Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Feckless And The Bold
Updates On Matters Of Importance

The Torture Judges
 
Jose Padil
The United States government continues to torture people, and US courts continue to look the other way, as Glenn Greenwald outlines in Salon. When people try to get justice for being tortured in the courts, the government routinely claims it can't be sued for torture because such a lawsuit would force the government to reveal "state secrets," and US courts always accept the government at its word. The American Civil Liberties Union is asking the Supreme Court whether, at the least, the government can be held accountable for torturing a US citizen on US soil. It's askingfor a little justice in the sad, depressing, utterly disgusting case of the US government's abuse of its power involving US citizen Jose Padilla.

Also, although our government has promised it has stopped torturing them, it continues to hold hundreds of prisoners at Guantanamo, many of whom the government admits did nothing wrong.


Afghanistan: Hell Of Our Own Making 

Joe Glenton tells in The Guardian of England why he refused to go back to Afghanistan and fight in a war that's already lost. Contrary to official propaganda, he says, the Taliban operate with impunity and control large areas of the country, and are back because they have the support of the Afghan people.

Glenton also says that as the NATO effort fails, the instances of the kinds of outrageous behavior we've become accustomed to hearing about are on the rise -- soldiers filming themselves urinating on dead victims and with their victims body parts, and violence against civilians, including mass murder.

In the most egregious of these cases to come to light so far, the US military's story that Sgt. Robert Bales massacred 17 villagers in Afghanistan all by himself continues to unravel. Summaries of recent AP and AFP (Agence France Presse) articles, and of numerous US mainstream media reports put together by War Is A Crime.org paint a picture in which a platoon-sized contingent left its base in the middle of the night and massacred the villagers in retaliation for a roadside bomb that had severely injured some of their fellow soldiers. That is the version given by numerous witnesses in accounts gathered by multiple sources. The US Military, which the new reports show is actively obstructing attempts by Bales' lawyer to collect evidence for his defense, denies there even was a roadside bomb.

I can tell you, from direct experience, that if a higher ranking service member, and especially a career service member, is in danger of taking the fall for something -- in this case it would potentially be for organizing or allowing the massacre of civilians -- it is entirely plausible to believe that if he can pin it on someone of lower rank, he will. That's routinely done. Recall Abu Garib prison, and the low ranking enlistees who went to jail for something Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense, ordered that was then, necessarily, ordered on down the chain of command.


We Are Not All Palestinians Yet 

Since the Palestinian leadership's gamble that it could gain UN recognition for statehood was denied last summer by US diplomatic strong arming, it has run out of options for saving any remnant of land on which to form a state. Palestine has largely fallen from the headlines, replaced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's and Defense Minister Ehud Barak's relentless campaign to mobilize support for an Israeli war on Iran (and keep Israelis' attention off their deteriorating standard of living.) That campaign includes forming alliances with conservative US legislators and the election-year blackmailing President Obama.

Some are predicting that the Palestinian people will, sooner or later, have to take matters into their own hands. A general uprising of the Palestinian people themselves, a Third Intifada, may be on its way, and indeed, inspired by long hunger strikes by two Palestinian political prisoners (one male, one female, who were among the thousands of Palestinians rotting away in Israeli jails, many of them for years without formal charges) some 1,200 Palestinian prisoners have begun a collective hunger strike.

Supporting Hunger Strikers - Mohammed Asad-APA images
But life continues to worsen day by day for the Palestinians, a situation that is intentionally neglected by the big media outlets. One of the things getting worse is the Israeli army's brutalization of Palestinian children. The Israeli army has never shied away from beating, arresting and imprisoning Palestinian children, but there's been a recent escalation of the practice, as captured here on video.

Attacking Palestinian children as they go to and from school has always been a favorite pastime of Israeli settlers, -- i.e., those rabid Zionists not content with the majority of historic Palestine they confiscated in 1948 and who are, with Israeli government complicity, stealing more Palestinian land every day -- and that continues.

Nor are things getting any better for critics of Israel. In a post about the latest college professor to come under attack by supporters of Israel, Glenn Greenwald recounts some of the academics whose careers suffered damage at the hands of the Zionist Lobby, which is one reason why New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says he and many other Jews don't want to write about Israel.



Perceptions From A Police State

I wish somebody would write down the way things are right now, so that there's a baseline, something to compare things to from now on. My conclusion is that more people aren't angry about the economic decline of the American standard of living because they haven't really noticed it. It's been going on for 30 years now. Pretty soon, there won't be many people left who can remember what it was like to grow up in the 1950s and 60s, when one person working in a family could support the family, buy a house, buy one or two cars, and take the family on a nice vacation every year, and when any child who wanted to could go to college and not end up with any debt, let alone the huge financial burden you end up with now, and when the sole wage earner retired with not only Social Security but usually with a pension, too, and could look forward to travel, puttering around in a long since paid-for home place, or even at that second home by the lake. The people who did live that seem to have forgot it.

Likewise we need a base line of our civil liberties as they stand now, becasue certain of them are slipping away. For instance, the internet as a space beyond the government's control is in continual danger. As soon as one internet censorship bill is shot down by organized protest, another is introduced in its place. Now it's CISPA, which lets private companies share personal information about your internet use and accounts, including your passwords, with each other and the government. Obama has said he will veto CISPA, but recall that he said he would veto the ghastly NDAA, too, and then went ahead and signed it.

Meanwhile, in what began as a reaction to the Occupy Wall Street protests, which were systematically dismantled, often violently, in actions coordinated by the Obama administration, the federal government is arming police forces with military equipment, and coordinating crowd control training, and is handing out permits for local agencies to operate spy drones, and armed drones, like candy -- more than 300 so far and counting.

photo credit not provided by source
 Many now are warning of the coming police state. All this while President Obama adopts, owing to, as the Daily Beast shows,  the Occupy Wall Street movement having transformed the debate in the US, a class based reelection strategy.

Which Obama is only doing, it seems to me, out of political necessity. People now know that the hopey changey thing was just so much talk. People are realizing that they, themselves endowed his devoid-of-substance, soaring-rhetoric-filled, 2008 speechifying with their own illusions. For Obama, it's get on the peoples' side or die, at least until all the votes are counted this November.

But just how intrusive, and how vast the Obama government's programs for spying on we, the US people, has become -- spying begun under President George W Bush and expanded by President Obama -- is detailed over two episodes of the Pacifica program Democracy Now, which got the first televised interview with former high-ranking National Security Agency (NSA) officer turned whistle blower William Binney. Using an internet spying program that morphed out of one originally designed by Binney, he says, the government now scoops up virtually everything -- all the emails we send and receive, our web searches, where we go on the internet, our phone calls, out text messages, everything. This is chilling stuff. Transcripts of  both the shows are available, or you can stream the shows or watch or listen or download them as podcasts.

On both shows are filmmaker Laura Poitras, who deals with topics the government finds too sensitive, like the Iraq War, and who has been detained at airports 40 times, and Jacob Applebaum, a cyber security expert who likewise is under continual government surveillance. Applebaum talks about a project he is involved in that has developed browser software anyone can use, with total anonymity, to surf the web, chat, and send and receive emails. It's at Torproject.org. If you're using their software, anyone eavesdropping on you will know that you are signed onto the Tor Project, but that's all they'll know. Every web site you visit will show in the government's spying data base as "Tor Project." The spies won't know what you're doing on the internet, and also won't be able to collect the kind of profiling data -- from your credit card use, travel, where you go on the internet, etc. -- the government now collects that gives it the ability to identify even those people who try to avoid being identified by using aliases.

Incidentally, Barak Obama through his attorney general Eric Holder has charged more American whistle blowers with crimes under the Espionage Act -- six -- than all other presidents combined. Which is having a tremendous chilling effect on the news media's coverage of the government.

Barak Obama is a Democrat, supposedly. Recall that the whistleblower protection laws Obama is getting around by evoking the 1917 Espionage Act were enacted in the 1970s, after the Nixon administration went after the whistleblowers who exposed the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate Affair, by Democratic controlled congresses. Recall how progressive and Liberal and empowered we all felt and how we congratulated ourselves that no one would ever be able to do what Tricky Dick did again.


 The Granddaddy Whistle Blower Of Them All 

Bradley Manning, the private accused of leaking thousands of confidential files to Wikileaks, is approaching his day in military court, and crusading civil rights attorney Michael Ratner, of the the National Lawyers Guild, gives an account of pretrial machinations by the government and their future significance for an open media and free speech in this country. His Guardian piece calls it a "show trial of government secrecy."

In a review of a new book about Manning, David Swanson points out how Manning (if he is guilty as charged) has changed how we see our government, our military, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Speaking of war crimes, a tribunal in Kuala Lumpur is about the begin the second phase of the war crimes trial of George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and some other Bush administration members. The sworn testimony of victims, and witnesses to those crimes, will create a court record interested parties can use to, from here on out, do morally to the Bush war criminals what Barak Obama refused to do legally.


Coma Downtown 

Finally, the all woman rock group Girl In A Coma will be in Albuquerque May 9. I just discovered them last night, while trying to find out who did a cover I'd just heard on Pacifica Radio of the great Richie Valens song Come On, Let's Go.

Girl In a Coma does a nice, enthusiastic cover of that song, which I noticed because it just happened to show up on the margin of the YouTube page that came up while I was searching, so I listened to a couple more of their songs and liked them. The three piece band bangs on their guitars and drums, not with the greatest technical virtuosity I've ever heard, but in a very melodic, an enthusiastically melodic, way. They will be performing songs from their new album, Exits & All The Rest, at the Launchpad along with warmup acts Pinata Protest and Sara Radle, about whom I know nothing. Don't miss it! Owing to my work schedule, I might, but don't you.




Note: I found many of the articles I link to here at Uruknet.info, an excellent web site that publishes original articles and also reprints articles from sources in the media and the blogosphere, especially articles about the Middle East. With each article it reprints, Uruknet provides a link to the original article, and I have linked to that original.
.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

BBC Survey Shows An American Ambivalence About Capitalism

Americans may vote and act like Republicans, but they think and feel like Democrats, and in surprising numbers, like Socialists, according to a new poll conducted for the BBC.

The poll was conducted in 22 countries and asked whether Capitalism is fair, whether it can be reformed with regulation, and whether it is fatally flawed and should be replaced with another system. A big majority of Americans think Capitalism is unfair, but they think it can be made fair with regulation. The US congress - House and Senate -- have been on a deregulation binge for more than 30 years, and Republicans and groups like the Chamber of Commerce campaign on wanting less regulation, not more.
Countries surveyed - Globescan graphic

A surprising 17  percent of Americans think Capitalism is beyond reform and should be replaced with something else. The survey did not ask with what.

Here are the BBC's story, the survey group's summary, and the results in chart form in a pdf file. A section of the chart is reproduced below.


Globalscan graphic






.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

States' Rights To Screw Workers

A pillar of Republican Conservatism is that more power should rest with the states than with the federal government. The almost daily revelations about how easily the American Legislative Exchange Council - ALEC - has had its way with state legislators demonstrates exactly why conservatives want states to have power over more things.

State legislators come cheaper, for one thing. They are easier to bribe with campaign donations. And one can easily imagine that small town, part time lawmakers are more easily influenced by big time corporate lobbyists, too.

More significant, perhaps, is that state governments just don't have the power and resources the federal government has. State legislators don't have huge staffs, and at the state level there's no big multimillion dollar investigative, information gathering departments like the Congressional Budget Office, Office of the Inspector General, Congressional Research Service, or Government Accountability Office that might alert the public, and opposition legislators, to what goes on behind ALEC's closed doors.

Finally, because it operated only at the state level, ALEC has gone under the radar, out of sight of the big news organizations, until recently. There were no New York Times investigations when the Utah state legislature passed an ALEC law designed to transfer federal lands to state control, likewise with the many ALEC laws that have weakened unions or those passed in many states designed to suppress the vote of core Democratic Party voting blocks by making it more difficult to vote for the poor, the working class elderly, African Americans and other minorities.

If ALEC legislation was ever introduced in New Mexico, it's a safe bet that the Albuquerque Journal wouldn't have a clue, nor would any of the state's smaller news organizations. Has ALEC legislation been put forth here? More than likely. Have we heard about it? No.

And if the Journal did somehow find out, their editors would be more likely than those at the New York Times or MSNBC to swallow the excuses for their actions ALEC spokesmen are peddling now.


Bill and Melinda and ALEC  

Incidentally, it's not getting much play in the media but one of the donors that withdrew from ALEC, after the shadowy, anti-worker group was exposed to the light of day, was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which gave $375,000 to ALEC in the past two years.

Bill and Melinda like to parade around the world, appearing at news conferences staged by their publicity department, giving out tiny fractions of the billions they have gained through business practices that amount to extortion (for which they have been charged in many cases,) as if they are liberal minded, progressive thinking people.

Next time you're listening to NPR or public TV and hear their names mentioned as donors, keep in mind that not only do Bill and Melinda give money to groups like ALEC, they are busy helping destroy the public school system via the money they give to the backdoor privatization scheme called charter schools.

One the primary ways Republican Conservatism attacks public education is by blaming (unionized) teachers for all the problems of public education. That's what's behind the current mania about testing students as a way to gauge teacher effectiveness. The Gates' foundation is claiming their donations to ALEC weren't to intended to further the ALEC agenda, but in fact, the $375,000 Bill and Melinda gave to ALEC was for, according to one of their spokesmen, "providing information to ALEC-affiliated state legislators on teacher effectiveness and school finance."





.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

United States Versus United States

Why are cops allowed to use hollow point bullets when the military can't, and why is the Department of Homeland Security stockpiling millions of rounds of hollow point bullets, the kind an 1899 international treaty forbids the military from using and which "expends its energy by expanding and ripping its way through a body?"

Photo - 64memo.com
Dave Lindorff asks in his latest article, "Are they anticipating a mass surge over the Mexican or Canadian border that would require ICE agents to slaughter the masses "yearning to breathe free"? Are there so many terror cells in America that they feel they need to be ready for a mass extermination campaign? Or are they worried that eventually the quiescent and submissive US population will finally decide it's had it with the crooked banks and insurance companies, and are going to start taking the law into their own hands, so that the government will have to institute martial law and start gunning down masses of citizens storming Wall Street or the Halls of Congress?"

You can call that hyperbole if you want, but the question remains, why do the federal government's domestic armed forces need all those killer bullets, and why does government allow its domestic armed forces, including the police, to use them against it's own citizens?

Economic Recovery = Obama Reelection

As I noted earlier, the economic conditions that led to Occupy Wall Street are still very much in place. As Notre Dame economics professor David Ruccio points out in this Pacifica Radio interview and at his web log, when the media talk about economic recovery, they mean the stock market is going up and corporate profits are on the rise. They don't mean wages are recovering (they're not) or that foreclosures are going down (they're going up).

 Unemployment remains so high (officially more than 8 percent; in reality it's around 20 percent when you count those who have stopped looking and those who have had to accept part time work) that employers can offer almost any kind of wage they please, and they need not provide benefits, even those required by law such as Workman's Comp insurance, unemployment insurance or SSI disability insurance.

Government isn't stepping in to stop it, either. Government is so enamored of business and so indifferent to workers, and has been so emaciated by Neoliberal Democrats and Republicans, that employers are simply converting workers to so called "contract employees," for which the employer does not have to pay for legally mandated benefits. At my last job, my wages were simply reduced. At my current job, the employer one day just stopped paying into workman's comp, Social Security, and unemployment insurance. He just stopped paying his fair share. In looking through truck driving ads on Craigslist, it's up to about half, now, of all new positions being advertised as "contract" employment.

In between those two jobs, I worked for six weeks driving in the oil fields, at a job I got through a "temp agency." Quoting the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Russio says that in a recent month, 80 percent of new jobs created by the private sector were temporary.

You can find statistics that will say anything. I've quoted them that show wages, when adjusted for inflation, have been flat since 1980. I've quoted them that show the standard of living of US households in decline.  The Wall Street Journal and Fox News will quote statistics that tell you you're doing fine. 


Here's one Ruccio mentions in his latest post:


"According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in early 2003, median usual weekly earnings (for full-time wage and salary workers) were $335. At the beginning of this year, they were just $334."


I'll add that the average US worker is now working about 50 hours per week, not 40, as we used to. The "median usual weekly earnings" still went down. I'll add that downsizing and layoffs mean the remaining workers have to do the work of those fired and laid off, necessarily, because profits for the 1 percent have continued going up the whole time.

It's Economic Recovery for the 1 percent, continuing Depression for the 99, as Ruccio says. Reader Supported News has a new page keeping track of latest Occupy Wall Street movement developments, which are many and varied and will continue as long as the 99 percent remains mired in a Depression while the 1 percent thrives.


Posted at Occupy Champaign



.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Late Fukishima, Japan
Authorities Making Evacuation Plans  

As a precaution against possible explosions and resulting massive radiation leaks at the ongoing, as yet uncontrolled situation at the Fukishima nuclear plant complex, Japanese authorities are looking for places to which they'd be able to evacuate 40 million people, which includes residents of the vast Tokyo area, as the meltdown at the nuclear plant complex damaged by last year's earthquake and resulting tsunami continues.

The plant continues to leak radiation, and several damaged areas are still in danger, but most critical apparently are 1.424 spent fuel rods, or 460 tons (920,000 pounds) of highly radiative nuclear fuel at plant 4, which are in an elevated cooling pool that threatens to collapse. If that happens, the rods could no longer be cooled and would overheat and explode, and in a worst case scenario would cause the fuel in the complexes' other damaged plants to explode.

Monitoring entities have detected increased radiation levels coming from the plant, and a large cloud of radioactive gas is said to be headed for the US west coast, according to an article from the European Union Times reprinted by Reader Supported News.

The locations being considered by the Japanese authorities as possible evacuation sites include a string of islands along the Russian coastline, and mainland China.

 Read more at Fukishima Update,  and Washington's Blog.


April 18, 2012, 10 p.m.

Current radiation levels as monitored by volunteers at Radiation Network.

For levels in Japan, Hawaii, Alaska, Europe and South America see links at the top of the Radiation Network site.

Hawaii, April 18, 2012, 10 p.m. Mountain Time

.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Christina!
(and Ozzie)

Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's re-nationalization of the oil company YPF, (which, as much of the media fails to mention, was formerly government owned but was privatized in the 1990s,) is drawing many howls of protest and much whining from political and corporate elites who are accustomed to a 40 year almost unfettered forward march of Neoliberalism. But in Argentina one can hear cries of "Cristina, Cristina, Cristina," and read headlines calling her "Dame Courage." The Argentine working classes are solidly behind her, as are those working people worldwide who are aware of the shafting they've received during Neoliberalism's massive transfer of wealth upward -- in other words, working people are happy in most countries except the United States, where a docile and uninformed working class has by and large accepted Neoliberalism like sheep being led to slaughter and isn't even aware of what just happened in Argentina. (The top story right now on my Google news page is about Warren Buffet's colon.)


Meanwhile, professional baseball's Ozzie Guillen, who was excoriated for exercising his free speech rights, i.e., for saying he admires Fidel Castro, seems to have survived a lynching attempt by the right wing media and by the Miami Mafia, sometimes known as the Cuban exile community, those remnants and descendants of the whoremongers, casino owners and plantation bosses Castro threw out of Cuba in 1959.

This cabal of hypocrites -- the right wing and the Miami Mafia -- have been claiming for more than 50 years, since Cuba's liberation, that they want there to be more freedom in Cuba. Their attempts to censor Guillen demonstrate that they want there to be less freedom in the United States.


.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Occupy Update
Simmering

Occupy Wall Street protesters returned to Wall Street this week and have been sleeping on the sidewalk under the protection of a decision by a Manhattan judge in 2,000 that allows sleeping on the sidewalk as a form of political protest, as the New York Times reports.

Eric Michael Johnson for The New York Times
The Democratic party loyalist group MoveOn.org, in conjunction with some unions and other activist groups, is holding massive non violent civil disobedience training sessions as a way to help move the OWS movement forward. This has caused  healthy and needed debate within OWS about how it should relate to groups who support particular candidates and parties. 

Meanwhile, many other OWS groups around the country, and around the world, continue to be active, holding training sessions, informational meetings and protest actions of various kinds. I just checked three. Occupy Albuquerque just held a general assembly meeting at the Peace and Justice Center. Occupy Brussels is posting updates and messages of support for the Palestinian activists who are flying into Ben Gurion airport en masse this weekend and attempting to get into the West Bank. Occupy Abilene is trying to find out who in town supports the May 1 general strike called for by some groups and is posting updates on a statewide organizational meeting in Texas.

Although it stopped the growing momentum of OWS, it wouldn't be accurate to say that the power structure won when it evicted the OWS groups from their many encampments late last fall, but the new face of the movement has yet to be clearly defined. The economic forces that caused the uprising are still very much in place -- banks hold more of the junk securities we bailed them out for than they did when we bailed them out, foreclosures and unemployment remain high, the same students who couldn't find work then can't find it now. Those forces lurk just below the surface of everyday life, and the OWS movement seems to be percolating, seeking a new, still peaceful, route to the surface, but one hot summer day could change everything.



.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sabato's Crystal Ball: Predicting Presidential Elections
Also: It Looks Good For Heinrich, Not So Good For Susanna

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Land Of The Free

Ozzie Guillen - Mike Ehrmann - Getty
Fidel Castro - Adalberto Roque - AFP


The so-called Cuban exile community, or the Miami Mafia as they are called by people who know who they are, who are trying to get Ozzie Guillen fired as manager of a baseball team because he told a reporter he admires Fidel Castro, are the remnants and descendants of the sugar plantation owners, whoremongers and casino owners who, before Fidel threw them out of Cuba following the Revolution of 1953-59, had turned it into a little cesspool of vice and corruption where, under protection of a military dictatorship, they brutally exploited their fellow Cubans so that Cuba could be an offshore playground for rich Americans. These disgusting criminals, who have spent the intervening years obsessed with their lost illicit enterprises and plotting against the Revolution, fled to Miami like drowning rats, and were later joined by a few boatloads of more common criminals who Castro let out of prison over the years and allowed to cruise over to Florida. Recall the so called Mariel boat lift, etc.

But that's your Cuban exile community, who exert so much control over Florida politics and US policy when it comes to Cuba. These criminals, who are conservative Republicans, like that whole rat bag of conservatism, think about the constitution only when they can use it to prevent others from doing things they don't like. It's just like Republican Christians and the Bible. It's for you to follow, not me.

Thanks to their leaving Cuba, Cubans enjoy things like excellent, free universal health care and free college, things Americans can only dream about. Like conservatives in general, they want those things for themselves, and to hell with everyone else. They want to be able to say what they think about Fidel Castro, and to hell with everyone else.

Forget about the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, which they rise and sing before baseball games. Forget about freedom of speech, forget about the Constitution, forget about the Bill of Rights, the 1st Amendment. Where they are concerned, forget about the rule of law. Why should they bother with adherence to the law? They never did while they were in Cuba.



.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Progressive Politicians From New Mexico Are Rare:
Only Ben Ray Lujan Is A Member Of The Congressional Progressive Caucus
Fellow Democrats Martin Heinrich, Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman are not


Florida Republican Tea Bagger Congressman Allen West is inspiring some headlines after making the bizarre Joseph McCarthy-like claim there are 75-81 "Communists" in the US congress. Pressed for a list of names his office said West was referring to members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

West of course is a blithering idiot. As a Socialist myself, I can assure you there is no one in the US congress (or White House) who comes even remotely close to qualifying as a radical let alone a Socialist or Communist. West, a freshman congressman, who is gaining a reputation for his blithering idiocy, is also, to be somewhat fair, the product of an America that has moved so far to the right since Ronald Reagan that moderate Democrats seem like Far Left radicals to some, and the product of an American political discourse that for reasons directly related to the first one is dumbed down, vitriolic and incapable of being a vehicle for serious discussion.

But who are these Progressives in the congress? I copied the list below directly from the Congressional Progressive Caucus web site this evening. (Members are listed alphabetically, if you are looking for a particular person.)



Caucus Members

Co-Chairs

Keith Ellison
Raúl Grijalva

Vice Chairs

Tammy Baldwin
Judy Chu
William “Lacy” Clay
Sheila Jackson-Lee
Chellie Pingree

Whip

Hank Johnson

Senate Member

Bernie Sanders

House Members

Karen Bass
Xavier Becerra
Earl Blumenauer
Corrine Brown
Michael Capuano
Andre Carson
Donna Christensen
Yvette Clarke
Emanuel Cleaver
David Cicilline
Steve Cohen
John Conyers
Elijah Cummings
Danny Davis
Peter DeFazio
Rosa DeLauro
Donna Edwards
Sam Farr
Chaka Fattah
Bob Filner
Barney Frank
Marcia Fudge
Luis Gutierrez
Janice Hahn
Maurice Hinchey
Mazie Hirono
Rush Holt
Michael Honda
Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Eddie Bernice Johnson
Marcy Kaptur
Dennis Kucinich
Barbara Lee
John Lewis
David Loebsack
Ben Ray Lujan
Carolyn Maloney
Ed Markey
Jim McDermott
James McGovern
Brad Miller
George Miller
Gwen Moore
Jim Moran
Jerrold Nadler
Eleanor Holmes Norton
John Olver
Frank Pallone
Ed Pastor
Jared Polis
Charles Rangel
Laura Richardson
Lucille Roybal-Allard
Bobby Rush
Linda Sanchez
Jan Schakowsky
Jose Serrano
Louise Slaughter
Pete Stark
Bennie Thompson
John Tierney
Nydia Velazquez
Maxine Waters
Mel Watt
Peter Welch
Frederica Wilson
Lynn Woolsey


Progressive, incidentally, is a term that has been around for a long time, but in recent years has come to be used in place of the term Liberal, after Ronald Reagan succeeded in making the word Liberal a derogatory epithet. The people listed above, not being afraid to have their names associated with progressive political ideas, can be counted on to stand with working people when push comes to shove. Members of congress who may have progressive tendencies but who, out of political calculation, didn't join the caucus, can be counted on, when push comes to shove, to be politically calculating.


.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

(note: new Socialist Kitchen Tips added, see link at right)


Tulsa's Racist Past and Present

The arrests of two Whites* for the senseless killings of Blacks in Tulsa, OK, over the past few days won't surprise the people who have been trying to write the history, that had been officially buried by Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma, of the 1921 destruction of Tulsa's Black neighborhood by White mobs and the massacre of 300 of its residents.

(*update: initially identified by police as Whites, one suspect may be part Cherokee Indian. The other is his White, older roommate. Their victims all are Black.)

Photo - Dan Ross

 Greenwood Avenue, the main street of Tulsa's racially segregated Greenwood section, was called The Black Wall Street because Greenwood was so prosperous. Greenwood had its own banks, its own, thriving businesses, and two newspapers. Because it had its own banks, many Greenwood residents were homeowners. But the fact that Greenwood was burned to the ground by a mob of Whites who had been deputized by the sheriff, displacing 10,000 people, was for 80 years not even acknowledged by the state of Oklahoma, and one of the worst instances of racial violence in US history is still not fully and accurately explained in Oklahoma school textbooks.

McFarlin Library, University of Tulsa

The state of Oklahoma didn't even look into the matter until the year 2000, and did then only after decades of activism. Here are three shorter accounts of the attacks, in case CNN or Fox News don't get around mentioning them, and there's this well researched paper by Scott Ellsworth, and this recent New York Times story. It's a chapter of American history few know about. I hadn't heard about it until a couple years ago, when Oklahoma native Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, the radical American Indian Movement and feminist activist, now a retired academic and a historian, mentioned it on a Pacifica Radio program.

Racism of course isn't limited to Tulsa. It isn't limited to the White race, although since the world has come under first White European and more recently White dominated American domination it sure seems that way sometimes because Whites have been able to use their power to act on their inherent racism, but it isn't limited to whites. Racism is simply a function of human nature, and not even liberal academia has confronted what, exactly, it is that causes racism and its brothers tribalism and nationalism (or as nationalism is often called here in the US, patriotism) and hasn't honestly looked into what it is that causes that "us versus them" dynamic to become established in the human psyche. And despite its invaluable uses for groups who have been discriminated against, dispossessed, enslaved and murdered, we haven't begun to see the downside of grouping ourselves into the groups by which we identify ourselves, and identify ourselves in opposition to other groups, and we haven't begun to dissect the drive that causes competition and its ugly side effects, the threads of which are intertwined with all of it.

But we first of course need to acknowledge that racism exists. We need to push back the Conservative, Republican lie that racism doesn't exist any more, that it's all in our past. Most importantly, we need to acknowledge it so that it's victims, like the survivors of the horrendous mob violence in Tulsa in 1921, can receive justice and live the same kind of lives as anybody else.


.

Friday, April 6, 2012

amen

A few from the Facebook page of Andrew Carter in Florida. There are many more in his "album."






And from the No Hope For Human Race Facebook page album.






.