New Confederacy Rising

From In These Times:

Testing, once again, whether this nation can long endure.

BY Theo Anderson
October 5, 2011

What is America, and what is an American? If anything binds us together across space and time, it is our ideals and the stories we tell about our pursuit of them. From the beginning, we set ourselves against Europe’s hierarchies. We exalted democratic government, equality of opportunity and individual freedom. We conceived of our experiment as “the last best hope of earth,” in Lincoln’s words.

But ideals don’t live in a vacuum; they take root in the soil of institutions. Beginning with our first experiments in self-government, the dissonance between our ideals and our institutional practices—especially the tolerance and extension of slavery—created tensions that finally tore us apart.

The South’s alternative vision of the good society was defeated in the Civil War, and our 20th-century history can be told as a narrative of halting progress toward greater tolerance and equality. The major plot points include regulations on corporations in the early 1900s; women’s suffrage in 1920; a social safety net in the New Deal; the Supreme Court’s rejection of Jim Crow laws in 1954; the civil rights and feminist movements of the 1960s; the gay rights victories since the 1970s.

This narrative suggests that our democratic experiment is working, albeit slowly. If we have never been entirely unified in our ideals, the Civil War at least re-unified our institutions. A century and a half later, we rally around the same flag. Or so we think.

The deeper truth is disquieting. The rhetoric of Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Rick Perry about the “real America” is not imagined: They and those who oppose them live in different Americas, embodying different ideals and meaning different things to their loyalists.

How we reached this impasse is a fascinating question. The answer to it raises profound doubts and questions about how—and whether—we can move forward as “one nation, indivisible.”

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Punching a Hole in Bubbles of Denial and Addiction: Late Capitalism and Its Discontents of the American Autumn

From Common Dreams:

by Phil Rockstroh
Published on Thursday, October 13, 2011 by

The global designs of the neo-liberal agenda have met the living architecture of a larger order — a portion of which has taken the form of a still coalescing, yet potent, countervailing consciousness, a global-wide Liberty Plaza of the mind — an order that is not informed by corporate era public relations legerdemain, hyper-adrenaline media sound bites, rightwing emotional displacements, or “sensible” centrist platitudes — but the type of order that begins to jell when the structures of an existing system lose touch with the realities of daily life.

A ground-level, global-wide movement is afoot and has announced to the economic, media and political elite that they are on to their schemes. Accordingly, the plundering class and their protectors will no longer be afforded the luxury of insulating themselves (almost absent confrontation) within bubbles of privilege, bubbles of denial, bubbles of insularity.

Late capitalism has proven to be wholly reliant upon, in fact, addicted to, the creation of bubbles: market and media bubbles, respectively, serving to create inflated wealth and the manufacturing of closed narratives that shield the privileged players within from being held accountable for the consequences of their schemes.

The system is analogous to a rigged game in a tawdry, traveling carnival. The carnival barker’s success hinges on whether or not his audience is seduced by his unctuous pitch, in this case being the dubious claim that, under late capitalism, illusionary economic success is attainable by pluck and perseverance. (“Step right up, folks, all can play”– but the house will win.) Of course, the game has been rigged from the get-go, has been designed to fleece credulous rubes who have never glimpsed the larger world, and, when any prize at all is won, it is a piece of cheap, disposable consumer junk.

As Autumn stands before us, it will be helpful to allow illusions to fall away like dying leaves. Summer is kind to fools, but winter insists on clarity. Let the old delusions blaze out in Autumnal splendor, and then be mindful of winter’s stark perfection…its demarcations…rendering bare branches against a bleak sky.

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Thom Hartmann: Did Republicans just prove they only care about the top 1%?

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Mortgage Bankers Association Receives Furious Welcome in Chicago

From Truth Out:

by: Yana Kunichoff, Truthout
October 12, 2011

When the Mortgage Bankers Association decided to hold their annual conference in Chicago, they weren’t counting on a welcome committee. What they got was more than 7,000 protesters taking over the road underneath their downtown rooftop reception at the city’s Art Institute, chanting, “We are the 99 percent” and “How to fix the deficit? Tax, tax, tax the rich.”

Take Back Chicago, a coalition of labor unions and community groups, were joined by Occupy Chicago in the first of a three-day series of demonstrations around the Mortgage Bankers Association meeting.

The protests aims to highlight the three main pillars of the city’s hurting communities – jobs, housing and education – and change policies in these areas that favor corporate giveaways.

“What we’re seeing here is another sign that average working Americans have joined forces to regain the economic opportunities that were stripped from them when big banks and corporate Americans ran the economy into the ground,” said Elizabeth Parisian, spokesperson for Stand Up! Chicago, the organizing coalition.

Illinois’ unemployment rate in August 2011 was 9.9 percent, compared to a 9.1 percent national rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Chicago, 10.5 percent are jobless, and this rate jumps to 27 percent for youth, according to Stand Up! Chicago.

Ramiro Lopez, 21, is one of the employed youth, but says that his job brings him into daily contact with the issues faced by those lucky enough to have a job.

Lopez, carrying a sign at the march saying: “Capitalism sucks,” works for the environmental justice group Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and said that what he sees is “the bosses want way more money for themselves, and to let the workers keep on working for the lowest wage they can.”

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Occupy Wall St. Prepares for Crackdown — Will Bloomberg Try to Tear It All Down?

From Alternet:–_will_bloomberg_try_to_tear_it_all_down/

Free health care, a sanitation team, a public library, solar power, and free childcare are just a few of the services the Occupy Wall Street protesters are providing.

By Sarah Jaffe
October 13, 2011

“If Bloomberg really cared about sanitation here he wouldn’t have blocked portapotties and dumpsters.”

On Thursday afternoon Occupy Wall Street called an emergency General Assembly down at Liberty Plaza to deal with the announcement that Friday will see a cleanup of the park by the City, starting at 7 am. Representatives of Brookfield, the company that owns the park, said in the clean-up notice that everything left behind will be thrown away. On Thursday it was also revealed that Brookfield had sent a letter to police commissioner Ray Kelly asking the NYPD help clear out the protestors. A group of New York civil liberties lawyers warned the CEO of Brookfield that forcing protestors from the park violates their first amendment rights, stating, “Under the guise of cleaning the Park you are threatening fundamental constitutional rights. There is no basis in the law for your request for police intervention, nor have you cited any. Such police action without a prior court order would be unconstitutional.”

The densely packed crowd is aware that reports are circulating that they will not be allowed to bring any gear back into the park after it’s been cleaned, and they are discussing next steps.

“We have been self-governing and self-organized and taking care of our space,” the woman facilitating the GA calls through the people’s microphone earlier today. “Today we clean to call their bluff.” The sanitation team is calling for all hands to clean the park, and indeed all morning volunteers have been picking up trash with gloved hands. The willingness of the protesters to embrace such tasks is part of the reason they’ve been successful in camping out for nearly a month.

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Mainstream media vs. ‘Occupy Wall Street’ ………….

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The Guys in the 1% Brought This On

From The Progressive:

By Barbara Ehrenreich
October 12, 2011

At the risk of being pedantic, let me point out that “99% versus 1%” is not a class analysis, not in any respectable sociological sense. Shave off the top 1% and you’re still left with some awfully steep divides of wealth, income and opportunity. The 99% includes the ordinary rich, for example, who may lack private jets but do have swimming pools and second homes. It also includes the immigrant workers who mow their lawns and clean their houses for them. This is not a class. It’s just the default category left after you subtract the billionaires.

Some of the diversity of the 99% is clearly on display at the variations occupations around the country. I’ve seen occupiers who look like they picked up their camping skills on vacations in the national parks, as well as those who normally make their homes on the streets, even when they’re not protesting. Occupy Wall Street has attracted contingents of airplane pilots, electricians and construction workers -– the latter often from the new World Trade Center being built a block away. You’ll also find schoolteachers, professors, therapists, office workers and, of course, the usual crusty punks of indistinct provenance and profession. In Washington, I met one occupier wearing a crisp blue dress shirt and a tie emblazoned with tiny elephants. He said he was a Republican, a lawyer, and he’d had enough.

Then there are the poorest of the poor – the unemployed, the foreclosed upon, the chronically homeless. In Los Angeles, traditional residents of Skid Row have begun to join the occupation encampment. When about 150 people met to plan their local occupation in a union hall in Fort Wayne earlier this week, they solicited advice from already-homeless people in the crowd, who had first-hand experience of where the police are most heavy-handed and where you’re most likely to find a nutritious dumpster or a public toilet. For the homeless, joining an occupation brings instant upward mobility: free food — not entirely vegan, I have been relieved to discover — and, in some cases, Port-a-potties and the rudiments of medical care.

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