CCDS Dialogue About the 2016 Election: What Happened and Where Do We Go From Here

Posted by CarlDavidson on November 22, 2016 under Elections, Organizing, Rightwing, Strategy | Read the First Comment

 

Four Articles Inviting Comments

CCDS members, along with the left and progressives generally, have been engaged in discussions about the recent presidential election and what it means for our political work for the next several years. The essays below are initial offerings in what should be an ongoing discussion. Please send us your writings about the election and how you see the future of the left and the progressive majority.

1. Sanders, Clinton and Trump – the Political Crisis of Neoliberalism

By Randy Shannon, National Coordinating Committee, CCDS,

Report to National Executive Committee of CCDS on the 2016 Election

November 16, 2106

(This report was fashioned to meet a ten minute spoken delivery limit.)

A New York Times analysis showed that the majority of voters whose income was less than $50k voted for Hillary Clinton. The majority of voters whose income was over $50K voted for Donald Trump. The electorate is defined as the body of persons entitled to vote in an election. 75% of the electorate gave up hope of changing the austerity regime of neoliberalism. They either did not vote for Clinton or refused to vote. Consent of the governed to the Wall Street leadership of the hegemonic bloc of capital – despite a $1 billion campaign war chest – has withered.

The Trump alternative was so repugnant that only 25% of the electorate voted for him. Thus there is an electoral mandate to reverse or reject the policy of neoliberal austerity; but there is not an electoral mandate to enact the far right policies identified with the racist obstructionist Republican Congress. This mandate was expressed in the Democratic primary vote for Sanders whose social democratic program and candidacy were nevertheless anathema to the hegemonic bloc of Wall Street banks.

The rejection of the austerity regime was also expressed in the success of all ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage. Some voter polls confirm this trend: 49% of voters cited “change” as the most important reason for their vote; of these, 85% voted for Trump. In MI and PA 50% said trade deals cost jobs; 60% of these voted for Trump.

The 2008 crash of the banks’ housing bubble accelerated the economy down the path of a deflationary crisis. Under Pres. Obama the central bank has managed the crisis for the oligarchs by using extraordinary monetary easing with zero interest and creation of money to prop up the Wall Street banks. Since 2008 the Fed Funds rate was slashed from 5.5% to 0% and the Fed’s balance sheet expanded from $870 billion in 2007 to over $4.5 trillion in 2014.

December 2015 saw the peak of the weak Fed induced economic recovery. For workers, most of whom never benefited from the recovery, the pace of economic decline has accelerated. On November 16th the NY Fed, in its monthly Empire Report, stated “employment counts and hours worked continued to decline.” A similar report of economic contraction was released by the Philadelphia Fed on November 17th. The current austerity regime offers low wage and unemployed workers no prospects, thus the Fight for $15 movement. More importantly those still employed are experiencing the slow motion economic implosion of the last 8 years.

Read more of this article »

National Forum on Police Crimes Held in Chicago

Posted by admin on May 28, 2014 under CCDS Today, Organizing, Police Repression, Racism, Rightwing | Be the First to Comment

Calls for Civilian Police Accountability Councils

By Pat Fry

In response to a national epidemic of police and vigilante killings, a two day “National Forum on Police Crimes” took place in Chicago, May 16-17. With some 250 people attending, the Forum called for legislation establishing a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) in Chicago and elsewhere.

The Forum was organized by the Chicago branch of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression on the occasion of the organization’s 41st anniversary. Founded in May 1973, the NAARPR developed out of the national and international campaign to free Angela Davis from a racist and politically-motivated frame-up. Over the years, numerous celebrated cases were won through the organizing efforts of the NAARPR including on behalf of the Rev. Ben Chavis, Joan Little, the Wilmington 10, and the Charlotte 3.

Concluding the two day Forum, a public rally with Angela Davis was held at the Trinity United Church of Christ with 1200 attending. In her address, Davis said mass incarceration and police killings stem from “structural and systemic racism rooted in the failure to fully abolish slavery.”  Global capital expansion and its pursuit of profit, she said, fuel the prison-industrial complex. While money is spent on building prisons for profit, public education and affordable housing deteriorates, she said. Davis called for the abolition of prisons, disarming of police and freedom for all political prisoners held in U.S. jails from Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier to Chelsea Manning and the Cuba Five.

Frank Chapman who headed the organizing committee for the weekend’s events introduced Davis and talked about his own freedom from prison won through the efforts of the NAARPR in 1973. Chapman who is Field Organizer and Education Director for the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression said that the NAARPR is needed now more than ever and urged rally participants to join. Chicago and Louisville are the two branches of the NAARPR active today.

The Forum, held at the University of Chicago, opened with a panel discussing the various aspects of police crimes and the initiatives underway to end them. Lennox Hinds, founding general counsel of the NAARPR, framed the discussion and said “Police are legally permitted to use deadly force. They have access to firearms 24 hours a day, on-duty and off-duty. They are free to kill anytime they suspect someone is guilty.” Black and Latino people are the most likely victims in cities with populations over 100,000, he said, making police abuse a fact of life in African American and Latino neighborhoods.

Rob Warden of the Center on Wrongful Convictions said Chicago is “the false confession capital of the world.” Recantations by people who have given false testimony are routinely rejected by the courts,” he said. Warden called for adoption of a public policy to encourage recantations.

Bernadine Dohrn, Professor of Law at Northwestern University and immediate past president of the Children and Family Justice Center, urged support for a lawsuit that would make public all complaints of police misconduct. Of the 19,000 complaints filed of police misconduct, said Dorhn, only 18 led to a police suspension of a week or more. For 85 percent of complaints, police were never interviewed, she said.

Warden, Dohrn and others talked about the police use of torture to solicit “confessions,” citing the case of Jon Burge, a Chicago detective who was convicted of torturing more than 200 suspects between1972 and l991. The exposure of Burge’s crimes led Illinois Gov. George Ryan to impose a moratorium on the death penalty in 2000.

Panelist Jeff Baker, candidate for Alderman representing Chicago’s Southside 21st Ward, called for enactment of a Civilian Police Accountability Council in Chicago. The CPAC model legislation would establish a democratically elected authority with power to directly present evidence of police crimes to a federal grand jury.

Among the participants at the Forum were victims of police crimes and family members. Danelene Powell-Watts talked about her son, Stephon, who as a 15 year old autistic youth was killed by police in February 2012 because he held a butter knife. Powell-Watts is an autoworker and member of UAW Local 551 in Chicago. Members of her union local’s Solidarity Committee organized protests of the police killing of her son.

Mike Elliott who chairs the UAW Local 551 Solidarity Committee is also Labor Secretary of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. Elliott was one of several Local 551 members who participated at the Forum, including at a Labor breakout where discussion centered on how to strengthen the labor movement’s role in building a national movement against police crimes.

Hatem Abudayyah, Executive Director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), highlighted rampant police profiling and harassment of Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities. A case in point is Rasmea Odeh, Associate Director of AAAN, who the Department of Homeland Security arrested in a politically motivated charge of giving false information on a naturalization application 20 years ago. Ms. Odeh faces a 10-year jail sentence with a trial set to begin June 10 in Detroit. Conference participants were urged to circulate a protest petition at (www.stopfbi.net).

Police violence against women was highlighted in remarks by Crista Noel who spoke about her friend, Rekia Boyd, who was murdered by police in March 2012 at the age of 22. Boyd was talking with friends when Chicago Police Det. Dante Servin approached the group and opened fire after allegedly mistaking a cell phone held by one of the youths as a gun. Noel launched a campaign for justice that led her to the United Nations where she filed a complaint before the UN Human Rights Commission. Responding to national and international pressure, charges were brought against the police officer, the first charged in a police murder in Chicago in decades. The case has yet to come to trial.

Nelson Linder, President of the NAACP branch in Austin, Texas, spoke about the increasing rate of racist police crimes in his city. In the four year period between 1999 and 2003, 10 of the 11 people who died at the hands of Austin police were African American or Latino in a city with an overwhelmingly white population. In 2004, said Linder, the Austin NAACP and the Texas Civil Rights Project invoked Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and filed a complaint detailing the systemic and widespread police misconduct of Black and Latino communities. The campaign led to demands that the U.S. Department of Justice cut off all federal money to the Austin Police Department.

Solidarity with Cecily

Posted by admin on May 19, 2014 under Police Repression, Rightwing | Be the First to Comment

Statement by the Cecily McMillan Support Committee

Justice for Cecily

May 19, 2014

Cecily McMillan Sentenced to Ninety Days Jail, Five Years Probation

Official Statement from her Support Committee
CONTACT STAN WILLIAMS |
PRESS@JUSTICEFORCECILY.COM | 256.323.1109

After years of awaiting trial Cecily McMillan was sentenced this morning to a term of incarceration of 90 days on New York’s Rikers Island and a probationary term of 5 years for allegations that she assaulted NYPD officer Grantley Bovel. The following is the official statement of her support team:

Today, Cecily Mcmillan was sentenced to 90 days in prison for being sexually assaulted by a police officer at a protest, and then responding to that violence by defending herself. We all know that Cecily did not receive a fair trial and this case will be fought in the Court of Appeals.

The sentencing of Cecily McMillan has elicited an array of deeply felt responses from a broad range of individuals and communities, and it has also created a moment to think about what solidarity means. For many of us who consider ourselves to be part of the Occupy movement, there’s first and foremost a simple and deep sadness for a member of our community who has endured a painful and demeaning physical and sexual assault, and now has had her freedom taken away from her. And it’s painfully clear to us that Cecily’s case is not special. Sexual violence against women is disturbingly common, and there is a tremendous amount of over-policing and prosecutorial overreach by the police and the courts, enacted predominantly upon black and brown populations every single day, generation after generation.

On a broader level, there’s been a tremendous outpouring of public support in the wake of the verdict, for which Cecily and the team are truly grateful. We’re heartened, too, by the outrage this blatant, heavy-handed attempt to quash dissent has elicited from the public at large. The message this verdict sends is clear: What Cecily continues to endure can happen to any woman who dares to challenge the corporate state, its Wall Street patrons, and their heavy handed enforcers, the NYPD. We certainly think outrage is an appropriate response from economic and social justice activists and allies who are concerned about the silencing of those who push for change. The DA and the courts want to make an example out of Cecily—to deter us, to scare us, to keep us out of the streets. And we won’t let that happen. This ruling will not deter us, it will strengthen our resolve.

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CCDS Statement on Ukraine

Posted by admin on March 16, 2014 under CCDS Today, Non-Intervention, Rightwing, Solidarity, Ukraine, War | Be the First to Comment

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

March 15, 2014

A dangerous situation continues to develop in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. With no solution in sight, there is major tension with potential for long-term instability and war.  Many protesters in the Ukraine’s Maidan Square understandably are demanding democracy, clean government and economic justice. The repression and use of force by the Yanukovich government was reprehensible.  However, rightwing nationalists and fascistic groups gained leadership in the movement. With the backing of the European Union and U.S. neo-cons, attempts at compromise were thwarted and a coup was staged. Russia responded with military action to safeguard its perceived national security interests including its naval base in Crimea, and is thus supporting a Crimean referendum to secede from the Ukraine.

The Obama administration, confronted by U.S. involvement engineered by Bush appointed State Department officials, sided with the neo-cons to back the new Ukrainian regime. Thus the president greeted the coup-installed Prime Minister Yatsenyuk on March 12 at the White House in a highly publicized meeting. The U.S. increased its military maneuvers on Russia’s borders and is threatening visa restrictions, economic sanctions and various other ways to isolate Russia.

The Obama administration immediately proposed a billion dollar aid package for the new government, even as U.S. cities and pensions are going bankrupt and food stamps cut. U.S. energy companies savor the thought of huge deals to supply Western Europe with newly fracked natural gas if Russian supplies are cut. The IMF is contemplating various sorts of structural adjustment in the Ukrainian economy to benefit the rich.  Meanwhile, there is no sign of Russia backing down or a resolution to the crisis.

Thus, the Obama-led centrist Democrats formed a block with right-wing Republicans and neo-cons. Anti-Russian propaganda is nearly universal in the mainstream media. Russia’s response has been universally condemned with no mention of the U.S.-European role in fomenting the illegal coup. Criticism of U.S. policy is confined to questioning whether the Obama response is too weak. These developments have increased the danger of war.The Progressive Democrats of America,  however, issued a statement condemning US collaboration with fascist forces and thus split with the dominant US narrative.

After the collapse of the SovietUnion, the West pledged to respect Russia’s national security concerns, advancing NATO’s “not one inch east” statement.  Breaking their promises, U.S./NATO incorporated one Eastern European country after the other into NATO and the EU.  An anti-ballistic missile system was installed in Eastern Europe, ostensibly to stop an Iranian attack, but obviously targeting Russian missile systems.  The Western attempt to bring Ukraine into its orbit transgressed Russia’s most important “red line,” according to Prof. Stephen Cohen, and the Russian reaction was entirely predictable.

The Ukrainian situation is a clear example of the U.S. “Deep State” (http://ouleft.sp-mesolite.tilted.net/?p=1682) determining foreign policy – a combination of financial, corporate and military-industrial interests, motivated by anti-communist and now neo-con ideology. Formed at the end of World War II, the Deep State is the actual power center of U.S. capitalism and imperialism.  The Deep State has the loyalty of many key government officials and has been able to push its policies with various successes over the last few decades, regardless of what party wins national elections. Thus the Obama administration is not fully in control of its own foreign policy. Influential neo-cons within the Deep State are currently putting forward a far-right agenda in not only Ukraine but also in Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Japan and other places, trying to substitute confrontation and military action for diplomacy. The neo-con objective is to persist in constructing the so-called “new American century” of regime change not only in the Middle East but eventually in Russia and China to facilitate their long-term goal of U.S. global hegemony.

The U.S. peace movement was strong in responding to the Syrian crisis last summer, surging to stop war.  However, the response to the Ukraine crisis has been slow.

This is due in part to the shifting strategy of U.S. imperialism from a strategy of invasion and occupation during the Bush years to covert and high tech operations today.  How does the antiwar movement oppose a covert program that is all but invisible?  Organizing a consensus response to the new imperial strategy of mainly covert operations is a major challenge to the peace and justice movement.

CCDS urges:

  • No U.S. intervention in the Ukraine situation and no economic or military support for a government with major fascist participation.
  • Support for negotiations, demilitarization and a peaceful resolution of a dangerous situation.
  • Balanced and objective education to counter the rightwing mainstream narrative.

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

www.cc-ds.org

We Are All Detroit

Posted by admin on July 27, 2013 under African American, Labor, Neoliberalism, Political Economy, Racism, Rightwing, Trade Unions, Wall St | Be the First to Comment

 

Statement by the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

We all have a stake in the outcome of the power grab and bankruptcy of Detroit. The move to rob pensions from some 30,000 active and retired city workers and the selling off of property owned by the people of Detroit – city parks, public services and works of art at one of the most celebrated museums in the country – is a threat to us all.

The contract between the city and its workers to fund a pension plan is no less valid as contracts between the city and its corporate partners. Bond speculators’ losses should not be covered by workers’ retirement income.

No pension fund in the country will be safe. Next will be Social Security. Using the same rationale – that we can no longer afford to sustain a “greedy” middle class – the basis is laid for the complete shredding of the social contract between capital and labor won in bloody struggles of the last century.  The right to income security in old age, health care, civil rights and voting rights, collective bargaining and the promise of a rising standard of living, good housing and education in return for productive labor that creates all wealth is being torn apart.

Democracy hangs in the balance. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-controlled State Legislature refused to follow the will of the people of Michigan who overturned by a 58% margin the law used to take over cities with a so-called Emergency Financial Manager.  The patently illegal and unconstitutional measure gives power to EFMs – unelected Czars – to strip mayors and city councils of all authority, including their salaries, tear up union contracts and sell off public assets, services and property at bargain basement prices.  Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Allen Park, Detroit – six cities and three school boards in Michigan – are now under dictatorial EFM rule. All except Allen Park have majority African American populations. These cities are largely former auto manufacturing centers deserted by GM, Ford and Chrysler in pursuit of race-to-the bottom profits. More than half of the 1.5 million African American population of the state are now under rule of an unelected EFM czar.

The Governor and legislature thwarted the public’s will on the EFM referendum at the same time they enacted the anti-union Right-To-Work (for less) law in December, a measure to further weaken unions and drive down wages. This and other reactionary legislation passed over the last several months in Michigan, as in other Republican controlled state governments, has been orchestrated by the corporate funded right-wing ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The banks will be the big winners in bankruptcy. Detroit’s EFM, Kevyn Orr, will guarantee it.  His law firm represents the banks that hold Detroit’s debt.  The debt figures themselves are politically contrived and exaggerated.  The Governor has denied Detroit $220 million in tax revenue-sharing and other funds earmarked in President Obama’s first term stimulus package. Instead, the money was used to balance the state’s budget while blaming city leaders, mainly African American, for budget shortfalls and “mismanagement.” The UBS AG bank – which pled guilty to interest rate-rigging in a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit – lent the city $1.5 billion in 2004 in a predatory scheme, causing two defaults after the 2008 financial meltdown. The defaults triggered debt ratings to plunge and interest rates to rocket.

The city’s tax base has been decimated with the loss of over half of the city’s population due to the auto industry’s near total abandonment of the city. With an unemployment rate in double digits, 50% of young people have no jobs and no prospect of getting one because there is no public transportation out of the city where the jobs are located.

A power grab and theft of this magnitude assumes that the country will not care that a predominantly African American city – the largest black majority city outside of Africa – is plundered. This is a pilot project for finance capital, a test run for every other city and town in the country.

The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism stands with unions, community and religious organizations, and all the people of Detroit who are fighting back.

We stand with the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest federation of labor unions, which issued a statement on July 25th calling on President Obama and the Congress to make an immediate financial transfusion to Detroit. Additionally, the AFL-CIO calls on the State of Michigan to give comparable financial support to Detroit, the largest of Michigan’s cities.

In solving the budget crisis, we the people must demand of our President and Congress enactment of legislation to revitalize our urban centers in the interest of the working class, not the banks. In the face of corporate irresponsibility, we must have a government-sponsored jobs program to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and our urban centers, develop new manufacturing industries to transition to a green, sustainable environment for the future of our children and our planet. We urgently need it for Detroit and for us all.

July 27, 2013

Discussion Article: Call For An Anti-Fascist Movement – Before It’s Too Late

Posted by admin on September 12, 2011 under Elections, Racism, Rightwing, Strategy | Read the First Comment

By Rafael Pizarro

In the past, when I’d been politically active helping to elect Democrats and for social justice and equality, I used to take exception to the word “fascism” being thrown around, even with reference to the worst conservatives. I thought that people would stop listening to us in the movement if we sounded like alarmists. I also thought that in order to have an effective strategy, you needed to be precise in your understandings of the times and your opposition. I was sometimes ridiculed and called a “sell-out” because of this position, but I stood firm because the stakes were too high to waffle on this.

But times have changed. If you read the American Heritage dictionary definition of fascism, you’ll see that it was a movement created by Mussolini whose ideology was ultra-nationalist, and anti-socialist. That definition almost perfectly describes the Tea Party. I say almost because it’s even worse. Now that socialism has been killed as a legitimate vision in this country, it’s progressivism, liberalism and often democracy itself that’s in the sights of extreme right-wingers. Yet, so far, the Tea Party and its fellow travelers have been effective politically and have managed to disarm their critics by capturing the media.

I say it’s time to stop this dangerous trend in American politics. Those who seek to limit voting rights to the poor, students and any group that would counter them at the ballot box (both through legislation and trickery); those who insist that the problem with our economy is that the poorest portion of it doesn’t pay taxes (which just isn’t true); those who strenuously fight even modest increases in the taxes paid by the richest 2% of our country – despite the fact that their taxes have declined steadily for the past fifty years; those who believe that our system of government must be based on the precepts of one particular religious view; those who brand anyone who opposes their policies traitors who have no right to a voice in democratic debates; those who continue to support the policy of handing over all functions of government – even the basic function of national security – to private businesses that have no public oversight; those who blame our problems on immigrants – just as earlier fascist movements scapegoated Jews, Gypsies, gays and other “outsiders; those who say that the answer is to hand over any remaining government functions to local and state control – just as the South did over the issue of slavery; those who steadily chop away at the rights of Americans to seek union representation; those who brand gay and transgender citizens as sub-human and those who’ve made racism and sexism acceptable – these people undermine our nation’s greatest principles of equality, democracy, tolerance and compassion. When will we do something about that? And what must we do?

There are very smart and well-meaning leaders who would have us focus on the ballot box and legislative processes to stop these dangerous people. But they have been ineffective. They complain that the Tea Party and other groupings of ultra-conservatives capture the public debate and influence government not in spite of their positions, but by making their positions so outrageous, their actions in support of these so provocative that the media can’t ignore them and, in fact, give them greater exposure than their opponents. But these smart and well-meaning leaders do little to counter that.

So what do I propose? Not armed revolution. Not thugs who attack those they disagree with. Not a secret, underground movement. I simply propose that we use the weapons ultra-conservatives have used so effectively.

I’d like to see a coalition of the left and of the sensible. I believe it’s time to create an Anti-Fascist Front. What would such a coalition do? Move past the positions and grand visions of government that divide us and use our collective strength to return our sensible political positions – i.e. expanded, not limited voting rights, progressive taxation, the right to collective bargaining, religious tolerance and compassion, to name but a few we can all agree on – to the public discourse. We don’t do that enough to be effective. When progressives and trade unionists call for a civil rights rally in Washington, liberals don’t come. When liberals call for a political stunt to highlight their opposition to current trends in politics, trade unionists don’t come. We need to work together.

This has been said before and the obstacles have always overtaken our goals. But the crisis is more urgent that usual. We have to insert our broad and sensible positions into the public discourse, i.e., the media, before the ultra-right capture more and more of it.

The Tea Party uses stunts and outrageous statements to get its message across, why can’t we? Certainly we can think of ways to capture the media’s attention just as they can. I won’t discuss particular tactics here as they will immediately be ridiculed. I’ll just say that it’s possible to use social media, flash-mobs, rallies at legislator’s offices, etc. as effectively as ultra-conservatives do. Michael Moore is an excellent example of someone who knows how to do this effectively. But he’s only one person and we’ve allowed him to be marginalized as part of the “loony left.”

The first step is to start talking about it, to agree to work together to get our voices heard – by (almost) any means necessary. We won’t concede the moral high ground; we won’t intimidate the way they do. But we’ll insist that our voices be heard by using the most effective tactics to do so, even if they may appear silly or even outrageous to some onlookers. We won’t run screaming into the arms of the opposition when they label something “socialist” or “communist” or “one-world.” In fact, by publicly embracing the rights of citizens to have these ideas, just as the ultra-right has a right, so essential to democracy, to espouse their ideas, we’ll certainly get the media attention we deserve. The Tea Party does silly and outrageous things in support of their reactionary politics. People laugh or look down their noses at them – just as they did at Hitler and the Nazis before it was too late – but they do it anyway, knowing that they will, in any event, get their voices heard and their positions out there. It’s time we turn their own weapons against them.

Who will join me? Who will stand up to the rise of fascism and its ideological fellow travelers and defenders? Who will simply acknowledge that we need an anti-fascist movement now if we’re to rescue our country and our citizens from a ruthless mob funded by the super-rich towards anti-democratic ends? At long last, who will stand up for decency, democracy, compassion and an economy that doesn’t impoverish the vast majority of Americans?

Rafael Pizarro, a New England based trade union organizer, was a founder and early co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

Deconstructing ‘The Matter of Tone’

Posted by admin on May 18, 2011 under African American, Elections, Racism, Rightwing | 3 Comments to Read

The Struggle for Unity and the Debate on the 2012 Election

By Randy Shannon

May 17, 2011

In its April 21st issue the Black Commentator published an article “How Do We Respond to Obama?” by editorial board member Bill Fletcher, Jr. His article was subsequently published by CCDS in its weekly newsletter, CCDSLinks. Fletcher is an activist and leader of the African American community, the labor movement, and the left.

Fletcher argued that the political focus should be on the administration and not the man, that the administration is sensitive to pressure, and that “the left and progressives have failed to offer sustained pressure on the administration.” He outlined a strategy to build sustained mass pressure on the Obama Administration “to do not only what he has promised but to  go beyond what he as promised.” A key point:

Forget running a candidate against Obama in 2012. That would be a sure way to alienate much of his black and Latin base. Instead, there needs to be a progressive strategy focused on Congressional races. That means identifying key races to run genuine progressive candidates against conservative Democrats and/or Republicans.

The other elements of the strategy are to build local electoral organizations that can run progressive candidates, to build a mass protest movement willing to engage in civil disobedience and to link with global social movements challenging US foreign policy.

Responses to Fletcher

Fletcher’s article set off a lively debate on the CCDS listserv (available to members) that generated numerous posts. Some of the listserv responses are published on the public CCDS Discussion Board.  The debate focused on the political question of tactics and strategy of the progressive majority and the left for the 2012 election.

Tom Hayden’s response was also published by CCDSLinks April 29th edition:

Obama will have an impossible time mobilizing the same level of resources, organizers and energy of his grass-roots campaign of 2008. So he could lose in some of the dozen states where he won by 1-3 points in that historic year.

As things turned out, however, the big constituencies of the Democratic Party [like labor] have failed to come up with effective strategies to turn the economy around and end the wars.

I think we are at a historic turning point in our culture when so many white people are incapable of accepting the election of a black president…They pose a serious internal threat…of the rise of right wing violence due to the election of a black president and an economic recession.

Like Bill Fletcher, I hope we can return to the grass-roots agenda of trying to shift public opinion and building state and local power bases capable of creating blue-state models of social change and competing with the corporations to push Obama towards…making the presidency a progressive bastion.

In May, the Black Commentator published “We Need Radicals and not Reformists” by CCDS member Jonathan Nack. It was subsequently published in CCDSLinks. It was crafted as a critical response to Fletcher’s article.

Nack claims that Fletcher’s strategy “requires remaining within the political orbit of the Democratic Party” and that it “ignores the outside piece” of a “balanced electoral approach that operates both inside and outside the orbit of the Democrats.” He states:

I suggest that those progressives and socialists, who, for all kinds of reasons, good and not so good, work within the political orbit of the Democratic Party, should be doing their best to find a good candidate to challenge Pres. Obama in the primary.

Ted Pearson, a leader of CCDS from Chicago, responded to Nack’s article:

The heart of Nack’s criticism of Fletcher revolves around what Nack sees as a winning strategy in 2012: running a progressive candidate for President against Barack Obama, something that Fletcher explicitly rejects…

Nack just tosses aside (perhaps he feels it’s irrelevant) what Fletcher observes regarding Black and Latino masses. He doesn’t challenge it, he just ignores it…the objective content of willfully ignoring “[Obama’s] black and Latin base”…speaks for itself, whether the author intended that or not. To offer Cynthia McKinney, who polled virtually none of the Black and Latino vote in the 2008 election, as a candidate against Obama in 2012 is, in my opinion, at best condescending and perhaps much worse.

I would submit that this debate is not about reform v. revolution or radical v. reformist. It is about whether we see the working class as a whole and African Americans and Latinos in particular as the decisive forces…that must be energized for progressive change in the next 17 months. I’m not going to call Jonathan Nack a racist or an anti-working class person. I don’t believe he is, certainly not in his own mind. But what he is advocating plays into the hands of those who are.

The Medium is the Message

Nack’s article is remarkable for its opening three paragraphs:

It’s nice to see Bill Fletcher start to wake up. Unfortunately, he’s (sic) still has a long way to go.  Maybe he’s still groggy.

Fletcher’s main problem is that he’s no longer a radical, but a reformist.  He demonstrates this by his rejection of more radical strategies without even considering them – the true hallmark of all reformists.

As has often been said, insanity is continuing to do the same thing, while expecting different results.  Put another way, if progressives don’t think outside of the box, we will stay trapped in the box.

There was some discussion on the CCDS listserv of what was called the “tone” of Nack’s article which was variously described as “ad hominem” containing “personal attack on the author,” “condescension” and “arrogant tone.” A number of discussants including Nack rejected this complaint; some warned against a “discussion of personalities and not substance.”

Mark Solomon, an emeritus co-chairman of CCDS, discussed the political issues and commented on “the issue of tone:”

Finally it is understandable that in the discussion…most respondents desired to get beyond the issue of tone and allegations of personal attack. However, as others have noted, utterances that mock and insult are political questions that impact the content of relationships and thus undermine the strength and integrity of the socialist and progressive left…Those who view the characterizations in the article as sharp but not vindictive are asked to reread them. Any fair reading will, I believe, confirm its unjustly supercilious and mocking tone…

Perhaps a more detailed deconstruction of Nack’s opening paragraph can aide the reader to engage in the “fair reading” that Solomon urges. Nack’s choice of words to open and to frame his article reflects a social and cultural experience unique to Americans. The particular words that we choose to transmit our political ideas also transmit a social relationship and cultural heritage.

The words are the medium, to borrow a concept from McLuhan.  This summary of his concept is instructional to an effort to deconstruct Nack’s opening paragraph:

The medium is the message” is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.

“It’s nice to see Bill Fletcher start to wake up” means that the author is awake and observes Bill Fletcher, who is asleep, begin to awaken. Those who are awake are enlightened and those who are asleep are in the dark. Those asleep are unable to consider “more radical strategies” or to “think outside the box.”

Thus Nack’s choice of words places himself as intellectually superior to the object of his criticism. He extends the metaphor of sleepiness by maintaining that Fletcher is still “groggy,” or drunken with sleep.

McLuhan says that we often miss the social implications of the medium in focusing on the obvious content. In our society racism is central to the dominant culture of the capitalist class. The social implications of how we frame our arguments are determined by the social history of certain concepts. It is often precisely when one reaches for phrases to express superiority that the legacy of racism in our culture serves that purpose.

Nack’s construction of his superiority over Fletcher, who is characterized as groggily awakening from political sleep, employs a stereotype that is deeply rooted in the racist culture developed in the era of slavery. American popular culture and media have preserved and transmitted this “sleepy Negro” stereotype.

Alternatively, the framing or tone of the political debate itself can serve the critical need for unity of the progressive majority. There is no subject matter so pressing that the social construct of the argument can be disregarded. It may be difficult and at times unpleasant, but the greater good is served by developing consciousness of the social constructs upon which we base our ideas, either consciously or unconsciously.

The “Sleepy Negro” Stereotype

In his 2009 article “Black and White TV – African Americans in Televisions Since 1948” Fred MacDonald points out that the most employed early black actor was Willie Best, whose nickname was “Sleep ‘n’ Eat.”

If Eddie Anderson failed to enhance the image of blacks in television, Willie Best was absolutely detrimental to that image. Ironically, Best was also the most prolifically employed black actor in early TV. Best entered movies in the 1930s where, as a younger version of Stepin Fetchit, he was nicknamed “Sleep ‘n’ Eat.”

In a 1999 student essay Can Gramsci’s theory of hegemony help us to understand the representation of ethnic minorities in western television and cinema?, Reena Mistry notes:

Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony is of particular salience to the exploration of racial representations in the media because of its focus on culture and ideology…The fact that television and cinema are central to popular culture is crucial because Gramsci says particular attention should be given to ‘everyday’ routine structures and ‘common sense’ values in trying to locate mechanisms of domination (Gitlin, 1994:517).

Many of the clearly racist images of past television and cinema that are now fading from western screens can, in hindsight, be easily explained in hegemonic terms – particularly in relation to colonialism and white supremacy. The use of Gramsci’s notion of hegemony does not expire here, however; it can be used to identify both elements of the old racist stereotypes and new, but destructive, representations of racial minorities in the current media of a seemingly liberal society. Thus, it is unsurprising that racism, though perhaps more covertly, still pervades our society…racism is inferred and reinforced in ‘the routine structures of everyday thought’ (Gitlin, 1994:517)

The May 1944 issue of The Crisis, the NAACP publication, carries the article “So Philadelphia Is Sleepy Eh?” by Ralph H. Jones that elaborates the connotation of “sleepy” in this context:

About ninety miles southeast of the town that could be called an empire is a sleepy little village of two million souls. New Yorkers condescendingly pronounce its Quaker name, Philadelphia. Within its metropolitan environs live approximately 300,000 Negroes. New Yorkers have said they are sleepy, backward, don’t know the angles or the time of day and in most respects measure up to the “hick” reputation tabbed them by the rest of the east.

The September 1939 Time Magazine article “Fisheries: Blue Crabs” contains:

Its factory at Port Royal, S. C. buys the crabs during the day from sleepy Negro fishermen, packs them before the next dawn—150 cases a night.

In the article “Race in Film: Stormy Weather” Kartina Richardson refers to a depiction of the stereotype in the 1935 film:

The sleepy negro in the corner agrees with a ridiculous “Awwm tyyred too!” and Bill falls fast asleep.

The 1929 novel Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe uses the stereotype:

A sleepy Negro employed at the Manor Hotel clambered heavily up and slumped into one of the seats reserved for his race at the back.

A 1920 short story published by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Jelly Bean” perpetuates the stereotype:

The room was deserted except for a sleepy negro dozing behind the counter and two boys lazily fingering a pair of dice at one of the tables.

In 1919 Marcus Garvey pointed out the centrality of this stereotype in a public letter “Negroes of the World, The Eternal Has Happened.”

Five years ago the Negro Universal was sleeping upon his bale of cotton in the South of America…

Charles W. Chesnutt, a post-Reconstruction author and early member of the NAACP wrote in the 1920’s about social conflict in the South. In Uncle Wellington’s Wives he employs the “sleepy Negro” stereotype:

He went around to the dark side of the train, and climbed into a second-class car, where he shrank into the darkest corner and turned his face away from the dim light of the single dirty lamp. There were no passengers in the car except one or two sleepy negroes, who had got on at some other station, and a white man who had gone into the car to smoke, accompanied by a gigantic bloodhound.

Herman Melville in his 1856 novella “Benito Cereno,” which was published serially in a magazine employs the motif in variation:

He advanced to an old Barcelona tar, in ragged red breeches and dirty night-cap, cheeks trenched and bronzed, whiskers dense as thorn hedges. Seated between two sleepy-looking Africans, this mariner, like his younger shipmate, was employed upon some rigging- splicing a cable- the sleepy-looking blacks performing the inferior function of holding the outer parts of the ropes for him.

An 1839 narrative called The Adventures of Isaac Knight employs a descriptive use of the stereotype that was reinforced by the assertion of a true story:

Isaac tumbled in with him but not to sleep. His fate, as yet, was too uncertain. By the side of the sleepy-headed negro he laid and watched for the day to dawn. Seeing, as he did, the first appearance of light in the morning, with much difficulty, he awoke the little negro.

In his Notes on the State of Virginia published in 1784 Thomas Jefferson’s observations of his slaves helped to construct the panoply of racist stereotypes that were used to justify slavery:

To this must be ascribed their disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labour.

Jefferson’s writings were used by the slave power in the South to establish a culture imbued throughout with racism and prejudice.

The Southern abolitionist Hinton Helper cited Jefferson. He criticized the effects of slavery on the white population in the South, but was himself a virulent racist. In 1868 he published a vicious attack on Black Reconstruction entitled “The Negroes in Negroland” that included “His Inertia and Sleepy-headedness” as one of a list of attributes of the former slaves.

In Slavery in the West Indies in the 18th Century the 1823 “Planters Guide” by the slave owner Richard Roughley is cited:

The Barbadoes hospital, in 1762, was crowded with sick soldiers who were attended by Negro nurses. “But being a sleepy indolent sort of people,” frequently neglected their charges, and always slept soundly when placed on night duty.

The reality that slaves were literally worked to death until the slave trade was banned, and then subsequently worked to the point of exhaustion was irrelevant to the creators of the stereotype. Racist culture distorted consciousness and impaired the ability of many whites to recognize black reality.

Decision Point

To the degree that corporations continue to profit from racial discrimination, racist stereotypes are perpetuated through literature, film, television and other media. Stereotypes perpetuate the ability of whites to accept and/or implement economic and social discrimination against African Americans and other minorities. Racism weakens solidarity, which reduces the numbers that can be mobilized. This can undermine the will to fight the austerity and cutbacks that affect all working people.

While African Americans are suffering enormous blows from the austerity campaign, leaders such as Bill Fletcher struggle to unite the progressive majority around a common strategy that opposes the austerity policies of the Obama administration. Nack’s article raises the deeper question of whether left electoral groups and other left organizations that are predominantly white, can respond to the reality of the political moment that Fletcher describes and avoid splitting the movement over the question of who is President.

Socialist and Green Party activists have stated that their parties will run candidates for President and at the same time acknowledge that the focus on local politics is key. Limited resources mean they can’t have it both ways. Nack’s inadvertent grasping of a long standing racial stereotype while arguing for an alternate presidential candidate illustrates the power dynamic in play. Will they answer the question posed by Fletcher; that a candidate against Obama in 2012 would be a sure way to alienate much of his black and Latin base, or, as in Nack’s article, ignore it?

Mark Solomon’s post points out that:

The present moment holds within it a potential seismic shift in the country’s political dynamic…the socialist and progressive left can have a measurable impact on helping to give coherence, clarity and organizing force to the fight back – many aspects which to this point have had little or no contact with the left.

With the 2012 elections looming, a strong public demand for an emergency jobs program led by an alliance of labor and community forces can have significant impact.

Such efforts will inevitably flow into the 2012 elections where the primary focus upon the crisis and the fight back will be the basis for finding the best…tactics based on local circumstances.

In his May 2011 report to CCDS, (as yet unpublished) co-chair Carl Bloice stated that the challenge to the left is to join the fight back against the austerity measures, which is already underway. He says that a key question for the movement is how to link the locally developing resistance movement to the fight against austerity in Congress.

This moment is pregnant with the possibility of progressive forces aligning into a more cohesive movement capable of challenging war and austerity.  This new stage can only be ushered in by a purposeful and creative struggle for unity of purpose and action. Central to this struggle for unity is the understanding that African Americans and other oppressed nationalities are core constituents of the progressive majority. The struggle to overcome divisions and insensitivity that flow from the influences of racist ideology is necessary to build that unity.

The struggle against racism always takes place against concrete conditions that shape its manifestations. Today, we have an African American president that is reviled by the right and stonewalled by the majority in Congress. His public support is uncertain, yet his support among the most oppressed sectors of the population remains strong even while they oppose many of his policies.

Successful politics is the understanding of who our allies are and how to work in solidarity to realize our common goals. That is more important now than ever.

Discussion Paper on the Current Situation and Our Tasks

Posted by admin on May 5, 2011 under Neoliberalism, Obama, Political Economy, Rightwing | 2 Comments to Read

The Crisis of Global Capitalism

and the Specter of 21st Century Fascism

By William I. Robinson

Solidarity Economy.net via Z-Net

(The following is a synopsis of several recent talks given by Robinson, a professor of sociology and global studies at the University of California in Santa Barbara, on the global crisis, the immigrant rights movement, and 21st century fascism)

The crisis of global capitalism is unprecedented, given its magnitude, its global reach, the extent of ecological degradation and social deterioration, and the scale of the means of violence. We truly face a crisis of humanity. The stakes have never been higher; our very survival is at risk. We have entered into a period of great upheavals and uncertainties, of momentous changes, fraught with dangers if also opportunities. I want to discuss here the crisis of global capitalism and the notion of distinct political responses to the crisis, with a focus on the far-right response and the danger of what I refer to as 21st century fascism, particularly in the United States.

Facing the crisis calls for an analysis of the capitalist system, which has underwent restructuring and transformation in recent decades. The current moment involves a qualitatively new transnational or global phase of world capitalism that can be traced back to the 1970s, and is characterized by the rise of truly transnational capital and a transnational capitalist class, or TCC. Transnational capital has been able to break free of nation-state constraints to accumulation of the previous epoch, and with it, to shift the correlation of class and social forces worldwide sharply in its favor and to undercut the strength of popular and working classes around the world in the wake of the global rebellions of the 1960s and the 1970s.

Emergent transnational capital underwent a major expansion in the 1980s and 1990s, involving hyper-accumulation through new technologies such as computers and informatics, through neo-liberal policies, and through new modalities of mobilizing and exploiting the global labor force – including a massive new round of primitive accumulation, uprooting, and displacing hundreds of millions of people, especially in the third world countryside, who have become internal and transnational migrants.

We face a system that is now much more integrated, and dominant groups that have accumulated an extraordinary amount of transnational power and control over global resources and institutions.

Read more of this article »

Scorecards & Players: Political Economy for 2012

Posted by admin on April 15, 2011 under Neoliberalism, Political Economy, Rightwing | Be the First to Comment

Graphic: Milton Friedman of the ‘Chicago School’

What is Neoliberalism?

A Brief Definition for Activists

By Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

"Neo-liberalism" is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.
"
Liberalism" can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Rightwing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate "liberals" — meaning the political type — have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.
"
Neo" means we are talking about a new kind of liberalism. So what was the old kind? The liberal school of economics became famous in Europe when Adam Smith, an Scottish economist, published a book in 1776 called THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. He and others advocated the abolition of government intervention in economic matters. No restrictions on manufacturing, no barriers to commerce, no tariffs, he said; free trade was the best way for a nation’s economy to develop. Such ideas were "liberal" in the sense of no controls. This application of individualism encouraged "free" enterprise," "free" competition — which came to mean, free for the capitalists to make huge profits as they wished.

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Worker Solidarity – ‘We Have an Enemy, and It Must Be Named: Finance Capital’

Posted by admin on February 27, 2011 under Organizing, Rightwing, Trade Unions | Read the First Comment

Statement on Events in Wisconsin

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS)

February 27, 2011

The CCDS supports the Wisconsin public workers, now locked in battle to defend their right to collective bargaining against a legislative effort led by Governor Walker to deny those rights. We also support the workers in Indiana and Ohio who are battling similar attacks.

Though it may seem too obvious for comment after the last two weeks of electrifying news reports, the events at the Madison statehouse demonstrate the tremendous power of organized workers to attract popular solidarity and to shake up the world of government. Wisconsin’s Democratic state senators continue their boycott of the legislative session in an effort to block Walker’s union-busting “Budget Repair Bill.”

The grassroots wave passed to Indiana, leading Democratic state representatives to successfully kill a “right-to-work” bill by boycotting the legislative session in their state. On February 23rd, ten thousand Indiana workers and their allies packed the Indiana Statehouse, filling the ground floor and all three floors of the atrium. Thousands have picketed the Ohio Capitol.

The following day, teachers at the LaCrosse campus of the University of Wisconsin, galvanized by the actions of their co-workers, voted in overwhelming numbers to form a union. Even if today’s battles are defensive, given this show of power, it is an opportunity for labor to commence a concerted and unified effort to organize the unorganized among both public and private sector workers. Forward ever, backward never!

Those who may be misled into thinking that unionized public workers are overpaid need to think about the South. They need to be reminded of the 1968 struggle by African-American sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee to lift themselves from poverty by forming a union. They need to be reminded of the Charleston, South Carolina hospital workers who, in 1969, braved mass arrests and virtual martial law in a 100-day strike. They need to know that in North Carolina, where public employee collective bargaining has been prohibited by law since 1959, the annual wages of a significant number of full-time public workers are low enough to qualify for poverty programs – in the year 2011. It is a situation shared by masses of unorganized private sector workers in the fields, packing houses, and factories throughout the right-to-work South. If collective bargaining really were the problem, the Southern states would not be facing the same budgetary crisis faced by other states.

That Southern reality is the essence of Martin Luther King’s proposed Poor People’s Campaign, and the meaning of his statement to the 1961 Fourth Constitutional Convention of the AFL-CIO,

“Our needs are identical with labor’s needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community….The duality of interests of labor and Negroes makes any crisis which lacerates you a crisis from which we bleed. As we stand on the threshold of the second half of the twentieth century, a crisis confronts us both.”

Dr. King’s message was reiterated by Julian Bond, then chair of the NAACP, to the 25th Constitutional Convention of the AFL-CIO in 2005.

On February 12, 2011, for the fifth year in a row, thousands marched on the North Carolina General Assembly building on Jones Street in Raleigh. The Historic Thousands on Jones Street coalition brings together the NAACP, the AFL-CIO, the NC Council of Churches and others behind a 14-point agenda, from workers rights, immigrant rights and ending the re-segregation of schools, to bringing the troops home. Ending the war in Afghanistan would save Wisconsin taxpayers alone $1.7 billion this year, ten times more than the measures proposed by Governor Walker.

We not only have a goal and allies in this struggle for democracy, but we also have an enemy, and it must be named: finance capital, that segment of the capitalist class which controls the nation’s brokerage houses, investment banks, insurance firms and hedge funds. A September 3, 2010 report by PBS estimates that since 2008, the total cost to the U.S. public for bailing out the deregulated financial institutions which caused the present economic crisis is $12.8 trillion in outlays and guarantees. This sum was never re-invested in creating decent jobs. And ordinary folk are asked to bear the pain.

Today, the set of public policies that define the crisis of which Dr. King spoke goes by the name “neo-liberalism,” which can be understood, simply, as the program of finance capital to achieve dominance by turning back popular reforms won, not only in the New Deal era, but during the Reconstruction era as well. Neo-liberalism is a program of deregulation, privatization, austerity and war.

Indeed, a careful reading of Governor Walker’s complex, 144 page long “Budget Repair Bill” reveals it to be a prime example of the neo-liberal agenda of austerity and war. It is certainly an attack on collective bargaining, but its negative significance goes well beyond. It is an attack on public services: Kaiser Health News reported that the bill “would also allow the Walker administration to make potentially drastic changes in health programs with little legislative oversight.” The story cited Wisconsin Senator Vinehout’s prediction that “large numbers of people will lose BadgerCare," a component of Wisconsin’s Medicaid program. By assaulting retirement benefits, health benefits, and public services, the bill is the cutting edge of an assault on all workers’ social wages. And it is an attack on publicly-owned enterprises: Section 44 of the bill contains a provision to “sell any state-owned heating, cooling and power plant or [to] contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount the department determines to be in the best interest of the state.” And the clincher: the bill contains a provision to refinance $165 million in state bonds. Governor Walker’s warning to legislators is to pass the bill now or face the wrath of the bankers as payments come due.

What we face in February’s battle over state budgets we will face in a battle over the federal budget in March, with Republicans threatening a government shutdown if they do not get $4 billion in cuts to non-military government spending. Our answer is: cut wars, not people, revitalize the progressive income tax structure that has been gutted by 30 years of neo-liberalism, enact a financial transaction tax on Wall Street, create jobs by passing the Full Employment bill soon to be reintroduced by Rep. John Conyers, defend public services upon which we all depend, fight to save collective bargaining and all our hard-won human rights.

State-level movements need national coordination for this nation-wide battle. Reactivate the One Nation Working Together coalition!

And to the workers of Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio: our heartfelt thanks – may your occupation of the statehouses foretell the day when you become the governors.

REFERENCES:

PBS report on “The true cost of the bank bailout:”

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/economy/the-true-cost-of-the-bank-bailout/3309/

Walker’s “Budget Repair Bill:”

http://legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/data/JR1SB-11.pdf

Julian Bond’s 2005 speech to the AFL-CIO:

http://www.aflcio.org/mediacenter/speakout/julian_bond.cfm

Kaiser Health News article:

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2011/February/25/Dennis-Smith-Wisconsin-Medicaid-Cuts.aspx

Bringing home 150 Troops From Afghanistan Would Fix Wisconsin’s Budget "Crisis"

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/02/19-5

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

national@cc-ds.org www.cc-ds.org 212-868-3733