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Happy Birthday OWS Bat Signal

Courtesy of Marsha.  This one is pretty good.  It shows the Bat Signal team from Occupy Wall Street setting up the equipment and the reaction from on the bridge.

Sooo, good morning to you and happy birthday to me!



Glenn Greenwald has a pretty good piece up about how the Democratic party and its retainers are going to try to co-opt Occupy Wall Street.  And I know some Conflucians have expressed similar concerns.  I’ll get to those in a minute.  But I encourage you to go read Greenwald because I think he gets this movement in the same way that I do.  In particular, Greenwald is disturbed by the SEIU’s endorsement of Obama’s re-election the day before Occupy’s N17 Day of Action and explains why he thinks the SEIU will fail:

Having SEIU officials — fresh off endorsing the Obama re-election campaign — shape, fund, dictate and decree an anti-GOP, pro-Obama march is about as antithetical as one can imagine to what the Occupy movement has been. And pretending that the ongoing protests are grounded in the belief that the GOP is the party of the rich while the Democrats are the party of the working class is likely to fool just about nobody other than those fooled by that already. The strength and genius of OWS has been its steadfast refusal to (a) fall into the trap that ensnared the Tea Party of being exploited as a partisan tool and (b) integrate itself into the very political institutions which it’s scorning and protesting.

As I noted several weeks ago, WH-aligned groups such as the Center for American Progress have made explicitly clear that they are going to try to convert OWS into a vote-producing arm for the Obama 2012 campaign, and that’s what “Occupy Congress” is designed to achieve. I believed then and — having spent the last few weeks talking with many OWS protesters around the country — believe even more so now that these efforts will inevitably fail: those who have animated the Occupy movement are not motivated by partisan allegiance or an overarching desire to devote themselves to one of the two parties. In fact, one of the original Occupy groups — as opposed to partisan organizations swooping in to exploit it — has announced its own D.C. occupation to, in part, “demonstrate the failure of the Democrats and Republicans in Congress to represent the views of the majority of people.”

For a long time, I have believed, and still do believe, that the way to get the financiers to behave and for the corporations to begin treating their employees as humans and not resources, is to change the rulemakers in Washington.  But I also realize that you can’t sweep politicians out of office unless the electorate wants that to happen.  And at this point in time, there is still a significant portion of the electorate that has lost its way.  It is confused by ubiquitous messaging from their elected officials and those officials’ mouthpieces.  And the Democrats failed to interrupt this messaging when it had a chance.  When it had a filibuster proof majority in the senate and majorities in the House and a president of its own party, it should have moved immediately to reinstating the “fairness doctrine” and cementing net neutrality into law and doing a myriad other things that would ensure that a different message from the harsh, mean-spirited, “money is everything” one we get non-stop message we get all day long would be heard.  But the Democrats didn’t do this.  Whether it was through malice or stupidity, it managed to turn down its own volume in the public sphere.

We should have known when it did nothing to curtail the right wing messaging that we were on our own.  Without a voice, we have no way to move each other or politicians to do what we want.  We are easily dismissed as dirty fucking hippies and liberals and no one wants to hear from us.

Before we can change our political system, we have to change hearts to make sure that we don’t keep beating up on each other.  We have to expose the way the socio-economic system is set up right now.  And we have to have a movement of people who are willing to walk away from the current setup that isn’t working for them and set up something new that does.  It’s only by turning our backs on the current political climate and working hard to have our own social safety net and economic system that works for us in the long term that we will be free and it won’t matter who is in power in Washington.

Why should we care who is in power in Washington?  Neither party seems to care to exercise its power for our benefit.  I’m not terribly concerned anymore whether Democrats hold the White House or Republicans hold the House.  They’ve made it clear that no matter who we vote for, the result will be pretty much the same. The same people will be entrenched in power and the rest of us will watch them slowly erode away our standard of living and use excuses to steal the money we put away for our own retirements.  I’m not apathetic.  I’m incensed by that.  Everyday, I wonder how it is they have the unmitigated gall to ignore us.  But that’s the way it is right now and I’m no longer going to tilt at electoral windmills.  I made my mind up in 2008 to only vote for politicians who share my values and aren’t afraid to say it.  It looks like I’m not the only one because loudmouth Elizabeth Warren seems to be doing extraordinarily well these days.

Occupy Wall Street was started by people who didn’t like the way things are going.  Those of us who weren’t in the planning stages but don’t like the way things are going either don’t necessarily have to share the same socio political philosophy.  When movements catch on, maybe it doesn’t matter how each unit of that movement does its business as long as they share a common morality.  And that is Occupy Wall Street’s strength.  It is at its core a moral movement.  It is not a political one.  That moral movement is about the vast majority wanting to correct the vast disperity of wealth that has developed in this country, to correct economic and social injustice,to uphold the dignity of working people, to re-establish a social safety net and economic system that works for everyone and to redefine the meaning of success.  That last one is very important.  The morality of success matters.  Does success mean making money at all costs or does it mean achieving goals of a more personal nature?  Right now, our morality is dictated by the marketplace and the people who run it.  And this movement is about changing that morality.  The way we go about changing that morality and withdrawing our support from a system that fails us is what Occupy Wall Street has yet to decide.  So, calls for it to make demands are premature.

The 1% is going to try hard to disrupt that decision making process.  It is going to try hard to prevent the critical mass from forming (although I think they may be losing that battle).  And it is going to try hard to co-opt.  But as long as the movement focuses on determining how to translate its morality into creating a new economy that works for everyone, the political class can wait.  It is not our job to serve the politicians.  It is their job to serve us.

On the Ground in PA- chapter 2

My plans for volunteering got a bit sidetracked by a doctor’s appointment for Brook last evening.  It was afternoon before we got to H-burg.  But the office was buzzing.  Everyone is hard at work canvassing or following up with phone calls.  Ok, people are getting sick of the phone calls.  My mom had 4 calls today: 3 from Obama, 1 from Clinton.  There are a lot more hangups this week but so far, Hillary is holding strong.  I was actually a little surprised by the canvassing sheets I read from Harrisburg.  Of course, it was only a small sample but it was encouraging for Harrisburg, which is Obama territory.

H-burg itself is in campaign mode.  There was an Obama rally, featuring the man himself,  on the Capitol steps a few blocks away.  In fact, Obama’s HQ is right across the street from Clinton’s.  I was tempted to go scope the rally but wasn’t sure if I needed an invitation and besides, there were phone calls to make.   Rob Reiner stopped in last night for another pep talk.  The evidence of something going on is everywhere.  It’s getting to be a bit festive.  There are button vendors on the street corners (I’ll see if I can get a pic tomorrow) and people standing at intersections holding signs.

I did phone banking tonight.  Maya and the crew were hard at work.  There are several events tonight and around the state.  My aunt is attending a rally at Renzi Park in McKeesport, there are two rallies for Hillary tomorrow, one at Penn State in State College and one in Bethlehem.  Monday she will be in Harrisburg.  So, our task was to get the word out and let everyone know the details.

I met Peggy and Jeff from Toledo.  She’s in healthcare and that is the prmary reason she’s a Hillary supporter.  She says that in her line of work, she sees young men coming home from Iraq with traumatic brain injury.  There are thousands and thousands of them.  There doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with them but some can’t walk or talk.  She says it’s heartbreaking because what might have killed soldiers in past wars is now treatable to the point of saving their lives, but what lives are they left with? They are going to need a lot of care in the years to come.

Peggy and Jeff from Toledo

Anyway, she and Jeff have been working their butts off for Hillary, registering voters and canvassing and phone banking.  They just see the campaign as a historic event and they wanted to be part of it.  They report that they’ve seen a LOT of Republican women re-register as Democrat to vote for Hillary.  That kind of jives with my experience last week with split households: Republican husband, Democrat wife. After PA, Peggy and Jeff will be headed west from Toledo to Indiana.  Gotta love’em.

Happy Birthday, Brian!!!

Today was Brian’s birthday.  He’s the paper pusher.  He’s also from Michigan so he’s motivated.  We finish a list, Brian brings new ones.  I hope he took time to celebrate.  Or at least take a short, well-earned, nap.

Sleeping Beauty

I’ll be back in the office tomorrow at 10am.  It’s going to be a busy day.

Paper towels, they could really use paper towels.  And toilet paper.

Happy Birthday, Devon!

Paint your chestBetcha you never thought you’d get an internet birthday card, didja?

Happy Birthday to the most creative, energetic kid I know with the most twisted sense of humor.   Go paint your chest!

Love, M

PS.  I’m going to visit Hillary’s campaign HQ in Trenton today.  Have fun in the City at the play.