Thursday, September 30, 2004 

Ninotchka Rosca

The Women's Coordinating Council at the University of Tennessee is brining Ninotchka Rosca, International Spokesperson of the very awesome GABRIELA Network, to campus this coming Tuesday, October 5 at 7pm. Her talk will focus on the sex-trade in the Philippines, and will take place in the University Center Auditorium.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004 

Happy Birth Day Fred

Today is 184th anniversary of Fredrick Engles' birth.


In the news

This story was on USA Today's front page. Evidentially, all relivant information as to why members of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) would rather be classified as AWOL then be shipped to Iraq can be said in a mere 437 words.

Also, contrary to claims by Bill O'Reily that viewers of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart are nothing more than "stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night," Nielsen Media Research has found that Jon Stewart's audience is more likely to have completed four years of college than people who watch "The O'Reilly Factor." Although no statistics were available for the number of viewers who watch The Daily Show stoned, the finding must remind us of our political task of pulling folks with "less education" (read: working class folks and folks in the South) away from the Savages and O'Reilys.


Priceless artifacts stolen from Aztec ruins, available at all Walblogs

Walmart has begun construction of a 71,902-square-foot store with 236 parking places located merely a mile away from the Teotihuacán ruins. Local folks, especially local producers and merchants (read: most of the people who live there), see this as a major afront to their way of life, mostly due to the fact that it is. The area being used by the store is not only an ejido, it is also supposedly protected as an archaeological site. The whole story is here.

Monday, September 27, 2004 

10 Degrees to the Left of Center in Good Times, 10 Degrees to the Right of Center if it Affects Them Personally

This shit came to the Progressive Student Alliance's email account and was forwarded to Knoxnet - take the wackiest folks on Counterpunch, throw in the editor of the Socialist Worker and the add all the rightwing democrat-activists you know (the party needs to be more active, but not too radical sort) and you have some idea of what it is. Michael is its moderator.
Message From Stacey Diamond
I am not going back to PSA, sadly, because they seem to have a big group this year. One, a new guy was there who had very good points and he wasn't familiar with the "process". I couldtell by the look on his face, like 3 times, he was in the middle of talking about very good announcements he had and was cut off and told it wasn't time for that on the "agenda." They could have cut a new guy some slack. The next problem and Michael you are guilty of doing this too, unless you can afford to buy someone a new car you DO NOT in any way shape or form tell them they need to "save money" what money??? to get a new emission, muffler or whatever for there car. How can a group that is supposed to be looking out for the common man/woman be so rude to new people and make such stupid remarks about one's ability to get a new car. Talk to TVA's Bill Baxter, who thinks global warming is a myth if you want to talk about pollution and chill out about the "process" now and then.
Just to be clear, the PSA is not a centrist organization, or even a broad united front of all who identify as left of the ultra-conservative forces on campus. We are however a united front of progressive persons on campus, and gladly welcome people into our non-sectarian midst so long as they play nice in that aforementioned coalition. Moreover, we take the job of getting over the humps that many traditional "leftists" in this country have refused to tackle, sometimes even recognize as serious issues. Among them would certainly be issues of gender, race, nationality and sexuality. PSA promotes an environment of inclusion of those that the rest of society systematically dehumanizes and sees the great value of their thoughts despite the fact that our larger society devalues such opinions in numerously complex ways every day.

One of the key ways we do this is by enforcing a feminist process. For those unclear on what is meant by this, I'll keep it simple. Oppression doesn’t rectify itself. So Patriarchy = boys get taught to speak up, that they are important, smart and have valuable ideas, while on the flip side girls are taught that they are valuable because they can do needed things - like uncompensated domestic and reproductive labor, or cleaning up after the meeting - but not important enough to receive training equal to that visited upon their male counterparts in the skills of debate, critical thinking, writing, and leadership. Racism works in similarly insidious ways, identifying one’s ethnic or racial background as “other” and reinforcing the dehumanization forced upon the less powerful group on a daily basis. Rigid sex roles and gender norms stigmatize queer folk as deviant perverts for having extremely natural and universal feelings of attraction and love. Let me pause to point out that this is not to say that women cannot be good leaders, or that gay folks cannot have a healthy, meaningful sex lives. Resistance is always present in the face of oppression, but the dominant meta-narrative would have us believe that all problems have been corrected – we are at the end of history you know – and that these occurrences are just the natural way of the world.

It is on this point that the PSA’s message and the dominant ideology differ greatly because 1) we recognize that these phenomena are real, 2) that they interact to create a complex and needed web of social stratification, and 3) the baggage these phenomena create is not left at the door when folks - both the privileged and those with the lived experience of societal oppression - walk into a "progressive" meeting. So when a new white guy decides that the ice-breaker should focus on flyers he's printed out instead of something personal about every other person in the room, or shares a really long personal story during a go around on a completely unrelated matter, or has 4 announcements about what he wants people in the room to do with/for him outside of the meeting to get his egomaniacal rocks off, he's gonna be told to shut the fuck up and other people are going to get a chance to speak.

Right-wing populists (back in the day we called them fascists) everywhere would be proud of Stacey's charge that members of the PSA are "elitist." A wheel tax or worse yet emission testing would oppress working people, but a complete lack of viable public transportation isn't a working class issue. Asthma isn't a working class issue. The American machista culture which dictates that working class men “needing” gas guzzling pick-up trucks isn't an issue of importance for the working class. The billions being made off of an oil industry that keeps car manufacturing tied to the nearly ancient (the 1880s right?) technology of the internal combustion engine has nothing to do with bourgeois hegemony. There is no intersection between working people's struggles and the struggles for sound environmental policy and sustainable development. Just as there is no intersection between class, race, gender and sexuality.

Wrong. Capitalism is a complex, multilayered, interwoven social superstructure that is constantly in flux, and its methods and justifications are not sacred, they are convenient. So are these arguments against the PSA. Sure there are going to be problems holding together a multi-foci coalition when not everyone comes to the table because PSA is a feminist or anti-racist or pro-worker or anti-war group. But if a complex ideology of liberation, an imerging hegemonic perspective if you will, cannot be offered to and shaped by progressive intellectuals – the S does stand for Student you know – then where the hell can one be forged? So you keep pitching your single issue ideology and maybe we won't loose all the gains folks have had to die for before my kids are in high school, but in the meantime fuck you 'cause we're gonna keep building a social movement that can actually challenge for power in ways that have the potential for real change.

Friday, September 24, 2004 

Update: "But if Dan Rather got on the evening news..."

Evidentially, preventing television viewers in the Knoxville area from making our own decisions about 60 Minutes' story on Bush's National Guard Service was not enough for Chris Baker and others at W.V.L.T. "Volunteer" T.V. As I was poking around their website, I ran across this statement, which I would imagine has also been read on air.

Coincidentally (probably not), I only saw the letter after taking their online poll entitled: "Which candidate would Osama bin Laden choose for President?" I guess one way to mount a come back when trying to increase your abysmal market share is to pimp the Bush-Cheney talking points. Those that know me well understand how hard it is for me to see Channel 8 start/continue down this path towards the dark side.

When I first moved off campus my T.V. would only pick up one station: trusty, quaint Channel 8. Whether I liked it or not, I got Carol Burnett, Home Improvement and Andy- "Ain't no people-of-color in North Carolina" - Griffith every afternoon. To make matters worse I had just torn my MCL in a bizarre accident while moving out of my dormitory, so needless to say "Volunteer" T.V. and I got to know each other really well. It got to the point that one could name a day of the week and a time and I would know what show would be airing.

I guess I still have The NewsHour...for the time being, anyways.

Thursday, September 23, 2004 

This day in movement history

Today marks the 35 anniversary of the "Chicago 8" (7) trial. Following the "Czechago" police riot during the Democratic Convention in 1968, eight activists were put on trial for conspiracy to cross state lines to incite a riot. Among them were members of Students for a Democratic Society, Abbie Hoffman's Yippees and Bobby Seale of the Black Panther Party (formerly known as the BPP for Self Defense).

Seale demanded that he be allowed to defend himself, a move blocked by the judge. When Seale persisted in his attempt, he was gagged and tied to a chair in the court room. In the end the defendants and their attorneys were found guilty of 175 counts of contempt of court, and six of the eight were found guilty of itent to riot. All criminal convictions and most of the contempt charges were later overturned.

The trial showed both the lengths to which the state was wiling to go in order to persecute the Black liberation and New Left movements as well as movement activists' ability to turn a bad situation into a platform to push the message of US withdrawal from Viet Nam.


No Michael Moore for Cal State?

In an interesting, yet wholly commonplace turn of events, the administration at California State, San Marcos is riding rough-shod over a decision by the student government to bring "controversial" filmmaker Michael Moore to campus. The schools President KAren Haynes claimed that Moore's stated political goals make him ineligible to receive state money for any speaking engagement before November 2 and released this statement.

Segments of the university community are naturally pissed off, and rightly so. They are demanding that the University's administration change its mind, but have raised over $37,000 (the part of Moore's bill Cal State was going to pick up) through donations from the community to bring him even if the school refuses to come around. Even with the money, it is still unclear if Moore will be showing up. The populist firebrand has expressed major reservations in coming, pointing to the Haynes administration's disregard for principles of Free Speech and democratic institutions within institutes of higher education as major obstacles for any visit.

This all seems like either moderate pro-bush posturing on the part of the school's administration or (legitimate) fear of being "terminated" by Sacramento. Either way, Moore's "I won't come unless the school pays for it" stance seems a little off to me. I know that some people on the left just like to throw criticism in his direction , but the man can be pretty fucking arrogant at times. And as much as I like and respect what he is able to do, this latest thing seems like another example of Moore's me-centric world view.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004 

Six Reasons why Paul Sturdivant should be strung up Fallujah style

I really try to steer clear of the Daily Beacon as much as possible. Sure I might read some of the left leaning columnists from time to time, and I will read any forward of a story about campus activism. But at the end of the day my mental health is better off if I pretend that the inane views presented in what is (despite glorious efforts by its most wonderful editor - seriously) a read conservative shit rag.

But much like a dry drunk, I sometimes find myself reading it, not knowing why, how, or even where I got the copy from. Usually it takes a swift kick in the ass from some racist and or sexist asshole to jolt me out of my falling-off-the-bar-stool-but-asking-for-another-round trance.

Well, unbeknownst to me one of the left leaning columnists wrote this article on Monday. Pretty straight forward - I don't like the use of "Hispanic" and I think there in something intrinsically racist about the use of the term "minorities" in American public discourse, especially when talking about the first nations as "minorities," but these are differences I have with definitions used in the broad discourse, not the author himself (note difference between "minorities" and national minorities). When it comes to the crux of his column, I think that he hits the nail on the head by explaining the importance of racism in the development of America.

Like I said before, this article wasn't even on my radar screen until I grabbed the Beacon on my way back from lunch and masochistically flipped to the Letter to the Editor section. It was there that I found this gem:

Playing victim 'bad' for America
Dear Editor,
Six reasons Jeff Cohran's Monday column "Ethnic bias persists, spotlights another minority group" is wrong and bad for America:
1. Settlers did not understand the impact of germs on an indigenous Native population. The death of natives was largely accidental.
2. Manifest destiny was a term used to justify political expenditure to purchase lands west of the Mississippi from foreign nations.
3. Many Americans appreciate the hard-working hispanics in this nation. The problem arises because of pay issues due to the Democrats' ridiculous minimum wage requirements.
4. White Americans had nothing to do with the slave trade until late in the game. Get mad at the Dutch and the Portuguese if you want to complain.
5. You are not more a slave than I am. Don't you dare ask me to give you anything, especially "reparations."
6. Where are the Muslim leaders coming out against the pointless killing of democracy-seeking Iraqis?
You must stop playing the victim.

Paul Sturdivant
Sophomore in political science

It is somewhat difficult to pick a place to begin when responding to such mouth diarrhea, so point 1 seems as logical a place as any. As early as the French and Indian war British general Jeffery Amherst was directing his subordinates to cause small pox outbreaks among native populations sympathetic to the French using the blanket method. Not to take Mr. Sturdivant's words out of context, but "the death of natives was largely accidental" is a pretty universal statement, a statement that crumbles under pressure faster than a 60 Minutes story. The wars conducted by the US Army upon both the Sioux and Cheyenne nations completly disprove this statement; and we don't even need to get started on Columbus in the Caribbean, Cortez in Mexico, or Andrew Jackson in the US Southeast.

Turning to point 3, I think that Mr. Sturdivant's racist overtones are apparent and not worth dignifying with a response. However, as a person deeply concerned about wages and national trends that show major declines of real wages since the 1970s, I suggest that Mr. Sturdivant reconsider this hobby of "liberal" bashing; and acknowledge that the only reason global capitalism survived the 1930s, let alone the 20 century was because of liberal economic policies that both prevented all out collapse and repaired some of the damage cause by inherent contradictions and instability found in the market economies he and his ilk hold so dear.

Finally, I have to admit that points 4 and 5 make me a little sick to my stomach. I think that we need to start with definitions. The *transatlantic slave trade* began in late 1492 with Columbus kidnapping a half dozen Anawak people and the trade in stolen Africans had almost completely ended by the 1890s. So I guess if he is trying to make the point that *America* only participated for 100 years in a practice that lasted for 400 years, I might be able to find a sliver of truth in his claim that "white Americans had nothing to do with the slave trade until late in the game." However, such an argument does ignore the hundreds of thousands of British Pounds the Massachusetts puritans made off the trade, the millions made in the sale of tobacco sown and harvested by African slaves, and lived experience of the millions of Africans and their descendants who worked for nothing during the primitive accumulation of American capital.

You know, I am a Dave Chapelle fan and something about Mr. Sturdivant's tone reminds me of a clip from Chapelle's Show, Season One. Dave goes on this episode of the Phil Donahue show titled "Angry White Men," which features, as you might have guessed, white men bitching about how angry they are. Following the clip Dave Chapelle said "I didn't know what to do, I mean do I just strangle somebody or what?" So I have to pose that question, when it comes to mother fuckers like Paul Sturdivant do we just strangle somebody, or what?

Friday, September 17, 2004 

Movie happenings

Has anyone else felt like Mao Tse-Tung has been getting more (much deserved) attention recently? The last two issues of the Monthly Review have both had good articles on China and Mao - the entire July/August issue was devoted to the subject and the September issue had a great article by William Hinton on Mao's importance.

Well Knoxville people, listen up. Next Wednesday at 3:30pm Carma Hinton, Bill Hinton's daughter, will be screening her film Morning Sun in Hodges Library's Auditorium. The film presents what seems to be a rather critical view of the Cultural Revolution in China from the perspectives of its participants. I've heard that there's a possibility of her presenting a paper or at least leading a round table discussion. I'll post if any other tidbits come my way.

Thursday, September 16, 2004 

"But if Dan Rather got on the evening news..."

So I am sure that folks have heard all about the CBS 60 Minutes insipred controversy over whether or not Bush received preferential treatment during his tenure in the Texas and later Alabama National Guard.

Last night on 60 Minutes, Dan Rather continued this story. Based on what I've read, it sounds like the story was pretty damaging, especially the interview with the now deceased Lt. Con.'s secretary Marian Carr Knox. I say "based on what I've read" because although I was at UT's Progressive Student Alliance's weekly meeting I would not have been able to watch it even if I had been home. Why, you might be asking. Because the local CBS affiliate decided to move the nationally syndicated popular news program to 2:05 a.m playing sitcoms and a made for TV movie in its place, that’s why. This link will take you to the station's weekly program guide. Please note that next week's schedule has 60 Minutes II at its normal time, and it is not reshown at 2:05 the following morning.


Eagles, update

Although I ought to be secretly reading John Hope Franklin's From Slavery to Freedom at my desk before my test in just over an hour, I'm finally finding time to post something. The car has been broke down since last Friday and I think that people are really starting to get tired of driving my ass to and from work.

Hope folks got a chance to catch McNabb, Owens and crew in action against the NY Giants during last Sunday's season opener. If you missed McNabb's wonderful 26 completions out of 36 pass attempts for 330 yards, 4 touchdowns, and zero interceptions (you listening to that Payton?) or Owens's 2 touchdowns on his first two receptions, I'm sorry. More enjoyable, perhaps, than seeing the Eagles offense decimate the Giants was to see there defense, which did struggle at times, knock the hell out of the great-white-hope-for-a-new-generation, Eli "Ole Miss" Manning forcing a fumble. The younger Manning showed some distance with 66 passing yards in 3 completions, but by completing only 1/3 of his pass attempts he managed to do worse than his "never-won-nothing-but-have-a-street-named-for-my-reactionary-ass" brother's 16/29.

Sure both games had more than a fair share (which is a pretty problematic concept anyways) of imperialistic brouhaha, but that's what most of us on the left have come to expect from the simple yet important pleasure American sporting events provide us. But this Dave Zirin article on CounterPunch challenges us to view the creation of discourse by rude, unwanted social commentary during such major sporting events as a political task. So just a heads up, next time there is a meeting on Sunday afternoon or Monday night I already have work I must be doing among the masses - watching the NFL. ;-)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 

"Declared blood war on the bourgeois state"

I don't care what my calendar says, today ought to be officially named Leon Czolgosz Day.

In my current triple-espresso-morning state of mind the connections between the lift of a ban on assault weapons, Jim Brady who was shot during a Presidential assassination attempt, the Kerry/Roosevelt war-hero factor, and this anniversary simply cannot be ignored. But my caffeine induced psychosis aside, remember Leon Czolgosz when happy hour toasting rolls around.

Friday, September 10, 2004 

Democrats find a backbone in overtime struggle

Working people won a major victory yesterday in the fight to restore overtime pay to some 6 million workers. In a multi-party effort Democrats, some 20 Republicans and social democratic forces passed an amendment denying funding for any endevors that would enforce the Bush administration's changes in overtime rules.

Bush is thretening a veto if this amendment finds its way into the bill's final form. So take a minute and tell the shit eater to go to hell. My appologies to any and all leftist shit eaters out there. The Senate still needs to pass a similar measure so get to calling them people and we might pull off this fight-back.

Thursday, September 09, 2004 

"This post's for the countless souls..."

The number of US soldiers killed in Iraq surpassed the 1K mark on Tuesday. As of right now, the number stands at 1,005 US soldiers killed and some 6,500 wounded in "Operation Iraqi Liberation." In response, United for Peace and Justice is calling on activists to host and attend candle light vigils in their towns and cities on September 9, 2004 (today) to draw attention to the needless destruction of life and honor the memory of the deceased. It is important to note that while the US press finds it noteworthy to point out the number of soldiers killed in Iraqi, the civilian death toll has already surpassed the 10K mark, and that doesn't even begin to factor in deaths that occurred during the eleven years of protracted war prior to the Bushfeld adventure.

There will be one such event tonight starting at 7:45pm on the sidewalk around Church Street United Methodist Church for a candlelight procession/vigil. Shortly after 8:00pm the group will march to the John J. Duncan Federal Building at the corner of Cumberland and Locust. I guess that the event's "organizers" are claiming that called this action, and to that I say fuck

"...who died in vain for someone else's gain."


Eternal Glory

Today commemorates the lives of two of the greatest revolutionaries the world has ever known. On this day in 1969 a funeral was held for Ho Chi Mihn in Hanoi's Ba Dinh Square. In a show of their deep love and affection for "Uncle Ho," a quarter of a million people attended the service.

Only seven years later the world lost another "great, shining shield of the downtrodden" when Mao Tse-Tung, Chair of the Chinese Communist Party, died at the age of 82. This month's issue of the Monthly Review has a wonderful article (fully available on the web) on Mao's historical importance by William Hinton, a noted scholar/revolutionary and the author of Fanshen who himself has recently passed.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004 


Sorry for the hiatus. Between Labor Day happenings at Highlander, the Central Labor Council's annual picknic at the UNITE-HERE hall and Blogger being down, it’s been a pretty exciting couple of days.

As I am sure everyone knows by now, the Bush campaign felt a slight bounce in polls taken only hours after last Thursday night's charade. John Lacny has a post with some good links explaining this phenomenon, which may be needed therapy at this point if you’re anything like me. It should be interesting to see what effect the Iraq death toll and the Congressional Budget Office's recent report on the ballooning budget deficient will have. Interestingly enough, some (read: the Wall Street Journal and Fox News) are touting the CBO report as "good news," pointing out that this year's record deficient is slightly lower than previously projected. In a rare show of force, Kerry actually stood up for his campaign in response to these claims during an articulate and lively speech yesterday. Dick Cheney still might be telling voters that America will certainly suffer another terrorist attack during a John Kerry administration (conspiracy theorists should have a field day with this one: if Bush paid Osama the first time around and Cheney promises another attack...), but at least the Kerry-Edwards team will responding with feigned outrage and wonderful put-downs like “this is un-American."

Friday, September 03, 2004 

Labor Day

For everyone living under a rock, Monday is Labor Day. I had hoped to be on the road to Atlanta already; but thanks to the weather and the massive influx of evacuees into Georgia as a result, I will be here in Knoxville. I have to admit that I was excited about being out of town when Big Orange football started.

Hopefully I can use my change in plans to put a dent in my reading list, catch up on my mass work, and take a break. I bought Season One of the Chappelle's Show last weekend, and I need to watch the rest of it.

"I'm like the second plane that made the tower's face off
That shit that let you know it's really not a game dawg"
-Mos Def on Chapelle's Show


American maquiladoras

Maybe I have my priorities mixed up, but (amazingingly enough) I didn't think Herr Führer promise to privitize my social security, his support for "welfare reform that strengthens family and requires work," or his gut-wrentching claim to have liberated over 50 million people were the worst thing he had to say last night.

Scarrier that those other promises was his propsal for "American opportunity zones" where "we'll provide tax relief and other incentives to attract new business" in order "to bring hope and work throughout all of America."

Where was Denzel when we needed him?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004 


Yesterday, uniformed agents of the state arrested more than 900 freedom fighters as they carried out non-permitted acts of civil disobedience and disruption in New York. The kicker is that those cops making the arrests have been working for months without a contract for a Republican mayor who has rarely negotiated in good faith. Leave it to the police to cozy up to Bush while taking it up the ass, no lube style from his NYC crony Bloomberg. Hope everyone was able to catch Arnold's speech last night, which is where I get today's quote:

"To those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: Don't be economic girlie men!" Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of the "great state of" California

Finally, my metaphor above about the police taking it up the ass is not meant as a heterosexist use of the anal sex, rather an acknowledgement that taking anything in one's ass without lube of some sort is perhaps one of the more uncomfortable, yet not wholly painful activities I can think of.

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