PROTESTING THE PROSECUTION
Holy Land 5
FROM THE WEB
Net Briefs - 07-09
Nicolas J.S. Davies
Big Brother AT&T
Courts & Education
Socialists or Satanists?
Target Planned Parenthood
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
A Jewish Anarchist
Tyranny of Oil
OFF THE TABLE
Z PAPERS ON VISION & STRATEGY
Z PAPERS ON VISION & STRATEGY
Gabriel matthew Schivone
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
John Yoo, Social Security, & Korean Threat
The liberalism of the Philadelphia Inquirer has long been something of a laugh, as its leaders and editors have persistently strained their backs bending rearward to supply right-wing commentators and prove their own non-liberal credentials. They were always harsh on Clinton, calling for his resignation for his unsaintly behavior, but never calling for the resignation or impeachment of the rather more serious law violator George W. Bush. They gave their editorial approval to Supreme Court seats for John Roberts and Samuel Alito, while claiming an interest in court "balance." Their most regular columnist over the past 20 years has been the "enlightening" Charles Krauthammer. All in all their commentaries have been a combination of trivia and obfuscation.
The Inquirer was acquired from the McClatchy Company in 2006 by a local syndicate led by ad executive and Bush activist Brian Tierney. This was not a wise financial investment as, despite valiant and sometimes compromising ad campaigns, the newspaper's decline put the paper into bankruptcy proceedings. But Tierney, so far, maintains control. His main imprint, apart from ad intensity and lightening the paper's content, has been a strong push to the right on the editorial page with the addition of former Senator Rick Santorum as a columnist, along with right-winger Michael Smerconish—and with a lineup including Mark Bowden, Jonathan Last, Kevin Ferris, and Krauthammer.
The inside "left" is Trudy Rubin, who loved Yeltsin, thought that Arafat's death made peace in the Middle East possible, and finds each "surge" by U.S. forces in distant lands promising even if not a sure winner.
It was in this context that Tierney urged the hiring of John Yoo as a regular contributor. This may have been a mistake. One reason is that Yoo is notorious for his advocacy of torture and executive power over-reach, both involving legal and constitutional violations. This makes him at minimum an opponent of the rule of law, but also a candidate for trial as a war criminal. That Tierney and the editors would actually solicit such a person as a commentator does not speak well for their own morality or sense.
A second reason why this choice was problematic is that it is overkill—the Inquirer already has four regular commentators who are open defenders of torture (Smerconish, Krauthammer, Ferris, and Bowden), and then there is Santorum who, in effect, voted for it by supporting the Military Commissions Act. Editor Harold Jackson defended the Yoo appointment, among other reasons, on the grounds of "wanting to make sure our pages present alternative points of view" ("Why I Hired John Yoo," May 17). This is a double hypocrisy: the right-wing gang they already installed offers plenty of defense of that "alternative view" on torture and it is, in fact, a genuine left presence that is missing on the "Inky" editorial page: somebody who would call for the prosecution of home-country war criminals; someone who would oppose "free trade" (i.e., special protection of foreign [U.S.] investors in Third World states); someone who would call for an end to "power projection" under the guise of a "war on terror" and for major cutbacks in the military budget. The Inquirer provides nobody like this and has even cut back its occasional visitors from the left.
The bringing in of Yoo has caused Tierney and the editors some headaches, as manifested in Harold Jackson's feeble but aggressive defense. Criticism was widespread, extending to coverage on "Democracy Now!," attacks on many blogs, a campaign initiated by the phone company CREDO, local protests, and many highly critical emails and letters to the editor.
Possibly as part of a response to these criticisms, the Inquirer offered readers a new regular commentator, Susan Estrich. Estrich was campaign manager for Michael Dukakis in 1988, has been the nominal "leftist" on Fox, and is a reputed feminist—so for the Inquirer leadership this package presumably makes her a leftist and offset to Yoo. But the first column of this alleged feminist-leftist was a nasty and dishonest attack on Michelle Obama ("Powerful women: They just can't win," May 24). Estrich says that "half the people I run into every day" don't "love" Ms. Obama, and her article is largely a snide list of Michelle Obama's alleged mistakes and reasons why people "resent her." In the 14th paragraph Estrich finally mentions that her own feeling that many people don't like Ms. Obama conflicts with "whatever the polls say." In fact, a USA Today/Gallup poll published on April 24 found that 79 percent of those polled approve of the way Michelle Obama has handled her position while only 8 percent disapprove. A solid majority of Republicans also approve of her performance. Her rates are also higher than those of her husband (Jeffrey M. Jones, "Michelle Obama's Favorable Rating Eclipses Her Husband's," Gallup, April 2, 2009, www.gallup.com).
It takes some chutzpah to refuse to confront such clear poll results. How can powerful women "win" when they are treated in this unfair attack mode? Estrich is clearly going to be a great addition to "intellectual" life in Philadelphia.
Medicare, Social Security, and Pentagon Insolvency
The media and pundits are once again worried that the trust funds for Medicare and Social Security might run out of money and fall into a state of insolvency (see Robert Pear, "Recession Adds to Fiscal Peril of U.S. Benefits," NYT, May 13, 2009). There have been regular little crises of fear that these funds face a financial debacle and billionaire former investment banker Pete Peterson has made a late-life work of, and plugged lots of dollars into, a campaign to inject fear and create the moral environment for cutbacks in, and possible privatization of, Social Security. In fact, while Medicare does present serious problems, mainly because of the absence of single payer and cost controls in the medical system, Social Security won't face even minor funding problems for decades. The periodic hysteria reflects establishment hostility to a well-working government system that services ordinary people.
The Pentagon has regular gigantic overruns in its payments for weapons systems and fraud and waste are endemic. But the Pentagon is never threatened with "insolvency." Its overruns and waste are simply passed on to taxpayers. The supine media, while occasionally chiding the Pentagon for, say, "running almost $300 billion over estimates and averaging 22 months behind delivery" never talk about any crisis in the funding of overkill, military boondoggles, and waste (editorial, "Military-Industrial Redux," NYT, May 22, 2009). In a 2005 ZNet blog, writer David Peterson imagined a situation where the Pentagon was funded by worker taxes and implicitly by a taxpayer-based trust fund, which it threatened to exceed drastically, putting the Pentagon on the road to bankruptcy. Thus, "Unfortunately, the ratio of workers-paying-taxes to wars-being-waged is falling steadily. By the year 2018, it is projected that the Department's future expenditures will begin to exceed its revenues. What this means is that by 2018, the Department will go into the red—spending more on waging wars than it receives in taxes. After that, the shortfalls will grow larger until 2042, when the whole Department of Defense will go bankrupt. By the time today's workers in their mid-20s begin to retire, we expect to be fighting wars on as many as six different continents. If we do not fix the Department's funding mechanism, it will not be able to pay for the wars we promise to wage on behalf of our children and our grandchildren" ("Social Contracts, American-Style," ZNet, March 13, 2005).
Laughable, isn't it? We know that in the real world the taxpayer funds the Pentagon on an open-ended basis without any trust funds or limits beyond what logrolling can produce. After all, it is protecting our "national security," using the phrase with its usual infinite elasticity to cover anything the Pentagon, its contractors, their lobbyists, and the congressional servants of the military-industrial complex want. We live in what Ralph Lapp called a "weapons culture," which is at quite a distance from a democratic or humane culture.
President Obama has had to adapt to these structural biases. Despite the economic crisis, he isn't proposing to end the Iraq and Afghan-Pakistan wars and he isn't cutting the military budget, for which he proposes a $30 billion increase in the next fiscal year. To do otherwise would be to vindicate the charge that the Democrats are weak on national security, a chronic charge that the Democrats must constantly deny and disprove in the weapons culture. It was interesting to read how Defense Secretary Gates has been debating which weapons programs might have to be sacrificed or cut back to keep the military budget within small growth limits (e.g., Christopher Drew and Elisabeth Bumiller, "Military Budget Reflects a Shift in U.S. Strategy," NYT, April 6, 2009). This is Pentagon business, not the business of elected officials and leaders, who might debate and veto funds for foreclosure victims or other civil society programs, but in a long tradition the military budget is out of bounds.
The North Korean Threat
No wonder the military budget is out of bounds, given the steady stream of "National Security Threats." Consider North Korea, audaciously testing a missile when the Godfather and its Pooh-Bah global associates agree that only the United States, Israel, and other Godfather-approved parties can thumb their noses at the Non-Proliferation Treaty and international law more generally. Iran could do it under the Shah, but Iran's thumb-your-nose rights ended with the Shah's overthrow. With this "dire" North Korea threat—that it might be able to defend itself—the international community and media are up in arms, quaking almost as severely as they were at the threatened mushroom cloud from Saddam's weapons of mass destruction in 2002-2003.
But if the North Korean "threat" disappears, thankfully we can return to Iran. And maybe Russia, newly aggressive in the face of all those Western-funded and organized "democratic" revolutions and enlarged arms supply and joint military exercises around its borders. Those paranoids apparently see something there beyond a commitment to democracy everywhere.
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: email@example.com; 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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: email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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: email@example.com; 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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: email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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/; email@example.com.
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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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.