Watching Newsweek's Eleanor Clift confront the question "Are most political reporters simply insiders?" is a discomfiting experience. Her struggle to defend the indefensible unavoidably inspires compassion for her uneasy predicament. But the case she makes so proves the point that any sympathy engendered morphs quickly into cynicism.
The political reporter appeared on a Dec. 29, 2011, panel discussion on Al Jazeera, subtitled the question du jour. Joining her were Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, of whose candidacy Clift knew nothing. Al Jazeera devoted a third of the half-hour program's opinions to the former Salt Lake City mayor. Clift apparently had never heard of him.
"I think Rocky Anderson is running probably to get his issues out there, more than from an expectation that he might necessarily win," she awkwardly speculated aloud, unsure about the Justice Party's name, no less.
The news media is full of it these days. The Republican presidential primaries, that is. But thanks to the short attention span of most news organizations, by the time you read this, the New Hampshire primary will be a distant memory, the Iowa caucuses ancient history. So it’s on to South Carolina, for yet another show business extravaganza masquerading as democratic politics.
A bottomless schedule of television debates interrupted only by an endless stream of spin and speculation ought to satisfy even the most avid political junkie. It’s news workers themselves who can’t get enough of this stuff. At times, it seems the entire U.S. press corps is suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Coal Free IU, Sierra Club
Student leaders with Coal Free IU weren’t deterred by frigid temperatures when they delivered stacks of more than 5,000 petitions to IU President Michael McRobbie on Jan. 13. The action is part of the ongoing student-led campaign demanding action to retire the dirty, outdated and polluting coal plant on campus and replace it with cleaner, healthier energy sources.
The university’s Central Heating Plant on campus burns around 68,000 tons of coal each year and is the largest single source of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide pollution in Monroe County. Burning coal also releases other dangerous pollutants including mercury, lead and arsenic and can cause cancer, heart disease and trigger more severe asthma attacks.
“I always knew I wanted to go to school at Indiana University, but I didn’t know that doing so would mean having to deal with a dirty, polluting coal plant right on campus that poses a threat to students’ health,” said IU senior and Coal Free IU President Megan Anderson. "Instead, IU should be investing in innovative, 21st century clean-energy solutions that will mean cleaner air for everyone in Bloomington."
Update: Bloomington activists on Jan. 5 released a video of the New Year's Eve arrests, which can be linked to here. The Bloomington Alternative has requested copies of all visual and audial recordings made by police during the confrontation.
If mainstream media reports on a New Year's Eve demonstration in downtown Bloomington are given any credibility, the only crimes committed that evening were perpetrated by a couple protesters, and the city's lightweight mayor may take away Occupy Bloomington's tents for their indiscretions.
But mainstream media reports on social justice issues, especially on the police, have little to no credibility. By institutional design, they are propaganda for the economic elite, managed by law enforcement to shock the masses (and produce profits for media companies). The real news from Bloomington is that the "noise demo" that took place along its streets as the year turned was part of a coordinated, ongoing, global struggle against the corporate police state.
In a must-read report issued by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Jan. 3, arguments made by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, American Legislative Exchange Council, National Right to Work Committee and other out-of-state and corporate special interest groups pushing for a so-called "right to work" (RTW) law here in Indiana are taken to the woodshed.
These groups have been playing fast and loose with the facts in an attempt to hide the political motivations behind "right to work" and distract our elected officials from working to create good jobs for Hoosier families. According to the EPI's independent review, statements and materials distributed by interest groups to the Indiana General Assembly have supplied lawmakers with blatantly incomplete, outdated and twisted information.
While Occupy protesters nationwide occupy presidential headquarters, take over foreclosed homes and reclaim their encampments, Occupy Chicago has turned to the stage in their efforts to engage citizens in the grassroots’ struggle against corporate elites.
Occupy Chicago organizers produced a show based on a Charles Dickens classic titled Occupy My Heart to celebrate the movement and bring its spirit and message to a broader audience. The premiere was on Dec. 23 outside at the Lincoln Memorial in Grant Park. On Dec. 24, it was broadcast as a radio performance during Marshall Stern’s Awakened America. The play was also performed indoors for free at the Prop Theatre on Dec. 26 and at Studio BE on Dec. 27, according to Occupy Chicago’s website.
“It's a great vehicle to get people interested and to bring more people into the conversation who might not come out to a protest — but who might come to a play," Hannah Friedman, director of “Occupy My Heart: A Revolutionary Christmas Carol,” said in a Dec. 24 Chicago Tribune article about a staged Christmas Carol-esque protest show put on by the Occupy Chicago activists.
Seven weeks before Jill Stein declared her candidacy for president, the Lexington, Mass., physician outlined her priorities in a plan she called the "Green New Deal" – jobs, climate change, universal health care and peace. When she announced her bid for the Green Party nomination on Oct. 24, 2011, the Chicago native presented herself as an alternative to the two "Wall Street parties.”
“They’re privatizing education, rolling back civil liberties and racial justice, plundering the environment and driving us towards the calamity of climate change,” she said in a news release accompanying her announcement. "… We need people in Washington who refuse to be bought by lobbyist money and for whom change is not just a slogan.”
With images of mass demonstrations and police brutality gripping the world, the Occupy Wall Street movement marked its three-month anniversary on Dec. 17. Skeptics have questioned the movement’s momentum since its beginning and have claimed it wouldn’t last long enough to deliver any significant message. But protesters around the nation are feeling stronger and more united than ever, attracting more participants and expanding their confrontations with corporate greed and influence.
“This movement has been built on the need of the working class and the middle class,” New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodríguez told marchers during a daylong protest in Lower Manhattan. “This movement is not going anywhere, is not leaving this city, unless we take particular initiatives to close the gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent."
While citizen advocates hail indictments charging Gov. Mitch Daniels's chief utility regulator with official misconduct, they say David Lott Hardy is but a symbol of rampant corruption during the outgoing governor's two terms. A Marion County grand jury on Dec. 12, 2012, indicted the former chair of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) on three felony counts in cases concerning Duke Energy Corp.
"Although assaults on democracy are bipartisan and in Indiana date back to the Bayh administration, Mitch Daniels has taken crony capitalism to new heights," ValleyWatch's John Blair said in a statement issued to The Bloomington Alternative. "It seems there is nothing he won't do to enrich his corporate friends at the expense of taxpayers and ratepayers. And although he must share the blame with his appointed IURC, which is still inherently corrupt, it is clear the problem here runs to the top of the Daniels administration."
Americans who feel betrayed by timid, capitulatory leadership from Democrats like President Barack Obama and Indiana Senate candidate Joe Donnelly now have a candidate to consider at the presidential level. On Dec. 12, 2011, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson announced his candidacy on the Justice Party ticket and the next day laid out a cogent progressive agenda on Democracy Now!
"Although hailing from a solidly red state, Anderson has been known as one of the most progressive mayors of any major U.S. city in recent years," host Amy Goodman said in her introduction to the report. "During his two mayoral terms from 2000 to 2008, Anderson was an outspoken champion of LGBT rights, environmental sustainability and the antiwar movement in opposition to the Iraq War."