Live Blog: The Democratic National Convention Begins

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice is on site this week at the Democratic National Convention. Publisher Dan Loeb, President Bonnie Squires, Vice President Ken Myers and writer Jessica Weingarten will be providing reports, photos and updates. Follow below from most recent to earliest.

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#Occupy, Teabaggers, Voting and Kreplach

Crossposted from Democratic Convention Watch

In this week's Time magazine, Bill Bradley has a column. Bradley was a three-term US senator, ran against Al Gore in the 2000 presidential primary, was a Rhodes scholar, plus he was some type of athlete. Smart guy. You can read his full column here. I agree with parts of it, disagree with others, and was struck by this:

The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street offer contrasting examples of citizen involvement. The Tea Party promulgated a very specific objective — roll back government — and immediately converted its energy into electoral politics. The result was that in 2010, 49 Tea Party Republicans won election to Congress. Through their leverage in the Republican caucus, they almost forced the country into bankruptcy during the debate on the debt limit in the summer of 2011. That's how quickly things can change. That's how easily the status quo can crumble. Occupy, on the other hand, while full of passion and solidarity and armed with a catchy slogan — “We're the 99%” — failed to have much of an impact on policy because it had no specific objective. (Emphasis mine.)

Think about it: one election, one group, all that power. And it's more extreme than Bradley counted, if you include the state governments in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, just to name a few. If you doubt the power of a few, remember that yesterday, Jan Brewer signed legislation effectually banning Planned Parenthood, which Rick Perry did in Texas (now struck down by the courts), and that today marks the Democratic primary to challenge Scott Walker next month, and where Amendment 1 will likely pass in North Carolina. 

I don't know that Bradley's conclusion about Occupy is correct: the teabag contingent was already a movement without a name prior to their rising against the ACA in 2009. The people who comprise the teabaggers are the same racist, homophobic, anti-choice, anti-Semitic, gun-toting, poorly-educated, climate change deniers they've always been. The teabag banner just gave them a clubhouse they could all share with their vitriol. 

Occupy, on the other hand, is relatively young, and has not yet gone through a legitimate election cycle: we'll see whether or not the power of that voting bloc can be harnessed in November. And it is incumbent on us, the Democrats, to reach out and bring them into our tent. It may be a transient location. In France this past weekend, Sarkozy was ousted and much of his party replaced by Socialists who realize that “austerity” is a disaster, and government spending is the only way for Europe to recover from the sins and excesses of the right wing and their bankers. By 2014, Occupy may well be organized enough to be fielding candidates who legitimately embrace the money-out-of-politics, and related, goals. This year, their choice will be to join us, or sit out the election, possibly causing further inroads on the part of the far right.

It's an “ich kreplach” moment for Occupy. (If you don't know “ich kreplach“, it's after the jump.) The idea is that they hate the influence of corporations, their money and their power, on elections, politics, and sadly, democracy. They see both parties as having fallen into the grasp of that money pit.  If you ask them about individual issues, Occupy identifies with the mainline Democratic positions: gay marriage, cap and trade, more money for education, etc. In the end though, many do not want to vote because they don't see enough difference between the two major parties, and consider them both equally corrupt.

It is up to US as individuals, to move them from that spot. Bradley's conclusion is different than mine, he thinks the answer lies in expecting more from our politicians, and making them give concrete answers. His conclusion fails in the fact that it's easy to lie, get elected, and change sides. Or just be Mittens and have a position for everyone, given the time of day. My conclusion is that we must realize that the GOP, circa 2012, is the problem, and vanquishing them is the solution. Through any non-violent way possible. 

A shout out to John McCain, who is the last Republican to have done something decent. Yesterday, Mittens was faced at a town hall by a woman who said that Obama should be charged with treason. Like all Republican candidates faced with idiocy and racism on the part of an audience member, he just ignored it. Back in 2008, in the single best moment of his campaign, McCain was faced with a woman who said all sorts of nasty things about Obama in a similar forum. McCain took the mic back and said that while he disagreed with Obama on a number of issues, Obama was a decent man, and an American.

Mic check: Vanquish the GOP at the voting booth. Bring everyone you know. It's our only chance.

Ich Kreplach

Kreplach are little pieces of pasta covered meat often put in Jewish Chicken Soup. They look a lot like wontons.

So, the story goes, there's a kid who hates kreplach. His parents take him to a Chinese restaurant and send him into the kitchen, where he tastes the filling, and declares it delicious. He tastes the pasta and loves that, too. He eats a raw one and is enthralled.  He rejoins his parents at the table, they put a bowl of wonton soup in front of him and he says “ich, kreplach.”

 

JSPAN Visits Occupy Philadelphia: Interview with Nathan Kleinman

JSPAN Board Member Nathan Kleinman has participated in Occupy Philadelphia, the experiment in pure democracy happening on Dilworth Square alongside the Philadelphia City Hall, since its earliest days. Newsletter Editor Ken Myers visited OP and interviewed Kleinman on October 22. Ed.

Ken Myers: We are together to discuss Occupy Philadelphia which is happening right here. Is this a political event with a capital P, or is it something else?

Nate Kleinman: I would say at this stage it is the beginning of a social and possibly political movement. It is impossible to predict where it is going to go. Nobody has the power to decide where it is going to go on their own. The group makes decisions through, as much as possible, consensus. When we vote on things if we cannot come to consensus we decide with a supermajority. And so it really requires a long process of consensus building.

Myers: You mentioned that in the evening, typically at seven 0′ clock you have what you call the General Assembly. So everybody gets out and shares ideas?

More after the jump.
Kleinman: Everybody who lives here and people from elsewhere all come together. We make announcements about things that are coming up. Various working groups, of which at this point there are probably 20 or 25, report back to the full Assembly. They talk about what they are doing, what ideas they are having, what they are planning, they say when they meet and reiterate that everyone is invited. Every working group is open to all, and anyone can start one.

The General Assembly and that whole process was started on Occupied Wall Street and this is modeled after it. There are General Assemblies happening all over the country. There is one meeting today in York, Pennsylvania. There is going to be one in Stroudsburg, there is one in Norristown today, not to mention of course the bigger cities in every state across the country.

Myers: Do you see a tendency within this group to try to create a fourth political party (I say that because I give the Tea Party credit for being one)?

Kleinman: I am not sure. I think how this movement exercises its power in the political arena is still very much up in the air. But I have heard a lot of ideas, there was a lot of talk about it, and I think eventually we will come to consensus on a way forward . It seems likely to me that it will attempt to influence the political process. Some people want to run candidates for Congress next year in every single district in the country. That would certainly be something I would support because I think it’s not just Republicans that need to be asked, there are plenty of Democrats who could use a good challenge.

Myers: The Philadelphia Inquirer, in a comment today, talked about the potential for anti- Semitism in this movement. Do you see that as a serious problem?

Kleinman: No. No, I have not seen that at all. There is a huge number of Jews participating in this, and, to the extent that there may be anti-Israel or anti-Semitic comments they are from individuals. I have not seen it and it is not representative of the whole group if it does exist.

Myers: You are chairing a human rights program in a few minutes. What is your hope for this effort?

Kleinman: This is just another working group that we announced yesterday to talk about human rights, broadly defined to encompass poverty, racism, discrimination, oppression, violence, and hopefully come to some statement of principles that we in the working group can agree upon and bring to the General Assembly for their agreement. If it passes then maybe it can be sent to other General Assemblies around the country and around the world for their consideration, debate, discussion and possibly agreement. That is the only way we can come to consensus on a national and international level and be united moving forward together

Myers: A few days ago the Philadelphia Inquirer, writing up Occupy Philadelphia, seemed to summarize this movement under the flag “99 and one”. Is that a good solid summarization of the movement?

Kleinman: It is a characterization that came from some individuals in New York, and a lot of people like it because they think it dramatizes well what we are up to, that we do stand for: that we are representative of the 99% of the people who do not have 40% of the wealth

Myers: One more question. For our readers and members, if they want to follow what is happening, what is the best way for them to do that?

Kleinman: There are a lot of different places they can look. They should get on Facebook and check out our Facebook page. There is a page called Occupied Together that is bringing a lot of information from all the movements around here. But here in Philly I would say our Facebook page is the best one, with over 20,000 people following it. Look under Occupied Philly. Our media task force is doing a great job 24-7 to get the message out, and to make sure that we tell our story and the media do not have a monopoly on that.

Myers: Thanks very much for your comments.

Reprinted courtesy of JSPAN.

Nathan Kleinman is a graduate of Abington Friends School and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He is a human rights activist, a community organizer, and a veteran of several political campaigns in Pennsylvania.