Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dixieland

I wrote about my old neighbor before. How do you like his door? That flag isn't there anymore and neither is he. That doesn't mean there aren't more like him, with Confederate flags on their cars or hanging like curtains in their bedroom windows. I live in New Jersey, that doesn't seem to matter to these people, they like to let their freak flag fly. It's disgusting but completely acceptable. It's weird to me to live above the Mason-Dixon line and see so many confederate flags.
I am pretty sure they know that flag is a symbol, and it isn't a good one.
When nine people die in a mass murder, with evidence left behind that the person responsible liked to wave the Confederate flag around and the same flag is waving next to the states capitol, you don't need any more evidence to know the stubborn worship of that flag and what it stands for is ignorant and insensitive. I don't care if Uncle Jeb was a damn general in the Confederate army. He fought on the wrong side, get over it.
That's the problem right there. The war is still going on in their minds. If you look at the amount of police shootings of unarmed African-American people, it sure looks like they might be onto something.
The "just a good ole' boy" mantra, sung by Waylon Jennings, describes the experience southern white law breakers have, never mind any mention of the problems black people everywhere in the U.S. have just trying to survive an encounter with the police.
 The Confederate flag is in peoples living rooms and in movie theaters. It's like Dixieland is La La Land, completely devoid of the reality that; "It is no accident that Confederate symbols have been the mainstay of white supremacist organizations, from the Ku Klux Klan to the skinheads. They did not appropriate the Confederate battle flag simply because it was pretty."
and "The Confederate flag, we are told, represents heritage, not hate. But why should we celebrate a heritage grounded in hate, a heritage whose self-avowed reason for existence was the exploitation and debasement of a sizeable segment of its population?*
You can't separate the flag from the hate, however, everyone seems to turn a blind eye to the real meaning of that flag and the gun problem we have in this bipolar country. Everything is spin. Like Rick Perry's accidental accident comment.
I doubt anything will happen when it comes to Confederate flags or guns. There's just too many of them and too few people with the will or just plain common sense to change. So we are stuck with the reality that more people will die in schools and now churches or at the hands of  out of control police. America, home of the fearful and the free to fire away.
*Flags of the Confederate States of America - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sunday, June 7, 2015

This Ain't America

This again? Pic from Daily Show
There's a lot of empty houses I see on my drive to and from work. I see them in my neighborhood too, when I go for my work out run. There are 5 on just one street. It doesn't look like a recovery to me. It's not unusual to see these lonely houses with no people in them, it's just taken for granted it's a foreclosure. I remember first noticing them probably around 2007, I said to my friend "somethings not right, this is like The Great Depression, when was the last time you saw empty houses"?
Fast forward to 2015, look what we've got, another Bush for President or another Clinton?  It should be comedy, but I think they are serious. They are the American dream, corrupt and well connected, they brought us war and The Great Recession, since Clinton unraveled Glass-Steagle. People are supposed to just keep voting for the same tired retrocycled versions of political whores who don't give a damn about the empty houses or the crap jobs that pay minimum wage, if you can get one.
What I'm getting at is things weren't always this way. It seems we lack any sort of problem solving skills and no one seems to want to call a spade a spade, because it doesn't have to be this way. Empty house ghettos don't have to exist, neither does a random minimum wage, that used to be reserved for high school fast food workers, now forced on adults raising families, supplemented with food stamps. I see a lot of resentment and anger in my co-workers, most of whom live with family members because they can't afford to live on their own. The friends I have that live in McMansions are struggling too, it looks like they are better off, but their debt load says different, the pressure cooker of this broken economy is being felt by so many, opportunities continue to dry up, the free market is open to some, but not all, it's free to the connected and  the nepotistic.
America doesn't look like America anymore. I often wonder what country I am living in? I think the American dream has been outsourced and we've been left to bootstrap it on up, but to where?
Meanwhile, militarized police shoot unarmed fleeing people and no one bothers to hold anyone responsible or keep any statistics that may show that cops are out of control and are killing innocent people so it gets to the point where the last thing you do if trouble arrives at your doorstep is call the cops, because when they show up you now have two problems.
Probably no one I know will be looking at the G7 summit. We'll be ginning up another cold war over "Russian aggression" ignoring our obsession with the Middle East and the trillions we've spent on our own aggression. Obama is going to trot out the truly awful TTP deal, that won't do squat for the average struggling American, but will be awesome for multinational corporations, of course.
Here at home congress finally did something, of course it had everything to do with them and their cash cow, NSA, the spying will continue with the Freedom Act.
Americans are the only people in the developed world without a single payer heathcare system. We have a war on drugs that costs billions, while other developed countries have no such thing. Addicts are treated with compassion, not as income streams for corporate incarceration. Most people know something is wrong, but they don't have time to do the research it takes to figure out that you've been had and the country you used to know has been stolen by banks and corporations who own the government. I guess we're all supposed to get used to this slide into oblivion, where you and now your kids, all struggle, because the controls on the citizenry will clamp down on rebellion, unless you have the means to leave and live somewhere else, trouble is, I doubt anyone wants us.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Let It Die

On December 4, 1981, authorized by Saint Ronnie Reagan;
Executive Order 12333,  "regarded by the American intelligence community as a fundamental document authorizing the expansion of data collection activities."
Whatever happens tonight, and I do hope that Section 215, goes quietly into the dark night, there is still an apparatus in place. The Obama administration is urging passage of the USA "Freedom" Act, after The "Patriot" Act, I am sure the USA "Freedom" Act is going to keep us free, right.
It doesn't matter what they call it, or what they say they will do, there is money to be made and that will not be so easy to give up. Let's take a look at this, Utah Data Center - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 Originally it was supposed to be called,  "the Massive Data Repository but was renamed to Mission Data Repository due to the former sounding too "creepy". What do you suppose they will do with that?
                                           Now, what do you think will become of this facility?
Mission data accomplished?
There is no way this Utah NSA employment program will just go away. Think about it. The junior Senator from Utah, Mike Lee pleads for the USA Freedom Act to be passed, Pass the USA Freedom Act - The Washington Post
Really?
Meanwhile, in no American media have I read about this, More than 10,000 websites 'blackout' Congress in protest of NSA surveillance laws | US news | The Guardian
Rand Paul is threatening another filibuster, I hope he does it. I hope I can get up tomorrow and read that at least this miserable chapter in American history is over. But there is still a facility in Utah, that Senator Mike Lee has to justify. Executive Order 12333, which has never gone away will probably keep him and  his Mission Data Repository alive.
 Let the NSA’s mass surveillance program die.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Owned By The NSA

Mitch McConnell had an epic fail at 1 am. It was pretty much like I thought it would go. Our government is paralyzed, they failed to do anything about Section 215 of  The Patriot Act. This will not stop McConnell from trying again next week on May 31st at 1 a.m. because his dirty work has to be done while everyone is sleeping. This isn't just about collecting everyone's phone records illegally, this is about money. It's always about money. The Blackstone Group, Sen. Mitch McConnell: Campaign Finance/Money - Summary - Senator 2014 | OpenSecrets  Booz Allen, (former employer of Edward Snowden) there are very high stakes in this game of spying, that is the main reason that McConnell doesn't want this cash cow to die. Millions, if not billions of reasons. It's a cash cow when over 70% of the NSA's budget goes to contractors. Who then donate to the various committees
The names no one even utters when it comes to this so-called "Patriot Act" are Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. The notion that this oppressive violation of Americans rights that was instigated by these liars and war criminals even needs to be debated or otherwise extended is ludicrous. It needs to stop and it looks like it will despite Mitch McConnell's insistence that there is a "consensus" in favor of the extension. Our government thinks it's ok to break the law and hoover up our phone records, but when it's their turn to hand over information, suddenly there's just crickets, In the Same Week, the U.S. and U.K. Hide Their War Crimes by Invoking "National Security" - The Intercept
We all can be spied on in the name of the War On Terror, no place to hide for us, but the government isn't about to share their private information with it's people. You can't have it both ways.
Kudo's to Rand Paul for a 101/2 hr. theatrical filibuster. Rand Paul calls it a night after 10 1/2 hours - Seung Min Kim and Alex Byers - POLITICO
I still wouldn't vote for him. I won't vote for anyone anymore.
The tracking and control of the American people has to stop, but my fear is now that the apparatus is already there it will just go deeper and darker.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
This NSA program has to end and hopefully it will die on May 31st, when like so much legislation, it just languishes with no action taken. A victim of my own country's inertia, maybe on June 1st I'll be thankful those clowns in Washington can't get anything done.
Have you ever gone to the NSA's website? it's creepy as all hell. Check out that Barbie girl on the lower right advertising for career opportunities, that's not the worst of it, check out the CryptoKids® America's Future Codemakers & Codebreakers Um ok, look at where the NSA is actually telling kids to protect themselves online, when we all actually need protection from them! WTF? June 1st can't get here fast enough.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Section 215

Something happened this week that I thought could be a very big deal. On May 7th, The Second Circuit Court of  Appeals decided the National Security Administration 's warrantless collection of  Americans phone records is illegal.
What can we expect will happen on the basis of this ruling? Mitch McConnell says he wants to "reauthorize the exisiting law without change."
Why? why would an illegal law just be rubber stamped by the Senate and Congress? Exactly how much incriminating evidence has the NSA collected on every member of congress or other branches of government? The NSA knows which members of congress are drunks, pedophiles, drug users or gay. It's worse than Hoover and the FBI in the good old days.
"the court left the door open for Congress to act before Section 215 expires at the end of this month."
Congress act? Seriously? What's up with the court saying this is illegal then just leaving it up to congress to decide what? If it's illegal, there should be nothing to decide. There's either a rule of law or there isn't. 
Can we even hope that our bought and paid for representatives stop the spying on our own citizens?
We don't just leave it at our own citizens. We spy on whomever we want, Angela Merkel, Putin? Probably.
So there's that, then you have to consider how this mass surveillance can be used to stop mass protest, the people who own our government aren't going to want their party to stop and we know this from the data collected in Baltimore. Inside the Military-Police Center That Spies on Baltimore's Rioters
Is it illegal to be collecting all this data? Will congress do anything about it?  Will they just do what's easiest and just do nothing and let it expire? That probably won't stop the spying.


 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Brick

Third World Baltimore
 I spent my childhood in Maryland. My dad worked for the government in D.C. and I remember the riots in 1968, I saw that wreckage, it looked like a bomb went off. I saw it but, I didn't understand it. What I really don't understand, is that since 1968 things have only turned out worse.
My grandfather lived in Baltimore, so, I can at least say I have been there, visiting my grandfather.
My memories of Maryland are of a place and time when you could ride a horse down a lane at night and never pass a car. It was so quiet all you could hear was the clop clop of hooves on the road until you got to a field, then take off cantering down a dirt road to the remains of a plantation I lived close to. There was a fork in the path where you veer off to the left, I had been that way before a few times. I had discovered something there that astonished me. First were the ramshackle run down shacks, (you couldn't call them houses) then further out in a field were wooden crosses in varying states of decay. What I had come across was where the slaves from the plantation must have lived and died. I don't know how those people survived the conditions. It was obvious that some didn't. Looking at the sorry excuse for housing they existed in (you couldn't call it living) I couldn't see how they could make it through even the mildest Maryland winter.
When I read about the conditions in Baltimore, I wasn't surprised. It reminded me of what I saw, years ago in the Maryland countryside, it looked like a sort of slum for slaves. What I witnessed there, almost exactly 100 years after the Civil War had passed, were conditions that no human being should have been subjected to.
What I see now is that things seem even more unequal than they were in 1968.
In the times before and probably after the Civil War, when posses of men would saddle up to either kill or wreak havoc on some desperate slave just trying to run from his horrible circumstances, I now view these cops as much the same, rounding up random people, probably black people and just throwing them in vans willy-nilly for the "rough ride."
I don't think anyone really makes the connection. That this apartheid is nothing new. That we have played this out before. After Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and any of the unarmed black people shot every 28 hours by the police. Really what is the difference between the lynchings that were regularly carried out, while police turned a blind eye? Now they just do it directly instead, they use guns instead of rope. It all looks nice and legal, except it isn't. It's not justice and it's not justified. It's sickening and I am afraid it is going to continue. I don't know if we are headed for another Civil War. If we don't look really hard at the context of what the people in Baltimore and Ferguson all the other cities and towns are enduring, where in the guise of policing, the war on drugs, the war on the poor, whatever euphemism you want to call it, it's murder and it can't go on. When you push people too far and they have no where to go they push back.
There have been many times when I went back in time to that place in Maryland, where I saw first hand what injustice and mans inhumanity subjected human beings to for profit, for free labor, for greed. I saw those graves decorated with the relics of wooden crosses, since those enslaved people didn't have the means to buy granite for a gravestone. I wondered how hard their lives were? I never forgot what I saw, but most people conveniently forget. Most people have no context of what it's like to really struggle, on top of all of that you have to watch your back, because the people who are supposed to protect and serve, serve themselves and suppress. We continue to be surprised when people pick up a brick or torch the neighborhood they live in because everything is so broken there the real estate is worthless anyway, especially after the banks subprimed it to the hilt, foreclosed and decimated the place with abandoned homes.
I didn't understand what I saw in Washington D.C. in 1968. It took years for me to process the trauma that those poor people went through, forced to live in draft ridden shacks, while high upon that hill in Maryland their owners lived in luxury. Maybe it's because I am an artist, when I see something I can commit it to memory and take it out again and again to examine. What I see now is that very little has changed. The 1% live in their ivory towers while the 99 are hunted on a daily basis and killed with impunity. Our government has done nothing, for a very long time about inequality. It is purposeful, it's no accident. I highly doubt any legislation will come out of this sorry episode in American history. The irony is that now it's our supposed representatives that are owned, by lobbies, corporations and corruption. People know that the system isn't working for them, It's broken, it's no longer a democracy, when that happens and society continues to degrade, don't be shocked when the oppressed feel like they have so few choices available to them that the brick is their solution.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Parties Are Over

One of the most difficult concepts I try to get across to people who are still heavily invested in voting, is to stop fueling the political machine. Here we are in April of 2015 and everyone's declaring they are running for office. Hillary and Jeb and Chris Christie. Isn't it great? Look at all the choices we have.... actually we don't. They are all the same.                                     
                                                     
If you ever had a hope that we still had a choice and that our political process isn't broken, well George Bush and his criminal administration hijacked that in 2000. Don't you ever wonder why Gore just gave up? Probably not.
 Then we had hope and change Obama. Sigh... even John Stewart from the Daily Show called that "heartbreaking" It’s generally heartbreaking – that’s what the gig is.” If that's what the 'gig" is, we need a new "gig"
Almost every person I know, doesn't vote. Most of them never have. I can't blame them. I did talk to a woman on Friday, who clearly was invested in Hillary Clinton and can't wait to vote for her, she got all irate with me, because I had the nerve to call Hillary; "Nixon in a pantsuit." She was probably 70 years old. When I talk to others who don't vote or just don't care about politics they laugh at that Hillary joke.
 I don't know anyone who's life has turned around for the better, as a result of voting. For me, the economy is unchanged.The housing market still sucks. Everyone I know is still struggling. 
Billions of dollars will be spent on this election, all I read about is Chris Christie saying Social Security is broke and he can fix it by making everyone work till their 69 years old. After Destroying His State's Retirement System, Christie Sets His Sights On Social Security | ThinkProgress
Yeah, Christie has worked wonders here in New Jersey,  Another downgrade for NJ's credit rating
Rand Paul (#CantStandRand) is worried about "radical Islam"most people are more worried they'll be shot in the back by a domestic policeman than terrorism. Jeb Bush is supposed to be "the smart one" maybe he is since he's being advised by Karl Rove and his cronies. He has all the defense contractors behind him and the Saudi's, he's ready to go to war with Iran the way his daddy and brother made war with Iraq.
When all you have to choose from are people that have not done one thing to improve Americans lives while they've been in office and you're expected to believe that their behavior will magically change once they become president, that's delusional. It's a fantasy, if you want fantasy, go to Disneyworld. I am not voting for these fakes anymore. I will not support the colossal waste of money this election will bring on. Millions of Americans need help, their quality of life is slowly degrading, none of these politicians are going to do anything about it. The only thing that you can be sure of is that corporate welfare will be the order of the day, but welfare for struggling Americans will continue to be demonized. Our bloated military budget will grow, while we have to privatize Social Security until it's just gone. Nobody cares. Until people decide to throw off this yoke of unjust oppression, we will continue on this journey of a race to the bottom.