Candlelight Vigil

Candlelight Vigil

This past Friday before Christmas, I lit a candle and kept it burning constantly throughout the holiday weekend. I have not extinguished it because it is my reminder of those who are serving in Occupations right now, around our state, our country and our world.  It is my reminder of all those around the globe who are standing up for what’s right, in spite of increasing aggression against them.  It reminds me of our shared plight and that the 99% knows no borders and is as global as the corporatism we stand in defiance of.

I can’t help but think of the Eternal Flame that burns at JFK’s grave site. The dream it was intended to represent, the visionary spirit.  President Kennedy is as fitting a martyr as any.  He appears to have been our last bastion of hope against what has since been a non-stop, machine timed march toward allowing corporations and the 1% to rule through their politician proxies.  Things might have been different had he not been murdered.

I have watched the candle’s flame flicker and dance in the gathering darkness and cannot avoid the irony embedded in the scene.  While it seems there are far too few flames burning for freedom and in opposition to the theft of our liberties, our numbers are growing each day.  Soon, the bright fires of righteousness will turn back the shadows that threaten now to swallow us up, to hide us, to silence us.

Each brave man, woman and child, willing to Occupy in the face of the forces that gather against them are now, and will ever be remembered in our history as the first to lay blocks in a wall of resistance against corporate rule via our corrupted systems.  All of you who are Occupying are doing the rest of us a great service, as you are a representation of the rapid erosion and restriction of our rights and liberties that have been achieved in secrecy to throttle such a public outcry against what they are doing to us.  You are the first of us, those in the mythological minority that we know by a different name:

The 99%.

It is for all of you that I burn this candle.  For my friends in Occupy Detroit, who stood this week against the worst kind of atrocity, the elimination of our public libraries.  To those who were arrested in defense of information and our right and access to it, I cannot say enough thank you’s.  My family thanks you, as we use the resources at our public library and believe in the value it provides.  To Ms. Emma Howland-Bolton, a personal thank you for all the work you are doing and the attention you have helped to bring this subject.

For my friends in Occupy KC, who have seen the mayor’s office insist the public pay to exercise their rights to free speech during their upcoming Death of Social Safety Net jazz funeral December 30th this week, I say, I will march with you.  I will add my candle with yours to illuminate the insanity of defunding these programs when they are most needed.  Government by the people and for the people….but I digress.  The candle I burn is for the struggles you are having from lack of funding, but it is also in hopes of continuing to build on your positive relationship with the KCPD.  Thank you to @gnuggitz for all your kind words and @loki8025 for all the late night sentry updates.

It is for my friends at Occupy Flint and Occupy Maine and Occupy Norfolk and Occupy Columbia, Mo.  It is for all of you because what you are doing now, well, that’s for all of us.

Merry Christmas from us here at American Spring.  Solidarity.

And Santa, if you’re listening, I’ll take world peace for Christmas…..or as a New Year’s Resolution if you think it might take a little longer than one night to deliver.

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Occupy KC, Dec 30 and The High Cost of Free Speech

The High Cost of Free Speech

Photo from Christian Soulliere, wonderfully talented photographer whose work can be found at christiansoulliere.com. Photo of: Occupy KC investigating a crime scene at the poster child for bank fraud, BofA.

 

It seems as though this country’s politicians have decided they can impose fees if we wish to exercise the rights guaranteed us as Americans.  It would appear those politicians feel as though they can use financial excuses to restrict my rights. They would have us believe that it’s within their power to restrict us with arguments of overtime and man hours spent.  They would have us buy in to the notion that we should be ‘polite’ enough not to challenge the assertions that their bottom line trumps the rights I have carried from birth.  They would have us believe that to object to this insane notion, this whimsy, you must be an anarchist.

For the good mayor of Kansas City and his police chiefs and department, I would assert that my freedom of speech isn’t subject to your budget cuts.  I would also say that what few tax dollars are really paid to the cops is all right with most taxpayers.  Let folks say what they have to say.  Someone should be speaking out against the loss of Medicare, Medicaid and the constant threats about Social Security.

I am not sure which is more disturbing, the misguided notion that politicians now can determine when, where and how Americans practice their rights, or the stunning reality that all too many of us are willing to swallow that pill.  Just like with the Patriot Act.  Just like with the NDAA.  The heady brew of media distortion and deception, pundits who galvanize talking points with repetitive sound bytes and well, damn politeness, has brought us here in virtual silence without dissent.

Doesn’t that frighten you the way it does me?  What world are we passing forward?  What world do we have left?

We are Americans, first and foremost, and while we have them, I will use my guaranteed rights until my last breath is gone.  I owe myself that.  We all do.

I support Occupy KC and plan on attending the jazz funeral.  We are taking our kids to show them the power of our democracy in action.  We are taking them because it’s damn good to be free.  I’m proud to be an American.  On December 30th, 2011, I intend to show it.  I ask that the police of Kansas City not scare my daughters, as I would not scare theirs.  I trust they will not, as they have had a good relationship with the Occupation to this point.

It is going to be a jazz style funeral, in Kansas City, who can resist that?  I love Kansas City.  I want to show the girls that part of our history, our culture, our past.  It saddens me, as such reunions during funerals often do, how fragile those things are now.

Our social safety net is not theirs to take.  We must speak out against this false assumption.

I ask that if you read this and can, please join us.  Occupy Kansas City represents something increasingly important in our society.  It represents us.  We are the 99%.

Hope to see you there.
Solidarity.

Details on the march can be found here.

The New Frontier

The New Frontier

We were warned of this from the beginning, by Benjamin Franklin himself, when answering a woman who’d asked what sort of government the Founders had settled on.  “A Republic, ma’am,” he was reported to have answered, “if you can keep it.”

It is a difficult thing to process, when it all fully settles over you.  The truth is a heavy burden to carry.  Yet once we understand it, this unfolding truth around us, in the reality of the struggles of our daily lives, it screams at us to wake up and urgently calls us to action.  The increasingly desperate glances we exchange, the deepening furrows of worry on our brows, are road maps that can be used to trace our paths to these troubled times and point toward even rougher still ahead.

What happened to the promise of an opportunity to earn a decent wage, send your kids to college, own an affordable house? They have used our American Dream against us and while sneaking it away in front of our eyes. They continue to advance their hideous agenda each and every day they remain in power.

None of us ever expected to wake up to this.  Far too few of us saw this coming.  Those who did, and said so, were and have been, marginalized and pushed to the side for decades, as dissent was simply buried by the propaganda mill of corporate public relation firms.  Now, with the NDAA, they have now legalized other ways to deal with those who would dare speak out.

The MTV adds, depicting the military roundup of an average American family and loading them onto a flatbed truck is haunting before they crystallize it in your mind with an unforgettable image that is now chillingly true:

THE HOLOCAUST HAPPENED TO PEOPLE LIKE US.

I grew up believing in the promise of America while it was preached literally and figuratively, in politics and in the news, that we needed a big, overwhelming military to combat the Soviets.  Growing up, literally, in this part of Missouri, where the fear-fest propaganda movie ‘The Day After’ was based, I was thoroughly immersed in the big military, big business, pro-corporate, free market dream Ronald Reagan both endorsed domestically and enforced abroad.

Reagan threw the door open for this march toward what we have now. The enforcement of complete free market enforcement of all our previously 'free' tax payer funded services. Like the Post Office. Which is a Constitutional guarantee. Our forefathers knew the freedom to exchange information freely, through any means commonly in use, is the right of the people.

He delivered significant blows to the powers of the workers and unions when he defeated the air traffic controllers so thoroughly.  From there, it was off and running on a platform of deregulation that allowed companies like GM to do what was done to Flint.

This at home, while we exported terror globally, in support of the oppression of human rights if it serves the corporate masters.

Those conflicts that litter South and Central America in the latter part of the Twentieth Century, were the laboratories, to borrow a phrase from Naomi Klein, in which a kind of new philosophy, one designed to enforce the economic will of the 1% at gunpoint, was hatched and unleashed by an evil minority.  It was honed into a weapon and the unholy alliance of corporate warfare and legitimate warfare was forged as the few steered this country into making it more than foreign policy, they made it sound, via the corporate megaphones the politicians themselves had allowed by deregulation, as though it came with divine endorsement.

They worked tirelessly to galvanize the American public into endorsing the export of terror.  They conspired to hide the truth of what our military, this nation’s most valuable resource, has been asked to do in our names.  Blind acceptance has been achieved by funneling down the points of view we are exposed to.

Apathy is expected to become common practice.  Turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to what’s going on.  Pay no attention to what’s behind the curtain, Dorothy.  It is time that we let go of the myths that CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, MSNBC and the like inform us.  They don’t.  They aren’t going to help us.  The New York Times, LA Times and Wall Street Journal aren’t going to help us.  Editors don’t pick topics and types of coverage that go against the bottom line interests of the corporations that own them.  They would lose their jobs if they did.  They are paid to keep us uninformed.  For them, it’s good business.  They serve advertisers, not subscribers.  That is a common problem these days and and one can draw the parallel between it and our own government systems and institutions without me using a neon sign.

MTV has done that.  I am thankful they have.  It is time we all wake up and seek a little truth.  Bradley Manning, whom we remember today, is accused of informing the American public of the sins committed in our name, funded by our tax dollars.  This bravery should be rewarded, not punished and certainly not tortured, as Manning has been during his wait now over a year and a half, to go on trial for exposing the truth.

Obama is a continuation of Bush Jr. is a continuation of Clinton is a

Obama and his administration have continued and expanded upon the previous administration's blatant disregard for Constitutional Rights. We are waking up to find the promise 0f change here rings hollow, as it is obvious, they all work for the highest bidders.

continuation of Bush Sr. which is a continuation of Reagan.  We’ve been on this path for awhile.  Government by and for the highest bidder isn’t a new concept.  It’s just now becoming blatantly obvious that they own it all, the media, the government, the military, the police, the economy and so on.  They don’t have to play nice any more and so now, they won’t.  They will not be happy until we are all living in shantytowns.  This is what the policies they are putting into place will lead us to.  Look at a history book.  It is absolutely terrifying what we have endorsed while we were sleeping for the past few decades.  Look at this country just in the last eleven short years.  From the ‘crisis’ and ‘confusion’ that sprung up around the 2000 election until now.

They have set us on a very definite path.  The models for what they are doing are sprinkled throughout recent history, in examples we can all remember from our own lifetimes.  They are doing it before our very eyes on American soil, in front of our eyes.

My sister the other day, remarked of the beard I’ve taken to wearing for the first time in my life, that it reminded her of our grandfather.  She was right.  I cannot deny the resemblance.  I cannot help but think of him as I’m writing this now.  He was a Southern Baptist preacher all his adult life, working and serving all around Missouri.  He was a World War II veteran, although he didn’t talk about his experience, in the South Pacific, much at all.  He was a lifelong Republican, proud of a letter he once had received from President Ronald Reagan.  I wonder what he would think of what is happening here now.  Or my uncle, who also served, in Vietnam.  This was not what they shed their blood to protect.  The corporate agenda and welfare aren’t worth a single drop of American military blood, anywhere in the world.  That is too high a price to ever pay.  It is especially obvious we are doing it now, as we see the development of a US led military force in Africa.  It is all  for the profit and gain of a very few.  Engaging in that practice means we must surrender the moral high ground we seem to claim we still have, in spite of actions to the contrary.

This corrupt system needs perpetual warfare to survive, even if that means unleashing the industry on people like us as the police state becomes more militarized.  Look at the MTV video. This is not what democracy looks like.  This is something far, far different.

The link to the chilling video can be found here.  Take a moment to look through the site.  Let me know what you think.  I’m anxious to hear what you have to say.  Follow on Twitter @AmericanSpring.

Thanks for your time and to all of you out there Occupying (including and most especially the following groups: Occupy Norfolk, Occupy Flint, Occupy Detroit, Occupy Maine and all the rest) and all of us who understand the importance of this moment in time, including my brothers and sisters who stand in Missouri in St. Louis and those who raise their fist in Occupy KC, I say solidarity.

We are the 99%.  We must use our rights while we have them.

In Solidarity

If you like what we are doing, please follow on twitter @AmericanSpring. Thanks. http://www.americanspring2001.com

 

Members of the 99% and Occupations everywhere:

I wrote these words more than three months ago, the week before the Occupation of Wall Street began.  I would like to share these words with you now, as with the NDAA and other pending legislation, with the coming of American austerity and the police state that enforces it, I feel they are as important as ever.  It was written to my online fb group, American Spring, but with a few modifications it is true of all of us.  I offer it to you in solidarity this morning of December 17, 2011.  I am with you.  We all are, more and more each day.

While we may disagree on many things, the following is common ground.

I understand corporations own the media.

I understand corporations own our food.

I understand corporations own our oil.

I understand corporations own our banks.

I understand corporations own our medical systems.

I understand we have government for and by the highest bidder.

I understand they are paid to perpetuate a cycle of continual war.

I understand they are paid to position us into debt slavery.

I understand they are attacking our economy.

I understand they are attacking the social safety net.

I understand they are attacking education.

I understand they are attacking our environmental protections.

I understand they are attacking our financial regulations.

I understand they are attacking our food and drug regulations.

I understand they are attacking the unions.

I understand they are attacking our personal liberties.

I understand they are attacking our freedom.

I understand they are attacking minorities.

I understand they are attacking the poor.

I understand they are attacking all of us.

I understand that our government has used the tactics of debt slavery on other countries in order to suppress a population, Bolivia as one example.

I understand that our government has supported the use of torture, both directly by US personnel and by supporting it’s use in other countries, Egypt as one example.

I understand that our government has supported police states around the world, Bahrain as one example.

I understand that our government has supported using police state tactics here, San Francisco as one example.

I understand ‘supercongress’ is not part of the Constitutional decision making process.

I understand Ben Bernanke suggested our congress fall in and perhaps needs a different decision making process than the Constitution.

The corporations believe the Fed is going to print more money and put is further in ‘debt’.  This is why stocks have risen in the past two business days.  This is the same situation as Greece, as Bolivia, etc.  This means higher gas, higher food, higher everything for us.  We are held hostage by a debt we didn’t create while we buy and fund a war machine that is attempting to monopolize resources.  It is the global economic beast, the financial black hole.  It is made, right here in the U.S. of A.

I understand it is about more than a pipeline.

I understand it is about more than a single issue.

We all stand against slavery, worldwide.

This perfected tool of fascism, this American Empire, must NOT be allowed to continue.

It must NOT be allowed to take another breath.

I understand what we are facing.

I understand there is no political answer.

I understand our system is too corrupted for that.

I understand we are in a different time in human history.

I understand this is about more than country.

I understand this is about more than race.

I understand this is about more than background.

I understand this is about more than differences.

I understand this is about more than any of it.

I understand this is about ALL of it.

I understand what time it is.

Justify

It is ironic that the day I read the reply from Vigilant Vicky Hartzler’s ‘office’ to my letter in the Lake Sun Leader, the House voted to pass the NDAA, allowing the US military to come into our homes, in the middle of the night, without cause or warrant, zip tie us up and take us away to a secret military detention center.  As I read the condescending, dismissive tone used by ‘the office of Vicky Hartzler’, in an attempt to somehow justify the arrest of an admittedly peaceful Missourian who chose to wait for her in the office we provide her, and as she prepares to cast a vote in favor of SOPA which will allow the government to shut down any website under vague and broad jurisdiction, I am left with only one response.

This is what a police state looks like.

 

Members of Occupy KC in on Capitol hill during a week of solidarity actions in Washington, D.C.

To the ‘Office of Vicky Hartzler’, whatever that is supposed to mean:

I have to ask what ‘responsibilities’ you think come with our First Amendment rights as you prepare to make a vote to shut down internet web sites?  That, I think, might be good for us to know.  Do we have the ‘responsibility’ to practice our freedom of speech and talk with our officials directly?  Wait, that is a right still, isn’t it?  I must say that your ‘office’s’ attempt at setting the record straight really seems to provide more questions than answers.  In fact, given my own disapproval of your having Missourians arrested, I wonder how long will it be, Vigilant Vicky, before you have the military snatch me up for dissent?  Do you accept revised history’s version of ‘enhanced interrogation’?  Never mind.  The NDAA authorized torture too, so it’s a mute point.

I reject your pro-corporate policies and agendas.  You serve your masters who threw millions into the race in 2010, getting you elected on an overwhelming wave of propaganda.  Since taking office, you have done nothing, other than lead the rally cry for ending all rules for big business and the banks, although you call it a ‘moratorium on job-killing regulations’ and an end to ‘government overreach’.  The regulations we used to have would have protected us from 2008 and what we are still facing now.  Those regulations were removed by those of your kind.

This ‘office’ you have doesn’t represent the majority of this district because we are the 99%.  Rep. Hartzler, you and the people you represent certainly aren’t us.  If we were, you might have had guts enough to justify the arrest yourself.

American Technocrats

American Technocrats

Earlier this year, I heard the story of Benton Harbor, Michigan.  I watched this textbook example of corporate and banking control over our political systems play out in what turned out to be a preview of what has now befallen previously sovereign nations in Europe.  The story, if you aren’t familiar with it, is an absolutely sickening example of the complete corporate subversion and corruption that has infected our political systems.

It shows that democracy in America is now subject to big corporate interests and big banks bottom lines.  It is run by and for the welfare of the 1% and, as the historical record shows, that is in direct opposition of the people’s welfare.  It requires ‘government led crackdowns’ on the resulting

One needs look no further than Obama to see the face of the complete corruption of our processes. He has shown himself to be in goosestep with the previous administration's pro-corporate policies.

civil unrest to enforce this transition, as the population will always rise to resist such measures.

 

Flint, Michigan is the latest city to undergo a hostile takeover of their democratic processes.  The city’s fall into economic oblivion was made famous by native Michael Moore’s first foray into film, as it was one of the first victims of corporate greed. Once again, we can look to the poor city of Flint as they are once again blazing a sad trail in the history of America.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican (not that it matters anymore), appointed an EFM for the city of Flint.  The Emergency Financial Manager title is not a new one in Michigan, as Flint becomes the fourth city in the state to have its democratic processes taken away by the appointment of such an overseer.  Detroit’s Public School system has also been placed under the control of unelected technocrats.  It has been rumored and threatened that Detroit will be the next victim of this stripping away power from the votes of people. It would appear that turning this power over to private institutions, accountable to no one, is in season for Michigan.

Mike Brown, a Democrat (see above disclaimer) who formerly held the position of mayor of Flint, was named EFM.  He came in with scissors

The American Technocrats will not stop at the township level. We have already heard the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, a private company, that our Congress would have to fix how it makes it's decisions to accomodate a healthier bottom line for the Fed.

blazing and immediately hacked away the salaries and benefits of the city council and took abolished city council meetings.  He fired city employees and, in a move that shows forward thinking, eliminated a complaint investigation office and the staff administering civil service laws for employees.

Democracy in Detroit is not far behind.  Detroit Mayor Bing has come out in favor of the appointment of an EFM to take over making decisions for the city.  Detroit has already begun instituting austerity measures that have included forcing city union workers to accept massive cuts to wages and benefits while their costs for health care increase.  They intend to cut more than 2,300 city jobs.  This also means, for those of you keeping score at home, that there will be fewer fire fighters.   I honestly don’t know if these cuts include the police force, but I doubt it.  They likely anticipate a need for them as they continue to enforce American Austerity. If this weren’t enough, Detroit’s workers are being forced to take pension reductions and a face upcoming changes in ‘work rules’.

That last vague threat suddenly reminds us that here in our own state of Missouri, politicians have changed our rules regarding child labor to allow for our advancement toward a Chinese modeled workforce and for the insane notions of the corporate conservative viewpoint that poor kids should be janitors to be a reality.

The internet and free flow of uncontrolled information it allows for has shown Americans that we are not alone in our plight, even though our major media refuses to acknowledge that.  Corporations have managed to globalize our banking systems, our economies and are bent, it seems, as events in Europe continue to unfold, on extending globalization to our political systems.

What they did not count on was that they have also globalized resistance to this philosophy.

We stand in the midst of a global awakening as the methods that support oppressing the 99% are used in country after country, in the Middle East, in Europe, in Oakland.  We are seeing clearly for the first time, the intentions of the 1%, as they simply take the power they’ve bought and paid our politicians for and use it against us.  They are forcing us into austerity by socializing their debts to us, worldwide.  They are using our political system against us in a free-for-all of pro-corporate legislation and deregulation, while taking away all of our people’s benefits, rights and now, votes.

We are the 99%.  We are the 99% in Russia.  In Egypt.  In Tunisia.  In Greece.  Spain, Italy, France, Germany.  In the UK.  In Durbin, South Africa.  In Bahrain.  In Yemen.

We are the 99% in New York, in Oakland, in Minnesota, in Phoenix, in Philadelphia.

We are the 99% in St. Louis, where they stand strong in defiance against both the efforts of the police to discourage them and the elements.

We are the 99% in Kansas City, where side by side, men and women of both political stripes have managed to find plenty of common ground to stand on in defense of our common good.

We are the 99% who live and work in the direct heart of this state and, as pointed out by the latest round of census data, the nation.

We will maintain and protect our rights, our liberties.  These are rights of our birth, paid for in blood.  We will use them to resist this subversion of our union by the corporate forces massed against us.  We stand against the corporate control and corruption of our institutions and we stand against your agenda to further eliminate the rules you have to follow.

The time of the 99%, contrary to popular reports, is far from over.  People of all stripes are beginning to see the truth and are coming to the same conclusion.  It is time to protect our democracy from those who would do it immeasurable harm.

The Phantom Menace

The Phantom Menace

In a full week that included having Missourians arrested for petitioning her office for a meeting, Vicky Hartzler provided yet another piece of evidence of her incompetence in office.  The following is a direct quote from our very own Vigilant Vicky, Thursday afternoon:

”The House passed a bill to stop the runaway EPA’s crazy new proposed regulation regulating farm dust-another exp. of Washington’s over reach.”

Vigilant Vicky, in all her glory, was swinging her flaming sword at

Vicky Hartzler is beginning to forge quite a history with the events of the past week. Hartzler is moving forward with her pro-corporate agenda, even if lying is necessary.

Washington and their needless rules and regulations, fighting hard to free corporations from the shackles of rules.  She sounded especially proud of herself for this particular bill, trumpeting her efforts for all Missourians to be proud of.

But the picture is not complete.

From the Washington Post:

‘The EPA’s new dust rule did not exist. It never did.

Still, the specter of this rule has spurred three bills to prevent it , one of which was approved Thursday by a House subcommittee. It sparked a late-night battle on the Senate floor. GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain cited it in a debate as a reason to eliminate the EPA.

The hubbub over this phantom rule — surely one of the most controversial regulations that never was — involved a slow-moving federal agency and a Republican Party with the EPA in its crosshairs.’

The victory claimed by Vigilant Vicky and the rest of her pro-corporate, deregulation cabal is absolutely and completely false.  Ms Hartzler approved a bill to countermand a rule that isn’t in place.  The EPA has no farm dust rule.

I can take a lot of things, Ms Hartzler.  I am used to a certain built-in level of corruption where our public officials are concerned.  But to be so bent on inventing and promoting a political win that would seem to ‘create’ momentum for even more corporate deregulation is a special kind of frightening.  This, of course, during a week that has earned you the title of Vigilant Vicky, after having been so pro-active as to arrest Missourians in your office instead of, you know, talking to them.  Many things I can stand, Ms Hartzler, but to be both a bully and to be ignorant of what you are voting on,  that I cannot.  We will not allow the lowest common denominator to be the sole voice of this District of Missouri.  You represent the lunatic fringe of corporatism run amuck and we the people, the 99%, are quite tired of that

Vicky Hartzler.  Do us a favor.  Don’t make another vote on something you don’t know the facts on.  It is that kind of careless behavior that has brought our democracy here.