Tag Archives: politics

Occupy: A New Purpose for Catsignal

You see the new category here at Catsignal: Occupy.

Since I first relaunched Catsignal as a place to share my writing, I have been almost relentlessly apolitical. By and large, I have restricted my occasional political or social observations to my stories because this is a writing blog, and that is a time-honored method of bringing concerns to people’s attention.

That has changed. The unconscionable attacks against peaceful protestors in the Occupy Movement, the use of riot police, pepper spray, batons, beanbag and rubber projectiles against American citizens who are exercising their First Amendment “right of the people peaceably to assemble, to petition their government for a redress of grievances” cannot be ignored.

Catsignal is not going to become the go-to source for all your Occupy Movement news; this remains, first and foremost, a writing blog. But I will repeat – for the sake of doing what I can from the hinterlands of a red state – word of the outrages so that you, too, may be outraged. That you, too, will speak out. That you, too, will do what you can where you are to make a difference.

“Fear not your enemies, for they can only kill you. Fear not your friends, for they can only betray you. Fear only the indifferent, who permit the killers and betrayers to walk safely on the earth.”
– Edward Yashinsky

OT: Labor Day

The official unemployment number came out Friday: 9.1 percent. That’s 14 million Americans without work. Not counted are the underemployed who can’t make ends meet or the people labeled as discouraged workers, more than 200,000 unemployed people who have tried so hard and for so long to find a job that they’ve given up, at least for now. The Congressional Budget Office does not expect the unemployment rate to fall below 8 percent for two more years and says we won’t see 5 percent unemployment until 2017. Further, mass layoffs – when 50 or more workers lose their livelihoods at once – rose 3 percent in August.

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Fiction: One True Man

“Let me be certain I understand you,” the president said. “You are arguing against prosecution.”

“Yes, Mr. President,” he said.

“Even though we have clearly identified the lawbreakers and have ample evidence to prosecute and gain convictions.”

“Yes, Mr. President,” he repeated.

“You’ll need to explain why again.”

“Mr. President,” he began, “I firmly believe it is in everyone’s best interest to simply move on from this point; my colleagues and I all agree on this. We don’t wish to wallow in the past. The people are tired of this matter and want to put it behind them.”

“How can we possibly do that?” the president cried out.

“Mr. President, those at the top who organized it all are gone. There is, obviously, a new administration in power and we know that similar things will not happen. To hold these people accountable for the things they were ordered to do would be unfair. They were doing their jobs to the best of their abilities, and even though matters went much further than any of us would have wanted, prosecutions won’t change what has happened.”

“What about the simple, old-fashioned concepts of law and order and justice?” the president demanded.

The other man sighed slightly. “Sir, those are very high-minded ideals, but many of us believe following them blindly is not pragmatic at this time. These men who could go on trial were among the brightest and most capable. If we prosecute them, it will send a signal that government service is dangerous and no place for bright, capable people.”

“These men have lied, have sanctioned torture, and have had people killed. That doesn’t deserve a response from our legal system?”

“Mr. President, we greatly fear that any prosecution could establish the precedent for a new administration taking revenge on the previous one every time there is a regime change. It would be politically destabilizing.”

“The people we’re talking about prosecuting deserve their day in court to plead their cases,” the president replied, “and the rest of us deserve to see that no one, no matter how highly placed, is above the law. Tamper with that and you tamper with the foundation of civilized society.”

“Mr. President, again, these are fine ideals, but…”

“But nothing!” the president fumed, and he slammed his open hand down on his desk. “I’ve had enough of your bullshit! The trials will go forward, as scheduled, in Nuremberg. And I hope I never again see the day when any official of the United States would shy away from our sacred responsibility to justice. Get the hell out of my office!”

The defeated bureaucrat slunk out of the Oval Office in the direction Truman’s finger pointed.

“How do people get into government without understanding its most basic functions?” Truman mused. “I can only hope this pusillanimous attitude doesn’t spread.”

Fiction: Disengagement

Pvt. Richard Graham was eager to get aboard the ship, as were the others in his company. The trip home wouldn’t be pleasant, of course, but staying would be far worse.

They stood silently at attention, waiting their turn to embark. Graham’s eyes kept straying to the various residents of the town who regarded him with hatred and disgust. Some few smirked at him and his fellow soldiers, and on occasion a youth – or an old man – would hurl a taunt in their direction.

Graham’s heart was heavy. He had been sent across the ocean by his government to do a job. It was in the vital interest of the nation, and he was proud to wear his country’s uniform.

But the job hadn’t turned out well. The enemy was supposed to have been easy to deal with. Instead, the foe showed himself far more clever and deadly than anyone had expected. He hid behind anything and everything that could give cover, launching sneak attacks, shooting, maiming, and killing, and then running away. Graham had seen both friends and respected officers die.

Then the letters came, making it clear that back home the political situation had changed. There were protests in the streets over the mission Graham and his fellow soldiers were on; it was costing too much money and too many lives, and what good was it doing? The government was in turmoil. Soldiers returning home were openly criticized for having done their duty.

Graham sighed quietly. He denied the war had been lost; the government simply discontinued it. But he was going home in disgrace to a civilian populace that would jeer at him – both for having fought the war and for not having clearly won it. There seemed to be no justice.

Finally, Graham’s company was called. He boarded the Royal Navy ship, turning his back for the last time on the city of New York and the independent United States of America.