111 Washington Ave S,
Minneapolis, MN 55415.
Contact: Amanda Luker Board Member 612-590-3276


--------7 of 18--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Don Irish talk 9.26 7pm

A Last Lecture by Don Irish: "Hanging in for the Long Haul"
Saturday, September 26, 7:00 p.m. Hamline University, KLAS Center, Kay
Fredericks Room, 135 Taylor Avenue (north end of mall), St. Paul.

Long time peace activist and WAMM member, Don Irish, Professor Emeritus,
Hamline University, gives his last lecture addressing "reflections on past
years and thoughts regarding our collective future." Don will attempt "to
compress 90 years into 60 minutes!"

Admission is free and open to the public. Supported by: the Hamline
University Department of Sociology, the Hamline University Department of
Anthropology, the Minnesota Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the Twin
Cities Friends Meeting. Endorsed by: WAMM.


--------8 of 18--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 9.27 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


--------9 of 18--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: Midway barter 9.27 1pm

are barter markets going to assist during the economic crisis?

The Midway Barter Market, every Sunday, 1-3 pm, boulevard in front of 1724
Englewood Ave.  Barter Market on Wednesdays at SuperUSA are cancelled.
Community Gathering and Exchange at the "Midway Barter Market"!  Bring
something to share if you can; we've seen CSA and urban farm produce, jam,
bread, fruits, homemade candles and soap, jewelry, cassette tapes,
clothes, anything that's in good condition that someone else may want.
Labor exchanges are good too (i.e. I will fix your bike if you make me
lunch).  It's an informal gathering that's lots of fun, and you get to
take home stuff you want that someone else has too much of.  A folding
chair and maybe a folding table are good to bring, or even just a blanket
for the boulevard.  Contact Nine at mightymidway [at] gmail.com or 651.319.2241
with questions, or Kathy at kathysphotos [at] mindspring.com or 651.645.1492.


--------10 of 18--------

From: "Of the People" <info [at] jamesmayer.org>
Subject: Fair voting/AM950 9.27 3pm

Does Democracy mean voting for the "least of the two evils" imposed by the
Corporate "Duopoly" posing as Democrats and Republicans?

James Mayer Of the People with James Mayer
Sunday at 3:00 P.M.
AM950 KTNF or www.am950ktnf.com
September 27, 2009
Fair Vote MN

Join us on Of the People with James Mayer this Sunday, September 27, 2009
at 3 p.m. on AM950 KTNF (formerly Air America Minnesota) or, if out of the
broadcast area, stream us at http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen .

In 1998, no Minnesota state-wide constitutional officer was elected with a
majority. Jesse Ventura won with just 37 percent. What if voters could
have ranked their votes for 3 candidates?  They can in Minneapolis this
November.

Join Patrick O'Connor, City of Minneapolis Interim Elections Director and
Jeanne Massey, Director of Fair Vote Minnesota on Of the People with James
Mayer this Sunday at 3pm.

Again, locally, you can join us by tuning your radio to 950 AM in your
car, and in your home, or if you're not local, stream us
:http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen (You will be asked to put in a MN zip
code).

Off-air, you can reach us by calling James Mayer at 651-238-3740, by
e-mail at info [at] jamesmayer.org, or by U.S. mail: James Mayer, 970 Raymond
Ave., St. Paul, MN Zip Code 55114.


--------11 of 18--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Peace walk 9.27 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022


--------12 of 18--------

From: Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition <info [at] muhcc.org>
Subject: Faith/health 9.27 6:30pm

What is the Faith Community's Role in Health Care Reform?
September 27 2009, 6:30-8:30 pm at Gloria Dei Church, 700 S. Snelling Ave
St Paul, MN 55116. Senator John Marty, Chief Author of the MN health Plan
will be one of the panelists.


--------13 of 18--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: News satire/KFAI 9.27 9:30pm

LIVE-STREAMING & ARCHIVED ON-LINE FOR 2 WEEKS after broadcast
"Sound Affects"
KFAI FM. 90.3 & 106.7 FM
www.kfai.org/soundaffects
THIS SUNDAY SEPT.27 9:30-10:30 PM

Jerry Stearns wrote:
This week on Sound Affects: A Radio Playground, our special Pledge
show, "And Now, The News."

I've collected comic news parodies, take-offs, satires and stand-up
routines from a wide variety of sources, including The Firesign Theatre,
George Carlin, Robert Klein, The National Lampoon, KFAI's own Shockwave
and more. We even made a new very funny bit, "The News in a Nutshell",
which does an entire news program in 90 seconds (starring KFAI
volunteers). Lots to laugh at, and a good reason to call Pledge Phone:
(612)375-9030 and make a pledge. Where else will you ever hear all this
collected together?

Jerry Stearns Producer: Sound Affects KFAI FM. 90.3 & 106.7 FM
www.kfai.org/soundaffects Sundays 9:30-10:30 PM
SoundAffects [at] greatnorthernaudio.com


--------14 of 18--------

[If you can put only one new person on the City Council, let it be
Bicking -ed

Date: Thu, 24 Sep 2009 16:28:59 -0500
From: Dave Bicking <dave [at] colorstudy.com>
Subject: Bicking campaign - Election help needed! (Less than 6 weeks!)

Dear friends,

The election is now 40 days away!!  It will be 4 years before we again
have this good an opportunity to elect and re-elect Green Party candidates
at a local level.  Please think about what YOU can do!

I enjoy the discussions on this listserve as much as anyone.  Like most of
you, I have been involved in many causes that are in accordance with our
Green Party values.  But, as a Party, our central reason for existence is
to influence public policy by ELECTING CANDIDATES!  I believe that must be
our main goal in these next six weeks.

Despite all the advantages for incumbents, my campaign for City Council
has a reasonable chance of winning.  Your help can make the difference.
We have a great campaign team, and I appreciate those Green Party members
who have done so much for my campaign.  But now, we and the other
campaigns need ALL of you.  We have literature to be distributed, we need
door knockers, phone callers, and people to help with mailings and general
errands.

To volunteer for my campaign, call or email our volunteer coordinator,
Becki Smith:  612-378- 0081, becki [at] opencivics.org If you can lit drop
within the next week or so, contact me directly to pick up our new
literature plus a map.  Call 612-276-1213 or email dave [at] davebicking.org
While I am out door knocking, you can reach me at 612-801-5628.  Please
leave a message in case I am in the middle of talking to someone.

Lit dropping is easy, fun, and good exercise for anyone in OK physical
shape.  Just go door to door, leaving literature.  You don't have to talk
to anyone, and you get to admire all the beautiful front yard gardens in
this area.  We have full instructions, no experience necessary.  We'll
need a lot of you to do this in the next 6 weeks - it is one way that a
volunteer driven campaign can beat the better-financed campaigns that have
to rely on more expensive mailings.

May I tell you again how important this is?

We can make a much-needed change in our city government.  From my door
knocking, I can tell that people are ready for a change.  We can win if we
get the message out - with literature, door knocking, lawn signs, and
phone calls.  The mainstream media are not going to do that - they have
barely acknowledged that an election is coming up.  My opponent has big
money, much of it from the large developers that he serves so well.  We
can only do it with volunteers - that's you.  Six weeks from now is too
late.  Let's do it now - let's make a change!

For a more fair and compassionate city,

Dave Bicking 612-276-1213

PS.  Mark your calendars now, for a volunteer appreciation party for all
our volunteers, and all who intend to volunteer.  Saturday, October 3, 6 -
9pm at Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave. S.  Food and live music provided.
Please come and help build our momentum.

PPS.  Yes, even with volunteers, we need money for literature, lawn signs,
and postage.  With a broad base of support, we have done quite well in
fundraising for a campaign that challenges the powers that be, and we have
been very frugal.  But we still need several thousand dollars more to
cover our remaining expenses.  Any help is appreciated!  Make out your
check to:  Bicking for City Council, and mail it to:  Bicking for City
Council, 2425 E.  Franklin Ave. #407, Mpls, MN 55406. OR, contribute
online at: http://davebicking.org/donate.html - fast, easy, no stamp
needed!
 (Contribution limit is $300 per person)


--------15 of 18--------

Solidarity Reigns Despite Police Repression at the Pittsburgh G20
by Billy Wharton
September 26th, 2009
Dissident Voice

Clashes between police and G20 protesters continue into the night in
Pittsburgh. A cycle of dispersal and regroupment has been underway since
early this afternoon. Police ramped up their aggressiveness after being
overwhelmed early at Arsenal Park.1

Schenley Park just outside of the University of Pittsburgh, was the scene
of some of the most volatile interactions of the day. At first, student
onlookers, seemingly not initially affiliated with the G20 protests,
challenged riot police and were violently repulsed. Then, protesters
massed in the park and marched on the police line. Tear gas was fired, but
the wind was with the protesters and blew the gas back on the police
themselves. Massive numbers of police then surrounded the park. The
protest dwindled as young people, fatigued by a day of being chased by the
police through streets of Pittsburgh, retreated in search of food and much
needed rest.

There was property damage today, but it was either defensive or
immediately quashed by the protesters themselves. A sound and gas attack
by police resulted in the overturning of some dumpsters - a futile
symbolic act of self-defense not the justification for repression that the
mainstream media has reported. Rocks in BMW and Boston Chicken stores were
the frustrated outcome of a crowd whose right to assemble had been
forcefully revoked. A small band of protesters went further, by smashing
ATMs, but they were quickly persuaded against continuing by march
organizers themselves.

The police were everywhere. Pinning down protesters, creating
confrontations and randomly stopping and searching. Cops came from Ohio,
Florida and Arizona. If their numbers were not enough, they employed
anti-protest technology. A Long Range Acoustic Device was employed to beam
out high-volume sounds, and Twitter-journalist visually identified a
microwave heat machine which wasn't used, but stood at the ready to repel
demonstrators. Such tools of repression have no place inside a democratic
society.

The protesters were brave, standing up against overwhelming repression,
policing themselves and sending the message that capitalism has failed
them and billions of others around the world. Equally encouraging were the
actions of residents of Pittsburgh. Many extended solidarity to the
protesters - opening their homes for relief, providing overnight housing
free of charge and disregarding work rules to provide a tired demonstrator
with a free glass of water or a seat to rest for a moment. Such acts of
solidarity offer a basis to think about a different kind of society, one
which moves beyond acoustic attacks and tear gas and towards democracy and
freedom.

For pics and video visit: http://socialistwebzine.blogspot.com/ [.]
Billy Wharton is the editor of The Socialist magazine and the Socialist
WebZine. He can be reached at: billyspnyc [at] yahoo.com.


--------16 of 18--------

Medicare for All: Yes We Can
by Holly Sklar
September 26th, 2009
Common Dreams

More Americans die of lack of health insurance than terrorism, homicide,
drunk driving and HIV combined.

Grandma could be dead from lack of health insurance before she turns 65
and gets Medicare - 80 percent of first-time grandparents are in their 40s
and 50s.

America is the only country that rations the right to health care to those
65 and older.

Lack of health insurance kills 45,000 American adults a year, according to
a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health. One out of
three Americans under age 65 had no private or public health insurance for
some or all of 2007-2008.

You can't go the emergency room for the screening that will catch cancer
or heart disease early, or ongoing treatment to manage chronic kidney
disease or asthma. And even emergency care is different for the insured
and uninsured. Studies show uninsured car crash victims receive less care
in the hospital, for example.

Even with health insurance, many Americans are a medical crisis away from
bankruptcy. Research shows 62 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007 were
medical, a share up 50 percent since 2001. Most of the medically bankrupt
had health insurance - the kind insuring profits, not health care.

Health insurance executives don't worry about going bankrupt from getting
sick. Forbes reports that CIGNA's CEO made $121 million in the last five
years and Humana's CEO made $57 million.

We're harmed by health industry and political leaders following the
Hypocritic Oath: Promise a lot, and deliver as little as possible.

Wendell Potter, CIGNA's chief of corporate communications until quitting
in 2008, testified to Congress, "The status quo for most Americans is that
health insurance bureaucrats stand between them and their doctors right
now, and maximizing profit is the mandate". He said, "Every time you hear
about the shortcomings of what they call 'government-run' health care,
remember this: what we have now - and what the insurers are determined to
keep in place, is Wall Street-run health care".

Premiums for employer-sponsored family health insurance jumped 131 percent
between 1999 and 2009 - from $5,791 to $13,375 - hurting businesses,
employees and families.

Contrary to myth, the United States does not have the world's best health
care. We're No. 1 in health care spending, but No. 50 in life expectancy,
just before Albania, according to the CIA World Factbook. In Japan, people
live four years longer than Americans. Canadians live three years longer.
Forty-three countries have better infant mortality rates.

One or two health insurance companies dominate most metropolitan areas in
the United States.

Health industry lobbyists and campaign contributors have gotten between
you and your congressperson so they can keep getting between you and your
doctor. There are 3,098 health sector lobbyists swarming Capitol Hill -
nearly six for every member of Congress.

As Business Week put it in August, "Health insurers are winning". They
"have succeeded in redefining the terms of the reform debate to such a
degree that no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill
Congress may send to President Obama this fall, the insurance industry
will emerge more profitable".

President Obama should listen to his doctor. Dr. David Scheiner was
Obama's doctor for 22 years in Chicago. On the July 30 anniversary of
Medicare, Scheiner said, "I have never encountered an instance where
Medicare has prevented proper medical care... Insurance companies
frequently interfere and block appropriate care".

Scheiner belongs to Physicians for a National Health Program, which, like
a majority of Americans, favors Medicare for All. 58 percent favored
having a national health plan in which all Americans would get their
insurance through an expanded, universal form of Medicare-for-all, in the
July 2009 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, for example.

Tell President Obama and Congress: Yes we can have Medicare for All. Rep.
Anthony Weiner's amendment would substitute the text of the Expanded and
Improved Medicare for All Act (HR 676), which has 86 co-sponsors, for
House legislation HR 3200. Like the even worse Baucus bill in the Senate,
HR 3200 would feed for-profit insurers more customers without providing
the universal health care Medicare could provide at much lower cost.

It.s time to stop peddling health reform snake oil.

Medicare for All won't kill Grandma, but it may save her children and
grandchildren.

Holly Sklar is co-author of A Just Minimum Wage: Good for Workers,
Business and Our Future and Raise the Floor: Wages and Policies That Work
for All of Us. She can be reached at: hsklar [at] aol.com. Read other articles
by Holly, or visit Holly's website.


--------17 of 18--------

Is Obama a Socialist?
Reflection on the Degradation of Politics and the Ecosystem
by Robert Jensen
September 25th, 2009
dissident Voice

For months, leftists have been pointing out the absurdity of the claim
that Barack Obama is a socialist. But no matter how laughable, the claim
keeps popping up, most recently in the form of the Republican Party
chairman's warning of "a socialist power grab" by Democrats.

Within the past year, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina has
called Obama "the world's best salesman of socialism." Conservative
economist Donald J. Boudreaux of George Mason University has acknowledged
that Obama isn't really a socialist, but warns that the "socialism lite"
of such politicians "is as specious as is classic socialism."

Silly as all this may be, it does provide an opportunity to continue
talking about the promise and the limits of socialism in a moment when the
economic and ecological crises are so serious. So, let's start with the
basics.

As with any complex political idea, socialism means different things to
different people. But there are core concepts in socialist politics that
are easy to identify, including (1) worker control over the ature and
conditions of their work; (2) collective ownership of the major capital
assets of the society, the means of production; and (3) an egalitarian
distribution of the wealth of a society.

Obama has never argued for such principles, and in fact consistently
argues against them, as do virtually all politicians who are visible in
mainstream U.S. politics. This is hardly surprising, given the degree to
which our society is dominated by corporations, the primary institution
through which capitalism operates.

Obama is not only not a socialist, he's not even a particularly
progressive capitalist. He is part of the neo-liberal camp that has
undermined the limited social-democratic character of the New Deal
consensus, which dominated in the United States up until the so-called
"Reagan revolution." While Obama's stimulus plan was Keynesian in nature,
there is nothing in administration policy to suggest he is planning to
move to the left in any significant way. The crisis in the financial
system provided such an opportunity, but Obama didn't take it and instead
continued the transfer of wealth to banks and other financial institutions
begun by Bush. Looking at his economic advisers, this is hardly
surprising. Naming neo-liberal Wall Street boys such as Timothy Geithner
as secretary of the treasury and Lawrence Summers as director of the
National Economic Council was a clear signal to corporate America that the
Democrats would support the existing distribution of power and wealth. And
that's where his loyalty has remained.

In short: Obama and some Democrats have argued for a slight expansion of
the social safety net, which is generally a good thing in a society with
such dramatic wealth inequality and such a depraved disregard for
vulnerable people. But that's not socialism. It's not even socialism lite.
It's capitalism - heavy, full throttle, and heading for the cliff.

In reaction to the issues of the day, a socialist would fight to
nationalize the banks, create a national health system, and end
imperialist occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. That the right wing can
accuse Obama of being a socialist when he does none of those things is one
indication of how impoverished and dramatically skewed to the right our
politics has become. In most of the civilized world, discussions of
policies based in socialist principles are part of the political
discourse, while here they are bracketed out of any serious debate. In a
recent conversation with an Indonesian journalist, I did my best to
explain all this, but she remained perplexed. How can people take
seriously the claim that he's socialist, and why does applying that label
to a policy brand it irrelevant? I shrugged. "Welcome to the United
States," I said, "a country that doesn't know much about the world or its
own history."

Let's take a moment to remember. Socialist and other radical critiques of
capitalism are very much a part of U.S. history. In the last half of the
19th century, workers in this country organized against expanding
corporate power and argued for worker control of factories. These ideas
were not planted by "outside agitators"; immigrants at the end of the 19th
and early 20th centuries contributed to radical thought and organizing,
but U.S. movements grew organically in U.S. soil.

Business leaders saw this as a threat and responded with private and state
violence. The Red Scare of the 19-teens and '20s tried to wipe out these
movements, with considerable success. But radical movements rose again
during the Great Depression, eventually winning the right to organize. In
the boom times after WWII, management was willing to buy off labor (for a
short time, it turned out) with a larger slice of the pie in a rapidly
expanding economy, and in the midst of Cold War hysteria the radical
elements of the mainstream labor movement were purged. But radical ideas
remain, nurtured by small groups and individuals around the country.

One of the reasons that "socialist" can be used as a slur in the United
States is because that history is rarely taught. If people never hear
about socialist traditions in our history, it's easy to believe that
somehow socialism is incompatible with the U.S. political and social
system. Add to this the classic tactic of presenting "false alternatives"
- if the Soviet Union was the epitome of a socialist state and the only
other option is capitalism, then capitalism is preferable to the
totalitarianism of socialism - and it is easy to see how people might
wonder if Obama is a Red to be Scared of.

This long-running campaign to eliminate critiques and/or critics of
capitalism - using occasional violence and relentless propaganda - has
always been a threat to basic human values and democracy. The promotion of
greed and crass self-interest as the defining characteristics of human
life deforms all of us and our society. The concentration of wealth in
capitalism undermines the democratic features of the society. Socialist
principles provide a starting place to craft a different world, based on
solidarity and an egalitarian distribution of wealth.

But capitalism is not only inhuman and anti-democratic; it's also
unsustainable, and if we don't come to terms with that one, not much else
matters. Capitalism is an economic system based on the concept of
unlimited growth, yet we live on a finite planet. Capitalism is, quite
literally, crazy.

But on this question it's not fair to focus only on capitalism. Industrial
systems - whether operating within capitalism, fascism, or communism - are
unsustainable. The problem is not just the particular organization of an
economy but any economic model based on high-energy technology, endless
extraction, and the generation of massive amounts of toxic waste.
Extractive economies ignore the health of the underlying ecosystem, and a
socialist industrial system would pose the same threat. The possibility of
a decent future, of any future at all, requires that we renounce that
model.

This reminds us that one of capitalism's few legitimate claims - that it
is the most productive economic system in human history in terms of output
- is hardly a positive. The levels of production in capitalism, especially
in the contemporary mass consumption era, are especially unsustainable. We
are caught in a death spiral, in which growth is needed to pull out of a
recession/depression, but such growth only brings us closer to the edge of
the cliff, or sinks the ship faster, or speeds the unraveling of the
fabric of life. Pick your metaphor, but the trajectory is clear. The only
question is the timing and the nature of the collapse. No amount of
propaganda can erase this logic: Unsustainable systems can't be sustained.

To demand that we continue on this path is to embrace a kind of collective
death wish. So, while I endorse socialist principles, I don't call myself
a socialist, to mark a break with the politics associated with industrial
model that shapes our world. I am a radical feminist anti-capitalist who
opposes white supremacy and imperialism, with a central commitment to
creating a sustainable human presence on the planet. I don't know any
single term to describe those of us with such politics.

I do know that the Republican Party is not interested in this kind of
politics, and neither is the Democratic Party. Both are part of a dying
politics in a dying culture that, if not radically changed, will result in
a dead planet, at least in terms of a human presence.

So, socialism alone isn't the answer. In addition to telling the truth
about the failures of capitalism we have to recognize the failures of the
industrial model underlying traditional notions of socialism. We have to
take seriously the deep patriarchal roots of all this and the tenacity of
white supremacy. We have to condemn imperialism, whether the older
colonial style or the contemporary American version, as immoral and
criminal. We have to face the chilling facts about the degree to which
humans have degraded the capacity of the ecosystem to sustain our own
lives.

I'm not waiting for Obama or any other politician to speak about these
things. I am, instead, working in local groups - connected in national and
international networks - to create alternatives. There is no guarantee of
success, but it is the work that I believe matters most. And it is joyful
work when done in collaboration with others who share this spirit. But to
get there, we have to find the strength to break from the dominant
culture, which is difficult. On that question, I'd like to conclude by
quoting Scripture. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy that
leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is
narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are
few." [Matt. 7:12-14]

I end with Scripture not because I think everyone should look to my
particular brand of radical, non-orthodox Christianity for inspiration,
but because I think the task before us demands more than new policies. To
face this moment in history requires a courage that, for me, is bolstered
by tapping into the deepest wisdom in our collective history, including
that found in various religious traditions. We have to ask ourselves what
it means to be human in this moment, a question that is deeply political
and at the same time beyond politics.

At the core of these traditions is the call for humility about the limits
of human knowledge and a passionate commitment to justice, both central to
finding within ourselves the strength to pass through that narrow gate.

My advice to any of you who want to be part of a decent future: Find that
strength wherever you find it, and step up to the narrow gate.

[This is an expanded version of a talk given to the University Democrats
student group at the University of Texas at Austin, September 23, 2009.]

Robert Jensen is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at
Austin and author of /Citizens of Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our
Humanity/ and /Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity/ (South
End Press, 2007). His latest book is Robert Jensen's new book, /All My
Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice
<http://www.softskull.com/detailedbook.php?isbn=978-1-59376-234-6>/,
published by Soft Skull Press. He can be reached at:
rjensen [at] uts.cc.utexas.edu <mailto:rjensen [at] uts.cc.utexas.edu>. Read 
other
articles by Robert <http://dissidentvoice.org/author/RobertJensen/>, or
visit Robert's website <http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/%7Erjensen/index.html>.


--------18 of 18--------

Pittsburgh G20 Diaries: Day Two
By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue
submitted to Portside by the author
PORTSIDE [at] LISTS.PORTSIDE.ORG

One of the first things you see entering Pittsburgh from the Fort Pitt
Bridge is that the United Steel Workers, headquartered in this
working-class town, are determined to deliver a strong message to the G20
bigwigs.

"Jobs, Good Jobs, Greens Jobs Now!' declared the huge five-story-tall
banner draped from the top of the even taller USW headquarters building
that faces the Golden Triangle and its hotels. Despite squads of
militarized police, some in their Ninja turtle outfits, no one anywhere
near the downtown area can miss it.

Today I'm headed for the day-long `Teach-In on Human Rights, Global
Justice and the G20' organized by the USW at their 4th floor conference
center. Later in the afternoon on this gray, drizzly and humid Sept 23
day, I plan to hear Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz speak in the low-income
Hill District, and attend a labor- environmentalist rally and concert
featuring local politicians and rockers.

The street heat protests are planned for the last two days, Thursday and
Friday, Sept 24-25. So far, the police have been going out of their way
with petty harassment of out-of-town protestors-getting permits mixed up,
trying to stop a Free Food bus, challenging small encampments. Some Green
Peace people get busted today for hanging a huge banner on one of the
bridges, but arrests and scuffles so far are minor.

I arrived early, just in time for the freshly brewed coffee and wide array
of muffins and pastries that will load my blood sugar and won't help my
waistline-but who can resist? The TV cameras are there, and the room is
filling up with union people and activists from near and far. The press is
focused on Richard Trumka, the new president of the AFL-CIO who's very
popular here in Western Pennsylvania. He came from the coal mining area
about 40 miles south of the city, where he started as a leader of the
United Mine Workers of America.

"I've been given the job of `framing' the discussion here today," Trumka
began, but warns us he won't be around for criticism if he doesn't do a
good job. He's got to take off early and meet with the top labor leaders
from the other 20 or so countries here for the G20 event.

Trumka gave us a big picture. "From 1946 to 1976, the productivity of the
American worker and our wages rose together and nearly doubled. But from
the late 1970s, and especially after Ronald Reagan, things changed. Our
productivity continued to rise, but our wages stagnated, and now are
declining." He followed with a good definition of neoliberalism, urging us
to use and understand the term, and how it produced the cycle of consumer
debt and the financial bubbles leading to the recent crash.

The neoliberals of both parties, he continued, have tried to put labor and
its allies "in a policy box with six sides"-labor `flexibility,'
shareholder value primacy, globalization/ off shoring, `personal'
responsibility over all, small government to a fault, and economic
`stability,' meaning austerity for us. He explained the hidden trap and
fallacy in each one of these.

"We make it, and they take it, that's what it boils down to on wealth
creation," Trumka concluded, noting that it was unacceptable. Labor wasn't
about to be imprisoned in the box defined by neoliberalism, but was going
to break out of it. It was clear that the new AFL-CIO chieftain was sharp
as a tack, well-versed in political economy, and not about to be easily
bamboozled by anyone.

Lisa Jordan of the USW took the podium as Trumka headed for his G20
meetings. "I can't help but report what I saw driving in here yesterday
and today," she said. "A long caravan of paddy wagons, and for what? Just
waiting to arrest us and scare other people away. She added that the USW
would stand up to it at the rally tonight, and especially at the large
`People's March' on Friday. She urged a large steelworker turnout from the
locals. "We want to see a sea of our banners, so bring out our people and
every local banner you can get."

Jordon outlined the upcoming speakers and breakout sessions at six
different roundtable spots on the floor-topics included labor in Latin
America, the corporate agenda, the WTO, anti-sweatshop legislation, race,
gender and globalization, and several others.

I picked one on economic development battles in the Pittsburgh region. The
town I'm from, Aliquippa in Beaver County, is one of the hardest hit in
the area and matches the `boarded up communities' phrase in the session's
description.

Barney Oursler of Pittsburgh United leads us off with an account of
Pittsburgh's contrasting areas of downtown glitter, which extends along
the high-tech corridor out to the airport, with the grime of neglected
neighbors and depressed river valley mill towns. "What's the first word
that comes to mind when you hear the word `development?' he asks.
"Profits, big ones," someone answers." "That's exactly right," he says,
"and more often than not, it's the elites that benefit, not the rest of
us."

The case in point offered several times over the day is the Pittsburgh
Penguins demanding $750 million from the city for a new stadium, and
getting it. The main opposition came from `One Hill," a coalition of
mainly African American groups in the Hill District, which both the new
stadium site and is targeted for gentrification. One Hill fought the
Penguins corporate core for restrictions on expansion and a community
benefits accord. They got a deal worth $10 million, but the battle goes
on.

"We have a different problem," I interjected. "We have no development even
to demand a piece of in Aliquippa, and we used to be the home of one of
the world's largest steel mills." I went on to briefly describe some local
discussions about opening a closed hospital as part of our larger battle
for `Medicare for All, Healthcare not Warfare, ` as well as some
discussion we started around rebuilding locks and dams on the local rivers
for green barge transport and green energy infrastructure. Steffi Domike
of the USW Associates staff picks up on the latter point. "The Pittsburgh
plateau is a good region for wind farms, but we'd have to modernize the
energy grid to get the most from it." We agreed to follow up with more
discussion on the implied projects in the weeks ahead.

One thing is quite clear about the Steelworkers. They are very serious,
from President Leo Girard's speeches down to the brochures in the lobby,
about getting beyond traditional business unionism and fighting for a
major green industrial policy and new structural reforms to get out of the
economic crisis. Moreover, they want to do it in a way that benefits the
entire working class. This is why they are putting resources behind the
Blue-Green alliance with environmentalists and the `Green for All'
projects associated with Van Jones and his inner city youth programs. The
steelworkers know they can't do it alone, and need all the allies they can
muster. What the union is doing during the G20 week is only incidental to
this broader effort.

Two videos were also highlights of the teach-in. A short version of "The
Battle of Seattle" was previewed, showing labor's role in the anti-WTO
global justice demonstrations going back ten years. Leo Girard, now USW
president, who appeared in the film, told those who just watched it that
the union had bought up a good number of the two-DVD versions and combined
it with a number of educational tools. "We'll make in available to you for
showing in your local groups or at house meetings. All we ask is that you
have people sign in, and send us the lists."

The other video was on the super-exploitation of workers in Bangla Desh,
and show horrific scenes of the harsh conditions at sites deconstructing
old merchant freighters for salvaged metals. "This goes beyond abuse of
workers," said Charlie Kernaghan of the National Labor Committee. "This is
murder at the hands of these bosses."

As the afternoon sessions drew to a close, a group of us got a ride up to
the Monumental Baptist Church in The Hill district. Literally near the top
of the hill near the center of downtown Pittsburgh, the 100-year- old
African American church, with a long legacy of involvement in social
justice causes, had offered its grounds for a `Tent City' of out-of-town
protestors.

This afternoon, the church had also opened its sanctuary for a speech by
Joseph Stiglitz, economist and Nobel laureate. A former top insider with
the World Bank, Stiglitz was fired from that body for exposing and
speaking out against the disastrous impact of its policies in many parts
of the world. When combined with his critique of the Obama
administration's more dubious concessions and Wall Street bailouts, he has
gained rock star status among global justice activists.

After an introduction by John Nichols of The Nation, Stiglitz made a small
concession to the G20 by noting that adding a few countries was better
than the G8, but still, some 170 countries around the world were on the
outside of these deliberations.

"But make no mistake about what going on here," he warned. "Even if we had
waged war on many of these countries, we could not have done as much
damage in many parts of the world as that done by indirectly by the
policies of these global powers. The question is not whether we have to
change our ways, but how, and by how much."

The claim that the global recession was over was simply not true, Stiglitz
went on, especially given growing unemployment. "Nor is it likely to end
anytime soon. They're simply deploying money in the wrong direction,
bailing out the giant banks rather than a greater job- creating stimulus.
What has happened to the banks that were supposedly `too big to fail?'
They've only gotten bigger, and their lobbyists are still thwarting needed
regulation."

Leo Girard of the USW was next up and picked up where Stiglitz left off.
"Pay attention to this number, 30 million!" he told the crowd. That's the
true number of unemployed in this country. That's what you get when you
add up those looking for jobs, those working part time when they want
more, and those who have given up, what they call the `labor reserve.' You
can tell be my accent that I'm a Canadian, and to give you some idea of
the scale, 30 million is a greater number than every human being in my
native country."

"We need jobs," Girard continued, "we need good jobs, and we need green
jobs. What makes a good job? It's a UNION job that can support a family,
and we need a second stimulus to create them and a financial transaction
tax on Wall Street speculation to pay for it all."

Emira Woods of the Institute for Policy Studies and a native of Liberia
brought the voice of the third world to the discussion. "What the G20
powers do," she explained, "is prevent the poor countries to act in their
own interests and determine their own future." She stressed the need for
`people power' to bring change.

Carl Redwood Jr. brought it all back to the realities of Pittsburgh.
Speaking for the Hill District Consensus Group, he told the story of the
battle over the Penguin stadium to this crowd, where the problems just
outside the church's doors were staring everyone in the face.

We gathered up our crew a little early to head back downtown in time for
the rally in Point Park. Out on the sidewalk, Redmond came up and said,
"Hey, Aliquippa guy! I heard you at the union hall earlier." He tells me
he was a reader of the Guardian back in the 1970s, when I was a writer
there. We agree to stay in touch around the Green Jobs and Health Care
campaigns. Making new connections is what these activities are all about.

We wind our way down the wet streets. It's drizzling again, and still hot
and humid. At a light, a UPS truck pulls up beside us, with side doors
open. `Where is everyone?" he laughs, noting that it's rush hour and the
only crowds you see are batches of cops on every other corner. "It's like
Sunday afternoon with a Steelers game on!"

Point State Park is a large and pleasant open space at the tip of the
`Golden Triangle,' the site of the historic fort at the forks of the Ohio.
Here the Monongahela and the Allegheny rivers come together to form what
the French explorers called "La Belle Riviere, or beautiful river, their
translation of the Iroquois and Seneca word `Ohio,' meaning roughly the
same thing.

This night, however, it had a split personality. Part of it was fenced off
and occupied by militarized police and the Secret Service, wanting it as a
command center for the same reason the French and British armies did more
than 200 years ago: it's a strategic location. The other part was a huge
double stage with a terrific sound system and giant video screen. The
Steelworkers, the Sierra Club and Al Gore's climate change group had gone
all out to claim at least part of the space to deliver their message to
the G20.

The question of the moment was whether the weather and oppressive police
presence would prevent a crowd from forming. As I enter the area divided
off for the rally, a youth street theater group was putting on a
performance in front of a long line of cops in their new camouflage gear.
The kids were having fun, while those in uniform tried to look stern.
Inside, people were surveying the literature tables, food stands and
cheering on the local opening bands. There were only 500 or so there, but
once the speakers got going and more musicians warmed up, the crowd
quickly grew to about 5000 - enough to make it a success, given the
circumstances.

A young speaker started off the rally. "Thomas Jefferson said that every
generation needs a new revolution," said Alex Loorz of Kid vs. Global
Warming. He noted that some adults weren't worried about the worst effects
of climate change because it was 50 years away. But in 50 years, he said,
"my generation won't be dead, and neither will our grandchildren, but if
we don't act now, it is my generation that is going to pay for it."

State Senator Jim Ferlo also welcomed everyone, stressing the need for a
large and unified movement. "We need a powerful force to counter these
pinheaded pundits in the media who want to cater to all this nonsense
coming from the right wing!"

Next Joe Grushecky and the House Rockers, a local band, really got the
crowd fired up. They gave us a very polished mix of Springsteen tunes with
their own original numbers full of steel city grit and energy. They would
be followed later by Big Head Todd and the Monsters.

Leo Girard took center stage for the USW the third time this day, but was
still in good form. "A wind turbine is made of 200 tons of steel and 8,000
parts," he shouted out, and this crowd knew exactly what he meant.
"Imagine what we could do if we could turn not just this country's jobs,
but the world's jobs green. Imagine if we had the will!" PA Governor Ed
Rendell followed him on the stage, and likewise committed to green and
clean energy innovation on the state level. A number of local Democrats
have got the Steelworkers message, and it was evident at this event. Only
a new industrial policy with major structural reform is going to create
jobs on a scale needed to rescue Pennsylvania and the rest of the Rust
Belt. Only political will combined with street heat could challenge the
G20. But a good number also are still dragging their feet, captured by the
Blue Dogs and bowing to the neoliberal anti-government tirades of the far
right. This is going to be a critical battleground in the months ahead.

I caught a few tunes from Big Head Todd, and then headed back to Beaver
County for the night. The next two days will put the spotlight on
battlegrounds of a different sort, in the streets with the police and in
the realm of public opinion over what is really going on behind the closed
door deliberations of the G20. Stay tuned!

[Carl Davidson is a writer for Beaver County Blue. He is also a national
co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
and a national board member of the US Solidarity Economy Network. He is
author, along with Jerry Harris, of 'Cyberradicalism: A New Left for a
Global Age.' If you like this article, make use of the PayPal button at
http://carldavidson.blogspot.com]


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