Posted by Paul Hogarth - July 31, 2008 | Book Review

Reprinted from BeyondChron.

Markos Moulitsas’ new book, Taking On the System, is not really about political blogs. One would expect the founder of Daily Kos to write about the netroots (and his book offers plenty of anecdotes about how they’ve changed politics), but it’s really a guide for how ordinary people can make an impact in the 21st Century. Moulitsas writes about how the Internet has democratized the process – making old gatekeepers like party bosses, media moguls and even record companies less powerful and relevant than before. But modeling himself after the late Saul Alinsky, Moulitsas offers plenty of pragmatic advice for political activists – like “stay on message,” “how to handle your enemies,” and “pick your battles” – that was applicable in an earlier era. In the 21st Century, however, more can play this game. Taking On the System is a resource for progressives hopeful about November – but anxious about how to keep that momentum going in an Obama Administration.

The impact Daily Kos and other blogs have had is so well established that anyone picking up Taking On the System will probably be familiar with it already. But what Moulitsas argues is that he’s really no one special: any citizen can use the Internet to bypass the traditional gatekeepers who once decided which political candidates were legitimate, what wisdom was conventional and even which songs became hits.

Activists don’t need to hold press conferences and hope the media shows up – they can create their own media with a blog. Political candidates getting started don’t have to kowtow to the same rich donors – if they have a compelling grass-roots message, the netroots will embrace them. Even musicians don’t need to be “discovered” by recording executives to make it big – now they can use social networking sites like MySpace.

It’s not about destroying the gatekeepers, says Moulitsas. It’s about using the Internet (along with a compelling product) so you can simply by-pass them. “Technology has unlocked doors and facilitated a genuine democratization of our culture,” he writes. You don’t need anyone’s permission to start an online movement: it was ordinary people who stepped out of their comfort zone to recruit Jim Webb for the US Senate, create MoveOn, and launch an annual blogger convention that culminated with Netroots Nation.

What activists need to understand, said Moulitsas, is what technology medium is most effective in their time period at getting out a message that will influence conventional wisdom. Gandhi used newsreels to push the narrative that the British were exploiting the Indian people. Television helped dramatize the civil rights movement in the 1960’s that galvanized a country to its cause. But the era of mass visual rallies that grab attention on the evening news are over, he says. Another thousand people in the street just isn’t news today.

In fact, Moulitsas is very critical of anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan – because she too quickly fell into the obsolete model of ‘60s protest no longer conducive for the digital era. After activists spent years marching in the streets against the Iraq War without changing public opinion, Sheehan’s plea to meet President Bush in Crawford, Texas put on a human face that most Americans could relate to. But once Camp Casey became a circus for every left-wing group, it devolved into the same type of ineffectual protest we’ve all seen before.

Continue Reading…

Posted by Bill Templer - July 30, 2008 | News



11-year-old Ahmad Husam Yousef Mousa lies dead
(Photo by: Oren Ziv / Activestills.org – used with permission, not for commercial reuse)

RAMALLAH, West Bank — An 11-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed in the West Bank village of Nilin on Tuesday, July 29th.

In a tragic sequel to continuing resistance to the separation wall being built in the West Bank, 11-year-old Ahmad Mousa was fatally wounded by a member of the Israeli Border Patrol as he sat with friends. The shooting occurred during the violent dispersion of a demonstration against the wall. More than 18 Palestinians were wounded in the incident.{1}

According to Nilin’s anti-wall committee, Mousa and a group of his friends were sitting quietly under an olive tree when a Border Patrol jeep drove up and a Border Police member, operating under the command of the Israeli Defense Force, took aim at the seated boys from a distance of about 30 meters. He fired a single shot, striking Mousa in the head. Mousa died a short time later while en route to Ramallah Hospital.

This brutal act was apparently an attempt to frighten and intimidate the resistance. Mousa’s death is the most tragic incident in many months of sustained protest at Nilin village.

YNetNews.com is reporting that the IDF and the Police Internal Affairs Bureau are investigating the shooting. {2}

{1} http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3574981,00.html (Hebrew)
{2} http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3574986,00.html (English)

Thomas Good contributed to this article.

Posted by TAG - July 29, 2008 | News



Meaghan Linick-Loughley of SDS (foreground – with mask)
(Photo: Asahi)

TOKYO — A photograph of an SDS New York member recently appeared on page one of Asahi, one of Japan’s oldest and largest newspapers with a circulation of 8 million.

Meaghan Linick-Loughley of New School SDS visited Japan recently and took part in the G8 protests. An Asahi photog caught the activist doing her thing and the paper’s editor planted the image on page one. Well done, Meaghan.


Meaghan Linick-Loughley at a counter-recruitment action
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)


Steve Harrison at a meeting of the Young Democrats
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — City Councilman Mike McMahon and community activist Steve Harrison addressed a meeting of the Young Democrats of America on Sunday. Conservative McMahon and progressive Harrison are vying for the Democratic nomination and the right to challenge Republican Party control of New York’s 13th Congressional District. The two congressional hopefuls were each given fifteen minutes to present their respective positions.

McMahon spoke first telling the YDAers that, “we need change, we need change we can trust.” He noted that Staten Islanders are “stuck in traffic..paying too much for gas…paying too much for food.” Making an appeal to the “can-do spirit” of Americans, McMahon argued that “it’s about sending someone to Washington that you can trust, you guys all know me, you know my family.”

McMahon said that the primary election on September 9 is about, “sending someone to Washington that you can trust personally, and morally, but also to do the job, to work hard. You know the City Council. You may not agree with me on everything but you know I went to work everyday, I rolled up my sleeves, put my nose to the grindstone and got things done.”

McMahon listed as his accomplishments, “saving recycyling” in New York, preventing the reopening of the Fresh Kills landfill and working to keep nurses in public schools.

Addressing the issue of why voters should choose him over Harrison, McMahon argued that, “The important thing is that we send a Democrat into this race who can win this race.”

Comparing his positions with Harrison’s, McMahon said that, “when it comes to the issues we pretty much agree.”

But The New York Times’ Jonathan Hicks disagrees.

Political labels aside, there are stark differences between the two. Mr. Harrison opposes capital punishment, while Mr. McMahon supports it. The councilman favors nearly all means of addressing the nation’s energy problems, including offshore drilling, something Mr. Harrison opposes. Mr. McMahon supported Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s ultimately unsuccessful congestion pricing plan, while Mr. Harrison opposed it.

On the Iraq war, Mr. Harrison has demanded an immediate withdrawal of American troops, while Mr. McMahon said he supported “a responsible redeployment of our troops in Iraq.”

Hicks, Jonathan P. (2008, July 28). Despite Fossella’s Exit, Unity Eludes Democrats. The New York Times, retrieved July 28, 2008.

Making the argument that, “this [race] is the front line – in our own backyard”, McMahon emphasized the importance of winning while downplaying his positions on the issues. Positions that haven’t played well with progressives.

“This race is about putting a Democrat in office,” McMahon said.

Harrison disagrees. “I think I represent your values,” he told the Young Democrats. Harrison argued that it’s not enough just to get a Democrat in office. It is important to get a progressive elected.

“This week if you watched ‘President Obama’…there is no question that he is restoring our standing in the world even before he becomes president. What he needs is progressive democrats to support him in the Congress and that’s why I’m running,” Harrison said.

Harrison argued that it is questionable that a conservative or centrist could even win in the 13th CD, pointing out that those Democrats who have done the best in the past have been progressives. He noted that in 2002, the last time a centrist ran, the Democrats got only 28 percent of the vote. When Frank Barbaro ran in 2004 he got 41 percent and Harrison himself got 43 percent in 2006, despite being outspent $1.7 million to $130,000 by Republican incumbent Vito Fossella.

Harrison hammered out his positions in detail, starting with, “I am a progressive Democrat”.

He reminded the audience that, “I have been against this war from the beginning.” Harrison, a co-author of the responsible plan to end the war, said he is for withdrawal while he argued that McMahon favors leaving “residual troops” in Iraq.

Harrison proclaimed that, “I believe in diplomacy with Iran” and “I oppose the death penalty”. He also voiced his opposition to nuclear power and offshore drilling for oil, arguing for solar, wind and geothermal energy. His assertion that the move to green energy has “to be done in a very short period of time” was met with applause from the Young Democrats.

In a question and answer period Harrison told the crowd that, “I oppose NAFTA, CAFTA…any AFTAs at all” and that the U.S. should help Mexico develop its economy rather than outsourcing American jobs there.

Harrison also affirmed his position on gay rights, stating that, “I am in favor of same sex marriage.” In addition to support from peace groups Harrison has also picked up endorsements from gay rights groups such as Stonewall Democrats and Lambda.

In response to the last question of the evening, Harrison said that he would look into Dennis Kucinich’s “Department of Peace” proposal, adding that “it sounds good!”

View Photos/Videos From The Event…

Posted by Next Left Notes - July 28, 2008 | News


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Activists who dropped banners at the Staten Island Mall Saturday later issued the following statement.

On Saturday, July 26, 2008, members of Movement for a Democratic Society / Staten Island (MDS), Peace Action of Staten Island (PASI) and World Can’t Wait (WCW) dropped 2 large banners at the Staten Island Mall, in the heartland of one of New York City’s least politically active boroughs.

As Staten Islanders, we are angry that our representatives have too often not only pandered to large corporate interests and the Bush Agenda, but have also promoted an illegal and immoral war from its inception. In a nation where over 80% of the citizenry oppose the war and think the nation is heading in the wrong direction, we are tired of having our opinions summarily ignored and neglected by those who are supposed to represent us.

The banners, hung on opposite ends the 2nd floor balcony in center court read, “STOP THE WAR!” and “NO ATTACK ON IRAN!”. Although shoppers seemed oblivious to the banners at first, Air Force recruiters manning a military recruitment table on the lower level in Center Court did take immediate notice and hurried to alert mall security, presumably to apprehend and detain the activists. Shoppers, eventually took note and seemed intrigued, several stopping to snap pictures with their camera phones.

Why the Staten Island Mall? Our intention was to bring a dose of much needed reality to this sterile environment of wanton consumerism. Our desire, to remind recruiters and consumers that while they aggresively recruit in the center of our shopping malls, and nonchalantly use their American Express and Visa cards on a summer saturday afternoon, thousands are still dying in a war that should have never begun. We as residents of Staten Island, will continue to raise our voice in opposition to this war and any future war with Iran. We will not rest until the bloodshed ends and our representatives are responsive to the opinions and desires of their constituents.


View Photos/Videos From The Action…

Posted by Bill Templer - July 25, 2008 | News


Click On The Image To See A Video Documenting The Resistance

The recent ‘freeze actions’ at train stations in Manhattan ‘No Attack on Iran’ are an important tactic in creating a ‘space of non—violent resistance’ at the lowest geographical scale of mass public presence on foot, namely inside a train station.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, Palestinians under the Occupation are creating a singular space of non-violent resistance to the building of the Great Wall of Palestine and the stealing of their land and their very livelihood at the village of Ni’lin. That stolen land is being appropriated to the nearby settler enclave of Hashmona’im. The Caterpillar tractors are in action every day. The repression there has been brutal, bought and paid for in effect by Washington, and American taxpayers like you. Protestors on the streets on New York and the bullet-ridden hills around Nil’in share a common goal of halting injustice, and putting their body where their minds and hearts are.

I’d like to call for greater solidarity with that struggle in Ni’lin. Today it is an icon of joint Palestinian-Jewish-international non-violent resistance, under a hail of rubber bullets and the choke of tear gas, a daily toll in injuries and blood.

On 23 July, the first all-women’s demo against the apartheid wall was organized. One participant, Rona, reported on Israeli indymedia:

“Soldiers welcomed the group with sound bombs and gas, they kept the women from reaching the work site using violence, but demonstrators repeatedly forced the soldiers to retreat quite a bit over the hour long protest. There was one arrest, two injuries, and lots of gas; this is the first of a series of women’s actions in the village. Nilin’s women were supported in large numbers by activists from Ramallah, Tulkarem, Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, Sweden, Switzerland, France, and the USA among other places. The group, that also included a number of children, marched from the village’s center toward the work site when soldiers stopped them about 100 meters from the machinery using sound bombs and tear gas. The group dispersed a bit on the hill, but the wind followed them, so that about half of the women were able to stick by the soldiers while others retreated to safety and treatment.”
[ https://israel.indymedia.org/newswire/display/9361/index.php ]

Neve Gordon has described what is happening in Ni’lin, “popular acts of civil disobedience that persist despite the ruthless repression of an occupying power.” He underscores that this is what’s called in Arabic ‘ta’ayush,’ radical solidarity, “scores of Jewish Israeli and international activists are standing beside the Palestinian residents as they try to stop military bulldozers from destroying Ni’lin’s land.”
[ http://www.counterpunch.org/gordon07192008.html ]

Jamal Juma’ of the key initiative Palestinian Grassroots Anti Apartheid Wall Campaign [http://www.stopthewall.org ] writes: “Nil’in will soon be ghettoized and isolated from the rest of the West Bank, with its main entrance being a tunnel running under the segregated settler-only road. Not only will this involve the confiscation of a further 200 dunams, but it will also effectively give the Occupation military full control over movement in and out of the area.” That’s the dark prospect in the Israeli soldiers’ state.

ANARCHISTS AGAINST THE WALL
One group lending a regular hand in building this node of resistance is Anarchists Against the Wall. In its fierce commitment to direct action, AATW [ http://www.awalls.org ], is a mini-paradigm of joint Palestinian-Israeli action. Some sense of the terrible repression of peaceful demonstrators at Ni’lin is visible in videos here [ http://www.awalls.org/topics/niilin ]. And here a recent petition against human rights abuses in Ni’lin, vicious repression: http://www.petitiononline.com/nilin/petition.html . Add your signatures.

AATW recently issued a call for support of the legal defense of hundreds of arrested activists, especially in the resistance at Ni’lin. Donate a few bucks if you can: http://www.awalls.org/donations . You could interview some AATW people by phone, broadcast it around NYC, get their voices into print. Invite some of them to speak, build a bond of solidarity.

PARADIGMS FOR CATALYZING TRANSFORMATION FROM THE BOTTOM UP
The resistance at Bil’in village, also central for AATW action (much info on A-infos and http://www.anarkismo.net ) and at Ni’lin are protest paradigms. Even for protest on the streets of your own cities. As Noam Chomsky recently stressed, envisioning a future for Palestine and Israel: “a non-violent struggle would have had considerable prospects for success. I think it still is the only prospect for success”
[ http://www.zcommunications.org/zmag/viewArticle/18051 ].

OVERCOMING NOT ONLY ZIONISM BUT THE STATE
I believe the unending impasse in Palestine/Israel points up an ever more apparent fact: the nation-state is unworkable in its conventional capitalist sense. I agree with Serbian anarchist Andrej Grubacic that

“what is needed, not just in the Balkans, is an alternative to nationalism, colonialism and capitalism. […] It should be a politics of a Balkan federation. A participatory society, built from the bottom up, through struggles for the creation of an inclusive democratic awareness, participatory social experiments, and an emancipatory practice that would win the political imagination of all people in the region”
[ http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/1859 ].

The struggle at Ni’lin and elsewhere, like ‘freeze actions’ at Grand Central and Penn stations, are small steps toward a greater goal: a libertarian-socialist multicultural Commonwealth. That could begin to energize new forms of decentralized direct democracy, people’s participation and horizontalism, neighborhood autonomy as it moves beyond received notions of a capitalist ‘state’ run by a corporate ruling class. In Palestine/Israel, We need a mass movement striving to create a mosaic society of ta’ayush, Arab-Jewish synergy, founded on autonomy, authentic direct democracy, mutual aid anchored in radical social empathy. Beginnings can be forged, at the most grassroots, place-based local scales. In people’s own neighborhoods, workplaces. Your neighborhoods. Palestine’s under the boot of military occupation and repression, Tel Aviv’s in the heart of Leviathan.

GETTING FREE
I think both in Israel and New York, New Jersey, one exciting window for change can look to the kind of neighborhood Household and Home Assemblies that James Herod envisions in GETTING FREE: CREATING AN ASSOCIATION OF DEMOCRATIC AUTONOMOUS NEIGHBORHOODS (AK Press, 2007, and online http://www.jamesherod.info/ ). That could begin to generate a whole geometry of people’s initiatives from the bottom up, a network of dual power, the incubators of a new society of ta’ayush and power to the people – not just slogans, but concrete scaffolding for transformation. But that’s a topic for another time. I comment a bit on it here:
http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/templer230708.html .

THINK NI’LIN
as you resist in New York and Jersey. The attack on Ni’lin, the U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the coming attack on Iran are part of the same offensive. It’s a war on the workers everywhere. Build some links. It’s all one struggle, ma’avak ehad.

Posted by Richard Marini and Thomas Good - July 22, 2008 | News



MDSer Richie Marini freezes in Penn Station
(Photo: Mike Morice / NLN)

NEW YORK — As part of a series of ongoing actions, anti-war activists from around the city froze in place in Penn Station, on Monday, July 21st. Their message: “No Attack on Iran”.

Protesters froze in their tracks for five minutes, in crowded Penn Station during rush hour, to bring attention to the developing situation between the United States, Israel and Iran. After several minutes of freezing in place the anti-war activists then chanted “No Attack on Iran”. The NYPD tried to disperse the protesters, however, some of activists continued with the chant – one activist received a summons from an NYPD officer.

Rush hour commuters showed interest in the event by taking pictures, shooting video and even engaging in dialog with some of the protesters who leafleted after the freeze. Such actions by anti-war protesters seem to have a positive effect on raising public awareness of the issue. One commuter stopped and asked “who is going to attack Iran?” However, some commuters were not pleased as they shoved their way through the frozen crowd.

NLN photographer Mike Morice was there to capture the Moment.



A CodePINK activist freezes holding a sign of the times
(Photo: Mike Morice / NLN)


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Posted by TAG - July 17, 2008 | News



“Maybe I offend some who define themselves as 100 percent purely liberal but this is the first time in 28 years that we can win.”
– Mike McMahon
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — City Councilman and Congressional candidate (NY-13) Mike McMahon spoke to the Staten Island Democratic Association on Tuesday. SIDA is the most progressive Democratic club on Staten Island and McMahon is a conservative or centrist depending on who you ask. The councilman faced some tough questions in a meeting that grew heated at times.

Last May McMahon was contacted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and urged to run for Congress. The Democrats are eager to grab the seat now held by disgraced congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY) who will not seek re-election. McMahon agreed to the DCCC request. He was later endorsed at the local level by the Richmond County Democratic Committee. Completing the circle, the DCCC formally endorsed McMahon on June 13th.

Although New York City is a Democratic stronghold, the Republicans have held the 13th Congressional District for years and the Democrats see an opportunity to win back the seat. McMahon, as an elected official and native Staten Islander, is seen as a safe candidate by the Democratic Party hierarchy. McMahon was supported by Staten Island conservatives in the last two elections and has voted with Republicans in the City Council – presumably making him more palatable to Staten Island’s conservative South Shore.

The selection of McMahon as the Richmond County Democratic Party’s officially endorsed candidate – in what some observers called a rigged convention – split the Democratic Party on Staten Island.

Steve Harrison, who ran against Fossella in 2006, had been campaigning for months prior to the convention and had been endorsed by Island progressives including the Staten Island Democratic Association and Peace Action Staten Island. Calling the June convention a “betrayal of democracy”, Harrison vowed to continue his campaign.

There will be a primary on September 9th to decide which Democrat will face the Republican nominee in the general election. In the interim both candidates are campaigning in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

This past Tuesday, McMahon addressed a meeting of the Staten Island Democratic Association in an attempt to reach out to progressives. SIDA is the most liberal of all of the Democratic clubs on Staten Island. McMahon was on the defensive for much of the evening, despite the fact that he brought a large entourage to the meeting.



“If you don’t like me, don’t vote for me.”
– Mike McMahon
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The first issue McMahon addressed Tuesday was the charge that he is an opportunist — choosing to run only after Fossella bowed out. McMahon explained that he didn’t run in 2006, not because he feared challenging Fossella – but because he had to drive his daughter to soccer practice and because he “had work to do in the City Council.” Apparently contradicting this claim, he added that “an opportunity no one could have predicted” prompted him to run in 2008. He went on to say that the Democratic Party bosses in the DCCC told him that if he ran they would “buy into this race.” This begs the question: would they have regarded this seat as not important if McMahon had continued his commitment to his daughter’s soccer practice and the City Council?

McMahon told SIDA that he is running a “grassroots” campaign – despite the fact the Democratic machine is backing him. He cited 900 individual donors to his campaign as evidence of its grassroots nature, however, many of the donors gave the maximum amount allowed under the law and some who contributed the max amount listed their profession as “housewife” or “student”. {1} The large donations given to McMahon contrasts sharply with Harrison’s donations which typically are double digit figures. In addition, McMahon has received more money from PACs than Harrison has total (Harrison’s PAC donations barely exceed $2,000). {2}


McMahon said that although people may not support his positions on the issues they can’t deny that “in the City Council I worked hard everyday.” He added that Democrats should support him because “for the first time in 28 years, we can win.” McMahon repeatedly expressed his frustration that “another Democrat” (Harrison) is “attacking” him – for his votes in the City Council and his public positions. Although McMahon told the audience that if they wanted to know what kind of representative he would make they should examine his City Hall voting record, he objected strenuously to being criticized for this record by other Democrats – even those who are running a primary against him.

“It should be Bob Straniere attacking me and not another Democrat,” said McMahon.

Continue Reading…

Posted by TAG - July 14, 2008 | News



Two young marchers on the steps of Borough Hall
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Hundreds of community members marched yesterday from Mahoney Park in Staten Island’s New Brighton neighborhood to Borough Hall, the seat of local government. Their cause: putting a stop to the violence that claims the lives of young people. The event, called a “Walk of Remembrance in Honor of Youth Lost to Senseless Violence”, was organized by local community activists and clergy.

A number of participants wore t-shirts with the photos of the fallen — including 17-year-old Najea Smith, a nursing student who was fatally shot in May.

A brief program at Mahoney Park featured a welcome from Sernea Mohamed, a reading of Maya Angelou’s poem “StillI I Rise” by David Raso and a prayer led by Reverend Tony Baker of St. Philips Baptist Church.

The march route took the long column down busy Richmond Terrace, along the Kill van Kull, to Staten Island’s Borough Hall opposite the Ferry Terminal. Community Affairs police and corporate news media looked on as the steps of Borough Hall filled with marchers.



Progressive Democrat Steve Harrison at the march
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The marchers were joined by progressive politicians Debi Rose and Steve Harrison. Rose is running for City Council and Harrison is running for Congress (NY-13). Harrison, who lives in Brooklyn, faces a September 9th primary against pro-war Democrat Mike McMahon. McMahon, who lives on Staten Island’s North Shore, was not at the event.

Concluding the event, family members who have lost loved ones and community activists spoke at Borough Hall.

View Photos/Videos From The Action…

Posted by TAG - July 11, 2008 | News



A protester in Grand Central Station
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — Wearing signs that said, “No Attack On Iran”, 200 plus protesters poured into Grand Central Station yesterday. At the heart of rush hour on a steamy July day the station “froze” for several minutes as protesters stopped in their tracks. The activists were part of a “freeze” action and remained motionless until a signal was given. At the conclusion of the freeze, Manhattan’s busy Grand Central erupted in the shouts of protesters demanding peace. Commuters took it all in stride, many using cell phones to tell their friends what was happening. One man passed an NLN video crew and said, “well done!” Police looked on, only getting involved when a pro-war counter-demonstrator wearing an Iranian flag with swastikas painted on it tried to provoke the peace activists. He was led away and the protest concluded without incident.

 


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