Tag: tactics

On Shame As A Tactic, Or, Betsie Gallardo: She Won…And So Can You!

We have been following the story of Betsie Gallardo lately, she being the woman that, due to a medical decision, was being starved to death in a Florida prison.

She has inoperable cancer, her death is imminent, and her mother was working hard to make it possible for Betsie to die at home with some dignity.

As we reported just a couple days ago, half the battle was already won, as the Florida Department of Corrections had agreed to place her in a hospital so that she could again go back on nutritional support.

On January 5th, the Florida Parole Commission voted to allow her to end her life at home-and that means you spoke out, made a difference, and achieved a complete victory for the effort.

But even as we celebrate that victory, I think we should take a moment to realize that there is a bigger lesson here: the lesson that the fights over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), benefits for 9/11 first responders (the Zadroga Bill), and Betsie Gallardo’s imminent release are all actually pointing us to a political strategy that works, over and over, if we are willing to understand the wisdom that’s been laid before us.

Won’t get fooled again! Again.

1979 San Francisco.  We were working on a hard-fought rent-control ballot initiative.  Hard-fought between the coalition of tenant organizations and the Democratic Party stalwarts on one side (seemingly) against the landlords and downtown developers who ran City Hall under Mayor Dianne Feinstein.

Even more hard-fought was the struggle between the tenant organizations which had created the campaign in the first place and ran the campaign’s district committees (I chaired District 6, the Mission), against the Democratic Party’s consultants (the little wigs) and Democratic clubs and official leftists, over whether the campaign would be a consultant-based media affair, or grassroots tenant-based.  The underlying question was whether the district committees would last beyond election day.

The money went to the consultants and for TV ads, while the district committees were starved.  The measure had been gutted even before the campaign began, in order to appease a few prestigious Democratic clubs that in the end actually opposed the initiative.  In the home stretch, it became clear that Prop R was going down.

Now a whiny voice pipes up from the back of the room.  “Hey, old guy, is this gonna be another of your boring stories about how you had to walk 20 miles through the snow to get to an SDS meeting?”

“Shaddup, kid, there’s a point here somewhere!”

As I was  saying, in the final weeks, the campaign bosses went into a pseudo-frenzy.  Once more to the barricades, voter registration, lit drops.  The campaign came down to getting a slate card under every door in the city.  No volunteer was to be left standing as the polls closed.

What a long, strange trip it’s been

A few words on how I got here, old, tired and sick, but truckin’ on.  About my focus on tactics, not just tactics in-themselves, but how they are developed.

I was a 60’s kid, brought up white lower-middle-class, believing in the American dream, freedom of speech, civil rights, truth and beauty.  In 1964, I supported both Barry Goldwater and Martin Luther King.  How’s that?  Got to college, and along with millions of others, found out that the American dream was a lie.  War in Vietnam was an obscenity.  Michigan State University had nothing to do with either truth or beauty.  Got active.

Sitting in to support three groovy professors who had been fired at the behest of the Mothers Against Degeneracy.  The Akers Hall Kiss-in (hundreds of people kissing in the lounge because they were told they couldn’t.  The war.  Always the war.  Marched, did wild in the streets.  Saw it crushed.  Friends with broken bones, in jail.  Dead.  The George McGovern campaign in 1972 picked up the pieces and sold them cheap.  I was shattered, broken.  Emotionally and political numb.

How did I get through it?

Another Coffin Nail – Boss Limbaugh

As with so many of the Presidents tactical actions there is more than meets the eye with this whole Boss Limbaugh (one of Mr. Oblermann’s best name coining’s to date)  imbroglio. There are those on the left that  are still suffering from eight years of Republican induced PTSD that are worried that we are elevating Boss Limbaugh to levels that will cause us trouble. They say, “Don’t feed the troll! Ignoring him is the best way.” Or “We have more important things to focus on”. The problem with this view is that they are ignoring the political situation and the gains that the Democratic agenda can make through tacitly encouraging this to continue.  

Tactics And Strategy, What’s The Difference?

This post may fall in the “teaching your grandmother to suck eggs” category, but today the Dog would like to talk about strategy vs. tactics. It is really important to know the difference, not just for your quest to take over the world (h/t Pinky and the Brain) but so that you don’t make yourself crazed in our expanding and information dense political discourse. One problem is that no one (with the exception of some of the Republicans that don’t understand that Twitter is really public) is going to tell you when they are acting tactically or strategically. Hopefully by the time the Dog is done pounding 1,000 words or so, you will be able to spot the difference.  

St Paul, Repression, Solidarity and Diversity of Tactics

As a witness to some of the events this past week in St Paul, I wanted to write about it.  As well as having friends who were arrested, in jail and looking at prison sentences, I took it more personal.

I’ve thought about the fact of how many have brought up how they’ve been arrested and/or fellow comrades and how that may take away from the movement and any issues going on in the world.  However, I think that bringing that up is so important because of the police repression that happened in Minnesota this past week, simply for organizing, protesting with a WIDE variety of tactics (whether that is deemed legal or not) and other things that “apparently” people arrested did.

The Welcoming Committee brought up the diversity of tactics for other groups of all kinds on the left to sign on to, as a lesson to the WTO Protests in 1999 in Seattle. Of course, not everyone is going to agree on what Anarchists do and what Liberal kids do … I certainly don’t agree that voting is the change of everything or signing petitions in mass numbers will do much. However, I can agree it may work better at a local level.

An article from May of 2008 (about Diversity of Tactics):

Simply put, “diversity of tactics” means that activists will respect each others’ methods of protesting, allowing each other time and space in which to conduct their protests. Many cited the World Trade Organization demonstrations in Seattle as a successful protest from which lessons on mass mobilization should be drawn. Others spoke of their experience as anti-war activists during the Vietnam War.