Posts Tagged ‘Occupy’

Happy to be a Radical Centrist

November 1, 2014

Thank God, the autumn years of my life have landed me in position of being a radical centrist.

The Democrats are fixated on entitlements, victimhood and income inequality; the Republicans are obsessed with guns, selfishness and romanticizing what this country used to be.

Here’s news for you Democrats: Roosevelt (may peace be upon him) died, a long time ago.

And news for the Republicans: Reagan (God bless him) also died, a little while back.

Lately, the residues of these two legacies have polarized toward two extremes: wild-eyed progressives on one end, chubby conservatives on the other. But what the world needs now is, as Dionne Warwick sang, love, sweet love, whhich means, politically: people in the middle like me, lest the whole dam American experiment fall apart. Blessed are the peacemakers.

As a 63-year-old boomer, I identify with the protest that was raised by young whippersnappers in the streets of Chicago during the Democratic convention of 1968. I would love to have been there, but I was a student doing a summer job. Even so, I also appreciate the protest that Tea Party people have raised, in recent decades, against our debilitating welfare state. I probably shoulda been there too, at the tea party, but I had to work that day.

Both Movements have their legitimate, appreciable place in the history of this great free nation. And both have their respective bowel movements to dispose.

There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, regardless of who pays or doesn’t pay for it. We gotta keep the planet clean, while keeping things together on the home front.

It’s time now for both sides to acknowledge that the other side has a right to be here too, because, you know, none of us are just going to “go away.”

Although each of us will, in due time, go away from  this life.

I find myself, as a maturing centrist, continuously fascinated with and appreciating the legitimate talking points of both extremes, left and right. So I offer some advice for you all you extremists out there, all ye SDSers and John Birchers, all ye libertines and libertarians:

To you Occupy activists, and all ye who are so progressively inclined: I feel your pain, but its probably best that you just find a job instead of hanging out in the street with a sign. If you can’t find a job that suits you, get a part-time gig and then start creating, on the side, a job of your very own design. Maybe it’s a garden on a vacant lot or in your back yard. Maybe it’s just helping old folks and kids cross the street, or collecting sunshine. That would be better than waiting for the government or the dreaded corporatacracy to generate the right job for you. Your mission to improve the world begins with providing for, and managing, your own household.

To you Libertarian preppers, and all ye who are conservatively inclined: Don’t be dogmatic. Dismantling the federal behemoth too abruptly would put thousands or millions of workers on the street who are probably not prepared to pull their own weight, and then we would have a real mess on our hands. I know that you yourself are self-sufficient, or wannabe. You think you can do it all on their own and you do understand that you didn’t build that road and all that, but the days are coming when you will find it expedient to share a little of what you’ve got with others who are less fortunate. And it just may turn out that it’s not the tyrannical feds, but rather God himself ,requiring this benevolence of thee.

Come ye, all Americans.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Focus. Find your center and say: Om ready to be the best that I can be today, and the world will be a better place as a result of it.

Glass half-Full

The “class” thing

January 25, 2014

I am an American, a southerner, college-educated working fellow, married with three grown, and reasonably happy. I love my wife and I love my life. I am a follower of Jesus. Although I do a 40-hour gig as a maintenance guy for 92  apartments, I am not a member of the working “class.”

All this talk these days, arising from the Democrats and sociologists and talking media heads, about “class” this and “class” that, the “working class,” the “privileged” class, the so-called “disappearing middle class”–I wouldn’t give you a nickel for all of it.

As far as I’m concerned, I am an individual, my own man, and beyond classification. God made me just the way I am, thank you, and I thank Him for that. So you can call me middle-class if you want to. You can classify me in the disappearing middle because my working wage is 2/3 of what I was bringing in at my peak, a dozen or so years ago when I was fifty years old. You can call me middle class, working class, dumb-ass, or whatever you wanna call me, you can call me ray, you can call me jay, or ray jay, or  you can call me “hey” or “hey you,” but ya doesn’t have to call me anything at all.

The only identity that matters is what my wife, my grownup young-uns, loved ones and friends call me–Carey. And btw I’ll soon be publishing the third novel, which is named Smoke. So put that in your literary pipe and smoke it.

This little class rant came up this morning because I have been hearing more and more about these designated class distinctions lately, ever since, oh, couple years ago when the Occupy thing started and they were out in the streets–I watched them for two days in Vancouver and Seattle–with their signs about the 1% and the 99% and all that redistributionist and income disparity hype.

Maybe I’m in the 99%, maybe I’m way down in the 50% or even below that. I don’t care. If I had a chance to join the 1%, I would jump at it. This great country was built on upward mobility.

We used to call it the American Dream. I still do. I’m not subscribing to this neo-marxian class stuff. No thank you. It’s just for political manipulation, and I am no political hack’s lackey. Therefore am I not pleased to accept some sociologist’s semi-permanent societal place assignment. Well, maybe “first class”. I would settle for that, but I’m not buying the proletarian, nor the bourgeois label.

Speaking of “not buying”. . .

This morning I began reading David Horowitz’ excellent autobiography, Radical Son.

Here is a passage from page 39 that got my attention, then became, it seems, the impetus for the little bloggish rumination you are now reading. From Radical Son:

“At the time my parents moved into the (Sunnyside) Gardens in 1940, they could have purchased the house on Bliss Street for $4000–less than its original price. But as radicals, they had scorned the opportunity to own property and moved in as renters. Seven years later, the Gardens were acquired by new owners, who decided to sell of the individual units, including our house. A Sunnyside Tenants’ Association was organized to resist the sales.”

Why did David’s parents not buy their house when they had the chance to do it? Weren’t they Americans? Well not yet, apparently.

They were second generation Americans, from Russian immigrants, and they identified themselves as communists. I understand that angst; its where they came from, how they were brought up and so forth. They did not subscribe to the American dream, but to the Russian communist dream that they had brought with them, and then dragged it as excess baggage off the boat at Ellis Island.

Son David later learned, in the school of hard knocks, what it means to be an American, to be an opportunist for yourself and your family, instead of letting yourself be limited by an imposed class identity. If his parents had been willing to learn that lesson in 1940 when they bought their home in Sunnyside Gardens, maybe they would have acceded a little more successfully to the American Dream motivator. But hey, they were immigrants; what can you expect? It takes a generation or two off the boat to acquire a taste for this melting pot porridge. David Horowitz’ life is testimony to that, and that is what his book is about.

Now I’m a southerner, and very different from all those immigrants and their Old World forebears who got off the boat at New York Harbor. (My wife, Pat, is however from an Irish family from New Jersey.) And although my life experience is very different from that of Mr. Horowitz, I sure enjoy reading a good book, which is btw, the key (reading and education) to overcoming all this classist entrapment that’s going around now.

Try it some time, you’ll learn a thing or two from reading a book, even if its on your Kindle.

Smoke

The Gunpowder Guard Guy

April 7, 2012

While visiting Seattle last fall, I observed the Occupy Seattle for a couple of days. I thought it would be interesting to see what was going on in that city’s setting where riots had erupted in 1999 during the World Trade Organization meeting. It was.

One thing I noticed at Occupy Seattle was a particular mask–several of them, actually–being worn by some of the Occupyers. You may have noticed it in a photo or two taken during the coverage of that movement last year. The face depicted on the mask resembles the classic Greek drama/comedy symbol. It is male face with a thinly styled handlebar moustache, presenting a rather bizarre plastic smile.

My later research revealed the visage to be a representation of some guy named Guy Fawkes. Guy who?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes_mask

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V_for_Vendetta_(film)

Guy Fawkes was a fanatic Catholic terrorist who almost succeeded in blowing up the House of Lords in the year of our Lord 1605. http://www.britannia.com/history/g-fawkes.html

England and Scotland had been all asunder over religion at that time. The great divisive issue of the day was whether the Protestants were to have the run of Great Britain, or whether the Catholics could muscle their way back into power after the 1603 death of Queen Elizabeth I.

Elizabeth’s father, the infamous King Henry VIII, had brought the religious contentions to a boil during his reign (1507-1547.) His multiple marriage escapades, along with an independently brewing Protestantism in England, had severed the ecclesiastical bonds with the Roman church. Elizabeth I had sought, after her father’s death, to stabilize the church of England by encouraging both strains of Christian religious devotion–the popish ceremony and the protestant emphasis on holiness.

According to David Starkey, http://acornonline.com/product.aspx?p=monarchy&sid, the accession of King James I after Elizabeth would manifest an even more Protestant direction for Great Britain. Certain extremists of the Catholic faction did not like this development one bit. So they decided to take manners into their hands with some strategically placed gunpowder fireworks.

Sound familiar? Very modern it was.  This sort of thing has apparently been going on all along in human history, perhaps directly proportional to the pyrotechnic capabilities of each era.

In our time, what’s alarming about the Occupy movement is this terrorist revolutionary undercurrent. Are they willing to identify their movement, and their tactics, with this Guy Fawkes guy? He was a terrorist, outright–caught red-handed on the night Nov 4, 1605, with a fuse to detonate a large gunpowder stash that had been gathered in a cellar chamber directly beneath Parliament in London.

Early IRA stuff it was, and Al Qaidaesque too.

Fawkes and his popish co-conspirators should have been taking their inspiration from the founder of their faith– the Risen Savior– instead of bullish church politics. And that goes for the protestants too. Damn their death-wielding tactics and machinations!

As for the Occupyers, they would do well to take their cues from the Prince of Peace,  resurrected from being dead, instead of any violent revolutionary like that Guy guy.  And I think Rev. Dr. King would agree if he were here.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

The Two Trees

December 24, 2011

I took just a few bites of it–
a few chapters–
and already I knew too much,
more than I can handle now.
To know the truth
if it is the truth
(for who can you believe?)
To know that terrible truth,
to hear the dark pinochet ricochet
even now
thirty years later–
that the so-called chicago boys
put those chile storm troopers up to it?
This knowledge is to terrible for me,
if it is knowledge,
And that sinister suharto shock
heard round the world
Am I supposed to feel
like responsible for this mess?
like I can do somethin about it?
Am I supposed to go out
and clean up all that shit
thats going down?
still going down?
Take up the jacobin club?
–start down that lenin road
that leads to the stalin road
the mao path–
cultural revolution, because of classified wikileaks
because of class-war hijinks
what kinda revolution do they have in mind
when the mob turns impatient
starts to turn
to occupy what? the human condition!
schmoccupy!
a fruit stand in Tunis?
a flaming vision of hell on utube.
There’s no end to that burning.

A plague upon your houses!
There must be a better way
than pissin in the ocean
or in the park.
There must be a better way
than jerkin’ cia strings
and coup d’etat blings.

I can eat no more from this tree now.

I just need to find something else
now,
because all my yankee hope
was sunk into that american dream
and if that dream of hard work bootstraps and get ahead of the game
turns nightmare behind the ugly scenes
with shock doctrine and torture,
i just cant…

I know now why the other tree
satisfies.
Its not too late for the other tree
the one that brings life
not guilt.
I’m not responsible for this stuff.

Come out of it my people.
Because of what Jesus did
I will eat from the other tree.
That’s a better choice than Abraham had,
and sure the hell better than Mohamet
or Mao.
That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.
Merry Christmas from the Garden,
Gethsemane, that is.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Rascals, Scoundrels, and Settlers

November 19, 2011

Rascals rock the boat. Scoundrels would sink it, but Settlers stabilize it.

The boat, in this case, is the USS America.

The Rascals have sensed that something is rotten in Denver, or in Dallas or Detroit, or in anyTown USA. This is certainly true. But hey….they don’t know what to do about it. And since their unemployed, or underemployed, or uneducated or unsettled condition renders the rascals relatively impotent to reshape the world according their tender sense of injustice, they take to the streets in protest. I can relate to it. I was out in the streets when we were in VietNam. Getting out there to make a stand seems like a cathartic something to do;  it is exciting, with all the comraderie and the shared suffering– until the nearby residents, shopkeepers, and civic leaders start upping the ante on the physical consequences of Occupation. Then the cops hype their heretofore patient vigilance into riot-gear insensibility.

Behind the scenes, chronic malcontents would manipulate the wandering rascals, maneuvering their newfound funk toward some kind of revolution, as yet unfocused. Maybe its Lennon’s revolution, or Lenin’s, or Marx’s, or Stephen Lerner’s, Naomi’s, or David’s, who knows.

There is a lot to be upset about, for sure. The rascals are enraged about the greedy corporations, mad at the mediocre politicians, intimidated by the police, yeah yeah. They screw you, yeah yeah yeah. A witch’s brew of issues boil up here: the destabilizing consequences of  competing globalized economies, inequality, outsourcing, bailouts for the 1%, outlandish executive bonuses, unpayable student loans, epidemic foreclosures, environmental degradation, polluted groundwaters, obsessive plastic lifestyles, plastic garbage in the Pacific, filthy pipelines, fracking, fricking…

It is true that we Americans need to be roused, before it is too late, out of our hydrocarbon/carbohydrate stupor, part of which is our self-immolating oil addiction. Our petrochemical habit is a dependency that has economically castrated this formerly-great nation’s independence, and greased us down into a red-light slow-idle energy complacency, comfortably numbed by an obsessive compulsion for visual and audial stimulation.

Up on Capitol Hill– where the WallStreet lobbying 1% conduct their dissonant orchestrations of unfunded mediocrity, the politicians pontificate about a lot of smokescreen issues. For instance, the so-called Solyndra-gate.

This is political grandstanding is dangerous. Their disengenuous inquisitions distract us from some imminent good news: New American job-creating possibilities  are actually being worked on, even as we speak, if the government does not obstruct.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, somewhere in America a few enterprising business people have, believe it or not, quietly settled into the tasks of doing what needs to be done.

… like, heating up technologies to elevate us out self-destructive oil addiction.

Yesterday, while up on a roof clearing gutters, I heard on the radio about two trailblazing west coast solar-tech  producers. Although Solar World and Solaria are not the the only two companies breaking new industrial ground, they are quietly settling us into a homesteading path that leads to real solar-tech cost-reduction productivity. Very soon (if not already), these manufacturers will, with a little help from their many power-hungry friends (US consumers), mass-produce photovoltaic roof- panels on an unprecedented scale. Affordability for John and Jane Doe will be the outcome.

I tuned into the ear-opening update about Solar World and Solaria yesterday while listening to NPR’s ScienceFriday. As it happened, Ira Flatow’s enquiry to the companies’ respective spokesmen, Gordon Binser and Dan Shugar, focused largely on a side issue; the issue was what Gordon Binser calls “illegally subsidized” Chinese dumping of artificially cheapened solar panels. But the entirety of thieir podcast discussion reveals far more than a cordial dispute between two industry leaders about trade strategies.  A half-hour listen draws us into a persuasive force field of updated solar capabilities. For instance, according to Dan Shugar and Gordon Binser:

~100,000 people are employed in US solar industry today. That’s more folks than are working in coal mines, and more than in steel mills.

~The industry grew by 69% last year.

~5000 companies are involved in solar technology here today.

~Labor expense is only 10% of the cost of solar panels. So the issue of Chinese (or developing nations) competition is not as difficult as we might at first think.

~The relative fragility of glass panels reinforces the logic of domestic production and distribution.

~Actual production levels of rooftop electricity are approaching (or already at) a scale that is competitive with other power-generating sources such as nuclear and coal.

~Last year, the solar industry in USA installed, operated and delivered 17 Gigawatts of electricity, the equivalent of 17 nuclear power plants in the middle of a day.

~In the summertime, there is a direct, favorable correlation between solar energy supply and the peak power demand occasioned by widespread air-conditioning.

~When smartly integrated, individual home installations (or institutional ones) can be connected to our existing power infrastructure (with modifications)  to inject electricity into the cumulative power grid. Thus, consumers can become net PRODUCERS of electrical power at certain times of the day, thus lowering their electric bills.

~As demand for solar installations has grown, the cost-reduction curve has followed the same pattern of cell phones, computers, and dvd players. Bet you didn’t know that, huh?

~Solar World has over 1000 employees in Oregon, and has been making photovoltaic panels for over 35 years.

~In Germany, there are some peak-demand times when 40% of contributed electrical input is being generated by solar panels.

I was quite impressed with all these statistics, both yesterday as I heard Dan and Gordon list them for Ira on the radio, and this morning when I replayed the ScienceFriday podcast.

So hey! In the turbidity of all this stir-crazy Occupy controversy, and right in the middle of the bad banking news and European woes, here we find some very real, very timely good news about newfound American industrial innovation, and developing job opportunities on the dark-cloud horizon, maybe even on your community’s own rooftops.

What Dan and Gordon communicated to Ira really comes down to this: the time for cost-effective solar design and application is no longer future. It is now. This is one sector of manufacturing that the Chinese will not be able to dominate, because our automated capabilities can effectively competetive with developing-world low-wage production expense (which is only 10% of a solar panels cost).

And everybody needs a little sustainable wattage.

So, all you angst-ridden discontented shivering souls out there–

Before you Occupy the frigid streets and possibly get thereby injured, infected or arrested, think about a productive alternative:

Occupy, for an hour or two while you fill out the application, the human resources foyer of your local appropriate technology producer. If you don’t find one locally, maybe you’d become the entrepreneur-installer to heat up this movement in your community. Perhaps you’d  be the first one in your community to capitalize on this work–work that really needs to be done if America is going to continue to Occupy its Can-do legacy. The time to Occupy energy independence is now.

Think about it. Like Ira mused yesterday: we Americans invented the light bulb; we invented the energy-generating solar roof panel.

What’s the next thing (or process, or service) we need to invent to light our way out of this oil-pit we’ve dug ourselves into?

Glass half-Full

The Ghost

October 29, 2011

That Occupying spirit face, it hauntifies my mind–
a smirky mask with painted smile upon its face of ghastly white.
Oh! what a ghostly site.
With black-lined clownish bizarrity
it mocks authority,
and conjures up signs of somethin happnin here;
what it is aint exactly clear.
Now fhe windmills of my mind  crank out shadowy spectres from long ago:
the port huron statement and
four dead in ohio.
I see the ghost of  My Lai massacre;
it stalks my g-generation like a smear–
blood on our hands from the tip of an agent-orange-spiked spear.
Out damned spot!
Have you come to splotch us again?
Out, I say, with the dire trespass of dow jones culpability
and exploding napalm fire like some howling banshee.
As puff the magic dragon who used to frolic in autimn mists
so our innocence has spiraled up in smoky days,
with unwelcome images from a Gulf of Tonkin haze.
Deja vu
I feel this wallstreet visitation is a spectre of impending trouble:
calling into question all the blood guilt ever known by man, double
and all the carnage ever splattered on to span
upon a waste and wanton land;
Who’s responsible for this?
And my mind misgives some consequence yet hanging in the stars
shall bitterly begin
with these Occupying rebels
whose consensual zeal would snuff out the wallstreet conniption fit
of capitalism’s big collateralized debt obligation zit,
as if the heart of depraved man could be improved upon a bit.
Oh shit!
This protest, in its collective sensibility,
is presumed more pristine
than corporate culpability,
with its globalized guile and leveraged guilt.
Does their urgent cry for egalité
cloak some fateful guillotine strategé?
A reign of terror from the tyrrany of the ninety-nine
to thrash out the fattened one-percent piggy kine?
Will this produce a future gulag or a forced labor camp,
a cultural revolution led by a raging tramp?
Who’s responsible for this?
this fermenting mobbish contagion
transgression upon our convulsing nation.
It renders ashen white our neo-wallstreet mask
and calls us to blot out the bloody task
of human business.
Out! damned spot, we cry unto the whispering wind.
lay on us no more collateral damage to offend.
And ask not for whom that damned bell  tolls;
now it peels again and again unto our restless souls.

Our ancestral refugees left ghoulish tales from long ago and far away
of the dachau and  the auschwitz and the hitlerian birkenau.
And we hear ghastly tales from the so-called other side
of how they perished in stalin’s gulag, and in the mao’s “cultural revolution” millions died.
By their calculated rearrangements of the classified human chain,
they bound our bloody attempts to declassify into some ghoulish arbitrary game,
where the shedding of guilty blood, for the intent to make everything right
became an instant reply of human cruelty, sprinkled with bloody fright.

Now we the piggy capitalists, have we crossed that same damned line?
Have our reckless swapping one-percent cast unbearable load upon the ninety-nine?
Do you Occupyers now propose to judge their fatcat games
with social restructurings to expunge their selfish shames?
Good luck with that;
it’ll be a cold day in hell
when we know for whom that bell
tolls.
Our capitalist souls?

Glass Chimera