January 31, 2012

Winter Newsletter

The Winter Newsletter is available.  Just click here.


Afghan Clock by Tom Wolfe

This website featured a cost clock for the war in Iraq for a long time, but, like a Timex, it kept ticking even after the war ended. Because war has become our country’s chief export these days, we have finally replaced it with yet another war cost clock, this one on Afghanistan.  That conflict is not of primary concern to most Americans today, but it should be.  I live in the Quad Cities, an Iowa-Illinois area of some 375,000 people, and my local paper always deaths and injuries of our youth from our wars.  My mind fixates on the photo of one of our local girls who was in ROTC at her high school and then enlisted in the Army, only to die at 19 in a far off land for a dubious cause.  A cost clock isn’t all that impressive, I know, when what we really need is a death clock, but it’s all we have right now, so let’s pay some attention to it.
Tom Wolfe
P&J Midwest Regional Director

January 30, 2012

Newspapers Slant Presentation against Occupy

I wrote an editorial to the local newspaper here in response to an ugly article about the police attack on Occupy Oakland.  Articles like the one at the Moline Dispatch/Rock Island Argus must be dealt with immediately.  We must not allow any negative press about our freedom of speech to go without vigorous push back.  If teachers are attacked in the press, we must respond immediately and strongly.  This is the article to which I responded.  http://qconline.com/archives/qco/display.php?id=579376  (Note:  When finding the link, I found that the title of the article had been changed, and that there was no accompanying picture.  I had fired off my response to them and got a phone call from them within 2 hours, saying my letter will be published.  I suspect I was not the only one who complained.)

Here is my response.

Dear Editor,

I keep staring at the picture on the front page of The Argus/Dispatch today (Jan. 30) with subdued rage.  The influence of a newspaper to make a political point without using the op-ed page and yet be inflammatory was shown on that picture with the headline “Assessing the damage.”  The point, obviously, being made by the picture with its burning flag and the young cowards wearing kerchiefs over their faces was “Look at those dirty hippies and how much they hate America !”  I want to gag.
How I wish the Argus/Dispatch had on its front page the tea party groups that put swastikas on our President’s pictures and spitting on Black Representatives as they walked by with a headline such as “Fascist tactics at protest” accompanying it.  But I guess if you are trying to sway public opinion in your corporationistic point of view, you would never do that.  Instead, you allow the moaning and groaning of public officials of Oakland when they talk about how much money it took to, in their minds, enforce the law against these hooligans.  That explains why they beat up elderly women who exercised their First Amendment rights.  People of all ages were there and were (and still are)  justifiably angry.  However, the police initiated the contact.  This has been a tactic all across the country against groups that can not get jobs anymore, much like the WWI vets did in Washington during Hoover ’s Administration.  There is no difference between the tea partiers expressions and the Occupiers’ expressions, except for one—the corporations love the tea partiers and have evidently made sure that they were not touched. 
If Oakland or any other city wants to recoup money they spent in inciting action against these mostly peaceful people, then here is a thought for them.  Enforce the law, and go prosecute the banks who illegally foreclosed on people.  Enforce the law, and go prosecute the banks who illegally brought about the economic collapse of 2008.  Recoup the money your own citizens lost when these criminals stole their economic way of life.  Every local community that has a rash of foreclosures should be outraged against these banks, but instead they go after the ones who are hurt.  You’re darn right these people are angry.  Saying stupid things like “Go get a job” as a counter to these protestors means you do not get it.  Attacking students who are sitting peacefully with pepper spray is the local government’s fault for the money they spent on this.  If you intentionally support the corporate bankers over your citizens, you are corrupt, and you deserve to be protested against.  This is the very thing that Thomas Jefferson encouraged.

January 29, 2012

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

My nom de plume (nom de keyboard) is Tomazulob.  This is a combination of a character of a novel/movie and the initials of he movie:  Tomaz from The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.  I have chosen this name because of the transformation of a man who went through the early part of his life doing good for society but taking care of his narcissism as well.  His political views were minimal until one night he made a statement about the Russian occupiers of his native country, Czechoslovakia.  When the Russians came into Prague in 1968 to reclaim control of Czechoslovakia from its liberal and independent ways, the Russians found citizens they felt were agitating their own homeland to resist the Russian control.  He lost his ability to be a doctor; so, he had to resort to menial jobs.  During this time he changed his personal philosophy from a harmful creator of pain to those that loved him into one who learned the true love to those close to him and to those he came in contact with.
Some of the situations in this novel parallel what we are seeing now with the so-called conservative tide overwhelming the common sense of how people should treat each other.  We see a wave of oppressive and repressive corporate leaders moving in with the financial tanks, reclaiming what was lost before the FDR administration.  When FDR and the Congress instituted the New Deal policies, the corporate overlords were seething.  It got to a point in which they contacted Major General Smedley Butler (a James Cromwell look-alike) to try to lead an overthrow of the US Government.  Gen. Butler, hero that he was, testified to Congress what had happened and stopped the insurrection in its tracks.  However, they are back.  Their tanks are loaded with huge wads of cash and misinformation.  Their soldiers are politicians that they have bought and are using against the foundations of the Middle Class:  collective bargaining, fair tax rates, Social Security, Medicare, and more. 
We are living in an age similar to what Tomaz and the rest of the Czechs were in:  a false sense that the overlords had been minimized, that their influence on society was not in the political equation.  Some of us were voting for the overlords’ soldiers, thinking the consequences would not be dire.  Then Wisconsin happened.  While some of us saw the signs, many of us did not.  Those union members who voted for Gov. Walker bought into the innocuous presence he led them to believe were his policies.  While the Koch brothers were paying him to suppress the unions of the teachers and the fire fighters, many people were shocked to find that he completely misrepresented himself in his campaign.  Now the tanks are rolling in, and the people need to fight back or lose their livelihood.  While we wallowed in our lightness of being, the overlords took advantage of us and have come in for the end of our easy ways.  They want us in poverty.  They want us in ignorance.  They want us in revolt against each other instead of against them.  They want us to stop our ideals of helping children for our country’s future because their definition of a good future is a large savings account on the Cayman Islands.  Will we allow them to do this, or will we stay awake from here on?

January 21, 2012

"This country does in fact have a serious deficit problem.  But the reality is that the deficit was caused by two wars - unpaid for.  It was caused by huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country.  It was caused by a recession as result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street.  And if those are the causes of the deficit, I will be damned if we're going to balance the budget on backs of the elderly, the sick, the children, and the poor.  That's wrong."  Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senate Budget Committee, 11/18/11

January 6, 2012

Possible Agenda for Regionals

The NEA Peace and Justice Caucus does not speak on behalf of or for the NEA. It is a members only internal group.
I. Introduction of people present.
II. Distribute list of P&J goals.
Members promote economic and social justice and peaceful resolution of conflict.

Our goal is to……
Reduce violence.
Promote tolerance.
Increase awareness of basic human and civil rights.
Support the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively
Work for world peace & disarmament.
Reduce the military budget and increase funding of education and other social needs.

III. P&J Goals: Our extensive list of supportive NBIs and Resolutions at the RA have caused confusion and conflict. The Exec Bd decided to limit the support we will give to the following:

IV. New priorities Campaign which has many of the same goals as the PandJ caucus to put money into social programs as opposed to war including:
End the Wars, Cut the Pentagon Budget, Tax the Rich, Corporations and Speculators, Invest in Our Communities; web site for principles,

V. Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid have been on the chopping block of the Federal Government in looking at budget cuts. There is a way to sustain these programs.
VI. Student College Debt: (Obama plan will help because it looks at the maximum students can now pay back, but more needs to be done to help our system and our students.)
VII. Economic justice: voting rights/restrictions being placed on voting rights/languages of citizens such as Spanish speaker offers discrimination/elderly ability to get to the polls
VIII. Environmental issues: right to clean air and water

IX. Explain Chiapas initiative, and list website for Paul Mann School: http://www.schoolsforchiapas.org/english/photos/schools-of-hope/577.html.
X. Explain Paul Mann Award
XI. P&J Websites:
a. National site not working right now.
b. Midwest site, http://midwestpeaceandjustice.blogspot.com/. Send anything you’d like posted to Nancy Porter at PorterNancy@msn.com. Need new blood running the site. Volunteers?
Thanks to Tom Wolfe for putting this together.

January 5, 2012

Rethinking Schools: Stop the School to Prison Pipeline

Special Issue

An exclusive interview with Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, centers Rethinking Schools' special winter issue. Our focus is the school-to-prison pipeline and how to stop it in our classrooms, our schools, and our communities.

"Arresting Development: Zero Tolerance and the Criminalization of Children" reviews the history, impact, and future of zero tolerance policies. Our investigative reporter is Annette Fuentes, author of Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse.

In "The Classroom-to-Prison Pipeline," master teacher and RS editor Linda Christensen faces a classroom revolt. She realizes that opting out of this "pipeline" requires us to continue to rethink our classrooms.

Then Jody Sokolower, policy and production editor, discusses how teachers can support students with incarcerated parents and other family members.

And much, much more.

This is one of our most exciting and thought-provoking issues. Don't miss it.

January 4, 2012

Resolution presented at Iowa Caucus Night

by Maher A Josephson on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 4:24pm
Foreign Affairs, Israel/ Palestine
Because the conflict in the Middle East is critical to peace and justice worldwide, its implication on human rights, war, financial cost, and our cherished civil rights values;
We support (1) the rights of the Palestinian People to live in dignity in their own state on portions of historic Palestine as appeared before the Six-Day war of 1967. (2) Israel’s right to live within a secure border where all citizens regardless of religion are treated equally, and provided equal opportunity economically and politically. (3) A direct, active, and even-handed US role to facilitate a peaceful final resolution.
We oppose (1) Israel’s settlement activities in the West Bank including East Jerusalem. (2) Moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem prior to a final resolution to the conflict. (3) All calls for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians who live behind the Green Line, who are Israeli citizens. (4) The Separation Wall for its symbolism, and for erecting it in the occupied territories, which resulted in de facto annexation of land. (5) The use of violence, human shields, and collective punishment, whether perpetrated by state or non-state actors. (6) Any violence directed against peaceful demonstrators in the West Bank & Gaza. (7) The sending of arms to the region actuated by the influence of the Military Industrial Complex.