Tag Archives: teachers union

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!


Overheard a rumor, that the Mayor’s office was infiltrating the teacher’s protest in order to gain intelligence…

Confirmed that Paul Ryan sides fully with Rahm over his handling of the teacher’s union. If that singular fact doesn’t mandate a single term and walk of shame for the Mayor out of office, nothing will.


A LIBERAL CALLS OUT MSNBC: Moving the ball forward for the Right on election campaign reform

Generally, I enjoy Chris Hayes weekends on MSNBC, but I constantly must remind myself that Mr. Hayes, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow and the rest of their line-up are still part of the problem of corporate and power-elite-status-quo control of the discourse and messaging of critical national issues. While MSNBC is routinely “demonized” by FOX and pundits on the Right as far Left wing, it is not-by a long shot.

To support that, I point to the “buy American” push, particularly by Ed Schultz. Recall, this was a rightwing and nationalist mantra following NAFTA. Just as they did in the lead up to Iraq, MSNBC, for all their Liberal bent has missed the real solution to jobs in America and the necessary equitible trade worldwide, and that is not some pseudo-Ron Paul-esque economic isolationism, but forcing international corporations to adhere to wage and safety and pollution reforms regardless of where they are. If GE-owned MSNBC was truly as Liberal as the Right asserts, they would recognize first that mankind is global, and globalization was the direction of the species from those first steps from an African Valley 2 million years ago.

What prompted this article was a roundtable discussion on Chris Hayes’ Sunday morning show about the 2009 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling that allows Corporations, and Unions, to spend unlimited amounts of money to promote candidates and policy, effectively erasing the one man one vote cornerstone of our democracy by overwhelming free discourse through propaganda and false messaging.http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/08-205.ZS.html
With a decptively benign name like Citizens United, the group is in fact a filthy little cabal of Republican hacks in the vein of Andrew Breitbart, with a bias towards editing for innuendo over fact and truth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_(organization)

That’s the background, but on this morning’s show Mr. Hayes had Jack Abramoff, the convicted lobbyist who was unequivical in saying that overturning Citizens United would never happen, because it is fundamental to Conservatives in this country. The statement went virtually unchallenged. Aside the traitorous acts committed by Mr. Abramoff, which did immeasurable damage to this democracy, why would MSNBC legitimize such a character? Because, at the heart of MSNBC is a large mult-national corporation, with significant interests in issues ner and dear to the true powers in this nation (Hint: It isn’t Right, Left, Libertarian or even American).

The Corporate media is overt and subversive alike in its crafting and molding of cultures and nations. It does so to create markets as to define and secure them.

Advertising creates ideals, standards and affirms stereotypes on one hand, while the media carries and promotes those messages. The recent purchase of The Weather Channel by NBC Universal, Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group highlights the effort of Multi-national Corporations and firms to devour media outlets and control what Americans sees, hears, discusses and votes upon. Blackstone bought Neilsen-the rating people in 2006 along with other partners like the Carlyle Group. Bain, by the way is owned by Mitt Romney, and owns Clear Channel, the largest owner of radio stations in the country. Its “news” talk format is 90% rightwing, with Beck, Savage, Limbaugh and Hannity leading that charge, despite that 90% of the country does not vote Republican. Bain also owns or invests in AMC Entertainment and Warner Music group.

So there is real pressure, and undeniable evidence that Liberal MSNBC is hardly a Liberal thinktank, but instead has slipped into a market not served blatantly by FOX as a means, not to promote Progressive ideals, but as a means, as prescribed by their corporate owners, to nudge the message forward far more subtley that FOX can do. But the effort is the same, and in the end it comes down to control-not politics.

The strategy is to create paradigms not cultures, as paradigms become absolute realities that are much harder to find alternatives to or see beyond. Imagine what it would be to breath fire, or breathe watter as a means of survival, and that air and wind could be as deadly as we find those others. Those are other paradigms. That is what corporations are evolving to in a greater and greater consolidation of power and influence. Think back over the last 50 or 100 years about where corporations were and where they are today, with interlocking partnerships and boards, and their ascent to controlling almost fully govenments worldwide.

Now imagine this paradigm. With all that power to control the message and assert culture, a group of people have challenged that by Occupy parks have the power elite absolutely terrified. Now that is a message!


Video of Marines Urinating on Taliban Dead…and here is why it is wrong.

I have a history with this, having witnessed the Mock execution of a Serbian POW in the mountains above Sarajevo in October 1994. The incident is detailed in my book, Everything for Love. I am certain the young man from the neighboring town of Trnovo was spared because of my presence. I also have no doubt he was taken elsewhere and executed. Without doubt the would-be executioner, an average sort in his mid to late thirties could recite chapter and verse about Serbian atrocities, and likely had one or more family, friends or neighbors killed, wounded or otherwise terrible affected at the hand of Serbs, whether intentionally and cruelly or as a consequence of the war. I could recite those acts as well, and had personally witnessed enough to justify reprisals against those “inhuman” Serbs.

Those would be judgements of the human heart, however, a tinderbox fully at the mercy of vengeance and our selfish soul. It is our intellect and reason, and a moral standard that upholds human dignity, selfless mercy and the standards of human rights-one that is bolstered by laws and ideals that sanction those who violate those laws and ideals.

It has been a point of study into the psychology of war atrocities. Organizing relief, I was fascinated by the utter inhumanity that Hutu neighbors, friends and even family turned on their Tutsi kin in Rwanda. I had looked into the eyes of an elderly man who was so friendly and hospitable to me and others, only to smile gleefully and draw a finger across his throat at the blindfolded young Serb. Study the faces of men and women captured on film at executions and other atrocious acts, and you will find mostly complacent stoicism, but enjoyment and satisfaction in others. Other times there is a tribal, animal sort of orgiastic frenzy akin to videos of great apes and chimpanzees brutalizing others of their species.

The filming and ritual of degrading enemy dead-civilian and soldier alike- is hardly new. There seems to be an impetus to document such deeds, like posing with an animal after a hunt. It is tribal and perverse, apart from the illegalities. Worse it is shameful and wrong for some very fundamental reasons.

Preeminent among those reasons is the very assertion of many in this nation that America is the greatest nation on the earth, the “shining city on the hill,” and “the last best hope for mankind.” How does an act such as this further than notion, or convince our enemies otherwise? And if we discount enemies and other nations, how does this act strengthen those notions for ourselves?

If we truly believe we are the righteous in this conflict, is this how the righteous act? Where does is say in the Bible that in war it is alright to desecrate the enemy’s dead? It is an immoral statement to justify such acts by pointing to the enemy, if not for the reason above, then on the premise that it lowers us to the level of an “immoral” enemy. We demand that police abide by laws, and must adhere to the constitution and civil liberties in those duties. No one reasonably argues that the police can act lawlessly when dealing with lawless criminals, i.e., summary street executions, bombings, lootings of suspect houses or the wholesale beating of say a shoplifter or car thief.

Many on the Right heralded and praised the act with the patently immoral and thoughtless lament that “it is war.” They would not have considered that excuse for Nazi death camp guards or Japanese soldiers during the Second World War. Those criminals were held to account, often at the cost of their lives. War is not a frat party with license for abandon. It is not a right of passage, and even if it was, a soul does not switch off the tribal act of desecrating enemy dead in such a way when they return to “peaceful” society.

I have seen firsthand how acts of violence in war-whether justified or not, resonate terribly well beyond war. These men crossed a terrible line, not just in the act, but in their soul, and by the witness of thousands, and perhaps millions, have pulled us across that terrible line with them.  War is not a time for boys to be boys. It should be an aberration from rational human interaction and conflist resolution. It is a terrible and evil necessity, one that a nation should align itself on the side of righteousness and the weak.

I fully comprehend the moral entanlgements and confusion in combat. I have been there. I also understand revenge. I understand the emotions in a battle that would compel one to desire the ultimate fate upon an enemy. That is the specter of vengeance and the unhinged human heart. i confess to those emtions(watching Serb s purposely fire antiaircraft rounds at a mother and two children). I also understand that the world is a harsher and far more dangerous place when we give ourselves fully to that unbridled hate.

In the end, for these three Taliban fighters, who espouse a world and belief system I am very much opposed to, and who I believe must be defeated, the fight was over when the life left their bodies. What those soldiers then did is the worst side of all Americans and was a filthy and unnecessary act that can only be defended by those who have never been to war, or those who are too filled with innate anger and hate to see past the storms of their own heart.


Occupy My Heart: The radio Show on Best of the Left

The Play that made national headlines, changed hearts and energized a movement is now available on Best of the Left at the link below:

 
Filled with heart and truth, Occupy My Heart: A revolutionary Christmas Carol is not just a story for the holidays, but a tale of our times. You will be touched in this modern retelling of the Dickens classic.

Please share it with your friends, especially those who still think the struggle of our times is not the co-opting of our great nation by corporate and financial greed.


Big government? Damn right. The biggest! Just fix it.

So the mantra from the right these days is that government is too big, and we must shrink it, not to make it more efficient, but so it can get out of the way of business.In the age of the highest corporate profits in human history that rhetoric is obscene. Fundamentally, that is an anti-American, anti-Constituional idea. Let’s set aside the argument that government exists because it has the power to do things individuals simply can’t do, like build a road, fight a war, enforce health and safety codes, maintain a justice system and get toilets to flush safely from coast to coast.

This nation is being duped into buying the perverse and dangerous idea that corporations are virtuous and wise, while government is corrupt, inept and out of control. Are they saying they’d happily trade corporate control for the United States government? Have they never seen a corporation go bankrupt? Go out of business? End pensions? Break the law?

Name me a single corporation that has existed as long as the US government? Name me a single one that acts as a democracy? Name one that voluntarily protects the interests of individual workers rights without those rules being imposed by government. Name one. That corporation doesn’t exist.

Without government, corporations would pollute the environment, abuse employees, and even murder labor activists http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/26/international/26COLO.html?searchpv=day04&pagewanted=print . They would be free to pay employees the lowest possible or barely survivable wages with no benefits in dangerous environments. Get hurt on the job due to their negligence and you’re history, and so is your family’s future.

The problem with government is that the Democrats and especially the Republicans have allowed and facilitated the corporate stranglehold on government,  a crime promoted and repackaged in the pseudo-Press suppositories of FOX, CNN, MSNBC and talk radio, all of which are owned by significant corporations with huge interest in the outcome of this quiet coup.

The people can take it back, but they have to get smart, get organized, and defend a government large enough to defend a Constitution that was written for people not corporations.

What you really what, whether you realize now or later, is a government big enough not to get bullied by terrorists, rogue nations, competing nations, and least of all self-interested corporations. But it has to be a government humble enough to protect the homeless guy on the corner from being run off because he fell on hard times, or the millions of families faced with foreclosure

The Bush tax cuts for the rich (still in effect) have failed to generate the jobs Republicans and the rich promised would happen if those tax cuts continued. The government should be big enough to conclude a war and recognize the rights of minorities and the wrongly accused.

Big government? Damn right. The biggest! just fix it.


Art, Occupy and the Illusions of the One Percent

Achievers. The one percent. Winners. Those who are so adamant about not raising taxes on corporations the wealthiest in the nation would have us believe that there is some inherent quality, something unique and sacrosanct in this supposed talent. Set aside the responsibility to the nation fostering a nurturing environment for business(political and social stability, laws, courts, infrastructure, an educated and healthy populace) argument. Talents are for the arts, or sports, for positive intellect and in healthy and uplifting relationships. 

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe;” wrote John Donne in meditations XVII, in 1624, “every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

Achiever is in itself an insult hurled at the rest of us by the selfish and greedy. It implies that the jobs we go to daily, the place we’ve arrived at in life is not an achievement. It screams that raising children, running a home, going to school, struggling with poverty, prevailing through an illness is somehow a lesser achievement. It presumes one person’s experience is greater than another’s. It pits one person’s struggle against another’s, which is a fool’s game.

Reverend Billy at the Occupy Chicago General Assembly Wednesday evening spoke about community and the responsibility of the 1%. One is indeed the loneliest number

The way it is used becomes an assertion of power and right and privilege. Their achievement is presumed to have value above all others. It is an assumption of rule and of a ruling class, which is antithetical to the declaration of Independence and of the Constitution.

It also betrays a lie the so-called achievers pretend to themselves. It is the ultimate lie because it ignores the very thing Donne wrote about. Life is impossible alone. A soul alone writing a novel relies upon the history making the computer usable, upon the society nurturing freedom of thought, of the luxury of not having to forage through the day for food, shelter and sustenance, and even of the craftsman who constructed the desk and chair upon which that novelist writes.

A month ago I wrote a play. I am proud of that play, but as such it is little more than a semi-interesting collection of two dimension words upon a page. In the coming weeks a passionate and talented cast will bring those words to life, moving them around in three-dimensional space, adding inflection and history and textures I would never have imagined. We will perform on a radio station, the play expanded and re-envisioned  by a producer who will add sound effects to create a new and as yet unrealized world. We will perform upon a stage built by dreamers who wished for a space that actors might create as yet unimagined works and as yet unwritten words. Those stages are maintained by electricians, lighting experts and others who make each performance possible.

Sadly, what has happened in America is that the one percent has all but convinced us that only the writer matters, and that all the rest should bow before them. The Occupy movement asserts a different reality, one consistent with the constitution, in which all citizens are imbued with a god-given dignity and that all of us have a responsibility to maintaining the greatest measure of human dignity that can be maintained. The limit placed on that dignity is a measure of the cynicism inherent in a heart.

No man is indeed an island, except in his own heart, and upon that island is loneliness and nothing more. There is an old pop song that says one is the loneliest number. If there is salvation from that loneliness, it must be among the 99%.


Who speaks for the average man on the Right? Sarah Palin $12 Million last year. Rush Limbaugh, $28 million. Michael Savage, $18 million. Megyn Kelley, $5 million. Michael Medved, $35 million. Neal Boortz, $800 thousand plus. Bill O’Reilly, $20 million. Glenn Beck, $32 million. Sean Hannity, $25 million. Michael Savage, $18 million net worth. Ann Coulter, $8.5 million net worth.

How do they warrant such salaries? Because of their immense popularity? Because they are better than the rest?

In 1949 the Fairness Doctrine was established. Diversity in broadcast communications and media was encouraged and valued through the 1970s. In 1970 the Radio & TV cross ownership rule prevented large media organizations from owning a TV and radio station in the same market, again to promote and protect media diversification and a broad spectrum of views. In 1975, the rule was added preventing the ownership of TV and newspaper in the same market.

In 1980, President Reagan began a push, complicit with his corporate patrons, to reverse this legislation. Under the first President Bush that effort was continued. The court case Meridith Corp vs. the FCC ruled the FCC had no power to regulate and enforce the fairness doctrine. Bill Clinton was no friend of media diversification. The effort continued until most FCC rules were eliminated through the Telecommunications Act of 1996, thanks to a Republican Congress, Clinton and their corporate donors.

America instantly saw a 1/3 decline in  diversification. Corporations continued that theft of public ownership of the airwaves.  7 corporations now own 75% of all radio and TV. the purpose from the start was to eliminate dissent, the free flow of information and unbiased discourse. Evidence the fact that no one in any corporate media in the lead up to the Iraq Invasion ever posed adequate dissent to questions over weapons of mass destruction, and criminality to trick the American public into war. Evidence the complete fabrication that poor people with bad home loans caused the financial crisis of 2008-07, without telling the true story of credit default swaps and speculation on those bad debts far in excess of the actual value of the entire US housing market. Evidence the lack of credible questions and accountability over the 9-11 atrocity. Evidence the assult against Global Warming, the effects of which, through drought and floods and severe climate anomalies we are only just beginning to suffer. Evidence the echo chamber continuation of  Obama’s birth certificate foolishness. evidence that Sarah Palin is not a diner waitress at a truck stop in Alaska. Evidence the slanted reporting on the  tiny Tea party illusion against the massive  anti-war and now Occupy movements. Evidence…


November 17, 2011 Day of Action…Occupy your freedom! Join a march. Organize. Put a sign in your car and in your window saying, “I am part of the 99%.” Call your senators, representatives. Flood radio stations with calls. Join a Credit Union. Let them know this is a country of, by and for the people, not the corporations and banks. And above all be outraged, but with love and peace and respect as your weapons and armor.


The essence of the argument. occupation as a defense

The New York judge that ruled on yesterday’s assault against the Occupy Wall Street activists in Zuccotti Park commented that the protesters, “have not demonstrated a first amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators and other installations.” Judge Stallman ruled. “Neither have the applicants shown a right to a temporary restraining order that would restrict the city’s enforcement of law so as to promote public health and safety.”

The comment begs the question as to whether the judge simply refused to adequately acknowledge the basic First Amendment aspect in this case, or the legal representatives for the movement failed to properly define the unique characteristics of the movement. Based upon the judge’s statement, the latter seems the obvious choice, at which point we can only wonder if the Occupy lawyers had the opportunity to make that distinction or if the judge refused to allow it.Occupation Chicago activists at a General Assembly meeting Sunday

The protesters, “have not demonstrated a first amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators and other installations,” said Stallman. But taken at face value his opinion is fundamentally flawed, an opening the Occupy people should and need to exploit fully. Their premiere argument lies in their name: Occupy. Occupation is not defined as a brief and transient effort, but as a sustained effort whose duration is dictated, again by definition, by the occupiers. Evidence the Right who eschewed any suggestion of leaving Iraq or Afghanistan over the last decade as cutting and running, and certainly not the decision of anyone but the United States to make.

Their First Amendment right to remain is explicit in their name. otherwise we can refer to them as, sy, “Just passing through Wall Street,” or “Fed up folks visiting Wall Street, but not lingering,” or “Let’s go to Wall Street but definitely not stay.” Instead, they are “Occupy Wall Street.” The name defines the movement. It prescribes the action and the place it will occupy. The name is the First Amendment assertion of the movement.

The structures, tents, kitchens, hospitals and library are likewise equally fundamental to the movement and directly support the intent of the protest by means of maintaining safe and healthy conditions within the camp. That speaks directly to Stallman’s statement that “the applicants (have not) shown a right to a temporary restraining order that would restrict the city’s enforcement of law so as to promote public health and safety.” The protesters have not constructed a shanty town, but erected tents, explicitly to protect their members from the elements, and to facilitate an adequate presence to maintain an occupation. The hospital is staffed by registered nurses, who have donated their energies to the cause.

Truck driver Bob Hoffman donates time to serve soup for Occupy protesters

Curious that police attempts to disrupt and discourage the protest through unprovoked violence (see  https://900poundgorilla.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/attacks-and-intimidation-the-war-against-the-occupy-movement/  ) and the dumping of unsavory elements into the park were not presented in this case. The hyped and exaggerated incidence of crime, ballooned by outright falsifications and concoctions were used against the protesters and ruled on by the court, but the best defense remains in the name. By definition, Occupation is the essence of the argument.

Now the question that remains, if it is still possible to prevail on the strength of an argument or if the courts hear only their preconceptions and biases, or if they hear only what they are told to hear? More and more the courts are the tools of the wealthy, the corporations and powerful, rarely favoring indiviuals. Indeed, through the so-called financil collapse of 2007-2008 not a single person was indicted or arrested. Tens of billions were quite literally stolen by banks, financial instutions and corporations, either directly from the treasury or by draining 401K plans and pensions, all while the rich have grown obscenely wealthier. Yet, Occupying a park over outrage for those immoral and anti-American offenses by civilians demanding justice and reform is met by media indifference, partisan propaganda and riot police. Anyone see the insanity in all that?


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