Friday, September 30, 2011

The Revolution Begins at Home (Arun Gupta), Occupy LA, Unions Head to Wall Street

 Occupy LA begins this Saturday Oct 1st! We are
Occupying LA in solidarity with Occupy Wall St. (A Peacefull Occupation)
Starting at 10:00am in Pershing Square, marching
to City Hall Map Join Us - Bring a sleeping bag, food, supplies, friends!
Check out the website. The revolution is not being televised.

 From: Mitchel Cohen [] 
The Revolution Begins at Home
By Arun Gupta 

What is occurring on Wall Street right now is truly remarkable. For over 10 days, in the sanctum of the great cathedral of global capitalism, the dispossessed have liberated territory from the financial overlords and their police army.

They have created a unique opportunity to shift the tides of history in the tradition of other great peaceful occupations from the sit-down strikes of the 1930s to the lunch-counter sit-ins of the 1960s to the democratic uprisings across the Arab world and Europe today.

While the Wall Street occupation is growing, it needs an all-out commitment from everyone who cheered the Egyptians in Tahrir Square, said "We are all Wisconsin," and stood in solidarity with the Greeks and Spaniards. This is a movement for anyone who lacks a job, housing or healthcare, or thinks they have no future.

Our system is broken at every level. More than 25 million Americans are unemployed. More than 50 million live without health insurance. And perhaps 100 million Americans are mired in poverty, using realistic measures. Yet the fat cats continue to get tax breaks and reap billions while politicians compete to turn the austerity screws on all of us.

At some point the number of people occupying Wall Street -- whether that's five thousand, ten thousand or fifty thousand -- will force the powers that be to offer concessions. No one can say how many people it will take or even how things will change exactly, but there is a real potential for bypassing a corrupt political process and to begin realizing a society based on human needs not hedge fund profits.

After all, who would have imagined a year ago that Tunisians and Egyptians would oust their dictators?

At Liberty Park, the nerve center of the occupation, more than a thousand people gather every day to debate, discuss and organize what to do about our failed system that has allowed the 400 richest Americans at the top to amass more wealth than the 180 million Americans at the bottom.

It's astonishing that this self-organized festival of democracy has sprouted on the turf of the masters of the universe, the men who play the tune that both political parties and the media dance to. The New York Police Department, which has deployed hundreds of officers at a time to surround and intimidate protesters, is capable of arresting everyone and clearing Liberty Plaza in minutes. But they haven't, which is also astonishing.

That's because assaulting peaceful crowds in a public square demanding real democracy -- economic and not just political -- would remind the world of the brittle autocrats who brutalized their people demanding justice before they were swept away by the Arab Spring. And the state violence has already backfired. After police attacked a Saturday afternoon march that started from Liberty Plaza the crowds only got bigger and media interest grew.

The Wall Street occupation has already succeeded in revealing the bankruptcy of the dominant powers -- the economic, the political, media and security forces. They have nothing positive to offer humanity, not that they ever did for the Global South, but now their quest for endless profits means deepening the misery with a thousand austerity cuts.

Even their solutions are cruel jokes. They tell us that the "Buffett Rule" would spread the pain by asking the penthouse set to sacrifice a tin of caviar, which is what the proposed tax increase would amount to. Meanwhile, the rest of us will have to sacrifice healthcare, food, education, housing, jobs and perhaps our lives to sate the ferocious appetite of capital.

That's why more and more people are joining the Wall Street occupation. They can tell you about their homes being foreclosed upon, months of grinding unemployment or minimum-wage dead-end jobs, staggering student debt loads, or trying to live without decent healthcare. It's a whole generation of Americans with no prospects, but who are told to believe in a system that can only offer them Dancing With The Stars and pepper spray to the face.

Yet against every description of a generation derided as narcissistic, apathetic and hopeless they are staking a claim to a better future for all of us.

That's why we all need to join in. Not just by liking it on Facebook, signing a petition at or retweeting protest photos, but by going down to the occupation itself.

There is great potential here. Sure, it's a far cry from Tahrir Square or even Wisconsin. But there is the nucleus of a revolt that could shake America's power structure as much as the Arab world has been upended.

Instead of one to two thousand people a day joining in the occupation there needs to be tens of thousands of people protesting the fat cats driving Bentleys and drinking thousand-dollar bottles of champagne with money they looted from the financial crisis and then from the bailouts while Americans literally die on the streets.

To be fair, the scene in Liberty Plaza seems messy and chaotic. But it's also a laboratory of possibility, and that's the beauty of democracy. As opposed to our monoculture world, where political life is flipping a lever every four years, social life is being a consumer and economic life is being a timid cog, the Wall Street occupation is creating a polyculture of ideas, expression and art.

Yet while many people support the occupation, they hesitate to fully join in and are quick to offer criticism. It's clear that the biggest obstacles to building a powerful movement are not the police or capital -- it's our own cynicism and despair.

Perhaps their views were colored by the New York Times article deriding protesters for wishing to "pantomime progressivism" and "Gunning for Wall Street with faulty aim." Many of the criticisms boil down to "a lack of clear messaging."

But what's wrong with that? A fully formed movement is not going to spring from the ground. It has to be created. And who can say what exactly needs to be done? We are not talking about ousting a dictator; though some say we want to oust the dictatorship of capital.

There are plenty of sophisticated ideas out there: end corporate personhood; institute a "Tobin Tax" on stock purchases and currency trading; nationalize banks; socialize medicine; fully fund government jobs and genuine Keynesian stimulus; lift restrictions on labor organizing; allow cities to turn foreclosed homes into public housing; build a green energy infrastructure.

But how can we get broad agreement on any of these? If the protesters came into the square with a pre-determined set of demands it would have only limited their potential. They would have either been dismissed as pie in the sky -- such as socialized medicine or nationalize banks -- or if they went for weak demands such as the Buffett Rule their efforts would immediately be absorbed by a failed political system, thus undermining the movement.

That's why the building of the movement has to go hand in hand with common struggle, debate and radical democracy. It's how we will create genuine solutions that have legitimacy. And that is what is occurring down at Wall Street.

Now, there are endless objections one can make. But if we focus on the possibilities, and shed our despair, our hesitancy and our cynicism, and collectively come to Wall Street with critical thinking, ideas and solidarity we can change the world.

How many times in your life do you get a chance to watch history unfold, to actively participate in building a better society, to come together with thousands of people where genuine democracy is the reality and not a fantasy?

For too long our minds have been chained by fear, by division, by impotence. The one thing the elite fear most is a great awakening. That day is here. Together we can seize it.

Arun Gupta is the editor of The Indypendent.

Ring the bells that still can ring,  Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in. 
~ Leonard Cohen
Unions Head to Support Occupy Wall Street

Citing common cause, the Transport Workers Union - one of the country's largest unions with over 200,000 members - has announced its support for the Occupy Wall Street protests. They will join a Friday rally. Other unions are following suit, with a slew of big NYC unions planning an Oct. 5 rally.

The Village Voice interviewed Transport Workers Union Local 100's spokesman Jim Gannon:

Why did they join? "Well, actually, the protesters, it's pretty courageous what they're doing," he said, "and it's brought a new public focus in a different way to what we've been saying along. While Wall Street and the banks and the corporations are the ones that caused the mess that's flowed down into the states and cities, it seems there's no shared sacrifice. It's the workers having to sacrifice while the wealthy get away scot-free. It's kind of a natural alliance with the young people and the students -- they're voicing our message, why not join them? On many levels, our workers feel an affinity with the kids. They just seem to be hanging out there getting the crap beaten out of them, and maybe union support will help them out a little bit."

Could Unions Help Rebrand Occupy Wall St from a Dirty Hippie Protest to a Populist One? from on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Occupy LA, this Saturday, October 1st, Before we put the books away, William Grant Still Arts Center Fall exhibit

Here's towards a better year: L'shana tova!

Monday I received the following post from
Barbara Peck for our
community mail list:
I just got out of a meeting with 100 organizers in downtown and we've
got a huge action coming up next Saturday, October 1st. In solidarity
with the building movement against corporate greed and actions taking
place in NY and other cities across the country, we are going to be
occupying Los Angeles (at L.A. City Hall). We'll be doing an
encampment of the lawn and hits on the financial district.
Saturday at 10:00am -October 1

LA City Hall
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA

Please let me know asap if can participate in this.

Also, please help get people out for this and hold our government accountable -
this is what we've been working for and it's finally here.

Onward and upward.


John Johnson
Change-Links Progressive Newspaper
Subscribe to our list server. Email
(818) 782-1412
Cell (818) 681-7448.
Photo of people reading at SCL book sale
Before we put the books away for the last time this year, you can stop by to get great books at even better prices: This Wednesday through Saturday only, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. all books will be 50% off --paperbacks 50 cents and hardbacks $1.

And thanks to everyone who donated books, helped spread the word, and came out to SCL's book sale last week. We were even getting donations with great titles during the sale!

Photo of people going through books at SCL book sale

@ Southern California Library
6120 S. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90044 • (323) 759-6063

SCL logo

Where Making History Is a Struggle


From: John A Imani

WHAT: Fall exhibit at William Grant Still Arts Center

WHEN: October 8 November 19, 2011

TIMES: Monday - Saturday 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM

WHERE: William Grant Still Arts Center

2520 West View Street (One blk. E. of La Brea) Los Angeles, CA. 90016

Media Contact: Ami Motevalli, Director of William Grant Still Arts Center

323.734.1165, <>

The William Grant Still Arts Center


Colonialism: The Collective Unconcious

Curated by Lili Bernard

Cost: Free

LOS ANGELES, CA. - Opening on Columbus Day weekend, this dynamic group show of fifteen emerging, established and legendary Los Angeles-based artists, explores the impact of colonialism from Europe to Africa, Asia and the Americas. Each artist focuses on the subtle and overt influence of Colonialism on the collective psyche and the ways in which colonialism manifests itself today.

The exhibit includes Asco co-founder Harry Gamboa Jr.’s avant garde video "Fire Ants for Nothing," where a man (text and performance by Ruben Guevara) tries without success to affirm that he is not an ant, before extinguishing himself. 3D glasses are available to view half Native American/half Africa n-American artist Steven J. Brook’s sarcastic cartoonish commentary on the conqueror’s coiffeur via his Conkaline’s Glam-O-Rama, while Chicana artist Barbara Carrasco offers her comic strip interpretation of colonialism via "Undiscover 500 Years (Columbus 1492-1992)." New Orleans native Mark Broyard takes us back to Katrina in his assemblage series which he composed of objects found in the wake of the hurricane, while John Outterbridge ink drawings of the Watts Towers evoke memory of when the City of Los Angeles attempted to demolish the vernacular assemblage architecture built by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia.

Tel Aviv-born Dorit Cypis uncovers a "self-knowledge that better recognizes otherness within" through a very personal conceptualization of colonialism in her native Palestine. Zimbabwe native Raksha Parekh uses sugar and cotton to conceptualize the historical impact of those trade industries upon her native Africa and her East Indian ancestors, while Cuban native Lili Bernard flips Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People painting to tell the story of a Cuban slave revolt lead by the African slave woman, Carlota, of the Triumvirato sugar plantation. The exhibition also includes works by Lavialle Campbell, Raul Balthazar, Stephanie Mercado, Willie Middlebrook, Xilomen Rios and Zeal Harris.

Colonialism: The Collective Unconscious exhibition features several events; including opening reception on October 8, featuring a liveperformance by renown and award winning actor and performance artist Roger Guenveur Smith’s piece, "Christopher Columbus, 1992". We will also have music by Marcus L. Miller’s Freedom Jazz Movement featuring Leon Mobley on percussion and Kamasi Washington on Saxophone. The panel discussion on October 22 will give us an opportunity to have direct dialogue with the artists and curator

Frank Rich: In Praise of Extremism

In Praise of Extremism

What good did bipartisanship ever do anybody?

The New Yorker: Sep 25, 2011
The election is still thirteen months away, but in certain coastal circles, the quadrennial wailing has erupted right on schedule: "If that man gets in the White House, I'm moving out of the country!" This time that man is Rick Perry, who might have been computer-generated to check every box in a shrill liberal fund-raising letter: a gun-toting, ­Bible-thumping, anti-government death-penalty absolutist from Texas. And this time the liberals' panic is not entirely over-the-top. Perry isn't a novelty nut job like Michele Bachmann. He's the real deal. It's not implausible he could win his party's nomination and prevail in enough swing-state nail-biters to take the presidency. He could do so because the times and the politician are in alignment. A desperate and angry country is facing the specter of a double-dip recession with zero prospects of relief from a defunct Washington. Perry is the only viable declared candidate—as measured by organizing savvy, fund-raising prowess, poll numbers, and take-no-prisoners gubernatorial résumé—hawking an unambiguous alternative to the failed status quo.

The important thing to remember about Perry is that he's anathema to Mitt Romney, Karl Rove, and many conservative pundits no less than to liberals. His swift rise does not just reflect his enthusiasts' detestation of Barack Obama. Perry's constituency rejects the entire bipartisan Establishment of which Obama is merely the latest and shiniest product. For two decades, the elites in both parties and in the Beltway media-political combine have venerated a vanilla centrism, from Bush 41's "thousand points of light" to Clinton's triangulation to Bush 43's "compassionate conservatism." They've endorsed every useless bipartisan commission and every hapless bipartisan congressional "Gang of Six" (or Twelve, or Twenty, not to mention the new too-big-not-to-fail budget supercommittee). Perry, by contrast, is a proud and unabashed partisan. If he's talking about gangs, chances are they're chain gangs, not dithering conclaves of legislators. He doesn't aspire to be the adult in the room, as Obama does, but the bull in the china shop of received opinion. Despite all the flak from political gatekeepers of most persuasions, he didn't back down from calling Social Security "a Ponzi scheme" and "a monstrous lie" in his first national debate. Indeed, he touched the third rail of American politics and lived. Gallup found that his stand didn't hurt him a whit among GOP voters. Though most commentators across the spectrum awarded the night to Romney, a CNN survey found that more Republicans by far came away feeling that Perry had the better chance of beating Obama. They, unlike Washington's political aristocracy, may actually know what's going on in America.

Whether Perry snares the big prize or not, he could prove a shock to the system tantamount to Barry Goldwater in 1964—and just as misestimated now as Goldwater was then. In Before the Storm, Rick Perlstein's landmark 2001 book on the origins and triumph of the conservative insurgency, we're reminded of how Washington's wise men thought Goldwater's landslide defeat signaled the decisive end to his movement. James Reston, the New York Times' reigning sage, spoke for them all when he declared that Goldwater had "wrecked his party for a long time to come and is not even likely to control the wreckage." But as Perlstein points out, "After the off-year elections a mere two years later, conservatives so dominated Congress that Lyndon Johnson couldn't even get up a majority to appropriate money for rodent control in the slums." The premature obituaries for the right, in Perlstein's judgment, constituted "one of the most dramatic failures of collective discernment in the history of American journalism." What those journalists in the D.C. bubble failed to discern was that the bipartisan national consensus over the central role of government—which had held firm through the Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations—was kaput. The Reagan revolution was in the wings.

Should Perry get the GOP nomination, he could capsize like Goldwater on Election Day. That's the universal prediction of today's Restons. But maybe he won't. Perry would have a cratered economy to exploit, unlike Goldwater, who ran in a boom time when unemployment was under 6 percent and the GDP was up 5.8 percent from the previous year. Whatever Perry's 2012 electoral fate, his lightning ascent is final proof, if any further is needed in the day of the tea-party GOP, that a bipartisan consensus in America is as unachievable now as it was after 1964.

This is the harsh reality Obama has been way too slow to recognize. But in his post–Labor Day "Pass this jobs plan!" speech before Congress, the lip service he characteristically paid to both Republican and Democratic ideas gave way to an unmistakable preference for Democratic ideas. Soon to come were his "Buffett rule" for addressing the inequities of the Bush tax cuts and a threat to veto any budget without new tax revenues to go with spending cuts. When he tied it all up in a Rose Garden mini-tantrum pushing back against the usual cries of "class warfare," it was enough to give one hope. No, not 2008 fired-up hope, but at least the trace memory of it. Should Obama not cave—always a big if with this president—he might have a serious shot at overcoming the huge burdens of a dark national mood and flatlined economy to win reelection.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Krugman: Euro Zone Death Trip, and Response

From: Jimmy Walter []

Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 9:49 AM

I agree with everything but his conclusion: "Part of the problem may be that those policy elites have a selective historical memory. They love to talk about the German inflation of the early 1920s a story that, as it happens, has no bearing on our current situation. Yet they almost never talk about a much more relevant example: the policies of Heinrich Brüning, Germany's chancellor from 1930 to 1932, whose insistence on balancing budgets and preserving the gold standard made the Great Depression even worse in Germany than in the rest of Europe setting the stage for you-know-what. Now, I don't expect anything that bad to happen in 21st-century Europe...."

I expect full scale revolutions in Greece, Spain, and Italy, possibly Ireland.  - Jimmy

Euro Zone Death Trip
Paul Krugman
NY Times Op-Ed: September 26, 2011
Is it possible to be both terrified and bored? That's how I feel about the negotiations now under way over how to respond to Europe's economic crisis, and I suspect other observers share the sentiment.

On one side, Europe's situation is really, really scary: with countries that account for a third of the euro area's economy now under speculative attack, the single currency's very existence is being threatened — and a euro collapse could inflict vast damage on the world.

On the other side, European policy makers seem set to deliver more of the same. They'll probably find a way to provide more credit to countries in trouble, which may or may not stave off imminent disaster. But they don't seem at all ready to acknowledge a crucial fact — namely, that without more expansionary fiscal and monetary policies in Europe's stronger economies, all of their rescue attempts will fail.

The story so far: The introduction of the euro in 1999 led to a vast boom in lending to Europe's peripheral economies, because investors believed (wrongly) that the shared currency made Greek or Spanish debt just as safe as German debt. Contrary to what you often hear, this lending boom wasn't mostly financing profligate government spending — Spain and Ireland actually ran budget surpluses on the eve of the crisis, and had low levels of debt. Instead, the inflows of money mainly fueled huge booms in private spending, especially on housing.

But when the lending boom abruptly ended, the result was both an economic and a fiscal crisis. Savage recessions drove down tax receipts, pushing budgets deep into the red; meanwhile, the cost of bank bailouts led to a sudden increase in public debt. And one result was a collapse of investor confidence in the peripheral nations' bonds.

So now what? Europe's answer has been to demand harsh fiscal austerity, especially sharp cuts in public spending, from troubled debtors, meanwhile providing stopgap financing until private-investor confidence returns. Can this strategy work?

Not for Greece, which actually was fiscally profligate during the good years, and owes more than it can plausibly repay. Probably not for Ireland and Portugal, which for different reasons also have heavy debt burdens. But given a favorable external environment — specifically, a strong overall European economy with moderate inflation — Spain, which even now has relatively low debt, and Italy, which has a high level of debt but surprisingly small deficits, could possibly pull it off.

Unfortunately, European policy makers seem determined to deny those debtors the environment they need.

Think of it this way: private demand in the debtor countries has plunged with the end of the debt-financed boom. Meanwhile, public-sector spending is also being sharply reduced by austerity programs. So where are jobs and growth supposed to come from? The answer has to be exports, mainly to other European countries.

But exports can't boom if creditor countries are also implementing austerity policies, quite possibly pushing Europe as a whole back into recession.

Also, the debtor nations need to cut prices and costs relative to creditor countries like Germany, which wouldn't be too hard if Germany had 3 or 4 percent inflation, allowing the debtors to gain ground simply by having low or zero inflation. But the European Central Bank has a deflationary bias — it made a terrible mistake by raising interest rates in 2008 just as the financial crisis was gathering strength, and showed that it has learned nothing by repeating that mistake this year.

As a result, the market now expects very low inflation in Germany — around 1 percent over the next five years — which implies significant deflation in the debtor nations. This will both deepen their slumps and increase the real burden of their debts, more or less ensuring that all rescue efforts will fail.

And I see no sign at all that European policy elites are ready to rethink their hard-money-and-austerity dogma.

Part of the problem may be that those policy elites have a selective historical memory. They love to talk about the German inflation of the early 1920s — a story that, as it happens, has no bearing on our current situation. Yet they almost never talk about a much more relevant example: the policies of Heinrich Brüning, Germany's chancellor from 1930 to 1932, whose insistence on balancing budgets and preserving the gold standard made the Great Depression even worse in Germany than in the rest of Europe — setting the stage for you-know-what.

Now, I don't expect anything that bad to happen in 21st-century Europe. But there is a very wide gap between what the euro needs to survive and what European leaders are willing to do, or even talk about doing. And given that gap, it's hard to find reasons for optimism.