They tell tourists, families and anyone who will listen: The U.S. is perpetrating war crimes and has murdered over a million innocent people for no purpose at all.
Their message is simple: The United States commits acts of terrorism, murdering innocent women and children in support of a War Machine seeking only oil and profit. They do need help setting up displays and props, so if you are a high school student simply bring your paperwork and they will help you meet your community service requirements for high school graduation.
“They” are the Veterans for Peace Los Angeles chapter, and their display is called Arlington West. If you wish to help them set up, for community service credit or not, you need to be on the beach just north of the Playland Amusement Park at the Santa Monica Pier by 6:00 AM Sunday morning. Set up just a few yards from the ferris wheel and the Tilt-A-Whirl and a constant stream of families with children of all ages, Arlington West has been a fixture on the beach every Sunday since February 15, 2004, weather permitting.
The most eye-catching part of the display is a field of 2500 red and white crosses arranged in neat rows, exactly like a cemetery. There are seven wooden boxes draped with US flags to simulate coffins. There are signs, anti-war books and newsletters, and dozens of graphic photographs of burned and maimed Iraqis and Americans.
Yes, war is hell. But we already knew that. So what’s the point?
Part One of a Five Part Series
This book explains a lot.
Saul Alinsky was a radical activist who taught Barack Obama how to manipulate the foolish and distracted masses – wrote out detailed instructions exactly how to do it, step by step. Alinksy’s words showed Obama how to create and exploit distrust between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” how to smear political enemies, and how to “organize” a community for fundamental change.
It was Alinsky who taught today’s “progressives” not to call themselves socialists or Marxists. If you must identify with a movement, he advised them, call yourself a progressive. Do not advocate socialism – that word scares people. Advocate “fundamental change.”
Andrew Breitbart realized that conservative activists and citizen journalists can benefit from this book in two ways: we need to understand the tactics of the Left in order to defeat them, and we need to adopt their tactics in order to turn the tables and use their own methods against the Left.
I visit Dealey Plaza and check out the infamous “picket fence.”
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 is a tragedy carved into the conscience of almost all American adults, even those with no personal memory of that day. I visited the scene of this vile crime on a Monday afternoon in March nearly fifty years after it happened and found over a hundred persons present, at least three of them weeping.
Despite the grim nature of the event, pedaling conspiracy theories that supposedly refute the government’s finding that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole gunman has become a cottage industry, with several people making an income selling conspiracy related books, photos and DVDs. And then there is Oliver Stone’s 1992 movie JFK, a popular film that made no bones about its thesis that President Kennedy’s murder was a right-wing plot, and “proved” it using actors and props and special effects and lots and lots of innuendo.
A right-wing plot? Well, sure. At the time, there were organizations that the press had labeled “right wing extremist” (the John Birch Society, for example – the “Birchers”) who strongly opposed some of President Kennedy’s foreign policies, particularly the way he dealt with the Soviet Union. Others opposed the president’s support for civil rights (automatically winning them the label “right wing,” according to the media) and others didn’t like him being president while being a Catholic.
And we all know that these “right wing” types are naturally violent, don’t we?
So imagine President Kennedy taking a trip to Dallas Texas. In the eyes of the liberal press, “redneck” country. A place where right-wing kooks and extremists roam free, many with guns. The president insisted on riding past crowds of screaming people, screaming Texans, in an open-air vehicle.
And then the news breaks: the president has been shot.
He will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science degree from a well-established university. He was raised in an upper-middle class household and his mother is a college graduate and a teacher. So why did he did not know China’s form of government?
Interview one graduate? What can we hope to learn from that? This is not a scientific survey!
Standard surveys can be useful, but they are one-dimensional and deadly dull. They aggregate pre-selected responses to pre-selected questions and often blur rather than clarify the nature of who or what is being surveyed. Provided some basic rules are followed, random selection interviews with some open questions can reveal much that you can’t pick up from a survey.
And College Graduate X was a random selection, without any particular characteristics that would make him stand out from his peers. He is twenty-two years old and was raised in a quiet upper-middle class suburb. He is Caucasian, and his father owns a successful business. His mother is a graduate of a northeastern university and as a teacher she has instilled in her family the value of education. X has two younger brothers, one in college, and a younger sister. He has played intramural sports but has not held a job while class is in session.
College Graduate X has spent the last four years as a full-time student at a university that has been in operation for more than eighty years. It is located in an urban area and has more than 24,000 students. His degree will be a Bachelor of Science in human services, with a minor in psychology.
He is a liberal activist who opposes the tea party and Sarah Palin. He has been taking his viewpoint to the streets of Santa Monica for thirty years. Isn’t that like preaching Catholicism at the Vatican?
His name is Jerry Rubin. No, not that Jerry Rubin, the high-profile 1960′s radical who co-founded the Youth International Movement (Yippies) and was charged with incitement to riot. That Jerry Rubin died in 1994. But the Jerry Rubin who today occupies a display table almost every weekend on the popular Santa Monica Third Street Promenade is an ideological brethren of the original – and he once knew not only the notorious Jerry Rubin but Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden as well.
Once again, my curiosity got the better of me and I struck up a conversation with Jerry one fine, sunny Southern California Saturday afternoon. The bumper stickers go for two dollars a pop, I was told, but the ones that mention Sarah Palin are free.
I’d wager you never had a conversation with a homeless person. But if you did, what do you think they’d say to you?
On Thursday I spoke with Robert. I got an earful. Wait until you hear what he has to say about President Obama.
Why did I do this? Curiosity. The liberal press writes a lot about homelessness (at least when there is a Republican in the White House) and it is often used as a bludgeon to pound home the idea that America is a heartless land with no place for anyone without commercial value. It’s not possible for me to do a scientific study of the nature and causes of homelessness – or even the degree of pain or suffering these folks experience – but I could talk to one and see what he has to say. That’s only one data point, sure – but it’s a raw and unfiltered data point, unconcerned with political correctness or spin.
When I was in college, I hit the road in the summers when the dorms shut down, thumbing rides for thousands of miles with just a backpack and a sleeping bag. Not the same as truly homeless, but it was a taste. One of the things I remember is the striking generosity of my fellow Americans. I once tried to go to sleep in what I thought was an empty lot but what turned out to be someone’s back yard. They insisted I sleep on their living room sofa. A family in a van with two young children picked me up on the highway and plowed me with junk food. I jumped on a city bus, tried to point some coins in the box and the driver blocked it with his hand and told me to sit down.
Would someone who is permanently homeless have similar memories?
This is what $5.00 gasoline looks like. Over $5.00 in fact . . . way over.
I took this photo 4:00 PM today at Santa Monica Boulevard and North Crescent Drive. There was a line at every pair of pumps, but no one seemed to mind when I dashed away from my vehicle to snap the picture. It was history in the making.
Why call it “ObamaGas?” Is it truly President Obama’s fault that retail gasoline prices are at historic peaks? In fact it is not his fault, and even the Wall Street Journal agrees. However, current gas prices – and President Obama’s statements responding to them – do a terrific job illustrating the relationship between prices, policy, and presidential rhetoric.
Under the capitalist system, the free market determines prices. As demand increases, price increases. But higher prices are an incentive for producers to produce more. Supply increases. An increasing supply holds prices down. As the supply increases prices drop and this causes the producers to decide they have produced enough, for now.
That’s the way it’s supposed to work.
If you re-examine the first paragraph above, do you see the word government mentioned anywhere?
My mission: Discuss my health problems honestly and without misrepresentation with a medical doctor, and find out whether medicinal marijuana would be a medically sound option for me.
I’ll spill the beans right now: they said it was a medically sound option.
In 1996 California voters passed the California Compassionate Use Act, which removes criminal penalties for the personal use possession and cultivation by patients who have a physician’s recommendation and approval. This was a referendum, a direct action from the voters that did not require passage by the California legislature.
I’ve always been curious about this matter. The word on the street was that these “cannabis dispensaries” would give just about anyone over eighteen years of age a prescription for medicinal marijuana for just about any medical condition known to modern science, including having a pulse or breathing in and out.
Was that true, or just a myth?
One windswept Sunday afternoon here in southern California, I decided to find out for myself. I did learn a lot, and I had some fun too, and after my physician interview one of the clerical assistants took me into a room alone and told me directly, “You are the strangest person who has ever been in here.”
I think you will agree, to be told those words inside a Venice Beach marijuana clinic is quite an accomplishment.
First, the legalities. Medicinal marijuana is serious business. I was extremely careful never to tell anyone at the clinic any lies about my purpose or intent or my state of health. I was there to find out whether a medical doctor would recommend medicinal cannabis to help me with a couple of medical problems I was having – problems quite real, not invented or exaggerated. I was there with an open mind, to learn the possible side effects from a real doctor. I already knew for a fact that marijuana would help my lower back pain and sleeping difficulties. All of the information I provided was accurate and complete – I did not deceive anyone. I wanted to be 100-percent sure I was not committing a crime by obtaining medicinal marijuana under false pretenses.
I did not blurt out the fact that I would write an article about the experience. But they didn’t ask.
I visit Santa Monica, California, one of the most liberal towns in America, and ask passersby a simple question regarding President Obama.
It’s a fairly common broadcast news standby: the vox populi (latin: voice of the people) “man on the street” interview, an unrehearsed answer given by an unselected member of the general public. Under journalistic standards, this does not even constitute a meaningful survey – after all, the participants are not truly random and unselected - they are self-selected, a huge bias.
A bias, in Santa Monica. Bias squared. I couldn’t resist.
Is there a point (besides fun)? Yes. Straight surveys, the kind we see on cable news channels – Rasmussen, Gallup, Zogby – give us statistically precise answers to carefully crafted questions. But we only get a number. The information we can garner from that number is as limited as a one-dimensional point. Our brains are designed to process complex, multifaceted data intuitively – and that includes fleeting information impossible to capture in a Rasmussen poll, however “scientifically” vetted: facial expressions, a pause, a question before the answer, body language. Despite the inherent unscientific and nature and tiny numbers of the vox technique, we may see and hear what Gallup didn’t tell us.
Hint: It’s not the image portrayed by the mass media.
Most folks with a modicum of sense would keep clear of the “Occupy” encampments that have cropped in in our major cities since last year. There have been violence and mayhem, robberies, even reports of sexual assaults – so why take the risk of entering an encampment and taking photos?
In a word: curiosity. The riots aside, we have been told by our newspapers and broadcast news outlets that the purpose of the Occupy Wall Street camps is to protest widespread financial corruption – the very malfeasance that led to the financial crisis that began in 2008 and continues to this day. Was that the whole story? I was curious, and I wanted to see for myself.
We’ve seen and read interviews with polite, all-American grandfatherly types of protesters explaining their goal of improving the honesty and level of responsibility on Wall Street and in Washington DC. That’s reasonable, isn’t it?