Wednesday, June 06, 2012 3:33 PM
There’s been a lot of talk
today about what Scott Walker’s victory means for progressives. There are a lot
of potential takeaways. The Citizens
United decision allowed Walker
outspend his opponent, mostly from out-of-state donors and independent
expenditures. Unlike the RNC, national Democrats (and the president) were conspicuously absent during the race, indicating that Obama may be unwilling
to take a stand on workers’ rights during an election year. Turnout
yesterday was unusually
high for Wisconsin,
which says a lot about how contentious the election really was. And other
Republican governors, who have watched the race closely, may now be planning
similar policies in their own states.
All that may spell big
trouble for workers across the country. But there’s another lesson we may be
forgetting: organized labor’s campaign against Walker was its largest and most significant
in decades, and Tuesday’s results are only a small part of that. Historically, elections have been a pretty minor part of most social movements—especially
labor. And activists in Wisconsin
know this history very well. When the state legislature cut
off citizen testimony on Walker’s
budget proposal early last year, their response was not a petition or an
official complaint, but an occupation. As Allison Kilkenny points
out in TheNation,
Alienation from the traditional leftist institutions was the cause of the
original occupation of Wisconsin's
state capitol, followed by a slew of occupations all across the country, and
the world. Burnt by the Republicans and abandoned by the Democrats, protesters
turned to nontraditional forms of protest, including camping in public spaces
and refusing to leave.
Until the recall campaign
officially began several months later, those nontraditional forms of protest
made up most of the progressive response to Walker. Citizens sent sarcastic
valentines to the governor’s office, closed
public schools, and revealed Walker’s
baser intentions in other creative
But by far the most significant action was the occupation of Wisconsin’s state
capitol, which connected the struggle both to Arab Spring demonstrations, and
later to the Occupy movement it helped inspire. There's also its
connection with labor history—it was hardly the first time citizens occupied
the capitol in Madison.
In 1936, more than a hundred WPA workers and their families camped
out at the state house to protest low wages and inconsistent pay. That
year, sit-down strikes (“occupations” in 2012-speak) erupted in dozens of
factories, plants, and workshops across the country. The next year, there were nearly
Then as now, a stalled recovery threatened a double-dip recession, and many
Americans wanted to see more action from a divided government in Washington. (This was
less than a year after the Supreme Court declared the National Recovery Administration unconstitutional.) Wisconsin even had a
leftwing governor from a radical third party, but like many people throughout
the country, the WPA workers still chose to work outside the system. Last year
we saw a similar (and somewhat smaller) wave of organizing and action in dozens
of cities, including Madison,
and it’s hard to know exactly where all of that will end up.
The recall in Wisconsin gives us some
idea of that, but not a complete picture. The Tea Party is still clearly an
important political force, and many ordinary people remain suspicious of the
intentions and tactics of organized labor. But the situation is far from black
and white. Last night’s numbers make it easy to claim a resounding defeat for
organized labor, but the last 16 months seem to show the opposite. It would be
a shame, for instance, if the recall vote overshadowed recent labor victories,
like when Ohioans voted overwhelmingly to restore
collective bargaining last November. And let’s not forget that Dems
took the Wisconsin senate yesterday in another recall, which may create
some hurdles for Walker’s
more conservative planks.
But even more than that, with
or without a successful recall, the fight in Wisconsin was a significant step forward for
organized labor. Unions have been steadily losing strength for decades, and its
mobilization in Wisconsin
was pretty unprecedented. Writes
For those who see democracy as a spectator sport with clearly defined
seasons that finish on Election Day, the Wisconsin
results are just depressing. But for those who recognize the distance Wisconsin… and other
states… have come since the Republicans won just about everything in 2010, the
recall story is instructive.
Walker’s February 2011 assault on union rights provoked some of the largest
mass demonstrations in modern labor history, protests that anticipated the
“Occupy” phenomenon with a three-week takeover of the state Capitol and
universal slogan “Blame Wall Street Not the Workers,” protests that both drew
inspiration from and served to inspire the global kicking up against austerity.
And that kicking up is far from over. As
Peter Dreier points out in Common Dreams,
Walker spent 88 percent of the money
in yesterday’s recall to get 53 percent of the vote. In 2010, when Walker faced the same
opponent for the same office, his campaign spending was a small
fraction of what it was this year. In Wisconsin, as in many other parts of the
world, austerity may require much more convincing than it did two years ago. In
spite of the recall results, Wisconsin
may represent less an end than a beginning.
Institute on Money in State Politics.
Image by WisPolitics.com,
licensed under Creative
Wednesday, October 12, 2011 11:01 AM
“The Swiss have mountains, so they climb. Canadians have lakes, so they canoe. The Australians have canyons, so they go canyoneering, a hybrid form of madness halfway between mountaineering and caving in which you go down instead of up, often through wet tunnels and narrow passageways.”
A rival to the Booker Prize has been announced, sending the literary world into an uproar.
A black male feminist speaks out.
Finally, you can carry David Bowie in your wallet.
Afghanistan, Iraq, Ecuador, Antarctica, and more are the latest citizens of Google Maps’ growing empire of crowdsourced maps.
For all you typography junkies (you’re out there, right?), Kerntype offers a strangely addictive kerning game, in which you move the letters in words left or right to achieve even spacing and optimal readability.
One writer’s takeaway from South by Southwest Eco: We should care for the planet not because it makes economic sense, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Big Agriculture mounts a PR campaign to counter the side effects of Food Inc.
Let’s downsize Sprawlopolis by shifting property taxes to land dues.
Gibson Guitar hits a sour note with environmentalists as it cozies up to the Tea Party.
Murder City: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime offers a world map detailing homicide rates around the world.
An upstart newspaper files dispatched from the edge of capitalism. Introducing, the Occupied Wall Street Journal.
How do you get people to attend a reading? Host a Literary Death Match.
The big business of televised food is bigger than you think. The ice in a beverage, for example, might be made of acrylic and cost $500 a cube.
The decline and fall of America’s decline and fall.
Puff, puff, pour? Leave it to the gourmands to add marijuana to upscale beers and wines.
This new medical device is like a super soaker for the burn unit: It coats a burn victim’s wound with their own skin cells, allegedly healing the injury in days instead of weeks.
Snarky t-shirt or serious chic? A design writer for imprint teases out the difficulties of choosing what to wear to a protest.
What if Facebook developed a web browser to challenge Google?
Image by spacecadet, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, August 05, 2011 4:14 PM
Anyone who has ever had the yearning to vote for an alternative, independent, and progressive third party candidate only to cave in the voting booth and vote Democrat—haunted by voices saying, “You’d be throwing your vote away”—must surely be asking these days, “What if?” After seeing what just a few elected officials can do to the whole political process, each and every one of them has to be saying, “If only we’d voted with our hearts.” After all, as Kevin Drum points out at Mother Jones, “So who was driving the absolutist view in Congress over the past few months? If it was the no-compromise wing of the tea party, that's less than 10% of the country.”
Less than ten percent. No doubt, at some point in the last few decades all those people wishing they could break out of the tired two-party system and vote for a truly progressive-minded candidate could have reached a number in Congress that could rival the number of Tea Partiers taking the country hostage now. What then? What would this country look like had we known that so few could do so much? We’ll never know.
Still, if we must try and find a silver lining in this nobody-wins model of government, maybe it’s this: It turns out we might not being throwing our vote away if we vote more progressively than we previously thought possible. Or, at the very least, form a political base with some teeth, able to make Democrats believe they may be ousted for a more progressive candidate if they continue to woo the Almighty Independent Vote in lieu of actual liberal ideals. This is the conclusion behind recent articles in Dissent and Change-Links.
In “Stopping Obama’s Next Betrayal” Mark Engler has little time for debating whether or not Obama is a true liberal or a centrist. Such discussions don’t “lead very far in terms of suggesting a political response,” Engler writes. Obama is what he is and, no matter what else you say about his administration, it will listen to opposing sides. The problem, according to Engler, is that progressive movements aren’t doing their part in making the president or Congress work for them.
Obama is willing to compromise and cave because progressive movements are not strong enough to enforce discipline among politicians. Nor are they strong enough to consistently outweigh corporate influences within the Democratic Party….
Until a vocal, dedicated, progressive grassroots, taking a page from the Tea Party, can show that it’s far more effective to reposition the center of the debate than it is to forever triangulate in hopes of appealing to “independents,“ Democratic politicians will continue to do the latter.
Similarly Shamus Cooke, in “The Rich are Destroying the Economy,” calls for a strong, organized movement to make politicians respond to progressive ideals, though he is suspect of Democrats being willing or able to rise to the task:
Organized labor needs to bring masses of people in the street all over the country in order to get attention and pressure the government to respond to these demands. And it can succeed, especially if it organizes a serious, protracted campaign and especially if this campaign does not get funneled into supporting Democratic candidates, the surest way to kill campaign momentum.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently spoke in favor of a strong, independent labor movement. This is the direction it must take, rather than relying on the Democrats. The labor movement must get its act together, unite to put up a fight and demand specific policies that can concretely address the crisis faced by millions of working people.
So, the silver lining is that maybe we aren’t really stuck with a two-party system. Maybe we wouldn’t be throwing our votes away if we voted the way we actually wanted to vote. At the very least, we’re (oddly) reminded by the Tea Party of what Margaret Mead said about a small group of committed citizens changing the world. (Though she did also use the word “thoughtful.”) That said, if there’s gridlock now in DC, can you imagine what it would be like if the left side of the aisle was actually full of progressive politicians bent on staying true to their ideals instead of caving for the “betterment” of the country?
Source: Dissent, Change-Link, Mother Jones
Image by Image Editor, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 10:58 AM
This post was originally published at Care2.
The very essence of democratic rule may be about to die in Michigan.
If Gov. Rick Snyder (R) gets his way soon he will have the ability to unilaterally declare a “fiscal emergency.” Once such an emergency is declared he would then have the power to dissolve the entire municipal government of wherever this “emergency” exists, dismiss the elected officials with no replacement election to follow, seize control of local civil services and, last but certainly not least, cede control of taxpayer money, services and powers to private corporations.
Anyone else sense the Koch brothers lurking in the shadows?
Like other power grabs in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, this one is couched in terms of needing to wrest control away from the people and their unions in the name of financial austerity.
Snyder is like his other Tea Party Republican governors a product of crony-capitalism at its worst. After campaigning on concepts of limited government and democratic by-the-people rule, once in power Snyder, Walker and the others have almost immediately taken the unprecedented steps of trying to secure unilateral authority in the hands of the executive branch of government and granting unto themselves the ability to reward their corporate backers with the keys to the taxpayer safe.
It's not just the idea of the governor overriding the will of the electorate for the sake of his corporate overlords that is so offensive, it is that no one seems to care. The Michigan voters don't seem to understand the power grab at play and most of the media has decided to ignore the story for more pressing matters like the Charlie Sheen meltdown.
If Snyder does get this bill through in Michigan, and it is likely he will, then the citizens of Michigan will have, perhaps unwittingly, given up their right to determine who governs at their consent.
Don't let Governor Snyder steal Michigan's rights!
Monday, January 10, 2011 1:54 PM
In the aftermath of Saturday’s gruesome shooting spree in Tucson, people on both sides of the growing American political divide can try to backpedal all they want, but if ever there was a time to point fingers and ask tough questions about the tenor of our national “debate,” that time is now.
Yes, it takes a seriously disturbed individual to open fire on a crowd of innocent people, whether those people are schoolchildren, former co-workers, or merely random targets. You cannot, however, separate Jared Loughner’s actions from the political climate in which they occurred, and to pretend that the attempted (and explicitly planned) assassination attempt on a member of the United States Congress—an attempt that claimed the lives of six others, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge—was purely the act of an isolated madman operating in a moral vacuum is disingenuous, at best.
By now everyone’s heard about Sarah Palin’s disgraceful “target” map. Rational people might view that graphic as nothing more than a folksy way to mobilize campaign resources, but Palin—and the rest of her Tea Party cohort—surely know that there are an awful lot of irrational and disturbed people out there who may not necessarily understand the nuancesof such a subtle motivational tool. Nuances tend to elude the kind of people who might, say, carry guns to political rallies or, say, stomp a woman outside a Senatorial debate in Kentucky.
To say that such deeply angry and irrational people could not possibly be susceptible to deeply irrational rhetorical incitement from pundits and politicians is foolhardy. Gabrielle Giffords knew as much, and said last spring—referring explicitly to Palin’s map—“When people do that, they’ve got to realize that there are consequences to that action.”
There are consequences, and there will continue to be consequences, when, as Extra! magazine noted in its January issue, Fox pundits like Bill O’Reilly joke about “decapitating” newspaper editors and columnists (as he did in 2005, and again last year), or when Glenn Beck “jokes” about poisoning former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Or, for that matter, when Liz Trotta, yet another Fox contributor, “jokes” about assassinating President Obama. Funny stuff, I guess, if you’re a Beltway sophisticate of a certain political persuasion.
Not so funny, however, if you don’t quite get the joke, and really not funny when there are so many people out there who aren’t joking at all.
Source: Extra!, New York Times, Huffington Post, Media Matters
Image on the home page by Freedom To Marry, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, October 29, 2010 5:20 PM
Two Tea Party leaders, Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin, have been jet-setting all over the country ginning up support for conservative politicians. Literally.
They’ve been flying around in a private jet like Wall Street CEOs, except they’re heading to “grassroots” rallies instead of merger talks. Meckler and Martin don’t say how outraged, ordinary citizens can find the money to support such extravagance, and they don’t have to. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in this year's Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, they can now accept unlimited funding without disclosing the identities of their donors.
No one would even know about the jets themselves, but Meckler and Martin never counted on Mother Jones, or a reporter named Stephanie Mencimer. Using public flight-tracking information, the Tea Party Patriots’ flight schedule, and some serious attention to details in the group’s own videos, Mencimer was able to figure out which jet the not-so-populist duo were using. She then traced the plane to Raymond F. Thomson, founder and CEO of a semiconductor company called Semitool, which he sold last year for a cool $364 million.
It’s both sad and hilarious to see the secret financial arrangements of the super-rich masquerading as grassroots activism. But it also shows the lengths to which reporters must go to actually report on political spending in the wake of Citizens United. There is no documentation to follow, just the contrails of private jets.
Social groups target state races
And while secret political spending has been dominated by big corporations this cycle, the legal maneuvering that liberated corporate coffers was actually performed by fringe right-wing groups targeting social issues. As Jesse Zwick emphasizes for The Washington Independent:
Groups advocating against abortion and gay marriage have waged a low-grade war on laws restricting their ability to spend money freely in elections since the early 1980s, and their victory in the recent Citizens United ruling has hardly caused them to rest on their laurels.
Our democracy is now more beholden to corporate greed than ever, but at least gays won’t be allowed to visit each other in the hospital.
This is just the beginning of corporate rights
But the implications of Citizens United extend far beyond the (critically important) realm of campaign finance itself, as Jeff Clements and John Bonifaz of the organization Free Speech for People emphasize in an interview with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales of Democracy Now! As Bonifaz notes:
Citizens United was not just a campaign finance case, it was a corporate rights case. In fact, it was an extreme extension of a corporate rights doctrine that has eroded the First Amendment for thirty years.
At its core, Citizens United grants First Amendment rights to corporations on the grounds that corporations are people, just like ordinary citizens. Sound crazy? It is.
The bill of rights for corporations?
As AlterNet’s Joshua Holland emphasizes in an interview with historian Thom Hartmann, the implications of the view that corporations are people are simply absurd. Now corporations have been granted First Amendment rights, but what happens when they start arguing for Second Amendment rights? And what would it even mean for a corporation to have Second Amendment rights?
A visual map of Campaign Cash
What are the most common themes and issues surrounding the untold amounts of cash flowing into this election cycle? To create that visual, the Media Consortium piped 10 articles by our members through Wordle. While all the articles were generally focused on this topic, they were picked at random and published between October 25-29.
For clarity's sake, we made "Tea Party" "TeaParty," "Supreme Court" became "SupremeCourt," and we also merged the first and last names of key players such as Karl Rove and Jim DeMint. Finally, we removed any extraneous words such as "the," "and," and "even." We did not combine the words corporate/corporation/corporations or Republican/Republicans (but examine the frequency as much as the size). To get the latest reporting on the funds feeding into the mid-term elections, go to www.themediaconsortium.org or follow the search term #campaigncash on Twitter. Wordle research by Amanda Anderson.
But wait, there's more!
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the mid-term elections and campaign financing by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit The Media Consortium for more articles on these issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.
Friday, October 29, 2010 11:36 AM
"I’m not a witch."
Kings and sons of God
Travel on their way from here
Calming restless mobs
Easing all of their, all of their fear
Strange times are here
Strange times are here
-The Black Keys
Strange times are indeed here, especially when we step back and take a look at the midterm election cycle of 2010. Here are a few stories that make us a little queasy about the state of the political process.
If the following are any indication, then apparently there is no room for peaceful assembly or freedom of the press this go-around: MoveOn.org volunteer Lauren Valle had her head stomped on by Rand Paul supporter Tim Profitt at a Paul rally. And Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger was detained by “security agents” working for U.S. Senate Republican nominee Joe Miller for doing that thing those pesky journalists always want to do: ask questions.
Then there’s the Iowa Republican Platform, which pretty much wants to abolish all parts of government except, presumably, themselves. Who knows, maybe they do want to get rid of themselves. In which case there may be more common ground out there than we think.
Speaking of crazy, The New Republic has an article called “Year of the Nutjob” that highlights the candidates vying for the Maddest Hatter at our current national Tea Party.
Hey, did you ever think you’d live to see the day when you’d hear about a candidate for Congress dressing up like a Nazi or a campaign ad that begins “I’m not a witch”? Well, that day’s here and so are you! Thank your lucky stars.
The nice folks over at The Christian Science Monitor have come up with a way for you to waste at least ten minutes of your work day: It’s “The 10 weirdest political ads of 2010”! These range from frightening to just plain old entertaining. And you got sheep, Chuck Norris, and Auto-Tune. Looking at that line-up, maybe this election season wasn’t all bad.
Ok, that’s enough. You can get sucked down a wormhole looking into this tomfoolery. Let us know some of the weirder stories from Election 2010 that we didn’t include here.
Source: New York, Alaska Dispatch, The New Republic, The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor
Thursday, October 28, 2010 5:05 PM
“About 12:01 on the afternoon of January 20, 2009, the white American mind began to unravel.”
So begins Steven Thrasher’s riotous take on the white brain, which, the New York-based freelance writer observes on the cover of the September 29 Village Voice, has finally gone “haywire in spectacular fashion.”
And why? Well, for one thing, the President of the United States is black, which isn’t sitting particularly well with prejudiced citizens who, Thrasher argues, are seeking cover in the Tea Party movement. What’s more, “for the first time in their lives, baby boomers are hard up against it economically, and white boy is becoming outnumbered and it’s got his bowels chilled with fear.”
Thrasher’s aggressive, albeit satiric tone will turn off most moderate readers and has enraged a legion of conservative and libertarian commentators. And, the Voice being the Voice, not one column inch is reserved for nuance. As a piece of political essay writing, however, “White America has Lost Its Mind” is as refreshing as it is well-argued. In large part because Thrasher has the audacity—and the forum—to take off the gloves and fight foment with foment.
Can you help a brother on health care? No.
The economy? No.
Financial regulatory reform? No.
Now, some folks can be forgiven for thinking, as they watched the political drama in Washington unfold over the past two years, that this was just another form of the same old thing they’d put up with in one way or another in this conflicted multiracial country.
But there is another explanation.
White people have simply gone sheer fucking insane.
To bolster his thesis, the author points to recent polls conducted by Newsweek and CNN, which show that nearly a quarter of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim and that he was “probably or definitely” born in another country. And Harris found in an online poll that 14 percent of Americans believe the President is the antichrist, with nearly a quarter of Republicans saying so. Thrashers then goes on to give examples of how these statistics, which he believes are racially charged, manifest themselves in mainstream media and politics—from the sham attacks on ACORN to the demonization of Muslims and immigrants.
The funniest and most insightful stuff—especially considering that the midterm elections take place in just a few days—comes near the end of Thrasher’s tirade, where he wonders aloud who, except for the craziest of Caucasians, could excuse the ignorant rantings of New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino or Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell.
As for the Tea Party, which is threatening to have a big night Tuesday?
Suddenly, other angry (and obviously confused) white people began organizing their own “tea parties” and, from the start, had to defend themselves from charges that there was more than a little racial component to their movement.
Few were really surprised, for example, when Tea Party Express President Mark Williams turned out to have penned a letter that could have been written in the worst decades of Jim Crow: “We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just too much to ask of us Colored People and demand that it stop!”
The Village Voice
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 2:15 PM
There’s nothing like another round of elections in the U.S. to rekindle one’s nostalgia for the rough wisdom of Henry Louis Mencken.
Last night, after reading The New Republic’s “Year of the Nutjob,” which would be funny if it weren’t so appalling, I pulled a copy of Mencken’s Prejudices from the shelf and opened it to a random page. I long ago learned that this exercise—and it really doesn’t matter which Mencken collection you choose—virtually never fails to provide both uncannily up-to-date perspective and a queasy reminder of how little has changed in American politics in the last ninety or so years.
There are, of course, a lot of Mad Hatters at our current national Tea Party, but The New Republic spotlights nine especially brain-boggling candidates (including Minnesota’s own procreative gubernatorial candidate, Tom Emmer) for the Maddest Hatter crown.
As you peruse that scary bit of business, I’d encourage you to keep in mind these random observations on “the normal Americano” from Mencken’s 1922 essay “On Being An American”:
The mob-man cannot grasp ideas in their native nakedness. They must be dramatized and personalized for him, and provided with either white wings or forked tails.
He is a violent nationalist and a patriot, but he admires rogues in office and always beats the tax collector if he can.
He is intensely and cocksurely moral, but his morality and his self-interest are virtually identical.
He is violently jealous of what he conceives to be his rights, but brutally disregardful of the other fellow’s.
All of which can be boiled down to this: that the United States is essentially a commonwealth of third-rate men.
Extra credit: Here’s a typically strange, rambling portrait of Tom Emmer from The Awl.
Source: The New Republic
Image by brownpau, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 1:44 PM
As a starfish blindly ambles across the sea floor, its five arms grope independently of each other. Instead of being controlled by a central brain, each limb has its own compartmentalized nervous system that can communicate with the others. Capturing food, escaping from predators, and locating a mate are processes that rely on a fine balance of collaboration and independence. On account of its decentralized biology, argues National Journal’s Jonathan Rauch, a starfish is a fitting analogy for the Tea Party.
What Rauch is alluding to is a political tack called radical decentralization. He contends:
In American politics, radical decentralization has never been tried on so large a scale. Tea party activists believe that their hivelike, ‘organized but not organized’ (as one calls it) structure is their signal innovation and secret weapon, the key to outlasting and outmaneuvering traditional political organizations and interest groups. They intend to rewrite the rule book for political organizing, turning decades of established practice upside down. If they succeed, or even half succeed, the tea party's most important legacy may be organizational, not political.
One of the Tea Party’s greatest strengths is that it lacks a central figure who calls the shots for the entire movement. “The network is impervious to decapitation,” Rauch writes.
No foolish or self-serving boss can wreck it, because it has no boss. Fragmentation, the bane of traditional organizations, actually makes the network stronger. It is like a starfish: Cut off an arm, and it grows (in some species) into a new starfish. Result: two starfish, where before there was just one.
In the following video, Rauch elaborates on the starfish analogy—including how the Tea Party’s decentralized tactics may clash with the Republican Party’s traditional command structure.
Source: National Journal
Image by Ed Bierman, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010 11:24 AM
The 1950s might look like the golden years to some Tea Partiers. It was back before the Kennedys, the Clintons, and Obama ruined this great country, always looking to tax the rich, ignoring the guiding principles of capitalism. That view of the world ignores the actual history, argues author Toby Barlow in the Huffington Post.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, president from 1953 until 1961, passed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, a massive public works project that today would be the equivalent of $197 billion, reports Barlow. Obama’s $50 billion infrastructure proposal clocks in at a fraction of the price. And the Federal Aid Highway Act wasn’t paid for by some grand Republican—or Tea Party—plan that all at once lowered taxes and the deficit; it was paid for by a lot of new taxes. The richest among the U.S. population during the tenure of that celebrated Army general were taxed a staggering 91 percent, compared to today’s 35 percent, and Barlow writes,
They still golfed, drove around in shiny automobiles, and ate caviar in fancy dining cars, but they paid a lot more back to society. Instead of fleeing en masse to Cuba they stayed in Connecticut and sent their kids to boarding schools and private colleges. America rewarded them by becoming a stronger nation, allowing the wealthy in turn to become even wealthier. America rocked.
We have been trained to believe that taxation is the worst ill that can strike a society, and yet for decades our nation prospered while asking those who profited from our strength to give significantly more. Ike understood this and protected our nation's prosperity.
Barlow suggests that we all start wearing “I like Ike” buttons again to show that there is a way to work together, a way beyond the hysterical rhetoric that now injects itself into most of our political debates. And, Barlow suggests, we should start asking Tea Party candidates what they think about Ike.
(Side note: Barlow writes regularly for the Huffington Post and other places, but if you’re in the mood for a highly entertaining read, pick up his book Sharp Teeth. Set in L.A., the book is about gangs of werewolves and is written completely in verse. I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s great.)
Source: Huffington Post
Image by John Munsch, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 5:03 PM
I spent tax day with anti-tax protesters at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. It was my first attempt at covering an event like that, so I arranged to meet up with my friend Lanny Linehan, a more experienced documentary photographer (see Linehan’s work at his Flickr page).
On my way to meet Lanny, I wandered through the vending area. I was drawn to a table with a sign that read “Sign up here to win a framed American flag signed by Michele Bachmann.” I asked if I could take a photo of the sign. One of the two guys at the table asked me which “side” I was on. I said I was on my side. He challenged me again, suspicious of my stance. I said something about nothing being black and white and he showed me the gun tucked into his pants. “Why don’t you take a picture of this?” he asked. “Sure, I’d love to,” I said, “why don’t you sit by the sign.” That wasn’t the answer he expected. “You better do it, you offered,” said his friend, laughing. So he posed for me—my first photo of the day.
Next I found a vendor selling “organic freeze-dried food” meal packs that last three years—you know, just in case. Their “sample girls” were more than happy to pose for a photo. There were free samples, but no thanks. When I found Lanny, he recommended I try to “blend in.” He had attended the same anti-tax rally last year and said it was a very hostile environment.
The speeches from the podium were predictable: Palin-esque dogma about the intentions of the founding fathers, the harm done by taxes, and government robbing us of our freedoms. At one point, two performers tried to stir some energy in the crowd, shouting: “Nancy Pelosi, we’re coming for you… (cheers)… to put you in jail!” Images of Ronald Reagan and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags were the dominant visual motifs.
From time to time, a speaker would poll the audience by asking direct questions like “Clap your hands if you voted Republican last election,” which was clearly the correct answer. Mention of a liberal or Democrat guaranteed boos. Mentions of Ron Paul were met with a smattering of applause. At these moments I acted busy and kept moving. On several occasions, speakers said things like “I’m pretty sure there are some liberals here!”
Surprisingly, the energy peaked when a speaker spoke out against racism. The speaker’s insistence that there was no room for intolerance in the Tea Party brought hearty (and, I believe, sincere) cheers from people in the crowd.
But mostly, the crowd just stood around enjoying the lovely spring weather—sometimes listening to the speakers, sometimes talking amongst themselves, and on more than a few occasions, glaring at photographers.
I can’t count the number of people who I caught photographing and taking video footage of me. Lanny said the same happened to him. What do they do with that footage? Mutual suspicion, I suppose. Only a few people allowed me to take their photo when I asked. Most people clearly did not want to be photographed and some even turned their signs away from my lens.
This is a group that feels it’s been unfairly portrayed in the media, and I can’t say they are wrong. They attract “fringy” people and that’s who gets photographed. Photographers are drawn to people like this because they’re interesting. My photos are no different. Of course, this is true of all protesters, no matter their political persuasion.
Related: Slideshow: Tax Day Tea Party Rally in St. Paul
All photos by Stephanie Glaros
Friday, April 16, 2010 4:22 PM
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