Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Si Se Puede

May Day March for Labor and Immigrants Rights

When is the last time you’ve been in a situation that gave you goose bumps? This May Day, my friends and I joined a Labor/Immigrants Rights march, and I felt that electric feeling the entire time. We road the bus down to Bayview to join the starting point outside of the Latino community center. I didn’t know what to expect, and frankly, thought not many people would be making the 2.5 miles march to the lakefront and would opt instead to meet there for the schedule speakers (including the head of the AFL-CIO).

Was I wrong. We rounded the corner to a throng of people milling around a 3 city block radius. Signs colored the entire landscape, with every other person hoisting the now iconic red and blue Wisconsin fist poster. Speakers were addressing the crowds, speaking in Spanish so I really couldn’t tell what was happening. And before long, we started to march. Everyone was chanting in unison, mostly Spanish phrases like ‘si se puede!’ It was a great feeling to be the fish out of water – I couldn’t understand a thing, and I didn’t look like the people around me, but that didn’t matter. Everyone’s hearts were in the same place! It was energetic yet peaceful, with lots of families with strollers, teenagers, twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, etc.

So we marched. We marched through downtown Milwaukee, with signs and chants and a sea of people shoulder to shoulder filling up at least 3 full city blocks. And when we got to the lakefront, the crowd paused and pooled together in order to make a unified entrance to the event. And it was truly chilling. We somehow found ourselves in front of this march, looking backwards at the mass of people with a large sign reading “Solidarity March” acting as the billboard for the people behind it. Words really don’t do a thing like this justice. But luckily, I took video! (Posted below).

I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. It was a great feeling to be apart of something that seemed so authentic and real. It’s not an article on HuffPost, it’s not a petition email from the ACLU, and it’s not an exasperated comment below a Facebook
update. It was real people making a real presence. People getting out of their houses and joining together and standing up for themselves and what they believe in. Power to the people! Power to the working class! Hateful politicians and greedy corporations will not be allowed to marginalize the masses. Si se puede!

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Here is a link to a video I took of the march ascending on veteran's park.



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Politics: The People vs. Goldman Sachs

This article is great, and required reading if you want to hold court in any conversation related to the country's financial status.

I also want to say - Matt Taibbi is one of my favorite people in the world. Sorry, everyone else I know. This guy is doing the work. Plus, he's a great writer in and of itself, with lines like "a satanic derivative structure." I just like that he used such a strong adjective - he's following in Hunter S's footsteps, and at Rolling Stone, no less.

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"They were $13 billion short. That's big — 50 percent of their risk. It was so completely disproportionate."

Lloyd Blankfein went to Washington and testified under oath that Goldman Sachs didn't make a massive short bet and didn't bet against its clients. The Levin report proves that Goldman spent the whole summer of 2007 riding a "big short" and took a multibillion-dollar bet against its clients, a bet that incidentally made them enormous profits. Are we all missing something? Is there some different and higher standard of triple- and quadruple-lying that applies to bank CEOs but not to baseball players?

Saturday, May 07, 2011

A DARLING PARTY




As some of you may know, Wisconsin has been engaged in a number of recall efforts on the heels of Scott Walker's union busting legislation. Recalls are focusing on the Republican Senators who helped force through the bill with no debate or room for negotiations. (I know most media outlets make it sound like there are equal recall efforts for Democratic Senators too. In actuality, there might be small groups pushing it, but it’s a snowballs chance, and not in line with the true pulse of the Wisconsin people.)

Since debate and negotiation were taken off the table during the drafting of and crooked passing of this legislation, this has left the thousands of Wisconsinites with no other recourse but to recall their local Senators and force a new election. With even life-long Republicans feeling betrayed by their party, this bill strikes at the knees of the working class values Wisconsin has long stood for, and people of all stripes are now out in droves collecting signatures in order to tell these Republican Senators that they no longer represent their constituency.

Close to Milwaukee, Republican Senator Alberta Darling has been the focus of these recall efforts. Dedicated volunteers have been collecting signatures and putting the word out with signs, stickers and all means of localized communication. With the submission deadline for the recall signatures looming, the Recall Alberta Darling campaign put together a benefit event to help seal the efforts. But with so much momentum, the rally turned into a celebration, having collected and submitted the signatures needed a week early.

Held at the new bar Riverwest Public House, the nation's second non-profit/cooperative bar, people poured in early Friday evening. Braving the rain and forgoing Good Friday traditions, people came to celebrate the campaign with speeches, music, and a display of the signs and banners collected from the historic Madison Capitol protests. A truly diverse crowd, this hipster neighborhood bar was not only filled with the prototypical Friday night crowd, but at least half the crowd were older, blue-collar men and woman who probably haven’t been to a Friday night rock show in decades, if ever.

Channel 12 News made an appearance, with their anchorman rushing past the volunteers collecting the cover charge (a.k.a. my friend & I) in order to survey the room. To my knowledge, the event never made the air. (I’m sure more important things than a grassroots political upheaval were happening in this sleepy city that night, maybe a sale at Macy's or a golf tournament announcement.)

Overall, the night was a big success. Filled to capacity, the event was well orchestrated with a great line up of speakers (including Democrat Senator Chris Larson and Ruth Conniff, writer for the Progressive), several Milwaukee bands, and 88.9 DJ Dori Zori ending the night with a vivacious dance party. It was a another positive milestone in the labor movement, with the individuals who made the recall happen joining together as a group and celebrating the fruits of collective action. Solidarity!