'Occupy' and the Constitution

Most conservatives adore the Second Amendment. Witness Tea Party people showing up at town hall meetings openly packing heat (Though it is questionable any of them belong to a well-regulated militia). However, when it comes to First Amendment rights “peaceably to assemble” and “redress of grievances,” not so much.

The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the land, or so I was taught in school. But altogether too often, this fact appears to be missing in the thought processes of so many in positions of power. The most glaring recent example of this is the behavior of police in response to various gatherings of the “Occupy Movement.” Police are law enforcement officers. One often sees their slogan “To Protect and Serve” painted on their vehicles. Who on Earth were those officers who pepper sprayed the demonstrators at UC Davis and those harmless women in New York protecting? Those folks were no threat to anybody. If anything, police ought to have been there to protect the First Amendment rights of those same people.

Newt Gingrich advised the occupiers to “Go get a job right after you take a bath.” I think Rev. Al Sharpton offered a great reply by asking Newt to send addresses where the jobs were available. Marie Antoinette said of the French revolutionaries, “Let them eat cake.” Did they go home and eat cake? No, and although I do not advocate violence, they replied by showing up with a guillotine. Promotion of the “general welfare,” meaning the welfare of all the people, as provided in the Preamble to the Constitution, is not a virtue of people like Mr. Gingrich who have such a low opinion of and a lack of regard for others. He professes to having found God and touts his religiosity. He and his ilk need to revisit the Commandments and Matthew, Chapter 25.

Thomas R. Stumbaugh
Camino, Calif.

Up Against It in Heartland

Here in St. Joe County in NW Indiana, the citizens are under siege. A while back, we successfully fought off a wrong-headed attempt to site a coal-powered generating plant smack on top of our local aquifer. That was about 7 years ago. That struggle was immediately followed by another struggle in the county to get rules and regulations put into place over proposed confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) — another threat to the health and well being of the locall citizenry — and, by the way, another struggle we won.

At that point, we set about revamping the local tax abatement ordinance so the community got something out of it as well as the corporations. That’s a struggle that is ongoing.

You see, the Powers-That-Be have been marshaling their own forces and political toadies, ever since we shot down their dreams of federal money from the coal plant plan. They’d dismissed us as tree-huggers and NIMBYs and not worthy of their notice back then and it was their downfall. Having since learned different, they are out for our blood — and our lungs and our kidneys and any other bodily organs that will fall prey to the toxins they are poised to spew into our backyards. Short-term financial gains and a handful of McJobs are enough for them, evidently, to sell the air we breathe and the water we drink and the land we live on and tough luck for us.

More recently, the latest struggle hereabouts is against a plan to site a junkyard/vehicle shredder operation within spitting distance of that same aquifer, in a watershed area. IDEM, the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management, or should I say “MisManagement,” has fast-tracked the permitting for this project, such as it is. All IDEM and the proponents for this ill-advised scheme seem to think is needed is an Air Quality Permit. They’ve decided that, despite its close proximity to one of the best water resources in this part of the State of Indiana, no storm water runoff permit is required for the 12 acres of concrete they’ll be pouring as soon as construction begins. Neither do they think they’ll need any solid waste permitting to oversee recovery and storage of the various hazardous materials that will be moving throughout the site. No surface water or groundwater contamination permits. Nada. Nothin’ to worry about here.

Payback is — exactly what they say it is. We have been deemed a “sacrifice area” for the rest of the county and the state to teach us to oppose the financial dreams of our betters downstate. Outgoing Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels stated we have a “poor me” attitude. Well, sir, with a natural gas-fired power plant in the works for the same property they eyeballed for their coal gasification pipe dreams, I’m beginning to feel just a little bit “poor me,” tell the truth, and I’m just enough of a “tree-hugger” not to want any part of contributing to the serious health threats posed by natural gas “fracking” nor anything to do with someone being able to light their tap water on fire.

Attempts to enlist some national attention from other progressive publications have yielded — well, not so much, thus far anyways. Perhaps you could give us a mention in your next issue? And see if someone in a position of greater power might think ours is a cause worth supporting

Jack Daly
St. Joseph Co. Concerned Citizens
New Carlisle, Ind

Preborn and Unborn

Seems like many lawmakers are obsessed with extending rights to the pre-born and the unborn while being equally determined to deny rights to the rest of us. Thankfully, astute Mississippians in November prevented (for now) an amendment that defined “personhood” to include pre-birth life forms [An Ethical Challenge, by Hank Kalet, 12/1/11 TPP].

Regardless where these voters stand on the issue of abortion, they may have realized that many contraceptives terminate an already fertilized egg, so that had this amendment passed, using certain contraceptives could also have been characterized as murder.

That slope gets slippier when you consider that even before they connect, the unfertilized egg and the spermatozoa are also live, latent pre-born humans. Had this amendment passed, should they not have also been extended the right to life, for protection as a potential human? Where does it stop, and the right of the actual human prevail?

We know this is not really about right to life at all. If it were, right-to-lifers would demonstrate at least a minuscule twinge of compassion for the already born. They’d be up in arms about, say, the approximately one in five children who go to bed hungry in this country. About this, though, you hear nary a peep, except the occasional push to cut more from school lunch programs, or to designate pizza as a vegetable to enrich some corporation.

We know, therefore, that this issue is all about control. At the other end of the spectrum is another right-to-life effort to extend human rights to a bunch of inanimate creations which have never seen the inside of a womb (giving new meaning to the term “the unborn”): Corporations.

There is no logic to it, but we humans now appear to stand between the privileged pre-born and these unborn “persons.” While these lawmakers battle ruthlessly to win rights for the pre-born and the unborn, they cannot deny any sort of right or protection to us, real humans, fast enough. It’s as if they actively loathe us. This would be mildly entertaining as a B-movie thriller, but it’s downright scary as real life.

If there was ever a time to revisit the Declaration of Independence, it is now! ...

Thank you so much!

Nancy Churchill
Oregon, Ill.

Holiday Video Picks

So now that “Occupy” is for now at least displaced by both winter and withering if not totally deceased and illusionary First Amendment protections I thought I would invade Rob Patterson’s territory with some of my documentary picks for the holiday that seem newly relevant in light of the last several months. For those younger folks of the Occupy Movement looking for historical perspective I offer these as a crash course in US and world history likely denied you in school. After all anything challenging American Exceptionalism is deemed unsuitable for young and impressionable minds. It’s called indoctrination.

From BBC television: The Trap, Century of The Self, Power of Nightmares, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace. These documentaries by Adam Curtis pull many seemingly unrelated events together creating a greater understanding of ‘the big picture’ and the interconnectedness of ideas and what they create in the physical world.

Zeitgeist Addendum, Zeitgeist Moving Forward from ‘The Venus Project’. Addendum explains the fractional reserve monetary system and shows how it is designed to create economic divides and its roll in social engineering and an alternative system called the Resource Economy. Moving Forward examines the current system’s role in creating criminal incentives acting on physiology and behavior adaptations both in pre and post natal development. It further fleshes out the Resource Economy concept.

Super Power covers America’s roll in defining the past and present power structures in the world since 1945.

PsyWars is an easy-to-grasp history of official propaganda promoting the uniqueness of America as a chosen people, militarism and consumerism.

Food Matters highlights the importance of eating quality foods, ‘super foods’ and raw foods and lost and suppressed research documenting the benefits of avoiding processed foods and the roll of Big Pharma in promoting the “Pill for every Ill” lifestyle over a healthy lifestyle.

And my last pick, What Would Jesus Buy?. This is a road trip documentary following The Reverend Billy of The Church of Stop Shopping Now across America. It is a humorous but right-on look at the consumer culture and its consequences both here and abroad.

Get these documentaries, sit back and be informed, entertained and maybe even inspired to approach the next counter move in a new and creative way. Knowledge is power.

Clee Paul Ames
Eureka, Utah

Make Corporations Miss Us

Roger Bybee reports that corporations don’t want to pay living wages to American workers because 600 million of the world’s population, even in poor countries, can afford to buy their products. (“Corporations Secede for Cheap Labor,” 11/15/11 TPP).

Thus, corporations aren’t relying on average American consumers to make a profit.

Such a betrayal of the American worker by the likes of GE and GM should make us hope for a Mohandas Gandhi who could lead us to boycott corporations such as those, and inspire us to some degree of self-sufficiency.

I’m not suggesting that we spin cotton and make our own garments. After all, I’ll bet the average American already has enough clothes to last at least a year. And we could have our shoes repaired instead of buying new ones.

Also, we could buy our produce from local farmers markets rather than the corporate supermarkets.

And why do we have to spoil our children with expensive toys and “cool” expensive clothes? Why not teach them, instead, the virtues of discipline and sacrifice for the common good?

If the majority of Americans did all those things, then corporations might realize they can no longer seduce us with their foreign-made products. Then perhaps they’d open shop in the United States, pay decent wages with benefits, and - who knows? - even fall on their knees and beg us to buy the stuff they peddle.

David Quintero
Monrovia, Calif.

Housing Economics

I enjoy Gene Lyons’ frank observations and the obvious truths they reveal. His article in the 12/1/11 edition about [New York Mayor Michael] Bloomberg’s spurious lies regarding the “subprime meltdown” leaves absent the true prime cause — a crisis of overproduction.

In his book, Bad Money, Kevin Phillips describes Alan Greenspan as a “serial bubbler,” correcting one bubble with another. When the Fed increased the money supply in the early 2000s, the dollars followed the path of least resistance and flowed to the housing boom, then ensuing in Florida, Arizona, California and Nevada. More money produced more houses and eventually the need to create exotic instruments and schemes to keep the production line moving. That these schemes were fantastically profitable (even to the point of selling their own mortgage-backed securities short) only exacerbated the problem.

Simply put, capitalism requires an infinite expansion of investment opportunities and ways to make a profit. Otherwise, the expansion recedes. Plateauing is not an option.

In the housing crisis, this truth slammed up against the finite ability of enough people to absorb the product. The first rule of capitalism is “whatever the market will bear” — until it doesn’t!

Robert McAllister
Riviera Beach, Fla.

Ted Rall and Starhawk

I have to say I got a chuckle reading Ted Rall’s bilious description of Starhawk as a “writer of genre novels.” It’s true she wrote The Fifth Sacred Thing, which is really quite a well-done utopian piece, but her major work over the past 40 years has been as psychologist, political activist, nonviolent civil disobedience trainer(best ever!), and permaculturalist. She’s written many works about power relationships, gender roles, global justice and religion. Starhawk is an internationally respected trainer for peace and social justice issues, and it’s very interesting that many of the techniques she and others have developed for nonviolent change-making are being used by Occupiers around the world.

You really ought to consider attending her Earth Activist training sometime, Mr. Rall. You’d be a fun addition to the group, and you’d get a kick out of it, and probably learn a thing or two as well.

Sue Skinner
Astoria, Ore.

Real Health Hazard

How dare they say that the “Occupy” sites “pose a health hazard” when BP mucked up the whole Gulf Coast?

Fracking destroys entire cities’ water supplies. Strip mining, clearcut logging, mountaintop removal, supported by banks, wreak havoc on water, air quality, soil and wildlife and humans.

It is so clearly the corporations that are the real health hazard!

Barbara Tomlinson
Seattle, Wash.

From The Progressive Populist, January 1-15, 2012


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