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Code Pinkers Unite to Stop Auction, Save Gulf War Marine Mom's Home
Friday was an historic day. At 11am, Jocelyne Voltaire was scheduled to lose her home in Queens Village, the home she had lived in for the past 20 years, the home where she raised her four children. Unable to keep up her skyrocketing mortgage payments, Jocelyne watched in horror as her home was put on the auction block. This amazing video clip by American News Project brought Jocelyn's plight to our attention.
At 9:05 am EST, we sent out an urgent call to our CODEPINK list. Our jaws dropped when we saw the response. Donations of $5, $25, $500, even $1,000! Within an hour, we had raised over $10,000. And the money kept pouring in, along with beautiful messages of support.
Jocelyne was moved to tears. And the mortgage bankers, with our immediate promise of $15,000 at 11am, were "moved" to stop the auction.
Back in the Great Depression years of the 1930s, unemployed writers, like unemployed steelworkers, were in need of jobs, and so the New Deal's Works Progress Administration, which put all sorts of Americans back to work, did so for writers as well -- 6,500 of them in the Federal Writers' Project at approximately $20 a week. Among other things, the FWP's writers produced a series of classic guide books to American cities and states, still enjoyable to read today. (Richard Wright and John Cheever were among the crew who, for example, did The WPA Guide to New York City.) FWP workers also gathered more than 10,000 first-person oral histories of ordinary -- yet extraordinary -- Americans, relatively few of which were ever published.
Almost 30 years ago, the writer Ann Banks collected 80 of these into a deeply moving memory piece of a book entitled First-Person America. When you read through it, one thing likely to strike you about its narratives from our last spectacular economic meltdown was how many of the speakers didn't distinguish between the 1920s and the 1930s, between, that is, "the roaring twenties" of the "Jazz Age" and the Great Depression era. For lots of them, it was all tough times. As Banks wrote in her introduction: "For most of the people in this book, the Depression was not the singular event it appears in retrospect. It was one more hardship in lives made difficult by immigration, world war, and work in low-paying industries before the regulation of wages and hours. Though they spoke of living through bad times, those interviewed by the Federal Writers seldom mentioned the Depression itself."
by Linda Milazzo
As corporate media reports obsessively on Joe The Plumber, who misrepresented himself to Barack Obama saying he'd be victimized by Obama's tax plan, Americans more in need than Joe are being victimized for REAL everyday - not in hypothetical ways like Joe's imagined fears of paying rich people's taxes even though he isn't rich. But in ways that jeopardize every aspect of their existence due to the collusion between the American government and the financiers it loves.
And while John McCain and Sarah Palin make this self-serving plumber the cause celebre for their campaign, increasing numbers of Americans less fortunate than Joe are losing their homes, their jobs, their health insurance, and more. Yes, while physically imposing Joe 'Wutchagonnadoforme' Wurtzelbacher, alias "Joe The Plumber," bemoans his fabricated tax burden, Americans in greater need than seemingly healthy Joe, are suffering more burdensome tragedies than his phobia of spreading his wealth. Interestingly, what Joe fears the most - the spreading of wealth (be it real or imagined), may one day be his salvation - just as it was on Friday for Jocelyne Voltaire, whose home was saved by the kindness of strangers who spread THEIR wealth to her. These strangers' generosity toward Jocelyne defines the American spirit far better than the vitriol toward SHARING that defines the McCain campaign.
So who is Jocelyne Voltaire, and why is her story more relevant to America's current crisis than that of plumber Joe?
Recently, while traveling in the West, I had lunch at a modest-sized casino set in a wild, barren-looking, craggy landscape. On the hills above it spun giant, ivory white, modernistic windmills, looking for all the world like Martian invaders from War of the Worlds. I hadn't been inside a casino since the 1970s -- my mistake -- and the experience was eye-poppingly wild. Venturing into its vast room of one-armed bandits and other games was like suddenly finding oneself inside a giant pinball machine for the digital age, everything gaudily lit, blinking, pinging, flashing, accompanied, of course, by a soundscape to match.
It was (as it was undoubtedly meant to be) strangely exhilarating, riveting, totally distracting, and a curious reminder right now of just how distracting "casino capitalism" -- as Mike Davis calls it in today's post -- really has been. For years, with all the economic bells and whistles, all the mansions and yachts, all those arcane derivatives, all the high-tech glamour and glory, with Americans pouring into the stock market (or at least their pension plans and mutual funds doing it for them), you could almost not notice the increasingly barren, rocky world outside the American casino. You could almost not notice the shrinking of real value, of actual productivity in this country. These last weeks, Americans -- those who weren't already outside, at least -- have been rudely shoved into the real world to assess what their value (personal, national, global) actually is.
Big Bankers Blink; Paulson's Unprecedented Power; Shock and Awe Hints at the Good and Evil We May Soon Face
By Rob Kall, OpEdNews
Today's Wall Street Journal reports how Henry Paulson summoned the heads of the top banks in America to meet with him on Monday.
On one side of the table sat Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, flanked by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair.
On the other side sat the nation's top bank executives, who had flown in from around the country, lined up in alphabetical order by bank, with Bank of America Corp. at one end of the table and Wells Fargo & Co. at another.
It was Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. at the Treasury headquarters. Messrs. Paulson and Bernanke had called one of the most important gatherings of bankers in American history...
[Note to TomDispatch readers: Accompanying today's post is a first experimental TomDispatch podcast, an interview website intern Robert Eshelman did with me. We hope to periodically do such podcasts, often about the process of writing a piece or related topics of interest. To the right of the main TomDispatch screen, you'll notice a spot where we'll be listing the latest interviews. By the way, let me offer another heartfelt thank you to the readers who clicked on the new "Resist Empire. Support TomDispatch" button and contributed to the site's work. Consider the equipment to do these interviews the first modest results of your generosity. To listen to today's initial try, click here. Tom]