Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Encroaching American Police State

I wanted to comment on the bigger picture in the shooting of Michael Brown. I don’t think you could indict the police in the shooting of someone black or white even if you had a video. A lot of police officers don’t even live in the areas they patrol. That makes me question their commitment to those communities. Over a decade ago when I visited Mexico I learned something about their military. They were everywhere in the streets and their mission was not to protect Mexico from outside invasion. They were there to keep a lid on those who might finally get fed up at the unjust and corrupt country they were living in. As the U.S. further and further militarize our police departments I feel their mission is to keep our citizens in line in case wake up to fact that corporations and the 1% now own our country.

Richard Mellor sent me something he wrote about the Michael Brown case. It does a far better job than I could have done, at pointing out what I’m getting at about the police. I thank him for what he wrote and you can find it here.

An epidemic of police shootings.

Aorta: “My Mind’s Eye”

“Ode to Missy Mxyzosptlk”

“Most middle-class whites have no idea what it feels like to be subjected to police who are routinely suspicious, rude, belligerent, and brutal.”― Benjamin Spock

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Ohio’s War on Public Education

In 2012 and again in 2014, Republican, Sarah Fowler, a 24-year-old former egg farmer from Ashtabula County, Ohio was elected to the Ohio State Board of Education. Her district includes all or parts of Ashtabula, Trumbull, Geauga, Portage, Lake and Summit counties. She had never set foot in a public school as she was homeschooled her entire life.  Her motivation for running was too weaken the regulations on homeschooling. Ohio already has some of the most lenient laws in the country, on home schooling. She stated a big interest in countering the liberal bias and indoctrination that has seeped into public school classrooms over the years.

She has never set foot in a public school but she has an overactive imagination of what takes place there. That and hatred for teachers unions has led her to say some very wacky things. For example, “American history in most Ohio public schools, for example, starts at the Civil War, omitting lessons on the people and documents that founded the United States of America. If we don’t teach how our nation began, and about the people who founded our nation, than how can we expect children to appreciate the sacrifices of the people who fought for our freedom? Gay rights, Marxist ideals, and other elements of the left’s political agenda have slowly crept into school lesson plans with the help of teachers unions and their allies, and it’s important to counter that influence to provide students with a proper education. I would say the union is definitely promoting that agenda, but it’s not something new. It has been going on for a very long time. I think looking at the history of it; it’s been a really well planned out progression to where we’re at. That’s one of my concerns with the public school system – that things are taught accurately and in the proper context. A lot of people are not aware of a lot of things that are being taught.”

I’m sorry Ms. Fowler but Ohio’s children learn about our founders and the Constitution from a very early age. I have no idea where you think kids are learning about Marxism in schools. As for gay rights, if you want to throw the word freedom around, shouldn’t gays have equal rights? I believe homeschoolers like Fowler put a white washed happy face on America’s past. Yes, we should celebrate those who have sacrificed for us (and public schools do) but we should not ignore some of our countries atrocities and mistakes. They are things to learn from and our children cannot learn from them if we pretend they don’t exist. Whitewashing the history of U.S. Imperialism and genocides just makes such atrocities more likely to happen again. I’m lucky because I had history teachers who were honest in their lessons. They taught about the genocide of Native Americans, Manifest Destiny, the quest for empire, Imperialism, Robber Barons etc. I’d love to see Ms. Fowler take a test on these historic facts. I’d love to see more restrictions on homeschooling, not less.

Even though the Democrats picked up two seats on the Ohio State Board of education Republicans still control it. That and the fact that charter school operators have donated millions in campaign contributions to Kasich and Republicans in the state legislature is a problem for public schools. David Brennan (owner of White Hat charter schools) and another for-profit charter school operator, William Lager, have reportedly funneled over $4 million to Ohio Republicans since 2001. Investigation showed that in the 2010-11 school year, no White Hat school in Ohio earned higher than a “C” on the state report card, and most received a rating of “D” or “F.” The state has spent over $1.4 billion just since 2005 on charters that never scored above a D on their annual report cards. Charters get about $7,200 per student in taxpayer funding, compared to about $3,500 per student in traditional public schools.

Public schools are up against a Republican agenda that wants to make money from education the number one goal of education. Conservative homeschooling parents have an agenda that wants to pretend the U.S. is a country whose history is all happy faces. Their agenda also wants to pretend that our Founding Fathers didn’t establish a separation of church and state. We need of help Ohio’s children by electing candidates who have actually set foot inside a public school. We also need to elect candidates that aren’t on the payroll of charter school CEO’s. We also need to stop the lies about our history. In schools this week kids will learn the lie about the first Thanksgiving. Instead, we need to be honest and tell them this truth about the Thanksgiving celebration.

A Brief History of America.

Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. ~Attributed to Jacqueline Winspear

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They Work Until They Drop, So You Can Shop Until You Drop

The Christmas season will soon be here. That means gift buying for millions of Christian Americans. Perhaps, you’re going to buy an iPhone, iPad, Wii U, BlackBerry, Kindle, Play Station 4, X Box One. Americans don’t tend to care where the products they buy come from. Fact is if you’ve bought one of these products you could be helping murder our brother and sister workers in sweatshops around the world. It’s just not these products, it could be any product made by Sony, Nokia, Nintendo, Motorola, HP, Dell and Apple. I say you are complacent in murder because the Foxconn factories in China and Taiwan where these products are made at is driving their workers towards committing suicide.

Foxconn is the world’s largest electronics producer. Their factories (which can have up to 300,000 workers at each) have a history of suicides because of its harsh working conditions. In January 2012, 150 of the Chinese workers threatened to demonstrate by committing mass-suicide to protest the terrible working conditions. The conditions include military style discipline, constant surveillance, working long hours 6 days a week, low pay and paying much of their wages to live in the dormitories at the plants.

At Foxconn’s Shenzhen complex there were 14 deaths from suicide out of 18 attempts in 2010. The deaths occurred when worker’s jumped out of the high rise dormitory. Foxconn’s solution was to put nets around the dorms. They also had employees sign no-suicide pledges and papers saying relatives couldn’t sue Foxconn for unexpected deaths. On September 30, 2014 Shenzhen Foxconn worker Xu Lizhi committed suicide by jumping out his residential dormitory window.

Xu was a poet who had many poems published in local papers. He wrote of brutal conditions on the assembly line. You can smell the scent of death in his poems. Those deaths were all dress rehearsals for his soon to be death. He never showed his poems to family members. He sent money home to them, and did not want his relatives to know the terrible conditions he worked under. I want you to know those conditions before you carelessly shop without regard to what blood, sweat and tears went into the products you buy. I can’t convey that pain any better than by using Xu’s poetic words.

I Fall Asleep, Just Standing Like That”

The paper before my eyes fades yellow
With a steel pen I chisel on it uneven black

Full of working words
Workshop, assembly line, machine, work card, overtime, wages…
They’ve trained me to become docile
Don’t know how to shout or rebel
How to complain or denounce
Only how to silently suffer exhaustion
When I first set foot in this place
I hoped only for that grey pay slip on the tenth of each month
To grant me some belated solace
For this I had to grind away my corners, grind away my words
Refuse to skip work, refuse sick leave, refuse leave for private reasons
Refuse to be late, refuse to leave early
By the assembly line I stood straight like iron, hands like flight,
How many days, how many nights
Did I – just like that – standing fall asleep.
________________________________________
A Screw Fell to the Ground”
A screw fell to the ground
In this dark night of overtime
Plunging vertically, lightly clinking
It won’t attract anyone
Just like last time
On a night like this
When someone plunged to the ground.

Rented Room
A space of ten square meters
Cramped and damp, no sunlight all year
Here I eat, sleep, shit, and think
Cough, get headaches, grow old, get sick but still fail to die
Under the dull yellow light again I stare blankly, chuckling like an idiot
I pace back and forth, singing softly, reading, writing poems
Every time I open the window or the wicker gate
I seem like a dead man
Slowly pushing open the lid of a coffin.

Here is the last poem Xu wrote possibly on the day of his suicide:
I want to touch the sky, feel that blueness so light
But I can’t do any of this, so I’m leaving this world
Everyone who’s heard of me
Shouldn’t be surprised at my leaving
Even less should you sigh or grieve
I was fine when I came, and fine when I left.

Hozier: “Take Me to the Church”

“Work Song”

“I’m the girl nobody knows until she commits suicide. Then suddenly everyone had a class with her.” ~ Tom Leveen

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Evil Caught on Tape

I was sad to see the Youngstown Community Bill of Rights lose at the recent elections. The bill would have banned fracking in Youngstown and protected people’s lives. An area woman said she would have voted for the bill but it was to complicated of a bill. Upon further questioning she hadn’t really read the bill. She just felt the bill was complicated because the commercials being run against it claimed it was complicated wording.

Richard Berman is the owner of Berman and Company, a for-profit management firm that runs fifteen corporate-funded groups. He lobbies for corporations to fight the minimum wage, protect big tobacco, bust unions and protect polluters. He gives talks to corporate executives touting his “win ugly” method of personal attacks on environmentalist, union leaders and anyone who opposes corporate power running this country. He was recently secretly taped at a meeting by an executive who found Berman’s presentation offensive. Berman talked about how you should make jokes about your opponents and claim they are gay. Mr. Berman also said in his speech, you must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger.

He also said you must diminish your opponents moral authority even if you are “attacking Mother Theresa.” Berman also said,the public doesn’t have “the time or the brains to understand initiatives.” He was bragging about how stupid the average American is and how easy it is for corporate lobbyist like him to manipulate  them. That proved to be true of the Youngstown woman I gave an example of and many more who voted against the fracking ban for Youngstown. It also proved to be true when we look at how many corporate tools were just elected in all 50 states. Mitt Romney’s comment dismissing 48% of our citizens and his saying “corporations are people” shows the GOP’s contempt for people and their blind love for corporations.

I’ve said over and over what I am most concerned about is making a better world for my kids. Do you think the children of corporate stooges like Richard Berman think he wants a better world for them? Richard Berman’s son, David Berman, is a 42-year-old singer-songwriter who was the singer for a popular New York City rock band called the “Silver Jews” until they broke up in 2009. Here is why David had lots to say about his father when the band broke up.  “Now that the Silver Jews are over I can tell you my gravest secret. Worse than suicide, worse than crack addiction:

My father.

You might be surprised to know he is famous, for terrible reasons. My father is a despicable man. My father is a sort of human molester.

An exploiter. A scoundrel. A world historical mother******* son of a bitch. (sorry grandma).

A couple of years ago I demanded he stop his work. Close down his company or I would sever our relationship.

He refused. He has just gotten worse. More evil. More powerful. We’ve been “estranged” for over three years.

Even as a child I disliked him. We were opposites. I wanted to read. He wanted to play games.

He is a union buster.

When I got out of college I joined the Teamsters (the guards were union organized at the Whitney).

I went off to hide in art and academia.

I fled through this art portal for twenty years. In the meantime my Dad started a very very bad company called Berman and Company.

He props up fast food/soda/factory farming/childhood obesity and diabetes/drunk driving/secondhand smoke.He attacks animal lovers, ecologists, civil action attorneys, scientists, dietitians, doctors, teachers.

His clients include everyone from the makers of Agent Orange to the Tanning Salon Owners of America.

He helped ensure the minimum wage did not move a penny from 1997-2007!

The worst part for me as a writer is what he does with the English language.

Though vicious he is a doltish thinker, and his spurious editorials rely on doublethink and always with the Lashon Hara.

As I studied Judaism over the years, the shame and the shanda, grew almost too much. My heart was constantly on fire for justice. I could find no relief.

This winter I decided that the SJs [Silver Jews] were too small of a force to ever come close to undoing a millionth of all the harm he has caused. To you and everyone you know.

Literally, if you eat food or have a job, he is reaching you.

I’ve always hid this terrible shame from you, the fan. The SJs have always stood autonomous and clear.

Hopefully it won’t contaminate your feelings about the work … In a way I am the son of a demon come to make good the damage.

Previously I thought, through songs and poems and drawings I could find and build a refuge away from his world.

But there is the matter of Justice.

And I’ll tell you it’s not just a metaphor. The desire for it actually burns.

It hurts.

There needs to be something more. I’ll see what that might be.

DCB
Thank you David for your heartfelt candor. Your father is destroying my kids world but I admire you for trying to make their world better. Thanks to my son, Adam for turning me onto David’s struggle with his father.

 

What Youngstown and our valley’s citizens can learn from Denton, Texas and their ban on further fracking.

John Oliver is right that what elections we really have to fear are state legislature elections who along with ALEC are taking our rights away.

The Silver Jews: “Smith and Jones Forever”

“Punks in the Beerlight”

“Evil people are those who knew they’re evil, but refused to do anything about it.” ~ Jawe Querimit

 

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Keep Ohio and Youngstown Safe

In the past week I saw stories about the gas industry in Ohio, in the Warren Tribune Chronicle. On Tuesday, a gas well near Mingo Junction, Ohio allowed natural and methane gas to leak into the atmosphere. It was a called a very dangerous situation because millions and millions of cubic feet of gas were released. Over 400 homes in a two-mile radius were evacuated. The cause is under investigation. On Tuesday, a pipeline in southeast Ohio carrying a toxic substance produced during natural gas and oil processing caught fire. It is under investigation. Right below nearby Columbiana County is Carroll County. There are 282 active fracking wells in Carroll County. A team from the University of Cincinnati and Oregon State University placed 25 monitors near gas wells in Carroll County. They also placed wrist monitors on some residents living near wells for three weeks. The monitors detected 32 types of hydrocarbon-based compounds, some of which are found in vehicle exhaust, tobacco smoke. The researchers would not further discuss their findings as they want to do further research, determine if fracking harms people’s health. Carroll County resident Kathryn King said the pungent odors from the drilling burn her nostrils. King is paid around $1,000 a month – for the gas being extracted beneath her land, but wishes that fracking had never come to Carroll County “This used to be such an awesome county, so pristine, so clean,” she said. She added, “There’s a whole myriad of things going on that are not good.” Soybean farmer Al Butz said he also rues the day that drilling rigs arrived. “It was a pristine place,” Butz said. “Then all hell breaks loose.”

FrackFree Mahoning Valley has their third attempt of getting a community bills of rights passed on the Nov. 4 ballot in Youngstown. The bill would prevent hydraulic fracking from taking place in Youngstown. Local ads against the bill are saying FrackFree Mahoning Valley members have a radical agenda. That agenda is stopping anymore earthquakes caused by injection wells. They also want to protect our beautiful Mill Creek Park and keep our drinking water at Meander Reservoir safe. Ask Kathryn King and Al Butz if that’s a radical agenda. Ask residents of the 400 homes evacuated in Mingo Junction if that is a radical agenda. Ask the residents of Carrollton County who are serving as guinea pigs if that is a radical agenda. What is a radical agenda is the pipefitters union (along with the anti-union regional chamber) who are willing to put their family and yours in danger for some temporary jobs. Here in Vienna there is a property that has turned into a waste dump for water from injection wells. The family that owns the property is one of the richest families in my community. Meanwhile, my family is in danger from this site and my neighbors and I had no say so in the matter. People of Youngstown you have a choice to keep your families safe by voting for the charter to keep Youngstown frack free. FrackFree Mahoning Valley has spent many hours of time and effort to help you stay safe. Put in the time and effort to get to the polls and save your community. I envy you actually having the chance to keep your families safe. Go vote.

Let’s talk about other dumb union members. I’m talking about guys like Morris Raye who is a UAW member at GM’s Lordstown plant. Morris also works part-time as a radio talk show host on WKBN. Morris said on the air he voted early and voted for Kasich for governor. Morris brushed off the fact Kasich went after public sector unions by trying to pass SB5. Which would have prevented unions from charging fair share dues to employees who opt out of joining the union. Fair share cover the costs of collective bargaining that generally leads to a contract for better wages and benefits for the employees. Then again, the UAW Morris is a member of voted in its contract to let newer brothers and sister union members work for half the wages that their fellow senior union members were earning. A union’s blood is solidarity and creating a second tier of wages destroys that. The GOP is also out to destroy unions, that is why they come up with legislation like SB5. Luckily, the good people of Ohio voted against SB5. Morris doesn’t seem to understand that Kasich will get even more vicious with unions if he is re-elected and a lame duck that can’t run again.

Ron Verb another radio talk show host at WKBN who is also a democrat like Morris says he is voting for Kasich. He says he couldn’t vote for Ed Fitzgerald the Democrat in the race for Ohio governor. Ron bought the dirt thrown at Fitzgerald by the GOP. Ed was seen in the car with a woman who wasn’t his wife and drove without renewing his driver’s license for ten years. Another issue was that Fitzgerald picked State Senator Eric Kearney an African-American from Cincinnati. It was soon discovered that Kearney, his wife and their publishing company have received multiple tax liens totaling nearly $1 million in the last 15 years. A gubernatorial candidate’s first choice trying to be governor is picking a running mate and Fitzgerald picked a guy with tax problems. Sadly, he buckled under the pressure from the black Democrat caucus and choose to trust their pick and not investigate Kearney further. They picked someone with loads of financial problems. These are the reason Morris, Verb and other Democrats are choosing to vote for Kasich.

The baggage Fitzgerald has seems really small when compared with the baggage Kasich has. John Kasich has attacked state workers with SB5, attacked women on the issue of choice, pushed tax cuts that benefited the rich, cut funding of local governments forcing them to increase their taxes, to help make up for lost revenues. Gov. Kasich is destroying our public schools so his for-profit charter school large campaign contributors could get richer.  His charter school campaign contributor White Hat is presently evading open records about transforming public money into private assets in a case before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Add in the following from Fact Check:

Fact: As a congressman and as a governor, Kasich fought against increases in veteran’s benefits, made it harder for veterans to get a job in state government, and proposed cutting funding to veterans organizations.

Fact: When Kasich was elected Governor, Ohio’s job creation rate was nearly twice that of the national rate. Now, Ohio is ranked 45th in job creation.

Fact: Nearly all new jobs Under Kasich pay $7-13 an hour.

Fact: Cost of Ohio’s public colleges & universities was already higher than most other states. Then Kasich dedicated the lowest budget to higher education in 40 years & tuition at 11 of Ohio’s 13 public colleges & universities increased this year: “

With a record like that it’s no wonder Gov. Kasich has been the first standing governor to refuse to debate in thirty years.

If you don’t like Fitzgerald’s baggage then vote for Green Party candidate Anita Rios for governor. A vote for Kasich is a vote against Ohio’s future.

10 things to expect if Republicans win the Senate.

Jayhawks: “Blue”

“Save it for a Rainy Day”

“A man without a vote is a man without protection.” ~ Lyndon B. Johnson

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