The forced clearing of Zuccotti Park this week represents a turning point for the Occupy Wall Street movement–one which possibly could be to its advantage. So far Occupy Wall Street has one significant achievement–turning discussion from which government program to cut next to an examination of how the system is rigged to transfer wealth from the middle class to the top one percent. Unlike the Tea Party movement, they show far more understanding of the issues they are discussing. These are important issues to bring to the nation’s attention considering the degree to which the unprecedented level of income inequality, along with the factually incorrect misconceptions upon which conservative economic policies are based, have caused our economy and country to stagnate in recent years.
The question has been where Occupy Wall Street would go from here. It has always been at risk of fading from attention, between a natural diminishing of interest over time and cold winter weather forcing many to return home. If the the movement was based upon a permanent occupation of Zucotti Park and other areas, it would soon become old news, assuming that it would never increase in size to the point where it would become appear even more meaningful. Zucotti Park would never become Tahrir Square in Cairo.
Now that they are being forced out of their around-the-clock encampments, OCS supporters have an important decision to make. They could become either the start of a new progressive movement in this nation, or a brief protest which loses its significance. They could center their activity upon fighting to maintain the protests in their current form, but this would be a Pyrrhic victory even if it could be achieved. Such a victory would do little to promote the more serious economic message behind the group. This would play into the hands of the dishonest propagandists for the authoritarian right from Fox and talk radio who would be able to exaggerate every episode of misconduct conducted by people in the area who have nothing to do with the actual movement, resulting in a further decline in their support. I wouldn’t be surprised to see end of year “news” summaries at Fox next month claiming that Occupy Wall Street supporters had spent the year molesting children in the showers at Penn State.
I hope that Occupy Wall Street decides to concentrate on promoting their economic message as opposed to fighting to continue their occupations. At this point intermittent political rallies and other events are likely to receive more media coverage than a permanent “occupation” which gradually dwindles in size over the winter. While OCS is quite distinct from the Democratic Party, I have seen multiple interviews in which supporters did acknowledge that the Democrats are far preferable to the Republicans on economic issues. As we face a tough race next year to prevent government control by supporters of the no-nothing polices of the far right, OCS members might devote some energy to getting out the vote, even if they feel compelled to hold their noses when voting Democratic. Perhaps they could even influence some Democratic primaries, as long as they don’t do this to nominate unelectable extremists as the Tea Party has done.
I also wouldn’t mind if they concentrated more on names such as the 99 percent rather than Occupy Wall Street should the occupations no longer become the centerpiece of the movement. Both the concentrating on occupying a location and the concentration on Wall Street alone distract from their central issue of how an unprecedented level of income inequality has been harmful to the nation, leading us to a position where we can no longer afford many basic government services and promoting of a 21st century infrastructure which would promote greater economic development.
Ohio State shows that a top program won’t go down with the coach, now having forced out two of their greatest coaches (Woodie Hayes and Jim Tressel). Jim Tressel shows he was right when he wrote in The Winners Manual for the Game of Life that “non-religious people can be moral and religious people can be immoral.” I’m sure he didn’t intend to be evidence of the second part himself.
There has been a tremendous link between Ohio State and Michigan historically, especially with the rivalry between Woody and his former assistant Bo Schembechler. It is ironic that both schools removed their head coach this year with rules violations and NCAA sanctions playing a role in both. In the case of Ohio State, rules violations were the only problem, while at Michigan Rich Rodriguez’s rules violations were just one more count against a coach who turned out to be a terrible fit from the start.
The coaching changes might should help restore a rivalry which has been far too one-sided since Tressel arrived. Tressel’s predecessor John Cooper had a record of 2-10-1 against Michigan, leading to his removal. I doubt a program such as Ohio States’s will fall this far again, unless brought about by severe sanctions from the NCAA. I’m sure that Ohio State’s motivation in pushing Tressel out was to transfer the blame to him and not the school, hoping to minimize sanctions. Their chances might have been better if they took action when they learned of Tressel’s deception back in January.
Despite the problems in Columbus, Michigan will have to improve tremendously from last year to beat Ohio State, along with Nebraska who is now the 12the team in the Big Ten (leaving the Big Twelve with only ten teams). There is considerable optimism that this will occur under new coach Brady Hoke, who at very least has avoided the mistakes Rodriguez made in his first few months at Michigan, including showing ignorance of the importance of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. It appears that Hoke might strengthen the offense by not relying solely on Denard Robinson, and hopefully improve the kicking game with the kicker starting in September. The biggest question is how quickly he can recover the defense, especially when using players recruited under Rodriguez.
It will be interesting to see how Jim Tressel and Rich Rodriguez do when looking for new jobs. Presumably Tressel will have the better chance, with many teams being willing to look beyond the fact that he lied during the NCAA investigation in light of his successful record. Rodriguez’s rules violations were less severe, but his record is now mixed with success at West Virginia followed by failure at Michigan.
In the case of Rich Rodriguez, it comes down to finding the right fit. He has shown he can win, at least at West Virginia, with the spread offense, but has no ability to alter his offense to fit the players on a team. His handling of other aspects of the game is questionable. I can see three scenarios for Rodriguez. He would be best off if a major team already using the spread should develop an opening at head coach. He would make an even better choice for a team utilizing the spread with an opening at offensive coordinator, but I don’t know if he would want to move downwards in this manner. A third possibility is that he might work out at a school which is not a major football power and is willing to take time to build a team under Rodriguez’s ideas. It would also help if this was in a weaker conference, such as the Big East, as opposed to the Big Ten.
This has got to be the worst day in the history of Buckeye football since Bo Schembechler upset them in 1969
Today Michigan beat Illinois 67-65 . That’s in football, not basketball. The win gives Michigan a record of 6-3 and makes Michigan bowl-eligible for the first time under coach Rich Rodriguez.
The two teams were frequently alternating scores with Illinois tying the game. Denard Robinson went out and backup quarterback Tate Forcier fumbled the ball on his first snap, allowing Illinois to take the lead. Robinson had already set a career and Michigan high with 305 passing yards. Forcier made up for his initial fumble with an additional 114 yards, including the tying touchdown before the game ultimately went into triple overtime.
ESPN provided information on the records set in this game:
This was the highest scoring game for Michigan. The previous high score was when Michigan beat West Virginia 130-0 in 1904.
This is also the highest scoring game of all time between two Big Ten teams.
The last FBS game with more points was when Navy beat North Texas 74-62 on November 10, 2007.
Hope and change were two big themes at the University of Michigan 2010 commencement in Ann Arbor Saturday morning as President Barack Obama gave the commencement speech. Several of those speaking prior to Obama discussed hope and change, relating it to both national policy and the changes in the University of Michigan football program in recent years.
Governor Jennifer Granholm thanked Obama for supporting the auto industry and other measures to help the economy recover. She also thanked Obama for delivering on many promises such as health care, along with thanking him for coming to Michigan rather than that school to the south.
Prior to speaking, President Obama was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree. Obama began by saying “Go Blue” as he admitted he was going for the “cheap applause line to start things off.” He discussed letters he reads to remain in touch with the world outside of Washington, including ones from children:
But it was the last question in the letter that gave me pause. The student asked, “Are people being nice?”
Well, if you turn on the news today – particularly one of the cable channels – you can see why even a kindergartener would ask this question. We’ve got politicians calling each other all sorts of unflattering names. Pundits and talking heads shout at each other. The media tends to play up every hint of conflict, because it makes for a sexier story – which means anyone interested in getting coverage feels compelled to make the most outrageous comments.
He noted that this is nothing new with political conflict being common through our history. Obama cited accomplishments of previous presidents of both parties, and those who opposed them, along with the proper role of government:
Of course, there have always been those who’ve opposed such efforts. They argue that government intervention is usually inefficient; that it restricts individual freedom and dampens individual initiative. And in certain instances, that’s been true. For many years, we had a welfare system that too often discouraged people from taking responsibility for their own upward mobility. At times, we’ve neglected the role that parents, rather than government, can play in cultivating a child’s education. Sometimes regulation fails, and sometimes its benefits do not justify its costs.
But what troubles me is when I hear people say that all of government is inherently bad. One of my favorite signs from the health care debate was one that read “Keep Government Out Of My Medicare,” which is essentially like saying “Keep Government Out Of My Government-Run Health Care.” For when our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it conveniently ignores the fact in our democracy, government is us. We, the people, hold in our hands the power to choose our leaders, change our laws, and shape our own destiny.
Government is the police officers who are here protecting us and the service men and women who are defending us abroad. Government is the roads you drove in on and the speed limits that kept you safe. Government is what ensures that mines adhere to safety standards and that oil spills are cleaned up by the companies that caused them. Government is this extraordinary public university – a place that is doing life-saving research, catalyzing economic growth, and graduating students who will change the world around them in ways big and small.
The truth is, the debate we’ve had for decades between more government and less government doesn’t really fit the times in which we live. We know that too much government can stifle competition, deprive us of choice, and burden us with debt. But we’ve also seen clearly the dangers of too little government – like when a lack of accountability on Wall Street nearly led to the collapse of our entire economy.
So what we should be asking is not whether we need a “big government” or a “small government,” but how we can create a smarter, better government. In an era of iPods and Tivo, where we have more choices than ever before, government shouldn’t try to dictate your lives. But it should give you the tools you need to succeed. Our government shouldn’t try to guarantee results, but it should guarantee a shot at opportunity for every American who’s willing to work hard.
Obama discussed the lack of civility and some of the more extreme and absurd attacks:
But we cannot expect to solve our problems if all we do is tear each other down. You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it. You can question someone’s views and their judgment without questioning their motives or their patriotism. Throwing around phrases like “socialist” and “Soviet-style takeover;” “fascist” and “right-wing nut” may grab headlines, but it also has the effect of comparing our government, or our political opponents, to authoritarian, and even murderous regimes.
Again, we have seen this kind of politics in the past. It’s been practiced by both fringes of the ideological spectrum, by the left and the right, since our nation’s birth.
The problem with it is not the hurt feelings or the bruised egos of the public officials who are criticized.
The problem is that this kind of vilification and over-the-top rhetoric closes the door to the possibility of compromise. It undermines democratic deliberation. It prevents learning – since after all, why should we listen to a “fascist” or “socialist” or “right wing nut?” It makes it nearly impossible for people who have legitimate but bridgeable differences to sit down at the same table and hash things out. It robs us of a rational and serious debate that we need to have about the very real and very big challenges facing this nation. It coarsens our culture, and at its worst, it can send signals to the most extreme elements of our society that perhaps violence is a justifiable response.
Obama talked about how the echo chamber can lead to greater polarization, advising people to pay attention to sources with other views. For example, he advised fans of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh to read The Huffington Post, and those who read The New York Times to read The Wall Street Journal, even if it makes their blood boil.
Today’s twenty-four seven echo chamber amplifies the most inflammatory soundbites louder and faster than ever before. It has also, however, given us unprecedented choice. Whereas most of America used to get their news from the same three networks over dinner or a few influential papers on Sunday morning, we now have the option to get our information from any number of blogs or websites or cable news shows.
This development can be both good and bad for democracy. For if we choose only to expose ourselves to opinions and viewpoints that are in line with our own, studies suggest that we will become more polarized and set in our ways. And that will only reinforce and even deepen the political divides in this country. But if we choose to actively seek out information that challenges our assumptions and our beliefs, perhaps we can begin to understand where the people who disagree with us are coming from.
This of course requires that we all agree on a certain set of facts to debate from, and that is why we need a vibrant and thriving news business that is separate from opinion makers and talking heads. As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
Still, if you’re someone who only reads the editorial page of The New York Times, try glancing at the page of The Wall Street Journal once in awhile. If you’re a fan of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, try reading a few columns on the Huffington Post website. It may make your blood boil; your mind may not often be changed. But the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship.
Obama encouraged the graduating students to be involved in public life. He cited John F. Kennedy speaking in Ann Arbor fifty years ago describing “the ideals behind what would become the Peace Corps.”
Before the conclusion of the commencement ceremony, Barack Obama was called upon again. In his role of Commander in Chief, President Obama swore in the members of the ROTC.
On issues such as health care and the stimulus the Democrats were right on the issues but the Republicans are winning the spin war. Paul Krugman compared the Democrats to Lucy and the Football, fearing they are not anticipating the Republican response to financial reform:
I have a theory about the problem here. My understanding is that Obama officials have looked at the polls, which show that the public overwhelmingly favors cracking down on Wall Street; so they assumed that the GOP wouldn’t dare stand in the way. But they seem not to have learned, even now, that the right has an awesome ability to create its own reality: that Mitch McConnell et al would stand in the way of reform while claiming to be taking a stand against Wall Street.
Nor can you count on the truth to sink in with the public. The conventions of he-said-she-said reporting, among other things, make it surprisingly easy to get away with even the most obvious hypocrisy.
And let’s be clear: there’s a sort of tribal thing going on (and I don’t necessarily mean race, although that’s part of it). The hard right has managed to convince a large number of Americans that it consists of people like them, whereas progressives are alien and untrustworthy; in the face of that, rational arguments don’t make much of a dent.
To break through that, you need hard-hitting campaigns and simple slogans. And I have a sinking feeling that once again, the Obama team is going straight for the capillaries. Let’s hope they prove me wrong.
I think the problem is not that the Obama administration fails to recognize that Republicans have an “awesome ability to create its own reality,” but that they have not been able to overcome this. I provided an example in the previous post which demonstrates that the Obama administration is aware of the problem. White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee showed such awareness in his characterization of the Republican response to financial reform:
Everybody knows a consultant just handed them that line and they’re just reading it. It doesn’t matter what’s in the bill. It could be a bill about breakfast cereal and they’re going to say this is a bailout bill.
The Super Bowl’s ok but I’m far more interested in whether the East Dillon Lions can upset the West Dillon Panthers in the big game on Friday Night Lights. GO EAST DILLON!!
I won’t give any more details about the season for the benefit of those waiting until NBC shows the series this spring, but I figure everyone realized that this showdown was inevitable after last season ended with Coach Eric Taylor being fired at what was then Dillon High School and getting a job at the reopened East Dillon High.
The season does get into an issue which readers of this blog should find interesting but I’ll let people see this as it develops.
One other minor (and predictable) mini-spoiler: Tim Riggins gets in trouble.
I really do not like the current Bowl Championship Series in college football. If the old system sometimes failed in choosing a college national championship by a vote after the New Year’s Day bowls, the new system is no better in picking the only two teams which can contend for the national championship after the end of the regular season. As faulty as the old system was, at least it kept several possibilities open depending upon how the New Year’s Day bowls played out. The current system also makes the New Year’s Day bowls, and all other bowls other than the single national championship game, almost meaningless. Either a return to the previous system or a play off would be preferable to the BCS.
As much as I do not like the BCS, and many other things in the world for that matter, it is not the role of government to step in and fix everything. Previously there has been talk of Congress investigating. Now the Justice Department is getting involved:
The Obama administration is considering several steps that would review the legality of the controversial Bowl Championship Series, the Justice Department said in a letter Friday to a senator who had asked for an antitrust review.
In the letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote that the Justice Department is reviewing Hatch’s request and other materials to determine whether to open an investigation into whether the BCS violates antitrust laws.
“Importantly, and in addition, the administration also is exploring other options that might be available to address concerns with the college football postseason,” Weich wrote, including asking the Federal Trade Commission to review the legality of the BCS under consumer protection laws.
Several lawmakers and many critics want the BCS to switch to a playoff system, rather than the ratings system it uses to determine the teams that play in the championship game.
“The administration shares your belief that the current lack of a college football national championship playoff with respect to the highest division of college football … raises important questions affecting millions of fans, colleges and universities, players and other interested parties,” Weich wrote.
Weich made note of the fact that President Barack Obama, before he was sworn in, had stated his preference for a playoff system. In 2008, Obama said he was going to “to throw my weight around a little bit” to nudge college football toward a playoff system, a point that Hatch stressed when he urged Obama last fall to ask the department to investigate the BCS.
Weich said that other options include encouraging the NCAA to take control of the college football postseason; asking a governmental or non-governmental commission to review the costs, benefits and feasibility of a playoff system; and legislative efforts aimed at prompting a switch to a playoff system.