I am the angry left

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“If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain’s resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry Left never will.” — President George Bush, addressing the RNC via satellite feed, September 1, 2008


“I Am The Angry Left.” — T-Shirt seen at demonstration outside RNC, September 2, 2008. *
A criminal trial against Eight American Patriots is about to start in Saint Paul. These eight patriots armed themselves with information and guts and planned to attack dogma and repressive politics at the Republican National Convention. They were arrested, treated like animals, and pressed with trumped up charges, including an accusation of terrorism under a Minnesota state law that mirrors the oppressive Bush Anti-Patriot Act.

The right to free speech, the right to assemble, the right to bear arms, and the right to due process are fundamental tenets of the American System of Democracy. The Original American Patriots carried out civil disobedience that culminated in the design and ratification of the Constitution that guarantees these rights. Please understand the connection. The original American Patriots knew what they had to do, they did it, then they built a system that would allow future generations a means to do the same thing if necessary. They made the American system one open to self-criticism and progressive change.

The Bush Anti-Patriot Act and its paper minions across the states is nothing less than the undoing of the fundamentals of American freedom. Ironically, this has been done with the collusion of the poorly educated Libertarian and Rightist supporters of the conservative movement, who really, honestly, are primarily concerned with clinging to their guns and their religion, both protected by this same constitution they unwittingly dismantle. The right wing can be very smart about manipulating the preformed fodder for fascism that makes up the vast legions of Joe Six Packs.

And make no mistake: The Bush Anti-Patriot Act and its paper minions is the culmination of decades of effort by the Right Wing to create laws that allow an oppressive government to arbitrarily arrest, charge, jail, bug, and otherwise harass anyone who shows an iota of disagreement.

Thanks to this new approach to repression of Democracy in America, anyone who demonstrates even the intention of publicly disagreeing with the policies of the government can be arrested, charged, and possibly convicted of crimes against the state, and serve many years incarcerated. For attempting to express their opinion.

I am the angry left who knows some of these children. The so called Anarchists and the RNC Welcoming Committee are ragged tips of a vast, ill defined but potent iceberg of dissatisfaction and questioning among primarily younger people in the Twin Cities. In many cases there is a continuity between 60s activists (mom and dad) and people now in their 20s or 30s, often the organizers or facilitators. These are people who have carried a torch of modest and questioning radicalism, of the kind expressed by the likes of Patrick Henry or Benjamin Franklin. But the bulk of this thing that can barely be called a movement (it is more of an ‘emergence’) consists of kids who went from the suburbs to college and found out that everybody has been doin’ it wrong for long enough that we’ve almost done ourselves in. And now these kids feel that things need to change. They are smart, they are motivated, and they are going to save us from ourselves.

I sat recently for coffee with a dear friend who told me of one young man who is the gentlest person she has ever known, who is so dedicated to a peaceful sustainable world that every step in his life is a conscious effort to make less of an impact on the environment. This young man is one of the Saint Paul Eight and has a reasonably good chance of spending five to ten years in prison, accused of planning civil disruption at the Republican National Convention.

There were already laws in place prohibiting certain kinds of unpermitted assembly, damage to property, threats to individuals, or bodily harm. But these patriots … the Saint Paul Eight … are being charged with conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism under the new, extraordinarily repressive Bush laws.

Conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism.

This is what demonstrating is called now. No. This is what planning to demonstrate is called now. Roll that around in your head for a few minutes, and if this does not send chills down your spine then perhaps you should have your conscience checked.

This is the outcome of about 40 years of consistent implementation of a not too secret right wing conspiracy congealed during eight years of the most oppressive and anti-American, anti-Freedom, anti-Democracy presidency we have ever experienced. There is a reason why so many people on the left, and in the center, and even on the centrist side of the right, are saying that this is the most important election in our life time.

This is the most important election in our life time.

It is a matter of survival of our way of life, of our basic values, of our democratic system, not to mention several important elements of that system such as education, affordable health care, social security, and a reasonable degree of peace among nations.

Listen to me:

There are too many close calls for you or me to be comfortable. There are only two weeks left. You must now abandon other activities, put down the rake, turn off the TV, cancel the trip to the cabin, forget about organizing your stamp collection for a while!

Find a Democrat running for office. Give this Democrat fifty bucks … a cheap price to save your ass from another four years of creeping oppression. Volunteer to work for the candidate. Phone bank, door knock, clean the damn kitchen in the campaign office while other people are phone banking. Whatever, just do something!

Where I live, we have the possibility of sending the first ever Democrat to the House of Representatives from this Republican-gerrymandered district. Aswin Madia‘s campaign is doing well for a guy who’s never run for office before, but the two front runners, Madia and a Republican named Paulson, are in a statistical dead heat. We need to get out the effort over the few remaining days to support Madia.

I’ve been working for Madia, but even more important here in Minnesota may be the election of Al Franken to the Senate seat vacated by Paul Wellstone and now held by one of the lowest of the low … Republican Norm Coleman. You must understand that if the Democrats do not hold 60 seats in the Senate, there will be no Obama. He might as well not even be there. All it will take is one Republican Senator to shut down any legislative action with a filibuster. You need to work to give the Democrats a filibuster proof majority in the Senate and a majority in the House.

The last time this happened, a lot of good things came of it, and every time the Republicans have had control over the last few decades, only bad things have happened.

Do not listen to those who tell you that it is best to have one party in charge in the house and one in charge of the senate, or one party running the legislature an one in the White House, or some other cockamamie idiocy. The same person who tells you that will also tell you “Oh, the politicians in Washington, they never get anything done.” Well. Duh.

Do not be swayed by those who claim that the left and the right are somehow symmetrical. Nothing could be farther than the truth.

Then there is El Tinklenberg running against Michele Bachmann. Say no more. Just do what you need to do.

And of course, Obama.

Voter, Citizen, Democrat: Don’t! Fuck! This! Up!

Obama is leading in the polls, but you must remember to vote! Obama is leading in the polls but do not be surprised at the October Surprise. He’s leading in the polls, but Al Gore actually won the election, and he did not get to be president! So don’t fuck it up, people. Watch. Work. Vote. Do not slack off in what looks like a pretty easy run to the finish in the presidential race.

You probably don’t live in my district, and you probably don’t live in my state. Find out what senate or congressional races need the help right now. I can tell you that the Franken – Colemen contest is among the most important going right now in the country, and I and everyone else in Minnesota would very much appreciate a donation to that (Franken, not Coleman!) campaign. You could look at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee web site for other ideas.

Finally, you can SUPPORT THE RNC 8 here, at this web site.

OK, everybody, make a fist. Everybody put your fists together in a big pile in the middle of the circle. OK, ready?

HOOYAH!!!

We’re goin’ in ,and we’re not coming up for air until we have VICTORY!

That is all.


Information on the Saint Paul Eight.

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Comments

  1. #1 Marty Steitz
    October 22, 2008

    My son was detained for no reason whatsoever while the police rummaged his apartment. He also took part in marches and was teargassed. I went on the last day of the convention to see all this for myself. It was deeply disturbing – clearly the goal was to simply keep the demonstrators away from the media. And the RNC paid insurance so that the law could be broken, and fines subsequently paid.

  2. #2 Romeo Vitelli
    October 22, 2008

    In the immortal words of Samuel Johnson, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”.

  3. #3 Ed
    October 22, 2008

    is there a legal fund for the Saint Paul 8?

  4. #4 Katharine
    October 22, 2008

    RAWR I AM THE ANGRY LEFT \O,,O/

    Seriously, the conservatives are turning into one big joke. I lament the fact that these people make such a big part of the country.

    Can we find some way to keep these assholes from breeding? Half of the time I’m angry, and half of the time I’m laughing from incredulity at the absurdity of these people and their imaginary friend who they claim tells them to do things. I have actually started thinking about arming myself in the next few years for the sake of my own defense against these wackjobs. I’m an atheist, and I will defend my right to think what I think. I hope the fundies don’t start getting violent, but it is prudent to be prepared for the fundies’ recklessness.

    It already is without question that I’m getting out of this absurd nation by 2020 whether or not Obama is elected. The United States is simply too stupid.

    Honestly, if I have to remain in this nation for too long after I become a PhD, I’m gonna kill myself.

    This nation is almost impossibly fucked. I do not see it getting better no matter who is in power unless there is MASSIVE change beyond what Obama can possibly hope to achieve in eight years – by MASSIVE, I mean an upheaval of the entire American ethos. Too few of us have the liberal-mindedness, rationality, logic, intelligence, and education to see through the massive amounts of what can only be termed mindless drivel generated by the majority of the world, which is largely a bunch of, I’d say, 5.5 billion walking thought-terminating cliche gobshites .

  5. #5 Mimi
    October 22, 2008

    this is so scary. I don’t even really know what to say except I am sorry. Now, more than ever, I want to vote but can’t. It’s so frustrating to me to live in American but not have a voice in the matter. And no, I am not an ex-con. I live in a territory so I don’t get to vote in the election since I am registered to vote here. This whole situation is frightening and nauseating.

  6. #6 uncle noel
    October 22, 2008

    Here, here! Way to fire up the troops!
    My Obama sign was kicked down last weekend.
    I have four more.
    And we’re going to win this time.

  7. #7 uncle noel
    October 22, 2008

    Um. It’s “Hear, hear!”, isn’t it?

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    October 22, 2008

    Ed: I don’t know, but if I find out I’ll post it.

    Katherine: Will you please start blogging again? (Or did you move your blog somewhere and I don’t know…)

    Noel: I’m pretty sure there is a Firesign Theater version that goes “There There!”

  9. #9 Dr A
    October 22, 2008

    Thank you for this insightful post.

    Info on donations and the RNC 8

  10. #10 Katharine
    October 22, 2008

    Greg – I’ve been trying to find something to blog about, but between my work and all the bloody bullshit that’s going on in the United States and all the AWESOME that is my field, it is really hard to pin down one thing to stick up a post on as a neuroscience student who’s going to earn a PhD degree and who, as part of being a scientist and member of the neuroscientific community, has a duty to both discover new things to know about and spread that knowledge.

    Also, it seems I really do my most articulate tirading in comments sections. I’m kind of not sure why. Please don’t remove Missives from your blogroll!

  11. #11 Katharine
    October 22, 2008

    All the AWESOME that is finding new things in my field, I mean. My field is, without question, awesome, and my work that is being a student in that field is awesome.

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    October 22, 2008

    Dr A: Thank you. I’ve added the link to the post as well.

    Katherine: Also, it seems I really do my most articulate tirading in comments sections.

    The only difference between a tirade in the comment section and a blog post is where you type it in. Well, there are a couple of other minor differences but they will sort themselves out as you do it. So, just start the tirade here (or wheverver) then say “As I say here..” with a link to your blog, and start to finish the thought on your blog. Your brain will do the rest.

  13. #13 uncle noel
    October 22, 2008

    “There, there.” sounds like what someone might say to McCain and Palin on the morning of Nov 5.

  14. #14 Stephanie Z
    October 22, 2008

    Katharine, despair is a luxury we can’t afford right now. I know it’s been a long time since it’s appeared that there was anything to look forward to. I know you’re tired and dispirited. I’d buy you a beer and let you cry in it if I could.

    But then I would remind you that there is work to be done. We’ve been pushing for a long time, but for the first time in almost that long, there are signs that the pushing can get something moving.

    How long has it been since you’ve seen a majority of the electorate turn up its noses at negative advertising? How long has it been since most of the people you know don’t automatically associate free-market capitalism with prosperity and an agressive military strategy with security? How long has it been since you’ve seen someone turn to a wonk who speaks in multisyllables for reassurance? How long has it been since you’ve seen people perk up at a call to their own responsibility?

    We have an opportunity that I haven’t seen in my lifetime, but it won’t do us any good if we collapse at the critical point. There’s still fight left in the idiots who got us to this place. We have to find the fight in ourselves to keep them from winning.

    Or, in the immortal words of Booger, “Buck up, little camper. We’ll beat that slope together.”

  15. #15 sinned34
    October 22, 2008

    Well, I’m a citizen of a different country, so there’s little I can do to help other than to remind you Americans down there:

    The world is watching you. Show us what you’ve got.

  16. #16 Greg Laden
    October 22, 2008

    Stephanie: HARK HARK!!!

  17. #17 cat lady
    October 22, 2008

    another four years of creeping oppression.

    By creeping creeps that remind me of CREEP.

  18. #18 Elizabeth
    October 22, 2008

    Mimi: I am always amazed when I am reminded that America has colonies.

  19. #19 Katharine
    October 22, 2008

    Stephanie, I don’t know what proportion of the nation is catching on to rationality. I urge caution.

    Do not underestimate the bastardliness of the conservatives. Remember how the religious ‘right’ weaseled its way into elected offices.

    “How long has it been since you’ve seen a majority of the electorate turn up its noses at negative advertising? How long has it been since most of the people you know don’t automatically associate free-market capitalism with prosperity and an agressive military strategy with security? How long has it been since you’ve seen someone turn to a wonk who speaks in multisyllables for reassurance? How long has it been since you’ve seen people perk up at a call to their own responsibility?”

    There is a significant proportion of the people who does not turn up its noses at negative advertising. There is a significant proportion of the people in the united states who automatically associate capitalism with prosperity and associate anything more regulated with socialism, and they associate socialism with Communism, and an aggressive military strategy with security. There is a significant proportion of the people who won’t listen to that multisyllabic individual because those people in their idiocy think multisyllabic = ‘elitist’. There is a significant proportion of the people who are not responsible.

    That significant proportion of the people is also too bloody stupid to think for themselves. They are, well, pathetically vulnerable to abuse – they are robots.

    There are swing voters who may or may not have the capacity to see through the bullshit.

    The problem with the United States is largely the culture it was founded on outside of what the ‘founding fathers’ intended – the Puritanism, the roiling masses of cults out of control, the too-little-defined right to free speech (Free speech is in itself wonderful, but its bounds are poorly defined and there are too many ways to circumvent free speech rights), the influences from 17th and 18th century ridiculousness in Europe, and, well, the patent ridiculousness of a great many of the influences on the United States. There is a fundamental PROBLEM with America that goes beyond the general mess that most of my fellow liberals are aware Obama needs to clean up.

    What are the limits of any influence from any area of the ideological spectrum given the perception of MOST people backing any view today? (Most people, honestly, are not too well informed; some are more informed than others, but the level of perception sucks.)

  20. #20 llewelly
    October 22, 2008

    OK, everybody, make a fist. Everybody put your fists together in a big pile in the middle of the circle. OK, ready?
    HOOYAH!!!

    Terrorist fist orgy.

  21. #21 Stephanie Z
    October 22, 2008

    Katharine, I’m aware of all of that. It doesn’t matter. It can’t be allowed to matter. That’s all.

  22. #22 Katharine
    October 22, 2008

    Why?

  23. #23 Katharine
    October 22, 2008

    My point is not so much ‘The US is fucked, let’s all go to Europe’ (even though I’m getting out of the US by 2020 ), it’s ‘Are we aware of just how deep the problems with this country are?’

  24. #24 Stephanie Z
    October 22, 2008

    Katharine, the why is because this is my country and they can take it from me when they pry it, etc. Especially since they don’t have a clue what to do with it except strip it of every unique thing it’s accomplished.

    Yes, I know what the problems are. I know what the situation is. I also know the country is not going to stay the same. They never do. My choices are to give up on it and watch it move in the wrong direction, steered there by the underlying issues you talk about, knowing I gave up on it, or to work to fix those problems and push the country in the direction I want it to go.

    That’s it. No more choices.

  25. #25 Katharine
    October 22, 2008

    It’s not the country that’s accomplished anything; it’s the people in it.

    The country is not just one variable; it is a lot of variables, and different combinations of variables can produce various crap.

    Can we, in fact, muster the power ever, much less in our lifetimes, to push the country where we want to go? This is neither an optimistic nor pessimistic rhetorical question, this is an honest question!

    The globe does not have these physical boundaries. Humans create nations.

  26. #26 Katharine
    October 22, 2008

    It’s not the country that’s accomplished anything; it’s the people in it.

    The country is not just one variable; it is a lot of variables, and different combinations of variables can produce various crap.

    Can we, in fact, muster the power ever, much less in our lifetimes, to push the country where we want to go? This is neither an optimistic nor pessimistic rhetorical question, this is an honest question!

    The globe does not have these physical boundaries. Only humans create nations – the globe does not make these perilous divisions.

  27. #27 Stephanie Z
    October 22, 2008

    It’s not the country that’s accomplished anything; it’s the people in it.

    You blame the country as a whole. Give it the credit too.

    Can we, in fact, muster the power ever, much less in our lifetimes, to push the country where we want to go? This is neither an optimistic nor pessimistic rhetorical question, this is an honest question!

    There’s only one way to get the answer–unless you’re perfectly happy for it to be “no.” I see nothing in human history that tells me great things can’t be accomplished if people work for them. Perfection? No. Stunning progress? Absolutely.

  28. #28 Dallas
    October 22, 2008

    “Ironically, this has been done with the collusion of the poorly educated Libertarian and Rightist supporters of the conservative movement, who really, honestly, are primarily concerned with clinging to their guns and their religion, both protected by this same constitution they unwittingly dismantle.”

    I’d like to know what it is that you think Libertarians actually stand for. From that statement it seems you are the one poorly educated here (I mean that in the kindest way). From what I know of Libertarians, they have always been against the Patriot Act and everything like it, and have always staunchly opposed the suspension of any civil liberty to fight interventionist causes around the world, like terrorism. I don’t see why any libertarian would disagree with your message in this post, other than your cheap-shot at them (and your democratic endorsements I assume as well), which seems to be quite unfounded.

    From what I understand of Libertarians, they agree with the economic stances of conservatives for the most part, but disagree with the modern conservatives views on civil liberties, which this post is about. So to clump Libertarians and Neo-cons into one category when discussing civil liberties just doesn’t make much sense.

    However, if I’ve misinterpreted what you were actually trying to say about Libertarians, please let me know.

  29. #29 Stephanie Z
    October 22, 2008

    Dallas, when you vote as a bloc, you stink as a bloc. When you undermine things like funding for education, which is critical for a strong democracy, don’t be surprised to receive the blame for the problems you’ve helped create. Such are the wages of collusion.

  30. #30 Dallas
    October 22, 2008

    So, Libertarian’s are to blame for poor education even though they have almost no representatives in any stage of government anywhere in the US and make up less the something like 1-2% of voters? It seems a little silly to blame current problems on a group of people with no power and who have not had the opportunity to make any changes significant changes to our government.

    I agree that Republican policies are a huge problem, and I disagree with most of what Republicans try to do, even their economic positions, because they don’t take into consideration the people as a whole. So, please don’t include me with them, when I don’t agree with them on almost anything and have never voted their way.

  31. #31 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    October 22, 2008

    This post is important. And the reason is that we need to express our outrage. I ain’t goin’ nowhere. I was born here, and I am staying here and I am not leaving because it is my home. I don’t know if I will ever be satisfied with the way my country and my state are run, but I will keep on pushing to get it right. Someday, someway our country will live up to the ideals of the Republic. It hasn’t happened yet, and it is even going backward when our leadership expresses the need for security over liberty.

    I’m here to stay, and the election in two weeks will either propel the country to take the next step towards being a free Republic, or it will take a step back. But it will not drive me out if the election goes the wrong way.

    Of course, I don’t aim to let that happen.

    Work for and donate to the Democrats in this election. There is little time left.

    And Barack Obama is always five points behind in the polls until the last vote is counted.

  32. #32 Stephanie Z
    October 22, 2008

    Hear, hear, Mike.

  33. #33 Greg Laden
    October 23, 2008

    Dallas: You need to read my words as they are intended: In sentences. I assure you that the poorly education libertarian tends to think very differently of something like the patriot act. What I did not say is this: To me, a libertarian is not a member of a party (like a Republican is a member of the Republican party) but rather, a way of thinking. It is a pretty diverse way of thinking but also one with a lot of internal inconsistencies. Generally, selfishness is the driving force in a libertarian’s activism (if there is activism) and a great sense of the individual’s ability to know what to do when it comes to doing the right thing. This sense is, of course, misplaced.

  34. #34 moneduloides
    October 23, 2008

    Without spending an inordinate amount of time on a comment that will probably be read by two people, I would like to point out that the term ‘libertarian’ was first used in France during the 1880s to avoid the anti-anarchist laws, lois sc�l�rates. It is a term that, outside of the United States, is synonymous with anarchism (e.g., libertarian socialism, libertarian communism, etc…); for anarchists in the U.S., of course, the use of this label has not been entirely effective. For instance, identifying yourself as a libertarian socialist in the U.S. usually leads to looks of anger and confusion. Of course, ‘anarchism’ in the U.S. is synonymous with ‘chaos,’ which doesn’t help either, particularly because chaos and disorganization are the exact opposite of collectivist anarchist ideology.

    But I digress…

  35. #35 Mad Hussein LOLScientist, FCD
    October 23, 2008

    I am liberal. Hear me ROAR!!!1!

    Take back the name.
    Take back the idea.
    Take back the country.
    Overthrow the damned Rethuglican (mis)government.
    T’row da bums out.
    Kick their stupid, intolerant, greedy asses all the way back to the Dark Ages where they belong.
    Yes, we sure as hell can.

    VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE!

    I am the Mad LOLScientist, and I approve this message because I am sick to death of the greedy stomping on the needy, and of the Fundy Mental Cases trying to legislate religion. I am mad as bloodyfuckinghell, and I am not gonna take it any more, so that makes me MAD x 2.

    This has been a Public Service Announcement. We now return you to your regularly scheduled revolution already in progress.

  36. #36 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    October 23, 2008

    The Madlolscientist speaks wisely.

  37. #37 BillMcDonald
    October 25, 2008

    I raise my fist with yours.

  38. #38 Mordecai
    November 2, 2008

    The RNC 8 are being prosecuted in Ramsey County District Court (St. Paul, Minnesota) for “conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism.”

    My son, Max, 19, is one of the RNC 8. My wife and I tried to raise him right, with a Jewish education and humane values. He turned out to be a “criminal anarchist” (according to Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher). Go figure!

    We need money for a lengthy, expensive legal fight to keep the RNC 8 out of prison. You can donate at: rnc8.org

    To see the rough cut of the documentary “Terrorizing Dissent,” about the protests at the RNC in St. Paul and pre-crime repression of the RNC 8, go to: terrorizingdissent.org

    I am not extremely ideological (kind of a Paul Wellstone Democrat), but I’ve thought that a Christian Fascist regime coming to power in America would be very bad. With the ascension of Gov. Sarah Palin (and Minnesota’s Rep. Michele Bachmann), I see that we are indeed close to such a dangerous state of affairs.

  39. #39 Lilian Nattel
    December 29, 2008

    This is a time of vulnerability for freedom of expression as well as other democratic rights. The financial and economic downturn will stress the country (and world) in the next year. People who get fearful are people who are more susceptible to the message of the right. We must take good care and guard those freedoms.

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