Bulletin N°433



26 January 2010
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

Social activities in the last months of the German Weimar Republic have attracted much attention recently. On the eve of the collapse of the Republic, the desperate Nazi strategy to regain Germany's imperial status and rejoin the club of Empires --Great Britain, France, the USA-- represented a glimmer of hope for many Germans. Nevertheless, it was ill conceived and met with disaster. Today, the new role of NATO seems to be following in this path, although of course, as we all know: History never repeats itself.

On the home front of such folly, ordinary people like students in the Weimar Republic were frantically looking for future employment. University campuses before the collapse of the Republic were scenes of turmoil. Fascist ideology was taking root in the bureaucracies and on the campuses, where scapegoating democratic staff and students became a favorite sport, while student bodies were flocking like lemmings across university campuses --from one academic department to another-- looking for any discipline that might show the slightest promise of a future job --from Departments of Education, to classes in Law Schools, to Medical Schools, to Engineering, etc., etc..  This desperate chase for job security lasted only a few semesters, before military mobilization solved the problem. The rest is history (as they say)  . . . .

Fascist culture, it has long been noted, carries a pathology that sometimes is present in bourgeois democratic culture. It is only a matter of degree. If we look at the classic fascist societies of the 1930s --in Japan, Italy and Germany-- we can see what social historians have described as "reactionary traditions" in an attempt to explain how specific, everyday social practices affect human aesthetics and moral judgements. Ethical behavior in a stratified, hierarchical society is maintained by a rigid code that for the most part has been internalized by the members of the pack. The essential training period must include the extinction of all hope in alternatives by instilling a conditioned-reflex response to authoritarian rule, one which precludes all acts of transcendence beyond the limits of Fascist control. Barrington Moore, Jr. (1913-2005) observes the pre-fascist formations of this conditioning in his classic work, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, Lord and Peasant in the making of the Modern World (7th edition,1972) when he writes :

In the short run, a strong conservative government has distinct advantages. It can both encourage and control economic growth. It can see to it that the lower classes who pay the costs under all forms of modernization do not make too much trouble. But Germany and, even more, Japan were trying to solve a problem that was inherently insoluble, to modernize without changing their social structures. The only way out of this dilemma was militarization, which united the upper classes. Militarism intensified a climate of international conflict, which in turn made industrial advance all the more imperative, even if in Germany a Bismarck could for a time hold the situation in check, partly because militarism had not yet become a mass phenomenon. To carry out thoroughgoing structural reforms, i.e. to make a transition to a paying commercial agriculture without the repression of those who worked the soil and to do the same in industry, in a word to use modern technology rationally for human welfare was beyond the political vision of these governments. Ultimately these systems crashed in an attempt at foreign expansion, but not until they had tried to make reaction popular in the form of fascism.
Before discussing this final phase, it may be instructive to glance at unsuccessful reactionary trends in other countries. As mentioned above, this reactionary syndrome can be found at some point in all the cases I have examined. To see why it has failed in other countries may sharpen awareness of the reasons behind its successes. A brief look at these trends in such widely differing countries as England, Russia, and India may serve to bring out important underlying similarities concealed beneath a variety of historical experiences.(pp.441-442)

Militarism and political indoctrination are efficient means for achieving ends, no matter how short-lived. The reactionary ideological take-over of institutions, such as schools, judicial systems, and medical services is a practice found from time to time not only in authoritarian states, but also in the bourgeois democracies. As Professor Moore observes in a footnote to his chapter on "Revolution from Above and Fascism,"

On this score, Germany and Japan are not of course unique. Since the Second World War, Western democracy has begun to display  more and more of the same traits for broadly similar reasons that, however, no longer have much to do with agrarian questions. Somewhere Marx remarks that the bourgeoisie in its declining phase reproduces all the evils and irrationalities against which it once fought. So indeed did socialism in the effort to establish itself, thus allowing twentieth-century democracy to fly its muddy and blood-spattered banner of freedom with something short of outright cynical hypocrisy.(Footnote #8, p.442)

The project at CEIMSA has always included the practice of relating the particular to the general, in a way which allows us to discover the influences that context asserts on a specific historical event. The current world crisis offers us ample opportunities to develop new methods suited to uncover truths about ourselves and about those who would rule us in this theater of comtemporary politics.

The 8 items below offer CEIMSA readers a look at social formations now underway. We may make up our own minds on which goals will be merely transitory and which are likely to leave an enduing legacy for our progeny.

Item A. is a 2006 article illustrating the character of the Senator Obama by Alexander Cockburn, first published in Counter Punch.

Item B., sent to us by Stanley Aronowitz, is his evaluation of Obama at the end of year one.

Item C. is a short article on Right-Wing Populism, by Chip Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates (publiceye.org) and a vice-president of Defending Dissent.

Item D. is an article by Robert Reich on the official and the unofficial existence of unemployment in the United States today.

Item E., from GRITtv, are reports on democratic movements in Iran and in Gaza.

Item F., sent to us by Professor Ronald Creagh, are two articles commenting on the "unnatural" catastrophe in Haiti: "Haïti : les vautours se ruent sur la proie..." and "Comment ils ont ruiné Haïti," originally in English, with the title "The Incapacitation of Haiti," by  Ashley Smith.

Item G., from Reader Supported News, introduces a new radical source of information from U.S. intellectuals providing information and analysis seldom available to the general public.

Item H., sent to us by community organizer Monty Kroopkin, is a Petition + an Open Letter to the UC Regents and the People of California demanding "the reversal of fee hikes and faculty cuts in the California public education system," first published at City College of San Francisco by Eric Blanc.

And finally, we conclude this CEIMSA bulletin with an interview with BILL QUIGLEY on :

US Policy in Haiti Over Decades “Lays the Foundation for Why Impact of Natural Disaster Is So Severe”


Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3

from Counter Punch :
Date: 24 April 2006
Subject: Behaviour Patterns & the Senator Obama.

Obama's Game
by Alexander Cockburn

I was harsh about Senator Barack Obama of Illinois here a couple of weeks ago, and the very next morning his press aide, Tommy Vietor, was on the phone howling about inaccuracies. It was an illuminating conversation, indicative of the sort of instinctive reflexes at work in the office of a man already breathlessly touted as a possible vice presidential candidate in 2008 and maybe a presidential candidate somewhere down the road from there.

Obama's man took grave exception to my use of the word "distanced" to describe what his boss had done when Illinois' senior U.S. senator, Dick Durbin, got into trouble for likening conditions at Guantanamo to those in a Nazi or Stalin-era camp. This was one of Durbin's finer moments, as he read an FBI man's eyewitness describing how he had entered interview rooms "to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more."

"If I read this to you", Durbin told his fellow senators, "and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime ­ Pol Pot or others ­ that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners. It is not too late. I hope we will learn from history. I hope we will change course."

So Durbin paid the penalty of having to eat crow on the Senate floor. His fellow senator, Obama, did not support him in any way. Obama said, "we have a tendency to demonize and jump on and make mockery of each other across the aisle and that is particularly pronounced when we make mistakes. Each and every one of us is going to make a mistake once in a while... and what we hope is that our track record of service, the scope of how we've operated and interacted with people, will override whatever particular mistake we make."

That's three uses of the word "mistake". This isn't distancing?

Nor did Obama's man like my description of Obama's cheerleading for the nuke Iran crowd. Obama recently declared that when it comes to the U.S. posture on Iran, all options, including military ones, should be on the table. Now, if Obama had any sort of guts in such matters he would have said that if Iraq is to teach America's leaders any lesson, it is that reckless recourse to the military "option" carries a dreadful long-term price tag.

He did nothing of the sort, which is not surprising to anyone who read his speech to the Council of Foreign Relations last November. Remember the context. Rep. Jack Murtha had just given a savage jolt to the White House. This be-medalled former chairman of the House Armed Services committee had publicly delivered the actual opinion of the generals: "I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis The United States will immediately redeploy ­ immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free, free from a United States occupation. And I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process."

And who knows, if Murtha's counsel had been followed, maybe it would have saved Iraq from the horrors now unraveling. But Democrats fled Murtha, few with more transparent calculation than Obama who voyaged to the Council on Foreign Relations on November 22, there to ladle out to the assembled elites such balderdash as "The President could take the politics out of Iraq once and for all if he would simply go on television and say to the American people 'Yes, we made mistakes'", or "we need to focus our attention on how to reduce the U.S. military footprint in Iraq. Notice that I say 'reduce,' and not 'fully withdraw'", or "2006 should be the year that the various Iraqi factions must arrive at a fair political accommodation to defeat the insurgency; and , the Administration must make available to Congress critical information on reality-based benchmarks that will help us succeed in Iraq."

Obama is one of those politicians whom journalists like to decorate with words as "adroit" or "politically adept" because you can actually see him trimming to the wind, the way you see a conjuror of moderate skill shove the rabbit back up his sleeve. Above all he is concerned with the task of reassuring the masters of the Democratic Party, and beyond that, the politico-corporate establishment, that he is safe. Whatever bomb might have been in his head has long since been dis-armed. He's never going to blow up in the face of anyone of consequence.

There are plenty of black people like that in the Congress now. After a decade or so of careful corporate funding, as the Black Congressional Caucus is sinking under the weight of Democratic Leadership Copuncil clones like Artur Davis of Alabama, Albert Wynn of Maryland, Sanford Bishop and David Scott of Georgia, William Jefferson of Louisiana, Gregory Meeks of New York, all assiduously selling for a mess of pottage the interests of the voters who sent them to Washington. Obama has done exactly the same thing. He lobbed up the first signal flare during the run-up to his 2004 senate race, when his name began to feature on Democratic Leadership Council literature as one of the hundred Democratic leaders to watch . That indispensable publication The Black Commentator raised a stink about this. "It would be a shame," wrote the Commentator's Bruce Dixon, " if he is in the process of becoming 'ideologically freed' from the opinions of the African American and other Democrats whose votes he needs to win."

Obama wriggled for a while, sending out clouds of mush speak such as "I believe that politics in any democracy is a game of addition, not subtraction", but the Commentator held his feet to the fire. They posed Obama three "bright-line" questions:

1. Do you favor the withdrawal of the United States from NAFTA? Will you in the Senate introduce or sponsor legislation toward that end?
2. Do you favor the adoption of a single payer system of universal health care to extend the availability of quality health care to all persons in this country? Will you in the Senate introduce or sponsor legislation toward that end?
3. Would you have voted against the October 10 congressional resolution allowing the president to use unilateral force against Iraq?

This was in 2003, when Obama clearly felt he could not afford to endanger left support by answering anything other than Yes on the questions and so he duly told the Black Commentator that he would stop hanging his hat in the halls of the DLC and would tell them to remove his name from their !00-To-Watch list. Hence his press man, Vietor's, sensitivity to my allusion in that last to Obama's "mentor" being Senator Joe Lieberman. As a freshman senator, Vietor insisted, Obama had been assigned Lieberman as "mentor". Read the Hartford Courant and you'll find Lieberman boasting that Obama picked him.

Either way, it's obvious that Obama could have brokered a different mentor if he'd so desired it, same way he could have declined to go and tout for Lieberman at that Democratic Party dinner in Connecticut at the end of March. But he clearly didn't, because he wanted to send out a reassuring signal, same way as his Political Action Committee, the Hope Fund's, is raising money for 14 of his senatorial colleagues ­ ten of whom are DLC in orientation, which is half of the DLC presence in the Senate.

There has been a more substantive signal, keenly savored by the corporate world, where Obama voted for "tort reform", thus making it far harder for people to get redress or compensation. Actually the Yes vote in the Senate was filibuster-proof, s Obama could have voted either way without it making anydifference. He just wanted the top people to know j how safe he was.

A woman from Illinois wrote to me after my last column on Obama, agreeing with my reproofs, and saying:

Here's an example of how the position and adulation from those in Washington have gone to his head. I'm involved with the Springfield (IL) Urban League. We began asking almost immediately after the election if he could be the keynote speaker at our annual fundraising dinner ­ which was held last fall! His staff delayed positive responses (even as we continued to call and inquire) until it was too late to get on the schedule of any nationally recognized 'celebrity.' (Thankfully, the attendance was excellent and the fundraiser our best ever ­ despite the brush off we received from Obama.) Let me reiterate: Barack Obama blew off speaking before an audience of 500 primarily African-American voters in Illinois ­ the state he purports to represent. He's spoken here lots of times prior to his election to the Senate, and even since. But he blew us off for nothing more than continued visits to states that did not elect him to stump for sometimes-questionable democrats ­ like the Lieberman situation."

Some hopeful progressives still say, "Obama has to bob and weave, while positioning himself at the high table as the people's champion." But in his advance to the high table he is divesting himself of all legitimate claims to be any sort of popular champion, as opposed to another safe black, like Condoleezza Rice (whom Obama voted to confirm. The Empire relishes such servants.

And so Obama, the constitutional law professor, voted to close off any filibuster of Alito and fled Senator Russell Feingold's motion to censure the President, declaring: "my and Senator Feingold's view is not unanimous. Some constitutional scholars and lower court opinions support the president's argument that he has inherent authority to go outside the bounds of the law in monitoring the activities of suspected terrorists. The question is whether the president understood the law and knowingly flaunted it."

That's not the question at all. The vitality of the Constitution does not rest on whether Bush understands it, any more that the integrity of the Criminal Code depends on whether the President has ever read a line of any statute. We can safely assume that he doesn't and he hasn't.

And so also did Obama, the constitutional law professor, vote Yea on March 2 to final passage of the U.S.A PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act, unlike ten of his Democratic colleagues.

Vietor, Obama's man, laughed derisively at my complaint at the end of my last column how most of her Democratic colleagues had fled Cynthia McKinney. "She apologized", Vietor cried, as though that settled the matter. In fact the betrayal of McKinney, particularly by her black colleagues, was an appalling and important political moment rewarding the racism showered on McKinney and the ongoing implosion of the Congressional Black Caucus. Obama, of course, distanced himself from her too.

from Stanley Aronowitz :
Date: 6 January 2010
Subject: A Reevaluation of Obama.

        My latest piece of political journalism.

Obama at One Year Old
Stanley Aronowitz

People cannot live without hope. The long night of the eight Bush years were tolerated only because many of us believed they would come to an end. That Obama seized on that belief better than his Democratic primary opponents is a testament to the high expectations people had that regime change in Washington just might bring about a better life.  While Hillary Clinton, his main primary opponent  invoked the traditional symbols of military preparedness combined with liberal domestic policies, Obama steadfastly preached the gospel of peace and hope and carefully avoided making lavish promises.  She won the backing of most of Organized Labor, womens’ organizatons and major Democratic politicians.. But Obama, the only fresh face in the gallery of candidates, had a strategy capable of out -maneuvering the traditional party dons. With little support at the top, Obama went for the grass roots, correctly gauging the country’s mood to be done with the old ties and old ideas.
. Obama had the advantage of being African American, even though many black politicians hopped on the Clinton bandwagon early in the campaign.  But Obama’s not so secret weapon was his appeal among the tens of thousands of youth who, responding to his bold message of hope and change, literally came out of the woodwork to volunteer in his campaign, trudged door to door in the big and medium sized cities and tipped the balance in states like California, Pennsylvania and Ohio. They also delivered much of the West to the insurgent. What befuddled the pros and the pundits was Obama’s ability to mobilize youth who chronically stay away from the polls, largely because they see little point in voting. He seemed to have the power to once again make them believe in the system. Although the overall vote count was not remarkable compared to past presidential elections, the proportion of voting youth and blacks helped give Obama a relatively easy victory over John McCain, the lapsed maverick.
For many who voted for Obama, 2009 has been a year of deep disillusionment. The degree to which the Obama administration revealed its basic war and big business  orientation was first shown by his major  cabinet and staff appointees. Robert Gates, Bush’s defense secretary, was held over; Hillary Clinton, perhaps the Senate’s leading hawk, became secretary of state;the crucial position of Treasury Secretary went to a Federal Reserve bureaucrat and Wall Street ally, Tim Geithner; And Lawrence Summers, Bill Clinton’s last Treasury head became Obama’s chief economic advisor..
What was obscured by Obama’s rousing campaign and nimble rhetoric has become brutally apparent in the aftermath. The Democratic Party has, since the end of World War Two, been the favored party of finance capital. Recall that mantle once belonged to the Republicans­the fabled party of the rich and wealthy. But the GOP has sunk into a right-wing party of opposition, and no longer pretends to be a party of government. Its cast, begun as far back as the Goldwater takeover in 1964, is anti-internationalist, narrowly ideological and administratively incompetent. Meanwhile, the Democrats live a glaring contradiction: on the one hand, they rely on labor and the new social movements of feminism, ecology, and black freedom both for votes and for a large portion of their political cadres. On the other, they need the hundreds of millions to oil the party apparatus and run five hundred thirty five national election campaigns. Aside from the unions, most of this money comes from corporate sponsors and wealthy individuals.
This contradictory existence accounts for several important political realities: despite a large “progressive” Congressional delegation, especially in the House, the weight of governance falls on its debts to, and alliances with, the leading financial corporations. For example, that the Democrats are forced to sponsor some version of health care “reform” cannot disguise the fact that the big insurance companies have called the tune on the legislation. Nor, are their ostensible commitments to dealing with global warming and climate change as powerful as the influence of the energy giants who have systematically thwarted any significance steps to address what may be the cutting edge public issue of this century. And as we have seen, the most profound economic crisis since the Great Depression has been met by the Obama administration by continuing the Bush policy of bailing out the banks and insurance companies and virtually ignoring rising joblessness, burgeoning foreclosures and deepening black and Latino poverty. In short, Obama is the perfect manifestation of the contradiction that rips across the DP bough
According to historical myth, during the Depression Roosevelt saved US capitalism by instituting vast regulation of capital. In this tale, the so-called “second” New Deal of social reform was a reflection of the administration’s move to the Left. What this version of history usually fails to notice is that these reforms were preceded by a mass workers movement armed with the tools of direct action that within a few short years transformed the face of the American workplace. Roosevelt was both appalled and politically astute: from an open-throated voice of capital expressed chiefly in the National Industrial Recovery Act, aimed at reviving capitalism by throttling workers wages, he forged an image of a the Democrats as the party of the working people, the poor and the oppressed. That image was, to some degree, backed by concrete steps such as social security, but it did not take long before the Democrats, spurred by the imperatives of anti-communism and the Cold War, reverted to conservative policies, Except for the enactment of medicare in 1966, there have been no major social reforms since 1938 when the wage and hour bill became law.
And as Obama has made plain, the Democrats have retained their character as the War party. Apart from World War Two, clearly a bi-partisan effort Korea, the Dominican Republic,   Vietnam, the opening rounds of the Iraq war in the late 1990s, and the escalation of the Afghanistan military intervention are their products Only the Bushes proved equally committed to aggressive foreign military intervention.
Meanwhile, as the economy continued to sink, the administration asked Congress to emulate the Bush bank bailouts as the major weapon to combat the crisis. Under Fed chair Bernanke’s, Summers’ and Geithner’s direction, Obama was prepared to transfer trillions in taxpayer funds to the leading institutions of the financial system, And a bundle went to General Motors and Chrysler, who were now free to chop jobs at will in order to save their corporations from bankruptcy.  Even as official joblessness kept climbing to more than 10%--and nearly 20% among blacks­the Obama emphasis remained to “stabilize” the financial system.
Early in the new administration Obama told the country his first major priority was to enact a universal health care program. Congress and social health movements accepted the challenge and prepared themselves for the long battle ahead.  But Obama disappointed again. Instead of sending to Congress a single payer proposal that would have eliminated the power of the insurance companies, he allowed conservatives and insurance company lobbyists to write much of the bills that passed both houses. The final version will not include a public option, nor will it likely sanction the right of women to unambiguously obtain an abortion within the framework of their coverage. Under the legislation most Americans will be forced to buy private insurance and pay big Pharma’s exhorbitant costs of prescription drugs.
Obama is an ordinary, though talented, center -right president. While surrendering to the Right, he has maintained a sizeable constituency among liberals and even some on the Left. That a vigorous anti-war movement has not emerged to fight the escalations and betrayals of his war policies, there are no major direct actions against the phony health care bill about to become law and, equally important, we have seen no significant demonstrations for jobs and income testifies to the torpor that has overcome large sections of the American people, including a portion of the Left. Among the reasons for this apparent passivity is that we still labor under the illusion that the Democrats are, at least in part, the party of the people and have failed to recognize their vital role in perpetuating capitalist rule. Are we so pre-occupied with the myriad personal crises that afflict all subordinate social classes? Are we exhausted in the wake of the battering of the media, the flood of never-ending catastrophies, the defeats suffered by the popular forces?. Are the progressive forces ready to occupy the political space of the opposition rather than the “left-wing” of the possible that moves ceaselessly to the right? Events belie forecasts so, as America’s wont, the explosion is likely to come as an unexpected Hurricane.  Perhaps the starting point would be the Left’s clean break from the Democrats.

from Chip Berlet :
Date: 25 January 2010
Subject: Looking Right.

Tea Bags, Taxes, & Productive Citizens
By Chip Berlet

A conundrum of right-wing populist movements like the tea bag and town hall protests is that they often mobilize in ways that undermine the economic self-interest of participants. The solution to the puzzle is that these folks are simultaneously defending their existing relative power and privilege in other spheres, such as race and gender-or at least they think they are in some conscious or unconscious way.

To understand how this works, sociologist Rory McVeigh suggests using a Power Devaluation Model in which right-wing movements emerge to defend their interests in three arenas: political power, economic power, and social status. The importance of these spheres varies over time. In right-wing populism, economic power often takes a back seat to political power and social status, but not always. Hard economic times can lead anti-abortion and anti-gay Christian Right adherents to vote for Democrats who offer a clearly articulated and believable plan to fix the economy-at least for the middle classes.

In Right-Wing Populism in America, Matt Lyons and I argued populism was built around four interwoven elements:

We hear the tea bag and town hall protestors spewing conspiracy theories about death panels and impending government tyranny. Their rhetoric is full of demonization and scapegoating of targeted groups, especially immigrants. Their palpable anger and self-righteous excitement exemplifies the apocalyptic idea that time is running out to save society-an idea that fuels millennial visions of a needed coming confrontation with evil forces.

Producerism, however, is not a word used by most progressive activists, although its storyline might sound familiar. Producerism describes a world view in which people in the middle class feel they are being squeezed from above by crippling taxes, government bureaucracies, and financial elites while simultaneously being pushed around, robbed, and shoved aside by an underclass of "lazy, sinful, and subversive freeloaders." The idea is that unproductive parasites above and below are bleeding the productive middle class dry.

The producerist dynamic spawns conspiratorial allegations about parasitic elites manipulating society and this leads to anger being directed up the socioeconomic ladder. The list of scapegoats among the alleged elite parasites can include internationalists, Trilateralists, bankster plutocrats, socialists, Jews, Bilderbergers, liberal secular humanists, government bureaucrats, or any combination of this list. The underclass parasites include the freeloading "undeserving poor," sinful sex-obsessed perverts, and sinister subversives.

Those scapegoated as lazy freeloaders by white middle class producers include blacks and other people of color, immigrants, and welfare mothers (who are often visualized as "illegal" immigrants, non-white, or both). The "sinful" are abortionists, homosexuals, and feminists (and the pathetic wimpy men who defend them). Rounding out the usual suspects are left-wing social and political activists organizing impoverished and disenfranchised sectors of the population-especially "community organizers."

Producerist anger is directed upward at the alleged elite parasites-as witnessed by the rhetoric at the tea bag and town hall events. This anger, often harnessed by right-wing politicians, tends to also produce more direct and aggressive actions targeting demonized and scapegoated groups lower on the socio-economic ladder. As scholar Catherine McNicol Stock points out, the two key themes in historic U.S. populist movements are "the politics of rural producer radicalism and the culture of vigilante violence."

In the United States the overall outcome of the producerist model of populism is a broad social and political movement some analysts call "middle American nationalism," "the radical center," "middle American radicals," or "white nationalism." Whatever the label, this form of repressive populism with a producerist frame is a common feature of right-wing organizing across the U.S. political right. Historically, it involves conscious or unconscious racism against people of color, especially immigrants.

Things are not that simple, however. Abby Ferber and Michael Kimmel point out that much of the racial rhetoric among neo-Nazis is rooted in gendered narratives involving patriarchy and fear of race mixing. Masculine identity and other gender issues are central to the militia movement-along with economic anxieties. In fact, all movements on the right or left incorporate critiques involving race, gender, and class politics.

There are different autonomous sectors of the political right and they overlap at their boundaries. The way they use populist rhetoric is shaped by their key issues and major frames as well as the demographics of their target audience. None of these movements offer a systemic, institutional, or structural critique of class oppression, but reflect varying forms of right-wing populism.

The Christian Right appears to be largely composed of successful upwardly-mobile suburbanites, including many managers and small business owners. Populist producerism in the Christian Right centers on mobilizing "godly people" against secularized elites seen as controlling the government and media, but the grievances are frequently related to gender-abortion, homosexuality, and the feminist movement.

The armed citizens' militias and the broader Patriot movement attract people who have suffered or feel they will soon suffer some type of economic reversal. Populist producerism in these movements constructs narratives using anti-government or anti-regime rhetorical frames built around conspiracy theories.

In the ultra right, neo-Nazis and white supremacists weave a story of populist producerism in which "lazy blacks, crafty Jews, and predatory immigrants" of color are stripping the white race of its rights.

Producerism was used to mobilize poor and working class whites against newly-freed black former slaves after the Civil War. It was utilized by George Wallace in his presidential campaigns in the 1960s, then borrowed by Richard Nixon and the Republican Party to implement a racist "Southern Strategy" to gain the presidency.

Producerism in other countries and other historic periods often links a conspiracy theory of history with xenophobia, racism, and religious bigotry. People in various countries develop different narratives and pick different scapegoats, but the basic paradigm leads to an attack on the "parasites" by the "producers." Economic libertarians blast the government for high taxes and too much regulation of business. Anti-immigrant xenophobes blast the government for letting "illegals" steal their jobs and increase their taxes. Christian fundamentalists blast the government for allowing the lazy, sinful, and subversive elements to ruin society.

This is not a recent phenomenon, but part of a long tradition. As the right-wing populist sectors grow, politicians and activists within electoral reform movements try to recruit the populists to participate within electoral political frameworks. As they seek votes, some politicians begin to use populist rhetoric and pander to the scapegoating. This explains the popularity of Sarah Palin, Lou Dobbs, and Glenn Beck.

Watch for producerism to be a central frame used by Republicans in the 2010 congressional and state elections. It is important for us on the Left to make sure we do not adopt or reinforce frames or narratives used by the right-wing populists and their producerist blame game.

Chip Berlet is senior analyst at Political Research Associates (publiceye.org) and a vice-president of Defending Dissent. The views here are his own.

from Truth Out :
Date: 10 January 2010
Subject: Real Unemployment figures in the USA today.

The Labor Department reports that 85,000 jobs were lost in December. The official rate of unemployment (which measures how many people are looking for jobs) held steady at 10 percent nonetheless. That's because so many more people have stopped looking. Reportedly, 661,000 Americans dropped out of the labor force last month, deciding there was no hope of finding a job. Had they continued to look, the official unemployment rate would have been 10.4 percent.


The Bad Job Numbers and the Secret Second Stimulus
by Robert Reich

from GRITtv :
Date 4 January 2010
Subject: Democratic Movements in Iran and in Gaza.

The Uprising in Iran and News from the Gaza Peace March


The triumphant stories about how Twitter was going to save Iran may have died down a little, but the resistance in Iran is growing and swelling. Protest on the Shia festival day of Ashura, December 27, resulted in the most violent crackdown since June and the death of opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi’s nephew.

Joining us to discuss the ongoing turmoil in Iran is Hamid Dabashi, Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He has written 20 books including Islamic Liberation Theology: Resisting the Empire and Post-Orientalism: Knowledge and Power in Time of Terror and hosts an online TV show called The Week In Green.

One year ago, at the tail end of the George W. Bush administration, Israel began a 22-day assault on Gaza. This year over 1300 people from more than 43 countries are marching to the Israeli border in a call for Israel to lift the siege on Gaza. We bring you video thanks to Cultures of Resistance.

Christmas Eve, 2009 was also the 30th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  It was also the 3000th day of the U.S. occupation of the country. Matthew Hoh and Congressman Eric Massa are joined in this video by Soviet journalists and analysts discussing the lesson learned too late by their country: occupying Afghanistan breeds more, stronger, resistance. Thanks to Brave New Films for the clip.

On a lighter note, we take a look at where journalism and comedy intersect.  Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny are co-hosts of Citizen Radio, a cheerfully foulmouthed political-comedy radio program. Allison is also a blogger/journalist, and Jamie is also a stand-up comic. As the mainstream media continues its race to the bottom, obsessing over Tiger Woods and missing the real story, they tell us what comedy has to teach the media.

Finally, the film It’s a Wonderful Life is a holiday tradition. But in this video from Eugene Jarecki and the Huffington Post, it becomes more than that–it becomes an inspiration for change. Small community banks keep money flowing to small businesses and individuals, while large banks took government bailouts and continue to pay CEOs and lobbyists ridiculous salaries to maintain the status quo.

Angry about the bailouts? Take a cue from It’s a Wonderful Life and move your money into a community bank. You can find one here.

from Ronald Creagh :
Date: 25 January 2010
Subject:  Haïti : les vautours se ruent sur la proie...]


Thank you, Francis and Tatina, for your generous hospitality. It's always a pleasure to meet you and to have our long and nice discussions.
Francis, I promised to send you an article on Haiti for your discussion. Here it is, below. There are also interesting comments by the "Agence Global".

Deux articles pour mieux comprendre l'envoi de 10 000 militaires (dont 2000 marines) en Haïti, pays jugé stratégique de par ses réserves en or, en cuivre, en pétrole (qui pourraient être supérieures à celles du Vénézuela) et en Iridium utilisé pour la protection des têtes de missiles balistiques intercontinentaux (merci à Pierre pour le lien).

Haïti : vers une nouvelle occupation américaine ? http://www.legrandsoir.info/Haiti-vers-une-nouvelle-occupation-americaine.html
The Militarization of Emergency Aid to Haiti: Is it a Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion? http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17000

Un article aussi sur l'illusion de la charité comme solution à long terme pour un peuple dont les problèmes sont tout autres : "la faillite d’un pays sans État central fort, corrompu jusqu’à la moelle et dépossédé de lui-même par des choix idéologiques décidés par des pays étrangers"

Haïti: la « malédiction » n’existe pas : http://louisprefontaine.com/2010/01/13/haiti-tremblement-de-terre-malediction

L'article ci dessous est un peu long, mais il complète un peu tout ça en dressant un bilan assez large de l'implication totale des pays riches - États-Unis en tête - en Haïti pour contrôler le pays et le soumettre aux plans économiques néolibéraux : ouverture des marchés agricoles, déforestation massive, ouverture de zones franches (sweat shops ou "ateliers à sueur"), le tout au détriment des droits sociaux, des investissements pour les infrastructures, de la paysannerie locale et de l'autosuffisance alimentaire...
Les conséquences directes de ces politiques sont un état haïtien impuissant, une infrastructure en ruines, des constructions hasardeuses et une misère noire qui, conjuguées aux cyclones et maintenant au séisme, ont transformé une catastrophe naturelle en une catastrophe sociale.


Comment ils ont ruiné Haïti
article original The Incapacitation of Haiti, Ashley Smith - http://www.counterpunch.org/smith01142010.html
(traduction en français www.legrandsoir.info).

Un terrible tremblement de terre, le pire depuis 200 ans, a frappé Port-au-Prince mardi, provoquant d’innombrables dégâts et victimes. L’intensité du séisme était de 7,0 sur l’échelle de Richter et a été suivi durant toute la nuit jusqu’au matin par 30 autres secousses, toutes supérieures à une magnitude de 4,5.

Le séisme a fait tomber des maisons, des hôtels, des hôpitaux et même les principaux bâtiments publics de la capitale, dont le palais présidentiel. L’effondrement de tous ces bâtiments a provoqué un gigantesque nuage qui a plané au-dessus de la ville et une pluie de poussière sur le sol dévasté.

Selon les estimations, on compterait plus de 100.000 morts pour une métropole de 2 millions d’habitants. Ceux qui ont survécu vivent dans la rue par crainte de retourner dans les constructions qui sont encore debout.

Partout dans le monde, les Haïtiens tentent d’entrer en contact avec leurs familles et amis mais la plupart des lignes téléphoniques du pays sont coupées.

Alors que la majorité des gens ont réagi à cette crise en cherchant comment fournir de l’aide ou faire un don, le fanatique de la Droite Chrétienne (US), Pat Robertson, s’est distingué par une déclaration raciste abjecte. Il a expliqué que les Haïtiens étaient maudits parce qu’ils avaient signé un pacte avec le diable pour se libérer de l’esclavagisme de leurs maîtres français lors de la révolution haïtienne, il y a 200 ans.

Les grands médias ont expliqué que le séisme avait été provoqué par un glissement de plaques tectoniques le long d’une faille située sous la capitale de Port-au-Prince, et que la misère et l’impuissance du gouvernement Préval avaient amplifié le désastre. Mais ils n’ont pas tout dit.

« La couverture médiatique du séisme se caractérise par une déconnexion quasi totale entre le désastre et l’histoire sociale et politique d’Haïti », explique le militant de la solidarité avec Haïti, le Canadien Yves Engler. « Ils répètent que le gouvernement n’était pas du tout préparé pour faire face à une telle crise. C’est vrai. Mais ils n’ont pas expliqué pourquoi. »

Pourquoi est-ce que 60 pour cent des bâtiments à Port-au-Prince étaient-ils mal construits et dangereux, même dans des conditions normales, selon le maire de la capitale ? Pourquoi n’y a-t-il pas de réglementation sur les constructions dans une ville située au-dessus d’une faille ? Pourquoi est-ce que la population de Port-au-Prince est-elle passée de 50.000 habitants dans les années 50 à 2 millions de miséreux aujourd’hui ? Pourquoi l’état a-t-il été totalement dépassé par les évènements ?

Pour le comprendre, il faut examiner une deuxième ligne de fracture – la politique impériale des États-Unis à l’égard d’Haïti. Le gouvernement des États-Unis, les Nations Unies, et d’autres puissances ont aidé la classe dirigeante haïtienne à soumettre le pays aux plans économiques néolibéraux qui ont appauvri les masses, provoqué des déforestations, ruiné l’infrastructure et rendu le gouvernement impuissant.

La ligne de fracture de l’impérialisme US a amplifié la ligne de fracture géologique et a transformé une catastrophe naturelle en une catastrophe sociale.

Pendant la Guerre Froide, les États-Unis ont soutenu les dictatures de Papa Doc Duvalier et ensuite Bébé Doc Duvalier – qui ont régné sur le pays de 1957 à 1986 – pour faire un contrepoids à Cuba.

Sous la supervision de Washington, Bebé Doc Duvalier a ouvert l’économie haïtienne aux capitaux US dans les années 70 et 80. Les produits agricoles importés des États-Unis ont inondé le pays et ruiné la paysannerie locale. Des centaines de milliers de gens sont venus se réfugier dans les bidonvilles de Port-au-Prince pour fournir une main d’œuvre extrêmement bon marché aux « ateliers à sueur » (sweat shops) US situés dans les zones franches.

Dans les années 80, les Haïtiens se sont soulevés pour chasser les Duvalier et ont ensuite élu à la présidence le réformiste Jean-Bertrand Aristide sur un programme de réforme agraire, d’aide aux paysans, de reforestation, d’investissement dans les infrastructures, d’augmentation des salaires et des droits syndicaux pour les travailleurs.

En réaction, les États-Unis ont soutenu un coup d’état qui a chassé Aristide en 1991. En 1994, après que Bill Clinton ait envoyé ses troupes sur l’île, le président élu a retrouvé son poste mais à la condition d’appliquer le plan néolibéral US, appelé « plan de la mort » par les Haïtiens.

Aristide a résisté à certaines mesures du programme US pour Haïti, mais en a mis d’autres en œuvre, brisant ainsi la perspective de réformes. Et puis un jour, les États-Unis ont perdu patience devant les résistances d’Aristide qui refusait de se soumettre totalement, surtout lorsqu’il a demandé au cours de sa dernière année de mandat 21 milliards de dollars en guise d’indemnisations pour son pays. Les États-Unis ont imposé un embargo économique qui a étranglé le pays et plongé les paysans et les travailleurs dans une misère encore plus profonde.

En 2004, Washington a collaboré avec la classe dirigeante haïtienne dans son soutien aux escadrons de la mort qui ont renversé le gouvernement puis enlevé et déporté Aristide. Les Nations Unies ont ensuite envoyé des troupes pour occuper le pays et le gouvernement marionnette de Gérard Latortue a été installé afin de poursuivre les plans néolibéraux de Washington.

Le court règne de Latortue a été marqué par une profonde corruption – lui et ses partisans ont empoché une bonne partie des 4 milliards de dollars injectés par les États-Unis et d’autres pays après la levée de l’embargo. Le régime a démantelé les timides réformes qu’Aristide avait réussies à mettre en place. Ainsi, le processus d’appauvrissement et de dégradation des infrastructures du pays s’est accéléré.

En 2006, les Haïtiens ont massivement élu à la présidence René Préval, allié de longue date d’Aristide. Mais Préval n’a pas fait preuve de beaucoup de détermination et a fini par collaborer avec les plans US et ignorer la crise sociale qui s’amplifiait.

En fait, les États-Unis, les Nations Unies et les autres puissances impériales ont court-circuité le gouvernement Préval en injectant de l’argent directement dans les ONG. « Aujourd’hui, en Haïti, le nombre d’ONG par habitant est le plus élevé au monde » dit Yves Engler. Le gouvernement Préval n’est plus qu’un paravent derrière lequel les véritables décisions sont prises par les puissances impériales qui les mettent en application par l’intermédiaire d’ONG qu’elles ont choisies.

Le véritable pouvoir dans le pays n’est pas exercé par le gouvernement Préval mais par la force d’occupation des Nations Unies appuyée par les États-Unis. Sous direction brésilienne, les forces de l’ONU ont protégé les riches et ont collaboré avec – ou ont fait semblant de ne pas voir – les escadrons de la mort d’extrême droite qui terrorisent les partisans d’Aristide et de son parti Lavalas.

Les forces d’occupation n’ont rien fait pour lutter contre la misère, la dégradation des infrastructures et la déforestation massive qui ont amplifié les effets d’une série de catastrophes naturelles – de violents cyclones en 2004 et 2008 et maintenant le séisme.

Au lieu de cela, elles se sont contentées de faire la police au milieu d’une catastrophe sociale et ont commis les crimes habituels et caractéristiques de toutes les forces de police. Selon Ban Beeton, dans un article de la NACLA sur les Amériques, « la mission de stabilisation de l’ONU à Haïti (MINUSTAH), qui a commencé en juin 2004, a été marquée pratiquement dés le premier jour par des scandales de meurtres, de viols et autres violences commises par ses troupes. »

L’administration Bush d’abord, et maintenant l’administration Obama, ont toutes deux profité du coup d’état, des crises sociales et des catastrophes naturelles pour étendre les projets néolibéraux des États-Unis.

Sous Obama, les États-Unis ont annulé une partie de la dette, pour un montant de 1,2 milliards de dollars, mais n’ont pas annulé la totalité de celle-ci – Haïti rembourse encore d’énormes sommes à la Banque Inter-Américaine pour le Développement. L’annulation d’une partie de la dette fait partie de la mise en scène habituelle destinée à occulter la véritable politique d’Obama à Haïti, qui est encore et toujours la même.

En étroite collaboration avec le nouvel envoyé spécial des Nations Unies pour Haïti, l’ancien président Bill Clinton, Obama est intervenu pour faire appliquer un programme économique similaire à celle du reste des Caraïbes – tourisme, ateliers de textiles, et la réduction du contrôle de l’état sur l’économie par le biais des privatisations et des déréglementations.

Plus précisément, Clinton a dirigé un plan visant à transformer le nord d’Haïti en un terrain de loisirs pour touristes, situé le plus loin possible des bidonvilles de Port-au-Prince. Clinton a convaincu la compagnie Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines d’investir 55 millions de dollars pour construire un port le long de la côte de Labadee, loué jusqu’en 2050.

A partir de là, l’industrie touristique de Haïti espère organiser des expéditions vers les forteresses haut perchées de Citadelle et de Palais Sans Souci, toutes deux construites par Henri Christophe, un des dirigeants de la révolution des esclaves d’Haïti. Selon le Miami Herald, le plan de 40 millions de dollars comprend la transformation de la ville paisible de Milot, base de départ pour la Citadelle et le Palais Sans Souci, en un village touristique animé comprenant des galeries d’arts, des marchés d’artisanat, des restaurants et des rues pavées. Les touristes seront transportés en contournant le cap embouteillé de Cap-Haïtien jusqu’à la baie, puis transportés par autocars le long des plantations paysannes pittoresques. Une fois à Milot, ils pourront grimper à pied ou à cheval jusqu’à la Citadelle... classée patrimoine mondial depuis 1982...

Dés lors que la Royal Caribbean a prévu de faire venir le plus grand navire de croisière au monde, provoquant ainsi une demande en excursions, l’industrie du tourisme d’Haïti encourage le développement de l’écotourisme, d’explorations archéologiques et de démonstrations voyeurs de rites vaudous.

Ainsi, tandis que Pat Robinson compare la grande révolution des esclaves d’Haïti à un pacte avec le diable, Clinton s’active à la réduire à un piège à touristes. Dans le même temps, les plans de Clinton pour Haïti prévoient une expansion des « ateliers à sueur » (sweat shops) pour profiter de la main d’œuvre bon marché fournie par les masses urbaines. Les États-Unis ont détaxé les importations en provenance d’Haïti pour faciliter le retour de la production de ces ateliers.

Clinton a vanté les opportunités offertes par le développement des « ateliers à sueur » lors d’une visite éclair d’une usine à textile appartenant et géré par la célèbre Cintas Corp. Il a annoncé que George Soros avait offert 50 millions de dollars pour un nouveau parc industriel d’ateliers qui pourrait créer 25.000 emplois dans l’industrie du textile. Clinton a expliqué à une conférence de presse que le gouvernement d’Haïti pourrait créer « plus d’emplois en baissant le coût des investissements, y compris le prix des loyers ».

Le fondateur de TransAfrica, Randall Robinson, a déclaré à Democracy Now ! (radio progressiste US) « Haïti n’a pas besoin de ce genre d’investissement. Il a besoin d’investissements en capital. Il a besoin d’investissements qui lui permettraient d’atteindre l’autosuffisance. Il a besoin d’investissements pour pouvoir se nourrir. »

Une des raisons pour lesquelles Clinton a pu promouvoir aussi facilement les « ateliers à sueur » est que le coup d’état appuyé par les États-Unis a éradiqué toute forme de résistance. Ils se sont débarrassés d’Aristide et de sa manie qui consistait à augmenter le salaire minimum. Ils l’ont forcé à l’exil, ils ont terrorisé ses alliés restés sur place et ils ont interdit à son parti politique, Fanmi Lavalas, le parti le plus populaire du pays, de se présenter aux élections. De plus, le régime issu du coup d’état a attaqué les syndicalistes présents dans les « ateliers à sueur ».

Clinton pouvait ainsi annoncer aux hommes d’affaires que « Le risque politique en Haïti est le plus faible que je n’ai jamais vu de ma vie ».

Ainsi, à l’instar des présidents américains avant lui, Obama a aidé les classes privilégiées d’Haïti, a soutenu les multinationales qui voulaient profiter des coûts de main-d’œuvre, a réduit le pouvoir de réglementation de l’état haïtien et a réprimé toute forme de résistance politique.

Les conséquences directes de ces politiques sont un état haïtien impuissant, une infrastructure en ruines, des constructions hasardeuses et une misère noire qui, conjuguées aux cyclones et maintenant au séisme, ont transformé une catastrophe naturelle en une catastrophe sociale.

Tout le monde devrait soutenir la fourniture d’aide à Haïti, mais personne ne devrait le faire avec des œillères. Comme l’a dit Engler : « l’aide destinée à Haïti a toujours été employée au profit d’intérêts impérialistes. Ceci est évident lorsqu’on observe comment les États-Unis et le Canada ont traité le gouvernement Aristide en contraste au traitement réservé au régime issu du coup d’état. Les États-Unis et le Canada ont affamé Aristide en supprimant pratiquement toute aide. Mais après le coup d’état, ils ont ouvert en grand les robinets financiers pour appuyer les forces les plus réactionnaires de la société haïtienne. »

Ils ne faut pas se tromper sur le rôle des ONG internationales. Tandis que de nombreuses ONG tentent de répondre à la crise, les États-Unis et d’autres gouvernements fournissent une aide destinée à miner le droit à l’autodétermination du pays. Les ONG internationales n’ont aucun compte à rendre au gouvernement haïtien, pas plus qu’au peuple haïtien. Par conséquence, toute aide qui passe par ces ONG ne fait qu’affaiblir un peu plus le peu d’emprise sur leur propre société encore entre les mains des Haïtiens.

L’administration Obama devrait aussi lever l’exil d’Aristide et lui permettre de retourner en Haïti, et lever aussi l’interdiction faite à son parti politique, Fanmi Lavalas, de participer aux élections. Après tout, un criminel et trafiquant de drogue notoire, Guy Philippe, et son parti le Front National pour la Reconstruction (FNR) ont été autorisés à participer aux élections. Aristide et son parti, par contraste, sont encore la force politique la plus populaire du pays et devraient être autorisés à participer à une élection libre et démocratique.

Les États-Unis devraient aussi cesser de déporter les Haïtiens qui ont fui leur pays déchiré par la crise et leur accorder une statut temporaire de réfugiés. Ce qui permettrait aux Haïtiens qui ont fui la crise politique et sociale que traverse le pays depuis le coup d’état, les cyclones et à présent le séisme, de rester aux États-Unis.

Par-dessus tout, nous devons exiger que les États-Unis cessent d’imposer leurs programmes néolibéraux. Les États-Unis ont pillé Haïti depuis des décennies. Ce n’est pas Haïti qui a une dette envers les États-Unis, et d’autres pays, mais l’inverse. Les États-Unis, la France, le Canada et les Nations Unies doivent au peuple haïtien une indemnisation pour le pillage de leur pays.

Avec ces indemnités et un espace politique, les Haïtiens pourraient commencer à déterminer leur propre avenir politique et économique – tel qu’il avait été rêvé par la grande révolution des esclaves, il y a 200 ans.

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith writes for the Socialist Worker, where this originally appeared. He can be reached at: ashley05401@yahoo.com

« Lorsque le sage montre la lune, l'imbécile regarde le doigt. » - Confucius.
Courriel : Attac Chalon/Saône  ­ Site Attac 71

from RSN :
Date: 26 January 2010
Subject: Paul Krugman on "The Bernanke Conundrum," and much more . . . .

RSN Godot Logo

Reader Supported News | 25 January 10 AM

It's Live on the HomePage Now:
Reader Supported News

The Republican win in Massachusetts is leading to a sharpening of Washington's economic populism. Paul Krugman for The New York Times explains; "The Bernanke Conundrum." | Even after a major victory in Massachusetts, the "tea party" movement shows signs of self-destructing. Joe Scarborough writes for Newsweek; "Is the Tea Party Over?" | Three suicide bombings in Iraq kill dozens on the heels of the execution of 'Chemical Ali.' Chelsea J. Carter reports for the Associated Press; "37 Killed in Baghdad as 'Chemical Ali' Hanged." -- RSN

Paul Krugman | The Bernanke Conundrum

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times | A Republican won in Massachusetts - and suddenly it's not clear whether the Senate will confirm Ben Bernanke for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman. That's not as strange as it sounds: Washington has suddenly noticed public rage over economic policies that bailed out big banks but failed to create jobs.

Joe Scarborough | Is the Tea Party Over?

By Joe Scarborough, Newsweek | The man who serves both as the tea party's spiritual leader and carnival barker, Glenn Beck, spent the morning after Scott Brown's victory sounding very much like a man who would just as soon undermine the party as he would share the spotlight with Washington's newest star.

37 Killed in Baghdad as 'Chemical Ali' Hanged

By Chelsea J. Carter, Associated Press | News of the hanging came shortly after three suicide car bombs struck downtown Baghdad. It was not immediately clear whether the attacks were linked to the execution of Ali Hassan al-Majid.

From Monty Reed Kroopkin :
Date: 25 January 2010
Subject: Open Letter to UC Regents, with Protest Petition.

Dear Friends,
     Activists from various unions and schools have issued this important Open Letter to the UC Regents (copied below), which explains why we refuse to let this struggle be co-opted.
    Here is the online petition (please sign and get your organization to sign!):


    Please forward this Open Letter widely and print it out and use it out as an organizing tool for March 4. We expect various media outlets to be publishing the letter this weekend, but we need everyone's help to distribute this!

In Solidarity,
Eric Blanc
City College of San Francisco
The Organizer Newspaper


To Defend Education, Reverse the Hikes and Cuts:
Open Letter to UC Regents and the People of California

The UC Regents claim to be on the side of students, staff, and faculty in defending public education, but their actions speak otherwise.

On January 20, UC President Mark Yudof and other UC Regents announced to the press that they support the March 4 Strike and Day of Action to Defend Public Education. Yet at that very meeting they awarded $3.1 million more in executive bonuses.

This is a cynical publicity stunt, and we do not buy it.

If the UC Regents were serious about supporting the students, staff, and faculty of the UC system, they would immediately reverse the 32% fee hike and roll back the catastrophic layoffs and cuts they have imposed. The future of public education in California for all working people and communities of color is at stake.

The UC Regents claim that the University of California is broke and therefore they argue that "we must work together to pressure Sacramento." But if the UC is broke, why are the Regents giving out millions in executive bonuses? If the UC is broke, why did the Regents recently loan the State of California nearly $200 million dollars? And if the UC Regents are "on our side," why have UC police consistently been sent in to repress peaceful protests?

Independent analyses of the UC budget testify to a simple and disturbing fact: the fee hikes and layoffs in the UC system are a result of a priorities crisis, not a "budget crisis." Indeed, the UC made record profits last year. The conclusion: UC Regents can and must use their millions of dollars in reserve funds to reverse the fee hikes, cuts, and layoffs.

Furthermore, we do not accept that the UC system be funded at the expense of pre-K, K-12, Community Colleges, the CSUs and adult education, as well as other public services. All levels of education must be fully funded and quality education must be equally accessible to all Californians and immigrants.

On March 4, 2010, tens of thousands of students, teachers, and workers and their organizations in all sectors of public education and across the public sector will organize mass strikes and protests against the priorities crisis of both Sacramento and the UC, CSU, CC, and K-12 administrators.

Until the UC Regents and Sacramento reverse the fee hikes, cuts, and layoffs, we pledge to continue to deepen this growing movement. We refuse to let this struggle be co-opted, particularly by the very people responsible, in large part, for the disasters facing public education in this state.
(Initial Signers) :
    - Jelger Kalmijn, President, University Professional and Technical Employees
    - Bob Samuels, President, UC American Federation of Teachers
    - La Kesha Harrison, President, AFSCME Local 3299                                            
    - Maria La Barrie, Southern Vice President, Coalition of University Employees           
    - Lucy Carrillo, Student, UC Berkeley
    - Eric Blanc, Student, City College of San Francisco                                                                                                    
    - James Illingworth, P.H.D. Candidate, UC Santa Cruz
    - Katherine H. Lee, UC Berkeley
    - Juan Garcia, Secretary, Coalition of University Employees Local 3                                                                  
    - Kathyrn Klar, President, UC American Federation of Teachers Local 1474                                                                   
    - Julian Posadas, Executive Vice President, AFSCME Local 3299                                                                    
    - Kevin Rooney, President, University Professional and Technical Employees Local 7                                           
    - Tanya Smith, President, University Professional and Technical Employees Local 1