Nov 25, 2011

Thanksgiving in New York City, 2011

Thanksgiving is a special holiday, because it's not religious but rather inclusive. I don't think it's about the Pilgrims and the natives and all the other made-up "history." It's about thinking of the good people we have in our lives and the good things that surrounds us. 

The World Trade Center new tower under construction (view from Broadway)

There's a crowd Thursday afternoon at Zuccutti park
It's also a nice time to be in NY city, as it's the most quiet and fan to walk around day in all of the year. If the weather is good--we're having unusually warm weather for this time of year--a walk in Central Park or the various neighborhoods of this great metropolis is particularly rewarding; it doesn't feel rushed or too noisy.

Great folk band got the people dancing at the park

Trinity Church interior. This church has been helping OWS.

Northern Central Park

The Rumble in Central park.

It's been a tradition of mine to forgo invitations for bigger gatherings, especially out of the city, and spend the day in NYC. This year, I paid a visit to the Occupy Wall Street Liberty square. There were lots of people there. The kitchen group prepared and handed out some 3,000 meals on Thursday! 

In a frenzy consumerism, many stores are opening midnight to boost holiday sales. I think it's crazy that people can't wait for a few more hours before going shopping. It's the stores competing to capture early sales, but if people didn't rush to shop...   Besides, I wouldn't want to be an employee who has to skip Thanksgiving dinner to work the 11 pm Thu to 7 am Fri.

Actually, it feels liberating to me not to have to go shopping. I give gifts throughout the year and I refuse to be part of this insane holiday shopping activity. I expect no gifts either during this time. Well, material gifts--you know, the ones you buy from the stores--but otherwise, yes, it's a nice time to be exchanging and appreciating the gifts that really matter. 

Nov 15, 2011

Shame to Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD for Attacking Peaceful Demonstrators at Occupy Wall Street. The Movement Will Continue!

There's something sinister when the police move against peaceful demonstrators in the middle of the night. It's disgraceful that mayor Bloomberg ordered the police to evict the people from Liberty Park (Zuccatti park) today. 

These Occupy Wall Street Americans have been peaceful, rather articulate in their complaints about the problems of the economic-political system in our country, and they have been braving the elements for two months now to raise the public conscience to the excesses and responsibility of Wall Street.

Some "rough around the edges" is normal in a vibrant democracy, so the OWS movement, even if noisy at times, is a manifestation of free people expressing their views. It's the cost of doing business as a democracy. There's no need for the authorities to use violence or any other method to prohibit or restrict citizens exercising political dissent.

Police violence, arrests, video taping and regulations against free expression all have a chilling effect on our democracy. The good thing is that OWS has already spread all over the country--the whole world actually--and the message for the need to reform our system is heard loud and clear.... unless you're wearing earplugs, or have been brainwashed into a false reality.  Or, you believe that public order demands silence, and that progress is a liberal thing--to be avoided. Change will come though if enough people demand it. Think of the civil rights movement. Even the worst, entrenched bigotry gave way to a better civil society. The OWS movement must and will go on.

Nov 11, 2011

Beware of the Narrative. Obama is Like Hitler Invading Poland.... [oh, just relax! At best, he's lookiing at them funny]

The progressives are complaining that Obama hasn't done enough to reign in the big business, despite campainging for the presidency to do so back in 2008. Thomas Ferguson, a political scientist at UMA Boston had correctly predicted that Obama wouldn't be doing anything big against big business, because of the people he had around him as advisers and because of the financial support he was [still is] getting from Wall Street.

Yet, this is what the Republicans and the Fox noice machine are saying:

For educational purpose: The Investment Theory of Politics

Nov 6, 2011

The Winds of Change. It Takes a Village (and the right inhabitants)

I've been thinking about social change. In a system where people are free to participate, it takes a wave, a critical mass, to bring about change. Leadership is very important too, because it articulates the need for change. What we're witnessing with OWS is a grass-roots movement that has spread from NYC to the rest of the US and now the globe.

Many people are instinctively conservative, in that they want stability, the prefer the devil they know to the unknown. This is the first hurdle a successful movement has to overcome--that change won't lead to chaos or something worse than the status quo. When people feel threatened or unsure, they don't want change.

But, the OWS without leadership and concrete laid-out proposals for reform has played a crucial role in raising awareness about the unfairness and terrible outcomes of our political-economic system. Most Americans don't know how much the top 10% own but they realize it's "too much." They have experienced the bad effects while the elites are bragging who's got the biggest bonuses--some of which came after their failed companies got a public bailout!

This is a good visual, I found:

Change by Public Consensus
Change also comes when the public moves in certain direction. For example, what was radical a generation ago--same sex marriage, gays in the military, etc--is mainstream today. The political parties usually move to cover the public sentiment. Traditionally, one of our two major parties is more progressive but, up until the mid to late 1980s, the Republican party became more conservative. The reason is the influx of very religious conservatives.

Today, the Tea Party has made the Republican party even more conservative, to the point of extremism. It's extremism, because this is not where the bulk of the country is nor where it's heading. Unfortunately, even the GOP leadership, and now the presidential candidates seem to care more about this extremist element because they think this is where the votes are in the party's primaries.

There have been several polls that demonstrate the increasingly conservative bend of many Republicans today. Here's one by Research 2000:

  • 63% think Obama is a socialist ("not sure" 16%)
  • only 42% believe he was born in US ("not sure" 22%)
  • 39% want Obama impeached.
  • 53% think Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president than Obama
  • 23% want to secede from US
  • 24% believe Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win ("not sure" 33%)
  • 31% believe Barack Obama is a racist who hates White people
  • 73% think gay men and women shouldn't be allowed to teach in public schools
  • 31% want contraceptives outlawed
Note the "unsure" category.

Going Backwards
In other words, if the village wants a witch hunt, the leadership will oblige. Poor John Huntsman who called himself crazy for believing in science, like evolution, climate change, age of the earth, etc. Here's a "reasonable" conservative who can't get any traction. Maybe if the Republicans suffer another big defeat, they'll finally turn their ship around and become a party of the 21st century. It'd be good for the country. Then, hopefully, the Democratic party will become more progressive.