Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Stuffing the Djinn Back Into the Magnetic Bottle
Why don’t people get this, that the President of the United States is a radical idealogue who will NEVER let facts stand in the way of his bloody agenda?
"I still feel strongly that Iran’s a danger. I think it is very important for the international community to recognise the fact that if Iran were to develop the knowledge that they could transfer to a clandestine programme, it would create a danger for the world."
Wow, THAT’S the problem?
I hate to break it to that cokehead/religious fanatic/war pig, but the thermonuclear Ifrit have long ago made themselves known to people possessed of a modern knowledge of physics, mathematics and engineering, and the Iranians have long been a sophisticated, well-educated people. The technology is fairly well known, and has been for decades.
The problem isn’t “knowledge”. If that WAS the problem, then a whole lot of people would need to be killed, and you could start at nearly every large university (not to mention Pakistan, Israel and South Africa and a bunch of other countries).
The danger only comes when there is money, resources and commitment to develop and possess those terrible weapons, and as we learned recently the Iranians backed away from that commitment FOUR YEARS AGO. Four years ago, in other words BEFORE the supposed “Hitler” we’re all supposed to be afraid of was elected to his all-but powerless office as President of Iran.
Bush is dangerous. He’s a liar, or he’s a fool. He’s a bloodthirsty criminal, or a treacherous fanatic. He’s a threat to life on earth, and has a pliant mainstream press that STILL won’t stand up to him.
Take away the damned button from this murderer.
Impeach Cheney, and impeach Bush. The fate of the world may very well depend upon getting the capability to set the world aflame away from them.
Friday, November 30, 2007
No, not the guy at Clinton’s office in New Hampshire (sorry, no link ... go google or turn on the tube). No, not that ... US, all of us. Not just the United States US, but the whole human race US. Held hostage by these people and the politicians who accept their checks, the War Party in all of the various countries, dressed up in all of the various fake party labels and meaningless chitter chatter. Held hostage by:
The market, however, appears to have other ideas about how to meet the challenges of an increasingly disaster-prone world. According to Lloyd, the really big money - despite all the government incentives - is turning away from clean-energy technologies, and is banking instead on gadgets that promise to seal wealthy countries and individuals into hi-tech fortresses. Key growth areas in venture capitalism are private security firms selling surveillance gear and privatised emergency response. To put it simply, in the world of venture capitalism, there has been a race going on between greens on the one hand, and guns and garrisons on the other - and the guns and garrisons are winning.
According to Venture Business Research, last year North American and European companies developing green technology were neck and neck in the contest for new investment with those companies that focused on “homeland security” and weaponry: green tech received $3.5bn (£1.7bn), and so did the guns-and-garrisons sector. But this year, guns and garrisons have suddenly leapt ahead. The greens have received $4.2bn, while the garrisons have nearly doubled their money, collecting $6bn in new investment funds. And 2007 isn’t over yet.
Guns or butter? Well guns, of course. Want to know where your tax dollars go, where the foreign aid the US doles out goes? You already know.
The war parties are holding bombs and bullets and so many other instruments of death to the heads of every man, woman, child, plant and animal on this globe every day, and they will spend more and more:
Though 9/11 launched this new economy, many of the original counterterrorism technologies are being retro-fitted as privatised emergency response during natural disasters - Blackwater pitching itself as the new Red Cross, firefighters working for insurance giants. By far the biggest market is the fortressing of Europe and North America - Halliburton’s contract to build detention centres for an unspecified immigration influx, Boeing’s “virtual” border fence, biometric ID cards. The primary targets for these technologies are not terrorists but migrants, an increasing number of whom have been displaced by extreme weather events such as the recent floods in the Mexican state of Tabasco, or the cyclone in Bangladesh. As climate change creates more landlessness, the market in fortresses will increase dramatically.
The market in fortresses, and the market in resource wars: wars for oil, wars for water, wars for glory, wars for meaningless political posturing and “national pride” and religious zealotry.
Protest will not be welcome, and you can expect today’s little drama to be used to insulate politicians from us even more than they are now. As I just commented over at Mariscat’s salon:
They’ll start dressing the candidates up in motion-capture suits. There will be bidding wars for the best digital artists to give the candidates wonderful photo-realistic avatars (with more heroic muscles and abs, like Ray Winstone’s cartoon version in “Beowulf”) over their captured firm gestures and carefully-pointed thumb-and-forefinger when they make a point at their digital podiums, debating over high-speed lines each from their secured studios … with the poorer candidates likes Kucinich and Ron Paul represented by cheap Hanna Barbara style cartoon figures, mouths out of synch with their frustrated attempts to speak.
Security, you know.
It’s only going to get worse, and you can go over to Little Green Footballs, or Little Orange Footballs, and see the blog version of Stockholm Syndrome ... the captives unwilling to to even THINK that there could be anything other than their side of the One War Party. You can hear it on radio, you can see it in sheep-in-the-street interviews on FauxCNNMSWhatever on cable. There is no way but the way things are, and those who protest are going to get us all killed.
We’re hostages, only most people refuse to face it. Hell, they eagerly defend the thugs when the uniformed strongmen for the hostage takers violently slap someone back into line.
Pay no attention to that meaningless drama all over the glass teat today ... that is merely one of the captives acting up, giving the muscle a chance to show us that they are there for our own good, while the gold is melted down into bullets and enriched uranium and white phosphorus and held to all of our heads. Just be glad that you’re not one of the people that are actually being killed. Keep your head pressed to the floor. Follow instructions and you may just get out of this life ... well, not alive, but at least not in pieces.
Friday, November 23, 2007
The World is a Ghetto
Walkin’ down the street, smoggy-eyed
Looking at the sky, starry-eyed
Searchin’ for the place, weary-eyed
Crying in the night, teary-eyed
You can see the plan that the fake duopoly, the War Party, has in store for us, can’t you?
Over the past several decades, when confronting some problem, either real or imagined, the “solution” the Republicans and the Donklephants have created usually consists of setting up really harsh penalties for one group of people, another situation and solutions for connected, wealthy people.
The most obvious of these are, of course, the actual physical ghettos. Neighborhoods walled off and destroyed by broad new highways, symbolized by neglected high-rise public housing, blighted by the destruction of city services, redlined by banks and insurance companies ... distilled by the concentration of white flight and the heat supplied by oppressive police forces and our expanding industrial prison complex. They “solved” the racial divide in this country by dividing off the poor, the black, the brown and the red.
The drug “problem” was attacked with mandatory minimums, with heavier penalties for pot and crack cocaine, and lesser penalties for powder cocaine and other high-class drugs. Different solutions for the different class’ party pharmaceuticals.
The list goes on and on. For the poor, payroll loans, for the rich, bridge loans. The more desperate and unwanted by polite society, the more onerous the “help”. Heavy-handed police for the poor, armed with heavy weapons and tasers, and private security and prompt support for the rich. For working immigrants, humiliation and family-destroying raids ... for the wealthy patrons and bureaucrats of the our fallen strongmen, open doors and government support. When there is an unwanted pregnancy, for the poor, TRAP laws and crisis pregnancy centers. For the rich there are quiet visits to the doctor and a procedure that is only an easily-afforded trip away.
Anyway, you know the history, you get the idea, and now we will see the increasing ghettoization of speech:
Ms. Wright is a retired U. S. Army colonel and an ex-diplomat. After the start of the war with Iraq, she resigned from government service to register her disapproval of the war. With almost 30 years in the military and another 16 years of diplomatic service, you’d think she’d earned the right to dissent. Instead, she now finds herself on an international watch list because of misdemeanor arrests during anti-war protests. She discovered she’d been put on the watch list when she went to Canada last month to speak aboutof course -” watch lists and how people find themselves on these lists and are detained. “ In Canada, on her way to meet with friendly members of the Canadian parliament, she was detained and promptly put on a flight back to the United States. She’s been banned from returning to Canada for at least a year.
In Fayetteville, she mentioned her experience in Canada, while stressing the need to speak up before it’s too late about questionable actions by the government. She talked about the climate of fear in this country since 9 / 11 and how fear has been used to undermine some of our most cherished freedoms and beliefs.
We will be “allowed” some small outlets for meek protest. No one is going to shutdown the already mild assorted and sundry “leftish” press in this country. Much of it is firmly chained to the fake opposition Democrat half of the War Party, and serves to corral dissent and water it down.
Ms. Harman, a California Democrat, thinks it likely that the United States will face a native brand of terrorism in the immediate future and offers a plan to deal with ideologically based violence.
But her plan is a greater danger to us than the threats she fears. Her bill tramples constitutional rights by creating a commission with sweeping investigative power and a mandate to propose laws prohibiting whatever the commission labels “homegrown terrorism.”
The proposed commission is a menace through its power to hold hearings, take testimony and administer oaths, an authority granted to even individual members of the commission - little Joe McCarthys - who will tour the country to hold their own private hearings. An aura of authority will automatically accompany this congressionally authorized mandate to expose native terrorism.
Ms. Harman’s proposal includes an absurd attack on the Internet, criticizing it for providing Americans with “access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda,” and legalizes an insidious infiltration of targeted organizations. The misnamed “Center of Excellence,” which would function after the commission is disbanded in 18 months, gives the semblance of intellectual research to what is otherwise the suppression of dissent.
While its purpose is to prevent terrorism, the bill doesn’t criminalize any specific conduct or contain penalties. But the commission’s findings will be cited by those who see a terrorist under every bed and who will demand enactment of criminal penalties that further restrict free speech and other civil liberties. Action contrary to the commission’s findings will be interpreted as a sign of treason at worst or a lack of patriotism at the least.
Speech, political thought itself, will need to be walled off into acceptable and unacceptable, welcome and unwelcome. The Orwellian “free speech zones” that the War Party sets up for their conventions and appearances are not enough, it seems, so we must move beyond the redlining of speech provided by the corporate media and on to actual walls and rhetorical razor wire of the “Center of Excellence” (do they have the ghost of Orwell trapped in some kind of mystical prison in the sub-basements of the Capital that they torment to produce names like that?).
After all, the growing murmers of disgust with the duopoly are becoming a problem, the inconvenient demands for impeachment and peace ruin perfectly good photo-ops, and where there is a problem in the United States, the ruling classes build a fresh new ghetto.
Part of the Information Operation Roadmap (.pdf) ‘s plans for the internet are to “ensure the graceful degradation of the network rather than its collapse.” (pg 45) This is presented in “defensive” terms, but presumably, it is as exclusively defensive as the Department of Defense.
As far as the Pentagon is concerned the internet is not all bad, after all, it was the Department of Defense through DARPA that gave us the internet in the first place. The internet is useful not only as a business tool but also is excellent for monitoring and tracking users, acclimatizing people to a virtual world, and developing detailed psychological profiles of every user, among many other Pentagon positives. But, one problem with the current internet is the potential for the dissemination of ideas and information not consistent with US government themes and messages, commonly known as free speech. Naturally, since the plan was to completely dominate the “infosphere,” the internet would have to be adjusted or replaced with an upgraded and even more Pentagon friendly successor.
In an article by Paul Joseph Watson of Prison Planet.com, he describes the emergence of Internet 2."The development of “Internet 2” is also designed to create an online caste system whereby the old Internet hubs would be allowed to break down and die, forcing people to use the new taxable, censored and regulated world wide web. If you’re struggling to comprehend exactly what the Internet will look like in five years unless we resist this, just look at China and their latest efforts to completely eliminate dissent and anonymity on the web."
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Top of the Class, I Hope
Friday, November 16, 2007
Oh, that mean old media, slapping around the beleaguered Donks and the big bad Wolf “forcing” questions into the mouths of poor widdle college girls:
"CNN ran out of time and used me to “close” the debate with the pearls/diamonds question. Seconds later this girl comes up to me and says, “you gave our school a bad reputation.’ Well, I had to explain to her that every question from the audience was pre-planned and censored. That’s what the media does. See, the media chose what they wanted, not what the people or audience really wanted. That’s politics; that’s reality. So, if you want to read about real issues important to America--and the whole world, I suggest you pick up a copy of the Economist or the New York Times or some other independent source. If you want me to explain to you how the media works, I am more than happy to do so. But do not judge me or my integrity based on that question."
What, was there a CNN producer with her fist rammed up your ass pushing some button on a pre-loaded question?
Was there a delay? Could CNN have cut you off on their LIVE BROADCAST? Would Wolf have come up to you and slapped you? Would that hack John Roberts have wrapped a cable around your throat and choked you to death? Would security have come up and tased you, bro?
So what if CNN chose the question? Big fucking deal, you little lamb. Would you have been blacklisted from asking questions on other
debates canned events on basic cable in the future? Would your financial aid have disappeared? Would you have been driven off into the desert in nothing but a thong and sunscreen?
Integrity. That is a word that is barely operative in this country anymore. The media has been forcing words into people’s mouths for years, and those with real integrity, even if they had real money at stake, took their shot and said or sang what they had to say or sing. Do you think if Alice Paul or any of the other suffragists had a national platform that they would have just meekly done as they were told?
You know, we always marched out with a little group. It is my impression that a little group in which Miss Lavinia Dock was one, and so on (I didn’t remember Mrs. Lewis was in the first group) but at all events, I know Miss Morey and Miss Dock were, and they marched out just as we did each morning, without any particular banner. That was the time they were arrested, because they had gone out in defiance and absolute noncompliance with this order from this Major Pullman. But we don’t seem to find anything in there about it.
There is a story on that day’s arrest. You are talking about June 25 Monday—
Yes, but that was of two people who were going out with a particular banner which was inflammatory, but I don’t think that that was exactly—well, it is not what I have remembered. I just remember having a long consultation, “well, what shall we do?” when we had gotten this order. You know, I couldn’t arbitrarily change the whole policy of the Woman’s Party. Everybody there talked it over and communicated with people like Miss Morey, who was one of our leading women in another state, and so on, who had always said that if they ever did start in to stop us picketing, we could always call on her. And then I think we got in consultation with these people, and then we had lots of serious discussion naturally, because if we embarked on something we knew we embarked on, we had to stick by it, which was going to be pretty difficult. We didn’t know whether we would get anybody but ourselves that would be willing to be arrested, which might have crushed the whole thing. So when we thought we had consulted enough people, then we just deliberately took about six women—about that number—that were willing to be arrested and who wouldn’t cave in if they were arrested. And they started out. But there is no indication in the Suffragist of anything like this having occurred. All we started in with was this inflammatory banner, [according to the Suffragist ]
No, that was five days before , when the inflammatory banner was carried.
Oh, it was. I thought you read that they had gone out with that inflammatory banner on this particular day and that these two people had been arrested.
A quotation from the President and one from Susan B. Anthony was carried on this particular day (June 25, Monday) with fifteen suffrage flags and they were displayed on the picket line—
Oh, then we had fifteen people. That was splendid.
Or maybe seventeen. Five of them were arrested, surrendering their banners, twelve were arrested and ordered to appear for trial when summoned. That episode was on Monday, June 25. Then two days later, they were sentenced.
People have so internalized submission to any kind of authority that it doesn’t even occur to them to go off script. “I’m on tee vee .... why would I take the opportunity to say something I believe in?” You can hear the sheep baaaaa-ing everwhere you listen, while other people, banished from the media, are assaulted by fascist thugs trying to take their streets, their nation, back.
The only integrity a sheep knows is the motion of the herd, and changing course or striking out on her own isn’t even comprehensible.
People need to quit blaming their willing disempowerment on the media. That goes for the Donkle party as well as their eagerly (mis)led base of ewes and wethers. Break their rules or shut up about your willingness to be led down well trodden corridors of the hackneyed narratives of our supposed national “debate” and “free" elections.
If you get a shot to say something, take it. If you don’t, you have no right to bitch later when others call you on your willing capitulation.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The ABC's of Bullshit
Ok, I’ve had enough. I sat through a Nightline episode two nights ago and watched their lead story. Terry Moron (oops, i guess that’s Moran) did the opening piece on Georgia and the drought. The slant was that the governor of the state was urging everyone to pray for rain. The segment ended when Terry reported that the prayers looked like they might be answered. Now on ABC at the top of the hour Charlie Gibson repeated the story, saying the governor told the populace to pray and it has indeed rained. This was called an ABC News Brief. Folks, that isn’t news, it’s religious propaganda pure and simple.
May we please stop the religious superstition on our public airwaves pronto and replace it with facts. Watching my country become ever more problem riddled and instead of looking to actually fix our problems, we expect the Deus Ex Machina to descend from above and fix things that we should be taking care of. Man can irrigate, and we can work to fight global warming and many other things to help our environment responsibly. Prayers are something people can do if they so desire but we need solutions to problems and when a network does this it sends me around the bend. I have never in all my life seen this kind of irresponsible journalism masquerading as news. Taking back the media from the corporations and the conservatives is a huge issue for me and it’s getting worse every day.
I might add that we didn’t pray for rain here in the northeast and got a nice soaking last night, much more than the south did. Explain that Charlie and Terry.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
The Cancer Eating the Republic
THOMAS CAHILL: That all societies have a dream and a nightmare. And our nightmare has been, I think, our racism. We practically committed genocide on the people who were here, the Native Americans. We enslaved another race of people, the Africans. And then we dropped the atom bomb on Asians. We would have never dropped that bomb in Europe in my view. And I think that’s what proves the racism of it. That’s the nightmare of America.
The dream of America is enunciated by the great speech by Martin Luther King I Have a Dream. The dream is that there is no country on earth that has tried to actually embrace all the people that we have tried to embrace. All you have to do is walk through New York City to see that or any of our cities and not a few of our country sides at this point. We could be called the most racist. Or we could be called the least. We are both. And it always remains a tension and a question as to which side of us, the good side or the bad side, will win out in the end. And I think that’s true for every society.
Sadly, it is the nightmare we cling to, and the dream that we continuously abandon.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Oh, for Change to Finally Come ...
Oh, how I wish it would.
HOWARD ZINN: The word “accommodation” brings to mind the Democratic Party, which was voted into power in Congress in 2006 and which has shown us a pitiful example of what an opposition party should be, accommodating itself basically to the Bush and Republican agenda, accommodating itself to the sort of orthodox political notion that you must be timid and quiet and not speak the truth.
And the advantage of bringing back these historical figures is that these people give us an example. They spoke the truth no matter what. They took chances, they took risks. And so, we need to listen to them and to be inspired by them and to have us realize that wherever we are, whatever walk of life we are, our job is to speak loudly, to speak boldly, to tell the truth, and with the idea that the truth has a power which is very special, and if people keep uttering the truth, the idea will spread and a power will be created that even those who hold the reins in Washington, whether the Democrats or Republicans, will have to listen.
We need some truth. We need some resistance. We need, desperately need, some change. These are dark, dark times ... may we find a way to fight for something better, something real, something higher, because ...
... because we’re lost if we don’t.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Russ ... LEAVE THE PARTY
As stated on The Hippie Perspective blog, where I found that telling photo, he asks:
This pictures tells you everything you need to know about the pending confirmation of Michael Mukasey. Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer smiling, not really caring that they’re screwing up by voting for him, and Feingold caught in the middle looking pissed.
I really can’t give Feingold a pass on this, though. I’ve been an admirer of his for some time, but his quiet willingness to work so closely with the corrupt “leadership" of the Donklephant party is increasingly depressing. We’re past the point of quiet diplomacy and building coalitions. Does Party come before Country for Senator Feingold too? Is all the fine talk little more than sweet candy to keep the party base in line while the party works with the Republicans and Corporations on our expanding exploitive empire?
He needs to walk. Someone needs to, needs to start throwing wrenches into the gears from the inside, since it is painfully clear that they don’t give a fuck about what the citizens of this country want, what the supposed base of the Party wants. The travesty of the Mukasey nomination and that pathetic display when the Donks moved to kill Kucinich’s impeachment bill prove that the party will do nothing but continue to enable war crimes and growing corporate empire.
If Feingold is serious, he needs to walk away, quit, declare himself a Green or make up some new opposition party. Hell, at the very least he’ll be able to act as a bit of a counterweight to Lieberman, because without him they don’t have a majority. After Clinton gets the rubber stamp, Kucinich should walk too, and try to get as many of the more liberal members of the House to walk as well. Instant three-party legislature.
I’m not saying it will happen. Hell, I doubt it. Given that it won’t, the Senator is left with nothing more than grand statements and looking pained in wire photos.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Not a Leadership Void, but a Black Hole
The decline from Republic into feckless corrupt empire is demonstrated once again, despite the fact that there is ample precedent that torture by waterboarding IS already illegal, we get this statement of “principle” from the Senator from California:
"But I don’t believe that Judge Mukasey should be denied confirmation for failing to provide an absolute answer on this one subject,” Feinstein said.
Even the slaveholders who founded this nation said things like this:
Washington wrote: “Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to Complain of our Copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren…. Provide everything necessary for them on the road."
This nation has a bloody history, one of genocide and slavery and military adventurism, but there was at least the appearance that we were trying to evolve, trying to build a body of laws that EXPANDED human decency and a reliance on the rule of law. A history that demonstrated that we tried to evolve from things like the Fugitive Slave Act to the Civil Rights Acts, yet here we are, with the Senate (the body that was supposedly designed as a bulwark against radical change), bending over backwards to enable a lawless administration eager to return us to behavior more demonstrative of serial killers, brutal dictators and Spanish Inquisitors.
The Republic is dead. Do not vote for, or provide money to, the party that has enabled and sought to benefit financially and politically from the radicals’ putsch. The Republic is dead, there is only the Empire, built on the broken and tortured and imprisoned and exploited.
Of course, none of this is new, so just chalk it up as another demonstration of how far our ethical universe has collapsed into a black hole of realpolitik, dishonesty and greed, as the event horizon of our decline spreads and threatens to swallow all hope of a better future.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
The Death of Hope
We’re so stuck. Not a people, but a collection of demographics. Not sovereign citizens, but consumers and corporate assets. Everything that bubbles up gets coopted by corporations and the political establishment. Radio, newspapers, magazines, music, protests ... every “counterculture” can be twisted and used to sell something else, even your imagined future. Hippies, hip hop, punk, poetry, protests, blogs ... all easy hooks and cultural shorthand to rob them of any power to accomplish much more than make money.
Last weekend more than 100,000 people turned out in 11 cities across the country to protest the occupation of Iraq, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, among others.
Yet based on the miniscule amount of coverage the mass protests afforded in the mainstream media, it was as if the demonstrations never happened.
“Are the media ignoring rallies against the Iraq war because of their low turnout or is the turnout dampened by the lack of news coverage?” asks Jerry Lanson of the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR.
On October 21, 1967, almost forty years ago to the day, there was another march on the Pentagon 50,000 protesters strong, calling for an end to the war in Vietnam, which by then had already claimed 13,000 American lives. The 1967 march was the culmination of five days of nationwide anti-draft protests organized by the National Mobilization Committee.
It is frequently written in many places that people are complacent now, that no one protests, or supports the protesters. Yet in terms of numbers, more recent protests are often larger than the Vietnam era protests, all while having little noticable impact on the public debate.
Why this downward spiral?
Moyers mentions, and links to in the transcript, an essay by Maurice Isserman, who participated in the march on the Pentagon when he was sixteen:
Toward dusk on the evening of October 21, 1967, a burly federal marshal took hold of my feet, dragged me away from the plaza in front of the Pentagon where I had been sitting in, and pulled me down the adjacent embankment, before depositing me on the pavement of the building’s north parking lot. I was then 16 years old, a high-school junior from a small town in Connecticut on my first trip to the nation’s capital. I picked myself up — bruised, dusty, and choking from tear gas — and limped back across the bridge connecting Arlington, Va., to Washington.
I’m sure many protesters now walk away feeling much the same today. What was different?
The countercultural trappings were new. But there was nothing new — or, for that matter, necessarily un-Gandhi-like — in the theatricality of the Pentagon protest. Indeed, American pacifists had spent a decade crafting a politics of spectacle, starting in 1958, when three Quakers and a Methodist attempted to sail a small boat, named the Golden Rule, into an off-limits zone in the Pacific to disrupt a scheduled hydrogen-bomb test. The civil-rights movement of the early 1960s also displayed a flair for theatrical confrontation, offering a morally charged drama of redemptive suffering carried out at lunch counters, on courthouse steps, and in crowded jail cells across the South.
So there were precedents for thinking that carefully choreographed political confrontations between forces (and symbols) of right and wrong, good and evil, could have practical and desirable consequences. That was the background that shaped Rubin’s strategy.
Things did not go according to plan (a topic sentence that could serve to introduce a paragraph devoted to virtually any major protest of the 1960s). The civil disobedience was supposed to be an orderly crossing of a police line by those inclined to accept arrest. The remainder of the protesters would have to content themselves with standing within shouting (or levitating) distance of the Pentagon. No one expected that, with thousands of soldiers and hundreds of marshals guarding the perimeter, protesters would find a weak point in the line, an unguarded section on the embankment that led to the very steps of the Pentagon. A vanguard of a dozen or so protesters actually made it into the building before being beaten bloodily back. In the meantime, about 5,000 protesters poured up the embankment before a secure line was restored behind them.
There was, I recall, a scary sense of indeterminacy in those first few minutes above the embankment. Blood had already been spilled on the Pentagon steps. No one knew how the troops who poured out of the building would react to our presence, or whether they had bullets in their guns. There was some pushing and jostling, and a few missiles tossed from the back of the crowd toward the line of troops. But one young protester found a way to defuse tensions. Bernie Boston, a photographer at The Washington Star, snapped a photograph of the young man putting carnations in a soldier’s gun barrel. (Boston’s editors apparently didn’t think much of the photo, running it on Page A12 the next day. It went on to become one of the iconic images of the 60s.)
The difference is that possibility for chaos, for people to break the boundaries and put authority back on their heals. That almost never happens now, and the police are only too happy to use violence to see that it doesn’t. Since we’re all just catagories, members of demographic groups, “inside” or “outside”, interaction and the creative possibility of new avenues opening up for conversation between opponents just can’t happen. There is the status quo “middle”, and there is everybody and everything else to define that center.
There will be no flowers in gun barrels, no chance for soldiers or police officers to see:
John Patterson, a member of a military-police battalion from Fort Bragg, N.C., who took up a position outside the Pentagon that afternoon, offers a perspective from the other end of the gun barrel. “There was some stuff, bottles, etc., thrown in the first few minutes after we took our position on the steps,” he wrote me recently in an e-mail message in response to my query about his experiences that day. “But nobody was hurt, and it quickly stopped.” It stopped in part because the protesters themselves were yell-ing at the missile throwers at the back of the crowd to cut it out.
And, contrary to Reston’s influential account in the Times, Patterson did not recall any spitting by protesters. At my request, he checked his memories with other veterans of his unit. “So far, I’ve heard from 4 MP’s who were at the Pentagon in 67,” he reported in another e-mail message. “None of them recall seeing or hearing about anybody being spit on. One MP ... whom I spent considerable time with on the line, described the protesters as friendly and peaceful ... As another said, ‘If one of our guys had been spit on there would have been a retaliation.’ I have no doubts about that.” (It’s not clear whether Reston attended the demonstration, but it’s worth noting that none of the Times reporters who filed stories the day after the protest mentioned any spitting.)
Without possibilities opened up for fresh interactions, the opportunities for change disappear. Chopped up into characatures and commercial shorthand, protests becomes meaningless. The vote is meaningless, the press is meaningless and protest is meaningless, sucked of life by commercialization and the dictates of power. We’re back to where the abolitionists and suffragists were ... left out of the calculation and social conversation, except that they still had the possibility of protest. Short of a collapse of the current economic and political system, anything people try to do now just becomes fodder for an eventual Dennis Hopper style commercial.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Be Afraid of Afraid Americans
Well the war criminal was at it again today:
"Unfortunately, on too many issues, some in Congress are behaving as if America is not at war,” Bush said during a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. “This is no time for Congress to weaken the Department of Justice by denying it a strong and effective leader. ... It’s no time for Congress to weaken our ability to intercept information from terrorists about potential attacks on the United States of America. And this is no time for Congress to hold back vital funding for our troops as they fight al-Qaida terrorists and radicals in Afghanistan and Iraq."
Give him what he wants, or you’ll all DIE!
"Now we’re at the start of a new century, and the same debate is once again unfolding, this time regarding my policy in the Middle East,” Bush said. “Once again, voices in Washington are arguing that the watchword of the policy should be stability.”
Bush said any denial of war is dangerous.
“History teaches us that underestimating the words of evil, ambitious men is a terrible mistake,” Bush said. “Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. And the question is, will we listen?” [snip]
“When it comes to funding our troops, some in Washington should spend more time responding to the warnings of terrorists like Osama bin Laden and the requests of our commanders on the ground,” Bush said, “and less time responding to the demands of MoveOn.org bloggers and Code Pink protesters."
Well, he’d know all about “evil, ambitious men”, but yet again beating the same old war drums. Even more depressing was the bloodthirsty round of cheers and clapping that erupted at the mention of MoveOn.org and Code Pink.
People in this country have become some kind of weird mutant spawn of a lynch mob and a stampeding herd of frighted sheep.
Bruce Schneier nails the whole problem:
We’ve opened up a new front on the war on terror. It’s an attack on the unique, the unorthodox, the unexpected; it’s a war on different. If you act different, you might find yourself investigated, questioned, and even arrested—even if you did nothing wrong, and had no intention of doing anything wrong. The problem is a combination of citizen informants and a CYA attitude among police that results in a knee-jerk escalation of reported threats.
This isn’t the way counterterrorism is supposed to work, but it’s happening everywhere. It’s a result of our relentless campaign to convince ordinary citizens that they’re the front line of terrorism defense. “If you see something, say something” is how the ads read in the New York City subways. “If you suspect something, report it” urges another ad campaign in Manchester, UK. The Michigan State Police have a seven-minute video. Administration officials from then-attorney general John Ashcroft to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff to President Bush have asked us all to report any suspicious activity.
History shows that Americans are very susceptable to this sort of fear-mongering. Lynch mobs, draft riots, gay bashing ...
We lock one another up, sanction official violence, arm our police better than some countries can afford to supply their militaries, because we’re afraid of each other, afraid of different skin colors and different clothes and different smells and different languages and ...
And we want the cops to make us feel better, even if it takes locking up tons of innocent people, torturing people or shooting down “threatening” people. Tasers, rubber bullets, batons ... “please”, the mob cries, “MAKE US FEEL SAFE”. What does this lead to?
Watch how it happens. Someone sees something, so he says something. The person he says it to—a policeman, a security guard, a flight attendant—now faces a choice: ignore or escalate. Even though he may believe that it’s a false alarm, it’s not in his best interests to dismiss the threat. If he’s wrong, it’ll cost him his career. But if he escalates, he’ll be praised for “doing his job” and the cost will be borne by others. So he escalates. And the person he escalates to also escalates, in a series of CYA decisions. And before we’re done, innocent people have been arrested, airports have been evacuated, and hundreds of police hours have been wasted.
This story has been repeated endlessly, both in the U.S. and in other countries. Someone—these are all real—notices a funny smell, or some white powder, or two people passing an envelope, or a dark-skinned man leaving boxes at the curb, or a cell phone in an airplane seat; the police cordon off the area, make arrests, and/or evacuate airplanes; and in the end the cause of the alarm is revealed as a pot of Thai chili sauce, or flour, or a utility bill, or an English professor recycling, or a cell phone in an airplane seat.
Of course, by then it’s too late for the authorities to admit that they made a mistake and overreacted, that a sane voice of reason at some level should have prevailed. What follows is the parade of police and elected officials praising each other for doing a great job, and prosecuting the poor victim—the person who was different in the first place—for having the temerity to try to trick them.
For some reason, governments are encouraging this kind of behavior. It’s not just the publicity campaigns asking people to come forward and snitch on their neighbors; they’re asking certain professions to pay particular attention: truckers to watch the highways, students to watch campuses, and scuba instructors to watch their students. The U.S. wanted meter readers and telephone repairmen to snoop around houses. There’s even a new law protecting people who turn in their travel mates based on some undefined “objectively reasonable suspicion,” whatever that is.
I don’t see how we come out of this deadly spiral anytime soon. After all, being a terrified, violent armed mob is an American tradition.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Sen. Hillary Clinton dons boxing gloves while accepting the
AFSCME endorsement Wednesday.
Somehow I don’t think that this is what Joe Hill had in mind when he was fighting the bosses and their thugs:
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees endorsed Clinton for president. AFSCME’s nod is considered a major achievement for the Democratic senator from New York.
The union’s endorsement was one of the most sought after by the Democratic presidential hopefuls and, with another influential union—the Service Employees International Union—refraining from granting a national endorsement, AFSCME’s nod becomes even more of a prize.
The union is the largest for workers in the public sector, with 1.4 million members across the nation.
Clinton accepted AFSCME’s endorsement at an event in Washington Wednesday. Donning a pair of red boxing gloves, Clinton told the audience, "when it comes to fighting for America’s families, I’ll go 10 rounds with anybody."
Especially the base of the Donklephant party. People still think that the Clintons fought for people, despite NAFTA and welfare “reform” and media consolidation and ...
Why anybody votes for these people anymore I just can’t understand.
The union’s president, Gerald McEntee, told the crowd of AFSCME members “this is no time to take chances. We need someone who knows how to fight and indeed knows how to win.”
“Sen. Clinton is a seasoned fighter,” continued McEntee. “Believe me, she knows how to fight, and she knows how to win.”
AFSCME provides Clinton with another major union endorsement. She has already received the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and Allied Craftworkers and the United Transportation Union, among others.
Union endorsements are important. They mean an infusion of support for the campaigns, especially ground troops to help get out the vote.
Joe Hill’s Funeral - 19 January 1915
Of course, it’s silly of me to be surprised by this. Like many of the rest of the institutions of this country, labor is concerned only with connections and continuity of some form of the status quo. Hell, the United Auto Workers are signing onto all of the same wrongheaded moves they agreed to when they were confronting Caterpillar back in the eighties (I know people who were left in the wake of both those strikes and the resulting surrenders. None of them, suffice to say, worked for Caterpillar for much longer).
“The UAW is a really strong union, and it may be the last really effective labor union in the United States, so if they give up the ghost this is really going to be a watershed moment,” Laszewski said. “If and when the UAW makes a deal with the auto companies there will be a template for all the rest, and it’s really over everywhere.”
However, a health care trust can run out of money, as happened to manufacturing giant Caterpillar in October 2004, leading to higher health care contributions for retirees. The level of funding for a GM trust, now under negotiation, is probably the current sticking point in talks, analysts say. The cash-strapped company can’t afford to go pay too much, while the battered union can’t sell its members on a funding level that’s too low.
Not to mention the effect of a two-tiered wage system on workers, their families and communities. Isn’t the whole POINT of a union solidarity as a counterweight to the overwhelming weight of capital?
On January 13, 1874 a workers’ demonstration
in Tompkins Square in New York City was broken up
when mounted police moved in, beating demonstrators with clubs.
Apparently not ... aging workers ally with management to sell out younger workers. Union leaders ally with politicians who champion free (for capital) trade instead of building coalitions. Connections maintained, backs scratched, table crumbs held onto while those left out have even less.
The only thing Clinton will fight for is Wall Street. Oh, and herself. Those gloves WILL NOT be lifted to fight for real healthcare reform, for real workplace protections, for a living wage, for a cleaner environment. She will fight for herself and the insiders in the cause of ever-increasingly bloated profits and eternal imperial war.
Shame on the unions. Shame on this country. How we betray the blood and bruises and stretched necks and broken bodies of workers who came before to get us the very comforts we now surrender.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Anybody with more self-respect, and spine, than the Donklephants would see this as an invitation to ramp up the pressure on the War Criminal in Chief:
"Congress is not getting it’s work done,” Bush said, flanked by members of the Republican House leadership. "The House of Representatives has wasted valuable time on a constant stream of investigations, and the Senate has wasted valuable time on an endless series of failed votes to pull our troops out of Iraq.”
Bush criticized Congress for not being able to send “a single appropriations bill” to him.
“They haven’t seen a bill they could not solve without shoving a tax hike into it,” he said.
Anybody who has been watching the theofascist imperialists over the last several years knows that the Republicans attack on the very points they fear the most.
Oh, how is a corporate Ass to respond?
Democrats quickly fired back. Jim Manley, senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said, “Taking advice from President Bush about fiscal responsibility and getting things done for the American people is like taking hunting lessons from Dick Cheney. Neither is a very good idea.”
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Illinois, issued a statement saying, “President Bush’s rally this morning reminds us that congressional Republicans remain ready and willing to rubber-stamp the Bush agenda: No to children’s health care; no to a new direction in Iraq; and no to investing in America’s future. The White House and congressional Republicans want to continue the status quo."
Dumb, lazy, stupid and clueless ... completely missing the point and playing into the petulant bully’s hand. What did Mme. Petain have to say?
"You would think that the President would take pride in the New Direction Congress’ bipartisan votes to make America safer by implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations, give hard-working Americans a raise by increasing the minimum wage, make college more affordable for many more Americans, pass an Innovation Agenda to keep America number one, and uphold a high ethical standard by passing a sweeping lobbying and ethics reform bill. The President signed all these bipartisan bills; yet now he calls them a waste of time.
“And the President calls Congressional oversight that has uncovered tens of billions of dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse in Iraq a ‘waste of time.’ We call billions spent in no-bid contracts to Halliburton a waste of money.
“Instead of criticizing Congress, the President’s time would be better spent working in a bipartisan way to end this disastrous war in Iraq, keep our promises to our veterans by providing the largest veterans’ health care investment in history, and providing health care for 10 million children.”
Gee, the bully accuses you of passing more programs and raising taxes (after slapping at what he’s REALLY mad about), and you all respond by EMPHASIZING passing more programs.
Way to go. What about Steny, political genius and suckler at the corporate teat?
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, issued a statement calling Bush “the biggest obstacle” to extending health coverage to “10 million low-income, working-class American children.”
Hoyer said GOP House leaders need to “stop posing for pictures, and sit down with Democrats and Republicans in Congress who are working together to extend coverage to our children."
Grandma’s chicken soup in every child’s pot!
Not that I want to write anything in agreement with Crawford’s village idiot, but he’s right. The Vichy Donks are wasting time.
They will pass nothing of consequence until they make the rightist spin on government toxic, and they can’t do that until they show how empty and corrupt it is. They can’t matter until they show that the Republicans are truly dangerous to civil society and human life. Running down lists of vetoed bills and grand plans for more tinkering with what’s left of the social safety net for a narrow band of the shrinking middle class is playing right into the winger’s hands, reinforcing a narrative that they have sharpened and used repeatedly for decades now. Remember how well it worked for Kerry?
They can’t do anything WITHOUT launching more investigations, REAL investigations, investigations within the context of an impeachment trial.
Of course, none of that will happen. At best, Waxman will fire off more subpoenas that will be ignored and strung along.
In short, little more than cute little animals slapping their little paws about to little effect, until of course the right suddenly pops loose with their claws and sink the teeth that they have used to all-too-powerful effect into the Donklephants’ collective throats.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
"Extreme Makeover - Disaster Edition!"
Oh, how it turns my stomach, even as it manages to bring tears to my eyes, not that I try to watch. Sometimes, though, on a Sunday night after a football game, as I kill time before Dexter comes on, I’ll flip through Extreme Makeover - Home Edition and marvel at the perfect firestorm of maudlin Hallmark America, rampant consumerism and disaster capitalism. Or, I can just wait until something terrible happens to a large number of people and turn on CNN.
Go to PR Newswire and click on Today’s News. You’ll be treated to stories about plenty of compassionate Corps reaching out to folks who are suffering dislocations and loss due to the wildfires in CA, including cookie companies, pharmacies, wireless users and even the predatory lender Countrywide.
Oh, am I being too cynical? Let alone that every newsbreak repeats the name of a cell-phone provider and an NFL franchise, but increasingly we’re sold during disasters the idea that volunteers and public-minded companies are the go-to providers of aid when the world is afire, or drowned.
Firefighting helicopters refill in a small lake as they work to
protect homes during a wildfire burning in
Malibu, California October 21, 2007. - REUTERS/Phil Mccarten
A society demonstrates its values by what it funds publicly. During this disaster, with it’s pictures of primarily middle-class and wealthy refugees, we’re sold the consumer products industries as saviors. During Katrina, we were sold security contractors, militarism and fear. What products are packaged with a given disaster is driven by the victims of that disaster, so during the current trials we’re told about cell phones and cookies and how diligently we compassionate Americans take care of pets and other animals. During Katrina, with all those black faces (and as people in the fashion and magazine industry will tell you, black faces don’t sell), we were sold fear and Blackwater. The products are taylored to the pictures provided by newsmodels between ads for SUVs and non-habit forming sleep aids (because you’ll need the help after the endless diet of fearmongering and stress from an increasingly ruthless job market).
The company stores are back, and the owners will dig their hooks into us deeper and deeper, every chance they get, even over the dead floating bodies and burned-down American dreams.