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  • Indeed.

  • Depends on whether you admit bottom-up strategies. Even spontaneous bottom-up strategies with locally accountable coordinators. Movements happen unpredictably. And can shape local politics dramatically.

    What is high-cost is suppression of voting. The powers that be have spent billions of dollars over the past thirty years upping the ante on media mobilization costs.

  • Nothing terrifies government more than a large number of people who could do potential damage but have the self-restraint no to do so, especially on their opening strategy. Peaceful persistently non-violent protesters with citizen journalist coverage dropped to servers terrify the the police chiefs of America. Thousands (millions?) of tech-savvy hackers who do no more than extract a small range of documents or trash a web-site interface terrify government agencies and corporations worried about accountability. Millions of autonomous activists who might or might not show up for a call for action terrify the powers that be.

    Self-restraint seems to be an effective tactic in and of itself. Especially when there are examples like the thorough exploiting of Aaron Barr’s systems down to his iPhone that show the potential capabilities of the hacktivist community.

    The fact that Anonymous is Exhibit A in cyberthreats reflects the mentality that persistent peaceful protests are Exhibit A in real space threats. The excuse for both is the threat of embedded terrorists. The likely reason is cover for suppression of dissent.

  • Class differences manifest themselves in voting systems that systematically disenfranchise people who cannot control their working hours so as to go to vote. They also manifest themselves in the availability of time to run for office and serve as a public official. These fundamentally bias elections toward middle class voters who can take off from work, have available time for voting outside of work, and have employers understanding (even collaborating) in periods of public service during typical work hours.

    These issues go beyond the simple siphoning off of local money into misguided, wasteful, and media-subsidizing major party campaigns and the national infrastructure that leeches off of them.

    The issues in Ferguson need addressing in the composition of the City Council and St. Louis County Council. Even if nominally non-partisan, partisan resources typically sway the balance of these elections. And parties control access to these resources, which ups the ante for any candidates seeking office independently.

    However, in local and county elections, sufficient organization behind the scenes can surprise parties in a low-turnout election. Representation is not sufficient. Any insurgent candidacy needs control, which generally means winning in at least two cycles.

    The trap of using elections as a tactic is they creep into being the only strategy because actual governance takes so much time and effort especially when there is political conflict and parliamentary and legal warfare going on in the governing body. They can become huge diversions from getting things done even if the established parties are not sucking the air out of the room.

    The other trap is that policy success at the municipal level can trigger a reaction in the state legislature that closes off that success for all municipalities in the state. For example, local success in enforcing development buffers around water sources caused the North Carolina to strip planning and zoning powers to enforce water quality from municipalities and counties.

    At the moment, elections provide at best rudimentary firewalls against total stupidity. But that has to be sorted out on a candidate-by-candidate basis and some races offer few protections even for local candidates. When those firewall situations actually exist, it is wise to vote even for someone like Thad Cochran, to use a recent tactic by black voters. In the South, a substantial number of black voters are registered Republican specifically to vote in Republican primaries for the lesser of two evils. And they typically are ticket-splitters in the general election (which is yet another relatively low-cost tactic). Where there are multiple candidates in a district, often the ballot allows voting for only one candidate, which lowers the other candidates’ margins (called “single-shotting”); this can often get a preferable candidate elected by a minority of voters.

    Compared to effective protests and demonstrations (not to mention actual revolutions) electoral tactics are relatively low in cost and allow organizers more easily to mobilize people. That is why they become the seductive “only way”. What they require is a critical mass of voters so that policies actually have a chance of change. Progressive despair over numbers is the primary reason that so many dismiss electoral tactics altogether. IMO, despite the shortcomings and traps, that is a mistake.

  • TarheelDem commented on the diary post Real Fiscal Responsibility 2; Carter: Stagnation and Unemployment by letsgetitdone.

    2014-09-01 05:42:30View | Delete

    I suspect that governors, who have legislated balanced-budget straightjackets to contend with, are typically more inclined to take a deficit reduction approach when they become President. They have four years of practice in balancing budgets. They run on their record of balancing budgets in their states. Economists, like generals, tend to fight the last war. [...]

  • TarheelDem commented on the diary post Real Fiscal Responsibility I: Preliminaries by letsgetitdone.

    2014-08-31 18:07:57View | Delete

    Real fiscal responsibility creates infrastructure that enriches the lives of everyone in the population, lowers the cost of transactions, enables more efficient use of natural and scarce resources, and contributes to prosperity for everyone. The New Deal turned out to be fiscally responsible. The Cold War and the subsequent War Without End has been demonstrably [...]

  • So all of the police have become the equivalent of federales in other countries?

  • Until a cop with a Beretta says it isn’t. It’ll take years of litigation to prove him wrong and extract a cash settlement from his employing government.

  • Possession is 9/10 of the law. If you can’t leave because you;re in custody as a practical matter it doesn’t matter if you are under arrest or not. Nor does it matter that there is a Fourth Amendment to the Constitution under those circumstances. It is what is called “extralegal detention” and we will see whether St. Louis County, the nominal folks calling the shots has to pay a lawsuit from NLG for illegal detention.

  • TarheelDem commented on the diary post Fascism in Cleveland Faces a Voter Revolt On One Hand, Defiance On the Other by Ohio Barbarian.

    2014-08-30 07:31:39View | Delete

    Did Cleveland contract with a Texas-based company to process the tickets and collect the money? If so, it is likely that people are being scammed by the set-up of the equipment to always err on the side of issuing a ticket. Next wrinkle. Installing EZ-Pass and trying to charge for public roads. More and more [...]

  • “Pilot program” re-raises my question about how deeply the DHS Fusion Center was involved in the coordination, if not the management, of the response to the protests.

    The arrests of NLG observers is consistent with the police attempt to shut off all independent sources of reporting about what they are doing. It is of a piece with the threatening and arrest of citizen journalists and the abuse of Wall Street media journalists until they show themselves compliant with the police story.

    If this is a pilot program, its replication in other situations depends on interagency training through groups like the Police Executive Research Foundation or federal promotion of the techniques through DOJ COPS and DHS.

  • Obama does not have a strategy yet because the US military has not given him one yet that he will accept. But not having a strategy does not stop the drums of war from beating. Especially at budget time. Especially at the time of the NATO Summit in Cardiff, Wales.

    Nice of him to take the heat off the generals. Also no strategy delays Congressional authorization of military aid to the Free Syrian Military forces. Doesn’t mean however that John Brennan’s good buddies in Saudi Arabia and Qatar are not continuing to ship arms to Syria.

    Saudis claim they have a just-in-time deal on nuclear weapons with their good Wahabist ally Pakistan. That is no different than the US deal with Japan and South Korea.

  • TarheelDem commented on the diary post So, I Asked the Russian Ambassador What He Thinks of NATO by David Swanson.

    2014-08-27 05:56:38View | Delete

    Before NATO is shut down, the US people must recognize that they have been occupying Europe for seventy years–that it has not been and is not now an actual alliance of equals, given the forward deployment of US troops in European territory.

    Excellent job, David.

  • TarheelDem commented on the blog post Right Wing’s Latest Target: Poor Children Who Need Food

    2014-08-26 09:51:22View | Delete

    Let’s bring back the welfare stigma. And let’s apply it properly. First up to be stigmatized for their dependance on welfare instead of work are Lanny Davis and Daniel Payne. And then there’s Sarah Palin and even Howard Dean (unless he’s gone back to being a physician.) And of course the welfare queens: Ann Coulter, Amity Schlaes, and Michelle Bachmann.

    Daniel Payne likely has no clue of who is actually working and working hard in America’s new normal economy.

  • The little towns are where future members of Congress from those regions learn their stuff. Thanks for this comment, littler.

  • Let’s look at those statistics correctly:
    67% are black
    86% are employed
    78% live about the poverty level
    79% do not receive food stamps

    This is a suburban community, a middle-class black suburban community. Look carefully at the backdrop on the Vice interview with the kids of Ferguson. Look at the kids. Impeccably clean clothes. Fixed up houses. Reasonably nice cars.

    This is the world that 1970s urban planners said would deal with low-income housing problems in a way that did not create large areas of slum housing, would deal with social problems and crime problems and foster education and the motivation to get educated. This was the logic in shifting from public housing to Section 8 rental assistance (aside from the privatization aspects).

    So what do we see? The deliberate impoverishment of schools and overpolicing through white minority control of government and the use of fines to offset increases in tax rates. Even as state and federal governments cut back on infrastructure aid for schools and social services and even as federal policy perpetuates unemployment and underemployment.

    The black community as a community is doing everything that whites say they need to do to get ahead, to lift themselves up by their bootstraps, but as they get close to parity, whites impose new obstacles–bogus charges to give people criminal records and make them unemployable, starving the public schools.

    Even. In. A. Modestly middle class. Suburban. Community.

    With a relatively low real crime rate for communities its size.

    Just think about that. No wonder the MO GOP is terrified that these people might register to vote (and folks like them across the northern suburbs of St. Louis). People who have not voted because they have been too busy working to stay middle class might suddenly have a new reason to take the time off to vote.

  • TarheelDem commented on the blog post Discipline and Punish Dissidents

    2014-08-24 14:44:36View | Delete

    Good to see you here, Norske.


    But the first, seemingly impossible task, is to even the information battleground because 30 years investment of billions of dollars has gotten the people who should be tearing down the status quo defending it with virulence and propping up the artificial divisions. And making the job scared even more job scared, hunkered down, and outwardly apolitical.

    It’s the how to do, not the what to do that is still unclear.

  • TarheelDem commented on the diary post 15,000 March Across Staten Island to Protest Eric Garner’s Murder by Police by wendydavis.

    2014-08-23 20:07:35View | Delete

    And because of a federal court judgement the rules of engagement have changed for protests. The ability of citizen journalists to video police actions is much more strongly grounded in law than two years ago. Plus Oakland PD is working under a court judgement.

  • TarheelDem commented on the diary post 15,000 March Across Staten Island to Protest Eric Garner’s Murder by Police by wendydavis.

    2014-08-23 20:04:30View | Delete

    Something is moving again, isn’t it. Block the Boat delayed an Israeli-flagged ship for 4 days in Oakland. And have delayed one for 1 day in LA and Tacoma. Those are not insignificant costs for the Israeli company that owns them. Chicago Slutwalk turned out thousands for Stop Rape Culture. Moral Monday turned out several [...]

  • TarheelDem commented on the diary post Ohio Governor’s Race: You Can Stick a Fork in Fitzgerald, He’s Done. by Ohio Barbarian.

    2014-08-23 18:22:21View | Delete

    Forget the governor, what does the Secretary of State race look like? And how is it that all the “give me an alternative folks” aren’t flocking to the Green candidate? Does that candidate have worse problems than Fitzgerald, or is it just the lack of geographic dispersal of Greens across the state? Good analysis of [...]

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