Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Now About That Fence

Michele Bachmann, a Republican Congresswoman from Minnesota, talks to Arizona legislators about border security at the Arizona Capitol Monday. 

Michele Bachmann, once a Tea Party favorite for the GOP Presidential nomination, visited with Arizona Republican legislators at the state capitol Monday. She talked about securing the border and promised that, if elected, she would complete a border fence. 

Afterwards she held a press conference where a couple of protesters tried, unsuccessfully, to shout her down. Other protesters, who stayed quiet, tried to ask her some questions during the q&a, but she didn't recognize them or tackle their questions. 

There are more photos of Bachmann in my archive or available from ZUMA Press

Monday, October 17, 2011

There's Something Happening Here...

...What It Is, Is Increasingly Clear
An OccupyPhoenix protester sleeps on the sidewalk in front of Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown Phoenix Monday morning. 

With apologies to Stephen Stills. The original lyric "For What It's Worth" is "There's something happening here, What it is ain't exactly clear." That song and those lines have been played and recited a lot by the mainstream media as they grapple with covering the Occupy movement and the movement's goals. 

The movement's diffuse nature and their dedication to open democracy confuses people used to covering the Tea Party, which say what you will, is disciplined. 

Spend any time with Occupy protesters though and it's very clear what they want. 

It boils down to economic justice. They're angry, especially at banks but also other large corporate interests that pocket millions and billions in profits while the middle class of the US shrinks and the gap between the rich (the 1%) and everyone else (the 99%) grows ever wider.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Demanding Justice

An Occupy Phoenix protester leads a chant in front of the Bank of America in Phoenix Friday night during a march to kick the Phoenix edition of the Occupy protests. 

About 300 people, from button downed office workers to anarchists marched through central Phoenix Friday evening to start the Occupy Phoenix that organizers hope will last through the autumn. The protest has been organized to support the Occupy Wall Street protest that has been going on in lower Manhattan since September 17. Protesters have a list of issue, but they are most angered by the growing economic inequality in the US, with the very rich getting richer while the middle class shrinks and working class falls further and further behind. The banks are a special target of protesters' ire. They are angry that the largest banks, which arguably caused the recession and economic meltdown, have gotten billions in federal assistance but, protesters claim, are now not lending or reinvesting in the community. 

These protests are sweeping the country and have been called the "American Autumn" just as protests in the Arab world earlier this year have come to be called the "Arab Spring." The march in Phoenix was spirited but peaceful and the protesters were looking forward to the occupation which starts Saturday. 

There are more photos of the protest in my archive and available from ZUMA Press

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Sign of the Times

A woman paints a sign in anticipation of the Occupy Phoenix demonstration planned for next weekend. 

The movement started by the folks who occupied Wall Street last month is making its way across the country. Next week, the movement is coming to Phoenix. Organizers of the Occupy Phoenix protest are planning a march next Friday evening that will wind through downtown, stopping at the large banks that are special objects of the protestors anger, before going to Cesar Chavez Plaza near City Hall for a rally that will start a weekend of actions in downtown. 

The Occupy movement caught a lot of people by surprise. They were barely covered by the so called "main stream media" at first and a lot of people outside the movement don't seem to know what the demonstrators want. 

I thought the New York Times' Paul Krugman had the most interesting analysis when he said in a recent column that the occupy movement was like a left wing Tea Party, except that unlike THE Tea Party, which  supports large banks (or at least opposes regulations on those banks) the participants of the Occupy movement were angry at the right people - large banks and corporate officials who pocket huge profits and guarantee large salaries for corporate officers, (in the US, corporate CEOs make 450 TIMES the average salary of their regular workers). The protestors are angry because CEOs and high ranking corporate officials pocket large bonuses while cutting pay for regular workers and in many cases, laying workers off. The real surprise is why people didn't rise up in anger sooner than this. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Twinkling for a Candidate

Russell Pearce supporters wave their hands silently in the air, a form of applause called "twinkling" during a debate in Mesa Thursday night. 

There's an election in Mesa next month. Russell Pearce, the fiercely conservative, fiercely Republican and darling of the Tea Party, President of the Arizona State Senate is the subject of a recall election and is being forced to defend his seat from a challenge by a Jerry Lewis, a fellow Republican. The Democrats are not running a candidate against Pearce, who is from one of the most consistently Republican legislative districts in the state.  

The two men met for a debate in Mesa Thursday night. 

Pearce, a long time politician, talked about his accomplishments - his authorship of and the passage of SB 1070, one of the most strict anti-immigration bills in the country; his support for lower taxes and support of gun owners' rights. 

Lewis, a political novice running for office for the first time, talked about his vision for a better Arizona, one not sullied by the extremism some say Pearce has caused.  

Obviously, neither man talked about the baggage he carries. Pearce blamed the recall on liberal political operatives from outside the district, essentially ignoring the fact that more 15,000 people who live in his district signed petitions calling for his recall. He wasn't asked about and didn't address charges that he improperly accepted gifts from the Fiesta Bowl organization. Nor was he questioned about charges that his supporters actually recruited a third candidate to run against him and take votes away from Lewis. A Maricopa County court found the charges to be true, but the third candidate, Olivia Cortes dropped out of the race, which made the question mute. 

Lewis, the newcomer, was not asked about and did not address charges circulating on right wing blogs that he improperly diverted non-monetary gifts away from the charter school he ran.