CI: Forward

November 07, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Eco-Justice, Economic Development, Education, Housing, Immigration, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Prisoner Rights, Spirituality, Voting Rights, Workers' Rights

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

Editors note: Next week we will be back on task -discussing the always on-going work of dismantling the PIC, made more possible now, by yesterday’s result. Today , we will celebrate the larger Victory!

We asked here for breathing room and yes we received it — many thanks to the millions who braved long lines, resisted efforts at voter suppression, defied the billions in dark money.

Yes You Did!

Thank you to OFA for creating the most relentlessly people-powered machine in the history of politics — you made it possible for us to get it done. Thanks also to President Bill Clinton and 538 Nate for #Arithmetic,  for keeping it real. And of course much love and so many thanks to Give “Em Hell Harry Reid – he told the truth and shamed the devil while his  Nevada operation put the state out of reach before the polls even opened on Tuesday.

More breathing room.

A special thank you too to Seeta Persaud for this inspiring space and to Kay Whitlock for her steady call to the bolder vision. I am indebted.

Thanks to all of you who regularly read CI and to those whose tireless work for justice is sometimes featured here. You know who you are..

There is always so much work to do and yes we will do it. Today, just a reminder of what we have achieved, in the form a piece i wrote last September, willing it all to be so. And it was.. Of course. much more happened between then and now — forces of nature, more enemy obfuscation, but the central theme holds nonetheless.

We were Called and We Delivered..

More Power to Us.


Praise Song/Prophecy

November 05, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, Intersectionality, Spirituality, Voting Rights

Praise Song/Prophecy

commentary by nancy a heitzeg

For reasons unclear to me at the time, I re-read the 2009 Inauguration poem,

“Praise Song for the Day”.

And there it was.

Not just a poem for one day, but everyday. A poem for now. A poem for tomorrow.

Not just a poem, a prophecy.

Inauguration 2013 is on January 21 – on the National Holiday that is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

We have always said here — with Leader Pelosi – “everything is at stake.”  

And so it is — that legacy too.

But We Decide and so we have – what if the mightiest word is love?”

Dreamers Prevail .

Go Vote tomorrow with Great Joy — We still walk “forward in that light.

 “Praise Song for the Day”

written and recited by Elizabeth Alexander, for the Inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama, January 20, 2009. Published by as provided by Graywolf Press.

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Artists (All of Us) For Obama

November 03, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, Civil Rights, Spirituality

LA Times: The reelection campaign for President Barack Obama is getting a modest boost from some major names in the art world — John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman, Claes Odenburg, Chris Burden and Frank Gehry.

“Artists for Obama” is a portfolio of limited edition prints and other works that will be sold to benefit the president’s campaign. Nineteen artists contributed works to the portfolio, which was created in collaboration with Gemini G.E.L., a Los Angeles art workshop and print studio…

Other contributing artists to the portfolio are Jasper Johns, Richard Tuttle, Joel Shapiro, Jonathan Borofsky, Robert Gober, Ann Hamilton, David Hammonds, Ellsworth Kelly, Brice Marden, Julie Mehretu, James Rosenquist and Susan Rothenburg.”

Complete Graphic Portfolio here

Spirit and Election 2012

November 02, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Eco-Justice, Economic Development, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Poverty, Spirituality, Voting Rights

Commentary by Kay Whitlock

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.
Siddhartha Gautama, founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.

This is an unusual Critical Mass Progress post, written because almost everyone I know is feeling psychically worn and battered by this election season. I certainly am, although I know the tide has turned and we will see any number of necessary and heartening victories – including the presidency. I hope you know that, too.

Even so, we can’t ignore what’s been happening, or its meaning as we come through the election and work to give even deeper strength to the many interdependent struggles for freedom, human rights, social and economic justice, and environmental integrity.

Constellations of psychic energy are in motion, and the most difficult ones to deal with are embedded in the onslaught of Republican/Right messages and tactics that emphasize fear, rage, resentment, enmity, racism, misogyny, heterosexism, xenophobia, brutal disdain for poor and working class people, and callous disregard for the climate and our natural environment.

Unleashed in these frenzied storms of fear and rage are mythic images and archetypes that touch us all in unconscious ways, even if we reject them: white supremacy; violent and patriarchal authoritarianism; bully boys; religious inquisitors; tricksters and confidence men (yes, men) who offer only lies, deception, and greed. And this is what’s coming cloaked in the language of faith and values. It’s clear that politicized religion either works for liberation or against it.

The Right’s messages, mythic images, and violent, emotion-soaked archetypes call out the worst in all of us – whether we reject them or, out of a desire for vicarious power over others, embrace them. They often keep us reactive to and bound within the great whorls and whirlpools and quicksand created by those who prefer an ethic of dominance and subordination.

I’m not having it. I want leaders and neighbors and colleagues to be calling out the best in us, not the worst, the smallest, the meanest. And I don’t mean just speaking out on issues. I mean calling us all to something much larger than ourselves – and to engaged, community-based organizing that goes on before, during, and after elections.

I’m no spiritual leader (hear that roar of raucous laughter from my pals and partner in the background?), but I am a person whose spirituality (Buddhism) is central to who I am. So I decided to post something here and send it out into the Great Noise because I believe that everything we say and do matters, for good or ill. I’m not doing it because I believe everyone must or should be religious or spiritual. We’re all so different, and there has to be room for us all. I’m doing it because I have to.

Many (too many) years ago, I was a member of the NGLTF’s National Religious Leadership Roundtable, representing an organization I worked for at the time. I wrote something for the NRLR for a particular event, and it’s never been used again. I’ve tweaked it somewhat and offer it here as my personal prior-to-the-election and after-the-election reflection.


The presence of Spirit, or God, is the life-giving presence of love and justice for all people and for the earth itself. The presence of Spirit, or God, is the realization, here on earth, of just and beloved community in which we celebrate the dignity and sacred worth of every person and all peoples.

The spiritual call to love and justice is a joyous call to resistance and transformation. We are called to resist the unjust beliefs, structures and practices in ourselves, in our communities, and in society that declare some categories of people superior or subordinate to others. We are called to transform by example the corrupt ethic of domination and supremacy, which justifies the social, economic, environmental, and spiritual evils of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, heterosexism, and ecological devastation.

The call to love and justice is a call to radical generosity and open-heartedness in a time of spiritual and social stinginess, greed, insularity, and indifference to the suffering of our neighbors. We reject the fearful message of scarcity and enmity preached by some who claim there are not enough civil and human rights to go around, not enough social and economic goods to meet everyone’s basic needs. Only by taking up others’ burdens of injustice and suffering along with our own will we transform the curse of fear, hatred, and human brokenness that afflicts our society in so many painful ways into the blessing of just, generous, and compassionate community.

The call to love and justice is a call to radical nonviolence in the midst of great storms of psychic, structural, physical, and economic violence. It lifts up a vision in which all of us, not only the most privileged of us, can live freely and exercise our rights and responsibilities without fear of exclusion, threat, intimidation, or violence.

The call to love and justice is a call to spiritual wholeness within our churches, synagogues, mosques, sanghas, ashrams and other sacred gathering places. Where stifling boundaries constrain our ability to claim wholeness, the call to love and justice gives us the strength to shatter them.

The call to love and justice gives us the strength necessary to lift up a bold, audacious vision of spiritual community in which all are welcome and invited to participate equally in worship, sacred ceremonies and blessings, and in which the gifts of spiritual leadership are recognized and honored in people of all races, cultures, genders, gender identities, and sexual orientations.

A commitment to love and justice is one that demands everything of us – and in return, it offers us infinite possibility. It calls us to nurture – in ourselves as well as others – the courage, integrity, kindness, and generosity necessary to create just and beloved community, in which none of us is cast aside and all of us are kin.

See you on the far side of the election.

Last Call for Early Voting

November 02, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, Voting Rights

Early voting ends on Friday in Colorado, Nevada, and Wisconsin, and on Saturday in North Carolina and Florida.

Everything You Need Right Here

United Auto Workers To File Federal Ethics Complaint Against Romney

November 01, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, Civil Rights, Economic Terrorism, Voting Rights, Workers' Rights

UAW Charges Romney With Profiteering From Auto Bailout


Toledo, Ohio – Wednesday Evening October 31, 2012

For Mitt Romney, it’s one scary Halloween. The Presidential candidate has just learned that tomorrow afternoon (November 1) he will be charged by the United Automobile Workers (UAW) and other public interest groups with violating the federal ethics in government law by improperly concealing his multi-million dollar windfall from the auto industry bailout.

At a press conference in Toledo, Bob King, President of the United Automobile Workers, will announce that his union and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) have filed a formal complaint with the US Office of Government Ethics in Washington stating that Gov. Romney improperly hid a profit of $15.3 million to $115.0 million in Ann Romney’s so-called “blind” trust.

The union chief says, “The American people have a right to know about Gov. Romney’s potential conflicts of interest, such as the profits his family made from the auto rescue. It’s time for Gov. Romney to disclose or divest.”

“While Romney was opposing the rescue of one of the nation’s most important manufacturing sectors, he was building his fortunes with his Delphi investor group, making his fortunes off the misfortunes of others,” King added.

The Romneys’ gigantic windfall was hidden inside an offshore corporation inside a limited partnership inside a trust which both concealed the gain and reduces taxes on it…..

In 2009, Ann Romney partnered with her husband’s key donor, billionaire Paul Singer, who secretly bought a controlling interest in Delphi Auto, the former GM auto parts division. Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management, threatened to cut off GM’s supply of steering columns unless GM and the government’s TARP auto bailout fund provided Delphi with huge payments. While the US treasury complained this was “extortion,” the hedge funds received, ultimately, $12.9 billion in taxpayer subsidies.

As a result, the shares Singer and Romney bought for just 67 cents are today worth over $30, a 4,000% gain. Singer’s hedge fund made a profit of $1.27 billion and the Romney’s tens of millions.

The UAW complaint calls for Romney to reveal exactly how much he made off Delphi — and continues to make. The Singer syndicate, once in control of Delphi, eliminated every single UAW job –25,000– and moved almost all auto parts production to Mexico and China where Delphi now employs 25,000 auto parts workers.

See Truthout for the back story

CI: Prisoners in the Eye of the Storms

October 31, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Judiciary, Corrupt Legislature, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights, Voting Rights

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

by Kay Whitlock

Two storms are making their way through wide swaths of this country.

The devastation being wrought by Hurricane Sandy staggers the imagination. It is almost incomprehensible in its scope, and it resurrects nightmares of Katrina.

The second storm, instigated by the Republican/corporate Right – and its current head cheerleaders, Romney/Ryan – has been building for a long time. It also wreaks havoc and devastates with its frenzies of racism, misogyny, anti-LGBTQ venom, xenophobia, and economic savagery fueled by blatant lies.

Its impacts stagger the moral and spiritual imagination.

It is axiomatic that those who suffered the worst economically before the disaster are sure to bear the heaviest brunt of the devastation in its wake.

Here are a couple of snapshots of the impacts of these storms on one of this country’s designated “most expendable” population: prisoners and former prisoners, who are disproportionately people of color and poor.

Happy Halloween: More Dirty Tricks from GOP

October 31, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, Economic Terrorism, Voting Rights

Atlantic Wire: A $5,000 Shopping Run to Walmart Turned Romney’s Campaign Stop into a ‘Relief Event’

Mitt Romney was really concerned that his “Storm Relief Event” in Kettering, Ohio yesterday would look like a dud, so he and his team stocked their donation tables with $5,000 worth of supplies at Walmart. The props, according to Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins, were things like granola bars, canned food, and diapers which were strategically placed to make sure that the photographs taken at Romney’s “Storm Relief” campaign didn’t a show very un-busy, un-stocked relief table (what else do you expect when you give people short notice to donate their canned goods?)

Heckuva Job Brownie!!!

Yesterday, ahead of the storm’s pummeling of the eastern seaboard, Brown gave an interview to the local alternative paper, the Denver Westword, on how he believed the Obama administration was responding to Sandy too quickly and that Obama had spoken to the press about Sandy’s potential effect too early.

Romney Releases Another False Ad, Revives Claim That Obama ‘Gutted’ Welfare Reform

As reporters, fact-checkers, and the directive Obama signed made abundantly clear, the welfare work requirements will remain in place even if states are granted waivers. The major change is that states will be granted more leeway in how they transition welfare recipients into jobs. That is a change sought and supported by many Republican governors, like Romney endorser Rick Snyder (MI), who said of the program, “More flexibility to governors is a good thing.”