Saturday, October 29, 2011

U.S. Declaration of Independence With Translations

Perhaps the most sublime document ever written, the Declaration of Independence of the United States does not have the force of law, but was an inspiration to the Americans of 1776, and has since been an inspiration to uncounted billions of people around the globe even today.

Below are links to the original document in English, and to other languages courtesy of Google Translate (and I give the French language pride of place here, because if it had not been for the people of France, there never would have been a United States of America to begin with):

The Declaration of Independence

La Déclaration d'Indépendance

إعلان الاستقلال

Декларацията за независимост


Deklarace nezávislosti


De Verklaring van Onafhankelijkheid

Ang Pahayag ng Kalayaan

Die Declaration of Independence

Η Διακήρυξη της Ανεξαρτησίας

הכרזת העצמאות

आजादी की घोषणा

A Függetlenségi Nyilatkozat

Yfirlýsingu um Independence

Deklarasi Kemerdekaan

La Dichiarazione di Indipendenza


독립 선언서

Deklarasi Kemerdekaan

The Declaration of Independence (Norwegian)

اعلامیه استقلال

Deklaracja Niepodległości

A Declaração de Independência

Declaraţia de Independenţă

Декларация независимости

Декларација о независности

Deklarácia nezávislosti

La Declaración de Independencia


சுதந்திர பிரகடனம்


Bağımsızlık Bildirgesi

Декларація незалежності

آزادی کےاعلان

Tuyên ngôn Độc lập

Mae'r Datganiad Annibyniaeth

Why bother with all this? Why should I have taken the time and invested the (minimal) effort? Because I truly believe that ordinary people the world over have no wish to kill each other, that they wish only for a fighting chance to live decent lives, to raise their families in peace and safety, because governments the world over cater to the rich and powerful who care not a fig whether ordinary people live or die, and because, in the immortal words of the slain U.S. President John F. Kennedy, I believe that ". . . our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stop the Frickin' Wars!

America's seemingly endless wars need to end now.

The people of the United States don't believe in them. Americans don't believe that it is necessary for their "security" to conquer and/or occupy foreign countries. What they do believe is that these wars are being fought only to further line the pockets of the already obscenely rich Big Oil companies, and to throw dust in the faces of the American people at home so that more of them won't realize the extent to which their own government is screwing them right up the old yin-yang at home.

Many (far, far TOO many) brave young Americans have already given their lives or any chance of a normal life at home for no better reason than the fact that the evil, greedy cocksuckers who run the U.S. government want the campaign dollars tossed their way by the big defense contractors. Bright young patriotic kids, who's only "crime" is that up until now they've truly believed that the USA really is the "land of the free and home of the brave" are being killed, maimed, and brutalized every single day only in order to fight a wholly fictitious "War On Terror" when the real terrorists are right here in the USA!

Americans don't want an overseas empire, and never did! Real Americans have no desire to impose our system of government on anyone else, anywhere, and never have! Why the hell would we? For Christ's sake, it's now waging war against its own citizens here at home!

The U.S. government, and all too many state and local governments, have turned out to be "The Beast" spoken of in the "Book of Revelation" in the Christian Bible. Want to fight real "terrorists"? Start with the corrupt, greedy, power-crazed terrorists who occupy some of the highest positions in the U.S. government in Washington including the White House, both Houses of Congress, many of the federal departments and agencies, and don't forget many of the state governors' offices, state legislatures, and all too many local mayors' offices and municipal/county councils. Far, far too many of these people, under the guise of "conservatism" or "liberalism" have waged war on the American people for decades via the spreading of deliberate disinformation, the fomenting of mass-hysteria and fear, and now in some cases are even resorting to wrongfully imprisoning or shooting American citizens down in the streets merely for exercising their constitutional rights.

The American people are currently engaged in the fight of their lives, an epic struggle to take their own government back into their own hands so that, in the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln, "government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the Earth."

The American people are unreservedly proud of and grateful to all who currently wear our country's uniform, but they need you here, now, at home to defend them from our country's real enemies.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Has U.S. Gov't Declared War On the American People? (Update)

No, the title of this blog post wasn't designed merely to attract readers and/or comments.

There have been growing signs and examples of forcible repression of Occupy protesters engaged in exercising their First Amendment rights for many days now. These occurrences of repression have been staged with more brutality in some places than others, but repression is repression no matter what form it make take.

There were the infamous examples of the so-called "Battle of the Brooklyn Bridge" and the subsequent assault on U.S. citizens conducted in NYC several days later by the NYPD. During the former the NYPD kettled and arrested some 700 American citizens peacefully protesting and expressing themselves.

Occupiers in other cities and towns have been subjected to low levels of harassment from the first, such as those in Cincinnati who were given citations from the Cincinnati Police Department on a nightly basis for days on end. Occupy Boston was assaulted by the Boston Police Department, during which assault numerous injuries were sustained and arrests made. Occupy Denver was assaulted by the Denver Police Department and the Colorado State Police.

A few days ago, Occupy Chicago was assaulted by the Chicago Police Department, and numerous arrests were made including dozens of nurses who were present in support of the protesters. Occupy St. Louis, Occupy Dallas, Occupy Tampa, Occupy San Diego, and Occupy Seattle have also either been assaulted or harassed by police, and there are many more Occupy groups too numerous to mention who have now had similar experiences.

Then two nights ago, Occupy Oakland was subjected to a full-scale military-style assault by members of the Oakland Police Department during which police fired rubber bullets and tear-gas at peaceful protesters, and flash-bang grenades and a sound-cannon were also employed by police. Many protesters sustained serious injuries, and one protester, a former United States Marine and an Iraq War veteran, was hit in the head by a projectile fired by police and is now in critical condition in a local hospital.

If that wasn't enough, at virtually the same time protesters at Occupy Atlanta were being forcibly evicted from their site and arrested by the Atlanta Police Department.

Last night Occupy D.C. reported being overrun by District police and their equipment confiscated, and today protesters at Occupy Tampa are reporting arrests for merely being present in a public park in broad daylight.

I am ordinarily not a "conspiracy theory" aficionado, but I for one do not believe that all these acts of repression can possibly have been either spontaneous or coincidental. To me at least it appears that the current Democratic Administration in Washington has realized that they cannot hope to manipulate or use the various Occupy movements nationwide to boost the chances of the re-elections of President Obama and other Democratic politicians in 2012, and that they have therefore concluded that the protesters are simply so much "trash," fit only to be swept from America's streets. What happened at Occupy D.C. seems particularly telling in this regard, since those protesters had never been subjected even to police harassment, let alone violence or arrests up until now.

Therefore it does appear to me, for one, that the government of the United States has now declared open war on the American people, albeit in the way wars are always "declared" these days--with no formal declaration by Congress, merely a directive of the Commander-in-Chief sufficing instead. It seems that the U.S. government has concluded, in its wisdom, that the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is no longer "operative," or at least no longer convenient, and is acting accordingly.

The only question remaining is what, if anything, are the American people going to do about it?


Update: As of this morning Occupy D.C. reporting they are fine, but expect possible police raid tonight. This does not change my basic thesis.

Further update: I've now found and listed on Twitter @OccupyMarines, @OccupyNavy, @OccupyArmy, and @OccupyAirForce. The serving men and women in the U.S. military have never in our history let the American people down, and by God it looks like they're not about to start doing so now!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What The Hell Happens Now?

There have been shocking scenes of repression (or attempted repression) ever since the Occupy Wall Street movement began in NYC, back in the days, merely a few weeks ago, when only a very few protesters were involved. These scenes included young women being pepper-sprayed in the face and climaxed in the now-notorious "Battle of the Brooklyn Bridge" in which some 700 protesters were lured by the NYPD onto the vehicular deck of the bridge and then arrested en masse, and included scenes a short time later in which hundreds more protesters were brutalized by the NYPD as they attempted to reach Wall Street itself. It was these scenes, more than anything else, which probably led to Occupy movements springing up in sympathy all across the country, so that today some 1,500 American cities and towns are "occupied."

There have also been other repressions, some more dramatic than others, including those which took place (and in some cases are still taking place) in Cincinnati, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, and St. Louis, just to name a few. To their eternal credit, the Albany Police Department flatly refused the orders of the Mayor of Albany and the Governor of New York to evict the Occupy protesters in that city, but thus far they are the exception, not the norm. Of course, all sorts of supposed "justifications" have been advanced for these repressions, with civic authorities often citing municipal ordinances regarding "camping" in city parks or the use of city parks outside certain hours of the day, although the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in no way limits the exercise of free speech.

Last night, however, the repressions assumed a ferocity heretofore unseen in this country. Occupy Atlanta protesters were forcibly ejected from their site, with many being arrested as is attested in this video:

And of all the attempted repressions which took place, the most ferocity was shown in Oakland, California, by members of the Oakland Police Department, as shown in these videos:

Just yesterday, The New York Times published a poll which showed that some 46% of Americans agree to at least some degree with the Occupy protests: "New Poll Finds a Deep Distrust of Government".

The question at hand therefore becomes what if anything are Americans thus far not involved in the protests in any way going to do about all of this? Will scenes like those above motivate them to join protests taking place in their cities and towns? Or to form new Occupy protests where none now exist? Or will they simply purchase another six-pack and kick back to be "entertained" by yet another brain-numbing "reality television" program?

Another question worth considering is what if anything will the U.S. military do? Not the brasshats in the Pentagon, of course. They are a part of the problem, shamelessly pandering to whatever corrupt administration happens to be in power in Washington at any given time, for no better reason than the wish of the "Commander-in-Chief" du jour to prove he has a bigger set of stones than his predecessor in office. But what about the brave young men and women who are actually fighting and (in all too many cases) dying overseas, who have been told for over a decade now that they have been and are making incredible sacrifices to protect "freedom" back home?

Clearly, the powers-that-be in the United States are now feeling threatened by non-violent protesters who, only a few weeks ago, were mostly being written off as "lazy hippies." What will happen next is anyone's guess.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Successful Outcome for #OWS?

Someone who is participating actively in the Occupy movement, who has been doing so since the early days in Liberty Park in NYC, and whose judgement I respect and trust, asked me via Twitter yesterday: "Here's a question for you: what would an outcome for this look like? What would you consider a success?"

He was referring to the Occupy movements as a whole in asking the above questions, and he was referencing the blog post I published on Sunday, Oct. 23rd: "#OWS Now In 1500 Cities/Towns In US--Will It Be Enough?".

My answer is simple enough: a complete reconstruction of the American socioeconomic and political systems.

To flesh that answer out a bit, I mean the reconstruction of the American socioeconomic system, which would include the elimination not of capitalism per se, but the ending of predatory capitalism, of crony capitalism, and of the American corporatocracy, the last of which issues also falls under the reconstruction of the American political system since the two have become inextricably linked. As for the reconstruction of the American political system, I believe that assuming the retention of the present Constitution as a starting point, several constitutional amendments would be required. Among these would be an amendment which would effectively and for all time reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous decision in Citizens United vs. FEC, another amendment which would set term limits for members of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, another amendment which would end lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary (including the SCOTUS) and replace those judicial appointments with appointments of specified duration, another amendment which would end the pernicious, dangerous, and undemocratic practice of organized lobbying, an amendment which would forbid all forms of paid political advertising, and at least one further amendment which would subject all elected (and some appointed) federal officials including the presidency, members of Congress, and justices of the Supreme Court to the process of recall elections under set terms and conditions.

Obviously, there isn't a chance in hell that all of those issues, perhaps even any of them, will ever be addressed--not in the lifetimes of those now protesting in the streets of America's cities and towns, and probably not in the lives even of their great-great-great grandchildren. But my friend (and I do think of this man in that way, although we have never met and probably never will) didn't ask me for a realistic appraisal of the possible, only what I would consider a "success."

"But you didn't mention ending America's wars!" someone reading this post might point out hotly. No, I didn't, because if the American people actually controlled their own government, American empire-building and military interventionism/adventurism would stop in about ten seconds, and U.S. troops overseas would be boarding ships and planes for the trip home beginning in twenty-four hours or less.

If you are reading this and asking "Why not all or any of the above?" the answer, as I've stated in this blog numerous times before, is even simpler than my original answer to my friend's questions. Those who currently hold the strings of power in their hands in the United States, including the elected officials of either party not to mention the corporate CEOs and boards of directors who pull their strings, are not about to let power slip out of their hands. In fact, in all of human history, no entrenched socioeconomic/political system has ever voluntarily relinquished its power and authority; and say what they will, pretend to "understand" or "sympathize with" today's Occupy protesters as much as they may, those men and women who run the United States of America today will prove no different when push comes to shove.

"Ah, but what about Tahir Square?" you may ask. Didn't the people of Egypt, or at least the people of Cairo, manage to force basic regime change in a country which, unlike the United States, had no effective democratic traditions in the first place? Yes, they did, but the protesters in Cairo were in Egypt's capital city, and they numbered not thousands but tens or even hundreds of thousands. And even then, they were not successful until the Egyptian military decided that their best bet was to dump their allegiance to Hosni Mubarak and his regime and to go over to the side of the protesters instead. The same was true in Tunisia. Protesters there were only successful when the local gendarmerie and military dumped their former employer in favor of those who were protesting the status quo. Can anyone imagine a similar situation occurring in the United States? In Washington, D.C.? I can't.

The late, former revolutionary and Chinese leader Mao Zhedong once observed that, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun," and he wasn't wrong, although one might well generalize the former Chairman's observation to read that political power grows out of the control of armed force, for all the fantasy Americans are still taught today in school that "government derives from the consent of the governed."

In the United States, "armed force" means police departments and active members of the United States military. As of today, in cities and towns across the country, American governors, mayors, police chiefs, sheriffs, and other authorities are demonstrating clearly that, constitutional rights notwithstanding, they have no hesitation in using the armed forces available to them in the form of militarized police departments to sweep up protests and protesters whose goings-on they find threatening or even simply inconvenient, nor is such repression occurring only in areas where elected officials are self-proclaimed "conservatives." And this when the Occupy protests are little more than a month old. Already the forces of repression are trampling constitutional rights which Americans have taken for granted for centuries, and they've just barely begun warming up.

As the repression builds, will more Americans (in tens or hundreds of thousands, or even in the millions) be motivated to come out into the streets and take an active part? I would't care to bet on it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

#OWS Now In 1500 Cities/Towns In US--Will It Be Enough?

Incredibly, the Occupy Wall Street movement has now spread to some 1,500 cities and towns across the United States. Will that be enough to force meaningful change?

I think not. I support the movement, although I cannot do so actively, and I continue to believe that the Occupy movement is the best, perhaps last hope the people of the United States have to regain control not only of their own government, which sold itself out to the monied interests in this country decades ago, but also of their own society as a whole including their economy and the way information itself (perhaps the most priceless of all commodities) is disseminated in our society.

However, as I've stated in this blog before and will now state again, no entrenched, powerful socioeconomic and/or political system has ever in the history of the world succumbed to radical change from within or without unless it has been presented with no alternative, or else has been forcibly swept away; and it is inconceivable to me that the corporatocracy which has now governed through its bought-and-paid-for politicians for decades, and which has used its power during those decades to stack the proverbial deck to its own advantage in every imaginable way will be any different.

Yes, it is truly marvelous that there still exist enough clearheaded, patriotic Americans to have brought Occupy protests to the streets of 1,500 U.S. cities and towns. That in itself is something I never hoped to see and is an accomplishment of historic proportions. But even if every city and town in the country were "occupied," even if there were tens of millions of Americans protesting in the streets instead of the tens of thousands we sometimes see today, still the prevailing system would not change. It would not because it cannot.

Both of the major U.S. political parties have long since sold their souls to their corporate masters. Perhaps the advent of television made that sellout inevitable, given the power television at once assumed over U.S. federal, state, and local elections and the costs associated with political (as with all other forms of) advertising, but the two major parties' Faustian bargain has long since come due. Try as they might, they will not be able to escape the coils of their masters. It is also an historical fact that no third party has ever in U.S. history been able to make any lasting contribution for good or ill with the exception of being in a position to act as a spoiler from time to time.

Add to all of the above the facts that police departments across the country have been militarized and trained to see so-called "terrorists" lurking around every corner, that what once passed for journalism in the mass-media (also corporate-owned) has long since turned into little more than a propaganda machine touting the virtues of the status quo, and that it goes against human nature for those who hold power of any sort ever to relinquish it willingly, and it seems clear that even if the current "occupiers" manage to make it through the oncoming winter intact, even if some sort of national General Assembly can be formed and is permitted to meet and do its business (a highly questionable proposition at best, given the level of repression already being practiced against the movement across the country), the end result will still be an election as usual in 2012, for which the usual candidates will be selected in the usual way. These candidates, so-selected and both beholden to those who bought and paid for their nominations and who will also buy and pay for their campaigns, will then be presented to the American people as their only alternatives. The final outcome, no matter who wins the White House or which party controls the Congress, will leave the American people precisely where we are right now.

The Occupy movement is a great beginning. It has at least managed to get thousands of Americans out into the streets to protest the injustices being practiced against them by their own elected and appointed officials and by those officials' true bosses, and it has perhaps gotten millions of other Americans who are not as yet actively protesting to stop and think about where our country is headed. But that in itself will not be enough. If the Occupy movement remains what it is today, at best it will go down in history books a few decades from now as just another populist "revolt" which in the end came to nothing.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What I Hope #OWS Will Accomplish

First (and again), I can't stress enough that I am not an active participant in any of the Occupy movements around the country. The nearest to me would be Indianapolis, I'd have no way of getting there even if I wanted to, and my health's so crappy I can only barely make it out of my apartment two or three times a month for very short periods of time. So that's out.

Second, the ideas I'm going to present below do not represent what I think is actually achievable. What might be or wouldn't be achievable would take a completely separate blog post, if not a full-scale book to set down.

Below, then, are the issues which I, as a private citizen, feel need to be addressed. They appear in no particular order, and in some cases are more fully-fleshed than others. The ideas presented are really only a much-abbreviated version of my personal wish list.

Get Corporate Money Out of Politics
I think I've heard this mentioned by occupiers more often than anything else, and I couldn't agree more. The trouble is how, exactly, is this to be accomplished? The idea I've most often seen regarding getting corporate money out of politics is to get the states, since Congress will never go along with it, to agree to call a constitutional convention, which would then draft an amendment to the U.S. Constitution essentially reversing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the notorious Citizens United case.

The trouble with that idea is that corporate money is involved in the state legislatures too, although to a lesser extent than it is in Congress. Another problem is that many would-be professional politicians get their start in one of the state legislatures, hoping to go on to "bigger and better things" later on (i.e. election to the U.S. House or Senate). They're unlikely to be sympathetic to the idea of reducing the flow of cash to the members of a body whose ranks they hope to join one day.

Dismantle the "National Security State"
This heads such issues as the repeal of the infamous "Patriot Act" and the other similar and/or supporting acts of Congress which were initiated by President George W. Bush, and which have been added to and strengthened substantially by President Barack Obama. Collectively, these acts represent the most heinous, fundamental assault on the civil liberties of Americans since the notorious "Alien and Sedition" acts were enacted under President John Adams. There is also the point to consider that the establishment of the so-called "Department of Homeland Security" and the various minion agencies which were created to augment and support it represented a doubling of the size of the Federal government (and of the government's non-military expenditures) from what existed at the time George W. Bush first took the oath of office on January 20, 2001.

Clearly, doing anything in the way of the repeal and subsequent dismantling of DHS and any of its subordinate agencies would represent taking a colossal political risk on the part of any elected official who might support such a move. That would be the case even for elected officials who might not be personally corrupt in the sense of having benefited financially from the industries which make the national security state possible.

Why? Because there are individuals and entities existing in the world who do wish the United States and the people thereof harm, even if the majority of them may only be semi-brainless fanatics. Even if the political climate in this country weren't as poisonous as it is, any politician with even half a brain must realize that were they to vote for the disestablishment of the national security state, and if a successful attack were then made within this country resulting in mass casualties, their career in politics would be finished. The dead and/or wounded would have been their fault. At least that is what the perception of the media, and of a very large segment of the general public would be.

Bring the Troops Home, Drastically Downsize the Defense Budget
This amounts to the dismantling of the "American Empire" and of ending U.S. military adventurism and interventionism. These ideas seem to be prevalent among a large proportion of the Occupy crowd, although nowhere near everyone involved would think these ideas even worth mentioning.

First, while there have always been Americans who have believed (as George Washington did) that the less the United States has to do with other countries the better, there have also always been (and still are) many millions of Americans who believe that exactly the opposite is true. Anytime a people anywhere are oppressed, there are Americans (including many on the "progressive" Left) who believe the U.S. ought to intervene, even militarily, on "humanitarian" grounds even when the regimes involved pose no threat whatsoever to the security of the United States. In support of this assertion I offer the unilateral military interventions decreed by Democratic President Barack Obama in the affairs of Libya and Uganda. There are also Americans (perhaps more on the political Right) who believe (rightly, in my view) that a war economy produces more jobs (and profits!) than does a peacetime economy. Then there are those on the political far-Right who genuinely believe in what has been labeled "American exceptionalism," that the United States somehow has a "duty," possibly divinely-ordained, to act as the world's policeman.

Second, the drastic downsizing of the defense budget would inevitably lead to the loss of tens of thousands, if not millions, of American jobs, as pointed out above. Huge defense contractors such as Boeing, Lockheed, and a plethora of others would find themselves with no further rationale (in a business sense) for employing those American workers who make the Pentagon's "toys." If the U.S. economy were healthy, if unemployment in the United States was low, such cuts in themselves would undoubtedly raise the unemployment level substantially, and might indeed cause the whole economy to slow to a crawl.  And today, of course, the U.S. economy is already circling the proverbial bowl, and unemployment is already at unacceptably high levels. Again, no politician in his or her right mind is going to support this, since their political enemies would inevitably (and gleefully) point the finger at those responsible and accuse them of throwing millions of Americans out of work, to say the very least.

Third, like it or not, the United States has now become a global empire, at least on a de facto basis, and any historian worth his or her salt knows very well that, in historical terms, once an empire comes into being, it has no alternative but to continue to expand, that the instant an empire ceases to expand, it begins to die, and that what may take its place when it finally does die is unpredictable and often wholly unforeseeable.

None of the above is to say that I am not personally in favor of dismantling the American Empire and of drastically downsizing our defense establishment, but it is, I think, necessary to at least look at some of the real issues involved, and to understand that the whole issue isn't nearly as simple as it may appear on the surface.

There are my two (or three) cents for today. There are a great many other issues I would like to see addressed in a best-case scenario, but I'll leave those for another post.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

So, This Is Going On Too

From where I'm sitting (a straight wooden chair in front of my computer) it looks as if some members of the "professional Left" are making some inroads into the Occupy movement, and I hate seeing that. I don't hate it because I'm hoping the professional Right will win out (shudder), but because, armchair supporter of the movement that I am, the fastest way I can think of to kill the movement off, or at the very least to reduce it to irrelevancy, is for it to allow itself to be co-opted by either of the major American political parties. The Republicans, of course, won't make any serious attempt to co-opt the movement. Or at least I'll be truly dumbfounded if they do, and I don't believe they'd stand much of a chance of success if they did try. But the Democrats may be another story entirely.

I won't go into details except to state that I've seen at least one "occupation" including in their tweets the Twitter name of a known shill for President Obama, a man who's currently building what he's trying to bill as a "grass-roots movement" which will (surprise!) ultimately support the President's re-election in 2012. I've also seen other members of the professional Left showing up at occupy movements (including the original in NYC) and, to a degree, being lionized for their supposed "support."

All of which isn't to say I have anything against people of the Left in general, any more than I have anything against people of the Right in general. It's just that I don't have any trust whatsoever in people who've been active and highly visible in U.S. politics during the past several decades. I may be wrong, and I hope I am, but I can't help feeling that said high-visibility people have some kind of agenda of their own whether they're willing to come right out and say so or not; and for me, their inclusion or participation in any of the Occupy movements raises all sorts of red flags because I do believe that if the Occupy movement, taken as a whole, has any real meaning or relevancy, that meaning is that it's composed of ordinary Americans who are convinced that politics in this country is massively corrupt, and who are determined to do something about the corruption, not to make common cause with any of the corrupted or invite them in for a nice cup of tea.

But we'll see, I suppose. I'm enough of an amateur historian to realize that most great movements have made missteps here and there, and there's no reason to think that the present one will be any different in that regard. Although I've been dismayed to have seen some of the things I've seen in the past few days, that doesn't mean I'm ready to write the whole thing off. Yet. I do still believe that the Occupy movement is the best (and probably last) chance the people of this country have of righting the ship of state. I only hope that those who are able to be actively involved will keep their eyes on the ball, that they will remember what it was that brought them out into the streets in the first place.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Is This #OWS Phase Two?

I happened to see this link "Here Are Occupy Wall Street's Plans For A National Convention That Could Change The Face Of America" tweeted the other day. Since I've been following the Occupy Wall Street movement, and as many of its derivatives as I can find around the country and around the world, almost from the beginning, I was intrigued, because I'd never seen anything like this mentioned before.

So I clicked the link, read the story, and found the original (on which Business Insider's story was based) here: The Steps to Non-Violent Revolution and the Convening of a National General Assembly. As you can see, the Business Insider reporter had simply copied the entirety of this document into her report, which since a link to the original was provided and the document is posted publicly, I assume was fine with all concerned.

That still left the question in my mind, however, whether the above document really expresses the views of the Occupy Wall Street movement in NYC specifically, let alone the views of the various offshoot Occupy movements around the country. All I could find on that score, on the same site as the above document, was this: Who are we?.

So, okay, it appears that some lawyers and maybe at least some of the original protesters collaborated on the document. It appears, let me reiterate, because I don't think the "Who are we?" statement is quite conclusive.

Bottom line: I'm still wondering. The last I've seen out of of the original NYC Occupy Wall Street movement, apart from asking people to close their accounts at some (or all, I'm not too clear on that point) of the country's biggest banks by November 5th of this year was a declaration that their intention was for their occupation to continue more or less indefinitely, and that they expected (or hoped) that other occupiers throughout the country would do likewise. If the document referred to above has ever been discussed at the NYC General Assembly, let alone at the GAs of any of the other Occupy movements around the country, let alone agreed to, I haven't heard about it. Not that there's any particular reason I should have, I hasten to add, since I'm only an observer and not an active participant. Still, I can't help wondering if there is some plan, at some point in the not-too-distant future, for the document to be dusted off, possibly modified to some degree, and presented to the NYC GA and/or other GAs around the country for consideration, and if so, when we might expect that to happen.

As for the actual content of the document: I'm not a lawyer, or even an educated man, so I'll leave the legal feasibility of the proposals made therein alone. On the surface of it, I like some (perhaps all) of the proposals made in the document, but does anyone really think that President Barack Obama (if he manages to pull off a win in 2012), let alone any possible Republican president who might succeed him if he doesn't, will give so much as a rat's rear-end about any "Petition of Grievances?"

When one looks back at the Obama campaign in 2008 and the promises made (or implied) at that time, and adds in the reasons many, many swing-voters, not to mention Democratic progressives voted for Mr. Obama, the way the President has handled most of his first term up until now is almost as if, immediately after taking the oath of office, Mr. Obama looked into a television camera at the American people and said, "Fuck you." Why on earth, if he does manage to be re-elected, would he do any differently in a second term? Particularly since, at that point, he'd have no further need to please anyone or even to pretend to care what the American people think? And the idea of any possible Republican president feeling any differently about it is . . . to state the point moderately, downright laughable.

So then, if I'm reading the document correctly, over a year from now, assuming that the plan outlined in the document is fully agreed-to and fully implemented, we'd be looking at forming another third political party for the 2014 elections, and how often in American history have third parties ever accomplished anything? Admittedly, third parties have, on occasion, managed to split the vote of one of the two major existing parties, but that's about as far as any of them have ever gotten to the best of my knowledge. There's also a serious question in my mind at least as to whether, given the current political climate and the economic mess we're still in (which may get much, much worse at any time in the future, and is hardly likely to improve), the country's still even going to be a viable concern by 2014.

I hope I'm just being pessimistic. I get that way sometimes. And if this really is the plan, I hope that the various GAs across the country (and new ones which may come into being along the way) are able to do all the debating and so on they'd need to do to make this fly. But clearly the existing system is already reacting (in many cases forcefully and even brutally) against the protests in general, and I can't see that getting any better in the foreseeable future. No powerful, entrenched socioeconomic/political system ever changes willingly, and ours in the United States is hardly likely to do so either.

If this all does come about, if a national petition for the redress of grievances can be formulated and adopted on a nationwide basis, I'll be a huge cheerleader for it and those who drew it up. And when that gets slapped down by whomever's in the White House and by the vast majority of whomever's been elected to Congress by then, I'll support a third party, if one arises based on the issues people are protesting about today, too. But I'd be lying if I said I think either a petition or a third party are likely to be effective, to be able to bring about the basic, fundamental changes in our system of governance that I believe most protesters are hoping for.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

When Will Americans Wake Up?

As I type this tonight, the NYPD is preparing to clear Occupy Wall Street protesters from Washington Park. The Denver police department has a swat team out to deal with Occupy Denver protesters, and the Chicago Police Department is now preparing massive arrests in Chicago. Earlier today, Occupy Raleigh protesters were arrested, again, for exercising their First Amendment rights in that city. Protesters have also been arrested or harassed by police in Cincinnati, Seattle, San Diego, Evansville, Dallas, and Des Moines, just to name a few. And yet I still see people expressing the hope that President Obama, presumably because he is a Democrat, and again presuming that being a Democrat indicates that an official is likely to be conscientious about upholding First Amendment and other constitutional rights which are enshrined in the Constitution of the United States.

Clearly, a very large number of American still don't get it. Prominent Republicans, early on into the protests, began referring to members of the Occupy movements as "mobs in the streets." Their bought-and-paid-for media outlets, both broadcast and online, have from the beginning tried to portray current protesters as Communists, Socialists, hippies, druggies, public defecators, fornicators, and every other pejorative epithet they could think of because it was obvious to them from the beginning that the ongoing protests could under no circumstances be turned to their advantage in political terms.

Which brings us to the various crackdowns, which amount to the illegal, unconstitutional denial of the First Amendment rights of Americans taking place this evening, and the hopes, expressed by some, that President Obama will see what is going on and somehow intervene.

Here's a tip, campers: President Barack H. Obama, and his Democratic cohorts in Congress, in the various governors' offices, and in the various state legislatures, don't give any more of a damn about the Constitution or your First Amendment rights than the Republicans do. They've only held off until now because they hoped, their polling numbers currently being in the toilet and slowly circling the bowl, that they could somehow co-opt the protests going on nationwide to improve the President's chances of re-election in 2012 and his Democratic cronies in Congress with him. In hundreds of cities and towns across the United States today, protests were taking place, and where did President Obama spend the day? Monitoring the situation, one might think? Trying to think of a way to address the protesters' concerns? No, President Obama spent some five hours on a fucking golf course! Presumably he was tapped out from the arduous duty of hosting five-course (or whatever they are) state dinners for the visiting President of South Korea, and arranging photo-ops so that the two of them could show themselves in "solidarity" against something.

The ugly, basic fact is that the United States of America has been transformed, right under our noses, into a police state. Either political party may tolerate dissent, but only so long as they believe it may be turned to their own advantage, much as the Hitler regime tolerated (and actually encouraged) the infamous "Kristallnacht" in Germany on Nov. 9-10, 1938, and precisely as the Republican Party and their corporate masters tolerated (and encouraged) the early Tea Party demonstrations in the United States two years ago.

The truth is that today, Americans have no rights other than those which the government du jour (on the federal, state, or municipal level) chooses to indulge. That is a very far cry from the Constitutional reality, in which the American people were sovereign, and their rights came ahead of those of any government on any level.

Americans can debate back and forth that the Tea Party was permitted to do this and that, while Occupy protesters are denied far less (carrying assault weapons to demonstrations, for example), but the point is that once the free people of a free nation leave it up to the government (or administration) of the day to decide who is permitted to do what and for what reasons, it is only a matter of time before all are enslaved. To paraphrase a famous old German tale from the period immediately after World War Two, "First, they came for the Communists, but I wasn't a Communist, so I didn't care. Next, they came for the Jews, but I wasn't a Jew, so I didn't care. Last, they came for me, and there was no one left to care."

What remains to be seen is what (if anything) the American people will decide to do about it, and another enormous question is what the United States military will choose to do about it. All too many Americans, I fear, will take the path of least resistance. So long as they are not being prevented from doing anything they wish to do, it will be much easier, simpler, and safer not to stick their necks out, and indeed many will probably cheer until it is their turn. The military, however, may be another matter.

I am not speaking here of the brass-hats in the Pentagon who are as much political as military in nature, who dispose of trillions of taxpayer dollars paid into the hands of greedy defense contractors, from whom they may then expect a rich reward upon their retirement from military service. I am speaking about the men and women who wear the uniform with pride and honor, who are among the best this country has to offer, who have spent their sweat, their blood, and all too often their lives, defending "freedom" and the "American way of life." All Americans (but for the richest one percent) have suffered during this past decade, and especially in the last three years, but none have suffered or been so abused as they.

Beginning with the infamous "stop-loss" program under the Bush administration, by which the government simply declared "King's X" on conditions under which every single person who had enlisted in the military had signed on the dotted line, now the Washington regime is talking not only about further reducing medical and financial benefits paid to veterans, but also about reducing the pensions and medical care afforded to those brave men and women currently on active service. In some cases, returning heroes are not even being paid the monies due them for their active service, and in hundreds (if not thousands) of cases returning heroes have found that their homes have been foreclosed upon and their families cast into the streets by the criminal banks which support the Washington regime, and to which it is beholden, while they themselves were fighting and dying overseas.

What will happen? Only God knows. Will Americans not immediately concerned with the current protests content themselves with a six-pack and their favorite "reality" television show so long as DHS, the FBI, or the local police are not knocking on their door? Will the rank-and-file in the United States military continue to endure being sent to fight and potentially die to prop up corrupt and ultimately unsustainable regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan while knowing full well that their own government, to which they have sworn allegiance, may very well stab them in the back at home?

We Americans are now "beyond the looking glass." We as a people and as a nation are standing upon ground which Americans have never trod before. All we can do is hope and pray that, if there is a god, Almighty God will look down upon us, forgive us any sins we may have committed, and give us a second chance.

Friday, October 14, 2011

25th Amendment, Section 4 - Updated

Below, in its entirety, is the email which I just sent to Vice President Joe Biden:

Mr. Vice President:

Although I supported the election of President Obama in 2008, and although I was sympathetic to the cause of the Libyan rebels, I believed (and still believe) that the President's decision to commit US military personnel, assets, and US tax dollars in support of the rebels without the prior authorization of Congress, given that Libya has never and did not then represent even a remote danger to the security of the United States, was a blatantly unconstitutional act for which the President should have been held accountable via the legal constitutional processes.

Today we are reading that President Obama has now, on his own authority, decided to commit some 100 US combat personnel to Uganda in order to assist in combat against something called "The Lord's Resistance Army." In this case, it seems, the President did at least take the step of notifying Speaker Boehner of his decision, although in the copy of that letter which I have read online, the President is clearly not requesting congressional authorization, merely once again asserting his supposed (and I believe unconstitutional) authority to commit US troops, assets, and dollars in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief and Chief Executive as, when, and how he sees fit to do so.

Mr. Vice President, it surely cannot have escaped you, members of the Cabinet, or other leading government officials that the United States currently is, and has been for some considerable time, in a state of unprecedented crisis here at home. Millions of ordinary Americans from across the political spectrum are angry, even outraged, and I believe rightly so, over the poor performance of our economy in general, the lack of jobs in particular, the ongoing lack of any responsibility being placed on the shoulders of those persons and institutions which caused the present financial crisis, and our two major, seemingly interminable wars in the Middle East which a majority of Americans clearly no longer support.

I do not believe that even his detractors would claim that President Obama is not a highly intelligent, well-educated man, which is why this latest step (the commitment of American forces to a conflict in Uganda, which few Americans have even heard about, and which clearly represents no threat whatsoever to the security of the United States), given the other circumstances mentioned above, causes me to have serious doubts about the President's mental/emotional stability and capacity to continue to govern.

Although I believe that important constitutional issues are involved, we are now at the point at which I, and I suspect a great many other Americans, are less concerned with them than with the President's fitness, from a medical standpoint, to remain in office.

Therefore, Mr. Vice President, I earnestly hope that you and members of the Cabinet will give serious consideration to the possibility that the President may indeed be ill, that his illness (if he is so diagnosed) may well be preventing him from competently discharging the duties of his office, and that you will consider invoking the Twenty-fifth Amendment, Section 4, of the Constitution of the United States to remove, even if only temporarily, the President from office at least until the matter can be sorted out by competent medical personnel and both Houses of Congress, assuming that the President would not agree that he is no longer able to function competently.

I believe that at this point the course I have suggested, Mr. Vice President, would be best for the Democratic Party, for the United States, and for the American people.


Robert Schiele

And the response was:

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your message. On behalf of Vice President Biden, we appreciate hearing from you. The President has promised the most transparent administration in history, and we are committed to listening to and responding to you. In order to better handle the millions of electronic messages we are receiving and respond more quickly, we have implemented a new contact form on our website: Please note that this web form has replaced

That email address is no longer monitored, so we encourage you to resubmit your message through the link above. Thank you for using the web form and helping us improve communications with you. 


The Office of The Vice President

Or, as Rosanne Rosannadanna used to say on Saturday Night Live: "It just goes to show you that it's always something."

If US Authorities Have Any Sense They Will Listen to #OWS, Not Try To Repress

Yesterday NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Brookfield Office Properties, which constructed and owns Zuccotti Park (aka "Liberty Park") in which Occupy Wall Street protesters have now been bivouacking for several weeks, wished to "clean up" the park, that Brookfield had requested the help of the NYPD to clear the protesters from the park, and that under his direction the police would do as requested.

The protesters, predictably, voted to refuse to vacate the park, and it seemed that an early-morning showdown today was imminent; however, at almost the last moment the Mayor announced that Brookfield had instead decided to "try to work with" the protesters in order to see that their concerns regarding the "sanitation" and other issues concerning the park were addressed in some mutually agreeable way. Mr. Bloomberg's own publication, Bloomberg, carried this story this morning: "Zuccotti Owner Got Calls From Elected Officials, NYC Mayor Says," which perhaps adds another wrinkle to what nearly happened in NYC this morning, and it is a story I think worth a closer look.

As I type this, Occupy San Diego protesters are being arrested in that city. A few days ago, the Boston Police Department moved against a group of protesters who were a part of Occupy Boston. The Occupy Cincinnati protesters have been subjected to almost nightly police harassment in the form of citations almost since they began their protest. Occupy Seattle protesters have also been arrested. Also today, the Occupy Denver protesters' encampment was destroyed by police, their equipment and possessions confiscated, and many of them were arrested as well. Protesters belonging to the Occupy Dallas and Occupy Houston protests have also been subjected to arrest and/or police harassment, and these are only a few examples of attempts by US authorities to deprive American citizens of their First Amendment rights.

The idea has long been almost folkloric in the United States that the US government in Washington pays little if any attention to anything which happens "outside the Beltway," as the saying goes, meaning that, whether Democratic or Republican, most American administrations seem more or less oblivious to what is taking place in the country at large, instead concentrating on the political infighting and deal-making which occur in Washington to the exclusion of everything else.

Now, I do not know, nor have I seen any hints even, that any federal officials might have made any of the telephone calls to Brookfield Office Properties to which Mayor Bloomberg alluded in the above linked article, but if they didn't they ought to have done. And it would behoove them also, to the extent permissible given that the various US states are "sovereign" entities in their own right, to contact state and local authorities across the country and advise them that, wherever their personal or partisan sympathies may lie regarding these protests, the worst thing they can possibly do is to employ repression in any form.

Americans have always been a notoriously unruly people. That is not to say that Americans are not, in the vast majority of cases, decent, law-abiding citizens. In fact, they are, and nearly always have been. But Americans have never reacted well when they feel as if they are being pushed around, and in particular when they feel as if any of their most basic constitutional rights are being threatened. And for most Americans there are no more basic, fundamental constitutional rights than those enshrined in the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Clearly, these rights do not apply only to persons who happen to agree with the current administration in Washington, nor do they apply only to those who voted for or support those elected officials who happen to be in power in any of the various state capitals or municipalities.

It should also have been clear to elected officials at all levels of government, for several years now, that the people of the United States in general are mightily displeased, although many may not be displeased about exactly the same issues. Enormous displeasure, for example, was clear for all to see at the very beginning of the Iraq War. Later, after the financial crisis of 2008 began to come into focus, and in particular after the Bush Administration began the bailout of the big financial houses and banks, the Tea Party was born due, among other things, to the fury of conservatives who found themselves left in the lurch, financially speaking, while the federal government spent trillions of dollars (including the trillions it was only learned recently that the Fed also gave to the banks, surreptitiously) propping up many of the institutions which had caused the financial meltdown in the first place. And now we have the Occupy Wall Street protests, which consist of many progressives and people even further to the Left, but also a fair sprinkling of conservatives too. They are outraged by the bank bailouts and by the continuation of America's seemingly endless overseas military adventurism or empire-building, among other issues, and these protests have now spread from coast to coast, taking place in literally hundreds of cities and towns of all sizes, descriptions, and types.

All of the above goes to show for anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear that the entire country, or a very substantial portion of it, is absolutely seething with anger. Americans from one end of the political spectrum to the other are feeling much aggrieved, disempowered, disenfranchised, and in general ignored and ill-served by their elected officials. This is true to a degree which I have never before witnessed in my lifetime, and although the various types of protests which have occurred up until now have been, on the whole, non-violent in nature, there can be no guarantee that they will always remain so. Any people, even Americans, if they feel they have been pushed too far, are capable of lashing out, and the consequences of that, should it occur on a nationwide basis, could well be too terrible to contemplate.

That is why I sincerely hope that our elected officials, from city councils, mayors, governors, congressmen, senators, and the President himself will take note of what is really taking place here and act accordingly. Repression, when it is employed, will only go so far, and in almost every case when it is employed serves only to aggravate an already inflamed and irate populace even further. It is, put simply, exactly the wrong tactic to employ.

So is "politics as usual," which seems to be the prevailing attitude in Washington. Conservatives are thundering against the latest protests, referring to them as "mobs in the streets" (probably because these latest protesters are not all conservatives whom they can hope to co-opt for their own purposes), and progressives are attempting to co-opt them for their own party in the upcoming 2012 elections; but these protests are not about the upcoming elections, no matter how devoutly Democrats might wish that such were the case. They are about the issue of governance in this country as a whole, not about specific candidates and/or issues. For an excellent article on this topic see: "Occupy Wall Street’s ‘Political Disobedience’."

There is still, I believe, time to save the situation before events spiral completely out of control. Each repressive act committed only pours gasoline on an already raging fire, so all such acts should be halted so long as protesters remain peaceful, non-violent, and obey the law. And it will also be necessary for officials at all levels of government to realize, once and for all, that whatever the ultimate outcome of the current unrest in the United States may be, business as usual is simply no longer an option. What is occurring is not just a "sound bite" or the subject of a few "news cycles." If it is to be dealt with constructively instead of destructively, if ultimate catastrophe is to be prevented, officials must do what they can to engage the American people in a serious, sustained dialogue. Either way, the eternal game of "musical chairs" in Washington, in the Congress and the presidency, in the state governors' offices, in the state legislatures, in the mayors' offices and the city and town councils, cannot and will not be allowed to go on indefinitely.

Americans are no longer willing to sit on the sidelines and be treated by elected officials or financial "geniuses" as if they were ignorant, unruly children. Like it or not (and I suspect most professional politicians and most corporate CEOs won't like it much), the American people have dealt themselves back into the game. Those who choose to ignore that simple fact, whether in government or in the private sector, do so at their peril.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is #OWS George Soros' Version of the Tea Party?

"Huh?" you may be saying as you scratch your head on reading the title of this post. Or even, "WTF? I thought you supported the Occupy protests!"

I have, I did, and I do. But one of the things the Occupy protests seem to have in common coast-to-coast is the belief that their processes should be transparent--that their decision-making, via their General Assemblies, should be transparent. That's why the livestream videos so often show the various GAs in action.

There exists, however, the much-discussed (and universally execrated by the Left) ties of the Tea Party with the billionaire Koch brothers. It isn't the fact of the Koch brothers' wealth which is at issue in the minds of most people who deplore said ties; it's their having used their immense wealth in an attempt to directly influence American politics. Have you seen Occupy protesters carrying signs which read, "I am not a Koch-sucker!"? I have, several times, and in several locations, not just in NYC.

So for me, although I am not a Soros-basher, the idea that he, a billionaire in his own right, might have somehow been behind the whole Occupy movement, given that one of the things the protesters are protesting most loudly about is the undue influence Big Money has on American politics, would be . . . well, problematical, if not an actual show-stopper from my point of view.

What got me started on this was a blog post I read yesterday, which, oddly enough, had been tweeted by @Occupy_DC, with the comment that the tweeter agreed with some of the comments made in the post, but not all. You can read it here for yourself: The Occupation of Washington, DC. In it, Mr. MacDonald sounds to me to be more-or-less sympathetic to the Occupy movement, although that in itself doesn't prove anything one way or the other. Still, it gave me pause, enough that I decided to do a little online investigating of my own.

Of course, the allegation that the Occupy movement is a George Soros operation has been flung down by dyed-in-the-wool right-wing bloggers and media outlets online and offline, almost from the first. I won't include those examples here, because they're easy for anyone to find. Or just turn on Fox News at any given time, and you probably won't have to wait more than ten minutes tops before someone makes that allegation. With that in mind, here's another post I found: Occupy Wall Street: The Class War & The Nationalist Solution. The individual writing this doesn't seem to me to be quite as "non-partisan" as he purports to be, but I'll let that go. At any rate, if you read the post carefully, it seems the author is saying that one of Soros' foundations might have contributed minutely to the Canadian magazine AdBusters, which nobody has ever denied brainstormed the "Occupy Wall Street" idea in the first place, to the tune of $334,217.00. True, to a guy like me that's a lot of money, but in the great scheme of things it's barely a drop in the bucket, and the author doesn't even claim that any of that money was spent by the magazine on the Occupy movement per se. It's also true that this author makes the claim that a George Soros foundation did donate $4.2 million, indirectly, to the "U.S. Day of Rage" operation, whatever that is exactly (I'm still not too clear on that), but it's also true that the original "occupiers" in NYC have always, at times, acted in concert with other groups without espousing those groups' entire agendas--the big unions being a classic example of this.

Then this morning I saw a Reuters story which you can read here: Who's behind the Wall Steet protests? In general, I respect Reuters' reporting, and this case is no exception. I've found in the past that they usually do have their facts pretty straight before they start making accusations, but I think that this except, ". . . the group that started it all may have benefited indirectly from the largesse of one of the world's richest men," says it all.

Whatever may be the case with the "US Day of Rage" protest or any other protests or movements taking place which are not of the right-wing specifically, it still appears to me that if George Soros had anything whatsoever to do with the original Occupy Wall Street in terms of financial backing, it could only have been indirect and very minimal, if even that. It seems even clearer and more incontrovertible that neither Mr. Soros or his money have had anything at all to do with the various "Occupy" protests now ongoing, or being planned, across the country.

So why bring it up at all? If you've followed me on Twitter or read this blog for any length of time, you'll know that, while I am not myself a protester, while I am in no sense an "insider" where the movement's concerned (and that even extends to the protest taking place closest to me geographically, in Indianapolis), I do support what these people say they are trying to accomplish. And although I'm only a very ordinary, uneducated man, my good name, such as it is, is important to me. I support these people because, even though I don't always agree with everything they say or suggest, I believe the vast majority of them to be people of integrity, searching for honest answers.

If I thought for a moment that I'd been somehow "bought," even in a good cause, I'd say so in a hot minute, and so, I believe, would most of the people involved with these protests.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Who Created Need For #OWS? We the People Did

A few minutes ago I saw a tweet go past which asked the question, "How do we stop opportunist politicians who are trying to ram stuff through we won't like while we are busy?" The truth of the matter is that the question provides its own answer in the phrase "while we are busy." The point is that We the People must never be too busy to pay attention to what is going on in our federal, state, and local governments.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin was asked, at the time our country was born, what type of government we should have. Dr. Franklin famously replied, "A republic--if you can keep it." His words were prophetic indeed, and the demonstrable fact that We the People have been asleep at the switch for far, far too long is precisely why, today, the Occupy Wall Street movement now spreading across the country like wildfire may be the final hope for the survival of representative democracy in this country. 

Yes, there have been populist movements before, during both the 19th and 20th centuries, many based on rage against the perceived social, economic, and/or political injustices which existed at the time. But in each case what has happened is that once the point of crisis has passed, most of us have, sheeplike, gone back to tending to our daily business, leaving politics up to others since most of us don't see ourselves as being cut out to be activists by nature.

Of course, today's focus is the colossal (and perhaps ultimately fatal) influence which the big banks, the biggest corporations, and "Big Money" in general have managed to exert over our elected officials, particularly in Washington, D.C. But that influence didn't come into being overnight. Most of us participating in, or in support of, the Occupy Wall Street movement today, particularly those of us of middle age or older, are to blame for having let things get out of hand in the first place. Far too many of us, so long as we personally were comfortably off, were perfectly content to satisfy ourselves with our daily dose of mindless, numbing so-called "entertainment" provided by television. We were far too content to be satisfied with whatever explanation the mass-media outlet of our choice chose to tell us about what was going on in our country and in the world in general.

As I suspect many, if not most, "occupiers" around the country are now finding out (or have already in more than a few cases), standing up for our rights is often inconvenient at best, and sometimes downright dangerous to our own personal well-being. Therefore the temptation has always existed to let those of the Left or Right who always seem in search of a cause to support to do our protesting for us, and in many cases even to do our thinking for us. That is why I say that the reason the Occupy Wall Street movement today is needed, probably even vital for the survival of democracy in this country, is largely our own fault.

Sure, we can point fingers at the "banksters" and the usual assortment of crooked, venal politicians on both Left and Right, but where were We the People when they were busily engaged in getting us and our country into this mess? Benjamin Franklin was reputedly one of the wisest men of his time, and his response to the question as quoted above was not a throwaway reply. In any type of democratic system, there have always been, and always will be, those who seek to extend their own influence and self-interests above what is just, what is fair, and in some cases what is even tolerable. It is not up to our elected officials in Washington, D.C., nor in any of our state legislatures, nor in our county or city governments to see to it that our rights and liberties are preserved. It is up to us, to We the People, to do so.

If this movement is successful, if our American democracy can yet be saved, I hope the lessons we have all learned at such a terrible cost will never be forgotten. President Andrew Jackson, in his farewell address, famously observed: "But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government." He could not have been more right.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Republicans See #OWS As Threat, Democrats As Opportunity

Several established Republican politicians and office-holders have made some rather wild statements about the Occupy Wall Street protesters amounting to "mobs in the streets," and they couldn't be more wrong. In the sense, however, that they see the movement as a threat, they couldn't be more right.

As for Democrats endorsing the movement and seeing it as an opportunity to restore their sagging political fortunes, they're about as wrong as they can be, although I've had several zealous progressives who are determined to re-elect President Obama in 2012 at all costs assure me I'm wrong.

I don't think so. One of the main reasons the movement's grown by leaps and bounds in just two-and-a-half short weeks, so that there are some 840 cities in towns across the country where "occupations" are either taking place or planned, is that the movement isn't for the Right or for the Left. It's for ending the plutocratic corporatocracy which we Americans have allowed to literally buy our government right out from under our feet, and both of the major political parties are equally guilty.

Progressive pundits and drum-beaters may cast all the scorn on that idea they want to, but there's no way on Earth that people would be marching in towns like McAllen, Texas, Wichita, Kansas, Rockford, Illinois, Indianapolis, Indiana, and hundreds of other cities and towns of "Middle America" if the people involved had any idea they were being brought out into the streets, in many cases facing arrest while trying to exercise their constitutional First Amendment rights, if they believed for a "New York minute" that this has anything to do with electing Democrats to Congress or re-electing President Obama in 2012. There's just no way.

Sure, it's possible they've been suckered. It's possible I've been suckered, although I've been following this thing closely almost from the day it began, but I don't think so. If it turns out that it is all a ploy by progressives to stir up the Left, I and tens of thousands of other Americans will not only be monumentally pissed: we'll drop it in a heartbeat.

A favorite argument why the movement should be for Obama and the Democrats is, "Look at the alternatives! Do you really think anyone the Republicans will nominate wouldn't completely ruin this country?"

There's some truth in that, I suppose, but unless this movement's able to embrace enough Americans to force some fundamental changes in our whole system of governance, the country's screwed anyway. Plus, Obama and the Democrats had their chance in 2008, and he and they blew it big-time.

Obama campaigned on change and on hope, and he's delivered neither. It's as if the minute the President finished taking the Oath of Office, he walked back up the Capitol steps, turned to the vast crowd still present, and said, "Fuck you." He brought the very people who brought down the economy in 2008 into his administration instead of seeing to it that they ended up in prison where they belong. He not only didn't end our two useless, horrendously expensive wars: he doubled down instead and even had the balls to throw military assistance for the Libyan uprising into the mix without the consent of Congress, something even George W. Bush wouldn't have had the stones to do.

When it was brought to the President's attention that polls showed that the American people were against any US military support for the NATO circus in Libya, Obama's comment was to the effect that, "Well, the American people are just going to have to get used to the idea . . ." and yada, yada, yada.

Just who the hell does he think he is? Who does he thinks pays to run the White House? Who does he think owns it? Who does he think pays his $400,000 yearly salary? Who pays for the cars and jets he rides around in? The man's arrogance is absolutely stunning. The President's not only kept our two decade-long wars going, he's also kept up our ridiculous (and patently unsustainable) so-called "defense" expenditures, which top those of the ten next most powerful countries on the globe all rolled into one. Perhaps most damning of all, not only did the President renew the noxious (and probably unconstitutional) "Patriot Act" and the other assorted villainous assaults on civil liberties which accompanied it, he's also arrogated to himself the right to have American citizens flat-out killed anytime he wants to, without trial and without even being charged.

Richard Nixon would have loved this guy. And now that his polling numbers are in the sewer, Obama's come up with this brilliant "American Jobs Act." Yeah, right. Suddenly he's decided he needs to be a populist, to "hear the voice of the American people." If you believe that, I own a nice, big, old bridge that runs from Manhattan to Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

Sure, the Republican Party sold out to the big banks and big corporations decades ago. Saint Ronald Reagan was able to sucker the American electorate with his "trickle-down" economics, which really turned out to mean that the richest one percent got even richer while the rest of us in the ninety-nine percent got pissed on, but the Democrats are just as beholden to Big Money and Big Business as the Republicans are. They're just a little cagier about it, a little better at putting their makeup on so they don't look quite as much like whores as the Republicans do.

Zealous Democrats are using the #ows, #usdor, and #connecttheleft hashtags in particular (that last one's a dead giveaway) to tweet obviously partisan messages while attempting to connect said messages to the Occupy Wall Street movement as a whole in the public mind. This is insidious. At least the Republicans, for the most part, are more upfront about it. They just hate the whole movement and everything it stands for, and they're not at all shy about saying so.

So go ahead, Republicans. Wherever you're in power, try to stamp this thing out and just watch what happens. If you think what's happening now is "mobs in the streets," trust me: you ain't seen nothin' yet.

And Democrats? Good luck in 2012. Seriously. But if you're counting on the Occupy Wall Street movement to save your sorry asses . . . well, if I were you, I think I'd be looking for work in the private sector right about now. I hear good jobs are hard to find these days.

Monday, October 10, 2011

#OWS The Repression Begins - Updated

It was bound to happen sooner or later, and no, I'm not referring to the infamous pepper-spray, beating, and mass-arrest events staged by the NYPD against the original Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York.

Since then sympathetic "occupations" have sprung up in hundreds of US cities and towns from coast to coast, from places like Boston to Los Angeles, Chicago to Dallas, and a multitude of smaller cities and towns such as McAllen, Texas, Des Moines, Iowa, Wichita, Kansas, and so on. You get the idea. There are people all over the country in red states and blue states who've heard the message that our democracy has been sold out to Big Money and Big Business, who are mad as hell, and who are determined to do something about it, even if it's only staging a protest in their own hometown. Some of the "occupiers," often in the unlikeliest of places, are even bandying the word "revolution" about. Not that there's anything wrong with that word, I hasten to add. After all, it was a revolution that got this country started in the first place.

But as I've stated before in this blog, entrenched, powerful socioeconomic/political systems do not willingly submit to change either from within or without. They just don't, and the reasons are obvious: the "rice bowls" of too many people who've been battening at the public trough for far, far too long are at stake, and none of the people involved are about to be subjected to the indignity (not to mention the uncertainty) of trying to go out and get a real job.

That leads to an obvious problem: those who are already entrenched in the existing political system are going to react, and in some cases, perhaps even all cases before this thing is over with, they are going to react with every bit of force, including law-enforcement power, at their disposal. Think Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, who called out the Egyptian Army on his own people when their demands began to seriously worry him, and who was finally only driven from power when the army itself decided they'd had enough of him. The same thing was true when the precursor of the Russian Revolution broke out in St. Petersburg in 1905. There protesters staged a peaceful march on the Winter Palace of Czar Nicholas II (who happened not even to be at home at the time) and the czarist regime called out the Cossacks, who shot down around 300 of the protesters in the streets. That revolution was aborted by brute force, but the next time around, the czar's troops refused to fire, and the whole regime crumbled in a matter of hours.

Already today I'm seeing reports that protesters belonging to the "Occupy Chicago" group were rounded up by plain-clothes police, although the "plain-clothes" part may or may not be accurate. What seems incontrovertible is that they were arrested for, whatever "legal" reasons may be forthcoming, simply exercising their First Amendment rights. Also last night, apparently some twenty-four protesters were arrested in Des Moines, Iowa, and there's a video of that event below:

Today, via Twitter, I'm seeing protesters in Boston saying that the Mayor there has decided he's had enough of the "Occupy Boston" protests, although as I write this I haven't yet seen any reports of actual arrests, but protesters have also been arrested, to my own knowledge, in Seattle and San Francisco, the protesters of "Occupy Cincinnati" are being ordered to disperse under threat of arrest as I type this, and there are at least a few other places where arrests have occurred which I can't remember at the moment.

The point is that the system is beginning to react. It's beginning to show that it feels threatened, even though all of the protests have been non-violent, which leads to two questions:

1. Just how repressive will the federal with various state and local governments decide to be?

2. As all of this unfolds, how are the American people as a whole going to react to it?

I'll be watching, and if you are reading this I hope you'll be watching too.


Continuing some twelve hours later, it seems for now that the occupiers in Cincinnati were able to resolve their differences with the police, at least temporarily. OccupyChicago seems to be up and running again, and has reported a march through town today in which more than 10,000 people participated.

On a bleaker note, evidently the Mayor of Boston and the Boston Police Department have decided that the protesters at OccupyBoston have to go. There is currently a midnight deadline in force there. The protesters are refusing to back down, and so far, so are the authorities, so we'll see who blinks first. There is also news from Atlanta that the Atlanta Police Department is threatening (or possibly preparing) to evict the protesters in OccupyAtlanta. As is the case in Boston, the Atlanta protesters are calling for all hands on deck, and we'll see what happens there too.

As for the thirty or so protesters arrested in Des Moines, Iowa, last night, it seems that at least some of them are out of jail and stoutly declaring they will continue their occupation.

At last count, as I am typing this, there are right around 840 cities and towns in the United States alone in which protesters are already in "occupation" or planning to be so within the next few days. I well-remember the civil rights and anti-war protests of the 1960s and 1970s, and although the numbers involved in some cities and towns are still relatively small, that this movement has spread throughout the length and breadth of the land as fast as it has represents an event unique in American history. No one has ever seen anything like it before.

Finally, a personal note: although I am only 58 years old, I am physically disabled and in very poor health. Having noted that, I also want to add that seeing this many Americans willing to stand up for what they believe in has made me prouder to call myself an American than I have been for many, many years. To the protesters: Godspeed. To the authorities: the whole world is watching.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Many Perils Ahead For #OWS

Every thoughtful person who feels he/she is part of the "99%" of us ordinary people whom the Occupy Wall Street movement claims (and I believe is seriously attempting) to represent knows that the road ahead will at best be strewn with obstacles, perhaps even minefields. Already politicians and political activists who have a vested personal interest in preserving the existing sociopolitical/economic systems in the United States, or who are committed to replacing the existing systems with their own personal version of what should take their place are beginning to react.

From the political Right, so far the comments seem to have been mostly derogatory as in this statement by Republican Congressman Peter King of New York, who stated that, ""The fact is these people are anarchists. They have no idea what they're doing out there. They have no sense of purpose other than a basically anti-American tone and anti-capitalist. It's a ragtag mob basically." One supposes that even Congressman King is entitled to his opinion, and one might even applaud him for having delivered that (ridiculous!) opinion straight out.

From the political Left, however, much more insidious comments and even "endorsements" have been made. Take, for example, this article: "Why Occupy Wall Street Isn't the Tea Party" which was included in today's "#OccupyWallStreet #usrevolution am" online newspaper. The author of the article is openly contemptuous of the fact that many Americans whose political beliefs are grounded in what they perceive as right-wing principles also support the Occupy Wall Street movement, and seems to take no cognizance of a fact which any American with an ounce of sense already knows: if the movement cannot appeal to Americans from across the political spectrum it will ultimately fail. So why would the author adopt such a tone if he actually believes (as he purports) to believe in the movement itself?

There are others on the established political Left who are already trying to co-opt the entire movement into becoming simply a cheering section for the re-election of President Barack Obama in 2012, or at least suggesting to Democrats and other progressives that it could become so, as in this article: ""What Does Obama Do With Occupy Wall Street?".

I for one do not believe that the authors of either of the last two articles cited are clueless about what the Occupy Wall Street movement really represents, or about the goals it is trying to achieve. The first, for reasons which could range from simple, albeit blind socialist fervor to deliberate sabotage is clearly in favor of driving all those who are not of the Left in some way, shape, or form from the movement entirely. The second openly sees the movement as an opportunity for Democrats, and for Mr. Obama in particular, to retrieve their political fortunes, which polls show are currently in a state of disastrous decline. It is as if the author of the second article believes that if only Mr. Obama and the Democrats can wave some sort of magic wand, the members of the Occupy Wall Street movement, or at a minimum a substantial percentage of them, may well be turned into the proverbial cavalry riding to the rescue in the upcoming 2012 election.

What will be crucial to the survival of the movement will be the ability and willingness of those participating in it all across the country to recognize such ploys for what they truly represent, and to resist such ploys at all costs. The very fact that the movement has now become established in such places as Dayton, Indianapolis, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Missoula, Cincinnati, Lexington, St. Louis, Birmingham, Dalton, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Tucson, Denver, Wichita, Kansas City, Jackson, Boise, Charlotte, Asheville, Raleigh, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, just to name a very few, is striking proof that it has, to date, appealed to Middle America with some considerable degree of success. But that support could be lost as quickly as it has been gained.

If the Occupy Wall Street movement is to have any hope of bringing meaningful change to this country, it will need the support of Americans who hold the broadest range of political opinions possible. Americans today, all across the country, have become engaged, or are in the process of becoming engaged, in ongoing dialogues and discussions on a scale and of a breadth which has never before occurred in the United States.

Let us hope (and if we are religious, pray) that organizers and those who are responsible for any publications produced from within the movement manage to avoid those who would divide rather than unite, and that they will somehow manage to avoid succumbing to any of the pitfalls which have kept us divided as a nation for far too long.