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June 2012, Week 2

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Tidbits - June 9, 2012

- Re: Why Would Workers Vote for Walker?; Lessons of the
  Wisconsin Uprising (Patrick Barrett)
- Re: Wisconsin (Barry Cohen)
- Re: Plantations, Prisons and Profits (Marvin Gittelman)
- Re: Five `Stand Your Ground' Cases You Should Know About
  (Jack Radey)
- #ShellFAIL viral campaigners exposed (VIDEO) (Yes Lab)
- Re: Basic Human Rights - Are They Sustainable? (John
  Allison)
- Re: After the Heartbreak in Wisconsin (Michael Munk)
- Success - Grammys Reinstate Latin Jazz Award

==========

- Re: Why Would Workers Vote for Walker?; Lessons of the
Wisconsin Uprising

It may be true that some people are arguing for entirely
abandoning elections as a vehicle for advancing a
progressive social and economic agenda, but this extreme
position should not serve to obscure more nuanced critiques
of elections in general or of the Wisconsin recall in
particular. At least three points are in order:

   1.There is a long history of progressive social and
   economic change in the US and in Wisconsin, but it has
   rarely been initiated or driven by the electoral process.
   Instead, it has been the product of the organized efforts
   of mass social movements that have been able to disrupt
   (or threaten to disrupt) business as usual in advancing
   their demands, whether via strikes, boycotts,
   occupations, or the like. This isn't to say that
   elections do not matter, but rather that they matter only
   to the degree that they reflect the balance of social
   power in society and to the degree that they are
   democratically constituted.

   2.As currently constituted, elections in the US are not
   democratic. To the contrary, the electoral arena is a
   very infertile terrain on which to fight for social and
   economic justice. Instead, it is a very uneven playing
   field that systematically favors the most privileged
   among us, a product of the overwhelming role of money,
   electoral laws that are designed to cement a two party
   system, and the resulting absence of a party willing and
   able to champion an agenda of socio-economic justice. It
   is thus no accident that most people do not vote in US
   elections, and that they are disproportionately poor,
   working class, and people of color.

   3.The recall was an election of choice. In other words,
   we picked a fight, and on a terrain that heavily favored
   our adversaries. This was a mistake. The Wisconsin
   uprising was an unprecedented event that offered a rare
   once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build the kind of
   social movement that has produced significant social
   change in the past. As soon as it was transformed into an
   electoral campaign aimed at "throwing the bum out," it
   began to lose its capacity to effect change.

No one could dispute that the recall was built on an
impressive grassroots effort; the question is whether it was
the best place to channel that grassroots energy. It was a
high risk/low reward decision that turned into a disaster.
But it was done. And now the task is to try to learn from it
and figure out the best way forward. Perhaps the main lesson
is to refrain from being so easily enticed into the
electoral arena, and instead to focus our efforts on
building powerful social movements that do not place a
priority on getting candidates elected. Paradoxically, it is
only when social movements are able and willing to pursue
their demands for social justice, regardless of the effect
on the outcomes of elections, that their influence on the
electoral arena is greatest. And to the degree that we do
engage it directly, we should do so with the goal of
democratizing it, so that it's not such a minefield for
social movements. Anything short of that goal will set us up
for yet more failure.

Patrick Barrett
Madison, Wisconsin

==========

- Re: Wisconsin

An element of the Wisconsin vote that seems to be getting
little analysis is the timing of the vote. Some forces urged
that the recall be scheduled to coincide with the general
election, which has a more progressive electorate than
special elections. That may or may not have been enough to
overcome the reluctance of voters to vote for a recall, but
it probably would have helped significantly.

Barry Cohen

==========

- Re: Plantations, Prisons and Profits

Louisiana, once the home of slavery, is now the home of
Prison based Slavery. Prisoners are "rented' at low cost to
farmers.

Marvin Gittelman

==========

- Re: Five `Stand Your Ground' Cases You Should Know About

Knowing a bunch of people who are what one could politely
term "gun enthusiasts" and having had a number of
discussions with them, it is clear to me at least that the
"Stand Your Ground" laws should more properly be referred to
as "Get you a nxxxxer" laws.  The universal argument for
packing heat is to defend yourself, your property, and, by
inference, civilization, against... well, you know (wink
wink, nudge nudge), "dat soitin element".  "Gang members."
"Punks."  (Not referring to kids with mohawks and pants sewn
together with dental floss).

The amiable notion that the "armed citizen" stands between
us and the barbarians massing in the shadows is very
widespread.  Never mind that most of the people killed with
handguns are neighbors, family members, friends, kids being
shown their friend's dad's gun, etc.  Never mind that unless
the shooter is very well trained adrenaline will do its
thing as soon as he gets his shootin' iron out, and he will
be wildly inaccurate, or that bullets will go just anywhere.
We have lots of John Wayne/Dirty Harry/you name the "hero"
de jour wannabes, who think it will all work out just like
in the movies or television.

Stand your ground and spray.  Don't be downrange, y'all,
y'hear?  We're Americans, we kill people we don't like, we
spend more on weapons and war, invade more countries, carry
more guns, shoot more of our fellow citizens.  Ain't you
proud?  Just don't be down range when some patriot decides
to stand his ground, because some kid gave him lip.  You
could be collateral damage.

Jack Radey

==========

- #ShellFAIL viral campaigners exposed (VIDEO)

Dear Friend,

You may have noticed yesterday's viral #ShellFAIL storm,
with a video that got half a million views in less than a
day, etc.

HERE's the behind-the-scenes story (video and text) of how
it all happened. http://youtu.be/InL4ONJh9fA

Stay tuned for more great stories soon.

Your friends at the Yes Lab

==========

- Re: Basic Human Rights - Are They Sustainable?

One must be very thorough - deep and broad - in reviewing
the meaning of human rights. One might begin by saying or
writing it in Swahili, or in Navajo, Maori, Inupiaq or
Pashto, and then asking for in-depth discussion of what they
mean, in English.

One must get way deep into the changes in that measure over
millenia. When you have settled on that underlying, shared
meaning of "human rights", and when you have culled though
them by using some selecting matrix and chosen the "basic"
ones, then you would have a benchline for finding out their
history and look at whether any of them can be sustained,
and under what conditions that are required as their social-
ecological setting.

As an anthropologist, not a political philosopher, I find it
shocking to think that he or she can define for all peoples
for all times their "basic human rights.", much less write
an article asking if these black boxes are "sustainable"

If we are really serious about designing a better society
... in theory at least, then let us at least start from some
reality that is deeper than current English language news
reports and political sloganeering regardless of ideology;
We ARE in a real world where push has come to shove between
very large and powerful parties, disregarding any national
boundaries. We are all more subject to it than in position
to guide it. We are all in the same boat with the West Bank
Palestinians. It is time for such public forums to be
conscious of the larger context than US cities and suburbs
problems; say the same thing in the context of Baluchistan.
OK?

John Allison
Eureka! on the northwest coast of North America.

==========

- Re: After the Heartbreak in Wisconsin

Hayden believes that Obama's righteous instincts have been
blocked by reactionary "Old Bull" Democrats in the senate
and his own advisors. Obama has lamenting that his preferred
legislation "doesn't have the votes" but we shouldn't take
that at face value.

As has often been observed, one never has the votes unless
one goes out hard to get them. I say Obama doesn't fight
because he doesn't believe.

Michael Munk

==========

- Success - Grammys Reinstate Latin Jazz Award

by James C. Mckinley Jr.
New York Times
Art Beat - The Culture at Large
June 8, 2012
http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/08/grammys-reinstate-latin-jazz-award/

A year after the trustees that oversee the Grammy Awards cut
31 categories and drew fierce protests from Latin jazz
musicians, they have reversed themselves and reinstated an
award for best Latin jazz album.

The Recording Academy said its board of trustees had made
several changes to the categories during its annual meeting
in late May, adding three new awards.

Not only will Latin jazz be recognized with a separate
category, but a new award for best urban contemporary album
has been created to honor less traditional R&B that includes
elements of urban, rock and pop music.  A new award for the
best compendium of classical music was also added.  All
told, there will be 81 categories at the awards ceremony on
Feb. 10 in Los Angeles, up from 78 this year.

The reinstatement of the Latin jazz category represents a
retrenchment for the Recording Academy.  Last year, the
trustees rattled the music industry when they reduced the
categories from 109 to 78.  By a narrow vote, they decided
to get rid of separate awards for men and women in many
fields, consolidate many categories and eliminating
individual awards for several regional or ethnic genres,
among them zydeco, Hawaiian music, American Indian music and
Latin jazz.

[more]
http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/08/grammys-reinstate-latin-jazz-award/

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