Tag Archives | Progressives

Cornel West Calls Obama A ‘Counterfeit’

Bertman westProfessor Cornel West has never been one to mince words and in this interview for Salon he tells Thomas Frank that President Obama “posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency”:

Cornel West is a professor at Union Theological Seminary and one of my favorite public intellectuals, a man who deals in penetrating analyses of current events, expressed in a pithy and highly quotable way.

I first met him nearly six years ago, while the financial crisis and the presidential election were both under way, and I was much impressed by what he had to say. I got back in touch with him last week, to see how he assesses the nation’s progress since then.

The conversation ranged from Washington, D.C., to Ferguson, Missouri, and although the picture of the nation was sometimes bleak, our talk ended on a surprising note.

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Is MoveOn Less Progressive Than the New York Times Editorial Board?

The New York Times is hardly a progressive newspaper — but when it comes to the surveillance state and ongoing militarism of the Obama White House, the establishment’s “paper of record” puts MoveOn.org to shame.

New York Times building in NYC. Photo: Haxorjoe (CC)

New York Times building in NYC. Photo: Haxorjoe (CC)

And so, the same day that the Times editorialized to excoriate President Obama for his latest betrayal of civil liberties, MoveOn sent out a huge email blast sucking up to Obama.

The Times was blunt in its Saturday editorial: “By the time President Obama gave his news conference on Friday, there was really only one course to take on surveillance policy from an ethical, moral, constitutional and even political point of view. And that was to embrace the recommendations of his handpicked panel on government spying — and bills pending in Congress — to end the obvious excesses. He could have started by suspending the constitutionally questionable (and evidently pointless) collection of data on every phone call and email that Americans make.”

But, the newspaper added: “He did not do any of that.”

As the Times editorial went on to say, “any actions that Mr.… Read the rest

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The Forgotten Radical Science Movement

science for people

Via the Guardian, Alice Bell on the 1970s movement involving some of the UK’s top scientists:

“We have to face the fact that there is a crisis in science today.” So said Maurice Wilkins on 19 April 1969 as he opened the one-day inaugural meeting of the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS). That’s Nobel Prize winner Maurice Wilkins. Other early supporters of the Society included JD Bernal, Francis Crick, Julian Huxley and Bertrand Russell.

The hall was full to overflowing with more than 300 delegates. Two hundred signed up there and then, with membership reaching over a thousand by the following year. They started publishing a newsletter and BSSRS branches popped up across the country.

What distinguishes the BSSRS from other campaigns is that it was not simply a matter of scientists calling for more research funds or demands for their voice in public policy. Rather, they aimed to open up the politics of science to scrutiny so it might change and improve.

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Coincidence Control Network: Episode 50!

ccn50image

This week: Two lone wanderers return, the Tories hate Kim…a lot, Minority Report is getting closer, Surveillance Free day, Bradley update, Progressives get an open letter, we catch up with our lost heroes. Only God Forgives and The Holy Mountain, and much much more.

PersonnelJoe Nolan, Kim Monaghan, and Ken Eakins + SPECIAL GUESTS!

Linkypoops

David Cameron hates me – Link , Link

Retail Stores have new ways to track you – Link

The Surveillance-Free Day - Link

Bradley Manning verdict – Link

An Open Letter to Open-Minded Progressives – Link

The Holy Mountain at 40 – Link

Interludes

Chrome Hoof, The Lonely Island, Star Wars, and Arnie

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Progressives: In Swing States, Vote for Obama

Daniel Ellsberg 2006It is urgently important to prevent a Republican administration under Romney/Ryan from taking office in January 2013.

The election is now just weeks away, and I want to urge those whose values are generally in line with mine — progressives, especially activists — to make this goal one of your priorities during this period.

An activist colleague recently said to me: “I hear you’re supporting Obama.”

I was startled, and took offense.  “Supporting Obama?  Me?!”

“I lose no opportunity publicly,” I told him angrily, to identify Obama as a tool of Wall Street, a man who’s decriminalized torture and is still complicit in it, a drone assassin, someone who’s launched an unconstitutional war, supports kidnapping and indefinite detention without trial, and has prosecuted more whistleblowers like myself than all previous presidents put together. “Would you call that support?

My friend said, “But on Democracy Now you urged people in swing states to vote for him!  How could you say that?  I don’t live in a swing state, but I will not and could not vote for Obama under any circumstances.”

My answer was: a Romney/Ryan administration would be no better — no different — on any of the serious offenses I just mentioned or anything else, and it would be much worse, even catastrophically worse, on a number of other important issues: attacking Iran, Supreme Court appointments, the economy, women’s reproductive rights, health coverage, safety net, climate change, green energy, the environment.… Read the rest

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Political Metastasis

RepublicratJulian Sanchez writes on his blog:

Browsing a conservative news site the other day, I was struck by the sheer oddness of that familiar genre of political commentary that treats liberals and conservatives, not just as groups of people with systematic disagreements on policy questions, but as something like distinct subspecies of humanity. The piece that triggered this was something along the lines of “Five Reasons Liberals Are Awful People,” and it had almost nothing to do with any concrete policy question, or ultimately even the broad-brush contours of liberal political thought: It was a string of assertions about broad types of character flaws purportedly shared by liberals, of which their policy views were only a symptom. The same day, I chanced across a piece by Chris Mooney—based on his new book The Republican Brain—making a similar sort of argument from the other side by drawing on recent social science.

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The “99% Spring”: Co-Opting Occupy or Helping Spread its Message?

Jake Olzen writes on Alternet:

Next month, activists and organizers across the country are planning to train 100,000 people in nonviolent direct action for what they call The 99% Spring. But despite borrowing one or two of the Occupy movement’s favorite slogans, The 99% Spring hasn’t been called for by any general assembly.

Rather, this massive and controversial effort is coming from the institutional left — a diverse coalition of labor unions, environmental and economic justice groups, community organizations and trainers’ alliances. While some celebrate what appears to be a mainstreaming of resistance thanks to Occupy, others are crying co-option.

“This spring we rise!” write 99% Spring organizers in a letter to “America.” “We will reshape our country with our own hands and feet, bodies and hearts. We will take non-violent action in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi to forge a new destiny one block, one neighborhood, one city, one state at a time.

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NYC Schools Want to Ban ‘Loaded Words’ From Tests … Like ‘Dinosaur’

Stegosaurus

Illustration: Hgrobe (CC)

Great job, NYC! Brian Vitagliano reports on CNN:

Divorce. Dinosaurs, Birthdays. Religion. Halloween. Christmas. Television. These are a few of the 50-plus words and references the New York City Department of Education is hoping to ban from the city’s standardized tests.

The banned word list was made public – and attracted considerable criticism – when the city’s education department released this year’s “request for proposal” on March 8, 2010. The request for proposal is sent to test publishers around the country trying to get the job of revamping math and English tests for the City of New York.

The Department of Education’s says that avoiding sensitive words on tests is nothing new, and that New York City is not the only locale to do so. California avoids the use of the word “weed” on tests and Florida avoids the phrases that use “Hurricane” or “Wildfires,” according to a statement by the New York City Department of Education …

Read More: CNN

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Go Left, The Season Has Changed: Time for an OWS Spring Offensive

For years, in the last century, when I was in School and learning about the early days of journalism, we were taught that author Horace Greeley who founded the New York Herald Tribune, was famous for saying, “Go West Young Man And Grow Up With The Country.”

One problem, as we learned recently, he didn’t coin the phrase but only popularized it. (Another media mistake involving a top dog in the media!) Indiana newspaper writer John Soule actually gave the advice in 1851 and, it would serve as the mantra for 19th century “action” in the form of Westward migration.

These days, those good and the great men and women who won their struggle stripes in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements have a new mantra for action.

Some, who recently appeared at New York’s annual Left Forum, were sharing it with younger people,  “Go Left.”

They would probably agree with Mitt Romney who said recently he can’t think of any reason for any young person to support a Democrat — but for different reasons.… Read the rest

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The Movement To Teach The Economy What It Is Doing

EMAIL to disinfoIn an essay penned over a decade ago titled “In Distrust of Movements”, farmer, author, and critic Wendell Berry beautifully summed up the nature of and need for an Occupy movement. Via the irrisistible fleet of bicycles:

One way we could describe the task ahead of us is by saying that we need to enlarge the consciousness and the conscience of the economy. Our economy needs to know — and care — what it is doing. This is revolutionary, of course, if you have a taste for revolution, but it is also a matter of common sense.

People in movements…often become too specialized, as if finally they cannot help taking refuge in the pinhole vision of the institutional intellectuals. They almost always fail to be radical enough, dealing finally in effects rather than causes. Or they deal with single issues or single solutions, as if to assure themselves that they will not be radical enough.

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