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Notes on the mess in Ferguson

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A screen grab (above) from a video apparently showing Michael Brown roughing up a convenience store clerk on the date of Brown’s shooting death by a white police officer apparently belies the idea of Brown having been a gentle giant, at least on the day of his death, but of course the unarmed Brown didn’t deserve to die for allegedly having stolen cigarillos. And law enforcement officers need to adopt non-lethal means of subduing subjects they deem dangerous or possibly dangerous, and of course we have way too many white cops shooting unarmed black men. All of that said, though, shit like torching police cars, as was done in Ferguson, Mo., last night (see news photo below), accomplishes exactly nothing.

A man runs from a police car that is set on fire after a group of protesters vandalize the vehicle after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked sometimes violent protests. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Associated Press photo

I’ve yet to write about the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., for several reasons, including the fact that I wanted to wait for things to play out and the fact, to be honest, that I’ve been Fergusoned out, much like I’ve been Benghazi’d out. Not to compare the two (one is an event that is a symptom of our broad and deep societal ills, and the other a comparative non-event drummed up by the right wing), but because the sensationalist media have beaten both into the ground.

First: Let’s acknowledge, as taboo as it is to do so (on the left, anyway), that Michael Brown apparently was no angel. There very apparently is surveillance video, for fuck’s sake, of the 6-foot-4-inch, almost 300-pound 18-year-old (whose nickname apparently was “Big Mike”) very apparently roughing up a convenience store clerk on the day that he later was shot and killed by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson (that day was August 9), and Wilson has claimed that when he encountered Brown, Brown had a handful of cigarillos that he’d apparently stolen from the convenience store.

(Whether this is true or whether Wilson was lying in an attempt to retroactively “justify” his shooting of Brown by trying to link Brown to a crime that Wilson has claimed he had been aware of is quite in dispute. [It seems to me that it’s quite possible that Wilson had had no knowledge of the convenience-store robbery before he encountered Brown on that fateful day in August, and if memory serves, early news reports [such as this one] indeed were that Wilson had not known about the convenience-store robbery when he encountered Brown.])

I’m no angel myself, but the exact number of times that I’ve roughed up a convenience store clerk while stealing from him is, um, zero. As there not only is surveillance video, but as Michael Brown’s companion on that fateful day, Dorian Johnson, apparently also has testified that Brown committed the convenience-store robbery (to Johnson’s surprise), that Brown committed the crime is, methinks, fairly indisputable, and it is not “character assassination” to divulge unflattering facts about Brown’s unflattering actions on that day, as Brown’s defenders have alleged. Brown’s character, at least as it was on that particular day, it seems to me, rather speaks for itself. On that day, anyway, very apparently, Brown was no gentle giant.

But: Did Michael Brown deserve to get capped, even if he had committed a crime? Brown was unarmed, and photos of Darren Wilson’s “injuries” allegedly caused by Brown show only some red marks (maybe one light facial bruise) that appear as though they even could have been pre-existing. (Wilson, by the way, is 6 feet, 4 inches tall, weighs around 210 pounds and is 28 years old.)

The fact that it’s verging on the year 2015 and despite all of our technological advances we still have no widely used non-lethal way of effectively subduing those whom law enforcement officers deem need to be subdued is testament to what degree life (especially non-white life) is considered to be cheap here in the United States of America.

Sure, we have Tasers, but those are good for only a limited range, and whenever cops claim, correctly or incorrectly, truthfully or untruthfully, that they feared for their lives, they don’t use Tasers or the like, but they use live rounds. With all of our technological advances, why do we allow this beyond-sorry state of affairs to continue? Why don’t we care enough to force the cops to change their tactics?

And, of course, it’s inarguable that black men are treated as automatically guilty by many if not even most white cops, who often act as judge, jury and even executioner, and that cops disproportionately are white males, like Darren Wilson.

It’s also inarguable that Ferguson is just the tip of the iceberg. The main function of cops is to protect the socioeconomic interests of the plutocrats, the ruling elite. Cops serve and protect, all right, but whom do they serve and protect? Cops are tools of the elite, whether the cops know this or not, and whether the cops even care if they do know this.

So there is that dynamic that’s baked into the socioeconomic dynamics of the United States, as well as is the dynamic of institutionalized racism.

That said, while institutionalized racism rages on, we still must view every incident as an incident, with its unique details and factors and with its unique, individual actors, and we have to be careful not to allow individuals to become standard-bearers or stand-ins for our own views on race.

Just as Michael Brown apparently was no angel, I’m sure that Darren Wilson is no angel, either, and so to see black Americans portray Brown as what he apparently wasn’t (an innocent angel) and to see white Americans portray Wilson as what he probably isn’t (a “hero” who was just doing his job and protecting himself from a dangerous thug) has been disappointing, to put it mildly, because this is much more about sticking up for one’s own race than it is about any respect for the truth.

Indeed, the Ferguson case has been turned into a race war, in which Brown has been the proxy for black Americans and Wilson the proxy for white Americans – to the point that the grand jury’s decision, to many if not most Americans, apparently was supposed to go far, far beyond the very specific events surrounding Wilson’s shooting of Brown on August 9 in Ferguson, and was supposed to be a decision, a judgment, on whether or not American cops (most of them white) on the whole treat black American males unjustly, or even, more broadly, on whether or not the United States still has problems with racism.

That’s an understandable misunderstanding, I suppose, but it is a huge misunderstanding of the purpose of the grand jury nonetheless.

There was or there was not enough evidence to show that Wilson, in his capacity as a law enforcement officer, probably illegally shot Brown. (If the laws governing this question are fucked, that’s something else, and if the laws are fucked [and they are], then we need to change the laws.) That, however, was what the grand jury was to have decided: whether or not Wilson probably violated the letter of the law. That was the only job of the grand jury, and it was a narrow job.

And neither you nor I was there when Wilson shot Brown, which is another reason that I’ve yet to write about Ferguson until now: Most of us have an opinion on an event that we didn’t even witness, and for which we have only significantly different claims from different parties as to what did (and did not) transpire. Lacking that specific information, we fill the vacuum with our own opinions and prejudices and our biases that stem primarily from our own racial-group identity. Which is a sort of mob mentality.

Speaking of which, lobbing rocks and bricks and bottles and Molotov cocktails and smashing store-front windows and setting cars and buildings ablaze, while perhaps loads of fun for the participants, doesn’t do anything, that I can tell, to even begin to change the entrenched socioeconomic ills that plague the nation, the socioeconomic ills that are behind Michael Brown’s death.

I’m not staunchly against the use of violence as a political tactic – the plutocrats, our overlords, certainly never rule out the use of violence against us commoners, so we commoners never should rule out the use of violence against our plutocratic overlords, either – but violence, if used, should be strategic and it should get results. I don’t see that vandalizing store fronts and blocking roads and even setting businesses and other buildings and cars, including cop cars, ablaze do anything to even begin to change our corrupt system.

While the sources of the rage that induce individuals to take it to the streets are entirely understandable – those sources include institutionalized racism, ridiculous socioeconomic inequality from an economic system (capitalism) that is all about screwing others over for one’s own selfish gain, and the police state that we live under that protects and preserves this ridiculous socioeconomic inequality and institutionalized racism – again, I don’t see that the tactics that most of the enraged use on the streets actually are effective in bringing about real change.

Our fascistic, plutocratic overlords don’t exactly quake in their jackboots at the specter of small businesses having their front windows smashed out, and of course if a police car is torched, it is we, the taxpayers (which doesn’t include the tax-evading plutocrats), who will pay to replace that police car, of course. What do the plutocrats lose in these cases?

The plutocrats are perfectly willing to sacrifice a small, token amount in periodic property damage in order to perpetuate their ongoing socioeconomic rape, pillage and plunder of the masses and of the planet itself. (And it goes without saying, of course, that our plutocratic overlords are entirely untroubled by the periodic shootings of black men by white cops. After all, thus far the responses to these shootings, while they gain plenty of media coverage, haven’t threatened in any serious way the plutocrats’ iron grip on wealth and power.)

Finally, we Americans need to recognize that it wasn’t only Darren Wilson who killed Michael Brown. Almost all of us killed Michael Brown. (Ditto for Trayvon Martin, as I have stated, and for many others.) Because we have continued to allow the inexcusable bullshit to continue, and as long as we continue to do so, as long as we continue to refuse to dive more deeply than the surface (such as by looking primarily or even solely at race and not nearly enough at class, and by failing to effectively hold accountable the plutocratic puppet masters who always are hiding behind the scenes and thus always get away scot-free), and as long as we continue to refuse to do the long, hard, sustained work of making – of forcing, if necessary – significant systemic changes (yes, including up to true revolution [“reform” always leaves the power structure intact, doesn’t it?]), there will be plenty of more Michael Browns and Darren Wilsons.

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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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Notes on the nationwide occupations

Occupy Wall Street campaign demonstrators hold placards Zuccotti Park

An Occupy Wall Street campaign demonstrator stands in Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street in New York

An Occupy Wall Street campaign demonstrator holds a sign in Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street in New York

Reuters photos

These are my kind of people: The powers that be won’t admit it, but prolonged anti-plutocratic protests in our nation’s cities like these (the photos above were taken today in New York City) embarrass our nation’s plutocrats in the eyes of the world. That is why sustained protests are effective, although an all-out second American revolution would be the ideal.

I have yet to get my ass down to Sacramento’s Occupy Wall Street effort, Occupy Sacramento, but I support the participants and the protesters 100 percent, and I hope soon to support them more than just in spirit, but to support them practically. They don’t appear to be going away soon — they even have a website with a calendar of events — and their website has listed things that they need to have donated to them, including the basics, such as food, water and toiletries. I can do that much, if I can’t join them for long periods of time, since I work full time.

As Ted Rall points out in his book The Anti-American Manifesto, there are levels of support of revolutionaries. Even if you are able to support the participants of the Occupy Wall Street movement only in spirit, that’s still much better than opposing them.*

Many of us, I think, myself included, have been watching and waiting to see how all of this is going to pan out, and thus far it seems that it’s panning out to be the true people’s movement that the “tea party” traitors only pretended to be.

And I say that from direct observation. In February, at the California State Capitol here in Sacramento, I attended a pro-labor, pro-working-class rally in solidarity with the public-sector unions that were (and that remain) under attack in Wisconsin, and across the street from us was a much-smaller contingent of uninvited, treasonous “tea party” counterprotesters, many of them with videocameras, obnoxiously voicing their opposition to labor unions, very apparently wanting to provoke a physical response from us so that they then could post to the Internet their selectively edited video clips of “unprovoked” labor-union “thuggery.” (I wrote about the event here.)

The vision of those of us who are pro-labor and pro-working-class is that everyone should have a living wage, good benefits and good working conditions. The apparent “vision” of the “tea party” traitors is that almost everyone should be without these things and should be miserable. Those of us who are pro-labor and pro-working-class want to raise all boats; the “tea party” traitors don’t want us to own even viable boats. They want only a handful of us to own yachts while the rest of us sink or swim.

Labor unions, seriously weakened over the past several decades already, probably are the last barrier between bad and even worse, the last barrier — short of all-out bloody revolution — preventing all of us from becoming serfs to our corporate feudal overlords.

Yet the “tea party” traitors gladly would destroy that barrier. They claim that they follow in the footsteps of the early American revolutionaries who opposed the oppressive British monarchy, which profited obscenely from the early Americans’ labors, yet today’s “tea party” traitors do not oppose, but aid and abet, the oppressive corporatocrats and plutocrats, who are today’s monarchs, as stupidly as chickens aiding and abetting Colonel Sanders. Which is why I call them traitors: because they are. They support the status quo, they support the powers that be over their fellow Americans. Under their “vision” things only can get much, much worse.

Which is why the “tea party” already is pretty much dead: The insanity of “revolutionaries” fighting on behalf of our corporate oppressors is evident to even the dullest among us.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, on the other hand, feels like something else. It’s not a bunch of treasonous troglodytes in tri-corner hats pretending to have the monopoly on patriotism and Americanism. It’s a bunch of normal, working-class Americans, many if not most of whom now have nothing else to lose. At rope’s end, they now find themselves out in the streets.

Our young people especially have nothing to look forward to unless the current system of inequity, built up over decades (starting, most notably, with Ronald Reagan, whom President Hopey-Changey fucking worships, unsurprisingly) to benefit a select few at the expense of the vast majority of the rest of us,  is not reformed/“reformed,” but is replaced.

And people who have nothing to lose are, let me tell you, dangerous to the status quo.

That, I think, is why the “tea party” traitors never felt like much more than a national irritant: the “tea party” traitors, for the most part, aren’t desperate people, aren’t people with nothing else to lose. They’re just a bunch of tools who are trying to prop up the crumbling system of rule by the stupid white man, who incredibly stupidly believe that the way to improve things is to continue to do what you’ve been doing all along — only with even more force and fervor.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, however, feels like an incipient hurricane, one that, if it grows to its full potential, can — will — alter the national sociopolitical landscape forever.

The Occupy Wall Street movement might seem to have come out of nowhere, but that’s not the case. While we Americans have been focused on differences such as race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, ethnicity, etc., what almost all of us (indeed, 99 percent of us, the protesters say) have in common is that over at least the past several decades, those in power, gradually and behind the scenes, have been stacking the deck increasingly in their favor and against ours.

To name just a few of their deck-stacking victories, they have the U.S. Supreme Court, which has deemed corporations to be people, on their side; they have most of the members of the U.S. Congress in their pockets in a system in which paying off legislators isn’t called what it is — bribery — but is called “campaign finance”; they own and operate even President Hopey-Changey, who can’t make enough of them his economic advisers; and because of all of this, the functions of our nation’s laws and our nation’s law enforcement (and our nation’s military, too, of course), over decades, have been grossly contorted from benefitting and protecting us, the people, to delivering even more of our commonwealth into the hands of the super-rich few.

It’s much like how a virus hijacks a cell and changes the cell’s normal functions over to the replication of more viruses, benefiting the virus but eventually destroying the cell.

And our presidential elections under the political duopoly of the increasingly indistinguishable Coke Party and Pepsi Party have become such a fucking national joke to the point that about the only people who can become excited about them are the rich and the super-rich who have poured their millions and millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of the money-whores who, once in the White House, would sell us out the most.

Again, this isn’t a system that you can “reform.” This is a system that you can only raze. And then you start over again.

Anyway, here are more thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street movement, which at this point we can call a movement:

It’s fine that everything isn’t hammered out yet. Probably the No. 1 way to try to kill an individual’s or a group of individuals’ enthusiasm for creating something new — and thus to preserve the status quo, even though the status quo even literally is killing all of us — is to point out that he or she or the group doesn’t have every future move choreographed yet.

So fucking what? Getting there is more than half of the fun, and things do happen organically, if we just let them unfold and don’t panic that we don’t have a clear roadmap yet.

The early American revolutionaries surely didn’t have everything all mapped out, and to a huge degree their efforts were a shot in the dark (sometimes even literally). Yet it was their hunger for freedom from their oppression that kept them going, even against the fear of not knowing what the future would hold for them, including potential retaliation from their oppressors, including even their execution.

It’s perfectly OK to employ corporately produced and delivered goods and services in our fight against corporate oppression. In fact, it’s not just OK, it’s pretty unfuckingavoidable. Early into the Occupy Wall Street movement, the “tea party” traitors and/or their sympathizers put this “clever”  image out there:

down with evil corporations

Ha ha ha ha ha! That’s so fucking funny!

OK, yes, in a capitalistic system such as ours, by definition corporations/capitalists own and control the means of production. Therefore, most of the products and services in such an economic system would have been produced and delivered by corporations/capitalists. Duh.

But this is the problem: Those relative few who own and control the means of the production of goods and the delivery of services are slowly killing the rest of us (global warming is just one example, but probably the most [literally] glaring one), and they have taken over so much of the people’s business and so many of the people’s natural interests that it has left us, the people, fairly powerless, and has put us at their mercy. (The massive British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, on the sidelines of which the U.S. government sat fucking helpless, is a stark example of this.)

We, the people, need to own and control the means of the production of essential goods and the delivery of vital services and/or, at the very, very least, exercise meaningful, substantial, democratic oversight of capitalist production and practices to ensure that the net effect of this capitalist activity is not to our common detriment, but is to our common benefit. It’s a fucking lie that the corporations are going to police themselves. They’re not. Their only concern is ever-increasing profiteering. They don’t give a flying fuck about what happens to the rest of us as the result of that.

But the “humorous” image above does apparently unintentionally illustrate the degree to which corporations have infiltrated our lives. Of course, the image apparently assumes that corporations (the majority of them, anyway) are benevolent and that the Occupy Wall Street protesters just don’t know how great they have it. In order to try to prevent the slaves from revolting, the masters always tell the slaves how much the slaves need them, don’t they?

Anyway, it’s perfectly fine — and, as I said, fairly unfuckingavoidable — to use the goods and services produced or delivered by corporations in the fight against against corporate greed, in our fight against the ongoing corporate feudalization of the United States of America. This isn’t “Avatar” where we’re the natives and we can use only what we find in nature, for fuck’s sake. (Besides, if we did that, they’d only criticize us for our bongos and for our loincloths…)

Speaking of which, um, what’s wrong with bongo drums? Anyone who doesn’t mimic the consumeristic clones portrayed in corporate advertising isn’t a human being worthy of dignity and respect? It seems to me that the point of a revolution is freedom — which of course includes the freedom to be the way that one wants to be and the freedom to do what what wants to do as long as he or she isn’t harming anyone else.

The system won’t be changed from within, won’t be changed by cooperating with it. (Try to cooperate with it, and it will only co-opt you.) The protesters should keep their bongos and wholeheartedly reject the idea that the way to win this budding revolution is to don a three-piece-fucking-suit and act just like the assholes whom they want to overthrow.

The corporate media prostitutes who with straight faces call themselves “reporters” and “journalists” are owned and controlled by their corporate pimps, so it’s not like they’re ever going to be on our side anyway. Let them find the colorful members of Code Pink and the one person in the crowd who brought his or her bongo drums and put that kind of stereotypically negative image out there. (I love Code Pink, by the way. The members of Code Pink have balls, which is why they are so widely hated by cowardly, corporation-obeying sheeple.) Once the people’s revolution were complete, there would be no more treasonous corporate media anyway — which is why the self-preserving, self-interested corporate media portray in a negative light anything that threatens their continued parasitical existence.

The use of violence should never be taken off of the table. “Peaceful” this, “nonviolent” that — that kind of wussy talk makes me want to vomit. When did the so-called 1 percent ever rule out the use of violence against the rest of us? Indeed, when they’re not using actual violence against us, such as with police brutality or even just threatening to sic the National Guard on us, they are employing socioeconomic violence against us every fucking day (yes, Americans die every day because they do not have access to adequate health care, shelter, food, clothing and other basic necessities, almost all of which are controlled by our loving corporations).

Of course I don’t advocate wanton, willy-nilly violence in the street that is for the amusement of the perpetrators rather than for the greater cause. But I can think of no major world revolutions that did not take place without at least the credible threat of violence. The treasonous plutocrats aren’t just going to give us back what they stole from us over decades because we nicely ask them to do so. (Ted Rall and I are in agreement on this, and if you haven’t read his Anti-American Manifesto yet, you should — and you can get it for less than $10 on amazon.com [which, yes, is a corporation that for now is an/the avenue for most of us to most cheaply purchase books].)

Speaking of violence, whose side are the cops on? Increasing incidents of police brutality raise this question. (Didn’t the actions of the cops during Hurricane Katrina demonstrate to us whose side they are on?) Let’s fucking face it: Most cops are just paid security guards for the rich and the super-rich. And to add insult to injury, we, the people, pay the salaries of these security guards who work not for us, but who work for the rich and the super-rich.

Let me just say this: When the shit really hits the fan, those cops (and yes, members of the military, too) who still are trying to protect our oppressors instead of protecting us will be identified by the masses for who they are: agents of the oppressors. The cops might have some weaponry and some skill in using it, but we, the people, can get weapons, too, and we vastly outnumber the cops.

(I fully support the Second Amendment, because you never know when/if you will need to defend yourself, but I believe in the judicious use of firearms and other methods of force. I’m not one of the ignorant, fearful gun nuts who believes that the best way to solve virtually every conflict or threat or to get what you want is with a gun, but at the other extreme, “judicious” doesn’t mean that you rule out the use of force in every single conceivable situation, and thus a belief in blanket nonviolence is bullshit.)

Buckle up! Any budding revolution could fizzle, I suppose, but the Occupy Wall Street movement seems different. It seems like it’s here to stay for at least the foreseeable future.

Minimally, the Occupy Wall Street movement seems to be striking fear into the cold hearts of those sellouts who call themselves “Democrats” and “liberals” who had thought that they could shit and piss upon their base indefinitely. Maximally, the Occupy Wall Street movement will result in the second American revolution that we have needed for a long, long time — a revolution that will be only as bloody as the treasonous plutocrats and their supporters (who include the “tea party” traitors and those cops and members of the military who attack the American people in defense of the plutocratic traitors) necessitate.

Those sellouts who call themselves “Democrats” and even “liberals” don’t dare openly criticize the Occupy Wall Street movement, since the Occupy Wall Street movement consists of the millions and millions of us who are pretty fucking pissed off that we were promised “hope” and “change” but have seen only the gap between the rich and the poor widen since President Hopey-Changey took office in January 2009.

Wall-Street-weasel-coddler-in-chief Barack Obama has not a shred of credibility left, so I don’t see Team Obama successfully co-opting the Occupy Wall Street movement for Obama’s re-election campaign. Obama can’t now openly oppose Wall Street without only drawing even more attention to the fact that he’s been in bed with the Wall Street weasels since before he took office.

It’s safe to assert, I think, that the audaciously arrogant Obama and his henchpeople never saw the deeply politically embarrassing Occupy Wall Street movement coming, and that they’re still scrambling to figure out how to respond to it. (They will, I surmise, do their best to pretend that the new movement doesn’t even exist, since it wasn’t in their 2012 re-election playbook, and they will continue to pretend that we’re still in 2008, when “hope” and “change” weren’t just empty campaign slogans. The best slogan that they could come up with for 2012 would be something like “Really This Time!” — but how many would buy it?)

Defeating faux progressives like Obama & Co., I might argue, is even more of a coup for us actual progressives than is defeating blatant right-wingers, because if even phony progressives won’t be tolerated any longer, how could blatant right-wingers be tolerated any longer?

Finally, support your local revolutionaries! It seems to me that unless they can do something grandiose, many if not most people don’t do anything at all. The net result of this is that no one does anything. There are plenty of things that you can do that don’t cost (much) money. If it’s not feasible for you to camp out at one of the occupation sites across the nation, as it isn’t for me, you still can talk to your friends, family members and associates in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. You can blog in support of the movement and otherwise assert your support for the movement on the Internet.

If the movement isn’t perfect, at least it’s Americans getting off of their asses and into the streets in order to redress their grievances, which is loooong overdue.

When you hear some assbite defend the corporations, such as with the “funny” graphic above, you can call him or her on his or her shit.

If you can give money or other necessary resources to the occupiers, why not? While writing this longer-than-usual blog post I gave $25 to Occupy Sacramento (my name is on their donors’ page, which is kind of cool). I’d rather be camping out with them, but giving them a donation is better than doing nothing at all.

At the bare minimum, if you don’t want to help to create a better world, if you are too fearful and cowardly and/or too lazy and/or too self-interested and/or too uncreative and untalented to help to alter the status quo, then the least that you can do is to stay out of the fucking way of those of us who are trying to make a difference.

P.S. As many have noted, one of the simple ways that you can fight back is to withdraw every penny that you have in any bank and to use only credit unions, not banks. I’ve used only credit unions for more than a decade now, and I’m quite happy with credit unions’ service.

*Occupy Sacramento’s donations page first lists this as the kind of support that it is seeking:

Spiritual

It’s not all about money; you can also support us by sharing the movement with your friends and family. Make a post on Facebook letting us know that you have our backs. Call the mayor and let [his office] know you support this movement.

I am pleased that Occupy Sacramento lists spiritual support first. It is a statement of faith that from spiritual support, material support naturally follows. And that’s not just faith; that’s observable fact.

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