GMOs & Organ Damage
Edward S. Herman
Movements V. Correa
Stephen R. Shalom
Epic Recession II
Enemy at Home
Zaps - 03-10
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Obama and the Steady Drift to the Right
After Bill Clinton assumed office in January 1993, with promises of "putting people first," he quickly demoted "the people," putting his most intense political effort into pushing NAFTA, reducing the budget deficit, "reforming" welfare, bailing out investors in Mexican bonds, toughening crime and terror legislation (and filling the prisons), protecting the military budget following the death of the Soviet Union, and warring against Yugoslavia. Clinton failed to improve the medical care system, but did finish the deregulation of finance and the ending of the Glass-Steagall Act that limited bank speculation. In this and other ways Clinton contributed to the late 1990s stock market bubble.
His failure to perform for the people helped bring about the 1994 Gingrich-Republican electoral victory and Clinton's overall performance fed well into the Bush victory and years of accelerated class and external warfare.
The Obama performance confirms that this pattern of Democratic inability to serve popular interests, followed by Democratic political loss, and then further moves to the right, is now built in to the system. This results in large measure from the steady increase in inequality and business/finance/elite power, the concomitant decline of organized labor, and the absence of any other focal points of power for ordinary citizens. This is reflected in a political system where money rules and candidates, to be effective, must be able to raise lots of it. There is a de facto primary in which serious candidates must solicit big money and, in the process, are vetted by that money. Candidates outside the two-party system, even with the prestige of a Ralph Nader, do not enter the money primary and cannot compete in the U.S. political system. The packing of the Supreme Court with rightwingers, with Democratic help, has assisted in this plutocratization process, recently culminating in Citizens United v. FEC, which should make corporate domination of politics even more complete.
The non-corporate candidates might compete if there were a democratic mass media that would make candidates newsworthy in accord with their real qualifications for office and the extent to which their programs were rational and in accord with public interests, needs, and priorities. But this is not the case. The mass media in the United States have become more centralized, more commercialized, more ad-intensive, and more closely integrated into the corporate-dominated political economy. The overtly right-wing component of the media, led by Fox, has become larger, more aggressive, and able to set the tone and keep the "liberal media" in line. None of them like "populism," nor will they challenge the military-industrial complex's (MIC's) growth and command over resources and the associated "power projection" of the imperial state. It has been noted that whenever the Democrats suffer political setbacks, the mainstream media response is that they must move rightward, away from leftist redistributional tendencies and "weakness" on foreign policy. A George W. Bush in office faces no such obstructions as he redistributes income and wealth upwards and advances the MIC command over resources and projection of power; his deficits are treated lightly.
Obama seemed to break this pattern, although this was an illusion. He won, helped greatly by the economic crisis in the late Bush era, with mass support, including many who thought he really meant change—although much of that support was based on fear of more Bush-Cheney and a belief that even a compromised Democrat would be a big improvement. But Obama had been vetted. He received massive funding from financial and corporate interests and, as is well known, made a deal with the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to avoid challenging their dominant role in any health-care reform. Of course, Obama also got a great deal of money in small contributions from his mass base (somewhat less than half the total), but he made no deals with them, merely promising change and a vague new era.
Obama has not provided change, but continuity, and has served the financial/corporate community and MIC rather than the interests of his mass base. This was evident in advance of his election, with his support of the Bush financial bailout, his choice of Cold Warrior Joe Biden as running mate, and his explicit commitment to an escalated Afghan war. His cabinet selections and choice of high level advisors and officials were also telling: Geithner and Summers, Peter Orszag, Hillary Clinton, Arne Duncan (an enemy of public schools), and Robert Gates, a direct holdover from the Bush administration. It is notorious that Obama hasn't even tried to restore habeas corpus or remove the Military Commissions Act of 2006, and has fought for impunity for the war criminals of the prior Administration and the right to hold declared enemy combatants, even U.S. citizens, indefinitely, and also to assassinate them. Glenn Greenwald writes, "Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim that they are associated with terrorism and pose 'a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests.' They're entitled to no charges, no trial, no ability to contest the accusations" ("Presidential Assassinations of US Citizens," Salon, January 27, 2010).
The just announced new freezes on discretionary spending reportedly exempt the Pentagon (and other "security") budgets. Speaking at a recent gathering of large military contractors, Defense Secretary Gates pledged, according to his spokesperson, "to work with the White House to secure steady growth in the Pentagon's budgets over time" (Jen Dimascio, "Robert Gates meets defense industry heads," Politico, January 13, 2010). These are violations of principle and injurious to the Obama mass base beyond all but the most cynical expectations.
Obama's continuity with George W. Bush's foreign policy is also underrated. His Iraq "withdrawal" is a phony, just as his expansion of the Afghan-Pakistan war is real. His collapse in supposedly pushing for a just settlement in Palestine has been complete, ending up with a crude attack on the UN Goldstone Report on Gaza and no resistance whatever to escalated Israeli ethnic cleansing. Israel is once again threatening to attack Lebanon and Syria, with no constraining response from Washington. Obama and his secretary of state are once again threatening Iran with intensified sanctions, if not more. On these matters he and his political party serve as a virtual arm of the pro-Israel lobby.
Less recognized is the extent to which Obama's militarization of foreign policy continues and may even exceed Bush's bullying and power projection. The U.S. collaboration in the overthrow of the elected, populist government of Honduras was a throwback to the era of U.S. sponsorship of National Security States in Latin America. Bush could hardly have surpassed Obama's atrocious performance in Haiti, where the U.S. response to their devastating earthquake was almost completely military—a lagged occupation, with minimal food-water-medical-shelter aid, and even obstruction to aid as airports were preempted for the U.S. military occupation forces and the landing of Hillary Clinton (see John Pilger, "The Kidnapping of Haiti," New Statesman, January 27, 2010; Jesse Hagopian, "Occupation in Humanitarian Clothing," Common Dreams.org, January 24, 2010; Ben Ehrenreich, "Why Did We Focus on Securing Haiti Rather Than Helping Haitians?," Slate, January 21, 2010).
Elsewhere in Latin America, Obama's policies have been regressive, with more open hostility to left regimes in the region, collaboration in the Honduras coup, and acquisition of seven new military bases in Colombia that all send a message of "change" for the worse.
Across the globe, U.S. military bases are expanding, not contracting. The encirclement of Russia and steady stream of war games in the Baltic, Caspian, Mediterranean, and Western Pacific areas continue, the closer engagement with Georgia and efforts to bring it into NATO moves ahead, as do plans for placing missiles along Russia's borders and beyond (see Rick Rozoff, "Bases, Missiles, Wars: U.S. Consolidates Global Military Bases," Stop NATO, January 26, 2010).
Couldn't Obama have changed course, betrayed the establishment instead of the public interest, and altered the structure of national priorities? Couldn't he have used his powerful platform to make the case for real change, mobilizing the masses, and, with their support, moved us in a new direction? Of course, there is no evidence that he really wanted to do this, but I don't believe he could have done it even if he had wanted to and was prepared to take heavy risks in the process.
The institutional obstacles are too great. Not only the Republicans, but a large fraction of the elected Democrats are in thrall to the financial and business community, MIC, and pro-Israel lobby. They would have refused to go along with severe cutbacks in the Pentagon budget, massive outlays for public works and subsidies-bailouts for ordinary citizens, or a single payer health-care system. The business community would have gone on strike, with probably serious capital flight and layoffs. Cutbacks in military operations abroad would have resulted in hysteria in the media about Democratic weakness and betrayal, possible disorder, and maybe a military coup to restore order. Even slow and careful moves along these lines would be furiously opposed and would likely precipitate a political crisis.
The institutional constraints on even moderate liberal change are, I believe, very great at this point in U.S. history. The sequence that seems now built-in is for the Democrats to win occasionally after a Republican tenure that effectively serves the rich and MIC, but disaffects the underlying population; and, in the Obama case, winning with the great boost of an economic collapse during the election season. But the Democrats are now chronically unable to serve the middle class and poor or contain the MIC, because of their own dependence on the rich, MIC, and the Lobby, and the work of the media in support of those same elite interests. With nowhere else to go for effective service to their own interests, ordinary citizens will abandon the Democrats and the system will move further to the right. This is a trajectory that bodes ill for the future.
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.