Saturday, October 30, 2004

in Case you forgot...The other Left

It's two days till election day and everyone's talking about Bush and Kerry. Last night my room-mate and I watched Alexandra Pelosi's "Diary of a Political Tourist," a shallow commentary on the primary season that eliminated the candidates Pelosi could probably have gotten the most access to: Kucinich, Braun and Sharpton. Gee, it's great to have all these "independent" documentary films out there isn't it ?
I bet HBO is wishing they hadn't given her so much cash to make that movie. She even got a hug from huggy-bear Karl Rove himself.
In contrast, the last episode of Altman and Trudeau's "Tanner on Tanner" was spot-on.

So, visit counterpunch for a dose of reality regardless of who you're voting for:

and try not to confuse voting with political action.
Here are some interesting views on the big day:
This one is interesting:

enjoy your Tuesdays,

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Labor Law, American History, War, War, War

Howard Zinn was on target today in the article that appeared as the top headline on He said, about Kerry's campaign, and I agree:

"He [Kerry] should not be saying that he will wage the Iraq War better, that he will replace U.S. troops with soldiers from other countries. If it is immoral for our soldiers to be occupying Iraq and killing Iraqis every day, then it is immoral for foreign soldiers to do the same.... To those who say that we must not ''cut and run,'' Kerry can say, with some authority: We did cut and run in Vietnam, and it was the right thing to do."

Going on to argue that Kerry should focus on economic security, because this is what American people continue to identify as the most important issue to them, Zinn insists that this is not a Utopian or impossible platform for a winning campaign. (thanks to my fave librarian for the correction here) Even if he doesn't mean that Kerry can win on a straight-up Kucinich style platform, which is how I originally read this article, I don't share Zinn's confidence. Zinn mentions William Lloyd Garrison - a great example of a hugely successful visionary, but he didn't influence the world through election to the presidency or the holding of any elected office. He remained steadfastly outside politics.
However, Zinn's main point I do agree with. It's a cry for a political vision not dominated simply by what marketing hacks determine is "electable." Even if it's impossible, so-called impossible things do happen, as Zinn pointed out in another optimistic article in the Nation last week. I just seriously doubt that a presidential campaign is the place for these issues to get heard.

Kerry will probably fail to change his argument for tough, tough, tough USA, and for that reason, those people who are reluctantly (and not reluctantly) voting for him on the "Anybody but Bush" platform should heed Zinn's words. Don't forget US history! Don't forget the Vietnam war -- and especially, don't forget the war on Iraq and the every day deaths, maimings, kidnappings. Keep shouting about what really matters. Please don't get lost in the CBS memo spin cycle. (that doesn't mean I'm not going to read Kitty Kelley. I don't know if it's perverse pleasure, but I'm beginning to think that the Bush/Rove duo is akin in historical importance to Hitler/Goebbels.)

How does this relate to U.S. labor law? In my work on my book revisions, I've been reading a book that argues that the reason that the American labor activists never created successful legislation, and eventually gave up on even seeking to pass labor-friendly laws was that the Supreme Court overturned everything that labor passed in the 1890s. The author of the book finds this terrible but I see it as a confirmation of Marx's early arguments that the state under capitalism is a tool for managing class conflict, not a true vehicle for social transformation. From this, Big Bill Haywood was convinced that dwelling on the passage of laws was a waste of time and that it would be more fruitful to fight w/direct (economic) action, along the lines of the general strike. hear hear. Now will pro-choice and other activists take up the challenge, instead of desperately voting for anyone who promises to preserve Roe V. Wade? What a passive position! It's not our role to "shut up and support Kerry" but we can't count on Kerry to say what we believe -- we must argue with him and keep making the arguments ourselves.
Am I see-sawing back and forth here? My anarchist roots and my Bush hatred are in deep conflict.

Finally, Good ol' New Yorker, they posted an old article by good ol' Ronnie Dugger on voting machines from 1988!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Every day is a day for Durito!

Ten years ago, when the Zapatista army of National Liberation (EZLN)first opposed U.S. neoliberalism, NAFTA, etc. they created a way to resist and understand globalization and its long lasting efffects. My mind turns to this in the aftermath of my lecture on the Plains Indian Wars of the 1860s-1880s, which always affect my students with appropriate horror. I never know how to end the lecture myself, but at the end of today, all I could think of was to say, "well that's you know, genocide," or something like that.
The excitement that I get out of an effective performance, a successful lecture on something so horrible really freaks me out, but at the end of it, I'm just at a loss, especially when I see the students depressed and disgusted faces. The story for example, of the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862, or of the robbery of the Black Hills. When you hear it for the first time, it's so shocking, and their shock wakes me out of my numbness. Now,it is time to recall another time, recalling another time:
(from Subcommandante Marcos..........March 11, 1995 -- while hiding in the jungle.)


(Neoliberalism seen from the Lacandon Jungle.)
It was the tenth day, with less pressure now. I went away a little to put up my tarp and move in. I was going along, looking up, searching for a good pair of trees that didn't have a dead hanging branch. So I was surprised when I heard, at my feet, a voice that shouted, "Hey, watch out!" I didn't see anything at first, but I stopped and waited. Almost immediately a little leaf began to move and, from under it, a beetle came out who began to demand: - Why don't you watch where you put your big boots? You were about to crush me! - he yelled.

This demand seemed familiar to me.

- Durito? [little hard guy] - I ventured.

- Nabucodonosor [Nebuchadnezzar] to you! Don't be a leveler! - answered the little beetle indignantly.

Now I had no room for doubt.

- Durito! Don't you remember me? Durito, I mean, Nabucodonosor, just kept looking thoughtfully at me. He took our a little pipe from within his wings, filled it with tobacco, lit it, and after a big puff which brought on a cough that wasn't at all healthy, he said: Mmmmh, mmmh.

And then he repeated: - Mmmmh, mmmh.

I knew that this was going to take a while, so I sat down. After several "mmmh, mmh," Nabucodonosor, or Durito, exclaimed: Captain? The same! - I said, satisfied to see myself recognized.

Durito (I believe that after recognizing him, I could call him that again) began a series of movements of his feet and wings that, in the body language of the beetles, is a kind of dance of joy and to me has always seemed like an attack of epilepsy. After repeating several times, with different emphases, "Captain!," Durito finally stopped and fired the question I so feared: - Got any tobacco? - Well, I...- I drew out the answer to give myself time to calculate my reserves.

At that, Camilo arrived and asked me: - Did you call me, Sup? - No, it's nothing... I was singing and.. and don't worry, you can go - I responded nervously.

- Oh, good - said Camilo, and retired.

- Sup? - asked Durito, surprised.

- Yes, - I told him. - Now I'm a subcommander.

- And is that better or worse than Captain? - Durito asked insistently.

- Worse - I told him and myself.

I changed the subject quickly and held the bag of tobacco out to him saying: - Here, I have a little.

To receive the tobacco, Durito performed his dance again, now repeating "thank you!" over and over.

The tobacco euphoria over, we started the complicated ceremony of lighting our pipes. I leaned back on my pack and just looked at Durito.

- You look the same as ever - I told him.

- You, on the other hand, look pretty beat up - he responded.

- It's life - I said, playing it down.

Durito started with his "mmmh, mmh." After a while he said to me: - And what brings you here after so many years? - Well, I was thinking, since I had nothing better to do, I said to myself, why not take a turn around the old places and get a chance to see old friends - I responded.

- Old mountains still get green! - Durito protested indignantly.

After that followed a long while of "mmmh, mmmh" and of his inquisitive looks.

I couldn't take it any longer and confessed to him: - The truth is that we are withdrawing because the government launched an offensive against us...

- You ran! - said Durito.

I tried to explain to him what a strategic withdrawal is, a tactical retreat, and whatever occurred to me in that moment.

- You ran - said Durito, this time with a sigh.

- Well, yes, I ran - and what about it? - I said, annoyed, more with myself than with him.

Durito didn't press. He stayed quiet a good while. Only the smoke of the two pipes formed a bridge. Minutes later he said: - It seems like there's something more that's bothering you, not just the "strategic retreat."

- "Withdrawal," "strategic withdrawal" - I corrected him. Durito waited for me to go on: - The truth is that it bothers me that we weren't prepared. And it was my fault we weren't prepared. I believed the government did want dialogue and so had given the order that the consultations for the delegates should begin. When they attacked us we were discussing the conditions of the dialogue. They surprised us. They surprised me... - I said with shame and anger.

Durito went on smoking, waited for me to finish telling him everything that had happened in the last ten days. When I finished, Durito said: - Wait for me.

And he went under a little leaf. After a while he came out pushing his little desk. After that he went for a chair, sat down, took out some papers, and began to look through them with a worried air.

- Mmmh, mmh - he said with every few pages that he read. After a time he exclaimed: - Here it is!

- Here's what? - I asked, intrigued.

- Don't interrupt me! - Durito said seriously and solemnly. And added: - pay attention. Your problem is the same one many have. You refer to the economic and social doctrine known as "neoliberalism"...

"Just what I needed... now classes in political economy," I thought.

It seems like Durito heard what I was thinking because he chided me: - Ssshh! This isn't just any class! It is the Chair [as in university] par excellence.

That about the "Chair par excellence" seemed exaggerated to me, but I got ready to listen to it. Durito continued after some "mmmh, mmmh"s.

- It is a metatheoretical problem! Yes, you start from the idea that "neoliberalism" is a doctrine. And by "you," I am referring to those who insist on frameworks that are rigid and square like your head. You think that "neoliberalism" is a capitalist doctrine to confront the economic crises that capitalism itself attributes to "populism." Right? Durito didn't let me answer.

- Of course right! Well, it turns out that "neoliberalism" is not a theory to confront or explain the crisis. It is the crisis itself made theory and economic doctrine! That is, "neoliberalism" hasn't the least coherence; it has no plans nor historic perspective. In the end, pure theoretical shit.

- How strange... I've never heard or read that interpretation - I said with surprise.

- Of course! How, if it just occured to me in this moment! - says Durito with pride.

- And what has that got to do with our running away, excuse me, with our withdrawal? - I asked, doubting such a novel theory.

- Ah! Ah! Elementary, my dear Watson Sup! There are no plans, there are no perspectives, only i-m-p-r-o-v-i-s-a-t-i-o-n. The government has no consistency: one day we're rich, another day we're poor, one day they want peace, another day they want war, one day fasting, another day stuffed, and so on. Am I clear? - Durito inquires.

- Almost... - I hesitate, and scratch my head.

- And so? - I ask, seeing that Durito isn't continuing with his dissertation.

- It's going to explode. Boom! Like a balloon blown up too far. It has no future. We're going to win - says Durito as he puts his papers away.

- We? - I ask maliciously.

- Of course, "we"! It's clear that you won't be able to without my help. No, don't try to raise objections. You need a superadvisor. I'm already learning French, for continuity's sake.

I stayed quiet. I don't know what is worse: discovering that we're governed by improvisation, or imagining Durito as a supersecretary in the cabinet of an improbable transition government.

Durito attacks: - I surprised you, eh? Well, don't feel bad. As long as you don't crush me with your big boots I will always be able to clarify for you the road to follow in the course of history, which despite its ups and downs, will raise this country up, because united... because united... Now that I think of it, I haven't written to my old lady - Durito lets out the big laugh.

- I thought you were serious! - I pretend to be annoyed and throw a little branch at him. Durito dodges it and keeps laughing.

Now calmed down, I ask him: - And where did you get those conclusions that neoliberalism is the crisis made economic doctrine? - Ah! From this book that explains the 1988-1994 economic project of Carlos Salinas de Gortari - he answers and shows me a little book with the logo of Solidarity.

- But Salinas isn't president anymore.. it seems - I say with a doubt that shakes me.

- I know that, but look who drew up the plan - says Durito and points out a name. I read: - "Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon" - I say, surprised, and add: - So there isn't any break? - What there is is a cave of thieves - says Durito, implacable.

- And so? - I ask with real interest.

- Nothing, just that the Mexican political system is like that dead tree branch hanging over your head - says Durito and I jump and look up and see that, sure enough, there is a dead branch that is hanging threateningly over my hammock. I change places while Durito keeps talking: - The Mexican political system is just barely attached to reality with pieces of very fragile branches. It will only take one good wind for it to come down. Of course, when it falls, it's going to take other branches with it, and watch out, anyone who's under its shade when it collapses! - And if there isn't a wind? - I ask while I check whether the hammock is well tied.

- There will be... there will be - says Durito and looks thoughtful, as if he were looking at the future.

We were both left thoughtful. We lit our pipes again. The day began to get underway. Durito kept looking at my boots. Fearful, he asked: - and how many are with you? - Two more, so don't worry about being stomped - I said to calm him. Durito practices doubt methodically as a discipline, so he continued with his "mmmh, mmmh," until he let out: - But those coming after you, how many are they? - Ah! Those? Like some sixty...

Durito didn't let me finish: - Sixty! Sixty pairs of big boots on top of my head! 120 Sedena [Defense Dept.] boots trying to crush me! - he yelled hysterically.

- Wait, you didn't let me finish. They aren't sixty - I said.

Durito interrupted again: - Ah! I knew so much disaster wasn't possible. How many are they, then? Laconically, I answered: - Sixty thousand.

- Sixty thousand! - Durito managed to say before choking on the smoke of his pipe.

- Sixty thousand! - he repeated several times, crossing his little hands and feet together with anguish.

- Sixty thousand! - he said to himself desperately.

I tried to console him. I told him that they weren't all coming together, that it was an offensive in stages, that they were coming in from different directions, that they hadn't found us, that we had rubbed out our tracks so that they wouldn't follow us, in short, I told him everything that occurred to me.

After a while, Durito calmed down and started with his "mmmh, mmmh." He took out some little papers that, as I started to realize, looked like maps, and began questioning me about the location of enemy troops. I answered the best I could. With each answer Durito made marks and notes on his little maps. He went on a good while, after the questioning, saying "mmmh, mmmh." After some minutes, and after complicated calculations (I say this as he used all his little hands and feet to do the figuring) he sighed: - What's said: they're using "the anvil and hammer," the "sliding lasso," the "rabbit hunt," and the vertical maneuver. Elementary, it comes from the Rangers manual of the School of the Americas, - he says to himself and to me. And adds: - But we have one chance to come out well from this.

- Ah, yes? And how? - I ask with skepticism.

- With a miracle - says Durito as he puts his papers away and lies back down.

The silence settled down between us and we let the afternoon arrive between the branches and vines. Later, when night finished falling from the trees, and flying, covered the sky, Durito asked me: - Captain... Captain... Psst! Are you asleep? - No. - ...

What is it? - I answered.

Durito asks with pity, as if afraid to hurt me.

- And what do you intend to do? I keep smoking, I look at the silver curls of the moon hung from the branches. I let out a spiral of smoke and I answer him and answer myself: - Win.


On the little radio someone, to a blues rhythm, tears out the one that goes: "All its gonna right with a little help of my friends..." [sic]


So much rain and not a drop to sate the yearning...

Go on again.
Health, and be careful with that dry branch that hangs over your heads and that pretends, ingenuously, to shelter you with its shade.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

lefty movies and other stuff

The other night, I saw a film called "Hijacking Catastrophe." Here's a link to amazon's info on the book that the film
was based on.

The movie was good, It was inspiring despite the excessive "talking head" visuals and lack of new really concrete information or fascinating footage. What really worked well was the analysis, the framing, the very eloquent comments from the people who talked: Chomsky, Norman Mailer, Norman Solomon, Vandana Shiva, etc.
The central themes: the history of PNAC, the rise of this particular wing of the Republican party of neocon uber-imperialists, the sadism of the media coverage and the actual program for the "shock and awe" methods of bombing, the marketing of Bush as the masculine leader non-pareil. It really makes you feel that these people are fascists who will stop at nothing. Honest to God, the film put me into a near panic.
It would work well in a classroom setting, as it is only 1 hour and 22 minutes long. Sut Jhally, who directed and produced it, is a very well-known media critic, who wrote major television criticism books that I recall well from grad school: "the ideological octopus," and "Enlightened Racism," an audience analysis of the Cosby show in Apartheid South Africa.
Since then: lots has gone on for me. I went to see an exhibition related to a book about Puerto Rican in-line skaters in Williamsburg, in the midst of the now-deeply gentrified Bedford ave., Today,I got a copy of a somewhat new book on the Triangle Fire, which I'm teaching in a coupla weeks. I went to my friend's fortieth birthday, a milestone celebrated by a group of truly cool people, most of whom work in the health and education professions. Many of them are seriously worried or even depressed, believing fully that Bush will win the election. I know that I too should seriously be considering that this is possible, but I have trouble believing that it will really happen. More likely to me is that somehow they will steal the election or even suspend it, after having cooked up some fear of terrorism to the 'nth degree. Why do I still believe that the American people are too smart to elect this asshole, or to buy the bullshit that is shoveled their way day in and day out? There's so much evidence to the contrary.
This brings me to the last thing I wanted to mention. The bizarre turn of Benny Morris. It's about people's need to believe in their own rightness and nothting else. Morris has collected more information on Israeli war crimes, and is noted for this by almost every serious scholar of Palestine/Israel in his book, "The Origin of the Palestinian Refugee Problem":

Instead of denying that this happened, however, Morris now argues that it was necessary. Early this year, he came out explicitly in support of "transfer," "ethnic cleansing," or, to put it bluntly, "genocide" when he was interviewed in Ha'aretz and The Guardian. There are two good commentaries on him on "the electronic intifada" web page.

This is depressing, but I find it easier to believe that people are actually working their way around information than I find it easy to believe that they are simply ignorant. To suggest that people are ignorant, seems to me almost patronizing. They are probably not ignorant, nor are they evil. They just don't want to believe the truth that suggests that they must act. If they are ignorant, they are willfully so, like the Poles who lived next to the trains that ran to Auschwitz. How can they not know that when the bombs drop on populated areas that they are killing people?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Letting William Rivers Pitt speak for me today

Hi peoples,
Last night, I was having dinner w/my favorite librarian, and I asked "how is it that people can still believe that Osama Bin Laden was somehow connected to Sadam Hussein?" and he said, "because we don't have a media." Too true. I forget the source of misinformation all too often.
William Rivers Pitt had a great commentary on this issue today. Check it out here:

If you didn't look at it yet, Jesse Jackson also had good comments on why it is that Kerry's campaign has failed to respond to the bullshit attacks on them. You can find it in Doug Ireland's column on "" or follow this link:

And now, I'm taking off to do the only thing that will stave off total media obsession: going to the gym where I will simultaneously sweat and listen to either Al Franken's radio show, which makes me feel perversely "in-tune and secure" because I can imagine that despite my workout time, I am not missing a minute of important "breaking news" should it happen,....or where I will blissfully ignore everything and instead listen to a medley of Metallica, Moby and other loud fast stuff while pumping my little legs as fast as they can go.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Will Scandals Never Cease? and other things

I'm simultaneously exhausted and exhilirated by the waves of scandals revealing the total mendacity and corruption of our boy president. Despite "Texans for Truth" and other revelations, it seems increasingly that the truth doesn't matter to many Americans. That's not what I wanted to write about though.
The other day, I was googling Chip Berlet, the researcher who did so much for the Anti-Racist Action network back in the 90s and found this article on the principled ways of dealing with sectarian leftists, etc. in mass organizations.

He writes particularly about the bad practice of block voting by cadre organizations. When I left L&R during the split in 1998, I remember thinking (and telling people) that I thought that it had been very difficult to be a participant in good faith in mass organizations while also beholden to the idea that one must find the correct revolutionary position and argue it vociferously, always putting L&R first. I voted strongly against making L&R a cadre organization back then, as people debated our future, and I lost. So, I left the organization, which I thought was becoming increasingly irrelevant to other movements and incapable of doing the least bit of productive work, much less bringing on the revolution. This article on sectarians and mass orgs was useful and a little less personally charged.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Fall Feels Good

I've finally recovered from the Republican National Convention, and I'm ready to write about something new. Oh really?
Today's topic: The Democratic Party is not the sum of all opposition to right wing politics. Over the past few years, I've been flummoxed by right-wing students whose response to criticism of right-wing policies is to point out the flaws of the Clinton administration or the Democrats. More than once, I've seen a student criticize the war in Iraq, only to have a right-wing student criticize that student for having (presumably) supported the Kosovo invasion. (AS IF!, I would silently think, and hope that student under the verbal gun would respond with something similar).
The right-wing student's assumption is that all people who opposed the war in Iraq must have that view for simple partisan reasons, as if their political beliefs were determined only by a party line. Therefore, they must have also supported the ("left wing") Kosovo invasion.
We all know that most leftists didn't support Kosovo, and at that time, most of us weren't confused about that, since we didn't support Bill Clinton. During that bombing campaign, I recall protesting Madeline Allbright, who spoke at Minnesota's commencement in 1999. I also "did" Bill Clinton in the Minneapolis May Day parade with my Critical Resistance buddies, who were dressed as the "smart bombs" that were hitting hospitals, schools and other targets in Kosovo. (My job was to hit on women in the parade audience and apologize for bad bomb strikes repeatedly. More than ever, with Bill Clinton recovering in the hospital, I think "Our President, Gargantua.")
I used to blame just the ignorant right-wingers for the "if you're not with us, you must be a Democrat" type reasoning, but after days and days of listening to Air America, it's easy to see how the Dems' appropriation of the left works.
Today's anti-Bush talking-points have created a situation of straight-up appropriation, and it's insidious, as "anybody but Bush" frenzy gets to the point that Michael Moore, whose Bowling For Columbine exposed the horrors of Kosovo and other American "wars of choice" starts to argue that people on the Left don't like Bush because he didn't spend enough time and effort bombing Afghanistan in Farenheit 9/11, or as you will hear almost the entire Air America staff harping on every show about how Bush's focus on Iraq is losing the "war on terror."
We've got to, especially now, keep arguing for a real left agenda so that we can put real pressure on whoever is elected in November.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Feels like '68? Schwarzenegger praises Nixon, calls Humphrey a "socialist"

What were the headlines on Schwarzenegger's speech last night, let's see...
CNN says "Schwarzenegger's Star Power Dazzles Delegates" The New York Times "Upbeat Republicans Revive Theme of Compassion" and the Washington Post "Bush's Leadership Against Terror Hailed"
My headline: "Schwarzenegger on Nixon in '68 'A Breath of Fresh Air"
That's the news story, people, the one thing of substance that the man said. He said, Hubert
Humphrey was a socialist and Nixon supported "free enterprise" and that's when he became a Republican, 1968. He went on to try to convince immigrants from Guatemala that they should be Republicans if they believe that their families can manage their money better than the Republicans can. If he's talking about the California state government, he may be right, since they're the ones that handed the cash and the rights over to Arnold's buddies at Enron.
Meanwhile, an activist from the Ruckus Society says "we seek a safer world."

Protest Today

Hey Folks,
Today's one of the most important days to be out in the street. Even relatively mainstream
news sources are reporting 1000 arrests yesterday - most of these because people were protesting without permits near the convention areas.

10:00 am If you have time, show up at Pier 57 (West Side Highway and 15th street) at 10:00 am to protest the "appalling conditions" that convention arrestees face in the temporary cages set up for them there.

at 4pm the Central Labor Council's march begins at 8th ave. and 30th street (enter at 23rd). Especially if you're a union member, today is a big day.

7pm 52nd street and 6th avenue: March on the Corporate Media. Begins at CBS, ends at Fox HQ.

UFPJ has a silent candlelight vigil tonight.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I'm tired of the GOP already!

I wish I could come up with some new news for anyone who might be reading this, but so far, I can only direct you to keep reading the
website for updates on whatever happens today, which might be quite a bit of civil disobedience.
Sounds like the War Resisters' League die-in folks got arrested in big numbers both at Ground Zero downtown and near the garden.
Based on what I just read on the indymedia newswire, it seems as if the major civil disobedience actions all happened this evening around Union Square and MSG. The police arrested somewhere between 650 and 800 people this afternoon and evening. This is all based simply on following indymedia reports: at least 11 of their reporters were arrested. Large numbers of bystanders were arrested. People were told to disperse from sidewalks. People were penned in with barricades and with the orange plastic fencing that they've been using here and were unable to leave, then arrested in mass numbers.
While this was going on, Arnold Schwarzenegger was giving a speech in which he praised Richard Nixon and described Hubert Humphrey as a "socialist." I don't know if it was his accent, or the virtual sound of jackboots outside, but no one on an American political stage has sounded this much like a Nazi to me.
I wrote this earlier in the day... Based on what I read tonight, I imagine that these folks got arrested.
here's an action that looks OK: "flashmob street party" -- I found this on the indymedia open postings site. I can't do it, because I'll be teaching at that hour. Anyone who goes, write comments here.

DETAILS: Tuesday, August 31, 2004, 6 pm
1. Register your cellphone at
2. Join the a31streetparty group.
3. Be at midtown at 5:45 PM and watch your phone!BRING confetti costumes instruments drums friends and a whole lotta attitude!Location: Unspecified, will be relayed to activists via text messaging for cell phones at (group name on txtmob is a31streetparty) and it will also be available via the voice mail at 212 561 0746 and we will post it on the web at counter convention. Moving. Bring what you want to see take place at the street party (ie, soccer balls, food, music, whatever you can think of).The theme of this party is celebration of our solidarity as activists, asserting the idea that the streets of Manhattan are public domain, and transforming the space around us to reflect our vision of a better world. While we will not be inviting arrest and will do our best to maneuver around it, we will proceed with the awareness that that 31st is a day of direct action and police may consider the street party a form of direct action. Those who wish to participate but choose to not risk arrest will be accommodated to the best of the abilities of the participating groups and individuals. In following, we ask that the environment of the street party remain chemical and alcohol free. We are committed to recognizing that people of color, trans folks, undocumented people, and people with disabilities are targeted disproportionately and more severely by the police and court systems. We ask that people with privilege step up to deal with police and law enforcement officials and that people with less privilege step up to speak to the media. We are a coalition of musicians, artists, and activists who are calling for a moving street party on the evening of Aug 31, a day of direct action against the RNC. We intend to stay in locations until we come to consensus as a group to move to a new location or until we feel compelled by the situation to move. We will use navigators and bike scouts to help direct the group with regard to demands from law enforcement and requests from other groups performing actions in the area. We will disperse from party locations following our navigators and the music in all directions available, forming smaller street parties which will then move to the next location. Decisions will be made by the group using a three-quarters consensus model: meaning that sometimes we will move forward, despite 25% blocks. However, the actual stopping points will be designated by a committee of roughly ten organizers/navigators who are representatives of the various affinity groups taking part in the action. This is to ensure that fewer police will be involved in knowing what we're doing and to raise our unpredictability factor while providing representation for as many groups partaking as possible. We ask that any direct action that groups/individuals decide to take within the street party is done with careful consideration of its implications upon the whole group. And, that any action is taken in a space designated for such action after notifying the navigators. This will help the navigators coordinate the group activities and provide as much protection as possible for those who can not be involved in other actions. It will also allow navigators to relate the current situation as described by the scouts to those intending to perform an action thereby ensuring that the action is performed with as much security as possible. We are committed to supporting actions that will be taking place throughout the city at the same time. And, hope to be able to lend our festivities and energy to raise the spirits of and provide support for those groups involved in other actions. One additional possibility for an after party is that the street party could, as other actions wind down if they do without all being rounded up, collect those remaining into an even larger street party and perhaps move down towards 1 police plaza to show solidarity with the legal support who will be there. In getting back downtown, depending on how tired people are, we might use a subway and have a subway party on our way downtown. Again, this could all be worked out by navigators/consensus of people still out on the streets.

Monday, August 30, 2004

dime's worth of difference!

My absolutely favorite librarian sent me this link today:

Some of you will find this just terrible, but it's worth listening to Bob McChesney and Alex Cockburn. Did you know, for instance, that Kerry works with Rand Beers ? ugh! There are many callers who argue for the differences between the Republicans and Democrats.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

protests are more fun than a lot of things

I Just got back from the big protest from MSG to Union Square. My experience of the march was probably like that of many others. It was VERY hot. It was VERY big. What is it about protesting that creates inhospitable weather? Near-frostbite on F15, near-heatstroke on A29? Since this is my blog, I feel free to talk about what's really important.
I marched with my book-group, We were ready to line up at 18th and 7th avenue at about 10:30 and stood there, looking for shade, using porta-johns, talking to people about their cool signs for about an hour, then lined up to march and stood around and waited some more. The march was really big, and had a happy, festive atmosphere, despite the hovering helicopters. One of the best signs looked as if it had been drawn by somebody's kid: "liar, liar, pants on fire" and had a primitively-drawn picture of George Bush in flaming jeans.
Later in the march, some people behind us chanted: "liar, liar pants on fire...hope you burn your ASS!"
Also, this same group chanted "George Bush"... "Coked-up Cowboy!"
On that theme, saw a sign "George Bush, AA Candidate" which had a picture of Bush carrying a bottle of gin in one hand and holding the globe on a pitchfork w/the other.
Basically, it was like that for most of the day. We got to the Madison Square garden, having added some members to our group and lost some others due to the heat and crowding. It was exciting to be at MSG next to the huge Fox news sign where we did some more chants created by the people around us:
"No Bush, No Dick -- Only the NY Nicks!" and also sang "na na na na, hey... Goodbye."
We saw the crazy Christians after the march turned, a few scattered pro-Bush people, and the "protest warrior" people on the corner. silly, silly. Few bothered with them. Also there was a couple: "men without pants against Bush" and "women who support men without pants against Bush." very funny.
At the turn in front of the grad center, and back down toward Union Square it was more spread out, cooler and kind of leisurely. I got some water and met up w/my librarian pal for some hugging and an important news update, then went downtown. Union square was full of happy protestors, unbothered by cops, shoppers or bushies. I milled for a while, then rode home, chatting w/fellow protestor families all the way.
Now it's off to the brooklyn bbq for more recap and analysis. The only trouble? My friend Chris called from California after he saw (on CSPAN) a black block catch fire to a paper-maiche dragon in front of MSG. According to the indymedia site, WBAI has suggested that the "anarchists" who did this were under-cover cops. We'll see. Keep tuned to your alternative media, folks, and stay awake!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

more news sites
William Rivers Pitt and co. are in town covering the RNC. That's their news page.

don't forget to watch for regular updates on:

and of course, there's


First notes on the Critical Mass
by NYC Indymedia
28 Aug 2004

The first wave of posts on tonight's Critical Mass have come in. The ride was New York's largest critical mass, with well over 5,000 bikes.Gathering at Union Square in the middle of Manhattan at 7 p.m. and departing at 7:30, oil-free transportation stretched across all horizons around Union Square. First pedaling south down Broadway and then rerouting north on Madison and Sixth avenues, Critical Mass consisted of a 45 block long brigade of cyclists, skaters and pedestrians. The ride lasted about 2 hours, performed its traditional occupation of Times Square and rode past Madison Square Garden (MSG), site of the RNC.Approximately 800 Critical Massers ended up at St. Mark's church in lower Manhattan, sanctuary for the protest and home to much of the organizing for the counter RNC mobilizing. Upon arriving at the church, the Critical Mass riders hoisted their bikes into the air, waving them overhead as they unleashed a long unified victory cry.The celebratory mood at St. Mark's lasted only fifteen minutes though before police moved and began arresting participants. Critical Mass riders elsewhere were caught and arrested by New York City Police along the way. Several riders were taken down after passing MSG, dozens more were arrested at the Lincoln Tunnel.Video of the evening being processed by the Indymedia Center right now shows the regrettably predictable violent nature of the arrests. Caught on tape are images of protesters being thrown off their bicycles, heads beaten into the asphalt, then cuffed with plastic flexi-cuffs. Pedestrians milling about also unfortunately fell victim to the cops, getting pulled off the street and arrested too. The latest reports put the total amount of arrested riders and bystanders at 250 people.for more info, go to :
and see

Friday, August 27, 2004

it's all starting

It's all starting now. Go here and get yer schedule:
Also, check out and to get updates on what's happening.
Wear your earplugs

Thursday, August 26, 2004

more stuff to do during the convention
just got this in my mailbox from FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

Fox News Tuesday, August 31st 2004 04:00 pmNew York, NY USAThe Official Republican National ConventionFox News “Shut-up-a-thon”Join Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly in shouting, “Shut up!”(his favorite line) in front of Fox’s corporate HQ. You won’t want to miss the spectacular moves of the “Fox News Republican Cheerleaders” – guaranteed to leave you stupefied**An Oct. 2003 study by the University of Maryland found that people who rely on the Fox News Channel as their main news source are wildly misinformed about key issues regarding the Iraq war and that the more they watch, the more misinformed they are.Location: Fox 1211 Ave. of Americas (btwn. 47th & 48th) New York Contact:Jeff Grublersideshowjeff@hotmail.com415-385-5956Sponsored By:Brought to you by CODEPINK, Houston Global Awareness, Ronald Reagan Home for the Criminally Insane, The Tejas Bloc and more.

Oh yeah, at all actions, don't forget to bring your eargplugs.

every day is a bob kaufman day


Kaufman, Bob, Abominist Manifesto (broadside), San Francisco, City Lights, 1959.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Republicans Are Coming

Some cool sites related to incipient Republican invasion:
we ran into the revere ride. "The Republicans are coming, hide your children!"
I met this guy earlier in the Summer. He's young and energetic.
Palestine Activist Forum
radical librarians rock!
Anarchists fighting back
Starhawk has some interesting plans

too much workshopping

I'm so exhausted after three days of "investigating US history" workshops that I fell asleep three times while trying to read Bush's Brain, and now all I seem to be able to do is watch television. This was not a total waste of time, however, as I saw this new, improved version of Robert Weide's documentary, Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth. You can read all about it on this website:
Weide writes there that he was obsessed by Bruce as a teenager, and so was I. I don't know why, but I checked out a bunch of Lenny Bruce concert records from the Chapel Hill public library, taped them and then listened to them over and over. He was my hero. I loved this documentary mostly because it had all kinds of bits I'd never heard or seen before, including Bruce on Steve Allen's show.

Why am I sleepy? Today I was the only woman in a room full of men, all white and much older than I. I was already feeling good and hostile toward them, because the day before, one guy had described a relatively inocuous comment I made as an example of the hegemonic "neo-progressive" ideology that has overtaken the American historical profession. Since I'd read Novick's That Noble Dream in college and turned in a final paper with "progress" crossed out as the title, I took silent, personal umbrage at this.
This was my day to present my project-to-be to the group and I was unprepared, having spent the previous three days in mind-numbing workshops and the previous weeks desperately trying to use the last weeks of vacation to improve my book.
The workshop's organizer had asked me to design a "course module" on a women's history topic. I was bored by this prospect and had done almost nothing with it.
Today, as I was doing my presentation to the room full of men, speaking to them about the problems of women speaking in public, I realized, "oh the project is still very relevant." I had that feeling I used to have in Love and Rage meetings that almost none of the people I was speaking to could take even my most basic points seriously. This was especially the case when I started talking about corsets and how I was thinking about taking advantage of the web as a visual medium to talk about how women political activists looked, what they wore, etc. - especially, because students are "obsessed with fashion." Clothing might not seem serious, but really, can you imagine how crippling it must have felt to try to speak and go around and do things when wearing something that necessitated "fainting benches" on stairway landings?
People must not think about how much clothing affects the way their bodies feel. I had an intense argument with V. last year after I read an article about the girdle industry and girdle-fitters. The experience with the historians today was not so intense, but I got similarly frustrated. I'm sure that Lenny Bruce would have been sympathetic to the plight of the girdle-wearing, would have had something funny to say about it, at least. He was funny because he took things so seriously.
My plan is to do a web-based assignment using both written documents and photographs to teach intro level college history students about women activists in the 1890s-1900s. I'm not sure exactly yet how it will work, but the large questions will be "what makes something a 'woman's issue' and to whom? How did women both maintain and challenge feminine norms and conventional notions of "respectability" through what they said and how they presented themselves? I'm thinking of using Margaret Sanger, Emma Goldman, Frances Perkins, Ida B. Wells, Alice Paul and Frances Willard.