Wednesday, November 23, 2011

O Verdugo!

American Public Media's segment Marketplace has been running stories on my hometown of San Bernardino and the Inland Empire region all week. Every morning I drive into work listening to NPR and feel my heartstrings ache to hear stories about "Verdugo" (as the thugs call it) and Rialto, where I lived on my own and first organized as a socialist. 17% unemployment, epidemic-level foreclosures, businesses shutting down and boarding up.

Today's article in particular hit me hard because it was an issue my friends and I noticed and discussed a lot in political terms. Why is the area so religious? Why is it so conservative? Along with crime and drugs and alcohol abuse, pollution and traffic and apathy, the religious thing colors the IE with crayons of nihilism. This community seems nigh suicidal.

So I had to write a comment, and I'm reproducing it below:

I spent the first 25 years of my life growing up in San Bernardino. I had to move to Minneapolis, Minnesota with internet friends to get a real job, even after 4 years of college. This was just ~before~ the recession hit - the economy in the Inland Empire is nothing short of abominable. I was always disappointed when members of the community turned towards religion in times of hardship. It's a rather conservative area and voted Republican for as long as I was conscious of politics. Republican strategy seemed to strangle the Inland Empire, and the Democratic Party - disorganized, no message, Republican-lite when it gathered influence at all - hardly bothers with the area.

Having blinded themselves to politics, never banding together in an economic sense, struggling with poisonously high real estate costs ... and then to turn to religion? It never failed to look like escapism to me. The same with the meth epidemic, or the rampant alcoholism. I don't generally have a problem with Christianity, and I especially appreciate it when churches provide services to the poor - services gutted from county, state, and federal levels of government. But the brainwashing makes me uneasy, as do the homophobia and oppression of women and the, yes, racism - not all churches accept blacks and Latinos.

Even as an aid to the poor, these churches only address the symptoms, not the disease. The real disease is an economy that systematically keeps down the poor. Prison rates in the IE are huge. Gangs are a problem because there are no concrete, constructive alternatives. The school system is a wreck. No churches can possibly alleviate all the conditions that cause these problems. The region needs good jobs that pay a living wage and keep cash in the local economy rather than sending it to faraway home offices and Wall Street as profits and investments for the few. Sadly, until then all churches can provide is an sedative for the groaning, pained residents living in this post-industrial wasteland I'm pained to call my home town.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

OWS evicted from Zucotti - not over yet

Thank you for the invitation. I give you, a post!
OWS was evicted in the dead of night early 11/15. I can't imagine who thought it would be a good idea. From Twitter:
" 'NYPD Counter Terrorism' unit sent in. Unfuckingbelievable when the terrorists are @ Goldman Sachs."
"#OWS RT @NewYorkObserver: Here with credentialed photogs from NYT, WSJ and Reuters they're also being barred from #occupywallstreet"
"Isn't it against the law for the NYPD to bar credentialed press from entry to Zuccotti and #occupywallstreet? What are they trying to hide?"
"#OWS NYPD breaking domestic and international laws right now. livestreams: 1. 2."
"Watching NYPD laugh as they tear up the library. This is like Fahrenheit 451. Or Clockwork Orange. #ows ... t-by-nypd/"
‎"@wilw @occupywallst BBC reporting NYPD barred press from observing. Reporter quoted saying "I'm Press", Officer: "Not tonight"."
"FRONT PAGE of the @nytimes using the #OccupyWallStreet livestream as media is denied entry into Zuccotti Park #OWS"
"Residents near Zuccotti Park not being allowed out of building to watch; NYPD telling doormen to lock up, per reporter Melissa Russo."
"NYPD has closed the airspace above the park to prevent news helicopters from filming them. It's an unprecedented violation of free press."

Capital has used their mercenary arm to remove the inconvenience in Zucotti Park, the nexus of the OWS movement. They are, perhaps, under some illusion that this will be the end. Clearly they are not inhabiting the same reality as the rest of us. You do not kill a story about the fascist takeover of our economic and political process with a fascist takeover, particularly when you go out of your way to violate Constitutional rights.

You see, there's an ever bigger fuck-up in all this than the jackbooted thugs themselves, and that's the barring of the news media from covering it. Who the hell thought that would work? The NYPD seems to think they can boldly restrict information and cover up major actions and nobody will notice. They think they can kill a story just by blocking news coverage of it. That's a bold violation of Freedom of the Press, and corrupt though they may be you can be certain the Press in NYC will notice and react. On top of that, smartphones were on hand, and in hours the activities of the fascist army of Capital will be all over the internet in video and picture form. They will also be all over the traditional media, because the media won't have its own materials and will instead be going to the "citizen journalists".

So then, if the goal was to kill OWS and end public opposition to private ownership of our government, this eviction will be a massive failure. That should not be a surprise. Every time Capital has reacted to the existence of opposition to it, they have overreacted. I don't think they can help it. I don't think they know how to have a measured and reasonable response to opposition, perhaps because it has been so long since they truly faced any.

Capital should have called up their old puppet George W for some advice. When people were protesting his ridiculous and costly illegal war in Iraq, he just ignored them. When Cindy Sheehan was occupying space along a road near Bush's ranch in Texas, he just ignored them. And for the most part it worked. Bush was able to stay in Iraq, funnelling contracts to his buddies in the defense industry, until he left office. Obama, himself an ally of Capital and the 1% (populist costuming to the contrary), was able to use opposition to the war to get himself elected. Then he started another war, kept Gitmo open, and expanded a pattern of illegal drone-based assassinations (lately even of minors and US citizens), but that's neither here nor there.

Point being, the only way for Capital to fight a movement like this, the only way that will ever succeed, is to ignore it. Period. If you mention it at all, decry them as whining kids, and leave it at that. Of course, I wholeheartedly support OWS and the Occupy events and camps throughout the country. I only provide the method of the movement's defeat because of my absolute certainty that this method will not be used by the forces of Capital. They can't. It's not something they are capable of doing, restraint is not a word in their vocabulary.

Instead we will see the mercenary police forces (and when they receive massive donations from Capital and ignore the will of the public to carry out the will of Capital, could they be described as anything other than mercenaries?) continue to overreach. They will continue to trample Constitutional rights. They will continue to react disproportionate to the situation. And in return, the movement will continue to grow. Like steel tempered by blows, the resistance will make it stronger. It may even come to a revolution.

Now, I mention constitutional rights not because I think there's an mystical sacred significance to the document, but because most Americans do, and most Americans are under the illusion that it means a damn. It's easy to believe you have freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, when nobody is trying to remove these freedoms from you. What Capital is doing is they are dispelling the notion in the mind of the public that the public actually possesses these freedoms in anything other than name. But when you provide the public with clear physical evidence that they do not have freedom, you make the condition ripe for a revolution to gain the freedoms we've been told we have.

I can think of few moves worse for Capital to have made than to boldly attack the freedom of the Press as they did in Zucotti last night.