U.S. Politics

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NYC
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From his perch at City Hall and with the aid of both imperial wealth and an often imperious personality, Mayor Bloomberg has pushed a vision for the city that has charmed the chattering classes and confounded critics. What is the Bloomberg legacy and what progressive possibilities exist in the most unequal city in America? A conversation based on a special issue of The Nation. Featuring Doug Henwood, Kim Phillips-Fine, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Josh Freeman and The Nation's Executive Editor, Betsy Reed.
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NYC
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Congressional oversight is the hallmark of democratic accountability, and the assassination of President Kennedy marked the nullification of democracy. Senator Feinstein's recent revelations about CIA's most recent violations of separation of powers and subversion of congressional oversight demonstrates history repeating itself, and confirms it is no aberration. The publication of the Warren Report in Sep 1964 marked the onset of a steep decline of trust in American institutions, a mistrust that continues to corrode American politics. We now know the last official investigation into the President's assassination by the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979 was infiltrated and subverted by CIA, and that irreconcilable conflicts of interest were kept secret from the Committee. Lack of transparency and withholding government records undermines faith in government and Democracy itself. Thousands of pages of JFK Assassination-related documents, intended to have been released decades ago, remain withheld by CIA, and a major focus of this panel will be to expedite their release. Public pressure to declassify these 50-plus year old documents is desperately needed. The Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC), founded in 1984, is a non-profit organization comprised of leading lawyers, scientists, doctors and historians, and is dedicated to this effort. We request the help of the public.
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NYC
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American patriotic culture has often stifled, if not outright suppressed, radical voices and movements. The left, as a tradition of political critique problematizing American assumptions about history, identity, and community, has been especially vulnerable to the charge of anti-Americanism. Moreover, many of the left’s most important intellectual and political traditions—transcendentalism, anarchism, Marxism, and cosmopolitanism—offer criticisms of nation-state centered forms of democratic politics, and at least implicitly encourage dissent from patriotism. And yet, American radicals have always sought to reconstruct patriotism to deepen American democracy, often with considerable success: many of the ideas and institutions now considered unproblematic features “the American way” began as radical notions purveyed by a reviled left. Thus, a perennial challenge for left politics has been to simultaneously engage and subvert the ideology of Americanism. In this panel, we invite activists, educators, artists, and critics, all of whose work uniquely opens up spaces for challenging American national identity, to explore with us the historical, theoretical, and political dimensions of the left’s entanglement with American nationhood.
Location: 
NYC
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This workshop will be conducted by the newly formed Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA, an organization composed of journalists, attorneys, researchers, medical professionals, forensic pathologists, and others dedicate to investigating major political assassinations in the United States, and applying pressure through persuasion and legal action to promote an end to government secrecy with respect to these cases and substitute a new policy favoring transparency. This includes a commitment by the National Archives, other government agencies, and Congress to enforce the provisions of the "JFK Records Act" requiring expedited declassification of the more than 100,000 pages of JFK assassination-related records that remain classified more than 50 years after the assassination. Expert presenters (to be announced) will address the state of the evidence, the role of the media, and our Freedom of Information (FOIA)law suits regarding the JFK and other politicasl assassinations.
Location: 
NYC
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What is the historical role of social democracy? Will his supporters be herded into voting for Hilary or will they find another alternative?
Location: 
NYC
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In 1877, following the Haymarket Massacre the Chicago police formed a “red squad” to investigate radical political groups. This trend soon continued nationwide and in the early 20th Century the Justice Department even opened up a Radical Division--headed by J. Edgar Hoover. As the Radical Division eventually became the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the FBI made it a central part of their mission to surveil, disrupt, and neutralize “radical and subversive” groups. Following the mass movements of the 1960s and 1970s, the political police were put on the defensive. The FBI, as well as many local police departments, claimed to have been reformed and insisted they would no longer investigate free speech, but crime. Yet, as soon as these “reforms” were implemented, the FBI, along with local law enforcement, began using counterterrorism authorities to investigate peace groups, racial justice groups, and economic justice groups--in other words the same old targets. This panel will trace the history of the FBI, as the political police, as well as look at how in spite of claims of “reform” the FBI continues to carry on the same political investigations just using different powers. It will also examine recent cases of spying by the FBI and local law enforcement.
Location: 
NYC
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Can a number of socialist and left organizations join together and achieve a critical mass in common projects during the complex battles throughout 2012? Representatives of several organizations--CCDS, CPUSA, DSA, Freedom Road and others--will discuss and debate matters arising from the OWS insurgency, the working class fightback and the 2012 elections.
Location: 
NYC
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Groups across the spectrum have recognized that campaign finance reform is a critical component to restoring our democracy. And yet campaign finance laws are written by those who have directly benefited from them, and organized in a way to keep money flowing and influence peddled. How do we get politicians to legislate against their self-interest? Should we increase our influence with the politicians we have, replace them with the politicians we want, or is there a way to operate completely outside the system? What will it take? The panelists represent organizations with different approaches in working to reduce the influence of money on our elections. How do these approaches support or conflict with each other? Is one more effective in terms of increasing public engagement? Framing? Can a unified strategy come out of these different approaches?
Location: 
NYC
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The disconnect between American voters and their elected government has rarely been greater. Even within the 1% who so often benefit from government policy, there is deep dissatisfaction with Congress. Certain voters - such as African Americans living in southern states likely to be dominated by Republican legislatures for the next generation - are particularly excluded. But there is another disconnect: between those who are dissatisfied with politics, including the Occupy movement, and the electoral reforms drawing their energy. Too often prescriptions assume a lost "paradise" that can be "regained" through registering more voters, boosting turnout, reducing money in politics and ending gerrymandering. This panel focuses on the structural changes that can and should be won to claim democracy: not taking us backward, but forward to a modern political system where the winner-take-all walls of current politics crumble. When electing one person like a president, we need majority systems like ranked choice voting to allow new parties to seek votes without being "spoilers." When electing legislatures, we need proportional representation that allows like-minded voters to earn seats in proportion to their voting strength. These reforms are international norms - and have shown strength as reform here. The panel will detail this analysis of the problem, using New York City and its history with proportional voting as an example, and present FairVoteѓ??s roadmap for reform.
Location: 
NYC
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This panel will explore why progressive third party candidates for lower level offices (such as city council and state representative) rarely win elections and how they might win them more often. These offices commonly serve as a springboard to higher level, high profile offices (such as mayor, governor, and Congressperson). Thus, for progressive third parties, winning lower level races more frequently may be a necessary first step to truly competing for local, state and national power. There is relatively little scholarship or writing on this subject. Most literature on the problems of progressive third parties focuses on well known, extreme institutional obstacles that exist at higher electoral levels, where it is virtually impossible to win. However, such tremendous barriers donѓ??t exist in many races for lower level office. Here, ballot and financial requirements are much less stringent; the ѓ??spoilerѓ?ќ effect operates less often because many lower level races involve only one major party opponent; and overt media bias is less important because media coverage of these races is comparatively infrequent. In sum, it is unclear why progressive third party candidates donѓ??t win lower level elections more often and how this can be changed. The presentations on this panel will address that mystery. Presenters will include both those who've studied the problem and those who have relevant experience as progressive third party candidates at the grassroots level.