AlterPolitics New Post

Rebuttal To Sam Seder’s Insistence That Voting Third Party Would Setback the Progressive Cause

by on Friday, November 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm EDT in Election 2012, Politics

Sam Seder recently invited veteran activist and Naked Capitalism Contributing Editor Matt Stoller onto his radio show to discuss his recent piece on Salon, entitled “The progressive case against Obama.” The discussion turned a bit testy as they battled around the logic behind voting for a third party Presidential candidate. You can listen to their debate HERE (begins around the 12th minute).

As a follow up to that debate, Seder posed the following question to Stoller, Chris Hedges, and everyone else who believes that the best way forward for progressives is to support third party candidates:

How does voting for Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson speed up the building of a movement that is a counterweight to corporate power?

Seder contends that progressives became more conscious of the struggle between the people and corporate powers under a Democratic President (Obama) than they had under a Republican one (Bush). That these 99% vs 1% lines were essentially drawn BECAUSE we had a Democratic President, and that another term for Obama would only help to grow this populist movement. He adds that if Romney were to become President the “economic injustice” movement would just transform into an “anti-Republican” one.

I disagree with Seder’s arguments. I would contend that the party of the sitting President was irrelevant to the occupy movement. Rather, the timing of the movement was driven entirely by the economic pain, as it spread across the entire industrialized world.

It makes perfect sense that the movement formulated during Obama’s term, because the financial meltdown occurred in the final months of the Bush Administration. During those last few months, Hank Paulson terrified Congress into signing TARP, and the monthly unemployment numbers skyrocketed in a way not seen since the Great Depression. And as State tax revenues began to dry up shortly thereafter, severe austerity measures were imposed at the local level — resulting in laid off school teachers and other government workers. I.e. It took a couple years for the economic pain to spread and manifest into that progressive populist movement.

Though this movement against economic injustice would have happened regardless of which party occupied the White House, if there had been a Republican President, the crowd numbers would likely have been even twice as large. Why? Because THERE ARE many Democratic partisans whose entire socioeconomic POV fits nicely and neatly within the Democratic-Republican paradigm. These types would protest for any liberal cause — just as long as a Republican President or Governor could be linked to the blame. Many of these Democrats belittled occupy’s efforts BECAUSE they couldn’t co-opt the movement for Obama. This would have been a mute point if a Republican were in power.

For proof, one must look no further than the hundred thousand protesters who stormed the Wisconsin State Capitol under Republican Governor Scott Walker in protest of that Republican-dominated state legislature’s assault on collective bargaining.

As far as Seder’s central question: “How does voting 3rd party speed up the building of a movement that is counterweight to corporate power?” — what he refuses to acknowledge is that the populist ‘movement’ he speaks of has NO political representation in Washington. NONE. ZERO.

In fact, many in support of the movement he cites actually helped to usher Obama into the White House in 2008, and are now fully cognizant of the fact that Obama has been 100% complicit in the destructive policies that have rewarded moneyed interests off the backs of the American people.

The important question — the one that Seder does not want to ask — is how does a movement go about making a non-representative government more representative? Especially, when the party traditionally allied to that movement’s ideology — the Democrats — now operate with the understanding that there are no voter repercussions for anything they do — an understanding spawned by Seder’s very own “lessor of two evils” mindset.

Take Obama’s entire first term. He broke promise after promise — selling out to corporate interests, degrading our civil liberties, declaring war on whistleblowers, etc — BECAUSE of the calculations he made with regards to progressives having nowhere else to go. So, if voters reward Obama for having made this insidious calculation against them, how would that actually work to change his or future Democratic Presidents’ behavior?

It wouldn’t.

It would achieve the very opposite by reinforcing the idea that Obama’s strategy in deceit is not only a winning one, but actually minimizes political risks. Why? Because unlike voters, the entrenched corporations — with hundreds of millions of dollars at their disposal — do have somewhere else to go. Republican, Democrat, … makes no difference to them.

The message an Obama victory would send to all future Democratic Presidential Candidates is: run and win on a popular progressive platform, and then, like Obama, pull a ‘bait and switch’ — with the goal of building up your campaign war chest in corporate money, and with impunity since progressives have nowhere else to go.

So my question to Seder would be: How successful can any peaceful populist movement be if it remains completely loyal to a political party that feels free to cavalierly ignore their wishes, while reaping tens of millions of dollars in political donations for having done so? 

Politicians must be conditioned to understand that there is a political price to be paid for selling out the voters’ best interests. This underlying principle is the essential cornerstone for all representative democracies. If the voters are too timid to punish the politicians for betraying their interests — as Sam Seder argues they should be — then politicians will naturally continue to betray their interests.

Seder’s strategy of voting Democratic, no matter what, trades away all long-term progressive opportunities for little more than a slight reduction in speed of this nation’s rightward acceleration. Like a CEO forever focused on meeting next quarter’s earnings estimates, while paying no attention to the overall degrading health of the organization he runs.

Voting third party is a strategy that works to re-align the interests of elected officials with the interests of the people, by making them understand that progressives do in fact have somewhere else to go. Governments which believe themselves to be unaccountable to the people they govern are not democracies. And that is the crisis we face.

MUSIC: Ziggy Marley, Chuck D, And Linda Perry Release Catchy Occupy-Inspired Reggae Tune

by on Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music, Occupy Wall Street, Politics

Inspired by the Occupy movement, Ziggy Marley, 4 Non-Blondes’ Linda Perry, and Public Enemy’s Chuck D recently collaborated in the studio, producing a very catchy reggae song, entitled “Can You Feel It?” 

Inspirational political songs, these days, seem few and far between. Too often the lyrics come off as preachy and amateurish, and fail to provoke any passion or soul. Marley, Perry, and Chuck D managed to pull it off with this track. The political verses work, and the soulful Perry-led chorus will leave you humming the song long after it ends.

“Can You Feel It?” was released in June as a download to “enjoy, and share around the world freely.” You can visit Marley’s site for the FREE DOWNLOAD, or you can just listen to it here:

YouTube Preview Image

In the latest issue of SubMerge Magazine, James Barone interviews Marley, asking him about writing “Can You Feel It?” and what inspired him about the Occupy movement?:

Marley: … I was just happy to see people standing up for something at that level where it’s not about a student or religious thing, or even a politic per se, it was just a people thing … and how the economic structure of America seems to have been manipulated by those who have this inside knowledge or inside track. The common people don’t have that inside thing …

I want to see more of that. What I knew America for was that, really, people standing up in the streets and protesting things, and changing things… During the Gulf War and even after that, I was wondering how so many things were being put over on the American people. How are all these things being done, and the American people seem to not be involved in it?

I was just happy to see the people up and about and giving the system a run for its money. That song was a part of that.

The interview is only a couple pages long and delves further into Marley’s impressions of the Occupy movement and his opinions on the American political system. For those interested, the interview can be read in full here.

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Welcome To The Police State, Where You Must Fear Your Freedoms

by on Friday, August 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm EDT in Justice System, Occupy Wall Street, Politics, WikiLeaks

Anaheim Military Police – by Tim Pool (UStream)

Since September 11, 2001, discerning Americans have watched in dismay as their government has stripped away their most basic freedoms, and continues to mutate into something resembling a police state.

Sweeping cell phone surveillance is used by all levels of law enforcement. The NY Times recently revealed that an astounding 1.3 million law enforcement demands were made to cell phone carriers last year alone.

The telecom and technology sectors record and store Americans’ text messages, emails, the data they store online, social site user info, internet activity, and cell phone subscriber whereabouts (via cellular GPS technology), and hand this data over to government agencies with alarming regularity.

Private citizens used to be deemed ‘off-limits’ to law enforcement surveillance, unless a judge could be convinced to grant a warrant. This was precisely what separated the United States from the despotic nations of the world. 

But now, all 315 million Americans are subject to warrant-less, Orwellian-style surveillance. The amount of data being collected daily on normal Americans trumps what might have been captured on made members of the Gambino or Genovese crime families just two decades ago. But unlike those notorious Mafiosi of yesteryear, Americans today are not legally protected from overreaching law enforcement, due to the kinds of data now being collected.

Two weeks ago, former NSA Technical Director William Binney shocked attendants at the DefCon hacker conference when he made this revelation:

[T]he NSA was indeed collecting e-mails, Twitter writings, internet searches and other data belonging to Americans and indexing it.

“Unfortunately, once the software takes in data, it will build profiles on everyone in that data,” he said. “You can simply call it up by the attributes of anyone you want and it’s in place for people to look at.”

He said the NSA began building its data collection system to spy on Americans prior to 9/11, and then used the terrorist attacks that occurred that year as the excuse to launch the data collection project.

“It started in February 2001 when they started asking telecoms for data,” Binney said. “That to me tells me that the real plan was to spy on Americans from the beginning.” […]

“The reason I left the NSA was because they started spying on everybody in the country. That’s the reason I left,” said Binney, who resigned from the agency in late 2001.

Now, WikiLeaks and the Anonymous hacktivist collective, have released new information garnered from the Stratfor email hacking of last December, that sheds light on a new secret TrapWire surveillance system. TrapWire was created by a N. Virginia company called Abraxas, whose employee roster “reads like a who’s who of agents once with the Pentagon, CIA and other government entities.” 

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to access the emails at WikiLeaks (or any of its mirror sites) today, because as the whistleblower group began to release the Stratfor emails related to TrapWire, it suddenly came under a uniquely powerful distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. The group’s administrator believes the attacks are state-sanctioned, as it is unlike any prior DDoS attack they have experienced. Here are a series of WikiLeaks Tweets from today, regarding the scale of these attacks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

So what is TrapWire, and why has its leak created such a commotion? According to reporting at RT, TrapWire is a detailed surveillance system that “can collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition, draw[s] patterns, and do[es] threat assessments of areas that may be under observation from terrorists.” Anything suspect gets input into the system to be “analyzed and compared with data entered from other areas within a network for the purpose of identifying patterns of behavior that are indicative of pre-attack planning.” 

According to the article, this system has been secretly installed in most major cities and around landmarks across the United States, in Canada, and in the UK. Most local police forces are installing their own monitoring software that works in conjunction with TrapWire. Private properties, including casinos, are now signing up to TrapWire. Essentially, it sounds like Big Brother identifying you, watching you, assessing your every move for abnormalities, then indexing your behavior.

With 9-11 as its catalyst, the imperative for 100% terrorist-attack prevention has emerged as the overriding national doctrine. Despite coming at the expense of Americans’ most basic rights, it is one of the few remaining issues that enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support.

Even the disturbing revelations surrounding Obama’s Kill List have provoked little, if any, scrutiny on Capitol Hill or in the mainstream media. As a U.S. citizen, you may now be assassinated by your own government, based on mere suspicion. No warrants, no due process, no trial, no oversight. You merely cease to exist at the mere whim of a single U.S. politician. If that level of despotic power doesn’t encapsulate everything we know to be true about police states, then what does?

Conventional wisdom now has it that to prevent another terrorist attack from occurring somewhere on U.S. soil, everyone should faithfully and obediently submit themselves to the realities of a police state. And to ensure your compliance, the FBI has even attempted to plant fear and suspicion of Americans who stubbornly continue to value their privacy. 

Are you concerned about online privacy? Do you pay cash for your coffee at your local coffee shop? Do you ever shield your laptop screen from fellow coffee shop customers, so that they cannot read your private emails? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, the FBI believes you fit the profile of a terrorist, and the agency has distributed flyers to coffee shops around the country asking them to report you. 

In other words, those same terrorists who Americans were told “attacked us for our freedoms,” now just so happen to be the very ones who value those freedoms the most, and act to preserve them. 

To create the intimidation factor required for any self-respecting police state, those who serve in our local police forces are now being militarized for the first time ever, as if the civilian population itself now poses as a national security threat.

Last year, while the occupy movement peacefully protested in cities across the country, a new-militarized police force presented itself, and moved to brutalize protesters exercising their rights to freedom of speech and assembly. It was as if these long-cherished American values had suddenly become viewed by our government as threats to its power. The scores of video footage capturing these egregious acts of brutality — from city to city, in a seemingly coordinated effort — resemble scenes carried out in faraway lands by despotic regimes. 

Here is the reality about freedom: you may have a bill of rights, but if you are brutalized anytime you attempt to exercise those rights, you eventually become intimidated from ever doing so. And that appears to be the new order in America.

The brutality against occupy protesters became such an issue for human rights groups, as well as media groups whose reporters were being assaulted (including NY Times, The Associated Press, The New York Post, The Daily News, Thomson Reuters, Dow Jones & Company, etc.), that even the U.N. felt compelled to intervene. Two U.N. human rights envoys petitioned the Obama Administration to “protect Occupy protesters against excessive force by law enforcement officials.” The White House completely ignored their petition, and did absolutely nothing to reign in, much less condemn, the brutality.

Legal experts from NYU and Fordham University filed complaints with the NYPD, the U.S. Department of Justice and the United Nations, accompanied by a 132 page report entitled Suppressing Protest: Human Rights Violations in the U.S. Response to Occupy Wall Street. The document “catalogs 130 specific alleged incidents of excessive police force, and hundreds of additional violations, including unjustified arrests, abuse of journalists, unlawful closure of sidewalks and parks to protesters, and pervasive surveillance of peaceful activists.” This document barely scratches the surface, since its scope is limited just to the police response in NYC. The group plans to release similar publications for Boston, Charlotte, Oakland, and San Francisco.

For those of you who believe that our nation’s dramatic shift towards a police-state is justifiable, in light of 9-11, you should know that nearly every police-state throughout history became so under the guise of national security threats. Most despotic regimes faced real, perceived, or sometimes manufactured threats to their national security. And most of them could point historians back to their own 9-11-like ‘turning point’.

For example, Adolph Hitler would surely point historians to the burning of the Reichstag building on February 27, 1933 as Germany’s ‘turning point’. He blamed the arson on the Communists (Note: some prominent historians believed the Nazis themselves were responsible for the arson). But regardless of who actually burned Reichstag, the Nazis capitalized on that crucial moment in a way that would forever change the course of history.

They used the shock and fear generated by that event as justification for the Reichstag Fire Decree. This new law suspended basic rights of all Germans and allowed detention without trial. Sound familiar? That was Hitler’s very first step in consolidating his power, and transforming Germany into a despotic regime.

A government shifting towards despotism always works to capitalize on a nation’s fear. It uses that fear as the impetus to strip its citizens of their inalienable rights. And unfortunately, once those rights have been fleeced, it often takes a full-scale revolution or war just to restore them. 

WATCH: New 1 Minute Video Series: How The Worst Of The 1% Exploits America

by on Friday, February 17, 2012 at 12:48 am EDT in Occupy Wall Street, Politics

Robert Greenwald of Brave New Foundation has just released his first installment of a new video series entitled, ‘Who Are the 1%?‘. Each 1-minute video exposes a member of the “worst of the 1%” club, breaking down exactly how that tycoon has exploited the 99% to accumulate his obscene wealth. The first installment of the series […]

WATCH: The Origins Of #OccupyWallStreet: An Interview With Adbusters’ Micah White

by on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 1:35 am EDT in Occupy Wall Street, Politics

For those wondering how the revolutionary #OccupyWallStreet movement — which now spans the entire globe — came into being, look no further than Vancouver’s activist magazine & website, Adbusters, and its Senior Editor, Micah White. In this interview, White discusses the movement’s origins, its leaderless (general assembly) decision-making model — vital to ensuring it doesn’t get […]

WATCH: Police Brutality Against #OccupyWallStreet Protesters In Times Square – 15 Oct 2011

by on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm EDT in Occupy Wall Street, Politics

As tens of thousands of occupy wall street protesters made their way into Times Square last night, the NYPD barricaded them, and then began to push them back, provoking screams from the protesters that there was no place for them to move. The riot police were reported to have entered the fray with orange kettling […]

Bank Transfer Day: Simple Step-By-Step Guide To Finding A Credit Union And Ditching Your Greedy Bank

by on Friday, October 14, 2011 at 11:55 am EDT in Occupy Wall Street, Politics

November Fifth is officially ‘Bank Transfer Day’ — a day when tens-of-thousands of Americans plan to collectively transfer all their money from the corrupt and greedy Wall Street banks to not-for-profit, cooperative credit unions. The steps involved in this process, however, can present some potential challenges to overcome. The key to a happy November Fifth […]

The American Left Awakens: As The Middle Class Goes, So Goes The Political Middle

by on Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 10:56 am EDT in Occupy Wall Street, Politics

It could be said that a democracy’s chosen economic model lives and dies by the prosperity of the majority. A thriving middle class has been the key stabilizing factor in American politics for generations. As such, systematic change in the United States has traditionally come slowly and incrementally.  But after a decade of zero job […]

WATCH (Video): Footage And Interviews Of #OccupyWallStreet Protesters

by on Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 8:47 am EDT in Occupy Wall Street, Politics

RT heads downtown in New York City to cover the outrage behind the largest anti-Wall Street rally since the credit crunch:

Wall Street Protesters Plan To Turn Lower Manhattan Into America’s ‘Tahrir Square’

by on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 4:45 pm EDT in Occupy Wall Street, Politics

Thousands of peaceful protesters have descended on New York City’s financial district today to send a loud message to President Barack Obama: “End the influence money has over our representatives in Washington”. The protesters intend to create a ‘city of tents’ and remain there for as long as it takes for their “one demand” to […]