The OB Media Rundown for 2/12/12

Occupy Kindergarten: The Rich-Poor Divide Starts With Education

Economic class is increasingly becoming the great dividing line of American education.

The New York Times has published a roundup of recent research showing the growing academic achievement gap between rich and poor students. It prominently features a paper by Stanford sociologist Sean F. Reardon, which found that, since the 1960s, the difference in test scores between affluent and underprivileged students has grown 40%, and is now double gap between black and white students.

The children of the wealthy are pulling away from their lower-class peers — the same way their parents are pulling away from their peers’ parents. When it comes to college completion rates, the rich-poor gulf has grown by 50% since the 1980s. Upper income families are also spending vastly more on their children compared to the poor than they did 40 years ago, and spending more time as parents cultivating their intellectual development.

The Power of the Occupy Movement

You may question the power of the Occupy movement, but think back less than a year ago. The Tea Party was setting the agenda: the federal deficit and national debt were preeminent issues, President Obama was anxious to trim Social Security, Medicare and other essential social services in order to get any kind of  deal with the newly powerful and recalcitrant GOP leadership. Mitch McConnell and John Boehner had this president by the short hairs, and Barack Obama seemed eager to cut any deal he could. Millionaires and billionaires didn’t need to worry about losing their tax breaks.

Fast forward to September of last year. Occupy Wall Street goes to the heart of the financial industry, and within weeks the focus of political discussion had changed to the corruption without accountability of Big Banks, and the wide gap in wealth between the One Percent and the 99%. Issues of class and economic fairness that had been swept under the rug for years suddenly became issues for discussion. Middle class Americans began to understand that corporations and the wealthy were paying a lower tax rate than they were.

Across U.S., Occupy movement preparing for its next phase

The Occupy Wall Street encampments that sprang up in scores of cities last fall, thrusting “We are the 99 percent” into the vernacular, have largely been dismantled, with a new wave of crackdowns and evictions. Since clashes last month in Oakland, Calif., headlines have dwindled, too.

Far from dissipating, groups around the country say they are preparing for a new phase of larger marches and strikes this spring that they hope will rebuild momentum and cast an even brighter glare on inequality and corporate greed. But without the visible camps or clear goals, can Occupy become a lasting force for change? Will disruptive protests do more to galvanize or alienate the public?

Though still loosely organized, the movement is putting down roots in many cities. Activists in Chicago and Des Moines, Iowa, have rented offices, a significant change for groups accustomed to holding open-air assemblies or huddling in tents in bad weather.

Mortgage settlement: Guaranteed to be Worse Than Advertised

The Administration and the banks both want a pro-bank deal (the only minor point of difference is how much in populist gestures the banks have to submit to in order to get the much more valuable bennies they want). The only parties that cared to any degree about ordinary citizens were the dissident AGs. But they now have now given up any bargaining leverage over how this deal turns out.

The only power any party has in a negotiation is his threat to leave the bargaining table. The AGs can no longer do that. They’ve taken star turns, made ringing pronouncements of how great this pact is. They can’t possibly reverse themselves mere weeks down the road and say, whoops, this deal isn’t go great after all.

The AGs had to have known what they were doing in capitulating.

The big banks win again – Foreclosure victims get little help in a mortgage-settlement plan that only benefits the banks’ bottom line

Settlement or no, the housing crisis isn’t going away. The entire mortgage market at this point is backstopped by the government, and even so, housing prices are sliding. The roughly $1 trillion of underwater mortgages and the destruction of the rule of law in the private mortgage market need to be dealt with, one way or another. And they will be, whether through a restoration of a healthy housing market, or through the end of broad homeownership as part of the American experience.

Occupy Denver protests outside Democrats’ dinner

About 60 Occupy Denver protesters braved the cold tonight at a “No Confidence” rally outside the downtown Sheraton Hotel where the Colorado Democratic Party is holding its annual Jefferson Jackson dinner.

“Democrats Vote as Corporate Tools” and “Democrats: Why don’t you support your platform?” signs bobbed through the crowd to the pounding of drums.

Occupy protesters target California Democrats

Even with Democrats supporting higher taxes on the wealthy this November, Occupy protesters still found fault with California’s majority party at their annual convention in San Diego on Saturday.

About 100 Occupy members protested outside the San Diego Convention Center, where the state party was holding the convention, sounding off on themes similar to those being discussed inside. But protesters said some Democrats had let them down by supporting the indefinite detention of terror suspects and spending millions on political campaigns.

“Don’t just watch us, come and join us,” and “Get up, get down, there’s revolution in this town,” they chanted.

Protesters occupy logging expo to fight clear-cutting

As Meagan Fischer stood outside the Shasta District Fair grounds today, a truck drove by and a passenger yelled at her “treehugger.”

She looked back. “Yea, treehugger. Wooh,” she shouts, clutching her sign.

She’d come from Chico to join about two dozen people outside the 2012 Sierra Cascade Logging Conference today. They were protesting the damage logging does to the environment – specifically through clear-cutting, said Mike Contreras, 42. A member of Occupy Redding, he came to the protest because the machinery and chemicals used in clear-cutting had left parts of the Sierra Cascade resembling a “checkerboard,” he said.

Palin mic-checked at CPAC

Protesters chanting “mic check, mic check,” a calling card of the Occupy Wall Street movement, momentarily disrupted former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as she spoke to conservative activists gathered Saturday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

12 Hours at CPAC, the ‘Mardi Gras of the Right’

Just when things were beginning to drag a bit at yesterday’s Conservative Political Action Conference — dubbed “the Mardi Gras of the Right” by the American Spectator — Occupy D.C. showed up, and the future of American conservatism, several thousand strong, wandered out onto the front lawn of the Marriott Wardman Park to sneak a cigarette and catch a bit of the action. Protesters pounded the pavement in front of a jumbo inflatable “fat cat,” complete with fangs and three-piece suit, which had its paws around the neck of an inflatable Joe American. Teamsters, U.A.W. members, and Occupiers surged up the driveway. The police closed in. Taunts sailed back and forth over their heads.

Rebecca DiFede, a CPAC participant with a silver business card case and pink tongue stud, watched from the sidelines. “I just saw Ann Coulter speak,” she said. “She opened with, ‘Hello one-percenters. Welcome to Occupy the Marriott.'”

LGBTQ Activists To Occupy WeHo Hyatt Tonight Via Street Theatre

If you’re shacking up at the Andaz West Hollywood tonight, prepare for protest. Hundreds of activists will rally at the Hyatt hotel Saturday evening to fight for equal rights and fair working conditions for employees.

The swarm of protesters will include hotel workers, LGBTQ activists, members of OUT and Occupy, a coalition fighting for “social, economic and political justice for all LGBTQ people in solidarity with the Occupy movement” and Courage Campaign members. Their mission? To “break up” with Hyatt Hotels.

Up Next: The Anti-Occupy Documentary

Steve Bannon stood outside the room where his Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated was screening, sending e-mails with his fun. The item he was trying to put in front of people: This trailer for his new movie about the Occupy movement.

“It’s a quick turnaround,” he says. “We’re putting it together in three, four months. We’ve got all kinds of underground, inside footage of the movement. It. Will. Shock people.”

Conservative activists to share D.C. park with occupy protesters for five weeks

Conservatives are trying out a new strategy with occupy protesters. Rather than wait for demonstrators to show up at various right of center events, the National Center for Public Policy Research decided to obtain a five week permit that allows for the group to hold events every day in the eastern third of Freedom Plaza, another DC park where occupy protesters have set up shop, from February 12 until March 15 between the hours of 11: 00 AM and 2:00 PM. Freedom Plaza is located at 13th and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

The first event of many — dubbed “Occupy Occupy D.C.” — will be the noontime rally on the 13th.

According to National Center, this is the “first known occurrence anywhere in America where conservatives have successfully applied for and received a permit and received a permit that rolls back the sprawl of an Occupy encampment.”

The Occupy Movement: How we reclaim our country

In a previous commentary on The Stump, “Occupy: From reactors to deciders” (Dec. 24), I suggested that the Occupy movement will likely hit a wall if it doesn’t link its street dissent to the ballot box; that protest and disruption alone will never put this country in our hands. It is imperative that we move away from a mindset of challenging power to one of taking power by changing our focus from pressuring the powers that be to becoming the powers that be. But how?

First and foremost, we must keep the public on our side by going beyond agitating and resisting, tactics that in the end can only get us a watered-down outcome. To remain credible, our movement must lay out a believable plan to the solutions and vision we propose, a path that is perceived as doable and that remains nonviolent.

The power center of our country is the U.S. Congress, controlled by Wall Street majorities in the House and Senate. To replace their majorities with ours, we must win 218 seats in the House and a 60-seat filibuster majority in the Senate. Without those numbers, there is no government of, by and for the people.

ILWU recognized at EGT grain terminal

On Feb. 1, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 was officially recognized as the representative of workers at the state-of-the-art EGT grain terminal in Longview, Wash. According to an ILWU Coast Longshore Division news release, “EGT and ILWU representatives then signed a recognition agreement and committed to negotiate the details of a collective bargaining agreement for all landside and shipside operations in the next several days.” Workers hired by EGT through the Local 21-Pacific Maritime Association hiring hall voted in a card-check process, affirming the ILWU while already at work in the terminal.

A joint ILWU-EGT press statement announced the first test ship will dock at the terminal on Feb. 7. ILWU members will work it. This ship is key to readying the terminal for full production which had been scheduled for 2011 harvest. The ship reportedly has been anchored four hours away from Longview for weeks, held back by the threat of a massive protest. ILWU rank-and-file members, the Occupy movement and workers across the country vowed to block the massive carrier if there was any attempt to load the ship without ILWU workers.

An ‘excess of democracy’: what two generations of radicals can learn from each other

The ability of the Occupy movement to create platforms outside our closed political system to force open a debate on inequality, the taboo at the heart of the financial crisis, is impressive. It is a new source of political creativity from which we all have much to learn.

At the same time, no veteran of the movements of the late 1960s and 1970s can help but be struck by similarities. There’s the same strong sense of power from below that comes from the dependence of the powerful on those they dominate or exploit. There’s the creative combination of personal and collective change, and the bringing together of resistance with experiments in creating alternatives here and now. There’s the spurning of hierarchies and the creation of organisations that are today described as ‘horizontal’ or ‘networked’ – and that now with the new techno tools for networking have both more potential and more ambiguity.

And the same hoary problems reappear: informal and unaccountable leaderships, the tensions between inclusion and effectiveness. The Tyranny of Structurelessness, the 1970s pamphlet that tackled these unanticipated pitfalls from the perspective of the women’s liberation movement in particular, may be well read.

Occupy Redlands [CA] to launch radio show

Grassroot Occupy movements have cropped up throughout the country demanding change in the U.S. political and economic system.

Occupy Redlands – which formed in October 2011 – is a movement which seeks to improve the quality of life in its community, the Inland Empire and the nation through their civilian voices calling for change.

But unlike many Occupy movements, the group will attempt to spread their message further through its own weekly mainstream radio program to launch tonight.

Diversity of tactics – and uniformity of outcomes

The decisions and strategies Cagle reports on may well have their self-contained logic, but like the economist and the psychotic, their world might end up inscrutable to outsiders. If Occupy loses its simple, obvious and visceral appeal to the 99% – remember them? – then get ready for a full retrenchment of the status quo.