Sunday, December 11, 2011

Weird Dream with a Side of Satisfaction

I just had the strangest dream I think I've ever had.  I dreamed that my tiny little cow town actually had a solidarity protest for 12/12.  About 25 people showed up and paced back in forth while chanting in front of our local B of A.  

Since the local-yokel cops around here are not used to anything like that they flipped out and chased us in a figure eight  around the two blocks of our downtown, and their cop shop is on the opposite end of the block from the center of town.  Yes, that means they chased us right past it.  It seems that they are very unclear on the concept of "kettling."  

Eventually a bunch of us stood up to them and just sat down in the middle of the central intersection of the central downtown district.  I taught them how to link arms and keep their thumbs in.  We were perfectly non-violent, and none of us even taunted the cops.  Still, it was declared an unlawful assembly.  So, they separated us, zip-tied our wrists and walked us down the block to the cop shop.  

Now, our cop shop is very, very small.  It has only one holding cell where those who are in custody await being taken to the county seat for "real" processing.  They process a few people here, but usually it is for some sort of infraction.  So, since failure to disperse isn't serious, they S-L-O-W-L-Y processed us and had us wait our turn sitting down in the hallway.  Because I have carpal tunnel syndrome and my mother owns our local bail bond company, they allowed me to have my zip-ties in front.  

Some file clerk or something had brought her toddler to work that day for some reason and I stopped him from eating fake candy canes on the city hall fake Christmas tree.  (Nobody around here complains about stuff like that.)  I wasn't supposed to get up, but the cops here aren't so very bound to the "rules" that they would rather someone sat and watched a baby seriously get hurt.  So, I found the mother and gave her her child.  She was very appreciative-- until she realized I was a *gasp* "dirty hippy protester."  

Yes, in case you haven't guessed it, my town is the town that with the demographic at which Fox "News" aims their nonsense.  And yes, people here really do fall for that crap hook, line and sinker.  I mean, the town is about 30% Mormon, so that should tell you something right there.  I fully expect that I'm the only atheist/waffling agnostic in town.

So, once the new Chief of Police arrived I kept asking him to talk to me.  I wanted him to just drop the charges against the protesters since we hadn't done anything except yell slogans and sit down in the middle of our version of Main Street, which by the way had no traffic.  And if it had have had any, I'm sure the protesters would have moved to one side to let the car pass.  Eventually he had to go through the hall and I jumped on my chance.  He agreed to drop the charges against everyone else if we would stay out of the street and keep the noise to a minimum.  I did a mic check and the protesters agreed.  

Then Mr. Chief of Police had an officer put a GPS ankle monitor on me (since I was seen as "the leader,"), patted me on the butt and sent us on our way.  Lots of other protesters saw this and there was an audible gasp.  After all the new Chief is black (at least in my dream) and I am not.  Yeah, that was their problem with what he had done.  Hank Williams, Jr. was all kinds of right when he sang, "They're from north California and South Alabam, and little towns all around this land."

He looked around nervously and then quickly went behind a locked door in the police section of the building.  So, we were all literally cut loose.  A few went back to quietly picket and the rest of us went home.

A friend of mine called me, sick and in pain and asked me if I would take a risk to get her some medicinal marijuana from her co-op.  She'd already called ahead and told them I was coming.  What could I do but say yes.  Debilitating pain is something I understand all too well.

So, her co-op is just at a house with good security in a middle class neighborhood in another, bigger town.  So I take care of what I needed to take care of, stashing her stash in the trunk under some coats and blankets.  But someone I really wanted to talk to lived right next door.

It would seem that a young man who was well on his way to becoming a south-Asian Mark Zuckerberg   A town about 20 minutes south of here has the largest Indian population in the US.  Anyway, he and his father were outside.  They were talking about his plans to remodel the house he'd grown up in.  He'd bought his parents the party pad and he'd taken his childhood home.  So, I asked to speak with him and his father kept reminding him that he wasn't getting any younger and that he needed a wife, wink, wink.  Never mind the fact that I'm beyond child-bearing age.

Well, it turned out that he was outside talking to his father because he had a crack whore hidden inside the house.  After we said goodbye to his father we went inside and I got my first glimpse of his lady of the evening.  She thought I was the competition and tried to cause a big scene, but I just shut her outside of the front door and locked it.  I pitched him my ideas  that he sponsor our high school so that kids could come out of there and either be truly prepared to succeed in college or learn a trade so that they could go into an apprenticeship after graduating.  I also proposed that he set up free wi-fi for the town and give all the school kids those nifty little green Linux notebook computers like the ones they give kids in Africa, so they had a real chance at success.

Just as I was getting that all wrapped up the cops showed up.  It seems that the crack-ho had called them on me because of my ankle bracelet.  She had told them that I was trying to scam the young Mr. Internet Billionaire.  He told them that I wasn't trying to rip him off and that he was going to do the things I'd asked him to do, but it didn't matter because I was farther than I was allowed to go.  Then they searched my car.

Great.  Now I was a multiple offender.  No way was I going to talk my way out of it, no matter who said I wasn't doing anything wrong.  Just as I was being shoved into the back seat of a squad car and the tow truck was there to pick up my car, even though it was parked legally, I woke up.  Oh yeah, and I had to ask to use the bathroom three times in that dream.  I think I only woke up because I had to hit the loo.

In spite of all the bad stuff that happened in my dream, I still had a feeling of satisfaction because I'd convinced my new friend to help the kids in my hometown.  Mr. Zuckerberg, are you listening?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

OccupySF Raid

I just watched the raid of OccupySF.  What a sad night for the occupiers.  The cops broke everything up, ripped tents apart, tossed everything in a garbage truck.  I don't know what gives them the right to steal people's possessions.  It's not right.  The things that the MSM will report as x number of pounds of "trash" is actually real people's personal property.  For some it was everything they had left.  I saw a perfectly good bicycle get thrown in the "trash."  They took all the stuff from the kitchen that was giving away over one thousand meals each day.  They threw away the medical tent and everything in the medical tent.  They took the books in the library and the protesters "university."  Some people undoubtedly had medications that they need in those tents or in backpacks, which were also thrown away.  All of that stuff will be called garbage by the MSM later today.  But it wasn't just "garbage" like the MSM will undoubtedly say it was. 

I am so angry now that I am ready to start asking to borrow a wheelchair, pack up my medications and go to the shutdown of the Port of Oakland on December 12th.  I am a disabled person who can't get disability to save my life-- literally. I don't take morphine as a recreational drug.  I take it because I am in that much pain, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  I have asthma and if the OPD beats me, tear gasses me or pepper sprays me, I will likely die.  This is a cause for which I am willing to be a martyr.  That's how much this movement means to me.

If we occupiers are successful it means that taxes will be collected more fairly, it means that politics will be demonetized, it means that politicians will once again work for the people they represent as opposed to the highest bidder.  Success means single-payer health care and the elimination of life-long FREE health care for politicians.  Success means that corporations are not people.  Success means that the pay-scale in corporate America will treat workers more fairly and that CEOs will not be earning 3,000 times what the average worker in their company gets paid.  Success means the end of outsourcing jobs outside of America.  Success means that people will not have to go into life-long debt to go to college.  Success means new laws for Wall Street and fairness for banking customers.  Success means that our food supply will not be controlled by Monsanto and that genetically modified foods will not be allowed in the food chain.  Success means that animals intended for food will be treated humanely.  Success means that people will be treated humanely and fairly.  Success means that my son and his children, if he chooses to have any, WILL have a chance to have a better life than I have had.

When I married my son's father he was a Laborer's Union member who worked as a hard rock driller and blaster.  Yes, he blew things up for a living.  Specifically, a mountain.  The rock he helped to produce was used for both rip-rapping (a method of averting erosion in rivers) which the environmentalists hated AND as "fish rock" meant to be used by fish, salmon specifically, for spawning, which was much LOVED by the environmentalists.  The SAME rock.  No, it doesn't make any sense.

When we got married in 1984 he was making $15.41 per hour. Pretty good wages for the time.  Roughly five times minimum wage.  Within six months he got a dollar an hour raise.  This job required LOTS of overtime and 70 hour work weeks were not unusual.  Luckily, we lived in a travel trailer at his job site during the week and on the weekends we went home to a peaceful mountain village.  

We had no electricity at the quarry, nor did we have running water.  I had to haul drinking water and ice for the huge ice chest we had.  I could usually haul enough water to last a couple of days.  I had to drive 20 minutes into town every day for ice.  In winter it was freezing.  In summer it was unbearably hot, some days it was 115 degrees Fahrenheit.  No A/C.  But it wasn't a wholly bad place to live.  The wildlife was amazing.  

Bald eagles and peregrine falcons hunted by day and bats by the millions swarmed the skies in the evenings.    The bats would fly so close that I could feel the wind generated by their wings.  The quarry was virtually on the bank of Deer Creek and the cool water was particularly nice on those hot days.  The water was filled with fish and there were beavers, turtles and all sorts of snakes-- particularly rattlesnakes.  I kept my broom just outside the door so that I could sweep the step and under the step before walking outside.  I had to if I didn't want to be bitten.  It was a hard way to live, but for that kind of money, you put up with it.  It seemed fair.

My now ex-husband usually does gold mine work now because the types of projects that used the rock he produced at the quarry are no longer being done.  The pay rate for mine work is much higher because it's hazard pay.  Were he working the same quarry job he would only be getting paid about five dollars an hour more than he made way back then.  He has 28 more years of experience now and working in a mine is MUCH more dangerous, but he only makes about twice as much as he did back then.  Unfortunately, this is non-union job that he took because it pays more.   Even so, it hasn't really kept pace with the cost of living.

The point of my trip down memory lane is that it still felt like a middle class person could get ahead back then.  It doesn't feel that way anymore and that's a shameful situation for America.  That is why I support the Occupy Movement.

(Updated on 12/11 to add tags.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

More Men Like This Man, Please!

The purpose of this blog is to allow me to write stream of consciousness essays on my own personal thoughts.  My thoughts the last few years have become more and more political.  It seems the more I learn, the less I agree with the governance of the United States.

At this particular moment I'm especially interested in the Occupy Movement.  I have been expecting something like this movement for a couple of decades.  What I want to know is what took so long?

If this blog actually gets any traffic, which is highly unlikely, but IF it does, I will put a little ad on here and have it directly contributed to Spencer Mills, AKA @OakFoSho on Twitter and  Spencer is a brilliant young independent citizen journalist/editorialist who is covering the Occupy Movement, particularly in Oakland, his home town.  If you would like to know more about him, view his videos of either Occupy Oakland or his trip to Occupy LA just click here.  

He has recently taken a leave of absence from his job (that he loves) working at a gym in order to be able to document the movement.  There is a link on his page that allows him to take donations so that he can continue his important work.  In the spirit of transparency he also is documenting every donated penny spent, whether it's for travel expenses, living expenses or equipment. 

Granted, he was amazingly overqualified for a gym job.  He has a BA and an MBA from Loyola-Marymount University.  He graduated in 2008, just in time for the bottom to fall out of the jobs market, the real estate market, the stock market and every other damn thing.

When law enforcement threatens violence against peaceful demonstrators he gets right in their faces with his camera, tells the viewers the names and/or badge numbers of the rule breakers, and tells them how many thousands of people all around the world are watching them, live.  He has been tear gassed, shot with pepper spray filled paint balls and has had police point their weapons directly at his head at point blank range, with a finger on the trigger-- something that is expressly against policy.  

I was lucky enough to have been there from his first broadcast the night the protesters shut down the Port of Oakland, and I've been hooked ever since.  When he made his famous "run for the battery" I was right there with him, sitting on pins and needles and cheering him on all night long.  I can't tell you the last time a man has kept me up all night just listening to him talk, but this young man can do that. 

When UStream saw what a fantastic job he was doing they loaned him a multi-provider six modem unit so that if AT&T stops working it switches over to Verizon or Sprint.  It also has three or four batteries that keep everything running and a high resolution Sony Handycam video camera with night vision capabilities.  The pack weighs something like 40 pounds, so he still uses the Android phone he started with if he's just interviewing occupiers, touring camps or answering viewer questions in real time via the chat and social media streams at UStream.

What an impressive, smart and dedicated young man he is.  If there were more people like Spencer Mills this would be a much better world.

(Edited on 12/11 to update cell phone service information.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Mell of a Hess

It's been over four years since I wrote in this blog.  I guess I just gave up.  I haven't even written in my VIP (Very Important Personal) blog in ages because...  well, the pressures of the outside world have just become unbearable when combined with the pressures of my inner world.  

My health continues to deteriorate.  Six months ago I actually died for a couple of minutes until the hospital got me breathing again.  It happened while I was being scoped for a bleeding ulcer.  I got three units of blood and video footage of the inside of my stomach.  Just pills I have prescriptions for and blood I'm told.  Oh yeah, and a hole a couple of centimeters across.  No wonder my appetite was shit, huh?  

So... I've been avidly following the goings on at the various Occupies around the country.  It surely looks like a revolution to me.  Economically, socially, politically... I just don't think things could be much worse.  There are fewer and fewer middle-class families every day.  There are more and more homeless families every day.  

Years ago there was a movie about a future America where the middle class lived in station wagons and those on lower rungs lived in smaller and smaller cars.  And nobody ever actually drove those cars, there wasn't any gas.  It's almost come to that.  

I first predicted a second civil war way back in the mid-80s-- to my grandmother.  She was horribly afraid of that idea.  But I didn't see any other way of "fixing" the problems I saw all around me in our country back then, and it's only gotten worse every day since then.  

My grandmother, both maternal grandparents, actually, were the only people on this earth who always loved me unconditionally my entire life, until I had my son.  (My mother has stated that she doesn't believe in "unconditional love," and I never even met my father until my first birthday, so he wasn't around.)  My son's love of me is unconditional, as is mine for him.  He is 26 now, and still the light of my life.  I'm very proud of him.  He's like me politically, too.  Except he doesn't really understand the Occupy movement, or the entire concept of Occupy.  He keeps telling me that the occupiers aren't DOING anything.  He didn't grow up in the 60s and 70s like I did.  He just doesn't understand how non-violent protest works.  He's dyslexic so I can't just say, go read a book on the history of non-violent protest.  He's also a college student.  I've tried to explain the Occupy Movement to him until I'm blue in the face, but there is only so much time I can pry out of his day.  He understands the why, just not the how.  

We have a government that is controlled by an oligarchy.  The 1% own virtually everything.  Even our elected officials.  There is no such thing as "of the people, by the people and for the people" anymore.  Nearly all of our Senators and Congressmen are millionaires now, and if they aren't already millionaires when they arrive in DC, the lobbyists and insider trading will make them millionaires in no time.  Almost none of them are playing by the rules and are actually fit to run this country.  We elect them because of their great campaign promises to be "different" or bring "change," and all we ever get is more of the same.  Same, same, same.  Except... not really.  There IS change, it's just that it's change for the worse.

There is no job security in this country for the 99%.  If they are lucky enough to have a job, odds are it's a minimum wage service industry job.  No benefits, or if there are benefits of any kind, they can't afford to buy them, so people just do without.  The oligarchs are not going to be happy until everyone of the 99% is working for minimum wage and nothing more.  Minimum wage IS the new slave labor, make no mistake.  And debt is the slave's master.  

Education has become so expensive that few students manage to get a college degree without tens of thousands of dollars of debt.  Predatory banks have made debt a certainty by giving students easy access to credit cards.  In the words of Tennessee Ernie Ford, "One fist of iron, the other of steel, If the right one don't a-get you, Then the left one will."   

Banks are illegally foreclosing on people's homes and the rate of homelessness is skyrocketing.  Homeless shelters, soup kitchens and charity food pantries cannot keep up with demand.  And yet, as a country, we seem to have plenty of money to militarize our police, fight multiple wars for oil in the middle east, have a never ending supply of foreign aid to countries that spend all of their own money on wars and genocides, and let's not forget, bail out the banksters to the tune of $7.7 TRILLION, with an interest rate of less than 1/100 of 1%.

Politicians aren't listening to anyone but the lobbyists who are paid by the 1%.  All of the Republican Presidential candidates have promised to NEVER raise taxes in their lifetimes.  They also promise to overturn Roe v. Wade, bring back DADT, reinforce DOMA, and all sorts of other regressive policies.

The Occupiers are actively trying to help.  The camps are feeding anyone who is hungry, giving warm clothing to anyone who has none, and trying to shelter anyone who has nowhere else to go.  They are attempting to connect people with diverse needs with the holey safety net programs that still exist.  Many Occupy camps are just overwhelmed.  I saw a tweet recently that asked the question "What if all the money spent on controlling the Occupiers had been spent on social services instead?"  What if, indeed.

So, how do we fix this?  I just don't know.  I hope that non-violent protest is enough, but I am afraid that factions will break off from the Occupy Movement and start fighting back against the 1% and their soldiers, the police forces all over the country and indeed, the world.  They are already starving us out, denying us medical treatment, taking our shelter and sending their goons in to tear gas, pepper spray, terrify and brutalize us.  People are angry and they are getting angrier every day.

I wish the 1% could understand that they can't be the 1% if they kill all of us off like so many fleas.  Without us, they are nothing.  Without jobs, health care, shelter and food we will all die.  I wonder if they even realize that without us the tip top of the oligarchy would start preying on the "lower" rungs of the oligarchy?  I wonder if those at the tip top really want to end up alone in the world just sitting on piles of worthless cash?  What would be the point of that?  Is there ever such a thing as ENOUGH for them?  I mean, what is the point of owning everything if there isn't anyone around to lord it over?

As my beloved grandfather used to say, "It's one mell of a hess."