Beaver County Blue

Progressive Democrats of America – PA 12th CD Chapter

Opinion: Indefinite Solitary Violates Human Rights

Viewpoints: Indefinite solitary confinement violates human rights

By Angela Y. Davis
Special to The Bee
Published: Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 9A

California prisoners are now in their 33rd day of a hunger strike; what they are risking their health and possibly their lives for is basic: an end to indefinite solitary confinement, a practice that most countries recognize as a violation of basic human rights.

Yet both Gov. Jerry Brown and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Jeffrey Beard are intransigent in their refusal to engage in honest negotiations with the prisoners.

Theirs is a system deep in crisis, mired in decades of lawsuits challenging numerous violations of the legal rights of prisoners that have yielded relatively little in terms of fundamental change. Headlines from the last month alone reveal the inability of current leadership to respect the most basic rights of California prisoners:

On Aug. 2, in spite of assertions by Brown that prison conditions have improved, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to delay a court order for California to release nearly 10,000 prisoners by year’s end to improve conditions in state prisons.

The three-judge panel overseeing the state’s prisons ruled that California must cut its prison population to deal with unconstitutional prison conditions such as substandard medical and mental health care caused by overcrowding. The CDCR is appealing this decision yet again.

On July 29, medical experts filed a report to a federal court monitor documenting substandard health care at Corcoran State Prison that represented “an ongoing serious risk of harm to patients” that results in preventable deaths. There was no comment from the Governor’s Office.

On July 7, the Center for Investigative Reporting broke a story about the fact that 148 women in state prisons received tubal ligations without required state approvals from 2006 to 2010. Former prisoners say doctors pressured women into being sterilized and targeted those whom prison officials deemed likely to commit crimes in the future. Brown offered no comment.

On July 1, California corrections officials reluctantly agreed to move up to 2,600 prisoners at risk of contracting valley fever out of Pleasant Valley and Avenal state prisons after being ordered to do so by U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson.

The judge was critical of the department’s handling of valley fever outbreaks within its prisons, saying the death of 36 prisoners over the last six years “clearly demonstrated (the state’s) unwillingness to respond adequately to the health care needs of California’s inmate population.”

Again, no comment from the governor or the CDCR.

Instead of closing the prisons because of high health risks, Asian prisoners are being transferred to those prisons because of statistically lower “risks.”

Those with the power to make changes have dug in their heels, insisting that there is no crisis.

It comes as no surprise that we are asked to believe that the CDCR does not really hold prisoners in solitary confinement because they may have access to radios or televisions. We shouldn’t be surprised that the death of Billy Sell, a participant in the hunger strike for two weeks until the day before he died, is officially considered a death “unrelated to the hunger strike.”

We shouldn’t be shocked when Beard attempts to cover up the inhumanity of keeping prisoners in solitary for decades with no hope of release by calling the hunger strike “a gang power play.”

It’s important to remember that the United States stands alone in its extensive use of indefinite long-term solitary confinement; in Britain, solitary is banned for more than three weeks. In Pelican Bay, more than 500 people have been held in solitary for more than 10 years, and more than 78 have been held in solitary for more than 20 years.

There is a growing human rights movement across the country, led by prisoners and their families, that names this practice for what it is: torture. Some states like Illinois and Mississippi have closed or drastically downsized their solitary confinement units without any threat to institutional safety.

The California prisoners’ hunger strike is a courageous call for the California prison system to come out of the shadows and join a world in which the rights and dignity of every person is respected.

Angela Y. Davis is professor emeritus of history of consciousness and feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Angela Y. Davis

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/08/12/5642307/indefinite-solitary-confinement.html#storylink=cpy

by Randy Shannon

June 28, 2013

We now have an opportunity to shift the balance of forces in PA against the financial and political power of the drillers. The anti-fracking movement must think and act strategically. We have one year until political leverage will peak around the 2014 election.

We will not win over a majority of Pennsylvanians to a ban or moratorium on fracking, even if a majority are persuaded that its bad for our health. Most folks still look at this from a personal interest perspective.

Every person in PA drinks water. The great majority believe that their water is ok and that if it were not ok they would be notified. Every municipal water authority is required to test the water. This belief is why the drillers and their lapdogs can get away with blaming the victims of water contamination.

Now that the DEP has failed to require that our drinking water be tested for salt content a huge question can be raised: “Can our water be trusted if it isn’t tested?”

Then the question can be raised: “Why not test our water for salt content?”

We know from recent scientific studies that salts in “produced water” from fracking operations are dangerous, even potentially fatal, to humans. Radium, strontium and other elements occur naturally as salts. They dissolve in water and become “dissolved solids.” In western PA produced water is very high in water soluble radioactive salts.

These dissolved solids cannot be removed from the water without the huge expense of reverse osmosis or distillation; neither method is feasible for municipal drinking water supplies. Therefore they travel directly to the end users. Children are most at risk from these “dissolved solids” or salts.

The unwillingness of the DEP to test for salts is due to the control of the drillers on the PA government and the DEP. If water were tested for salt content, a direct link to salt content and drilling activity would be established. Wherever the salt content exceeds safe levels, drilling activity would have to be curtailed.

The anti-fracking movement is large enough that, with the right issue and the right framing, it could mobilize a critical mass of the citizenry to force the political and regulatory institutions to respond.

I strongly believe that a well planned and financed campaign supported by a united anti-fracking movment could force the DEP to establish testing protocols and actionable levels of specific salts in drinking water and surface water. This campaign would raise awareness of the links between the drillers and the DEP among a much larger swath of the population. It would enable us to set up grass roots committees to monitor the local testing and enforcement of drinking water salt standards.

It would result in serious curtailing of drilling activities and set the stage for winning more restrictions on the environmental and human health impacts.

There are many forces and institutions already looking after drinking water that would be a natural base around which local groups could build out. The issue is deep and broad; it affects us each and all.

by Randy Shannon
March 31, 2013

I’m thinking of all the babies and children who are getting that extra love and attention that comes with a long holiday weekend and the joys of Easter. Let’s take this time to also look after their future health and safety.

We are raising our kids on top of the Marcellus shale. It is the most radioactive shale in North America. It contains uranium, radium, and radon. That’s where the radon found in some of our basements comes from. Those elements cause cancer.

Fracking brings radium and radon gas to the surface where we and the other animals live. The radium is dissolved in the water as radium chloride just like table salt. When the drillers bring it up, it leaks into the water table; it is spilled at drill pads; it leaks from holding ponds; it is dumped in the creeks and rivers; it is injected into disposal wells. Once the salt is in the water you can’t get it out except by boiling the water into steam.

According to the US Geological Survey, the drinking water limit for radium is 5 units of radiation. The shale water they’re bringing up contains up to 5, 490 units of radiation. Water in western Pennsylvania is now slowly, but soon more rapidly being contaminated with radioactive salts.

We must think first of our children, the young ones whose cells are rapidly dividing and most susceptible to developing cancer. Provide them water from a safe source away from Marcellus Shale.

You may not oppose fracking because of the yet unfulfilled promise of jobs. But think about how many jobs would be created if we covered all the rooftops in the county with solar panels and installed geothermal heating and cooling in all the large buildings. These jobs would be long term and our community would be sustainable instead of threatened with long lasting poisons.

There’s a better way for us to prosper and provide a future for our children, but we have to take things into hand.

Why Jobs Must Be Our Goal Now

By Robert Reich
blog
January 3, 2013

http://robertreich.org/post/39656182596

The news today from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
is that the U.S. job market is treading water. The
number of new jobs created in December (155,000),
and percent unemployment (7.8), were the same as
the revised numbers for November.

Also, about the same number of people are looking
for work (12.2 million), with additional millions too
discouraged even to look.

Put simply, we’re a very long way from the job
growth we need to get out of the gravitational pull of
the Great Recession. That would be at least 300,000
new jobs per month.

All of which means job growth and wage growth
should be the central focus of economic policy, not
deficit reduction.

Yet all we’re hearing from Washington — and all
we’re likely to hear as Republicans and Democrats
negotiate over raising the debt ceiling — is how to
cut the deficit.

The typical American worker’s paycheck will drop
this week because his or her Social Security tax will
rise, from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent. That’s
nonsensical.

We need to put more money into the pockets of
average workers, not less. The first $25,000 of
income should be exempt from Social Security taxes
altogether, and we should make up the difference by
eliminating the ceiling on income subject to Social
Security taxes.
__________

Robert B. Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public
Policy at the University of California at Berkeley,
was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton
administration

How the Left Can Become a True Political Force to be Reckoned With

By Bill Fletcher & Carl Davidson
Progressive America Rising via Alternet.org

Nov 13, 2012 – The 2012 elections may prove to have been a watershed in several different respects.  Despite the efforts by the political Right to suppress the Democratic electorate, something very strange happened: voters, angered by the attacks on their rights, turned out in even greater force in favor of Democratic candidates. The deeper phenomenon is that the changing demographics of the USA also became more evident—45% of Obama voters were people of color, and young voters turned out in large numbers in key counties.

Unfortunately for the political Left, these events unfolded with the Left having limited visibility and a limited impact—except indirectly through certain mass organizations—on the outcome.

The setting

On one level it is easy to understand why many Republicans found it difficult to believe that Mitt Romney did not win the election.  First, the US remains in the grip of an economic crisis with an official unemployment rate of 7.9%.  In some communities, the unemployment is closer to 20%.  While the Obama administration had taken certain steps to address the economic crisis, the steps have been insufficient in light of the global nature of the crisis.  The steps were also limited by the political orientation of the Obama administration, i.e., corporate liberal, and the general support by many in the administration for neo-liberal economics.

The second factor that made the election a ‘nail biter’ was the amount of money poured into this contest.  Approximately $6 billion was spent in the entire election.  In the Presidential race it was more than $2 billion raised and spent, but this does not include independent expenditures.  In either case, this was the first post-Citizen United Presidential campaign, meaning that money was flowing into this election like a flood after a dam bursts.  Republican so-called Super Political Action Committees (Super PACs) went all out to defeat President Obama.

Third, the Republicans engaged in a process of what came to be known as “voter suppression” activity.  Particularly in the aftermath of the 2010 midterm elections, the Republicans created a false crisis of alleged voter fraud as a justification for various draconian steps aimed at allegedly cleansing the election process of illegitimate voters.  Despite the fact that the Republicans could not substantiate their claims that voter fraud was a problem on any scale, let alone a significant problem, they were able to build up a clamor for restrictive changes in the process, thereby permitting the introduction of various laws to make it more difficult for voters to cast their ballots.  This included photographic voter identification, more difficult processes for voter registration, and the shortening of early voting.  Though many of these steps were overturned through the intervention of courts, they were aimed at causing a chilling impact on the voters, specifically, the Democratic electorate.[1]

So, what happened?

Prior to the election, we argued that what was at stake in the 2012 elections was actually the changing demographics of the USA (along with a referendum on the role of government in the economy).  What transpired in the elections was very much about demographics.

The percentage of white voters dropped from 74% to 72% between 2008 and 2012.  Romney received 59% of the white vote.

Yet something else happened and it took many people by surprise.  Despite the intimidation caused by the voter suppression statutes—and the threatened actions by right-wing groups—African Americans, Latinos and Asians turned out in significant numbers, voting overwhelmingly for the Democrats.[2] 93% of African Americans went with Obama, as did 71% of Latinos (which represented an increase over 2008) and, despite the fact that Asians are only 2-3% of the electorate, they went 73% in favor of Obama (which was a jump from 62% in 2008).  The youth vote, by the way, increased to 19% of the electorate, over 18% in 2008, and went overwhelmingly for Obama.  Labor union members went for Obama at a rate of 65%, and unions themselves played a major role in many key states in terms of voter mobilization.  By the strategic mobilization of these voters in a well-organized ‘ground game,’ Obama won 332 Electoral College votes compared with Romney’s 206.  Obama’s popular vote total was also 2.6% head of Romney.

The Romney/Ryan camp was entirely unprepared for this.  While it is the case that the popular vote total was not overwhelming for Obama, there was nothing particularly unusual in US history for such a result.  The bottom line is that Obama clearly won both the Electoral College vote and the popular vote and, as such, can claim a mandate for his next steps.

It is important that one understands that the African American/Latino/Asian turnout, along with the long-lines waiting to vote (including in the days of early voting) represented an audacious defiance of the forces that sought to suppress the vote.  This audaciousness also represented a response to the increasingly racist attacks on Obama, attacks that were taken very personally by people of color generally and African Americans in particular.[3]

What was equally interesting about the November 6th elections were those in the House of Representatives and the Senate.  Contrary to many expectations, the Democrats not only held onto the Senate, but slightly increased their margin of control.  Within that expansion was the election of Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts to the seat once occupied by the late Teddy Kennedy.  Warren, who gained a strong reputation in the fight to control Wall Street, promised actions on behalf of working people.  Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, a socialist in Vermont, also decisively won reelection.

In the House of Representatives, Democrats increased their totals, but Republicans still dominate.  This is mainly the result of the gerrymandering carried out by Republican state legislators during redistricting.  The legacy of this gerrymandering may last at least a decade, part of the fallout which resulted from lower voter turnout combined with the Republican mobilization in the 2010 midterm elections.

Of particular note in the elections was the increased presence of women, especially progressive women, being elected to office, including the first openly gay Senator (from Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin).  The state of New Hampshire now has women in all of the top governing positions.

Additionally several progressive ballot initiatives passed in various states, including on same-sex marriage and the decriminalization of marijuana.  An interesting initiative in the state of Michigan to alter the state constitution in order to protect the right of workers to collective bargaining was defeated after a major and concerted attack by pro-employer groups.

What to make of the elections?

We return to our earlier conclusion, i.e., that what was at stake in 2012 was not Obama’s record but instead 2012 was a referendum over demographics and the role of government with the far right.  Some on the Left found this assertion worthy of ridicule rather than introspection, and dismissed it, claiming that of course Obama’s record was central to the debate.

The results of the election conform much more to our conclusions.  The vote for Obama, particularly by people of color, could not possibly have been the result of the conclusion that Obama’s record made him the great leader.  Certainly his record was better than the interpretation projected by Romney/Ryan, but it was also the case that Obama’s record was complicated if not problematic.  After all, we had witnessed an economic stimulus that, while significant by historical standards, was insufficient to the task; a healthcare reform package that, while bringing healthcare to millions, was based on a corporate model first elaborated by Mitt Romney when he was Governor of Massachusetts; a failure to close Guantanamo; the continuation and escalation of the Afghanistan/Pakistan war, including the usage of drone strikes; and the failure to adopt a clear policy to address systemic racial injustice in the USA.  While there were a number of reforms that were introduced that were of significance, this was all far less than most of Obama’s supporters had hoped would be introduced.

So, what then could one say motivated the vote? We return to demographics and the role of government.  Obama’s very existence represents the problematic future for the political Right; it’s not that he’s an individual whose birthplace is alleged by them to not be in the USA.  This insane propaganda from the Birther movement is designed to distort the point entirely.  The Birthers[4] and their off-spring hate Obama not because of where he was born but because he was born here.  His very existence illustrates the changing demographics of the USA and its move away from being a ‘white republic’ governed by a broad ‘white’ front. Instead, we are moving more towards something else, toward a more openly multi-ethnic/multi-racial society, if not politically then at least numerically.

The election thus represented a repudiation of the right-wing irrationalists seeking to turn the clock back, and not just on race, but gender and class as well.  In this sense it was not so much about what Obama had accomplished as it was about what sort of society 61 million people did not want.  That retrograde society, which was rejected, was a neo-apartheid order of domination that condemned at least 47% of the population (according to Romney’s calculations) to marginalization, and condemned at least 90% of society to continued economic distress and submission.

Romney was proposing to reduce the role of government even further, at least when it came to supporting something approaching a social safety net.  61 million people recognized the barbarism contained in his message and program, and responded accordingly.

In sum, the November 6th elections were not a referendum challenging Obama’s course from the Left, but rather rejecting a challenge from the Right, since there was no viable Left alternative.  At the same time there was an additional interesting feature of the elections as identified in various opinion polls: Democratic voters, while not as starry-eyed as many were in 2008, are looking for Obama to fight for them, or at least fight on their behalf.  Frustration with Obama’s premature compromising in the name of so-called bi-partisanship wins the President few accolades within his base.  The electorate is looking for something very different.

The Left in the elections: Building mass organizations vs. the mouths that screeched

Contrary to those who suggest that no Left exists in the USA, it is better to understand that there are two and a half Lefts in the USA.  There is the organized Left, which takes the forms of very small political organizations, some of them calling themselves political parties, which are anti-capitalist and generally for some sort of socialism.  There is also what Chilean Marxist Marta Harnecker would describe as the “social movement Left,” which are forces involved in left-leaning mass organizations and non-profits, more often than not single-issue or based within a specific sector.  There is finally what we could term the ‘half’ Left, that is, the ‘Lone Rangers,’ the rather large number of independent individuals who self-identify as leftists but are unaffiliated with any left-wing project, with the possible exception a job with social impact, such as writers or teachers or health care workers.  In each case these individuals and formations are anti-capitalist and seek a social transformation of the USA, but with varying degrees of organization, insurgency and effectiveness.

The US Left has historically had a difficult time addressing electoral politics.  There are several reasons–the complications that arise from the undemocratic nature of the US electoral system; the size of the USA; the lack of attention to strategy; and most important, ambivalence when it comes to race.  As a result the Left frequently sways back and forth between what could, perhaps, be described as apocalyptism on the one hand (i.e., waving the red flag so that the masses see us before the whole system collapses and, therefore, they know where to go), to reformist/incrementalism, on the other (i.e., believing that the best that can be done is to submerge into the Democratic Party and help move change until the system reaches a point where quantitative change morphs into qualitative change).

There is currently no significant and unified effort within the Left(s) toward building a self-conscious, broad radical Left project that has the objective of winning power.  The bulk of the US Left does not think politically.  Rather it engages in ideological or moral struggle and often thinks that ideology or morality is identical to politics.  Rather than conceptualizing a protracted struggle for power based on the need to build a majoritarian bloc, too many individuals and organizations on the Left remain trapped in a self-satisfying world of small sects and Facebook tirades rather than the hard work of building the alliances of grassroots groups necessary to win.

The limitations of the Left’s approach to the fight for power can be illustrated in any number of places, but, for the moment, let’s reflect upon the electoral realm.  Consider the following.  In 1920 Eugene V. Debs ran, for the fifth time, for the Presidency.  Though in jail at the time (as a result of political repression), he received nearly one million votes.  In the famous 1948 campaign of Progressive Party candidate Henry Wallace, the candidate received 1,157,328 votes and no Electoral College votes.  In the same election, Dixiecrat candidate Strom Thurmond received more popular votes and 39 electoral votes.

Now, in 2012, Green Party candidate Jill Stein received 402,125 votes.  This is going the wrong way.  But it reflects, more than anything, not the character of Stein or her supporters but the approach toward electoral politics taken by the Green Party and many of their followers.

Independent presidential candidacies in the modern era reflect what can be described as a flag-waving/protest mode rather than a struggle for power/bloc-building mode.  In other words, they aim to express both outrage and reasoned critique at the system and frustration with the toxicity of democratic capitalism.  They have no hope of gaining power either because they do not believe in struggling to gain power or because they believe that power is gained when the ship sinks and we, on the Left, are positioned in the proper lifeboats prepared to save the mass of distressed passengers.

This is only on the electoral side.  The various small organizations of the organized Left which do not engage in electoral politics in their own names seem relatively content being small and of little consequence.  In the absence of an effort at building a majoritarian bloc they can remain comfortable in their particular niche(s) and not feel the cold winds that often accompany entering into unexplored demographic or geographic territories. They remind us of the old Clifford Odet’s play, ‘Waiting for Lefty.’

At the same time, over the last 5-10 years there has developed a new interest in electoral engagement in the social movement Left.  Sprouting up in different parts of the USA have been progressive—rather than explicitly Left—political formations that have either engaged in what has come to be known as “civic engagement” work, i.e., voter registration, education, voting rights, electoral law reform, and/or actual electoral engagement.  The strength of this work is that its orientation can be described as left/progressive in that these are mass-based projects attempting to reach out to a broad array within our natural base.  Organizations ranging from Progressive Democrats of America to the Virginia New Majority and Florida New Majority fall into this camp, though the list is quite a bit longer than just these organizations.

In the lead up to the 2012 elections the Left was badly divided over how to respond.  One segment, which we will describe as the “mouths that screeched” were adamant that Obama had betrayed progressives; that he was not progressive; that he represented the empire; and therefore not only should not be supported but that it was ideological treason to suggest any level of support or even just to give him a vote without any implied support.

The vitriolic attacks coming from this sector masked the fact that this segment of the Left is actually becoming irrelevant.  They had no visible impact on the elections and their protests were largely ignored.  Unfortunately, one of the key things that this segment missed was the racial element of the 2012 elections and the need for voters of color, along with a good number of white allies, to push back at the ‘demographic’ attacks that were underway from the political Right.  By focusing on all that Obama did incorrectly, this segment of the Left ignored, as well, that the Left and progressives are on the strategic defensive in the USA and that they need alliances that will provide some level of space within which we can operate.

The segment of the Left that actually made a difference was those within the organized Left and the social movement Left who engaged their mass organizations and non-profits in electoral activity.[5] Whether it was voter registration; voter education efforts; electoral infrastructure work; or Get Out The Vote efforts, many of these organizations proved themselves to be very effective campaign organizations.  They appear to be in the process of laying the groundwork for the sorts of progressive alliance building that will be necessary to respond to the next electoral realignment that hits the USA.

What is missing entirely, however, is a coherent, self-identified Left, taking either the form of a united front, alliance, or political organization that can serve as a pole for independent, radical yet grounded Left politics.  The mass base for such an effort exists.  The opinion polls that demonstrate that roughly one third of the population are open to directions other than capitalism means that approximately 90 million people are seeking alternatives.  Consider that 90 million figure when you review the stats for the Green Party’s votes in 2012.  The Occupy Movement also evidenced a political fissure that is certain to widen as the class struggle intensifies, though admittedly Occupy did not result in the formation of one or several credible Left organizations (no criticism implied).

Moving forward

The challenge for the Left then becomes two fold.  One, there must be a self-identified, self-aware, mass radical Left formation that openly and unapologetically advocates against capitalism and for environmentally friendly socialism.  Whether such an organization is called a political party, alliance or some other name is secondary to what it must do and what it must avoid.  What it must avoid is the idea that it can or should compete in the electoral realm on the presidential level at this time. That is a no-win scenario.  What it can do, however, is to unite and train the existing leaders in mass movements and develop an anti-capitalist program and ultimately an anti-capitalist project.  We term this notion of a new, self-conscious and organized Left—inspired by the approach taken by and expression used by Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci—to be the “Modern Tecumseh.”[6] Second, the Left can also help to build a progressive front—perhaps a popular front against finance capital that unites disparate forces—that gains electoral expression in the form of an organization (rather than a third party) that runs candidates within the Democratic Party or, runs them independently if conditions exist (such as in Vermont where the candidacy and leadership of Senator Sanders needs to be supported).

As long as the progressive forces in the USA are on the defensive there will be tactical alliances that take place that are not satisfying but are nevertheless necessary.  These should not be treated as matters of principle but rather as expressions of necessity of the moment.  Further, we on the Left must pay much greater attention to what is transpiring among the people themselves.  The fact that so many on the Left would have focused on Obama’s record and virtually ignored the intense racist offensive against Obama (and its broader implications) demonstrated that many of our friends are out of touch with reality.

Reality, however, is a good and necessary starting point if one ever wishes to build a majoritarian bloc and win power. We fully expect to see an intensification of class struggle in the near term. We need to assert a new culture of organizing capable of meeting the demands it will place on us, and now is the time to begin.

[1] The issue of voting rights remains critical since there are cases before the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge critical features of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, features that were part of the Department of Justice’s arsenal to overturn certain voter suppression legislation.

[2] It is important to note, however, that voter turnout was down in comparison to 2008 except for nine states.  As of this writing it is not clear as to the sources of the decline.

[3] Attacks such as Donald Trump’s insulting demand that President Obama turn over his college transcripts.  The suggestion of such an action is almost unbelievable.  Nothing along those lines would have been tolerated when it came to former President George W. Bush, an individual who was not half the student that was Obama in college.

[4] The right-wing, irrationalist political movement that asserts that Obama was not born in the USA and is, therefore, not the legitimate president of the USA.

[5] To be clear, not all forces in the organized Left or the social movement Left engaged in left/progressive electoral organizing.  We are simply noting that there were forces from within these sectors that did, in fact, choose to engage.

[6] Tecumseh: Shawnee leader in the first decade of the 19th century.  Recognized that Native Americans would never defeat the USA by fighting as individual tribes or fighting through the creation of a confederation.  He was the advocate for a Native American nation-state, i.e., uniting the tribes and fusing their efforts.  He was killed in 1813 at the Battle of the Thames in Canada.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a racial justice, labor and international writer and activist.  He is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, an editorial board member of BlackCommentator.com, the co-author of Solidarity Divided, and the author of the forthcoming “They’re Bankrupting Us” – And Twenty other myths about unions.  He can be reached at billfletcherjr@gmail.com

Carl Davidson is a political organizer, writer and public speaker. He is currently co-chair of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, a board member of the US Solidarity Economy Network, and a member of Steelworker Associates in Western Pennsylvania. His most recent book is New Paths to Socialism: Essays on the Mondragon Cooperatives, Workplace Democracy and the Politics of Transition.’ He can be reached at carld717@gmail.com.

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