Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christopher Hitchens: 1949 - 2011

“My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, anyplace, anytime. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line and kiss my ass.” - Christopher Hitchens

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 70 - Finding Purpose

“In spite of my rage, I am still just a rat in the cage.” - Billy Corgan

Been going back-and-forth with some friends this afternoon online about “the purpose” or “end result” of the OWS movement; obviously, the discussion could go on and on ad nauseam without ever achieving any real resolutions. Then again, the “movement” itself could also continue along the same frustrating trajectory of never achieving any real change. (Discouragingly, the OWS movement -despite claiming to be nothing like it- seems destined to repeat the same failures of the Obama presidential campaign - lots of initial motivation, but a failure to execute any real follow through.)

I have a large file folder sitting on my desk full of various articles and clippings from the past two-and-a-half months of OWS press coverage. Some of these articles are critical of the occupiers, most are inspiring. I suppose, this is what it was (...is still?) all about - remaining inspired, maintaining the discussion, and recognizing that the struggle will be a long one. Democracy is messy. Still, these articles -only two months later- seem disappointingly nostalgic. Today the major media outlets have grown tired of covering the protests and occupations; admittedly, shots of police pepper spraying college students does not make for good Thanksgiving dinner conversation. Accordingly, much of the population has ‘moved-on’ to more trivial and banal concerns. So, lets face it - we’re an impatient people with a short attention span. Moreover, we’ve not faced the severity of violence and pain as those in Egypt, which is why OWS can stand in symbolic solidarity with those in Tahir Square, but they will never really know the same form of brutality and injustice.

Perhaps true revolution in the West can never be achieved?

Sure, I still believe those who first camped out in Zuccotti Park and continue to hold the flame are, as Chris Hedges stated, “the best among us”; however, it seems like the worst inside the rest of us eventually just blew the flame out by selling out any real values to the usual comforts and conveniences of capitalism. Who among us will ever truly be prepared for the long fight? When will enough become enough? I suppose it is not until we have lost everything that we will be ready to honestly take injustice on.

A week-and-half ago, after the NYPD forcefully evicted the occupiers from Zuccotti Park, the social political movements supporting the OWS movement called for a mass day of action and march in solidarity with the “99%”. Thousands thronged into the streets of New York, blocking traffic and chanting the usual slogans associated with civic unrest - “Whose streets? Our streets!” etc. etc. I could have stayed at work, safely behind my desk answering e-mails and fielding the usual concerns of the office. But instead, I walked out. Admittedly, my “walkout” was the farthest thing from any revolutionary act; in fact, I almost felt like it was to be expected.

Rightfully, this has become one of the major criticisms of the OWS movement - “Where are the poor? Where are the ethnic minorities?” Where are the immigrants? Those who are marching and protesting are standing against the injustices we all experience; however, unless everyone is able to stand together as one, then the movement seems destined to fail. For instance, as I walked-out of work a week-and-a-half ago, I didn’t notice any black and brown workers from the facilities or security staff walking out with us. Would they have been able to as easily walkout of work as myself and the student workers from our office had? Or, what about my wife who works in a retail shop in midtown? Would she still have her job if she had told her boss she was walking out in solidarity with the OWS movement and that she would be back tomorrow morning? No.

Perhaps real revolution will not happen in the United States; however, what is happening is that people are having real conversations about what truly matters most: economic injustice, racism, the influence of corporations on elections, etc. Ultimately, what the OWS movement has inspired is an acknowledgment of our problems and continues to encourage discussions regarding how we may be able to create and maintain a mutually responsible social contract for all, instead of one that only benefits a small percentage of wealthy elites. As we enter a new year (and one with another election sideshow), these discussions should not go away. Although the movement is going to be feeling beaten-up and ignored, it can learn from its mistakes. Thus, I predict a resurgent OWS movement come spring and into next fall. Hopefully, by then, more people will realize the severity of the problems we all face and that more will be able to find their voice and speak-up in solidarity.

If the OWS movement does not make it through the winter, it can at least be thankful for succeeding at one thing - waking people up! Instead of medicating the monotony and boredom away with another round of beers with gossipy friends, we're now having discussions about ways to reevaluate our social contract. Instead of accepting the banality of the chattering television, we shall shut the TV off and assemble to get into all the messy aspects of a true democracy again, and again. and again.

As Slavoj Zizek warned from Zuccotti Park back in October, “There is a danger. Don’t fall in love with yourselves. We have a nice time here. But remember, carnivals come cheap. What matters is the day after, when we will have to return to normal lives. Will there be any changes then? I don’t want you to remember these days, you know, like “Oh. we were young and it was beautiful.” Remember that our basic message is “We are allowed to think about alternatives.” If the taboo is broken, we do not live in the best possible world. But there is a long road ahead. There are truly difficult questions that confront us. We know what we do not want. But what do we want? What social organization can replace capitalism? What type of new leaders do we want?”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 59 - Reason #99 I regret voting for that rat bastard Bloomberg

Yesterday night, Mayor Bloomberg ordered the NYPD to clear Zuccotti Park of OWS protesters. The original call “to occupy”, made almost two months ago, has successfully spread to cities, towns, and universities. OWS is against the unjust distribution of wealth and privilege obtained through racism, war, and unfettered capitalism. These injustices have aggressively dominated and greedily defined the constitution of our social contract for far too long. The banks and various agencies of power that perpetuate the “magical mathematical manipulation machine” are going to do everything in their power to silence this movement.

The eviction of Zuccotti Park has been just one of many “clean ups” happening across the country to disperse and weaken the OWS "99%" movement. Perhaps to prevent some of the inevitable media blow-back, the media was not allowed to film the NYPD’s eviction process (even the news helicopters were blocked from hovering over the shameful scene unfolding below.) Nevertheless, some news did make it through and footage from protesters’ phones show people forcefully hauled away by the jackboots and helmets in charge. My initial reaction to the scene unfolding yesterday morning on the news was anger. How dare these bastards destroy this inspirational moment! Why do the evil haters and greed heads always win?

But the more I thought about these silly tactics, I realized - we are winning.

As yesterday dragged on, the news continued to change and I began to realize more and more, evil has not won. Emergency legal proceedings unfolded throughout the day between the Brookfield Property owners of Zuccotti Park, City Hall, and lawyers or elected officials who truly support our First Amendment and that ideal of "democracy" itself. As of this morning, the protesters have been allowed back into the park; however, the rules of the game have changed: no tents, no tarps, no camping. This has not deterred the protest - OWS is back in Zuccotti Park. The reality of these new obstacles is that the message must spread to “occupy” places outside the initial camps.

Today, I will attend my first New School General Assembly. For the past few weeks, students from The New School have been assembling in the courtyard outside our office window. I plan to attend this General Assembly in solidarity with those continuing to occupy Zuccotti Park. I also plan to attend in hopes others will be doing the same in their own parts of the world. The conversation must continue.

The brutality of last night cannot deter this movement, it will only make it grow stronger. In fact, there will likely be more pathetic attempts at defeating this movement through brutality. The illusion of power that holds its sway over us all, will not go down without a fight.

On Thursday, I plan to walk out of work alongside other students, faculty, and staff of conscience who recognize “the gig is up.” We will march in a general strike. The time to acknowledge the challenges that we all face can no longer be ignored. It is time to take our ideals and values into the streets. “This is what democracy looks like!”

“I put the bastards of the world on notice that I do not have their best interests at heart.”
- Paul Kemp

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Occupy Wall Street - Day 49

Dear Angela (a.k.a. Sallie Mae Collection Agent),

Is there any way to reduce my monthly Sallie Mae payment to $100? I know it's a meager and laughable amount of dough to your company, but it's something - right? Currently, sending Sallie Mae monthly payments of $430.00 is beyond my income means and, in all honesty, will likely be this way for an extended period of time.

When will I be able to finally pay you that $50-60k (give or take with interest) off? Well, unless I get the time to finally write that big blockbuster script or win huge in Vegas, it's going to be a long time coming. Sorry, I suppose we're all going to have to hang on when that next economic bubble bursts! Anyway, instead of kicking the can down the proverbial road and letting the debt (and interest) mount-up more and more to an astronomical amount that I will never be able to pay off - why not just reduce my payment to a fair and just $100 a month?

If I can pay you more, great! But for now, lets be reasonable.

Currently, I work full-time at a university in New York, I also work part-time as an ESL instructor in the mornings, and split the cost of my rent with my loving hardworking wife. Of course, life is invariably full of needs and wants. I "want" to pay my Sallie Mae loan, but I need to eat. I also "need" to pay The US Treasury, ConEd, Bank of America, Verizon, TimeWarner, and the MTA.

Anyway, I'm sure you get notes like this all the time. So throw this one on top of that pile - just another deadbeat student trying to dodge his debt with the loan company sharks. But I can assure you, I am not that person. If you think I'm being insincere, then why not take my offer seriously? In fact, if you can reduce my monthly payment to $100, then I will gladly pick up that next daily call I get on my iPhone from that mysterious (866) number.

You know you might want to consider this a good method for collecting any of that other mounting $$$ from all those other students and graduates out there. Why not agree to also let them pay more reasonable monthly loan payments? In fact, why not ask the universities to also reduce their skyrocketing tuition costs so that students don't need to pay so much in the first place? Hmmm... I think we might be on to something here!

Well, you know what I mean, right? ...Or, perhaps you do not...

We are the 99%,
Nick

Monday, October 10, 2011

Occupy Wall Street - Day 24

“They tell you we are dreamers. The true dreamers are those who think things can go on indefinitely the way they are. We are not dreamers. We are awakening from a dream which is turning into a nightmare. We are not destroying anything. We are only witnessing how the system is destroying itself.” - Slavoj Zizek


Yesterday afternoon, while Slavoj Zizek spoke to Occupy Wall Street, I was at home sitting on my couch watching the NFL on Fox (...blah!). Admittedly, I could use the excuse I was nursing a nasty cold (which I was) but, honestly, even if I wasn’t coughing and sneezing, I’d still have insisted on watching the New York Giants play one hell of a game against the Seattle, Seahawks. Sure, the Giants didn’t win, but the sun was perfect and the air was warm. I hoped fans all across the Northeast were also enjoying this pleasant autumn afternoon with their windows wide-open and some trashy AC/DC turned way up. Rookie Victor Cruz played an amazing game (despite a fumble late in the fourth quarter that caused a turnover and, subsequent Seattle win; Cruz made some fantastic plays); moreover, Eli Manning didn’t make any big mistakes (good news for any Giant fan still shaken from last season’s many upsets). Despite the game, good food, and much needed rest, my thoughts kept floating to the protesters downtown.

Although I wasn’t physically in Zuccotti Park listening to Zizek speak, I knew I wasn't alone. After scanning over the Sunday morning headlines, I saw that people everywhere were occupying different parts of the country. Moreover, there were the tens of thousands organizing from home and watching the live streams and reading the reports coming from Zuccotti Park. Make no mistake, Occupy Wall Street has gone viral!

I suppose, I was taking a lazy short cut by “occupying” my living room. Perhaps my domestic occupation could be considered more “rebellious” than my “occupation” of our office at work? But seriously, even if I could spend time away from work, family, and class - I don’t think I’m strong enough to spend those long hours in Zuccotti Park wrapped in a tarp while sleeping on concrete. Which is why the protesters physically there, day-in and day-out, braving the elements, facing hecklers and police, eating donated food, are (as Chris Hedges recently noted), truly “The best among us.”

Occupy Wall Street is inspiring and should cause us all to reflect on how our lives are all oppressed under unfettered capitalism. Accordingly, not everyday has been spent lazily watching sports and sipping on drinks. I stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. In fact, last weekend, I stood with thousands on the Brooklyn Bridge and watched as several hundred protesters were arrested by the NYPD. Then, this Wednesday, I walked out of The New School at 4 p.m., alongside students, staff, and teaching faculty. We marched downtown toward Foley Square, chanting, clapping, and blocking traffic. As we marched, we called out to those along the sidewalks to “join us.” Many took pictures with their iPhones, others cheered us on from open windows above, and a few glared at us over designer sunglasses from boutique sidewalk cafes in SoHo. Regardless,“We are all the 99%!” We all suffer under unfettered capitalism. Unfortunately, we currently lack the language of liberation to adequately express this fact. But we must and will.

As Occupy Wall Street moves into it’s 24th day, there are rumblings of “class war” on the talk shows. Good! Bring it on. After all, the greed heads and haters playing for the banks, corporations, and purchased politicians will soon realize we’re all moving toward a post-bureaucratic society. There is no more patience for concentrated power. The gig is up. The magical mathematical manipulation machine is about to crash and when it finally does, I know what side of history I want to be standing on.

Like most, I’m not able to physically and literally occupy Wall Street everyday; however, I’m no longer making excuses. The time for honesty is NOW. We must work to build a new system that is non-violent, non-racist, and non-hierarchical.

Yesterday, Slavoj Zizek asked protesters in Zuccotti Park a good question, “What social organization can replace capitalism?” Communism and socialism often only create more brutal regimes and, arguably, anarchism is too misunderstood to gather any real traction. So what might our new world look like? Perhaps this new communal environment will look something like the model evolving daily in Zuccotti Park? Certainly, we're imaginative, innovative, and intelligent enough to create a better world. Let us begin speaking this new language. Obama is right about few things, and one is his classic talking point, "change won't come over night." Obama should not only be listening, but should also stop making excuses for the banks and capitalist cronies he is too often than not in cahoots with. The Occupy Wall Street movement may only be one step toward a new social contract, but it is a big step in the right direction.

I selfishly and foolishly wonder if there will still be football, rock-&-roll, and beer in this post-capitalist society? I suppose there will always be these things; after all, somethings are just too fun to replace! In fact, I suppose that is the real question - can we all come together and think of new ways to enjoy life outside of and beyond capitalism? I certainly hope we can. Who knows? What I do know is that I’m relieved to hear discussions like these happening. Politics is a far more interesting "sport" than any football game! The worst case scenario is that we’ll continue blundering along the same inadequate path as before - selling out.

Zizek closed his speech by warning, “The only thing I’m afraid of is that we will someday just go home and then we will meet once a year, drinking a beer, and nostalgically remembering what a nice time we had here. Promise ourselves that this will not be the case.”

History will judge. In solidarity with the 99%. Another world is possible.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rant From a Raging Bastard of Privilege




By Nicholas Allanach

“Wild, dark times are rumbling toward us...” - Heinrich Heine

At a bar in the East Village, we were sipping and sulking over the woes of yet another wicked work week. Of course, it wasn’t all that bad. Was it? Thankfully, it never is, nor was. So, not all of our conversation was kvetching and complaints. I was actually enthusiastic about the upcoming academic year and opportunities for more art and creative communication. My friend was also inspired, but by the possibilities of creatively organizing politically. Perhaps we were widely optimistic? (I can assure you we're not. In fact, we’re too of the most pessimistic and cynical bastards you'll meet. No, it would be an injustice for loathsome materialists like us to be held up to such ideal modicums.) But, I guess, we do still believe, and on some level we hold onto a fantastic hope that something NEW can and will happen NOW.

But it doesn’t... So, we’re still stuck in the same ol’ cycle. “Eat, shit, kill - do it again!”

Despite the good company, positive conversation, and cool brews on this humid night, we couldn’t ignore the lurking realities looming-up all around us. As usual, I only had $20 in my pocket and my friend was putting our drinks on his credit card. Of course, considering these drawbacks alongside the greater economic woes: what was an inconvenience for me, was a meal or even shelter for others. I have no right to bitch.

Sure, earlier this week, we had a rather grim meeting about “declining enrollment numbers.” (The elephant in the room was, of course, when might we be having a conversation about "how this can be resolved?") But, I will not let any of this get me down. Even if the “worst” happens, another world is possible. ...or maybe not?

Maybe I’m tired of the optimistic bullshit? I suppose, it's difficult to remain positive with all of this old baggage and clutter still hanging around. And by “old” I mean, the same old way of imagining how to live in this world. I admit, “change will not come over night.” But that shouldn’t mean we should settle for less than what we initially wanted. Why have we allowed our political discourse to spin plates? We're so used to kicking the problems down the road for the next generation. We're so accustomed to “making a better tomorrow, tomorrow...” (that we missed the joke!) But why? Let us make tomorrow NOW!

Today, the economic and representational system is not viable. It must change. There needs to be a massive re-tooling and redesigning of our social economic system; especially, before any possible digital shifts.

Whether we’ll admit it or not, we have all played a pivotal role in making this weird and wicked world into the mess it is. (One of the few collective narratives that is shared worldwide, and cross culturally, is "we’re fucked.") Admittedly, some have pillaged and produced much much MUCH more than the impoverished "others." Frequently, those who have pillaged the most, have a remarkably optimistic view of the future. There is not an equal distribution of autonomy and power. And there never has been. It's always about who gets to decide how this world is to be plundered and prodded more.

Make no mistake, the corporations control this world. And I hate to admit it, but I too am “a little Eichmann.” My hands are stained with the same blood of Empire. Perhaps I’ve not played a direct role in this project, but I am a part of it and will be until I ultimately decide to step outside of this system. I suppose, I’ve tried - but this is not enough... “There is no try, only do.”

* * * *

While getting lost in the daydreams of my own privileged guilt, a young, super skinny girl, with a strong southern accent approaches us at the end of the bar. “Ya‘ all having a good night? Ya’ all smoke?...”

She was going from bar-to-bar with a hand-held computer distributing cigarette coupons to drunks like us. She said she “had been doing this for three years.” Like many, she had originally come to New York “to be a dancer.” Although she “still danced,” it appeared as though the cigarette promoting gig was paying the rent. Feeling sympathetic, my friend and I let her take a picture of our driver’s licenses with her hand-held computer. She then entered two faux e-mail addresses into the hand-held computer so as “to meet [her] quota.”

Before she left, she thanked us for being “so cooperative and understanding. Most people are real assholes!” After she left, I couldn’t help but think that this one girl pushing cigarette promotions in the East village was in some ways synonymous to our larger economic hypocrisies. Admittedly, a stretch, but one’s mind tends to reach out to such far flung possibilities when drunk at a bar. (Of course, my paranoia also kept reeling-back to the sheer methodical nature of our exchange with the cigarette promoter; after all, would my associate, or I, so willingly have given up our information to two cops if they had asked us for the same thing? I’m confident we’d have been a lot more guarded.)

Needless to say, after she left, I began seeing examples of these larger economic hypocrisies all around us: the bootleggers pushing DVDs, the pot dealers, the bartenders, the cigarette promoters, the beggars on the train, the yuppie to my left, and clown to the right, etc. It was all “part of the game.” Ultimately, we're all far more interested in maintaining our addictions than challenging any aspects of the larger industry. There’s big money in this, "Buy the ticket, take the ride!"

Admittedly, addiction is a big word and it's one that will never be adequately defined in this blogosphere. Regardless, there is little doubt that so much of our lives; especially, under capitalism are addictive acts - and nothing less. Why can’t we imagine (and then build...) a new world? (I’m not saying get rid of tobacco, bootleg movies, bars, whatever; I’m not even suggesting it will be easy to “start over,” in fact it’s an impossibility. When I say “new,” I mean a new understanding and new respect for the significance of being human.)

I hope, we do learn from our past to make a better future. But the jury is still out...

As the election year gears-up we should remember those like the scrawny cigarette girl working in dead end jobs. She is like thousands of others (many even worse off than her.) Many will no longer be rewarded Pell Grants for graduate school, federal aid is drying up. There are no signs of job growth for those students currently in school and, most importantly, there are no new jobs for after graduation. She is not alone in being desperate to find work. Why should (cigarette/advertising/etc.) companies continue getting away with the big breaks? Why shouldn’t girls like this girl have more money for student aid? Shouldn’t young minds be more appropriately used intellectually and creatively than advantageously by the corporations of the world?

I guess, there are "no fair fights."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

the Union of Ena Hashimoto & Nicholas Allanach

Every time we think we have a handle on life, and that we can make a prediction or "plan" for tomorrow, life gives us decisions to make. Two months ago, Ena and I were going through many big decisions: should we move to Japan for two years (or more) so that I could gain invaluable experience teaching ESL in a foreign country? Or, should we stay in New York to continue living this dream we have spent the last decade working so hard to achieve?

Sure, if everything had gone "as originally planned," we would be in Japan いま. But instead, we decided we love our life here in New York City. Admittedly, I still hope to teach abroad, but for now, I cannot imagine ever having to ever really "leave" New York. I'm confident the woman I love feels the same. I'm also confident we made the right decision.

Now, I can dedicate more time to my duties at The New School, continue teaching ESL here in the city, and spend time with my brother, nephew, and friends.

I'm delighted to say I have (one week before record breaking crowds at the City Clerk's Office) married Ena Hashimoto - the woman I love and (as I promised in this video) cannot imagine a tomorrow without.

I love you Ena.

And we love you New York!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Winning?

“Never give up hope.” - Emperor Akihito


“Hope is for suckers.” - Charlie Sheen


I don’t feel emotionally or mentally equipped to properly comment on the events that have occurred since my last post, but I must write. After all, I cannot expect students to write if I don’t. How can I challenge them when I fail to challenge myself?

Since my last post, nothing has changed dramatically in my own life (or, at least, nothing I’ll post about...) and that is something to celebrate. Especially when “the news” from a lot of places is not good.


The devastating tragedy along the North Eastern Coast of Japan is still being processed and will for some time. The people of Sendai wish they had “my problems” (e.g. “That bitch who cut me in line at the coffee shop!” etc.). To be clear, people’s homes are now rubble. Villages are gone. Tens of thousands are missing. Donate.


Despite all this tragedy, there are other stories...


Three weeks ago, protesters were celebrating in Tahrir Square after successfully pushing Hosni Mubarak from power. The Egyptian Revolution then inspired other organized movements to rise-up across the region. Unfortunately, the people of Bahrain, Yemen, and Libya soon discovered power will not succeed without a fight, which is exactly what the UN Security Council has agreed to bring to Col. Gaddafi. As of this writing, a “no fly zone” is in place, rockets have been fired, and Gaddafi vows he’ll fight these “new Nazis” in “a long-drawn war.”


Two and half weeks ago, protesters gathered in Wisconsin and seemed poised to change Republican Governor Scott Walker’s proposed “budget repair bill”; unfortunately, they did not. On March 10th, the Wisconsin Assembly passed the collective bargaining bill with a vote of 53–42. People are pissed, but just how pissed? There are calls to repeal votes. And why not? Governor Walker never intended to listen to Wisconsin voters. He was bought by the same corporate cronies (who continue to benefit off tax breaks). Other Governors will most certainly try to pass similar laws that remove collective bargaining rights for unions. Walker should be removed from office. Good luck making that happen Wisconsin.


Despite the seriousness of these events on the home front, they seem insignificant when placed alongside the destruction in Japan. Yes, these are serious times.


A potential stage 5 nuclear meltdown still threatens to occur at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. The situation is being monitored very closely, (but is no longer on the top of the news headlines). Fire trucks and military helicopters continue to dump tons of water over the destroyed reactors and spent fuel rods in an attempt to “cool them down.” Enough radiation has already leaked into the environment to affect the food and water. This morning, Tokyo detected increased amounts of radiation in the air.


Anyway, I’m going to listen to a lot of music tonight. Stay centered... maintain. Don’t let the fear creep in...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Who Will Survive in America?

This may be the Generation that will have to face the End of the World.

- U.S. President Ronald Reagan (1985)


The news is bad today in America and for America. There is nothing good or hopeful about it... and it is getting worse and worse in logarithmic progressions...”

- Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2002)


The last two weeks have been big. First, a revolution in Tahrir Square, then people took to the streets in Bahrain, Yemen, Iran, Syria, and even Iraq. As of this writing, there are large, violent protests unfolding throughout Libya. Muammar Gaddafi is so threatened by what these protests represent that he’s ordered military jet fighters to fire onto the Libyans. But there is no turning back, activists across the Middle East want their stories heard and they will not be silenced until this happens. The Arabs are tired of bad decisions being made by the same-old autocratic regimes that have stubbornly held onto power for decades. Indeed, change has come to the Middle East. The people have proven they will not be bought by the same old systems of power for one second more. As one protester said, “There was no turning back after we broke through that wall of fear.”


Mubarak was toppled, but the military is still in place. Now, Egyptians must show how they plan to move forward. (Assuming the military hasn’t already essentially done so for them?) Yes, many wonder, who will be the next “leader”? Others question whether there needs to even be a leader at all? Whatever your take on the revolution unfolding in the Middle East, rest-assured, international leaders are not standing idle; especially, the United States. Which was (as indicated by this, conveniently, de-classified report) already planning for such possibilities, years ago. Not surprising, frustration and anger has been simmering here for a long time; but now that this anger has surfaced, the US wants to ensure it has always been standing on the side of the “freedom loving people around the world.” Remember, history is about who wins.


Arguably, the media seems to be delegitimizing the locality of these popular movements by replacing years of anger with the friendly face of a globalized social network. Undoubtedly, social networking sites played a key role in organizing and mobilizing the tens of thousands that took to the streets. As with any revolution, media and information play a pivotal role in making people more politically aware. However, it was not only a media revolution. Media can only do so much. Media connects people and communicates information, but it cannot keep people standing in the street for days. Only a people’s will and courage can stand strong against the brutality of power.


This past week, Americans have also gathered in Madison, Wisconsin. Admittedly, for entirely different grievances; but nevertheless, it is refreshing to see people occupying their statehouse and standing-up to a corrupt government. From Tahrir Square to the Capital of Wisconsin - people are proving they do have power. Americans should take notice. After all, those in Tahrir Square, presumably, fought for what those in Wisconsin argue they already have - democracy. So... prove it. Accordingly, demanding accountability from our government should never be labelled “unpatriotic.”

When the government makes bad decisions, people must stand-up. Gov. Scott Walker (R) is making a bad decision and the people know it. Walker insists he must restrict the collective bargaining rights for public employees (teachers, firefighters, nurses, police officers, etc.) so as to alleviate the state’s growing $3.6 billion dollar deficit. Perhaps the people would have bought Gov. Walker’s bullshit if Walker hadn’t already approved millions of dollars in tax breaks for corporations? No, Gov. Walker has shown -like many elected officials- where his true allegiance resides -with the corporation.


Tom Morello, musician and activists, recently told the Colbuffington Repost, "I really think that the future of the rights of working people in this country is not going to be decided in the courts," Morello continued, "It's not going to be decided in Congress or radio talk shows. The future of rights of working people in this country will be the fight on the streets of Madison, Wis.”


Morello went on to read a letter of solidarity from one of the protest organizers in Cairo, Maor Eletreb. Eletreb wrote, "Justice is beautiful, but justice is never free. The beauty of Tahrir Square you can have everywhere, on any corner, in any city, or in your heart. So hold on tightly and don't let go. ... Breathe deep, Wisconsin, because justice is in the air. And may the spirit of Tahrir Square be in every beating heart in Madison today."


But I wonder, what will happen if those in Wisconsin don’t get what they want? Will they too have the same discipline, passion, and bravery as those who fought in Tahrir Square? Or, as those who continue to clash with police in Libya? Will the American people buckle under the pressure?


Something tells me the Americans could never take their revolution that far. The first sign of tear gas or a concussion grenade in Wisconsin, will have the people running. Of course, this may just provide the right amount of provocation Americans need for a re-revolution. After all, Americans are notoriously “lazy”, “apathetic”, and “jaded”. So, unless the government starts also taking away our entertainment and cheap consumer goods, (while it continues to cut education and public services) then there may be no hope. But history rolls on ...right? Just maybe, the American people still have some fight left in them? I guess we’ll see...


Unsurprisingly, the Obama Administration continues to politically tightrope walk it’s way through each of these heavy situations. In Egypt, we heard no solid support for the protesters in Tahrir Square until after the streets had been swept by those who won the battle. Sure, there was some pandering and empty gestures of a “peaceful transition to democracy.” But imagine the total amazement of the world, if Obama had decided to just show-up and stand there in the square beside Mohamed ElBaradei and/or Wael Ghonim to give a big “thumbs-up” for the cameras?


I know, I know... this is one of (admittedly) many reasons why I’m not working at The White House. Understandably, there are many geopolitical reasons for President Obama’s ass-kissing. Like any good American President, you gotta’ be able to suck-it and smile. Sure, the President can say he has a lot of reasons behind not going, but none of them are very good. Accordingly, Obama (forever the centrists) has also taken-up a very similar position with those protesting in Wisconsin. Sure, he supports the protesters; but why not take it one step further? Imagine the energy that could be created if Obama made an appearance in Wisconsin?


Instead, Obama flew right over protesters standing out in the bitter Wisconsin cold, to land in Silicon Value and have lunch with America’s real engine of innovation. Yes, “We must win the future!” And apparently, winning this future means doing so with the CEOs of Netflix, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Twitter.


What message does this communicate to America and the world? ....Let's be friends?


Saturday, January 08, 2011

2011 - week one.


Inspiration: (noun) the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

Inspire (verb) fill with the urge or ability to do something, especially creative.

It’s hard to be optimistic about 2011. Looking back on this first week makes me nauseous. There seem to be bad vibes all around - something dangerous looms ahead. To recap: Republicans assume “control” of the House, 1000 more Marines are being sent to Afghanistan, “my President” Obama nominates William Daley as the new White House Chief of Staff (a man with close ties to Boeing, J.P. Morgan Chase, and the son of Chicago's notorious Mayor Richard J. Daley). ...Go Capitalism! Apologies for my sarcasm, I'm disappointed with the way this "new year" has been rolling. Then again, something tells me, I’m not alone - “the American Dream” is a nightmare.

This afternoon, Arizona State Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot. She is still in critical condition. The shooter’s name and “reasons” have yet to be released (As of this writing.); but whatever the “motive” it's safe to say, the TV will be chattering about this for the next week. And why not? After all, this is nothing to take lightly. America is violence. ...Damn.

Hunter S. Thompson once asked, “Who can afford to give a fuck anymore?” I know I can’t. I work, pay bills, and take out the trash. Sure, I try to have a good time when I can. ...But, don’t we all?

This first week of 2011 has left a sour taste in my mouth. Maybe it’s the tax audit? ...Mounting debt? ...Family crises? ...Relationship decisions? ...Inability to feel like my job really matters? Actually, it’s all these things and -for the moment at least- they’ve got me in a limbo.

“A man not busy being born, is a busy being dying.” Damn right Bob Dylan - embrace the journey, don’t resist it! Despite how stable we try to make our lives, challenges will invariably arise to disrupt them. Just ask Job.

Take advice - don’t reject. Adapt. Grow. Accept reality. Move on. Evolve.

For now, I breathe, maintain and try to stay optimistic and inspired. After all, I cannot control everything only "deal with my own problems." I must start with my writing. So, today, instead of getting too wrapped-up in what's on TV (and our guests arrive for dinner and drinks), I’m going to just free-write on how I feel about the following things...

1.) Family/Friends:

2.) Job/Career:

3.) Relationship:

4.) Self:

But will not publish that writing here. It’s just too personal. You’ll need to check my Facebook...

***

Instead, I leave you with these words from Chris Hedges...

“Orwell warned of a world where books were banned. Huxley warned of a world where no one wanted to read books. Orwell warned of a state of permanent war and fear. Huxley warned of a culture diverted by mindless pleasure. Orwell warned of a state where every conversation and thought was monitored and dissent was brutally punished. Huxley warned of a state where a population, preoccupied by trivia and gossip, no longer cared about truth or information. Orwell saw us frightened into submission. Huxley saw us seduced into submission. But Huxley, we are discovering, was merely the prelude to Orwell. Huxley understood the process by which we would be complicit in our own enslavement. Orwell understood the enslavement. Now that the corporate coup is over, we stand naked and defenseless. We are beginning to understand, as Karl Marx knew, that unfettered and unregulated capitalism is a brutal and revolutionary force that exploits human beings and the natural world until exhaustion or collapse.”

“We are moving from a society where we are skillfully manipulated by lies and illusions to one where we are overtly controlled.”

“We break souls as well as bodies. It is more effective."