Michael and all:

I will confess to be sarcastic and that I am usually turned off by Marc
Cooper's writing style and what he has to say.  I was turned off again this
time, although Marc's sarcasm this time was mild compared to some of the
other Marc Cooper pieces that Michael has shared.

So, I will comment on Marc's piece a bit more for the sake of discussion.

Marc Cooper's opinion piece below, "Room Service Please" is just that and
there is nothing scientific about the information, except the Pew survey
results.  What is noticeably missing from the piece is any significant class
analysis and the Pew survey shows that older people are paying more
attention that younger ones to what was happening to the mess in Congress
before the recent vote.  That older people are paying more attention in the
US to the political machinations in Washington  than younger ones is not
news.  Survey's have demonstrated this for years, often about who is voting,
but on other issues as well.  The truth of this analysis does not help
decide what to do differently in terms of convincing young people to follow
the lead of other young people in many other countries  and go into the

I also think the hotel service metaphor is particularly unhelpful.  Many of
the people who are currently really getting the shaft in the
recession/depression, unemployed, black and unemployed, in foreclosure, have
no health insurance, etc.,  cannot afford hotel service.  Unemployment among
black and hispanic youth is extraordinarily high compared to the rest.
Second, I see the Hotel Service Metaphor as kind of an elitist complaint,
like the extremely rich Bill Cosby (I do not mean that Marc Cooper is
anywhere near as rich as Cosby) lecturing black youth on how to behave so
that they can get a job‹that often does not exist.

I certainly play a different role than Marc and people would be very
surprised at me trying to teach journalism students.  I am a bit short on
the credentials writing skills, and experience that Marc has.  I am glad
that Marc Cooper is turning out progressive journalists, I hope that he is
teaching the radical, meaning root cause, analysis of current events that
are set in a class analysis.

And, I would certainly be please to read suggestions from Marc about how to
mobilize people, which would be a real contribution to the current problem
of the left.  I just think that the Room Service metaphor does not help at
all.  Perhaps he has insights from his time in Chile about what mobilized
people to support Allende.


From:  Michael Balter <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  Science for the People Discussion List
<[log in to unmask]>
Date:  Thu, 4 Aug 2011 18:16:14 +0200
To:  <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:  Re: Room Service, Please

Isn't trying to discredit or sidestep what someone is saying by questioning
their commitment to the struggle a cheap, hackneyed, and ultimately
dishonest tactic? I thought Larry was capable of better than that because
this kind of crap is really getting old. Different people play different
roles, and all are valid, including that of progressive commentators and
journalists (and journalism professors in Marc's case; he is turning out
more progressive journalists each year than anyone here is training
activists, including Larry I dare say.)

Let's debate the issues and not engage in one-upmanship about who is more
righteously revolutionary. An old, old, old game by now, and it smells very


On Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 4:49 PM, Larry Romsted <[log in to unmask]>
> Well, what Marc writes is what I consider to be standard understanding among
> activist organizations.  Getting people mobilized is hellishly difficult
> currently.  But, I am looking forward to reading about Marc Cooper helping
> organizing street actions and maybe getting busted for a good cause.   There
> are many possibilities.
> Larry
> From:  Michael <[log in to unmask]>
> Reply-To:  Science for the People Discussion List
> <[log in to unmask]>
> Date:  Thu, 4 Aug 2011 11:20:39 +0000
> To:  <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject:  Room Service, Please
> I think Marc Cooper puts his finger on the most serious problem the left is
> facing today, how to motivate and expand the activist base. Ultimately blaming
> the system is not enough alone; and I think it is true that all too many
> progressives treat the movement as therapy rather than as a serious mission to
> which blood, sweat and tears must be devoted. I have no clear answers, but
> Cooper's post raises some pretty depressing questions.
> Sent to you by Michael via Google Reader:
> Room Service, Please <>
> via Marc Cooper <>  by Marc Cooper on 8/3/11
>  <> Sorry but
> true. The overwhelming percentage of Americans relate to politics the same way
> hotel guests relate to room service (not an original thought. Lewis Lapham
> <>  came up with it about 20 years
> ago in an essay I canıt find).  We vote for politicians the same way we choose
> a hotel room and then we wait to be waited on.
> If service isnıt up to snuff, if our needs are not attended to with the
> deference we expect, we lodge a complaint at the front desk and then next time
> we choose a different place to stay.  Unlike two decades ago when Lapham wrote
> the piece I have in mind, one thing has changed.
> After our respective disappointment, just as hotel guests write a nasty Yelp
> review, we  can now also write a derogatory post: We have been gypped, dissed,
> betrayed, sold a bill of goods. Horrors!
> Now, there are truly bad hotels and even worse politicians. And both room
> guests and and voters have a sacred right to bitch.  But, folks, thereıs a
> world of difference between a consumer and a citizen.
> I am not offloading the weakness of our political leadership onto the
> shoulders of an already burdened citizenry. Yet, the republic is ours, if only
> we can keep it.
> There are some, few, Americans who get actively involved in politics. Too few.
> And some of them, I fear, are engaged more for therapeutic reasons rather than
> in any real attempt to build organization and constituencies.
> So among all of our disappointments, letıs not please relieve the masses of
> their own responsibilities.  If the Kardashians or the Patriots really are
> more important in their lives than medical care and a dignified retirement,
> then why should any politician stick his or her neck out to show real and
> courageous leadership? Just exactly to which powerful constituency would he or
> she be responding?
> Itıs very easy to get on the Web and post a negative review of this or that
> elected leader. ³Hey, I voted for this guy based on the brochure he offered
> but then he really screwed me. The bed was uncomfortable, the wall were too
> thin, the meals were over-priced and the glass was half-empty. I am one real
> dissatisfied customer and I recommend that none of you ever vote for this guy
> in the future. Spend your money elsewhere.²
> OK, now consider thisŠ consider WHO actually got up off the sofa last week and
> actually mobilized to participate, albeit minimally, in the national debt
> ³debate.²  The Pew Center has all the stats
> <
> july/?src=prc-headline> .  A friend writes with a quick summary of them:
>> The Pew Research Center for People and the Press offers  a clue today into
>> why the battle in Washington to raise the debt ceiling  ended up with a
>> deficit-reduction deal that would just cut spending with no  increase in
>> taxes. Those who wanted budget cuts paid the most attention. In the  last
>> week in July, the story accounted for 47% of the news coverage in
>> newspapers, TV, radio and the Internet; that was appropriate at a time when
>> 41%  of all adults considered it the most riveting development according to
>> Pewıs  weekly survey of public interest in the news. But if you look more
>> closely,  youıll find that 66% of Republicans and supporters of the Tea Party
>> closely  tracked the budget negotiations vs 34% of those who held different
>> views or had no opinion. Whatıs more, about 20% of the Tea Party supporters
>> contacted an elected official. Only 5% of those who disagreed with the  group
>> did so. Interestingly, young people ‹ who had the most at stake in  the
>> debate ‹ were least motivated to try to influence the outcome. Only 19% of
>> adults between 18 and 29 followed the story closely and 1% contacted an
>> elected  official. By contrast, about 54% of people over 50 kept up with the
>> budget  debate with 16% contacting an official. Pewıs findings come from a
>> telephone  poll of about 1,000 adults (including both landline and cell
>> customers) and has  a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage  points.
> What does that tell you? A lot, IMHO.
> We certainly saw John Boehner capitulate to the pressure from the tea-baggers.
> To what pressure were the Democrats exposed?
> I understand quite well the alienation that Americans and, especially, young
> people feel about the political process.  Thatıs not a good enough excuse,
> however, to let the country go to hell in a handbasket.
> In the meantime, Please Do Not  Disturb.
> Things you can do from here:
> * Subscribe to Marc Cooper
> <
> F?source=email>  using Google Reader
> * Get started using Google Reader <>
> to easily keep up with all your favorite sites

Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
New York University

Email:  [log in to unmask]
Web: <>

³Faced with the choice between changing oneıs mind and proving that there is
no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
                                                  --John Kenneth Galbraith