August 26, 2010

KEN MEHLMAN COMES OUT AND RECEIVES THE ROY COHN AWARD FOR HYPOCRISY

Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn

Mike Rogers reports on closeted Gay politicians whose actions harm the LGBT community. He had reported for years about Ken Mehlman and he was out front awarding him the "Roy Cohn" Award even before the article in the Atlantic was on the news stands.

Mehlman was one of the chief strategists for the 2004 re-election campaign of George W. Bush. It was the most homophobic campaign in history. Any gay person who was half awake during that campaign knew Ken Mehlman was gay.

Mike Rogers points out that there were three people making the decisions about the campaign. Karl Rove, George W. Bush and Ken Mehlman (RNC Chair).

George W. Bush:
1. Threatened to veto ENDA and any Hate Crimes Bill;
2. Strongly supported the movement for the Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution;
3. Orchestrated Marriage Amendments to State Constitutions, which succeed in eleven states (including Oregon).

"While teens were being told, 'Gay is bad' and are given permission to Gay Bash - our rights were being stripped away state by state." -- Mike Rogers

So now Ken Mehlman is just filled with angst for his past - "I can't change my past."

As one blogger wrote, "Come on dude, you have got to at least acknowledge that you actually hurt people. The rage against you isn't about how hard it was FOR YOU".

So he came out - good for him. He supports marriage equality - good.

The irony is that he is now to the left of President Barack Obama. Maybe you two should talk.

*note: Roy Cohn was the Chief Counsel for Joseph McCarthy during the red baiting hearings and he was a particularly vile anti-Semite and homophobe. He died in 1986 from complications due to AIDS.

August 22, 2010

Impressions of the CPUSA Convention: A Critical View

From ML Today:

Many friends and comrades have asked us: what really happened at the CPUSA Convention on May 21-23, eleven weeks ago, at Party headquarters in New York City?

So far, there are only the self-congratulatory appraisals, one by Party chair Sam Webb and another by his supporter John Case. Both are champions of the social reformist trend in the Party.

In the view of the Communist (that is, the Marxist-Leninist) wing of the CPUSA, however, the May 21-23, 2010 convention was a disaster. We see the Convention as a scandalous retreat from the US Party’s honorable history of principled struggle. The Convention was a retreat from socialism, class struggle, political independence, and internationalism. The Convention gave up ground on the fight against racism, imperialism, and monopoly.

It was not a convention rich in substance. What little substance there was, was objectionable, and came in the Main Report and the Composite Resolutions, which are available in full at www.cpusa.org/a-way-out-of-the-deepening-crisis/ and http://www.cpusa.org/29th-national-convention/.

Read more here

"South of the Border": A Review.

Oliver Stone's new documentary film, "South of the Border", is a "must see" film for anybody who has an interest in the South American movements for liberation. Most folks who follow events in South America know a lot already about the developments covered in Stone's film. On the other hand, Stone does a fantastic job of relating disparate events across different South American nations into a coherent continental movement against colonialism, for the establishment of a new continental autonomy, social justice, and true peoples' democracies.

Stone begins his narrative in Venezuela. Here he outlines the events leading up to the first election of Hugo Chavez and the resulting deep changes in Venezuelan politics, economics and social structure that are the Bolivarian Revolution. A great deal of time is spent covering the the growth and development of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela after its establishment, including the 2002 US backed coup against the Revolution and Chavez, the funding of the Revolution through Venezuela's oil revenues, and the passion behind the aims and goals of Venezuela's revolution.

Leaving Venezuela, Stone takes us to Bolivia and the leftist peoples' government of Evo Morales and the Movement for Socialism. From there to Argentina and the elections of anti-colonial Presidents Nestor Kirchner and Christina Kirchner. Then Stone moves us to Paraguay and the new Presidency of Catholic Bishop and Liberation Theologian Fernando Lugo. Then a quick move to the new Brazil led by Lulu da Silva's Workers Party. There's a stop in Ecuador under a new progressive and anti-colonial President, Rafael Correa. Finally Stone takes us to Cuba where the modern anti-colonial fight began with the 1959 Cuban Revolution.

"South of the Border", in telling the tale relies almost exclusively on interviews with South America's new progressive leaders. Fortunately, these interviews are an honest telling of the tale without posturing and pretext: South America's new leaders come across as very human and humorous challengers of US colonial hegemony in South America.

With irony, Rafael Correa explains Ecuador's opposition to US bases in Ecuador and his government's offer to the US that it can maintain its base in Ecuador if the US will agree to an Ecuadorian military base in Miami. Personally, I very much enjoyed Nestor Kirchner's story of what it felt like to be the first South American president to point-blank refuse a deal with the IMF. I equally enjoyed Lulu's "take your damned money and get out of here" conversation as he paid off the last of Brazil's debt to the IMF. And there's Evo Morales, who in his soft spoken humble way tells the story of how Bolivia's previous Washington controlled government sold Bolivia's water system to the Bechtel Corporation and immediately made illegal roof top and backyard cisterns for collecting rain water for household use.

As said above, Stone's last visit is to Cuba and an interview with Cuban President, Raul Castro. In the opening of the interview, Stone says to Castro, "So you're the grand daddy of all of this?" Raul Castro responds by denying any grand daddy role. Here, Castro stresses the disparate ideologies and approaches in South America's new movement towards autonomy and social justice. This disparity includes on one hand Cuba's Revolution along Marxist-Leninist lines, to the economism of Argentina's Kirchners and the social democratic practices of Lulu da Silva's government in Brazil on the other.

In may ways, it is the interview with Castro that puts the basic theme of "South of the Border" into a coherent whole. Here the point is made that that the Bolivarian Revolution is not just a Venezuelan phenomena, or a Bolivian or Cuban phemonena. Instead, the Bolivarian Revolution is a continental phenomena that aims to finally throw off the destructive yoke of US imperialism and thus allow for the development of authentic democracies as determined by the peoples of each nation.

I highly recommend "South of the Border" to anybody who would like a view on South America that isn't based on US State Department or Fox News propaganda.

"South of the Border" is showing at Salem's High Street Theater through Thursday, August 26th.

August 19, 2010

Some thoughts on the class struggle

The class struggle is the most basic, fundamental and important fact of life. The conflict between working people and corporate power permeates all aspects of society - the economy, politics, ideology and culture.

Why is this, and why can't the two sides just call a truce and live in peace? Because the nature of the capitalist system divides people into opposing camps with irreconcilable interests and forces the fight. The workers who comprise over 80 percent of the population create the wealth, but the corporate owners and financiers take the lion's share.

Read more here.

August 18, 2010

The Obama Administration and the Economic Crisis: Can the Left Go Beyond Conventional Criticism to Relevance?

From Political Affairs:

I have been trying to respond recently to criticisms on the Obama administration and Obama himself from various sources that I would call the independent left among both scholars and activists on a variety of issues.


These are not ultras, members of various sectarian groups, but people with long histories of defending peoples struggles. Their general argument, if I can simplify it, is that Obama, those in his administration, and their advisers, are not really different than previous administrations in their cold shoulder to labor and their defense of capital, and that the experience of the New Deal or of the Great Society for that matter have little relevance to what is happening today because we are in a new situation in terms of political economy(even though few say what we can do in that new situation, except engage in criticism).


I have tried to respond to these criticisms in a variety of ways.

Human Rights And iPhones

From ZZ's Blog:

I have read The New York Review of Books off and on for forty years. Generally, I take it to be an easy way to follow trends in US liberal thinking. It stands as a bridge between prominent academics and a self-conscious educated, elite class. For some, it is the source for the last word in cocktail party discussions. For others, it is a channel to drift arcane, scholarly controversies towards a larger audience.

Throughout the forty years, the publication has sustained a narrow ideological range of centrist liberal thought – one conjures a picture of a reader ready to defend the Volvo, The New York Times, and the travel agency against all threats, foreign and domestic.

Running through those forty years like a thick thread is a relentless, rabid streak of anti-Communism. Early on, Robert Conquest railed against the evils of the Soviet Empire, supported by academics of the same Hoover Institute ilk. This surely didn’t separate the NYRB from the many other publications favored by liberal elites.

Read more here.

August 12, 2010

Stop the Korea Free Trade Agreement Now!

Watch out, here comes another "free trade" agreement! First NAFTA, then CAFTA, now we have a looming KFTA, or the Korean Free Trade Agreement.

Currently, KFTA is under review in the Senate's Trade Subcommittee, chaired by none other than Oregon's own Ron Wyden. In structure, KFTA is patterned after NAFTA and CAFTA. This means that decent paying jobs are eliminated in the US so that corporate employers can re-establish production someplace else where exploitative practices can flourish to an even greater extent. For instance, if you remember NAFTA, millions of solid manufacturing jobs were eliminated in the US with US corporations setting up production just inside the Mexican border. Here, Mexican workers were employed at a fraction of the cost of US workers, were subjected to brutal on the job cultures and were housed in refrigerator cases along toxic waste streams and ponds.

One might think that this type of "free trade" treaty has been abandoned as one of the major causes of the current economic collapse. Not so...

KFTA, if passed would allow US manufacturers to move their productive facilities to Korea. Particularly hard hit would be the micro-processor and semi-conductor industry centered in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, Ron Wyden, a pro-corporate power Democrat, supports KFTA and is attempting to move this unfortunate treaty through the Senate with all possible speed.

So here's the ask!

Please call Senator Wyden's office as soon as possible. Let his staff know that this kind of double exploitation treaty is anti-worker and no longer tolerable.

Senator Wyden can be contacted at his Oregon office: 503-326-7525. For further information on KFTA, please contact the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign at www.oregonfairtrade.org, or by phone at (503) 736-9777.

You Might Be a Marxist If ... You Want to End the Exploitation of Workers

Capitalists want to maximize profits, and they do this by exploiting the working class. The basic method of capitalist exploitation is to pay workers the lowest wage they can get away with (as close to mere survival as possible) while forcing their employees to do the maximum amount of work. More specifically, capitalists try to maximize the value they get out of you, in the form of the product or service that you produce, by increasing the period of time that you have to work beyond the time it takes you to produce enough to cover your wage or salary.

Read more here.

Trumka To Visit Portland On August 23

AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka will be in Portland on Monday, August 23 and will be speaking at the ILWU Local 8 hall located at 2435 NW Front St.

Trumka is expected to address many of the issues facing the labor movement: jobs, the attack on the public sector, whatever happened to EFCA, the November elections and more. He will no doubt talk tough and rally our forces for the coming elections on a program which emphasizes labor's key issues rather than party affiliation.

August 10, 2010

DADT CASUALTIES AT WEST POINT


Top Ten West Point cadet resigns over DADT - unwilling to 'compromise her Integrity'

by: Pam Spaulding

Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 11:00:00 AM EDT


Knights Out, a group of LGBT alumni of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and their allies announced that Cadet Katherine Miller outed herself to her superiors and has tendered her resignation.
Ranked # 9 in her class overall, she routinely "super-maxes" her physical fitness tests. One of her blogs was featured in the Sunday print edition of the Washington Post as part of "The Gray Zone: West Point on Leadership."

In her resignation letter, she cites the kinds of experiences she is unwilling to continue to endure:

I have created a heterosexual dating history to recite to fellow cadets when they inquire. I have endured unwanted approaches by male cadets for fear of being accused as a lesbian by rejecting or reporting these events. I have been coerced into ignoring derogatory comments towards homosexuals for fear of being alienated for my viewpoint. In short, I have lied to my classmates and compromised my integrity and my identity by adhering to existing military policy.

While at the academy, I have made a deliberate effort to develop myself academically, physically, and militarily, but in terms of holistic personal growth I have reached a plateau. I am unwilling to suppress an entire portion of my identity any longer because it has taken a significant personal, mental, and social toll on me and detrimentally affected my professional development. I have experienced a relentless cognitive dissonance by attempting to adhere to §654 [colloquially known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"] and retain my integrity, and I am retrospectively convinced that I am unable to live up to the Army Values as long as the policy remains in place.

Miller will be transferring to Yale University this fall on a Point Foundation Scholarship. She has indicated her desire to become an Army Officer should the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy be removed, and gay and lesbian people allowed to serve freely. "This is a loss to the Academy and to the Army," said Becky Kanis, West Point '91. Kanis is Chair of Knights Out, and a former Captain and company commander. "We keep losing talented people needlessly while we wait for the Pentagon's 'review.' " Miller has been blogging anonymously about lesbian culture at West Point at velvetparkmedia.com as "Private Second Class Citizen."

Rick Nagin: Is Socialism Possible?

Given the unprecedented economic, political and military power of the U.S. ruling class, it may seem like a pipedream to believe that working people can ever take over.

And yet, there are good reasons to believe the foundations of this colossus may not be that strong.

First, the natural evolution of capitalism, in which the big fish eat up the small fish, has channeled an unbelievable concentration of wealth into the hands of an extremely tiny group. Only 1% of the population now owns just over half of all stocks and bonds and the richest 5% of the population holds 60% of all the wealth in our country.

In reality, there are a few thousand families with hundreds of millions and billions of dollars in assets who control the main banking, finance, manufacturing, extraction, media, communications, transport, aerospace and real estate corporations.

Second, the corporate system which has nowhere been more successful than in our country, has clearly failed to guarantee basic necessities of life - jobs, health care, housing, education - to the workers and people. In fact, the system is in crisis. The Wall Street meltdown, massive unemployment, stagnant wages, fierce repression of unions, endless wars and a growing, life-threatening environmental crisis have led millions of Americans to question the entire system of corporate power.

Read more here.

August 7, 2010

CUBA - HOPEFUL SIGNS AND RUMORS...

In the Spanish press there have been speculations and rumors that bode well for the Cuban Five. They report that Spain and Cuba continue to have high level diplomatic contacts since the release of a group of Cuban prisoners and their families have reached Spain for re location. It is also believed that Spain is playing intermediary between the U.S. and Cuba. Speculation has it there may be an upcoming exchange of U.S. Contractor Alan Gross (arrested in Cuba for distributing satellite technology in Cuba) and one of the Cuban Five wrongly imprisoned in the United States.

All this at the same time as the recent bizarre action of one of the Cuban Five being put in the "hole" in a California Prison for no apparent infraction other than he has been working on his upcoming appeal. And it is being reported (not in the U.S.) that the United States had informed Cuba (through a third country, of course) when Gerardo was released from solitary confinement back with the general population.

All this cloak and dagger should remind us how important it is to keep up the pressure for the release of all the Cuban Five. And for us to remember that we do not see the influence of the international campaign to free political prisoners until they are finally released.

In addition those who are close watchers of all things Cuban who believe that one of Raul's priorities is to move towards normalizing relations between our two countries. This may be why Fidel has recently been making personal appearances. Brotherly love or not so much?

Also the anti Cuba press in Miami has complained that one of there own has been seeking to meet with President Obama and has been rebuffed by the White House. That is positive!
It is all a puzzle but definitely we take positive signs where we can get them.

August 4, 2010

Why Don't We Hear More About The Palestinian Non-Violent Resistance?

Here is the answer:

Coordinator of the Popular Struggle Committees denied exit at King Hussein’s Bridge

On August 4, 2010 about 1 PM, Mohammed Khatib from Bil’in was denied exit to Jordan via King Hussein Bridge. Khatib was on his way to Spain via Amman when Israeli border officials prevented him from crossing the border to Jordan. Denying the leaders of the non-violent Popular Struggle to go abroad is clearly an attempt to silence Palestinians who speak about human rights violations committed by Israel.

This is not the first time Israel prevents leaders of the Popular Struggle to go abroad. Earlier this year Iyad Burnat, the leader of the Popular Committee in Bil’in was denied exit via King Hussein’s Bridge when on his way to Europe via Amman. Burnat and his 5 year old daughter were detained at the border, and after hours of waiting they were sent back to Bil’in. Later Burnat was given a permission to travel abroad, unless he intended to speak about the situation in Bil’in. He is now threatened with arrest if he chooses to do so. Both Khatib and Burnat had valid visas for their destinations, and had been planning their departure months in advance. Since Israel consequently denies Palestinian entry to Jerusalem and the consulates, achieving a visa is a time consuming process.

It is well known that crossing the border back to Israel after staying abroad also is a complicated and potentially dangerous process. In 2009 Mohammed Othman was arrested on the Jordan border when coming from a speaking tour in Norway. Othman was held under administrative detention for months, without trial and considered a “security threat”.

Mohammed Khatib and other activists for the Popular Struggle can tell about frequent violations on Human Rights, arrests and night raids carried out by the army, and theft of Palestinian land that makes life extremely difficult in their villages. As more and more people get aware of the situation in Palestine, Israel needs to find new strategies to silence their voices, and denying Palestinians the freedom of speech is one of them.

At 10 pm this evening Mohammed Khatib returned to Bil’in. He reports that the Israeli border police refused to let him pass to Jordan. The reason they gave was that the Israeli intelligence, Shebak, had given these instructions. After 3 hours at the border, Khatib had to return back to Bil’in. He reports that he has a valid court decision from the Israeli Court, issued yesterday, allowing him to go abroad. This was ignored by the border officials and this proves once again that Israel is not following even its own law system.

August 2, 2010

Papers, the movie, returns to Newport

ACTION NAME: Papers, the movie, returns to Newport

DATES: Aug 09, 2010 through Aug 09, 2010

TIME: 7:00 pm

ORGANIZATION: Coastal Progressives of Lincoln and South Tillamook Counties

DESCRIPTION: Each year some 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school in the U.S., only to find the door to their future slammed shut because their parents came here without "papers." It is against the law for them to work or drive. It is difficult, if not impossible in some states, to attend college. Currently, there is no path to citizenship for these young people who hold American values and know only the U.S. as home. Papers is the story of the challenges they face as they turn 18 without legal status.

Portland filmmakers Graham Street Productions and Film Action Oregon have produced this feature-length film to highlight the stories of these immigrant youth, in collaboration with the youth themselves, who want to tell their stories. El Grupo Juvenil (the Papers Youth Crew) were actively involved in all aspects of the production.

When the Coastal Progressives of Lincoln County brought Papers to Newport and Taft high schools last spring, audiences were touched by the painful personal stories in the film. They asked that it be shown again so that the widest possible audience would come to understand the dilemma these young people face.

The Immigration Information Response Team (a member group of Coastal Progressives), in coalition with PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) are bringing Papers to Newport again, this time to St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 9th and Hurbert, on Monday, August 9, at 7 p.m. The screening will be followed by discussion led by Jorge Hernandez of Centro de Ayuda and Jeanne St.John of PFLAG. There is no admission fee, but donations to help cover costs of future film screenings would be gladly accepted.

Visit http://www.papersthemovie.com/ to watch the trailer. For more information, contact Hernandez at Centro de Ayuda, 541 265 6216.

Women's Equality Day

Saturday, August 28th, 11 Am to 2 PM, 1st Unitarian Church, SW Salmon between 12th and 13th Ave. in POrtland.

Women's Equality Day

Celebrate the 90th Anniversary of Women's Equality Day.

To commenorate the 1820 passage of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution that guaranteed women the right to vote.

Sponsored by the Portland branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

RSVP by August 15th to Georgia Pinkel, gpinkel@gmail.com

Remember Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Create a Nuclear-free Future

Friday August 6th, 6PM, Japanese American Historical Plaza, NW Naito Parkway and Couch Street in Portland

Remember Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Create a Nuclear-free Future

A commenoration of the 65th anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with special guest speakers,music, art, dancee, and a change for you to get involved inncreating anuclear-fee future!

Sponsored by Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, american Friends Service Committee, Alliance for Democracy, Peace and Justice Works, Ecumenical Ministires of Portland, Wonen's International League for Peace and Freedom, and otheres.

For more information, visit www.oregonpsr.org

Peace Visioning Brainstorm - Help Reinvent the American Dream

Peace Visioning Brainstorm - Help Reinvent the American Dream

Aug 18, 2010

TIME: 7:00 pm

ORGANIZATION: Oregon PeaceWorks

DESCRIPTION: Your presence is requested on behalf of Oregon PeaceWorks, to open your mind and heart in a Peace Visioning Workshop.

This event will be an extensive brainstorming session to elicit your visions for building peace in our selves, our families, our communities and ultimately in the world.

Please join us in envisioning peace.

We look forward to meeting you and sharing ideas.

Date: Wednesday, 2010, August 18, 2010

Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Location: Unity of Salem, 1777 Fabry Rd. Salem, OR.

Rally With Local 4912 Members TOMORROW In Portland

Rally with Local 4912 (LCCSSA) members on August 3, at Lewis and Clark College, to call for the administration to drop its contract proposal that would reduce retirement contributions for support staff from 10 to nine percent. The College is claiming financial uncertainty despite record admissions, and two improvement projects underway, including construction of a new bookstore, and resurfacing of the sports field.

* When: Tuesday, August 3rd from noon to 1pm

* Where: Lewis and Clark College, Frank Manor House, Portland, Oregon.

* What: This is a rally to support the AFT members at Lewis and Clark College who have been in contract negotiations since March. The union represents support staff, workers such as, office staff, library staff, information technology techs, legal assistant, etc. Support staff typically make around $30,000 per year and in many cases much less.