Tag Archives: marshall stern

Defend the Vote:intimidation by any other name…

The name sounds rather benign, almost progressive on the surface: Defend the vote. Who wouldn’t want to defend the vote, that sovereign right fought for  in a 200 year currency of blood and toil? Those who made those sacrifices would be aghast at a group called Defend the Vote.

That is the key to the Right and the Tea Party types. That is their ultimate weakness. Their arguments and fronts make perfect sense, on the surface. It is this homey sort of pseudo-common sense, a cartoonish way of viewing the world. It is when we look closer, delve deeper into the human experience, dig through the details that this fraudulent and dangerously simple world view becomes apparent in its foolishness.

And so this benign sounding Defend the Vote group makes arguments that we all sort of take pause with and say, yeah, I can see that. And why shouldn’t you have to produce ID when going to vote. I have to show ID when cashing a check or when using a credit card. It seems only reasonable that something as sacred as  the vote should require some proof that you are who you say you are. Makes sense right? But it is what you are giving away, surrendering or abandoning that is ultimately at stake in accepting that “common sense.”

Here’s what I mean. For example, abortion is wrong because the baby you abort might one day grow up to cure cancer. Seems reasonable and logical enough. Except, maybe that baby will one day grow up to murder the person who might cure cancer. See Cartoonish common sense works both ways. Why, the other day someone told me, requiring gun owners to have a picture ID won’t stop  a bad guy from committing a crime. Well, having a driver’s license won’t stop a car thief, but we  still recognize the importance of having one. 

Voting is a sacred and sovereign right, but the exercise of that right risks control by those who covet control over the nation, its wealth and its resources. By voting, you begin to balance that power. By asserting that right, you hold the ultimate power in this nation. each of us proves reasonably who we are and affirms our eligibility when we register to vote. the vote itself is  supposed to be anonymous. It was designed to be that way, free of intimidation, because intimidation is the surest way to corrupt an election. Defend the Vote, the Tea Party and the Right have undertaken a full-scale effort to intimidate voters at every level.

Over the coming weeks Awakened America will expose this group and help empower people to truly defend the vote, not as a means of exclusion, by rather by inclusion. And if you want a bit of common sense, hardly cartoonish, and ultimately unassailable, a few elections ago there was alarm over the pallid turn out of Americans to the polls. While that has improved slightly, we should still be embarrassed at how few of us actually excercise that right. Given that, why would it make sense to actively exclude whole groups of Americans as Defend the Vote is doing? On the front of their page the group says “The Trouble begins with ballot access.” What could be more clear? Indeed, when the Right came to terms that they couldn’t win fairly, the only logical step was to begin cleaving away potential opposition.

But this is the tactic of the Right. They are not out to win fairly in an election, because they can’t. The Right has become so extreme they couldn’t win the presidency if they were giving out free hamburgers for every vote. They have to steal it, and steal it they will if we allow them to. they are actively and aggressively attempting to disenfranchise voters across this nation. Not a few hundred here or a few thousand there, but millions and hundreds of thousands at a time.

Bear in mind that intimidation by any other name is still intimidation. But if we can stop them here, turn the light on this absolute crime against the right to vote and the democratic process,  we can go a long way of stopping them for good. Your partnership with Awakened America, Chicago’s Progressive Talk on WCPT am820, 7am Saturdays is crucial to that fight. Stay tuned and get in the game…


Breaking News: 900poundgorilla has recieved word that as many as 500 Tea Party and GOP thugs are heading to Illinois to intimidate voters at the polls in the coming weeks. Details remain sketchy, but watch here for updates as the story unfolds, and listen to Awakened America on WCPT am820 this Saturday at 7am in Chicago. We will be posting more on the Awakened America Facebook page. Like the page and stay informed to this exclusive story, or call us at 773-763-WCPT for your news of interest…

Listen to 900poungorilla’s WC Turck Saturdays at 7am on Chicago’s Progressive Talk WCPT am820, live with Marshall Stern and Brian Murray of Permacult.tv. Get updates and weigh in at the Awakened America Facebook page…If you are tired of talk, talk, talk radio, how about do something radio for a change?


A note on this week’s show…

Someone left the backdoor open to the media’s little party, and 900poundgorilla with PermacultTV intends to get into that party and shake things up a bit…

Before this goes too far, let me first say that I am deeply indebted to a good friend, and host of Awakened America, Marshall Stern, on Chicago’s Progressive Talk radio, WCPT am820. He had faith enough to prop that back door open to the media party. The efforts I’m putting into the show are in no small part inspired by him.

On today’s show I interviewed Nick Crow(which is an awesome name if you are  a crime novelist), reporter for the Freeport, Illinois Journal Standard about the Sensata plant closing. to catch up the unfamiliar…because the Left has gone wild about the story and the Right has been conspiratorially silent…Romney’s company, Bain capital, has outsourced the entire factory to China. The loss of the factory will immediately put 170 people out of decent paying/benefit offering jobs. It will also carve $7.5 million annually from this town of 25,000. Sensata was a profitable company. The outsourced workers were not only replaced by Chinese workers making .99 cents and hour, but the Freeport workers were made to train their Chinese replacements.  There, you are caught up.

This story has become a circus, and there is a fair amount of cynicism, confirmed by Mr. Crow(really awesome name), by the outsourced Freeport workers that when the election is over the media attention will disappear as well. More over, there is this narrative being spun by Democrats that Romney will come down from on high with a royal edict to restore the company and the jobs. Maybe 6 months ago in some Republic Windows and Doors SEIU-type occupation and sit-in, but not now. Not with the extremism now characterizing the Right, which Romney panders to, if he isn’t actually beholden to it completely. The Freeport plant will be shuttered before the end of the year. Some workers are already gone. Half the machinery in the factory is in China.

After the show I took  several calls from friends listening in, most of whom were shocked  at how we came to the story. After watching a sudden avalanche of attention to the story in the media I was struck that the media was painting something of an illusion. Were we  cynical in our coverage of the story? Yes. Sometimes there are no happy endings. Sometimes the hero doesn’t make it from the caboose to the engine of the runaway train as always happens in the movies. Sometimes that train goes off the rails and into the canyon. This train is off the rails.

It is time for a shift in paradigms, which is not at all any easy accomplishment. It takes a culture to change a paradigm. For example, are we truly in a recession? Or have you been told by the media so comprehensively and exhaustively, that whether or not it is actually true, the paradigm convinces us of our new reality? It’s a damn near impossible question to tackle from within the paradigm. And who would believe you? 

It has become a paradigm in this culture. We hardly notice this sort of media narco-narrative that reinforces the idyllic illusion of a fully marketed and media constructed American Dream. It is full a means of control and sedation. We expect that Joe Worker will lose his job, get foreclosed on but get a puppy. This is the fiction  built into our culture by the corporate and status quo media, to such an extent that we begin to parrot that fiction as it becomes bedrock to the culture.

The truth is, nothing in this nation, no freedom, right or privilege was given, and none were given lightly. They came after terrible bloodshed and oppression, through great and ultimate sacrifice, beneath boot and truncheon or in prison. But some part of us believes that Mitt Romney, at the 11th hour will fall to his knees beneath a pillar of heavenly light (wearing his magic underwear), and succumb to true self-sacrificing humanity. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but I’m not seeing it here.

So what is the endgame? What is the lesson? The lesson is that we will have to fight these people, and we’ve done a piss-poor job of it up to now. If we’d done a better job, Romney and Bain executives would be in jail for pulling a Freeport on us. We rise up by the hundreds of thousands as part of the 99% only to quit after a few months and in the face of a few arrests or a corrupted and corporate-controlled media. The lesson of Freeport, and those 170 good souls is that it should never have been allowed to happen in a so-called god-fearing nation. But that ship has sailed, and with that the lesson remaining is whether we draw the line at Freeport and finally stand to fight, because the only thing that will prevent this from becoming more rampant than it already is through the force of our bodies and our votes standing together.

There is  a fight here, but it cannot be a call to arms, but rather a time to stand. I can get on the radio and play and agitate and play the spoiler to the media’s private little party, but I cannot make  a decision to act for anyone other than myself. The decision to stand for something, or stand against injustice comes from within. The question then becomes: will you stand?


Freeport, Bain, Romney and the Big Quiet

Romney slipped this one past the pundits and fact checkers. Factcheck.org was absent. Obama barely put up a fight. The networks, well we know who they work for. But there was one group he couldn’t get the truth past, but those folks have been silenced, just as surely as if they’d been censored.

Here’s the deal. I’m a novelist. I write literature; musing and observations and commentaries on the human soul. The last few years I’ve had less and less a chance to pursue pertinent forays into the human psyche because my country is in trouble.  Not socialist/communist the deficit is too high trouble, but 1920’s Germany sort of trouble. There, fervent nationalism was promulgated by this sort of willful ignorance of the general population, as long as there was someone else to blame. It was not the Nazis or Adolf Hitler. An entire population does not get off that easy for all that transpired in the ensuing 2 decades up to and including the Second World War.  Hitler and the Nazis were  opportunists, and conductors to the orchestra of nationalism. The national press in Germany at the time were their willing propagandists.

Before you think I’ve gone too far in bringing in the Nazi’s to this, it’s important to establish precisely what I’m referring to. First, nationalism is a template. It works exactly the same every time, in every place and in every culture. I saw it first hand in Miloshevich’s Serbia during the break-up of Yugoslavia and in Rwanda during the genocide. For better than 20 years I have feverishly dissected nationalist movements the world over, in dozens of different cultures, from Mao’s Cultural Revolution to Hezbollah.

Simply, this is the template for ardent nationalism:  a willing Press, and a complacent population create the fertile environment. secure the Press then establish a victim demographic, an external threat, an internal betrayer and establish an ideal. For the Nazis it was true Aryans as the victim demographic, communists as the external threat, the Jews as internal betrayer-the so-called morally corrupt bourgeoisie. Today, in America, traditional American values(white people) are the victim demographic, Islam and European Socialism the enemy and Liberals the betrayers. 

In support of every nationalist movement is a complicit Press. It is either fervent in its capacity to ascend to absolute banality, or eager in its willingness to subvert all but the power elite. The venom and vitriol the media levelled upon the Occupy movement indicates a complicity, if not outright conspiracy to abscure necessary truths from the American people, at the very least. And so we come full circle to the Vaudevillian theater of the Presidential campaign.

“You said you get a deduction for taking a plant overseas. Look, I’ve been in business for 25 years,” said Mitt Romney during the October 3rd presidential debate, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grQTuIYnreg&feature=youtu.be

So where is the Press, when he clearly lied to the American people. Romney knew full well, when he made that statement that his company, Bain capiltal was shuttering a profitable plant in the iconic midwest town of Freeport Illinois. For history buffs, you’ll recall Freeport as the site of the second Lincoln Douglas debate in 1858, and arguably the place where, in a misstatement Douglas split the Democratic party over slavery and paved the way for Lincoln to win. It was dubbed the Freeport Heresy, which perhaps is appropriote to Romney’s, shall we say, misstatement during the debate.

Romney’s company, from which he made $8 million last year, that’s $8 million, $8 million, bought Sensata Technologies, a profitable company( a very profitable company) and is shutting it down, which will all but bankrupt and destroy Freeport Illinois, not to mention the 170 who worked there. They are sending it to China for no other reason in that “more” is a never-ending concept. More is never enough. More is the soul of greed. Indeed, they had the American workers train their Chinese replacements. Just 40 minutes south of Janesville Wisconsin, Freeport is practically in Paul Ryan’s backyard. http://investors.sensata.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=210277&p=irol-homeProfile&t=&id http://www.pbn.com/Sensata-3Q-in-the-black-but-9-mo-a-loss,62007?search_filter=sensata+technologies&sub_type=stories,packages

Romney and Ryan are right, and Obama is wrong. America is failing. Not because of its people, or  through some endemic penchant for socialistic narratives, like welfare, social security, medicare or national healthcare. America is failing as long as it refuses to stand against the abject and perverse abuse by companies like Bain and their champions like Romney and Ryan. It fails as long as Americans passively accept the propaganda and manipulation paraded as information and news. It fails as long as all of us collectively act as if freedom and democracy  are spectator  rather than participation sports. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/10/13/1144033/-American-flag-taken-down-in-Freeport-company-outsourced-by-Bain


On tomorrow’s show, what do Chicago Muslims think about the unrest overseas, about the film insulting Muhammad, and the First Amendment. Join me for a rational discussion with Chicago Muslims free of the Rightwing spin and hyperbole.

On my radio  show tomorrow, WCPT am820 7am in Chicago, we’ll talk to Chicago Muslims for their take on the unrest overseas, and the first amanedment issue regarding the Youtube video at the heart of the controversy. Should it be banned? Is it hate speech? Taking your calls at 773-763-9278.

Also, an update from Dr. Lora Chamberlain, environmental activist and Mother Earth’s own personal physician.

 


Pounding a Drum: Chicago teachers come out and Speak up!

Join me on the radio in Chicago,WCPT  am820 at 10am this Saturday. This will be the occupy anniversary, and I can’t think of a more fitting way to commemorate than by giving the microphone to the Chicago Teachers. In the studio will be David Orlikoff and Brian Murray from Occupy Chicago. We’ll be taking your calls, teachers, about the challenges you face in your classroom, and efforts to continually undermine the quality of education in Chicago.

I’d like to get as many teachers on as possible, so have a good hard pitch so we can get as many voices on as possible.

Call in at 773-763-9278. If the strike runs into next week, we’ll do it again the following Saturday.

You have a voice here on Chicago’s only Progressive station. Pass this on, spread the word and be heard!


The Right made noise about the DNC vote controversy about restoring “God” into the DNC platform, as well as declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Where are the questions about why it is necessary for Americans to declare their belief in a diety out of pretend shame, like some playground dare. Moreover, why in an American political election is the internal politics of another nation allowed to exert pressure on our elected officials? It is not about god or Israel but about pressure from a foreign nation upon the United States. The controversy was not in the vote, but in those who would inject it into the election. What is their loyalty? Who is pushing that issue? Why are they co-opting our politics for a foreign nations? Why do we tolerate that at all? That is the real question.

Catch 900poundgorilla live on WCPT am890 on Awakened America this saturday 10am CST.


21 Days in May: an Occupy novella, part Twenty- Four

They  began gathering in Grant Park before dawn before marching to the Mayor’s home on the north side of the city. Five hundred or so took over the street to make their demands known directly to the Mayor,  without allowing him the insulation and isolation of city hall. They closed down the street shouted their life and death grievances to the Mayor’s empty home, surrounded by police in riot gear, shaming him to his neighbors. That done they turned back towards downtown to join their brothers and sisters marching against the injustice of the three activists being held on trumped-up terrorism charges.

Tim and Beth Alberts were just posing for wedding photographs when the protesters passed. Beth, scooping up the trail of her white dress, her bridesmaids, aghast at the audacity of the protesters to intrude and spoil her picture-perfect wedding, snarled. Beth threw a fit.

“Dumb bitch,” remarked Blaze, as he and Rebel Rose sat on the wall beside the river. Rebel reached across her lap top and smacked him in the head. He howled, but more for surprise than pain. “What was…?”

“That’s for being an asshole,” said Rose. “It’s her wedding, you idiot.”

“Look at her and her perfect Clark Kent husband, with that limo and, clearly there one percenters.”

“You can’t just say everybody in the one percent is evil.” She frowned and pounded out some long string of code into her laptop. Like Blaze, her fingers were working madly, her mind, her eyes taking in the dozens of boxes and lines of code filling her screen, with all the minute concentration of a musician riffing on a line of music. It was reactive, intuitive, her mind and body at one with the spectacular rush of images before her.  Indeed, she was almost in a trance.

“What do you care for those people anyway?” Blaze remarked almost warily over the prospect of another swipe by Rose.

“You can’t just shit on people,” she scolded. “They had a right to their life.”

“What are we here for then?”

“Remind them of their responsibility.”

Blaze leaned into the screen of his computer. “What’s this?”

“What?”

“I got jack buying three cars last week from some scumbag suburban used car place.”

“Jack?”

“Yeah but I got like a dozen calls by our mister Angelo/Carrera. So I did a little search. Seems the previous owner was indicted on all these organized crime things.”

“And?” Rose said with typical impatience, “or do I have to smack you again?”

“The old man went to jail. His son runs the place now.”

“What the hell would Angelo want with three cars in Jack’s name?” Rose pondered, then pulled out her cellphone. “I have to call Eva.”

By four there was again a standoff on the Michigan Avenue bridge, the police preventing the marchers from crossing to the so-called Magnificent Mile, to the consumptive shrines of Water Tower Place, Neiman Marcus , Nike and H & M. tensions were peaking now. Jessie Jackson Junior appealed for non-violence

“We learned from Dr. King in Birmingham,” he told those gathered. “We can’t afford to have out message hijacked by acts of provocation.”

Turning, they marched south chanting, “Who’s streets? Our streets!” Bringing Michigan Avenue to a halt. Their thousands swarmed over the street, flanked by police. They would fight for those long-held and bloodily fought for civil rights, even if those they fought for her stoic or hostile to the effort.

At 18th street the police halted the march, refusing to let them pass. Emotions rose in proportion, a hand full of protesters refused to be  turned back. A brief scuffles ensued at the curb. Suddenly a man emerged from within the police ranks, red-faced and taunting the gathered protesters. Middle-aged,  with a military style haircut, dressed in plain clothes, he  very obviously intended to intimidate the protesters and drive a confrontation that would justify a heavy-handed response against the twenty-five hundred marchers. He stood solidly among their ranks. Not a single officer, no Sergeant or lieutenant made the least effort to curtail or control him.

“Come over here, goddamnit!” he screamed drawing a mix of reactions from the officers lining the street. “I’ll fuckin’ kill you! Come on! Come on!”

“Can you say You tube moment?” a protesters shouted back. “V for viral!”

“Come on!” the man screamed, as cameras and cellphones arose like a digital jury that would be spread around the planet in moments. “I’ll take you all! Come on, goddamnit!”

More activists chanted, “We love you” and “peace, man.”

The police fully intended to control and direct the movement, which led to several scuffles but no arrests. The news would later describe that batteries and bottles were thrown at police, which was a complete fabrication. Some yelled epithets at the police, but they were marginalized and very few and far between. In truth, most of the police were polite and professional, the protesters, controlled and determined. It was a testament to their professionalism, as sad and unjust as their assigned mission was.

The sun was a force, playing heavily on the marchers and police alike, the temperatures soaring to more than ninety. Among the protesters, veterans of all of the recent wars back to Vietnam, ACLU monitors, human rights witnesses, and nurses. Overhead, police and military helicopters hovered, keeping a watchful eye. The military state, the willing dupes of a corporate oligarchy, flexed its muscle making it clear that rights were merely a tolerance of the state, the constitution a fool’s pursuit, as the state had rendered it meaningless, butchering those ignoble words by statutes with suicidal words like “safety” and “public order.”

All across the city the corporate propagandists in the media continued the steady drumbeat denouncing the protests. Again and again they complained that the movement did not  stand for anything, or stood for too much all at once. These were tactics to obscure a message they had no intention of hearing, let along reporting. The media focused relentlessly on hope for violence. WBBM’s John Cody brought a near sexual obsession in his unwavering focus on the specter of violence.

What was interesting is how the freedom of speech could be so easily ignored, or worse, that the media would completely turn a blind ear from the protests, and how to accomplish that so fully for their corporate masters that violence became its singular focus. It was a partnership with the police and city hall, and more importantly by NATO that aided the ultimate strategy, which was to obscure and conceal any truths about what was being discussed in those private meetings. What did get out was highly polished edited and crafted reports fully in keeping with the same state-controlled messaging that characterized the Miloshevich regime in Serbia during the Balkan wars on the Nineties.

Where were the tea parties? Where was the NRA, and the second amendment types? Simply the suggestion of photo IDs for gun owners brought them into the streets by the…dozens? They claimed it would not keep guns out of the hands of criminals, but each state requires a driver’s license even though that doesn’t stop car thieves. But they were silent on this staggering assault first amendment predicted instead the negotiability of their rights as well, for the state, and corporate governance was eroding all American’s civil liberties. It begged the question that if a populace so lazy and indifferent to the loss of those rights, do they deserve them at all?   

At State and Harrison the protesters attempted a march on the jail holding the three now accused of terrorism. So far no proof had been offered by prosecutors, only accusations and the flimsiest sort of hearsay evidence. Suddenly a line of police appeared, blocking their way, and donning riot gear. Some carried shields, most held their wooden truncheons at the ready. Their appearance was so quick, there could be no doubt they were provoking confrontation. Emotions peaked at the police readied clubs and prepared to charge against the tightly massed activists. A bullhorn resound from amid the protest. Everyone braced for an assault by the police.

“Mic check!” the speaker began, as hundreds repeated, their voices resounding among the tall buildings. “We are asking the CPD to stand aside. Let us pass. We wish to protest against the illegal arrest of our brothers and petition for their immediate release!”

The police edged forward and clashed briefly with a dozen or so protesters attempting to breach the blockade and assert their rights to redress a grievance. A call went up to link arms and hundreds formed solid ranks facing truncheons and armored officers. This, this was the assertion of the god-given rights that the Right wing talks about but doesn’t support in practice. This was the push back against a complete surrender to corporate power to bully and rule the nation.  This was but one battle for the life of the nation.

He didn’t know it, but if Eva couldn’t figure what Angelo and the Koffers were up to, he had only hours to live and the heavy hand of the law would fall mercilessly upon the movement…


21 Days in May: an Occupy novella, part twenty-three

 

Attacks on Chicago police stations, Obama office were planned, prosecutors say

NBC’s Chuck Todd reports on the foiled plot to disrupt the NATO summit by attacking targets in Chicago with Molotov cocktails, including President Obama’s campaign headquarters.

By Miranda Leitsinger, msnbc.com

Updated at 8 p.m. ET CHICAGO — Three anti-NATO protesters charged with terrorism conspiracy planned to attack four Chicago police stations, the local campaign headquarters for President Barack Obama and the home of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, prosecutors alleged in court Saturday.

Plans were made to destroy police cars and attack four CPD stations with destructive devices, in an effort to undermine the police response” to attacks on the Obama office, the Emanuel home as well as unspecified financial institutions during the NATO summit this weekend, the charging statement said.

The men were identified as 22-year-old Brian Church, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; 27-year-old Jared Chase, of Keene, N.H.; and 24-year-old Brent Betterly, who told police he resides in Massachusetts. 

The three are “self-proclaimed anarchists, and members of the ‘Black Bloc’ group,” prosecutors said, without elaborating.

Michael Deutsch, an attorney for the men, denied that and said the men and their friends were in Chicago to “peaceably protest.”

The three were charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, possession of an explosive or incendiary device and providing material support for terrorism. Bond of $1.5 million was set for each defendant… 

 

 “Danny?” said the booming voice at the other end of the telephone. “Big John Bohannon.”

Dan felt he was being monitored, and Bohannon shared the same suspicion. It wouldn’t be safe to be anywhere near a phone

“Johnny, thinking of taking an early supper.”

“The old place?’ he said purposely vague.

“Been a while, partner. Half an hour?”

“Fifteen,” said Bohannon. This time of day on a Friday no one could get to them in less than a half hour.

They met at Demon dogs on Milwaukee, where the two men frequented when they were partners. Dan informed the dispatcher and switched off his radio. He guided the squad into the BP station on the corner and left his radio and cellphone under the seat. Bohannon was waiting already with two Demon dogs and fries served in the joints signature box. They found a seat outside at the back of the restaurant.

“Looks like it will be a crazy weekend,” Dan said, taking a bite of his dog.

“Makes me nervous your this close to all this mess, Dan.”

“What did you find?”

“Something’s up,” said Big John. “I checked out your boy with an old FBI buddy. Gotta tell you he was pretty nervous about looking this guy up, and more nervous after. Some scary people, Dan. Your boy is into all sorts of black ops. I couldn’t get details, but its heavy, under-cover, never know about it in a thousand years shit.”

“What’s he doing in Chicago masquerading as a protester, and putting all this energy into my neice’s husband?”

“Don’t know. Maybe one or both of them are mixed up with those guys with the bombs down in Bridgeport.”

Dan scoffed. “Aw, come on, John, you know that’s trumped up to increase pressure on the protesters and freak out the public. Those guys were targeted from the start by posting that video.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxBJIWdHvD0&feature=relmfu

“Sounding like  a hippie radical, there, Dan.”

“All I care about is the law and what’s right and wrong, and this stinks big.”

“Well, then you’ll really love this,” said John. “Seems a couple of FBI snipers got bumped off the roof of the Field Museum.”

“I don’t follow.”

“A new team will be up there from a security company that Representative Rand set up a few months ago. Seems he’s looking to secure a security contract for his new company and asked that these guys  be on the detail.”

“I don’t see…”

“They won’t report to anyone. Freelancers.”

“Names?”

“A couple of former merc from Afghanistan>”

“John, what the hell is going on?”

The big man stood, pursed his lips and shook his head once. “I’d warn you to walk away from this one and hope that it all works out for your niece, but something tells me you won’t.”

 

 

It was a game for Blaze and Rebel Rose, but a deadly serious one. The goal, as they sat across from each other in the small plaza, beside a Chagall mosaic, they piggyback on a nearby businessman’s WiFi, not that he would have ever known. The goal, to break into Koffer Industries security system, or anything else they could get into at Koffer Industries and root around for anything to help Jack and Eva, and the growing suspicious that something terrible was in the offing for  the Occupy movement.

A few blocks away, police blocked protesters from crossing the Michigan Avenue bridge. Along Franklin, sixty heavily armed officers in riot gear oiled into ten big white unmarked vans and raced off at high speed to bolster their ranks at the bridge.

“In  yet, bitch?” Rebel chided.

Blaze frowned without looking up at her. “Getting there.”

“You hack like my grandmother screws.”

“Frequently and without remorse,” he shot back bringing a laugh from Rebel.

“Well I am in and , holy shit!”

“What?”

“I’m scrolling through the security tapes from elevators.”

“Wow, you are a hacking genius,” he teased.

Rebel spun the laptop around. “Eat this, freak.”

She’d managed to get the security camera trained on the hall to Tom Koffer’s office. It didn’t actually show the office, but the sign on the wall beside the elevator reading “Mr Koffer: By appointment only.” There was a date at the bottom of the screen and a time scrolling quickly. And though there was no audio, the video was clear.

“How did you find the right…?’

Angelo appeared, leaving Tom Koffer’s office. As Rebel Rose talked, Blaze was typing madly in his own computer.

“Simple, I just typed it in once I got into the system and it came right up. You guys always overthink shit.’

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you downloading this sh…Oh, crap, our piggyback is about to leave.”

The unsuspecting guy was pack up his things, walking his lunch trash over to the garbage. Rebel Rose was already up, stopping him before he reached his things.

“Got a cigarette?” she asked.

“Don’t smoke, said the guy, looking to be in his early to mid thirties, in an expensive suit.

“Can I ask you a question?”

“I don’t really have anything to spare,” he replied mechanically, thinking the punkish young girl was hitting him up for money.

“Not that,” she flirted. “You are silly. My very gay friend over there said you would never go out with a girl like me and…”

He waved his hand in the air, showing off a gold wedding band. “Married.”

“Married, not dead, and I right?”

He laughed uncomfortably. Rebel kept blocking him from the computer. “I, uh, I really have to get back.”

“Aw,” she groaned, “so I am going to lose the bet. I will never live this down.”

“Listen, I’m sure you are a very lovely girl, but…”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to freak you out. It’s just, I never really liked guys my own age and I was watching you and thought you were really attractive…

“I really have to…” a blush rising to his cheeks.

Blaze turned and threw a thumb in the  air. “Got it!”

“What’s he got?” asked the man.

“Aids,” she said. “He’s got Aids. Got to go!”

They scooped up their things and laughed all the way down Dearborn until they reached the river. The battle for the Michigan Avenue Bridge was over, the protesters turning south.  Blaze and Rebel scrolled through several days of footage before a familiar face appeared. They isolated the video, then the video of two other “military types” who appeared a few minutes later.

“Who are these assholes?”

Rebel shrugged. She’d been working on something else as well of a couple of days. She was fighting all sorts of encryption, firewalls and protocols at three of the largest cellphone companies, scrolling through customer lists once she was in. At last the name she was looking for popped up. A little extra digging and call lists came up. There were a number of calls placed from Rand to Koffer’s office. Rebel and Blaze hadn’t a clue what exactly it meant, but they could now connect all five men.

“We have to  find Eva.”

 

Angelo thought this could go a number of ways. He was prepared for each of them. He was too close to the end of the mission, a time in which the humanity of the so-called collateral damage was incidental. The mission was at the tipping point; to one side disaster, and to the other side success. He approached the couple, unable to read their expressions. He stopped at the table. There was a pistol in his pocket. His hand was on it, and he was prepared to use it if necessary.

Given everything he knew now, somewhere deep down inside Jack grew an indefinable rage. For what Angelo had done to his family, there was a part of him that wished to choke the life out of the man. When Angelo held out a hand, jack thought to play along.

“I’m sorry about that shit at the GA,” said Angelo,  “but I…can I sit?”

Angelo didn’t wait for an answer. He sat beside Eva. She chewed her lip, thinking that her heart might beat from her chest.

“I know who set you up, but I need your help. I’m  supposed to meet him Sunday at the protest. Come with me and we’ll clear this whole thing up.”

“If you know all this, why don’t you just go to the police?” said Jack.

“Because I can’t, not without proof, and he has it. We take care of that and you’re home free and back with your family. You and Eva want that, don’t you?”

“Can I talk to Eva alone for a minute?”

Jack had to go. Eva was against it and wanted to go to the police with what they knew. But there was no way. The police wouldn’t buy the conspiracy angle without direct proof, and that was still lacking. There was no choice. Eva followed them into the street as they disappeared down Wells. She pulled her phone and returned the SIM card and battery and snapped them back into place. There was a new voice mail. It was rebel Rose.


21 Days in May: an Occupy novella, part twenty-two

Exclusion zone. The authorities might have used Spielberg’s plotline from Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” in which the government panicked ranchers and small town folk away from Devil’s Tower, making them believe a nerve agent was some apocalyptically deadly disease. The goal was to make sure only a chosen few ever really knew about the aliens arrival at the mountain.

Downtown Chicago was Devil’s Tower, and the aliens here were the NATO leaders come to make war decisions without questioning to the mounting monumental funds being allotted, primarily to the benefit of big business. One only had to look at the veterans benefits already being slashed by this government, while cuts to the defense industry were never once or ever seriously in question.

But a city of eight million can’t be emptied, and so fear must become the ultimate tool of the exclusion. A message can’t be extinguished in a free society, and so dissent must be statuted to death in favor of public safety. A no-fly zone was declared over the city-no doubt because protesters had learned to fly as well, or that waves of terrorist Kamikazes were waiting in the wings. Military and police helicopters filled the skies and Air Force F-16s buzzed the city and would be on patrol through the weekend.  The Chicago Tribune advertised their online constant updates to navigating NATO protests. Cordons of police, some in riot gear were ubiquitous everywhere. Scowling private security was suddenly prominent in front of near every building. Companies circulated security and commuting alerts, and many closed early Friday and closed completely for Monday. The Boeing plaza and building were entirely sealed off, all of this supposedly over the specter of the violence by protesters. The papers called downtown the Red Zone, but it was truly an Exclusion Zone.

Jack’s mind was spinning, those thoughts complicated by the excitement he felt at seeing Eva, if only for a few precious moments. He was thinking of the Bridgeport Nine, and how simple it was to plant the notion in the public’s perception that the protesters had a terrorist side. But that they had very obviously been set up as a means to discredit Occupy and add a new level of fear to the public oddly gave Jack a bit of hope, though it was likewise wrapped in a single heartbreaking realization.

This intimidation was nothing short of a direct attack, the de facto criminalization against a legal political ideology, and that was Liberalism and progressivism, both entirely at odds with the power and influence aspirations of corporate and banking power. The police,  who belonged to unions attacked by that power, who relied on affordable healthcare under attack by that power, and who would retire to a social security pension lusted after by that power became the blunt-force dupes for that power. No one was detaining militant gun rights advocates, or storming into the apartments of rabid anti-abortionists. This was a new, insidious and violent America. It was the institutionalization of oppression against points of view and the assumption of promised constitutional rights now under direct revocation by a militaristic security state.

Jack took advantage of the construction chaos in the south loop to skirt the authorities. For a time that beautifully warm afternoon those tall downtown canyons of shadow and light were as hectic as ever. The rally in Daley Plaza by National Nurses United challenged the security forces, if not in numbers then certainly in passion, demanding a penny, a penny, A PENNY tax from financial transaction trades to pay for healthcare in America. The cheers of almost 3000 gathered challenged the security helicopters hovering overhead.

He slipped into an alley off Van Buren Street, pausing behind a garbage dumpster as a line of bicycle police passed on Jackson Street. It was just past the lunch hour, and the sidewalk crowds were already thinning. Jack stepped from the Alley and turned east, as if he was stepping into a rushing river.

A few years back he and Eva had stumbled upon a lunch-rush spot called “Lukes” between Wells and Adams. The place served decent fast-food fair for the price, which is what made the place so popular. From noon to one-ish weekdays seating in red plastic chairs and faux-wood Formica tables was at premium. Eva always loved the French fries here, a silly thing, but any city-slicker worth their salt (no pun intended) could rattle off a list of their top ten places from fries in the city. The tables were emptying quickly now.  Jack found one facing the door and waited.

A few away, Angelo hovered over a laptop in a Starbucks. He’d been tracking Eva through much of the day. He’d tracked her to the Loop, where she’d hovered at the fringes of the Nurses rally before slowly moving south. He’d picked the Starbucks as a sort of base of operations to lead him to Jack. When she turned off her phone at Adams and Dearborn it made little difference. The program that allowed him to track her by the cellphone was simple. He could switch it on when he chose without her knowledge to hear everything she was saying. It was a tactic coalition forces had uses successfully against the Taliban in Afghanistan.   

Eva failed to notice but she passed right by him on the way to meet Jack. She was anxious, and could almost feel the throngs of police she passed on each corner watching her, as if they all knew the secret she kept, as if they were all waiting for her to lead them directly to Jack. He packed up and followed at a distance. Everything was falling right into place, thought Angelo.

She was almost trembling when she reached Lukes, more so when she spotted a lost and forlorn looking Jack sitting at a table alone. He looked a sight, exhausted, in need of a shave, and almost silly in the Cubs hat and Jersey. A wave of intense emotion, far too complex to describe in mere words swept her.  She pulled open the door and went in. Jack noticed her immediately, as if there was some ethereal bond connecting them. He didn’t stand, but his eyes widened and his mouth fell open as if he might suddenly cry out. Eva noted a light come to his face that was absent there a moment before.

Eva slid into the chair opposite Jack and couldn’t help take his cold hand in hers. It was as much excitement as they dared. Not thirty yards away Angelo had found a new vantage point from which to monitor them both. He opened the laptop and activated Eva’s phone. Luke’s was loud, and the sounds were muffled in Eva’s pocket, but he could make out their voices through the earphones plugged into the laptop well enough.

“Jack you look terrible,” Eva said. She wanted to fly out of the seat and hold him, kiss him and take him home.

“Yeah, well,” he said, swept in his own tidal wave of emotion. “… anyway, you look, I am so sorry for all this.”

“Jack,” she lowered her voice a bit. The place was emptying out more quickly now. “Jack, I know you are innocent.”

“I hope so.”

“No, and I can…”

Jack cut her off; suddenly worried they could be monitored. “Wait, I need a pen.”

Eva pulled a pen from her purse and gave it to Jack. He took a napkin from a nearby table and scribbled quickly these words. “Take the SIM card from your phone.”

She looked at him confused. Jack scribbled again.

“We can be monitored even if the phone is off.”

Quickly she pulled off the back of the phone and removed the battery, which has better than half the weight of the palm-sized phone. The SIM card came out easily  with a slight press of the thumb. Angelo’s  signal went dead. He swore under his breath. Eva leaned close to Jack.

“Remember Blasé and Rebel Rose?”

“Of course, they…”

“They did a little snooping. Your friend Angelo is not who he pretends. He’s a mercenary named Carrera, Jack, and somehow he’s connected to the Koffer brothers and Koffer Industries, and all that ALEC bullshit. And then yesterday I see that Republican Congressman Rand calling Occupy terrorists.”

“Nothing new with him.”

“Jack, he was coming out of Koffer Industries.”

Pieces suddenly came together. Jack sat back, staring away into space. His eyes flashed to Eva’s. She knew as well.

“So he framed me for some…to discredit the protests…But how does one person figure in that. The police were able to do that easy enough with those arrests down in Bridgeport. Why go through all of this…?”

“I don’t know, unless this is bigger than what the police were doing.”

“It has to…” Jack stopped, the blood running from his face, as if he’d seen a ghost. His gaze was to the door. Eva turned to find Angelo standing there.

 


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