Tag Archives: Occupy Wall Street movement

Assorted shit Sunday!

Updated below

Oakland is burning!

Occupy Oakland protestors burn an American flag found inside Oakland City Hall during an Occupy Oakland protest on the steps of City Hall, Saturday, January 28, 2012, in Oakland, Calif.  (AP Photo/Beck Diefenbach)

Associated Press photo

So hundreds of people were arrested in Oakland yesterday and last night, a night during which some individuals reportedly broke into Oakland City Hall, snatched an American flag, and burned it in protest.

The responses to this incident are interesting.

Stealing a presidential electionthat’s perfectly OK. Starting bogus wars in the Middle East that result in the deaths of thousands and thousands and thousands of innocent people and loot the U.S. Treasury of trillions of the people’s tax dollars via the military-industrial complex — that’s perfectly OK. Wall Street weasels causing the nation an economic meltdown that’s perfectly OK. The housing bubble, the student-loan shark industry, rampant unemployment, global warming caused by corporate greed — all of that is perfectly OK.

But some “thugs” burned an American flag? Intolerable!

One of my favorite sayings of Jesus Christ’s is one of his many slams of the hypocritical religious authorities (the Pharisees) of his day (today we call these hypocrites “Christians”) — in this slam, he tells them, “You strain out a gnat but you swallow a camel.”

An American flag burned: that would be a gnat. The egregious shit that I listed above, the blatant acts of treason against the American people: that would be a camel. And the staple of the American diet is the camel.

The plutocratic traitors and the traitors who aid and abet the plutocrats are damned fucking lucky that the only price that they’ve had to pay for their treason thus far is some relatively petty vandalism.

And for the record, the individuals pictured above look like anarchists to me, and while I’m not slamming the anarchists, I know from personal experience that if you hold a protest, anyone can show up, and that you cannot control everything that might happen at a protest, and that your presence at a protest does not, of course, mean that you personally endorse every sign, every message, every person, every act that might, in the end, make up that protest.

It’s easy (and maybe even fun) to generalize a group of people, but it’s inaccurate and it’s intellectually dishonest to do so.

I mean, the caption for the news photo above reads, “Occupy Oakland protestors burn an American flag found inside Oakland City Hall during an Occupy Oakland protest on the steps of City Hall, Saturday, January 28, 2012, in Oakland, Calif.”

“Occupy Oakland protestors”? How do we know whether these individuals consider themselves to be part of the Occupy movement? Or whether Oakland’s Occupy movement claims them? How do we know that they are not opportunists (anarchists, usually) who showed up at the protest in hopes of doing what they did? How do we know that they aren’t even right-wing plants attempting to discredit the Occupy Wall Street movement?

The right wing would love to make this kind of thing the face of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but that’s propagandistic bullshit. For better or for worse (I lean toward it being for the worse), the majority of OWS’ers are nonviolent.

Of course, the right wing isn’t nonviolent. The right wing and the plutocrats whom the wingnuts support love death and destruction on a massive scale — witness Vietraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the Middle East — that our tax dollars fund.

Massive death and destruction perpetrated by the right wing is perfectly fine, but some relatively petty vandalism perpetrated in protest against the right wingthat’s absofuckinglutely intolerable.

And for the wingnuts to assert that President Barack Obama and the rest of the establishment Democrats fully support OWS — that’s another load of propagandistic right-wing bullshit. Obama took more money from the Wall Street weasels for his 2008 presidential campaign than John McCainosaurus did.

The establishment Dems might be careful not to alienate some of those OWS’ers whose votes (and maybe even campaign contributions) they still might get, but there has been no robust show of support for OWS from the Obama White House, which has been as missing in action in regards to OWS and OWS’ cause as it has been in the fight in Wisconsin to prevent the right-wing traitors there from destroying what’s left of our labor unions.

Oakland is one of our nation’s poorer cities, and at some point in the midst of such egregious income disparity, something has to give. I’m just surprised that what we’ve seen thus far has been all that we’ve seen thus far.

Multi-millionaire Mitt cannot feel your pain

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney returns a baby to his mother in the audience at a campaign rally at Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City

Reuters photo

Mitt Romney campaigns in Florida yesterday. Gee, maybe the kid’s crying because he can see his future: In November the do-nothing President Hopey-Changey will be re-elected, or Mitt Romney, who is estimated to be 50 times richer than Barack Obama, will be elected to preside over the American economy, which in the Repugnican Tea Party’s book has left way too many millionaires and billionaires behind. 

You should read this little Associated Press article on how Mitt Romney, should he become president, would be one of the Wealthiest. U.S. Presidents. Ever. It begins:

Just how rich is Mitt Romney? Add up the wealth of the last eight presidents, from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. Then double that number. Now you’re in Romney territory.

He would be among the richest presidents in American history if elected — probably in the top four.

He couldn’t top George Washington who, with nearly 60,000 acres and more than 300 slaves, is considered the big daddy of presidential wealth. After that, it gets complicated, depending how you rate Thomas Jefferson’s plantation, Herbert Hoover’s millions from mining or John F. Kennedy’s share of the vast family fortune, as well as the finer points of factors like inflation adjustment.

But it’s safe to say the Roosevelts had nothing on Romney, and the Bushes are nowhere close.

The former Massachusetts governor has disclosed only the broad outlines of his wealth, putting it somewhere from $190 million to $250 million. That easily could make him 50 times richer than Obama, who falls in the still-impressive-to-most-of-us range of $2.2 million to $7.5 million. …

This, very apparently, is the right wing’s answer to the nation’s main problem of insane wealth disparity: more of the same. Who could better feel the socioeconomic pain of the average American than the man whom the experts say would be one of the top four wealthiest U.S. presidents ever?

If you truly don’t know why they’re tearing up Oakland these days, you need to have your head surgically removed from your ass.

Prick Perry’s getting no love at home

Republicans Debate

Associated Press photo

Rick Perry refers to his crib sheets during a Repugnican Tea Party presidential primary debate.

I’d thought that Texans are so fucking stupid that Rick Perry wouldn’t suffer politically there from his disastrous run for the presidency, but apparently Perry hasn’t received a warm homecoming. Reports Reuters:

Austin, Texas — Gov. Rick Perry has gotten a rocky welcome home to Texas, facing low poll numbers and criticism over state expenses related to his failed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Travel for Perry’s security team cost the state nearly $800,000 between September and November, according to a new report from the state Department of Public Safety.

The money paid for airfare, food and hotels for the governor’s protective detail during trips both in Texas and to out-of-state locations such as Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Manchester, New Hampshire.

The longest-serving governor in Texas history was briefly the frontrunner among Republican presidential contenders, but he stumbled with poor debate performances and gaffes — including his memorable “oops” when he couldn’t recall the third federal agency he wanted to eliminate. He dropped out of the race last week.

His campaign paid many expenses, but the state provides security for the governor and first lady. That’s been the policy in Texas for decades, gubernatorial spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said.

“Governor Perry is governor no matter where he goes,” Nashed told Reuters in an e-mail. “It’s unfortunate that we live in a day and age where security is an issue.”

Democrats say he should repay that money.

“Unnecessary government spending is not just morally wrong, it is criminal,” state House Democratic Leader Jessica Farrar wrote Perry in a letter this week asking him to give the Texas comptroller a check for expenses related to out-of-state campaigning.

A poll of Texas adults released this week by the state’s major daily newspapers showed Perry’s job approval rating at 40 percent, the lowest level in 10 years. Forty percent said they disapproved of how Perry was doing as governor.

Still, Perry has proved politically resilient over the years. Until he launched his presidential bid, he’d never lost an election.

It’s time for Perry to step aside, methinks, and let someone else run the show. (I’m not alone; a recent poll of Texans shows that more than half of them believe that he shouldn’t run for re-election in 2014.) I have to wonder if Perry’s quixotic run for the White House indicates that he is burned out as the red state’s longest-serving governor.

Still, it seems to me, that if he wants to run for re-election again, the Texans will keep him.

I’m perfectly fine with Prick Perry being kept there, too.

Is it a choice? Does it fucking matter?

Alan Meeks, left, and Robert Domenico celebrate with a kiss during a reception inside Orlando City Hall after officially registering as a domestic couple during the launch of the city's new domestic partner registry in Orlando, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012.  The registry gives non-married couples, both gay and heterosexual, some of the same rights as married couples in matters such as hospital visitation and healthcare decisions. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Associated Press photo

A same-sex couple kisses in Orlando, Florida, earlier this month after they registered as domestic partners there. The question is not whether these men could have chosen heterosexuality. The question is why any two consenting adults in the United States of America don’t have equal human and civil rights — and why we allow separate-but-not-equal substitutions for marriage, such as domestic partnerships, instead of full marriage rights for all Americans.

So apparently actress Cynthia Nixon (whose work I don’t believe I’ve ever seen) has come under fire for having proclaimed that she has chosen to be a lesbian.

Reports The Associated Press:

Cynthia Nixon learned the hard way this week that when it comes to gay civil rights, the personal is always political. Very political.

The actress best known for portraying fiery lawyer Miranda Hobbes on “Sex and the City” is up to her perfectly arched eyebrows in controversy since The New York Times Magazine published a profile in which she was quoted as saying that for her, being gay was a conscious choice. Nixon is engaged to a woman with whom she has been in a relationship for eight years. Before that, she spent 15 years and had two children with a man.

“I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me,” Nixon said while recounting some of the flak gay rights activists previously had given her for treading in similar territory. “A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out.

“I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not.”

To say that a certain segment of the gay community “is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice” is an understatement. Gay rights activists have worked hard to combat the idea that people decide to be physically attracted to same-sex partners any more than they choose to be attracted to opposite-sex ones because the question, so far unanswered by science, is often used by religious conservatives, including [Repugnican Tea Party] presidential candidate Rick Santorum and former candidate Michelle Bachman, to argue that homosexuality is immoral behavior, not an inherent trait.

Among the activists most horrified by Nixon’s comments was Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen, whose organization monitors and tries to debunk programs that claim to cure people of same-sex attractions with therapy. Besen said he found the actress’ analysis irresponsible and flippant, despite her ample caveats.

“Cynthia did not put adequate thought into the ramifications of her words, and it is going to be used when some kid comes out and their parents force them into some ex-gay camp while she’s off drinking cocktails at fancy parties,” Besen said. “When people say it’s a choice, they are green-lighting an enormous amount of abuse because if it’s a choice, people will try to influence and guide young people to what they perceive as the right choice.” …

While the broader gay rights movement recognizes that human sexuality exists on a spectrum, and has found common cause with transgender and bisexual people, Nixon may have unwittingly given aid and comfort to those who want to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, adopt children and secure equal spousal benefits, said Jennifer Pizer, legal director of the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and the Law, a pro-gay think tank based at the University of California, Los Angeles.

One of the factors courts consider in determining if a law is unconstitutional is whether members of the minority group it targets share an unchangeable or “immutable” trait, Pizer noted. Although the definition of how fixed a characteristic has to be to qualify as immutable still is evolving — religious affiliation, for example, is recognized as grounds for equal protection — the U.S. Supreme Court still has not included sexual orientation among the traits “so integral to personhood it’s not something the government should require people to change,” she said.

“If gay people in this country had more confidence that their individual freedom was going to be respected, then the temperature would lower a bit on the immutability question because the idea of it being a choice wouldn’t seem to stack the deck against their rights,” Pizer said. …

Although science has not identified either a purely biological or sociological basis for sexual orientation, University of California, Davis psychologist Gregory Herek, an expert on anti-gay prejudice, said Nixon’s experience is consistent with research showing that women have an easier time moving between opposite and same-sex partners.

A survey Herek conducted of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals of both genders bore this out. Sixteen percent of the lesbians surveyed reported they felt they had had a fair amount of choice in their sexual orientations, while only five percent of the gay men did. …

Wow. Why are we even having a discussion as to whether or not same-sex orientation is a choice?

Why should it fucking matter whether or not it is a choice?

What any two consenting adults do with each other is their own fucking business. We claim that we are the “home of the free” — that should settle it.

However, since we’re on the topic, my feeling, from decades of observation and from my own experience, is that for some individuals, homosexuality is quite hard-wired into who and what they are. Homosexuality does not at all strike me as a choice for those male and female individuals who, since they were pre-pubescent, showed signs of latent homosexuality, such as non-gender conformity.

For other individuals, it seems to me, more choice indeed is involved, and it does seem to me that it’s a choice for more women than it is for men, as research indicates. (There has been a lot of research lately on female “sexual fluidity,” and this research indicates that females are more “sexually fluid” than are males.)

Perhaps these individuals for whom homosexuality apparently is not hard-wired have had satisfying-enough homosexual fantasies and/or sexual encounters, and so they stick with members of the same sex, whereas if their early sexual fantasies and experiences had been heterosexual, they might have developed into well-adjusted heterosexuals as well.

Who knows? And again, who cares?

I wholeheartedly agree with Nixon’s assertion, “I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here.”

Those who steadfastly argue that homosexuality could not possibly be a choice for anyone basically are arguing that homosexuality is a birth defect otherwise, why have to defend it?

I, for one, am not OK with essentially equating homosexuality (or bisexuality) as a fucking birth defect.

We should be arguing for our personal freedom to do what we want to do and to be with whom we want to befor our equal human and civil rights — and not whether or not homosexuality is “immutable,” which presumes that heterosexuality is the only OK way to be.

Update (Sunday, January 29, 2011, 9:00 p.m.): Via the Los Angeles Times’ website, I just saw this news photo of the exterior of Oakland City Hall that was taken today:

Occupy Oakland

Associated Press photo

Note that anarchists, with their spray-painted symbol, took credit for their handiwork.

The anarchists and the Occupy Wall Street movement are two different groups. True, some of their beliefs and values overlap, but their sanctioned tactics are quite different.

Again, not that I’m bashing the anarchists. They’ve yet to kill anyone, that I’m aware of, and property damage is not the same as violence against human beings. (That and, as I have pointed out, the right wing believes in mass murder, only mostly in other nations, so I certainly am not going to condemn the anarchists, who [thus far, anyway] only commit property damage, while the right wing perpetrates the worst crimes of all, war crimes and crimes against humanity.)

I like that the anarchists have balls (if they lack a certain amount of direction), and they might prove to be great allies against the right wing should all-out revolution ever break out.

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Rejected by both parties, OWS must be doing something right

Updated (Wednesday, November 23, 2011)

A protester, wearing glasses, hands President Barack Obama a note as the president greeted audience members after speaking about jobs, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011, at Manchester High School Central in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Associated Press photo

An OWS’er hands President Hopey-Changey a note while the prez campaigns for re-election in New Hampshire today. Unfortunately, this is the only way to get a message to the president from the 99 percent of us, despite the love for the Occupy Wall Street movement that the treasonous Repugnican Tea Party falsely claims the Democratic Party establishment has.

While the Repugnican-Party-co-opted “tea party” traitors are old (tri-cornered) hat, the Occupy Wall Street movement seems to have staying power. Why? Because while the “tea party” traitors always have protected our plutocratic corporate overlords — the cause of our nation’s economic collapse — and thus were easy to absorb into the pro-plutocratic, pro-corporate Republican Party establishment, the OWS’ers have defied our overlords.

If OWS weren’t a force to be reckoned with, the treasonously pro-plutocratic Repugnican Tea Party wouldn’t put out fundraising e-mails like this one from the party’s congressional fundraising arm, which I received today (yes, I’m on the enemy’s e-mail list):

Dear Supporter,

Democrats have made it clear who they are thankful for — the Occupy Movement protesters who have cost taxpayers millions of dollars, desecrated the American flag, hurt small businesses across the country, displayed contempt for law enforcement officials, tolerated anti-Semitism, and become the laughing stock of mainstream America.

In fact, Nancy Pelosi just sent out a fundraising email emphasizing her and Democrats’ continued support for the discredited protesters.

Democrats stand with them. We don’t. We stand with entrepreneurs who make this country, and the men and women in uniform who protect our liberties every day.

I urge you to make an immediate contribution of $20 to send a message that you stand with small businesses and law enforcement.

Your immediate $20 contribution will let Democrats know that their divisiveness and class warfare will not work in their relentless pursuit to regain the Speaker’s gavel.

 Thank you,

 Pete Sessions, NRCC Chairman

P.S. Don’t miss your chance to send a message. A contribution of $20 will send a clear message that you stand with small businesses and law enforcement.

I do congratulate Sessions (or his ghostwriter) for packing so many bold-faced fucking lies and bullshit talking points into one fundraising e-mail, though. Let’s see:

  • Yes, the free expression of speech might cost the taxpayers some money. Freedom isn’t free, as the wingnuts love to remind us. (Our tax dollars fund the Secret Service, which is protecting Herman Cain, for instance.) Of course, those OWS’ers who exercise their First Amendment rights are taxpayers, too. It’s not just the wingnuts who pay taxes, and of course the richest wingnuts avoid paying their fair share of taxes like the fucking plague.
  • I’m not sure about the flag desecration thing, but my response to that would be something like this: So the fuck what? You’re butt-hurt over a piece of cloth? Grow the fuck up and get some real priorities in life, pseudo-patriotic dipshit!
  • “Hurt small businesses.” Right. Like the pro-corporate Repugnican Tea Party really gives a shit about small businesses and entrepreneurs. Um, how many small businesses are even left in the pro-corporate environment the Repugnican Tea Party traitors can’t support enough? Two? Three? This isn’t the 1950s anymore, when just about anyone could start his or her own business. Corporate pervasiveness in all areas of our lives makes modern entrepreneurship nearly impossible, as does the shitty American economy that’s likely to last at least for years.
  • “Displayed contempt for law enforcement officials.” Um, would that be before or after the immoral, unprovoked and unjust (if not also illegal) use of pepper spray and other forms of unnecessary violence on non-threatening protesters? Puhfucklinglease. Right-wing (mostly white male) cops whose salaries the citizens pay show contempt for citizens who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights in any meaningful, effective way — unless those citizens are “tea party” traitors whom the cops agree with. (In that case, they get to exercise their First Amendment rights without being pepper-sprayed or otherwise molested by the pigs.)
  • “Tolerated anti-Semitism”? There is one guy who shows up to every protest with his sign about Jewish bankers, but he represents every OWS’er. Right.
  • “The laughing stock of mainstream America.” Um, wouldn’t that be serial sexual harasser Herman Cain, who thinks that the president can overrule the U.S. Supreme Court and that we have to prevent China from getting the nukes that it has had since the 1960s; public drunk Rick Perry, who’s always at a loss for words; wide-eyed lunatic Michele Bachmann, and all of the other pathetic Repugnican Tea Party presidential wannabes? The OWS’ers, in fact, have the sympathy of most of the nation and the world. They might be laughed at only by the wingnuts, whose opinion 0n any matter is less than worthless anyway.
  • What Repugnican Tea Party fundraising e-mail would be complete without mention of Princess Nancy Pelosi? Yes, she’s worse than Satan himself. She hides under your child’s bed at night and scares the holy living shit out of him or her. Does the mere mention of Nancy Pelosi still work on the wingnuts to make them open their wallets? Is it a Pavolvian thing?
  • “The men and women in uniform who protect our liberties every day.” Those would be the very same people whom the Repugnican Tea Party traitors send overseas to fight their illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked wars for the war profiteers and the corporateers, such as Dick Cheney’s Halliburton. If the Repugnican Tea Party traitors actually gave a shit about our troops, they wouldn’t put them in harm’s way unless it were absolutely necessary. But mentioning our troops — and insinuating that Democrats, liberals and progressives hate our troops — apparently elicits that right-wing Pavlovian response that is good for fundraising, so let’s just gratuitously mention our troops in our fundraising e-mails. (After all, our troops aren’t just great cannon fodder for corporations’ profiteering — they’re great for political fundraising, too!) 
  • “Democrats stand with them.” No, the Democrats don’t stand with the OWS’ers unless it’s to try to co-opt and exploit them. I mean, the Dems always want chumps’ votes and money.

That last point is demonstrated by the fact that today at a re-election campaign appearance in New Hampshire by President Hopey-Changey, an OWS’er put a note in the prez’s hand that read:

Mr. President: Over 4,000 peaceful protesters have been arrested while banksters continue to destroy the economy with impunity. You must stop the assault on our First Amendment rights. Your silence sends a message that police brutality is acceptable. Banks got bailed out. We got sold out.

Indeed, President Hopey-Changey’s silence on the Occupy Wall Street movement (which is quite similar to his silence that we saw regarding Wisconsin earlier this year while labor was fighting for its life against the pro-plutocratic, anti-working-class Repugnican Tea Party) and his silence on the blatant 1-percent-protecting-police brutality against OWS’ers has been deafening, so for the Repugnican Tea Party to assert that the Democratic Party establishment and the Occupy Wall Street movement are two peas in a pod is yet another fucking right-wing lie.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is something that neither the Coke Party nor the Pepsi Party (as I think of the nearly indistinguishable Repugnican Tea Party and Democratic Party) anticipated: a movement of citizens who are beyond sick and tired of having been sold out to our plutocratic corporate overlords by both of the major parties, who are as mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore, and have taken it to the streets. Who knew that the slaves would ever actually revolt?

The Democratic Party’s response to the OWS’ers has been to ignore them, for the most part — and not to criticize them publicly, lest they still be able to co-opt them — and the Repugnican Tea Party’s response has been to malign them, such as in the fundraising e-mail above. (Indeed, the OWS protesters have been “discredited” only by the traitors who comprise the Repugnican Tea Party who at the same time hypocritically accuse others of being “divisive.”)

If the OWS’ers weren’t on to something, if they weren’t a threat to the status quo, they wouldn’t be treated this way by the Coke Party and the Pepsi Party.

Their treatment at the hands of both parties is testament to their — to our — strength.

Long live the Occupy Wall Street movement, the people’s movement that the “tea party” “movement” never was and never will be.

Update (Wednesday, November 23, 2011): I didn’t adequately give the context of the episode in New Hampshire involving President Hopey-Changey yesterday.

What happened is that during his speech to his Obamabots, President Hopey-Changey was interrupted by a group of OWS’ers who attempted, using the “human mic[rophone],” to give him a message of their own. However, they weren’t far into their message before they were drowned out by the Obamabots, who started chanting “Obama, Obama, Obama…” (Creative!)

Therefore, apparently, after Obama concluded his speech, the OWS’er pictured above hand-delivered to Obama the message that the OWS’ers had tried to deliver to him.

Rachel Maddow’s show featured a clip of Obama stating during his speech in New Hampshire that he ran in 2008 primarily in order to benefit our young people. Right. That’s why the youth-powered OWS has been so successful: because Obama has been so great for our young people. Watching Obama lie through his fucking teeth about how great he has been for our young people made me want to take a shower with a wire brush.

And the Obamabots — the Democratic Party hacks who have no progressive principles whatsofuckingever but who obediently support the Democratic Party no matter fucking what, like it’s no more than their favorite sports team — knee-jerkingly defending Obama once the OWS’ers started their “human mic” demonstrates that the Repugnican Tea Party’s claim that the Democratic Party establishment and the OWS’ers are in bed together is bullshit.

The Democratic Party hacks do not support OWS because OWS points out how the Democratic Party has sold out the 99 percent of us. OWS’ers are the millions of us whom Barack Obama betrayed with his false promises of hope and change.

P.S. Via Joe. My. God., this is a graph of how much the Wall Street weasels have cost us, vs. how much the OWS protests have cost us:

Joe. My. God. notes that “wingnut blogs are going apeshit over the just-released estimate on police overtime and other costs related to OWS.”

Of course the wingnuts wholly ignore the costs that they have incurred, such as the trillions of dollars that we blow on bogus warfare via the military-industrial complex, the budget for which the Repugnican Tea Party traitors don’t want to reduce by a single fucking dime.

And how much have the “tea party” protests cost us? (Well, we know that the pepper-spray budget for “tea party” protests is nil, since “tea partiers” never get pepper-sprayed by the cops who sympathize with their wingnutty agenda.)

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SEIU sells us out

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry should be selling Mary Kay instead of selling out the members of one the nation’s largest labor unions. 

I am a dues-paying member (almost $50 a month) of Service Employees International Union, better known as SEIU.

I’m very pro-labor. Pro-SEIU? Um, not so much.

On Thursday I received an e-mail from SEIU President Mary Kay Henry with the probably hyperbolic subject line “The fight of our lives.”

The e-mail reads, in part:

Dear Robert,

You’ll probably hear about it on the news very soon, but I want you to be the first to know.

Today, with great pride and a sense of purpose, the 2.1 million members of the Service Employees International Union have endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election.

President Obama is the only candidate for president who shares our vision of America as a land of opportunity for everyone. We need a leader willing to fight for the needs of the 99 percent, and stand with hard working families to say that the world’s wealthiest corporations must pay their fair share.

Please join us in returning President Obama to the White House so he can keep fighting for more jobs and less nonsense.

You’ve probably seen how hard it is to get the concerns of working people taken seriously in our political process. Here’s why:

Our economy and democracy have been taken over by the wealthiest one percent.

These bankers and CEOs have used their wealth and excessive political influence to treat our state and federal governments like their personal cash drawer – spending lavishly on elections and then pressuring legislators to give them even more instead of creating jobs. It shows in the results. …

We know what’s really important. We know that after a decade of tax breaks for the rich and out-of-control gambling on Wall Street, things have gotten much harder for working Americans. We know that if these problems aren’t taken care of now, the next generation will have it even worse. …

President Obama is working to turn things around, but he needs help from all of us to be heard over his wealthy opponents, people who seem to believe that the only thing wrong with the economy is that they have to share it.

From now until Election Day next November, we need to dedicate ourselves to this goal. We will knock on doors, we will talk to our friends and neighbors and co-workers, and we will fight shoulder-to-shoulder alongside working families across this nation to show the one percent that they aren’t the only ones willing to fight for America’s future. …

In solidarity,
Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union

I’m a dues-paying member of SEIU, but there’s no way in hell that I’m going to help President Hopey-Changey continue to punk those of us who put him in office. I will give Obama not one red fucking cent (I gave him hundreds of dollars for his 2008 bid) and I will not give him my vote again. Nor could I, with a straight face and a good conscience, try to convince others that they should support Barack Obama’s re-election, as SEIU would have me do.

Mysteriously missing in Henry’s propagandistic e-mail is the promise that Barack Obama made to labor on the campaign trail in November 2007 (here is video of it): “And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself; I will walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America, because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.”

Where were Obama’s “comfortable shoes” when the state of Wisconsin this year was a battleground for labor, for the rights of the middle class and the working class against the greedy, thieving plutocrats, represented by Repugnican Tea Party Gov. Scott Walker & Co.?

Obama didn’t show his face in Wisconsin once and could be bothered to make no more than one or two weak, vague statements in support of Wisconsin. Wisconsinites have been doing it on their own.

Where is Obama speaking out against the police brutality that we are seeing against non-threatening citizens who want to voice their grievances in a meaningful way, and not in the toothless, politically ineffectual way that our treasonous and oppressive plutocratic overlords have proscribed for us (the meaningless, politically ineffectual way that Obama himself no doubt endorses)?

Mary Kay Henry’s proclamations in her propagandistic e-mail are outright lies or delusions or some combination thereof.

Indeed “We need a leader willing to fight for the needs of the 99 percent, and stand with hard working families to say that the world’s wealthiest corporations must pay their fair share.” That leader is not President Hopey-Changey, however. At best, Barack Obama is the lesser of two evils, and for millions of us, that isn’t good enough anymore — thus, the Occupy Wall Street movement.

And Henry shouldn’t even have gone here: “These bankers and CEOs have used their wealth and excessive political influence to treat our state and federal governments like their personal cash drawer – spending lavishly on elections and then pressuring legislators to give them even more instead of creating jobs. It shows in the results. …”

As Salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald points out in his recent column that is critical of SEIU’s shameless and pathetic attempt to co-opt the Occupy Wall Street movement such as by using its signature phrases “1 percent” and “99 percent,” Barack Obama has done nothing but coddle the Wall Street weasels. You should read Greenwald’s entire column, but here, in my opinion, is the money shot:

… But whatever else is true, the notion — advanced by SEIU — that it’s the Democratic Party and the Obama White House working to bring about these changes and implant these values of the 99 percent is so self-evidently false as to be insulting. …

… [D]oes SEIU think that people will just ignore these key political facts? How does anyone think these protesters will be convinced that it’s exclusively the GOP — and not the Democratic Party and the Obama White House — who “protect the rich” when: Wall Street funded the Democrats far more than the GOP in the 2008 election; the Democrats’ key money man, Charles Schumer, is one of the most devoted Wall Street servants in the country; Obama empowered in key positions Wall Street servants such as Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, Bill Daley, Rahm Emanuel, and an endless roster of former Goldman officials; JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon has been dubbed “Obama’s favorite banker” after Obama publicly defended his post-bailout $17 million bonus; the president named the CEO of GE to head his jobs panel; the DCCC and DSCC exist to ensure the nomination of corporatist candidates and Blue Dogs whose political worldview is servitude to the lobbyist class; the Democratic president, after vocally urging an Age of Austerity, tried very hard to usher in cuts to Social Security and an increase in the age for Medicare eligibility; and the Obama administration has not only ensured virtually no accountability for the rampant Wall Street fraud that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis, but is actively pressuring New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and others to agree to a woefully inadequate settlement to forever shield banks from the consequences of their pervasive mortgage fraud.

That’s just a fraction of the facts one could list to document the actual factions to which the Democratic Party has devoted itself. If one wants to argue that the GOP is more opposed to progressive economic policies than Democrats, that’s certainly reasonable. If one wants to argue that, on balance, voting for Democrats is more likely to bring about marginally more of those policies than abstaining, I think that, too, is reasonable.

But to try to cast the Democratic Party and the Obama administration as the vessel for the values and objectives of the Occupy movement is just dishonest in the extreme: in fact, it’s so extreme that it’s very unlikely to work. Those who believe that further empowerment of the Democratic Party is what is most urgently needed can make their case and should pursue that goal — they should try to generate as much citizen enthusiasm as possible behind them — but they should stop trying to depict and exploit the Occupy movement as an instrument for their agenda.

Exactly. As Greenwald claims, “SEIU officials have long been among Obama’s closest and most loyal allies in Washington.”

This is why I stopped financially supporting the Human Rights Campaign: Clearly the HRC elites are much more interested in hobnobbing with Washington, D.C.’s elites than to actually fight for the rights of non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals. It was clear to me where money that is donated to HRC goes: to its elites so that they can be socialites in D.C.

HRC gives Barack Obama a full pass on the fact that he still claims that he is “evolving” on the issue of same-sex marriage, even though in 1996, when he was running for the Illinois state Senate, he responded to a campaign questionnaire that he supports same-sex marriage. (“I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages,” he wrote. Of course, as president he has fought efforts to prohibit same-sex marriage as much as he has put on his “comfortable shoes” to fight for labor.)

But the if the HRC elites were to actually challenge Obama on the fact that he’s a fucking liar who sells his supporters out, then the HRC elites wouldn’t get to rub shoulders with the elites in D.C. anymore.

Go ahead and give money to the HRC if you want to, but know that HRC won’t use your money to actually fight for your rights.

Similarly, I can tell you that as a dues-paying member of SEIU, I never got a voice or a vote in the union’s endorsement of Barack Obama’s re-election (which I didn’t even know was coming). Apparently only the union’s elites and insiders got such a voice. The rest of us, who got no fucking voice, are too busy actually working — so that we can pay the SEIU elites’ salaries with our dues, so that they can then sell us out.

I am pro-labor, but SEIU President Mary Kay Henry should resign. She should do something that she’s actually good at — perhaps she should be selling Mary Kay instead of selling out the members of one of the nation’s largest labor unions.

P.S. I e-mailed Mary Kay Henry that she should resign. If I get a response, I’ll share it, but I doubt that I will. To the SEIU elites I’m only good for my dues, which the SEIU elites use to sell me out.

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Time to fight fire with fire

Seattle Police officers deploy pepper spray into a crowd during an Occupy Seattle protest on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Westlake Park in Seattle. Protesters gathered in the intersection of 5th Avenue and Pine Street after marching from their camp at Seattle Central Community College in support of Occupy Wall Street. Many refused to move from the intersection after being ordered by police. Police then began spraying pepper spray into the gathered crowd hitting dozens of people. (AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Joshua Trujillo)  MAGS OUT; NO SALES; SEATTLE TIMES OUT; TV OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Associated Press photo

Did you know that cops are using pepper spray against citizens who peaceably are voicing their grievances in canisters that are the fucking size of fire extinguishers?

The caption for the Associated Press photo above reads: “Seattle Police officers deploy pepper spray into a crowd during an Occupy Seattle protest on Tuesday, November 15, 2011, at Westlake Park in Seattle. Protesters gathered in the intersection of 5th Avenue and Pine Street after marching from their camp at Seattle Central Community College in support of Occupy Wall Street. Many refused to move from the intersection after being ordered by police. Police then began spraying pepper spray into the gathered crowd, hitting dozens of people” — including the 84-year-old Dorli Rainey, who has become the poster woman for the police brutality that we have seen in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The use of pepper spray on people whose “crime” is simply refusing to move from an intersection is not justified. Before you argue with me on that point, note that seattlepi.com reports:

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn on Wednesday apologized to protestors, including an 84-year-old woman, who were pepper-sprayed during a face-off with the Occupy Seattle demonstration in downtown.

McGinn said he spoke personally to Dorli Rainey, the former school teacher and activist who was photographed by seattlepi.com with red, swollen eyes just after she’d been doused with pepper spray Tuesday. The photo went international and captured an iconic moment for the Occupy movement.

“To those engaged in peaceful protest, I am sorry that you were pepper sprayed,” McGinn said in a statement. “I spoke to Dorli Rainey (who I know personally) to ask how she was doing, and to ask for her description of events.”

McGinn said he asked Police Chief John Diaz to review the police use of pepper spray and to ensure appropriate commanders are on-scene during such events. He said he did not want overly aggressive enforcement to exacerbate a situation.

He said police agreed that what happened Tuesday night was not “their preferred outcome.”

“My instruction to police and other city departments has been to protect free speech rights, protect public safety of protestors and the public, and protect other legitimate public and private uses of property,” McGinn said.

A pregnant woman and a priest were among those hit with pepper spray during a march from the Occupy movement’s current camp at Seattle Central Community College to Westlake Park. They were marching in support of protesters who were kicked out of Zuccotti Park in New York. The Seattle protesters were blocked by police officers at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Pine Street, where the confrontation took place, according to reports.

A police spokesman said Tuesday that pepper spray was used only on people who refused to disperse or who engaged in assaultive behavior toward officers. …

That obviously is a fucking  lie. We have photographic evidence that the Seattle pigs — and that’s what they are, pigs — wantonly sprayed pepper spray from large canisters all over whoever happened to be in front of them. There very apparently were no surgical strikes of pepper spray only upon those individuals who might actually have been aggressing upon the pigs. (And when a cop claims that he or she actually was aggressed upon by an unarmed citizen, take that claim with a grain of salt unless their is photographic or video evidence to back it up.)

And let’s not act like it’s only a crime if it’s the elderly, pregnant women and priests who are pepper-sprayed without very good cause. Anyone who is pepper-sprayed unnecessarily by the legalized thugs for the 1 percent whom we call “law enforcement officers” is a victim of a violent crime him- or herself.
 
The AP photo above eerily reminds me of images like these:
 
Photojournalist Charles Moore, R.I.P.
 
Screen shot 2010-03-17 at 9.17.17 PM.png
 
 
Non-violence? Bullshit.
 
When those who are supposed to protect us and to serve us — we fucking pay their salaries for them to do so — instead attack us, it’s time for us to attack back. I don’t believe in starting it, but I believe in ending it, and nothing fights fire better than fire. The only effective way to deal with a fucking bully is to give back to him what he has dished out himself.
 

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U.S. now produces only corpses

The body of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi lies on a mattress in a commercial freezer at a shopping center in Misrata, Libya, Friday, Oct. 21, 2011. The burial of slain leader Moammar Gadhafi has been delayed until the circumstances of his death can be further examined and a decision is made about where to bury the body, Libyan officials said Friday, as the U.N. human rights office called for an investigation into his death. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

Associated Press photo

This is all that the crumbling American empire produces and exports these days: death and destruction. Gooooo USA! 

A column that Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald posted yesterday is pretty spot-on about what the United States of America has become. Greenwald notes that “there is something very significant about a nation that so continuously finds purpose and joy in the corpses its government produces, while finding it in so little else.” (The occasion of Greenwald’s column is the latest U.S.-government-produced corpse, that of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi [pictured above], whom, like other dictators, the U.S. government opposed, then cooperated with, then opposed again.)

Greenwald begins his column by reminding us of the uber-creepy language that President Hopey-Changey used in early May after the U.S. government summarily had assassinated Osama bin Laden in violation of justice and of international law:

When President Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden on the evening of May 1, he said something which I found so striking at the time and still do: “tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history.”

That sentiment of national pride had in the past been triggered by putting a man on the moon, or discovering cures for diseases, or creating
technology that improved the lives of millions, or transforming the Great Depression into a thriving middle class, or correcting America’s own entrenched injustices.

Yet here was President Obama proclaiming that what should now cause us to be “reminded” of our national greatness was our ability to hunt someone down, pump bullets into his skull, and then dump his corpse into the ocean.*

And indeed, outside the White House and elsewhere, hordes of Americans were soon raucously celebrating the killing with “USA! USA!” chants as though their sports team had just won a major championship. …

Speaking of sports teams, that is all that the Democratic Party has become: a sports team that many Americans identify with. This is evidenced by the fact that even when Barack Obama violates the U.S. Constitution (e.g., denying assassinees and detainees due process, unilaterally declaring war, etc.) and international law (e.g., assassinating individuals on foreign soil without the consent of that sovereign nation’s government) and sits on his hands in the face of catastrophe (Obama handled British Petroleum’s destruction of the Gulf of Mexico as effectively as George W. Bush would have) — even when President Hopey-Changey acts or fails to act in the same illegal and/or immoral and/or ineffectual manner of which the Dems would have been critical had it been a Repugnican president in power — the Obamabots, if they can’t exactly find it within themselves to celebrate Barack Obama’s George-W.-Bush-like ways, at least keep their mealy mouths shut, and thus empower and enable the lawless, immoral, pro-plutocratic and militaristic Obama regime through their complicity.

This amorality and immorality is why, as Chris Hedges writes, the liberal class (as he calls the Democrats in name only, those who claim to be liberal or progressive but who don’t actually lift a fucking finger for progressive causes, and who, if they don’t actually engage in evil themselves, at least enable the evils encouraged and perpetrated by the right wing) is in its death throes.

The reason that Obama’s re-election prospects are dim, you see, is that the wingnuts prefer actual wingnuts to “liberal” sellouts like Obama — no matter how many baddies/“baddies” he assassinates with our tax dollars as though he were some Big Fucking Badass — and the so-called “independents”/“swing voters,” the majority of whom actually are center-right or even pretty far to the right, also prefer the actual Repugnican candidate to the Repugnican Lite candidate (like Barack Obama).

Actual progressives like me and the millions of other Americans (and those abroad) who are participating in or who at least sympathize with the Occupy Wall Street movement also have no use for Obama — stick a fork in him, because we are done with him and his false promises and his true allegiances — which leaves President Hopey-Changey only with his mealy-mouthed Obamabots, who are so fucking worthless that they might as well donate their organs now so that others can make better use of them.

We actual progressives can thank Obama, however, for thoroughly exposing how much the Democratic Party, since Bill Clinton, has sold us Americans out to our corporate/plutocratic overlords. Chris Hedges asks us:

What kind of nation is it that spends far more to kill enemy combatants and Afghan and Iraqi civilians than it does to help its own citizens who live below the poverty line? What kind of nation is it that permits corporations to hold sick children hostage while their parents frantically bankrupt themselves to save their sons and daughters? What kind of nation is it that tosses its mentally ill onto urban heating grates? What kind of nation is it that abandons its unemployed while it loots its treasury on behalf of speculators? What kind of nation is it that ignores due process to torture and assassinate its own citizens? What kind of nation is it that refuses to halt the destruction of the ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, dooming our children and our children’s children?

An Obamanation, I might answer.

And Hedges answers, I think, the question of why the Occupy Wall Street movement has been so successful:

The liberal class functions in a traditional, capitalist democracy as a safety valve. It lets off enough steam to keep the system intact. It makes
piecemeal and incremental reform possible. This is what happened during the Great Depression and the New Deal. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s greatest achievement was that he saved capitalism. Liberals in a functioning capitalist democracy are at the same time tasked with discrediting radicals, whether it is [Martin Luther] King [Jr.], especially after he denounced the war in Vietnam, or later Noam Chomsky or Ralph Nader.

The stupidity of the corporate state is that it thought it could dispense with the liberal class. It thought it could shut off that safety valve in order
to loot and pillage with no impediments. Corporate power forgot that the liberal class, when it functions, gives legitimacy to the power elite. And the reduction of the liberal class to silly courtiers, who have nothing to offer but empty rhetoric, meant that the growing discontent found other mechanisms and outlets.

[All emphasis in this block quote is mine. Indeed, the success of the Internet as a political organizing tool is due to the fact that the duopoly of the corporate-ass-licking Coke Party and Pepsi Party stopped addressing the common American’s needs and interests long ago, and thus the common American has found alternative routes, has flowed around the obstruction that is the partisan duopoly that masquerades as “democracy” in the United States of America. And now we see Occupy Wall Street as yet another adaptive response to the utter ineffectiveness refusal of the two parties to represent us, the people.]

Liberals were reduced to stick figures, part of an elaborate pantomime, as they acted in preordained roles to give legitimacy to meaningless and useless political theater. But that game is over.

Human history has amply demonstrated that once those in positions of power become redundant and impotent, yet retain the trappings and privileges of power, they are brutally discarded. The liberal class, which insists on clinging to its positions of privilege while at the same time refusing to play its traditional role within the democratic state, has become a useless and despised appendage of corporate power. And as the engines of corporate power pollute and poison the ecosystem and propel us into a world where there will be only masters and serfs, the liberal class, which serves no purpose in the new configuration, is being abandoned and discarded by both the corporate state and radical dissidents. The best it can do is attach itself meekly to the new political configuration rising up to replace it.

An ineffectual liberal class means there is no hope of a correction or a reversal through the formal mechanisms of power. It ensures that the frustration and anger among the working and the middle class will find expression now in these protests that lie outside the confines of democratic institutions and the civilities of a liberal democracy. …

[T]he liberal class, by having refused to question the utopian promises of unfettered capitalism and globalization and by condemning those who did, severed itself from the roots of creative and bold thought, the only forces that could have prevented the liberal class from merging completely with the power elite. The liberal class, which at once was betrayed and betrayed itself, has no role left to play in the battle between us and corporate dominance. All hope lies now with those in the street. …

Yup. Because although the United States of America quickly is on its way to becoming something like the way that it is portrayed in the very dark movie “The Road,” we Americans aren’t ready to become cannibals quite yet, and we would prefer that the trillions of our dollars that are being used to kill people abroad (mostly so that the oil corporations can steal and profit obscenely from other nations’ oil) instead would be used for necessities here at home, such as health care, shelter and food.

Because even if we were to feast upon the corpse of Moammar Gaddafi, which reportedly cost us more than $1 billion to obtain, it wouldn’t feed very many of us Americans for very long.

*On May 2, I similiarly wrote:

… More chilling than the words and actions of my jingoistic cohorts, of whom I expect precious little, however, are those of President Barack Obama, of whom, despite his string of broken campaign promises, I still expect more.

“Today we are reminded that as a nation there is nothing we can’t do,” Obama proclaimed today about the snuffing out of bin Laden. (“We do big things” is one of the campaign slogans that Obama rolled out during his last State of the Union address, since “hope” and “change” don’t work anymore.)

Jesus fuck.

When we make such feel-good statements as “as a nation there is nothing we can’t do,” are we really supposed to say that about the killing of one individual? Even someone like Osama bin Laden?

Is this what “American greatness” has come to: our ability to kill one man after 10 years, hundreds of billions of dollars and the killing of tens of thousands before him? (That’s a rhetorical question, but I’ll answer it anyway: Yes.) …

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Cry us a river, Barry!

US President Barack Obama turns away from the podium

AFP photo

President Hopey-Changey’s apparent response to Occupy Wall Street is that we should feel sorry for him and stick with him, even though he allied himself with the Wall Street weasels years ago.

Predictably, after having pissed and shat all over his base since January 2009, and seeing that in response to his utter presidential ineffectiveness the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown long, long legs, President Hopey-Changey is acting contrite these days. (Contrite for him, anyway.)

Obama has whined to ABC News: “I guarantee it’s going to be a close election because the economy is not where it wants to be, and even though I believe all the choices we’ve made have been the right ones, we’re still going through difficult circumstances. That means people who may be sympathetic to my point of view still kind of feel like, yeah, but it still hasn’t gotten done yet.”

And it’s never going to get done. Not under Barack Obama.

It’s too late for Obama to change course. Against the advice of progressive economists like the Nobel-Prize-winning Paul Krugman, Obama early in his presidency allied himself with the Wall Street weasels, and there is no going back from that. And any actually progressive, substantial economic policy changes that he might enact now — but he would never do that — would still take many, many months, at the minimum, to improve the nation’s economy.

Obama had his chance to push through a progressive agenda in 2009 and 2010, when he had the nation’s good will and both houses of Congress controlled by his party — and when he got to decide what his national economic policy would be.

Obama blew it. Big time. And it’s too late now.

There are no do-overs for the U.S. presidency. You get one shot to get it right. And the rare alignment of the Oval Office and both houses of Congress being held by your party is an opportunity that you don’t fucking squander.

Barack Obama — who is arrogant, not audacious — has given us progressives absolutely no reason to believe that his second term would be a substantial improvement over his first.

So cocky is Obama that I surmise that he truly believes that despite his do-nothing presidency, he is so fucking charming that he is going to co-opt the Occupy Wall Street movement. We progressives have broken up with him, and because he is naught but a rock obstructing the stream, we are flowing around him — witness the Occupy Wall Street movement but he refuses to acknowledge those facts.

Even if Obama’s current contrition were heartfelt — it isn’t; it’s purely political — it isn’t nearly enough. Obama’s displays of contrition don’t make up for the fact that over the past three years average Americans — 53 percent of whom voted for President Hopey-Changey — have continued to lose economic ground, not gain it, while the rich and the super-rich have been doing just fine.

The only kind of person I can see voting for Barack Obama in 2012 is the type of person who believes that his or her alcoholic, abusive mate is going to turn things around! Really this time! And that his or her alcoholic, abusive mate is the best that he or she can do, and that staying with his or her abusive, alcoholic mate is better than being alone.

The rest of us, who have some fucking self-respect, prefer our solitude over our continued abuse at the hands of the “Democratic” Party establishment elites, who, instead of actually doing anything for us, only offer us excuses for their ineffectiveness and more empty promises that they’ll do better in the future if only we continue to support them.

The spirit of the Occupy Wall Street movement is that of the person who finally has left his or her abusive partner. He or she doesn’t know what the future holds, but he or she knows that it has to be better than more of the fucking same.

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