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« October 2011 | Main | December 2011 »

Front Page » Monthly Archives » November 2011

By Angelo Lopez on November 30, 2011

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By Angelo Lopez on November 26, 2011

Last Wednesday, our wonderful cat Jasper passed away. Jasper was deeply loved by his owners, and by everyone who knew him. I had never owned a pet before Jasper, and in these past 5 years, I've really grown to love Jasper for his gentleness, his warmth, and his unique personality.

My wife got Jasper thirteen years ago, when her roommate brought Jasper and his sister Jasmine home from work. My wife named Jasper after a mountain range that she saw when she visited Canada as a child. She watched them grow from kittens, and observed their unique personalities develope. Jasper was a very mellow cat, who loved being around people. When a visitor came, he would go right up to the person and start rubbing his head on their legs. Often he would lie on his back, in hopes that a human would rub his belly. Jasper loved being petted, and he most enjoyed it when a person would gently rub under his chin.

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By Bob Hooper on November 21, 2011

There's a lot of stuff goin' around these days. I know because quite a bit comes my way intended to set me straight.

One recent email forwarded from a persistent lady in this neck of the woods (forwarded to her from a guy in that neck of the woods, endlessly forwarded to him by... etc.) provided a quote claimed to be from Norman Thomas.

It went:

"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism,' they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened."

If you're a righty-fighty you probably got it, too, since fellow travelers are usually targeted. And you like it because, yeah, you know, there's black and there's white. There's us'ns and them'ns. Us'ns is good and them'ns is evil. Socialism is them'ns and capitalism is us'ns. Us'ns is goodness incorporated. Socialism is... Well, you can figure it out. Wait. No you can't.

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By Diane Wahto on November 20, 2011

“… We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point… is not in a position to speculate as to the answer….It should be sufficient to note...the wide divergence of thinking on this most sensitive and difficult question. There has always been strong support for the view that life does not begin until live birth….[O]rganized groups that have taken a formal position on the abortion issue have generally regarded abortion as a matter for the conscience of the individual and her family.” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade

Elise Higgins, a young Kansas pro-choice advocate and an organizer of Speak for Choice in Kansas, asked me to speak at the Speak for Choice rally on Sept. 3, 2011. The rally took place at the state capitol in Topeka on the same day that a hearing was being held on the new abortion clinic rules put in place by the Kansas legislature.

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By Peter Herbert on November 16, 2011

That political power can be bought and sold in America is nothing new. Most of our founders were local financial elites who rebelled against the advantages held by the greater financial elites who controlled our mother country: Great Britain. In order for their rebellion to succeed, they needed a great deal of help from non-elite American colonists, most of whom were small farmers, small businessmen, and artisans, with no skin in the game. To get their help, Congress (which was then, as now, mainly representative of only the wealthiest Americans) had to offer ordinary people exciting new political rights. Although it tried hard, Congress couldn’t completely withdraw these offers at the end of the war, and the resulting compromise – thanks especially to George Washington – was the basics of what we now know as the United States of America.

Since then the U.S.A. has always been more or less schizophrenic in its attitudes about distributive justice (who deserves which parts of our financial pie). This can be traced to the majority of the founders, who were the wealthiest colonists. They were sure that they deserved to be much wealthier than their fellow Americans – even if they inherited most of their advantages (as they usually did) – yet they were also sure that they did not deserve to be small fry compared with their counterparts in Great Britain, who also inherited most of their advantages. Their arguments were incoherent. How can a minor noble, or freeman, maintain that his heredity makes him far more deserving than his subjects but also complain because it makes him inferior to his hereditary superiors? The only thing that got America past this logical incoherence was a practical alliance between our wealthy and middle classes. The American wealthy have always had undo political influence, but they have had to maintain a strong middle class in order to defend their practical position. Now, for the first time in our history, this is no longer true. In the new global economy they no longer need American workers, and they rarely need well-informed American votes. Most of the time they can simply purchase the political outcomes they desire. Candidates for office cannot get elected without their help, and through ownership of the media they have near total control of the majority of public opinion. Recognition that this is our current situation is the root cause of the “Occupy” or “99%” movement. The future of our country as a democracy depends on the success of this movement.

By Angelo Lopez on November 13, 2011

Music has always played an important role in the fight for freedom, civil rights and economic justice. During the Revolutionary War, the tune Yankee Doodle was sung by American troops to mock the British and to praise the new Continental Army. During the 1930s Woody Guthrie sang songs about the poor and marginalized, and Billie Holiday sang the song "Strange Fruit" to protest lynching in the South. Folk singers like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary sang at civil rights demonstrations and songs like "We Shall Overcome" were sung by civil rights activists for inspiration and strength. In the 1970s, punk bands like the Clash and ska bands like The Specials sang songs about the alienation and economic misery of a generation under Margaret Thatcher's England. In the early 1990s, rappers like Public Enemy wrote rap songs that highlighted the plight of the inner city poor. So it's no surprise that music has played a large part in the protests in Occupy Wall Street.

There are several documentaries that tell of the importance of music in social change. The documentary Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony documents the importance of musicians in keeping the spirit up for anti-apartheid activists in South Africa. Get Up Stand Up is a PBS documentary about the popular music has played in the ongoing struggles for peace and equality. Soundtrack For A Revolution documents the freedom songs that were so inspirational to the civil rights activists of the 1960s. Two years ago The White House hosted a celebration of music from the civil rights movement, a highlight being a performance of "The Times They Are A Changing" by Bob Dylan.

Here are a collection of youtube videos of musicians who have contributed their talents to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

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By Angelo Lopez on November 9, 2011

I did these cartoons a while back as a submissions to a cartoonist website and to the Tri-City Voice, but neither were published. I thought I'd publish it here in Everyday Citizen.

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By Ken Poland on November 8, 2011

Once again, the minority rules!

Recently, Obama’s $60 billion measure for building roads and repairing transportation infrastructures went down in defeat, even though 51% voted for it. The vote was 51 to 49. That prevents the bill making it to the floor, again, for full debate and decision. The ridiculous filibuster rule requires 60% support to cut off endless debate simply to prevent passage of a bill. I don’t fully understand the parliamentary rules, but that rule allows a minority of only 40% of the total to delay and even prevent passage of bills.

Is it partisan politics? Quoting Rep. Senator McConnell, “The truth is, Democrats are more interested in building a campaign message than in rebuilding roads and bridges.” And then, quoting Dem. Senator Reid, “So let’s not talk about campaign speeches here on the Senate floor. Let’s talk about reality.” You decide, are not both those comments purely partisan rhetoric, blaming the other side, rather than working to compromise on some aspects of a bill and moving on to other issues?

Both sides are guilty of emotional fan fare to attract support with argument and comments that totally ignore reality. Does that justify the decision of those who declare they are not going to vote, period? No it doesn’t! In reality, those who don’t bother to vote have actually thrown their support to the winner. You vote, whether it be on a ballot or by staying home and not being counted. Even if you can’t vote in full support of a candidates platform you might need to vote for the lessor of two evils.

By Randy Leer on November 7, 2011

I have been spending time lately watching what is taking place around the world and have been thoroughly reflecting on it. I cannot help but wonder why so many seem to be oblivious to the realities that seem so clear to me. I know each person has their own set of experiences and education, so I thought that I should try to look at it from a point of view relying only on the most basic of education. So this is what comes to mind from my earliest education, Kindergarten through Fifth Grade.

I see these multinational corporations and wealthy individuals that are equally multinational.
I see that these multinational wealthy have nothing that holds them accountable to any governing body, because they can easily transition from the jurisdiction of that governing body to another.
I see these same corporations and individuals practice a level of selfishness that would equate to a young child stealing all the toys from their playmates and then ditching their playmates to move on to another group to steal all their toys.
I see that they invest in region after region and set themselves on a perpetual growth.
I see them destroy region after region as they take all they can until the region is depleted and then they move on.

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By Angelo Lopez on November 4, 2011

Poets have always had a strong presence in social justice causes. In the 1800s, Lord Byron supported the Luddites and Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire and Percy Shelley was an advocate for nonviolence and social justice for the lower classes. W.S. Merton and Robinson Jeffers were strong advocates for environmental causes. Lanston Hughes, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Robert Hayden were strong supporters of the civil rights movement. Muriel Rukeyser, Grace Paley, and June Jordan participated in the antiwar movement, the civil rights movement and the feminist movement. With this history of social activism by poets, it comes as no surprise that many poets are participating in the Occupy Wall Street protests that are around the country.

A Facebook page called Poetry@OccupyWallStreet has been created to information to poets on ways in which they can participate in the Occupy Wall Street protests. Through this page, poets can organize readings, and post poems to be read. Every Friday night in the New York site, at around 9:30pm, poets of all walks of life and ages come in and read or perform their poetry. The Occupy Wall Street Library has just published an Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology. Right now the anthology is available only at the Occupy Wall Street Library, but there are plans to have it available online. Famous poets like Anne Waldman, Adrienne Rich, and Michael McClure have contributed their poetry, as well as regular people and even children.

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By Ken Poland on November 4, 2011

Take 40 taxing units and 1 of those units has $1,000,000 taxable income and each one of the other 39 units has $10,000 taxable income. What is the average taxable income?

Answer: $34,750.00

1 unit equals 2.5% of the group. 1 unit has 71.94% of total taxable income and the other 39 units each have .7194% of the taxable income. (You calculate the math, if you don’t believe me.)

Averaging those 40 family’s incomes indicates all is well. But, the reality is; it will not allow 39 of them to have enough to buy basic necessities, while one of them has more than they can spend.

Lowering the taxes on the millionaire is going to benefit the other 39 and increase demand for consumer products? I DON’T THINK SO!!!

A more even distribution of that income will, in fact, increase demand for consumer products. When we increase demand for consumer products, we increase demand for workers to produce those products. Increased demand for workers will increase wages. Increased wages will give those $10,000 units more money to spend.

How do we accomplish evening out the income? Graduated tax schedules is one way to do it. Narrowing the gap between CEO and top management salaries and the wages of the people on the floor is another way to do it. Government programs for construction of public buildings (schools, hospitals, etc.) or building or improving transportation infra structures will demand more workers. Demand for workers increases wages and eventually we have more spendable income in the hands of people who will shop for more products and that will increase demand for more workers.

We then have an expanding economy and everyone (rich and poor) benefits. Now, we have broadened the taxable income base and we can start decreasing the deficit spending and eventually start whittling away on the accumulated debt.

The ‘Boston Tea Party’ motivated the 99% (colonists) to rebel against the 1% (British Government and Trade Moguls). Our modern ‘Tea Party’ is motivating about 50% to support and reward the 1%. The ‘OWS’ parties are attempting to motivate the 99% to rebel against the 1% and demand more equal distribution of wealth and purchasing power.

Which party (Tea or Occupy), if successful, will benefit the most people and make our society a more rewarding and enjoyable experience for mankind?

By Angelo Lopez on November 3, 2011

On Halloween weekend I dropped by Occupy San Jose to see if anything was going on that I could help with. They were having face painting and various other activities for children who were visiting with their parents. I spent some time talking to the people holding signs in the street corner. During the hour I was there, I heard many cars honk and drivers gave thumbs up to show their support for their message. Earlier that week a man named Cracker began sitting on top of a City Hall wall to get more attention for the group. Cracker spent the day talking to people who were curious to know why he was up this wall.

A few of the signs were in commemoration of Scott Olsen, an Iraqi veteran who was hurt last week in Occupy Oakland in a melee with the police. Several of the sign holders were involved in civic activism the first time, inspired by what they've seen on television and read in the internet. A few of these first-timers camped out with the other demonstrators for the night. I talked to a young fellow named Owen, who decided to camp out with Occupy San Jose after reading about the group for the past week in the San Jose Mercury news. Another person, a bass player, decided to come out during his time off of work.

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By Peter Herbert on November 3, 2011

President Obama was a successful candidate for office on the proposal that he would end the Bush tax cuts for those who earn more than $100,000 per year. Soon the proposal moved to $250,000. Now it’s over a million and rising, and still the Bush tax cuts haven’t ended for anyone. I think that $100,000 was a generous number and we should get back to it.

Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY was a big part of the push to raise the bar above a million. He said: "it is hard to ask more of households that make $250,000 or $300,000 a year. They are not rich, and in large parts of the country, that kind of income does not get you a big home or lots of vacations or anything else that's associated with wealth in America." According to the New York Daily News, he went on to say that taxing those who earn less than $1 million would hurt small business. This is all pure nonsense, although I think Schumer may not know it. Like most Senators from both parties, he is too wealthy to know much about American life.

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By Bob Hooper on November 2, 2011

It was past time, he said.

"We're going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that have allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. In theory some of those loopholes were understandable, but in practice they sometimes make it possible for millionaires to pay nothing while a bus driver was paying ten percent of his salary and that's crazy." He paused.

Then with a wide grin, "You think the millionaire ought to pay more taxes than the bus driver ..or less?" A thunderous "MORE!" from the crowd.

It's Obama and his class war .... W.w.w.wait. You're shaking your head. Not Oba..? Wha...Reagan?? Reagan, a Marxist economic justice'er?

Well, indeed, it was Ronald Reagan. He was speaking at Northside HIgh School in Atlanta on June 6, 1985, shortly after starting his 2nd term.

But as always there's more to the story. Even as he grinned and wagged, the gap between the wealthiest and the rest of us kept right on growing while we were kept distracted by fear-mongering and ramped up jingoism. Today, the gap is wider than at any time since the Great Depression and, yes, keeps widening as you read.

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