Long time member and steadily occasional poster here, who has decided to spill his proverbial and rhetorical guts via my first diary, in hopes of focusing the lens.......
Bottom line if you want it short: No more sitting on the bench. It's time for me to step ON THE FIELD.
I think I've finally had my "Howard Beale" moment. This is the point when everything crystallizes in the mind from a lifetime of experience and acquired knowledge, bringing oneself to a point that I am truly mad as hell - and I'm not going to take it anymore.
But it's more than that. It's the realization that if I want to live a basic simple, yet good quality of life - where I can earn a modest and honest living, free from worry of being taken under from medical bills, and a basic standard of retirement in dignity, I cannot take it anymore. It's a matter of survival.
More below the logo.......
I have grown to live my life in a politically informed way. That didn't come overnight - it was a long process. My high school experience was basic but good experience, but not anything that really connected politically. It was, however, a solid education where all of the basic skills were well learned, and while there were a few less than inspiring teachers in the bunch, there were many more who had more than textbooks to teach. Values. Had two of the best musical directors a school of 600 could ask for - good enough to build a mini-empire of State Championships and runners up for decades. And the idea that it was best to go to college, and even for a small town school there were teachers who could get you there.
So off I went, enduring a rough first year - but I endured it and still came out with a 3. average. It was a learning experience, as it is for most, of a different sort. Tough courses, long schedules, and an exposure to a host of inputs shielded for years of living in a smaller town. It was also running into a fraternity full of Deadheads, and being exposed to a film titled "Network". Metaphorically speaking it was a dose of real information which functioned as "letting the nose of the camel of truth into the tent." I didn't really get it then, but it told me that things aren't really what they seem.
Even my time seeing Dead concerts in the summer, commiserating with a different crowd but many like my friends in college, was a bit "furthur" progress in the camel's getting it's head in the tent. While I enjoyed the "vibe", I really didn't understand much of the complaints these people had, at least with their particular "frame". But I learned some other ideas that were pretty universal immediately: Clean up after yourself - don't trash the planet (it's someone else's backyard), and treat others lie you would want to be treated - be good to each other. The music was truly a unifying experience too, filled with life stories and celebrations of life. I didn't fully understand it, but I knew it was good. NOTHING like I listened to in high school.
I also got a thorough dose of Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, early Genesis, Yes, The Who (holdover from high school), The Stones, The Beatles all over again, XTC, King Crimson, The Allman Brothers.....and that's a simple short list. Add a couple of Hunter S. Thompson books - Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas for openers, and you can see how one's worldview can be altered markedly.
That opened my eyes in a general sense as to who St. Ronnie really was - and further conversations with people about his time as California governor (what he did with the education system being particularly noteworthy) was something that really stuck with me. My parents divorced after freshman summer in college, leaving me with a bumch more of the bill. The borrowing ceased after Soph year - the sheer size of the principal on the loan was enough to take pause, especially with not much help coming from parents (one couldn't, one wouldn't). So I took a number of classes at community college, mostly because I could pay as I went and figured it best to keep learning - even if only a product of my natural curiosity.
I took a job at a suburban electronics retailer, which was a somewhat entertaining and interesting job, especially being an electronics geek. But it also had it's bad side - the side of the corporation. As the industry got more and more competitive, it became harder and harder to make a living - sans selling extended warranties, the "tail that wags the electronics dog". Decreasing commissions, higher pressure sales techniques with managers breathing over your shoulder demanding coached and canned introductions to customers, fired managers and employees - all culminating with Gulf War I and the Bush recession. Came to work greeted by chain-locked doors with no advance warning - although we all knew things weren't good. The Bush recession killed us.
"Welcome to trickle-down".
I relocated to the region where I was born, landing a job with a casino. I was a bit of a numbers guy, and casinos were a growing industry. Other jobs existed, but it seemed that living wages were scant. So I chose a job in a business that I figured had a future, given the increasing proliferation of gaming in America. Working in it allowed me to see the seamy side - an industry largely made of smoke and mirrors preying on people not good at math. I was good at it - very good and told so by many top security people from national experts who visited - but I could not "unsee" the destruction it causes, and the drug-like illusions it fosters. So I left the biz willingly after seven years.
I ended up settling into the restaurant business, as did my wife who worked a number of years in it, having two benefits: A business where you can get ahead of the curve from now lower working class wages, and the idea that people are happy when you feed them. We are members of the 53% who DO pay federal taxes, claiming all of our tips the way we live our lives: honestly.
We were always voting democrats, but didn't do much else besides go to the booth on a regular basis. I knew well from my grandmother about the Democratic party and FDR - she had FDR's picture and told stories of the Great Depression. But mostly I just voted.
When we married, we decided not to have children, the economics of St. Ronnie and the years after being enough to convince us that working class is no way to have kids. In a large way our choice to be working class is by choice - we seek to be detached as much as possible from iron-fisted corporate control, having lived the effects personally: corporate/organizational corruption, lower and lower wages and benefits, and a near fascistic regimen and control of the worker to a point where it felt like they OWNED us. We had no union. And more and more around me who worked for these corporate places seemed less and less happy. When we asked around, most everyone hated their jobs. Some were more fortunate - those jobs were the hardest to get, regardless of pay level. So we decided to "get fixed", myself offering to go to the doc and get the necessary and permanent form of birth control - a vasectomy.
We even gave "the clipping" a name: "The Ronald Reagan Memorial Vasectomy". Told the story to the doc while he did the necessary work.
Then I got a broadband connection. That allowed me to fill in the holes in all those suspicions I had. I had an internet connection for a few years and didn't start down the rabbit hole until I read "Rebuilding America's Defenses" by The Project For A New American Century. It was "The Red Pill", force fed, direct from the horse's mouths, the implications which lie on our doorstep right now.
To borrow a theme from O. A. "Bum" Phillips, the old Houston Oilers football coach - PNAC is back and they aren't just knocking on the door - they aren't just pounding on the door - they want to kick the sonofabitch IN.
I spent a decade reading as much as I reasonably had time for, from about every point of view imaginable. I wanted to challenge my own thought in the process, reading from all areas of the spectrum. I read a number of finance blogs, as wide ranging as possible, from the libertarian/Austrians to the keynesians and whatever other ideas are out there, in hopes of understanding the whole map. I probably read more than 6 years worth of college. Then I got into watching YouTube, which offers the use of video to express an idea, and to pull all of those old TV shows, news clips, and other video back out in the open....and more recently the modern documentary.
I wanted to "catapult the propaganda" in my own mind - to be sure which way to PUSH.
While I have delved into just about every conspiracy theory that's out there of any significance, I, being raised as a democrat, am a member by default of the "reality based community", which has in it a strong streak of skepticism. But I don't like to leave any stone unturned, and sought every angle possible when looking at this "thing".
In addition to Chalmers Johnson, Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, good ol' Hunter S, and a host of various renditions on history (and this is just a small sample), it's my own common sense that brings me back to some basic truths. They are too numerous to articulate completely - but I'll give a shorter list here. to put it bluntly -
WE'RE IN A LOT OF TROUBLE!
Paddy Chayefsky had it right, some 38 years ago. How visionary:
Except Arthur Jensen lied about one thing: All necessities will NOT be provided - you will have to pay for them - and for that you'll be on your own, unless you want to work for "The Company Store". That is if they will even ALLOW YOU to work for The Company Store. And even then it won't be much. More for them - less for YOU.
That dream is almost complete. At our expense. FDR's economic vision is close to being pushed off a cliff. As George Carlin said, "They are coming for your Social Security money - they want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street." And they are coming for your medicine. Your 401K. Future education. The public good. And through more wars - our lives. They will take it all, if we let them.
And the best tool to finish their sick dream could be less than four weeks from winning the White House. Nominee Gordon Gekko, a modern day Arthur Jensen, all dressed up pretty for the cameras, convincingly lying through his teeth to the unsuspecting newcomer viewer, hoping he can get away with this for five weeks.
It is up to us to make sure that does not happen.
Let me tell you - my wife and I had it GOOD up until now - we've managed to avoid the array of corporate built black holes and make it pretty good on our own. Took a while to get on a level but figured out how to get the basics. Took a number of "dings" but figured out my way through it. I was reasonably well educated enough to take advantage of my curiosity. I'm a 53%er who is managing to stay above water, but can see the sea of black holes getting bigger and bigger. I see a lot of people getting "beat up" by all of this.
I am a believer in doing what can be done outside the political system. I think the basic essence of occupy was correct. Sure it had problems, but this is LONG GAME. People will learn from this. Look at the current Wal-Mart protests. They understand the source of the corruption - it's a start. See also: BAINPORT. Next stop - THE MEDIA. I also am very activist in where I spend my $$$. I have a "banned list" - a list of companies and regions - even whole states - that I avoid doing business with. You know the list of suspects - and this election season, even more get added to the list by the day. Every dollar I spend is a VOTE. I don't fund companies that use those $$$ against us.
But we also must work INSIDE the political system. If anyone we know isn't voting, we have to change that. Get more and better Democrats elected. Look what happened with the low turnout in 2000 - Bush got in with such a paltry vote of the eligible electorate, that cannot happen again.
We have NO time to allow the less than perfect to be the enemy of the good. We are running OUT OF TIME. The sharks want to take away SS, Medicare, Medicaid, your pension/401K and your rights, be they LGBT, women's, minority.....and whatever else they can take. Including your dignity. And mine. In a capitalist society, if they take all of your money, and everything costs money, your rights won't mean much anyway. They want BainAmerica - the Ecumenical Holding Company - The World's Largest Company Store.
And they want domination of the SUPREME COURT.
As FDR once said, "You have to make us do it". We have NO chance of the GOP getting made to do anything for us. But we have a chance with dems in many areas...if we push them hard enough AFTER the election and be active and organized on our own we CAN make them do it. We have to think long game here, too.
It took the conservative movement YEARS to make their near dream come true. We have a lot of work to do. But if we want to have a chance to push this back in the other direction, we have to do this RIGHT NOW. As The President has said, we are being asked to take the difficult yet worthwhile path to a better future. We have to do what we can.
We have all the information. We KNOW what is at stake. We know the media is owned by the same people who own most everything else, so don't expect ANY help from them right now. Sure, make our case and hammer them with truthmail when time permits - but we gotta do this the old fashioned way: LOCAL AND PERSONAL, as well as electronic.
"GO TO OURSELVES."
It's all about making phone calls and web to friends, family, anyone you can reach. And for the first time, I am going to do phonebanking and GOTV with local Obama volunteers to get started from that end. I have already been calling all of the locals and friends getting them registered, and verifying registrations ahead of the last registration day. My wife has done the same, and we are getting results. Obama For America has a helluva GOTV machine - but we need to max it out and get more and good dems like Elizabeth Warren and others in there on the coattails, and get rid of the crazies. And then after we win the election, we will commence the "making them do it" part. But if we don't win, we won't get the chance. It might be our last chance in a long, long time.
The camel's head is in the tent. And that camel is now morphed into a giant wild beast, having tried to take my wallet and filet me alive. I don't have time to be mad anymore. I don't have time to be distracted by poll-O-mania anymore. We don't have time to freak out.
We only have time to get EVEN. But I - and we - don't have very much time.
So let's do this.