Due to a rainy forecast, the zombie parade has been postponed. We will reschedule and be in touch with you soon.
Thanks for your interest!
Due to a rainy forecast, the zombie parade has been postponed. We will reschedule and be in touch with you soon.
Thanks for your interest!
WHAT: Vibrant street theater presentation of “zombies,” “politicians” and citizens
WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday, May 8 Press time (skit begins): 2:30 p.m.
WHERE: Tompkins Square Park, Avenue A and 3rd St., NY, NY
NEW YORK – Just weeks after the landmark Supreme Court decision to roll back campaign spending limits on corporations and classify them as “people,” young New Yorkers will host a ghouly, interactive and inspirational “zombie civics lesson” at 2 p.m. May 8 in Tompkins Square Park, educating and inspiring viewers to act and reclaim their collective power to effect policy change.
In a clever, creative street theater performance, New Yorkers acting as corporate zombies — from Chase Bank and other major corporations — will meet with others dressed as state and national politicians, promising them campaign funds and endorsements in return for support of their agenda, no matter the risk to the public interest. Then, more actors performing as everyday citizens will bravely stand up to these zombies and explain how they’re opting out of the cycle — by buying locally grown food, joining local credit unions, and more — inspiring the audience to take their own simple actions to end the influence of corporate zombies on our elected leaders.
“Multi-billion dollar corporations corrupt our democracy and our lives,” said Cristina Castro, co-organizer of the event. “They bribe elected officials, shaping our laws and policies for their benefit, not ours. Health care reform barely passed because of industry pressure, brutal wars abroad continue thanks to military industry arm-twisting, and our food supply remains unhealthy thanks to agricultural industry lobbying. Our government spends our taxes on these corporate interests to the detriment of our schools, our roads, our public services. What better than to portray corporations for what they are, blood-thirsty zombies?”
The event is organized by the nascent Bull Moose Movement, a nationwide nonpartisan organization founded in response to the Supreme Court’s pro-corporate ruling in Citizens United v. FEC. According to NPR, the decision could “unleash a torrent of corporate and union cash into the political realm and transform how campaigns for president and Congress are fought in the coming years.” The movement’s mission is to educate and empower the public of what individual citizens can do in their everyday lives to call on politicians to work for their interests, not those of corporations.
On Saturday, May 8th, the Bull Moose Movement will put together a must-see spectacle combining some good ol’ street theatre and some healthy and much-needed civics discussion. On this day we will hold the first of many zombie parades at the historic and revolutionary-spirited Tompkins Square park. What’s a zombie parade you say? The Bull Moose Movement believes that unlike what the Supreme Court would like to have us believe, corporations are not people. Much like zombies, corporations do have some people-like qualities. Like zombies, most corporations are parasitic in their nature, draining the resources of their hosts, namely our communities, with an insatiable fervor. Therefore, in order to expose their true nature, we will choose the greediest, sleaziest corporations on the planet, you know, the ones that corrupt our democracy by bribing our elected officials and ultimately shape our laws and policies for their benefit at the detriment of society, and we will personify them in the form of creepy, blood-thirsty zombies.
So grab your craziest zombie gear and join us on May 8th at 2 p.m. Our hope is that our antics will help start a conversation. It’s time our communities empower themselves by verbalizing the issues that are hindering their progress. Together, we can learn from each other.
Despite tough words from President Obama and Secretary Gates, the $704 billion defense budget is the highest ever, with the $549 billion non-war spending a 3.4% hike over last year. $704 billion. Isn’t that nuts? It’s actually almost double what we spent in 1998, which weren’t exactly shabby times for the military-industrial complex. This Tax Day let’s take a second to think about the cash we throwing into the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the billions more we are happy enough blowing without even being at war.
Let’s start with our two favorite wars. Yes, we may have spent $983 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan, but even if these wars ended tomorrow, American taxpayers would be saddled with all kind of hidden costs, as Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes explain in their excellent book, The Three Trillion Dollar War:
To date, we have spent close to $1 trillion in upfront out-of-pocket costs — but the war will cost at least $2 trillion more, when we include the cost of paying for veterans disability compensation, veterans health care, replacement of armaments, and damage to the US economy.
Then there’s our regular old, non-war, run of the mill, gargantuan Pentagon expenditures. At the State of the Union, President Obama regrettably (but predictably) continued the hero worship of the Pentagon by exempting it from his proposed “spending freeze”.
This year the U.S will account for 47% of the world’s military spending. In case you wonder why some foreigners love calling us imperialists (NOT a term I agree with), consider that our military budget is barely matched by the rest of the world combined, let alone our quasi-rivals China ($130 billion) or Russia ($80 billion).
We certainly don’t this much money to militarily confront our Axis of Evil buddies. Dave Lindorff, an investigative journalist who does great work in this area, notes that North Korea and Iran each have military budgets of about $5 billion, roughly equal to what the U.S military will spend next year on “childcare and youth programs, morale and recreation programs and commissaries on its bases.”
Nowadays the news is all about deficit reduction. The Democrats are in charge, so of course now it’s time for tough, politically loathsome choices. Many here would agree that Democrats should be categorically opposed to balancing the budget on the back of critical social spending programs. I’d argue that Democrats should make a stand and oppose the slashing of entitlement, education and anti-poverty program spending without a commensurate cut in military spending.
This is unlikely to happen, of course, because military production in this country is often government workfare by another name. Witness the bipartisan outrage that bonded Ted Kennedy and right-wing loon John Thune when President Bush tried to shut down several non-essential military plants, including a South Dakota plane manufacturer and a Massachusetts navy shipyard. I remember watching the news coverage thinking, ‘This is the only time in my life I will side with George Bush over Ted Kennedy.’
Hey, but a job is a job, even if it’s a job making something we don’t need, manning a base we don’t need or transporting oil at $400 a gallon (yep, $400 a gallon) in a war we don’t know how to end.
I’ll give our President credit for his rhetoric, which is a first step. Declaring, “Even though the Department of Defense is exempt from the budget freeze, it’s not exempt from budget common sense,” Obama scrappedthe C-17 transport plane program ($2.5 billion) and research on a second engine for the F-35 fighter plane ($465 million)
Gates and Obama used the Quadrennial Defense Review as a shield against criticism. The QDR is a somewhat laughable audit, given its composition of war hawks and industry reps, but if even they suggest cutting a program, it must be really useless. Unfortunately, as the name suggests, the QDR Report is only completed every four years, so who knows how rigorously Gates and Obama will approach program slashing in next year’s budget. And even these modest program cuts spawned rabid howls of outrage from the right, though hopefully by now Obama just brushes that dirt of his shoulders.
I could ramble on about what the U.S government or American taxpayers could do the hundreds of billions of dollars we’d have to work with if we ended both wars and slashed the Pentagon budget, but I’ll leave that to the creative imaginations of Kossacks.
If you’re not in a creative mood, Cost of War has a nifty function where you can calculate how the money from our ongoing wars could have been spent in your local community. Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan is taking that idea to the next level, raising private funds to install a Cost of War clock at City Hall so all residents can see how much of their tax dollars are going to support the Pentagon.
I could ramble on about the 700–6000 military bases we are currently maintaining around the world, a figure that the internets has some trouble coming up with, but I’ll let words like ‘imperialism’ get thrown around in the comment section. It’s Tax Day, and the focus today is cold hard cash.
It’s worth noting, as always, that this is not an anti-veterans post by any means. The profiteers of war are not the folks going door to door in the middle of the night in Kandahar or Basra looking for suspected insurgents.
Also, I’m certainly not pinning this all on President Obama. Though he is our Commander-In-Chief, no one person set this black hole of public funds in motion. But if Obama is serious about his rhetoric, this is definitely going to be one of those issues where “we make him do the right thing.”
Finally, it stings to see taxes ripped out of your paycheck. That’s a pain we can all relate to. But while some right-wingers want to respond by drowning government in a bathtub (except the Pentagon, of course), folks like us recognize the important programs our tax dollars are funding. That includes maintaining an adequate military to keep America safe. In 2010, during a recession, however, I cannot stomach that $704,000,000,000 being spent by the war machine.
Charlie don’t surf and we think he should
Charlie don’t surf and you know that it ain’t no good
Charlie don’t surf for his hamburger Momma
Charlie’s gonna be a napalm star
Everybody wants to rule the world
Must be something we get from birth
One truth is we never learn
Satellites will make space burn
We’ve been told to keep the strangers out
We don’t like them starting to hang around
We don’t like them all over town
Across the world we are going to blow them down
The reign of the super powers must be over
So many armies can’t free the earth
Soon the rock will roll over
Africa is choking on their Coca Cola
It’s a one a way street in a one horse town
One way people starting to brag around
You can laugh, put them down
These one way people gonna blow us down
-The Clash, “Charlie Don’t Surf”
This morning the Coffee Party announced that it will be focusing its attention on financial reform and campaign reform, and is polling members to determine the specific legislation it will focus its efforts on. For those who have been observing the Coffee Party with cautious optimism, this is great news, and a tremendous step forward for the nascent organization.
Financial reform and campaign finance reform are not sexy issues, but they are both critical issues America needs to confront now. They are also not easy topics to grapple with. I know this from having studied the issues closely on behalf of the Coffee Party research team. The Coffee Party deserves credit for engaging two complicated issues that matter rather than more superficial issues that lend themselves to easier messaging.
The Bull Moose Movement stands for the improving the civic education of Americans so that they can make the right choices at the ballot box and be engaged enough to pressure their elected officials between elections. The Coffee Party has demonstrated the potential to play a similar role, but we have all been waiting to see how their online sign-ups and coffee house meetings will translate into meaningful engagement and action.
By choosing these issues, the Coffee Party is demonstrating a willingness to tackle important, substantive issues. This is a relief, as I, and many others were unconvinced of their initial goal, which was to ‘foster a more civil dialogue.’ We wondered what the dialogue would actually be about, and the answer, reassuringly, is a discussion of two major policies.
The selection of campaign finance reform and financial reform also demonstrate the Coffee Party’s astute dedication to big-tent political issues. Both of these issues should be bi-partisan/non-partisan, and Republican opposition in Washington to both is astonishingly out of touch with independents and moderates. Never in recent memory has Republican hypocrisy been more flagrant than on the issue of financial reform. Even as Republicans slam the bailout initiated by George Bush that many of them voted for, and label Obama the Wall Street President, they shake down Wall Street for campaign handouts in return for their continued opposition to reform.
It still remains to be seen what exactly the Coffee Party will do to follow up discussions about these reforms. I suppose 100,000 people calling their Congressional representatives would send a strong message, but more effort than that went into stopping the Iraq War and fighting for the public option. Most elected officials are obstinate people who read their campaign treasurer’s reports before they ask how their constituents are doing.
My hope is that the Coffee Party will embrace the promotion of civic education that we are pushing for at the Bull Moose Movement. Really get into neighborhoods and talk to neighbors, small businesses and local media about why all of this matters. The Bull Moose Movement’s goals are extremely long-term, as civic education on the larger issue of corporate influence can’t happen overnight, or in one election cycle. That is why we do not really lobby for specific bills, which are often heavily watered down by the time the ‘debate’ starts (see: Senate financial reform bill). That said, the Coffee Party is strong in numbers, and could perhaps provide the last bit of momentum needed to push this weak sauce financial reform bill through. As for campaign finance reform, 100,000 phone calls won’t be enough to get the changes we need, but it’s not a bad start.
Even after 3 bailouts, we continued to inadequately regulate Citigroup. When is enough enough? http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/business/08panel.html?hpw
Will Obama step up to the plate and appoint a true progressive upon Justice Stevens’s resignation? The stakes are higher than ever! http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100419/editors
Beneath the surface of the Virginia mining tragedy, lies a prime example highlighting the need for campaign finance laws: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/will_we_forget_the_miners_again_20100407/
Breaking up the banks for the sake of change. Will you break up with your bank? http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/apr/07/paul-krugman-break-up-banks
Scary numbers behind Haitian relief funds. From the money pledged by the U.S., 40 cents on every dollar goes to the U.S. military, less than one cent goes to the Haitian government, and contracts to help rebuild are being awarded to U.S. private contractors. Hmmm… http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/04/08-4