Friday, November 11, 2016

Dear Democratic Friends,

Dear Democratic Friends,

I want to start off this letter clarifying my vote. I voted for Jill Stein, it would have been Bernie if his chances were not stolen, but I’ll get to that later. I want you to know that I would vote for Stein again today if the elections were rerun. Why? Because I don’t want Hillary as president. I don’t want Trump either, but more importantly, I won’t vote against my principles.
I get it, you saw this not as a “get Hillary elected,” but a “keep Trump out of office.” Here’s the thing. If you honestly felt that way, why didn’t you support Bernie Sanders when all early polls shown him beating any republican by double digits and Clinton either losing or tied with those same opponents? Wouldn’t the best political move have been going with the candidate with the best odds?
And this is where our great divide begins and the message I’m hoping that you walk away with after you’ve calmed down. I want to emphasize this because it’s about our future. If you don’t understand what happened, the Democratic party has no chance to recover. Progressives are pissed as hell that you didn’t speak up after Podesta emails shown Hillary Clinton colluding with the DNC to invalidate Sanders. Something the DNC has rules against, at least rules for candidates other than their chosen few. The emails shown Hillary colluding with the mainstream media to tear up Sanders and prop Trump above all other Republican candidates. That last part didn’t workout so well, did it? Well, to be honest, none of the colluding as paid off very well for Clinton. The problem that we had is the Democrats basically told us to STFU and take it. This was very apparent at the Democratic convention.
But maybe that only reinforces this fantasy of a “protest vote.” The very idea that you think a non-Hillary vote was nothing more than a protest vote is a testament to the fact you don’t know anything about Progressives. We told you that we want a candidate who won’t be making backroom deals with corporations and banks. We’re tired of corporations shipping jobs overseas (see the TPP), we’re tired of regime change presidents (See Libya, Egypt, Syria, etc…), we’re tired of corporations not paying taxes, unregulated markets, and candidates that didn’t take global warming seriously. I know that last one may have shocked you a little if you’re still reading this. Not only did Hillary state that she was all for fracking and clean coal, something you could argue we need to do until we get our renewable energies up to speed, but she even denigrated environmentalist with her statement, “Environmentalist need to get a life.” Seriously, why would any progressive believe her promises of environmental protection if she’s ripping on them because of their values for the environment? It’s not what she says, but why she would say it.
Yes, yes I’m sure you can dig up some quote by her saying she “told bankers to knock it off.” lol, right. But quite honestly, I come back with quotes of her blaming the borrowers, not the banks, but we’ve been through this and it wasn’t effective before.
I do want to share one last Hillary quote that may have been the nail in the coffin. Hillary Clinton was quoted Bernie Sander supporters are a bunch of losers “living in their parent’s basement.” Sure, it’s insulting, but that isn’t the point. What it really says is that anyone who would support Bernie Sanders want things that I will not give them. Their progressive ideas are something I’ll never bring to fruition. So I ask you, why would I vote against my convictions? If you were so concerned about a Trump presidency, why would you ignore a major portion of the population?


I hope you actually consider the type of candidate you put forth and the candidate the progressives actually want. I hope you realize that if you want our vote, because you need it if your party ever takes back power, you’ll take our voices more serious. I hope in the future you won’t be so smug and arrogant about who we’re “required to vote for.” It should be clear now that we won’t be intimidated or scared into voting for whatever corporate shill you prop up. If you want our vote, you’ll have to come to our terms. Welcome back to the Left.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Great American Heist


When people imagine the great American bank robbers, images of Jessie James, Bonnie and Clyde or Baby Face Nelson come to mind. But in reality, what they stole was chump change. Their exploits combined never came close to the $7 trillion dollars that Henry Paulson printed and gave away to the largest financial firms in the world. The robbery was not from the banks, but to the banks from the American people. Not only has Henry Paulson the most successful thief in history, he’s gotten away with it.

The Great American bank heist began over 30 years ago with several deregulations of the banking system dating back to the Carter administration and continuing until the 2008 bubble burst. Most of these regulations were put in place to prevent another Great Depression. The previous unregulated market led to the “Roaring 20s” and the subsequent crash. The only excuse for market deregulation is to recreate the booming economic conditions of the 20s but pull out, or Short, the market in time to make billions. Matthew Sherman points out in his economic paper, “A Short History of Financial Deregulation in the United States,” when and how each deregulation occurred, beginning with the Carter administration. 1978 marked the first deregulation in the case of Marquette v. First of Omaha. In it, The Supreme Court ruled that state anti-usury laws, which limit interest rates, cannot be applied to nationwide chartered banks.
The deregulation occurred during every administration with strong bi-partisan support. But the small fissure was ripped into a chasm when Bill Clinton made Co-Chairman of Goldman Sachs, Robert Rubin, U.S. secretary of Treasury in 1995. Rubin led the 1998 Citicorp-Travelers Merger, which allowed an insurance underwriter, Travelers, to merge with Citigroup banks. In reality, this was illegal due to the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act. Rubin allowed the merger to happen then killed the Glass-Steagall Act the very next year with the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. This allowed a conglomeration of commercial, insurance and investment banking creating an exponential growth to the housing market. The 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act, also pushed through by ex-Goldman Sachs man Robert Rubin, legalized the Credit Default Swap (CDS). The 2004 Voluntary Regulation was more of the same. Political affiliation is beside the point, these deregulations were passed with heavy bi-partisan support and expanded every presidency starting with Jimmy Carter through George W. Bush. One of the important aspects of the deregulations and the market boon is the fact that Goldman Sachs is always connected in some way.

One of the great American lies is, “It was irresponsible people who ruined the economy by taking loans they couldn’t afford.” Individuals should never have the power to decide for themselves if they can have a loan or not. It is the job of the banks to look at a person’s finances and decide if they qualify. The bankers are supposed to be the experts and more importantly, they are supposed to be the “gate keepers.” The American public was tricked into mortgages they couldn’t afford through the “teaser” rates, very low interest rates with a very short life span. After a couple years, those interest rates returned to normal levels –or higher– making default inevitable. The banks were making billions of dollars giving out these sub-prime loans. These are loans for people who accrued too much debt to otherwise get a loan. The idea was to extend a life of a loan, and consolidate all debt into the sub-prime, then roll the interest into the principle. Many investors bought the most toxic bonds available, then purchased insurance for those bonds through companies like AIG. This would gain the buyer hundreds of millions, even billions, of dollars. The larger corporations would then hedge these bundled bonds, taking high risk with nothing to fall back on if the risk failed. In a New York Times article, Nicholas D. Kristof (Vice President of Chase) describes how the banking system pumped through the sub-prime loans in order to make billions.

Deregulating made sub-prime loans possible. The loaning bank would then sell the bond to a bond agent that would bundle them into Collateral Debt Obligations (CDO). The “toxic” bonds were then sold to larger bank for a heavy profit. The sleight of hand came in when S&P and Moody’s gave these toxic CDO’s the top grade: triple A rating. The bloated ratings were driven for profit and not bond assessment. In the paper, “The Story of the CDO Market Meltdown: An Empirical Analysis” Moody’s and S&P revenue increase as they continue to rate toxic CDOs. The seemingly random nature of Fitch’s models were so bad they were known as the, “Fitch’s Random Rating Model.” According to the Bloomberg article, a U.S. House Oversight panel released an email exchange between two S&P employees including the line, “Let’s hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters.” All three rating agencies testified before the House Oversight Committee admitting that relaxing standards was necessary for increasing revenue.

The triple A ratings deceived traders to believe the CDOs were first-rate investments. Goldman Sachs then set the value and sold Credit Default Swaps. CDSs are gambles that borrowers will default on their loans. Once CDSs are bought, then they are insured by companies like AGI. The money is being made by people defaulting on their loans! Logically, if Goldman Sachs is selling CDSs as gambles the market will crash due to defaulting of loans, then Goldman Sachs must know, or planned, the housing bubble would pop. Interestingly, in 2006, at the height of the housing market, just one year before the ARMs would begin to increase and cause the default dominoes to fall, Henry Paulson chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs becomes U.S. Treasury. The question is: Why would the highest ranking person of a company leave at the height of an economic boom like the housing market in 2006? Adjustable Rate Mortgages would begin increasing after two years from the time of the loan. Paulson left Goldman Sachs one year before the 2005 ARM came of age. For someone who didn’t understand what direction the market was going, he sure picked a good time become Secretary of Treasury. Goldman Sachs dictated the price and sold the CDSs that were nothing more than gambles that homeowners would default. In fact, Paulson didn’t simply know how the market was structured to fail, he gave a talk to Goldman Sachs investors advising how his government plan would bail out financial institutions and where to put their money. This is highlighted in an article from the Bloomberg News. It details how Paulson gave specific information about the moves the Treasury Department would be making to companies such as Citi-group and Goldman Sachs. This type of material was nonpublic and illegal to give out to these hedge-fund managers.
There was never an accident, no “perfect storm.” The 2008 market crash couldn’t have been planned better to make a profit. As a result of hedge-fund schemes cooked up by these companies, we are in the worst recession in decades, the highest unemployment since the Great Depression and hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes and live in poverty. For all these criminal acts, no one has been brought to trial. The Congressional Oversight Committee was a joke. Scams were openly admitted by Standard & Poors, Henry Paulson gave insider information to bond traders and politicians. Not a single person has been brought to trial in the midst of the largest economic crash since the Great Depression. Regulation of the market has not been reestablished. Worst of all, Goldman Sachs has upped their influence in the Obama administration with GS men holding more government seats in his cabinet than all presidential cabinets combined. 

The very people who robbed the American public blind are now the ones who are running our banking system.

Monday, November 3, 2014

America's Unlikely Bedfellows and the Story Behind the Irainian Nuclear Deal

     The United States maybe forced to ally with an unlikely nation, Iran. It's happened before on smaller scales in clandestine cooperation, the early days of the Afghanistan War and during the late 2000s when the U.S. were looking for ways to pacify Iraqi insurgency. Now with the appearance of a new global threat, apprehension for sending troops back to the Gulf, and the needs or our European allies, the United States may have no other choices but to bury the hatchet for good. At this time, it's not happening. The two nations are pitted together in a bizarre race to save Iraq and the world from the clutches of ISIL. They're competing to build coalition forces and dictate the military strategy that will overcome Abu Bakr, each country adopting a different tactic. The Americans are using their most expensive toys to bomb anything outside of a crater, while Iran attempts to coordinate and command various factions from all walks of life. Ultimately their strife to gain the upper-hand of Middle Eastern influence will become irrelevant and a new peace accord will be reached with in days.
This article will address the main players involved in the geo-political clashes, why the conflicts exist, what's happening now and why it's all going to change in the very near future.
Iran's success rest in the hands of General Qassem Suleimani, also known as the Shadow Commander. He's the military commander of Iran's Quds Forces, a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Their areas of responsibility fall outside the boarders of Iran and are responsible for intelligence gathering and small unit assaults. These units will work with locals for training, supply, and tactical advice. They are Iran's form of military advisers.
Suleimani maybe the most powerful individual in all of the Middle East. In thirty-four years he hasn't been captured or killed. He's a mastermind tactician who commands unquestionable respect from every Shitte corps. The problem is that he's one of America's greatest adversaries, if not the greatest, and that makes a compromise difficult, if not impossible. Currently our two countries are spiraling in a tit for tat, tug-of-war diplomacy that's marring the battle against ISIL in Iraq, and something needs to change soon.
    Suleimani rose up through the ranks from a low level soldier beginning in 1980. What was supposed to be a tour of only a couple weeks for a mission during the Iraq-Iran war turned into a full tour of duty, he fought to its conclusion. Over those thirty-four years of service he has become Iran's top general and gained a legendary status; Seyed Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of Iran, calls him "the living martyr." In the New Yorker story, The Shadow commander, Dexter Filkins quotes former CIA agent John Maguire saying, "Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today and no one's ever heard of him."
    It was that U.S. backed Iran-Iraq war that brought the region and Suleimani to the conclusion that a Syria, Lebanon, and Iran must for a coalition, the so called Axis of Resistance. It became apparent, in their view that Shiite nations needed to pull together in an effort for self-preservation.
He's considered the architect behind the American eviction from Iraq. In Filkin's article, he states, "According to several Iraqi and Western officials, Suleimani invited senior Shiite and Kurdish leaders to meet with him in Tehran and Qom, and extracted from them a promise to support Maliki, his preferred candidate. The deal had a complex array of enticements... Most remarkable, according to the Iraqi and Western officials, were the two conditions that Suleimani imposed on the Iraqis. The first was that Jalal Talabani, a longtime friend of the Iranian regime, become President. The second was that Maliki and his coalition partners insist that all American troops leave the country. 'Suleimani said: no Americans,' the former Iraqi leader said."
Suleimani is responsible for organizing and preparing the Shiite insurgency in Iraq. According to the Institute Study of War by the United States Defense Department, Quds forces began planning for Shiite insurgency attacks in 2002 prior to the American invasion and continued till the conclusion of the Iraqi War in 2011.
Besides the Shiite insurgents, Suleimani has directed and controlled the Lebanese Hezbollah operatives and secret cells within the Shia militias. In 2005 he engineered the Hezbollah assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister in Beirut, Lebanon. Today he maintains that control over Hezbollah in Iraq against ISIL militants.
    That influence extends to Kurds as well. The New Yorker story, The Shadow Commander, author “It is very difficult for us to say no to Suleimani," a senior Kurdish official told Filkin. "When we say no, he makes trouble for us. Bombings. Shootings. The Iranians are our neighbors. They've always been there, and they always will be. We have to deal with them."
His power extends to nearly every faction in the region; it’s not just Shiite, Hezbollah, and Kurds, he also dictates Iraqi policy directly through their government.
     According to Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, Suleimani sent General Petraeus a text message saying, "Dear General Petraeus, you should know that I, Qassem Suleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan. And indeed, the ambassador in Baghdad is a Quds Force member. The individual who's going to replace him is a Quds Force member."
In a 2008 McClatchy article, an Iraqi official is quoted, "Qassem al Suleimani is the person in charge of the Iraqi issue," said an Iraqi official who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject. "He's in charge of supporting the militias and training them. . . . The Iranians have a huge influence on the Mahdi Army, they're harboring Muqtada . . . they are like a tool in their hands."
Suleimani devised the plan to use Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs) bombs against American and coalition forces in Iraq that killed and maimed thousands of soldiers. He's been America's number one enemy for the past decade, yet few have heard of him. This maybe the one issue that Washington worries the most, the political fallout from collaborating with the mastermind of the Improvised Explosive Devices.
     Recently he's faced off against the Americans and ISIS in Syria. This is where he learned the tactics needed to defeat the world's most notorious terrorist groups. Nearly a year ago, Suleimani took command of Bashar al-Assad's army in Syria Since then he's supplied, trained, and advised military tactics.
    While the United States have conducted bombing raids in Syria and Iraq, Suleimani has been directing ground forces. To some degree, the two nations must be working together in concert, but a tighter, more apparent compromise maybe soon on the way. Presented in time of major epochs, it’s apparent the two nations will begin working together soon in Iraq.
March 15th, 2014 ISIL begins attacks on Kobani, Syria.
June 6th, ISIL Seize Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. They annexed the city with only 1,300 ISIL operatives to defeat 20,000 poorly armed Iraqi troops.
July 18th, World Tribune reported 5,000 Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard were sent into Iraqi cities as Baghdad, Diyala, Karbala Najaf and Samara a week after the ISIL sieze of Mosul on June 9th.
September 10th, the Associated Press reported that John Kerry asserted the United States commitment to back Iraq against the IS militants. "This is a fight that the Iraqi people must win, but it's also a fight that the rest of the world needs to win with them, "This is a fight that the Iraqi people must win, but it's also a fight that the rest of the world needs to win with them," Kerry said during a press conference, "And it's a fight the United States and the rest of the world need to support every single step of the way."
October 6th, The Iran Daily reported, "Iran is pressing its campaign to coordinate political and military operations in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State." According to The Iran Daily, the move is an effort to win over coalition forces in the region to build a stronger alliance with the Syrian regime. If such a Such a union would push aside any US led efforts in the region.
Also on October 6th, Iranian journalist circulated this photo of Suleimani purportedly standing with Kurdish soldiers claiming an alliance between Iran's Qods Forces and the Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan:
October 9th, ISIL militants still in control of most captured territories. Militant attacks increase and threaten to overtake the Syrian city of Kobni. If ISIL succeeds, they'll be in control of more than half of the Turkey-Syrian border.
October 13th, Turkey and the United States come to an agreement for access of Turkey airbases. Additionally, Turkey agrees to host and train Syrian Opposition Members, a spokesman for Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel said.  This will add to the countries that the U.S. is flying out of, including United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar.
October 20th, Iraqi television said that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, arrived in Najaf, Iraq on October 20 and met the Supreme Religious Authority upon his arrival and Ayatollah Sistani.
October 21st, Turkey allowed Iraqi Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, launch attacks across the      Turkey boarder against ISIL and the Levant terrorist group currently occupying Kobani.  Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said his government was "helping the peshmerga cross over to Kobani." This change in Turkish policy is due to the new United States coalition agreement to utilize Turkey airfield bases.
    In a strange twist, The Islam Times reported, "Sky News' Chief Correspondent in Syria, Stuart Ramsay, obtained documents showing that the Turkish government has stamped passports of foreign militants seeking to cross the Turkey border into Syria to join the ISIL terrorists. Passports from different countries were recovered in a village near Syria's strategic town of Kobani across the Turkish border."
October 23th, United States Defense Department press release announced a new agreement settled between Secretary Hagel and Minister Obeidi. The press release said, "The two talked about ways to train, equip and prepare the Iraqi Security forces for upcoming offensives against ISIL and Minister Obeidi expressed his appreciation for U.S. advisors and airstrikes. Both Secretary Hagel and Minister Obeidi promised to continue to work closely together to pursue mutual security objectives."
October 29, according to the Kuwaiti newspaper, Al-Siyasah, Iraqi's new Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi announced a split between Iraqi and Iranian military cooperation. Al-Obeidi proclaimed to have a plan for beating ISIL within the next two years.
Saturday, Nov. 1, Hussein al-Ramahi, the head of the political commission of Hezbollah brigades in Iraq announced the capture of four-hundred ISIL militants in the Northern Province of Babil. al-Ramahi noted the "mechanism" used to capture the combatants was 100% successful. "Tikrit and Fallujah will also be soon set free." Al-Ramahi told the Fars News. That “mechanism” was most likely tactics dictated by Suleimani.
That same day, 220 Sunni tribesmen, executed by ISIL militants, were discovered in a mass grave west of Baghdad. Iraq's top Shiite Cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for aid on the Iraqi government for Sunni aid to continue fighting ISIL. "The Iraqi government is required to... offer quick support to the sons of this tribe and other tribes that are fighting Daesh (ISIL) terrorists," Sistani said.
    It would provide both a humanitarian and tactical move, "This will offer the opportunity to the other tribes to join the fighters against Daesh," he said.
The US-Iranian cooperation may not be 100% at this time, but the way forces appear to be hitting ISIL by different means and locations suggest some coordination. At no point are there US or Iranian reports of Shiite, Hezbollah, or any Iranian forces being caught in US crossfire. In order for that to happen, there needs to be some level of intelligence exchange. Though that is all conjecture, there are other reasons to believe a peace accord will be reached this month.
Aside from our adversarial relationship with Iran and Suleimani, I predict a peace accord will be made in the very near future, possibly by the end of November. The positive gains from an auspicious relationship are beginning to outweigh excuses for perpetual fighting between the two nations. The Islamic State isn't the only reason our two countries need to join forces, but it’s a powerful motivator.
    From his experiences in Syria, Suleimani proved he knows how to beat the ISIL militants and has the command of several regional actors. Americans will be less enthusiastic for another ground assault in Iraq anytime soon.
    Rear admiral John Kirby said during a press conference on Oct. 8th., "We're doing everything we can, from the air, to try to halt the momentum of ISIL against that town, but that air power is not going to be, alone, enough to save that city." Meaning, some sort of ground assault will be needed in Kobani, or any other ISIL stronghold.
    Iran also has close ties with Afghanistan which may prove advantageous for the newly minted Bilateral Security Agreement signed by Afghanistan and the US this past September 30th. Shortly after 9/11, Iran was a close ally to the U.S. in Afghanistan. They shared intelligence and were considering making deep ties until George W. Bush called the country out as one of the Axis of Evil.
    Another reason for a U.S.-Iranian is the issue of natural gas exports into Europe. Iran is the second largest gas reserve in the world after Russia. Currently the EU is beginning to run low due to sanctions placed on Russia over the Ukraine conflict and winter is just around the corner.  A European Commission source told Reuters in September, "We are lagging in production and think about domestic consumption first,” Russia provides one-third of the EUs gas consumption, that void will have to be filled and Iran is a good alternative. Riding on the deal for Iranian cooperation is an $80 billion per year incentive to fill the Russian vacancy.
Historical stubbornness on both sides is not an impossible barrier to overcome as an October 24th deal with Boeing proved. For the first time since the 1979 Hostage Crisis a deal between US aerospace company and Iran took place. Until now, this type of business deal was prohibited under US sanctions.
    In fact, a new nuclear agreement may already be in the works.  The Fars News has reported trilateral talks discussing Iran's nuclear proliferation and several other topics will take place November 9-10th between U.S. secretary of state John Kerry, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. This trilateral talk preclude the November 18th talks with the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) nuclear proliferation talks. It's possible that an unofficial agreement has already been hashed out and this preliminary trilateral meeting is to be sure that all parties are on the same page.
    On October 25th, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and senior negotiator Seyed Abbas Araqchi said that all sanctions against Iran must be lifted before a comprehensive deal can be concluded.
"Iran's negotiations with the Group 5+1 is progressing on a hard path with ups and downs and there is no bright perspective envisaged for its ending by the deadlines," Araqchi said, "We will not retreat even one step from the country's nuclear rights; no machine or equipment will be dismantled, the country's R&D will not be impaired and the most important of all, the industrial enrichment will be materialized powerfully and within the framework of the country's needs." Most likely there will be an agreement that Iran can continue non-weaponized nuclear proliferation after new transparency regulations are in place, something Iran has stated that they’ll agree to do.
I think the presence of ISIL and the sanctions held against Russia, there is little more to do than lift the sanctions against Iran. Suleimani and the Iranians will continue the ground fight while the US continues air raids out of Turkey.
    It looks like a possible Iranian-American alliance is on the horizon and how that will shake up politics abroad and at home is anyone’s guess. There are many questions. How will Israel react to the new Iranian/American alliance? How will the United States maintain close ties with Saudi Arabia whose intelligence supported the ISIL expansion in the Middle East? What will the political fallout be for the U.S. to support the orchestrator of the Shiite insurgency and the IED tactics against American Troops?

* this is reprinted from my post last year, so some of the predictions may look like hindsight.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Da Student Loan Bomb



Hello Bat Country and welcome to the show. Today we have some ass-sore news for you so break out the inflatable donuts and prepare to be pissed.
Congress has passed resolutions to double the interest rates of college loans. Not only does that fucking blow worse than a New Jersey drag-queen off I-95 turnpike, but college loans are the largest debt for all Americans. These loans are topping out at over a Trillion dollars. That’s right, a Trillion dollars!
But it doesn’t stop there folks. Beginning July 1st of 2012, there will be no longer be subsidized loans for graduate students.
The most maddening part of this debacle is it is the same old tactic being used by politicians. Nutjobs like Virginia Foxx make students out to be free loaders.
She states, ” I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that. ” No reason? How about college tuition has increased by 700 percent since 1978! That is ten years after this fossil graduated college. But it’s understandable how she could be so confused. From the Huffington Post, “According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 1968, the average yearly cost for tuition, room, and board for a public university was $1,245. ”
Maybe you are thinking to yourself, “Well Bat Country, I don’t want my tax dollars paying for someone else’s college.” Well Einstein, who is actually paying more when you keep the poor people from going to grad school? You are! “Why?” you ask? Because, people who go to grad school will graduate with their masters, Ph.D or M.D. degrees. That means, they have higher paying jobs. That means, they will be the middle to upper middle class that will pay more taxes. If you eliminate the ability for people to gain higher paying jobs, there will be less of a tax base and thus, moremoney from us in increased taxes. There will also be more cuts to your grandmother’s medicaid for her psychiatric drugs and Social Security. That’s right champ, your elderly mother will have to move back in with you. That’ll sure set the mood the next time you want to have your wife suspended from the ceiling in bondage.
Unless you like your mothball smelling grandparents and parents all up in your shit, you need to start voicing your opinions in defense of student loans. It’s time that we cut off the welfare gravy train for the wealthiest people in our country and start taxing them before morons like Virginia Foxx FUBAR our country.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Right-Wing Philosophy of Hate


Serious Fox News Journalist
(Sensationalist Douchebag Serious Fox News Journalist w/ Integrity)
It has only been a few weeks since the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and of course Fox News has fucked this up just like they fuck everything up. This week, Geraldo Rivera defended the actions of the murderer by placing responsibility of Trayvon’s death on Trayvon himself. On the news parody show, Fox and Fucksticks, the pornstache corporate mouthpiece blames Trayvon’s death on his sweatshirt. He says, “… I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.”

Despite the absurd notion that a boy had to die because of clothing, Geraldo’s comments stem from a deeper problem, a cancer in our culture. It’s the mouth cancer of hate speech that’s not only tolerated by the right-wing, it’s actually encouraged. If you’ve watched any of the GOP clown show debates, you’ve heard the crowd cheer for the candidates when they speak of death, intolerance, and poverty. You may have also seen the hilarious, knee-slapping, cleverest-wordplay-ever, bumper sticker campaign “Don’t Re-Nig in 2012.” Or maybe you tuned into the Super Bowl to see Pete Hoekstra’s ad that uses an American woman doing her best “Ching Chong Chinaman” accent and perpetuating the “Yellow Peril” myth that politicians have used to scare voters into polling booths for over 100 years.
There is no better example of this human thought-bile than the modern-day “conservative” shouting head. From a distance, these animals resemble upright, walking, Homo-Sapiens. That is, until you have the misfortune of hearing their excretory rhetoric. They’re not human, but they’re also not the product of human de-evolution. They are worse. They are the incarnation of an oncovirus that attacks the brain and nervous system of America. Their product is cancer, lesions, and death.

And they are paid millions of dollars.

Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Coulter, and the rest, all maniacally scream on spit drenched microphones daily to the tune of raking cash. They say homosexuals will destroy the sanctity of marriage and brainwash our kids. They say women who engage in premarital sex are sluts and whores. Protestors should be shot. Other nations are to be bombed and converted to Christianity by force. The poor deserve to be poor. The poor deserve to pay more taxes. The poor should be drug tested, hounded, made to feel shame and humiliation for their station in life at every opportunity. Border crossers should be shot, electrocuted, and hunted by flying terror drones. They say these ridiculous things that blathering idiotic children wouldn’t dare to say and they’re paid handsomely for it. Why? Because there’s an audience that gobbles up their word-diarrhea by the spoonful. The exact same Republican donkey-show crowd that boos a soldier because he’s gay is the reason these morons have a timeslot, a book deal, and a speaking tour.
Let’s look at some of the comments on that video where Geraldo mouth-shits his inanity:
“Not as much as you do for pretending you don’t agree with him. TELL me you don’t cross to the other side of the street when you see a group of black kids walking toward you wearing hoodies. Fucking hypocrite.”
- patientzero532

“seems legit”
- jackknifejon

“Hate him on principle but you all know he is being sensible and speaks the truth……”
- winrx

“No, no-one should be raped or hurt or killed. When someone is dressed as a priest we expect them to be a man of god. If someone is presenting themselves as a gangster then they will be perceived as one.
I don’t know what this kid was wearing at the time but ‘hood up’ suggests you want anonymity. ‘Hood up’ is synonymous with crime culture, not all hoodie wearers are criminals but most criminals wear hoodies. I think he’s got a fair point.”
- TheDesignGuru
These comments are indicative of the whole cycle: broadcast-to-audience, audience-to-society. The cable news industry, politicians, and especially the right-wing of these two institutions are more focused on eliciting emotional reaction rather than disseminating information and discussing reasonable policy. They feed people’s fears and bigotries to pump ratings and drag in advertising and campaign dollars. And those people in their audience propagate the lies, misrepresentations, and foul vitriol like ripples through a pond. The cost, the real cost that we’re all paying, is the perpetuation of intolerance, hatred, and prejudice in the America we all share.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Occupy, jobs, and the REAL welfare



Mainstream cable news has painted the Occupy Movement as a portrait dirty, smelly, entitled hippie slackers who want nothing more than an ember glowing joint passed around a drum circle. Much of coverage has been filtered and edited to produce the most entertaining shows at the protesters expense.
A study (PDF) measuring demographics highlighted an incongruous view. Hector R. Cordero-Guzman of Baruch College in New York found that 50.4% are full-time employed and 20.4% are employed part-time. Only 13.1% are unemployed; the national average being 8.6%. The current national trends have been the highest unemployment since the Great Depression. Of those employed; 70.5% make less than $50,000 per year and 47.5% earn less than $25,000 annually. Is there any surprise these people are angry? After adjusting for inflation, a person between the age of 25-34 will earn an income 12% lower than they would have in 2000. Unemployment rates typically follow some relationship with education levels. Those who only possess a high school diploma are facing 15% unemployment rate. Bachelor degrees mirror the national average of 8.6%, A master’s is only 5% and PhD’s have a mere 2%. These numbers should be approached with caution, many people are underemployed for their education level. The Bureau of Labor Statistics show that over 8,000 waiters and waitresses and 5,000 janitors have doctoral or professional degrees. This trend of low wages despite college degrees hold for 92.1% of Occupiers with some college education. 35% have a bachelor’s and 21.5% have completed graduate degrees. This isn’t only the Occupy protesters who are living in or near impoverished levels, The New York Times, and others, have recently reported 34% of the elderly and 39% of American children live in poverty. According to 2010 Census data, 2.6 million people have moved into poverty, the most recorded since poverty records began in 1959. Much to the dismay of many Occupiers are the austerity measures proposed by Washington during these times of extreme levels of poverty and unemployment. Cuts to medicade, medicare and Social Security will only hurt those impacted by the poor economy, elderly, disabled and a host of other people.

More maddening is the very people who caused the nose dive economy are being protected from tax increases. Some of those entitlements for the rich have been outlined by U.S. Senator Tom Coburn. This article (PDF) breaks down the billions of dollars in government subsidies for millionaires. For instance, AGI defined millionaires have received $9 billion in retirement checks, $21 billion in gambling losses, $74 million in unemployment checks, $608 million in business entertainment deductions between the years 2006-2009. Who’s welfare funds are pulling down this country? The welfare of the poor at $80 million dollars, or the millionaire’s welfare. This was only a small sampling of the wealth given in tax deductions for the entitled rich.
The Occupiers are not the only people struggling, they are the only ones who are creating the dialog. Mainstream news has skewed, distorted and redirected the publics attention to the real issues. Current news programming focuses on the Jersey Shore GOP circus as though Perry’s next Texas drawl thought salad meant anything important to the nation. When a well informed group stands up to start making points, to inform the general public, they are attacked instead of a fair chance to speak. Mainstream news is more about entertainment than it is information.

The Sabu Double Play. How the real target is Julian Assange.


Hector Monsegur, known as Sabu, leader of the Anonymous affiliated hacking group LulzSec, was arrested by FBI agents in his New York apartment on Monday, June 7, 2011, at 10:15PM. On August 15, Monsegur pleaded guily to several counts of hacking and identity theft.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney James Pastore, as told to U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska at a court hearing on August 5, The defendant has literally worked around the clock with federal agents. “He has been staying up sometimes all night engaging in conversations with co-conspirators that are helping the government to build cases against those co-conspirators.”

Court documents and several news agencies report that Monsegur’s computer was tracked by the FBI since June 8, 2011. His online activity was accounted for around the clock by FBI installed software. Additional video cameras monitored every room in his home for protection.

From the FBI document entitled Six Hackers in the United States and Abroad Charged for Crimes Affecting Over One Million Victims, the following is based on the indictment and the information, complaints, and statements made up to and including Monsegur’s guilty plea:
The Stratfor Hack
Jeremy Hammond is a political activist from Chicago and the founder of the computer security training website HackThisSite. In December 2011, Hammond conspired to hack into computer systems used by Stratfor, a private firm that provides governments and others with independent geopolitical analysis. Hammond and his co-conspirators, as members of Anonymous splinter group AntiSec, stole confidential information from those computer systems, including Stratfor employees’ e-mails as well as account information for approximately 860,000 Stratfor subscribers or clients. Hammond and his co-conspirators stole credit card information for approximately 60,000 credit card users and used some of the stolen data to make unauthorized charges exceeding $700,000. Hammond and his co-conspirators also publicly disclosed some of the confidential information they had stolen.
On December 24, 2011, AntiSec announced the theft of Stratfor data in a link entitled,“Anonymous Lulzxmas rooting you proud.”
Info hit Twitter with @AnonyOps_ “’Anonymous/AntiSec Attack STRATFOR’ http://bit.ly/rMFtYi #anonyops 8:44 PM – 24 Dec 11.” The FBI claims that the hacks occurred December 6th, but watched the hackers access and delete files from the cache. The disparity in timing of Tweets and the FBI’s account suggest the majority of the Anonymous collective was not involved.
The FBI provided servers to unpack stolen information, including emails stolen from Stratfor, which were then shared with WikiLeaks at a later time. So the stolen Credit Cards had to been known by the FBI.
It is interesting when the timing of the Stratfor email hacks when juxtaposed against the court dates, and statements by the Attorney General and the FBI. If the FBI was in fact monitoring the hackers’ access since December 6th, they would have known long before December 24th about the stolen credit card information and the risk it posed. It might even give you pause to consider why they would sit on that kind of information – information that admittedly compromised the security of almost a million people.
Publicly, Hammond’s co-conspirators are unknown, never named in official court papers. We know now that Sabu was probably one of those co-conspirators.  Sabu was an important person in Anonymous because of his special talent as LulzSec’s “Rooter,” the person who finds the weaknesses for hackers to exploit. The “Rooting you proud” part of Christmas eve title by AnitSec suggests he wrote it, implicating himself as part of the operation at a time when he is obviously working with and monitored by the FBI.
Additional self-incriminating Tweets from Sabu’s Twitter account also implicate him as one of the Stratfor hackers. But if Sabu was in fact working for the FBI, how could the Stratfor hack be anything more than a clearcut case of entrapment perpetrated by the FBI?
* Clicking on the small star “Details” for the actual Tweet post.
This discussion is Sabu’s response to AnonOps’ disgust about the credit card theft.
Jean ‏ @jeanassy
@anonymouSabu he tweeted “Stratfor hack is a desperate attempt to gain attention by anonops”, do u agree?
TheRealSabu ‏ @anonymouSabu
@jeanassy Haha. We aren’t even on anonops for him to make such a claim. Perhaps he should direct his anger directly at daddy. (me)
3:38 AM – 26 Dec 11 via web · Details
Sabu is considering manipulating the media by changing intelligence reports.
TheRealSabu ‏ @anonymouSabu
Think: is it possible that we (#antisec) could have controlled the flow of media by injecting erroneous points into “intelligence” reports?
6:51 PM – 3 Jan 12 via TwitterforBlackBerry® · Details
This post is more of a ploy, he could simply ask the FBI agents who are monitoring is computer. Remember, the FBI has software installed to keep track of every key stroke.
TheRealSabu ‏ @anonymouSabu
RE: if hackers are able to generate intelligence reports used by media and governments – what would be the consequence?
6:52 PM – 3 Jan 12 via TwitterforBlackBerry® · Details
This Tweet is more cryptic, but still points out that the hole in the system was found and he knew of the particular weakness.
TheRealSabu ‏ @anonymouSabu
I think in regards to stratfor people are only looking at the small picture (hack itself, donations, et al) and missing the gaping hole.
6:53 PM – 3 Jan 12 via TwitterforBlackBerry® · Details
Here again, this is two days prior to the Tweet above, he admits to having control for months. That legitimizes the previous post as not a mistake/mistype. It also appears that he was attempting to change intelligence reports as well.
TheRealSabu ‏ @anonymouSabu
If you want to be technical we’ve had control over stratfor for months. Has anyone confirmed if any of their intel reports were compromised?
7:04 PM – 3 Jan 12 via TwitterforBlackBerry® · Details
In this Tweet, he suggests the hack didn’t occur on December 6th like the FBI claimed. Remember, Sabu is a Rooter, this means he finds the insecurities in the network. He claims this that “they” had access for months, assuming months before the actual hack. But it doesn’t really matter if he means months before Jan 5th or Dec 6th. Either way, the FBI knew for quite some time. It looks more like a part of a longer range plan.
TheRealSabu ‏ @anonymouSabu
The stratfor hack is important on many levels. Think about the very point we had access to its userlist for months, now consider its users.
11:28 AM – 5 Jan 12 via web · Details
On Janurary 7th at 6:16am, Sabu (Hector Monsegur), admits to actively hacking Stratford.
TheRealSabu@anonymouSabu Our inspiration during the Stratfor hack: youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJ 6:16 AM – 7 Jan 12 via web · Details
This circumstantial evidence suggests Sabu and the FBI were somehow a part of the Stratfor hack.
By December 29, 2011, The Washington Post announces the Hacker’s plan to dump the stolen data. The FBI have already given Sabu an FBI server to unpack the data from Hammond. Once that data was on their servers, the FBI would have been able to examine exactly what was removed from Stratfor, if they didn’t already know.
The data itself presented oddity after oddity. Many of the credit card holders had terminated their membership or the cards were expired. Some of those customers have not been paying customers for years. In fact, of the 50,277 unique credit card numbers, only 9,651 were NOT expired. Additionally, the original credit card data was not encrypted, a clear regulatory violation for any company storing consumer credit card information.  And lastly, Stratfor discovered the hack and the stolen data on the same day it occurred.
There’s a concept in the counter-hacking world called “honey pots.” An insecure or otherwise weakly secured computer is set up on the network. Hackers hone in on the entry point and mistakenly assume they are in the secure network. IT security professionals who are monitoring the “honey pots” can immediately detect and counter a hacker coming through these weak points – effectively slamming the lid on them and trapping them – or at least their identifying information – in the honey pot.
Back to those irregularities. Old, unencrypted customer data hanging out there unencrypted with just enough live accounts to make it all seem legit – on paper, it has all the markings of a “honey pot” conspiracy. Nevermind the fact that using real customer data – old or not – as bait is illegal on a number of levels.
Julian Assange released the Stratfor data on WikiLeaks on Monday, Feb 27, 2010. Sabu was announced as a turncoat the next Tuesday, March 6 2010, exactly one week after the data dump.
Could it be possible that Stratfor and the FBI were working in concert for a plan to frame Anonymous and Julian Assange to bring down WikiLeaks? If the U.S. Government show ties between Julian Assange and AntiSec’s Stratfor attack, they can embolden their case for extradition. One has to wonder just how deep the FBI participation was in the Stratfor hack. Was the entire Sabu saga all an elaborate plan to incriminate Julian Assange?
The New York Times article quotes Cyber crime investigator Mark Seiden, “It’s not surprising it would take them that long to make arrests,” he said. “They have to collect evidence, and the paperwork takes between three and six months. If you don’t know exactly how hackers attacked a site, it’s difficult to bring them to justice. There’s no point in picking an unripe fruit.” But Sabu was the Rooter, the one who provides the roadmap to attack the networks. There was no need for a three month investigation – Sabu had all the information they needed in that regard. It’s worth noting that that the day after Sabu’s arrest, the  FBI Director testified to Senate about cybercrime threat.
Too many questions remain unanswered. How is it possible that a best-in-class security firm such as Stratfor could be so careless in the encrypting and storage of their corporate emails and customers’ credit card information? What does it mean if it wasn’t mere carelessness but a conspiracy to knowingly expose those customers to potential fraudulent activity as unconsenting bait? Is the real conspirator here the FBI? How safe do you feel knowing that a government agency is willing to expose you to danger, however slight, with the endgame of playing a game of dominos with the fates and lives of real people?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Santarchy

Cacophony Society
Suicide Club
Pittsburgh's Santarchy

    Looks of horror, confusion and amusement beamed on every face as our army of Ho Ho perversion passed.
Santarchy or also known as "Santa con" was started by the Suicide Club in SF. I believe it was one of their pranks. Later, after the death of the founder, the Cacophony Society was formed and started the first "Santa Cons."

Interestingly the founding members, who were ex-Suicide club members, were also some of the original organizers of the Burning Man events. This was even before Burning man was named.

Here are my pictures of the event in Pittsburgh. well some of them.

And as usual, for more info.





Frank leading the caroling.


Macy's got an early Xmas present.





Weeeee!



We then got on a boat to cross the river.









Pittsburgh's bridges lit up by the streetlights.











Pittsburgh is a horribly ugly city.



I forget the name of this bar. 







I am not sure what they are, maybe Snow women?, either way, I am not complaining either.










And end the night with some bull riding, nothing says "Christmas" like an angry red nostriled bull!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Occupy Wall Street - A Story of David and Goliath


        At first sight, modern day journalism resembles the bluish, bloated corpse of a tricked out junky whore, empty, destitute and dead. She doesn’t represent all of journalism in America; just the shit cable news entertainment industry that prop up pretty talking heads to spout their corporate sponsored messages. Because of the “big sell out” of mainstream journalism, many Americans have become a gutless, flaccid people with a short memory and dull intellect. These Americans have sent their children to die overseas and never challenge the lies that drove the nails into their coffins. They lost their homes in hedge-fund schemes while the wealthiest made billions but never demanded the prosecutions of those corporate criminals. They believe hyperbolic bumper sticker sound bites that tell them, “Terrorists hate your freedoms,” then give them all away with the Patriot, SOPA and 2011 NDAA acts. Cable news has created a Zombified flag-waving pandemic. It was enough for me to give up on our Facebook status breakfast updating society and say, “fuck it, bring on the annihilation.” Then one day I heard about the new “Global Revolution” through channels of the hacktivist group, Anonymous. The burning ember of rebellion began to intensify into the early summer. Vancouver based activist group, Ad Busters, posted an ad calling for a symbolic protest to “Occupy Wall Street.” This was something I have been waiting for, a damn good bare knuckle brawl. I followed the movement closely for two weeks. The contrast of coverage between mainstream and the other sources was staggering. I watched live-streams every night while I worked. Reports of police brutality were either ignored or misrepresented. Cable networks made parodies and demeaning news reports about unemployed, unintelligent, clueless and confused people. “What are the demands of Occupy?” That must be the most overused phrase of 2011. “What are they mad about?” As if the chanting wasn’t loud enough or the signs weren’t written clear enough. This absurdity drew me to Zuccottii park, to tell my own story with the people I met and the things I have seen.


Walking up to the street, the low bass thumping of rhythmic drums reverberated from Zuccotti Park. People crowded shoulder to shoulder watching dancers languorously twist, twirl and thrash to the beats of a primitive sacrament. A wall of bodies with signs encompassed the park’s perimeter. Intrigued by their beliefs and resolve, curious onlookers snapped photographs and asked questions. The protesters cardboard messages shouted demands: “Give me back my future,” “Those who make peaceful revolutions impossible, make violent revolutions inevitable,” “We are the 99% and we won’t relent.” The protesters in and around the park numbered in the hundreds if not thousands, and every week, their numbers grow. 


The revolution is a manifestation of disgust and frustration over many aspects of our current state of being as a Nation. The wealthiest’ leverage government policies for an unprecedented advantage over everyone else. In a time of the worst economic conditions since the great depression, politicians want to make cuts to the most vulnerable. Austerity measures will cut trillions of dollars to Social Security, Medi-care and Medicade for the needy, yet preserve enormous tax breaks for the wealthiest people and corporations The most difficult aspect of the movement stems from the media itself. The media negatively skew public opinion about the protesters and their cause. Much of this has been attributed to the fact that mainstream media is owned by the vary people they protest against. Mainstream media is the Goliathian obstacle to change. Dan Rather discusses this topic in a recent speech. He states, "Big money owns everything, including the news." This movement is protesting the very corporations and people that own and sponsor the mainstream media. It’s ludicrous to believe impartiality is ever a possibility. Fox News, for example, is owned by Billionaire Rupert Murdoch. On Oct. 3, one headline read, “Read Demands of 'Occupy Wall Street' ... and Try Not to Laugh” Never-mind the fact these demands did not come from the OWS organization; they were posted by a single person on the OWS forum. In fact, no formal demands have ever been written, voted upon or distributed. The Occupy Wall Street website addresses the media’s misuse of the forum post and explicitly states, “hyped by irresponsible news/commentary agencies like Fox News. There is NO official list of demands..” Media blackouts and skewing the truth only embolden the protesters. They know, if they are important enough for propaganda, they must be inflicting fear. Republican Congressman Peter King, on Oct. 7, 2011, states, “We can not allow more media coverage of Occupy Wall Street or they will win.” He later states, “I remember what happened in the 1960s when the left-wing took to the streets and somehow the media glorified them and it ended up shaping policy. We can’t allow that to happen.” Baseless lies have been reported to villify the movement; news anchors like Greg Kelly  station WNYW-​TV, son of NYPD police chief Ray Kelly. Mr. Kelly reported numerous time of a “plan to shut down subway system the November 17th anniversary of the movement. He could not give a source for the “information” and it never happened.  The only way to get an unbiased view of the movement, without actually being there, is to watch it from a live stream. No editing, only live streaming, no chance of skewing the truth.




I wandered down a three foot wide pathway framed by dusty sleeping bags and personal belongings. The articles wrapped around green leaf tree bases. Despite their bedraggled, soiled appearance, the protesters maintained a well-kept park. The bags are rolled tightly and belongings stacked so the Occupy Sanitation group can clean and sweep every morning. No garbage is dropped or left, it’s a daily, 24 hour job for volunteers.
Every pocket of bodies contained a wide motley array of characters and groups ranging from anarchist to human rights. The colorful people were certainly there, but they were vastly outnumbered by average vanilla looking others as well. One question I wanted to get to the bottom of, “Are they rambling soothsayers of doom, or do they have legitimate concerns?” Beside a large pile of curbside boxes and garbage stood a lone, thin man wearing an orange shirt and a black hood shrouding his head. A mild odor of food out too long lingered in the air around him. His brown pizza lid sign demanded in black acrylic paint, “End Torture.” Streaks of orange highlights danced around the words like flickering flames. Dressed in a Gitmo outfit, Bill Hines is a living punctuation of his cause. Right away, there is no doubt how he feels about the torture of prisoners on the Island of Cuba. He is part of an organization that began in 2005 after a group of 25 observers witnessed the treatment of prisoners. Upon arriving back in the states, they started the non-profit group Witness Against Torture. Their methods to end torture are to conduct non-violent protest and civil disobedience. He tells me the cause of out behavior is due , “I think it is a pathology, That leads to our way of life, and it needs this kind of violence.” He feels ultimately, tyrannical methods are incompatible with a democratic society.” During the 10th anniversary of Guantanamo in January, they will conduct a 12 day fast from the 3rd to the 11th, the day of action.
Bill Hines








Dark uniformed barrier of police stood guard around Zuccottii. Despite the “high tensions” between protesters and police, they seemed tranquil and uninterested in much of the activity. Tensions seemed high during marches and when they were ordered to make arrest. Being new to the park, I was warned by many protesters to not harass the police, they were not the concern. This wasn’t my first experience in a scenario like Occupy. I had filmed much of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh. The tension was much higher than the mellow atmosphere in Zuccottii. Down the wall I spotted a young man in his mid-20s holding a sign, “Interview me.” I hopped up on the wall next to him and said, “Ok, I’ll interview you.” He was a very enthusiastic guy who spoke with passion about the young movement. He drove from Wisconsin two days before to counter the bad press OWS was receiving in the mainstream. I couldn’t use his real name, instead he asked me to refer to him as “The V.I.P.” He explained, “It not saying that I am a Very Important Person, it means, Very Inspired Protester.”  His frustration was the powerlessness of the American people over politics and policy. Instead of corporations control our government, this revolution is about putting power back in the hands of the people. He explains the direction of the movement like this, “ I see this happen, first, by unifying all these diverse, independent groups under one banner. Because at a root level all these groups have the same desire. They may not realize it.” It isn’t that everyone must have the same voice for the same causes, it’s more about a respect that other people have other concerns besides the corrupt politicians and the unfair advantages for the rich. V.I.P pauses as if in deep thought, a passer by snaps his picture. “This revolution is about awareness, discussion and unifying people. Giving people a medium to vent their frustrations.”







This was a common theme my entire stay. No single group pushes their agenda ahead of any other group. Mainstream media takes advantage of the abundance of quirky characters, news stories are punctuated with snarky talking-head punchlines and cleverly edited film to televise the “freak show.” But, if this wasn’t done, then people may not dismiss them so quickly. They may begin to listen to what they are actually saying and consider their facts about corrupt deals made with politicians, unfair taxation and the unity of a 99%. Despite the media’s portrayal of painting them as dirty, smelly, entitled hippie slackers who want nothing more than an ember glowing joint passed around a drum circle. Actual measured demographic conjures a different view. One recent study found that 50.4% are full-time employed and 20.4% are employed part-time. Only 13.1% are unemployed; the national average being 8.6%. The current national trends have been the highest unemployment since the Great Depression. Of those employed; 70.5% make less than $50,000 per year and 47.5% earn less than $25,000 annually. Is there any surprise these people are angry? The “slacking hippies” are also highly educated as well. A whopping 92.1% posses some college education. 35% have a bachelor’s and 21.5% have completed graduate degrees. These statistics hardly resemble unemployed caricature built up in the media.




Sign making
After walking around much of the night, I sat down next a slender, woman with auburn hair. She didn’t stick out here in the crowd, but anywhere else, her hippie like demeanor would catch a glance or two. She turned her gaze toward me and gave a little smile, I began to talk with her. Interestingly, Theresa Lee has been involved with the Occupy Wall Street from the beginning and begins to tell the story. “I know about this because myself and a core group of determined people about 20 to 30 wanted to protest Mike Bloomberg’s budget cuts.” She started, “We have always wanted to take it to Wall Street, but unfortunately at the time there were so [many other problems], like the teachers were fighting and it was right in the middle of the gay marriage vote and debate. So we couldn’t get the numbers. In the evening, we would have like three, four hundred people. Then we only had about a hundred people sleep over, then the cops kicked us out onto the sidewalk.” Looking for a location to operate the next occupation became a focus. “We realized that it had to be on private property and that is why we are here in Zuccottii Park. It was given to city under the premise that it was open to all New Yorkers and people have access to the park, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. That was the only place we could be. It’s the one place they can’t kick us out; they would love to, but they can’t.” Other lessons learned from that first experience were the lack of food and water, and temperamental weather conditions, it was brutally hot over the Summer. People suffered small injuries and heat exhaustion, it became obvious that some type of medical response was necessary. These factors all played a roll into the planning of Occupy Wall Street. Theresa goes on to tell me how they prioritized their planning, “We realized that we needed people. We needed donations and the only way the media would pay attention to us is if we had lots and lots of people.”
Cicila stenciling on shirts for OWS donations.


Near our talk a single file line wrapped along the parameter of the park like a serpent winding it’s body around a hapless prey. The head of the line hissed as two female graffiti artist stenciled “I am the 99%” on the white, “I Love New York” shirts. She told me her name was Cecilia. She made up one of the several microcosm of activist groups. “How long have you been out here?” I asked. “I’ve been coming out everyday.” A young man hands her a shirt, she looks up at him with a smile, “Would you like it on the back or front?” “I’d like it across ‘I love New York’.” The canister or red vapor hisses from the can through the stencil. “I haven’t done any [street art] as of yet. I have been tempted to, but I don’t want to antagonize anyone and give the occupy a bad name.” Cilia had just started spraying the shirts a few hours ago but her ball cap was already overflowing with cash. This was one of the ingenious ways the movement raised funds to keep the occupation going.




After my very frigid night on the cement, I woke at the first crack of light. I began wandering around the camp to warm up my stiff, frozen muscles. My neck ached badly, my camera dug into my ear all night. Somehow, the discomfort made the night all the better. It gave me a feel for what these people do everyday to protest for the 99%. With most people still asleep in their bags, it was easier to see the layout of the entire occupation. It was a stark contrast to the high activity of yesterday. At first sight during the day, the protesters resemble the random meandering of ants around a dirt mound more than a well oiled machine. However, after spending some time inside the colony, an ordered chaos begins to emerge. In reality, the occupation is made up of highly organized entities working together in concert to provide the basic necessities for the occupation. I spoke with two organizers who work in the media center for the live-streams. Jessie wore a brown hoody speckled in an array of colors. A black bandanna covered most of his face but his eyes. Long brown hair jutted from the hood along the bandanna onto his shoulders. Kevin was draped in a blanket over his hoody. He smiling from inside the hood, he looked bright eyed and bushy tailed. They told me a lot about the general make up of the occupation. They have been involved from the beginning. The democracy is very similar to the ancient Greek philosophy where everyone has a vote on any detail. It is closer to a true democracy than our current system, in which representatives are given the power to speak for groups.  Protesters criticize that our current system is more plutocracy or a oligarchy than a democracy. Each day a General Assembly will meet. Volunteers will speak for different working groups to update their status and needs. Anyone can attend and vote.

Jessie and Kevin
Kevin: “OWS acts as a platform for everyone. The “General Assembly” is how groups coordinate.”


Jessie: “It’s different people volunteering to work with different level groups. They have their general meetings for planning their activities. People can come to the general assembly. If they approve, they approve, if they don’t, they don’t.”

Jessie: “The groups grow and shrink. Basically it is different people volunteering to work with other groups. They’ll have their own General Meetings to plan their activities. The different groups formed spontaneously. Someone said, ‘We need food.’ So they started a kitchen. Groups will say, ‘Hey can someone help with this?’ and people will just volunteer on day, week or whatever.”


Much of the Mainstream Media paints a disorganized cacaphony of jobless people meandering around a small park.But in reality there are highly organized groups working for different aspects of the occupation. Any type of extended occupation would need specialty jobs and coordination. Near the center of the park consists of protesters wearing red duct-tape crosses on their shoulders and chest. The medical treatment area comprised of volunteer nurses, EMTs and paramedics. Although they are limited by law to only bandage, ice and other basic medical response, they can call for ambulance or send people to the hospital for more serious concerns. The “Comfort Station” provides warm, dry clothing, sleeping bags, tarps and “space blankets” to reflect body heat. A media area serves to ensure the documentation for the outside world. Volunteers sign up to carry cameras to film different demonstrations, marches or workshops. 

The Kitchen




Those videos are later edited and posted on the web. There is a “Press area” for foreign and domestic press to arrange interviews with various protesters, especially when they need someone who speaks another language; security to protect protesters from other protesters or an overly passionate passerby,  mediation to settle intoxicated people, and sanitation to keep the park pristine and ensure proper waste disposal. The kitchen makes breakfast, dinner and provides snacks and seeks food donations. One of the more innovated ideas is the use of  throwing organic scraps into a compost bin, then donated to local farms. The “Direct Action” group is responsible for organizing marches and occupations.

On the outer rim of the encampment is a booth labeled, “Information.” This is a point of contact for visitors and people who want to join the protest. Here they can get information about the different working groups, where to get food, supplies or anything else they may need. If they have a certain skill and would like to volunteer, this is the place to be directed. Working in the Information Booth on the sidewalk covered scores of passer-bys who gawk and snap photos is Daniel. 

Daniel




He doesn’t look like your iconic revolutionary; he is your “run of the mill” average college student with a quiet demeanor. That is, until you have him talk about the movement. Passionately he begins, “I am amazed how organized it is given the chaotic nature this kind of assembly. I am impressed with the library, all the decision making bodies in the working groups. I mean, it is outside, there are certainly people sleeping in sleeping bags, it has the appearance of being chaotic and messy but really it is quite organized. We have health care, we have comfortization, people are taken care of, they are fed with healthy food.” “So what is the Occupy movement to you?” I ask. “To really get a sense of what Occupy is about, you have to go there. So someone who is living in Michigan, you will have to go down to their local occupation and really experience what they are about. It’s what is going to take away the narrative of what the Mainstream media wants to paint it as, and turn it into what it really is, which is about democracy, people power.” 

The Compost

That’s funny, cause the media can’t seem to see any rhyme or reason. Why do you think that is? “It’s funny because a lot of people in the mainstream media and traditional power are really confused by it, they are like, ‘This is messy, this is chaotic’ But this is actually what democracy looks like. Democracy is messy, democracy appears chaotic, but manages to arise at good decisions that benefit everybody.”  

Bill Shier

After talking with Daniel, I became distracted by a middle aged, stout man waving a large white flag. The Banner flashed a dove carrying an olive branch over the “VeteransForPeace.org” website address. Bill Shier looked like a typical proud grand father. He had a neatly shaved white goat tee to match his hair poking out from his ball cap. He wore a tide dye long sleeve shirt over his “Veterans for Peace” purple shirt. I pulled out my voice recorder and asked him for an interview. He sprung off the flower bed wall and gave me an enthusiastic, “sure!” I started, “Besides the obvious, what is Veterans for Peace about?” He smiled, “We are down here, not only because we are against it [war], we are against the corporations that profit from it. Such as Halliburton.” Bill is a Vietnam Vet and now a member of the Chapter 34 Veterans for Peace. “We’re sick and tired of people making money off dead bodies, and wounded minds, coming back ruined for life. It’s unnecessary. If we want to go after the terrorist then use the Navy SEALs or something like that. We don’t need to send 100,000 troops to some black hole like Afghanistan. We should have learned our lesson from Vietnam, don’t go where you are not wanted.” How do you feel about the movement? “Even if we are poor, we can still get together in large enough numbers to make an impact and make this whole Wall Street crime scene part of the political discussion.”


Discussing the next General Assembly Meeting
It is easy to take this diverse group of people and paint the picture of fuzzy logic and directionless meandering. An absence of a designated leader or list of demands also dumbfounds much of the mainstream media. They are all working together for a common goal, eliminating the unfair advantage of the 1% wealthiest over the rest of the 99% of the population. Mainstream pretends to be blind to the sea of signs chanting “Tax the Rich,” and “Worst government money can buy.” Where is the ambiguity in those messages? The mainstream’s refusal to acknowledge their complaints does not illegitimize their complaints. On October 7th, the Congressional Research Service released their report, “An Analysis of the ‘Buffett Rule’.” The report found that two thirds of people who earn more than one million dollars annually pay the lower tax rate of 15% on average over a typical 30% for middle class families. The “American Dream” is dead, the wealthiest families control most of the wealth and leveraging policy making though campaign funding. The top 1% own 43% of all the wealth, the next 19% own 50%, so just 20% of all American households control 93% of all the wealth. Insult to injury comes when the wealthiest corporations do not hire at times of record profits and outsource middle class jobs. July 1, 2012, the U.S. government will eliminate subsidized loans for graduate students. The double talk spoken by politicians is maddening. Where is the commitment to grow the middle class?




Worst yet, Tom Courbon U.S. Senator released this article breaking down billions of dollars in government subsidies for millionaires. For instance, millionaires have received $9 billion in retirement checks, $21 billion in gambling losses, $74 million in unemployment checks, $608 million in business entertainment deductions. Who’s welfare funds are pulling down this country? The welfare of the poor at $80 million dollars, or the millionaire’s welfare. This was only a small sampling of the wealth given in tax deductions for the entitled rich.
            
The Occupy movement may or may not be a revolution but it is an alarm. It could be just smoke from the stove, and be harmless, but it could be warning us the house is on fire. The question is, will the rest of the country wake up in time. So far, their only response has been propaganda and media blackouts. The issues are real and the movement is real, neither is going away.




A slim young man with scraggly brown hair stands in front of a large crowd “Mic Check” A sea of people booms in unison, “MIC CHECK.” He repeats, “Mic Check,” the horde repeats again, “MIIIIC CHECK.” "WHEN I SAY SOMETHING" The crowd repeats, "When I say something." "YOU REPEAT IT" "You repeat it" "THIS IS WHAT WE CALL" "This is what we call" "THE PEOPLE'S MIC" "The people's mic." Because the New York Police forbids the use of intercoms, the protesters utilize the technique, The People’s Mic. When a speaker talks everyone repeats back what they heard; sometimes it’s reverberated for two or three more tiers. “The people united will never be defeated.” Then follows with the chant, “WE ARE THE 99%” Marches in themselves do not bring about change. They do send a message out to others that say, “We feel the same way you do. There are many others just like us. We are ready to do something.” Occupy Wall Street has served this purpose and many others. It has started dialogs across the country and across the oceans. 1,600 cities worldwide are now chanting in unison, “If you are ready for change, then so are we.” 
Brooke Prigg




The boldest changes may come in 2012 if the Occupies can synchronize well enough to elect out the two ruling parties from Congress and the Senate, Democrats and Republicans. At an approval rating of just 9%, and the mobilization of the American people, the chance has never been better to make this historic change. Until this happens, no significant changes will ever come. Until then, the Occupy Movement will continue to fight their Goliaths, mainstream media, corrupt political parties and the 1%. Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”