Welcome! "What's Happenin'?" is a casual community diary (a daily series, 8:30 AM Eastern on weekdays, 10 AM on weekends and holidays) where we hang out and talk about the goings on here and everywhere.
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Grapefruit (Photo by joanneleon. October, 2012)
The way we're going to win elections in this country is not to become Republican lite. The way we're going to win elections in this country is to stand up for what we believe in.
-- Howard Dean
|Mick Jagger - Presidential Election Blues||Drop in
day or night
to say hello.
News and Opinion
I'm with OWS on this one. No big surprises in the election results. Can we move on? Forward?
Clearly the only way we will get any real change is by building independent movements. As in 2008, a lot of Democrats will spend months celebrating, but the crisis level problems (both micro and macro) are still right here and there is work to do. In fact, the undermining of the New Deal was not hampered by the election. The work on that continued, unfettered by any election while most were not paying attention. The people who lost everything during Sandy are out of the news cycle now but still need to rebuild their lives and more urgently, many need housing as the winter arrives in the Northeast and MidAtlantic. Will the politicians be so eager to help them now that the elections are over? Will the extent of the deaths and damage be accurately reported or covered up or buried in yet more obsessive election coverage even though we've been bombarded by it for two years already?
Election Day Report: The People's EmergencyA new project by OWS: Rolling Jubilee, part of the Strike Debt project.
Today, we are told, we should go out and participate in the so-called political process: stand up and be counted, let our voices be heard, pick the man who supposedly best represents our interests. That is fine. We are not for or against it. We are agnostic. In truth, we are living and dying in another universe altogether--we are aliens from the future who recognize the perils and the promises of our latest disaster.
Ten days ago, the climate went on strike against Wall Street -- and we all got flooded. The tide surged and the lights went out. Our friends and families, our neighbors and communities, our networks and allies were under water and in the dark. Our lives are at stake. We could not wait for the State. We had to step in.
We declare a state of emergency. This is our emergency. They have tried to claim it--in their own belated, uneven, incompetent manner. For them, the emergency is a temporary problem to be managed and administered in the name of restoring things to normal. But their normal was already a perpetual emergency for us--an emergency of economic inequality, debt-bondage, racial oppression, union-busting, municipal austerity, ecological destruction, police violence, historical amnesia, and more...
We will not allow a return to normal.
The People's Emergency responds to the crisis; we set up distribution centers and energy-generators; we mobilize volunteers; we raise money and attract media; we help folks on the ground when their lives are in danger from hunger, darkness, and exposure to the elements.
But the People's Emergency is not a humanitarian operation. It is not about charity. We are not an army of salvation or an agency of administration. We wear red squares, not red crosses. We are creating autonomous zones for community and solidarity, not camps for managing the lives of powerless victims.
A bailout of the people by the people.Election is over and hopefully we will now see some more analysis of where the $6 billion dollars came from to win it. So who bought the election and what do they expect in return? Where did the dark money come from?
We buy debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, we abolish it. We cannot buy specific individuals' debt - instead, we help liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal.
The Jubilee begins November 15
with "The People's Bailout," a variety show and telethon in NYC.
All proceeds will go directly to buying people's debt and cancelling it.
Henry A. Giroux | Beyond the Dead End of American Electoral Politics: Rethinking the Crisis of Politics
Elections in the United States are now characterized by the politics of a moral coma and corrupted by the pathological lies used to justify the rule of big money. John Le Carre's charge against the Bush administration that “America has entered one of its periods of historical madness," echoing the last days of the Weimar Republic, is more relevant today than it was in when he made the statement in 2003. Matters of justice, truth, responsibility and freedom have been hijacked by a savage mode of capitalism that is as ruthless as it is criminal. Manufactured idiocy reins in the dominant media and has ceded its credibility to the eithos of celebrity culture and the entertainment state.
Fox News is the American version of Pravda and the liberal media appears delusional given its flight from any vestige of critical analysis. The issue is no longer how to work within the current electoral system, but how to dismantle it and construct a new political landscape and vision of democracy in which people can recognize themselves, a vision that connects with and speaks to the American public's desires, dreams and hopes. The American public needs a new conversation about democracy, equality and the redistribution of wealth and power. And we need to explore how such a discourse can offer the conditions for critical visions, modes of governance and policy making.
Superstorm Sandy—a People's Shock?
The same day, Frank Rapoport, a lawyer representing several billion-dollar construction and real estate contractors, jumped in to suggest that many of those public works projects shouldn’t be public at all. Instead, cash-strapped governments should turn to “public private partnerships,” known as “P3s.” That means roads, bridges and tunnels being rebuilt by private companies, which, for instance, could install tolls and keep the profits.
Up until now, the only thing stopping them has been the law—specifically the absence of laws in New York State and New Jersey that enable these sorts of deals. But Rapoport is convinced that the combination of broke governments and needy people will provide just the catalyst needed to break the deadlock. “There were some bridges that were washed out in New Jersey that need structural replacement, and it’s going to be very expensive,” he told The Nation. “And so the government may well not have the money to build it the right way. And that’s when you turn to a P3.”
Is there anyone who can still feign surprise at this stuff? The flurry of attempts to use Sandy’s destructive power as a cash grab is just the latest chapter in the very long story I have called The Shock Doctrine. And it is but the tiniest glimpse into the ways large corporations are seeking to reap enormous profits from climate chaos.
We're Killing Little Children in Pakistan: What I Told Obama's Counter-Terror Chief At His Virginia Home
CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin brings the devastation of the U.S. drone war in Pakistan to the doorstep of John Brennan, the man tasked with drawing up President Obama's "kill lists."
Exiting the freeway, we came to an area of rolling hills, green grass and private horse farms. As we approached what we thought might be John Brennan’s street, we were sure it was a mistake. How could this be? It was a nondescript upper middle class neighborhood, with children playing in the yards—no security, no government vehicles. The house was in a cul-de-sac sandwiched between two other houses, without so much as a fence surrounding it.
I decided to go knock on the door to make sure we were wrong. A middle-aged, white-haired guy in a casual sweater and jeans opened the door, accompanied by someone who l assumed was his wife.
I knew I didn't have much time so I starting talking fast—telling him I had just returned from a delegation to Pakistan meeting with drone victims, how heartbroken I was to hear their stories, how terrible it is that these drone attacks are causing so much suffering to innocent people and turning the entire Pakistani population against us.
He insisted that it wasn’t true, that we weren't harming civilians. "But we met with people who lost their children, their fathers, their loved ones—we have photos of little children….” I wanted to say so much more. I wanted to tell him about the journalist Karim Khan who lost his son and brother or about 16-year-old Tariq Aziz, who was killed when trying to document drone strikes. I wanted to talk to him about the statistics provided by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that say conservative estimates of civilian casualties add up over 1,000.
"It's just not true," he repeated, dismissively. "You are being manipulated."
The Why Behind the Benghazi AttackSomehow I doubt this.
It’s now apparent that the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was no ordinary consulate; in fact, it probably was no consulate at all. The consulate’s primary mission was to provide an intelligence platform that would allow the CIA to maintain an operational and analytical role in eastern Libya.
Any CIA component in the Middle East or North Africa is a likely target of the wrath of militant and terrorist organizations because of the Agency’s key role in the global war on terror waged by the Bush administration and the increasingly widespread covert campaign of drone aircraft of the Obama administration.
The Benghazi failure is one more reminder of the unfortunate militarization of the intelligence community, particularly the CIA, in the wake of 9/11 that finds our major civilian intelligence service becoming a paramilitary center in support of the war-fighter.
Last year’s appointment of Gen. David Petraeus as CIA director; the CIA’s increased role in drone attacks in Southwest Asia, the Persian Gulf and the Horn of Africa; and the insufficient attention to providing strategic intelligence for the policy-maker have weakened the Agency’s central missions.
The success of the Bush and Obama administrations in compromising the CIA’s Office of the Inspector General has ensured that the Agency’s flaws have gone uncorrected. The politicization of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq War in 2003 was the worst intelligence scandal in the CIA’s history, but there were no penalties for those who shared CIA Director George Tenet’s willingness to make phony intelligence a “slam dunk.”
If more attention is not given to the biblical inscription at the entrance to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, that only “the truth will set you free,” the decline of the intelligence community will continue.
British PM backs 'safe passage' for Assad
David Cameron says "anything" should be done to get the Syrian president out of the country to help end the war.
David Cameron, the British prime minister, has said he will support granting President Bashar al-Assad a safe passage out of Syria to help end the civil war.
Cameron made the comments on Tuesday in a television interview while visiting the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
He said "anything" should be done to help "get the man out of the country and to have a safe transition in Syria".
"Of course I would favour him facing the full force of international law and justice for what he’s done. I am certainly not offering him an exit plan to Britain, but if he wants to leave he could leave, that could be arranged," he said.
Israel to counter Palestinian attempt at UNForeign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warns that Israel will respond harshly if Palestine is given enhanced status at UN.
With direct peace talks on hold for more than two years, the Palestinians have sought to push for their long-promised state in other ways, seeking to upgrade their status from an observer entity to that of a non-member state.
Mahmoud Abbas has said he will table the resolution later this month, on either November 15 or 29, according to officials.
Such a move is likely to be voted through easily, requiring only a simple majority in the 193-member General Assembly, where the Palestinians have widespread support.
But the move is fiercely opposed by Israel, and Channel 10 reported on Monday night that Lieberman had warned during a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton that Tel Aviv would respond harshly to such a bid.
"If the Palestinians go to the UN General Assembly with a new unilateral initiative, they must know they will be subject to severe measures by Israel and the United States," the station quoted Lieberman as saying on October 24.
"If the Palestinians pursue their project at the UN, they are definitively destroying the chances of peace talks," Lieberman reportedly added.
"If they persist with this project, I will ensure that the Palestinian Authority collapses," the station quoted him as saying.
Gov. Christie: Hug from Bruce Springsteen left me ‘weeping’
Speaking outside a shelter in Keansburg on Monday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) told a crowd that he’d confessed to President Barack Obama that getting a hug from famed musician Bruce Springsteen on Friday night left him “weeping.”
“Bruce [was] apparently flying around with the president today on the last day of his campaign, and Bruce said to me how proud he was of his state and how proud he was of the people of his state, and how tough they are,” Christie said. “He’ll be back to the Jersey shore soon. We had a good conversation today. It was great to talk to the president and even better to talk to Bruce.”
“They asked me to come over to support their telethon for Hurricane Sandy victims,” Christie explained. “Bruce and I had a chance to chat on Friday night… Great. We hugged. We hugged. Yeah. And he told me it’s official: we’re friends.”
Dear Bruce: Obama won't save the working class or the Jersey shoreI'm not sure which Matt Taibbi this is. He's been all over the place lately. I don't expect the craziness to end anytime soon. The media, the hyperpartisans and the junkies won't want to let go of this insanity any time soon, and hey, some people are already on to obsessing about 2014 and 2016 in the land of the neverending elections.
Bruce Springsteen's touching tribute to Obama is unfathomable, considering the President's assault on civil liberties.
Moreover, Obama's utter inaction on the single most dangerous threat to the planet - climate change - early in his term while he still had significant political capital to expend will go down as one of the worst presidential decisions of the post-War era. On the other hand, the President's all-out assault on civil liberties, whistle blowers, and habeas corpus, the ongoing war on drugs and large-scale incarceration of young (and especially young minority) men, his increased deportations of undocumented immigrants, promotion of extra-judicial murder and indefinite detention of anyone, anywhere - including American citizens - his continued support of brutal authoritarian governments across the world (note to Bruce: Apartheid didn't end with the release of Nelson Mandela as you declared; it is alive and well in American allies like Israel and Bahrain), ramping up of oil and gas production while abandoning far-sighted plans to make renewable energy production a centrepiece of the US economy, are all threatening some of the most fundamental constitutional protections Americans have enjoyed for two centuries. At the same time, they are laying the groundwork for a US economy even more dominated by the petroleum and related industries than it already is, with all the ecological and political dangers a "petro-state" would create.
Simply put, the tragedy of the Obama Presidency is, to quote the lyrics from one of Springsteen's songs, "The Ghost of Tom Joad", that the "new world order" he railed against in the song has been hammered even harder into place by a president who more than anyone before him had the moral and historical mandate to challenge the system that produced it.
But if Obama wins today, will progressives really come out tomorrow and push back against his policies as relentlessly as they would against Romney? Will Bruce write songs about all the losses of the Obama years? Will he direct a level of anger at Obama in six months that's commensurate with the adulation and thanks he offered yesterday? Will he, Jay-Z and Beyonce spearhead a revived Occupy movement that will demand Obama live up to his promises and historic mission? Will they join his friend and touring partner Tom Morello to sing a version of "The Ghost of Tom Joad" (which Morello's group, Rage Against the Machine powerfully covered) that directs the song's unadulterated anger towards the Obama White House?
Regardless of who is elected today, Americans desperately need artistic voices who can both paint an unsparing picture of the powers arrayed against them while giving them the hope that, despite the lies and disillusionment, real change is still possible. I sure hope the Boss is up to this task, because it's hard to imagine anyone else filling his shoes.
Politics: Election Day Is Finally Here: Tonight Is Going to Suck No Matter What
So it's finally here – the big day. After eighteen months of relentless, ear-splitting propaganda, with thousands, if not tens of thousands, of reporters humping the horse-race (jumping on every single poll like heavily-panting boy-dogs with their little red wieners showing) and day after day swinging the heavy horseshit-hammer of Thor, braining us with one meaningless, made-up non-controversy after another – after all that angst and stress and directionless aggression, it's finally going to end.
That it's all going to be over finally, thank God for that. But today will still go down as a truly sad day, no matter who wins.
Years from now, when we look back at these last days and weeks before this 2012 election, what we're going to remember is how intensely millions of Americans hated during this time, how many shameless and dishonorable lies were told as the race tightened (we scratched and clawed at each other like sewer rats over every absurd factual dispute, finding ways to shriek at each other even over things that by definition are nobody's fault, even over acts of God like Hurricane Sandy) and how reflexively people on opposite sides of the race disbelieved each other and laid blame at each others' feet over just about every issue, important or (more often) not.
People who live in other countries, who grew up in the third world or live now in terminally wobbling mob states of the ex-Communist variety, they must look at our behavior now in election years and think we're crazy. You have to have lived in a country with real problems and real instability to realize this, but life doesn't change too terribly much in America no matter which party wins the presidency – not real change, the way people in the rest of the world understand real political change, i.e. in terms of reprisals and collapsed currencies and assassinations and other such disasters. For most of us, our day-to-day lives won't change a lick no matter who wins tonight. If we just turned off our cable channels and stayed off the net, it would take months, maybe years, for most of us to guess who won.
So all this freaking out and vicious invective-trading looks nuts from the outside: it looks like we're making up reasons to hate and fear each other, summoning the language of violent civil unrest with a hedonistic zeal that only people who haven't experienced the real thing could possibly enjoy.
Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest
Jeremyscahil and bob Herbert telling truth on democracy now.— John Cusack (@johncusack) November 7, 2012
Chris Hedges: "We've undergone a corporate coup d'etat in slow motion, and they won." Won't hear that on CNN -- #DNvote— Gordon Katic (@gord_katic) November 7, 2012
Bob Herbert on #DNvote: "Progressives have a right to enjoy the win for the next 24-48 hours"— War Times (@War_Times) November 7, 2012
Alice Cooper - Elected
Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?
Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.
Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." ~ Noam Chomsky