US: “The Progressive Movement is a PR Front for Rich Democrats”

Counterpunch, Weekend Edition March 15-17, 2013

Paid to Lose

by JOHN STAUBER

A major concentration of the "Progressive Movement" -- the makeover of imperialism from Bush to Obama

A major concentration of the “Progressive Movement” — the makeover of imperialism from Bush to Obama

There is good news in the Boston Globe today for the managers, development directors, visionaries, political hacks and propaganda flacks who run “the Progressive Movement.”   More easy-to-earn and easy-to-hide soft money, millions of dollars,  will be flowing to them from super rich Democrats and business corporations.  It will come clean, pressed and laundered through Organizing for Action, the latest incarnation of the Obama Money Machine which has recently morphed into a “nonpartisan non-profit corporation” that will  ‘‘strengthen the progressive movement and train our next generation of leaders.’’

Does this information concern you?  If not, you need to get out of the propaganda bubble of your Progressive Movement echo chamber and think.  Think hard.  Think about fundamental, radical, democratic, social and economic change, who might bring it about and how.  Ask yourself if the the rich elite, the 1%, are going to fund that.   Leave The Nation and Mother Jones on the shelf;  turn off Ed Schultz, Rachel Madow and Chris Hayes;  don’t open that barrage of email missives from Alternet, Media Matters, MoveOn, and the other think tanks;  and get your head out of the liberal blogosphere for a couple days.  Clear your mind and consider this:

The self-labeled Progressive Movement that has arisen over the past decade is primarily one big propaganda campaign serving the political interests of the the Democratic Party’s richest one-percent who created it.  The funders and owners of the Progressive Movement get richer and richer off Wall Street and the corporate system.  But they happen to be Democrats, cultural and social liberals who can’t stomach Republican policies, and so after bruising electoral defeats a decade ago they decided to buy a movement, one just like the Republicans, a copy.

The Progressive Movement that exists today is their success story.  The Democratic elite created  a mirror image of the type of astroturf front groups and think tanks long ago invented, funded and promoted by the Reaganites and the Koch brothers.  The liberal elite own the Progressive Movement.  Organizing for Action, the “non-partisan” slush fund to train the new leaders of the Progressive Movement is just the latest big money ploy to consolidate their control and keep the feed flowing into the trough.

The professional Progressive Movement that we see reflected in the pages of The Nation magazine, in the online marketing and campaigning of MoveOn and in the speeches of Van Jones, is primarily a political public relations creation of America’s richest corporate elite, the so-called 1%, who happen to bleed Blue because they have some degree of social and environmental consciousness, and don’t bleed Red.  But they are just as committed as the right to the overall corporate status quo, the maintenance of the American Empire, and the monopoly of the rich over the political process that serves their economic interests. Continue reading

10 Years Later, U.S. Legacy in Iraq : Death, Disease, Devastation, Displacement

By Larry Everest 

Countercurrents.org, 26 March, 2013

Ten years ago, on March 19-20, 2003 , the U.S. invaded Iraq , overthrew the Saddam Hussein regime, and then occupied the country for the next eight and a half years. President George W. Bush said the U.S. went to war to liberate Iraq and “free its people.” This March 19, President Barack Obama issued a statement saluting the U.S. military for their service and giving “the Iraqi people an opportunity to forge their own future…”

What did this U.S. war mean for Iraqis? What does it mean for their future?

  • Iraqis killed between March 2003 and December 31, 2011 (when U.S. military forces withdrew): at least 121,754.
  • Iraqi deaths as a result of the war, directly and indirectly (due to the destruction and disruption of the war, including to water and power systems, to healthcare and food production): 655,000 according to a 2006 Lancet study; 1 million according to 2008 Opinion Research Business study; current estimate: 1.2 to 1.4 million.
  • Iraqis injured: 4.2 million.
  • Iraqis driven from their homes: 4.5 million.
  • Number of U.S. military personnel killed through 2012: 4,486
  • Investigations by the U.S. military, government, or media concerning the number of Iraqis killed, wounded, displaced or who died as a result of the war and occupation: None. Continue reading

Judge Tashima (WW2 ethnic Japanese internment camp victim) upholds Arizona ban on Chicana/o studies

The long history of US racial oppression is challenged by ethnic studies in schools. Such critical studies are now illegal in Arizona

The history of US racial oppression is exposed and challenged by ethnic studies in schools. Such critical studies are now illegal in Arizona

Arizona on our mindsRacism Legalized

by Rodolfo F. Acuña,  March 18, 2013

U.S. Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima has made his decision to uphold disparate treatment of Mexican Americans, and the constitutionality of HB 2281. The purpose of this law was to destroy Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies Program. In doing so, Tashima returned us to the times of Joseph McCarty.

The Arizona law broadly banned courses that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, foster racial resentment, were designed for students of a particular ethnic group or that advocated ethnic solidarity.

The penalty if Tucson did not comply was that the district would lose 10 percent of its annual funding — some $14 million over a fiscal year.

Tashima ruled that the plaintiffs “failed to show the law was too vague, broad or discriminatory, or that it violated students’ first amendment rights.” On the positive side, he held that courses made-to-serve students of a particular ethnic group were not unconstitutional, which seems to imply that it is alright to ban ethnic studies programs.

building chicanaThe ruling raised more questions than it answered. The judge’s legal reasoning and wording was not consistent with his previous decisions, and it left me with the feeling that it had been written by law clerks and that the decision was not properly vetted by Tashima who has been more precise in previous rulings. A survivor of the Japanese internment camps, he had been expected to be sensitive to the rampant racism in Arizona.

Tashima noted that Attorney General Tom Horne’s anti-Mexican American Studies ardor bordered on discriminatory conduct, saying that Horne’s “single-minded focus on terminating the MAS (Mexican-American Studies) program” raised concerns.

Then Tashima engaged in mental gymnastics: “Although some aspects of the record may be viewed to spark suspicion that the Latino population has been improperly targeted, on the whole, the evidence indicates that Defendants targeted the MAS program, not Latino students, teachers or community members who participated in the program.” This conclusion is mind boggling.

This wrongheaded logic would condone the bombing of a village as long as the villagers were not targeted. Continue reading

New Release “Let Your Motto Be Resistance: A Handbook on Organizing New Afrikan and Oppressed Communities for Self-Defense”

[We have received the following message from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, announcing and detailing the release of a new organizing manual for community self-defense.  When many reform activists continue to appeal to oppressive institutions to solve the problems of repression and oppression, the manual charts a different path where matters are taken into the hands of the people, both in response to specific attacks they face from government and reactionary aggression, but also in building the struggle to end those oppressive powers once and for all.  Well worthy of study and broad distribution and active organizing, Frontlines offers it here (see link at end of announcement), encouraging responses.  — Frontlines ed.]

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559790_10152641717070627_1177440510_nOppressed peoples and communities can and will only be secure in this country when they are organized to defend themselves against the aggressions of the government and the forces of white supremacy and capitalist exploitation. “Let Your Motto Be Resistance: A Handbook on Organizing New Afrikan and Oppressed Communities for Self-Defense”, is the latest contribution of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) and the Every 36 Hours Campaign that seeks to strengthen organizing initiatives within Black or New Afrikan communities for self-defense, by presenting these initiatives with a comprehensive analytical framework and practical organizing tools to ground and unite them.

As the extrajudicial killing of Kimani Gray and the more than twenty other Black women and men by the police in the first two months of 2013 clearly illustrate, it is imperative that New Afrikan communities get organized and defend ourselves. As the real economy continues to contract, corporations become more vicious and exploitative, our communities are gentrified and displaced, public goods and services continue to be eliminated or privatized, and the national security state continues to grow and become ever more invasive, the attacks on New Afrikan and other oppressed and exploited people are only going to escalate. We must defend ourselves, and we have every right to do so by any means necessary.

“Let Your Motto Be Resistance” draws on the long history of New Afrikan peoples struggle to realize self-determination and defend our persons, our rights and our dignity from the assaults of the oppressive settler-colonial government and the forces of white supremacy. Building on this history “Let Your Motto Be Resistance” provides in summary form a vision of how we can (re)organize our communities from the ground up to defend ourselves and reassert our fundamental human rights to life, dignity, and self-determination. Continue reading

Political Prisoners, Mass Incarceration and What’s Possible for Social Movements

Mon, 01/28/2013

What can social justice movements do to resist and, ultimately, topple a state that is built on mass incarceration? The author, a political prisoner, says “at this moment it seems very possible for social movements to succeed in reducing prison populations. But any reductions under the present policy would only postpone the next incarceration binge to some more cost-efficient time.”

by Sundiata Acoli

This article previously appeared on the website dedicated to political prisoner/prisoner of war Sundiata Acoli. It was written to accompany Dan Berger, author, anarchist and college professor on his January, 2013 book tour thru Germany. Dan is author of “Outlaws in America: The Weather Underground Organization” and is the editor of “The Hidden ’70s.”

Every slave confined on a plantation or runaway detained in jail was a POW.”

Sundiata Acoli, Political Prisoner

Sundiata Acoli, Political Prisoner

America has millions of prisoners locked away in its dungeons, many for 20, 30 and 40 years or more – yet astonishingly, it claims there are no Political Prisoners or Political Prisoners of War (PP/POWs) in its prisons – and that it has no PPs.

That makes the u.s. the only country in the world that has MASS INCARCERATION, has more prisoners, period, than any other country – and has prisoners locked in secret CIA prisons around the world, but no PPs.

Since it has no PPs, it obviously has no masses of poor, hungry, homeless or unemployed people, nor does it have hordes of oppressed nationalities and lower classes herded into reservations, barrios, ghettoes, ‘hoods, trailer parks and housing projects who are daily subjected to various forms of discrimination, racial profiling and police brutality, murder and mass imprisonment.

If the u.s. has no PPs, then apparently there’s no MASS INJUSTICE in america because that’s where MASS INCARCERATION and PPs come from. MASS INCARCERATION is the barometer, the main indicator of MASS INJUSTICE in society.

PPs are those in every land and throughout every era, who are imprisoned for fighting INJUSTICE in their societies and the same holds true today for the relationship between MASS INJUSTICE, MASS INCARCERATION and PPs in u.s. society – and who must be freed! Not only PPs – but ALL those imprisoned by unjust policies. Continue reading

Strategizing To Defeat Control Unit Prisons And Solitary Confinement

By Angola 3 News, 15 February, 2013

Out of Control:  A Fifteen Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons, by Nancy Kurshan

Out of Control: A Fifteen Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons, by Nancy Kurshan

–An interview with author/activist Nancy Kurshan

Author and longtime activist Nancy Kurshan’s new book, entitled Out of Control: A Fifteen Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons , has just been released by the Freedom Archives . Kurshan’s book documents the work of The Committee to End the Marion Lockdown (CEML), which she co-founded in 1985 as a response to the lockdown at the federal prison in Marion, Illinois. It quickly turned into a broader campaign against control unit prisons and human rights violations in US prisons that lasted fifteen years, until 2000. The following excerpt from Out of Control details CEML’s origins:

I had been living in Chicago for about a year when I heard the news that two guards had been killed by two prisoners in the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, 350 miles south of Chicago. Although it was an isolated incident with no associated riot conditions, the prison was immediately placed on lockdown status, and the authorities seized on the opportunity to violently repress the entire prison population. For two years, from 1983 to 1985, all of the 350 men imprisoned there were subjected to brutal, dehumanizing conditions. All work programs were shut down, as were educational activities and religious services.

During the initial stage of this lockdown, 60 guards equipped with riot gear, much of it shipped in from other prisons, systematically beat approximately 100 handcuffed and defenseless prisoners. Guards also subjected some prisoners to forced finger probes of the rectum. Random beatings and rectal probes continued through the two-year lockdown. Despite clear evidence of physical and psychological brutality at the hands of the guards, Congress and the courts refused to intervene to stop the lockdown…

…Although the terrible conditions at the prison were striking, what drew us to Marion in particular was the history of struggle of the prisoners and their allies on the outside. When the infamous Alcatraz was closed in 1962, Marion Federal Penitentiary was opened and became the new Alcatraz, the end of the line for the “worst of the worst.”

In 1972 there was a prisoner’s peaceful work stoppage at Marion led by Puerto Rican Nationalist Rafael Cancel Miranda. In response to this peaceful work stoppage, the authorities placed a section of the prison under lockdown, thus creating the first “control unit,” essentially a prison within a prison, amplifying the use of isolation as a form of control, previously used only for a selected prisoner. That was 1972.

At this time, in 1985, after two years of lockdown, they converted the whole prison into a control unit. Importantly, because Marion in 1985 was “the end of the line,” the only “Level 6” federal prison, there were disproportionate numbers of political prisoners—those who were incarcerated for their political beliefs and actions. These included people such as Native American Leonard Peltier who had spent years there until recently, and now (in 1985) Black Panthers Sundiata Acoli and Sekou Odinga , Puerto Rican independentista Oscar López Rivera , and white revolutionary Bill Dunne . These were people we knew or identified with, activists of the 1960s and 1970s incarcerated for their political activities. Marion, like its predecessor Alcatraz and its successor ADX Florence, was clearly a destination point for political prisoners. Continue reading

When did “the land of the free” become a “police state”?

[The capitalist rulers of the USA have long claimed the country to be the fountain of democracy, brotherhood and freedom.  But along the way, the victims of the US’ rampant and violent growth have wondered “what in the world are they talking about?”

  • When the colonists and later the pilgrims arrived, their force hurled against the indigenous was certainly repressive.
  • When African people were kidnapped and brutally enslaved, and their exploitation enforced by the lash and the gun, this was not brotherhood at work.
  • When the US developed police forces to round up fugitive Africans, this was a police state.
  • When half of Mexico was seized, and turned into half of the USA instead, and the people were turned into illegal aliens, they were subjected to a police state.
  • When workers rose up to loosen the chains of their exploitation, and were shot down or jailed or executed, this was certainly a police state at work.
  • When Chinese were criminalized and banned, was this the brotherhood so proclaimed?
  • When Mexican-American citizens were rounded up, and blamed for the Great Depression of the 30’s, and hundreds of thousands were deported, this expulsion was characteristic of a police state action.
  • When Jim Crow enforced white supremacist rule with noose and whip and gun, with official badges worn or with the embrace or encouragement of officialdom, this was the police state at work.
  • When Japanese-Americans were rounded up and imprisoned, for the crime of being Japanese, this was surely a police state action.
  • When reformers and radicals and communists were banned from culture and schools and work, and many were jailed, was this an expression of the “land of the free?”
  • When people rose for civil rights and Black liberation, countless were beaten, jailed, and killed.  Many remain imprisoned today.  The face of a police state was seen by millions.
  • When the largest mass imprisonment program in the world as been expanded, largely against black and brown people, this speaks eloquently to the nature of US society.
  • And today, surveillance of Arabs and Muslims, black and brown youth, anti-war, environmental, women’s rights, and other political activists and opponents, and now electronic, social networking and drone surveillance continues to expand this repressive police state into every aspect of public and private life.

Some argue that one brutal or oppressive tool, or another, began this process.  Some of the earlier forms did not bother some people so much.  And some have been part of a privileged elite or so-called “middle class” which has enjoyed many of the “democratic” fruits obtained from an exploitative and oppressive system.  When do you think “the police state” truly has begun?  — Frontlines ed.]

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The coming drone attack on America

Drones on domestic surveillance duties are already deployed by police and corporations. In time, they will likely be weaponised

guardian.co.uk, Friday 21 December 2012

military drone spy

[By 2020, it is estimated that as many as 30,000 drones will be in use in US domestic airspace. Photograph: US navy/Reuters]

People often ask me, in terms of my argument about “ten steps” that mark the descent to a police state or closed society, at what stage we are. I am sorry to say that with the importation of what will be tens of thousands of drones, by both US military and by commercial interests, into US airspace, with a specific mandate to engage in surveillance and with the capacity for weaponization – which is due to begin in earnest at the start of the new year – it means that the police state is now officially here.

In February of this year, Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, with its provision to deploy fleets of drones domestically. Jennifer Lynch, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, notes that this followed a major lobbying effort, “a huge push by […] the defense sector” to promote the use of drones in American skies: 30,000 of them are expected to be in use by 2020, some as small as hummingbirds – meaning that you won’t necessarily see them, tracking your meeting with your fellow-activists, with your accountant or your congressman, or filming your cruising the bars or your assignation with your lover, as its video-gathering whirs. Continue reading