Saturday, November 26, 2011

check out this blog page of political writers that I was just invited to. Very cool.

check out this blog page of political writers that I was just invited to. Very cool.

Don't Buy The CRAP!

Yesterday was Black Friday. Indeed. What more need be said for a day so commercialized that it gives Christmas a run for its commercialized status.  After a day of thanksgiving for all the bounty of the earth and the products of our hands, came a day of mobs, pepper spraying, non-stop advertising from corporations and news stations (yeah, even the newscasters go in on the scam), and stores and malls from the California coast to the purple mountain majesties of the East, and across the fruited plains down to the sweaty gulf coast, filled to bursting with the excitable and panicked shoppers whose stress hormones filled the air like a mild form of pepper spray.   I only know this because yesterday for the first time in my life I ventured into a store on Black Friday to be part of a whirl.  You know what that is, right? It’s where a group of people pushes empty grocery carts around in a long line of silent awareness raising for them personally and hopefully for those around them.  After walking in a line of kindred “stop shoppingness” for several minutes, snaking through a store’s isles and becoming aware of how much crap is on the shelves around you, a person develops self empowerment  and a resistance to the advertiser’s hypnotic chant of “buy this cheap crap!”.   I don’t care how cheap your cheaply made piece of crap is,  it’s still crap and I DO NOT NEED IT!  Seriously, no one needs that crap.

Once a person becomes aware that they are being peddled crap in one department, it becomes easier to see other types of crap.  Like political crap being peddled by both parties, albeit especially the fascist Republican party.  Crap like the Super Committee, which was an exercise in how much smoke they could  blow up the nation’s ass and still look like they actually cared.  Or the pleading from the DCC to donate to their campaign to fight off the onslaught of the right who are so well backed by pharma and big oil. Tell me again why I should donate to an organization that has members (Blue Dogs) who blocked the Public Option and would deny 51% of our nation (% of women in the USA) their human right to choose whether to be pregnant or not?  Smells like a load of crap to me.  Or the disingenuous, and very stupid suggestion from the Righties that we should trust corporations to self regulate and that would be so good for the country.  Right… That worked so well for us at the turn of the century. Plain old CRAP!   Or that we really need two dozen GOP debates to determine who to vote for, as if we actually get to choose our presidents.  CRAAAP!  And that the news on TV is actually news and not spin, aka, bald faced lies. CRAPOLA!! Or that the economy is on the mend. HOLY CRAP!  Or that women and minorities are finally equal to their white brothers and we no longer need any kind of affirmative action. HOLY F’ING CRAP! 

Yeah, that whirl was really enlightening, it’s like a whole veil of lies and deception has come down off my eyes and opened my awareness to the crap everywhere.  Okay, I lie a little bit, the veil came off a very long time ago but it did begin with making the connection with the garbage on store shelves to the garbage coming out of the mouths of politicians.   It’s all the same crap; fabricated cheap plastic crap,  polluting our world and poisoning our minds and our lives.  When we stop buying all the crap we’re being peddled, then we will be free citizens. 
Here’s a great way to begin the freeing of your mind: Tomorrow, Sunday, 11/27/11, at 2pm the Reverend Billy have a show at The Highline Ballroom, on 431 West 16th St, NY city.  And if you can’t get there, you can watch his film, “What Would Jesus Buy” on instant watch on Netflix.   A guaranteed crap free experience.
Read his blog on nonviolence here

 And check out this blog page of political writers that I was just invited to. Very cool.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Newt’s Right Wing Monster

November 24, 2011

Newt’s Right Wing Monster
By Pauline Schneider

In the fascinating horror story by Mary Shelley, Frankenstein’s Monster, we see a deranged,  albeit well meaning, scientist attempt  to defeat the ultimate fate that we all will meet and in so doing he unleashes an unspeakable horror that eventually turns on him and those he loves in one the most terrifying and grizzly scenes imagined in perhaps all of literary fiction.    If you want to watch a true life version of this story taking place right now, just keep a close eye on Newt Gingrich and his right wing monster that is beginning to devour him,  limb, sinew and bone.

If anyone has any doubt about whose monster is out there raging in congress and tearing up the fabric of our society,  all one need do is take a stroll down memory lane and view the mad experiments of Dr Gingrichstein.
Perhaps a few American citizens are aware that the Newt started out his humble beginnings as a historian. His dissertation was on "Belgian Education Policy in the Congo: 1945–1960", and that he was an assistant professor at West Georgia College.   We all know how that “education policy” turned out with the Rwandan genocide.
Now, being a history teacher myself, I have a soft spot for other historians and professors of the ancient art first championed by my ethnic ancestor, Herodotus,  however the historian known as Newt took his talents to a whole new level of madness in 1993 when he taught a class titled “Renewing American Civilization”, at Kennesaw State College in Georgia. 

In a NY Times article from 1997 titled, “The ‘Teacher of the Rules of Civilization’ Gets a Scolding, “ the author describes an easel sheet from one of Newt’s lessons as “having a drawing of concentric circles in Mr. Gingrich's distinctive scrawl with "Gingrich" at the center; "Staff, Key Members, Key supporters" in the next innermost circle; "Members, Media, Interest Groups, Constituents, Other Staff" in the next innermost circle, and "public" in the outer circle. “   The Newt saw himself at the center of the civilized universe, something psychologists refer to as the Emperor complex usually grown out of by the age of 5 years.   You can see the entire New York Times article here on how that class he taught cost him $300,000 in ethics fines for misusing tax-exempt  funds for partisan purposes and providing untrue information to a House committee.  The most severe fine in ethical violations ever… There’s also a very sweet critique by an actual history professor who called the course “bland, vague, hortatory and lacking in substance…If this is not to be a course but instead a sermon, then you should get a preacher to comment on it.”

You know it thrills me to watch history grinding along and repeating itself as predictably as Newt’s path to his demise does.  Remember this is the man who created the Contract with America, often referred to as the Contract ON Americans…  This is the man who in the same unethical course on how HE defined civilization (with him at its core), advised conservative leaders to rally the unwashed legions with their anger and fear:
“Encourage everyone who has a disagreement with the Democratic program to join a grand coalition. At the optimum the anti-gays-in-the-military anger, anti-tax-increase  anger and the anti-government-waste anger should all be drawn into a broad front of opposition. . . . Every time the Democrats cheat on ethics, the law or simply act secretly and in defiance of the public anger against Washington, we must highlight it and protest it. We are the guardians of the public's right to know.”  Well, at least the public’s "right to know" what HE wants to tell them to think…The beast is being designed!

The Newt was exceedingly successful at designing and creating this beast,  perhaps because fear and anger are the easiest emotions to manipulate in people en masse.   I can think of a couple other men who took advantage of people’s fear and anger and of course that resulted in global catastrophes.  Taking advantage of people's emotions in hard economic times is truly the lowest a person can go. Newt goes even lower.

Before I knew the Newt was a historian I was outraged by his recent comment  that child labor laws should be repealed because they “harmed” poor children. Now that I have learned that he was a historian I’m dumbfounded how he dismissed an entire period of our progressive history that fought to protect our poor children from the abuses of the Robber Barons who happily employed them in coal mines and other horrific conditions. Was this some lost golden era in Newt’s mind? An era when poor children, so marginalized and neglected by adult men who led our nation and were the captains of industry, that they were left with the only option but to work as child slaves for the elite and powerful?
How Newt can dismiss this shameful era and the resulting positive, progressive changes that brought our poor children out of the coal mines and glass shard factories and into schools and given some sense of dignity, finally protected from corporate abuse, is beyond my comprehension.   But he’s taken that radical perspective,  stitched it shabbily to his creature and run with it.   Close behind him, however, also runs the creature following him, doggedly reminding him of his madness, his arrogance and his lies, “I have not had lobbyist relations with that company!” he screeches in terror.  “Puhleese,” the creature moans in horrific disgust, “stop lying!” So he throws the beast a bone to silence it's rebukes, "Those Occupy Wall Street kids should get a job, right after they take a bath!" The beast howls in temporary pleasure at the feast, but it won't be long before it's hunger takes grip again.

It is always important to learn from history so as not to repeat past mistakes and have future attempts  result in failure and Newt, as a historian, seemed destined not to fail. His huge success in congress serving ten consecutive terms in Georgia would attest to his historical &  political prowess as well as his architectural  prowess in designing a Contract withAmerica.  However, the monster he was very successfully creating,  a vast right wing army crafted from a patchwork of fear, anger and mistrust, has now, at long last, turned on its architect…  EN MASSE.  And I’m tickled pink over it, because there's nothing more wonderful to a feminist than prophetic feminist fiction actually coming to life!

 The Creator Missteps
At the GOP debate the other night, Newt entered the final stage of his political career by revealing he actually had a heart.  Well, this is debatable since it could have been just another political ploy to attract the very large and motivated Hispanic vote rather than a genuine show of compassion for deeply marginalized brown workers. I must remind the reader that this is the man who served divorce papers to his wife while she was in the hospital receiving cancer treatment so that he could marry (3rd marriage) the woman he was having an affair with. There is much doubt to the actual ability of this man to feel any compassion.  Perhaps his creature sensed this, because Newt's  “compassionate” response to a question on illegal immigrants was unacceptable  to the monster he had created  and has elicited a harsh response from his beast.  His comment: “I don’t see how the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century,” Gingrich said during the CNN debate.

On the Free Republic website,  an organization dedicated to all things conservative and right wingy, (see here for it’s founder, Jim Robinson’s, fascinating diatribesque description of the Free Republic’s “philosophy”) there is an article on Newt’s stance where the author actually “concurred” with Newt’s soft ideas on immigration.  However, the comments following the article reveal a conservative party prepared to eat its own tail and even their architect.  Here’s a little back and forth:
“So in Newt's grand vision, the longer you have broken this country's immigration laws, the more law-abiding you are,” then a response to that:
“There's ignorant and there's just plain downright dishonest, which are you? I'll bet you haven't even bothered to read the Krieble Foundation's Red Card plan, but you're ready to attack Newt without informing yourself,” followed by:
“Hey, maggot - try refuting what I have posted. You can't, jackass. You're just an apologist and a shill for the worst tendencies of the Beltway GOP.”   

It’s really a progressive’s wet dream to watch the radicalized right wing begin to devour itself from within. We all know how nasty they can be so it’s sure to be a good show! Don't forget the popcorn!

However, perhaps we should feel some sympathy for this uber-radicalized right wing monster.  It was created through a rigorous agitation of the forces of hate, anger, fear and a large dollop of contempt for anything different (gays, feminists, socialists, education), but scratch the surface and it is actually constructed of human beings with all the basic needs of any human just like Shelley’s creature; the parts of it are in essence our friends and neighbors, albeit with a twist of irony and madness.  In Shelley’s story we get the sense that she feels more pity for the creature  than for it’s creator and she even gives the monster a deep sense of wisdom, and a broad historic perspective that seems wholly lacking with the Newt.  
The creature laments, "I heard about the slothful Asiatics; of the stupendous genius and mental activity of the Grecians; of the wars and wonderful virtue of the early Romans-of their subsequent degenerating-of  the decline of that mighty empire; of chivalry, Christianity, and kings….There was non among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me; and should I feel kindness towards my enemies? No: from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me and sent me forth to this insupportable misery."
There is no sense of kindness indeed to anyone, a typical conservative ethos for anyone even slightly divergent from them, and certainly none for its creator, Victor, (Newt boy) who later warns a colleague: "Learn from me . . . how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow." I remind the reader of the concentric circles with Newt in the center, indicating his aspirations of greatness and surrounded concentrically by the rest of the world. The beast, which is the general public, is on the furthest circle, as far from the grand emperor Newt as possible... Almost as if Newt knew he was creating a monster and wished to be removed from it.

Ahhh, poor Newtie, seems like he would have done better to study feminist author, Mary Shelley and turn-of-the-century fiction, rather than actual history, whose lessons he wholly ignored. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

#OWS November 15th, Through the eye of the beholder; Tim Poole

November 16, 2011
Yesterday was perhaps the single most historic event in US history in the past three decades.  Thousands, perhaps millions,of US citizens watched  on their computer screens from home as events with the Occupy Wall Street movement unfolded in downtown New York city throughout  the day and into the evening as thousands of New Yorkers converged on Canal Street and Zuccotti park to protest an early morning raid and eviction from Zuccotti park.  A young hero, Tim Poole, an OWS protester, took it upon himself to be the eyes and ears of the day. Acting as a real journalist should, he bravely carried a camera  phone,   a laptop, a dying battery and a friend’s bag all day to record the unfolding, incredible events that took place and livestreaming them, mostly uninterrupted , to the entire world over the internet.   There never was more exciting “television”, nor a more relevant purpose in recent times in the US as the economy and the entire society seems to be collapsing precipitously around us.  Nothing could be more relevant and poignant than the voice of a young man, roused at 1:00 am by police and chased from his tent along with dozens of others, barely able to rescue his laptop and cameraphone to begin a day long record of what he would see and hear in downtown Manhattan.

For two months the Occupy Wall Street movement  has occupied the Zuccotti  park in downtown Manhattan  these young people had become a fixture in what was renamed  Liberty Park, and it was common for people throughout the  tri state region to head to Zuccotti  for events, trainings, meetings with artists and activists, and for the frequent rallies that brought them attention and our attention to the crimes of Wall Street.  All of that was put on hold yesterday and it seemed a showdown with police was going to be ugly as hundreds of police in full riot gear were dispatched  to Canal St and to Zuccotti.   The mainstream media smelled blood in the water and got their vans there and sat and waited, but that was about all they did.  Tim Poole, however, was different.

Tim’s mild mannered commentary drew  us in, endeared us to his struggles to get the story out and there were many; dying batteries,  a missing friend’s heavy bag he had to lug,  losing his own energy and pleading with passers by to get him some fruit to eat, a tweet request went out to get that man a banana!  Perhaps the most ironic difficulty came when he accidentally said his cell phone number  aloud to a good Samaritan  offering to buy him a fresh battery, resulting in trolls calling him and disrupting the live feed to perhaps millions around the globe with each troll call.  He got that fixed when he passed a Sprint phone store and changed his number.  

Those of us who were transfixed by Tim’s reporting and bravery cheered for him as much as for the rest of the OWS movement when Zuccotti park was reoccupied at the end of the long and often scary day.   The incredibly peaceful reaction of the protestors against the violent crimes of Bloomberg stealing and destroying their personal property was impressive and inspiring and it was through Tim’s lens and voice that we were able to see this story so clearly.  The peacefulness of the protestors also speaks volumes to their being a generation that benefited from more compassionate child rearing where the rod WAS spared and the children were obviously NOT spoiled, but I digress.

Interestingly, not everyone was as transfixed as we were.  I kept a close eye on the cable networks, primarily CNN, to see how they were covering this historic event that had been precipitated by an illegal attack by NY mayor, Mike Bloomberg who had ordered police and sanitation to commit, what could amount to a crime, certainly unconstitutional,  definitely an outrage.  At about 1:00 am Bloomberg had the OWS site in Zuccotti park raided and people forcibly dragged out of their tents,  some were allegedly pepper sprayed,  there were reports of some kind of smoke or tear gas, and all their personal items were stolen and trashed into a huge dumpster, including thousands of books from the library. 

Very little of this was reported since another  constitutional outrage was committed by Bloomberg in that he had all the news media that arrived to record the event held a block away so that they were effectively censored from reporting on it.  You see, I thought that was something they did in totalitarian states, not the UNITED STATES.  I guess I was wrong.   Perhaps this censorship had an effect on CNN and the other media outlets since throughout  the day very little was said about the  struggle being faced by the OWS folks, about their legal battle,  or about the thousands that poured into the area from the city and the surrounding regions.

Saying that very little was reported is being kind.   Try hardly anything.  If a 30 second sound bite is considered covering a story these days,  then the brazen attack  by Bloomberg  on our constitutional  and civil rights and his ensuing contempt of court and ordering all police officers to also behave in contempt of court, was covered pathetically.    Apparently  the invasion of OWS was newsworthy, just not THAT newsworthy.  Other topics seemed far more interesting to the news agencies.  On CNN I noticed something happening with one of those topics.   They were having a Penn State scandalathon.   Pretty much every hour was dedicated  to in depth,  repeated,  painfully detailed coverage of a college football coach’s scandal.  Really?  Really CNN???   You haven’t been this shallow or obsessed since OJ went for a jaunt in his white jeep.  With the occasional bi-hourly 30-second mention of  the OWS raid, as reported by a small time,  unknown reporter (not your Anderson Cooper type), CNN seemed to think they covered  the story.   Even later in the evening on Anderson Cooper the most miniscule of time was given to the OWS movement, seeming to begrudgingly admit it had some newsworthiness, and then they went right back to a full show of, you guessed it, a coach showering with boys, with shots of cheerleading girls jumping at football games.  Creepy!

You would think that with every news outlet on the scene  that more in depth reporting might have been done, that more interest would have been taken in the breach of our Constitutional rights to protest, to gather and demand a redress of grievances,  to be safe in our persons and personal items from government  confiscation, and that some reporter might have asked the police where all the stuff went that was stolen and then gone there to interview the sanitation workers who I hear were deeply upset at their orders,  or that a reporter  might have been sent to the courthouse to find out about Bloomberg’s appeal against the State’s Supreme Court Order that he cease and desist and allow the protestors back into Zuccotti park WITH all their stuff, or that a reporter might have been as interested as the rest of us to see if the now in contempt of court Bloomberg’s appeal would work and keep the protestors out of Zuccotti park.   It was amazing to see how CNN got the news wrong time and time again simply by not being there,  neither in spirit nor really physically by sending a low level reporter who didn’t seem interested (or allowed?) in leaving her spot or asking any real questions of the authorities. 
I mean whoever now watches CNN for any real information any more is getting gypped.

And then the most amazing thing happened,   someone posted on Tim’s live feed that was running his livestream feed on their front page. knew this was history in the making and got it right.   Time even had a little blurb about Tim, apparently because they had performed their journalistic duties and done some actual interviews.  It was all very flattering to Tim who audibly blushed as he was being informed of this.  “You’re famous man!” someone was heard saying to him from off camera.  Not only is he now famous, Tim is a true American hero in the same way that Paul Revere was in getting the word out that something important  is happening,  something of national importance is taking place,  something that affects us all has happened and more could happen,  so pay attention!   

All of this went right over the heads of the CNN shot callers.  They missed it,  like a kid staring out into left field as a fly ball hits him in the head, CNN dropped the ball.  Big time.  Problem is CNN isn’t run by kids, it’s run by adults who should know what they’re doing and that leaves one with the grim thought  that maybe they do know what they’re doing and the day’s distractive disinformation was carefully orchestrated.  CNN has come a long way since its birth during the first invasion of Iraq where they had crackerjack reporters that actually did their jobs and asked the hard questions, interviewed Saddam Hussein and his generals, brave reporters (notice those reporters are no longer with CNN).   No more hard questions from CNN today, not even a live feed from an historic American  revolution, not even a microphone  in a lawyer’s face downtown asking why Bloomberg chose to be in contempt of court and how that might affect his bid for re-election.   We heard Crickets chirping from CNN.  CNN will not televise the peaceful revolution, CNN tuned out of the American  people,  and now so shall we from CNN.   We’ve got a new hero to watch and that we trust to report the revolution as it happens.  His name is Tim Poole! 

At the last count as of last night there were some 6,300 people down at #OWS. As per Tim's reporting.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ten Things To Do Now To Get Ready for the Next Big Power Outage

I'm a member of Transition Westchester, a local NY hub of the larger Transition US, and we're working to support resiliency plans in our communities, build individual resiliency and support Transition Initiatives like that in Ossining, the newest Transition Town in America. 

As Climate Change continues to escalate and throw wacky weather events at us in faster and more furious increments, it will become harder and harder to resume normal life. Restoration of normal services will take longer, funds will run out, people will be exhausted.  Right now, as of 11/7/2011 there are still 50,000 or so people out of power from the October 28th storm.  That's a lot of frozen pipes... Not to mention pissed off electric customers...

FEMA has already warned that they are dangerously close to running out of funds for this year and is considering downgrading storms once considered disasters.  USA Today FEMA Article.  Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene did a doozy on the East Coast and on Vermont, but this recent weird snow storm is considered to have been FIVE TIMES WORSE THAN IRENE.

  It is beginning to become very apparent that we, the people, who pay our taxes and serve jury duty and obey MOST traffic laws and the US Code, and are generally good and decent people, are going to have to become more self reliant once again.  Big daddy
govt and FEMA aren't going to be there to help us, despite how much we have sacrificed in blood and gold to keep this country running.    We certainly cannot depend on our Congress to do anything at all.  It's up to us to make sure we get through this new age of weather weirding and climate disaster with some dignity and with civilization somewhat intact.

So here's a very PRELIMINARY survival To Do list for the next power outage or catastrophe that we can share with our neighbors and families. DrSusan Rubin and I are developing this list based on our own experiences and the Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) packet. We will be sharing the list in our own neighborhoods and hope that others will find the list helpful and share it with their neighbors as well.  

You can check out Suru's Blog on the recent storm here: Surus Blog


1. Always have some bottled water stored, enough for your family and a couple extra people to last a week.
2. Have a stash of batteries stored for flash lights. A solar battery charger is a good idea since you won't be able to recharge your rechargeables when the power is out. Or a car charger inverter you can plug your lap tops and battery chargers into. (very handy this last storm)
3. Have a months' supply of prescription medicines stored, even if it's out of pocket! There's a medicine scarcity right now for a variety of reasons. An extra bottle of aspirin helps too.
4. Have a month's supply of dry grains, beans, oats, pasta, cereal & spices stored in glass jars with those rubber gaskets (Indian Meal moths can't get through). When the trucks can't supply the stores, you'll still be able to feed your kids. And don't forget your pets!
5. If you can afford it, spend around $2000 to $3000 for a solar powered back up power system that can run your fridge and boiler and a couple lights(fluorescent). Folks with dedicated solar hooked up to the grid found out, painfully, their power went out too. Such a waste. Gasoline powered generators are unsustainable, though in a pinch they can help a family with a baby or an elderly person keep warm in a room with the right kind of room heater. NEVER keep a generator in your home, nor a kerosene heater. You will die.
6. Definitely buy a Wovel if you have a driveway, it's made in America! This snow shovel does the work for you, saves your back and clears snow twice as fast as any other back breaking shovel. When you can't get gas for your snow-blower, this tool is priceless. Lend yours out if you have one. All it takes is one try to convince people it's a bargain! It's actually fun!
7. Always have a pair or more of charged, walkie talkies. I tried to find the crank kind like they had in WWII, but I couldn't. So you need rechargeable batteries for these. With the recent power outage I had no cell service or home phone service. My walkie talkies were a great solution. Get the kind with 60 mile range. Not the kiddie brands.
8. If you don't have a gas stove, consider switching to Propane or Natl gas. It's worth the investment when the electric is out. Otherwise you're cooking outside on a grill or warming drinks with sterno warmers, not perfect but it works.
9. Alternatively, invest in a wood stove with a cook top. The Norweigian company Jotle makes a couple of these in two sizes, one that heats 800 sqft and another that heats 1800 sqft. You get to heat your home and have the ability to cook. Plus, they meet Federal energy requirements and may qualify for rebates. 
10. Meet your neighbors and create a phone tree and action plan in case of another major disaster (or event). Find out where the elderly live, the disabled, those with small children or new babies. These folks need extra help and attention from us all. They may need your generator more than you do.

And get lots of hot water bottles! One for each of your family members. These were priceless at night curling up under cold blankets with no heat...

Share this list with your neighbors.