Progressive Calendar 11.12.11 /2
From: David Shove (
Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2011 13:18:31 -0800 (PST)
 P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    11.12.11
1. G-8 wars  11.12 4pm

2. Matt Taibbi - How I stopped worrying and learned to love the OWS protests
3. ed              - Life in the universe  (haiku)

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From: WAMM
G-8 wars  11.12 4pm

 When the G-8 Meets: Economic Crisis, Austerity, Wars and Interventions
Saturday, November 12, 4:00 p.m. Mayday Bookstore, 301 Cedar Avenue South,

Speaker: Gary Prevost: Professor of Political Science, St. John's
University/College of St. Benedict. The G-8 brings together the governments
of the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, Russia and the U.K. The
G-8 will hold a summit in Chicago in May 2012. At the same time a full
summit of NATO will be held in Chicago.

Come to a public forum for a discussion of the G-8 and its role in world
politics and the economy today: When this body of the largest economies
meets, are the interests of working and poor people represented at the
table? Do these governments plan and work for peace and justice? What does
the G-8 represent in a world in economic crisis? What is the connection
between the economic policies of the big powers in the G-8 and the
never-ending series of wars (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and so on)?

Co-Sponsored by: the Anti-War Committee (AWC), Mayday Books, Twin Cities
Peace Campaign (TCPC), and WAMM. FFI: Visit

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Published on Friday, November 11, 2011 by Rolling Stone
How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests
Much more than a movement against big banks, they're a rejection of what
our society has become.
by Matt Taibbi

I have a confession to make. At first, I misunderstood Occupy Wall Street.

The first few times I went down to Zuccotti Park, I came away with mixed
feelings. I loved the energy and was amazed by the obvious organic appeal
of the movement, the way it was growing on its own. But my initial
impression was that it would not be taken very seriously by the Citibanks
and Goldman Sachs of the world. You could put 50,000 angry protesters on
Wall Street, 100,000 even, and Lloyd Blankfein is probably not going to
break a sweat. He knows he's not going to wake up tomorrow and see Cornel
West or Richard Trumka running the Federal Reserve. He knows modern finance
is a giant mechanical parasite that only an expert surgeon can remove. Yell
and scream all you want, but he and his fellow financial Frankensteins are
the only ones who know how to turn the machine off.

That's what I was thinking during the first few weeks of the protests. But
I'm beginning to see another angle. Occupy Wall Street was always about
something much bigger than a movement against big banks and modern finance.
It's about providing a forum for people to show how tired they are not just
of Wall Street, but everything. This is a visceral, impassioned,
deep-seated rejection of the entire direction of our society, a refusal to
take even one more step forward into the shallow commercial abyss of
phoniness, short-term calculation, withered idealism and intellectual
bankruptcy that American mass society has become. If there is such a thing
as going on strike from one's own culture, this is it. And by being so
broad in scope and so elemental in its motivation, it's flown over the
heads of many on both the right and the left.

The right-wing media wasted no time in cannon-blasting the movement with
its usual idiotic clichés, casting Occupy Wall Street as a bunch of dirty
hippies who should get a job and stop chewing up Mike Bloomberg's police
overtime budget with their urban sleepovers. Just like they did a
half-century ago, when the debate over the Vietnam War somehow stopped
being about why we were brutally murdering millions of innocent Indochinese
civilians and instead became a referendum on bralessness and long hair and
flower-child rhetoric, the depraved flacks of the right-wing media have
breezily blown off a generation of fraud and corruption and
market-perverting bailouts, making the whole debate about the protesters
themselves – their hygiene, their "envy" of the rich, their "hypocrisy."

The protesters, chirped Supreme Reichskank Ann Coulter, needed three
things: "showers, jobs and a point." Her colleague Charles Krauthammer went
so far as to label the protesters hypocrites for having iPhones. OWS, he
said, is "Starbucks-sipping, Levi's-clad, iPhone-clutching protesters
[denouncing] corporate America even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate
titan, billionaire eight times over." Apparently, because Goldman and
Citibank are corporations, no protester can ever consume a corporate
product – not jeans, not cellphones and definitely not coffee – if he also
wants to complain about tax money going to pay off some billionaire
banker's bets against his own crappy mortgages.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the political spectrum, there were scads of
progressive pundits like me who wrung our hands with worry that OWS was
playing right into the hands of assholes like Krauthammer. Don't give them
any ammunition! we counseled. Stay on message! Be specific! We were all
playing the Rorschach-test game with OWS, trying to squint at it and see
what we wanted to see in the movement. Viewed through the prism of our
desire to make near-term, within-the-system changes, it was hard to see how
skirmishing with cops in New York would help foreclosed-upon middle-class
families in Jacksonville and San Diego.

What both sides missed is that OWS is tired of all of this. They don't care
what we think they're about, or should be about. They just want something

We're all born wanting the freedom to imagine a better and more beautiful
future. But modern America has become a place so drearily confining and
predictable that it chokes the life out of that built-in desire. Everything
from our pop culture to our economy to our politics feels oppressive and
unresponsive. We see 10 million commercials a day, and every day is the
same life-killing chase for money, money and more money; the only thing
that changes from minute to minute is that every tick of the clock brings
with it another space-age vendor dreaming up some new way to try to sell
you something or reach into your pocket. The relentless sameness of the
two-party political system is beginning to feel like a Jacob's Ladder
nightmare with no end; we're entering another turn on the four-year
merry-go-round, and the thought of having to try to get excited about yet
another minor quadrennial shift in the direction of one or the other pole
of alienating corporate full-of-shitness is enough to make anyone want to
smash his own hand flat with a hammer.

If you think of it this way, Occupy Wall Street takes on another meaning.
There's no better symbol of the gloom and psychological repression of
modern America than the banking system, a huge heartless machine that
attaches itself to you at an early age, and from which there is no escape.
You fail to receive a few past-due notices about a $19 payment you missed
on that TV you bought at Circuit City, and next thing you know a collector
has filed a judgment against you for $3,000 in fees and interest. Or maybe
you wake up one morning and your car is gone, legally repossessed by
Vulture Inc., the debt-buying firm that bought your loan on the Internet
from Chase for two cents on the dollar. This is why people hate Wall
Street. They hate it because the banks have made life for ordinary people a
vicious tightrope act; you slip anywhere along the way, it's 10,000 feet
down into a vat of razor blades that you can never climb out of.

That, to me, is what Occupy Wall Street is addressing. People don't know
exactly what they want, but as one friend of mine put it, they know one
thing: FUCK THIS SHIT! We want something different: a different life, with
different values, or at least a chance at different values.

There was a lot of snickering in media circles, even by me, when I heard
the protesters talking about how Liberty Square was offering a model for a
new society, with free food and health care and so on. Obviously, a bunch
of kids taking donations and giving away free food is not a long-term model
for a new economic system.

But now, I get it. People want to go someplace for at least five minutes
where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something. It may not be a
real model for anything, but it's at least a place where people are free to
dream of some other way for human beings to get along, beyond auctioned
"democracy," tyrannical commerce and the bottom line.

We're a nation that was built on a thousand different utopian ideas, from
the Shakers to the Mormons to New Harmony, Indiana. It was possible, once,
for communities to experiment with everything from free love to an end to
private property. But nowadays even the palest federalism is swiftly
crushed. If your state tries to place tariffs on companies doing business
with some notorious human-rights-violator state – like Massachusetts did,
when it sought to bar state contracts to firms doing business with Myanmar
– the decision will be overturned by some distant global bureaucracy like
the WTO. Even if 40 million Californians vote tomorrow to allow themselves
to smoke a joint, the federal government will never permit it. And the
economy is run almost entirely by an unaccountable oligarchy in Lower
Manhattan that absolutely will not sanction any innovations in banking or
debt forgiveness or anything else that might lessen its predatory influence.

And here's one more thing I was wrong about: I originally was very
uncomfortable with the way the protesters were focusing on the NYPD as
symbols of the system. After all, I thought, these are just working-class
guys from the Bronx and Staten Island who have never seen the inside of a
Wall Street investment firm, much less had anything to do with the
corruption of our financial system.

But I was wrong. The police in their own way are symbols of the problem.
All over the country, thousands of armed cops have been deployed to stand
around and surveil and even assault the polite crowds of Occupy protesters.
This deployment of law-enforcement resources already dwarfs the amount of
money and manpower that the government "committed" to fighting crime and
corruption during the financial crisis. One OWS protester steps in the
wrong place, and she immediately has police roping her off like wayward
cattle. But in the skyscrapers above the protests, anything goes.

This is a profound statement about who law enforcement works for in this
country. What happened on Wall Street over the past decade was an
unparalleled crime wave. Yet at most, maybe 1,500 federal agents were
policing that beat – and that little group of financial cops barely made
any cases at all. Yet when thousands of ordinary people hit the streets
with the express purpose of obeying the law and demonstrating their
patriotism through peaceful protest, the police response is immediate and
massive. There have already been hundreds of arrests, which is hundreds
more than we ever saw during the years when Wall Street bankers were
stealing billions of dollars from retirees and mutual-fund holders and
carpenters unions through the mass sales of fraudulent mortgage-backed

It's not that the cops outside the protests are doing wrong, per se, by
patrolling the parks and sidewalks. It's that they should be somewhere
else. They should be heading up into those skyscrapers and going through
the file cabinets to figure out who stole what, and from whom. They should
be helping people get their money back. Instead, they're out on the street,
helping the Blankfeins of the world avoid having to answer to the people
they ripped off.

People want out of this fiendish system, rigged to inexorably circumvent
every hope we have for a more balanced world. They want major changes. I
think I understand now that this is what the Occupy movement is all about.
It's about dropping out, if only for a moment, and trying something new,
the same way that the civil rights movement of the 1960s strived to create
a "beloved community" free of racial segregation. Eventually the Occupy
movement will need to be specific about how it wants to change the world.
But for right now, it just needs to grow. And if it wants to sleep on the
streets for a while and not structure itself into a traditional campaign of
grassroots organizing, it should. It doesn't need to tell the world what it
wants. It is succeeding, for now, just by being something different.

© 2011 Rolling Stone

As Rolling Stone’s chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors
include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J.
O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his
status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books
include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious
Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True
Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants:
Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.

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Life in the universe

It all starts with the
Big Bang; it slowly trickles
down to the Big Bung.


                                                          Shove Jove
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