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Hullabaloo


Saturday, February 26, 2011

 
Lot's happening only some of it real

by digby

These are the stories at the top of my newsfeed.

Republicans:
Tea party supporters packed a Phoenix convention center Saturday to hear from two possible contenders for next year's Republican presidential nomination — an election the conservative populist movement is determined to help shape after its success helping the GOP in the midterm elections.

The weekend summit, which was organized by the Tea Party Patriots group and had more than 2,000 registered attendees, gave potential candidates a chance to connect directly with a segment of voters who have shown that they get to the polls on Election Day but are skeptical of the political establishment.


Democrats:

White House chief of staff Bill Daley has told Democratic activists to "keep up the fight" and not lose faith despite continued hard economic times.

Daley recalled the days after the November elections, when Republicans won the House and increased their ranks in the Senate.

He said the conventional wisdom was that President Barack Obama's agenda had stalled. But by year's end, Obama had a tax-cut deal with Republicans, the Senate ratified a nuclear arms treaty with Russia and Congress approved the long-stalled repeal of a ban on openly gay military service.


Embarrassing, isn't it?

However, while reading those two article together makes it seem that the allegedly populist Tea Party is an up from the bottom movement of ordinary Americans while the "activist" Democrats being addressed by a corporate centrist are driven from the top down, both parties are answering to the same powerful forces. The Tea Partiers are carrying out their agenda the same way that Daley's activist at the DNC are, even if they don't realize it. Nothing the Tea Partiers are doing in any way truly threatens the goals of the oligarchs --- Koch and Murdoch wouldn't be backing them so strongly if it did. The main economic differences between the parties at the moment are between the free market neo-liberals in the Democratic Party and the crude Randian market fundamentalists in the GOP. "Populism" isn't really at play in either of those stories.

But there is something else happening that really does threaten the status quo. Here's Mike Elk, reporting from Madison:

"My father always said during a strike is when we would rebuild the labor movement," said Sadlowski, a veteran organizer whose father famously vied to head the United Steelworkers of America in the late '70s. "We are proving it right here."

Older union organizers have been sharing their experiences organizing in the workplace with students who have never engaged with the labor movement before. Some youngsters have been so inspired that they are talking about dedicating their lives to it.

"Everyday I come down here I just feel like we are winning," said Andrew Cole, who is in his twenties. "We are just a bunch of people standing around a Capitol talking together and singing songs, but through this collective voice we have been able to define the national debate about unions."

Likewise, young and optimistic organizers have been giving older ones, beaten down by years of anti-union actions, new ideas -- and new hope that it might be possible to rebuild the much-decimated labor movement.

Sadlowski has served as a bridge between the two groups, often coordinating communication among protesters occupying the Capitol. "I think what we created here is the first true labor temple" he said. "Coming down to the Capitol is a lot like coming to church. It's rejuvenating; it's a spiritual experience for a lot of people."

But unlike a church, where people go home at night, hundreds of protesters have turned the Capitol into their temporary home. People have been sleeping there overnight since Tuesday Feb. 15. They eat meals there, and go to nearby houses and dormitories to take showers.

In the early days, the Capitol occupation was almost entirely coordinated by the Teaching Assistant's Association, the union of teaching assistants at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. But other unions have become more involved in occupying the Capitol since, organizing groups to clean the building and provide food and supplies for people camping out there. Local pizza businesses have been experiencing a mini-boom as people from all over the country and even the world have called in delivery orders for the protesters, while Midwestern grandmothers with thick Wisconsin accents stop by to deliver trays of food cooked at home. In one back hallway, you can find tables full of food as well as boxes of donated supplies like toilet paper, water, toothbrushes, soap, spare hats, scarves, and gloves that are free to take. This level of organization is what has made it sustainable for hundreds of people to more or less live in the capitol building of a major Midwestern state.


And then there's this:


Anonymous, the notorious collective of unnamed Internet activists, is declaring war on the controversial Koch brothers. In a press release this weekend Anonymous accuses the brothers and their financial empire of attempting "to usurp American Democracy," and call for a "boycott all Koch Industries' paper products." Anonymous accuses the Koch brothers of taking "actions to undermine the legitimate political process in Wisconsin."

David and Charles Koch of Koch Industries are billionaire brothers responsible for financing numerous conservative causes and Tea Party activities. In their press release Anonymous claims:

The Koch brothers have made a science of fabricating 'grassroots' organizations and advertising campaigns to support them in an attempt to sway voters based on their falsehoods. Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth and Citizens United are just a few of these organizations. In a world where corporate money has become the lifeblood of political influence, the labor unions are one of the few ways citizens have to fight against corporate greed. Anonymous cannot ignore the plight of the citizen-workers of Wisconsin, or the opportunity to fight for the people in America's broken political system. For these reasons, we feel that the Koch brothers threaten the United States democratic system and, by extension, all freedom-loving individuals everywhere. As such, we have no choice but to spread the word of the Koch brothers' political manipulation, their single-minded intent and the insidious truth of their actions in Wisconsin, for all to witness.


Things are happening that threaten the elites of the current gilded age. But not at that dog and pony show in Arizona (even though the sincere believers among the Tea Partiers think it is) and certainly not at the DNC meeting featuring a pep talk by Bill "JP Morgan" Daley.


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