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Archive for November 2, 2011

Occupy Wall Street = Love

picture of scott olsen sitting on a rock


After more than ten years of working on front end web development and playing around with html, css, and various other computer languages I had the opportunity to work on a software development project with a local company here in the Quad Cities. Not too long after hiring me the company I worked for hired a network administrator from Wisconsin, Scott Olsen.

Over the next year or so Scott and I became friends and even after I left the software project we continued to talk about politics, the state of the world in environmental terms, global warming, Linux server stuff, philosophy, organizing…

When we heard about the Wisconsin 14 that had fled the state to avoid a vote on a draconian piece of legislation that Koch brothers darling Scott Walker was jamming through the Wisconsin state legislature, we had to go see what was up.

This was all happening of course against the back drop of the middle east uprisings, Tunisia and Egypt, so it was pretty exciting to see people in Wisconsin also fed up with the stripping of rights and wealth from the middle class and the poor and the virtual slave class we’ve suddenly find ourselves to be. Just like that, suddenly many of us don’t have homes, students have no future, and people like Scott, having served two tours of duty in Iraq come back to find a difficult job market, not enough health care and a draconian police state if you aren’t a tea partier protesting debt and taxes.

I find it unacceptable to continue living as usual in a world that commits violence against a person like Scott who having been in Iraq twice and who came to view the wars as illegal, was courageous enough to say so and stand peacefully in defiance of tyranny right here at home.

When we were sleeping on the floor of the rotunda in Madison and eating pizza’s purchased by people in Cairo, sending us messages of solidarity from Tahrir square, we had only an inkling of what might happen in the coming months. We hoped the sleeping giant was waking, we saw the police and firemen and teachers and hippies, and everyone you can imagine out protesting the stripping of union rights from public employees, so we thought just maybe…

This past year has been really hard for people that care about this world. I’ve watched as everything sacred was seemingly trampled by greed and the politics of fear. The supreme court decision that corporations had a right to free speech and that restricting the flow of money from them into our politics was against the first amendment right of corporations was really the last straw. We knew that it was going to get ugly but Scott Walker took the cake. Our decision to go up practically every weekend for several months gave me hope that we could really stop this madness.

Scott recently left the Quad Cities for San Francisco working as a systems administrator but when his shift ended he went down to the occupation in San Francisco every night. When the call came from Oakland that they were being raided by police and needed help, I’m sure that Scott didn’t hesitate, I talked with him briefly as he got off the Bart in Oakland, he said the video feed was down at the Oakland Occupation. I found a live feed for him and told him through chat  where I knew there where some sound cannon emplacements. We lost communication right after that, I knew there was something wrong when I didn’t see him on chat the next day, I thought maybe he’d been arrested. Then I saw on twitter that Scott had been injured critically by Oakland police. For the next few days I watched video that literally made me sick. Not only had they critically hurt a friend, but when a group of people tried to help him, a cop lobbed a flash bang into the crowd which exploded and dispersed them momentarily. They rushed back to him and carried him to safety. If there was any doubt as to the perpetrators of the violence in Oakland, the video of the police hindering those trying to help Scott as he lay on the ground should clear things up. The protesters are non-violent, the police, even though they are part of the 99%, are being paid by the 1% to stand in the way of democracy.

Knowing that my friend is unable to speak because of a brain injury that resulted from the control of our government, and culture by the richest 1% in America leaves me no choice at all. I must occupy. In light of what has happened to Scott Olsen, we should all occupy.

Here is what anonymous had to say to Scott:

There will be a benefit held soon to help pay for Scott’s medical costs and to help his family pay for expenses in coming to Oakland to be with their son.

Our facebook page (link below) will have that posted as soon as we have the details. Join us in our occupation efforts, like our page, come to actions. We really can change this world. We must change this world.

Lose your fear, this is all about loving the world and each other enough to do something about it.

Occupy Wall Street = Love

For more info see:



Donations to help with Scott’s medical costs can be made at Ascentra branches in Moline, Bettendorf or Davenport, or by calling (563) 355-0152.

Why Terry Branstad Couldn’t Care Less About Us

I remember these principles from a macro-economics class I took in college:  When there are more jobs than workers available to fill the jobs, wages go up, unions are strong.  When there are more workers than there are jobs available, wages drop, unions are weakened.

Right now, the country is in a situation where there are many more workers than jobs.  This is partly because  “globalization,” the code word for adding millions upon millions of people abroad to the labor pool for American jobs, means that American workers are now SOL.  All of that happy talk about “the new global economy” didn’t really mention that the price being paid was turning America into a third world country.  You don’t have to be an economic scholar to get the gist of this.

As my good friend Randi Rhodes has been saying for some time, “they just don’t need us anymore.”  What she means is that the corporations no longer have much use for workers in the U.S. because  there are plenty of inexpensive workers available to American corporations overseas.  And labor is much cheaper outside of the U.S. because other countries have few if any of the labor protections that workers in this country fought and died for back in the day.

It is a simple, harsh truth:  They don’t have to care about us because corporations no longer require a U.S. workforce.

But they (mostly the GOP politicians and the corporations) don’t want us to fully realize this or all hell would break loose.  They continue the charade and rhetoric that they are busy at work creating jobs when they’re really just stalling and hoping no one will notice that they are doing nothing about it.  Unfortunately for them, the Occupy movement gets it.

This lack of use for workers and corresponding lack of compassion for the well-being of America’s working class is nowhere more apparent than in Governor Branstad’s shut-down of 36 Iowa Workforce Development Centers in the middle of a recession.

Terry Branstad’s actions in closing the IWF offices to save a paltry 5 million dollars [a portion of which was federal money] is a slap in the face to the citizens of this state who are seeking jobs now or who might be seeking a job in the future.  Branstad reveals a  stunning arrogance and callous disregard for the people who voted for him in pulling the rug out from under them (us).   Here’s part of the story from

5 More Iowa Workforce Development Offices Close

Five Iowa Workforce Development, or IWD, field offices closed Monday, moving forward with a plan that the governor called “effective” but Democrats portrayed as heartless to more than 100,000 unemployed Iowans.

“I don’t see how this is helping anybody,” said Danny Homan, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, Iowa Council 61, which represents 40,000 public employees.

The state on Monday closed field offices in Ames, Clinton, Muscatine, Newton and Storm Lake, following the closure of 31 smaller, part-time field offices at the end of August.

Homan on Aug. 24 joined five Democratic state lawmakers in suing Branstad over the closure issue. Iowa Senate File 517 required the state to maintain all IWD field offices, but Branstad line-item vetoed that language in late July. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 21 in Polk County District Court.

“The closing of offices in both rural and urban areas is counter to the needs of Iowans during an economic recovery,” said state Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, who also is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “Frankly, it is the dumbest policy move I have seen in my time in public service.”

[Branstad’s] plan calls for unemployed Iowans to help themselves find a job with computer software installed in 1,042 computer work stations or “access points” in 335 locations statewide as of Friday, including libraries, colleges, armories, faith-based organizations and probation offices. The access points and a toll-free number are available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Homan said the access points are a “joke.”

At the same time Branstad calls on big business to come up with a plan: [As they say in the blogosphere, ROFLMAO] has this:

The members of the IPEP board include:

Bill Fehrmann, President and CEO, MidAmerican Energy Company
Paul Schickler III, President, Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business
Larry Zimpleman, CEO, Principal Financial Group
John Smith, Chairman of the Board, CRST International Inc.
Toby Shine, President, Shine Brothers Corporation
Mary Andringa, President and CEO, Vermeer Corporation
Marti Rodamaker, Banker, First Citizens National Bank
Ken Lockard, Chairman, Lockard Companies
Tom Aller, President, Interstate Power and Light, Alliant Energy
Roger Underwood, Co-founder, Becker-Underwood
Clay Jones, Chairman, President and CEO, Rockwell Collins

The members of the Iowa Innovation Corporation board include:

Robert Riley, Jr., President and CEO, Feed Energy Co.
Jamie Zanios, Vice President, North Iowa Area Community College
Peter Hempken, retired, DuPont
Scott Norvell, President and CEO, Master Builders of Iowa
Cara Heiden, retired, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage
Sarah Haskin, Vice President and Corporate Secretary, AY McDonald Manufacturing Company
Chris Nelson, President and CEO, Kemin Industries Inc.