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Okay, I can’t figure out how to make my blog go completely dark, so this is going to have to do for now. Stop SOPA/PIPA! Fuck censorship!
If you’re on Twitter (which I just joined a couple days ago in light of the Iran situation – @janedoe_tcm), I recommend following @persiankiwi for English-language “tweets” from someone on the ground in Tehran.
Intense and disturbing.
I was going to write a blog post about how the Obama administration appears to be adopting the prior administration’s positions with respect to the illegal warrantless wiretapping conducted by the Bush White House, but Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com beat me to it, and as usual does a better and more thorough job of it than I would.
I suppose I shouldn’t be too shocked. Much to my disappointment, Obama did vote for the FISA “extension” last year that expanded the government’s wiretapping ability and exhonerated the telecommunications companies that violated existing law with respect to wiretapping following 9/11. So why should it surprise me that he wants to hang on to at least some of that power that Bush seized for the executive branch?
But it does upset me. I expect better from Obama than we got from Bush. Perhaps that’s naive. Differences (and there are many) aside, Obama is a politician, just like Bush. Why would he want to give up power?
The Al-Haramain case may well be, as Greenwald says, “the only remaining case against the Government with any real chance of resulting in a judicial ruling on the legality of Bush’s NSA warrantless eavesdropping program.” From the perspective of all who care about constitutional rights, that is reason enough to want it to move forward.
So why is the Obama administration trying to shut it down?
September 2, 2008 in 2008 elections, Authoritarianism, Big Brother, Civil rights, Declaration of Independence, Democratic convention, Fear, Insanity, Police state, Religion, Republican convention | 2 comments
I missed this from the Denver Post last week because I don’t subscribe to any Colorado newspapers (I have no bird cages and thus no use for the local news), but I saw a post about it in my new favorite blog, No Blood for Hubris (another Buddhist blogger – yay! plus, gotta love the title). It’s the account of a protester who was arrested last week by the Denver PD for exercising his first amendment rights. A quick exerpt:
“The first thing I really noticed was at Civic Center Park when I was in the ‘Food Not Bombs’ area. The police seemed to be ready for conflict. They walked through the ‘Food Not Bombs’ crowd, which was a peaceful group, holding their weapons out and looking at people, really intensely, trying to intimidate everyone. It made us all a little worried.
“I was planning to march with the group that night. We all had different reasons for being there. I was marching to make people aware that they should be worried about our civil rights being stripped systematically right now, and show people that habeas corpus is six feet under. I just think the time we live in has so many deep-rooted problems that I don’t understand how people can NOT protest. I’d never been arrested before, and I have no criminal record or significant run-ins with the law.
“Everything happened really fast. We knew there were police behind us, and that presence was growing larger, with more police, but then suddenly there were police in front of us at the other end of the block. Shortly after that, the police encircled us. A lot of people were able to escape before they closed the circle, but the rest of us were inside, along with a journalist from Brooklyn, and a woman who started writing on her laptop about what was happening, and some photographers. There were many people who weren’t protesters, just citizens, who were in the encircled group.
“We moved to the sidewalk – a few people stayed in the street – because we didn’t want a confrontation, but it didn’t matter.
“People started pleading: ‘Let me go,’ ‘I want to go home.’ The police started using the pepper spray. Some of the police on horses were whacking people with their batons. I was told later that the police were telling us to disperse, but I didn’t hear them say that. And where would we go? The police were all around us, not letting us leave.
So it’s not just the St. Paul police, though obviously the SPPD have been much more…what’s the word I’m looking for…brownshirt-ish?
It’s a curious thing, though.
In St. Paul, the police seem to be sweeping up everyone who looks at them cross-eyed, without regard for group affiliation, and it looks like the Denver PD had its moments with the lefty-leaning protesters, as well.
But both days that I was in downtown Denver during the convention, I saw groups protesting against gays (and the whole GLBT spectrum) and against abortion, right on the sidewalks where people were trying to walk. These protesters were a little intimidating and in-your-face (because, after all, they were telling everybody else on the street that they were going to burn in hell).
And all the Denver PD did was keep people out of the street. That’s it. No arrests. No intimidation tactics. No hassling the right-wing protesters.
Who do they go after?
Not the anti-abortion people, in spite of the violent tactics often associated with their movement. Not the people preaching hatred and intolerance.
They went after the peace activists. The journalists. The bloggers. The people calling for health care reform. The people calling for economic reform. The people who usually make a point of being non-violent in their protests. Sure, they’re uncooperative, but they are not violent or destructive.
And yet the police are treating them as if they were throwing bricks and molotov cocktails.
America is getting scary.
Make no mistake about it, my friends. We are now living in a police state.
And the worst of it is that the people who are running the show don’t seem to understand that they are creating the conditions that are more likely to lead to open revolt against the status quo.
If you allow people to protest, they tend to think, “Okay, things are fucked up, but at least we can still say that they’re fucked up, and protest, and march, because we have our constitutional rights to free speech and assembly. We can work with this.”
But when you stifle dissent…well…
In a way, society is like a pressure cooker. You need a way to vent pressure when it starts to build up to dangerous levels. Right now, certain factions within our society are trying to tighten the lid on the cooker, to prevent that venting from occurring. Protests are the steam valve that allows some of the pressure to bleed off.
Oppression breeds subversion. Rebellion.
Update: I edited this post to give the source for the quoted text (the Denver Post).
September 2, 2008 in 2008 elections, Authoritarianism, Big Brother, Civil rights, Duhbya, Ethics, Fear, Greed, Insanity, Mainstream media, McCain, Police state, Political Weasels, Republican convention, Republicans, Terror Management, War on terror, White House press | Leave a comment
Well, my friends, I was unable to get myself to St. Paul for the Republican National Convention this week. It just wasn’t in the cards, financially.
I don’t know whether to be bummed or relieved.
See, the blogger/activist side of me really wants to be there with cameras rolling, documenting what’s happening outside the convention. Because there is a lot of shit happening that really ought to be documented. More on that in a minute.
Then there is the self-preservation side of me, that wants to remain unbruised, unhandcuffed, unpeppersprayed, and un-arrested-on-ridiculous-trumped-up-charges.
Though you can’t tell it from the coverage in the mainstream media, the St. Paul police (and, according to at least some of the reports, the FBI) have been totally out of control for the past few days, trying to round up anyone who might have an opinion before the Republican convention gets started.
They’re not just arresting the activists. They’re also arresting journalists – they got Amy Goodman Monday afternoon, and also AP photographer Matt Rourke. And anyone who might be trying to document the police behavior. I read one report that said one or more of the lawyers who have shown up to represent activists have also been arrested.
Sorry, I can’t remember where I saw that one. I’ve been reading blog coverage – since the mainstream media has been totally fucking ignoring this – more or less continuously since I saw subMedia’s early Saturday morning report about the first police raid Friday evening. They’ve done two more since then, and both are must see. Lots of other people have been writing and posting videos about what’s going on in St. Paul. Here’s a few worth checking out.
Here’s the thing that’s got me nervous:
Regular readers of this blog may remember that back in early July, I had a pretty severe attack of paranoia. I was expecting some sort of faked terrorist attack (or a foiled fake terrorist attack) around the Fourth of July.
My understanding of terror management theory (see more that I’ve written on this subject here) and my beliefs about certain corporate and ultra-right-wing interests had me quite concerned about one or the other scenarios happening, because frankly, the Republicans actually need a terrorist attack at this point if they hope to win this thing using their fear tactic (since obviously Mr. Get-Off-My-Lawn-You-Damn-Kids’ charm isn’t doing the trick).
Well, my paranoia’s back, and lately it’s all centered around the city of St. Paul.
Let’s see what we have:
- A Republican convention that most of the Republican “all-stars” (Bush, Cheney, Schwarzenegger, etc.) have backed out of due, allegedly, to hurricane Gustav
- A Republican candidate with all the charm of Oscar the Grouch – one whose Senate colleagues think is too hot-tempered to be trusted in the Oval Office
- A Vice-Presidential candidate who is already under investigation and an embarrassment to her party due to her family, um, situation
Plus, a whole lot of liberal/left-wing activists who would serve very nicely as scapegoats if anything…unfortunate…were to happen during the convention.
Am I being overly cynical if I say that somewhere out there is someone with enough money (and no moral compass), someone whose interests would be adversely affected if the Democrats take control next year, or even maybe someone who just wants to help Jesus come back to earth now — and that that someone may try to take a bunch of lemons and make lemonade for himself?
Now, once again, I want to emphasize that I am not accusing Republican leadership of planning a terrorist attack on American soil. I really believe that most Republicans who hold public office honestly believe that what they are doing is best for the country, even though it is really only what is best for their country club buddies.
But their there (jeez, jane, proofread once in a while, will you?) are some sharks out there who lack all conscience, and have a kill or be killed mentality, who would think nothing of a little “collateral damage” if it served their bottom line.
I hope I’m wrong.
I’m probably wrong.
But I’m not going to stop worrying until the current bastards are literally out of the Oval Office and back on the ranch in Crawford.
Or better yet, cooling off in a nice federal penitentiary for their various high crimes and misdemeanors.
But that’s probably too much to hope for, isn’t it?
P.S. I still wish I had managed to find a way to get to St. Paul.
August 27, 2008 in 2008 elections, Authoritarianism, Big Brother, blah blah blah, California fires, Cheney, Civil rights, Democratic convention, Duhbya, Economic mess, Ethics, FISA, Greed, hypocrisy, Impeachment, Insanity, Iran, Iraq, Mainstream media, Police state, Political Weasels, Republicans, War on terror, White House press | Leave a comment
Mr. Emanuel –
Today, you posted an article at the Huffington Post lamenting the fact that the cable news networks are covering the Democratic National Convention as if it were a sporting event. “This is Real News,” moans your headline, “Don’t Cover it Like a Sport.”
I’m sorry, but where did you get the idea that either of the party conventions are real news?
Did anything unpredictable happen? Will the convention settle anything that wasn’t settled back when the Obama camp announced that it had enough votes to secure the nomination?
No, to both.
Frankly, watching the conventions is a bit like watching a televised awards show, but with longer speeches.
Meanwhile, the Denver police are pepper spraying and using their batons on peaceful protesters. Wars rage on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush and Cheney want to start another war with Iran. The economy is in the toilet. Gas prices are so high they’ve finally done what all the screaming and yelling about global warming hasn’t been able to do so far – get Americans to drive less. High energy costs are driving up the cost of everything else, further harming the people at the bottom of the economic ladder. Political corruption is rampant. Companies like Blackwater and Halliburton are getting risk rich on our task dollars, at the cost of countless Iraqi lives, due to a war we never should have started in the first place. Our health care system is a mess. No Child Left Behind is wrecking our public schools. Our constitutional rights and any semblance of the personal privacy that was once considered our birthright as Americans are now in tatters. We seem on the verge of becoming that which we all profess to loathe – a fascist state. And nobody in the Bush administration has been impeached yet, despite numerous high crimes and misdemeanors.
To be perfectly honest, I think the cable news shows are giving the conventions about the level of respect they deserve. The only actual newsworthy event inside the Pepsi Center so far (that I’m aware of) has been Hillary’s speech, and that’s only because some of her fangirls just can’t let go and accept that she isn’t going to be the president come January 1, 2009.
Don’t get me wrong. I realize that the ultimate outcome of the elections come November is vitally important.
I’m just saying that most of what’s been happening inside the Pepsi Center for the past two days isn’t.
Cops of various flavors were out in force today, just looking for an excuse to try out some of their new riot gear. For the most part, they were hanging out in largish groups (typically 6-8), trying to look intimidating. Many were wearing full riot gear, though others were not (see first picture below). I took pictures of them until someone from the Secret Service told me to knock it off. Here are a few of my favorite shots:
For all the police presence, I didn’t see any actual trouble today. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there was no trouble, only that I didn’t see any…
…maybe I’ll have better luck later in the week…