April 28, 2014

The creatively maladjusted

Guest: Evan Jenkins, activist and member of the Anti-Oppression Forum, an anarchist collective in New York's Hudson Valley, talks about the fight for an egalitarian and democratic society managed cooperatively by and for all of its participants.

Evan talked about his own awakening to political struggle. "Did you get a hold of a book by Chomsky?" I asked.

He had, and has not stopped reading political writers. We discussed alternative versions of reality, one the exceptionalism that comes with the acceptance of the American Empire. The other, the insistence on human rights and human dignity for all people. As Chomsky teaches us, the media "manufactures" consent for the former by only employing writers and intellectuals who have successfully internalized the contradictions of empire. In Martin Luther King's words, "Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."

April 25, 2014

Bringing their message back

Guest: Adam Roufberg, human rights activist and former radio host at WVKR, talks to us from the West Bank where he just completed the Freedom Bus Ride in support of Jenin's Freedom Theatre. (prerecorded)

It was great talking to Adam, who used to be a DJ right here on WVKR in Poughkeepsie, NY. 

He was his old self, full of confidence and good humor. We talked about his recent trip on the Freedom Bus, which made stops all over the occupied West Bank to do nightly performances of Jenin Freedom Theatre improvisations. Adam had witnessed the oppression of the Palestinian people during the day, and then seen it depicted in a theatrical performance every night. The combination of human rights and the arts is an important part of Adam's masters degree in peace studies he is completing in Switzerland. His Freedom Bus experiences will make up part of the research for his thesis.

I was particularly interested in how Adam got there through the checkpoints. He indicated that several people scheduled to take the ride didn't make it and were deported by Israel. That is always a consideration when doing human rights work in Palestine. 

He also described the rubber bullets that are supposedly shot over the heads of Palestinian protesters. The day before, a Palestinian medic had been hit twice. Adam noticed that some Israeli Defense Force snipers were firing from behind their jeeps, no doubt targeting some of the demonstrators. The ride was not without some dangers.

We also discussed people to people exchanges, something I have always seen as attempts to whitewash the occupation. But Adam thought such exchanges were beneficial, when predicated on a common understanding that the occupation is illegal and that Israel's treatment of Palestinians is a violation of internationally established principals of human rights. 

We ended by talking about the role of Jews in ending the occupation. Many Freedom Bus riders were young American Jews, who plan to bring their message back to the United States. 

April 14, 2014

The conversion of private colleges into corporations

GUEST: Alex Deane, student at Vassar College, talks about her organization, the Vassar Student/Labor Dialogue, and why an adjunct teachers’ union is needed in area colleges to raise poverty level wages.

Adjunct salaries are part of the conversion of private colleges into corporations. The adjuncts are the sweatshop workers that bring in huge corporate profits. Massive student loans are the fraud going on at the other end. Students are told that college results in better full time jobs, and they load up on debt because their parents can't pay college expenses. Once graduated, students can't find jobs and default on their loans, which are then backed up by the federal government.

In the midst of this drive for profit, the administrators pay themselves handsomely. The President of Marist made over 3 million in salary and bonuses last year. The whole enterprise is called a college, but is really run for the benefit of the very few at the top. Welcome to the Twenty First Century's Gilded Age.

Of course, there is fightback. The adjuncts at Marist College are forming a union, and there is broad community support as well. That is where Alex and the Student Labor Dialogue comes in. Students all over the country are coming to understand the corporatization of higher education, as well as their part in it. Each student in a class taught by a Marist adjunct pays $75 to the teacher. Full time tuition is over $15,000, meaning that each three credit class costs $1,500. Sort of like Nike in that the sweatshop worker somewhere making each sneaker earns one percent of what the company eventually charges customers.

Lead the way, Alex and the Student/Labor Dialogue.

April 5, 2014

Vote Green, but take to the streets!

GUEST: Carl Lundgren, Chair of the Bronx County Green Party and Green Party candidate for NY State Senate District 34 (Bronx-Westchester), talks about the dysfunctional two party system and why we need a better way. 

Carl expressed it perfectly. Why do a vast majority of the people believe in the same policies and values espoused by the Green Party, and yet continue to vote for Democrats?

As Obama has so well illustrated, there is no honesty in either party. He still talks like he is Martin Luther King, but has waged incessant war with his drone strikes, indefinite detention, NSA spying, and excessive secrecy. His "hope" was a public relations pitch based on nothing. Obama sold his soul a long time ago in Chicago when he was Mayor Daily's candidate, chosen to defeat black progressives in the city council. Ties to real estate developers, the nuclear power industry and Wall Street have determined what he really works hard for. Nixon was a wild-eyed leftist compared to our current charlatan in chief.

So is the system fixable at the ballot box? The Supreme Court decisions allowing hundreds of millions to be pumped into each election cycle are the final nails in the coffin of our democracy. By all means, vote Green as a protest against the system. But realize that the system lacks any legitimacy, and must be fundamentally changed.

Continued expansion of the US empire will bring nuclear war. Continued domination by Wall Street, big oil, and the military industrial complex will bring irreversible global warming. Are we facing Frost's fire and ice choice for the end of humankind? Only an enraged populace can save us from our insane leaders. Vote Green, but take to the streets!