November 2011 Archives

Susan Jacoby observes that Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Herman Cain "talk as if their religious beliefs and their personal hardships somehow make them presidential material." At a recent Republican forum, she writes, Santorum "made the most revealing comment of the evening, linking the candidates' brand of far-right Christianity with their the right-wing position maintaining that government has no responsibility to attempt to alleviate the misery of its citizens:"

"Suffering is a part of life," he mused, "and it's not a bad thing, it is an essential thing in life." That suffering is a part of life is indisputable but there is a difference between the suffering that comes to all in the natural course of things -- say, death and illness -- and the suffering that human beings create through inept actions and institutions. [...]

Government can do something (though certainly not everything) about the latter category of man-made suffering but in the Christian universe inhabited by the Republican candidates on the stage in Iowa, neglect of the earthly suffering of others is actually a virtue.

Jacoby uses the example of FDR to great effect:

...being in a wheelchair (metaphorically or literally) tells you nothing about whether a man is an effective leader. It reveals a good deal about the character of a candidates, however, when they think that they deserve votes because they've had cancer or a brain-damaged child. This use of personal faith and personal suffering in politics is nothing less than an obscenity.

Buy Nothing Day

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Adbusters suggests that we celebrate BND this year with an Occupy Xmas movement, proposing that we "use the coming 20th annual Buy Nothing Day to launch an all-out offensive to unseat the corporate kings on the holiday throne:"

Historically, Buy Nothing Day has been about fasting from hyper consumerism - a break from the cash register and reflecting on how dependent we really are on conspicuous consumption. On this 20th anniversary of Buy Nothing Day, we take it to the next level, marrying it with the message of #occupy...


Shenanigans begin November 25!


giving thanks

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AlterNet's list of 10 great things to be thankful for includes the global Occupy movement, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, JT Eberhard is thankful for real respect, and Hemant Mehta discusses being an atheist at the Thanksgiving table:

What do you do when you're an atheist and your family is going around the table before Thanksgiving dinner, praising the gods, people and things they are grateful for? Do you stay silent? Do you pretend to thank god? Do you thank yourself?

Of course not. Atheists have plenty to be thankful for -- without the need to include anything supernatural or non-existent on our lists.

Our families. Our children. Our health. Our friends. Our careers. Our communities.

The people who enrich our lives, who challenge us, and who support us no matter what we do or believe.

Amanda Marcotte discusses the religion of an increasingly godless America, pointing out that Republicans' "fealty to a very narrow, fundamentalist view of Christianity" seems to suggest that Americans are "not just more religious, but more drawn to reactionary religion than ever before. [...] That is, until you start to dig into the actual facts:"

The percentage of unaffiliated Americans has grown gradually over the generations, but with the Millennials, we're seeing a new trend emerge. There is now a large group of Americans who have a faith, but separate it from public life, keeping it in the private sphere.

So how to square away declining rates of belief with the perception that America is a land where the Bible is thumped regularly in the public square? What we're seeing with the heightened emphasis on religion in politics is the death throes of the old order.

She concludes:

The more that religion can be pushed off into the realm of private practice and out of the public square, the better for public discourse, as we can dispense with the God talk and move on to reality-based discussions about what we want and how we can get it. The Millennials have the right idea when it comes to dismissing the belief that religion somehow improves politics. Now we just have to wait for the religious right to finish with their temper tantrum over this, and then we can move on to the future.

Tikkun offers suggestions for how an Occupy supporter can "have a civil conversation with family members who may have a different view of things:"

First, DO NOT bring up Obama, Republicans, Democrats, FOX news, or the Super-committee. These are hot button emotional issues that will distract from the issue. Refuse to take the bait if someone else brings them up.

Other tips are more generic ("Rather than lecturing, try doing much more listening." And the like) bit this one is quite specific:

If you have relatives who demonize the Occupy movement, perhaps the most important thing you can do is to help humanize the people involved, and get them to see that they might have some common ground with some of their concerns if not their methods.


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In explaining how police power tames OWS, Boston Review notes that "while the game is difficult for both sides, it is hardly an equal contest. If local authorities want to shut down a protest, they can do so decisively." The piece also stresses that "Police departments in those cities that still tolerate Occupy protests maintain that they are struggling to balance the right of free speech with the need to protect public order. Fair enough, but the question is how the balance is struck:"

A mob, the nineteenth-century sociologists told us, is rootless, anonymous, and disorganized. The Occupy protests hardly qualify as mobs by these standards. How could they, when their members are camped on the same site for weeks? Mobs are also supposed to be fickle and irrational. They don't hold community meetings with complex procedures every evening. They don't set up libraries. They don't adopt policies promising "zero tolerance" of violence, verbal abuse, and alcohol consumption. They don't establish working groups to organize sanitation, maintain Internet infrastructure, and manage community relations. Occupy Wall Street even has a group to "increase the efficiency and effectiveness" of its other groups--a sort of internal management consultancy.

The Occupy movement is the antithesis of a mob.

AlterNet asks, will the Occupy Homes anti-foreclosure movement unleash more violence?

One tactic is to occupy the home of a family facing eviction, in the hopes that media attention will encourage the bank to rethink whether the homeowners have exhausted their options after all. Another, more radical action is to take over a vacant property, co-opting it for use by a family that's already homeless (or by occupiers).

Do cops want to get violent over things like that? I guess we'll find out.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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