September 28, 2012

Heading to Move To Amend convention in North Hampton, MA

I'm going to be doing a sit-down interview with Move to Amend Co-founder David Cobb.

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September 26, 2012

UC Davis settles to pay One Million Dollars to pepper sprayed students

The University of California has agreed to pay about $1 million to the UC Davis students callously drenched in pepper spray during Occupy protests last November. The deal, which is still subject to a judge's approval, will result in 21 plaintiffs receiving $30,000 each, with money left over going to legal fees and potential class-action victims, who can claim up to $20,000. As a condition of the settlement, each student involved will also receive a personal written apology from UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi.

Just think of what sort of community organizing you could do with $1 million dollars!

September 25, 2012

Mitt Romney and the 47%

I had this thought immediately after seeing the video on the day it came out, but I haven't had the free time to film and edit a video of my own till today.

Capitalism = coerced labor
The 47% of people who don't pay taxes = victims of capitalism
government services = wages that weren't paid by employers to start with

Cheri Honkala: You can't spoil what's already rotten!

She talks about the terror of being selected as the VP candidate, organizing poor and homeless people, why she left the Democratic Party, being arrested with Jill Stein down at Wall Street, and the OWS 1 year anniversary, the planned Super Rallies, and disparity between those with internet access and those without.

Lee Camp's Moment of Clarity: Burn your money- or just put it away for a while.

If you want to go deeper, check out this podcast from This American Life about the invention of money, and how strange it is for us to build an entire society around it.

September 24, 2012

Amin Husain, Alexis Goldstein, David France on UP with Chris Hayes

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Mitt Romney and the Infinite Sadness

Soul crushingly awkward.

American Autumn: New Trailer

I'm so proud to have been a part of this film.

Purchase tickets for Friday, September 28
Purchase tickets for Saturday, September 29
Purchase tickets for Sunday, September 30
Purchase tickets for Monday, October 1
Purchase tickets for Tuesday October 2
Purchase tickets for Wednesday, October 3
Purchase tickets for Thursday, October 4

movie website:

American autumn, occudoc, interoccupy, action resource fund, occupy the debates, ows, occupy wall street, arf, documentary, quad cinema, wbai, stop these wars, free speech tv, the other 98%, move to amend coalition, guitarmy, dennis trainor jr


Teaser trailer:

I'm really glad that this is coming out. I can't find feeds of the Occucopter and other video sources that show the police dumping trash on people's belongings, and throwing laptops and books into the back of garbage trucks that I livetweeted about back when the raid was happening.


Anonymous has released many hours of surveillance camera and NYPD TARU footage of the Nov. 15 Liberty Plaza raid. No details how they got hold of it (hack? whistle blower?), but it's 11 GiB of semi-organized footage.

They're asking for people to help comb through it and report instances of police misconduct, inconsistencies in the videos suggestive of tampering, etc.

Release info on Pastebin:

Temporary torrent file located at:

Magnet links for the release: (11 GiB)

OWS members (perhaps you) are compiling useful observations and building an index of the videos over on the Occupy wiki?:


A 16min video compilation has been made titled: "All Your Tapes are Belong to US"

Around the 13 min mark footage starts of NYPD arresting journalists.
Still plenty of video to sift through.

September 23, 2012

Right Now by Lady Essence

Lady Essence is a killer hip-hop artist from Portland, ME

This is a political song I recorded with Zee regarding the social uproar that took place after the Portland Press Herald covered the Ramadan celebration on 9/11.


To the Muslims,
To the christians,
To the citizens
Im hoping you could listenin

She isnt I, I isnt she,
they put us in these category categoriesss

they sayyy...We aint on the same page-
Same class- different race- and the same age-
But they say we aint same heyyy-
I need change, right now, I need change-

I feel the hate steady balancing this country-
I just wanna debate and challenge whats in front of me-
But, you tell me no, I should know better than-
to against the grain, and test the brains at teh other end-
today it is relevant-- bitter to the death-
No forgiveness for the press-
they made us witness religions so different from the rest-
Different from the west-
living to accept-
Is harder when your brought up tryna pick between the left-
The right, and the middle-
What is right? Is a riddle-
A struggle within the puzzle
And our contrite is so little-
So effortless, your heaven is-
a warzone of reverence-
poor lords, forlorned,
Wars short on the evidence-
a quarter for your pentance-
a penny for ya thought-
heres to visiting a history-
so many have forgot-
See them wearing a burqas-
like me rappin in brooklyn-
if it ever is to happen,
people chatter, people look and-

They tell me how to think, who to hate, and who to love-
They tell me we're the same and we relate just because-
they... share my race or and have a status thats above-
and thats where I wanna be but the space builds uppp- anddd
In the end, I see more eye to eye with-
a foreigner in shambles with nothing but her silence-
Maybe we could wander, maybe we could all go-
Somewhere in Rwanda, somewhere in the Congo-
Theres a situation jersey shore oughta follow-
Questioning today, prevents wars of tomorrow-
A torrent of sorrow- put it in your ipod-
Zero ground for mosques, they lookin in the sky god-
And would you mind god? Or are you blind god?
If anybody asks, say its ok with my god-
Cause my god, we are burning with hypocrisy
If war teaches peace then learning is a mockery-

Im not siding with the liberals
or siding with conservatives-
But more people are dying- deciding who deserves to live-
tell me whos earth this is-
spinning into turbulence
I worry who the fury will bury soon as the surface gives-
And are you nervous kid?
Ill tell you just what nervous is-
walking onto U.S soil without your turban hid-
This aint a game, yet we treat it like tournament-
Pick home team and cheer, amid the current rifts-
But let me shift- cause trust me that I support the vets-
Anyone who dies for a right I support and yet,
We must examine the panic within portland press-
And understand the disadvantage when we ignore a sect-
ion of our community, usually we collect-
As a whole and in unity, beautifully now reflect-
On a possibility that is near our grasp-
Equality needs a future, just gutta clear out path-

September 19, 2012

Drunk Stockbrokers threaten Occupy Activists in NYC

After they smack the flyers out of the hand of an activist, YouTube user crackero turns on his video camera. Suddenly after the camera comes on, they loose their machismo and stumble away.

This is how NYPD operate on peaceful protesters

I had to watch this several times to figure out what the hell even happened. There was a guy standing on the sidewalk, and then the cops grab him, and knock over a middle-aged woman in the process.

Dennis Trainor Jr on The Real News talking about American Autumn: An Occudoc

American Autumn: an Occudoc, is a film that I had the privilege of working on with Dennis Trainor Jr as a camera operator. He and I worked together on Dennis Kucinich's presidential campaign in 2007, which is how I first met him. Then Dennis Kucinich was my boss. Later Dennis Trainor Jr would be my boss as producer of this documentary.

All my Favourite employers have been named Dennis.

The Film is available for streaming FREE online at

Moose don't have a God to tell them what to boink: homophobia, transphobia, science, and religion

The apartment next to mine has a front stoop that manages to carry conversations with perfect clarity to my apartment's second story window.

Normally these conversations are about the usual uninteresting things that college freshman-aged people talk about, like how crazy a party was, or how much they are looking forwards to getting drunk, but occasionally a turdbit [sic] wafts it's way into my living room.

"God didn't create more than two sexes."

I'll admit, my ears perked up at such a nonsensical claim as this. It seemed that this was about to be used as the supporting statement for some hateful bullshit, so I listened in:

The person in question, went on to expound, "I mean, if I looked at your dog, and I was like, 'your dog has a penis, but I think it might be a girl' you'd be like... that wouldn't make any sense."

She went on to explain that this was the reason why gay marriage doesn't make sense.

Ah, Transphobia and homophobia wrapped into one conflating statement!

There's so much wrong with this line of thinking, it's hard to figure out where to start. Having overheard this conversation, however, a roommate of mine and I discussed and came to the following counterpoints:

* 'God' didn't 'create' any sexes at all.
Biology created sex. Evolution created sex. And when it was creating sex, there was still a lot of asexuality going on, even amongst species with divergent sex traits. For instance, Clownfish, the little guys who live in Sea Anemones, and many other species of salt water fish, have only a single sex organ that produces male sex cells early in life, and after a few years, goes on to produce female sex cells. There are species of lizard that reproduce either sexually, if there are males around, or asexually (laying fully fertile eggs without the input of another lizard's DNA) if there aren't any.

* Gender identity and sex are totally different things.
A nifty little cliche to distinguish between sex and gender is, "Sex is what's on the outside, gender is what's on the inside." But it's actually more complex than that. (Of course it is.)

Gender identity is a social construct. Dogs probably don't have gender identity, because they probably don't have the cognitive capacity to tell themselves that sort of a narrative about "society" and their place in it. I love dogs, and they have high Emotional Intelligence, but I really dont' think they're smart enough for human concepts like that. I mean, dogs smell each other's butts.

* Dogs don't get married.
Dogs also don't exhibit a whole lot of sexual discretion. If they did get married, they would probably, in addition to getting both straight and gay married (and cheating constantly, just like humans), also marry plush toys and people's legs. For example:

Exhibit A:

A female miniature pincher being dominant in the bedroom

Exhibit B:

A dog engaging in premarital coitus, making the Baby Dog Jesus cry

And they do so shamelessly and publicly! Most humans who have sex with plush toys do so privately in their own homes. So dogs aren't the best analogue for human social behaviour, especially in regards to marriage, a concept which for dogs, does not exist.

* There are tons of gay animals.
FACT: homosexuality exists in nature, and it's everywhere. Everything from dogs, moose, to parasites in your intestine, all exhibit homosexual behaviour. Even bed bugs do it.

From Wikipedia:
Male bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are sexually attracted to any newly fed individual and this results in homosexual mounting. This occurs in heterosexual mounting by the traumatic insemination in which the male pierces the female abdomen with his needle-like penis. In homosexual mating this risks abdominal injuries as males lack the female counteradaptive spermalege structure.

Seen here: a bed bug gay bar

* Moose and deer will mount anything when in rut, be it another moose or deer (regardless of gender)*, a bison (regardless of whether it's just lawn ornament**) or your pickup truck***.

*Exhibit a

**Exhibit B

***Exhibit c

Basically, the most fundamental argument here is that neither moose, deer, bedbugs nor dogs, have a 'God' to tell them what is appropriate to have sex with and what is not. They will boink anything. They don't shame one another for being gay. They don't have a concept of binary gender, nor binary sexuality. They just boink who, or what, they want to boink. And they seem to be getting along just fine.

But animals are savage!

Sure, animals don't have computers, or advanced civilizations. But that's got nothing to do with homosexuality.

We would not have computers, but for Alan Turing, a theoretical mathematician who in addition to creating the logical foundation for binary code while laying in a field and staring at the sky, was also openly gay during a time in England in which it was illegal to be gay. (Interesting sidenote: he also pretty much single handedly broke the Nazi's "enigma" code, a key factor in winning WWII)

And we wouldn't have an advanced industrialized civilization, nor the concept of macroeconomics, if it wasn't for economic theorist James Maynard Keynes, another openly gay man.

So to wrap things up:

Regardless of whether or not your dog has a penis and thinks it's really a girl dog, that statement is a really lousy supporting statement for whether gay marriage is ethical, natural, etc.

I'm really sick of this argument over gay marriage having to be rehashed every few years, and I really hope to see gay marriage legalized soon. Because frankly, I'm sick of the stupid statements like "Your dog has a penis, therefore gay marriage is wrong."



Lee Camp's Moment of Clarity: Thinking outside the box

via Lee Camp

See it yourself, the Romney video causing all the hubbub

So here's the one that everybody was talking about yesterday:


On how he'll lie to poor people to make them like him

On Consultants:

On how to win elections:

On the Economy:

On Iran and Nuclear Weapons:

On Obama's foreign Policy:

On the Israeli/Palestinian conflict:

Here's the entire video, unedited, from start to finish:

Part one:

Part two:

The State of the Unions

In order for this ad to become more than sentiment, Unions are going to have to decouple themselves from the Democratic Party-- especially in light of the fact that Chicago Mayor, and former White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, is looking to throw the Teachers Union under the (school) bus by laying off thousands of teachers, closing schools, and bringing in privately run charter schools.

It's a GOP wet dream, and yet it's a Democrat who is going to get it done. Just another example of how it's always the Democratic Party that advances the GOP agenda.

I have to agree.

"Occupy Failed. Try something better."

I don't agree that Occupy has failed. I don't think it's even really begun, as Frances Fox Piven points out. But as somebody who is running for office, I do agree that we need to engage the system head on.

via EvelJustin24

Tom Morello: This land is your land by Woody Guthrie

With the often cut-out verses no less!

via NoCureForThat

September 18, 2012

Lee Camp and Greg Palast: Moment of Clarity

"If somebody is fucking you, FUCK BACK! If they're going to steal it, MAKE them steal it." - Greg Palast

"What do you fucking mean you're discouraged? People were hung from fucking TREES because they wanted to vote. Martin Luther King was shot in the fucking HEAD because he wanted to vote. All you're being asked to do is check your registration, pussy." -- Greg Palast

Photos from #S17 (yesterday)

By Brennan Cavenaugh

Private Security Cop salutes the Corporate American flag:

Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, presidential and vice presidential candidates, helping to distribute pizza from OWS supporters in Nevada

Cops play "Catch and Release"

September 17, 2012

September 13, 2012

Ridiculously HORRIBLE Romney PAC advert

So at first this advert seems like a really poorly done advert that lies, saying that Obama is trying to make Gay Marriage legal (he isn't) and that by voting for Mitt Romney, you can stave off that oncoming gaypocalypse.

But in reality, there's clues hidden throughout the ad that provide a much more interesting and sinister plot line.

* The feigned interest in how his wife is doing
* The way he looks relieved when he hears his wife is upset about Obama trying to make gay marriage legal.
* The fact that he pours a cup of coffee for his wife, but not for himself.
* The tight ominous shot on that cup of coffee.
* The unconvincing way he delivers the line about "voting for somebody with values."

The man looks suddenly relieved to find out that his wife hates gays; because he is gay and is about to leave her and their sham of a marriage for his long time "fishing buddy" Frank.

That ominous cup of coffee shot is foreshadowing to the fact that it is POISONED. After 20 years of hearing her bigoted nonsense stabbing into the very soul of his being every day, he snapped and crushed up the pills she takes for her thyroid condition and brewed them into her coffee. He is going to leave her after she dies of a "heart attack" and use the life insurance to move with Frank to a log cabin in the woods.

Now, with this subplot in mind, watch the ad again:

He's a cold hearted killer! Which is to say, "a republican."

September 7, 2012

Bill Moyers: Challenging Power, Changing Politics

This week on Moyers & Company, Bill talks with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who’s been an independent in Congress for 21 years — longer than anyone in American history. In 2010, Sanders made national news when he delivered an eight-and-a-half-hour speech attacking the agreement President Obama and the Republicans had made to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich.

Bill also talks to Green Party presidential and vice presidential candidates Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala about what they’ve learned about American politics. Stein graduated from Harvard Medical School to become an internist specializing in environmental health. She was a Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate in 2002, co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities in 2003, and represented the Green-Rainbow Party in state races in 2004 and 2006. Honkala is an anti-poverty activist and community organizer who co-founded the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. A formerly homeless single mother, Honkala became the first woman ever to run for Sheriff of Philadelphia in 2011.

September 5, 2012

DNC protesters not allowed into "Free Speech Zone"

What is the crazy bullshit?

Also friendly fascist Vermin Supreme talks about his PONYTOPIA, in which everything is so beautiful, he can't wait to bring his vision about through force.

If you want to help Jill Stein get Ads on the Air, best do it today.

From the Jill Stein for President Campaign:

The timing is vital. The primary season ends on Thursday September 6th. This means that you only have until September 6th to get your contributions matched, dollar for dollar, up to $250, with federal matching funds. And this means that you only have until September 6th to donate the maximum allowable contribution of $2500.

Time is running short for another reason. Federal law requires that our matching funds monies be used in the primaries, by Thursday, and this means that we must pay for our cable and TV ads right now. Your donation right now makes all the difference.

Read on, below for details about how much we need to raise to reach your community:

We've raised $40,000 for these ads. If we succeed in raising another $40,000 (for a total of $80K) by Thursday, our ads will run in college town media markets from the Pacific to the Mississippi to the Atlantic. If we raise another $80,000 (for a total of $120K), we'll have viewership in medium sized cities of population 500,000 to 2 million. And if you help us raise another $160,000, we'll be on in at least a couple major metropolitan areas. The more money we raise, the higher chance that YOUR community will see one of these ads.

See the graph below to get a sense of how many college town, medium city, and major metro media markets we can reach at each level of fundraising. And please donate right now:

What does "Green" mean?

New Ads from the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein for President:

A better life for all of us:

A Green New Deal:

The most important Color is Green:

September 2, 2012

Interview with Trevor Lucius

Trevor Lucius:
You've been critical of President Obama since the 2008 election on his stances on issues like war, health care, torture, and corporate welfare. Why are so many liberals and progressive reluctant or just silent when it comes to expressing any sort of criticism of the Democratic Party or its candidates?

The Punk Patriot:
I think I should first explain why I've been so critical. I was a Democrat for the first 10 years I could vote. I worked for local, state, and national Democratic Party candidates. I really thought that that was where my energy needed to go in order for change to happen. But over and over, I've seen how the worst thing for the policies of the Democratic Party's base, is for Democrats to get elected into positions of power.

On the issue of war, Obama has expanded George W Bush's wars, and the left has remained silent about it. We're using drones to bomb weddings and funerals in places like Yemen and Pakistan. These “targeted killings” are anything but, and we're killing innocent people, and acting as a recruiting agent for Al Quida and it's allies. With all these innocent people being killed, it makes Obama look bad. So any women or children are called “collateral damage.” If that's not Orwellian enough, any male over the age of 18, if they are killed, is reclassified as an “enemy combatant” without any regard to whether they were armed, or involved in combat of any sort. Living, they are civilian bystanders, dead they are “enemy combatants.” It's political cynicism on par with, or above the level of the Bush Administration.

On the issue of Healthcare, the Affordable Care Act is a giveaway to the Private Insurance companies. The bill was practically written by lobbyists from big pharma and big insurance, as well as that vanguard of neoconservative intelligentsia, the Heritage Foundation.

There's just example after example of how it has been Democrats elected to power who ultimately get Republican ideas passed. My videos are an attempt to show that disconnect between rhetoric and reality.

TL: You've been a very vocal supporter of the Green Party's Jill Stein for president in 2012, what do you have to say to those who would accuse you of wasting your vote on a third party?

TPP: There are two ways to waste your vote. The first way you can waste your vote is by not using it. The second way you can waste your vote is by voting for candidates who support policies you oppose. I can understand the rationale behind the fear-based philosophy of “lesser-evilism” but let's look at what it has actually delivered. The left in the Democratic party have become captured votes, meaning that no matter how bad, and how much like the GOP the Democrats act, these voters will hold their noses and vote Democrat. Why? Because they are afraid of the policies of the GOP. What let's go into the details of what those policies we were afraid of were:

We were afraid of indefinite detention of protesters. Obama gave us the 2011 NDAA, which allows for indefinite detention of US citizens, without trial. Obama and the Democrats gave us the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, which essentially made not just protesting illegal, but even being in an area on federal property where protests are happening, illegal.

George W Bush was illegally spying on US citizens. Obama went above and beyond what Bush did with the Patriot act, and replaced existing FISA standards with the ones George W Bush's administration was operating under illegally.

We wanted to see an end to torture. We don't know if torture has actually ended, because it largely took place in secret, and whistleblowers like Bradley Manning face far greater retribution from their government than ever before. Not only that, but Obama has refused to prosecute Bush officials involved in torture and abuse.

We were afraid of expanding the wars. Since Obama came into office, we went from fighting two overt wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to an expanded war in Afghanistan, a continued occupation by private mercenaries in Iraq, plus an overt war in Libya, and covert wars in places like Yemen, Pakistan, Iran, etc.

We were afraid of Bush shutting down the internet. The Democratic party and Republican Party alike gave us SOPA, PIPA, etc.

We were afraid of the GOP expanding so-called “free trade” agreements, which limit our ability to regulate trade, increase the power of transnational corporations over our lives, and export our jobs to places where there are low workplace safety standards, low-wages, and poor environmental regulation, so that transnational corporations can pollute the planet and abuse workers with impunity. Obama has gone far beyond what Bush ever dreamed of when it came to creating these “Free trade” deals, one after the next, and is currently working on a mega-NAFTA called the Trans Pacific Partnership, which will link the NAFTA zone with the Asian free trade zone, so that we will have even less control over our local economies.

We were afriad that the GOP would usher in a disasterous climate change-accerlating policy of “drill baby drill”, and yet we see Democrats like Andrew Cuomo pushing to lift restrictions on Fracking, we see Obama lifted restrictions on deep-sea drilling, even while oil spewed from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, during the Deepwater Horizon disaster. We've seen no regulation on fracking nationally, despite the fact that people across the country are getting poisoned by toxins placed into the groundwater, despite the fact that climate change's effects are far greater and far faster than what we predicted 30 years ago.

We were afraid that the GOP would put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block. Obama did that for them during the budget crisis debate.

Voting for the politics of fear has given us everything that we were afraid of. I don't care about arguments about how Romney is worse, Obama has already given you all the things that you are afraid of Romney doing. I'm not saying vote for Romney. I'm saying stop voting for people who are going to give you the GOP policies, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, the policies suck, and we should stop voting for those policies.

Why do people fail to move away from the Democratic Party? I think it's largely fear. They are really afraid of the GOP. I think that's a huge motivator. If you look at any DCCC or DNC advertising, you'll see that fear of the GOP is a HUGE selling point for the DNC. What they run on continuously is “We're not the GOP.” But as weak an argument as that is, it's not even honest, especially when they give us most of the GOP's policies.

Here in Maine, the Democratic Party gave us a flat tax back in the 124th congress. I think the bill number was LD 1495, it literally raised taxes on low income people from 4% to 6.5% and lowered taxes on the top tier of income earners from 8% to 6.5%. Not only that, but to make up for the projected loss in revenue, they put in place a consumption tax, on things like groceries, auto-repairs, etc, with exemptions for things like tee-reservations at golf courses, stays at bed and breakfasts, and marina docking fees. Now, consumption taxes fall overwhelmingly on low-income people anyways, because a larger percentage of their income is spent on things like food, housing, and auto-repairs (especially when low-income folks like myself are far more likely to own a much older car, which is in far more frequent need of repairs than a brand new car is), but to create exemptions for the sorts of luxury items that they did, is just taking a bad thing and making it worse.

I think what it ultimately boils down to is those captured voters develop a sort of Electoral Stockholm Syndrome, where they fall in love with their captor/abuser. I really think that independent minded-voters, and especially the Green Party, have the opportunity to act as Political Therapists, to tell them to walk away from that abusive relationship.

TL: What motivated you to run for the Maine Senate Seat and what issues are most important to you?

TPP: Very honestly, I am up against a Democrat who is well-regarded as being progressive. He's the classic Nobelesse Obligee-- holds progressive values, also holds millions of dollars in a bank account-- and makes money through capital investment as opposed to labor, but generally sides with working people over capital (an exception that comes readily to mind though is the flat tax that he and every other Democrat in the Maine Congress voted for in the 124th session.)

So for me, running against a well-liked incumbent, it started out as an academic exercise. I wanted to show how easy it is to run for office, and to lead by example, hopefully inspiring others to run for office themselves. I always tire of hearing people say, “I don't vote, because there's nobody worth voting for.” But really, who is more worth your vote than yourself?

As I went around though and started talking to people, I realized that my platform really resonated with people, and that there were issues that my platform, being a member of the working poor, were simply not being prioritized or talked about by my opponent.

TL: Occupy Wall Street vocalized a growing frustration many Americans have with the corporate control of American politics and income inequality but eventually seemed to get written off by many, including the news media, as being too disruptive and unorganized. Where do we go from here, is political dissent dead?

I disagree that Occupy Wall Street has been too disruptive. I don't think it has been disruptive enough. I would like to see them shut down trade on the floor of the NYSE. Of course, that probably won't happen. Capital is far better guarded than our Capitol. (See what I did there?)

Having spent a fair amount of time occupying both Wall Street, and Washington DC, I can tell you that with a fair degree of authority. The NYSE is nearly impossible to get into. It has thick metal doors that automatically close in case of an emergency. Few places in DC have that same level of security. I think that really shows you where the REAL decision making power lays in our society. I think Occupy Wall Street is absolutely right to be where they are. They have identified a clear center of power in world finance.

And of course the Corporate News Media would write them off. I don't know why you would expect differently. There are six major conglomerates that own every major news outlet in the USA, and these conglomerates own subsidaries in all sorts of horrible industries, from the military-industrial complex, to the oil-industrial complex, to the prison-industrial complex... that we in the Occupy movement highlight how disparate problems seen as isolated struggles, are actually connected by the fundamental nature of our capitalist system, of course the corporate-owned news media is going to write us off.

That said, I also agree with Slavoj Zizeck, that the unifying power of Occupy Wall Street was the message of “I'd rather not.” I'd rather not take part in a capitalist system that values greed over human need. I'd rather not participate in a political system in which politicians are bought and paid for by wealthy bankers. I'd rather not have a healthcare system that exploits people who are at their weakest both physically and financially, to profit both from their illness, as well as profit from their not getting medical care that they need.

But what is there as a positive alternative to offer to that? So long as we have no stated agenda of alternatives to the status quo, we are simply throwing a hissy fit. I think this is because we have largely been infantalized, by our educational system, which does not value civics, and does not teach the skills of civic engagement, and our media, which puts up presidential figures as though they are saviours, and tries to make voting out to be far more important that it really is. Which is not to say, “don't vote.” It's to say that voting is the bare-minimum thing that you must do, it's like getting out of bed in the morning. You cannot say that you are living your life just by getting out of bed alone, you have to follow up with actually living your life. In the same way, you cannot say that you are an active citizen, an active participant in your government if the only thing you do is vote.

But the challenge that Zizeck puts to the Occupy movement in those remarks, is to translate these abstract struggles into policy issues.

For instance, Medicare for all is a system that works around the globe. This is not some radical leftist pipe-dream. This is a practical policy solution. And not only does it work, but it works really really well. So the challenge now is to translate these problems into solutions. I think that the Green Party, as a party that unlike the DNC and RNC, refuses to take corporate money, that is made up of dissenting voices, finds itsself in a really choice position to articulate the policy goals of the Occupy movement. And I don't mean that in a paternalistic way, like the Green Party is going to figure this out for you. No. I think that the Occupy Movement, can, and already has been, using the Green Party as a political vehicle – via candidates like myself running for office. I'm not alone in this effort either. I know an early occupier in my hometown of Portland, Holly Seeliger, is running for School Board. Ursula Rozum, an occupier from New York, is running for US Congress out of Syracuse. Drew Langdon, an occupier from Rochester, is running for NY state assembly. Long-time anti-foreclosure activist, Cheri Honkala, during the time that the Occupy movement was just taking off, ran as a Green for Sheriff in Philadelphia, on the platform of refusing to comply with bank ordered foreclosures. She's now the Vice Presidential candidate on the Green Party ticket.

I see the Green Party and the Occupy movement working hand-in-glove; the Occupy movement is the hand, the Green Party is the glove. The Green Party would love to be taken over by the young people in the Occupy Movement, and used by them to achieve their goals. The Green Party has been saying for decades the same things as many in the Occupy movement has been, and we've been working also on articulating policy positions that can create structural differences-- that can turn the problems highlighted into policy solutions.

TL: What does the Punk Patriot do when he's not being a political activist or video blogging?
TPP: I see the Punk Patriot as a character that I play on YouTube, but it's been strange, lately, because the two worlds have been colliding for me quite often. Right now, I've been campaigning full time, but I've always been a political activist. When I'm not doing political activism, I enjoy reading, playing music (I have a band called Theodore Treehouse. We've got two studio albums out.) I screen print t-shirts, which you can buy at (that's largely how I make ends meet). My time off is usually spent just trying to make ends meet though. Being an activist full time means that there are a lot of sacrifices that I have to make elsewhere in my life. I'm really thankful to those who are sustaining donors to my blog. If it wasn't for them, I'd be unable to do the work that I currently do.

September 1, 2012

Slavoj Zizeck - Don't Act, just think.

via Big Think

Slavoj Zizek: Capitalism is . . . and this, almost I’m tempted to say is what is great about it, although I’m very critical of it . . . Capitalism is more an ethical/religious category for me. It’s not true when people attack capitalists as egotists. “They don't care.” No! An ideal capitalist is someone who is ready, again, to stake his life, to risk everything just so that production grows, profit grows, capital circulates. His personal or her happiness is totally subordinated to this. This is what I think Walter Benjamin, the great Frankfurt School companion, thinker, had in mind when he said capitalism is a form of religion. You cannot explain, account for, a figure of a passionate capitalist, obsessed with expanded circulation, with rise of his company, in terms of personal happiness.

I am, of course, fundamentally anti-capitalist. But let’s not have any illusions here. No. What shocks me is that most of the critics of today’s capitalism feel even embarrassed, that's my experience, when you confront them with a simple question, “Okay, we heard your story . . . protest horrible, big banks depriving us of billions, hundreds, thousands of billions of common people's money. . . . Okay, but what do you really want? What should replace the system?” And then you get one big confusion. You get either a general moralistic answer, like “People shouldn't serve money. Money should serve people.” Well, frankly, Hitler would have agreed with it, especially because he would say, “When people serve money, money’s controlled by Jews,” and so on, no? So either this or some kind of a vague connection, social democracy, or a simple moralistic critique, and so on and so on. So, you know, it’s easy to be just formally anti-capitalist, but what does it really mean? It’s totally open.

This is why, as I always repeat, with all my sympathy for Occupy Wall Street movement, it’s result was . . . I call it a Bartleby lesson. Bartleby, of course, Herman Melville’sBartleby, you know, who always answered his favorite “I would prefer not to” . . . The message of Occupy Wall Street is, I would prefer not to play the existing game. There is something fundamentally wrong with the system and the existing forms of institutionalized democracy are not strong enough to deal with problems. Beyond this, they don't have an answer and neither do I. For me, Occupy Wall Street is just a signal. It’s like clearing the table. Time to start thinking.

The other thing, you know, it’s a little bit boring to listen to this mantra of “Capitalism is in its last stage.” When this mantra started, if you read early critics of capitalism, I’m not kidding, a couple of decades before French Revolution, in late eighteenth century. No, the miracle of capitalism is that it’s rotting in decay, but the more it’s rotting, the more it thrives. So, let’s confront that serious problem here.

Also, let’s not remember--and I’m saying this as some kind of a communist--that the twentieth century alternatives to capitalism and market miserably failed. . . . Like, okay, in Soviet Union they did try to get rid of the predominance of money market economy. The price they paid was a return to violent direct master and servant, direct domination, like you no longer will even formally flee. You had to obey orders, a new authoritarian society. . . . And this is a serious problem: how to abolish market without regressing again into relations of servitude and domination.

My advice would be--because I don't have simple answers--two things: (a) precisely to start thinking. Don't get caught into this pseudo-activist pressure. Do something. Let’s do it, and so on. So, no, the time is to think. I even provoked some of the leftist friends when I told them that if the famous Marxist formula was, “Philosophers have only interpreted the world; the time is to change it” . . . thesis 11 . . . , that maybe today we should say, “In the twentieth century, we maybe tried to change the world too quickly. The time is to interpret it again, to start thinking.”

Second thing, I’m not saying people are suffering, enduring horrible things, that we should just sit and think, but we should be very careful what we do. Here, let me give you a surprising example. I think that, okay, it’s so fashionable today to be disappointed at President Obama, of course, but sometimes I’m a little bit shocked by this disappointment because what did the people expect, that he will introduce socialism in United States or what? But for example, the ongoing universal health care debate is an important one. This is a great thing. Why? Because, on the one hand, this debate which taxes the very roots of ordinary American ideology, you know, freedom of choice, states wants to take freedom from us and so on. I think this freedom of choice that Republicans attacking Obama are using, its pure ideology. But at the same time, universal health care is not some crazy, radically leftist notion. It’s something that exists all around and functions basically relatively well--Canada, most of Western European countries.

So the beauty is to select a topic which touches the fundamentals of our ideology, but at the same time, we cannot be accused of promoting an impossible agenda--like abolish all private property or what. No, it’s something that can be done and is done relatively successfully and so on. So that would be my idea, to carefully select issues like this where we do stir up public debate but we cannot be accused of being utopians in the bad sense of the term.

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

Bad Lip Reading, "More Mitt"

from Bad Lip Reading

Jill Stein speaking in Monument Square, Portland Maine