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From the Redwood Progressive:

25 Years and Nearly One Million Deaths Later, North Coast Residents Remember Chernobyl Catastrophe

Rally at Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant
Tuesday April 26th  ~ 12:noon

101 off ramp at King Salmon Ave.
to the bay, south of the power plant

To Draw Concerned Residents To Nuclear Power Teach-In/Organizing
Revitalize Local Anti-Nuke Organizing

Shut Down Diablo Canyon and Indian Point Reactors Now! – R.I.P. USA Nuclear Reactors

Humboldt County, CA: In light of the corporate nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan, and the blindness of President Obama to the impossibility of running a safe nuclear power industry, local North Coast residents will gather at one of the oldest nuclear power reactor sites in the U.S.A., the Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant, from noon to 4 P.M. this Tuesday, April 26, 2011, the 25th Anniversary of the Chernobyl Catastrophe in Ukraine. Rally in support of the people of Japan and in solidarity with the current campaigns to immediately shut down reactors at Diablo Canyon, CA and Indian Point Nuclear Plant, N.Y.


Also, please sign this petition:

Tell your Representative to co-sponsor HR 1242  To ensure that nuclear power plants that are built can withstand and adequately respond to earthquakes, tsunamis, strong storms, or other events that threaten a major impact.

Addendum:  Didn’t realize until I heard Democracy Now this morning that the demo is to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl.

Did you know that Chernobyl translates as “Wormwood” and that Wormwood is mentioned in Revelations in which it is described as a star which will poison the water?

“And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.”
Revelation 8:10-11

A star is kind of like a nuclear power plant, right?

The conservative movement, having lost a great deal of institutional power in recent years, is trying to rejuvenate itself with a tax day protest of, well, an assortment of grievances including tax rates they want to blame on Obama but which were fixed by Republicans.  The “soaring tax rates” are a lot like the military “cuts” as the organizers avoid the inconvenient reality that there hasn’t been a federal tax rate increase in 16 years for anybody.  But it’s also about the bailouts, the stimulus package, and whatever else suits their fancy.  Some of the early indications in warm-up demos suggest that the nuttier elements which came to dominate the late hour McCain rallies will be back, with veiled and not-so-veiled threats of violence, signs calling Obama a communist or a Mulsim, and wacky conspiracy theories of various sorts (not that the left can throw stones there) abundant.  Fox News has been pumping the demonstrations up hard, and while I was running errands in Eureka yesterday I listened in on the right wing talk shows and that was the topic of the day, and probably will be again today and tomorrow when Hannity will have live coverage.

It’s good that conservatives are standing up for themselves while their political representatives do whatever they can to distance themselves despite the endorsements from political heavyweights like Newt Gingrish and Rick Santelli.  The slogans seem more appropriate for the 1980s, the golden years which are becoming the equivalent of the 1960s for conservatives.  It’s democracy, to which vehement discourse is essential.  But I wonder if Zombie will cover these events the same way she covers lefty events, if at all.

But it’s not fine that conservatives insiste on misrepresenting the history of the Boston Tea Party.  It was not, as popularly charactarized, a “tax revolt.”  The taxes had been in place without protest.  The Tea Party was actually a protest against corporate monopolies and the removal of a tariff which allowed Dutch and colonial smugglers to profit by undermining the British East India Tea Company sales in the colonies.  Here’s the irony, the British government lowered the taxes (actually reimbursed part of them) on the company so they could compete with the smugglers.  In other words it was a tax cut to the private sector, and more specifically the removal of a tariff which allowed an early version of a WalMart to come in and dominate the markets, which triggered the Tea Party direct action vandalism.

It’s one of those lies told often enough that it’s become gospel.

Addendum: Thom Hartman elaborates on the point, also making the WalMart analogy.  I guess we leftists can be as predictable as conservatives.

Second addendum: There’s a party in Eureka right now.  Rose has the details.

Third addendum: The organizers put out memos warning participants about the sexual innuendo of the term “teabagging.”

Oh, and Obama is a fascist.

That was the name of my “affinity group” in my first civil disobedience action.  An affinity group is loosely, and perhaps pretentiously, modeled after the anarchist cells (“grupos de afinidad”) in Spain during the Spanish Civil War who organized in a fairly non-hierarchal manner and found themselves shot at by communists as well as fascists.   It operates on a decision making process known as “consensus,” which is in theory a non-hierarchical alternative to majority rule, though I often found that it was more authoritarian in the lack of formal process checks on the more dynamic members of the group to manipulate the discussion.  That may be a topic for another thread some day.

Meanwhile, this post is for posterity.  My political experiences weren’t particularly unusual or more dramatic than those of any young activist during the 1980s.  There’s a popular perception that the activism of the 60s ended with the “me generation,” when in fact in terms of numbers there were far more students socially involved in the 1980s.  We may not have had the flair for street theater of the generation before us, and most of us chose quieter approaches: soup kitchen volunteerism, PIRG organizing, blending science and politics into environmental studies majors, and electoral work most prominently expressed in the Jesse Jackson campaigns.  But we also organized and attended demonstrations.  I’ve already posted some reflections on them.  We also had the “direct action movement” out of which some of the local brands of activism would evolve.  There’s a history being lost.  The Baby Boomer activists have plenty of outlets for their history.  The Gen X activists also have some stories.  This is one of them. (although technically speaking, my year of birth was the last official “baby boom” year).

Anyway, for those unfamiliar, the affinity group has been a chief mode of organization in the “anarchist” wing of the environmental and anti-war movement.  In my freshman year of college, I joined up with a group of fellow UCSC students to attend a protest of MX missile testing at Vandenberg Airforce Base down near Santa Barbara.  The MX, later named by Reagan the “Peacemaker” in an Orwellian irony appropriate for 1984, two years before the things were actually installed and activated (they’ve recently been decommissioned).  They were high powered MIRV missiles which were ostensibly intended to survive a Soviet first strike in order to take out Soviet cities even if most of us were already dead.  However, a number of strategic experts felt that the missile’s first strike capabilities would put the Soviets on edge and bring us closer to midnight on the Doomsday Clock.  There was extensive opposition to the testing and a protest was organized for the Spring of 2003.

That’s the backdrop.  This is an account of my first civil disobedience action.  I don’t think it’s remarkable.  Plenty of people who will read this have much more experience than I, and probably have much more fascinating tales to tell.  But it’s a small part of history which shouldn’t get lost.  And I have a few reflections.  Food for thought. Read the rest of this entry »

Check out this video of the “Alaska Women Reject Palin” demonstration in Anchorage yesterday morning. No Maoist sectarians with big red banners and bullhorns. No blocking traffic. No single-issue crashers. No 911 conspiracy theories. No stilts with Cat-in-the-Hat caps. No anger. No material for Zombie. The women are serious about their intentions, and clear and articulate about their message. They don’t make it personal. They aren’t acting out of some need for personal therapy. They aren’t chanting mindless tired slogans. Their signs are focused – on point. I’m jealous.

And they’re getting national coverage. When was the last time a demo in San Francisco got national coverage?

Now, conservative Alaskans aren’t quite so sanguine. “They’re a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots.” The organizers got some threats of violence.

Here’s a clip from a vehicle driving by.

I heard Amy Goodman’s broadcast on my way back into town this afternoon and if her reporting was even half accurate the police conduct was appalling. I imagine there will be some civil rights lawsuits out of this. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to do the research to do this justice, but please feel free to post any links of interest.

Addendum: Amy arrested.

As an activist in the Bay Area we always asked the questions about groups like the Revolutionary Communist Party, a Maoist group which likes to show up with their megaphones and banners to demonstrations other people organize and either disrupt them or misrepresent the demonstration to the general public walking by who assume that the other 99 percent of the crowd is with them. The mainstream media sometimes bothers to distinguish them. Unfortunately, the right wing media such as Incorrect University which produced this film of today’s Islamo-fascist whatchamacallit events and the “counter-protests” at UC Berkeley.

To his credit, the filmer did dedicate some of the time to reasonably articulate leftists. But I recognize a few of the more animated protesters as RCP, and if this guy bothered to do his homework he should have known who they were. Instead, he implies that this group of cro-mags speaks for the left. I don’t know if the omission is deliberate, but it’s irresponsible nevertheless. It would undermine the whole “leftists don’t believe in free speech” meme.

As to the more articulate left representatives, towards the end of the video there is a woman who identifies herself as a leftist who is concerned about what the extreme elements of Islam represent in terms of a threat to anything a leftist should stand for. I’m sure there are plenty who would challenge her leftist credentials on that basis. Another leftist early on argues with some justification that the difference between the evils of Islamic extremism and the US is scale even if on some level there is more intense malevolence on the part of the extremists, and it’s a good point. But there should come a time where the left is comfortable acknowledging evils that might be in opposition to “US imperialism” or whatever without the presently obligatory “but” at the end of the acknowledgment. That won’t come until more in the anti-war movement starts asking why the majority of the population opposes the war but so few are attending the demonstrations.


Meanwhile, this Catholic fan of Pope St. Felix III thinks that David Horowitz, the University of Wisconsin, and the college GOP club are part of a secret Jewish-communist order.

You probably know Tom’s voice if you’ve listened to my radio show. He and I represented about half of the southern Humboldt folk who opposed Measure T last year, and more often than not we’ve found ways to piss off pretty much everyone across the political spectrum at one time or another. Among the eggregious topics was activistism – we read from the essay on a couple of shows. The feeling is that the majority of direct action and demonstrations taking place are at best a waste of time and on some occasions actually counter-productive. I intend to write something up in more detail about the over-use of the demonstration, and the lack of real thought on the part of the usual participants, but I wanted to touch on the topic while it’s fresh.

So for activistism:

This brave new ideology combines the political illiteracy of hypermediated American culture with all the moral zeal of a 19th-century temperance crusade. In this worldview, all roads lead to more activism and more activists. And the one who acts is righteous. The activistists seem to borrow their philosophy from the factory boss in a Heinrich Böll short story who greets his employees each morning with the exhortation “Let’s have some action.” To which the workers obediently reply: “Action will be taken!”

Activists unconsciously echoing factory bosses? The parallel isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem, as another German, Theodor Adorno, suggests. Adorno—who admittedly doesn’t have the last word on activism, since he called the cops on University of Frankfurt demonstrators in 1968—nonetheless had a good point when he criticized the student and antiwar movement of the 1960s for what he called “actionism.” In his eyes this was an unreflective “collective compulsion for positivity that allows its immediate translation into practice.” Though embraced by people who imagine themselves to be radical agitators, that thoughtless compulsion mirrors the pragmatic empiricism of the dominant culture—”not the least way in which actionism fits so smoothly into society’s prevailing trend.” Actionism, he concluded, “is regressive…. It refuses to reflect on its own impotence.”

On the other hand, the left also has a bad habit of brutalizing the English language by taking any noun, verb, or adjective and putting an ism on the tail end to create a catch-all word to describe some opposition to your own world view. But this time it’s okay because anything is acceptable if taken as irony. That’s my personal rule – ironyism.

So it’s with ironyism in mind that I make note of Tom’s letter to the Redwood Times in response to this article about a weekly peace vigil held at noon right here in Garberville. Unlike Tom, I do take comfort in the fact that they’re there even though my work schedule doesn’t allow me to participate. There is some importance to visibility. Tom is not impressed with the “honk for peace” sign that encourages a disturbing of the peace in the name of peace. However, it was another sign that really chafes his craw (do I have that metaphor right?). He writes to the RT:

But my glee must question itself, for in the middle ground of the photograph we read on another sign that, “The Terrorists are U.S.” Since I am a citizen of this country, I am apparently a terrorist. In spite of all my honking, I (like most readers of this paper) am guilty of horrendous crimes. Who would believe the honking of a terrorist? How do we distinguish between a terrorist honk and a peace-loving honk?

Tom is of course addressing the original sin approach to progressive politics, which applies to racism, sexism, imperialism, and every other ism worth fighting. We is it. And the only redemption is…. action. Action will be taken.

The demonstrators are all good people, and I consider some of them personal friends. But if Tom, a progressive whose politics border on socialist, is getting this message and responding as he does, imagine the impact on the vast majority of ordinary folk who are on the lunch clock as they’re driving by this very exclusive demo. As with every demonstration, the strategy should be considered. Whom are we reaching? How are we reaching them? How will we measure the success of the demonstration?

From the essay:

How does activist anti-intellectualism manifest on the ground? One instance is the reduction of strategy to mere tactics, to horrible effect. Take for example the largely failed San Francisco protest against the National Association of Broadcasters, an action that ended up costing tens of thousands of dollars, gained almost no attention, had no impact on the NAB and nearly ruined one of the sponsoring organizations. During a postmortem discussion of this debacle one of the organizers reminded her audience that: “We had 3,000 people marching through [the shopping district] Union Square protesting the media. That’s amazing. It had never happened before.” Never mind the utter non-impact of this aimless march. The point was clear: We marched for ourselves. We were our own targets. Activism made us good.

And maybe the good Paul Encimer and friends have thought these questions through, and have their answers, or at least some of them. Let’s just remember that a demonstration is not necessarily successful simply because it happens.

Oh, and I forgot to mention – the RT’s edit of Tom’s letter to change the spelling from minuscule to miniscule is technically erroneous. minuscule is the proper spelling.

Starting with the letter-of-the-day published in the ER, ostensibly about the Da Vinci Code. Although the writer, Jim Beagle, doesn’t really talk about the movie, he does conclude that it is “the work of the devil, straight from Hell.” He doesn’t even mention whether he’s seen it. You see, it’s a matter of “choice,” “knowledge,” and “attitude.” The Holy Spirit told him.

Am I a religious bigot?


The Da Vinci Code isn’t the only current release movie out of favor with the wingnuts. Over at one of the larger right wing blogs entitled “Little Green Footballs,” the posters are talking boycott against Superman Returns because it isn’t patriotic enough for a 4th of July release. I kid you not! Check out some of the comments.

If anybody sees the movie while this post is still on my entry page, would you mind posting a comment or two as to whether it is appropriate for a 5-year-old child? My son is a huge Superman fan. He’s seen films like the 60s version of Batman, The Incredibles, and pretty much every animated Disney movie. Might take him on the 4th, before we celebrate independence and “all that stuff.”


Meanwhile on the other side of the political spectrum, the Workers World Party, a neo-Trotkyist sect which pretty much runs the ANSWER coalition, has apparently brought Marx into the 21st century of political correctness, having rewritten the most famous line of the Communist Manifesto and incorporated it into its masthead. The logo reads “workers & oppressed peoples of the world unite.”

I wonder what Marx would have thought about the insertion of identity politics into the Manifesto. Probably not much, as he was hardly a paragon of racial and sexual sensitivity all sectarian mythology to the contrary.

The WWP originally split from the Socialist Workers Party during the 1950s over a dispute pertaining to the Soviet Suppression of the Hungarian Revolution. Don’t remember at this point which of them supported it.

More recently, Jewish activist Michael Lerner was barred from speaking at an ANSWER-sponsored rally. In disputing the claim that Lerner’s ban was the product of his support for Israel, coalition leaders later claimed it was because of his public criticism of the WWP and ANSWER (precisely for statements about Israel). For those of you who have wondered why I have a hard time working up enthusiasm for ANSWER-sponsored anti-war demos – this is one of many reasons why.


September 2020