Monday, November 29, 2004

Convulsions ripple thru the body politic...

...but whether convulsions of laughter, tears, or insanity it's sometimes hard to tell. And here deep in the south we wait for some Jeff Foxworth version of cristalnacht to begin unfolding. Go back and read "Howl" for some sense of what it feels like in America tonight. "Pictures of a Gone World" might be appropriate... All these people talking about secession, some of them damn seriously, and others saying let them go! Who wants them!

My son, eminently draft-able, shows me The Candian Alternative, where someone - the Canadian government? - is touting Canada for its healthcare, its lack of troops in Iraq, its openness to same-sex marriage, its celebration of cultural plurality... and I'm ready to go. Or maybe Venezuela or Brazil. Somewhere, anywhere.

And then Barbara Ehrenreich (is she really AmuriKan?) comes along with and slaps me back into consciousness! Of course then I have to go back and read "10 reasons not to move to Canada" but I'm not so sure I'm buying it... these Christo-Fascists are so scary!

And then, - all this is just tonight, now, in not more than an hour that all this comes screaming into my head via this little laptop window into the world - then I get a message from my ex-phone company: Act for Change, sign the pledge, "the Pledge to Never Surrender! Never surrender in the fight to build a better Democracy."

And of course I sign.

How can I not? I stand up in front of my Civics classes every day and tell them how America started out as a country that professed to believe in the famous proposition, the proposition that all men are created equal, endowed with inalienable rights. I explain to them how it was that to begin with we gave those rights only to free white men over 21 who owned property, yet over the years of our great and hallowed experiment we have gradually, and grudgingly, expanded those rights to men of color, to working men, even to women eventually, and to young people. I extoll the virtues of this great experiment in liberal democracy and tell them how in the sweep of history we are ever coming closer to realization of that noble ambition. Now we only hold out on the basis of sexual preference and similar spurious grounds, but we are making progress, aren't we?

That's what I've been telling them for several years now. But since this election I have begun to wonder, and it's harder for me to make this case with them, harder for me to think they really believe it. They grow curiously quiet when I remind them that we all say every day, "with liberty and justice for all." And I wonder if we have lost the dream.

I hope we don't just give up. Somewhere recently I read, "The fascists are bullies, and bullies are cowards. They feed on weakness and appeasement." We must stand strong, keep up the fight, and never surrender to the Phillistines!

Let no lie go unchallenged, no right errode away, no voice be silenced. We all remember that long ago Che said, "I envy you Norte Americanos, you live in the heart of the beast." This situation is not new, just worse. And in being worse, maybe really better, as the problems must multiply and become obvious to more and more people.

Remember that Che also said, "...the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love." Out of our compassion for those suffering under this regime, we must continue to work for peace and justice, real democracy. We must continue to speak out and act up, as need be.

But maybe we should leave the back door open...

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Narco News

And now for a must-read site: Narco News and NarcoSphere. This is the home of the School of Authentic Journalism - the guys who won the NY court case that established First Amendment protections for internet journalists - the cutting edge of the transformation to internet news, news without censorship, ownership and capital, and now they have a participatory forum for journalists.

Here's a bit of Al Giardino, founder, responding to the election and describing how Narco News can help:

What happens to a people to bring them so distracted by other people's sex lives that they've become divorced from their own true self-interests? Here's a hint: It's not religion, per se. After all, plenty of folks who read and believe in the exact same bible - Protestants, Catholics, Jews, other kinds of Baptists - voted the other way. In much of Latin America, evangelicals vote with the poor and participate in revolutions. So, it's not really the religion, is it?

No, something else has led us astray, and made it impossible for us, as citizens, to have any clue at all as to what is happening all around us.

It's the media, stupid.

The Commercial Media has exploited our deepest fears, sexual confusions, and that constant feeling of want under capitalism to turn us into, essentially, permanent consumers of shit we don't need, and debtors in order to pay for it. I'm not simply talking about SUVs or Happy Meals here: I'm also speaking of the elitist products, so worshipped by "educated" people… university diplomas, health care plans that make us even sicker, movies and pop songs that, as Woody Guthrie said, kick us when we're down... and the rest of those "respectable" products that we've been convinced that we somehow need. One way or another, they get us onto that hamster wheel and harness all the time and energy we put into it for their benefit more than ours.

...Politics will never be the same.

So what needs to happen now?

That same "swarm model" of fundraising needs to be applied to creating new, more authentic, forms of media that are not enslaved to the advertising model.

2004 also saw the formation of The Fund for Authentic Journalism, which brought Narco News back from the dead and, in just ten months, has turned it into the first truly participatory online newspaper in which the journalists who contribute the labor and the readers who contribute the funds collaborate in making the newspaper. This model assures that the newspaper, in place of pulling its public around by the nose ring in order to sell it products, serves the public interest as that very same public defines it.

...We must tackle this problem of media. That's why so many of those 59 million Americans yesterday voted against their own apparent self interests and in favor of interests that are truly against theirs. The techno-trance of TV, radio, print and online media will not be defeated by simply complaining about it, or by academically denouncing the problems with it. The Commercial Media can only be toppled from its undemocratic power over democracy when we build the new, more authentic, people-driven media.

The road map is simple: What has been done to politics, in order for that revolution to be completed through to victory, must now be done to media and journalism. [full article]

Check it out - it's bright and never-boring coverage of the drug war and the emerging democratic movements in South America, with a little of the rest of the world thrown in as well.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Doing Democracy's work

Glen Ford of The Black Commentator reports on the aftermath of the election:
"Green and Libertarian parties are set for a recount that just might turn Ohio from Red to Blue, no thanks whatsoever to the Democratic standard-dropper, John Kerry.

The Greens, who don’t stand to win anything except the respect and admiration of all decent people, raised nearly $150,000 in only four days to challenge George Bush’s unofficial 136,000 vote margin in each of Ohio’s poll precincts. Kerry had the same option and plenty of cash on hand ($15 million in unspent campaign funds), but took the Skull and Bones path, fearing a contested outcome might damage the legitimacy of a system that he values just as dearly as his erstwhile opponent, George Bush – Black voters be damned. There is no law against making a concession speech and getting a recount, but oligarchs like Kerry treasure stability above all else – it keeps them on top.

...Untold thousands had their rights amputated on November 2, yet Kerry doesn’t even care to locate the missing limbs.

...The "game" is more than just about winning: It is about resistance to state criminality and racial oppression.

...only disaster looms unless African Americans provide the vision for national salvation in the face of what is clearly an emerging fascist mass movement in America, organized and empowered by the Bush Pirates. We must have no illusions about the enemy that is massed against us."

Whether or not we think there's any point to a recount, any reason to even consider a Kerry presidency, the extent of the criminality needs to be known. If we roll over and play dead now, this truly may have been the last real election in America, as I predicted months ago. To read the full story with all the data and others' assessments of the recount issue, clik the link below.

Another recent release of note, Eminem's new version of Mosh is on GNN. Great!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

MickeyZ on Arundhati Roy

Things are serious. We must get serious. Here's a couple of people who are serious, who are speaking truth and saying the hard things about what has to happen if we are to prevail.

Everything I've read from Arundhati Roy has been galvanizing. We've got a lot to learn here in the US and she seems a good source. Mickey Z, who is also telling it true in his writings and in a recent CSPAN appearance (see previous entry), agrees with me. His review of her recent book The Checkbook and The Cruise Missile highlights her main points and emphasises her power and appeal.

Her analysis of recent demonstrations in the US is especially pointed:

Fifteen million people marched… in perhaps the biggest display of public morality ever seen,” Roy states. “It was fantastic. But it was symbolic. Governments of today have learned to deal with that. They know to wait out a demonstration or a march. They know the day after tomorrow, opinions can change, or be manipulated into changing. Unless civil disobedience becomes real, not symbolic, there is very little hope for change.

I repeat, we must get serious. America is like a five-year-old with a machine pistol in a crowded mall. We must grow up and assume some responsibility for this world we're about to destroy. That includes the resistance. We're not playing some game here, there are real and immediate consequences for millions of people, perhaps even the planet. We have to find ways to break through the apathy of the people, confront power in real ways, and change things in this country. If the Bush election didn't shatter our comfortable illusions, Fallujah should. We need to wake up and get moving.

Arundhati Roy may be the one to show us how.


Monday, November 15, 2004

The Bloggosphere!

Bloggomania! The world of blogging is truly vast! Searching for surcease in the aftermath of the election, I have found myself hooked on blog-hopping! Mostly just political sites, and most of those 'of the progressive persuasion,' and yet the variety is seemingly endless. I'm just adding a few to my list that I've happened on in my random, peripatetic way, just a sample of what's out there, and any one of them with a list of many, many others, truly an Indra's web of progressive spots on the cybermap.

'Maybe I'm just a dreamer, but I'm not the only one' keeps rolling thru my head. And maybe it's just a dream that all this will amount to something, but we need something to get us thru this dreary time, and some momentum to carry us thru the next 4 years, which may be a real desert. Of course, is the peak of the pyramid, but there are lots of other hot spots out there. DailyKos is a real eye-opener, and then there's the official Progressive Majority site, non-violent anarchists like Ruckus Society, but my latest favorite is "get donkey," some guy down in Texas I think, cool and smooth and good stuff...

Bloggin interrupted... by coldweather chores - the damn electronic ignition on the damn gas furnace don't damn work, so pore John's out in the (Ga.) cold (40's?) collecting wood from last year's wood pile and splittin up fat-lightered wood to get a fire going in the wood stove 'cuz the girls are cold. The up-side is by the time we get the fire going, I'm plenty warm! Wood warms ya' twice, they always said, once when you cut it and stack it, and once when you burn it.

So I'm adding a few sticks of wood to the blog fire here, too, a just a few more hot links on the sidebar. Hope we all enjoy the winter! Long cold winter of discontent coming up, someone sez...

But I'm feeling pretty smooth myself, coming off a three-day sesshin with my Zen buddies. Smooth enough to see myself staying in the fray and not being driven out by depression and anxiety, not being immobilized by the blind view up the corridor of the future - and such things have happened in past years... Nixon Agonistes, Reagen Redux, Spiro Freakin Agnew?, getting burned with Clean Gene way back... but we've all learned and leaned up and we're in it for the long haul. Overcoming geography and lethargy, we move on along, doing what has to be done, not knowing if it's ever gonna seem right, but knowing that it's ever going to be right.

If we just stop and think about all the people on our side, all the energy and creativity driving towards a more enlightened, progressive, Earth-friendly, people-friendly society, it's awe-inspiring. I start to hear Pete Seeger and Joan Baez singing along with Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne, the Boss is storming up and down and preaching and singing, and then Billie Joe Armstrong joins in, and the whole thing is ready to explode. I feel like I'm marching along in this swelling crowd with more and more people joining in all the time. Sometimes it just seems like if we could all really get together it would just be that slight change in energy that would push things to the next quantum... I'll try to restrain myself. There is hope out there. It's in our connections.

PS - I feel compelled to come back and explain why Roger Ailes is on the list: first of all, he has a great enemies list! - lots of great progressive sites. Second, I'm trying to figure out WTF's up with him. I know he's an ass, but he seems to be attacking all the right people, including Linda Shrenko, Ga's pathetic wannabe Republican politico. If anyone knows why he sometimes sounds like he's on the progressive side, let me know.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Counter Inauguration bonfires

An idea for January - it could spread like... a bonfire?

"Also, I'll propose this on the Democracy for America website, but wanted to organize our chapter here in Charlottesville to do an anti-inauguration party by way of Burning Bush - setting fire to our Christmas trees (under permit, safe conditions) and throwing all of Bush's broken lies on the fire like "weapons of mass destruction" and "compassionate conservative". If local news media around the country pick up on the new opposition party (whatever it may be called) through a powerful metaphor like this, it sends a strong message that whatever the national Democrats want to do, there are those of us who are not giving up and not caving in and will pressure our members in Congress (even Goode) to not vote Bush's radical Republican agenda."

This is from some Dean people in WVa - I found it on the open thread at Daily Kos...

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Cynthia's victory speech

There's at least one voice in the Congress that we can count on to speak truth to power.

Cynthia McKinney told America the truth back in 2001, and she lost her Congressional seat for it. She questioned what the administration knew about 9/11 and when they knew it. Now, of course, we know she was right and somebody needed to ask those questions, but then she was ridiculed and lambasted, and the Republican Party, cynical bastards that they are, sponsored a sell-out black woman to run against her in the Democratic primary and beat her. This woman abandoned her benefactors this election, running as Democratic nominee for Senator (and losing), so Cynthia ran again and won back her seat. She's still telling it like it is, as her victory speech (clik the article title or 'link' below) shows!

And then there's Michael...

If ya still really need cheering up from the post Bush Blues Bashing, check out Michael's letter - 17 bright spots about the election! It's rich.

Reason #10. "Five more African Americans were elected as members of Congress, including the return of Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. It's always good to have more blacks in there fighting for us and doing the job our candidates can't." ...

(I'm signing up with Cynthia! In case you don't remember, she's the one who was politically assassinated for suggesting that someone should check into what Bush knew and when he knew it about 9/11, and has now come back to Congress. Now everybody knows Bush knew, so my bumper sticker is vindicated along with Cynthia!)

Reason #
14. "Bush is now a lame duck president. He will have no greater moment than the one he's having this week. It's all downhill for him from here on out -- and, more significantly, he's just not going to want to do all the hard work that will be expected of him. It'll be like everyone's last month in 12th grade -- you've already made it, so it's party time! Perhaps he'll treat the next four years like a permanent Friday, spending even more time at the ranch or in Kennebunkport. And why shouldn't he? He's already proved his point, avenged his father and kicked our ass."

Remember the Nixon landslide? Where was he two years later? In the landFILL!
There's hope for Bush! On the other hand, we need him in there to fully and completely show just how bankrupt the whole neo-con agenda really is... so let's hold off on impeachment a while.

A Marginal Victory

Recent news reports of the newly-elected President's optimism and claims to a national mandate have left me slightly sickened. Bush's victory was by the slimmest margin any incumbent has received, thought I suppose the fact that he appears to have actually won this time, as opposed to being appointed, makes him ebullient.

Almost too depressed over the Bush victory to make an entry, I have searched for the bright sides in this unmitigated disaster, and there is one: more people voted against George W. Bush than have ever voted against an incumbent president. That means that the progressive cause, truly moral politics, is on the upswing.

That is certainly a marginal victory only, but in the long view, it is significant. Given the fact that the Democratic candidate never came close to offering a real alternative, in fact seemed to move closer and closer to being Bush - which abnegated his only initial qualification, his NOT-BUSH-ness - as the election proceeded, it is amazing that he came as close to winning as he did. It seems likely that the Dems never accomplished their objective of luring in the undecideds, and so the swell of Democratic voters was mostly new voters. That is a good thing. Even though we know that voting is a sham in this sham Democracy, it is the first step in political awareness.

A significant number of young people did vote, many of them against Bush. More significant in the long term is that two overtly political videos by mainstream music groups have actually been aired by MTV: American Idiot by Green Day, and the astounding Mosh, by Marshall Mathers. Both are anti-Bush and seem to move to indicting the whole system yet advocating engagement rather than apathy. That MTV's corporate parent, Viacom, countenanced this appears to show they think they'll make enough money off them to be worth the risk to their rep or whatever forces drive their usual censorship of such music. Which means lots of people are watching and buying them.

The Black Commentator this week offers detailed analysis of this "upswing" phenomena and discusses how Black America, especially youth, will play into future progressive movements:
"...we at believe that there is a far deeper and wider white opposition to the current regime than existed at any point in the supposedly “turbulent” Sixties and early Seventies. Many anti-Bush whites are aware that when Black folks were disenfranchised by a criminal conspiracy of George W. Bush’s national government, they were also disenfranchised. Even larger proportions of white youth know the deal. Black people’s only obligation to them is the same one we have to ourselves: to lead." Glen Ford, one of the authors of this excellent site (see previous entry) consistently presents a clear perspective on the realities underlying the American Empire. "Concede nothing," he says, and demolishes the idea that Dems should seek "unity" with the Bushites.

Another site, ANSWER coalition, points out that a Kerry victory would have been little different than what we got (I know, on the ground, more people will suffer under Bush, more people will die, etc., but long-term and in defeat we can find the positives) and outlines strategies for moving to create a new progressive majority:
"For people to learn the truth and accept the fact that the government that they pledged allegiance to is really a bunch of lying criminals takes a process. It requires people who know the truth to tell it and to speak plainly so that there is no misunderstanding."

If the Democrats don't become the party that offers a clear alternative to the racist, elitist corporate agenda of empire, then progressives must unite around some other banner. There is a clear majority in favor of a different way of being America, and that majority is represented by neither the Republican nor Democratic Parties, nor any of the existing fringe parties. Maybe the Green Party has the potential to become that unifying banner. I don't really know at this point. Out of the post-election swirl, some leaders must emerge to capture the momentum, otherwise this election has been a total loss.

I don't really expect that leadership to come from the Democratic Party, with all its baggage, but it may.

I do know how we will identify this leadership: it will speak out clearly and strongly on the real moral issues in America, peace and justice, real environmental protection, economic democracy. These leaders will speak of the future, and they will ask us to care about what kind of world we leave our children and grandchildren.

They will speak about protecting the Earth, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, stopping the wars of racist aggression, ending corporate domination of the world, ending the theft of our labors by the rich people. These leaders will not be afraid to tell us that these goals may require some sacrifice on our part, as we reap the harvest of the ignorance and greed of the past several decades. But they will know that we understand that true morality, far from the narrow interpretation morality has been given by the Bushites, means being willing to expect less for ourselves so that everyone may enjoy the blessings of liberty and justice and the pursuit of happiness, as this American democratic experiment promised.

The new leadership will also need to find new ways to articulate these things so that people understand what is really happening and can't dismiss them as "liberal", "radical" or "socialist" or "hippie" or whatever terms have been so dragged through the mud by the right wing assassins of truth.

A new paradigm, a new vocabulary, a new vision. Who will create it? We will. Pay attention, stand up, speak up, take action. Don't be bought off. Don't fall for hype. Demand truth. Expect justice for everyone.