Chris Hedges made a few waves with his recent piece describing the black bloc as the cancer in occupy.
I believe in diversity. I think diversity is a fundamental natural law of the universe. But I understand that human beings have a tidiness gene that makes us think that we can organize and be more efficient through suppression of diversity, by rejection of the natural order and diversity that constantly arises and evaporates back in to the order of chaos. Chaos is not merely disorder. There may be a level of order benefit and diversity in chaos that is not easily observed and is under-appreciated.
The black bloc tactic is something that arises from police violence toward non-violent protest and the willingness of society to choose order over the bedrock right to peacefully assemble and petition for redress of grievance. Diversity of tactics and tolerance of the diversity of tactics is something that I embrace whole-heartedly. Things can go wrong. I have seen that. Things can go right. I have seen that as well. I am usually pleased to see a black bloc tactical option in a crowd of protesters.
Good day yesterday in Cascadia as the Washington State leglislature moved gay marriage forward through Senate vote. The gov put her weight behind this legislation, apparently trying to establish some kind of legacy public policy. I am completely supportive of the gay marriage legislation, but I have to wonder why the dems will only push one small part of a progressive agenda at a time. The public is crying out for significant change in public policy and the dem party is such a timid organization.
In another section of the Senate, I believe the Washington Investment Trust remains stuck under the thumb of roadkill Senators Steve Hobbs and Mary Haugen. Lots of good information about public banks at Banking in the Public Interest. This is an idea whose time has come. Banks for the 99%. Please. Let's do that, shall we?
Want to let Steve Hobbs know what you think about his roadkill status?
How about Mary Haugen?
Steve Hobbs Steve.email@example.com
Mary Haugen firstname.lastname@example.org
Can we help these two get scooped out of the middle of the road where they are doing no discernible good? Is there an election coming up?
Let's help these folks join our neighbors who are out there looking for work, shall we?
Well, the snow is melting, the power is coming back on in the Puget Sound region and the sky was blue yesterday afternoon. The snow was really pretty for a day. then it was really wet and sloppy for a few days. Now it's gone.
Here is a news report from OilPrice.com: Study Finds that Childhood Leukemia Rates Double Near Nuclear Power Stations hmmm... that doesn't sound good. I think the jury is in on nuclear power. TEPCO buried the Fukushima nuclear reactors and the industry, but the fallout from the experiment with "cheap" nuclear power will be with us for a long time. Frontline just came out with program - Nuclear Aftershocks. Haven't seen it yet, but Frontline usually does a good job, so plan to watch that one.
Oilprice.com is a good reference site for all things energy. Particularly good for keeping track of ... oil prices! I haven't spent a lot of time on the site, but it seems pretty technically sound, non-partisan. If/when I will draw from oilprice.com I am sure I will be cherry picking for the information and stories that have a progressive edge.
We need transcendent, transformative politics in this country and the world, but the mainstream paradigm remains a struggle between established power bases - one, a social democrat model as epitomized in Scandinavian models and the other, a Thatcher/Reagan model of social darwinism wearing a mantle of trickle down, supply-side economics. There is no question that I prefer the social democrat model, but I think neither model is particularly well-suited to the challenges that the planet is cranking up to deal with a species that is out of control.
Greece's experiment with austerity politics in a time of economic stagnation proves once again that pulling more money out of a economic system that has a crashing demand side will cause the economic system to slip to a lower state. It doesn't seem to matter if all of the most photogenic politicians that money can buy are spouting platitudes about "growing the economy" by reducing debt, austerity politics just don't turn stagnating economies around. You do austerity politics in good economic times, you do keynsian economics in economic downturns if you want somewhat stable economies. You also need a stable and consistent tax policy that generates the revenue needed for public services. You don't flatten taxes in boom times because you will need the accumulated revenue when the boom times go... well... boom!
The brightest moment in the Jan 3rd meeting with Senator Fraser, Representative Hunt and Representative Reykdal came when Chris Reykdal took the opportunity to talk about the impasse that exists with generating revenue for the State. Reykdal had campaigned for election to the legislature on tax fairness and he appears to be willing to make efforts on that question. Chris described the revenue proposal that he and freshman Senator David Frockt will be putting on the table.
Reykdal and Frockt's proposal will eliminate the State business and occupation tax (B&0). This element of the proposal is expected to be attractive to the republicans. According to Reykdal, republicans really hate the B&O tax. I will take him at his word on that, but I haven't been able to identify any tax that our current generation of republicans don't hate. I guess there is some reason to believe that republicans prefer regressive taxes like sales tax that are paid disproportionately by middle and low income citizens.
Senator Fraser, Representative Hunt and Representative Reykdal all spoke on January 3rd about the "big achievement" of the recent Special Session that was able to cut 480 million dollars to reduce the budget deficit, about 25% of the amount that it is assumed will need to be cut. There was some sense of dread about the next step - the process of cutting another 1.5 billion from the State budget - that is going to be front and center in the Regular Session that starts on January 8th. And there should be some dread about that.
This group of legislators does seem to have gotten and absorbed the message that this next round of cuts will contribute to the death of some folks in the most needy, most disabled segments of the State population and they appeared to be rightfully horrified about moving from legislative death of a thousand cuts to an actual headcount of citizens who will need to be buried in the coming biennium as a result of legislative action.
I attended a meeting with the Thurston County legislators on Jan 3rd. The three legislators are not firebrands, but as a group, representing a community, they (Reykdal, Hunt, Fraser) are probably about as liberal a group as any one community could send to Olympia to develop Washington State public policy, but there is the problem: they don't seem to see how they can really develop public policy at the legislature. The meeting was organized and facilitated by Molly Gibbs, friend and organizer in the Move to Amend organization. Molly's energy is a local treasure.
This is my second meeting with this legislative group. We (a bunch of leftist activists of various stripes) met with them (minus Reykdal for that meeting) in November 2011 to discuss the Special Session. It was clear in that meeting that Senator Karen Fraser and Representative Sam Hunt are really fine people, with all of the right intentions, but without any of the street-brawler tools or impulses that are required to enact public policy in Olympia today. I did what I could in the November meeting and again yesterday to move this group off of their "poor me, poor us" frame of reference and to motivate them to enact progressive public policy, but frankly, I don't know if these folks can imagine throwing down the gauntlet and taking the fight to the other side.