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21 Days in May: an Occupy novella, part 9

Jack and Eva made love that evening. It was a quiet, fumbling sort of moment, as little Jeffrey slept soundly in the next room. With the baby they had learned to take these moments as they came. Their lovemaking succeeded in diverting Jack’s tortured thoughts for a time, as he was still so terribly shaken by the whole affair with Angelo. For Eva, it was a way of maintaining peace and calm in the house and in the man she loved. When it was over they lingered for a time, still wrapped in one another’s saving embrace.

“I love you,” he said softly into her warm smooth neck, fighting to catch his breath. Eva kissed his shoulder softly and strengthened her embrace in reply.

“Should we have another baby?” she whispered.

The question caught him by surprise. He looked down into her flushed face, searching her eyes with his. “I hadn’t thought about it, at least not for a while.”

“Do you think we could, I mean could we get by with another mouth to feed?’

“Always a way to get by,” he said. The thought wasn’t necessarily an idea he opposed.

They talked and touched for a time afterwards. Eva slowly lost the battle with sleep, her eyelids weighted until she could no longer hold them up any longer. Jack, still unable to sleep went out into the kitchen and poured himself a glass of water. He went to the computer in his small office at the back of the house. The monitor threw a pale blue-white upon his small black desk. He typed in something in the internet search bar, yawned and sat back to read an article as the page loaded. It was a piece about the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.

It was Common Cause and Color for Change that shown the light on ALEC, but it was very definitely the Occupy movement that turned up the heat on corporate manipulation of the government, and the buying of elected officials. Progressive pundits like Ed Schultz and Thom Hartman championed the effort to expose ALEC, but curiously no one in the mainstream media picked it up. That legislators and corporations like Coke and Pepsi and McDonald’s fled from ALEC, quitting it and walking away from the attention bore stark testimony to the power of the alternative media on the internet.

This is how ALEC works. Thousands of bills were written by members of ALEC specifically to protect their business interests, expand profits or eliminate legal hurdles. Stand your ground laws benefitted the gun industry, among them the nation’s largest gun retailer, Walmart, a stalwart ALEC member. That market was supported by the National Rifle Association, and fear mongering from  a right-wing media about crime,  a coming economic collapse and the unfounded rumors that the Obama administration would try to ban guns.

Once written the bills were given to chosen lawmakers who often didn’t change a word in exchange for campaign contributions, or for fear of reprisal campaigns for legislators refusing to play along.   Florida Representative Rachel Burgin recently filed a bill to lower corporate taxes and left the stamp from ALEC on the bill. A number of corporations involved in writing legislation for ALEC aren’t even based in the United States.

Jack felt himself fading. Leaning back, he rubbed his tired eyes and looked around the room. He turned off the computer and stretched, going off to bed with Eva as he had more than a thousand nights before. He couldn’t know that in a few hours everything would change, and this might be the last night he would spend with his family. It was just twelve days until the NATO summit. That would seem to Jack like  a lifetime, and perhaps cost him his own in the process.


21 days in May: An Occupy novella, part 5

“Occupy Chicago to ‘shut down Boeing’ on May 21” ran the headline by Michelle Dunlop on  heraldnet.com. Across the city  authorities  and activists readied, like two great armies destined for inevitable collision. While one side  readied for violence, the other steeled itself against that looming possibility,  stalwart in their assertion of their constitutional rights, and focused on that better world they whole heartedly believed was possible. One side represented a status quo that had very obviously stopped working for a vast and growing number of Americans. These authorities  had become, by purpose or default the defenders of a system that protected a system corrupted by corporate greed and abuse. Peacefully by resolutely opposing them were students and housewives and grandparents, the employed , under-employed and unemployed, demanding that their government by less accessible and less responsible to corporate interests, and more accessible and more responsible to the people.

A cold fog brought a chill to the city, making the city seem all the more intimate and small beneath that whispering shroud. At Multi Kulti on Milwaukee, just off the downtown, a non-commercial  cultural center, activists were learning basic first aid and urgent care for the protests. There were meeting at the Cermak Loft space about the NATO summit, and open discussions about the future of Occupy Chicago. Sit-ins and occupations continued around the city, bolstered by a stunning achievement in forcing city hall to keep open a mental health clinic in the Woodlawn neighborhood, which the city had slated for closing. There wasn’t a single story about the victory to save a critically needed clinic anywhere in the media.

Indeed, the media continued  a relentless and increasingly assaultive campaign to discredit and mock the movement. Leading that assault was Sean Hannity, who had fixed upon Harrison Schultz, and activist in New York. Shultz had been suckered into an interview the day before by a clever mafia-esque advocate for those siphoning off fortunes from the government, and bleeding the nation by Hannity, whose singular intent was to taunt and paint the Occupy movement as a bunch of confused, lazy freeloaders out to take from hardworking rich people. Hannity, practiced night after night trapped the inexperienced, untrained Shultz into a circular argument…

HANNITY: You’re dirty? You don’t take a shower?

SCHULTZ: Well, no, this is the way your news network is portraying us.

HANNITY: Did I ever say you are dirty or a hippie? Did I say any of that?

SCHULTZ: Yes, in August. You were making fun of my friends.

HANNITY: You mean the ones having sex in public, doing drugs and defecating on cars and those who are in other cities that were actually being violent breaking store windows, cursing out police and all of that? You mean those guys, those guys? Because I have tapes of all of that.

SCHULTZ: No, no, no. Those were the people that the NYPD was sending to the park to discredit us and make us look bad. And actually give your network something to focus on.

HANNITY: So you are in Zuccotti Park.

SCHULTZ: I stopped hanging out right around the NYPD —

HANNITY: Zuccotti Park, “yes” or “no.” Were you at Zuccotti Park?

SCHULTZ: Yes.

HANNITY: Why did they have set up a special, protective rape-free zone tent because of the rapes that took place in Zuccotti Park.

SCHULTZ: The NYPD was sending rapists down to the park.

HANNITY: So the NYPD — do you have any evidence about this?

SCHULTZ: This was in the NY Times, New York Times.

HANNITY: I asked you a question — the New York Times said that the police sent rapists to rape women down there?

SCHULTZ: They sent alcoholics. They sent offenders. They sent people who were convicted of rapes.

HANNITY: Do you have any evidence to back it up —

SCHULTZ: I can give testimony. I didn’t bring my files with me, but you can check this out —

HANNITY: The New York Police Department brought rapists in and as a result women were raped so a special rape protective zone was set up?

SCHULTZ: You got to admit, it was a really cynical, really effective tactic on the part of the authorities. They knew that we wouldn’t turn people away because we like to help people, like Christians should — even though most of us are not Christian.

HANNITY: You sound paranoid…*

Meanwhile, the authorities tightened their control over the city and protests. New boating restrictions were announced. Museums would be closed. Lake Shore Drive would be shut down. Protesters it was also revealed would be kept blocks away. The  civilian and military representatives of twenty-eight NATO member nations, an alliance created to protect a free and democratic western Europe  from Soviet invasion would hold secret meetings insulated from the oversight and dissent of their populations. Here the right-wing and corporate media were silent, as NATO had long ago ceased to be a coalition tasked with defending democracy, but were now beholden to a global corporate arms industry. They were the military wing of  a precipitous and dangerous ascension of  corporate power and the profits of war over the needs of people. The right was often heard to demand where the money would come from for entitlement programs, while militaries and subsidies for war industries drained public coffers.

 

 

Jack and Eva Murphy walked slowly along the empty beach, swinging little Jeffrey between them. He was giggling, wildly kicking his legs up, trying his best to keep off the sand. Each time Jack and Eva would  dip him lower to the soft sand Jeffrey would howl even louder.  The fog was heavier here, a few miles north of downtown, erasing the city skyline altogether. Even the buildings of nearby Loyola campus were shrouded. Waves tumbled heavily to the shore, rising from the gray lake as ranks of churning white danced over by excitable gulls.  

 

“I don’t know where all that came from,” Jack told Eva, referring to the strange incident at the bar with Angelo the night before.

“I was so pissed at you,” said Eva. She tempered it with a smile. “See, if you’d stayed home like you were supposed to…”

Jack couldn’t help a smile. He regarded her a moment, still finding her as amazing as the moment he first met her, perhaps more so. Eva’s shoulder length brown hair was pulled across her lovely face by the wind off the lake. Behind broad-framed glasses, her introspective brown eyes found his.  He nodded in agreement and looked to the baby.

“Don’t let it bother you,” she offered. “Forget about him. He’s revealed himself as a nut.”

“But what if he does something, you know? What if he goes off and someone does get hurt. The media would only be too happy to  act as if he represents all of us, and the police are looking for excuses to crackdown on the movement.”

“Tell someone then. Have him banned from the movement. Occupy is supposed to be non-violent.”

Jack nodded thoughtfully. “Ever feel that the whole world is about to come apart?”

“I had a little bit of that feeling last night when I had to do laundry, make supper, clean the house and take care of Jeff by myself,” she scolded playfully.

Jack frowned. They stopped and he lifted the baby into his  arms, kissing him gently on the cheek. Eva touched his arm. The moment felt like a commodity.

“What happens in the world isn’t monolithic, Jack. Every situation, relationships, society, history, all of it are all made up constructs.”

“I just have this feeling of impending doom, and I’m afraid for you and Jeff.”

She touched his face. “You need some sleep. Things will seem better after you’ve gotten rest, you’ll see.”

“Hope so, he said, though all the way home he could not shake the feeling. Jack laid his head down that night to sleep beside Eva. Sleep came grudgingly and with that sense of ultimate foreboding stronger than ever.   

 

 

*http://www.hannity.com/article/occupy-wall-street-organizer-slings-insults-during-heated-debate/15479


21 days in May: An Occupy Novella, part 3

They met at a little dive bar off Elston and Foster. Angelo was already there, hunched over a draft beer at the far end of the bar. The laconic middle-aged bartender was lost in a newspaper article to the opposite end. A couple of Mexican construction works sat a table together. A Bob Dylan song competed from the jukebox beside the door against traffic along Foster. The place was suitably dark.

Jack started across the room. He was feeling guilty over leaving Eva alone with the baby, and vowed to make this as quick as possible. Later he’d wish he’d never returned that call. He’d lament not turning around and going home. Another part of him would  scrutinize the fateful and historic nature of what was to come. He’d dissect levels and implications and moralities. All of that would come later and with a hindsight he just could not conjure right now.

He scooted onto the stool beside Angelo. The two men shook hands.

Whaddya have?” asked Angelo, waving over the bartender. “It’s on me.”

Jack nodded as the bartender slapped down a Bud Lite coaster.

“India Pale Ale,” said Jack. Life was far too short to waste on cheap beer, he remembered someone saying once. He took a long first sip and felt the worst of the day dissolve.  He looked to Angelo. Something was clearly weighing on him.

“So what’s up?”

Angelo thought a moment and pursed his lips thoughtfully. “Ask you a question? What are we doing?”

“Who?”

“You, me, I don’t know, this movement?”

“Not sure I follow,” said Jack.

Jack, I’m a results oriented person. Doesn’t seem to me like these people know what they’re doing? What’s changed? They were the news last fall, and now what?”

“That’s a bit short-sighted, don’t you think?” Jack had his own views of the Occupy Movement. This whole idea of an open Democracy could be cumbersome and frustratingly slow at times. There was a purpose to that, however. It helped prevent a single person from co-opting the movement, turning it from that open democracy into a cult of personality, like the Tea Party. Jack preferred to think it rather like embracing a cloud. It was possible to accomplish a great deal with patience, persistence, but most of all by gaining the trust and support of a democratic majority.

“Man, I want action,” Angelo began. “Blood in the streets, if that’s what it takes. Bust some heads, put some cops in the damned hospital if that’s what it takes!”

Jack looked uneasily to the bartender, noting the bent to the man’s brow.

“It’s a non-violent movement…” Jack began. Angelo quickly cut him off.

“Did you see Seattle, busting windows. Those guys in Cleveland? This is a war man, and until a few bank buildings come down and a few cops wind up in the hospital, especially here in Chicago, no one will pay any attention. Get me?’

Angelo was being loud and belligerent. Almost, it seemed to Jack, with calculated purpose. Hearing all this, the bartender threw down a bar towel and started over to the pair. As if on cue, Angelo stood and announced he had to take a leak. Jack turned and found himself trapped under the boiling gaze of the bartender. He shrank from it immediately.

“Listen, friend,” scolded the bartender, holding back as much as he was able, “tell your friend that we like cops in this establishment. We don’t go for that sort of crap here, and I won’t have it.” He leaned close as if to underscore the point. “Don’t recall ever seeing you here before, and I just as soon you don’t come back, unless you’d like to come by when some of the boys come in off duty. See how tough you are then.”

“No problem here,” said Jack, climbing off the stool. He fished in his pocket for a ten spot and dropped it on the bar. He wasn’t waiting for Angelo to return. He didn’t need any of this. Jack turned and left the bar. Out on the street, fuming, he took a couple of deep breaths and started for the car. He couldn’t know that he was being set up. All he knew was that he was done with Angelo, and that as soon as he could would alert someone in the movement to his violent rhetoric before it was too late.


21 days in May: An Occupy Novella, part 2

Chicago was adopting something of a siege mentality as the NATO summit and protests loomed ever closer. It certainly wasn’t the protesters dialing up fear and concern. There had been in recent weeks a purposeful effort to intimidate the population, painting the protests as dangerous and the authorities as protectors. The effort began slowly in February and by the end of April had grown to a near fever pitch. The authorities, state, local, Federal and private corporate interests would manage and stoke that fear with their propaganda wing at FOX, CBS, ABC and even the so-called liberal MSNBC.

It began with leaked reports that downtown businesses would be hiring increased security for the protests, the reports punctuated with images from unrelated riots in Seattle some years earlier. Then came near panicked interviews with police officials clamoring for emergency funding from a cost-overridden city hall to make sure the police all had expensive new protective riot gear. Commuters would be subject to search and trains could be diverted or stopped altogether for “security concerns.” Boats in the harbors would be prohibited as the city became an armed camp. Then, at the end of April the fear was raised to insidious levels, first with front page headlines that downtown Chicago was now considered a “RED ZONE,” and that heavily armed federal agents in riot gear would be guarding strategic  buildings. The next day the local CBS affiliate published a “leaked” memo revealing how Red Cross officials in Milwaukee were preparing for the possible evacuation of Chicago in the event of an insurrection during the NATO summits. No one, in the media at least, questioned the rationale or what possibly would cause a city of eight million to flee en masse, not to the suburbs, nearby Joliet or Gary Indiana in such a catastrophe, but 90 miles North to Scott Walker’s Milwaukee Wisconsin. 

Angelo studied his smartphone, tapping on an MSNBC story emailed to him overnight. His eyes moved across a stunning headline that left him even more conflicted about his part in all this.

  “…agents have arrested five people who were plotting to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, Ohio… Douglas L. Wright, 26, Brandon L. Baxter, 20, and Anthony Hayne, 35, were arrested by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on April 30 on charges of conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce. Also arrested were Connor C. Stevens, 20, and Joshua S. Stafford, 23. Charges are pending… of Hayne, Stafford and Baxter, there were claims that they were affiliated with Occupy Cleveland, which moved swiftly Tuesday to distance itself from the bridge plot… after “we awoke to the news of the arrests,” coordinator Johnny Peskar, 22, told msnbc.com… “We don’t need any implications in this nonsense,” Peskar said… Occupy organizers had seen a few in the plot hanging around earlier events, but their actions were “autonomous,”

He set down the phone and went to the long mirror by the door. Six years in special forces and 4 more as a military contractor with a for-hire firm had placed him is some odd and morally questionable circumstances, but none more than this.  This mission left him awake nights, praying for the respite of nightmares in sleep instead of the nightmare he was living.

He still looked like a college kid, and could pass for his early twenties. Angelo had let his dark brown hair grow long, nearly to shoulder length. His clothes were rough and urban and worn. His cover was a simple one, which was always the best-less to remember that way. Facts and dates were mixed or altered should anyone go prying. He looked the part well enough, but there was something else.

The mission was taking a toll. He appeared haggard and exhausted, which did not lend themselves to a successful mission. But what of the mission? In Afghanistan in a beard and local garb, Angelo passed sufficiently to infiltrate a Taliban group. He tracked a FARC leader in Columbia for  six months without being detected, and was able to worm his way into a Mexican drug lord’s inner circle. Never before had he been asked to spy on fellow Americans, which was bad enough. But this, this mission…

Angelo glanced at the paper he’d been slipped the day before at the protest. He had never seen the contact. The man came and went like a ghost. Now he found himself balanced on a fence, weighing ethics, morality and salvation. They were an operative’s worst obstacles. He thought of the mission once more as he went to the sink and poured a chemical mix over the paper, dissolving it almost instantly. He washed it down the drain with water and recalled the headline from Cleveland that morning.

Nineteen days and it would all be over. Nineteen days and the mission would be complete. Nineteen days and the nation would be forever changed. Angelo steeled himself and nodded resolutely. In the end he made it about the money. He’d made  a shade over a million tax free as a military contractor-the ultimate welfare scheme he sometimes mused to colleagues. Another half million would be deposited in an off shore account for him following a successful conclusion of the mission. Other missions were for country, unit or to bring down truly reprehensible people, but this would have to be about the cash, and that would have to suffice.

 

 

The train, bus and three block walk to he and Eva’s bungalow on Chicago’s Northwest side left Jack beaten. Eva wasn’t home yet with Jeffrey. The house was still and comfortable and peaceful. He practically collapsed onto the chair in the front room. He still had on his jacket and hat. The shoulder bag was in his lap, as if he’d striven for that chair with his final ounce of energy.  Morris, their lumbering Boxer/ Boston Terrier mix, normally a pest for attention, seemed to understand well enough. He sort of flopped to the floor at Jack’s feet and laid his head across one shoe with a heavy sigh.

The family still wasn’t completely settled into the place, and a daunting list of projects left Jack all the more spent. The phone rang, and he hardly had the energy to lift it, let alone answer. He hit the speaker key and let it go to voice mail

“This is Jack, lean Left,” came his recorded message. After a short pause Angelo from Occupy replied.

“Hey, Jack, wanted to know if you could get together later. I have something I need to discuss with you. You’ve got the number. Call me back.”

Jack sighed and  let the phone fall to his leg. He’d been meaning to get back into the movement, especially now as the NATO summit neared. He liked Angelo, at least what he knew of the kid.  Every movement attracted its share of oddities; Occupy, Socialist groups, anarchists, The Tea Party, and certainly the Ron Paul devotees. Angelo seemed like a normal fellow, well informed and adjusted and, for as much as Jack could tell, passionate about the cause. He thought about Sarah as he lifted the phone and found Angelo’s number. As it began to ring at the other end, he was already crafting his sincere apology to her.

“Hey, Angelo, its Jack,” he began. “Brutal day at work, sorry I couldn’t pick up before. Still want to get together?”


Co-opting Occupy: Move on’s takeover bid and the “99% Spring”

On Saturday, a local progressive talk show lamented the death of Occupy Chicago over the winter, but, on the day before Easter, heralded its resurrection with an interview by a Move On spokesperson, and their “99% Spring” initiative. There are a few issues with all of this, most of all, Occupy Chicago did not die, except for those who weren’t paying attention, or who are part of the incredibly strong and subversive effort to co-opt the movement.

Let me be clear. I support Move On, mostly. Personally, I support political candidates and vote Democratic. Not always because I believe they are the optimal candidate, but because the alternative in our two-party curse is far worse for civil, gender and human rights in this country. That said, I passionately believe in the Occupy movement’s ability to affect the political process and discourse by not overtly adopting a politically partisan stance. In an election year that terrifies political apparatchiks and those who view the political theater paramount to morality and real change.

Move On is moving massively to refocus Occupy’s message and true grassroots strength into its own partisan messaging. Where Occupy is mustering strength and efforts to combat homelessness, poverty and foreclosure evictions,  maintain focus on economic disparity, a cannibalistic economic structure and money in politics, and discuss the two-party stranglehold on governance, Move On would champion that two-part system as part of the mechanism beholden to it.

Indeed, everyone from the Tea Party, Move On, so-called Progressive media, politicians and Public Relations firms are intent in steering, co-opting or destroying the Occupy movement, most especially to prevent a truly democratic voice of average citizens and the poor who would otherwise be powerless and voiceless. I have been a party to more than a few meetings, interviews and discussions with various pundits, politicians, outsiders and others seeking inroads into the movement.

The movement is pure, at least for now. It is not perfect, but it is pure. It remains leaderless, which is the movement’s blessing, as no one holds a more persuasive voice than anyone else in the movement. Where else can someone walk up to a General Assembly for the first time and have their voice heard respectfully? If there is merit to that voice  to have it voted upon and perhaps carried by all those attending? Does Move On operate in such a way? Doubtful. Does our own elected(???) government?

In The Last Man, I describe how a single personality can co-opt and destroy a movement. Move On should join Occupy. If they feel they can strengthen the movement, show up to a GA, raise their hand and state their case, and make it a communal effort. To assume they can simply announce this is the “99% spring”(a term they co-opted from Occupy Chicago, which was calling this the “Chicago Spring” months ago) shows that they care less about true democracy and the good work this movement has and is doing, and is merely reflecting and pushing the broken system we are fighting to change.


The task of the writer: be bold and daring

The Last man is a big novel in a small package. As a reader told me recently, it begins introspectively, inside the Last Man’s head and then “it punches you right in the face.” This was the novel I was meant to write. It challenged me as no other novel I have written, assailing unexplored frontiers and realities, not just within my heart but those beyond my normal experience.

A couple of weeks ago I went to see  a theater piece by friends and former cast members of my play “Occupy My Heart” For the play my director cast a black woman, Donier (pronounced: Donyay) Tyler, in the role of  a ditsy girl, but in this new piece I recall watching her come to several parts with this amazing strength and confidence. The realization was instant and powerful; The Last Man could be, or should be a woman!

The whole point of the book, and the stage adaptation is to besiege paradigms on systems of power. I’d written the main character as a black man on trial for his life. Casting Donier in a dramatic reading for the stage and Youtube later this month revealed a whole new dimension to the story, one I exalt in realizing and lament for not realizing earlier.

And so, this past weekend I sat down to read the piece aloud with Donier. The piece is from the trial, in which the Last Man is arguing for his very life. Alone, with the court and odds stacked plainly against him, he remains defiant, if for no other reason that to show pride and disdain for his accusers and would-be executioners. She paused a moment, pulling herself into the part. Slapping her hand hard to the table she began, with all that strength and passion I’d glimpsed earlier. Her voice rose in the still of the livingroom. She was the Last Man.

“Kill that dog!” Her hand fell loudly against the table.  “If a man uses a dog to keep you from what is yours, kill that dog! Violence is the last domain of the downtrodden. Power concedes nothing without demand, said Frederick Douglas. There is an implicit power behind any demand, or it has no value. The only true power of the powerless is violence. Or the potential for violence. It must be a possibility when power is unbalanced. You must understand, that when your power overcomes reason and justice and mercy, that I may rise against you, and that our very existence becomes part of the negotiation…”

Against those who hold and abuse power, the words of the writer are violence, and are thus met with their ultimate rage. It is the reason that oppressive regimes and rulers single out the writer and artist first for destruction. and whether under benevolent or oppressive government, the writer has a responsibility to be bold, to dare to tell the truth that resides within the human heart, and which ultimately guides or rampages in human society. In that way, The Last Man might well be applied to the responsibility and the danger of writing and writing the truth.

“…I must justify my existence,” Donier continued. “Men must tolerate men by right of agreement. You must know that my rights are inviolable, and that no man may ‘give’ another man rights, for if you can give those rights then you may take them away.  No one gives me rights. They are mine, and if taken away then they are stolen, and that is the difference. Hence the words of Malcolm X; Kill that dog! I have done nothing. This right to exist is mine by virtue that I am, and if you remove that from me then it is you have committed the real crime!”


And I’m the crazy one…Rick Santorum, the would-be theocratic ruler of America’s psychotic rant about Satan

For fear of being accused of taking him out of context, below is the entire un-edited 2008 speech by Rick Santorum at Ave Maria University in Florida, in which he denegrates all foreign nations, attacks academia and panders to those tragically and easily fooled or incited by such rhetoric….and they call be the crazy one? 

The Right points out that Islam is a violent religion because it never had a so-called reformation, which is untrue. Could the speech below indicate the cyclical nature of violence and bigorty prone to zealots, or an evolution towards that inevitibility?

Enjoy…

This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country – the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age. There is no one else to go after other than the United States and that has been the case now for almost two hundred years, once America’s preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers. He didn’t have much success in the early days. Our foundation was very strong, in fact, is very strong. But over time, that great, acidic quality of time corrodes even the strongest foundations. And Satan has done so by attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition. He was successful. He attacks all of us and he attacks all of our institutions. The place where he was, in my mind, the most successful and first successful was in academia. He understood pride of smart people. He attacked them at their weakest, that they were, in fact, smarter than everybody else and could come up with something new and different. Pursue new truths, deny the existence of truth, play with it because they’re smart. And so academia, a long time ago, fell. And you say “what could be the impact of academia falling?” Well, I would have the argument that the other structures that I’m going to talk about here had root of their destruction because of academia. Because what academia does is educate the elites in our society, educates the leaders in our society, particularly at the college level. And they were the first to fall. And so what we saw this domino effect, once the colleges fell and those who were being education in our institutions, the next was the church. Now you’d say, ‘wait, the Catholic Church’? No. We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic, sure the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country and the Protestant ethic, mainstream, mainline Protestantism, and of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it. So they attacked mainline Protestantism, they attacked the Church, and what better way to go after smart people who also believe they’re pious to use both vanity and pride to also go after the Church. After that, you start destroying the Church and you start destroying academia, the culture is where their next success was and I need not even go into the state of the popular culture today. Whether its sensuality of vanity of the famous in America, they are peacocks on display and they have taken their poor behavior and made it fashionable. The corruption of culture, the corruption of manners, the corruption of decency is now on display whether it’s the NBA or whether it’s a rock concert or whether it’s on a movie set. The fourth, and this was harder, now I know you’re going to challenge me on this one, but politics and government was the next to fall. You say, ‘you would think they would be the first to fall, as fallible as we are in politics,’ but people in political life get elected by ordinary folks from lots of places all over the country where the foundations of this country are still strong. So while we may certainly have had examples, the body politic held up fairly well up until the last couple of decades, but it is falling too.


History in the making. The CHICAGO SPRING is coming…

Can you feel history arising? The question is whether or not it will arise as a storm. It feels unstoppable, shocking and fearsome all at once. Regardless of what form it will take, now is the time to watch as history unfolds for what will be a memorable Chicago spring that historians will talk about for generations. Now, knowing that you are living an awakening moment, now you have the choice to be a participant or witness. Both share the responsibility of rendering the moment accurately for future generations. The witness must see all and render those impressions justly, without propagandizing the moment as inaccurate or skewed to the political flavor of the day. The participant must know their own hert and enter into these days with clarity and peace, while carrying the burden of all that will come from moments such as this, like Martin Luther King upon a Memphis balcony, Gandhi at the end or Jesus on the Cross. Both must know that their witness will be judged by history, far away from the politics and emotion, and clarity or blindness of the moment. Regardless, this history is unstoppable. Will it come as a lion or a lamb? Either way, the Chicaho Spring is coming…


A Better World not a New World

I am often ask what the Occupy Movement wants. The Movement has clearly made its intentions and demands known, for those who wish to hear or read. For those who do not wish to know, nothing I write here will convince them. Their own realization will come with time, especially for poor, middle class and even upper middle class people who continue voting against their own economic and social interests.  I do not speak for the movement. I support it fully, and believe in it, but I can only speak for myself.

A recent conversation brought up a crucial point, and what I feel is a fundamental misunderstanding with regards to the movement, at least as I see things. The conversation began regarding so-called anarchists, agent provocateurs, and others who might foment violence within the group, and how that might alienate people who are on the fence regarding whether to support or not support the movement. My immediate reaction, was that if they could “go either way,” they didn’t really understand, and were unlikely to understand what the movement is about. These people are reeds of grass, and inclined to blow  where the wind is blowing, which is hardly a character of people who stand by their ideals. I stand by that.

I was then asked how these people “will fit into your new world?” New world? The media has carefully crafted a narrative on how the Occupy movement is violent and out of control. It would have their hostage audiences believe the “Occupiers” hate success, want hand outs from the government which are ultimately stolen from the wealthy, that it wants banks eradicated and corporations dismantled. In that narrative are shades of Pol Pot’s pogroms in Cambodia, or resetting the social and economic clock to year zero as with the French Revolution, and overt comparisons to Stalinist Russia. Nothing, nothing could be further from the truth.

Last night, at a general assembly, I witnessed an intervention between two members that nearly came to blows in a fight. The intervention was carried out in parliamentary fashion, with strict rules of oder. Grievances and views were offered freely and honestly. To the credit of those involved in the actual altercation, their respect for the movement had them willingly compliant with the judgement of the whole body at the GA. Ultimately, both parties were suspended from any Occupy activities and locations for a week.  

No one in the movement that I know whats to outlaw banks, eliminate corporations and confiscate the wealth of the so-called 1%. What I want, and what I hear from many, many in the movement, and which is consistent with the movement’s demands and actions is a vision of a better world.

Funny that too few in this nation question the idea of a draft for the military in a time of war. It is the responsibility of every citizen, we are told, to defend the nation in a national emergency. A few years a go I witnessed a swearing-in ceremony for new citizens to this country. Women, old men and grandmothers, their right hand raise, repeated the oath administered by a judge, that in a time of crisis, they too could be called to serve their nation. Yet, somehow the rich and powerful in this country now assert that when called to do their part, and that they have a responsibility to the nation, they are absolved, and that any mention of their responsibility to the nation and their neighbor is immoral or communist.

I will speak for myself here. I am not against corporations. I am against corporate greed, and power that eclipses, undermine or extinguishes that of individuals. I am for responsible corporations, who pay their fair share and profit and succeed morally and ethically. I am not against banks. I am against the religion of money, and the invention of scams like derivatives and credit default swaps that were just a way of stealing money, without calling it  theft(Explain to me that inventing a scheme to market risk investments of$700trillion based upon barely $23trillion in actual realestate is not theft). http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-700-trillion-elephant-room-theres

I am not for taking money from the wealthy and giving it to the “poor.” I am for a society that does not allow corporations-profitable corporations to siphon money from the treasury that could otherwise benefit fellow citizens in need.  I am for those who are lucky enough or blessed enough to be wealthy, that they also contribute their fair share to sustaining a peaceful, respectful and progressive society equal in the dispensation of justice and opportunity, rather than a stastus quo, wink-and-a-nod defacto caste society. 

I am not anti-media. I am against a media that acts and has become a marketing wing of corporations to the detriment of free discourse, dissent and the unvarnished reporting of wrong doing, wherever it may occur. I am against any media that acts as a mafia lawyer with the intention of allowing, rationalizing or whitewashing the undermining of this republic, and I am against a media that plays to the lowest common denominators in society by describing itself as a business first. We have seen the results of that alibi for at least the last two decades. Free and unbiased factual news is imperative to the survival of this nation and to the world. remember, marketing is nothing more than the controlling the message. If it is necessary to control the perception of something, that implies something needs to be hidden.

I am for human rights. Iam not for picking and choosing human rights, nor do I subscribe to a tiered application of human rights. Whether by god, birth, default or inheritance, human rights  are invioble to each person regardless of gender, orientation, religion, race, age, status or wealth. And I assert to the last breath in my body that corporations are not people, but are entities, made up of autonomous people, for business only, and that they are entitled to profit within the context of human-centered society and within the context of human-centered laws. The rights of the corporation reside in the indiviuals, and not as a collective that unfairly outweighs others.

This is what I believe, and what I find within the movement, which is why I have and many others have sacrificed mightily for the movement. No sane person wishes to tear down the world as it exists. We want a better world not a new world? Do you?


Legacy

I was a child in the 1960s and early 70s, but even at an early age it was impossible not to be affected by those tumultuous years. Even in the suburbs, far from the so-called Grant Park riots, the anti-war movement, Civil Rights, the vitriolic assaults  against those questioning the status (white) quo and Vietnam, the historic scope of those years was inescapable. And that was perhaps the most dramatic period of American History since the civil war. Before that change was far more incremental, and still favored the status quo. White power and supremacy was not assailed or significantly challenged for more than two centuries. That changed in the 1960s.

But the effort begun during those years was surrendered as that generation grew older. Many, though not all, abandoned the ideal of love, peace and egalitarianism they fought, bled, and in the case of Kent State or Martin Luther King, or Malcolm X and many others, died for. To be fair, their dreams were not completely abandoned. Important steps forward in peace, human and civil rights were made, but too many of that generation believed they had won the fight, or had won it enough. In the last several decades a purposeful effort was made to discredit their work and to roll it back as much as possible. As much as civil order would tolerate. But many from that generation abandoned their ideals, or followed the mantra of ideological cowards, a phrase repeated endlessly by the Right:

When I was a young man I was a liberal, when I grew up I was a conservative.

Where is the evidence for the charge that the 60s generation quit, conceded or defected to the enemies of peace and tolerance? First of all, they are the ones mostly in charge now, because succeeding generations have not yet acquired enough money, power and influence. Here are but a few examples. 

Racists have honed their message, and made their craft slicker and less apparent, even seductive. So-called “men” like Limbaugh and Savage and Beck tease the humors of their closeted and bigoted followers in carefully couched language. Human Rights were thrown back pre-Second World War over lawyerly justifications and obfuscations about torture. Vietnam was  a war over money, markets(oil and rubber) and influence filtered through extreme national ego, with just the right amount of racism to sell it to middle America. The perverse invasion of Iraq, the “strategic” picking and choosing of which human rights issues we will interfere in makes American foreign policy in Indochina and the 1960s-world seem naive and innocent by comparison.

And please don’t think this is a generational thing. My generation gave itself to an “Alex B. Keaton” style of morality and conscience, compromising comfort with ethics. We were on watch when the Twin Towers were struck, and when war threatened in Iraq, carried on propaganda and demonstrable lies, we acquiesced. A million of us marched, but it wasn’t enough, because we didn’t understand the powers arrayed against us, nor how to  turn the message to our favor. We stood in the street and then conceded when the war began, disillusioned that a wholly owned media would impune our patriotism, and that a bought and paid for government wouldn’t simply ignore us, it laughed in our faces as pathetic for believing our voice actually held value in this nation.

And now comes the Occupy Movement. they stand for equality. They stand for freedom. And they stand for a government that must work for human beings, rather than corporate and banking interests. And for those simple assertions they are treated like peddlers of porn or worse. Safe from the comfort of their homes, too many in older generations ignore their efforts or dismiss them as kids, communists-and even worse-not serious. They will inherit the world the rest of us failed to improve enough. They are in the fight to reverse the damage the out of control influence corporations have had on the nation and the world. It is a just fight. It is the correct fight, because in each of our hearts we know the alternative should this movement fail.

And they have created their own media. The mainstream media is obsolete and never even a consideration any longer. The revolutions will not be televised, I have heard, it has been digitized. And it works through the amazing  ascension of social networking, instantly and around the world. They control their own message, and underground message, if you will, growing and strengthening as the old media kills itself off with its corrupted and co-opted corporate parentage. Occupy will succeed or build its own society based upon principles often quoted from the Constitution…and Bible…documents too many now wipe their ass with to use as a weapon against others. 

But what if it succeeds? What if a world in which the individual is paramount is forged. What if the government works to further human rights, fight wars only in defense or in defense of the helpless rather than as the enforcement wing of multi-nationals, or the marketing wing of those companies, siphoning taxpayer dollars to subsidize corporate profits? what if we lived in a world in which political candidates were chosen by the people, without the money influence, and that we could be sure they were beholden to us, and if not faced dismissal or prosecution? What if our choice for president was  3 or 5 or a dozen viable candidates, rather than two media chosen automatons shoe-horned into the ballot box? Now what if none of that came to pass?

And so one question remains, one that calls us back to our purer, less cynical, less damaged,more loving and accepting selves? When is it time for change? When do we decide to make that change. Where does a road begin, and when is it time to take the first step on that road. No one can make that decision for another. They must make it on their own. But that decision begins change in the world, every decision makes change in the world, and that is each person’s legacy.  

In my younger days I was a liberal…and I never stopped fighting or believing.

That is my legacy.


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