Posted by TAG - March 31, 2011 | Analysis

Protesters in Times Square on March 19
(Photo: Mike Morice / NLN)

NEW YORK — March 19, 2011. Apparently the journey from peace candidate to war president isn’t that long a trip — roughly equivalent to the distance Wall Street traveled in moving from bailout to bonuses.

(Photo: Mike Morice / NLN)

From Dubya To Libya…by way of Nixon?

During the 2008 presidential campaign Obama was photographed — at a carefully staged photo op — playing basketball with some high school students in Indiana. Candidate Obama was wearing a “USMC” t-shirt. Was Obama ever a member of the Corps? No. Was he ever really a peace candidate? Maybe. However, the campaign rhetoric about ending the Iraq War seems to have been diluted over time. On August 31, 2010, Obama announced that U.S. combat operations in Iraq had ceased. In the same speech he announced that he was sending additional troops to Afghanistan – the good war? – and leaving 50,000 troops in Iraq for “training” purposes. And on March 19, 2011, the eighth anniversary of the Iraq War, Obama attacked Libya. Without consulting Congress, without a declaration of war. Peace candidate? Is this not the man who received a Nobel Peace Prize?

(Photo: Carol Caver / NLN)

In July of 1972 Time Magazine reported that Senate Republican leader Hugh Scott and Finance Magazine (a monthly publication for bankers) editor Elizabeth MacDonald Manning were “joining forces to nominate Richard Nixon for the [ Nobel Peace ] prize.” Manning had argued that Nixon had turned “an idealistic vision of peace into a more realistic version of working together instead of fighting wars.” Nixon did not join the ranks of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson — or Barack Obama — he never received the Nobel Prize. But in many other respects he was not unlike that other “peace candidate,” the lanky fellow who likes to be photographed in Marine Corps tees.

Rep. Charles Rangel at the March 19 protest
(Photo: Carol Caver / NLN)

The Obama Department of Justice has not ushered in a new era of respect for the rule of law and human rights — Gitmo remains open, the FBI continues to profile and entrap, and political prisoners (Green Scare and Muslim alike) are tortured in “Communication Management Units” — a euphemism for sensory deprivation and isolation. Tricky Dick would have little issue with this approach. From his days at HUAC through the Watergate fiasco, Nixon was no champion of civil rights. Nor was he opposed to using military intervention in the quest for peace.

Given that Nixon carpet bombed North Vietnam, secretly bombed Cambodia until the illegal operation was discovered, and doubtless knew of the CIA’s Phoenix Program (assassination of suspected “Viet Cong” by U.S. special forces) can anyone be surprised that Obama would escalate the Afghanistan War, appoint General Stanley McChrystal to run what many called the “Phoenix Program for Afghanistan” (assassination of suspected Taliban leaders) and unilaterally bomb Libya — for peace?

I have heard it said that President George W. Bush made Nixon look like a liberal. Where does this leave Obama — the peace candidate who spoke out against Bush’s policies only to continue them?


(Photo: Carol Caver / NLN)

On March 19, as protesters gathered in Time Square to demand an end to U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, the NBC news ticker announced that U.S. missiles had hit targets in Libya. Dozens of Tomahawk missiles, costing over a million dollars each, had been fired in an undeclared war.

(Photo: Carol Caver / NLN)

NY1 covered the protest and one image from their coverage struck this observer as both indelible and archetypal. A protester turned to the NY1 videographer and said, “Yeah that’s a great idea. We’ve got a third war we’ll get ourselves into.”

And so it came to pass, that on the eighth anniversary of Mr. Bush’s war on Iraq, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Barack Obama attacked Libya while continuing two wars he had pledged to end. Perhaps Nixon really should have gotten that peace prize.

The “Raging Grannies” in Times Square on March 19
(Photo: Carol Caver / NLN)

Happy Anniversary

It’s always tough to assess the motivations of another person, especially a politician. But the fact that Obama chose March 19 to launch his strikes on Libya invites armchair psychoanalysts to raise questions. In his groundbreaking work, “The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler,” Robert G.L. Waite noted that Hitler attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. The date was significant in that 129 years earlier Napoleon had announced his forthcoming attack on Russia on this exact date, reviewing his troops in Poland on the eve of the attack (the Grand Armee mobilized on the 23rd and launched the campaign on the 24th). Obama is not Hitler and Bush was no Napoleon but the choice of March 19 for the Libyan attack was interesting. It could be argued that Obama needed to act within a small window of opportunity but even if this notion is accepted why did he choose this specific anniversary, this exact date? The idea that he didn’t know seems absurd. It’s possible but highly unlikely…

Boys Will Be Boys

Obama’s domestic policies have been less than successful. His signature issue, health care reform, produced a bill that almost no one is excited about — except perhaps the insurance companies. In addition, Obama has been accused of a seemingly endless litany of hallucinatory crimes by oxycodone addicts and hyperbolic paranoids on the far Right (he’s not a U.S. citizen, he’s a socialist, etc.) It must be tempting to turn away from domestic policy issues and the attendant discord and focus on military matters. All of that saluting from Marines, all of the gung-ho rhetoric (“you’re going on the offense, tired of playing defense!“) and appearances before audiences ordered to cheer wildly, must have an appeal. The USMC t-shirt photo op reverberates in this reporter’s sensorium. Clearly Obama is comfortable with at least the trappings of the military. Unfortunately for Barack, Iraq continues to be plagued by sectarian violence and Afghanistan is a long way from anything resembling stability. It’s tough to be a war president when you’re losing two wars.

(Photo: Carol Caver / NLN)

Perhaps a “limited role” in Libya will get Obama the recognition he seeks – from both Right and Left. Indeed, the PBS Newshour had two senators on the show a few days after the attacks – Democrat Jack Reed and Republican Johnny Isakson appeared on the March 29 episode. Moderator Judy Woodruff continued the Newshour’s tradition of throwing softball pitches and presenting “opposing” points of view that question only how to implement a policy not whether the policy itself is desirable, reasonable or even legal.

Rhode Island’s Reed described Obama’s attack as an “adroitly” executed “initiative” while Georgia’s Isakson said, “I think we have done the right thing but in the wrong way.” Isakson explained that Obama must not yield American “leadership” to NATO – he must not take ground assault off the table. As is typical of the “liberal” media, there was no dissenting voice. No one, not even Woodruff, questioned the sanity of fighting three wars. Perhaps the compliant media and the muted criticism from Republicans is a balm for a weary president – the first positive response to his “bipartisan” appeal. Obama would not be the first U.S. chief executive to seek the solace of being a war president after a succession of domestic policy failures. But he needs to “man up” to pull it off. As social theorist Wilhelm Reich noted, to appeal to an audience fed a diet of militaristic ideology and macho sexual repression, “Only insofar as this leader actually personifies the nation in conformity with the national sentiments of the masses [ i.e. authoritarianism ] does a personal tie to him develop.” (Mass Psychology of Fascism p. 62) And what better way to appeal to emotions than the heroic display of shock and awe? What Reich called the “libidinous mechanism” of martial fanfare. This was not lost on all of the observers — psychohistorian Lloyd DeMause recently referred to the Libyan attack as an example of the “We Are Powerful Group Fantasy.”

No matter who prevails in Libya, Qaddafi or the opposition, one sector of the U.S. will be pleased. Most of the munitions being expended in Libya by government forces are stamped “Made In The USA.” And increasingly the Obama administration is talking up giving weapons to the “rebels.” In a war where American arms traffickers have equipped both sides how can the “defense industry” lose? After all, the weapons will be paid for with tax dollars.

View Photos/Videos From The March 19 Protest

Posted by TAG - March 7, 2011 | News

“One-Dimensional Man” — a new video from TAG Photo / Video

This video, posted on NLN’s sister station — “Love & Struggle” — is an interpretation of Herbert Marcuse’s classic work. The text is drawn from the book. The original photographs and video clips, as well as the narration, are by NLN’s Thomas Altfather Good. This piece is a companion to the L&S
video interpretation of R.D. Laing’s “Politics Of Experience” — like Politics, the goal of 1D Man is to produce something simultaneously disturbing and hopeful. One viewer said of the Laing video: “This really shook me up … Good!” It is hoped that the Marcuse piece will produce a similar reaction.

Marcuse ultimately believed that art-as-agitation — and the marginalized peoples of the world — are the best hope for the salvation of the human species. His Freudian-Marxist “critical theory” remains an inspiration to a number of modern thinkers and stands as one of the Frankfurt Schools’ greatest contributions to philosophy. See you in the Aesthetic Dimension…

Attorney Lamis Deek
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — On the evening of February 23rd there was a meeting at The Commons on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn that few attending will ever forget. Organized by Al-Awda, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild and several other groups, the speakers were Professor Ahmet Dogan of Erciyes University in Kayseri, Turkey — father of Furkan Dogan, the 19-year-old Turkish-American who was one of the 9 humanitarian aid workers murdered on the Mavi Marmara when Israeli commandos attacked the flotilla on its way to Gaza last May — Lamis Deek, Palestinian lawyer and activist; Dima Abi Saab, co-chair of Al-Awda; Katherine Gallagher, Sr. Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, and; Felice Gelman from the U.S. Boat to Gaza Campaign.

Deek spoke first saying that the tragedy on the Mavi Marmara was part of a long history of violence against Palestinians and their supporters perpetrated by the “rogue Israeli regime.” According to Deek, the rights of Palestinians have been abused from the very beginning. After the Goldstone Report, issued as a result of the violence that took place during Operation Cast Lead against the people of Gaza, Israel tried to get international law changed so that they would not be held liable. Israel is able to do whatever it wants and face no consequences because the U.S. protects it from any punishment. Now efforts are being made in this country to stop people from supporting justice for Palestine by using the “material support” statute against them. According to a recent Supreme Court ruling material support is now being interpreted to include words in support of people or organizations. Essentially it nullifies the First Amendment. Deek pointed out that we all face danger because we have lost the right to freedom of speech.

Abi Saab
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Abi Saab, speaking next, said that Furkan was killed because he loved justice and there are no meaningful words of comfort that we can offer his family. She pledged that we will continue to work for justice in Palestine and to “expose the racist Zionists.”

Ahmet Dogan
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Then Professor Dogan began to speak. He spoke quietly and the packed room fell silent. Nobody moved, all were intent on hearing every word. He said he wanted to give some information about his son who was born in Troy, N.Y. while he was studying there. The family returned to Turkey when Furkan was 3 years old. While a high school student he became very interested in humanitarian issues in Gaza. Furkan had a huge heart – he worried about the pains of others. While in his final term in high school he heard about the flotilla to Gaza campaign. He wanted to go very badly but his parents reminded him that he had another priority, graduating. But Furkan took his exams early and got into the best medical school in Turkey – he wanted to be an eye surgeon and then go to Africa to work with the people there. He had wanted to go see Troy because he was born there and then visit friends in Chicago but all that changed when he learned about the flotilla. He asked his parents for permission to go. They knew how bad the situation in Gaza was but didn’t want to crush Furkan’s strong humanitarian instincts. They finally agreed that they couldn’t reject his request. They also thought that he would be safe because he would be using his American passport.

Furkan pushed the IHH organizers to accept him – he was relentless. Finally he was the last person chosen and he was very happy and excited. Furkan bought toys to bring to the children in Gaza with his own money. There was a goodbye ceremony in their city. The last contact that Professor Dogan had with his son was a request from Furkan to rush documents that were needed by the Turkish authorities which he forgot to bring. The father called to tell him that he had done as he was asked and that he, Furkan, was accepted to attend medical school. Furkan was overjoyed.

On May 31, at 4 a.m., Dogan’s wife heard news of the Israeli attack and began to scream. They were very frightened having never expected a military attack. The father’s voice broke, he paused a moment, wiped away a tear, and then continued the story.

The next morning the parents tried to get information about what had happened but nobody knew anything, including the American Embassy. They hoped he was OK, thinking that he was probably sleeping on one of the lower decks.

On June 3, the Turkish government sent a plane to pick up all the people in the flotilla who were being held in an Israeli prison. The parents went to Istanbul with clean clothes to greet their son. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs had a list of all the passengers – Furkan was not on the list. His parents assumed that it was a mistake and waited by the gate for their child to disembark. He didn’t. Since he was a U.S. citizen they thought he might be elsewhere. Again they called the American Embassy and got no information.

The next morning they learned that there were two unidentified bodies at the morgue. They went there as a formality not expecting Furkan to be there. “He was and I identified him.” The father continued his narrative, “I saw his face. He was shot three times, between his eyes and near his nose. We took him home for burial. 100,000 people came to his funeral.”

The autopsy report said that he was shot three times in the back and then turned over and shot in the face. “They deliberately murdered my son.” Furkan had come on deck with his camera to photograph the attack. What they did was “unacceptable.” No human could do that in international waters in the middle of the night. “My son was executed with a U.S. weapon.”

He explained that he was here to search for a legal remedy. “I want to know what is the U.S. planning to do about this?” There is an ongoing investigation in Turkey and at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, but nothing in the U.S. Katherine Gallagher, acting as Ahmet Dogan’s attorney, said that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called the murder of Furkan an “extra-legal, arbitrary, and summary execution” and reiterated that the Gaza blockade was illegal. Further, the report stated that in Gaza 80 percent of the people need assistance, 45 percent are unemployed, and 90 percent of the factories are closed. The destruction that Israel caused is massive. The boats in the flotilla could have been stopped without the attack. The U.S. is the only country in the world that voted against the report.

Felice Gelman
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

It was determined that Felice Gelman should give her report from the U.S. Boat to Gaza Campaign before the Question and Answer session. She said that 5,000 people had contributed but they still have to raise a little more money. There will definitely be a U.S. boat named Audacity of Hope in the next flotilla which will be sailing in May and will have boats representing 22 countries from all over the globe. During Israeli Apartheid Week there will be 20 activities connected to the flotilla. She concluded her report by assuring the professor that we will all always honor his son and what he tried to accomplish.

Many people had questions but some just wanted to say something about Furkan. One audience member thanked Professor and Mrs. Dogan for raising such an extraordinary son who will remain part of us forever. Two others said that when they were on the Viva Palestina 5 humanitarian aid to Gaza convoy they went to Furkan’s high school for a ceremony in his honor. They added that there was not a dry eye to be seen. Another, representing a peace group in Jersey City, presented him with a framed Certificate of Honor and a portrait of Furkan that they made for him. As these people spoke there was a visible diminishment of the stress on the father’s face. He seemed to realize that he was among people who were very deeply moved by his son and just as deeply outraged by what had been done to him. The proud father said, let me tell you something else about my son, and he recounted stories of his beautiful child’s kindness and generosity, his genuine caring for people in need giving whatever he had to them. He would never give his old clothes away, only his new ones.

One questioner asked what the legal process was in the U.S. about this case. Gallagher said that one possibility was asking the U.S. to investigate “war crimes.” The Department of Justice could begin a criminal investigation because one of the ships, Challenger 1, was American. Civil action, however, would be difficult. As of this moment there is no ongoing litigation in the U.S.. This country has made it clear that their relationship with Israel is more important than protection of its citizens. Turkey has pushed the U.N. to take action. Turkey has also created a Panel of Inquiry which wrote a report. They are requesting an apology and compensation from Israel as well as the return of confiscated property. Witness statements and autopsy reports have been collected. All military cooperation between Turkey and Israel has been cancelled.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

As the meeting concluded the organizers gave some “movement” t-shirts to the professor. He smiled and said that his other two children would be happy to wear them. Furkan was his youngest.

No one at the Commons that cold February night will forget the gentle but anguished voice of the father recounting the painful story of what had happened to his cherished child. Tragically we can multiply this story thousands of times over when we think of what is being done to the children of Palestine every day while the rest of the world stands silently by.

View Photos From The Event…

City Council Member Debi Rose
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.– February 25, 2011. In celebration of Black History Month, City Council Member Debi Rose hosted a “Special Salute to Trailblazers in Staten Island’s Black Community” on Friday, February 25. Snug Harbor Cultural Center’s Music Hall is allegedly haunted but no ghosts were in attendance — the house was packed and there simpy wasn’t any room for interlopers.

Jeannine Otis MC’d the event
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Although Lynda Lee Macken’s slim volume, Haunted History of Staten Island, asserts that there is indeed a “Music Hall” ghost — he prefers balcony seats — the only legendary figures attending Friday’s observance were honorees receiving City Council proclamations from Council Member Rose.

Drummers and dancers from the Century Dance Complex performed
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Proclamations were presented to a number of African-American trailblazers from Staten Island:

    Virginia Allen
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

  • Virginia Allen of Sea View was the first African-American Female Union Representative on Staten Island.
  • Derek Alvez of New Brighton is the Staten Island Advance’s first black photographer, sportswriter and lifestyle columnist, authoring the “Man to Man” column from April 1995-May 2003.
  • Aurelia Curtis of Ward Hill is the first African-American to be named as principal of a high school on Staten Island and the first female principal of Curtis High School. She was appointed in 2003.
  • Ronald A. Gregg of Mariners Harbor is the first African-American New York Administrative Law Judge from Staten Island. In addition, he was inducted as a member of the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • Bill Hughes of West Brighton, a trombonist, is the first African-American from Staten Island to direct the famed Count Basie Band.
  • Jane Anne Morgan Lyons of Sunnyside is the first African-American CEO of Sea View Hospital Rehabilitation Center and Home and the 1st African-American woman appointed to a Staten Island Borough President’s Cabinet.
  • Robert Pipkins, formerly of Arlington, is Staten Island’s first Winter Olympian and the first African-American luger.
  • Joan B. Rannie of West Brighton became the first African American school principal on Staten Island in 1971.
  • Sandy Ground is the first community established by free African-Americans on Staten Island. (Award accepted by Sandy Ground Historical Society director Sylvia D’Alessandro)

  • James E. Taylor
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

  • James E. Taylor of West Brighton was the first African-American Male Union Representative on Staten Island.
  • Captain Avis Washington of the 122nd Precinct is first African-American woman to be promoted police captain on Staten Island. (The award was accepted by Margie Garvin)

  • The awards were presented by Rose, herself a trailblazer. Ms. Rose is the first African-American elected official on Staten Island. A staunch fighter for her district (49 — Staten Island’s diverse North Shore), Rose is popular with her constituents.

    NY OIL performed spoken word
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

    The program featured entertainment by singer Jeannine Otis and the St. Marks Ensemble, drumming and dancing by The Century Dance Complex, dancing by Deon Mitchell and Olivia Salabarria of Curtis High School’s Black Awareness Club; classical music by Norman Clark, and; spoken word by poets NYOIL and Nene Ali.

    Gina Figueroa of the St. Marks Ensemble soloed
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

    The event also featured exhibits from the Staten Island Museum, the Sandy Ground Historical Society and the collection of historian Leon Wallace.

    (Video: Thomas Good / NLN)

    View Photos/Videos From The Event…

James W. Russell

In the summer of 1965, Jeff Shero, the newly elected Vice President of SDS, joined the national office staff in Chicago. He had a special project in mind: to build up the sporadically published SDS Bulletin into a regular monthly source of news for members. That summer, membership was climbing rapidly, in large part because of the SDS-organized April 17 March on Washington, the first national march against the War in Vietnam.

He put together several editions in the fall but then ran into problems because of the very labor intensive production process that overwhelmed the capacity of the office staff. In offset printing, the first step was to write the copy with an electric typewriter, manually correcting all typos and other errors. The copy and photos were pasted up and then sent out to be burned onto offset plates. The plates were put on a printing press in the office that produced the pages individually, often breaking down along the way. Then the pages had to be manually collated and stapled.

The final step involved running the Bulletins through a bothersome machine called an Addressograph. It had its own multistep production process, the first step being typing addresses onto 2 X 3 mimeograph cardboard plates that looked like photo slides. In theory once all the plates were stacked in the Addressograph, the addresses would be rapidly printed; in practice, it was an exceptionally delicate machine that kept jamming and took a long time to get working again.

We grew to dread the production of each Bulletin. Nearly all other work had to stop and long extra hours had to be put in. Finally, Jeff realized that expanding the Bulletin into a good publication for members was a hopeless cause. Defeated by the antiquated technology, he returned to Texas. He would later use a much better technology to produce The Rat, the very successful underground newspaper in New York.

Several months went by without any direct communication between the overworked office staff and members. Membership was now growing even more rapidly in the aftermath of the October 15, 1965 March on Washington. The media thought that the national office was the epicenter of what was happening and showered coverage on it, which in turn led to the formation of new chapters and more members.

I had two jobs at the time in the office: chapter correspondent and bookkeeper. I had become a member in 1963 at the University of Oklahoma and joined the national office staff in June 1965. Each morning I collected the mail, separating that which had money and bills from that which was from members seeking information. I entered the money in a ledger, deposited it in the bank, and then answered the letters along with one or two others. On a typical day we would answer about thirty letters.

Members wanted to know what was going on. There needed to be a national publication. But how? The problem hovered over the office for months.

D. Gorton, the staff photographer, one morning brought in several union and small organization newsprint newspapers. Maybe we could change the technology. Instead of producing the Bulletin in the office via offset, we could paste up copy and send it out to be printed as a newspaper. But how much would it cost? How would we get the copy justified so that the columns would be straight?

I was given the task of finding out how much it would cost. It turned out to be less than what we were spending on the Bulletin and, more importantly, by sending it out to be printed, its production would not paralyze the office’s other work.

Jeff Segal, the National Secretary during the summer of 1965, had been student body president at Roosevelt University in Chicago and managing editor of its student newspaper, the Torch. He set up an under the table deal where the student newspaper staff would use their justifying machine to prepare the copy for paste up.

I now had a new job as editor of the paper. My experience? Not much beyond having been a sports writer for my high school newspaper and having edited an agitational SDS chapter newsletter.

What would we call it? Everyone agreed that we didn’t want to call it the Bulletin, but no one could agree on a new name. Clark Kissinger, a former National Secretary then in charge of fundraising, had a book of names of American socialist newspapers. But we couldn’t find anything there that appealed. In a pre-hippie moment, someone suggested The Red Balloon after a 1956 French avant-garde film that was popular at the time. The indecision went on for a long time until everyone gave up on arriving at a collective agreement. I was told to come up with a name on my own with the promise that no one would complain about what I chose.

I thought that SDS more than any other organization had a right to the mantle of New Left. But new left what? Review was already taken. I was reading Dostoevsky at the time, so it became New Left Notes, after Notes from the Underground. The unassuming title Notes resonated with a type of new left ideology at the time, especially espoused by SNCC’s Bob Moses, about the need for organizers to have humility. That was the reason why many people called it sds rather than SDS. We were small d democrats. And we fancied ourselves as being at least intellectually and a bit romantically aligned with the notion of underground organizations.

Thus started the weekly New Left Notes, with the first issue coming out on January 21, 1966. The word Surprise! was in a box at the top because it had been months since members had received anything from the national office. It contained SDS President Carl Oglesby’s “Liberalism and the Corporate State.” Unknown to me was that he had written it as a speech to be delivered during a coming campus tour. He was miffed because I had released it to members before he had had a chance to deliver it. Now he had to face audiences, some of whom had already read what he was about to say or write an entirely new speech.

My routine was to gather and type copy, give it to Jeff Segal, who had it justified at Roosevelt. Then I would deliver it via the El to the print shop over an hour away at the furthest northern stop. I would pick up the copies, again by El, a couple of days later. Then we would mail them out from the office.

One day the office received a leaflet in Spanish from California, titled La Gran Huelga de las Uvas. Paul Booth, the National Secretary, said that it was important and someone needed to translate it. I was given the job since I had taken one semester of Spanish, which was one semester more than anyone else in the office. The word huelga for some reason had not been on any of the vocabulary lists that I had learned in class nor was uvas. I found a Spanish-English dictionary somewhere and translated it literally as the great strike of the grapes. It didn’t make sense. How could grapes go on strike? Eventually I figured it out, more or less. That was my first introduction to César Chávez’s National Farm Workers Union and the grape boycott. The second issue of NLN ran a letter from Chávez calling for support to which a lot of SDS chapters responded.

After six issues, the authorities at Roosevelt caught wind of the surreptitious use of their equipment by a radical organization and put a stop to it. This was a crisis since I was committed to a weekly schedule. There was only one thing to do: type out all the copy in columns to be pasted up. Later we made an arrangement to use the equipment of The Woodlawn Organization, which Saul Alinsky had organized.

In all, I edited the first twelve copies of New Left Notes. It was time consuming, taking up 70 hours a week, with me having to write a lot of the stories and, at the least, type all of them. It didn’t help that during that time we lost our staff apartment after a robbery in which a gun was held to my head with the trigger pulled back and I was pistol whipped. The apartment, it turned out, was next door to a prostitution business. I then spent a couple of weeks sleeping in the office as I put out the paper.

At the time I considered New Left Notes to be a temporary solution to an office problem. I had no idea that it would continue as the organization’s newspaper with a number of different editors over the years, much less be reincarnated as Next Left Notes three and a half decades later.

There was also a counterfeit version of the paper opportunistically published by the Progressive Labor Party for a couple of years after the 1970 collapse of SDS. I was approached randomly by a PL member to buy a copy in 1972 at San Francisco State University. Instead of a sale, she got a flood of angry words about their destructive sectarianism and opportunism. She had approached the wrong person.

New Left Notes is now a valuable resource for historians of the 1960s new left. It was rough and fragmentary, being put together by activists rather than professional journalists, but always close to what was happening.

Thanks to Jeff Segal for comments. James W. Russell is the author of six books, including Double Standard: Social Policy in Europe and the United States and Class and Race Formation in North America. He is currently an activist in retirement reform working to expose the 401(k) swindle and defend Social Security and public employee pensions. He writes about critical retirement policy at

Labor: “Fire Walker — and Bloomberg”
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

[ NLN received a first hand report from a Wisconsin worker shortly after the “Cheesehead” Support Rally in New York City on Saturday.

As the drama in Wisconsin intensified, hundreds turned out for the “cheesehead” support rally outside New York’s City Hall. A wide variety of unions were represented — and photographed by Thomas Good. One Teamster was eager to show his support for other union members and enthusiastically voiced his support for the Wobblies — after he spotted Good’s IWW emblem. Several local politicians attended the New York rally. Gerald Nadler, Anthony Weiner, Bill de Blasio, Scott Stringer and Charley Wrangel all spoke in support of the public sector workers in Wisconsin — workers who are under attack from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Recently, Walker was in the news for another reason — a reporter from the Buffalo Beast pranked Walker, calling the Governor and identifying himself as David Koch. Walker said a number of interesting things to “Koch” — he seemed eager to reveal his strategy to eliminate collective bargaining in Wisconsin. “Koch” periodically said, “That’s beautiful…” while Walker waxed poetic about keeping a baseball bat in his office (for unruly protesters?) and withholding paychecks from state senators who refuse to return to Madison — the Democrats’ strategy to deny the Republican union-busters a quorum.

Although Democrat lawmakers are staying away from the Capitol Building in Wisconsin, protesters are not — they have occupied the Rotunda. Madison police appear hesitant to evict their fellow workers, one of whom filed the following report. Joy First is a peace activist living in Madison, WI, and a member of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), Madison Pledge of Resistance, and Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. First has stood with the protesters in the Capitol and offers her observations here.

Photographs accompanying First’s report are from the NYC rally. The images document the empathy New Yorkers feel for Wisconsin’s workers but they highlight another issue as well: outrage over the apparent misogyny driving both the effort to defund Planned Parenthood (in the Congress) and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s relentless attacks on teachers. — Editor

Protesters Comment On Scott Walker’s “Koch Habit”
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

MADISON, Wis. — February 28, 2010. The story continues to unfold in Wisconsin. I was at the Capitol last night expecting there would be arrests to get people out, but there were none. The energy level of the people was really high, but remained positive and peaceful.

As you know, large crowds have been sleeping at the Capitol for two weeks now. It is all very organized into a working community. There is an information booth, a family center where parents can go with their children for activities, a first aid center, and even a knitting center. There is tons of food being donated and delivered to the activists there many times a day.

The government has been talking about shutting the building and removing the overnight people for several days now, and it has not happened. But it does seem like the government is trying to gradually shut the people out. For the last few nights, people are no longer allowed to bring sleeping bags and other bedding into the building. There were warnings and rumors about evictions for several nights, but in the end the people have continued to occupy the Capitol 24 hours/day.

Last night though (Sunday Feb. 27) we thought that it was really going to happen and people would be arrested if they didn’t leave, and there were hundreds of people willing to stay. It had been widely publicized in the local media that a Walker appointee in the Dept. of Administration had said the building would be closed at 4:00 pm on Sunday, presumably for cleaning, but it was really to get the people out. I believe this decision was made in close consultation with Walker himself.

New York teachers and workers in Wisconsin — under attack
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

My husband, Steve, and I got to the Capitol at 1:45 pm on Sunday and had to stand in line for 20 minutes to get in. They were letting one person in for every two coming out. By 4:00 pm there were about 1000 people outside waiting to get in and they locked the doors. There were maybe about 1-2 thousand people inside the Capitol at that time.

We were expecting that the police would try to evict us and arrest those who refused to leave, as the Walker administration said they would, but it didn’t happen. There were a lot of rumors swirling around. The plan was that those who were going to risk arrest would move up from the ground floor to the first floor and so people moved upstairs.

The police told the people remaining on the ground floor that they had to leave or they would be arrested.

In the center of the Wisconsin Capitol is a huge rotunda with several levels of balconies circling the building, all looking down to the ground floor. As most people gathered on the first floor, we could look over the railing and see that a few people remained on the ground floor and sat down in the center of the rotunda, expecting that they would be arrested.

As we waited to see what would happen the drumming and chanting that have been going on for the last two weeks continued. At around 6:00 we began to hear rumors that we would not be arrested. At that point, the three people in my affinity group discussed it and decided it was important that we stay overnight and continue to exercise our First Amendment rights and hold onto the space. My concerns about leaving were twofold. First, if we left the space, they might not let us back in. I have heard that Ohio is not allowing citizens to have access to their Capitol. I was also concerned that if we left Walker would declare a victory and move forward with his plan.

“Wisconsin – NYC Solidarity”
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

We were thinking about how to settle in for the night, when we were told their would be an announcement. The Teaching Assistant Association (TAA) from UW-Madison has been doing a lot of the organizing work and I think they were the ones making the announcement at about 8:00 pm. They said that they had made a deal with the police and we would be allowed to stay in the building if we moved to the ground floor – which had just been cleaned – so that the Capitol staff could clean the first floor.

I, along with others in my affinity group, were concerned about this deal. It seemed we were slowly being squeezed out of the building. At one time people were sleeping on and occupying four floors of the building. At this point, we were only allowed on the ground floor and first floor. Now they wanted to confine us to the ground floor. I believe we were there exercising our First Amendment rights and so there was no need to make a deal with the police in order to stay. After some discussion among our affinity group, we decided that we felt our work there was completed for now and that we were not going to spend the night based on what had happened. We had no say in the making of this deal. I’m very happy that the students are there and leading the way. I also believe that it should have been more of a group decision before making a deal with the police.

One of the very positive things the TAA has been doing is to organize nonviolence training in the event that their is an arrest scenario. I have been participating in this. Because of the large crowds and the difficulty of bringing people together to sit through a more formal training, we are wandering through the crowds with a handout and talking informally to individuals and small groups.

I think it is absolutely incredible that for several nights, but especially last night when it was so widely publicized, the police were supposed to evict the people from the Capitol but did not. So, though the administration wants the people out, the police are not willing to arrest us. It seems like this situation makes the governor look powerless.

Like Weekends? Thank a Union Organizer!
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

On my way out, I thanked a couple of officers for not arresting us. One officer said that he didn’t want to arrest us and he is glad we are there. He doesn’t want to go back to 1959. That is the year that WI passed laws for collective bargaining for public employees. Over the last two weeks the police are very friendly with the protesters and most of them seem to be on our side.

However the very bad news is that today there is a large crowd clamoring to get into the Capitol, but that the police are not letting them in. THE CAPITOL IS CURRENTLY CLOSED TO THE PEOPLE. I guess at some point the police have to follow direct orders no matter what they believe. I don’t know what kind of response their will be from the people, but they will not take this without a struggle.

This is about way more than public workers losing their collective bargaining. The “budget repair” bill that we are trying to stop would have a dire effect on Medicaid and public transportation. It would allow the governor to sell public utilities in a no-bid process. (Hmmm. I wonder if the Koch brothers are in the mood to buy any public utilities for a dirt cheap price?) There are many provisions in this bill that would be harmful to the people of the state. At the same time, in January, the WI legislature passed and the governor signed a bill giving tax breaks to the richest people in the state. This is just the beginning. We all know the road where this is ultimately going. I believe we are fighting for our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren.

And I believe that the people of Wisconsin are not ready to give up and will continue the struggle. We will see what the next weeks bring. Power to the

The New Deal: austerity for the middle class, tax breaks for the rich…
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

View Photos/Videos From The Event…