Friday, February 27, 2009

The Simpsons enter TV history

The 20-year run of Gunsmoke has been the longest running prime-time scripted series until this season, when The Simpsons became 20-years old. Since The Simpsons has been renewed for two more seasons, next year it will break the record in its 21st season. Just one caveat - Law& Order- in its 19th season- is breathing close behind.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Odetta memorial - Feb. 24, 2009

Tonight we went to The Riverside Memorial Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his historic anti-Vietnam War speech, to celebrate the life and music of Odetta (Dec. 31, 1930-Dec. 2, 2008). Among the speakers and musicians who paid tribute to the voice of the Civil Rights Movement were David Amram ("Amazing Grace"), Sweet Honey in the Rock ("God's Gonna Cut You Down"), Josh White Jr. ("Nobody Knows You When You're Down & Out"), Dr. Maya Angelou (poem), Emory Joseph ("Keep on Movin' It On"), Wavy Gravy (comments), Peter Yarrow with his daughter and the Brooklyn Tech (H.S.) Choir ("Don't Laugh at Me"), Pete Seeger, Tom Chapin, Sonia Sanchez (comments), Harry Belefonte (comments), Bernice Reagan ("Goodnight Irene") and many people from Odetta's family and career.

I thought the highlights of the evening were the wonderful Maya Angelou and Tom Chapin, Pete Seeger, Peter Yarrow, Josh White Jr., Emory Joseph, accompanied by David Amram doing "This Land is Your Land."

All in all it was a wonderful evening. I just wish it had not been for such a sad occasion.

Odetta goodnight, sweet princess.

Radical right nut jobs challenge Obama's right to be president

The radical right nut jobs are becoming more and more desperate. Since they completely misjudged the electorate first during the campaign and then by blindly rejecting Obama's stimulus package, they are now back to challenging his birthplace and therefore his constitutional right to be president. I have believed for a long time that the Republicans have had people working on articles of impeachment - even before Obama was inaugurated. This bogus birthplace nonsense seems to be their current weapon of choice.

The Alabama Republican, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, met with constituents on Saturday,

And a local resident asked him if there is any truth to allegations that arose during the presidential campaign concerning Obama’s place of birth, the Cullman Times reported.

He answered
Well, his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate. You have to be born in America to be president.
Right-wing website Newsmax also reports that longtime Obama opponent Alan Keyes also says Obama has failed constitutional muster to become president, since, he argues, Obama was born in Kenya. You really have to listen to his diatribe at an interview last week in order to get the full impact of the right-wing desperation and loss of touch with reality. These people may seem like extremes but I think they are in the mainstream of the right.

(If you are reading this on Facebook click here to watch Keyes diatribe) .

Notice that in case the birthplace nonsense doesn't work out for them, Keyes falls back on the desperate ploy McCain and Palen used when they became desperate: accusing Obama of being "a radical communist who will destroy America. "

One thing for sure, the more of the electorate who become aware of this, the more out-to-lunch these people will appear. They clearly move from the position of political opponents of the president to people with a more psychiatrically diagnosable disease.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Vote YES! Unions are still important for workers

I think it has become clearer and clearer that the current crisis of capitalism is a direct result of the expanding economic inequality. The different aspects of this crisis: credit, mortgages and unemployment have all resulted from the growing weakness in the ability of workers to defend themselves from avaricious bosses. The ongoing capitalist war against the primary institutions of workers' protection - unions - has been a key element of the growing inequality in wealth and income. Unions are obviously neither the only or the final answer to the problem of inequality, but, at least in the short run, they are essential to the workers' fight. Public perceptions are also a key element of our fight against this growing inequality. So, in the interest of changing the current anti-union public perceptions I am helping to spread the word about this looney poll in Parade Magazine. The following was recently forwarded to me.

Can you take a minute to stand up for workers?
This Sunday's PARADE Magazine promotes an online poll asking: "Does America still need labor unions?"
Please VOTE YES right now and pass this along to your friends and family.
I think you'd agree that it's a pretty absurd question from PARADE. With the gap between the rich and the poor wider than it's been since 1928, and with working families bearing the brunt of the economic downturn, it's clear we need unions more than ever.
That's why we're fighting so hard for the Employee Free Choice Act. Workers deserve to be able to negotiate for better wages and benefits, but the deck is stacked against them.
Chances are good you saw the poll in yesterday's paper too. PARADE calls itself America's most widely-read magazine, reaching more than 70 million readers. Please be sure your voice gets heard in this poll! Tell PARADE America needs unions!
And with anti-union special interests waging a well-funded campaign of misinformation about the Employee Free Choice Act, you can be sure our opponents will be sending this poll around.
Let's make sure they don't skew the results. Vote YES today – America still needs unions!
Thanks so much – and don't forget to pass this along to everyone you know!
Liz Cattaneo
American Rights at Work

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Live blogging the 61st Oscars

Well we've had most of the 2009 movie awards (or at least the nominations). Here's the Big Gold One - the Oscars.
Who do you think should win? Well the red acrpet nonsense is over. Now the Oscars and Hugh Jackman, the host.

From Slumdog Millionaire

BEST PICTURE: winner: "Slumdog Millionaire"
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
"The Reader"
"Slumdog Millionaire"

BEST ACTOR: winner: Sean Penn, Milk
Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"
Sean Penn, "Milk"
Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler"
Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"

BEST ACTRESS: Winner: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Kate Winslet, The Reader
Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"
Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"
Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"
Meryl Streep, "Doubt"
Kate Winslet, "The Reader"

BEST DIRECTOR:Winner: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"
David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"
Gus Van Sant, "Milk"

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Winner: Departures (Japan)
"The Baader-Meinhof Complex" (Germany)
"The Class" (France)
"Departures" (Japan)
Revanche" (Austria)
"Waltz with Bashir" (Israel)

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: Winner:Slumdog Millionaire, Jai Ho, A.R. Rahman
"Slumdog Millionaire," "Jai Ho," A.R. Rahman
"Slumdog Millionaire," "O Saya," A.R. Rahman & M.I.A.
"Wall-E," "Down To Earth," Peter Gabriel & Thomas Newman

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Winner: Slumdog Millionaire, A.R. Rahman
"The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button," Alexandre Desplat
"Defiance," James Newton Howard
"Milk," Danny Elfman
"Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman
"WALL-E," Thomas Newman

The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: Jerry Lewis, presented by Eddie Murphy

BEST FILM EDITING: Winner: Slumdog Millionaire, Chris Dickens
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall
"The Dark Knight," Lee Smith
"Frost/Nixon," Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill
"Milk," Elliot Graham
"Slumdog Millionaire," Chris Dickens

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Winner: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Eric Barba
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Eric Barba
"The Dark Knight," Chris Corbould, Nick Davis, Paul Franklin, Tim Webber
"Iron Man," John Nelson

BEST SOUND EDITING: Winner: The Dark Knight, Richard King
"The Dark Knight," Richard King
"Iron Man," Frank Eulner, Christopher Boyes
"Slumdog Millionaire," Tom Sayers
"Wall-E," Ben Burtt, Matthew Wood
"Wanted," Wylie Stateman

BEST SOUND MIXING: Winner: Slumdog Millionaire, Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Mark Weingarten, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce
"The Dark Knight," Ed Novick, Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo
"Slumdog Millionaire," Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
"Wall-E," Ben Burtt, Tom Myers, Michael Semanick
"Wanted," Chris Jenkins, Frank A. MontaƱo and Petr Forejt

"The Conscience of Nhem En"
"The Final Inch"
"Smile Pinki"
"The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306"

"The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)"
"Encounters at the End of the World"
"The Garden"
"Man on Wire"
"Trouble the Water"

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR ;Winner: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Josh Brolin, "Milk"
Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"
Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
Michael Shannon, "Revolutionary Road"

Amy Adams, "Doubt"
Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Viola Davis, "Doubt"
Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler"

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Winner: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Dustin Lance Black, "Milk"
Courtney Hunt, "Frozen River"
Mike Leigh, "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Marttin McDonagh, "In Bruges"
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, "WALL-E"

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Winner: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire"
David Hare, "The Reader"
Peter Morgan, "Frost/Nixon"
John Patrick Shanley, "Doubt"
Eric Roth, Robin Swicord, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"

"Kung Fu Panda"

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM: Winner: "La Maison en Petits Cubes"
"La Maison en Petits Cubes"
"Lavatory - Lovestory"
"This Way Up"

BEST ART DIRECTION: Winner: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
"The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button"
"Dark Knight"
"The Duchess"
"Revolutionary Road"

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Winner: "The Duchess," Michael O'Conner
"Australia," Catherine Martin
"The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button," Jacqueline West
"The Duchess," Michael O'Conner
"Milk", Danny Glicker
"Revolutionary Road," Albert Wolsky

BEST MAKEUP:Winner: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Colleen Callaghan, Fionagh Cush
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Colleen Callaghan, Fionagh Cush
"The Dark Knight," Peter Robb-King, John Caglione Jr.
"Hellboy II: The Golden Army," Mike Elizalde, Thom Floutz

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Winner: Slumdog Millionaire, Anthony Dod Mantle
"Changeling" Tom Stern
"Slumdog Millionaire," Anthony Dod Mantle
"The Reader," Chris Menges
"The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button," Claudio Miranda
"The Dark Knight," Wally Pfister

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: Winner: "Spielzeugland (Toyland)
"Auf der Strecke (On the Line)"
"Manon on the Asphalt"
"New Boy"
"The Pig"
"Spielzeugland (Toyland)"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

N.Y. Post: Racist cartoon

I reluctantly reproduce this obviously racist cartoon from Wednesday's (2/18) N.Y. Post. But I think people need to see it in order to evaluate it.

To me - in the context of U.S. racial history and the use of images of gorillas to depict people of color and the connection between the president and the stimulus bill - the racist content of the cartoon is obvious. What surprises me is that any sane person would be surprised by a racist cartoon in the N.Y. Post

And once you accept the connection between our first African-American president and the bloody gorilla depicted in the cartoon, the question of assassination rears its ugly head. It also raises questions of police murdering obviously unarmed victims.

There is a major demonstration currently underway outside the N.Y. Post. More later. People are calling for a boycott of the Post (most of us already do that) and the businesses that advertise in a racist rag like the Post.

Yesterday, Thursday (2/19), The N.Y.Post - under pressure from growing community opposition - to its racist cartoon (see above) issued a statement it mislabelled an "apology."
It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill. Period. But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism. This was certainly not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize
Then they went on to attack the so-called opportunists in the media and public life who are taking advantage of the situation. This kind of half-assed apology does nothing to alleviate the situation. In fact, it tends to demean "those who were offended by the image," which obviously is in their heads.

If, in fact, this is the only way the N.Y.Post (and its editors and cartoonist) could find to "mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill" the only people who are inept are the Post editors and cartoonist. Their lack of any understanding of U.S. racial history and their lack of sensitivity with community feelings says far more about the N.Y. Post than about the stimulus bill.

If you can't make it to the protests outside the Post building, click here to send a letter of protest to the Post.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Feb. 19: Protest N.Y. Post racist cartoon

I do believe in freedom of the press and freedom of speech, but protesting a racist cartoon is guaranteed by freedom of speech. For better or worse, I believe the founders actually believed in an independent press, not the current sycophantic press like the N.Y.Post. Anyone who believes that the N.Y.Post cartoon is not racist, I have a bridge you might want to buy.

Thursday, February 19, 2008 at 12 Noon
New York Post Office
1211 Avenue of the Americas (between 47th & 48th Sts)
New York, NY

The New York Post maligned President Barak Obama in an overtly racist cartoon depicting two police officers, one is pointing a smoking gun at a large chimpanzee, lying on the ground clearly shot dead. The caption reads “They’ll have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill.”

The cartoon in Wednesday’s (2/18/09) edition on the infamous “Page Six,” is a crass distortion of a recent horrific incident in which a 200 pound pet chimpanzee mauls a woman and police shoot and kill him.

NYC Councilman Charles Barron has called for A City Wide Emergency Protest Demonstration. Th e protest will be held on Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 12 noon in front of the New York Post main offices at 1211 Avenue of the the Americas (between 47th and 48th Streets) New York, NY.

“The clearly racist tone is outrageous,” said Colette Pean of the Women of Obama. “We are in support of Councilman Barron and we must let the New York Post know this will not be tolerated by the people in this city.”

Invited speakers joining Councilman Barron include Reverend Al Sharpton of the National Action Network, NYC, State Senator Bill Perkins, State Assemblywoman Inez Barron, Viola Plummer of the Women for Obama, Monica Moorehead of the International Action Center, and representatives of the Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive To African People (CEMOTAP),20December 12th Movement, NAACP-Jamaica Queens, Harriet Tubman, Black Men’s Movement, and many others.

Can all Obama's men and all Obama's women put Humpty Dumpty together again?

I've been trying to get my head around the current capitalist crisis. Here's what I've concluded. It seems as if what Obama is trying to do is save free-market capitalism from itself. That after all is what Roosevelt did with the New Deal, although ultimately it took WWII to finish the job. If you have any thoughts I'd love to hear from you.

Let me start a bit generally and then come back to the current situation. But first a thought that's both general and specific. Whatever happens with the economic system, with capitalism, only we, the people, can make the change we want, we need. Change can only come from the bottom up, not from the top down. Trickle-down democracy will not work.

Capitalism has to turn everything it touches into a commodity: something that can be sold for a profit, the Holy Grail of capitalism. It's virtually the definition of capitalism. It is certainly its raison d'etre. Capitalists literally turn everything from necessities to luxuries into commodities: religion, war and even our health. The key commodity is labor and that's the core of this crisis. Over the last 30 to 40 years there has been an extraordinary increase in inequality in this society. From that has followed an explosion in credit in order for workers to live a "middle class" lifestyle. According to economist Robert Kuttner:
In 2006, for the sixth straight year, the U.S. economy grew at a decent rate - on average. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth was up by not quite 3 percent. But that comforting average conceals a widening gulf. For the vast majority of Americans, wages and salaries declined and economic life became less secure. Layoffs accelerated. Health insurance cost were shifted onto employees more and more. Pension coverage deteriorated. Reconciling work and family life became more of a struggle. The notable gains went to the top 10 percent, and most of that to the top 1 percent. Since 2000, median income, adjusted for inflation, has actually fallen by 5.4 percent for all families of working age, despite GDP growth of more than 18 percent. (The Squandering of America: How the Failure of our Politics Undermines our Prosperity)
I know it's always satisfying to blame Bush and certainly everything has gotten worse over the last eight years, but it's really a result of 40 years of growing inequality. That's the core of the current capitalist crisis. Labor is the most important commodity. Capitalists need to keep the cost of labor as low as possible.Kuttner puts it this way:
...though the trend [widening inequality] accelerated under [George W.] Bush, it actually started in the 1970s, when the postwar pattern of high growth producing more broadly shared prosperity went into reverse.
The Republicans know exactly who they work for: the same military-industrial complex that Ike warned us against in his farewell address. And that is what fascism is after all, isn't it? The military-industrial complex using the state to carry out its nefarious deeds . Unfortunately the Democrats are not at all as clear as the GOP about who they work for. They've supported the invasion of Iraq, the Wall Street "bailout" ( the greatest theft in American history), and gone along with almost every proto-fascist (anti-American) proposal put forward by Bush and the Republicans (yes that's a band, a band of thieves). So if capitalism collapses, who's going to stand-up for a progressive agenda? Perhaps for the moment a progressive capitalism is the better of the alternatives (I can't believe I really said that, did I?). But the real question is: what will this version of capitalism look like? In order to answer that question (even hypothetically) we have to look at how the problem began. But one thing needs to be emphasized first, capitalism is rife with contradictions and therefore it constantly tends toward crises. So the best the king can do with Humpty Dumpty is temporarily put him together (Humpty will almost surely fall off that wall again).

But meanwhile the two parties disagree about what course to follow to solve the current problem. The Republicans have either bought the trickle down supply-side mythology (more tax breaks for the rich) or are trying to use it to undermine Obama and the Democrats. (Or, as Ann said, both.) The Republicans know that if Obama can put Humpty together again, even if only for a while, they will be wandering in the political desert for more than 40 years. Or as Nobel laureate Paul Krugman said (NYT, 1/19/09):
Old-fashioned voodoo economics -- the belief in tax-cut magic -- has been banished from civilized discourse. The supply-side cult has shrunk to the point that it contains only cranks, charlatans and Republicans.
Although the immediate cause of the crisis was the explosion of credit and the effects of many borrowers' inability to repay those loans (toxic loans). And how the lending institutions tried to profit from this situation. And how administration after administration failed to police Wall Street.

Obama seems to understand the solution lies in putting people back to work so that they have money to spend. Despite Republican belief that as Reagan said: " In this present crisis Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem." Or as McCain and Palin ran around the country yelling at their campaign stops:" You know better how to spend your hard-earned money than the government does." The latest statistics belie that nonsense. At a time when only spending (and only the government can spend in the amounts necessary) will increase demand and create jobs, people are saving more and spending less, which is the opposite of what's necessary. It also seems to me a rejection of democracy (which is still a process wherein the people decide what they want and then hire people through elections to carry these wishes out) while the Republican ideology is anarchy or, perhaps, chaos rather than democracy.

What, it seems to me, has to emerge from all this "stimulus" discussion are several things: (1) a guaranteed job for every person who wants one. (2) Those jobs must provide workers with a wage that will entitle them to at least a "middle class" lifestyle. (3) Sufficient training/education so that they will be qualified for whatever work they want to do. (4) Excellent health care for all. This will put Humpty together again, at least until the contradictions of capitalism knock him off the wall again.

Grand Theft Auto?

Two New York Times headlines today (Wed.): (1) "Automakers Seek $14 Billion More." (2) "Grand Theft Auto Add-On." Irony?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Israel ready to launch attack on Iran?

According to Jason Koutsoukis, the Jerusalem-based correspondent for the Australian The Age (February 14, 2009):
A SENIOR Israeli diplomat has warned that Israel is ready to launch a military offensive against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.

In an interview with The Age, Dan Gillerman, who was Israel's permanent representative at the United Nations from 2003 until last September, said time for diplomatic efforts to stop Iran acquiring a nuclear capability might have already expired. Mr Gillerman said:
The world cannot afford to live with a nuclear Iran, I hope diplomacy will work, but I'm not sure we have the time for diplomacy to work.
Global Research responds to this sabre rattling with this:
The truth is that, after witnessing Israeli war crimes in Lebanon and in the illegally occupied Palestinian territories, the world cannot afford to live with nuclear Israel. As opposed to Iran, Israel has secretly developed hundreds of nuclear warheads and delivery weapons outside of any supervision by international community. Iran continues to run its nuclear program in cooperation with the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
That seems quite reasonable to me. It further seems to me the prudent thing to do would be to label Israel a terrorist state.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hampshire College divests from companies aiding Israel

In 1977, Hampshire College became the first in the nation to divest its South African holdings.

In 2009, Hampshire College has become the first in the nation to break financial ties with companies specifically because they do business with Israel. Although there is a difference between the college activists and the college itself, they are not really very far apart. Student activists at Hampshire College are hailing the decision to break financial ties with companies specifically because they do business with Israel. But the college denies the move was politically motivated. But, according to the Boston Globe,
[the] trustees [divested because they] concluded that the fund held stocks in more than 200 companies engaged in business practices that violated the college’s policy on 'socially responsible investments.' These violations included unfair labor practices, environmental abuse, military weapons manufacturing, and unsafe workplace settings, trustees said.
That seems to me like a more semantic difference than a real one. Also according to the Globe,
The six companies that formed the basis of the student group's complaints were: Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola, and Terex.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

McCain still knows very little about the economy

John McCain admitted to the Wall Street Journal in late November 2007: "I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated," .

Then in December of the same year he said, "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should," the Boston Globe reported on its "Political Intelligence" blog at the time.

It's clear from his recent comments on Obama's stimulation plan that nothing in his economics knowledge has changed. Here are a few of those recent comments;
$50 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts — all of us are for the arts, Tell me how that creates any significant number of jobs? After-school snack program is probably a good idea. Do we really want to spend $726 million on it?
I know that McCain is probably as ignorant about the arts as about economics. But Senator arts are created by people. Funding for the NEA employs visual artists, actors and other creative artists. But it also employs people in galleries, stagehands, ushers, box office personnel, and, Senator, sometimes even plumbers. People, Senator, also prepare and serve school lunches. Other people maintain the facilities. And others construct new facilities. But, of course, from some Republican points of view these are just work not jobs.
Here are more McCain words of economic wisdom:
The whole point, Mr. President, is to enact tax cuts and spending measures that truly stimulate the economy. There are billions and tens of billions of dollars in this bill which will have no effect within three, four, five or more years, or ever. Or ever.
Much could be said about this latest McCain economic lecture, but in addition to his ignorance he also obviously doesn't listen to what Obama actually says before he shoots off his mouth.

All this shows the wisdom of the American voters last November. And the lack thereof on the part of the Republicans in choosing their anti-Obama spokesperson.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Check out "Lost Untangled"

If you have any questions about last (Wed) night's Lost. Click here to watch Lost Untangled. It's done with figures who represent the actors. It's also quite funny. Even if you don't have any questions, it's worth watching.

Feb. 12: Frances Fox Piven on the current crisis

"Confronting the Crisis"
with Frances Fox Piven

Join NYC-UFPJ for a Peace and Justice cocktail party!

This party is a fundraiser for NYC-UFPJ. Tickets are $30. It will take place at the home of a supporter in Washington Heights. The address will be sent with a receipt of payment.

Wine and light refreshments will be served.

Purchase tickets here or by calling 212-868-5545.

On Sunday, February 22, 4:00 PM, Frances Fox Piven will analyze the political situation and will address what WE can do to advance the struggle for peace and social justice.

Frances Fox Piven, currently a professor at CUNY Graduate Center, is a noted academic and an activist who has long joined astute analysis of our social conditions with her engagement in the struggles of poor people for their human rights. She is the author of The War at Home - The Domestic Costs of Bush's Militarism and Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America among many other publications.

We are facing a period of heightened opportunity and challenge. Our country is in a profound crisis. But there is also still a sense of hope for change as well as the potential to engage the millions of people who helped get Obama elected. Dr. Piven's keen analysis is certain to stimulate discussion about how we, in the peace movement, can work with others to further our agenda.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Billionaire executive trashes Social security and medicare

According to Roger Hickey:
At a press conference today by Wall Street mogul Peter Peterson, he and his invited speakers informed Americans who are losing their jobs and homes in record numbers that our nation’s biggest problem is the national deficit—and that the solution is to cut Social Security and Medicare.
Who is Peter Peterson? Here's what Wikipedia has to say about him:
Peter George Peterson (born June 5, 1926) is an American businessman, investment banker, fiscal conservative, author, and politician whose most prominent political position was as United States Secretary of Commerce from February 29, 1972 to February 1, 1973. He was Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations until retiring on June 30, 2007, after being named chairman emeritus. He is the Senior Chairman of the private equity firm, the Blackstone Group. In 2008, he was ranked 149th on the "Forbes 400 Richest Americans" with a net worth of $2.8 Billion. In 2008, he established The Peter G. Peterson Foundation with a $1 billion endowment.
But the most important piece of information (besides his $2.8 billion net worth) is:
In 1951, he received an MBA degree from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, before returning to Market Facts as an executive vice president.
That, of course, was the height of the influence of Milton Friedman's laissez-faire economic theory at the University of Chicago. Laissez-faire is the basis of
monetary policy, taxation, privatization and deregulation [which has] informed the policy of [right-wing] governments around the globe, especially the administrations of Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Margaret Thatcher in Britain, Ronald Reagan in the US, Brian Mulroney in Canada, Roger Douglas in New Zealand, and (after 1989) in many Eastern European countries.
Or as Ronald Reagan more popularly put it: " In this present crisis Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Feb. 12: NYC Labor Chorus: Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Concert

Thursday Feb. 12, 2009, 8 PM
The Nave at Riverside Church
490 Riverside Dr. (at 120 St)

On the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln
Listen to The New York City Labor Chorus, The Riverside Inspirational Choir, The Chorus & Orchestra of the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College under the direction of Maestro Maurice Peress as thy perform
Earl Robinson's Cantata, The Lonesome Train .
Followed by Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring and Duke Ellington's Black, Brown and Beige

Ruby Dee will narrate The Lonesome Train
with special guest artist Eric Weissberg on banjo

$15 general admission; $10 seniors and children (12 and under)

Proceeds will benefit the Riverside Food Pantry

For advanced tickets please call (212) 870-6784 or
Ticketswill also be available at the door.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Feb. 9: BOOK PARTY & DISCUSSION: Halliburton's Army

Monday, Feb 9, 7:00 pm


Pratap Chatterjee

Halliburton's Army:
How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War

Brecht Forum
451 West Street
(bt Bank & Bethune Sts)

Sliding scale: $6/$10/$15
Free for Brecht Forum Subscribers

(Co-sponsor: Nation Books)
The New York launch of muckraker Pratap Chatterjee's brilliant expose of Halliburton, the Texas oil company that transformed how America wages war. Chatterjee will discuss the history of Halliburton’s government contracts, Dick Cheney's murky relationship with the company and how he used his Washington connections to orchestrate lucrative contracts in such trouble spots as Angola, Azerbaijan, Iran and Nigeria. As Chatterjee will demonstrate, the company’s fortunes are irrevocably linked to the war in Iraq. And even as it answers its critics and faces government audits, Halliburton continues to be the predominant U.S. government contractor in the Iraq.

Pratap Chatterjee is an award-winning investigative journalist and managing editor/program director of Corpwatch. He is the author of Iraq Inc. He has hosted a weekly radio show on KPFA, was global environment editor for Inter Press Service and has written for the Financial Times, the Guardian and the Independent. Chatterjee has also appeared on the BBC World Service, CNN International, Democracy Now!, Fox and MSNBC. He is a shareholder of both Halliburton and KBR. He is the winner of a Lannan Cultural Freedom Award and lives in Washington,
Phone: (212) 242-4201 - Email: brechtforum at