The Enemy of My Enemy

The Enemy of My Enemy  

by Lew Rosenbaum

You may not want to read beyond this first sentence: I actually concede that there may be individuals who have joined law enforcement because they believe that they will be called on to serve and protect the people. Honestly. (Here I think of the Czech revolutionary Julius Fucik, imprisoned by the Nazis and ultimately executed. His manuscript was smuggled out of prison by guards wearing German uniforms, yet putting themselves in

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The memoir of Communist revolutionary Julius Fucik was smuggled out of prison by a Nazi guard who sympathized with the author.

 

great danger for Fucik. See here for his story).

At the same time, there is a reason (or many reasons) why I fear for my life when I see a cop car in my rear view mirror (even though I’m not Black).

So when I saw BlacKkKlansman, the new Spike Lee film, I was prepared for the worst. In fact, the film exceeded my expectations. I am not a film critic, so I will spend very little space talking about how slow moving the pace was, how cardboard the characters were, and how sloppy the side by side Klan and anti-Klan scenes were juxtaposed. On that last point: what’s the message when you see a Klan rally shouting “White Power!” side by side with a Black Student Union rally shouting “Black Power!”?

There is a politics to this film, and it is scary. In some ways, this film mimics every TV police procedural (and I’ve spent time watching them all). Each and every one has a liberal veneer. They all take pains to have one Black officer protagonist; they all have episodes in which the police themselves reveal that inside the generally good barrel there are bad apples that need to be rooted out (there is one episode of BlueBloods in which the bad apples are a whole cohort that have even organized to kill the Commissioner’s son and attempted to kill another of his sons, both cops). In the final analysis, they all support the conclusion that the good apples prevail; or, more accurately, the system prevails to protect the people, despite any flaws.

BlacKkKlansman does precisely this. Who can deny that the Klan and the Nazis (lumped together as “white nationalists,” though I can’t for the life of me understand where the “white nation” is that they claim to be defending) are fascists? If you need any convincing, there’s plenty of evidence, or at least narrative, in the movie. In case you can stomach the ordinary venality of David Duke, there are two over-the-top Klansmen who are kind-of the Abbot (and his wife) and Costello, a triumvirate of Klan caricatures in hatred.

The policemen of Colorado Springs are a mixed bag, all but one of whom turn out to be good guys at the end. All but one, that one who is and always was a confirmed racist who gets caught and arrested and presumably gets his comeuppance. And the hero of the film, Ron Stallworth, is celebrated by the whole department at the end. Maybe you want to consider that this statement should have been preceded by the phrase, “Spoiler Alert!!!” Not if you have ever seen a police procedural. You know how it comes out. And you even know that the ending, like many Law and Order endings, can be ambiguous or perhaps not exactly the happy ending you long for. And since you, who are reading this, if you’ve gotten this far, you are astute enough to know that the Klan has not disappeared and just in the last few weeks there were heralded “Unite The Right” rallies that commemorated the Charlottesville rally of a year ago. So you will not be surprised that Spike Lee makes a point of drawing a direct line from the operation in BlacKkKlansman to Charlottesville, and the killing of Cindy Heyer by Klansmen and Nazis. There’s even a clip of DJT talking about the violence on both sides. On both sides. He said it twice.

Despite every portrayal of the racism deep within the police department of Colorado Springs, the film presents the department as ultimately the professionals that will protect the public good. Ultimately. Here is how the film is being promoted:

From visionary filmmaker Spike Lee comes the incredible true story of an American hero. It’s the early 1970s, and Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. The young detective soon recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), into the undercover investigation of a lifetime. Together, they team up to take down the extremist hate group. . .

Stallworth is portrayed as a hero (the Jackie Robinson of policemen, breaking Colorado

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The film is very loosely based on a memoir by Ron Stallworth.

Springs’ color line, and taking down the Klan). The more dangerous mission is carried out by Flip Zimmerman, who plays Stallworth when he has to meet Klansmen face-to-face. In the film, Zimmerman is supposed to be Jewish policeman. (In real life he is not Jewish). It’s never clear, however, why they are infiltrating the KKK. In fact, the film is billed as a comedy, as if we should be laughing at the Klan antics and the very fact of a Black man doing the infiltrating. Did they actually “take down” the Klan? Charlottesville should provide the answer to that question, and so does the prominence of David Duke on the present political scene.

Spike Lee’s film isn’t entirely factual. As noted above, in the film, Stallworth’s white partner is Jewish, while in real life, he was not. In the film, Stallworth’s operation thwarts a Klan bombing. There was no such bombing and no Klan member was ever even arrested. Stallworth’s love interest in the film appears to be a made up character.

But this is not about whether or not Stallworth or Zimmerman were heroes. This is about what the role is of law enforcement agencies, and whether they deserve to be glorified. In fact, law enforcement is intended to protect the private property of the elite and has been ever since they were established as special bodies of armed people employed by the government. The private property they were established to protect was, from the beginning, both the enslaved property of the plantation owners and the industrial property of the robber barons – and the vast amount of commodities produced by each. Chicago has an especially rich history experiencing the use of police forces against workers and in defense of private property – from the days of the Haymarket Massacre (Haymarket took place only 10 years following the end of Reconstruction) through the Pullman strike to the Memorial Day Massacre at Republic Steel. One key method of protecting private property is in fomenting or deepening the divisions among workers, and again Chicago shows us some extreme examples: e.g. the long career of Jon Burge, the acknowledged chief torturer among the police; and the not-so-illustrious career of the Chicago “Red Squad.” Let’s not forget how the squad targeted the Black Panthers and murdered Fred Hampton, and how that history continues to the murder of Harith Augustus this summer.

There is more than enough evidence to show that the natural direction of law enforcement is to infiltrate those committed to disrupting private property. At times a conflict between different sections of the owners of private property results in some rather strange circumstances. After the Civil War, for a short time during the decade known as Reconstruction, the military had to discipline Southern law enforcement in order to break the back of the plantation aristocracy. But, once Wall Street had subjugated the plantation owners, the Klan was unleashed (inside and outside the police) to maintain the law and order of recently reinstated political leadership of the slaveocracy.

At various times within the ruling circles of this country, one section has debated with another about how to carry out the program that each have agreed on. These debates have from time to time spilled over to violence. In recent memory, the Civil Rights Movement provided such a backdrop. Again there is much evidence that the rulers were divided about how to expand the profitability of capitalism. This was the consolidation of American expansionism around the world, that coincided with the end of the direct colonial era, Europe’s domination. The extent to which the Federal Government and the Democratic Party came to be seen as the protector of civil rights comes from this era. Police, the national guard, the military and the FBI were enlisted in this effort. But this is also the period in which the FBI spied on Martin Luther King, Jr. and called the Black Panthers the most serious threat to American Democracy (while they planted provocateur infiltrators in the midst of the Panthers).

The political arena today provides us with numerous conflicts that illustrate the general problem of conflating heroes and villains, friends and enemies. Take, for example, the Mueller investigation of Trump’s administration. I can’t imagine any one of my friends, people I regularly talk with, who would argue that Trump has not committed numerous offenses and corruptions. Even more, as President he has attacked the lives of working class Americans and as such deserves to be deposed. Yet we are called to lionize the problematic office of the special prosecutor and the individual in that office. For years we have been criticizing the mainstream media for not reporting the truth; yet when Trump and his supporters call the New York Times a repository of fake news, we are called to their defense, as if they are now journalistic heroes. And now we are supposed to rally around that archetype of fascism, Jeff Sessions, because Trump is denouncing him.

Stallworth’s and Zimmerman’s stories are not unique, and they did, intentionally or not, interrupt a fictionalized rogue Klan action. But it is even more important to understand that it did not interrupt the moral arc of the law enforcement universe bending toward injustice. It did not interrupt the continuing role that Klansmen and Nazis play in our lives. This “visionary” film appears in a context in which we are directed to believe the enemies of our enemy are our friends. We may even find ourselves, as I have,  in a situation, in which it is necessary to depend on police in the face of a momentary common enemy.

With “friends” like these, once the common enemy is vanquished, watch your back.

 

Working Hard? Or Hardly Working? Comedy Central And The American Recession

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Working Hard? Or Hardly Working?

Posted on June 11, 2012 |

Are you a workaholic? According to the latest research there is more than one kind. Typical workaholics are “pushed” to their work and may suffer from poorer relationships at home and at work, as well as heart attacks and other illnesses caused by stress. But the latest discovery is people who qualify as “engaged workaholics,” who are “pulled” to their work because they love to work. According to Danish researcher Wilmar Schaufeli, these engaged workaholics “work because work is fun.” They also suffer less burnout, and perhaps fewer health deficits, than the typical workaholics.

I raise this question because Comedy Central just broke out its third season of Workaholics, an addictive show about three continuously baked twentysomethings who work as telemarketers. The three office mates/house mates are not “aholics” when it comes to work, but they are addicted to just about everything else: weed, rap, booze, porn, shrooms, acid, and wizards. Seriously, they love wizards.

The buddies on Workaholics have the same names as the actors who play them, Blake (Anderson), Adam (DeVine) and Ders (Anders Holm). Their boss is a woman—a barracuda with a soft spot for the slackers, and the plots usually revolve around a wild party, sometimes taking place at the suburban tract house they share, and sometimes taking place at work, like the time they camped out in the office while tripping on mushrooms, or the time they brought drugs on a business trip and were able to close an important deal by plying their client with acid.

However poor the work ethic of the characters on Workaholics, their real life counterparts probably qualify as “engaged” workaholics. Blake and Adam met at Orange Coast College, a community college in Costa Mesa, and after they found Anders at The Improv they began uploading sketch comedy to the internet in their spare time. Before they made it big, Blake, the show’s front man, with a mop of orange ringlet curls and a caterpillar mustache, was simultaneously going to school, delivering pizza, and becoming an internet phenomenon.

Fortunately for the show’s 2.2 million viewers per episode, mostly men between the ages of 18-34, the comedy trio took off. A Comedy Central executive saw one of Mail Order Comedy webisodes and agreed to bankroll their pilot. Ironically, of course, Blake, Anders, and Adam hit it big making comedy from their own nerdy, druggy, loserish lives. Most Americans are not so lucky. Any real worker who came to work as drunk, hungover, and stoned as the boys on Workaholics would be terminated.

Season one of Workaholics debuted in 2011 and featured wacky workplace intrigue, peppered by drugs, a bitchy boss, indecent exposure, and potty humor galore. The hilarious pilot featured a sadistic work place drug tester who threatened to expose the merry band of bromancers for the druggies they were. In an action sequence inspired by the film Die Hard, Blake busted through the office’s ceiling tiles, crawled through the air ducts, and broke into the room containing the vials of urine waiting to be drug-tested.. Blake then contaminated the samples with his own stream. In the final scene, the bested drug tester fell for one of the boys’ favorite pranks, stooping down to pick up a rolled up dollar bill filled with dog poop.

You wouldn’t think that a comedy this juvenile would have much to say about real workers, but the employees of TelAmericorp can be devilishly wry in their commentary on the modern-day dead-end-job. Almost every episode involves a real life situation that workers face in the new recessionary economy, such as getting fired, being denied vacation time, being fired for striking, being denied a raise or  a promotion, losing health insurance, being evicted, and failing a drug test. While the resolutions to these conflicts are often wildly fantastic and hallucinatory, and would never resolve a similar situation in real life, the jokes in each episode have nearly as much bite as an episode of The Office, that short lived 1990s comedy, Working, starring Fred Savage, or the 1960s comedy I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster, which I reviewed last month.

During a memorable episode in the first season, for example, Blake, Adam, and Ders stumble across a group of strikers. “What are you on strike for?” The workers reply: “More pay, better hours, health insurance.” The boys are confused, but in a good way: “Now let me get this straight. You guys are standing outside, not working, and yelling? Strikes are awesome! Strikes are freaking cool!” Later in the episode the boys stage a strike of their own when their boss refuses to let them celebrate, as is their tradition, “half Christmas” in July.

Many television reviewers and interviewers have noticed that Workaholics echoes the current economy. MTV Geek observed that, “the show is…about these guys working these crappy jobs just so they can have enough money to party, and it’s all happening in the context of this pretty crappy economy.”

But is it possible that the recession is making some workers rethink the workaholic treadmill? American productivity, which has risen aggressively over the last decade, was down significantly last quarter. As the Associated Press reported, this could mean that “companies are struggling to squeeze more output from their workers.”

Tim Jackson, an Economics professor at the University of Surrey, took up this idea in a recent New York Times Op Ed, “Let’s be Less Productive.” He makes the radical suggestion that we try to loose ourselves from the vice grip of efficiency and productivity and revel in “slow work,” taking time to expand the professions that require craft and care for others—including hospital work, the arts, and education.

On Workaholics, the characters definitely revel in non-productivity, and they do care a lot for each other at the end of the day. As with most fraternities, theirs is built on fantasies of sexual exploitation, usually thwarted, of course, because they are wannabe players. Ultimately, their fraternity is closer to the old union brotherhood than you might think. Blunt in hand, they stick by each other, go on strike with each other, contaminate drug tests for each other, close business deals for each other, fight drug dealers, mean office mates, and cold-hearted ladies for each other. On Workaholics there is just enough brotherly love and slacker-class-consciousness to keep me coming back for more.

Kathy M. Newman

Democracy Now Interviews Harry Belafonte On Art And Using The Platform You Have

“Sing Your Song”: Harry Belafonte on Art & Politics, Civil Rights & His Critique of President Obama

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Interview on Democracy Now! by Amy Goodman. Legendary musician, actor, activist and humanitarian Harry Belafonte joins us for the hour to talk about his battle against racism, his mentor Paul Robeson, the power of music to push for political change, his close relationship with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the U.S. role in Haiti. A new documentary chronicles his life, called Sing Your Song. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Belafonte grew up on the streets of Harlem and Jamaica. In the 1950s, he spearheaded the calypso craze and became the first artist in recording history with a million-selling album. He was also the first African-American musician to win an Emmy. Along with his rise to worldwide stardom, Belafonte became deeply involved in the civil rights movement. One of Dr. King’s closest confidants, he helped organize the March on Washington in 1963. “Going into the South of the United States, listening to the voices of rural black America, listening to the voices of those who sang out against the Ku Klux Klan and out against segregation, and women, who were the most oppressed of all, rising to the occasion to protest against their conditions, became the arena where my first songs were to emerge,” Belafonte tells Democracy Now! [Click here to view the broadcast or to read the transcript]

Telling the Truth about/in the Native Land

Telling the Truth about/in the Native Land

Reading through the labor press of 1943 and 1944 I found this item about censorship in Chicago.  The film was Native Land, originally produced between 1938 and 1942 (when it was

Martin Dies, chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities

released) as a response to the right wing “March of Time.”  The film features Paul Robeson as a narrator and mixes documentary footage as well as dramatic reenactments of, for example, KKK attacks and union defense against labor spies and thugs.  (Click here to find out more about the film and the plot and here.) The context was the predations of the precursor to the “Un-American Activities” investigations, the committee led by Texas member of the House of Representatives, Martin Dies.  The committee name was changed to its more well known appellation from the “Dies Committee” in 1946.    In 1938, the year that work on Native Land was begun (under the working title, later discarded, of Labor Spy), the Dies Committee subpoenaed Hallie Flanagan, head of the Federal Theater Project, to investigate its infiltration by communists.  Member of the committee Joe Starnes achieved notoriety by asking Flanagan if Christopher Marlowe was a member of the American Communist Party, and whether the playwright “Mr. Euripides” preached class warfare.  The environment in which Native Land was censored in Chicago also saw the labor press calling for the disbanding of the Dies Committee for its anti union activity.

from Federation News, Chicago Federation of Labor

Lifting the Veil: The Democratic Party As The Graveyard Of Social Movements

Lifting the Veil: Obama and the Failure of Capitalist Democracy

“Lifting the Veil is the long overdue film that powerfully, definitively, and finally exposes the deadly 21st century hypocrisy of U.S. internal and external policies, even as it imbues the viewer with a sense of urgency and an actualized hope to bring about real systemic change while there is yet time for humanity and this planet. See this film!”
-Larry Pinkney
Editorial Board Member & Columnist
The Black Commentator

Sub-headed “Barack Obama and the failure of capitalist democracy”, this film explores the historical role of the Democratic Party as the “graveyard of social movements”, the massive influence of corporate finance in elections, the absurd disparities of wealth in the United States, the continuity and escalation of neocon policies under Obama, the insufficiency of mere voting as a path to reform, and differing conceptions of democracy itself.

Original interview footage derives from Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, Michael Albert, John Stauber (PR Watch), Sharon Smith (Historian), William I. Robinson (Editor, Critical Globalization Studies), Morris Berman (Author, Dark Ages America), and famed black panther Larry Pinkney.

Non-original interviews/lectures include Michael Hudson, Paul Craig Roberts, Ted Rall, Richard Wolff, Glen Ford, Lewis Black, Glenn Greenwald, George Carlin, Gerald Cliente, Chris Hedges, John Pilger, Bernie Sanders, Sheldon Wollin and Martin Luther King.

Visit http://metanoia-films.org/compilations.php for more info.

There But For Fortune: The Film Bio of Phil Ochs Reviewed By Howard Romaine

SIXTIES SINGER-SONGWRITER-ORGANIZER PHIL OCHS BIO OPENS

By HOWARD ROMAINE, writer, http://www.thetennesseetribune.com/

Just days after its opening in Boston, DC, and other places, the new film biography of Phil
Ochs opened in NASHVILLE at the Belcourt Theatre. If one wants a good, brief biography of the
sixties, taught from the perspective of the ‘singer-songwriter,’ this is the movie. If one wants to see
the origins of the singer-songwriter ‘folk’ crowd before it moved out to places like Nashville, New Orleans, Boston, San Francisco and Macon, and Atlanta, Georgia, Austin, Texas, and Woodstock, New York, this is your movie.
If one is younger, and wants, from lack of personal knowledge,  a puzzled back look
at what all the musical and cultural excitement and horror of the sixties was about – from the perspective of the young and engaged – this is the one movie one should see, and have history classes see.

http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/independent/philochstherebutforfortune/

From the early photos, movies and songs about the election of President Kennedy and his idealistic energy to the spread of this spirit to “Negroes” demanding the vote, or a seat at the table, to images of the death of Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X,  to the dogs attacking demonstrators in Birmingham, one gets the perspective and the reactions of the young folk crowd in New York, and, in effect, literary commentary on those events which were, at least in my case, as a college student of the era, the ‘facts’ as well as the ‘feelings’ about the facts which only songs, and songs from a certain milieu, in this case, Greenwich Village, and the urban sophisticated ‘south’ of ‘the movement,’ and the folk and coffee houses there, could provide.

Omission – the black presence and creative factor

Unfortunately, for me, the movie fails to provide much of the ‘black song’ which also arose from and enveloped these events – songs by Nashville and New York’s Julius Lester, or Cordell Reagon, or LA’s Lynn Chandler, or Albany and Atlanta’s Bernice Johnson Reagon, who met and married Nashville’s Cordell in the SNCC’s ‘Freedom Singers,’ and continued to  create, throughout her career, the musical soundtrack to the resistance to the racist repression of the sixties and ensuing years, rising to a high tide with Barry Goldwater, and his clone, Ronald Reagan.

After an early career with the SNCC Freedom Singers, and a move to DC for a Ph.D. at Howard in Musicology, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon’s created and sustained the acapella genius of Sweet Honey in the Rock, and helped Anne Romaine, here in Nashville, and thru the region,  sustain the folk cultural vision for years with events like the Grass Roots Days in Nashville, and concerts with artists around the country as diverse as John D. Loudermilk to Babe Stovall, and the Rev. Pearly Brown, Pete and Mike Seeger, Alice and Hazel, and Lynn Chandler,  and many other artists linked like chains of visionary poets to the principal events sadly and sharply depicted in this movie – from civil rights to Kennedy deaths, to Lyndon Johnson’s war in Vietnam, to its continuation by the two criminals Nixon and Spiro Agnew, shown here as they ascend; and the New York folk scene shifts from vocal opposition to active organizing – a role of Ochs which was new and revealing to me. It would have made a better, and more balanced,  movie to show the black origins of the music and organizing tradition of the era, as best reflected in Dr. Reagon’s long career.

However, many of the other leading lights of the era appear to give commentary, from Joan Baez, to Pete Seeger, to the record company executives of Electra, Ochs early publisher, to A & M, his publisher as he moved to Los Angeles in the second half of the sixties decade and to new alternative musical modes of creativity, to other musicians, friends, and relatives, sister, brother, daughter, whose appearance as a small child is one of the more moving black and white images in the middle part of the film, as her color commentary at the end, about  her father’s life and legacy, is sobering.

The extent of Ochs’ career, as a writer, as well as an activist, which continues with artists like Buono, of U2, is well captured with many later artist-activists, many of which I did not know. The early village scene with artists like Bob Dylan, and Baez, and the concurrent musical themes reacting to the events in the South is very well captured. And the size and diversity of his musical creations are given regular short shots throughout the movie, well paced between song, interview and visuals. Many of Ochs best known performances are available now on UTube, for example –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5pgrKSwFJE

Although I had read of the competition between Ochs and Dylan, and it is briefly touched on in the movie, it is not a main theme, and indeed, their complimentary if competitive paths re-coalesce at an Ochs organized benefit after the CIA sponsored military takeover of the Allende democrats in Chile, in which the singer-songwriter, Victor Jara, was led into a stadium, filled with onlookers, and the singer’s fingers and hands were systematically smashed by rifle butts as a warning to the populace.

Ochs was sufficiently political and world traveled to have visited the Chilean singer just before the military coup, and organized a concert in Carnegie Hall to protest the vivid and viscious symbolic smashing of the songwriter’s hands by the Nixon-Kissinger-CIA backed military hunta.

According to the movie, the singer, Victor Jara, walked, his hands bleeding, toward the stands, and began to sing a patriotic song, and was joined by all in the stands, gradually, before he was shot down, murdered by the military.

Ochs and Village friends organized a Carnegie protest of this to bring it to world attention. The reconnection between Dylan and Ochs at this event is emphasized, rather than their sometime brutal competition, as footage of their joining together at the Carnegie Concert is shown, an event, again, which had slipped my ordinarily unrelenting Dylan history memory.

One could continue, as some reviews do, with reflections on Ochs ‘manic-depression’ and growing alcoholism, or marvel at his various incarnations – as an Elvis interpreter, in self-ironic jest – as a co-hort of the ‘yippies’ Ruben and Abbie Hoffman, (another alleged ‘manic depressive’ and drug abuser), or speculate about the lack of support of friends and family as he descended into ‘madness’ which various scenes toward the end capture – but, to me, this tragic aspect of his life is not the centerpiece.

No, that’s the beautiful voice, the tunes seemingly unending from his guitar, his laugh and joy in creation and opposition, and the contrast between a beautiful, if defeated creative life, and various evil, misguided, and murderous policies he dedicated his life and art to opposing.

Go see the movie for yourself. Or read the reviews, then go see it.

http://www.beyondchron.org/articbeles/Film_Review_Phil_Ochs_There_But_For_Fortune__8994.html

It plays two or three more days at the Belcourt. It’s the best movie I’ve ever seen about the sixties, but then, again, I see the era from the vantage point of its early literature – the song!! And, I know tragedy and literary triumph interconnect like earth, rain and spring.

The Apostate: A New Yorker Exposé Of The Church Of Scientology


The Apostate
Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology.
by Lawrence Wright February 14, 2011

On August 19, 2009, Tommy Davis, the chief spokesperson for the Church of Scientology International, received a letter from the film director and screenwriter Paul Haggis. “For ten months now I have been writing to ask you to make a public statement denouncing the actions of the Church of Scientology of San Diego,” Haggis wrote. Before the 2008 elections, a staff member at Scientology’s San Diego church had signed its name to an online petition supporting Proposition 8, which asserted that the State of California should sanction marriage only “between a man and a woman.” The proposition passed. As Haggis saw it, the San Diego church’s “public sponsorship of Proposition 8, which succeeded in taking away the civil rights of gay and lesbian citizens of California—rights that were granted them by the Supreme Court of our state—is a stain on the integrity of our organization and a stain on us personally. Our public association with that hate-filled legislation shames us.” Haggis wrote, “Silence is consent, Tommy. I refuse to consent.” He concluded, “I hereby resign my membership in the Church of Scientology.”
Haggis was prominent in both Scientology and Hollywood, two communities that often converge. Although he is less famous than certain other Scientologists, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, he had been in the organization for nearly thirty-five years. Haggis wrote the screenplay for “Million Dollar Baby,”. . . Click here to read more[

[The New Yorker article is huge;  if you want a “Cliff’s Notes” version, try this “What You Need to Know” article. — LR]

Video Of/About Wisconsin Demonstrations Against Scott Walker

There is no order to these videos.  More will be added as people send them to me or as I glean them from the web. Most recent added are at bottom of each section (Video and Text)

Video Links

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJOtUEORNkw&feature=player_embedded Solidarity video from Madison

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZ5CqhL5X4o Todd Alan Price in Madison

http://www.youtube.com/user/tprice1963?email=share_video_user Todd Alan Price in Madison

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8SEo9NV-UA Young trade unionists in Maryland

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdLcGW4LRQc&feature=player_embedded I am a teacher

http://www.readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/72-72/4988-qdemocracy-uprisingq-in-the-usa Noam Chomsky on Democracy Now

http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/02/17/6075298-never-poke-a-badger-in-the-eye Rachel Maddow – Poke A Badger In The Eye

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CjcneEagoCE#at=75

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=6291 TRNN: Class Struggle in Wisconsin. Paul Jay interviews AFL-CIO leader

http://vimeo.com/20110135 Cheesehead rally, NYC 2/18/2011

http://bit.ly/fr17Yc Impromptu b-boying in the rotunda
http://bit.ly/e3Ht3W State Senator Lena Taylor: Teachers are in the house!  2/15/2011
http://bit.ly/ebBF07 Firefighters at the capitol — bagpipers

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/jobswithjustice Jobs With Justice site follows the activities closely with video, photo and text

http://vimeo.com/20089255 Matt Wisniewski’s excellent video beautifully captures the mood.  He sets up shots from the rallies of 2/15-2/17 to a background of Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion (Lies)”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_-NlVCPYWs The ED show (NY) calls on Democrats to have backbone, support workers (interesting clip of Ted Kennedy)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/41675756#41675330 The ED show from Madison Feb. 18 focuses on concessions made by workers, applauded by Democrats, and rejected by Scott Walker

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=6299 Matt Rothschild (The Progressive Magazine) talks with TRNN about the history of progressivism in Wisconsin and the current battle)

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150104432416234 Posted by Michael Shallal, Cabbies support the Madison demonstrators

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZsOKNfNkfQ Rep. Gordon Hintz chews out his colleagues for trying to force the “Repair Bill” through

http://vimeo.com/20168864 Matthew Wisnewski’s part 2, Feb. 18 and 19, set to “The Cave” by Mumford and Sons

http://www.youtube.com/user/cinderbelle319 Straightforward explanation about the situation surrounding the Wisconsin demos and the “Budget Repair Bill.” This is the first video by this 22 year old.  Hope to see a lot more

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/41674668#41674668 Rachel Maddow drops some valuable Wisconsin and workers history to put things into perspective (then goes into her analysis, that this is all intended to give Republicans local and then national dominance in electoral politics):

http://vimeo.com/20146715 Todd Alan Price interviews, along with Luciano on camera (about one hour)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fCm6JcOMuM&feature=player_embedded Police officer testifies about the peaceful protests, Limbaugh and Fox News distortions

http://www.thenation.com/video/158811/students-and-workers-join-together-wisconsin Todd Alan Price for The Nation

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31& TRNN examines how cutbacks in public services/public workers is a phony solution

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31& Paul Jay (TRNN) proposes that Wisconsin’s billionaires should make some sacrifices too . . .

http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2011/02/wisconsin-ohio-indiana-new-york.html In this video from New York’s Ed Notes, Ed Schultz conducts interviews at a protest rally in front of Fox News HQ.  The video ends with a brillian satirical speech, imploring the crowd to pity the poor, suffering billionaires.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/22/walker-unions-wisconsin-protests_n_826908.html?ref=fb&src=sp Whoops!  Cutting benefits may actually COST money . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHIyRFH5r-I&feature=email Substance News video of the Feb. 26 solidarity with Wisconsin demo.  Background: Utah Phillips sings Solidarity Forever

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=6367 TRNN sums up the struggle after the rally March 5, 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG9I-oA_Er0&sns=fb Two Weeks In Madison, a tribute video which is very effective

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjCEW2J30oM Wisconsin Senate passes anti-collective bargaining bill  March 9, 2011

Music

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYiKdJoSsb8&feature=player_embedded Pete Seeger and a “Solidarity Forever” video montage

http://www.youtube.com/wethepeoplewisconsin#p/c/7471346814D51E57/24/zWCixXEe35g Tom Morello sings “World Wide Rebel Songs” and brings greetings from Cairo to Madison

http://www.youtube.com/wethepeoplewisconsin#p/c/24/zWCixXEe35g Tom Morello sings to a rally on the state Capitol

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHIyRFH5r-I&feature=email Utah Phillips backs this video up with an especially sonorous Solidarity Forever

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0P4ZAyROfI Wayne Kramer is joined by Tom Morello and a bunch of others for jamming Kick Out The Jams

And Text and Non Video:

http://wisconsinwave.org/four-ways-build-wisconsin-wave-against-corporate-rule Wisconsin Wave

https://chilaborarts.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/the-aaup-comments-on-a-coordinated-attack-on-public-workers/ AAUP comments posted  on this blog

http://www.dispatchpolitics.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2011/02/10/copy/kasich-to-public-workers-you-strike-you-get-punished.html?adsec=politics&sid=101 Ohio threatens public workers

http://cwcs.ysu.edu/about/news/senate-bill-5-testimony Sherry Linkon & John Russo testimony re Ohio

http://www.progressive.org/wx021511.html Matt Rothschild on Wisconsin wars

http://www.truth-out.org/wisconsin-crowds-swell-30000-key-gop-legislators-waver67882 Truthout: Wisconsinites rally

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/the-best-protest-signs-at-the-wisconsin-capitol 45 Best signs at the Capitol

http://m.host.madison.com/mobile/news/opinion/editorial/article_61064e9a-27b0-5f28-b6d1-a57c8b2aaaf6.html Capital Times: Walker’s budget aids cronies

http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/116502958.html Walker rejects unions concessions

http://www.wlea.org/ Tracy Fuller, Exec. Director of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association regrets/repudiates endorsement of Scott Walker

http://www.thenation.com/blog/158741/aaron-rodgers-we-need-your-voice-wisconsins-working-families Dave Zirin calls on Green Bay Packer quarterback and shop steward, Aaron Rodgers to take a stand in Wisconsin

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/18/russ-feingold-wisconsin-protests_n_825325.html Russ Feingold rallies workers in Madison

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/480120 Wisconsin uprising spreads to Indiana and beyond

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/480123 Walker’s statement shows the bill is not intended to solve the “economic crisis in Wisconsin”

http://www.seiu721.org/2011/02/post-1.php SEIU Local 721:  All eyes are on Wisconsin

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/479560 12 things you need to know about the Wisconsin uprising (Alternet)

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=550496537&v=wall#!/album. Brett Jelinek’s extraordinary photo album of the rally Saturday, Feb. 19

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49888.html From Cairo to Madison, Free Pizza!  Culinary solidarity in action

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/20/ West Virginia public workers rally in support of Wisconsin workers and to win rights for themselves

http://labournet.de/internationales/usa/arbeitskampf.html This German source for news about labor in the US has a section on Wisconsin.  This blog is sourced there as well as other info.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704900004576152362740149144.html? Michigan Governor Rick Snyder won’t pick fights with unions

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/22/indiana-democrats-flee-state-to-protest-anti-union-bill/ Indiana Democrat legislators follow the lead of their Wisconsin colleagues

http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/02/23/breaking-news-from-indiana-right-to-work-withdrawn/ AFL-CIO reports that Indiana Republicans withdrew right=to=work legislation

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/22/hundreds-rally-at-iowa-capitol-over-labor-laws/ Iowans rally to support Wisconsin demonstrations

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/us/23ohio.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha24 NYT reports on battles in other states, catching Wisconsin fever

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/21/leader-egyptian-unions-wisconsin/ Egyptian unions support Wisconsin protesters

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/02/22-13 Rose Ann De Moro on refusing to make benefits concessions

http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/93540/index.php Garth Liebhaber’s photos in Madison highlight members of the Chicago Teachers Union

http://www.channel3000.com/news/26998145/detail.html Saturday, Feb 26 will be the last day demonstrators will be allowed to occupy the capitol building in Wisconsin — unless officials heed the advice of the police.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/ Tom Morello, Madison, Frostbite and Freedom

http://www.stltoday.com/news/state-and-regional/missouri/article Missouri considering “right to work”

http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/02/25/ Taxpayers Contribute Nothing To Public Employee Pensions

http://bigozine2.com/feature/?p=548 Bill Glahn interviews Wayne Kramer of the MC5, archival story from The Big O with relevance for today

http://www.montevidayo.com/?p=1026The Poet Brenda Cardenas reports from the scene and reflects on personal and political history

https://www.facebook.com/notes/ This link is a restricted one and requires that you are “friends” with Lew Rosenbaum on facebook.   Nick Lampert, Aaron Hughes and Dan Wang appeal from Wisconsin.

http://news.firedoglake.com/2011/03/09/anti-public-employee-bill-passes-senate- Anti collective bargaining passed by Wisconsin Senate

Vivian Maier, Chicago Street Photographer

From Chicago Tonight, with Phil Ponce, on WTTW Channel 11

Posted by John Maloof, http://vivianmaier.blogspot.com/

Cultural Connection: Vivian Maier
The amazing story of Vivian Maier, a Chicago nanny who took more than 100,000 photos during her lifetime but never showed them to anyone. Now that she’s gone and her photos have been discovered, some say she may rank among the top street photographers of the 20th century. Jay Shefsky brings us tonight’s “Cultural Connection.”
More Vivian Maier photos and information
The show at the Chicago Cultural Center, Jan. 7 – April 3

The link to the Chicago Tonight clip is also here. . .

Uncle Sam’s House of Horrors: Richard Neville in Counterpunch

[This story is bad enough.  Click this link to see the film, on line in its entirety.  In the aftermath of the Vietnam war, Phillip Knightley reviewed the history of modern war and concluded that truth was The First Casualty, also the title of his classic book. ]

January 5, 2011 Counterpunch

Smashing Plato’s Cave

Unlocking Uncle Sam’s House of Horrors

By RICHARD NEVILLE

The secrecy-busting by Wiki-leakers may take years to play out in the corridors of power, but there are signs on the ground that citizens are finally rubbing the sleep from their eyes. It’s an Aha moment: “They’ve been lying to us all this time”. And so they have; law-breaking with impunity, instigating  wars, abetting torture, renditions, secret jails; destroying documents, conspiring to steal DNA from diplomats, slaughtering civilians on several continents, plus much else besides and … weirdly… getting away with it. For how much longer?

Citizens today resemble the chained prisoners in Plato’s cave, mesmerized by the shadowy flickering on the wall, or on our TVs, which we mistake for reality. The images are illusions.  In Plato’s famous parable, a prisoner escapes from the cave and discovers the ‘real

Plato's Cave

world’ in all its heartbreak and glory, which he seeks to reveal to the inmates. The revelation is unwanted and the escapee is branded a lunatic.

This tale can be viewed from today’s perspective, where prisoners of the US military are shackled night and day, brutally beaten, tortured, humiliated, even “disappeared” until they lose all hope of re-entering  a world they once knew. Many prisoners are innocent, and – according to numerous accounts – many of the guards are psychopaths.

In October 2001, when the US invaded Afghanistan, an ill educated Australian searching for adventure, David Hicks, tried to flee. Previously he had enlisted in the Kosovo Liberation Army, then fighting against the Serbs in the Balkans, and allied with NATO. Hicks saw no action. A confused and uneducated but idealistic young man, he later sought to fight on the side of the Kashmiri people but changed his mind.  He had been briefly fascinated by Islam. Hicks was picked up by a Northern Alliance soldier and sold to US operatives for US$5000. As he states in his memoir, Guantanamo, My Journey, the brutal beatings began on day one in Afghanistan and he feared for his life. Like many others traded for cash, he is hooded, shackled, interrogated at gun point, repeatedly kicked, punched in the face, treated to mock executions and sodomized with a “large piece of white plastic” as a US soldier snarls “extra ribbed for your pleasure”.  The sadism is breathtaking – and this is just the beginning.

Hicks was among the first batch detainees to arrive at Guantanamo. Plonked on a lump of cement in a barbed wire cage, he is forbidden to look at his jailers . The only authorized positions are to sit or lie in the middle of the cage staring at a fixed spot in the sky or the concrete. The slightest variation provoked an attack from the Instant Reaction Force, who beat offenders to pulp, often accompanied by dogs.

Everything about Guantanamo is shameful and sick – including the inability of President Obama to wipe it from the face of the Earth. The observations of Hicks on his six years of cruel and unusual punishment are corroborated by numerous sources. Not a single soldier has been held to account, not even the ones who murdered three prisoners by stuffing rags down their throats.

Hicks strongly denies that he had any involvement with al-Qaeda and of course he would, and says he had not even heard of the organization until he was taken to Cuba. However, at a camp in in Afghanistan, he had met Osama Bin Laden which of course begs the question of what sort of camp it was and this understandably excited U.S intelligence. However, does this justify the repugnant behavior that has come to light at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere? Think seriously about this, and if the answer is yes, then we are not who we claim to be.

When Major General Geoffrey Miller arrived at the facility, torments multiplied. “We were no longer entitled to toilet paper”, writes Hicks, “We were not allowed soap to wash our hands, yet still expected to eat with our fingers”. Inmates suffered prolonged solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, forced medication, forced nudity, pepper sprays, exposure to severe cold and “torture of a sexual nature”. It was Miller who introduced attack dogs, and when he was transferred to Abhu Ghraib, he again put them to work. Among the unforgettable series of porno tableaus created by the prison’s night shift, Miller’s dogs can be seen menacing inmates. (At his retirement ceremony in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes in 2006, Miller was honoured by the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Richard Cody.)

After 9/11, Neo McCarthyism took hold, traumatizing the media mainstream and reducing its reporters to war mongering hacks.  In rare moments, when excesses of the US military spilled onto the TV news, such the massacre of children in Afghanistan or the shooting of journalists in Baghdad, an “expert” was corralled to provide “context”.

Thanks to Wikileaks, a range of NGOs, independent  film makers, investigative web sites and a handful of defiantly un-embedded reporters, there is a shift in the wind. In John Pilger’s latest film, The War You Don’t See, you do surprisingly see a range of media heavies apologizing for biased reporting. “I didn’t really do my job properly,” BBC reporter Rageh Omaar admits to Pilger. “I’d hold my hand up and say that one didn’t press the most uncomfortable buttons hard enough.” Omaar describes how British military propaganda successfully manipulated coverage of the fall of Basra, which BBC News reported as having fallen “17 times”. This coverage, he says, was “a giant echo chamber”.

Veteran CBS news anchor Dan Rather tells Pilger “there was a fear in every newsroom in America, a fear of losing your job… the fear of being stuck with some label, unpatriotic or otherwise.” Rather said the war turned reporters into stenographers and that had “journalists questioned the deceptions that led to the Iraq war, instead of amplifying them, the invasion would not have happened”.  This view is reportedly shared by a number of senior journalists interviewed by Pilger.

Australia’s media fell head first into the propaganda trap, excited by Shock and Awe and hosting discussions with Pentagon experts, who claimed precision bombing in Baghdad would reduce civilian casualties.  The crushing of Falluja and other atrocities were scarcely mentioned.

John Pilger, whose film "The War You Don't See" indicts the media for not portraying the real war.

The War You Don’t See was screened in Britain in late December and quickly migrated to YouTube <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7wXhN5h_Pg> and beyond. The response is astonishing. Scales are falling from the eyes of a new generation: I’m speechless, brokenhearted, and appalled at our own complicity… 90% Civilian deaths! …I could have watched another 3 hours more and still want more. … Awesome video, thank you all so much…!! Unfortunately, to stop all this, we have to re-think our entire concept of society, authority and personal responsibility and ability… And so on and so on.

Even those close to the US military have been jolted into re-assessing their mission, as in this confession by Tim King from Oregon’s Salem-News. “On the verge of understanding my own role in promoting the US wars overseas as a former embedded reporter, John Pilger’s new program shoved me right off of the cliff of ignorance, into a painful valley of understanding. I always thought I had a moral ‘out’ because even though I was a Marine, the only thing I ever shot in a war was my television camera. But as it turns out, when I confront this demon; I discover quite clearly that however small in comparison to some reporters, I was part of the problem.

In this age of terror it is time to focus on homegrown terrorists who pose as saviors; the gutless assassins of the CIA and its secret affiliates, flinging Drones at impoverished tribes, killing the good and the bad and the babies, just like in Vietnam.

As noted by anthropologist Maximilian Forte, the real war on terror is “in fact a global counterinsurgency program directed at all of us. We live in a regime of global occupation, where psychological warfare, assaults on human rights, and increasingly dictatorial state powers are directed against citizens, not just foreign “enemy combatants”.

In Plato’s cave the inmates are more at ease with illusions than the truth, much like today. Over the last decade millions have turned a blind eye to the stinking system of deception, torture and wholesale slaughter that has infected the West. Indifferent to treaties, conventions and the rules of war, the US government is a blot on the landscape of the future, a sleazy exterminator who never sleeps, addicted to war; unmoved by the carnage it creates.

The US Government proclaim a passion for freedom, even as they seeks to eliminate the freedom of others, such as Julian Assange, for exposing the inglorious exploits of its military, as it murders bystanders with a volley from a helicopter, followed by a chuckle.

Now  raining down from cyber space are revelations on what’s really been happening, as opposed the fairy tales told on TV. They provide a window of information. So what are we going to do about it?

Richard Neville lives in Australia, the land that formed him. In the Sixties he raised hell in London and published Oz. He can be reached at rneville@ozemail.com.au