Democracy works best when ordinary citizens inform themselves and participate in public policy discussions



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Blood Oath: Public Comment Period Open


The Blood Oath:

I do so solemnly swear that I believe with the deepest conviction that money is not speech and that only human beings are persons entitled to constitutional rights including the right to access the legislative process and the right to influence politicians, political campaigns and elections.

Furthermore, I promise to use my position as an elected official to make a priority of instituting and/or supporting a process whereby corporate person-hood is legally dissolved and the concept of money as speech is legally abolished.

Those that swear by The Blood Oath will not be required to run a blade across their palms.  The Blood Oath is a symbolic recognition that human beings have blood running through their veins and corporations do not.  Elected officials and those seeking elected office will be asked to swear by The Blood Oath;  their accedence or refusal shall be well publicized.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

OWS: It's Not About One Demand; It's About Your Piece of the Work


Thanksgiving Day, 2011, U.S.A.--I am truly thankful for the Occupy Wall Street movement.  It has already done so much for me, for my fellow Americans and for my country.  There is now a national dialogue that is focused on an inherent unfairness that has been festering like a cancer in our society.  This sickness has manifested in symptoms such as unequal access to our political process, unequal access to health care and educational institutions, disparity of treatment under our legal system, energy, agricultural, transportation and housing that is not sustainable and a labor force that has been taken for granted.

Although ordinary Americans, like myself, have felt this sickness in our guts, we have been distracted from identifying it for what it is by a political paradigm that pits us against one another, a mainstream media owned by corporations that profit from our distraction and great wealth that until recently had been distributed just evenly enough to avoid mass protest.

We are no longer distracted!  Thank you OWS.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, 2 Months: Fighting Back

November 19, 2011--This was my first visit to The Occupation since the police raid in the early hours of Tuesday, November 15, 2011.  Metal barricades surround the entire park with designed entrance and exit points guarded by Brookfield security officers.  The western portion of the park was vacant, except for security and police.  The eastern portion of the park contained fragmented groups of occupiers with an abundance of fringe messengers such as 9/11 conspiracy theorists. 

It was also darker because of the absence of generators and lighting previously provided by the occupiers but disallowed under the new rules.  Moreover it was scarier due to the increase in confrontational incidents between protesting civilians and between the police and occupiers.  Within the first 20 minutes of my arrival there were three such confrontations.  In one such incident 4 or 5 NYC Police Officers wrestled a demonstrator to the ground and removed him in handcuffs.  During the struggle, the encircling crowd closed in on the police.  Someone in the crowd shouted: "grab his gun!"  My adrenaline sky-rocketed as I became afraid of what might follow.

Luckily, a cool-headed occupier implored the mob to "calm down" and said, "We don't want a riot."  The crowd resorted to chants of "the whole world is watching" and "what did he do?"  Evidently, from talking with both the occupiers and Brookfield security personal the incident involved someone who purportedly cut down some of the Christmas lights that have been strung-up on the trees within the park.  Was I in Liberty Plaza, Zuccotti Park or some strangely disturbing amalgamation of the two?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fourth Estate Accountability: Sports Reporting, a Case Study


There is a weak link in our democracy.  So much depends upon the citizenry possessing relevant and factual information about the effects of our existing policies as well as reasonable approximations of the consequences of legislative proposals.  The so-called "fourth estate", also known as the free press, is pretty much free to report the story however they see fit. 

This is not to say that the commercialized free press tends to report out-and out-lies, sometimes they do, but promoting an out-and-out lie is hard to sustain.  When the lie is finally exposed, credibility is compromised.  A much better way to mislead the public is to focus on red herrings and present the story within the context of a paradigm that obscures the truth.

A contemporary example of this phenomenon is the way the commercialized free press is consistently mischaracterizing the Occupy Wall Street movement.  A deceptive narrative that the mainstream media is pitching hard is that OWS is a Democratic Party alternative to the Tea Party, and whereas the Tea Party is opposing big government, OWS is opposing big money.  The truth is that both occupiers and rank-and-file members of the Tea Party are opposed to the corrupting influence of big money on our political process.  Another truth is that top Democrats as well as top Republicans are recipients of sizable corporate endowments and are beneficiaries of our system of crony capitalism.

So why would the commercialized free press deliberately obfuscate these truths? 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nittany Lies: Anatomy of Corruption


My father grew up in Western Pennsylvania.  He taught me how to block and fire out of a three-point stance when I was four years old.  He taught me how to block before he played catch with me, and we hardly ever played catch--the essence of the game is blocking and tackling--that's what we practiced.  As I grew older, about the only activity we both truly enjoyed doing together was watching football on T.V.

When I first got into watching football as a young boy, it was almost exclusively the pros.  Eventually I came to appreciate the college game, which my father preferred.  He loved watching line-play, he loved good blocking and tackling; he loved a strong defense; he loved Penn State, and he loved Joe Paterno.