Oct 31, 2011

The 2011 Occupy Movement: 60s All Grown Up

 By RF Schatten

Very amazing things are happening in Wall Street, Chicago, LA, Oakland, Detroit, Boston, and other cities around the Country...and around the Globe. I would call the Occupy Movement...The 60s all grown up. They are succeeding where they couldn't in the 60s. Don't take me wrong! the 60s movement won their battles...but not before so much divisiveness in the Country. They stopped the war, the civil rights was vindicated, when LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act...and, to an extent, the Women Rights movement won too. US Society, as well as World Society, has been shaped, by what happened in the 60s.

Today, all those issues are part of the establishment's conventional wisdom. It changed the way American Society is defined today. The Anti-Establishment, grows up...and becomes the Establishment. All this, really brings Hope, to the Progressive and Liberal Movements in America.

We all know, what the Protests are all about, and the reasons for it...what is amazing, the way it has mushroomed throughout the United States, with Occupy groups in every major city in the Country, and spreading though tiny towns in every state. General Strikes are being planned throughout the Nation, Unions are joining in, the Middle Class and the Poor have never related so much, ever before...and it's not just in America...the entire World, now has Occupy in every major City. This has become a World Movement. All with the same significant issue...the disproportion of wealth. How 1%-2% of the wealth...controls the 98%-99% of the population. We all have the same problems, no matter where you're from.

The Occupy Movement, will get those changes they want, in time....but, it will not happen immediately. Now, why are they getting the country, so much...behind them??? Two reasons...they are not resorting to violence, as in the 60s...they are using their heads...the violence is being perpetrated on them, this time!!...that is one thing that has the Citizenry behind them...you will have the sit-ins, etc...the hard core Activists handle that. Activism in protest, whether is the Red or the Blue...is part of the process. Second, in the 60s, the Middle Class...the Hard Hats, followed the Drumbeat of the Republicans...today, that Drumbeat is going down the Democrats' path.

To me, there is no doubt that the 60's movement has grown up...much more organized, which is kind of funny, since in the 60s, they where very well organized by the different groups of those days. Today, in the Occupy Movement, there is no central organization...everyone finds a way to get things done, with virtually, no leadership. It truly is people from all different kinds of lifestyles, working together, for the same goals. The best example, was in Zuccotti Park, when they literally got on their hands and knees, and scrubbed down with soap and water, the entire park...its sidewalks, walkways, benches, etc. They have acted completely responsible for every action, they've taken.
And every time, Law Enforcement gets their little dirty hands on it, every time someone goes to jail...the Movement doubles!! You would think, that they would just ignore it, and let it die down. It won't...they will continue, the Police will continue.

Activism has always been part of demonstrations and protests. Civil Disobedience, has always been the proper and peaceful means to fight for your cause...and now, it is being used once again. Is it wrong for the use of Civil Disobedience? Of course not!! It was used by Ghandhi, it was used by King, it was used by all the 60s movements, it has been used in protests around the world since. This process, has always been scorned by the Right...”blame everything on the Hippies!” was their battle cry...the dirty hippies, free love, dope!! Use the Commie or Socialist label...that always works. Today, the Right, is beginning to revert back to their only attack...”It's Socialism”...even FOX News commentators are saying that the Occupy Movement is Socialist inspired and run by socialists, trying to make America, a Socialist Country. All the Free Sex, the Drugs, public urination...every excuse to put the People there, down, as nobody...”go out and get a job!!” is the cry of the Right. Some are even saying that the movement is being run by Terrorists, and one crazy character of the Tea Party is calling the movement, a part of Muslim Jihad, and run by the “Muslim Brotherhood”. When you don't have positive responses about present circumstances, always fall back to your standard response. What the Grand Old Tea Party doesn't understand, and why so many have started following the Movement everyday, is that...the Socialism bit, and the Drug bit, and the free sex bit, is too old...40-45 years too old. The truth, things are so straight, in the up and up, that Bill Maher...went to an Occupy rally, and was not offered some Pot: “I was totally offended” he said.

Right now, the Dems, Liberals and Progressives, seem to have the upper hand on the whole situation. Who is better? I don't know, I really don't...but, the GOP really needs a leader, who will bring the Mainstream of the Party back...which has been turned off by the Tea Party. As its stands, the GOP internally has more problems now, than they ever had before...and if the Tea Party manages to get control of the GOP Platform in 2012, they will gain control of the Party...and it will mean the end, of the GOP as we know it! Why is Obama favored by almost every Pundit, Republican and Democrat alike? forget the polls...that doesn't mean anything till June or July of 2012. Obama, like him or hate him...looks Presidential and articulate, which he is...the GOP has nobody from this collective group of characters, that can go up on him, except Jon Huntsman...but, Huntsman is too liberal in their minds, and not Christian enough...as Mormons are called by the Right Wing; “Cultists”? Huntsman, is the only candidate they have, that looks Presidential, is articulate, is a bonafide Statesman
(as former Ambassador to China), has true moral character, and is a decent and honorable man...that's why he is near last, in every poll taken by the GOP...it goes with the territory!

The Occupy Movement has grown up, since the Radical 60s. Not as radical, and definitely more Prudent...and Honorable. It has grown beyond, what anybody ever expected...and it just keeps growing by the day...and now worldwide. This Movement cannot be stopped, it's just...”Too Big To Fail”.   Oh yes!! They have grown up!!

Oct 20, 2011

Get Serious About Debt Reduction

By Margarita Mercure Hibbs

Everyone agrees that budget cuts are necessary.  Everyone is asked to participate in a shared sacrifice.  Statements like Speaker Boehner’s “So be it!” hit hard and appear to be delivered with indifference to the actual pain of the people that will be impacted by Congress’ $61 Billion decision.  The problem is that these cuts represent less than 2 percent of the deficit. They will not even come close to balancing the budget.  America's debt is $1.65 Trillion Dollars!  This is not serious deficit reduction. This is political posturing.

The Military and Defense Industry budget is never under scrutiny.   There is constant pork barrel for manufacturing plants devoted to military things that were long ago obsolete.  B-2 Bombers and Sea to Land amphibious transports are still being manufactured without regard for necessity or cost, as just two examples.  The industry is not asked to retool and reinvent their plants or products for state of the art improvements or alternative energy components or technologies.  Ironic isn’t it that the Torrance County government budget is managing financially better since the tax revenue from the alternative energy Wind Plant in the south?

The Auto Industry was asked to become more energy efficient when it went seeking Government Loans.  These loans have since been paid off with interest to the American taxpayer, and subsequently saved the industry and most of the jobs.  GM is now recalling the 2000 employees that were let go, back to work.  This is sustainability and innovation in practice.  Why shouldn’t we expect the same from our Military Industry? I am not saying that these jobs should be eliminated.  I am asking the following question. Would it not be better to support their transition to creating and building components that ensure our independence from foreign oil and bring our men, women and resources home?

Now the GOP tells us that cutting Department of Justice Funding is necessary.  This is particularly interesting from a party that has told us that they are “tough on crime”.  According to Conservative politicians and spokespeople like, Tom Tancredo, Jan Brewer and Susana Martinez, Border States like New Mexico are under attack from the rampant and unchecked drug cartels from the south. Having raised two boys who were abandoned by drug addicted mothers; I can assure you that I understand the problems and challenges created by drug-infested communities, first hand.

Every mayor, county commissioner, judge, police chief and sheriff in rural America should be very worried about their Enforcement Department funding.  In particular, the manner in which our rural areas are going to be inundated with said drug trafficking should be of major concern.  For Torrance County, this has long been a problem.  Drugs permeate our schools, businesses and medical and emergency health communities.

We know that when it comes to begging for money, rural communities are low on the totem pole in comparison to cities that have the funding to pay professional lobbyists to beg on their behalf.  The cities get the lion share of the funding. Inevitably, crime will continue to move out to the country where there is less law enforcement in vast geographic territories like Torrance County.

Here are the proposed cuts according to the House Appropriations Committee. Most of these cuts are in the Department of Justice programs, where funding for the states comes. The bill will also include the elimination of the COPS hiring program altogether.

ONDCP - $69 million
BJA Programs - $256 million, from a baseline of $1.48 billion
OJJDP Programs - $2.3 million
Drug Intelligence Center - $11 million
Law Enforcement Wireless Communications - $52 million
US Marshals Service - $10 million
FBI - $74 million
State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance - $256 million
Juvenile Justice - $2.3 million
COPS - $600 million.

We know if we follow the money and dissect the language, their agenda is revealed.  This agenda no longer rests on our interests, but instead benefits attorneys, administrators, insurance industry executives and corporations that care little about us.  God help the taxpayer that is not wealthy and connected.  That now means 98% of us.

We have a Wall Street and Banking industry that has been found culpable for the economic duress that our country is in and not one of these criminals has been indicted.  We taxpayers know that they will skate.  Apparently, white-collar crime is above the law and is now completely politicized.  As we file our taxes, we are told that we should be okay with the many corporations that do not pay one dime in corporate taxes to our country because of instruments like NAFTA and various tax cuts for the extremely wealthy given by the GOP controlled Congress during the Bush Administration.

The premise is if they get to keep more of their money, they create jobs.  The fact is that over the last 12 years they have not created many jobs here in America.  The response of course is “Margarita, it’s legal. So what?”  Yes, it is legal, but is it moral and patriotic that during the worst recession of our time, and the fact that we are at war on three fronts, that small communities and poor people continue to shoulder so much of the burden of this philosophy?  This is not acceptable!  This is not “Shared Sacrifice”.

Oct 7, 2011

His Echos Are Being Heard...Howard Beale Lives!!

by RF Schatten

Fascinating things are happening in America...and they are happening fast!!
For the first time since the 60s, people have become inspired and motivated, in what's happening to this Nation.

It started with a little movement, called “Occupy Wall Street”...a little movement that has grown tenfold. And continues to grow...not only in New York, but all over the United States, and now...all over the World!! check out occupytogether.org ...this is real, folks!!
A movement that symbolizes the agony and frustrations of the common man. How it all began, with a minor amount of people...and how it has grown, will make these events, certainly, part of a new chapter, in US History.

What is remarkable, was that just a very few, knew of these Demonstrations. The mainstream media, for whatever absurd or sordid reason...kept it quiet from the public...Fox News, obviously kept a tied lip. Only a few brave souls, decided to report on it. Give the Internet, and Current TV's Keith Olbermann, all the credit in the world.

Now, like most peaceful demonstrations, if it's going to get the attention it deserves, something has to happen...and in this case, it did. Why? Nobody really knows...although, it would be in the interest of everybody, to ask why, and who started it. But, living in an age of high technology and communication...it didn't take long to see, when the NYPD started to Pepper Spray some young women. No one caused any problems for this to happen...it has remained extremely peaceful...but, the actions of the Police, was enough to incite more people to join in. Since then, more than 700 peaceful souls, have been arrested. Now, the Marchers are using acts of Civil Disobedience, and like all Civil Disobedience, its a means of non-violent resistance...but, like the 60s, the Night Sticks of the Police have made their presence felt...more beatings, more arrests!! They say, that if you want a protest to stop, don't piss people off...you will just make it bigger. In the case of New York...the NYPD, just made it mushroom, larger than anyone have ever expected.

Why are so many people, so infuriated...that they are willing to go out and march, to protest, to demonstrate their fillings? In Wall Street, it was simply the fact that people are fed up!!...fed up with not having enough money to buy food for their children...not having enough to buy goods for their family...not having enough to keep themselves, and their families healthy...unable to afford Medical Care for their life threatening diseases. Unable to afford good schooling, unable to afford to pay their mortgages. 400 People in this Country today, have more wealth, in combined Cash, Stock, and Property...than the assets of 155 Million Americans, combined!! The 99% are mad!! and want the 1% to pay their share in taxes...and for Corporations to stop hiding behind loopholes, and pay their Taxes, period. They want the Big Banks and Big Money, to stop ripping the public off.

And the Movement has grown...to all the other ills suffered by US Citizens...their Constitutional Rights, whether those are Immigration Rights, Civil Rights, Women Rights, Gay Rights, and every other Right under our Constitution. Factions in this Country are trying to either remove or forbid others from using...the removal of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Compensation, Union Rights, Child labor Laws, Labor Rights to all Individuals, and the Disenfranchisement of the American Voters.

People are tired! people are fed up! people are seeing how the GOP and their fanatical puppets...the Tea Party...have been all bought by the Giant Corporations, and the Conservative Rich Elite, in order to place them in power and control of the US Government, to take away “We, The People”...and replace them with “We, The Corporations”. People are fed up of watching how the Social Conservative Movement is trying to convert this nation from a true Democracy, with a variety of Social Classes...into one Ruling Class Society, run by a Theocratic Fascist Oligarchy!! or even a Plutocracy!!

People are getting tired, they are waking up to the fact, that the GOP doesn't really care about the Middle Class, or the Poor Class...they are saying so, everywhere! “Enough is Enough!!”...and in the words of Howard Beale: “I'M MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!”

Howard Beale, may have been a fictional character made up by Paddy Chayefsky...years ago, in 1976. But, what he said, could very well, be today! It's too long to write down the entire speech of “MAD AS HELL”, but look it up!! in the Internet...the complete speech is all there...and sounds like America 2011.

Yes!! this nation...Progressives, Liberals, Independents, Sensible Decent Republicans...Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, Orientals...everybody! Men and Women alike, are Echoing Howard Beale...as is, the rest of the world.

The problems in this Country, has had serious ramifications throughout the world. Everyone is looking at America...as their Lightning Rod, as we looked to the Arab Spring, for inspiration. Remarkable, how a small group of people, have mobilized, not just this Nation...but, the entire Planet.

Oct 5, 2011

We’re All In This Together

By James R. Herman

Freedom and the golden rule demands inclusion rather than exclusion. Some people are worried about securing our borders and want to build a fence at the Mexican border. Here’s a lesson we can draw from WWII. This horrible action was repeated many times with the same result. People were gassed to death inside concentration camps. After the gassing was finished and everyone was dead they went in to remove the bodies for cremation. Here’s what they found every time. All the bodies were in a heap. The weak were at the bottom and the strongest were at the top. People fought for that last breath of fresh air. A pregnant woman might expel her fetus in the struggle. The evidence showed that people had bitten, scratched, clawed, punched, kicked and generally fought each other in the most heinous ways to compete for that last breath of air. These were normal, civilized caring people who would never have behaved this way under normal circumstances.

The lesson here is that when people are treated badly, then they behave badly. Or when resources are scarce and people feel threatened, then behavior goes from bad to worse. The expressions of this exclusion on a large scale are war and genocide.

The only way to achieve peace is to make sure everyone has enough. So this certainly means keeping the population at a sustainable level so there are enough resources for everyone to have a quality of life. Certainly we humans are smarter than animals so we do not have to live by the law of the jungle. History shows us that we can always find something to fight about. So having a single race, a single religion or a single country etc will not lead to peace. Each person needs to be judged by his/her own behavior rather than as being part of a group. So rather than exclude the group just exclude the individual who exhibits bad behavior. So we will always need police and jails. Again it comes down to freedom and the golden rule. What follow is tolerance, happiness and having a quality of life which maximizes the probability of having peace, harmony and inclusion.

The really disheartening thing is, that this is not comprehended. If it were then why would we choose misery over happiness? The framers of our constitution said that we all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They acknowledged that everyone just wants to live a happy life. Exclusionary zoning violates one’s freedom to live in a home of one’s own choosing. Exclusionary zoning denies one the freedom to pursue happiness. It just doesn’t get any more basic than this.