In Southern Spain, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, mayor of the small town of Marinaleda, is helping organize a growing protest movement against the austerity measures imposed by the Spanish government. Sánchez Gordillo and the landless peasants that follow him are at the forefront of demonstrations seeking a radical change in the country’s economic policies in response to the country’s worsening crisis.
Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo has become the face of the growing protest movement in Spain. The mayor of a small town in Southern Spain called Marinaleda, he has become well-known for leading combative protests and sit-ins, including a protest in a supermarket in which food was taken and redistributed to the poor. But Sánchez Gordillo has backed up his critiques of capitalism with a viable alternative. In his town of Marinaleda, there is full employment, people rent homes for 15 Euros a month, and everybody who works in the agricultural cooperative that was formed, including the mayor, earns the same salary.
This article speaks for itself, from the NY Times:
Some on Wall Street viewed the protesters with disdain, and a degree of caution, as hundreds marched through the financial district on Friday. Others say they feel their pain, but are befuddled about what they are supposed to do to ease it. A few even feel personally attacked, and say the Occupy Wall Street protesters who have been in Zuccotti Park for weeks are just bitter about their own economic fate and looking for an easy target. If anything, they say, people should show some gratitude.
“Who do you think pays the taxes?” said one longtime money manager. “Financial services are one of the last things we do in this country and do it well. Let’s embrace it. If you want to keep having jobs outsourced, keep attacking financial services. This is just disgruntled people.”
He added that he was disappointed that members of Congress from New York, especially Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, had not come out swinging for an industry that donates heavily to their campaigns. “They need to understand who their constituency is,” he said.
and this bit:
John Paulson, the hedge fund titan who made billions in the financial crisis by betting against the subprime mortgage market, has been the exception. His Upper East Side home was picketed by demonstrators earlier this week, but Mr. Paulson offered a full-throated defense of the Street, even going so far as to defend the tiny sliver of top earners attacked by the Occupy Wall Street protesters — whose signs refer to themselves as “the other 99 percent.”
“The top 1 percent of New Yorkers pay over 40 percent of all income taxes, providing huge benefits to everyone in our city and state,” he said in a statement. “Paulson & Company and its employees have paid hundreds of millions in New York City and New York State taxes in recent years and have created over 100 high-paying jobs in New York City since its formation.”
Mr. Paulson’s point is moot: wealth is impossible without taxpayer funded infrastructure and paying 12-15% on a billion earned is not enough to keep the wealth engine going. At the same time, no human being can spend more than $50 million a year, tops, without some kind of psychological problem. Above some number, the needs of society at large to provide health care (45,000 Americans a year die needlessly because they can’t afford it), clean water, a solid public education (so everyone has the same chance for development), and all the rest, at some point the needs of society trump Mr. Paulson’s apparent need for every last dollar.
It’s another example, perhaps, of well-educated people who are incompetent. They’re good to great at pushing money around, maybe, if you don’t count what happened in 2008. Oh, they’re great at taxpayer bailouts, especially when Wall Street wives are allowed to get in on the gravy train. That’s true.
But they’re incompetent when it comes to the big picture: no mention that 80% of income gains from 1980 to 2005 went to the top 1%, no mention from 1945 to 1980 all income groups doubled their income while 1980 to 2008 all but the top 1% saw income gains above 50% (and the top 1% had income gains from 240% to 400%). No mention of the many ways wages have been suppressed for three decades. No mention that these greed heads exist in any society larger than themselves. That’s incompetence.
Maybe it is time for a revolution. Sadly, and completely needlessly.
But I do love the unnamed money manager (the Times, practicing excellent journalistic skills again!) calling out New York’s two Senators for not kissing Wall Street’s ring. And notice the Times can’t bother to note Paulson (“the hedge fund titan,” an uncritical suckup phrase) was Treasury Secretary who screamed for and got taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street, presumably working for Wall Street all the while paid by taxpayers, presumably knowing about alternatives to bailouts that historically have yielded better results, for example, letting banks fail then nationalizing them and bringing in new management then selling the banks off in 5-10 years.
That’s de-luxe journalism right there. Shame on their editor. Then again, maybe the Times editor lives in the same building as Mr. Paulson, who knows? Comic is from the Times, too, their sense of humor apparently being better than their journalism in this case.
From a very odd hit piece at Reuters, of all places:
Anti-Wall Street protesters say the rich are getting richer while average Americans suffer, but the group that started it all may have benefited indirectly from the largesse of one of the world’s richest men.
There has been much speculation over who is financing the disparate protest, which has spread to cities across America and lasted nearly four weeks. One name that keeps coming up is investor George Soros, who in September debuted in the top 10 list of wealthiest Americans. Conservative critics contend the movement is a Trojan horse for a secret Soros agenda.
Soros and the protesters deny any connection. But Reuters did find indirect financial links between Soros and Adbusters, an anti-capitalist group in Canada which started the protests with an inventive marketing campaign aimed at sparking an Arab Spring type uprising against Wall Street. Moreover, Soros and the protesters share some ideological ground.
“I can understand their sentiment,” Soros told reporters last week at the United Nations about the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, which are expected to spur solidarity marches globally on Saturday.
Pressed further for his views on the movement and the protesters, Soros refused to be drawn in. But conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh summed up the speculation when he told his listeners last week, “George Soros money is behind this.”
Note this line: “There has been much speculation over who is financing the disparate protest …”
Yeah? Who is speculating? Republicans certainly. Most likely neo-liberal Democrats who cater to the wealthy (that would be you, Mr. Obama, with the recent trade deals, among other Democrats). The whole article is built on following up this self-interested gossip. However, the Reuters journalists are too lazy and inept to bother to clarify this key point.
If they did clarify, there would be no hit piece. The piece, instead, might be about how Republican and Democratic politicians are threatened by these protests, forced between supporting the status quo and the 1% and changing course to support the 99% who have been ignored for decades. Do you rush through trade deals supported by Big Money or do you pass a jobs bills with no payroll tax cuts to Social Security? Journalists should ask Obama and Congress members exactly this question: How can you pass treaties friendly to Big Money that has questionable impact on US jobs (otherwise you’d not need millions for retraining) when people are out in the streets protesting they’ve had enough? Why a jobs bill that helps gut Social Security with payroll tax cuts when millions of elderly people can’t live without it? Why cut Medicare instead of returning the tax rate on extreme wealth to the 1945 to 1975 tax rates of 65-90%?
There’s also some amazing projection going on here, especially with Limbaugh. The right, starting with Freedom Works and amplified by Fox, Roger Ailes, and other parts of the Republican Borg literally created the Tea Party overnight with lots of immediate funding and media amplification. Apparently, they cannot imagine any equally passionate protest without astroturfing. The idea that mildly connected groups could tap into the zeitgeist is beyond their conception. Perhaps because they’re used to controlling everything in their world (the aristocratic, top down, Strict Father mindset).
What’s disturbing is that Reuters would publish this sort of trash. Turns out that Soros donated to a group, the Tides Center, which gets funding from different sources, then Tides donated money to Adbusters. That’s their journalistic evidence that Big Money, the Liberal Edition, controls Occupy Wall Street.
The reality is that Big Money, the Republican Edition, plus Big Business plus their lobbyist lackeys and wholly owned politicians finally trashed the country long enough to piss off enough people. Enough that a bunch of people saying they’re fed up resonates throughout this country. If Reuters wants to practice serious journalism, they should focus on the reasons Republicans are so convinced Occupy Wall Street is secretly funded (perhaps because the Tea Party is, by Republicans?) and why so many Americans are upset with the status quo. Reuters has fallen for the Republican frame, “this thing is so big it must be secretly controlled by a few people with money.” Once you buy into this frame, and you find George Soros, you can invalidate the protests and the reasons for the protests. With Reuters helping do your dirty work.
Reuters would do better to tell the stories of the 99% who are being screwed. Plus the stories of the winners, the 1%, how they live in shameless excess while 45,000 Americans a year die for the crime of not being able to afford health care. The facts are out there, easy to find, easy to see.
Found some more interesting coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests, in case you’ve not seen these stories.
First, from the NY Daily News, some great context for NYPD arresting 1,000 people and counting so far, in Denis Hamill’s piece, Different rules for Occupy Wall Street marchers & that makes me mad as hell:
I thought of [Paddy] Chayefsky when MAD-AS-HELL young people filled the streets of the Middle East in the Arab Spring, toppling scummy leaders, as we in the west cheered. The same way we cheered when brave young people filled Tiananmen Square. The way we saluted the East Germans breaching the Berlin Wall.
But when a swelling tide of harmless MAD-AS-HELLERS calling themselves Occupy Wall Street overtakes Zuccotti Park to inveigh against the swindlers, fat cats and “banksters” of Wall Street we arrest them.
Pundits mock them for not having leaders, a united message, a political platform. Maybe that’s because it was egghead economists with grand plans and crooked politicians with self-serving platforms that got us where we are today. Forgive these angry young people if they don’t follow the beat of the same broken drum.
They’re just MAD-AS-HELL.
Misunderstanding their scattered frustrations is one thing. But did we really have to pen them like flounder in orange nets and bus them to Rikers because they dared to march across the Brooklyn Bridge?
Excuse me, when I was a young reporter in the mid-1970s I remember cops marching across the Brooklyn Bridge to protests Mayor Abe Beame laying off cops and other municipal workers.
On Sept. 16, 1991, I covered a mob of 10,000 furious city cops storming across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall to protest the establishment of a police monitor. Some of those cops stomped across parked cars, jumped police barricades, assaulted journalists, and mobbed the steps of City Hall chanting, “Take the Hall, Take the Hall,” some referring to Mayor David Dinkins as “a men’s room attendant.”
Mayoral candidate Rudy Giuliani addressed them like a firebrand, using the word “bull—-,” to describe Dinkins policies.
But I didn’t see cops rounded up in orange nets like the catch of the day. Didn’t see 700 of them bussed off to Rikers in cuffs.
In 2001 cops again marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest against Mayor Giuliani who’d used the NYPD cops, the best in the world, to mark his place in history by cutting crime in half and then stiffed them on a pay raise.
Funny, I don’t remember the NYPD locking up police protesters that day either.
I don’t think they should have. As a child of the ’60s I’m all for anyone marching and protesting to be heard.
But why the hell is NYPD brass so afraid of these nonviolent, MAD-AS-HELL Occupy Wall Streeters?
This is terrific context people should highlight early and often with these protests: there is a huge double standard at work here. The police, who are part of the 99% being oppressed by the status quo, were only too eager to do what they’re locking people up for today. The police should be held accountable. Read the rest of this entry »
Have you noticed the Occupy Wall Street protests have suddenly gone mainstream? Maybe there is some hidden 14 day or 15 day or 18 day trigger that only the media knows about before they’ll cover protests that challenge their view of the world.
More seriously, here is a quick round up of what I’ve seen that people may want to discuss. Feel free to add yours in comments or posts.
First, a silly meme from MSNBC, Wall Street rallies could be left’s Tea Party:
Born on the streets of New York, growing protests aimed at the heart of capitalism have sparked hope among liberals that they’re witnessing the birth of a movement to counter the conservative Tea Party.
The pieces are all there: ordinary citizens banding together for a cause; signs and protests announcing their grievances. Could the nation be witnessing the creation of a new political uprising?
The “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations started last month in New York and have since spread across the country, born out of anger toward the financial community’s success during a time of prolonged economic hardship.
Liberals are optimistic that those protests will translate into the kind of lasting political movement achieved over the last two years by the Tea Party, which helped reshape the trajectory of American politics, particularly within the Republican Party.
Yeah I saw the Koch brothers on the street the other day, passing out wads of money to the protestors, didn’t you? And there’s an astroturf organization with some clever Orwellian name that organizes these protests, right? This meme seems a great fit for Fox where I also heard at least one talking head saying this with a straight face. However, getting Bernie Sanders to say Obama should co-opt these protests is bizarre and out of touch with what is happening with the protests and in the country. Obama is part of the problem. Read the rest of this entry »
Inside Amazon.com’s Warehouse, from the The Morning Call in Lehigh, Pennsylvania:
Elmer Goris spent a year working in Amazon.com’s Lehigh Valley warehouse, where books, CDs and various other products are packed and shipped to customers who order from the world’s largest online retailer.
The 34-year-old Allentown resident, who has worked in warehouses for more than 10 years, said he quit in July because he was frustrated with the heat and demands that he work mandatory overtime. Working conditions at the warehouse got worse earlier this year, especially during summer heat waves when heat in the warehouse soared above 100 degrees, he said.
He got light-headed, he said, and his legs cramped, symptoms he never experienced in previous warehouse jobs. One hot day, Goris said, he saw a co-worker pass out at the water fountain. On other hot days, he saw paramedics bring people out of the warehouse in wheelchairs and on stretchers.
Wait, it gets worse:
Over the past two months, The Morning Call interviewed 20 current and former warehouse workers who showed pay stubs, tax forms or other proof of employment. They offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it’s like to work in the Amazon warehouse, where temperatures soar on hot summer days, production rates are difficult to achieve and the permanent jobs sought by many temporary workers hired by an outside agency are tough to get.
Only one of the employees interviewed described it as a good place to work.
Workers said they were forced to endure brutal heat inside the sprawling warehouse and were pushed to work at a pace many could not sustain. Employees were frequently reprimanded regarding their productivity and threatened with termination, workers said. The consequences of not meeting work expectations were regularly on display, as employees lost their jobs and got escorted out of the warehouse. Such sights encouraged some workers to conceal pain and push through injury lest they get fired as well, workers said.
During summer heat waves, Amazon arranged to have paramedics parked in ambulances outside, ready to treat any workers who dehydrated or suffered other forms of heat stress. Those who couldn’t quickly cool off and return to work were sent home or taken out in stretchers and wheelchairs and transported to area hospitals. And new applicants were ready to begin work at any time.
An emergency room doctor in June called federal regulators to report an “unsafe environment” after he treated several Amazon warehouse workers for heat-related problems. The doctor’s report was echoed by warehouse workers who also complained to regulators, including a security guard who reported seeing pregnant employees suffering in the heat.
This story caught my attention because this summer we stopped into a town in this area, with the silly name of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. They have Thorpe’s body, for now, outside of town along the main drag. But what interested me more was the labor history of the Lehigh Valley when the town was called Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk. It’s a truly odd little town visually. It looks like a British town from the Victorian era. There are a couple mansions of the owners of the coal mines in the area, propped on the highest hills in town, next to a cemetery with gaudy over the top mausoleums. One of the mansions served as a model for Disney’s Haunted Mansion. The town also was the site of a trial (and hanging) of some Molly Maguires. At least some of the executions were done to cow the mine workers, apparently, by hanging innocent workers. Same as it ever was, according to the above article.
However, what really got my attention is that the source of this article link, the Too Much newsletter, mentions that Jeff Bezos, the head of Amazon.com, is #13 on the recent Forbes 400 list. In 2011, in other words, we have one of the wealthiest people in the country oppressing some of the poorest workers to squeeze even more money from his company. And doing so in a very deliberate and evil way, by taking advantage of the fact people desperately need jobs, to prevent them from being paid well, working in humane conditions, and being able to lead a middle class life. Think about that the next time you buy from Amazon (better yet, don’t buy from them). We truly are back in the 1800s. We’ve learned nothing.
Equally important, these “Occupy” protests should be all about exposing this sort of exploitation. When a journalist asks a protester what they’re doing, they should have a piece of paper in hand with links to this sort of outrage and ask the journalist what prevents them from covering these stories? Why are they here, covering the protest, when they should be investigating and writing about how these elites are sucking the country dry by exploiting hard working people. For my taste, that’s what is missing in these protests. There are plenty of scandals. We (somewhat) have the media’s attention. What we need to do is demand the media cover how predatory and destructive people like Bezos and Amazon really are. Among other goals, protests should be about forcing the media to show Americans what this country has become, and who has made it this way.
And last, but not least, where are the labor unions in this story? How come they aren’t raising holy hell? Amazon pre-arranged to have ambulances outside the warehouse door because they did not want to bother to pay to lower the heat inside: that’s criminal, in my view. Labor unions should run ads nationally to shame Amazon. And any other company that does the same to working people.
What if you had a protest and no one bothered to notice? Today at lunch I walked up Broad Street to find a small pen full of neatly dressed airline pilots, marching up and down the street in silence, holding protest signs but zero indication of which airline. It was rather odd theater, in a way. Even more weird, several blocks away, on a side street, I came across another hundred or so pilots, also dressed neatly, also silent, but marching to relieve their compatriots in the pen on Broad Street. I wondered if it was street theater, the pristine “costumes,” the total silence, the marching in a pen made up on all sides of heavy metal barricades, the lack of any signs indicating who they worked for.
Turns out that they’re protesting the pace of the merger between United and Continental (IBT, Reuters). We’ll see if they get more coverage tomorrow but I doubt it. I didn’t even realize United and Continental were merging. Which of course means layoffs, downward pressure on wages, higher prices, and outsized payouts to the senior executives and the companies handling the merger.
Welcome to America. Workers are silenced even when they protest, forced into neat little pens, with only passing media coverage.
Protesters barricaded roads and burned tires in parts of Chile’s capital on Wednesday as a two-day national strike began against unpopular President Sebastian Pinera, but mining in the world’s top copper producer was not disrupted.
The strike, called by Chile’s main umbrella labor union CUT and coming on the heels of huge demonstrations by students demanding free education, got off to a slow start and the government said 95 percent of public workers ignored the call.
Protesters have clashed with police in recent weeks as hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to rail against conservative billionaire Pinera and demand greater trickle down of wealth spurred by a copper price boom.
Public transportation was running and banks were open. While some miners said they supported the strike, operations at some of the world’s biggest copper mines were not affected. But pockets of protest erupted across the capital and in Chile’s main cities.
Stone-throwing protesters clashed with police in full riot gear who responded with water cannon and tear gas in several Chilean cities, and police said dozens of protesters had been detained.
However, most of the protests were peaceful, with groups banging pots and pans in front of the Santiago municipality in a cacerolazo, a traditional form of protest in Latin America.
“In Cuba I can study for free, but in Chile..?” read one placard held aloft on a pedestrian avenue in downtown Santiago, as protesters waved Chilean red, white and blue flags, danced and blew whistles.
When do we do the same? And notice this story, despite water cannons and tear gas, has not made the news (Google News has only about 165 stories on the topic, none from major US media). The Chileans, at least, understand the “machine” of their economy is broken, needs repairs, and are willing to demand change. Here? Well Steve Jobs resigned, did you hear? Hurricane Irene is threatening the Eastern Seaboard. Oh, and Kimmy (Kardashian) is talking about a second wedding, this time in NYC …
Go Bernie, go. Can we draft Bernie to run against Obama in the Democratic party? Honestly, he’s the only politician who says anything, ANYTHING, about the impact of all this debt ceiling hoo hah has on real Americans, the 99% of us who are not millionaires. He even uses the word immoral. Which clearly means Bernie is out of touch.
Excellent smackdown of the media and economists and politicians who are not in touch with real people and what they have to deal with every day. It’s also a rhetorical road map for any real progressive at the federal and state level who wants to win in November 2012, whether running for State Assembly or President or Governor.
From Senator Sanders YouTube Channel.
UPDATE: Kudos to the Wall Street Journal opinion page for publishing a version of Sanders’ speech. If you’re like me and refuse to pay money to Rupert Murdoch, the full opinion piece also is on Senator Sanders’ website. While I doubt his viewpoint will prevail, it’s great to see it get some hearing. Then again, read the comments on WSJ.com and you’ll see there’s a hard core of people who refuse to realize what will happen if the middle class gets wise and, like the rich, also refuse to pay taxes that go to build courthouses, roads, bridges, and all the rest. We’ll see how that works out.
Not all of it, of course, but three crucial tests for the corporatocracy: Nuclear Power, Water Privatization and whether or not to prosecute the hilarious disaster known as Berlusconi. It seems a solid majority of Italians think politicians should be accountable to the Law. What a novel idea!
In any case, here’s a pleasant read from Counterpunch:
After an inspiring mass mobilization of people across Italy with demonstrations of all kinds: banner drops, critical mass bike rides, workshops, information booths, film screenings, use of the social networking and facebook, people running nude through the streets, flash mob die-ins, young people living confined in a giant rendition of a radioactive drum for over a month, and a door to door, neighbor to neighbor, person to person grassroots storm, the Italian people have won a historic vote against the forces of global capitalism and privatization to ban the construction of Nuclear Power plants now and forever, to keep or return Water resources to public ownership and to Prosecute the criminal behavior of political leaders — first and foremost Silvio Berlusconi.
Italians managed to overcome the daunting task of a quorum of 50 per cent + 1 of all Italian voters in the face of a mass media controlled by Berlusconi and a government that was encouraging voters to go to the beach instead of vote on the first weekend of summer vacation for Italian grade school, middle school and high school students. The quorum had not been reached for over a decade on any referendum. This time the Italian people responded with 57 per cent of the voters turning out to the polls, the highest on any referendum in over 20 years, and with the quorum being surpassed in every region of the country. 95 per cent of the voters have voted “SI” to say No as the Italian winds of change have grown to gale force.
Do go read the whole thing. It’s not that long, but it’s fun.
A decent cause if you have a few minutes to help raise some hell in Orlando, Florida from your couch. An email from Alan Grayson:
For 46 years, Orlando, Florida has enjoyed public television and radio. And if the Religious Right has its way, that’s over.
Why should we care? Well, Big Bird helped teach my five children how to read. Maybe yours, too. My children have enjoyed Arthur, Dinosaur Train, Bob the Builder, the Magic School Bus, and Teletubbies. And I’ve enjoyed the PBS News Hour, Frontline, the American Experience, and Nova.
If the Religious Right gets what it wants, that will be replaced in Orlando with the hateful spewing of John Hagee. Five days a week.
This is the John Hagee who called Catholicism a “Godless theology of hate.” Who attributed Hitler’s anti-Semitism to Hitler’s Catholic upbringing. Who has referred to the Catholic Church as “the Great Whore.”
This is the John Hagee who claims that all Moslems have a “scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews.”
This is the John Hagee who has called Jews “poisoned,” and “spiritually blind.” Who claims that the Holocaust was punishment for Jewish “disobedience” and “rebellion.”
I would rather have my children listening to Big Bird.
Unfortunately, however, the “Daystar Television Network,” a Christian broadcasting outfit, has waived $4 million under the noses of the directors of WMFE. (Due to inflation, what cost 30 pieces of silver in biblical times now goes for $4 million.) And the WMFE directors want to sell – to sell out.
But you can help to stop them, and keep Big Bird on the air in Orlando.
The sale requires FCC approval. The FCC has solicited public comments. Please submit your comment to the FCC, and save public broadcasting in Orlando.
Here’s how: You write your views in a Word document. You fill out the form at this website:
If the Proceeding isn’t already identified, then in the ‘Proceeding Number’ field, type 11-75.
And then you attach the Word document to that form, following the instructions on the screen.
Tell the FCC whom you prefer to see on TV: Big Bird or hate-spewing John Hagee. The deadline for comments is tomorrow (Friday) night. It will take you five or ten minutes. And it will make a big difference.
Everyone always complains about the media. Well, here’s something you can do about it. Let’s keep good TV on TV. Please help.
From Kristof at the NY Times:
The juiciest story behind the Middle East uprisings doesn’t concern Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s “voluptuous” Ukrainian nurse or C.I.A. bags of cash. Rather, it’s the tale of how a nonviolent revolutionary strategy crafted by Serbian students and an octogenarian American scholar came to challenge dictators in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and many other countries.
This “uprising in a bottle” blueprint was developed by the Serbian youth movement, Otpor, to overthrow Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. One of Otpor’s insights was that the most effective weapon against dictators isn’t bombs or fiery speeches. It’s mockery. Otpor activists once put Milosevic’s picture on a barrel that they rolled down the street, inviting people to hit it with a bat.
Otpor’s strategy mirrors one promoted by a rumpled Boston academic named Gene Sharp, who is little known in America but inspires tremors among dictators abroad. Sharp’s guide to toppling despots has been translated into 34 languages so far and was widely circulated in Egypt last year in Arabic.
Sadly no one on YouTube has thought to post a video of King Julian mocking people in Penguins of Madagascar or I would have posted that here, as well.
More seriously, this week there’s been an online meme taking credit for what happened in Egypt and elsewhere, starting with Reuters and their piece, Special Report: Inside the Egyptian revolution. Then the New York Times horned in with a “Go USA! Go USA!” version, U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings.
Kristof’s piece is worth leading with because he also describes an example of this protest approach as used in Florida by teens who wanted to help their peers stop smoking. Instead of nasty pictures of what smoking does to your body, the kids did an ad where they call up an ad agency to give them a prize for killing the most teenagers.
Mockery also is an interesting tactic because it is anti-rational: we may have the facts on our side after thirty years of depradations but you still have the problem of how to make real to people, in a visceral way, what they are up against.
It would be worth a discussion here about how people who support progressive causes can use mockery and the ideas of Gene Sharp and other groups mentioned in these articles to effectively overthrow the status quo. David and Emocrat, for example, were talking about creating video ads (?). But there must be organized activities currently underway that would be worth finding out about and/or adding our little bit. Certainly it would be worth forming a sort of book club to read then debate some of these books. I know others have posted here links to different books.
On one hand we are faced with a Corporo-Conservative assault on labor unions using their mercenary GOPper legislators in WI and elsewhere.
On the other, a cultural hegemonic front that systematically excludes Progressive views, analysis, and solutions from the mainstream media, elected office, and the history of our nation.
As Merge Left was taking form from the remains of Open Left one idea that percolated up was for us to use this site to organize members to swarm other web-sites and media outlets in a effort to push their coverage toward the left. To show them that the Right Lane is Closed!
This coming Monday morning from 9 – 11 AM (CST) we have an opportunity to swarm Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) during the Midday call-in program. The site is structured to allow non-members to stream the programs in real time and to submit questions via the website or a toll-free phone line. We can do this.
Read the rest of this entry »
Chris has the details at his new digs, whatever that place is called. There are various actions associated with this as well, particularly if you live in Wisconsin, where signatures will be required.
From Michael Bloomberg’s opinion piece at the New York Times today:
Across the country, taxpayers are providing pensions, benefits and job security protections for public workers that almost no one in the private sector enjoys. Taxpayers simply cannot afford to continue paying these costs, which are growing at rates far outpacing inflation. Yes, public sector workers need a secure retirement. And yes, taxpayers need top-quality police officers, teachers and firefighters. It’s the job of government to balance those competing needs. But for a variety of reasons, the scale has been increasingly tipping away from taxpayers.
Sounds oh so sensible, doesn’t it (who knew Bloomberg pays taxes)? And this gem:
Yet the problem is not unions expressing those rights; it is governments failing to adapt to the times and act in a fiscally responsible manner. If contract terms or labor laws from years past no longer make sense, we the people should renegotiate — or legislate — changes. Benefits agreed to 35 years ago that now are unaffordable should be reduced. Similarly, work rules that made sense 70 years ago but are now antiquated should be changed.
It’s rather like the school yard bully who stretches the back of your underpants over your head then insists you really, really should look into buying new underpants. The old ones no longer fit. Then runs off laughing.