You May Be A Redneck If You Care I Am A SOCIALIST

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 11/06/2008 - 20:18.

Since the start of the Bush/Cheney Regime, and especially since 9/11, I have felt very uncomfortable being personally associated with public "movements" and "organizations" against war and for peace and liberty, much less for "socialism", knowing expressing support for such interests is defined as "unpatriotic" and "un-American", and a trigger for government surveillance, in the neo-Con Era. I'm sure we of realneo have FBI files, and our emails and phone calls may be tracked. I don't care, anymore... none of that matters, now that Obama has been elected and we are within days of throwing the haters out of office and digging into the data they have been tracking. I know we are near enough to the return of free speech that even if we are added to some "Code Red" list now, it will be erased within a few months. And, we shall set people's records straight, and shall determine the extent to which Bush and his team should be prosecuted for violation of our civil rights and liberties.

So, when I received an email from might-be-a-socialist Steve Cagan titled "Join me in this historic moment!", asking for activism for Latin America, I was pleased to "Sign the Petition" he suggested, even though it associates me by name with an organization and beliefs that oppose neo-Con American policies and would be cause for concern from current American leadership, AKA Bush/Cheney. In doing this, it felt like suddenly civil "disobedience" is legal again. Here's Steve's message... check out the petition... you may want to disobey Bush/Cheney, and encourage peace and good policy for President Obama, as well...

As I said yesterday, I think we need to be proactive and support grassroots efforts to keep or put Barack Obama on the right path on a number of issues-- here's an easy way to contribute to that that I just got.


In this election, the people of the United States of America demonstrated their desire for policy change at home and abroad. I just signed an important message to President-Elect Barack Obama, urging him to ensure that his message of change translates into real policy change for our neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean. Please join me in signing a six-point plan for the Change We Need for Latin America.

You can sign the petition at


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As I said yesterday...

November 5th was a remarkable day, as friends shared overwhelmed feelings about astounding results to long years of struggles. One I especially like, and share, is from Steve Cagan... a great photographer and freedom fighter and about the only other person I know who thinks and says, as do I... "Obama is not the candidate I would have, if I could have what I wanted.
He’s not the radical that the Republicans, and some in the media, have
accused him of being—unfortunately.

Here are all Steve's moving thoughts about the election, adding to this great record of our shared experience at this revolutionary moment in all our lives!

Why I am so moved and happy about the election.
Wednesday, Nov 5
Hi Everyone,
This morning, I heard a description of the victory party in Chicago last night on the radio. A reporter for National Public Radio described Jesse Jackson standing in the crowd, “tears streaming down him face.” “Well, of course,” I thought, “How could he not be overwhelmed?” 
Tuesday I spent the day as a poll watcher for the Democrats, observing two precincts in Cleveland’s near west side. I left the house before 5 AM and spent the entire day in the polling place, arriving at the house of friends to watch the results for a while after 9 PM. On the drive back to my area, I was listening to National Pubic Radio. Of course, I was pleased to hear that Obama was apparently headed for victory, but it was just short of my friends’ house, when NPR called the state of Ohio for Obama for Ohio, that I lost control, and sat in the car crying, And the truth is, I’ve been crying off and on ever since. Why has this been so emotional for me?
First, perhaps the most important personal element is something the press has perhaps noted, but not given the attention it deserves: Obama’s victory is the culmination of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. The 50s and 60s were important and formative years for us, and our personal experiences—as the ideals and values that led us into those activities and were strengthened by our participating in them—naturally inform our understanding of the meaning of this election.
I can’t think about Obama without remembering being a high school student and riding my bike to monitor the Woolworth picket lines in the Bronx. Last night and today I’ve been thinking about all the marches, the picket lines, the sit-ins, the arrests. I’ve been thinking particularly about a night in 1967, the night before the Kentucky Derby, when we sat and sang civil rights songs for hours in a big African-American church in Louisville. We had arrived from Bloomington, Indiana, with a group of fellow graduate students from Indiana University to support demonstrations around the Derby for fair-housing rights in Louisville, and while the leaders met in an office, hundreds of people clapped and sang for hours. Finally, we students were sent off to occupy the first places on the lines at the racetrack. Of course, we were arrested immediately…
That was a period of an overwhelming optimism about the future—we KNEW we were on the verge of a new world, a world we were helping to create. In later years, of course, that optimism was cruelly beaten down, in a period that began with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and, we all hope, ended yesterday.
So the strongest reason for all the emotion I’m feeling is that while in the most important sense this electoral victory is only the opening of a door which Obama and the Democrats (and all of us) may or may not actually walk through, still both symbolically and materially this election is indeed the culmination of a struggle of decades. If my arithmetic is correct, Obama wasn’t even born when the students sat down at that lunch counter—and certainly not when Rosa Parks sat down—but his election is the culmination of a stage in the struggle for justice and humanity that started back then, and that for some of us has been a central theme of our lives. How can we not weep for joy at that?
But there are more reasons to be moved, hopeful and happy. The media are fond of pointing out that Obama’s campaign was helped enormously by one hand the dismal failures of the Bush presidency and his enormous unpopularity, and of the other hand by the economic and financial crisis.
It certainly is a great thing, something to cheer us, that Bush’s presidency has been a series of fiascos. But a much more important source of joy is that a majority of the people in this country, across a wide range of categories, sectors and identities, have decided to reject the Bush policies and programs. This is a conservative country, and Ohio is unfortunately a conservative state, and as time went on, it seemed like conservative, reactionary and right-wing ideas were becoming stronger and stronger. There’s no visible Left to speak of; it’s a symptom and an example of the degradation of political discourse over the last quarter-century of conservative to right-wing rule that many people here actually refer to the Democrats as “the Left,” and that the Dems have been able to co-opt the expression “progressive,” which in my youth referred to people to the left of that predominantly center-right political party.
So to the extent that the pundits and reporters are correct, and the election of Obama represents a rejection of all that, that is not something that diminishes the significance of the victory (as they would see things), but rather offers one more reason to celebrate.
Then there’s that pesky economic crisis. Clearly, economic fears helped Obama and the Dems in general. But for me, the fact that the crisis was important in the victory offers an opening for real hope. I think the last time the Dems were swept into national office as a result of such a crisis, and as an expression of the nation’s hope for change, was in Franklin Roosevelt’s first election. FDR and the Dems back then took advantage of that to push forward a series of progressive programs and policies and to build a relatively progressive social and political alliance that endured for nearly fifty years.
Obama and the Democrats have an opportunity to do something similar. What I’m hopeful about is that the desire for change, the fear of economic disaster, the desire to be able to hope for something better, the rejection of reactionary and conservative responses (however limited and temporary that rejection may be if it’s not built upon) open the possibility for another New Deal. If the Dems understand this election provides them the possibility to develop massive public programs (yes, government spending) in infrastructure, environmental protection, conservation, education and health care, and to press forward policies that support the rights of labor; racial, gender and class equality; environmental responsibility; and people in general (not just the middle class, but the poor as well—we can hope that the voice of John Edwards will be heard in the highest Dem councils); the development of a responsible, democratic and collaborative foreign policy; if they move on these fronts where they now have some real openings, not only will they improve the lives of countless people, but they will contribute to ideological, social and political steps in the right direction.
This may be the moment to reverse the ideology of deregulation and concentration of wealth über alles. We can hope that the best among the Dems (and Obama himself is in that group) will get us out of the course that not only Republicans, but Democrats have supported for too long. Keynesianism is not my idea of the best economic theory, but it beats the hell out of what we’ve had for a quarter-century under Republicans and Democrats alike.
Obama’s victory represents the possibility of moving in that direction, like no other Dem president-elect probably since FDR. That’s why it’s significant that he got a vote that was so much better than Clinton’s; he certainly deserved it, and the fact that he got it makes it possible to hope that the Dems will really walk through that door…
I don’t delude myself. Obama is not the candidate I would have, if I could have what I wanted. He’s not the radical that the Republicans, and some in the media, have accused him of being—unfortunately. But that radical could not rise to the top of one of the political parties, and in our relatively closed electoral system, that radical can never be elected president.
I’m particularly worried about foreign policy, where the Dems do not have such a stellar record. I’m not so cheered by the notion that Obama’s victory will improve the image of the US in the rest of the world; our bad image is richly deserved, and I’m not interested in an improvement in it unless and until such a change is the result of truly positive changes in US policies and behavior.
Still, I think there’s room for hope here as well. Certainly, we can hope for Obama to be less bellicose than the string of Democratic presidents from Kennedy through Clinton (although the saber-rattling about Afghanistan is not a great sign), and at least open to the possibility of real change in US policy, though I’m sure that will depend on serious activity to keep the pressure on him.
So I have my concerns and reservations. Still, this election IS that culmination of civil rights activity. And it IS a defeat for both the Republican Party and the Democratic Leadership Council. It does provide reasons for hope, for celebration, and for real joy. Now the serious work begins to turn that hope into accomplishment.
See you in the trenches…
Best wishes, 

Disrupt IT

Photo activities in November, redux

Speaking of Cagan the great photographer...

Hi Everyone,

Well, the election is behind us, though the excitement is lingering. As
I said to many of you earlier, I’m back with a reminder of some
activities to which I’d like to invite you all. I’ve attached a sheet
with all the information, and here it is in text form as well.

And don’t worry, I’ll send out another reminder of the Canalway Reception and the open house during that week.

Best wishes,



• Exhibit: “Industrial Landscapes”
CanalWay Visitor Center, 49th Street Entrance, Ohio & Erie Canal
Reservation, Cleveland MetroParks, Cuyahoga Heights. November 1-
December 31, 9 AM-5PM Daily (The E. 49th Street entrance is between
Grant Ave. and Canal Rd. I get there by taking I-77 to the Grant Ave
exit. Go West to 49th Street, then South to the CanalWay Visitor Center

Remember when the economic health of Cleveland was centered on industry
in the Flats and other areas, rather than the “Euclid Avenue corridor?”
Throughout the months of November and December, I have an exhibit of
photographs at the CanalWay center of the Cleveland Metroparks of some
new, larger digital prints of my “Industrial Landscapes” series from
the 70s and 80s, as well as some portraits of industrial workers from
the current “Working Ohio” series (yes, there still are industrial
workers in Cleveland…).

•Reception: Thursday, November 20, from 6:30 to 9 PM, at the CanalWay
Center. If you don’t know this place, you should; it celebrates both
our industrial history and the natural history of the area, an
interesting and sometimes difficult relationship, and I’m very happy to
be showing there (again). I hope to see some of you at the reception.

• Talk: “Photographic Representation; Strengths and Pitfalls”
Nature Center at Shaker Lakes Photography Club November 13 at 7 PM.
NCSL, 2600 South Park Boulevard, Shaker Heights. (The entrance is West
of Lee on South Park and just East of No. Woodland)

The talk is on some ethical and conceptual issues in documentary
photography, illustrated with images from the history of photography
and from my own work. I’d love to see some of you there as well.

• Photo Open House
At our home (also my studio), 1751 Radnor Road, in Cleveland Heights.
Saturday and Sunday, November 22nd and 23rd from Noon to 6 PM both days.

Some of you may remember the first photo open house, about a year and a
half ago, which was a nice party, among other things. I’ll be putting
out a lot of prints from current and previous projects, as well as
books, posters and post cards. We’ll have some light refreshments, and
this will be an opportunity to look at a lot of work, and talk about
photography, as well as life, the universe and everything.

Everything will be on sale at terrific savings—anywhere from 50 to 75%
below normal costs. Not to put too fine a point on this, but in
addition to images for your own home or office you might find some good
holiday gifts, and at bargain prices.

Hope to see you there as well.

Steve Cagan, photographer
steve [at] stevecagan [dot] com
216-932-2753 (US)


Disrupt IT

Activist photography

  Now would be a good time to include sponsored links on RealNEO on the left sidebar of the screen (left--of course :)  

I would wholeheartedly endorse including Steve Cagan's work.