Monthly Archives: September 2012

September 19, 2006

When the Country is Broke  – Tom Glazer

Today in Labor History

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Joe Glazer, known as “Labor’s Troubadour,” dies at the age of 88.  In 1979, Glazer invited fourteen other labor musicians to the George Meany Center for Labor Studies in Silver Spring, Maryland.  The event became an annual one:  the Great Labor Arts Exchange, which is still going strong today, under the auspices of the Labor Heritage Foundation.

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Sights and Sounds of a Historic Day of Protest in Portugal

The worldwide struggle continues…

Igualitárista

Estimates put the total number of anti-austerity protesters at over 660,000 people. Naturally, such a protest has captured the front pages of Portuguese newspapers. Diário de Notícias going with the headline “Outrage took to the street”:

Jornal de Noticias went with a photo of the mass protest in Porto, the other two papers showing crowds in Lisbon.

During the height of the protests in the capital, news helicopters filmed the jammed streets along the march:

Protesters assembled outside Portugal’s two largest cities. Thousands march and chanted against the IMF in Setúbal:

In Santarém, crowds chanted that the time has come for the government to go:

In Lisbon, Praça de Espanha was transformed into an expansive sea of humanity:

By night fall, thousands spontaneously gathered around the parliament in Lisbon, a small group of the crowd attempting to break past the police blocking the steps to the national assembly:

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Pome of the Day

Mamma Romney will give you some…maybe if you play nice
she’ll give you a slice
maybe

INDIA UPDATE

MAMA’S PIZZA

Come to Mama’s Pizza shop

Pizza very nice

Drool at all the things on top

But never ask the price

You can come and stand outside

And smell the mozzarella

If it’s raining don’t forget

To bring your own umbrella

Watch as Mama’s friends go in

Don’t get in the way

If they kick you in the shins

Be careful what you say

Watch out! Here comes Sonny Boy

Did you bring a sheet?

Lie down, let him walk on you

He mustn’t wet his feet

Mama cuts the pizza up

Mama feeds her friends

Will you get some crumbs as well?

Well, it all depends

Were you nice to Sonny Boy?

Did you kiss his tushie?

Were you gentle, full of joy?

He hates it when you’re pushy.

Mama’s pizza, hot and fresh

Pizza very nice

If you bend down far enough

You could get a slice.

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NYC – Not a Place to Stand, Walk, Talk, Move or Breath Without Arrest

Chris Faraone of the Boston Phoenix describes his experience as a guest of the NYPD while down for the Occupy Anniversary:

I wasn’t supposed to be sitting in a bar, my right elbow bent like a bastard, on the night of September 17, 2012. It was the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street – a movement I’ve been covering for about a year – and the plan was to be out in the streets, tweeting, taking pictures, and scribbling obscenities in my notepad. That’s what I do. I’m a reporter. It’s my fucking job.

But I wasn’t on the streets, recording so much senseless brutality. Instead I was a victim of it, having gotten viciously tackled and abused less than two hours after reporting for duty. I hardly planned for this; if I had, I would have left my weed at my motel. But having covered comparable actions in more than 20 American cities over the past year, I’ve learned how to get my story without getting bagged. Or so I thought.

For the rest: The Full Story of How A Boston Journalist Got Arrested on Some Bullshit at the Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street

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Holy crap, Bill Kristol proves once again that even a blind squirrel can get a nut now and again:

via the Daily Beast:

It’s worth recalling that a good chunk of the 47 percent who don’t pay income taxes are Romney supporters—especially of course seniors (who might well “believe they are entitled to heath care,” a position Romney agrees with), as well as many lower-income Americans (including men and women serving in the military) who think conservative policies are better for the country even if they’re not getting a tax cut under the Romney plan. So Romney seems to have contempt not just for the Democrats who oppose him, but for tens of millions who intend to vote for him.

Now, the best thing we can hope for is that Billy finally makes himself useful and repeats this as often as possible.  I’m sure this will work since McCain and the rest of the mouth breather leadership thought his idea of choosing Palin as a running mate was like Teh Totally Awesome!

 

Wanton Feminist Sex at the Colleges Killed My Privilege: Cry of a White Man

“Oh wouldn’t you like to come
Back underneath my thumb
In a Patriarchy’s Garden
In serfdom?

You would know your place,
Below the human race
In a Patriarchy’s Garden
Without mace.”

That and more at Sadly No! where writer Cerberus cuts into David Brooks and commits beautiful slaughter.  Slaughter on Brooks’ pulling out every tired stereotype of women to make a siren call to the men that the wymenz are taking over and they’d better, um, do something.  Like maybe wake up to the fact that the OMG! the roles of women they are a changing and this is nowhere better reflected than in the poor economy.  Well ok, he didn’t say all women are ruining the economy, just the loose ones that go college; the ones who put getting a degree and an education as a top priority.  Brooks laments the good old days where women knew their place and went to college to find a doctor to marry.  Oh the bloody horror! Now with contraception and all, they are having wanton sex, learning things and get this! Getting jobs! Not good paying jobs, that’s not important and not all women, that’s not important either.

When you need to force attitudes that force ridiculous, prejudicial policies that protect a narrow group from another larger group, best to make that group really, really big and scary. Women shouldn’t have reproductive freedom, look, they are all turning into educated sluts! And then taking our jobs!  Wasn’t that the frat boy’s job? The privileged snot getting in on daddy’s dime with his white-boy, super polished shine, who studied and had wild sextapades with willing coed sluts?  Brings to mind a little diddy someone told me long ago, that’s one of those custom made stories that dad’s tell their young stud sons about to embark into the world of teh wymenz:

A little dog sat next to the railroad tracks all forlorn, contemplating his future.  He let his tail fall over the rail.  A train came by and as he felt the pinch on his tail he turned his head and whack!

So unfortunately, the puppy’s gone but hopefully you’ll remember to not lose your head over a little tail.

Those femi-nazi mothers must be telling their daughters that story, which of course is bringing in the collapse of all civilization partriarchy.

But I need add no more, let Cerberus take it away!

Bitches Be Responsible for Everything Bad

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NYPD at Occupy Wall Street S17: Same Old Same Old

Imagine hanging with your friend in a restaurant in New York City, you came down for the S17 protests; the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street.  You participated in a march earlier in the day, a little pandemonium, but hey its New York City, its Occupy!  You and your friend finish and decide to walk outside to catch what else is going on, not much happening at this street.

So you turn the corner.  Suddenly as if a tidal wave had enveloped you, a crowd passes by.  You join them, join the excitement, everyone marches on, in solidarity.  Then suddenly screaming from the front, a push backward from the crowd, people turn, looks of fear in their faces.  You have no choice but to turn and run or be trampled.  Then you see the NYPD, running through the crowd, grabbing marchers by whatever they can put their hands on, a backback, a shirt, an arm.  You are swung around and met with a uniformed animal.  Your immediate response to this assault on your person is to jerk back, move to get away and the grip becomes tighter and this machine/human pulls you forward and holds you in way that makes you defenseless as moving will certainly cause a limb to break, you feel the pressure on your tendons, your bones.

This happened tonight in New York to two Occupiers from Manchester, New Hampshire.  Arrested with many others for the crime of marching in the street.  As of the 15th, Occupy Arrests reports 25 arrested.

Acting fast to cuff a protester, this one violating a mask ban, just one ordinance made to pry open fourth amendment rights of just cause.

 

Mark Provost, called and reported this experience this evening.  He pointed out the NYPD policy of “snatch and grab” which consists of the NYPD infiltrating the moving group quickly and grabbing anyone at random.  As Mark points this signifies a significant strategic switch in the way that police departments possibly all over the country, have decided to quell dissent.  By removing random people at once and suddenly, pandemonium went out and dispersed the crowd immediately, creating panic which then led to the general disbursement of the marchers as a coalesced unit.

But the NYPD has behaved this way from the start, only the logistical circumstances led to a more organized arrest strategy.  Pictures of protesters lined up along a bridge or video of Occupiers’ tents being wholesale destroyed worked against the city.  The Tony Baloney’s of the NYPD, while no doubt still plentiful, are now better trained and ready to confront political dissent in anyway possible.

But the fight must go on.  People must stand up in the streets, make noise, strike, write, vote, speak.  This is democracy and the rage that has brewed against a system that has oppressed far too many people for far too long.  A system that like a headless monster, will crush and devour anything in its path.  Its rapacious appetite for profit, expansion at the cost of humanity and planet will not die until we stop it.

Yes Occupiers who can actually participate in marches and actions represent a few persons, but they represent the voices, minds and hearts of millions of Americans who have had enough.  They have had enough of worrying about the next job they’ll have, worrying about paying the rent or mortgage, worrying about getting to work on time in a running car, about not getting sick, paying the car loans, bank loan, student loan, hospital bills and even the most basic necessities that so many before died for us to have the privilege to take them for granted, such as hot water or electricity.

Our democracy is under serious attack, from within and without.  Fearful of falling into the abyss of unemployment and then possibly poverty and destitution, people cling to their jobs; their two or three jobs, keep their heads low, keep quiet and plod on.  But they know what’s up and they do what they can, but only a few of us can get out all the time, some of us some of the time, some of us have to wait for the opportunity.  Multiply the crowd at OWS by a quarter, would that represent those who can’t come? Multiply by half, again how do we know, but how many people have you talked to who know what’s up? Who know the fix is in.  The only way to get out is to fight our way out with every tool we have.

Incomplete Democracy = No Democracy

Just Kidding!

Today the editorial brain trust at the Union Leader decided to weigh in on the Voter ID law and its “practice run” during the primary.  For those who didn’t vote in the New Hampshire primary or don’t live in New Hampshire, its worth pointing out that although the law won’t go into effect until the general election in November, the legislature decided to mandate a practice run at the polls.  Yes, of course you’re thinking, “what a wonderful idea let’s practice all laws out first!”  then if you are stopped, arrested or ticketed the cop can tell you, “Oh geez, just kidding, now watch out in November!”

Dispensing with all the other problems with that issue, one wonders how many people might get the idea that the law really already is in effect and thus abide accordingly.  I mean, I guess it would be up to the goodwill of those empowered with enforcement to give up the gag before the damage is done right?  One wonders when exactly that might occur? After said individual absent an ID walks out of the polls? Its their fault they can’t hear the “Oh shucks, just kidding!” all the way from the parking lot?

Well, basically the Union Leader chooses to overlook that problem, while of course having to make the odd construction that Democrats were protesting the Voter ID law by refusing to give up their ID’s, that oh wait! really isn’t a law yet.  Bet that’s a first.  But its all good right? No one lost their voting privileges that day right?

Nope not at all, unless you talked to people who went to the polls, who were confronted with the patently illegal signage that wards had no business posting that led people to believe that the law was in fact in effect.  Nope not all unless you talk to the people who knowing their rights, refused to produce an ID and were not given the Voter Challenge Affidavit until after they had surrendered their ID.  Funny thing, guess the workers at the polls need some more training, including those poll watchers.

But, it seems clear by testimony from those who experienced the denial of their voting privileges unless they provided satisfactory proof of ID, they had reason to believe they weren’t voting.  So, let’s take your average citizen who works full time, probably has a family to care for and has about a one hour window that they carved out for a week or more to be able to perform their democratic duty.   Is it reasonable to assume this individual would in good faith turn around and say, “Oh, let me call my boss and see if I can more time off to get my ID I left at home/work/in the car.”  or, “Let me see if the person who gave me a ride here will be available to shuttle me around to the DMV, fill out a form, stand in line for an hour and then go back?”

Or, the person who says, “You know what, I knew voting was stupid, I’m going home.”

Or the person who, in the case of one person in Manchester who has a strong Spanish accent, of being further humiliated by having to answer to the question, “Where are you from?” So much for that old folksy New Hampshire.  Let’s just dispel that right now.  Manchester is a city, just like Nashua and Portsmouth.  There aren’t docile dairy cows roaming between white clapboard farmhouses or farmers with red and black checkered hunting caps leaning on fences saying “Ahyup!”.  Unlike the charmed sentiment of the editor, New Hampshire has had its influx of newcomers, of which many who don’t fit the New Hampshire ideal citizen, aren’t exactly given the welcome mat and a pint of New Hampshire maple syrup.  But of course these folks mostly settle in the larger communities and their participation in the polls just might change some things up old Concord way.

Never mind that the other segment of voters that the those at the Union Leader editorial board and Keepers of All That is White and Right in New Hampshire also probably only fret about property taxes in the sense that they know they are paying too much and there’s a small segment of large landowners not paying their fair share.  They’d probably vote Democratic, just a hunch, but since that conversation has only occurred on a meaningful basis within the Democratic party, one might safely conclude that.

Much better to keep those folks home and why wait until November when the Voter ID law becomes an actual law, how about have a practice run, heck what could it hurt if this election some folks don’t turn up or go home without getting to exercise their right to perform the most important civic duty in the nation.

In the accompanying report on how the practice run went, it is explained that those who did in fact challenge the law will be chased down by mail, then if there’s a letter sent back they’ll send agents out we assume to track these people down and the Secretary of State’s office will pour over each and every affidavit to verify whether the voter exists or not.  Looks like the Secretary of State’s office will be hiring folks pretty soon.  Amazing how that works; legislation that grows government comes from an administration that claims to do just the opposite.  Guess the work will be done by special little Fairies for Freedom, to find those practically non-existent fraudulent voters.

But what about the people who walked away from the polls unable to vote? What does that do to our election?  Uh-oh, thinking too much.  In the Union Leader/Republican world those little people don’t matter and the results.  We just gotta live with it, because dammit, there are brown people, poor people, aged, students and disabled folks who we know vote overwhelmingly Democrat and who cares if they stay home?

Of course the richest misunderstanding of the law is encapsulated by the editorial writer’s comment, “Well, the constitution gives qualified voters the right to vote.” Yup, that’s right and there’s nothing in the constitution about presenting an ID.  More than likely the framers never envisioned a system would develop in which certain individuals would work and live in this country and not be eligible to vote — oh wait! We tried that too didn’t we? How did that work out?

One has to wonder, with all the fervor that never seems to end about “qualifying” voters, what exactly is the motive?  Could it be that not only a threat exists from the millions of truly “qualified” citizens actually exercising their right to vote enmasse, what would happen if those who fall between the cracks of citizenship, living, working and contributing to businesses and the economy, like the many that work in Manchester, Nashua and elsewhere in the state starting suddenly voting? Yes, its a scary thought indeed.

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The Protest of Nothing

Burning a registration card, circulated on Facebook with great enthusiasm.

Michael Moore states the case, bluntly and eloquently why although Obama may have disappointed most of us on the left, the fatalism of sitting out the vote this time makes no sense.  Moore’s point underscores the fact that we need to use every tool in the box this time, which reminds me of a post I recently  saw on Facebook  showing someone burning a voter registration card.  Like a 1920’s Dadaist’s wet dream; the Protest of Nothing.

In the 60’s, young men burned their draft cards. Draft cards mandated by law that men had to go to war to suffer unimaginable horrors or death, wherein refusal warranted direct jail time. Burning draft cards represented an exercise of the belief that no state supersedes the laws of humanity and that justice is suborned when citizens refuse to stand up.  Refusal to participate in the draft constituted an act of civil disobedience that represented not simply an individual “choice” but a popular mandate that society take a deeper look at the machinery of capitalist oppression.

On the other hand, what act of oppression does burning a voter card represent again?  Let’s break this down to the simplest terms possible.  Democracy demands participation.  Like an engine; the machine parts cannot move without the force of energy pushing against them.  Thus, democracy will not activate without the forces of the citizens pushing against one idea or another; creating the tension that spurns beneficial social structure.   So basically if one group wants effective change with the existing system, engaging with that system is mandatory.

Our culture is replete with demands to doubt the “system”, to feel disengaged and uncounted.  Mass media inundates people with the message that consumption equals democratic participation and that celebration of nationalistic barbarism equals patriotic service.  We as a culture are told repeatedly that watching a news program, engaging in conversations on the internet, all equal democratic participation.  The drive to consume is also pushed as a patriotic duty (remember Bush the Younger extolling people to get happy and go shopping when gas prices rose?) and the result of longer times engaged in making money to survive and pro-war hyper nationalism do not serve the interests of democracy.

They do though serve the interests of the owners of production, of the marketers and sellers of the machinery of war and endless meaningless junk that serves to distract the electorate.  If one feels satisfied talking on Facebook or watching the latest reports on CNN, then what else is there to do? Who’s got the time anyway?

While protests and other acts of defiance against unjust laws or systems have their place, we cannot discount the easiest process available in this country; the voting booth.  The anti-Obama forces proved this in 2010 when across the country people came out to elect far-right state legislatures as an act of protest against the election of a black president.  Even with a large number of people standing down in 2008, Obama’s message, that the right loves to sneer at, the message of “Hope and Change” caused a momentous move in this country.  —- people stood up and said they wanted change and expressed it through the voting booth. Now, whether Obama stood acted on those promises certainly is another issue and one that requires voter awareness and engagement for critical action.

Many alternative candidates and parties exist within our democracy, many theories, not all of them coming from the pro-plutocracy right wing.  But knowing about alternative parties and candidates requires engagement within the process.  It requires the effort to research the issues, talk to people about the issues, take the time to attend meetings and most of all, support those issues and candidates at the voting booth.

What is the plan with those who refuse to engage? Do they have a larger message or have they completely capitulated all their decision making capacity to those who will get up and engage with the process on all fronts?  Most importantly, do those who step in the vacuum have our best interests at heart?  Would it have been smarter to keep moving forward, no matter how slow, instead of allowing us to slip back ten steps?  While there exists an argument for deconstruction, within a social system where the free press, the voting booth and free speech remain, there exists the possibility for transformation through reformation.

What’s really astounding with those who refuse to vote as some form of protest is the apparent failure to understand that one can in fact participate in democracy, rebel against the present system, protest, engage and go and vote for the best candidate offered all at the same time!  It appears as though the right has this concept down pretty well; theocrats, outright fascists and plutocrats who express nothing but contempt for the democratic process know full well that participation within is their best hope of shaping this country into their dream state.  So far, they’ve been going at a pretty good clip forward thanks to low voter participation rates.

Democracy demands engagement for success.  Opting out is not an option; you’ve got skin in the game whether you like it or not.  Might as well go pull that lever.  If you want to change or overthrow it, better to study it and to whatever extent possible, move within it and outside it.  Only then can one begin to have some understanding of the system in order to fashion a better one.

Also, as Michael Moore points out, there’s no lack of justifiable anger to meet out to both political parties, but there is no reason to let the truck slide off the cliff and disintegrate into a burned heap.  What have you to work with then?  Nihilism was never considered a way to get anywhere but to nothing.  If nothing came out of doing nothing this election or any election cycle, then we’d have nothing to worry about.  Obama has been no prize for those seeking justice; Gitmo, drone attacks, his appeal of the court’s over-ruling the NDAA indefinite detentions.  His shameless refusal to use the bully pulpit and the Democrat’s own contradictory hold on power that often undermines the very values they claim to support; none of that should go unnoticed.

But to sit out and hand the reins over the the mad kings of the GOP just makes no sense.   The platform offered by the Republican party threatens to put working people into a tailspin faster than anything since the days before the New Deal or possibly even the days before the Civil War.  They threaten with their deep cuts in basic social programs, which are social welfare programs — not entitlements, because they are based on the idea that the social welfare is everyone’s welfare.  In a just society  there is no parsing of social well being and health, there is no judgment of who is entitled to not starve, who is entitled to not die a long, slow death by preventable disease. While most of America goes on with their lives, content to watch the political process as if they were viewers of some show they have no real connection to.  The GOP and often the Democrats as well, serve the interests of global capital and imperial power while using their corporate owned media to deceive and disarm the public and keep them away from the voting booth in every way possible.

So is burning a voter registration card an act of defiance against this oppressive corporate state?  No.  By committing an act that breaks no laws and requires no great courage to perform, sends no message to the public except that some people have no problem dropping out and leaving the hard work to others and leaves open a giant hole that others who have the money and will make the time, will eagerly fill.

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Compassion: A Value, Not a Marketing Commodity

When H. W. Bush phrased his party as the party of “compassionate conservatism” in an attempt to change the perception of the Republican party as the party of Scrooge,  the oxymoronic effort derived immediate derision from the more sensible corners of the country.

But that hasn’t stopped the Republicans effort to continuously lie to the public and hide the intentions of their cuts and denial of funding for programs and legislation that would help the citizenry.

Maggie has big shoulders.

The picture above shows Maggie Hassan, the democratic candidate for governor hugging a woman.  We received this picture via a message from Facebook, which tells the story of a cold day in March on 2011 during the most dramatic anti-labor rally held that year.  At the state house union members had camped out and staged a huge protest.

When the protest was over and the crowd was leaving, a woman came running out of the state house and down the stairs crying and holding a sign.  The sender said that the woman had apparently had words with a Republican (possibly O’Brien?) unsympathetic to the plight of parents of children with Autism, the sign reads, “Support Connor’s Law” and has a picture of what everyone learned later was her son.

While most everyone present stood in stunned silence, Maggie had the courage and presence of mind to act and quickly approached the woman and held her while she cried.  Our friend also sent along a picture of the woman showing her sign, you can see tears in her eyes.

Democrats have backed and been the source of some of the most major legislation in this country that protect the rights of workers, created the New Deal, advocated for the Civil Rights Act, pushed to get out of the past wars we’ve waged, advocated for full freedom of rights for women.  We were the party that supported gay rights, that turned to listen when the streets exploded with riots in LA and some Democrats were even ready to talk about legalization of medical marijuana long before it became the cause du jour for the young libertarian.

The Republicans can make up every excuse they’d like to justify their inhumane practices in supporting corporations and the 1%, but they can never claim to have compassion.  That is the realm of the Democratic party and despite its faults, it remains their core value.  Not conservative compassion, not pre-qualified, approved, pre-packaged and market tested compassion, but the kind of compassion that comes from understanding and knowing what it is to suffer injustice.

While Democrats, Progressives and others on the left can argue compassion in degrees, we know its where we stand in solidarity at the core.  We know its the kind of compassion that rises out of the heart, that realizes that government represents real people, not statistics.  Its the kind of compassion that comes from a warm, breathing, flesh and blood person who has cried, who has loved.  It is the compassion that burns like a fire inside the heart of every Democrat who is determined to get up, get in the game and do something.  Just like Maggie did that day.

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