GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
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JOURNAL OF THE 22ND YEAR
Bailout & Sellout
Heritage Fights Back
LAW & ORDER
Carlos Perez de alejo
War Without End
THEORY & PRACTICE
Campesina V Agrofuel
John e. Peck
Elections & Change
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Bailouts & Sellouts
It is amazing to see sums now running into the trillions being allocated almost entirely to substantial market players, many of whom were heavily involved in producing the financial debacle we are now suffering. The priorities of the U.S. establishment, including both the leading Democrats as well as the Republicans and mainstream media, are clear—at the top for funds and solicitude are the military-industrial complex and those involved in the imperial projection of power, along with the country's overlapping business and financial elite. There is a big gap then before we get to the middle class; and much of the lower middle class and poor are treated as disposable and even threats.
What follows is, first, that the military and imperial-expansion budget, now greater than a trillion dollars, larded with incredible waste and fraud as well as overkill, and provoking a global arms race while funding the destabilization of the world, is for all practical purposes outside the orbit of discussion about how we deal with a financial crisis and serious shortage of resources for the civil society.
In the case of the financial crisis and bailout, it is remarkable how much money can be mobilized very quickly to rush to the aid of the big boys—at the expense of the taxpayer—in contrast with the invariable struggle and pain to provide relatively small sums for the benefit of ordinary citizens and even more struggle and elite anger to provide resources for the disposables and poor. Of course this is a crisis that threatens systemic disaster. But there are many crises involving millions that are chronic and serious—such as the condition of the urban poor, of the New Orleans refugees, even a wide swathe of the middle class, and the fantastic growth of imprisonment—that don't produce an aura of crisis or financial resources to cope (except with police and prisons).
One must also be struck by the fact that management of the crisis was left in the hands of people who urged policies that led to the unfortunate result, and failed to see it even as it gathered steam. There is also the matter of gross conflict-of-interest in centering management of the financial crisis in the hands of Henry Paulson, straight from one of the crisis producers, Goldman Sachs. Mister Conflict-Of-Interest even doled out public money to his own firm as well as to that firm's clients; Mister Steady Bungler also made policy misjudgments and shifts on a weekly basis, without threat to his authority. This is a manifestation of power, displayed throughout this business society, where, for example, labor funding or sponsoring of a PBS program can be ruled out on conflict-of-interest rules, but massive and regular business funding is not questioned. Business conflict-of-interest is normalized across the board.
Paulson can dole out these huge funds without advance notice to any independent parties, or full disclosure of recipients or terms; and where terms are disclosed, they are usually vague, not taxpayer friendly, and fail to give the government powers commensurate with the taxpayers' investment and risk. The notion that this is "Bush socialism" is nonsensical, on a par with making Bush a socialist in paying out taxpayer money to Halliburton and Blackwater for their work in Iraq. The Bush cabal has been throwing vast sums into private hands via war contracting and privatization for years. This is looting, not socialism.
It is also notable how bipartisan the looting has been. Bipartisanship is a virtue of the Democratic Party, and the mainstream media are pleased to see that Party so bipartisan and "pragmatic," meaning that they avoid populism and are willing, even eager, to compromise with the Republicans even when their voting constituency wants them to do otherwise. Obama seems to be clearly in that great tradition, being openly commended by Karl Rove, Joe Lieberman, Max Boot, John McCain, and David Brooks for his appointments (see Jeremy Scahill, "'Better Than Cats!,' Neocons, Republicans, War Criminals, Rave About Obama's 'Team of Rivals'," Huffington Post, November 30, 2008), and mentioned explicitly in the New York Times for his bipartisanship and courting of the Republicans for policy inputs (Jeff Zeleny, "Initial Steps by Obama Suggest a Bipartisan Flair," NYT, November 24, 2008). The contrast with the Republicans' treatment of Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush's appointments of Republican hardliners nearly across the board, could hardly be more dramatic.
The media don't press the Republicans toward bipartisanship and pragmatism, only the Democrats, and the Democrats oblige. They have voted to fund the looting of taxpayers (and Iraqis) throughout the invasion-occupation of Iraq. Of course, it is important that they kept doing this even after the voters gave them a congressional majority in 2006, quite evidently based on the public's rejection of the Iraq policy and desire to get out. (Democratic leaders rationalized this on the grounds that they didn't have the 60 votes needed to override a veto; but they had enough votes to refuse funding till conditions were met that forced withdrawal, a power which they failed to use.) In the bailout looting, Nancy Pelosi made a vigorous effort to get the Democrats to go along with the initial $700 billion blank check to Paulson and she has been bipartisan all the way on this subject, just as she, Harry Reid, and Rahm Emanuel were bipartisan with Bush-Cheney on funding the Iraq occupation-pacification.
We should also note that Pelosi has showed her pragmatism and bipartisan qualities in now promising to go after New York Democratic congressperson Charles Rangel, "after a wide-ranging House investigation into ethical questions" (Raymond Hernandez, "Pelosi says Inquiry Into Ethics Questions Concerning Rangel Will Move Swiftly," NYT, November 27, 2008), while maintaining her "off the table" stance for Bush impeachment for serial violations of the U.S. Constitution, the UN Charter, and the Geneva Agreements. Of course, Pelosi going after the Bush-Cheney cabal for violation of the Geneva Agreements would have run into the problem that while on the House Intelligence Committee she was told about the use of water-boarding in 2002 and did not object. Prosecution of Bush and Cheney for such legal violations would have been awkward not only on water-boarding, but based on Democratic votes on war funding, the PATRIOT Act, and the Military Commissions Act. Illegal war, constitution busting, and torture have been bipartisan.
One of the most depressing features of the 2008 election was that "liberal" San Francisco Democrats voted Pelosi back to the House in a crushing primary victory over Cindy Sheehan and then in an easy victory in the general election as well. Pelosi should actually be impeached for her failure to pursue a Bush-Cheney impeachment, given her obligation to uphold the Constitution. Pelosi epitomizes Democratic pragmatism, bipartisanship, and the sellout of ordinary citizens, but she thrives—is easily reelected, was lauded by Joan Claybrook of Public Citizen ("Pelosi Leads Democrats With Progressive Politics," Public Citizen, September-October 2007), and was even invited to speak at a gathering of liberal media activists at the Kos-organized Net-Roots Nation conference in Austin, Texas in July 2007.
It is interesting that for a target country, like Serbia, or with the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia (Kampuchea), "moving forward" somehow requires that villains be tried and punished for past crimes so that victims can be satisfied with some kind of "justice" and potential villains can learn that crime doesn't pay. But the idea that this might apply to the United States is confined to a fringe left and a human rights body like Amnesty International, which calls for precisely what the United States and its toadies call for in the case of targets—"criminal investigations…reject impunity for crimes under international law…ensure that victims of human rights violations…will have meaningful access to redress and remedy" (AI, "USA: Counter Terror with Justice: A checklist for the next US President," November 5, 2008).
Bush, Cheney, and company are not only not removed from office before their term is up, or threatened with prosecution later, they can continue to enact rules and orders benefiting their cronies, at taxpayer expense, up to their last moment in office and without impediment. The real surprise is that they haven't started another war, though they may still do that (this is written on December 4, 2008). But they have proved that in this country and in this global environment, U.S. leaders can get away with huge crimes, endless lying, facilitating massive crony capitalist theft, and constitution busting. There seems to be no impunity limit for U.S. leaders that serve the military-industrial complex and business and financial elite so well, even if crudely, incompetently, and perhaps even to elite disadvantage.
Although George Bush I was exceedingly vulnerable to an investigation of his relations with Saddam Hussein (weapons supply and loans), the Clinton administration declined to pursue this, in a familiar (Democratic) act of bipartisanship. Clinton was rewarded by steady Republican attacks, regular non-cooperation, even a temporary government shutdown, and eventually impeachment. The likelihood that President Obama will support the investigation and prosecution of the Bush-Cheney administration's far more extensive and serious crimes is close to zero. Two Obama advisers have reportedly stated, "There's little, if any, chance" of the Obama administration prosecuting those who authorized or implemented torture (Lara Jakes Jordan, "Obama advisers: No charges likely against workers who authorized harsh interrogation methods," AP, November 18, 2008): it would violate the principles of bipartisanship so dear to the Democrats and encouraged by the media. And the Democrats are not only badly compromised themselves, they too have internalized the belief that international law does not apply to this country. Hence, "justice" for "them," "impunity" for "us."
We seem to be entering another era of Democratic "moves to the center" and, instead of "creating a new reality," adjustment to the existing reality of power.
Edward S. Herman is an author, economist, political columnist, and media critic.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.