Friday, August 12, 2011

Bright nights in England

Trying to suss out what's up with England and the riots.

I think about a shop window in one of these neighborhoods. The neighborhood bit run down, folks are poor-ish and work a lot, there's a working class and street sensibility. I see the shops with the finest merchandise in the window - 100 pounds, that's a bunch of money. I see the crowds mounting and building in excitement and then a window breaks and things start tipping over into a moving frenzy.

You have a job, but it's not too good, and you don't get many hours. Or you have two jobs and it's too many. Or you got messed up in an accident and are off work, and they're cutting your benefit.

There's problems with the bank, or the Tories, or the wogs. There's people that turn their backs on you. You just got dumped by your love interest. The boys just like to get out and break things.

When something burns, the crowd feels power. Where else do they feel power? At work? At the ballot box? On the underground? At home?

The broken store window is a powerful icon for us in the Western world. Because on the one side are the beautiful people and the beautiful things. Your beautiful home or your awesome outfit. They're there, you can see them, but you can't touch them because they're under glass, and you're underemployed, and they cost more than what you have.

The breaking of the window is the breaking of the social contract; or rather the economic contract that the shop owner wants to transact. The one where you don't get to touch. That protection of property is so key to capitalism. To keep people who could break that window and take it - as we see they can do - to keep them from picking up the brick is one of the main reasons we have police and laws and all that.

But these windows, these capitalists, it's like they mock you. They build up the need, in their commercials (another store window where you can look but not touch) and in their magazines and their bus adverts and there in the windows. And now you're angry, you and your mates and the bloke down the way are out and feeling the power. There's some whining, but the pigs are out of the picture and the night is hot and yours and smells like smoke.

So you lift a brick and break the window and put on some shoes. And you run and you feel free.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Religion, politics, S and P, race, London Burning!

Gave at talk tonight to the Network of Spiritual Progressives; a group of mostly un-churched lefty religious who wanted to hear about organizing or something.

Was good, but had problems with my computer and freaked myself out. Also there was a fire alarm to start the evening. Also I have an 8 AM morning meeting. Ugh!

A few of the cool things I found around the intertubes today:

Great rant about Standard and Poor's rating shift - blatant self promotion and a transparent effort to regain credibility was the gist - at Daily Kos.

Bullshit race killing caught on tape in Mississippi
, nothing like a little random hate lynching.

OMG London is burning!
I guess when you crap all over people for a while they get pissed off and wreck shit. I was wondering if England United were involved - the right wing fascist soccer hooligans that the Norway killer was involved with - but can't tell. Even London Indymedia is puzzled.

Anyway - here's my takeaways from the NSP discussion; pay attention to the wage divide, fight back against the religious right, and you'll get your morals dirty if you actually get things done. But that's life.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

FCKH8 Video rocks, bad article written about video, friend with cancer

The new video from the folks who did the hilarious FCKH8 campaign against California's Prop 8 is for Minnesota's own straights-only marriage amendment, cruising to a heavy loss in 2012.

These always make me cry, it's so beautiful the pride and sillyness and anger and positive energy that comes out of here. It's to the point, powerful, makes people stand up and take note.

Unfortunately I found out about this at the worst article I've ever seen at the Minnesota Independent, which has routinely been awesome sauce for left wing politics. Andy Birkey there has been great with Bradlee Dean stories, relentless and original reporting about Michelle Bachmann. And then he pops up with a story that says "Radical Gay Video Hated by Right Wing and Left" (specifically, Minnesota Family Council, LGBT Activists Pan FCKH8 video)

So much wrong - I wonder if he wrote the headline.

First, neutralize the radicals is the first step in the right-wing plan to break up our social movements (us, the good guys). Toxic Sludge is Good For You lays out the plan that ad agencies pitch to industries facing attacks (such as the beef industry for bad beef in hamburgers). Basically, they say "demonize the radicals, co-opt the moderates, and try to get the amoral power-freaks to take over" (this last see Norm Coleman.)

This takes all the energy out of the sails, and shifts the frame of the debate to the right. You will notice the Right uses their crazies to move further to the right all the time, while the left is too busy shoving the radicals down the hatch (ACORN, anarchists at free trade events, socialists in the labor movement in the 50s, etc.)

Second, it's the "false equivalence" dodge that the Right uses to force debate to the right. "Both sides use violent imagery" was said after Gabrielle Giffords was shot - when the actual evidence is the Right used huge amounts of way more violent imagery and messaging (and in Rand Paul's case, attacks on people) and historically (lynching, the Klan, the Know Nothings, etc) they do too.

Third, it's not even true. The folks from Minnesotans United For All Families don't throw FCKH8 under the bus at all - they just say it's an outside group, their message isn't about hate, and then they repeat their preferred framing. (Exactly what they should do.)

This, by the way, is the Minnesotans United message. Repeated because it's a good message.

“We are talking about love and commitment not hate. Hate has nothing to do with this, but love and commitment do because that’s what marriage is. It’s the definition of what marriage is.”

And then they find a blogger who says 'those crazy faggots went too far' and bada-bing, one activist (who I know nothing about, he might be cool otherwise) becomes all LGBT activists in the headline.

So anyway, totally read the Minnesota Independent; it's great reporting. But send Andy and/or his editors an email asking them about this post.

(Oh, and a good friend of mine just had a recurrence of cancer, so I'm bummed about that too. That would be the Facebook part of me putting the personal in the post.)

Monday, August 01, 2011

New job, checking in.

If you know me, I'm somewhat more active on Facebook lately. Just now trying out turntable, off a recommendation from Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon lately.

Now, I should toss the links into this but that's what makes blogging harder, more like work.

Self-indulgent rumination, however, isn't as fun as real interesting commentary.

So - new job, about two months ago. Same thing I was doing before for a much bigger organization. Gonna have to see how it goes! Seem pretty cool.

turntable -

pandagon -

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

To all those who are veterans - and to never again creating a new combat vet. Hey, while we're at it, how about the House Republicans start fully funding vet's health (yes, the rich can pay more taxes to take care of a poor kid back from two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan who twitches when he hears fireworks) and how about the Obama Administration start taking on the military-industrial complex and get the hell out of both Iraq AND Afghanistan. (Of course, the bloodthirsty armchair warriors will want to start something somewhere else, probably in South America...)

Got a new job. Feeling like making some changes; might start blogging more.