STEVE JOBS AGAIN

He narrates this 60-second spot that could hardly be more fitting.

THE OCCUPIERS AGAIN

I ended yesterday’s comment about the Occupiers with: “Crowds make me nervous. Simple answers to complex problems make me nervous. But enough is enough.”

I’d like to add anger – anger makes me nervous. Anger, even when fully justified, doesn’t always lead to the best thinking or the best outcomes.

One of the good things about what I’ve seen of the peaceful protests so far is that they don’t seem to be about anger so much as determination – a recognition that things are broken and need to be fixed.

So as I said yesterday, it’s about time.

I’m not an activist, and I’m sure not brave. But how on Earth were there not left-of-center activists protesting on the steps of the Supreme Court day and night, rain and shine, from the day of the shameful Bush v. Gore decision to the day, more than eight years later, Bush left office? With signs reading, “Thieves!” Not so much to accomplish something specific – the Court would not reverse itself after reading those placards – but still. You know that if the situation had been reversed, the protesters would have been there.

And where were the activists when President Bush and his surrogates told everyone that “by far the vast majority” of the benefits of his tax cuts would go to people at the “bottom” of the economic ladder? With signs saying, “You Lie!” (Not during the State of the Union, certainly. But 24/7, for years, outside the White House?)

Where were they as the public option was being blocked, Elizabeth Warren was being blocked, the debt ceiling “crisis” was being manufactured – it’s a very long list.

So it’s about time.

As I suggested yesterday, the Tea Partiers are the unwitting agents of Karl Rove and the Kochs, working to squeeze ever more juice from the middle class and poor. If you didn’t have a chance to watch that Karl Rove clip, please try to watch at least up to the part where Rachel shows you the actual context out of which it is pulled. Stunning in its dishonesty. And there will be hundreds of millions of dollars more such ads coming our way over the next 13 months, compliments of the Rove / Koch / Clarence Thomas / Sarah Palin / Rush Limbaugh extended family.

All that said, crowds do make me nervous, and now that there’s this first statement from the Occupiers. I find lots in it not to fully support.

For example, the very first of the specific enumerated grievances against our corporate overlords:

“They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.”

Well, sort of. But are those who willingly took out mortgages saying they didn’t take out those mortgages? Or that the fair and honorable thing to do, if the mortgagees can’t locate the paperwork, is to welsh on the loans?

Or . . . “They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.”

Well, some have. But many work pretty hard at doing this right (last month Walmart added transgender provisions to its employee nondiscrimination policy). I know: moderate, qualified statements do not a rousing declaration make. But still.

Or . . . “They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.”

Well, again – I mean, where does one even start to qualify a statement like that? Other than perhaps to highlight the terrific way President Obama has improved the student loan system (against, as always, Republican opposition to helping anyone but the rich). Does every human have a right to a college education? If so, what sort of education must it be and how do we pay for it? Must this education involve a leafy physical campus or could it be web-based at a fraction of the cost? Did the students themselves have any responsibility in taking out those loans? Did the parents, in guaranteeing them?

And on and on.

But the fact remains that these peaceful demonstrations are great. Let’s just hope their energy is channeled constructively. If they are, Barack Obama just might win reelection with enough coat tails to take back Congress – so there’d be at least some prayer of getting on with the business of solving our problems and rebuilding the middle class. (Though, realistically, even a Senate Republican minority, if determined to do so, would still be able to bring the country to its knees.)

TRADING BOOKS, CDS AND DVDS

Larry Francis (whose email tag-line is: “A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.”): “Two unrelated things for your consideration. First, paperbackswap.com lets members (free membership) swap over a million books for the price of media mail (usually about $2.41). Hardback books and audio books are fine, too. The more books you list and swap, the more credits you get to swap for more books – or for CDs and DVDs on SwapaCD.com and SwapaDVD.com. There are more neat features, but that’s a taste. . . . Second, science and health have again lost to Tea Party politics here in Florida. Pinellas County (St. Petersburg, Clearwater) just voted to stop fluorodating drinking water, despite the pleas of dentists and doctors. The taxpayers will save a few dollars on chemicals, but lose a lot to dental health bills. Today’s St Pete Times explains that this is a Tea Party agenda item. Apparently, they see it as their local step in overturning ObamaCare.”

 

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