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Solution Paper #28: On Using Blogs: Journalism (facts and interpretation, not ideological propaganda): Blogging at YearlyKos (6/7-11-06)
6-12-06, Blog entry for Collective Blog #7. About The 1st Annual YearlyKos Bloggers Convention in Las Vegas, June 8-11, 2006. Our report is based on our perspective of (1) "tracking the gaps" as they relate to education, jobs, housing, etc., between Blacks in the inner cities (not to mention "gapped" groups of White Americans), in order to influence positively the closing of those gaps through our book, CD, weekly columns, blog, and solutions papers (which includes our Building Blocks and 7Keys... papers); (2) seeking common ground for Blacks and Whites and for Republicans/Democrats/Independents/Greens through what Archbishop Tutu of South Africa calls ubuntu reconciliation (see our book, Chapter 14) for inner cities; (3) with our our eye especially on the gaps as they relate to young Black males; (4) with a special goal of getting the NAACP and other Black organizations to once again get their eyes back on the prize; (5) doing so as "new media journalists (reporting plus analysis backed by facts, eschewing partisan politics for performance politics (measuring and interpreting the gaps, sifting truth from belief and validity from plausibility; (6) following these words of Abraham Lincoln at his 4-4-1864 Inaugural Address , "with malice toward none; and charity for all, ... let us strive on to finish the work we are in;" (7) interpreting Lincoln's ("all...are created equal") phrase and his "the work" to be the closing of the gaps and extending the spirit and substance of the dream of Martin Luther King to all.
Posted 6-12-06, 11:59 a.m.
[Editor's note: YK entries were edited by Beacon the Hill Press based on the dialogue of Ron Edwards and the Beacon attendee at YearlyKos, which Ron could not attend]
6-8-06, YK #1: The Blogging Convention gets underway. Nearly 1,000 bloggers from around the country have gathered to exchange ideas and learn from each other how to use blogs and what DailyKos and YearlyKos call,the netroots, to involve people in Democratic Party political action. Lots of very dedicated, eager, focused people, dedicated to "taking the country back" from the Republicans. This is different from our day, in the 1960s and 1970s. Then we had specific goals. We folded arms together across the political spectrum. YearlyKos does not seem to be about traditional political activism, working to achieve specific goals, as it is about Democratic Party activism, finding candidates for the Democratic Party and running them, "winning back", as the mantra goes, the House, the Senate, and the White House. Thus, so far, for us, at least, after the first day, Democratic Party progressive talking points are the focus, with the seeming attempt to force everything through the political lens of anti-war perspectives and Bush bashing. The "Gaps" we write about don't seem to be a focus here. As we see the 7 (education, jobs, housing, public safety, environmental safety, government, ethics) as applied to the inner city (especially that of Minneapolis), they transcend the parties and will require efforts of people on both sides of the political aisle, as the 7 are not R or D problems, but people and society problems that will require Rs and Ds to work together if they are to be solved.
YK Posting 6-8-06, 12:56 p.m.
6-8-06, YK #2: The African American Caucus was held this morning, called unofficially by some "The Black Caucus"). We'll reflect and add more later. Mostly young people (20's, 30's), often expressing frustration at communicating with the previous generation of Black leaders who still want to communicate the old fashioned way: from the pulpit of the largest Black church in town or via fax, not electronically. They have gone way beyond our methods of the 60s and 70s: flyers, letters, stamped envelopes. They could not believe organizations were purging their files to save stamp money when it is comparatively so inexpensive to have a web page, a blog and an email list that avoid the costs of printing and mailing.
It was noted that celebrity rules in America, and so people should be encouraged to blog to get ideas out using becoming a celebrity as a means of encouragement. And real celebrities should get more involved to get their message out, especially to young kids, especially young males.
And some, including real celebrities, are using www.myspace.com as their marketing/publicity mechanism of choice. Fast and inexpensive. The young use it. Elders don't. Indeed, much of the activism of the recent immigration marches was accomplished through myspace.com.
We learned of specifically Black or African American oriented blogs, such as: www.negroplease.com , www.negrophile.com , www.technorati.com (when at technorati, get links by searching by subject, i.e., "Black," or "African-American"), http://www.blackcommentator.com ( "commentary, analysis and investigations on issues affecting African Americans" ); www.lynnedjohnson.com/diary (General Manger for Vibe , who lists links to many Black blogs at http://www.lynnedjohnson.com/links ).
Blogs of attendees included Emily's Blog, at http://emilyjmorris.blogspot.com), who is "deeply concerned and angry about the casual indifference by mainstream America towards poor people in this country, especially people of color," as noted below in YK#6); The Republic of T at www.republicoft.com (whose comments about gay issues mirrors our concern regarding Black issues: " just keep doing what you've always done, vote Democratic, and don't expect much"); Chicago Dyke, at www.correntewire.com/blog/chicago_dyke (who makes the point about celebrityness: " Americans and politicians ... aren't just "leaders" and "legislators," they are also the transforming and formed figures know as "celebrities" ... like little traveling circuses with ... all the interesting people ... on exhibit."); the "comedian-author-vigilante pundit" Baratunde favors more blog activity; and we had as well as one focused on health and wellness for African Americans: www.wichitawellness.org, begun by Larry Bush of Kansas. And we had a person from D.C. who is a pioneer in the field of blogger relations including blog creation/management, blog advertising, blog training and blogger outreach. Finally, a very perceptive blogger was there whose URL and name we cannot find, but who we quote next for his or her perceptive coments about Black blogging (and if he or she reads this, we hope they contact us so we can give proper credit):
"The Access Problem We started the way every session at a conference like this starts: where are the black people? Why aren't there more black bloggers in the political blogosphere? What is needed to change this? IS something needed to change this?
"What's the Relevance There were two brothas new to the blogging scene who were curious and a little skeptical about the real value of blogging to the black community. Basically, why should we care? ..... My own take is it's not just about blogging, per se, but all forms of participatory communications (social networking, websites in general, etc)
"The real value, as I and many people in the room see it, of something like blogging in the "black community" is the same
"To contribute (externally) to the national discussion, raising issues others might not, adding context others would miss. Don't wait for the national politicians to come to us, asking what we want. Go to them! Have a voice.
"To hold our "black leaders" accountable. We've had an issue for a while of "black leader"-isis, where some single figure is appointed (often externally) as the voice of the people. Once folks get in this position, they are reluctant to leave it. A woman who works with Issue Dynamics told her frustrating story of a large national black organization with 500,000 members that only had 2,000 people on its email list. The group wasn't interested in a participatory power structure. Someone raised the interesting point that a lot of black young folks don't feel represented by the black church anymore. Well, that has got to change.
"What I see is that, as black people in America, we know, more than any other group, all about being locked out of the conversation. That's how we were brought here, and we've used all sorts of means to assert our voice into that conversation. We've burned shit down. We've protested. We created hip hop. Tools such as blogging should be the most effective in our hands. Think of hip hop. 'All I need is one mic' is the mantra. How about this: 'all I need is one blog.' "
Note this: Republic of T also gives a wonderful litmus test from Ghandi: "Be the change you want to see in the world." We can use that to determine what it is Democrats, especially progressives, want to really see by how they live and support the change they want, not just for white liberals, but for minorities, especially Blacks, as well as the discrimination experienced by the GLBT community. That can be applied to the inner cities as well. We return to Emily's phrase, even for progessives when it comes to the inner cities: casual indifference.
The point was emphasized that blogs won't fix broken spirits, and that still key is meeting one on one with young people. A resistance was expressed to blogs as they can't replace people. How to find the balance is the question.
Our publisher broached the idea of pooling ideas or having a common web site for use by activists in inner cities across the country. The independent minded nature of the group, mostly young, suggests that the autonomy of individual blogs trumps, at least for now, a common one dedicated to Black issues. The hope was expressed that the group might consider it later. Our publisher offered to help and passed out to the 15 present (10 Blacks, 5 Whites) free sets of The Minneapolis Story book and CD.
YK posting 6/8/06, 1:20 p.m.
6-8-06, YK #3: Cost of generational digital divide. Concern was raised at the Black caucus concerning the cost to promote and solve issues particularly of interest to Blacks, as the older generation is not adapting to the newer technology and ways to communicate. Too many older generation frustrated them as the older ones rely on faxes they want recipients to use to "spread the word" whereas the young technologically conversant bloggers prefer Email.
Concern was also raised that too many so-called older generation Black leaders want the young to get their permission to do things, that they were taking advantage of the deference paid to the older generation; this one of the reasons many of the young now ignore them (which is what younger generations do anyway, and which our generation of activists did in the 60s when we boldly stepped out in front of the dogs and fire hoses and were beaten and jailed).
This generational rift is all so unnecessary. All of our experiences are needed in partnership if we are to overcome the blockades of racism preventing equal access and equal opportunity, especially in the inner cities. Another concern raised was that too many established Black leaders, nationally and locally, are too comfortable with their guaranteed monies that they no longer really stand for the community. Interestingly, such comments would be preceded with "I don't want to name names" only to have "name names" shouted when they were done (note: no names were uttered, although we do in our book, columns, and blog). White bloggers, on the other hand do nothing but name names. Why won't Black bloggers?
YK posting 6-8-06, 1:30 p.m.
6-8-06, YK #4: Words for Knowledge vs. information. Even though this is still just the end of the first day, it is interesting to listen to the way words are being used. One person asked what it would be different about the words we use if conservatives were here. The demons identified so far, besides Republicans and Bush, are corporations and capitalism. Major issues pushed have included gay marriage and withdrawal from Iraq.
We in the Black community push for prosperity and seek the access and opportunity for more Blacks to have their own businesses (recall how in our book we report that there were more Black owned businesses and land owners before the Civil Rights movement than after and our efforts to achieve job compliance and business opportunities in Minneapolis despite the city's steadfast refusal to follow its own compliance statutes). And those of us active in the 60s and 70s recognize the empirical fact that, around the world, capitalism has brought more people out of poverty than any other system, including for Blacks in America (leaving the great task before us still to bring it to our inner cities). Needless to say we need to work on the justice and fairness angles (especially in education, jobs and housing), to improve capitalism so it serves everyone. We need to work to level the playing field, not get rid of the field.
YK posting 6-8-06, 7:10 p.m.
6-8-06, YK #5. Solutions and their building blocks. When Mar kos Moulitsas Zuniga, the "Kos" of Yearly Kos spoke tonight, he talked about the breakdowns of the two parties, We have outlined in our book the problems with the parties, especially the Democratic Party and how it has impeded equal access and equal opportunity in the inner city of Minneapolis and how this "way" seems to have been exported as an example to other cities. So this is not new. What is new is the idea that it is new.
The emphasis of YearlyKos is to elect Democrats, as if that will sprinkle pixie dust of magic on society. A Black DailyKos contributor, using the name niteskolar , suggests that "an honest analysis and series of solutions" is needed. We have done so in our book, weekly column, "Tracking the Gaps" blog, and in our real solutions for ending social problems offered in our solutions section. The theme here at Yearly Kos seems to be that the solution is to return Democrats to power. As Democrats have been the biggest problem politically in the inner city, we have stressed not party elections but people elections, as electing Democrats has not made matters better, as they maintain their "plantation" view of the inner city.
A major point in our book is that our problems stem from the overwhelming power and control of the cities by the Democrats and their unwillingness to use it for Blacks other than to keep us in our place (even with Black mayors, e.g. Newark, New Orleans, etc.) to seek change in the inner city (we hhope that the new Mayor in Newark will make a difference). Hence our call on occasion to "let our people go." Black Mayors in these cities may have changed the color of the person at the head of the party in control, but not the color of emphasis in American cities: white. Lousy education, hiring discrimination and poor housing still persist.
So although we appreciate the similar theme of Kos' book, Crashing the Gate, that the Democratic Party needs to change, we are concerned that a call for change without substantive solutions = status quo keeping, and that the notion that any Kos confirmed candidate is the best, is just another form of partisanship that DailyKos seems to despise when done by Republicans. This is why we offer substantive solutions in our book and on our web site. An obvious area of not doing well that we address but this convention ignores is just that: how Democrats don't serve people of color in the inner cities. Our reward for describing the same thing about Black organizations was to be expelled by the national NAACP for telling the truth.
We hope to engage those from inner cities to explore bringing the best that we have to offer through the blogosphere to encourage adopting solutions that apply that can help to solve the inner city problems of those still left behind, especially in the areas of education, jobs, and housing (which we address in our book, Chapers 7, 8 and 9). In the 60s and 70s, the issues were civil rights, with liberals and conservatives linked together. Do we not need to again find that common ground in order to work together to achieve the dream, rather than make it the province of one party or the other?
Posted for 6-8-06
6-8-06,YK #6. The 21st century stands on the shoulders of the 20th century, not the reverse. Before there was the 21st century, there was the 20th and all the others before that. The "people powered movement" celebrated by YearlyKos, said Mar kos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of the major grassroots blog on the web, The Daily Kos, in his keynote tonight, is a "people powered movement that is four years old." In reality it is a movement now in its 3rd century, not its fourth year.
We have already noted that this is a mostly white affair. One Black blogger who attended the "African-American Caucus" this morning, says on her blog, Emily's Blog, that she is "deeply concerned and angry about the casual indifference by mainstream America towards poor people in this country, especially people of color." We see this in the notion that the "people powered movement that is four years old" offers very little for the inner city and poor people of color.
In reality, America's first phase of the people powered movement was begun in the 18th century . In this 18 th century phase it led to llberty and freedom from England and the elite rule that was the norm in the ancien regime of England and Europe and led to the election of elite males by people with a checks and balance Constitution followed by a people powered Bill of Rights. Women and Blacks had to wait for inclusion and suffrage. But it was a start.
The second great phase of the people power movement was the abolition movement of the 19th century that led to the people powered "change documents" of Abraham Lincoln
--the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves
--the Gettysburg Address that extended equality to everyone
--and the second Inaugural address seeking " with malice toward none; and charity for all, ... let us strive on to finish the work we are in."
Black men joined white men, but were then denied by the Democrats and their jim crow movement in the South.
The third great phase of the people powered movement that those of us in our 60s remember vividly and participated in was the civil rights movement of the 20th century , the quintessential "people powered movement" (and we recognize women at last getting the vote in 1920, with Blacks still waiting until 1964 and 1968).
All of these were done not from the comfort and anonymity of one's keyboard but in public and under duress (war of independence, civil war, and the beatings, jailing, and murders of the civil rights movement, to finally bring about for Blacks the freedoms denied them after the first two phases, in 1964, only to return to a new form of jim crow with LBJ's Kerner Commission Report in 1968, that influenced Democratic policies in the cities: to make Blacks wards of the state as Blacks had a different immigrant experience and are thus different. Until progressives address this they are not progressives at all. Until that is acknowledged and then repudiated, there will be little people power in the inner cities.
From the stand point of the Black American, we are in an extension of our "people powered movement" trying to reverse the 1968 Kerner Commission report under President Johnson
As Emily stated in her blog tonight about her making her way this morning to the African American causus, "I found myself stepping over so many twenty-, thirty-, and forty- something year-old white men sprawled all over the floor with their laptops powered up that I began to imagine they were duckpins in a bowling lane after a strike has been bowled." We hope that with Emily and others, we can use our blogs to spotlight the indifference and in doing so help end it. But people power is more than white men on lap tops. Let us not forget the past lest the current movement leave us out as well, again.
Posted for 6-8-06.
6-8-06, YK #7. How can the DLC be dead? In his keynote tonight, Mar kos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of the major grassroots blog on the web, The Daily Kos , said that the DLC (Democratic Leadership Council) was dead. That is the group of Bill Clinton (which may coincide with the fact that to Kos, Hillary is not acceptable). Markos declared both parties failures (the Republicans fail to govern and the Democrats fail to win elections), and that future officials will be only those backed by liberal bloggers. And as proof, the emminent defeat of Joe Lieberman that they are working for was celebrated. Putting down Bill Clinton and Joe Lieberman are examples of dividing, not uniting. Shouldn't we be showing them the light rather than trying to put out our lights?
Posted for 6-8-06
6-9-06, YK#8: Energize America panel. The panel made their presentations with a series of very informative slides on the "Energize America Plan: Achieving Energy Security by 2020."
It was refreshing to hear a panelist state that corporations and lobbyists are not evil, but, by design, are selfish, and that it is up to everyone to work on the "Energize America" plan so that corporations and lobbyists can see that it is in their best interests as well, that they can make money enabling energy independence through renewables of various kinds and various kinds of tax and incentive programs. And slide #47 shows why this is a "small d" democratic solution that can be supported by all with a concern about our energy needs for maintaining continual growth without the negatives of pollution and green house gasses.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who was former Clinton Secretary of Energy, talked about his hope for the Western Governor's Association meeting on June 12th would adopt his major policy proposals of on clean energy, energy efficiency and climate change. His leadership was clear. And it is clear why he is a leading Presidential contender, as he is also a leader of leaders, in that other governors joined him on his resolutions, including California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. In his later press statement of June 12, he covers two key concerns with: "Developing clean domestic energy resources will mean more jobs and better security for Americans. These policies ensure that New Mexico and the West are set to benefit from this new clean and renewable energy market." The two resolutions can be read here and here.
In the Q&A period we also learned of The Appollo Alliance, whose motto is "Three Million New jobs. Freedom from Foreign Oil."
Both groups have the same goal and both interact with each other so there is plenty to choose from for those wanting to get active in the energy area. The "three legged stool" has room for everyone's efforts: on the usage leg (patterns of use, life styles, conservation), the efficiency of technology (which enables now what was difficult in the 70s), and supply (to which each source contributes a part, and when added up, achieve energy independence by 2020).
Posted for 6-9 on 6-13-06
6-9-06. YK #9: Senator Barbara Boxer's lunch speech was everything those wanting a partisan pep rally could want, as she opened up with her assertion that "the White House is dangerously incompetent," and "writing blank checks and turning a blind eye." She received a sanding ovation and lots of cheering and clapping when she said, "I voted no on going to war," and wants the troops "home by the end of the year." For 2006 she says "change congress" as "Republicans run everything but right and well." She identified her issues as "minimum wage, health care, and bringing the troops home."
When asked about impeachment she said "we don't control the house" so "it is a premature conversation, but does support Senator Feingold's call for a censure. When asked about Rule 21, shutting down the Senate, she called it "a dramatic thing, a good thing" and that "we will use it again but we will be wise about it." She asked how we could fight for freedom abroad but yet be "lousy at it at home". What are we fighting for?" She expected the group to be "double in size next year" and that what has occurred at YearlyKos is the "awakening of a sleeping giant."
For 6-9-06, posted 6-13-06
6-9-06, YK#10: IAVA.org . Panel of Iraq veterans. The Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America gave an extraordinary presentation in the afternoon. Here were returning soldiers fighting for funding for VA for post war care for their "band of brothers" in need, as they fought for a $3 billion plus shortfall. They were very much a seek common ground group trying to rally everyone, regardless of party or position on the war in Iraq. 10% of the returning soldiers are women, of whom 33% suffer from PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And they were advocating for the 500 vets that are homeless. War is war. It has a health and mental toll, and yet the VA is short funds to handle everyone it needs to take care of. IAVA stands up for veterans as all of the vet organizations do. Proud of their service and their service bsranches, they are hoping for a honest assessment, an accurate one of the war. so taht the national will can be garnered to make tough decisions and follow through on them. As they put it, there is no good solution, as it will bebad if we leave and it will be bad if we stay. They felt strongly that we have a moral obligation to fix the problems we created.
In a telling statement, they said that when they met with Hill staffers re funding for the VA, they found none of the Democratic knew anyone in uniform but all of the Republican staffers did.
Posted for 6-9-06
6-9-06, YK #11: The War Tapes film. A National Guard company from New Hampshuire was given cameras to use for the year they were in Iraq. This film is the result. It woon "best International Documentry Competiton" at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The post film showing Q&A session was fascinating. There are obviously two main groups: those opposed to this war and those opposed to any war. Not heard from were any who were anti-anti-protestors.
Some of the questioners seemed to be less interested in the film as they were in asking questions to attempt to get those who made the movie, plus the two soldiers talking about it, to make not just anti-Iraq war statements, but anti-military and anti-soldier ones as well.
Posted for 6-9-06
6-9-06, YK #12: Top Democratic Pols and Presidential candidates on review . Five potential Democratic candidates for President came. Gov Mark Warner, Honorary Chairman of Forward Together (recently Governor of Virginia), who gave a luncheon address and held a fabulours late night party atop the Stratosphere, with its spectaulcar view; Bill Richardson , Governor of New Mexico (and former Secretary of Energy under Bill Clinton), who was on the energy panel, Tom Vilsack, the nation's senior Democratic Governor, of Iowa (and current Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council), who was on the education panel, Wes Clark retired Army General (and candidate in 2004), who was on the science panel and who also gave a party, and Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (and former Govenor of Vermont), who gave an early morning presentation. Also present was Harry Reid of Nevada, Senate minority leader, who gave the Saturday night key note (who was enthusiastically encouraged to shut down the Senate with Rule 21 as a strategy against the Republicans, which he said he would do, using it "wisely"), and Barbara Boxer, who gave a luncheon address.
On the Iraq war issue, there are two views, (1) those who, one hand, want to see us leaving Iraq in a year or less, and, (2) on the other hand, those who follow the DLC: "who believe the U.S. mission in Iraq must be sustained until it succeeds, who want to intensify American attempts to spread democracy in the greater Middle East; and who think that the Army needs to be expanded to fight a long war against Islamic extremism." The DLC book on the subject is With All Our Might: A Progressive Strategy for Defeating Jihadism and Defending Liberty.
These represent two doors, two paths. They are not inconsequential. Much hinges on which door we open, which path we take. Remember what happened after the Tet Offensive in Vietnam in 1968? We had many discussions. Some said "time to go." Others said, "that was their death rattle." John Kerry said withdraw and let them peaceably work it out, as any loss of life will be very small. The anti-war demonstrators accelerated their protests. The North Vietnamese, ready to end the war decided we would leave and left the negotiating table and waited. The war dragged on another 7 years. That means that many brothers' lives were sacrificed to the protestors, most of whom did not serve. After we left, two million South Vietnamese were slaughtered. Many thousands of boat people. Pol Pot felt safe to launch his movement killing two million Cambodians in the "killing fields." Dominoes actually falling (Granada, Lebanon, Iran). It was a judgement call. There were consequences. It is judgement call time again. What will be the consequences if we leave vs. stay? It is our view that the next two elections will turn on this question. Look at the difference when we stayed in Germany, Japan, and South Korea.
The current "laught at you" term, "Kos Kids", could be followed by another phrase of dismissal regarding votes in legislatlve bodies, the "Kos Caucus."
These are all great issues. But our concern centers on the inner city. We repeat our concern, as phrased on Emily's Blog , about the "casual indifference by mainstream America" to African American concerns. We did not hear of Martin Luther King's Dream nor of any effort to bring equal access and equal opportunity to the inner cities.
Each time period seems to delay our Civil Rights with faux civil rights groups (faux in the sense that none were slaves, all can "pass" if they wish), as new groups slip in ahead of our inner cities: first white women, then gays, then other ethnic groups, then GLBT, and now immigrants. We are still being asked to wait, to "stay in our place" and wait in the back of the Civil Rights bus. And as part of this our Black males are dropping out of school, disappearing into the criminal justice system, as whole communities dissolve. We have detailed all of this in our book . And we have a plan (read the book, especially the last two chapters, and then review our 7 KEY THEMES, 7 KEY PROBLEMS, and 7 KEY SOLUTIONS For Solving the Problems of America’s Inner Cities: In Order to Stop Deferring the Dream and to Actualize It.
Next, read and take action with The Blocks to Construct a [your city] Table for All to Sit at Together. And read our accompanying solution papers. We see these as the winning platforms for political races at the local, state and national levels regardless of which door a candidates prefers to stand in front of regarding the war, #1 or #2 above.
6-10-06, YK #13: The Education Panel. Many good things were said. But the bottom line seemed to be to let the system of education off the hook. All the problems were admitted, although little was said about our topic of interest: inner city schools, on which we write a lot in our book (especially Chapter 7). The importance of education was acknowledged. Paying teachers more money was a major piece and the blame was placed on communities, not the local and state systems of education, and on the Federal "No Child Left Behind" program.
"Blueberries" was the analogy used. If you are a grocer and the blueberries you receive are bad, you can refuse them. When schools get poor students they can't refuse them. This argument thus excuses social promotion, the high drop our rate and the continuing poor results in the inner cities. It is a compassionate argument and a well meaning one. Nonetheless, rather than be progressive, it accepts the status quo.
And this "blueberry" analogy leaves out the usually missed but so obvious to people of color in inner cities: the panel didn't address that the White folk have the grocer's blueberry option: they can refuse the school and move to the suburbs where the schools are much better. Poor parents cannot do this. So what happens? The public schools become the schools of last resort. Left isolated, they deteriorate. The gaps between Black student achievement and white student achievement is the true tale of the tape. And as long as it is all blamed on the victims, the status quo will reign.
And although one speaker holds the unions blameless, adults we have talked to in numerous states indicate the focus of all school problems usually start with the unions and the district and state boards of education on the same side, which has created the educational myth that without loads of money, kids can't/won't learn. And as they don't get loads of money, and the kids don't do well, they are off the hook. No acountability at all is expected.
This is why we appreciated Governor Tom Vilsack's comments regarding his experience in in Iowa and China. He was on the panel, and gave a very much needed perspective on the needs for education in America today if we are to transition into the high tech socities of tomorrow.
We, of course, believe our solution chapters (7, 16-18), would handle these concerns. Although not mentioned, our sense was that the elephant in the living room, the control over education by the education unions, was being ignored. We still believe our chapters best address the educational obstacles to Black advancement. So answer this: why, with all of the talk of the failures of the Democratic Party and calls for it to change, is there no parallel regarding the education unions and inner cities schools? Could it be because they often are big campaign contributors?
Posted 6-11-06, 2:20 a.m.
6-10-06, YK #14: "Freedom" and "Liberty" in the eyes of progressives and conservatives. This was a tour de force by George Lakoff, author of, Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think, Whose Freedom?: The Battle Over America's Most Important Idea, and Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The Essential Guide for Progressives, among other books.
From the language used at this convention, most consider themselves progressives and Democrats, defenders of freedom, and view Republicans and conservatives as demons trying to take away freedom in the US and around the world.
That is the view. Those are great sound bites, useful for getting cheers from the choir. But this divisive attitude continues to mire the inner cities in the smoke of left and right sound bites, achieving only the keeping of Blacks in their place.
Which is why it was not surprising to hear Lakoff ground this question of freedom on "Quantanamo" and "current foreign policy", that how could we have freedom with Quantanamo and the Iraq war? For Lakoff freedom is "visceral" and about being "able to do what you want to do, having free will to go in any direction we want". Our question is simply how is Quantanamo and the Iraq war preventing anyone in the room from that? In our book, The Minneapolis Story, we show in chapter after chapter and historic interlude after interlude, how Democratic and Republican policies have prevented freedom for the African American, long before the Republicans and the Iraq War. This is not on Lakoff's or anyone else's list of questions.
Those of us in the African American community have seen what the majority has been able to do to us minorities with their free will and freedom to do what they want, from the Middle Passage days to reconstruction days to KKK days to jim crow days to today's inner cities and the continuing attempts to deny us equal access and equal opportunity, that is, to deny us our freedoms to do as we want. Practices to "keep us in our place" do not add to our freedom. We discuss this all in our book especially in terms of how, in the inner cities, run by Democrats, access and opportunity in terms of what enables people to act with freedom in order to get a good education and jobs are blocked.
Lakoff has a psychological model that he says "finds its way into politics and policy", as he sees progressives upholding the dominant American political traditions while "radical conservatives" seek to overturn them.
This is because conservatives, he says, using his psychological model, are formed by a "strict father" figure who sets the families rules of behavior and enforces them, with questioning of authority not allowed, with teaching being through punishment and pain. Well, that describes the inner city programs of democrats we describe in our book.
Progressives, according to Lakoff, are formed by parents following the "nurturance model" (empathy, respect, and with questioning of authority allowed, teaching with openness, equality, honesty and openness). Lakoff warns that conservatives are a "dangerous elite" that threatens free will (how either party can interfere with free will, if it is a natural given, is not explained).
Robert Reich, Clinton's Labor Secretary says Lakoff outlines "what we must do to take back precious ground lost to the Right--the concept of "freedom," on which America's very foundation is built." That is the equivalent of saying Republicans are not patriots, a claim both sides inaccurately and, thus, foolishly use about the other. A key difference, says Lakoff, is in causation: "conservatives see individual initiation and responsibility" whereas liberals see societal "systemic causation".
Lakoff said that liberty is freedom from oppression, and that conservative programs oppress. By definition he calls conservatives "racist and sexist" (yet we have seen racism as historically being the province of both parties, with jim crow overseen by Democrats, with former KKK members still in Congress as Democrats). Institutional racism (education, employment, housing) still abounds in our the inner cities, as our book points out, primarily under the province of Democrats. We explain the causation of the gaps we discuss by which party is in charge.
Regardless of Lakoff's basing parenting on two models (strict Republicans, nurturant Democrats), we have seen the fulfillment of Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's prediction that the Great Society social programs would destroy Black communities and families. We would love to have some strict fathers in our inner cities right now.
That both parties have flaws and are often in needless conflict and can't undertand the other suggests conflicts can't be mediated or resolved. We, again, respectfully disagree. On our web site we list 18 models of conflict resolution (9 macro, 9 micro), developed by our publisher, that are empirical examples of resolving such conflicts). Lakoff has a different approach: reframing (renaming) current issues that he believes is the best way to get people to vote progressive, i.e., Democrat, rather than Republican. We offer actual models that, framed anyway you like: they work. If one's parents are the key (dominant dads creating Republicans, nurturant parents producing progressives), then "critical thinking" must be dismissed. One wonders, then, with so many kids raised by nurturant mothers without dominant conservative dads, how could Republicans possibly wind up with enough voters to win an election?
For the sake of good sound bites, Lakoff creates a false dichotomy, one that sounds good to the "choir" but not to those not in the choir. Blacks under de jure thumbs of Whites up to 1964, de facto in the inner cities since, can attest, to this. The false dichotomy Lakoff presents is that Democrats are "enlightenment" folks ("appeals to the mind and reason, to democracy, human and civil rights, progress, science, and the improvement of the human condition") where as Republicans appeal to unenlightenment ("emotion, fears, fundamentalist religious values of sacrifice, apocalypse, salvation, good versus evil, tradition, and the irreversible fall of man").
It is the latter that is the greatest wedge between between so-called left and right: the left as presented by Lakoff believes in the perfectibility of human kind whereas the right does not. Therefore, as outlined in our book, the key is to avoid this hard chasm and turn to the common ground we outline in our book that will lead to what Lakoff wants, a nurturant society, without abandoning the discipline needed when "strict" is required.
What we would recommend, in trying to deal with the issues of freedom and liberty, is to recognize, as we do in our book, what the January-February 1998 35th anniversary issue of Society urged for "looking, learning and living" (Horowitz): a "culture of liberty" (Berger), as we together attempt to answer "who are we?" and "how are we to live together?"
From an African American perspective we know too well how Americans hav answered this question, defining us as slaves to live apart in the 17th , 18th, and 19th centuries, as inferior under jjim crowafter the civil war to 1964, and as "different" and "unable" wards of the state since 1968. We ask White America to look in the mirror and ask "who are we?" and "how are we to live together?" and then look out the window to others (inner cities, Iraq, the world), and ask "who are we next to them?" and "how are we all to live together?" When will the Democrats support the Jacksonian democracy of social justice and economic fairness for inner cities as well?
The constitution made all landowning white men free with liberty. That was a start (it existed no where else in the world). Then white men without property were added. Then white women were added. Finally, in 1964 (under JFK), Blacks were added only to have that changed to "wards of the state" (under LBJ) in 1968. As long as cities fail to comply with their own rules re education, jobs and housing for minoritiee in our inner cities, even in the North, we are still not fully free, as the Plantation mentality remains. The old saying rings true today: "let my people go." And until we deal with the emergency of Black youth, especially males (put to work in the field in the old days, jailed today), the inner city is denied the prize of freedom.
It is important that we understand that freedom and liberty are values of America, and that both parties hold them dear. The difference is how far they extend them. FDR and JFK said they were for everyone in the world (which would include the Middle East). We agree. And we agree that this includes inner cities, and will continue to work toward that happy time when it is believed and acted on by both parties in temrs of the iinner cities.
For an excellent understanding of the original debates check out this on-line version of the Federalist Papers, in 85 sections. What makes it a special site and different from other Federalist sites, is that it has paragraph-level permalinking. The site also includes the Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights). The site was just put up by Edward O'Connor, who explains his project here.
6-10-06, YK #15: Panel: New Politics ... historic opportunity. Although the real descriptor, "veterans for office" was barely used, they could be the ironic savior of Democrats. Three candidates for Democratic offices were veterans. All have very serious questions about the way the war is run (even the history of our own Civil War and our efforts in World War II show a long series of battle plans that went awry, as battle plans always do). These veterans as candidates showed solidarity in wanting the congress to appropriate more money to enable the Veterans Administration to do its job for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in need of VA medical services.
What separated them from the audience was their pride in service (two were graduates of the Naval Academy) and support of the military. They were not anti-war but were anti-the way the war was/is run. When elected they will pull the party back towards the center, as they are anything but pacifists. The great irony is that the moderator of the panel was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's daughter.
6-10-06, YK #16: pro-military Democratic Party candidates who are veterans . Given all of the anti-war, anti-military comments, it was surprizing to learn that 70 veterans are running in 2006 whereas only 4 ran last time. It will be interesting to see, if elected, if they'll be in lockstep with the rest of the agenda celebrated here. We think not.
Posted 6-11-06, 2:30 p.m.
6-11-06, YK #17: Sunday Interfaith Service. Nearly 100 showed up for the 8 am service. The faith traditions represented were Christian, Jewish, Atheist/Humanist, Buddhist, Pagan, and Unitarian-Universalist. Interestingly enough, two majors were not represented nor were explanations given for their absence: Hindu and Islam (although the opening saying was from an Islamic poet, a Sufi, Rumi: "Come, come, whoever you are. Wonderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair." This attitude of "it doesn't matter" doesn't fit for the inner city. There, everything still matters, especially all of the gaps.
The presiding clergyman was "Pastor Dan," Daniel Schultz (a Christian minster with the United Church of Christ) who some say came up with the idea of YearlyKos. Intriquing is the progressive "Faith and Politics" blog he founded with Markos Moulitsas, owner of the Daily Kos site. Those on the site "lean Democratic." They announced the first ever Progressive Faith Blog Con that will be held in New York City June 14-16. Although the dismissal song for the service was "We Shall Overcome," the context was not anything like the kind of overcoming seeking the "prize" of freedom of the Civil Rights movement, but rather the overcoming of Republican majorities in Congress.
Posted 6-17-06, 10 a.m.
6-11-06, YK #18: the final lunch: a great time had by all. This was as close to a "love-in" as one could get. This was a very meaningful, empowering sensation of a convention for the attendees. For some it was the most meaningful weekend of their lives, a transformative moment, with many speakers pledging to devote themselves to helping get Democrats elected in the coming elections.
The concern we have is that although most see themselves as journalists in the new media, the blogophere still hasn't seemed to figure out how to separate reporting from opinion, news reporting from editorial commentary, and from what some would say is afflicts bloggers at both ends ofthe polticial spectrum: fanaticism, dogmatism, and ideological rigidity.
There have also been gatherings of conservative bloggers. Maybe blogging as new media will finally come of age when bloggers along the political spectrum can gather together to talk about how to be better journalists (reporters) and better editorialists (opinion commentary), especially on topics of common concern, such as finally gathering to solve the problems of the inner cities, which would help us in our efforts to achieve the goals of the civil rights movement for everyone.
It was interesting that after a convention long, full press anti-conservative and anti-administration partisanship, Pastor Dan broke through this mantra with "Screw partisan politics. Start with charity. Let's make a difference." We agree. Freedom and liberty will not be for all until we can approach them as we should, from a bi-partisan manner, and subsume our partisanship to a conversation on how to achieve them, recognizing that to ultimately succeed we have to use building blocks from both sides.
Posted 6-17-06, 10:00 a.m.
6-11-06, YK #19: "Good Storm," Capitalism Done Right. At the final lunch, Yobie Benjamin presented his plan for enabling those involved in community activities and programs the movement with a way to fund their activities. Yobie was a prisoner in the Philipines due to his protests for democracy. He launched this site with his partners. As he told us, and as stated on the Good Storm web site.
Launched in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Yobie Benjamin and investor and philanthropist Andy Rappaport, GoodStorm is an economic change agent that is empowering socially progressive organizations to generate higher income from e-commerce sales and use the increased profit to support their causes through profitable, sustainable online stores.
The company develops and provides free tools, technologies and social-networking functionality for sellers--ranging from nonprofit, political and educational organizations, to corporations and individuals--to create online stores marketing print-on-demand apparel and co-branded merchandise through GoodStorm.com.
At GoodStorm.com, progressive organizations and individuals can launch online stores selling digitally printed T-shirts and other products featuring their own designs. GoodStorm handles inventory management, shipping, logistics, and billing, so sellers have more time to create designs and build and nurture communities of people who share their values.
We were glad to see this. And we signed up and will use Good Storm and are thankful for it, and will use it as another way to sell our book and CD. We encourage others to do so as well. You can read more about Good Storm on the Technorati web site.
Currently Good Storm offers two classes of products: GoodStorm WWW and GoodStorm Enterprise.
For GoodStorm WWW, go to www.goodstorm.com to shop products, or create and sell your own. This product is available to everyone, including all of our non-profit and progressive partnerships.
GoodStorm Enterprise adds considerably more. If a standard store leaves you wanting more, GoodStorm can create a custom store that looks just like your website. Check out goodsforchange.com, or the momsrising store to see what they mean. GoodStorm can mimic your look and feel, and if there's functionality you don't see, just ask. If you're interested in finding out more about this great option, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What better progressive approach than to raise funds for good causes to cause good things? Good Storm helps to dispel some of the misguided condemnations of capitalism and corporations heard at YearlyKos. This is an opportunity to change some silliness. One of our own state's favorite sons, Walter Mondale, in his 1984 Presidential debate with Ronald Reagan, said that as many immigrants as wanted should be allowed in from Mexico as it is our (USA) fault that Mexico is poor.
In "A Tale of Two Oil Patches," we learn that Mexico is poor because its resources are owned and run by the state andrivate capital is not allowed. Note that in Alberta, Canada, it too owns its oil reserves. But it allows private capital to invest. And private investors have invested to the tune of $80 billion. Alberta's annual per-capita gross domestic product is just under $55,000, whereas Mexico's is $6,000.
Anti-capitalism progressives (isn't that an oxymoron?) should consider Hernando de Soto, the Peruvian economist, who shows in his book The Mystery of Capital, that the problem of poverty around the world is a lack of ownership by the people. In other words, it is not capitalism that is at fault but that the rulers won't allow their people to have access to capitalism, won't let them own.
Thus, the central question is whether wealth is to be created (held by individuals as well as by institutions) or distributed by the state. The poverty of our inner cities and too many countries show the disaster when wealth is not allowed to be created, and instead the "all knowing" rulers keep their people in their place by distributing the states's "wealth" to them.
6-12-06: YK #20: Thoughts on the closing themes of a "people powered movement" to "take back the Democratic Party" and thus to "take back the country."
The mantra remained constant: media failure, political elite failure, Democratic Party failure (can't get elected) and Republican Party failure (can't govern), with progress and elections only coming through what and who is supported by the blogosphere and, on the Democratic side, the "Kossacks" of the The Daiiy Kos. I'm overcome with deja vu of the 1970s.
It has been said that one of the benefits of age (middle 60's) is living through an earlier period the young write about so knowingly even though they were not there. Let's consider four points.
First , the Democratic Party still contains everyone in its big tent. And the country is in its 3rd century of evolving (see YK#6 of 6-8-06 above). It is not lost nor does it need to be taken back from someone(s) or some what(s).
Second , from the standpoint of the inner cities over the past 40 plus years, regardless of party, so what? For inner cities, and the war of young black men, the keeping of Blacks in their place (New Orleans, Newark, Minneapolis, etc.), we see no difference. There is no new day, no new way. Blogs are doing nothing for the inner city. So-called progressives are completely ignoring the inner cities.
Thirdly , many of us worked on the kind of things we work on now re energy independence back in the 1970s. The option was there "to choose self-sufficiency and self-reliance--and therefore true independence." But that would have cost " collective sacrifice" and resulted in "lowered expectations."
In 1977, emocrats had the presidency, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the big city mayors, and many state governors. And what was the response? Democrats blinked. It was a colossal failure of nerve and lack of belief in the country. So, the Democrats pulled "a Hoover" (when Hoover road with FDR to FDR's inaugural, he said to FDR, "there is nothing that can be done").
Much of the same negatives about the economy and the country then as now have been repeated at our convention. In a word, the U.S. was at sunset, no longer able to be a power.
Democrats blinked and decided to stick with oil. So, instead of energy independence, we got more energy dependence. This was cemented in President Jimmy Carter's State of the Union address of January 1980, when he enunciated what is known as "The Carter Doctrine": "An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force" (emphasis added).
Fourth: in terms of inner cities and our concerns there, what is being promoted, really, progessivism or regressivism? Jimmy Carter's July 15, 1979 speech, provided "the speech" in which he had the U.S. looking forward through the rear view mirror.
In the words of the Winter 2005 Wilson Quarterly article by Andrew J. Bacevich, The Real World War IV, the choice was there to change course, "to choose self-sufficiency and self-reliance--and therefore true independence. But the independence was to come at the cost of collective sacrifice and lowered expectations. " Is this not the progressivism we seek?
But the Democrats could not figure it out and instead punted, and gave us The Carter Doctrine as noted above in Carter's January 1980 State of the Union Address, with these key words that call for repetition about how we will reply to any attempt by others to control the Gulf region's oil: "will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."
That held for nearly 23 years until 9/11.
Finally, we must not forget that Bill Clinton stated that Saddam had WMDs and that if we didn't go in and take them from him, he would use them on us (not to mention the U.N. in all of its resolutions).
One could create an entirely different meta narrative: that W is following 4 democratic presidents:
Wilson: that we are chosen to show the way to the nations of the world how they shall walk in the paths of liberty (May 25, 1912); a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free (April 2, 1917); The state exists for the sake of society, not society for the sake of the state (1911); The world must be made safe for democracy (April 2, 1917).
FDR: the "four freedoms" for everyone in this country and for everyone "everywhere in the world".
JFK: My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man. ... human rights ... to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
Jimmy Carter: (repel ... middle east .... including military force"),
The fact that minorities had virtually no place in this conventionwas not surprising (none of the panels attended featured an African American except for the African American caucus). The fact that the potential for obtaining Senate and House majorities in 2006 due to proud military candidates was the biggest irony amid so much anti-military. anti-war, and anti-Iraq war talk. Thus the hypocrisy was double, regarding Blacks (stay in our party, vote for us, but expect little); and the war (come home but stump for proud veterans as the way to get majorities on the hill to vote against the war). Much was learned and great possibilities were observed. Many left nergized, uplifted, and focussed on winning elections.
Posted 6-13-06, 5:44 a.m.
6-17-06, YK #21: no follow-up mention of The Minnealis Story book and CD by those African American bloggers given the materials at the YearlyKos has been seen so far. The only explanation is that it is because, sadly, they were handed out by my publisher who is white (and who attended, as noted, as I was unable to). We are grateful in our publisher's belief in the project and steadfast support of the book, CD, and website.
As noted in YR#2, we read this statement about Black blogging but can't find the URL. We hope if he or she who wrote it rads this they let us know so we can ive them credit.
Posted 6-17-06. Update 6-20-06: still no mention.
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.
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