Holiday High Hopes

Yesterday I took down the Halloween cartoon I had in the blog queue, it just didn't seem like the time for frivolity; then I found this.

The World Turned Upside Down

This from the NYTimes: "Like many of his mayoral colleagues nationwide, Mr. Reed [Mayor of Atlanta] openly expressed frustration with the [Occupy] protesters’ methods."
Quoting Mayor Reed - “The attitude I have seen here is not consistent with any civil rights protests I have seen in Atlanta and certainly not consistent with the most respected forms of civil disobedience.”
Only in the distorted world of American politics could an African American politician criticize protestors with a convoluted phrase like - "the most respected forms of civil disobedience."
What exactly is the mayor referring to? Does he expect Martin Luther King in a suit and tie to lead every Occupy march? Or perhaps it's the lack of sanitary facilities at the encampments. We could solve that problem with dual public bathrooms, you know protester and non-protester or the 99% and the 1%. I wonder if the mayor would have any issues with those separate but equal facilities.
What we have here is yet another co-opted politician sucking at the corporate teat and seeking to justify his actions by invoking some set of rules about appropriate protesting. Did I miss that lesson in my high school Civics class? The Approved Rules of Protest 101.
What I didn't miss was the facts on the ground that any politician can be bought and paid for. Welcome to the Club Mayor Reed, you know it used to be an all white club, now it's simply all wealthy and their well paid lackeys. Why not bring out the fire hoses and the dogs. Is Bull Connor still alive?

Today's History Lessons

*Between the hours of 8AM and 10PM, at low volume, when convenient for those in power. Other restrictions may apply. The terms of this offer are subject to change at any time. Failure to comply with new terms, whether or not notice has been given, may result in penalties, including by not limited to: fines, confiscation of personal property, physical restraint, imprisonment, injury and death.
Franklin photo credit: Belasfotos (thanks Sandy)

Los Angeles Supports Occupy

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, with the concurrence of the Mayor, that by the adoption of this Resolution, the City of Los Angeles hereby stands in SUPPORT for the continuation of the peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by "Occupy Los Angeles"

Read the entire text of the resolution from the Los Angeles City Council here.

Coordinated Attack on Occupy

They orders have been sent down from the top: "Stop these Occupy people now!"

How else do you explain the recent escalations from formerly liberal mayors and their police forces? Tear gas and flash grenades in Oakland. Overwhelming force in Atlanta. Extreme violence in Melbourne. New eviction notices in San Francisco. Raids always midnight to 4 a.m. Reporters being cordoned off from the intense action and then, in the case of Oakland, tear gassed in their roped off media safe zone.

Don't think that it's just the police and government officials. The mainstream media is complicit as well. Take the Washington Post, you know the newspaper that broke the Watergate story that brought down Richard Nixon. Take a look at how they covered the Police attack in Oakland.

Orders from the top: Discredit and disband the Occupy camps before they get any more traction.

So, what are you doing to support these people? Have called city hall? Written an email to the mayor, the governor, the president. Let them know you do not live in a police state. We are so quick to condemn the actions of dictators in Egypt, Libya and throughout the world, but we tolerate in silence the same actions in our own cities.

You can do something or you can remain silent while local uniforms beholded to the top corporations enforce the law and order they need to maintain their control of this country and it's wealth.

Your choice. Doing nothing is the same as choosing the side of the oppressors.

Thought for the Day (10/26/11)

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - John F. Kennedy

Police Escalation in Bay Area

There has been a clear escalation of the tension between local governments and the various Occupy encampments in the San Francisco Bay Area. Last night OccupyOakland was hit with a highly coordinated police raid, including tear gas and "non-lethal projectiles."

All three photographs in today's post are the result of such 'non-lethal' action by law enforcement.

What local politicians and law enforcement don't seem to understand is that they are not simply attacking a couple of hundred kids in tents. They are going after the ever growing number of supporters the Occupy Movement has behind it. Every act of violence from the police grows the anger, the frustration and the numbers of Occupy supporters.

And yes, government sanctioned violence will lead to a violent response. There is simply no way to control all of people in the streets. Violence radicalizes those who sought only to peacefully protest the obscene government complicit greed that is destroying our society.

These are easily learned lessons from history. These are easily learned lessons from the Arab Spring of this year. But once again the government cares more about the rules of running a city park, then the cries of the people they are supposed to serve. This is going to end well but in the process a lot more people are going to get hurt. Wake Up and smell the tear gas Mr. Mayor. Step in now Governor Brown. How about some action to back up all those pretty words Mr. President.

How Can We Have a Leaderless Revolution?

The mainstream media continues to ask: 

"What is Occupy Wall Street about?"
"What do they want?" 
"Where are their demands?"
"Who are their leaders; who do we interview?"

We should expect those questions from people who are hearing about OWS for the first time. But the media is (or was) about journalism, going after a story, doing some research and easiest of all - reading other media coverage of a potential story.

Unfortunately what passes for mainstream media today is infotainment and not journalism. Which is why we are still getting "What is OWS about?" questions from even some previously responsible sources. Caitlin Dewey writing for Kiplinger recently asked the wrong questions in this article. Her lead read: "I went to the Occupy D.C. protests hoping to find a movement. Instead, I found people to disorganized and idealistic to actually change the things they they criticized."

Really Caitlin you went to find a movement and couldn't locate it standing right in it's midst? Methinks the problem is not with Occupy but with your sight or rather lack of insight.

If you are a journalist or just someone who wants to know what's going on with Occupy, try this article from Daily Kos. You might be the gist from their lead: "If you are a political pundit and you still don't know what Occupy Wall Street stands for, you are an idiot."

This really and truly is not rocket science, in fact, it takes a profound effort not to understand what is going on in Zuccotti Park and in cities throughout the country. Pay attention - these people are trying to take the country back for all of us.

The 'Leaders' we need to worry about are not those who will emerge from Occupy but those that already hold the strings on Wall Street and in Washington. Leadership removal is much more critical than leadership replacement.

Thoughts for the Day (10/23/11)

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. -Margaret Mead


             We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities. -- Pogo 

A Shaky Golden Gate Sunset

Today a break from what one reader has called my "unrelenting reliving of those political hippy years of long ago." That's not my photo above but it is as close as I could find to last evening's sunset. Twice a year the sun passes behind the Golden Gate Bridge, at least is does from my windows in Berkeley. Yesterday was one of those, it takes about six days for the sun to complete it's transit behind the bridge north to south in the fall and south to north in the spring. Most of those sunsets are swallowed in the persistent fog banks of San Francisco Bay or an offshore marine layer. But once in a great while the sky is clear enough for the sun to set into the ocean and outline the twin spires of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then the sky flares orange and backlights the bridge. Very spirit lifting.

On another 'note from nature' - no earthquakes today. Yesterday, there were two; not particularly large, 4.0 and 3.8 but the first one was just under 2 miles from my apartment and the second less than a mile. I've been in bigger quakes but not quite this close. From up in my 8th floor perch I can tell you there was definitely some rockin' & rollin', water splashin' plus tennis shoes, wallet and keys were set out before I went to bed last night.

[Morning update: spoke too soon, three aftershocks overnight - 1.3, 2.5, 2.8.]

Violence in the Occupied Streets

Is the question will violence happen in the streets again? or is it - when will it happen again?

Nixon is not in the White House but Obama hasn't really stepped up yet to lend his support to non-violence. The silence from the commander-in-chief is deafening. Leader of the free world, the author of "Change"; where is his voice? Instead local mayors and sheriffs are reacting with different measures of police action.

We hear the argument that the Occupy encampments and demonstrations are very good at self-policing. In my recent experience that is true. But this all has happened fast. It's been just over a month. The Vietnam War protests went on for ten years. The Kent State massacre happened in 1970, a full two years after the anti-war movement had driven Lyndon Johnson from the presidency. But five years before the end of the war.

The police are different today. They are part of the 99% even if some of them wear 53% buttons. They see the underside of the American economy everyday. They know how many actual welfare freeloaders are out there and they know how many of the poor were once where they are - just one layoff from being out of a job.

Still when crowds come face-to-face with batons and riot-gear very, very bad things can happen. Some local cop is going to be too tired, too frightened or just a reactionary prick and all hell is going to break loose. There are going to be casualties in this Occupation. On the other hand, there are also going to be a lot more badges, uniforms and military decorations on our side this time around.

tin soldiers and nixon coming
we're finally on our own
this summer I hear the drumming
four dead in o-hi-o

Thought for the Day (10/20/11)

"It [Occupy, 99%, OWS] rightly puts the focus on the economic institutions rather than on the politicians who are merely their lackeys. The countless grievances may not constitute a coherent program, but taken as a whole they already imply a fundamental transformation of the system. The nature of that transformation will become clearer as the struggle develops. If the movement ends up forcing the system to come up with some sort of significant, New Deal-type reforms, so much the better — that will temporarily ease conditions so we can more easily push further. If the system proves incapable of implementing any significant reforms, that will force people to look into more radical alternatives." - Bureau of Public Secrets

Open Letter to My Apathetic Friends

"i have managed to live 57 years not caring - i feel less stressed than the average American - i was never under the illusion that the government cared about me -  i am sure the government doesn't care about me so i am not disappointed when they do yet another thing to fuck with me - i expect to be fucked with and since i don't pay attention to the news, i don't even know when i am being fucked with, and i simply don't care.  it is the way of the world. government fucks with the people."  

Those words come from a very dear friend of mine, a friend of over 30 years. She regularly reads my blog and comments privately to me at least once a week. Her words are in reaction to my latest series of political posts on the Occupy Movement.

I recognize that many millions are not involved in the political process for precisely the reasons she gives. But feeling powerless is not simply a reaction to the way things are. No, in fact, the systems of government, commerce and finance actively attempt to persuade us to become apathetic. Occupy Wall Street and the OWC spawned encampments around the world are ever so slowly beginning to frighten the fat 1%. "They" are, in turn, reaching out to their politicians and other elected  and appointed officials, like police administrations. "They" want this potential disruption to their rigged system to stop before it reaches critical mass.

Too late!

So what I say to my apolitical and apathetic friends is this - you can help us and help yourself, in some very simply ways. Emails written from home make a difference. Donations of food, clothing, books, cleaning supplies - all help the Occupy encampments.

But more importantly, I ask you to take seven minutes to watch the TED talk I have linked to below. Trust me, just a few minutes will get you to think very differently about your active choice to be apathetic. The same few minutes will also serve as a reminder to liberals, conservatives, centrists and nearly anyone wondering about the extent of corporate complicity in the manufacturing of inequality around the world. 

TED Talk: The antidote to Apathy (7 mins.)

Thought for the Day (10/18/11)

". . . the rise of the social-welfare state was a response (often of market-oriented liberal democracies) to the threat of popular revolutions, socialism, and communism as the frequency and severity of economic and financial crises increased . . . Any economic model that does not properly address inequality will eventually face a crisis of legitimacy. Unless the relative economic roles of the market and the state are rebalanced, the protests of 2011 will become more severe, with social and political instability eventually harming long-term economic growth and welfare."
Nouriel Roubini writing at truth-out.org

Talking About Occupy

Perhaps the single most important action you can take right now is to talk to someone about the Occupy movement. Two tactics come to mind. The first and the easiest is to find out if your friends, your political allies have heard about Occupy. If not then you must engage them with the facts, not the mass media message. Only about 50% of the population has heard of Occupy right now, so basic information needs to spread. Be the spreader.

The second conversation is more difficult but much more productive to everyone - have the conversation with someone who disagrees with you. Doesn't matter if you support Occupy or are against it. Doesn't matter if you don't have all the information, facts, figures and spin. Just begin the conversation.

I am engaged with several people. One card carrying liberal democrat, an ardent Obama supporter, who sees the Occupy demonstrations as helping the republicans. On the other side I trade long emails with a man whom I respect as open, honest and well informed. He is also an arch-conservative and is currently rereading Atlas Shrugged as a guide to everyday living. A third conversation is with an old college friend who actually has worked inside the Washington beltway for many years; his predictions in '08, '04 and '00 were right on the money, I value his insider observations. By the way, his prediction at this stage of the presidential scrum - Romney outwaits the republican fringe candidates, wins the nomination and defeats Obama for the job.

I learn from all of these conversations, that's why I started them. My arguments are both refined and tempered by engaging with a variety of opinions. I am still searching for a strong middle of the road friend to take up yet another back and forth exchange.

Please talk to someone, even a whole bunch of someones. And write, don't let the corporate media sway your opinion with their propaganda. It is not true that Occupy lacks a clear message; it is true that CNN, Fox, NYT and others don't want to hear that message because it puts them squarely in the crosshairs.

Talk about Occupy. Write to the sources of power and information. Engage in Your Democracy. It was the Arab Spring but we are entering the American Autumn and the American Winter and by next spring - everything could change.

Here's a link to what Occupy has accomplished in the first month.
political cartoon from The New Yorker

The Day After

Yesterday was October 15th - the first worldwide day of the Occupy Movement.

Rome, Italy: (100K-200K) Riots or near riots - tear gas, burned cars, smashed windows. Demonstration possibly hijacked by 'Black Bloc' instigators.

Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney, London, Berlin, Moscow, Madrid: - peaceful.

New York City: the home of Occupy; lots of marchers, lots of marches. Yes, some arrests but one has to wonder when those are necessary and when its just the power structure flexing their old stereotypes.

San Francisco: bigger (10,000) and longer lasting protest with several marches still going on into the evening.

Berkeley: My first hand report from the streets of Berkeley, California. A couple of hundred for the noon rally. SF and Oakland drew much bigger crowds but this is Berkeley so I am a bit surprised that there were not more older protesters here to support Occupy. The crowd did grow as the afternoon wore on.

Thousands show up to Occupy Las Vegas

High estimates from the left: 951 cities in 82 countries
Low estimates from the right: a few dirty hippies with no coherent message
thanks to Pauly for the graphic

The Real Art of Protest

All of today's images come from 

Open Letter to My Friends in the Center

You are the friends I am most concerned about. The middle class has taken a double edged beating in this financial meltdown. You lost homes, pensions, jobs, buying power and you paid for it. In the past this country has helped those at the bottom of the ladder; maybe not enough and always not soon enough but help was there. You, in the middle, have paid for that assistance and mostly you complained little or not at all.

Today, you need the help and Congress is fighting over whether emergency relief funds for flood and tornado victims is really a priority in this country. I know there are survivors of Katrina who will tell this this is not a new way for our government at act or lack action. But the help needed today is more basic, more at the core of what our national government has become. We are no longer looking out for the 99%. Those at the top are prospering, not breaking even, not hurting a bit like everyone else. They are increasing their fortunes each and every day; turn on any one of the market watching television channels - on Wall Street the recession is long over; profits are up, bonuses are up. And nothing is trickling down.

"Don't raise their taxes" we are told, "they won't create jobs if we raise their taxes".... Well we haven't raised their taxes, where exactly are the jobs? Where are the bank loans to small businesses? You want to see this 'trickle down" economics in action - take a look at the cartoon on my last blog post.

Sorry, I got off on a bit of a rant there. So let me ask, do you honestly feel your government cares about you? Right, I agree. So get yourself a twitter account, listen to what is being said in those Occupy encampments. Those aren't all kids out there. It's you, it's me, it's everyone who wants America to be what it once promised to be. With Liberty and Justice for All, there shouldn't be a price tag on Freedom.

Occupy America! 

Open Letter to My Conservative Friends

To my many conservative friends - take a good look at those cartoon birds - you are not on the top rung. The game has always been rigged - a bit. But now those at the top are criminals, not high achievers or entrepreneurs or small business owners - criminals. And yes you are downstream, downwind and downhill from their greed. Don't believe that? Well then the top birds have you right where they want you.

No, I don't want to destroy the system and neither do most of the Occupy protesters. What we want is a fair system that doesn't favor the obscenely rich. Do you really think that you could, if you really wanted to, and tried hard enough, really get on that top rung. Well, you can't. You don't have the secret decoder ring with the IRS codes or the lobbyist or enough stolen money to get there. And besides they don't want you up top with them. You see you're not white enough or male enough or already rich enough; and you're just not self-centered and greedy enough or you wouldn't be reading my blog.

Yes the TARP bailout got a lot of the money back into the U.S. Treaury. Indeed if you don't count AIG and GM, there was a profit of sorts. Meaning if you jigger the numbers enough, TARP (or the Bush bailout) worked. That is, of course, if you forget the tens of thousands of families who lost their homes in foreclosure and the tens of billions of dollars in lost pension fund capital. Yes, your retirement fund was decimated by those Wall Street crooks who got their butts bailed out.

So coming around the big circle of economic policy from your side, you are going to be meeting a lot of us coming around from the other side. I hope you will take some time to talk and to listen because all the Occupy demonstrations are saying is - 

"The American Dream should be available to everyone, to whatever extent they want to participate and work for their own personal piece of the dream. And, oh by the way, those who have it all don't want you to have any of it."

Let's talk - How about we meet at the independent coffee shop nearest to the Occupy encampment.

Link to the Open Letter to My Liberal Friends

Open Letter to My Liberal Friends

If you remember the Civil Rights marches and have wondered would that ever happen again -- it's happening now.

If you remember the Vietnam War protests and have wanted to influence the course of the nation that strongly again -- you can do it now.

If you have been frustrated by the WTO opposition -- this is different.

If you have ever wanted to get involved or get involved again in a cause that really had the chance to change the world and not simply support another worn politician -- the time is now!

The Occupy movement has taken hold but it will need your support to sustain itself and grow. Feeling too old to camp out in a park, that's OK those who do need your support. They need food, clothing, a place to shower, books and ideas.

Yes, I know you really don't want to bring down the entire system like they do. Does this sound at all familiar? We didn't crash the system when we ended a war but many of those in the streets did want revolution.

Revolution today for many of us means bringing back a fair chance for everyone to achieve whatever part of the dream they desire to go after. A level living field. Sure the kids in the tents are already wary of being co-opted by MoveOn and "other liberal politicians." So what. That's no reason not to get involved, get engaged, get out there if only on the weekends for the big protests like this coming Saturday October 15th.

Read: Think Occupy Wall Street is a phase? You don't get it

Read: Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now

Remember the day Nixon quit.
The day the troops left Saigon.
Not that old. OK remember when the G8 protests didn't work. Remember the frustration that nothing was within our control

Well it's a new day, the Middle East has had it's Arab Spring. Get on the bandwagon for the American Autumn and Winter, those kids are going to need mittens.

Email CNN and MSNBC and the Journal, the Times - let the media know they cannot ignore this story. Rupert Murdoch does not control the news. Social Media is making this all happen much faster.

One final thing, if you don't have a Twitter account, get one. It takes three minutes and you will be in touch with what is happening in the streets again.

Occupy Berkeley!

Today Occupy Berkeley at Bank of America on Shattuck and at People's Park.

"...now that the richest 1 percent have backed the rest of us into a corner — a corner without health care, decent wages and jobs that are not in danger of being outsourced — we have no choice but to organize and fight. Leaders in Washington have shown they won't champion progressive reforms unless pushed." --tampabay.com

Medical Marijuana (8): IRS Attacks

The Internal Revenue Service has ruled that legally operating medical marijuana businesses cannot take normal tax deductions like rent, payroll, security or equipment. The IRS cites a 25 year old law passed under the Reagan "War on Drugs" that was meant to deal with traffickers in drugs.

Harborside Health Center here in Oakland is cited as "a model for the industry" but the CEO is quoted as stating that either the IRS ruling is gets modified or Harborside will be out of business. The 90 day appeal window is now open but one has to wonder if the federal government headed by a supposedly compassionate liberal will not continue on the course of prohibition and infringement on the rights of citizens and in this case seriously ill citizens.

Here is the full MSNBC story.


Arab Spring - American Winter?

"It is pretty safe to say that the U.S. military-industrial complex and other oppressive U.S. industrial complexes will ultimately fail." 

I'm depressed. No, not clinically morose; I won't be needing meds or any talk therapy but you might. You see my low level depression comes from my observed belief that the "greatest country in the history of the world" is doomed. The United States of America is a fraud. We do not represent of the people, by the people and for the people, at least not anymore. But more depressing we can't do anything about it. The filthy elite has so corrupted the economic and political systems that any intervention is impossible. The U.S. is owned outright by a minority, who control the media, the politics and the means of production.

My depressive resignation has been building for a very long time. I have been advocating for third party voting for many, many years. In fact, I embraced the "none of the above" political principle in 1973. It was my way of being a small part of the solution and not part of the apathetic problem. I was fully prepared to once more bury my real feelings about the bitter, nasty truth of the American capitalist society and advocate for third party votes again in 2012.

But recently I have come to feel that there might be another way. I have begun to see light at the end of the long, dark tunnel. However, we are going to have to embrace the reality that such a transformative light will only shine through holes we bash in the walls of our present cocoon.

If you relate to the disgust I feel for wall street, corporate greed, the flaccid list of republican presidential candidates and the ineffective smooth talking head currently in the white house, then I ask that you take ten minutes to read an article I found: 

I cannot recommend this article more strongly, consider this post as my pitch for you to get involved, this is my membership drive. I am not asking for a donation but for a few minutes of your time. Read the article - Stop accepting that someone else owns our country.


pandiculation \pan-dik-yuh-LEY-shuhn\, noun:
an instinctive stretching, as on awakening or while yawning

Yes, humans do it too; but these guys are so much more expressive.

not everyone appreciates being photographed

OK this is just showing off

Cousin Leo

one tiger

two tiger