Saturday, October 8, 2011

Occupy *Insert Anything Here*

Thoughts while pondering the Occupy Pittsburgh meeting tomorrow.

It is so difficult to be rational sometimes. I am watching my teenage wet dream happen across the Nation, and I'm having flashbacks to my days as Foster Disorder and all the naivety that colored my political ideals at the time.

I watch commentators such as Ed Schultz try to make sense of this movement as it pertains to electoral politics. Thanks to Kevin Gosztola of The Dissenter (I'll get to him in a second, calm down) for the transcript.

Schultz brought Salon’s Justin Elliott and GRITtv’s Laura Flanders on during the segment to add their take. Here’s a key exchange that took place between Elliott and Schultz:

SCHULTZ: Many of the things that I heard were that of the Democratic platform. Not to overstate or simplify the frustration of people but some of the major issues are right from the Democratic platform. Are they the winners here?

ELLIOTT: Maybe. I think there’s a mix. I haven’t found many Obama supporters in the crowd. As I said, one of the chants I kept hearing is how do we cut the deficit? End the wars. Tax the rich…[cutoff]

SCHULTZ: I think they’re Obama supporters. I do. I just think they’re frustrated Obama supporters.

ELLIOTT: Perhaps, there’s a strain of Obama supporters but there’s a strain of people who are far to the left of people here and they’re very dissatisfied.

Flanders jumped in to help Schultz understand:

What I heard is people wanted change. They wanted an end to war. They got more war. They didn’t want to see drone attacks, even taking out people who were threats to the country. They didn’t want to see a little bit of healthcare reform. They needed to see profit seeking out of healthcare. So, they’re frustrated and they are creating the movement that four years ago was channeled into electoral politics. This is being channeled into a global movement. And I think that’s what’s exciting about it because we need global change.

Ed may have today confused with a time in the past where the left actually had a part in shaping politics. The Democratic Party has ran from the label "Liberal" and have consistently moved to the right over time. Granted, much of that move has been due to the absolute insanity of the right, but moving to the center to pick up sane moderate voters is still a political decision that has caused many on the left to feel abandoned.

The Right controls the media yet still trots out the "Liberal Media" hoax. And it isn't just Faux news. Remember who gave Glenn Beck his first national TV gig? Hint: It wasn't Fox. What about MSNBC? Surely they are the liberal voice? Ahem. I would love to be convinced. I think Rachael Maddow is the most progressive voice on a major network right now and a vital part of the left. But when I think of MSNBC, I can't help but also think of Michael Savage(No link. I refuse.), Don Imus(of Nappy headed ho's infamy), and Joe Scarborough. I have a feeling that the only reason MSNBC is left-leaning is it makes sense going up against Fox from a ratings perspective. Hell, even when MSNBC trots out the "liberals" sometimes you have to shake your head. From the magic wikipedia on Chris Matthews.

Liberal blogger Glenn Greenwald has called Matthews "the most vivid example of all that is wrong with political coverage," saying "[h]e’s endlessly obsessed with personality-based politics and likes to promote the strong, masculine tough guy who you can have a beer with, versus the nerdy loser. And he has a cast of characters who go on his show, like Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, who gush over the maleness of the Republican candidates and warn Democrats about how that has real appeal to American voters. Most political reporters judge candidates on the basis of the likeability factor–Matthews is just more explicit about it."[20]

The progressive media watchdog group Media Matters for America named Matthews its 2005 Misinformer of the Year, in part for statements he made in support of President George W. Bush.[21]

On January 9, 2008, the morning after Hillary Clinton's surprise victory in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, Matthews appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe program and said of Clinton,
“ I'll be brutal, the reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around. That's how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn't win there on her merit.


The comments were criticized by such media figures as Bill O'Reilly, Joy Behar and Gloria Steinem.

When Bill O'fuckingReilly has the moral high ground, you are obviously fucked.

The point is that I don't trust anyone in the media to cover this without an eye towards promoting their own agenda. When Shultz claims the protestors as "democrats" or "Obama supporters" he is ignoring the fact that the Democratic Party abandoned these people in their rush to the center and now are stuck trying to court people who just do not trust them. How many times does the Democratic Party get to lie to us? How many times are we going to let them do it? Do not get me wrong here. I know the conservative right has gone off the deep end. I know rational Conservatives who are disgusted at the culture of Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Geller, and the Palin/Bachmann/O'Donnell Overdrive. The Republicans have lost control of their own party, while ours abandons its own platform to get elected.

Let's just look at Obama. I make no excuses for the fact that, barring a revolution, I will be working on his campaign in 2012 and holding my nose while voting for him. Why? Because the fear of what the Republicans/Tea Party could do if in power scares the living shit out of me. If that makes me an "Obama Supporter" then I guess I am guilty. Guilty, but not blind.

Obama Campaign Promise: Develop an alternative to President Bush's Military Commissions Act on handling detainees. Result?BROKEN

Obama Campaign Promise: Reform the Patriot Act. Result? Obama seeks longer PATRIOT Act extension than Republicans Er..BROKEN

Obama Campaign Promise: Urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws. Result? BROKEN

Obama Campaign Promise: Tougher rules against revolving door for lobbyists and former officials. Result? BROKEN

Obama Campaign Promise: To respect State's Medical Marijuana Laws, and bring sanity to the nations drug policy. Result? Liar, Liar, LIAR! 3 Liars = BROKEN

I know, I know. Obama is dealing with one of the most obstructionist Congresses since Civil War days. How can he get anything passed if Congress says "NO!" to every idea he has? Note, please; that is why I picked examples that have nothing to do with Congress.

And don't get me started on AL-Awlaki.

So now we have a political party reaping everything they have sown. I must admit, watching the Democrats try to figure out what to do with this movement of the left amuses me to no end.

But I don't need multiple personality disorder to also be saddened.

Back to Kevin Gosztola of The Dissenter (Ok, it was more than a second but I told you I'd come back to him.)

What should the Occupy Wall Street organizers do? They should continue on the path they were on prior to all the labor and Democratic Party support. They should put the movement first and not bow to any Democratic Party or liberal organization operatives who seek to channel the movement into electoral politics or compel the movement to lower its sights.

To borrow a Streetlight Manifesto lyric, "I'm not going to play if there ain't no way I'll win!" An end to electoral politics would require what exactly? The overthrow of the United States Federal Government? Constitutional Amendment? Good luck with that.

Look, I'm right there with you. The system NEEDS to change. If not broken, the two party system is definitely damaged. But part of this is our fault. Where were we as the word "Liberal" was demonized by the media and abandoned by the Democrats? As the mainstream media slandered the left as weak on terror, as taxandspenders, as anti-military, as anti-family, as anti-christian, as anti-white? Where was I? Fair question. I was shooting fucking heroin. I claim no innocence here. But even shooting dope, I kept informed, I read books, papers, journals, blogs and the like from all political persuasions. Apologies for quoting Streetlight again, but...

And I won't claim to believe the things I read
Black books or agenda magazine
I'd rather see in shades of gray

We, the people of the left, the people of the Occupy Whatever movement, we are NOT the 99%. We are not the 98%. We may feel that we represent the 99% or 98%, but a good portion of that 99% thinks we are dirty lazy hippies who need to go home, take a shower, and quit blocking the road. If you believe that we could ever actually BE the 99%, you are living in a dreamworld that I would really like to visit. Look. I would love to, in the words of The Broadways, "build a world where smiles and love are worth more than money," but reality check time. We live in a nation where millions of people vote against their own economic interests to save a fetus. Where ignorance is considered a positive by a large portion of the electorate. Where fucking Dominionism is invading the mainstream. Where a fraudulent study and Jenny McCarthy's mommy instincts can cause a fucking measles outbreak and KILL children.

Even if all of our desires are in the best interest of the 99%, a large portion of that will never identify with us. Are you willing to tell that feminist marching beside you to shelve reproductive choice as an issue for the "greater good." Are you going to tell the GLBT protesters to hold back on equal marriage rights until after the revolution? To tell the atheists to just shut up so we can get more Christian support? To tell Muslim friends that they should go away, because they scare too many middle americans? I'm not.

How is Fox covering this anyway? Remember, they are the most trusted name in news.

From Fox, who doesn't even believe their own tagline, comes the following:

The protest began with no stated goals, no public spokespeople and many of the most ridiculous attendees you could imagine – socialists, Code Pinkers, anarchists and more. (Anarchists are notoriously poor organizers.) Their slogans (they have many) include: “We are the 99 percent” and “This is what democracy looks like.”

First off, no they are not the 99 percent. They are a very tiny piece of it, many of whom hate capitalism and want to see it overturned. You know, that system that helped make this country great and provided the wealth they now loathe. That’s why a bunch of the protesters repeatedly interrupted an art auction at Sotheby’s. It’s even easier to mock the other slogan as “This is what democracy smells like,” or as one person on Twitter said, “This is what hypocrisy looks like.”

That’s the kind of criticism they bring on themselves. The group’s live video feed, which is often not live, is headlined “Global Revolution.” They can’t use megaphones (illegal), so they embrace “the people’s microphone” where the crowd repeats each line a speaker says. It brings to mind laughable socialism such as actor John Candy in “Volunteers” discussing “the people’s truck” filled with “the people’s gas.” Annie Day, one of the arrested protesters, told The New York Times her profession: “I’m a revolutionary.” The headline of their protest paper, The Occupied Wall Street Journal, is “THE REVOLUTION BEGINS AT HOME.”

Not exactly how to sell a movement to ordinary, taxpaying Americans, but demonstrators don’t really care. Remember, this is a global effort. Many protesters aren’t even American or despise American exceptionalism. But they have the force of propaganda on their side to push a typical liberal agenda and the media are throwing support behind them as well.

“A freelance reporter for The New York Times, Natasha Lennard, was among those arrested,” wrote the Times. Unsurprisingly, the police can’t tell Times reporters apart from radical leftists, a problem Americans have been grappling with for years.

Bolds are mine. FD

Excuse me as I go vomit while realizing how large a percentage of this Nation is getting their news from this propaganda machine.

Back to Kevin Gosztola once again. Just as an aside, the only reason I'm picking on Kevin here is because I agree with a lot of what he says. You don't have to be enemies to disagree on issues.

It should work to maintain a level of discipline and make sure it establishes what it is not. It should continue to aim for the impossible and remember that they have earned their power because they have occupied the park and stood their ground in the face of a media blackout, police brutality and contemptuous criticisms.

Establish what it is not? How about establishing what it is? Every single sign that mentions the Socialist Party, the Workers World Party, or some form of anti-Capitalism is a piece of propaganda for the other side. The word "Socialist" killed national healthcare, and now we think it can win the people to our causes? We have the nations attention. It's time for more concrete demands and less scaring the fuck out of middle America. Aiming for the impossible is fine, as long as you are willing to only hit the possible. Capitalism isn't going anywhere. Socialism is a dead issue in this Country at the moment. But we scare the fuck out of the Democratic Party, because they need our votes. This system of government has worked before, and it can work again. Yeah, it's broken, but are we going to chase ideologically pure pipe dreams or actually cause some change?

*Sigh* The truth? If this would have happened in 1995 or so I would have been there with a Circle A shirt waving around The Communist Manifesto. Of course, in 1995 I also believed in ghosts, psychics, fairies, witchcraft, Bigfoot, homeopathy, and shamanistic healing. Make of that what you will.

As for "remember that they have earned their power because they have occupied the park and stood their ground in the face of a media blackout, police brutality and contemptuous criticisms," I honestly can't help but laughing. Media Blackout? Perhaps at first. Now this is the story of the year. Police Brutality? No argument from me there, although if you think that was brutal, wait. Contemptuous Criticisms? You haven't even warmed up the republican noise machine yet.

If the stand you want to make is truly to tear the system down, I wish you the best. My heart goes with you, and I will shed tears when the ones with the guns, the prisons and the money either kill you, jail you, or send you home with a note to stay the fuck away. The revolution will be televised; on their terms. The most radical amongst us will be trotted out to show the public how lucky they are that the government cracked down, and the common man will be disappeared from the screen.

Last bit from Kevin Gosztola:

they need to make clear this is not about building a better Democratic Party. This is about the war on poor, working class and middle class Americans, the constant attacks on unions and how Americans are begin to have influence over their government so the assaults on poor and working Americans come to an end.

I've been wrong before, I was a junkie for the love of FSM, and as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow (or more accurately, as sure as the earth will rotate us back into sunlight), I will be wrong again. I see great things in this movement, I believe it is the most important story going on today, and I feel that it can cause great change. I also think it could just as likely overstep the possible and crash like Prometheus. Yes, this is about the war on the underclasses. Yes, it is about ending the war against working Americans. Once we have public opinion on our side, we will be unstoppable!

Call me when the Tea Party calls to sit down, break bread, and rationally discuss the issues. Or just email me. It will take a few for me to get back to you, because I will be in church since 2 plus 2 now equals 5 and I have a lot of explaining to do.

I want change. Not Barack Obama "Change!", but real change. This Nation was founded out of the Enlightenment by imperfect men who through the Constitution and the Bill of Rights sought to limit the effect of their imperfection on the people and the Nation. Yes, they made mistakes but that doesn't change how remarkable our founding documents were then and still are today. We the People have given the government too much power over us, or sat back while the power was taken. We let the monied interests takeover politics as we watched blue-filtered light from our window to the outside. How many of us gave a fucking damn when we were employed? Where were we when Florida was stolen? When Clinton fucked us with NAFTA? Were we all playing video games as the Republicans made intelligence, caring, rationality and knowledge handicaps in politics? Perhaps we weren't even born when the Right started playing us against each other, through racism, sexism, homophobia, religious bigotry and fear, but we were alive while they continued doing it, and we let it happen. You show up now, after 40 years of the country being dragged to the right, and think the system is going to crumble because you finally woke up?

Do not get me wrong. Do not misinterpret what I am saying here. I am glad you are now awake. Fuck, I'm ecstatic! Welcome back to the discussion. We NEED you! Solidarity! Where the fuck have you been since the last G-8 or WTO summit? But this is a long term fight we have picked. To win, we need the hearts and the minds of a majority of Americans. That is not going to happen over night, and it is not going to happen just from protests. The system exists. No, it isn't fair. But the system does give us one advantage; the power to swing elections and the power to hold those we elect accountable for their actions once in office. We've been ignored for far too long by the Democratic Party. It is time to pull the party back to the left, and to pull the whole political debate back towards the center. We need to reach out and educate those who we know, because the media's propaganda isn't going away, and our beliefs will be slandered to no end. Yes, I know. This path will not get us everything that we want. No one gets everything that they want. But harnessing our power towards causing constant change with an eye toward the future just seems a better choice than wasting it on a pipe dream.

We can reform the system. It will take years, dedication, compromise, and hard work. When the economy improves, it will take effort to stop people from fading back asleep. Nothing will come easy. Nothing good ever does.

I will end with the words of Naomi Klein

We all know, or at least sense, that the world is upside down: we act as if there is no end to what is actually finite—fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions. And we act as if there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually bountiful—the financial resources to build the kind of society we need.

The task of our time is to turn this around: to challenge this false scarcity. To insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society—while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take.

What climate change means is that we have to do this on a deadline. This time our movement cannot get distracted, divided, burned out or swept away by events. This time we have to succeed. And I’m not talking about regulating the banks and increasing taxes on the rich, though that’s important.

I am talking about changing the underlying values that govern our society. That is hard to fit into a single media-friendly demand, and it’s also hard to figure out how to do it. But it is no less urgent for being difficult.

That is what I see happening in this square. In the way you are feeding each other, keeping each other warm, sharing information freely and proving health care, meditation classes and empowerment training. My favorite sign here says, “I care about you.” In a culture that trains people to avoid each other’s gaze, to say, “Let them die,” that is a deeply radical statement.

If we waste this chance, how long til the next? And will it already be too late?

Flame away.

No comments: