2011-10-14 / Columnists

The Progressive

Some Random Thoughts
Commentary By John Paul Culotta

On Wednesday, October 5, I was with a few friends in Foley Square with the Occupy Wall Street activists. We felt that the media and maybe most of my fellow American citizens felt that there was no clear concise message. This was far from the truth. Occupy Wall Street was started to make clear that the fraud, financial chicanery, savage unencumbered capitalism is an evil that destroys lives and spirits. Increasing income inequality, wars that are futile and never-ending; and the chutzpah of the bonuses and golden parachutes for those who should be shamed, fired from their positions, or in jail were the catalyst for the demonstrations in Zuccotti Park. I spoke to the young men and women, who I feel in many ways are to be admired, and their criticisms are bipartisan. Democratic politicians including our president were criticized as were the Tea Party and the GOP. What is so amusing is the attacks on the First Amendment and the arguments used by our politicians to terminate the demonstrations.

Our police, I feel, are given conflicting orders depending on the desire of a mayor who is more concerned with im-plementing programs to eliminate poverty without listening to the poor and the Wall Street leaders who now find it important to help fund the police force. As a New Yorker I welcome the funds since the financial district is a prime target for both foreign and domestic terrorists. We must make it clear to any contributor to the police force that their contribution gives them no input on how the force will be used. Republican politicians are claiming the Occupy Wall Street and the Democrats are waging class warfare. I have a few questions for all of us to ponder. Isn’t cutting essential programs to the poor, elderly, disabled not class warfare? Isn’t refusing to pay the same tax rate as your administrative assistant not class warfare? Accepting government subsides for profitable enterprises when deficit reduction is your mantra is not class warfare?

In recent days it has become dramatically apparent for union activists that the Republican Party is set to destroy and eliminate collective bargaining in this nation. Democratic governors and mayors are using the financial crisis to weaken unions. Our Democratic Party stands up for unions private and public only at election time. Unions’ funds, sweat and labor is welcomed at election time but, in fact, the New Democrats want support without delivering any substantial benefit to the movement. Democrats love unions – weak unions.

There is considerable pressure to free convicted spy Jonathan Pollard because he served a considerable amount of time in jail and was spying for an allied friendly nation. There is no question of misjudgment or unjust court procedure or miscarriage of justice. Many Tea Party congressmen who state they are tough on crime are advocating his re-lease. Could political expediency be the reason?

Religious intolerance, including Moslem intolerance, should be considered an un-American activity. And 50 years after John Fitzgerald Kennedy was challenged because of his Catholic faith, in the Republican primaries candidates of the Mormon faith are now being challenged. There is no provision in our constitution that provides a religious qualification. Remember the rumors of Obama’s Moslem faith? Why are we subject to this nonsense?

On October 7, 2011, the tenth anniver sary of the Afghan invasion, in Kabul there was a demonstration requesting the NATO occupiers leave. That same day all across this nation there were pray-ins, and demonstrations asking for quick retreat from occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. In Times Square, veterans of World War 11, Korea, Vietnam, Dessert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan spoke out for retreat. Family survivors of victims of September 11, Congressmen, City Council members and clergy joined the calls. Military campaigns in Afghanistan have always left empires prostrate. We need the precious millions spent each day at home. Bring the men and women home!

The archdiocese of New York should be castigated for the unfair, unjust contract that the Catholic school teachers are being sent to ratify. Calling for affordable health care for all has been the message of the bishops nationwide. Increasing health insurance premiums at a rate that can be considered draconian for these poorly paid professions. Shame!

Our governor and the governor of New Jersey will be appointing a new chairman for the Port Authority. Mismanagement at the building sites at Ground Zero has caused enormous toll increases on the PA bridges and Path Trains. We need a chairman who can bring creative mass transit alternatives that can supplement economic growth for these increasingly connected regions. People in Queens or the Bronx may be able to find employment in New Jersey or vice versa if traveling times and costs were reasonable, for example. Our Metropolitan Transit Authority needs also to connect our region effectively, efficiently and economically.

Our billionaire mayor claims a desire to eradicate the causes of poverty with programs that are dedicated to keeping disadvantaged African American and Hispanic men in school. This is a worthy goal. At the same time, he opposes a living wage bill that is in the City Council. Nothing eradicates poverty better than a job that pays a living wage.

I have recently viewed a few documentary films that I want to recommend. “Inside Job” explains the financial crisis in an entertaining and informative manner. “Casino Jack, The United States of Money” explores lobbying and political corruption. “The Man Nobody Knew” is about the CIA and American involvements in foreign countries. “If A Tree Falls” is an intriguing examination of corporate violations of the environment and a violent campaign of the Earth Liberation Front. “Prohibition” by Ken Burns is a historical examination of America and how religious and ethnic differences changed our constitution twice. “Climate of Change” examines how mountain top mining and corporate disregard for the earth and indigenous peoples is effecting climate change. “Food Inc” is an exploration of industrial farming and the disastrous food delivery system. Listeria and e-coli outbreaks are more prevalent because of how our food is delivered to the supermarkets and our tables.

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