The Granny Peace Brigade Stands Their Ground

By Jill Dalton, NYC

October 20, 2011 

On Tuesday I found this information on the Occupy Wall Street website and I was intrigued.Trust me these dames have been around the block more than once and good for them. 

“Six years ago, 18 women attempted to enlist in the U.S. Military at the Recruitment Center inTimes Square. Not only were we not welcomed, we were arrested…and the Granny Peace Brigade was born. Since then, we Grannies have stood our ground in the struggle for peace and social and economic justice — and for our precious First Amendment right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. We will be observing our anniversary on Tuesday, October 18th, at 7:00PM by the fountain at Lincoln Center (Broadway & West 66th Street). In a silent vigil timed to coincide with show time, we grannies will once again stand our ground… against invasions, wars, occupations against U.S. military bases abroad against militarization of youth against the human cost of war—domestic and international against the economic cost of war. We will stand our ground for freedom of speech, for the right to peaceably assemble as our First Amendment guarantees. We invite you to join with us in this silent mini-occupation as we reflect on the issues that have galvanized us for the past six years. We stand our ground.” 

And they did.  Last night my new friend, Paulette, and I decided to meet at Lincoln Center by the fountain to stand in solidarity with the grannies.  At 7 p.m. the grannies formed a line in front of the fountain in the plaza and held up their banners and signs. One large banner read:  Granny Peace Brigade, Troops Home Now.  The other: We stand our ground.  The signs read:  We stand for the right to peaceably assemble, Against the human cost of war, Against invasions, wars, occupations, We stand for freedom of speech, Against U.S. Military bases abroad, Money for healthcare not war, and so on. After taking a few pictures I joined the line with Paulette and the grannies.

 

The plaza was swarming with NYPD and press.  The cameras flashed as we stood in silence. Then around 7:20 the head of security for Lincoln Center came out and made the announcement we were standing on semi private property (whatever that means) and we must leave or the police would be called and since the police were already there that wouldn’t be too difficult. I looked at my friend Paulette and we shrugged our shoulders and stayed put.  No one else moved either.  

Then out of nowhere appeared, Norman Siegel, a civil rights lawyer who served as director of theNew York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), New York’s leading civil rights organization under the umbrella of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) from1985-2000.  He informed us we could be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct but we each had to decide what was right for us.  We could stay or leave; it was up to us if we wanted to be arrested.  Paulette chimed in, “Who wants to be arrested?”  I asked, “Do they have to read us our rights?” He informed me, “No.”  And I replied, “Well, if you look at the names on these buildings they say Koch Brothers.” I turned to my friend, “Well, Paulette do you have any plans for tomorrow?”  “Yes, I have two doctors appointments.”  We both took a deep breath and decided we would stay with the grannies and stand our ground.  The cameras flashed some more and reporters began interviewing some of the grannies. 

 

One woman interviewed told the reporter she came because she lived across the street and they had put up a sign in her building promising to protect them from the angry Occupy Wall Street mobs that might descend on them.  So she decided to come see for herself and once here she took a sign and got in line with the rest of us but I noticed she disappeared when the ‘arrested’ word was mentioned; probably back to her luxury apartment across the street. So there we stood.  Mostly silent.  At one point a young man passed in front of me and mouthed the words “Thank you” and I smiled.  

Now I’ve never been arrested.  I managed to out run or out smart the cops in the 60’s and so far so good with the NYPD.  I just kept surrounding myself and the silent demonstrators with love and light, peace and justice and believe me it sure helped to have Norman Siegel there guiding us every step of the way.  He gave me courage and strength. 

Emily, the young woman standing to my right told me, “I have to work tomorrow and it’s my first day and you know in this economy I’m so grateful to have a job and it pays well…” and I said, “Well, I guess you’ll just have to call in the morning and say you can’t come in but could they bail you out?”  I’m sure that would go over really well. 

But 8:00 came and went and no arrests were made.  No one even attempted to make an arrest.  I think the police were waiting for us to be joined by the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators so they could go in swinging, make arrests and pepper spray at will.  The NYPD already looks so bad at this point would they really have the nerve to arrest a bunch of grannies standing in silence for peace?  One of them was using a walker.  Come on now. 

However, in Soho, Naomi Wolf was not so lucky. The Huffington Post reported, “Wolf and a companion were handcuffed outside Skylight Studios in Manhattan where Gov. Andrew Cuomo was to accept the “Game Changer of the Year Award” from the Huffington Post. 

Now look I keep hearing my progressive friends complaining about President Obama.  When is he going to do something, why is he doing this or that?  Well, get over it.  He’s not going to do anything that does not serve his own self-interest or those of his corporate cronies. Time to realize it ain’t about the president.  It’s about us, so better get your boots on the ground and join the movement.  Guess what, we are the change we want to see in the world.  It’s us. And getting out and standing up with other brave, likeminded souls for a cause you passionately believe in is a great antidote to shame, depression, guilt and almost anything else that ails you.  Occupy Wall Street, Lincoln Square, your bank or your apartment if you still have one.  Coming to a town near you.  

Jill Dalton  is a recovering army brat/writer/performer who has appeared in film and television as well as performing her solo plays in New York and around the country.  Most recently she can be seen in and consulted for William Hurt on the HBO film,  “Too Big To Fail.”   Her articles have been published on: Dandelion Salad, RSN, OpEdNews & Progressive Activists Voice.  She can be contacted @ jdalton3@gmail.com.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Martin Luther King Jr.

Plutocrap by Karen Garcia

Sardonicky

By Karen Garcia, Sunday, October 16, 2011

(Reprinted with permission)

Musings on politics and popular culture 

Plutocrap

OWS is not going away. (Aren’t you glad we can abbreviate it now, and everybody understands what it means?  No more Occupy Wall Street, #OccupyWallStreet, We Are the 99% — just OWS.  We have arrived!)

Now that the mainstream media can no longer ignore this worldwide uprising, the powers that be are running themselves ragged trying to find ways to diminish and demonize it.  One of the chief spokesmen of the We Shall Overreact counterinsurgency is New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Himself a member of the elite Forbes Billionaires Club, Bloomberg’s main concern has been sanitation.  Alas, there are no toilet facilities in Zuccotti Park. And nearby eateries are complaining the hippie campers are using their bathroom sinks to take showers — and worse!  No Port-a-potties allowed in the park, either. So you can imagine how offended the sensibilities of Bloomberg must be, with the wastrels and their waste.

Bloomberg and friends have balked at providing toilet facilities or dumpsters at the site.  The protesters undertook a mass cleaning on their own late last week in hopes of staving off a threatened eviction.

The New York Times broke the story about the bathroom crashers of OWS when the encampment was entering its third week.  The paper of record still can’t seem to make up its mind whether to jump on the revolutionary bandwagon and celebrate the movement, or continue siding with the oligarchs over how stressed the whole thing is making them feel.  Everybody is talking about the article  yesterday that had a slew of anonymous Wall Streeters griping:  

“Who do you think pays the taxes?” said one longtime money manager. “Financial services are one of the last things we do in this country and do it well. Let’s embrace it. If you want to keep having jobs outsourced, keep attacking financial services. This is just disgruntled people.” He added that he was disappointed that members of Congress from New York, especially Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, had not come out swinging for an industry that donates heavily to their campaigns. “They need to understand who their constituency is,” he said. 

According to Bloomberg News (yeah, that ubiquitous Bloomberg again),  Mr. Money Manager has a right to be outraged.  In all likelihood, he makes about $1 million a year — about twice the salary of a brain surgeon or four times as much as a four-star general.  

The bottom line is all the people in investment banking understand that they work harder and are under more stress,” said Jeanne Branthover, a managing director at Wall Street recruitment firm Boyden Global Executive Search. “Many don’t think they’re paid enough.” 

But unlike the OWS’ers, the million dollar wunderkinds don’t have to worry about their next bathroom break. Again, from the New York Times (HT to Christina Vining) comes the story of a luxury toilet called the Numi.  According to reporter Sam Grobar, who tried it out for a month in exchange for a free adreview:  

The Numi features a touch-screen remote control. The Numi washes and dries its user. The Numi costs $6,400, or 81 times the price of the basic throne at Home Depot. Such extravagance may put the Numi within reach of only plutocrats and Pentagon purchasing managers. (Oh, goodie, now the general can achieve parity with the oligarch!) All the Numi controls are handled through a touch screen remote control that is somewhat larger than an iPodTouch. That remote controls flushing, cleaning, drying, music, heating and other settings and preferences; combinations of preferences can be stored in user profiles for different family members. When not in use, the remote docks in a magnetic charging cradle that can be mounted on the wall. There are backup buttons at the rear of the toilet just in case the remote is not working. 

The only problems with this plutocrapper, according to Grobart, are that the lid pops up whenever you come near it, regardless of whether you have to go.  And the music can be annoying.  And the aesthetics leave a lot to be desired. Grobart compares the Numi to a giant Lego building block — see for yourself:

 

From the Numi Website: This is How You Market Toilets to Millionaires


One really nifty feature of the Numi is that if you’re a guy who loves to pee in the dark, a lovely blue light will align directly with the flow to help you avoid those annoying misses that plague the OWS john-crashers. It brings a whole new meaning to the term “trickle down.”I wonder if Mike Bloomberg owns a Numi.  I wonder if he ponders his next Zuccotti Park move as he relaxes on his throne.  I wonder if he regrets ever having bought himself a third term.
(Graphic by Kat Garcia)

 Karen Garcia is a prolific blogger and is a former newspaper reporter living in a small college town in upstate New York, and started her blog just to have a place to publish all of her rejected New York Times comments. She publishes regularly at Sardonicky, (Join her there, too)

 http://kmgarcia2000.blogspot.com/

Plan 9-9-9 From Outer Space by Karen Garcia

Sardonicky

by Karen Garcia (Reprinted with permission),October  14,

 http://kmgarcia2000.blogspot.com/

Musings on politics and popular culture

Plan 9-9-9 From Outer Space

Since today seems to be National Pile On Herman Cain Day, I thought I would join the fray before this latest in a long line of fake Republican candidates implodes and Mitt Romney is crowned the winner and makes Ambien obsolete. Today is the day that Paul Krugman wrote that the thought of a Herman Cain presidency “terrifies” him. And to think it was only a few months ago that Michele Bachmann was terrifying everybody with her imminent accession to the White House in the new Theocracy of America. It was only last week that editorialists were warning of Rick Perry Armageddon. Before that, it was Donald Trump casino-izing and birtherizing and overcombing the world. And Sarah Palin was primed to put her manicured red fingernail on the Big Red Button. 

The Republican cavalcade of lunatics is an infinity of mirror images, each one more grotesque than the last.  They have served their purpose by deflecting attention away from what passes for government in Washington. Liberal pundits in general and MSNBC in particular have used their public arenas to shoot fish in a barrel every single day to save them the trouble of thinking, and to make the failure that is Obama look good.

What will happen when only Mitt Romney is left standing, and Lawrence O’Donnell can’t open every show with ridiculing the latest Gingrichism and spending hours every week waxing shocked at Michele Bachmann’s crazoid utterances? Gail Collins will be reduced to repeating her dog-on-the-roof Romneyisms without the comic relief of Ron Paul. The weekly game shows known as the Republican Debates will come to a crashing halt. Whatever will the punditocracy talk about then?

The inconvenient truth is that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are mirror images of each other. Each panders to his supposed base.  Each is a right-of-center fiscal conservative.  Their insurance company giveaway health plans are identical. No matter who is elected, each man would serve as apparatchik of Bush’s Fourth Term.  

But back to the Hermanator. It’s a lazy Friday, so I’ll just add my voice to the thousands of others in saying his 9-9-9 Tax Plan is a joke. It seems to have been stolen from a video game called Sims City 4. It will crush the lower classes. It has no basis in reality. Even Cain can’t explain it. But this week he’s at the top of the polls. So the Serious People are pretending to take him seriously aimply because he is so seriously nuts and might be the next president! Seriously!

Now Playing:  Limited  Engagement  Only!


The Progressive Activists Blog Site

The Progressive Activists Voice Blog Site

Here is the accumulation of blogs we have written or posted (via guests) over the past ten months or so.  Below I have listed the most significant ones and we ask that you distribute these to your Facebook  friends.  We expect to add to these on a regular basis.

Dr. Tom Baldwin, Biloxi, MS

October 18, 2011

To view all blogs click  on this link:  http://proactvoice.wordpress.com

Financial Polarization and Corruption: Obama’s Politics of Deception by Michael Hudson

Don’t Let Him Get Away With it…

By Prof. Michael Hudson

(Reprinted with permission)


The seeds for President Obama’s demagogic press conference on Thursday were planted last summer when he assigned his right-wing Committee of 13 the role of resolving the obvious and inevitable Congressional budget standoff by forging an anti-labor policy that cuts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and uses the savings to bail out banks from even more loans that will go bad as a result of the IMF-style austerity program that Democrats and Republicans alike have agreed to back.

The problem facing Mr. Obama is obvious enough: How can he hold the support of moderates and independents (or as Fox News calls them, socialists and anti-capitalists), students and labor, minorities and others who campaigned so heavily for him in 2008? He has double-crossed them – smoothly, with a gentle smile and patronizing patter talk, but with an iron determination to hand federal monetary and tax policy over to his largest campaign contributors: Wall Street and assorted special interests – the Democratic Party’s Rubinomics and Clintonomics core operators, plus smooth Bush Administration holdovers such as Tim Geithner, not to mention quasi-Cheney factotums in the Justice Department.

President Obama’s solution has been to do what any political demagogue does: Come out with loud populist campaign speeches that have no chance of becoming the law of the land, while quietly giving his campaign contributors what they’ve paid him for: giveaways to Wall Street, tax cuts for the wealthy (euphemized as tax “exemptions” and mark-to-model accounting, plus an agreement to count their income as “capital gains” taxed at a much lower rate).

So here’s the deal the Democratic leadership has made with the Republicans. The Republicans will run someone from their present gamut of guaranteed losers, enabling Mr. Obama to run as the “voice of reason,” as if this somehow is Middle America. This will throw the 2012 election his way for a second term if he adopts their program – a set of rules paid for by the leading campaign contributors to both parties.

President Obama’s policies have not been the voice of reason. They are even further to the right than George W. Bush could have achieved. At least a Republican president would have confronted a Democratic Congress blocking the kind of program that Mr. Obama has rammed through. But the Democrats seem stymied when it comes to standing up to a president who ran as a Democrat rather than the Tea Partier he seems to be so close to in his ideology.

So here’s where the Committee of 13 comes into play. Given (1) the agreement that if the Republicans and Democrats do NOT agree on Mr. Obama’s dead-on-arrival “job-creation” ploy, and (2) Republican House Leader Boehner’s statement that his party will reject the populist rhetoric that President Obama is voicing these days, then (3) the Committee will get its chance to wield its ax and cut federal social spending in keeping with its professed ideology.

President Obama signaled this long in advance, at the outset of his administration when he appointed his Deficit Reduction Commission headed by former Republican Sen. Simpson and Rubinomics advisor to the Clinton administration Bowles to recommend how to cut federal social spending while giving even more money away to Wall Street. He confirmed suspicions of a sellout by reappointing bank lobbyist Tim Geithner to the Treasury, and tunnel-visioned Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve Board.

Yet on Wednesday, October 4, the president tried to represent the OccupyWallStreet movement as support for his efforts. He pretended to endorse a pro-consumer regulator to limit bank fraud, as if he had not dumped Elizabeth Warren on the advice of Mr. Geithner – who seems to be settling into the role of bagman for campaign contributors from Wall Street.

Can President Obama get away with it? Can he jump in front of the parade and represent himself as a friend of labor and consumers while his appointees support Wall Street and his Committee of 13 is waiting in the wings to perform its designated function of guillotining Social Security?

When I visited the OccupyWallStreet site on Wednesday, it was clear that the disgust with the political system went so deep that there is no single set of demands that can fix a system so fundamentally broken and dysfunctional. One can’t paste-up a regime that is impoverishing the economy, accelerating foreclosures, pushing state and city budgets further into deficit, and forcing cuts in social spending.

The situation is much like that from Iceland to Greece: Governments no longer represent the people. They represent predatory financial interests that are impoverishing the economy. This is not democracy. It is financial oligarchy. And oligarchies do not give their victims a voice.

So the great question is, where do we go from here? There’s no solvable path within the way that the economy and the political system is structured these days. Any attempt to come up with a neat “fix-it” plan can only suggest bandages for what looks like a fatal political-economic wound.

The Democrats are as much a part of the septic disease as the Republicans. Other countries face a similar problem. The Social Democratic regime in Iceland is acting as the party of bankers, and its government’s approval rating has fallen to 12 percent. But they refuse to step down. So earlier last week, voters brought steel oil drums to their own Occupation outside the Althing and banged when the Prime Minister started to speak, to drown out her advocacy of the bankers (and foreign vulture bankers at that!).

Likewise in Greece, the demonstrators are showing foreign bank interests that any agreement the European Central Bank makes to bail out French and German bondholders at the cost of increasing taxes on Greek labor (but not Greek property and wealth) cannot be viewed as democratically entered into. Hence, any debts that are claimed, and any real estate or public enterprises given sold off to the creditor powers under distress conditions, can be reversed once voters are given a democratic voice in whether to impose a decade of poverty on the country and force emigration.

That is the spirit of civil disobedience that is growing in this country. It is a quandary – that is, a problem with no solution. All that one can do under such conditions is to describe the disease and its symptoms. The cure will follow logically from the diagnosis. The role of OccupyWallStreet is to diagnose the financial polarization and corruption of the political process that extends right into the Supreme Court, the Presidency, and Mr. Obama’s soon-to-be notorious Committee of 13 once the happy-smoke settles from his present pretensions.

Michael Hudson is a former Wall Street economist. A Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), he is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (new ed., Pluto Press, 2002) and Trade, Development and Foreign Debt: A History of Theories of Polarization v. Convergence in the World Economy. He can be reached via his website, mh@michael-hudson.com

 

‘Up in the Air”, the Sequel by Karen Garcia

 Sardonicky

Musings on politics and popular culture by  Karen Garcia

(Reprinted with permission from blog site below) 

The actors are all dutifully playing their parts in PASS THIS JOBS BILL RIGHT NOW Theater.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t even have the votes to pass it in his own party, so he’s stalling.  Minority Leader Mitch McConnell knows it can’t pass, so he tried to force a vote on it RIGHT NOW. President Obama was out of town, busily raising millions from wealthy donors, so he can keep his own job. It’s a race to the top of the pile of gold, and his goal is an unheard of $1 billion war chest.  More than 90 percent of the time, elections are determined by who raises the most money — economy or no economy.

Obama must be concerned about jobs, because when he presented the George W. Bush-contrived Free Trade Trifecta to Congress this week, he made sure it contained a renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance to compensate the thousands of workers who will might lose their jobs to South Korea, Panama and Columbia.  Of course, there is nothing in the bill which actually funds such compensation to the American victims of free trade rape.  

But it’s fun to imagine a remake of the George Clooney movie “Up in the Air”, with Obama taking over the role of the charming hatchet man who fires people by video conference. The presidential bullshit will take its inspiration directly from the cinematic script.  Obama might stage an internet town hall for the newly redundant whose jobs have now been shipped to slave wage factories in South Korea, whose pensions were stolen and now sit in nouveau-legal tax havens in Panama, whose livelihoods were sent to the jungles of Columbia where hired thugs can murder with impunity the trade unionists standing in the way of corporate profits.   

He will flash his famous grin and intone: “Anyone who ever built an empire sat where you’re sitting right now! Save for college, tighten your belts, win the future.” And a group of shell-shocked unemployed people will be sitting in back of him as living prop temps, dutiful grins frozen on their faces, their termination packets containing no federally funded severance pay, in their laps. (I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if the packets contained info on how to volunteer for OFA and learn some new skills.)Obama will then tell them if they want the compensatory benefits he promised them to just CALL CONGRESS RIGHT NOW!  And like George Clooney, he will obsessively continue racking up his millions of frequent flyer miles in his obsessive quest to rack up millions of dollars at fundraisers.  

Oh, and about that Air Force One.  It is manufactured by Boeing, whose CEO just so happens to be the chairman of the Business Roundtable (BRT), Obama’s most favorite corporate group, and who just so happened to be the first to congratulate Obama on toeing the corporate line on the new free trade deal.  And why not, since Obama named him to the White House Exports Council last year!  Who said the deal will cost us jobs, anyway?  Not James McNerney of Boeing!  According to a statement he put out yesterday, the deal will ADD 250,000 new American jobs.  Of course, he may have simply meant the jobs will be provided by corporations who have some of their land holdings within the continental U.S.  He did not actually specify the geographical location of the new hives of worker bees.  He did not actually mention anything about why the compensation rider for dispossessed American workers was necessary to give Barry some cover with the hoi polloi, either.

                  Fingered!!! Free Trade Lovers Caught in the Act

Remember, it was the BRT that urged Obama to scrap smog emission standards last month by pointing to a study they themselves funded showing it is perfectly safe to breathe polluted air.  So I would take McNerney’s 250,000 American jobs claim with a huge grain of salt.)  
But the NAFTA-like bill enjoys bipartisan support!  Isn’t that what the pundits tell us we all count as our top priority?

Well, there are skeptics, inconveniently comprised of most labor unions and liberals, who are raining on Obama’s feel-good program of fake job creationism in anticipation of the state visit later this month by the South Korean president. “As with any such agreement, there will be winners and losers,” according to John Feffer, a Korea specialist at the Institute of Policy Studies. “The problem is that most of the winners are the wealthier players, namely major U.S. and South Korean manufacturers and financial institutions. The losers will be U.S. workers, Korean farmers, probably the environment in both countries.”

And then there’s chronic spoil-sport Dennis Kucinich, who writes:  “Hundreds of thousands of American jobs have been displaced and outsourced as a result of our pursuit of trade policies which are adverse to the economic interests of the American people. My home State of Ohio is one of the top-ten states posting the biggest job losses since the passage of NAFTA.”

Hmmm… isn’t Ohio one of those battleground states Obama needs for his reelection?  Isn’t that the state where he posed in front of a crumbling bridge just last week, shouting himself hoarse in his populist rant of PASS JOBS ACT NOW??  Is Dennis Kucinich due for another mystery ride on Air Force One where it will again be explained to him that his seat is in danger of being redistricted out of existence?  I don’t know.  It’s all up in the air.

                                           Outsourcing, Inc.

Sign on to Karen’s website to follow her at http://kmgarcia2000.blogspot.com/2011/10/up-in-ai