fragments of an attempted writing.

Leonard Weinglass, R.I.P.

Leonard Weinglass died yesterday. He was the attorney for the Chicago 8, Angela Davis, Daniel Ellsberg, Abbie Hoffman (separately from his Chicago 8 trial), Kathy Boudin, Ron Kaufman, the kidnappers of Patty Hearst,  Mumia Abu-Jamal, and most recently the Cuban 5 (Weinglass has a good overview of the Cuban 5 debacle here).

Weinglass' remarkable C.V. is here.

I like how Wiki closes its entry on Weinglass:

Through the end of his life at 78, Weinglass still took cases. He saw no reason to stop - "the typical call I get is the one that starts by saying 'You are the fifth attorney we've called'. Then I get interested".


A friend on FB posted this, so fitting at the moment:

"Obama's electoral victory in the US belongs, at a certain level, to the same line. One can and should entertain cynical doubts about the real consequences of Obama's victory: from a pragmatic-realistic perspective, it is quite possible that Obama will turn out to be a "Bush with a human face," making no more than a few minor face-lifting improvements. He will pursue the same basic politics in a more attractive mode and thus possibly even strengthen US hegemony, damaged as it has been by the catastrophe of the Bush years .....

..... The danger Obama courted in his campaign is that he was already applying to himself what the later historical censorship applied to Martin Luther King, namely, cleansing his program of contentious topics in order to assure his eligibility. There is a famous dialogue in Monty Python's religious spoof The Life of Brian, set in Palestine at the time of Christ: the leader of a Jewish revolutionary resistance organization passionately argues that the Romans have brought only misery to the Jews, when his followers remark that they have nonetheless introduced education, built roads, constructed irrigation, and so on, he triumphantly concludes: "All right, but apart from the sanitation, education, medicine, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the romans ever done for us?" Do the latest proclamations by Obama not follow the same line? "I stand for a radical break with Bush's politics! OK, I pleaded for full support for Israel, for continuing the war on terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for refusing prosecutions against those who ordered torture, and so on, but I still stand for a radical break with Bush's politics!" Obama's inauguration speech concluded this process of "political self-cleansing" -- which is why it was such a disappointment even for many left-liberals in the US. It was a well-crafted but weirdly anemic speech whose message to "all other peoples and governments who are watching today" was "we are ready to lead once more";"we will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense."
           During the election campaign it was often noted that when Obama talked about the "audacity of hope," about a change we can believe in, he relied on a rhetoric which lacked any specific content: to hope for what? To change what? Now things are a little clearer: Obama proposes a tactical change destined to reassert the fundamental goals of US politics: the defense of the american way of life and a leading role internationally for the US. The US empire will be now more humane, and respectful of others; it will lead through dialogue, rather than through the brutal imposition of its will. If the Bush administration was the empire with a brutal face, now we shall have the empire with a human face -- but it will be the same empire .....

..... However, as already noted, the real tragedy of Obama is that he has every chance of turning out to be the ultimate savior of capitalism and, as such, one of the great conservative American presidents. There are progressive things that only a conservative with the right hard-line patriotic credentials can do: only de Gaulle was able to grant independence to algeria; only Nixon was able to establish relations with China -- in both cases, had a progressive president done these things, he would have been instantly accused of betraying national interests, selling out to the communists or the terrorists, and so on. Obama's predicament seems to be exactly the opposite one: his "progressive" credentials are enabling him to enforce the "structural readjustments" necessary to stabilize the system."

Slavoj Zizek, First As Tragedy, Then As Farce
pp. 107-110

"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."
~ Sen. Barack Obama, 12/20/2007

As Cindy Sheehan put it on the day that we attacked Libya, the same day that 100 anti-war protesters, including 79 year old Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers fame, were arrested outside the White House: Obama to peace movement: fuck you, suckers!
From an email of an IWW unionist and general strike agitator explaining the situation in WI to other IWW members:

Well the streets are virtually empty now, the national unions are focusing on recall efforts and using what momentum and consciousness that has been created to build their unions, sign up more members in existing unions in right to work states and active campaigns to organize in the health care industry.

The more radical unions and coalitions, including the iww are using this opportunity to make sure direct action is always on the table and industrial action is discussed, and solidarity Networks are in place when industrial action is called for. 

The democrats have totally co-opted this, and that is something to remember for next time. I wonder if the demonstrations in wisconsin would have ended differently or continued if the possibility for a recall didn't exist.  It doesn't for most states.

What we can do is build the labor movement as much as we can, train organizers, and discuss openly what people believe industrial action should look like and how it might transform society.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This guy does a decent job of summing things up.

I'm not sure what a "Deocratic Leader" is, but I'm sure it's better than most leaders of the Democratic Party.

WI Governor Scott Walker's latest ad.  He is bad ass, in a one eye significantly higher than the other sort of way.