That Dare Not Speak Their Names

Bob Von Sternberg’s piece on the weekend’s festivities, entitled “Union marchers swell ranks of OccupyMN protesters, join in march on banks”, fills you with a lot of things – like the urge to sing “The Internationale” (or at least “Look For The Union Label”).

Whatever it does, though, it doesn’t do – or at least it doesn’t explain – one thing.

See if you can figure out what it is:

Union leaders headlined a day of OccupyMN street theater Saturday, capped when about 300 protesters marched peacefully across downtown Minneapolis, denouncing the region’s three biggest banks.

“Banks got bailed out — we got sold out!” was one of several chants delivered during the march.

Yeah, I’m upset about that, too.  Banks getting bailed out, while me – part of the private sector – had to suck it up and tough it out.

And those union guys – well, they surely took it in the shorts.  Right?

“We’ll be in the streets until the one percent give up some of their wealth to the 99 percent,” said Elliot Seide, who heads the union representing 40,000 state, county and municipal workers. “This protest is going to change this country. It ought to be all the people who share the wealth of this great nation.”

Yeah, those private sector unions suffered mightily…

…er, wait!  Elliot Seide?  What union is he from?

Why, he’s from AFSCME – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees!  And they, up there with the banks, were among the “winners” that Obama picked with its bailouts.

Why would Bob Von Sternberg leave that out?

It’s just an oversight, I’m sure.


Javier Morillo-Alicea, president of the union that represents 5,000 janitors, security guards and commercial housekeepers, told the crowd, “This movement will change this country,” adding that its overarching goal is to have “the richest 1 percent pay their fair share.”

Hold it – Javier Morillo-Alicea?  President of “the union”?  Which one?

SEIU Local 26.

But…why would Von Sternberg not mention this in his account of the event?

“We need to stand up and yell and be the 99 percent,” said Michelle Sommers, president of the union that represents Metro Transit bus drivers. “We need to get off our couches and start acting like the 99 percent.”

Oh, Ms. Sommers is with the Amalgamated Transit Union.

And all three of these representatives of public employees unions – who were among the biggest beneficiaries of Obama’s bailouts – referred to themsevles as “part of the 99%”.  It’s inaccurate, of course; they’re the 36.2% of the 18% – that’s about 7% of the whole population – that works for government employee unions and can expect better pay and vastly better benefits and pensions than most of us, entirely at taxpayer expense, without regard to their own performance or the taxpayers’ fiscal health.

And they’re demonstrating at an even endorsed by President Obama to, well, support President Obama.  To keep that gravy train all gravied up.

Now – why do you suppose Von Sternberg couldn’t mention even the names of the unions involved?

The Real Eighties: Johnny Clegg and Savuka

One of the things I miss the most about music in the eighties was that almost anything could score, with a little luck.

Some kinds, of course, had a head start.  South Africa was tres hip in the nineties – and for a brief spell, South Africa’s jumpy melange of pop styles got some airplay and mindshare in the west.

And one of the biggest sellers – to the extent that there was a big seller – was South Africa’s “Johnny Clegg and Savuka”.

Clegg – an Brit-Rhodesian whose mother’s parents were Polish/Lithuanian Jews – fronting a mixed-race group that pretty edgy stuff in apartheid-era South Africa – was a musical sponge, known as “The White Zulu” who mixed languages and genres like Emeril Legasse mixes spices:

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And while it was almost inevitable that the politics would beat you over the head – because politics were an inevitable part of South Africa’s situation at the time – it worked as often as not,and in any case, it was often great music…

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…so who cares anyway?

And sometimes being beaten over the head could be fun!

But more of that tomorrow…