Archive for February, 2012

Alternative Future History Part 4

2/28/12 CNN
Romney loses his birth state Michigan to Santorum

In a not entirely unpredicted occurrence, Santorum has managed to squeak out a slim victory in Michigan. Romney’s problems were apparent when his speeches seemed to pander to the Michigan voters, trying to get them to forget that he had said that the auto companies should have been left to go bankrupt. Romney said, in a speech held late tonight, that “the margin of victory was actually a favorable result for us. We managed to re-capture the base conservative vote.”

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Romney managed an equally slim victory over Santorum withPaul and Gingrich a distant third and fourth…

2/29/12

Excerpt from Morning Joe on MSNBC

Mika: With Rick Santorum’s win in Michigan, Republicans and Democrats alike are beginning to wonder if the future of the Republican Presidential nomination is as solid as everyone thought.

Joe: Look Mika, it’s clear that Santorum is reaching the base of the Republican Party. Michigan is where Romney was born and raised, and he can’t win there? The rumors of a brokered convention are looking to be more than just wild speculations at this point, aren’t they Michael Steele?

Steele: As I said before on this show, the possibility of Santorum winning Michigan would mean a complete reset of the race. And here we are; that reset is a reality.

Joe: So we may be facing a brokered convention after all.

3/3/12 (Seattle Times)

Santorum takes Washington

3/5/12 (Washington Post)

Netanyahu meets with President Obama in D.C.

In a joint speech President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared somewhat united in their concerns about Iran gaining nuclear weapons capability. President Obama stressed that the sanctions against Iran were working, while Netanyahu stressed that if Iran gains nuclear capability they will not be just a threat to Israel, “but a direct threat to all free societies in the world.”

3/7/12

Excerpt from Morning Joe

Joe: All I can say about Super Tuesday is WOW! This is just a mish-mosh of results. Santorum takes Alaska and Ohio, Gingrich in Georgia by a hair, but he’s not even on the ballot in his home state of Virginia. Romney ekes out a win in Massachusetts. The only real solid decision here is that Ron Paul is virtually nowhere to be seen in any of the states.

4/20/12

Washington, D.C.
In a room at the Family’s boarding house on K Street, a representative of the Santorum campaign meets with a representative of the Gingrich campaign.

Santorum rep: John, we need to talk about the future.

Gingrich rep: Mark, we are always ready to talk about the future of this great country.

Mark: Rick wants to know what we need to give you to have Newt drop out. We think that this will all go much smoother with two
clear choices.

John: We want what we have always wanted. We want the United States to return to the glory we’ve had before.

Mark: Cut the crap John; just tell me what you want.

John: Veep would be nice…

Mark: You know that we can’t do that. We’ve got the base nailed, but we need to reach out to Latinos and the middle.

John: So you’re thinking Marco?

Mark: I can’t confirm or deny it; you know that.

John: So what us it you’re offering?

Mark: We’re thinking State…

John: That could work.

Mark: So, we have a deal?

John: Let me get back to Newt on it. If you hear the announcement…

Mark: What about the Adelson money?

John: It would look bad if he just jumped from Newt to you. I think we can get him to wait until after the convention.

Mark: That works for us. Good talking to you again. How’s the family?

4/23/12 (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Newt Gingrich announces withdrawal from race

…In a related story, Sheldon Adelson says that he will wait until after the Republican National Convention to announce who he will back. “At this point, it is a little late in the game. When we have the candidate who will face Obama, we will throw our weight behind them.”

6/18/12 (NYT)

Ron Paul announces his independent candidacy

6/18/12

Excerpt from TYT on Current TV

Cenk Uygur: Tonight’s Power Panel is on the electability of Ron Paul by progressive voters.  We’ve discussed this before on The Young Turks, but then he was seeking the Republican nomination. So, now that he’s running as an independent, does that make a difference? Of course!

Michael Shure: I doubt that many progressives would vote for him, but the stand he takes on foreign policy does have a certain appeal to many disenchanted voters who want to see the US take the money they’re spending on foreign policy and put it back into the economy. And his position on drug policy is definitely a draw.

David Shuster: What his injection into the elections will do is divide an already divided Republican party. This will widen President Obama’s lead over any of the potential Republican candidates.

Cenk: So. Bottom line, the most he can do for the Republican candidates is to make it an interesting election. And the best he will do for the Dems is to further ensure a win for the President.

Advertisements

Alternative Future History Part 3

Now let’s return to the present day. In the Republican primary race there are two and one- half candidates remaining: Romney, who is the least credentialed conservative, Rick Santorum, who is most definitely a social conservative, and Gingrich, who I consider to be the ½ long-shot in the race.

Early talking head/pundit returns labeled Romney as the eventual winner, but surges by the other 2 in the actual caucuses and primaries sent the political pundit industry into a tizzy. And since the first three contests, Gingrich has become a back-stopper as Santorum and Romney have traded wins back and forth.

But almost as important as the races themselves are the politics and backers of the three.  Romney has the publicly rich, like the Donald, behind him, and his organization and money insure that the race will go all the way to its bitter end.

Gingrich’s main backer is a casino giant, and multi-billionaire, named Sheldon Adelson. To say that Adelson is pro-Israel is like saying that the Pope is pretty much Catholic. Although Gingrich is unlikely to be the winner, he is ratcheting up the rhetoric against both the Palestinians and Iran, trying to please his sponsor. But it is a good bet that Adelson will jump ship on Newt when it’s finally clear that he can’t win. The only question is, will he go with Romney, who is actually a friend of his, or will he reserve his option for whoever comes out on top at the end of it all?

As for Santorum…well he does have Foster Friess’ money, but the goofy way his benefactor has been acting on national TV, has caused the candidate to deny claims by the media that he reflects Friess’ beliefs.

The most important backers of Santorum are not financial. He has almost universal support from the Religious Right, although they are mostly loathe to actually come out and say it just in case Romney wins the nomination. He did receive a vote of confidence from the small group of religious leaders who met in Texas in January, but considering the size of the confab, the weight of it didn’t come across very well.

But the pic of him being prayed over by a group of ministers in Texas on February 8th told a much stronger story.

With the economy improving slowly but surely, President Obama seemed to have a virtual lock on re-election; especially with the weak field opposing him. That is, he did until a misstep by HHS brought a wave of anti-government intrusion fervor into the picture. His announced solution to the “problem” of the religious institutions having to provide insurance for birth control (the insurance companies would be paying for the coverage themselves) quieted down the liberals who were taken aback by the initial announcement; but by then the damage was done.

As I mentioned in another post, even I was initially torn on this issue. But a ruling, years before, by Antonin Scalia backed the idea that a law made to cover everyone could not be counted as being against religions, as long as it was applied equally to all citizens. That and a careful examination of my own beliefs, as well as a few intelligent comments by friends, convinced me that my initial reaction was incorrect.

What the announcement did do was provide a back-up plan for the Right Wing since it could be the case that the economy would no longer be the issue it was at the beginning. The fallback plan was to ignite the “righteous” outrage of their socially conservative base. And so the advice given by Governor Tim Pawlenty to tone down the social issues is now being totally ignored.

Anyone who knows anything about the politics of the Right Wing knows that there are two things guaranteed to fire up the base: fear (communists, terrorists, etc.) and social issues. And between the Iran situation (blown out of proportion to the actual threat) and the, mostly false, perceptions of the Obama administration, they had found a nice blend of the two.

The Right Wing’s view of Obama is that of a Marxist radical who may or may not be a Christian and/or actual citizen of the United States. The last is obviously false as the State of Hawaii finally had to stop responding to requests for copies of his birth certificate by mailing them to the requesters. And a picture of the actual certificate was featured in an issue of Time magazine.

As for the former, ask any true progressive and they will tell you that his record will show that he is center-left with the advantage being much closer to the center side of that phrase.

When it comes to Iran, although there has been much sabre rattling of late, they are hobbled by two different situations:

  1. Aggressive sanctions forced on them by the U.S. and other countries
  2. A government which seems to be at war with itself

But don’t tell the candidates that. As an illustration, this is a statement made recently by Rick Santorum: “The theocracy that runs Iran is the equivalent of having al-Queda in charge of a country.” And Israel appears to be chomping at the bit to get in a first strike before Iran can get their act together. It is possible that the Obama administration may be the one thing restraining them.

And with all of that as a set-up, it is time to move on to the speculative fiction part of my narration. If I haven’t bored you to death with the preamble, I hope you will tune in for the next installment.

Alternative Future History Part 2

The rise of the Religious Right (or Moral Majority as they used to refer to themselves) is just one piece of the the tale I will be telling here.

There is a darker side to the Religious Right; it is called “Dominionism.” It could be called a sub-set of fundamentalism, but it is really the basis for the conjoining of the corporate mind-set with the Fundamentalist movement. As I wrote in an article in Green Egg Magazine (greeneggzine.com) the term “Dominionist” comes from Genesis 1:26 which states (in some translations): Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

This basically means, to them, that they can do whatever they want with the Earth because it was given to them by God. By ignoring the piece in 1:28 which says “replenish the Earth” the people behind the oil, coal, and gas industries saw a way to buy into this fast-growing movement and began to “come to Jesus” themselves.

And the religious right, seeing a new source of income to finance and further their beliefs, endorsed this alliance with open arms. With all pun intended, this was a marriage made in heaven for both of the groups. As anyone who is paying attention would know, today’s right-wing political movement is currently financed by the Koch brothers and others involved in the energy industry.

As someone who is concerned with the environment this is very disturbing to me, but there is another piece which entered into the equation later that should scare the hell out of everyone; literally. It concerns a group of people who believe in the literal interpretation of the Book of Revelations describing the “End Times.”

This group has been around for quite some time. In fact I remember when I was in my 20s, and living basically on the streets of Denver, having someone hand me a small comic-like booklet describing this event and pointing to the specific passages in Revelations which refer to it. The gory graphics in these booklets would put to shame any of the current horror graphic novels. The point of them was to tell people to repent before it was too late.

At that time this was a relatively small group but with the rise of the Internet, and the ability to communicate more effectively over greater distances, this group began to grow. The current popularity of the End Times series is an indicator of how wide-spread that belief system has become. And, reportedly, the G.W. Bush administration was riddled with believers of this particular sect of Christianity. In fact Christian author Joel C. Rosenberg claims that he was “invited to the [Bush] White House, [and] Capitol Hill” to explain the issues facing the Middle East “through the lens of biblical prophecies.”

A key piece in this belief system is that Israel shall regain the Temple, a site commonly believed to be the Dome of the Rock which is said to be the place where Solomon built his first temple, and that subsequently that temple will fall. This an actual place which dates back in history to the point before the Islamic and Jewish faiths were split into the later books of the Old Testament. For anyone who cares to do some research into the issue, the Jewish and Islamic books of faith were identical up to a point; that point being where the Muslim religion claims that Muhammad Ibn `Abd Allāh Ibn `Abd al-Muttalib was born and the Islamic faith split off.

As such, the Dome of Rock is a site sacred to both faiths; and also to the Christian religion. Currently there is a group called the Temple Mount Faithful ( templemount.org) whose goal is to rebuild the Temples on that spot. As you can guess, this idea is not going over very well with the followers of Islam, and is contributing to the current tension between Israel and the Islamic  countries of the middle and near East.

So we have a stew starting which involves big money, religion, politics, and people who take the Book of Revelations as a factual set of prophesies which will eventually come true. Keep all that in mind as you read the next part of this post which will bring us to the present time and the possible future that could await us.

Alternative Future History Part One

The trend of late in science fiction is to create alternative histories.  It is something I just don’t understand. Not the meaning of it, but the reasoning behind why they write it. As far as I can tell it is only an intellectual exercise with very little actual revelations; although it has spawned a fascinating replacement for the Goth movement called Steam Punk.

It could be that, as fast as technology is advancing, the writers are afraid to guess what may happen in the future because they might be proved wrong within their own lifetimes. That is pure conjecture on my part, of course.

The late, and great, writer Isaac Asimov based his stories on the exact opposite premise. He imagined a time when someone could come up with a way to predict the future.  In his Foundation novels, he rightly reasoned that while specific technology may not be predicted, nor could individual actions, sociology could be used as a base to predict trends. And using those trends, the future of the human race in general could be predicted.

Not only did he write an amazing trilogy of novels based on this predictive sociology but he managed something no other science fiction writer before, or since has done. He tied all of his science fiction novels together before his death in 1992, including those written before he came up with the idea behind the Foundation Trilogy. Granted, he did a little creative editing to do so, but that doesn’t lessen the accomplishment.

While I can’t lay claim to being as brilliant or creative as Asimov (not even close), nor can I ever hope to achieve even 1 percent of his creative output (he wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards), I am going to attempt my own version of an alternative future history.

The alternative future history I intend to portray here must, of necessity, have a basis in current events as well as recent history. In keeping with that basis, allow me the conceit of focusing on one of my favorite subjects: The Religious Right.

Before the Reagan era the Evangelical community in the U.S. could be seen as being segregated into two types:

  1. The true Believers (in my estimation that could include Billy Graham) who genuinely wanted to share the love and joy which they felt in their faith with the rest of the population.
  2. The type of Evangelist who had more materialistic goals in mind. As I believe Robin Williams once said in a comedy routine “Put one hand on your radio and the other on your wallet.” This could include Jimmy Swaggert (“I have sinned” again and again and…) and the scores of people still hawking their biblical wares on Sunday morning shows on independent television stations.

But something changed during that period of time when Reaganism caught fire: The two groups started to merge and began to involve themselves in politics. Groups began to spring up with innocuous sounding names such as the American Family Association and Focus on the Family.

And during those years a young man named Ralph Reed who was “told by the Holy Spirit to come to Jesus” in 1983 joined up with Jack Abramoff (yes, that Jack Abramoff) and Grover Norquist in the College Republican National Committee. Reed’s love for politics and his strong ideas on the role of Christianity in America soon became intimately intertwined. This resulted in his take-over of the Christian Coalition in 1989. Unfortunately it also became the root of the right wing we know it today; conservatives not only in fiscal values, but also in social values.

I was wrong

In a blog post, which I’ve since deleted because I cannot stand by it anymore, I said that I was torn on the contraception issue due to 1st Amendment concerns. Here and now I am admitting I was wrong. Why would I say that? Because what was not considered in my opinion was the broader issue of contraceptive rights. The right wing has seized the opportunity presented by this and ran with it.

The anti-women and anti-contraceptive jihad has new fuel because of this. Representative Darrell Issa  held a hearing on the issue of contraceptives with no female witnesses. Foster Friess, the main contributor to Santorum’s Super PAC, said on Andrea Mitchell Reports “And this contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s [so] inexpensive. Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.” It makes me wonder how someone who is ignorant enough to say that could become that rich. He later said that it was intended to be a joke. An ignorant joke indicates ignorance on the part of the person telling it.

On top of all that, even though the President announced a compromise on the issue on religious differences, right wingers are still saying that it is a religious issue and not an issue on women’s rights and contraceptive rights. Although it did start out as the former, it has obviously moved into the latter. It has, apparently, become impossible to have an intelligent conversation on such issues in today’s political climate. If I have contributed to this becoming the issue it has, even though I don’t have enough people following this blog to make a difference, I feel that I must apologize for that.

Which brings me to some thoughts on why people belong to various political parties. I announced a few months ago that I switched from being a Democrat to being a member of the Green Party. This is not because I believe that the Green Party has any chance, on a national level, to become a legitimate third party. I admit that I will probably have no choice but to vote for President Obama in 2012, mainly because the alternative is much worse. That is also an indication of the sorry state our political system is in; the lesser of two evils has become the political reality. But on the local level I will push for Green Party candidates over any other party. I will still examine each candidate and judge them on their record, but if it is a marginal call, the decision on who to vote for will go to the Green candidate.

Don’t get me wrong; in my opinion 2/3 of what the President has done is good for the nation. But in so many things he has gone against some of my core beliefs. The Health Care Reform Act was great in so many ways, but the mandate was a gift to the health insurance industry. Also, that very mandate could prove to be the downfall of the whole act, so all of the good things it tried to do may be wiped away. And the many ways in which he has supported the energy industry in their assault on the environment is unforgivable in my opinion.

I will vote the way I have to vote in the best interests of the our country, but in affiliation I chose according to my conscience. So I have some questions for people on why they belong to the parties they belong to. This isn’t facetiousness  on my part; I am not making fun of anyone. It is, instead, a genuine curiosity. I can explain, in boring detail, why I vote the way I do as well as my views on most issues.

If you are GLBTQ or Pagan (in any of the various forms) why would you be a member of the Republican Party? The Evangelicals hold so much influence over that party, that there is no chance that your rights will be upheld or your viewpoints respected. Although their influence has flagged somewhat since the glory days of Reagan, and swung both up and down during the W years, it is on the upswing again. As testament to this, witness the rise of people like Santorum and Perry. Even in those times when it has not been overtly evident, the strong influence behind the scenes has always been there.

If you are an environmentalist you may be able to rationalize being affiliated with the Democrats. Goddess knows that I did for many years. But if you are a member of the Republican party you may as well admit defeat now. The Koch brothers influence is undeniable. Energy concerns are working in tandem with the Religious Right to make the Republican party their own private playground.

If you are anti-big business or anti-Wall Street, neither of the two major parties are on your side. Although the President has, of late, adopted OWS rhetoric his record, and the record of the Democratic party, on these issues is lukewarm at best. And forget the Republican party; they are pro-billionaire all the way.

I am not saying that the Green Party is the best; they are simply more in line with my beliefs concerning the immediate needs of the planet, than any of the others. But there are many “third parties” out there. For a partial list go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_parties_in_the_United_States . As a  side note, the one I find most amusing on that list is the American Pirate Party.

Amusement factor aside, I will also say that there are at least three others on that list that I could identify with. If the climate crisis were to be resolved tomorrow, I could easily swing into one of those other parties.

I know that you are thinking “With the political system being the way it is, isn’t it useless to belong to anything other than one of the two major parties?” And that is the point. Are you satisfied with the status-quo? Or would you like to introduce more questions into the political conversation?  My opinion is that the more voices there are in the conversation, the more intelligent and considered that conversation will become.

We are stuck with what we have only because we allow it to be that way. You may have noticed that this seems to be a recurring theme in my recent posts. And you would be right in that. “We the People” still should mean all of the people. All of us are individuals with our own viewpoints. I know that my viewpoints do not represent everyone’s beliefs. As evidenced by my admission earlier, sometimes they don’t even represent my own. I am, however, willing to adapt and change those beliefs when presented with reasonable opposing evidence.

Take a look at the list and pick a party that fits your beliefs. Then push for that party. Present your own point of view. By doing so we can truly make this the democratic nation it was intended to be, and the truly free state it believe it to be.

Hail to the 1st Final thoughts

So what more can be said about the 1st Amendment? Plenty, but I will try to keep this from becoming a novel-length blog.

As I said before, all writers, artists, musicians, and film-makers should be able to defend their work under this amendment. Let’s take a look at film-makers. In 1922 the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), then the Motion Pictures Producers and Distributors Association, was established to bring together the disparate pieces of the film industry in order to advance their best interests. That would have been fine if that were all that happened as a result.

In 1930 the Motion Pictures Production Code was established to provide self-censorship to the industry. This remained in place until the MPAA Ratings code replaced it in 1968. This original code was set up by a lay-Catholic and a Jesuit priest; in theory to protect children (I won’t go into the irony of that.) In 1968 the new system was developed to provide artistic freedom to the directors (being able to show nudity etc.) and still inform parents of which films may be acceptable for their children to watch.

Although there have been a few modifications to clarify the levels (PG 13 and NC 17), the basic code has remained the same. The problem comes in when the MPAA ratings board determines that certain scenes will earn a movie a harsher level of ratings. So the studios demand that those scenes be changed, or cut, to make the film fit for the easier rating so that it will be acceptable to a broader swath of people.

This is a restriction of the 1st Amendment by fiscal means. It bastardizes the film=makers vision for his or her artistic output. When I emceed a horror movie premier a few years ago, one of the people in the audience asked me a pertinent question: “Why do PG 13 horror movies suck?” Well, there is your answer. To make a truly horrifying movie, the original vision of the movie must be preserved. When you have to pander to the studios and the MPAA coding, your vision gets lost and the film is watered down. It’s not quite that simple, but that is what is at the core of it. Self-censorship for monetary gain is still censorship.

In regards to artistic censorship take a look at the American Family Association’s reaction to displays of Robert Mapplethorpe’s work. They called on the government to stop giving grants to him and other artists whose work they deemed morally indefensible. Simple solution: if you don’t like it don’t go see it.

If you buy music from Wal-Mart, you will never hear any swear words. Once upon a time the radio stations used to bleep out any of, to use George Carlin’s phraseology, the seven deadly words you can’t say on TV. But now bands have to do two cuts of any verse that has a swear word.

And it is not just swear words anymore. Take a listen sometime to the original version of the song Laid by the group James. This was one of the earliest examples (1993) of what I was just talking about.The original lyrics of the song: “This bed is on fire with passion and love, the neighbors complain about the noises above, but she only cums when she’s on top.” In order to get airplay, and to sell their record at Wal-Mart, they changed the one phrase (in the radio and Wal-Mart versions) to “she only sings when she’s on top.” Anyone would recognize that as a euphemism for the same exact thing, but changing the one word made it acceptable. Pretty ridiculous, don’t you think?

What would Lenny Bruce say about this? We know what George Carlin thought; he kept saying it continuously right up until he died.

Censorship can be overt or it can be subtle and progressive. It can exist in those who say they value freedom. And it can lie just under the surface of seemingly innocuous things. It can be wielded heavily in the hands of those who are in authority with pepper-spray and handcuffs. It can be said to be in defense of children, when it is actually in defense of the somewhat dubious moral code of those whose greatest hidden wishes are for power and control.

They will say that it can be used justly as in “not shouting fire in a crowded theater.” You really don’t know how sick I am of that trite cliche`. It is a rationalization only, and is unworthy for use in any intelligent conversation on the subject of censorship.

Here and now, in this theater called the United States of America, I am shouting that censorship is FIRE! You can hear it and run for cover, or you can stand up and begin to subdue the flames. Your choice.

Hail to the 1st Continued

We now return to the regularly scheduled blog. Let’s take a look at the second half of the 1st Amendment:

“or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The right wing makes fun of the Occupy movement and the left makes fun of the Tea Party. But both of these movements have the right, under this section, to gather in protest. Having grown up in the 60s and early 70s, not far from Kent State University, this is something which I respect greatly.

In May of 1970 4 students were killed and 9 were wounded on the campus of Kent State University by members of the Ohio State National Guard. One of those wounded was permanently paralyzed. The protest against the Cambodian invasion had been ordered cancelled by the University, but the protesters were determined to exercise their right to protest.

The problem began when the protesters disregarded one word in the 1st Amendment: peaceably. When they were approached with orders to disperse they began throwing rocks, The soldiers chased them out of the Commons area, and that’s when the Guardsmen made their first mistake. Instead of letting them go they followed them out of the area. They had their way but they forced the issue.

Some of the students, who had been retreating, turned and began throwing rocks again at the soldiers. The Guardsmen then opened fire on the students. By all accounts, both sides made mistakes. But in reasoned thought, the mistakes of the Guardsmen were by far the greatest:

1.They were wearing riot gear, so the rocks may have left bruises, but they would have suffered no lasting damage.
2.They had the students on the run and, instead of consolidating their position on the Commons, they followed them
3. They opened fire.

This was a tragedy which could have been avoided. The Campus should have allowed the protest under the 1st, but they attempted to shut it down. And the USCoA of the 6th district ruled that the order to disperse was lawful; in direct violation of the 1st Amendment. The students received no justice; 4 were killed and one paralyzed, and the Bill of Rights was trampled on.

This was, of course the beginning of the end of the Vietnam war and the aborted Cambodian invasion. The nation rallied around the incident, and through massive protests and student strikes, even those who had supported the war before it, began to change their minds. I had just turned 13 when it happened, but I was acutely aware of what was happening a short drive away.

Only two other incidents left such an indelible mark on me as a child, one of which was JFK’s assassination. MLK Jr’s assassination, five years later, cemented my distaste  for actual violence (I already knew that movie violence was staged, so I am still a horror movie buff), but the Kent State killings pushed me firmly into the ranks of the left wing. And though I have edged towards a reasoned center on many things, I still consider myself to be in the camp of the left.

This should be a lesson for the Occupy movement. I consider the people at UC Davis who sat and allowed themselves to be pepper sprayed to be heroes. Keep up that type of behavior and the authorities will reveal themselves to be the thugs which they are. But do  not react violently, because the cost is too great. Yes the Vietnam war ended, but it took three more years (the official end in 75 was after the unofficial end of 73) and cost us hundreds more dead soldiers and medical personnel.

Those who say they are strict constitutionalists, and who applaud the actions of authorities in regard to Occupy are, in essence and spirit, rejecting this part of the 1st Amendment. As I have said before, the hypocrisy of some people astounds me.

The 1st Amendment is, by order and importance, the greatest one of the Bill of Rights. As a writer I appeal to other writers to spread this message as far as you can. Artist, musicians, and film-makers, please make this a central theme. We need to stop this erosion of that most important right. If we do not. we can all kiss our professions goodbye. And the cost to the United States of America will be even greater.