activism

The Sheeple Myth

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Here’s what we do:  we blow up the banks

then we tell everyone the government did it,

that it was an inside job, people will believe that.

The revolutionary spirit, when sufficiently disabled

from action, creates an intense field of paranoia

that ultimately devours the Carrier.

Next, the Carrier enters into a revolution against

the very people he claims to be concerned with,

calling them all sheep and telling them any action,

for whatever motive,  they take is just a sign

of what fools they are.  They neglect to notice

that gathering with others of their ilk and pointing

the finger at all who hold different opinions from themselves

and saying “You’re baaaaad” is also sheeplike behavior.

The constantly refer to a Conspiracy so powerful

and omnipresent that we might as well all lie down and die,

but then claim to support activism.

They believe that all vestiges of democracy all illusory

and, in fact, never existed in the first place.

Hell, if I were them, I’d join the Conspiracy as soon

as possible.  Such a hopeless perspective encourages

pot smoking, all of which the actual Ron Paul conspiracy

is well aware of.  That’s why this corporate shill is so shrill

about legalizing marijuana.  So, watch out, the THC Conspiracy

is coming for your pathetic existence Sheep,

hold onto your wool, Bo Peep,

we are stoned and we buy iPads.

 

Newt Gingrich Rally in Possibly Decisive Florida

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Everything you read in the newspapers is absolutely true, except for that rare story of which you happen to have first-hand knowledge. – Erwin Knoll

By Carl-John X Veraja

Having followed the GOP presidential primaries with a fixation born of dread, amusement, and disgust, I was somewhat intrigued when I heard Newt Gingrich was coming to my stomping grounds in the wake of the news of the unusual twist in Iowa and Gingrich win in South Carolina.  Florida had opted to change the date of its primary, believing that they could possibly provide momentum to the winning candidate.  Now that Gingrich had had a surprise win in South Carolina, would this turn out to be the case?  Mitt Romney must be dreading the possibility of losing again, given that McCain upset him here 4 years ago.

When I arrived at the Newt Gingrich rally in Fort Myers, Florida, I realized I didn’t have any of my business cards left.  So, I was forced to use an expired Geico insurance card as a press pass, hoping this would counterbalance my Murder Junkies t-shirt.

A crowd of hundreds was assembled.  Several vendor stands hocked pins and t-shirts.  There were also t-shirts featuring certain profound principles like America is good.  Something was missing though, and I didn’t know what.

A stage had been set up for camera crews and I flirted with the idea of mounting it, flashing my insurance card as my credentials, but I  really had no idea how long Newt would be in coming.

So, I wandered about, taking pictures, and flashing my winsome grin at Republicans.  Some of them stitched their brows.  I had had very little sleep the night before and I didn’t feel inspired.

I decided to interview a random person.  I approached a senior woman who seemed lonely and detached.  Her name was Beverly Llewellyn

“I think they are a good conservative party and I think they have the best interests of the country and I think Newt is the most knowledgeable, the most capable person,” Llewellyn said.  “If someone else gets the nomination I’ll support them.”

I asked if she was part of the middle class and she said, “A little better than that.”

Eventually, I found some union members in one corner of the assemblage.  Soon enough, a heated exchange took place, started by a gentlemen who appeared as if he’d been drinking or was medicated, you decide.  I somewhat sympathized with him, as I have also fallen from a more monied state.  He was momentarily entertaining.

Union Protestors

Several members of Occupy Fort Myers were present, and when they attempted to move forward in the crowd of onlookers a brief scuffle broke out.  The police, lead by Sargeant O’Reilly, who had previously issued me a citation for covering another Occupy Fort Myers event, restored peace.  The citation was thrown out of court.

Matthew McDowell was soon in engaged in a series of discussions with Newt supporters.  Corporate person and money as speech were the most common topics.  Highlighting the themes was a woman dressed up as a corporation.

At one point, the police conferred with McDowell, asking him to move away from the main body of the Newt supporters.  After the confrontation, one of the officers slapped me on the back and told me they appreciated my camera work.

Lockheed Martin Wonders Where the Water Is
It was around this time that I started to feel dizzy.  I decided to see if anyone was selling water.

Alas, that was what had been missing earlier.  My throat was dry and I felt anxiety coming on.

A sense of unreality descended on these Republican faces as sleep deprivation and dehydration set in.

Newt Waiting

After having determined there was no water to be had, and cursing these capitalists for not acting like capitalists and seizing on the opportunity to rip me off for water in the hot Florida sun, I returned to where Occupy Fort Myers was making its stand.

“Independence Day,” by Martina McBride played.  Then, the music was momentarily lowered and a speaker with a bullhorn told everyone that Newt was the most honest person they had ever known.  You could trust him.

McDowell showed me a scratch on his arm he had received at the behest on a long-nailed onlooker who thought he was pushing his luck trying to get to the front of the crowd.

Another speaker informed us that a highly respected doctor had informed her that Obamacare would lead to something akin to death panels.  A hopeless moan fluttered through the crowd.

“Occupy is here being a presence in everything dealing with the political system right now,”  said McDowell.  “He’s been in the political system for nearly 30 years now.  He’s done a lot to protect the 1 percent and we want to make sure his family values are not pushed on everyone else.”

Another speaker lead us in prayer and then the Pledge of Allegiance.

“Sheep,” I shouted grumpily.

Eventually, Gingrich’s bus arrived.  A speaker told us how special this was. It was a bus, after all.

Occupy Fort Myers informed me they were moving on to Gingrich’s next stop  to interact with the crowd there.   Gingrich began to complain about the cost of gas under Obama, which wasn’t surprising given his bus probably gets about 2 miles to the gallon.

As he droned on about the foolishness of not approving the Keystone XL Pipeline, which act would lead to an unholy alliance between Canada and China, I found myself very desirous of some ice cream.  I realized I was coming down with something and was done for the day.

I started for my car, Gingrich voice following me.  Obama was wrong, foolish, and possibly an infiltrator.  Regulations were the problem.  We needed to repeal Obamacare, overturn Sarbanes-Oxley, get things back to how they were before the recession–

I got in my car, shut the voice out, and headed home.  I mean, there was a State of the Union address to watch.

However, before that could occur, I was informed McDowell was arrested right after I left.  According to what I heard, McDowell was defending another Occupier who had been pushed to the ground when he was seized by police.

So, with a sense of foreboding, I awaited Obama’s speech…

Awake the State, Hosted by Occupy Fort Myers

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By Carl-John X Veraja

Having survived crackdowns by the police, infighting, and bureaucratic entanglements in the justice system, Occupy Fort Myers showed it was still kicking at the Old Courthouse ( 2120 Main Street 33901) as twilight set in.  It was there to host Awake the State, which is touted as “an organic, grassroots movement of everyday Floridians fighting to reject devastating budget cuts, stop the assault on middle class families, and invest in Floridians again.”  This is the second year for Awake the State, which was formed in reaction to the anti-education governorship of Rick Scott.

Fully casting off its former media-sponsored image of un-showered, park-dwelling malcontents spontaneously voicing grievances, these Occupiers sported clean, white t-shirts (which were also for sale), prepared signs, rested eyes, and shiny, luxurious hair (when possible)–and they meant business.  About 60 attendees watched Matthew McDowell as he introduced several polished, powerful speakers.  It was clear the unions and other progressive forces were part of the well-staged presentation now as a crowd consisting of all age groups looked on.  Included were TALC/SPALC, the Democratic Executive Committee, Charlotte County teachers, Occupy Fort Myers, firefighters, public employees,and some local candidates.

Speakers included Rev. Farnham (of the Unitarian Universalist Church), Neal Bowles, and several educators.

They addressed the need for citizens to participate in the political process by understanding issues, voting, and motivating politicians–or driving them out of office.  Repeatedly mentioned was the personhood of corporations and the evils of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which opened the doors to the use of unlimited corporate money to influence elections.  Several educators spoke about how the moves to privatize education include attempts to break the will of teachers through grueling assessments, longer hours, more days, and less benefits and pay.  The effects on students was also addressed.  Teachers said that standards have been implemented removing the teaching of the Socratic method from education, and the focus was now on producing obedient subjects.

One speaker, Holley Rauen, addressed the loss of 500 healthcare workers and bragged about her participation in Code Pink.

“I really wanted to support all the other speakers,” said Holley Rauen.  “I also wanted to talk a little bit about healthcare in Lee County because there are so many people that are suffering without the care they need.  We’ve got one of the highest rates of diabetes, of heart disease, of many chronic diseases including early onset alzheimers, and obesity.  And because of the funds that Rick Scott has cut back from the  Department of Health, our health department here can’t meet the needs of the people that need it the most here.”

Onlookers at Awake the State

Internet for the People

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 (Welcome to the Matrix of Corporate Leeching)
 In most parts of the United States, gigantic corporations are bleeding the people dry by charging exorbitant rates for internet connections.  They are making themselves fabulously wealthy, while providing a service that should be free of charge, because the technology used to create the internet arrived due to public funding i.e. your tax dollars at work.
 ARPANET was the original internet and was created by the Department of Defense.  So, without your tax dollars, there would be no internet.  Also, universities that rely on public funds were involved in its creation, and in the creation of the smarter employees of any corporations that were involved.  Also, every time you drive on a road, you’re basically buying into socialism.  So, if you say you’re against socialism, stop driving, expecting the police to protect you, sending letters, or talking to anyone who went to public schools or has a degree.  Also, don’t use the word “is,” because it’s not copyrighted.
Now that we’ve established you’re a commie heathen, let’s consider making the internet free for everyone, and not just for people who buy overpriced lattes or hyper-processed cheeseburgers.  I mean, what about people who can’t get to those places, have only a desktop, or are children who could use the internet for educational purposes in the poorer neighborhoods?
Censorship considerations aside, being outside the purview of this article, why isn’t there a public internet?  Well, you can go down to the library.  Or you can lug a laptop to several well-known franchises.  But what about free internet in every home?
I spoke to several people involved in these sorts of projects, all of whom wish to remain completely anonymous, as this is what I heard.
In one nameless locale, a group of volunteers devoted time and money into creating an ISP that anyone in the city can use.  They had to purchase the use of phone lines to do so, but they provide dialup and other types of connections.  The key thing is, it relies on volunteers providing the service.  They accept donations, but they are sacrificing to make this a possibility, because they are tired of seeing the corporate internet providers suck up wealth from so many people.
Another idea is Wi-fi.  One source suggested telling people to leave their wi-fi unprotected so that neighbors could jump on.  However, another source warned this could potentially cause trouble if someone accessing your wi-fi were doing something illegal.  Also, wireless network trespassing, where you use another’s wi-fi without permission, is a crime.  An antenna that could pick up wi-fi from 5 miles around was also mentioned to me, but I don’t know the particulars of how that works, and apparently, in New York City, there are 50 or more open wi-fi connections in any given building.
What about right here in Lee County?  Is anyone willing to step up to the plate and provide wi-fi or another service to the poorer households?  Well, I don’t know.  I’m looking into it.  And it seems like the answer is yes, but we need more people.  Hint, hint.
And also, never mind the poorer people, how about everybody?
There are really good reasons for people to have the internet.  Apparently, it promotes democracy, learning, atheism, and trolling. ( Trolling inevitably leads to people with serious social problems being heaped with derision and shamed into non-participation.  Sometimes, they become fearsome monsters and are relegated to dungeons (YouTube channels and such) where other denizens of their ilk gather, and they collectively feast upon cognitive dung.  All of which is a great public service.)  But we shouldn’t be making more powerful corporations, which have become famous in the United States for robbing the public till in various ways (global warming, pollution, bailouts, subsidies, tax cuts, etc), should we?
 We need internet for the people, by the people, but not made of people, that’s just weird.
So, get cracking, activist geeks. Or hacking.  Or coding.  As the case might be…

Here’s to Infinite Speech

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(Danielle Quina, Occupy Fort Myers)
 In downtown Fort Myers, most of Occupy Fort Myers had already left for their new encampment location at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Daniels Road.  Several protestors were still at the Old Federal Courthouse where they’d spent one night after being driven by police from Centennial Park under threat of arrest and the confiscation of their property.  These remaining few were charged with watching over supplies awaiting the return of moving trucks. One man, not necessarily part of OFM, became incredibly agitated, claiming his bag was missing.
“I’m going out of my mind,” he screamed. Police took him aside while several bystanders suggested he needed to be “Baker Acted.”
Danielle Quina, who has been a part of OFM from the beginning, was lying on the ground, feeling unwell, sleep deprived, holding the sign in the photo above. “I got about 4 hours,” she said. A passerby, who appeared intoxicated, proclaimed she felt that the Occupiers had no gratitude. “Try living in England, and you’ll see how good you have it,” she spat, marching off indignantly. Several news vans were present, and Quina made small talk with a reporter.One of the policemen came over and made a rare display of police curiosity, though it was tinged with skepticism.