If Joseph's was the battle cry that started the year for the left (grassroots section), the moment that summed up just how far the left had come in one year aired on another Pacifica Radio station, WBAI. December 27th, Law and Disorder Radio found hosts Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner speaking with Nellie Hester Baily, co-founder of the Harlem Tenants Council and co-host of Black Agenda Radio (Progressive Radio) with Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) and the host of WHCR's Inside Housing. Excerpt.
Michael Smith: You had Colin Powell, you had Condoleeza Rice --
Nellie Hester Bailey: We had Colin Powell, we had Condoleeza Rice as the first and we saw what fruit that bore. It was not a good fruit.
Michael Ratner: So why do you think it happened? I mean, I understand. Really your analysis is quite clear, quite sharp and one could even argue that the powers-that-be got Obama in to essentially supress the progressive movement and the African-American community --
Nellie Hester Bailey: Absolutely.
Michael Ratner: -- that would have actually diverted it and it created this whole tension about should we do this or not. But why do you think people missed it so much? Particularly, there are a lot of good people who you know. Your friends who were certainly on the fence if not worse in terms of their thinking this was going to be the great savior.
Nellie Hester Bailey: I-I'm at a loss. I mean, when you look at people whom I love dearly -- Amiri Baraka, I mean how do you explain that?
Michael Ratner: That one's a hard one.
Nellie Hester Bailey: Fletcher? Nnnnnhhh -- he straddled the fence here and there. Nnnnhhh, you know you can, okay. But people like Baraka? Some of the other noted left wingers, a long history, tradition of Marxist analysis -- How is that possible? One of the excuses we heard was, "Well the people are for him, we don't want to display this vanguard elitism." These forces, Progressives for Obama, need to step back and realize their responsibility to building a working class people, multi-racial movement to take on this system that is declining, that is in collapse, it is not sustainable. We see the desperation every single day. And it seems to me that if they cannot wake up at this point, then a large part of the movement that we're trying to build, that Michael talked about, we saw it from the very beginning, that you're talking about, that others are talking about, that we are all going to be doomed not unless conditions force the populace into the streets as we are seeing in Ireland, as we are seeing in England, as we are seeing throughout Europe, as we are seeing in Greece, as we're seeing in France. And if conditions don't drive people into the street, that there comes a point that they can no longer tolerate the assault on their lives and their civil liberties, then we are in fact doomed and I'm not too optimistic. But, as Che said, if you are a revolutionary, then we are full of optimism. So I am optimistic but it is a hard road ahead of us.
From silenced to a seat at the table, ENOUGH is the story of 2010.
It's the why for the mid-term results as leftists voted for third parties, Republicans or stayed home resulting in the Democrats experiencing the most crushing Congressional blow in over sixty years.
And yet so many didn't want to hear it. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi both saw the resounding "NO!" as a cry for more of their feckless leadership which has resulted in smoke & mirrors but nothing of substance.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed! Well . . . it was stricken from the books. Repealed? It was more like a giant gob of White Out had been plastered over the policy. The bill that passed both Houses made no statement of equality, made no statement that all Americans should be allowed to serve in the military. It just took away Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And, in order to get the votes required, it also allowed the hellhole that is Guantanamo to continue. The deadline for closing Guantanamo long ago passed. The Lilly Ledbetter Act? Incomplete grade -- even from Lilly herself. ObamaCare? A nightmare that's not going away anytime soon. The new powers Barack's claiming are as gruesome as any Bully Boy Bush claimed he possessed. Both the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War continue under Barack.
In other words, if you were even half-paying attention, it wasn't difficult for you to reach your own enough point. Which may have been why the Aimee Allisons worked so hard to make sure realities were obscured. Take Katrina vanden Heuvel, daughter of Diplotrash and CIA pioneer William vanden Heuvel, who repeatedly served as the left's biggest distractor. In July, writing about WikiLeaks Afghanistan War dump of approximately 92,000 documents, Katty-van-van expressed the fervent hope that the documents might allow Barack to see the truth about the Afghanistan War . . . from the government documents . . . the US government documents which, as president, he already had access to.
No, no one can be that dumb, not even The Peace Resister. But there she was a month later, when White House plus-size spokesmodel Robert Gibbs was attacking "the professional left" (the left that was criticizing War Hawk Barack), backing up Robert Gibbs with asinine statements such as: "As someone who would like to see Obama's presidency succeed, I think he needs a left that engages in the same blending of principle and pragmatism that convinced progressive Democrats choose him over Clinton and Edwards." Like Ann Coulter, Katty-van-van favors short skirts that her knobby knees and saddle bags just can't pull off, but this year was all about Katty showing that, like Coulter, she also loved to draw a line between 'loyal' Americans and 'disloyal' ones. Loyal ones, Katty would have you know, wants, dreams and creams for Barack to succeed. So should Barack scissor away at the safety net that is Social Security, Katty wants you to know, all loyal Americans will join her in rooting for his success. To do otherwise would, by her formula, be just to engage in "betrayal sweepstakes" (her term).
An ad-hoc letter entitled "An Open Letter to the Left Establishment" appeared online and it's opening paragraph is: "This letter is a call for active support of protest to Michael Moore, Norman Solomon, Katrina van den Heuvel, Michael Eric Dyson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Thomas Frank, Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher Jr., Jesse Jackson Jr., and other high profile progressive supporters of the Obama electoral campaign." The Nation, The Progressive and many other outlets worked overtime to ignore it. ZNet posted it but, before you applaud, under pressure from some named in the opening paragraph, Michael Albert pulled the letter, disowned his signature on it, offered a ridiculous explanation that he thought that first paragraph was saying the letter was from those listed -- in which case, he loved the letter -- and not that it was to them -- in which case he hated it. He hated, he explained, because he couldn't mind read and know what they thought about Barack. And apparently being de-spined also left him unable to click on links because the open letter allowed you to read the opinions of Katty, Solomon, et al.
While the letter rarely got attention online -- despite the blackout, it should reach 5,000 signatures in the next weeks -- where it did, you could usually find Carl Davidson -- such as here and here. Poor Carl, pathetic way back when and pathetic now. He never amounted to anything and so he serves as the Hazel to Progressives for Obama. In that role, he shows up everywhere to lie and lie some more.
When the letter is the topic, Carl shows up to insist that Progressives for Obama were never endorsing Obama or saying he was groovy or swallowable, just that he was a better choice than McCain-Palin.
Carl's lies are as disgusting as his looks. Early on, I was supposed to be a Progressive for Obama signee. I hadn't been asked. It had just been assumed. (I was not the only one whose name they tried to force on their ridiculous 'organization.') When I was informed at the last minute, I made very clear that my name was not to be put on their online letter and that I did not support their garbage. When I was told, "I'll try to get you off the list . . .," I responded, "You will get me off the list or I will expose ____'s sexual assault on _____ ______ and ask why so-called left leaders continue to embrace him." (_____ was a signee of the group's letter. ____ is not Carl Davidson.) That was a very loud conversation and, consulting my date book, I see that it took place long before the primaries ended. That's because Progressives for Obama actually came into being after certain no-names saw their endorsements of Barack fail to woo voters in California (Hillary carried the California primary). Carl's a damn liar.
Damn liar? What's that smell?
Oh, it's Tom Hayden. The man, whom the left kicked to the curb in the early 70s only to see him buy his way back in (on someone else's dime -- Tom's purse poor, even when extorting), used the Iraq War to try to give his name meaning after his divorce from (and Brinx Robbery of) Jane Fonda meant his name was mud and he couldn't even hold on to his state legislature seat or get elected a mayor. It was over for Tom. He would rewrite the sixties repeatedly in book form but that's all he had to offer until Bush declared war on Iraq. Like Norma Shearer sizing up Irving Thalberg, Tom just knew the Iraq War was his road to renewed fame.
He got a little attention for a brief moment but his day in the sun is pretty much done. And that might explain the attitude he sported when attacking John Halle over the open letter:
So I started reading this letter which sounded pretty good and it looked like I signed it, so I read further and discovered that it was to as a member of a group I didn’t know I belonged to called the "Left Establishment." As I kept reading, it was a vile, toxic diatribe ending with a demand that I, along with the rest of the "Left Establishment", endorse a demonstration this week in Washington featuring civil disobedience at the White House fence.
To whomever sent the letter, I have to say I'm sorry that I just don't respond positively to nasty invitations. I hope you can understand. Calm down and tell me who you are before the conspiracy theories mushroom.
When Tom goes off on an everyperson or civilian, he's really hoping that those of us at his wife's Santa Monica home in the eighties or at his wife's Santa Barbara ranch never speak up. In 2006, Tom got a little bit honest with a column that ended up all over the internet explaining a little of how he was a lobbyist for the Israeli government while in the state legislature (by that, I mean he was doing their bidding). Call it The Semi-Confessions of St. Tomastine. Tom-Tom left out how his own paranoia and hatred drove his decision to back the Israeli government. As anyone who knew Tom during that period will recall, he used to babble on and on about the Trilateral Commission and those "damn Saudis" and much more. Tom was anti-Arab, whether he'll cop to it today or not. And I bring that up because this loon, this nut job, wants to accuse John Halle of "conspiracy theories"?
No one does conspiracy theories better than Tom Hayden and what's really sad is that he's just as nutty straight as he is when he's stoned or drunk. The benefit of having know Tom for decades is that I have millions and millions of stories to pick from -- many documented in real time in my journals, often with a letter about him or from him attached to a certain page -- and I'll continue to share those each time Tom-Tom wants to attack someone who doesn't deserve it.
It's amazing that Tom rips apart John Halle and then claims we need to pull together. It's so cute how we always need to pull together after men like Tom have had the last word. That's how they expect it to work anyway.
John Halle and the others behind the open letter really touched a nerve. They did so because these left leaders that we never elected seem to think they cannot be criticized. (Tom should damn well know that's not the case or has he forgotten getting kicked out of the commune? If he's forgotten, I can spend a whole week writing what he's somehow refused to tell readers of in his many My Life In The 60s books.) Reality tends to drag these 'leaders' down. Since they never actually became leaders due to hard work, they're threatened that they could lose the status money purchased for them at any moment. So they spend forever dickering over silly little things, like Katrina's nonsense with the New York Times after the paper had the temerity to note that the circulation of the magazine had dropped significantly. Before Katrina next dickers she might want to be sure that the half-offs and freebies are not counted in paid circulation because that would actually be -- pay attention, Katty -- breaking the law. All it's going to take is someone saying "Enough."
These lesser lights always had the road paved for them by someone else but want to pretend like they've struggled (hint: Radcliffe graduates rarely struggled) and that they earned their spots. But if Katrina, Matthew Rothschild or any of the rest actually had to fight, they'd be able to take stands today. In the case of Rothschild, his Multiple Personalities should have seen him institutionalized some time ago.
In the current issue of The Progressive, he co-authors a no-more-easy-praise-for-Barry piece. Yet no sooner was that on news stands than he was praising Barack online for Don't Ask, Don't Tell. (No links to Matthew. With The Nation, I just don't want to link. With Matthew, he and the webmaster need to figure out what the f**k is wrong with their website. Every page you click on currently has a problem and never the full text of what you're supposed to be getting.) Or take post-mid-terms when Matthew was declaring that the state of Wisconsin had all but committed a crime by not re-electing Russ Feingold only to, weeks later, insist that no one -- not even Sainted Russ (I know Russ and I like Russ and I wish he were still in the Senate but don't see his loss as the end of the world) should challenge Barack. Why was that?
Matthew argued that for Barack to face a primary challenge "would be extremely divisive" to the Democratic Party "and it would drive a wedge between the largely white left and the overwhelming majority of African-Americans at the grassroots". Betty's "Kiss my Black ass, Matthew Rothschild" and Marcia's "Matthew Rothschild patronizes Black people" drove home that Matthew needed to stop being so patronizing and assuming African-Americans couldn't grasp politics. In "The Black Roundtable," Isaiah would note that Rothschild's sudden concern for the feelings of Black America were concerns he never expressed toward women when he was ripping Hillary apart through out 2008 and Ann would get right to the point and ask why the hell Matthew Rothschild thought he had a right to have a say in a Democratic Party primary when he is a Socialist?
Matthew is declaring that Barack must be gifted with the 2012 nomination (as he was with the 2008) and there's no reason to gift him or anyone else. That's not politics. And it's past time people stopped infantalizing the electorate.
This smug 'we know best' attitude is what's destroyed so many of the left 'leaders.' At a time when the American people want to see them stand up, they remain supine having hocked their spines to the Democratic Party. It's why the US Socialist Worker is such a damn embarrassment. Self-identified Socialists who are not hiding in a political closet have spent two years propping up Barack and his Corporatist War Hawk administration. Pressed to act tough, they will trash Hillary -- often with the sort of sexism Nicole Colson pioneered (but denies any knowledge of today) during the primaries. But with very few exceptions (Lance Selfa and Lee Sustar are two exceptions), they cannot call out Barack for his disastrous and lethal policies.
They can -- and do -- turn their ire on the people -- and then whine that Socialism should be more popular than it is. Hint: When you attack the working class regularly, you run off the working class as readers.
What the Socialist Worker best telegraphed was just how saturated with their own perceived self-importance so many elements on the left are. To read the bulk of the articles at Socialist Worker over the last two years was to be greeted with how stupid, how racist, how awful people were. Over and over. What the hell is that?
The left 'leaders' and outlets really thought they could sell I-am-so-exceptional and that people would pay for it?
Do they not understand the first thing about Marx and Lenin?
Probably not. Because, more and more, the left's cry of "Marx said . . ." seems less about what was actually said and more that a man said it.
The phallic worship of the left may be the most damaging element today. It was this element, after all, that ran amuck in 2008 dismaying many as suddenly sexism and homophobia were not abhorrent practices to be called out but tools one uses to elect their favorite man. In 2010?
WikiLeaks had many newsworthy releases this year. That did not mean Julian Assange was above reproach or a saint . . . unless you were part of the phallic worshiping left.
Dave Lindorff, Michael Moore (who had the good sense to walk it back), Naomi Wolf, Naomi Klein, Nicole Colson, Keith Olbermann, Ray McGovern, Barbara Ehrenreich, Tom Hayden and all the others who had used sexism and homophobia to advance Barack suddenly showed up in December 2010 to attack two women who may have been raped. They ridiculed the claims by one woman that she was forcibly held down and the other that she was asleep when she was penetrated. They attacked the women. They trashed the women.
And their arrogance was as appalling as the message that they were sending to the survivors of rape and potential victims in the future. [See Ann's "This rape survivor says: Naomi Wolf, go f**k yourself ," Mary Elizabeth Williams' "This week in crazy: Naomi Wolf" (Salon), Maia's "Rape myths and Julian Assange" (The Hand Mirror), Libby Brooks' "No one gains from this 'rape-rape' defence of Julian Assange" (Guardian), Kate Harding's "The rush to smear Assange's rape accusers" (Salon), Jill's "Some thoughts on 'sex by surprise'" (Feministe), Laurie Penny's "Tell me what a rapist looks like" (New Statesman), Esther Addley's "How the rape claims against Julian Assange sparked an information war" (Guardian). That's some highlighted writing, it is not all the strong writing by strong women -- and some strong men as well -- on this subject.] And their arrogance continues. Over two weeks ago, Ava and I outlined how Women Against Rape is a group of Marxist women in the UK, they are not a group of feminist women or of Marxist-feminists. But they wrote a letter (the sort of 'action' their faux group can get behind) and suddenly they were providing the same cover Naomi Wolf earlier had to allow the attacks on the two women to continue. This week, Katha Pollitt has revealed that WAR is also a group that distorts facts:
In a much-cited letter to the Guardian, Katrin Axelsson of Women Against Rape argued that Sweden's low rape conviction rate proved that Assange was being set up – in 2006, she claimed, only six people were convicted out of 4,000 reported. Not so.
"I don't know where they got those figures," Amnesty International's Katarina Bergehed told me by phone from Sweden. "In 2006 there were 3,074 rapes and 227 convictions." (Sweden tracks rape by individual acts, not by number of victims, so the prevalence of rape is less than it looks.) Bergehed should know: she wrote the Swedish section of the Amnesty report on sex crimes in the Nordic countries that Assange supporters cite as proving that Sweden is the worst place in Europe for rape victims.
Where are the corrections? Nicole Colson and others, where are your corrections?
Oh, that's right, they don't do corrections.
It takes less than two minutes to say, "I was wrong. My mistake, my error. I apologize." I know it takes less than two minutes because I'm forever saying those words here. And life does go on. But the difference is, I'm not trying to steal someone's vote or trick them. I have no need for anyone to either see me as a leader or think I am infallible. It's a shame those who want to be, to use John Halle's term, "the establishment left" can't own their own mistakes.
Ideally, a leader highlights an issue or a protest or event. Cindy Sheehan does that and does it very well. She'll also own her own mistakes without prompting. That's something else that a real leader should be able to do. The fact that so many refuse to do so goes towards the rising level of "Enough!" in this country.
As does the desire by so many to put one over on the grassroots because they just know the roots, the working class, just not smart enough. Interestingly, when, for example, Danny Schechter complains that Amy Goodman said her audience wasn't smart enough to follow his economic topics, he was calling her out for patronizing her audience only to turn around and do the same himself with regards to Barack.
Some read about that and laugh at just how out-of-touch they all are. Others don't read it but sense it. You can't put one over on the people forever. You can temporarily trick people -- as many con artists have. But you can't fool the people indefinitely . . . as George W. Bush found out some time ago . . . and as Barack Obama has discovered more recently.
We do catch on. We have busy lives and we consume information in a system that works overtime to distract us. But common sense and perspective are hallmarks of the human condition and they do kick in. Equally true, fads passed off as "movements" are doomed to meet the same quick death as fads passed off as fads.
The most undemocratic of democracy philosophers Plato advocated for many things in The Republic (as Karl Popper so often noted). But whether it was the cave analogy or the philosopher-kings, the premise behind it all was, "Let's trick the people." That's why Karl Marx was such a revelation as a philosopher. Here was someone who trusted the people. Not the elites, the people. The book was not written from a perspective of, "I am better than the workers." So it's been so disappointing to see the left establishment (Marxist and non-Marxist) spend the last two years writing so many paens to how great they themselves were and how awful everyone else was. Around the time Kate Clinton was slamming The Kids Are Alright for not being a documentary about her own life, we were left with more and more with the impression that the left establishment was a bunch of whiney ego-maniacs who were forever self-stroking.
As real issues were denied and and outrages ignored, the left establishment saw to it that the gulf between them and the people they'd love to influence only grew greater. And, as Ruth points out, they only underscore how unnecessary they are as they pen yet another conventional wisdom column and want to insist that you donate money because their musings are, golly, almost like investigative reporting -- they're exploring the interiors of their souls!!! -- and that should be funded.
In January 2009, these 'leaders' were full of themselves and convinced that a major shift in American politics had taken place, that Barack would be riding high forever and that the Republican Party was doomed. Two years later and their psychic abilities are as much in question as their own methods. So it's no real surprise that they fail to heed the signs of their own demise as they continue to ignore the people's "ENOUGH!" refrain.
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