AMLO outside the Senate, Monday, October 26

Worker's Party Deputy Mario di Costanzo Tears Apart Carstens Economic Plan

Friday, November 21, 2008

Three Minutes Sixteen Seconds / PRD R.I.P./ We're not Paying for Your Crisis

Three Minutes Sixteen Seconds
The following from Rocio Ortega, newly-unemployed radio producer, Oaxaca: "This past November 6th, the program 'Music Non-Stop' (which I was the producer of on 96.9 FM) had on as its guest the artist and curator Olga Margarita Dávila for its segment, 'Biographies and Personalities'...In order to put into context the founding of 'La Curtiduria,' a space devoted to promoting contemporary art and taking in artists from all over the world, Olga cited the Oaxaca conflict of 2006 in the following manner:

And amongst all the ups and downs life has provided me with, one of them has been to come to Oaxaca and work here thanks to Demian Flores at the Curtiduria, which is a contemporary space for the arts, for artist's residences, for projects and workshops, education. It's a space that was born out of the movement of 2006 as an inclusive space, as a response to everything that moved this great conflict, this great force, this big, little transformation that we all experienced, even more those who were behind the barricades and involved in the whole process. This allowed the Curtiduria ['The Tannery'] to be named what it was: in an abandoned space in the old tannery area on 5 de Mayo Street in Jalatlaco, we inaugurated this space in 2006 with the help and logistics and strength of a large community of creators and artists who...asked what can we do and how can we do it, who are we as artists and what are we to do with this occupation of life, and we decided to open this space. And I joined in at the end of 2006, the beginning of 2007 intermittently at first, coming and going, I had commitments in Los Angeles and Tijuana, and little by little I kept getting more involved until, starting in the middle of last summer, I began to stay in La Curtiduria and began to make Oaxaca my home. Now I have been living in Oaxaca definitively for the last six months, with a great deal of pleasure, and tranquility....

"This audio segment lasted 3'16", and preceded some music that the guest shared with our listeners. The listeners, however, were not able to hear it. On orders from Mercedes Rojas Saldaña, director of CORTV, the transmission was interrupted and music was broadcast with the excuse of technical problems, thus censuring the program's content.
"If this were not enough, and without any reasons, the head of programming informed me by phone that I was being suspended (on the 11th, one week later), that my programs would not be going on the air anymore and that my professional relationship with the station was being terminated. He alleged they had tried to contact me to tell me that the people invited onto Music Non-Stop 'weren't Oaxacans' and as well that the program's music 'didn't convince them.' Along with this the program 'Music para Respirar' (Music for Breathing), which I am also the producer of, will be taken off the air - a progam devoted to genres such as world beat, new age, ambiental and hetero...
"If this is not to be seen as a lack of ethics and professionalism, a demonstration of ignorance and incompetence, a brazen and high-handed act, an attack of free speech and fundamental rights perpetrated by the director of a station paid for by our taxes, I demand an explanation and make a call to the support, friendship and gratitude of those who that afternoon, on this station, could not and now will not be able to hear me any longer.

Rocio Ortega,
Oaxaca, Oaxaca November 18th, 2008

If two radio progams can be pulled from the air and a producer fired for comments as innocuous as Olga Margarita Davila's, if people are being kidnapped in broad daylight only 7 blocks away from where the Governor is gearing up for his State of the State message (, is it not clear that Oaxaca is suffering through the worst of both worlds: on one hand, the arbitrary repression of a police state, and on the other, the lack of any state-provided security whatsoever?

(Spanish speakers can read the full text of Rocio Ortega's comments at:

Friends, please break out your mourning clothes to attend the political wake of the year (no, not Mouriño): the PRD is dead, cut down in the flower of its youth at only 19 years old. The party, founded by Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and the coalition of parties that had supported him in the 1988 presidential elections, died last week when the Federal Electoral Tribunal - the same one that installed electoral deliquent Felipe Calderon into the presidency of the nation, installed electoral delinquent Jesus Ortega into the party presidency of the PRD. The decision, an unprecedented meddling in internal party affairs which flagrantly overruled a wise internal party decision to simply annul the damned thing, was made even with the Tribunal itself admitting that a mere 22.88% (!) of precincts contained anomalies, and in grand Mexican style, included in its final count the results of polling places which were never set up on the day of the election! As I understand it, the high-minded ethical reasoning of the Tribunal goes thus: even if Ortega did do what they say he did, as long as what he did didn't "change the final results" (however circumlocuitously those are gotten at), his little shenanigans - oh you, Chuy! (slap slap) - are A-okay in the ledgers of justice. Kant is dead: there are no wrong acts as such, only wrong, results subject to change.
With this, the circle is closed, and the party is pulled off the life support it had been on since its circus-like internal elections earlier this year. Felipe Calderon, with the help as always of his state-level surrogates (namely the governors of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz, from whence came the phantom results from inexistent precincts) have succeeded not only in installing their own man in the presidency of the PRD - one who will make a "modern" left that "Mexico can be proud of" (I can see the 30-second spots now), but in converting the party, born in the aftermath of one electoral fraud and toppled by another, sixteen years later, into yet another co-opted organ of the state. The clear intent is to remove any institutional channels for the mass popular movement led by López Obrador, and by attempting to marginalize him within his own party, make him look even more extreme and that much more cut-off from the normal political life of this grand, inclusive republic. With Jesus Ortega and his new-left "chuchos" in control of the party's apparatus, expect a bland and innocuous slate of compromised candidates for next year's legislative elections, absent any Lopez-Obradoristas or other rabble rousers. Expect, too, a sound thrashing for the PRD at the polls, not only due to the pre-announced (Garcia Marquez style) defeat of the left by the right (he who controls the electoral mechanisms controls the votes), but due to massive defections of the what was formerly the base of the PRD brand in favor of the other two members of the Broad Progressive Front: Convergencia and the Worker's Party (PT). For what it's worth (a bag of chips? cup of watery decaf?), this blogger, for one, will be voting PT/Convergencia.

We're Not Paying for Your Crisis
The three-time Berlusconi government in Italy (talk about electoral masochism) has recently introduced an educational counter-reform which, among other enlightened measures, slashes elementary school class time, eliminates up to 100,000 teaching positions, reduces the number of degree programs offered at the college level, and opens up the university system to privatization by stealth by allowing them to create "foundations" to traffic in private dollars for supposedly public ends. The massive protests stemming from this (surrounding the Senate building a la Mexicana, among other things - we should send over the Adelitas as back-up) have as their rallying cry: "We're Not Paying for Your Crisis."
I loved that. We're not paying for your crisis. The world financial system, by means of rampant speculation, disproportionate greed and sheer, deregulated stupidity, has dug itself into the biggest hole it has managed since 1929, and already, the cuts are coming everywhere to compensate it all. But not where the cuts should be made - in the boardroom - but in the living room, the classroom, and the lecture hall. This is also, in Naomi Klein's paradigm, the use of a "shock" (world financial crisis) to force through draconian cuts in education which, just as in Mexico, has the goal of dismantling one of the last functions of government (with its accompanying unions) that hasn't been privatized or sold off. Now I am no fan of public education as it exists in any country I know of - where the main goal has historically been that of producing docile capitalist cogs rather than questioning, creative human beings - but the practical matter is, public education and teacher's unions are pretty much the last thing standing the way of the final dismantling of many nation-states, and thus must be disposed of when the shock is right. Hence, Mexico's Alliance for Education, the closing of the normal schools, the ongoing war against dissident sections of the national union.
All this not to mention the twenty-some-odd increases in the gas tax this year in Mexico and the application of the flat-rate, regressive 16.5% IETU tax, which has nailed those of us who actually try to be honest and declare our earnings with the Revenue Department (que pendejos somos...!). We're not paying for your crisis. You broke it, you clean it up.


George Salzman said...

Kurt, It's yet another top-notch piece of yours, especially the first part dealing with censorship. Another soul-mate of mine, Manuel Garcia, Jr. has just posted his latest essay on the Dissident Voice site. I recommend it to you, along with my comment, because I think there's reason to be hopeful in spite of the world-scale atrocities, which you zero in on locally. Despite all the efforts to control and limit what ordinary people know and are thus able to think about critically, I believe 'we' are beginning to turn the tide. Wikileaks (Julian Assange) is unbelievably effective, Cold Type (Tony Sutton) is tearing into control of the media (see the reprint of Bill Moyers' must read talk, "Journalism Under Fire" at ) and the flourishing of real information on the internet, far too much to keep track of. The ongoing attempt to crush dissent everywhere is a clear sign that dissent is thriving, and the capitalist rulers are desperate. Thanks to you and many others, we're going to prevail, something I'd love to live long enough to see happen globally. Here's a bit of Manuel Garcia, Jr. and my note to him.
Subject: Renew The Social Contract
From: Manuel Garcia, Jr. mango(at)idiom(dot)com>
Date: Wed, 19 Nov 2008 00:12:25 -0800
To: Garcia Jr. mango(at)idiom(dot)com>


Hope you are all well. I've been somewhat unfocused because of some personal matters. Also, I was not swept up in the Obama hysteria of recent months. In brief, I think Obama will represent only a minor change in American political affairs (as compared to Bush); the same capitalist interests will still hold all the power, and will continue to arrange the conduct of government policy to suit their interests. My expectations are low. Also, though I've been told the new generation of youth swept up into something approaching political consciousness because of Obama's "cool" will reinvigorate all efforts to transform society (for the better), I remain skeptical. I guess I am now, officially, a grumpy old man; I have no confidence in today's youth (nor most of the general population). I would be happy to be wrong.

As one effort to refocus my thinking, I set about writing on current events, in particular musing about what possible theme the Obama Administration might (or should) adopt as its guiding principle. The resulting article has now appeared.

Renew The Social Contract
18 November 2008

I used a bit of novel-writing, or perhaps poetry, near the end to evoke what I would consider an interesting beginning of an Obama Administration.

Today, I had my negative expectations confirmed with the news that Obama has ruled out any effort to prosecute Bush Administration officials for any possible violations of laws -- war crimes. I may write about this, a phenomenon I learned about during my weapons physics career as "management insurance." Managers insure each other of immunity from responsibility, and safeguard their futures to act with impunity, by never acting in any way to bring another manager to accounts for crimes committed against the population at large. A manager only contributes to the prosecution of another manager when it is a matter of personal career survival, or revenge promising career advancement. (For you lawyer-types, I mean "prosecute" in the general sense of both legal and administrative proceedings, and "crimes" as both statutory and policy violations).

Another current through my mind of late is the story of the Donner Party; my daughter is doing a school report on a member of this group. These were 1846 emigrants from the Eastern U.S. who traveled to California, but were trapped for four months high in the Sierra Nevada mountains by heavy snows, and suffered heavy losses due to starvation despite resorting to cannibalism. The sad accounts of their family feuds, bickering, abandonments, thefts and murders could be taken as extreme examples of similar behaviors, and certainly attitudes, we might witness among Americans generally as we descend deeper and deeper in the possible (probable?, inevitable?) economic depression awaiting us. I just don't see Americans pulling together indiscriminately during a real crisis of survival. Again, maybe I'm off, but I think our basic problem is a profound lack of character, which our political class honestly reflects; rather than that we are generally a virtuous population betrayed by a corrupt political class. It's not "them" it's "us." The "people are good" viewpoint is orthodox leftism, as I was scolded once by an orthodox leftist who said the "people are bad" bias was a fascist tendency. Obviously, from the point of view of organizing (e.g., popular, union) it is much easier to sell the idea and be motivated by it, if your bias is that most people are "good." My attitude reflects what I've learned from Buddhism, which is that most people are "unenlightened," simply ignorant. Buddhism counsels compassion. It is the insistence to stay ignorant that I lose all patience with.

So, yes, it is maddening that Bush et. al. will never get impeached (there is still time), tried by the Senate, or prosecuted for international war crimes by the Obama Administration or before any international tribunal, but is this primarily a failure of Obama's, or ours? Who elects these criminals and allows them to smirk their way through years of carnage to reap very rich rewards? We have no innocence, and our stubborn ignorance is a worthless substitute for it. The rot comes straight out of us. Gandhi had a compassionate way of phrasing this: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

The following story shows how "management insurance" works, and how American war criminals fare. Anything for a promotion -- think about what it takes to be a "career success", and what kind of people are.

Nick Turse | A My Lai a Month
Nick Turse, The Nation: "In late 1969 Seymour Hersh broke the story of the 1968 My Lai massacre, during which US troops slaughtered more than 500 civilians in Quang Ngai Province, far north of the Delta. Some months later, in May 1970, a self-described 'grunt' who participated in Speedy Express wrote a confidential letter to William Westmoreland, then Army chief of staff, saying that the Ninth Division's atrocities amounted to 'a My Lay each month for over a year.'"
Subject: You make me laugh
From: George Salzman george(dot)salzman(at)umb(dot)edu
Date: 19/11/2008 04:37 a.m.
To: Manuel Garcia mango(at)idiom(dot)com

Oaxaca, Wednesday 19 November 2008
Dear Manuel,
You! A grumpy old man? No Way! What you need is a different taste of reality. Dr. Salzman (P.iled H.igh and D.eep, we used to say) prescribes a visit to the state of Oaxaca, a place of fearsome fascism and wonderful ordinary people en la lucha para cambiar el mundo. Get on one of those Mexican bus lines that plies the Mexico-U.S. routes frequented por los paisanos -- no fucking airplane -- and enjoy a taste of what I hope will be real revolution -- powered by la gente humilde. I felt recovered enough by late September to embark on what I thought would be my final trip to the U.S. of A. for a two month stay, October and November, but my stomach couldn't take it for more than three weeks. I fled back home, where I plan to stay until the inevitable (I'm 83). Still, the American people are no different than any other peoples, though incredibly unconscious of the larger world by dint of relentless propaganda. I think there's important work for we grumpy, hopefully wise and loving old men and women. Our task I think ought to be to corrupt the youth. Se cambinado America Latina. We need to get the U.S. boot off the Mexican neck so that more and more of Latin America stands apart from American capitalism. I visited a community in the Mixteca Alta where there's not just hope but where communally ambitious folks are rebuilding their ancient habitat from the parched eroded mountains destroyed since the Spaniards came 500 years ago. A miracle in motion, humble hard-working happy healthy people. A friend wrote a book about his experiences living and working there. He happens to be a Maryknoll lay missioner, but he's my kind of Catholic. If you do get here I'll try to arrange for us to visit there. My friend's book is The Other Game: Lessons from how life is played in Mexican villages, by Phil Dahl-Bredine and Stephen Hicken, published by Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0308 (2008). The community we visited lives primariy in a moneyless economy, not entirely of course, but what an inspiration! I'll attach an essay that's nearing completion, after months.
Saludos, George
Subject: Renew The Social Contract
From: Manuel Garcia, Jr. mango(at)idiom(dot)com
Date: Wed, 19 Nov 2008 00:12:25 -0800
To: Garcia Jr. mango(at)idiom(dot)com>

I guess I am now, officially, a grumpy old man;
P.S. Because of technical problems I haven't been able to upload the version of this essay to my website yet -- trouble with ftp.

Looking for a way towards civilization, II
by G.S. george(dot)salzman(at)umb(dot)edu
5th to __th of Aug 2008

this page is temporarily at

Drowning in the blood of Armageddon, II

An affirmation, and a suggested credo for civilization [1]
WE Americans know that we are not born to kill — that our newborns are as beautiful and rich in potentialities for having lives of love and mutual respect as any other peoples in the world. We know they don’t have to be turned into torturers, murderers, pillagers, psychologically deformed souls. It is up to us, we mature folks, to stop the carnage of a suicidal national government bent on global dominance — a crazed government driving them to slaughter their victims and to face their own maiming and death, and killing the spirits of billions of humans. It is up to us to make of America a land of life and love and not of death and destruction . . .

Kurt Hackbarth said...

Contrary to the position of my latest post, Arnoldo Cordova makes a persuasive case in today's Jornada for saving the PRD, or making the effort, at least. What chance, he says, do the PT and Convergencia - minor parties without a national presence -have without the PRD? The link is: