Renactor/War Correspondent’s Authentic Civil War Dispatch Written By Thomas Martin Saturday

Posted in Education with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2014 by thomassobottke

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Latest Dispatch from Samuel Wilkeson of the N.Y. Tribune from Virginia– at Old World Wisconsin Site, 23 August 2014

21 August 1864
Near Petersburg, Virginia
6 P.M.

Three days ago, portions of Warren’s Fifth Corps ventured well out to our West and ran headlong into Mahone’s Division of Rebels. Just to get astride the Weldon Railroad at all was a wet, dirty chore in driving rain and thick with Virginia mud. As so often happens, the weather improved just in time for the killing to resume.

I found myself far too forward; well up with the 15th Battery, New York Light Artillery. These able New Yorkers soon had a whole brigade of Rebels madly charging our lines, and with as good a rendition of the Rebel Yell as ever I have heard were soon among us. The 15th’s captain bravely fought his guns which did much mortal work on our enemies.

The picture was one of total chaos, with nearly every single man on the piece nearest me dead or wounded. I had the thought to run powder to the gun but felt something hit my leg near my left ankle, and I too was down but not so seriously wounded to fail to witness the extraordinary events which followed.

The 6th Wisconsin was what little infantry supports we had immediately at hand. The captain of the 15th New York Light somehow learned that there were some old Battery B men in the 6th’s ranks and shouted “For God’s sake send them to my guns!” It all happened so rapidly that it was difficult to take it all in. When in the middle of a fight the mind plays tricks. Veterans all say that the only way to slow the carnage down enough to fight is to shut out everything else.

They must have, for then that gun was manned and firing well aimed shots at a retreating enemy, broken by the 15th guns, and the 6th, and 7th Wisconsin regiments, the 24th Michigan, and 19th Indiana of the old Iron Brigade of Westerners. Providentially, the brigade provost guard of just 75 men of the old 2nd Wisconsin Volunteers plugged a key gap in our line at the very last extremity.

Hundreds of prisoners were taken since we had our line in echelon, and they ran right into a ravine that was their undoing. That’s all I saw as stretcher bearers took me off the field and back to a tavern that defines much of the place, the Globe. It was there I met General Warren and learned that Mahone’s men had been most definitely repulsed, and that we now could, the General said, “hold this line whatever might come our way.”

So much that is a soldier’s, and by extension a correspondent’s life with the Army is just dumb luck, or providence that saves or ends men’s lives in war. My wound was not nearly so serious as surgeons first believed. A piece of shrapnel from any number of Rebel guns firing on us opposite our line simply embedded itself in the fleshy part of my lower left leg lengthwise, not breaking any bone or severing a major artery at all.

So here I sit in front of the Globe, leg bandaged and my wound beginning to suppurate, with what’s left of the 15th, and the 6th Wisconsin Light Battery that has come up to reinforce us since last night. Just now the Brigade Provost Guard, the 2nd Wisconsin, returning from sending our prisoners to the rear, came into this little crossroads most smartly and right quick with the quickstep. They’ve bivouacked just the other side of a stone bricked general store with empty shelves, and the owner long run off by our approach. A troop of cavalry as a scout just followed and are further up forward seeing what mischief awaits us.

Lt. Ryan Schwartz of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteers told me they’d have come up much faster but some as yet unidentified officer with no connection to this particular brigade sent them due north right at Petersburg before the mistake was uncovered, and they countermarched to our aid.

Most amazing here are the little children that have come out from various homes and buildings, even an old smithy just opposite of where I sit. They were so hungry that they greedily took broken pieces of hardtack. The 6th obtained some fresh eggs in the creative fashion veterans do, and boiled them for our dinner here this noon. A kind lady gave me some soft bread and hams no less, to speed my recovery. There was enough for the battery and even a few men of the 2nd. She is a loyal Unionist rejoicing at seeing our national colors again for the first time in three years.

I’m under a tent fly as storm clouds gather. I’d sleep in the tavern if it were not the scene of so much suffering of the many wounded and dying men from yesterday’s sharp fight.

P.S. Cpl. Horace A. Ellis of the 7th Wisconsin volunteers captured the battle flag of the 16th Mississippi in yesterday’s struggle. Captain Dailey, commanding the 2nd Wisconsin, seized another and was shot by the enemy commander when he refused to give it up. There are hopeful signs that he may recover.

S.W.

BURGER KING/TIM HORTON’S MERGER A WHOPPER OF A LIE

Posted in Community and Citizen Action, National Affairs with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2014 by thomassobottke

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What used to be America’s Burger King will now be a Canadian based company according to details of the recently announced merger with Canada’s Tim Hortons, the largest fast food chain in Canada.

While the merger of the two firms will create the third largest fast food corporation in the world and a greater competitive advantage for both in the marketplace, Burger King’s decision to move its corporate headquarters to Canada is what is called an “inversion.”

This is where a corporation moves offshore in order to reap huge tax savings. The United State corporate tax rate is 35%, while Canada’s is a mere 15%. Lower U.S. corporate tax rates to 15% you say?

Note that most corporations based in the United States already using numerous loopholes in the corporate tax code here on average pay more like 5%. Some, like General Electric pay nothing at all, while reaping actual subsidies provided generously by the American people at large.

What Burger King, and Walgreens are seeking here is not having to hire so many corporate lawyers and legal teams costing at least a billion dollars, sometimes more, just to research and find ways to lower their tax liability. Canada’s lower tax rate permits corporate entities based in the United States to move not only to Canada, but to other foreign locations where taxes are much lower.

Struggles for Justice will allow Republican conservatives to have their gleeful “I told you so” moment in arguing for commensurate lowering of the U.S. corporate tax rate.

But not so fast. When corporate tax rates are lowered or corporations move offshore, the net loss in tax revenue to the U.S. treasury has to be made up somewhere. And our readers no matter what their politics just felt a shot to their gut, and something removing their wallets and making a further revision in their disposable incomes.

Corporations depend on the necessary infrastructure to better market, and in doing so, get their customers to U.S. outlets of their firms as consumers. Can’t have a drive thru without good roads. Can’t have large clean water needs met without municipal water supplies . Can’t insure the facilities of company offices and consumer or client outlets without excellent police and fire protection. And inverted firms can’t afford to have their own security and first responder services where they sell the goods and services.

Gosh, Elizabeth Warren really knows her stuff. This idea was the basis for much of her successful Massachusetts Senate campaign which vaulted the consumer advocate into the seat vacated by Scott Brown upon his defeat.

Americans of modest means and thick waistlines do have the ultimate power in their hands. They can take their consumer business elsewhere. Earlier this year Walgreens announced it was moving its corporate headquarters offshore, only to meet ample evidence that this business decision would both lose them significant numbers of American customers, and tarnish the company’s image as America’s drugstore. They later announced they were staying right here in the U.S.A.

Today, Burger King announced that it would retain what they called “corporate operations” in the United States. When this sort of obfuscation is present pay close attention to Wall Street; pay very close attention to Wall Street.

By midday those who had bought significantly into both firms to reap profit were confused about that portion of the deal that would line their pockets still further. Behind the scenes investors were reassured that legal corporate headquarters would indeed be in Canada, while consumers here were being trolled to get hooked on the whopper of a lie that the center of corporate gravity would remain in Miami.

Don’t get hooked. See this whopper of a lie for what it is. Ted Kennedy in the last years of his life from the Senate floor made an impassioned speech on healthcare costs that could sum up what Americans of all political views should be thinking in regard to the whole range of corporate tax loopholes, subsidies, and corporate decision making that is inimical to the interests of the American people.

“When will the greed stop,” Kennedy yelled with a clarion call to action. “When will the greed stop?

Struggles for Justice
“Speaking for the Voiceless, Protecting the Vulnerable”
Note: The word whopper here is not used in a proprietary fashion, but in its customary meaning of something leviathan like or well, to most of us, “just really, really big!”

Tear Gas or the Ballot in Ferguson, Original Poetic Verse by Thomas Martin Saturday

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on August 23, 2014 by thomassobottke

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(With Distinct Apologies to Dr. Seuss)

I’m the policeman all shiny and blue,
sworn to protect myself from you.

All black, so big, a threat no doubt,
there’s two of them now
I let out an obscene shout.

Why then do they not obey my commands,
to get familiar with sidewalks
and sit on their hands?

Shot one, shot two did I hit him you think?
How dare he run away
he should be thrown in the Klink.

He stops, he turns, hands up he says,
“don’t shoot”
but I want to so bad, so it is
shot three, shot four, shot five and shot six,
is he dead yet or am I still in a fix?

We’re the police you know and our reunion
has come to your town
to rain lead on your Constitution,
but we can’t let you pass
till we’ve plied you with bombs,
and loads of tear gas.

What’s this?
No more riots, just people circumspect?
Just clean streets, a common purpose,
with love and respect.

Oh dear, oh my whatever are we to do?
they’ve gone to the ballot
they scream and they shout,
so wait till next year
when they throw us all out!

-Thomas Martin Saturday
August 2014

Struggles for Justice Will Continue to Report on the Michael Brown Case as It Unfolds

Posted in Community and Citizen Action with tags , , , on August 22, 2014 by thomassobottke

Struggles for Justice will continue to report on the Michael Brown Case as It Unfolds. The issue of Indian logos, mascots, and names for the use of other racial groups as playthings will also get coverage. Our nation continues to struggle with racial feelings and animus that exclude and demean in a time when that was supposed to be ending. The oppressed and unheard voices of those people will always make struggles for justice.

Ferguson: Centuries Old Racial Stereotypes Cut Apart Racial Divide by Thomas Martin Saturday

Posted in Community and Citizen Action, Essays, National Affairs, Race with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2014 by thomassobottke

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A Pew Poll on the Michael Brown Murder Case shows that more than four out of five black Americans favor a vigorous prosecution and arrest of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. On the other side of the racial divide, just 37% of white Americans favor that course of action.

The overwhelming majority of all Americans favor full equality under the law for persons of all racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds. But when called upon to give real meaning to that view, a great many white Americans cannot do it. This is a white problem.

White discomfort at being in the presence of black Americans, where those same whites are not in the majority, in predominantly black communities, is where they meet a set of racial stereotypes so powerful that they were forged for nearly four centuries of white experience in which whites were the dominant race, most of that time the superior race.

The segregated and in other places hyper-segregated communities black, white, brown, red, and yellow that we live in is also something that feeds the dark monster of racial prejudice. To be fair and honest, most black Americans prefer to live in communities where many black Americans live. No one has to be informed that white Americans hold by orders of magnitude an even stronger preference to live in white dominant majority communities. They do so in large part in order to wall off black communities, and what they consider to be what black people most essentially are.

What do white, more conservative Americans think they are protecting themselves from: ignorance, low intelligence, poverty, crime, violence, vice, and mayhem. And the seas of blacks who have not entered the white elite part of our nation, are also seen as less intelligent, more likely to naturally engage in criminal activity, to be shiftless, lazy, and only interested in taking white people’s money for the easy life of welfare and food stamps—refusing employment to pursue that life.

And well, blacks can be, you know, so different and sometimes so black. Lighter colored blacks are part of our common racial legacy, so prominent in the Oscar Winning Best Picture last year, 12 Years a Slave. All of us resist going there for any length of time as whatever our color, there are things in the centuries of slavery and then Jim Crow Segregation too terrible to dwell upon.

So when any white citizen who has not worked, lived, and spent significant time in communities where whites are few, these racial stereotypes come with them. Black Americans who are not part of that portion of the black community that was able to benefit most from the nation’s Civil Rights Years of the Second Reconstruction are essentially living in the era of 1960’s even now. They have in material ways been left behind.

Most importantly, white indifference to the nation’s blacks as a whole, have let simmer and fester real problems of poverty which are the handmaidens of crime, and a sense of hopelessness.

Essential common community and national resources have only been focused and available for that short stint of time during the Administration of Lyndon B. Johnson, who said all Americans should be in the same position to run that race of the American dream. Amazingly, this white Southern president saw the black people of his day as shackled to the starting block when the starter gun goes off. The Michael Browns of this world too often discover those shackles around their ankles.

This was the world of Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri. He was one of the luckier ones. He had no criminal record as a juvenile or adult. He had two good parents in his life. In communities with high rates of poverty, the fact that Michael was set to enter a junior college, however humble, and had just last June graduated from his hometown high school in Ferguson bears witness to a strong record of achievement that sadly many black young men and women of Ferguson do not have. Brown himself did battle against those long odds to the very moment he was shot and killed by a Ferguson policeman.

The strong presence of black men of all conditions in the civil rights action in Ferguson since the shooting have testified most forcefully that with white indifference, and yes, white hostility to who these black men are feeds into what Dr. King called that sense of “nobodyness” that yet pervades the black community.

Young black men live in a world of constant contacts with police who are too often white, hostile, and who see them by their racial stereotypes to the exclusion of who they really are as human beings. In a strong echo of the freedom struggles of the 1960’s, several men were seen carrying the sign “I am a man” in the immediate aftermath of the shooting when protests began in Ferguson.

But Dr. King, as does this writer, has faith that the Arc of the Moral Universe bends toward justice. But all of us must do our share of the lifting to bend it more in the here and now to make the lives of black Americans who see no meaningful future as they grow to young manhood and young womanhood materially, and psychologically experience that hope and the common fruits of those hopes so common to other Americans.

Optimistically, let us focus for a moment on the 37% of white Americans today, who can so closely identify with their black brothers and sisters. How do they do it? The rest of you ought to find out.

We are seeing in Ferguson a new generation of black leaders connecting with the despair of these young men and helping them to dream once again of a better future—a better day that will challenge the common experience of hopelessness and despair so common to their condition.

And we are seeing so many young black Americans rising to non-violently and affirmatively seize the day and prepare themselves to be Americans who might transcend those long odds that Michael Brown was so very close to beating.

Thomas Martin Saturday
For Struggles for Justice
Speaking for the Voiceless, Protecting the Vulnerable”

Absence of an Arrest and Prosecution of Darren Wilson Has Ferguson, Missouri Citizens Outraged by Thomas Martin Saturday

Posted in Community and Citizen Action, National Affairs, Race, The Faith Community with tags , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2014 by thomassobottke

Jay Nixon in Ferguson

At a Saturday afternoon press conference with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Missouri State Police officials, and local government officials in an area church none of the many questions about when Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown would be arrested and charged with murder were continually brushed aside. This, a full week after the shooting of Brown, under conditions where the shooter in the man’s death was immediately known, and is not in dispute.

Local people also learned that a midnight curfew in Ferguson would be imposed tonight, and that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon had declared a state of emergency in the city in order to preserve public peace.

What the layers of law enforcement officials fail to understand is that the fuel for all the tension in Ferguson is the utter lack of a credible prosecution of a man, who happens to be a police officer in Ferguson itself.

The autopsy by the St. Louis County Coroner’s office was completed at mid-week, but not shared at all with the media or the community. Brown’s body was released to his parents who are grieving the loss of a son. The significant thing in terms of the criminal investigation is that if the autopsy were not complete, the body would remain at the County Morgue. Ferguson residents understandably want to know how many times Brown was shot, where he was hit, and what wound was fatal if known.

Incident reports made by both Ferguson City Police, and the St. Louis Sheriff’s Department have report numbers indicating that the reports are now public record, but those reports have been withheld all week long with no signs that officials will release it.

When finally, the police officer who shot Brown was identified as Darren Wilson, who has six years of police experience and no infractions from his department in that time was released with a surveillance video that shows Brown and his friend in the convenience store near where the shooting occurred. Brown is shown shoplifting a small box of mini cigars and pushing the owner aside. It’s shoplifting plain and simple. Was this a “strong armed robbery” suggesting a much more serious struggle over the cigars? That is highly questionable.

To cloud and fuzz over the case further, after the release of the video, clearly made available to destroy the reputation of the young Michael Brown was obviously intended to lead Americans not following this too close to in their conscious or subconscious minds to say, “Well he was a criminal and really big scary black man. He got what he deserved.“

I’ve covered beats as a professional journalist for a number of years in my earlier life. I’ve run into incident reports being withheld for a short time, with officers writing them to be able if I had the ability to convince the police captain in charge of them, to find out some basic outline of what happened in a murder, until the report was finalized. But I have never, ever heard of doing so for a full week and suggestions made by the Ferguson Police Chief at mid-week that a toxicology screen not available for a month or more would control when any information would be released.

If I were on scene covering this story, covering the Ferguson City Police beat along with the St. Louis County beat, what we called going to “the cop shops” daily, and looking at the daily logs to see any incident reports worthy of putting on the air in my case on a radio news broadcast, I would be forced to tell listeners in blunt fashion that this lack of procedural transparency is not only highly irregular, but points directly to what might be obstruction of justice or gross incompetence.

And the failure of District Attorney McCulloch to even file a charge or charges a full week after the basic facts are known both strains credulity, and raises the perception, if not the fact that McCulloch might even fail to prosecute, and if he finally does, that citizens of Ferguson have every right to question the integrity of this investigation.

Ferguson’s black population saw or learned of a police officer who used deadly force repeatedly when the young man by three witnesses, not connected to each other report the suspect, Michael Brown stopped, and this after he was hit at least once, and on his knees pleaded for the officer NOT to shoot him as an unarmed person. He also had put his hands, minus anything up in what is the commonly understood signal he was surrendering to the officer, and would be compliant to being cuffed and taken to headquarters in the back of a police cruiser.

That’s the core of it. Why did Darren Wilson continue to fire multiple shots into Michael Brown when deadly force was so patently unnecessary to put him into custody and into the justice system to himself be charged and arraigned post haste.

The Justice Department and some forty plus agents of the FBI are canvassing the city for witnesses. They’ve already questioned and have material for reports on the three main eyewitnesses. But as black witnesses even in the Twenty-first century are far from equal to even one white witness, the FBI knows they need two or three more.

Governor Jay Nixon centered the press conference on what he had done to enforce the curfew and keep the peace. Captain Ron Johnson of his State Patrol also answered questions but it was obvious to this reporter that they have him under tight restraints in doing a thing related to the actual investigation.
More than one questioner asked by almost yelling at the podium that there would be no peace without a measure of justice, and information as to how justice is actually proceeding in this case. Sadly, Nixon continued to assert that peace must come first, and that there is some improbable future date, unknown to him (The Governor of the State of Missouri) when an arrest, if one will ever be made, will happen.

Remember it took Sanford Florida police and the county District Attorney 38 days to actually make the arrest of George Zimmerman, who was declared by a jury verdict not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin, but was actually acting under his right to defend himself. We at Struggles for Justice accept the verdict of the jury, however inadequate it seems. It is the eerily similar problem in Ferguson that raises a set of huge legal and moral questions about the Brown shooting.

Until officials start sharing what should have been available within the first few days of the investigation, Ferguson will be a tinder box. The people there need a sign of justice, however small, to remain peaceful and hopeful that full justice will be done eventually .

Thomas Martin Saturday
for Struggles for Justice
“Speaking for the Voiceless, Protecting the Vulnerable”

Michael Brown Police Killing Looking Increasingly Like Murder by Thomas Martin Saturday

Posted in Community and Citizen Action, National Affairs, Race with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2014 by thomassobottke

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Emerging details of what allegedly occurred between a Ferguson, Missouri police officer, and 18-year-old Michael Brown of that same municipality, are so strongly suggestive of murder, that the arrest of the officer involved must be made post haste for justice to be done

There is more than enough evidence to take him into custody and to arraign him on charges appropriate to the offense, which would have to be criminal if this was anything less than a fully justified shooting. Will the District Attorney choose to prosecute? None of us can make that decision for him. Yet, the Federal Justice Department is employing the FBI to learn if a civil rights violation did in fact occur, and is monitoring the fidelity of local justice officials to a proper criminal investigation, along with whether or not the officer doing the shooting was justified where deadly force was used.

Police and county officials in this suburban area of St. Louis, where 70% of the population is black, have confirmed at least this much:

The original altercation with an unarmed young adult male black identified as Michael Brown was over the policeman’s order to move to the sidewalk. We know start to finish Brown was unarmed. Authorities have confirmed that at least two shots were fired at Brown, one from inside the police car, and that one of the two shots struck Brown.

Michael Brown’s decision to run most obviously was over self-preservation, and not any desire to obstruct justice.

The officer pursued Brown in the direction he ran in. Several more shots were fired hitting Brown, and he died at that second shooting scene. There are witnesses to this, and they have yet to be interviewed days after the shooting.

The officer who did the shooting is known, and the results of a full autopsy by the County Coroner’s Office is finished and known. Neither the identity of the police officer or the autopsy results have been communicated to the community. This only raises civic and racial tensions to dangerous levels in and of itself. Full transparency in communicating with citizens about this disturbing case is badly needed.

Police officers nationwide will tell you that murders or deaths must be investigated, and that getting as many of the facts and apprehending guilty parties are best done in just the first 48 hours. That deadline has long past.

It now appears that Brown’s body was left at the scene for some hours. And that the officer concerned whoever he is, did not call for backup in a pursuit where shots had been fired. This is not legally required, but no police departments I know of would tell you this is anything approaching near normal operating procedure. We have all seen police officers wisely call for and get backup on the most routine traffic stop.

Obviously, any police department faced with even the distinct possibility or certitude that one of their officers pursued an unarmed man and shot him down in cold blood, rather than getting backup, continuing the pursuit, and using a level of force well below what was used here raises extremely serious questions about the policing in this town and the county. The treatment of black men by police is most seriously implicated in this case.

Ferguson’s black community see themselves as both a voiceless and featureless population, denied their common humanity and dignity. The case for this voicelessness, vulnerability, and the immense injustice here is so manifest that it need not be made at all. This criminal injustice system, as I call it, shows a level of injustice that is immense in scope.

The larger view here is that black men, as the grandfather of Michael Brown said last night in an interview, seem to have a mark upon them that says to officers “kill me.”

We have driving while black, Trayvon Martin put walking while black into focus, and in so many cases for so many years black men merely existing in places generates a disproportionate amount of policing, and the use of force far in excess of what is required, especially compared to comparable white citizens.

Just a week ago, an unarmed black man violating a New York City ordnance to sell unpacked cigarettes on the street was put into a fatal choke hold, when three or even four officers were there who assisted the officer using the choke hold to make the arrest. It should be factually noted that chokeholds have been barred from policing in the city entirely for some time. That case is being investigated, with a looming expectation that the officer employing the chokehold will not be held accountable. This case is not necessarily murder, but acts which led to the death of an unarmed man. That man was a large black man. So the arrest by multiple officers was fully justified if they did have more than reasonable concerns that his arguing with them necessitated an arrest.

There have been far too many black men shot down, brutally killed in so many cases where this level of force is, on its face, not justified, that our perceptions as a society of adult black men or even teenage boys by police connected to the policing itself is a national issue that must be addressed now.

What can I say about this state of affairs? Any sentient being occupying these United States knows full well that police routinely use excessive force in thousands upon thousands (but not all) interactions they have with black men.

It has been open season on black men from the white dominant society from the first time they arrived in 1619 as slaves in Jamestown, Virginia. This is NOT a question of force used to apprehend dangerous criminals, who in truth do exist among citizens of all colors and backgrounds.

The salient point to be made here is that these acts plainly violate both their Constitutional rights as citizens, and more important still, the human rights extended to us all by our Creator.

Thomas Martin Saturday
for Struggles for Justice
“Speaking for the Voiceless, Protecting the Vulnerable”

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