Monday, April 30, 2012

Maureen Dowd: Bishops Play Church Queens as Pawns

Bishops Play Church Queens as Pawns
By Maureen Dowd
NY Times Op-Ed: April 29, 2012
IT is an astonishing thing that historians will look back and puzzle over, that in the 21st century, American women were such hunted creatures.

Even as Republicans try to wrestle women into chastity belts, the Vatican is trying to muzzle American nuns.

Who thinks it’s cool to bully nuns? While continuing to heal and educate, the community of sisters is aging and dying out because few younger women are willing to make such sacrifices for a church determined to bring women to heel.

Yet the nuns must be yanked into line by the crepuscular, medieval men who run the Catholic Church.

“It’s not terribly unlike the days of yore when they singled out people in the rough days of the Inquisition,” said Kenneth Briggs, the author of “Double Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church’s Betrayal of American Nuns.”

How can the church hierarchy be more offended by the nuns’ impassioned advocacy for the poor than by priests’ sordid pedophilia?

How do you take spiritual direction from a church that seems to be losing its soul?

It has become a habit for the church to go after women. A Worcester, Mass., bishop successfully fought to get a commencement speech invitation taken away from Vicki Kennedy, widow of Teddy Kennedy, because of her positions on some social issues. And an Indiana woman named Emily Herx has filed a lawsuit saying she was fired from her job teaching in a Catholic school and denounced as a “grave, immoral sinner” by the parish pastor after she used fertility treatments to try to get pregnant with her husband.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York recently told The Wall Street Journal that only “a tiny minority” of priests were tainted by the sex abuse scandal. But it’s a global shame spiral. The church leadership never recoiled in horror from pedophilia, yet it recoils in horror from outspoken nuns.

In Philadelphia, Msgr. William Lynn, 61, is the first church supervisor to go on trial for child endangerment. He is fighting charges that he may have covered up for 20 priests accused of sexual abuse and left in the ministry, often transferred to unwitting parishes.

Somehow the Philadelphia church leaders decided that the Rev. Thomas Smith was not sexually motivated when he made boys strip and be whipped playing Christ in a Passion play. Somehow they decided an altar boy who said he was raped by two priests and his fifth-grade teacher was not the one in need of protection.

Instead of looking deep into its own heart and soul, the church is going after the women who are the heart and soul of parishes, schools and hospitals.

The stunned sisters are debating how to respond after the Vatican’s scorching reprimand to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the main association of American Catholic nuns. The bishops were obviously peeved that some nuns had the temerity to speak out in support of President Obama’s health care plan, including his compromise on contraception for religious hospitals.

The Vatican accused the nuns of pushing “radical feminist themes,” and said they were not vocal enough in parroting church policy against the ordination of women as priests and against abortion, contraception and homosexual relationships.

In a blatant “Shut up and sit down, sisters” moment, the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, noted, “Occasional public statements by the L.C.W.R. that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose.”

Pope Benedict, who became known as “God’s Rottweiler” when he was the cardinal conducting the office’s loyalty tests, assigned Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to crack down on the climate of “corporate dissent” among the poor nuns.

When the nuns push for social justice, they’re put into stocks. Yet Archbishop Sartain has led a campaign in Washington to reverse the state’s newly enacted law allowing same-sex marriage, and he’s a church hero.

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic lobbying group slapped in the Vatican report, said it scares the church hierarchy to have “educated women form thoughtful opinions and engage in dialogue.”

She told NPR that it was ironic that church leaders were mad at sisters over contraception when the nuns had committed to a celibate life with no families or babies. Given the damage done by the pedophilia scandals, she said, “the church’s obsession, at times, with the sexual relationships is a serious problem.”

Asked by The Journal if the church had a hard time convincing the flock to follow its strict teachings on sexuality, Cardinal Dolan laughed: “Do we ever!”

Church leaders behave like adolescent boys, blinded by sex. That’s the problem with inquisitors and censors: They become fascinated by what they deplore.

The pope needs what the rest of us got from nuns: a good rap across the knuckles.

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Some May Daytime events, May Day night at Slylight, and a fabulous all-star benefit concert on May 6th

Hi.  I send you this list as indication of how May Day has grasped the needs and imaginations of the era.
Others include marches and teach/sit-ins at colleges throughout the area; health, environmental, gender  
and other rosters.  Personally, I'll hang with Code Pink, as I really like what they do, politically, and their  
style.  I sent you that, as the Skylight agenda for the day.  The Perhing Square gathering at 4 pm  will be
the most  common ground.  -Ed
 From: Steve Brooks
Sent: Saturday, April 28, 2012 11:52 AM
Subject: [PDLA] May 1 general strike and other events

For info:, 323-250-MAY1, or


MAY 1 GENERAL STRIKE and other events:


6:00 AM SEIU-USWW strike action at LAX


7:00  Occ Pas rally at Lake Avenue overpass to the 210, followed by a march to the Lake and Colorado bank cluster.


8:00 AM Occupy SFV/OLA "North Wind" march from 7915 Van Nuys Bl., Van Nuys/Panorama City: Hermandad

         Mexicana to Van Nuys Civic Ctr. 9:30 Town Hall at Rep. Berman's office. 11:00 G.A. VN Civic Ctr


9:00 AM Rise Up LA youth march from Florence and Normandie to Central Ave., joins South Wind (below)


9:30 AM Let Them Eat Cupcakes meets in Beverly Gardens Park on Santa Monica and Rodeo


10:00 AM People's Power '4 Winds' Car/Bike Caravans and convergence:


South Wind from CSU Dominguez Hills, N. on Central Ave. to MLK, W. on MLK to Figueroa, N. on Figueroa to Washington.

         Park and march to Staples, convergence at 6th and Main

         Rallies at Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center, 11:00 AM Central & 108th

         Ted Watkins Park, Century-103rd & Central 11:30

         41st & Central: Honor survivors from Black Panther Party and memory of Somayah and Geronimo 12-12:30

         Take MLK to Figueroa & proceed north past Exposition Park, USC to Washington/Figueroa

         2:00 Park in vicinity of LA Trade Tech, march north on Fig to Staples, east on 11th to Main/convergence

         (SEIU LAX action and Rise Up LA youth march will converge with this wind)


West Wind from Ocean & Wilshire Santa Monica, e. on Wilshire (joined by Topanga Peace Alliance from Pine Circle)

         Rallies at Veterans Administration Federal & Wilshire by Vets for Peace start 10, join at 11:00,

        Flash occupation "Let them Eat Cupcakes" Rodeo Drive & Wilshire, BH, 11:00-noon, joins caravan

         B of A protest by Queer Affinity Group, Occ Fights Foreclosures Wilshire & LaBrea, starts 11:30, joins 12:30

         1:30-2:00 pm Park near MacArthur Park and march on 6th St. to downtown convergence at 6th & Main.

         Feeders join this wind from LACC, Skylight Books (Los Feliz area).


East Wind starts 10:00am- Carl's Junior, 1231 Avenida Cesar Chavez,  Monterey Park, CA Steven Rodriguez memorial

         10:50 March to Belvedere Park, leave on caravan at 11:30

         Education as a Human Right Rally at Obregon Park- Michigan Ave and Gifford St. at noon

         1:00pm Health care as a Human Right Rally at Mariachi Plaza 1831 E. 1st St Boyle Heights. Take Gold Line.

         2:00 meet up with OSFV, north wind at Plaza Olvera, march to convergence at 6th & Main.


10:30 Occ Pas meets at Orange Grove Friends Mtg House, carpools to the American Reclamation recycling facility.


11:00 AM noon, SEIU-USWW labor solidarity rally at LAX  civil disobedience planned (Tom Bradley, Century Bl)


11:00 AM, County Fed. Of Labor, Teamster action at American Recycling 4560 Doran Street, LA (near LA Zoo).

         "No Somos Basura"  OLA, OSFV, Occ Pasadena will send people here


11:30 Queer Affinity Group, Occupy Fights Foreclosures launch demo at B of A, Wilshire & LaBrea


12 noon Central Convergence sets up at 6th & Main downtown, welcome table and wellness tents, etc.


1:00 PM Official Start time for May 1 Coalition (Full Rights for Immigrants, CHIRLA, MIWON, etc.) immigration

         reform march from Olympic & Broadway

         2:00 PM marches north to Broadway and 1st St., rallies, then returns s. on Hill to Pershing Square, c. 4 PM


2:00 PM Central American contingent starts to gather in MacArthur Park, marches 3:30 to Pershing Square


2:30 OccLA Four Winds Peoples Power caravans converge at 6th & Main; financial district protest.


4:00 PM (or earlier) 99% Table begins rally in Pershing Square with music, speakers.


4:00 Southern CA Immigration Coalition Immigrant Rights March, Olympic & Broadway (OLA joins this)

         March up Broadway to Bway and 1st St. OLA will head to Pershing Square  (6 PM, via Broadway, 5th St).


6:00 PM possible "Justice for Janitors" SEIU-USWW strike. If so, OLA will help solidify picket lines.


7:30 PM Bilingual Spanish-English General Assembly @ Pershing Sq. to discuss international solidarity, "Next Steps"


* * *


Please read the bill before decision about going. $75 General Admission is a lot, but would not be
uncommon for a Jackson Browne solo or several of the many artists performing, let alone the cause.

Buy your tickets now!

Post-Fund Drive Ticket Special

Post Drive Special Pair of VIP Tickets - $300
Includes VIP reception, Gil Scott-Heron book, gift bag,
meet and greet and free parking (Regular price $200.00 each)

Single VIP Ticket $200

Single Preferred Ticket $100

General Admission Ticket $75

All ticket sales benefit the forwarding of the Hero Awards and Tribute
as an annual fundraiser for KPFK 90.7 FM

Making Moves for Heroes: KPFK Moves the 2nd Annual Hero Awards to Club Nokia!

Sunday, May 6th, 2012 at Club Nokia, 800 West Olympic Blvd, and 3rd floor at the fabulous L.A. Live.

North Hollywood - KPFK 90.7 announces its honorees for the 2nd Annual Hero Awards and Tribute. The Hero Awards is a benefit series for the Los Angeles-based Pacifica Radio station. The event honors icons of our time that have left an impact on music and community. This year’s honoree is musician and political poet Gil Scott-Heron, with special awards to jazz bassist and activist Charlie Haden, music educator Fernando Pullum; and a Lifetime Achievement Award to Pete Seeger, American folk singer and activist. The 2nd Annual KPFK Hero Awards and Tribute will take place Sunday, May 6th, 2012 at Club Nokia, 800 West Olympic Blvd, and 3rd floor at the fabulous L.A. Live.

The event starts with a VIP reception and silent auction from 5 to 7 pm. The show starts at 8 pm with a line-up that will feature a host of prolific and poetic artists. The confirmed list of performers and guest speakers include Jackson Browne, John Densmore (The Doors), Lili Haydn, Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, Nailah Porter, , Rock DJ Jim Ladd, Josh Haden with Spain, John Trudell, The Haden Triplets and Jack Black with a special youth performance by the 32nd Street Jazz Band. Richard Montoya of Culture Clash, LeRoy Downs and Roger Guenveur Smith are our hosts for the evening. Brian Jackson, long-time collaborator with Gil Scott-Heron, will be on deck as Music Director. Other invited guests include Ozomatli, Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Slash, John Fogerty, Woody Harrelson, Ravi Coltrane and Flying Lotus.

The KPFK Hero Awards and Tribute launched May 1, 2011, honoring Jazz legend Billy Higgins. The idea for the series was the result of an inspiration from KPFK Music Director Maggie LePique. She wanted to honor music icons that had an outstanding commitment to music. LePique thought it would be relevant for KPFK 90.7 to mark the upcoming 10th anniversary of Higgins’ death by celebrating his life and body of work. She enlisted Kasey Lovelace, Music Consultant and friend of the Higgins family to develop the idea into a full-scale event. Catalina Popescu, owner of Catalina Bar and Grill, honored her long friendship with LePique and Higgins by donating her world-renowned venue for the tribute by Higgins’ esteemed contemporaries Stanley Clarke, Charles Lloyd, George Duke, Kenny Burrell, with Music Director John Beasley, among others who performed to a “standing room only” audience. The demand from both the music and public affairs community has prompted the station to continue this event as an annual award series.

KPFK 90.7 FM is a member station of the Pacifica Radio network and the Pacifica Foundation, which consists of five radio stations, over 100 affiliate stations, and the Pacifica Radio Archives, responsible for preserving the voices of artists, activists and progressive journalists since 1949, when the foundation was established by peace activist Lewis Hill. To further peace through broadcasting activities, Hill determined that radio sponsored by individual listeners would be the best way to ensure editorial freedom. The KPFK Hero Awards and Tribute is a means to both raise funds and advance the Pacifica Mission.

For updates on the 2nd Annual Hero Awards and Tribute log onto

Follow us on Twitter: @KPFKHero

For general information contact

KPFK 90.7 Radio at (818) 985-2711 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (818) 985-2711 end_of_the_skype_highlighting ext. 361

"Like" us on Facebook

Last Holiday Grovepress


May Day at Skylight Books

May 1, 2012; 7:30 PM

With Labor Troubadour Ross Altman

May Day is the international worker’s holiday, dating back to 1886 and the Haymarket Square strike in Chicago. This May Day, May 1, 2012 Skylight Books welcomes LA labor troubadour Ross Altman to lead a program of sing along labor songs, with a little history behind the songs, for those who want to carry on the tradition of Joe Hill, the IWW and Woody Guthrie—now in his Centennial year.

Ross will tell the story of how May Day came to be and teach some of the classic labor songs going back to coal miner struggles in Harlan County, Kentucky and West Virginia, auto workers in Flint, Michigan, mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts that gave rise to the Bread and Roses strike of 1912, now in its Centennial, and the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union.

The anthem of American labor, Solidarity Forever, by Wobbly Ralph Chaplin, went on to inspire Lech Walesa in the Gdansk Shipyard Workers’ strike of 1989, who took Solidarity as their union’s name.

The Internationale, associated exclusively with the USSR, got its start in the Paris Commune and was sung on the green in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912, five years before the Soviet Union was founded. It was translated into English by the IWW and was an American labor song long before it made its way to the USSR.

Celebrate May Day with Occupy LA and friends for a rousing evening of song and story that brought the American labor movement to a world audience. Joe Hill, “the man who never died” still inspires working people today and his songs are still fun to sing, 97 years after he was framed for murder and executed by the state of Utah.

Come out to Skylight Books and Ross Altman will have you singing these picket line classics in no time at all.

Ross is a member of Local 47 of the Professional Musicians’ Union—AFL-CIO and writes for FolkWorks ( He recently performed in the Grammy Museum tribute to the legendary Ash Grove folk music club.

Skylight Books

1818 N. Vermont Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90027

7:30 PM

(323) 660-1175

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Glenn Greenwald: UCLA Professor warned about Israel views, Paul Krugman - why he avoids topic of Israel

From: Jeff Cohen []
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 9:06 AM
Subject: Paul Krugman - why he avoids topic of Israel

April 24, 2012, 2:54 pm

The Crisis of Zionism

Paul Krugman (Blog)

Something I’ve been meaning to do — and still don’t have the time to do properly — is say something about Peter Beinart’s brave book The Crisis of Zionism.

The truth is that like many liberal American Jews — and most American Jews are still liberal — I basically avoid thinking about where Israel is going. It seems obvious from here that the narrow-minded policies of the current government are basically a gradual, long-run form of national suicide — and that’s bad for Jews everywhere, not to mention the world. But I have other battles to fight, and to say anything to that effect is to bring yourself under intense attack from organized groups that try to make any criticism of Israeli policies tantamount to anti-Semitism.

But it’s only right to say something on behalf of Beinart, who has predictably run into that buzzsaw. As I said, a brave man, and he deserves better.


* * *
UCLA Professor warned about Israel views
What kind of person goes to college and demands to be shielded from political views they dislike?
By Glenn Greenwald Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012
An Associate Professor at UCLA has been formally admonished for the crime of including a link on his course website to a political statement about Israel that some students dislike, as reported by <
The Daily Bruin:
David Shorter, an associate professor of world arts and cultures, was the subject of a late March complaint from an organization of University of California faculty that fights anti-Semitic sentiments on college campuses.
The organization, AMCHA Initiative, decried that Shorter had linked his course website to a campaign calling for a boycott of Israel.
The chair of the Academic Senate responded to the complaint by saying that Shorter was counseled to not use the link again. But Shorter said he has not agreed to do so, and was only approached informally about the issue.
During winter quarter, Shorter taught a class titled "Tribal Worldviews."
The class focused on "native people's worldviews as they are expressed through language, mythology, ritual, health practices, languages and ecology," according to the syllabus.
As part of the class materials, Shorter posted a link to a site advocating for a cultural and academic boycott of Israel. Currently, he is also listed on the site as one of the endorsers of the boycott.
His status as an endorser, as well as a complaint from a student who dropped the course, led AMCHA to file a complaint with the university's Academic Senate and other UC officials on March 29.
Tammi Benjamin, co-founder of AMCHA and a lecturer in Hebrew and Jewish studies at UC Santa Cruz, said she does not see a way that the link could be used for pedagogical reasons and believes Shorter's use of the link is promoting activism that harms Israel. . . .
Shorter said he recognizes why the link could be seen as problematic, but added that the subject fit within the context of his course because Palestinians are recognized as a native people by the United Nations.
Shorter also said he discusses the issue in context during his lectures on the subject and that he points out areas where he disagrees with the boycott and discusses his evolving stance on the matter.
In an email to AMCHA, Andrew Leuchter, chair of the UCLA Academic Senate, wrote that it was "not appropriate" for a UCLA faculty member to post a link as a course resource to a political petition of which he is a signatory.
Shorter was also warned that his affiliation with the boycott could be perceived as political advocacy.
Shorter said the link to the boycott was intended as a resource for a research paper on Gaza, and was to be understood through the lens of indigenous studies.
The essay on Gaza was not a required assignment, Shorter said. It was one of four possible topics for a class research paper. Only about five out of 90 students chose to tackle the issue, he said.
AMCHA, however, saw the link as a means of political indoctrination, Benjamin said.
"We felt he was pushing and promoting (the boycott) in his class," Benjamin said. "(Students) have to go to it as a requirement for the course. . He's promoting his own political agenda and our academic integrity told us this is wrong."
This is far from new. The widespread attempt in the U.S. to suppress and even sanction criticisms of Israel has long extended to academia. Neocons succeeded in blocking <
t-wing.html> a tenure offer for Michigan Professor Juan Cole from Yale based on their dislike of his political positions on Israel. Alan Dershowitz did the same thing <>, for the same reasons <>, to Israel critic Norman Finkelstein at DePaul University. Professors at Columbia, mostly Arab, have long been accused of anti-Semitism <> , and have even been the subject of formal complaints <> , for their views on Israel. The UCLA complaint goes a bit beyond those incidents because it seeks to penalize a Professor for nothing more than a link on his website and out-of-classroom advocacy.
But I want to leave to the side the obvious threats to academic freedom this poses. My real question is this: what kind of person goes to an academic institution and then demands to be shielded from political ideas that they find objectionable? Of all places, academia is supposed to permit and encourage the challenging of one's assumptions and beliefs. At least in theory, that's the prime value of studying at a university: learning how to think critically, which requires subjecting one's views to rigorous dispute.
The petulant entitlement needed to demand that nobody in that setting ever cite or mention objectionable political views is just staggering; it also reveals a severe lack of confidence in the validity of one's own views.
Whatever one thinks of it on the merits, the belief that Israel should be targeted with boycotts and divestment for its apartheid policies the way South Africa was is one that is embraced by many people <>  in many places <
rofessors>  around the world. It's hard to express how anti-intellectual
rofessors> and
oppressive it is to demand that such a view never even be discussed or aired
- of all places - on an academic campus, and to formally complain against a Professor who merely mentions it on a website.
But, as the completely unhinged and bitter (and predictable) reaction <>  to Peter Beinart's new book about Zionism (and his proposal to boycott <
ments.html?pagewanted=all>  Israeli settlements) demonstrates, there are a sizable number of people conditioned to equate criticisms of Israel with some sort of deficiency worthy of punishment. That view is always odious, but particularly so when it asserts itself in an academic setting.
UPDATE: Paul Krugman today praises Peter Beinart's critical book about the Israeli Government and, when doing so, explains why he <> - Krugman - almost never writes about Israel:
The truth is that like many liberal American Jews - and most American Jews are still liberal - I basically avoid thinking about where Israel is going.
It seems obvious from here that the narrow-minded policies of the current government are basically a gradual, long-run form of national suicide - and that's bad for Jews everywhere, not to mention the world. But I have other battles to fight, and to say anything to that effect is to bring yourself under intense attack from organized groups that try to make any criticism of Israeli policies tantamount to anti-Semitism.
As M.J. Rosenberg says
ael/> , that even Krugman, given his position at the NYT, is deterred by the inevitable attacks from writing about this topic is a testament to how potent the suppression efforts still are (albeit less so than they once were).
Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald <> .
Copyright C 2011 All rights reserved.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Reminder...Classic Slam Grand Slam Finals Tonight!

 Hi.  Yesterday, helped out with the quarter and semi-finals of the Get Lit country-wide
poetry jam, held at the LA Theater Center, in downtown, LA.  All 4 theatres were packed
with poets, classmates and teachers of the18 out of 48 teams competing throughout the
county.  It was truly breath-taking; a tribute to these incredible teens, their wonderful teachers,
and our hopes for a hell of  a better world, if we can get out of the current mess. It's hard to
express, but there was a vesceral resonance among the teen audiences to the heartbreak of
their generation, as well as its hopes and solutions.  Here's an opportunity for the rest of us to
hear and feel that which is usually masked or angrilly blurted out, often within our own families.
The poetry of these teens was better than that of the World-Wide Poetry Jam, held in LA, in 2009. 
Even Diane Lane, founder of the Get Lits and creator of this competition, was astounded by the
level of the art, as was I and everyone I spoke to, adult and kids.  The Wiltern Theatre holds 2300 
seats; tonight, a couple of hundred still avaliable, and admission is free.  If you can possibly make it,
make that reservation and expect a full heart, soul and basket of hope.

From: Get Lit-Words Ignite []
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2012 10:35 PM
Subject: Reminder...Classic Slam Grand Slam Finals Tomorrow!



We had a fantastic quarter and semifinals today and are so excited about the finals at the Wiltern @ 7pm tomorrow.


As a friendly reminder, please come pick up your tickets at the will call tables by 6:15pm the latest. For those that do not claim their reserved tickets by 6:15pm, we will be releasing those tickets for general admissions. Will call table opens at 5pm.


Thank you and see you there!


Get Lit Team

RSVP TIX HERE                                        DONATE                         

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Robert Scheer: Halfway Through the Lost Decade, A Nonviolence Workshop with Rev. James Lawson, This Saturday, April 28, 9:00 AM to Noon

Halfway Through the Lost Decade
By Robert Scheer
Truthdig: April 26, 2012

Does anyone care that the economy is floundering and that we are not getting out of this crisis anytime soon? Housing values are in the cellar, the Fed foresees unemployment remaining unacceptably high for the next three years, and national economic growth is predicted to be, at best, anemic.

Even the substantial rise of stock averages during recent years has been based in large part on the ability of companies such as Apple to outsource jobs and sales to booming markets led by China—while America’s graduating students face mountainous debt and what is shaping up as a decade without opportunity.

These are the inescapable conclusions to be drawn from a gloomy report released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve. In that document, the Fed revises downward its growth projection for the next two years and predicts, in the words of a New York Times article about the report, that “unemployment will remain a massive and persistent problem for years to come.” The housing failure that is the root cause of this economic emergency continues unabated because there is no political will in either party to aid beleaguered homeowners.

Beneath all the pundit blather about the election lies the fact that most deeply affects the voters’ well-being: Home prices are at a decade low, and in cities like Atlanta and Las Vegas they are as dismal as they have been since the Case-Shiller indices started tracking housing prices in the early 1990s.

Without a resurgence in housing value, consumer confidence will remain moribund and a woefully weak labor market will persist. Every time housing seems to be rebounding, the banks and the feds unload more of their toxic mortgages and prices edge lower.

The only thing preventing a complete collapse, one that would plunge us into deep recession or worse, is the Fed’s extremely low interest rate, which Wednesday’s report reiterated will remain at near zero until late 2014. If the Fed rate were to rise, driving up all of the adjustable rate mortgages out there, we would be in a full-blown depression.

All of this terrible news should spell disaster for Barack Obama’s re-election chances, since it is a direct consequence of his continuing the George W. Bush strategy of bailing out the bankers while ignoring the plight of the homeowners they swindled. But Obama will probably survive because his Republican presidential rival, Mitt Romney, is far worse on this subject.

At least Obama has made a stab at pushing the banks to provide mortgage relief, albeit a halfhearted one. When assessed in light of Romney’s splendid indifference to the suffering that he himself and other financial hustlers caused, Obama deserves support; at least the president seems alert to the pain the bankers have inflicted, while Romney blames their victims.

Romney’s is the sink-or-swim, tough-love approach that has come to mark the Republican Party. As he put it last fall in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “... [D]on’t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit bottom. Allow investors to buy up homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up.”

That of course does not address the painful losses of, for example, Nevada homeowners, who have witnessed a 62 percent drop in values since 2006. At fault is a free-market-rules philosophy that denies the essential reality of American housing: The market was not free, it was brutally rigged.

The securitization of mortgages into collateralized debt obligations turned homes—the castles of so many average Americans—into gambling chips, and the fallout mainly hurt those who were not even in on the game. As The Wall Street Journal reported in February when Romney was campaigning in Nevada, the primary victims of foreclosure are those who had paid down their home loans, or worse yet owned homes outright, only to find that repossessions on their block destroyed the value of their investment.

The appalling thing is that this enormous mess did not have to happen. It is a man-made disaster, the result of capricious Wall Street bankers who have no regard for the national interest. Perhaps that is to be expected, but what is shocking is the inability of leading politicians of either party to mount a challenge to the unfettered greed that has come to dominate our political process.

In the end, the perpetrators of this calamity have been rewarded, and their patsies, the ordinary folks who are supposed to matter in a democracy, have been cast overboard.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s new book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”

Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

* * *
From: Anthony Saidy []
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 11:42 PM
A venerable role model indeed. -AFS

Achieving Nonviolent Change in Our Communities
A Nonviolence Workshop with Rev. James Lawson
Date and Time: This Saturday, April 28, 9:00 AM to Noon
Location: Holman United Methodist Church, 3320 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90018

This is a free event. Refreshments will be provided.
RSVP not required. We have room for you!
Contact: Walter Johnson 310-570-3776

What is a Nonviolence Workshop?
Rev. Lawson’s nonviolence workshops are something like a college course teaching the basics of Nonviolence as it was practiced by Gandhi.
The goal is to train the participants in the principles and practice of Gandhian nonviolence to the level at which the participants are qualified to lead a grassroots nonviolent community movement to overcome an injustice, or to achieve an improvement in the lives of the community’s members. The community can be a neighborhood, a group of employees, an ethnic community…..etc.
It differs from a college course in that participation is informal and there are no grades. Nearly every workshop has new participants, so it is impossible to adhere to a curriculum. While many participants have covered much of the material, its necessary to go back to the basics for newcomers .
The workshops include lecture. Most also include audio-visual material. And most of the workshops include breakout discussion sessions. Every workshop includes a refreshment break which actually turns out to be about a 20-minute social time where participants get up to date with each other’s lives and work.
Why is it important?
Because nonviolent tools have been proven to be among the most powerful tools for overcoming injustices and achieving permanent change around the world. The tools include public protest, nonviolent resistance to governmental efforts to stymie change, nonviolent non-cooperation with governmental schemes to maintain the status quo, boycotts, strikes, and many more.
What types of problems can it solve?
Could be something as simple as an employer ‘s unjust treatment of employees, or as complex as the U S civil rights movement. Poland’s Solidarity movement nonviolently replaced Poland’s totalitarian government with democracy. The “Occupy” movement is working of overcome extreme income disparity in the U. S. These movements typically take years to play out. Nonviolent change produces change with little or no loss of life. Compare Egypt’s nonviolent revolution with Libya’s violent revolution.
James Lawson
Jim Lawson studied Gandhi’s methods in India, and was one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s advisors during the U S Civil Rights movement. He organized and led the successful non-violent sit-ins in Nashville, which resulted in the integration of Nashville’s entire downtown community. He personally participated in the “Freedom Rides” from Birmingham to Jackson, Mississippi.
In recent years he has taught nonviolence college courses at Vanderbilt University, Cal State Northridge, and other schools, and he participates in numerous nonviolence conferences across the United States.

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