SAN FRANCISCO -- "Why is life a bitch? Cause we don't tax the rich!"
Such was the chant of the nearly 200 San Franciscans who surrounded the Bank of America building in the center of the Financial District Thursday afternoon to rally against bank bailouts and the country's uneven tax structure. The rally was a west coast offshoot of the "Occupy Wall Street" protests that have continued in New York City for nearly two weeks.
(SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOS AND VIDEOS)
The initially-peaceful crowd included families, children, dogs and bands playing drums, saxophones and banjos. Mayoral candidate and city Supervisor John Avalos opened the march with a speech that attacked big banks.
"Have you ever felt like you've been had?" he asked the crowd. "That's why this building right here is a symbol of the incredible greed and wealth that has accumulated into fewer and fewer hands."
"And how do they stay wealthy?" he added. "They took our tax dollars. They got bailed out." Avalos then urged crowd members to take their money out of national banks and invest it in smaller, community banks that care about local concerns.
The demonstrators then marched down Montgomery Street to Charles Schwab, surrounding the building and baffling employees inside. Protestors beat drums, sang songs and chanted, "Charles Schwab, give us our money back" and "Who bailed the banks out? We bailed the banks out."
The swarm finished out the day by marching to a Chase Bank branch on Market Street, where tensions began to peak. Six demonstrators -- including one who said she was losing her home to the bank -- walked into the branch and staged a sit-in in the lobby. After refusing to leave the branch, the six were arrested and then eventually released. Outside, protesters screamed, "Shame on Chase," waving signs in the air.
Occupy Wall Street officially began in a park in downtown Manhattan on Sept. 17, and the protesters there have yet to show any signs of leaving. Participants have voiced concerns over everything from environmental issues to Troy Davis' execution, but the main themes have centered on economic concerns.
"Several hand-lettered placards express outrage that banks and bankers weren't punished more severely in the wake of the financial crisis," The Huffington Post's Alexander Eichler reported Wednesday.
San Francisco's chapter had been operating less publicly until Thursday's event, but according to its official website, activists have been holding general assembly meetings each evening in Justin Herman Plaza every day since New York's protests began. They've planned several events through October, including poetry workshops, movie nights and guest speakers.
Similar groups have also popped up across the rest of the country.
The Occupy Wall Streeters have yet to present a formal list of demands or conditions that must be met, and New York City police have already arrested at least 80 individuals there. One officer faced backlash over the weekend after video surfaced of him using pepper spray to quell a group of young women.
See scenes from Thursday's protest and watch Supervisor Avalos speak to the crowd in the videos and slideshow below:
Friday, September 30, 2011
September 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm
Sylvia Robinson, frequently credited as “the mother of hip-hop,” died early this morning of congestive heart failure in a New Jersey hospital. She was 75. Before she and her husband Joe Robinson formed Sugar Hill Records in 1979, Sylvia had a pretty nice career as an R&B singer, partnered with Mickey Baker in the duo called Mickey & Sylvia, whose “Love Is Strange” was a #1 hit in 1956. In 1973, without Mickey, she wrote and performed the song “Pillow Talk.”
In 1979, All Platinum, the pre-Sugar Hill label she founded with husband Joe, was in serious financial trouble when, according to the New York Times, a lightbulb lit up over her head the night she went to a party in Harlem and heard people rapping over the instrumental breaks in disco songs. Using her son Joey as a talent scout, she hired three young New York City rappers – Big Bank Hank, Wonder Mike, and Master Gee – to record improvised raps over a rhythm track adapted from Chic’s “Good Times.” The three rappers became the Sugar Hill Gang, the record was “Rapper’s Delight,” and it reached #4 on the R&B charts. That session arguably was the birth of rap and hip-hop. Later, the label would sign Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, who recorded “The Message” and paved the way for gangsta rap. So, yeah, that “mother of hip-hop” moniker was justly deserved.
The Best Among Us
AP / Louis Lanzano
Posted on Sep 29, 2011
By Chris Hedges
There are no excuses left. Either you join the revolt taking place on Wall Street and in the financial districts of other cities across the country or you stand on the wrong side of history. Either you obstruct, in the only form left to us, which is civil disobedience, the plundering by the criminal class on Wall Street and accelerated destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species, or become the passive enabler of a monstrous evil. Either you taste, feel and smell the intoxication of freedom and revolt or sink into the miasma of despair and apathy. Either you are a rebel or a slave.
To be declared innocent in a country where the rule of law means nothing, where we have undergone a corporate coup, where the poor and working men and women are reduced to joblessness and hunger, where war, financial speculation and internal surveillance are the only real business of the state, where even habeas corpus no longer exists, where you, as a citizen, are nothing more than a commodity to corporate systems of power, one to be used and discarded, is to be complicit in this radical evil. To stand on the sidelines and say “I am innocent” is to bear the mark of Cain; it is to do nothing to reach out and help the weak, the oppressed and the suffering, to save the planet. To be innocent in times like these is to be a criminal. Ask Tim DeChristopher.
Choose. But choose fast. The state and corporate forces are determined to crush this. They are not going to wait for you. They are terrified this will spread. They have their long phalanxes of police on motorcycles, their rows of white paddy wagons, their foot soldiers hunting for you on the streets with pepper spray and orange plastic nets. They have their metal barricades set up on every single street leading into the New York financial district, where the mandarins in Brooks Brothers suits use your money, money they stole from you, to gamble and speculate and gorge themselves while one in four children outside those barricades depend on food stamps to eat. Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged. Today they run the state and the financial markets. They disseminate the lies that pollute our airwaves. They know, even better than you, how pervasive the corruption and theft have become, how gamed the system is against you, how corporations have cemented into place a thin oligarchic class and an obsequious cadre of politicians, judges and journalists who live in their little gated Versailles while 6 million Americans are thrown out of their homes, a number soon to rise to 10 million, where a million people a year go bankrupt because they cannot pay their medical bills and 45,000 die from lack of proper care, where real joblessness is spiraling to over 20 percent, where the citizens, including students, spend lives toiling in debt peonage, working dead-end jobs, when they have jobs, a world devoid of hope, a world of masters and serfs.
The only word these corporations know is more. They are disemboweling every last social service program funded by the taxpayers, from education to Social Security, because they want that money themselves. Let the sick die. Let the poor go hungry. Let families be tossed in the street. Let the unemployed rot. Let children in the inner city or rural wastelands learn nothing and live in misery and fear. Let the students finish school with no jobs and no prospects of jobs. Let the prison system, the largest in the industrial world, expand to swallow up all potential dissenters. Let torture continue. Let teachers, police, firefighters, postal employees and social workers join the ranks of the unemployed. Let the roads, bridges, dams, levees, power grids, rail lines, subways, bus services, schools and libraries crumble or close. Let the rising temperatures of the planet, the freak weather patterns, the hurricanes, the droughts, the flooding, the tornadoes, the melting polar ice caps, the poisoned water systems, the polluted air increase until the species dies.
Who the hell cares? If the stocks of ExxonMobil or the coal industry or Goldman Sachs are high, life is good. Profit. Profit. Profit. That is what they chant behind those metal barricades. They have their fangs deep into your necks. If you do not shake them off very, very soon they will kill you. And they will kill the ecosystem, dooming your children and your children’s children. They are too stupid and too blind to see that they will perish with the rest of us. So either you rise up and supplant them, either you dismantle the corporate state, for a world of sanity, a world where we no longer kneel before the absurd idea that the demands of financial markets should govern human behavior, or we are frog-marched toward self-annihilation.Those on the streets around Wall Street are the physical embodiment of hope. They know that hope has a cost, that it is not easy or comfortable, that it requires self-sacrifice and discomfort and finally faith. They sleep on concrete every night. Their clothes are soiled. They have eaten more bagels and peanut butter than they ever thought possible. They have tasted fear, been beaten, gone to jail, been blinded by pepper spray, cried, hugged each other, laughed, sung, talked too long in general assemblies, seen their chants drift upward to the office towers above them, wondered if it is worth it, if anyone cares, if they will win. But as long as they remain steadfast they point the way out of the corporate labyrinth. This is what it means to be alive. They are the best among us.
Click here to access OCCUPY TOGETHER, a hub for all of the events springing up across the country in solidarity with Occupy Wall St.
Posted: 29 Sep 2011 03:26 PM PDT
Electronic Artslaunched its Battlefield 3 multiplayer open beta test today for fans of the combat series. EA opened the game to all players on the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in advance of the game’s official launch on Oct. 25.
This game is one of the potential blockbusters of the fall season, and it represents EA’s big challenge to market leader Activision Blizzard and its Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 title, which debuts in November. If EA gets this one right, it could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sales from one game alone. The multiplayer beta is EA’s way of kicking the tires on the massive server infrastructure required to handle this kind of high-intensity game.
EA has released a single battle map called Operation Metro, the same one that the company showed off at the E3 conference and at a company event earlier this summer. To get the game, I had to sign up for EA’s Origin digital downloading service and then log into Battlelog, the online social network for Battlefield gamers on the PC. I also downloaded the game beta to my Xbox 360 game console. I was looking forward to getting a good look at the graphics of the game, as this kind of title lives or dies on whether it looks real or fake.
Pictured at top, Battlelog’s main page shows you the options you have for playing (only multiplayer quick match is available now). It shows what your avatar character looks like, tells you your rank, and says what rewards and unlocks are coming up. If you want to drill down on it, you can see your player stats and change details on your profile.
You can also jump right into a game. Naturally, that was the first thing I wanted to do after downloading the three gigabyte file for the beta. But the server seems overloaded today, as the game manager can’t find an open match for me. If I can get into the PC version, I’ll do an update, as the graphics on the PC should look much better.
Update: I managed to get into the PC version, after downloading a special Nvidia driver patch for the beta test. The graphics on the PC were awesome. The smoke, flames and glaring lights can blind you temporarily. But it’s cool to look through the sniper scope and see some ultra-real imagery. You can shoot at enemies who look like real soldiers, not just little stick figures. That’s what Battlefield is all about, giving you a sense of realism.
It took a while for me to get used to the mouse and keyboard, so I made an easy target for the other team. But once I did, I was having some fun. The first thing I had to learn to do by necessity was to use the “Z” key to go prone. I found that if I stuck my head up, I would get shot. I played a couple of rounds now and have had a very hard time shooting anybody, though I’ve gotten some assists. I’ll see if I can get into a mode where I can stay alive for a longer period and actually enjoy myself. If I can, then the PC version could be a real challenger for the Call of Duty game. End update.
So I switched to the Xbox 360 and was able to get into a match pretty quickly. I pulled out my assault rifle and was immediately shot by an enemy camped directly in front of the spawn point. I respawned on top of some rocks looking out across a park in Paris near a couple of combat targets. I was placed into a squad on the attacking team, and our goal was to arm and detonate a couple of bombs at the target sites. I ran across the grass, got shot, and did this a few times until I figured out what the enemies looked like. You have to quickly distinguish the little red indicators for enemies compared to the blue and green ones for friendlies. I lined up my cross hairs on some targets but couldn’t really hit targets that were far away with the assault rifle, which has very coarse cross hairs.
I shot one or two guys but was getting beat pretty bad, so I switched to a sniper rifle. That worked much better. Once I figured out how to duck, I found I could move along the barriers, bushes and rocks of the park and pick off some of the attackers. It was exceedingly hard to shoot anyone who was moving at an angle, mainly due to the lag. First day lag is to be expected, so I didn’t mind it so much. Hopefully, EA will correct that problem over time. The graphics looked reasonably good and the game moved somewhat faster, but it was a lot slower than Call of Duty Black Ops, which runs twice as fast. The Xbox 360 version didn’t look nearly as good as some of the trailers that EA showed earlier this year. But it was good enough to be worth of the Battlefield name. The Xbox 360 version looked pretty much the same as the PlayStation 3, which I played earlier this summer.
Our team managed to blow up the bombs. After that, you advance further on the map and push the enemy into the underground train tunnels. There, the sniper rifle wasn’t as useful, as close combat was a lot more common. I switched back to the assault rifle. The game play is interesting, since you can earn points for your team by throwing out ammo or health packs. When you’re under heavy fire, the screen blurs. That makes it hard to shoot back. That is called being suppressed, and you can earn points when you do that to the enemy. Some of these features are particularly good for novice players, who aren’t as likely to get kills.
Players can lie down prone, but the graphics don’t look so pretty when you do that. Overall, EA has a competitive game that will be a contender for one of the most popular blockbusters of the year. If it can fix the lag problems on the network in the coming month before the official launch, that would be good. Having played Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer, I still have to say that I like Call of Duty multiplayer better, mainly because of the faster graphics and more accurate shooting. But EA is at least in the same arena now.
EA’s advantages include bigger battles, the use of playable vehicles such as tanks, more accurate physics, and destructible environments. We’ll find out soon enough what gamers think about it.
This was unanimously voted on by all members of Occupy Wall Street last night, around 8pm, Sept 29. It is our first official document for release. We have three more underway, that will likely be released in the upcoming days: 1) A declaration of demands. 2) Principles of Solidarity 3) Documentation on how to form your own Direct Democracy Occupation Group. This is a living document. you can receive an official press copy of the latest version by emailing
Declaration of the Occupation of New York City
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!
*These grievances are not all-inclusive.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Mad As Hell and Not Going to Take It AnymoreWhether it's the protesters occupying Wall Street or hundreds of smaller actions in cities across the country, there is a growing movement demanding that banks (and millionaire bankers) pay their fair share, that we rebuild the middle class and the American Dream, and that we have to put jobs before corporate profits and tax cuts for the wealthy.
Here are some scenes from the streets.
Occupying Wall Street
The occupation of Wall Street is now well into its second week. Here's some snaps from the past few days.
Meanwhile, from the "Let Them Eat Cake!" file, Wall Streeters literally drank champagne as they watched the protesters from above:
Taking It to Bay Area Banks
Members of the New Bottom Line coalition recently organized actions at banks, including Wells Fargo, Chase, and Bank of America in the Bay Area.
A Wake Up Call In WashingtonFrom another New Bottom Line action in Washington State:At sunrise, each member of the Association of Washington Business Policy Summit received a call in their plush suite at Suncadia. When they picked up the phone, this is the message they heard: “Good morning! This is a wake up call. While Wall Street Bankers, corporate CEOs and their lobbyists go to wine tastings, play golf and plot how to maintain special interest tax breaks, middle class and poor families are struggling to make ends meet. Today, you will notice hundreds of community members here to protest at the Showdown at Suncadia. Our message: It’s time Wall Street Banks and wealthy CEOs pay their fair share.”
A Breakfast Surprise in Boston
Shame, Shame, Shame
Jobs Not Cuts!
A scene from a recent protest in New Mexico targeting GOP Governor Susana Martinez:
We could go on and on!
Actions like these will continue on Wall Street and across the country, including more than 130 tomorrow alone that are being organized by our friends at MoveOn and the AFL-CIO. Those events will demand that the 136 Republican millionaires in Congress and every other millionaire in America start paying at least the same tax rates paid by middle class families.
Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed
Good news: The FBI will revise its anachronistic definition of rape.
The weird – and sexist – double standard for profanity in mass media.
Why fewer young American Jews share their parents' view of Israel.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show today and spoke out against the GOP presidential candidates’ initial refusal to condemn the booing of a gay soldier during a recent debate.
Herman Cain told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer yesterday that he could not support Perry in large part because of Perry’s somewhat moderate stance on immigration.
Reporting for The Nation, Yasha Levine and Mark Ames reveal a letter from Charles Koch to famed libertarian economist Frederick Hayek, imploring the Austrian professor to join a Koch think tank and receive Social Security and Medicare benefits in America.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), now a far right candidate for president, has revealed through mandated disclosure forms that has been paid $330,000 in consulting fees by Consol Energy, a fracking company, American Continental Group, a lobbying firm, and from a public relations agency. He also earned $239,000 from his gig at Fox News.
The Associated Press reports that West Virginia and Kentucky are running out of easy-to-reach coal, and mines in both states are struggling to compete with mines in Montana. The Appalachian region's reliance on coal has left many working class families vulnerable as the coal industry there teeters.
There is nothing more sacred to the maintenance of democracy than a free press. Access to comprehensive, accurate and quality information is essential to the manifestation of Socratic citizenship - the society characterized by a civically engaged, well-informed and socially invested populace. Thus, to the degree that access to quality information is willfully or unintentionally obstructed, democracy itself is degraded.
It is ironic that in the era of 24-hour cable news networks and "reality" programming, the news-to-fluff ratio and overall veracity of information has declined precipitously. Take the fact Americans now spend on average about 50 hours a week using various forms of media, while at the same time cultural literacy levels hover just above the gutter. Not only does mainstream media now tolerate gross misrepresentations of fact and history by public figures (highlighted most recently by Sarah Palin's ludicrous depiction of Paul Revere's ride), but many media actually legitimize these displays. Pause for a moment and ask yourself what it means that the world's largest, most profitable and most popular news channel passes off as fact every whim, impulse and outrageously incompetent analysis of its so-called reporters. How did we get here? Take the enormous amount of misinformation that is taken for truth by Fox audiences: the belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that he was in on 9/11, the belief that climate change isn't real and/or man-made, the belief that Barack Obama is Muslim and wasn't born in the United States, the insistence that all Arabs are Muslim and all Muslims are terrorists, the inexplicable perceptions that immigrants are both too lazy to work and are about to steal your job. All of these claims are demonstrably false, yet Fox News viewers will maintain their veracity with incredible zeal. Why? Is it simply that we have lost our respect for knowledge?
My curiosity about this question compelled me to sit down and document the most oft-used methods by which willful ignorance has been turned into dogma by Fox News and other propagandists disguised as media. The techniques I identify here also help to explain the simultaneously powerful identification the Fox media audience has with the network, as well as their ardent, reflexive defenses of it.
The good news is that the more conscious you are of these techniques, the less likely they are to work on you. The bad news is that those reading this article are probably the least in need in of it.
1. Panic Mongering. This goes one step beyond simple fear mongering. With panic mongering, there is never a break from the fear. The idea is to terrify and terrorize the audience during every waking moment. From Muslims to swine flu to recession to homosexuals to immigrants to the rapture itself, the belief over at Fox seems to be that if your fight-or-flight reflexes aren't activated, you aren't alive. This of course raises the question: why terrorize your own audience? Because it is the fastest way to bypasses the rational brain. In other words, when people are afraid, they don't think rationally. And when they can't think rationally, they'll believe anything.
2. Character Assassination/Ad Hominem. Fox does not like to waste time debating the idea. Instead, they prefer a quicker route to dispensing with their opponents: go after the person's credibility, motives, intelligence, character, or, if necessary, sanity. No category of character assassination is off the table and no offense is beneath them. Fox and like-minded media figures also use ad hominem attacks not just against individuals, but entire categories of people in an effort to discredit the ideas of every person who is seen to fall into that category, e.g. "liberals," "hippies," "progressives" etc. This form of argument - if it can be called that - leaves no room for genuine debate over ideas, so by definition, it is undemocratic. Not to mention just plain crass.
3. Projection/Flipping. This one is frustrating for the viewer who is trying to actually follow the argument. It involves taking whatever underhanded tactic you're using and then accusing your opponent of doing it to you first. We see this frequently in the immigration discussion, where anti-racists are accused of racism, or in the climate change debate, where those who argue for human causes of the phenomenon are accused of not having science or facts on their side. It's often called upon when the media host finds themselves on the ropes in the debate.
4. Rewriting History. This is another way of saying that propagandists make the facts fit their worldview. The Downing Street Memos on the Iraq war were a classic example of this on a massive scale, but it happens daily and over smaller issues as well. A recent case in point is Palin's mangling of the Paul Revere ride, which Fox reporters have bent over backward to validate. Why lie about the historical facts, even when they can be demonstrated to be false? Well, because dogmatic minds actually find it easier to reject reality than to update their viewpoints. They will literally rewrite history if it serves their interests. And they'll often speak with such authority that the casual viewer will be tempted to question what they knew as fact.
5. Scapegoating/Othering. This works best when people feel insecure or scared. It's technically a form of both fear mongering and diversion, but it is so pervasive that it deserves its own category. The simple idea is that if you can find a group to blame for social or economic problems, you can then go on to a) justify violence/dehumanization of them, and b) subvert responsibility for any harm that may befall them as a result.
6. Conflating Violence With Power and Opposition to Violence With Weakness. This is more of what I'd call a "meta-frame" (a deeply held belief) than a media technique, but it is manifested in the ways news is reported constantly. For example, terms like "show of strength" are often used to describe acts of repression, such as those by the Iranian regime against the protesters in the summer of 2009. There are several concerning consequences of this form of conflation. First, it has the potential to make people feel falsely emboldened by shows of force - it can turn wars into sporting events. Secondly, especially in the context of American politics, displays of violence - whether manifested in war or debates about the Second Amendment - are seen as noble and (in an especially surreal irony) moral. Violence become synonymous with power, patriotism and piety.
7. Bullying. This is a favorite technique of several Fox commentators. That it continues to be employed demonstrates that it seems to have some efficacy. Bullying and yelling works best on people who come to the conversation with a lack of confidence, either in themselves or their grasp of the subject being discussed. The bully exploits this lack of confidence by berating the guest into submission or compliance. Often, less self-possessed people will feel shame and anxiety when being berated and the quickest way to end the immediate discomfort is to cede authority to the bully. The bully is then able to interpret that as a "win."
8. Confusion. As with the preceding technique, this one works best on an audience that is less confident and self-possessed. The idea is to deliberately confuse the argument, but insist that the logic is airtight and imply that anyone who disagrees is either too dumb or too fanatical to follow along. Less independent minds will interpret the confusion technique as a form of sophisticated thinking, thereby giving the user's claims veracity in the viewer's mind.
9. Populism. This is especially popular in election years. The speakers identifies themselves as one of "the people" and the target of their ire as an enemy of the people. The opponent is always "elitist" or a "bureaucrat" or a "government insider" or some other category that is not the people. The idea is to make the opponent harder to relate to and harder to empathize with. It often goes hand in hand with scapegoating. A common logical fallacy with populism bias when used by the right is that accused "elitists" are almost always liberals - a category of political actors who, by definition, advocate for non-elite groups.
10. Invoking the Christian God. This is similar to othering and populism. With morality politics, the idea is to declare yourself and your allies as patriots, Christians and "real Americans" (those are inseparable categories in this line of thinking) and anyone who challenges them as not. Basically, God loves Fox and Republicans and America. And hates taxes and anyone who doesn't love those other three things. Because the speaker has been benedicted by God to speak on behalf of all Americans, any challenge is perceived as immoral. It's a cheap and easy technique used by all totalitarian entities from states to cults.
11. Saturation. There are three components to effective saturation: being repetitive, being ubiquitous and being consistent. The message must be repeated cover and over, it must be everywhere and it must be shared across commentators: e.g. "Saddam has WMD." Veracity and hard data have no relationship to the efficacy of saturation. There is a psychological effect of being exposed to the same message over and over, regardless of whether it's true or if it even makes sense, e.g., "Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States." If something is said enough times, by enough people, many will come to accept it as truth. Another example is Fox's own slogan of "Fair and Balanced."
12. Disparaging Education. There is an emerging and disturbing lack of reverence for education and intellectualism in many mainstream media discourses. In fact, in some circles (e.g. Fox), higher education is often disparaged as elitist. Having a university credential is perceived by these folks as not a sign of credibility, but of a lack of it. In fact, among some commentators, evidence of intellectual prowess is treated snidely and as anti-American. Education and other evidence of being trained in critical thinking are direct threats to a hive-mind mentality, which is why they are so viscerally demeaned.
13. Guilt by Association. This is a favorite of Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart, both of whom have used it to decimate the careers and lives of many good people. Here's how it works: if your cousin's college roommate's uncle's ex-wife attended a dinner party back in 1984 with Gorbachev's niece's ex-boyfriend's sister, then you, by extension are a communist set on destroying America. Period.
14. Diversion. This is where, when on the ropes, the media commentator suddenly takes the debate in a weird but predictable direction to avoid accountability. This is the point in the discussion where most Fox anchors start comparing the opponent to Saul Alinsky or invoking ACORN or Media Matters, in a desperate attempt to win through guilt by association. Or they'll talk about wanting to focus on "moving forward," as though by analyzing the current state of things or God forbid, how we got to this state of things, you have no regard for the future. Any attempt to bring the discussion back to the issue at hand will likely be called deflection, an ironic use of the technique of projection/flipping.
In debating some of these tactics with colleagues and friends, I have also noticed that the Fox viewership seems to be marked by a sort of collective personality disorder whereby the viewer feels almost as though they've been let into a secret society. Something about their affiliation with the network makes them feel privileged and this affinity is likely what drives the viewers to defend the network so vehemently. They seem to identify with it at a core level, because it tells them they are special and privy to something the rest of us don't have. It's akin to the loyalty one feels by being let into a private club or a gang. That effect is also likely to make the propaganda more powerful, because it goes mostly unquestioned.
In considering these tactics and their possible effects on American public discourse, it is important to note that historically, those who've genuinely accessed truth have never berated those who did not. You don't get honored by history when you beat up your opponent: look at Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln. These men did not find the need to engage in othering, ad homeinum attacks, guilt by association or bullying. This is because when a person has accessed a truth, they are not threatened by the opposing views of others. This reality reveals the righteous indignation of people like Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity as a symptom of untruth. These individuals are hostile and angry precisely because they don't feel confident in their own veracity. And in general, the more someone is losing their temper in a debate and the more intolerant they are of listening to others, the more you can be certain they do not know what they're talking about.
One final observation. Fox audiences, birthers and Tea Partiers often defend their arguments by pointing to the fact that a lot of people share the same perceptions. This is a reasonable point to the extent that Murdoch's News Corporation reaches a far larger audience than any other single media outlet. But, the fact that a lot of people believe something is not necessarily a sign that it's true; it's just a sign that it's been effectively marketed.
As honest, fair and truly intellectual debate degrades before the eyes of the global media audience, the quality of American democracy degrades along with it.
Enlarge Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators with "Occupy Wall Street" occupy Zuccotti Park in New York. The encampment in the financial district of New York City is now on Day 13.Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators with "Occupy Wall Street" occupy Zuccotti Park in New York. The encampment in the financial district of New York City is now on Day 13.
The group of young people who have set up camp in lower Manhattan in order to protest what they say is the corruption of Wall Street have been dismissed by some as being a disorganized movement with no real focus.
New York Magazine reports that next week, the professionals have vowed to help "Occupy Wall Street" put some people on the street:
Next week, the site will welcome members of New York's organized labor coalitions including the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United, and Transport Workers Union Local 100, which voted unanimously last night to support the occupation. Other groups standing in solidarity include the Working Families party, the Coalition for the Homeless, and MoveOn.org.
If you don't remember, the protesters in New York have taken inspiration from the protests in North Africa and the Middle East that make up the Arab Spring. They're camping out at Zucotti Park and, again in the spirit of the Arab Spring, "renamed it" Liberty Plaza.
Crain's New York Business has some analysis of what support from labor means:
Despite the common cause, the city's established left did not initially embrace the protest, which began Sept. 17 and has been made up mostly of young people angry about the widening income chasm in the country, the growing influence of money on politics and police brutality, among other issues.
But as the action nears the start of its third week, unions and community groups are eager to jump on board. They are motivated perhaps by a sense of solidarity and a desire to tap into its growing success, but undoubtedly by something else too—embarrassment that a group of young people using Twitter and Facebook have been able to draw attention to progressive causes in a way they haven't been able to in years.
The protestors have transformed the park into a village of sorts, complete with a community kitchen, a library, a concert stage, an arts and crafts center and a media hub. All of that has enabled them not just to sustain the action but to build momentum. And as celebrities like Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Russell Simmons and Cornel West have joined in, the city's traditional activists have been forced to jump into the fray. "It's become too big to ignore," said one political consultant.
That's also what the Village Voice heard from a TWU spokesman, who said the board voted unanimously to support the movement.
"Well, actually, the protesters, it's pretty courageous what they're doing," Jim Gannon told the alternatively weekly. "And it's brought a new public focus in a different way to what we've been saying along. While Wall Street and the banks and the corporations are the ones that caused the mess that's flowed down into the states and cities, it seems there's no shared sacrifice. It's the workers having to sacrifice while the wealthy get away scot-free. It's kind of a natural alliance with the young people and the students — they're voicing our message, why not join them?"
Ladies and gentleman, we are currently cruising down Wall Street because we are fed up with our bosses! Pilots stage protest
Last updated at 9:02 AM on 28th September 2011
Wall Street saw yet another surge in protesters today - as hundreds of Continental and United Airlines pilots demonstrated in New York City's financial district.
Over 700 hundred activists, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) carriers, took their grievances to the streets as they protested for wages and benefits in light of a stalled merger between the airlines.
The demonstration coincided with the 11th straight day the Occupy Wall Street encampment, which has seen thousands of demonstrators descend onto downtown Manhattan - and hundreds arrested.
United: Over 700 hundred Continental and United pilots, joined by additional pilots from other Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) carriers, demonstrate in front of Wall Street on Tuesday
Organised: The pilots want to draw attention to the lack of progress on negotiations of the pilots' joint collective bargaining agreement ahead of the one-year anniversary of the corporate merger close date
Continental's ALPA unit announced the union rally, saying the company needed to 'get serious' about negotiating a joint contract.
United officials have said they want a fair contract and have been meeting with pilots from both unions since August 2010, arguing that none of the major sections dealing with work rules, pay, scope/job protection or retirement/benefits has been resolved.
Management wanted a deal in place by the end of 2011, but said over the summer the target would be missed. No new date has been set.
- Now Susan Sarandon joins in! Activist actress joins author Michael Moore and hundreds of other Wall Street protesters... but all eyes are on ANOTHER naked protester
- Hackers identify officer accused of pepper-spraying women at Wall Street protest
- Struggling to pay the mortgage? Go to the bank that might give you $30,000 to walk away
Without a joint contract that merges seniority and duties, the carrier cannot achieve the full measure of cost and revenue benefits forecast as part of the merger.
The announcement came after pilots at United Airlines asked a federal judge on Monday to halt integration with Continental Airlines, saying the company is moving too fast in its bid to merge operations fully.
The United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, sought a stay of Friday's deadline to complete the next phase of training and begin new procedures.
Peaceful protest: United officials have said they want a fair contract and have been meeting with pilots from both unions since August 2010
'What's a pilot worth?' United management wanted a deal in place by the end of 2011, but said over the summer the target would be missed. No new date has been set
The union said the proposed level and timeline of training necessary for United Continental Holdings Inc (UAL.N) to earn single operating authority from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is inadequate.
FAA clearance is the final step in the merger to create the world's biggest airline. The deal closed last year.
Pilots contend interrupting the deadline for new procedures would allow the union and management to either negotiate a resolution or arbitrate the dispute.
A court hearing in Brooklyn is scheduled for Wednesday.
The union said most of the training changes involve United pilots, who are adopting many of Continental's cockpit procedures.
United said the suit was without merit and was a shameful attempt to influence negotiations on a joint contract between United and Continental pilots.
Uniform: Continental's ALPA unit announced the union rally, saying the company needed to 'get serious' about negotiating a joint contract
Union rally: ALPA represents over 53,000 pilots at 39 airlines in the United States and Canada, including approximately 5000 at Continental and nearly 6,000 at United
United spokeswoman Julie King said in a statement: 'Our training procedures, which are fully approved and closely monitored by the FAA, meet or exceed safety standards and we are a safe airline.'
United's union chairman, Wendy Morse, said safety issues and the union contract are separate, adding: 'United management continues to squander this golden opportunity to create the world class airline it promised to the employees, to the shareholders and to the flying public nearly 17 months ago when the United/Continental merger was announced. The longer these negotiations toward a joint collective bargaining agreement drag on, the less likely the company will be able to enjoy the benefits this merger offers.
'The company has wallowed in the weeds long enough. It's time for management to stop focusing on the minutia and turn its attention toward the issues that really matter to the pilots of United and get this contract completed. The days of our pilots laboring under a bankruptcy contract have to end,' she said.
Captain Jay Pierce, chairman of the Continental pilots union, stated: 'Management may be attempting to portray success with the progress of the merger, but the reality is that it takes more than painting airplanes, hanging new airport signs and revamping a frequent-flier program. We are ready to begin the real work of creating the world's largest and best airline, and that starts with reaching agreement on a pilot contract. Real progress with implementing the merger requires the involvement of pilots and an acknowledgement by management of the contributions that pilots make in creating a successful airline.'
ALPA represents over 53,000 pilots at 39 airlines in the United States and Canada, including approximately 5000 at Continental and nearly 6,000 at United.