That’s a comforting idea, but maybe not as true as we might wish. Politicians, of course, say whatever they think they have to say to get elected. For the most part, this has always been true. Only the mavericks like Ron Paul are willing to say exactly what they think, regardless of the result, which is why they seldom get elected. Except as curiosities.
For weeks now, mainstream media outlets, and some in the movement itself, have struggled with one pervading question about the Occupy Wall Street protesters who began gathering in Zuccotti Square on September 17: What do they want?
It’s very clear, after all, what they don’t want: That is, they don’t want the economic or social status quo to continue unabated.
But now, there may be something approaching consensus emerging, at least via the movement’s Tumblr blog and guerrilla PR team.
On Sunday, prolific ecofinance blogger and Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal, akaRortybomb, posted an eye-opening analysis of the movement’s ideology based entirely on the wording of protesters’ signs that appear in the Tumblr blog’s photos.
Konczal explained his methdology as follows:“I created a script designed to read all of the pages and parse out the html text on the site. It doesn’t read the images (can anyone in the audience automate calls to an OCR?), just the html text. After collecting all the text on all the pages, the code then goes through it to try to find interesting points.”
Read more click above link
I’m not finding much to object to in all of this, and I’m curious to see whether this bunch avoids too much ideology. In rejecting 20th Century solutions, it would be refreshing to escape ideological constraints.
Today is World Day Against the Death Penalty. If you’re not working to change people’s minds about this issue, what are you doing?
As Human Rights Watch astutely notes:
October 10, 2011 is the ninth annual World Day against the Death Penalty, and this year marks 35 years since the United States reinstated capital punishment in 1976. In that time, 1,271 people have been electrocuted, shot, hanged, gassed, or put to death by lethal injection.
So, what do you do with people who murder other people, often in gruesome and horrible ways? How do you rationalize permitting them to continue to draw breathe in human society?
“A Church Of Dissent”
That’s Matt Stoller’s description of Occupy Wall Street
“Seeking meaning,” is a good description. It’s clear that this is more a group dynamic than a movement. But they will not “matter,” unless they are a force for change.
If we had to identify the moment at which this year’s Values Voter Summit officially went off the rails, we’d probably go with the time the pastor who endorsed Rick Perry accused Mitt Romney of belonging to a “cult.”
You mean Mormonism isn’t a cult — a very big, rich cult, but really, what else would you call it?
Burn money. Burn lots of money.
Put it into barrels and start a fire. Keep warm around it. Sing songs of merriment and civil disobedience.
If there’s one thing that filthy rich and corrupt businessmen and politicians loathe, it’s seeing money burn.
I’m just saying that you can’t start a fire without a spark. (Ten points for the Bruce Springsteen reference.)
Socrates, you know the rich already have money to burn. In the U.S.A.
This is actually incoherent.
If Obama wanted to come out in support of gay marriage, now would be a good time. This is the same venue where he, in 2009, first came out against “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Two years later, it’s gone. Will be interesting to watch.
He considers talking to be his strong suit. In truth, it’s his only suit, and even the magic of his oratory is much faded.
We’re talking about a democratic awakening. We’re talking about raising political consciousness, so it spills over; all parts of the country so people can begin to see what’s going on through a different set of lens. And then you begin to highlight what the more detailed demands would be, because in the end we’re really talking about what Martin King would call a revolution; a transfer of power from oligarchs to every day people of all colors, and that is a step-by-step process. It’s a democratic process, it’s a non-violent process, but it is a revolution, because these oligarchs have been transferring wealth from poor and working people at a very intense rate in the last 30 years, and getting away with it, and then still smiling in our faces and telling us it’s our fault. That’s a lie, and this beautiful group is a testimony to that being a lie.
When you get the makings of a U.S. autumn responding to the Arab Spring, and is growing and growing—-I hope it spills over to San Francisco and Chicago and Miami and Phoenix, Arizona, with our brown brothers and sisters, hits our poor white brothers and sisters in Appalachia—-so. it begins to coalesce. And I tell you, it is sublime to see all the different colors, all the different genders, all the different sexual orientations and different cultures, all together here in Liberty Plaza; there’s no doubt about it."
Cornel West, interview. Democracy Now!, 29 September 2011
A good response to people who keep demanding that the OWS protestors draw up some sort of platform of demands. That rarely happens in the early stages of liberation movements. At the moment, it’s about raising the consciousness of everyday Americans who have thus far accepted the notion that the U.S. is a democratic, fair, and equal society. It may be a strange notion to most Americans, but our country is one that—like the countries involved in the Arab Spring—is crying out for a democratic revolution.
Thank you, Mr. West. Sounds a lot like fostering a protest culture. It’s time to normalize this type of dissent, because it doesn’t just belong to easily mocked stereotypes. It’s for everyone. Think about it.
Read it again. It lacks any substance. It’s typical of Mr. West’s generation. If people want change, they need to think some fresh thoughts. Redistribution of wealth through the existing structures will do nothing but sink the society. Economic growth is the key. Opportunity comes from growth — growing the pie. Have a plan for growth, not just some 20th Century bitch & whine about rich people. The essence of American vitality is the desire to get rich.
Christie Doesn’t Go to ChinaThe New Jersey governor defends the messy but essential process of democracy.30 September 2011
In his speech on Tuesday at the Reagan Library, New Jersey governor Chris Christie said that when America tackles even domestic issues, “the whole world is watching.” Then he defended an American principle more important than any of the specific economic policies he mentioned: “Divided government,” that is, governance in which disagreement is the order of the day and compromises can only be reached after extensive debate. Defending democracy may not seem radical, but Christie’s words offered a welcome antidote to the prescriptions that so many of our corporate leaders and their mouthpieces have suggested lately: Why can’t America be more like China?
It’s not just New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, conventional-wisdom dispenser to the C-suite, who wrote in 2009 that “one-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages.” This past week, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent told the Financial Timesthat doing business in China is terrific. In China, he said, “You have a one-stop shop in terms of the Chinese foreign investment agency and local governments are fighting for investment with each other.” He praised, too, in the FT’s paraphrase, “China’s budget discipline.”
Kent joins casino magnate Steve Wynn, who told investors in July that although he’d like to create “tens of thousands of jobs in Las Vegas,” he is “afraid to do anything in the current political environment of the United States,” as “you watch television and see what’s going on, on this debt-ceiling issue.” Wynn noted how much easier it was in China:
September will be our fifth anniversary in the People’s Republic … and we love it there. We are so grateful to be part of that market and to be allowed to participate … . We find the political environment, the regulatory environment, the human-resource environment that we’re in to be absolutely delicious. Life is quite straightforward in China. The government is predictable.
Wynn and Kent have at least partial company in asset-management titan Stephen Schwarzman of The Blackstone Group. While not championing China, Schwarzman wrote in the Financial Times in September that to avoid a “long period of potential decline,” America needs “the ability to put together a cohesive team,” just as distressed companies do. Indeed, like a business, he wrote, the U.S. requires a “united front—that is the key. This united front needs to include everyone.” America’s lack of consensus on how to achieve long-term fiscal stability, Schwarzman writes, is “embarrassing.” In his view, everyone is at fault: Tea Party members, for “attack[ing] the administration and the Democrats,” and Obama administration officials, for having “attribute[ed] blame for the financial and economic crisis” to financial firms. “A united front is difficult when our leaders cannot even agree within their own parties,” Schwarzman observes.
Earlier this week, former President Bill Clinton joined the mindless-political-consensus bandwagon, saying at a New York forum that “there’s not a single example on the planet of a successful country with a growing income and a growing job base that doesn’t have … an effective government working together on a coordinated economic strategy.” Outdoing them all, North Carolina Governor Bev Purdue got straight to the point this week, suggesting that “we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover.”
You know what would be less “embarrassing” but truly worrisome? If Americans were to stop engaging in the robust debate that necessarily precludes a monolithic “united front.” America faces as-yet-unanswered questions about an unknowable future. How much, if at all, should Washington cut defense spending? How much should the government continue to protect our financial industry? How high should marginal tax rates be? Is Social Security a Ponzi scheme or a sacred social-insurance program—or both? The last thing we need as we navigate these issues is premature “unity,” cemented by the type of wise-man consensus that helped get us into this mess. If the nation suddenly unified, it would run the risk of again choosing the wrong answer, with few dissenting voices able to break through the groupthink.
So let’s be thankful that we’re not China. There, the government can decree that it wants a favored class of people to take group tours to new resort casinos, and—behold—the favored class takes group tours to new resort casinos. We’re America, where people have freely decided to become more frugal with their hard-earned dollars, despite a massive federal stimulus. Of course, if you’re Steve Wynn, the new frugality is nothing to cheer. In Las Vegas, he says, “we get people that carry their beer in from 7-Eleven, move their own bags and don’t eat in our fine dining. We can’t use them.”
Maybe Chinese government officials can approve permits and award tax breaks much quicker than American officials can, as Coke’s Kent prefers. But that’s at least partly because China’s government quashes pesky dissenters on everything from environmental to labor questions. As for Schwarzman: he’s a risk manager, so he should surely appreciate that the unquantifiable future risk of putting a “unified nation” behind the wrong answer is potentially far greater than the easily quantified and bearable present reality of some hurt feelings and nasty headlines. “Unity” in the wrong direction would hurt ordinary Americans in more ways than merely looking disorganized and impolite to global investors. Finally, as for Clinton’s “coordinated economic strategy”: our centrally planned economic strategy of homeownership for everyone didn’t work out so well, did it?
To his credit, Governor Christie seems to understand what America needs. He said Tuesday that in his state, a functional government “does not mean that we have no argument or acrimony. There are serious disagreements, sometimes expressed loudly—Jersey style.” He said the problem in Washington is not that division exists, but that the tenor of the division, as displayed in the debt-ceiling debate, can make “our democracy appear as if we could no longer effectively govern ourselves.” While no advocate of unthinking unity, Christie also recognizes the need for constructive compromise in a democratic system.
If the rumors are correct that Christie hasn’t ruled out a presidential run, more people might hear this crucial message. Democracy isn’t a quiet, invitation-only cocktail party hosted by an authoritarian regime. In a democracy, we argue things out.
Nicole Gelinas, a City Journal contributing editor and the Searle Freedom Trust Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is the author of After the Fall: Saving Capitalism from Wall Street—and Washington.
From City Journal September 30, 2011
The economist is set to lose funding from the Danish government due to what they call his “ideological” focus on problem solving.
He is well-known for his skepticism on the severity of climate change effect models, instead suggesting that governments learn to adapt to changing climate instead of preventing it. Recently, though, he seemed to change his tune, agreeing that the world was past the point when climate science was up for serious argument.
Looks like he had already made too many enemies.
Thought control. The new orthodoxy in action.
Why Are Evolution and Climate Deniers So Often the Same People? - a piece by Chris Mooney (author of Unscientific America)
They aren’t, but it makes you feel good to think so.
Saudi King Abdullah announced Sunday that the nation’s women will gain the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections to be held in 2015 in a major advancement for the rights of women in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom.
In an annual speech before his advisory assembly, or Shura Council, the Saudi monarch said he ordered the step after consulting with the nation’s top religious clerics, whose advice carries great weight in the kingdom…
The right to vote is by far the biggest change introduced by Abdullah, considered a reformer, since he became the country’s de facto ruler in 1995…
Finally. More change in an area of the world with no democracy before George took out Saddam.
A United States soldier was booed at a Republican Presidential Debate because he’s gay, and the candidates said nothing?
Am I getting this right?
I hope not. So, what was he doing there, just being gay for everyone’s benefit? Did he wear a sign, “I am a gay soldier?” What was all this all about, anyway?