FROM THE WEB
Net Briefs 06-11
Buy Cable, Free Gun
Assault on Civil Liberties
SC Lets DA Off
Roots of Stonewall
Free Speech for People
Meaning of Madison
Budgets, Taxes, Classes
The Missing Story
War on the Earth
Zaps - 06/11
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.
Reflections on the U.S. Counterrevolution
We are in the midst of a counterrevolution and intensifying class war. What makes its present efflorescence so striking is that it is taking place under the presidency of Barack Obama, a man elected in good measure by an aroused mass base that is now taking its lumps. The power structure no longer permits serious attention to the welfare of that mass base. The great upward redistribution of income, the increased importance of money in elections, the centralization of corporate and media control and the media's rightward drift, globalization, outsourcing, the weakening of organized labor, and the permanent war system, have all combined to effectively eliminate a "populist" option in politics. The Democrats invariably betray their voting base, but not their investor base.
This is dramatically evident in polls, which regularly show that the majority doesn't approve of the serial wars in which the leadership's engage (including the attack on Libya), would prefer more infrastructure and educational expenditures and smaller "defense" outlays, are more worried about jobs than the deficit, and do not favor slashing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The mainstream media, as part of the elite, play down or misrepresent these poll results, which occur despite a propaganda barrage by this same media that supports the permanent war system and other essential ingredients of the counterrevolution. The media certainly do not allow the poll-expressed preferences to influence their news coverage, by, for example, featuring more heavily the politics of procurement, military waste, or the relative administrative costs of Medicare and private medical insurance. "National security" outlays are normalized, discussions of tradeoffs minimized. Years ago the New York Times had annual op-ed columns which would graphically describe what the tax dollars for a new fleet of bombers, fighters, helicopter gunships, or another atomic submarine or aircraft carrier would buy in schools, teachers, bridges, and roads. But that was apparently too revealing and was long since discontinued and never replaced.
It is also of interest to see how closely the threat of "deficits" is correlated with the threat of "populism," i.e., a concern for the well-being of ordinary citizens. This deficit threat quickly leaps to prominence when a Democrat assumes the presidency, however modest that populist threat might really be. Carter, Clinton, and now Obama have found outcries of menacing fiscal deficits and national bankruptcy ever present during their terms of office, while a Reagan or George W. Bush can greatly enlarge the deficit and national debt with only modest expressions of concern by important people, and with no Tea Parties organized to urge fiscal sanity (among other matters). The mainstream media do not discuss or explain this differential treatment—it just happens, with their close cooperation. In fact, the media give the Tea Party very disproportionate as well as uncritical attention, whether out of sympathy or fear of being tagged "liberal media" (very often both).
Word usage more generally accommodates to counterrevolutionary and class warfare demands. The key word "entitlement" has come to mean claims of ordinary citizens and "special interests" (usually some segment of the general population like unions or the aged), with the implication that these claims are somehow undeserved, or excessive, and involve favoritism toward the old at the expense of the young. The wealthy and the leaders of the military-industrial complex do not get their tax breaks, subsidies, and contracts as "entitlements," nor do they get "handouts" or "doles." They get taxpayer dollars as incentives and rewards for services rendered and/or possible productive flows and trickles-down to the lesser citizens. Military budgets are, of course, for "national security."The link between "entitlements" and "populism" is clear—both involve benefits to the majority and are in consequence targets in counterrevolution and class warfare.
"Moderates" and "centrists" see the light and are prepared to chop away at these entitlements, while protecting elite claims against those who seem bent on a "class war," or who are insensitive to our "national security" needs that continue to enlarge on all continents and bodies of water (including the Baltic and Black Seas). The mainstream media love moderates and centrists so these are "purr" words, as opposed to "snarl" words like entitlements and populism. It is a notable and humorous fact that the media regularly admonish the Democrats to move to the center whenever the latter suffer election setbacks. The Democrats may have already done so with a vengeance and lost heavily and polls may show the public preferring populist policies and peace and reduced arms, but the corporate community and media editors don't prefer them so "Get thee to the center."
The centrists and moderates in and out of the media regard Paul Ryan's budget plan as "serious" and "courageous." The centrist-moderates also show themselves to be serious and courageous in treating the Ryan plan with an open mind when it seems that public awareness of its content causes strong negative reactions. Politicians who are prepared (or eager) to push their country into a foreign war are regularly described as courageous, even more so when the polls and unusually large marching crowds indicate that their voting constituency is opposed to the war. Bill Clinton was described as courageous in spending much of his political capital in getting the North American Free Trade Agreement passed into law in 1993, when his Democratic voting constituency and Democratic legislators clearly opposed it and only the corporate community (and mainstream media) favored it. Here again there is a nice correlation between establishment designation with a purr word (courage) and adherence to a corporate-mainstream media party line—getting us into a war; anti-populist and pro-corporate "reforms."
Ryan v. the People
The anti-populist, pro-counterrevolution and class war bias of the media has been clearly displayed in their comparative treatments of the Paul Ryan budget plan and the People's Budget offered on April 6 by congresspeople Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva, co-chairs of the 80-member Congressional Progressive Caucus. Amusingly, the economist Jeffrey Sachs wrote a piece in the Huffington Post on April 8 in which he calls the Ryan plan "far right" and an "absurdly vicious attack on the poor and working class," whereas the People's Budget is "centrist," as on point after point it advocates what polls show to be majority demands and reflects "the true values of the American people" ("The People's Budget: What a 'Centrist' Budget Should Look Like").
Years ago Jeffrey Sachs was famous and popular with the mainstream media as an adviser to various governments (Poland, Bolivia, Russia) and the IMF, as well as an advocate of "structural adjustment" policies. In fact, in 1996, I referred to him as the "neoliberal world's leading shock therapist" ("War Criminals [Economics Division]: The Dirty Twenty," Z Magazine, November 1996). But Sachs subsequently changed into a populist, becoming badly out of step with the establishment moderates and centrists. He is now marginalized with his fellow immoderates and extremists to the left of Barack Obama, who speak for a People's Budget or something even more absurd. Sachs's current budgetary views were mentioned recently in the media only by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post, who notes Sach's claim that the People's Budget is "centrist" and that Obama's is "right of center." This serves Milbank only as a joke and as the basis for a putdown on the impracticality of these extremists, with nary a mention of what the public might want on these matters ("If Progressives Ran the World," WP, April 14, 2011).
Apart from Milbank, the Washington Post ignored the People's Budget and the New York Times never even mentioned it as a news item. There was, however, a column by Paul Krugman in the New York Times that did give the People's Budget a strong pat on the back ("Let's Take a Hike," April 24, 2011), but that column stood alone. On the other hand, Paul Ryan's budget plan got massive mainstream media attention and, as noted, in the familiar routine, he was found to be "courageous" (Brooks, Zakaria) and his proposals that Sachs found "absurdly vicious" were "serious" and worthy of attention (see Fair's Media Advisory: "Mr. Serious: the Ryan budget plan and the beltway media," April 14, 2011). Of course, Ryan's budget was put forward by the Republican head of the House Budget Committee and was passed in the House, but it is far from enactment into law and its extremism and huge distance from public interests and preferences makes it even more urgent that it be compared with alternatives like the People's Budget. That is surely what a democratic media would do, but we don't have one.
The party line which the mainstream media have internalized, that contributes to the counterrevolutionary process and rules out serious attention to the People's Budget, is displayed in Milbank's piece and Richard W. Stevenson's news article discussion of the budget issues in the New York Times ("The Budget Debate, Revealed," April 17, 2011). For Milbank, the authors of the People's Budget are "starry-eyed progressives," not serious or courageous. Stevenson never mentions the People's Budget.
Stevenson also never mentions the Pentagon/national security budget, while Milbank is amused at the audacity and unrealism of the authors of the People's Budget who want to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and substantially reduce the size of U.S. military forces—as does the obviously "irrelevant" underlying population. Milbank is horrified at the thought that the "weapons programs would go begging." Stevenson tells us that the real issue posed by the Ryan budget and Tea-Party-moment Republicans is the size of the government—Ryan's, he says, is "a manifesto for limited government." But Stevenson and the established ideology don't include the Pentagon/National Security complex in something called "government," which obscures the fact that it is more the composition of government than its total size that is at stake.
Stevenson says that it is the aging of the baby boomers and "costs of maintaining Medicare and Social Security [that] have put the two pillars of the social welfare system on the table for re-examination." He never allows the possibility that they are back on the table by choice of the dominant power interests, which also causes the military budget and tax increases for the elite and corporations not to be on the table. The former are "entitlements," hence eligible; the latter are elite-approved, hence out of Stevenson's sight. He fails to mention that the Ryan plan does nothing to impede rising medical costs, but does eventually shift medical costs from the government and insurance companies to aging medical users, which is why Dean Baker contends that the Ryan plan is basically not hostile to big government but is about shifting costs and benefits ("The Battle Is Over Money, Not Philosophy," Truthout, April 14, 2011).
Stevenson bypasses the jobs issue, in accord with the establishment consensus—he tells us that the tepid nature of the recovery "following big stimulus packages" has called into question "Keynesianism as the default policy option for government." But, even at the time they were enacted, critics like Baker and Krugman were calling the stimulus packages clearly inadequate. The "markets" and "deregulation" failed even more clearly, as did the Bush tax cuts, but Stevenson doesn't mention these as flawed default options or allow a debate on these issues.
On tax increases, Stevenson quotes William Galston (a former Clinton administration official, now at Brookings, who is to Stevenson's "left") that the Democrats "can no longer say with a straight face that raising taxes on the wealthy is going to enable them to pay over the next generation for the programs they cherish." But can anybody say with a straight face that they couldn't contribute a great deal? And increased corporate taxes and closing tax loopholes? And who has claimed that relying on them alone would solve all problems? That exhausts Stevenson's "debate" on taxes.
The mainstream media follow the party line adhered to by Milbank and Stevenson, with the entitlements of the majority subjected to biased debate and attack, elite privileges kept out of range and confined to "unserious" People's Budgets. There are exceptions, like Paul Krugman, but they are rare. Interestingly, in his useful "The Intimidated Fed" (April 30, 2011), Krugman points out that, although inflation is low and is predicted by Fed analysts to stay low, whereas unemployment is high and expected to come down painfully slowly, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke has no plan for further action to reduce unemployment. Krugman explains this as a result of intimidation by inflation-mongers who keep seeing runaway inflation as imminent. He doesn't mention that this policy, and the high unemployment and weak economy associated with it, are helpful in maintaining a sizable reserve army of unemployed labor, keeping pressure on government budgets, and making the attack on public unions and public services more plausible. They are instruments of the counterrevolution and class warfare.
Edward S. Herman is an economist, media critic, and author of numerous articles and books. His latest is The Politics of Genocide (with David Peterson).
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.