Sunday, July 31, 2016

Welcome to America! Land of the White Man and the Rent House of the Persecuted

“White supremacy has taught white people to be racially, culturally, and politically illiterate.” - Chris Crass

Welcome to America! Land of the White Man and rent house of the persecuted, the place where, if you aren't a pale skin, you can be expect that animals will get better treatment than you. It is also the place where, if you are of any other color other than white, working your ass off is more likely to get you into trouble than it is to advance your social standing. It is also the place where any act of kindness, or display of human solidarity, which threatens white supremacy, is more likely to be put down with the force of a police baton than it is to be celebrated. It is a land where change is so violently resisted that a great portion of the world can genuinely say that their social development is, very nearly, a century more advanced than that of the United States. This is the country that Americans must call home. Is this really what this country is about? If so, it is not something to be proud of.

Dr. Martin Luther King once said “I look to the day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” I could not agree with such a noble sentiment more. I also look forward to that day that Dr. King spoke of fifty three years ago. Unfortunately, as much as has been accomplished since he made this speech that left his mark on American history, very little has changed. No matter how much the White media tries to say otherwise, very little substantive progress has actually been made.

People of color, African Americans, Latin Americans, and the like, immigrants of all nationalities, people of varying gender preferences and sexual orientations, and people of every non protestant christian religion that can be dreamed up are still being persecuted in this country. It is not being done because they are a genuine threat to this country, however. It is being done because they do not fit the standard paradigm of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, and thus, make an easy target for those white leaders who wish to sew discord in their communities to retain political power and position. Worse, this persecution has not been limited to words. It has, for the two-hundred and forty years since the foundation of this country, extended to what should be considered legitimate crimes by most people. People have been hung by the neck until dead, people have been burned alive, they have been buried alive, shot, and much else, to include the average everyday occurrences of assault, rape, and the denial of constitutionally guaranteed rights, like the right to vote, the freedom to marry, and the right to a fair trial before a jury of one's peers.

A great friend of mine once told me that "no one rules, if no one obeys." In other words, if we as a society come together and stand against white supremacy, which is what we are facing, we can make a difference. If we all disobey and refuse to accept the the manufactured social order that has been created by the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite, we can take away their power. I strongly believe that there is absolutely no reason why a person's ethnic heritage or a person's gender or sexual preference should have anything to do with how opportunities are made available to them. Unfortunately, because of the strangle hold that the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite has on the social order of this country, it does. Are you skeptical? Consider the following scenario.

A few months ago, some new NYPD cops came forward on live television and said that they had been asked, by their superior officers, to intentionally target African Americans and Latin Americans. The reporter was speechless. White Supremacy is trying to come back out of the shadows, for this is where it has been. It did not disappear, it was not solved, though the White press would have you believe that it was, and it has not stopped working to oppress the non White Anglo-Saxon Protestant masses of the United States.

Are you still not convinced? Consider the Charleston Shooting that took place in June of last year. The shooting took place at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the most historically African American churches in the United States. On June 17, Dylan Roof entered the church under the guise of attending a bible study. Just as the study was about to conclude, and the attendees were preparing for the closing prayer, Roof stood up and said, "I am sorry, but I am here to kill black people." He then proceeded to kill nine people, one being a government official of the state of South Carolina, State Senator Clementa C. Pinckney. Roof then ran from the scene. The following morning, when he was arrested in Shelby, North Carolina, the arresting officers found it appropriate to take Roof to Burger King before taking him to the county jail. Roof killed a government official, and eight other innocent civilians, and he got Burger King. What has every African American shot by a predominately white police force in this country gotten for their trouble? Nothing but a coffin. What has every Caucasian that stood up for justice gotten? Social rejection as a race traitor.

If you are not yet convinced that the White Anglo Saxon Protestant elite of this nation is intentionally targeting non WASPs, of all strands, perhaps, you should take a second to rub the grit out of your eyes. They do not see this country as being the diverse Utopia that truly is and should be. As far as they are concerned, this is their land, and the rest of us are just renters. This is real, and it is the people that have to do something to stop it. The government is obviously not going to be of any help.

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Militarization of American Police Forces

Andy Taylor was a popular TV character in the 60s. He was a local sheriff in the small town of Mayberry, had one bumbling deputy, and never really ran into too much trouble. In fact, during the entire 249 episode run of "The Andy Griffith Show," I don't recall him drawing his service weapon more than twice, if he carried one at all. He was loved and respected by the community, and he kept them safe with a mix of stern compassion, and discretionary enforcement.

This was the image of the "Good Cop" that became popular in America in the last century. In stories, and in the media, the police were always the good guys and more often than not, the "beat cop" would walk up and down neighborhood and city streets armed with little more than a nightstick, the law, and his wit. He made friends with local businesses who felt safe having him always just a few blocks away and his presence on the street allowed the public to see and get to know the man who they could call on for help, should they ever need it. The people trusted their local policeman. Now ask yourself, would Andy Taylor have ever driven a vehicle like this?

Note the machine gun mount at the top and the desert brown paint, in an area that's clearly not a desert. This is obviously a military hand-me-down and as you'll see below, the uniform of these officers is a military style camouflage.

Who are they trying to hide from with that forest camo pattern? Are they hunting? Or are they just trying to look more like the army they've become? Does law enforcement really require military vehicles, uniforms, and weapons these days? There were gangs during prohibition in the 30s, as well, but local police forces never needed anything like this. You'd think these vehicles were practically tanks, but they're not by definition. They're armored personnel carriers. They do have actual tanks though...

If you're wondering who they're gearing up to fight, it's you. These weapons are meant to be used against our own people, should they get out of line. There was a time, however, when the police weren't an army, and it was 1997. The North Hollywood Shootout scared a lot of important people at the time and for good reason. Two bank robbers, dressed head to toe in body armor and carrying assault weapons, robbed a Bank of America branch. Unable to escape in time, they met with police and overpowered the officers. In the process, they injured eleven people, while paying practically no mind to the 9mm rounds the police were firing back. So insanely outgunned, the police had to commandeer bigger weapons from a local gun store, and eventually, only after a hour stand off, two police snipers managed to hit their mark in the culprit's only unarmored location, their heads.

Ever since this incident, police have been heavily arming themselves, so that their authority can never be undermined again. It was embarrassing, to say the least, that our police were so easily outmatched by just two gunmen. The sentiment, at the time, was to re-train and re-arm, and re-arm they did. S.W.A.T. teams began training with military special forces, and precincts across the country started to acquire armored vehicles.

Even after obtaining all of this firepower, they were still afraid. They began to hide and devote more time to undercover operations with all the paranoia and skulduggery of organizations like the CIA, but with none of the training or experience. Instead of being visible and present to prevent crime, they instead would lie in wait to respond to crime, allowing it to happen so they could then punish the criminal. Military style raids, much like the one that killed Osama bin Laden, were being carried out in the homes of private citizens, many of whom were only suspected of selling an illegal plant. The extra money from tickets and fines that came in when the police allowed a crime to happen, instead of preventing it, was incentive enough to abandon the visible "beat cop," altogether, in most jurisdictions. They now rode exclusively in cars, conspicuous, yet unseen. You know it's a police vehicle, but you can no longer see the officer's face until he's in yours.

As they ramped up their "War" on drugs, they began to see all citizens as potential enemy combatants, retraining for caution over all else. The safety of the officer became far more important than the safety of the citizens they were detaining,  and they began to look far more like a military fighting an actual war than a civilian ran force employed to defend the general citizenry from actual harm. If the vehicle in the above photo didn't say "SWAT," or "POLICE," would you be able to tell if the man in uniform was a police officer or a U.S. Army soldier? The answer to that question is, most definitely, NO.

When our police become an army, we are living under martial law.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Why I Cannot Vote for Hillary Clinton

Hi, my name is Zach Davidson. This article is my first contribution to Refuse to Cooperate. I hope it is the first of many contributions to come. I have known the blog founder since we our days together at University, and am grateful for him giving me space here to state my opinion. Below, I lay out my personal case for why I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton in this election. I find Donald Trump reprehensible! I also reject the false dichotomy of the two party oligarchy that works to narrow the range of options into a space the establishment finds acceptable. I refuse to limit my point of view to the Overton Window. I prefer to throw bricks through it.

On Thursday Night July 28, 2016 Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic Party's nomination to be President of the United States promising "real change for America". She extended an olive branch to supporters of Bernie Sanders saying "your cause is our cause." For Hillary, winning the nomination and then the Presidency will be the capstone of a political career that began as the wife of an Arkansas governor some thirty years ago. Her story is truly inspiring. Unfortunately, her candidacy is deeply troubling. She portrays herself on the campaign trail as the advocate of the underdog and the champion of the common person. Her record as first lady, as a Senator, and as Secretary of State tells a very different story. It is because of her policy choices and her connection to the corporate power structure that has a death grip on the Republic that I cannot in good conscience vote for Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.

Before I make my argument as to why I cannot give my vote to candidate Clinton, it is important to be clear what this article is and what it is not. I intend to lay out my personal reasons for not voting for Clinton, not an exhaustive case for why nobody ought to vote for her. If you find my argument compelling, I am very pleased. If you find it lacking and still plan to vote for Clinton after reading it, I have no quarrel with you. Every voter has the right to cast their vote as they wish. I also do not claim that my arguments are entirely novel or completely original. I have formed my opinion based on reading and viewing reports of the campaign and from listening to Clinton in her various public roles. I will do my best to cite where I explicitly borrow ideas and language from others, but if your media and reading habits are similar to my own, much of what I say here may sound familiar.

When one watches Hillary Clinton campaign for President, both in 2008 and 2016, she seems to believe that the nomination is her due for decades of service. She stood by a cheating husband as President in the 1990s, she created a political career independent of his as a Senator from New York (a state she never lived in prior to deciding to run, but I digress), and then decided that 2008 was her year to take the reins of the country from the turbulent Texas cowboy. She seemed almost taken aback when a populist sounding neophyte caught fire with the electorate and began beating her in a primary she viewed as a mere formality. The campaign between Clinton and Obama was ugly, with Clinton dismissing Obama's inspiring rhetoric as empty promises. Time Magazine quoted Clinton as saying that it was "time that we move from good words to good works, from sound bites to sound solutions." Obama hit back just as hard and won the nomination and the Presidency. In a show of magnanimity, he named Clinton as his choice for Secretary of State.

If anything, Clinton was even more dismissive of Bernie Sanders in 2016 than she was of Obama in 2008. No way was another champion of the people going to prevent her from her rightful role as President of the United States. The problem is that no person has a right to any office. It is the responsibility of Hillary Clinton to make her case to voters and win them over with evidence that they will pursue a policy agenda that those voters support. Clinton seems to expect voters to fall in line. Democracy does not work that way!

With help from a friendly primary schedule and an establishment media more interested in the Trump traveling circus than in the serious policy discussion Bernie Sanders wanted to have, Hillary won out over Sanders and is now the Democrats nominee for President. She said in an April 2015 tweet that she was running for President because "Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion." Her policy record however show's her to be not the people's champion but a dutiful attendant to the interests of corporate paymasters.

Hillary's shortcomings as a campaigner in and of themselves are not sufficient reason to abstain from voting for her. If she had a record of voting and working for an agenda that safeguarded the interests of the poor and fighting against the business establishment, I could look past her lack of finesse on the campaign trail. I cast my vote as best I can on a basis of policy, not personality. Alas, an examination of Hillary's record since coming to the White House with Bill Clinton in 1992 reveals a politician that consistently advocates positions that her donors support, and not the interests of the American people.

One may argue that it is unfair to criticize Hillary Clinton for policy decisions her husband made as president. For some first ladies, this may be true. Hillary however had a level of involvement with Bill Clinton's administration sufficient to claim that his decisions came with her input and support. In her own now infamous words "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life." Bill Clinton's signing of NAFTA, and the subsequent loss of American jobs then is indicative of where Hillary Clinton stands on trade. His support of the repeal of the New Deal era Glass-Steagall Act, which abolished the separation of high-risk investment banking and more mundane commercial banking was a major contributor to the casino environment that resulted in the 2008 financial implosion and Great recession. Hillary Clinton never criticized the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that undid the Glass-Steagall protections or sought to reinstate those protections in her Senate career.

Even if one is willing to give Clinton a pass on NAFTA, which she supported in the 90s and in the Senate, but called a "mistake" while running for president in 2008, her record as a supporter of free trade is very strong. 10 free trade bills came up for a vote while Clinton was in the Senate. She voted in favor of passage on 6 of them, against 2, and abstained on 2 but voiced her support. At best then, she is 40% against free trade and 60% in favor. Even that assessment is generous, putting the abstentions in the no column when her record indicates she supported the trade deals. More significantly, Clinton supported the Trans Pacific Partnership as Secretary of State and only changed her position when she began her campaign. With such an equivocal record on trade, who knows what position she would take once in office? I recommend that anyone who would like a more in-depth look at Hillary rhetoric and record on free trade read Politifact's excellent article on the subject.

Hillary Clinton's trade record is similar to many establishment Democrats. Her record on education is similarly long on promises and short on specific policies. She championed education reform in Arkansas and as first lady. She voted for George Bush's now much maligned No Child Left Behind Act as a Senator in 2001. In fairness, then Representative Bernie Sanders also voted for the Act. Clinton voiced support for President Obama's 2015 education act which aimed to fix the deficiencies of the No Child Left Behind Act. She has expressed opposition to school vouchers and promised bold new action on education when she becomes president. What exactly she will do her campaign leaves unclear. Clinton also fails to mention how she will pay for new education intitiatives. Funding lies at the heart of education policy. Whether Clinton will allocate funds for education rather than defense industries or corporate subsidies is at best an open question. We know how her donors want her to spend money.

Hillary's record in foreign policy is no better than her record in protecting workers in the United States. Any discussion of U.S. foreign policy since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks must have the Iraq War at its center. It was the biggest blunder since Vietnam, and Senator Hillary Clinton was a major supporter of the U.S. invasion. In a Senate speech in October 2002 she claimed that

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons might stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security. This much is undisputed."

In December 2003, she stated before the Council on Foreign Relations that

"I was one who supported giving President Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. I believe that that was the right vote. I have had many disputes and disagreements with the administration over how that authority has been used, but I stand by the vote to provide the authority because I think it was a necessary step in order to maximize the outcome that did occur in the Security Council with the unanimous vote to send in inspectors."

She has since said that she voted for the war because the Bush administration gave Senators bad information and that she might have voted differently if she knew then what she has discovered since 2003. The fact still remains that she believed what the Bush administration told her at the time and ignored war critics at the time who urged skepticism. When the war was popular, she supported it. As it became less so, she hastened to position herself among the critics. One finds a troubling pattern of such expedient positioning as one critically examines Hillary Clinton's record.

As Secretary of State, Clinton continued to advocate interventionism and militancy as she did in the Senate. She was the major champion of bombing Libya, saying flippantly of Muammar Ghaddafi that "We came, we saw, he died." Many civilians also died in Libya, and a protracted internal struggle followed our air campaign. Channeling Julius Caesar may not have been Clinton's wisest move. Clinton also was a consistent advocate for expanded U.S. involvement in Syria, contributing to the chaos in that embattled country. She worked against the deal with Iran, then took credit on the campaign trail when that deal seemed to bear fruit. She does get credit for supporting human rights in her speeches, but those word pale beside her actions.

There are any number of other issues where Hillary Clinton shows at best an equivocal record and at worst put the interests of a narrow elite above the interests of the American people. Among the most important issues I did not go into are healthcare and reform criminal sentencing. On all those issues Clinton has made progressive sounding remarks, but has done the bidding of the corporate donors with whom she is uncomfortably comfortable. At the root of all these problems is the system of campaign finance that amounts to open bribery. Until we fix this system, other policy issues will remain impossible to remedy. Hillary Clinton has demonstrated repeatedly how content she is to work within this corrupt system. Until she shows evidence that she is serious about fixing it, I can see no circumstances in which I can vote for her.

How Texas is Destroying the Education System

On Wednesday, local North Texas NPR station KERA reported that lawmakers and policy minions in Austin are looking into incorporating more testing into the academic year. While the committee does want to pare down the actual STAAR test, they do recommend to increase computer-based Benchmark tests throughout the academic year. The reason behind this, officially, is the provide all associated with the instruction of students with a "snapshot" of how the students are learning and what they are learning...the educational buzzword here is "formative assessments". In theory, formative assessments are suppose to gauge how well the classroom teacher is delivery the information to the students' brains and how well they are retaining the information. I say "in theory", because as a classroom Texas secondary teacher, it never went the way imagined by those assholes in Austin or in the main office. In this blog article/rant, I will be laying out the case on why and how the Texas State Government is destroying the last shreds of the education system, despite pouring money into the broken system.

Why I Give Shit
My actual Classroom
Hi! I am new to the Refuse To Cooperate blog, but I've known the founder since our time together at University. For the record, I am a secondary high school social studies teacher that taught for two school years in a low-performing urban high school. My population that I taught was refugee kids from countries like Nepal, Afghanistan, Mexico, Burma, and even parts of Africa. These language center students were generally isolated from the main student body, I am no longer a teacher with the district after not being renewed due to my "disagreements" with my Assistant Principal (AP), however, my kids loved me and my US History STAAR test results were higher than the last three years. You are welcome. Even if you are not a teacher or even have kids in Texas schools, there is a full-scale war on public education as a whole that directly affects all of us living in the United States.

Why More Testing is Not the Answer
For many of us approaching 40, we were the last generation that knew school without the looming deadlines of draconian tests other than the standard finals and the ACT/SAT. We didn't know how lucky we were, because now, the organic process of the learning environment is completely derailed by these state-mandated tests. In the classroom, testing takes on added pressure to the teacher, the classroom, the students (especially those who are ELS) and the school as a whole. This forces the content to be streamlined, abandoned, or shaped to cover tested elements. All because we teachers are staring down the barrel of state-dictated Benchmark tests that require us to lose a day or two or even three to administer these tests in all day sessions that cause the entire yearly schedule to be thrown off.
This is even worse in block scheduled schools, where either "A" or "B" days are unevenly impacted, causing one to be strongly affected. It is even worse in ineffective schools (like mine,) where the idiots were in-charge causing the testing to be highly disorganized and stressful enough to drive an instinctual desire for a margarita...or three. The test, in of themselves, are highly stressful due to the exact instructions that must be carried out. At every training I've been to about administering these test, our teaching license are threatened. Nice. Then there is the students. You are assigned a batch of kids you may or may not know, and given the high stakes of administering the test correctly and monitoring them for five hours, you have to watch them like a hawk. The "good" students will appear to try their best, not talk, and not try to hide their phones. While the "bad" kids will take this opportunity to be an asshole and disrupt everything; risking your job and mental health. Then you have the ELS kids that are faced with an test that can barely understand. All of these elements erode the ability for any of these standardized tests to be successful. By the end of the testing cycle, your week is shot and the kids are just over it. There goes a fucking week of instruction down the tubes! Thanks Austin! Should we not as a society desire and support teachers teaching and students learning rather than days of taking a series of tests?

Why Computer-Based Tests are Not the Answer! 
Computers in the classroom have been a promise of science fiction since their emergence in the 1950's, and today that promise as arrival like a Texas spring thunderstorm. Even the poor school I worked in was able to issue laptops to every students and Fort Worth ISD pushed teachers to involve these machines into the classroom by designing and supporting virtual classrooms. This was the promise, and the reality was students googling the answers, watching anime, and generally fucking off. It was hard as a teacher to promote group learning, original thinking, and the use of non-computerized know, books.
Given the challenge of monitoring just one classroom of about 15 students with laptops, can you imagine the challenge in monitoring 30 kids with computer taking a test that could have dire consequences for you if something happens? Plus, there are few if any schools that could host hundreds of students taking computerized testing in computer labs. If they used their own laptops, the chance for something bad happening only increases to nosebleed heights. Count me out. And if anyone in Austin actually taught in this decade, they would damn well known that this bullshit will never work like they imagine...or is that the point? I would think that TEA would be reconsidering the use of computer-based testing for STAAR after last school year when there were dozens of issues with the test results,wiping out some of the test scores entirely.

The Aftermath...
Testing has destroyed a generation of students by completely altering the organic method of instruction, extreme disruption of the school day, boring or disconnecting students from the real purpose of education, and punishing those unfairly for gaps in their education. You have students that are poor readers or not native English speakers that struggle with the test, failing them and shattered their own self image. The teachers are behind and spinning up for the next test that is looming on the horizon instead of planning good engaging lesson that foster real knowledge construction. Another effect of these testing is the weekly meeting for teachers, called PLCs, are repurposed to endlessly discuss the statistics of the results that are pulling data from corrupted pools of information and simply cannot be trusted...but that does not stop the administration from putting their full faith into this data because they cannot have an original thought. If the test was designed to collect data for use by the teachers to see an educational snapshot of their students and their peers, it fails and is only a hindrance to the educational process. Lastly, standardized tests also tell students that all that matters in school is passing the test, not learning and creating. Is that the message we want to send to the next generation?

What Needs to Be Done Before Its Too Late
The pinheads in Austin and Washington need to the listen the guys and gals on the ground and in the classroom that are in the fight everyday and actually know the student population. Too much of educational policy is determined by former teachers who have not been in the classroom in a decade or more, and politicians who simply know shit about the classroom and view public education with contempt. Educational policy needs to be designed from the bottom-up, not the top-down. Actual classroom teachers with current experience with today's population have to be making policy and shaping the political discussion. Also, what is needed now is to abandoned all of the testing, return power to the teachers to generate organic lessons that instruct students in what they need to know about the subject area, along with fostering academic curiosity that honestly shapes real learning. Moreover, as President Obama says, "Don't boo, vote!"along with getting involved and protest before it is too late for public schools. It may be too late for me, given this new rash of more testing fever sweeps through Austin, it might be time for me to get out and abandon my profession.

The Conspiracy Theory on Why The Hell is Texas is Doing This to Public Education
If these tests are so horrible then why is Texas government inflicting this on their students? Some believe that the truth of why standardized testing has a stranglehold on modern education is due to an conspiracy theory and it begins during one of the saddest chapters in the American presidency. In 2001, Texas Governor Little Bush stole the election and was sworn into office. He would bring from Texas to the national stage the No Child Left Behind policy that incorporated standardized testing to verify that students were learning and the massive funding was justified. Like many things in the Little Bush Administration, there was the public reason given and then the shadowy reason behind the policy (The War in Iraq anyone?!). That insidious reason is most likely the desire by the Republican party to completely wound and hobble public education to the point of mass exodus by the bulk of parents and educators.
In the place of free public education would be the privatization of education as Texas as done with the prison system. Money would flow from the school systems into the network of private schools and home schools. This would primarily benefit the vast community of private christian schools across the state, and forward the Conservative-Christian agenda of eliminating non-christian teachings in the classroom. Even I got shit for teaching evolution and palaeolithic history in my high school world history class by my AP. This desire has been spoken aloud by dumbass recent governors of Texas and is in the DNA of their school political policies. The privatization of public education would also favor the parents with greater financial resources and punish the poor...which is the bread-and-butter for the Republican Party. In the end, the standardized testing is a vehicle to destroy the public schools to enact a massive social engineering experiment by further separating the haves from the haven'ts and folding more drones into the GOP and mega-churches. It is just a theory after all and your mileage might vary.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Computer Generation is the Future, and the Future May be Computer Generated

Not long ago, I saw a movie called "The Running Man" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was an 80s movie adapted from a Stephen King book of the same name, and it's opening premise, a soldier framed for murder via government tampering with evidence, couldn't be more relevant today. I'm sure at the time, it was just science fiction. In the movie, a helicopter pilot ordered to fire on civilian protesters refused, was overpowered, the civilians were killed anyway, and he was framed for the murders with advanced video manipulation showing him relishing in the carnage.

Have a look at this video and remember that the face of the woman talking isn't real.

- Lifelike "CG Emily" Animation -

Now look when it was posted, close to eight years ago. That is a LONG time when technology is concerned. In fact, our capabilities, at this point, are so advanced that almost entire action movies are done with Computer Generation, with only the random dialogue sequences being true filmed footage. Your average person just can't tell the difference. Before we know it, actors may never have to leave their homes to star in a film. They'd just have to license their image to a studio, and you could have "Rocky 12" starring a young Stallone. We could even bring back Elvis, James Dean, and Marilyn Monroe to star in the next "Back to the Future" with a young Michael J Fox.

This all sounds fun, and it would be, but remember who's hands all technology eventually falls into, even though they may not have created it themselves. If movie studios can produce believable video imagery that never actually happened, what's stopping our government from doing the same? What's to stop anyone from creating sophisticated graphics and distributing them to news stations as real footage? There are virtually no means to detect this sort of thing aside from a good eye and the "Uncanny Valley."

Already, no videos of purported UFO sightings can be trusted because there are scores of amazingly realistic videos on YouTube of Computer Generated UFOs flying through, under, and over clouds and weaving between skyscrapers. What else should we be wary of? Pictures in magazines have been "touched up" for decades, and video does not have to be much different. What events have we already seen that may never have happened at all? Is it possible that there are serious tragedies that have been manufactured with computer generation?

The scariest part of all of this is that my example from the Schwarzenegger movie is already possible, and is being done. In this Video, you can see real time facial and speech manipulation on world leaders. They can show us anything they want, and no one, not the people, not watchdog groups, nor the media, would ever know the difference.

In closing, have a look at these images.

This woman is entirely Computer Generated.

Once again, One Hundred Percent Computer Generated.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Marxism Made Easy - Part 2: Class

"In the process of production, human beings work not only upon nature, but also upon one another. They produce only by working together in a specified manner and reciprocally exchanging their activities. In order to produce, they enter into definite connections and relations to one another, and only within these social connections and relations does their influence upon nature operate – i.e., does production take place. These social relations between the producers, and the conditions under which they exchange their activities and share in the total act of production, will naturally vary according to the character of the means of production." - Karl Marx

In the previous article, we looked at Marx's theory of Historical Materialism and briefly touched on how different groups of people are shaped by their relation to the means of production in society. 
This is the beginning of Marx's ideas on Class.

Class, in the general way we talk about it in every day life, isn't very specific. We tend to use it very loosely to describe any social or economic group, maybe talking about an "intellectual class" for example. Most commonly, there is the capitalist way of thinking about class which concerns itself only with how much income people make, resulting in upper, middle, and lower class income groups. Most capitalists talk about "growing the middle class" and consider this to be a healthy thing.

None of these ways of thinking about class tell us very much. They are fairly informal and shallow. For a more scientifically useful way of thinking about class, we need a definition of class that focuses on how groups of people act in the real world and how they actually function in society.

Marx found that in any period of history, since ancient times, most people fell into two broad kinds of groups, two major classes, those that owned the means of production and those that didn't. Those that owned the means of production were the ruling class, and those that didn't were the working class.

Classes come into existence because of the demands of production and the competition between people over scarce resources. In other words, it happens because society needs a way to organize that will allow increasing populations to survive and a way to determine how resources are to be appropriately distributed.

The specific shape each class takes is determined by the mode of production in society, and the mode of production is determined by the physical and technological conditions of the society of the time.

So, in the days of kings and queens, the mode of production called feudalism existed, and under this mode of production the major classes were the nobility and the peasants. Each of these classes, as in any class system, had subdivisions and there could also exist transitional and smaller supporting classes in between and around the major classes.

There always exists a conflict between the ruling and the working class in society, and this class struggle pushes society towards change. It pushes the drive for technological improvements, leading to higher productivity and new ways of doing things. These new modes then exacerbate the class conflict, and over time, cause crises to develop that lead to a new mode of production arising that eventually replaces the old mode.

As feudal times developed, the conflict between the nobility and the peasants led to outright revolts and peasants being forced off their traditional lands and into the cities where, to survive, they had nothing left but to sell their labor power to local merchants. As a result, the local merchants were able to boost production in the cities like never before, achieving wealth to easily rival any king or church.

At that moment in history, capitalism was born, and two new major classes took shape.

The first new class was the modern bourgeoisie, which started off as a class of medieval city dwellers, mostly merchants, who, through investment and employment of displaced peasants, was ultimately able to overthrow the increasingly useless and oppressive nobility. They are divided into two major parts, the bourgeoisie, themselves, who are big business owners and bankers, popularly called the "1%," and the transitional, "petit bourgeoisie," who are small business owners that are either self employed or employ very few people, if anyone.

The second new class was the proletariat, who went from being rural farmers with close ties to their land, to being landless city dwellers who, in order to survive, were forced to sell their labor power to a member of the bourgeoisie. They too are divided. There is the labor aristocracy, which is workers, mainly in the "first world" countries, who the bourgeoisie has pacified and bought off with huge profits reaped from less developed countries. There is also the regular proletariat who, in first world nations, are considered "lower class," or the so called "lumpenproletariat," which are people who have been entirely disenfranchised and live outside the main classes of society.

So, once the nobility had either been eliminated or turned into powerless figureheads, the new capitalist system was able to dominate the world.  Capitalism unleashed  human productivity in a new way just as feudalism had done over the system it replaced. It also created a drive for individual freedom that dissolved the old ties of honor and land obligations that had made feudalism so restrictive.

However, just as feudalism created the conditions for its own destruction through class conflict, so also has capitalism created the conditions for its own destruction and replacement. It has also produced the means by which bifurcated class systems can become a thing of the past.

Discussing how capitalism actually works, and why it is inherently unjust and irreparable, however, is a discussion for another article....

Monday, July 25, 2016

Welcome to the Circus: Your Capitalist Masters Thank You for Coming

"Democracy cannot consist solely of elections that are nearly always fictitious and managed by rich landowners and professional politicians." - Che Guevara

Let me see if I can put this in several different ways. Hopefully, afterwards, the DNC will get the point. 


The Roll Call vote has not been taken yet, and that is just the first ballot of voting. There is no official nominee until the votes are cast and a candidate gets the number of votes required to be the nominee. This could take one ballot, or one thousand ballots, but until that number is obtained, there is no nominee.


El voto Roll Call no se ha tomado todavía, y eso es sólo la primera votación de la votación. No hay candidato oficial hasta que los votos sean emitidos y un candidato obtiene el número de votos necesarios para ser el candidato. Esto podría tomar una papeleta, o mil papeletas, pero hasta que se obtiene ese número, no hay ningún candidato.


Die namentliche Abstimmung ist noch nicht getroffen worden, und das ist nur der erste Wahlgang der Abstimmung. Es gibt keine offizielle Kandidat, bis die abgegebenen Stimmen und ein Kandidat erhält die Anzahl der Stimmen erforderlich der Kandidat zu sein. Dies könnte eine Wahl treffen, oder tausend Stimmzettel, aber bis diese Zahl erreicht wird, gibt es kein Kandidat.


Поименном голосовании не было принято до сих пор, и что это только первый бюллетень голосования. Там нет никакого официального номинального, пока голоса не отлиты и кандидат получает количество голосов, необходимых для быть кандидатоsм. Это может занять один избирательный бюллетень, или одну тысячу бюллетеней, но пока это число не получается, нет номинального.


لم يتم التصويت رول كول بعد، وهذا هو مجرد الاقتراع الأول من التصويت. لا يوجد مرشح رسمي حتى يتم الإدلاء بالأصوات ومرشح يحصل على عدد من الأصوات المطلوبة ليكون مرشح. هذا قد يستغرق صوت واحد، أو ألف بأصواتهم، ولكن حتى يتم الحصول على هذا العدد، هناك أي مرشح.



This may be a bit excessive, but the hope is that it will draw attention to the fact that the first day of the 2016 Democratic National Convention was everything but democratic. The whole day was a pro Hillary Clinton dance. Everyone that spoke was pro Clinton, even those people from the Sanders campaign who were able to speak, to include Sanders himself. They claimed it was in support of "Party Unity," but how can the party unify when everything said, to date, is predicated on a complete falsehood? These people paid absolutely zero attention to the reality that as of this date, there is no formal nominee of the Democratic Party. Neither Hillary Clinton, nor Bernie Sanders, have the needed delegates required to be the nominee yet. This means that the Democratic National Convention is still an open convention. This also means that these people claiming that Clinton has won the nomination are telling a BOLD FACED LIE!!!!

Further, in order for the nominating process to begin, Roll Call must first be called. This is the point where delegates can begin casting their votes for the nomination. The way it stands now, the first ballot will not determine the nominee because the delegates are obligated to cast their votes by number. After this, the subsequent ballots can determine the nominee. The only thing that can and will get in the way of this is Super Delegates. These people are not supporting the American Dream! They are destroying it! So, like I have already said, THERE IS NO NOMINEE YET!!!!! THIS IS NOT DEMOCRACY!!!!! THIS IS DEMAGOGUERY AT ITS WORST!!!!!

Now that I have completed my rant, I would like to take this conversation a slightly different direction. I just want to take a second to point out something that should be fairly clear by now, and will be made even more abundantly clear in the months to come. The American political system is a complete and total farce. It is a mindless circus design to fill you with false hopes and artificial dreams. It is meant to distract you, not help you. It is meant to divert you, not serve you. It is meant to deceive you, not enlighten you. It is a tool of the Capitalist Ruling Class, which they use to bolster the illusionary dream that you have an actual say in how your government operates. You don't! You can not possibly have a say in how your government operates when your government has been bought and paid for by the rich wealthy elite of this country. You are being manipulated. You are the victim of an epic scam. You have been bamboozled. Welcome to the circus. Your Capitalist Masters thank you for coming.

Why are Conservatives Always on the Wrong Side of History?

“Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.” – John Stuart Mill

"I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." - George Wallace, Former Governor of Alabama

Most conservatives claim to be totally fine with equal treatment towards all races, and in many cases, claim to be fighting for or to have fought for equal rights. However, does their conservative background contradict them? In most cases, if not all, yes it does. In this article, I will talk about how conservatives are contradicting themselves now and how they have done so in the past. For many decades, if not centuries, conservatives have claimed to fight for the people. However, this cannot possibly be true, which means that it is just a big lie that conservatives tell in order to cover up the past. This brief piece will show how conservatives have continuously found themselves on the wrong side of history.

Have we forgotten that conservatives opposed the American Revolution? In most cases, their argument would have been, "it is unlawful and immoral to oppose our rightful ruler (King George III at the time). "Further, doing so would certainly send the colonies into disorder."  However, ask a conservative today if they would have opposed the revolution, and most likely, they would answer, "No, we needed to get away from the tyranny of King George III." What is up with the contradiction?

Have we also forgotten that conservatives also opposed freeing slaves? Is it lost upon us that it was conservatives that fermented a rebellion in defense of slavery, known to history as the Civil War? However, ask a conservative today if they oppose slavery, and they are most likely to say, "Yes, why would I be for it in the first place?" Related to this, have we forgotten that it was conservatives who violently opposed desegregation and the Civil Rights Movement? Was it not conservative Alabama Governor George Wallace who said, "I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." How do conservatives stand on this now? Hmmmmm.....

Have we forgotten also that it was conservatives who opposed women’s suffrage? How can we not remember that it was conservatives who said that women did have the mental acuity required to make a mature choice when they vote? However, if you ask a conservative today how they feel about women's right to vote, they take it for granted. Yet again, contradiction paints the faces of conservatives red as fire.

Conservatives also opposed the minimum wage, child labor laws, the 8-hour work day, and sick leave. Clearly, these facts have been erased from the memories of conservatives because most working conservatives are the first people to take advantage of these laws.

Conservatives opposed the Social security Act during the height of the Great Depression. The SSA provided old-age pensions for retired workers, survivor benefits for work related accidents, aid for the blind and physically disabled, and unemployment insurance. Conservatives opposed the act by saying that this law was just the first step in the imprisonment of the entire American population. They went so far as to accuse FDR of preparing concentration camps for the very people his act was helping.

Finally, when it comes to one of the most repugnant issues in existence, White Supremacy, it is conservatives who are always found supporting this putrid social construct. How much further must we go before we realize that conservatives have always been on the wrong side of history? Is it not conservatives who come to the defense of violent cops who kill innocent people, solely because they are not white?

In the end, my point is this, conservatives always resist positive change, and it is most always because they fear that change. However, once those changes prove to be beneficial, they are almost always the first ones to take advantage of them. They are in constant contradiction with reality, and history is always their biggest enemy. What is their deal, and when are they going to come of their dark hovels to greet reality?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Clinton Dynasty

When the United States of America was founded, it was immediately after a violent revolution that expelled British colonial rule. We didn't like kings, and we certainly didn't like one person and their family making decisions for everyone else. The dynastic rulers of most of Europe, at the time, were shocked and appalled that we would allow the people to vote, of all things. Such was seen as the greatest cause of instability possible. To not have one vision for a nation and it's people that carried on for centuries, would invite indecision and weakness and would, quite possible, destroy entire cultures should this sort of revolutionary idea spread. It did, of course, spread and those stuffy European monarchs were wrong.

Dynastic rule was oppressive, unmoving and backward, and the "culture" and "tradition" they maintained were more like shackles on the people. To be rid of this and to have the general consensus of the population controlling what a nation does was unique in the world at the time that the United States declared independence. If the people who signed the Declaration of Independence knew that for close to 40 years, now, this nation would be ruled by just two political families. Let's just say the Founding Fathers are probably fifty feet deeper in their graves from all the spinning.

The election in 2000 really showed the world what was actually happening. There was supposed to be a smooth transition from Bill Clinton to his Vice President, Al Gore, so they could continue the projects that Bill ran out of time on. The whole Monica Lewinsky thing had taken up years of his time. It was carefully orchestrated by his political enemies to destroy his character and end his faction's political ambitions. Unfortunately for Bill, and all of the Wall Street cronies he had made promises to, it worked and they were defeated in a nail-biter by George W. Bush, not to be confused with his father George H. W. Bush, who had lost his bid for reelection to the presidency just 8 years before.

The outcome was viciously fought in the courts, coming down to one state where the Bush family had an ally. George's brother, Jeb, was the governor of Florida, and soon found himself declared the victor of that state's election, which carried him to the presidency. Seeing no use for Al Gore anymore, the wife of the outgoing president, Hillary Clinton, was handed a senate seat, in a state she never lived in, to build up her political resume. She was originally supposed to take over for Gore after his eight years to continue the Clinton dynasty, but Gore's defeat cost them those eight years. This was to be eight years while the previous dynasty had control again. It was eight years in which Bush gave away the money they had built up as a surplus, and had plans for. This, of course, was a tit-for-tat response to the damage that the Clintons had done to the Reagan-Bush plans eight years earlier.

After the new Reagan-Bush term was over, Hillary was positioned to take office. With a senate term under her belt and an appropriate resume to take over, the Clinton establishment were in shock when they were upstaged by an Illinois state senator with similar credentials, by the name of Barack Obama. Not surprisingly, he won the nomination because he was far more likable. She was supposed to be the first woman president. The path had been paved for an easy victory, but Obama was destined to be the first black president. With the history of this nation, that was a far more profound victory for the people, and they voted in kind. The first woman would have to wait. The DNC, ever on her side, and still run by the last Democratic president's people, forced this newcomer to appoint Hillary to be the Secretary of State. This is, arguably, the second most powerful office in the country, so she stayed relevant. Her faction would have to wait another eight years.

Dynasties, it seems, are the way things work these days. Bill Clinton cut off George H. W. Bush's planned eight years and ended many of his policies in what was seen as a political coup at the time. Bush Sr., was,  himself, a continuation of the Reagan dynasty, having been his vice president for two terms, and head of the CIA before that. During his own four year term, he continued Reaganomics and much of Reagan's political agenda. The manner in which he just 'pushed aside' saw the beginning of a new political family feud. This sort of politics, the back and forth swing of the pendulum with ruling families trading power and abruptly ending each others' policies, has always proven to be dangerous in America because a lot of powerful people end up losing a lot of money. Today, counting the terms of our current ruling families, they have held power in this country for close to 40 years, if not longer when you count CIA ties.

Now, we're seeing the revival of the Clinton claim to the American throne again, and all of the skullduggery that the DNC is using to make it happen. It's no secret that the Trumps and the Clintons are family friends and have been for many years. In an article on Politico a few months back, it was detailed how Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump had to stop being seen in public together because of the current election. The Clintons were at several of Trump's weddings,  and over the years, have built what can only be called a warm friendship.

It could be that Trump is the raving, sexist dragon that's been built up for Hillary to slay on her way to becoming the first woman president, again. She's conservative, which is a problem, but they've pitted a rabid dog against her, so that she looks liberal by comparison. Everything was tightly orchestrated to be a compelling story that the American people would eat up and HAVE to vote for, but it went off the rails when Bernie Sanders showed up, in almost the exact same manner as Obama showed up eight years ago. He would have been the first Jewish president and this undermined her novelty in the same way. Without that, she's just not likable enough to play the role set up for her, and more, she has too much baggage to fit into it.

However, the DNC is pushing her, yet again. Too many promises made during the Clintonian era need to be honored and a lot of banks and rich wall street people are riding on her success. The main Bush family rival, Jeb, is out and the only other Clinton, aside from Bill's loser brother, is Chelsea, and she's not old enough to run. It must be Hillary, or all is lost for those who've been waiting on a Clinton promise for close to twenty years now. If she doesn't win this time, I guarantee we'll see Chelsea, or some other Clinton family friend they've been hiding in an attic somewhere, running in 2020. But, how could she lose? She's best friends with her opponent.

Will Trump play his part though? Or will power, something he's always pursued, be too much of a temptation to ignore? We've got our very own "Game of Thrones" going on right now.

Lying to Children

Several years back, the public was subjected to what has become the most famous nipple slip, or "wardrobe malfunction," in the history of broadcast television. This occurred when Justin Timberlake ripped a crucial piece from Janet Jackson's costume during the NFL Superbowl halftime show. Immediately, out tumbled the most vile and evil of all things that the media and the conservative population could possibly have seen, human skin.

The excuse used to fine the network and keep cameras rolling on pundits for weeks after the nipple holocaust was the possibility that some children may have seen it and gotten the strange idea that women might actually have breasts. Oh, the horror! Imagine what would happen if children knew the truth about the world.

At the root of the issue, as is always the case with such events, is the "innocence" of children. That wide-eyed look, complete trust, and insatiable appetite for knowledge and exploration, which we find such a joy to experience with them, is under constant threat from television, film, music, news, and many other similar entertainment outlets. But where exactly does it come from? Adults actively shelter children from sex, violence, and even science, if it conflicts with the ideology they're pushing. Further, almost all regulations on the aforementioned industries are based, in part, on keeping racy material away from immature viewers.

These kids aren't naturally this fragile, however, as is evidenced throughout much of history. As much as parents don't want to admit it, they're keeping their children artificially "innocent" (ignorant) for their own amusement. The immaturity associated with being a child comes entirely from having no life experience. It's just cute to us how kids have no clue about the real world and say hilariously dumb things based on the ignorance they're left in, which is a direct result of never being allowed to view reality. Shows like "Kids Say the Darnedest Things," with Bill Cosby, had a huge following of fawning adults who find this mental state endearing and lovable.

We tell our children lies about the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Stork, and giggle at their amazement when you insist magic is, in fact, real and is embodied by various entities that all want to bring them presents, candy, and kid brothers and sisters. Rather than telling  them the truth, that their parents love them and enjoy giving them gifts, parents prefer to maintain these delusions that almost always end in heartbreak when the stories inevitably break down under any sort of logical scrutiny on the part of their children.

Should a child make any attempt at growing up at their own pace rather than the plodding pace laid out by their parents, they're severely reprimanded. Part of the reason so many adults today are so damaged sexually is because the first time they ever attempted to explore themselves, they saw the look of horror on their parents' faces and immediately associated their own bodies with words like "bad" and "dirty." They're made to look away when the bad people on TV are having sex, suffer nervous short responses if they ever ask about it, and quickly form a variety of opinions on the subject that all amount to "sex = a terrible thing that one should never investigate, see, or do." Add religion into the mix and the psychosis can become even more severe and all because the cute little doll that their parents have been dressing up and playing with is showing signs of actually being human.

It's no wonder that by the time they become teenagers, kids have a natural distrust of authority and crippling self-esteem issues. Ignorance isn't cute anymore and they've been living a lie, carefully crafted for them for over a decade. Worse, in their minds, is the fact that everyone around them, from their parents to their teachers, were in on it.

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Christianity is Stained with the Blood of the Innocent

“Christianity did not become a major religion by the quality of its truth, but by the quantity of its violence.” - Michael Sherlock

        How would you feel if Donatella Versace came up to you, and right in your face, threatened to kill you if you didn’t wear the latest line of clothes from her fashion design company? One can imagine that most people would personally sign her travel pass directed straight to hell. It does not seem like something like this would be remotely fair does it? Well, you may think that, and you would be correct, but this would not be the first time that something like this has happened in Western culture. It has happened several times, in fact. The most significant occurrence was when Christianity spread throughout the Mediterranean world. Christianity has not proven to be so peaceful a religion as it proclaims to be. Many people died for refusing to convert. “No, that can’t be. Christians are good people. They wouldn’t hurt a fly,” is probably what a lot of you are saying, right now. Well, sorry to break it to you, but its true. A lot of our ancestors were forced to follow the Christian religion against their will, and violence played a big role in convincing them to do so.
        Let's start with a basic description of the Christian religion. Christians believe in the one and only god that created everything in seven days. This god has three parts to him, the father, the son and the holy spirit. The holy spirit later impregnated a virgin woman so she would have the son of god, the messiah. The messiah later grew up to be a man that preformed many miracles. He was later crucified in order to save his follower’s souls. The Christian belief is based off a series of books which were later put together to make the “Holy Bible.” Christianity first emerged in the mid-first century in Jerusalem. It then spread throughout the Roman Empire, and eventually, the world. That spread was not always a peaceful one. Early Christians were known for inciting riots throughout the Roman world. They were even commonly responsible for gross acts of terrorism. Their actions killed innocent people in the name of god, and destroyed ancient artifacts, in the name of salvation. It was Christians, after all, who were responsible for burning the ancient Great Library of Alexandria, along with all of its knowledge, to the ground.
        The violence committed by Christian zealots got to such a height that it threatened the internal stability of the Roman Empire. Further, the movement had become so large that the Empire could no longer ignore it as a legitimate power, and it could no longer allow its people to persecute the movement. If they did either, they risked complete collapse. It was the Emperor Constantine that inherited this predicament. Rather than upping the Empire's war against the religion, he paved the way for the religion to become the official religion of the Empire. It was he that summoned the Council of Nicaea. This council spent three weeks researching and arguing about the early Christian writings that would or would not be included in a cannon of laws for the Christian faith. In the end, they assembled the basic structure of what is now the modern bible. Upon completion of this task, Constantine put the full force of the Empire behind the text. Anyone who challenged or contradicted the new text would face the severest of punishments, death, and many did.
       In 476 A.D., the Western Roman Empire collapsed under the pressure of constant invasions by German tribes seeking, but being denied, asylum in the Empire. This collapse destroyed the political unity of western Europe that had existed under Rome, reducing the region to a series of feuding fiefdoms. It also created an enormous power vacuum. This particular power vacuum was over the cultural and spiritual well being of the people in the region. The Roman Church, eventually to be the Roman Catholic Church, stepped into this vacuum with gusto, and anyone who did not recognize their divine right to dictate the will of god suffered the consequences. The church employed professionals skilled in the art of torture for those most chronic cases, and it routinely sponsored public executions to both entertain the people and to warn them against defying the will of the Roman Church. Women would be burned at the stake as witches, and men would be hung, put on the rack, pulled apart by horses, and gutted in the name of Jesus Christ's holy mercy. The Church even offered up a publication designed to out those who practiced the dark arts, the Malleus Maleficarum, or The Witches' Hammer. These tactics were used to keep Europe in a state of fear for a thousand years.
        There is, of course, then, the Holy Crusades, which lasted from the end of the Eleventh century to the end of the Thirteenth century. The background is simple. In the middle of the Seventh century, a new religion arose in the Middle East, Islam, which served to unify the Arab tribes. This unity brought forth the birth of an empire that would eventually stretch from the farthest eastern reaches of the old Persian Empire, all the way to Spain in the west. This, of course, meant that they took the 'Holy Land' from the Eastern Roman Empire and continued to advance on their capital over time. This arrangement created an expensive trade arrangement for Western Europe in the form of high trade tariffs. Under the guise of coming to the military aide of the flailing Eastern Roman Empire, Pope Urban II rallied all of Europe to send troops to reclaim the 'Holy Land' for Christendom. What followed was two centuries of sanctioned Holy War and genocide, not for salvation of any kind, but for a relief of tax penalties incurred for trade with the far East. Even worse, many of the people that were killed in the name Christ and Holy Mother Church, were themselves, Christians. It is just too bad for them that they were not Roman Christians.
        This was not the last time that Christianity found itself in the middle of a bloodbath. With the second loss of the Eastern trade routes, western Europeans began seeking alternative routes to the goods of the East. This, eventually, led them to encounter the lands and peoples of an entirely new hemisphere, the Americas, and then all of lower Africa beneath the Sahara, as well as, parts of Asia. In the Americas, as competing Empires, with the blessings of the Pope in Rome, conquered Native peoples and stole their wealth, Christianity was at the forefront of the subsequent efforts to subdue and acculturate the Natives. Empires conquered in the name of God and Gold, and the monks who followed them punished those Natives who refused to accept their new roles as a conquered people. The consequences of denial were just as severe is they had been for Europeans after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. As the Americas declared their independence from Europe, this practice spread to Africa and Asia, and the consequences for denial were the same. People were hunted like animals and their body parts were used as trophies because it was clear to Europeans that the lands they conquered were granted to them by God. If they were not, then the people already living their would have developed the land in the European fashion. God made them weak so that Europe could take their resources in his name. This, of course, was the logic that Europe used to justify the building of empires in the Americas, Africa, and Asia.
        What does this say about the Christian religion? It mainly says that the Christian religion is no different than any other religion that has ever existed. It started as an underground movement, became the religion of the status quo, and then once in power, it became the religion of Empire. Further, once in power, it did everything that was required to stay in power and expand its power. This included authorizing the killing of its own people and the destruction of the foreign 'Savages' who refused to yield to the 'Will of God.' To be fair, Islam is guilty of the same crimes and has followed the same cycle. It's faith has been spread around the world with the power of the sword, and like every religion before it, it has justified theft, rape, and murder in the name of God's divine will. This reveals something even deeper about Christianity, though, and all religions for that matter. Religion is nothing more than a tool. It is a means to end. The spread of faith is not its main goal. Its main goal is the spread of compliance or obedience. Do as you are told and your place in heaven is secured. Resist the powers that be, and you will find yourself suffering eternal torment in the fiery pits of Hell.
        The biggest thing that lends weight to this argument is the fact that Christian lore is almost entirely plagiarized. Consider the story of Moses. Moses' parents had to hide him from the Egyptian Pharaoh who was on a rampage against the first born of Israel. They put him in a reed basket and sent him down the Nile in the hopes that he would be found and raised by a good Egyptian family. He was eventually found by an Egyptian princess and raised to be an Egyptian prince until he betrayed the Pharaoh and led his people out of slavery. This mirrors, almost exactly, the Akkadian story of Sargon the Great. Perhaps, we should go back further? Consider the story of Noah and the Great Flood. This story was taken directly from the Sumerian tale, The Epic of Gilgamesh. These, of course, are not the most significant of the plagiarisms. By far, the most important and most dramatic plagiarism of all is the story of Jesus Christ, itself. The Christ was born of a virgin, Mary, and raised as a carpenter by a surrogate father until he was twelve. He then began his education as a Rabbi and teacher, and at the age of thirty, began his ministry. After three years of work, he was betrayed by one of his own disciples, turned over to the authorities for a purse of silver, and then executed. He then spent three days in Hell before rising from the dead, where he then commenced to preaching for forty days and nights. After his job was done, he ascended, alive, into the Kingdom of Heaven. This story mirrors, exactly, the story of the ancient Egyptian god Horace, who did all of these things three thousand plus years before the Christ.
       Now, consider this. All of the theft, rape, murder, conquest, and oppression that has been carried out in the name of Jesus Christ, has been carried out in the name of a god that was created out of thin air from the stories of other gods that were created out of thin air. Essentially, the Christian religion is, again, like all religions before it, proven to be nothing more than a tool used by those that have much to deprive those that have nothing of what little the have left. Further, it is also tasked with making sure that the oppressed enjoy, or accept as normal, the squalor that they are forced to endure. This is an undeniable historical fact. The cloak of Christianity is just as stained with the blood of the innocent as is every other single major religion ever invented by humanity. Consider this final reality. Somewhere in your distant past, your family worshiped the gods of what is now known as a pagan religion. At some point, for most Americans, a Catholic Monk came to your village bearing news of the one true god. Those of your ancestors that accepted this god, found themselves incorporated into a broader European culture. Those that did not, found themselves dead or exiled from their homes. Essentially, we are all victims, in some way or another, of this artificially concocted plague that seeks to rob us of our liberty and our spiritual freedom. Even worse, we still find ourselves divided by it. For the love of humanity, when will this cycle of bloodlust finally come to an end?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Solidarity Forever: An Oral History of the IWW - A Review

"The mine owners do not find the gold, they do not mine the gold, the do not mill the gold, but by some weird alchemy, all the gold belongs to them." - "Big" Bill Haywood, IWW Founding Member

Bird, Stewart, Dan Georgakas, and Deborah Shaffer. Solidarity Forever: An Oral History of the IWW. Chicago: Lakeview Press, 1985.

        How many people enjoy the comfort of eight hour work days and forty hour work weeks and don't think twice about how they got that liberty? How many people work a job that pays, at the least, a living wage and go to the bank each week thinking that such has always been the case? How many people complain about laborious safety procedures, not knowing that such protections from work related accidents, some of which may cause debilitating injuries, or even death, have not always existed? These positive worker's benefits were not always a given in the American workplace; in fact, they were considered preposterous by many companies, many of whom, found such concessions to be an unreasonable threat to their bottom lines. In 1905, an organization was founded that fought for such things to be made given rights for American workers. This organization was the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World. If it had not been for this organization, many of the common benefits that people take for granted now would not be available to American workers. Perhaps, if people were to put more stock in this reality, they would be less willing to watch their companies strip them of their rights and jobs in front of their very eyes.
        People around the country, in the early twentieth century, were growing very tired of how poor their working conditions were, and knowing that they were not getting better, despite the existence of trade unions, they began to look to other methods and other organizations for answers to their problems. Many looked to the IWW. The IWW was known to use tactics that other organizations found to be too risky. They would regularly engage in ‘On the Job’ actions, rather than doing most of their work outside the job. One of their more common actions was the 'Sit In,' where their member workers would occupy the production floor of a factory and halt production until their needs were met. They were also known for making unwritten agreements with companies and organizing by industry rather than by trade. This was contrary to the methods of organizations like the American Federation of Labor (AFL); but it was effective, for companies knew that if they violated the terms of a verbal agreement, they would be facing another 'Floor Strike,' as they liked to call it. They would also run the risk of a strike that could possibly encompass multiple facilities and trades, all at once. Such tactics were more feared because they made it harder for companies to bring in Scabs, or replacement workers, to continue production while they stalled with the unions. Through the use of such tactics, the IWW drew national and international attention to the plight of the American working class and helped to improve working conditions for common working Americans. The organization was not without it problems, though. It faced government repression, internal disagreements, and resistance from unsympathetic co-workers and trade unions. As a result, after 1924, the organization’s sway began to fade; however, its legacy cannot be ignored. The IWW provided the momentum needed for future organizations, like the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), to make even further gains for working Americans.
        Solidarity Forever: An Oral History of the IWW was published in 1985 by the Lakeview Press based out of Chicago, Illinois. It was authored and edited by Stewart Bird, Dan Georgakas, and Deborah Shaffer. It is based upon excerpts from oral history interviews that were originally conducted by these same individuals for use in the documentary “The Wobblies,” which was released by DocuRama in 1979. One wonders why this time frame was chosen for this project. Could it have been that the old Wobblies were getting so old that there was a risk that their memories would be forgotten? Could it have been the anti-Union sentiment of the time, as can be evidenced in the anti-labor actions of the Reagan Administration? Both of these factors played a part in motivating the creation of the documentary and the subsequent book. The authors, themselves, stated that the primary purpose of the project was to engender, in a new generation of Americans, a sense of passion and dedication to rival that of the IWW that had once mobilized the American working class to take the improvement of their working conditions and their future into their own hands.
        The book was divided into thirteen chapters, The IWW Reconsidered, Fanning the Flames, Bindlestiffs, Women in Textiles, The Home Guard, Timberbeasts, Hard Rock Mining, Civil Liberties for All, Comrade or Fellow Worker?, On the Waterfront, Continued Repression and Decline, A Better World, and Solidarity Forever. Each of the chapters, minus the last one, opened with contextual research, which covered the given theme and was then backed up by anywhere from one to four excerpts from oral history interviews that served as voices for the people or events addressed. The interview excerpts also served as further evidence to support the research.
        Consider the chapter entitled, "Bindlestiffs."  This chapter spoke about the itinerant workers who numbered in the millions in the United States before World War I. It mentioned some of the very harsh conditions that these workers had to face, such as low wages, poor provisions, irregular work, unsafe working conditions, and the dangers encountered on the railways between jobs. These workers, primarily agriculture and timber workers, facing such deplorable conditions, sought to organize and faced even more dangers then. Such a task was very difficult, as the workforce was so mobile and the workplaces were so spread out. It was also difficult because many employers and local governments were resistant to the IWW and its affiliated organizations that were doing the work. The Agricultural Workers Organization (AWO) and the Brotherhood of Timber Workers (BTW) were just a couple of many such organizations. To offer a vision into the lives of the workers who experienced these things, the authors interviewed Jack Miller, who worked in both the timber and agricultural industries and had a personal run-in with the dangers of traveling on the railways between jobs. He had to face down a railroad brakeman, who had plans to collect fairs from him and his companions. The consequences of non payment was a beatdown at the hands of hired thugs. They also interviewed Joe Murphy who, as an IWW job delegate, experienced both the harshness of the timber and agricultural industries and the lethal reprisal of people who feared the communist influence of the IWW. This fear was manifested during the first 'Red Scare' in 1919. Murphy was present at the IWW’s response to the Centralia Raid, which was carried out by the American Legion in November of 1919.
        Consider, also, the chapter entitled, "Women in Textiles."  In this chapter, the authors discussed the IWW’s commitment to organizing female workers. The work that went into the attempts to organize the women in the textile industry was extremely intense, and even deadly, as Annie Lo Pezzo found out. There were both successes and failures. The action in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in which both male and female workers formed a mobile picket line, effectively shut down commerce across the city, and garnered huge concessions for the textile unions there. This was a success. The action in Patterson, New Jersey, however, where the factory owners, seeing themselves as the last line of defense against the textile strikes, refused to yield, no matter the costs, was an unfortunate failure. To offer a vision of how these strikes affected the female workers, the authors interviewed Sophie Cohen and Irma Lombardi, who had both been involved in the failed strike at Patterson. Despite the failure, Cohen retained her IWW membership after becoming a nurse; whereas, Lombardi fell away afterwards and went back to work in the textile industry for another forty years. Both women retained their desire for another chance to be active in the labor struggle.
        Finally, consider the chapter entitled, "On the Waterfronts."  In this chapter, the authors discussed the influence that the IWW was able to maintain in the maritime trade industry through the work of the Maritime Transport Workers Union. Interestingly enough, this union was actually even able to open up offices in several foreign ports. This union also experienced intense government repression which, for them, was especially rigorous during WWI. This was so because the the workers in this union handled shipments that were bound for war torn Europe. To offer a vision into this industry, the authors interviewed James Fair and Fred Hansen. Fair was especially adamant that the MTWU never once hampered or delayed shipments to American troops in Europe, and Hansen recounted some of the harsh conditions that maritime workers were forced to endure while at sea, such as poor food and unsafe conditions. Though they endured some difficult times, both men had a common memory of their days in the union. They were both fond of the unique sense humor that IWW workers maintained to help themselves endure the unpleasant conditions while on the job.
        Is this approach to the history of the IWW in Solidarity Forever: An Oral History of the IWW beneficial? First, one must consider that the history of the IWW is not unwritten. The text of the book and the notes at the end of the book offer countless references to other books on the history of the IWW, such as Ralph Chaplin’s, Wobbly: The Rough and Tumble Story of an American Radical, Philip S. Foner’s, The Industrial Workers of the World, which is Volume 4 of his series entitled, History of the Labor Movement in America, or Patrick Renshaw’s, The Wobblies: The Story of Syndicalism in the United States. Despite this preexisting body of work, the answer is, most assuredly, yes. It is easy to come to such a conclusion when one considers the awesome potential of first-hand accounts of historical events. Anyone who is well versed in the history of the IWW, and who knows the aforementioned texts well, can use a book such as this to compare and contrast what they know from their historical research with what these people, who actually experienced the events, remember from their direct involvement with the IWW. They can then come to a much deeper understanding of the IWW and the impact that its operations had on the people that were directly involved in the events. They can also come to a better understanding of how the IWW provided momentum and inspiration to the labor movement in the United States. To people not involved in the historical field, this book can serve to put a human face on an organization that has been attacked by the government for being radical and dangerous. It can also serve to clear up a great many of the misconceptions about an organization that brought motivation and innovation to the labor movement in a time when when the government was coming down hard on the labor movement as a whole. Solidarity forever!