As you may or may not be aware, I am a proud citizen of the teetering-on-the-precipice-of-disaster burg of Baltimore, Maryland. Home of Earl Weaver, William Donald Schaefer, Brooks Robinson and numerous other dead or dying Caucasian nonagenarains who were last nationally relevant in the 1980′s. As part of our tireless quirky charm (hence the name “Tireless Quirky Charm City”), our election cycle for mayor falls on odd-numbered years. I’m sure there’s a boring explanation somewhere, but basically I’m saying (by way of padding) that our mayoral election is this year.
So far, the present Mayor, whose predecessor resigned following a conviction for stealing Target Gift Cards from needy children, has been a stalwart champion of the little man. And of course, by “little man” I mean WalMart and European-style open wheel rally races (the sport of the working man- of Monaco). And lest I forget, there are the least fortunate in our nation, development firms with sufficient capital to buy “bundles” of vacant housing. Ya know, Joe Lunchpail and Johnny BuyALargeChunkOfRealEstateWithCash.
Meanwhile, a few prominent challengers (Otis Rolley and Jody Landers) have emerged, both with visions. Blurry, baffling visions in which a city that constantly kvetches about being flat broke can solve its problems buy making massive cuts to the revenue stream of the same. Rolley has been quoted as wanting to cut the property taxes by fifty percent over eight years. Of course, anti-tax horseshit aside, this raises a more nagging question- how would this benefit the nearly 50% of the citizenry who don’t own their homes?
Look, I understand that for people who owned black and white TVs and phones with dials, owning a home is the end-all-be-all of human existence. But for most young working people, the idea of coming up with ten to twenty grand for a down payment is as laughable as the idea of running a European-styled motor race through the downtown of a majority-black city. As such, it is completely tone deaf in an era when ALL city residents are receiving reduced services due to allegedly slumping revenues to parade around promising tax cuts that will in no way benefit a large segment of the city’s population.
You know who WILL benefit from a big cut in property taxes? Tom Clancy. And of course, all of his millionaire buddies who own waterfront condos. Condos that, I’m sure, have private security and ADT to compensate for the fact that there won’t be any cops around if there’s an issue. And who needs public schools when you have private tutors? Tutors who, hopefully, don’t mind that the welfare of their city is being flushed down the drain because every single one of our city’s politicians is still in the thrall of Reagan’s siren song of trickle down drivel. I really dearly wish that I lived in a world where HALF of the voting population would merit at least a passing mention from one so-called “serious” contender for the top job in Baltimore.
Oh, by the way, did I mention that ALL of these guys are Democrats? Of course they are.
A few weeks ago a good friend turned me on to this series by Errol Morris, “The Ashtray”. I’ve collated the 5 parts here: 1) The Ultimatum, 2) Shifting Paradigms, 3) Hippasus of Metapontum, 4) The Author of the “Quixote”, and 5) This Contest of Interpretation. The same Errol Morris who made The Fog of War and Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control.
It’s a good read. Morris approaches the essays with a documentarian’s eye for the drama of the mundane and snippets of dialog with an array of pertinent personages. Morris cuts right to the chase, explaining the obscure title of the series in the first paragraph.
It was April, 1972. The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N. J. The home in the 1950s of Albert Einstein and Kurt Gödel. Thomas Kuhn, the author of “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and the father of the paradigm shift, threw an ashtray at my head.
Apparently, Kuhn was a bit peeved that his student (Morris) would dare attend a lecture by Saul Kripke. Morris reworks the incident throughout The Ashtray, weaving it through Pythagorean myth and legend concerning an alleged murder of Hippasus of Metapontum to illuminate his interpretation of why Kuhn became so stuck on his own notion of incommensurable paradigms in science. All the while tempting the reader to consider whether Kuhn really meant what we have come to believe his words mean, or whether Kuhn ended up defending the interpretation of others.
So I was driving home from work, listening to the Marc Steiner Show (one of Baltimore’s few places to find actual progressive viewpoints represented). He was interviewing two Maryland State Senators (here’s the segment). Paul Pinsky, representing Prince George’s County (a semi-well-to-do suburban county enveloping the poorer areas of Washington D.C.) is a left-of-center progressive, somewhere in the same territory as Jeff Merkley or Frank Lautenberg). On the conservative side was the gently-airbrushed David Brinkley, representing Carrol and Frederick Counties (places where one can still feel free to fly the stars and bars and perhaps woo one’s first cousin). Brinkley’s positions were reminiscent of Paul Ryan or Joe Liberman- willing to acknowledge progressive points and then completely ignoring them on the way to asinine groveling before the corporate hegemony.
The exchange was the usual blah blah blah wherein Pinksy would make excellent points about fending off brutal austerity with tax hikes on the wealthy, and Brinkley would counter with “but we’re broke so people need to suffer”. Then, suddenly, Brinkley made a truly absurd argument. As I am too lazy to transcribe, I will simply relay his stated idea- that somehow, by raising taxes on millionaires, the state legislature would scare them away.
Immediately Pinsky countered, pointing out that in the state’s most affluent county, Montgomery (home of Chris Van Hollen and the largest concentration of Sierra Club and NPR bumper stickers this side of the Mississippi) has the best schools in the state and the best maintained roads because, in fact, the millionaires who live there pay taxes. They, in effect, get what they pay for. Read the rest of this entry »
Apparently the guy who delivered his state’s budget directly to the Tea Party is, mysteriously, finding some difficulty governing:
The governor doesn’t understand there is a State Constitution and that we have three branches of government,” said State Senator Mike Fasano, a Republican from New Port Richey who upset Mr. Scott with rough handling of his staff during a testy committee hearing. “They are talking about the attitude that he is still the C.E.O. of his former health care corporation, and that is not going to work in this state, in Tallahassee, in my district. The people believe in three branches of government.”
Republican lawmakers in Florida were hoping for a smoother transition. Instead, they say, they got top-down management from a political novice.
Who knew?! Apparently a candidate who hates the way government works and panders to loons who want to privatize the police department, once elected, can’t be counted on to participate in a centuries old process of governance.
In a Bizzaro World version of “bite the hand that feeds you”, newspapers and broadcast media loves to love social networking. Watch any newscast for 10 minutes and you’re guaranteed a reference to either the Twitter account or Facebook fan page for whichever bobblehead is gabbing at you at the moment. Newspapers are also quite enamored with the social networking fad.
As you may have noticed (if you haven’t, simply search Google News), most mainstream outlets are attempting to completely ignore the massive wave of actions that took place today nationwide- both the US Uncut actions against Bank of America (the DC protest reportedly caused the branch to close early) and the solidarity actions arranged by MoveOn.org and other liberal groups.
How can the movement for social justice use this to our advantage? Simple- scream at old media over the internet until they notice. Of course, by “scream”, I mean “politely point out”. There are still many in the traditional media (shout out to Dan Rodricks here in Baltimore) who are at least willing to hear out those who support the cause of the working people.
For starters, here’s a list of news organization Twitter accounts. Simply searching “[news organization] Twitter” or the name of the news organization on Facebook will almost always garner results. The best part of social media (especially Twitter) is that (as long as everyone is well mannered), the access to the person on the other end is instant AND public. Add your city’s hashtag to a tweet asking why there’s no US Uncut coverage (i.e. “Hey @NewsChannel88, why no coverage of #USUncut here in #Springfield?”) can alert other like-minded users in your town that a question’s been asked and needs an answer. If you’re somehow unfamiliar with Twitter or Facebook, guides for both can be found here and here.
Whenever a story (such as the two major ones developing today) appears to be going un-noticed, feel free to gently remind your local news media that, in fact, things are happening and they should mention it. The more local the outlet, the better. Local talk radio hosts tend to be all over Twitter, as do local NPR affiliates.
The concurrent (and one hopes, soon to be merged) movements against the plutocracy will only gain momentum if enough people are made aware of them. Local traditional media outlets are one excellent way to spread the word.
So for once in my life I get to use the phrase: “Good News Everyone” and not mean it in a sarcastic way. Today I witnessed what may be just the beginning of an actual change of direction in this country- one not, of course, catalyzed by a Democrat or a Republican, but one that starts from the ground up.
For too many years progressives have been either content to sit on their hands and let right wing loons be the only voice heard by the media, or have been convinced by the same corporate media that their views are out of the mainstream. However, the events unfolding in the midwest may be inspiring liberals to get off the bench and into the game- to be both seen and heard.
This photo was taken in Annapolis, at a solidarity rally held by the Maryland and DC AFL-CIO. While this may not be 80,000 strong in Madison, the following should be noted:
- Maryland is a state with a Democratic governor and a Democratic legislature- while there are always ridiculous demands for concessions due to a fiscal crisis which was caused by banks playing Vegas Dream with other people’s money- there’s no immediate threat of the nature facing Wisconsin public employees. This was purely a show of solidarity
- The tea party contingent, such as it was, consisted of about a dozen stragglers whose most creative chant consisted of “We’re Broke” and “Broke is Broke”. Apparently, they’re broke
- This was the middle of a work day after an ice/snow storm, which is typical for Wisconsin in June, but for Maryland can cause major traffic issues
I was there, and between rank and file union members and their supporters there were more than one hundred working people standing in Lawyers Mall in downtown Annapolis. Across the street- about 20 Tea Party “counter demonstrators” were shipped in from clear across the state to obstruct a sidewalk and feign relevance. Of course, the local media pretended that both protests were of equal import. Regardless, labor was on the scene and the local media did take notice.
Regardless, this could really be the start of a greater movement to counterbalance the tea party. If only labor would join forces with the burgeoning US Uncut movement.
Additionally, Gibson says certain US Uncut participants have reached out to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in order to bridge the divide between liberalism’s two great abandoned resource pools: the poor and labor.
Oh. Well, isn’t that something?
A certain grifter once said, “we are the ones we have been waiting for” (in reference to what basically amounted to a faux grassroots movement designed to supplant one group of corporatist lackeys with another). It turns out that, for those of us waiting for actual hope in change, that the labor movement is who we’ve been waiting for. With so many “Real Americans” (h/t Digby) in the spotlight fighting back against predatory capitalism, maybe the wait is finally over.