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Archive for November, 2011

The Bonus Army

[ 27 ] November 15, 2011 |

Speaking of protest marches, NPR has a good little piece on the Bonus Army, which occupied Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1932. These protestors had a very concrete goal–the payment of their promised pensions when they really needed it. Which was right then, the peak of the Depression. Herbert Hoover and Douglas MacArthur destroyed the tent town with a maximum of force, showing how out of touch Hoover was with average Americans (something you’d think Bloomberg would pay attention to here), and helping to lead to Roosevelt’s election that fall. The piece claims that the Bonus Army experience led to the creation of the GI Bill after World War II. I don’t know how true that is, but certainly the article doesn’t provide any real evidence for it. Could be true though. Anyway, the Bonus Army is an interesting historical comparison to Occupy Wall Street with some lessons to learn for both sides.



[ 12 ] November 15, 2011 |

I understand horse-race reporters need something to talk about and there does seem to be a surge in the polls, but to say that it’s now a Romney/Gingrich race is just another way of saying that Mittens is inevitable.     Although it is impressive in its own way that for weeks Romney has struggled to pull away from two candidates who aren’t even running for president.

Attack Ad on Elizabeth Warren

[ 37 ] November 15, 2011 |

So I saw this political ad yesterday while eating my morning bagel:

This is produced by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, connecting Elizabeth Warren to the “extreme left protests” and “violence” of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

This is an interesting but potentially dangerous game Rove’s hacks are playing here. They severely underestimate the popularity of Occupy Wall Street, especially in a state like Massachusetts. This kind of ad could really backfire and make people more sympathetic to Warren. On the other hand, it is possible that a cleavage in the public mind could develop between the principles of OWS and the actual people out there protesting. I definitely don’t think that has happened yet, but the response to this disgusting ad may tell us a lot about the contours of the 2012 campaign season.


[ 115 ] November 15, 2011 |

Like Yglesias, I pretty much believe that being evicted from Zuccotti Park is about the best thing that could happen to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Let’s face it, they had not succeeded in the last couple of weeks in retaining the media’s attention. The movement was beginning to seem stagnant to a larger public. Eviction gives them new life, regains the media’s attention, and the, to use a Marxist term, heightens the contradictions. This is important–there’s a concrete reason Martin Luther King chose Birmingham as the spot for the 1963 campaign. In 1962, the movement tried to desegregate Albany, Georgia. The sheriff there, Laurie Pritchett, killed them with kindness, arrested thousands but never using violence and never giving the media any reason to report. Pretty quickly, the news cameras left and the civil rights movement withdrew in defeat. King specifically chose Birmingham because of the violence he knew Bull Connor would unleash. It was a great success.

The clear strategy in response for OWS is to keep reestablishing the tent towns, forcing the cities to continue responding, burning money and political capital to do so, potentially creating situations of police brutality. But this also begs another question–is this movement becoming more about occupying space than a progressive upheaval? I think the lack of concrete goals really plagues the movement here–because they aren’t asking for anything specific, at what point do they leave? Because there has to be some kind of end point to this. No city is going to allow this to continue for 2 or 3 years. Nor should they.

The worst case scenario here is that Occupy Wall Street ends up being the 2011 version of Mexico City’s UNAM protests in 1999-2000. These protests started in response to the creation of tuition at the nation’s most prestigious university. While it was only intended to apply to those who could afford it, it threatened to limit the poor’s access to higher education. It also tapped into general discontent over the neoliberal reforms overturning the gains of the Mexican Revolution. The government backed down on the tuition, but then a large group of protestors stuck around as part of a movement not dissimilar to OWS–anger at globalization, economic inequality, and rapid changes in Mexico that were hurting the poor. They didn’t have any concrete goals at this point either other than to spark political upheaval in the name of change. And while noble enough, the protestors also quickly wore out the patience of the Mexican middle class, not to mention the government. When the military finally dispersed the encampment after 10 months, not a lot of Mexicans were too sad to see it go.

The encampment needs to be a strategy, not an end in itself.

Nobody Could Have Predicted

[ 90 ] November 14, 2011 |

Upwards of 10 new alleged Sandusky victims have emerged. The judge who inexplicably let an alleged violent criminal facing more than 200 years go on $100,000 in unsecured bail worked for Sandusky’s victim trap charity. And his former boss, America’s Greatest Moral Sage With the Possible Exception of Antonin Scalia, had a dismissive attitude toward sexual assault.

As for this, I assume that Sandusky is laying the grounds for a 6th Amendment appeal, right? You have to admit that an “ineffective counsel” argument is acquiring some plausibility…

…on the general issue, see Charlie.

Contre Le Sexisme De Roiphe

[ 14 ] November 14, 2011 |

See Cohen, Beyerstein, Dell’Antonia, and Marcotte.

On Not Re-Arranging My Viewing Priorities

[ 79 ] November 14, 2011 |

I, for one, will always confuse the year the owner’s lockout prevented me from watching any NBA games with all the years in which I voluntarily didn’t watch any NBA games.  On the upside, my utter lack of interest in the NBA means that I don’t have even the faintest interest in seeing an agreement, and can wholeheartedly back the players hard line.  Good luck gentlemen, and remember that nobody ever paid a dime to watch an owner play basketball (at least in their role as an owner).

The Court and the ACA

[ 33 ] November 14, 2011 |

As Paul mentioned, as expected the Supreme Court will be hearing the case. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that the Court will be having a longer-than-usual argument about the severability issue alone. I think this should make clear that there is a very real chance that the Supreme Court will strike down at least part of the bill, and also that the possibility of striking down the whole bill is in play.

The stakes of this issue are huge — I believe you would have to go back to the New Deal to find a central part of the domestic agenda of a new President struck down so quickly. More thoughts on this tomorrow.

...typically valuable summary by Liptak.

Song of the 99%

[ 43 ] November 14, 2011 |

The great James McMurtry offers his song “We Can’t Make It Here” as a free download in support of the Occupy movement. Says McMurtry:

We quit playing “We Can’t Make It Here” for a year or two. We’re playing it again because it seems to still be relevant, and that pretty much sucks for everybody but us. I know the song is still relevant because people are camped out along Wall Street and in front of City Halls around the country and around the globe, demanding a solution to the problems I tried to give light to when I put my song out seven years ago. They are mixed in age and economic status. Some are young and idealistic. Some are old enough to have had their ideals trampled upon a time or two. My son goes to school in the New York area and some of his friends have been involved in the protests. One was detained for nine hours without charge. This is not supposed to happen in our supposedly civilized nation. These people are getting roughed up, but the press only seems to notice when a victim of police brutality happens to be an Iraq war veteran. I’m guessing there are a good many vets in the crowd and the poor fellow in Oakland won’t be the only one hurt. I suppose the cops think the protesters are breaking the law. Seems to me, the Bill of Rights guarantees the right to peaceful assembly. Meanwhile, the one percent, safely ensconced in the tall glass towers, does not have to break the law, because they get to write the law. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around, in a democracy. I think maybe my fourth grade teacher lied to me.

It’s a great song (and on a great album which you should buy) on its own merits, but it also could serve as the theme song for the 99%.

Latinos Revitalizing the Great Plains

[ 18 ] November 14, 2011 |

Pretty good Times piece on the rapidly growing Latino populations in the Great Plains. Of course, a lot of the local whites are outraged. On the other hand, their towns are literally dying. Latinos are bringing them back to life. The Times piece only references in passing why Latinos are migrating to these particular places–hard, dangerous jobs, particularly in meatpacking, petroleum, and ranching. The first two are the real growth generators. The meatpackers moved out here in part to escape unions and have recruited immigrant labor as low-wage replacements. The petroleum industry of course follows the resources and is currently spurring population growth across the western plains, from North Dakota to Kansas. What the article does mention is the desire for rural living among people who came from small towns in Mexico and Central America, which is interesting.

SCOTUS grants cert in ACA case

[ 19 ] November 14, 2011 |

Anthony Kennedy gets to decide if and how the nation’s health care system will start to be reformed, which makes all kinds of sense because of the Framers.

Or something.

Speak for Yourself, Bobo

[ 91 ] November 14, 2011 |

Oh, fer Chrissakes — Bobo gives us the Bill Donohue explanation for the Penn State sex scandals. That is, he really seems to think that “people” in general seem to have lost the ability to see that raping children is wrong because of the hippies and their moral relativism and Kantian nihilism and what have you. I renew my demand for conservatives to leave poor parody alone; it’s already dead. [via]

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