IBI Watch 10/30/11

30 10 2011

This is What Plutocracy Looks Like

With the Occupy Wall Street protests well into their second month, and having spread to countless other locations in the US and abroad, a critical refrain is still widespread – the protests don’t have clear goals or demands.  That criticism – pushed by corporate media – is true to a point.  And it misses the point entirely.  Let’s have a look at what motivates the protests in the first place.

First two links – a brand new study by the non partisan Congressional Budget Office demonstrates just how far down the banana republic road our once-proud nation has already gone.  Of course, the CBO does not talk about banana republics – but it does document shocking and rapidly growing disparity between the few at the top – the one percent – and everyone else.  At the next link, check the charts that document the disturbing trend – driven by both globalization and tax policies in favor since 1980 – and pushed by today’s Republicans – that concentrate both wealth and income at the top. And finally, a Politicus USA piece that sums up the report details, and warns that the GOP should fear the implications.






All Protests are Equal; but Some Protests are More Equal than Others

Casual observers of the Occupy protests – and there are millions who are even less than casual observers – might think – “More protests. Just like that Tea Party stuff from a while back.”  So what of that?  More of the same?  I think not.  David Morris, of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, effectively compares the two movements.  And supporters of the Occupy protests wonder out loud, “Why the police intimidation and worse at the Occupy events, while there was no harassment whatsoever of the three-cornered hat crowd?  For me, the difference is clear.  Corporations – having bought control of politicians at all levels – rule this country, top to bottom. The Occupy protests have the potential to wake the masses up to what is really going on. That’s ‘bad fer bidness.’ So they must be stopped, by whatever means. Corporate titans lean on governors, mayors and police chiefs, and presto – teargas, rubber bullets and all sorts of ‘nonlethal’ control measures.  And then there is another matter – the ‘equipment’ Tea Partiers bring to their gatherings. The slide show at the second link proves that point.  Also – here are two updates on the kind of brutality peaceful Occupy protestors have been facing down.  The third link here is to a slide show from Denver, on Saturday 10/29.  Fourth – here is an irony for you. An Iraq war veteran – two tours in fact – showed up in Oakland to support protestors.  His reward for expressing rights he had enlisted to defend?  Critical injury at the hands of police.  And finally – while all these protests are going on, the so-called Congressional supercommittee faces a ticking clock, charged with coming up with ideas to reduce the federal deficit.  The connection here?  A brave lady who stood up during a meeting and told it like it is before being evicted by police.  Watch the video. And finally – Twin Cities author Bonnie Blodgett’s personal essay rang very true for me; and she has an idea for a massive mobile protest that builds on traditions from the past.










Protest Analysis

So where is all this headed?  Watch an interview Charlie Rose did this week with two insightful observers – Amy Goodman and Chris Hedges.  Goodman has recent, firsthand experience in these matters.  She experienced violent treatment at the hands of St. Paul Police while covering the Republican convention in 2008.  And thinking on that connection with the supercommittee (which is still hobbled by the Republicans’ unconditional opposition to any tax increases), you have to wonder what the impending austerity – which will only worsen income inequality – will mean for the protests.  Paul Krugman points out that austerity certainly is a choice – but it is only one choice.  Finally, I can’t resist a commentary that brings Thomas Paine – one of my two favorite Founders – to bear on today’s challenges.





Winter in October?  What’s with that?!

As I write, the East Coast – which I visited last week – is being pounded by a classic nor’easter.  Lots of unwelcome, early, heavy wet snow.  And Monday brings the 20-year anniversary of the Twin Cities’ Halloween blizzard.  If you listen carefully, you can hear Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the pignorant (purposefully ignorant) punditocracy priming their BS machine for the week ahead.  October snowstorms prove that those egghead scientists are nothing but chicken littles.  Global warming?  Hah!  But here is the part of the 1991 story that no one remembers.  After the incredible snow hit on Halloween, Minneapolis and St. Paul were hit again on Thanksgiving weekend with another blizzard of nearly the same severity.  Harbingers of an apocalyptic winter, we all remember . . . wrongly.  In December, it got so stinking warm that all the snow – nearly fifty inches in total – melted by New Years.  And we got hardly any the rest of that year.  As Casey Stengel said, ‘You can look it up.’  Why is this important?  Climate change denialists (I refuse to call them ‘skeptics’) repeatedly use the ‘straw man’ approach on this and other issues.  That is: misrepresent the opposing view; destroy that fake version of the opposing view; score points with an ill-informed audience; influence and/or paralyze policy.  Ask the people in Thailand what they think about extreme weather – which is happening with increasing frequency, as climate scientists have been predicting all along while the public blithely believes Limbaugh’s bombastic blather.  Ask the people in Texas – at least, the ones who are not hypnotized by Pignorant Perry.  Check the Think Progress link in this crowd for some big-picture analysis.  Joe Romm is a very reliable source.









Would You Like Flies with That?

Some experts are touting a new idea for sustainable eating.  This of course is profoundly important as we deal with the ever-growing human population, about to top seven billion.  I am all for sustainability, but this goes beyond my adventurous palate.  The BBC video at the first link is creepy and entertaining – just in time for Halloween.





Collateral Entry

Since September 2001, we have a lot more unwanted guests.  And it’s not the kind of illegal aliens Republican candidates are so fond of scapegoating.  Oops.  But hey – maybe some of these are edible.



Many Problems; Two Solutions

I have long argued that enacting two changes would start a cascade of positive change:

  • Public funding of elections (and banning corporate cash, i.e. bribery)
  • Ranked choice voting

Read about both and see if you don’t agree.  The Fair Vote MN site includes a chance for you to try out ranked choice voting.





A Sad Anniversary Observed

Just think how we could use this guy today.  Senator Paul Wellstone, in memoriam.




“We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.” –  Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.




Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Allyson Harper




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