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“George [Stephanopoulos] being a disgusting little rat snake”

I look forward to what should be an insightful analysis of Richard Kim's comments about Obama on the Journolist listserv.

Robert Gilbert

Seoul, Korea

Jul 21 2010 - 2:28am

If you combine the first three letters of "Cloward" and the last three of "Piven" you get... cloven!

If you combine the first three letters of "Cloward" and the last three of "Piven" you get... cloven! I knew it!

Norbert Hirschhorn

London, UK

Apr 15 2010 - 5:42am

Web Letter

Tea Partiers, Republicans and some Democrats are saying that the US is running out of money spending too much, etc. Down with Social Security, Medicare, etc.

Of course, few of them recommend raising taxes (say, on the rich only) as palliative or even, let it only be true, as a cure. So, it would seem, they are really fooling. It is not large unfunded expenditures they dislike at all. It is only certain large unfunded expenditures.

What about the military budget (including the dozen or so "intelligence" agencies and all the interest paid each year on military expenditures from the past which, like so many of today's expenditures, were borrowed instead of being paid for. Time was when military expenditures were for war-fighting or reasonable preparation for the same, but for twenty to thirty years military spending (don't forget all that espionage!) has been for exerting US control over the whole world, especially where folks really don't want such control.

I bet the Tea Partiers, like so many others, either approve of this enormous military expenditure or at least wouldn't dream of questioning it, not even, I'd guess, to the extent of asking a simple question: How large is the annual military expenditure? Never mind asking, what do we buy with it? Or asking why aren't UK and France and Germany and Russia and China suffering terribly because of their failure to buy the same thing with similar amounts of money?

Peter Belmont

Brooklyn, NY

Apr 3 2010 - 6:43pm

Web Letter

Whats going on here? Or in the words of Vince Lombardi, What the hell is going on here? I drive past the town post office today and a guy's out there at a table taking signatures for our president's impeachment! But I believe I know what's going on, and its been going on for a very long time (since the days of the founding fathers, and the demonization of the folks that were here before us): the representatives of the wealthy, corporations, Fox News and such, have convinced the very ones they're exploiting that their fears are gaining on them and will soon overtake them and what little they're allowed to have could be lost--divide and conquer (the working class). Passed up by a minority? Ahhh, never! Hang on brother, trust in me, we will make sure the white man regains his rightful place of power. Simplified, yes, but still true. The propagandists are not very sophisticated, but they need not be. Because the outing of the next boogie-man (commie, hippie, terrorist, minority) is always embraced with the arms of fear by the small-minded masses.

joe glinka

Kenilworth, NJ

Apr 2 2010 - 1:06am

Web Letter

I try not to be paranoid. But, whoa and hey... it's difficult.

A sister of mine who is a staunch "conservative" recently wrote me an e-mail in which she asks/states: "So now people like me are being told we 'have no business on this earth!' (?)"

She is a real astate agent who once worked three jobs while she raised two kids after divorce. She's been getting e-maill manifestos from the likes of Chuck Norris. Basically, they tell her her entire way of life is at stake--Jesus and family and private enterprise are all being compromised, if not hijacked, by the current "left-wing" administration, etc.

I don't even know what to say/write to her back. If I so much as suggest to her that there's some paranoid ideology out there that exploits her (whether inadvertently or not), I am immediately cut off, having become the "boogie."

Exactly ten years older than me--she married in her sophmore year in college, and then quit college, had two kids and within ten years was a single mom.

I got my masters degree. Already, right there, we're separated, like it or not. By way of college and an advanced degree, I have become something she has come to be suspicous of. "No business on this earth..."

Does that mean people like her, who align themselves with "conservatives," whether in their best interests or not, are feeling "disenfranchised" (to put it mildly)? And, if so, what does one say or do to bridge that gap, when, in fact, a plethora of "interests" not friendly to either of us appears to prevail---houses worth less than we've paid into, yet the banks are solvent by way of tax dollars (our dollars)?

I was going to comment on the Pliney thing, and how ACORN's been dissolved.... ah, well, enough. Please visit neonewspub.com. Thanks.

Barbara Molloy-Olund

Seattle, WA

Apr 1 2010 - 7:49am

Web Letter

This is a great piece, and much needed! The Tea Party assault is about much than an attack on two piece or an article they wrote. When they attack the "Cloward-Piven strategy"--the idea that an organized and outraged public can and ought to demand change--they are really attacking our most basic democratic tradition. Piven is a target precisely because her work has always supported democratic politics from below. She has devoted a lifetime of scholarship to studying how ordinary people, particularly poor people, can and do fight for social change to improve their lot in life. Case studies she has researched over several decades on the Revolutionary era, the abolitionist movement, the labor movement, the unemployed workers' movement in the '30s, the welfare rights movement and the civil rights movement all underscore a basic truth: people can redress the imbalance of power and wealth in our society when they organize and disrupt business as usual. That's the last thing that Glenn Beck et al. want Americans to realize and it helps explain why they are working overtime to offer a counter-narrative.

The right is using scare tactics, scapegoating, distortions, deception, lies and intimidation to immobilize or demobilize or better yet misdirect people to attack the right's perennial targets--like progressive taxation, social safety net programs or a widened franchise--rather than the real causes of our social and economic ills. These tactics undermine democratic politics. And as last summer's instructions to go shout down Congress people at town hall meetings turn to this spring's instructions to "break their windows" and legislators are subject to death threats and mob taunts, it is imperative that all small-d democrats respond. Insofar as Tea Party undemocratic tactics go unchallenged and insofar as they help them achieve their politic objectives, our democratic political institutions are weakened.

So please:

(1) If you are a journalist, columnist or blogger, please write about this. If you have journalist, columnist or blogger friends, ask them to write about it.

(2) If you are a teacher, please teach your students about our history of protest politics and the essential role that the democratic mobilization of people to demand change has played in our nation's progress towards social justice and equality. Consider doing a teach-in using Piven's Challenging Authority. How Ordinary People Change America.

(3) If you are a member of a professional organization, consider passing a resolution condemning the scapegoating, fearmongering and intimidation tactics of the Tea Party right and their attack not just on Piven and Cloward but on democratic politics.

(4) No matter who you are, go out and organize for the change we need in this country. Defend democratic politics by living it.

(5) Become a fan of the Piven and Cloward page on Facebook and urge your friends to do the same.

(6) Spread the word. Let folks know about whatever you do to respond (and let me know, too, so I can post it on the Facebook page).

Dorothee Benz

Brooklyn, NY

Apr 1 2010 - 7:13am

Web Letter

Kim's otherwise excellent article made one rather bizarre inclusion in his list of the usual suspects: "the tea party is an uneasy conclave of Ayn Rand secular libertarians and fundamentalist Christian evangelicals; it contains birthers, Birchers, racists, xenophobes, Ron Paulites, cold warriors, Zionists, constitutionalists, vanilla Republicans looking for a high and militia-style survivalists."

Why Zionists? Why should those who advocate the national liberation movement of the Jewish people be included among such a grim group of extremist right-wing fellow travelers?

We Nation-reading Zionists expect Kim to be correct, not politically correct.

Ilan Chaim

Jerusalem, Israel

Mar 31 2010 - 3:12am

Web Letter

So, it is the right that is hoping to convince everyone that Cloward- Piven is the strategy of the left! I think I just stepped through the looking glass! It is the right that has been orchestrating crisis and trying to force political change over the years, especially since Obama became president. And it's not just "orchestrating" crisis but also exploiting crisis. Just look at William Kristol's website, The Project For the New American Century, and the article "Rebuilding America's Defenses," September 2000, written exactly one year before 9/11, where the signatories (many of who came to power with Bush/Cheney) believed:

"Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event--like a new Pearl Harbor."

And let us never forget (although the mainstream "liberal" press would never touch this) what Bush said in April of 2002.

"The recession--no question, I remember when I was campaigning, I said, would you ever deficit spend? And I said, yes, only if there were a time of war, or recession, or a national emergency. Never thought we'd get----[laughter and applause]. And so we have a temporary deficit in our budget, because we are at war, we're recovering, our economy is recovering, and we've had a national emergency. Never did I dream we'd have the trifecta. [Laughter.]" (Remarks by the President at Meeting of the Leaders of the Fiscal Responsibility Coalition Room 450, Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building, April 16, 2002, from the official White House website)

And now we have the "birthers" and the "death panels" and "Obamacare," to name just a few. Talk about a "strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis!

Dana Cochrane

West Gardiner, ME

Mar 29 2010 - 8:39am

Web Letter

If there is any party that took advantage of crises it was the Republicans under Dick Cheney. When 9/11 ended they used the occasion to foist all of their paranoid fantasies on us, and it has cost us dearly, both in credibility and money. It has bankrupted us both financially and morally. When discussing Cloward-Piven, the peabrain party need only look in the mirror to see who exploited the American people.

richard geismar

New York, NY

Mar 26 2010 - 10:23pm

Web Letter

As we witness the reflex response of the Republican Congressional delegation to the tea partiers--their proverbial energized base, whether controllable within the GOP or not--a certain grim defeatism is evident in these Republican legislators. Getting a rise out of these "constituents" has limited rewards and hardly appears to be energizing to Congressional Republicans themselves. We see this clearly in the way they threw in the towel so quickly during the healthcare reform budget reconciliation proceedings. Republicans could have extended those proceedings for days, tying up the Democrats in a high-profile last stand. When finally some minor provisions were found that required sending the bill back to the House, the Democrats realized this was nothing more than a blip and got the House to approve the fixes within twenty-four hours. The Republicans could have kept beating on the Democrats and holding the package hostage in the Senate, rather than clearing it for return to the House. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) admitted that he had dozens of amendments in his pocket yet planned to offer only two or three. Other GOP senators were surely as well stocked with amendments and other obstructions and obviously chose to follow DeMint's course rather than launch most of these parliamentary projectiles. Alas, budget reconciliation--something that threatened the very foundations of the Republic in the GOP rhetoric of only a day or two earlier--proved to be but a footnote.

Until now, I have been dismissive of the argument that the best way for the Democrats to deal with the Senate filibuster issue is simply to insist that a filibuster be played in front of the public, rather than serve as a pre-emptive threat that kills debate before it starts. However, it now seems an excellent idea just to call the GOP's bluff and force them to filibuster, if they say they will. It appears that after about twenty-four hours of actual obstructionism, rather than playing just the threat of it, that the Republicans will get tired of this act. Their hearts just do not appear to be in it. Public ridicule of any ongoing filibuster, including well-chosen statements from the White House, could probably end filibusters fairly quickly and prove a very effective strategy for the Democrats. They just have to show enough resolve to sit through some of the unpleasantness so that they can turn it to their advantage.

Joel Parshall

Katy, TX

Mar 26 2010 - 11:28am