Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Short List - December 13, 2011

International

Domestic

10 comments:

Colin said...

That's an amazing read about the Occupy activities on the West Coast. We've got people engaging in violence ("demonstrators blocked traffic and hurled flares, bags of paint and other debris at officers and police horses") and the two participants--possibly extras who wandered off the set of Red Dawn--armed with a sword, gun and walkies-talkies who claimed to be doing "reconnaissance." And the result? Workers losing wages needed to support their families. Great work guys.

What a juvenile and stupid movement.

Ben said...

I want to preface my comment with a statement noting that I don't condone all of the actions of the Occupy Movement. However, to characterize its use of direct action as stupid and juvenile is at least unfair. Direct action has a long history in the country of being used by organizations or movements that have sought to advance the causes of social and economic justice--the civil rights movement, the sufragettes, the gay rights movement, to name just a few. It is noteworthy that many demonstrators both yesterday and in previous direct actions, and at simple protests, have participated at great risk to their well-being and their personal liberty. It is further noteworthy that the recriminations you level against these demonstrators are the same leveled against those who disrupted the Egyptian economy in Tahrir Square or those that disrupted the Tunisian economy when rallying in Tunis. I do not purport to draw a parallel between the two movements but just note that those who defend the status quo often claim to be looking out for the workers with lost wages. Might not those workers be better off with a higher wage? State-sponsored healthcare? Or an economy that in fact lifts all boats instead of only those in the top 1-2% of income recipients?

I wonder, Colin, why you feel compelled to condemn protesters today but you've not commented on the brutality of police forces when confronted with peaceful protesters who have not even engaged in direct action?

Colin said...

My comments are not unfair at all. Using violence -- which the Occupy movement has resorted to time and time again -- is indeed stupid and juvenile, if not worse. The fact that these protesters placed their own well-being and personal liberty at risk while pursuing such asinine activities excuses them not at all.

As for parallels with the past, it is worth noting that every group you mentioned targeted their direct action against the government and unjust laws, not peaceful and consensual private economic activity.

Regarding police brutality, I don't see why I would bring it up given that none was mentioned in the story. In any case I have no problem acknowledging and condemning misconduct by our government, and there is no doubt such brutality exists. Heck, just this morning I tweeted about the militarization of our police forces.

That said, perhaps the Occupy movement should spend some time reflecting on why it is that everytime they get together to protest that arrests and disturbances break out while the Tea Party is able to hold regularly rallies without a single person being hauled off.

Ben said...

Several things here:

it is worth noting that every group you mentioned targeted their direct action against the government and unjust laws, not peaceful and consensual private economic activity.

This is patently false. See for example the Woolworths lunch counter protests. Also, when part of the problem is the manifest greed of private economic activity beyond all reason, why wouldn't they be targeted?

My comments are not unfair at all. Using violence -- which the Occupy movement has resorted to time and time again -- is indeed stupid and juvenile, if not worse.

Time and time again? The movement resorted to? Actually the movement has been very peaceful. Some individuals have used violence and they have been ostracized by the movement. See Boston and Atlanta occupies for example. They have even been incredibly peaceful and restrained in the face of gross brutality by the state.

As to your last point, you clearly don't understand direct action. Pity that. It's proved rather effective--as has the Occupy Movement. Thanks to the movement, we're finally talking about income inequality. I'd also argue that a number of the progressive victories in November are attributable to the Movement's energy and its influence on the public conversation.

Colin said...

This is patently false. See for example the Woolworths lunch counter protests.

While the venue may have been private, racial discrimination in the South was government policy.

Also, when part of the problem is the manifest greed of private economic activity beyond all reason, why wouldn't they be targeted?

If people want to protest and use the power of persuasion, that's one thing. But blocking other people from peacefully conducting their business is outrageous. And what is greed beyond all reason anyway?

Time and time again? The movement resorted to? Actually the movement has been very peaceful.

Yes, time and time again. I can provide literally dozens of examples of the Occupy movement engaging in violence and mayhem. After a few times it starts to become a pattern.

This is, again, quite unlike the Tea Party, where violence has been nonexistent. The contrast between the two movements is stunning and illustrative.

As to your last point, you clearly don't understand direct action. Pity that. It's proved rather effective--as has the Occupy Movement.

Rather effective? Even TPM notes that a majority of people oppose the Occupy movement (quite remarkable for a group that has existed for such a short time). The group has accomplished literally nothing, which is unsurprising given that it refuses to say what it wants (in terms of legislation it desires) and brags about its lack of leadership. It's less about accomplishing anything concrete and more about drawing attention to oneself.

Again, the contrast with the Tea Party is illustrative. While Occupy protesters have been busy making a spectacle of themselves, the Tea Party organized and participated in electoral politics to great effect in the 2010 elections. Turns out sitting around in a tent with a sign that says "We are the 99%" is a lot less effective than running in primaries, raising money and volunteering in campaigns -- who knew?

Talking about income inequality, meanwhile, is pretty thin gruel. When did we ever stop talking about it? I've literally been blogging about the issue (or, more accurately, non-issue) for years.

Colin said...

They have even been incredibly peaceful and restrained in the face of gross brutality by the state.

And yet they want to make the state even more powerful. Interesting...

Jason said...

The Woolworth's protests targeted the store policy, not a government law. If I'm wrong about that, please cite the North Carolina statute of the period that required stores to have a "White Only" counter.

Though I imagine, given what you think of government interference with business, that you agree with Senator Paul that the government shouldn't have gotten involved with a private store's policy, right?

Also, you're quick to cite the civility of the Tea Party, who screamed in the faces of their elected representatives at town halls and carried signs that compared Obama to Hitler. Is that the civility you speak of?

As to the incoherence of a protest, I would only cite the number of examples of Tea Party participants demanding the government keep its hands off Medicare.

Recriminations abound on both sides, but Colin it's unsettling to me that you are so quick to dismiss the Occupy protests as "juvenile and stupid" because you don't agree with what or who they are protesting. I could make a claim that Tea Party activists comparing Obama to Hitler are juvenile and those that want government to stay out of their Medicare as stupid.

Colin said...

The Woolworth's protests targeted the store policy, not a government law.

True enough, but the principle of separate but equal was part of North Carolina law, which -- among other things -- required separate restroom facilities at businesses. Absent government support for such policies I find it unlikely that businesses would have followed suit. That is, of course, speculative.

you agree with Senator Paul that the government shouldn't have gotten involved with a private store's policy, right?

Wikipedia notes that a boycott of segregated stores led to sales dropping by one-third, prompting the stores to end their policies. Seems to me that private forces voting with their dollars is what produced the change, with Woolworth's reversing its policy in only 5 months.

Also, you're quick to cite the civility of the Tea Party, who screamed in the faces of their elected representatives at town halls and carried signs that compared Obama to Hitler. Is that the civility you speak of?

Actually I never mentioned civility, but since you bring it up yes, the Tea Party is incredibly more civil than the Occupy movement. I mean, screaming at elected representatives at forums whose express purpose is an exchange of views with voters is the worst you've got? One can only imagine what you'd say about the Tea Party if, like Occupy, its protests featured public defecation on police cars, sexual assaults, smashed windows, stealing, physical violence and the like.

In fact, for all of the worry expressed over Tea Party violence -- you yourself admitted to suspecting that Jared Loughner was a Tea Partier -- actual violence has been found exclusively in the Occupy movement. And yet, strangely, you take a dim view of the Tea Party and a much more positive one of Occupy.

Colin it's unsettling to me that you are so quick to dismiss the Occupy protests as "juvenile and stupid" because you don't agree with what or who they are protesting.

Um, no. I find them stupid and juvenile because they routinely engage in violence and prevent other people from earning a living.

I could make a claim that Tea Party activists comparing Obama to Hitler are juvenile and those that want government to stay out of their Medicare as stupid.

And you'd be correct: comparing Obama to Hitler -- something I have never seen at three Tea Party protests, but found in spades at anti-war protests circa 2004-05 -- is juvenile. Decrying Medicare cuts while protesting the size of government can be justifiably labeled as stupid.

Jason said...

"required separate restroom facilities at businesses." Have a citation for that claim?

"unlikely that businesses would have followed suit. That is, of course, speculative." That's a tremendously speculative statement not supported by even a casual study of race relations in the United States during the period.

Did sales drop because of anger over the policies of segregation or because of the disruption caused by round after round of sit-in and the ensuing media spectacle? If it's the latter how is the action of those that conducted sit-ins so dramatically different than the Occupy movements?

And let's not forget that this disruption of "consensual private economic activity" as you might describe it led to the Civil Rights Act which made it illegal for a company to discriminate on the basis of race. You did not answer my original question. Do you agree with Sen. Paul that this was an unnecessary infringement upon the rights of private businesses?

Also, there are plenty of recriminations to go around on both sides, but it's misleading to say that the Occupy movement have "routinely" engaged in violence, as if said actions were encouraged and coordinated by the groups core leadership.

And even if the Occupy movement, or rogue elements of it, have engaged in violent activity so have rogue elements of the Tea Party movement like the "Christian Warriors" who plotted to kill a Michigan police officer and follow that up by killing more police officers at the first victims funeral. Or should we take a look at any of, Tea Party darling, Glenn Beck's radio or TV show that were extended propaganda sessions to tell those that would listen who they shouldn't like because they're not like them. That you, as a sympathizer, if not member, of the Tea Party movement, would disavow these groups from the Tea Party, does not erase the philosophical relationship between such groups and the Tea Party.

Colin said...

"required separate restroom facilities at businesses." Have a citation for that claim?

Sure do.

"1956: Public accommodations [Statute]
Required all plants and other businesses to maintain separate toilet facilities."

Did sales drop because of anger over the policies of segregation or because of the disruption caused by round after round of sit-in and the ensuing media spectacle? If it's the latter how is the action of those that conducted sit-ins so dramatically different than the Occupy movements?

No idea, but we do know that the businesses remained open during this time (unlike Occupy, which has tried to shut them down). Remember, the protesters were not trying to block business from being conducted. In fact it was the opposite -- they were actively trying to patronize the businesses!

You did not answer my original question. Do you agree with Sen. Paul that this was an unnecessary infringement upon the rights of private businesses?

I did respond -- I noted that private activity led to Woolworth's changing its store policy, not the government.

Also, there are plenty of recriminations to go around on both sides, but it's misleading to say that the Occupy movement have "routinely" engaged in violence, as if said actions were encouraged and coordinated by the groups core leadership.

No, sorry, there is no moral equivalence between the two. One side has engaged in violence, and one hasn't. I realize that is, to borrow a phrase from Al Gore, an inconvenient truth, but there you go. Also, given that the Occupy movement famously claims to be completely decentralized and lack any leadership, your last sentence seems a bit meaningless.

And even if the Occupy movement, or rogue elements of it, have engaged in violent activity so have rogue elements of the Tea Party movement like the "Christian Warriors" who plotted to kill a Michigan police officer and follow that up by killing more police officers at the first victims funeral. Or should we take a look at any of, Tea Party darling, Glenn Beck's radio or TV show that were extended propaganda sessions to tell those that would listen who they shouldn't like because they're not like them. That you, as a sympathizer, if not member, of the Tea Party movement, would disavow these groups from the Tea Party, does not erase the philosophical relationship between such groups and the Tea Party.

This is, quite frankly, beyond ridiculous and barely worthy of a response. There is no linkage between the Tea Party and these guys. Seriously, google around for Hutaree and Tea Party and let me know if a single reputable news source links the two.

By your same logic, given that many of the Occupy protesters are stridently anti-capitalist, and Mao was anti-capitalist, then Mao and the Occupy movement have a "philosophical relationship" that cannot be erased.

That you have to resort to fantastical connections between the Tea Party and some unaffiliated yahoos who are alleged to have *plotted* violence (not even actually engaging in it), in order to draw some parallel with the Occupy movement is instructive. The fact remains that Tea Party protests have featured zero violence, while they are a regular occurence at Occupy gatherings. Rather than condemn the Occupy violence, you -- a guy who gets exercised over members of Congress being yelled at by their constituents -- said nothing about it while labeling the latest Occupy activities a success. It's curious.