Monthly Archives: July 2012

OSHA Drags Their Feet on Heat Index Safety

By Mike Elk, reposted here from In These Times

OSHA Declines to Issue Rule Protecting Workers From Heat

By Mike Elk

OSHA has still not implemented standards that would protect construction workers and farm workers from heat-related illness and death. (Photo: Getty Images)

As high temperature records are broken across the United States, health and public safety advocates are calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to finally issue a rule protecting workers from extreme heat. In 1972, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommended a heat standard, but OSHA has still failed to implement it. With global warming likely to make heat related deaths more common, public safety advocates say OSAH must act immediately.

“Some farm workers and construction workers work for hours on end and there are no accommodations for rest breaks. This is what commonly leads to heat deaths” says Dr. Sammy Almashat, a researcher with Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “We are asking for rest breaks in proportion to the temperature outside as well as employers being required to provide workers with a certain amount of water every hour. This does not require some sort of a technological breakthrough. It’s very easy and inexpensive.”

The failure of OSHA to adopt a heat standard has left many workers unprotected. According to Public Citizen, 563 workers have died from heat-related injuries and 46,000 have suffered serious injuries in the last 20 years.

Read the rest of the article at the link above.

In New Hampshire almost all residential construction work fails to follow basic OSHA standards for safety, many fail to provide toilets on the jobsite, proper fall protection or to follow other rudimentary safety standards.  When the heat index hits, unless the supervisor or owner onsite is inclined to stand down, workers must bear the heat and continue on.

Working on roofs gets particularly hairy on hot days as a black asphalt roof after a few hours in the sun can burn skin and radiate heat far above the average of the day for those on the ground.

No one’s life is worth another few dollars for an project owner or a contractor.  OSHA needs to be pressured to step up to protect workers, if they don’t, who will?

If only Manchester Cable Access TV Were This Exciting…

This might be what would happen if you got O’Brien in the same room with Ray Buckley, Kathy Sullivan and Harry Accornero all together to talk about, well, anything.

Must see Teevee:

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/jordanian-parliment-member-throws-shoe-pulls-gun-critic-221349059.html

Call To Action! URGENT!

Congress critters are standing by!

URGENT!

CALL TO ACTION !

WEDNESDAY, JULY 11TH A REPUBLICAN PROPOSAL TO REPEAL THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT WILL COME UP FOR A VOTE!

 CALL YOUR CONGRESS PERSON AND TELL THEM NOT TO VOTE THIS IMPORTANT LEGISLATION DOWN!

Click here to find your congressperson and make that call today!

Since the Supreme Court refused to strike down the ACA, the GOP along with the health insurance lobby have decided to disempower the ACA state by state by pushing state legislators to repeal the law or refuse to participate in any funding of Medicaid or exchanges.  This represents a cynical attack on the American citizens by essentially starving the funding for the program.  It will have a two-fold effect, none of which is good for working people; (1) states that chose to step up and do their share in the funding of the program will have to contribute more to cover for those states that refuse, (2) those who live in the states with a GOP run legislature will just have to go suffer on their own without medical care, preferably as far as the GOP is concerned, in private if you please.

If you still don’t think there’s anything critically at stake here, think again.  as noted above the Supreme Court gave states a lot of discretion in how they will participate in the expansion of Medicaid benefits and the insurance exchange system.  As detailed in this Crooks and Liars article here, some states are even considering using the Supreme Court’s interpretation as an excuse to further cut existing Medicaid!

O’brien the Butcher — Hack That Is

Bill O’Brien, the embattled Speaker of the House of Representatives in New Hampshire has had quite a ride through New Hampshire politics the last two years.  Seemingly a man of extremes; extreme wealth and extreme views, swept in on a wave of libertarian Free Stater support combined with love and support from the far-right Tea Party, O’Brien came in with a mission and a plan.  But looking back at his near two year tenure, one has to wonder, did he achieve his plan?  We will leave that for the reader to decide while we detail some of the more interesting aspects of O’Brien’s service to the people of New Hampshire.

In order to provide an orderly and logical progression of events, we’ll start with the most recent and then move back in time.  First off, the brouhaha he created at the state house this past Friday.  On that day O’Brien had planned a press conference to snag a great photo-op and possibly some national attention with a potentially huge issue; the problems with the federal welfare program’s EBT card, detailed here.  But O’Brien misfired by creating a distracting side-show event by excluding the Concord Monitor press crew from the press conference.

The Monitor press crew never gained entrance, but did due their duty with other reporters and writers, returned fire to O’Brien in spades.  Apparently O’Brien had been seething since the cartoon’s publication in May, prompted by the transgression on the house floor, detailed here., but failed to understand, sometimes its best to let bygones be bygones.

The story made the rounds all over the internet. But as reported in Raw Story, not all in the House found House Rep. Steve Vallaincourt’s [(R) Manchester] actions off the mark, Rep. Dick Drisko told the Nashua Telegraph, “Vaillancourt was definitely out of line when he walked out and said, ‘Sieg Heil’ but it was good commentary on the dictatorial style of Bill O’Brien.” This of course prompted the cartoon by Mike Marland.

The out-cry over the cartoon reached such fever pitch from the Tea Party side of the state that the Concord Monitor editorial board had no choice but to explain how newspapers work; that unlike O’Brien, they don’t run an authoritarian establishment.  In fact they  allow their writers freedom of their own speech.  The editorial board even went so far as to put on the hair-shirt in deference to O’Brien’s tender sensibilities and express due shame about their unruly writers.

Apparently that capitulation didn’t cure the offense to O’Brien’s position and stature.  So he couldn’t resist the chance to show the Monitor who’s boss around those parts. Shortly after the no entrada incident House staffer Shannon Bettencourt (the one closing the door on the Monitor crew) issued a churlish statement to the press wherein she chides, “When the Concord Monitor proves they have chosen to become a responsible media outlet, we’ll be happy to invite them to future media events.”

So much for the EBT story.  O’Brien misplayed again, losing an opportunity literally handed to him to get front and center on a favorite GOP campaign tactic — using welfare to pit the proletariat against each other in jealous fuming over pennies while the GOP rapes the government for millions.  Oh well, the GOP will now have to wait for another opportunity. Even the Union Leader’s gallant efforts to give the story CPR with a lead-off on the Sunday front page failed to catch a spark.  Like the old adage goes, in the world of journalism, old news is no news. It was reported, it was eclipsed, it was killed.

Now let’s go back in time a little more, where we get to D. J. Bettoncourt, former House Majority leader, a Republican from Salem and O’Brien’s young protege and law school student attending UNH.  Just before Bettoncourt’s graduation from law school, O’Brien learned of some serious problems with Bettencourt’s inner ethical compass.

As detailed in links provided here, O’Brien had plenty of opportunity to wipe his hands clean of this mess quickly and with the dignity his position requires.  He had known about the issue before it hit the public and could of dealt with it then.  But instead in a decision only he really understands, decided to allow Bettencourt to not reveal his wrongdoing, remain in the house and resign with no mention of the real cause as shown in this first announcement detailed here on May 25th.

Represenative Guida (R), owner of the firm that Bettencourt had lied about interning for, outraged that Bettencourt failed to disclose the whole reason for his resignation, did the right thing and disclosed the entire story to the press.  Suddenly speculation mounted everywhere about what O’Brien might have known about the shady ethical and moral judgment of his personal under-study.

Once the issue went public, O’Brien clumsily and evasively said he was “shocked” at the whole story, denied knowing anything more and pressed to sweep it over with talk about the house agenda.  Sadly it seems O’Brien either isn’t bothered by dishonesty or struggles to understand the association of the scandal with his failure in judgment.  O’Brien’s failure to act quickly to put out this fire caused plenty of wonder about O’Brien’s character.  Did he fail to exercise due diligence by simply relying on Bettencourt’s version of events or did he already know the full story, but chose arrogantly instead to continue the charade to the public?

As noted by Steve Vallaincourt in NH Insider, “Bettencourt’s swift public disgrace is all the  more astonishing when you consider that this young leader had spent much of his brief tenure schooling others on matters of legal rectitude, civility and purportedly high-minded ethics. (Earlier this month, Bettencourt questioned attorney Jim Bassett’s qualifications for the state Supreme Court.”[emphasis ours]  Did O’Brien fail to see the seriousness of this matter that seemed so obvious to everyone else?

But it doesn’t end there. When Bettencourt announced his resignation, he also announced he would take a position as spokesperson for O’Brien’s  newly formed NH Legal Rights Foundation.   Many in the press and the public noted it rather odd that such an ethically challenged individual would be welcome in an organization that claimed to deal in matters of law.  A few days later, the NHLRF made the decision to rid themselves of Bettencourt.  Again one wonders why O’Brien allowed Bettencourt to continue this public deception of character and even potentially tarnish another organization in the process.

While NHLRF did in fact push Bettencourt out, again it wasn’t until the public got wind of the whole story.  Its interesting to note that O’Brien has no problem bullying and moving around his opponents with little forethought or explanation, but seems to have a hard time moving the chess pieces on his personal game board.

If we look just a little further back we find another mini-scandal again.   In early May O’Brien suffered his first ethical embarrassment with his Chief of Staff, Robert Mead resigning after the discovery of his falsely claiming mileage reimbursements for restricted political campaign work.  As pointed out in the Union Leader article here, Mead made roughly $65,000 in his position, certainly Mead couldn’t have claimed economic desperation for feeling justified at stealing $456 from his employer.  Apparently in the mind of Bill and his friends, its ok for his friends to steal from government, but when it comes to funding government, that’s stealing from them [note the intro music playing the Kinks, “He’s a well respected man about town, doing the best things so conservatively.”  apparently the Kink’s sarcasm was lost on them?]

While these sites here , here and here put forward a good list of O’Brien’s history, here are some highlights:

– turning away citizens who attempt to enter the house gallery during public session,

– nationally embarrassing incident in which birthers demonstrate their inability to distinguish a legislative session from a bar room and O’Brien backs them up

– demonstrating his partisan motivations for the voter ID law which became another national embarrassment for New Hampshire

– an incident wherein House Rep Emerson (R) Rindge, claimed that she was bullied by Bettencourt and O’Brien over some amendments she’d put to the house budget.  O’Brien strongly denied the incident, but another Rep came forward and said he’d heard most of the “one sided” shouting match.  This again became national news as Emerson soon after sponsored a bill to eliminate bullying among house members.

– the ill-advised and tobacco industry pressured removal of the tobacco tax which caused a serious budget shortfall this year, proving despite the Tea Party and Free Stater beliefs, taxes have a purpose.  Especially telling is how this action undercuts the favorite theory of the Tea Party/Free Staters that commerce will naturally come running to make up funding short-falls.

The industry pressured the legislature to drop the ten cent tax with the enticement that it would increase sales and over the border travel to the state.  Then cynically, once the state dropped the ten cent tax,  the cigarette companies raised their prices by ten cents. This effectively transferred that ten cents from the state and tax-payer to the pockets of big business, making them millions at the expense of the state.   O’Brien proved himself a dupe for loopy policy ideas that most policy-makers, even if they spout the rhetoric for their cheer-leaders, know better than to actually implement them.

– serving as such an obedient slave to the extreme right, O’Brien put up the Right to Work (for less rightly says the AFL-CIO) bill up and when it was shot down, resurrected that poor dead horse again and again to the point where legislators were begging O’Brien to just let the thing go and die already.

– the embattled $456 dollar transportation forger Chief of Staff Mead wasn’t completely banished; O’Brien gives him a new job working for the NH House GOP office, making one wonder if falsifying records really isn’t a big thing at all to O’Brien or the GOP.

– O’Brien works to pull back the state requirement that insurance companies cover birth control on women’s plans

– a habit of perfunctorily removing people from posts or committees who don’t tow his far-right agenda

– orders all house reps to follow the same email communication standards as hired employees, threatens removal of those who don’t obey.  Many see the move as violating the constitutional right to free speech of elected officials, who work for their constituents, not O’Brien.

– O’Brien, with apparent little ability to judge a thinking public, tried to pass himself as some kind of economic wizard by building a thin thread of association between his pushing through extremist budget policies and the low unemployment rate in New Hampshire.  Nope! That was shot down prettily easily and his claims faded into the ether.

oversaw redistricting which was challenged in court by two major communities, Manchester and Concord, representing their concerns about losing funding and also that of smaller communities that will lose representation.   While the court challenge was lost and the redistricting stays, Democrats already vow they will be redrawn in the future, at more expense to the state.

In looking at his history, O’Brien no longer looks so much like the charging bear he portends with his huff and bluff but more like a fumbling, bumbling political hack in way over his head.

Tagged , , , , ,

Interview with an activist and organizer of Hands Across New Hampshire

The Opposition to the building of Northern Pass, the 180 mile Transmission Line to be built to carry energy from Project Hydro-Quebec the length of NH is growing to include many environmental groups. The Society For The Protection Of NH Forests is one group. (see the summer newsletter) In this interview with host, Deb Reger, guest Michelle Cunha talks candidly about the process the corporations are quilty of. NH legislature is awaiting a study on burying the lines instead of towers.

Listen to the podcast

Tagged , , , , , ,

Dismissed!

Originally published on Occupy New Hampshire’s website.

Back in May I wrote about my experiences after being arrested at the #noNATO rally in Chicago on May 20th. Yesterday was my court date. My case was dismissed.

In the weeks leading up to the hearing, I spent the time gathering pictures of my wrist, getting the injury treated at the Concord Community Acupuncture, finding myself a place to stay, booking plane tickets, contacting the lawyer, and attending a fundraiser by OccupyNH to help pay for the NLG lawyer. To say I was busy is an understatement.

As much as I was working on gathering what I needed to be prepared, I was trying hard not to think about the actual hearing. I knew if I allowed myself to think on it too much I’d start getting really apprehensive so I focused on the details and some other work I have as a way to ease the apprehension.

I was so grateful to OccupyNH for hosting a fundraising dinner for me. The NLG wanted $100 in payment (though they didn’t require it) so I wanted to make sure I gave them some compensation. That ONH was able to come together and gather that amount, plus a bit more for, as Ryan put it, “a burger at Ruby Tuesdays”, moved me almost to tears. I announced at the end of the night that it was in the top 3 of “the best nights of my life, ever.”

Will Hopkins, Executive Director of New Hampshire Peace Action put me in touch with Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She provided me with a warm, dry bed, a shower, and some food. I was so grateful I got to meet someone I’ve been admiring from afar for a really long time.

Kathy is so kind, warm, and generous and really really busy. I could see how hard she works and did my best to stay out of her way while I was there. I also got to meet Brian Terrel and Joshua Brollier. Brian was especially influential on me because he gave me a perspective of Catholicism I had never seen before. Though my paternal side of the family is Catholic and my inlaws are also Catholic, I had never heard of the Catholic Worker. The flavor of Catholicism preferred by those I’m related to by blood and marriage is of wealth at any expense. To meet a male Catholic who was not partriarchal, demeaning, disrespectful of women and their choices, and chose to live a life of poverty in keeping with the tenets of “voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and foresaken.” (source) had a profound affect on me. So much did Brian affect me, when the announcement for Catholic Mass came over the loudspeaker at the airport while I was waiting to go home, I attended Mass.

It was the first time in years I’d been to church. I’m Pagan so going to Mass is something I only do at weddings and funerals and only because I have to. Catholicism, and Christianity do not call to me. While I believe in “God” I believe him to be a minor god in the pantheon and one I only pray to when I need money since he has always been a god of greed to me. That’s my own personal opinion. It is not my wish to start a faith debate here.

The airport chapel was pretty devoid of character, I assume to accommodate every Abrahamic faith. There was me and one white man, about 40ish. Late in the service a young Latina joined us. The priest, an elderly white male of the Passionist sect talked of how a beautiful flower may grow on a garbage heap. I took the metaphor to mean the Occupy movement is the flower on the garbage heap of environmental and economic devastation imposed on us and Mother Earth by the Industrial Revolution which has continued to this day leaving nothing but destruction and the wealth of a few in its wake.

Father MacDonald also spoke of bringing together those who don’t always agree. He spoke of Matthew and how, as a tax collector, he wasn’t well liked by the Jews. Jesus brought Matthew to an event and everyone was pretty pissed at Jesus for doing so. But Jesus just wanted to show the tax collector was human (I’m totally paraphrasing here). I took the sermon to mean the Occupiers, police, and city leaders (any city or town) can come together to solve problems even if we don’t like and trust one another.

But I digress.

I left from Manchester-Boston Airport on July 4th. My flight left at 6a so I got to the airport around 4a which meant I got up around 2a. As horrid as this sounds, I hadn’t been sleeping through the night for the last couple weeks. Each time I went to bed I’d be up by 3a at the latest. This is totally out of my norm. But the hearing and my other work has really been weighing on my mind so sleep just wasn’t staying.

I got to the airport and immediately after checking in, the TSA bullied me. I had to dump out a bottle of water and throw away two oranges, and I wasn’t allowed to eat what I brought with me. The TSA agent followed me to the bathroom, pretending to wash her hands. When she asked what was wrong I said “we’re in the middle of a drought and you’re asking me to dump out water.” She then said she didn’t make the rules she just enforced them. Then she called me by my first name. I responded with “how presumptuous of you to call me by my first name. You can call me Mrs. Hill.” Then I told her the Nazi’s were just following orders and that she was acting like a predatory bully. I’m sure I’m on the TSA watch list now.

Getting to Chicago wasn’t an issue once I got past the police state. My time in Chicago was spent just trying to stay cool. The temps were in the high 90s the whole time I was there. Brian and I walked to the lake for a small BBQ Joshua was having. The lake is so very beautiful but the trash that littered the beach and park, and in the water at times, was really disconcerting. It was July 4th yet I only saw four trash barrels that were totally overflowing. And while I believe in the “leave no trace” philosophy of outdoor events, I do believe the City of Chicago should’ve provided more trash and recycle barrels for residents to use. Also, I noticed there were only two bathrooms with long lines. Being a very hot July 4th, it would seem someone in City Hall would’ve thought to add porta potties to the park as a way to accommodate the thousands of people that were there. The trash barrels and porta potties may have been lacking but the police were highly visible. About every five minutes a large CPD SUV drove the strip. As a tourist, the litter, lack of bathrooms, and high police visibility didn’t make me feel safe or welcome and certainly didn’t inspire me to return.

Thursday I spent at the house trying to stay out of everyone’s way. Kathy and Brian had a lot of work to do so I didn’t want to be a bother. I read quietly and engaged them when they would come out of the office for a break. I tided up the kitchen a couple times. As the day wore on, it got mildly cooler due to some brief showers. I decided to take a walk around 4p. As I was walking I found a used bookstore and picked up two classics I never read: On the Road and The Idiot; I also got Brave New World, something I haven’t read since high school. Then I got myself something to eat and went back to the house.

I had finally connected with the lawyer on Thursday. Jeff Frank who works for, or with, the NLG called me before I went for the walk. We talked about my case. He felt the City would be offering me community service though he did prepare me for a mini-trial if it came down to that. Mr. Frank said we wouldn’t know who the arresting officer was until he saw the paperwork which is something he wouldn’t see until we arrived at the courthouse in the morning. I told him my story about how I tried to move off the street but wasn’t able to, how a male officer took me by the right hand and put me in a control hold then handed me over to a female officer who was very polite, courteous, and gentle with me. I also asked him what I should do with my backpack. “I doubt the bailiffs are going to let me in with it” I said to him “it’s got all my clothes. As soon as I get out of court I have to head to the airport so I don’t know what to do.” He said he would bring his car and I could put it in the back. We then described ourselves physically so we’d be able to recognize each other come morning.

Morning came and I made my way through the Chicago’s subway system to get to the courthouse on W. Fournoy Street. I got there before the building opened so I milled around outside with about 20 other people. I wore a long black dress, with teal jewelry. I stood out like a sore thumb for a three reasons: 1. I was dressed up. 2. I am white. 3. I had a big yellow backpack with me. My fellow defendants — not occupiers, rather victims of a broken system — where mostly young black or Latino men. They looked at me with confused curiosity for a minute or two then totally ignored me. Their loved ones, closer to my age, also looked at me with confusion and curiosity though no one spoke to me. I was curious about them too. I wanted to engage in conversation but none would make eye contact with me so I didn’t press the issue.

The bailiff, an African-American male about 45ish, came out and made this 5 minute long speech about how to get through security, what to do, where to go once you’re in the building, and about being polite and courteous. He then looked at me and said “ma’am you cannot bring that bag in there.” I responded with “The lawyah said he’d put it in the trunk of his ca’ah but he’s not he-ah yet.” The bailiff then smiled this broad, beautiful smile full of white teeth and said “HELLO BOSTON!” Everyone laughed, myself included, so I responded with “Hello Chicago!” The problem of my bag was solved as soon as Mr. Frank showed up.

Mr. Frank is a very handsome man of 60. He’s well dressed and well groomed. He worked as a corporate lawyer for 20 years which he described as “intensely depressing.” He said he lived with the depression until he made the money he needed so he could do the work he wanted, that is to work for the NLG. He said the cop who is on the paperwork as being my arresting officer always shows up to court, that she is really dedicated. I was surprised the woman was my arresting officer. I’ll remind you she was the one who treated me with dignity and respect and who said to the Paddy Wagon officers “you don’t need to worry about her, she’s been cooperative the whole time.” I said to Mr. Frank “she’s not the one who assaulted me. That was a man.” He then went into some legalese about how that actually works to our advantage.

My name was called and I went up. The City prosecutor said “Can I have a few minutes Judge? The officer isn’t here yet.” Mr. Frank got all excited. I sat back down as the judge gave the minutes requested. Then, about 15 minutes later, I was called back up. The prosecutor said “The officer was here on June 6th.” The judge then asked “what was she told to do?” The prosecutor then said “She was told to come back on July 6th. I have one piece of paper that says June 6th.” The judge then said “the bail slip clearly states July 6th. The officer was informed to come back. She’s not here. Dismissed!” I was jubilant.

Despite being jubilant, I was a little disappointed. Part of me wanted to go to trial so I could employ the advice from Kathy: “speak a little louder than you normally do, be sassy, and remind the court you have a right to free speech and the right to assembly both of which you were doing in an orderly fashion.” I live by the theory that everyone is entitled to my opinion and I was willing to give everyone in that courtroom my opinion loudly and sassisly. Alas, that was not my fate.

I have the opportunity to have my arrest expunged now that the case has been dismissed but I don’t think I will. This is my first arrest and something I’m proud off. I’m thinking of making a badge for my old Girl Scout sash, one with #noNATO on it and some handcuffs.

The day just didn’t end there though. My good fortune continued as Mr. Frank chose to drive me to the airport so I didn’t have to take the subway (though I love taking the subway). It gave us a chance to talk and get to know each other a bit. I invited him to NH. He gave me a hug as I was leaving and thanked me for being an occupier and for agitating for change.

At Midway Airport, I got myself an earlier flight home. The wicked nice security guard at the airport received my CTA pass because it still had money on it and I didn’t want to waste it. I sailed though the TSA this time, who didn’t make me pour out the water in my water bottle and let me keep an orange I had in my bag.

I got on the plane, got home, and had an impromptu celebration at Margarita’s in Manchester. A bunch of my fellow ONHers came when I called and texted and we hung out for a while. It was another fantastic day and night.

I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me: my husband, mother, brother, the NLG, Jeff Frank, Kathy Kelly, Brian Terrell, Joshua Broiller, Will Hopkins, and, of course, OccupyNH. To all those I don’t know who tweeted and Facebooked* support to me let me say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I could not, nor would not, have done this without you. Your support is valuable and I really, really appreciate it.

xo,

Michelle

*When did “facebook” become a verb?

__

Here is a copy of the note I wrote to my arresting officer.

Dear Officer ____,

The tension was heavy in the air, our emotions all ran high on May 20, 2012 at the #noNATO rally in Chicago. Protesters tried to remain calm, officers tried to control their fear. It was that day you arrested me.

It was the first time I’ve been arrested despite being on the front lines of progressive activism for 25 years. I was very nervous to say the least. Over the years I’d heard and read in the paper stories of how badly protesters are treated by police and feared I would be treated the same. And I was. A male officer put me in a control hold bending my right wrist to control me through pain despite my compliance with him. He handed me over to you. You leaned in and quietly asked me “why didn’t you disperse when you were told to”? I wanted to respond but I know anything I say can and will be used against me so I remained silent. What I wanted to say was “I was trying but there was no where for me to go. I was kettled by the police.”

While I was in your custody you treated me with dignity and respect. You were gentle and kind to me. And I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You restored some of the faith I’ve lost in the police with your warmth.

I was hoping to thank you in person at my hearing on July 6th – I came back from NH despite the financial quagmire I am in due to chronic unemployment and overbearing student loans – but you were not there. I wanted to hug you for your kindness. Since I cannot do that, I write this note to you in thanks.

We are the 99% (even police!),

Peace, Love, and Happiness,

Michelle

Tagged , , , ,

Yes, Direct Action Works

Detailed here, and all over Facebook, on some local radio shows and throughout the country, a student of Texas A & M learned that the lunatic group Westboro Baptist Church planned to heckle a funeral of a fallen soldier nearby.

As the story on Huffington Post details, the student decided to take action and using Facebook and Twitter, managed to coral as many as 600 students and alumni of the university to form a human wall against the Westboro harassers.

Apparently feeling outgunned by the opposition, the Westboro loons never showed up.

The power of the show of solidarity underscores the power of the American people to come together for a cause they feel passionate about.  With all that’s happening around the country, the calls for actions, the hopeful flurry of protests and events, many nod their heads in hopeless despair, feeling that the people will never have the ability to arise against their oppressor.

But as evidenced by this display of force, the people can indeed come together and when they do, people take notice, most especially the opposition.  This underscores also the fact that lies, propaganda and misinformation by the corporate machinery of this country persist only because we allow it to.  Like the Westboro fringe group, once people come together in a silent, strong show of force, the propagandists wither away like the wicked witch, crushed by the power of truth.

The capacity of people in this country to act against wrong can and should never be underestimated.  Direct action, whether banging a drum and chanting or just standing in silent solidarity does work; it does send a message and it can make change.

Tagged , , , , , ,

FOURTH of JULY – A Poem

Submitted July 4th, thanks Mark.

FOURTH of JULY

I see from my balcony
the expanse Of a fifteen story view
To the west and north fireworks
Greens, reds, blues, white pops and flashes
Everywhere, everywhere.
As far as the eye, gunpowder
and the haze of summer clouds
Long cleared of rain now
Will let me see
We are clowns
painting The landscape
With fire in the skies
If they would come to understand
That we are no longer free
Small minds require big attractions
Fireworks are but temporary distractions
From the stark reality that
Every man who is in debt is owned
That We are a country of debtors
Living in a debtor nation
that We are owned
By our employers
By our government
By our banks
So why is this a celebration
And not a revolution.
Ignorance is truly bliss
Pop, bang, fizz, whirl
Pop, bang, fizz, bang
The celebration fades
Crying babies sleep now
Their parents drive home
Off to work again in the morning
And so this postman’s holiday
Ends

Mike Murburg
7/4/12

Tagged , , ,

Gimme All Your Money

I never knew that there actually existed a department at Boston College devoted to sucking up to wealthy people, but apparently there is.

Now, not that Boston College or any other institution that either completely or partially relies on donor should hide their efforts to direct said funds their way.

Just seems the shamelessness of Boston College’s admittance, in public that they grovel for funding slides a little into gauche territory.  I naively assumed that institutions had people behind the lines, out of sight that did this work, whispering in hushed tones over expensive restaurant tables or cooing to their targets over office telephones.

Little did I know that there exists so many wealthy people to court that Boston College can devote a full department to this endeavor.  Such department I’d assume has at least one other paid staff member besides the kindly Robert Kenny who is a “specialist in developmental psychology and moral reasoning”.  A specialist in other words of getting rich people to hand over the cash whether through guilt or possibly psycho-analysis, if you’ve got a buck (or more likely, a few cool millions), Bob’s gonna get it out of you and make you hand it over to him with a smile and a thank you.

Do there really exist so many people having a “25 million or over” club at every university?  Aside from the myriad moral implications of running an institution that supposedly teaches critical thinking and analysis on the whims of a few donors, at what price does this invited philanthropy bring?

On the page describing the department, the BC writer tells us, “Bob has served as the field director for the ‘Joys and Dilemmas of Wealth’ research project which has as its major goal the generation of information and knowledge about the aspirations, dilemmas and personal philosophy of members of households with a net worth of $25 million or more.”

He wrote a whole fluffy book on how rich people can stop feeling bad about being rich by giving the college money.  Most outrageously, Boston College called it “research”.

Why can’t Boston College fund someone to write a book about the joys of supporting your government by paying taxes? Now there’s a worthwhile research topic; find out why Americans are habitually willing to cut off their noses to spite their face when it comes to public funding?  How about a little truth telling to the general public that paying taxes will benefit them by funding infrastructure development, cleaner air and water, a just and speedy court system, better schools, safer roads and even a return to the objective and untainted resource of research funding for major universities?

Don’t hold your breath.  Universities and other institutions prefer the paternalism, specialization and most importantly, the lack of accountability to the public that the private donor stream provides.  No longer do institutions have to worry about the “nanny state” getting all regulatory about equality or even quality in education, research or any other matters relating to their operations.  If funds come from a private donor who says they want to fund research to build the better bubblegum and the funds will employ a few people and fund a few nice paychecks, why not?  So what if its not funding crucially needed research such as renewable energy alternatives, climate change, social behavior and public policy theory and other areas that probably won’t pave the way for anyone group or individual to get rich and won’t attract the imagination of our fickle and jaded public.

So go ahead Robert Kenny, suck up as you must.  This is the new wave of the free market infiltration into every aspect of American culture and life.  Everything is for sale to the highest bidder, no ethical, social or moral considerations need exist to clog up the funding stream.  This is the trickle down that Ronald Reagan and its adherents trumpeted to an  eager public in the 80’s.  This is the trick they believed in with all their hearts; government is bad and millionaires know best.  Give the keys to the kingdom back to the gatekeepers and keep government out of the lives of business and their money.

Don’t count on Robert Kenny or any department in his school to delve into whether allowing the wealthy to keep the money the rest of the country earns for them is really good policy or not.  In fact, apparently there’s no need for any citizen to even expect one hour’s expenditure into a cursory glance at history to learn that the Gilded Age didn’t turn out so well in the end.

Tagged ,

GOP – Libertarian Jesus

I declare you ineligible you mooching leech.

 

 

When he worked at the Health and Human Services Offices:

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

When he ran for Congress:

“What is this mess?” exclaims Jesus when touring the poor part of town, “this is what you get when you give people hand-outs! What do you people want from me? To turn water into wine, you drunks!”