|Progressive Calendar 04.12.12 /2||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001umn.edu)|
|Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2012 14:50:49 -0700 (PDT)|
*P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 04.12.12* 1. Film/Khmer Rouge 4.12 6:30pm 2. ALEC exposed 4.12 7pm 3. Arab pioneers 4.12 7pm 4. Mark Engler - ALEC annoyed at losing sponsors? It breaks my heart 5. Jack A Smith - Big Brother’s getting bigger 6. Andrew Levine - Democracy in America today 7. Wendell Berry - Some further words (excerpt) (poem) --------1 of 7-------- From: Human Rights Center Office Administrator humanrts [at] umn.edu Film/Khmer Rouge 4.12 6:30pm APRIL 12, 2012 Film Screening: We Want (U) to Know A Participatory Film Project by Survivors of the Khmer Rouge Period When: 6:30pm Where: University of Minnesota Mondale Hall Room 45 (Subplaza) 229-19th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55455 For additional inf Information, please visit: www.facebook.com/wwu2k --------2 of 7-------- From: WAMM ALEC exposed 4.12 7pm “Val” Speaks about ALEC Thursday, April 12, 7:00 p.m. Ridgedale Regional Library, Room 172, 12601 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka. Join others to meet and hear "Val.” "Val" does not reveal her last name for reasons that she believes to be necessary. She has been recommended by those who have heard her presentation on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC began about 35 years ago and now boasts almost 2000 members from state legislatures throughout the country. ALEC also maintains a working relationship with like-minded legislators in other part of the world. The ALEC website states that it has prepared nearly 1000 pieces of legislation that promote their conservative agenda. And, what is that agenda? What legislative efforts have they promoted? What is their role in Minnesota at this time? How is ALEC impacting our world, our nation, our state, your life? Free and open to the public. Sponsored by: Northwest Neighbors for Peace (NWN4P). FFI: Call Carole Rydberg, 763-546-5368. --------3 of 7-------- From: Mizna Arab pioneers 4.12 7pm Hikayat Al-Mahjar (Tales of the Diasporas): Khalil Gibran and Beyond Novel, poems, and prose, it turns out, are laden with information about how the first generation of Arab pioneers lived in the United States. Join us to hear scholar Hani Bawardi discuss early Arab American history and the largely neglected writings from early Arab American writing communities. Thursday, April 12, 2012 7:00 p.m. Free event 125 Nicholson Hall, University of Minnesota 216 Pillsbury Dr SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 Reception afterward Bawardi will offer a primer on Arab American history and describecthe literary treasures he has come across during his research. Bawardi will explain how early writings by Khalil Gibran and many others in his writing community challenge settled assumptions about rampant illiteracy and incurable sectarianism among the immigrants. Books, newspaper articles, and magazines from the early twentieth century suggest a far more sophisticated and varied intellectual life. Although the literary society Al-Rabitah al-Qalamiya was the epicenter of Arab literary life in New York, many immigrants also published high quality autobiographies and articles, preserved folklore, and commemorated major events. This talk will draw attention to the importance of utterly neglected Arabic text from this time period, revealing, for example, how many editors and authors in Gibran's circles participated in well-developed nationalist agenda anchored in feelings of Arab peoplehood. Accordingly, the Arab pioneers worked to move past sectarianism to weave plans to rescue their beloved Syria (Bilad al-Sham) from Ottomans before the encroachment of Western colonialism. --------4 of 7-------- ALEC Annoyed at Losing Sponsors? It Breaks My Heart by Mark Engler Published on Thursday, April 12, 2012 by Dissent It is a myth that Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” But that old saying nevertheless carries a lot of truth when it comes to social movements. And it is always a pleasure to see a worthy target of activism move from disregard or mockery to going on the attack. Therefore, I was happy to see the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) release a half-defiant, half-pathetic statement bemoaning the “coordinated and well-funded intimidation campaign against corporate members of the organization.” Its statement reads: ALEC is an organization that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies and the vigorous exchange of ideas between the public and private sector to develop state based solutions. Today, we find ourselves the focus of a well-funded, expertly coordinated intimidation campaign. Our members join ALEC because we connect state legislators with other state legislators and with job-creators in their states. They join because we support pro-business policies that promote innovation and spur local and national competitiveness. They’re ALEC members because they’re more interested in solutions than rhetoric.... At a time when job creation, real solutions and improved dialogue among political leaders is needed most, ALEC’s mission has never been more important. This is why we are redoubling our commitment to these essential priorities. We are not and will not be defined by ideological special interests who would like to eliminate discourse that leads to economic vitality, jobs and fiscal stability for the states. After about the third reference to “job creators,” it’s hard to miss that this is an operation nestled snugly within the depths of the far-right echo chamber, never passing over a chance to frame tax cuts for the top 1 percent as a moderate, bipartisan path to common bliss. In fact, far from sticking to promoting “improved dialogue,” ALEC has (with troubling effectiveness) advanced a slew of reactionary measures in statehouses throughout the country. Stand Your Ground? Check. Prison privatization? Check. Right to Work? Check. Discriminatory Voter ID laws? Check. The list goes on and on. These legislative outrages have inspired a coalition of progressive groups to fight back. They are going after the companies that are paying $25,000 annual dues to this far-right outfit—exposing these brand-sensitive patrons for aligning themselves with the conservative fringe. The tactic is proving very effective. On Wednesday, fast-food giant Wendy’s joined McDonald’s in ending its ALEC membership. Previously Pepsi, Coke, Kraft, Intuit, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation all announced that they were jumping ship. This exodus is what prompted ALEC’s response. That organization complaining about a “well-funded, expertly coordinated” political operation surely merits placement in the pot-calling-the-kettle-black hall of fame. But these words serve as high praise for the organizations that have endeavored to expose the group’s corporate funders. Prominent among them is ColorOfChange.org, which has quickly establishing itself as a leader in the field of corporate campaigning. I previously lauded ColorOfChange.org for its successful effort to strip Glenn Beck of advertisers after the demagogue (then at Fox News) said that President Obama harbored a “deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture,” among other batshit-crazy statements. Few in the mainstream media wanted to give the boycott credit for ousting Beck, preferring to believe that the cable news personality had simply outstayed his welcome on the network. Beck himself was not about to acknowledge activists’ impact, just as Kraft now says that it is leaving ALEC for a “number of reasons”—none, of course, related to the tens of thousands of signatures pouring in from ColorOfChange.org and allies such as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. This is exactly what you would expect. Wendy’s, for its part, says that it didn’t renew its ALEC membership not because of pressure but because it “didn’t fit our business needs.” That, in the end, is a pretty good definition of the purpose of corporate campaigns—making businesses decide that it doesn’t “fit their needs” to attack workers, reinforce institutional racism, wreck the environment, or undermine the social safety net. In any Big Brother’s Getting Bigger by Jack A. Smithcase, it certainly doesn’t fit the needs of the rest of us. © 2012 Dissent Mark Engler is a senior analyst with Foreign Policy In Focus and author of How to Rule the World: The Coming Battle Over the Global Economy (Nation Books, 2008). He can be reached via the website http://www.DemocracyUprising.com <http://www.democracyuprising.com/> --------5 of 7-------- Jack A Smith - Big Brother’s getting bigger April 11th, 2012 Government surveillance and attacks on the privacy of American citizens were bad enough under the Bush regime but they are getting even worse during the Obama years. [WHAT?? Oh, no, not OUR Obama!!! How can we vote for him again if that were true??? How can we feel good about our last vote for him? And all those other Dems? THEREFORE, it is NOT TRUE - because it would make us feel bad, and nothing that makes us feel bad can possibly be true. God wouldn't allow it. (He's on our side, you know.) -ed] In addition to retaining President George W. Bush’s many excesses, such as the Patriot Act, new information about the erosion of civil liberties emerges repeatedly during the era of President Barack Obama from the federal government, the courts and various police forces. The Supreme Court added judicial insult to personal injury April 2 when it ruled 5-4 that jail officials may strip-search anyone arrested for any offense, even a trifle, as they are being incarcerated, even if they are awaiting a hearing or trial. The four ultraconservative judges were joined by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. According to the ACLU’s Steven R. Shapiro, the “decision jeopardizes the privacy rights of millions of people who are arrested each year and brought to jail, often for minor offenses. Being forced to strip naked is a humiliating experience that no one should have to endure absent reasonable suspicion.” A day before the strip-search outrage, the New York Times reported that “law enforcement tracking of cellphones… has become a powerful and widely used surveillance tool for local police officials, with hundreds of departments, large and small, often using it aggressively with little or no court oversight, documents show…. One police training manual describes cellphones as ‘the virtual biographer of our daily activities,’ providing a hunting ground for learning contacts and travels.” Other abuses of civil liberties are taking place with increasing frequency, but the public outcry has mainly been muted, an enticement for the authorities to go even further. On March 23, the American Civil Liberties Union reported: The Obama administration has extended the time the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) can collect and hold on to records on U.S. citizens and residents from 180 days to five years, even where those people have no suspected ties to terrorism. The new NCTC guidelines, which were approved by Attorney General Eric Holder, will give the intelligence community much broader access to information about Americans retained in various government databases…. Authorizing the ‘temporary’ retention of non-terrorism-related citizens and resident information for five years essentially removes the restraint against wholesale collection of our personal information by the government, and puts all Americans at risk of unjustified scrutiny. Such unfettered collection risks reviving the Bush administration’s Total Information Awareness program, which Congress killed in 2003. The news, evidently, was underwhelming. Tom Engelhardt wrote April 4: For most Americans, it was just life as we’ve known it since September 11, 2001, since we scared ourselves to death and accepted that just about anything goes, as long as it supposedly involves protecting us from terrorists. Basic information or misinformation, possibly about you, is to be stored away for five years — or until some other attorney general and director of national intelligence thinks it’s even more practical and effective to keep you on file for 10 years, 20 years, or until death do us part — and it hardly made a ripple. A week earlier, new information was uncovered about Washington’s clandestine interpretation of the Patriot Act. Most Americans are only aware of the public version of the Bush Administration’s perfidious law passed by Congress in a virtual panic soon after 9/11. But the White House and leaders of Congress and the Justice department have a secret understanding of the Patriot Act’s wider purposes and uses. Alex Abdo of the ACLU’s National Security Project revealed March 16: The government has just officially confirmed what we’ve long suspected: there are secret Justice Department opinions about the Patriot Act’s Section 215, which allows the government to get secret orders from a special surveillance court (the FISA Court) requiring Internet service providers and other companies to turn over ‘any tangible things.’ Just exactly what the government thinks that phrase means remains to be seen, but there are indications that their take on it is very broad. Late last night we received the first batch of documents from the government in response to our Freedom of Information Act request for any files on its legal interpretation of Section 215. The release coincided with the latest in a string of strong warnings from two senators about how the government has secretly interpreted the law. According to them both, the interpretation would shock not just ordinary Americans, but even their fellow lawmakers not on the intelligence committees. Although we’re still reviewing the documents, we’re not holding our breath for any meaningful explanation from the government about its secret take on the Patriot Act. The Senators involved were not identified, but they were Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), both of whom went public about the secret Patriot Act last May. Wyden declared at the time: “When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry.” Udall echoed, “Americans would be alarmed if they knew how this law is being carried out.” The Obama Administration has not sought to mitigate much less abandon the Patriot Act. Indeed, in the 10 ½ years since the act was passed the law has only become stronger, paving the way for other laws assaulting civil liberties and increasing government surveillance. Three months ago, for example, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) containing a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention law allowing the U.S. military to jail foreigners and U.S. citizens without charge or trial. Just last month, Wired magazine revealed details about how the National Security Agency “is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah.” Investigative reporter James Bamford wrote that the NSA established listening posts throughout the U.S. to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within America or overseas. The Utah surveillance center will contain enormous databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency. The NSA previously denied domestic spying was taking place. In his article Bamford quoted a former NSA official who “held his thumb and forefinger close together” and said: “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.” The Associated Press has been dogging the New York City police department for several months to uncover its domestic spying activities. On March 23 it reported that “Undercover NYPD officers attended meetings of liberal political organizations [for years] and kept intelligence files on activists who planned protests around the country, according to interviews and documents that show how police have used counterterrorism tactics to monitor even lawful activities.” Some of these snooping activities took place far from New York — in New Orleans in one case. Commenting on the new guidelines allowing Washington “to retain your private information for 5 years,” the satirical ironic Times commented March 26: If you’re guilty of no crimes, never owed money, don’t have a name similar to that of someone who has been in trouble or owed money and there are absolutely no computer glitches in the government’s ancient computer system during the next five years, then you have nothing to worry about. The American people, of course, have a lot to worry about since both ruling political parties are united in favor of deeper penetration into the private lives and political interests of U.S. citizens. The only recourse for the people is much intensified activism on behalf of civil liberties. Jack A. Smith is editor of the Activist Newsletter and a former editor of the Guardian (US) radical newsweekly. He may be reached at: jacdon [at] earthlink.net. Read other articles by Jack. This article was posted on Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 at 8:00am and is filed under Civil Liberties, Espionage/"Intelligence", GWB, Obama, Police, Supreme Court. --------6 of 7-------- April 12, 2012 Why the Voting Booth is the Last Place to Look for Political Change Democracy in America Today by ANDREW LEVINE What a miserable prospect: a presidential election between a lackluster incumbent unable any longer to conjure up even an illusion of hope and the foremost chameleon in national politics who happens also to be by far the least colorful candidate in the Republican circus. Not all the propaganda money can buy – and we’re talking about quite a lot of money — can make a race between those two rise even to the level of boring. Add to that the nauseating spectacle, already underway, of liberals rallying to defend President Drone, continuator of the Bush-Cheney assault on civil liberties and the rule of law and champion of a Grand Compromise with the Tea Party. Under his leadership, had the other side not been so sublimely (and stupidly) obstinate, we might already be living though the undoing of Social Security and Medicare. It could still happen in a second term: making the man whom liberals once thought of as the Second Coming of FDR the most successful Reaganite president of all. Because only a Democrat can bring Democrats along, neither of the Bushes nor the Gipper himself could do much to put the New Deal and Great Society to rest. Obama’s only serious rival in that regard was Bill Clinton. In his zeal to do Wall Street’s bidding, that irrepressible rascal might well have done in the last remnants of what we still have in the way of an affirmative state had not certain distracting peccadillos of a prurient nature gotten in his way. Were there not still a chance that real politics will break out again this spring, as it did last fall, this would be a fine time for anyone wanting to maintain a semblance of sanity to hop onto a slow boat to China – except that all the boats to China these days operate at full speed both ways, exporting wherewithal for super-exploited workers to turn into crap that we can import for Wal-Mart to sell. For this sad state of affairs, we have the machinations of neo-liberal globalists and vulture capitalists to thank. We have one of each to choose from this November. Does anything ride on the choice? Probably not, if Mitt Romney can still etch-a-sketch his way back to his former Governor of Massachusetts persona. Then it will take a keen eye to discern light between his politics and Barack Obama’s. Most likely, though, after this primary season, he won’t be able to pull it off; Tea Partiers and other theocrats don’t forget quickly enough. And so Obama will be up against someone whose public face is that of a Rick Santorum – neocon wannabe, but without Santorum’s surreal risibility and without the neocon’s unflinching conviction. In that scenario, the empire’s current steward will cakewalk his way back into a second term. This will give new meaning to talk about “no drama Obama.” No drama; and therefore an electoral contest of no interest at all. How did it come to this? How did democracy in America degenerate into a mind-numbing absurdity? The answer, in a word, is money. It has transformed what has always been a profound dissociation between what democratic theory promises and the real world of American democracy into a yawning divide. * * * Despite what students are told in civics classes (where they still exist) and what normative theories of democracy propose, democracy in America today has almost nothing to do with rational deliberation and debate, and very little to do with aggregating preferences or reconciling conflicting interests. It is about legitimating government of, by and for the corporate malefactors and Wall Street banksters who own Congress and the White House along with an obscenely large chunk of the nation’s wealth. The Occupy movement has driven this point home, but it was widely appreciated long before Zuccotti Park entered the national consciousness. Why then is there no legitimation crisis here in the Land of the Free? The answer, in short, is that we hold competitive elections and, for the most part, abide by their results. Evidently, that suffices. Thanks to centuries of struggle, we are all today at some level democrats, no matter how removed our political system is from anything like real democracy – rule by the demos, the popular masses (as distinct from economic and social elites). Democratic commitments run so deep that almost anything that smacks of real democracy becomes invested with extraordinary powers of legitimation. This is why competitive elections have the power to legitimate even regimes like ours in which elites plainly do rule a disempowered ninety-nine percent plus of the population. Competitive elections embody a shard of what real democracy is supposed to be, and that evidently is good enough for us. Let pass the class content that defined “democracy” from the time of Greek antiquity, and say, along with the major political theorists of recent centuries, that a democracy is a form of government in which the (undifferentiated) people are sovereign; in other words, in which the people who comprise a state and are subject to its authority are the supreme authority within that state. Competitive elections give institutional expression to that idea. So long as they are free and fair, the outcome, the social choice, is a function of individuals’ choices for the alternatives in contention. The social choice is then the peoples’ choice. The sovereign “speaks” through their votes. In principle, therefore, the method of majority rule is the ideal voting procedure in a democracy, the one that is most responsive to individuals’ choices. To require more than a bare majority of voters is to invest a minority with the power to veto the popular will. Super-majority rule voting is therefore less than ideal because it accords a kind of dictatorial power to voters in the minority. If, for example, it takes two-thirds of the voters to enact a law, one-third plus one can block its passage. This would introduce a bias in favor of the status quo that detracts from the idea that social choices are functions of individuals’ choices only. It may be wise to introduce conservative biases, especially on matters of grave import where individuals’ rights or the basic structure of the political system are involved. The writers of the American Constitution thought so. They concocted all sorts of obstacles in the way of direct popular rule. What they contrived was not a democracy at all, except in a very attenuated sense; instead, it was, as they emphasized, a “republic.” They had reasons for wanting to limit democracy by making positive change difficult or, in the case of basic rights and liberties, impossible. But it could be argued that these reasons ultimately have to do with the deeper interests of the sovereign people — that they allow the people to achieve by indirection what they cannot reliably be counted on to accomplish directly – and therefore that the founders were democrats after all. This kind of indirection has many precedents in our philosophical tradition. Aristotle thought that mercy was a necessary corrective for justice. In much the same way, defenders of our constitutional system argued that introducing biases that favor the status quo, conservative biases, are a corrective to the untrammeled operations of majority rule voting. Justice, for Aristotle, remained the core virtue of public institutions. In much the same spirit, our founders saw democracy as the ultimate legitimating principle underlying even the deviations from direct democratic rule that they contrived. They therefore made regular competitive elections mandatory – and so we ultimately have them to thank for the dreary contest ahead. Although it was hardly what the founders had in mind, the fraction of the one percent that are sure to win in November, the fraction that always wins, therefore have them to thank as well. Of course, as mentioned, it is not enough just that there be elections — elections must also at least seem to be free and fair. That is the theory. In practice, we have always cut our institutions a great deal of slack. Slaves were not citizens, and neither were the indigenous peoples who survived the European conquest. Arguably, therefore, their exclusion from the republic’s electoral processes still left elections free and fair. Not so, the way full-fledged citizens were treated. >From the beginning, there were severe restrictions on the franchise; before 1920, women were even forbidden by law to vote. This was only the most egregious offense; there were others. Indeed, it has only been since 1965, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act, that de facto restrictions on the rights of descendants of emancipated slaves and other persons of color to have their say in our elections were finally abolished. There is some danger now that the pendulum will swing back as Republicans launch voter suppression efforts aimed at categories of persons likely to vote for Democrats. Their efforts are widely berated and it remains to be seen how successful they will be. It is telling, though, that the idea that voter suppression might undo the legitimacy of electoral outcomes is rarely even suggested. Perhaps this is because we Americans have grown inured to elections that are unfree and unfair. After all, our founders did see to it that our institutions block expressions of popular sovereignty, especially at the national level. The Electoral College system and the idea that every state, regardless of size, gets two and only two Senators undoes any pretense of “one person, one vote.” Until the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment, we didn’t even have direct elections for Senators; they were appointed instead by their state legislatures. Add to this the power of states to gerrymander Congressional districts and there is, in the end, not much for voters to decide. Gerrymandering Congressional districts is only one of the many ways that our two semi-established parties see to it that it is difficult to break their duopoly hold. This would not be so bad if the Republicans and Democrats were still “catch all” parties – ecumenical enough to incorporate a wide range of views within their respective folds. This was never really the case. But not long ago, the description was at least approximately apt. Arguably, it still holds for the Democrats, though, after Clinton and Obama, the party’s leftwing, such as it is, has been much reduced and effectively marginalized. The situation is worse in the GOP where ideological uniformity reigns. The result is that our two parties are now more polarized than at any time in recent history. Paradoxically, though, because they are each bought and paid for by more or less the same interests, their overall policy orientations are as uniform as ever. Therefore anything that falls outside the “bipartisan” (really uni-partisan) consensus is marginalized – in ways that ought to make the claim that our elections are free and fair ring hollow. Even to the extent that voting does generate a social choice out of individuals’ choices for the alternatives in contention, the paucity and uniformity of the alternatives disenfranchises many, perhaps most, voters. And as if that weren’t bad enough, there is the additional obstacle of judicial review. Constitutional courts are an American invention, and for a long time, it was only in the United States that courts had almost unlimited powers to “check and balance” legislatures. In certain historical periods, this arrangement has had beneficial consequences; it was certainly instrumental for deepening and extending the scope of civil rights. For the most part, though, throughout our history, the court’s rulings have not been beneficial. But, even when they were, the idea that unelected and unaccountable judges can nullify democratically rendered laws plainly offends the idea of democratic governance. It is no wonder, therefore, that elites in other countries have introduced similar institutional arrangements, and that constitutional courts have become a common feature of constitutions written since World War II. Even to this day, however, the American case is extreme. The offense to democracy would be mitigated if the courts restrained themselves — intervening only rarely and then mainly to protect individuals’ rights. This used to be the norm in our Supreme Court. But decades of right-wing court packing are now working their deleterious effects. The Supreme Court today is a highly politicized institution that reflects the asymmetrical character of our duopolistic party system: rightwing judges installed by Republicans are unabashedly obstinate and radical, while judges installed by Democrats are generally “reasonable” to a fault and insipidly liberal. And so the Supreme Court made George W. Bush president in 2000, notwithstanding the popular vote and what would have been the vote of the Electoral College had the Justices allowed all the votes in Florida to be recounted fairly. In violation of ample precedent and sane jurisprudential reasoning, the Supreme Court has since gone on to permit unrestricted campaign contributions by corporate “persons”, allegedly to protect their rights to free speech. The American system of campaign finance has made a mockery of democratic governance from time immemorial. But thanks to the Citizens’ United ruling of 2010, even the pretense that governance is not about what can be bought and paid for is now thoroughly shot. * * * So much for rational deliberation or combining autonomously formed choices; our politics is about buying votes – not directly, but through the techniques advertisers use to market their clients’ wares. This involves dumbing down voters, not enlightening them through reasoned discourse; and instilling wants, not encouraging their self-directed development and combining them fairly. In other words, our politics has no more to do with democracy than the public discourse registered in the media that report on it, on the “horse race” it has become, has to do with a marketplace of ideas. There is only enough intimation of democratic procedures to give the system the de facto legitimacy economic elites need to keep everything working for benefit. Our politics is about buying influence with politicians who then buy votes. It has been reduced to hucksterism pure and simple. Whether the election goes to Obama, as now seems likely, or to Romney, the real winner will, in either case, be the same: the fraction of the one percent that always wins. And so, come November 6, Americans will be asked to choose a president from among two choices, neither of whom anybody wants except perhaps for lesser evil reasons. This is what democracy in America today has come to. A miserable prospect indeed, but there are silver clouds. At least this time, no one will think that, if only the right candidate were on offer, the mess would somehow fix itself. The best thing Obama did in his first term has been to shatter that illusion for a long time to come. And perhaps too the plain irrelevance of the electoral process for the kinds of changes liberals thought they would get through Obama’s election will finally dawn on the national consciousness. Electoral efforts, like Jill’s Stein’s in the Green Party, can be helpful for educating voters in ways that enhance democracy in America; and, at the state and local level, Democratic victories can be indispensable for fighting back against Republican overreach. The impending recall election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is a case in point. But, in the end, elections that alter the course of business as usual – whether for good or ill — only ratify transformations in the political landscape forged outside the electoral arena. For an engine of “change we can believe in” the voting booth is the last place to look. ANDREW LEVINE is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What’s Wrong With the Opium of the People. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). --------7 of 7-------- Wendell Berry - Some Further Words (excerpt) My purpose is a language that can repay just thanks ...a tongue set free from fashionable lies. Neither this world nor any of its places is an "environment." And a house for sale is not a "home". Economics is not a "science," nor "information" knowledge. A knave with a degree is a knave. A fool in a public office is not a "leader." A rich thief is a thief... An intellectual whore is a whore. The world is babbled to pieces after the divorce of things from their names. Ceaseless preparation for war is not peace. Health is not procured by the sale of medication, or purity by the addition of poison. Science at the bidding of corporations is knowledge reduced to merchandise; it is a whoredom of the mind, and so is the art that calls this "progress." So is the cowardice that calls it "inevitable.".... published 2001 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Shove Trove
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