August 31, 2012
"Greens are often criticized of not living in the real world. According to these critics the real world is one of money, profit, real estate speculation, resource extraction, and Wall Street riches. It's a world in which once the fish are dead, and so are the corn, then we can eat money. You have to wonder 'what planet are they from?' Well, I'm from THIS planet and I'm a member of the reality-based community. I know our lives are dependent on the ecosystem of which we are a part."
-- Paula Bradshaw, candidate for US Congress, Illinois 12th district
After the Debate:
Want to see obvious and blatant disenfranchisement? Watch the Ron Paul delegates being stripped of their voting power at the 2012 RNC convention.
Democracy? Not at the RNC!
This level of pettiness reminds me of dictatorships like North Korea, where any admission or acknowledgement of opposition is prohibited.
I wish that Dennis Kucinich supporters would have had the same gumption and spine as Ron Paul's delegates. I guess it's harder to create a clear contrast with the DNC though, because DNC candidates talk like they are populist anti-war candidates, and then turn around to serve Wall Street and bomb 3rd world nations.
August 30, 2012
August 29, 2012
August 28, 2012
August 26, 2012
August 24, 2012
Mort Todd went to the Portland Daily Sun to decry this as some great injury.
"Aug. 22 issues of "Vex" magazine were suspiciously removed from stands or vandalized, according to Mort Todd, the magazine's publisher. Todd said the article advocating for the square's redevelopment was what led to the magazine's theft, vandalism and redistribution because someone failed to agree with an opposing view on what should happen to the failed public space.
"It's a total violation of First Amendment rights," Todd said, because it's stifling a divergent view on an issue."
But this begs several questions:
If you give a publication away for free, can it be stolen?
If a point of view is ADDED to your own, is that really censorship? If your point of view isn't actually censored, isn't that just dialogue?
If these "stolen" publications are returned, is that still theft?
And if it's given away for free, isn't "stealing" exactly what you want done by your readers?
How did he know they were stolen and not taken by readers?
Maybe that particular issue was a popular one, because of the controversy surrounding Congress Square?
If you are giving things away for free, and somebody lays claim to them, aren't they rightfully their property at that point?
As their property, should they not have the right to do whatever they please with that property, including redistributing them?
Just a few thoughts I had in response. More than anything though, what strikes me most of all is that Mort Todd is clearly just a bully who didn't get enough hugs growing up. He thinks that he should be able to publicly hate and dehumanize Portland's homeless and low-income populations-- well, actually he should, that's guaranteed under the 1st amendment.
But if somebody calls him out for being wrong on the facts, for being hateful and hurtful to populations that are already marginalized in society-- that's not censorship. That's dialogue.
The fact that he's having a public hissy fit when some prankster put a sticker on a few issues of his FREE magazine, in which he publishes hateful and hurtful opinions, to me, just shows that he is nothing more than a common bully.
August 21, 2012
'Why Voting for a Third Party is NOT Throwing Your Vote Away' by Jason Marianna
You hear them every election year, those five little words, strung together to make up the biggest lie in politics: "You're throwing your vote away." The media even has a name for the candidates who get the "throwaway" votes: "spoilers." Why? "Spoilers" ruin the whole two-party myth. They evince that there are more choices than Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
Tweedle D and Tweedle R
The two major parties are beginning to realize this, too. No longer can they sit back as the Greens, Libertarians, and independents take a percentage of the votes. The major parties can't rely on people to automatically disregard third parties anymore as "fringe groups," because the "fringe" is getting awfully big. Instead, each major party tries to scare you into believing that a vote for a third party is a vote for the opposition.
Unfortunately, in the effort to score as many votes as possible, the two major parties often forget one thing: principle. How much do they really believe in their principles if they are willing to sacrifice them so freely for a vote? For years, the major parties have followed the same model of getting elected. They run to the left or right during the primaries, and run to the center in the general election campaign. What we are left with are two candidates essentially saying the same thing, but disagreeing in name only, and occasionally on implementation of the same policies. This year is no different.
When you ask people why they vote for a candidate, they give you a few basic answers. For one, they may actually truly believe in the candidate and his policies. This is rare in the two-party system. Another reason many people give is that the candidate is the lesser of two evils. Some say that although they disagree with the candidate on some things, "At least he's not the other guy." With this thinking, they imply there are no other choices, despite the emergence of viable third parties for both the left and the right.
Since when is voting for evil a good thing? Does it matter if you drive a car off a cliff at 55 MPH or 80 MPH? Either way, you're driving off a cliff. How many Americans grumble every year that all politicians are only in it for their own interests? Yet, these same Americans who complain about the hole we're in get out their two-party shovels on Election Day and dig us further into the hole by perpetuating the heart of the problem: The two-party system itself. If you want to change government, change how you vote.
Recently, I spent a week campaigning for my candidate to my circle of friends and acquaintances. I got the same response over and over again: "I would vote for him if I thought he had a chance of winning. However, even though I agree with nearly everything he says, he can't win, so I'd be throwing my vote away." What they don't realize is that if they all vote for him, we would be that much closer to having someone we actually want in office, instead of someone we barely tolerate.
Why do we base our votes on what polls show? You wouldn't let anyone look over your shoulder and tell you what to do when you fill out your ballot, so why let pollsters tell you how to vote? Look at the big picture. If all people actually voted for who they wanted, we would have a four-horse race for the presidency. How hard would it be for any of those candidates to get 25% of the vote if everyone voted for who they wanted, instead of who they were scared or manipulated into voting for?
The two major parties don't care about you. They care about power. They care about winning elections, no matter the cost. They've abandoned the American people and our needs. The major parties have forgotten that the rights Americans enjoy are to be protected. The major parties don't care to hold to the Constitution's limitations. This must change, but won't if we continue to give the major parties our support. If you want for our government to reflect your principles, vote for candidates who reflect those principles, without exception.
The only result of holding to principle is government changing for the better, one ballot at a time. Changing government for the better is not throwing your vote away. Quite the contrary, it is using it properly.
Open letter in response to this, from my friend Rob Korobkin:
Dear Person Flipping Through Vex Magazine,
The conflict over the future of Congress Square is NOT - as the noxious know-it-all New York elitist fuck-head Mort Todd would have you believe - a battle between people living on the street and the "good" citizens of Portland. It's a battle between greedy investment bankers from Ohio who want to buy up the big open public space at the center of our fair city and sell it off to a multinational hotel conglomerate who would kick us ALL off of it and throw up an ass-ugly building so rich yuppies from away can drink $15 martinis, eat Sysco pigs-in-blankets and listen to shitty commercial pop music - and those of us who actually live here and would prefer not to lose our park.
Yeah, we know Congress Square is a concrete hole in the ground with few benches and even fewer trees - but, god damn it, it's OUR concrete hole in the ground! We're not saying we think it's perfect as it is - we're saying we'd rather keep it this way, for now, than lose it altogether. Even in its current form, it's still a wonderful place for outdoor punk shows, juggling, steel drummers, art sales and taking little kids to ride tricycles. We want to see it improve and become a fun place where everybody in Portland and beyond is welcome to hang out and enjoy being downtown. And, yeah, by everybody, we mean kids on skateboards, immigrants, families, travelers, seniors, people who don't always have a roof over their heads, you know, everybody! That's what it means to have a community.
This is Maine - we aren't pretentious twerps - our state was built by loggers and mill workers who didn't need sensitivity trainings in political correctness to know that communities like ours only get a say in the decisions that affect us when we stick together. As long as we're squabbling with our neighbors, saying nasty things about people down on their luck and staying buried in our own little rabbit holes - nobody in Power will give a shit about us.
If, on the other hand, we want to live in the kind of world that we can feel good about bringing children into, we need to start coming together and saying things like, hey, there's a fairly large, centrally located piece of land at the center of our city that has the potential to be a really nice public space. If we worked together and used some of those municipal dollars coming out of our rent checks, parking tickets and property tax payments, we could do something awesome! The city budget is about 160 MILLION dollars a year - that's our money, and we have every right to spend at least a little bit of it on making our city as pleasant as possible for us to live in. Whatever happens to the square, it should be a decision that we make together as Portlanders - not one that gets made for us by fat cat business interests looking to make money off the hospitality industrial complex. We have zero obligation to be "hospitable" to anybody who doesn't respect us and our city.
Or we could just be assholes. We could print condescending comics that depict how funny it would be if we all ganged up on Portland's street population - many of whom are veterans suffering with trauma and mental illness the likes of which most of us can't even imagine. We could turn our neighborhoods against each other, devolving our entire public discourse into a pathetic mishmash of chest-thumping and bleating, completely ignoring the very real threat that global institutions of private capital pose to our independence and basic liberties as a free city of hard-working, open-minded Mainers. The choice is yours.
Save Congress Square!
August 20, 2012
It's considered a good turnout whenever more than 54% of Americans vote in a national election. I'm pretty sure more than that vote in American Idol. Maybe we could get people to show up if we added a vote on what the next Kardashian baby should be named. You know, as long as you're there, go ahead and choose a President too. [more at LeeCamp.net]
August 17, 2012
August 15, 2012
August 10, 2012
August 9, 2012
Both the main US parties are working for the same system and taking money from the same people, so choosing between them makes no sense, war vet and Occupy Wall Street icon Scott Olsen told RT.
He added that now OWS is changing its strategies it may not be quite as visible, but he believes the future will be a successful one for Occupy.
RT: You are one of dozens of war veterans who have returned their medals to NATO generals here in Chicago, throwing the medals into the direction where NATO leaders were meeting. What is the reason for this? Do you feel betrayed?
Scott Olsen: I really do. And betrayal is the biggest fact here I think. We have all joined the military for our own reasons. But we joined to help other people, to be part of something bigger than ourselves and to defend our country. And when we went over to Iraq, Afghanistan or wherever our service was, we saw that it just was not true and we are destroying people’s lives. We are not doing good work in Iraq or Afghanistan and that’s why I don’t want these medals. Because they represent something that is not important to me, it is meaningless to me. I am not proud of being part of the system that has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. That is not something to be proud of and that is not something to get an award for.
RT: Your injuries at Occupy Oakland clashes with police got people talking about the fact that veterans sometimes really do get injured at home after being injured abroad. Do you think that’s the case?
SO: I don’t think there are more veterans getting hurt here. But there are a lot of veterans getting hurt by the system, in a sense that they come back to a broken system, a system that they feel disconnected from. And that is why we have eighteen veterans a day committing suicide, that’s why we have so many homeless veterans. It is the system hurting veterans.
RT: Why do you think it is that when billions of dollars are being spent on US warfare, as we speak, we are seeing a staggering number of homeless and jobless veterans here in the United States?
SO: Because people are making money out of these wars. They are getting money from our government to buy their toys, to buy their equipment and to fund these wars. That’s how they make their riches. There is always money for war but we never have money for schools.
RT: Do you think the authorities, who recruit soldiers such as yourself to do their bidding for them abroad, are essentially lying to get people to join the military about the reasons behind the wars the US is involved with?
SO: For military recruiters they at least mislead people. They may not lie to you, but they will mislead you, not give you the whole story. That’s why it is so important if you think of joining the military to talk to as many veterans as you can find and get as many points of view as you can.
RT: What do you think the majority of those veterans will say?
SO: I think the majority would recommend against joining. It is a life-changing thing and I wouldn’t take my joining back because it made me who I am, but I would not recommend anyone else to make this mistake.
RT: It is going to be a year in September since the Occupy Wall Street movement kick-started. What stage is the movement at now? What should we be expecting next?
SO: It is not as big now as it should be. It could always be bigger and louder. We are changing to other strategies that may not be quite as visible, working on creating worker-managed businesses that are really going to take the money away from money-borrowing to the corporate system. That is going to be really successful for the future of Occupy.
RT: Some critics of the Occupy Wall Street movement are trying to undermine the substance of what it is all about by saying that it is almost a year on and no unified strong single message. What do you say to those people?
SO: Any time there is a large number of people demanding change and someone feels threatened they are going to attack in any way and every way. We do have a message. Everybody who comes here has their own message. But it is very common, we are working and we are not getting what we really deserve. We are working our asses off. We work more than most other countries in the world. And our salaries have not grown in years, our corporations are making billions every day and our retirement pensions are being cut, our schools are being cut.
RT: One of the things the Occupy Wall Street movement is demanding is the accountability for bankers and CEOs on Wall Street. Do you think it is naïve to expect this several years after the economic crisis? Why still demand this?
SO: I don’t really know if we are going to get the real changes we are looking for just by asking. It has to be forced change. Banks will always find a way to screw us over. They will always find a way to maximize their profits and they maximize their profits without actually doing any work. So by taking that money they take it from somebody else.
RT: Presidential elections in the US are just around the corner and four years after Barack Obama was elected critics are now saying that there is no difference between Democrats or Republicans as they are two sides of the same coin. Are you expecting any kind of change to take place after the elections regardless of which of the parties wins?
SO: Not particularly. Most likely people are either going to vote for Democrats or Republicans and I think both those are wrong choices. They are both working for the same system, they are both taking money from the same people, from the same banks and you can see in their policy that they are rewarding their donors. Voting for the continuing of this policy is not going to change anything at all.
RT: So considering both Democrats and Republicans essentially bring the same thing to the table, what is the alternative? What could be the other option for the United States?
SO: That’s a good question. You can vote for the third party that may not win. You may count voting for the third party as a waste of vote, but I think voting for a Democrat or a Republican is a waste of vote. You are shooting yourself in the foot if you are voting for either of those.
RT: When the Occupy Wall Street movement first started, the mainstream media were trying hard to undermine the protesters. They were saying that it is a bunch of dirty hippies and later trying to say they have no message. There was constant criticism and they could not take the movement seriously. Almost a year on since it has started how do you assess the way the mainstream media has been covering what the movement is all about?
SO: They have covered it more than I was expecting them to. I didn’t expect much of them. And that’s why we come out here and we build our own media that we need. We build websites and do web live stream events for everybody to know and to find out what they are missing out. But it is a shame that the everyday American is not going to see those things. The American who turns on the six o’clock news, they don’t hear about these things, just like they don’t hear about the wars we are still in. Most Americans probably do not really know that we are at war. They aren’t affected by these things.
August 8, 2012
August 6, 2012
August 5, 2012
The people of Iceland forced their corrupt government to resign.
A public assembly was created to rewrite the constitution.
The banks were nationalized, it was decided not to pay the debt that PRIVATE banks created.
All of this in a peaceful way...
What would happen if the rest of the world took this as an example?
Welcome to the beautiful and surreal reality of life under American corporatism, under a Congress that churns out thousands and thousands of pages of (often contradictory) legislation a year.
If providing material assistance to al-Qaeda is illegal under the National Defence Authorization Act (2012), and Obama and Congress are sending $25 million of aid to al-Qaeda-affiliated Syrian opposition, aren’t Congress and President Obama violating their own law? Should Obama (or at least the Justice Department) not be using “all necessary and appropriate force” including “the power to indefinitely detain” to prevent Obama and Congress from assisting al-Qaeda? Did anyone in Congress or the Obama administration even bother to read the law that they were signing?
Do Federal laws no longer apply to lawmakers?
August 1, 2012
This video is based on a lecture I gave at Peace Action NH's "Peace of Mind" activism conference in the summer of 2011.
Read the full text here: http://punkpatriot.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-species-of-activism.html