Friday, October 14, 2011
TO: Occupy Wall StreetFROM: Actor212RE: Going ForwardYou looked Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Brookfield Properties straight in the eye. They blinked.Good on you. That's the first of many, many victories to come.My first political involvement was in 1968. It was in sixth grade, so I couldn't have been more than ten years old at the time. A couple of classmates, Kenny, and I think Hank, set up a table on the corner outside our school, and campaigned for Hubert Humphrey. We had a hand-drawn poster, and all the literature we could handle from the local campaign office.It was cute. I think we even got our photos taken for the Daily News.We did it because we hated Richard Nixon and all that he stood for. Looking back over the past 45 years or so, it's embarassing to think that Nixon turned out to be the most domestically liberal president in that interim (a case could be made for Carter, I suppose).And that's what I want to talk about: the past. And how your future as a movement can be shaped by it.Nixon was as liberal as he was, passing environmental legislation for example, or lowering the voting age to 18, because of the pressure the left put on him (yea, there were other circumstances that he tried to curry favor to prevent, but he went so far as to propose single-payer healthcare!)We blew it, we old farts. We achieved much in those protests, getting better acknowledgement of the equality of women, of gays and lesbians, and better integration of blacks and Hispanics-- I'm still waiting for Herman Cain to thank us. We ended a war.To our discredit, we allowed Nixon and Congress to dismantle much of the Great Society that LBJ had worked so hard to put into place, among other things.What we truly didn't do, and what we could have done, was forge a political movement that would have dragged any conservative who stood athwart the earth shouting "STOP!" to the ground and subdued him. We settled out. We got caught up in the glamour of forcing a sitting President to resign and figured our work was done. We were tired, we were infighting, and frankly, we were growing up and getting jobs and starting families.Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans.What we were too young to notice was the seeds of destruction that the Goldwater campaign of 1964 planted, that were starting to sprout, beginning with Reagan's election to California's governorship. We laughed. He was shitty actor, a former President of SAG and a liberal, spouting all kinds of crazy nonsense about the welfare state.What we should have been doing, what if we could go back in time we would do, was crush him. We had the bodies still warm from the resistance.I look at you, and I see that same anger that motivated us.I see a difference, tho, a big difference. We grew up insulated from the world around us, some of us at any rate. You've had that sheathing stripped from around you, and you're scared and angry. I see the signs you hold, and they don't deviate much from the basic theme that the nation is unfairly benefitting the rich at the expense of the rest of us.Some would say, "Life is unfair." Some are idiots. Mouthing that bromide is the shortest way to prove you haven't thought through life. “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”
That was the great Robert F. Kennedy, who in life and especially in death sparked the anti-war movement to greater heights, and had he been President would no doubt have asked us to do our part for the nation to heal it, to move forward and to help.There is so much I would say to you, and so little time to say it, if I have your attention this far. You will face challenges. The movement will find critical moments in which it needs strength. There will be conflict. I would say this: there are many paths to take, and all of them, all of them, can lead you to the goal you seek. Some will have dead ends, but don't be discouraged as so many of us were: turn around and find a new way. You're still on the path, that's what counts.I look at pictures of myself down through the years, and see the promise of infinity within my eyes. I'm older now. Those eyes have dimmed but they still hold the faint glimmer of that promise as I look to you to carry the torch we let fall decades ago.Let that torch keep ther fire in your eyes burning. Do not give up under any circumstances. They may defeat a person but a truth can never be defeated.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
It was a strategy session at 28,000 feet. Herman Cain, the Republican presidential candidate, and his advisers were on a campaign flight this summer tossing around policy ideas. Cain, a former pizza chain chief executive, wanted a proposal to jolt the economy and give his candidacy some definition.
"I said, 'The first fundamental, guys, is we have to throw out the tax code,' " Cain said Wednesday in an interview.
From that exchange emerged the plan that Cain calls 9-9-9: a flat 9 percent individual income tax rate, a 9 percent corporate tax rate and a 9 percent national sales tax.
He has uttered the triple digits repeatedly, in speeches and debates, until they have acquired the catchy power of a brand.
Although Cain's rivals have tried to use the plan's simplicity against him -- chiding that it sounds like the price of a pizza -- he has stuck to his message.
Simple is simple. It's neither better nor worse. It can be good or it can be bad.
And let's face facts: in an age when you are a mistake away from being fired, out of money, and out of your house, who wouldn't want their taxes "lowered"? Nine percent sounds very attractive, to be sure. You can accumulate some savings, since your tax rate will effectively be cut by two-thirds or more, and sock away some money just in case you get drunk and molest the boss's admin.
Right there, it ought to be suspect.
I want to discuss the rather disturbing fact that this obviously deluded man with his obviously destructive plan has any credibility in American politics whatsoever. A child of government assistance, from the federal funds his alma mater received to the affirmative action acceptance at Purdue University (...presumably. Cain has not released his college transcripts. There must be a reason, right?) to the job he obtained working for the Navy, he stands foursquare against a hand up to anyone else.
You'd think a man with the background of Cain would have a certain fealty towards people struggling to get by, but apparently not.
How has this emotional Scrooge has captivated so many spiteful, hateful people? Well, for one thing, there's the whole Baptist minister-- Cain is an assistant minister-- theme, with the cadences and rhythms that go with that position. It has a more powerful effect on the delusional than you might think.
And its undeniable that his life story...assuming he's told the truth about it...is a compelling one, growing up in the deeply segregated south, suffering the abuses of the white people around him, rising to become first head of Burger King (after a rather...impressively entrepreneurial...start of going from fry cook to regional manager in only seven months! *snark*) and then rebuilding the Godfather's Pizza chain...after putting hundreds of people out of work in a leveraged buyout in the 1990s. The chain has not recovered since, shrinking from over 900 locations to just over 400, and now back up to 600 ten years after Cain left.
You might recall that it was in this tenure that Cain challenged the Clinton health care reform initiative. I wonder how many of those poor laid off employees would have enjoyed adequate healthcare these past twenty years after they were screwed twice by Cain?
And yet, somehow this greedy vicious little man is a serious contender, tho likely not a finalist, for the Republican nomination for President.
Could it be....greed?
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
In essence, these critics say, justice has dismantled the administrative functions of the pardon office, which is supposed to investigate the petitions filed by prisoners. As a result, all those carefully prepared requests for clemency aren't getting the kind of review they deserve.
Instead, a lot of petitions get a cursory review and are shipped off to the White House in minimalist lumps known as "summary group reports," which don't provide enough information to allow the president to make an informed choice.
The major change since 2008, when the current pardon attorney, Ronald Rodgers, took over, this former official says, is that the few early releases, or "commutations," done in the past have disappeared entirely.
"Virtually all commutations are simply round-filed as soon as they hit the door," the former justice official says. "They are no longer assigned to staff lawyers, and in all but a tiny handful of cases, no report or recommendation is forwarded to the White House."
Fuck. Fuck me hard.
If Iranian government operatives really did try to contract a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., as the Obama Administration alleges today, then they weren't just being diabolical. They were being fairly stupid.
Granted, the Zetas – the drug mafia that Iranian-American Manssor Arbabsiar allegedly thought he was dealing with on behalf of Tehran – are certainly Mexico's most bloodthirsty: they are the narcos that brought beheadings and wholesale massacres of innocent civilians to the nightmarish drug war scene south of the border. But even the Zetas, founded more than a decade ago by former Mexican army commandos, know better than to venture north of the border and invite the kind of U.S. law enforcement heat that a political assassination of this magnitude would have brought on them. They're more than willing to murder high and low inside Mexico – the Zetas are the chief suspects, for example, in last year's assassination of Tamaulipas state gubernatorial candidate Rodolfo Torre – but they've rarely if ever directed that kind of mayhem inside the U.S.
And for good reason: they've experienced the vast difference between cops, prosecutors and judges in Mexico, whom they can buy off or kill with impunity, and the U.S. judicial system.
That's exhibit A. Exhibit B?
A friend of a former Texas used car dealer accused of plotting to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador in the United States says he never thought of his one-time business partner as politically motivated, much less a key player in a potential terrorist act.
Manssor Arbabsiar was known as "Jack" to his friends because his name was too hard to pronounce, said David Tomscha, who briefly owned a used car lot with him in the Texas Gulf Coast city of Corpus Christi. Tomscha said his friend was likable, albeit a bit lazy.
"He's no mastermind," Tomscha told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "I can't imagine him thinking up a plan like that. I mean, he didn't seem all that political. He was more of a businessman."
Now, this does not exclude Arbabsiar from potentially initiating and carrying out an attack that apparently was developed within the hierarchy of the Iranian military, the Quds. After all, while several of the 9/11 hijackers had college degrees (Atta was even an architect, if memory serves), several were stooges who were hired as muscle, pure and simple. And you really don't need a college degree to pull a trigger, even if Arbabsiar attended Texas A&I.
I mean, just look at Alabama!
Plus, an ambassador from Saudi Arabia only merits a $1.5 million contract?
It sounds more like a Tom Clancy plot, complete with paper cut-out terrorists, a link to one of the Axis of Evil powers (next, they'll tell me the bomb was made in North Korea,) and involving unsecure borders and home-grown terrorists.
And yet, it's a lot less farfetched than a guy lighting his shoe on plane, or wearing an underwear bomb, both plots foiled just short of execution.
Still, I can't get out of my mind two disparate facts: 1) This involves Iran, a nation that America had long ago painted a bulls-eye on, and 2) the best way out of economic catastrophe is to declare a World War.
That scares me more than the possibility of a terror attack in a restaurant I might frequent.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
As “Occupy Wall Street” spreads around the world – now in more than 185 locales, and counting – everyone from politicians to media pundits is scrambling to identify the protest movement’s leadership.
On NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” former CBS anchor Dan Rather – now with HDnet – tagged Priscilla Grim – a woman who launched a Tumblr page online – as “the real moving force behind this,” only to have the website mediate.com tartly observe that “Dan Rather probably has no idea what Tumblr is.”
Indeed. This movement may be light years ahead of the media. It's certainly out ahead of the curve. And therein lies its strength, I think.
The Teabagger movement was pretty easily explainable, and this is why it was obvious that it was not a grassroots movement. It had two messages: lower taxes, smaller government.
But the rank and file conservatives have many more issues than those: gay marriage, abortion, undocumented workers, Islamophobia and religion in general, education...a whole raft of unresolved anger. And yet, those were rarely if ever addressed at any of the "rallies."
With OWS, well, this is what democracy looks like. It's messy. It's filled with points and counterpoints, sometimes in conflict with each other (altho that happens only rarely.)
Yes. There's a basic message that economic insecurity is occuring and only the richest will survive because only the richest are being taken care of by the American government and that's just wrong.
But look at any media coverage of the demonstrations. There are anti-war signs, pro-labor signs....hell, I'm betting there's a whole flotilla of "Sasquatch Isreal" signs!
How does this turn into a strength? Well, just take the DC protests this weekend. OK, it was not the OWS protest, it was the "October 2011" protest, which is independent of OWS but supportive. A right-wing provocateur, a blogger at American Spectator, boasted about how he led a melee inside the Smithsonian Institute that led to en masse pepper-spraying...mostly of him and his co-conspirators, but I digress.
Even American Spectator realized how stoopid this idiot was and washed his story, but you can read the original here, if you must.
They're scared. They're bloody scared. I mean, wasn't it just the same people who were terrified that left-wingers were infiltrating Teabagger protests? I don't recall anyone getting pepper-sprayed, so I guess either we did it the right way, or we weren't vicious enough.
“Sewing class envy and social unrest is not what we do in America"