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Stop the presses

The New York Times is so excited about this story that they have three top flight political reporters on it. Seriously:

Chris Christie’s political advisers are working to determine whether they could move fast enough to set up effective political operations in Iowa and New Hampshire in the wake of a relentless courtship aimed at persuading Mr. Christie, the governor of New Jersey, to plunge into the race for the Republican presidential nomination, according to operatives briefed on the preparations.

Mr. Christie has not yet decided whether to run and has not authorized the start of a full-fledged campaign operation. But with the governor now seriously considering getting in, his strategists — many of them veterans of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s 2008 campaign — are internally assessing the financial and logistical challenges of mounting a race with less than 100 days until voting is likely to begin.

What about Sarah Palin, huh? I need to know her latest passing thoughts on running too? How about Frederick of Hollywood Thompson? I hear he's awake from his nap.

This is what passes for political news. People are talking about what the logistics are for Chris Christie if he decides to enter the race. I'm riveted.


Government Poltroons

I read this typically bellicose Max Boot piece with a surge of bile in my throat. I know people like this have been around forever, but I am still gobsmacked that they feel so comfortable throwing this stuff out there like it's common sense. There's a lot of that going around with the Al-Awlaki matter:

A few civil libertarians are raising questions about whether the U.S. government had the right to kill an American citizen without a trial....That's like asking if it was lawful to kill Confederate soldiers at Gettysburg. Like the rebels during the Civil War, Awlaki and Khan gave up the benefits of American citizenship by taking up arms against their country. They, and other Al Qaeda members, claim to be "soldiers" in the army of Allah; it is only fitting that their avowed enemy, the Great Satan, would take their protestations seriously and treat them just like enemy soldiers. If it's lawful to drop a missile on a Saudi or Egyptian member of Al Qaeda, it's hard to see why an American citizen should be exempt.

Reams and reams have been written about the relative morality of war and the state killing of its own citizens. I'm not going to answer that question. But the United States had, up until now, established some pretty clear guidelines in these matters.

I'll let Kevin Drum spell it out. He points out the obvious, which is that the state would have many options other than sending in a drone plane if Al-Awlaki were living in the United States. Indeed, it would be required to use those other methods since we don't generally believe that the they've "declared war" on their government. If they did, we'd be looking at a whole lot of dead militia members and Tea Partiers who use those words all the time.

Kevin writes:

The Civil War analogy suggests that even if Awlaki had been living within the United States he would have been fair game for a presidential assassination merely for belonging to a group that calls itself an offshoot of al-Qaeda.

In fact, I doubt that Boot believes this. He does not, in truth, think that President Obama can empower the FBI to roam the country and gun down American citizens who are plotting against us, whether they belong to al-Qaeda affiliates or not. He's merely using the Civil War analogy because it was handy and seemed like it might sound plausible to readers who didn't think about it too much.

I don't know what Boot believes and it wouldn't surprise me if he really does think the president has the right to order the killings of anyone --- who Max Boot thinks is worthy of killing. The rub, of course, is when he disagrees about the target. Police states always present that one little problem, don't they?

These fatuous arguments are all over the place as adherents seek to justify something that is happening without any serious debate or legal justification. Kevin is confident that Presidents are unlikely to abuse this manufactured right to kill US citizens, but I'm a paranoid sort and I don't think a free people should ever take that chance. But we are in full agreement here:

But there are good and sound reasons that presidents are constrained in their ability to unilaterally kill U.S. citizens, regardless of where they live, and we allow these bright lines to be dimmed at our peril. Unfortunately, the war on terror has made poltroons out of every branch of government. The president hides behind the post-9/11 AUMF, using it as a shield to justify any action as long as it's plausibly targeted at al-Qaeda or something al-Qaeda-ish. Congress, which ought to pass a law that specificially spells out due process in cases like this, cowers in its chambers and disdains any responsbility. And the courts, as usual, throw up their hands whenever they hear the talismanic word "war" and declare themselves to have no responsibility.

If the president wants the power to kill U.S. citizens who aren't part of a recognized foreign army and haven't received a trial, he should propose a law that spells out when and how he can do it. Congress should debate it, and the courts should rule on its constitutionality. That's the rule of law. And regardless of whether I liked the law, I'd accept it if Congress passed it, the president signed it, and the Supreme Court declared it constitutional.

However, none of that has happened. The president's power in this sphere is, in practical terms, whatever he says it is. Nobody, not liberals or conservatives, not hawks or doves, should be happy with that state of affairs.



The Rise of the Tharks

"But I was to learn that the Martian smile is merely perfunctory, and that the Martian laugh is a thing to cause strong men to blanch in horror."

"The ideas of humor among the green men of Mars are widely at variance with our conceptions of incitants to merriment.

The death agonies of a fellow being are, to these strange creatures provocative of the wildest hilarity, while their chief form of commonest amusement is to inflict death on their prisoners of war in various ingenious and horrible ways."

-- "A Princess of Mars"

The Mouse Circus was appalling today.
In all the usual ways.

An excellent beginning by David Atkins

An excellent beginning
by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

The official list of grievances of the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

There are those who will argue that this list is far too broad and inclusive for a specifically anti-Wall Street protest. While those critiques are understandable from a certain point of view, they miss the point of airing a set of grievances. Goals, which should be specific to dealing with the financial sector if they are to have a chance of fulfillment, are not the same as grievances. This list is powerful, not least because it addresses the myriad ways in which big business and the financial sector are destroying society, piece by piece. In terms of raising consciousness, it is important for the average person to realize that anger with Wall Street is about much more than bailouts, income inequality and massive bonuses. It's about the way the relentless pursuit of the next quarter's profits at the expense of all else warps the social fabric of a democracy.

The General Assembly in this well-considered document has hearkened back to a much older and more florid declaration that similarly began with a statement of principles and a list of grievances.

It is an important beginning. The General Assembly has lit the match. Now it's up to America at large to understand what is at stake, and turn a protest into a revolution.

If the needless arrest of 700 protesters yesterday, including small children doesn't inflame passion to help take our democracy back, it's hard to know what will.


40+ Amazing Free Brushes for GIMP

GIMP might be the little brother of Photoshop but it is a really powerful program and the truth is that many top web designers design solely with GIMP. There might be fewer resources for GIMP than there are for Photoshop but still there are enough resources you can find online. Almost all of these resources are free, which makes it even better. For instance, have a look at this list of more than 40 fantastic GIMP brushes:

Hearts and Flowers

1. Hearts GIMP Brushes by Hawksmont

A nice set of 9 brushes.

2. More Heart Brushes from Dreamy Graphics

Some more heart brushes in different shapes.

3. Hearts Brushes by Obsidian – Part 1

This first pack of heart brushes contains 24 brushes, like heart clusters, hearts with arrows, broken hearts, etc.

4. Hearts Brushes by Obsidian – Part 2

The second part comes with 26 more brushes, as cool as the ones in the first pack.

5. Flower Brushes by Dreamy Graphics

A set of 12 flower brushes.

6. Flower Brushes by BlendFu

6 flower you can try on the canvas before you decide whether to download them or not.

7. Floral Brushes from Hawksmont

9 big brushes each of which is at lest 1300 px.

8. More Floral Brushes from Hawksmont

This second pack contains 6 more flower brushes.

9. A Pine Megapack from Hawksmont

A pack with 16 full pine branches and 33 separate parts you can combine to make a branch of your own.

Earth, Sky, and Stars

1. Clouds and Mist Brushes by Project-GimpBC

A Photoshop set of 22 brushes converted for GIMP.

2. High Resolution Clouds Brushes by Obsidian

A set of 22 high-resolution brushes, mainly plump cumulus clouds.

3. Star Brushes by Dreamy Graphics

A set of stars in various shapes.

4. Night Brushes by MyLastBlkRose

Great brushes but some restrictive terms of use, so check these first and then get the brushes.

5. Lightning Brushes by Project-GimpBC

Another Photoshop convert with 22 brushes in it.

6. Snowflakes Brushes by Hawksmont

There are 20 snowflakes in this pack.

7. Bubble Brushes by Hawksmont

This brush pack contains 9 cute bubbles.

8. Light Beam Brushes by Booklover323

26 beams of light for your designs.

9. Tree Brushes by GetFirefox

A pack you might know from Photoshop, now converted for use with GIMP.

Shapes, Curves, and Swirls

1. Glow Brushes by Hawksmont

A pack of 11 big brushes.

2. Geometric Brushes by Pgd Design

Some basic shapes like squares, circles, and images that consist of them – 11 brushes altogether.

3. Curves Brushes by Dusk Blue

A pack of curves, curls, and loops.

4. Line Brushes by Dreamy Graphics

Some very basic line brushes.

5. Glitter and Smoke Brushes by Obsidian

A pack of 27 extremely high resolution (2200 px on average) smoke and glitter brushes.

6. Swirl Parts by Kowaresou

26 swirls and separate parts to combine into a swirl of your own.

7. Swirls by IntergalacticHussy

Another pack with 25 more swirls.

8. Swirl Effect Brushes by Insanity-Prevails

This pack includes 2 animated brushes in different sizes.

Grunge, Crack, and Splatter

1. Grunge Brushes by Dreamy Graphics

A pack of grunge brushes with various effects.

2. Grunge and Dirty Brushes by Project GimpBC

27 brushes, originally for Photoshop with different grunge/dirt effects.

3. Grunge Brushes by Hawksmont

A pack with some more grunge brushes.

4. Scratchies by lifebtb

A pack of 6 brushes 500-700 px each.

5. Cracks Brushes by Miamoto

12 brushes of cracks and walls.

6. Cracks Brushes by Project GimpBC

A pack of 23 more cracks, the majority of which are 1100+ px.

7. Splatter Brushes by Insanity Prevails

A pack of 2 animates and 10 standard size brushes.

8. Blood Brushes by Danieeel31

A pack of 10 blood brushes, 1000 x 1000 px each.

Other Brushes

1. A Pack of 1100 Various GIMP Brushes

This is a really huge pack, probably one of the largest out there. Kind of old, but still very useful.

2. Butterflies Brushes by Hawksmont

A pack of 9 cute butterflies.

3. Eyelashes Brushes by Project GimpBC

A set of 34 brushes – there are pairs, but also there are left/right ones, too.

4. Doodles Brushes by Hawksmont

A whopping 41 brush-set of cheerful doodles.

5. Dice Brushes by GetFirefox

Some cute dice to use in your designs.

6. Fingerprints Brushes by Hawksmont

A pack of fingerprints you can use for dirty marks, too.

7. Micro Patterns Brushes by redheadstock

31 micro patterns, mainly lines and derivatives, that have been converted to brushes.

8. Handwriting Brushes by Project GimpBC

47 handwriting brushes with different handwriting styles.

If you know some of the brushes on this list, this is hardly an accident because the latest versions of GIMP allows the use of Photoshop brushes and if you have seen the same pack for Photoshop, chances are you can use it with GIMP, too (though sometimes not everything will work the same way it does in Photoshop and this is why it is better to get a brush somebody has already made for GIMP). Some of the brushes here have been originally created for GIMP (and later exported to Photoshop), while others were first created for Photoshop and then exported for GIMP. In any case, these brushes are a valuable addition to your arsenal, so just install them and start using them in your projects.



adj \ə-ˈbli-vē-əs\
1: lacking remembrance, memory, or mindful attention
2: lacking active conscious knowledge or awareness —usually used with of or to

Don't trouble yourself about the content of Tom Friedman's column today: basically, it's what owl pellets would look like an owl (who was also very, very bad writers) had gobbled up, say, this graphic found at Online Masters Degree, or this blog post from the Wall Street Journal, or this column in Slate while watching "Desk Set" (1957)

or just leafing through a copy of Kurt Vonnegut's very first novel, published in 1952.

Which is a very long time ago:

"Without regard for the wishes of men, any machines or techniques or forms of organization that can economically replace men do replace men. Replacement is not necessarily bad, but to do it without regard for the wishes of men is lawlessness.

"Without regard for the changes in human life patterns that may result, new machines, new forms of organization, new ways of increasing efficiency, are constantly being introduced. To do this without regard for the effects on life patterns is lawlessness."

Instead, the only thing of any value at all in Mr. Friedman's ramblings is the unintentional solid-gold hilarity of its last paragraph.

The infamously hacktacular Mustache of Understanding (#3 on Salon's "Hack 30")
(When [Tom Friedman is] not jetting around the world on the literally unlimited expense account his money-bleeding newspaper provides him, pondering KFC billboards he spots outside the windows of gleaming office towers in Delhi — or when he’s not lounging beside the pool at his absurd home — the second-most-influential business thinker in the country is worrying about carbon emissions. Which is, I freely admit, a nice change of pace from back when he was telling the world that the invasion and occupation of Iraq would lead to a glorious new dawn of freedom/democracy/whiskey/iPods/Old Navy in the Middle East as a whole.
actually concludes his latest weekly 800-word potty training exercise in the "New York Times" as follows:

Indeed, there is no “in” or “out” anymore. In the hyperconnected world, there is only “good” “better” and “best,”

And then, as if his pen were being personally guided by Bollyx, the obscure Roman god of Arrogant Cluelessness, he sums up as follows:
...even good might not cut it anymore and average is definitely over.
So "average" is over...but "cosmically craptacular" guarantees you a column for life in the "New York Times"?

You know, in spite of the immensely rich and well-connected Mr. Friedman's protestations to the contrary, it's almost as if there is some kind of Club...

Saturday Night At The Movies—“The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975”

Saturday Night At The Movies

Swede sweetback’s baadassss song

By Dennis Hartley

Diana: Hi, I’m Diana Christensen, a racist lackey of the imperialist ruling circles.

Laureen: I’m Laureen Hobbs, a badass commie nigger.

Diana: Sounds like the basis of a firm friendship.

-from Network, written by Paddy Chayefsky

The slyly subversive socio-political subtext of that memorable exchange between Faye Dunaway and Marlene Warfield in Sidney Lumet’s classic 1976 satire could be lost on anyone not old enough to recall the radical politics and revolutionary rhetoric of the era, but for those of us who are (and who do), the character of “Laureen Hobbs” was clearly inspired by Angela Davis, the UCLA professor-turned activist whose name became synonymous with the Black Power movement of the late 60s to mid 70s. Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky’s distillation of the two characters into winking cultural stereotypes, while wryly satirical, was actually not too far off the mark as to how the American MSM spun the image of Davis and other prominent figures like Stokely Carmichael, Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Seale. As I recall, the media tended to focus on the more extreme, sensationalistic facets. Police shootouts with Black Panthers, prison riots and U.S. athletes giving the Black Power salute at the Olympic Games made for good copy, but didn’t really paint the whole picture of the Black Experience in America up to that point.

With the alternative press (and most likely the FBI) excepted, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of investigative parsing going on at the time for the root cause and/or ideological thrust behind the images of violence and civil unrest that the MSM played on a continuous loop. After all, this was, at its core, a legitimate and historically significant American political movement (if not a revolution), and no one seemed to be taking the pains to document it. At least, no one in this country. Sweden, on the other hand? They had it covered. I know…Sweden. Go figure. At any rate, a veritable treasure trove of vintage 16mm footage, representing nearly a decade of candid interviews with movement leaders and meticulous documentation of Black Panther Party activities and African-American inner city life was recently discovered tucked away in the basement of Swedish Television. Director Goran Olsson has cherry-picked some fascinating clips from this embarrassment of riches and assembled them in a historically chronological timeline for his aptly entitled new documentary, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (it opens in Seattle October 14; if you live elsewhere, it is available now on PPV in some markets).

Olsson leaves the contextualization to present-day retrospection from several of the surviving interviewees (including Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, Kathleen Cleaver and Harry Belafonte), as well as reflections by contemporary African-American academics, writers, poets and musicians. The director makes a wise choice by restricting modern commentators to voice-over, thereby devoting maximum screen time to the amazingly pristine archive footage. And if you’re expecting bandolier-wearing, pistol-waving bad-ass commie, uh, interviewees spouting fiery Marxist-tinged rhetoric, just dispense with that hoary stereotype now. What you will see is a relaxed and soft-spoken Stokely Carmichael, surprising his interviewers by borrowing the mike to ask his own mother questions about her life experience as an African-American woman in America. You will see interviews with a jailed Angela Davis, an exiled Eldridge Cleaver (in Algiers), Bobby Seale, Huey P. Newton and others; and what really comes through is the humanity behind the rhetoric. Whether one agrees or disagrees with all the means and methods they utilized to get their views across to the powers-that-be, the underlying message is self-empowerment, and a forward-thinking commitment to changing the world for the better.

Speaking of the “powers-that-be”, there are interesting segments on the state response to the movement at the time (infiltration and entrapment, turning a blind eye to civil liberties, etc.) that beg inevitable comparisons to our post 9-11 environment (the more things change…). In fact, the subject of Olsson’s film feels trapped by its 100 minute time constraint; there’s more than enough angles to this largely neglected part of 20th-century American history to provide ample material for a Ken Burns-length miniseries (the questionable activities of COINTELPRO alone would be compelling enough to fill a whole episode). Olsson weaves social context into the mix by using clips from a 1973 Swedish TV cinema-verite documentary called Harlem: Voices, Faces, which plays like a bittersweet time capsule and lends some sense of poetry to an otherwise straightforward collage. Interestingly, we also learn that the producers of that program caught flak from President Nixon for its perceived anti-American slant (and earned an inflamed cover-story takedown from that respected bastion of erudite socio-political insight…TV Guide).

The film is not without flaws; some of the contemporary commentators don’t necessarily lend any new insight. Also, Olssons’s commitment to offering viewers a “mix, not a remix” feels unfocused at times (“objective” doesn’t have to mean “dry”). Still, I feel a film like this is important, because the time is ripe to re-examine the story of the Black Power movement, which despite its failures and flaws, still emerges as one of the last truly progressive grass roots political awakenings that we’ve had in this country (no, the Tea Party shares no parallels, by any stretch of the imagination). In fact, watching the film made me a little sad. Where is the real passion (and social compassion) in American politics anymore? It’s become all about petty partisanship and myopic self-interest and next to nothing about empowering citizens and maintaining a truly free and equal society. However (to end on an up note), I came across this rousing speech, delivered 3 weeks ago on the 40th anniversary of the Attica prison riot. It gave me hope that the legacy is alive:

Amen, brother.

Previous posts with related themes:

William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe

Chicago 10

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

The Baader-Meinhof Complex

Monkey Warfare



Protests 2.0

The New York Times did a halfway decent article today on Occupy Wall Street, refuting some of the images that seem to bother people so much:

For all the bedraggled look of the mattress-and-sleeping-bag-strewn camp, it has a structure and routine. A food station occupies the center of the park, where donated meals are disbursed, especially pizza and Popeyes chicken. Sympathizers from other states have been calling local shops and pizza parlors and, using their credit cards, ordering food to be delivered to the park.

There are information stations, a recycling center, a media center where a gasoline generator powers computers. At the east end sits the library, labeled cardboard boxes brimming with donated books: nonfiction, fiction, poetry, legal. There is a lost and found.

A medical station was outfitted with bins holding a broad array of remedies: cough drops, Maalox Maximum Strength, Clorox wipes, bee pollen granules. The main issues have been blisters, including some from handcuffs, and abrasions.

There are also a few therapists. Some out-of-work protesters are depressed. They need someone’s ear.

Elsewhere is a sanitation station, with designated sanitation workers who sweep the park. The park is without toilets, a problem that many of the protesters address by visiting a nearby McDonald’s.

The encampment even has a post-office box, established at a U.P.S. store, and has been receiving a steady flow of supportive letters and packages. Someone from Texas sent a bunch of red bandanas, now draped on the necks of demonstrators. Others have sent camera batteries, granola bars and toothbrushes.

They still exhibited an air of anthropologists observing some lost civilization, but it was at least less condescending than their last foray into the wilds of Zuccotti Park.

And fter tweeting a very provocative note last week about how much this reminded him of Tahrir Square, Nick Kristoff just wrote about it on the op-ed page:

“Occupy Wall Street” was initially treated as a joke, but after a couple of weeks it’s gaining traction. The crowds are still tiny by protest standards — mostly in the hundreds, swelling during periodic marches — but similar occupations are bubbling up in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington. David Paterson, the former New York governor, dropped by, and labor unions are lending increasing support.

I tweeted that the protest reminded me a bit of Tahrir Square in Cairo, and that raised eyebrows. True, no bullets are whizzing around, and the movement won’t unseat any dictators. But there is the same cohort of alienated young people, and the same savvy use of Twitter and other social media to recruit more participants. Most of all, there’s a similar tide of youthful frustration with a political and economic system that protesters regard as broken, corrupt, unresponsive and unaccountable.

“This was absolutely inspired by Tahrir Square, by the Arab Spring movement,” said Tyler Combelic, 27, a Web designer from Brooklyn who is a spokesman for the occupiers. “Enough is enough!”

The protesters are dazzling in their Internet skills, and impressive in their organization. The square is divided into a reception area, a media zone, a medical clinic, a library and a cafeteria. The protesters’ Web site includes links allowing supporters anywhere in the world to go online and order pizzas (vegan preferred) from a local pizzeria that delivers them to the square.

In a tribute to the ingenuity of capitalism, the pizzeria quickly added a new item to its menu: the “OccuPie special.”

He has a few recommendations for "demands" that sound useful, although I'm not sure this is really about specifics at this point so much as it is consciousness raising.

In any case, a ton of good stuff has been written about this in the past week. Matt Stoller had a fine article earlier at Naked Capitalism that rings true. And this new article by Micah Sifry seems completely on point to me:

[S]omething is happening here, Mr. Jones. The protest, or occupation, is now in its third week, and in addition to a steadily increasing level of media coverage, this coming Wednesday a range of local unions and progressive groups are planning to rally their members to join in. Stubborn resilience plus some outraged media attention to police brutality seems to have been enough to light the spark, but beneath that, credit must go to the horizontal adhocracy running the occupation downtown, which has developed its own infrastructure for internal and external communication and social support. And it's doing this without obvious leaders (who could be arrested and held to suppress the movement) or institutional backers (who could be pressured), and with a wide array of networked support that is being marshaled via Internet Relay Chat, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter, livestreaming, online video and street theatre. Some highlights:

The original call to action from Adbusters;

The "Global Revolution" Livestream feed, which has several thousand watching at any given time, even when it isn't bringing live video from downtown, showing short clips from Anonymous, George Carlin and other troublemakers (132,000 likes as of October 1);

The "We are the 99 Percent" Tumblr collection of autobiographical photos from people facing all kinds of economic hardship, which seems to have a lot of stories from the families of American war veterans...

The Occupy Together news hub, which is curating links to Occupy efforts in more than 100 cities across the US, plus two dozen overseas, as of this writing.

This movement is messy and its decision-making process is participatory in the extreme, which some people adore (because it makes room for all to have a say, compared to our elite- and money-driven political system) and others abhor (because ordinary working people typically can't devote the time to long meetings and "structure-less" decision-making usually empowers a few people in unaccountable ways). And while we know how to use networks to develop and support "stop" energy, it's much harder to develop and enact "do" energy around specific demands...

But I think it's time to recognize that we're no longer in a what veteran activist Myles Horton would have called an organizational phase of political activity, where meetings have walls around them, messages have managers, advocacy is centrally paid for and done by professional lobbyists, marches have beginnings and endings, and the story line goes neatly gives from petition to legislation to reform.

Instead, in America we're now entering into a third wave of movement politics (the first being the rise of the "netroots" within the Democratic party after its leadership collapse between 2000-2003; and the second being the rise of the Tea Party after the conservative losses of 2006 and 2008). I don't pretend to know where the "Occupy" movement is going to go, though its main purpose appears to be to show first of all that it is here to stay, and to force a different perspective into a national discourse that up until now has marginalized and ignored grassroots anti-corporate social justice advocacy.

Like Sifry, I don't know where this is going. But it's travelling at light speed --- I haven't seen anything like it online since I started blogging. (I'm fairly tuned in whether I like it or not, as you might imagine, and this is different.)

So, I'm inclined to give it some room to breathe, let go of my pre-conceived notions of "what has to happen" and see if the new media and communications take us in the direction we need to go. Regardless of the outcome, I think this shows that people are reaching a point where they have to do something. And that's healthy.

Howie sez:

There weren't many progressives who got dragged under in the Tea Party tsunami-- or more appropriately, in the stay-at-home malaise from the Democratic base that practically wiped the GOP-leaning Blue Dogs off the map. But several of Blue America's best old friends were among that tiny handful-- Alan Grayson, Russ Feingold, Carol Shea-Porter and Mary Jo Kilroy. This week Blue America is very happy to be endorsing Mary Jo once again. And the great news is that in their rush to lock in an unfair Republican electoral map, the state legislature has created one super-blue district based around Columbus... the heart of Mary Jo's old seat. She's off and running and Blue America wants to help her get back into Congress. So do Progressive Caucus co-chairs, Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison, who endorsed her on the same day she announced she would run. She'll be joining us for a live chat at Crooks and Liars today at 2pm (ET). You can contribute to her campaign here at the Blue America ActBlue page.

One of the things that first attracted us to Mary Jo is that she came roaring into Congress and immediately flew in the face of both party establishments by voting against the Bush TARP bailout, which she recognized as an unwarranted giveaway to the Wall Street banksters. Today she's still hammering home what she was saying then:

"We must focus on jobs and the economy. It is time we re-invest in America. Build roads, bridges and rail. Help our manufacturing sector revive. Provide strong job training programs. Expand VISTA and Americorps so young Americans can work to improve their neighborhoods, parks and coastal areas. We need to help those long term unemployed to get back in the workforce.

"It is time to stop giving tax breaks to the most privileged of our society and to end tax cuts for billionaires who pay a lower rate than their secretaries and end the tax loopholes that send our jobs overseas.

"It is time for the millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. They have benefited while working people have been hurt in the economy over the last decade. As Elizabeth Warren was so correct in pointing out, they benefited from the teachers who taught their workers, the police and fire fighters who protect their homes and businesses, the public roads they use to take their products to market. When I was in Congress I called for a vote-- before the 2010 election-- on ending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, and voted against extending that tax cut.

She went from championing working families inside Congress to working on a grassroots level in the campaign to defeat Kasich's anti-labor legislation. "Teachers, police and firefighters," she emphasizes, "did not cause the problems with Ohio's budget."

Please help Blue America return a fighting progressive and a strong voice for our values back to Congress.


Enthusiasm by David Atkins

by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

This from Gallup is a couple of days old by now, which makes it ancient in blogosphere time. But I would be remiss not to highlight it.

In thinking about the 2012 presidential election, 45% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic say they are more enthusiastic about voting than usual, while nearly as many, 44%, are less enthusiastic. This is in sharp contrast to 2008 and, to a lesser extent, 2004, when the great majority of Democrats expressed heightened enthusiasm about voting.

There's also a scary looking chart which documents that we now have the lowest Democratic voting enthusiasm in a decade:

Meanwhile, the Republicans are excited to get out and vote:

Democrats' muted response to voting in 2012 also contrasts with Republicans' eagerness. Nearly 6 in 10 Republicans, 58%, describe themselves as more enthusiastic about voting. That is nearly identical to Republicans' average level of enthusiasm in 2004 (59%) and higher than it was at most points in 2008.

It's possible that all those people answering Gallup's phone calls obsessively read liberal blogs and watch MSNBC, and that it's the fault of the "professional left" that Democrats are dispirited.

Or it could be that Democrats voted for change in 2008, and they haven't gotten what they voted for. An honest assessment of the situation would indicate the latter.

In all likelihood the President's advisers are seeing these numbers, which would account for the newly aggressive tone coming out of the White House. And in all likelihood, when the vast majority of Americans who don't really pay attention to politics until August 2012 get good hard look at the Republican nominee, Democratic enthusiasm will grow.

But one would hope that Democrats in leadership learn their lesson from the last four years:

1) playing nice with Republicans is a fool's errand. The modern Republican Party is more cult than political movement. It cannot be reasoned or legitimately compromised with.

2) Playing nice with Wall Street is pointless, unless one is willing to bend over and give them everything they want. Say a single bad word about these Masters of the Universe, and they turn against you in a heartbeat.

3) Abandoning the base is a very dangerous thing to do politically, no matter how many polls show that Democrats favor "compromise" over "standing one's ground." The reality when push comes to shove is that if the other side seems to be accomplishing its legislative agenda, even as one's own side is getting nowhere with the most emotionally motivating parts of one's agenda, then enthusiasm is going to decrease.

It's almost as if those dirty hippies on the "professional left" were right all along. Who knew?


Thanks for everything

Thanks for everything

by digby

Of course they did:
JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. The money will pay for 1,000 new patrol car laptops, as well as security monitoring software in the NYPD's main data center.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon a note expressing "profound gratitude" for the company's donation.

"These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe," Dimon said. "We're incredibly proud to help them build this program and let them know how much we value their hard work."

JP Morgan Chase apparently does a lot of philanthropic work. And that's nice. But considering what is going on right now, one can certainly see why properly funding our police with public money makes more sense than having them dependent on private donations from megabanks for things like laptops and software, can't we?

I'm not saying that Jamie Dimon doesn't deserve to be protected by the police just like everyone else, btw. But let's just say this doesn't look particularly good when high ranking officers are being filmed maliciously pepper spraying Wall Street protesters in the face for no reason.


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