First of all, thank you, workers, organizers, students, activists, farmers and dreamers of Wisconsin. You helped pave the way for mobilizations and actions around the country, including the Occupy phenomenon. You also boldly stepped into the electoral arena. An important step, and one that we should reflect upon and learn from in the spirit of moving forward, toward bigger, better street action that is both independent of, and, at times, well coordinated with, electoral engagement. You have much to build upon in Wisconsin, going forward.
This past week, in the span of 36 hours, we moved from the valley of despair, with North Carolina’s vote to ban same sex marriage, to the mountaintop of hope, with a sitting President affirming the civil rights of gay citizens. Yes, this was a notable first. It was a much-needed affirmation of basic rights and freedoms in the face of a majoritarian impulse to deny the rights of a minority. It was a reminder of the vital necessity of constitutional liberalism.
All eyes are on SCUTUS this week as they take up the case of Arizona’s draconian immigration law (SB1070). By the end of this session, the Court will have ruled on a wide range of social and economic issues, including health care, immigration and Affirmative Action. We can expect to see a pattern of radical --- dare I say 'activist' --- jurisprudence from the Roberts Court.
The stories about violent crimes were legendary. Yes, Cabrini-Green had gangs and drugs. But also, it had a community: neighbors who knew and cared for each other; extended families that looked after the kids. This explains why former residents can have such contradictory feelings when they share their stories. It also underscores why plans to ‘fix’ housing projects should have included the knowledge and experiences of residents.
Reading the arguments against the health insurance mandate that are being entertained by the Supreme Court this week leaves me feeling as if we are truly a morally-bankrupt nation. The fact that healthcare for over 40 million people is at stake is being treated as an unfortunate side-effect in the contest over who has responsibility for our nation’s health care system. And one of the leading arguments seems to be that we have no collective responsibility toward each other whatsover.
I’ll have to admit, following stories about the war on women has occupied much of my time of late; so much so that I’ve paid less attention to the accelerating war on the poor. Not being given to conspiracy theories, I’ll refrain from suggesting that this might be part of the point of the big “WoW,” to distract us from what they’re doing to the bottom portion of the 99 percent so that they can give even more tax breaks to the top 1 percent. Of course, women are justifiably alarmed by the recent upsurge in misogynistic rhetoric and action.
Masters of Diversion: Your game is slipping. I cannot speak for the Bishops, or pretend to fully grasp what motivates them. But I think I know what's driving the Republican leadership. It isn't necessarily birth control. And it isn't really about religious freedom. No. What motivates them is any and every chance to take a dig at health care reform. To dismantle it, and, in the process, foreclose any possible political advantages that it might bestow upon the President once people start to notice that they are actually benefiting from these reforms.
In the wake of Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to evict the OWS protesters from Zuccotti Park yesterday, pundits are asking: what will the protesters do now? Given the way in which OWS has catalyzed debate and action about reclaiming our institutions and reimagining our economy, and given that larger numbers of people are now naming the corruption of our political economy by monied interests as our nation’s greatest challenge, the question should be what will we, the people who make up the rest of the 99 percent, do now?
Since the colossal crash of our nation’s financial system three years ago, progressive and left social movement groups have been trying to legitimize a set of ideas around bottom-up democracy and a new, morally-grounded, equitable and sustainable economy. Related proposals have aimed to rein in corporate power and make government more responsive to the needs of workers and communities. The resulting showdowns, accountability sessions, negotiations to provide foreclosure relief and legislative battles for financial reform have yielded some impressive results.
Venture, if you dare, into our little shop of horrors, with plenty of frights and scares to turn your American dream into a nightmare.
Exhibit A: Last year's Halloween Party at a major mortgage-related firm featured costumes and props designed to mock the victims of foreclosures. The firm, Steven J. Baum, represents banks and mortgage servicers when they foreclose on homeowners and evict them from their homes. This kind of callous behavior speaks volumes about the mindset that prevails in many financial institutions.
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