Monthly Archives: July 2012

Protesters in Vermont Subdued with Pepper Spray and Rubber Bullets

Very good article written by Dylan Kelly on the Vermont Commons blog on the unexpected police action against protesters who gathered against Tar Sands at the Governor’s Conference in Burlington this past weekend. Continue reading at the site, link below…

Peaceful Protesters Put Down by Militarized Police Force

Burlington- Unprovoked, the Burlington Police Department opened fire on unarmed civilians with pepper spray, rubber bullets, and brutal force in order to crush dissent and political opposition to the Northeast Governor’s Conference in Burlington. In addition to Gov. Shumlin, the Conference was composed of Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec Province; and the Governors of New Hampshire, and Maine as well as numerous other delegates who gathered in Burlington to discuss regional economic and security issues.

Arriving in great numbers from locales as far afield as Connecticut, Northern Quebec, and New York City as well as turning out in droves from Burlington itself, the protesters were determined to bring issues such as natural resource extraction, affordable housing, student debt, indigenous peoples’ rights, and a wide array of other issues to the forefront of the conversation between regional elites.

Click here to continue reading at the Vermont Commons site.

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Social Democracy vs. Democratic Socialism vs. National Socialism (Observations at a distance of the French and American experience)

French exuberance over Hollande victory, via democraticunderground.com

Though I have been living in France again for these few weeks during the summer, I feel that I have experienced and seen enough to make some comments that may be more insightful than pedestrian when it comes to a comparison of our two countries and the systems that support us)

First of all, during my stay, I have paid little by way of taxes here and have no financial investment in this system.  In all candor, this must be how the 1% must feel in the US living there paying less than the middle classes do, yet enjoying the same privileges and advantages afforded to them in our republic.

That being said, the food is great and bountiful here.  I did not have to think about GMOs or preservatives here. There is good cheese and great quality very, very cheap regional wines for sale and the beef grass fed.  The bread is fresh and fortifying and places to buy it fresh plentiful.  I pay no taxes to use my car, or support the schools or museums.  I am a parasite  who takes full advantage of the roads, educated citizenry, even of the workers who plant the roadside flowers that make this place so beautiful.  I financially support none of it through taxes.  I use a high speed rail system and local trains and trams paying less to ride them than the cost to run them.  It is all someone else’s taxes who go to pay for the quality and benefit of my existence.  If I were to live here for more than a few weeks a year, I would feel bad about taking advantage of all this without giving something back, for, though I may be a parasite, and generally loathe taxes and bureaucracies,  I am one with a conscience here and back at home.

So why is it that the upper 1% in the states seem to have no such conscience?  What is it about their self-absorbed lives that doesn’t allow their sense of altruism to tick, even in the least collective degree?  I believe that it is one of Entitlement.  The “E” word.  Yes, it takes one to point out one.  How else could the wealthy in the US laser focus on a word and turn it into an epithet aimed at everyone else who is on the cusp of surviving and who might be a recipient of what is left of state noblesse-oblige, now defamed as a “welfare state”.  Sure, there are abuses.  Any system has them.  But with proper pruning, policing and punishment,  the “three Ps” the abuses are guaranteed to be small and few and far between.  But again, it takes hubris for one who has no real investment or financial connection with a society to enjoy all of its benefits to ask for the crucifixion of those who are less fortunate for doing the same just to stay alive.   Is it not hypocrisy for any of the 1% to shop at Walmart, for example, where cheap prices are afforded greatly by hiring part time workers and having those same employees there apply for food stamps as part of their hiring?  Are we not again socializing our most efficient means of production in this way?  If the system continues to grow and makes Sam Walton’s family and shareholders richer, it must be good right?  Isn’t this pure capitalism?

No, this is National Socialism.  Just as the rich won’t have it philosophically, they still need it to maintain the the illusion of a purely capitalist corporate model.  It is not. We as a society are keeping Sam’s workers’ and dependent families fed.  This is the socialized cost of lower prices at the register.  It is also how private insurers of state workers compensation systems have increased their profits by offsetting disability payments to injured workers by deducting from the indemnity paid to injured workers the amounts they receive from the Social Security Disability system, thereby privatizing gains and socializing losses.  It is the basis of “tort Reform”.  It is a reallocation of wealth by the protection of laws to the benefit of the wealthy.   Most recently we saw most blatantly it with TARP and the bank bailouts.

So, now what is the problem with keeping the Walton’s family workers healthy other than socializing gains and losses?  Absolutely nothing other than  the fact that one has to call it a form of socialism.   Privatizing gain and socializing losses is a form of “National Socialism” a/k/a “Corporatism” or for the less squeamish fascism.  If one is a fascist, if corporations fail, and failure can be avoided by socializing losses by putting it on the backs of taxpayers, then that is not a bad thing because the oligarchs win out.  Anything when the corporations win is good for the oligarchs and plutocrats in a fascist state.  If losses are “socialized”, even if it is cost effective and pays for itself, to them it is bad.  Anything else, other than the institution of communism (admittedly an abject failure) would be better.  So we call our successful social programs in our democracy, something else.   The term “Social Security” is watered down medically into a name like ” “Medicare”.

In this country we even socialize the human cost of our wars, by providing our injured veterans with a lifetime of federally funded workers compensation benefits known variously as “Veterans’ Benefits” and “Veterans’ Medical Benefits”.   For those destitute veterans, we as Americans also provide for the destitute vet, “Veterans Retirement”.  We do all this including the payment of vested retirement benefits to Service personnel, the Congress and our federal employees.  We need to begin seeing our system, it’s successes and it’s excesses for what they are and calling them by their proper names whether it be “fascist”, “socialist” or “socially democratic” or “progressive”  terms or memes that would function to limit the excesses and maximize the combined benefits of both capital and labor while maintaining the natural tension between the two through the use of good reason and common sense.

So why are we so opposed to socializing our democracy?  Besides actually using the word “social”, a term anathema to most of America’s trained ears, the fear of the unknown or the new are perhaps the other reasons.  Additionally, as a nation of international xenophobes, rarely do travel globally to places where we can see first hand how social democracies work elsewhere and how they by necessity, relate to one another in the world at large.  Perhaps if we did observe more and blindly condemn less would we see that there are other ways of doing things as both a local and national community.  But perhaps this is too much because it would require a community of historically rugged individualists to realize that the frontiers are now closed and the recognition of what it means to be an American community.  This is going to take cooperation and a recognition of commonly beneficial goals and values that will sustain us and help us grow as a society and as a civilization as we meet the demands that will try our communality over time.

My observation of the French both up close now and from a distance is that this is a book that the French have been writing for themselves as a society of common sanguination for over a thousand years now. The vision here is clear and the population generally well cared for, hard working and happy.  We on the other side of the Atlantic have yet to complete the preface to our own tome or even to agree on the words that best describe who we are and what we want to become.

Mike Murburg

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The Occupy Movement – In Purpose and Conflict

Posted on the Occupy New Hampshire General Assembly Facebook today, so well said we couldn’t resist to re-post it here.

by Michael Joseph

I am writing this note for Heather Feather and Theresa Earle who were both disappointed in my stand on Sunday, July 15, 2012. They have expected more words of unity from me than those of division. I am attempting here to lay out what outreach I can do and also outreach that I see as less meaningful to the Occupy process in general.

When the Occupy Wall Street movement started, it had a clear purpose. This mission continues in the present time. Its mission is to draw attention to and to educate the masses in the great imbalance and hording of wealth by the megabanks and therefore the wealthiest 1% of Americans. The movement took off rapidly due to that great frustration with this infringement all over the world.

There has never been attention paid to limited government, but in a strong federal government that is fair and works for everyone. Professor James Pope’s testimony at the Occupy NH trial laid out the clear causes and effects of this power grab by the 1% at the expence of the 99%. His research showed that there is a direct correlation between the strength of organized labor and the ability of the 1% to control national dialogue. When organized labor has been strong, the ability of the 1% to control the agenda was significantly reduced. Additionally, those periods when the government had less power were correlated with those same periods of runaway wealth by the 1%. This note includes a link to his research. I believe that our acquittal on curfew violations and arrest hinges in large part on his testimony. He referred to the moments of change as “republican” with a small “c”, moments when the angry and disenfranchised populous rises up and exerts its full control.

I read “The Lord of the Flies” years ago for an example of how dangerous limited (or free) government really is. I also read Hobbs and Locke in my study of political science as an undergrad music student. I believe that Hobbs’s reasoning, for why society puts self-government in place to be the best argument for the cause of the Occupy Movement. Most of the Occupy participants have been progressives such as me. While the 1% are largely small government, fiscal conservatives and a call back to the old “Golden Age” when the average American could only dream with little hope of obtaining the luxurious pinnings of that elite. Whenever this structure prevails, delights of the wealthiest increase by leaps and bounds while those who struggle to make a living suffer more. The direct change in that old system was the rise of organized labor working for new legislation on work rules and benefits. So the clear remedy to our present situation, is a progressive movement to give the 99% a fair shake.

While the Free State Project aspires to a some of the ideals for opportunity enshrined in the Occupy Mission, its desire to eliminate central government services for the needy, the disenfranchised, the handicapped, the elderly, healthcare and the directed education of the young makes adoption of its principals almost completely incompatible with that of the Occupy Movement. In that there are minute areas of agreement, the free state project members might be consulted with the consensus of the General Assembly of the Occupy Movement. This is however, my singular opinion only and would need to be brought to the table for approval by members of the Occupy Movement embrasing the principals of Occupy Wall Street.

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Danny Keating Runs for 2nd Congressional District

In keeping with our mission at Progressive Action NH of disseminating information that comes from or involves, alternatives to the existing choices, we present to our blog readers a candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, Danny Keating.  Danny as an independent,  is running a bare-bones campaign under the Socialist Alternative banner.  We commend Danny for his courage in putting forward an agenda that offers an alternative for working people everywhere, to the present bicameral, corporate political choices.

Why I’m Running for Congress in New Hampshire

Danny Keating

Danny Keating

I am running for U.S. Congress in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District. I am a construction worker and U.S. Army veteran who has lived in Nashua, NH since I was a child. I am running as an Independent and a member of Socialist Alternative to give a voice to the 99% during these corporate-dominated elections.

The two parties of big business, Democrats and Repub­licans, have carried out budget cuts, attacks on civil liberties, and an assault on women’s rights, all while strength­ening corporate control in this country. They cut programs while scapegoating immigrants, union workers and others. Every cut and attack is another attempt to force working people to pay for the economic crisis, a crisis created by the bankers, speculators and their system.

I am running because the two parties refuse to deal with the burning issues facing working people in any meaning­ful way. We need a massive jobs pro­gram to hire workers with union wages, benefits and rights to rebuild infrastruc­ture, stop environmental destruction and provide the social services we need. We could pay for this by closing corporate tax loopholes and increasing taxes on corporations and the top 1%, as well as slashing spending on the wars and occu­pations in Iraq and Afghanistan while improving veteran services.

We can only win a jobs program through mobilizing unions and commu­nity groups in a movement that protests and educates, while building demo­cratically run organizations. A mass movement for jobs and services against racism, sexism, layoffs, home foreclo­sures and budget cuts needs to be linked to political struggle in breaking from the two corporate parties.

We need a party of working people, run democratically, with elected representatives who are accountable and only take the wage of the average worker. Real change will never come from the puppets of big business. To get change in the past, we needed a big protest move­ment. My campaign will build a voice for the struggles against the capitalist system, and for a better future – a demo­cratic socialist future.

For more information on Danny’s campaign, he can be contacted via Facebook.

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Not Just One Voice

Some Occupiers meeting for sandwiches after.

Since apparently some who opposed the Occupy NH break-off over the gun issue have attempted to point the finger at a few more outspoken Occupy NH participants, we have posted here some of the comments and statements of solidarity concerning the break-off decision:

Read the Declaration of Occupy Wall Street that Occupy New Hampshire resolved to stand in solidarity with.

We welcome you to submit your statement, we will transfer this over to the Occupy website once we have re-established one.

Why I decline attending the Occupy NH GA.

This issue of gun toting yahoos has gotten out of hand. I was a police officer from 1977-1980. I open carried a Smith and Wesson 357 magnum for purposes of protecting myself and the community from gun toters who would use them for their stated purpose. I trained and know how to use it for those purposes.

I equate the notion of carrying any such weapon on a bright and sunny Sunday to pure arrogance. Arrogance carries its own punishment. What goes around will always come around. An innocent teenager was killed in Florida last winter by this same arrogance. George Zimmerman is going to get what he deserves. I will not acknowledge this sham!

– Michael A. Joseph

The Choice for Occupy

As a gun owner and outspoken advocate of an armed population, I would like to clarify that my opposition to the Free State Project (an umbrella term I will use to represent all FSP, Anarcho-capitalists and related ideologies) does not rest upon their insistence that they will bring guns to the statehouse today.  My rejection of their twisted ideology is systemic and my call for them to be ejected from the Occupy movement in NH is without qualification.

The “gun issue”, as it has become known is but a convenient porthole which we can use to inspect and criticize the greater movement.  The fundamental insistence on the primacy of individual sovereignty will forever cause the group to reject making their individual wishes secondary to the community.  It is because of this fundamental tenet that the FSP can never stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

There are no solutions to the problems of the world we live in today which do not involve the combined work and sacrifice of all people toward the progress of humankind.  The degree of that sacrifice must be democratically determined by all people (and by people alone) and cannot be voluntary or subject to the trump of any individual.

It is for this reason that Occupy New Hampshire must not call for “change”, but must call for specific and pointed change that confronts and combats the myriad abuses of rampant greed and selfishness in our society.  It is praise for this selfishness, which Ayn Rand called “rational self-interest” which sits at the heart of the Objectivist worldview that informs modern Right-Libertarianism.

It is self-evident that a revolutionary movement cannot succeed by including those who disagree with the aims of that movement and who work against those aims.  There is no “common ground” in these circumstances because the mere inclusion of members of this ideology in the steering of that movement will limit the scope of that movement and prevent it from reaching its revolutionary potential.

For this reason, if Occupy New Hampshire does not issue a statement which sets itself clearly on a path opposed to selfish and abusive individualism, I can no longer participate in Occupy New Hampshire.  This will not be because I will abandon the movement, but because the movement will have abandoned solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, a worldwide movement of people struggling against greed, and the historic significance of this moment.

– Shawn Girard

Choosing Nonviolence

Originally I planned on going to the GA but then changed my mind when I saw the various feeds on FB blow up with gun language. I didn’t involve myself in the feeds because of the vitriol; I didn’t want to become a target. But I was convinced by respectful members of ONH to attend and it was the right decision.

Being surrounded by the armed citizenry was terrifying, more terrifying than being surrounded by thousands of police and their weapons of mass destruction, aggressively trained dogs and horses, LRADs, and snipers on rooftops. It more terrifying than being assaulted by the police as I was in Chicago. ONH members comforted me, helping me to ease my fear; not a single member of FSP tried to comfort me, to ease my anxiety. Rather, they strutted with their weapons, some out for all to see others (vaguely) concealed in attempts to intimidate ONH members into silence or compliance (I’m not sure which). Instead of actually engaging in dialogue, they brandished their weapons and dodged eye contact yet expected the peaceful to sit next to the armed as if we were all friends working toward the same goals.

I walked myself out out of imposed circle and sat across the lawn so I could observe from afar. I had to get away because I was afraid of my fellow “occupiers”, that is those who identify as FSP or are formulating that identity, of those with firearms strapped to their hips. I was not afraid in Chicago of my fellow Occupier. I found comfort from them, kinship. I did not find that with the FSPers today. I never have in the decade I’ve lived in this state, no matter how many I’ve met and engaged with Freestaters over the years.

What I saw today, their show of aggression and disrespect was deplorable on the part of the FSPers. Aggression and disrespect are not Occupy traits. I have sadness this occur because, like many Occupiers, I want peace and harmony and to work together building bridges. Whether the FSPers and Occupiers can work together has became moot.

I made my choice. I am comfortable with choosing peace and nonviolence. It is the choice I will *always* make.

– Michelle Cunha

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Not A Minute Too Soon

Beggar running after carriage

Just found this image online in a small grouping of pictures. Featuring a man running alongside a carriage; a near-extinct scene that was once a common feature of American life unfolds.  The caption with the picture said, “Rich Men in carriage and Poor Man running along side.”

With his hat out to the men in the carriage it is abundantly clear that a transaction is proposed — by the running man — the beggar we like to say in this instance.

Immediately my mind came back to the Occupy New Hampshire split with the libertarian and Free Stater wing of the group today.  The divide for the most part occurred on the issue of guns.  Apparently some in the group chose to open carry at meetings and proposed open carrying at events.   Those who open carried in early Occupy NH events, particularly actions during the NH primary last year were never challenged.  Some brought their weapons, unconcealed to meetings.  While a gun fight never ensued and no one attempted to remove these individual’s right to bear arms, the Occupy movement lost some very key supporters and activists as people in near droves left, citing their disparagement that Occupy lets their General Assemblies turn into “2nd Amendment Show and Tell”.

The issue of guns and their presence at Occupy or their association with Occupy caused a heated debate that lasted for months and presented such an organizational challenge that the core members begged that the discussion cease.  Pressed to take a stand on the issue, ONH  decided to not decide and tabled it with the result that those who wished to open carry could do so.  The result was immediate; people left the movement.  At one General Assembly people literally ran out, vowing never to return when an individual came to the meeting with a hulking semi-automatic gun strapped to his side.

In trying to please everyone by making no statement, the Occupy made a statement anyway and the carry advocates won.  As a result, Occupy NH gained a few self identified Free Staters or libertarians which soon dwindled down to about two or three.  But the capitulation remained regardless.  Some Occupiers seemed to have some inherent problems with identifying where they stood on most issues, but would suddenly awaken and find their voice that seemed more often than not to swing libertarian and thus confusion would ensue.  Do we talk about this? Do we make a stand on that? Shall we? Shan’t we?

As a result, further and deeper analysis of oppression — discussion around who holds the power, that this type of work demands,  never ensued.  While some proposed that Occupy NH have some direction or mission, many, mostly Free Staters or their sympathizers blocked this decision repeatedly.  Direct disagreement occurred about the cause of our present corrupt political system, stymieing the process yet again.  Libertarians seemed no less reluctant to delve further into the meaning of the marketing phrase “Get money out of politics” than a cat to swim.

Also, when an effort was made by many to bring more structure and organization to the meeting process by bringing in the use of consensus and move the organization further forward, the obstruction began again in earnest.  Why have structure? the libertarians would ask, isn’t that mimicking the process of the state? Every decision had a stall; aren’t we turning into the enemy if we bother to take notes, record them and (gasp!) put our money in a credit union, register our name? So Occupy NH  came to a halt with funds from the primary stored in a can.  Movement forward on decisions and planning took a nosedive.

Efforts to have discussion around core issues such as white privilege, racism and all the other ‘isms’ — that is systems — that divide and thus oppress everyone gasped and choked for air as they were beaten down with heated vitriol by online libertarian warriors, resulting in the issues never playing out at meetings.  “Get Money out of Politics” remained a hollow catch-phrase.  While the earlier statewide GA’s, such as Nashua’s with their workshops, started the discussions on such issues as the NDAA or ALEC, actions never materialized as discussion evolved into disagreement and disagreement to tabling and tabling to stagnation.

Which brings us back to the picture posted above. The man in the picture runs after the carriage.  He knows his target well.  He is the hunter and all his last energy and strength will propel him forward, running fast enough to keep up with the men. Keeping up long enough hopefully to gain some change.  Out of options, if he doesn’t get the means for sustenance, he goes without. Long enough and he’ll die.

To many who propound the libertarian viewpoint, such suffering should concern no one.  In fact, sufferers, they say, need to look back inside themselves for their solution.  If this fails then obviously the individual did not deserve to participate in society.  They would say that the hungry and the starving possessed an incurable personal deficit that caused such failing.  Therefore, having proven their unfitness to belong in society, they had to expire.  No more thought required.  No social contract exists they say, to compel the men in the carriage to give up a small sum to a starving man.  To the libertarian, the unequal power balance that exists between those who have resources in abundance and those who haven’t, defines a concrete balance of nature.  Going so far as to equate taxation with theft, the libertarian serves the owner/wealthy class by ignoring the simple metric that labor  produces the wealth.  While labor seeks through taxation, agitation and other means, to take back the fruits of their labor, the wealthy seek instead to preserve the unequal balance.  By refusing to admit the power created through ownership and inequality, libertarians support the oppressive system in our culture.

Unless one has suffered the type of  desperation that would drive someone to run along a carriage like a dog or has experienced being pursued by hungry children in a developing nation, running to catch up around any American, they can never understand the cruel injustice of poverty.  Until one has worked everyday only to find their efforts simply make the rich richer, can one never understand where the real crime of theft occurs.  Cushioned as they are today, with the web of government programs to alleviate at least the most visible effects of capitalist greed, libertarians rarely get to see first-hand the brutality of that greed left to its own devices.  Nor are they challenged to see how their own lives depend upon the inter-relationship of government and citizen interest.  Ignorance is bliss.

Today those at the Occupy New Hampshire General Assembly  got to see live the many libertarians who espouse views favorable to the elite class.  Amazingly its clear and most libertarians will be the first to say, that they are not part of the 1%.  Why then protect their interests so fervently? What particularly came to this writer’s observation was the presence of those with visible disabilities and some with the infirmities of age.  What would happen to many of the people at that park, if the austerity measures they wish on others ensnared them?

Libertarians claim they have these issues in common with Occupy:

Gay marriage: To libertarians, a freedom issue.  To Occupiers, a human rights and justice issue.

Anti-war: To libertarians, a mix of xenophobia, isolationism and budgetary concerns.  The core issue of American imperialism, the military/industrial complex and the threat to human rights that military might and guns empower, never gets discussion.  Simplistic and shallow notions of the state remain.  Analysis of the deeper connection between the melding of corporate power and state power never occurs, with demand that the simplistic notion of the state as a rogue remain unchallenged.  Hidden then is the fact that the real unaccountable rogue force is the corporate state, that would grow like algae in a fetid pond, if not controlled somewhat now by the government structures the people put in place.

Occupy New Hampshire finally broke away from the libertarians, stating for once that the values of Occupy throughout the country do not align with libertarianism.  While flame wars carry on on Facebook unabated, the real issue on the ground is settled; Occupy can now move forward.  Arming itself with education, knowledge and awareness, the development of effective and strategic methods of messaging and direct action can begin.  We have a long battle before us and the time to start was yesterday.

We at Occupy have no desire to have a country of desperate beggars running alongside cars hoping for the voluntary generosity of those who horde the wealth of the people.  Possibly the only similarity between Occupy and libertarians is the claim of “taking it back”.  But it ends there; we wish to take back the people’s power, the people’s resources and the people’s voice.  The past is what we wish to leave in the dust like a speeding carriage wresting loose from the grips of the parasitic disease of corporate/government entanglement.

Kathryn Talbert, Progressive Action NH

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Look Up and Ask Why

by David White

Turn signals, blinkers, whatever you may call them, do you use them every time you’re turning, no matter what? If so, why? And, that is my main question. Why? The reason to use a turn signal, implicit in its name, is to signal to others your intentions. But, what if there are no others around? What if you’re turning out of your driveway onto the street, turn signal or no? I ask because I have seen, on two separate occasions, individuals pull from their drive way, turn signal blinking brightly. Now, you may say, why does it matter? Better safe than sorry. Yes, you could say that, and you could really piss me off. Not that that really matters, but just so you know. My problem with this is that people use their turn signals the way they live their lives, without thinking. Oh, they’ll tell you it’s the law, and better safe…well, you know.

Each time I see someone use their turn signal when no one else on the road was affected by their action, I feel as if they have simply given up on life. I feel they have an attitude of, “You tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.” Which, I feel, is not as far as one may think from, “You tell me who to kill, and I’ll do it.” Tell me who deserves to be alive, tell me what is best for me, tell me who to vote for, tell me what job I should take, tell me what to eat, tell me when to eat, tell me what to wear, tell me what to buy, tell me who is right and who is wrong, tell me to sit quietly, tell me to close my eyes, tell me to close my mind. Maybe, just maybe, you can begin to understand why this pisses me off so.

I use my turn signal when needed, meaning simply I take the time to look, observe what’s around me, or not, who may be affected by my turning. If anyone will be, someone ahead of me waiting to pull out, someone behind me needing to know I’m about to slow, someone on the other side of an intersection, I always use my signal, turning it on before I brake to slow. But I can tell you why I used it. I didn’t do it because it’s written in a book; I didn’t do it because most people do. I did it because there was a need for it. I thought about it. The same way I would think about any situation that involved me directly. People seem to live in an Emperor’s New Clothes kind of fog, simply following protocol. I’m not going to tell you what a lovely outfit you’re wearing if I see you’re completely naked (okay, there’s a few women I would, but that’s another blog).

This bothers me so much because I do see hope in the human mind, even in the American citizen, the same citizen who votes for a presidential candidate because, “He’s a good Christian; he got us into the war, I figure he would know how to get us out.” There must be hope; there has to be. A mind is malleable. If it has been deformed into retarded shapes, there remains hope it can be molded again into something absent of cobwebs, full of life, full of questions. There is hope; there has to be.

If I were to see one of my nieces accepting as truth that they’re not good enough just because someone else told them so, it would, say it with me, piss me off royally. My nieces are everything; they are possibility, they are hope. And, if we exist as a brotherhood of man (which, though we may not, I have to believe we can), everyone is important; everyone has the right, or should, to think for themselves. I cringe to see anyone abused.  That is what I consider this blind obedience to be, abuse. It’s the people who give up this right so easily who bother me so. People are being told, and convinced, that they can’t take care of themselves without asking someone else.
I do wonder, how many of these people are conservatives and how many are liberals? John Stuart Mill said that all conservatives aren’t necessarily stupid people, but it did seem all stupid people were conservative. I say this because I feel one definition of a stupid person is one who refuses to think for himself. Which brings us back to turn signals.

You may say this post isn’t really about turn signals, but it really is. Yes, there is so much more associated with it, but that is where it starts. And, consequently, where it could stop, or at least begin to. If people will simply take a moment to look around them before flipping that little switch, maybe they will be a little more likely to look around them before entering the voting booth, before staying with a job they hate, before entering into or staying in a relationship they know isn’t right. Maybe they will ask, “Why am I buying this? Why am I eating this? Why am I listening to this? Why am I putting up with this?” And maybe, once they look up, once they take a moment to look around, maybe, just maybe they will realize they do have the power to change their lives, and if one life can be changed, who’s to say how many other lives that one change may affect.

We are better than we treat ourselves. We are better than our politicians; hell, we’re better than our countries. We are humanity; we have no borders. Why do we continue to settle for so little, to sell ourselves so short, to not only allow others to think for us, but to accept their conclusions unquestioned? I know it’s fear, but if we can pursue the fear, chase it into a corner, I feel certain we will find, as in Oz, the fear has no intrinsic power. The only power the fear has is what we give it. And he who giveth can also taketh away. We allow the fear to run free, to dictate our lives. We can stop it. All we need to do is look up from time to time and ask why.

Non-Violent Resistance Is The Unalterable Force

France and the Crusades

by Mike Murburg

Today we took a walk away from my diggs in St. Jean De Bray along the gentle banks of the Loirre and to a twelfth century church, actually a small cathedral St Jean Baptiste.  Notably, the cathedral was built after the first of the crusades during the reign of Saladin in Egypt and over Jerusalem and one hundred years before the crusades were considered an ultimate failure.  It was humbling to know that where I stood, young men knelt to have their swords and armor blessed before they mounted their horses and took off to fight for the cause of freeing the holy land, the spot of needless bloodshed and war.  That was nine hundred years ago.  Let me say that again, that was nine hundred years ago.  What has changed?

Don’t worry.  The question was rhetorical.  Eventually, the home team outlasted the invaders.  Time, hubris and distance determined the losers then as it will today in the middle east and into Asia minor.

Cathedral St. Jean Baptiste

So, filled with the visage of cathedral, and onyx and marble floors, much the same in all but size that I found years ago in the cathedral Notre Damme in Paris, I walked on, up through the center of this 12 th century ville, past the Madison de bourg and towards the cemetery.

What struck me most about the cemetery were the crosses of the war dead.  Now in my generation, now in their fifties, there were jokes told about how quickly the French surrendered to the Germans during World War II?  This surrender would normally speak of cowardice.  But now seeing the rows of war dead and scores of dead children, casualties of the Franco-prussian War of 1870 to 1871 and the dozens of small white crosses in the center of this small town’s cemetery from World War I commemorating the burial places of the town’s war dead, I realized that this was no country of cowards.  I had been wrong about the French in World War II as well.  Before me, the many names of war dead killed fighting the Germans, and those eventually taken away to concentration camps.  Again these were no cowards.  This town, like most of France had given up the flower of its manhood and suffered the loss of even its children so that it’s society could survive.

Surrender in WWII had been inevitable.  Out flanked by a superior war machine and undermined by an incredibly flawed theory of defense, the French understood that no conquerer could lay upon them for long.  To our own national credit, we helped rid the French of the Bosch, just as Saladin had come to Jerusalem and rid the Holy City of the Infidel Christians.  No army of occupation can outlast the desire of a native population to be free and to determine its own course of affairs.  The choice of the French was obvious.  Surrender and preserve your architecture, lives, society and social institutions and values, or fight to extinction.  I am glad that they picked the former.  One or two thousand years of social and political architecture should not be sacrificed by governmental fiat.  Why select a society of guns, when one can have bread and butter and wait for the intruder to leave.

So, as I finally sat in the sun of a downtown cafe, dining on un sandwich de pullet and a chocolate filled éclair, how does any of this apply to the situation in which America finds itself today.  It is quite simple, I thought.  In Iraq and Afghanastan and every place in the middle east and east to Kashmir,  our destructive presence is fought and tolerated as a temporary aberration.  Whether it is one year or ten or two hundred years, we cannot stay forever.  The indigenous populations know it.  Heck, we know it ourselves.  It is why we stopped flying the Union Jack over ourselves in 1776.  It is why the Brits got out of North America.  It is why the French came home from the crusades.  It is why the French tolerated a temporary army of occupation.  All bad things do and must come to an end.

It is time to fold the tents and roll up the flags and come home…for good.

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This Is My Body…

http://lisalongo.me/2012/06/08/this-is-my-body/

From Lisa Longo’s blog.  Couldn’t have said it better, click on the link after the paragraphs below to go to her site and read the whole article.

“This is my body. It is not a platform for GOP political pandering. There are no jobs hiding in my uterus, so why is the GOP intent on spending so much time there?

Considering that conservatives are constantly going on and on and on about how our President is trying to take away their rights, it is very ironic that in the last few months the only legislation the GOP wants to champion has to do with taking away a woman’s right to reproductive health services.

Little by little, over the last decade, the GOP has been trying to overturn Roe v. Wade on a state-by-state basis. Cutting funding here, over-regulating there, turning a blind eye to domestic terrorists who bombed clinics and, ultimately, calling the man who murdered a doctor a ‘hero.'”

Lisa Longo : This is My Body

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