Comments: Good News

Did you see the non-stop coverage of this on CNN? MSNBC? Faux? Is it on the front page of the NY Times? Anti-government protests are truly wonderful when they happen somewhere else, but if they happen here they are ignored unless they're paid for by the Koch brothers.

Posted by Charles D at February 16, 2011 10:08 PM

Will there be tanks? Nothing sez NO like a tank.

Posted by Mike Meyer at February 17, 2011 12:06 AM

It is good to see [some] Americans "finally fighting back." But these folks ain't nothing like the people in Egypt. They are public (state of Wisconsin) employees. Their jobs are dependent upon citizens of that state being taxed. Damn near every state in this union is in the crapper: high unemployment, and no jobs being created to replace the lost ones. Those people, from what is written on their signs, are not about changing the system (Wisconsin's and the US's), but about keeping their tax-payer-funded jobs. You can't get blood from a stone: with a shrinking tax-base from whom the state of Wisconsin can suck dry, how do those protesting employees expect a poorer, and ever growing destitute, Wisconsin citizenry to support their middle-class lifestyle?

Posted by Rhonda at February 17, 2011 12:58 AM

Yes, all states are hurting but that does not mean that you throw away your rights that were hard won to begin with. People used to work seven days a week, fourteen hours a day in horrific conditions and if you got hurt that was your problem and all for low wages. If things are different today it is because of unions. Part of the effect of shipping jobs overseas is the destruction of unions so don’t be too quick to do away with worker rights because it seems convenient at the time.

Posted by rob payne at February 17, 2011 08:35 AM

Yes austerity for state workers. But ask the Investment Banks to pay for their malfeasance in peddling and dumping toxic triple A rated securities into state and municipal pension funds, Heaven forfend! Labor must suffer, not financiers! Workers must pay for being productive while those who live off compound interests on debt(Rent)are sacrosanct. They create jobs(in China, Vietnam and India, bastions of Child Labor and free from the menace of evil Unions).

@J-Schwarz-Z
Post Pamela Geller's interview of Donald Rumsfeld.
"It's a trainwreck picking up survivors from a plane crash."
"Saddest Quo"--Pernice Brothers

Posted by Alcibiades Slim at February 17, 2011 09:52 AM

Will there be tanks? Nothing sez NO like a tank.

comment of the year right there. has to be.

thanks for the boog blow !!

Posted by boog blower guy at February 17, 2011 12:32 PM

@ Charles D; Why watch that corporate crap and then complain about it? Amy Goodman has been covering it.

Posted by par4 at February 17, 2011 12:35 PM

rob payne said: Yes, all states are hurting but that does not mean that you throw away your rights that were hard won to begin with. People used to work seven days a week, fourteen hours a day in horrific conditions and if you got hurt that was your problem and all for low wages. If things are different today it is because of unions. Part of the effect of shipping jobs overseas is the destruction of unions so don’t be too quick to do away with worker rights because it seems convenient at the time.

The harsh conditions that you've described are not the "history" of the jobs of public employees: cops, teachers, DMV workers, politicians (elected and non), firefighters, park rangers, National Guard soldiers (irony? -- given that the governer wants to call them out to put down the protest of their fellow public employees), highway workers, etc. All those jobs depend upon taxes and fees and fines being [forcibly] levied on the citizenry.

Posted by Rhonda at February 17, 2011 03:21 PM

Rhonda,

That isn't the point really, if you attack the rights of one group of workers you are attacking the rights of all workers. Granted some of the salaries may be ridiculous as well as retirement benefits but that could be fixed without destroying worker's rights.

Posted by rob payne at February 17, 2011 06:14 PM

All those jobs depend upon taxes and fees and fines being [forcibly] levied on the citizenry.

Yes, indeed. Government is coercion. You don't have government without it. And not only do they limit your freedom, they make you pay for it too.

But, Rhonda, do you think the regular people - the small people, like you and me and NOoC - are NOT paying for the very large slice of the pie that the banksters, and the Military Industrial Congressional Financial Corporate Media complex in general, take for themselves? I disagree.


This post intended for educational, scientific, cultural, therapeutic and entertainment purposes only, and is not to be construed as financial advice.

Posted by mistah 'MICFiC' charley, ph.d. at February 17, 2011 06:36 PM

The workers SIGNED A CONTRACT with Wisconsin. One thing I CAN'T stand is a welcher, much like Walker and his administration.

Posted by Mike Meyer at February 17, 2011 07:15 PM

The choice was between things being fairly ok here in the states and endless war. They chose endless war a long time ago. Now there is only money for war. Everything else will take a distant back seat.

Posted by rob payne at February 17, 2011 09:48 PM

actually, Rob, we have spent quite a lot on wars and occupations, but it is less than half of what the US government has spent to rescue the banks and Wall Street since 2007.

It is astounding really.

Posted by Susan at February 18, 2011 12:36 AM

Susan,

Yes, Obama has overseen the largest transfer of wealth in all of history. And you are right it is astounding. It's even more astounding that he hasn't been impeached and thrown in prison where he belongs with the rest of the theives and murderers.

Posted by rob payne at February 18, 2011 07:08 AM

rob payne: Well WE didn't impeach the white guys, Deadeye&Pet Goat. To impeach the black guy who is following the VERY same trail seems more than a tad RACIST to me. And besides, after ALL those pleas to call for impeachment for YEARS that, not only I made but few others did too, and AMERICA just looked the other way, ignored the WAR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, and to this VERY day let the criminals wander around, not only TOTALLY FREE but made them even richer than their wildest(or my) dreams while the rest of us starve. Nope, NO call for impeachment from me.
The Egyptians did it in 18 dayz, maybe in a hundred years WE could pull it off. Either way I'll NOT lift MY hand to so NOBLE a cause.
Its The Highway To Hell, rob. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. WE STILL gots a long way down to go.
This is where the rubber hits the road and the shit hits the fan.

Posted by Mike Meyer at February 18, 2011 11:29 AM

rob payne: Well WE didn't impeach the white guys, Deadeye&Pet Goat. To impeach the black guy who is following the VERY same trail seems more than a tad RACIST to me. And besides, after ALL those pleas to call for impeachment for YEARS that, not only I made but few others did too, and AMERICA just looked the other way, ignored the WAR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, and to this VERY day let the criminals wander around, not only TOTALLY FREE but made them even richer than their wildest(or my) dreams while the rest of us starve. Nope, NO call for impeachment from me.
The Egyptians did it in 18 dayz, maybe in a hundred years WE could pull it off. Either way I'll NOT lift MY hand to so NOBLE a cause.
Its The Highway To Hell, rob. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. WE STILL gots a long way down to go.
This is where the rubber hits the road and the shit hits the fan.

Posted by Mike Meyer at February 18, 2011 11:29 AM

Susan,

I think you might be interested in this, Paul Craig Roberts ties it altogether here:

http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts02182011.html

Posted by rob payne at February 18, 2011 11:51 AM

Rhonda is very helpful here; she reminds us why we rarely revolt. Simply put: we couldn't give two damp shits about each other -- we collectively, as U.S. citizens, not Rhonda specifically.

When I was very young, I used to wonder how come the mafia was so effective. After all, shouldn't they try to extort the wrong persons or persons and, eventually, people just start shooting them right back? Growing up I'd read stories, and actually knew a few people who, when pushed around, pushed right back. Sure, most of them ended up dead or imprisoned (then, after some more pushing, dead), but that made perfect sense to me. Growing up a little bit more I soon learned that the reason I and those people tended to think that way was because we were fucking insane, even when we were effective. Normal people not only sit there and take it, they blame you for not sitting there and taking it. Thus, if you complain about Obama doings something terrible to you -- or, in this case, Walker -- others (including some assholes in obscure corners of the web such as this) will vociferously claim that the problem is you for, fuck if I know -- maybe for having a somatosensory system and registering pain.

So if the state rips you off and your neighbors off, and the fed rips you off and your neighbors off, and the state then rips you off in a personal way, now it's your job to simply take it.

Racism seems to work in a similar way. If you hate yourself, head over to Alternet and look for the articles describing a racial disparity. Try to find a bland, no-real-debate one where a group of really, really rich people used racial slurs and broke the law in order to cheat non-whites. Now check the comments. Each time, every time, there will be a group of people who claim that the article is racist for ignoring the plight of white people. No one but "us" gets a right to special suffering.

I cannot believe, I cannot stand, I can barely tolerate how absolutely cliche the Niemöller quote is. I've heard it since I could speak English, I've read it everywhere. I was sick of it before I could multiply fractions (though I understood the point). And every time I get jaded, I get reminded why we need to say it over, and over, and over, and over.

I will repeat it. And I will like it.

Posted by No One of Consequence at February 18, 2011 02:26 PM

No One of Consequence,

The defense of Obama always follows a familiar format. First, you get the crocodile tears, then come the insults, perhaps a few threats (nice liberals), and then they use what they see as the ultimate, the race card.

Posted by rob payne at February 18, 2011 02:49 PM

Yeah, that's an excellent summation, but, in your view, what's the final move when the person the defender is talking to is darker than Obama?

Posted by No One of Consequence at February 18, 2011 03:19 PM

Well, WE IMPEACHED Clinton 'cause he was the first black president. What happened with Deadeyedickhead&hisCodpiece? When THOSE2TRAITORS are serving time ONLY then will there be enough EVIDENCE to get Obama impeached. (unless WE use the "race card" then impeachment will pass Congress like a dose of epsom salts)(racist is as racist duz)

Posted by Mike Meyer at February 18, 2011 04:38 PM

A common refrain to the dilemma NOoC highlights is people only unite for common cause when they have a "common other" to unite against. I'm especially fond of the sci-fi suggestion that only an alien contact/invasion can bring solidarity among the people at large. That suggests a truly bamboozled and balkanized populace, as in actuality the aliens are often right outside their doors. In my country we call it the Democratic/Republican establishment.

Watching this RSA Animate from Jeremy Rifkin cheers me up whenever I get to thinking we primates are hopelessly blinkered.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7AWnfFRc7g&feature=player_embedded

He suggests that we're actually soft-wired for empathy in our fellow man, that our primary instincts are not self interested division, but in seeing ourselves in ourselves. It's only when the later capacity is suppressed/exploited that the destructive byproducts of the former become manifest. (more or less)

While the science compels me I can't help but wonder if this empathic capacity doesn't simply reflect the plasticity of our minds at large. It would seem to me that empathy can be learned and unlearned in equal measure. And tribalism has been the dominant trigger throughout history. When I get to thinking like that, well...maybe ET should start fucking shit up right quick.

Posted by BenP at February 18, 2011 04:53 PM

Mea culpa for posting after myself, but this was too cute.

Alright, so how many people remember what the very first act of Homeland Security was? Remember back when DeLay wasn't yet being fitted for prison orange? Texas Democrats ditched Congress in order to deny quorum to Repubs looking to gerrymander the state (even more). To the best of my knowledge, all of the Dems let everyone know where they were staying -- a motel. In response the Repubs called Homeland Security and had them look for the Democrats -- again, whose location everyone involved was aware of.

Well, this isn't a complete historical parallel, but we do have a wonderful, almost tediously consistent pattern of how authoritarianists respond to defiance.

The Wisconsin State Patrol was dispatched Friday to find a Democratic state senator who fled the Capitol to delay the near-certain passage of a bill to end a half-century of collective bargaining rights for public workers, a measure that's attracted thousands of protesters for four days.

[. . .]

Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, told reporters he has asked the governor to send two state troopers to Senate Democratic Minority Leader Mark Miller's suburban Madison home.

[. . .]

The Wisconsin Constitution prohibits police from arresting state lawmakers while the Legislature is in session, except in cases of felonies, breaches of the peace or treason. Fitzgerald said he's not looking to have Miller arrested, but he wants to send a signal about how serious things are becoming in the Capitol.

But wait -- can I get a little bit of right-wing projection of blame?

"I'm starting to hold Sen. Miller responsible for this," Fitzgerald said. "He shut down democracy."

Yay, now we're talking. And, yes, the Repugs were never set upon by law enforcement when they were being obstructionist, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Posted by No One of Consequence at February 18, 2011 04:58 PM

BenP: Alas, Ozymandias will not save us. And Rorschach should have totally killed his ass.

Worse, authority figures can be relentlessly sociopathic when they try and may well identify with the "alien invaders" and impede attempts at unification in order to get a bigger piece of the pie.

So even fiction is depressing on this score. History kills the idea dead, though I thank Moore for raging against the notion. How many times have native peoples hooked up with invading empires in order to stick it to some neighboring tribe, to the ultimate regret of both?

I think there's still hope; this is a fixable problem. But, as Rhonda showed us, and as anti-union sentiment and racism makes clear, merely having a common enemy will not cause unification. Our species will, in fact, cut off its nose to spite its own face, then kill its own children just to prove that it means business. That's why although I often agree with some of Ted Rall's sentiments, this reviewer of the former's latest book is hilariously understating the case when he points out that joining up with racists against our corrupt government is probably a bad tactic. In fact, I'd fully expect racists to join up with the government and usher in a harder form of fascism just to stick it to non-whites even if the government's next step was to start torturing skinheads.

Outside enemies do not necessarily promote notions of common personhood. Something else can, and that's awesome, but a common enemy isn't necessarily it. So Rifkin's talk is still good stuff.

Posted by No One of Consequence at February 18, 2011 05:20 PM

NooC at 4:58 seems right on the money and important, but with respect to his other post it seems to me that not everyone believes in sitting there and taking it--the right has been effectively mobilized, so effectively that they are dangerous to themselves and others. Anger really gets people going.

The left needs to get back to basics. Marx didn't have his remarkable legacy because he said any of the amazingly brilliant things that interest eggheads like me--he had a legacy because his basic pitch--workers unite!--had great emotional appeal to most people, surely because most people were workers.

People in the US obviously do know they're getting screwed, and though dark-skinned people are getting the worst of it, they certainly aren't alone. Unfortunately, channeling anger into racism seems a lot easier than uniting people with anger or other strong emotion across racial and ethnic lines, but no matter how hard it is to do, it's obvious that ideas and theories alone aren't going to keep things from getting worse. Movements are built on emotion.

How to get most people as energized as the Right is a question I can't even begin to answer.

Posted by N E at February 18, 2011 10:35 PM

NE: STARVE THEM and they will rise up. YOU'll see.

Posted by Mike Meyer at February 18, 2011 11:50 PM

Darker than Obama? Why I would say that when confronted with sanctimonious dim-witted hypocrites I would do what I always do.

Posted by rob payne at February 19, 2011 12:28 AM

Ah, but what do they do? That's the interesting bit. In my experience -- and this is what's so disturbing -- once the usual bullshit fails and a white person backing Obama can't play the race card, there's a disturbing tendency -- I've seen from personal experience -- for the defender to adopt a patronizing stance, straight from what's usually thought of as the right-wing playbook. It's a bolder move than what I experienced from this political faction (pseudo-liberals) than before, to put it generally.

Posted by No One of Consequence at February 19, 2011 04:47 AM

Mike Meyer

"Starve them and they will rise up."

No, that's not enough, but people can rise up without starving first. I just can't see anything other than twitter and media campaigns to set in motion authentic groundswells that will lead to something positive.

Posted by N E at February 19, 2011 11:20 AM

NE: I don't know if YOU have read ANY history, but I read SOMEWHERE that in the past, people, who have been oppressed and starved, have risen up AGAINST THEIR OPPRESSORS, and they didn't have TV or twitter or facebook or ANY kinda if internet. I've read there was no electricity even. Unbelieveable, I know, but it was in this old book I read somewhere.

Posted by Mike Meyer at February 19, 2011 02:41 PM

The idea that communication methods are the primary factors in revolution is somewhere between idiotic and absurd. History is littered with revolutions (and just run-of-the-mill revolts) that lacked any sophisticated communication methods. The primary requirement is a sense of sameness, a shared tribe, among those rebelling. Sweet Jesus, Mike Meyers and I are agreeing again. Our country is well and truly fucked.

But, in any event, common pain and common enemies are not enough. If our government was somewhat less wretched but our race and class divisions were nearly eliminated, I think we would have revolted already. We don't trust (or like) each other -- and, worst part is, many of us have plenty of good fucking reasons why not to. People that should be joining together that are not opposed to each other on race or class or religious grounds have no reason to associate. I can't help but think that our declining social interactions over the last few decades are hurting us here, too.

Not that you need to go that far. If you're brown, you already know that this could be you and if you're not, you have been given the luxury or hologram of believing otherwise through a couple of centuries worth of propaganda.

Posted by No One of Consequence at February 19, 2011 06:10 PM

NOoC&All: I would NEVER TRUST ANY AMERICAN, unless the situation forced me to, and if YOU gots ANY sense, YOU won't either. WORD!

That said, WE are going to have to hang togther in this country, or, as Franklin said, hang separately. The FIRST place WE need to hang together on IS our banks. WE got a hell of a nest of cockroaches in Goldman-Sach, JP Morgan, Citigroup, BoA et.al.

Second: WE've got two wars bringing democracy??? somewhere, which OUR criminal leaders use as an excuse to money launder their ill gotten gains and DRUG MONEY. This month FACEBOOK has proven to be MUCH, MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE in democratization and much faster than WE are with OUR WAR CRIMES and PUPPET SHOWS.

Third: WE must address OUR FREE-LUNCH-FOR-THE-RICH TAXATION system. If they want to live here, raise their families here, BE AMERICAN CITIZEN then they GOT TO PAY FOR IT just like the working class and the poor.


Fourth: WE better start looking at OUR candidates for office just a little closer, a hard look at background checks. This laying down with the fleas has turned US into dogs.

Posted by Mike Meyer at February 19, 2011 08:20 PM

The real problem? The good jobs that provided the tax base aren't coming back. The rich won't pay taxes on foreign income. The government won't ask them to.

Posted by troutsky at February 20, 2011 10:55 AM

Mike Meyer

Yes, in the past people have risen up, though maybe not quite like we were taught. Savage repression has often been pretty effective for very long periods of time. More than suffering and desperation is necessary for real change to happen.


NooC

I completely agree that a sense of sameness unites people and that differences divide people and that our declining social interactions and sense of community hinder us, but I think your emphasis on race is overstated. Greenwald in that article you link referred not to race, but to status and class ("we now have a multi-tiered justice system in the United States where citizens have their legal rights, obligations and punishments determined exclusively by their status and class").

While I agree that racism is alive and kicking in many hearts and minds, racism isn't the only form of evil. Getting on the wrong side of the war on terror is now the quickest route to hell, especially for Muslims, and they can be as brown as Padilla or as white as John Walker Lindh. And even the war against Muslim terrorism is subservient to other interests. We were perfectly happy to use arab and other Muslim extremists in Afghanistan in the 80s and Bosnia in the 90s; they became the number one enemies of the state only when a new dominant group of enemies of the state was needed and they were the best applicants for the position. Note that when the time is right to demonize white rednecks from the heartland for a while, that has happened, both in the 90s and more recently. There seems to me to be a politically manipulative balancing act going on to sustain bipartisan support for this war against "terrorism".

Basically, I think militarized capitalism is flexible enough that it will demonize across racial lines. Sure, most of the remaining resource-rich areas of the world available for conquest/exploitation are populated by black or brown people, but I don't think that the race of the occupants of those places is really what's driving the policy now. What's driving the policy is keeping the Empire running, not on behalf of the American people, but on behalf of the Empire itself, which has to satisfy powerful corporate interests everywhere, predominantly in the US, Europe and Japan. This Empire is in truth a multinational empire, as represented by the expansion of NATO far beyond its original purpose, and keeping the Empire going demands constant attention to political and economic constraints that were really problematic before the kickoff of this (second) war on terror with 9/11. The German and Japanese contribution still lags considerably behind that of the US, for reasons of historic and political necessity, and even now the European public doesn't seem to like NATO in Afghanistan all that much. So Americans have to pay through the nose to keep the Empire running, which is fantastically costly. Fortunately for those who run the Empire, Americans think of themselves as good no matter what they do and enjoy being powerful so much they have an almost infinite capacity to be suckers.

Still, at some point this whole neoliberal balancing act is going to come apart, because it's unstable, and the world is going to be thrown back into regional conflicts between very powerful opposing forces--whether China versus Japan or China and Russia versus India and NATO or whatever. When that happens, there's a real danger of Armaggedon. We rubes aren't supposed to think about that, but the people who think they're protecting us (whether Obama or Hillary or Cheney) get to use that unimaginable danger as a convenient excuse to themselves for doing whatever they need to do keep the Empire running. You see, in their minds, they are probably always doing what they can in service of what's necessary and therefore right.

All that being said, there still is lots of racism lingering in the culture, but people can do evil without being racist and even while thinking they are doing what is necessary or right. That's commonplace. Lots of Nazis probably had high self esteem. Anyway, that's generally what I think is going on.

Posted by N E at February 20, 2011 11:10 AM

JS

of those Walker/Mubarak photos: is that pinky gesture a signifier of...daintiness--or, is it indicative of some form of personal hygiene utility, i.e., is it headed straight to the right nostrillo? Please advise--

Posted by Dean Taylor at February 21, 2011 12:22 AM

Mubarak looks kinda dainty, but Scot Walker looks like he's fixin' to "dig for gold".

Posted by Mike Meyer at February 21, 2011 12:38 PM

"Madison Guy", who writes the thoughtful and often beautiful Letter From Here blog, at http://letterfromhere.blogspot.com/
recommends this Help Defend Wisconsin site href="http://helpdefendwisconsin.org/
to those who wish to contribute to defray the immediate costs of maintaining the demonstration.

Posted by joel hanes at February 21, 2011 07:05 PM