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More On The Great Occupy Cooptation Debate, Welcome To Palestine Update, Dennis May Run Again

April 16th, 2012 - by:

My Latest Commentary Just Up On AlJazeera.com: Why Is The Election Coverage So Ridiculous?

Tomorrow is tax filing day in the US of A: The National Priorities Project Reports

Twenty-seven cents of every federal income tax dollar went to the military; 21.4 cents went to Medicare and other health programs; 14.5 cents paid for interest on the federal debt; and 12.2 cents funded Social Security, income security, and other labor programs

Occupy This

***In case you missed My latest Commentary on Occupy (Consortium News)

Adbusters Tell Me: Is Trashing Starbucks Now The Revolution?

Years ago, I was in Davos for the World Economic Forum. I chaired a panel organized by the group EYE ON DAVOS challenging this annual 1% corporate summit featuring corporate networking and a talkfest. Critics raised many important issues. There was also a demo. Some knuckleheads broke the windows in Starbucks in a great show of revolutionary fervor, forcing its closure and the denial of lattes to the masses and classes. Guess what was covered in the media: The solid critique or the pathetic “violence?” The next year, the police presence tripled. Something similar happened more recently in Oakland. What got covered? Nuff said.

On Saturday, I responded to one Occupy Supporter this way:

I have no doubt that MoveOn and others are envious of Occupy’s success and the brilliance of the l% vs 99% formulation and would like make it appear that it is their approach too. So what?

Imitation is common in business and politics. The social conservatives who intimidated Romney into taking up their issues saw that as an achievement. They influenced him. It was labor that pressured FDR to promote pro-union legislation in the 1930′s. They “co-opted” him. In principle, that’s what you want, even as the right retaliated by later driving radicals in the unions out.

Shouldn’t our goal here be to occupy the mainstream and try to shape the political debate to grow the movement and spread its stance. Shouldn’t Occupy be educating and trying to do outreach that brings others into some alignment with its goals.

Non-occupy groups like unions or black/latino etc community orgs should be encouraged to work with Occupy and take up its slogans without someone in Canada imposing a purity litmus test with self-righteous rhetoric. How “democratic” is that?

Endless talk of “co-optation” leads to conspiracizing that is paralyzing and diverts energy into internal warfare rather than movement building. Suddenly, there is the great morph in the minds of some where George Soros equals David Degraw and The Koch Brothers become Ben & Jerry. What nonsense!

Are we saying that Obama supporters are not welcome. Some in Occupy believe their process is their politics and anyone who is not into their version of horizontalism is a sell-out. That’s nonsense too.

I Ask An Accused “Co-opter” To Comment

By chance, political activist and Redeem The Dream founder Van Jones was on Reverend Jesse Jackson’s radio show Sunday, as was I. I asked him about the concerns I have been raising about excessive fears by some within the occupy movement about devious cooptation plots, presumably by him and MoveOn, an organization with which he is aligned.

First, he was not critical but very complementary to Occupy, and said they have changed the debate in the country, comparing them to the student activists in the civil rights era who “occupied” lunch counters, freedom riders who “ occupied” buses, and disenfranchised voters who “occupied” polling places.

Second, he said that there has to be a multiplicity of tactics in any struggle and that his view is “we have to march and we have to vote.”

Next, he said not everyone can spend hours at endless general assembly style meetings and that it will take a concerted effort to challenge the sophisticated tactics now opposing all activists for change.

He didn’t seem to think that Occupy has a clear message.

He repeated the view expressed in his book that many expected President Obama to lead the social movement after he was elected but, Van Jones believed, that was not his role. He says the Administration –every administration—responds to pressure and that one problem was on the movement’s part, that “we stopped marching.”

He also faulted the Administration for not understanding special movements and without mentioning Obama by name, said that it avoided all racial issues.

He implied that Occupy was a young movement and expected that it would grow in its approach to politics.

Van wanted to be on the inside –but was tossed out by Obama– under pressure from the right, who made his radical past an issue. He has every reason to be bitter about Obama’s spinelessness, but doesn’t seem to be. He understands that there are casualties in political warfare

Some in Occupy are like that proverbial mouse in a the hole, that looks up at the sky and thinks that the sky it can see from where he is is the whole sky. It isn’t.

There is a lot right about Occupy: The fierce determination of its activists and its openness to people from a variety of backgrounds—anarchists, libertarians, socialists, and communists. What they seem to have the most problem with are liberals with narrower visions. They don’t seem to have any strategy for building alliances and doing outrage. Hopefully a new newspaper and radio project will remedy that if they can get them off the ground.

I have found that many of the movement’s participants have differing views of where the movement is, and where it is going. Some like, a close friend and activist I spoke to yesterday remains a strong believer, but alsoe believes that General Assembly has lost credibility because the process can be so easily disrupted by individuals who want to block one measure or another.

He also thinks the process is utopian and ineffective and will be phased out. He told me about fist ights that broke out at some sessions and lots of tendentious arguing without any resolution. He also feels that some activists pay lip service to the spirit of consensus but then try to impose their will. He just quit one workgroup because of such a person who is pushing a personal agenda.

He says the movement is growing because of nearly 100 work groups that deal with substantive issues not internal process.’ That’s where things are going. Nothing stays the same.”

Historian Paul Buhle, who has just finished a comic on the Port Huron Statement writes:

“I agree with you about 95%, it’s the 5% that has me worried. Nobody knows what to do about Occupy winding down (except maybe to link with labor, which won’t work most places), and 99% becomes not a cruel deception but just part of the confusion. What do they INTEND to do with all these people who learn nonviolence? Direct action at what? It’s a puzzle.

Paul then supplemented his comments with this update:

Here’s a dissent (not DISSENT) voice from the Bay Area. My old pal Max, who says that in some places, the 99% workshops are going great.

“josh came over last night after being one of the leaders of a training here in oakland, sponsored by the grassroots organizing groups, almsot 200 people, mostly folks of color. a similar one in SF – and these were only two of many more in the bay area. josh’s report is that it went great. it will feed into major actions planned around here against wells fargo in a few weeks. he was also one of the folks in the national center of developing the trainings and is very excited about the process. so that’s just one report from a totally different direction.

there were probably 500 or more trainings around the country. i doubt 50,000 folks which was their target (another 50,000 taking a web version) – but i bet the numbers oare in the 10,000′s. it’s a broad coalition and the trainers come from diverse groups, and the trainings are sponsored by different local groups. some very good, some probably not so good. what else is new in politics? especially when folks try to get to scale out of the utterly fragmented and marginal left we have today.”

Another Paul, Paul McIsaac writes:

Several friends, knowing I produced a video called OCCUPY HISTORY (see below) that is now used for nonviolent trainings, have asked me if I think the 99% Spring training effort going on is a co-optation of the Occupy Movement. (If you don’t care, one way or another about this , please skip this email. But for many of us this is a major question….That is, “What is the future of the most energetic movement we have seen in years”).

Short answer is… I don’t think we know yet. This is a very dynamic moment…on one side, Occupy, the New, New left is growing, forming and probably too idealistic to be co-opted, yet. On the other side the “left of the Democratic Party” knows the current political system is corrupt AND is desperate to say in power. So who will push who here?

There are many articles out there and the debate is growing. I’ve read a bunch and offer you two that I hope will give you an idea of what’s going on.

One says, not to worry, no co-optation. Its by my old friend Danny Schechter…

http://consortiumnews.com/2012/04/14/is-occupys-purity-under-assault/

The other “proves”that the Dems are indeed out to take over Occupy.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/04/12/moveons-99-percent-spring-obama-and-the-dems-march-in-lock-step/#.T4t5bTWcehI.email

To see OCCUPY HISTORY go to…

https://vimeo.com/39866539

The password is — view

News

The story about Israeli attacks on non-violent protests that I reported Sunday finally made today’s New York Times:

JERUSALEM — Hundreds of police officers fanned out at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Sunday as Israel moved to block hundreds of pro-Palestinian campaigners from entering the country.

Pro-Palestinian activists were escorted onto a plane returning to Belgium at Ben Gurion airport on Sunday.

Organizers of the pro-Palestinian campaign said that more than 1,500 foreigners from at least 15 countries had planned to travel to Bethlehem in the West Bank for what they described as a week of peaceful activities in solidarity with the Palestinians.

But in an almost exact replay of a similar attempt by foreign activists to reach Bethlehem last July, most appeared to have been stopped at their points of departure after Israel instructed foreign airlines not to allow them to board their flights.

Israel had provided the airlines with the names of hundreds of people whom the government said would face immediate deportation. Once notified, the airlines would bear the responsibility and cost of flying the passengers back to their point of departure.

Here’s What The Palestinian Organization Organizing “Welcome To Palestine” Says:

“We did not have to show our 1500 visitors Israeli racism, arrogance, and
human rights violations; the Israeli government showed them and also showed
the whole world. Calling itself a democracy, this outlaw state denied the
right of people from around the world to come visit us and see for
themselves the reality of life under occupation.

We the Palestinian people are 11 million normal human beings, 7 million are
refugees or displaced people simply because they are natives to a land that
was wanted for a Jewish state. Five million of us are living in
increasingly shrinking ghettos on a tiny fraction of our land. We remain
here despite an illegal and brutal occupation that includes land
confiscation, movement restrictions, home demolitions, illegal imprisonment
of thousands (many now on hunger strike), and countless other inhuman
conditions.

We did not expect from this occupation that daily violates
human rights to also allow us as prisoners under its boot to openly and
honestly receive visitors. These visitors who wanted to come and see what
reality is like here certainly were shocked at the Israeli behavior. And
those who wanted to welcome our visitors and were brutally assaulted will
remember how the same Israeli police let right wing fanatics sing and
disrupt at the airport. The whole world is now seeing Israel for what it
is: a police state that fulfills all the requirements of being an apartheid
pariah state per the International Convention on the Suppression and
Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973).

Countries that once supported Apartheid in South Africa had people who
mobilized against it. Now people of conscience mobilize to challenge this
apartheid that is now so explicitly expressed.

Those airlines and governments that acted as subcontractors for the Israeli
apartheid regime are being challenged by their own people. In denying
boarding to a passenger by Air France, the airline documented that she
cannot board because she is neither Jewish or Israeli! (see in french
http://wtp2france.palestinejn.org, English:

http://palestinianspring.palestinejn.org)


Links To Israeli Press

http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4216059,00.html

http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4215916,00.html

http://www.mako.co.il/news-military/security/Article-02aa45b2ce3b631018.htm&sCh=3d385dd2dd5d4110&pId=565984153

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-blocks-entry-to-first-pro-palestinian-fly-in-activists-hundreds-more-expected-1.424321

ICH News

Cruel And Unusual Punishment
More Evidence U.S. Police Brutality Is Out Of Control
Video By CBS
“There is no jail in the United States that has this pattern of misconduct, of abuse and essentially sadism that the L.A. county jail has,” said Kaye. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31083.htm

Committing Financial Suicide to Appease Big Finance
Spain Marches Toward a Depression
By Mike Whitney
This is fiscal suicide authored by rightwing fanatics who want to use the ongoing crisis to impose their own business-friendly economic model on Europe. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31087.htm

Fear And The Coming Collapse Of Civilization
By Paul Gilding at TED2012
“The Earth is full.” It’s a terrifying concept. Have we really strained, mined and otherwise depleted the planet’s resources to the point where social collapse is inevitable? Gilding believes we have, and he launches into a defense of that notion. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31084.htm

Other News

OpEd News: Dennis Kucinich is seriously considering running for Congress in Washington State, where a group of progressive activists has set up a website and petition calling on him to run here.

SF Chronicle: “The open seat vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Lynn Woolsey of Petaluma is one of the few places in the United States where all but the two Republican candidates are running to the left of President Obama.”

LBN: FORMER DEM. CONGRESSMAN KENNEDY ALLEGES QUID PRO QUO FOR ACCESS TO WHITE HOUSE: Access to the Obama White House is in direct correlation to the amount of money donated to the presidents reelection effort and the Democratic party, the New York Times reports today. The Times reports: those who donated the most to Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party since he started running for president were far more likely to visit the White House than others. Among donors who gave $30,000 or less, about 20 percent visited the White House, according to a New York Times analysis that matched names in the visitor logs with donor records. But among those who donated $100,000 or more, the figure rises to about 75 percent. Approximately two-thirds of the presidents top fund-raisers in the 2008 campaign visited the White House at least once, some of them numerous times.

LBN: SECRET SERVICE HOOKER FLAP OVER $47 (OR JUST 83,475 NAUGHTY LIL PESOS):

A Secret Service agent shamed the United States after a wild night of babes and booze that ended in an argument with a Colombian hooker over as little as $47. One of 11 elite agents assigned to ensure President Obamas protection at a summit meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, was busted after his lady of the evening refused to leave his hotel room in the morning without her fee. That woman was one of 11 hookers hired by the agents and the only one who hadnt left Cartagenas swank Hotel Caribe, where White House staffers, members of the press and dignitaries are staying during the Summit of the Americas meeting, sources said.

It was Ted Offensive Time in Kabul

The Taliban demonstrated that it can be a lethal force—the US in response ridiculed their efforts:

KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban suicide bombers and gunmen barraged the diplomatic quarter of the Afghan capital and the Parliament for hours on Sunday and struck at least three eastern provinces as well, in a complex attack clearly designed to undermine confidence in NATO and Afghan military gains.

As night fell, there was still sporadic gunfire in the capital, and the police had cordoned off parts of the city. The airport was closed to traffic, underscoring that although the suicide bombers and gunmen were few in number, they could hold buildings for hours, disrupt normal life and terrify locals.

The simultaneous attacks — there were at least three in Kabul, two in Nangahar Province and one each in Paktia and Logar provinces — tested the Afghan military and police who responded in Kabul with minimal help from NATO other than back up from French helicopters and the small number of mentors that are embedded with some Afghan security units, according to Western military officials.

Response by Lt Col. Jimmie Cummimgs of the ISAF on the “good news,” of course!

….they did not breach the Green Zone at all. I think what’s good about this is the way the Afghan national security forces responded to today’s attack very quickly. And we’re also getting some unconfirmed reports right now that they have actually captured a number of the attackers and possibly a planner of today’s attack. And actually one of the reports indicates that they captured two possible suicide bombers before they reached their targets.

So I think the good news out of this today is how the Afghan national security forces responded to today’s attacks here in Kabul.

Fluent:’N. Korea’s Kim speaks publicly for first time’

From NakedCapitalism.comL On Criminal Manipulation of Food and Commodities Prices–MICHAEL GREENBERGER of the University of Maryland Law School speaks at a university forum.

“But there’s another problem here, and that is some of these participants—and I’m not saying who they are, but I’m sure there are enough there doing this that they are adversely affecting the price—are actually not just swamping the markets with investments, but they’re working with each other to drive the price up. That is a criminal problem. That is called criminal manipulation of the price. And that is why the president of the United States has now twice asked the Justice Department, once in April 2011 and once in March 2012, to please, please investigate these markets to see if there is criminal wrongdoing.

We had one remedial process fail by Wall Street lobbying, and that is limiting speculation to a reasonable part of the market. And the second part is failing because of prosecutorial laxity, which is going after people who are criminally working with each other to drive the price up. And the quickest way—within a matter of weeks, if there were a serious investigation undertaken, if the FBI was called in, if records were subpoenaed, if market participants were interviewed and the Justice Department at least gave an indication, as they did when they went after the Enron conspirators in the early 2000s, that they were serious about this, just the appearance of a serious investigation would cause the criminal speculators to scatter like cockroaches scatter when lights are turned on….”

Comment by former FBI agent Colleen Rowley on the Tarek Mahanna Case I featured in yesterday’s blog:

This has to be one of the most egregious post 9-11 cases yet. He was sentenced 17.5 years for translating internet materials. Many legal analysts are claiming this to be one of the most damaging cases to the First Amendment. Mehanna’s sentencing statement is so true, it should gives us all chills:

This is SO WRONG!!! We have to hope that it will be reversed on appeal or our US war fever will break and people will come back to their senses. The Government, in its arrogance, insists, like “Minority Report” that it knows when people are being “radicalized” and therefore can be put away pre-emptively —in this case for 17 1/2 years—for “material support to terrorism”. Actually the reason for his prosecution is that he turned them down when they (probably the FBI) wanted to make him an informant. The government’s arrogance is matched by the public’s fearfulness, after a decade of propagandizing, and susceptibility to wanting to believe their government is “protecting them” when in fact everything done under the illegal “war on terrorism” since 9-11 has backfired and increased the level of worldwide terrorism. Coleen R.

It’s official. There is a Muslim exemption to the First Amendment….

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