My Response to the Mean-Spirited “Barack The Magic Negro”

I can understand parody, but after listening to the song itself (“Barack The Magic Negro”), that parody is hateful and racially tinged. It truly undercuts the whole point of satire, which is to make light of the situation. The song has been widely condemned even by high-ranking RNC officials — so what does that really say? The 2008 presidential elections showed us that Americans have rejected that sort of vile negativity. This kind of stuff is what is going to keep the Republicans away from holding power in government.

Ochs Nation
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Los Osos: Fighting Mistruths, Hate With Hate

Earlier this afternoon, I received an e-mail from someone who sent a link regarding AES chair and Reclamator inventor, Tom Murphy. It was an article written by Daniel Blackburn from CalCoastNews.com entitled, “Reclamator inventor sues water resources establishment.” It’s a good read, but what caught my eye were the comments on the article.

“Tom Murphy is crazier than a sh*t house rat!” writes Judith Reilly, wife of Taxpayers Watch supporter Don Bearden, on October 31st. She later calls Murphy a “wack job con man” and a “pathological liar.” She wraps up her defamatory mud-slinging by saying, “This is why no one in Osos believes anything you say.”

So what if Tom Murphy is that fraudulent “snake-oil salesman”? With hostility like that, Judith, not a lot of people in Los Osos are going to believe anything you say.

It’s troublesome.

In Los Osos, I’ve seen a lot of heated exchanges both online and offline. The mud-slinging that goes on anonymously on places like Calhoun’s Cannon is profound to say the very least.

When it comes to the world outside of the computer, I sense a lot of tension and hatred. It’s usually never addressed because people start pointing the finger, shouting, “You started it!” on the top of their lungs like a bunch of unruly children on a school playground. Civility is downgraded to a mere facade until someone speaks up. That’s when civility becomes undermined by violent, demeaning antics.

I couldn’t forget the antics of one poster (Wonky1) who compared my father to Abe Vigota with anti-semitic undertones during the 2006 LOCSD candidacy and implying that he was also a crossdresser in lyrical form. These comments would be made in between jokes about boycotting The ROCK and using it as an underliner for pavings. When those comments were pointed out to me, I laughed. I didn’t take offense to them, but the negativity was incredible, and I’m thinking, “They can’t be serious… are they?” Before I could ponder about that question, a post was made by a user, MoveBy2010, on the same message boards who threatened to “take out [the family] in the back alleys of Venice.” That post was deleted before I could salvage it for legal reasons.

Around the time those comments were made, an issue of The ROCK was released with an ad of my graphic design business. Shortly after the issue was released, I received a call on my cell phone. The ID was restricted. I answered and I heard the voice of an elderly man with a southern drawl. I remember him saying to me, “You advertised with The ROCK. You’re going to be boycotted! The town will reject you!” After saying that, he hung up immediately. After hanging up the phone, I took a long sigh and realized that Los Osos has a very, very serious problem.

Perhaps I was part of the problem.

A few years ago, I spoke almost regularly at LOCSD meetings, said that Pandora Nash-Karner should step down as the imaginary board member on the pre-recall board. The night I spoke, we received a call from someone who was seemingly in a drunken stupor who was argumentative on the phone.

Earlier that year, I said that Stan Gustafson was dishonorably discharged for his misconduct as the CSD board president. It was more of a rhetorical jab than pulling rank, but Gustafson would later confront me at a hearing of Measure B at the Vet’s Hall and shout, “Don’t you ever f*****g say s**t like that again, got that?!”

I’m not vindicating myself of any role I’ve played, but I will say that whatever I’ve brought to the table was hardly as vindictive as the comments I’ve received — and what business do they have threatening a 20-something college student anyway? There’s one thing that is undisputed: I hit a nerve.

That’s all it takes. It takes one comment, one viewpoint, one perspective to create a firestorm of hatred, slander, defamation, malice. In Los Osos, we don’t see scholarly debates anymore. In Los Osos, we don’t see anyone saying, “I disagree.” In Los Osos, we don’t see people taking a step back and think, “Hey, maybe I should tone it down.”

Granted, the wastewater project is something that affects people greatly especially when the costs are now projected at $250/month, but we still need to keep our wits in-tact as well as our heads.

Questions Remain?

This morning, I was informed of a video that has surfaced on YouTube. The video was produced by the RNC, attacking Obama for not fully disclosing his ties to now-disgraced Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.

Seriously, it’s getting stale.

Political ads are suppose to highlight actual fact instead of posing a number of questions that have yet to be answered. The “Questions Remain” ad never says that Obama wouldn’t answer the questions of the investigation, but that questions linger despite the fact that Obama’s relationship with the governor has been thin at best.

Long-time observers of Obama and Blagojevich including Mike Flannery of CBS Chicago had said that the two men have been a part of the Illinois political landscape for years, but that doesn’t mean they have close ties.

“I don’t recall them collaborating closely on anything — not on a piece of legislation, not on a campaign,” said Flannery on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show.

Rahm Emanuel had spoken to Blagojevich regarding possible replacements for Obama’s seat, but there was no deal-making or indication of illegal conduct. Emanuel reportedly gave the governor a few names for his consideration.

On December 5th, Obama transition team co-chair John Podesta released a “Seat at the Table” memorandum that proactively encouraged transparency, which would allow the public to know everything that the public ought to know about, but some feel that the message behind the memo was swept under the rug when the media pressed Obama with questions.

However, Barack Obama has shown willingness to be open with the American people.

First, he condemned Blagojevich’s actions and asked him to resign from his post. Second, Obama said he would launch an investigation to see whether members of his transition team conducted questionable business with Blagojevich. Lastly, the investigation is ongoing and the Obama team is withholding comment until they can do so without ramifications — but people are demanding answers out of him so vigorously.

Dan Spencer of the Right Side Politics Examiner is one of many who have stated that Barack Obama has “failed” in displaying transparency.

The GOP has created an unrealistic demand for transparency as in the transparency that they seek, not what Podesta was talking about. The idea of going up to Obama and saying, “We want to know everything right away because you promised!” is to undermine the sanctity of the ongoing investigation. There are other elements that are being unraveled throughout the investigation. Once the dust clears, that would be the time to be forthcoming — not now.

Let’s see what happens first.

Blagojevich and Corruption

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) is really in for it now.

I’m sure many of you have tuned in to watch the latest developments regarding the investigation of Blagojevich. A little more than a month after America witnessed a historic election, which turned a relatively unknown figure from the Illinois senate into the 44th President of the United States, the governor of Illinois is arrested after a federal investigation uncovered a horrifyingly huge amount of corruption that was going on.

Like Blagojevich, people cannot resist the temptations of power and then continuously pursue the faulty idea that they are invincible and everything is hush-hush. After the investigation is brought into the public spotlight, those who engaged in corruption never show remorse or reflect on what they’ve doing. Politicians never say, “Looking back, I shouldn’t have done that.” Instead, they smile, wave, and wait for a time — that is convenient to them — to resign. Often they’ll hire lawyers to wiggle them out of serving jailtime without issuing an apology or showing signs of regret.

Blagojevich said he was “blindsighted” by the news and sources close to Blagojevich said he needed time to digest everything before making a decision to resign. This is also coming from the same guy who said, “If anyone wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead,” on the day before he was arrested partly based on conversations that were taped.

According to the Washington Times, 62.6 percent of people polled said that they “strongly agree” with the statement that political corruption is mainly responsible for the current U.S. financial crisis. After the financial crisis is publicized, to see something like this happen is disheartening, but not surprising to the American people.

When people like Blagojevich are in the news, faith in the system crumbles. Many of us will grumble about it in the midst of our busy, daily lives, but slowly America comes to a boiling point. There will be an uprising of disobedience and rebellion against the government on a wider scale if we don’t advocate more aggressive internal investigations against corrupt practices.

Interestingly enough, even though Illinois has its share of problems with corrupt public officials, there are other states that have even more convicted public officials. According to the New York Times, their study uncovered that Florida had the most convicted public officials followed by New York, Texas, Pennsylvania and California. Like all the other states on the list, the corruption that we find out about only scratches at the surface, the tip of the iceburg. Most of the time, the corruption is deeply rooted and widespread; going against the grain is complicated.

According to FBI statistics released last spring, more than 1,800 federal, state and local officials were convicted of political corruption within the last two years. The amount of cases has risen 51% since 2003. In everyone’s mind, they’re probably thinking that there are more corrupt officials out there than what we see publicized.

One problem is that we’re not seeing enough scrutiny in the media. It’s talked about once in a while. The media tends to pick at feeds from the Associated Press and Reuters to give people the meat and potatoes of what’s happening in the news, but rarely does it address the issue of corruption in an investigative fashion. There’s virtually no insight into the legislature that unmasks motivations. Why did Blagojevich veto a recent ethics law that limits the impact of money in Illinois politics? Why aren’t politicians doing enough to curb Illinois’s laws that make unlimited donations possible?

The media is also responsible for turning the political arena into an issues vs. image argument. In light of the current economic crisis, Barack Obama’s mild-tempered but firm handling of the issues pertaining to the economy made Americans feel safer. If the U.S. economy wasn’t in a recession and bailouts were out of the question, it would be politics as usual. “Don’t vote for the black guy. Vote for a POW!” There wouldn’t be questions regarding ethics or views.

According to Dan McCaleb of the Northwest Herald, despite the fact that three-time Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards had been indicted more than a half-dozen times on political corruption charges, voters went to the polls and elected him for his fourth and final term. In light of the fact that Edwards opponent was David Duke, a known white supremicist and a high-ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan, voters chose to “vote for the crook.” Before the 1991 election, Edwards had a southern charm that warmed and wooed Louisiana voters into voting for him three times before.

But in 2001, Edwards was convicted by a jury of accepting bribes in exchange for Louisiana gaming licenses while serving his final term in office. Despite being pressed on charges prior to his fourth term, Edwards didn’t learn his lesson. He was overcome with power and greed and had a false sense of security, which lead him to excess and that excess ultimately led to his downfall. Edwards had become “defiant to the point of delusional,” wrote McCaleb.

There has also been a severe lack of enforcement other than the feds. Normally we don’t see the state’s attorney indicting someone like the governor or political associates that are close to the attorney professionally. There aren’t a lot of checks and balances found on the state level. It’s frightening to see that there’s a lot of paralysis in government when it comes to holding public officials accountable internally. The government has become addicted to loyality and cronyism so much so that many people, who engage in those practices, don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s like an alcoholic who denies that they’re addicted to alcohol. In all cases, there needs to be some sweeping reform or rehabilitation to bring people back on track.

Corruption in our country, while religiously veiled in non-transparent bureaucracy, is just as rampant as corruption around the world. We have more white-collar crime cases than the amount of political corruption cases found in third-world countries, nations and societies that show no signs of progressive reform such as Cambodia, Taiwan, Nigeria, and Venezuela.

We, the people, the voters, need to push for more ethics reform instead of leaving it up to the potentially corrupt individuals in power to define what ethics mean to them. As Californians, we have the right to create change through voter initiative since writing letters to our congressional representatives is no longer effective. If change comes from the bottom up, so be it. Rod Blagojevich has demonstrated to us that we need to be proactive when it comes to addressing the problem instead of complaining about it without coming up with a solution.

Obama Pledges Massive Public Works Program (VIDEO)

I appreciate Barack Obama’s plan to launch a public works program, but I believe that there needs to be reform in the area of public works efficiency and affordability. He needs to pose the question to all Americans, “How can we establish reform while instating qualitative public works projects that are also affordable?”

In my hometown of Los Osos, the County of San Luis Obispo, California wants to instate a $165 million wastewater project for a town of 15,000 people whose median income (of those who will be paying for the sewer) is around $40,000. Our monthly sewer rates will likely quadruple because of this expensive project when there are dozens of other kinds of wastewater treatment that could help us for far less while keeping our environment safe.

I hope we can reach out to Barack Obama to correct these problems because we are hurting, America is hurting, and many Americans are struggling to put food on the table so that their children can eat.

Ochs Nation
http://ochsnation.blogspot.com

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LOCSD Meeting (12/4/08) Commentary

The district of my hometown is now approximately $50 million in debt. Our district, which represents and services 15,000 residents, has been spending more pork than a one-day session of Congress. Thanks Lisa and Julie.

When the community voted for you, they voted because they felt that (1) you would fight for an affordable wastewater treatment project out of town and (2) you would keep the wastewater treatment project in the district as that was well within the spirit of Measure K, which initially formed the LOCSD in 1998. Instead, you go the opposite direction. You stopped the initial project and you kept asking, “What do we do next?” without a solid plan for years until last night.

You guys broke several promises made to the community of Los Osos when they reached out in support.

As a parting gift, you wrote a letter that the County will eventually throw into the shredder. “Please, O mighty County Gods, give us an affordable sewer!”

When we were assessed, the County interpreted the assessment as the community waiving the significance of their opinion. Remember when District Supervisor Bruce Gibson called it an “overwhelming mandate”?

I’m frustrated.

How come I get it and you don’t? How come the community gets it and you don’t?

Hunting in a Residential Area?

Two days ago, my family was walking our dog down this relatively vacant stretch of the bay, which is a few blocks away from the house. While we were walking, we overheard what was apparently some gunshots fired in the distance. A woman, also walking her dog, mentioned to us how appalled she was to discover that people were hunting duck around the neighborhood. Adding insult to injury, just under a mile away is a bird sanctuary (Morro Bay Estuary) that sits next to the residential area.

This morning, I woke to more gunshots fired and it suddenly jogged my memory. Two years ago, around the same time, I found some bullet casings in the empty lot next to my house. I looked at them carefully, wondering where they were coming from and how they ended up there. Now I know.

The woman we spoke to the other day said they have filed petitions against the duck hunts and sent them to the California Department of Fish and Game only for them to reject the petitions and say the hunting was perfectly legal. Perfectly legal? Since when is shooting a gun in a residential area perfectly legal? I can come up with all sorts of hypotheticals that are reasonably possible. There are people walking their dogs, children are playing, there’s traffic going up and down the street — and if a bullet strikes someone, what’s the department going to say then? “Sorry, stray bullet. It’s legal.”

Maybe it’s one of those things where they only take action if something actually happens. That reminds me of all these laws passed in government that were based on tragedies that could have been prevented if those kinds of laws were enacted before the tragedy.

I was born and raised in the Los Angeles area for 12 years and hearing gunshots there wasn’t uncommon, but here in this small community full of families who are within firing distance? It’s very unsettling. One of the reasons I moved away from the area was to avoid being shot — and this is what I wake up to in the morning?

Also, we live in the middle what is supposed to be a protected habitat for wildlife. To say that people are allowed to hunt ducks just a few inches away from a bird sanctuary is picking and choosing. What’s to stop hunters from “accidentally” shooting an egret or a blue heron? Where is the enforcement that approaches hunters with fines and handcuffs for being so negligent of their neighbors? I believe we ought to have answers.

I urge concerned individuals to call the Central Region of the California Department of Fish & Game at (559) 243-4005 regarding this problem. The person to speak with would be Regional Manager Bill Loudermilk.

I will be calling them today and will post an addendum to this blog tomorrow around the same time with the results of this conversation. I will be going through the necessary channels before petitioning for a California voter initiative.

New Layout, New Attitude

Ochs Nation had been using a very ordinary blog template. A couple of readers e-mailed me about the font type being too small and the readability wasn’t so great. I uploaded a new template and made some tweaks to it. Now if you want to post a comment, you need to look right under the headline of my blog entry post.

I’ve received a few e-mails about The ROCK lately so without further ado, I’ll address the issue at hand.

As most of you know by now, The ROCK has been on hiatus from printing and uploading new content. The truth of the matter is that we’ve been busy gearing up for January 2009. The ROCK will be redesigned with a broader spectrum of issues covered. We’ve received lots of support from the community of Los Osos and we humbly appreciate all of it.

This blog will also become integrated with the site and the URL will change, but you will definitely be informed in advance as far as when the changes will happen.

Chris Matthews: Obama’s Diverse Cabinet Like “Many Faces Of Benetton,” “Clearly Representative Of America”

The problem I have with this segment with Chris Matthews is that Joe Scarborough starts to talk about race in the end as if everything Obama does has some racial undercurrent. In reality, I think that Obama went with people who were definitely qualified while maintaining a diverse administration, not to split up the “white guys” to make the lineup look “more American.” What is Joe talking about?

Ochs Nation
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