Sunday, October 30, 2011

Early and Often

The night before the l994 Republican sweep of both Houses of Congress, Mary Matalin in a CNN interview said that her party was well organized and would win big. She was right on both counts. The host responded by suggesting that a low turnout would benefit Republicans, a logical assumption with which Ms Matalin strongly disagreed, evidence of the then current sanctity of a high voter turnout.

My how things have changed! Now newly elected Tea Party sponsored governors and state legislators are openly attempting to discourage disenfranchised and minority voters, people who tend to vote Democratic, with unprecedented and unfair voter ID requirements. The pretext for this is alleged voter fraud which, from what’s been proved, is in the low single digits in even in the most populous voting districts.

An increased voter turnout, while not a certainty, is a likely consequence of Occupy Wall Street. Some previous voters in this group may choose to abstain given the results produced by the current crop of office holders. But the people now in the streets are young, bright and, above all concerned. I don’t see many of them sitting out Election Day. The fact that the criticism is coming from the political right, i.e. Fox News, strongly suggests the direction of the movement. Given a choice between Obama, Romney and a third party candidate I see the president coming off with a majority, the size being the only question.

Right wing criticism of OWS has made so many different disparaging connections that it’s hard to keep track of them. The only one with a superficial resemblance is with the hippie’s of the “60s and early ‘70s whose main cause was opposition to the Vietnam War. Of course there were others. Remember the Symbionese Liberation Army, whatever it stood for? But it was opposition to the war that gave the movement respectability. If you question this just think   “domino theory”

Those protests slowed and stopped in tandem with the Vietnam War. Today’s OWS people are victims of a system tailored to the benefit of corporate bandits that has left them with bleak prospects, possibly for a lifetime. The system and the thieves won’t be going away on their own any time soon. Neither will the victims.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wall Street to Main Street

My last letter, in late September, dealt with the lack of media coverage of the current anti Wall Street movement. Since that time the bulk of news coverage has dealt with two subjects. One is the Republican Presidential debates to which I say that any subject involving reference to Herman Cain as a potential president is absurd by definition. The other is the move front and center by “Occupy Wall Street.” It is a development of such potentially monumental proportions that I’ve been hesitant to comment on it, other than to wish the participants the best.

That was until last night when I heard Michael Moore advising the protestors not to limit their demands to financial reform, but to go for the whole ball of wax in correcting the nation’s ills. I disagree, not with his opinion on these subjects of course, but with this tactic. The new crowd has a powerful single issue, particularly as more people realize that they are among the 99% who don’t benefit from the status quo. Try arguing gun control with someone as upset as you, but who insists on a person’s right to carry a gun into a bar from which he might not be allowed to drive home .You’ve lost him right off the bat. There’s even a plank in the Tea Party platform condemning Wall Street for the TARP bailout, conveniently blaming Democratic support in Congress. This reasoning conveniently ignores the fact that President George W. Bush requested and set it up during the last four months of his administration.

Critics accuse these people of advocating redistribution of wealth. But every change in our fiscal structure does just that. As time passes, even the time between now and the election, more voters will realize that for the past thirty years wealth has been redistributed in the direction of those who need it least. Simple arithmetic says that the redistribution should be reversed. The question is how much? Is it too much to ask the very richest Americans, whose annual income exceeds what most of us consider commensurate with a high life style, to pay higher taxes on only their excess income. The answer depends on the size of that marginal increase, but clearly something beyond single digits

The same people speak of this new movement as socialistic and it may be; but no more so than laws that were enacted as a consequence of the Great Depression and served us well until they were repealed when America began to feel good about itself. Too good! The hair of the dog may be OK for an occasional hangover, but this one is now a binge that has lasted too long. There’s a time for the bartender to eighty six the worst drunks and that time is now.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Street

Unless you’re one of those bleeding heart liberals who tune in to MSNBC, you may not know that there have been hundreds of people literally on the street, Wall Street, peacefully protesting what they consider the wrongs being committed by the lords inside those proximate hallowed halls. The press in general has paid scant, if any, attention, including that left wing bastion, the New York Times which covered it on page 18 of Thursday’s edition under “Local” news. The contrast in media coverage between this and Tea Party demonstrations is striking. Suspicious minds might even conclude that the media as a whole are biased to the right rather than left, as the Philistines claim.
There is visual evidence of police misconduct, something well short of the Rodney King episode, but still inappropriate and unwarranted. Minor beatings and pepper sprayings of individuals to whom a particular cop may have taken a dislike have been recorded. The commissioner of the city’s Police Department, in support of his troops, has criticized the protestors for “tumultuous conduct.” Heavens! I just hope they didn’t use obscenities.
Nothing of this restrictive nature seems to happen at Tea Party shenanigans even though many demonstrators have been pictured holding guns. Of course they weren’t loaded and there’s not a shred of evidence that the demonstrators’ conduct was tumultuous.
A viewer seeing both types of rallies must notice that the Tea Partiers are considerably longer in the tooth. My thinking is since they’re now getting what they’ve paid for from a system that was working, they’re obsessed with the possibility of having to pay one red cent, because changing circumstances may demand it, in order to give someone else’s offspring opportunities equivalent to what they had.
The battle lines have been drawn and, in my admittedly biased opinion, I think it’s the right wing that has drawn them. They may win the battle next year. But there’s no question who will win the war. It’s only a question of when.