Friday, October 31, 2008

Punishing Protest

Tom Burghardt examines the laws and customs of state and federal law enforcement under new Homeland Security powers that allow (and encourage) them to criminalize dissent.

As the ACLU observes, all it takes to get oneself into a federal terrorist database is to become an anti-war or pro-democracy activist, particularly if one participates in peaceful protest. The irony of being labeled a terrorist by federal agencies for demanding that the federal government itself follow the rule of law might be a bit much to get one's mind around, were it not for the preemptive roundup of law-abiding citizens at both national political party conventions this summer for the "crime" of opposing a war that everyone on earth now knows is a crime against humanity.

For those who think this is a trivial development, you might want to talk to the Quakers and other peace activists who were targeted, investigated and harassed under these new police powers. You might also want to ask their fellow travelers what it's like to be denied the right to travel on airlines or get employment or obtain bank loans because one's name is on this list.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Seeking Work

I write a regular column for Fourth World Eye, an e-zine published by the Center for World Indigenous Studies (the premier indigenous think tank in the world). I also have a dozen personal blogs where I write on a daily basis.

The following links probably provide all you need to see if I would be a good fit as a writer or guest speaker for your organization.

Issues: democracy, human rights, world indigenous movement
Video clips:

--Jay Taber

Palin's People

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Applying Moral Sanction

With the question of how to effectively oppose the rise of fascism in the United States now in vogue, I thought it apropos to revisit this essay from 2002, The Power of Moral Sanction.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Electing Sarah

Slaying democracy: an annointment for bigotry. Watch the video.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Honoring Milk

The keynote speaker at my graduate school commencement ceremony was Tom Ammiano, San Francisco Supervisor and gay rights advocate. Tom plays himself in the upcoming film drama on the life of the legendary gay rights pioneer, Harvey Milk. One look at the humanitarian achievements of Ammiano as a public official is enough to make one realize Milk's efforts were not in vain.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Secession Campaigns

The recent San Francisco Chronicle article on a new state for the Oregon California border region reminded me of what happened in Puget Sound fifteen years ago.

Secession campaigns -- forming new counties or states -- have, since the Reagan era, been used as organizing drives to obtain lists of names and funds for right-wing agendas. Sometimes the spear-carriers, those who believe the hoax and get excited enough to threaten opponents, are looking for a windfall economic opportunity. But the only ones who usually profit from these bogus campaigns are the social movement entrepreneurs and their industry backers. What you'll often see in their aftermath is a rightward or criminal shift in public policy rules and regulations as a result of the consolidation or seizure of political power.

Wise Use field agents in the 1990s in Washington state used county secession campaigns as a wedge against Growth Management. Much of their scapegoating focused on environmentalists and Native Americans. With GOP and resource industry backing, this escalated into militia organizing and ultimately the incarceration of eight individuals on explosives charges.

Monday, October 06, 2008

New Model for Change

With American society in free fall, some activists are now reviewing the effectiveness of political organizing models they've used in the past. We suggest they include in their discussions two of our reports on the topic. Research as Organizing Tool, which includes highlights of The Public Health Model, should give them plenty to chew on.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Learning Political Literacy

The Far Right invests in organizing for power, while the left invests in pious posturing for profit. If the progressive philanthropic sector were to invest in research and organizing like the conservatives do, our country would be a wholly different place. But then that would require a willingness to confront the anti-democratic movement in America, something we rarely see from progressives.

Applying research for power is not lobbying or diplomacy, it is finding out what the enemies of democracy are up to, and organizing to undermine them. Knowledge is not power, it is a tool to use in acquiring it.

Young people need to be recruited, socialized, and nurtured into participating effectively in the pro-democracy movement. Understandably turned off by the fraud of party politics, where does that leave them to go in order to learn political literacy? Who will be their mentors?

Conservatives over the last thirty years have built an infrastructure for this purpose from the local to the national, providing strategic instruction, employment, and leadership training. Where's the progressive counterpart to that?

Young conservatives go into media, government, and think tanks with paychecks and a future. Young progressives go into the street or just give up.