Officers in riot gear and carrying batons closed in on the 10-acre site in Albany, Calif., that is used for research by the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources, according to the Tribune.
Nine protesters were arrested in the incident that involved about 100 officers from varying University of California campuses as well as Albany police and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, the Tribune reports.
Those arrested have been taken to a jail in Dublin, Calif., according to the Tribune.
The protesters began clearing the land on April 22, demanding that it be used for sustainable agriculture, according to the Tribune. But officials at UC said the land is used for educational purposes and crop preparation is supposed to start in mid May, the news organization reports.
“The purpose of today’s action is to ensure our faculty and students can conduct the research projects to which they have devoted much of their academic and professional lives,” read a prepared statement from university officials published on the Tribune website. “We simply cannot wait any longer lest our faculty and students lose a full year of work.”
But witnesses said the large contingent of law enforcement was not necessary for the small number of protesters, the Tribune reports.
“There are literally seven people on the sidewalk not doing anything and they’re telling us it’s an unlawful assembly,” the Tribune quoted protester Anya Kamanskaya as saying.
Dick Gregory Protegé Pens Powerful Occupy Movement Song
– Oh-No! Anthem to inspire Occupy protestors during Chicago’s NATO Summit –
Nationwide (May 14, 2012) — A young musician whose activism and devotion to the Occupy Movement mimic that of his mentor and hero Dick Gregory, has composed a powerful song and video that has energized protestors at past rallies. Since the video captures dramatic footage of confrontations between Occupiers and law enforcement, protestors will utilize it during the upcoming NATO Summit as a reminder to be vigilant and to deploy nonviolent tactics in dealing with police.
The song and video have won acclaim from Gregory, Occupiers and generated over 1 million downloads because it powerfully captures the message of the Movement.
Titled “Oh-No,” and written by Chicago native William “Wril” Brown, the spirited, poignant, rhythmic video and edgy in-your-face tune can be viewed and downloaded at www.ohnorevolution.com
A dynamic young lyricist, Brown penned the tune while in jail after being arrested – along with Gregory – during an Occupy protest against BP.
Described as “Music from the Heartbeat of the Revolution,” Malik Yusef, a Grammy-Award winning songwriter and producer has joined other music critics in praising the tune and comparing its power to “We Shall Overcome” and the other call-to-action music from the Civil Rights Movement.
Embodying the frustrations of the 99%, “Oh No!” eloquently captures the passion and message of the Occupy Movement and features Wril, Dick Gregory and hip-hop artist Truth.
Since first being introduced, the video has galvanized youth Occupiers and other protestors during rallies in Greensboro, North Carolina and in Atlanta. With over 100,000 private views, the videotune is quickly emerging as the anthem of the Occupy Movement.
Dick Gregory, who is hailed as “the original Occupier” because of his legacy of protest during the Civil Rights Movement, t has been trumpeting the video for its dynamism and its powerful message.
“Wril’s video highlights the breadth, depth and heart of Occupy Wall Street and other Oh-No movements across the country,” declared Gregory.
It was on the strength of his admiration of Dick Gregory that Wril immersed himself deeper in the protest movement. When he first met Gregory, he developed a deep connection with the legendary comedian-turned-activist. He joined Gregory in his protest against BP for not providing financial compensation to the poor Gulf residents who were victims of BP’s gross negligence — though BP had earned billions of dollars in profits. Wril was arrested alongside Gregory when they staged a protest at British Petroleum’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. The goal was to focus attention on the plight of the many lives and businesses that were devastated by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oilrig explosion.
Singer/songwriter Wril was so stirred by the injustice surrounding the crisis that, similar to the epiphany that sparked Dr. King to write his letters from a Birmingham jail, Wril was also inspired to pen the song “Oh No!” while in jail following the BP arrest.
The quick-paced video captures the passion, angst and overall message of the Occupy Movement in dramatic footage. Among the scenes captured in the four-minute “docutune” are the arrests, the hauling off to jail of members and the highly-controversial pepper spraying of young innocent protestors who were silently voicing their protests during a sit-in at the University of California – Davis. Pictured silently sitting while being sprayed, the act elicited worldwide outrage and symbolized the force that authorities have wielded in the face of non-violent peaceful protests.
In the video, Wril intersperses scenes from the protests with the refrain: Oh No!
In compelling musical snippets, the video dramatically spans the country depicting the outrage of the Occupy Movement. The video underscores the energy and the transformation from despair to defiance of the 99% who see the banking policies as being destructive of the aspirations and hopes of those considered outside of the power network and who are victimized by the policies of the 1%.
“I have always wanted my music to express who I am as a person, to reflect my strong feelings about injustice and inspire others to take action to better our lives,” says Wril. “This song and video ‘Oh-No’ embodies the frustrations of many Americans and captures the passion of the Occupy Movement.”
Says legendary activist Dick Gregory: “The gifted young songwriter and vocalist Wril has a spirit of activism and social consciousness that harkens back to those revolutionaries and freedom fighters from the ’60 and ’70s whose brave sacrifices helped bring about the landmark changes of the Civil Rights Movement.
“With strong and committed activists like Wril acting as drum majors for justice, freedom and equality,” Gregory continues, “the Occupy Movement will achieve all of its lofty goals and mirror the success we enjoyed during the Civil Rights Era.”
About Dick Gregory:
Dick Gregory is a legendary comedian and entrepreneur known for his extended fasting to protest injustices and his Bahamian diet. His renown as an entertainer and businessman is matched by his social activism. He has been outspoken about hundreds of human rights issues since the 1960′s and recently staged a protest against BP for the fraudulent and callous way they handled the BP oil spill. An icon from the Civil Rights Movement, he has become active in the Occupy Wall Street movement and finds parallels between the protests of the ’60s and the outrage against banks and corporations of today. He says that the issue in both Movements revolves around justice and equity -two principles that are dear to him and for which he continues to fight.
About William “Wril” Brown:
William “Wril” Brown is a singer/lyricist whose talent has won admiration and praise from the legendary duo Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, as well as that of literary icon Maya Angelou, for his song “Forever and Ever I Do,” which he wrote and delivers with exceptional musicality. Wril’s depth, breadth and scope are dramatized by his versatility as a vocalist, songwriter and musician.
As a musician, he has a love affair with the piano that goes back to his church roots. As a vocalist, Wril boasts a falsetto that falls in love with every note. The passion that he brings to every tune makes his delivery memorable and captivating. As a songwriter, he digs deep into the core of his soul to capture the emotions of a tune.
The themes that dominate his writing revolve around his love and admiration for women and the sentimentality of family. His respect for women is mirrored in the acronym of his name: Wril stands for Women Really Inspire Love.
Melody M. McDowell
Last week I saw a car with two bumper stickers on it. One had a bumper sticker that said Obama 2012 on one side and we are the 99% on the other.
Upon seeing this, I said to myself: Don’t these people know that those two different ideologies??
According to the folks at Occupy Chicago this is their take on the two-party system in which President Obama is a part of:
“Occupy Chicago does not endorse and never has endorsed the two dominant parties, Democrat and Republican, that are currently carrying out the agenda of the 1%. Our only affiliation is with those who want to end the entanglement of big business and government.”
So you may be asking yourself who is part of the “1 percent?”
Well that depends on who you ask:
This is Occupy Minnesota’s take:
“The 1 percent can accurately be described as a discrete, highly exclusive group of individuals, cherry-picked from the top echelons of global corporations, including banks and financial institutions; the most influential politicians and bureaucrats, at home and abroad; private- and public-sector union bosses; not-for-profits’ executive leadership, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), associations, foundations, and churches; and prominent stewards of the most prestigious academia.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, a person needs to earn at least $506,000 annually to be considered a part of the 1%.
President Barack Obama earns a salary of $400,000 per year, along with a few bonuses (annual expense account, travel account and an entertainment stipend). The President’s income totals to over $550,000 annually.
Some of you still believe that even though you will vote to re-elect President Obama. At this same time, you also support the Occupy movement. You can’t do both. It’s like being a “Chicago” fan. You have to choose a side. Competing baseball teams.Competing ideologies.
Actor George Clooney recently hosted a fundraiser for the President. The following 1 percenters were in attendance: Barbara Stresiand, Robert Downey, Jr., Tobey Maguire, Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Salma Hayek and Jack Black. Even Wolfgang Puck was on hand as the chef for the 40K a plate fundraiser. Clooney helpe raise 15 million for the President that night. None of the people at that fundraiser are part of the 99%.
Long story short, I am not hating on the man’s ability to hustle up 15 million. Or that you may be voting to re-elect the sitting President. My beef is that you cannot do both. If you support President Obama, you should be nowhere near an occupy rally. If you are an occupy supporter you shouldn’t anywhere near a polling place this November. So pick a side you can stick with.
The arts are positively integrated into the Occupy Movement in several ways, but they are also a front on which activists are attacking the economic system.
While the arts field wrestles internally with issues of diversity and aging, attacks by Occupy activists are actually an affirmation of the relevance of the arts in civic life. One Occupy LA blogger wrote, “if history has taught us anything… it’s that art is among the most honest and lasting of cultural indicators.” Occupy activists believe in the arts enough to fight for it.
As a target, actions related to the arts are in some cities organized by an Occupy Museums working group. The Occupy Museums manifesto identifies that the group exists to, “[call] out corruption and injustice in institutions of arts and culture,” and their actions focus in two areas: labor issues, and service to the one percent (generally.) The labor concerns relate to abrogation of union contracts and use of non-union labor at galleries and museums, and the broader concern relates to the question: to whom do the benefits of the cultural economy accrue?
Occupy activists believe that the arts industry is another example of an economic system that enriches and benefits the 1 percent, dis-empowering and disenfranchising the 99 percent. Occupy journalist Erin Sickler wrote that the arts economy is, “reproducing inequitable and oppressive economic relations,” adding that, “the moguls who sit on museum boards are often the same people who contrived the runaway financial speculation which has blighted economic life for the rest of us, in the U.S. and beyond.” While most Occupy activists are concerned with the influence of one-percenters in the banking sector, Occupy Arts activists are concerned with the influence of those same individuals in cultural banking establishments, including museums.
A recent creative action involved circulation of a parody press release imagining a world where the Whitney Museum and its Biennial dedicate themselves to the 99 percent. The fraudulent release includes,
As an institution dedicated to the public interest, the Whitney has an obligation to use its platform to facilitate actions that promote the good of the many over the greed and profits of the few…. As Biennial curator Elizabeth Sussman remarked, “We’re delighted we naturally got involved with Occupy Wall Street.” Documentation of the event and a full transcript of the assembly will be published online and as a supplement inserted into the Whitney Biennial 2012 exhibition catalogue, currently available in the Museum bookstore.
The Occupy Arts movement is passionately concerned that the producers of professional culture have been co-opted into the service of the 1 percent, and they are fighting to ensure that the arts are relevant to and reflective of the modern world.
Carl Jung wrote that the arts, “dream the myth onward and give it modern dress,” and the 99 percent arts movement is an expression of faith, an insistence on the importance of the arts. The Occupy Museums website declares simply, “Art and Culture are part of the commons. Art is not a luxury item.” Looking toward the future, this insistence can only be positive for the field.
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Interesting weekend of video games as I watched a friend play the open beta for THE SECRET WORLD, an upcoming MMO game, and some MAX PAYNE 3. The two games are pretty much on opposite ends of the spectrum: THE SECRET WORLD is a subscription-based PC MMO role-playing game, MAX PAYNE 3 is a cinematic, heavily story-driven shooter game with an online multiplayer component.
THE SECRET WORLD has an interesting premise for a role-player beyond the usual cod-medieval wizards and orcs settings. It’s the closest you’ll get to playing an RPG version of Grant Morrison’s THE INVISIBLES and HELLBLAZER. It’s set in a version of the 21st Century. You play a blank slate that gets magickal powers and join one of three rival factions that fight against supernatural threats against the world. The game takes the premise that all conspiracies, urban legends and supernatural secrets are true like THE INVISIBLES. Players fight zombies, ghosts, Lovecraftian horrors, unravel mysteries plaguing towns and cities, fight with the other factions for control of the world when not teaming up with them against common enemies.
From what I’ve seen, THE SECRET WORLD is a mix of intrigue and sheer frustration. Intrigue because there is some brilliant and witty writing in the game. Directed by Ragnar Tornquist, who previously made the classic adventure game THE LONGEST JOURNEY (deservedly worshipped by the likes of ROCK, PAPER, SHOTGUN), which shared the same themes of secret worlds, supernatural occurrences and solving puzzles to unearth mysteries. The different factions in THE SECRET WORLD, the Templars with their base in London, the Illiuminati in their corporate HQ in New York, and the Dragon and their ascetic temples in Seoul, are each distinctive you can only see the bigger picture of the premise of the game’s world if you see the introduction to each faction. The Templars stoically see themselves as guardians of the world, though of the big picture rather than individual people, willing to sacrifice entire towns and people for the big picture. The Illuminati are bitchy, amoral opportunists who seek to use their knowledge to secretly control the world through the media and Big Businesses they control from the shadows. The mercurial Dragons are agents of chaos who wreck havoc to create balance so that no single power controls the world. All three factions view each other with distrust, contempt and wariness, and actively plot against each other to seize control, territory, knowledge and resources under and uneasy truce. As a player, your character is not The Chosen One but just one of hundreds or thousands (if it gets enough players) of footsoldiers fighting a never-ending war of attrition. Sounds good, right?
Now the frustrating part of the game, which is ARRRRGH! MORE TEDIOUS GRIND-Y BULLSHIT! Fetch-quests again! Go kill X number of rats/minions/zombies for lootz/rewards/XP. Now, I know fetch-quests are a staple of RPGs and MMOs. I’ve spoken to enough games designers to know how they’ve become a necessary part of an RPG game’s design in order to maintain balance in the player’s progression and to keep from becoming too powerful too early in the game. In the case of THE SECRET WORLD, the combat is the usual clunky pressing-on-the-numbers-keys to watch numbers rise out of the enemy until it dies. And there’s a lot of it, which tends to get in the way of experiencing the story, which THE SECRET WORLD is being sold on. It seems to be the same kind of game design that every MMO feels the need to replicate from WORLD OF WARCRAFT because they think it’s what’s needed to be successful. The tedium is that the same anonymous enemies you keeping hitting will be there to attack you again when you have to go through that area again, which, to me, breaks the sense of immersion in the story. How is the story believable when there’s no sense of change, that a whole area is reset in a few minutes after you’re finished with it. The other problem I have with MMOs is that they feel too much like work rather than fun. It’s like another full-time job, except you’re paying to do it rather than getting paid. There are interesting things in THE SECRET WORLD that are new and interesting, like the way the puzzles are based on ideas and knowledge from real life that you might find through an in-game Google browser if you can’t figure out the answers by yourself. But the long, arduous, tedious grinding keeps the game from taking flight for me.
And then there’s MAX PAYNE 3, the shooty-shooty lunkhead has come to current-generation console. Here’s another game where story and gameplay threaten to be in conflict with each other.
Now, I’ve made fun of the first two MAX PAYNE games for the silly pastiches their plots were even as they made bullet-time shooting work in video games for the first time. The pastiche-y plots were in the service of the game design and play, after all. With Rockstar Games taking over the franchise and Dan Houser co-writing the script, the story tends a more serious direction in the noir genre with its depiction of the hero as an alcoholic burnout doomed to failure and trapped in a world of death and carnage. There’s a reasonably plausible context now for a world so hellish that it makes sense to have Max Payne killing literally hundreds of really bad people by shooting them in the face (which in real life would make him a mass murderer no matter that they’re really bad people). There are interesting themes and subtexts about male crisis, failure and redemption, the dark places of the male psyche that noir has always been perfect for addressing, and there’s an attempt to show us things we haven’t seen before, like locating the story to Brazil and making explicit social and political commentary about class, money and corruption as it transforms the landscape into a hell that matches the hero’s inner landscape. The fear of failing to save or protect someone is a recurring tragic theme in the story. It’s a downbeat romantic macho fantasy for men the same way something like TWILIGHT are romantic fantasies for girls.
On the other hand, the gameplay threatens to get in the way of the story because of its difficulty. In shooting games, I’m getting annoyed with enemies that are idiotically resilient bullet-sponges. For all the hype about added realism in games, with graphics looking more and more real, you still have human enemies who aren’t aliens or superpowered mutants who will take a whole clip of ammo and still be hail of health and trying to kill you. It’s one thing if they’re aliens with tough skin or whatever, but these are humans with soft, squishy flesh. Sure, they might be wearing body armour, but you’re firing high-calibre bullets at them, and no human should be able to jump right back up to shoot at you. In real life, bullets hit with the impact of a truck and will take the wind out of you even when you’re wearing a vest, not to mention risk breaking your ribs or causing internal damage even if they don’t kill you. The whole point of increasingly powerful guns is to drop a target and keep it down, bullets are designed to do maximum damage. When people get shot in real life, there’s no such thing as “just a flesh wound”. There are always long-term health effects long after a bullet wound heals that will be there for the rest of one’s life. In too many games, including MAX PAYNE 3, I’ve had enemies take two shots to the head and shrug them off when they’re wearing only fucking baseball caps. I’m not one of those masochistic gamers who like to play games at high difficulty to test my skills, nor do I play on the Easy setting. I play for story, and I get pissed off when elements in the gameplay get in the way of progressing the story. Every time I get to this point in a game, I just think it’s fucking stupid and want to rage-quit. As Tom Bissell pointed out, games and Story are frequently at odds, because the gameplay’s objective is to prevent the story from progressing. It becomes a problem when the game does this too well. That’s why when I played the demo for SPEC OP: THE LINE this week, I was pleasantly surprised that enemies reacted to getting shot the way people would in real life – they actually went down when the first bullet hits them.
Maybe I’m just starting to get burned out on the parts of games that have become accepted as the norm in game design. Then again, I always thought those parts were frustrating and bloody stupid back when I first got into gaming. This is the first time I’m actually feeling tired of them, and as someone who works in the entertainment industry and even done some work in the games industry (a very tiny bit), this is not good. For me, anyway…
MAX PAYNE 3 is out on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 this week. THE SECRET WORLD is out in June.
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(CNN) — The Senate Homeland Security Committee has scheduled a public hearing on the prostitution scandal involving U.S. military and Secret Service agents in Colombia.
The hearing will take place May 23, Sen. Joe Lieberman, the committee chairman, told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Lieberman’s is one of four congressional committees looking into the incident.
Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan and Acting Inspector General Charles Edwards will testify, Lieberman said.
The committee will ask whether Sullivan is satisfied with the investigation into what occurred in Cartagena, Colombia, Lieberman said.
Secondly, Lieberman said, the committee will ask, “Were there indications before the Colombian scandal of behavior by Secret Service agents off duty on assignment that should have been a warning that this was coming?”
“And third, what are you going to do, Director Sullivan, to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.”
Escort calls Secret Service ‘dumb men’
Secret Service escort tells her tale
Prostitutes not stealing U.S. secrets
Two weeks ago, the committee sent Sullivan a list of questions to answer by Monday.
The incident, which transpired a month ago in advance of President Obama’s trip to the Summit of the Americas, was “heartbreaking” and “dangerous,” said Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut.
It involved roughly 20 alleged prostitutes, and has so far resulted in the dismissal of nine Secret Service members.
Three other Secret Service agents were cleared of serious misconduct.
The military is investigating the alleged involvement of 12 service members.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has said there is no evidence the president’s security was put at risk due to the incident. He noted that the president’s schedule was not kept in the hotel rooms of any service members believed to be involved in the scandal.
Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said no classified information or weapons were present at the Hotel Caribe, where the alleged incident occurred.
Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, announced Sunday that he declined a request from one of the Colombian prostitutes that he meet with her.
An attorney for Dania Londono Suarez contacted the committee with the request, he said in a statement.
“While such a meeting — and the inevitable circus atmosphere surrounding it — would no doubt be of great interest to the media covering this story, a meeting with her is simply not necessary at this time for the committee to conduct a serious and thorough investigation. For now, I have directed my staff to communicate with and gather information about the misconduct from the woman via her attorney.”
Secret Service investigators have interviewed her, King said.
Londono gave a lengthy, wide-ranging interview to Colombia’s W Radio on Friday.
Editor’s note: Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” (Times Books) and of the new book “Governing America” (Princeton University Press).
(CNN) — Mitt Romney spoke this weekend to the students at Liberty University, a hotbed of conservative studies,and he has been forced to think about his ties to the right. He is facing a difficult challenge in determining what his relationship should be with the tea party Republicans who helped revitalize the GOP after the doldrums of 2008.
Although there are more conservative Republicans grudgingly endorsing Romney and polls show that more tea party activists are coming to accept Romney as their candidate, there is strong evidence that there remains a great deal of distrust, which could dampen enthusiasm on the campaign trail and create tensions if mishandled. According to Congressional Quarterly, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert told reporters, “I am not as excited as I am desperate” to elect someone other than Obama.
Any misstep could cost Romney the election. If Romney is seen as too close to the tea party, he could easily undercut his ability to win independent votes in the swing states that will determine the outcome of the election.
If Romney distances himself too much from the right wing of the party, he might dampen the enthusiasm that he needs to organize, to raise money and to make certain that people come out on Election Day in what promises to be a close election.
Mitt Romney’s son booed off stage
Did newspaper bully Romney?
Romney: Marriage between 1 man, 1 woman
The challenge facing Romney is not new to Republican candidates. Indeed, every Republican who has won office since the middle of the 20th century has confronted this dilemma. Each successful candidate has handled the challenge in a different way.
One model has been for candidates to completely distance themselves from the right and to instead allow the vice presidential candidate to focus on appealing to the base, to act as an “attack dog.” This is what the military hero Dwight Eisenhower did in 1952 when he avoided associating with the McCarthyite wing of the party that was ramping up Cold War rhetoric. Instead, Gen. Eisenhower let Richard Nixon do the dirty work, calling Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson “Adlai the Appeaser” and tagging liberal Democrats as being a step away from communism.
The Eisenhower model would be difficult for Mitt Romney to follow. In the modern media age, especially after the Sarah Palin fiasco, there will be immense attention on whoever runs with Romney. If he selects a right-wing nominee, the kind of scrutiny he or she will receive could easily overshadow Romney’s campaign and any effort he hopes to make to appeal the center.
The second model is Barry Goldwater’s full embrace of extremism in 1964. Taking on President Lyndon Johnson, Goldwater ran as a true conservative who espoused right-wing values and had no interest in compromise.
Goldwater used bold rhetoric, taking on programs like Social Security and the Tennessee Valley Authority, demanding radical cuts in government. When liberal Republican Nelson Rockefeller spoke at the Republican convention, the delegates booed and jeered. When Goldwater spoke, defending extremism, they burst out in applause. Goldwater doubled down with his vice presidential running mate, New York Rep. William Miller, who further solidified Goldwater’s image as the candidate who was far to the right.
This model would certainly not work for Romney, who would come off as disingenuous. Romney has spent too much time positioning himself as a pragmatist and moderate to make this kind of move. Trying to pull a Goldwater would only play into the accusations that he is a candidate without a core.
The third option is the George H.W. Bush model. In 1991, Bush, who was not at all comfortable with the right wing of the party and never got the “vision thing,” ran a slash and burn campaign in 1988 that focused on devastating the record of Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis. Without fully embracing conservative ideals, Bush’s campaign revolved around the depiction of his opponent as unpatriotic, as an extreme liberal and as someone not fit to be in office.
While the strategy worked for Bush, it could be insufficient for Romney, who faces a much tougher opponent in President Obama, whose personal favorability ratings remain high and who has much stronger backing from his own party. The president won’t be as easy to tear down. If Romney simply goes negative as a way to avoid dealing with the right wing of his party, his campaign could fail.
The final model is the one used by Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Each of these candidates did send clear signals to the right that they would be an integral part of the coalition. None of these candidates fully distanced themselves from right-wing forces, yet their campaigns focused on broader themes that were attractive to a much bigger part of the population. Nixon spoke of law and order in 1968, Reagan talked about anti-communism and private markets in 1980, while Bush emphasized “compassionate conservatism” in 2000.
This final strategy is the best path available to Romney, because it will allow him to send signals to the right that he understands what they are about and will be part of their coalition, while offering themes that can win over the rest of the GOP and perhaps even disaffected Democrats.
The problem is that thus far Romney has struggled to find those themes. Thus far he has focused mostly on castigating President Obama. In the next few months leading into the Republican convention, he will have to lay out one or two broad themes that can extend his reach well beyond the right without alienating them. This is a difficult task and one that has been challenging to many Republicans. But doing so will be essential to handling the tea party Republicans, who pose a massive challenge to his campaign.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Julian Zelizer.
Washington (CNN) — JPMorgan Chase announced last week that it lost $2 billion as the result of some complicated hedge fund trading, which according to its top executive is apparently not as bad as it sounds.
“This is a stupid thing we should never have done, but we are still going to earn a lot of money this quarter. It’s not like this company is jeopardized — we hurt ourselves and our credibility, yes, and we’ve got to fully expect that and pay the price for that,” CEO Jamie Dimon said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
To be perfectly clear, JPMorgan did not lose taxpayer money. It lost its own money. Still, the news shook up Wall Street and Capitol Hill with bad flashbacks.
“Well, this is a big surprise because this particular bank is well-respected. It is well-led. And so, to have this kind of a loss from hedging activities is a big surprise,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think what it points out that there are no rules of the road for hedging and for derivatives. And this needs to happen.”
Capitol Hill reacts to JPMorgan’s loss
JPMorgan’s $2 billion loss, missteps
What should happen to JPMorgan’s CEO?
Getting things done in Washington
After the meltdown three years ago that nearly took the country over a cliff, Congress passed Dodd-Frank, a regulatory law to rein in risky investments and prevent the need for future government bailouts.
Writing the regulations has been a ferocious battle, particularly over something called the Volcker Rule, after former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. It would ban banks from trading with their own funds.
Worried about damaging the industry’s ability to protect itself and hurting the recovery, the Treasury Department, Republicans and Wall Street have been trying to water it down.
Dimon, a kind of a shining light in the industry, is a leading opponent of the Volcker Rule. Or has been until maybe now.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, told “Meet the Press” that the price to be paid “will be that they will lose their battle in Washington to weaken the rule. That is the real price.”
If Dimon has lost his voice, Republicans have not.
“Bear in mind, the Dodd-Frank bill, 2,300 pages, they’ve already had 400 rule-making sessions, and this is where you have so much government regulation coming in that you can’t see the forest for the trees,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, said on ABC’s “This Week.”
It is, as talking head after talking head conceded, very complicated.
But not all of it.
“In how we manage that portfolio, we did lose $2 billion trading. In hindsight, we took far too much risk,” Dimon said. “The strategy we had was barely vetted. It was barely monitored. It should never have happened.”
Unfortunately, the part that is clear is not reassuring.
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