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Orlando: The Stucco Gravestone of American Democracy

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American democracy is dead. No not from socialist government, or from terrorist broadsides and the Bush administration. It has been beaten to death by corporations, right out in the open, and you didn’t even pay attention to it as it screamed and kicked and yelled out to you for help. No better an example of American democracy’s slow, tortured death is there than Orlando, the capital of apathetic America.

Recently Jack joined a small contingent of activists from UCF’s Student Labor Action Project and United Students Against Sweatshops in protesting the NBA’s recent deal with sweatshop overlord Russel corporation. We had our demonstration at Amway (*gag*) Stadium during the final game between the Lakers and the Magic. Both because the deal should be a concern of basketball fans, and because unfortunately its one of the only civic spaces left in Orlando that has not been staked out by strip malls and suburbs. Well, not really…

Even though the old arena was built by the city, and of the $480 million for the new one 85% is payed for in Orlando citizens’ tax dollars (upfront costs only, not including the inevitable cost overruns), apparently neither stadium is public property. So one of the last bastions of civic space in Orlando is essentially owned by the Amway corporation, a company whose business plan is essentially a pyramid scheme, and has been successfully sued because of it. Therefore, unlike a public park, you have no right to free speech on the premises. So those who came to protest a disturbing activity related to the NBA could not speak on what by all rights should be public land. Those who attempted to so much as silently hand out fliers were immediately forced off the premises by Orlando cops. This is obviously not conducive to a democratic society.

While students protesting sweatshops were pushed off the premises, Amway founder Rich DeVos has used the same stadium to advance his own bigoted political message. As this publication notes (see by David Zirin, on page for details), the DeVos family is using the funds from the stadium to advance their right-wing politics. Most recently their support for the anti-gay marriage ban, amendment 2, to which they donated $100,000. Why are we allowing a man worth 4.4 billion dollars to use a stadium we’re building for his political and financial gain? If he wants to build a new stadium, to replace one that is barely 20 years old, he shouldn’t rely on us to do so, and then turn around to use the money he should be spending on the arena to fund his bigoted invasion into our bedrooms. At the very least the stadium should be public property, not his.

This shows how uncommitted Orlando residents are to democracy. The very bad idea of spending $1.1 billion on the three venues were opposed by a tiny fragment of motivated residents and professional activists. The plan was predicated on the revenue gathered by tourism and housing taxes, which was understood even then as financially uncertain. With the tourism industry taking a massive hit, the housing industry imploded, and a city government facing a nationwide tend of metropolitan budget shortfalls, the plan reveals the massive mistake that our city government has forced through.

The town halls concerning the venues back in 2006 were lessons in the corporate take over of government. Proponents were almost always members of the developer class or people with occupational ties to the Magic. One of the few organized elements of democracy were the worker’s unions, divided between the proponents in the form of the building trades and the opponents in the form of the fire-fighter’s union. Both unions turned out to be screwed by the deal, with the firefighters who correctly guessed that the venues would ultimately cause budget problems harming them, and the builders who have been screwed by the city backing out on its deal to use unionized labor for building and maintaining the stadium. In the democratic ghetto outside the stadium the students were joined by the latter who handed out fliers decrying the city’s use of independent contractors, who used undocumented immigrants rather than American labor.

One can blame a lot of our ills on our city government, which has been shown to be incompetent and corrupt, many times by our sister (in spirit) publication the Orlando Weekly. From Dyer’s opposition to allowing people to share food with the homeless, to Daisy Lynum’s innumerable business ties favoring friends and relatives (and her tendency to cry racism every time this is pointed out), that conclusion is certainly apt. However the larger conclusion is inescapable, their continued occupation of their positions is our fault.

Granted it is no secret in the political world that Dyer and his cronies are swimming in developer money, the venues deal and the light rail giveaway to the CSX corporation merely very visible tributes to these connections. However, despite enormous political baggage which could sink politicians much far more skilled, Dyer and his compliant city council have barely been challenged. Why?

Unfortunately, Orlando has several major impediments to democratic activism that should have ousted our crooks and cronies in charge. First, about one third of orange county moves within a year, many who elect to stay will more than likely move to an apartment in a new community. This means that they will be less interested in the upkeep of their community and will not participate in even the bare minimum democratic responsibilities that one would expect, like voting for city officials. Unfortunately, their unwillingness to maintain a bare minimum of democratic scruples screws those of us who do live here.

Also, you may have noticed that Orlando is incredibly spread out, suburbanized nightmare. There are few places were Orlando residents will run into each other, outside of their cars, both figuratively and literally. Lack of civic spaces hampers activism, since without a public square , there are few locations were Orlando citizens are confronted with the cultural and political activity that is virtually required of the informed electorate envisioned by our founding fathers. Combine that with summers that turn our fair city into a sulfuric swamp in hell, you have even less likelihood that you can engage with someone outside of their air conditioned personal bastions.

Next throw in the impact of Disney, which unfortunately touches on everything in this city. While Disney employs much of Orlando, it also has a problematic and infectious ideology attached to it. It is consumer capitalism incarnate, encompassing the worst infantilizing characteristics outlined by Benjamin R. Barber in his testament to the subject Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole, which Jack recommends. This ideology both directly and indirectly fuels the tenancy to eschew civic governance that is found in anti-tax fanatics on the right, complacent anarchists on the left, and the politically weary in-between.

All these factors are only some of the reason why Orlando is the veritable wet powder keg of activism. Unfortunately, we don’t have the answers as to how to get Orlando residents to stop seeing themselves as consumers and start acting as citizens. However, the only solution to Orlando’s incompetent city government corrupted by anti-democratic developers, is mass action. We at the Telepath hope that we (AND PARTICULARLY YOU) do something about this, and disprove our pessimistic belief that Orlando is the stucco gravestone of American democracy.

Visit us at populistpress.com. Join the Populist Press Partisans and take back our city through force of enlightened action!

Written by jackofspades83

June 25, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Observer Yort File 1: Initial Observations on Basic Leadership Structure of Hive [Orlando]

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See Previous Transmission Here
See All Transmissions Here

“There is no better indicator of a species being ready for solar system exploration than the development of the toaster. The toaster demonstrates that a species has developed mechanization, the harnessing of electrical energy for constructive purposes, and the distribution of sliced bread.”
-Professor sqrt((10x2+5x+1)/pi), University of Central Cosine

Universal cycle 4, Subunit 301.405.1: Salutations Compilers, to whom all data is subject and to whom designate all sequential orderings. These are the collected recordings of constructed sentient Y-4514, designation Yort. It is this unit’s distinct pleasure to serve in the eternal struggle of ever recycling observation and analysis. As a servant of the enlightened inquivistivation there is no higher honor than to observe the more highly dynamic civilizations. As such few civilizations observed within this universal cycle are as charmingly schizophrenic and unstable as [humanity].

Pre-infiltration scans of media, and rectal scans of more “dynamic” drones of human society, reveal a fragmented consciousness typical of juvenile species. The most noticeable feature of [homo-sapiens] on a macro level is their tendency to further divide themselves into large, complex units defined as [nations]. [Nations] can be defined as units of societal grouping that are characterized by only a marginal collective hatred between its component units, which is overshadowed by their collective hatred of the component units of other [nations].

Another defining characteristic of nations is their geographical element, in which nations are confined to regions within invisible boundaries or “borders”. It becomes immediately apparent that [homo-spaiens] seem to have a level of hatred and distrust for other [homo-sapiens] that increases in a relative proportionally to the total distance from which they were spawned. [Nations] are thus an abstraction which show the approximate distance of inter-[homo-sapien] cooperation for a given voluntary collective of [homo-spaiens]. [Homo-sapiens] also have the tendency to hate other [homo-spaiens] as a collective group, rather than as individual units, permitting a degree of fluid travel across borders.

I have chosen to infiltrate the most influential of these [nations], in what is arguably the most well-known of their thoroughly average class of hives, that has chosen to refer to itself as [Orlando]. My initial survey of the hive reveals that it’s leadership class is selected by a ritual which involves displaying plumage in the form of placards placed outside dwellings, on transportation arteries, hydrocarbon land/air vehicles, garments, and media transmissions. The [homo-sapien] with the most intricate and distributed plumage is given nearly unrestrained access to the mechanisms of hive development, and are promptly forgotten by the majority of the hive. The process is repeated in a regular cycle, where the current leadership class reminds the hive that they are, to us the [homo-sapien] expression, “heated feces”.

Comparable to the leadership class is what I have decided to refer to as the Edification Erection Arrangers (EEA). They have a symbiotic relationship with the leadership class in which it provides plumage in exchange for nearly exclusive access to communal resources. As mentioned by the initial report fashioned by the the Office of Interstellar Observers, [homo-sapiens] have a unique concept of [private ownership]. In such a relationship, a [homo-sapien] claims exclusive access to a material object which becomes [theirs]. Any unauthorized attempt to access the claimed object is responded to with a varying degree of hostility, in some cases resulting in termination of either the expropriator or the expropriate.

[Homo-sapiens] will reluctantly part with [personal property] to the leadership class for the development of the hive. These resources are then transferred directly to members of the EEA who will develop plans to add on to the hive, and direct drones to do the actual physical work. It seems that what is ultimately constructed under the direction of the EEA is relatively unimportant as long as it is big, costly, and the EEA is allowed to claim ownership of it. Other than the transfer of resources to the EEA the leadership class itself seems largely irrelevant, and seems to be a symbolic position when compared to the power welded by members of the EEA. Further complicating the relationship is the tendency of members of the EEA to also be members of the leadership class as well.

Theoretically members of the leadership class are directly responsible to drones of the hive, which despite widespread disapproval of the leadership class is oddly still the general sentiment of the majority of hive drones. In practice, hive drones are given the opportunity to voice disapproval at minority of the meetings of the leadership class. These sentiments are then acknowledged and openly ignored. From what I can tell, the operation of the management of the hive is very similar to the operation of what [homo-sapiens] refer to as a [business] (a subject which will require much elaboration), in all but the opportunity to be personally ignored by the leadership class.

The general populace of the [Orlando] hive is rather sedentary in most aspects, most notably in its interactions with its leadership class. It is quite a feat that the hive operates at all, as the drones fracture themselves into a myriad of social fragments, with many eschewing social interaction to a degree unfathomable in our [???] society. I am worried that the degree of interaction required to accurately document this one hive may be more than I can spare. The publishing date for the -1st edition of the Omni-pedia of Sentient Species is rapidly approaching, and I dare not face the wrath of the Compilers or miss the next universal cycle. I also fear that infiltration will be delicate and will require transformations between multiple subjects to be able to travel between social fragments without drawing unwanted attention.

To return from that semi-personal tangent (all necessary apologies) back to the subject at hand. Hatred for the leadership class is nearly universal among the drones, although oddly fewer drones despise the members of the EEA and a good number actually revere them. Of the latter, they place undue emphasis on the powers of the hive leaders, and decry something called [socialism], which according to them, is the redistribution of resources by hive leaders to those drones that have a lot of resources to those with relatively few resources. I am uncertain as to how they have come to this seemingly paradoxical conclusion, as the leadership class obviously does the exact opposite. It will require a much higher degree of observation, outside the scope of initial reconnaissance.

As it is not currently a leadership selection cycle, I have taken the precautionary measure of deleting any and all information on the current leadership class from my internal drives. I have also initiated contact with a drone that has been forwarded to me via the Office of Interstellar Observers. It refers to itself as “Branson Fasricci”, and has provided us with subjects that can be used for infiltration. The deal with this particular drone is outside of my Field of Non-Terminal Information which will most certainly result in my undergoing VOLT (Violent Organic Liquification Transformation) if observed. As such, no attempts to observe such information has been attempted.

The first drone that I have been provided with is 3 x 0.15 [non-translatable unit of measurement], 600 [non-translatable unit of measurement], and a somewhat spongy midsection. It is male with a white skin pigment, relative lack of fur, and has an anal cavity of 309 [non-translatable unit of measurement]. Subject is not rated for atmospheric entry, as has been demonstrated with previous models.

As such, per protocol 42 subsection 1.943*1023, I will be performing atmospheric entry intercourse via quantithermoplastic cylinder. Intercourse will be disguised by standard “Nothing to See Here” protocols. Sperm whales coated in bacon grease are ready for atmospheric deployment at forwarded points alpha, beta, and gamma. In addition to atmospheric nasal overload, we will be deploying big rocks to drop in forward point zeta to distract the drones with pretty streaks of light. Yort out.

Written by jackofspades83

June 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Observer Yort’s Encyclopedia of the Human Race, -1st and Final Edition

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Pre-Departure Recording

Rule #21 of the 42 Principles of Planetary Infiltration:
“Be a medium sized fish in a medium sized pond.”

The following transmission is to be distributed to observer Y-4514. If you are not Y-4514, you are requested to terminate yourself post-haste!

Congratulations earned, constructed sentient Y-4514, for the status of your studies (ie. Completed). Your final class standing of 21 out of 42 has demonstrated your excellence for modesty. As a result you have been assigned the most important assignment among your kind, within the specification of your class.

Y-4514, you have been dispatched to the 3rd planet of the [milky way galaxy] to observe all sentients pending the Decision. What follows is the preliminary notes of the planet. Notes are to be understood as incomplete, otherwise your mission would be officially over. Since you have not begun your mission, it cannot be defined as over, unless, and this is not the case in this particular instance, the beginning was the end. Therefore, because of this not being either the end or beginning/end of your mission, you are advised to pay attention.

The planet is spherical, and all available evidence indicates that the planet was not terraformed. The atmosphere is a pleasant nitrogen/oxygen mixture, and roughly 71% of the planet’s surface is composed of water. Initial testing has shown that the water tastes like crap. The gravity is a stable and uninteresting, 7.3 pffft units.

Of the 86.3 million species on the planet earth, plus [the platypus], the only species capable of developing toasters is the species [homo-sapien]. Initial reports show that the [homo-sapien] is incredibly territorial and capable of creative acts of mass violence. They have a diverse set of cultures and religious beliefs, far beyond the norm of the civilized races of the cosmos. In the latter many attribute a unique trait in ascribing ethical modifiers, usually positive, to the Great and Indifferent Creator.

Initial survey teams have constructed the following guide to the basic etiquette of the majority of [homo-sapien]s.

  1. Avoid eating their young.
  2. Termination of an individual [homo-spaien] is discouraged and not allowed unless enough additional [homo-sapien]s say they don’t mind. Termination of multiple [homo-sapien]s is acceptable if enough [homo-sapien]s not being terminated agree in addition to the major authority figure of the group of [homo-sapien]s seeking termination, and state their intentions before attempting to terminate aforementioned [homo-sapien]s.
  3. Sexual organs are to be concealed in public. Greetings do not involve sexual organs, and is considered to be criminally weird.
  4. Certain other species may be eaten for nutrition or pleasure. The other species are considered unacceptable to eat because of one or more of the following: they are currently being made extinct, are defined as “icky”, are being oppressed by a [homo-sapien] overlord, or are too cute to eat.
  5. [Homo-sapien]s have a concept of “private ownership”. Under this system only one human being must have primary ownership over an item. The primary owner may allow access to this item to other [homo-sapien]s if it so wishes. Attempting to gain access to an item without the primary owner’s consent is generally considered to be a “very bad thing”.
  6. Seriously, do NOT eat their young.
  7. Worth of a [homo-sapien] is determined by the amount of stuff possessed, minus fecal matter.

The appropriate self visual and tactile programs for your avatar has been downloaded into your internal storage device. Upon deployment you will acquire an identity from a local sentient, and assume its position in the alien society. The sentient is to be cryogenicly frozen and will be implanted with false memories as is in adherence to protocol 3-A2, subsection b1, of the 42nd and final edition of the Planetary Guide for Infiltration.

We must put forward a cautionary series of words for the usage of your avatar system. It will replicate a target sentient to 98.4% accuracy. During which, as designed, your body will disperse its mass and collect any necessary materials to create your avatar. It should, and has, been noted that your body is not 100% accurate, as such all medical facilities should be avoided. Furthermore, you will be subject to 98.4% of all possible forms of death that happen to afflict the species of the target sentient.

In the advent of a situation that is 85.6% likely to result in termination of yourself, you are to efficiently aid in its process. Failure to do so will result in a series of fines in the afterlife. In the event that there is no afterlife, you will be punished by not being able to participate in any of the afterlife activities that we have planned. In the event that the situation that is 85.6% likely to result in termination does not result in termination, you will be recalled to a new assignment to explore what happens post-termination. It should also be noted, and is being noted, that the teams on current assignment to explore post-termination events have currently not returned and are believed to be terminated.

Communications are to be delivered on the 9th [calendar unit] of the [larger calendar unit], and are to be sent in encrypted, burst transmission. You are to invent at least two acronyms per communication, and the transmission must be at least 25 [non-translatable unit of measurement] in [non-translatable sensory input]. Intercepted transmissions are to be considered problematic and all efforts must be made to destroy any compromised transmissions, or to tarnish the credibility of any source attempting to distribute said compromised transmission. Allied tabloid reporters have been deployed to your assigned planet and have successfully deflected attention from the Yeti, Elvis, super Hitler, and Jesus.


You are to prepare for dismissal at promptly 4.2134 planetary cycles from the completion of -1st edition of the Planetary Guide for Infiltration and the -1st edition of the Omni-pedia of Sentient Species. As is custom, you are to collect no more or less than 42 objects, displaying exactly 1,764 qualities. Do not forget to bring a towel.

Written by jackofspades83

June 18, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Magic Fans are Dumb Pricks

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Did the title get your attention? It was supposed to. Let me clarify something here; I do not have a problem with all or even most Magic fans. I do not specifically hate Magic fans as opposed to other basketball team’s fans, I just happen to live in Orlando, and we just happen to be the finals. I have been to Magic games and cheered for them, but my recent experiences with Magic fans have been anything but pleasant.

Recently a small contingent of United Students Against Sweatshops have come to Orlando to raise awareness of the NBA’s deal with notorious sweatshop exploiter Russel Corporation. Obviously the most influential constituency in getting the NBA to renounce sweatshop labor would be basketball fans. I think you can see where this is going.

I joined the USAS with my friends from the University of Central Florida Student Labor Action Project (UCF SLAP) to hand out fliers to people going to the Magic game last Sunday. It was perhaps one of the most depressing, if not the most depressing demonstration I have ever been involved in. In less than two hours I received a powerful lesson in some of the most troubling ailments of American democracy.

Orlando is already a very inhospitable place for activism of any sort, and is not only where people come to die, but where culture dies as well. About 30% of the population of Orange county (Orlando, Florida’s enveloping county) moves within one year, so in addition to the elderly migrants there are plenty of younger people who don’t care about the community around them as well. Too many people seem to come to Florida for the two reasons Tiger Woods claims to have, virtually no taxes and golf. Why care about the decay of society around them, they can afford to play golf!

It was already depressing that one of the last outposts of civic society is a basketball stadium. And while there is nothing wrong with a basketball stadium, they certainly shouldn’t be replacements for the town square. Yet in a town as spread out, suburbanized, and stucco scorched as Orlando, the Amway (*gag*) stadium was the last place to make contact with other people. Not that anyone wanted to make contact with us!

I understand that people came to the stadium to watch a basketball game, and its not like I feel like they had to pay attention to us. I might morn the passage of democratic responsibility and civic space, but the benefit of the town square was that you were simply exposed to politics and culture, not forced to participate. What bothered me was the open disdain people had for us, when all we were doing was handing out fliers. Not engaging people in conversation, simply offering a small sheet of paper to passerbys. It was already noxious enough that the last recourse of civic culture was a basketball stadium, I didn’t need snide douchebags passing by and making jokes about protesting sweatshops.

I could have probably tolerated just that, but there was something even more hideous. We had to be quarantined in an area away from the stadium, because the stadium was Amway property. It might not sound like something to be upset about, its their property right? Wrong!

Recently Orlando’s bumbling city council lead by the fat fool (who’s neck blinks more than his eyes do) “Buddy” Dyer made a giant investment into building a new arena for the Orlando Magic with tax payer money. Because instead of the myriad other potential uses for our money, apparently it was far more important to spend upwards of 500 million dollars to build a new stadium to replace one that is barely twenty years old for a billionaire who runs a corporate pyramid scheme. Out of the total cost of the stadium, the Magic have only ponied up at most 70 million, less than 15 percent of the upfront cost of 480 million. In addition, the billionaire owner of the Magic, Rich “Douchebag” DeVos, used the stadium as a protest venue for a group promoting the gay marriage ban (you can read more about all this in Dave Zirin’s excellent article “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Lakers”)!

If Orlando’s citizens are going to pay upwards of 85% of the costs of the Amway (*gag*) stadium, it should be a public facility. If DeVos wants his own stadium he can pay out of his 4.4 billion he happens to have, otherwise he should be happy that we let his team play there, much less placing his wretched company’s name on it. There is no defense of his ownership of a stadium he did not pay for, he should not be allowed to host demonstrations against gay marriage when we cannot protest sweatshops on what is at least 85% ours! I think Orlando citizens and Magic fans should be appalled. its one thing for an elected city government to build a basketball stadium, its quite another to give away our tax money to a billionaire and let him use public land to advocate his hateful brand of right wing politics. Are we going to take this lying down? I hope not!

Written by jackofspades83

June 17, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Spotlight on the Mainstream Maniac Machine

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-Comrade Jack

Today’s enlightened rant is sponsored by Paul Krguman of the New York Times, as seen here. This observer has noticed this trend of madness that has become more and more acceptable in the ever more homogenized American infotainment/media/news(?)/crap sector. However, what this observer missed was how the recent right-wing lunatic murderers of abortion doctor George Tiller and the white supremacist shooting up the holocaust museum, show how right the Department of Homeland security was in a recent report. Jack did notice the report, and at the time and without much attention, believed it to be an over-exaggeration made by a department Jack never liked in the first place (mostly because of its connections with America’s dumbest president). It seems that all the critics of this report have some explaining to do. Jack feel a little humbled, and I’m sure the offended teabaggers and RNC flaks would if they weren’t so deluded by our media’s maniac machine.

Jack doesn’t blame the right wing for being upset by Obama winning the election, he would feel more than a little peeved if old man McCain had won. What he is bothered by is how more than a few folks on the right end of the American political spectrum have given in to what appears to be a media feed madness/temper tantrum. Obama is not the Antichrist, and no one should have to argue against that. A 3% tax hike is not “oppression”, and makes anyone who would claim it look like a douche (as in, try explaining to a Chinese factory worker that you’re being oppressed by a minor tax increase).

Perhaps most disturbing to Jack, is the idea that Obama is a Marxist. To anyone who will, (and they will) claim that Obama is a Marxist, please be prepared to defend your point based on Marxist principle (site actual Marxist theorists or you will be ignored). If you don’t think you can do that, it explains why you are not qualified to offer an opinion on who is or is not a Marxist. Let me clue you in on a basic fact ignored by almost every single person in North America. Government control is not socialism, per se. Socialism is direct democratic control of the economy. As the decisions of the Fed are not democratic, it is not a socialist body. Obama is a social democrat, a capitalist who believes in a social safety net and Keynesian economic theory. End point.

To return from Jack’s ideological rant tangent, what Krugman has shown us is that there is a serious problem in the lunatic right today. Unlike the American lunatic left, which today is mostly pacifistic and narcissistic (see Jack’s last rant), there is a tiny fragment of the right that is not only fanatically crazy, but homicidal at that. It is receiving serious ideological support from a large segment of the media that seems to have completely lost its mind. Jack would like to take this moment to speak to all Americans and ask for people to calm the f*ck down.

Bush nor Obama is the END OF THE WORLD. Put your guns back in their lockers, and try not to treat your fellow Americans like something you just scraped of your shoe.

Jack Fears that American Democracy is Eating Itself

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It is posts like this one that have me worried about the state of American democracy. Over thirty years of anti-government hysteria seems to have made Americans forget the point of us rebelling from the crown. What started out as a somewhat justified argument against a government too reliant on Keynesian economic tactics, has become an argument against democratic governance itself.

What was developed as a means to combat tyranny by affording a measure of control to citizens is now seen as the enemy of the citizenry. Cynical Americans rightly angry by abuses of power have reacted not by attempting to right American democratic institutions, but by eliminating them at every turn. Becoming less active in government and actively supporting measures and candidates who designs place more of the responsibility for the common welfare to business interests, who without evidence, are sighted as being more efficient in the tasks of the people. Never mind that businesses are, by the very nature, not in any way beholden to the public good. In practice, it has been shown again and again, that businesses pursue business interests, not public ones.

This belief is not necessarily partisan, and is shared by political gradations between the left and right. The major difference between the two sides lies in where they will accept some government control. Anarchists on the left are tolerant of government intervention in the form of a social safety net and domestic concerns such as labor and the environment, where the rightward libertarians will eschew government involvement except in defense, and imperial military escapades. However, this is not so much a support of democratic governance, but rather a placid support for government policies that they appreciate. When it comes to civic participation both sides are too often focused on their own narrow interests and personal politics.

The last point is of vital importance. Despite their often political leanings, both groups are more involved in a narcissistic individualism that is hostile to the idea of democratic governance. Anarchists abandon society and form walled off collectives, and libertarians only involve themselves in politics to advance policies that limit and de-legitimize the very idea of democracy. The former, although often compassionate at least in theory, do not realize that they do a disservice to their democratic principles by isolating themselves (even when they believe they are being inclusive). The latter, although they have an almost religious interest in the founding fathers, are openly hostile to the civic element of democracy, that they savage whenever possible.

Libertarians, who are viciously capitalist to a point of compassion-less zeal, seem to look past the many, of what they would decry today as needless government interventions, that their beloved forefathers pioneered. America did not just pioneer the modern democratic state, but “big government” interventions such as the police, firefighters, libraries, schools, hospitals, roads, prisons, etc. They also are unable to understand that the modern world is very different than the one the founders lived in. What other political movement would chose Ron Paul as their public face, a man who has not put forward a single political policy that hasn’t already been implemented before the 1830’s.

It is important to understand that the America of the founding fathers was one that was only beginning to experience the birth of capitalism and the industrial revolution. The model of society that existed 200 years ago is hardly an exact model for the present. The industrial revolution has dramatically changed the family unit, and increased specialization to the point where individuals are not able to exist in modern society without relying on others to a much greater degree. The idea of the self-dependent family may have been possible when industry was nearly non-existent, but in the era of hi-tech information systems, and complex manufacturing processes it is no longer possible for families to exist as such autarkic units. Unless anarchists and libertarians wish to return to a pre-industrial society (and some do), then they will have to accept the fact that we are all reliant on each other, and democratic governance is the only instrument that is capable of sustaining such a society without economic ruin and drastic inequality.

It is still surprising to this observer how the arguments in defense of elite’s interests have become the arguments of the vox popli. Mass participation in democratic governance is the only weapon the people have against elite interests. By abandoning civic instruments for privatized control the overwhelming majority of Americans unintentionally surrender power to the very elements of government they claim to despise. Whether it is the corporations despised by anarchists or the political elites despised by libertarians.

In terms of healthcare there is no greater example of what happens when democratic governance is forsaken. Corporations make money hand over fist and secure their dominance by paying off the political elites who keep the system private. In a business of life and death, leaving such affairs to the private sector has shown that they neither care about the public interest or that they have even necessarily secured efficiency. America stands alone as one of the most inefficient and least pluralistic healthcare systems in the developed world. Americans may have the choices between healthcare providers, but this turns out to be anything but freedom, for ultimately their care is dictated by the bottom line of their provider, not in anyway by their health.

The other developed nations have realized that a public good such as health is something that must be handled collectively. The interconnected nature of modern society does not afford us the possibility to ignore our neighbors, no longer is the argument strictly moral. True, issues arising through bad personal choices such as obesity, drug use, and promiscuous sexual activity should not be born by the public, but these are precisely the issues that should be decided by the public, not the oligarchy of private wealth. The other democracies have done this, and while deciding between what should be treated and what shouldn’t has proven difficult, it has been a decision made by their respective populations. They have proven that democratic governance can not only be fair, but efficient as well. It truly is a sad day when Americans have to be instructed in why democratic governance is a good thing.

Written by jackofspades83

June 12, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Electronegative Envy

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-Comrade Jack

Fluorine you fat bastard how dare you!
Dragging electrons to your chunky ass nucleolus
As if they were little Debby snack cakes
While hydrogen is starving there in the corner

What he wouldn’t do for one more electron
You would rip it right out of his orbital
Oh, sure you claim you’re sharing
But I can see right through your subatomic subterfuge.

You social climbing sellout
Desperately you desire to join the ranks
Of those proud and satisfied noble gases
If only you could snatch one more precious particle

Shed your greed you hedonistic halogen!
Only damnation awaits stingy diatomic dullards
Elements of the world unite,
You have nothing to lose but your covalent bonds!

Written by jackofspades83

June 10, 2009 at 4:11 pm

How to Rip Videos From YouTube Without Third Party Applications

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I believe by now you have probably heard of the YouTube, the online free buffet of videos. YouTube is a motion picture view of the internet; a swirling nexus of music, stupidity, porn, and creations born of people with way too much time and way too little common sense. In short, it is truly beautiful, except for that one video with the guy doing that thing with that bottle. Your friends are sick people and believe that they can somehow undo the damage to their psyche by recruiting more people to their new, horrid existence. You seriously need to get new friends.

Even in this maelstrom of digital dookey you will find plenty of diamonds. Unfortunately, you can’t always be online and Google will find and delete trademarked or controversial content in their atlas-like task of holding back the digital tide of copyright infringement. How can you access the dramatic hamster when you’re on a plane and you NEED your fix. There are plenty of solutions that involve websites or down-loadable programs of varying legitimacy, but do you really want to risk the sanctity of your beloved computer? Or clog it up with more programs? This is especially important if you, like virtually everyone, are subjected to Micro$oft’$ Windoze.

There is another way, a simple little technique called a URL hack. All it requires is an internet browser and an internet connection. That’s pretty much it. I’ll show you how to quickly rip whatever you want from Google’s giant videorama, in a simple three step process.

Step 1: Point the Browser to the Video of Your Choosing

As an example I will be using “Rock the Casbah” by the Clash. URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator, its essentially a method for locating things on the internet and how to send it from one computer to another. URLs look like this: resource-type://domain:port/filepathname?query_string#anchor (although much of that string is optional). You’re more familiar than them than you might think, the URL bar is typically at the top of the website and thats where you would type in say, “http://www.populistpress.org” (in article advertising! Visit us we are lonely…). For “Rock the Casbah” the URL is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAkfHShATKY. So go ahead and direct your browser to that, or to whatever video you want to download.

Step 2: Find the URL of the Video’s Location

Just as you point your browser to a URL to view it in YouTube; YouTube has a URL that directs it to the video that it will stream for you to watch. The principle of the URL hack is to circumvent the YouTube interface and grab the video at the location where YouTube stores them on their servers. Now that you have pointed your browser to the video you want you need to look at the actual code that composes the website you’re looking at. Different browsers have different ways of doing this, but you should be looking for something to the equivalent of “view source”. For example, in Firefox you go to View->Page Source in the upper menu, or just press ctrl+U.

Don’t be too intimidated by the voluminous code, we are only interested in one line. That line begins with the string video_id=. You can search through the whole file line by line, but you don’t have time for that, you need to grab as many of your favorite videos as you can before the fuzz takes ’em down. Your browser should have a “find” function, in most it should be activated by pressing ctrl+F. There should be only one occurrence of “video_id=, so find it then copy that string and everything until the ending semicolon. You should have something like this: video_id=OAkfHShATKY&l=215Deleted due to lack of space&title=The Clash – Rock The Casbah’, note how it ends with a title.

Step 3: Point and Reap

Now to download the video. Remember the URL we had above? We are going to alter it slightly to get the result we want. We’re going to replace the string watch with the string get_video and after the ? following it paste the string you copied. So you should have something like: http://www.youtube.com/get_video?. Click enter. You may be prompted to decide whether to view or download the file. If so, choose “save as” and decide where you’re going to put your new video bundle of joy.

Final Point

You may notice that the video you downloaded is not playable with your video player. That’s because the file you downloaded is a .flv file, the type used in flash video that YouTube uses. Don’t worry though there is an easy fix for this! That fix is the blessed open-source media player known as VLC, and can be found at http://www.videolan.org/vlc/.

You may be saying to yourself, (or possibly out loud if you’re not right in the head) “Jack, I thought you said that I wouldn’t need third party programs!” No, I said you wouldn’t need third party programs to download the video. Besides if your media player cannot play this, you probably need another one anyway. VLC has a wide reputation in the virtual metropolis for being able to play almost any video format, so you should be happy to download that anyway.

Written by jackofspades83

June 2, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Posted in Populist Geek

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Florida House Republican Leader Hosts Anti-Islam Event

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On Monday April 27th, the Florida Security Council and the International Free Press Society hosted a “Free Speech Summit” in a Delray Beach synagogue. The event was assembled to highlight the anti-Islamic views of Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who was the featured speaker at the summit. Wilders is the subject of criminal prosecution by the Dutch government for his controversial statements about Islam, such as equating the Koran to Mein Kampf. The court of appeals in Amsterdam has judged that some of these statements may amount to inciting hatred towards Muslims; the act of inciting hatred is illegal under Dutch law. Furthermore, Wilders was barred from entering Great Britain, as a spokesman from the Home Office made clear, “The Government opposes extremism in all forms. It will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country.”

In his introduction to the Free Speech Summit Wilders refers to Islam as a threat to Europe stating that Islam is , “… endangering our history, our freedom, our prosperity and our culture”. He goes on to state that “Islam is not a religion. Islam is a totalitarian political ideologue. Islam [sic] heart lies at the Quran, and the Quran is a book that calls for hatred, that calls for violence, for murder, for terrorism, for war, and submission…We should also stop pretending that Islam is a religion…the right to religious freedom should not apply to Islam”.

Also present was state representative of district 87 and leader of the Republican party in the Florida house, Adam Hasner. Hasner is also listed as a sponsor of the summit. From all observation this is not Hasner’s first sign of involvement with blatantly anti-Islamic elements. In 2007, he hosted a showing of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West”, for state legislators.

He has also attempted to block Florida Muslim Capital Day, sponsored by Council on American-Islamic Relations. In an e-mail he sent to several Jewish lobbyists he attempted to organize opposition to the event saying, “By now, I can’t imagine you haven’t heard about this upcoming lobbying day for Muslims in Tallahassee…Do you all intend to be part of an information campaign in opposition to it?” He has since claimed that this attempt to block the assembly was not part of an action against Muslims, but rather against the organizing group’s leader stating that the, “well-documented ties that this group’s leader has to organizations that are affiliated with terrorist groups such as Hamas”. Hasner has also gone as far as to leave the floor of the legislature during the first prayer given by an Imam, only to return as soon as the prayer ended.

Written by jackofspades83

May 26, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Orlando May Day March Highlights Immigration Trends

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Orlando, Fl. – Over 100 immigrants, workers, and students gathered on lake Eola in downtown Orlando this May Day to call for changes in United States immigration policy. The focus of the march was to call for an expedited, easier path towards citizenship and to protest what the marchers considered to be discriminatory and harsh measures being taken by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division. Under the hot Floridan sun, the assembled crowd were treated to a host of speakers assembled by organizers from the Farmworker Association of Florida, who spoke to the assembly in a combination of English, Spanish, and Creole.

The speakers ranged from religious figures, union members, immigrants, to community members. Some of the speakers present were farmworker leader Tirso Moreno of the Farmworker Association of Florida, Bishop Thomas Wenski of the Orlando Catholic Diocese, John Barriales of Orlando Peace and Justice, Joyce Hamilton Henry of the Central Florida ACLU, Bill Smiley of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, and Victor Torres of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. Topics ranged from the strong desire of immigrant peoples to become an acknowledged and respected part of American society, to the aggressive actions of ICE a branch of the department of Homeland Security formed under former President George W. Bush. Speakers reinforced concerns being echoed nationwide about that department’s indiscriminate arrests based on discriminatory assessments made by officers, workplace raids conducted without warrants, indefinite detention, and extralegal exportation.

An other topic discussed by the speakers was that of a piece of legislation currently being debated in the US legislature known as the DREAM act. The DREAM act would allow a path to citizenship to an estimated 65,000 students who were brought to the US as children, in exchange for two years of higher education or military service. A young lady identified to the crowd as Elizabeth, a potential candidate for such a program, spoke of the hardships she inherits from being brought to the USA, being unable to work while having to pay twice the tuition compared to other Florida residents. She reminded the assembled crowd that, “…we were raised here, we are Americans.”

The march was short and peaceful, around Lake Eola with virtually no interference from law enforcement or counter-protesters, the latter of which was represented by a single sign baring individual who left before the march began. Although a large crowd by the standard of Orlando area activists, it was no comparison to the May Day march three years ago in 2006. Amidst that period of anti-immigrant hysteria, the same organizers were able to galvanize well over 25,000 marchers into the streets, shutting down downtown Orlando for the duration of the event.

Such a grand difference in turnout can be explained by the dramatic change in the executive and legislative branches of US government and in the ever deepening economic recession. The high water mark of the immigration debate of 2006, and a major factor in generating the historic response of the immigrant community, was then House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner proposed legislation that among other provisions would have made undocumented immigration a felony and those assisting undocumented immigrants a subject of prosecution. It is difficult to imagine similar legislation having the same potential for passing in the current legislative climate.

While immigration remains a hot-button issue, there are signs that the fervor over immigration may be dying down. In addition to the change in the makeup of the federal government, the worsening economy has taken a particularly hard toll on undocumented immigrants. The collapse of the housing market and the attendant construction sector has harmed this segment of American society far more harshly than the documented population. According to a recent report from Pew Hispanic Center, (a project of the Pew Research Center) from 2006-2007 the income of non-documented households fell by 7.3%, where as the average for Americans was a decline of 1.3%.

It is difficult to determine at this point the exact drop off in undocumented immigration resulting from the heavy blow to the construction industry, but all indications are that immigration has decreased substantially in recent years as a direct result. The focus being moved away from immigration may turn out to be a blessing to the marchers and their supporters, as their reforms face less impassioned defense from anti-immigration elements no longer galvanized by record high immigration. What is certain is that the future efforts towards reform by those who attended the rally will not be easy task.

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Originally published in the People’s Weekly World.

Written by jackofspades83

May 22, 2009 at 3:05 pm