Oakland, Occupy and Oligarchy

Tonight is a pivotal moment for me. Up until now, I did not fully align myself with the Occupy Wall Street protests. I sympathized with many of their sentiments and complaints, but I had reservations about the movement because it was and remains very nebulous. There is no specific solution they are fighting for other than general change, and there are vehement disagreements inside the movement about how to achieve that redress of grievances.

Then, after a particularly distressing night of work, I was making my usual rounds of ye old Intarwebs when my Twitter feed started to explode. YouTube videos of tear gas and rubber bullets erupting into a standing crowd started pouring in, along with signs of solidarity from across the country. A blatant violation of our constitutional rights occurred in Oakland, Calif., and President Barack Obama was fundraising just 10 miles away.

Many arguments about how the protestors were warned have already been made, but they are moot. The people pay for the police to protect them, not to use violence against them because a governmental body decided they had enough of peaceable assembly. No matter which side of the fence you are on, the taxpaying people own the streets -- not the city, not the state, not the federal government. In America, law-abiding adults are free to be outside their home at any hour they choose. The First Amendment is very explicit:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

There is no ambiguity here. These people were not rioting. They were standing in a public space with their peers, causing no harm to person or property -- and they were met with violence by the people they pay to protect them because a government of few had a rapid change of opinion and decided it no longer wanted the protestors to be where they were. For weeks, cities and counties have found ways to declare the protestors' actions illegal to try to hamper and dissuade them, but they are not stopping.

For the first time since these demonstrations began, I hope they don't stop. I may join them this weekend, consequences be damned. I have largely used my employment as a journalist as an excuse to stay away from the protests to avoid creating a perception of bias for the company I represent, but I love this job because it serves the people by providing a service that is crucial to the maintenance of freedom. I now believe that our basic freedoms are under assault. The only solution to this is to remind those sitting in our elected offices who they serve. They have gotten away with not having to listen to us for too long.

I think a few fundamental concepts are escaping the majority of those in power right now.

Firstly, a peaceful population is not necessarily a passive population. Just because we have the moral fortitude not to shoot at and burn those with whom we disagree or disapprove of, that doesn't mean mass discontent is any less threatening. Countless moments in history -- even current events like the Arab Spring -- have repeatedly shown that the will of people cannot and should not be suppressed. Especially not by force.

Secondly, the people of this country do not exist to maintain the government and companies within the borders. Both are supposed to serve us. They exist to perform services we, the people, either request or demand -- but we do not need them, and it is getting to the point where we don't want what they're serving us. They must remember that and adapt or perish, because at the end of the day, the Wall Street protestors are fighting for the American Dream. For the chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. With the way this country seems to be going, this movement might be that reverie's last stand.

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could be worse

It's not baseball's fault TV programming is retarded...

Wow. That was a really weird experience. Chrome logged me out of LJ, and then told me I needed to create an account and didn't have the log-in prompt at the top of the screen. Did I mess up something with all my browser-hacking, or is this a problem others have experienced of late?

Anyway, this week has been arduous, to say the very least. Nearly every work day has been an 11-hour one, and it's because of baseball. It's been interesting because the game usually eats our 5 p.m. broadcast, so I have a LOT of time to post more web content beyond just reporter scripts and tweak the website. That's been fun and informative, and y'know what? I thought we were going to have a miserable week pageview-wise because I figured without the newscast, people wouldn't see stories they wanted to share or would just flake on the news for a day or two. Not so! I raked 15,000 more than the totals for 4 weeks ago and 52 weeks ago today, and I feel like a web champion.

Buuuuut it also means our programming schedule has been totally jacked. Prime time shows are getting pushed back, and so is our broadcast. That means we don't get off air until after 11 p.m. Thus, I don't get to leave until hella late because our video capabilities are crippled on good days.

It also means I constantly have to deal with people asking questions about why we don't have the updated schedule posted on our website. The answer for this is because this shit is -- literally -- done on the fly. We don't know when the show will start, because we don't know if there will be extra innings or a rain delay or whatever else. We don't know until the game starts whether FOX is going to bump its prime time line-up to follow the game or not. We are flying by the seat of our pants, people. It's exhausting.

In other news, I have pretty much decided that this weekend I will buckle down and CLEAN ALL THE THINGS. I will hit the grocery store and pick up some yarn for what I think will be my next Super Fun Project That Might Even Make Me Money. I'm going to make a kids' scarf with "pawkets" and a matching hat with cat ears. I figure if it turns out well, I'll take pictures and put it on Etsy as a will-make-to-order item and then give the first-draft to Holly and Corey's little Lydia. Then, I will make one for quirky adults like me.

Also, you're welcome for this.

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Let's rally up in this piece....

So, I have decided that I need to revive my journaling practices. There are many reasons why I feel this will be beneficial, and mostly I miss it. I miss my el jay friends, and I miss writing just to write it out, y'know?

I have several things I plan to do in the coming months, and I'm really excited about them. Here's just a few:
  1. I'm going to do more music reviews. I really enjoy it and I want to get better at it.

  2. I'm performing music again. My friend Laurel and I went busking for the first time last week, and we brought in 50 bucks. It was the most fun I've had in a long time, and I can't wait to practice more and get better.

  3. I'm crocheting again, and doing more complex patterns than I've ever tried before. To my great surprise, I'm actually really good at it. Soon, I will be adding a Victorian handpurse to my Etsy store -- along with dread falls.

  4. I'm going to get back to work on my novel. It will be a slow return to it, but I fully intend to attack it during November.

Life has the potential to be really awesome if I come flying out of the gate with this. I just need to find the balance and not get overwhelmed by the overlapping projects.

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Minnesota's Siren Song

OK. I know I've been woefully negligent about updating this and believe me, I am sorry. It has, in recent months, been the source of significant strife. BUT! By now, most of y'all should know me AND know that I am quite prone to avoiding things that make me feel guilty or less-than-adequate, and I hope you'll forgive me for continuing that undoubtedly irresponsible trend.

THAT SAID. I've had something of a revelation tonight. Lately, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about where I came from and how much it fucked me right up and how lucky I am to have escaped that miserable hellhole mostly unscathed. Tonight, however, I saw at least six Facebook statuses from friends I made in Minnesota that have moved away and are coming back for visits soon -- and all of them are followed by exclamation points and much rejoicing.

Here's the thing: Minnesota saved me. I'm not even close to joking. I ran away from Wisconsin as fast and as far as I could for my means when I graduated high school. I met lovely people who proved to me that life is not only filled with death, self loathing, addiction and crippling depression. In fact, it's full of the beautiful manifestations of nature and deep, honest conversation, genuine care, and a desire to share experiences through mutual interests and discuss them later at great length.

I don't understand exactly why the culture here is so different from the one that is -- essentially -- just four hours away on a good day without construction delays, but it is. Vastly, and to a point that it sometimes feels like the border between the two goes far beyond geography.

I'm still not sure quite why that is. We speak the same language and carry many of the same traditions, but the social approaches and experiences available to be had are markedly different. I sometimes think it seems almost ungrateful for me to say it's better, but my experience tells me that it really just is better. I used to refer to myself as a Wisconsinite who expatriated, but now I really think of myself as a Minnesotan, even though I was not raised here and the majority of my life was spent living elsewhere.

Still, even though I haven't left yet, I think I know why people are excited to come back and why they appreciate it as much as they do. I know I'm not going to spend the rest of my life living here, even though I do, genuinely, love it. I can feel the end coming slowly, and within a few years I expect I'll probably be in Colorado or on a coast because my soul wants mountain ranges and ocean tides. When that happens, I know I'll visit, and I'll doubtless have the same enthusiasm as those who are returning now.

Minnesota is marvelous. I don't know that I'll ever be able to adequately sing its praises, but it's kind of a humble, self-aware sort of state so that's totally OK. It's beautiful, it's entirely honest if you don't have a problem with passive-aggressive politeness, and it's rich with diverse cultures, food, music, art and education. Most of what I've learned here never came from an institution, even though I learned a metric shitton at the U of M. I learned survival in Wisconsin, but I learned acceptance, admiration without jealousy, community pride and true resourcefulness -- interconnectivity and the benefits thereof, that is -- here. In this environment, I was able to acknowledge who I was, to love myself without anyone else's approval and find dozens of friends who love me for me, not just what I can provide them.

The thing that struck me tonight was that I don't ever feel anything but relief, peace and excitement when I return to my home in Minneapolis. I honestly didn't believe in the concept of home until, well, probably 10 minutes ago. I've thought of myself as transient, as taking "home" with me in my body and mind, never anchoring it to a place because -- in my experience -- a place is not truly permanent or safe. Now, I realize that's not true anymore.

Never once have I felt manipulated by someone here, or felt used for personal gain. Sure, I have been consulted for advice. I have had friends ask or attempt to bribe me for help, but they've always been upfront about it and I've also had many offer me help unbidden. In fact, I've had friends hunt me down just because I hadn't talked to them in awhile and they were concerned, which was totally new to me. The honesty here is pervasive.

There is truth to be found here, and maybe that's why I was drawn here in the first place. Whatever siren song brought me to these shores, there's something special about this place and I now know that no matter how far I wander, I will come back. Everyone does. We can't help it, and we don't really want to.

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On Wisconsin...

I can honestly say I have never been more proud of my home state as I have been this week. Citizens who care are taking to the streets to engage their government peacefully and stand up for what they know to be right. Their voices are being heard on a national stage. This is how the system is supposed to work.

Unfortunately, just because that's how it's supposed to work doesn't mean that it is working. This is the most shocking part to me. As an elected official, when your constituents demand something -- like, say, compromise -- you give it to them. The Republicans -- in Wisconsin and the rest of the country -- are patently refusing to do so and hamstringing themselves in the process.

What's both sad and amusing to me is the fact that the only reason the Republicans came back this year was because of the Tea Party, who claim to want government by the people for the people. The Republicans said they would give it to them... but really they're just dishing out the same old serving of Republican way or the highway.

Take the union battle in Wisconsin, for example. This is very clearly not a big, urgent budget battle. Minnesota's deficit is two times bigger than Wisconsins', and our GOP has said this kind of fix isn't going to work and isn't a good idea. If it where super-critical, Walker wouldn't tell the unions -- who offered to accept his cut in pay to retain their bargaining rights -- to shove off and that there will be no compromise.

I'm sorry, but what part of "My shitty plan is the only option you have" doesn't sound like a dictatorship? Does Scott Walker not realize that he works for those people? What about the U.S. Reps. that are quietly passing bills while the vast majority of citizens are out trying to enjoy the weekends the labor unions fought so hard for?

Oh yeah. In case you didn't hear about that, in the wee small hours of the morning, the Republican-controlled U.S. House passed billions in cuts to benefit coal and oil companies while most Americans were either sleeping or drunk. Passing things on a Friday is something you do when you don't want anyone to know about it, and you just hope it goes unnoticed. It's something you do when you want to get away with something that you know the people aren't going to like. It's shady, it's not a open and involved process, and it's not how democracy is supposed to work.

So, what's the silver lining of what is effectively becoming a government hijacking by one party? Well, hopefully -- people will realize that no, these people really don't care about the Americans they serve. They aren't serving their people. They are ignoring their people because they are so convinced of their own initiatives for their own reasons. Can you tell me how abortion is a critical discussion to have right now when most Americans just want jobs? No, you can't -- and neither can they. I hope that -- sooner rather than later -- people will wake up and won't stand for this. They'll fire people like Walker who refuse to do the job they were elected to do, and the American people will start calling bullshit and give tyrants the boot once again.

The depressing part of all of this is that it isn't probably going to change en mass soon. We're just entering a new term, but already the true colors are showing. Closed-door votes. Deliberate attacks on organizations that tend to have Democratic favoring. Of course, the Republicans will tell you it's for a budget, or for families, or for whatever -- but it's not. They're doing it because it's what they want, and they will refuse to compromise even though it's the decent thing to do.

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