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Capitalism is like cigarettes


 
Capitalism is like cigarettes by diomedes77, blogging at Daily Kos. Since this is so short and there’s no way to elegantly excerpt it, I’m posting the whole thing here with apologies to diomedes77. Something tells me that diomedes77 probably won’t mind seeing this message spread here, too:

And neither liberals, progressives or conservatives understand what that means.

The right wants their ciggies without filters. Liberals and progressives, OTOH, want to smoke, too, but they want filters in place. Even smart liberals and progressives, who seem to get that smoking is bad for you and why, don’t want to get rid of cigarettes. They just want to “contain” the damage they do. They can’t make the logical leap to ridding the planet of those ciggies entirely. They can’t seem to draw the logical inference that even filtered cigarettes cause cancer.

Conservatives and right-wing libertarians (propertarians) want their capitalism straight up, no mixer, no ice. Progressives and liberals want to add soda, pour it on the rocks, and drink a lot of water afterwards. But they still get drunk, just like righties, and their livers are still rotten.

No matter what we do to capitalism, no matter how we filter it or mix it with soda or pour it on the rocks, it’s never going to be anything more than an infernal machine to create economic apartheid and destroy the planet. Its very nature is to extract wealth and resources from the earth, workers and consumers and hoover it all up to the very top, thus forever creating massive inequality. Baked right into the system is theft—theft from workers, consumers and Nature itself. It’s very nature is irredeemably in conflict with the interests of the vast majority of humans and the planet itself.

It can not be “managed” or “filtered” or sustained. It must always expand, and its expansion means greater and greater instability, inequality and the destruction of our environment. It is nothing but a cancer, and its own “success” means the destruction of its host.

If the OWS movement is not “anti-capitalist” at its very core, then it is nothing but a movement to filter and manage and contain some of the damage fomented automatically by our economic system. If it is not in favor of an entirely new, structurally egalitarian economic system, then it might as well just call itself “The Third Way” or “No Labels” and be done with it.

Want to reverse the tide of inequality that has swept the world? Want to reverse the damage wrought on our environment, our seas, our land? Want to create a livable future for everyone? Then we must stop deluding ourselves that capitalism can be “fixed”. It is beyond redemption.

 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Egyptian women’s group calls on men to try out the veil

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Aliaa El Mahdy, an Egyptian university student, is changing the way men view women by setting up a Facebook page, where Egyptian men can post photographs of themselves wearing veils. The page called Resounding Cries, was launched on November 1st and has had dozens of men sending in their snaps - though not everyone is happy with what El Mahdy is doing, as she explained to France 24:

For me, the veil is not a personal choice in Egypt, but the result of social and religious pressure. The girls I know who wear the veil do so because of their families or to avoid being hassled in the street. I don’t see why we should always dictate what women must wear and never what men must wear. Asking guys to put on the veil, if only for the time it takes to take the photo, is a way of saying to them ‘See how this feels!”

The other reason I launched this page is because society still considers women as sex objects. [83% of Egyptian women claim to have been victims of sexual harassment. Some women feel that the veil is a necessary form of protection against assault] . Many people, even on television, denounce the harassment of women in Egypt, but in my opinion this is not enough.

Obviously, I have been attacked and insulted because of this Facebook page. Some Internet users have responded to me by citing verses of the Koran. I realise that this is shocking for a conservative society like ours, but I am not going to change my ideas because of that.

Though there has been some controversy over Aliaa El Mahdy’s idea, there has been some support for holding a peaceful demonstration in Tahrir Square, in Cairo, which would be a very positive thing to see happen.
 
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2 more pics, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Eric Cantor gets ‘mic-checked’ by Occupy Houston


 
A look at lick-spittle lackey of the 1%, Republican House Majority leader Eric Cantor, getting “mic-checked” by Occupy Houston and some Rice University grad students.

There is no schadenfreude quite as satisfying for me as Republican schadenfreude, but when something uncomfortable happens to Eric Cantor in particular, hey, it gets even better!

On a related note, read The Republican Party’s time has come— and gone by Laurence Lewis over at Daily Kos:

The Republican Party needs to be put out of its misery. A functioning Republic needs at least one opposition party, but the current and likely final iteration of the Republican Party is not it. The current iteration of the Democratic Party could be it, should it continue to fail to live up to its greatest history and increasingly mythological ideals, but that would depend on the creation of a legitimately viable progressive party, and for now at least that is not going to happen. But for the Democratic Party to recapture the magic of its greatest history, or failing that for a legitimately viable liberal party to emerge from the wreckage that is our current political system, the Republican Party must be put out of its misery. Whether you are a loyal Democrat, a wavering frustrated Democrat, a progressive Independent, or whether you are dreaming of the emergence of a legitimately viable liberal alternative, the Republican Party must be put out of its misery. All liberals and progressives should be able to unite behind that idea. Because if the Republican Party is put out of its misery, the Democrats no longer will be able to use the Republicans as excuse or foil and will once and for all finally be forced to prove what they are or aren’t really about.

The embarrassment of embarrasments that is the Republican presidential field ought to be the final proof that the Republican Party has ceased to serve any valuable role in our political system. The lunatics have taken over. The Republican rejection of science and rationality once served various tactical purposes, but in previous generations it always was a feint to the theocrats whose primary political purpose for the Republicans was to enable the kleptocrats and the neo-Royalists. But while the Republican financial base continues to be those extremely wealthy who lack all conscience, its voting base now is the ignorant and the reality challenged. Most of the current Republican presidential field is not merely playing to this base, it is of it. No serious person can look at Herman Cain or Rick Perry or Ron Paul or Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum and see a future president. In a less surreal world these would be but cartoon characters. And yet one of them or someone equally absurd still may become the Republican presidential nominee. The base of the party desperately hopes so.

Continue reading The Republican Party’s time has come— and gone (Daily Kos)
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The New Progressive Movement: #OWS signals the end of the Reagan era


 
In an inspiring Op Ed piece in today’s New York Times, Columbia University’s Jeffrey D. Sachs takes but a few paragraphs to thoroughly demolish the dominant ur-myths of the past three decades of Republican politics, and to illustrate how the New Progressive Era is already upon us.

Both clueless Democrats and ignorant, rightwing assholes like Frank Miller should read this short essay very carefully:

Occupy Wall Street and its allied movements around the country are more than a walk in the park. They are most likely the start of a new era in America. Historians have noted that American politics moves in long swings. We are at the end of the 30-year Reagan era, a period that has culminated in soaring income for the top 1 percent and crushing unemployment or income stagnation for much of the rest. The overarching challenge of the coming years is to restore prosperity and power for the 99 percent.

Thirty years ago, a newly elected Ronald Reagan made a fateful judgment: “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” Taxes for the rich were slashed, as were outlays on public services and investments as a share of national income. Only the military and a few big transfer programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits were exempted from the squeeze.

Reagan’s was a fateful misdiagnosis. He completely overlooked the real issue — the rise of global competition in the information age — and fought a bogeyman, the government. Decades on, America pays the price of that misdiagnosis, with a nation singularly unprepared to face the global economic, energy and environmental challenges of our time.

Washington still channels Reaganomics. The federal budget for nonsecurity discretionary outlays — categories like highways and rail, education, job training, research and development, the judiciary, NASA, environmental protection, energy, the I.R.S. and more — was cut from more than 5 percent of gross domestic product at the end of the 1970s to around half of that today. With the budget caps enacted in the August agreement, domestic discretionary spending would decline to less than 2 percent of G.D.P. by the end of the decade, according to the White House. Government would die by fiscal asphyxiation.

Both parties have joined in crippling the government in response to the demands of their wealthy campaign contributors, who above all else insist on keeping low tax rates on capital gains, top incomes, estates and corporate profits. Corporate taxes as a share of national income are at the lowest levels in recent history. Rich households take home the greatest share of income since the Great Depression. Twice before in American history, powerful corporate interests dominated Washington and brought America to a state of unacceptable inequality, instability and corruption. Both times a social and political movement arose to restore democracy and shared prosperity.

Sachs goes on to state what already seems self-evident to many of us:

This is just the beginning.

The young people in Zuccotti Park and more than 1,000 cities have started America on a path to renewal. The movement, still in its first days,  will have to expand in several strategic ways. Activists are needed among shareholders, consumers and students to hold corporations and politicians to account. Shareholders, for example, should pressure companies to get out of politics. Consumers should take their money and purchasing power away from companies that confuse business and political power. The whole range of other actions — shareholder and consumer activism, policy formulation, and running of candidates — will not happen in the park.

The New Progressive Movement (The New York Times)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Inside Occupy Wall Street


 
“The anti-globalization movement was the first step on the road. Back then, our model was to attack the system like a pack of wolves. There was an alpha male, a wolf who led the pack, and those who followed behind. Now the model has evolved. Today we are one big swarm of people.” —Raimundo Viejo

The “story” of Occupy Wall Street has been in small chunks via thousands of articles, news reports, viral videos and blog posts—my personal account of what I saw is here—but this in-depth report from Jeff Sharlet at Rolling Stone is a particularly insightful look at the movement from the earliest days (ahem, STILL less than two months ago!). Sharlet actually slept in Zuccotti Park himself, one of the first journalists I’ve read who has done so. I didn’t find anything in this article that didn’t jibe with my own direct experiences of what I saw at OWS myself. This is some good journalism:

On August 2nd, the New York City General Assembly convened for the first time in Lower Manhattan, right by the market’s bronze icon, “Charging Bull,” snorting in perpetuity. It wasn’t the usual protest crowd. “The traditional left – the unions, the progressive academics, the community organizations – wanted nothing to do with this in the beginning,” says Marisa Holmes, a 25-year-old filmmaker from Columbus, Ohio, who was working on a BBC documentary called Creating Freedom, about why people rebel. “I think it’s telling that, of the early participants, so many were artists and media makers.”

Even the instigators and architects present at the creation marvel at how things just happened. “It was a magic moment,” says Kalle Lasn, Adbusters’ 69-year-old co-founder. “After that, things took on a life of their own, and then it was out of our hands.”

Adbusters’ call to arms had been timid by the standards of the movement quickly taking form. The magazine had proposed a “worldwide shift in revolutionary tactics,” but their big ideas went no further than pressuring Obama to appoint a presidential commission on the role of money in politics. In Lasn’s imagination, though, that would be just the start. “We knew, of course, that Egypt had a hard regime change where a torturous dictator was removed,” he says, “but many of us felt that in America, a soft regime change was possible.”

Possible, but not likely. They were still thinking in inches. “To be perfectly honest, we thought it might be a steppingstone, not the establishment of a whole thing,” says David Graeber, a 50-year-old anthropologist and anarchist whose teaching gig at Yale was not renewed, some suspect, because he took part in radical actions. It was Graeber who gave the movement its theme: “We are the 99 percent.” He also helped rescue it from the usual sorry fate of the left in America, the schisms and infighting over who’s in charge. He had shown up at the August 2nd meeting thinking it was an Adbusters thing; he was surprised to find a rally dominated by the antiquated ideas of the Cold War left. “This is bullshit,” Graeber thought. He recognized a Greek anarchist organizer, Georgia Sagri, and with her help identified kindred spirits. “We looked around. I didn’t recognize faces, everybody was so young. I went by T-shirts – Zapatistas, Food Not Bombs.” Anarchists in name or inclination. He calls them the “horizontal crowd” because they loathe hierarchy. “It was really just tapping on shoulders. And a lot of people said, ‘Shit, yeah.’”

Inside Occupy Wall Street: How a bunch of anarchists and radicals with nothing but sleeping bags launched a nationwide movement (Rolling Stone)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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David Crosby and Graham Nash at Occupy Wall Street


 
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Teach Your Children,” released 41 years ago, was one of those tunes that seemed hopelessly corny when I first heard it, preachy in the worst hippie fashion.

As an 18-year-old flower child, CSN&Y’s Deja Vu was supposed to resonate with me—it did for most of my generation ( the album’s tracks wafted from open windows throughout Berkeley). But I was a flower child about to go to seed and their musical macramé left rope burns on what was left of my hippie dippy sensibility. I understand deja vu as a kind of compression of space and time, but when things move swiftly, stopping in your tracks to observe frozen, insistent memories is the very antithesis of what made the youth movement so vital—we were moving forward not looking back and certainly not letting deja vu trip us up. Had we been here before? No. It just feels familiar because it feels so fucking right.

CSN&Y seemed like a bunch of rich hipsters whose biggest concerns revolved around whether to cut their hair and self-doubt about their parenting skills. My hair was still long, would remain so, and all I cared about was screwing the chicks hanging out in Ho Chi Min Park.

Looking back, I figure CSN&Y, along with the wave of Topanga Canyon and Malibu longhair country-rock bands that followed in their wake, factored into why I was driven in the direction of Iggy And The Stooges and the MC5. For me, CSN&Y marked the point when the Sixties became too hopelessly self-referential, choking on its own patchouli scented vomit.

But fuck the past, right now this song and these guys seem very real and soulful to me thanks to this video. David Crosby and Graham Nash are looking forward and deja vu is now the middle space between what was and what is going to be.

Brothers, I salute you.

Still waiting for the “Street Fighting Men” and Mr. “Born To Run” to make the scene. Where’s the rock and roll 1% when we need ‘em?

The fact that you can’t have electronic pubic public address systems in Zuccotti Park results in an amplification system that is flesh, bone, blood and communal.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Occupy Wall Street teach-in with Douglas Rushkoff


 
“They say the Occupy movement has no leaders. They are wrong. YOU are the leaders! The rest of us are your followers! What you do here shows us what we can do out there.”

A history lesson about a 500-year old operating program that’s cramping our style in the 21st century delivered at Zuccotti Park today in downtown Manhattan by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff.

“If you can sleep under tarps, the rest of us can tell your story to our children at bedtime…”

Beautiful. I love it. Please spread this message far and wide. Shot by Janine Saunders.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Occupy Fox News


 
This commercial ran three times during Wednesday night’s episode of The O’Reilly Factor. It’s also aired on Bloomberg, ESPN, the History Channel and elsewhere

If you’d like to chip in to buy more national media time for this Occupy Wall Street ad and others, you can do so via Loudsauce.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Ohio Gov John Kasich is an idiot


 

After seeing over two million voters deliver a whopping 61% to 39% rejection of his party’s strong-arm tactics to strip collective bargaining rights from public employees, Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich did one of those “open mouth and remove all doubt” things they tell fools not to do:

At a news conference Tuesday night, Mr. Kasich congratulated the winners and said he would assess the situation before proposing any new legislation. “It’s time to pause,” he said. “The people have spoken clearly.”

When asked about the people’s message, Mr. Kasich said, “They might have said it was too much too soon.”

“They might have said”? Might? Might nothing asshole, it was a 61% to 39% vote! Even reliably Republican counties voted against harming their friends and neighbors. No one except stupid people in the state ever believed GOP union-busting had anything to do with creating jobs. And to demonize teachers, fire fighters and police officers as lazy, coddled bums? I mean the whole thing was just so… predictable.

“Too much, too soon”? Jon Stewart, here comes an easy work day, courtesy of one of the most tone-deaf politicians in America.. More people turned up to vote against SB-5 than voted for Kasish himself in the last election, even. This man is a fucking plank.

Attention Republicans! Let me spell it out for you:

The majority of the general public—the ones who aren’t braying asses, at least—does not want to cut government programs for people like themselves.

The American people are starting to wise up in an unprecedented manner to the bleak future our corporate overlords and their craven vassals like Kasish have planned for us. And so the Reichwing is starting to get a better sense of how deep the backlash is. This is why the GOP is stepping up their efforts to discourage voter registration among younger, older and poorer voters who tend to vote for Democrats. If you can’t beat ‘em… uh… try to change the rules mid-game, I suppose?

There’s a big problem in their math, though, and it’s a fatal error indeed: There are more of us than there are of them…

99 to one? I’ll take those odds!

As I am fond of reminding myself, demographics are a bitch for the Republican party... Even with the 1%‘s special interest money behind them, they’re still gonna lose and keeping losing until they’re just a minority party of cranky racist stingy “olds.” That’s pretty much what they are now, but when the Baby Boomers start dying off en masse (and it won’t be long before that happens) the Republican Party is toast.

Think of Republicans as newspaper subscribers. That’s how I think of them. Comforting thought isn’t it?

Meanwhile over in Wisconsin, Scott Walker must be absolutely pissing himself as he contemplates how brief his tenure in the governor’s office will have been and what his next career move will be since elected politics will probably not be much of an option for him moving forward…

The Walker recall efforts in WI got a big shot in the arm from labor’s HUGE win in Ohio. If you’d like to contribute to boot that Koch whore from office, you can donate at ActBlue.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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London Police prepared to use Rubber Bullets against Student Demonstrators

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I recall years ago, during the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, an article in a Socialist Republican magazine that stated if rubber bullets were to be used in the 6 counties, then one day, they would be openly used by the police on mainland Britain.

That day has arrived, as Scotland Yard announced yesterday that baton rounds, or rubber bullets, have been authorized for a student demonstration in London tomorrow.

What the fuck? A student demonstration merits rubber bullets?

According to the Daily Mail:

Baton gun rounds have never been used on the British mainland, but they have been linked to deaths in Northern Ireland.

Commander Simon Pountain, who is in charge of the police operation, said armoured vehicles, known as Jankels, would also be on standby if the protests saw a repeat of this summer riots or the chaos last year during the student fees demonstrations.

Baton rounds were pre-authorised during August’s riots but were not used. This is the first time they have been pre-authorised for a planned protest march on the mainland.

The march, organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, is due to go from Bloomsbury in Central London to the City. It is being kept away from the St Paul’s anti-capitalism protest but activists from the cathedral camp are expected to join in.

Last year, the then Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson was criticised for only sending out 225 officers who were overwhelmed by hordes of rampaging student protesters smashing into the Conservative Party headquarters on November 10.

And on December 9, during another student protest, Prince Charles’s limousine was besieged in the worst royal security breach in a decade.

The Duchess of Cornwall’s face was a mask of terror as rioters swarmed around their Rolls-Royce Phantom VI, kicking, hitting and rocking the car. One managed to poke her with a stick through a window.

I wonder if the Duchess’s face will be a “mask of terror” should any students be shot with rubber bullets tomorrow?

Baton Rounds are made of aluminium and plastic, and are fired from a Heckler & Koch L104A1 Launcher.

6 inches in length, and weighing 5 ounce, they can travel up to 135mph and accurate to 70 yards.

Unlike rubber bullets which are fired into the ground, baton rounds are fired directly at a human target.

The blog on the Adam Smith Institute has described the police plans as:

...a worrying step towards a dangerous “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to riot control, and should be reversed.

Despite widespread public perception of them as relatively harmless method of crowd control, rubber bullets are extremely dangerous. In a study of 90 patients suffering from injuries from their use in Northern Ireland, one person died and 17 were permanently disabled or disfigured. Over 35 years of their use in Northern Ireland, they have killed 17 people. Rubber bullets can be lethal to those they are fired upon.

Perhaps such force was needed at times in Northern Ireland. But it’s obvious that student protesters won’t present the same level of danger to civilians and police officers as riots at the height of the Troubles. Previous student protests have turned ugly, but not on a wide scale. The types of clashes that took place would not have been avoided by rubber bullets.

While the Daily Telegraph notes:

The talk of baton rounds ahead of what is intended to be a peaceful protest caused some consternation.

One member of the Metropolitan Police Authority compared the tactic to one used by a “murderous dictatorship”.

Jenny Jones, the MPA Green Party members, said: “Any officer that shoots a student with a baton round will have to answer to the whole of London.

“The police have a duty to facilitate peaceful demonstrations, which is why all this talk of baton rounds is very unhelpful as it will stop ordinary people from exercising their right to protest.

“The prospect of the police shooting at unarmed demonstrators with any kind of bullet is frankly appalling, un-British and reminiscent of scenes currently being used by murderous dictatorships in the Middle East.”

10,000 students are expected to march tomorrow against Fees and Cuts, and its not just the threat of rubber bullets the police have been using to bully the students.

The Guardian reports that some demonstrators have been sent a warning letter by the police.

The single page letter, which arrived through letter boxes on Tuesday, reads: “It is in the public and your own interest that you do not involve yourself in any type of criminal or antisocial behaviour. We have a responsibility to deliver a safe protest which protects residents, tourists, commuters, protesters and the wider community. Should you do so we will at the earliest opportunity arrest and place you before the court.”

Signed by Simon Pountain, the Met commander leading Wednesday’s operations, the letter goes on to warn of detrimental effects of conviction on their chances of employment and says that if people find themselves near disorder they should move away at the earliest opportunity.

Let’s be clear - these actions by the police are ill-conceived and dumb. By sending out what can only be described as threatening letters and by announcing they intend to use baton rounds, if required, the police are showing they are more interested in bullying the public with the threat of violence, rather than protecting them.

For details of the tomorrow’s student demonstration by National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts check here.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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