The Watts riots happened 45 years ago today. Sparked by the arrest and beating of young African-American Marquette Frye and the detention of objecting Frye family members, the 1965 unrest happened in a context of extreme racial tension in California.
Along with the growing poverty that accompanied the post-War closing of factories in South Central L.A., the riots also happened in a context West Coast segregationist politics. By funding the passage of Proposition 14, the California Real Estate Association had just successfully cancelled out the Mumford Act, which was the part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that prevented housing discrimination on the basis of race.
After the jump: From Stacy Peralta’s 2008 documentary Crips and Bloods: Made in America, Kumasi, a former member of the street squad The Slausons, breaks down the strategy of dealing with the National Guard presence during the riots…
I’m always amused by bomb-throwing economic pundit and talkshow host Max Keiser. His fast-talking, fast-thinking tell it like it is persona is always entertaining, even when I’m not 100% in agreement with what he is saying. (I also like watching his various programs (made for Russia Today, Press TV and BBC) because he produces them using the same suitcase sized production suite that I use for the DM talkshow, the NewTek Tricaster.)
When someone who puts themselves and their opinions out there as forthright as Max Keiser does his, it tends to be a love it or hate it affair. I love the guy, how refreshing is it that someone is saying something like this? Now mind you, he’s saying it on Iran’s PressTV network, but still… he’s right:
Press TV: Is the dollar in a freefall or exactly what is going on?
Kesier: Well what’s going on is you have the banks in the United States committing a financial holocaust. It is probably the worst holocaust in the last 100 years. What there doing is they’re destroying real estate values, jobs, wages and pensions. And they do this by flooding the market with more debt in the form of US dollars. As your package accurately said, the US has no reserves upon which to issue dollars; therefore, by definition every dollar that is issued is debt. This debt holocaust is wiping out the middle class on purpose. Because the rich people in America want to buy those houses. Those millions of houses out there that people are still living in. They want to buy them back for maybe one penny on the dollar. This is a financial holocaust by design. The American bankers are holocaust brokers. They should be in front of a human rights court and taken up on human rights abuses and all hung.
Press TV: Now Max, you’re saying that it’s by design for the benefit of the rich to destroy the middle class. Wouldn’t that in effect destroy the economy as a whole?
Kesier: No, because if you’re a Goldman Sachs banker, you are completely protected from this phenomenon. Plus you’re buying gold, you’re buying silver and you’re buying tangible assets. So you are not taking any risks. It’s okay to simply wipe out the middle class. It’s a holocaust. Just like the holocaust we saw in WWII. In America we are seeing the holocaust of the middle class by a few extraordinary, greedy, corrupt bankers on Wall Street; principally Goldman Sachs, J.P Morgan and the gang.
Press TV: If the US uses the quantitative easing of printing money, do you think they want to get out of this economic downfall or do they want to continue to print the money to basically put the country more into this economic slump to benefit a few? Is that correct?
Kesier: Yes, it’s a domestic terrorist attack on a sub-group; in this case the middle class. If they wanted to bring about a solution, the solution is very easy: Ring fence all the corrupt banks, put all of that bad debt behind a firewall like they did during the savings and loans crises of the 1980s. The Resolution Trust Corruption ring fenced all the debt and they restarted the economy by creating some new banks. And these new banks were able to get loans and they could create inflation, which would have the effect of stimulating the economy. That is clearly the way the solution could be offered. But this is not what’s happening. So clearly we must conclude that the bankers on Wall Street our not doing the obvious solution but the complete opposite of what should be done. They are increasing the debt load by flooding the market destroying houses, jobs, wages and pensions.
Hear, hear! An extraordinary thing to say, I think you’ll agree, but find me the fault in his logic. If the American public was sane (which it’s not) there would be rioting in the streets and vigilante justice all over Wall Street.
Read more: ‘US Financial Elite Destroy the Dollar’ (PressTV)
These photographs taken for the US Farm Security Administration in the late 30s/early 40s are among the only color photographs taken during the Great Depression. They document the impact of the depression on small town and rural America. Each tells a story, each one a work of art.
Tara and I watched Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story this weekend (it’s on the Netflix VOD currently) and I absolutely loved it. It’s a truly great film, one that I have no doubt will be looked at and revered by future generations trying to understand what the hell happened in our backwards era. I recommend it to everyone who reads this blog and cares about my opinion. It was absolutely spellbinding to me. I felt as if I wanted to cheer several times to see someone say these things and say them so powerfully. Capitalism: A Love Story, or a film just like it, needed to be made. but there is only one guy who could have pulled off something like this, gotten it funded, herded through the distribution system and gotten a message this radical the deep penetration in the culture that it deserves, and it’s Michael Moore.
Surprisingly, Capitalism: A Love Story is perhaps the least polemic of all of Moore’s films, even if it does, at root, articulately advocate the necessity of class warfare, at least at the ballot box. Most of what Moore, or his protagonists, have to say in the film would be damed difficult to refute, perhaps this is why it doesn’t seem as confrontational as Moore’s films often are. You’d have to have a very closed mind to deny the reality of what you see on display here. Even Sean Hannity would have a hard time arguing with any of it (although I doubt he watched or will ever watch Moore’s film)
To say what Michael Moore says in Capitalism: A Love Story took balls and it also took amazing skill as a storyteller, underscoring his Mark Twain-like role in American society. After a mind-numbing section where the audience is introduced to the concept of the so-called “Dead Peasant” life insurance policies some major companies take out on their non-essential employees—unbeknownst to them—where they make more money if the employee dies, he cuts to an interview with Father Dick Preston, the Flint, Michigan-based priest who married Moore and his wife Kathleen Glynn (who interviewed me for a job once, she’s super cool).
He quietly asks the priest if capitalism is evil and what Jesus would think about free enterprise and his answer is devastating. This isn’t some left-wing loony he had to search out, this is the man who married him, the local priest who, like Moore, has witnessed the tragedy and destruction the loss of the auto industry in Flint, Michigan did to their hometown. Both of these men knows what greed does and how and who it harmed. People with first and last names.
And let me tell you, this priest fucking nails it. It’s a powerful, powerful cinematic moment.
Speaking as someone who took ten people on my own 24th birthday to see Roger and Me when it was in theaters—I also released This Divided State on DVD when I was at Disinformation—maybe I’m biased, but do yourself a favor and see this film. Better still, if you watch it and you like it, consider having a screening party at your house and invite 5 or 6 friends over to watch it and discuss it afterwards. It takes two hours to watch and could open the eyes of even a devout redneck Fox News watcher (well, some redneck Fox News watchers) to what’s really going on in this country. It’s not like Glenn Beck is ever going to tell them.
Below is one of the most powerful moments in a film full of them: rare footage taken right after FDR’s final State of the Union address where he lays out the concept of a Second Bill of Rights that would have guaranteed that all Americans have “a useful job, a decent home, adequate health care, and a good education.”
God bless Michael Moore. He’s a great American.
The Middle Class in America Is Radically Shrinking. Here Are the Stats to Prove it (Yahoo! Finance)
The U.S. Economy Is A Dead Horse And The American People Are Starting To Get Really Pissed Off And Frustrated (Economic Collapse)
Over a year ago, Bournemouth University student Jack Chute released this truly impressive short film chronicling the hard lives of Sudanese, Afghani, Palestinian and other immigrants stuck in the French port city of Calais. On a clear day, these guys can see England, a country with far more lenient visa regulations than those of France. In short, they see their futures.
I read with interest this article from Salon about a new squatters movement starting to manifest itself in New York, obviously owing to our present economic conditions. In 1983-84, I lived in a succession of squats, first in Amsterdam and then London. London in the early 1980s had a noticeable number of squatted houses in certain areas. In the south London district of Brixton, where I was at the time, I can recall entire apartment buildings and even one entire city block being occupied by squatters. It was a very interesting thing to be a part of. (I have actually been awakened by police. I don’t recommend it!)
“If you think a property might be vacant, because its windows are boarded up and so on, you have to stake it out for a while. You check out the address on the Department of Finance database to see who owns it. Ideally, it would be a bank or the city. You have to watch the building, especially at night, to make sure no one’s going in and out. After a couple of weeks you can get a pretty good idea if it’s empty or not,” said Morales, whose thick black hair, slim, fashionable goatee and athletic figure far belie his 60 years.
He expounded on the further steps for successful squatting. Safety is paramount; Morales advises all potential squatters to check the structural stability of any building, to look for rot or drooping ceilings. Only when a building’s structural integrity is verified should a group of squatters take the next steps and put their own locks on the doors and secure other possible entry points, like windows. Then, according to Morales, they should black out the windows.
“For the first month, at least, you want to stay under the radar—go in late at night, leave early in the morning,” said Morales, who also stressed the importance of having mail sent to the address with the squatters’ names on it. “If you’ve had mail delivered there for a month, and the police turn up, you use it as proof that you’ve been living there for a while, that you’re a valid resident. They usually leave you alone if you can show them that.”
There is a lot of empty property all across America and a lot of people without a place to lay their head. A building cannot be left boarded up for a long period of time. The plumbing gets messed up, vermin take up residence and so do insects. Apparently after about 18 months, a house left completely empty will become uninhabitable.
The amount of overbuilding done in America over the past decade—most of it fueled by Chinese loans—was obscene, A lot of real estate is going to get abandoned by “underwater” debtors. And there sure as hell is going to be an awful lot of commercial real estate that will get defaulted on during the next five years. Local governments should start thinking about how they can legitimize the residents’ claims to some of these abandoned buildings, because it’s probably going to get worse before it gets any better. If the squatters keep the buildings and yards up, why not let them stay there as long as they’re going to be empty otherwise? Maybe they can pay a small rent to the government for a license? It’s time to get creative with one in every eight Americans on food stamps!
You don’t know squatting: A movement returns (Salon)
Anti-piracy public service announcement from a group of “all star” pornies, including “hedgehog” Ron Jeremy, a bunch of sluts I’ve never heard of and Sarah Palin porn-a-like, Lisa Ann (I’m no fan of Palin’s but this woman looks like Sarah Palin maybe after she’s been hit in the face with a shovel).
This PSA will have perhaps less of an effect even than anti-marijuana messages, which is to say next to none. How many horny guys dialing up LubeTube will have second thoughts about stealing their product after seeing this? I’d wager zero is the winning answer to that!
Archdruid John Michael Greer’s excellent new article on how the Iceland volcano poked some very large holes in our assumptions about the way things run, and how many of our views on economics are the superstitions of the modern age. Very lucid, clear, direct-to-the-point stuff.
The widespread reaction to the Eyjafjallajokull eruption, for that matter, points up what may just be the most deeply rooted of our superstitions, the belief that Nature can be ignored with impunity. It’s only fair to point out that for most people in the industrial world, for most of a century now, this has been true more often than not; the same exuberant abundance that produced ski slopes in Dubai and fresh strawberries in British supermarkets in January made it reasonable, for a while, to act as though whatever Nature tossed our way could be brushed aside. In the emerging postabundance age, though, this may be the most dangerous superstition of all. The tide of cheap abundant energy that has defined our attitudes as much as our technologies is ebbing now, and we are rapidly losing the margin of error that made our former arrogance possible.
As that change unfolds, it might be worth suggesting that it’s time to discard our current superstitions concerning economics, energy, and nature, and replace them with some more functional approach to these things. A superstition, once again, is an observance that has become detached from its meaning, and one of the more drastic ways this detachment can take place is a change in the circumstances that make that meaning relevant. This has arguably happened to our economic convictions, and to a great many more of the commonplaces of modern thought; and it’s simply our bad luck, so to speak, that the consequences of pursuing those superstitions in the emerging world of scarcity and contraction are likely to be considerably more destructive than those of planting by the signs or leaving a dish of milk on the back step.