Wow! It has been nearly three weeks since the last Occupy the Blog! diary. While we have reached the doldrums of the winter, the Occupations around the country are still performing their activities, big and small, and making an impact on the world.
Kyushukev has kept us informed about Occupy Nashville here, here, here, and here as they have watched the state legislators pass a bill against camping on state property which the governor then signed. From the last link:
On Friday, 2 March, Governor Bill Haslam signed into law “the measure that makes it illegal for anyone to camp on state-owned land that is not specifically designated for that purpose.” Gov. Haslam also gave Occupy Nashville a seven day notice to leave or face the maximum fines of $2,500 and /or 11 months and 29 days in jail, echoing an earlier comment made by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey .
Last Saturday, the feeling was that Haslam would act sooner rather than later, but as of today, ON, although reduced to a lone camper and his tent, is still on the Plaza.
Chris Humphrey has decided to sacrifice himself to test the new law. “I believe in going hard or going home, and I ain’t got a home.” He added that, “If I have to sit in there, I’ll sit in there for a year or six months,” he said. “I’ve been here for five months. I’ve been through tornadoes, the cold. I’ve been frostbitten and all that. I don’t care about six months, sitting in no jail.”
There are a lot of embedded links in that snippet and the other linked diaries so I urge you to click through and read but this picture does capture the feeling:
You may notice a slight difference in the lede of this post from a lot of the postings I’ve done this past year. Since the Firedoglake Membership Program began last Match, I have started most of my diaries here at MyFDL with the following:
Author’s Note: Please take a few minutes and Join the Firedoglake Membership Program today. FDL provides the tools that help me and others extend our reach with our rants, so we need to support FDL when we can.
I’m not real sure why I have done this other than I believe in Firedoglake and what Jane Hamsher ‘s team is doing and have ever since I first discovered FDL back during the Libby Trial days.
When the Membership program first began, I made phone calls to welcome folks to their new Firedoglake Membership. Many of the folks I called when the Membership Program began were individuals whose nom de blogs I had seen in the comments across multiple FDL posts. There were many more folks who joined FDL who had never commented at all but had lurked and enjoyed the original reporting and snark and activism of Firedoglake.
During this first year of the Firedoglake Membership Program, we have seen members only webinars with guests such as Alan Grayson or Michael Moore, just to name two. You might have seen the news reports that came out of the Michael Moore visit because he proposed Matt Damon as a candidate for president!
Even more important has been the creation of Occupy Supply as support for the various #Occupy Wall Street and other local efforts across the country. Hearing the reports from the local Member Liaisons at the twice weekly webinars and reading the diaries they post at MyFDL has re-newed my hope that we can effect the change needed. As Brian Sonenstein said in his diary yesterday:
But financial support alone would not have made Occupy Supply what it’s become. Our extensive network of member-volunteers providing intimate ground support across the country is what has made Occupy Supply an important fixture of the movement. These passionate, devoted members have taken up the important and often difficult role in the movement of caretaker, source of moral support and sometimes even mediator. They do so much more than just deliver supplies; they attend GA’s, march, protest, do maintenance work, speak with the protesters about their problems and concerns, provide a hot shower, warm bed or hearty meal when Occupiers needed a break, help fight eviction, do outreach to the community, etc.
Of course, FDL members have supported and taken part in many other FDL/Member actions besides Occupy/Supply, including actions in Congress, audit the Fed, Just Say Now, and protests involving Bradley Manning and opposing threats to Social Security and other vital programs.
For as little as $5 a month or $45 a year, you can join the Firedoglake Membership and help support the activism. At this time last year, none of us had any inklings of how the Membership and the state of activism in the US and around the world would evolve. Join with others as we start Year 2 of this particular journey. And for all the folks who have already joined, my most heartfelt thanks for your continuing support for what Jane has established here.
Author’s Note: Please take a few minutes and Join the Firedoglake Membership Program today. FDL provides the tools that help me and others extend our reach with our rants so we need to support FDL when we can.
So, I guess it has been a rather eventful week in the world economy and the lives of the Beltway Village Idiots Politicians, Pundits, and Courtiers. I’ll let Paul Krugman and Jane Hamsher do the honors of eviscerating the Standard & Poor downgrade of the US credit rating but do want to add my 2¢ in agreement that supposed neutral arbiters who sold their souls and “independent analysis” for the banksters crappy mortgage based securities should be well advised to STFU rather than interject themselves politically.
To the non-surprise of most folks living in the reality based world, the passage of the debt ceiling increase did absolutely nothing towards improving the overall economy and the budget slashing accompanying the increase is likely to push the economy back into recession (at least that’s my prediction here, here, and here). Reuters had this on the “small blessings” of the debt deal:
The plan for $2.4 trillion in spending cuts over a decade, if backed by lawmakers, would help lift some of the uncertainty that has weighed on investors, businesses and consumers unsettled by talk about a possible new and deep U.S. financial meltdown.
Instead of increasing confidence in the future, the agreement seems to have underscored the near paralysis in Washington — and the fact that no substantial new efforts are likely for dealing with unemployment, lagging consumer spending or a host of other problems that have been dragging the economy down.
The stock market provided an early indicator Monday that investors and business leaders saw little to cheer about. Stocks initially rallied on the debt-ceiling pact, then tumbled after a report showed that U.S. manufacturing activity slowed sharply in July, reinforcing other weak economic data.
As always though, my foremost interest is in the Jobs Reports. Or maybe better phrased as lack of jobs reports. The ADP report on private sector jobs came out Wednesday and had it as 114K jobs (via Reuters), although this was offset by Challenger-Gray reporting that planned layoffs had jumped once again to the highest number in 16 months. CNN had a nice little article on the top ten latest “job killing” companies.
Thursday brought the weekly report of Initial Unemployment Claims for last week. Reuters reports it:
Initial claims for state jobless benefits edged down 1,000 to 400,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists had expected claims to rise to 405,000 and the dip last week indicated an easing in layoffs, which have weighed on employment in the past two months.
The official BLS numbers on jobs created for July came in at 117K. The most interesting part of the reporting on the BLS number is how many media sites put on the rose colored glasses to report. CNN’s headline (linked above) was “Hiring Picks Up” while the Washington Post presented it as”Cautious relief amid modest job growth.” The NY Times headline read “US Posts Stronger Job Growth in July” and Bloomberg said “Payrolls Rise, Jobless Rate Falls, Concerns Ease.” I think the LA Times may have provided one of the more realistic looks at the Friday report with this headline “Jobs report doesn’t offset U.S. recession fears.” The fact is, 117K new jobs, in an economy that needs to create 1 million jobs a year (roughly 90k per month) just to stay even with folks entering the work force, is no where near enough to attack the long term un and underemployment problems we face.
For a bit of comic relief, I’ll leave you with this article from Bloomberg this past Monday headlined “‘Embarrassed’ CEOs Silent on U.S. Debt Debate Driven by Republican Demands” combined with this one from Reuters from last week on hedge fund managers refusing to comment on the economy. So much for the best and brightest on Wall St I guess.
And because I can (H/T Old Folks Boogie on Facebook):
As I wrote back before Mother’s Day last May, I love strong women. The strong women associated with Firedoglake were a prime attraction when I first discovered FDL way back during the Libby Trial days. It took me a while to figure out things as I would read a post and comment thread and want to reply to some comments but noticed that the last response on a thread might have been hours before and not wanting to waste my NSVHO on the ether, I held off.
Then one day, I arrived just after a new and interesting post had gone up and was able to jump right into the conversation. Ever since that day, FDL has been a life saver for me. It has been a place where I could have “conversations” with people all over the country and all over the world and keep my brain exercised. It is a place where folks recognized the disastrous nature of the US economy years before the financial markets crashed and the official beginning (and end) to the Great Recession. I have been well aware of how bad the economy was as before my last lay off in ’04, I was working under state and local government contracts supporting the development of social services applications. States have been cutting budgets in those areas for years now. At FDL, I found others who recognized just how bad things were then and who were able to make accurate predictions on how much worse things would get.
When I first came to FDL, the culture was for a comments thread to reach upwards of 200 comments, then a new post would go up and everyone would rush upstairs to read and comment on a new topic. And yes, I captured a few “Zeds!” in those days. I learned what it meant to be EPU’d. I was cautioned by the Mods to avoid ziggurats. (For the uninitiated, “ziggurats” occurred when there had been multiple levels of comments and replies using some of the older blog software so that all the indents began to look like a bunch of sideways steps.) I learned what words to avoid or to change the spelling of to avoid having my comments having to be freed by the Mods. This was in the days before FDL asked for folks to register and all we had to do to comment was enter a “nom de blog” and email address and start commenting.
I have watched front pagers at FDL come and go. Christy. TRex. Ian Welsh. Dave Neiwert. Spencer Ackerman. I have watched this section of FDL move from “Oxdown Gazette” to “The Seminal” to “MyFDL.” One of the constants through all the moves and changes and new blogs being added on has been the consistently high quality of the writing and the myriad of topics covered.
I have also been honored over these years to be asked to provide an occasional post. I have written a Saturday morning “Pull Up a Chair” and a Sunday night “Late Night” post. I have hosted a Book Salon and a Movie Night (and will be hosting another Book Salon in a few weeks as far as that goes). I have had some of my diaries be cross posted to the FDL front page. And yes, I’ve had diaries that I thought might be worthy wind up scrolling right off the pages with nary a comment but so it goes. There is so much content available at FDL and partners and nowhere near enough time for any one person to read it all and still have a life.
All of this is by way of saying that Firedoglake, that “foul mouthed fem blog” as it has sometimes been known in some not so savory quarters (such as inside the Beltway,) has provided information and entertainment. I’m pretty sure that the Libby Trial helped set the standard for “live blogging” such that now, most all news organizations at least attempt the feat, though few are as capable as the experienced folks at FDL such as Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher. These are just a few of the reasons that I believe the Firedoglake Membership program is worthwhile. Can you add a few more?
As I often do, yesterday afternoon I was lurking around during the Book Salon. As the son of an English teacher/librarian, and nephew and cousin of teachers on both sides of my family, I like book discussions even if I can’t afford to buy too many of them these days. I can still read the introduction by the host, ask an almost pertinent question then sit back and lurk as folks with active brains go into the full discussion.
David I think the key to most of the conversation this afternoon is the difference between the folks who are liberal on social issues (such as Pro-choice, marriage equality, the environment and so on) are not all the liberal on economic issues – or at least don’t appear to be so to those of us who are not worth millions.
Edit: At one time, folks who fit this description were often called “Liberal Republicans” but that breed of human seems to be mostly extinct nowadays
I think that is a very good analysis of what’s happening within the Democratic party.
And there we have it all, IMNSVHO. The battle for the soul of the Republican Party is pretty much at an end, with the social conservatives having won. The Republicans who at one time were identified as "liberal" or as Rockefeller Republicans have moved on (think Jim Jeffords of Vermont or Lincoln Chafee). Other examples of folks who left/were pushed out of the Republican Party over the years include Lowell Weicker of Connecticut, defeated in 1988 by Joe Lieberman and Jacob Javits of New York, defeated by Alfonse D’Amato in 1980.
While the more well known Rockefeller Republicans were concentrated in the northeast and New England, they were actually sprinkled all over the country, including states such as Kentucky (John Sherman Cooper). However, over the last fifty years, while the Republican Party has moved further and further away from many of the aspects of social liberals, those individuals who self identified in support of social liberal causes: pro-choice, civil rights, marriage equality, ERA, and so on, had to leave the party or modify their views to keep getting elected.
So where have these socially liberal people moved to in their political affiliations? The Democratic Party where they have been mostly welcomed.
However, by welcoming all these socially liberal former Republicans (or individuals who probably would have identified with the Republican Party in earlier times), the Democratic Party has welcomed people who, while socially liberal on many issues, are often economically conservative and who stand at odds with the historic Democratic Party commitment to those less fortunate and to economic justice. They seem to actively work against the unions and against laborers.
By embracing the economic conservative refugees from the Republican Party, the Democratic Party has lost it’s moorings and base. It leads to people calling economic liberals "fucking ret*rds." It leads to the President and Vice President proclaiming that the base just needs to forget all the giveaways to Big Pharma and Big Insurance and get over it and get excited because the other guys will be worse.
I’ve been coming around to Firedoglake and hanging out for about five years now. I think I actually first discovered FDL a bit before the Libby trial (via Huffington Post) but it was definitely the Libby trial that got me paying close attention. It did take me a bit of time to really figure out the commenting system at the time. Not that it was difficult to post a comment but I’m arrogant enough to want my comments read rather than have them just be "EPU’d."
I forget the exact date but I guess it was about three and a half years ago that Jane did a post suggesting that FDL commenters and readers join Facebook and "friend" each other and try to build off the larger community. As a help, she’d had the programmers set things up that we could link to our Facebook profiles through FDL (that’s the little Facebook "F" that appears next to some folks FDL nom de blog)
I am so very thankful to Jane for that suggestion.
Because of Jane’s suggestion, I was able to get to know a few folks out in the South Central Texas (Austin to San Antonio) area when I was living in San Antonio. We got together for a couple of picnics where I was able to meet "TexBetsy," "Gnome de Plume," "YellowdogJim," and "greenwarrior" among others. I missed out on a couple of the picnics or that little list might have been a bit larger.
But as much as Facebook helped me to contact and become "friends" with fellow commenters across the country (and over half of my Facebook Friends list is comprised of people I "know" through FDL), it has allowed me to connect and re-connect with family and friends and former co-workers from almost every time of my life.
Not long after I had joined Facebook, I realized that my younger cousins just might already be on there so I went looking and lo and behold, there they were. I started with Katie and through her, found her sisters and her first cousins (granddaughters of one of my fist cousins). Now the family members include cousins that I don’t think I’ve actually met face to face, or at least, I have not met them as adults. And their spouses or significant others.
It was also through Katie that I started re-connecting with people I’d grown up with and gone to grade school and junior high with in our small home town. Now, I have many of my former classmates (who just celebrated their 40th high school reunion a couple of weeks ago) as Facebook friends.
I have friends who attended the same small military high school as I did. There are a couple of college drinking buddies on the list, a couple of folks with whom I worked when I was in the USAF, and other people with whom I’ve worked over the years.
There are friends and connections with my sister and brother who are also on my Facebook friends list. There are children and grandchildren of friends and family who have accepted my Friend requests or whose requests I have accepted.
All of this is just by way of saying a big thank you to Jane Hamsher for having made the suggestion to join Facebook. It’s possible to ignore all the Facebook games and such yet still use Facebook to re-connect with formerly lost aspects of a lifetime.
Have I mentioned recently that I NEED a FREAKIN’ JOB?
Whew. OK, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to the top stories of the day.
It seems there were some elections yesterday of the Primary type nature with the results being a confounding mess primarily to those Beltway Villagers who sit and talk amongst themselves about how wonderful all their fellow eaters of cocktail weenies are but have no clue about life out here in the rest of America.
So we get to read the "analyses" from the pundits who latch onto the easiest theme that reinforces what they already felt, regardless of reality (such an unreal concept reality is). Hint: the elections in KY, PA, and AR were NOT purges from the left or right.
Let me see if maybe a few headlines from today’s news sites on the web can maybe explain a bit of the disconnect. From the NY Times we have this
Bill Halter’s no raging liberal. But he is a Democrat, whereas Lincoln is a corporatist. Those looking to interpret the race’s results on a strict right-left continuum are going to miss the relevant dynamics entirely.
It’s not that voters had any knowledge of this when they went to the polls yesterday. It’s that they’ve seen shenanigans like this consistently for the last five years. They’ve seen it on the Military Commissions Act and the Iraq funding bill in 2006, the FISA bills in 2007 and 2008, TARP in 2008, the health care bill in 2009, and now FinReg in 2010. They’ve seen defeat grabbed from the jaws of victory over and over and over again, and they simply have lost all trust in this crop of elites to do the job. And it’s hard to argue with the public on this one.
We are not stupid. We are not mushrooms. Many of us get our news from multiple sources specifically to avoid being sucked into the single source spinmeisters. We make informed decisions. We are angered by politicians who attempt to use wedge issues. We are angered when we see science ignored then see political and corporate talking heads saying "But no one could have anticipated…" while the next article quotes the scientists who did in fact anticipate something.
I don’t particularly care to be angry all the time. It is decidedly counter-productive. Yet, it is almost unavoidable when folks in power are lying to me and I know that they are lying and they know that I know and do it anyway.
The politicians who won races yesterday are not perfect. Most of them are no where near as liberal or progressive as I am. But so far, most of those politicians have not lied to my face. They aren’t p*ssing on my leg and telling me it’s rain. And they haven’t (yet) crawled into bed with the corporatists and lobbyists.
At one time, there were leaders at all levels of politics in the United States and it wasn’t that long ago. Now, we see ads for folks running for office proclaiming that they are not professional politicians but just concerned citizens (who happen to be millionaires/billionaires able to self fund) What a world and nation we’ve become where the rich become viable candidates because they can self fund their campaigns and buy elective office.
Forgive me for ranting but right now there are far too many problems facing us as a nation and world where business as usual in the beltway does nothing for us but exacerbate the mess.
I always have loved Strong Women. Growing up, they were all around me, so it was the normal way of life. There was my mother, who returned to college when I was seven to complete her degree and become an English teacher. She continued on and received her librarian certifications. She died 23 years ago this past Wednesday and I still miss her.
A couple of years after Mom had returned to school, her sister also returned to college to finish her degree and became a first grade teacher as she raised her son and two daughters after a divorce.
It goes back to my grandmother who was the most gracious woman I’ve ever known. She was divorced when my Mom was two and Aunt Pat was new born and raised her daughters as a single mother. She was helped by her older sister who got a job and helped support the family through the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s. Edie was often not the easiest person to know but we all knew her strength.
As gracious as my grandmother was, she was also my most fierce defender. When some of her friends complained about my growing a mustache when I was 17, they soon learned that she was not their ally. (I’m named for her father and we do look somewhat alike although his mustache was a Walrus rather than a Handlebar.
There’s my beautiful sister, Cissy, who realized very early that she wanted to be a reporter and writer and has been able to make this her career. She has been the one who does the camping and canoeing and the outdoor life while being quite capable when she has to play Martha Stewart. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago and was facing chemo, she threw a party so her friends could give her caps and scarves since she knew she was going to lose her hair. She was facing what life brought her and refusing to give up.
There’s my lovely sister-in-law, Rita, who has had the strength to put up with my brother all these years, which is a feat in itself (he’s more stubborn than I am and that says a lot.) It’s probably not enough for sainthood but the Karmic positive is huge!
My cousin Mary, Aunt Pat’s oldest daughter, is a Navy veteran who met her future husband when they served together. After they married, she brought him back to our hometown where she raised two beautiful daughters of her own, both of whom are now mothers with daughters as well. Anna, Mary’s oldest daughter is – surprise! a teacher. And there’s Mary’s younger sister Jane who has the strength of innocence to guide us all.
From my Dad’s side of the family, I was too young to really know my Grandmother Taylor but I know she was a strong woman. She helped my grandfather run his farm and they ran a roadside restaurant together while raising seven children, five sons and two daughters. And as a further indicator, I have the knowledge of Dad’s oldest sister who ran the farm while her husband was the local county clerk. Dad’s other sister, my Aunt Sara, received a mathematics degree in 1929 and taught for years while raising five daughters, all of them Strong Women.
The trigger for me to write this diary was a picture one of my cousins posted to her Facebook account that was taken just last Saturday of my first cousin Peggy, Aunt Sara’s second daughter, and her seven granddaughters. Peggy has two daughters and a son and is a retired teacher. I really wish I had a copy of that picture for you to see these seven young women and “The Matriarch.” There’s Whitney, a PhD in Industrial Engineering sitting there as well as Katie, a Master’s candidate in Architecture (already LEED certified. Megan is a second year pharmacy student, and Katelyn is a Family Services major. I’m not positive but I think Lindsey is a nurse (like her mother). I don’t know what Lauren and Jessica are majoring in but I know they are a couple of good hunters and Jessica is a champion cutting horse rider.
Strong Women all.
Now I’ve mentioned roughly a third of my female cousins here and mean no disrespect to the ones I’ve not mentioned. Peggy’s sisters have another four daughters plus granddaughters. My father’s older brothers managed to not have any daughters but still married Strong Women and at least my oldest first cousin had four daughters to go with three sons. I look at the generations of women from the Taylor/Vanderen and Osborne families and see the strength of the Mothers and Grandmothers reflected and carried on for the future.
All of them Strong Women.
Teachers, nurses, journalists, administrators and management, executives, housewives, mothers, geeks and nerds, sorority women, athletes, bodybuilders, and legal assistants. These are just some of the careers and interests of the Strong Women in my family.
I’m sure it was the examples of all the Strong Women in my family that brought me to Firedoglake in the first place where the writing of Jane Hamsher, Christy Hardin Smith, and Marcy Wheeler told me I’d found some more Strong Women to admire and love. The many other writers and commenters just helped make the place feel like home.
Strong Women all.
You want to know what I think makes a Strong Woman? They are women who refuse to be limited and force the rest of us to accept them in their humanity. They refuse to be limited by stereotypes and they lift us all with their strength.
As you look around on Sunday and toast your mother, have a second toast for all the Strong Woman that you know.
MyFDL is the community site of progressive political blog Firedoglake. Anyone can participate by writing a diary, commenting on others’ diaries, or joining groups to find other people in your area. Content posted to MyFDL is the opinion of the author alone, and should not be attributed to Firedoglake.