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Archives for February, 2011


Law and Disorder February 28, 2011


Updates:

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Chris Hedges – Death of the Liberal Class

We are pleased to have with us returning guest Chris Hedges. We talk with him about his new book Death of the Liberal Class. This scathing narrative cuts to heart of how the corporate state has claimed the liberal class as one of its victims.   Chris calls the liberal class ineffectual, out of touch with reality by not acknowledging that corporations have wrested power from citizens. The death of the liberal class means there is no check to a corporate apparatus designed to enrich a tiny elite that plunder the nation. The book lists the pillars of the liberal class that have been bought off with corporate money such as the media, the church, the university, the Democratic Party, the arts, and labor unions.  Chris describes these  harsh reality and sets them against the functions of a healthy liberal class in a traditional democracy.  Chris Hedges articles.

Chris Hedges:

  • The pillars of liberal establishment, liberal religious institutions, labor, public education, esp. public universities, culture, the press and finally the Democratic Party, which made incremental or piecemeal reform possible. – which watched out for the interest and the grievances of those outside of the narrow power elite – no longer function.
  • The term neo-liberalism is a reconfiguring of what it means to be a liberal in a democratic society.
  • We have figures like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Pelosi and others that continue to speak in those values but betrayed everyone of those values.
  • The subservience to Wall Street, the slavish catering to the permanent war economy, the failure to defend basic civil liberties, including habaes corpus. All of these have been embraces so that a liberal is ultimately on the core structural issues indistinguishable from a conservative.
  • The liberal class and liberal institutions are traditionally allowed to function in a capitalist democracy because when there is a crisis within the society the perform a formal channel or mechanism within power structure in which injustices can be alleviated.
  • The New Deal: perfect example of how the liberal class functions.
  • They have corporatized all of the pillars of the liberal establishment.
  • What kept the liberal class honest were these populist movements which held fast to moral imperatives.
  • Everything shifts in American society because you enter a culture of permanent war psychosis.
  • With the gradual coup, the corporations have carried out in the United States beginning with Reagan, accelerated by Clinton and Bush, and certainly further by Obama, we’re left powerless, we have no mechanism to fight back.
  • They understood that people were not moved to act primarily by fact or reason but could be manipulated through emotion. This is the result, we live in a society utterly saturated with lies.
  • The liberal class has been reduced the status of courtiers.
  • The corporate state is rapidly reconfiguring society into a form of neo-feudalism, where you have these speculators on Wall St earning 900 thousand dollars an hour, where you have families of four barely able to feed and sustain themselves and forget the ability to pay medical bills.
  • The elite institutions of education which charge astronomical sums essentially provide education for the elite, while we gut public education.
  • People are trained to work as cogs in the corporate structure. Inner city schools are turned into boot camps, that’s what charter schools are about, along with the ability to break teacher’s unions.
  • Everybody has there place, it solidifies a caste system. There’s no hope for escape. We are fed endless stories of few exceptions, to somehow make us think that we’re responsible for our own predicament.
  • It’s one of the most vicious things that have been visited upon the working class.
  • The liberal class is tolerated by the power elite because it castigated radicals. The figure that liberals hate most is not Glen Beck, it’s Noam Chomsky because calls out their cooperation with the power elite.
  • When the liberal class is discarded, that is how we can stand by passively as 3 million people are forced from their homes, through foreclosures and bank repossessions last year, and another 3 million this year and do nothing.
  • As these grievances mount, there is no mechanism within the structures of power or traditional institutions by which these injustices can be ameliorated.
  • They become expressed in these very frightening proto-facist movements, such as the Tea Party or demagogues like Glen Beck or Sarah Palin who give legitimacy to this anger, rage and sense of betrayal.
  • Part of their anger is directed at government and cleverly deflected away from Wall Street but at liberals. Not wrongly, the hypocrisy of the liberal class, is readily apparent from those on low end of the economic spectrum.
  • I think we should begin to engage in acts of civil disobedience because we are the last thin line of defense between a complete collapse of society.
  • The only thing we have left are physical acts of non-violence. I think its extremely important that we stop living with the illusion that we’re going to reform the Democratic Party.

Guest – Chris Hedges, American journalist, author, and war correspondent, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and societies. His most recent book is ‘Death of the Liberal Class (2010). Hedges is also known as the best-selling author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. A quote from the book was used as the opening title quotation in the critically-acclaimed and Academy Award-winning 2009 film, The Hurt Locker. The quote reads: “The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”

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Federal and State Budget: Economic Analysis

We welcome returning guest Economics professor Rick Wolff. A lot of his current writing and lectures can be found at Rdwolff.net. In one of his latest articles, The Revenge of Trickle Down Economics: Differences between Democrats and Republicans, he says both are committed to a broken, corrupt system. Rick also points out that the US government plans to spend about 3.5 trillion dollars from the federal budget to shore up a dangerously slumped economy while collecting 2 trillion dollars in tax revenue – which will leave a deficit of 1.5 trillion.
Meanwhile the Democrats and Republicans debate over spending cuts that are around 40 to 60 billion. Rick says the debate is inconsequential,  when the federal budget’s projected deficit of $1.5 trillion will carry an annual interest cost of $40-60 billion. We get an update on the budget, the current economic conditions in the United States and discuss  possible alternatives with Professor Rick Wolff.

Professor Rick Wolff:

  • As the government continued to borrow in record amounts never before seen except in war time. The question was never asked, if the government is borrowing like crazy how it going to manage to pay the interest costs.
  • Here we are a couple years later and the problem has arrived.  The government now faces rising costs to cover this debt, to free up money, cut spending, lay off people, and cut programs. That money is given to the people who lent the money.
  • In the United States it’s mostly large corporations and wealthy individuals.
  • The money they lent to the government, let’s remember is the money the government didn’t tax from them.
  • Then you see the debate of who do you cut.
  • What’s off the table is the question of taxing the people who’ve become wealthy in the last 30 years. Who have profited from the stock market booms, and the stock market recoveries.  You might say those folks owe a little bit to bail us out of a national crisis.
  • In every city, the economic crisis is the key. Employed people don’t earn income tax because they don’t earn income.  People who are losing their houses aren’t buying very much so the sales tax goes down.
  • The governments either have to tax corporations or the rich, OR they can start cutting.
  • What you have in Wisconsin is the extreme version of that. Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, New Jersey
  • The decision to cut is a decision taken without debating the alternative that’s available which is to tax the wealthy and the business community.
  • Taxing the rich: You’d only have to bring the taxes back to where they were, not raise them above any historic level. The greed and the power of the corporations is so obvious, that they’ve gotten not even to be debated.
  • The elected officials of this country act as if it weren’t there.
  • During WWII the corporate sector contributed 50 percent more in taxes than what individuals were asked to pay.  Now, individuals pay four times more into the federal government than the entire corporate income tax.
  • All the Republicans and Democrats are debating is how much and who to cut.
  • But the decision of whether to cut is always there. The American people are finally discovering that what they thought happens elsewhere, what they thought couldn’t happen here has arrived.
  • We have two political parties performing an obvious theater that has no relevance to the actuality that they’re dealing with.
  • There is no disagreement on the larger picture which is bailout the corporations, don’t tax the rich, put the burden on the mass of people, keep borrowing like there’s no tomorrow.
  • It’s a 30 year process we’re coming to the end of, of squeezing people and moving wealth upward.  When you add to that a sudden serious crisis, you’re pushing the people in the middle and the bottom over the edge.

Guest –  Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. He also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan.

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Law and Disorder February 21, 2011


Updates:

Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S War on Iraq – Dr. Scott Bonn

The attacks of 9/11 led to a war on Iraq, although there was neither tangible evidence that the nation’s leader, Saddam Hussein, was linked to Osama bin Laden nor proof of weapons of mass destruction. How then was propaganda and distortion used to garner support for the invasion of Iraq?  Dr. Scott Bonn has a few theories, in his new book, Mass Deception: Moral Panic and US War on Iraq.  Bonn introduces a unique, integrated and interdisciplinary theory called “critical communication.”  We talk more with Scott A. Bonn, assistant professor of sociology at Drew University.  Dr Bonn teaches courses in criminology, deviance and research methods.

Professor Scott Bonn:

  • Moral Panic: a criminological concept established by Stan Cohen. An exaggerated public response and policy initiative,  the media go along for the ride.
  • The crux of it is that the people become almost dependent on the elites.
  • I was listening to the war drums pounding in 2001, 2002 and early 2003.  “Timing is everything, from a marketing view you don’t introduce new products over the summer.” – President Bush, White House Chief of Staff
  • Terminology entered the public airwaves, mad men, mad dog, evil doers, tied to imagery of 9/11.
  • I looked at the rhetoric of the Bush Administration, and then I looked at public opinion polls. Public opinion mirrored the rhetoric.
  • “Critical communication” has its foundation in Chomsky’s notion of manufacturing consent, and looking at the research of during the dawn of the Nazi party.
  • In the modern world, oppression can seem subtle, attractive and entertaining. Music, film and poetry actually can be forms of oppression if there are lies being disseminated.
  • Part of my book is that we don’t get fooled again. Let’s be critical consumers.
  • Let’s not drink the tainted kool-aid of hatred and fear without questioning what the motives of the server are.
  • 90 percent of the world’s media outlets are controlled by six conglomerates.
  • There’s ample evidence that “they” knew there were no stockpiles of mass destruction.
  • I worked in advertising, I worked at NBC, I was actually vice president at NBC. It was exactly that experience that gave me a first hand view of exactly how news is created.  It’s only news because some who has the power decides that it is.
  • As a society were not critical, scrutinizing and intellectual. There’s a tendency to passively accept what we’re told. Axis of Evil was reducing something that was highly complex, making it a lie.
  • The next time we’re told we must respond to an iminent threat and we must act on it, we must ask why?
  • Is there any objective indication that there is a threat?

Guest – Dr. Scott Bonn, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.  He combines the knowledge and skills of an academic scholar with more than twenty years of senior-level corporate experience as an advertising and media executive.  Bonn has developed a unique, integrated, and interdisciplinary theory called “critical communication” to explain how and why political elites and the news media periodically create public panics that benefit both parties.  Facebook link

A Strange Stirring:  The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the l960s

A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the l960s” is the title of Stephanie Coontz’s new book.  It’s based on postwar gender roles and nearly 200 interviews with women and men who read Betty Friendan’s The Feminine Mystique in 1963.  The Feminine Mystique is a passionate account of “the problem with no name” the malaise, emptiness and frustration afflicting white middle class wives and mothers in a time of post war abundance.

Stephanie Coontz:

  • There were so many myths of who Betty Friedan was and she contributed to it herself.
  • Daniel Horowitz did a book her own political history. She was a star psychology student at Smith.
  • She has already developed her critique of Freudiasim which was so prevalent those days.
  • She didn’t invent the “feminine mystique.” Physicians had a name for it, the housewives syndrome.
  • You have been denied access of any sort of meaning in your own life.
  • The Feminine Mystique sold 3 million copies.
  • I have 188 interviews with men and women who read the book. I had to winnow it down to 188 because I kept getting calls and emails from people who swore that they read the book.
  • When you went to college in the 1920s you were already defined in your role as a woman.
  • What’s wrong with me that I don’t feel more grateful for my priviledges?
  • Telling yourself that you don’t have the right to be unhappy, doesn’t solve it, it turns it in to that kind of depression. Incredible discrimination against working women. You could get fired if you got married, turned 30 or were in the airline industry.
  • Stay at home housewives didn’t have rights either, there were only 8 states that recognized a wife’s interest in the property or earnings that her husband accumulated.
  • One of the big triumphs of feminism is that much of Friedan’s book is so dated.
  • Today, young women in their twenties in metropolitan areas out earn men because they have more education.
  • Young men as you know are falling behind. Cross cutting currents of inequality that are much more complex.
  • The women that are having the most difficult time are the women that would prefer to be homemakers but have had to take a low quality job and whose husbands do not help out at home.
  • The happiest women are the ones that prefer to work, have a high quality job and a husband that helps out at home.
  • There are things in Betty Friedan’s book I find repellent. I find her failure to deal with her own elitism very disconcerting, but she is not a me-first individualist.

Guest - Stephanie Coontz, teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. She also serves as Co-Chair and Director of Public Education at the Council on Contemporary Families, a non-profit, nonpartisan association of family researchers and practitioners based at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work has been featured in many newspapers such as The New York Times, as well as scholarly journals such as Journal of Marriage and Family.

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Law and Disorder February 14, 2011


Mexico’s Revolution Then and Now

Mexico’s Revolution Then and Now is the title of Jim Cockcroft’s new book. It’s described as the perfect introductory text to the subject, providing readers the historic context within which the Mexican revolution occurred, how the process played out in the past ten decades and where it is today among Mexico’s workers. Jim examines the tensions between the rulers and the ruled inside the country while also exploring tensions with the United States. The prospect of Mexico’s disenfranchised rising up is kept alive and we discuss those possibilities with the author today. A historian and activist, Jim has written 45 books on Latin America. He’s a professor at the State University of New York and is a member of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five.

Dr James D Cockcroft:

  • You should understand Michael, that Mexico has had a long history of the US meddling in its internal affairs.
  • Direct military intervention, direct military conquest of half the country.
  • There’s a record of the US sponsoring torture and training torturers that goes all the back to the US torturers that goes all the way back to the US-Mexico War of 1846-48.
  • What’s really involved is oil, water, natural resources, and cheap labor power.
  • What does the US do about it? It first of all gets rid of the old government, the longest ruling single party in the history of human kind, the PRI in 2000 by supporting the more conservative option to that government.
  • the PAN, the Party of National Action which has governed Mexico from 2000 to the present.
  • A government by, of and for big business.  US imperialism has a very direct goal to annex Mexico economically which is partially done already and if need be militarily occupy it.
  • Propaganda: Mexico is a failed state and that there are these narco gangs cutting off people’s heads and killing civilians.
  • It’s a state of failed law. It’s a very successful state as a puppet of US goals.
  • The Narco gangs, some of them are actually integrated in the Mexican government.
  • The vast majority of the 34 thousand killed, civilians mostly, in four years of this current illegitimate government. Feminicide and youthicide, to be female or young in Mexico is to be criminal.
  • It’s a fake war (war on drugs) always has been for about 30 or 40 years.
  • Follow the dollar. Where does the laundered money end up? In the hands of the 6th largest banks in America.
  • The bailout of the banks is chicken feed compared to what’s really saving the banks, drug money.
  • Obama was wrong in his State of the Union speech, the United States is only number one militarily.
  • That’s why you have a return to dirty wars, militarization, military coups in Latin America.
  • Mexican 1917 Constitution establishes that oil and other natural resources belong to the nation, not the private corporations.  We have to take the banks out of the hands of the bankers, and take the factories out of the hands of the industrialists and let the people run them.
  • The Mexico state is a fascist state in the broad sense of the word. The first thing a fascist does is crush labor.
  • But labor is resisting and that’s what is so dynamic about Mexico today. The movement’s alive but it’s being repressed.
  • I’m a member of 2 civil society international tribunals. Trade Union Freedom, the Conscience of the Movement of People.
  • Mexico is the key to the future of Latin America.

Guest – Dr. James D. Cockcroft - A bilingual award-winning author of 45 books on Latin America, US hidden history, culture, migration, and human rights, (Ph.D., Stanford University) is Internet professor for the State University of New York. A bilingual poet, three-time Fulbright Scholar, and Honorary Editor of Latin American Perspectives, he serves on the Coordinadora Internacional de Redes en Defensa de la Humanidad, the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, and civil society’s Benito Juárez Tribunal (vice-president, 2005) that judged U.S. terrorism against Cuba and International Tribunal of Trade Union Freedom (2009-10) that judged Mexico for its violations of labor and human rights. A Canadian immigrant, he is a member of the UNESCO-sponsored World Council of the José Martí World Solidarity Project, la Table de Concertation de Solidarité Québec-Cuba, la Société Bolivarienne du Québec, la Base de Paix Montréal, le Comité Fabio Di Celmo pour les 5, and the Canada-Cuba Literary Alliance.

Gaza In Crisis:  Reflections on Israel’s War Against the  Palestinians, by  Ilan Pappé

We listen to excerpts from a speech plus question and answers from acclaimed Israeli New Historian Ilan Pappe. Ilan Pappé surveys the fallout from Israel’s conduct in Gaza and places it in the context of Israel’s longstanding  occupation of Palestine. Israel’s Operation Cast Lead thrust the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip into the center of the debate about the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Speaker – Ilan Pappé is professor of history at the University of Exeter in the UK, where he is also co-director of the Exeter Center for Ethno-Political studies, and director of the Palestine Studies Centre. He is author of the bestselling The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oneworld), A History of Modern Palestine (Cambridge), The Israel/Palestine Question (Routledge). Ilan is also a long-time political activist.

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Law and Disorder February 7, 2011


Updates:

New Vatican Rules On Handling Priest Sexual Abuse Cases

Earlier this year, the Vatican had revised its laws making it easier to discipline sex abuser priests. The new internal of the Vatican will use faster judicial procedures instead of full ecclesiastical trials. Critics of the revisions, say the Vatican merely tweaked the process and the new rules don’t hold bishops accountable for abuse by priests on their watch or require that they report the sexual abuse to the authorities. In the same report was the inclusion that attempting to ordain women as priests was comparable to heresy, apostasy and pedophilia. To many it was a comparison meant to resist any suggestion that pedophilia can be addressed by ending the requirement of celibacy.

Barbara Blaine:

  • SNAP is now a worldwide movement of survivors. We invite supporters join us, we have approximately 10 thousand survivors.  Some are spouses and family members but most are survivors; survivors of sexual abuse by priests or other clergy members.  Sometimes by religious brothers, by nuns, deacons even bishops.
  • We grew in 2002 and 2003 as the headlines were exploding of abuse by priests.
  • We have support group meetings in the United States in about 65 different cities. We were extremely naive, not to mention wounded trying to figure out how to make it from day to day. Its empowering for us if we can protect someone who is 12 or 13 from being abused.
  • Some documents was released in 2009 in Ireland. Those were the result of government investigations into the allegations of priests and other religious figures sexually abusing children.  Victims across Europe, in Germany and Belgium, Austria, Netherlands, England began speaking out and reporting their abuse. In Ireland at the end of 2009, four bishops were resigning their positions.
  • From our perspective, what comes out of the Vatican is a lot of lofty words and empty promises. If you look for concrete action, you’ll see very little if any.  We as victims are devout Catholics and its really incredible for us to comprehend that someone in the position of authority in the church would not want us to be protected.
  • It was heartbreaking and devastating to learn the policy of the church officials is to protect the predators and their assets and their reputations, not the children.
  • They’re accountable to no one and its okay for them to continue and commit these crimes.
  • The vast majority of victims still do not report. More than 5 thousand priests have been identified are sexual offenders who have abused children between 1950 and 2008.
  • 5 percent of priests abusing children. When someone rapes a child they get fired, in the church they get promoted. SNAPnetwork.org / bishopaccountability.org


Attorney Pam Spees:

  • We joined a conversation with SNAP looking for ways to insure accountability for what’s going on.
  • Is there a legal framework that gets at the widespread nature of this. There’s one book out that discusses the 2000 year old paper trail of sexual abuse in the church.
  • You’ll hear things like a cardinal or a pope attempt to make an apology. They’re sorry for what happened to these folks. It didn’t just happen.
  • It shows the lack of attention and lack of awareness of the gravity of what’s going on and a prioritization of the church protecting itself and its power, rather than insuring the protection of the kids in the church and others who are vulnerable to abuse by priests.
  • It also looks like an attempt to decentralize the responsibility. There are key legal experts who have discussed this as crimes against humanity.
  • These are acts that are committed as a widespread or systematic assault or attack on the civilian population.
  • When you’re talking about the massive sustained harm that is being caused here and the lack of awareness and acknowledgment. . it’s really astonishing.
  • The International Criminal Court is a possible venue that has jurisdiction on crimes against humanity.
  • The Church can’t be trusted to police itself.

Guest – Pam Spees, senior staff attorney in the international human rights program at the Center for Constitutional Rights. She has a background in international criminal and human rights law with a gender focus, as well as criminal trial practice

Guest –  Barbara Blaine,  founder of  SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the nation’s oldest and largest self-help organization for victims of clergy sexual abuse.

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38 years since Roe v. Wade

The politics of abortion continue to divide the country as nearly 38 years have passed since the Roe v Wade decision. January 22, marks the landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court to legalize abortion. Tens of thousands of women have been saved from death and serious injury since abortion became legal in 1973.

Will legal abortions be attacked by the new Congress?  Representative John Boehner and 50 supporters seek to codify the Hyde Amendment with The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.  Listeners may remember our interview with Rhonda Copelon who filed a nationwide class action lawsuit that stopped Hyde from taking effect in 1976 which would prohibit Medicaid funded abortions for poor women.

Both sides of this controversial issue will be heard during this anniversary, meanwhile the longstanding clash between anti-choice people and abortion clinics continue. In a Bronx abortion clinic for example, police and National Lawyers Guild legal observers monitor the threats against escorts or anyone interfering with those going into the clinic.

Betty Maloney:

  • It’s been over five years that the clinic has been attacked by the right wing.
  • The groups that are out there are funded by Chris Slattery, he runs about 26 crisis pregnancy centers, false clinics throughout the different boroughs and also by the Catholic Church.
  • There are religious rightists out there, praying, harassing, yelling at women as they enter the clinic, and also yelling at their partners as they enter the clinic.
  • They yell, “you’re not a real man.”  “We have alternatives.”
  • They particularly target the Bronx. It’s a poor neighborhood. It’s the outer boroughs.
  • New York Coalition for Abortion Clinic Defense
  • There is a clinic access law and they’re supposed to stay behind barricades, 15 feet away.
  • Dr Emily’s Clinic there have been situations where they (protestors) have changed womens’ minds.
  • We have vests on that indicate we’re escorts. We also act as a guard by putting ourselves between them (the right wing) and the women. We try really not to engage them.
  • Franciscan Monks will say you’re out here because you’re angry and never been loved by a real man. Radical Women – 212-222-0633
  • We’re out there every Saturday from 8AM to NOON.
  • Congress failed by only one vote to sterilize all Japanese women that were interned.

Cristina Lee:

  • I’ve been doing legal observing at the clinic for 6 months. The police are very hands off.
  • We’ve also seen officers who’ve been very very chummy with the anti-choice activists.
  • It doesn’t take much for them to say, you need to be 15 feet back, and they won’t even do that.
  • We have legal observers go to clinic to observe how the police are enforcing the laws, are they enforcing the laws. Franciscan Monks go not just to object but are very abusive verbally.
  • It’s not something that’s happening in the mid West.
  • If you want to get involved as an escort you can go the New City Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

Guest – Cristina Lee, law student and National Lawyers Guild legal observer.

Guest - Elizabeth Maloney, member of Radical Women and led a delegation of Radical Women members to Jackson Mississippi to defend the last abortion clinic.  In 1984, the group had helped to get the first conviction of a fire bomber.

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