Archive | September, 2011

Did we say goodbye?

28 Sep

Can’t remember. Take it away, Steve. Bring it, Emmylou.

It’s hump day.

Lawrence O’Donnel Challenges Police Use of Force

27 Sep

Thanks to Abby Zimet at Common Dreams for her thoughts about this and for running this video there.

Nice Edit and Video from Wall Street Occupation

26 Sep

There are reports of police assault on the occupation of Wall Street.   The first amendment grants us the right to assemble and speak out.  It’s a shame that this country has so little tolerance for first amendment rights.

I am reminded of the video I have seen from China when the military was streaming toward Tiananmen Square and the Chinese people flooded into the streets to slow the military, they pleaded with the soldiers to join the protest, to side with the people. The pleas were not heard.

It’s going to be hard for the protestors who occupy Wall Street to reach the police who are ordered to come in and disperse the crowds, but things change when the shock troops of the empire hear the message that peace, freedom, equality, justice are not always compatible with order.   We have to reach across the lines and ask the police to choose constitutional freedoms over order.

Live Feed from the Wall Street Occupation

25 Sep

It’s a live feed, for as long as it lasts or as long as they loop the footage, so the activity and engagement level varies depending on what is going on at any given moment, but thought I would embed the video in case you want to plug in for a minute or two and “be present at this moment” in the Wall Street occupation.

http://cdn.livestream.com/embed/globalrevolution?layout=4&height=340&width=560&autoplay=false

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com

I think it’s fair to say that the corporate media coverage of this real occupation is very slight, but they will jump and run to cover a tea party event funded by right wing plutocrats. Connect the dots, Kemosabe. Catapult the propaganda.

Georgia Executed a Man Today Who Was Probably Innocent

22 Sep

I don’t know what to say. This is the state of our justice system. Troy Davis

Talkin ’bout a Revolution

22 Sep

if you’re talking about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out…

I share John Lennon’s ambivalence about the revolution, but I think there are revolutions coming.  Maybe a revolution doesn’t have to include the choreography and armament to take the Bastille?

How about a revolution in agriculture?  We watched a video about colony collapse disorder last night: Vanishing of the Bees.   Well done, sobering, broad review of the situation for our pollination partners.  I used to keep bees.  Most beekeepers develop a pretty strong connection to their hives, to the collective being that is a beehive.  The beekeepers in this movie certainly showed that connection.  I don’t want to give the story away, so I will just say that I think the filmmakers are correct to identify bees as “canaries in the coal mine.”  I think we need a revolution in the way we approach agriculture and food.   Global food.  What should it look like?

Also thinking about our global economic system.  Tikkun has a piece by Leonardo Boff on the Crisis of Capitalism.  This is an interesting read.  I do have a sense that the current global economic crisis is qualitatively different from previous downturns.  We face some pretty staggering demands from the natural world.  We now live in a world of more extreme weather and the likelihood is that the trend to more extreme weather is just getting started, so the solution is a really major retooling of the world economy where sustainability rather than profit is the goal. Stabilizing the environment is going to require more than a game of three card monte based on cap and trade.  The shell game has always been entertaining, but the game is fixed and the outcome is about fleecing the mark.   (if you look around and you can’t spot the mark, you are the mark).  Here’s a little taste of that Boff piece:

I believe the present crisis of capitalism is more than cyclical and structural. It is terminal. Are we seeing the end of the genius of capitalism, of always being able to adapt to any circumstance? I am aware that only few other people maintain this thesis. Two things, however, bring me to this conclusion.

The first is the following: the crisis is terminal because we all, but in particular capitalism, have exceeded the limits of the Earth. We have occupied and depredated the whole planet, destroying her subtle equilibrium and exhausting her goods and services, to the point that she alone can no longer replenish all that has been removed…

The second reason is linked to the humanitarian crisis that capitalism is creating.

Before, it was limited to the peripheral countries. Now it is global, and it has reached the central countries. The economic question cannot be resolved by dismantling society. The victims, connected by new venues of communication, resist, revolt and threaten the present order. Ever more people, especially the young, reject the perverse capitalist political economic logic: the dictatorship of finance that, through the market, subjugates the States to its interests, and the profitability of speculative capital, that circulates from one stock market to another, reaping profits without producing anything at all, except more money for the stockholders.

So our gaze in the US of A is currently fixed on the three card monte game that is the national election cycle.  Here we go, keep the cards rotating, let the media cover the “debates” and comment on who won and who lost, like a winner could be found in this crowd (Huntsman?  What is he doing in the GOP?) The media talking heads perform like they have one lonely brain cell in their pretty little heads, they stay away from any significant, in-depth questions, or if they ask a good question, they watch as somebody pulls the string so the candidate can recite a talking  point that may or may not have anything to do with the question or the underlying and significant issue.

Just think about how bad it is when the country is having trouble deciding whether Obama is a better choice than a candidate like Perry or Bachman.  Yikes!  Obama has made some disastrous choices, starting with his choice of Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner and he’s turned out to be sort of an Eisenhower Republican, though maybe some of us were hoping to get a democrat in the WH or even a Rockefeller Republican.  Can’t get there from here.

Imagine this country electing an FDR type democrat?  That would be a revolution (and would probably spark one as well).

A Cautionary Tale from New Orleans (pronounce Nawlins, please)

17 Sep

Do Feel Safe, Punk?  courtesy John Martinez Pavliga Wiki CommonsI got email from DOJ – civil rights division that two NO police officers were sentenced in the killing of Raymond Robair:

Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Two Former New Orleans Police Officers Sentenced in Connection with the Death of Raymond Robair

WASHINGTON – Two former New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers were sentenced today in relation to the beating death of Raymond Robair and subsequent cover-up, the Justice Department announced today.

 

U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon sentenced former NOPD Officer Melvin Williams to 262 months in prison for violating the civil rights of Robair by beating him to death, and for obstructing justice in the wake of that beating. Former NOPD Officer Matthew Dean Moore, who was working as Williams’ partner on the day of the beating, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for obstructing justice and for making false statements to the FBI during a federal investigation into Robair’s death. Williams was also ordered to pay $11,576 in restitution and Moore was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

 

“The New Orleans Police Department has been broken for some time, and this case shows just that,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “I hope that today’s sentences bring justice for the family of Raymond Robair and the entire community.”

 

“Today’s prison sentences are once again powerful messages that we in the Department of Justice will never tolerate the abuse of power or victimization of our citizens by anyone in law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Lousiana Jim Letten. “All of our citizens – and especially those among us who are most vulnerable – as well as the men and women who honor the badge of law enforcement every day deserve our respect and our protection.”

This event took place a month before Katrina flooded New Orleans. You can read the details here. A lot went wrong in New Orleans during Katrina, but not much went worse than the police shooting and beating people, blocking their passage to safety. I think the Robair case is a good indicator of the attitude of the NOPD toward the community prior to the flooding.

I think we suffer from outrage fatigue in this country because so many outrages are done under color of law. Waterboarding anyone? No justice in that matter that can be discerned, but justice may have been served for these two policemen who have been are going to jail for their part in the beating death of Raymond Robair. Rookie police, like Moore in this case, should think long and hard about tolerating the abusive behavior of more “experienced” police officers. And of course, there is issue of testilying, but you never get to that point if as a rookie cop, you jump in and stop the crime of a police assaulting a citizen.

The Power of Clicktivists! Really? Is there any power there?

15 Sep

Signed a petition this morning online through PDA to ask the super committee to save a trillion dollars by fixing Medicare Part D. The change requested would allow the Feds to negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma instead of the current model. I haven’t studied this hard, but you don’t have to study much to know that the ability to negotiate prices is a good idea. It’s kind of free market stuff, isn’t it? Doesn’t the right love the power of the free market? Let’s see how far this thing goes. Senator Kyl has jumped off talking about savings from attacking Medicare fraud, but the CBO guy told him point blank, this approach does not address the deficit and tax changes needed.

I also responded to a request from the FCNL – Friends (quakers) Committee on National Legislation and sent the following letter to my Senator, Patty Murray:

I live in Chehalis, Wa and have been pleased to have you as my Senator.

In my lifetime I have watched the tax table leveled and it has had disastrous effects on the US economy and US politics. The well-to-do, the middle class, and the poor continue to pay their fair share. The “haves” and “have mores” as George Bush called them have had their tax burden greatly relieved and now we face a budget deficit that is a pretext for cutting essential government services that are important to the majority of Americans, but mean little or nothing to the have mores.

In addition to the tax structure tilted to the rich, there is a question of war profiteering and the failure to raise taxes to pay when this country goes to war as it has done too quickly in this century.

The Pentagon budget has doubled in the last 10 years–without even counting what our country has spent on the two wars. It now amounts to more than half of the money Congress appropriates to federal programs each year.

But the main problem is falling revenues and that related directly to the tax hatred and demagogery. A steep tax structure promotes investment in infrastructure, jobs and factories instead of second, third, and fourth homes for the captains of industry.

You are in a very difficult position. It seems you are the only woman on the Super Committee and perhaps this country’s needs more matriotism and less patriotism to turn it around. I send my thoughts to you with the prayer that you will stand larger than a single person on this committee and that you may turn the country in a new direction from your position.

Be strong, be well. Do wonderful things.

Sincerely,

I don’t have much time for this email activism, but I took a minute this morning. I am generally more directly involved in political action. I spend more time making signs and materials and engaging in political action than I do sending signing online petitions pleading for change in public policy. But I took a couple of minutes for this stuff this morning, mainly because FCNL asked me to take a minute.

The Friends, the Quakers, were the folks who ran the underground railroad moving enslaved humans to freedom when slavery was legal in part of our country. They probably wrote letters and signed petitions as well, but some of the friends of that era believed action was required.

We stand on the shoulders of giants. Will we stand? Do we stand for anything?

Which side are you on, boys and girls?

Be strong, be well, DO wonderful things.

Olympia Safe and Beautiful, Step 2

12 Sep

So, therPants on Dogs!e is lots of discussion about how scary it is downtown. It’s not just dirty, with houseless people urinating on the sidewalks, it’s just downright scary!!

It has been pretty clear for generations (and especially in the past decade) that the First Amendment right to assemble and petition for redress of grievance and to exercise free speech is just too inconvenient to remain on the books. Just look at the pedestrian interference ordinance. If the right to assemble for any reason interferes with the ability of a suburban shopper to come downtown and empty their wallet at a place like the Alpine Experience (just an example) instead of enjoying the homogenous shopping experience at Cabela’s or Walmart, then the first amendment is dispensable. Scotto Bear - wiki commons, is this legal?

The first amendment is archaic. The updated, if unofficial primary civil right appears to be the absolute right to shop in a safe and sterile environment. So, Amendment One – get out of the way.

So, aside from the fear that accrues from running into a strange looking person downtown, why don’t we make the downtown really safe by scuttling Amendment Two as well?

wiki commons - courtesy michaelpughWouldn’t we all feel safer if we knew when we head out to go shopping downtown that we are not going to be sharing the sidewalk with folks packing heat? Why is the Olympia City Council so timid. Dump the second amendment and let’s get the fourth out of the way as well.

Come on, let’s make the downtown really safe. Let’s outlaw any firearms in the downtown core and give the police blanket authority to conduct patdowns for weapons.

I want pants on dogs that are over twenty pounds as well. Some of these animals are just indecent. What’s up with that?

wiki commons - courtesy beat 768

These guys also should not be allowed downtown unless they promise to turn the volume down and act in a civilized manner.

Beauty and Safety in Downtown Olympia; Step 1 of 2

10 Sep

Let’s do the Downtown Oly two step. Let’s tackle beauty first:

Step 1: Holy smoke, there has been a lot discussion about how scary and disgusting it is to walk the street of downtown Olympia. The latest installment of this sad story ran in the Daily Zero on Sept 4th. It led with a line about drunks urinating on the sidewalks. Boy, is this a sad old story with an axe to grind. But, let’s just take it straight. Do drunks urinate on sidewalks in downtown Olympia. I think that could happen. Probably mainly at night because there are so few bathrooms available in downtown Olympia after hours unless you have the bills to buy a plate of food to get bathroom access.

I am downtown quite a bit and it just doesn’t scare me or disgust me. I get asked for money, I give it. I am tied in to this really old and weird spiritual tradition that included some lunacy about “ask and it shall be given'” and “love your enemy,” and relied on an economic model of trusting that when you need a coin or two, it will mysteriously pop out of the mouth or gut of a fish (apologies to my vegan friends, I don’t fish anymore) or will appear from a tiny seed. I digress…

Back to bathrooms. It seems to be a fact that if you have had the good fortune to be born into this world, it’s just going to be a matter of time before you will need to find a bathroom. And not just once. and not just during daylight hours. And sometimes you will be able to wait hours, and walk blocks to locate a bathroom, and sometimes, the bathroom better be right around the corner.

It’s too bad that we are in the position of having to discuss availability of bathrooms because in the whole ten thousand years of God’s creation, since Adam and Eve, there were always these interruptions where a human being is saying, hey, hold that thought, I will be right back, have to powder my nose or check on the Kaiser, pick your euphemism for that moment when nature calls.You would think that in all that time, we would have made peace with this inconvenience and recognized the need for public bathrooms with running water, sink, soap and connected to the “water treatment” system. But it appears we have not made that peace in downtown Olympia. Wiki Commons - Bucky Fuller's prefab shower, toilet, sink design, what a genious that guy was

So, instead of the war on the houseless and the “fallout” that attends having no standard residence, why don’t we just make sure that there are plenty of public bathrooms available in the downtown area, day and night?

The bathrooms already exist at Heritage Park, at Percival Landing, at Olympia Center, at the Capitol, at City Hall, at the Transit Center. Lots of municipalities, public buildings, and quasi-governmental agencies already have bathrooms installed all over downtown. Maybe we need to step up and recognize that economic conditions have put a lot of people on the street and while we work to sort out that dismal situation, maybe we need to make sure that folks without a house can have access to a bathroom and a sink? A showerstall or two would probably be appreciated, but lots of us have managed daily ablutions with just sink and soap, I know it can be done, even though there it’s not the same as a long, hot shower. I am not suggesting a spa for transients, just “comfort stations” at decent intervals.

I think we also need to put pants on the dogs downtown, but we will come back to that campaign once we have public bathrooms up and running.

Next Step? Safety downtown! Stay tuned.