Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wall Street "Occupation" Starting Today

Taking their cue from the sidewalk sleepover protest this summer known as "Bloombergville",  thousands of demonstrators are expected to converge in the financial district today for some free-floating street theater in what is being called the Occupation of Wall Street.  It's the latest in a whole series of protests against budget cuts and financial malfeasance -- but this time, the event is getting the attention of the mainstream media.



Do you suppose it's because the whole Arab Spring phenonemon now holds a certain trendy allure for the corporate journalists?  The first Wall Street "Day of Rage" last March sponsored by New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts only got mentioned in a few independent blogs and Al Jazeera, even though it attracted thousands of people.  This time, the anti-consumerism magazine "AdBusters" was doing the (loose) organizing and perhaps is savvier at publicity and use of social media to get the message out... via Twitter and Facebook.

All indications are that this day of leaderless, mellow musical rage will be similar to previous demonstrations, but some media (especially right wing media) are forecasting a Marxist bloodbath.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg was on the radio warning that the high youth unemployment rate could lead to riots in the streets -- though he didn't really specify his streets, on this particular day.

The culmination of today's events will be a 3 p.m. rally at Chase Square. According to the website OccupyWallSt, the NYPD is expecting total crowds of about 5000. Participants hope the protests last until December, or at least through Monday, when President Obama is due in town to speak to the U.N. (and raise some bundled Wall Street cash).*

This summer's peaceful encampment ended after a few weeks with the arrests of what were called "The Bloombergville 13" on charges of obstructing traffic.  In New York City, it is legal to sleep on the sidewalks as long as you only take up half the walkway so as not to trip up pedestrians. And despite what the poster above advises, tents are supposedly illegal within the city limits. If you come, bundle up.  The nights are getting nippy in the concrete and steel canyon.



Wall Street Day of Rage, March 2011 (it was peaceful)

* Update: Live feeds and tweets can be found here.http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Democratic strategists predicted their party’s 2008 landslide win would usher in a generation of political dominance. Obamanomics, essentially, would divert taxpayer dollars to the Green Lobby – and then into the campaign coffers of the Democratic Party. This is what CRONY CAPITALISM is really all about: politicians enriching favored businesses, who then return the favor. Or maybe it’s the other way around, Who cares, really. It’s an endless, profitable loop for both.

Valerie said...

You've got to marvel at the human spirit. Good for these protesters, I suppose they take heart in knowing they aren't alone in their desire to fight injustice. I certainly give them credit for taking part in their democracy and not just rolling over and taking another kick.

Personally, I am glad these protests are getting any media coverage at all considering the Main Stream Media's pechant for only conveying the news that benefits the Corporate Oligarchy. Good for AdBusters for using their media savy skills to get the word out.

Anonymous said...

What did the Wall Street Day of Rage, March 2011 actually accomplish? I seemed to have missed it for some reason.

What does this Wall Street "Occupation" hope to accomplish? Somehow shame Wall Street into better behavior?

Anne Lavoie said...

CBS news is covering this online. I was surprised to read that the protesters are asking for Obama to set up a commission as their solution. Suppose his Ratfink Brigade (thanks Valerie) has gotten to them already? So if he sets up a commission they disband? I hope they are a lot more serious than that, but it's a start.

I would refer anyone interested to Gene Sharp's writings and the website http://www.aeinstein.org/

Sharp is the foremost authority on nonviolent protest. He warns against being compromised by settling for some minor issue and has a host of valuable suggestions/strategies.

Yay! Finally the national news media looks like they might give this the attention it deserves. I'll have to wait to see if it is on the evening news. I'm in Mountain Time.

mac gordon said...

I had hoped this 'Day of Occupation' would finally attract some decent media attention.
The NYT finally gave the event some 'marginal' press.
Unfortunately, it appears Wall St. was well 'protected' by metal barriers, and a strong police presence. So not that much impact, as people couldn't get near enough to occupy The Street.
I guess we haven't quite got the hang of demonstrating yet. But, as people get more deprived, and more desperate, I'm sure we will!

Denis Neville said...

Whack-a-Mole!

While Wall Street is being “occupied” and Obama is collecting that bundled Wall Street cash…

Yet another Obama broken promise about transparency and a very troubling pattern of threatening reporters and freedom of the press and the public’s right to know.

Duff Wilson in NY Times, “Obama Administration Removes Doctor Disciplinary Files from the Web,”

http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/obama-administration-yanks-doctor-disciplinary-files-off-the-web/?ref=health

Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, threatens a Kansas City Star reporter:

http://media.kansascity.com/smedia/2011/09/13/18/27/4IvBI.So.81.pdf

Three journalism organizations protested the decision:

http://www.healthjournalism.org/uploads/NPDB_HRSA.pdf

http://www.healthjournalism.org/uploads/NPDB_HRSA.pdf

“Maybe the greatest madness is to see life as it is rather than what it could be.” - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Karen Garcia said...

@Denis,
The 0 Administration must have removed the doctor disciplinary files from the web to save 99 cents in its anti-wasteful website campaign. You can still find bad docs by individual state, though.
The 0 White House is starting to sound paranoid in a very creepy Nixonian kind of way.
And re the Wall Street protests... you think it's a coincidence Obama announced his millionaire tax on a Saturday night after a day of Wall Street protests? If this is a cause-effect, bring on more protests!

n1ck said...

Protests are nice, but if people are unwilling to vote, none of it matters.

Anne Lavoie said...

@n1ck

I think you have it backwards. If we have learned anything after the last election, it is that our vote means nothing because Congress and the President do not serve the people's interests. Protests are the only real source of power now.

That's the only good outcome of Obama's betrayal - we longer mistakenly believe the problems stem solely from the Republicans, although there are still diehard loyal Democrats who still cling to that canard. It serves Party leaders' interests to keep us from seeing the truth.

The reality is that both parties have sold themselves to the highest bidder, like high priced whores, or maybe pimps, since we are the ones getting f**ked.

William said...

Just some random thoughts on a lazy Sunday:

Obamabots seem to be coming out of the woodwork lately. Whether it's literally their job or they're just naturally obtuse, the apologists will never get a free pass when they post here. All they'll get from Karen and responsible posters like Anne, Jay, Valerie and Denis is the unvarnished truth. Let's continue to tell it like it is and "hope" some real "change" is the end result.

Michael Stivic said...

Karen, Count me in on the march!

Valerie said...

I know what you mean, @William. Lately there have been many more comments on the blogs making excuses for Obama - saying he is doing his best with the bad hand he was given. And lots of anger on the part of many Obama apologists toward Progressives who won't let up on the criticism.

No doubt about it - Obama was given a lousy hand. And no doubt about it, he has the Blue Dogs along with the Corporate Republicans and the crazy Tea Party leadership to deal with. Any of us, in his position, would be equally ineffective.

But THAT is just my point; we don't elect ordinary people to the most important job in the country. We elect what he hope are extraordinary people - exceptional people - because the top job IS HARD and it requires intelligence, wisdom, great communication skills and knowing when to be tough and when to compromise. Presidents need to have nerves of steel and an innate ability to read people (especially your political enemies) correctly because that will determine whether or not the President can effectively lead. The President of the United States, who has an opportunity to go down in history - something none of us will ever be able to do - needs to be up to the job. I am not saying anyone in the Republican Party is up to the top job; I am simply questioning whether our guy is up to the top job either.

We don’t have a lot of power at our disposal to force our Representatives to look out for our interests once they are in office. We can peacefully demonstrate and the most courageous among us can even commit acts of civil disobedience. We can keep ourselves and others informed about what is really going on behind the curtain. We have the power to organise ourselves as a group – a political entity – and we have the power over our vote. Progressives, especially the Liberal Intelligencia, are great at keeping themselves and others informed - and sometimes will even peacefully demonstrate. But what we resist doing is organising ourselves a political entity and fighting with the only real weapon at our disposal, our vote. We seem to lack the courage to do the scary bit – the part where we stand our ground, stare down our political enemies and refuse to blink.

I hear a lot of talk about Obama needing to get a backbone. Well, I challenge Progressives to get a backbone too. Stop settling for crumbs! The Plutocracy that has “the bit between their teeth” only sees that as weakness and will continue to throw us fewer and fewer crumbs.

Anne Lavoie said...

@William

Yes, lots of Obamabots are coming out of the woodwork, or workshops. I think they are being paid by Obama. That's his idea of a jobs program, helping him get re-elected.

Obamabots should have watched BookTV on CSpan2 today where the authors of 'Reckless Endangerment' were discussing their book and answering questions.

The authors couldn't have been any clearer about how our government operates and for whose benefit. Hint - it isn't us. If anyone has any doubts after watching that or reading their book, they would have to be brain dead, or to put it in William's more charitable terms 'naturally obtuse'.

We are up against a mighty force that controls our government. The financial debacle just served to bring it to our attention, but unfortunately, there is a collusion by both parties to sweep it under the rug on behalf of those they serve. It's like a big criminal cabal. Someone should look into RICO charges against Congress and the President and dissolve the entire government.

Obama doesn't lack a backbone. He is part of the problem. No investigations. No prosecutions. No excuses even. Obama is silent about his savvy businessmen friends.

Worse yet, the very people who helped create this mess have been promoted into the highest levels of government, handpicked and brought into the fold by none other than President Barack Obama himself. Talk about AUDACITY.

Oh, but he's doing his best! He sure is - for the corrupt power elite who helped him get to where he is, and he hopes will get him a second term as well.

My God, even Sarah Palin gets Crony Capitalism, but people actually think Obama doesn't, as if he's clueless as well as weak? Give me a break. That's another excuse - he doesn't get the big picture. If they think he is that stupid, it says more about them than him.

(Oh, oh, Mother Superior might come swooping down on me for this one.)

Sister Mary Mean said...

@Anne,
That will be one Hail Mary and a rap on the knuckles with my cast iron rosary beads. Now go beg Saint O for forgiveness by reporting thyself to the OFA Reporting Site, pronto!!! Your reconditioning will commence forthwith by the PragProg Society at BamBoozlement Central.

Anne Lavoie said...

@Sister Mary Mean

Thanks for the laughs! And bless you and the horse you rode in on.

Neil Gillespie said...

@ Anne Lavoie

Agreed, the 'Reckless Endangerment' video on BookTV today with Gretchen Morgenson and
Joshua Rosner was great. I just profiled Reckless Endangerment on my website, along with a response video by Barny Frank, and another interview on Democracy NOW!

Morgenson was also interviewed on Fox, so this is gonna be a problem for Obama in the election. Click my name on this blog post for a link to 'Reckless Endangerment' on my site

n1ck said...

Wow. So people who realize that the Wall Street protest means absolutely nothing if people are unwilling to actually vote are "Obamabots"?

If I believe that the best chance of saving this country is voting for the guy in office, rather than handing the Presidency over to the Republicans means I'm an "Obamabot"?

The Republicans/Tea Party/Right-Wing has done a great job turning the Democratic party against itself.

As per usual.

Keep fighting the good fight. Enjoy President Perry.

Kat said...

Wow n1ck. That's a new one. Scare us with the specter of the GOP candidate du jour.
Me, I'd rather go with the politics of inclusiveness-- search for common ground even if it means fraternizing with the "enemy".
You see, I don't believe in the labels handed out by the media. I just believe there are those at the top and then there are the rest. I know who my interests are aligned with.

n1ck said...

@Kat

Scare you? You mean tell you what happens if Democrats don't vote for the Democratic candidate? Let me ask you - if 5% of the people who voted for Obama choose not to vote in '12, or write-in a candidate that makes them feel creamy inside, who do you think is going to win the next election? Think long and hard about that, if you need to. It should be fairly obvious though.

What I find hilarious is that you think I'm trying to scare you by telling you what happens when people don't vote for the lesser of two evils. That's right. I can be labeled an Obamabot, an apologist, or have charges levied against me that I'm paid (hilarious!) to post here. Meanwhile, I guess I could ask whether the people trying to split the Democratic party are paid by the Republicans, and I think my question is more relevant, since the ONLY side helped by a split among Democrats is the Republican party. But I'm better than that, so I won't make baseless charges, or ask questions like that. I'll just assume people are young and naive enough to think some ideological pure candidate has a chance in hell of wining anything...especially when they aren't even a candidate.

For me, it's scary that Democrats are AGAIN thinking that just because their candidate isn't "pure" that they should sit the election out, or write in a candidate, or whatever it is "non-Obamabot" Democrats are "planning" to do (oh, I love the ad hominems against Obama voters...you sound like Republicans).

Maybe I'm just the old man on this particular thread at the ripe old age of 31, but I became an adult under Bush II partially because in 2000 Democrats bought into the idea that Bush II and Gore were indistinguishable. I was tempted to vote for Nader too, but I realized that while NO candidate for President is going to represent ME, I should at least vote for the candidate who I think will hurt the country the least. Which was, of course, Gore.

The closest politician out there that would represent me would probably be Bernie Sanders, as I consider myself a liberal socialist. Unfortunately, he isn't running, and even if he was, he wouldn't have a chance of winning. I accept that and accept the fact that a politician that I would fully agree with has absolutely no chance of getting elected President.

So, I'll continue voting for local candidates who can pull off being a socialist and win elections. And I'll continue voting for the Democratic candidate for President since that candidate will likely be better for the country. You can call me an apologist if that makes your ideological stance seem more reasonable, but you should know that I'm not, and it doesn't.

Unless you're calling for an outright revolution, we're stuck with this political situation, simply because BOTH parties have entrenched themselves around the government and will not let go. There is no viable third party, or will there be under our system.

Want to start a revolution? Send me an application. But until then, you work within the system, or you aren't working at all. A protest on a Saturday afternoon when the kleptocrats are at home enjoying their spoils isn't going to accomplish anything but give the kleptocrats something to watch on their televisions - that is, if the corporate media decides to cover it.

Karen Garcia said...

We have a whole year to go before the election. It's premature to get paranoid about a President Perry. All indications are that Prez O has heard the message from the whining lefties, and is at least going through some vocalizing motions about taxing the rich. I think he has removed the word bipartisan from his vocab too, thank God. Meanwhile, the protesters are still going strong in Manhattan. Sure beats sitting home with the kleptocrats. Of course, since there appears to a media blackout of the festivities, you wouldn't know it. I applaud the young people for getting out there and making a noise. The link at the bottom of the post still works, by the way.

Kat said...

n1ck,
Yes imagine if 5% had not cast their votes! Imagine such an administration!
We may still have been in Iraq or Afghanistan. We might even be waging new wars!
We might have been talking about cuts to "entitlements"
Guantanamo Bay may still be in operation.
Our government would be funneling tax money to unnacountable war profiteers rather than needed infrastructure.
They would continue the push for charter schools and the assault on the educational unions would continue.
There would be no strong voice to stand up for the unions during the labor uprisings of the winter.
The Bush Tax cuts would be continued.
They'd be touting "clean" coal and nuclear energy.
Clean air standards would be dialed back.
They'd be talking about opening up new areas for offshore oil drilling.
We would not have a health care bill with a public option.
Imagine. The horror! The horror!

Anne Lavoie said...

Here are two websites covering the Wall St. Occupation: http://www.democracynow.org/
and a much harder to find commentary piece (not a news piece per se) at the London Guardian's website at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/sep/19/occupy-wall-street-financial-system

I guess the corporate media does not want to encourage the riffraff lest they get involved, so they are censoring our news, as usual.

@n1ck

Welcome to this website, by the way. I can tell you are new and have not read many of Karen's pieces or our comments because of your remark that you think you are the old man here. That would be far from the case. At 31 years old, you could be considered one of the babies. A mix of ages and genders is great though.

There is something to be said about actually living history in the form of decades of political campaigns, protests, and simply staying informed on the issues. Many of us are from the politically active 60's and 70's. You know, way back in the last century.

If you were an Obamabot, then after trying to convert us you would simply disappear. The fact that you are hanging around shows that you have an open mind, although you do sound a bit conflicted. Life is certainly complicated, and seems even more so when you are younger. As you age, you end up seeing the same old situations over and over again and start to learn to see through the charade. Plus we generally have more time to study the issues, although the unemployed might find themselves catching up on things now too.

@Kat

You said "Me, I'd rather go with the politics of inclusiveness-- search for common ground even if it means fraternizing with the "enemy"." I couldn't agree more!

And your point about the 'difference' if 5% hadn't voted went right to the point with real specifics, not just generalities about parties based on labels. No difference at all in real terms. Thanks.

@Karen

This is why I enjoy and appreciate your website so much. Your hilarious and caustic take on politics and culture leave me laughing out loud, and your community of commenters are so thoughtful, passionate, and articulate. There is simply no room for political bullshit. We don't want to hear any more of that - we've already heard too much of it on TV as it is. We may disagree with each other at times, but at least there is always something worth pondering.

So a special thanks to you Karen, whom I should thank after every piece considering how much I look forward to and enjoy savoring your words, opinions, and ideas, here and at the NYT. Consider this my blanket appreciation of all you do.

n1ck said...

So you think that McCain and Palin would make a better President and Vice President? Do you really think that McCain and Palin would be better for this country?

Do you think we wouldn't be talking about entitlement cuts under McCain/Palin?

Do you think we would be funneling money into infrastructure instead of the military under McCain/Palin?

Do you think Guantanamo would be closed under McCain/Palin?

Do you think the labor unions would be strengthened under McCain/Palin?

Do you think the Bush tax cuts would have expired under McCain/Palin?

Do you think ANYTHING would be better under McCain/Palin?

If so, you should start voting for Republican candidates.

What is most disconcerting to me is that while I agree with the criticism of Obama, the fact that I'm not going to sit the election out and want to encourage people to vote for the lesser of the two evils means that I must be an Obamabot getting paid to apologize for his Presidency. It's like I'm being labeled by a member of the Tea Party.

I don't think I disagree with anyone here politically. And I wouldn't be surprised if in some ways I'm more "liberal" than the people who think I'm a paid agent of Fuhrer Obama. But I do disagree with the notion that the best thing for this country is to give the Republicans the presidency. By all means, vote your conscience. But that doesn't mean the country will be better off than had you held your nose and voted the lesser evil in.

That might seem cynical, but considering the name of this blog, I think a lot of people realize that is how real life works. Unfortunately.

Kate Madison said...

@n1ck-

Just wanted you to know that there is a progressive with a beating heart who hears and agrees with you. I, too, have been pilloried, but expect to be--since the extreme progressive left is just as radical as the extreme right. It is easy and understandable to rail against our party--in fact the whole corporate system--and I do as well. However, when it comes down to it, governing and politics are the "art of the possible." Obama gets that, but he is such a poor leader, with such a terrible economic staff, that he can't seem to make it work. All of our railing and denouncing will not change that. Polls will.

I believe we need to keep the pressure on, but not by constantly crying foul and demeaning the President. Campaigning for progressive congressional candidates and joining thoughtful protests (i.e., October 7) will, IMHO, work better.

But I can tell you that you will have to get used to being called an Obamabot. That goes with the territory of offering a different point of view from that of the radical left. They are furious and are not going to take it any more. Some would welcome having our country "crash," so we could rise from the ashes in 2016--not seeming to realize that the Supreme Court could have a permanent radically conservative majority by then, and Roe vs. Wade would be history. And Social Security and Medicare could be on a voucher system. If you reason that having Obama in office for another four years is less destructive to our country in the long run, you will be seen as caving to OFA pressure or just not seeing the truth.

Hang in. We have a long way to go.

n1ck said...

@Anna
I've been reading Karen's comments on NYTimes editorials and clicking recommend for a long while. I just started posting here recently. My comment about being "old" at 31 was tongue-in-cheek, but sometimes I do feel old in regards to my political views. I'm jaded enough to realize that the system itself is the problem. But barring an actual revolution, you have to work from within. While I'd love an actual progressive candidate to be elected, I just don't see it happening. All I can hope is that Obama in a second term with more "help" in Congress will actually be more progressive than he has been. Or at least less centrist.

I'm not under any illusion that Obama is the messiah. I never gave a cent to his campaign, and I've never listened to a full speech, because he is a politician and I've heard the rhetoric before. But I do think that Obama and the Democratic party is far better than the Republican party - mostly because I don't think an aristocracy is the way to go. And that is exactly where the Republicans are trying to take us.

I'm not trying to convert anyone into thinking Obama is great - he isn't. And I'm not arguing that criticism of his policies is a bad thing. But when I read that people think that voting for Obama is pointless, I will definitely disagree and state why. When I'm labeled as some type of "enemy" because of my disagreement, especially by people who likely share my political views, I have to wonder what their "solution" actually is. I almost never see what I should be doing, only that I should be thinking a certain way. That isn't a solution.

@Kate M
I know how you feel. Thing is, I actually am a pretty far-left person. I'm talking far-left to the point of thinking the Constitution, while a wonderful document for its time, is anachronistic to the point of causing much of the harm we find almost impossible to solve. The thing doesn't need to be thrown out, necessarily, but it certainly needs amending.

That said, I will continue to encourage people to vote for the lesser of two evils, mostly because it is more constructive than simply complaining about the current situation, declaring it hopeless, and giving up. While I'm not saying that is what I see here, I do see hints at it. I'm already having to convince my best friend to vote after convincing him years ago. He thinks it is useless. And while in a lot of ways I totally agree, not voting is more useless. The Republican party would LOVE for liberals to not vote. They actively attempt to get you not to vote.

That alone should show you that they know that voting isn't totally useless. I might be paranoid, but I think that in a few more years, if the public decides that voting is useless, they will have made it so. Give the Republicans enough time, and your vote will be window dressing for the aristocracy-in-waiting.

I have to say it again. Republicans don't want you to vote. That means that your vote really is worth something. Apathy towards voting is the exact thing Republicans want. Give them time (political offices) and they'll prove that voting really doesn't matter. And they'll do it the the same way they "prove" the government is useless by getting elected to office and then making the government useless.

And they don't even try to hide it.

Anonymous said...

Karen, please keep this comment anonymous, I am posting in two parts:

Part I:

As the "resident" homeless person who reads Karen's blog, I'd like to respond to Kate and Nick.

I have a certain amount of sympathy for the position they take. But I think that position was only tenable through 2009.

On a substantive basis, I don't perceive, in September 2011, that Obama is in any manner an improvement over the last administration. Nor that his administration would differ that drastically from a potential GOP administration.

And, contrary to Kate's assertion, I'm hardly among the radical left. Just someone on month X of homelessness, traveling the country, encountering many in the same position.

You wouldn't recognize us as homeless if you met us. We're college educated, well-scrubbed, well-dressed, and for all we know of our current medical state, we're in good health. I'd hasard a guess that we look a bit more polished in our current state than many Times readers. Call it overcompensation.

But we're unemployed, and no longer have homes. One man I encountered yesterday has been doing this for two years. He looks like your average suburban dad, so I'll call him "suburban dad." Outside a Starbucks, he quietly revealed that he knew my situation, and he gave me his tips on how to survive, e.g., where to sleep, how to apply for food stamps and general assistance.

He invited me to take half his tent. I was grateful. But I declined. For now. Still, I know it took a lot for him to "out" himself as homeless to me, not least because he ran the risk of exposing the location of his remote site, which has so far been overlooked, with generosity, by local law enforcement. I guess he figured, rightly, that I'd never report something that figured so gravely in his survival. Because his survival is my survival. If only Kate and Nick understood this.

Perhaps if you have a job and a home, it's easier to kid yourself that there is a substantive distinction between the Democratic and Republican parties. Perhaps if you look at Obama as a personality, rather than as an agent of policies that are to the right of the last administration, then you can go on kidding yourself. But... then there's tent reality.

For those of us political moderates who campaigned for Obama and who are now sleeping in tents, it is really the final insult to be called "the radical left" by Kate Madison.

I know Kate doesn't intend to be insulting. But she's grossly unaware. And uninformed.

So I invite Kate and Nick to join me in my adventure. It involves over ten miles of trekking virtually every day in order to make it to a shower, food sources, and when I'm lucky, job interviews. Moving from site to site, which in my case must be done on a twice-weekly basis, involves carrying a very heavy backpack over a longer distance - that pack has got to carry your tent, your bag, interview clothes and shoes, toiletries.

I invite Kate and Nick to join me at my remote site, where I of necessity camp alone, and where the park has posted notices about more frequent sightings of mountain lions. I will be frank and tell you that I do sometimes fear these lions, even though I believe they only attack humans when they perceive them to be a threat. Still, the lions are out at the exact times when I need to travel, dusk to dawn. I need to travel at those times because when you have overstayed at the remote site, you risk being kicked out by the park. I am, if you wil, only here by the generosity or obliviousness of these lions.

continued...

Anonymous said...

Part II (continued):


When Kate and Nick have trekked in my shoes, but more so in the shoes of the "suburban dad" who has done this for the past two years, then I invite her to say to my face that I am "the radical left."

But I'm not. I'm just homeless, for which I am ashamed. But homelessness has afforded me clarity.

So far I have learned the following:

There are a lot of people just like me, who don't look homeless, either. Kate and Nick probably sit next to us at Starbucks. We're charging our phones there.

Except for the phone (necessary for job interviews), we never needed all the stuff the marketing people told we needed.

Regardless of the weather, if you don't use sunscreen and moisturizer, your skin will "out" you as a dreadful homeless person. And sunscreen is more important than moisturizer.

If you feel bad for yourself, think of Lear. He had it worse.

Coyotes won't hurt you, nor will bobcats, and you might take solace in their relative proximity to your site.

The more remote your site, the less chance you have of being attacked by men, and the greater chance of a mountain lion encounter. At which point it is practical to recall the number of humans killed by other humans is infinitely higher than the number of humans killed by mountain lions.

That crashing noise in the middle of the night is deer, not men. Go back to sleep.

You need eight hours of sleep when you're living outside.

Sponge baths, vigilant toothbrushing and flossing, and a little fragrance will get you farther than you ever imagined.

Would I trade this experience in for another one? I don't know. If my option were to do as I am doing now, placing my faith in my legs, and in nature, and in God to keep me fleet and safe, and being where I was in 2008, which is basically where Kate and Nick are now, well, I don't know.

I have friends who have homes and a lot of money - they don't have my strength, or the peculiar and flatly irrational calm I feel when I'm traveling in the dark to one of my remote sites. Will my sleeping bag still be there? Will I have another safe night?

I don't anticipate having to do this for much longer. But perhaps I'm wrong. In this hopefully interim period, I know more than Kate and Nick do. And that's both a gift and a pain. But it doesn't give me any patience for their arguments. Not now. Not anymore.

For now, I'm sucking it up, and praying for my legs to stay strong and for all of us "out here" to stay healthy.

Our survival is your survival. Your survival is our survival. If only Kate and Nick understood this.

Karen, keep telling the truth.

Kate Madison said...

@Anonymous-

I have enormous sympathy for your plight of homelessness and desperation, with no job in sight--which started with Reagan economic policies, became worse under Bush and set the stage for the failed policies of Obama and the "free market" freaks. It is more than sad that he does not get how destructive and unfair the free market has made life for so many.

However, I do not think Obama and his economic mafia are solely responsible for your plight. And what I wonder is what you have in mind for our future? Do you really think things would not be worse with a Republican administration? That crashing and burning will teach Americans a lesson they need to learn? I would like to know more about about your thinking and practical political viewpoint, keeping in mind that the Republicans want us (you, me and all middleclass or underclass Americans) to fail. I believe Obama is not that evil. And I think we stand a better chance of getting benefits for those who are jobless and homeless with him than we do with either Rick Perry or Mitt Romney. If you disagree, I would like to hear what your ideas are.

BTW, I apologize for saying it is the radical left calling me an Obamabot. Some commenters on Sardonicky are radical "let's rise from the ashes" people, and I was speaking about them. You obviously are not, and I ask your forgiveness. I should not have said that.

n1ck said...

@Anon

Ideals and prose aside, what is the solution?

I'll be much more brief than I otherwise would be.

Let's suppose I accept that I'm a total idiot stuck in 2008 because I think voting is important, and that the Democratic party is better than the Republican party.

What should I do to effect real change? Anyone can give me an answer.

What steps should I take to change things, if voting is useless?

How and where do I start? What are the signs that I've actually accomplished something? What does success ultimately look like? How do I know I'm still on the right track once I've started?

How do I recognize enemies, and how do I deal with them? How do I convince others that I'm right, and that they're not right or mistaken? What incentives do others have in following my lead? How do I explain to others why I'm right?

This is the problem with ideals and prose. It sounds wonderful, but if there isn't any plan, it's just words on a slate that are as abstract as a Dali painting. Even if the ideas are beautiful, without any a plan they'll just sit on the slate invoking emotions rather than action. I don't see that as useful.

Anonymous said...

@Nick:

You did miss my point that I'm not entirely unsympathetic to your position. But we've long since passed the time when it was relevant.

You complain about ideals and prose. But that is, as far as I can tell, all you and Obama are offering.

Further, I didn't tell you not to vote, or that voting in unimportant, did I? I told you that I no longer found a substantive difference between the Democratic and Republican parties, and I find Obama to the to the right of the last administration on a substantive, not a personality, basis.

I did not instruct you or anyone else not to vote. I did not write, as you suggest I did, that voting was useless.

You ask: "How and where do I start? What are the signs that I've actually accomplished something? What does success ultimately look like? How do I know I'm still on the right track once I've started? "

How, Nick? You look at the policies. You analyze the policies. You don't worry about "recogniz(ing) enemies" as you put it.

You. Look. At. The policies.

The O Admin policies are well to the right not only of Nixon, but of the last administration, AND at a time when we had good momentum to swing leftward back toward the center.

That's all, Nick. BTW, very interesting to contrast your response to Kate's, to which I'll respond momentarily.

Karen Garcia said...

@Anonymous,
There are people here who would like to help you. Please email me privately, kmgarcia2000@yahoo.com.

Many of us are just a paycheck or an illness away from being in your situation. We are all in this shit hole together.

Marie Burns said...

@ Anonymous. There are homeless shelters in almost every city of at least, oh, 50,000 people. Some are safe; some are not. Some are run by religious groups, but not all of these make you join in prayer, preaching & Jesus sing-alongs. You have to check around. Since you are well-educated & looking for work, you might even help out at one in exchange for the comforts they provide.

I would not be ashamed of being homeless. It's a Calvinistic myth to think that someone in a less fortunate situation is "not as good as I am." When you enter into a chat with a stranger, if it fits into the conversation, try saying, "I'm homeless at the moment." Not only will you find out quickly enough who's worthy of a conversation with you, it will release you from the shame you've been feeling. (I guess I wouldn't say this in a job interview, where you have to be a total fake & pretend you think the pompous ass you're talking to is a genius & explain why a degree in philosophy is good preparation for making Subway sandwiches or whatever.)

I've been poor & I've been comfortable. (And I would guess Kate Madison has, too, BTW.) It may not seem like it now, but your current experience will teach you more about life than "how to rough it," and when you get "comfortable," you'll definitely know not to look down your nose on those who have not been so fortunate as you have.

Good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

So, I tried to respond to Kate, but I think I hit a cancel button, lost the whole thing.

Mostly, just wanted to thank her for her empathy, and to state that I just don't see enough daylight between O and the GOP. Romney and Obama are about the same economically, and then there's the fight factor - the GOP House is less likely to fight benefits once a GOP'er is in the White House. But Perry's another story. If they run Perry, I'll likely vote Obama.

Also: thanks so much for the offer, Karen. If it's okay, I'm saving my lifeline for when it gets desperate. I've just seen too many people who've had it worse.

There has been an upside. One of the strange things about being invisibly homeless is the people you meet. I've been meaning to write about this for a while, and was meditating on how to do it. I'm wary of talking about the upside of what's been going on, because I don't want to give the impression that my experiences are at all typical of what it's like to lose your home and your job. That is: the places I've been have necessarily been adventurous, thus the people I've met have been "screened"? And therein has been a safety factor. (Mountain lions vs. men - I vote for mountain lions.)

In my travels, I've met a lot of other invisibly homeless Americans, and a lot of traveling Europeans, Germans, Poles (a lot of Poles)... and a young teacher from France, who told me that his options had been whittled down to: vote for the right-wing Sarkozy (not an option for him) or the right-wing lunatic LePen types (neither an option for him).

I'm sure we can all relate to that? Maybe you take Kate's position or mine - but that's essentially the choice we've been provided.

Aside from the politics, this whole experience has been a kind of an inadvertent "looking for America" trip. There's been some selective hitch-hiking for long distances. Haven't had a bad ride yet. So far I'm a lot more like Nicholson in "About Schmidt" than in "Easy Rider." With some rides come back-country advice: where to go, what's safe. "You can free-form it in X spot, too big for park service to patrol," was the advice I got from my last ride, a still-employed back-country guy. It was solid advice.

It's not all homeless "suburban dads" I've been meeting. I'm also meeting young kids just out of the military with some savings but no jobs who are going around the country trying to figure out where they want to live... and HOW they want to live. Some very inspiring kids. And retirees/foreclosure cases who are volunteering for the park service in exchange for dorm rooms... don't laugh, some of these guys are having the time of their lives. Maybe this is the fun part - because the worst, most shameful thing imaginable has happened to us, we've lost our homes and our jobs, and yet... we're discovering some of our strengths. And one of the strengths is that your fellow Americans are kind of fun to hang with, regardless of their politics.

@Marie: thanks so much for your thoughts, but I'll take the wild over the shelters any day.

Anonymous said...

@Marie:

Don't forget shelters are a good place to get very, very sick (TB, other communicable diseases) and from my earlier work with the homeless (before I became one) I know that they're also very good places for people to become very defeated and depressed. But for some, it can be essential.

But I know that if you were in my shoes, you'd vote for the wild.

As for the difference between being comfortable and being poor, I too have been in both places. But this is quite different. Better? Worse? I couldn't say. Just... different. Very, very different. Not entirely bad. But different.

I'd also suggest that being poor when you're young affects you in a different way than if you're faced with poverty in old age, or homelessness in middle age. And all of these differences (see Hugo, Victor) will affect our political outlook - what we can bear, our relative willingness to go along with the slim offerings on our political menu, et cetera.

Karen said we're all in this shithole together. I couldn't agree more.

Thanks again.

Anne Lavoie said...

@Anonymous

Years ago I was homeless too. It actually led to my career.

In my case, in order to find a place to live, I put a notice up on bulletin boards in various church halls in the Phoenix area offering to look after an elderly person who needed some assistance with daily living in exchange for room and board and a (very) small stipend. I was contacted by someone who had a relative who needed some care after a recent diagnosis with lung cancer. There was no skilled care, just cooking and cleaning and helping with things.

Little did I know the job would only last 4 months when she suddenly and unexpectedly bled to death after the cancer eroded a blood vessel in her lung. After comforting her during the brief minutes as she died, I later decided to try a career in nursing, and that's where I ended up. I actually paid for my classes with my credit card and applied for work-study job assistance, loans, and grants. It took 10 years but I paid them all off.

I make it sound simple, like it all fell into place easily. It didn't, but ultimately it did all work out. It was an adventure, a challenge, and a learning experience in many ways. Sometimes letting Life give us some answers works better than trying to always find them ourselves. As John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans".

Whatever you do, no matter how bad it might get, don't ever give up. Namaste.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

@Anonymous, I don't even know how to reply to the elegance and power of your writing. You gave us a glimpse into a world very few of us know even exists let alone know anything about.

Your point was clear; America under Obama is a very different place for some people than it is for others. For those who have homes and jobs, we might not like what is going on, but we feel none of the desperation and even terror for what the future holds. We are cushioned, by our circumstances, from the harshness and fear that less protected people feel.

I agree with you. There is very little that is substantively different between how Obama has chosen to govern and how McCain would have governed. Obama has gotten in bed with the exact same people any Republican president would have gotten into bed with and the fall-out has been truly terrible for so many invisible, vulnerable people in our country. I have no faith at all, that if Obama is re-elected that things will get better. In fact, I am sure they will continue to get worse for people like you and many more will be joining your ranks.

Many of us are calling for a challenger in the Primary or for Obama to step aside (or be asked to step down) and let a stronger, wiser, more compassionate leader represent the Democratic Party. I don’t think we should be looking at the past for our model of politics in this instance. Maybe it is time for presidents to stop running for re-election the day they get into office. Maybe an incumbent isn’t entitled to run again just because he has squatter’s rights. Maybe running for a second term should be a privilege that is earned not taken for granted. Obama has spent so much of his energy and clout trying to get in the good books of the people he needs to give him money to run for re-election, that he hasn’t paid attention to the people he needs to vote for him. He is very much counting on our fear of the other as opposed to showing us he is worthy of our vote.

I have read that Progressives make up 14% of the Democratic Party. We can still hope to evoke a change in leadership if we join together. We need to demand that our party survey its membership and see if they want Obama or someone else leading the party. I know it is unheard of, but these are strange and desperate times and we should not be afraid to examine all options.

We can place blame on the Republican and Clinton administrations – where a lot of the blame lies, but we must also be honest that the buck stops with Obama. He has done very little to fight for the declining middle class and those in desperate circumstances.

And @Anonymous, please write to Karen and tell her your name. It is important that one of us know who you are.

Valerie

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

@n1ck

Your insensitive reply to @Anonymous was appalling!

Anonymous said...

@Anon

I don't know how I would ever be able to deal with homelessness. And from what I've read the shelters are not much improvement. Maybe somewhat better when it is 10 below. I'm sure you know that everyone here hopes that your circumstances will soon change.

It's abominably short, but may I list a few things that I do think are substantive...
2 very good women to the Supremes
DADT ends tomorrow
No more torture (at least no one will admit it)
unemployment compensation continues
there is a start at healthcare reform (I'll take heat for that one, too)
for now... pro choice still survives
not so much unilateralism
EPA, Dept of Agriculture (think food stamps and school lunches)NIH, Dept of Ed (think Pell grants) still exist
Consumer Protection was enacted. (I agree, better with Warren but maybe she'll get Senator)

I'm sorry there's not much there to help you, but the unemployment comp may be helping others stay in their homes.

I'm voting for Obama. And the bit about the "check" was jumping the shark.

Ned

Justice Network said...

@Anonymous
"...but I'll take the wild over the shelters any day."

Yes, most who have actually been to a shelter would take the wild over the shelters any day too!

When I stayed at the Salvation Army Shelter near downtown Tampa the maximum stay was 7 days. It was not safe. My cell phone was stolen. The noise at night kept many people awake. At six in the morning they kick you out in the street. And if you have a pet, the pet cannot stay in the shelter.

A better alternative to living in the wild is to rent a storage unit if you can. I paid $305 per month for an air conditioned unit. Kept my pet safe too. Met other people living in the storage unit, which was a three-story building. There was a bathroom with a sink and toilet on the first floor.

Soon I saved up enough money to by a used 1990 Dodge Grand Caravan on eBay for $617.00. That was February 3, 2004. I’m still driving the van. I took out the back seats and installed a flat woodboard floor, then a foam camping pad, sleeping bag, ice cooler, and homemade shelves for clothing and supplies. Soon I had a 9 inch color TV with DVD. The mobility allowed me to work day labor jobs. Night parking spots included Kinkos, Walmart, and shopping center lots.

All this is on my website, and lots of tips for homeless people, just click the Justice Network name on this blog post for the link. I have photos of my storage unit apartment, and my van.

Mayor Bloomberg warned there would be riots in the streets if Washington doesn't get serious about generating jobs. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Jack Cafferty reported the economy could trigger violence. Zero Hedge just ran a story on Dumpster Diving. So Obama better get his jobs plan going.

Best of luck. Contact me or James on the webpage for more. James is homeless, and carries a video camera around. In January he filmed a Ferrari accident, the video was bought by MSNBC. The money kept him going for awhile. Welcome to the new America for millions of people.

n1ck said...

@Valerie

I'm insensitive?

I've been called an "Obamabot", "obtuse", an "apologist", and questioned as to whether I was paid to post here. Rather than name-call in return, I've continued to make my points as objectively as possible and treat people with respect.

I'm not here to show anyone empathy. There are millions of homeless out there. Showing empathy via a post on a blog is rather useless. If you want to show real empathy, volunteer at a homeless shelter. Donate clothes and food to charity. This is a blog for discussing issues. That's what I'm here for. Appeals to emotion just don't do it for me. I tend to brush them aside to get at an issue. If that makes me insensitive, so be it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the thoughtful comments, esp. Val, Anne and Justice Network. I want to reply in full to all those reports, but will have to wait until tomorrow. 

Briefly: I understand Nick's last response, #40, I would just say that if he wants to stick to the issues, then he might address my response to him.

And I would correct him in another respect:
Reportage, however loose the format, is not an appeal to emotion, UNLESS the reader has a reactionary emotional response to it.

The point of my description of recent experiences should be obvious:

There are far more of us out here than you might realize. This may be in part due to the fact that we perceive that our survival depends on concealment of our condition. In this manner, the shame felt by people like myself may be perpetuating the problem.

I recently had lunch with a very wealthy friend who remains unaware of my situation.  He brought his priest with him to the lunch. And I remembered that my father, who worked himself nearly to death, always rued the fact that "in America, it is not just disadvantageous to be poor; it is a sin."

I thought of my father's quote during the lunch. But I didn't ask my friend's priest about the "sinfulness" of American poverty, I just... wasn't going there. I still think holding my tongue might be in my best interest. For now.

Kate Madison said...

@n1ck-

I appreciate your straightforward, no bullshit approach. As a former therapist, I get caught up in empathy and sad stories--which is understandable, but not very useful. You are right. This is not about empathy. It is about putting in place effective policy and finding a way to affect that process. We have not yet found it, and all the sad stories in the world will not change anything. We need effective action. Like large protests. And continuing pressure on the President and his lackeys. And participating in polls. Remember "folks," the politicians PAY ATTENTION to the polls--even if we think they are a buncha crap! The polls, I mean. HA!

Justice Network said...

@Anne Lavoie

That was a beautiful story. Thank you for showing such kindness to someone in their final moments. Bless you and your family.