Monthly Archives: October 2012

Does Voting Matter?

by Jill Dalton Revised:  October 20, 2014

NoMoreStolenElections.org

I remember sitting in the large impersonal lecture hall in my American History 101 class feeling a bit forlorn and overwhelmed.  I’m a freshman at the University of South Carolina.  It’s 1968, the Vietnam War is raging, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King have been assassinated, riots erupted in several U.S. cities, the antiwar movement, woman’s movement and civil rights movement are in full swing, my father’s currently serving in Military Intelligence, Saigon and my mom’s hospitalized after suffering 3rd degree burns because she’s having a nervous breakdown trying to deal with my father being at war leaving her responsible for raising 4 kids ranging in ages from 5 and 18.  I feel like I’m hanging on by my fingernails.

The professor asks, “What is democracy?”  I’m wondering the answer to that question myself.  Student’s hands shoot up as one by one they proclaim, “Freedom of speech.”  “Freedom of religion.”  “Freedom of the press.”  “Freedom to peacefully assemble.”  Freedom to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  “Freedom from illegal search and seizures.”  And the list goes on and each time our professor nods, “Yes, and what else?” After our ideas are exhausted the professor responds, “Democracy means one man one vote.  Period.  This is the only power you have.  If you don’t wield that power at the ballot box then you have no power.”  His statement made a huge impression on me.  Until then I was so apathetic about what was going on in our country I’d decided to ignore the entire rotten system but his words changed my mind.

RiseUpMankind My voting record

I became a registered Democrat.  And every four years I’d march myself to my voting place and “wield my power.”  Granted, I don’t have a very good success rate at the poles but I voted anyway.  1968 gave us a choice between Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace, the racist governor from Alabama.  I was a Robert Kennedy supporter so I pulled the lever for Humphrey and we all know how that turned out.

1972 gave us Richard Nixon and Gov. George McGovern.  McGovern ran on ending the war in Vietnam, amnesty for war resisters, abolition of the draft, a guaranteed job for every American, lifting people out of poverty, women’s rights, gay rights and saving the environment—no wonder he lost by one of the largest margins in U.S. history winning only Massachusetts and D.C.  What a different world we might have had if he’d won. 

Today we’re facing many of these same issues.  Nothing has changed in fact things have gotten much worse. I’ve never understood and never will understand why the majority of Americans prefer liars, crooks, thieves and warmongering politicians to honest, compassionate, peace loving statesmen.  And because they do we find ourselves in a dying empire rife with corruption and inequality collapsing from the weight of its own hubris.

1976.  Jimmy Carter, a soft-spoken, kindhearted peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia ran against Gerald Ford, who served 25 years in the Senate and became president after Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon resignation on August 9, 1974.  Finally, my candidate wins but because of the Iran hostage situation he loses in 1980 to Ronald Reagan.

I never liked Reagan.  He was a second rate actor and a third rate president.  I’d sit and watch him lie to the American people as he pushed the corporate agenda, killed the air traffic controllers union, which signaled to workers you have no power here and promoted his “trickle down economics,” which even George H.W. Bush referred to as, “voodoo economics.”

1984.  Walter Mondale loses to Reagan.

1988.  Michael Dukakis loses to George H.W. Bush.

1992.  Bill Clinton, defeats George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot.

1996. Bill Clinton wins a second term defeating Bob Doyle and Ross Perot but then the unthinkable happens.  Bill Clinton becomes embroiled with a White House Intern and trying to save himself claims “he did not have sexual relations with that woman” and depending on “what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” was impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice as Hillary proclaims there’s a mass right wing conspiracy under foot.  And although unemployment’s at 4.8%, the lowest in 8 years and he claims to leave us with a huge surplus, he finishes out his term in disgrace.

In retrospect we now know Clinton killed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which was put into place after the great depression to make sure we were protected from the banks ever collapsing the economy again, dismantled welfare which mainly hurt poor hungry children, and touted NAFTA as a huge job creator, which we now know sent American jobs overseas.

2000.  George W. Bush versus Al Gore turns out to be a huge fiasco.  Between the hanging chads in Florida, and being aided and abetted by the then Gov. Jeb Bush, the little brother to G.W. Bush, and then Secretary of State of Florida, Katherine Harris.  People are purposely excluded from the voting rolls and hundreds are turned away at the polls.  And then the final nail in the coffin, the Supreme Court stops the recount and calls the election for George W. Bush even though Al Gore won the popular vote. This was a coup. 

The 2000 election was stolen, plain and simple.  If this had happened in another country Americans would be up in arms crying fowl.  I kept waiting for people to rise up and revolt, but nothing much happened.  Instead everyone blamed Green candidate Ralph Nader, including myself at the time, believing he’d stolen votes from Gore and caused him to lose.  This hypothesis has since been disproved.

George W. Bush’s record

With George W. Bush in office the neocons take control of the White House, and all hell breaks loose.  September 11th marks a very dark day in our history.  The Bush Administration starts two wars, Afghanistan and Iraq, by lying to the American people resulting in 4,000 U.S. troops dead and estimates of civilian deaths range from 88,000 to over half a million and then under the guise of protecting us from, “they hate us for our freedoms,” terrorist, the Bush administration immediately gets to work dismantling our Constitution, promoting fear and stripping us of our civil liberties by: Passing the Patriot Act.

Opening Gitmo. (Guantanamo Bay detention camp)

Authorizing the wiretapping and reading of e-mails of U.S. citizens. Promoting the preemptive war, Bush Doctrine.

Abu Ghraib photos are leaked.  Torture becomes the new normal.

Signs tax cuts for the rich and large corporations.

FCC pushes for more media consolidation allowing one company to own newspapers, TV and radio stations in one city.

Bush ignores victims of Hurricane Katrina and hundreds perish.

2004.  Bush, who avoided the Vietnam war, beats John Kerry by spreading lies about Kerry’s war record, and also by stealing Ohio.   According to a report titled “What Really Happened,” 

“IN mid-August [2003], Walden W. O’Dell, the chief executive of Diebold Inc., sat down at his computer to compose a letter inviting 100 wealthy and politically inclined friends to a Republican Party fund-raiser, to be held at his home in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. ”I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year,” wrote Mr. O’Dell, whose company is based in Canton, Ohio.”

By 2008 even many avid Bush supporters can no longer support the lies and corruption from this administration and Barack Obama emerges victorious.  A dark horse who’s not been properly vetted but gave a rousing keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, wrote a compelling book, “Dreams From My Father,” and is an eloquent speaker who promises us “change we can believe in.”  And after eight years of pure hell we’re all so desperate to believe we fall for this rhetoric and his big open smile.  He had us all fooled.

Barack Obama’s record

To say I have buyers remorse is an understatement of Herculean proportions.  Where do I begin?  Glen Ford refers to Obama as the “more effective evil,” and I would have to agree with his assessment. Obama not only continues the wars but escalates them claiming Afghanistan is the “good war” and even though it’s bankrupting the country, and we’re losing he continues this insanity.

Promises to get us out of Iraq but instead we build the largest military installation in the world and fill it with 2,500 private contractors.

Starts new wars in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Syria and now wants to add Iran, China and even Russia to the list.

Obama’s secret ‘kill list.’

Escalates drone attacks.  These illegal killing machines mainly murder innocent women and children and once in a blue moon hit a low level so-called “enemy combatant.”  But not to worry they’ve changed the laws so any male that’s hit who’s of a certain age is labeled an enemy combatant.

Extends the Bush tax cuts for the rich.

Extends the Patriot Act.

Does not prosecute or even question one member of the Bush Administration for their crimes or one of the Wall Street crooks or bankers who caused the global meltdown.  In fact, bank bailouts under Obama have far exceeded Bush to the tune of 16 trillion.

Does not close Gitmo.

Does not put a moratorium on foreclosure nor does he ‘put on his comfortable shoes,’ and march with union workers when collective bargaining is taken away from them in Wisconsin.

Continues and escalates spying on American citizens without warrants via the FISA Amendments Act.

Unemployment continues to rise as thousands are thrown off the roles, and unemployment benefits are not extended.

Prosecutes twice as many whistle-blowers under the Espionage Act of 1917 as all other presidents combined.

Signs HR 347 into law that criminalizes our right to protest.

Signs the NDAA into law.  (Hedges, Chomsky and a few other brave Americans have sued Obama and Leon Panetta)  Under the NDAA American citizens are labeled enemy combatants and can be arrested and held indefinitely without due process.

Passes Obamacare, which forces people to buy inadequate insurance and is a give away to the for profit insurance companies.

Shuts down the Occupy encampments in a coordinated effort between the White House, the DOJ and local police departments, which are now militarized and protect the 1%.

Where are we now?

So now our choice has become a vote between the “lesser of two evils.” The two parties may speak in different tones but they both serve the same corporate masters.  Let’s face it Obama speaks with a forked tongue.  He says one thing yet does another.  I learned a long time ago it’s not what someone says that matters, but what they do.

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”  George Orwell

It’s time to wake up and smell the corruption America.  We’ve been deceived again.  Our government is corporately owned and operated. As Chris Hedges tells us again and again “we have undergone a corporate coup d’état in slow motion.”  And ‘we the people’ have lost. Obama is a brand packaged and presented to us for our viewing pleasure, and let’s be honest the corporate powers that be decide who’s installed into office.  The elections are rigged just as our system is rigged.  We have elections so we can pretend we live in a free society.

“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”  Emma Goldman

We have a two party duopoly.  A plutocracy: government by the rich for the rich. It’s not about Obama or Bush.  They’re just the front men.  Our system is completely corrupted by corporate forces.  And once Citizens United was enacted making corporations people giving them free speech, and allowing them to dump as much cash as possible without accountability into the electoral system then our republic’s goose was officially cooked. And the mere fact presidential candidates must raise a billion dollars to run is obscene.  That money could be used for things that actually matter. Both political parties have been taken over by corporate money. 

Under Clinton the Democrats realized they couldn’t win without big money, and once you take money from Wall Street, big oil or the insurance companies then you’re beholding to them, and must dole out tax breaks, ensure a for profit health care system, deregulate the banks and Wall Street, exempt the fossil fuel industry from the Clean Air and Water Act, and on it goes.

Our votes no longer matter because our legislators no longer need us.  We’re small potatoes.  There’s a reason why Jamie Dimon, the CEO of the ‘too big to fail’ JP Morgan Chase, sits in front of the House Financial Services Committee, wearing cufflinks with the presidential seal, and is cajoled by members of congress after he somehow misplaces 2 billion dollars.  Oh well, not to worry Jamie we know how easy it is to misplace that kind of money.  I mean look at the billions that disappeared in Iraq.  Tee hee.

Electronic voting machines

And then there’s the mater of the electronic voting machines, where a vote can be switched or lost in the blink of an eye with no paper trail.  Researches found severe flaws with the Diebold voting machines. A Princeton Study revealed,

“[m]alicious software running on a single voting machine can steal votes with little if any risk of detection,” and that the software can be installed on a voting machine in  only a minute by anyone that has physical access.”   Ryan Paul

In August 2003, Walden O’Dell, then the chief executive of Diebold, announced he’d been a top fund-raiser for President George W. Bush and had sent a get-out-the-funds letter to 100 wealthy and politically inclined friends in the Republican Party, to be held at his home in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio.

“In December 2005, O’Dell resigned following reports that the company was facing securities fraud litigation surrounding charges of insider trading.”  Wikipedia

In Mark Crispin Miller’s book, “Fooled Again” he calls for electoral reform.

“The pattern—not one overwhelming fraud but thousands of little ones—did not end in 2004.  The same pattern continued in ’06, costing the Democrats a number of seats in the House and Senate, and that is likely to be part of the Republican electoral strategy for ’08 as well.”

Greg Palast claims hacking is the least of our problems.  He states,

“Computers tend to lose more votes and cost five times as much and votes just disappear.  According to the U.S. Elections offices in D.C. 1.4 million votes were lost (spoiled) in the last election. These are billionaires who install politicians who favor them.  “They don’t care who it is they just choose which hand puppet to stick their hand in.”

The Debates

The debates are a joke or as my friend Thomas Baldwin labeled them, “weapons of mass distraction.“  The debates used to matter, but have been strong armed away from the League of Women Voters, a non partisan entity that stood up to the two political parties, wanted third parties to be included, demanded transparency, and made sure the questions were not pre-determined. The debates are now run by a private corporation called the Commission on Presidential Debates.

“…a private corporation, financed primarily by Anheuser-Busch and other major companies, that was created by the Republican and Democratic parties to seize control of the presidential debates from the League of Women Voters in 1987.” George Farah “The Obama and Romney campaigns have secretly negotiated a detailed contract that dictates many of the terms of the 2012 presidential debates. This includes who gets to participate, as well as the topics raised during the debates.” Democracy Now!

Real issues are not discussed, the audiences are pre-screened along with the questions, the participants are not allowed to ask follow up questions, and just in case anyone’s tries their microphones are cut off as soon as their pre-screened question is asked.  Nothing of merit is discussed by either political candidate.

In the last presidential election I voted for Jill Stein, the Green Party Candidate, even though I knew she didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. The system is set up to make sure of that.  Not sure how many people realize this, but Jill Stein and her running mate, activist Cheri Honkala, were arrested outside the debates and handcuffed to chairs for 8 hours. They’d met all the requirements to participate in the debates and because they demanded their rights were arrested.  Police state anyone?

Now what?

So here’s the deal. 

What many people still don’t understand is our elections don’t matter.  I’ve voted in every election since I was old enough.  I no longer believe my vote counts.  Both the 2000 and 2004 elections were stolen.  I realize whoever is really in charge controls the ballot box, and the new electronic voting machines were installed for a reason. It’s now impossible to make change within in the system besides all real change has always come from civil disobedience and grass roots movements: Abolitionists, Labor, Suffragettes, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, etc.  These movements put pressure on the powers that be to make change.  Gandhi did not defeat the British Empire by sitting on the couch, signing petitions or posting on Facebook.  He put his body in front of the machine.  We must all stand up against the tyranny that has befallen our country.  They must fear us in order for anything to change.

Me & Pam @ OWS rally.

Should we boycott elections?

If anyone would’ve told me years ago that one day I’d advocate boycotting elections I’d have thought them insane, but the more I look into this option the more I see it as a way to invalidate our corrupt system and make our legislators illegitimate. The Boycott Elections group is an organization that is picking up steam.  You can read their manifesto here.  At the top of the page is this quote by Ted Aranda, Election Boycott advocate and lifelong activist.

“The entire notion of putting massive resources and effort into building electoral parties to compete in the elite-managed horse-race charades is fatally flawed.  In the final analysis it does not work. We have to do something radically different, and the election boycott is the start of this new, genuinely revolutionary—not reformist—movement.”

A few of it’s members have been appearing regularly every Sunday night (9 – 11 p.m. EST) on the Carson’s Corner Blogtalk Radio Show. To find out more or get involved you can also check out their Facebook page. If I’m completely honest, however, I will most likely vote in the upcoming mid-term election.  Old habits die hard.  I will vote for Howie Hawkins from the Green Party for the governor of New York.  I know he can’t win, but it’s a way for me to show I don’t support either of the two corrupt corporate political parties. 

Come the presidential elections I wish, out of pure disgust for the system, all citizens would refuse to vote.  Not that we should stay home, but instead show up to our respective voting places with signs, and proclaim our refusal to participate in this duopoly that no longer serves ‘we the people,’ and is merely a charade.  Kabuki theatre at it’s finest.   I for one am sick and tired of the deceit and refuse to play their game any longer.  Why collude with the corporate oligarchy?  This is a system of death.  A system based on greed, and propped up by lies, war, distraction and illusions.

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Bearing Witness to 11 Years of an Illegal War of Aggression

by Jill Dalton

The moment I emerge above ground from the South Ferry Station in lower Manhattan I must appear lost.  I’m not lost just disoriented, which happens from time to time when I arise from the subterranean bowels of the New York City subway system.  The man standing at the corner asks, “Need a cab?   “No.” I reply.  “I need 55 Water Street. “ The cabbie points, “Two blocks down—on the right.”  And off I go.  I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never been to the Vietnam War Memorial in New York or Washington, D.C. for that matter. 

I’ve never much felt like paying homage to these lost souls as it brings up too much pain from my own life with a Colonel father who served in three wars.  His Swan Song was Vietnam.  Our entire family had to deal with the ramifications of the aftermath of that war and we never fully recovered.  My father returned from his tour of Vietnam a different man and the country he’d given his total love and undying devotion to and his family had changed.  Our living room became the new battleground. 

I no longer saw my father as the mighty war hero from WWII or the savior of the Nazi horror but as a cog in the military war machine of death and destruction being perpetrated on innocent people in some land far, far away that we had no business being in.  Back then it was called the communist threat.  The Domino Theory was how they justified it.  “It we don’t stop the communist they will take over the world one country at a time.”

My father and I were mostly estranged from the time I was eighteen until right before his death, which was twenty-three years later.  We reconciled and made our peace shortly before he died, and all these years later I’ve come to know and understand him, and now realize we were both fighting for the same thing just from a different perspective.

So visiting these war memorials has never held any fascination or deep burning desire for me, but after many years of healing I realize it’d be an honor to stand side-by-side with other like-minded peace activists and Vets as well as active duty military who believe, as I do, these wars of aggression are wrong and must end now.

These illegal wars are destroying our country and the men and women who serve it.  Tens of thousands of untold innocent people in the Middle East have been murdered and for what?  War profiteers who make billions on death and destruction run these illegal wars of aggression.  This is why these wars are not discussed.  They are in fact taboo.  Whenever I mention “the wars” to even close friends I am, for the most part, met with silence.  Like I’ve brought up a very impolite and distasteful subject that shouldn’t be discussed in polite company.  Other times I’m met with out and out hostility, and the argument becomes about, well, we’re not the only bad guys or I’m called angry and unpatriotic for not supporting our troops.  Like I’m supposed to wave the flag, wear a yellow ribbon, and shout rah, rah like the so-called patriots who follow blindly without knowledge or understanding of what’s really going on–as if being willfully ignorant were a virtue. 

What these people and many others like them do not understand is the people who are the most critical of their government and this country are the one’s who care and love this country the most. 

At the entrance to the memorial I’m greeted by a cheerful woman handing out or I should say trying to hand out pamphlets to passersby, which no one takes except me, as she asks, “Are you aware today’s the eleventh anniversary of the war in Afghanistan?”  To which I reply, “Yes, I am and that’s where I’m going.” 

The headline on the flier reads, “Awakening from the nightmare of war.  Afghanistan:  11 years too long, Veterans say bring ‘em home, Keep ‘em home!”

And the quote at the bottom of the page reads,

To begin the process of change, to stop the war, to establish justice, it may be necessary to break the law, to commit acts of civil disobedience, as Southern blacks did, as antiwar protestors did.   Howard Zinn, historian/political activist

Civil disobedience?  Justice?  Not exactly subjects most Americans are interested in. It seems most would rather discuss what over the hill, has been or wanna be star will be humiliating themselves on “Dancing With the Stars” this season. 

Vietnam Memorial

Once inside, the memorial is rather underwhelming.  Certainly nothing like the one in Washington.  There are about fifty or so people milling about so I scope out the situation, and find a bench that isn’t too wet to sit on, as it’s been raining on and off all day.

I’m excited as Chris Hedges, Margaret Flowers, Glen Ford, Kevin Zeese, as well as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghan veterans are scheduled to speak. 

I strike up a conversation with a woman who sits on the bench next to me.  Turns out she’s a Vet, but luckily got out in the 90’s, and now travels around the world teaching organic farming.  She just finished walking the Appalachian Trail and is headed to Florida the next day, as the cold is not to her liking.  Can’t say as I blame her, but Florida? 

 I no longer celebrate the Fourth of July or Columbus Day.  I do not wave the flag of hatred, racism or aggression our flag has come to symbolize, but I’m not the only one.

Combat veteran and poet Jenny Pacanowski steps to the microphone and waves her arms in the air.  “I’m a female combat veteran.  Take a good look cause you’ve probably never seen one.”  Jenny explains she rehabilitated herself through art.  She then reads her powerful poem about veterans suicides, “Parade.”  Here’s a section from the poem.

The funeral procession from Syracuse airport to Ithaca NY was over 50 miles long.

Dragging his dead body through town after town of people, families and children waving flags.

The fallen HERO had finally come home.

I wonder how many children who saw this, will someday want to be dead HEROS too.

I did not wave a flag that day or any day since my return.

I live in a dream called my life. Where the good things don’t seem real or sustainable.

I live in the nightmares of the past called Iraq and PTSD that never run out of fuel.

Is it better to be dead hero?

Or a living fucked up, addicted, crazy veteran?”

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges, a hero of mine, a rare man of integrity, intellect, empathy and honor reads from his piece, “The Maimed.”  And irony of irony when Hedges speaks, as if on cue, a large fireworks display begins in the distance.  It sounds like bombs bursting in air, and because he’s been in so many conflicts, he doesn’t even flinch, he just calmly reads.

It is only the maimed that finally know war. And we are the maimed. We are the broken and the lame. We ask for forgiveness. We seek redemption. We carry on our backs this awful cross of death, for the essence of war is death, and the weight of it digs into our shoulders and eats away at our souls. We drag it through life, up hills and down hills, along the roads, into the most intimate recesses of our lives. It never leaves us. Those who know us best know that there is something unspeakable and evil many of us harbor within us. This evil is intimate. It is personal. We do not speak its name. It is the evil of things done and things left undone. It is the evil of war.

Bishop George Packard

Retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard served in Vietnam, and was arrested with Occupy Wall Street, calls these wars a “lethal and toxic absurdly from corporate America” and continues “America has lost it’s conscience.  An entire generation has gone to waste in this insanity.”  

Reverend Eric Johnson, a son of a Veteran talks about the pain and stress of war, and how wars don’t end at 10 p.m.  “We want justice. We are witnesses.  They close the memorial at 10 p.m., but war does not end at 10 p.m. “ He asks, “What do we want?”  And the crowd shouts back, “Justice!”  “What do we stand for today?”  Again we reply, “Justice!”

Sgt. Mika Turner

Then, a handsome young soldier I’d noticed earlier and taken a few photos of speaks and my heart breaks. 

My name is Micah Turner.  I’m 24 years old and I’ve served four combat tours. More soldiers have committed suicide then have been killed in these wars.  One month ago today I deserted my unit and tonight I will turn myself into the military police.  Thank you for letting me speak.

Kevin Zeese from Occupy D.C. emphasizes,  

The empire economy is not working for us or others.  We steal resources and workers in other countries.  These wars are for transnational corporations.  We must 1.  Take the profits out of war and 2.  Live by the rule of law.  Both parties are guilty.  These presidents should be in prison.  We have the right to peaceful assembly.

Dr. Margaret Flowers, a pediatrician who, like many of her colleagues, left the medical profession because it was impossible to deliver high quality health care in this environment, turned activist and proponent of single payer healthcare for all, has been arrested more than once for this worthy cause.  She calls these wars a health crisis and assures us, “This is not the ruling class but the looting class.”  Here’s her powerful open letter to President Obama regarding Single-Payer healthcare. 

You can also watch Dr. Flowers in action as she confronts Wall Street investors trying to profit from health care. 

Another young soldier, Javier Ocasio, tells the story of how he awoke and became involved in anti war activism.  He was suffering from horrible PTSD and was unable to communicate with his young daughter.  His wife would implore him to please spend time with her but he just couldn’t.  And then the unthinkable happened, his daughter died suddenly, and he asked if he could carry her body to the morgue.  He recounts how heavy her lifeless body was, and that’s when he made the connection.  He thought of all the parents in the Middle East who have to carry their dead children’s bodies and miracle of miracles he woke up.

How many more years will we continue these illegal wars of aggression?  How many more innocents have to die in our name?  How many more soldiers have to commit suicide?  How many more souls need to be laid waste?  How many more citizens have to lose their homes, their jobs, go without healthcare?  How many more children have to go hungry?  How many more have to be incarcerated? How many more of our rights have to be taken away?  How many more Gulf oil spills covered up with corexit or Fukushima’s? Where is the outrage as our rights are systematically stripped away as our country is hollowed out from the inside? 

Evil triumphs when good people do nothing.  Americans have allowed, and are colluding with their own demise.  We remain silent just like the German.  We are obedient and compliant.  We merely obey.  We stand mute and docile as they radiate us at airports or pass the NDAA in the dead of night with never so much as a whimper from the brainwashed, non thinking, non questioning consumers who genuflect to the lies and misdeeds of this nation, and instead worship at the cult of illusion.

What will it take for Americans to awaken from their slumber?   


Will We Allow New York to be Fracked too?

Will We Allow New York to be Fracked too?.


Will We Allow New York to be Fracked too?

by Jill Dalton

The woman standing at the podium may seem small and unassuming but don’t be fooled she’s a powerhouse and has a warning to share with the world.  Vera Scroggins is a mother, a grandmother, resident of Susquehanna County, PA and a member of Citizens for Clean Water, a citizen-watch group of volunteers who keep an eye on the gas-drilling process by videotaping and keeping tabs on any problems or concerns.  But today Vera’s in New York City at Saint John the Divine for the Global Frackdown and her message is loud and clear.  “Don’t let them in.” 

 

Ms. Scroggina was born in Germany but her family fled in order to escape the Nazi’s and she speaks out against the horrors of hydrofracking so we can’t, like the Germans, make the excuse, we didn’t know.  She’s here to make sure we don’t make the same mistake and allow hydrofracking in New York.

Yes, there’s something rotten in Susquehanna County and it’s called hydrofracking.  What the heck is hydrofracking anyway?  In a nutshell–it’s a highly toxic method of extracting natural gas from the shale by drilling down through aquifers, then horizontally through the shale and pumping millions of gallons of clean drinking water full of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals and sand.  They then shoot the toxic water into the shale using extreme pressure, which causes small earthquakes, fracturing the shale and releasing the gas.  

Former VP and Halliburton Exec, Dick Cheney’s made sure the gas companies don’t have to divulge any of these toxic chemicals by implementing an energy policy, which conveniently exempted hydrofracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Superfund Act, now referred to as the Halliburton Loophole.  So all this hydrofracking is completely unregulated.

Fracking is currently occurring in 34 states and they plan on selling most of the natural gas overseas where they can get a lot more money for it.  And as luck would have it the Marcellus shale reserves are mainly located in Pennsylvania and upstate New York and now they want to frack New York.

“You’re next!  After several years of devastating many Western states, gas-drilling companies are now descending on the East—especially West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.  They have already leased large areas including the Susquehanna and Delaware River Basins, and are poised to contaminate the water supplies of 41 million people from the states of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.  These drilling companies have already ripped through western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, leaving these areas in ruins.

Once the water and earth are poisoned, there is no going back.  The chemicals used in fracking do not biodegrade.  Worse, there is no known technology to treat or filter the fluid waste.  The small percentage of waste extracted usually ends up re-injected somewhere else, or worse, dumped.  These toxins will be in our soil, water and air, for thousands of years – and all for a short-term energy plan.”  United for Action

This is where Vera comes in.  Ms. Scroggins and her family moved to Susquehanna County about 20 years ago to the “little farm of her dreams” where she could breath clean air and drink clean, fresh well water.  She was perfectly content living her life until one day a friend, who lives in nearby Dimock, called and asked her to come take a look at what was going on because the gas companies wanted to drill. 

Ms. Scroggins elaborates, “Four years ago a gas company drilled in Pennsylvania and they’ve had nothing but violations and problems.  The company said there would be one well but thus far there are 150 and counting within 30 square miles.”

She insists the gas companies lied to the residents telling them they’d be in and out very quickly and just do a little drilling here and there and you’d hardly notice as there’d only be one well with a small pole sticking out above ground that would look sort of like a Christmas tree or a cross. 

The gas companies also promised jobs to the locals but it turns out only 10% of these jobs go to the local residents.  The people, with stars in their eyes, in the hopes of jobs and money, believed and signed.  She acknowledges, “10% of the large landowners will make some money.”

The gas companies also forgot to mention they use fine sand from Wisconsin and people breath this into their lungs.”  She informs us, “This is where your food comes from.  Cows now have rashes and farmers are still milking and selling their products because there are no regulations.”

Her talk is accompanied by slides of these monstrosities encircled by tall-wired fences bearing ominous “Keep Out” signs as a caution to others. 

She goes on, “Four years later there are 150 wells.  One of the companies, Cabot Oil and Gas, has been fined again and again and found guilty of contaminating 18 wells.  They’re been banned from 9 square miles where they’re not allowed to drill or frack.  Cabot was ordered, since the effected families are no longer able to drink their now contaminated water, to bring clean water in on a daily basis.  So the gas company brought in water buffalos, a 1,100 gallon white plastic tank filled with highly chlorinated water.  They also bring in cases of clean water for drinking.

I did some drilling of my own and found this report:  Drillers cited for 3,300 violations in four years.

I also found a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection with a “Notice of Violation” to Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, which sited them for: 

1.  Unpermitted discharge of polluting substances. 

2. Failure to prevent gas from entering fresh ground water. 

3.  Failure to submit well record and completion reports.

4.  Failure to submit plugging certificate among other things.

And if all this isn’t bad enough, the cement casings used to keep the toxic water in place leak and this poisonous water travels and seeps into other waterways and into people’s wells.  Vera assures us, “Not everyone has this issue but your water starts to change–it turns gray.  Then the water from the faucet spurts as gas comes out of the tap.”

She goes on to explain, “The gas companies have been fined for defective casings and spills.  The fracking wells aren’t safe and contaminate the water and land, and pollute the air when flaring occurs.  Flaring is the fire that burns gas at the end of fracking.  It sounds like JFK airport 24/7.  Three hundred trucks a day coming and going.  This also emits voc’s and formaldehyde. 

 “Don’t let them in,” she implores us. 

 “Look at what is happening to us.  It goes on for a year or more.  They do 1-5 wells on each site.  They frack it.  Flare it and it sounds like a jet plane.  300 ft. from homes.  Noise, lights, smells, dust, traffic, emissions.  Once they’re done they have to fill in the pipelines.  Dig up 100 ft. swatches through the valleys, creek beds and wells, Pipelines.  Then they need compressor stations to compress the gas, dehydrate it and push it through quickly.  It’s only 21 miles to New York.  We asked how many will you need (compressor stations)?  None.  Now there are 4 of them.  Noise 24/7 and emissions.  Tons of emissions are allowed each year, benzenes, all the gasses, sulfa, formaldide, etc.  They are building one every 2-4 miles. 

The gas companies claim they do everything within the law.  Maybe these regulations are not adequate.  We need to relook at these regulations.  They put wells on school properties.  Do you want this near your children and your schools?  Constant machinery hum and . . .

I’ve come to warn you,” she continues.  “Come look at it.”  Vera gives regular tours of the sites to show media and officials from all over the country, state and world what is happening to her state and our country and she invites us all to a tour she’s holding on October 20th and advises us to bring Governor Cuomo along so he can see what’s going on as well.

Susquehanna County has become just another sacrifice zone for the fossil fuel industry.  Fracking is a short-term solution for a long-term problem based on huge profits for the fossil fuel industry. These fossil fuel companies have no conscience, no morals and care about nothing but their profits and now they want to frack in New York and Governor Cuomo is ready to allow this. 

The New York City water shed has the largest unfiltered drinking water supply in the world and serves 16 million people.  There could be 50,000 wells in the New York water basin alone.  The only energy independence is renewal energy.  We have the technology to transition into clean energy.  So why don’t we?  Our legislators are too busy being bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry and fracking is another big give away for the fossil fuel industry at the expense of our clean drinking water, our natural environment and our health.

Vera beseeches us, “Stand fast.  No state in the union has resisted this long.  The gas companies are exempt from all laws for clean water and clean air.  Four years you’ve kept them out.  I’m impressed.  No other state has done this.  Continue to do this.  Because once you let them in you can’t get them out.”

We’ve been warned.   

Will we allow New York to become just another sacrifice zone so the fossil fuel industry can pollute our water, contaminate our land and frack billions in profits?

It’s up to us to ban fracking.  It can be done.  It’s been banned in France and Vermont.  Not much but it’s a start.

We must keep the pressure on. 

 Here’s what we can do.

According to United for Action.  (www.unitedforaction.org

Contact your legislators.

Call the White House (202) 456-1111

Contact your Senators:  (www.senate.gov)

Contact your members of Congress:  (www.house.gov)

Tell them: 

1.  Close the “Halliburton Loophole”

2.  Stop subsidizing the very profitable gas industry and oppose bills which call for switching trucks and cars to natural gas and

3.  Stop fooling with fossil fuels and start investing in sustainable and renewable energy to create green jobs.  CLEAN ENERGY NOW!

 

Call Governor Cuomo (518) 474-8390

Contact your NY State Senator (www.nysenate.gov)

Contact your NY State Assembly person (www.assembly.state.ny.us)

Tell them: 

1.    Ban hydrofracking

2.    Start investing in sustainable and renewable energy to create green jobs now.

 

Get more involved.

United for Action (www.unitedforaction.org)

NYC Friends of Clearwater (www.nycfriendsofclearwater.org)  212.307.7447

Food & Water Watch (www.FoodandWaterWatch.org)  718.943.8064 or email crosen@fwwatch.org

The Mothers Project (www.MothersforSustainableEnergy.com)

Sane Energy Project (wwwSaneEnergyProject.org) contact@saneenergyproject.org

Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline: (www.carpny.org)  carp4073@gmail.com

Environment New York (www.EnvironmentNewYork.org)

 

Attend a rally.

WHAT: Rally to Ban Fracking! 


WHY: Tell Governor Cuomo: There is no safe fracking! 


WHEN: Tuesday, October 9 
TIME: 12:30 pm 


WHERE: Office of Governor Cuomo 


ADDRESS: 633 Third Avenue, NYC @ 40th

 

Get more informed.

Watch the Oscar nominated documentary, “GasLand,” by Josh Fox available on Netflix or learn more about the film.

Watch the interview with Josh Fox on PBS

Watch “The Sky is Pink” by Josh Fox and the GasLand team. 

Go here for a great diagram featuring Hydraulic Fracturing and how it works. 

Here’s a more detailed explanation on hydrofracking from the Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation. 

Vera Scroggins videos are available on youtube.com under “veraduerga.”  

Vera gives a talk on hydrofracking.

 


Announcing “Is It Fascism Yet?” on Amazon.com

This sample was published on OpEdNews on September 29, 2012.

I’m proud to announce my first eBook, Is It Fascism Yet?, has been published on amazon.com.

 

Is It Fascism Yet? is a collection of blogs I wrote beginning in January 2011 to shed some light and try to understand the dangerous changes this country is undergoing. I’ve revised and updated the blogs and included over 70 photographs, which I took while attending Occupy Wall Street rallies and other recent demonstrations as well as 21 powerful images by the insightful political satirist, Tracy Knauss.  My articles have been published on: Dandelion Salad, OpEdNews, Reader Supported News, Progressive Activist Voice and NationofChange and several made it to the #1 position.

My blogs incorporate, among other things, the ever growing threat of fascism in our country, our illegal unjust wars, the military industrial complex, the corporate coup, the right wing agenda and the collusion of the corporate media, the dismantling of our rights and the Constitution, the Democrat’s and Obama’s capitulation to the right, the so-called debt crisis, the shock doctrine, Wall Street and the too big to fail banks, the Occupy movement and police brutality and Occupy Wall Street to name a few.

When I was about 11 years old my father, a highly decorated Colonel in the U.S. Army who fought in three wars: WWII under Patton, Korea and Vietnam, took me to Washington, DC to the Lincoln Memorial where he read the Gettysburg Address off the walls to me. “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” These powerful words fell from his lips into my heart.

My father had a deep abiding love for this country and he instilled that love in me. Although we were estranged for many years due to our opposing political views over the Vietnam War, I’ve come to understand we were both fighting for the same things just from a different perspective.

My writing’s are also a call to action. We must all stand up to the corporate forces of darkness that threaten our very existence and say, “Enough! No more! Not on my watch!”  We are one and together we can ignite change. We deserve to live in a clean, healthy, peaceful world but it is up to us to make this happen.

“But remember, this power of the people on top depends on the people below. When people stop obeying, they have no power.” Howard Zinn

Here’s an excerpt from the book.  Enjoy!

IS IT FASCISM YET?

Blog originally published January 28, 2011

OWS, Times Square, NYC

Recently, I boarded the C train in New York City where I encountered a woman who looked to be in her late 70’s sitting on the subway bench wearing a t-shirt which read: IS IT FASCISM YET? That really got me to thinking.

 Okay, granted maybe I’m hyper sensitive because I’m an Army brat who went to high school in Germany.  Or maybe it’s because my father was a highly decorated Colonel in the United States Army who fought in Patton’s 3rd Army in WWII, Korea and Vietnam to protect our democracy. Or perhaps it’s my interest in history.  I’m currently reading “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” Whatever the reason, let me assure you this is difficult for me to say, but I’m beginning to think America’s starting to look more and more like a (gulp) fascist state.

But before we freak out and jump to any conclusions, let’s take a deeper look, shall we?  Fascism is defined as “a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy.”  

Sound familiar?  

In early 2010, the Supreme Court passed by a vote of 5 to 4 the “Citizens United” case, giving corporations (including those with foreign interests) the same rights as individuals (personhood).  This ruling allows corporations to contribute unlimited money to political campaigns without having to disclose anything.   Or how about the Wall Street bailouts where our taxpayer dollars were given away to the very people who gambled, lost billions and sunk the global economy.

“Corporate Socialism” anyone?

And now we have more tax cuts for the rich, while millions of ordinary citizens lose their homes, their jobs and their futures. America’s income/wealth inequities are at the greatest level in our history and comparable to those in many Third World nations. It was recently shown we’re worse than Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen as evaluated by our own CIA!  

Let’s keep going, shall we?

Fascism is normally described as being on the far right but there’s a scholarly consensus that fascism was also influenced by the far left but with a “focus” on solutions from the right.  Sorry folks but that sounds exactly like what’s going on in our country today.  I voted for candidate Obama because I believed he was antiwar (even though he said he would escalate the war in Afghanistan).  I know what was I thinking.  To me he appeared to believe in many of the same American principles I do.  These include a safety net for the less fortunate, healthcare as a basic human right, good jobs, education as the key to creating a better life, clean energy, etc.  You get the gist and, yet, at every turn President Obama’s capitulated to the right and the corporations, appearing to drop his original ideals before there’s so much as one real negotiation.  

It’s the Obama shuffle.  Speak to the left and step to the right.  Don’t listen to what he says, he talks a good game, watch what he does. 

During healthcare reform considerations, the public option was taken off the table early and without that option there’s no way to curtail our out of control insurance costs. And the private meetings with big Pharma made sure we can’t negotiate for better drug prices. We lost the battle for cost effective universal healthcare almost before it began. 

Should we panic yet?

To be fair, there was “Wall Street Reform” which contained a significant provision for consumer protection.  And in order to avoid a Senate confirmation, the President appointed in the interim, Elizabeth Warren, a champion for consumer affairs and the Middle Class. Unfortunately, no one’s seen or heard hide nor hair from her since. My suspicion’s she’s been relegated to a broom closet somewhere in the White House.  (Actually she’s currently running for U.S. Senate (D-MA) and can be reached at ElizabethWarren.com.) 

There’s clearly not a “Too Big to Fail” provision enforceable in the bill. In fact, the recent findings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission shows the concentration of financial assets in the largest commercial and investment banks is significantly higher today than it was in the run-up to the crisis. But no matter, the banks go fiddle de de as they continue doling out huge bonuses to their insatiable, reckless, self-serving executives.

Image by Tracy Knauss

So I ask you who is in charge here?  Certainly not “we the people.”

We the people did not ask for these bank bailouts and certainly not our foreign wars.   We the people want peace, the public option and accountability but nobody is listening to us.  No one’s been prosecuted for starting these unjust wars or stealing all of our money.  

Why?  

Because our elected officials don’t have to answer to us anymore.  We have a government, which is “the best money can buy.”  The politicians now get the bulk of their campaign money from Wall Street, billionaires like the Koch brothers and big corporations so if our politicians don’t play by their rules they don’t get their money, and the person who has the most money or the greatest access to money wins. 

Capish?

Fascist governments also forbid and suppress opposition to the fascist state and any movement that opposes it, i.e. Bradley Manning, Julian Assange.  (And Occupy Wall Street)  Fascist governments identify violence and war as actions that create national regeneration, spirit and vitality. They create lies, which are repeated endlessly and call their opponents uncivil.  Endless wars are promoted and supported and they manufacture and use terms like “exceptionalism” or superiority to other nations or groups of individuals all the while pretending to have a license on truth. 

America has the largest military budget in the world, larger than all the other countries in the world combined.  America’s largest exports are war and weapons.  We glorify violence on television and film and in our daily lives and we allow any nut job with ready cash to purchase a semi automatic weapon with extra large clips of ammo, by screaming Second Amendment rights and are then shocked and appalled when these guns are used to perpetuate violence. 

This is utter madness, folks, stark raving insanity.

Now all good fascist regimes need enemies: blacks, Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims, Christians, Jews, almost anyone will do.  Bush and Cheney claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (particularly nuclear and biological) and when that turned out to be a big fat lie, no problem, they just repackaged it like the next new and improved laundry detergent.  And when the Bush brand finally collapsed under the weight of their lies and deceit they were merely replaced and repackaged into Obama’s Just War or the “real war” in Afghanistan. Or is that now Pakistan?  How about Yemen, Somalia or Iran?

And now we have Obama’s “kill list” whereby so-called terrorist are assassinated by missiles being fired from unmanned drones around the world.   

Feeling safe yet?

And the corporately owned media gleefully jumps on the bandwagon and doles out the necessary fear and misinformation–falling in goosestep behind the latest corporate spin.

Me & Pam @ OWS Rally

 Remember how the Bush Administration so skillfully used yellow, orange and red alerts to keep us all upset and fearful so they could have their way with us like some sexual predator grooming us to come in for the kill?  Well, they learned that tactic from the Russians.  In the 50’s the Russians successfully used their alert system to keep their citizens in line and compliant with their wishes so why not use it here in America?  They did and it worked.  If you can keep people afraid they’ll do almost anything.  Fear is a powerful motivator especially when it is not understood.  Our brains do not function properly when we are afraid.  We can’t think.

Personally, I know all this “war on terror” stuff is just a distraction to keep us afraid so we don’t see what’s really going on in this country, which is the largest heist in the history of the world.  All our money’s being siphoned off to the .1%.  So pay no attention to the bankers behind the curtain because the terrorists are lurking around every corner, behind every bush and under every bed.  The message is clear.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

For the most part our media is corporately owned and operated. The News Corp headed by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, who created Fox News, undoubtedly the best example, has become a mouthpiece for the right wing, Tea Party/Republican Party. This network spews out their corporate driven ideology based on white male supremacist rhetoric, laced with vile hatred of the other, (Muslim now equals terrorist) filled with racism and fear mongering from death panels to the Ground Zero Mosque, topped with out and out stupidity.   Their head cheerleaders (propagandists) pose as news people:  Beck (finally let go after a huge grass roots campaign), O’Reilly, Hannity and Palin, et al shovel lies and misinformation with their poisonous personalities for their corporate puppet masters, all the while shuckin’ and jivin’ for the almighty dollar.  And then there is that illiterate “big fat idiot” (Re: Al Franken’s book), Rush Limbaugh regurgitates his version of hatred from right wing radio land.

With the growth of the Internet, a few media outlets have maintained some independence and resisted corporate control: Democracy Now!, Thom Hartmann, Media Matters, Truthdig, Truthout, OpEd News, Dandelion Salad, Reader Supported News, Common Dreams, and AlterNet to name a few.  Some in our government have also maintained a contrary opinion to the corporate control such as Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, Kucinich, Feingold and Grayson (both were not reelected), Nadler (D-NY) and a few others.

So is it fascism yet?

Sitting on the subway that belligerent announcement, directly from the pages of “1984,” came barreling over the loud speaker informing me, “We have the right to search your bags at any time and blah, blah, blah.”  I stood up, as it was my stop anyway, and said in a loud voice,  ”F-you and your fascist bulls&*t!” or something to that effect and the two, middle aged, white business guys sitting across from me just stared at me blankly like I was the crazy one; which at that moment I probably was.

Is this what our democratic Republic has become?  Why are we Americans so willing to give our rights away by not protesting against things like the Patriot Act or torture of every one declared an “enemy combatant?”  Our surveillance systems have now proliferated faster than bunny rabbits before Easter.  Our corporate state can now spy on us anytime/ anywhere.  They can search your bags, pat you down, arrest you, and detain you without legal recourse. They can tap your phones and inspect your Internet email.  Are you kidding me? My father who fought in three wars must be turning over in his grave.

OWS, Times Square, NYC

 

And here’s the worst part.  It’s our fault.  We the people have allowed this to happen.  We’ve been living in a fools’ paradise, in denial, keeping our noses stuck in our iPhones, iPads, iPods or whatever the latest electronic gadget is. We’re pretending nothing is going on, secretly hoping someone will save us.

Well, guess what?  That ain’t happening. No one’s going to save us.  We must save ourselves.  Jefferson said, “If you do not fight for your freedoms they will be taken from you.”  And guess what? They have and are.  Our constitution is being systematically dismantled, our money squandered on endless wars, Wall Street thieves and tax breaks for millionaires.  Call me crazy.  Call me Cassandra but it is up to us.  It is our choice.  Will we continue to collude with the dark forces of the elites and corporate power for our demise or will we realign with our higher selves and remember who we are?  

We must choose love over fear and we must awaken and rise up against the forces of darkness.  We must stand for the good of humankind and with mother earth.  We must stand in our truth and we must act.  Denial and dysfunction do not work.  We have given our power away and it’s time to take it back.  We are here to make the world a better place for others.  This is our mission should we decide to accept it.
 Ignore it at your own peril. 

End of sample.

 I hope you enjoy the book and share widely.  The book can be purchased by clicking here.

Thanks so much.  Oh, the SOLD OUT sign on the cover refers to the U.S. not the book. 

Another world is possible.