Saturday, December 19, 2009

well put 

via Trollblog:

Our friends have been explaining things to us ever so kindly during the last few days: “Don’t let the best be the enemy of the good”, “politics is the art of the possible”, “politics is the art of compromise”, and just recently “We must obey he ethic of responsibility”.


This isn’t about purism vs. compromise, as many on both sides seem to think. In the end you’re going to get a compromise. This is about fighting for the best compromise.

But playing the game involves risk. In the example I just gave, over a run of auctions you’re going to come out ahead, but now and then it will happen that you would have been better off with the easy deal. If you play, sometimes you lose, but if you don’t play, in the end you lose more. For at least the last twenty years, Democratic negotiations have been defined from the start as finding the middle, with the progressive positions surrendered even before bargaining begins.

This leads to a second question: who are we bargaining with? Well, we’re not bargaining with the Republicans or the conservative Democrats — our representatives are in Congress to do that. We don’t have to figure out how to handle Joe Lieberman or Olympia Snowe or Ben Nelson or any of the other boodlers and rightwingers stinking up Congress. We’re bargaining with our own representatives in Congress, not the other side’s representatives. And in practice this means that we’re bargaining with the progressives in Congress, the Democratic leadership, and Barack Obama (as represented by Rahm Emmanuel).

We obviously shouldn’t take bargaining tips from the people we’re bargaining with. Progressive bargaining with the Democratic Party has been stuck at the “Shut up!” level for a good long time, and Obama (in the person of Rahm Emmanuel) has not changed that.

Centrists are always assuring us that they’re really on our side but are continually forced to compromise by the political realities. This is not true, however. Centrists are committed to centrism — some for ideological reasons, some for corrupt reasons, and most for both reasons. Along with the Republicans we are one of their two main adversaries, and we shouldn’t be too sure that they’ll side with us at crunch time. Beating us is one of their primary goals.

Democratic pros and Republican demagogues tend to speak of progressives and intellectuals as tiny, effete, inconsequential minorities, but that’s just bullying...The Democrats can’t win without intellectuals and progressives, but they don’t want to give us much, and that’s why we are continually having these dog-and-pony-show debates about purism and realism and moral seriousness and the ethic of responsibility and so on.


We should play the game to the end, and make our choices piecemeal as we go along. And remember — anything less than Medicare for all counts as a compromise.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Regarding the post below, Tankerbell writes:

It's pretty easy to use someone like Lanny Davis as a strawman, but the fact is there are also some prominent liberals... who are arguing that for all its flaws and shortcomings, the legislation still does important things and is worth passing.

... I think it's at least worth entertaining an alternative perspective...which is at least AS plausible as the notion that Obama is just shelling for the insurance industry and essentially in cahoots with that unnamable thing from the state of CT.

Yes. Obviously Lanny Davis is an easy target. Just as obviously there are intelligent sophisticated conflict-of-interest-free persons arguing in good faith for passage of this bill. Also just as obviously there are gradations of sophistication in argument on either side of the debate, as there are in any debate, from principled, tightly argued theoretically coherent data-heavy position papers to logical-fallacy lobbing flatulators like myself. I’m a dipshit who doesn’t get paid to read and think, with posting privileges on a blawg. If I had NYT real estate I’d say different things.

Logically Lanny Davis’ whorishness does not discredit his argument and neither should the good-faith attempts by people on his “side” be dragged down by guilt-by-association tactics. However, outside the realm of pure logic and into the realm of the “real” world, I do honestly believe and will stand by the notion that when whores like Davis start arguing for an outcome, a huge red flag should go up. Davis’ allegiance creates for me an even higher burden of proof for those on his side. When CEO’s, establishment journos and think-tanks that take corporate money, state officials and generally people with power and their minions start talking, I think heavy skepticism is warranted. Not only is it warranted, but it’s the most sane orientation to take. They may indeed occasionally be saying something true or worthwhile, but that’s not the way to bet. When it comes to the discussion of the welfare of powerless people, people with power are simply not to be given the benefit of the doubt.

Now Krugman:

And maybe I’m being unfair, but I don’t seem to see the same degree of soul-searching on the other side. Too much of what I read seems to come from people who haven’t really faced up to what it will mean for progressive hopes — not to mention America’s uninsured — if health care reform crashes and burns, yet again.

Honestly, Paul: Fuck you, you supercilious fuck. Yes you are being unfair, to put it mildly. People who think this bill is shit haven’t done the requisite soul-searching and are heedless of the consequences? Why? Because you "don't seem to see" it? That’s some ad-hominem bullshit if there ever was such. Only he’s writing for NYT, not AmCop. Anyone who knows how to search the internet can find plenty of thoughtful sophisticated good-faith criticism of this bill from people who care just as much about “progressive hopes” and America’s uninsured as Paul Krugman. Singling out some people who made a guilt-by-association argument to attack your position and then knocking them down is just another victory in the war on straw. If that’s the best critique you’ve got of your opponents, your shit is weak. Apparently it’s “not a time for cheap shots” unless you’re Paul Krugman. In which case, fire away.

Dionne’s argument appears to be fourfold. First, that the 60 vote supermajority is required and empowers obstructionists. Second that Rockefeller and Brown say it’s a bad idea to kill the bill. Third, killing the bill aids your enemies. Fourth, that the bad bill can and likely will be expanded upon in the future.

The first is pure mythology that has been well-debunked by the articles and links that Speakingcorpse has provided in previous posts and comments.

The second is merely an appeal to authority and therefore fallacious and worthless.

The third requires belief in a false dichotomy: that a loss for Dems is a win for Republicans, but even in politics the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend.

The fourth is highly debatable and I think we’ve already done a respectable job here arguing the other side, although you can find more disciplined stuff elsewhere on the interwebs.

Now regarding this split among progressives, I’ve read two posts today that I think sum it up nicely. One by IOZ and one by La Greenwald. I like IOZ and find his polemics highly entertaining and basically spot-on. Since he doesn’t adhere to standards of civil discourse and rational argument, and people in these parts seem not to like him, I’ll just provide the link. Greenwald is more measured and judicious. Quoth Glenn:

(Jake McIntyre) explicitly said, his intent wasn't to suggest that those individuals shouldn't be listened to because of their Iraq position six years ago (that would be an invalid and unfair claim), but simply that -- as Kilgore says -- there are underlying and significant differences in strategic and ideological outlook driving the health care debate that have been present for some time but are typically ignored.


There are many reasons for the progressive division on the health care bill.  There are differences over the narrow question of health care policy, with some believing the bill does more harm than good just on that ground alone.  Some of it has to do with broader questions of political power:  if progressives always announce that they are willing to accept whatever miniscule benefits are tossed at them (on the ground that it's better than nothing) and unfailingly support Democratic initiatives (on the ground that the GOP is worse), then they will (and should) always be ignored when it comes time to negotiate; nobody takes seriously the demands of those who announce they'll go along with whatever the final outcome is.  But the most significant underlying division identified by Kilgore is the divergent views over the rapidly growing corporatism that defines our political system.


The health care bill is one of the most flagrant advancements of this corporatism yet, as it bizarrely forces millions of people to buy extremely inadequate products from the private health insurance industry -- regardless of whether they want it or, worse, whether they can afford it (even with some subsidies).   In other words, it uses the power of government, the force of law, to give the greatest gift imaginable to this industry -- tens of millions of coerced customers, many of whom will be truly burdened by having to turn their money over to these corporations -- and is thus a truly extreme advancement of this corporatist model.  It's undeniably true that the bill will also do some genuine good, as it will help many people who can't get coverage now to get it (though it will also severely burden many people with compelled, uncontrolled premiums and will potentially weaken coverage for millions as well).  If one judges the bill purely from the narrow perspective of coverage, a rational and reasonable (though by no means conclusive) case can be made in its favor.  But if one finds this creeping corporatism to be a truly disturbing and nefarious trend, then the bill will seem far less benign.


Even if one grants the arguments made by proponents of the health care bill about increased coverage, what the bill does is reinforces and bolsters a radically corrupt and flawed insurance model and an even more corrupt and destructive model of "governing."  It is a major step forward for the corporatist model, even a new innovation in propping it up.  How one weighs those benefits and costs -- both in the health care debate and with regard to many of Obama's other policies -- depends largely upon how devoted one is to undermining and weakening this corporatist framework.

Etc. Etc. The whole thing is worth reading.

I have, as you’ve asked, “entertain[ed] an alternative perspective...” As someone who did his fair share of “agonizing soul-searching” years ago and came out firmly on the side of devotion to undermining and weakening the corporatist framework (to put it extremely mildly), my default stance is this: any bill Democrats are pushing is intended to strengthen this framework. Any claim by Democrats that this is not what they are doing is a lie. Most of the jockeying and jostling in Washington is undertaken for two purposes: to create the appearance that strengthening the framework is not what they are doing, and to settle intra-elite disputes among rival factions of the powerful. Their goal is to enact unpopular policies that benefit them and yet retain popularity. Thus they have to engage in prolonged and complex deception. So far, I haven’t seen enough evidence to convince me that this is not what is in fact happening.

So no, the “alternative perspective” is not “at least as plausible” as the notion that Obama is shilling for corporate America. The “alternative perspective” is highly implausible. I assume that Obama is shilling for corporate America until proven otherwise. I assume that fundamentally the State exists to serve the interests of the privileged and powerful, and its officials will so act until proven otherwise. I don't assume these things willy nilly, but based on my examination of history, theory, economics and the like I’ve concluded that such assumptions are warranted and quite useful tools of analysis. Your mileage may vary depending on your reading list and life experiences. It’s an ideological position to be sure, but there is no escape from ideology so understood. The idea that everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt regardless of their position in the power structure is equally ideological. It is certainly possible that other things being equal Obama is not going to serve corporate interests, no ideology or political theory is determinative, but I consider it highly unlikely that he will do so.

(I should also say that most of this “deception” is mostly unconscious. The various mechanisms, techniques and processes by which this takes place are perfectly mundane and generally understood and do not amount to “conspiracy theories” or paranoia. But that’s an argument for another time.)

At any rate, I’ve yet to see much evidence that those who hold the “alternative perspective” you mention, i.e. the mainstream perspective on the what and how of American political economy, have ever seriously entertained the notions held by those of us "devoted to undermining the framework” as Glenn puts it.

I see a lot of dismissiveness: charges of paranoia or conspiricism. I see a lot of goal post moving: when you polemicize you’re accused of lack of sophistication and rigor, when you adhere to scholastic discipline you’re accused of pedantry; when you discuss a point-of-view not widely seen and don’t give equal time to the opposition, you’re accused of lacking balance. I see a lot of downright ignorance among presumably educated people: lack of familiarity with the concepts and language of theoretical and political traditions outside of their own. Lack of willingness to “consider an alternative point of view” to their left, or even their right for that matter. I also see among mainstream progressives just as much if not more anger directed at the far left as at the far right.

I’m not questioning your good faith here, but frankly I’m really tired of being asked to “consider the alternative”. We live in the “alternative”. The “alternative” is the air we breathe. We never for a moment have any option but to consider it. We are schooled in it since birth and have it repeated to us incessantly through every symbolic medium possible. Every institution we participate in is built around “the alternative” and therefore every action we take forces us to confront or conform to “the alternative”. We are constantly in the position of reconciling ourselves with it even when we’ve stopped believing in it. You might as well ask the poor to consider the travails of the rich, or women to ponder the dilemmas of patriarchs, or blacks to see it whitey’s way for once. I say this not to appropriate the moral status of oppressed groups, I’m personally quite privileged and have no claim there, but to point out the relationship of dominant to marginal perspectives. You can’t ask me to do something I’m continually being forced to do.

jane takes it to the rim 


Primarily posted for the takedown of Lanny Davis, but it should also be noted that when slime like Lanny Davis are braying about "caring about the 30 million uninsured" it's a dead giveaway that the argument is total bullshit.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

if only 

“First they came for the rich. And I did not speak out because I was not rich. Then they came for the property owners, and I did not speak out because I did not own property. Then they came for the right to bear arms, and I did not speak out because I was not armed. Then they came for me and denied me my medical care, and there was no one left to speak for me,”

– Laura Ingraham, protesting the Senate healthcare bill at a rally in DC.


Driftglass has his version:

First they came for the bigots, and I did not speak out because my cousin had a gay friend, and there's a black guy in my office;

Then they came for the oligarchs and fascists, and I did not speak out because I'm broke and brown makes my ass look fat;

Then they came for the theocrats, and I did not speak out because, Jeez, those people are just friggin scary;

Finally they came for me and the other eleven people left in the Conservative Movement — and there was no one left to speak out for us.

And America lived happily ever after.

prisencolinen sinaincusol. oll raigth! 

Ok, I need a few minutes off from the apocalypse.

In 1972 Adriano Celantano composed a song made up of scrambled English phonemes to demonstrate to anglophones what their language sounds like to non-anglophones. Remarkably it is more edifying than anything in our national political scene:

Thanks to GAS for a brief respite.

Not over 

Very good stuff from SEIU. A key, key point: rejecting the Senate bill is not saying "fuck it." It is saying that the fight is not over. The bill can still be changed. The final outcome can be changed even after the Senate bill is passed. But Obama-Lieberman will have to be forced kicking and screaming.

This is from the FDL post on the SEIU statement about the Senate shitpile:

Andy Stern, the President of the SEIU, published a letter to his membership on the union’s website today, saying that they cannot accept the Senate health care bill without fighting to improve it.

...He weighed the pros and cons, and agreed that the coverage expansions and insurance regulations are worthy goals. But he wasn’t blind to the negative aspects of reform in the Senate bill:

And while it is not entirely clear what the Senate bill will look like, it is becoming clearer that for many people, care will still be too expensive to afford. Some of you would face an additional burden because your health insurance benefits would be taxed. [Note: the major way to pay for the bill is taxes on supposedly 'luxurious' health-plans that are not really luxurious; they have often been won through years of collective bargaining, at the cost of pay raises; and many of the so-called 'luxurious' plans are essential in high-cost areas like the Northeast U.S. The companies would pay the tax for these programs, a cost which would immediately be transferred to people who use them, and to others whose premiums would rise. --speakingcorpse]

The first point is really key. Health reform is starting to look like a way to make coverage attractive to those least likely to use it, while making those most likely to use insurance – such as older customers, who would have to pay rates four times what the young pay, with no sense of where that age-banding begins; or those with pre-existing conditions, who would get charged 50% more – unable to afford it. As Jon Walker put it, “This sounds like a recipe to price out the old (nonprofitable) and force only the young (profitable) to buy insurance.”

Mcjoan had a host of other points to make on the weakness of the insurance regulations, including the most important fact, that there’s no regulatory framework created at the national level to actually enforce these rules.

On the excise tax, this is obviously a key concern for unions, and the best practice would be to enact a carve-out for those who arrived at their health benefits through collective bargaining. The White House is trying to defend the excise tax by saying that it only impacts 3% of all health plans, but with health inflation not expected to end with this bill (perhaps slow down if everything goes well), that 3% number will grow. The CBO score tells you the number will grow. That’s why reformers like it, because it raises more revenue than health inflation! [R.J. Eskow, a good moderate longtime professional healthcare analyst who writes for HuffPo, makes a key, key point: 3% of healthplans is misleading, because there are only a few plans, and some of them are big. 3 % means a much larger percentage of actual customers -- Eskow has it at 20%, many who have sacrificed pay-raises to get these healthplans; and the number will most certainly grow; the premiums which determine the tax are going up $ thousand+ yearly. --speakingcorpse]

...After laying out the particulars, Stern says that his organization will fight for improvements – and he calls on a certain DC resident to fight as well:

President Obama must remember his own words from the campaign. His call of “Yes We Can” was not just to us, not just to the millions of people who voted for him, but to himself. We all stood shoulder to shoulder with the President during his hard fought campaign. And, we will continue to stand with him but he must fight for the reform we all know is possible...

...This is one of the first times that any union has publicly called on President Obama to actually use his power as President. It’s significant, in that context.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Senator Feingold: Blame Obama 

The voters certainly will! Not to beat a dead horse, or to campaign against a doomed president, but...

Feingold: "This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place, so I don’t think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth."

Glenn Greenwald: ...From the start, assuaging the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries was a central preoccupation of the White House -- hence the deal negotiated in strict secrecy with Pharma to ban bulk price negotiations and drug reimportation, a blatant violation of both Obama's campaign positions on those issues and his promise to conduct all negotiations out in the open (on C-SPAN). Indeed, Democrats led the way yesterday in killing drug re-importation, which they endlessly claimed to support back when they couldn't pass it...

...Numerous Obama defenders... have been insisting that there is just nothing the White House could have done and all of this shows that our political system is tragically "ungovernable." After all, Congress is a separate branch of government, Obama doesn't have a vote, and 60 votes are needed to do anything...

...Does anyone actually believe that Rahm Emanuel (who built his career on industry support for the Party and jamming "centrist" bills through Congress with the support of Blue Dogs) and Barack Obama (who attached himself to Joe Lieberman when arriving in the Senate, repeatedly proved himself receptive to "centrist" compromises, had a campaign funded by corporate interests, and is now the leader of a vast funding and political infrastructure) were the helpless victims of those same forces?

...we've seen before what the White House can do -- and does do -- when they actually care about pressuring members of Congress to support something they genuinely want passed. When FDL and other liberal blogs led an effort to defeat Obama's war funding bill back in June, the White House became desperate for votes, and here is what they apparently did (though they deny it):

'The White House is playing hardball with Democrats who intend to vote against the supplemental war spending bill, threatening freshmen who oppose it that they won't get help with reelection and will be cut off from the White House, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said Friday. "We're not going to help you. You'll never hear from us again," Woolsey said the White House is telling freshmen.'

That's what the White House can do when they actually care about pressuring someone to vote the way they want. Why didn't they do any of that to the "centrists" who were supposedly obstructing what they wanted on health care? Why didn't they tell Blanche Lincoln -- in a desperate fight for her political life -- that she would "never hear from them again," and would lose DNC and other Democratic institutional support, if she filibustered the public option? Why haven't they threatened to remove Joe Lieberman's cherished Homeland Security Chairmanship if he's been sabotaging the President's agenda?

...What remains is a politically distastrous and highly coercive "mandate" gift to the health insurance industry, described perfectly by Digby:

'Obama can say that you're getting a lot, but also saying that it "covers everyone," as if there's a big new benefit is a big stretch. Nothing will have changed on that count except changing the law to force people to buy private insurance if they don't get it from their employer. I guess you can call that progressive, but that doesn't make it so. In fact, mandating that all people pay money to a private interest isn't even conservative, free market or otherwise. It's some kind of weird corporatism that's very hard to square with the common good philosophy that Democrats supposedly espouse.'

Nobody's "getting covered" here. After all, people are already "free" to buy private insurance and one must assume they have reasons for not doing it already. Whether those reasons are good or bad won't make a difference when they are suddenly forced to write big checks to Aetna or Blue Cross that they previously had decided they couldn't or didn't want to write. Indeed, it actually looks like the worst caricature of liberals: taking people's money against their will, saying it's for their own good --- and doing it without even the cover that FDR wisely insisted upon with social security, by having it withdrawn from paychecks.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Grand Guignol 

I'm all for pursuing pragmatic liberal policies, etc., and talking endlessly about the monolithic system is boring and pointless. Yes.

At the same time, however, it is not edifying to imagine conflict, drama, and actual events to be occurring when they are not.

TPM (a world away from IOZ):

As Politico first reported, the White House is pressuring a reluctant Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to keep the prospects for health care reform legislation alive, a keyed in aide confirms.

Reid's inclination is to wait until the CBO reports back on the public option compromise at the root of Lieberman's filibuster threat. But the White House has made it clear that they don't want to mess around.

The White House denies the charge. Spokesman Dan Pfeiffer tells TPMDC, "The report is inaccurate. The White House is not pushing Senator Reid in any direction. We are working hand in hand with the Senate Leadership to work through the various issues and pass health reform as soon as possible."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was less responsive. "The President is anxious to see progress and will continue to work with Democrats and Republicans and independents and everyone in between."

Today, Interior Secretary, and former Colorado Senator, Ken Salazar paid a visit to Lieberman. The White House has dispatched Salazar to the Hill numerous times over the course of the health care fight to finesse things with swing vote members, and today his focus is Lieberman.

So let's say Democratic leadership does cut a deal with Lieberman to scrap the public option compromise entirely. What happens next? Does Lieberman get off scot free with his former party?

A Senate Democratic aide says they're not thinking about that yet. "The anger is too raw, and the task of figuring out what to do now is too pressing, to ponder that," the aide said.

Can any initial interpretation of events exclude the possibility of Obama and Lieberhole acting in concert?

Update: Hamsher at Firedoglake (who is not commenting from a distance but from within the fight -- she has been the single person most responsible for the strong alignment of House Dems in support of the now-defunct public option):

It’s quite convenient that what Joe Lieberman is demanding — no public option, no Medicare buy-in — happens to look just like the Senate Finance Committee bill that the White House wrote with Baucus. Now the White House is saying Reid should take it...

Joe gets his way by giving Obama what he wanted anyway. Sweet. The weak and ineffectual/corrupt Reid will no doubt find a way to do just that. And Byron Dorgan’s drug reimportation bill that Harry Reid is blocking from coming to the floor? Well, we probably won’t see that either. Because it’s not part of the White House’s PhRMA deal, it can’t be in the bill. And if we’ve discovered one thing, it’s that the White House and Harry Reid will do anything to deliver on those secret deals...



In a move that senior leadership aides say has left them stunned, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that he will filibuster a tentative public option compromise unless it's stripped of its key component: a measure that would allow people aged 55-64 to buy insurance through Medicare.

The development casts substantial doubt on whether or not a health care reform bill can pass in the Senate, and even more doubt on whether a bill that does pass the Senate will be reconcilable with substantially more progressive House legislation in such a way that a final reform package can once again pass in both chambers of Congress.

I don't even want this thing to pass, but surely there's a special place in hell reserved for Lieberman. What an amazing world-class prick. I mean, I get that his job is to whittle away any part of the bill that actually helps people and just leave the Insco subsidy, but still...it's breathtaking.


IOZ has the solid on Lieberman's role in this little bit of grand guignol:

Lieberman. You have to admire his tenacity. He cut himself an admirable deal. Senate leadership lets him run a committee and do whatever he wants, and in exchange, he willingly functions as a convenient scapegoat and target for ineffectual Progressive wrath, as they are constitutionally incapable of understanding that he is not an impediment to the Donk's grand plans, but a primary component. Indeed, if "Republicans apply the torque that turns the thing rightward [and] . . . Democrats are the pawl," then the likes of Lieberman (see also, Ben Nelson, the Blue Dogs, et al) are the teeth on the gear, which is to say, the sharp protrusions against which the Democratic pawl clicks to prevent backsliding. The wheel turns right; the Donk slips in; Lieberman cries "Across this line . . . you do not . . ."; and the Progressive internet goes bonkers and ignores the rest of the machine. Whether health care or the terror war. Doesn't matter. The effect is the same.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Shit struck with miniature Duomo statue, bleeds. 

Better than assassination?



Drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis, the United Nations' drugs and crime tsar has told the Observer.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.

sunshineandponiesophagia II: Son of sunshineandponiesophagia 

Also good news:

GEORGE GOEHL: What we're trying to do is really organize around a set of ideas. And when we think a real successful movement would be more around an allegiance to ideas over party. And some of that'll contain protests. But it's really about a vision of what we want to create. Around a more fair and just economy. So, right now, I think a lot of the action is around banking reform. But I think we're building the foundation for a big movement around an economy that serves us all.


This is an incredible opportunity to turn a tragedy into something good. So, if we can get it together, and I really think is not about the Congress. This is not about the President. This is about the people watching this show and other Americans saying, 'Enough is enough.' And I'm going to move from my seat out into the streets, from fingers on a keyboard, boots on the ground, and get out there." Whether that means calling the Members of Congress. Whether it means organizing a little protest in front of a bank. Whether it means making a YouTube video and cutting up your credit cards and posting it and sending it out to your friends. If people get engaged, we can win this fight. And that's happening. There are actions planned all across the country in 25 states over through the end of the year. And then as next year comes around, you'll start to see more events like the showdown in Chicago.

A guilty admission: I've stupidly bought into the media-pimped notion that the Teabaggers are the Official Face of Popular Outrage at the Banks. In my defense, I'll say that I wasn't very wholehearted about it, I just hadn't heard of any good shit coming from the left. Bill Moyers, god bless him, shows it ain't so. The video is worth watching, although Heather Booth is a bit muddle-headed, a regrettable necessity in activist interviews. It will be a huge loss when Moyers does his last show soon.

Also of note, I learned from Doug Henwood's peerless radio show Behind the News, that Evo's re-election was by a huge margin and turnout and that Bolivia's economy is doing so well that even the IMF praised it. Venezuela meanwhile isn't looking as good. Which is further evidence to bolster my core belief that change is best when it's from the bottom up and not the top down. It isn't easy being this right all the time, people. But I do it because I care.

If you like radio, Behind the News as well as Chuck Mertz's show are the best things on the air. Sane speech. Very refreshing.


Naomi Klein:

We are seeing a redefinition of environmentalism, which has always been a bit of a kind of, sort of touchy-feely movement here in the North. “We’re all in it together. Let’s hold hands,” right? There’s nothing wrong with holding hands, but the fact is, we’re not all in it together in the same way. There is an inverse relationship between the people who created the problem and where the effects of those problems are being felt. There’s an inverse relationship between who created the problem and who can afford to save themselves from the problem, and it isn’t only in the Global South. Think about New Orleans. Right? It’s also the South in the North. The people who had resources could drive out of the disaster zone; the people who depended on the state were left on their roofs, a kind of a climate apartheid, in the United States.

So we have this discussion of reparations. In the United States, when you talk about reparations, it’s not about the stealing of resources as much as it is about the stealing of people. So this movement that we are talking about today is part of that movement, as well. In fact, at a conference in 2001 in Durban, South Africa, the Conference on Racism, the issue of ecological debt was one of the issues on the agenda, but so was reparations for slavery. And I think there are some people here from N’COBRA from the United States, which is the national coalition calling for reparations for slavery. And they deserve to be acknowledged, because this movement is building on their work, as well.


I said at the opening of Klimaforum that there’s a place for rage and there’s a place for civil disobedience. I was not saying, as some news reports claimed, that Copenhagen should be trashed. I really don’t think so. I think that’s a very bad idea. And I’m going to say that explicitly, even though people are always telling me, “Don’t say it’s bad. Don’t say it’s bad.” Listen, the reason why it’s bad is precisely because of what we’re seeing here. This conversation that has started here about the real face of environmentalism, as a class war that is being waged by the rich against the poor, has never happened before. There has never been global media attention on this discussion. If we allow the media to change the discussion into broken windows in Copenhagen—which is the boringest discussion in the world, OK?—we have truly failed.

But I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be direct action. There should be direct action

So the protests are well underway and according to the Telegraph some windows have been broken and there've already been mass-arrests, pre-emptive and otherwise. So the pens are filling up as planned. I haven't looked widely and so I don't know whether corporate media has latched onto this and made this all about broken windows.

What's interesting about Klein's words here isn't so much her denunciation of property destruction as a form of direct action, although I agree with her in this instance, but her sketch of the new form of the Global Justice movement. To the extent that her sketch is accurate I find this a very promising direction indeed.

Essentially what she's outlining is the late Murray Bookchin's idea of social ecology, the central insight of which is that ecological problems are rooted in social problems. Since I basically agree with this, I find it very promising that mass-movements are starting to organize around this principle, even if sans la lettre. I don't expect anything of any worth to come out of the official portion of this conference, but if the Global Justice movement can successfully forge organizational, rhetorical and theoretical links between environmental struggle, class war, and slavery reparations as a result of converging at this place and time, it would be invaluable. Linking these elements would be an achievement on par with the long-hoped-for unity of labor, student and environmental groups that made Seattle so effective. This is a ray of hope that the movement of movements can find its feet again after its post-9/11 dissolution.

It does also illustrate a key function of these protests, which isn't only to contest power. Most protests don't put very much pressure on power and many people feel they are worthless for this reason. But these convergences, and protests generally, act as sort of mini-conferences. Morale is boosted by learning you are not alone, connections made, information and ideas exchanged, hope, solidarity and agency are cultivated, alienation and frustration dissipated. Oddly, all of this sort of thing doesn't happen very much at actual movement conferences. Having the imperative to action makes consensus, actually listening to others, and finding common ground more urgent thus reducing the sectarian squabbles that occur when the discussion is purely academic. Not that there's not sectarian squabbling at protests, but vitriol and length are greatly reduced.

The next phase of course would be devising new tactics that break out of the ritualization pattern JHD commented on earlier. This is a good beginning though. Even if they don't get the right headlines in the right media outlets, resistance is still fertile.


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