Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Occupy Los Angeles

It's a little past one in the morning, I'm tired, and I'm getting ready to go to bed. I've been up watching the news coverage of the LAPD removing the occupy Los Angeles protesters from city hall, and so far, all is peaceful. I don't know what I expected, but I' am pleased that both sides have remained non violent. Unlike Oakland and to a lesser extent New York City, the police in Los Angeles have used a minimalist approach to things. Move a few feet, ask people to leave, and when arrests have been made, it's been done gently. Far better than the reclaiming territory emphasis of other cities.
While I support the occupy movement, I've also become concerned that the protesters have become addicted to the political theater of the actual occupations. In the long run, it's only through political action, and in the United States that means registering to vote and elections, that real progress can be made in turning back the tide of right wing success. And that is an illustration of the strength of the right wing in America.
Conservatives didn't just arrive, and over night, replace the age of Roosevelt with the age of Ronald Reagan. They made incremental progress, year after year, moving the center further and further to the right fringes of politics. Those of us on the left came out, voted and elected Barack Obama, an early step in reclaiming the country from the clutches of the Allen Greenspans of the world. And when a liberal House of Representatives sent progressive legislation to the Senate, it died there. President Obama negotiated, made deals and saved a lot, but no where near enough, of that legislation. Our reaction to that should have been to elect even more liberals to congress and move the center back to where it was during the Great Society days of the Johnson administration. But instead, too many of us stayed away from the polls. I don't know whether that was the reaction of spoiled children, crying that we didn't get our way, right now, or whether we were just too preoccupied with other things to care. In any case, we gave congress to the Tea Party, and set the liberal movement back a few years. The Occupy Movement is a beginning. I just hope it doesn't become a dead end.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Penn State

I've had a few days for it all to process, and I have to say I'm not all that surprised about what's coming out of Penn State. As far as the child sex allegations go, while disturbing and worthy of harsh punishment, they're also not uncommon. Like it or not, it happens.
It's the fact that Penn State sought to cover things up, and in the process, allowed Jerry Sandusky to continue his actions that seems to be the real issue. In our society, we've granted a cult like status to big time college sports. At PSU, there has also been a cult of personality that has built up around Joe Paterno. (I went to Penn State, I'm in my mid-fifties, and it was part of the university's culture way back then.)
In the end, all involved moved to protect the church. It's human nature. The obvious parallel is the Catholic Church sex scandal, but it's hardly limited to the local parish. Whether it's the wilful ignorance of Steve Jobs and conditions in Apple's Chinese manufacturing plants or the defense of Roman Polanski, those we deify too often get a free ride.