Archive for August, 2011
Jobs Not Wars: People Not Greed
This Friday marks the first Friday of September. All through the month of September the Friday night vigil on the corner of North First Street and Lincoln Highway from 5pm to 6pm will be focused on jobs and the war economy that is destroying the working people of America.
One reason we will have this focus every Friday night in September is because of the destruction to our economy the $1.2 trillion in borrowed money to pay for two wars is having on our society. Without the war debt our U.S. GDP today would be in the area of $16 trillion, $2 trillion more than its present $14 trillion. This difference would translate into roughly a 3% growth rate. With a growth rate of that amount unemployment would be lower and the deficit would be lower. In addition to the $1.2 trillion borrowed to fight the wars the Federal Reserve, as reported by Bloomberg, loaned out $1.2 trillion during the financial crisis; the largest borrower being Morgan Stanley which received $107.3 billion. Citigroup and Bank of America each received nearly $100 million. While all of this was being handed out by the Fed an additional $700 billion of our money, in the TARP, was given to the banks from the U.S. treasury.
This amount for the Wall Street banks is nearly $500 billion more than the stimulus bill for the working Americans who struggle to survive on main street USA. And now those same banks are reporting huge revenues and are sitting on over $1 trillion dollars.
At the same time:
1 out of 5 Americans is unemployed or underemployed. At the same time 1 in 8 mortgages are in foreclosure.
We have over 15% of the veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq unable to find work And over 250,000 veterans are homeless on any given night in America.
As Arianna Huffington has written, the American dream is turning into a nightmare.
If you are unemployed come and take a stand on Friday nights for one hour.
If you are underemployed or working two jobs to try and make ends meet come and stand with others who are doing the same.
If you are tired of the same old rhetoric that the problem is not enough tax cuts for the rich, then stand with the people.
If you have had enough of being told that if only the poor would pay more in taxes then stand with your neighbors who are also fed up.
If you believe we need to create a new American Dream, one that will allow all Americans to live a good decent life, a life free from fear of not being able to provide for yourself or your family, then you will want to be on the corner on Friday nights.
The wealthy power elite’s greatest fear is that the people will join together. They want to separate us with spinning ideological battles and detract us from the real problem which is the divide between the rich and the worker.
We cannot wait for the Democrats or the Republicans to lead us out of this, they and their million dollar donors got us into this ditch, the people will have to pull themselves out.
In a special Time report, “Poor vs. Rich: A New Global Conflict” details that a conflict of two worlds is developing, one rich the other poor and the battlefield is the globe itself. It is as a British official described a “time bomb for the human race” We had the Arab Spring and next may be the American Winter of Discontent.
It is time for the people to stand together. Time for them to meet on the public square and unite around what they have in common, which is the foot of the power elite grinding down on their backs.
Of course those in power want to break up unions. Of course they want to divide nonunion against union. Of course they want to do everything they can to keep the people separated and afraid of one another, or hateful toward one another; and if we go down that path it is just what they want, it is a dead end.
So come out of the echo chambers and stand with your neighbors. Share your stories, over and over. Listen to one another and forge together an alternative to the entrapment that has been created for us.
Let’s talk about forming cooperatives, work cooperatives, here in our own county. Pool what resources we have and begin to build solar panels. Work together to plant cooperative victory gardens, for this time it is not a war against a foreign enemy which unites us but a war against the powerful banks, corporations, and Wall Street investors within our own borders. It is a war of morals, greed or humanity.
Which side will you stand on.
Come out Friday night and make your stand.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio Invited to a Kendall County Republican Family Picnic: A Call to Action
Saturday August 27, at the Kendall County Fairgrounds the Kendall County Republicans are holding their annual family picnic. And they are pleased and proud to present as their keynote speaker Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, who they bill as “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” One could also add America’s most corrupt and racist sheriff. U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren will also be in attendance at the picnic, along with Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, and State Representative Tom Cross, and their families. They will also have autographed pink boxer shorts for sale, $15, a souvenir for the kids to take home, I guess. The pink boxers are in honor of the fact that Sheriff Joe forces his inmates to wear pink underwear; claiming pink is a calming color. He also uses pink handcuffs on the prisoners.
The Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff has been called an extreme human-rights violator. The stern law-and-order advocate has declared war on illegal immigration in his large jurisdiction, which takes in Phoenix. Arpaio, caught the nation’s attention when he chose to house his inmates in tents when jails reached capacity, the tent prisons have become known as “Tent City”. Though Arpaio’s severe tactics are popular among Arizonans, his deputies have attracted widespread criticism in their pursuit of illegal immigrants for harassment and the racial profiling of Latinos. Just a small fraction of the 33,000 arrests he has overseen have been based on documentation checks in the field, but Arpaio says the program to allow field checks is symbolically important: “This is a crime-deterrent program, too.”
“We are ecstatic that Sheriff Joe Arpaio is coming out to Kendall County to support the Republicans in Kendall County. I have always been a huge fan and supporter of his, and I always have said we need more law enforcement officials like him.” said Ken Toftoy, Chairman of the KCRCC and Kendall County Coroner since 1992.
“This guy is doing the right things,” Toftoy said. “Staying in jail shouldn’t be like staying at the Conrad Hilton. And people who do cross the border illegally are breaking the law. They should be arrested. I don’t think the sheriff is doing anything wrong. I absolutely believe in what he is doing.”
“I like the guy. I follow him,” Toftoy said. “I think more and more sheriffs, it’d be nice if they followed his lead. Of course, not everyone in the Midwest can do that because of the winter time. I just think in the United States, we’re too nice to these people. They screwed up and broke the law.”
The sheriff Mr. Toftoy thinks should be held up as a model to all sheriffs is the first sheriff to start female and juvenile chain gangs. His office has been the subject of thousands of lawsuits since he has been in office, leading to $43 million in settlements and expenses. Some role model!
Still Kendall county’s Coroner Toftoy said Arpaio can come off as tough, but he’s a “straight-up guy” when you get to know him.
It has been reported that on July 2 of this year, when the temperature in Phoenix hit 118 degrees, Arpaio measured the temperature inside Tent City at 145 degrees. Some inmates complained that the fans near their beds were not working and that their shoes were melting from the heat. However an analysis by the Maricopa County Office of Management and Budget, completed September 2010, found Arpaio has mishandled almost $100 million in taxpayer dollars over the previous five years. The analysis showed that some of the money was inappropriately spent on investigations of political rivals. Also misspent paying for deputies to travel to Disneyland and included a trip for the deputies to a fishing resort in Alaska. But at least he is a “straight-up guy.”
All of this expense is maybe why Sheriff Joe has also started using cheaper meals, sometimes serving up food that is spoiled, and he has even cut salt and pepper to save money.
Arpaio also uses chain gangs, wearing striped 1940s-style uniforms, to paint over graffiti and to bury indigent people in a county cemetery. Sheriff Arpaio’s recent abuse of power involved marching detained immigrants in black and white striped prison clothes through the streets of Phoenix to the “tent city” on the edge of town where immigrants are segregated. His targeting of the Latino community in Maricopa County is destroying Arizona’s rich multicultural heritage. The sheriff’s tactics include intentionally targeting the Latino community with raids of Latino neighborhoods and workplaces; detaining people who cannot prove their citizenship during routine traffic violations.
Locally you can count union leader Corey Johnson, business representative of Laborers Local 149 Aurora, as one of the Arpaio critics. Johnson said the Republican committee has made a mistake in inviting Arpaio to talk during the picnic. The local laborers union boasts several Hispanic members. He said these members have asked Johnson and the union leadership to speak out against the choice of speaker whom these members say has long discriminated against Hispanic residents in Arizona.
“These members are the same ones who go to our churches. They are same ones whose kids go to our schools. They are the same ones who pay taxes in our community,” Johnson said. “Yet the local Republicans bring in a guy who is truly offensive to them.”
“This guy is like the super villain of the Hispanic community. He is the Lex Luthor of the Hispanic nation. And still, the party brings him here to speak. I don’t think that’s a good move.”
As a means of showing support to those union members who oppose Arpaio’s policies, Johnson said, the laborers union will consider whether to donate money to the political campaigns of any politicians who attend the Republicans’ family picnic.
“We try to give support to the candidates in both parties, as long as they are for working people,” Johnson said. “We try not to lean either left or right. But when you have a party bringing in a guy like this, it’s a non-starter.”
Sheriff Joe Arpaio has misused his authority to create an environment of fear and intimidation all over Maricopa County. The sheriff’s tactics destroy families and the larger fabric of community in the Phoenix area. In the name of justice, he and the Sheriff’s department rely on the worst acts of profiling, discrimination and civil rights abuses. His actions also fail to address the criminal problems that result from the human and drug trafficking across the border because they only victimize the powerless.
In 2009, Phoenix New Times columnist wrote, “Every time I watch Sheriff Joe unleash his ‘posse’ on another neighborhood with a high Hispanic population, arresting people with brown skin for the most stupid of offenses such as honking their horn, having a taillight out, not signaling when they change lanes, I have to wonder how anyone could not see this as an assault on an entire race of people.”
And I have to wonder how inviting this law breaking and human rights violator to our neighborhood is not seen as an assault on our Hispanic neighbors, co-workers, and friends. If as a people we believe in justice and security for all citizens, and if we believe in standing up to tyrants, then we will not let this bully walk onto our block with out protesting.
Join others who are outraged on Saturday August 27, 2011, at the Kendall County Fairgrounds, located at 10826 Illinois Route 71 in Yorkville. It is time to stand with all of those who are against the politics of racism.
Directions to the Kendall County Fairgrounds:
From I-88 coming from the northwest or northeast: Take the Sugar Grove exit onto Route 47 and travel south through Yorkville. Route 71 crosses Route 47 about 1 1/2 miles south of Yorkville. Turn west to the fairgrounds. From I-80 coming from the south: Exit onto Route 47 in Morris and travel north to the Route 71 intersection. Turn west to the fairgrounds.
Submitted by: Dan Kenney
Something Is Happening In America:
Poverty Tour Stops In Chicago
(Aug. 8, 2011) Last night in the large stone St. Sabina church on Chicago’s south side over 1,000 people gathered to hear Tavis Smiley, Dr. Cornel West, and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan speak. It was the third day and their fifth stop of the Poverty Tour organized by Tavis Smilely and Dr. West. The tour will cover 16 cities from the start on a Native American Reservation in Northern Wisconsin and ending in Memphis Tenn. The goal of the tour is to raise awareness about poverty, because as Mr. Smiley has stated the poor are becoming “more and more invisible.”
Smiley said the cities were chosen to cover people of all faiths, races, and ethnicities, ages-urban and rural- including immigrants. On the tour they will spend time listening to people and recording their stories. During the tour they will be staying in the homes of poor people and sleeping on the bus. They will also be staying at a homeless shelter and in a housing project. The stories they gather will be aired on the Tavis Smiley television show on PBS during the last week of September or the first week of October. Also beginning on August 22nd, Smiley’s radio show will devote one show per week to issues about poverty. In addition a dean and students at Smiley’s alma mater, University of Indiana, are working on a “white paper” about who are the new poor in America. The report will be presented on C-span in January with a panel.
Although it was said several times that this was not an “anti-Obama campaign” on this stop in Obama’s hometown, the words were challenges to Obama. Smiley said the tour is about “aiding and abetting the President,” pushing him to do the right thing for the poor of all colors in America. Smiley said, “It is really simple, are you going to stand with poor, or side with the rich. I am standing with the poor.”
When he ended his remarks his words built to a passionate and thunderous pitch. His words bounced off the stone walls and echoed from the high cathedral ceiling; all one thousand people seemed to stand at once, clapping, cheering, some with tears in their eyes as he shouted, “Say it Mr. President! Say the word Mr. President! Just say poverty! Let us hear you say the poor! Say it Mr. President!”
Next to speak was Lois Farrakhan. He began with a reference to the Sermon on the Mound, especially the statement, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” He said that Mohammed defined spirit as energy of life itself. Then he made the powerful analogy to the poor having their spirit strangled. That the poor don’t have the energy needed to fight for justice. That the poor walk with their heads hanging down, their backs bent. He also went on to say that it doesn’t matter who is in the White House. He said that we are poor in spirit because we are poor in leadership. “Where there is no vision the people will perish.”
Farrakhan then lowered his voice. “Obama is poor in spirit today because the bankers have surrounded our brother.” He went on to relate how the bankers are few but the people are many, The poor are the majority. We need to rally the poor, to re-energize the poor. Give spine to their backbones once more.
He directly called upon Obama to become a spokesman for the poor, to be a spokesman for his base. “You don’t have a lot of time . . . when the poor rise-up there will be blood in the street.” Farrakhan then went on to relate a story of a visit he had with the chief of the Chicago police, a visit he said took place at Farrakhan’s dinning table. He said I asked him why is Blackwater training our police officers. I asked him, why are you buying 17,000 assault rifles with armor piercing bullets. “There is trouble on the horizon! The poor are tired and they are not going to take it any more!”
He continued that the poor carry the government on their backs. The poor are what holds the wealthy up. All the wealth of this country is built upon the poor.
Then as he closed again with his voice rising with the standing people, the clapping people, some with outstretched arms and their index fingers pointing to the heavens above, “Obama if you are a one term president at least go out standing up for the poor. Obama if you speak for the poor, your people will have your back. If you stand-up for the poor Jesus will back you, the people will back you. Go out standing in the tradition of Dr, King!”
Then Dr. Cornel West took to the podium. Wearing his signature three piece black suit and white shirt. He said folks ask me why I wear a three piece suit. “These are my funeral clothes.” He said tugging on his lapels with both hands. “I am coffin ready, because when you fight for the poor you have to be ready to die.”
He began by saying something is happening in Chicago tonight. Something was happening in Joliet earlier today. Something was happening in Wisconsin yesterday. Something is happening in America.
He then channeled those who have fought for the poor through history, among those he listed; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. means something to me! Cesar Chavez means something to me! Malcom X means something to me! Dorothy Day means something to me!” Then he moved into how so many leaders today have “sold out!” Too many of our leaders have sold out to the oligarchy. He talked about how Obama’s first mistake was to surround himself with wall street advisors. He mentioned Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, who had been head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and before that was with Goldman Sachs, and Larry Summers former President of Harvard, former Chief economist of the World Bank, and former U.S. Treasurer. He also pointed out that Rahmn Emmanuel was the driving force behind who was chosen. “Now Summers and Emmanuel are gone, and he (Obama) is left with the mess.”
He made the point that we have enough money to address the issues of poverty. “The banks are sitting on 1.2 trillion dollars. If we need $700 billion for the banks we find it. If we need three trillion to fight two wars at the same time we find it. We have the money. The problem is “We don’t have enough folk who love poor people.”
They then took questions and comments from the audience. There were long lines at two microphones. There were questions and comments about the Take Back the Land Movement, which began in Brazil, and the anti-eviction work that is being done around the country, Smiley’s book The Covenant with Black America. (Smiley pointed out that the work done all around America to produce the covenant was done before Obama became the candidate. When Obama became the candidate then Smiley was asked to keep quiet about the covenant. He said he was told, “Don’t go bringing up that covenant now, first we have to get the brother elected, and then we can go back to the covenant.” So Smiley said he stepped back and worked for Obama’s election and now the covenant still has not been brought back up. Smiley also pointed out that Obama is the first President since 1948 who did not mention the word poverty in his State of the Union address last year. “One of the worst hurts you can cause someone is to make them feel invisible.”
Other questions and comments were about the split in the African American community between “grassroots” and “elites,” police treatment of blacks, need to eliminate tax cuts for the wealthy, Rahm Emanuel’s politics, and how much Congress is at fault (not just Obama).
Smiley also related the story of FDR and A. Phillip Randolph, who outlined the needs of black people. FDR agreed with Randolph and that he (FDR) had the bully pulpit to make it happen. FDR then turned to Randolph and asked him to do him a favor, FDR said, “Now go out and make me do it.” Smiley said that the tour was about making Obama accountable to the poor.
Father Pfleger of the St. Sabina church closed by asking everyone to “leave with a commitment to organize, to be a voice for the voiceless, to wake up the conscience of a world that is asleep, to find the moral center of those in power and lead them, drag them to our cause. May the poor be on their agenda because we refuse to shut up.”
Then my African American friend and I went out into the Chicago night. I drove him to a mosque on the far south side and then to his apartment on the west side. We drove past the boarded up buildings, the dimly lit streets, corners where black market deals were going down, past the prostitutes arguing with their pimps. Turning around on a dead end street where drug exchanges were taking place; in the darkness, among the trash and cars with flat tires. We passed the fearful eyes of those watching the police cars pulling to a stop. The men on the steps of darkened buildings with bottles in their hands, their heads lowered, and shoulders stooped. Only black people everywhere one looked, except for many of the police who were white.
As I drove the dark streets I thought about what Tavis Smiley said in response to a question, “This deal they just signed for a trillion dollars in cuts is a ten year deal. If you think things are bad now, if you think poverty is bad now, just wait until these cuts start kicking in.”
And as I watched a teenaged African American boy riding up and down the sidewalk on a bike at 10 o’clock, a bike that was way too small for his long thin frame, I thought again of the moan and deep heavy silence that fell across the packed church pews when one short black woman stood at the microphone and said that she was the grandmother of the 13 year old boy that was shot by the police recently. And she shared that she also worked with a drug rehab program that had had its funding cut. “What is going on? Why cut money from those who are in need? Why would they shoot an unarmed baby like my grandson?”
The first year Obama was in office the number of children that fell into poverty was the largest single-year increase ever recorded. Yet he never mentioned poverty in his State of the Union speech.
Well this Sunday night on the South side of Chicago poverty was the said aloud, and the word poverty was shouted. There are streets in Chicago that could be the same streets I walked in Kenya, or one could walk upon in any third world nation. The situation with the gap between the rich and the poor in our country is not sustainable. The backs of the people are strong but they are capable of being broken. It is a matter of time before the poor will rise-up.
To prevent a desperate explosion among the poor, to keep our streets from erupting in flames of anger, we must keep the word poverty on our lips and we must make sure that the poor do not remain invisible. Something is happening in America. Let us work together to make sure that what is happening leads to a better life of justice and security for all, of all colors and all faiths. And may we work to make it happen before it is too late.
Will you stand with the poor or side with the rich?