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Stein and Honkala's act of civil resistance

I think it's super that the entire top of the ticket of the Green Party got themselves arrested in an act of civil resistance against foreclosure. In fact, that would be a great theme for a bus tour -- we all know how Presidential candidates like bus tours, right? -- through the epicenters of the crisis: OH and FL are both swing states, ha ha ha. Stop the bus for the day, get arrested, get out of jail, continue on to next stop, and repeat until national coverage snowballs (which it would; Stein is getting amazing coverage, given the givens).

That said, the way the story played out makes me cranky.

(And no time for linky goodness; I've got to go out and finish another garden task.)

From the Barcalounger:

1. Apparently (coverage is weak) they were arrested in Philly at "a bank." All the coverage I can find doesn't mention the name of the bank. The demonstration that preceded the arrests was at Fannie Mae; that could be the main office at 1900 Market Street, or the regional office at 1835 Market Street. If the former, the bank might have been TD Bank (see Google); if the latter, the bank might have been the Conestoga Bank (see partial image here, and Google). Philly residents on the ground please correct me! Because there's a ton of banks on Market Street.

2. It's unfortunate that Fannie Mae is named, and the bank isn't, for two reasons:

(a) At the time of the arrests, Geithner (i.e., the Obama campaign) was running a kabuki "strongly worded letter" schtick to get Fannie Mae to agree to principal modifications, which of course they didn't. So I don't know why the Greens are getting involved with Fannie Mae during that time, since all it does is confuse Green branding with D branding. If I were foily, I might guess that the Greens got sucked into that framing by some putative allies like a "progressive" D front group.*

(b) The real issue is not Fannie Mae, but the banks. But because we don't know which bank they got arrested at, we can't connect this narrative to any other narrative. That's a #FAIL.**

3. I don't agree with the messaging at all. A "preferential option for the poor" is all very well, indeed noble, but I don't think it captures enough of the electorate. Victim narratives are marginal by definition. "There but for the grace of God go I" and "We're all in this together" get trumped by "I'm still middle class," "I played by the rules," "I didn't take on too much debt," in addition to the general viciousness of "I've got mine, screw you, Jack!" The message, even though it is true, that the banksters are throwing the impoverished out on the street, doesn't resonate, especially when people, as they do in times of great anxiety, hold onto denial.

However, a message that the banks are screwing everybody, which also has the merit of being true, would reach a lot more people. Look what the banksters did to 401ks! Look what they did to the land title system! Look what they did to small investors! And on and on and on. (Note that this makes the obfuscation of which bank they were at all the more of a lost opportunity). Having achieved that level of conversation, you can start talking about real policy (like Keen's debt jubilee), which you just can't do at the level of "keeping people in their homes."

Anyhow, my $0.02 FWIW.

NOTE * Look like the sponsoring organization was Honkala's Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign; so perhaps I was too foily (and it's true that Honkala was an effective vote getter and activist in Kensington, so they're effective, even if their web site is a disaster).

NOTE ** There's no point grousing that the media won't do the right thing. It's any campaign's job to manage the media, and the Greens are no exception. For example, and definitely from the Barcalounger, if Stein had been wearing a T-shirt that said: "I'm getting arrested at BoA! Ask me why!" there's be no question which bank to target with posts, inquiries, etc.

UPDATE Yes, Conestoga. Who the fuck ever heard of Conestoga?! Why not BoA and Obama's "savvy businessman," Jamie Dimon? Of course, the Examiner had the slideshow and not our famously free press. Sigh. More on the Jill Stein site. But shit, I can't be quoting a party's site as an authority, any more than I'd quote Romney's site or Obama's site. It's all agitprop by definition, and if it isn't, it should be. That's what party sites are for!

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jest's picture
Submitted by jest on

re: #2: The homeowner's notes were owned by FNM. They were trying to work out a deal with the note owner, that's why it was against them. The protest originally started at their offices, but they were told by lesser staff to either take $2000 & be quiet or get kicked out. They got kicked out and were forced into Conestoga Bank nearby.

I've done work with Occupy Our Homes, and it's not as simple as you are making it out to be. I know of a case where someone had the same problems with Fannie (just about every mortgage is related to them), and Fannie refused to work out their loan. That's a different cry from their servicer, BofA, who can't modify the loan, only process paperwork. In some cases, FNM is just as bad as the banks. The "messaging" gets complicated because the situation is complicated.

It's not clear who the servicer was in the PA demonstration, but it's not clear how much the servicer can do since they don't own the note.

re: 3. I have problems with that argument. You're basically saying "F the poor, the middle class deserves more support", which is a lite form of class division. It's one of the reasons Occupy never fully resonated with the poor, because of that dynamic. When in fact, everyone is in the same boat. I realize your point about "everybody," but "everybody" includes the poor by definition.

Also, a "debt jubilee" for student debt is already part of her platform. But I think you know that already. (?)

Submitted by Aquifer on

that the situation was probably not as simple as lambert may have appeared to paint it, but I disagree that opening up the appeal to the middle class can be read as saying "F the poor ..." I think the point is to pierce the veil of smugness that too many have and bring home the idea that, indeed, there but for the grace of God ... (added benefit of bringing God into the conversation when addressing "middle America").

This stuff won't get fixed until there is a critical mass that wants to fix it - and if we wait for the actual real life poor to form that critical mass, we will have waited too long. I do believe it is true that folks will generally only support actions/causes that benefit themselves or folks they relate to or can identify with, so the need is to get those "middle America" folks to understand that, indeed, they are more related to, and hence should identify more with, the poor than to/with the rich. The banks' outrageous actions make that possible perhaps for the first time in a long time ....

Submitted by lambert on

It took a reasonably linkable and well-disposed blogger (moi) around half an hour working with Google to succeed in partially doping out what was going on. Plenty of people aren't going to take that amount of time, and so for them, their representations are going to be even simpler. This is a problem. But it's not my problem. I certainly hope when the matching funds come through, some priority is given to the media operation (and no, I'm not fishing).

Submitted by Aquifer on

you would be a GREAT asset to their campaign (smile) but sometimes an event doesn't have to have all the t's crossed and the i's dotted - was it not enough that the candidates showed they were willing, unlike Obama, not only to "march" with the folks they claim to represent, but to get arrested for them? You are right, maybe more could have been squeezed out of it, especially filming the entire arrest process, but methinks it was worth more, in this case, if it indeed wasn't scripted, but unfolded ...

I have suggested on more than one occasion that they really need to spend money on good video equipment and use it "liberally" .....

Submitted by Aquifer on

re "strategy" and i agree that it is good to make a wider appeal by pointing out banks are screwing EVERYONE, which is indeed true, but as for the details of the arrest - when does "scripting" become manipulation? It seems to me that something like this may be "worth" all the more for it's "faults" - not totally "scripted", responding to events on the ground, as they happen.

Personally, I've had it up to my ears, or other parts of my anatomy, with campaigns being consumed by "strategy" - to me that's all the Dems are is one "strategy" after another, principle got lost or tossed overboard a long time ago. "Slick" campaigns may win awards as Obama's did in '08 - but the slicker they get the more devoid of substance they become.

Frankly, I don't want professional pols running the show - if these folks are discounted because they demo'd at the "wrong" bank, there is something so wrong with us that renders it all moot - as i know some are arguing anyway ...

Stein in a billboard T-shirt? Well that can be mocked in the same way as pandering ... I like her "uniform" - pants suit and scarf - classy, IMO - why be a chameleon for purposes of cheap press ....

Submitted by lambert on

... then functioning as successful parties do, at an operational level, isn't optional, but essential. In fact, functioning in any other way approaches self-indulgence.

If you don't like the T-shirt, then think of another way to get the name of the bank into the picture, instead of "Con.... a" as the AP picture is now. This isn't a fashion issue, but a messaging issue, a narrative issue.

Ditto the cardboard signs in thin marker, too thin to show up in the photographs. It's no good to complain about the message not getting across when it's quite visible that everything is not being done to get the message across.

UPDATE Adding, people are clearly putting their bodies on the line here. That's a good thing, but it implies to me that it's up to the party to make sure their sacrifices yield maximum advantage nationally (because Stein and Honkala are running a national campaign). If you don't like the word "strategy" for making sure that people's contributions yield the most fruit, then think of a word you do like.

Submitted by Aquifer on

claiming that the Greens have the swiftest PR apparatus, Lord knows i have done plenty of complaining about that to them myself, but i do think they are not in a powerful enough position to be able to manipulate anybody and in any case i think their best bet is not to try - Does this mean they can't do better, hell no. But "gimmicks", IMO, are what we have been subjected to, and have become jaded toward, by politicians to the point where cynicism is the norm. That picture of Stein between the 2 cops - the expression on her face, defiance incarnate, is worth a thousand words and a T-shirt would have ruined that. That picture conveys a message as to who this candidate is that all the signs you could photograph couldn't. In the end, not only is all politics local, it is all personal - one votes for a platform, yes, but in that voting booth, if there is any thought at all - pictures like that come to mind "That woman is for real, she's got guts, she won't be intimidated ..."

As they say chance favors the prepared mind - you couldn't have scripted that picture - it could only come from a serendipitous shot of someone simply being who she was, which is why a candidate needs to always be who they are because you never know when serendipity will strike ....

Submitted by lambert on

If you read the stories where Stein is quoted, you'll see that she hits her talking points over and over again, with the same wording each time. Successful politicians do that, for a myriad of reasons, not least that repetition is the only way to get the talking points taken up. And very good talking points they are, too!

If all the arguments you are making on the visual aspects of the Green events were applied to the verbal aspects, then we'd see Stein spontaneously and authentically reinventing the same ideas, in different verbal forms, over and over again, newly each time. Obviously, that's not a recipe for success.

So what I'm saying is that the same principles applied to the talking points should apply to every other aspect of the event. It's the ABC's, the basics, to grow at the national level: Connect to the narratives that are out there, by, for example, making sure the name of the bank is likely to get in the picture, so even if the editors suppress it (as they seem to have done!) it's out there for the astute. If you don't like a T-shirt for that, invent something else. Don't write the signs in Sharpies that won't show up in photographs. (I'm focusing on the visual aspect because pictures are easier to get through the copy editing filter.) It's not the same as community activism; it's on a different scale entirely.) Have a streamer so the event is captured from a credible arms-length source. (Streamers love civil resistance). And on and on and on.

I'm not saying it's terrible. I'm giving it a big "Can do better." Again, as a moral imperative for people risking arrest!

Submitted by Aquifer on

getting stuck in the "narcissism of small differences" (smile) .....

I guess we both feel that there are certain things lacking in the visual aspects of the campaign - just bickering over what they are? ...

Visual consistency as a basic tenet - OK, got it, hope they get it, too ....

So stick with the pantsuit and scarf - LOL (sorry, couldn't resist)

Submitted by jawbone on

Occupy Freak Arrested For Bank Robbery For Holding Up ”You’re Being Robbed” Signone of the charges.

Susie linked to this article from RT.

A protester belonging to an Occupy Wall Street group in rural Pennsylvania is being charged with felony attempted bank robbery and a terrorism-related charge for holding signs up during a demonstration at a local Wells Fargo branch.

David C. Gorczynski, 22, was charged on Tuesday with attempted bank robbery and terroristic threatening, both felonies, as well as one misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. Police detained him after he walked into an Easton, PA Wells Fargo branch with a sign that read “You’re being robbed” and another that said “Give a man a gun, he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob a country.”

Gorczynski was at the Wells Fargo bank as part of a demonstration led by Occupy Easton, the small Pennsylvania town’s OWS offshoot.

So, getting arrested in PA might not be just a short brief experience....

OK, details do vary!

has updated the article to note prosecutor may find the charges excessive. Ya think?

Submitted by lambert on

Making publicity all the more important, then.