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Democracy

7:03 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Town meeting by Norman Rockwell – flickr creative commons

Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. – Winston Churchill

Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination. – Wikipedia

Churchill is only partially correct since we have not tried very many other forms of government.  Feudalism,  theocracy, various dictatorships – those are the biggies. Even a democracy appears oppressive and despotic if one is a member of a minority group whose voice is not heard and whose needs are not met. Indeed even a dictatorship can work just fine for those who support it and benefit from it. I am sure that there were a large number of Germans who did very well under Hitler as there were a large number of Spaniards who did well under Franco.

Query – can there still be a democracy where everybody is represented equally and still be repressive? Yes – absolutely. If one is a member of a minority group, even if represented in the governing body, that governing body can rule against you. Just because one has a say does not mean one will not be overruled consistently.

Then can you truly have a democracy? Yes..OWS proved that you can indeed. However OWS did not have leaders as such. There were facilitators but they had no real power and decisions were made by consensus which required the participation of the entire group.

How well would this work with something the size of a state or country? Or would it? We have seen the town meetings they have in the New England area. This works well for those involved. Should a country’s central government be involved with or make laws and legislation that only concerns one particular area and/or group, or should that be left to those involved. And conversely, should the problems and concerns of a particular group or area be visited upon the rest of the country?

Even if everyone in a group or area did participate locally and sent representatives to meet with other representatives, would their concerns be considered? These are questions this country has been trying to deal with since the beginning.  Even with the original 13 very sparsely populated states, consensus was oft times hard to establish.

Ideally everyone’s concern would be considered when governing. This becomes increasingly difficult and problematic when you add personalities, idealism and beliefs into the mix. When you add extremism to it and small participation, you get a very dysfunctional arrangement indeed.

We have a lot more to overcome here then than just political stubbornness and corruption.

Where’s The Beef ? or The Best Damn OWS Advice so far.

8:18 am in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Pissed Off Cat - flickr

Ted Rall was here for and FDL Book Salon a while back. I try to visit his site at least ones a week. He has a guest post there this week which goes along with that was covered in the Salon and to me some of the best advice for OWS I have heard so far. Then ending summary pretty much says it all.

The OWS mentality reminds me of a particular piece of advice that I’ve been told phone company linemen used to get as part of their training back in the 1970s. When you’re up on a wooden phone pole, if you slip, your instinctive reaction is to try to grab hold of the pole. By the time you realize you’re falling though, you’ve already achieved too much speed to be able to stop yourself that way. Grabbing the pole in that situation would be identical to pressing your chest and arms against the world’s largest cheese grater. The splintery wood on the outside of the phone poll would simply rip through your shirt and skin, and you’d arrive at the bottom of the poll as a bloody mess with a big smear of blood and tissue marking the trail you took down. When you start to slip, so went the advice, you have to accept that you are already committed and hope that the two broken legs you’ll be getting when you hit the sidewalk will teach you to be more careful next time.

That’s the lesson the OWSers still haven’t grasped. They think there’s a painless, bloodless way out of this for them. Sure, for a very small number of the 99% there is. But for many of the 99%, they’re already in freefall but still think that, somehow, their legs aren’t going to shatter when they hit the concrete.

You can’t try to change the system while you continue to empower it by using the smart phones, the credit cards, the Facebook accounts, the Twitter posts, and all the rest. You don’t get to have so many amusements and distractions and an “oh, we’re serious, but, golly, we don’t want to give up our shiny little toys and we don’t want to suffer” mentality AND get to win.

Look at the Montgomery Bus Boycott. It took over a year. And why did the bus company cave in? Because the 1% only took 1% of the seats and only paid 1% of the fares. The blacks were the essential lifeblood of the bus line economy. If OWS wants to win, they need to start organizing and start applying economic pressure, just like was done back in the 1950s. Enough with the theatrics. Yes, a flair for the dramatic helps, but it’s window dressing. Enough with trying to shame the bankers. Either figure out what you’re doing or quit your bitching. Enough with these pointless, idiotic, quixotic tantrums.

This has been my main complaint with the OWS movement all along. And my biggest complaint with the left in general. This insistence on protesting in a nice, agreeable, consenting manner. Doing that is not a protest !

Look at the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement and the union strikes. They were NOT NICE or agreeable. The whole point is to be a major but major thorn in the side of the system. Which carries the risk of “getting your legs broken”.

That’s what makes it a protest.

As I see it

9:06 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

OWS Police Wall - flickr

We find ourselves in a deteriorating situation where the government has become almost completely unresponsive to the people, totally ignoring their wishes. Trust hit rock bottom and both political parties are locked into some cultish ideological battle. But still working feverishly to maintain the status quo at all costs.

The police and even the rescue squads no longer serve the citizens and now brutalize any attempt at redress of grievances with military tactics on the orders of the government itself.

There are few options open to us, as far as I can tell.

We can sit by and watch as the system eventually comes crashing down but who knows how long this may take and how much suffering may occur.

Try to reform the system, but this has been tried time and again with the same results of little or no real action and now even no visible appeasement.

Support and vote for some third party candidate but in over 200 years this country has existed only one third party candidate has ever been elected to office: Millard Fillmore of the WHIG party. Most of the Whigs became republicans.

Leave the country. Assuming you can find one that will take you. This generally requires a good deal of money and would require that money be transferred to a foreign institution and converted into some other form, say Euros or gold or something else other than dollars.

Take direct action against the system in ways that may seem small but in mass can be quite effective.  During the Vietnam war there were people in the service who were themselves against the war. They would get assigned to areas that dealt with the draft and intake. Once there, new draftees would have their paperwork altered, lost, misplaced or some such so as to keep them from being sent to Vietnam. Or they would be in the examination office and have some draftees that could, be rejected for one reason on another.

Or sometimes engage in sabotage or subversion. Engaging in what was known as “Malicious Obedience” where you gleefully do what you are told to the letter all the while knowing it will end in complete disaster.

In other words fighting the system anyway you can in a subversive manner.  Since the systems is going to self destruct, give it a helping hand.

Or just do nothing … ?

How to Occupy Wall Street without tents.

12:00 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

This video is going viral and I just love the concept. HA OWS _ Junk Mail.

Here is the link to the transcript.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/29/1031267/–Keep-Wall-Street-Occupied-Let-s-Help-This-Go-Viral-

OWS _ Junk Mail.

On financial collapse, OWS, revolution, evolution and non-violence.

9:03 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Clear Creek Food Cooperative - Flicker

I have been reading and listening and watching a lot these last few months. From people like Glenn Greenwald and Chris Hedges to Carl Dix and Cornel West.   About revolution and OWS and non-violent protest and the military’s response to civil unrest and dislocation caused by some next economic collapse, crash and/or catastrophe.  The right, libertarians all convinced that THEY are the targets and the left convinced that THEY are the targets and Wall Street the same.

All the hubris aside, I think it’s time to take a few steps back and try to see the whole picture.

For one thing any total economic collapse will take a long time to ensue.  It well most assuredly come about however we are talking about a global economy here. Not just 3 or 4 blocks in NYC. And you really cannot compare it to the Soviet Union since the Soviet Union was for the most part a closed system. Even then it took them a number of years to come apart.  Also the powers that be will continue to attempt to prop up the current system/situation which will delay this even further.

There will be no massive taking to the streets be the general populace, OWS not with standing.  People are simply too concerned with getting on with their own lives and living day to day the best they can. Most take little notice in what is happening on a statewide or country wide scale let alone a global scale. They are more interested in making sure they have food on the table and a roof over their heads the same as the have for years.  Even during the depths of the depression of the 1930s there were more people in bread lines than there were protesting the current injustice. So I really do not see masses of folks with gins and knives and pitch forks and fiery torches marching on Wall Street or Washington.  Even the Greeks have gone home to eat some pita and Kalofagas for a while.

Here is a little story. After the hurricanes that hit Florida in the 2004 and 2005 season and the media was making them into the next spectacle of the week, I went out to see just what was going on. What I saw was one guy with his pay-loader clearing one of the streets. He was not told to, he just went out and did it. In another part of town people were clearing the roads and their properties  of downed cables and lines and branches so that the first responders and utilities could get into the area to finish the job.  In other words people just did what needed to be done.

And this is what I truly believe will be and is being done right now.  It is no coincidence that we are seeing a bigger interest in community clinics, do-it-yourself, small farms, farmers markets. As the big multinationals slowly fail.  Metro areas looking and seriously implementing solar power by putting solar arrays on roof tops.

As each of these big, over priced and inefficient systems fail,  people are doing what needs to be done to replace them with local and/or regional initiatives. Cooperative farms and businesses.  People leaving the big banks and going to credit unions.  Local clinics etc.

As the extreme right and the extreme left argue and fight over the roll of the federal government, the federal government itself is becoming less and less responsive to either and heading slowly toward irrelevancy.  Both sides are in delusion. The right thinking they can have the 1950s back and the left the 1970s where everything was beautiful.and nothing hurt. We are seeing that will not be the case even as we speak.  With the metro exo-burbs slowly but steadily declining as people leave. Here in NE Ohio I can find houses upon houses in these upscale communities for sale with the prices being dropped over and over again.  Where the big Malls and big box stores getting emptied and will soon be idle.  One by one the smaller factories are closing and with each their suppliers closing. So as these behemoth monoliths get emptied,  they can sometimes put to more useful purposes.

In the health fields we will see the slow and inevitable collapse of the big private health facilities with their over priced and over payed professionals being forced to leave or maybe, maybe even joining a community center. Bringing real health care to people who need it. I know this sounds really optimistic but stranger things have happened.

And those jobs that people want to see come back, will not. Japanese, Swiss and German firms are now gearing up to make robots to take over even the least skilled tasks of assembly and Chinese manufacturers wanting to automate their “sweat shops”. Even robotic security guards.

What we will see and what were are seeing then is a move toward smaller specialty companies that are regionally located and regionally focused instead of the big industrial firms we once had.

So as the right wing nuts see their glorious move toward some libertarian utopia and the extreme left dreams of a peoples revolution,  the people themselves are just getting on with it.  Doing what they see needs to be done.

Which is as it should be.  The problem with historical times is that we generally do not see them as what they really are except in an historical perspective.  So the best possible thing that I can see come out of the OWS and other such movements is the continued enlightening of each community to what is happening.   And helping each initiative when ever possible. And forget those pie in the sky ideas.

 

Federal involvement with the crackdown on OWS redux or what was old is new again.

8:56 am in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Some may say this is water under the bridge or that we should be concentrating on the extreme right IE Tea Party attempts on disrupting and discrediting the movement. But to me this is the most disturbing part of the continued repression that has once again surfaced. Naomi Wolf gave a credible account – to this writer – of the involvement of the federal government in the continued crackdown on public descent.

For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, “we are going after these scruffy hippies”. Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command: first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen and women’s wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King, to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).

In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.

Anyone who had been involved with the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement of the 1950s through the 1970s would find this not nearly as surprising as some others. Very like the tactics of COINTELPRO used by the FBI – who gets it’s marching orders from the Justice Department.

According to attorney Brian Glick in his book War at Home, the FBI used four main methods during COINTELPRO:

  1. Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents.
  2. Psychological Warfare From the Outside: The FBI and police used a myriad of other “dirty tricks” to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong-armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists.
  3. Harassment Through the Legal System: The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, “investigative” interviews, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters.[20]
  4. Illegal Force and Violence: The FBI conspired with local police departments to threaten dissidents; to conduct illegal break-ins in order to search dissident homes; and to commit vandalism, assaults, beatings and assassinations.[20][21][22] The object was to frighten, or eliminate, dissidents and disrupt their movements.

The FBI specifically developed tactics intended to heighten tension and hostility between various factions in the black militancy movement, for example between the Black Panthers, the US Organization and the Blackstone Rangers. This resulted in numerous deaths, among which were the US Organization assassinations of San Diego Black Panther Party members John Huggins, Bunchy Carter and Sylvester Bell.[20]

The FBI also conspired with the police departments of many U.S. cities (San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Philadelphia, Chicago) to encourage repeated raids on Black Panther homes—often with little or no evidence of violations of federal, state, or local laws—which resulted directly in the police killing of many members of the Black Panther Party, most notably the assassination of Chicago Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton on December 4, 1969.[20][21][22][23]

Would it really be all that surprising to find out that DHS – along with the FBI – would uses some of the exact same tactics on OWS ? I think not. But Josh Holland seems to.

The difference between local officials talking to each other — or federal law enforcement agencies advising them on what they see as “best practices” for evicting local occupations — and some unseen hand directing, incentivizing or coercing municipalities to do so when they would not otherwise be so inclined is not a minor one. It’s not a matter of semantics or a distinction without difference. As I wrote recently, “if federal authorities were ordering cities to crack down on their local occupations in a concerted effort to wipe out a movement that has spread like wildfire across the country, that would indeed be a huge, and hugely troubling story. In the United States, policing protests is a local matter, and law enforcement agencies must remain accountable for their actions to local officials. Local government’s autonomy in this regard is an important principle.”

The problem here is that Holland is a known lackey and brown shirt for the democratic establishment and very, very deluded in his view of this countries political motives and ties to the money in Wall Street and other places.  Naomi has now given further evidence – as if more were needed – to her claims of heavy federal involvement in the repression that is being seen.

My evidence for federal coordination with local police exceeds the Wonkette citation, which was not, in fact, the basis of my confidence in writing about this coordination in the crackdown. I relied, rather, on many other sources of evidence. Among them, I was relying on what NYPD told me itself. I am certain that NYPD coordinates with federal authorities in OWS-related arrests because an NYPD official informed me that they did so through the bars of my cell, as part of his formal warning to me before my release, apparently to deter me from activities that might result in my rearrest. As I reported in the Guardian on 19 October 2011, part of the seventh precinct sergeant’s caution to me about what could happen to me if I was arrested again, if I “rejoined [my] friends the protesters”, was a threat based on his assertion of federal coordination with the arrests. He told me that in a second arrest, I would be photographed and fingerprinted, and the data fed into a federal database, to follow me forever. My partner, Avram Ludwig, confirmed that he was given the same warning about his data being fed into a federal database in the event of a future arrest.

Holland is more dangerously wrong in insisting on his conclusion of merely local police response – without reporting on what DHS is doing right now in response to the FOIA requests by many organisations about its possible involvement in the OWS crackdown. Holland should be aware that DHS, as of this writing, is not denying all involvement in response to the FOIA requests. Rather, the agency is on record as taking a legal position that appears to reflect some possible participation, at least at staff levels below the senior one: as Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the DC Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, wrote to me yesterday:

“We have filed FOIA demands with multiple federal agencies seeking public release of information related to coordination of the Occupy Crackdown. It is not credible for the federal agencies to suggest that they have no involvement in (and are somehow not paying attention to) law enforcement response to the Occupy movement both on a tactical and political level.

Our constitutional rights litigation on behalf of demonstrators over the years has uncovered time and again federal agency involvement in what were initially claimed to be local police actions.”

And as any child of the 1960s knows, local police work very heavily with and to shield from view, the federal governments roll in any police actions.   But this should be old news to any who have studied the strike breaking tactics used in the 1920s, 30s and 40s as well as the civil rights and anti-war activists. Now the union and white middle class are learning what African Americans have known for a very long time.  That they have few friends in Washington whose orders come directly from Wall Street and Corporate America.

Is it any wonder that there as been relatively little been said from the White House or Congress on OWS ?

That the Democrats in particular have been resolutely silent  about the largest demonstrations in years ?

OWS: To Change the Country, We Just Might Have to Change Ourselves

8:29 am in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

A Lot Of Lightbulbs (Photo: b-tal, flickr)

A Lot Of Lightbulbs (Photo: b-tal, flickr)

There is an old Light Bulb Joke that goes “How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb ? A: One. But it really has to want to change.”  Don Hazen in this Alternet article points out why we – as progressives – have not been very (it at all) successful at getting the change we need.  And why we need to learn rather than preach to OWS. To be the disciple.

For decades, we progressive Boomers (I am one) and Gen Xers have continued doing things the way we always have, believing that if we only organized a little better, raised more money, were a little smarter, tweaked the message just so, success would be ours. But we could not discover how to make a dent in the political hegemony of banks and corporations, in the political corruption, in unjust laws that protect the powerful. Life in the social and economic realms has declined over the past decades — for the working class, poor people, people of color, students, and increasingly the middle class. Meanwhile, more and more corporate money is invested to game the system. The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United was the last nail in the coffin, giving yet more influence over our “democracy” to the 1 percent.

Oh we have tried working within the system using the system’s rule and failed. There were also those who insisted on tearing the system down and replacing it. But this would be akin to an alcoholic blowing up every bar in town in order to get sober. Only to build another one themselves and continue to get drunk.

While millions suffer with joblessness, underwater mortgages and student debt, many in the progressive establishment are well-paid and thriving, fighting a battle on many fronts that it seems we are doomed to continue to lose. Why? Perhaps it is because our system and way of doing things mirrors the oppressive system in many ways. There is nothing revolutionary about movement professionals trying to negotiate with the Obama administration to tweak one policy or another. Or spending time convincing Americans to sign another petition or offer financial support — things I personally promote, so I do not write this from a place of any superiority, nor do I have an immediate clear idea of how to change it, except that we must try.

This is the heart of the matter.  That for change to occur we ourselves have to change. Read the rest of this entry →

Some very disturbing questions about the OWS crack down ?

7:25 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Question raised by this Alternet article.

1. Who convened the mayors call?

Was it the White House ? Was it the FBI ? Homeland Security ?

2. Was there an attempt to control press coverage?

Why was it that ONLY certain NYC papers had any news ? And why was the coverage biased and blasphemous of OWS ?

3. What, if any, was the role of the White House?

Why no response fro Obama and the White House ? Why no response from anyone in congress to speak of ?

4. Was the Department of Homeland Security involved in the raids?

What part (if any) did they play in all of this ?

5. What, if any, was the role of the FBI?

There are rumors that that FBI had a lot to do with how the police responded. What was their part ?

6. Where are the libertarians?

Where are these constitution loving people who make such a big deal out of gun rights and states rights etc. ?

And I have a question of my own.

Why does this whole situation remind me of Tiananmen Square or some Soviet Block country circa 1966 ?

 

Where in OWS are they ? The missing.

11:39 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

“The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they’re an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They’ve got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They’ve got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying ­ lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else.” - George Carlin

As one lady put it on an episode of Bill Mahr “You cannot separate class from race in America.  The preponderance of black people in this country are disproportionately poor.”  Not only that those in power – those with the money – do not care about those who are poor. And in fact they hate the very idea of those much less well of than them getting anything from the government IE taxes that they pay. Especially those who are minorities.  And it really does not matter one bit what they call themselves politically either.

But it’s not just those who we refer to as the 1% who are responsible. They have lap dogs to do their bidding as well.  The so called professionals. The doctors and lawyers and executives and college professors and engineers and software house computer programmers etc. All very OK with the systems the way it is. All perfectly willing to support and kiss the rear ends of these 1%.

How many of them do we see at OWS ? What Ward Churchill called “Little Eichmanns” .  These people are just as responsible as their masters for the injustice and inequality since they are willing to support it for their own personal agendas.   To many call themselves liberal but are in name only.  All too willing to through those who they feel are beneath them under the bus so long as their 401Ks do not take a hit and their corporate masters keep them on until retirement.  People are calling what we have an Oligarchy.  I prefer to call it tyranny of the rich.

When I see these people out there with the unemployed and homeless and poor, then I will see something really positive. Until such time, these corporate lap dogs are as much the enemy as their CEO bosses.