Prog Talk
left turn only... dispatches from the progressive underground

June 2010
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Memo to Marta,
Filed under: General, Politics, Futuring, Progressive, Left Turn Only, Democrats, Society
Posted by: riozen @ 2:45 pm

Memo to Marta,

Marta, after I posted on Facebook the following status update: ”Marta Evry posted this recently. Riddled with misstatements (Marcy Winograd never reached out to CDP delegates and Jane did?) and fantastical assertions (Jane Harman is a Progressive?) two facts remain crystal clear = Jane Harman and her husband Seymour are WAR Profiteers & Blue Dog Democrats like Harman and Loretta Sanchez are shills for Corporate Plutocrats… Your thoughts? VOTE WINOGRAD! Marta’s post > ” You commented: ”Brad, please point out where you believe I was factually incorrect. Not where you just have a difference if opinion, but demonstrable facts. Thank you.”

First, let me recognize your personal integrity in having the courage to comment on my posts, knowing that you and I are on opposite sides of this campaign. Now, as to the points that you made in the article and following it, here is my reply.

The second chapter in my book, Left Turn Only: Dispatches From The Progressive Underground, is entitled, “The Politics Of Capitulation.” In it, I analyze and rebut the DLC core arguments, which you have once again put up as a reason to discredit the Progressive Movement and Marcy Winograd by employing “Crony’s Triangulating Fog.” The Blue Dog reasoning posits that if a Democrat is a Liberal on a few Social issues, such as a woman’s reproductive civil rights, then they are as entitled as any other Democrat to proclaim themselves a Progressive. It goes further to state that gradual incrementalism, which Dr. King warned us against over 40 years ago, is in fact the best way to achieve results. Clinton/DLC/Blue Dog theorists, notably Bill Clinton, Elaine Kamarck, William Galston, Harold Ford Jr. and Al Frum, call this the “Third Way.” They have always believed that Pro-Crony Capitalism is the price we must pay as Democrats to win and stay in office. They label it “pragmatism.” Your argument in favor of Jane Harman goes right down that line including your mocking refutation of “you’d better be as pure as the Dalai Lama in a snowdrift” retort regarding your perceived hypocrisy by those on the Left with Big Ideas. That comes under the fantastical assertions I mentioned. We have heard this argument for over 20 years now and it is an artful but discredited dodge.

As you know, the core principle of the Progressive Movement is “PEACE.” Progressives call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq,
Afghanistan and the more than 700 bases in over 100 countries around the world, currently occupied by American Armed Forces as well as end to the Drug War. We demand an end to the doctrine of “Preemptive War.” “Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Peace is the center of our movement. It is the center of Winograd’s campaign. This is the opposite of everything Jane Harman has stood for, voted for and profited from her entire Congressional career. Harman has been Pro-War, Pro-Preemptive War, Pro-Torture, Pro-Wire Tapping, and Pro-Military Spending etc. We all know her record. For this alone she is not an acceptable politician to Progressives - anymore than any other Blue Dog or Republican. We are very serious on this point. It is not a minor detail. It is the central argument against Harman’s candidacy and for Winograd’s. It is a glaring misstatement of the facts for you to suggest that Progressives should overlook this paramount issue when they consider Jane Harman’s qualifications. I believe that the minor improvements in her stances in recent times, which you list, are mainly because of Winograd’s campaigns.

Again, as you know, our other core issues include Single Payer Healthcare. Harman’s support for the feeble watered-down so-called “Public Option” was a typical DLC/Blue Dog distraction aimed at keeping the Crony Casino careening along. I could go on but the point is this: Progressives demand Change, Big Ideas and Bold Action now. It is not a question of purity but of purpose. If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. You are not alone in calling for incremental change; Many Democrats are dancing to that siren song as well. Even Progressives are capable of being co-opted into playing along if it suits their career plans. Why? Because the rigged rules and by-laws of an Incumbents Only Party prescribe compromise if you want to advance up the ladder. Finest example - Obama is the Compromiser In Chief. But I digress. Claiming that Harman would move us forward on the Progressive agenda more than Winograd is another huge misstatement and fantastical assertion. In fact, Harman is only moving on it because of Winograd.

Furthermore, on the “fantastical assertions” argument you try to get us to believe that because Winograd has invested in the American infrastructure as well as Harman, including some disreputable corporations, that Winograd and Harman are wallowing in the same mud. (I am curious as to why you didn’t compare and contrast Harman’s holdings as you enumerated Winograd’s.) Would it then not follow that we all use gasoline and are as corrupt as BP? We all use electricity generated by Coal and Nuclear power plants and are as corrupt as Duke Energy? Yes, all Americans are complicit in the uneven distribution of goods, services and use of resources on this planet. However, to say that it is all so relative and Winograd is as Harman is in all things is ludicrous but typical of the Third Way politics of distraction.

You support Harman due to your passion for her principles I hope and not blind antipathy to Winograd. Remember this though; Seymour Harman is a War Profiteer. That is a fact. Jane Harman aided and abetted that profiteering by her votes on the Intelligence committees and on the floor of the House for over 20 years. I am sure that she is having a change of heart today because the chickens have come home to roost. Winograd is probably the best thing that has ever happened to Harman’s conscience. Such is life. I am among many who cannot support that Imperial America - Always at War that Jane Harman is still beating the drum for. I applaud Winograd for giving the voters of the 36th CD a Peace alternative.

I never questioned your “factual accuracy” Marta but since you brought it up - Your facts are correct from a DLC/Blue Dog point of view but not a Progressive POV. They are right out of the Bill Clinton, Rahm Emanuel - Barack Obama playbook. They are not a Progressive case for Jane Harman. They are clever but contemptuous of activism, protest, dissent and the duties of citizenship to stand up, show up and speak up when the government is oppressive and misguided as Marcy Winograd and her supporters are currently doing. So be it.

Maybe one day we can work together on Democratic Party organizing. That would be good. I look forward to it.


Brad Parker
June 2010

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Why Winograd Matters ~
Filed under: General, Politics, Futuring, Progressive, Left Turn Only, Democrats
Posted by: riozen @ 2:44 pm

Marcy Winograd is more relevant than most of us, today, right here, and right now. Through six years of campaigning to win a seat in the House of Representatives, she has revealed the true inner workings of the Democratic Party, both in California and nationally. Her epic struggle to unseat Representative Jane Harman, in the 36th Congressional District of California, has proven Winograd’s true grit and revealed the Party’s soulless Status Quo Establishment in inexorable decline.

Across the Golden State, this is the only race that has captured the imagination of Democrats of every stripe. Factions on all sides have ferociously fought to capture the flag and control of the once noble Democratic Party. Winograd has been hammered by parliamentary procedure and arcane by-laws at the California Democratic Party conventions and primary endorsement meetings. It was even proclaimed, by more than one Harman supporter at the recent CDP convention, that if Winograd prevented Harman from getting the CDP primary rubber-stamp, then all incumbents were in danger. Yes, that is true. In fact, Winograd’s mere presence in those proceedings spells the end of the old Imperator system of “Incumbents Only Rules” at the CDP - either that or the demise of the CDP as a meaningful voice of the Democratic Party membership in California. Everywhere she goes; Winograd is bringing introspection to a political process that has long been devoid of change, truth or competency.

The outcome of the Marcy Winograd versus Rep. Jane Harman race in the 36th Congressional District of the Golden State of California has been decided. Marcy Winograd is the winner. Yes, that is what I said - Winograd Wins! Even if Jane Harman takes the seat in Congress next January, which Winograd supporters are actively working to prevent, Winograd is still the winner. Just cast your mind back about six years ago to when Harman was riding high on the Blue Dog bandwagon of Perpetual War and Wall Street Gangsterism; then contrast that to the scene at the Progressive Caucus meeting of the CDP this past April. There, sat Ms. Harman desperately attempting to portray herself as, dare I say it, a Liberal.

As she gamely fumbled around denying that she was a Blue Dog and vainly pressing the point that she in fact is a Progressive but that the invitation to join the House Progressive Caucus must have blown off of her porch, all the chickens came home to roost. Without Marcy’s principled candidacy, across six years and two election cycles, Jane would still be absentee on the frontlines of Peace, Justice & Equality that the Progressive Movement has been championing these past six years. The Winograd run for Congress is already paying dividends to the American public in the Left Turn Only of the newly minted “Perhaps I Am A Liberal” Jane Harman. So, Winograd is the winner. Who then is the loser? The Status Quo California Democratic Party and National Democratic Party leadership appear to be the losers, with this in-your-face challenge to their crumbling contraption.

Sadly, there are other notable losers. The Progressive Caucus of the House of Representatives has been compromised at the highest levels. You would expect to see Dennis Kucinich, Alan Grayson, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters or other leading Progressives in the House supporting Winograd. But no, dear friends, none have lifted a hand or a dollar to support the Progressive challenger. To add insult to injury, House Progressive stalwarts Lynne Woolsey and John Conyers have openly endorsed Harman. Even the fact that Harman’s husband is a War Profiteer, with his many industrial interests in the War machine, could not persuade any Progressive in the House to break ranks and defy the hegemony of Incumbents Only that is rotting the body politic.

Marcy Winograd matters because she has shown the courage, vision and determination for change - real change that would transform the dying carcass of American Empire into a dynamic positive collaboration among We the People. Harman is irrelevant except to shine a light on the empty hollow vestige of a once Liberal Democratic Party.

Hats off to you Marcy Winograd. I have always been proud to stand up for you as you have always stood up, shown up and spoken up for all of us. May your light always shine. You are the best of us and that is a damn good thing!

B-rad Parker
May 2010

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Go Loco? or Go Local…
Filed under: General, Politics, Technology, Internet, Futuring, Progressive, Left Turn Only, Democrats, Society
Posted by: riozen @ 9:21 pm

California is a curious place - full of dreamers, boosters, garrulous grifters and raconteurs. Many are madly striving, in search of Wallace Stegner’s infamous “Big Rock Candy Mountain.” Many more are lost in the shuffle and grind, ebb and flow at the Western edge of the Western World. Among these earnest seekers and sinners are the various members of the Left Body Politic. They range from conservative Blue Dog corporate enablers to the end of the world Socialist, Communist and Anarchist monkey wrench gang. Somewhere, lost in the mix, are the Democratic Party regulars and pusillanimous Progressives. As the sun rises in the east, over the majestic Sierras, they find themselves in the same boat, drifting down the river of no return, in the midst of a thick San Francisco fog. Sideways is the new direction for this bundle of believers, these frustrated yet sunny souls. Status quo has wrapped its stony fingers around the electoral apparatus of each ardent constituency. We are in a stall, a dead calm sea. And the natives are restless, very restless. But before we muster up the courage for a new direction, let us take a deeper look at the state of the State.

The California Democratic Party, the Progressive Caucus of the CDP as well as Labor, Environmental and other factions within the broader California Left have divided along regional lines, North and South. This was the inevitable stepchild of success in the 2006 and 2008 electoral cycles plus the simmering disputes from the last decades, like Water policy. All of this internal strife, such as the Union’s ongoing Civil War, has degenerated into turf battles and been exacerbated by the disconnect from the National Democratic Party - DNC, the various National Progressive Movement Organizations with their East Coast orientations and our general malaise brought on by little progress on Big Ideas across the board. Let’s face it folks - we’re in a funk.

The past is very persuasive; it is comfortable in expectation and in outcome. Better to wrestle the demons we know than to venture out to meet new demons, putative leaders of the factions sing in tremulous chorus. That is the conventional wisdom, which is the refuge of the rear-view mirror crowd. But that tired cant is insufficient to buoy this coterie, to bring us out of these doldrums. The future, as frightening as it has become, like true democracy, beckons. And the future requires a new organizing principle - since the mechanisms of the past are stuck in the mud of ladder climbing and feather fluffing, while the cities crumble. I put forward to all concerned that the current Marshall McLuhan predicted globalization, stealthily achieved by the virus of the Internet infecting every form of communication, has wrought a new possibility; change the world without leaving home.

Now, take a deep breath and consider this; there is a simple and bold way to go further. Remember - the future must never concede to the past what it knows to be true; and that begins with the cure for what ails us - Action & Change! We must act in a manner that will realize tangible results not bogged down by endless procedure and committee examination or the overreaching control from larger aggregations. Ergo, we must discover the scope or range of manageable expectations and coalesce around them to create progress that is achievable. The most direct route to that outcome is to act locally. The pawns must wake up and realize that old street saying - We Got The Power! - right in our own back yards, right down to your very own purchasing power. Don’t let the man get you down has morphed into don’t let the struggle get you down; act in a brand new and curiously old-fashioned way - act for change in your neighborhood.

Here in Southern California, we have come to know each other through the last decade of organizing; that includes, elected officials, their staffs, Democratic Party leaders from every level, grassroots activists, clubs, chapters of national Progressive organizations, Labor leaders and members, writers, artists, environmentalists, entrepreneurs and a cross section of citizens from every demographic description. It is time to form a coalition, here in SoCal, among ourselves, to work on the local issues that most vex us and that we can directly influence and change - energy policy, conservation, water policy, transportation etc. Change begins here, with each other, in our daily lives that are inextricably connected. Let us come together, as John Lennon proclaimed, and demonstrate to the world what local action can achieve. Then we can hook up with like-minded individuals, groups and regions, through the Internet, and across the state, nation and planet to create a vibrant grid of citizens in action.

Although this essay blooms from the California scene its solution can be applied around the world. The globalization of the Internet gives us all access to tools locally that were unattainable heretofore. The Democratization of Information broadens each individual’s reach. We can now affect our local politics, development, economics and environmental interests in concert with our statewide, national and global interests. And more importantly, the process can and should begin at home - locally first.

So, embrace your frustration, and do something about it. Imagine a new local, sustainable, renewable and humane life. Then, join with your neighborhood and create it. Don’t go Loco - go Local!

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