Occupy turns left

Liberals have had lots of fun mocking Tea Party activists who decry federal spending and government overreach while fiercely defending their access to Social Security and Medicare. Today, the left submits its own entrant into this exercise in political gymnastics, as Occupy Wall Street stakes its comeback bid on a general strike against capitalism.

Occupy movements across the country have scheduled May Day protests. In Boston, the protests will begin with a block party outside the Bank of America tower, and culminate in a Copley Square funeral for capitalism. The general strike urges participants not to work or attend school, and to abstain from banking and commerce.

The May Day strike is supposed to be Occupy’s coming out party, its first mass action since activists were evicted from camps last fall. But if the planned May Day actions are any indication, the Occupy movement will be emerging from the winter riddled with the same kinds of sectarian divides it was grappling with last fall.

When Occupy had physical camps to defend, it could defer questions about whether it represented a progressive reform movement or a revolutionary one. The tenor of today’s May Day protests — decrying the act of banking, parading through Copley Square carrying a coffin for capitalism — tilts in the revolutionary direction. But it’s also an absurdist action, because Occupy protesters are as enmeshed in the capitalist economy, and derive the same kinds of benefits from it, as the Tea Partiers who cash Social Security checks.

Banking underwrites the public transit systems and social safety net programs that Occupy protesters have mobilized in favor of; capitalism finances student loan debt, and the physical campuses students study at. Calling for a day without banking won’t stop interest from compounding on student loans and mortgages. Occupy activists can’t separate themselves from high finance any more than the Tea Party can sever its ties to federal safety net programs, or Ron Paul gold standard acolytes can engage in a debate with the ghost of William Jennings Bryan. 

                                                                                                                                –PAUL MCMORROW


Attorney General Martha Coakley reprimands the Board of Selectmen in Wenham for violating the state’s Open Meeting Law, the Salem News reports.

Officials from Gloucester, Boston, New Bedford, and Salem sign state ports compact headed by Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, the Gloucester Times reports.

Susan Gittelman, in a Voices piece for CommonWealth, says a new law pairing social services with housing will save money and improve lives.


$#*! my neighbor says? The Middleboro police chief is proposing to levy $20 fines against people who swear in public.

State lawmakers advanced a bill to force utilities to remove double poles, which cities and towns say often stay in place for years because nothing can be done to push the companies to act.

Supporters and opponents of casinos launch dueling websites aimed at swaying voters in Taunton in advance of a June vote on siting a casino in the city.

The embattled head of the Medford Housing Authority has taken a two week unpaid leave of absence.

Boston City Hall is squashing a food truck movement it says it supports, Boston magazine argues.

Attleboro discovers it has a Superfund site on its hands.


A survey from the Center for the American Dream at Xavier University finds one in three natural born US citizens failed the civics portion of the immigration test though 77 percent of those surveyed think immigrants should pass the test to become citizens. Via U.S. News & World Report.


Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas accuses Ellzabeth Warren (aka Professor Pocohantas) of cashing in with her ancestry. Here’s an NECN report on the issue. The Herald, which broke the story, keeps the heat on. And for Margery Eagan, the Estrogen Express is reeling. Greater Boston looks at whether the dustup over Warren’s heritage will become an issue in the Senate race. Meanwhile, a  genealogist finds proof that the candidate is, in fact, part Cherokee.

The Globe looks at Warren’s only appearance before the US Supreme Court — a case involving asbestos exposure in which Warren worked for Travelers Insurance.

US Sen. Scott Brown, who has voted three times to try to repeal President Obama’s health care law, acknowledged that he takes advantage of one its provisions by maintaining his 23-year-old daughter’s health insurance coverage as part of his congressional family insurance plan.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he has no interest in running for vice president, but admits he’d listen to any Romney pitch and “he might be able to convince me,” the Star-Ledger reports.

The American Spectator says the alleged GOP “war on women” is a myth and points to Republican championing of women’s suffrage as proof, although the piece doesn’t highlight much else in the past century or so. Meanwhile, states across the country are cutting family planning programs.

The Obama campaign unveils its “Bark for Barack” ads aimed at pet owners.


Five of the state’s port cities have signed a compact for a new initiative focused on economic development and capitalizing on resources of Massachusetts seaports.

Bank of America plans to cut 2,000 jobs, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Mass Lottery expects to turn a record profit this fiscal year.

Employees are running for the exits at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Homeownership in the US has now fallen 10 percentage points since its peak.


METCO, the Boston-Springfield school desegregation program, may see a funding increase for the first time in several years.

Clark University in Worcester is touting the education return its graduates receive, WBUR reports.

A union-funded report says most of the state’s wealthiest private colleges and universities do business with firms connected to members of their boards of trustees.


A Suffolk University Law School professor says a new medical apology program touted as a way for doctors and hospitals to come clean about medical errors is really about protecting their bottom lines.

State regulators approved a modest 1.2 percent rate hike for the insurers serving small businesses and individuals.

Paul Levy highlights a couple of new websites that offer patients some guidance on how to become more active participants in their health care.

Eliot Spitzer argues against a phantom Antonin Scalia in Slate, providing a list of individual mandates the founding fathers foisted upon the American populace.


Boston plans to turn a run-down gas station into a 12-space parking lot catering to electric vehicles, Governing reports.

The warm winter posed problems for right whales, including fewer offspring.


A court in Ecuador took just two days to convict Luis Guaman of bludgeoning a Brockton mother and her child to death but local prosecutors say Guaman could be out in 10 to 12 years.

South Boston residents packing meeting to discuss drug problems in the community, NECN reports.


After months of investigations, a British parliamentary committee concludes that Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corporation, which owns dozens of media companies including Fox News, is “unfit” to lead a major international company.

A new book about former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee questions whether Bob Woodward embellished the edges of his Watergate reporting. New York magazine has an excerpt, and Woodward’s rebuttal.