Interview with Sean Plaskett, Poet, Fight Back Podcast

Bob Fitrakis and Connie Gadell-Newton – Interview with Sean Plaskett, Poet
Talking to OSU graduate Sean Plaskett about his poetry.

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Fighting The 5 Fascisms In Wisconsin & Ohio

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
February 21, 2011

The escalating confrontations in Wisconsin and Ohio are ultimately about preventing the United States from becoming a full-on fascist state.

The stakes could not be higher—or more clear.

As defined by its inventor, Benito Mussolini, fascism is “corporate control of the state.” There are ways to beat around the Bush—Paul Krugman has recently written about “oligarchy”—but it’s time to end all illusions and call what we now confront by its true name.

The fights in Wisconsin, Ohio, and in numerous other states are about saving the last shreds of American democracy. They burn down to five basic realities:

1) The bulwark of modern democracy is the trade union. This has been true since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. All social programs can trace their roots to union activism, as can the protection of our civil liberties.

The first Germans Hitler put in concentration camps were neither Jews nor gypsies—they were trade unionists.

The attacks on state workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere have nothing to do with balancing budgets. That could easily be done without destroying collective bargaining.

For the hard-right, this is about busting unions, the last organized force standing in the way of total corporate control of the United States by the rich and richer.

2) The material essence of fascism is the extreme separation of rich and poor, a massive transfer of wealth from those on the bottom to those on the top.

The unbalanced budgets in Ohio and Wisconsin are rooted in huge tax cuts given to the rich at the expense of the middle and lower classes. Widespread poverty among those who might otherwise rebel is essential to fascist control of a government.

A largely ignored aspect of this fight is the hundreds of billions of dollars currently locked up in union, government and Social Security pension funds. With unions destroyed, this huge cache of dollars will fall quickly into corporate hands. The additional “benefit” for the financial elite will be tens of millions of impoverished elders desperate for low-wage jobs in virtual slave labor situations.

3) The crisis crippling states everywhere is directly related to the massive destruction of social resources by war. Since the end of the New Deal and World War II, the American elite have engineered the biggest dump of material wealth by military means in human history.

The trillions of dollars of pure martial waste poured into the Cold War and those in Southeast Asia, central America, the Middle East, Southwest Asia and elsewhere could easily have clothed, housed, fed, educated, and provided otherwise decent lives for all human beings the world over.

Instead, poverty, desperation and stratification have been guaranteed.

The entire economic crisis now gripping the United States can be directly traced to the military budget, which exceeds the sum of what’s being spent by all other nations combined. In a brilliant recent column, Robert Greenwald points out that the entire alleged shortfall in Wisconsin could be covered by bringing just 180 troops home from Afghanistan.

But the purpose of that deployment is to undermine national security, not to protect it. A frightened, impoverished, insecure nation is one dependent on its fascist elite.

Democracy demands and protects true material security among the people as a whole. That’s what’s really at stake in the battle to cut the military budget. The fights in Ohio and Wisconsin are surface manifestations of that bigger battle.

4) Mussolini also made it clear that corporate control of the media is essential to fascist rule. Whoever would seize power first took the radio stations, then the television stations. Now the internet is under attack. The free flow of information is fascism’s ultimate enemy.

So the relentless Foxist portrayal of the battles in Wisconsin and Ohio as pitting “responsible, austerity-minded” governors versus “lazy, irresponsible state workers” is utterly predictable.

So is the appearance of the media-created Tea Party “movement” on the side of the corporations. It’s standard corporate procedure to invent a faux “grassroots” to fight unions and working people. So finding phony corporate “populists” like Sarah Palin and New Jersey’s Chris Christie in the right-wing media limelight is utterly predictable.

5) It is no accident that the “job loving” union-hating governors of Wisconsin and Ohio (along with Florida) have rejected billions in federal funds for re-building passenger rail service that would create thousands of jobs.

A corporate state relies on central of energy. Rail service threatens the power of the oil and auto lobbies. Renewable energy would replace centralized fossil/nuclear sources with decentralized solar panels, bio-fuels, windmills, increased efficiency and the like. The push for federal nuclear loan guarantees is central to the corporate state.

The anti-union governor of Ohio is strongly focused on killing not only train service but all incentives for renewable energy. His energy plan is for extreme right-wing nuke-based monopolies like FirstEnergy to run the show. Atomic power is the ultimate weapon against community control.

For decades the term “fascist” has been dismissed from use in this country, and perhaps rightly so. Corporations have been dominant in the US since the 1880s, but we have managed to maintain a modicum of democracy.

It’s hard to see that happening if the remnants of the organized labor movement are crushed in Wisconsin and Ohio. Both states have long, important traditions of union activism.

In the wake of Citizens United, with the courts, media, Congress and presidency firmly in corporate control, we see no easy road to victory for working people.

“Vote the bastards out” has become a pipedream in the age of electronic voting machines. Especially in Ohio, a reliable electoral vote count is a thing of the past.

We also have a president who was elected with strong labor support and who is now genuflecting toward the unions. But US history is filled with Democrats who have betrayed their working-class backers, and this one may prove no exception.

So in the long run, we have only ourselves to rely on. The way to survival is not clear.

Ultimately, as Martin Luther King said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

But from time to time, it does break. If these uprisings in Wisconsin and Ohio fail, there will—literally—be hell to pay.

Somehow, we must find a way to make sure they don’t.


Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, which are at www.freepress.org, where Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES also appear. HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE US is at www.harveywasserman.com, along with SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH. Originally published by https://freepress.org.

Two important events Tuesday February 22

Ohio Rally Against Senate Bill 5

Tuesday, February 22, 2011, starting at 1:00 p.m. and continuing into the evening there will be a massive rally at the Statehouse to oppose Senate Bill 5. Members and supporters are requested to stop by the OEA Building at 225 E. Broad St., Columbus, Ohio 43215 on Tuesday starting at 12:00 noon to pick up signs, updated talking points and instructions before heading over to the Statehouse. The rally is expected to gear up at 1pm. Click here to RSVP for this event!

The Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee considering SB 5 just published the hearing schedule, which will start at 4pm. In order to most fully organize and mobilize in opposition to this bill, we have decided, along with our community and labor coalition partners, to stage this rally starting at 1pm and running into Tuesday night. If you are unable to come during the day Tuesday, please plan to come to Columbus after school on Tuesday, stopping by the OEA first and then on to the Statehouse. This is an all-hands-on-deck week coming up, so please talk with your colleagues, neighbors and friends and bring them with you on Tuesday!

Please begin sharing this information and helping our members organize a tremendous turnout on Tuesday. While we do not know when the hearing will end, we do expect significant media attention all day Tuesday and into the evening. We need to demonstrate that all of Ohio is opposed to this bill. RSVP’s are helpful, but not required. We encourage you to continue to make your voice heard and contact your legislators about your opposition to Senate Bill 5.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2011
7:30PM

Free Press Free Film Night

THE POLITICAL PROSECUTIONS OF KARL ROVE
by Project Save Justice

In the hands of renowned filmmaker John McTiernan, director of the Hollywood blockbusters, Predator, The Hunt for Red October, and the Die Hard trilogy, The Political Prosecutions of Karl Rove offers a documented record of the pervasive misuse of the Justice Department. Sadly, as the film documents, Democrats were targeted at all levels of the system and in many states across the country. The film reveals startling evidence supporting the use of the U.S. Department of Justice to create a permanent Republican majority. In fact, statistics show that in the 15 months leading up to the 2008 general election, indictments of elected Democrats increased by nearly 50%. The soul-stirring documentary offers convincing evidence to indicate that a vigorous and comprehensive strategy was pursued toattack lower levels of the Democratic Party designed to completely uproot and undermine any challenges to Republican political power.

Brought to you by the Free Press, the Drexel Theater, and the Central Ohio Green Education Fund.
Drexel Theater, 2254 E. Main St. Bexley
truth@freepress.org
253-2571

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Ohio SB 5, Governor Kasich To Call Ohio National Guard, FightBack Radio

http://www.wcrsfm.org/audio/user/157

Dr. Bob Fitrakis and Connie Gadell-Newton discuss unions, Kasich, union history, the conservative Ohio heartbeat bill, firefighters supporting womans rights at protest in Columbus, and the threat to organizing.

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THE POLITICAL PROSECUTIONS OF KARL ROVE Free Press Free Film Night

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2011
7:30PM
Free Press Free Film Night
THE POLITICAL PROSECUTIONS OF KARL ROVE by Project Save Justice

In the hands of renowned filmmaker John McTiernan, director of the Hollywood blockbusters, Predator, The Hunt for Red October, and the Die Hard trilogy, The Political Prosecutions of Karl Rove offers a documented record of the pervasive misuse of the Justice Department.

Sadly, as the film documents, Democrats were targeted at all levels of the system and in many states across the country. The film reveals startling evidence supporting the use of the U.S. Department of Justice to create a permanent Republican majority. In fact, statistics show that in the 15 months leading up to the 2008 general election, indictments of elected Democrats increased by nearly 50%.

The soul-stirring documentary offers convincing evidence to indicate that a vigorous and comprehensive strategy was pursued to attack lower levels of the Democratic Party designed to completely uproot and undermine any challenges to Republican political power.

Brought to you by the Free Press, the Drexel Theater, and the Central Ohio Green Education Fund.
Drexel Theater, 2254 E. Main St. Bexley
truth@freepress.org
253-2571

Fight Back Feb 11th Poindexter History From www.wcrsfm.org

Discussion with Miles Curtis and Alex McDougal-Weber on Poindexter Village history and the discovery process. The making of a movie/documentation on the near eastside of Columbus, Ohio with the producers.

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Honoring Reagan’s legacy

Bob Fitrakis
February 7, 2011

In the United States, a country with the greatest spying apparatus in world history, 80% of it used against its own people without “probable cause,” Reagan’s legacy as a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) snitch known as “T-10” must be honored. Having our very own “first snitch” is something to be proud of in a nation dedicated to surveillance and a security-industrial complex unmatched by any Constitutional government.

We should also pay homage to Reagan for all he did to advance the rights of unnatural corporate persons. His days as a corporate shill for General Electric when the company was engaged in massive price-fixing in violation of the free market and fundamental principles of capitalism have to be acknowledged.

Reagan and his former CIA director George Herbert Walker Bush both were elected in 1966 for the first time. They both sided against natural born black citizens by adopting the racist rhetoric of “state’s rights.” So while the Kennedys and King fought for natural people, Reagan’s record demonstrates a shining commitment to Jim Crow in the U.S. and in support of the racist apartheid regime in South Africa.

On the hundredth anniversary of Reagan’s birth we must enshrine in our hearts where Reagan kicked off his campaign on August 3, 1980 in his first post-convention speech after being nominated for president by the Republican Party. He proclaimed, “I believe in state’s rights” in Philadelphia, Mississippi. This quote should be played everywhere, must like his Mr. Gorbachev “Tear down this wall” quote.

The public needs to view the Gipper mouthing gibberish about state’s rights a few miles from where the three civil rights martyrs James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan and left in a swamp.

Reagan’s words were not lost on Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke who announced that Reagan’s platform sounded like it was written by a Klansman.

To be fair to Reagan, it was not simply racism he embraced with enthusiasm during the height of the civil rights movement. His hatred of the student movement and the “hippie movement” was equally intense. In 1966, as he ran for office, he displayed that legendary Reagan wit in what was considered a real knee-slapper of a joke. He’d break the ice before rabid right-wing crowds by saying “What is a hippie? A hippie talks like Tarzan, looks like Jane, smells like Cheetah.”

Here, perhaps we should defer to Reagan because of his co-starring with the chimp Bonzo, in one of his few leading roles.

In the same way Reagan launched his presidential campaign with a direct appeal to racist southern white Dixiecrats, his 1966 campaign for governor of California targeted the University of California Berkeley free speech and peace activists. Because 18, 19 and 20-year-old students demanded First Amendment rights. Reagan’s campaign rhetoric demanded that they be punished: “Get them out of there. Throw them out. They are spoiled and don’t deserve the education they are getting.”

In the infamous clash at People’s Park where students had taken over a vacant field to plant food and flowers, Governor Reagan intervened by sending in the National Guard. On “Bloody Thursday” in May of 1969, Reagan got his highly-sought “bloodbath” when 13 people were hospitalized with shotgun wounds, three with punctured lungs, one with a shattered leg, and one James Rector shot to death while watching the riot from a rooftop. Instead of tearing down a wall, Reagan and his co-horts erected a chain-link fence to protect the Park from the hippies. One thousand demonstrators were arrested and 200 were charged with felonies.

Reagan was a snitch, a corporate shill, and represented a reactionary backlash against the civil rights and students’ rights movements. Yet, that’s the most impressive part of his legacy.

As President, he represents other even more devastating accomplishments. His policies in Central America targeted the rape of nuns and the assassination of Catholic priests who opposed fascistic pro-U.S. governments in Guatemala and El Salvador. During Iran-Contra he backed the vicious and violent former Somoza guardsmen known as the Contras. Reagan proclaimed them the moral equivalent of our founding fathers as they ran planeloads of cocaine into America’s inner cities.

At the same time, Reagan forced the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression by squeezing the money supply in 1981-82 and destroying what little remained of America’s industrial base in places like Detroit, Buffalo, Cleveland and Youngstown.

Reagan was “Mr. Outsourcing.” He loved sending jobs to Mexico and China while hiding behind the American flag. And while calling himself a fiscal conservative, he tripled the debt of the United States, which was $800 billion – from George Washington to Jimmy Carter. He did this by doubling military spending and destroying the industrial tax base in the country while giving unprecedented tax breaks to his multimillionaire buddies.

Reagan did have one policy for the inner cities. He would release moldy old cheese infested with rat feces, if you were willing to wait in line for hours in Detroit and other distressed areas.

To cap his presidential regime, Reagan would promote the rise of jihadi-ism and Islamic fundamentalism by secretly backing the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.

To truly honor Reagan, we must pay him his due. He is the founder of Al Qaeda, the father of the most extensive military-industrial complex on the planet, and the creator of the prison-industrial that imprisons in the U.S. a quarter of the people on Earth.

While the Soviets tore down their wall and outlawed the death penalty, Reagan led the U.S. into a racist, class-based ethnic-cleansing he called the “war on drugs.” So, while his Contra friends ran cocaine and the afgani opium warlords brought unprecedented heroin traffic to the U.S., anyone with a joint risked imprisonment and losing their financial aid, under Ronald Reagan.

When you honor Reagan, you honor this legacy.


Dr. Bob Fitrakis is Editor & Publisher of The Free Press (https://freepress.org), which first published this article.

Saturday, February 12, 2011 – Free Press Second Saturday Salon

Saturday, February 12, 2011 – Free Press Second Saturday Salon
6:30PM-11:30PM. Relaxing time to socialize and network with fellow progressive activists. Some food, some drink, some music. Presentation of video on near east side housing issues. We will also be organizing for the peace march happening in Columbus this March. Come and have fun!
1021 E. Broad St., side door, parking in rear
614-253-2571
truth@freepress.org