Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

This is a video recording of the May Day speech I gave at the lovely and historic Wright Park in Tacoma, Washington State, to a rally organized by Occupy Tacoma and others. This park is a beautiful patch of green in the middle of an urban area, quite close to downtown.

For those of you in other parts of the world, Tacoma is west-coast port city and is quite close to the northwest corner of the United States. At the time of our May Day rally, we experienced what was typical weather for this time of the year here in Washington State (For those of you not familiar with American geography, Washington State is not the same place as Washington DC, the USA capital, thousands of kilometers away).

We had periods of sun and warmth, then rain, and even a bit of ice, followed by warmer sun. The sky looked spectacularly dramatic, a mosaic pattern of clear sparkling blue patches intermixed with other patches of dark clouds, sometimes with bright fringes. The scents of spring floated in the air, wafting up from the many trees, plants, flowers and the moist good earth under our feet. Eddies of chill wind whipped around us, stirring up nature’s perfumes, and then the air would be still and warm. One minute, the sun shown brightly, and then just seconds later, a big black cloud would obscure the sun. As I gave my speech, we went through spots with sun and still air, followed by spots of icy rain, followed by brisk cool breezes, and then more warming sun embracing our faces.

At the time of our May Day rally, the hospital workers had had an informational picket line at several nearby hospitals, and many of those picketers had taken some time off to come to our rally. And before our rally, many of us Occupy Tacoma supporters and friends had joined the hospital workers in their picket line to show our solidarity. After our rally, many of us attended their union rally at a nearby church, and it was quite inspiring to hear these workers talk about their situation and their plans.

I support those workers. My wife spent her last days in one of those hospitals now being picketed, and the workers were super, making every effort to make the last days of her life as comfortable and pleasant as possible. She was very grateful to them.

Representatives from other unions attended our rally and walked with the hospital workers on the picket lines as well, and supporters and members of Food Not Bombs and Jobs With Justice also came by. We had food cooking, and some homeless people came by and shared a meal with us.

The speech I gave at the rally was a bit different than many of of my other speeches in that I delivered this speech in verse, mostly blank verse. When you see the video, you’ll probably notice that.

The sound recording was a bit problematical at times because sudden gusts of wind whipped by the microphone, muddying the sound, and sometimes the microphone picked up too much ambient noise.

Nevertheless, I’m quite happy with the way this video turned out, despite a few technical difficulties in producing it, and I hope you enjoy seeing my speech as much as I did in delivering it.

I’ve lived a good long time now, and the sudden rise of the Occupy movement, the related European movements, and the movements of young people in Africa, Asia, and our sister countries of the American continents has, in the autumn of my life, warmed my heart, more than I can say in mere words. These wonderful young people have given my soul reason to soar high on the wings of hope and sing a song of the new spring.

To the activists all over the world and here in the USA, thank you for all you are doing to make this a more decent world and to challenge the rule of the 1%. This can be a difficult and tedious process, even irksome at times. But I believe in the end, we will win, and the world will rise on new foundations.

Karl Marx said these interesting words:

When people speak of ideas that revolutionize society, they do but express the fact that within the old society, the seeds of a new one have been created, and that the dissolution of the old ideas keeps even pace with the dissolution of the old conditions of existence.

At this historic moment of history, we are creating the seeds of a new society, and they are sprouting and taking root in the very fabric of the old.

We shall overcome! ¡Venceremos!


Alan OldStudent


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Why did Occupy Tacoma protestors decide to obey the State of Washington’s illegitimate eviction notice and leave Occupation Park? The decision followed an agonizing debate.

This video is of my open letter addressed to the Mayor of Tacoma, the Honorable Madam Marilyn Strickland.  After we departed from the park (which is now fenced off and blocked to any public access), Ms Strickland congratulated us for leaving without resisting Washington State’s entirely illegitimate eviction order. However grateful most of us are that the mayor publicly recognized that we conducted ourselves legally and responsibly, we don’t see ourselves as being more virtuous than other Occupy communities around the country. Moreover, we support 100% our comrades elsewhere, even those who have been the victims of police assault.

This video is my explanation of why Occupy Tacoma is in solidarity with places like Occupy Seattle, Occupy Oakland, and Occupy Portland, and why we obeyed the eviction order.

You may download a printable copy of this open letter by clicking here.



Alan OldStudent
The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living – Socrates

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This is a piece that appeared at the http://www.occupytacoma.org website. People from all over the world come, which is why I go a little bit into who I am and where my city, Tacoma, is.

My name is Alan OldStudent, and I addressed the Occupy Tacoma protestors at Occupy Tacoma’s Occupation Park on Sunday, February 26, 2012, the last full day of the occupation. My address was the last speech given at Occupation Park. By mid day, the authorities had fenced off the park and left an open gate so occupiers could continue to remove their belongings and clean it up.


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Did you know that Martin Luther King was trying to organize an Occupy Washington DC in 1967? He didn’t call it that. It was called “The Poor People’s Campaign.”

  1. What did Rev King say about corporations, about capitalism, about the 99%?
  2. And what advice would he give Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Tacoma?

These are some of the topics I cover in this tribute to Rev King in my video, “What Dr. King Can Teach Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Tacoma.”


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Disclaimer and Fair Disclosure: The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent Occupy Tacoma or Occupy Wall Street. I am not an authorized spokesperson for Occupy Tacoma. ~AOS

Disclaimer 2: These remarks are not meant to criticize the Tacoma Police Department. To my knowledge, so far, Tacoma Police Department has respected the rights of Occupy Tacoma and has limited activities to legitimate public safety and law enforcement.

You can also read this article at Occupy Tacoma website

If, as Justice Brandeis famously said in 1914

“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

Then millions of tiny video recorders cast the disinfecting glare of publicity upon those cops too fond of beating up peaceful protestors. Every time police repress legal peaceful dissent, dozens, even hundreds of YouTube videos of the events tend to go viral on the Internet. And boy, how those misbehaving cops hate cameras!

Rogue cops always have hated DIY photographers, even before the advent of the Occupy Wall Street movement. In fact, misbehaving police and sympathetic old-boy crony networks have been trying to swat those pesky videographer gadflies with their tiny cameras-stingers for quite some time now.

Did you know that videographers who film police activity often find themselves charged with felony crimes, making said movie-makers eligible for prison terms of many years? See below for more details.


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Fair disclosure: The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent Occupy Tacoma supporters. I am a resident of Tacoma, a supporter of Occupy Tacoma, but I’m not an authorized spokesperson for Occupy Tacoma participants. ~AOS

A fellow named Scott, who runs a personal website called A Dad First, had posted several criticisms on his blog explaining his opposition to the Occupy Tacoma and the whole national Occupy Wall Street movement from a conservative point of view. So I posted some responses to these criticisms on A Dad First, which Scott was gracious enough to allow to remain.


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On Saturday, October 29, 2011, I had the honor of addressing a gathering Occupy Tacoma supporters in Lincoln Park, Tacoma. My remarks were a part of a longer statement. Several people asked me to post the entire statement here. Above is a video of the speech as it was presented on Saturday. Following is a full statement, including the parts I left out when speaking, slightly edited to make it suitable for posting purposes. This article was originally published on the Occupy Tacoma Website.

Hello all!

My name is Alan OldStudent, and I love what I am seeing here today. You are great! You are amazing!

In my long life, I have seen many amazing things. I saw how a mass nonviolent movement ended the infamous Jim Crow laws, — laws that legalized racial segregation, — laws that made it a crime to marry outside of your race. And now, I am seeing a how a mass nonviolent movement is ending laws against marrying the person you truly love, even if that person is the same sex as you.


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Mark Twain wrote a scathing antiwar poem/story called “The War Prayer,” which he feared to have published during his lifetime. Decades after his death, this work was published.

I first ran into “The War Prayer” when a young woman sold me a copy at an antiwar demonstration during the Vietnam war. I was struck by the power of its language, as well as by the sentiments.

Several years ago, I found a a very effective YouTube animated version. This version is a bit long, which is why it is split into 2 videos. But it is well worth watching.

Then, just a few days ago while searching for this 2-part video presentation, I discovered a 1981 PBS adaptation of “The War Prayer“ which was part of a larger program on another of Mark Twain’s antiwar stories.

The actor who delivers the actual prayer of God’s emissary puts an experienced hell-fire preacher’s delivery into a decidedly antiwar statement.

The two-video version, which follows Twain’s text pretty much as he wrote it, appears below:


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According to The National Priorities Project, The United States passed a landmark on May 30, 2010. On that day, the United States will have spent 1 trillion dollars on the Iraq and Afghan wars, and on June 7, 2010, the Afghan war will become the longest war the United States has waged.

Moreover, the cost of the war in Afghanistan is currently 1 million dollars per soldier per year, according to this November 14, 2009 New York Times article.

One million dollars is a large number, but one trillion dollars is an unimaginably larger number. It’s easy to gloss over when the politicians and pundits toss around these numbers.

The thickness of a dollar bill is 0.0043 inches. So a stack of a million dollar bills would be about 109.22 meters or 358 feet tall. That’s as high as an office building 30 stories tall, counting a story as being approximately 11.9 feet tall (about 3.6 meters).

But a stack of a trillion dollars would be 63,516.5633 miles (109220 km) tall. That’s 2.5 times the circumference of the earth. That’s what American taxpayers pay for the Iraq/Afghan war. And the champions of small government say nothing about this.

Did you know that the United States just by itself has a military budget greater than the rest of the world’s countries combined? Or did you know the US military budget is more than 10 times  greater than that of either Russia or China’s? (Click here for the documentation of those figures).


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On the Religious Tolerance website, I found the following:

Concerning the Ten Commandments in courthouses and legislatures: You cannot post ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal,’ ‘Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery,’ and ‘Thou Shall Not Lie’ in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians…It creates a hostile work environment.

The above witty quote illustrates a peculiarly American conundrum.

We US citizens have an officially nonreligious government enshrined in our founding document, the Constitution of the United States, yet one of the most religious populations for an advanced industrial nation. That dynamic opposition, historically speaking, has created an interesting political tension.

God As A Secular and Patriotic American

In the western part of United States, The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is the second highest court, ruling over 9 states and 2 territories. It sets legal precedents for all courts in the western United States, and lower courts are bound by its rulings. Only the United States Supreme Court can overrule it.

This court recently made the preposterous ruling that the phrase “under God” in the American Pledge of Allegiance is not inherently religious. Two of the 3 justices actually said that the phrase “under God” was merely a patriotic and ceremonial phrase, not a religious one.

Now American judges are supposed to be scholars of the law. Thus, for these judges to make such an obviously moronic assertion with a straight face is an insult to the intelligence of thinking Americans.

Surely those august scholars of the law can’t believe that to be true unless they have deliberately stupefied themselves.

I clearly remember when that phrase was added to our Pledge of Allegiance in the middle 1950s. Before then, it had not been a part of the American Pledge of Allegiance.


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