Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Coming! - Howard Zinn's New Documentary!!

Excited Greetings!

I can't even begin to express how excited I am about this documentary!
YES!! Please go here for the review of when I saw pieces of this
documentary performed live here in Portland:
"The People Speak is a big hit in Portland, Oregon"
Eddie Vedder and Viggo Mortensen were among those I saw. It was amazing!
This documentary is bound to be among the most important of our time.
And it is well past time for Americans to know our true history.

Peace ~ Molly

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The People Speak

. . . the documentary based on the live performances of
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's
Voices of a People's History of the United States

This year, a documentary based on Howard Zinn’s groundbreaking books A People’s History of the United States and Voices of a People’s History of the United States, featuring music by Eddie Vedder and performances by Viggo Mortensen, Sandra Oh, Sean Penn, Rosario Dawson, Don Cheadle, John Legend, and many other great performers, will air in TV and be released on a special DVD. The documentary, The People Speak, shows the rich history of dissent in our history, and explores why it is so relevant and urgent today.

To view the trailer, click on the following link:

The People Speak is working with Voices of a People’s History of the United States, a nonprofit started by Howard Zinn that seeks to bring to light little known voices from U.S. history, including those of women, African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, and laborers. By giving public expression to rebels, dissenters, and visionaries from our past — and present — we work to educate and inspire a new generation of people working for social justice.

The goal of Voices is to encourage civic engagement and to further history education by bringing the rich history of the United States to life through public readings of primary-source materials. Voices works to remind people of the eloquence of ordinary people, as well as extraordinary and well-known figures from our history.

To find out more about The People Speak and Voices, to order the DVD and books by Howard Zinn, to obtain a free curriculum for teachers using the books Voices of a People’s History of the United States and A People’s History of the United States, and the film The People Speak, to arrange a performance or workshop in your school or community, or to make a tax-deductible donation, please contact:

Voices of a People’s History of the United States
E-mail: peopleshistory[at]mac.com

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Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. ~ Howard Zinn

Standing Up For Justice In the Age of Obama

Speech: Howard Zinn
March 13, 2009

Howard Zinn is a veteran of more than half a century of struggles for peace, justice and democracy. He's the renowned author of numerous books such as A People's History of the United States and You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, as well as the play Marx in Soho, about Karl Marx.

In early February--a few weeks after Barack Obama was inaugurated as president--Howard spoke at the independent bookstore and gathering place Busboys and Poets. Here, with his permission, we publish his thoughts on the future of the struggle in the Obama era.

IT'S IMPOSSIBLE now to come to Washington, D.C., without being cognizant of how different the atmosphere is today--an amazing difference. When Obama's victory was announced, the overwhelming feeling was a sense of relief: Wow, they're gone. The only thing that remains is to put them in jail.

We're making this documentary based on Voices of a People's History of the United States, which Anthony Arnove and I put together, and we have these actors who are reading historical documents--a wonderful array of stars with social consciences, who are happy to do this, because they believe in it and are so glad not to be doing the usual Hollywood stuff.

We've had a number of these events around the country, and of course, the point is that it's the people who are important. Not the people up there; it's the people down here. The point is resistance not acceptance, and disobedience not obedience.

One of our readers is Viggo Mortensen. We were in the green room, and Viggo Mortensen says, "I'll be back in a minute." And when he comes back, he's taken a magic marker and written three words in big letters on the t-shirt that he's going to wear onstage to read. The three words are "IMPEACH, REMOVE, JAIL." We're not at that point yet, but who knows?

And who could not feel some sense of wonderment that this has happened? How moving it was, watching on television and seeing the faces of people in the crowd when Obama's victory was announced. To see Jesse Jackson weeping, to see the face of John Lewis, to see the faces of people who have been involved in the struggle for a long time.

For me, there was an especially poignant moment when they showed students at Spelman College. That's where I taught for seven years during the era of the civil rights movement. They showed those students at Spelman College, and the looks on their faces and their shouts of joy were overwhelming.

I felt all of that, and I have to say all of that before I discuss Obama soberly. Coming off that high and that amazing intoxication, you get to a point where you say it's a wonderful thing that happened, but now let's see what needs to be done.

And so I'm going to talk about Obama and his administration--what's going on, and what there is for us to do.

Because we are citizens, and Obama is a president. Obama is a politician. You might not like that word. But the fact is he's a politician. He's other things, too--he's a very sensitive and intelligent and articulate and thoughtful and promising person. But he's a politician. We have to remember that. Lincoln was a politician, and Roosevelt was a politician.

If you're a citizen, you have to know the difference between them and you--the difference between what they have to do and what you have to do.... MORE: http://socialistworker.org/2009/03/13/standing-for-justice

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Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people,can transform the world.

~ Howard Zinn

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Crisis That is as Big as the Economic Crisis and Global Warming

Passionate Greetings

One month ago on February 26th I had the blessing and honor of hearing Robert McChesney speak at the University of Portland. This was my first time to see this great journalist, author, professor, and American hero in person. I took three pages of notes. It was an incredible experience, and I have been wanting to make the time to do a post on this incredible man and his wisdom and work ever since.

Robert McChesney argues that the media, far from providing a bedrock for freedom and democracy, have become a significant antidemocratic force in the United States and, to varying degrees, worldwide... Rich Media, Poor Democracy (McChesney's newest book) addresses the corporate media explosion and the corresponding implosion of public life that characterizes our times. Challenging the assumption that a society drenched in commercial information "choices" is ipso facto a democratic one, McChesney argues that the major beneficiaries of the so-called Information Age are wealthy investors, advertisers, and a handful of enormous media, computer, and telecommunications corporations. This concentrated corporate control, McChesney maintains, is disastrous for any notion of participatory democracy. - http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/22qxm7kq9780252024481.html

The one thing that I want to emphasize from Robert McChesney's lecture is that "the crisis in journalism is every bit as important as the economic crisis and the crisis we face with global warming."
More from my notes:
- The entirety of journalism is at risk.
- TV news is a joke, mostly punditry, very little journalism
- Large parts of the country have no working journalists at all
- There were 1/2 the journalists in 1995 as there were in 1987
- Corporate take over slashed journalism resources
- 1990 = when sharp decline in journalism began
- News sources end up needing to rely on those in power for their information
- Corrupt politicians are the ones who gain
- Genuine democracy is absolutely dependent upon journalism
- The job of journalism is to get at problems before they explode
- This is a very rare time that we are living in today, one that comes along at best once in a century
- The way forward - our very future - is absolutely dependent upon an informed citizenry
- The job of journalism is to afflict the comfortable (those with power through investigation, exposing, highlighting truth/facts) and comfort the afflicted
- Effective journalism must have equal skepticism of all in power
- Instead we have the corporatization of reporting and all the resulting glitz and glamour of CNN and the likes, but a real lacking in true journalism
- Thus the Iraq War happened with no informed public consent
- The economy is plunged into a depression with no reporting over the preceding years and decades at to what has led us to this point
- We are uninformed about the truth of poor people and poverty; often instead those who are most victimized are scapegoated in this system which favors the wealthy
- We are uninformed about corporate welfare
- Without a viable press, we cannot have self-government; free press is a condition of a free society
- Media needs to have a range of viewpoints; no censorship; limit commercial control
- This will require public money and government involvement to make it work
- Government is American, beginning with the Founders, with the intention of government being of, by, and for the people - not the corporations
- Education, military, infrastructure, etc., etc. all happen through government support

Robert McChesney states that "radio today is a cess pool of puss." There has been a shift from working class media to an elite media funded by corporate powers whose interests are far from those of the average American or of our nation or planet. The consequence is that even when crimes are exposed of those in high places, there are no consequences. Robert McChesney clearly demonstrated that the plethora of crimes and crises which our nation finds itself immersed in today is a result of no healthy journalism. Yes, there is Amy Goodman, Bill Moyers, Howard Zinn, and others who - if you search - you can hear in-depth reporting. But this is the exception and no where close to the rule in America.

Robert McChesney states that we immediately need:
- A journalism stimulus package, to include $60 billion, spending $20 billion per year over a 3 year period
- Through this process, among other things, young people will be encouraged and supported in being involved and in being educated in journalism; there will be tax breaks for subscribing to newspapers; and public and community media will be ramped up in our country

Right now:
- Canada spends 16 times more than the U.S. on public media
- Germany spends 20 times more than the U.S. on public media
- Japan spends 43 times more than the U.S. on public media
- Britian spends 60 times more than the U.S. on public media
- Scandanavia spends 75 times more than the U.S. on public media

We need a sustainable plan! A plan in which public money is used to radically change the system. This crisis in journalism is every bit as important as climate change and pandemics. Robert McChesney ended by stressing that extraordinary times provide us with extraordinary opportunities. Let us each do our part, no matter how small, to seize the moment at hand.

Blessed be... Molly

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For those who do not know of him, Robert W. McChesney is an American professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication. His work concentrates on the history and political economy of communication, emphasizing the role media play in democratic and capitalist societies. He is the President and co-founder of Free Press, a national media reform organization. McChesney also hosts the “Media Matters”. McChesney has written or edited sixteen books. He has also written some 150 journal articles and book chapters and another 200 newspaper pieces, magazine articles and book reviews. His work has been translated into fourteen languages. Since launching his academic career in the late 1980s, McChesney has made some 500 conference presentations and visiting guest lectures as well as more than 600 radio and television appearances. He has been the subject of more than 70 published profiles and interviews. In 2001 Adbusters Magazine named him one of the “Nine Pioneers of Mental Environmentalism.”

For an interview that Amy Goodman did with Robert McChesney on 3/27/09, please go here:
Here is a summary of his work on Third World Traveler:
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/McChesney/Robert_McChesney_page.html. (For more information on a host of historical to present day amazing people, please go to Third World Traveler's main page: http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/.)

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As the mainstream media has become increasingly dependent on advertising revenues for support, it has become an anti-democratic force in society. ~ Robert McChesney

The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology. ~ Michael Parenti

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Neo-Con Ideologues Launch New Foreign Policy Group

By Daniel Luban and Jim Lobe
Published on Thursday, March 26, 2009 by Inter Press Service

WASHINGTON, Mar 25 (IPS) - A newly-formed and still obscure neo-conservative foreign policy organisation is giving some observers flashbacks to the 1990s, when its predecessor staked out the aggressively unilateralist foreign policy that came to fruition under the George W. Bush administration.

The blandly-named Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) - the brainchild of Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, neo-conservative foreign policy guru Robert Kagan, and former Bush administration official Dan Senor - has thus far kept a low profile; its only activity to this point has been to sponsor a conference pushing for a U.S. "surge" in Afghanistan.

But some see FPI as a likely successor to Kristol’s and Kagan’s previous organisation, the now-defunct Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which they launched in 1997 and which became best known for leading the public campaign to oust former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein both before and after the Sep. 11 attacks.

PNAC’s charter members included many figures who later held top positions under Bush, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, and his top deputy, Paul Wolfowitz.

.... "This reminds me of the Project for the New American Century," said Steven Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation. "Like PNAC, it will become a watering hole for those who want to see an ever-larger U.S. military machine and who divide the world between those who side with right and might and those who are evil or who would appease evil."


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Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. ~ Barry Goldwater

Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other. ~ Carl Jung

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What Battered Newsrooms Can Learn From Stewart's CNBC Takedown

Warmest greetings. John Stewart is so brilliant. I love this man. He is so courageous and amazing in the way he uses satire to perform such a profound service and gift for our country and for us all. If you missed this one, please be sure to check this video out as written about and viewed on Huffington Post: Jon Stewart Eviscerates CNBC, Santelli On Daily Show (VIDEO). Peace ~ Molly

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What battered newsrooms can learn from Stewart's CNBC takedown
Will Bunch
Author, "Tear Down This Myth"

The most talked-about journalism of this week wasn't produced in the New York Times, CNN, Newsweek or NPR. It was Jon Stewart's epic, eight-minute takedown on Wednesday night's Daily Show of CNBC's clueless, in-the-tank reporting of inflatable bubbles and blowhard CEOs as the U.S. and world economies slowly slid into a meltdown. You can quibble about Stewart's motives in undertaking the piece -- after he was spurned for an interview by CNBC's faux populist ranter Rick Santelli -- but you can't argue with the results.

The piece wasn't just the laugh-out-loud funniest thing on TV all week (and this was a week in which NBC rebroadcast the SNL "more cowbell" sketch, so that's saying a lot) but it was exquisitely reported, insightful, and it tapped into America's real anger about the financial crisis in a way that mainstream journalism has found so elusive all these months, in a time when we all need to be tearing down myths. As one commenter on the Romenesko blog noted, "it's simply pathetic that one has to watch a comedy show to see things like this."

But that's not all. The Stewart piece also got the kind of eyeballs that most newsrooms would kill for in this digital age -- planted atop many, many major political, media and business Web sites -- and the kind of water-cooler chatter that journalists would crave in any age. In a time when newspapers are flat-out dying if not dealing with bankruptcy or massive job losses, while other types of news orgs aren't faring much better, the journalistic success of a comedy show rant shouldn't be viewed as a stick in the eye -- but a teachable moment. Why be a curmudgeon about kids today getting all their news from a comedy show, when it's not really that hard to join Stewart in his own idol-smashing game?

Here's how:

More... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/will-bunch/what-battered-newsrooms-c_b_172397.html

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All too many of those who live in affluent America ignore those who exist in poor America; in doing so, the affluent Americans will eventually have to face themselves with the question that (Adolph) Eichman chose to ignore: How responsible am I for the well-being of my fellows? ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

A People’s History of Poverty in America

A New Press People's History
Howard Zinn, Series Editor

A sweeping, revelatory history of poverty in America
from the seventeenth century to today, told through the eyes
and experiences of the poor themselves

When you live in a shelter, other people control your life. They tell you when you may come in and when you must go out. They tell you when you can take your shower and when you can wash your clothing.

In this compulsively readable social history, a brilliant new addition to The New Press’s acclaimed People’s History series, political scientist Stephen Pimpare vividly describes poverty from the perspective of poor and welfare-reliant Americans from the big city to the rural countryside. He focuses on how the poor have created community, secured shelter, and found food and illuminates their battles for dignity and respect.

Through prodigious archival research and lucid analysis, Pimpare details the ways in which charity and aid for the poor have been inseparable, more often than not, from the scorn and disapproval of those who would help them. In the rich and often surprising historical testimonies he has collected from the poor in America, Pimpare overturns any simple conclusions about how the poor see themselves or what it feels like to be poor—and he shows clearly that the poor are all too often aware that charity comes with a price. It is that price that Pimpare eloquently questions in this book, reminding us through powerful anecdotes, some heart-wrenching and some surprisingly humorous, that poverty is not simply a moral failure.

Stephen Pimpare is the author of The New Victorians: Poverty, Politics, and Propaganda in Two Gilded Ages (The New Press). He teaches American politics and social welfare policy at Yeshiva College and the Wurzweiler School of Social Work.

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Video Interview by Laura Flanders with Stephen Pimpare,

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Poverty is the worst form of violence.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defence than on programmes of social uplift is approaching spiritual death...
The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. The time has come for us to civilise ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Amazing Guitar Player

Tony Melendez plays "Let It Be" on South Padre Island


Blessed be...

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Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties. ~ Erich Fromm

Rumi says:

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Nieman Watchdog: Questions the Press Should Ask

I just learned of this great and informative website: Nieman Watchdog. Some example commentaries and topics are:

What next, after outrage?
Top U.S. executives at the largest companies typically earn about 400 times as much as their average workers—and despite the economic meltdown, many of them still feel entitled. That’s outrageous, Martin Lobel writes, but few have questioned it until now, and it’s the press’s job to report how we got here and what needs to be done to prevent further meltdowns.

The overseas press Truth commission? Prosecution? Neither one?
The international press is divided on the question of a truth commission or other probes of the Bush administration. Some say serious political divisions would result, others favor prosecution. And in Calgary, there's a suggestion that Canada bar Bush from entering the country.

From Congress Daily Lobbyist William Lynn, at the Defense Department
COMMENTARY March 10, 2009
So much for Obama’s vow to break up the old boy network and not bring lobbyists into his administration.

6 trends emerge The State of the News Media: Bleak
The sixth annual report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism sees 2008 as the bleakest year yet. “It’s not an audience problem or a credibility problem…it’s a revenue problem,” the report says.

More: http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/

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Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up, at least a little bit. ~ Edward R. Murrow

The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off. ~ Gloria Steinem

I was brought up to believe that the only thing worth doing was to add to the sum of accurate information in the world. ~ Margaret Mead

Jobs With Justice

Jobs with Justice UNITY PRINCIPLES

The current crisis within the labor movement creates the necessity to reaffirm some of the core principles of Jobs with Justice. For over 18 years, Jobs with Justice has been building local community, labor, religious and student coalitions that are building power for workers and communities. Through innovative projects like Jobs with Justice Workers’ Rights Boards and our Student Labor Action Project, we continue to engage community leaders and activists in the long-term struggle for workers rights and economic justice. In the last four years Jobs with Justice Local Coalitions have worked on more than 700 workplace justice campaigns (organizing, first contract and bargaining) involving over one million workers. We have also worked on more than 600 community/social/global justice campaigns. Jobs with Justice continues to be a movement that works for working families and our communities.

The enemies of working families and our communities have tremendous power in our society, and our shared goal is to shift the terms of struggle more towards workers’ rights, social and economic justice.We will continue to commit ourselves to building power for workers and communities. We will continue to work with any and all organizations that support these principles.

We welcome as members of our coalitions groups which are themselves membership organizations, which agree to support the mission of JwJ, and which will contribute to building JwJ by signing members as pledgers, publicizing JwJ activity, and contributing resources to building Jobs with Justice.

Our local coalitions make decisions about which campaigns to support based on criteria which typically include worker involvement, a strategy to win, opportunity to build JwJ for the long haul, opportunities for leadership development, a role for creative militant direct action, etc. Jobs with Justice stands against oppression in all its forms.

The following principles are informed by the years of work building a movement for workers’ rights and economic justice.

We Believe In:

Coalition building - Building locally accountable, autonomous and nationally networked local coalitions of labor community, student and religious organizations that combine their power is key to winning concrete improvements for workers and their communities.

Reciprocity – Labor and community groups need each other to win and build power. Relationships between and amongst these organizations must be built on principles of reciprocity, mutual respect and solidarity.

Action – Member organizations putting their members into action to support one another’s struggles is a key to building power. We organize rank and file members of our partner organizations to sign pledge cards committing to come out five times a year to support worker and community campaigns. We believe that workers and communities united and in motion are the driving force for social and economic justice.

Relationships – Building long-term relationships between organizations and individuals is a key to building power.

Workers’ Rights and Economic Justice - We are committed to a vision of a United States and a world where workers have collective bargaining rights, employment security, a decent standard of living, and freedom from discrimination of all kinds.

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We do not have a money problem in America. We have a values and priorities problem. ~ Marian Wright Edelman

A Call to Conscious Evolution - Please sign pledge

The Obama Administration has asked the "Evolutionary Leaders" to communicate about what is transpiring on the planet, and how we can change the course of the unprecedented events that are challenging this planet. This is a window of opportunity for this information to be conveyed to the Obama Administration.

The Evolutionary Leaders like Deepak Chopra, Gregg Braden, Michael Beckwith and many, many others, gathered together to write up the information to present to the Obama Administration. They are also asking us to sign a petition to show the Administration how many people are in favor for these changes to occur. They need 10,000 signatures. We need your help to reach that number and beyond! Below is the information presented to the New Administration..

The petition link can be found here: http://www..thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/248704259

By the Evolutionary Leaders

Climate change, economic disparity, educational inequities, geopolitical tensions -- these mounting concerns are symptoms of a world that is out of balance. Together we can shift consciousness by co-creating a new way of being together.

The Call to Conscious Evolution was born following a gathering of global visionaries. It's a movement that fully supports that the future is not what happens to us, but rather what WE create.

Together, we can co-create a new narrative of conscious evolution by:

*Building a global community and creating a culture of peace.
* Restoring ecological balance to nourish all life, and mitigate the effects of climate change.
* Engaging in social and political transformation by calling for a more conscious democracy.
* Promoting health and healing by acknowledging the profound mind-body-spirit connection.
* Supporting research and education that optimize human capacities.
* Encouraging integrity in business and conscious media.

In this great time of uncertainty, join us in elevating consciousness to create a better world. One governed by meaning and purpose. Accept nothing less.

Every voice counts -- your voice counts.

The human family is in the midst of the most significant transformation of consciousness since its emergence in Africa over one hundred thousand years ago. Consciousness has been evolving for billions of years from the first cell to us. We are becoming aware that through our own consciousness the universe can know itself. This awareness reveals incredible new potential for our individual and collective humanity.

Simultaneously, we are the first species on this Earth aware that we can destroy ourselves by our own action. This may be the greatest wake-up call to the evolution of consciousness since the origin of Homo sapiens.

We now realize that we are affecting our own evolution by everything we do. This knowledge awakens in us the aspiration to become more conscious through subjective practices including meditation, reflection, prayer, intuition, creativity, and conscious choice making that accelerate our evolution in the direction of unity consciousness and inspire us to deeply align our collective vision.

At this juncture in human history, urgent global crises challenge us to learn to live sustainably, in harmony and gratitude with one another and with the living universe. The changes required of humanity are broad, deep, and far reaching. Only by acting swiftly and creatively can we birth a planetary culture that will bring well-being to every form of life in the Earth community.
The good news is that a compelling new story of our potential as a whole human species is emerging–a story of collaboration, citizen action, dialogue and new understandings propelled by unprecedented levels of democratic freedom, multicultural exchange, and access to communication technologies. It is nothing less than the story of our collective evolution.

More: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/a-call-for-conscious-evolution.html and

Join in the Call to Conscious Evolution by signing the pledge now.

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Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Major Difference Between Conservatives and Progressives

Tuesday March 24, 2009

One of the linchpins of the Bush presidency, especially during the first term (and well into the second, until he became a major political liability), was the lock-step uncritical reverence – often bordering on cult-like glorification – which the “conservative” movement devoted to the "Commander-in-Chief." An entire creepy cottage industry arose – led not by fringe elements but by right-wing opinion-making leaders – with cringe-inducing products paying homage to Bush as "The First Great Leader of the 21st Century" (John Podhoretz); our "Rebel-in-Chief" (Fred Barnes); "The Right Man" (David Frum); the New Reagan (Jonah Goldberg); "a man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius" who is our "Big Brother" (John Hinderaker); and "the triumph of the seemingly average American man," the supremely "responsible" leader who, when there's a fire, will "help direct the rig to the right house and count the kids coming out and say, 'Where's Sally'?" (Peggy Noonan).

Even as Bush implemented one massive expansion of government power after the next -- the very "un-conservative" policies they long claimed to oppose -- there was nothing but (at best) the most token and muted objections from them. The handful of conservatives who did object were cast aside as traitors to the cause, and criticisms of the President became equated with an overt lack of patriotism. Uncritical support for the Leader was the overarching, defining attribute of conservatism, so much so that even Bill Kristol, in The New York Times, acknowledged: "Bush was the movement and the cause."

Whenever I would speak at events over the last couple of years and criticize the Bush administration’s expansions of government power, extreme secrecy and other forms of corruption, one of the most frequent questions I would be asked was whether "the Left" -- meaning liberals and progressives -- would continue to embrace these principles with a Democrat in the White House, or whether they would instead replicate the behavior of the Right and uncritically support whatever the Democratic President decided. Though I could only speculate, I always answered -- because I believed -- that the events of the last eight years had so powerfully demonstrated and ingrained the dangers of uncritical support for political leaders that most liberals would be critical of and oppositional to a Democratic President when that President undertook actions in tension with progressive views.

Two months into Obama’s presidency, one can clearly conclude that this is true. Even though Obama unsurprisingly and understandably remains generally popular with Democrats and liberals alike, there is ample progressive criticism of Obama in a way that is quite healthy and that reflects a meaningful difference between the “conservative movement” and many progressives.

Over the last month, the Obama administration has made numerous decisions in the civil liberties area that are replicas of some of the most controversial and radical actions taken by the Bush administration, and the most vocal critics of those decisions by far were the very same people – ostensibly on "the Left" -- who spent the last several years objecting to the same policies as part of the Bush administration’s radicalism. Identically, many of Obama's most consequential foreign policy decisions -- in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan -- have been criticized by many on the Left. Opposition to Obama’s bank bailout plan is clearly being driven by liberal economists, pundits and bloggers, and much of the criticism over the AIG debacle came from liberals as well. There was pervasive liberal criticism over some of Obama's key appointments, including Tom Daschle, John Brennan and Tim Geithner. That's more independent progressive thinking in two months than the "conservative movement" exhibited with regard to Bush in six years.

It’s certainly true that one has no difficulty finding cult-like liberal veneration for Obama –
those who invoke Bible-like "he’s-a-master-of-11-dimensional-chess" clich├ęs to justify whatever he does (the Lord works in mysterious ways but even when we don't understand what He does, we Trust that He is Supremely Good and more Wise than us and knows best); who declare, in Bush-like "with-me-or-against-me" fashion, all critics of Obama to be the Enemy; who pay homage to Kim Jong Il-like imagery such as this and this; who believe that "trust" -- a sentiment appropriate for family and friends but not political leaders -- should be vested in Obama and thus negate any concerns over how he exercises power. Some overly-eager journalists and bloggers are devoted to carrying forth the administration's message (usually delivered anonymously) in exchange for favorable treatment and/our due to a painfully excessive sense of devotion, and there's a Democratic establishment with a built-in machinery to defend Obama no matter what he does.

But outside of those anonymity-granting blogger/journalists and Democratic apparatchiks, these drooling, worshipful, subservient sentiments are largely confined to the fringes. With some exceptions, to find this right-wing-replicating blind loyalty to the Leader, one has to search blog comment sections and obscure diarists. Many -- arguably most -- of the most vocal liberal Bush critics have kept their critical faculties engaged and have been unwilling to sacrifice their political values and principles at the altar of partisan loyalty.
More: Salon.com
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Critical analysis is how a political culture and even a political movement remains vibrant and worthwhile, and is the only way political leaders and a political class will remain responsive and accountable. Blind reverence and uncritical loyalty -- the need to see a political leader as one who embodies infallible truth and transformative justice and can deliver some form of personal or emotional elevation -- breeds ossification, intellectual death, and authoritarian corruption. ~ Robert Greenwald

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saving Jesus from the Church

Heartfelt Greetings

I just heard the author of this book interviewed today and was deeply moved. The book is Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus by . Here is a book description:

Countless thoughtful people are now so disgusted with the marriage of bad theology and hypocritical behavior by the church that a new Reformation is required in which the purpose of religion itself is reimagined.

Meyers takes the best of biblical scholarship and recasts these core Christian concepts to exhort the church to pursue an alternative vision of the Christian life:

- Jesus as Teacher, not Savior
- Christianity as Compassion, not Condemnation
- Prosperity as Dangerous, not Divine
- Discipleship as Obedience, not Control
- Religion as Relationship, not Righteousness

This is not a call to the church to move to the far left or to try something brand new. Rather, it is the recovery of something very old. Saving Jesus from the Church shows us what it means to be a Christian and how to follow Jesus' teachings today.

This book has won praise from people such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Bill Moyers and, although I am not Christian, I am deeply drawn to the heart of the teachings of Jesus.

Here is an impressive biography of the author:

Dr. Robin Meyers is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC), a tenured professor in the philosophy department at Oklahoma City University, an author, a syndicated columnist, and an award-winning commentator for National Public Radio. He has been the Senior Minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC church of Oklahoma City, the fastest-growing UCC church in the Kansas-Oklahoma conference, since 1985.

Dr. Meyers was born in Oklahoma City, and grew up in Wichita, Kansas. After graduating from Wichita State University (1975), he received his MDiv from the Graduate Seminary of Phillips University (1979) and his Doctor of Ministry degree from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey (1981). In 1991 he was awarded a PhD by the University of Oklahoma’s Communication Department, for his work in the area of persuasion and preaching.

Dr. Meyers is the author of five books. His first, With Ears to Hear: Preaching as Self-Persuasion (Pilgrim Press, 1993), is a textbook for preachers, and his second is a book on living a simpler and more sacramental existence, entitled Morning Sun on a White Piano: Simple Pleasures and the Sacramental Life (Doubleday, New York, 1998), which was endorsed by Bill Moyers. A third book, The Virtue in the Vice: Finding Seven Lively Virtues in the Seven Deadly Sins came out in August 2004 from H.C.I., endorsed by Desmond Tutu. A fourth book, Why the Christian Right Is Wrong: A Minister’s Manifesto for Taking Back Your Faith, Your Flag, and Your Future (Jossey/Bass, San Francisco, 2006), expanded upon an antiwar speech he delivered at the University of Oklahoma that became an internet phenomenon, endorsed by Bill Moyers, Desmond Tutu, John Shelby Spong, and the late William Sloane Coffin Jr.

His fifth book, due out February 24, 2009, from Harper Collins, is entitled Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshipping Christ and Start Following Jesus (Harper One, 2009), endorsed by Desmond Tutu, Bill Moyers, Bishop John Shelby Spong, Dr. Fred B. Craddock, and Diana Butler Bass.

Dr. Meyers is a member of the Jesus Seminar, and a frequent preacher and speaker at church conferences and communication workshops across the country. He was twice a finalist for the pulpit of The Riverside Church, the Earl Preacher at the Earl Lectures in Berkeley in 2000, winner of the Angie Debo Civil Libertarian of the Year Award from the ACLU, and was featured in an HBO documentary, The Execution of Wanda Jean, the story of the first woman executed in Oklahoma and of Dr. Meyers’s efforts to save her life. His Sunday morning sermon broadcast (KOKC AM 1520, 9:30 a.m.) reaches the largest listening audience of any religious broadcast in Oklahoma. He is married to Shawn Meyers, an Oklahoma City artist, and they are the parents of three children, Blue, 31, Chelsea, 28, and Cass, 15.


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The problem for and the function of religion in this age is to awaken the heart.
~ Joseph Campbell

Referring to the darker side of institutionalized religion, Naomi Tutu,
Archbishop Desmond Tutu's daughter, quoting someone else:
"The Christian church, as an institution, is the Devil's response to the
Life of Jesus."

The Most Dangerous Country in the World

This is a message from Robert Greenwald and the Brave New Foundation:

"Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world today." - Bruce Riedel, a foreign policy expert leading President Obama's Afghanistan review

Recent protests in Pakistan reveal the country's potential explosiveness. Pakistan has nuclear weapons and a government disconnected from the crippling poverty, rampant malnutrition, and lack of healthcare afflicting its people. Though Pakistan remains an ally of the United States, tensions continue to rise as the U.S. considers broadening military strikes within Pakistan's borders. Part two of our Rethink Afghanistan documentary focuses on how the Afghanistan crisis affects Pakistan and all of us.

How exactly could the war in Afghanistan trigger regional chaos with Pakistan? Leading authorities like Steve Coll, Ahmed Rashid, Cathy Collins, Tariq Ali, Rory Stewart, Stephen Kinzer, and Andrew Bacevich weigh in on this perilous issue. Watch the trailer for part two of this documentary; the full-length version is available here.

The war in Afghanistan and its potentially catastrophic impact on Pakistan are complex and dangerous issues, which further make the case why our country needs a national debate on this now starting with congressional oversight hearings. Sign the petition to help make hearings a critical first step and then send the trailer to all of your friends and family (and be sure to Digg it). Imagine someone like Andrew Bacevich having the ear of Congress as he explains the perils of war. Now imagine a national dialogue filled with rational, thoughtful discussions on the issues surrounding Afghanistan. That is our goal.

Soon, I plan to travel to Afghanistan to interview some of the country's elected leaders, experts, bloggers, people, and organizations who could help us provide a more complete Afghan perspective, and I would love to have your thoughts and questions to take with me. Please submit them on the Rethink Afghanistan website, and then sign up to follow my updates from this journey.


Robert Greenwald
and the Brave New Foundation team

P.S. Help us continue this vital work and partake in the filmmaking process by making a contribution of $20 or more. We will list you as a Producer on Rethink Afghanistan. And if you know someone interested in the issues surrounding this war, let them know they can join over 1,000 Producers helping to make this film possible.