The Thunderbolt 040314 Getting Randy


Action Alert Calendar

The Thunderbolt!!!

News — Commentary — Calendar of Activist Events — Dumb Jokes


1) FYI Section: Rethinking Prisons Month
2) Works in Progress Writers Group
3) Move to Amend Monthly Meeting
4) #Not1More Deportation and Hunger Strike Support Rally
5) Media Island Benefit Brunch
6) Capitalism and Racism: Implications for an Anti-Racist Agenda
7) Jen Marlowe and Kimberly Davis Discuss “I Am Troy Davis”
8) Bonus Tip of the Week

Getting Randy

Getting Randy

Hey Kids!

As far as I can tell the entire foundational structure of Libertarianism is based upon the writings of — a novelist.

Yes, they are basing their real world worldview upon literal fiction.

The novelist in question — Ayn Rand — was an amazingly talented author. She might even be called genius. Her books are deep, well-written, exciting, and the worldview expressed there is compelling…

But it is fiction. The people aren’t real. Ms. Rand created a universe wherein the rich people are all strong moral and imminently proficient people who refuse to compromise on ethics or principles. Almost everyone in her novels who isn’t an enlightened rich person is at best a slimy squirming parasite upon these wise rich people and at worst they are a major impediment to the rich’s efforts to save humanity from itself — especially people from the government.

Libertarian philosophy is based upon the idea that if all the peons and all the governments would just get out of the way then these ancient wise men and women would save us from ourselves.

Actually, of course, anyone who tried to play Wall Street’s game with ethics and principles would immediately be eaten. Real rich people — the .01% — are not only parasites but they are mega-parasites. They live off stealing the wealth created by working people — not the other way around — and they have no ethics or principles to compromise to begin with so that is not even an issue. Most of them inherited their wealth from some progenitor who probably stole it from someone else, so they started off on third base thinking they had hit a triple.

Yet the Libertarians represent my own worldview far more than either the Democrats or the Republicans do. As for their standard-bearer, Ron Paul (who named his son ‘Rand’ after you-know-who), I would vote for him 100 times before I would vote for Barack Obama once.

Charles Davis writing in Counterpunch put it much better than I ever could:

As someone who sees the electoral process as primarily a distraction, something that diverts energy and attention from more effective means of reforming the system, I don’t much care if people don’t vote for Ron Paul. In fact, if you’re going to vote, I’d rather you cast a write-in ballot for Emma Goldman. But! I do have a problem with those who imagine themselves to be liberal-minded citizens of the world casting their vote for Barack Obama and propagating the notion that someone can bomb and/or militarily occupy Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Libya and still earn more Progressive Points than the guy who would, you know, not do any of that.

Let’s just assume the worst about Paul: that he’s a corporate libertarian in the Reason magazine/Cato Institute mold that would grant Big Business and the financial industry license to do whatever the hell it wants with little in the way of accountability. (I call this scenario the “status quo”). Let’s say he dines on Labradoodle puppies while using their blood to scribble notes in the margins of his dog-eared, gold-encrusted copy of Atlas Shrugged.

So. Fucking. What.

Barack Obama isn’t exactly Eugene Debs, after all. Hell, he’s not even Jimmy Carter. The facts are: he’s pushed for the largest military budget in world history, given trillions of dollars to Wall Street in bailouts and near-zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve, protected oil companies like BP from legal liability for environmental damages they cause – from poisoning the Gulf to climate change – and mandated that all Americans purchase the U.S. health insurance industry’s product. You might argue Paul’s a corporatist, but there’s no denying Obama’s one.

And at least Paul would – and this is important, I think – stop killing poor foreigners with cluster bombs and Predator drones. Unlike the Nobel Peace Prize winner-in-chief, Paul would also bring the troops home from not just Afghanistan and Iraq, but Europe, Korea and Okinawa. There’d be no need for a School of the Americas because the U.S. wouldn’t be busy training foreign military personnel the finer points of human rights abuses. Israel would have to carry out its war crimes on its own dime.

Even on on the most pressing domestic issues of the day, Paul strikes me as a hell of a lot more progressive than Obama. Look at the war on drugs: Obama has continued the same failed prohibitionist policies as his predecessors, maintaining a status quo that has placed 2.3 million – or one in 100 – Americans behind bars, the vast majority African-American and Hispanic. Paul, on the other hand, has called for ending the drug war and said he would pardon non-violent offenders, which would be the single greatest reform a president could make in the domestic sphere, equivalent in magnitude to ending Jim Crow.

Paul would also stop providing subsidies to corporate agriculture, nuclear energy and fossil fuels, while allowing class-action tort suits to proceed against oil and coal companies for the environmental damage they have wrought. Obama, by contrast, is providing billions to coal companies under the guise of “clean energy” – see his administration’s policies on carbon capture and sequestration, the fossil fuel-equivalent of missile defense – and promising billions more so mega-energy corporations can get started on that “nuclear renaissance” we’ve all heard so much about. And if Paul really did succeed in cutting all those federal departments he talks about, there’s nothing to prevent states and local governments — and, I would hope, alternative social organizations not dependent on coercion — from addressing issues such as health care and education. Decentralism isn’t a bad thing.

The fact that a nutcase like Ron Paul compares so favourably to the president of the United States is very telling.


Lying Politicians

I diss on the government a lot more than I do the banksters even though the banksters are the real enemy and the government is merely their tool; I focus a lot on the government because the government is something that we can actually do something about.

Speaking of…

Do you remember how Obama and Holder will occasionally crow about Wall Street criminality even as neither man has ever done the first thing about it? Have you heard Mr. Holder talking a lot about all the effort the JD is putting into mortgage fraud by the big banks?

Surprise, surprise! A new internal Justice Department report that has leaked said the following:

…we found mortgage fraud to be a low priority, or not listed as a priority, for FBI Field Offices in the locations we visited, including Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York.

One of the perpetual frauds that the big banks have been employing in their little orgy of theft is that since many of these loans have been sliced and diced and shuffled around so much, the banks often cannot prove that they actually own the home they are kicking the family out of; however, the families need to hire a good lawyer to prove that the bank doesn’t actually own the home so they usually get away with it.

However, Wells Fargo — at least — wants to better the odds: With very inconvenient timing, recently revealed internal memos from those good old dependable bad boys at Wells Fargo appear to provide step by step guidance to their lawyers on how to fabricate any required documents that may be needed in order to ‘prove’ they own the home they want to foreclose on!

I’m shocked!

Since this has become public, it’s time to really whack Wells Fargo’s pee pee but good: They will now receive a token fine that represents a small fraction of the profits they made from this practice and no one will go to jail even though they stole billions of dollars from homeowners.

Meanwhile, poor people in California are serving life sentences for stealing pizzas.

And, I don’t want to overload you with too many shocking revelations all at once here, but I’m afraid that Eric Holder — the Attorney General of the United States — has lied to us.

No, Joe! Say it aint so! He’s the head law enforcement officer for the whole country! If you can’t trust him then who can you trust? This is almost like learning that Santa Claus is a pedophile or something — but I’m afraid it’s true: Mr. Holder claimed to have filed lawsuits on behalf of homeowner victims for losses totaling more than $1 billion.

It turns out that the actual amount was around $95 million.


To save you some math time, that is 91% fewer lawsuits than what the good Mr. Holder told us he had filed.

Must have just been a math error.

Besides, sending money from Wall Street to working people is the complete opposite of what Holder does (he is an ex-Wall Street layer after all) so maybe we should be content that he even went after that $95 million…


Dr. Wes on Gentrification

Now that the precedent of printing other people’s columns has been set and now that I spent all my time this week producing an epic radio show (you can tune in at 106.5 FM if you are downtown tomorrow [Friday] morning at 8, Friday evening at 7, or Saturday morning at 8 — or if you’re not downtown then you can stream it at ) then I am going to reprint a column that appeared in the March 5th edition of Real Change. Dr. Wes Browning writes every week for Real Change and he has become one of my favourite writers ever. While I pride myself on viewing the world through ironic and sarcastic coloured glasses, Dr. Wes is a Master of this particular art and in this piece he drives a stake through the very heart of gentrification like no one else I have ever heard…

Spike Lee’s family bought a house in Brooklyn in 1968. His dad’s been playing guitar in it since then. And last year new neighbors called the police on him for being too loud. He wasn’t too loud for 45 years, but now the neighborhood has been gentrified, and he’s all of a sudden too loud for people who just showed up. Mr. Lee’s recent recorded rant on this subject uses a lot of choice present participles, and I can’t blame him.

I’ve had my own brush with gentrification. I’m mostly over it now, so I can begin to speak of it without curling up in the fetal position.

My first home in Seattle was the house my father’s father had built. When my dad was born the family lived in Auburn. By the time dad started school, the family had moved to a wooden house on Seattle’s Beacon Hill, and dad lived there while he was growing up. Then, while dad was away careering, first in printing and then in soldiering, grandfather had a new brick house two addresses down Beacon Avenue. It had a 50-by-100-foot lot in back that was home to rabbits plus various trees including an apricot, a pear, a plum and an apple. By the time I saw it, when I was 6 years old, my relatives had eaten the rabbits.

When my father retired from soldiering we ended up living in the brick house with the lot, and as a result I went to the same schools my dad did and sometimes even had the same teachers. Since my father was a famous straight-A student, this led to amusing expectations. For example, my first English teacher at Cleveland High School was Mr. Snyder who, hearing my name and studying my face, said, “Browning, you wouldn’t happen to be John Browning’s son, would you?”

“Uh, yeah…”

“Oh my.”

He could have saved that “oh my;” it wasn’t applicable. I was not the model student dad was.

Still, I got into a graduate school and tried my own careering. Then, circumstances brought me back to the brick house where my parents died.

All this time, our Beacon Avenue neighborhood was working class and one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the U.S. The median strip set the tone. For about three miles, Beacon had a wide dirt strip down the middle that residents and visitors used as a parking lot. There’d be old rusting cars out there. The kids’ hot rods would be out there. Commercial truck drivers would park their semis out in the strip while liquoring up at the neighborhood bar.

But just as I got back, some people were getting it in to their heads that Beacon Avenue wasn’t pretty enough. So they set about prettifying it. In particular, they landscaped the strip, putting in curbs, grass and trees to make Beacon into a beautiful boulevard.

I’m sure it’s wonderful living on Beacon Avenue now. Congratulations to the people wealthier than I was who managed to hang on to their homes through all that prettification. I hope they like my old neighborhood, my schools and my former backyard as much as I did.

I’m happy where I am now, but I hope and pray every day no one comes and makes it prettier than I need it to be. I’m tired of being displaced by people with more money.

The word “gentrification” is so appropriate. It doesn’t say “improvement,” as well it shouldn’t. Gentrifying isn’t about improving a neighborhood, viewed as people. It’s about using development to attract a gentry into a neighborhood viewed only as a place, so that money can pour more freely into businesses at the expense of the dispersed former population.

The real neighborhood made of the former inhabitants is no more. Not improved; just dead. Like I say, I have colorful adjectives for this situation, but I’ll leave them to all your imaginations.


Well said, Dr. Browning.

It’s time to get to work…
The Thunderbolt Calendar
Week of April 3rd thru 9th 2014

1) FYI Section: Rethinking Prisons Month

Prison issues are starting to gain traction. Good. They need it. There is a series of events happening at TESC throughout April.

April is “Rethinking Prisons Month.” Many actions are planned at The Evergreen State College and elsewhere in Olympia and beyond: The U.S. imprisons more people (2.5 million) and more persons per capita than any other nation in the world. Another 8 million people in the U.S. are under some form of correctional supervision, including parole, probation, house arrest, etc. Several Evergreen-based organizations are organizing these and other events at TESC during April.

2) Works in Progress Writers Group
Thursday April 3rd at 5:30 PM @ Traditions Café, 300 5th Ave SW

It’s the monthly meeting of the Works writer’s crew. Plug in with our local social justice monthly.

From WIP:

[WIPworkers] WIP Writers’ Group meeting this Thursday

Hey all, the Writers’ Group meeting is this Thurday, April 3, at Traditions, 5:30 pm.

We will be less one person this month because Jordan will be at an open house in Seattle for all those who have been accepted into the University of Washington’s Masters of Social Work program! Yay Jordan!

Look forward to seeing everyone (minus one). Sylvia

Works In Progress
PO Box 295
Olympia, WA 98507

3) Move to Amend Monthly Meeting
Thursday April 3rd from 6:30 to 8:30 PM @ Thurston Co. Courthouse, 2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW, Building 1, Room 152

The Supreme Court just ruled that there can be no limit on campaign contributions. Thank goodness the fascists always push the envelope too far — because otherwise there would never be any push-back.

Move to Amend is the push-back.

From M2A:

Olympia Move to Amend Meeting
Date: Thursday, April 3, 2014
Time: 6:30PM – 8:30PM
Short Description: Join us to get money out of politics and reclaim our democracy! We will be helping to collect signatures for WA’s I-1329 to overturn Citizens United.
Location: Thurston Co. Courthouse, Bldg. 1, Rm 152
2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW
Olympia, WA 98502
Contact Information: Michael Savoca: savocas[at]fairpoint[dot]net

Please join us! Our meetings are currently scheduled for the FIRST & THIRD Thursday of each month.

We will be planning events to increase awareness of our movement and to educate our friends and neighbors about what we can do to reclaim our democracy. It IS possible and we ARE going to do it. Our group is open to all political beliefs, because this is about all Americans–not just conservatives or progressives or moderates, but all of us: WE, THE PEOPLE. We must work together to get money out of politics and return to a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”.

We will be helping to collect signatures for WA’s I-1329 through June 2014. I-1329 urges our state’s Congressional delegation to propose amending the Constitution to clarify that Constitutional rights apply to natural persons not corporations and to authorize greater regulation of political contributions and expenditures. For more about I-1329 see WAmend’s website at .

Some of the other organizations that are working toward a similar goal to overturn Citizens United include — and we welcome members of these groups to join us: WAmend, Wolf-PAC, Public Citizen, People for the American Way, Sum of Us, Represent.US, Free Speech for People, StampStampede…

We the People, NOT We the Corporations
On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions.
We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights. (

“The Story of Citizens United v. FEC”
WATCH and share this short video (under 9 min.) which explores:
>the inordinate power that corporations exercise in our democracy,
>the history of the American corporation and corporate political spending,
>the appropriate roles of citizens and for-profit corporations in a democracy, and
>the toxic impact the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision is having on our political process.
It ends with a call to amend the U.S. Constitution to confirm that people—not corporations—make the decisions in a democracy.

SIGN! Motion to Amend the US Constitution: Reject Citizens United:

SIGN! Corporations are not people:

Priceles$$ The Movie: A Call To Action For Campaign Finance Reform

We keep trimming the branches of the tree, but we really need to get at the root of the problem… Watch Pricele$$: (56:15)

4) #Not1More Deportation and Hunger Strike Support Rally
Saturday April 5th at 12 PM @ Northwest Detention Center, 1623 E J St, Tacoma, 98421

It’s a rally in defense of the courageous hunger strikers at the NWDC.

From April 5th Call to Action:

Everyday more than 1,000 people are deported. It is predicted that in April, 2 million people will have been deported by the Obama Administration. The President can take concrete, bold and necessary actions TODAY to turn back the deportation dragnet.

National Day of Action
April 5th
Calling on Obama to End Deportations Now
Come to the Northwest Detention
(1623 E J St, Tacoma, WA 98421) 12noon – 5pm, Rally at 3pm.

We will be there starting at noon. Here’s the schedule:
12noon to 1 sign and art making
1pm-2pm workshops / teach-ins
2pm-3pm march
3pm-5pm rally

For more information about what is happening on a national level check out the NDLON’s web page

5) Media Island Benefit Brunch
Sunday April 6th from 11 AM to 2 PM @ Media Island, 816 Adams St SE

It’s the monthly brunch at Media Island! The Island’s partner in this month’s brunch will be Friends of Public Power, who plan to be back again in the next election trying to get public power for Thurston County.

From Media Island:

Good Eats, Big Ideas, Community Values

You are invited to April’s Media Island Brunch, a monthly get-together to build community and benefit a worthy organization. This month we honor Friends of Public Power, dedicated to increasing public understanding and support for public power in our community.

Join us Sunday, April 6th from 11 to 2:30 for a fine meal, prepared by renowned local chef Brian McDonald. Brian emphasizes direct-sourced local foods and is an acknowledged ‘eggs benedict expert’.

Or get-together will also feature a talk by noted energy expert Jim Lazar: “Shifting Energy Paradigms: Focus On Communities”.

Sunday April 6th from 11 to 2:30
Media Island World Headquarters
816 Adams St SE (Next to Timberland Library)
$10 to $20 sliding scale

6) Capitalism and Racism: Implications for an Anti-Racist Agenda
Wednesday April 9th from 7 to 9 PM @ Traditions Café, 300 5th Ave SW

Come hear from local activist/ Evergreen professors about our problematic financial system.

From Economics for Everyone:

Final part of the January 8th workshop–“The ABCs of Capitalism–in a series promoting economic literacy and inviting dialogue and discussion on inequality and the on-going crises of capitalism.

No economic background required!

Facilitated by Savvina Chowdhury & Peter Bohmer (members of the economic faculty at The Evergreen State College)

7) Jen Marlowe and Kimberly Davis Discuss “I Am Troy Davis”
Wednesday April 9th at 7 PM @ Orca Books, 509 4th Ave E

Troy Davis was executed for something he probably didn’t do.

From Orca Books:

Orca Books is proud to welcome Jen Marlowe back to the store on this April evening. Jen will be discussing her new book I Am Troy Davis. Davis was put to death by the State of Georgia in 2011. Joining Jen will be Troy Davis’s sister Kimberly.

The evening’s talk is being co-sponsored by The Fellowship of Reconciliation and ACLU-WA.

On September 21, 2011 Troy Anthony Davis was put to death by the State of Georgia. Davis’ execution was protested by hundreds of thousands of people across the globe, and Pope Benedict XVI, President Jimmy Carter, and 51 members of Congress all appealed for clemency. How did one man capture the world’s imagination, and become the iconic face for the campaign to end the death penalty?

I Am Troy Davis, coauthored by Jen Marlowe and Davis’ sister Martina Davis-Correia, tells the intimate story of an ordinary man caught up in an inexorable tragedy. From his childhood in racially-charged Savannah; to the confused events that led to the 1989 shooting of a police officer; to Davis’ sudden arrest, conviction, and two-decade fight to prove his innocence; I Am Troy Davis takes us inside a broken legal system where life and death hang in the balance. It is also an inspiring testament to the unbreakable bond of family, to the resilience of love, and that even when you reach the end of justice, voices from across the world will rise together in chorus and proclaim, “I am Troy Davis,” I stand with you.

Reviews for I Am Troy Davis:

“Essential for those interested in the U.S. justice system in general and the death penalty in particular.” —Library Journal, Starred Review

“Here is a shout for human rights and for the abolition of the death penalty. This book, I Am Troy Davis, should be read and cherished. It will inspire courage in the heart of those who are willing to use their efforts to save lives and increase the quality of life for all people.”
—Maya Angelou

“Martina and Troy are heroes from a family of heroes. This story of their lives is also a call to action. It asks each of us to pick up where they left off by ending the death penalty once and for all so the risk of executing an innocent person is finally eliminated in America.”
—Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO, NAACP

“Read this book, about Martina Davis-Correia and Troy Anthony Davis. The lives of this sister and brother were tragically cut short, one by cancer, the other through a cruel injection of a lethal, chemical cocktail in the final act of a profoundly unjust criminal justice system. This book captures their unflagging courage in confronting the challenges thrust upon them. More than history, more than eulogy, I Am Troy Davis is an urgent call to action.”
—Amy Goodman

“Like Trayvon Martin’s monumental murder, the execution of Troy Davis was a historic awakening for this country — an awakening of the deadly consequences of white supremacy. Don’t miss this book!”
—Cornel West, Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice, Union Theological Seminary

“I Am Troy Davis is heart stopping proof that the death penalty didn’t just kill an innocent Troy Davis and break and bury his gorgeous family, but it charred the soul of America. This book will devastate you, piss you off and then inspire you to work with your life to end the death penalty forever.”
—Eve Ensler, Playwright and Activist

“In this moving and intimate portrait of Troy Davis and his courageous family, Jen Marlowe restores to Troy his humanity, and reminds us why every life matters, and why capital punishment makes this country a pariah among the world’s democracies.”
—Gloria Steinem

“I Am Troy Davis is a painful yet very important book, one that will bring you face to face with the human impact of the death penalty system, prompt you to think deeply about the flaws in our criminal justice system, and inspire you to stand with all those who have been wrongfully placed on death row.”
—Susan Sarandon, Actor and Activist

“Martina Correia’s heroic fight to save her brother’s life while battling for her own serves as a powerful testament for activists.”
—Liliana Segura, the Nation

“I Am Troy Davis, takes readers on the journey of a remarkable family whose faith, love, integrity and convictions propelled their fight for their loved one and a larger cause. Jen Marlowe’s careful and sensitive collaboration with the Davises has yielded a narrative that will surely inspire readers to pick up the torch that Martina Davis Correia so bravely carried for social justice and human dignity with every ounce of her being and every day of her life.”
—Laura Moye, Amnesty International USA Death Penalty Abolition Campaign Director Emeritus

“A Must Read Book – the searing, heartbreaking story of a strong and loving family caught in the vortex of a dysfunctional criminal justice system.”
—Anne Emanuel, Georgia State University Law Professor and ABA Georgia Death Penalty Assessment Chair

8) Bonus Tip of the Week:

Un-gentrify a neighborhood today.




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